Charlottesville, VA

Our last stop was 10 or so days near Charlottesville, Virginia (we were in Nellysford, specifically).  This is the city where I was born, and we were able to be there over my 18th birthday, which was quite fun.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

We arrived at the rental house (have I mentioned how much I love VRBO?!) at, oh, 9-ish on Wednesday, the same day we’d toured the Capital

*Important urgent update*  I can’t remember everything we did and in what order it was done.  We spent some days just chilling, so I will recap the highlights in the order I remember.

The first day (Thursday) we drove by the hospital building where I was born (the hospital has now moved), Dad’s old work building, and Mom and Dad’s old home.  We also stopped by the home of some of our previous neighbors, and my first baby sitter.  🙂  We also did the necessary grocery shopping.

Friday was my birthday.  I chose to spend it quietly at the rental, and not go anywhere.  Dad and the younger children went in to town to get the car looked at, because the brakes were squeaking.  (We were staying up on a mountain, which was a *little* rough on the car.)  I opted to stay home.  I believe I updated my “About” page.  I painted my toenails a cute red.  And I made some AWESOME grain-free chocolate chip cookies, a recipe that I had gotten from a good friend.  They were so good, the batter even was good (one of my tests to see if a recipe will turn out).  We made pizza for dinner, and I made this delicious grain-free pizza crust.  LOVE it!

It had been a rather warm day, and we had had the windows open most of the afternoon.  We also had the front door open, as there was a storm door.  When we were just about done with dessert, Mom looked up and said, “Noah, was that you?”

Noah was loading a dish in the kitchen.

“Did you make that noise?”

Noah was peeking around the corner toward the front door.  “No, it came from over there.”

Mom sent Drake over to look.  Drake took a quick look. “Dad?  You need to come over here.”

Dad quickly marched over to the door and slammed it.  As the front door was glass, we could still see outside.  Dad flicked on the outside light, and it revealed…


A good-sized black bear had smelled the cooking and had come around to see what was going on.  He had opened the storm door (yes, you read that right) and was standing on the threshold, ready to come inside, but he hesitated and had turned around, which gave Dad time to shut the door.  He stood up on his hind legs and put his paws on the glass.  And pushed.

I must confess.  I was pretty scared.  Yes, my knees were knocking.  So before you peg me as being brave, imagine me standing around the corner, knees knocking, asking if *just maybe* we should call the police.


We did call the police, but by the time the police came (they came quite quickly), the bear had left.  While we were waiting for them to arrive, Mom noticed that the lights in the van were on.  After asking everyone, it was ascertained that no one had left the door open.  When the police came, they told us that it was the bear.  The bear had opened two doors on our van, and had rifled through the whole thing. 

There was dirt and pollen all in the car.  On. Every. Chair.

There hadn’t been any food in there, but the bear had helped himself to a few Kleenex boxes, a water bottle, a cup, and the wipe container.  He had put a few rips in the back seat of the car.

Sadly, I GOT NO PICTURES of the bear.  But I did get photos of some of his damage.


One of the Kleenex boxes


Apparently he liked wipes




He didn’t get the top off 🙂

The next day we went to Monticello, which was quite interesting.  It has beautiful views.  Given, there are beautiful views EVERYWHERE in Virginia.  But Monticello had beautiful views.


Heading to Monticello – Blue Ridge Mountains




The sundial




A hallway that goes underneath Monticello.  Monticello is built on a mountain (Monticello means Little Mountain), and things are built on levels as you go down the mountain.  The roof of part of this hallway is the terrace that comes out of Monticello.  Off to the right are the old slaves’ quarters (not down the hallway, but off to the right in the picture).  It’s a rather interesting set-up.  Anyways, down this hall is the wine cellar.


LOVE the blue sky!


The gardens


Some local grape juice that we purchased.  It taste like raisins.  Very…interesting.  I’d get the purple kind next time.  🙂

The next week Mom took us to Montpelier (Dad was working).  Montpelier was my favorite of the three president’s homes that we visited.  It was the least recreated, but it is just gorgeous.  And the view.  Oh the view.  (You’ll see it below).


We stopped at a scenic overlook on the way to Montpelier.  I believe this is looking toward Charlottesville.


More mountains




Pansies at the Montpelier Welcome Center




The view from Montpelier’s front porch


If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains.  They are 20 miles away.  B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.


Madison’s front door




In the gardens




Drake’s legs were sore, so he went to chill in the shade.  Meiling joined him.




On the way home

Mom took Noah, Meiling, and I to Market Street in Charlottesville to walk around.  It is blocked off so no cars are there.  It is chock full of cute little shops.


Market Street – The Mole Hole was a neat little shop


Mom loves giraffes.  🙂


When my parents lived in Charlottesville, they visited this restaurant often.  It was Sylvia’s Pizza then.  Now it’s Vita Nova.


We stopped at this little gelato shop.  It. Was. AWESOME!!!!


