Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail at Kelly Ingram Park – Birmingham, Alabama – 11/30/2019

In the early 1960s, Kelly Ingram Park, in Birmingham, Alabama became the epicenter of our nation’s Civil Rights Movement. Today, you can walk in the footsteps of those who endured bombings, brutality, confrontations, rallies, and more, to fight for their most basic of human rights. Monuments, statues, signage, and even an audio tour bring the struggle to life as you march with those who came before us. Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail at Kelly Ingram Park Click on any photo for books and resources for learning about the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

The Four Spirits Sculpture at Kelly Ingram Park Along the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail – Birmingham, Alabama – 11/30/2019

The Four Spirits Sculpture at Kelly Ingram Park memorializes the lives lost during the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963. The four girls represented in the statues are all shown in preparation for the Church sermon, just moments before the explosion that would take their lives. The youngest girl killed, Denise McNair, is releasing six doves into the air as she stands barefoot upon the bench. The second barefoot girl, Addie Mae Collins, kneels upon the bench, helping McNair with her dress. Cynthia Wesley, the third young girl, sits alongside the others with a book in her lap depicting the words…

Red Cat Coffee House – Birmingham, Alabama – 11/30/2019

We left the house with plenty of coffee for the road, but our first official stop for Vacation Coffee was the fancy feline-themed Red Cat Coffee House by Railroad Park in Downtown Birmingham, Alabama. We loved the Signature Lattes, and it was REEEEEALLLLY hard to pick just a few… We definitely had to get the Russian Blue in honor of our own Sapphira, Princess of Athenia. And the rest all sounded incredible as well! Trillian and I narrowed it down to the Coconut and Vanilla Burmese, and the Vanilla and Cinnamon Abyssinian, to go with our Dark Chocolate and Peppermint…

Random Birmingham – Birmingham, Alabama – 11/30/2019

Our first stop off the Interstate for a coffee break and a few Bucket List Checks… Here are a few random shots from Downtown Birmingham, Alabama. There wasn’t much going on downtown in the midst of this sleepy post-Holiday weekend, but there were some gorgeous old theatres, nostalgic neon signs, and unique architecture to be enjoyed as we made our way from Railroad Park to Kelly Ingram Park. New Ideal Department StoreAlabama TheatreLyric TheatreRailroad Park Click on any photo for books about Birmingham, Alabama! Or check out our SPGFAN QUIKLIST for fun, family-friendly attractions in Birmingham, Alabama!

First State Down! Sweet Home Alabama! – Georgia/Alabama Border on I-20 – Waco, Georgia into Muscadine, Alabama – 11/30/2019

Ahhhh! Our first state border crossing on our 2019 Girls’ Trip West! We left Athens, GA about 8am or so, hit a little Game Day traffic in the center of Atlanta for the UGA / GA Tech Game, and then made it to the Alabama Border by noonish! Blue skies ahead! And lots of memories to be made! So the trip begins!

There is ALWAYS Something to be Thankful for… Happy Thanksgiving from Athens, Georgia – 11/28/2019

We celebrated Thanksgiving a day early in our house… Because sometimes life works out that way. But, before we joined each other in the kitchen to prepare our own meal, we spent the day filling Little Pantries around the Athens area with some Holiday Love. I don’t tell you this so you’ll laud our good deeds. However, I do share this in hopes you’ll notice something else. In downtown Athens, inside one of the Little Pantries that I personally see frequented by homeless in our area, I found something that completely warmed my heart. And I hope you, too, can…

A Little Hand-Made Athens Love at Opa Robby’s Market – Athens, Georgia – 11/27/2019

We try to shop at Opa Robby’s Market every week! The produce is awesome, the homemade food items are incredible… And all the local Athens-Made Art Work is so much fun to peruse! Athens, Georgia is most definitely a city full of unique artists, and I love how all of the local businesses and markets come together to support each other. Hand-Made LOVE is the best kind of LOVE! Consider supporting a local artist when YOU shop this year!

