Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Biltmore Gardens in Winter

Inside the Conservatory
I'm not trying to convince anyone that a garden in winter delights the eye as much as in summer.  I'm not even attempting to persuade someone that it's as lovely as spring or fall.  However, The Biltmore Gardens in winter pleasantly surprised me.

Designed by the founding father of American landscape architecture, Fredrick Law Olmstead, the original 125,000 acres of Vanderbilt property has been pared down over the years to a manageable 8,000 acres for the many horticultural experts employed today.  (The 87,000 acre Pisqah National Forest just south of Asheville formerly belonged to the Biltmore estate.  Thanks to the pioneering work in forestry management of Mr. Gifford Pinchot and Dr. Carl A. Schenck, this area is now considered "the cradle of forestry.")  There are many gardens surrounding the house each with their own purpose and endearment.  

Arriving at the estate the morning after our Candlelight Tour, we followed the winding Approach Road with its many indigenous trees and shrubs and spotted several rare species of plants that didn't belong to the area yet looked at home.  Olmstead designed this three mile drive to delight visitors arriving leisurely by horse and carriage; we crept along the road, but a Ford Excursion with a noisy diesel engine just wasn't the same.  One of the parking attendants gave us an excellent tip for visiting the gardens only:  put your flashers on and you can drive all the way past the house and park at the Conservatory.  This was more convenient for us since we had brought Ginger the dog along (FYI- dogs are allowed in all outdoor areas of the estate, but no buildings.)
Unusual Orchids abound in the Orchid House

Wyatt: still determined to buy The Biltmore Estate
Taking turns walking Ginger, we toured the Conservatory.  Here, the garden thrives year round!  The glass roofed building, designed by the main house architect- Richard Morris Hunt, branched out to many separate houses: Palm House with its enormous center tree, Cool House with poinsettias and other cool weather plants, Hot House with year round beauty, and the breathtakingly bizarre Orchid House with the odd assortment of the strange, but beautiful orchids.

Ginger was one cool pup!
Next, the four acre Walled Garden, originally designed for a utilitarian kitchen garden, became a formal English garden at the request of George Vanderbilt.  In winter, this garden is a shadow of its summer glory with only a few spent rose blossoms still clinging to their vines.  This garden, alone, requires a future visit to the Estate.  Each season (except winter) displays a colorful show in the symmetrical flower gardens from daffodils to zinnias to chrysanthemums.  In winter, a master gardener can study the layout and design of the garden without the hindrance of flowers blocking the view. (How's that for optimism!)

The views from the House are spectacular!
The Shrub Garden and the Italian Garden leading up to the House from the Walled Garden are perfect for the exercise enthusiast.  These are where Jane Austen's contemporaries would "take a turn" in the garden.  Both of these are lovely at any time of the year and while walking we boned up on our horticulture knowledge as each plant is labeled in English and Latin terminology.  When we finally reached the House, Ginger pulled at her leash in order to make each visitor we met a new friend or completely terrified if they were already bent that way.  We took a few daytime shots of the massive home and headed back to our car exhausted, but filled with fresh air and a hunger that comes from exercise and good times.

On to the Antler Hill Village for lunch... and maybe a little wine tasting?


Love the signature side spiral staircase!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Biltmore House- America's Largest Home... by Candlelight!

Impressive, huh?  
But wait till you see it by candlelight!

On our jaunt through the highlands of the South, we stopped at America's Largest Home in hopes of catching the Christmas spirit.  Walking through the 116 year old mansion, I felt spirits swirling other than Christmas which made the evening tour even more delightful!

As we entered the gates and drove through the 8000 acre estate, I told the family some of the history of the home I had learned on my visit here three years prior.  Beginning in 1889, George Vanderbilt set out to build the grandest estate and hunting lodge he could afford and thanks to his grandfather, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and his industrious ventures with shipping and railroads, he could afford a grand amount.  Wyatt, our little entrepreneur, lit up when he heard that the Commodore dropped out of school at age 11 and with only $100 to his name began his first ferry service at age 16 and ended up being named the richest man in America at his death at age 83. He left the bulk of his fortune to his oldest son, William Henry Vanderbilt who almost doubled his inheritance before his death nine years later.  He divided his estate among his eight children; George Vanderbilt, his youngest, received much less than his older two brothers.  (I wonder if he would have BUILT MORE if he had had more money!)

