Thursday, May 29, 2014

thrift store shopping

Here are 10 tips for thrift store shopping:

1. Bring a reusable bag.  This may seem strange, but seriously, some thrift stores don’t provide carts.  The ones that do are sometimes set up like a hoarder’s basement, so navigating a cart in the aisles just isn't worth the hassle.  Plus, the ‘you bag it you buy it’ principal doesn't apply here.  You can always put it back after taking it for a stroll through the store.

2. Wear form fitting clothes.  A pair of leggings and a form fitting shirt go a long way when there are no dressing rooms.  If you aren't wearing baggy clothing, you can slip it over the top of your outfit for size and be on your way.  Plus, you can take it home and wash it before sliding it next to  your skin.

3. Remember, thrift shopping is an endurance race.  If you are looking to run in and run out, it’s not for you. Finding treasures is a labor of love–one that often times comes up empty.  Thrift stores change inventory daily, so be prepared to come back if nothing suits your fancy, and be prepared to dig a bit to find something that does.

4. Check the label.  Certain brands hold up better than others.

5. Inspect items thoroughly.  Check for stains, rips, chips, and tears.  Check that all of the pieces, buttons, etc. are there.  Usually, purchases are non-refundable, so give it a good 'four' times over.

6. Avoid make-up, mattresses, running shoes, underwear, etc.  There is no way to know how old make-up actually is, even if it does appear to be “new”. Mattresses are super hard to clean and harbor tons of ‘I’d rather not know’s’.  Running shoes are designed to support your body–they have a mileage limit, and typically they are used pretty hard before they find their way to the thrift store.  Underwear = Gross.

7. Keep a list of things you might be looking for {i.e. black sweater, white serving bowl, wooden shelf, etc.} Oft times when you get into the store, it can be so overwhelming you don’t know where to start.  A list gives you some focus.  {Don’t be discouraged if you don’t fill your wishlist right away.  Patience, young one, patience.  See tip #3.}

8. Test things out.  If you are buying appliances or electronics, ask to plug them in and give them a spin.

9. Have an open mind.  Sometimes, without the shiny merchandising, things look ‘junkie’, but a lot of times, they are just in need of some simple TLC.  Ask yourself, would a furniture piece look different with a coat of paint and some new hardware?  Would those plates look amazing paired with your place mats and bowls?

10. Make sure to donate!  Donate any unwanted clutter in your house.  Before I go to the thrift stores, I always grab the box of donations I keep in the closet.  It’s the circle of thrift store life, people.  It"s a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

VA Hospital, Asheville NC

After putting it off until it was 'convenient' I told Jim a couple days ago that I wanted to go to the VA for a health issue I've been having for a month or so.  The details aren't necessary and since I wasn't 'ill' I kept ignoring the symptom I was having.  I was pretty sure I knew what it was and I'd need an antibiotic for it, but I needed confirmation

This morning we left around 0900 for the thirty minute drive to the VA Hospital in East Asheville.  Easy drive made simple by GPS...aren't they the neatest invention?  We took our tablets and I took some walnuts knowing it would take time to get into the system and be seen.

Hah!  Once I said what I needed I was put into the system (which was the longest part of the process) I was sent to the emergency room and immediately given a cup to pee in.  Before I was done the nurse was talking to Jim looking for me and I was ushered into a room where she asked some questions, made some notations on my chart and took my temperature and blood pressure then ushered me back to an exam area.  We waited a short time here when a doctor barely out of grade school came and introduced himself, said he was waiting for the lab results and when it came he'd let me know.  Five minutes later he was back....confirmed my diagnosis and said he'd give me prescription and as soon as the nurse released me, I could go!

Just like that I was done.  I still had to pick up my prescription but the whole process too less than three hours.  We were home by 1300 and that was after a couple stops at the Post Office and grocery store.

If this is TMI (to much information) for this blog and my readers I just wanted to point out that I have never had a problem with the VA.  I have been to several facilities in various states and everyone was polite and helpful.

Once home we had lunch, Jim caught up on his blog reading and then took a nap.  I read some emails and blogs and then checked my eyelids for light leaks on the lounger.  

Being humorous Jim invited me outside to enjoy a cold beer before I start my meds....we actually sat out quite bugs!  Fed Boo and we also had some coffee before we came in.  Very nice and we talked about travel plans and we may stay here another week because we like the area so well.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lazy Sunday

How was your weekend?  We spent Sunday at home.  I did laundry, Jim tidied up outside.  He also spent most of the afternoon playing the's been a long time since he's done that.  So long, in fact,  that he had to set it up again.  He bowled, golfed and something else...Oh he hung up a couple bird feeders and we have a pair of goldfinches stopping by a few times a day.