My ice cream.  I had a chocolate sorbet and a dulce de leche ice cream.  Oh my.  The dulce de leche ice cream was SO VERY VERY good.  I got one ice cream and one sorbet, so at least I was HALF good.  🙂


On the way home we stopped at a creek that ran along the side of the road, and I played with shutter speed.




On a walk with everyone


You’ve got to LOVE the view


King of the hill 🙂


This *officially* concludes all the posts about our trip.  I’m really glad that it’s done now, as I have some exciting things to post!  Well, I hope you enjoyed!



On to D.C. – Part 2

On Tuesday we went to Mount Vernon.  It.  Was. Gorgeous.  Mount Vernon is beautiful – the house is well kept, and the grounds are beautifully planted.  Also, the Welcome Center has an AWESOME museum underneath it, and we only got to spend a few minutes in it.

Wednesday we went to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capital.  The Library of Congress was beautiful.  They had a Gutenberg Bible there, which was really neat to see.  Also, they had some exhibits in the basement, one of which was about the Gershwins.  They had George Gershwin’s piano there!

Next we went to the Capital.  I really enjoyed the tour – seeing all the rooms that I had heard about and (risking sounding cheesy) only seen on T.V.  We were able to sit in the Senate chamber during one of the votes on gun control.  It was fascinating, at least for me.  Meiling didn’t find it that interesting, but she was such a good girl and sat quietly.  I was quite proud of her.  We were in the Senate chamber during several votes, which were so interesting to watch.  The senators were milling about, talking, and then it would be time for the vote.  The lady tallying the vote would look around the room, and the senators would just give a thumbs up or thumbs down.  Then, after a bit, she would read through the votes, and then start calling senators by name, and they would vote.  Then she would tally the votes.  It was interesting how almost disorganized it had appeared, with the senators in their groups talking, and the votes happening.

After we left the Capital, we drove the two hours down to Charlottesville, VA.

And now for the photos.


At Mount Vernon


Heading in




A walkway (wow, am I profound today!)


My boys


The view is amazing




Thyme.  I LOVE thyme.


The 8-sided wheat-treading barn


Library of Congress






This and the following photos:  The inside was GORGEOUS!














George Gershwin’s piano!


Walking to the U.S. Capital


The rotunda


The Jefferson Davis statue in Statuary Hall


I tried several views of the Capital, so bear with me.  It’s right up there with the Washington Monument.






On to D.C.

Next we went to D.C.  D.C.  was a whirlwind.  There is SO MUCH to see there.  Let me repeat:  THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE IN D.C.  If you ever get the chance, go.  If you don’t, make a chance, then go.  It was wonderful.

Anyways, we arrived at our hotel on a Saturday night.  We were staying about 45 minutes outside of D.C., in Herndon, Virginia.  (Yay!  We were now in my home state!  For those of you who don’t know, I was born in VA.)  The next day (Sunday) we went to church, then we went in to D.C. “to see what we could see.”  We ended up walking around a good bit, then we went to The Smithsonian Museum of American History.  Mom and I went to the First Lady’s dresses exhibit.  So many gorgeous dresses!  The boys and Meiling went to the American President’s display while we were looking at the dresses.  Dad didn’t want to go through the First Ladies’ Dresses exhibit again.  (He had accompanied Mom through that exhibit years ago when they lived in VA.)  We took a break to get some refreshments, and then Dad, Drake, Noah, and I went back to the American History Museum, and Mom and Meiling went to the Smithsonian Castle.  Meiling wasn’t really enjoying the exhibits.  🙂 

The next day we spent walking around D.C., visiting several monuments and memorials, The Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space, and Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Lots of walking.  I’m not sure if I had a favorite part from Monday.  It was all pretty great.

On Sunday we got Thai food from a restaurant a few minutes down the road from our hotel.  It was great!  We ate there twice.  Their fried rice, garlic chicken – I need to learn to cook like that.  Oh. My.  Mmm….it was SO good.  And so very different from Chinese, which is really amazing.  It looks similar, and Thailand is so close to China.  But it’s totally different.  In a totally delicious way.

Anyways.  Now for the photos.  I split D.C.  into two posts, because there is so much to cover.


Going into D.C. – Drake, being Drake


The Capital




(Ha ha.)


The Jefferson Memorial


Washington Monument


The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (I think)




The Smithsonian Castle


The Capital


One of the inscriptions on the front of The Smithsonian Museum of American History


This exhibit was great!  I could have spent longer in there.  When I saw there was a food exhibit, I HAD to go see it!




Monday – the George Mason Monument




The Washington Monument – I LOVED photographing it.  And I took lots of photos of it.  So you’ll have to bear with me.


The following photos:  The Jefferson Memorial








Meiling gave me a dandelion…


…and I wore it in my hair for awhile.




At the Air and Space Museum


(Read the caption in the photo)  Somebody has WAY more patience than I do.






…and Noah


Oh look!  The Washington Monument!


The World War II Memorial, with the Lincoln Memorial in the background




On the Pacific side – I got a foot in my picture. 


This has to be my second favorite photo that I took of the Washington Monument.


Resting before going to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing – I’m not totally sure what’s happening in this photo


Drake, being his normal self


There!  A smile




We went out to Red Hot and Blue for dinner on Monday.  It was pretty good.


Next time…


First Stop: Plymouth, MA

Sorry for the long time (for me) without a post.  We attended the Family Economics last week, and this week we’ve had a cold going around our home, which I now have.

So, yes, I am sick *again.*  (I am starting to think that I just might have a sluggish immune system – I get sick with every cold that goes around, or at least I FEEL like I do!)

Anyways.  Back to the subject at hand.

On our trip East, our first stop was Plymouth, MA.  We rented a house right on the Cape, which was lovely.  The view out of my window was the ocean.  I could hear it when I was lying in bed at night.  It was lovely.

We arrived there late Sunday evening, unloaded the trailer, and headed to bed.  The next day was spent unpacking, grocery shopping, and settling.



The view from my window.  Lovely, eh?


Random shot from the car window


Everyone else was having fried chicken for lunch, and I had this – smoked salmon, cultured butter, and rosemary-olive oil cheese (I can’t remember exactly what type of cheese it was).  The grocery store we went to had all this awesome food – cultured butter, cheese, and fun meats.  You see what floats my boat!

Dad took me down to the beach, which was a 3/10th of a mile down the road.  We spent some time walking around, chatting, and I took plenty of photos!  Even though it was rather chilly, it was fun.  And you can’t get a landlocked Midwesterner that close to the ocean without her getting to the beach!









There was lots of water running and making pretty patterns in the sand








Ocean!  Please come home with me!








This one’s from the next day, when we all went down to the beach together




I decided to get up at 5 one morning to take a picture of the sunrise.  Meiling insisted that she get up with me.  We went downstairs, and sat on the couch to wait.  Meiling immediately launched into this whole story about how Noah took this picture of himself blah blah blah blah.  I just sat back and told her she had WAY to much energy for 5 o’clock in the morning.  In the end, we didn’t get that amazing of a sunrise – it just got gradually lighter.


The next three days we spent with the Heroes, History, and Hope tour.  It was wonderful to hear the pilgrim stories and to stand where they had stood.  The first day we visited many monuments and sites in Plymouth.  Thursday was spent visiting the dock where the Mayflower II would have been (it was undergoing repairs, so we didn’t get to see it) and Plimoth Plantation.  Friday we went to the Forefather’s Monument and the pilgrim museum – I can’t remember the exact name.


Plymouth Rock




First Parish Church in Plymouth – this was the original church started by the pilgrims when they arrived in Plymouth.  In the 1800s, I believe, this church adopted Unitarianism…


…and then some people separated and started the Church of the Pilgrimage, which is right next door.  The Church of the Pilgrimage – this photo and the next.




Pilgrim sarcophagus on Cole’s Hill




At Plimoth Plantation




The Forefather’s Monument – it was really chilly when we were there, so we only stayed for 20 minutes instead of the two hours we had been hoping to.



Homemade Beauty/04: Mother’s Day Edition

Made this yesterday. Lots of fun! And Mom liked it.

{love+cupcakes} Blog




Happy Friday! Today I’m sharing an easy, last minute gift for mom. Body scrubs are some of my favorite homemade beauty products to make. They’re fast and inexpensive but super effective, and they can take on all sorts of scents and looks. I prefer sugar scrubs over salt scrubs because I find the sugar to be a lot more gentle on my skin. Salt is way harsh on cuts and freshly shaved legs (I know that one from experience. OUCH!), so sweet sugar is always my go to. I usually forego the essential oils in my personal sugar scrubs (out of laziness mostly), but because this is for mom, I suggest adding a little lemon essential oil for extra fragrance. Put your scrub in a cute jar and attach a small wood spoon with twine and a note to make this gift extra special. I have two friends celebrating mother’s…

View original post 333 more words


Sibling Sayings 7

Meiling, sitting in the family room, pretending to fly a plane.

Announcements before takeoff: …and your driver [pilot] is new, so, if we crash, we’ll…give you something.

Ya, not a good idea.


Breakfast Soup

I pulled a container of (what I THOUGHT was) chicken broth out of the freezer this morning.  I especially needed some nice, healing chicken broth this morning.  While it defrosted, I pulled out the various veggies out of the fridge and chopped them up for my soup.  Ah, some lovely scallion-ginger broth!

I had though that the broth looked a little funny, but hadn’t paid it much mind.  But when I sat down to eat it, I could tell it DEFINITELY wasn’t chicken broth that I had used.

It was chicken drippings.

Mom saves them to add to dishes that need a little added flavor.  And I had mistaken the whole container for broth.

Given, it LOOKS very similar, and they were frozen in the same type of container that we use for broth.

Oh, well.

It isn’t terrible – it is just rather tasteless.

Off to eat my soup –