Thursday, October 30, 2008

Second Scarf Finished!

I finally finished putting the fringe on my second scarf. I was flipping through a clothes catalogue and noticed a girl dressed in a black top & skirt with a long grey scarf double wrapped around her neck and it still hung below her waist. OH! I loved it! So I began crocheting this cinnamon-colored scarf. I love long scarves!

I picked up a copy of Crochet Today magazine and I'm going to actually try to follow directions for making this scarf:

from: Crochet Today
It's a "beginner" pattern, so we'll see. You know I don't follow directions very well. ;) Of courses, next I want to try this one:

from: Crochet Today
It fits the gypsy girl in me! :)

Keep On Crafting!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My first crocheted scarf!

I have always, and yes I mean ALWAYS, wanted to learn how to crochet. I mean it looks so easy when I see peoples hands just zippin' away making something! Well, apparently there are some people like me who are a bit "challenged" with this and end up buying a copy of "Crocheting for Dummies". Yes, I humbly must admit I finally broke down and bought the book. Obviously there are more people than just myself out there who just can't get it. Ok, trying to make myself feel better there. :) Of course, I had to make a pink one! And how appropriate since October is Breast Cancer awareness month too.

And I finished just in time because the temperature dropped into the 30's...brrrrr...from the high 60's! I think I might have seen a snowflake this morning!

I have bought SO many different books and yes, even a DVD, on crocheting and it just never clicked. FINALLY. But there is one small problem........


I can hear you laughing. :) I have been afflicted with the "Scarfers Curse". I know you've heard of it. It's a tragic condition where every person I know is getting a scarf for Christmas! My husband just shakes his head and says "there's going to be some cold sheep this year". I can't help it. I want to move on to an afghan! :)

Keep on Crafting,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Recipes

Since it's Halloween week, how about some treats, no tricks, just fun! :)

1 (8 ounce) can solid white tuna fish, packed in water
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 celery stalk, finely diced
14 slices white sandwich bread
14 raisins

1. Drain water from tuna and place in small mixing bowl; break the tuna into small pieces with a fork. Mix in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and celery.

2. Cut the bread slices with a cookie cutter into the shape of a ghost. Spread 7 slices with the tuna mixture and cover each with a second slice of bread. Use the raisins to make the eyes on each sandwich. Serve with celery and carrot sticks.
2 slices whole wheat bread
3 slices Smoked Ham (meat choice)
1 slice cheese
1 Tbsp. mayo
1 lettuce leaf

1. COVER 1 of the bread slices with ham and cheese. Spread with mayo; top with lettuce. Secure with plastic toothpick, if desired.

2. CUT sandwich into coffin shape using coffin template and sharp knife. Write scary messages on sandwiches with decorating gel, yellow mustard or ketchup.

First, start with a wild variety of colorful veggies or other whole foods. Think outside the box here. Start with the classics then branch out into some really exotic produce.

Then take a cue from these healthy Halloween party food ideas and transform your veggies with a little creative culinary magic. Be sure to consider the serving tray and surrounding presentation, too. Halloween plates do wonders for improving the look of a creepy meal.

Yummy on fresh baked scones!

* 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Makes 1-1/2 cups (24, 1-tablespoon servings).
* 1 (6.0 oz.) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bar, broken into pieces
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
* 1 cup boiling water
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1-1/2 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 cup dairy sour cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* ORANGE FROSTING(recipe follows)
* DECORATOR'S FROSTING(recipe follows)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan.

2. Stir together chocolate bar pieces, butter and water in medium bowl until chocolate is melted. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in large bowl; gradually add butter mixture, beating until well blended. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare CHOCOLATE COATED ICE CREAM CONE. Drizzle ORANGE FROSTING over cake. Place ice cream cone into center of cake for pumpkin stem. Using leaf decorating tip, pipe leaves onto 'pumpkin' with DECORATOR FROSTING.

10 to 12 servings.

