Couple’s Getaway Vacation Destination: Smoke Hole Caverns (WV)

For our anniversary two years ago, in August, we booked the sweetheart cabin at Smoke Hole Cavern.

We originally were supposed to go in August, but due to a death in the immediate family, we had to reschedule. They have a 48 hour cancellation policy and we had to give shorter notice, so we had to reschedule instead of cancel. We also only had a very short time we were allowed to reschedule or they told us they were going to lose our deposit.

We rescheduled for a new date in September and ended up going during a very cold, rainy weekend and we were both starting to get sick BUT the cabin made up for everything. We stayed in the honeymoon (sweetheart) log cabin. The cabin was made for 2 people (actually has rules that you can’t have visitors) and they offer several extras- champagne, souvenir coffee mug (I loved it and used it daily until I dropped it) and some romantic foods. Since neither of us drink alcohol and I have to watch what I eat very carefully, the only extra we got was the mug, which like I said, I loved.

Our view from directly behind the cabin

We were recovering from a four hour car trip so went straight to our cabin after grabbing a bite to eat in the gift shop and crashed a bit with some movies and trying out the hot tub the first night. The second day we went on tour of the caverns and shopped around before going back to try to find the football game.
The food was good at the gift shop and there were tons of shirts and stones for sale. We got a gold hunt game and a few pieces of rock for the kids as souvenirs. The staff was friendly.

The tour of the cave lasted around 1 hour. It was decently lit but some parts were dark, they take people in groups, so you’ll be going with several other families more than likely. The tour guides know the cave well and will answer any questions you have.

They have grills spread out randomly through all the cabins for grilling out, there is a small kid fishing pond and a bait shack in the middle and it’s only a couple hundred feet from the river where you can go and fish (make sure you have your license, though).
It was too cold and rainy for us to use those accommodations but we would like to go back to use those and see how great a vacation it is for the whole family.

If you’re looking to get away with your partner, honeymoon or anniversary, I highly recommend staying at the Sweetheart log cabin.

I followed the recipe

And I think this could qualify as a pinterest fail

It was my first attempt at cold press soap

I broke it apart to get it to dry

Its made with olive oil, coffee instead of water and lye, so it shouldn’t be dry yet fully

I made it a week ago so it still has 7 weeks to go

What did I do wrong?

My coconut oil and water soap seems to be doing better and I made some today with goats milk instead of water and coconut/safflower oils and they already seem to be doing better.

I brought these out to dry out a bit better

I’m in the process of creating a dream interpretation course

If you have been interested in learning dream interpretation, this is for you.

In this course, you will learn to delve in to the internal world of your dreams. You won’t wake up again from a dream and wonder what it meant, this will give you the knowledge and tools to sit down and analyze the dream yourself. You will know what to look at, which parts of your dream were more important and you will have a reference sheet to look at to determine what everything means.

Why should you listen to me?

I have been studying dreams and dream interpretation for over 20 years. In that time, I have compiled a list of the most important details in dreams that I look at when I’m analyzing other peoples’ dreams. I also am in the process of writing a 3 part dictionary/journal to guide people through meanings and explain the significance in dream symbols.

Why am I writing this?

I’m preparing this course as a full dream symbol exploration for beginners- around 10 courses and I’ll be covering different topics in depth. Join me and I’ll help unlock the messages your brain and the universe are trying to tell you. By the end, you’ll be able to interpret dreams for your friends, family and coworkers just like I have been for over 2 decades.

 

The introduction is up and anyone who signs up will be notified as I get each lesson up.

There will be a total of 12 lessons- major topics. My journal can easily compliment it and you can get it at the link above.

 

What are the day to day expenses you can easily make or produce?

One of the primary things to look at when you’re working on getting out of debt is where you spend your money.

Where are some areas your money is going that you could make with ingredients you already have at home?

All you need is to buy some extra supplies like citric acid and lye and adding it to oils you likely cook with (olive, grapeseed, coconut or nearly any other plant based cooking oils), water or milk (or even coffee) and you can make cold pressed soaps. You can also use lye to make cleaners- lye is a dangerous chemical that can cause burns, but once the soap is processed, it’s safe to use. All soaps have had lye in the beginning.

Citric acid is what is typically put in bath bombs to make them fizz. There are subs if you don’t have citric acid.

Mixing coconut oil with shea butter, cocoa butter or any other natural plant based butters

Shampoo is another needless expense. All you need are a few ingredients from your kitchen and you can make shampoo and conditioner (or a conditioning rinse). I tried the “No Poo” method for about 4-6 months a few years ago. Baking soda and apple cidar vinegar didn’t work long term for me, but everyone’s hair is different. The Apple cider vinegar rinse was amazing, I still do it occasionally. After one rinse (I didn’t bother measuring, just used roughly half a cup of apple cider vinegar and filled the rest of the container with water, poured it over my head after washing my hair, waited a couple seconds then rinsed it out- it left my hair soft and fluffed up.