Thanksgiving Bread From Bishop Breads (Formerly RISE Baking Co) – Athens, Georgia – 11/27/2019

Mmmm… RISE Baking Co out of Athens, Georgia makes THE most wonderful naturally leavened sourdough bread loaves! We first found Julie at the Opa Robby’s Fall Market; and we bought an Olive Fig Loaf from her then, took it home, and absolutely DEVOURED it! She was set up at Opa Robby’s Market again today, and the timing was AWESOME. We grabbed a Cranberry Pecan and a Roasted Sweet Potato loaf… And it was a flawless compliment to our Thanksgiving Spread! At the end of dinner, the Sweet Potato bread was almost gone… And the Cranberry Pecan won’t make it past…

A Late Night Walk Through Sparta – Sparta, Tennessee – 11/25/2019

We drive past Sparta, Tennessee several times a week on Highway 111 through Central Tennessee. However, tonight is the first night we actually decided to check the city out. And, whoa! Sparta is MUCH bigger than we thought it was! I always thought it was a one stoplight kind of town… But, there is actually a lovely downtown area with quaint shops and cafes, Veterans’ Memorials, the proudly restored Oldham Theatre, and several historic monuments; including those paying homage to local Bluegrass music legend, Lester Flatt. We grabbed a bite to eat and some hot beverages from The Coffee Collective,…

The Coffee Collective – Sparta, Tennessee – 11/26/2019

We’ve been hitting the coffee scenes in Cookeville and Chattanooga pretty hard lately, so we decided to see what else might be available along our Tennessee route. And, yay, we found something AWESOME! And they are even open until 7pm! The Coffee Collective! The Coffee Collective has been in Downtown Sparta for a little over two years now. But, the refurbished, warm, historically eclectic-style atmosphere with original brickwork and antique bicycle theme makes the place feel like it has been a part of the community forever! I love nothing more than rolling into a quaint “new to us” town, and…

Sweet AND Savory at Crepe & Creme – Cookeville, Tennessee – 11/25/2019

Yummm…. The only thing better than Boba Tea… Is Crepes and Boba Tea! Two tried and true Bubble Tea favorites… Taro Milk Tea and Thai Milk Tea Both with Tapioca Boba… And our other Crepe & Creme Favorite, the Sweet Chili Shrimp Crepe! And, since Trillian is now doing the Vegetarian thing, we had to try the Vegetarian Crepe! All was AWESOME! As usual! I’m crazy about this place for a reason! Crepe & Creme IS my favorite Quick Bite Food Choice in Cookeville, Tennessee! As they say, “Life IS Sweeter in Cookeville!” Click on Any Photo for At Home…

SPGFAN Gift Guides: You’re Never Too Old to Color!

Adult Coloring is all the rage! And understandably so! In these hectic times, we all need a chance to turn off the gadgets, sit back, relax, and take care of ourselves! Art is a fantastic option to do just that! I have loved coloring from the earliest days of my childhood, and well into my adulthood! I have always kept a corner bookcase full of crayons, colored pencils, and a variety of high quality coloring books. If you have an older child, teen, or adult in your life, or if you are even looking for some good “old-fashioned” fun for…

A Gift From Above – Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway – Pickens, South Carolina

Just zooming along the highway, sun roof open, windows down… Mesmerized by the fall colors, wind whipping through our hair, singing at the top of our lungs to our favorite tunes… And the tiniest little leaf just floats through the sun roof, and lands upon my arm… As if a gift from above… How amazing, really, To be in just the exact spot… At EXACTLY the right time… At 60+ miles per hour… On a backroad… With no plan before you… That this little leaf… Breaks free from its tree… Floats through the breeze… Meanders its way gently THROUGH my…

Fall Foliage Hiking at Lake Jocassee – Devil’s Fork State Park – Salem, South Carolina – 11/19/2019

All the pretty colors! I don’t know why, but I can’t get enough of the blazing beauty of fall! All the reds, oranges, yellows, and more, especially against the backdrop of perfectly crisp, blue skies…. Ah… My heart feels alive. And, yes, I take thousands of pictures of leaves! Devil’s Fork State Park nestled on Lake Jocassee at the edges of Sumter National Forest was an absolute leaf-lovers DREAM! So, next time you want to enjoy some “leaf-peeping” in the Southern Appalachians, consider making your Fall Break plans in some of South Carolina’s STUNNING State Parks!

