Category Archives: Travel

Adventures in Hollywood – Day Two

The Stars Are Calling

The morning after our flight, fortified with eight plus hours of sleep I awoke to my first daytime view of Southern California.  I was struck by two things; the immense blue, blue  sky, and the mountains. These weren’t like the mountains in upstate Pennsylvania, the kind I was used to, all green and rolling, surrounded by miles of emptiness.  These mountains, crispy brown with scatters of scrub bushes appeared suddenly and incongruously at the end of a city street or grew along the side of a six lane highway.  This place was different and I was ready to explore.

Now, if you happen to be an “old Hollywood” fanatic, like me, and you find yourself in the Greater Los Angeles’ area your first sight-seeing stop is pretty obvious: Hollywood Boulevard, home to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame, so that’s where we headed. The trip from Burbank was only fifteen minutes and even though the traffic was insane, it wasn’t nearly as scary as the ride from the airport.  Maybe it was the daylight or the lack of headache, but I also noticed that Los Angeles drivers accepted the fact that you couldn’t travel without cutting across multiple lanes and squeezing in and out of spaces while doing 70. Kyle zig-zagged in and out without attracting rude gestures, horns or squealing breaks, not at all what I had come to expect in Jersey!

Arriving downtown, we realized that Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off for a movie premiere, something Kyle said happens quite frequently. We had to park a few blocks over and walk to the theater which was fine because we passed Mel’s Drive-In, the Wax Museum and several other really cool sights on the way.  By the time we reached the famed footprints in front of Grauman’s, I was positively giddy!!

The Theater, and me enthralled by the footprints!

The outside of the theater itself is quite beautiful. It is a style of architecture that recalls a forgotten era, very ornate and over the top.  The courtyard, in front, was much smaller than I had imagined it being (and believe me, I’ve been imagining it ever since I was a teenager and got hooked on Hollywood’s glamorous hey day). I moved from one to another totally in awe, these awkward cement squares, some of the older ones held together with metal frames,  crammed together in no particular order. Each one bore the footprints or handprints of famous people who only seemed half real to me. I searched for my favorites; Jimmy Stewart, (whose hands and feet were twice the size of mine), Paul Newman (barefoot?) and Joanne Woodward, Cary Grant and Clark Gable!  They had been in that actual spot and written those actual words! Geeky, I know but I was star struck!!

After that, it only got better.  We strolled up the street checking out the stars on the Walk of Fame, while side stepping both people trying to give us free music tapes and costumed entrepreneurs charging money to pose for photos.  We saw a Captain Jack Sparrow, Spider-Man and Batman in the span of one block! There were also several types of food for sale, being cooked right at the curb on portable grills.  You couldn’t have paid me enough to try any, but it did smell really good. I didn’t realize there could be so many colors and music and interesting people all in one place!

Stars and the mall complete with a set piece from D.W. Griffith’s film “Intolerance”

Kyle said he knew a good place from which to view the Hollywood sign (also at the top of my list) so we headed into a courtyard shopping mall with elevators that brought us up to a bridge looking out onto the Hollywood hills and there it was! So cool!  See how excited I was…

For the rest of the week, it was hard for me to get used to seeing it every time you turned a corner.  I’m pretty sure Linda and Kyle got tired of me shouting “Look!  There’s that sign again!” After our photo shoot on the bridge,  we strolled along Hollywood Boulevard  a bit more checking our the many gift shops and purchasing the first of many souvenirs. Linda has seven grandchildren so she needed a lot of souvenirs!

Kyle doing his best Spider-man pose and me channeling my inner Fay Wray!

When we were finally done with all that excitement, Kyle showed us his apartment in the Los Feliz section of the city, then took us to one of his favorite restaurants,  Spitz for an excellent Mediterranean lunch.  The fries were amazing, covered with some decadent secret sauce and the wraps were so big that Linda and I took half of ours home in case we wanted to finish them for dinner.

That, as it turned out,  is exactly what we did a few hours later exhausted and tucked away in our Burbank nest.  Kyle had Ubered home to his apartment, claiming that one night on that couch was enough to last a lifetime.  Linda and I carried our wraps and our much needed glasses of wine into the living room, put up our feet and planned our next adventure!


If We Were Having Coffee…Rainy Sunday


If we we were having coffee…I would hurry you in out of the wet weather and quickly hand you a cup of something warm.  It’s really that kind of day. Yuck! It’s hard to complain though because yesterday and Friday were really nice.  I’m hoping we have left the truly frigid  weather behind. This afternoon I’m going to see a movie with a friend but for now I have some time to visit.

So what’s up? Has life been calm or stressful for you this week? I hope you found some time between all the “have to” for some “want to.” The D-man and I were fortunate enough to be able combine those two this Friday.  He “had to” go to Atlantic City for a workshop but we “wanted to” have a little get away so I tagged along!

