After Ryan researched aquariums within a reasonable driving distance of Charlotte, the aquarium in Gatlinburg popped up again and again so we’re off to check it out. If you have any other recommendations for kid-friendly things we should check out while we’re in the area, please let me know. We won’t be in Tennessee for very long but we’re determined to make the most of our short stay!
And now before I go into crazy packing mode this morning, let’s take a minute to dive into my usual roundup of favorites from the week. It’s Things I’m Loving Friday tiiiiime!
I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day weekend and I hope to see ya back here next week!
Things I’m Loving Friday
I briefly mentioned how excited I was to try Plant Therapy’s Wellness Sampler KidSafe Essential Oils around the holidays when I first bought them for our family and my sister’s family but now that we’ve been using them for a few months, I wanted to report back and share just how much we’re loving them. A few years ago, I attended an informative session about the safety and efficacy of essential oils and I left the class a firm believer in the power of essential oils… but I also left feeling motivated to use high-quality oils and wanted to do my due-diligence before using and diffusing certain oils around the boys.
Plant Therapy oils are wonderful and while it’s possible to sift through information and find out what oils and blends are kid-safe, (this post highlights which oils should be avoided around children), their KidSafe line takes all the guesswork out of the equation and I love the three blends they’ve created in this Wellness Sampler: Germ Destroyer, Immune Boom and Sniffle Stopper. Chase was really into the oils the moment I began using them around him and loved helping me pick oils to add to our diffuser so much that I actually ended up getting him his own mini diffuser. He thinks it makes “clouds” for his toy airplanes to fly through!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… You guys provide the BEST recommendations and save me over and over again! When I mentioned Ryder’s tummy sleeping diaper leaking issues on the blog last week, more than a few of you chimed in to recommend Sposie booster pads. The pads are easy to insert into any diaper and we’ve been putting them in Ryder’s overnight diaper before bed and haven’t had a single leak since they arrived on our doorstep! Thanks so much for weighing in and recommending these pads to us. They’re the best!
We were on a big-time strawberry shortcake kick in our house this week! Growing up, my mom always made strawberry shortcake in a way that almost resembled drop biscuits rather than the spongy variety I often see. I’m sure nostalgia is to thank for my love of the biscuit-style shortcake, but to me there’s no contest! We dug into bowls of strawberry shortcake three times this week after I made a big batch on Monday night.
I used Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix as the base and simply added some sugar, whole milk and coconut oil until I had a sticky dough. (For the sake of transparency, I am partnering with Pamela’s in the near future but this shout out is not sponsored!) Once everything was baked and ready, we topped the shortcake with strawberries and coconut milk and it felt like summer in a bowl! I didn’t measure any of the ingredients or look up a recipe so I was kind of shocked at how well the shortcake turned out. The one major fail: We didn’t have any whipped cream on hand. Next time we will be ready!
Sweet Potato in Smoothies
This week I randomly decided to throw some leftover sweet potato into my smoothies and it blew me away!! Something about the flavor of the sweet potato gave my smoothies an almost pumpkin pie/carrot cake-like flavor and I was all about it!! My favorite combination included sweet potato, frozen banana, cashew butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, frozen cauliflower, coconut milk and spinach. Don’t knock it ’til ya try it!
Adding to the PBF Team
I am so, so, so ridiculously excited to tell you guys that I’ve added a few people to the PBF team! Before I share any more, I want to say that first and foremost, not a lot will change around here from a content standpoint because I will still be the only one writing and creating content, recipes, workouts, etc. I just felt like there were two areas of blogging where I could really use some help — photography and social media — and I realized I was driving myself crazy trying to do it all when all I want to do when I have time to work is write and create content for this blog. That’s where my heart is and that’s how PBF began back in the day before social media even existed!
Spending hours scheduling social media shares and photographing recipes takes me away from what I truly enjoy and in an effort to bring back some of the joy I find in blogging, I spoke with some blogging friends, all of whom outsource help for their blogs and encouraged me to do the same. I realized it was time for me to loosen the reins a bit and get help in the areas where I feel weak or where a lack of passion lies. When I mentioned this in my 7 month postpartum update, I was truly floored and overwhelmed by how many of you reached out to me wanting to help. THANK YOU to everyone who emailed me. I am so, so grateful for your readership and your interest and truly wish all of you could come on board!
I ended up hiring the incredibly talented Laura of the blog Sprinkles & Sea Salt to help with recipe photography. I will still be photographing a bunch of my own recipes, but I’m hoping to have Laura help me out when I need help and also re-photograph past recipes that look like death. And, after a couple of weeks of interviewing a handful of ridiculously talented and qualified people, I hired a talented and hardworking woman named Amber to help me with social media sharing and scheduling.
