Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give Thanksgiving a Chance

There's something really wrong with America.  A lot is wrong, actually, but one thing in particular tends to irk me more and more each year.

Thanksgiving is disappearing.

For at least a month now, I've been driving around seeing Christmas decorations on houses and in shopping centers.  I hear Christmas music when I'm flipping through radio stations.  Christmas is my favorite holiday and time of year, but all of this just makes me sick.

Don't get me wrong, I have already done some present buying.  But you won't see those gifts under a tree until November 29.  Because that's when the Christmas seasons starts.  

Thanksgiving is so important.  It's a time for family to come together and be thankful.  It's something that should be done all the time, but this is a specific time set aside for us to make sure it happens.  Our lives get crazy and we get stressed and hate the world sometimes - it is important to stop and remember, for at least this one day, that you are blessed.  For so many reasons.

Instead, people are going to go shopping.  Or work.  Or both.  That's just insane to me.  First of all, I understand Black Friday.  Been there, done that.  It's fun.  But it's something you do ON FRIDAY. BLACK FRIDAY. Unless all of my teachers have been wrong, the next day starts at 12:00 midnight.  Not 6:00 PM on the current day.   I mean really? Black Friday Doorbusters at 5 PM on Thanksgiving?  I would at least spend time with my family before waiting in line for the midnight doorbusters - and any earlier than that is just out of the question.  If you partake in that, you are an enabler.

It makes me sick that people see Thanksgiving as an amazing shopping opportunity.  It's SO much more than that, and actually not that at all - Black FRIDAY is an amazing shopping opportunity.  I feel so incredibly bad for the people who are forced to work (or lose their job) on Thanksgiving Day because their psycho boss thinks it's a good idea for their non-essential business to be open.

Clay and I decided to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year (we usually spend it with his, Christmas with mine, we switched).  The family plans fell through and we still don't know what we will be doing, but you can be damn sure that even if I just sit on my couch, I will be counting my blessings.  I will not be Christmas decorating.  I will not be shopping.  I will be basking in the blessing of the life that I have been given.

If you have decorated and are already listening to Christmas music, I love you, but I'm judging you.  Fight the urge - if I can do it, I promise that you can, too.  I hate that my future children will grow up getting the idea (from others) that Thanksgiving is so fun because it's the day we go shopping.  Or that it's the holiday that means Christmas is coming.

Give Thanksgiving a chance.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Update: We finally have Thanksgiving plans!

Friday, November 15, 2013

It's [the end of] Fall, Y'all! - {Halloween and Camping}

Yep, it's that time of year again.
The time when pumpkin spice is everywhere (I'm not complaining).
The time when boots and scarves can finally come out of the closet (regardless of whether it's actually cold or not outside).
The time when it is still in the high 70's here in Louisiana, but beautiful and perfect everywhere else.  Except on Halloween.  It's always cold on and around Halloween.

Speaking of which, I finally dressed up for the first time in like 3 years for Halloween.  And since I'm a red-headed princess and all, The Little Mermaid seemed like the perfect costume.  What is Ariel without her Prince Eric?  Nothing.  Which is why my lovely fiancĂ© played the part!

My prince and me! 
Mom and Me - Mom was a biker!

I made the mermaid skirt myself.  I never actually finished the little details I wanted to add, but whatevs.  I'm sure I'll use it again and add those things when the time comes.  Regardless, I was impressed with myself.

We didn't do a whole lot this year- just went to a friend of our parents' party the weekend before.  It was fun!  There was a gigantic bonfire and a hay-ride around the property and pond.  Also, the party hosts have a dragster.  I got to sit in it and rev it.  It was SO loud, and SO awesome.

On the actual night of Halloween we just opted to stay in.  It was raining the whole time so we didn't even try to make plans.


The BEST part of fall is the weather of other places.  Like Arkansas.

Clay, myself, and 5 others went camping in the Ozarks along the Buffalo National River last weekend in Arkansas.  It was absolutely amazing.