CHOCOLATE COATED ICE CREAM CONE: Place 1 cup HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and 1 tablespoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Spoon melted chocolate over outside of flat-bottom ice cream cone. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

ORANGE FROSTING: Place 1/3 cup butter or margarine in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute or until melted. Stir in 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons hot water for desired consistency. Stir in red and yellow food color for desired color.

DECORATOR FROSTING: Combine 3 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon meringue powder in small bowl. Add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat on high speed of mixer until stiff. Stir in green food color for desired color.


Southern Living
* 1 gallon apple cider
* 1 (11.5-ounce) can apricot nectar
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 cups orange juice
* 3/4 cup lemon juice
* 4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
* 2 teaspoons ground allspice
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Serve hot.

Yields: 21 cups

Apple Cider Sipper: Omit nectar. Makes 19 cups.

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk or vanilla yogurt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. brown sugar
4 ice cubes

1. Combine ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.

2. Pour the smoothies into small glasses (this drink is rich) and garnish each with a dollop of vanilla yogurt or whipped topping. For a fun touch, add a pinch of cinnamon or a few colored sprinkles. Serves 2 or 3.

5 medium apples, washed, well dried
1 bag (14 oz.) KRAFT Caramels (about 50)
2 Tbsp. water

1. INSERT wooden pop sticks (from bag of caramels) into stem end of each apple. Cover large plate with waxed paper; grease paper with butter. Set aside.

2. PLACE caramels in large saucepan. Add water; cook on medium-low heat until caramels are completely melted, stirring constantly.

3. DIP apples into melted caramel until evenly coated, spooning caramel over apples if necessary. Allow excess caramel to drip off. Scrape bottoms of apples, then place on prepared plate.

4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 15 min. before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Special Extra:
Prepare as directed, rolling bottom of each freshly dipped apple into one of the following: 10 coarsely chopped OREO Cookies; 1-1/2 cups Miniature Marshmallows mixed with 1/4 cup sprinkles; or 1/2 cup Peanuts, chopped. Or, drizzle dipped apples with 2 melted squares Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate.

* 1 1/3 cups butter, at room temperature
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
* 2 large egg
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Icing (recipe follows)
* Candy corn
* Miniature chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350° (325° if using convection heat).

2. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until blended, then beat on high speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; beat on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until well blended. Divide dough into three portions.

3. Place each portion between two sheets of floured plastic wrap. Roll dough evenly into flat rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Stack rounds on a baking sheet and chill until firm, at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.

4. Working with one portion of dough at a time (keep remaining chilled), peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Set floured pattern (see notes) on dough and cut around edges. Or with floured round cookie cutters (3-in. diameter), cut out cookies, placing cutters as close together as possible. Transfer to cooking parchment-lined or ungreased baking sheets, placing cookies about 1 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Gather up scraps and press together into a ball. If dough is still cold, roll and cut out remaining cookies. If it's soft and sticky, repeat step 3.

5. Bake cookies until firm to touch and slightly darker brown around edges, 8 or 9 minutes; if baking more than one sheet at a time in one oven, switch positions halfway through baking. Slide parchment with cookies off sheets onto racks or counter to cool, then remove from parchment. Or cool on pans about 1 minute and then transfer to racks to cool completely. If not using cooking parchment, wipe off baking sheets after each batch. Cool sheets before filling with more cookies.

6. Spread icing over cookies and decorate with candies, using candy corn for a beak and chocolate chips for eyes. Let stand until icing is firm, about 5 minutes.

Icing: In a small bowl, stir together 2 cups powdered sugar and just enough milk (about 3 tablespoons) to make a spreadable icing. If desired, tint with food coloring. If icing thickens as it stands, stir in a few more drops of milk.

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
* 2/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 large egg white
* Cooking spray
* 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
* 3 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 350º.

2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place shortening in a large mixing bowl; beat with a heavy-duty mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until well blended. Add vanilla and egg white; beat well. Add flour mixture; beat until well blended.

3. Turn dough out onto wax paper; shape into a 6-inch log. Wrap log in wax paper. Freeze 2 hours or until very firm.

4. Cut log into 24 (1/4-inch) slices, and place slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until set. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

5. Combine powdered sugar and milk in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk until smooth. Spoon into a small zip-top plastic bag; seal. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag. Working with 1 cookie at a time, pipe 3 concentric circles onto each cookie. Starting at center circle, pull a wooden pick through other circles at regular intervals to create a "web."

Yield: 2 dozen cookies



* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 cup sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* Easy White Icing
* Sprinkles (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.

3. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then spread with Easy White Icing using a table knife or small offset spatula. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Makes 12.

* 20 chocolate wafer cookies
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
* 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
* 1 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin puree
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
* 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cookies and sugar until finely ground. Add butter; pulse until crumbs are moistened. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, press crumbs into bottom (but not sides) of a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, about 12 minutes.

2. Pour chocolate onto warm crust; spread with a spatula. Freeze until chocolate is firm, about 5 minutes. Brush sides of tart pan with butter; set aside.

3. In a bowl, whisk together pumpkin, egg, cream, sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt. Pour filling into prepared crust; bake on a rimmed baking sheet until set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 1 hour at room temperature; refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 1 day).

4. Unmold tart (if sides stick, gently loosen with a knife). With two thin metal spatulas, transfer to a platter.

Serves 10.

You Will Need:
Patterns below
Tracing paper
Paper towel roll
Craft or utility knife
Scraps of black and white felt
Assorted two-hole buttons --- two 1-inch black for cat, one 3/8-inch black and one 9/16-inch black for spider, one 9/16-inch white for ghost and one 3/4-inch lilac for witch
3-inch length of jute string
3 yards each of black, orange, white and variegated yarn
Scraps of black six-strand embroidery floss
Black, red and yellow acrylic craft paints
Small paintbrush
Tacky craft glue or glue gun and glue stick.

What to Do
Rings: With pencil and ruler, divide an empty paper towel roll into 1-inch sections. Cut apart with craft or utility knife.Trim with scissors if needed.

Referring to the individual instructions that follow for colors, wrap each ring with yarn. To begin, glue one end of yarn to the inside of a ring. Wind the length around the ring so that each new wrap lies next to the previous wrap. When the ring is completely covered, cut off the excess yarn and glue the remaining end to the inside of the ring.

Creating Creatures
Figures: Trace patterns onto tracing paper and cut out. Cut felt as directed on patterns.

Use the end of a paintbrush handle to dab a dot of black paint onto each hole of the white and lilac buttons for eyes. Center larger black dot below holes of white button for a mouth.

Dab a yellow dot onto each hole of the black 3/8- inch button and one black 1-inch button. Add a dot of black on each yellow dot for pupils.

For mouths, center a red dot below the holes of the painted 1-inch black button and painted lilac button.

Cat: Wrap a ring with orange yarn. Referring to shaded areas on patterns and photo below for position, glue ears behind the painted 1-inch black button and tail behind the unpainted 1-inch black button. Glue buttons to ring.

Tie a knot in center of a 3-inch length of black floss and glue to cat's face for whiskers. Trim ends to desired length.

Spider: Wrap a ring with white yarn. Cut four 3-inch lengths of black floss for legs. Stack the pieces and tie a knot in middle of stack. Glue knot to ring. Trim so each leg is 1 inch long.

Center and glue a 9/16-inch black button on top of knot. Overlap the bottom of this button with top half of 3/8- inch black button and glue.

Ghost: Wrap a ring with black yarn. Referring to photo (page 1) for position, glue white felt ghost onto ring. Glue white painted button onto the head.

Witch: Wrap a ring with variegated yarn. Referring to photo (page 1) for position, glue 3/4-inch lilac button onto ring. Untwist jute string and glue around top of button for hair. Glue hat over top of hair.

Finished size: Napkin rings are 1 to 1 ¾ inches high x 1 ¾ inches wide.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the road again.......

I didn't have much of a chance to post anything last week. We had to go to VCU in Richmond for my husband's "tune-up". Ha, well, that's what I jokingly call it. He is deaf with a cochlear implant and just upgraded to a new wireless processor. He loves it! He can finally enjoy music again and is madly loading mp3's onto his new Blackberry! :)

A few sights from Richmond:





Of course, it is tradition that I always go to the Williamsburg Pottery. And we usually go to VA Beach and eat crab cakes at a little cafe we like, but we didn't get that far on our quick trip this time. Yep, you know I made the Pottery though. :)

This elephant has been at the Williamsburg Pottery for at least the last 25 years that I can remember. He just stands outside one of the buildings in all kinds of weather. I don't know know what I would do with him--he atleast 10 ft tall!--but I just love him.

Yes they really do have some pottery! Although I don't know anyone who goes there for the pottery. (Ha.) I'm always looking at the beautiful flower arrangements (rows and rows and rows!) and the china. This year I finally went into the Christmas/Craft building (I'm usually too tired to make that part) and found these little linen & lace "ornaments". I think that's what they are supposed to be since they have little bells on the bottom...but I imagine them on fabric! Maybe on an apron pocket? Or use it in a mixed media collage? or maybe quilting art?

I love this angel!

And I love butterflies too! I thought these were so pretty! Who knows what I'll use them on! :)

Pretty pastels!

And icy silver!

Until later,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tea on Tuesday: Glazed Gingerbread Cake

What a fabulous fall Tuesday! Beautiful crisp leaves falling all around, a chill in the air, pumpkins & scarecrows decorated everywhere! What could be more lovely than a gingerbread cake with a cup of tea??


* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 cup shortening
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup mild-flavored molasses
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
* Lemon juice
* Crystallized ginger strips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan; set aside.

2. Stir together flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

3. Place shortening in another large mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses; beat for 1 minute. Add flour mixture and water alternately to egg mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.

5. Combine powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add additional lemon juice, if necessary, for drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cake. If desired, garnish with crystallized ginger strips.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

~~yummy recipe and photo from:

Monday, October 20, 2008

OH feels like Monday

You ever have one of those days? I mean MONDAY especially. Thank goodness my husband got up before me and fixed the coffee this morning. (Just proving that miracles still happen! ha!) I spent the ENTIRE weekend cleaning the arriving this afternoon. The worst part? I didn't even get to work on the memo board that I had planned to! A beautiful fall weekend with no crafts...can it get any worse? :)

I hope you had a great weekend and here's wishing you a good week!

Friday, October 17, 2008's Friday!

Pumpkin Halloween Pictures, Images and PhotosNo big plans for the weekend here. How about you? I'm just going to spend Saturday cleaning the house a bit, since the in-laws arrive from Cincinnati on Monday & so you know we want everything to look good. :) OK, "perfect" would be great, but if you know me, that's never going to happen is this lifetime. ha! I hope to work on one of my (many!) craft projects this weekend too, so hopefully I will have some pics to share. I have a memo board "in the works" for my secret sister at church. I hope she likes it!

Lovely autumn day here. Raining a bit which is causing all the golden leaves to make a beautiful carpet everywhere. This truly is my favorite time of year.

Have a great crafty fall weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Addiction

So...Is a bad sign when you can't even stop reading your blogs while sitting in a restaurant? I am constantly checking the latest entries on my fav blogs, even if I'm not at home or work--now I even check from my Blackberry! I wonder if there is a program for people like me? Or maybe I'm just becoming the "norm"? :) My husband sure thought this was funny at dinner!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tea on Tuesday: Pumpkin-Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake

Vegetarian Times Issue: November 1, 2006
Oh how yummy! I love pumpkin anything this time of year! Wouldn't this be great with a cup of tea?



Chocolate Crust
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
2 8-oz. pkg. Neufchâtel cheese, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 1/2 Tbs. ground ginger
1 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350F. To make Chocolate Crust: Coat 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in medium bowl. Press into prepared pan, and bake 10 minutes.

2. Melt chocolate in bowl in microwave on medium power, stirring every 30 seconds to heat evenly. Set aside. Blend cottage cheese in food processor 3 minutes, until smooth. Add Neufchâtel cheese, brown sugar, eggs and flour, and process until smooth. Add pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, and process 1 minute, or until smooth.

3. Whisk 1 cup cream cheese batter into melted chocolate. Pour remaining batter into crust. Spoon dollops of chocolate mixture onto batter, and swirl with knife.

4. Bake cheesecake 1 1/2 hours, or until top is firm and cake is beginning to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely on wire rack, then chill well before unmolding and serving.

Serves 24.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Calories 218
Protein 6g
Total fat 9g
Carbs 29g
Cholesterol 47mg
Sodium 177mg
Fiber 1g

~~yummy recipe and  photo from: Vegetarian Times, 2006~~

Monday, October 13, 2008

2nd Anniversary Getaway

I always save part of my vacation time from work to take an entire week off in October that includes October 7th, my wedding anniversary. Jeff & I were married in TN in 2006, spent our 1st year anniversary at the same cabin in TN last year, and this year we stayed in the cabin next door to our "original" but an exact copy and layout. I guess I like tradition. :)

It was just wonderful to get away from work for an entire week and not have scheduling headaches, budget concerns & lay-offs, and a nagging co-worker who spends most of her day hanging over my desk tattling on her co-workers and griping about the job EVERY SINGLE DAY. UGH. Don't even get me started. Let me just say that, as I 've stated before, this particular person is at the top of the list of why we play the Mega Million. Yeah, seriously. Oh I know, someone is thinking, "why don't you just get another job?" Well, I have a state job and I'm not giving up my benefits. Even if I could find another job working at the university (and allowing me to keep the benefits), I would not find one that allows me to set my own schedule around school and such. (I work a really odd schedule). SO...I can only hope for now that she quits (oh please, oh please, oh please) OR I win the Mega Million. I figure they both have about the same chance of happening so it's a toss-up.
My vacation was sooo wonderful. I know many people who say "how can you keep going back to Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg....there's not that much to do there". Well, not being a Dollywood person or liking country music, I could agree with you. But we've actually gotten to know some locals and we like seeing them every so often (which explains our day-trips out of the blue). And being a crafty kind of person, it is FULL of all kinds of shops that specialize in whatever craft you're looking for. I think you could find a shop with just about anything. I tend to migrate towards the needlework (needle punch/sewing), decorative painting, and just handmade home decor. I could LIVE in the 8-mile-loop Arts & Crafts Community. Yeah, really I think I could. And of course, it has my favorite little bistro/tearoom THE WILD PLUM with Kacy and all the girls. Did I tell you my husband is taking me there for Thanksgiving dinner this year? I am so excited! And not just because I don't have to cook! OK, and not because it get also gets me away from the in-laws. :) AND we're going back for Christmas dinner again this year on Dec. 12. (A combo of being a birthday/early Christmas gift for me).

Our cabin, "Splish Splash", was about 2 miles off the Pigeon Forge Parkway, behind the Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater. It has an indoor pool and great Smoky Mountain views since you have to drive uphill to get to it. But it's close to downtown Pigeon Forge too, just off the main highway, so you're right at town & close to anything. Yes, if we win the Mega Million, we've decided we're buying one of these places to own. Perfect size for just a getaway. I love the hot tub & I think ours here at home is the best thing we've bought, but I spent most of my time in the pool. Your very own pool in your cool is that!

We had planned to eat our anniversary dinner at The Old Mill like we did last year, but the volume of food there is just enormous (even if it is delicious and yes, it is worth the 2 hour wait). So instead we went to PF Chang's in Knoxville. I LOVE PF Chang. I wish we had one around here, but the closest one to us is probably the one in Charlotte NC which I had eaten at before. My husband was in for a treat as he had never eaten at one before. It really is terrific food (even if pricey) and has a lovely atmosphere.
I couldn't believe how beautiful the trees were so early in October! Usually when we go down, the leaves are just turning a golden yellow and maybe some orange, but this year there was just a beautiful array of colors and crimson red too! Really, really beautiful driving through the Great Smoky Mountains!