Thursday, July 28, 2016

Asheville, NC | Travel Guide

Before our trip to Asheville, I scoured to find local guides or inside tips. Well those are few and far between so I thought I would share our favorites:


HOTEL
We stayed at the Omni Grove Park Inn and it was fabulous! The resort is huge but the history behind it is unbelievable. At least ten presidents have stayed there along with famous stars, athletes and authors. But, the views are the best part. I am a sucker for a good patio and this one did not disappoint.

My tip is to ask for a room in the historic part. While the bathrooms are TINY it is kinda cool staying in an 100+ year old piece of history. We enjoyed many beverages in the hotel which have a great view on the sunset terrace or grab a rocking chair by the President's Lounge in the Sammons Wing. You can look over the mountains and watch the golfers.


ACTIVITIES
We did what any tourist would do and tour the famous Biltmore estate. The home is, of course, gorgeous but it was HOT. The nationwide heat wave did not spare the mountains and it was pretty miserable. I felt a little woozy during one part of the tour due to no AC, no breeze and trekking up all those stairs. I recommend visiting in Spring/Fall.

That afternoon, we ventured to a newer part of the grounds for Aaron's clay shooting lesson. Given as part of his birthday gift, I thought it would a fun experience. All excursions take you to a gated part of the grounds where you can fish, shoot or offroad in the Land Rover experience. Aaron's instructor was so down-to-earth and I was pretty impressed by my man's shooting skills.

Another activity in Asheville is the breweries. I think the stat is they have more breweries per capita than any US city. Here are the few we visited:
  • New Belgium - This just opened and was my favorite. I like their beer and the tasting room was pretty impressive with a great view of the river.
  • Green Man - We didn't get a welcoming vibe here from the staff or location so left after a quick taste.
  • Wicked Weed Emporium - This place is known for their sour beers. They are beers that are transferred to a bourbon or wine barrel for a period of time. Not my favorite place but a cool experience. They also had some tasty apps for us to have a mid-afternoon snack.
  • Catawaba - This place was just okay but convenient for our trek around the Southern Slope area.

RESTAURANTS
The Admiral | Favorite place by far! Although, get reservations a few weeks in advance, as I booked three weeks out and there was only one slot left. This nondescript restaurant has its parking challenges but it is a must visit. We got the fried escargot (it was surprising delicious), scallops, curried fried chicken, brussels and dessert and they were all excellent.

Blackbird | Located right in the middle of everything, this place was packed. We got the ceviche, burger and seafood risotto. While all great, not my most memorable meal ever. I recommend grabbing an Uber if you go on the weekend because it was packed.

Corner Kitchen | Another must on reservations but a great little spot in Biltmore Village. We got the Turkey and Chicken sandwiches and both were excellent! From the menu, it looks like they also have a great brunch.

White Duck Taco Shop | A must on the itinerary, but go early! We arrived 10 minutes after opening and they were packed to the brim when we left. All the tacos we tried were amazing and the cheese dip was not too shabby on the cheese dip scale either.

We are not big breakfast people so skipped that but did eat a dinner at the Grove Park our first night. It was good but we had a wait a bit, so get reservations if you are planning to eat in one night.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

savor the small moments



What is that saying? You don't know what you have until it is gone. I think the saying should be... You don't know how precious the moments are until they are gone.

Having little Miss Mary Tilman has not been without life-changing moments. Those moments you think I will never sleep in again or I will never have that skinny mini bod I had on my honeymoon. Those moments you think, will I ever get to use the bathroom alone or will I ever get the Paw Patrol song out of my head. But those moments pass way too quickly. 

Little Miss is turning two in a month and I feel like the waterworks are starting. I don't remember that little bitty newborn or that crawling infant. We have full on conversations now and her one-liners make me laugh, but I yearn for the long days back. I yearn for those three months I never left her side. I yearn for those memories back. Those fleeting memories are a distant past.

My baby (my toddler) my how each day is long but the years are oh so short.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Contentment


Sometimes, I look at my toddler and am in awe how she can never sit still. She goes from one activity to the next at lightening speed, never really savoring each moment. I look at her and see me. 

