Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day Trip to the Biltmore

During our weekend in Gatlinburg/Smoky Mountains, Adam and I made sort of a last minute decision to drive to Asheville, NC one day and tour the Biltmore Estate.

We were not disappointed! We headed out early, and we were there about an hour and a half later.

I was pretty excited because it was the very last day of Christmas at Biltmore. I had heard the house is gorgeous decorated for Christmas, so I knew I'd love it!


The decorations started from right outside the front door!


I wish I could describe how amazing the inside of the house is to see, and how much more incredible it was to see the Christmas decorations! They won't let you take pictures inside, but if you have no idea what I'm talking about then take a few minutes to Google it.

I had been once before when I was about 7 or 8, but I only remembered a few small pieces. Adam had never been. It was pretty cool wandering through the house and seeing what it was like back in the late 1800s/early 1900s when people lived there!

I splurged and bought the Christmas at Biltmore book that had photos of the rooms with the decorations. It helped that it was on sale half off!

It also helped that it was the off-season while we were there. I read reviews that it can get very crowded during the spring/summer/holidays, but there was hardly anyone there that day. It definitely made it a relaxed and pleasant experience to not feel like we were in crowded rooms.


After touring the house, we went over to Antler Hill Village. It's also on the property, but it's a lot of new stuff like a big Inn up on the hill and the Biltmore Winery.


We spent a decent bit of time at the winery. They offer free tastings, and you're able to taste as many of their wines as you desire! We definitely found a few that we enjoyed enough to buy a bottle and bring home!


We truly spent 7-8 hours hanging out at the various places on the estate before grabbing some dinner and hitting the road back to Asheville. It made for a really lovely day, and it was a fun thing for us to do together!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Winter Weekend in the Mountains

It's only about a 3 hour drive to the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Adam and I both love heading that direction from time to time, so we decided to take a weekend earlier in January for a little winter getaway.

We drove in on Friday evening, and I loved seeing the Christmas lights in Gatlinburg. They leave them up throughout January for Winterfest, and it's really charming.


After checking into our hotel, we wandered around for a bit. I am a total nerd and posed in the sled.


It's ok though because Adam is a total nerd and posed with the Avengers. 


If you don't know anything about Gatlinburg, it's a totally touristy town at the foot of the national park. There are a lot of cheesy attractions among cute shops, and the whole place is sort of like going back in time.

On Saturday, we did some shopping and wine tasting in Pigeon Forge before going up into the park to do some hiking. It was pretty cold, but we bundled up and made our way to Laurel Falls.  Parts of it were frozen solid!


We also decided to be cheesy and do the Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium. Here we saw things like a statue of the world's tallest man.


Or a large chair...


Or a screen where you could take photos of your shadows...



We also did the Mirror Maze. It was sort of small and sad, but we made it fun!


We also ate a lot of southern fare during our weekend...


And we checked out the local bar scene when we found the ONLY place in town that had the national championship game on with sound. (Who knew that was going to be so hard?)


It was sort of rainy the last night, and there was pretty much no one out and about... so I took this photo in the middle of the road.


It was a different experience going this time of year. I've usually gone during more of their peak season when the place is crowded!  Regardless, it was fun for Adam and I to get away together and relax a bit. Sometimes it's just nice to get away from the house and not have to worry about chores and such!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Celebrity Sightings in Nashville

Adam and I love going to Predators games here in Nashville, so we opted to get a pack of tickets to a few games throughout the season. Boy are we glad we did as they are having an excellent season!

Our first game in the new year was against the Dallas Stars on January 8th.


I'm a fan of the show Nashville, so I was excited when Charles Esten came out to play with the band after the first period.


In between the second and third period, he played again... but this time, Vince Gill joined him! It was sort of funny because Vince had a guitar strap that said Deacon (the character Esten plays on the show).


Shortly after, the video guys found a few more Nashville cast members sitting in the stands taking in the game - Oliver Hudson and Will Chase. I love that they were all out supporting the Preds!


I have no doubt Carrie Underwood was there as well judging from her Twitter account (she's married to Preds player Mike Fisher), but I get the sense she hangs out somewhere behind the scenes.

You just never know who you're going to see when you go anywhere or do anything around Nashville. Sort of like when Garth Brooks came on stage during the Justin Timberlake concert last month!

The Preds beat the Stars in overtime, and we went home happy about our fun evening out on the town in our favorite city.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Odds and Ends from Christmas Break

Adam and I were both off work from Christmas Eve through January 5th for the holidays. Connor was with us for a full week during his break from school, and it also gave us a few days to get a few projects done around the house (including taking down all the Christmas decorations and some cleaning).

While a lot of our week with Connor was spent celebrating Christmas and New Year's, we also got to do some shopping one day, spend some more time with family and friends, and just hang around the house playing with all the new Christmas gifts.

We let little man try out the new scooter in the house, but then it went to the garage to wait for warmer weather. All the neighborhood kids have one, so he'll love playing out there with it!


This kid loves his new Spy Gear so much that when we got him out of bed one morning we discovered he slept in the watch!


Connor spent a Toys R Us gift card on this table top pool table. He loves it! (And don't worry, the wine belongs to one of the adults!)


He also really enjoyed this Sega game that has 80 games on it! What an awesome gift from Santa!


Before you think it's all fun and games, little man did end up with a chore or two. We have plans to eventually pull out the carpet in the vanity area of his bathroom (that is shared with another bedroom that will hopefully belong to another child someday). I'm not sure why anyone thought it was a good idea to have carpet in there! Nonetheless, I'm not sure what the heck this kid does to get toothpaste all over the place so he's learning how to clean it up!


Before we took Connor back to his other home, we had breakfast together at one of his and Adam's favorite spots - Cracker Barrel. It's not really one of my favorites, but I love these boys lots so we went! It was a nice little treat before ending his break!


We had so much fun during our week with Connor and our week and a half off work! It was definitely refreshing to spend time focusing on family and fun times!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Ringing in the New Year

For the first time ever, Connor had New Year's Eve with us! We knew we wanted to make it a really fun night for him, and we started it off right by sleeping in that morning.

We had some friends from across the street over in the afternoon for a play date, and then little man hung out with Gram for a bit.  For the evening, we had invited Grant and Courtney over. We're thankful to have friends who enjoy hanging out with us even when we have the kiddo home!

Grant joined us for dinner, and we decided to go try a pizza place nearby. It was delicious!


When we got back home, we played some Mario Kart 8 for a bit.


Courtney made it over after work, and we took some silly pictures.



We played Monopoly for a while.


We also went outside to watch the fireworks our neighbors were shooting.  They shared a few sparklers with Connor, too!


One of my favorite memories as a kid was playing Uno while my cousins and I waited for midnight. (We always had a big get together on NYE.) Connor enjoyed it just as much, and we played until it was time to start getting ready for the big countdown!


The other tradition I always had was that the kids got to use the fancy glasses for a midnight toast, albeit with ginger ale. We decided that would be fun, so little man had the little champagne glass with ginger ale while the adults had bigger glasses with champagne and a splash of chambord.


We took a few pictures in front of the tv so that we could pretend like we were in Times Square..



We had so much fun counting down to midnight and then doing toasts and midnight kisses! I loved being able to give a kiss to both of my men to ring in the new year!

Happy New Year from the Riddicks!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas with the Blairs

We spent another day of Connor's break having Christmas with Nana, Papa and Meredith! We started by having lunch together at one of our favorite mexican restaurants in town and then headed back to our house to hang out for the afternoon. Connor was pretty excited to show them some of the things Santa brought and some of the things he got from us and from Gram.

Tucker had to get in on the superhero action, too!


We took some family photos!



Connor played Santa by passing out all of the presents, and then we got busying opening them!








Connor had so much fun playing with all of the new Spy Gear he received, and we all enjoyed exchanging some nice items among the adults as well! 

We weren't able to do anything else as my folks had to get home to take care of my Grandma. She'd been a little under the weather since the day after Christmas, even going to the hospital for one night. She is ok, and we were able to visit her while she was there. She wanted Connor to open his gifts when she could watch, so he opened all of them at the hospital!

First, he gave her one that he picked out just for her because he knows she likes chocolate-covered strawberries!


Then, he got down to business opening the ones for him.


He really loved the Avengers shirt she had found for him!


He also loved the new scooter! When the weather is better, he'll be able to get out in the cul-de-sac with the neighbor kids and play!