Smoky Mountain Views

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The amazing views we saw while traveling to and from our cabin on the mountain were spectacular. God's beautiful creations of all the mountains we were surrounded by left us in awe.

Enjoy some of the views we experienced during out mountain getaway.

Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, these photos will never be able to show the true beauty that you see in person in the smoky mountains.

A Smoky Mountain Getaway

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Y'all might remember a pretty big event happened last week... the Mr turned 40! His big birthday celebration was a trip to the Smoky Mountains for a long weekend. We started planning this trip around the first of June, and seeing that he'd only been to the mountains once — we knew this was the perfect place to take him.

One of the first things you need to do after deciding on your travel dates is to find a place to stay. We love staying on one of the mountains in a cabin. The adventure getting to the cabin is a story in itself. Ha!

We've stayed at quite a few lovely cabins, but this year we went with the Cabins For You online service. The search was easy... I just put in the dates we were looking for, and the fact that we needed a pet friendly cabin. The cabin we chose was one of the first ones we looked at.

We were so exhausted when we arrived at the cabin, I didn't take pictures before we "moved in" so you'll want to check out all the amazing amenities this cabin has to offer here. I will say that we loved feeling like we were back in our home, but in a different location. The cabin had everything we needed and wanted. And I'm pretty sure if they wouldn't have had another booking the day we were leaving... our trip might have been lengthened. There's just something about being up on a mountain — the peaceful serene atmosphere was heavenly.

I mentioned that this was the Mr's birthday trip. So we let him choose the activities for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the guys when to the Gatlinburg Sportsman's Club. They enjoyed a little skeet shooting and came back saying the next time they are there, they want to do it again. Here are a few pictures from their adventure on the range.

On Sunday, they ventured out to the Muscle Car Museum. There's just something about old cars that men just love.

Most of the time we hung out at the cabin and listened to the rain hitting the tin roof while we napped. MB loved exploring the cabin and our one lane road that led to our home away from home. She was a perfect little traveler. And we can't wait to go back and do it all again!

Friday five — link up #30

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hello last Friday of July. Wait, what? Summer is officially flying by...

the Sowell life

the Sowell life's Friday five...

1) {Happy Birthday Mr Sowell} The husband had a little big birthday on Monday. He officially turned 4 with a 0 behind it. We had fun celebrating with him. Even though I don't think he loved the "over the hill" balloon or the other black balloons that accompanied it, I think he enjoying his evening of celebration. And we're still enjoying that delicious cake from Delicious Bakery!

2) {A little porch sittin'} One of the favorite things about our home is our covered deck. The Mr had a wonderful idea of adding three ceiling fans out there, and it makes our porch sittin' time in the summer, bearable. And this little cutie loves it, too.

3) {Southern Cooking} We cooked up a big southern meal Tuesday night. It involved bbq chicken, fried squash, mashed potatoes, green beans and cornbread. And I could eat it all over again right now.

4) {Napping} We've done our fair share of napping this week. The rainy weather has been perfect for it, and I haven't complained about it at all.

5) {CANE'S} Here in Alabama, I've yet to find a Raising Cane's in the Bham area. And honestly, I do love Zaxby's, but there's jut something about Cane's sauce, their fries their toast.... yeah, I'm making myself pretty hungry here. So if you know of any Raising Cane's in the Bham area... PUH-LEZ let me know. =)

Now, who's ready to link up?!! Thanks for stopping by, linking up, sharing the link up on your blog and on twitter! I appreciate y'all spreading the word more than you'll ever know!! Enjoy your weekend, y'all! 

OH Back to School...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

You can't tell me that you didn't cringe at those words. And if you're like me, you just broke out in Adam Sandler's Back to School song from Billy Madison. No matter if you have kids in school, or if you yourself are still in school.... those words seem to sting a little.

And while the thought of going back to school with those early morning routines, and late nights of homework doesn't sound like any fun — shopping for school supplies ranks right up there with Christmas!!

When I was a small kid heading off to grade school all the way to current day... I love(d) school/office supplies. And boy have they come a long way since 1986 (yes, that's when I started kindergarten).

It started out in the early years of school with getting a Strawberry Shortcake backpack and the matching lunchbox. I'd probably need to watch cartoons to know what's popular these days. And then you get to middle school and it was all about the trapper keepers, text book covers and don't forget those Jansport book bags. Then in high school you don't buy any supplies until you've been in school for a week. You say no to the book bag (cause you have a locker you know) and you opt for the college ruled notebooks because you'd do anything to be outta high school and in college. And don't forget there isn't any need for pencil sharpeners. Remember those pens that had erasers? I wonder if they still have those.

Once you start college you grab your book bag again because you're trekking all over the campus from class to class, and you realize that no one really cares if you show up to class or not because if you don't, it's all on you. You wish you were in high school again because they supplied your text books where you didn't have to purchase expensive books that you'll probably never use again. But then again college still seems so much better than high school, right?

But like I said, I'll always love school/office supplies. I have my favorite pens, highlighters, sticky notes, notebooks, and of course everything is in cool colors these days, too. A favorite of mine is my planner. I haven't branched out to pay an arm and a leg for an Erin Condren planner, yet... but I'm hoping to broaden my planner horizons, soon.

What is your favorite school/office supply? While out shopping this week I heard many little ones asking for this and that as I passed the school supply section. I wonder what the hot item will be this year?

The apps in my life...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It took a few years for me to say goodbye to my blackberry, but it happened January 2011. That was the day I entered the iPhone family, and I haven't looked back since.

I'll admit that it took some getting use to, but one of my favorite things about having an iPhone is — the apps.

I'm linking up with our Alabama Women Bloggers site to tell y'all about my favorite apps. Some I can live with, and some I can't live without.


So let's get started. I'm going to tell you about the apps that I use the most. Some of these you probably already use, but just in case there is that slight chance that you don't... I feel like it's my job to make sure you do! Ha!

Instagram... this is my favorite photography app. I love that I can follow and see friends and other blogger's photos, and there's just something about a perfectly squared picture with or without filters.

Twitter/Facebook... my social media apps. Out of the two, I probably use twitter more.

Pandora... it's my music app choice. I LOVE music, and I can take it any and everywhere with me. Plus, I can customize my station and the songs I hear. The thumbs down button is my favorite!

Dish... you know how much we love reality tv in the Sowell house, and the thought of missing one is not okay. Having Dish on my phone allows me to record something coming up, and I can even watch the shows I have recorded on our DVR right from my phone.

Southwest... we don't fly much, but it's nice to have it when we do. The gate changes, times, etc is always updated on the app and it makes everything so much easier when we get to the airport.

P Tracker... ladies... it's a must! No more marking your calendars for the world to see... and it has many other things you can keep track off. Makes for the perfect app, ladies.

Amazon... it's no secret how much I love shopping through amazon, and this app makes it so easy. It might be my favorite shopping app out there.

Goodreads... hello, if you don't have this one and you are a big reader.... GET IT. I love it because I can keep up with what I've read, and I can see what my "friends" are reading and their comments about that book.

Where... if you travel, this app is great for helping you find gas stations, restaurants, and shopping in towns you aren't familiar with.

White Pages... if I didn't include this one, my husband might not forgive me. He swears by this app... no joke. Need an address or a phone number... this the app we use. It hasn't failed us yet.

What are your favorite apps? I'm looking forward to reading all the ladies' post who link up so I can hopefully tine out some apps that just might need in my life. Y'all can head over and read them, too!

Lordy Lordy, my husband is FORTY!

Monday, July 22, 2013

That's right... today the Mr turns the big 4-0. But have you seen him lately? He seriously hasn't aged a day since 21. Okay, okay... I've probably given him a few gray hairs since we met, but you'd have to look really close to see them. He doesn't have any wrinkles, and I'd say he's in perfect shape. His mind is still pretty sharp, and he can make me laugh a thousand times a day.

Even though you're 40 today, I promise to never call you my old man... at least until tomorrow. Ha!

Happy Birthday honey! I love you, always!!

the Friday five — linked up #29

Friday, July 19, 2013

So thankful to see another weekend finally here. Can't wait to enjoy it with friends and family.

the Sowell life

the Sowell life's Friday five...

The many faces of MB

1) {She can sleep anyway} As long as she has her blankets... she can take a nap in any position.

2) {Give me my greenie} She's a little impatience, but she gives the cutest little whines and sad eyes when she wants her greenies at night. 

3) {Pouting while sleeping} This is what happens when she's sad because someone has left her alone or because she's seen someone packing a suitcase. 

4) {Bird watching} We open our blinds during the day and she has the perfect view outside. Our huge pecan tree always has squirrels and birds, and she lays there and watches them like this.

5) {Who is it} She can sense someone coming near our home, and when that door opens... she has the perfect view. 

It's never a dull moment with MB in the house!

Now, who's ready to link up?!! Thanks for stopping by, linking up, sharing the link up on your blog and on twitter! I appreciate y'all spreading the word more than you'll ever know!! Enjoy your weekend, y'all! 

Birmingham Eats... Olexa's

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When we first moved to the Birmingham area last year, I started a series on our blog called, "Birmingham Eats." I guess you could say life happened, and we slacked off with this series. Well, I'm happy to say it's back, and I'm excited to show y'all all the yummy places "The Ham" has to offer.

When Stephanie suggested we head to Olexa's for lunch, she raved about their dessert first, and then their food. And considering my plate after it was all said and done... I'd say I couldn't or wouldn't complain about my entree or my dessert. I'm already trying to talk the Mr into having lunch with me there, VERY soon. I know he would love it!

Olexa's is located in Mountain Brook, and is a must for a lunch date with friends or your significant other. My mouth is watering just thinking about all that yummy food we enjoyed, and watched pass by our table. You'll enjoy the environment of Olexa's. You feel like you're in a french bistro in Paris, and not in Alabama. Our server was so passionate about her job. She wanted to make sure we loved our choices, and even gave me a sample of their chicken salad before ordering to make sure I liked it. (Which I'm thankful she did, because it was a little too sophisticated for my taste. You know, us Southern girls love a traditional and savory chicken salad.)

I ordered the Smoky Turkey Panini with a side salad, and Stephanie ordered their Chicken Crepes with salad. Let me just say that I loved my panini. I love honey mustard, and love to try out different versions of honey mustard with my sandwiches, and theirs was delicious. It also came with a creamy house sauce that was to die for! The side salad had a yummy vinaigrette dressing. Stephanie's crepes looked delicious. They were topped with a creamy sherry sauce.

People are always singing praises of Olexa's desserts, so you know we had to sample some of their sweets. We both ordered something different so we could sample each other's choice. I went with the Chocolate Fudge Cloud Nine, and she decided on their Warm French Vanilla Buttercream Cake. I was definitely on cloud nine from the moment I laid eyes on my desserts. The presentation was perfection, and the taste was like nothing I've ever tasted before. It was heavenly. I mentioned that we both sampled each other's desserts, and by far that was THE best buttercream icing I've ever tasted — hands down!

You can order cakes for special occasions or if you just want a slice of cake, you can pick that up for a treat, too.

Thank you, Olexa's, for an enjoyable and memorable lunch. We can't wait to come back!

What day is it?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I'm not promoting the insurance company mentioned above, but you've got to admit that it's hilarious!!
HUMP daaaaay. Ha!

Here are some things I'm loving this Wednesday...

• snuggles with MB
• lunch dates with friends
• leftover Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast
• our new devotional book
• favorite shows on tv tonight
• sunny days and rainy nights
• vacation countdown
• seeing the Mr love on MB
• supportive friends and family
• a loving husband who loves to spoil me with icee's

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Why Choose A Destination Wedding

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I've received many emails asking the who, what, why and where about our destination wedding. And while a destination wedding might not work for everyone... it was perfect for us.

Before we got engaged we knew that a move would be happening in our near future because of the Mr's recent job change. We also knew that when the engagement began... we didn't want to wait long before getting married. So we had already started talking about a destination wedding a few weeks before our engagement.

Why did we choose to have a destination wedding? Due to the timing of our move to Alabama, we didn't want the stress of planning a big wedding at home while preparing for our move. We also had a lot of people telling us what kind of wedding they wanted for us, and one thing you should always remember is that your wedding is about the bride and the groom. So to avoid the stress of planning, and to save money — we opted for a destination wedding. It's something we both wanted, and we are so happy we went with this decision. We also had a beautiful reception upon our arrival back to the states where we both wore our wedding attire again, and took pictures with our families.

Where to have your destination wedding? I knew not the first thing about planning a destination wedding. I googled "destination wedding", but was overwhelmed quickly. The best decision we made was to use a travel agent. We basically told him the date we wanted to get married, and he gave us five locations to choose from. The next part was the fun part... daydreaming about each location and picking our fantasy getaway.

What all does a destination entail? We went with a Sandals location for our wedding. Everything we needed to get married was taken care of through our travel agent and the wedding coordinator at our Sandals resort. The only thing we needed to go was our passports (which we got in a month), our wedding attire and our beach attire for the week. We had everything we wanted for our wedding from a tradition religious ceremony, to mini reception and have amazing photographs and a video from our wedding day. I spent one hour on the phone with the wedding coordinator one month before our wedding to plan out the flowers, and other details like hair and makeup appointments. Once we arrived to our dream wedding location, we spent an hour with our wedding coordinator picking out our music, enjoying a cake tasting, and deciding on our location.

Location was important to me because I didn't want to get married on the beach. Most of the Sandals resorts have a garden area to choose for your ceremony if you do not wish to be married on the beach.