Our campsite
You can't really tell in the picture, but our capsize was pretty secluded.  All around it was trees, and it was off of the main road that ran through the grounds.  Pretty much all of the other sites were close to the road with not much privacy, so we got lucky.

The River Right Behind Our Tents

We were able to see the beautiful color changes of fall that are rare around here.  Reds, oranges, and yellows surrounded us.   During the day it was in the 50's or low 60's - perfect hiking weather.  So, that's what we did.  We hiked a few different trails, all of them leading to something great and different from the one before.

On the first hike, we found a bluff that overlooked a little valley.  It was really nice to just hang out a little bit and take it all in.
View from a bluff on hike #1
On the second day/second hike, which more of a walk, we ran into another part of the Buffalo National River.  Across it, we saw a cave that looked like we could pretty easily climb up to.  The problem was that the only way to get to it was to cross the river.  So we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and crossed the slippery rocks in the freezing cold water.

Clay and I at the River

Crossing the river

When we got to the other side, we climbed up to the cave.  I'm terrified of rock climbing (I know, weird fear), but I did and I'm glad I did! However, it was a little harder than it looked from across the river.  Plus, there was no way I wasn't going to after crossing that ice cold river.

Clay Climbing to the Cave

Stephen and I by the Cave

On the third day/third hike, we drove about 30 minutes from our campgrounds to another campground to hike a trail to "Sam's Throne."  There were little side paths off the mail trail that led to an absolutely breathtaking view of a big valley.  The sun was starting to set and it was just perfect.

We eventually got to the end of the trail and hung out on a huge bluff for the rest of the sunset.  The bluff overlooked Sam's Throne, which is apparently named after a preacher named Sam from waaaaay back in the day who would climb up and preach to the people below in the valley.

Sam's Throne (Right in the Middle)

We met a pretty cool guy who was there doing a time lapse of the sunset.  It was for a documentary he was doing on climbing around Arkansas.  He was really nice and gave us some insight on what we were looking at.  We got to see the end result of the time lapse, too, and it was just perfect.

It got down to the 30's at night.  The fire kept us warm.  And in the tent it got hot enough for me to just use a blanket and not my sleeping bag.  We took turns cooking at night, too.  And we ate well.  Not the canned soup and stuff that we probably should have had.

On the first night we got in really late so we just had hot dogs.  Good hot dogs.

On the second night, Clay grilled chicken and made mac and cheese.  Our friend Luisa made tilapia and veggies.  Everything was reaaaalllly good.

On the third night, another couple made hobo pies - basically potato, veggies, sausage and beer thrown into a pocket-shaped piece of foil, and thrown on the fire a little bit.  It was so simple, but absolutely delicious.

Clay got some fancy cheese, poked holes in it and poured brandy over it, wrapped it in foil, and threw it on the embers of the fire.  The cheese melted and made kind of a fondue that we dipped baguette bread into.  Again, delicious.
Melted Cheese Dip

I also made spaghetti and garlic bread sandwiches.  Sounds weird, tastes fantastic.  I made garlic butter before we left for the trip and brought it with us.  I buttered the bread, put it butter-side down in a pie iron, put spaghetti on it (also pre-made at home), but another buttered bread down, and shut the iron and put it on the embers.  It toasted it and made a delicious sandwich.  However, I got a little selfish and stopped making enough for everyone to try because the butter wouldn't stay soft and it was near impossible to spread it.  So... oops.

Spaghetti Garlic Bread Sandwiches
in the making
On the last night, we packed up all we could so we could just get together our tent and roll out.  The drive home was about 9 hours. 

The long drive, no showers, and freezing cold was all worth it.  I can't wait to go camping again - hopefully somewhere as beautiful as Arkansas!

So, now that people are forgetting about Thanksgiving, and Christmas is taking over, it's clear that fall is coming to an end.  Although it's flown by, I actually had a chance to enjoy it this year.  We went camping, celebrated Halloween for the first time in a while, went to VooDoo Fest, and have had lots of pumpkin flavored things.

And now comes winter Christmas.