For dinner I fixed enchilada bake and a salad.  I know we watched some NCIS and played games.

Memorial Day was spent quietly.  Our flags are flying proudly.  It's the first of our anniversary dates.  We've been together for 40 years.  Not many people thought it would last, but what did they know?

The weather has been perfect but sitting outside is a bit of a problem, we have to time it right to avoid the gnats! We lasted about 20 minutes today with our coffee before they found us.

For dinner tonight we're having sausage and pancakes.  Jim will cook the sausage outside while I stay inside (and bug free) to cook the pancakes.  We need to get a metal turner to cook pancakes outside on our grill.

I hope you took the time to remember those who have given all so we may enjoy our freedom.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saturday Excursion

After morning chores Saturday I fixed us a picnic lunch of potato salad, tomato and cucumber salad and a chicken salad sandwich for Jim.  We packed the cooler and headed south on the Pisgah Highway (151).  What a tortuous, winding road!  With some switchbacks and at one point almost a pigtail.  When Jim made the reservations he was told 'if you miss the campground there's no place to turn around'.  Now we know what was  meant by this statement.  We could not have taken the rig over this route and signs indicating this were posted.  We would have had to back up....a long way!

One of the first spots of beauty was this little waterfall


Fortunately, right around the bend was a place to pull over so I could snap this shot.  All along the drive there were turnouts so you could get out and enjoy the views.  For the most part the foliage prevented any pictures being taken and we just continued our drive.

We finally met up with the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued on it reaching the top of Little Pisgah Mountain, not to be confused with Pisgah Mountain which has a large transmission tower on it.

From there we continued on to Buck Springs Gap which has some spectacular views and a walk up to where the Vanderbilts had their lodge

The trail was an easy one with steps and tree roots to traverse.

Don't know the name of these little beauties but there were several clumps of them along the trail

As you can see, we're at one of the highest spots in the Pisgah National Forest

Just south of here is the Pisgah Inn where we drove through the parking lot but didn't get out of the truck.  We continued a little farther south looking for a spot to have our lunch and we found it at Funnel Top!

As we sat on our tailgate in this overlook we had this view.  Many vehicles stopped, folks jumped out and commented on our lovely spot for lunch, snapped a picture and drove off.  As we were finishing up a hawk decided to entertain us.  It was lovely watching him soar and float on the thermals 

Back in truck and continuing our drive we kept seeing more and more beautiful sights.  Finally we left the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued south on Highway 276 also known as the Pisgah Highway

All along this part of the drive there were numerous places to stop to view the streams and rivers that were on both sides of the road.  It being a holiday weekend there were a lot of folks taking advantage of the forest and taking in the sights.  The picture above is probably South Fork Mills River, but don't quote me on that. 

Our next stop was Looking Glass Falls .  What a beautiful waterfall.  There were dozens of people wading, climbing and just enjoying the cool water

It's 60 feet tall and refreshing to stand near.  I can only imagine how it would feel in the hot, summer months

Just before we reached civilization again we came across Davidson River Recreational Area.  It has camping and activities for water, hiking and just enjoying nature.  From what we saw, a lot of folks were doing just that.

Once we reached the end of the highway we found ourselves in Brevard so we turned our truck northward on the Asheville highway (280).  On our left was the forest and the right was a valley with a lot of pretty views.

Once we got into the Asheville area we made a couple stops and shopped before heading home.  We were home by 1600 and had an awesome time!

For dinner we had ravioli and a salad.  Some TV and games rounded out our day.  We both slept very well in the cooler temperatures 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company

Our first order of business today was going to the Visitor Center in Asheville, turns out it's right downtown.  Big space with a lot of information about what to see and do in the area. For those who are aware of it, Biltmore House and Gardens is here but we won't be going.

One of the reasons we chose this area is the number of breweries that are located here.  Right off the bat in the dining section we found a brochure for Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, my first reaction? Lunch!  Pizza and beer?  YUM

After we gathered all the reading material we wanted we headed out to locate our lunch spot.  According to Ethyl it was less than 10 minutes away.  As we drove down the street it was located on, I spotted a Trader Joe's...I can't remember why, but I want to stop there....they sell something we need.  Can't remember what but I'm sure we'll remember...