Who can come to the wedding? That's a beauty of it... you can have as little or as many people as you'd like to come to your wedding. Both of our parents couldn't make the trip, so none of them came with us. Sandals offers different packages for small and intimate weddings (like we had) all the way up to large elaborate weddings for your friends and family. We also added a photography and video package so we could share our beautiful ceremony with our friends and family and have those memories for a lifetime.

If we had it to do all over again, we would definitely go this route again. Our Sandals resort was the perfect location for our dream wedding, and honeymoon.

Sandals didn't ask me to make this review, but I can honestly say that I would (and have) recommend a destination wedding at any Sandals resort. 

Humor in Television

Monday, July 15, 2013

Y'all already know I'm a Reality TV junkie. Some of the shows I just like, and others I really get into them.

My favorite summer TV show is Big Brother. This summer is season 15, and it's proving to be one of my favorites. The drama is endless, and the competitions are hilarious — where in the world do they come up with these ideas. If any of you are watching this season, too... I'm really hoping they vote Aaryn off this week. Her comments about everybody in the house has just about turned all of American against her. I can tell you that if I could vote... she'd have my vote to be evicted. However, I am proud to see that they are airing Howard from Hattiesburg, Mississippi praying with other cast members. And I'm stoked it comes on three times during the week!

This past weekend we watched Catfish for the first time. Wow is all I can say. People really do this? Why would someone change their photo and name just to date someone. I just don't get it. And of course we only watched one episode, so we might not have the full gist of the show.

After that show was over... we saw a preview for another show (who knew MTV had some entertaining shows these days)... Ridiculousness. I don't think we have stopped laughing since we started watching it. Why is it so funny to watch other people do stupid things, and sometimes even get hurt. Not to the point that they are seriously hurt, but still... you can't tell me you haven't laughed when you've seen something like that on tv, too. Especially the ABC show, Wipeout.

One of the ones we saw this weekend was called Pudding Surprise. Y'all I don't think I have ever laughed so hard. Forgive all the beeping out of bad language, but I had to give y'all a laugh today.


Our weekend in an instagram...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I think we've perfected our weekend, and I can sum it up in one word... L A Z Y! I mean, we're getting pretty good at seeing how long we can stay in our pajamas throughout the weekend. And I won't embarrass ourselves by telling you how many hours a day that is. But, let me make this clear. We do shower daily, and the pajamas also change daily.

Friday I had this grand idea, and it became a reality. You see Friday was cow appreciation day at Chick-fil-a. So, if you dressed up like a cow... you got a free meal. The wheels started turning, and I came up with a plan for us to dress up. But before I called the Mr to give him the details... I called our local Chick-fil-a and asked if we could come through the drive-thru to get our free meal. I was told "yes, we will allow that." So the Mr was called... and he laughed. (I'm pretty sure he thought I was just joking.) Once he got home, I told him to change into the clothes I had laid out for him so we could go to get our free meals. He just shook his head, but decided to go with it.

We drove in our outfits, and the Mr swears we were being stared at by every driver. (We were not, by the way.) And made our way to get in line at the drive thru. We ordered, and got to the window to get our order and she said, "I'm sorry but you have to come in for that." I immediately spoke up and told her about my phone call, and we had our free meals in less than a minute. Now, I ask you what's better than a Chick-fil-a meal? A FREE Chick-fil-a meal!!!

Saturday morning we both woke up hungry, but neither one of us felt like cooking breakfast. And neither one of us wanted to get dressed to go grab breakfast. So we jumped in the truck and headed to McDonald's in our pajamas. (Told ya we love to stay in pjs.) After lunch and a nap we went to Krispy Kreme for their birthday special... buy a dozen, get a dozen for 76 cents! What can I say... we love a deal. Later that evening we cranked up the grill for a little date night cookout. Burgers, homemade fries and baked beans hit the spot! And after dinner I headed to the bedroom while the Mr stayed in our living room. I had a date with the Miss Mississippi pageant online, and he had a movie he wanted to watch. How we managed to stay up til 10:30 is beyond me.

Sunday was the ultimate lazy day. Doughnuts for breakfast, movie watching and naps were on the agenda. Of course I started playing Candy Crush last week, and the Mr has been watching me and guess what he downloaded on his phone.... yep... he is now obsessed, too! But FYI... I'm still waaaay ahead of him on the levels. But I fear he will be catching up to me soon. Are y'all playing... some of the levels are hard. Ha!

How was your weekend? It's hard to believe that we are starting our THIRD week of July. Seriously, where is this month going?!

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