Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of "all things calm & cozy home."

She shares "how-to" plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It's THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Posts by this author:

4 Winter Vacation Ideas For Families Seeking Snowy Or Tropical Escapes

If you are like us, you are torn between the winter vacation ideas of snow skiing at a rustic lodge or escaping the frigid cold for a tropical getaway.  I have good news!  There’s no need to feel like you have to break out a island passport or head to Colorado to ski because the Southern states have the best places to visit in winter you’ll find this year.  Escape the chilly weather on a sun-drenched balmy beach or seek that winter wonderland with the family and make some incredible memories.  Here in the South, we’ve got ya covered.

view of snowy & tropical winter vacation ideas




SNOWY WINTER VACATION IDEAS

If alpine skiing is out of your reach, give Tennessee or North Carolina a chance.  Known in these parts as incredible winter wonderlands from January through March, the smokies and Boone may be your most memorable of all winter vacation ideas yet!

THE SMOKIES

It’s as if East Tennessee comes alive after the Christmas holidays when winter truly sets in.  If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you are missing a world of adventure that goes beyond skiing the slopes. Speaking of the slopes, Smoky Mountain weather can never be fully predicted, the best time to see snow in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is after Christmas between January and the end of February each year.

view of winter vacation ideas road covered in snow

Winter snow in Tennessee, lisa zins, cc

How about a sweet cozy cabin to warm up by the fireplace after enjoying parts of Gatlinburg’s Winterfest: ski slopes, incredible shops and dining, ziplining, the Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights, or the Tennessee Winter Special Olympics?  If your toes get too cold, there’s also an aquarium, museums and many other fun Gatlinburg attractions
(GATLINBURG CHATEAUS RENTALS)

DANIEL BOONE COUNTRY

Just so you know, Boone, North Carolina is known as the ski capital of the South.  With three ski resorts in the area (Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort, and Sugar Mountain Resort) you’re set to ski, snowboard, snow tube, or even ice skate.

Grandfather Mountain Winter Hike March 13, 2018
As you noticed in the video above, hiking at Grandfather Mountain State Park during wintertime is no joke but a dream come true for adrenaline junkies. If snowtubing is your family’s thing, y’all don’t want to miss Hawksnest, the largest snow tubing park on the East coast of the country!  Shopping, skiing, snowtubing, hiking, ziplining, and visiting gem mines are just a few of the most popular Boone, North Carolina things to do.
(HOTELS NEAR BOONE)

TROPICAL WINTER VACATION IDEAS

If it’s chilly temps that are rattling your nerves and you can’t wait to escape the cold this winter season, I think I hear the ocean calling you (and me)!

ISLAMORADA 

If you’ve been following our family travel adventures for a while, you know that Islamorada, Florida was our top choice on our week-long best East Coast beaches hunt last summer.  A small sportsfishing town, Islamorada is quiet, quaint, and has the quintessential Florida Keys laid-back vibe.

We absolutely loved it.

Just yesterday, seven months since our trip, Princess said she was ready for a beach vacation.  After all of the Southern travel trip ground that we’ve covered, her top choice was to head back to Islamorada.  That says a lot.

Read our full review of Islamorada Florida Keys.
(HOTELS IN ISLAMORADA)

winter vacation ideas view of Islamorada Bay

Islamorada, Florida, Marker 88 Restaurant & beach

APALACHICOLA

The delightful little area of Apalachicola is known as the forgotten coast of Florida whose average temperatures from January through March range perfectly in the 60s and 70s.  They love their annual events such as the Farmers Market, Apalachicola Oyster Cookoff,  Butts & Clucks Cook-off on the Bay, concerts, Eco-outings, History Festival, and the Mardi Gras Barkus Parade in downtown Apalachicola.  And that’s just in the winter!

view of one of the winter vacations ideas ~ St George Island beach

St George Island Beach, arturo donate, cc

Don’t miss visiting St. George Island when in the Apalachicola area.  We enjoyed our day trip to the 22-mile barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico because of its unspoiled, serene beach and quaint little “town.”  Although the beach homes seemed upscale, there were no high rises to be seen anywhere on this untouched island.
(HOTELS IN APALACHIOLA)

Related:

Save on your hotel - hotelscombined.com


Do you have any winter vacation ideas you’d like to add?  Let your thoughts in the comments below!


