Family life · memories · Refreshment · Vacation tips

The Grace Gift of a Family Vacation

Who doesn’t LOVE going to Pigeon Forge in the Smokey Mountains?! Last weekend we were blessed to gather there for a family vacation. After all the restrictions, I have truly rejoiced each time a planned event actually gets to happen! This time away was our 2020 Christmas gift to our children and their spouses, so we’ve been planning this for many months. What a precious time it was and how full our hearts are after four days and three nights together! This is hard, but I’m just going to share five highlights of the many fun moments we shared.

We opted to have all but one meal in our condo. We divided up the days and mealtimes and each contributed food for that meal. The first night we made it easy and brought pizza in since we had just checked in an hour before. I added a salad to round out the menu. Here is everyone (except my husband who’s taking the picture) at the table. We were a happy clan!

Whitney and I both have September birthdays, so we celebrated with a delicious Lemon-Raspberry Cake from Blackbird Bakery in Bristol, VA. How special to have the whole family there to celebrate with us! That in itself was a precious gift!

For a little added fun, we had a game competition that lasted the whole weekend. That was Whitney’s idea and it turned out to be a great plan! We played Sorry, Dutch Blitz, Spot it, Miniature Golf, Scrabble and Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. That last game is hilarious and great for a crowd!!!

I loved our game time because it kept us connected even at hours when we were really tired. Instead of scrolling on our phones, we were playing games, laughing ourselves silly, and pushing up our competitive sleeves to gain more points on the scoreboard! Whitney kept an ongoing tally of the winner and second place contestant of each game, and then awarded the first and second place champions on Monday morning. Who do you think won???? Keep reading!

it was really great that the condo has a putt-putt course on site. Beside it is a playground, and just up the way was the pool. It was all literally outside our door! Our little guys enjoyed all of those fun activities and the Lord was gracious to give us beautiful days in which to enjoy it all.

We had several special times in God’s Word and prayer as a family. How sweet to gather together to thank the Lord and also leave our burdens and requests. I’m so thankful for a family who loves Jesus. Equally special was seeing individuals open the Bible in their own little space and spend time with the Lord before our day began. Yes, my heart is full.

I’m not boasting and don’t desire to make you envious of our family time. It was truly a gift from the Lord and we praise Him for it. There are heartaches and burdens, needs and concerns in our family, just like in yours. How precious to be reminded even this week that as the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and told him that He saw his tears, our God hears us and sees our tears, too.

Whatever may be grieving your heart today, refresh your spirit by remembering that the Lord cares and is at work in your life. Cry to Him as Hezekiah did, then watch to see how He will comfort you.

I pray your weekend is refreshing as you fellowship with believers and worship our great God!

Oh, wait…the first place winner of our game competition was Alli, and anyone who knows our family will not be surprised at that! Second place was awarded to her equally competitive mother!

What are some ways you keep everyone connected during family times?

Vacation tips

The Top Ten Things I Always Do On My Beach Vacation

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My husband and I returned earlier this week from a two-week vacation! Oh, how blessed we were to spend both of those weeks at the beach.  This time of year is our favorite time to go because

  • It’s not as crowded
  • It’s not as hot

The first part of our vacation was spent at North Myrtle Beach.  We are blessed to be able to enjoy staying at the Wyndham there.  It’s so clean and it’s right on the beach!

I thought I’d share with you today the things I always do when we vacation at the ocean that makes it the best vacation (in my book)!

Continue reading “The Top Ten Things I Always Do On My Beach Vacation”

Traveling · Vacation tips

May I Suggest?

Hello from New England! I’ve had the blessing of being up here since last Wednesday. So instead of sharing a recipe today, I thought I’d share a couple great restaurants that we’ve enjoyed while in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. Put these on your bucket list if you’re making a trip east in the future!

