Hiking and Autumn Leaves

Over the weekend Husband and I decided we had to go on a hike. The leaves here, in Tennessee, are in their prime. I can’t go anywhere without wanting to pull over and take pictures. I grew up in Southeast Texas where we have two seasons…summer and not-so-summery. During the winter the leaves go from green to brown and instantly fall leaving dead looking trees and no snow to liven them up. When I was young I dreamt of traveling to places where leaves actually change colors and now I just can’t get over it. It’s soooo pretty!

I made Husband pull over as we drove to the hiking trail so I could snap a photo.
I made Husband pull over as we drove to the hiking trail so I could snap a photo.

We are lucky enough to live near lots of beautiful hiking trails and decided to try the Garrison Creek Trail, which is only 15 minutes from our house and in Leiper’s Fork. Leiper’s Fork, a historic rural village is basically across the street from us. This old adorable town is located on the Natchez Trace, which is a National Park Service Unit, and is GORGEOUS!  It is impossible to drive down the Natchez Trace and not see tourists, photographers and hikers exploring and taking photos, and we were right there with them.

natchez trace

The "lookout" onto Leiper's Fork Bridge on the Natchez Tree.
The “lookout” onto Leiper’s Fork Bridge on the Natchez Tree.

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View from the Leiper's Fork Bridge.
View from the Leiper’s Fork Bridge.

We hike through the woods on an almost invisible trail. The storm the night before left the trails covered in dead leaves and mud so we were mostly guessing where we were hiking. The hike lasted for maybe an hour. It was really nice and beautiful, but HOLY COW, I was exhausted! I am still doing Insanity so I thought I was in decent shape, but the uphill sections of the trails left me out of breath and needing a break. Husband had to actually help me at one point.

walking me and pete 25 weeks

I may have been worn out, but I still enjoyed the hike. Belle was the happiest little dog. She got to run around chasing sticks without a leash, and so did Husband. Sometimes, we just walked quietly in awe of the fall colors around us.

model dog husband hiking sunshine dog

We headed back before the sun went down because otherwise we never would have made it back to our car. Even in the sunlight we almost got lost. I’m glad we got in a hike now, before it gets dark at 5 o’clock and the it’s too cold to enjoy it. What are the chances the rest of November will be this nice?

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Happy Hiking!

Cheers!

It’s Halloween-O-Ween Everybody!

Happy Halloween and Happy 30th Birthday to one of my bestest friends, Danica! xoxo

Here we are...totally acting our age
Here we are…totally acting our age

I love today! We have celebrated all month! We have gone to a pumpkin patch, carved pumpkins, been to a couple haunted houses (or haunted woods), celebrated at Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Party at Disney, walked with the dead at Universal’s Horror Nights and had a horror movie/whiskey night last weekend! This weekend we are going on a haunted hayride where you get to shoot zombies with paintballs! (For real!) However, tonight, October 31st…we have no plans.

It’s Thursday, it’s storming, we live in the woods in what most would consider the middle of nowhere (so no trick-or-treaters) and I’m pregnant… there just isn’t a whole lot to do tonight. I’m thinking It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, a pumpkins spiced latte and American Horror Stories are in the cards for tonight.

What are your plans for tonight? Anyone lucky enough to not be stuck in a storm?

Here’s an ode to Halloween’s Past (I have SO many costume pictures that I can’t find! I’ve been Miss Frizzle, Lucille Ball, Hermoine, Tinkerbell and so much more! These will just have to do):

Thriller! Halloween 2009 at my former job.
Thriller! Halloween 2009 at my former job.
Halloween in Albania 2012
Halloween in Albania 2012
Bumblebee and Ninja, Halloween 2009
Bumblebee and Ninja, Halloween 2009
An owl, also at work last year, 2012
An owl, also at work last year, 2012
A raincloud at work last year 2012
A rain cloud at work last year 2012

And, of course, Belle…

BumbleBelle!
BumbleBelle!

Have a Spook-tacular night!

Cheers!