I just wanted to be upfront with you guys about adding to the PBF team because sometimes it seems like bloggers are out there killin’ it and doing everything on their own and so often that is NOT the case and there are a bunch of people behind the scenes helping them keep everything running smoothly. I’m hoping Laura and Amber will be two wonderful assets to the PBF team and am excited for you guys to “meet” them!
Favorite Toddler Muffin Recipes (If you’re looking for a fun green recipe to make for breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day, try the green smoothie muffins in this post! So easy to make and healthy, too!
Jump Rope + Resistance Band Upper Body Workout (This workout targets your upper body by focusing on your back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and chest and also incorporates bursts of jump rope for a cardio element that will get your heart rate up in between strength exercises.)
Question of the Day
Any Gatlinburg, Tennessee recommendations for me!?
What is one thing you’re looking forward to this weekend?
I’ve been diffusing germ destroyer all week! This stomach bug is no joke but I think we’re finally on the mend. All sheets are currently going through the sanitize cycle in the wash. Whew.
I’m loving the forecast and knowing it looks like I can wash all our heavy winter gear and pack it away. Love spending more time outside for sure! That’s probably all our recovery weekend will entail. Walks, wagon rides, and maybe even a playground trip 🙂
Rachel @ Never Enough Novels says
Exciting news about the new members of your team!! Those are my two least favorite blogging areas as well, so it’s wonderful that you’ve found great people to help!
Ya’ll HAVE to go to the Donut Friar located in The Village Shops in Gatlinburg. You’ll love it!! (FYI They only accept cash) Have a fun trip!
Y’all HAVE to go to The Donut Friar located in The Village Shops in Gatlinburg. My husband and I go every time we’re there. You’ll love it!! (FYI they only accept cash) Have a great trip!
Sounds right up our alley!!! Thanks for the recommendation!
Reporting back because I just checked it out and it’s a 5 min walk from our hotel!! Excited for some doughnuts tomorrow morning!!
How exciting!! Now you’re making me want to go back asap! I always get the coconut donut. Enjoy!
Check out Ole Smokey Candy Kitchen – there are 2 locations in Gatlinburg. My husband insists that we pick up 2 boxes of the Milk Chocolate Brown Bears (basically turtles) each time we visit Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg.
yes please!!! sounds so tasty!
I was in Pigeon Forge for work a few years ago, where we opened a new Hard Rock Cafe (My agency does PR for them). I wanted to go to Dollywood so bad! But we didn’t have time. I know there’s a water park/amusement park there – but I don’t have kids, so unsure if it’s for older kids or if there’s a more toddler-friendly area? Have fun!!! The Smoky Mountains area is really pretty, my brother used to live near there!
Thanks for the warm welcome, Julie! Happy to be part of the PBF team 🙂
At the Gatlinburg entrance to the National Park, there’s a Sugarlands visitor center. It’s awesome in itself, with an easy nature trail behind it (1 of them is paved so stroller friendly!), but sometimes, you can catch a Park Ranger led kid activity behind it that my little ones LOVED!
If you get to Pigeon Forge, I recommend the Dixie Stampede. It’s a dinner show with horses & animals. The food is yummy & the show is a lot of fun! Chase might get a kick out of it.
one of my friends here recommended that as well!! i think he’d loooove it but i’m a little worried about sitting in one place for too long with a wiggly 8 month old. do you know about how long the show lasts?
I think around 2 hours. We had a blast but I totally understand it may be too long. There are horses, chickens, races, comedy, it’s fun! Dollywood as someone else recommended is also so much fun! Thereare tons of things to do, I’m sure you guys will have a great time, no matter what!
Hi Julie! Long time reader here. I was so excited to read this morning that you are going to Gatlinburg! We took our 4 year old son last year in April when I was pregnant with our daughter. It was his big trip with just mommy and daddy before the baby came. Truly one our most memorable trips as a family. There is so much to do there! We avoided a lot of the tourist areas and enjoyed exploring the mountains and hiking areas. There are so many great hiking trails and we had such an amazing time just driving around the mountains, and stopping at look out spots. You have to go to the Donut Friar in The Village Shops in downtown Gatlinburg. Such a cute little cafe with amazing donuts! We also spent half a day at Dollywood. It has lots of great rides for the little ones and extremely affordable compared to Disney. Enjoy your time in the smoky mountains. I can’t wait to hear about it!!
so happy you had such a good experience!!! your comment just made me all the more excited!
You should do the Dixie Stampede! So much fun.
Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona says
That’s so exciting that you’re adding to the Peanut Butter Fingers team! I hope you have fun at the aquarium this weekend.
thank you, fiona!! <3
Congrats on the growth of the blog, Julie!
If you’re out of whipped cream again but have a spare can of coconut milk, it can be made into coconut whipped cream. You just whip the fat for a few minutes, leaving the liquid for use in another dish, and add vanilla and a touch of sugar if you want it. You may already know this – I can’t remember if you’ve talked about doing it before – but I figured I’d share in case not. 🙂
yes1!! it’s so, so good!!!
