Friday, August 31, 2012

DC Drama

 WWII Memorial

Back in June, Mr. Tide and I snuck away for an overnight in DC.  We were actually there less than 24 hours, and because we live within driving distance of the city, it almost seemed silly to rent a hotel room, especially considering the fact that we spent a grand total of about 6 hours in it!

But this was not a pleasure trip, I was asked by an art dealer to shoot images of the monuments and iconic places we all associate with our nation's capital.

 The Jefferson Memorial

I was actually thrilled to be going to a place I've been so many times before to capture glimpses of this beautiful city from my perspective.  I thought it would be nice to slow down and actually soak in the sites the way a first time visitor might, not an easy feat when you are used to zooming through the city to get elsewhere, or dragging a bunch of third graders around the Smithsonian for the umpteenth time!

 Jefferson Memorial

When we visit Europe, or any place outside of our own stomping grounds it's easy to be excited about what might be around every corner, soaking in the atmosphere and drinking up the architecture and vibe of that unfamiliar territory.  But when we live so nearby to places that others dream of visiting...well, we can become a little jaded.  Instead we are interested more in complaining about the traffic, the tourists, the traffic (ugh, just voted the worst in the country and for good reason), and we forget how special that place really is.

Do you think people living in Rome or Paris do the same thing?!  Take for granted the Eiffel Tower or being able to wander around ancient ruins?...probably, it is human nature after all.  Just ask most New Yorker's about the traffic and the tourists and I bet you would get similar responses.  But for those of us who live too far to just drop by those cities, we can't begin to imagine under appreciating all that they have to offer.

 WWII Memorial

Because it was June, really the height of tourist season in a city that never is without tourists, I decided that night shots would be my friend, though I did sneak in a few daytime shots.  And although the crowds were much smaller at 3 am...they were still there.  Shooting using angles is a photographers best friend when it comes to cropping out unwanted peeps in your photos.

The WWII Memorial, like all of the war memorials, is such a poignant and haunting place, especially at night.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

When you visit these memorials, you can't help but feel humbled by what they represent, and it renews a sense of pride in you and this city.

Iwo Jima Memorial

Strolling around after midnight on a hot summer's night, you can almost taste the history that surrounds you.

 Lincoln Memorial

Though DC is often known for its political drama...especially these days, there is another sort of drama I prefer to focus on.  Beautiful architecture, an abundance of culture, and a beauty uniquely its own.

If you haven't entered my latest sure to click HERE to enter!

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Secret Giveaway of Randomness

It's been a LONG time since I posted two days in a row, but hey, I'm the master of my own domain right, so I can do whatever I want!

It's not that I really have anything to say, or that I even have cohesive thoughts running through this pea brain of mine, but I did have the idea that it was time for another giveaway, so here goes.

Even when I don't post, I am thankful for those of you who pop by and look at my blog.  I appreciate the people who never make a peep, and those who are faithful with their comments.  We are all so very busy and I know I fall miserably short in the commenting and replying to emails department, but it's not because I don't admire the posts you write and the things you have to share with the world.

So I thought that in order to say thanks I would host a Giveaway while sharing some totally random images...a secret giveaway of sorts.  I'm not sure what the prize will be, but I will know it when I see it.  It will be something that stops me in my tracks as I'm surfing online, or browsing a favorite shop.  Those are the best presents don't you think?...the kind you didn't even know you wanted to give someone until the very moment you saw it?!

Kind of like the furry little caterpillar hiding up there in the top right of the photo, snuggly tucked amongst the rose petals.  I didn't see him or her when I cut the blossom, but their fuzzy yellow presence was a welcome sight none the less.

So here is the dealio.  

1.  You must be a follower of this blog.

2.  Leave a comment telling me what you hope to win...and don't be shy, wish for that string of pearls or that Villa in the South of France.  Of course they will likely not be what you receive, but it never hurts to ask right?!

