Family · Holiday · summer · Travel

The Homestead

Do you ever need that weekend away to simply relax?  I do! I love that over night or long weekend when you get away from home, sleep in, and simply enjoy some needed peace and quite.  The Homestead, also now known as the Omni Homestead, is one of my favorite places for a quick trip away to recharge.

Nestled in the Virginia mountains, it has been there in one form or another since 1766.  Known for the hot springs in the area it was a place to “take the waters” – and you still can!

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The rooms are beautiful, the people phenomenal and the food a gourmand’s delight.  And, oh, did I mention the spa?  You can hike, swim or ski, depending on the season, golf, enjoy zip lining, falconry, hiking, or, my personal favorite, curl up with a book or a deck of cards in the library or on the front porch.  Then there is the great hall where you can enjoy the fire places.  I’ve enjoyed many an afternoon playing cards – yes, I mean playing with an actual deck of cards – with my Mom and enjoying a refreshment.

The spa is excellent; the garden pool, adult only, features a lovely heated pool and hot tub along with one of the original hot springs.  The aqua thermal suite is the perfect place for an afternoon and then a massage.  There is also a gym, indoor pool, and, in the warm weather, a family pool with a lazy river.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the food.  It is spectacular.  I feel like I roll away when I leave the table.  The breakfast buffet leaves nothing to the imagination.  Dinner options do not disappoint.  The wedge salad at Jefferson’s is a favorite.  I’ve eaten in the dining room, formal, Jefferson’s, casual, room service, and Sam Sneeds.  Each meal was to die for.

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Family · Food · Holiday

Thanksgiving Reflections

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  Family and friends gather to visit and give thanks, at least in my family.  This year I am going solo.  After changing jobs and moving, the usual family Thanksgiving seemed out of reach this year.

Growing up Thanksgiving was originally a trip to Charleston where my Grandmother cooked for twenty plus.  Turkey, ham, oysters, green bean casserole, rice and gravy,  dressing, squash, ambrosia, and apple pie were on the table.  I recall being taught how to polish silver and set the table as my contribution and wash the dishes after dinner.

Somewhere along the line we moved to Thanksgiving at my Mother’s.  We always attended a Moravian Love Feast on Wednesday night.  This was a community event with members of the church neighborhood participating.  The President’s proclamation was always read, coffee and a bun served, and there is one memorable sermon that I will always recall.  My Dad and I left the service under my Mother’s critical eye – as if we were both two.  The sermon used the refrain “over the river and through the woods”, unfortunately in my and my Dad’s opinion we went over the river one time too many.  Back home it was preparation for the big dinner the next day. Silver was polished, the table set, the turkey prepped.  The menu was similar to that in Charleston, after all my Mom learned from her Mom.  Ice box rolls and broccoli casserole were added at some point as an homage to my Dad’s side of the family and a coconut cream cake made an appearance.  Baked apples became part of the main course.  The family was slightly smaller and Mom served twelve to fifteen rather than twenty plus.

Then Thanksgiving came to my house.  Tradition is tradition. I’ve cooked for five and for twelve.  I have fried turkey and baked it in a bag.   The menu varies based on the number eating but is the one I learned from my Grandmother.   The silver is now handed down to me as is the china.  While I don’t have a Love Feast in my town, there is a community service that is reminiscent of those I attended growing up.

What I will always cherish is my family, gathered together for a few days.  The main dinner was delicious and fun.  Mom and Grandmom  were amazing cooks; but the turkey sandwich that followed our 2PM meal was as good, if not better, as it was with family.  It was at these gatherings that I learned about my Mom’s escapades growing up and how to cook.   I remain thankful for the many holidays with family who are now scattered near and far.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May your holiday be shared with those that love you.

Family · Holiday

Mother’s Day

 

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I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day a lot over the past few days.  I’ve always enjoyed a close relationship with my Mom.  She is fantastic.  She’s also not doing so well theses days.  On some days she knows me and other days, well, I try not to focus on those visits.  As I’ve been contemplating this Mother’s Day, I’ve reflected on all the gifts she’s bestowed on me.

Education, a keen sense of right and wrong, confidence in her own voice, the ability to love deeply, cherish family and friends, and a deep and abiding faith are those gifts.  I am also aware of those things that I hold special about her that she would wave away.  Her ability to laugh and enjoy the moment.  Her sense of fashion. When I look at pictures of her I see a beautiful and accomplished woman.  In today’s Me too environment, I am struck by the rich life she gave me by surrounding me with strong, independent women. Women who navigated the challenges of their time with panache.  These women passed along stories of successes and failure with chins held high and occasionally a few tears but always a sense of self.  While equality should be the standard in the work place, much work remains to be done.  This is something all women should remember.  Pay it forward and have the courage to reject that which should be rejected.

From my Mom and these women I’ve had the courage to try and fail, pick myself up and try again.  So tonight I raise a glass of wine and toast my Mom, Godmother, Grandmothers, Cousins, mentors, and friends and say thank you!  Thank you for bestowing upon me the ability to reach for the stars and pick myself up when my reach is not long enough.

To Mom!

Food · Holiday · Home · Travel

Breakfast prep for a weekend get away

The fun in a weekend get away is not having to work while you are getting away.  At the same time you want to eat and eat well so what is the answer to the question?  I have two favorite make ahead breakfast items that I make, freeze and take with me.  Both are perfect for the guest who gets up early and the guest who sleeps in late.

Sausage muffins:

Take one pound hot Italian sausage (either pork or chicken will do) and fry it until it is done.  In a separate bowl empty two jars of Kraft Old English cheese.  Scoop the done sausage hot from the pan and pour over the cheese.  Let the heat of the cooked sausage melt the cheese as you stir the two together to combine the sausage and the cheese into a spread.

Take one package of English muffins and slice each muffin in half.  On a cookie sheet spread the sausage and cheese topping on top of half of an English muffin.  Pop tray of muffins into freezer and wait to serve.  When you are ready to serve, pop the now frozen muffin into the microwave or the oven to heat until bubbly.  In the microwave eat for about 30 seconds.

Mini frittata:

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Dice onions, green pepper, and tomatoes and sauté them in olive oil in a fry pan. Do the same for prosciutto.  Set vegetables and prosciutto aside.  In a bowl add six eggs, salt, half a teaspoon of lemon juice, and several dashes of hot sauce.  Whisk together. Add in half a coup of grated cheddar cheese and whisk again.   In a cupcake  pan, preferably a silicon one, add the vegetables and meat into each cup then pour the egg and cheese mixture over the vegetables.  The egg mixture should reach the top of each cup.  Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.  Once done let cool.  Pop each mini frittata out and place in a ziplock bag.  Microwave to reheat when ready to serve.

Holiday · Skin care · Travel

Pamper me Sunday taken to the Greenbrier!

Did I ever need Pamper Sunday.  Last week was one of those weeks that wouldn’t stop.  Saturday I spent the morning cleaning out the basement.  By noon, I was covered in grime but had the basement sorted into trash and charity with the Christmas decorations finally put away.  Mission accomplished!

A good friend and I had long planned for a girl’s day at the spa at the Greenbrier.  As I stood there in the basement covered in yuck,  all I could think about was my long-awaited day at the spa.  The Greenbrier is located in an area rich with mineral springs and is famous for  its spa as well as the bunker.  A short drive this morning and I was looking at the great white hotel decorated by Dorothy Draper and Carlton Varney.  After a wonderful lunch at Drapers in the hotel, we headed to the spa.

Note about Drapers.  It is wonderful.  Famous for its sweet southern ice tea and chicken salad, the ice cream counter will make you drool.  I opted for a BLT with a delicious tomato. That is a miracle given it is the middle of winter.  I passed on dessert and we headed to the spa.

The first hour of our experience was spent in the relaxation room.  There I began to let the toils of the week evaporate.  Next up, a sulphur bath from the springs, then followed a scotch spray that reminded me of a water massage and finally a Swedish massage.  Now I was relaxed.  Back to the relaxation room where I quickly found my comfort zone in a lounge chair with a soft blanket and I was in my happy place.