Dead Land Woods

The night we flew in from NYC we were picked up by friends and taken immediately to a haunted house for a night full of terror and fun. We wasted no time during our two week vacation. A group of 7 of us drove an hour out to Lebanon, TN to check out Dead Land Woods and none of knew quite what we were headed to that night.

so scared

Dead Land has not one, but three very scary haunted attractions. It may have taken an hour to get there, but we spent over 3 hours on the premises, were scared to death and had a blast, so I say it was worth the drive. Let’s get down to the details of the night, shall we?

rules

The first haunted attraction (not house…it was mostly outside) was The Curse. The story behind this tour is that the road we were about to travel was cursed and so are the people on it. There have been murderers and lost souls along the way just searching for more innocent people to add to their despair.  It was similar to Monster Mountain, but better. There were more actors and many more scares. I think the walk through the haunted woods was longer too. The scariest part for me was when we had to enter an old haunted school house full of dead students that not only followed us, but breathed down my neck! Ugh, it was terrible!

directions

The next attraction was The Portal: Movie Madness. This was by far my favorite! In fact, this may be my most favorite haunted house ever! It’s similar to The Curse in the sense that you have to walk through the woods and enter lots of different scenes. The difference is that each of these scenes represents a different classic scary movie. I LOVE classic horror movies. This haunted house involved walking through Pet Cemetery, Arachnophobia, Child’s Play, Scream, Freddy Krueger, Children of the Corn and many more! It was awesome and so so scary!

portal

One movie they did not include? Halloween. I am so grateful too because Michael Myers is the ultimate scary villain in my opinion. He absolutely terrifies me.

run

The last attraction we did was The Maze of Screams. This is the least scary of the three, but it’s still fun and just frightening enough. They do not allow too many people in at a time which makes it more difficult and more exciting. The theme is clowns so every once in a while a creepy clown will pop out and let you know you are going the wrong direction. There’s also plenty of fog and flashing lights to keep everyone confused.

mazeofscreams

The best part of each attraction was the fact that our entire group go to go in alone. We never saw another group along the trails. The staff did an excellent job spacing people and scaring us A LOT as we came through.

The worst part was the wait times. We waited for about 45 minutes for The Curse, over an hour for Portal, and about 30 minutes for the Maze. It was worth the wait, but it was still no fun to wait around for so long, especially since SO MANY people were smoking! Cigarette smoke is the worst, especially when pregnant. Apparently, it’s the most fun thing to do while waiting in line for haunted houses.

Time for the score…even with the long lines and the smokers I am giving Dead Land Woods a 5 out of 5. Besides the fact that the attractions were great, they also had a concession stand with nachos and frozen snickers, a bonfire and a photo op. They get props for the extras.

bonfire siitinground 5skulls

If you are interested in checking out some scary haunted attractions deep in the heart of Tennessee then check out Dead Land Woods. Trust me it’s worth paying $30 for the bundle of all three attractions.

Have fun! (And please for the sake of all pregnant ladies and non-smokers…leave your cigarettes at home.)

Cheers!

Monster Mountain

I get scared very easily. We all know now that death and sickness cause me lots of anxiety, but I am also just a jumpy, scream-easily, sort of girl. One of Husband’s favorite hobbies is hiding around every corner of the house and jumping out and scaring the bejesus out of me EVERY SINGLE TIME. I have nightmares after watching Pretty Little Liars and I will not go downstairs when I am home alone at night. (Although, it’s possible this is just my clever attempt to get out of finishing the laundry.)

I get scared very easily, but I LOVE scary things. Not real scary things (like cancer or bugs), but Halloween scary things, like Children of the Corn and haunted houses. I LOVE dressing up, carving pumpkins, holding the covers around my face as I scream at Michael Myers and running blindly through dark haunted houses. I love it so much that I am dedicating several October blog posts to reviewing local (and not-so local) Haunted Houses.

OMG, so scary!
OMG, so scary!

My first haunted house of the season was Monster Mountain, located just north of Nashville. Before my Monster Mountain experience I should tell you a bit about the attraction. The idea is that you are walking through multiple horror movies, which makes you the “star” of each scene. You roam through “the cabin of the dead”, walk to “Voodoo Bayou 2”, find a scary side to Santa in “Krampus: Home For the Holidays” and even get a taste of the Walking Dead in “Zombie City 2”. It’s an outdoor haunted area that spans 20 acres. You must walk uphill, through some brush, over a “swamp”  and through the woods. However, there are houses and shacks every 30 yards or so that house most of the actions.