3.  Blog, Tweet, Rent a Billboard, or FB the Giveaway and then come back to leave another comment for an additional chance to win...don't forget to leave a separate comment though.

The Giveaway is open to everyone, and will end at Midnight EST on Sunday, September 2nd...why that date?!  I have no idea, it just sounded good...another random thing about this giveaway.

So thanks again, for trusting that I will actually get you something worth entering for...and who knows, it might even be just what you've been longing to have!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Newest Addictions

Thanks everyone for your well wishes following our accident in Williamsburg.  We are slowly feeling less sore, and working towards getting our car repaired.

I've been taking it easy this past week, trying to get my cortisol levels back in whack.  When you have an adrenal condition like I do, what would normally not affect someone else can really throw my body for a loop, so I'm taking baby steps until I'm back to normal again.

One of the most important things I can do is to eat right and get plenty of rest...oh and avoid the news at all cost...Mr. Tide is keeping me up on current events so that I don't sound like a total dimwit!

Over the last 6 years eating organically, eliminating all sorts of things from our diet like transfats, etc., and in the past 9 months going gluten free, has been key to my feeling better.  And when I'm under stress, or have experienced a stressful situation like our accident, it becomes even more important for me to keep up a strict healthful diet.

I really try to eat mostly fruits and veggies throughout the day supplementing those with protein, and I've become a little addicted to Whole Foods spreadable the Pepper Jack Cream Cheese pictured above.  I've actually been out of it for a few weeks and I have to say that withdrawal has not been easy!

The other thing I am totally in love with are these Glutino Gluten Free Bagel Chips...both the original and the Parmesan flavor...YUM!  When gluten free tastes this good, you kind of forget that it can be a royal pain to stick to a gluten free diet.

The only problem is that our local stores don't stock either of these, and I've yet to find a good spreadable goat or cream cheese that can match the stuff they sell as their store brand at Whole Foods.

This was my lunch a few weeks ago, and let me just say that it was delish!  Usually I would have less fruit and more veggies, but our local grocery stores are severely lacking in good organic produce, and because Mr. Tide was on a trip, I hadn't made the 2 hour trek to our closest Whole Foods for awhile.  In fact, we are long overdue for a visit, but that will likely have to wait until sometime next week.

So curse you Whole Foods and your delicious spreadable cheese...and curse you local grocers for not getting more organic fruits and veggies so that I wouldn't have to drive to the ends of the earth to find some!  Oh and curse you people who have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's right down the street and take it for granted...envy, thy name is Kat!

On a totally different topic, but still pertaining to addictions...let's chat about roses shall we?!

When we moved into this house 5 years ago we had the ubiquitous knock-out rose bushes, one pink tea rose, and another yellow hybrid tea...I really have no clue if they are hybrids or teas, but it makes me sound more educated so I'll go with it.  In total, we had 9 rose bushes...4 of which were knock outs and 2 were some sort of spray type bushes...and yes there will be a test at the end so keep track.

Thanks to the world of blogging, I met Connie of Hartwood Roses.  Connie is what I like to refer to as a rose "dealer."  You know the type, they talk about roses with a passion in their voice, invite you to their property which looks like a rose garden from an old English estate...well because it is an old estate and she has lots of rose gardens, and they slyly lure you in!

Then they put their crafty, mesmerizing spell on you and BAM you suddenly think to yourself..."hey, I could do this, I could grow roses with names I'll never remember, and care about each individual plant as though it's an adopted child!"

And so here I am, just a year and half later, with 25 rose bushes...yup 25...and counting!  A few of them are knock outs, but most are old fashioned roses that I've purchased from Connie or been gifted by friends and family.  I also have some David Austin roses, like the white one above, but please don't ask me their names.  

Unlike the gardens of true rose enthusiasts, my roses are not neatly tagged, beautifully trimmed, or probably even in the right soil or getting the perfect amount of sunlight.  But they do bring me joy and happiness, and I do care for them in my own way.  Heck, I'm even thinking about buying a wide brimmed straw hat so that I at least give the appearance of knowing what I'm doing!