 

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Winter Decor: How To Create Cozy After Christmas Is Gone & You’re Broke

The dream of creating cozy winter decor on a budget throughout our home is the only thing that’s saving my soul this week as I continue to remove Christmas decorations.  As usual, I went a little overboard creating a Christmas wonderland inside and outside our home and taking it all down only adds to the feeling of bare nakedness around here.  Even though most of us are glad to have a clean slate without the Christmas decor, we miss that cozy feeling.  I’m thrilled to show you how I’m using affordable winter home decorations to create a winter haven we can’t wait to come home to.

view of cozy winter decor in a living room with couch, rug, cover, laptop




HOW-TO WINTER DECOR

To me, cozy winter decor means a mixture of differently-textured winter white and cream fabrics, variety of wood and greenery accents, lots of twinkle lights, icy silver touches, and a tiny bit of dark gray and/or black pieces to ground everything. Kind of sounds like a snowy winter forest, doesn’t it.  Yep, that’s pretty much the look I’m going for this year.

Outdoor winter decor can follow suit with the non Christmas winter decorations I described above and can be very minimal in design.  I’m one for clean lines even outdoors so that our yard doesn’t appear too junky.  A winter porch can be transformed with just a few simple touches.

AFFORDABLE COZY DECOR IDEAS

It’s amazing what the addition of a cozy blankets, lights, and nature can add to a room during the dull winter months.  The idea is to keep layering all these different textures until you are in love with the level of coziness.

  • non Christmas winter decorations
  • cozy textured blankets and pillows
  • lots of soft twinkly and flickering lights
  • all the white & green nature pieces

WHITE WREATHS

The first step of cozy decorating in the winter months on a budget is to dig through the decor you already own to see if you have a few items that scream “winter” instead of holiday that you may not have considered.  A perfect example is this winter white wreath that is flocked but doesn’t evoke a Christmas feel.

Not only do winter white wreaths look striking when placed on the front door, a flocked snow wreath will look great indoors as part of winter wall decor to go along with a vignette cluster.  I’m obsessed with this one…


view of white winter decor wreath with twinkly lights
snow wreath

TEXTURED BLANKETS & PILLOWS

Blankets and pillows are a classic way to change up the decor during any season without spending much money.  You have to look carefully as some can get pricey, but there are plenty budget ones to be found in practically every store containing home decor.

check out the low price on this white throw

CANDLES AND TWINKLE LIGHTS

Ah, one of my favorite things to add to the home that makes me oh so happy… twinkling and flickering soft light sources.  There’s nothing like walking into a room with flickering candles to take your stress levels down several levels almost immediately.  I’ll be adding candles or remote controlled lights to the living, office and bedrooms this winter and I suggest the same for you.

These flameless tealight candles are my newest purchase to discreetly place all over the house.  I love them because they look more like mini pillars instead of typically tealights.  They are bright white, super cute, and I got a dozen for under $7.  If you want small pillar set, I would suggest THESE.

my favorite tea light candles

WOOD & GREENERY

Bringing in elements from the outdoors really creates a sense of calm and coziness that’s hard to find elsewhere.  White birch wood mixed with darker toned pieces are easy to find this season in many of the stores.

natural decor birch branches

COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT WINTER DECOR

  1. How can I make my house more cozy in the winter?  blah blah blah
  2. How do you make a small living room cozy?  The great thing about having a small room to decorate is that it won’t take much to create a cozy feel.  Literally just adding one thick winter throw, some twinkle lights, and one other winter decor statement piece will work wonders.
  3. How do I make my family room cozy?  To begin, read the answer to #2 and then stand back and look at your room.  If it’s larger, look for one spot at a time that could use filling up.  Do you have a corner that needs some height?  Add a twinkle light tree.  Have a small space that could use a dark basket full of blankets or books?  Think in terms of laying piece by piece until it’s as cozy as you want it!

Related:

One last tip for creating a cozy winter home is to check out the sales that Wayfair is offering right now.  There are some incredible deals to meet the needs of every home.