Atlantic City is only about a fifty minute drive for us so we were able to leave right after work and get there in time to check in and walk around a bit before his first training session at 6:00.  We stayed at Ballys which is one of the older hotel/casinos in AC, built in 1979,  but I like vintage so it quite appealed to me. Our room was on the 20th floor and faced the ocean which was amazing! Also amazing was the opulent bathroom with gold faucets, a large soaking tub and another huge window looking out onto the beach!  Pretty fancy stuff for the likes of us but it’s fun to live large once in a while.  We were able to splurge because January is the off season, so room rates are very reasonable.

While D-man was busy learning stuff, I explored the area…and got lost.  The hotel is designed to be a huge winding maze mostly, it think, intended to lead you from one gambling area to the next.  I imagine Las Vegas is set up much the same way. All the nearby casinos and hotels are attached so I kept ending up in different ones.  There are also very few windows. It’s  like you’re in an alternate universe instead of just steps from the beach.  Another thing  I noticed is that the only places to sit down are in the bars, the resturants or the casinos.  They don’t want you relaxing somewhere that they can’t make any money! Not a problem for me because I got my frugal genes from my daddy. I don’t part with my money that easily!

I totally meant to take this duo photo of me in our room and the view outside!😊

Later on my handsome hubby and I had a late dinner at Gordon Ramsey’s Pub next door at Caesars.  The food was really good (sea scallops served over risotto) and since our table looked out on the indoor mall so we were able to people watch while we ate.  This might not come as a surprise, but there is an incredibly eclectic populating hanging our in Atlantic City!  We really enjoyed imagining the stories behind some of the interesting people we saw, knowing that our own story was quite boring in comparison!

After dinner we wandered around checking out the different casinos (my favorite was a massive area set up to look just like an old fashioned western town, complete with saloons, poker tables and an elevated mine car track!) then headed back to our room to enjoy a night cap and the view.  The boardwalk below was glowing complete with a neon Ferris wheel and the lighted hotels stretched out all along the edge of the ocean. Even though I prefer my beaches much more natural, it was still breathtaking.

I felt only a little guilty the next morning, sleeping in while the D-man headed off to a morning workshop.  He’s an early riser anyway.  I lounged with my coffee, packed up and around 10:30 we headed back to reality.  After all that opulence, I felt like such a commoner shopping for groceries that afternoon!

So that was my mini adventure this week.  Now, we have some time for you to share yours

If we were having coffee…I would warm up your drink and get you something sweet to go with it. Then you could tell me all about it. Maybe you can just tell me in the comments below instead. 😉 Afterwards you should definitely hop on over to Eclectic Allie’s  and check out the rest of the Coffee Share Posts.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a great week!

Adventures in Hollywood – Day One

Nancy and Linda Fly the Friendly Skies

When my sister Linda and I first hatched our crazy plan to fly clear across the country by ourselves we actually felt pretty confident. We had no worries about enjoying the destination.  My nephew Kyle has been living in Los Angeles for seven years and my sister has been out to visit him once before. She knew what to expect and I knew he would take care of us, driving our rental car and showing us all the touristy sites.  In addition, we were not worried about our accommodations because we were staying in the same little apartment in Burbank that Linda had rented during her last trip six years earlier.  We knew it would be clean and safe and in a good location.  We didn’t even care about sharing these close quarters for a week because even though there is a 12 year difference in our ages (she the oldest of four, me the youngest) we have always gotten along famously.  We have the same personality type, decidedly introverted but with a side of adventure. We share the same sarcastic sense of humor, eating habits and taste in wine.  In fact, my brother-in-law often claims that we share a brain.

So it was with excited anticipation that we planned our adventure.  We had just one obstacle and one big worry…getting there.  It wasn’t a fear of flying that gave us anxiety.  We both really enjoy the actual flying part. . It was more a fear of arrival times and baggage claims, of security checks and boarding passes. In addition to sharing a brain,  my sister and I also share a phobia of rule breaking.  The idea that we would be late or get pulled out of line for an infraction of the security rules, which are much stricter since the last time either of us flew, had us both nervous wrecks. Linda alleviated her anxiety by scouring the internet.  Every few days I received another link to another site with tips for stress free flying. Personally,  I went straight to the horse’s mouth, or rather to my friend Donna who has flown more miles than she cares to remember both for work and pleasure.  She sent me a nice long email detailing what we could do to make the flight and check in easier.