Connie has taken a break from selling roses in order to tend to the many beautiful plants in her own gardens.  What she may or may not realize is that she did way more than sell roses to unsuspecting people like me...she actually created little rose loving addicts in the process.  And as I wander my yard cutting fragrant blossoms to place here and there throughout my house, I know it was never about the "knowing" part of growing roses she was trying to instill in was always about the "loving" part and finding my inner rose addict...for that I will always be thankful to her!

What are you addicted to tell!

And for those of you in Isaac's path...STAY SAFE!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Horses, Hotels, History, and Hospitals

I hope you have a minute or maybe twenty because this is going to be one of those long and winding posts.  So go grab a cup of joe, a snack, and maybe some Visine, because there are lots of pictures too!

A few posts back, I asked for places you thought Mr. Tide and I might enjoy visiting for our week away.  There were so many great suggestions (thank you all!), and we actually almost booked flights to Maine and Colorado, but in the end we stayed much closer to home.  Expensive rental and flight rates, due to our last minute planning, coupled with my not feeling great led us to the conclusion that going someplace for less than a week and somewhere within driving distance just made more sense.

So we headed a few hours south to Williamsburg, Virginia.  Home of handsome horses (see the pic above), history, and hospitality. 

Williamsburg is a place we are very familiar with, and a place we always enjoy visiting.  Growing up, my family made our annual pilgrimage to Williamsburg each year to satisfy my parents' need for everything colonial.  My parents both loved the architecture of the time period and my father would return with a renewed vigor for building an accurate colonial reproduction home modeled off of the homes constructed to create what we know as Colonial Williamsburg.

My mother was enthralled with the furnishings and formality afforded the gentry of the 1700s.  She would load the car up with hand dipped candles, baskets, bird bottles, and enough potpourri to kill us all as we cruised back home in our large station wagon.

So it's no surprise that we opted for a colonial B&B instead of a hotel when we visited a few days ago.  Above is a photo of one of the guest rooms at the beautiful Bentley Manor Inn where we stayed.

The photo above was not our room...I actually forgot to take pictures before we messed our room all up, but I can assure you that it was just as lovely.  Just look at that lovely pencil post bed with its gorgeous handknotted, crocheted canopy...even Thomas Jefferson would have been at home in this welcoming and comfortable room.


But TJ would not have had the luxury of indoor plumbing and a beautiful new bathroom with an oversized shower.  I love the colonial look, but I have to have my modern amenities and the Bentley Manor Inn has everything from ensuite bathrooms to free wi-fi.


The B&B consists of 4 guest rooms on the second floor, and each one is as lovely as the last.  The inn keepers, Fred and Jane, could not be any nicer and after this first visit I can assure you that it will be the place we will return to whenever we visit...fingers crossed they will have availability because they are ranked #1 on TripAdvisor!

We were lucky that it was the slow season when we booked or we likely wouldn't have gotten to stay here or meet Fred and Jane.  These two are seasoned inn owners as they used to own a place in Maine before deciding to head south.

Each morning we lingered over breakfast, which was delicious and consisted of everything from fresh fruit with granola, made to order omelets, to delicious gluten free apple pancakes that melted in your mouth!  Because Mr. Tide and I have been gluten free since January, it was wonderful that the inn not only accommodated our dietary restrictions, but provided us with truly delicious fare that made us forget we couldn't have gluten!  But even better than the food was the conversation.  Both Fred and Jane are delightful hosts who truly make you feel as though you are a guest in their home.

 Wren building steps 

After fortifying ourselves each morning, it was time to head out and do a little wandering, shopping, and picture taking of course!  We started with the campus of The College of William and Mary which is located within walking distance of the B&B and Colonial Williamsburg.

We know the area well since our daughter is a graduate of William and Mary.  It is the second oldest college in the US, I believe that Harvard is the oldest, and besides our daughter, it boasts some pretty famous alums, including Thomas Jefferson.  The place  is steeped in history and tradition and it truly is a beautiful campus.

 Wren Building

Although I've visited Williamsburg all my life, and had a niece and a daughter who graduated from W&M, I have to admit that I really haven't spent much time wandering the campus.  When you visit your child at college, they rarely want to stay on campus, so when you come for a visit you do things away from their everyday surroundings.  So it was fun to take the time to go through one of the most famous buildings on campus, the Wren Building.

The Wren Building is said to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the famed architect who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the Wren is also the oldest college building in the United States, as well as the oldest building in Williamsburg, dating to sometime between 1695 and 1700.

 Wren Building Exterior

 Wren Building Upper Hall with Portraits of College Presidents

And although it has undergone many changes since it was built, including being gutted by fire several times, it continues to be used by the college for classes and administrative uses, and is an important part of the school's history.   It even houses the Wren Chapel where many alumni choose to get married.  It's where convocation takes place each year to signal the start of the academic year and to  welcome incoming freshman who are then led on a procession through the building, and upon graduation you do a final walk through the Wren building to signify the end of your time at W&M.

After leaving the campus, we headed to Colonial Williamsburg to grab a bite to eat along Duke of Gloucester Street, affectionately called DOG street by the locals.  And as you go further away from Merchant's Square which houses shops and restaurants, you get into the colonial portion of Williamsburg.

It's here that you find one of my favorite buildings, Bruton Parish Episcopal Church.  Completed in 1715, the church is a beautiful example of American colonial architecture, and I can just imagine attending Christmas services in this lovely old church, complete with hand bells and candlelight.  Although much of the church has been electrified for safety reasons, that big brass chandelier is still lit by the flicker of lovely an evening wedding must be!

And as if the interior of the church weren't pretty enough, the grounds, which include a small cemetery, are lovely as well.  Expansive branches from old growth hardwoods, and at this time of year beautiful crepe myrtles in shades of deep pink, give the grounds a peaceful and reverent sense, even all these years later.

Now, you may be wondering why the title of this post includes "hospitals," well it's twofold actually.  First, I wanted to update you on dear friend Jim, and to thank all of you for sending healing thoughts and prayers his way.  After several additional surgeries, he is recovering, albeit much slower than he anticipated.

Then, not long after taking the photo above, Mr. Tide and I headed back to our B&B for what we hoped would be a lovely glass of wine and some cheese offered up each evening at 5:00 pm, but we ended up taking a little detour.  As we were leaving a side street to enter the main road we were rear ended!  Yup, nothing says vacation or quiet getaway like a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance.  Thankfully, the other driver stopped, and our best guess is that when Mr. Tide edged up to be able to see oncoming traffic better, the driver behind us thought we were going to turn and didn't look to see we were still there before he accelerated and hit us.  

It's amazing how much of a jolt you can get, and thankfully Mr. Tide had his foot on the brakes or we would have been pushed out into oncoming traffic and that would have really been bad!  He ended up being transported to the local hospital because he hit his head on the side beam of the car while watching for traffic and immediately had blurred vision and became nauseous... all classic signs of a concussion.  Almost 5 hours and a CT scan later, we headed back to find someplace still open to eat and then back to the B&B.  

The next day, we cut our trip short and headed back home...with more bumps and bruises than when we left, with less pictures than I would have hoped for...especially night shots which I hoped to get while we were in the ER, but very thankful that things had turned out as well as they had.  The Williamsburg fire and rescue folks couldn't have been any nicer, the hospital was wonderful, our stay at the B&B was unsurpassed, and our time in Williamsburg, before we got hit was truly relaxing.

Now it's back to reality and dealing with car repair estimates and insurance claims...oh the joy!