We arrived at the Pizza Joint and I must say it's an unusual looking brewery.  Eclectic, I'd say.  I didn't bring a camera so no pictures.  But I could have spent an hour taking pictures of murals on the walls, tiles on the floor, the ladies was all fun to see.

Of course we both had a beer, Jim had a 'fire escape' made with roasted jalapenos and I had a 'stuntman' with hints of hazelnut and chocolate.  I think Jim was hungry and opted for the buffet which included pizza, salad and desserts.  I noticed they had Daiya cheese (vegan) so I ordered a pizza.  We both enjoyed our lunch and I brought half of my pizza home.

After lunch we headed back to Trader Joe's and Harris Teeter.  For some reason they're right across the street from one another. We talked during lunch and decided to head home and read the tourist material.  So picking up groceries was our last stop of the day.  We ducked into Harris Teeter first where I found some corn on the cob that looked very fresh, plus other food items.  Then we went to Trader Joe's because I knew I'd find something I needed there...I just needed to remember what.

When we were in Tallahassee we bought Cowboy Bark at TJ's and we both said we needed to remember (memory is the first thing to go) that.  Well we wandered around the store trying to remember this and just as we were leaving I saw it!  At the checkout there was a display so we grabbed a bag, paid for it and left.  One item....

If you've never had this you must try it.  "Luscious dark chocolate covered toffee, pretzels, joe joe cookies, peanuts, almonds and a touch of salt"  It's a good reason to shop there, but only if you can remember what to buy!

Now we're heading home.  It's about 1300 and you cannot believe the traffic!!!  East and west bound, all the exits and on ramps, bumper to bumper this point we don't have a clue why, so we're just creeping along.  Even the last leg of our trip had 10-12 vehicles taking the same road as us.

Later we were told it was just holiday traffic! I guess everyone got off work early and all the schools let out early.

For dinner we had the corn on the cob, I  had pizza and Jim had pasta salad.  I should have bought more corn it was that good.

Jim has read all the tourist stuff and I need to paw through it.  Not sure if we're doing anything tomorrow, not sure I want to head into Asheville if traffic is going to be a problem...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Candler,North Carolina

We left Helen, Georgia around 1015 under sunny skies.  I was a bit concerned about some wind we were having but it didn't affect the truck or rig.  For the first 40 minutes or so, in Georgia, we drove back roads on some of the most winding, twisting, snaky, narrow roads we've been on since Highway 7 in the Ozarks!  It would be a lot of fun to drive without the rig.

Jim did an excellent job of going up, then going down mountains and once we got into North Carolina the roads were wider though some grades were steep (7%).

We stopped in Franklin, North Carolina at the welcome center for some lunch and rest...Jim and I both needed to walk around and just relax a bit.  This welcome center is one of the prettiest I've ever seen.  The landscaping was beautiful and inside was a gift shop with books, videos and hand made items for sale.

We pulled into Stony Fork Creek campground, southwest of Asheville, around 1400.  There are only 6 sites here on 
 Pisgah Highway.  Doesn't appear to be a lot of traffic, just the folks who live out here in the boondocks.  There is a creek behind us

 We're here for two weeks and at the moment we don't have any clear idea of what we'll see and do.  Tomorrow we're going to find the visitor center and make plans.  I understand there are quite a few breweries here, I wonder if we'll have the time and money to visit them all?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Helen, Georgia Last Post

I have enjoyed almost every moment of our two weeks here.  The rain messed us up a few days, but there isn't much you can do about that!  Given a chance I'll come back.  There is so much to see and do in this geographical area that another visit or two or three are necessary.

These are only a handful of the pictures I too here

The city has gone all out to make it a destination and nestled in the mountains makes it lovely.  The surrounding area includes State and National parks and the driving! Up and down mountains with gorgeous vistas around every curve.

Tomorrow we head to Asheville, North Carolina for two weeks

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stovall Mill Covered Bridge

After our morning chores and Jim washing the truck we had guacamole and chips for lunch, changed clothes and hit the road.
We headed out today to find a covered bridge...and we did.  It was a short drive to the bridge but it sure was a disappointment...the location by the Chicamauga Creek could have been wonderful, but the area was covered in trash and even though there were tables, no one in their right mind would have had a picnic there.  Someone needs to volunteer to keep the area tidy.

The inside of this small covered bridge was covered in graffiti (even the website shows this) and not worth trying to take pictures of the construction.

It's also small and getting shots of it from the outside was a challenge

The Chicamauga Creek is pretty and it's hard to imagine it flooding enough to destroy the earlier structure

We stopped in the Old Sautee Store was a treat!  The front part of the store is old, dark and full of wondrous old items that aren't for sale.  The center is full of candy and trinkets for the tourist.  The back is new, upscale clothing, crocs and backpacking items.

We then went on a quest to sample the local wine....after all the road boasted of wineries and scenic byways.  Well all the wineries were closed...only open on Thursday (?) or the weekends.

The day was gorgeous, temperature reached at least 80. We were home by 1600 in time to feed Boo and have our coffee

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brasstown Bald Mountain

Georgia's Highest we had to see it!  Right?

A couple days ago we set out to do just that.  The temperature was in the mid 60's, we had partly cloudy skies so we our donned jackets and sweatshirts and headed over the mountain (just under 3000 feet) to drive the Russell Brasstown Bald Scenic Byway.  Heading north on highway 75 towards Hiawassee, the higher we climbed the mistier it got and then some rain as we topped the mountain (I think it's Yonah...).  

We then headed west on Highway 180.  All the while enjoying the beauty of this drive even though we kept running through showers and mist rising off the hot pavement. Jim enjoys driving mountainous terrain with the winding, twisty roads.  I marvel at what the engineers had to do to map out and lay down those exact roads.

We arrived at the turnoff for Brasstown Bald and was surprised to see a sign saying 'watch for ice on the road'.  Apparently overnight the temperature was cold enough to warrant this signage!

Again, driving up this mountain was enjoyable, beauty around every curve.  We finally arrived at the gate and parking lot and this is what we saw.

Brasstown Bald Mountain is in the Chattahoochee National Forest and our National Park Pass allowed us entry for free but we did pay for the shuttle service to the top of the Mountain.  Two dollars each to keep from having to walk the half mile or so up to the top.  The weather was cold and nasty or we might have done it.

Looking up from the parking lot you can see the fire tower where I'm told you can see South and North Carolina, Tennessee and half of Georgia on clear days and you're allowed to climb up and have a look.  I'm sure it's quite breath taking.

Once our driver took us up top this is what we saw most of the time.  The rains and clouds came and went so we did get glimpses of the surrounding hills and valleys 

See!  I told you it was cold

This dark eyed Junco is the only wildlife we saw although one man was carrying his dog.

As we were waiting for the van to take us down Jim checked out the trail down and decided not to take it.  By this time the weather was getting worse and I think it was sleeting!

I would love to come back on a clear day to see all this beauty

Back down the road we went and continued our drive on 180 west until we connected up with highway 348 south.  All the while driving through beautiful country.  Of course the lower in elevation the nicer the weather even though it was still chilly for us.

These hills and mountains are part of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains and the southern Appalachian Trail starts here.  Also, the headwaters for the Chattahoochee River is just south of Brasstown Bald Mountain (4,784 feet)

The drive was wonderful and it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

Since then we've had nothing but rain and cold weather.  Barely reaching the 60's during the day and cooler at night.  You'd hardly believe this is the south.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mosquito...Most Lethal Animal?

What makes Mosquitoes so dangerous?   Bill Gates has some surprising statistics

Make sure you're safe at all your outings.

Homemade Mosquito Repellent Recipe #1

5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
5 drops of Citronella essential oil
3 – 4 Tbsp Homemade Vanilla Extract
5 drops of Lemon Essential Oil

*NOTE: You can just use plain vodka instead of the vanilla extract, but the vanilla extract just makes it smell great!

Mix all of the above ingredients in a 12-16 oz spray bottle and fill the rest up with water (or a mix of water and vodka, or a mix of water and witch hazel).
Spray away!!, to order the oils, or email me!

Homemade Mosquito Repellent Recipe #2

10-15 drops Thieves essential oil blend
10-15 drops Purification essential oil blend
A little bit of baking soda or salt
12 ounce spray bottle

Put the baking soda or salt (you only need a little bit) in the bottom of your spray bottle.
Add the drops of essential oils.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Anna Ruby Falls, Helen, Ga

A couple days ago, before the rains came and cooler temperatures, we hiked up to Anna Ruby Falls.  I'm glad the day was sunny and we went early.  We are out of shape and found a couple sections a little steep.  We had to rest a couple times! 

You have to drive through Unicoi State Park (no fee) and it costs $3 per person to enter the Anna Ruby Falls in Chattahoochee National Forest...our National Park Pass allowed us free access

The whole experience was wonderful and well worth the hike.  Beautiful every step of the way

I took a lot of pictures just because I could!  Only a few are here

Afterwards we went into Helen and had lunch and strolled the shops....more about that in another post