Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

10:18:00 AM

On a warm winter day in February, my little sister, niece and I decided to take a drive and explore a little town we'd heard about recently, Berkeley Springs!
Berkely Springs, WV. is a small, historic town about an hours scenic drive from Frederick, MD.  The little town boasts one of the oldest spas in the South.  The Native Americans "took the waters" for their healing benefits, as did George Washington and several thousand others over the years.  Now Berkeley Springs is a State Park and folks from near and far can come enjoy the 74 degree warm springs that flow at nearly 1,000 gallons per minute!!!
In the summer visitors can enjoy the spring channels as well as the outdoor pool, and during Spring, Fall and Winter visitors can step inside one of the bath houses where friendly staff will tell you about the springs while filling large and small tubs (your choice) with further heated, pumped in, natural spring water for you to soak in intervals of 30min.  $25 per 1st Adult, $15 for each Adult after, feel free to call the Bath Houses or visit their website for more information.

Hanging in the bathhouse is this old photograph of children taking the channel waters in the summer time.  Too Cute!

This set up is in the Main Bathhouse.  A row of whirlpool tubs, sectioned off by walls and curtains for privacy, allow you time to soak in the pumped in natural spring waters and heat it to your desired temperature.

There are also massage rooms on the opposite side of the building.

In the Roman Bath House across the park, you'll find a different set up.  Here you'll find larger, deeper tubs, almost like private pools within slim rooms where you can also have natural spring water pumped in and heated for your soak.  You can certainly soak solo or invite a friend or two to soak.

Here is one prepared for a couple that was heading in as we were touring the facility.

George Washington's Bath Tub seemed a bit small for someone so tall and grand, but nevertheless, here it is:)  I'm sure it looked drastically different and a bit more luxurious in 1748!!!

You can also drink the water, in fact, it's highly recommended:)

Just past the park, you'll find the rest of  Downtown Berkeley Springs, a charming town with a melting pot of charming shops and restaurants.  Several antique stores, art galleries, a glass blowing studio, a cigar shop, an Olive Oil lounge, and a Himalayan Trading Post make up most of the commerce along the main drag where the springs are located.  

Tari's was our pick for the perfect lunch during our afternoon out!  Tari's doubles as a restaurant slash art gallery and of course I nabbed a photograph before leaving!  Iron work, paintings, and photographs make up the bulk of art you'll see on the inside.

I chose the Moroccan Chicken Naan Wrap and was sure glad I did!  This hearty sandwich was bursting with spices and the salad was the perfect accompaniment!

After lunch my little sister and her daughter and I enjoyed sharing a huge, soft, creamy slice of this Lemon-Berry Marscapone Cake, it was absolutely delicious, one of the lightest desserts I've ever had in my life!

Alexis Approved!

In fact, she was so thrilled with her experience she was inviting others in to do the same:)

Next, we ventured up to Berkeley Castle!  It had beckoned us all day, starring down on us from high above on the hill.

Berkeley Castle was the Wedding Gift of Colonel Samuel Taylor Suite to Rosa Pelham after his second attempt at winning her hand in marriage, five years prior she had turned the poor fellow down, but this time he persuaded her with the gift of a Castle in the town of Bath!  Colonel Suite hired famous architect A.B. Mullett to complete his grand vision and in 1885 the work began!  It took about 100 German masons to complete the castle and in 1891 it was finally finished!
The sad part- Colonel Suite died just before the castle was finished and in his will he stated that Rosa was to complete the task to inherit his fortune.  She did, and went on to throw lavish parties for her friends and family, but her extreme spending caught up with her and in 1909, at just 50 years old, her funds were depleted and the castle sold at public auction! 

The castle saw the auction block many more times over the years and lived many different lives!  Andrew Gosline finally purchased it and made it his business to restore the castle back to Rosa's time including filling it with period pieces and restoring it to it's former glory!

Sadly, it is closed to the public, but that didn't stop us from peering at it through the iron gates and snapping a few pics!  Afterall, how many castles are there to peek at nearby!

It was a wonderful trip and we'll be back, with our bathing suits of course!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Surviving the Holi-Daze! A Re-Cap and Tips for this Year!

