Hike the Hooch: First Stop, Island Ford

{SMIJ by Jill “Game Day” hats and football thermal available at Henry & Pearl}

We love to hike and part of the fun is heading out of town an hour or more to find great spots to explore.  Let me clarify “we love”.  It’s always me coming up with the idea and “breaking the news” to the rest of the family.  Pat is usually pretty quick to jump on board.  I think he has already prepared himself for what he knows is coming as soon as the weather starts getting nice.  The kids want to know “how long of a drive is it?”, “can we bring our iPads, iPhones, etc?”, “What time will we be back?”, “What about my friends?”.  They give in pretty easily because they know I won’t give up!  And, let me tell you, without fail, 100% of the time, the one who complains the most about going is the one who never wants to leave.  Just sayin… Sometimes mom does know best.  And, we are all just different people after a few hours in nature.  There is just nothing like getting that fresh Georgia air into every last cell in your body.

So, while it’s fun to explore the endless options to hike around Georgia, sometimes you just don’t have that much time.  For those days, we have so many great options right in town.  I thought this Fall it would be fun to explore some favorites around the Chattahoochee.  Please share your experiences, too.  We are always looking for new places to explore.

First stop, Island Ford in Sandy Springs.  This park is right off Exit 6 in Dunwoody.  Very easy to get to, lots of parking and well-managed and staffed.  It is open every day except Christmas!  There is even a nice visitor’s center with clean restrooms and a park attendant to answer questions.  For your little – or big – scientists, they have a cool microscope display where the kids can get up close and personal with things they see in Georgia.

We started with this hike because it is very easy.  It is short and flat with breathtaking views of the river.  You can even take your shoes off and wade into the cool water in some kid-friendly spots.  We wish we would have brought a little snack because we wanted to enjoy a picnic on one of the rocks sticking out into the river – and because no one wanted to leave.  Remember that “mom knows best” thing…. The kids want to come back next weekend with bathing suits and a picnic.

The trail is fully shaded the entire way, but you can easily step off the trail at many spots to get close to the river and enjoy the sun.  I do recommend bug spray although we didn’t get bit, it seemed like a good thing to have along.  There are also two huge rock formations along the trail that kids can explore.  Great picture spots, too!  People were fishing, rafting, kayaking and enjoying this river.  We had a blast and we were back home right after lunch time with our lungs full of fresh air, our minds calm and plans for our next Chattahoochee adventure.  Stay tuned…

Summer Color

Yum! There is nothing like veggies at their peak. We actually came to this Farmer’s Market determined to leave with corn. We got distracted by so much goodness that I forgot the corn! Oh well… Grant picked out mini cucumbers and local snapper fish dip to top them with and… W O W! My new favorite lunch at the beach, for sure. This market is open again Saturday and I’ll be back for peppers and tomatoes for Shrimp Ceviche. Another favorite! I’ll share a recipe I love later this week. 

Beautiful & Delicious – Great for a Party!

I’ve been holding on to this recipe since April’s Southern Living waiting for Vidalias to be in season and the time had finally arrived.  I made this Spinach-and-Vidalia Dip last night and everyone loved it!  We even made the potato chips homemade in the fryer and used chives from Grant’s Herb Garden.  You could substitute kettle chips if you don’t have time to make them.  I think Sweet Potato chips would be great, too.  This is a great summer dip and it looks beautiful, making it a great dip to bring to a party to set out for a summer cookout.  We did cucumbers and red, yellow and orange peppers to dip along with the chips and my family raved more about how the peppers tasted in the dip than the chips.  They just really went together nicely.  All in all, highly recommend!

Driveway Boot Camp

I rediscovered a workout program that works for me and my daughter and I wanted to share my journey for a few reasons.  First of all, to remind myself of this successful workout I did when my son was the age my daughter is now.  Secondly, for some accountability.  I’m hoping by writing about it, I’ll feel even more committed to it when the newness wears off.  So… help me!  Third, I know I’m not the only mom who has trouble finding the time – or the childcare – to get to the gym, go for a run or attend any other fitness program that excludes kids.  I thought I could share my ideas for staying fit even when you can’t get to a class or gym regularly.  I call it Driveway Bootcamp and when I did this a few years ago, I was in some of the best shape of my life.  My go-to fitness has always been running.  I would take off for a run around 2 or 3 in the afternoon for a mid-day energizer, but once I was home with kids, that was not possible.  I finally figured out Driveway Bootcamp.  I’ll document a few of my workouts in case it could inspire someone reading this.  You’ll see things like sun salutations for warm-ups, lots of planks, burpees, walking lunges, jumping squats and lots of core work.  I’ll include some pictures, too.  Here are some of the benefits I’ve seen over the years and two kids:

  1.  First of all, a great workout.
  2. It’s outside which is always my first choice of workout venue.
  3. If you have a garage, it’s weatherproof while still providing fresh air.
  4. It gets the kids outside, too.  I pull out toys, driveway chalk and bubbles and we all have fun.
  5. You can blast some fun music.
  6. I actually taught both my kids to count this way.  I would always count my reps out loud and they both were soon counting with me.

Wish me luck, hold me accountable and get inspired to sweat with me.  And, not to leave out the fashion angle, I love to be super low maintenance for this.  The whole point is getting it done.  I go for supportive tanks and running skirts.  The fewer things to put on the better and quicker.  Athleta has been my choice.  I’ll link below to some of my faves from them.