It’s loosen the “reins”, like on a horse. Not like a reigning king. Perhaps hiring an editor would be a good move as well.
oops! just updated the post. thank, margot!
What a nice and classy reply to an unnecessary comment! You are amazing!
Kelsie Jorgeson says
The Gatlinburg Aquarium is pretty good! Lots of playground equipment, too, for Chase to run around.
Eat at the Apple Barn restaurant in Sevierville (just up the road from Gatlinburg). Eat apple fritters. You will not be disappointed.
The easiest hike to a waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is to Laurel Falls. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s short and right near the entrance.
thank you, anne!!!
Glenneth Reed says
Your kids will love the Aquarium – its fantastic. Definitely recommend the Donut Friar as the others have said. Pancake Pantry for breakfast is always amazing but there could be lines. Arcadia (which is located at the base of the Space Needle) has tons of arcade games for all ages. Calhouns / Smoky Mountain Brewery /. Cherokee Grill are all locally owned restaurants by the same company. With kids I would recommend Calhouns. They have the most amazing pulled pork and BBQ sauce. Hope you enjoy your trip!
pulled pork is calling to me right now!! thank you!
Torrie @ To Love and To Learn says
Well my mind was just blown–diaper booster pads? GENIUS! Going to check that out right…NOW.
ME TOO!!! i had no idea they even existed until a ton of blog readers started raving about them!
I love strawberry shortcake made with the Jiffy mix! I normally only make it around May/June when strawberries are in season and much less expensive to buy.
The aquarium in Gatlinburg is really amazing. It’s so weird to find such a great aquarium in Tennessee, but there you go. We were there about 10 years ago when we were hiking in the Smokies. There was a really great BBQ ribs place – their sauce was incredible – but now it’s been so long that I can’t remember the name of the place!
Something to watch out for: when we were there, Gatlinburg was extremely touristy. For some reason, they have a lot of shops selling swords and nunchuks and martial arts weapons. I have no idea why. But be prepared, because I can imagine your Chase wanting one for himself! That may not be top on YOUR list.
Ha!!! Cleary you know what appeals to a 3yo! That would definitely be right up his alley — he’s all about ninja stuff right now!
Excited for you and your new team! I just checked out Laura’s website and she has a dog that looks a lot like Sadie, how funny and cute! Have a great time in Tennessee – unfortunately I don’t have any recommendations since I haven’t been to Gatlinburg, but I’ve heard great things about it.
Ashley @ A Lady Goes West says
Hi Julie! No Gatlinburg recs for you, but I hope you have fun. And I think it’s an AMAZING idea to add to your team so you have more time to do the things you like — props to you for pulling the trigger, lady! 🙂
Congrats on adding to your team! Darren Hardy calls it focusing on your “vital functions” and encourages business owners of any size (from solopreneurs like me to CEOs of big corporations and everywhere in between) to put their time into the work they do that “makes it rain” — the heart behind the business they lead. For me and my business, that’s writing. But my client projects often need market research and copyediting, so I source freelancer friends who LOVE to do that when needed. That way I get to do what I got into my business to do–write! Totally get it, and good for you.
We love Gatlinburg check out Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail. It’s amazing. Also, New Orleans Sandwich company has the best roast beef sandwich and sweet potato fries!! I hope you have the best time can’t wait to read all about it.
My mom makes strawberry shortcakes the same way – they’re the best!
We love the aquarium in Gatlinburg! There are so many things to do in that area. I don’t know if it’s been mentioned yet- but we always enjoy Cades Cove. You can drive the loop, and there are different sites that you can get out and explore/hike!
I’m not sure how far you are from Chatanooga, but there is an awesome aquarium there as well!!
I just opened up my Southern Living email and saw this article! I would definitely pass on this one ?
Would you mind sharing which diffuser you use?
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
Wow I need to try those diaper booster pads I’ve never heard of them! I’ve been having the same night time leak issues with my daughter! Thanks for the recommendation…and congrats to adding to your team!
There is also a donut AND ice cream place called Mad Dog’s Creamery that is worth a stop https://www.maddogscreamery.com
A bit off the beaten path over in sevierville there is a wonderful petting zoo called Smoky Mountain Deer Park.
If you do go up to do Roaring Fork Motorway, stop at the Ogle Place. There is a really fun ~1 mile hike that is very 3 yr old friendly that takes you past a historic homestead and back into the woods, over streams and to an old mill before looping back around.
Pam Cook says
I grew up going to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge! There are so many fun things to do. It is very touristy but so worth it! You will love the aquarium, we have been several times. Our favorite restaurant is Smoky Mountain Brewery, hands down best wings ever. Chase would probably have a blast playing putt putt, there are plenty to choose. Just walking through streets and going into all the shops is so fun. Dollywood is also amazing, definitely worth season passes! Have fun!