Friday, April 17, 2015

April Events in Retrospect

This month has been a busy one for us. April 4th was the eighteenth birthday of our oldest grandson, Glenn. This is a picture of Glenn not long after he was born.
He was a very sick little baby as he has a condition we would later come to know was EE or Eosinophilic Esophagitis. He went from a healthy looking newborn to being emaciated and malnutritioned. The condition is very serious. It is one in which an allergic reaction takes place inside the esophagus, causing major inflammation and deterioration in the lining of the digestive system. 

In Glenn's case, he was allergic to pretty much every thing he ate, literally. The condition was identified and named only within the last two decades or so and Glenn's case was not diagnosed properly and treated for many years. We finally found a doctor at the Medical College of Georgia(now known as Georgia Regions) who recognized what he had and, in my opinion, is responsible for the life or quality of life Glenn has today. Up until that time, he regurgitated almost everything time he ate every day of his life. He would scream because he was in such pain after being given his bottle. Today he still has some issues but we pray he has outgrown the disease, though he has not had any tests for it for several years now. If you are interested in learning more about EE, you can go this site of Mayo Clinic. I think everyone, especially parents of newborns and children, should be made aware of the condtion so that they can be educated when seeking out diagnoses of symptoms similar to reflux but much more severe and painful!
Glenn chose to celebrate at  Kobe Japanese Steak. Celebrating at Kobe is always a blast and all the staff, especially the chefs are very entertaining. They always take selfies with the party guests.

You can see from the following group picture taken at Kobe how healthy Glenn looks today. He is the fellow in the back row, wearing the light pink shirt and cap. The lady sitting in the front row, wearing eyeglasses and red and denim jacket, is Jimmy, our son-in-law's grandmother, Marine, who is 92 years old, if I remember correctly. We are grateful that Jimmy, beside her in the lime green tee-shirt, was able to make it to his son's 18th birthday celebration. It is not easy for him, but he was determined to be there, in spite of his illness.
Young Glenn's Birthday Celebration at Kobe

Last Friday was the birthday of our other grandson Stephen. He is fourteen. Here is a picture of Stephen when he was an infant:
Here is another photo at one year old:

This is a picture taken on his birthday at home, where he chose to celebrate with a group of youth from their church and some other friends and family. He wanted to have a birthday bonfire on their property to celebrate and so that is what we did. He is your typical clown of a teenager, birthday candles in mouth and all!
I enjoyed some quality time with my son-in-law Jimmy this week. We had lots of good talks and shared precious moments reminiscing and enjoying each other's company.

My sweet grand dog, Champ, also seems to be happy to see me when I walk in the door. He knows he and I will be taking some walks outside. This week our walks were mostly in the rain, since it has rained every day here. Because it was so cloudy outside, he did a lot of snoozing. I tried to sneak up on him while he was sleeping, but those eyes would open every time and he would "smile" for the camera. This is our Champ:
Our Grand dog Champ
My grandson Glenn's hobby is raising a few chickens. He has been trying to hatch some chicks in an incubator and one finally cracked through its shell this past weekened. I asked Glenn what he had named the chick. Because the chick's legs are light in color, he thinks it is the chick of one of his "special" breeds. about which I know absolutely nothing. He says he hopes to sell it and that if he names it, he will become attached to it. Well, it is as cute as can be so I named it. Meet Peep:
 Peep the Chick 

A heat lamp is attached to the top of the big pot which is his/her temporary home. Peep's reflection can be seen on the inside of her pot and the little chick is interacting with it, peeping and pecking. You can see the reflection in this picture.
I made sure Peep had plenty of fresh water and chick feed every day. That little fellow is growing and changing quickly. Those darker feathers you see on its wings are now much more pronounced and there are more of them. That change took place over a span of just a couple of days!

My friend Harriette and I spent a few hours just hanging out and having a late lunch at Fatz Cafe. We then headed on over to get our hair styled at the nursing home. Yep, you read that right "the nursing home!" My daughter did my hair for years but her job as a school nurse keeps her so busy during the school year so I started having the cousin of my son-in-law, Hope, do it now. She is currently operating out of a shop located in one of the homes for the elderly here in Aiken. Hope is also an instructor at one of the beauty schools in our area. Does anyone else go to a nursing home to have your hair styled?

