The Apple House: Linden, Virginia

On the way back from the cabin, some of our friends said that they were going to The Apple House in Linden, VA, and we decided to tag along.

The Apple House is a “vintage eatery and country store known for its BBQ and cider donuts and serves American fare all day.”

And that really sums it up nice and neatly.

What it doesn’t do justice to is the food. It is PHENOMENAL, and those doughnuts are. to. die. for.

Seriously.

I don’t know when doughnuts became one of my favorite things, but let me tell you, good doughnuts are amazing. And The Apple House makes some pretty spectacular ones.

The Apple House is along the road just across from the Warren County sign. This means it gets a lot of travelers and bikers that stop in. It’s often booked from what we’ve been told, and there was a steady stream of customers while we were there.

You enter through the store and place your order at the register. Once you pay and are seated, someone brings your food out to you. The service is pretty quick which was great for us because Little Bit was getting fussy. (She really hates car rides.)

The Fellow got The Bully Burger – 1/2 pound Angus burger with Cheddar cheese, candied jalapenos, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Even though I’m not a jalapeno gal, I tried a bite, and let me tell you, those candied jalapenos were almost enough to convert me!

I decided to go with the Redskins Rocking Rooster which is grilled chicken breast with bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Slap Ya Mama on a bun. I love a good chicken sandwich, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

I wish that I had taken pictures of the food and store while we were there, but we were trying to juggle our meals and Little Bit, so I didn’t get to snap any. They have a cute outdoor seating area, as well with some photo props, and in the summer they serve ice cream.

Places like The Apple House are what make road trips and vacations all the better. You should absolutely put it on your “To Try” list!

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First Family Vaca

Hey There!

If you’re a long-time reader, you may remember that last year we rented a cabin in Luray, Virginia, to ring in the New Year.

This year we did the same thing, just a week or so into January. Last year it was just us and two friends. This year there were around nine of us spread out over three cabins!

It was a great, long weekend. We spent some time relaxing with friends on the porch (because it was WAY too warm for January), played board games, and chilled in the hot tub in the evenings. I even got to re-read a favorite, old book!

The cabin is a nice choice for us because we get to unplug and relax. With no cell phone service or Internet, there is nothing from the outside world pulling our attention away.

The cabin that we booked this year had the hot tub right on the porch, that way once Little Bit went down for the night, we could relax just a few feet away using our video baby monitor to check on her. Ah, the best of both worlds!

Having Little Bit with us was actually less of a challenge than I had anticipated. The hardest thing was that I packed warm clothes for her. We anticipated it being cold, but it was balmy, and the gas fireplace had issues regulating the temperature down as low as we needed it. We wound up having to run both the fireplace AND the A.C. to get it to a comfortable temperature.

We like a January vacation because it breaks up the cold, winter weather (when we have cold, winter weather) and gives us a nice rest after the holidays to just relax before getting back into the swing of things. It also gives us something to enjoy while we wait for summer vacations.

Does anyone else take a winter vaca? Tell me why and your favorite place to go to get away in the comments below.

New Year, New Life.

Hey There!

I can’t believe that it’s 2020 already. No, really, I wrote 2019 in my gratitude journal for a solid week before I realized it. It doesn’t help that now that I’m working at home I don’t type the date 100 times every day.

Staying at home with Little Bit and starting my own company has at the same time been an easy transition and a huge change. There are days when I feel like I’ve got it – I can do everything, and then there are days when the only thing that I get accomplished is snuggling the baby.

We’re learning though and figuring it out.

I think the hardest thing for me has been being on her schedule. Before I had the baby, I had in my head what a perfect morning was. Get up around 5:00-6:00, shower, coffee (Thanks to my folks I now actually have a real coffee maker! It’s an electronic percolator which we think makes the best coffee.), work for a few hours, take care of the baby, work during the baby’s nap, make dinner, put the baby down for the night and go to bed no later than 11:00.

You know what they say . . . “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

It’s more along the lines of . . .

Wake up at 4 something, feed and change the baby, pump, go back to bed. Up at 6 something, feed and change the baby. Realize I should stay up for the day, but I lost 1-2 hours of sleep in the middle of the night, so I can sleep in until 7:30 when The Fellow gets up for work. Then it’s time to (to quote Dolly) “Stumble to the kitchen and pour myself a cup of ambition” and work as much as I can until the baby fusses. Either she’s in a mood to be snuggled and all work stops until she naps or it’s hands down day, and I get a ton done. Oh crap, I have to tidy up the house and cook dinner. Am I out of freezer meals yet? Nope? Score! Or nope, but I didn’t thaw one that should’ve been in the Crockpot 4 hours ago. Get dinner made, eat, dishes done, try to work on a house project with The Fellow, and then it’s bedtime for Little Bit which depending on the night is a 1-3 hour endeavor of sitting in a dimly lit room reading her a bedtime story, feeding her a bottle, snuggling, rocking and singing “lullabies” which are actually every song I have ever memorized that are remotely suitable for a child, otherwise known as the entirety of the WV 4-H songbook.

