Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Day in North Carolina

The weather was much better today. It started out cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining. The sun even came out after lunch! Mom and I had another busy day. We started off by driving to Black Mountain. They had streets full of little shops, and they sold all kinds of great things--pottery, jewelry, crafts, antiques, and pretty much anything else you could think of. I think our favorite shop was Seven Sisters.

We had lunch at Veranda. It was really good. I had a half of a club sandwich, and Hungarian mushroom soup. I liked the soup so much I want to find a recipe and make some at home.

After we had our fill of shopping, we drove back to Asheville. On the way back, we had to stop and take some more mountain pictures. I don't think the pictures are as pretty as the real thing, but I guess you just have to take my word for it.

In Asheville, we headed downtown. That was the last place we really wanted to check out on our last day. First, we went to the Double Decker Coffee Company, which was a coffee house inside a double decker bus. How cool is that!

Then we went to Appalachian Craft Center to check out more locally made items. Last, we drove to the Grove Arcade, which is a historic building full of restaurants and shops. The parking garage was free, thanks to that lovely gas shortage.

For dinner, we ate at Tupelo Honey Cafe.

I didn't realize I like pimento cheese that much, but I sure loved the pimento cheese dip we ordered. It was like a flavorful, but less spicy version of queso dip. My nutty fried chicken with mashed sweet potatoes was delicious, too.

Our trip to Asheville has been fantastic. We had lots of fun exploring, found great places to eat, and enjoyed the spectacular mountain views. I can't wait to come back!

Friday, September 26, 2008

That's One Big House!

My mom and I had a great drive to Asheville yesterday. The weather was nice and the sun was shining. Today, not so much. It was cloudy and drizzling all day, and it was a little bit chilly. That didn't stop us from spending the whole day at the Biltmore, though.

It only took a few minutes to get there from our hotel, and we stopped and got our audio tour tickets on the way in. There are lots of winding tree-lined roads around the estate. It's beautiful! I wish I could have gotten some pictures of that part, but there was no place to stop. So anyway, we parked our cars and got on the shuttle to go see the house.

We came around the last curve and this is what we saw:

It's huge! I had seen pictures before, but the real thing is just amazing. Here's what we saw when we were standing in front of the house, looking out towards the grounds:

Even though it was rainy, the mountains were still gorgeous. Here is a view from the terrace:

It took us a good three hours just to see the house. I was really glad that we got the audio, because it gave a lot of information that we wouldn't have heard if we had just walked through on our own.

After we got done at the house, we decided it was time for lunch. We ate at the Stable Cafe, which is right off the main house.

After lunch, we looked around at the shops for a little while, and then went back to our car to drive around the rest of the estate. We wanted to check out the gardens, but it was just too rainy. We'll save that for next time. Here's a picture of the gardens and the conservatory that I took when we drove through:

Then, we went to the winery. We took a self-guided tour of the winery, and then we tasted some wine. Yum! We bought a few bottles of wine, and then we decided that we were too exhausted to see anything else! By then, it was almost 4 in the afternoon. This is the building that houses the winery:

We also managed to find a gas station that was actually selling gas, and there wasn't a big long line down the street. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check this out.

What a day! I'd definitely do it again, though.

Biltmore House - By the numbers:

9,973,638: Pounds of Indiana limestone
1,000,000+: Visitors per year

175,000: Square feet of floors
70,000: Gallons of water to fill the basement swimming pool
48,000: Grapevines planted in the vineyards
30,000: Q-tips used in restoration
8,000: Acres of land that make up the estate
1895: Year George Vanderbilt moved in
1700+: Employees
250: Rooms
102: Steps on the Grand Staircase
65: Fireplaces
43: Bathrooms
35: Bedrooms

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Painting Project

Thursday morning I'm leaving for Asheville, NC with my mom. We're going to see the Biltmore. It's something my mom has wanted to do for a long time, and I know we'll have fun! Usually when I'm gone, Tracy has some kind of project planned, and this time is no exception. This weekend, he will be painting the dining room. Here's what it looks like now.

We went to Lowe's last weekend and picked out the paint color. Amazingly, we both liked the exact same color. It's called Mocha Syrup. Hopefully I'll like it when it's on the wall, too. It's a little darker than what I had originally planned, but it really matches the placemats and dishes we got for our wedding. I can't wait to see what it looks like when I get home!

I'll share pictures of the trip when I have time!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Whoa, what's all this?

Anyone know what this picture is?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From Drab to Fab...