My face before entering the clown themed movie scene
My face before entering the clown themed movie scene

*Disclaimer: Like all haunted houses, there are rules. One being, pregnant people should probably not attend. Before, I get several emails and calls from my concerned loved ones I want to make it clear that this rule is only because of tripping hazards. I am not quite to the point in my pregnancy where I am unable to see my feet and felt very comfortable walking slowly through the scary scenes. I also forced Husband and Steve to each hold an arm so there was no chance of falling. Promise.*

They had a large TV playing scenes from scary movies to entertain us as we waited in line.
They had a large TV playing scenes from scary movies to entertain us as we waited in line.

Now, let’s get down to business. Monster Mountain is scary, as it should be. We tiptoed around corners, ran from zombies who followed us and argued over who had to go first (never me). I have two favorite scenes. One being the first house (cabin?).

 

As we walked up towards the porch we seriously questioned whether or not we were walking towards a real person’s creepy front porch. Then right as we decided to keep going, the door opened and a giggly bald overweight beat-up man stood in the doorway. He appeared to be out of his mind. A second later he closed the door and when it swung back open, he was gone and the door was left opened, obviously inviting us to enter. My second favorite scene was the Zombie town. It was like walking through a combination of the wild west and The Walking Dead.

scared

The sets were great! A lot of work went into preparing each movie scene. I especially liked that it was not just a bunch of fake cut-up bloody body pieces, there was more detail and interesting set pieces than your typical haunted house. I also like the fact that the attraction covered such a big area. It gave us an opportunity to walk through by ourselves. If we caught up with a large group in front of us we could just wait or walk slowly, allowing them to get ahead of us. Or, if a group caught up to us we could simply allow them to go ahead. Haunted Houses are so much better and scarier when you can’t hear the people in front of you getting scared by what’s to come.

I do have a suggestion for Monster Mountain: more actors. The actors they had were good, good costumes and good acting. There just weren’t enough. I am sure this is largely related to the fact that it is a large and spread-out haunted attraction. It would be difficult and expensive to hire tons of scarers, but there were a few areas that seemed lacking in that department.

There is a dance club scene that appeared to be just a dance club. There are disco balls, colored lights, great dance music, poles, a huge floor…and nothing scary. Obviously, we decided to have a 5 minute dance party and danced our hearts out until we were sweating. FINALLY, as we left a creepy monster came running out of a hole near the exit door scaring the crap out of us. I can’t believe the monster waited, crouched in that little hole as we took our sweet time partying.

The scariest part for me was the guy with a chainsaw. There are two things that scare me most in a haunted house, one is a chainsaw, and Monster Mountain has two!

Overall, I give Monster Mountain 4.5 out of 5 skulls.

4.5

 

I wish I had more photos to share but it’s not easy to take photos in a haunted house. “Excuse me, scary murderer holding a chainsaw, could you run out one more time, and uh look a little angrier this time, thanks!” It just doesn’t work.

Can’t wait to share more next weekend!

Cheers!

Who Carved it Best?

Every year Husband and I carve a pumpkin for Halloween. Most times it turns into a pumpkin carving competition. In fact, most activities Husband and I do together turn into competitions. This year we picked our perfect pumpkins from Gentry Farm and we carved them while catching up on missed episodes of Dancing With the Stars and eating homemade butternut squash soup. We’re a wild couple, I know.

MY pumpkin
MY pumpkin

We made sure to save and separate the seeds because I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Duckie doesn’t understand the word “no” yet… We tried to shoo her away from the pumpkin guts, but at some point we gave up and assumed she would taste the pumpkin and decide not to eat it. We were very wrong. I guess pumpkin can’t hurt cats, right?

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After cleaning, drying off the seeds (and sleeping for 8 hours…seeds take a long time to dry!), I roasted them. I tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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Now for the grand finale…our pumpkins!

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Mine is clearly the crooked eyed Minnie Mouse and Husband’s is from the video game Minecraft.

So, what do you think? Who won?

Hint: Me

Cheers!

P.S. You have exactly 90 minutes left to win a free Mokuyobi Thread Bedford Bag, it’s so easy! Just do it already!