But, it’s amazing.

Every hour I get to work I enjoy.

I don’t care how many loads of laundry I fold a week.

Bedtime has become my favorite part of the day.

I’m so grateful for those adorable moments of her clinging to my shirt as I rock her in the middle of the night, and I wouldn’t have things any other way.

Snow and Nostalgia

Hey There!

We finally had our first snow day of the winter. It seems like we never get to have a white Christmas anymore. It’s always January when we get a little white stuff.

I’ve been waiting for the first real snow because I was so excited to spend a day snuggled up with Little Bit enjoying some pretty snow, peace, and coziness.

Maybe it’s because warm beverages go hand in hand with snowy days, or I was thinking about future snow days with my precious girl, but I found myself reminiscing about my tea parties as a child.

Now, you all know that I’m a tea lover, but I don’t really think that I had much of a choice!

Growing up I had three sets of grandparents – my maternal grandparents, my maternal great-grandparents, and my paternal grandparents.

My paternal grandparents gifted me a beautiful child-sized porcelain tea set with red roses on it that I loved.

My great-grandparents gave me the same, but with green and white checked bows printed on it, and it lived at their house. Whenever I’d go over, Nanny would make me tea, and I would have a tea party. It was always real tea, with lots of milk and sugar, and usually cinnamon sugar toast to go with it. (It wasn’t sweet enough if you couldn’t run your finger around the bottom of the cup when you were done and scrape out a glob of milky sugar.)

My maternal grandparents didn’t keep a tea set there for me. Instead, Grammy let me use this one specific small blue and white Dutch scene teacup. I would sit at a tiny glass table in their living room and drink tea and eat buttery toast. I have that cup in my China hutch now, complete with glued handle from where I dropped it when I was little.

Even at my house, I had a tin tea set that had been my mother’s as a child that I played with.

I have so many memories tied to tea and many of them on cold snowy days in winter. I hope that Little Bit and I will have just as many amazing memories around tea and tea parties. I know that I sure plan to!

I Quit!

Yesterday, my FMLA ran out.

Yesterday, I was supposed to go back to my corporate job, sit down at my desk, and resume the same tasks I’ve been doing for the last 6 years.

Yesterday, I didn’t.

Two days before Christmas, I offered my 8-5 job my two weeks notice and they said, “It’s okay. We don’t want you to stress about finding care for the new baby.” #blessthem

So, instead, I snuggled my little one. I worked on client tasks and looked for the few more clients I need to be fully booked. (More on that below.)

Yesterday, I said “yes” to focusing on jobs I’m passionate about, to connecting with clients who are impacting the world, and to spending more time with my family.

Last year, I started working on my own little business –Luna Online Services. It’s a remote business where I offer virtual support to entrepreneurs.

I handle customer service, managing an inbox, sorting and prioritizing emails, scheduling meetings, responding to customer requests or issues, help customers navigate product offerings, create response templates for reoccurring questions and write SOPs. In addition to the day-to day-business services I offer, I also can provide social media assistance in the form of creating graphics, posts, and follower/engagement support.

I’m excited and terrified, stepping out on faith, and so ready for this next season!

Why Do We Talk About Labor?

Hey There!

I thought I’d take a break from Christmas posts to voice something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Why do we talk about labor?

It seems like the main thing that we talk about with pregnant women is labor, and, honestly, I didn’t want to hear it.

We’ve all seen the movies and heard the horror stories. I know just how wrong it can go, and the US’s maternal mortality rate was ever foremost in my mind . . . but it’s one day. It’s just the beginning.

If you go on Pinterest and search, you can find all kinds of “New Mom” tips and tricks, but I only really remember three things that moms actually told me in person.

Why don’t we skip the terror talk and start offering lifeline advice? It’s like these things only come up when I start the topic or someone hears that we’re struggling. Then they tell us how it was when they were experiencing the same things.

I’d like those conversations to be more open. Why don’t we tell new moms to be prepared for breastfeeding to be difficult? Let them know it may not all click, and that it’s okay. Recommend products that have worked. “You may not need it, but one thing I used was . . .” Just so it’s in the back of your mind when it comes up.

Talk about what it’s like sitting up with your baby crying and you don’t know how to fix what’s wrong. Tell new moms that it’s okay to let the house be a mess because you can only focus on you and the baby.

So here are some things I’ve learned that I hope helps a new mama out:

It’s ridiculously difficult to get your kid in and out of a onesie. (Tip: the flaps at the shoulders allow it to be pulled down and off in case of a messy bottom.)

Your child may have health issues; it’s heartbreaking, but it’s not your fault.

