Back from the land of cool nights and sunny days….
June 14, 2011

Welcome to Cashiers, baby!!

I’ve just returned from a little slice of heaven…..for those of you who have never been to the mountains of North Carolina…a little south-west of Asheville…around Highlands and Cashiers, you must go one day. Beautiful mountains, incredible views, cascading waterfalls, cool crisp nights, and sunny warm days. Seriously…it is an amazing area. Love it!!

Hello outdoor fireplace..my new obsession....

We rented BIG house in Highlands, big… because my sisters and their husbands came up from Alabama, and my kids came down from Baltimore and New York….VRBO, of course…..you know that’s how I roll.  And while there are many lovely homes for rent, the thing that really sold me on this one was the outdoor fireplace you see above. We fired that baby up almost every evening on the porch….heavenly, when it was 100 degrees back home. And we ate most of our dinners gathered around  the big porch dining table you can see in the background. Lots of wine, lots of laughs.

The great room....lots of seating room...

Pretty views everywhere you went…..from winding drives (kinda scary at first) to golf clubs with views. Our house was inside the Old Edwards Golf Club….and while I’m not a golfer…my son and the lovely Jennifer played the course, which you can see below.

Yeah... I know....how lovely is that??

The views there were drop dead gorgeous  ….and the club has a gps system so if you need something to eat or drink….just let them know, and they’ll bring it to you on the course. Two beers and two club sandwiches please! They thought it was one of the prettiest courses they’d ever seen, and they’ve seen many, all over the world.

Easy to see why they're called the Smokies!

Some of the cutest consignment and decorating shops I’ve ever traipsed through…my sister went home with a darling lime green wicker table, and my other sister, a wonderful painting of raccoons peeking through a window.

Love this little arbor!!

Wow....old school....but no gas to be had.

And I re-visited High Hampton Inn and Golf Club-check it out here….a place we covered on Great Country Inns years ago…I have to say it is prettier than ever…modern improvements but kept the charm….seriously, a wonderful place for a family vacation.

High Hampton's dining room.....charming...

Things for the kids to do all day….great food…the prettiest dining room, where you’re assigned a table that is yours for your stay, men wear coats and ties at dinner….and you dig into some delish food. Mountain living at its finest.

View from High Hampton tavern....wow...

More on the food we cooked (and we made some great meals)….and a special cake surgery my sister and I accomplished….the redo of a cake that needed some help…in a couple of days. Glad to be back(kinda)!

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Back from vacation!!
June 28, 2010

Strange bar we went to in NOLA.....

I have a lot to share with you…which I will dutifully do this week…but today is a busy day..hundreds of emails to sort through and eventually trash. And all the stuff that had been under my desk I came to find piled on TOP of my desk….I am surmising a thorough vaccuming was going on, or it’s a not so subtle sign to get rid of this stuff, which I did. I must admit, it does look better.

Let’s see, I hopped around a  bit on this holiday…two days in New Orleans, two days in Biloxi(for a wedding) and a week at my family’s place on  Smith Lake north of Birmingham, with my sisters and their husbands, though my baby sister left a couple of days in for a trip to Africa to see her son who’s on a mission trip there. And it was very interesting seeing a little of what’s going on at the Gulf Coast. I read just this morning, oil has washed up at in Mississippi in Ocean Springs, a darling little town right next door to Biloxi. Not happy news.

Fresh shucked oysters....a NOLA tradition....

But in New Orleans, I didn’t find people obsessed with the situation…sure they talk about it and worry about what it will mean, but life rolls on in the Big Easy…they’ve already seen a lot of suffering after Katrina, and while there were signs in a few restaurants that they weren’t serving Gulf seafood(makes some people nervous I guess)…..we went to an oyster bar in the quarter for some fabulous oysters on the half shell. I asked the bartender where they were getting their oysters these days. He said, “Oh, they’re still from Louisiana, so far…some of the beds are closed, but some are still open. We have to go a little farther sometimes, to Mississippi or Texas, but we can still get  ’em.” I don’t know how long that will last, but I enjoyed them while I could…Gulf oysters are  fabulously salty bivalves.

And the food there….if you’ve been to New Orleans you know of what I speak…it’s just amazing , though I didn’t have dinner in the Quarter, believe it or not. Tomorrow we’ll take a little food trip to NOLA….Ok?  It’s good to be home.

