adventures with kids · foodie · travel with kids · Uncategorized

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train: North Pole Express

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a train? Not a model train like they have at the zoo or at birthday parties, but a REAL TRAIN? Have you wondered what it would be like to experience the Polar Express in real life?

A friend posted about a Polar Express experience a couple of years ago, and since then it has been on my bucket list for my family to have that experience. I researched prices, different train locations and routes, Polar Express experiences offered within a 200 mile radius, and did a ton of reading. I narrowed my options down to two: French Lick and My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. I settled on My Old Kentucky Dinner Train for several reasons:

  • We are a foodie family! We love food. We appreciate fine dining and love any experiences that offer a chance to try new or high quality food. By the way, the food on this train was superb.
  • The thought of eating a delicious meal AND riding a real train AND having a Polar Express experience with Santa, Mrs. Claus, caroling, hot chocolate, and a chocolate Choo-choo train was irresistible. French Lick offered hot chocolate but not a meal. French Lick does offer a dining experience but it was either or. I liked that Kentucky Dinner train allowed us to do Polar Express AND dining combined.
  • Cost. We could drive to the Kentucky train, enjoy or ride and drive back same day. We live near Nashville so this was a better location option for us. French Lick would require us to stay the night which would be an added expense and time investment.
  • French Lick was sold out. I did my I guess you have to be on the ball to book with them! I was somewhat disappointed because French Lick looked more like a true Polar Express experience. I was also somewhat relieved because in my heart of hearts I wanted the dining and Polar Express! Wish granted!

If you are would like your family to have an unforgettable train ride of a lifetime, keep reading and I am more than happy to share our experience with you, as well as tips for planning your own experience.

When you book, you can choose North Pole Express (that is what we chose and what they call their Polar Express experience), regular dinner train, murder mystery, or bourbon excursion. I recommend booking a month or two in advance. I was thankful we thought ahead!

When choosing your date, you might be tempted to choose a date closest to Christmas, but we opted for November. This was a great choice for us because there was still a little fall foliage and the fields we passed along our ride were golden and quite pretty. It also was not as cold as December which is a personal draw for this cold-natured human. What I loved best about going in November is that it got us in the Christmas spirit. I am ready to decorate anything that stands still and Hallmark movies are life!

When considering the departure time for your trip, the North Pole Express departs at 11:00, while the regular dinner train leaves at 4:30. The 11:00 was good for us because we were able to have our train experience and get back home before dark. We did have to get up pretty early and leave our home in Tennessee around 7:00 am, taking into account the time change. We lost an hour traveling there since they are in Eastern time zone and we are in Central.

They ask that you arrive at least a half hour early. This was perfect for us because we were able to get our tickets, use the restroom (there are restrooms on each train car, by the way) browse in their gift shop, visit with Santa and lounge in their charming wait area that was nicely decorated for Christmas.

There is a dress code posted online which was funny to us. We laughed out loud at “sweater set.” While we did follow the dress code, we traveled with quite a few passengers who did not and no one seemed to be giving them a hard time.

We were delightfully surprised when we boarded the train to see a conductor taking our tickets and that the wait staff were dressed as elves. The train cars were decorated for the holidays and the tables were already set with our salad plates and the charcuterie platter and pretzel sticks and beer cheese that we added on.

Before the train even departed, we had time to eat our salads, appetizers and enjoy a couple cups of coffee. Our charcuterie platter was perfect: olives, pepper jack and gouda cheeses, several gourmet crackers, pepperoni, pralines with honey, grapes, and strawberries. They served lemonade or tea, your choice and you get refills the entire trip. You could also order adult beverages if you wanted.

When you purchase your tickets, you are required to submit your food order. The menu is pretty limited, but the food was so surprisingly good. My mother-in-law, older daughter and I ordered the pot roast with mashed potatoes. It was so yummy and the portions were VERY generous  – they let you have to-go boxes. My husband ordered the hot brown, and we got chicken tenders for the younger daughter. Kids get a big cookie for dessert and all of the adults ordered the chocolate raspberry mousse which was divine. We added on chocolate choo-choos for the girls. They were a sight to behold, filled with chocolate mousse and whipped cream.

Santa and Mrs. Claus led the children singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” They walked through cars off and on for the duration of the ride and made appearances, greeting each of the children with plenty of photo ops.

You will pass some pretty farmland, neighborhoods and Jim Beam distillery. Half the ride you will face forward, then the engine is pulled around and attached to the other end of the train. The other half of the ride you face backward. For half of our ride, our car was the caboose so it was fun to walk to the end of our car, stand in the open air and see the train tracks disappearing behind us.