We flew into Manchester, New Hampshire, so our host took us to dinner there. We went to a seafood restaurant called, The Puritan. It was packed…on a Wednesday night and quickly found out why! The clam and oyster platter we shared was the BEST we’ve ever had anywhere! I’m not normally a fan of clams, but theirs were really good. The clams were tender and the breading had a slightly sweet taste.

We had the joy of going to the coast of Maine on a beautiful, sunny day. Wow, it was worth the two hour drive just to see the coastal views!

We went to Kennebunkport for the afternoon and evening. With sights like these, we were in awe of our Creator!

We stopped for supper at a cute and very busy place that was right on the Main Street. The Lobster Claw has all kinds of different options to get your craving for lobster satisfied. We shared a plate with stuffed lobster. It was filled with shrimp, scallops, bacon and stuffing. It was delicious!

Lastly, we had the fun of going to Vermont to King Arthur Flour. Loving to bake as I do, I so enjoyed seeing their kitchens, watching a couple demonstrations, and then visiting their store that is filled with all the necessary tools for successful baking.

Of course we had to sample their foods at the cafe and bakery! We shared a sandwich and a couple treats. The Chocolate croissant was my favorite!! Yum! It was also as big as my face!

Did you notice the word “share” in each food description? That means we ate half the amount, which is half the calories and half the guilt! It’s the only way to go!

We both pray about our days – where to go and when to stop. We’ve watched God direct us every day. The Lord is so kind to allow us the blessing of serving Him here and also getting to have a little vacation time. We are abundantly blessed!

We always appreciate good recommendations and I thought you might, too! If you get the chance to visit any of these places I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed!

With love from the beautiful east coast,

Denise

Frugal living · Traveling · Vacation tips

Seven Ways To Reduce the Cost of Vacation

 

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Like most families, we’ve pretty much always had to be very frugal and wise with our money.  It’s so ingrained in me now to shop the bargains that I just can’t stand to overspend on anything.  I want quality at a bargain price!  (Thanks, Mom!)

Going on vacation is no different – it has to be done wisely, but we can still have the BEST time when we get away, and we also enjoy some splurges,at a fraction of the cost!  Here’s how we do it:

  1. Go to your destination at times when it isn’t peak season.  One place we stayed this month was going through some renovations, so we got a reduced price.  The renovations were on the outside and never even affected where we were.  I can still swim in the pool while they paint the outside walls of the hotel!
  2. When eating out at the restaurants that everyone has raved about,
    • Go at lunch time.  The portions are plenty and the price is greatly reduced.
    • Share a meal.  90% of the time, we share an entree.  Most restaurants serve way more food than one person can eat.  We like the same things, so we generally always share a plate and go away completely full!
    • Avoid the appetizer.  If they bring bread to the table, let that be the starter for your meal.
    • Drink water.  At $2 or more for a beverage, that can add lots to your bill!
  3. Eat the other two meals in your condo.  We usually stay in a place where we can cook.  I’ll fix simple meals, but delicious food for breakfast and supper meals.
    coffee
  4. Buy snacks and water bottles at the grocery store and keep them in the car with you when you’re out. Having an occasional treat can be planned for by taking advantage of the next tip!
  5. Look for specials that are running at your favorite restaurants.  Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Sonic, and lots of other places have specials from time to time.  Search the Internet and see what deals you can find.  Starbucks had half price Frappes when we were at the beach!  That was a great treat on a hot day!
  6. Avoid the tourist-y shops.  They are way more expensive than most stores.  If I need a hat, sunglasses or sunscreen, I run to TJ Maxx, rather than the Beach Shop!
  7. Do things in the area that are free.
    • Bring your own or rent bikes to enjoy the paths in the area.
    • Museums, parks, libraries, outdoor music, gardens, beaches, pools -the list is long of all the things you can find to do that cost nothing extra!

We felt like we truly splurged, but we spent a fraction of the money we could have had we not used our strategies that have become our favorite way to travel!

Were you surprised that not one of the suggestions was to stay with relatives?!  If you do stay with family, only stay a night or two!  “Fish and company stink after three days!” =)

Happy vacationing!

Denise