Produce can be grown. You may not have room to put all your normal foods, but some veggies can easily be grown from inside your home or in containers outside.

Herbs are easily grown in containers by your window or on a sunny sill. They don’t require tons of maintaince and seeds cost less than jars at the store.

Napkins, paper towels, even feminine hygiene and toilet paper are all available. Look up “unpaper towel,” “unsponge” or even “family cloth” and you’ll find reusable napkins, paper towels and toilet paper. All you do is keep them in a bucket and wash in your washer and you can say goodbye to all those paper products.

With products like the cup and cloth pads, even feminine hygiene products can be made or purchased less frequently.

Bread, rolls, buns all cost. All you need is the internet and you can easily replace any breads or you eat regularly for less money.

Store bought microwavable and other convenience foods are more expensive due to the convenience. There are easy meals to make in just a few minutes or batch cooking is also good- on a day off, cook for the whole week and freeze for later use. This also works well for staying on track while you’re at work.

These are just a few small changes you can easily make to replace more expensive items with homemade versions. Depending on your skills, you could even take up woodworking and make your own furniture, decor or anything else. It all depends on how far you’re looking to go.

What changes are you making or have you made?

8 Fun Easy Party Games for Kids

If you’re wanting to do a birthday party for your child from home to skip out on the expenses of hosting parties in other locations, you don’t have to break the bank to do it.

Planning a birthday party doesn’t have to take a ton of work or money. There are plenty of fun games that are cheap and fast to set up.

1. Pin the tail on the donkey- this is an older game, available in many variations and works well for any party for birthdays or holidays. The rules are simple- blindfold the child, spin and they have to stick the tail on the poster as close to the proper location as possible. The closest child wins.

This game only costs a few dollars, unless you’re able to print it off or draw it yourself. Sometimes you will get the board as a pull out in a magazine for free.

2. Treasure hunt- Create fun maps around the house/yard and mark various locations. Hide small prizes and send the kids in two teams to try to be the first to find the treasure.

You can also have each child follow slightly different maps to try to find their own personal treasures. The possibilities are endless.

3. One game played at my 7th birthday that was a huge hit was scooping cotton balls into a jar blindfolded. The child who scooped the most balls in the tub won.

I’m not sure the name of the game, but all of us had a blast and that particular birthday party was one of my most memorable.

4. Freeze dance- play music and have the kids dance. When the music stops, they freeze. There is no winner but kids do have a lot of fun

5. Simon says is another old classic that costs nothing. You have all kids line up and

6. Telephone- have the children stand in a circle. Tell one a “secret” they have to pass on to the next. When you get to the last kid, have them say it outloud and have the first kid tell everyone what the actual message is.

7. Pass the ball- this will take some prep and some money, but wrap a large ball of plastic wrap. While wrapping, put small favors and even change and have each child pass. When a child gets the ball, have them unwrap until you tell them to stop and they get any little favor that drops out.

8. Another physical game that can help kids run off the energy from cake is doing a relay race. Group the kids and have them line up- you can have the first kids race with spoons while the next two have to race with their feet tied together while the final kids have to do a wheelbarrow race. They could just pass a baton, like other games, the possibilities are endless.

There are tons of other games- from classics like Red Rover, musical chairs to games you make up. Birthday parties don’t have to cost hundreds, kids can have a lot of fun in the front yard playing games with their close friends.

Ways to Stay on Track While Doing Whole30

Staying on track with any diet takes effort.

The Whole30 seems intimidating until you finish your grocery shopping and get into the recipes, you will see that 30 days isn’t hard.

Since so many of us are trapped at home, now is a better time than usual to do it, it’s only 30 days with a couple weeks reintroducing the foods.

I had myself ready to go through the severe sugar addiction symptoms Melissa warned against, but actually didn’t deal with any bad side effects from quitting sugar.

Buy the journal, or check it out from the library, check out the Whole30 cookbooks as well as “It Starts With Food.”

Read “It Starts With Food” before you start and go to the Whole30 website- sign up for the newsletter as well as the beginner kit.

Find 1-2 weeks of recipes, mark down the ingredients and do your grocery shopping the day before you start.

Try to grocery shop 2 times, and shop for 2 weeks at a time.

Keep an eye on how long you have left, how you feel and keep a log.

