Family · Travel

The detour taken

I am truly my father’s daughter.  I realized that today as I took an unplanned detour on the way home. It was so like my Dad.

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It was a frequent weekend occurrence to end up in our Ford Ltd. station wagon exploring some back road in North Carolina.  Dad always had a destination in mind. Sometimes he would share other times we would find out when we arrived at the destination.  We might end up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or an old family graveyard, or a country store reputed to have the best sugar-cured ham around.  Barbecue was another favorite destination.  It was an adventure.  It broke the routine.  It took us to the new and different.

Life is so busy these days.  It seems like every minute is planned and then there is the pull, just take that exit, see what is around the bend in the road . . . .  My inner adventure voice whispers to me, see what is around the corner that you don’t anticipate!  Explore that destination you saw in Southern Living or heard about last weekend.

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So today as I made my way home, I took that exit.  I silenced my inner voice that was listing everything that waited for me at home.  For two years I’d heard about this wonderful nursery/market somewhere near Orange.  I decided to find it.  The detour took me through beautiful rolling hills around Charlottesville with exquisite views of the Blue Ridge mountains.  I eventually found my destination with a bit of help from my gps and Iphone.   All told, it was an hour out of my life and worth every second.  I found myself thinking about fun stuff and not my to do list.  I enjoyed the scenery colorful and beautiful with the changing leaves. I found a whole new town with amazing antique stores.  I will be back there to explore  another day.

I made it to my destination and found this wonderful space tagged as a Virginia treasure.  There I found inspiration for fall decorating with pumpkins and gourds as well as the most wonderful lunch restaurant.  I opted for cider since I was driving but there was a wine option as well.

I tapped into my father’s wanderlust and sense of adventure.  There was something so fun about the journey, the detour and even more satisfying that it was a journey taken.  It was a break and restoration.  I tapped into a different part of me that needed to wake up from the nap it was taking.  Somehow I feel like I’m better for my detour, that I rejuvenated a part of me.

entertaining · Family · Gift Giving · Home

The Perfect Gift

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This post is credited to my sister from another mother also known as my cousin who is inspired as well as this amazing, cool, wonderful, person.

This past weekend I  enjoyed a long overdue girls weekend with my cousin.  We both have fall birthdays and decided it was time to catch up, lounge around, and play some tennis.  She arrived at my house with  a lovely birthday gift.  As she explained “her madness” behind the gift, I started smiling.  Per her usual brilliance, she hit this one out of the park.

My gift was a basket of her favorite things.  Absolutely brilliant!  She was sharing something of herself with me.  That alone brought this huge smile to my face.  She lives too far away and we keep up via text and phone and visits but this basket brought things into my everyday life that I will use after she’s gone home.  She is leaving something of herself behind and every time I pick up  something from the basket I’ll think of her and feel her with me.

I always struggle with gift giving.  I spend hours thinking of what that perfect gift is.  Cous knocked it out of the park making the answer to that question so simple.  Give something of yourself!  What a wonderful life lesson.

So the next time you need to find that special birthday, hostess, Christmas, house-warming or other gift, ask yourself – what are my favorite things?

So what was in the basket?  First, the basket itself is simply beautiful.  I’m filling it with reading material and it will sit beside my favorite chair.  Cousin’s favorite candle with the scent of dessert.  Books on Charleston!  Our common ancestors are from the Holy City and we’ve spent much time visiting there over the years.  The beach, the market, the food and fun.  What a wonderful addition and it will fit in with my reading basket.  Lotion and material for my pamper Sundays and last but not least, the purse light she knew I coveted!

P.S.  Everyone who has a tote or hobo bag should have one of the purse lights.  They are amazing and you can find stuff that otherwise hides from you in your bag.

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Family · Home · Travel

The Quadruped

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Are you a cat or a dog person?  I’m a dog gal.  No offense intended to cat lovers but I’m violently allergic to the little darlings so dogs are for me!

My first pet was a gift for my fifth birthday.  He was supposed to arrive in November but finally arrived in January, in the middle of a snow storm.  He was appropriately named Snowball.  I cherished Snowball.  He was the perfect companion and, upon returning home after my first semester of college, I was devastated  to learn Snowball was gone to Doggie Heaven.

For the first time in my memory, we were dogless. Even my Dad’s hunting dogs had gone to that great Dove field in the sky.  Fast forward to my second year of law school, another birthday, and Dad arrived bearing this wonderful, wiggling gift of a black and tan dachshund.  It was love at first sight.  Tippy saw me through the remainder of law school, the bar exam, and my first years of practice.  He was my constant companion.

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My current quadruped is Kenan.  She is a beautiful, miniature dachshund of the English cream, long-haired variety.  She loves a good cuddle and believes herself to be three times her actual size.  In otherwords, she is a typical dachshund.  A constant companion, she possesses the tenacity of the breed and with surgical skill immediately removes any squeaker from a toy.  She is a toy hound and is frequently found with the carcass of what was once a stuffed toy in her mouth.

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Did I mention that she is a frequent traveling companion?  She is an excellent flyer.  Never a peep from her while on Delta.  She enjoys a ride in her stroller around the market in Charleston or a walk in White Point Gardens near the Battery.  Even better is a run down the beach or playing tag with the waves, an evening walk around the neighborhood, or a Sunday hike.   She is a blessing in every sense of the word.

 

As for me, what is better than the joy of being loved by such a wonderful quadruped!

 

entertaining · Family · Home

Do you binge watch?

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So I will admit that I am a binge watcher.  It seems like my nights are crazy and I always miss whatever popular show is on that night or I’m too tired to enjoy what is on or I’m multi-tasking which means I’m really not enjoying or paying attention to what is on the tube.  I think I just confessed that multi-tasking is a bad idea.  So given that I fail at multi-tasking or miss the best part  because I’m falling asleep, I’ve come up with my own coping mechanism.  You will be familiar with it as I confess that it is not original – I DVR and Netflix.  Yeah for lack of originality, but if a solution works, it works and these days I’ll take all the help I can get.

My DVR and Netflix lists probably need some updating.  Right now lists are programmed to include:

  1. Blue Bloods;
  2. Madam Secretary;
  3. Masterpiece theater;
  4. Miss Fisher mysteries; and
  5. Perry Mason, I know it is ancient but I have fond memories of watching re-runs of it with my Mom.

My list is not long and doubtlessly needs something fresh.  I’m thinking the new PBS movie on Vietnam is up for addition but what else?  Suggestions are welcome!  What is on your Netflix list?

Decorating · Family · Home · interior design

A change of seasons

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Yesterday I looked down at my calendar and saw the notation, “first day of autumn”.  It’s been cool here in Virginia, somewhat unusually so for the beginning of September, but it also cues a sense of anticipation, of something new to come.  I love the fall, but then again, I love winter, spring, and summer.  The change of the seasons feels like a right of passage.

I enjoy fall for its crisp cool nights, change of leaves, the fall fruits and veggies like the squash and apples I find at the farmer’s market.  What is more fun than a corn maze, mums on the front porch, or  a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the height of leaf color?  As the days grow shorter and the weather cooler there is a sense of an ending as is appropriate for fall and the approach of winter.  The anticipation of spring will soon follow and start the cycle over again.

Growing up I heard stories of my grandmother changing the curtains and rugs for summer and then back again at the start of fall.  Something of that rubbed off for me.  I tend to “decorate” for Easter, fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and, of course, Christmas.  Nothing as elaborate as Christmas, but seasonal centerpieces for each holiday.  So, this week I pulled out my velvet pumpkins for the dining room table.  The geraniums I’d lovingly planted in containers on the front porch at the beginning of spring were on their last leg.  It was time to freshen up the front door with mums for fall.

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As I write this, I’m also making my “must do” list for the fall.

 

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  1. Gather a group of friends and fin a corn maze to explore.
  2. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and remember to bring my camera.
  3. Take 29 from Charlottesville to Lynchburg for a drive for leaves and fresh apples.
  4. Find a pumpkin patch and bring home fun pumpkins.
  5. Pull out my ceramic jack o’ lanterns for the front porch.
  6. Plan a movie night for all my favorite scares movies, calling John Carpenter!
  7. Football and tailgate Saturday, bonus points if I can arrange it for Kenan stadium.
  8. Cook up a pot of Brunswick stew.
  9. Change out my closet for warm clothes.

What is on your must do list for the fall?

entertaining · Family · Food

Taco Soup

I’m a soup girl.  There is nothing I enjoy more for dinner after a hard day at work than a bowl of homemade soup.  I enjoy cooking and I find it is better for me generally than fast food. I’ve also received a push in that direction from my doctor who encourages me to avoid the center of the grocery store and opt for fresh foods on the exterior of the market.  Of course if I want homemade soup, this means I have to make the soup to have it for dinner.  I have a number of “go to” recipes for soup and in the fall and winter, I tend to make a large pot of something on Sunday, sometimes Saturday, to have for the week ahead or to stock the freezer.

IMG_8926One of my “go to” soups is taco soup.  It is on the low-calorie side of things, tastes, and so simple to make.  I put it in the dump and run category of recipes.

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Three chicken breasts

Two large cans diced tomatoes

Two small cans of black beans

Package of frozen corn, preferably white or silver queen or two small cans corn drained

Half a cup taco seasoning

Half a cup ranch dressing mix, dry

Two cartons chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste.

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I use a La Creuset stock pot to cook my soup. Poach the chicken breasts in half a carton of chicken stock.  Remove the breasts and let cool.  Shred the chicken and set to the side.  In the stock pot, add the tomatoes and remaining chicken stock, the taco seasoning and dry ranch dressing mix, stir and let simmer for two hours.  Drain one can of black beans and add to the pot.  Add the remaining can of beans with juice and the corn.  If you elected to use canned corn, drain and rinse the corn before adding to the pot.  Add in the chicken and bring to a boil.  After reaching a boil, reduce to low and let cook at least another hour, preferably two.  Then enjoy!  I enjoy it “plain” but you can also top with shredded cheese, sour cream or tortilla strips.

Post Script:  This soup freezes well.  I divide it into small quantities and freeze it for lunch when I want to take something for those busy days at work or for dinner after one of those days.

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Family · Food

Stuffed Peppers

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I am addicted to the farmer’s market this summer.  I cannot get enough of the fresh produce with an emphasis on peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  At my last visit to the farmer’s market I brought home a lot of peppers.  All day I looked at them attempting to decide what to do with them.  Then I recalled my Mom serving stuffed peppers when I was young.  I couldn’t find her recipe so I reached out to my friend Google.  After reading multiple different recipes, I decided to make up my own.  The result was a winner!

Four large and preferably round bell peppers.

One cup orzo cooked al dente

Two links chorizo sausage removed from skin and cooked

Half a medium onion chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesean cheese

Cut the top off each pepper and scoop out the inside.  Dice the tops of the peppers and place in a bowl.  Add the diced onion, the sausage, orzo, and cheese.  Stir until the ingrediants are mixed.  Add salt and pepper.  Stuff each pepper with the mixture, spray the top with olive oil and place into a baking dish.  Bake for thirty minutes at 350.

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They were not Mom’s peppers but I think I like mine better!