A wet baby is slipperier than an eel, and trying to bathe a baby by yourself is a monumental task. (To rinse her off I’ve had good luck placing her on top of my entire forearm and bracing her against the side of the tub while I use a cup to rinse off the soap.)

There are about a gazillion and fifty different breast pump options, and all of them have different size flanges, and one of those may be a good fit. Good luck.

Remember how cleaning up cat puke used to make you gag? Those were the good old days. The first time your kid projectile vomits, and it goes all down your top, three feet across the floor, and yet somehow soothing your fussing child is way more important than that ick factor.

Everyone has an opinion about your choices. Stick to your original plan. If it doesn’t work, try someone else’s advice.

Baby outfits that look like tiny adult clothes are cute, but if your kid lives in footy pajamas (bonus if they have the built-in mittens) for the first few months . . . that’s a solid life choice.

Getting PJs that have two zippers, so you can unzip from the neck or the foot is a valid reason for legitimate excitement. Along with that, buy nothing that has legitimate buttons, especially as leg closures.

Buy baby Tylenol, gas medicine, gripe water, diaper cream, and formula before the baby gets here. Better to have it and not need it, then to have to go out in the middle of the night.

Having a mom friend who you can text about things is wonderful. Also, texting your mother about mom things is incredibly special.

Yes, it’s okay to take 1,000 cell phone pictures of your child. Yes, it’s also okay to text them to friends and family.

Sitting in the back seat of your car, holding your baby, and crying because you took them to the doctor, and they had to get shots, a heel prick, or blood drawn is okay. You need to soothe them just as much as they need to be soothed before either of you can leave that parking lot.

Some days it’s okay to just sit and hold your baby and rock them telling them how much you love them. Everything else can wait.

What do you wish someone had told you before your first baby or that you wish we talked about more frequently? Let me know!

Here Comes Santa Claus!

Hey There!

I’ve really been enjoying Little Bit’s first Christmas, even though I know she won’t remember it. We’ve baked cookies, watched Christmas movies, taken adorable Christmas photos, but one thing was missing – her first time seeing Santa!

The Fellow was really hesitant about taking her because of all of the sickness going around. We’ve had enough health-related issues with her so far that we didn’t want to risk exposure to a bunch of germs just yet. (Think about HOW MANY kids have sat on that mall Santa’s lap!)

So I had just about resigned myself to no Santa pictures, OR buying a Santa outfit from Amazon and making The Fellow dye his beard. (Still considering this option anyway just because of his ridiculously Santa-ish beard.)

Then this weekend, we made a trip to Pennsylvania. Each year at Christmas my family places wreaths on the family graves. While traveling to one of these sites, my father decided that he would also like to visit the cemetery where some of our way-back ancestors are buried, so off we went into Pennsylvania trying to find it.

As we were driving through one tiny village, my mother spotted a sign in front of a little feed and grain store: “See Santa here today 11:30-1:00.”

What luck! We decided to at least stop and check out what kind of Santa would be there. (The beard makes or breaks it!) It was a GREAT Santa, and we got a wonderful Mrs. Claus too!

The store employees were so sweet. They let us take Little Bit’s carrier into the back office, so I could get her out. There was no line, and Santa was so sweet and patient.

It was such an amazing visit, and I’m so pleased with the pictures!

I don’t have anything to ask Santa for though. We already have the sweetest Christmas gift of all, and she’s all nice!

What are your favorite seeing Santa stories? Let me know in the comments below!

Tastes of Christmas

Hey There!

One of the things we always did as a kid was bake cookies for Christmas. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table unwrapping what seemed like countless Hershey’s Kisses for Peanut Butter Blossoms and making endless rounds of cookies.

In reality, we probably only made a batch or two of each type, but it felt like we made a ton.

Now I know that I can make cookies any time of the year, but I always make a batch or two of our favorites this time of the year, and it doesn’t seem like the holidays without them.

Baking with a baby is tricky, but I managed to get three types of cookies made just in time for a small Christmas gathering.

I made M&M cookies (which, of course, HAVE to be made with red and green Christmas M&Ms), Peanut Butter Blossoms, and chocolate chip cookies.

If anyone out there has a stellar chocolate chip cookie recipe, please let me know. They are one of those things that no matter how many times I make them, I’m never really pleased with the outcome. They always tend to spread and come out flat.

The Fellow really enjoys Oatmeal Scotchies, and I may try to work a batch in before Christmas.

If I had more time and was having a larger gathering, I’d make some white chocolate gingerbread cookies. They’re one of my favorites. They’re easy to work up. I get to use some of the dozens of cookie cutters I – for some reason – own, and once dipped in white chocolate look so appealing. They also really taste like Christmas with all of the warm spices.

What are your family’s favorite Christmas dessert recipes? What tastes like Christmas to you? Let me know in the comments below!