If you keep a blog, keep tabs for accountability on your blog. You don’t have to do a post every day but it can help with gaining support. There are also several Whole30 groups on Facebook. Support is extremely helpful in getting through this month.

Try to avoid going out to eat, but there are options if you do- just be careful. I ate steamed kale and it ended my first attempt at 22 days- it was sauteed in butter.

Keep the end results in mind

Don’t weigh yourself, it’s tempting but it’s not a weightloss diet- it’s to try to help discover problematic foods. A lot of people do lose weight, but one of the rules is to not weigh yourself until after you’re done.

Try to not obsess over food.

Don’t snack unless you need to.

Prepare a wide variety of foods. It can get boring eating the same things over and over so make sure you get a lot of healthy fats and proteins- they fill you up longer. Use this time to try new produce and meats.

 

Those are the things that got me through the month. I may have failed, but it did help me see how bad dairy does effect me and I found I have some issues with sugar. By the time I was just a couple days through the diet, I could taste how much sweeter normal foods were and when I went back to a normal gluten free/low dairy diet, sweetened foods were almost overwhelming.

 

Have you done Whole30? Did you make it through the whole month? What tips would you give someone just starting out?

 

What Should You Get to Start an Emergency Stockpile?

This is something I’ve been reading up on for about a year- ever since a tornado rolled through and we had to take our customers to shelter in place at work. Our house lost electric for a little bit but having it come through at all had me starting to research. WV isn’t exactly known for tornadoes.

Now, with people running out and panic shopping, it is leaving people with little to actually sort through and buy.

Due to shortages, the preppers are the ones most prepared in times like this.

What would be the best thing to make sure you’re stocked up on just in case of something like this happening again?

Foods

If you are able to keep cans of fruits and vegetables stocked up, they last longer than fresh but a lot contain preservatives, salt and added sugar so it would be best to keep those for emergencies.

Same goes for canned meats, not healthy to eat on a regular basis but they work well if something happens and you’re unable to get fresh meat.

Canned fish (salmon and tuna) are exceptions, they are healthy and last longer than fresh.

Canned beans work in place of dried beans, they are a great source of protein.

You can also get shelf stable milk for baking and nutrition.

Grains like wheat flour, enriched flour, almond mill, gluten free flour, rice, quinoa, amaranthe, etc can sit sealed for months so they are good to have on hand. That way, if you run out of bread or any other baked items you need and can’t make it to the store, you can make it.

Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are a given when it comes to regular keeping up with your home as well as cold and flu season. They are especially important when new diseases come around.

Which ones and how much depend on the size of your family, home and your normal routine. The best way to figure it is to try to keep an extra 3-6 month supply in case things get serious.

It’s easy to build, all you need is to buy a few extras on normal shopping trips.

Same goes for toilet paper, paper towels and other necessities. You can make reusable (see here, I mention some ways to replace. I can do a tutorial if wanted)

You can buy the larger packs of generic brand, unless you have a Sams or Costco membership, then you can easily stock up. Paper towels can be easily replaced with old rags or you can take some fabric and make them yourself.

shampoo bottles on shelf

Bath and Body

Try to keep an extra bottle or two of your normal shampoo and conditioner, same with an extra stick of deodorant, lotion and soap/body wash.

It’s also a good idea to stock some extra cold, flu, allergy and pain killer medications. If you have kids, keep an extra container of vitamins.

selective focus photography of people holding sticks with sausages

Miscellaneous

First aid kit, dehydrated food supply- enough for 3 days for each member of the family is the typical recommendation. It’s a bit pricier, but

We have a propane camping stove and found it came in handy when we lost electricity for over a day. We were able to cook without electric.

Try to keep at least 3-6 months of expenses saved back in a savings account. You can start with building a cushion of 1000 then move on to saving higher amounts.

Lighters and matches- anything you can use to start a fire, camping multi tool as well as fishing or hunting gear if there is a chance you could need to hunt for food and a set of camping eating items (cups, plates, the multi tool etc) and some recommend a tent.

Some people recommend keeping a bag in your house with 3 days- 2 weeks worth of everything you would need in case you have to evacuate.

Extra water- bottled, gallons or a way of purifying but some chemicals won’t be filtered out so keeping a few extra cases of water won’t hurt.

Flashlight and extra batteries of all sizes your items take.

 

Those are some recommendations for beginners that I have found around the web. If the Corona is teaching us anything, it’s that preppers are really getting on to something. Some of the stuff may seem a bit extreme, but with the crazy weather and diseases, keeping extras of some items don’t seem too bad an idea.

Another tip people keep saying- if you start a stock pile, don’t tell people. If people know, make sure you have it on lock and have ways to defend yourself if things get bad and people start looting.