12:44:00 PM
The Holidays came and went in a whirlwind, like it does every year!!!
Now it's January and what to do???  There are no more parties on the agenda, the bills are rolling in and it's colder than the Arctic outside!!!

Your life was full of holiday parties, holiday shopping, family, friends and lots of fun!  But it was also the most stressful time of the year.  I hope you didn't bite off more than you could chew.
Did you set a budget and stick to it, did you plan out your calendar and set yourself up for a holiday that met your needs, rather than everyone else's:)  If you did, Great!  If you didn't, there's always this year;)

I did a few things differently this year to set myself up for success during the Holiday's.

I started with my Holiday wardrobe.

Outfits- Reduce, Re-use, Recycle!  You ever have that moment when your going through your closet, pushing past each and every dress and your sighing to yourself- "Ugh, I have nothing to wear", well the cold, hard truth is-You Do!!!  So wear it and wear it well!  I didn't buy one new holiday outfit this year, instead, I re-wore a few things from earlier in the year and last year.  When you stock your closet with essentials, you can wear things over and over again and give them new life with something as simple as changing out a few accessories like jewelry and shoes and styling your hair differently! 

This is Steve and I at his Holiday Work Party, I'm wearing a dress I got at Anthropologie on sale in May that I wore to my little Brother's wedding earlier in the year:)  In May I dressed it down and paired it with a gold necklace, champagne sandals and a denim jacket and had my hair styled in an up-do for their outdoor wedding at the Red Rocks of Arizona.  This night I wore champagne colored stud earrings and champagne heels with my hair down to dress it up!  This dress was a classic at first sight, a true closet essential that can be worn to multiple festivities, throughout the year

This was our dear friend's The Colleran's Holiday Ancestral Dish Party, and all the guests brought a dish that has been a tradition in each of their families.  My amazing husband made a Lasagna and it won first prize!  Lasagna holds a special place in my heart, because it's the first dish my husband ever made for me and he is amazing at making it!  I cannot make a lasagna to save my life, but his always turns out ultra delicious!

Here I'm wearing an outfit I got on sale at White House Black Market last year to wear out to Valentine's Dinner, the black lace top paired perfectly with the rose colored full ball skirt and I wore a pair of Kate Spade black suede ankle boots my husband got me for Christmas a couple years ago.  Each piece is a classic for any occasion!  I've worn the boots to multiple functions with multiple outfits.  The top pairs perfectly with any skirt or high waist-ed pants and I can wear the skirt with multiple tops!

Next I looked at my Place.

For the Home, whether you have a family of one, two or ten, dress it up for the holidays!
Dressing your home up on the inside will keep you warm all winter long when your heading indoors because it's just too cold to go out!  My apartment acts as my sanctuary all year long, but when the weather is nice I try to remain outdoors as much as I can, during the winter I like to invite over friends, watch movies, curl up with my husband and warm up under the glow of the Christmas tree.

I tend to keep my tree up until the end of February to keep the house festive during the coldest time of year.  I did get a few new ornaments this year and changed out my decor to reflect a natural, forest feel using little animals all throughout my tree and in my decor.  I had a peacock tree for the last 10 years, so this year I made a change:)

I purchased this pair of little owls at Anthropologie the Christmas before last and they were the inspiration for adding more woodland creatures to my tree and decor.  I added feathers I've used for Fall over the years to the tree as well, little cottages, mice travelers, birds, swans, and raccoon bandits.  I added a few birch logs to the tree skirt to complete the look! 

I don't believe in changing things out every year.  I do believe in changing things out after every 10 years or so.  I only buy things that speak to me deeply, I make my purchases and use my items for years and years to come, many of my pieces I will continue to use for the next 10 years or more.
More woodland creatures found homes in my dining room along with my favorite pieces of local art:)

A snowy oil painting wouldn't be complete unless paired with forest animals and birch tree stumps!

Then I looked at Throwing Parties other than for Christmas or New Year's.

In early December I decided to throw a Baby Shower for a very dear friend of mine.  I wanted the shower to reflect the season and since I was holding it at my home, I needed the shower to blend with my decor.  I decided on a "Little Deer" theme for her arriving Baby Girl.  I prepared a luncheon/Tea for the party and purchased a few accessories for the table and the favors and banner materials from my local Michael's Craft Store, it was perfect!!!  (For the banner I purchased black large tags with pre-made holes, brown twine and gold sticker lettering.)