I would say we were on the train a couple of hours. It was the perfect amount of time, with plenty of time to savor your food, but not too long either, by the time our natives (children) became restless, it was over.

When we arrived back at the train station, the children got their tickets punched and they both received a “Believe” bell keepsake ornament. Santa and Mrs. Claus were also available for photos.

We loved our North Pole Express and dinner train experience! It was a unique opportunity that we all hope to have again. Visit My Old Kentucky Dinner Train’s website for more info.

 

essential oils · natural lifestyle · Uncategorized

Winter Must-Haves: Young Living Oils and Products

It’s still technically fall, but today in Tennessee we have snow on the ground and temps in the 20s.

We need to be proactive during this cold and flu season to keep our families healthy!

Are you stocked up and ready for this?

Here are my must-have Young Living oils and products as we head into winter:

  • Thieves. And by Thieves I mean all the Thieves products: essential oil, roll-on, Thieves Cleaner, Fruit and Veggie Spray, Foaming Hand Soap. All of it. Thieves essential oil supports the immune system like nothing else I know. Thieves products purify and product your home. Ditch all the gross chemical filled products and go natural with Thieves. Best decision ever.
  • RC and Raven. Both offer the best respiratory support. If you’re on the fence and trying to decide between the two, I would opt for Raven. It supports the respiratory system but also your immune system. It is also in the current starter kit.
  • Thieves Lozenges. I already plugged Thieves products, I know, but I have to give a separate shoutout to these in particular. I talk for a living and keep these in my desk drawer at work, some in my purse and some at home. They are the best cough drop/lozenge I’ve ever had. They don’t just soothe, the support the body. What other drop does that?
  • Lavender Lotion. This lotion is the best ever. Most lotions you have to apply and reapply- like hourly. This lotion is truly soothing. Again I keep at work, home, and in the purse.
  • Lavender Lip Balm and Rose Ointment. I suffered from chronic chapped lips every winter until I discovered this duo. I apply daily, preventatively and can’t remember the last time my lips were chapped in winter since.
  • Digize and Life 9. Did you know that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? We apply Digize when anyone is having tummy issues and Life 9 is an awesome probiotic to maintain healthy bacteria in the gut. Gut health is key!

There are so many products I love to have on hand in winter. This is really just scratching the surface but does represent my faves.

Do you have favorite Young Living oils and products for winter that aren’t on this list? I’d love to know what they are. Please share in the comments.

And if you are ready to dive in with Young Living and this wellness lifestyle you can get your starter kit here.

kids · parenting

4 Rituals to Manifest a Snow Day

Whether or not you believe in legends, superstitions or rituals, they are just downright fun, especially when trying to conjure up a snow day.

Here are 4 rituals for you to try:

1. Wear your pajamas inside out.

2. Put a spoon under your pillow.

3. Flush ice cubes down the toilet.

4. Put a white crayon in the freezer!

Bonus: We have also read to brush your teeth with the opposite hand!

Sleep tight and hopefully you will wake up to your snow day!

Do you know any other snow day rituals? Have any of them worked for you? We would love to know. Please share in the comments!

And once you’ve had your fun in the snow, check out my post on fun indoor play ideas.

Uncategorized

Love Them Anyway: Helping your Preteen Show Compassion to Friends Who Have Hurt Them

Earlier this week, my ten-year-old and I were able to have some quality time, just she and I. She had appointments, and in between we had several heart to hearts that reminded me how much she really does worry about and think about and really wants to talk about.

She is a pretty independent and quiet child, and it can be easy to want to buy it when she says “everything is ok.”

As parents, we owe it to our kids to dig a little deeper. Ask a few more questions:

  • Who do they hang out with at recess?
  • Who are their five favorite friends?
  • Ask about friends you know they’ve spent time with in the past.
  • Ask what they talk about with their friends, and who their friends are friends with.

As I posed these questions to her, she was more than happy to answer them and it led us to a discussion about mean girls.

She was not concerned about her close friends being mean, but concerned about who her close friends are surrounding themselves with. We have a rating school for mean girls based on a movie we watch, An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. I asked, “On the Chrissa movie scale, how mean are these girls? Like Sonali (acting mean to fit in) or like Tara (full on mean)?” She answered, “Not Tara. More like Sonali.” We agreed that was good. Sonali had likable qualities, and you could always tell she didn’t want to be mean.

Then she shared that a good friend had said something hurtful. It wasn’t intentionally hurtful, but just one of those comparison moments “mine is better than yours” type of comments. It still stung and I reminded her that she had made comments like that before, but wanted to be forgiven and didn’t really mean it. She knew it was the wrong thing to say as soon as it came out of her mouth, and more than likely so did this friend.