I can keep myself busy (as can everyone these days). We are too busy for a date, friends weekend or a night to ourselves. We are too busy to sit because there are chores to be had, a business to run, love-handles to get rid of (aka work-out). I look at myself and see the moments I am not cherishing.

My resolution this year was to be content and it is more of a struggle than I prepared for. How can I be content when I am always looking for the next big thing? How can I be content with the now when the future is looming? Contentment has now become mandatory because when I think of the yesterdays and don't remember them. I don't remember the little things that make up the big. I don't remember the moments that amount to truly living.

"Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

thursday thoughts

Why is it already 12,000 degrees? I love being outside but hate being hot, so you see the dilemma I am currently in. August I may become a hermit.

Toddler words amaze me. Some days we get complete sentences and other days we get one-liners. I threw something in the trash yesterday and got "Good job momma." Another day, she informed Winnifred (the bulldog) who was sitting outside in the aforementioned heat, "Winnie, get in this house right now!" It is now apparent I have to watch my tone.

Yesterday was a tough personal day for me. I won't get into it but am reminded that words are the things that comfort me. "Comparison is the thief of joy"

Monday, July 11, 2016

Zoo Day


Having been on the go for the past several weekends, we decided to take Mary Tilman to her happy place, the Zoo. This kiddo loves anything animal so she is right in her element. We talk about the zoo before our visit, squeal while there and talk about it for days after.



In case you are ever in Atlanta, here are some tips for our (in my opinion) a pretty awesome zoo:
  • If you live in Atlanta or see yourself going more than two times a year, buy a zoo membership. It is definitely worth the money.
  • Go early! They open at 9:30 and we are always there on the dot. The afternoons are packed and make it very un-enjoyable. 
  • In the summer, go early! Did I say go early? It was VERY toasty this last weekend so I couldn't imagine going at 2:30 in July. For an air-conditioned break, visit the reptile house or the treehouse across from the gorillas.
  • If you want a close up view of the gorillas, go to the elevated deck platform past the viewing house. You get to see much more from that angle.
  • The petting zoo is my least favorite area but the kids seem to love it. They usually have goats and sheep but this past week they added two hairy pigs. I have never seen a little girl smile so big than when a pig oinked at her--really makes me feel loved :) 
  • The train. While a kid's dream, it is very low to adult standards. It is a pretty poor train ride resulting in a quick jaunt around the playground and splash pad.
  • The pandas are the biggest attraction being that you can only view them at three US zoos. The viewing room gets pretty packed so plan a visit in Spring or Fall when they are out in their habitats during the semi-cooler weather.
  • While we have yet to partake, you can fork over some cash for a special encounter with the tiger, elephant, panda, tortoise or a few other animals. The website says that ages two and under are allowed to watch but not participate. Either way, it would be pretty neat for people of all ages.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dressing the Littles

Mary Tilman has been voted best dressed at school and that makes this momma proud. While some mornings are a battle and she has grown quite the opinions, I (or Aaron) generally just pick whatever fits for the day's activities.

I frequently get asked where I get her clothes. I would be remiss without saying my mom and mother-in-law have generously made or bought a good portion of her clothes and I am forever grateful for that. Although, now owning a children's boutique I get to play dress up and dream of ensembles quite frequently now. To be honest, I buy with an eye for what I would personally dress my children in.


Here are some of my lessons learned with toddler wear (infant wear was a completely different ballgame):

