Goal #9 Go Camping
With November fast approaching, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to squeeze in my goal of going camping at least once this year. Luckily, it all came together last weekend! Eric, Sura, and I (plus 2 friends and their dog) decided to rent an SUV, drive up to Rabun Bald (near the TN border) and spend the night camping. So, why did we rent an SUV? Well, I’ve been wanting to hike up Rabun Bald but our small cars just aren’t able to auto ford through water or handle the rough terrain. While there was minimal water that we had to drive through, the SUV still came in handy for the rough bumps and for holding 4 adults, 2 dogs, and camping gear.
One person in our group never went camping before so Eric was excited to introduce him to all the outdoor fun. After setting up camp, they went looking for wood to build a fire while I stayed back with our other friend to prep for dinner and plan for our hike. You can either backpack up Rabun Bald (5 miles) then camp at the top or camp on the bottom and do the 10 miles round trip the next day. We decided on the latter because it’s a pretty steep hike up and asking someone to backpack on their first camp trip up a steep trail seemed a little demanding.
We enjoyed all the wonderful parts of camping: eating dinner, roasting smores, sitting by the camp fire, and enjoying the silence of nature. Eventually, it was time to rest up for the hike. The next morning, we woke up early to clean up our campsite and start our hike. It was beautiful watching the sunrise through the trees and there was not a cloud in sight. As we made it to the top, you could see the colorful trees and feel the fresh autumn air. I love fall!!
View from the top:
It was a beautiful hike and the perfect day to spend outside. We completed the hike in pretty good time and hopped back in the car to head back to Atlanta. Maybe next time we’ll try backpacking up and camping at the top since the views were amazing!
Finally we are able to enjoy the fresh autumn air!
We decided to take on a new house project…replacing all of the windows in our house. This one would be different from past house projects since we decided to hire people to complete the project instead of having handy Eric do the job. As much as he wanted to do it himself, we decided that with our busy schedules, it would never get done if we did it ourselves. Once I got over the initial price shock of how much replacing all 18 windows would cost (I had no idea quality windows are so pricey), we began doing our research.
We ended up going with home depot after hearing recommendations from friends and pricing out other companies. Home depot had good prices, experienced workers, and an awesome warranty. Plus after working with them, I would recommend them to anyone looking for windows installation!
Our house was built in the 1920s and I am convinced the windows were almost as old as the house. They we single-pane meaning I could hear everything outside, not well-insulated so we could feel the hot air in the summer and the cooler air at night was creeping inside, and lastly the windows were painted shut so there was no way to even open the windows!
Here are some before pics:
The area circled on the left window highlights the fact that they were painted shut along the edges. The middle window circle is to show that there is a weird lock on the window that requires a cylinder key. Basically another barrier to opening the windows.
Work in progress pics:
The picture below shows the added insulation
Our new windows open easily, are all screened, and the outside even matches our house color trim! We decided on getting double-pane windows with argon gas in between making them energy-efficient (and eligible for energy cost credits). It will be worth the extra costs in the long run!
So, after 2 days of construction (and a lot of banging noise), we now have beautiful windows!
Oktoberfest! I’ve always wanted to celebrate Oktoberfest in Germany. Sure, it may be a time with tons of tourists but it is still an experience that I hope to some day participate in. For now, there is always the Alpine town of Helen in North Georgia. While the Bavarian themed architecture are no comparison to Germany, it’s still a fun place to spend a day drinking beer and eating giant pretzels (I think that is all we have done there).
We ended up spending a beautiful afternoon enjoying the food and festivities with our friends from our last Helen trip. While it is no European getaway vacation, it was still a nice day trip from Atlanta. And yes, order the giant pretzels!
Eric and I are kind of competitive when it comes to certain things. For example, the other day Eric received a gift from one of my coworkers…a Georgia Tech checkers set. It is basically a regular checkers game set but the pieces are football helmets and you play against your classic football rival. In this case, it was the University of Georgia.
Our friendly match turned into about an hour of over-thinking strategy and maybe a little taunting from both sides. While we both had fun, sometimes our competitiveness can get in the way of what should be a simple and short game.
Lucky for us, we seem to work well as a team when it comes to food. For dinner we decided to make our own pizza. Not only are we able to customize it any way we like, it is a lot more fun to do it yourself (and much more affordable).
All you need is:
- Pizza dough (I bought a single package from trader joes for less than $2)
- Pizza sauce
- Shredded mozzarella (or whatever cheese you like)
And then whatever toppings you like! We chose
- Crumbled goat cheese (for my half of the pizza!)
- Preheat oven to 450
- Flour an area to roll out the pizza dough
- Add as much sauce as you like
- Sprinkle cheese
- Add toppings
- Bake for ~12min or until the cheese is bubbling and golden on top. We like our pizza a little less crispy.
I have never been to state fair (at least not one that I remember) and so I was intrigued when I learned about the Ga National Fair. The fair was about 2 hours south of Atlanta and would normally have been too far of a distance to justify driving for just a fair. But, we also made plans to visit a friend in the area so I was more open to the idea. It was neat to see the animals, browse the local stands, and snack on fair food. I avoided the rides/games are since it seemed to be packed with lots of families and their kids. We ended up watching a cow showing (I didn’t even know they did this). The cows were well-groomed making them look really fluffy and cute up close.
After walking around for a few hours, I was ready to head back home to Atlanta. On the way home, I tried thinking of another dish to use more of the apples. Since the baked apples were a tasty after dinner dessert, I decided to try something similar…easy apple cobbler. I ended up seeing this recipe at food.com and made my own adjustments.
- 3 large apples, sliced and peeled
- 1 cup all-purpose flower
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup smart butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Put apples in a lightly greased 8×8 inch baking dish.
- Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and egg.
- Sprinkle topping over the apples.
- Pour melted butter over the entire dish.
- Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Sorry, there is no picture. Eric ended up eating nearly half before I could even take picture! It was tasty, though, and that is the most important part!
Lately, I’ve spent some time brainstorming ways to prepare my fresh apples from the orchards. I wanted to try something simpler for this first go with the apples. We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and grilled a tasty ribeye steak we received through our meat CSA. It was a pretty large piece and definitely way more than enough for the 2 of us.
- 4 apples
- 2 tbsp smart butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350
- Core each apple
- Stuff each apple with 1/2 tbsp of butter and then brown sugar.
- Place all apples in a baking dish with a little water on the bottom of the dish (you could even put some apple cider instead of water).
- Sprinkle with cinnamon
- Bake for 30 minutes (we wanted the apples pretty soft)
The warm baked apples were perfect for eating in our sun room with the crisp air blowing through. Yup, it feels like fall 🙂
One activity I have always wanted to do is go apple picking in north Georgia. While apples are not necessarily my favorite fruit, apple picking always seemed like the best activity to bring in the fall season. A few friends of mine decided to head up to Ellijay, GA where most of the apple orchards are located. Because the warm weather has lingered, the apples came in really early so our apple options were limited. Many trees were empty and most of the fruit on the ground started to smell like vinegar. But, we still had a good time picking the apples that we could find. After filling our little bags, we went back to the main area for some apple pie, apple cider, and other apple treats (the best part of apple picking). (They also had pumpkins you could choose from)
After spending most of the morning/early afternoon in the orchards, we grabbed some lunch and met up with other people to run through a corn maze. This was another first for me. I’ve been on hayrides in college but never went through a corn maze. This maze was fun because at each turn they had 3 trivia questions that you had to answer. Based on your answer it would tell you which direction to follow. If you answered incorrectly, it brought you back to where you started. I thought this made the maze a lot more fun then just running around and guessing which way to go.
We eventually drove back to Atlanta brainstorming different ways to prepare our apples. While it felt like summer most of the day with the warm temperatures, I’m glad I finally had a chance to do these fall activities!
Next up…cooking the apples!
I still cannot believe it is already October. While cool fall nights have finally arrived, it still feels a little like summer during the day. I still have a hard time adjusting to mid-80s temperatures in October but I guess that is just something that comes with living in the south.
I LOVE to travel! To me, traveling gives me the opportunity to explore, learn, and de-stress! Luckily, I was able to spend a lot of the summer exploring new things, traveling to see both new and familiar areas, catching up with friends, and, of course, enjoying time with Eric. 🙂 So, to recap my summer:
- I visited Colorado for the first time.
- Drove up to Helen, GA for the day
- Spent a few days at Baltimore Inner Harbor. (2 trips) One for work and one for my friend’s wedding.
- Went to the Dominican Republic (for the first time) to be part of my friend’s wedding and to have some relaxing time with Eric
- Went on a road trip covering 2,423 Ga->MD->NJ->PA->OH->MI->IN
- Explored Chapel Hill, NC
- Visited Ohio to celebrate friends getting married
- Celebrated my brother’s 21st birthday in Austin, TX
All in all it was a great summer. I am now looking forward to our exciting round of fall trips. Hopefully the next couple of months will bring great experiences just like that past few months!
I would like to say that we are making stellar progress with the insanity workouts but unfortunately the past 2 weeks have been a complete bust. After arriving back from our trip to Baltimore, we both ended up really sick. I had a fever for a few days and could barely get out of bed. Usually Eric would be right there helping but he ended up sick too. So that knocked out about a week of workouts. We had every intention of starting the week over but then Eric had school and work projects and suddenly I was swamped trying to finish up a project at work. By the time we both got home from work, it was so late that we even missed having dinner a few times. To top that, Sura had some weird bug and was sick for a few days which meant cleaning up dog messes (it’s gross so I’ll stop there with the details).
Finally, there were no more excuses and it was time to jump back into our routine. Stress started to build and working out is really my only effective outlet. I needed to jump back on the horse! Unfortunately since we missed so much of the workout, we had to go back to day 1. It’s been rough getting through but I know we are capable of doing it since we were there just a few weeks ago. It’s always hard the first couple days but I’m starting to feel much better about it. Hopefully this time we make it through!
Oh yea, and Sura is also much happier now that we are all feeling better!