That led us to the discussion of loving them anyway. We talked about how Chrissa kept being an example of kindness in front of the other girls, and eventually won them over. We talked about how easy it can be to write someone off due to one rude comment or choice. But we want others to give us second chances. We make poor choices and want to be forgiven. We’ve all said things we wish we could take back. She assured me that she did and was all smiles. The incident was now old news and water under the bridge.

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introvert · wisdom

Stop sharing your story with people who haven’t earned the right to hear it.

Introverts, this one is for you. If you are like me and surrounded by a world of pushy extroverts who don’t understand your need for quiet and privacy, read on.

Have you ever over-shared? I catch myself doing it more often than I would like.

I commonly have people ask me about things going on in my life because I do lead a pretty interesting and different life, but I am private and shy. But I end up spilling the beans on the regular, and then as the person asks me more and more questions, I can become agitated, feeling more and more uncomfortable sharing things I never intended to.

I can begin to feel cornered or trapped, like I can’t get away or like the conversation will never end.

Or, worse, my opinion often differs greatly from the majority, so when I do share, I feel uncomfortable as the interrogator lets me know quickly they don’t agree with me.

Even worse, when someone you know to be a gossip or who doesn’t have your best interest at heart, comes along and grills you. Um no. My heart starts racing and I get the feeling that I need to beat it out of there.

Recently, someone asked me about something going on in my life, and I didn’t want to share. But I felt obligated to, because I couldn’t think of how to say that I didn’t want to without coming across as rude.

If this has ever been your experience, since then I’ve come up with ten polite replies for those moments when you are asked to share but don’t want to.

1. “I wish I could chat, but I have to be (insert where you need to be) right now. Maybe we can talk later.”

2. “I’d rather not say if that’s ok.”

3. “You’re so sweet to ask, but that’s not something I can share right now.”

4. “That is still under way. I appreciate you asking.”

5. Repeat back their question to them: “I understand you want to know (insert question here). I get why you might be curious. I would be too.”  I like this response because it forces them to hear their own words and sometimes they will even retract, realizing that it is prying.

6. Just say, “isn’t that interesting?”

7. Do you have one of those “friends” who seems to enjoy your difficulties because it makes them feel better about themselves? Once you catch onto this,  just tell them “all is well now” about whatever drama they hope for you to elaborate on.

8. Do you have one of those “friends” who will take what you share and spread it to anyone who will listen in a heartbeat? Just distance yourself when you see them coming your way. Your mom was right when she gave you the advice, just walk away.

9. Do you have one of those “friends” who will use what you share to tear you down in order to build themselves up? You need Distance. You have no obligation to share anything with anyone. When someone has proven disloyalty time and again, this is toxic to you and ties need to be severed. You have to set boundaries to protect yourself.

10. Tell them you can’t. If you want to keep your peace, and do what feels best, you’re telling them the truth when you say you can’t share. You can’t afford to share something that feels off to you. Never let someone push you into something you don’t feel comfortable doing, including conversation.

 

 

clarksville · foodie · Uncategorized

Yada on Franklin

I have lived in Clarksville, Tennessee my entire life, and it has been so fun to see our town grow into what it has become today. A friend this morning put it best: Clarksville has a stellar food scene, especially nestled along the Franklin Street area including some great craft breweries. Now add Yada on Franklin to the mix.

Yada on Franklin a beautiful space. It every detail is beautiful and feels special. The glass case is so inviting when you enter. The light fixtures, the floor, the bar, all so pretty!

Pro tip: Get there when they open at 7:00 and park on the street for free until 9:00! The city only starts charging starting at 8:00, and only after your first hour.

What to get: The Breakfast Sandwich. Get it with everything on it. The fried egg, spinach, mayo, tomato and sriracha. You can choose what kind of bread: biscuit, English muffin, or for a dollar extra get it on a croissant. Trust me, get the croissant! I wish I had splurged and added bacon for the extra $1.50. Use fork and knife to eat it! What I didn’t realize when I took my first bite, was that it is an over-easy egg. Messy, but delightful. I savored every bite, running pieces of croissant through the yolk.

A pic of the Breakfast Sandwich – after my first bite.

Writer? Getting some work done on your computer? If you’re looking for a place to sip on coffee with wifi and Seinfeld playing in the background, look no further. I got to be friendly with the owner at her previous location on Strawberry Alley and when I asked her about hanging around to do some writing, she not only encouraged it, she shared that they have charging stations spaced out every 4 bar stools at their gorgeous bar and invited me to sit at the bar.

This was such a great first experience and I can’t wait to go back. While I was there I ran into one of my former yoga instructors and he made a point to tell me to come back at night, that the bar is illuminated and the entire space is really a sight to behold at dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foodie · kids · natural lifestyle · parenting

Big Kid Favorites at Aldi

I have two girls, ages 6 and 10. One is a picky eater and the other is a foodie. When I announce we are going to Aldi, they both chant “yay!” because they know good food is on the way.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Fruit. Berries, Honeycrisp apples, grapes, mandarins, whole pineapples and kiwis are some of our faves. Many of them organic. Great prices.

2. Cheese. My picky eater loves the spiral string cheese (cheddar and mozzarella). We also grab her a ball of mozzarella. My foodie girl loves Havarti, Gouda, Muenster and especially blue cheese crumbles.

3. Meats. My picky eater loves the bite-sized salamis and smoked turkey. She also loves their Dino nuggets which has one of the best ingredient lists I’ve seen. My big girl loves the smoked salmon, capocollo, sopressata, and prosciutto. We grab mussels for her from time to time too.

4. Pasta. We love their pasta shells. There is just something about them that is better than what you can get a Walmart. Maybe it’s the pretty bag and great price? They also like any of the raviolis in the refrigerated section. Five cheese is our current fave. Mushroom is good too!

5. Drinks. Both girls love the Pineapple Orange juice and Mango Orange juice. They also like the Kiwi Strawberry drink pouches. The mini water bottles are perfect to grab and go for sports.

6. Snacks and treats. Dark chocolate peanut butter granola bars are delicious and all natural! We love the cookies and cream ice cream. We alternate between the “go go squeeze” type of applesauces and the cups. Both are good. We are also loving the sea salt caramel chocolate chunk cookie dough.

law of attraction · wisdom

Stop Talking about Your Problems

Contrary to what you’ve heard your whole life (and what I’ve heard my whole life) “venting” and talking about your problems isn’t your best option. Let me share a few reasons why:

  1. Each time you talk about your issue you relive it all over again. Have you ever told someone about something bad that happened to you and found yourself getting upset and maybe even angry all over again, as you were telling the story? It was bad enough that you had to go through it. How many times do you want to retell that story and repeat that vibrational history? Have you ever had someone tell you about their troubles, then hours later they were still telling that same story to other people? It’s really a waste of their mental and emotional energy.
  2. You keep the problem active. You’ve probably heard that “you get what you think about.” Or “what you think about you bring about.” Or “as a man thinketh so is he.” You get the idea. Keep your thoughts positive!
  3. The worse it gets the worse it gets. I know I will meet some resistance and so many swear by therapy. I do believe it has its place! I’ve been to a therapist myself and also participated in group therapy. I can for sure tell you it gave me clarity in certain areas. But it also didn’t lead to a healthier happier me. That came years later. It was when I stopped beating the proverbial drum of “what is” and feeling the need to dredge up the past that things got better for me. Now I’m forward thinking. I’m focused on how I want my life to be. I don’t feel the need to declare “what is” or bring up old school. That’s in the past. I’m quieter, but more content. I’m less popular, but I’m ok with that.

I follow the teachings of Abraham Hicks and I think this transcript from one of her conversations really paints a clear picture of what I’m trying to say:

“Things tipped when I stopped doing talk therapy. I stopped talking about my problems over and over and over. I don’t talk about my problems anymore and they just seem to not be there. And it’s weird ’cause it’s a woman thing – whoever has the biggest problem, you’re the winner. So I’m not very popular anymore. I have some really good problems, but I just don’t talk about them. Then the problem is that I’m not getting any attention, but I’m still having the problems and that’s the part that’s hard. I’m not getting the accolades of making it through.”

“Problems can be entertaining and more people relate to them.”

“People get you more when you’re complaining than when you’re not. There’s never a crowd on the leading edge.”

“Notice that movies and the news aren’t oriented to what’s uplifting. They want to keep your fears active and keep you coming back.”

“Show me a popular person and I’ll show you a complainer.” – Abraham Hicks

To sum it up, if you keep talking about your problems, you may get the positive outcome of popularity because people find you relatable. It’s easier to find mutuality with someone when they share their problems. People may like to hear about your troubles because it makes them feel better about their own lives. HOWEVER, each time you share those problems, each time you complain, be aware that you are no doubt going to bring more things to complain about – more problems – into your reality. That’s law of attraction.

Will you be friendless now? Absolutely not. Rest assured, you will attract others. Contentment and well being is also compelling and everyone is hungry for it. You will even likely attract the same people. The difference is that you will attract the best from them. ❤️