Smocked / Southern Clothes
  • If not bought by the aforementioned awesome grandmothers I like to shop around. I also usually don't prefer busy prints especially while she is still so little. Another preference is something unique that not every other kid on the playground would wear.
  • Lately I have had horrible luck with the Facebook auction sites, although I have purchased from them all (Smocked Auctions, Southern Tots, Cecil & Lou, Southern Smocked). While the price is great, the product is either a lower than expected quality or extremely late. For the sake of class I will leave their name out, but I recently ordered a precious outfit that was promised in late April and it arrived mid-June. The customer service was extremely lacking with the only offer of consolation was to cancel the order all-together. I love this little site and think their line is so sweet, but don't think I can continue ordering from there.
  • Some great sources I have found are Zulily (although shipping takes forever), Smocking Bug and local Atlanta boutiques.
  • Brands we love | Viva La Fete, Sunshine Kids, True, Mom & Me, Petit Ami, Dondolo, Little English, Proper Peony, Prim & Proper Clothing, Beaufort Bonnet Company, Shrimp & Grits
Play Clothes
  • If hanging around the house I usually throw a t-shirt on her and some shorts. If I know school is going to be a messy day, then we usually wear an appliqued shirt and short set, courtesy of those great grandmothers.
  • Brands we love | Baby Gap, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren
Pajamas
  • Before kids, I had no idea they go through so many clothes. Now most of our wash consists of pajamas. Mary Tilman wears a new set every night because it either has the remnants of yogurt from breakfast or smell of a pee-pee diaper (gross but #reallife)
  • About 95% of our pjs are Hanna Anderson. While on the more expensive side, they last forever. I purchased Baby Gap pjs for a while but was not impressed on the quality.
  • Since opening J. Wills, I have grown to love Petit Plume. Again slightly more expensive but MT's current size will last her well into next Spring. Also a perk is they are truly pajamas made with a flame retardant material. (Newly learned tidbit - if they are called "loungewear" they don't met gov. regulations on safety guidelines).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

words | princesses



Yesterday before heading out to school and work, I asked Mary Tilman about all of her friends. She named every one of them, so I said, "Well what is your name?" She looked at me, nodded her head and said "Princess". My first thought was oh goodness what have I done?

Fast forward to school drop-off and her teacher laughed when I recounted the story. She said during circle time last week, Mary Tilman said "Princess" when it came to share her name. 

I laughed, texted and called because I thought it was cute and funny. But then I thought am I setting bad example? Am I enabling her to think she is of the princess mentality who can do no wrong? Did all those times I call her beautiful, pretty, smart and a princess backfire on me? Call it society's mom-shame or my self-shame but I felt confused.

Yet... I want my daughter to think she is a princess. I want her to dream and hope and aspire to be something amazing. If she wants to be a princess, go for it. She may not be royalty but one day I want her to be a princess to someone, be it her husband or her own children. I want my little girl to dream a big dream and let no one stand in the way. 

Maybe this little princess of mine is on to something. Unless you truly believe in a dream, it won't ever come true.

Friday, July 1, 2016

confessions

These are my confessions.... 
Does anyone else think of the Usher song when they hear that line? 
No? Okay maybe just me (go to the 1:30 mark if you want to relive 2009).



My husband's internal body heat is 1,027 degrees. He is like a heater. I now know why people in 1950 slept in separate beds. They were tired of waking up in a pool of sweat.

People with family close by... you don't know how lucky you have it. A spur-of-the-moment date night, I wouldn't know what that was. The latest movie release - seems like the last movie I saw in theaters was Titanic (just kidding... slightly).

I like to think of myself as a nice, sophisticated Southern woman. But, crazy drivers can bring out worst in people. Atlanta was just rated one of the worst accident-prone cities and I can see why. No logical person would attempt to merge across six lanes of traffic... oh but they do. ALL.THE.TIME.

#adulting - This will be my hashtag of choice in a few weeks. The hubs and I are headed to Asheville for a weekend getaway and it is needed big time. Did you know Asheville is home of more breweries than anywhere else in the country. Could be why this was the destination of choice for the hubby... just saying.

Torture - children's cartoons are right up there with toddler whining. If I watch another episode of Paw Patrol, I may cut off our cable.

I have worked out three nights in a row this week. Before you roll your eyes, that is huge for me. My entire body aches but I am hoping my sore muscle limp goes un-noticed. I did however go off the deep end last night when we popped in our local burger joint.

Mary Tilman loves Justin Bieber. Her face literally lights up every time she hears his songs. Some may judge my parenting expertise but the Biebs comes in mighty handy when you need two minutes of solo time.