Do you have any cozy winter decor tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


 

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Word Of The Year: How To Choose Focus And Inspiration For Mom Life

Happy brand spanking new year!  It seems like everyone is talking about their word of the year and 2019 New Year’s resolutions.  How do you feel about that?  I must admit I thought the whole inspiring word thing was silly.  Obviously I have changed my mind and I want to share with you how simple it can be to choose a word to keep you motivated and focused throughout the year and why you should do it as soon as possible!  Hold tight, because this post is pretty personal and I know you aren’t used to too much of that around here!

view of boardwalk for pondering word of the year




WORD OF THE YEAR BACKSTORY

I felt led to come up with an inspirational word of the year a couple years ago and I have to say that it really worked wonders on motivating me all throughout the year.  You can read the whole post about my intentional year but let me just say that I stopped floundering with life and was actually intentional about everything during that time.

It worked.  I had a simple mantra to focus on and when I felt as if I was floundering, I would think about being intentional.  From that moment on, I’ve been a real believer in this inspirational word of the year thing.

Now I don’t really do the whole New Year’s resolutions thing so much because the goals that I typically choose are super vague and huge.  Yes, I think it’s good to dream big but I don’t enjoy failing and when I’ve read resolutions from year’s past, I feel more defeated than ever because I didn’t accomplish them.

MY WORD OF THE YEAR

Mid-December I struggled to think of what mine needed to be for 2019.  But, God has such a sense of humor that I kept stumbling on quotes, conversations, and scriptures after that so that I would know exactly what my 2019 word should be…

courage

noun, the quality of mind or spirit that enables person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

You see, I have major fear issues.  I do.  Legitimate circumstances that must be dealt with from my past AND other fears on the daily.  Both of those things cause me to hold back.  Y’all see the real me but I constantly feel myself holding back from letting y’all see ALL of me.

I don’t mean that I’ve been hiding a messy home or hot mess hairdos.  No, I’m talking about the fact that I hold back some of the things I really want to share in words and letting my full personality shine.  I’m a pretty quirky gal and I guess I fear rejection.

Sounds silly, I know, for someone my age to be worried about such, but I know the Lord is prompting me to transparently share with you more. I know without a doubt I am to write a book this year about my past and that I’m to write without fear daily – I’m going to need lots O’ courage to follow through on those lofty New Year’s goals!

HOW TO FIND YOUR 2019 WORD

As you’ve considered thankfulness in the fall, spent lots of quality time with loved ones, and maybe caught a few sappy Christmas movies that made you think, I’m sure it’s made you be at least a little bit retrospective about your life.  Here are a few ideas of how to find your own word of the year…

  • overall thoughts of 2018
  • prayers
  • scripture
  • lists & quizzes

2018 THOUGHTS

Just take a few moments to be mindful about how you feel 2018 went overall.  What did the Lord show you or teach you last year?  What did you accomplish?  What do you want to improve?  Thinking of these things in retrospect can help you know what direction your new year should take.

PRAYER

When taking any major steps in life, it’s always best to spend time talking to the creator.  Amen?  Only He can point you in the direction that is truly best for you to take in the days ahead.  Spend some quiet alone time and ask Him to reveal to you what HE wants for your life right now.

SCRIPTURE

After prayer with the Lord, spend some time in His word while being open to learning through it.  You can also search for scriptures on topics that have popped in your mind after prayer and scripture reading.

LISTS & QUIZZES

I thought it would be fun to share a few words that you may can choose from & then my favorite word of the year quiz below:

  • compassion
  • faith
  • belief
  • courage
  • intentional
  • finish
  • explore
  • fearless
  • brave
  • focus
  • grace
  • growth
  • hope
  • hospitality
  • truth
  • strength
  • wisdom

I personally love and adore anything Dayspring.  Find Your Word Of The Year For 2019 and Take The Quiz Now! Their Word of the Year quiz is my favorite because it is short and quick but digs in just enough to really see what fits each person!

YOU MAY NEED…

I’ve been asked to share my favorite Bible often and it occurred to me to share it here.

my favorite Bible

Related:


Do you have a word of the year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


 

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

4 Places To Go In The Southern States For Magical Winter Memories

This is more than a Christmas in the South events list, these are 4 magical places to go in the Southern states that have incredible experiences to enjoy all winter long.  Not only that, they are some of the absolute best places to visit in the Southern USA for a winter family vacation, in my humble opinion.  Not lacking for winter wonderland status, you’ll fall in love with these glorious family destinations for your next winter vacay! Fortunately, I was blessed to travel in the South to some of these spots throughout my childhood and have been able to take my own family as well.

view of winter road for places to go in the southern states

Save on your hotel - hotelscombined.com

PLACES TO GO IN THE SOUTHERN STATES

One thing is for certain… my family sure knew how to travel and have fun during my childhood.  My maternal Grandfather loved nothing more than to load up all ten of our immediate family members and haul us to fabulous places around the Southeastern U.S.  I blame him for my insatiable appetite for travel and my longing to become the travel journalist in the glorious South that I am now!

Travel during the holidays can be absolutely magical for sure, and contrary to popular belief, it is possible to have a fantastic family vacation during the time frame from December 26th until springtime.  Some of our best vacations have been in the winter – even at the beach!

view of st simons lighthouse for places to go in the southern states

Winter vacation on St. Simons Island, Georgia

VACATIONS IN THE SOUTH FAQs

  • Which states are truly Southern?

This was a popular question, so I’ll answer it.  In my humble opinion, the true Southern states are those who geographically appear in the lower section of the U.S. AND still participate willingly in unique Southern culture when it comes to food, vocabulary, conservative-ism, style, hospitality, and manners.  Ideally, when I think of the South, I think fondly of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas.

Some parts of Georgia (Atlanta) and the entire state of Florida are not considered southern by some.  I can attest to the fact that a lot of people that settle in Atlanta, Georgia come from all over the world and are NOT a part of our Southern culture, but many folks that do live in Atlanta are still southern.  The North Georgia mountains, all the way to the bottom of Georgia in the Okefenokee Swamp area, you won’t meet more hospitable and kind people – a trait of southern-ism.

The same holds true for many fine folks of Florida that we’ve met on our travels.  We have met some of the most talkative and helpful folks in our Florida travels who say “Y’all,” just like we do.

  • If THTG considers 10 states to be southern, why do you only write about a few of them?

I wish I could write about all of the Southern states but I honestly only write about the ones that we are closest to most often so we can give you amazing insider information.

4 MAGICAL PLACES IN THE SOUTH TO VISIT THIS WINTER

These spots are breathtaking places to take the family that are unlike other travel destinations they’ve seen before.  Enjoy!

#1  DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON

One of our absolute favorite places in the South, Charleston, South Carolina never disappoints no matter what time of year we visit.  Another thing I can guarantee is that throughout the winter season, there are more charming experiences than you could possibly attend.  Most of the magical Christmas in Charleston events last until January 1st just in case you can’t get there until after Santa’s visit.  The 29th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island (one of Charleston’s five islands), and the College of Charleston Holiday Light Show Spectacular are two that last until then.

Charleston gate pictures and one of the best places to go in the southern states

Just one of the many Christmas iron gates that dot the gorgeous city of Charleston at the holidays

January and February in Charleston don’t slow down by any means either.  Be sure to visit the Charleston Restaurant Week, Charleston Jazz Festival, Lowcountry Oyster Festival, and the Southeastern Wildlife exposition just to name a few.

#2 DAHLONEGA’S OLD FASHIONED CELEBRATION

December in Dahlonega Georgia is jam-packed with family activities to thrill the whole family – right in the heart of this historic gold mine town.  Similar to a cozy Hallmark town [oh yeah, Hallmark already DID film a movie here], you’ll feel right at home in this friendly, mountain community.

From November 23rd through December 23rd, the already gorgeous downtown area turns into an old fashioned, magical experience with caroling, Christmas tree lighting, gingerbread house contests, a Christmas Market, and more.

view of Dahlonega Gold Museum at Christmas as one of the best places to go in the southern states

Dahlonega, Georgia Gold Museum all decked out for Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration in Historic Downtown, muffinn, cc

 

#3  BILTMORE ESTATE

It’s most likely that you’ve heard of the tours of the Biltmore Estate (largest private estate in the U.S.) located in Ashville, North Carolina. because it is one of the more well known places to go in the Southern states. Not only can you feel the wonder of Christmas (up until January 6th) with its elegant decorations, live music, lights galore, and Candlelight Christmas Evenings, there’s lots of memorable events all winter.

