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:

How To Make Beef Stir Fry In Minutes – Healthy + Fast + Oh So Tasty

Are thoughts of yummy stir fry dancing in your head?  Wait, then you remember how the MSG makes you feel?  I loved it but had to figure out how to make beef stir fry at home very quickly and in a way that didn’t make me regret eating it.  What I’ve learned is that you don’t need a fancy wok or rare sauce – throwing together a yummy stir fry is actually very easy! This is an accidental healthy beef stir fry recipe that can be easily modified and known as chicken stir fry or how to make vegetable stir fry by omitting meat.

close up of beef stir fry in the skillet


HOW TO MAKE BEEF STIR FRY BACKSTORY

I tried to figure out how to make beef stir fry on my own and failed miserably several times.  Either my meat was tough and tasteless or the entire dish lacked any flavor at all.  Oh, and I dreaded chopping all those veggies only to end up with soggy broccoli and carrots that hadn’t been cooked enough.  I basically gave up on trying to cook stir fry at home.

A few things happened though…

#1  I continued to love the flavor of chicken stir fry or beef stir fry at restaurants when the family wanted to eat at those places.

#2  Each time I would eat takeout stir fry, I would be in such discomfort (as would the rest of my family) for hours afterward that I would vow to not eat it again in my lifetime.  A couple months later, I would crave the dish and eat it again.

#3  We needed a healthy dinner ideas that consisted of lean protein and vegetables.  I thought about how healthy stir fry could be if I could infuse flavor so that it tasted great without all the negatives.

STIR FRY FAQS

How do you make stir fry vegetables?

Traditionally, stir fry is a Chinese-inspired dish in which vegetables are added to a wok of hot oil and coated with soy sauce, ginger, and sesame seeds.  Although many Asian restaurants in the U.S. use a similar method, many of us prepare this meal at home without a wok and with a variety of ingredients.

To me, this dish is still considered stir fry as long as the hot oil and veggies are cooked in the same manner and a similar sauce is used.  We are soy-free at my house so we have a few variations to make sure it is still tasty and simple.

What can you put in a stir fry?

The fun answer is that you can add whatever vegetables that you want to your stir fry and the meat that floats your boat.

My specific answer is that the thin, sirloin beef that I prefer is the tastiest and quickest meat to prepare in this dish.  You know me, if it isn’t a quick and easy dish, I’m not making it!

My go-to beef stir fry jam consists of thin cuts of steak, a bag of vegetable medley that’s already pre-chopped with broccoli, carrots, & cauliflower, and other fresh veggies I have hiding in the fridge like onions, and peppers.  When you purchase the pre-cut strips of steak and a bag of chopped veggies, you literally just pour it all it!  That’s my kind of cooking.

That’s what is so awesome about this beef stir fry recipe is that you can change it up to include your faves and experiment with others as you have confidence.

how to make beef stir fry close up of meat and veggies in a skilletCan you use fresh or frozen veggies?

You can use either.  I prefer to use a bag full of fresh vegetables.  If the stir fry vegetables are frozen they will just take longer to cook.

Is this recipe low carb, gluten free, dairy free, and soy free?

Yes, yes, and yes.  Many folks pour lots of soy sauce (especially restaurants) that’s loaded with MSG. We found a healthier soy sauce years ago and switched to it.

We have since decided to avoid soy as much as possible, so we skip the mainstream and healthier version.  When we do want that flavor, our favorite is Bragg’s Coconut Aminos.  It tastes like soy but without the consequences associated with it.

AH-MAZING soy sauce alternative
 

BEEF STIR FRY INGREDIENTS

Exact measurements for this recipe are on the printable recipe card below, but here are the ingredients at a glance.

  • coconut oil
  • sirloin thin-cut beef
  • garlic salt
  • pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • raw vegetable medley

HOW TO MAKE BEEF STIR FRY STEP BY STEP

This stir fry recipe is seriously one of the quickest and easiest meals to make that just has the bonus of being super healthy as well!are so easy that you’ll be making them as a side dish all the time!

Follow these steps and tips for perfect stir fry every time, friend!You’ll find a printable recipe card below with more specifics but here are the basics of how to make beef stir fry:

  1. Warm coconut oil in the skillet on med-high
  2. Season beef strips with garlic salt and pepper while oil is warming
  3. Cook two or three minutes on each side until brown.  Don’t worry about cooking all the way through.
  4. When browned, turn burner down to medium heat
  5. Remove meat from skillet to plate and sit aside
  6. Add olive oil to skillet until hot
  7. Pour veggies into skillet and stir
  8. Stir to coat with olive oil and cook on medium, stirring often for about 4 minutes.
  9. Add the meat back in and mix together to cook for another one or two minutes until meat is done.
  10. Adjust this cooking time according to how crispy or soft you like your veggies.
  11. With this cooking time, the veggies are still crispy and firm without tasting raw.

TIPS FOR THE BEST STIR FRY

To get the best results for your easy meal, try these tips I’ve learned the hard way:

  • use a huge pan – I prefer a large skillet or huge Teflon pan
  • add more olive oil over vegetables to really pour on the flavor
  • don’t overcook the meat
  • buy cheaper cuts of beef & cut into strips yourself

YOU MAY NEED…

So the beauty of this recipe is that you can buy strips of steak and a bag of raw vegetables that are ready to go with no prep work.  However, to save money, you may want to do the slicing yourself.

If that is the case, I can’t tell you how much having a few amazing kitchen knives on hand will make your life simplified.  These are technically steak knives but they are so sharp, yet safe, and I use them for everything!!!  I’ve become such a knife snob!

my ABSOLUTE favorite kitchen knives
 

OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY

HOW TO COOK GREEN BEANS LIKE A BOSS: NO FAIL SECRETS TO TASTY & EASY
LOW CARB CROCKPOT ITALIAN MEATBALLS: 3 INGREDIENTS + 10 MIN. PREP!
LOW CARB CHOCOLATE CHIPS MUFFINS YOU’LL SWEAR AREN’T HEALTHY

Here’s your printable pound cake recipe card:

How To Make Beef Stir Fry In Minutes
 
Ingredients
  • coconut oil
  • sirloin thin-cut beef
  • garlic salt
  • pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • raw vegetable medley
Instructions
  1. Warm coconut oil in the skillet on med-high
  2. Season beef strips with garlic salt and pepper while oil is warming
  3. Cook two or three minutes on each side until brown. Don't worry about cooking all the way through.
  4. When browned, turn burner down to medium heat
  5. Remove meat from skillet to plate and sit aside
  6. Add olive oil to skillet until hot
  7. Pour veggies into skillet and stir
  8. Stir to coat with olive oil and cook on medium, stirring often for about 4 minutes.
  9. Add the meat back in and mix together to cook for another one or two minutes until meat is done.
  10. Adjust this cooking time according to how crispy or soft you like your veggies.
  11. With this cooking time, the veggies are still crispy and firm without tasting raw.


Do you have any secrets you’d like to share about how to make beef stir fry?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


 

Follow:
Shan
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 ☕️

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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!


 

Follow:
Shan
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 ☕️

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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 a little too junky.  A beautiful 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 flame-less 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. I hope this helps you to be a little less overwhelmed when trying to implement a warm environment. Have fun!


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


 

Follow:
Shan
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 ☕️

Share:

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!


 

Follow:
Shan
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 ☕️

Share:

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. I hope to add more and more states as I am able to have more travel time!

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 THESE:

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!


 

Follow:
Shan
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 ☕️

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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:

view of 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.  😉

 

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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!


 

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Shan
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 ☕️

Share: