outside

the dunson family

It was a beautiful evening at the pumpkin patch when I met up with this sweet family. Remember their announcement photos we shared here? It was so much fun working with them back then and even more so now that sweet little Ryder is here! And he is very much a chunky monkey at three months old! We did a short session and had a great time together. I love working with this family! Things went very smoothly overall—Ryder was a champ and I only sat in one pricker bush, ha!  I think their photos are darling and I can't wait to see these Christmas cards! 


apples, apples, apples

Last week we rang in the fall season with a family trip on a big special day, Jonah's birthday. It was a lovely, cooler-than-average-for-Georgia kind of day, perfect for spending outdoors. We headed up north where there are heaps of orchards and pumpkin patches to explore. Our choice was B.J. Reece Orchards, mostly because they had apple-picking open during the weekdays. It's a pretty popular place (especially on weekends) and we LOVED that it was so empty during a weekday. It made the whole experience of picking apples even more pleasant because there weren't any crowds to fight. We were able to take our time and take in the full experience as a family. The boys had a blast picking apples, running down the lanes in the orchard and generally being out in the beautiful sunshine and clean north-Georgia air. Not to mention all the apples you can "sample" as you go. I am not sure we have a photo where Aleksandr isn't munching an apple! 

We ended up picking half a bushel, then headed into the shop to see what other yummy things they had for sale (donuts, cider, and bags upon bags of apples). We were not disappointed with our choice of a dozen apple cider donuts, and ANOTHER half bushel of apples. So that gave us a grand total of one full bushel of apples. In other words that's around 50 lbs. of apples! Why so many? We were going to head out with our half bushel when I noticed they had a "seconds" section. Apples that had been picked but were old, or had been bruised. They were half price, and after looking at a bag (it was clear so we could see the apples), we saw only a couple in it that seemed to be "gently used". 

I have to say that I have been having fun seeing how far these apples will go, and Jonah is having fun keeping a tab on how many different items we can create. Yes, he even has a list to check off. Our tally at this point (a week later): apple chips, applesauce, apple crisp, apple butter, apple hand pies, baked apples, apple muffins, apple juice, and apple filling for pies. 

I have a little less than half a bushel left and we have some of these apple items in the freezer, so I'd say we are whittling away at it successfully! I really have enjoyed the apple peeling dates with Jonah! 

After the orchard we headed up to Amicalola Falls State Park. Jonah and I have been there way back when, on our first anniversary, so it was special to get to head back with our boys. It was the first time they'd seen a real live waterfall, and it is such a beautiful one too. A day filled with outdoor adventure made it a very special birthday celebration! 

at the gulf coast

We have been home from vacation for about a week now and can honestly say we still miss the beach! Everyone has a favorite vacationing spot, and ours is definitely on the beach, soaking up some sun, jumping in the waves and living the coastal life. 

Our family vacation this year took us to a couple of spots in Florida: Pensacola and Destin. We stayed with family and thoroughly enjoyed the time with them! Our days were filled with great memories, yummy food (always a favorite part of traveling), sandy beaches, lots of laughter and even some thrift store shopping (woohoo!).

We wanted to share some of our favorite photos from the trip, as well as some great local places to try out if you are in the area. 

In Pensacola, there is an amazing fish market called Joe Patti's Seafood. It's a unique and fun experience to visit as it's fairly busy there. When you arrive, you pick a number to be called on (like in a deli) and tell them what you want. There's a long row of seafood selections behind the glass counters and it can be a little overwhelming when you are narrowing down your choices. Luckily for us our brother (a Pensacola native) was a pro at ordering and took it all in stride! While he ordered, we toured the place and showed the lobsters to our boys, which was pretty thrilling for them. One lobster that was being purchased weighed in at a whopping 14 lbs.! There is also a gelato bar inside that offers free cups of vanilla gelato to children. It was seriously some of the best tasting gelato we've ever had. We can still taste the rich, deep, vanilla tones of it, that make you think you are almost eating a freshly baked waffle cone. Yum! If only they had gallon containers to take home. We came away from Joe Patti's with some delicious shrimp and several varieties of fish, not to mention sushi, and it was all delicious! It's definitely worth a visit if you are in the Pensacola area.

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Part of our trip was also spent in Destin. We shared a condo with family and it was the best decision for us (as a family with little ones).  When you are traveling with small children it's wonderful to be able to have separate bedrooms if possible, since there are still nap schedules and bed times to think about. Granted the bed times get pushed a bit later than usual, but having a closed room for them, while the adults can hang out, is definitely the way to go. Our condo was beautiful with an amazing view of both the ocean in front of us and the bay beside us. We had our own kitchen (which was wonderful to help save a little on eating out) as well as a washer and dryer. That was also fabulous so that we didn't have a few suitcases full of dirty laundry to lug back with us. In comparing a condo to a hotel, the condo definitely won out for our family.

One evening our criteria for dinner was a bit unusual to say the least: find a restaurant (non-chain) that served fried pickles. We headed out to a place in Sandestin that was located in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Tucked away from the road and located inside a resort, it was a neat place to walk around and see sights as a family. There were a lot of options for restaurants and dessert, but also a variety of activities to try out too for the kids (and adults for that matter). We let Oliver ride the carousel with his cousin and it was kind of magical to see it all lit up at night. A neat place to explore and also to snap a few family shots!
(And by the way, we did have some fried pickles here, and they were amazing!)

Funny story. We took the boys to a local park and while we were there we had two weird (or rather a bit abnormal) encounters. One was that Aleksandr found a live crawfish (minus one claw) crawling around. Guess who decided to take it home and boil it for a little afternoon snack? (it was not Carrie). And secondly, we witnessed the strength of a very determined squirrel, who found an apple in the garbage and proceeded to carry it with his teeth up a tree! Um, what in the world? It's kind of fun to visit parks out state! 

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Finally we ended our visit back in Pensacola. A favorite spot was walking along the dock at the harbor watching all the big boats. When you have little boys it's pretty easy to find something that captivates their attention, but as adults it was really a perfect way to end an evening. The sun was setting, the breeze was coming up off the water, and we loved seeing the variety of yachts and sailboats anchored at the marina. One of the prettiest ones was a great big red one. We were able to watch this one pull out to sea, which was pretty exciting for the boys to watch. We loved the whole trip and can't wait to go back again!