Back from Chucktown….re-entry day….
April 26, 2010

Dinner on the Porch, Charleston style...

Yes, we arrived fresh from a warm and altogether fabulous week  in Charleston…to a rainy and chilly welcome home in Baltimore….not the greeting I was hoping for, but perhaps apropos of saying goodbye to vaca. I always call today….your first day back at work…re-entry, as in re-entry to real life. It can be a little tough, I won’t lie to you, and a little sad. Laundry that needs to be done, grocery shopping list waiting, an email box at work that I still haven’t finished clearing out…you know the drill.

But, it was a wonderful week in Charleston…which I noticed the NY Times touted this past Sunday as a great place to go in April and May. Well, duh, and I’d add March to the list. Spring there is splendid…not humid or hot, just sunny and so, so pretty. The house we stayed in this year was dubbed by the lovely Jennifer, as…”our rock star pad“.   And I can’t disagree. You can check it out on VRBO right here.  The picture above was taken one night before dinner, out on the porch overlooking the Isle of Palms marsh. While we ate dinner out several nights, we found we were happiest cooking and eating at home….so relaxed, and such a gorgeous view. We cooked shrimp and grits(of course), had delish carry out pork carnitas from Caviar and Bananas(a Dean and Deluca like food emporium), made shrimp risotto another night….the local shrimp are so good. And we loved just hanging out….we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like.

view from loft bedroom window seat...

Hey, who would not be happy here? And you know I’m a VRBO girl all the way, when it comes to family travel. To have an actual house to stay in…where everyone has their own bedroom and bath, but we have a communal gathering space for tv, or games or dinner…is perfect. And we love to cook on holiday. And this house had a great kitchen in which to prepare meals, and had the most wonderful selection of pots and pans, utensils and dishes…seriously, it had everything. And nice stuff too.

boardwalk over the marsh leads to the beach!

Great  living room with comfy seating for all five of us, a huge projection screen tv that came down from the ceiling, glass all around, porches with dinner seating and getaway spots for reading, beautiful bedrooms with pretty views….it had it all. It was designed by Peter Bohlin, who is (evidently) a famous architect who designed part of the Bill Gates house. Pete…good job.  Best vacation house ever.

It’s vaca time!!!!!!!!
April 19, 2010

Yes, dear readers….I will be off from work this week, yes all this week…..I’ll miss you too. But know that I’m relaxing and practicing on posting some video blogs….oh so 2010 of me…when I return to this space next week. I’ll tell you all about what I’ve been doing and seeing and thinking…even my most appalling thoughts. All spilled for your consumption. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a bowl of granola and greek yogurt and blueberries and chillin’. Peace out y’all….see you in a week!

Update on my ticker…and more…
September 4, 2009

This is how my heart looks on echocardiogram....

This is how my heart looks on echocardiogram....

OK, yesterday I had a day fullof doctor’s appointments….and I had my first echocardiogram…which if you don’t know, and I didn’t…is a sonogram of the heart. I was lying on the table, with the technician scanning my little ticker, and I wanted to get up and get my camera for a picture to show you how great it looked, but it seemed really rude to do that , so I drew you a picture instead(not really..a kid drew it..I’m not that talented). But you know what a sonogram of a fetus looks like right? The same, only it doesn’t have a face or arms and legs….and it’s beating!!

So I beat feet over to my cardiologist after it was over(good Lord, I hate writing I have a cardiologist…but there it is)…he looked at all my test results….”Blood tests for thyroid…normal. Echo…normal.  Blood pressure…normal.” He slaps the file shut and exclaims gleefully,  “I win!” By that he means he was correct that there was no underlying problem, just as he smugly predicted…I JUST NEEDED TO GIVE UP CAFFEINE. And I have.  There have no rapid heartbeats since I did that, a week ago. So, I guess the proof is in the pudding…no more “real” coffee for me…a small price to pay really. And my headache is finally gone. 

And now the bad news…calm yourselves…I am recharging the batteries people…you probably won’t hear from me for about a week and a half. But know that I am relaxing, maybe drinking a margarita every now and again, and just chilling. Deep cleansing breath everyone……say it with me…..aahhhhhoooooommmmmm. Have a lovely weekend…be good, play nice with others, do something sweet for someone that you don’t have to do(make some brownies)….and come home safe. Peace out!