The Biltmore room at Christmas as one of the best places to go in the southern states

Just one view of The Biltmore decorated in all its Christmas glory from one of the top floors down the spiral staircase, Caymon, cc

Close your eyes and imagine a winter getaway weekend where you can actually stay onsite at the Biltmore Estate.  Crowds and prices are lowest to visit from January 7th until March.  If you want an exceptional activity, attend the Vanderbilt House Party  and see what the Gilded Age’s was like with vivid audio storytelling and displays of clothing to pretend that you are a guest to Biltmore in the 1900s.

 

#4 OPRYLAND

Although the theme park called Opryland USA closed in 199, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is an experience like no other at Christmastime and one of the most magical places to go in the Southern states.  The atrium (pictured below) delivers an extraordinary view of larger-than-life decorations, lights, and waterfalls.

view of Opryland Tennessee as one of best places to go in the southern states

The Grand Opryland Hotel at Christmastime! denise mattox, cc

Of course, no Nashville, Tennessee family vacation would be complete without riding through the famous Music Valley Drive and catching a Show or tour at the Grand Ole Opry.

Whether you choose to spend your winter wonderland family vacation in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, or North Carolina, I hope these details about these magical winter destinations in the South were helpful to you!

YOU MAY NEED…

For all your travels to places to go in the Southern states and beyond, this handy dandy little travel adapter is a lifesaver for those of us that need want to make sure our devices are charged no matter where we travel!  What I love is that this universal plug has three USB ports and a surge protector too.  Love it!

 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Disney World Hacks 

Key West vacation ideas for families





Which one of the places to go in the Southern states would you like to visit first?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


 

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

How To Keep House Clean Daily Without It Taking Over Your Life

Knowing how to keep house clean daily without it taking over sounds life-changing, doesn’t it?  Because, let’s face it, stinky laundry, dirty dishes, and dusty spaces aren’t going away.  AmIright?  Please hear this… my house is never perfectly clean – just ask the fam.  The better question I love answering is “What is the fastest way to clean a house daily so it will stay that way?” I’ve discovered ways to keep a fairly tidy house on the daily AND without it stressing me out or taking over my life.  I can’t wait to show you how I “get it done” quickly! 

how to keep house clean daily without it taking over is life-changing - woman wiping counter




HOW TO KEEP HOUSE CLEAN DAILY

Let’s get one thing clear… my house is not perfect – ever!  I like a tidy home but it’s certainly very “lived in.”  And that’s OK! I have struggled greatly through the years with always feeling like our house was a mess and praying that no one would show up unexpectedly.  I remember have many near panic attacks when I’d hear a vehicle in the drive or a knock on the door.

One day, I decided that I needed to figure out an easy system where our home would at least be decent if unexpected company arrived.  I have to finally resolve (with small kids) that as long as the living space and kitchen were picked up and tidy, friends and family would overlook the rest.

But I have figured out a few hacks that have become little habits that make me happy with my home – without wasting time or stressing about it always.  Perfection is not allowed around here when it comes to housecleaning.  

HOW TO KEEP HOUSE CLEAN DAILY SERIES

Guess what?!  This is the first in a new homemaking series for the working and stay-at-home women that just want to not only know how to keep house clean the fastest way possible and freedom from cleaning all the time.  If there’s a ‘shortcut’ in cooking or cleaning, I’m gonna find it and ride it to the moon!  Here a peek at this series:

laundry on a clothesline for how to keep house clean

FORGET PERFECTION

I’ve never wanted a home that is museum-like with cold, lifeless rooms that look as if no one really lives there. But I have fallen into the trap of feeling less-than-enough because I couldn’t seem to keep our home from looking like a train wreck.  

I finally learned that my family appreciates the coziness of a lived-in home more than living with a woman who’s grouchy all of the time trying to keep it perfect.

Conviction much?!  Yeah, I still have to fight that “guilty” mindset and remember that there are more things in life than a perfectly-groomed home.  These days, I have my simple habits in place so that most of the house is decent most of the time (just don’t go snooping around my closets though where all the stuff that doesn’t have a home gets crammed sometimes).