OK, that's kind of a dorky title, I know. But it's amazing how one little thing can make such a big difference. A couple of weeks ago on my finger post, I mentioned that I went to an Uppercase Living party. Today, the product I ordered magically appeared on my front porch. I ordered something to go in my bedroom. Here's what the wall looked like when I got home from work today:

I have been looking for something to go in this space for a long time. A picture, some kind of flower arrangement, a wall hanging, anything! And now I've got something. This is what I ordered:

It didn't take me very long to put this up at all. I just followed the instructions, and I measured...twice. And this is the after picture:

The designs come in all different colors, and I was amazed at how well this matched the trim and accents in my room! I had a really hard time picking out one thing because I liked half of what was in the catalog.

I think I need to have my own party, because I want to order more. I want to get something for my living room, and maybe the dining room, too!

Journey with Heart & Cheap Trick

It seems like I never have enough time to post, so here's another post that's a week late. Ugh.

Last Wednesday night, Tracy and I drove down to see Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick in concert. We had a really good time! This was my anniversary gift to Tracy, so we had been waiting a long time for this.

We met Annemarie and Jason there, and I don't know how it happened, but we got there at exactly the same time. I turned around to go back to the car for my cell phone, and they were standing right there! Mike got some free tickets, so he and Chantel were there, too.

Cheap Trick didn't play for long, but they were pretty good. This is the best picture I got all night, because it wasn't dark yet.

Heart was next. They were fantastic! I could have listened to them all night. I couldn't get any pictures of them because of the lighting. And possibly because I need some photography lessons!

Last was Journey. Their new singer is amazing! Here is a bad picture from when Journey was playing--you can't see the band at all, just the ocean of people!

My only complaint was the people around us. They were awful. They were so drunk, they were literally falling over each other. Seriously, just stay home next time. And keep the wacky tobacky at home with you too...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Finger Food, or How I Spent Labor Day

I know this is a little late to be discussing how I spent Labor Day, but I've been really busy! My weekend started out great. I went to Amy's house to scrapbook on Friday, took Katie shopping on Saturday.

On Sunday, I went to church, had a great lunch at my parents' house, and went to an Uppercase Living Party. Sunday evening, Tracy's cousin invited us to a bonfire in Hoagland, and we had a great time there, too!

Then Monday came around. We slept in, which was wonderful! I can't remember the last time I stayed in bed until 10:30. Then, I had to go to the grocery store. I picked up all the things I needed to make a salad for our Bible Study Labor Day party.

WARNING!!! Stop here if reading about blood bothers you. Just skip down to the recipe!

I started getting the salad ready when I got home, and then when I was slicing the cucumber, I sliced my pinky finger, too! Somehow I've managed to use the vegetable slicer for years with no problem, but then my finger got in the way. Somehow, with blood pouring out of my finger, I was able to use my other hand to finish the salad. My finger was still bleeding when it was time to leave, so I slapped another gauze pad on there and we went to the party. Everyone said the salad was great, so I posted the recipe below.

Two hours later, when we left the party, I was still bleeding. Sara said I should probably get it checked out, but first we had to go home, because Katie's mom was coming to pick her up at 6. After Katie left, we drove to the doctor's office. They usually have an after hours clinic, but I wasn't sure how that worked on holidays. They closed at 3, so we tried RediMed. They had just closed at 6, so we went to the emergency room.

Everyone at Parkview North was great! They got me all bandaged up. Bill had to come and visit me, even though we told him he didn't have to. I think he just wanted to give me a hard time, because he and Tracy were exchanging lots of bad jokes. I got a tetanus shot, since my last one was probably in 1994. They told me it would be best to keep my bandaged finger above my heart for as long as possible for the first 24 hours, and they told me to be sure and get my blood pressure checked on Tuesday because it was SUPER high. It was 199/136 the first time they took it, and 190/131 the second time. My temperature was also high, so I'm just chalking that up to trauma from watching myself bleed for 4 hours!

On Tuesday, still holding my finger up in the air (thank goodness it wasn't a different finger, if you know what I mean), I ventured to the fire station to get my blood pressure checked. It was a little better, 150/84. What I want to know, is why do they pick the fire station for blood pressure testing?!?! For men, this is probably fine. For women, being around firefighters...probably isn't going to keep the blood pressure low. That's how I'm justifying it, anyway.

Now it's Thursday and I'm pretty good at doing things while keeping my finger out of the way. I'm getting better at typing without it, too. I can even change the bandages and all that fun stuff, and it really doesn't hurt much.

Hopefully it will heal up without getting infected, and I will be good as new. Now here's the recipe. I dare you to make it without thinking about this story! Note: No fingers (or finger parts) were actually in the salad!

"Finger Food" Salad

Serves: a crowd

1 head leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1 med. cucumber, sliced
1/2 med. onion, sliced 1/2 med. green pepper, sliced
1 container grape tomatoes
1 can black olives, drained
1 pkg Kraft cheese crumbles (I used the Colby/Cheddar/Monterey Jack)
Kraft Tuscan House Italian Dressing, to taste.

Directions: Layer ingredients in a bowl. Just before serving, add dressing and toss everything together. Enjoy!