After parking in lot C, we arrived at the mansion via shuttle bus to see a massive Christmas tree lit on the front lawn.  Even though we were riding in by mass transit, I still tried to imagine what it would have been like for George's first guests when he opened the house Christmas Eve 1895... After driving all that way through the mountains and valleys, most likely by horse carriage, the sight of this home must have seemed like a dream.

Still privately owned by George Vanderbilt's descendants, the Cecil Family, the entrance, so huge yet so lovingly decorated, set excitement running through our veins.  The vaulted entrance foyer gave way to the winter garden on the right and the famous spiraling stone staircase on the left.  For the candlelight tours, a choir among the trees and poinsettias in the winter garden room greeted us with Christmas carols. The self-guided tour of the home allowed us to pause and listen for a while before viewing the glowing trees and fires of the billiard room and banquet hall.  Yes, there really was a 35 foot Christmas tree in the banquet hall!  With the table set for fifty of their closest friends and a roaring fire in the walk-in fireplace, the Vanderbilts entertained on a scale that had never been seen in North Carolina, nor most of America, no doubt.

Though prohibited inside the house, I surreptitiously snapped a few photos to capture the feel of the home at Christmas:

The Tapestry Room leading to the library

Another view of the Tapestry Room where the family had their afternoon tea.

The Gun Room in the Bachelor's Wing of the home.
Originally opened to visitors during the depression to boost tourism in Western North Carolina, the house today has been painstakingly preserved by George Vanderbilt's grandson, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil.  On the second floor of the chateau, a display guides visitors through the preservation process of each restored room.  The estate constantly works to restore the home and recently opened three new guest rooms so we could really pretend we were guests of George and his wife, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser, having seen where we would have slept. Also upstairs are the family bedrooms and sitting rooms.  The girls loved the third floor living room with its turn-of-the-century toys and fashions on display.  The dulcimer player in the living room told stories of Christmases Past at Biltmore House in between his haunting songs.

What seemed like days later, we wound our way down to the basement to view the Halloween Room.  I think George and Edith's daughter, Cornelia, and her friends had some "good times" in the basement.  Painted during the Jazz Era, the room's walls felt like you were in someone's nightmare.  Interesting, but I preferred reading about the 6 year construction of the house.  Designed after French chateaux by architect Richard Morris Hunt, the photos on display here of each stage of construction fascinated Greg and me, but the kids preferred the cartoon-like walls.

Also in the basement are the indoor swimming pool, bowling alley and workout room.  Not too shabby for 1895!  The equipment in the workout room looked more like implements of torture than exercise.  Maybe other things were going on in the're miles from where anyone would hear you scream... My imagination ran wild!

Finally, we ended our tour with a look into the servants' world.  Like the BBC/PBS series, Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, the servants' quarters and workspace were just as fascinating as the elite's.  We saw the food storage system and the separate kitchens for food preparation such as the meat kitchen and the bakery with its complete estate gingerbread house.  There were also several underground tunnels leading to the dairy and the gardens which the kids were dying to sneak into, but after two hours of walking through the largest home in America, Mom and Dad were done with exploring.  The last thing I wanted to do was have to hunt for my kids.

If you need some Christmas magic, I highly recommend the Biltmore House's Candlelight Tour.

Tickets to the Candlelight Tour are a little more expensive than the regular tour at $79 for adults, $49 for kids (10 and up) and children (9 and under) are free (Thank you, Emma!)  The evening pass also includes a daytime pass to the estate's gardens, winery, farm and Antler Hill Village.  There are discounts available.  Check out their website.

More to follow on the Biltmore's gardens, 
farm and winery... oh, my!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Beachy Thanksgiving

This is not a food blog, but I have to share the success of our first ever solo family prepared Thanksgiving meal.  Back in Georgia, we have always shared Thanksgiving with our extended family in a potluck fashion.  The phone calls would begin the week before.  "What are you making for Thanksgiving?" "I'll do the turkey."  "I'm making the pecan pie." etc...

After returning to Fripp and getting all our travel gear put away, Greg and I began our planning.  Envisioning a simple, relaxing meal as opposed to the traditional extravaganza of turkey, ham, and 15 side dishes not to mention the 6 different dessert choices our family usually pulls together, we wrote down the essentials (turkey, dressing, green beans, potatoes) and then asked the kids what were their must haves.  Suddenly, our list was up to a meat and 9 sides for us to prepare on our own from scratch!  But it's Thanksgiving and I am a sucker for tradition so...

Thanks to work being done on our home, we couldn't start preparing our incredible meal until early Thanksgiving morning.  With the Macy's Parade playing in the background, we cooked.  Everything was made from scratch with the exception of the little rolls that Wyatt loves and the Picsweet frozen cream corn (because I was too tired to shuck!)  No one was coming for dinner which meant we had no time agenda (luxury on any holiday.)  The day was filled with cooking and more cooking and when everything was ready, we ate.

Here's a photo journal of our meal:

Greg has deep frying a turkey down to a science (3 minutes and 20 seconds per pound, people!)

Fried Perfection!
Mama Ruby's Dressing

Sweet Potato Casserole with pecans and marshmallows
because we couldn't it is the only way!

Chicken stock gravy
(Yes, we made our own stock to use in the dressing and gravy.)
The perfect plate
Anabel and Emma's Buttermilk Pies (plain and with coconut)

Happy kids with an ocean view!

A (long) walk on the beach is the only way to end the day after the meal we had.  Of course, the kids stayed home and worked theirs off on the Wii.

Hope y'all had a fantastic Thanksgiving, too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks for Being a Piece of Our Continent

I would be remiss if I didn't express our gratitude for all the friends and family that helped us out on our latest trip back home and beyond.  This year's unusual circumstances have proven to us how true the poem by John Donne,  

No Man is an Island:

No man is an island entire of itself; 
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
If a clod be washed away by the sea, 
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, 
As well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; 
Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

We are all in this adventure together; weaving in and out of the tapestry of our lives.  We have taken our relationships with us on each of our travels and have left part of ourselves with each of our friends.  As Lord Tennyson wrote, "I am a part of all that I have met."

Here is a bare-boned homage to those who added greatly to our recent days:

Nature Hike with Mandy and Shannon
Once again, my sister and brother-in-law opened their beautiful home and expansive kitchen to our family of five and a dog.  They made us feel like family... wait, we are family.  Thanks for the many meals, use of beds, couches, skateboards and computers.  The Bobo Bed and Breakfast never disappoints.

Spend the night fun

A true friend answers, "Yes!" when asked at the last minute, "Can your child spend the night with my child?" Or better yet, "Can my child spend the night with your child?"  Special thank you to Mollie Dunn, Cindy Ragozzine, Janine Burgard, Cassie Smith and Kellie Michie for sharing your children and allowing me to share mine with you!  Your hospitality and generosity made our kids so happy!

Hanging out in Dahlonega, GA
This trip home introduced us to the beautiful Harris's Terrace Level Suites.  Haven't heard of this fabulous Inn?  Neither had we until we discovered one perk of sabbatical life is staying overnight with friends.  We have literally seen how the other half lives now!  Thank you, Anne and Jackson, for the wonderful evening of bluegrass music and excellent conversation.  Our trip to Dahlonega, GA to hear The Fiddleheads at Crimson Moon Cafe entertained us with great music, as well as, afforded us the chance to see our friends, Bill and Kelly Eubanks and Brian and Delilah Wallace whose son, Michael is the guitarist for The Fiddleheads.  The band sounded incredible!  America's Got Talent has no taste.

Which leads me to my next thank you...Two fold thanks to Chris and Pam Chandler for the last minute tickets to the small concert and for the use of their Tahoe while I traveled back to Fripp to prep for painters leaving Greg and the kids in Canton.  We would not have been able to accomplish the feat of being two places at once if not for their generosity.

As written in my last post, our mountain retreat would not have been possible without the use of my parents' and aunt's cabin.  My mom taught me all about Southern hospitality and making people welcome.  Thanks for preparing the cabin for our respite and making our stay so relaxing.  There was wood, ready to burn, and marshmallows, ready to eat.  What more could you want for a stay in the woods?

Mountain Views at the Whittles'
While traveling through the mountains of Tennessee, one call to our friends, Greg and Sharon Whittle, was all it took to set up our fabulous evening.  When we arrived, Sharon had pizza ready for lunch and Greg had the bar set up for the evening.  The kids played ping pong and enjoyed the hot tub while Greg and Greg caught up around the outdoor fire by the pool.  I watched as Sharon prepared our feast.  I offered to help, but she preferred conversation to physical assistance so I happily obliged! I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon of watching a master at work with an amazing view of the mountains.

Thanksgiving arrived early with chicken and dressing casserole, seven-layer salad, mashed potatoes, buttered corn and hushpuppy cornbread. Sharon is an amazing cook!

All this and a bed, too?  Yes, our friends had beds ready for all five and 1/2 of us.  Ginger would like to send out a personal "Woof, woof!" to her new friends, Bree and Bella.  Thank you, Whittle clan, for opening your home and hearth to us weary travelers!

Now I've said my thanks and I hope I didn't miss anyone.  Here's hoping everyone enjoys a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends! Remember to choose your words wisely whatever your desired result:

"Thanksgiving is a magical time of year when families across the country join together to raise America's obesity statistics. Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car."
-Stephen Colbert

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mountain Retreat

After our short visit home, we decided to spend a little more time in our families’ terroir: the Appalachian Mountains.  Both Greg and I share our ancestry of being Americans from before the United States formed.  We can trace our relatives entry into the colonies of South Carolina and Virginia as well as sharing Native American blood.  We both prefer the low country of South Carolina and Georgia, but felt drawn to ramble through the winding roads of the Smoky Mountains of North Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
Luckily for us, we have a cabin retreat in the family, too.  Located near Epworth, GA on the Fighting Town Creek, my aunt and parents own a small. rustic cabin just perfect for us to escape cell phones, internet, computers, television, and all communication except family.  With the chilly, damp weather, we built a fire and ensconced ourselves inside with knitting, good books and great food.
After the whirlwind of seeing familiar faces at home, I felt more conflicted than ever wondering if we had made the right decision to pull the kids from their schools, friends and family.  The cabin became the perfect bubble to relax and forget traveling, budgeting, and worrying over the choice we have made and giving up our main income for one year.  While the kids caught up on school, Greg grilled marinated steak and vegetables by the creek and I worked on knitting a baby blanket for a friend due in December.  
Time Slowed.  I thought of the scripture from the Bible that has always been elusive to me:  “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.  In our frenetic modern lives, who takes time to be still?  We have worked so hard to manage this sabbatical year, physically and financially.  Since making the leap, I have felt pressured to make the most of every moment because I know we will never have a year like this again. I didn’t realize until being still at the cabin that God IS.  God is with us in the mountains, at the beach, on the road, at home, at school, at work, and on sabbatical. Everywhere.  The trick is learning to be still to KNOW this.  

That night, after a delicious dinner and a fantastic dessert of roasted marshmallows, we sat together around the fire.  With Wyatt near me on the chair, Emma in my lap, and Anabel next to her dad on the couch, Greg read us 5 Minute Mysteries.  We laughed and applauded each person’s attempt to solve the mystery.  With that one evening of being still together, I forgot all my doubts.  
If you can, try being still with your family this weekend.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We're Front Page News!

Thanks to the Cherokee Tribune and writer Megan Thornton for publishing an outstanding article about our year long adventure!  When Megan called to interview me, I rattled on excitedly about our sabbatical never realizing we would make front page headlines:

"An Experience Like No Other"
By Megan Thornton

Great title and so true!  If you missed the article in the paper, here's the link:  Our Article.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Carpe Diem!

Being back home in Georgia for our brief sojourn, we visited Greg's parents' graves today. As we placed new flowers for the winter season in the urns and on the headstone, we felt reminded and reassured that we are doing the right thing by taking a year to travel with our children. What once seemed so crazy, now seems to make perfect sense.

Greg's mom and dad, Emily and Charles, worked hard all their lives.  They worked diligently for others in various fields and then, diligently for themselves when they started Charles's construction company and later, their concrete business.  They had one child whom they loved very much, but they didn't always get to spend a lot of time with him when he was a kid because they were always working.  Emily died at the age of 45 from breast cancer and Charles died at the age of 62 from melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.  Neither one lived to enjoy one day of retirement.

So, today, we celebrated their lives and achievements.  We told the kids stories of their grandparents who love them dearly from above.  We prayed they watch over us during this year and keep us safe on our travels.  And I prayed that I can learn to slow down, be content, and appreciate the gift of our year off with our children.  I know this is a once in a lifetime experience.

Why wait for retirement to experience it?  Who knows what tomorrow may bring?  "For tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun..."

Carpe Diem, Folks!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eating Your Way Around New Orleans

With a husband who's a chef and three growing kids, one inescapable question when traveling is "Where are we eating next?"  Let me clarify: it's not, "When are we eating?" or "Where are we eating?' or even, "What are we eating?"  Always, "WHERE are we eating NEXT?"

In New Orleans, that question is hard to answer.  Not to think of a place to eat, but to choose one.  So we decided to make our visit one giant progressive meal.

We began with beignets and chicory coffee at the world famous Cafe du Monde.  Located on Decatur Street right at the river in the French Quarter, it is perfect for eating and people watching. As the wind blew the powdered sugar into our faces, we witnessed a man transform from human to truck in less than five seconds.  Drivers with horses offered carriage rides to visitors and LSU fans spontaneously broke into cheers at the sight of their Alabama rivals.  Breakfast at the Cafe du Monde definitely came with a show!

After viewing the great Mississippi River, we meandered through the French Market nibbling on samples along the way.  There's nothing like the luxury of sipping great coffee while looking at interesting things. The French Market has anything you might like, from fine china to tacky T-shirts. We settled for a Mardi-Gras mask Christmas ornament and were on our way.

Finally out of the French Quarter, we had walked up an appetite by the time we made it to Mother's Restaurant on Poydras Street near Harrah's Casino and just up a couple blocks from the Hilton Riverside where the NAGC convention was taking place.  Here, we waited in line with other hungry folks to place our order at the counter, get our drinks then find a seat.  By the time our friendly hostess brought our food, we were starved (Hyperbole, obviously!)  Pleasingly placed in front of us were two Ferdie Specials, grits with debris, jambalaya, gumbo and a salad.  The Ferdie Specials lived up to their names: slices of baked ham, roasted beef, cheese and slaw on buns soaked in the debris (all the drippings from the roast beef.)  We all made short work of these amazing sandwiches.  Being a GRIT (Girl Raised In the South) herself, Anabel thoroughly enjoyed her grits covered in the debris sauce. Greg devoured the gumbo while I savored the jambalaya sharing the abundance of andouille sausage with Wyatt.  Little Emma quietly ate her salad with ranch dressing. (We think she may have been switched at birth.)

After my convention presentation, Greg met me for round three of our progressive meal.  We started with charbroiled oysters at Drago's Restaurant in the Hilton Riverside.  Perfectly grilled, seared and topped with garlic butter and parmesan cheese, these oysters melted in my mouth and paired beautifully with my Cosmopolitan.

Afterward Drago's, we strolled the streets of the French Quarter to our next destination, Felix's Oyster House.  Most people come to Felix's with one thing on their mind, fresh Apalachicola Oysters on the half shell. You can't go wrong with a dozen of these beauties and a pint of Abita Beer, Louisiana's own brew.  Mix up your own cocktail sauce with freshly ground horseradish and dig in!

After two dozen raw oysters, we decided to do some people watching on Bourbon Street.  I'm sure most of the people we saw wouldn't be happy that we saw them doing the things they were doing... I'm trying to forget it as we speak.  (Notice, I'm not mentioning what the kids were eating?  That's because New Orleans After Dark is not for minors.  Parents, please remember this!  Our kids were happily eating pizza and watching Disney's The Princess and the Frog in our hotel room.)

We ended our progressive dinner with fresh fruit daiquiris and gumbo at The Gumbo Shop.  Greg tried the cantalope and honey dew melon daiquiris while I enjoyed the sweeter banana one.  We shared a cup of seafood gumbo, boudin with mustard sauce and crawfish remoulade.  We were so stuffed we could hardly finish our ice cream with pralines.  What can I say?  Life on the road is hard.

Believe it or not, we did not eat here, but
I will be performing the "I gained 10 pounds
in Nawlins Blues" November 18 - 20.
When I get on the scales, I'm sure I'll be singing the blues, but today was worth it.


Friday, November 4, 2011

NAGC Convention... and All That Jazz

An impressed Bill Nye offered to take me
to the moon after seeing my presentation.*
Recently, I had the privilege of presenting the curriculum material of my new book, Teaching Technology through Interest Projects to colleagues at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.  In April, when I accepted the invitation to speak, I had no idea I would be so nervous come November!  Thanks to the support of my husband, family and friends, I survived many people's worst fear: public speaking.

My presentation room was packed (A special thank you to those attending!) and my audience was extremely receptive and engaged in my material.  I had teachers and administrators asking pertinent questions during my slideshow and giving positive feedback afterwards.  Of course, I made each attendee sign an affidavit that they promised to by my book as soon as it is released by The Critical Thinking Company.  (Hey, a girl on sabbatical has got to eat.)

At the end of my hour, I had one administrator approach me to ask if I would be available to teach my Interest Projects' curriculum to her staff.  I answered with a resounding, YES!  Suddenly, a new career path appeared before me:  I could teach the teachers and travel, presenting/promoting my material around the country.

That one magical hour at NAGC in New Orleans cured my public speaking fear.  Funny, how successful experiences do that, isn't it?   So if anyone out there needs a speaker for your faculty, I'm available.

*Bill Nye did not see my presentation.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Traveling with a Dog is for the Birds (play song while reading post)

As I write this post, our dog, Ginger, is curled up on the console between the two front seats insisting on putting her head in my lap/laptop.  Everything, including writing, is a little more difficult when traveling with a dog.  
Here’s our top ten reasons NOT to bring a dog on your travels:

10.  While in the car, you have to make room for the dog in already awkwardly tight spaces. 
9.    You have to stop twice as much to walk the dog.  
8.    You have kids fighting for the dog to sit with them.
7.    You can’t “Name Your Own Price” on Priceline because you can’t be sure the hotel you get is “Pet Friendly.”  
6.    You have to pay a very high nonrefundable pet fee to stay in nice hotel or stay in a less nice “motel” like in 
        Pensacola, Florida.  
5.    You have to wake up early and get dressed to walk the dog.  
4.    When staying in a city, you have to walk around further to find just the right spot for a country dog to do their                     
3. You must always carry “poop” bags.
2.     You must have awkward conversations with strangers while your dogs smell each other’s bottoms.
and the Number One reason NOT to bring a dog on your travels....
Three words: POOP, POOP, POOP
Let’s face it:  There’s only one reason to bring your dog on your travels and it’s the reason you have a dog in the first place:
Unconditional love no matter where in the world you are!  
So, if you are bringing Fido along, here are some things we learned traveling with Ginger on this trip:
  • La Quinta Hotels allow any size dog and many other types of pets at no additional charge.  However, all La Quintas are not created equally.  The one in Pensacola was a motel with rooms opening to the outside which is little less than desirable for a family.  The hotel lobby smelled  so I passed on visiting the free breakfast.  Conversely, the La Quinta in New Orleans was an extremely clean hotel with valet parking in a safe, family friendly area and a very nice staff. We booked the AAA rate and for $89/night we got a spacious room that included a great buffet breakfast and a wonderful location within walking distance of all the fun stuff in the French Quarter and near the River.

  • Rest Areas are your friend.  Stop at each for potty breaks and leg stretches so the dog will be calmer in the car.

  • Comfort harnesses are a must for walking your dog safely and humanely in a city.  No strangled or accidentally liberated dogs on a harness’s watch!

  • Lastly, invest in some extra toys or treats for your dog so you can sightsee and eat dog-free.  A happy dog in the hotel room makes for a happy family at dinner.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tricks or Treats

“Best Halloween Ever!” exclaimed Wyatt on the morning of November 1st.  I was so relieved to hear those words.  
Every parent wants their kids to have happy memories and positive experiences in their lives, especially for holidays. As a room mom, I have spent many an hour preparing special arts and crafts activities and preparing for Halloween from stuffing treat bags to painting faces.  I am sure many Moms can relate.  So I was feeling a little guilty about our first holiday on sabbatical and away from our normal traditions and routines.  No Halloween party this year to kill myself planning and prepping. No decorating the house for trick or treaters.  No school treats to bake or buy.  No group arts and crafts to plan.  Sweet deal for this tired Mom, but our kids started thinking there would be no sweets for them at all.
Fripp Island is a great family vacation spot, but there are only 5 children residents.  Still, we thought it would be fun to go around the island trick or treating on the golf cart. One house said we were the first they had ever had on the island and quickly, scrambled to find the kids microwave popcorn and jello cups.  Very nice, but not exactly the candy haul the kids were used to.   Luckily, we have two sets of fabulous retiree neighbors that prepared special treat bags and pails for the kids.  Thanks again, Steve and Mary and Patti and Buck!  You are very thoughtful neighbors! just wasn’t a lot of fun like trick or treating in Carmichael Farms with our neighborhood party, costume contest, hayride and all the kids walking from house to house together.  Then, we had a great idea!  What if we go trick or treat all the haunted houses we passed on our Ghost Tour of Beaufort?  Wouldn’t it be so cool to trick or treat a real haunted house!

It was more than cool; It was AWESOME!  Beaufort folk KNOW how to do Halloween right!  Houses were tricked out with spooky surprises and their owners, in full costume, sat on their porches and welcomed each child, commenting on costumes and dropping haunting references.  Greg and I were very proud to hear several homeowners complimenting our kids for their good manners as any parent would be.

We walked the haunted streets of Beaufort as a local and loved it!  Thanks for making us feel at home Beaufort!  And thanks for a very happy Halloween!

Dead Men Tell No Tales.

One Home in Historic Beaufort Ready for Halloween

Right after I took this picture, the house ate the car!