 

 

How to Replace Toilet Paper/paper towels or Baby Wipes.

With the talk of the Coronavirus, people have been freaking out and hoarding toilet paper. It always helps to be prepared in case of emergency but if you run out and can’t find any sold, you don’t have to resort to stealing from businesses or using leaves.

If you have access to a washing machine, you can easily cut pieces of cloth, put a bucket beside your toilet and fill it with the pieces of cloth until you’re ready to wash and bleach them.

Wipes or TP

To do those- cut old towels or old cotton (works best) or terry cloth into 4-6 inch squares and put 2 pieces front to front (make sure the sides you want to have on the outside are together on the inside)

With your sewing machine, stitch  around each edge until you get to the side you started on. Leave a small opening and turn it inside out, then close the hole. Once you get the hole closed, stitch around the edges again and you’re done.

When you finish, wash in a gentle detergent and put in an old wipe container. Fill with a mix of baby shampoo or soap and water. Make sure it’s a gentle formula.

When you use one, toss it in a bucket beside your changing station and when you’re running low, wash in the washer.

Same with toilet paper- use the same wipes you made for adults- but use a different type of soap or use them dry and put them with the baby wipes.

 

If you have no access to a washing machine, you can use cut up old towels/fabric and hand sew with a needle and thread. You can also cut a roll of paper towels in half and soak them to make wipes.

Paper towels

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With a sewing machine, you can make reusable paper towels following the same pattern as wipes or toilet paper- just make the squares bigger. You can measure the fabric using a regular paper towel or try measuring out 8-9 inch squares. Make a bunch and roll them around a cardboard tube or just flatten them out and store them with dish cloths or in the bathroom. They work well for spills, cleaning windows, dusting and nearly any other thing you use paper towels for. 

Sewing scraps that you’re unsure what to do with? Use cotton or terry cloth, sew together and stuff with a thicker material to make sponges. Unsponges are a great way to replace the normal sponges, make up sponges and use up excess fabric scraps you don’t want to throw away. I made this yesterday with some extra quilt batting and some fabric for my make up loving 4 year old

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You can purchase on Etsy if you don’t have a sewing machine or can’t sew. There are other websites that sell, but Etsy seems to have the largest selection of “unpaper towels” and “unsponges” that I have found.

 

Tips to Get Better Sleep

It’s a common theme- getting too little sleep. People joke about living on coffee and we are all familiar with the groggy feelings on first waking up, the 2:00 crash and other problems that come from getting bad sleep or lacking sleep.

If you have no medical problems like Sleep Apnea, insomnia or other disorders, you should get enough sleep to wake feeling refreshed despite lack of caffeine.

If you feel like no matter how much sleep you get is never enough and medical testing has ruled out any medical option, here are some tips on getting better- real sleep.

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  1. Set a sleep routine. Try to create the same routine every night before you go to bed. It could be as simple as reading for a little bit before you turn in or it could be something more detailed. Whatever you decide, make sure you stick with it so your body will notice that you do it, then you sleep.
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  2. Try to go to bed at the same time and wake at the same time. It isn’t always easy. If you work shift work, retail, food service or any other area that involves an unstable schedule, you may try to get in bed by 10 every night but have random 11PM, midnight or even overnight shifts tossed in.
    It has actually been found that shift work (different hours by the shift) is bad for employees’ health. In fact, there is a term for it “Shift Work Disorder” and it’s found to be linked to various medical conditions like obesity, heart disease and other related diseases.
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  3. Turn off your phone, TV, computer and other electronics an hour early. Do some gentle stretches, and unwind without electronic (blue light) interference. Same with bright, overhead lighting. Keep a gentle lamp turned on instead. Blue light from screens has been found to keep your brain awake and bright overhead lights also trick your brain into thinking it’s daylight instead of night. That’s good for morning but bad for bedtime.
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  4. Make some hot, decaffeinated tea- I personally use peppermint or earl grey. Pick a blend to help you relax and settle on your couch or bed with a good book.
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  5. Do some gentle stretches and read a good book right before bed.
  6. Make sure to have an easy to follow routine you can do nightly. The routine will start triggering your brain to know when it’s going to be time to wind down.
  7. Avoid caffeine after 12. A lot of people will go to 3, but I found it gives me insomnia unless I stop around noon.
  8. Avoid nicotine before bed.
  9. Avoid alcohol. It may make you “pass out” but it also has a bad affect on your REM sleep- which is the type of sleep you need to truly feel rested.
  10. Try to only take 30 minute “power” naps instead of long naps and don’t nap too late in the day.

There are many other things you can do, but these are the tips I found best help me get full nights of sleep.

Anyone have any other tips they follow?