FORGET THE EXCESS

Too much stuff makes me crazy, but I still have to work at de-cluttering because stuff just has a way of sneaking in, doesn’t it?  I’ve found that how to keep house clean includes less stuff that is around the first place, the easier it is to organize and keep home tidy.  A great place to start clearing out the clutter is to read anything by Joshua Becker.

FORGET YOUR TIMELINE

Start in one room at a time to de-clutter.  Do the same with cleaning.  Just like with parenting, you have to pick your battles and stick with it.  Which room does your family spend the most time in?  Declutter and clean that one room today.  Tomorrow, move to the next room on the list.  Don’t try to do everything in one day!

Q&A – COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT KEEPING HOUSE CLEAN

  1. How do you keep your house clean all the time?  As I said before… I don’t.  I worry a little too much about germs most days, so I like to think that things are clean, mostly germ free, and I try to keep the main rooms tidy.  I straighten up first thing in the morning, and before I go to bed.  The rest of the time, I am happy knowing that my family’s home is comfortable and lived in.
  2. What is the fastest way to clean a house?  Whether I have just a sink of dishes, a stack of laundry, or a full room to clean, I love to set a timer and try to beat it.  I make it a game and involve family members when they are home.  It’s pretty fun, actually.
  3. How to keep your house clean and organized when working full time?  Refer back to the part in #1 about how I have a morning and night routine.  That’s what I did when I was working outside the home daily.
  4. How to keep a clean house schedule?  After much practice, I have certain things that I make sure are done in my quick morning and night routine.  Besides those daily cleaning chores, I decide which more time-consuming chore is most pressing for that day… scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning ceilings fans, clean blinds, mop floors, etc.  After my two daily pickups and one time-consuming chore each day, I’m pretty pleased with what gets accomplished each week.  That’s the only schedule I keep.  Anything more complicated and it stresses me out!  😉

YOU MAY NEED…

As mentioned in the scrubbing bathrooms link above, there’s nothing better to me to clean gross toilets than clinging bleach gel toilet bowl cleaner.  Not only does it kill the nasty germs, but you can squeeze it and forget it.  If you haven’t read my toilet bowl cleaner post, do that now!

my fave toilet cleaner
One of the major ways of how to keep house clean is cutting down on the dust and pollen in our home, so I use two weapons… dust magnets and dust catchers.  😉

 

Related:


Do you have any secrets you’d like to share on how to clean house without losing your sanity?  Let me hear from you in the comments!


 

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Printable Christmas Gift List: How To Finally Keep Track Of It All This Year

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a printable Christmas gift list to simply organize the Christmas gift ideas already bought, know who they were for, and what else needs to be bought?  At this point in the holiday season, I need a place to write Christmas gift ideas and then “check off” the Christmas presents that have actually been bought.  I also need a designated spot to “check off” which items on the Christmas gift list have been wrapped and which ones are hidden away somewhere in my bedroom closet!  Guess what?  I created an adorable printable Christmas list that will help to organize your holiday this year!

close up of tree and gifts for printable Christmas gift list

 




PRINTABLE CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST BACKSTORY

You see, years ago when money was VERY tight, this printable Christmas gift list was my lifeline to make sure that the first couple Christmas wish list ideas for each child were taken care of.  The hubs was in law enforcement and I worked full-time, but there was a whole lot more month than money, if you know what I mean. Christmas is such a special time of year for children, and having an organized Christmas list for my frugal Christmas gift shopping helped reduce my stress level by helping me keep track of the essentials I needed to ensure magical Christmas experiences for the kiddos.

Not only does this take a load of stress off of my holiday season, a Christmas gift list template keeps me from overspending.  Since I’m able to clearly see at at glance what has already been taken care of, I don’t run around buying unnecessary filler gifts like I did when I was first married.  You know what I mean… you don’t think you have enough for Aunt Sally, so you buy one more little whatnot.

A master Christmas gift lift is really my best friend as the holiday starts to get insanely busy and I need a true gift tracker.  With super busy days, I would purchase gifts sporadically and then forget what I bought.