A Little Lakeside Fun – Lake Jocassee – Devil’s Fork State Park – Salem, South Carolina – 11/19/2019

In our quest to find more gems not too terribly far off our beaten path, we have discovered the stunning Northwest Corner of Upstate South Carolina! It stands to reason, that just across the State Line from some of the most gorgeous parts of North Carolina, you would also find the Appalachians in similarly awe-inspiring glory. But, South Carolina is definitely full of under-appreciated natural resources that rival some of the best the US has to offer! Lake Jocassee, Sumter National Forest, the Appalachian Mountains, and a handful of State Parks with limitless recreational opportunities! Just to name a few!…

Fish Out of Water at the South Carolina I-85 Welcome Center – Fair Play, South Carolina – 11/19/2019

Fish Out of Water is a Community Art Exhibit based out of Anderson, South Carolina, featuring 35 Largemouth Bass Sculptures throughout town. We happened across this guy, Fish-n-Chips, at the South Carolina Welcome Center, along Interstate 85. We definitely want to get into Anderson, SC soon to see if we can catch them all! Welcome to South Carolina, y’all!

SPGFAN Gift Guides: Life’s a Garden! Dig It!

From the tiniest hands, to the nimblest fingers, Garden-Themed Toys are all the rage for creative kids! Toddler-Sized Gardening Tools, Flower Building Sets, Puzzles, Mechanical Gears, and, of course, Outdoor Gardening with REAL dirt! Yes! We’re digging up the best suggestions for YOUR family! Let your Little Gardeners GROW and BLOOM! Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Gardening Tote Set With Tools Amazon Price Starting at $11.61 Flower Building Sets 98 Piece Build-a-Garden with 12 Bonus ButterfliesStarting at $19.99 SPGFAN Says: Green Toys Build-a-Bouquet is THE original Flower Building Set, and to my knowledge, remains unparalleled in quality. Green…

SPGFAN Gift Guides: A Steaming Hot Cup of Imagination!

If you love coffee as much as we do, maybe your crew needs a Pretend Coffee Pot or Espresso Machine in their Kitchen, Bakery, or Cafe! Check out some of these ADORABLE little coffee and espresso themed play sets below, and let your Junior Barista’s creative juices flow this holiday season! Wooden Espresso Machines! Wonderworld All-in-1 Coffee Shop Pretend Play Toy with Accessories Amazon Price Starting at $43.27 Plus Shipping SPGFAN Says: Oh, you guys! This is precious! A full wooden espresso machine in the front, and the cutest little bakery rack in the back! I may be 40, but…

SPGFAN Gift Guides: The Ultimate Guide to Gourmet Play Food Toys for YOUR Child’s Play Kitchen!

When stocking your child’s Stores, Markets, Shops, and Kitchens, there are LOTS of Play Food Choices! I mean, there is Play Food. And then, there is GOURMET PLAY FOOD! High quality realism… Heirloom quality woods and felts… Genuine effort into the loveliest details! When only the best will do for your Little Foodie! We bring you The Ultimate Guide to YOUR Child’s Gourmet Play Kitchen! Brands We Love! HapePlan ToysHaba Hape Sushi Selection Kid’s Wooden Play Food Set Amazon Price Starting at $24.93 Award Winning Hape Pita Pocket Play Set Amazon Price Starting at $12.73 Hape Shish Kabob Basics Kid’s…

SPGFAN Gift Guides: Your Ultimate Guide to Pretend Groceries and Play Food Toys for YOUR Child’s Play Room!

This Page is a Work in Progress! More Ideas Updated Regularly! If you have a Grocery Store, Farmers Market, Kitchen Set, Ice Cream Cart, Bakery Stand, Lemonade Stand, Shopping Cart, or other SUPER COOL Play Sets for YOUR child’s play area, chances are you need to stock your shelves with some Pretend Groceries and Play Food Toys! Sounds simple, right? Ha! There are TONS of Pretend Groceries and Play Food Toys on the market today! You’ve got the highest quality wooden varieties, to realistic plastics and foams, to cardboard boxes, to the cheaper, less realistic, but less expensive plastics… If…

SPGFAN Gift Guides: Shops and Stores!

Do you have a budding entrepreneur? Sharpen your tots’ sales skills with the coolest shops on the block! Creativity, imagination, sorting, counting, sharing, social interaction! Set up shop with these AWESOME play sets today! Shops and Stores Cash Registers Money Shopping Carts Groceries Shops and Stores! Janod Green Wooden Market Grocery Play Stand with 32 Accessories Starting on Amazon at $109.99 Wooden grocery stand featuring vibrant food and money accessories Features 6 display spaces for included food accessories Includes 32 accessories – 3 each of bananas, apples, carrots, strawberries, beets, potatoes, plus 6 cardboard food boxes, cash register, scale, set…

The Irish Twin’s Momma – Parenting + Recipes + DIY

Ashley is a full-time working momma of “Irish twin” boys, a runner, and a foodie; and she’s always up for creating new things! Her blog contains recipes, crafts, travel resources, product reviews, and loads of other parenting topics! Stop by and say hi to Ashley! The Irish Twin’s Momma

The Blessed Mama of 4 – Faith, Family, Fun

Come on over and meet Heather, The Blessed Mama of 4! She is passionate about sharing all things for the home and family; and loves talking about some of her favorites! She enjoys being a mom and running her home, and wants to provide other mamas (and dads!) with tips that will help with your home, family, health/wellness, homeschooling, and kids crafts. She hopes you will also find joy in her simple, doable, ideas that have been helpful in her life! Blessed Mama of 4

The Memories Travel – Making Memories Through Travel

Kara, Midwestern mom of 2, offers travel planning ideas and destination reviews and highlights to help you get the most bang for your travel dollar! Whether you are looking for luxury travel, or sticking to a budget, Kara wants to help you make every moment valuable! The Memories Travel

QUIKLIST: National Park Units in Alphabetical Order

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park Acadia National Park Adams National Historical Park African Burial Ground National Monument Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Alagnak Wild River Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site Amistad National Recreation Area Andersonville National Historic Site Andrew Johnson National Historic Site Aniakchak National Monument Aniakchak National Preserve Antietam National Battlefield Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Appalachian National Scenic Trail Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Arches National Park Arkansas Post National Memorial Arlington House The Robert E Lee Memorial Assateague Island National Seashore Aztec Ruins National Monument Badlands National Park Bandelier National…

The Heartland Mama – Life Lessons, Recipes, and More From a Small Town Mama

Lynn opens up to share her “Small Town Life” by telling stories of pregnancy and motherhood, and detailing lots of great kitchen inspiration! I found tons of cute craft ideas, and a treasure trove of creative adventures for littles! And she offers quite the collection of recipes! Pastas, casseroles, soups, slow-cooker meals, and more! If you’d like a peek at Life in the Heartland, give Lynn a click! The Heartland Mama! Mmmm! Doesn’t this look fun!

Partying with Twins

Twin Mom, Amanda, shares the joys, and even the overwhelm, of bringing not one, but two, tiny humans into this world! Her posts describe her struggles and triumphs in deeply personal detail. And she offers plenty of fun seasonal ideas and recipes for the family kitchen! This is your invitation to her party! Partying with Twins!

The Kent Krew

Amy, mother of 2, wants to share all the passions of her life with you! With a collection of articles covering Parenting, Health and Fitness, Recipes, Educational Resources, Gift Guides, Bible Studies, and more, Amy hopes you will stop by and get to know her krew! The Kent Krew!

Intentional Summer – Planned Fun for Kids

This blog is about all things summer, traveling with kids, lesson plans, chores, crafts, kid-friendly foods, outdoor activities and saving money along the way. I want to help you enjoy your summer, to make the most of these moments with your families, to build lasting memories, forge close relationships and have an Intentional Summer.

