Saturday, October 25, 2014

Highlights From #NQC2014 Part 1

There's just no way to put into words the entire week of NQC. It's impossible. So much is going on, and so much happens throughout the week that you really can not keep a log of it all! So, I decided to just do a few posts and share personal highlights from the week.

To start off, this was the first year we attended a chapel service at NQC. In fact, we attended two! Chapel service is held at the Music Road Inn and Convention Center, and it's pretty early in the morning when you consider what time you actually went to bed the night before! We were able to make it on Tuesday morning and Thursday morning, with Greater Vision and the Hoppers, respectively. These are smaller and more informal concert settings, so it's a little special. And when you make the effort to get up early, catch a trolley and get to the convention center, you make sure you're in the spirit to receive a blessing from the service!

One of the other highlights early in the week for me was on Wednesday evening, getting to see the Perry's. Now, I've seen this group many times in the past, but in January of 2013, Tracy Stuffle (bass singer and husband of alto Libbi Stuffle) suffered a stroke. Recovery has been long and hard, so it was incredible to see this group-including Tracy-up on main stage at NQC! And the best part was seeing and hearing Tracy sing! 

The Perrys

Tribute Quartet, one of our favorites!

Thursday held another first for us; the Singing News Fan Awards. For the past few years these have been held at Dollywood, and prior to that, were always towards the weekend of NQC, and we always left midweek. Needless to say, we were excited about this! This year the presenters were all siblings-brother/sister, brothers and sisters. For example, Chris and Suzanne Taylor, Michael and Ronnie Booth, Madison and Morgan get the idea. The award ceremony started out with a surprise-a choir of 12, getting everyone excited and ready to go! Yes, M caught Riley Clark (Tribute) and David Sutton and Clayton Inman (Triumphant) for pictures beforehand. It's not everyday you see these guys in robes!

Part of the choir
All the 2014 fan award winners were well-deserving, but I have to give a special shout-out to our favorites-our good friends of Triumphant Quartet! They received the Favorite Traditional Quartet Award, as well as Favorite Bass Singer (Eric Bennett)! This is something like the 6th year running they've received these awards, and I am thrilled that others recognize the talent of Triumphant Quartet! I'll share a list of all the winners below the pictures.

Eric Bennett accepting his award for Favorite Bass
Michael Booth (of the Booth Brothers), who won Favorite Tenor
David Sutton of Triumphant, as the guys receive the Favorite Quartet award

  • And the winner for Favorite Musician is Kim Collingsworth
  • And the winner for Favorite Young Artist is Amber Thompson
  • And the winner for Favorite Soloist is Ivan Parker
  • And the winner for Favorite Small Market Radio DJ is John Whisnant
  • And the winner for Favorite Medium Market Radio DJ is Lottie Squires
  • And the winner for Favorite Large Market Radio DJ is Daniel Britt
  • And the winner for Favorite New Soloist is Joseph Habedank
  • And the winner for Favorite New Traditional Quartet is Canton Junction
  • And the winner for Favorite Male Singer is Ronnie Booth
  • And the winner for Favorite Southern Gospel Band is The Kingdom Heirs Band
  • And the winner for Favorite Lead Singer is Ronnie Booth
  • And the winner for Favorite Tenor Singer is Michael Booth
  • And the winner for Favorite Non-Performing Songwriter is Dianne Wilkinson
  • And the winner for Favorite Baritone Singer is Jim Brady
  • And the winner for Favorite New Trio is The Hyssongs
  • And the winner for Favorite Bass Singer is Eric Bennett
  • And the winner for Favorite New Mixed Group is The Mylon Hayes Family
  • And the winner for Favorite Soprano Singer is Kim Hopper
  • And the winner for Favorite Mixed Group is The Collingsworth Family
  • And the winner for Favorite Trio is The Booth Brothers
  • And the winner for Favorite Alto Singer is Libbi Stuffle
  • And the winner for Favorite Female Singer is Kim Hopper
  • And the winner for Favorite Songwriter is Rodney Griffin
  • And the winner for Favorite Traditional Quartet is Triumphant Quartet
  • And the winner for Favorite Album is For All He's Done- Greater Vision
  • And the winner for Favorite Song is Preacher Tell Me Like It Is- Greater Vision
  • And the winner for Favorite Artist is The Booth Brothers

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shake The Crave and Lose Weight!