I can honestly say it is a unique experience and there is never a lack of entertainment. One sweet lady keeps coming by saying she is on her way to Hollywood and need to have her hair "poked." She is so cute and stops by at least twice every time we are in there. Others drop by, as well--over and over, There is never a dull moment! Hey, we have to see the humor in the circumstance. Who knows, it might be us in those shoes one day! Wouldn't that be a hoot!? We have decided that if we should forget that we know each other,i we can just keep becoming best friends over and over again every time we meet again! You never can tell, we might even make a trip to Hollywood every day!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Walt Disney World

If you read my blog you will know how important family is to my husband and I.
Family, to us, includes not just those family members who were born into the family but those who were acquired by love.

Our son-in-law, Jason, posted a photograph, taken by one of the Walt Disney World photographers, to his Facebook account this morning. It is one of my favorite and my husband and I have the same photograph on display in our home. It was taken on July 4, 2010 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I was inspired to post about the photo and why it is so special to our family.

It brings back many sweet memories of occasions when we all got together as family unit. Also, the trip on which it was taken was the last trip when Jason's grandmother Mable (Granny to all of us) joined us on a combined family vacation. Granny is no longer able to travel.

Our other son-in-law, Jimmy, had not yet been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Jimmy was his fun-loving, healthy and exuberantly happy self at the time the photo was taken. He is pictured kneeling on far left of the front row.  Matriarch Granny is third from the right on back row. Jimmy is kneeling on the far left of front row. They are both such an important part of our family.
Our Family Trip to Walt Disney World 2010
Also appearing in the photo are our two daughters, our five grandchildren and Jason's mother Kathy (back row second from right)and Kathy's husband Berry (Jason's stepfather). Berry is the man wearing the hat and sunglassess in the back of the photo. Jason's grandfather joined us at Walt Disney World when he was still living, as well as other members of our family such as my husband's sister Janet and nephew Brian. There are a total of fourteen family members in this particular picture!

Jason's family had also visited Walt Disney World and were very big Disney fans when our daughter Stephanie and he met in middle school. They became best friends and started dating years later in high school and through college!

Taken by one of Disney's photography cast members, the photo is captioned with the words "Where dreams come true." We do spend a lot of time dreaming  and planning vacations and about the things we will do and places we will go together.

Our  talented and smart son-in-law, Jason, is pictured on the far left of the back row. He designed the great looking tee-shirts we are all wearing in the picture! To celebrate the patriotic holiday, the colors were red, white and blue and announced our family was celebrating July 4th at Walt Disney World. The graphics on the shirts included our last names (five of them). Aren't they fabulous?! Thank you, Jason!  We were very blessed when you and your family members became part of our family! We love all of you and cherish the memories we have made together over the years.

Yes, we love Walt Disney World and all things Disney. More than that, we love our family and spending as much time as we can together, wherever and wheneever that may be. Walt Disney World is one of the places where our family has made many beautiful memories together and "where dreams really do sometimes come true!"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Linking Up to the Party with Carolyn at Home Work on the Inspiration Board

I am linking up to Creative Party 201 at Carolyn's Home Work blog. There are so many great projects being posted at the party. If you are looking for some creative ideas, this is a great place to find some inspiration!

Creative Party 201 at Home Work
Just click on the above link to drop in to check out my tutorial on making a stencil with your Cricut Machine and all the other  fabulous projects and creative ideas!

Now Sharing My Posts With Bloglovin

I am now sharing my Blogger posts with Bloglovin, since many of the blogs I follow use it to share their blog posts. I hope this will make it easier to share my posts and for me to receive updates on my favorite blogs that also use Bloglovin!

Saturday, April 4, 2015


To all my blogging and Facebook friends, I am wishing you a very safe, blessed and happy Easter!

Image Compliments of The Graphics Fairy

 It is written: God loves you!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

- King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Signs of Spring

Thankfully, some signs of spring just happen without any help from or work by the neglectful gardener, with whom I shamefully identify. Except for the happenstance pulling of a few, and I mean very few, weeds in my yard nothing has been done to improve the sad condition of it so far this spring.

I love violets and these sweet little blue flowers are among the first to bloom when spring arrives.
Spring  Violets
I noticed a plant growing in my yard last summer, but could not remember what it was nor when I had planted it near my deck. It had leaves much like those of a Catawba tree. Some of you might know that the Catawba tree is home to a caterpillar-like insect called the Catawba worm. There are those who reside in the southern United States that think these little "worms" make very good fish bait. Well, up until I noticed this thing blooming today I thought it was a Catawba tree. The leaves are no longer as large nor are they shaped like those of the Catawba tree. I now realize that it is something my friend gave me. An Angel Trumpet.
Angel Trumpet
I was puzzled about the change in the shape of the leaves, so I Googled it and, believe it or not, found that the leaves on the Trumpet Flower actually do change their shape sometimes. I was disturbed when I read on all the different websites I visited that all parts of the plant are extremely toxic to humans and animals. My granddaughters love to pick every flower in sight when playing in my yard, so I am going to have to think about whether or not to keep it where it is. In spite of the fact that it is poisonous, it is still a beautiful flowering plant.

Carolina Jessamine is a another welcoming assurance that spring has sprung down south!
Carolina Jessamine
The yellow bloom of this plant has a sweet and lovely fragrance. Some people may disagree, but I have always thought that Carolina Jessamine smells very much like baby powder. Unfortunately, all parts of this plant are also poisonous, though perhaps not as toxic as the Angel Trumpet. I remembered hearing this years ago, so I Googled this one as well here. It is one of the plants that deer will not eat, probably because of its being poisonous. Smart animals, deer! Okay T.M.I.,  I am starting to get a little depressed with all this!

The Dogwood tree is a southern favorite in early spring! It is one whose leaves appear pretty much after its blooms disappear. The leaves turn a beautiful red when fall arrives, so it has something to offer several seasons of the year.

Dogwood Tree
Another fragrant bloomer is the Tulip tree.

Tulip Tree
The tree is named Tulip tree because its scented flowers are shaped very much like an actual Tulip flower. 

Of all the flowering trees and shrubs in my yard, the Tea Olive shrub is my favorite. It is not a particularly showy plant, but its fragrance is the quality that makes it so remarkable and noteworthy. Its tiny white blooms fill the air with an intoxicating aroma, like that of  a rare and exotic perfume. It takes me away to another place and time. It is simply heavenly!
Tea Olive Shrub
These herbs which were planted in pots, I am pleased to say,  survived through the winter!
The blooms on my Blueberry bushes are a hopeful sign of a bumper crop to come!
Blueberry Bush in Bloom
God is so very good to have given us all these and many more beautiful blessings. He has awakened spring with its bountiful signs of life and new beginnings!

Song of Solomon 2:11-13
The Bride's Adoration
10"My beloved responded and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along. 11For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. 12The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Downton Abbey and Dressing Downton at Biltmore House and Gardens

It will come as no surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I am very fond of the history associated with the places that my husband and I travel with each other and with family and extended family. How and why certain places, be it historical towns such as this one or seashore treasures such as Saint Simons Island which I posted about here. Some of the places we enjoy visiting are associated with great American companies. The name Bush's Beans might well be familiar to many of you. My family enjoys the many varieties of Bush's Beans and so we were excited when the company opened up Bush's Family Cafe, Mercantile and Bush's Beans museum. The museum chronicles the history of this famous business. I posted about the cafe, the mercantile shop and factory and family history museum here and here.

It will also not surprise my blogging friends and Pinterest followers that I am especially fond of British drama and sitcoms. I love the old sitcoms such as "Keeping Up Appearances" and "As Time Goes By." I am addicted to the "Downton Abbey" series, which I have followed since it first premiered in the United States. I am hooked on watching the evolving times in the lives of the aristocrats who occupy Downton Abbey and in those who visit the occupants. The drama that goes on in the upstairs area is more than a little compelling to me. The drama does not end in life upstairs. What goes on in the lives of the servants, who either live downstairs within "the big house" or in cottages elsewhere on the estate, is every bit as exciting and interesting as that of the aristocracy. Maybe even more so!

All this has been leading up to my account of a place my husband and I visited last Saturday with my daughter, Stephanie, and her family. Stephanie, like her mother, is an avid fan of the Downton Abbey show too! I first visited Biltmore House in Ashville, North Carolina, close to a decade ago. I thought it was wonderful then, but this visit promised to be even better. Stephanie and I were both about to burst with anticipation waiting for last Saturday's visit. You see, Biltmore House and Gardens is currently hosting a Downton Abbey exhibit.  The exhibit is called "Dressing Downton." and features an awesome collection of original costumes worn by various characters from the series. These costumes are placed in many locations throughout the tour of the house! What could be more fabulous for anyone who loves the series? A visit to Highclere Castle where the series is set? Perhaps. That is something I would also love to do. Still, I have not heard about the costumes being on display at Highclere. The house at Biltmore reminds me so much of the pictures I have so often seen on Downton Abbey, both inside and outside.

It was a beautiful day on which to make our visit to the Biltmore. The weather was perfect. For those touring the inside of the house, taking photographs of the interiors is prohibited. I am posting some photos from one of Biltmore's websites advertising this wonderful display. This photo is one of the sharp-tongued and quick-witted Violet (the Dowager Countess) Grantham. The role of Violet is played by the extraordinarily talented Dame Maggie Smith. She is called Granny by the young ladies (her grand-daughters) at Downton Abbey in the series.
Maid and butler uniforms, such as those in the following photo, are also on display.
Lady-grantham credit
I could have spent all afternoon snooping around in the kitchen of the Biltmore. Some of my favorite scenes from the series are those that take place in the kitchen of Downton Abbey. In the kitchen area of the Biltmore, there is a uniform like the one which cook's assistant, Daisy Mason (played by actress Sophie McShera), wears as she works in the kitchen. I found this picture of Daisy wearing her uniform on Pinterest. 
Pinterest source
Lady Cora and Lord Robert Grantham:

If you watch Downton Abbey, you might recognize the costumes in the following pictures I am posting from the Biltmore House Estate website:




The above photos are of just a few of the costumes from Biltmore's "Dressing Downton" collection. There are a good many more to be seen on the tour of the house.

I was able to take some pictures in the section of the house containing various shops and restaurants. The fact that the outfit is enclosed in glass does not help with the quality of the picture. The next several shots were taken in the main gift shop, as well.
An Ensemble Worn by The Dowager Countess "Granny" Grantham
Another Picture of  the Dowager Countess's Outfit Behind a Photo of Her Wearing the Dress and Hat
This shot is of Downton Abbey themed merchandise, including an apron with the Downton Abbey initials embroidered on its bodice. Some replicas of china, lamps, service bells, candelabra and books related to Downton Abbey. Notice that great hat near the bottom of the apron! There were lots of different style hats for sale as well.
Downton Abbey Merchandise in Biltmore House's Downton Abbey Collection
Tea sets, tea and napkins. I love the picture/sign which states "My Second Home is Downton Abbey."
More of the Downton Abbey Collection of Merchandise at Biltmore House Gift Shop
There are Christmas ornaments, videos, picture frames and other items, as well.
Merchandise from Downton Abbey Collection at Biltmore House
There is even a collection of perfumes, but Stephanie and I were having so much fun seeing what each ladies fragrance was that I forget to take a picture of the perfume collection. There is a fragrance for each of the "ladies" who are in the series. I seldom wear much in the way of perfumes because I am a bit sensitive and tend to get a little stuffed up while wearing it anywhere near my face. Still, it would be fun to own some! We hope to make another trip up there in the near future and I might have to splurge on some. It would be fun to own a bottle!

We had a late lunch in one of the restaurants at the estate. The Stables Cafe' was previously the estate's stables. I took a picture of the area in the cafe' which shows where some of the stalls were located. You can see the iron dividers.
The Stables Cafe' at Biltmore House Estate
The food at the Stables Cafe' was delicious! My husband and I shared an item for two called the Stables Sampler, which included barbecued ribs, rotisserie chicken, pulled pork and vegetables. It was a good choice, but was much more food than either of us could consume at one sitting.

Now for some pictures of the outside of the house and grounds. This first picture is of our daughter, Stephanie's, family in front of the Biltmore house.
Biltmore House and Gardens in Winter
Architecture at Biltmore House and Gardens

Beautifully Elaborate Architectural Details on Window at Biltmore House
Statue on the Grounds of Biltmore House in Winter
Statue at Biltmore House in Winter
Statue at Biltmore House in Winter
Wonderful Old Wisteria Arbor at Biltmore House in Winter
Biltmore House and Gardens in Winter

There is now an area of Biltmore called Antler Hill Village and Winery. It has an ice cream and sandwich shop and a winery. There is a petting zoo and farm animals there, as well. After taking the Biltmore bus back to the main parking lot, we drove over to Antler Hill Village and Winery. We did not actually visit the winery. It was a three hour drive to get home and it was getting pretty late by the time we finished the house tour and had something to eat. Since the children wanted to visit the petting zoo and see the farm animals and horses, we went through the petting zoo and bought a treat from the ice cream shop before heading back home.

I took this picture of the mansion in the distance, through the window of our departing bus.
Biltmore House and Gardens
I took these pictures in the area of the petting zoo. These two goats were basking in the sun on top of a bench.
Goats at Biltmore's Antler Hill Village
Some chickens at Antler Hill Village.
Some of the Chickens at Biltmore's Antler Hill Village
A curious rooster at the Village. I took this shot through the fence as he was not roaming freely about.
Rooster at Antler Hill Village, Biltmore House and Gardens

These big beautiful horses are some of the residents at Antler Hill Village.
One of the Horses at the Biltmore's Antler Hill Village
Horse at Biltmore's Antler Hill Village

The history behind the house and gardens is quite interesting. Construction of the house began in 1889 and took six years to be completed. It is considered to be America's premier and largest residence. The house was built by George Vanderbilt. George Vanderbilt's only child, a daughter named Cornelia, married John Cecil and the house still remains under the ownership of the Cecil family.

You can read about the life and times of George Vanderbilt at this link. He was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Cornelius began his career as a steamboat captain, who eventually owned a fleet of boats. He learned this occupation from his father. He went into the railroad industry after the steam engine began to be used to power railroad trains. I found a short video (less than 4 minutes long) about Cornelius Vanderbilt and the amazing story of how he went from being a steamboat captain to becoming a self-made millionaire in the railroad industry. Cornelius Vanderbilt was also the major force behind the building of the original Grand Central Depot, which eventually evolved into Grand Central Station Terminal. You can watch the short but very interesting video at this link.

Are you enamored with all things Downton Abbey?  If so, a visit to Biltmore House and Gardens while Dressing Downton is still there might be something you would enjoy. The Dressing Downton event will run through May 25, 2015. I am not being compensated in any way for publishing this post about the Biltmore House and Gardens or for providing this link which contains the information about the event. You know how much I enjoy sharing interesting places to go and things to do.

A Couple of Tips:  This is a very popular event! Biltmore advises that you reserve your spot on the tour AHEAD of time. We were glad that we scheduled reservations for the tour a couple of days before we made our trip.  Be prepared to spend a couple of hours on the house tour as the tour lines are pretty long and move at a somewhat leisurely pace. Naturally, every one wants to see as much as possible of each area in the house on the tour. ALSO, be prepared to climb up and down many flights of stairs and/or steps. There are some small elevators, every once in a while. We did see a person or two who had to bow out early.

Friends, I do hope you enjoyed my post about Biltmore House and Gardens! I want to thank you for stopping by for a visit. Have a great week friends!