Picking Out Our Pumpkins

Apparently one day on a farm with my parents just wasn’t enough. After our gender reveal party, we took them to Gentry’s Farm. Gentry’s Farm is a very large family farm that offers a pumpkin patch and a myriad of other fall family activities. I have never actually picked my own pumpkin from a pumpkin patch so I couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about.

gentry farm

pay here

It was a rainy day, but not enough to keep us inside. The pumpkin patch on the farm was enormous! We walked up and down the rows and searched through hundreds of pumpkins to find the “perfect” pumpkin. There were orange, green and white pumpkins. There were lumpy, smooth, big and little pumpkins. I couldn’t quite decide what I wanted so I ended up with a wheelbarrow of seven pumpkins.

searching

"Uncle Steve" picking some large pumpkins.
“Uncle Steve” picking some large pumpkins.

all mine

(BTW, these “pick-your-own” pumpkins are a steal! It cost $17 for all seven pumpkins!)

pumpkins

After our pumpkin picking we decided to check out what else the farm has to offer. It costs to get into the rest of the farm, but it’s reasonable ($7/person). Our first choice of activity? The corn maze of course! My Mom, who’s claustrophobic and not quite as adventurous as her daughter, was scared of getting lost or stuck. So, being the bratty children we are, Husband and I took off running through the maze, losing my parents the best we could. It didn’t last long…turns out my parents can keep up.

corn maze getting lost butterfly

We spent the rest of the time walking around the farm watching the families play. There are chickens, goats, pigs and turkeys. My favorite were the goats simply because their names are Lucy and Ethel.

lucy and ethel

There are so many fun activities for kids and families. There is a hay bale maze, a mini-corn maze, a nature walk, tire swings, corn hole, treats and of course the hayride. They also have a little market that sells pre-picked pumpkins and gourds and all natural farm-raised beef too.

welcome outhouse corn hall barn

While walking around the grounds we actually ran into Mr. Gentry himself. Mr. Gentry is so friendly and warm. He immediately started up a conversation with us and ended up telling us about what it was like to grow up in the Great Depression, how he lived off of catching squirrels and rabbits and how his life has been now on the farm. He is a very interesting and entertaining man.

mr. gentry

I loved walking around the farm and couldn’t help, but imagine returning next year with our little girl. I am certain this will become a family tradition for us. Baby Girl is going to have blast picking out her own pumpkin every year!

quote

Three generations.
Three generations.
Husband and his Grandpa
Husband and his Grandpa

leaving

If you are interested in visiting Gentry Farm, then check out their site for more info. Keep in mind that the fall festivities are open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and be sure to pack your camera!

goodbye

Does anyone else have a fun fall family tradition?

Cheers!

Brewery with the Boys

When our Tennessee friends were here a couple weeks ago one of them suggested going to the Brooklyn Brewery, to which I responded, “Brooklyn has a brewery?!?!” I cannot tell you how many times someone who does not even live in NYC has suggested a New York attraction that I have never heard of. That’s exactly why I love this city. I will never run out of new places to visit.

We happily hopped on the train and headed to Brooklyn one morning in search of this so-called brewery. It turned out to be a pretty cool place with a free tour, a bar, and an enormous sitting area. There were hundreds of people drinking locally brewed beer, playing card games, eating pizza, and just hanging out in the very laid-back atmosphere.

We had to purchase tokens in order to pay for the beers.
We had to purchase tokens in order to pay for the beers.

 

IMG_2805 (1)On the tour, which consisted of one big room, we heard the most entertaining and interesting stories about the history of this brewery. The guy giving the tour had a knack for storytelling. The room was silent as he skillfully described the history with impeccable comedic timing.

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Now I’ll do my best to give you the cliff notes.

Two guys (Steve and Tom) started Brooklyn Brewery. Steve live in the Middle East for six years where he learned to make beer in his bathroom, and Tom (a business man) had lots of money and wanted to use it to start a new hip business. They founded the Brewery in 1988, and moved to the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1996. It was the perfect place for their business, but it wasn’t easy to get their brewery where it is today. Williamsburg was a sketchy neighborhood during that time. They were held up at gunpoint by one of their regular customers, had a forklift stolen, and even a run-in with the mafia. Yes, the mafia!

Anyone who opens a business in Williamsburg apparently has to pay the mafia off. The Brooklyn Brewery boys somehow missed this little detail, and the mafia basically said, “Pay us, or pay the price.” After refusing to pay, getting a badass lawyer, and standing up to the mafia, Tom had a scary face-to-face with a mafia boss. They took Tom across the street, emptied a warehouse, locked the doors, and said “We’re going to have to hurt you.”

Tom obviously flipped out and begged to be spared. After a few minutes of freaking out, Mr. Mafia man said, “Just kidding. We actually like you’re brewery and think it’s going to be great for Williamsburg. We are going to let you slide.” Now, the mafia works security for the brewery at night!

I loved the stories, the atmosphere, and the beer!

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Cheers!