6 Questions to Consider When Going Apple Picking

Last year, during RJ’s Fall Break, we made our first trip to an apple orchard.  That trip started a tradition and last week we kicked off his Fall Break with some apple picking fun! I’m still figuring out the dos and don’ts of this orchard life, but here are 6 questions you should consider if there is an apple picking adventure in your future.

Did I Check the Weather Forecast?

If you’re like me, you think apple picking and the thought of cool, crisp mountain air pops into your head. Well, that hasn’t been the case the two times we’ve gone to the orchards. Each year I’ve whipped out my boots and button down shirts, only to get there and realize shorts and a t-shirt would have sufficed. My suggestion to you, check the weather and dress in layers.

Do I Have Cash With Me?

Sometimes the orchard don’t take cards for whatever reason. You can’t go wrong with cash. About $30 has been enough to cover apples and treats for our family.

Are the Apples I Want Available?

Visiting the orchard when the apples you like/want are actually available is kinda important. I never go with a certain apple variety in mind, but if you want granny smiths for a pie, it would suck to go when their season is over. Don’t let the grocery store fool you into thinking all apple varieties are available year round. You can check the websites of most orchards for availability calendars.

Do I know How to the Pick the Ripest Apples?

Equally as important as knowing when the apples you want are in season, is knowing how to pick the perfect apple! This is definitely something I need to do more research on. You don’t want to pick a 1/2 bushel of apples only to find they are gross because they weren’t ripe. Now, the orchards do tell you which varieties should be ready, but that doesn’t mean every apple on the tree is ripe. Knowing the characteristics (color, firmness and ease of picking it from the tree) of a ripe apple based on the varieties available can help a lot.  Honestly, I’m a little suspect of some of the ones we picked, but RJ is eating them so…

 

Is U-pick Still Available?

If picking your own apples is a part of your plan and the main reason you’re making a trip to the orchard, make sure it’s still an option. We took a trip to, Sky Top Orchard, the same orchard we visited last year around the same time or year, only to get there and find their U-pick season was over! They had bags and bags of already picked apples, but we couldn’t pick them ourselves. We were flexible and able to go to Justus Orchard about 30 minutes away. If time is not on your side, don’t be like us, check the orchard’s website or social media first.

Should I Leave the Orchard Without Apple Cider Doughnuts?

NO! Don’t get so caught up in apple picking that you forget the star of the orchard. If read that and said the apples are the star, that means you haven’t gotten your entire life and had apple cider doughnuts.  These doughnuts reign supreme at apple orchards with apple cider slushies coming in at a close second!  If you go to an orchard on a busy weekend, be prepared to stand in long lines for the doughnuts. However, it will be worth every bee dodging minute (bees run rampant at orchards, watch out). Make sure you get enough doughnuts to eat right then and there hot out the grease and to take home! Thank me later.

 

Are you planning an apple picking trip this season? 

Fall for Greenville One Bite at a Time

A shortage of restaurants does not exist in the Upstate. New ones are constantly popping up and I can’t keep up.  Like most cities we have Restaurant Week as a way to try out new spots, but my favorite way to experience our food scene is through the 3-day food festival, Fall for Greenville. Our family has been attending the festival for years and we’re never disappointed. There is a wide variety or restaurant choices from Greenville classics like Larkin’s on the River and Soby’s, newcomers like The Anchorage and everything in between.

It’s so much fun, we even have a family member who has been joining us every year for the past couple years. Fall for Greenville has something for everyone.  In addition to the food, there is a kids’ area that RJ loves, a line up of live bands throughout the weekend and wine and beer are available.

 

Each menu item from the restaurants are worth a set number of tickets, anywhere from 2-8. The tickets can be purchased at various locations along the street and are $5 for a sheet of 8. Our family of 3 ran through 64 tickets, some of which were used for RJ to ride the rides in the kids’ area.

 


 

Do you and your family attend a food festival in your city? 

Washington DC: So Many Sights, So Little Time

I was going through my drafts folder and found this post from several years ago about our first trip to DC.  We were still pushing RJ in a stroller, I had short hair and Obama was in the White House. Indulge my walk down memory lane.

 

We took a road trip to visit my in-laws in Pennsylvania and stopped in DC for a couple days on the way back home.  It was just a 3 hour drive from PA that took us deep through Amish country. *After this trip, I’m really intrigued by the Amish.*  Anyway, we arrived at our hotel, The Beacon & Corporate Quarters, dropped off our bags and hit the pavement. When planning the trip, we’d debated about whether to stay in DC or an outlying suburb.  Staying in the city had its benefits. Hotels outside of the city weren’t going to be that much cheaper, our hotel was in a great location and we could walk to a metro station and most sightseeing attractions.

We would have benefited from one more day in the city, but it was a great vacation.

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Prepping for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

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We visited the National Zoo but had to rush because we needed to make it across town to the Nationals game. This lovely ape was catching her urine and drinking it. Yes, this is the image I decided to capture. It was awful, but I couldn’t look away.

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Our little baseball lover’s 1st Major League game!

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We were, recently, back in the DMV to spent time with friends, take in an Orioles game and visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I’ll cover that trip soon.

 

There’s so much to see and do in DC and so much of it is free. What’s your favorite DC attraction? 

Travel Baseball Is A Whole New Ballgame

Our introduction to organized sports began here when RJ joined his first baseball team. We’ve been full steam ahead every since.  We typically play baseball in the spring, and he chooses to play soccer in the fall. This year he decided on baseball again this fall. My motto of one team, one sport each season fell through and now he’s also playing on a travel ball team for the first time.  Two baseball teams which have our weeknights and several weekends on lock down.

The first of about 3 or 4 travel ball tournaments was last weekend. This team will only travel to tourneys 30 mins or so away.  The kids on his team are 5 & 6 year olds. However, all the other teams we play have kids who are 7, 8 an almost 9. The coach let us know up front we probably would not win any of the games. A year or two age difference make a huge difference on the field.  The objective this year is to get the kids use to playing together and expose them to a higher level of play.  That’s great in theory for adults, but not easy to relay to kids.

 

The coach knew what he was talking about. We played four games last weekend, 2 Saturday and 2 Sunday and loss them all. BIG TIME! The balance of exposing the kids to the higher level of play and not totally crushing their spirits is a delicate one. There were tears, frustration and anger from my kid.

Side note: I’ve never been more exhausted from literally doing nothing than I was last weekend. Once we got home and I sat down, I could not will my body to move without taking a nap first.

There is an episode of blackish where Miles is great at basketball until he joins a team at the next level. He then discovers he was great at the level where he was, but needs LOTS of work in the new league. Well, that’s RJ. He’s great in his rec league. His team last spring went undefeated and won the championship. His fall team has one more game, but right now they are undefeated and clinched the championship last night. With all of this winning, my child is not a graceful loser.

I’m a dugout mom on his rec team. The mom’s just watch from the stands and the dads handle the kids on the travel team. It’s tough for me to watch his frustrations from afar. Plus, I get too nervous to just sit and watch. So, I would go over to the dugout every now and then to offer encouragement and Skittles. He appreciated the candy more than my pep talk.

Despite the results of the games, I have a feeling that travel ball is here to stay for us. I’m preparing myself now by stocking up on Skittles, a few encouraging words and coffee so can survive it all.

 

Does your kid play a sport? Has he or she ever played on a travel team?

Finding My Local Blogger Community

 

The photos in this post were taken by Greenville photographer, stylist and blogger Wendi Matt of eandastyle.com.

 

This time around, I resolved to use blogging as an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and cultivate face-to-face relationships whenever possible.  Last month GVLToday featured several local bloggers from a local bloggers union. While I knew there were other bloggers in the Upstate I didn’t know there was a union that met regularly. I joined the Facebook group and attended a meeting.

At that meeting, one of the first things we did was go around the room and introduce ourselves and say what we envisioned for our blogs in 5 years. WHATTTT?! I was NOT ready! As I listened to the women in the room, I felt really intimidated.  I never thought of my blog in that way. I used 5 year plans for financial or career goals. My blog has always been a hobby I could just put on the back burner or pick up when I wanted.  This time around, however, I do have more concrete ideas that I want to explore, but I was hesitant to share right off the bat in a room full of strangers.  When it was my turn, I gave a kind of canned answer that in no way conveyed what I really wanted.

Once we got past the 5 year question, I was able to exhale and engage in the conversation we were having. The more we talked, the more my true extrovert was able to come out and the more at ease I felt.  I loved that we were all at different stages in this blog thing. Many of the women used the blog as an extension of businesses. Some were like me and trying to see just doing something we enjoyed and trying to see where it leads. I’ve been in this space for 9 years and I have amassed an awesome group of blogger friends across the country. I’m looking forward to having a group that close to home for accountability and encouragement. I’ve gained so much insight in the two meetings I’ve attended about the business of blogging, what I purpose I want this blog to serve and what I want to get out of it in return.

 

If you are a blogger, have you ever been to meet up of other bloggers in your area? If so, is something you do consistently and do you find it beneficial?