I hope that each of you have a wonderful weekend and that you can manage to avoid some of life's little bumps in the road!  If you would like to see more pictures of Williamsburg, you can visit my website by clicking HERE and then clicking on the gallery labeled Williamsburg.  I'll be adding to it daily.

Friday, August 17, 2012

For Jim

In life, most of us are blessed to have friends, people who are there to support us, who share common interests, who just "get" who we are, and take us "as is."

Mr. Tide and I have friends like this, and while some live right next door to us, others are far away.  One of our far away friends is a man we call Papa Jim.  In his profession as a police officer I'm sure he's quite intimidating, heck, I wouldn't want to get on his wrong side, but we know the other side of Jim.  The guy who gushes over his wife, kids, and grandkids...they are the light of his life he is proud beyond belief.  

He is the kind of man who always has something nice to say, can make you laugh, and even when he has his own troubles, he's always more worried about someone else's issues.  And though his day job calls for him to be rough and tough, he is the kind of person who reads this blog.  He doesn't read it because he likes house'y stuff, flowers, or pretty things, but because I write it, and because I talk about my family on here, so he can keep up with our day to day happenings.

Jim is, by any definition, the kind of person you hope to call friend.  Yesterday Papa Jim underwent major surgery for cancer.  He's walked this path before, and battled back like nobodies business, so I have no doubt he will meet this head on yet again and kick it in the butt.

The surgery didn't go as smoothly as hoped, and he has a slightly steeper hill to climb until he's back to feeling like himself again.  And we, meaning all of us who are lucky to know this great man, will be right behind him...providing him with the kind of strength and support that friends give to one another at times like this.

So to you Jim, we (and I mean the whole clan) say thank you!  Thanks for being that role model friend that we all aspire to be.  Thank you for loving your family with all of your heart and still spreading that love around to those of us who are honored to call you friend.  Get Well Soon!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Little Ray of Sunshine

Thank you everyone for your wonderful holiday location suggestions, I've been pouring over each and every one of them!!!  We still haven't decided where we will be heading, but I'll keep you posted.

I've been a little under the weather this week, not sure what is going on, but I know something isn't right with my body.  I've actually felt a little like the sunflower pictured above, a bit droopy.

Mr. Tide was sweet enough to bring me two big bunches of these lovely happy faced flowers from the grocery store yesterday.  Even when you are feeling a bit droopy, you can't help but be cheered up by these gorgeous rays of sunshine!

I hope you each have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's Been Awhile

I would love to tell you that my absence has been due to some fabulous trip abroad, or here on my own continent for that matter. 

I would love to say that I've had so many social engagements that I couldn't possibly pull together a post, or even slip in a tweet, but the truth is I've been busy with life.  Busy with laundry, busy with yard work,  busy with work (lots of work), busy with my family, busy with puppy dogs, busy watching amazing know just living life.  

A simple existence that allows me to pick blueberries fresh from the field or roam favorite shops and pick up vintage ironstone that is crazed and yellowed through years of loving use.  I've been a bit of a recluse this summer and I have to say that I'm kind of enjoying it, mostly because I know it won't last, just like the warm breezes that blow through each evening and make the heat seem a little more bearable this time of year.

Mr. Tide and I are planning a bit of a getaway, but we can't seem to decide where to go...Maine?...Colorado?...South Carolina?  Our hearts long to be back in France, but our pocketbook and my lack of a current passport say otherwise.

So tell me, where would you go, what tiny town, big city, or special place would you direct me to.  A place that you think everyone should see even once in their lifetime?  Do tell...because we're at a bit of a loss as to which direction the wind should take us.  And I'll even make you a deal...if we go to where you tell us to go, I will take a picture of that special place and send it to you on a lovely stretched canvas...assuming you like the picture of course!

And because it's been awhile since I posted a song, I thought you might enjoy this one.  It's lovely and quite soothing to listen to when you are looking at travel sites and tearing your hair out as to where to venture...such problems to have, I suppose?!