Instead of buying plates and cutlery, I used my antique china, flatware and glassware for the place settings and dressed the table using a tower for the cake and macaroons as the centerpiece!  For the party favors I purchased a pack of small gift bags and filled them with an assortment of Lindt and Godiva chocolates, something sweet:)

I also kept the shower small, for only a few close friends so it could be more intimate, and we could really catch up with one another.

I did find a pack of glitter deer antlers at one of my favorite stores in Lynchburg, VA. The Farm Basket that I couldn't resist!!!  Everyone loved them:)  I also LOVE to dress in the same theme of whatever party I'm throwing, so here I am wearing an outfit I purchased in the Spring, a light shirt with a long, flowing green skirt, paired with a bib necklace of leaves and my hair in a soft side bun, I matched a day of frolicking in the forest:)

And lastly, I looked at my busy work schedule and squeezed in a few days during the month for some Me time- Try out a new Event, a new Restaurant and Holiday Market or Two!

I had another friend come down from DC for a visit!  We went to two local Holiday Markets during her visit- The White Brick House's Holiday Market and the Downtown Holiday Hoopla.  They were a great way to kick off my Holiday Shopping and it was so nice to show her around town, show off my favorite places to shop and even take her to tea!

The White Brick House, Forest, VA.

The Conscious Mercantile, Lynchburg, VA.

The Ploughcroft Tearoom, Lynchburg, VA.

Usually our busy schedules don't allow for much wiggle room during the Holiday's but this year I was determined to set aside time for an afternoon to go out to lunch and see the Design House!  The YWCA's Central Virginia Design House ran from November 12-December 4th in a home in Downtown Lynchburg, VA.  I didn't get to see it last year, but I found time on one of the last days it was open to take a dear friend with me and we had a ball!!!  I look forward to going again this year:)

Some of the best designers in the region decorated spaces in the Design House and it gave the perfect opportunity to check out what they can do for you in your own space while supporting an amazing cause!  The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all!  Design and Empowerment- Yes Please!!!
Interiors by Moyanne did the front sitting room, High Cotton did the Dining Room, Gladiola Girls did the upstairs baby's room, Studio Eleven did the Mother-in-Law suite and The Farm Basket held a Holiday Pop Up Shop!  Many other area designers and artists contributed and it all came together beautifully!!! 


High Cotton

Gladiola Girls

The Farm Basket

That same day my friend and I visited the recently opened Locust Thicket for lunch.  Our meal was delicious and Chef Jason Arbusto engaged us with the menu and his vision for the Manor House Dining Room.  Be sure to book a reservation for an intimate dining experience with your closest friends or family, you will not be disappointed!!!

Holiday Shopping in town was divine this past Holiday Season!  Southern Provisions was dressed in Holiday Cheer, so much so, that I couldn't help but take home two little wool deers:)

Do you remember seeing them in my centerpiece for the Baby Shower featured above???

Visiting Virginia landmarks is also a MUST DO during the Holiday's because this is the time of year when everyone dresses up the place with festive ambiance!  After a wonderful reunion, wine tasting and delicious lunch at Pippin Hill in Charlottesville, VA. with these two Gorgeous Germans, my husband and I took our dear friends on a tour of nearby Monticello during their Holiday Open House!

They approved!!!

The Holiday Open House was a first for me, entry to Monticello was FREE and the Market was Open and bursting with Holiday Charm!!!  Several of my new ornaments came from here! 

The sugar cones and Chocolate is another Holiday MUST HAVE!!!

On another mild day in December my Mother and I met in Richmond for Vintage Holiday Market Shopping, lunch at CanCan in Careytown and a walk through the Decked Halls of Maymont!  It was a day of fun, beauty and the making of wonderful memories with my Mom:)

The many gardens and grounds of Maymont are as spectacular as the house itself!

The Holiday Market at The Richmond Raceway was Amazing!!!  Vendors and Goodies as far as the eye could see, I wanted it all:)  Definitely recommend for this Year!!!

Oh, the Holi-Daze!!!  A time of Cheer and Craziness all at the same time!  Enjoy a restful and relaxing January and February.  Get in lots of warm, cozy movie nights, catch up with friends and enjoy a splendid New Year!!!