Kin Uplugged – All Things Family

Kin Uplugged – All Things Family Family is an incredible thing. Some we’re born into and others we choose. Either way, it always comes with joys and lessons that we’re unlikely to learn in the same way anywhere else.  Here on Kin Unplugged, you’ll find a wide range of posts related to family. From babies to mothering to marriage. You’re sure to find something you can relate to.  SPGFAN Says: Kin Unplugged is a lovely collection of articles and resources designed to offer support and encouragement to moms of the littlest littles. Are you adjusting to life as a new…

Adventures of Abby Girl – A Tell it Like it Is Kinda Blog

Adventures of Abby Girl! Whether riding a horse, hiking a trail, taking photos, or painting a masterpiece, Abby Girl is FULL of epic adventure! Travel! Adventure! Life! If you’d like to see where she goes next, grab your tutu and your hiking boots, and follow along with Abby Girl!

Parents Enlight – Happiness in Heart & Mind – Connected Living and Parenting with Viki de Lieme

Happiness in Heart & Mind Connected Living and Parenting with Viki de Lieme SPGFAN Says: Viki de Lieme brings a wealth of experience to her blog Parents Enlight to encourage parents to find Happiness in Heart and Mind with Connected Living and Parenting. As a proud supporter of peaceful, positive parenting myself, I really love the material she is presenting here, and the tools she is providing for ALL parents to become more present, and more mindful of creating positive, child-centered communication. If you’d like more information on parenting principles that encourage compassion, empathy, acceptance, and non-violent communication, please read…

The Growing Creatives – A Childhood Rooted in Creativity

The Growing Creatives One of the most important aspects of childhood is learning to use your imagination. Where would we be without the creativity of whoever invented the coffeepot?  There is nothing more amazing than a child’s pure, boundless imagination. They already have the ability, and it’s our job to give them the tools to flourish! I hope this blog inspires you and gives you some fun ideas to try with your kiddos. SPGFAN Says: From seasonal art and craft projects, to yummy recipes, to fun ideas for themed sensory bins, The Growing Creatives blog offers up some lovely, unique…

The Well and Balanced Mom

WHAT IS THE WELL AND BALANCED MOM? The Well and Balanced Mom is a site dedicated to YOU, Momma.​It’s a place to find tips, inspiration, and insight on how to balance your life and make the most of the precious years you have before your children leave home. Through this blog, I hope you’re inspired to keep yourself a priority as you navigate through one of the hardest, but most rewarding times in your life. You may feel like taking care of yourself is not important or worse— selfish. But your children deserve a mother who models self-care, who values…

Waterfall Scrambling at Cane Creek Falls – Fall Creek Falls State Park – Spencer, Tennessee – 11/06/2019

It’s been a while since we’ve been rock or waterfall scrambling. I’ve been trying to plan a few waterfall destinations lately, but usually the weather isn’t completely cooperative. But, today was a gorgeous day to catch three different sets of falls at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee. This is Tennessee’s most visited State Park, and I can see why. We’ve actually been here before several times, but Cane Creek Falls is the only hike we’ve been on as a family. Otherwise, we used to just hang out and take it easy while Trillian went horseback riding. But,…

Theodore Roosevelt’s Pine Knot Cabin – Glendower, Virginia

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site – New York, New York

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site – Buffalo, New York

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site – Oyster Bay, New York

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Medora, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt Island – Washington, D.C.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Keystone, South Dakota

William Howard Taft National Historic Site – Cincinnati, Ohio

Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Manse – Staunton, Virginia

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum – Staunton, Virginia

Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home – Augusta, Georgia

Woodrow Wilson House – Washington, D.C.

Warren G. Harding House – Marion, Ohio

Calvin Coolidge House – Northampton, Massachusetts

Coolidge Homestead at President Calvin Coolidge State Historical Site – Plymouth Notch, Vermont

Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum – Northampton, Massachusetts

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site – West Branch, Iowa

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum – West Branch, Iowa

Lou Henry Hoover House (at Stanford University) – Stanford, California

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site – Hyde Park, New York

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum – Hyde Park, New York

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site – Hyde Park, New York

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House – Warm Springs, Georgia

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial – Washington, D.C.

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area – Hunters, Washington

Harry S. Truman National Historic Site – Independence, Missouri

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum – Independence, Missouri

Historic Truman Courthouse – Independence, Missouri

Clinton’s Soda Fountain – Independence, Missouri

Eisenhower National Historic Site – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania