Even though it seems like Mother Nature didn't get the memo, it is Fall in Tennessee. Time for bonfires, hoodies, football, and my favorite... pumpkin patches! Even though the weather still says "Summer", my heart says it is "Fall", and is yearning for a nice long corn maze and a stroll through a field of those glorious orange globes of Halloweeny-ness. Without further adieu, and in no particular order... here are my 5 must-see pun'kin patches in Middle Tennessee.
Shuckle's Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch
Located at 7526 Swift Rd. in Greenbrier, TN, Shuckle's has been our go-to pun'kin patch for the last few years. They have grown a lot in the years since we started going and never fail to provide a fun time for the entire family, grown-up kids included. In addition to the usual pumpkin patch activities, they also have games, face painting, and a play area for the kids(and adults too) They have snacks and drinks, and even a bonfire, and You can purchase pumpkins for a reasonable price, even the "fancy" ones.2019 MA
Cheekwood Botanical Garden
A Nashville staple for all things beautiful, Cheekwood presents their gorgeous Fall exhibit, Cheekwood Harvest. Per their website: "Celebrate the autumnal season at Cheekwood! We’re set to celebrate all things fall during Cheekwood Harvest, part of our year-round lineup of signature seasonal festivals. The changing of the leaves are one of many garden highlights you’ll find as oaks, maples, dogwoods, and other trees greet you with their fall colors. You’ll find activities and experiences designed to appeal to kids, adults and families alike, making this six-week celebration the perfect time for a peaceful solo stroll, a crisp fall family day, or an afternoon date."
Cheekwood Harvest runs through October 27th, and you can get more info and purchase tickets here.
A quick stroll down Hwy 96 to Franklin, TN will lead you right to Gentry's Farm. Gentry's has been opening their doors to the public for over 20 years. According to their website, they have all of the following activities available... 4 acre corn maze, mini corn maze, indoor corn maze, tire swings, hay ride through an historic farm, and lots more. Make sure to check their site for dates and times they're open.
Honeysuckle Hill Farm
Located in the rolling hills of Robertson county, Honeysuckle Hill Farm is the largest "patch" on our list. Boasting an impressive 200+ acres, they have everything from your traditional corn maze all the way to a zipline adventure course and a haunted attraction too! Activities vary throughout the day, so make sure to check out their website for more info.
Lucky Ladd Farm
Voted middle Tennessee's "BEST - Fall Festival" in 2018, and named as the "#1 Pumpkin Patch" in the state," by the Travel Channel, Lucky Ladd's Pumpkin Festival is the don't miss event of the season. Located in Eagleville, TN (Rutherford county, Murfreesboro-ish), Lucky Ladd's is a must see for sure! With the addition of their new apple cider donuts, this might just turn out to be our new favorite... maybe... I will report back as to the legit-ness of aforementioned apple cider donuts on my Instagram.
This is a collaborative post.
'Tis the season to shop for pencils and paper, new shoes and backpacks. Yep, back-to-school season has begun. Moms everywhere are scrambling to get all the necessities before the big day.... well... every mom but the homeschool Mom. The homeschool Mom is quietly biding her time till the wave of public school Moms subsides, then she will sneak in and rack up... for the next fifty-eleven years. We homeschool moms are notorious for collecting (read as: "hoarding") school supplies, so this post will include nary a pen or notebook.
First on my "must-have" list would definitely be a good laptop or chromebook. I know there are homeschool families that pride themselves on being "tech-free", but we are not one of those families. There are tons of online resources for homeschoolers and not just online games and video content, you can even print free worksheets, spelling lists, handwriting practice pages, etc..
Our days are very eclectic and relaxed. We use a lot of workbooks and online videos and library materials (books, playaways, etc) so having a movable work surface is essential. Micah has a lapdesk that he uses quite often and it even has a little area for his tablet. It's perfect for couch schooling or even car schooling. Yes, car-schooling is totally a thing.
The third item on my list is "memberships". Having a yearly membership to places like your local science and art museums or zoo are great ways to include enrichment into your lessons. Most museums have rotating exhibits; you could even make an entire lesson plan based on each different theme. This is a great thing to put on your kids' birthday or Christmas wish list. Relatives, especially grandparents, love gifting practical, useful gifts.
Fourth on my list is a good, sturdy printer... one that never runs out of ink. Yes, such a device exists. HP Instant Ink has saved my behind more times than I can count. It works on most newer (and some older) HP printers. Instant Ink is a monthly subscription that sends you ink BEFORE you run out. There are several plans based on your personal printing needs, ours is about six bucks a month and I can print 150 (If I remember correctly) pages.
Last, but definitely not least, is a good old fashioned library card. Libraries are not just book repositories any longer. Libraries have gone high tech and most have fast, up to date computers that are free to use. Some libraries even offer specially curated "curriculum kits" based on topics and grade level. It helps a ton around Christmas when lesson planning is the last thing on my mind. Our local library even has special events designed just for homeschoolers. If yours doesn't, talk to the children's librarian about starting some.
To all my fellow homeschool parents starting a new year... may the odds be ever in your favor! See you on the battlefield.
DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Savings.com.
I will spare you the cute anecdotal "frying eggs on the sidewalk" story. It's July in the south, it's like we're entering the fifth circle of hell... the one with the river and the stinky ankle-deep swamp fog muck stuff. There's nothing cute or breezy about it and everyone you come in contact with smells of varying degrees of B.O., sadness, and a longing for Fall.
Being a life-long resident of the south, I have picked up a few tricks along the way to help one stay cool and I am going to share them with you guys, here, today. Grab a pen and paper or open a blank text on your phone to save or screenshot, you will not want to miss this.
Tip 1: STAY INSIDE AND DRINK ICED TEA!!!!! Yep, that's your only option. Don't leave the house unless it is on fire (which might actually cool things down a bit). Having a baby? Deliver that sucker at home. Need groceries? Have them delivered. Basically, anything you need to do, do it before July hits.
Jokes aside, tea is a great source of hydration and is a flavorful alternative for all those "I hate plain water" folks and the new Tea Well line from Celestial Seasonings packs a double punch by combining health and hydration in one.
The new Tea Well line can be found at Walmart stores nationwide and come in five varieties.... honey lemon, lemon chamomile, matcha green, ginger mint, and turmeric spice. Each variety is infused with their daily wellness core blend of herbs and botanicals widely known for their healing and restorative properties.
I'm super stoked to try the ginger mint. It is a flavorful blend of Organic Spearmint, Organic Ginger, and Organic Moringa and would be perfect, poured over ice, garnished with a little mint sprig from the garden.
You can find all these new Tea Well teas (and your old Celestial Seasonings favorites) at your local Walmart store, or you can avoid the heat and jut order online. Click on the coupon below to print, and keep an eye out for another Celestial Seasonings tea coupon in your local Valpak mailer.
A huge "thank you" to the amazing folks at Otherworld Encounter for having us as their guests.
What do you get when you combine art, science, and fantasy. . . Otherworld Encounter . . . an immersive, hands-on, sci-fi art installation that you can experience with every single one of your five senses... and then some.
From the moment you step foot inside the exhibit, you know you are in for an interesting time. Your experience starts with a brief back story of the "project" along with a short presentation to get you in the right frame of mind to get the most out of your experience.
Once the curtains open, you are transported to a whooole other world of sights, sounds, smells, colors, shapes, textures....everywhere you look, something new and vibrant catches your eye. You can swing in the trees or skip rope with a friendly space creature! Oh, and make sure you dig through the glitter sand for a clue. (wink wink)
There are 18 total rooms to experience, each one with a different theme. You can skip rocks in a virtual pond, experience an indoor thunderstorm, sans rain, of course, or play music with unconventional instruments, and then, weave your way through an ivy covered forest to meet a very bright beetlebug.
Some rooms are even "play-able". Yes! You can "play" one of the rooms. Think: "full dome Galaga"... with you in the pilot's seat.
Otherworld Encounter invites its guests to become a part of the exhibit by leaving their mark in the form of funky chalk drawings with plenty of room for self expression. If you look closely, you might even see a secret message.
As you wind your way through the maze of different "dreams", you are urged to look for "clues", which are recurring themes and symbols you will see along the way. If you accidentally miss them, no worries, play the game at the end, beat level 10, all the clues will be there for you. Get the code right and you will be granted access to the secret room. There are tons of photo opps along they way and unlike most other artsy places, you are ENCOURAGED to take all the pics and touch all the arts!
After about 10 minutes of trying way too hard to crack the code, and after the kind attendant gave us way too many clues, we finally made access to the secret room. It was as if I was transported back in time to my teen hangout. So many cool things to see and do and experience. Worth every second of feeling "unsmart" whilst figuring out the code.
The boys and I had an amazing afternoon at Otherworld Encounter and encourage you to check it out for yourself if you're in the Nashville area, and if you're not, you can take a virtual field trip via social media postings. The encounter is running now through July 21st, 2019, and is located at the Fairgrounds. You can get more info and grab your tickets here.
A little about the amazing artists behind Nashville's OWN (Otherworld Network) in their own words. . .
"Nashville's OWN (Otherworld Network) formed in August 2018 with the combined passion of creating Nashville's first large scale immersive art experience. Thousands upon thousands of hours of work went into developing, building and operating OTHERWORLD ENCOUNTER.
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The temps are finally starting to rise a little bit here in middle Tennessee and my brain is all like... "Get seeds in the ground, now!!!"... While playing in the dirt sounds like a great idea, you can't just go throwing stuff in the ground all willy-nilly.... Welll, I mean, you could, but you might end up with a hot mess on your hands and plants that have no room to grow and other random issues. (Don't ask me how I know this)
Since the "morning glory fiasco of 2015", I have put a lot more thought and planning into my gardening... especially the planning part. It is imperative you know how big a plant (or veggie) will get when fully grown vs how much space you have, as to not have a mammoth plant taking over your garden. (One seed probably would have been plenty)
*Prep Your Bed*
First things first; prepare your garden spot. Start by pulling any weeds that have grown up over the winter and amend your soil with any nutrients you may need to give your plants the best start possible. Different plants have different soil requirements, some prefer compact soil, some prefer loose, loamy soil. Some need a high PH, some a low ph. Try to group plants with others that have the same needs.
Inspect your soil. Over the winter, nasty garden pests might have made their way into your beds. Mine usually have tons of grubs, slugs, and roly-polies. I toss the grubs in the yard for the birds and leave the roly-polies and slugs. ("real gardeners" are cringing right now, I know, but I can't harm the slugs)
*Make a Plan*
Resist the urge to plant things just because they are pretty. I know, I know, it sucks, but having a successful garden requires a little bit of planning. There are lots of things to take into consideration... final height of plant, flowering time, soil needs and water and sun-light requirements. You can't plant a tall plant next to a small, squatty plant, because the tall one will block all the light of the small one... again, don't ask me how I know this.
*Start a Composting Area*
If you don't already have an area for composting, now is a great time to start one. You can use a bin specifically for composting or you could modify an old trash can. There are tons of tutorials on the internet for crafting one at home. When I started composting it was eye-opening to see how much stuff we throw away that could be put to good use. If you live in a rural or suburban area, be mindful of securing your compost, lest you become the "crazy raccoon lady" of the neighborhood.
*Start Those Seeds*
If you're starting your plants from seed you will need to plan this step way ahead of time, depending on the climate zone you live in. There are several different schools of thoughts on how is best to do this, but I like old school paper pots or using recycled egg cartons. (If you do this, make sure they are very clean)
If you're starting your plants from bulbs, you might want to wait another week or so. I know if feels nice out there, but don't trust it... we're not there just yet. (speaking of middle TN)
*Start a New Project*
Now is a great time to start a new project in the garden. A new raised bed, a new planting area or even a new water feature. A few years ago, Micah and I made a cute little raised bed together... I designed it, he helped nail it together. That bed has seen many beautiful flowers, and has held our magic lollipop garden and has been a source of many many amazing memories. Gardening is an amazing way to bond with your kids while imparting an important skill to them.
DISCLOSURE: A huge "thank you" to Campaign Monitor for supplying the infographic used in today's post.
If you're a blogger, you know you have to stay on top of all the new trends in marketing, because not only do you have to create interesting content, you also have to make sure people are reading it! Blogging as a business is a numbers game. You can create all the beautiful pictures of roast leg of (insert random foul or mammal here) you want, but if no one is reading it, you're pretty much out of luck if you want to monetize your blog.
There are lots of ways to get more readers if you're willing to put in a little effort in the marketing department. There is tons of info out there, free for the taking if you just do a little research... or let me do it for you. (wink wink) First, let's look at email marketing campaigns. This is a good way to get the most bang for your advertising buck! So, what makes for a winning email campaign? Several factors come into play... design, audience, length of the campaign, lots of stuff. Since I'm a writer, and not necessarily an email marketer, I leave that stuff up to the pros. Using a service like Campaign Monitor takes all the guesswork out of crafting a successful email marketing campaign. Here are a few interesting stats I gleaned from their site that show email marketing is NOT dead!
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