It seems that most people in the US nowadays are looking to lose weight. Whether it's just a few pounds, or someone wanting a completely new shape and size, losing weight has become one of the biggest "fads" in our country. It's important to not just run out and but whatever promises to help you drop those pounds. Instead, take time to research and make sure you're getting a trustworthy product-like those from Trusted Health Products! That's right, the makers of Beautiful Skin Care also have a line of products for weight loss!

I received 2 samples of Shake The Crave; one chocolate, and one vanilla. Obviously this isn't enough to make a noticeable difference in weight, but I was able to try both flavors so I could let you all know how it tastes. Because no matter how healthy or good something might be, it's hard to stick with it if the flavor is off!

I am a chocolate fan, so I ended up trying that first. You actually use blender and combine the powder with 8 ounces of milk. This can be anything from skim to whole, almond, coconut...basically whatever milk base you'd like. Blend on low for 30 seconds, then high for 5 seconds. Let intreats for 60seconds, blend again for 5, and rest again for 60 seconds. Then you're ready to go!

The chocolate Shake the Crave shakes have a very rich, full chocolate flavor. The shake is very smooth, and I imagine it would be easy to down one of these twice a day as recommended! Especially when you can trade out with vanilla, which also has a very real flavor. Not the fake,"diet" tasting kind, but a nice, bright vanilla flavor. 

Benefits and Features of Shake the Crave:

  • Thick and creamy – tastes like an old-fashioned, hand-dipped milk shake from a small-town creamery.
  • Experience a “new normal” in the way you feel.
  • Feel more satisfied and full longer.
  • Boost energy levels and feeling of well-being.
  • Great to drink at breakfast or lunchtime, as a healthy snack or quick meal on the go.
  • 100% pure ingredients.
  • One bottle has 15 delicious servings – about one week’s supply at two shakes per day.
  • Contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, preservatives, or isolated/synthetic vitamins.
  • No gluten, soy, egg, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, fillers or binders.
  • Available exclusively from Trusted Health Products.
  • Good source of protein.
  • Good source of calcium.
  • Low fat – only 0.5 grams.
  • Low sodium
  • 120 Calories

You can learn more or purchase Shake The Crave online today!

Ripley's Gatlinburg Attractions!! #FamilyFunAtRipleys

I shared a couple weeks ago about our visit to the Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg, so now as promised, here are my thoughts on some of the other Ripley's attractions we also visited.

After leaving the aquarium, we walked down a few blocks to the Moving Theater 5D. The price of a ticket includes two shows; we were able to see the Fun House and Winter Wipeout. Think a 3D theater with a couple extras-like seats that move, shake, bump and dip! Yeah, we're talking some serious fun for kids and adults! Pictures aren't allowed during the shows obviously, so be sure to watch the video on the Ripley's website. This was a lot of fun, and I appreciated that they have a row of seats that don't move. Perfect for anyone with a disability or motion sickness, or that parent who just doesn't want to enjoy the full experience! :)

Our next stop was the Mirror Maze. This was M's idea, but we all enjoyed it! The maze only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete, but your ticket allows all-day access if you want to come back for another round or two. 

The last stop we made in Gatlinburg was at the Davy Crockett Mini Golf. We have not played miniature golf in years, and this was a wonderful course to "get in the game" again. Although it has spoiled us, because there are NO mini golf courses anywhere near this elaborate and fun near our home! 

As you can imagine, the course is themed around Davy Crockett and the "frontier". We tried the harder course (there are 2 courses here, with one being slightly easier than the other) and actually did pretty good for not having played in so long! We even had a couple hole-in-ones on our golf trip!

We didn't make it back down to Gatlinburg during the rest of our stay, but we did head to Sevierville right up the road, which is home to the Ripley's Old MacDonald's Farm Mini Golf! We were a little bored and looking for something to do Sunday night, and when we found out the course was open till 11:00 pm, we jumped in the car! This Mini Golf actually has three courses, and again we took the hardest. A couple more hole-in-ones here as well, and an hour or more of just plain family fun! After finishing up at the course, we headed inside the arcade area for some games of two-on-two air hockey.

Honestly our time at the various Ripley's attractions are some of our favorite memories from vacation in Pigeon Forge. The aquarium, late-night golf run, mirror maze, and the moving theater...we enjoyed every minute of them all! If you're ever in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, be sure to check out the Ripley's attractions. The whole family will enjoy it!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Family Fun At Dollywood!

 Our family loves theme parks. Some of us enjoy the roller coasters, while others prefer just strolling around, taking in the sights, and maybe hopping on a few of the slower-paced rides. I have never before been to an amusement park that caters to both types of people as well or as much as Dollywood!

We were able to visit Dollywood on the last day of our vacation in Pigeon Forge. It was great to find out that we would be there during the Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration, specifically on a day that our good friends, the Triumphant Quartet, would be singing there! 
Q-Bot held my place in line at the theatre while we were out riding the rides!
Upon arrival at the park we decided to try a few of the family rides before heading off to the coasters. These rides included the Rockin' Roadway, Smoky Mountain River Rampage, Sky Rider, and the Scrambler. The Rampage was a hit with everyone, but especially M-she begged to stay on for a second ride, which we did. Of course, that time we ended up getting soaked, so we blamed her the rest of the day! :)

Next up was a visit to the Pines Theatre for a 40-minute concert with Triumphant. We love hearing these guys sing, and it was so neat to be able to take in a concert while spending a day at a theme park-I don't know of any other park that holds Gospel concerts, except for Silver Dollar City, Dollywood's sister park in Branson. 

By the time the concert ended everyone was hungry, so we opted for Red's Drive-In, right across the way. Dining options are literally limitless at Dollywood; everything from southern cooking buffets to bbq, pizza, and "fast food". We didn't want to waste much time on the eating, so we chose something quick. Cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and chili cheese fries, and they were great! 

Love the decor in Red's!
We wanted to take a few minutes for lunch to digest, so we wandered through some of the shops. Dollywood has a wonderful assortment of stores, including an old-fashioned General Store, personalized crafts, a leather shop, and much more. We ended up purchasing souvenir matching leather bracelets, which include free personalization.

After giving lunch some time to settle, it was off to the roller coasters. We wanted to ride each one at least once, and we were successful in this mission! Our first stop was the Tennessee Tornado, and this was M's first ride on an upside down coaster! A couple of us actually rode it twice; M asked me to make sure she wouldn't be too scared if she rode it. She loved it; between the 128-foot drop, and the 70 mph speed, it's a thrill ride you're sure to enjoy!

I was excited about riding the Wild Eagle; I've heard a lot about this one, and it certainly lived up to the hype! A wing coaster that feels like you are actually flying! The seats are on either side of the track, so there is literally nothing below your feet except air! I wanted to ride Wild Eagle a couple more times, but unfortunately they shut it down due to hornets on the track. :( Oh well, next year I'll make sure to get to this one early! Watch the video below to see just how great this coaster is.

The FireChaser Express was up next; America's first dual-launch coaster! That's right, you start out being launched forwards, and then you come to the end of the line...or so you think, just before you're launched backwards!

The Mystery Mine is one that thrill-riders will love. The first part of the ride seems fairly mild, but there are a few wild surprises, including a 95-degree, 85-foot vertical drop-into pitch black darkness!

Thunderhead was my second favorite of the roller coasters, right after Wild Eagle. This is a wood coaster with a hundred foot drop, as well as many nice, tight turns. I love wood coasters, and Thunderhead is a good example of why!

On our way out of Dollywood that evening, we stopped by The Grist Mill, on a friend's recommendation. This is one of the many unique shops you'll find at Dollywood, but their specialty is cinnamon bread. You can smell the bread before you even step inside the door, and it tastes every bit as wonderful as it smells! If you're ever at Dollywood, make sure to stop by The Grist Mill for some incredible bread!

The last stop we were hoping to make on our visit was to the SGMA Hall of Fame and Museum, which sits near the entrance of the park. Unfortunately, by the time we made it up there the museum had already closed. But, we'll be back next year, and we'll make it a priority to stop by.

All in all, we had a wonderful day at Dollywood. Thrilling roller coasters, fun family rides, good food, and a couple of concerts with Triumphant Quartet-you can't beat a day like that!