OK, it has happened. Please tell me I’m not the only one!

close up of tree and gifts for printable Christmas gift list

PRINTABLE CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST NOTES

Here are a few answers to questions asked about my gift list.  Inevitably, I always have questions when there is a printable product, even when it’s a freebie.

Can I print the Christmas gift list in black and white or color?

This printable can be printed in color or black and white or grayscale just like any other printable product.  I prefer to print mine in color when possible because it is very festive that way.  However, if you are out of colored ink, the list looks lovely as a black and white version as well.

What if my list is longer than this printable?

With everyone in our extended family now, one page of this Christmas gift list template is never enough to fill in all the people and gifts.  I simply print another sheet and staple it to the top sheet.  I also use the back of the printable list to create a wish list for the kiddos before deciding exactly what to buy.

If I want to print another sheet later, how will I find it on the blog?

When you receive this free printable, you will have lifetime access to the secret vault of family travel and cozy home printables at any time.  You’ll also receive an email update from me now and then.  The secret vault to this long list of printables in on  password-protected page on this blog.  You will receive the password in your email and can use that to access our secret place from now to forever.

PRINTABLE CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST DOWNLOAD

Here is the printable list I’ve been raving about.  Here you’ll see pictured the grayscale and color printing options.  Click image below to download your free printable too!

table with printable Christmas gift list on it with decorations

CLICK IMAGE FOR THIS FREE CHRISTMAS PRINTABLE AND OTHERS!

YOU MAY NEED

You may still be in need of some unique, fun, but still practical Christmas gifts.  If so, check out these Christmas gift ideas!


Have you downloaded the Printable Christmas gift list yet?  I’d love to hear about the toughest struggle for you this holiday below in the comments!


Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

How To Prepare For Thanksgiving: 4 Last Minute Tips To Keep Your Sanity

It’s almost Turkey Day and you haven’t done a thing to prepare for Thanksgiving?! Whatever you do, don’t panic!  Even though my crowd will be smaller this year, I still have lots to do and I’m feeling a little behind myself… the house, Thanksgiving meal prep, Thanksgiving decorations!  BUT, we’re guru girls and all it takes is a little more coffee, some inspo, and a whole lot o’ Jesus. Amen? I mean, this is Thanksgiving Day – so here are 4 quick tips to prepare for Thanksgiving in a jiffy without losing your noggin.

close up of pumpkins of different colors to prepare for Thanksgiving

4 Last minute tips to prepare for Thanksgiving

If it makes you feel any better, I’ve written a couple articles lately about how to prepare for Thanksgiving [How to Make Your Home Cozy for Fall & an Easy Thanksgiving Menu] and it always sneaks up on me too.  You see, the weekend before Thanksgiving is my birthday weekend and it’s a new tradition to head to Athens.  So, we’ve just returned from that trip and I need to get my rear in gear as well.

Here’s what we can do right now to enjoy a fun, stress free Thanksgiving Day.

PREPARE FOR THANKSGIVING WITH PICKUPS

All your friends are using the Walmart grocery pickup and/or Kroger’s Clicklist.  Both are free grocery pickups that will deliver your groceries right to your car and you don’t even have to get out.  This eases my stress levels by volumes when I can order and pay online and not have to spend an hour or two inside the grocery store!

PREPARE BY ENLISTING THE FAM

If you are hosting guests for Thanksgiving, decide what the “have tos” are as far as house cleaning goes.  If your house is a disaster, focus on the rooms that are most important to be presentable.  Let go of perfection and do what you can.  Enlist family members with specific tasks if possible, and set a timer to have fun seeing who can complete their chores quickest – emphasis is on having fun.

PREPARE FOR THANKSGIVING WITH MAKE AHEAD DISHES

Whether you are in charge of taking one dish to Grandma’s house or hosting a houseful, decide what you can make ahead today to make last minute touches easier.  For instance, if you are in charge of pies, make them the day ahead.

PREPARE THE TABLES NOW

If you are hosting the meal, as long as cleaning is done, it’s never too early to set the table.  I find that getting the table set ahead of time motivates me to keep going with the beautiful fall colors!  If you have kids attending, be sure to set up their table ahead of time too, equipped with Thanksgiving printables, crayons, and games where applicable.


Are you ready to prepare for Thanksgiving with me?!  Tell me about your plans in the comments!


>Click here to get your free + easy + stressfree Thanksgiving Day printable set<

Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Thanksgiving Travel Tips And Ideas: How To Travel Best This Turkey Week

If Thanksgiving travel is in your near future, then you don’t need my Thanksgiving menu and Printables. Instead, you need Thanksgiving travel tips to get you to your out of town gathering or Thanksgiving travel ideas to get away from it all.  Whether carrying your famous pecan pie cross country or finding a hideaway resort, I’ve got some Thanksgiving travel hacks for you!

close up of Thanksgiving travel road




Thanksgiving Travel Tips

We’re obsessed with enjoying family travel to the fullest, so I hope you find these Thanksgiving travel tips very useful:

Take the scenic route

The best advice I can give when traveling for Thanksgiving festivities with those you love… stay put until the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving is second in line to the busiest ever and the Sunday after Thanksgiving will be pretty crazy also.  It’s pretty easy to find an alternative route rather than driving the interstate like every one else.  Although the hubs isn’t a fan like I am, I call these the “scenic routes” and I find them so much more interesting anyway.

Ship ahead

No you can’t put your kiddos in a box, but you can ship ahead many things that need to go to Grandma’s house that would be too cumbersome to travel with.  Simply weigh out the pros and cons for items that may be easier to get there before you do (especially for Thanksgiving travel by plane or train)!

Pack by outfit 

There’s nothing more frustrating than searching for specific items in a neatly packed suitcase once you make it to your Thanksgiving destination.  When planning your Thanksgiving trip, separate your outfits by ziploc bags or by rolling the outfits up together.  Better yet, use compression travel cubes to keep each days essentials separate and in the smallest area possible.

Thanksgiving Travel Ideas

If your Thanksgiving travel plans include a Thanksgiving week or weekend getaway instead of the traditional turkey day, here are a few ideas.  These trip ideas would be lovely any time of the year, but why not when the weather is at its best!

Secluded cabin in the woods

I don’t know about you, but relaxing in a hidden cabin along the Appalachian Mountains during the glorious fall season is a dream on repeat around here.  The best mountain cabins in my opinion would fall somewhere between Dahlonega Georgia, Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Cades Cove, Tennessee.  Yes, you can’t get any more “Hallmark movie” vibes than these cozy little mountain towns.

Don’t miss the adorably interesting town of Sautee, Georgia, near Dahlonega, and Ashville, North Carolina, near Hendersonville – if you choose to leave your cabin in the woods!

STAY IN CABIN IN CADES COVE VISTA LODGE

Create an outdoor adventure

If you’d rather get out and about outdoors, stay near the Great Smoky National Park, add the REI National Parks app to your phone and plan your visit for a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure.  The app will give you data on the different hiking trails and alert you to important info, natural features, and directions to get there!

view of Smoky Mountains Thanksgiving travel

The Great Smoky Mountains in the fall, Heather Paul, cc

NEARBY THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS

Secluded beach resort

You love the best weekend getaways in the mountains, but sometimes only the beach will heal what ails your busy heart! Here are a secluded beach ideas that will make you think you’re lounging on a tropical island without ever using your passport:

Last minute travel to the barrier isle of St. Simons Island, Georgia is just fine because this laid back beach town has been a favorite of the rich and famous since the 1800s.  Full of historic charm, there are more things to do on St Simons Island for families than there are hours in the day.  Many golf pros on the PGA tour call this quaint island home and it’s a perfect idea for secluded luxury!

Oh, the things to do in Islamorada Florida Keys will have you booking your trip before you can finish this paragraph.  Our family felt completely hidden away from the rest of the world’s cares when we visited recently.  It was our absolute favorite stop on our Florida Beaches tour!

SUGGESTIONS FOR ST SIMONS ISLAND

SUGGESTIONS FOR ISLAMORADA FLORIDA


Where is Your Thanksgiving travel taking you this year?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!





Shan

Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and Guru of “all things calm & cozy home.”

She shares “how-to” plan the best family vacations in the South with reviews & secrets that Women REALLY want to know. She also has quick home hacks to create a comfy space we all crave & easy recipes to knock your socks off!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️