Despite the fact that the day was a rainy, grey, winter day, it IMG_0267was perfect.  Time with friends and a wonderful visit to the Greenbrier.  I think I’m ready to face Monday!  I’m also plotting my next trip to the Greenbrier.

Family · Holiday · Home · Travel

Happy New Year!

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I love the period between Christmas and New Years.  Christmas is festive and full of family and friends, food, gifts, visits, and parties.  It is ending the year on a high note of fun and festivities and yes, endings.  When I think of the New Year, I think of new beginnings, everything clean and white and sparkling with the potential for wonderful new adventures and excitement.

In addition to seeing family and friends, I enjoy the time between Christmas and the New Year as a time to clean.  This past week, I cleaned out closets, organized and visited with friends.  We reflected on the year and made plans for the new one extending that sense of anticipation of Christmas to the potential for new things in a new year.

I’m not much for resolutions but I love to dream and plan.  The new year is like an open promise with only potential.  So for the new year, I’m working on new dreams and making plans to see those dreams become a reality.

  • Travel – Where to visit this year?  I’m thinking of the Mediterranean and Scotland.  Beaches and mountains sound balanced.  I love visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. There is nothing better than being jolted out of your comfort zone by learning something new and what better way to expand your view than travel?
  • Career – I’m looking forward to wrapping up existing projects and unleashing my creative juices on new ones.
  • Romance – I’m ready for my lost knight in shinning armor to tap into his internal GPS and find his way to me.  I’d be happy to meet him half way.  Maybe my GPS needs a tune up?
  • Friends and family – I’m looking forward to spending time with those close to me.  Sharing and creating new memories.
  • Fun – I am dreaming of a new year filled with fun.  New people, new projects, lunches, dinners, decorating, shopping, museums – well you get the picture.
  • Creativity – I have a creataive gene that needs to be exercised.  Photographs, drawing, this blog, cooking, decorating and fashion are all things that I dabble in.  I’m not certain what my new outlet for creative expression will be this year.  I’d love to take a drawing or art history class.  Hum, something to consider.
  • Exercise – Walking, hiking, Pilates, yoga, barre – okay this one sounds more like a resolution so perhaps one resolution for the new year?IMG_0044

If I have one resolution for the new year, it is to embrace your dreams!

Happy New Year!

 

 

entertaining · Family · Holiday

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas is a big deal for my family.  We celebrate on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve begins with a dinner followed by church and then an evening snack.  We move from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day watching mass from the Vatican even though we’re not Catholic.  Dinner would vary based on who was there from pasta to turkey and all the trimmings.  The midnight snack was always the same, cheese straws, sausage balls and cookies.  A plate of cookies was always left for Santa with a glass of cold milk and carrots for the reindeer.

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Christmas morning was always an early celebration.  A fire in the fireplace, juice, and coffee while we opened presents  and stockings and then a huge breakfast.  Breakfast was always a breakfast casserole and sugar cake.  If you’ve never had sugar cake you are missing a treat.  I love to tell everyone it is mashed potatoes as it has a potato base.  It is truly a treat.

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Christmas day was always spent with family and friends dropping by the house for a cup of eggnog.  My Dad was the nog maker.  He would begin on Christmas Eve “cooking” the egg yolks in a bourbon and brandy bath overnight.  Cheese straws also made by Dad, fruitcake cookies, Chinese chews and sands (cookies) made by Mom would accompany the egg nog as we visited with our guests.

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The day would end with a delicious dinner of beef tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus and applesauce raisin cake for dessert.

 

I have my own version of holiday traditions now but I’ve kept many of those I grew up with. I make the cheese straws and eggnog now and we’re having beef Wellington on Christmas Eve rather than for Christmas dinner.  No cookies this year but the cake is made! The DVD of White Christmas is ready to watch and I’ll be up late for church.  Christmas Day will be filled with visits with friends and my box of sugar cake arrived, after all what would Christmas morning be without sugar cake.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!