Ramblings of Family, Fun, Back to School and Dolly Parton...

Hi, friends!

Can you believe it is already on the backside of AUGUST!?!
My goodness, time just keeps flying by!
I hope this post finds you and your family all doing well, I do love all my sweet friends that I have made through this crazy blog. ❤

In normal Crazytowne fashion, it has been pretty busy around here!
I have started four different blog posts in the past three weeks & cannot for my life sit still long enough to finish any them!
So, for the sake of anything sane I decided to implement the Three C's here...Condense, Combine & Catch up in one quick rambling of a post (won't that be nice?)...

So, hey...here we go! 😉

Weekend getaway at Dollywood...

This past Christmas Santa brought the kids season passes to Dollywood as their "something to do" gift (the kids only get 4 gifts from Santa, smartest parenting move I've ever made) and we have been enjoying that beloved Dolly Parton all year long!

If you grew up in Tennessee in the 1980's, you might have had the opportunity to visit Opryland themepark (also called Opryland USA) in Nashville. We were VERY lucky to live just 30 just minutes away and went several times a year. My sister and I have the fondest childhood memories of visiting Opryland and share a true, unwavering hatred for it's replacement...Opry Mills...(hiss, spit)!

Dollywood is similar to Opryland in a lot of ways;
it's small,
slower paced,
and all sorts of wonderful bluegrass & country.

Last year, she & I decided it was time to make Dollywood our children's Opryland (and instead of that short 30 minute drive, we're hauling them three hours to Gatlinburg)...but the memories they are making with family are so worth it!

Most definitely, my favorite thing about our Dollywood trips has been staying at the new Dollywood Dreammore Resort!

Oh, friends!!


It reminds me of a Disney resort.

They offer all sorts of perks to their guests for visiting the Dollywood themepark, like free timesaver passes (like fast pass but a little bit better), free shuttle rides to the park, etc; in addition to a full schedule of events at the hotel like park ranger talks, kids crafts and nightly S'MORES down by the pool (they had me at s'mores).

The hotel itself is just gorgeous! They have a lovely outdoor pool with a lazy river and little kid water spout area, heated indoor pool, an beautiful spa, a huge kid's game room, a workout center, coffee shop, gift shop, ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS buffet restaurant downstairs and tons of really neat memorabilia from Dolly Parton's career.

I think my favorite part though, this hotel is staffed by precious LOCAL people. I always have goosebumps when I am there and realize how many jobs Dolly is providing for her community! These are good country people who are incredibly proud of their East Tennessee roots. If you've been wanting to take a trip to Gatlinburg, I have to HIGHLY recommend this beautiful hotel!

Back to School Meal Prep & FREEZING Food...

School has started here & CRAZY came right along with it!

Last weekend I got in survival mode & broke out my Pioneer Woman's Dinnertime Cookbook to get myself in the right frame of mind!

Busy Mamas, if you do not have this cookbook you need to order it RIGHT NOW!

In January the freezer went out on the fridge in our kitchen and being the absolutely spoiled rotten mama that I am, it totally screwed up my groove because...

FROZEN FOOD is my life!

I have been so incredibly grateful to my hard working husband getting us a new fridge this summer (especially after we found out that fixing the broken freezer on our other would cost about as much as a new fridge anyway, ridic!!).

I could write a very long post about my love for this Dinnertime cookbook, but I won't.
I will just say that I do a lot of the things that Ree does: stocking her pantry with staples and prepping food to freeze and it makes my life so much easier!

For example: I buy a HUGE package of ground beef at Sam's Club and cook it all at one time. When it has been drained and cooled I put it in gallon ziplock freezer bags and label them for the freezer as "Beef for tacos, spaghetti, chili etc". I also do a few with beef and sausage browned together for dishes like lasagna or manicotti.

In addition to meat, I also do a lot of veggie prepping to freeze. I buy monster bags of carrots, celery & I especially love it when I can get my hands on about 50 ears of homegrown corn to cream. If it looks like we are not going to eat all those bananas before they go bad, I break them in half & toss those jokers in a freezer bag as well for quick smoothies.

(&I cannot even begin to describe the wave of relief I feel some days to open that freezer and see that I don't have to stand in the kitchen and chop carrots or potatoes for a dish!!)...

That one day of meal prep time that I carve out is always TIME WELL SPENT!

If you lay your ziplock bag down flat in the freezer, it will freeze that way and be slim and sassy and save you all kinds of valuable space in your freezer.

Probably my FAVORITE freezable food is BREAD!! I buy four loaves of sandwich bread every time I go to Sam's & immediately put it in the freezer. If French bread is on sale in the bakery, I grab 2-3 of them, Hawaiian bread (which makes the most divine little ham roll sammich), hot dog buns BOGO, rolls, etc...I have our garage freezer stocked full of bread & it makes my life SO much easier!!

Meal prep & freezer food is a HUGE time saver when the going gets crazy during the school year, especially on days that you FINALLY get everyone picked up from all their stuff & arrive home to realize you've not given one thought to what you might fix for dinner!

Meal prep day is a busy mama's very best friend!
Add one to your calendar soon, you will not be sorry!

Do you have any meal prep tips or timesavers?
I would love to hear them!
I'm always looking for new ways to keep the crazy corralled! 😉

I just noticed that PW has a NEW cookbook coming out in October, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! You can pre-order it on Amazon right now for $20.39 (regular $29.99). This would be a GREAT Christmas gift for any mama or teacher on your list!

And Speaking of Books...

One of the highlights of my summer was serving on a launch team for Melanie Shankle's newest book coming out in October, Church of the Small Things (you can pre-order now on Amazon).

If you're not familiar with Melanie, she is the author of Big Mama Blog (so funny) and three delightful books: Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, and Nobody's Cuter Than You (also SO funny).

Part of my commitment to the launch is sharing a review on social media outlets.
I will be sharing a post exclusively about this book next month. This one is really special, I'm excited to share it with my book nerd buddies! 😉

Other News & Notables...

Miss O turned 15 this summer...

It seems like just last week when she made her first blog appearance (but it was seven years ago).

Don't blink, friends!
Don't blink!

P Daddy & I celebrated 21 years of being married to your best friend in the whole wide world!

And we've made some exciting additions to our backyard!

Backyard Beekeeping...

And Backyard Chickens!

They have both been pretty fun so far, but I am becoming impatient to get some eggs!!!!
Any chicken whisperers out there?!?!

All in all...
we've just been trying to keep it as simple as possible out here & enjoy precious everyday moments.

Because at the end of the day, that's what it's really about anyway.

If you're still reading way down here...
I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit!

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying those precious everyday moments too!

Much love,