When the time arrived for us to finally embark it felt like we had prepared all we could for our 5:45 flight out of Philadelphia. I even arranged to leave work early just in case of traffic. Our  bags were packed (although Linda was sure she was going to be over the 25 pound limit for checked bags); our carry-ons were filled with books and food (in clear zip lock bags); we were wearing slip on shoes  (in case we needed to remove them for security), and socks (because airport floors=gross);  we were without cumbersome scarves, jackets or necklaces so we could plop our stuff into those plastic bins with ease and once through security, we planned to buy large bottles of water to drink on the plane to stay hydrated.

So we were ready, right?  Worries and anxiety in check, right? Not really.  We still kept imagining everything that could go wrong.  Linda worried more than me, always has.  I think it’s a birth order thing.  Any-hoo, the departure day finally came. We arrived at the airport hours ahead of our flight, checked our bags quickly and easily (she had a 1/2 pound to spare, mine was 10 pound lighter-I know how to pack!), and sailed right through security, without even removing our shoes.


It was sort of anticlimactic. We just looked at each other and thought,  “That’s it?” No pat down? No bag searches? No suspicious looks?  The most difficult part was trying to figure out how to print our baggage tag  from those annoying little kiosks they use now. My kingdom for a real, live person with a pen and paper!! Oh, and we also sat at the wrong departure gate for an hour (long story) but we figured it out in plenty of time.

The five hour flight was a little cramped but fine.  The flight attendant did get sort of snippy when we asked for wine.  Apparently they had to wait “till we reach cruising altitude.” Yeesh!  She obviously didn’t realize how badly we needed that wine! Anyway, finally around 9pm (12am without the time change) the lights of the Greater Los Angeles area appeared below and we began our decent.

We had been warned by several people about how crazy LAX could be but we actually found it easier to navigate than the Philadelphia Airport had been.  We found our luggage and my nephew Kyle, who had Ubered to the airport, in no time at all.  A shuttle took us to the Hertz Rental Center where we signed in and were sent to pick out our rental car.  It’s a nice idea, really, giving you the choice of all the cars in the lot but in the dark after a long day I would have preferred someone just hand me the keys.  Since Kyle was going to do most of the driving, we let him pick.  By this time, I had a crashing headache and was just ready to climb in the back seat and nap. It was probably due to stress…or the wine…or the fact that I’d mostly had wine for dinner.  I could blame it on the dry air on the plane but that’s unlikely. Anyway, my introduction to the insane L.A. Traffic and all the zigging and zagging involved was not fun and I was grateful to make it to our cute little Burbank apartment without hurling in the back seat of the rented Toyota.

Day one down.  Technically, I guess, it was already day two since it was around 1am.  Linda and Kyle decided to stay up for a while and catch up. Me,  I crawled into my pjs and into the nice comfy bed thankful for the peace and quiet. I was asleep in minutes, dreaming of all the adventures to come.

Watch out Hollywood. The Sisters have arrived!


Our Burbank Abode and the snazzy rental car.



If We Were Having Coffee….8/7/16

imageGood Morning!

If we were having coffee…on this beautiful Sunday morning I would welcome you in and offer you a cup of freshly brewed French roast or some hot tea if you prefer. Perhaps you would like something cold instead like orange juice or iced tea? The thermometer is reading 97 degrees, of course that’s on the front porch which is directly in the sun at the moment.

You might happen to notice that even though the air is on, the screen door is open, something that would freak the hubby out if he weren’t 90 miles away on a fishing boat. I know it’s very wasteful but hear me out. Miss Dee is still asnooze upstairs so if I turn off the AC she will melt  (it is much warmer up there than down here in the summer), but there is such a beautiful blue sky and I’m going nuts being in a hermetically sealed environment day after day so I couldn’t resist opening the door for a bit. Just listen to the birds and smell the fresh air! Ahh!

I suppose I could haul us all out to the back deck but I’m still in my jammies at the moment and that might make the neighbor gardening in his yard a bit uncomfortable. We will close it in a bit, I promise. Just don’t tell D-man if you see him, okay? As I said, he is in Cape May fishing at the moment. He has a friend who owns a house and a small boat he keeps down there so occasionally he will call and invite my hubby to join him for the weekend. He quite enjoys it. I find fishing a snooze, but that’s me. I do always tell him that if he catches any of those rare filleted fish with their heads already removed that he can bring them home for me to cook. 😉 I do love to eat fish. So far, though, he hasn’t had much luck.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you about your week? That’s the best thing about the Coffee Share; hearing about all the interesting things you all have gotten up to. You would probably ask me about my week as well and I would tell you that it has been pretty busy and quite exciting!

I would tell you that Monday and Tuesday were routine.  I did do my volunteer gig at the charity thrift store downtown on Tuesday afternoon, but the rest of the time was taken up with odds and ends and getting ready for our trip on Wednesday. “Where to?” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you…

Back in June, for Father’s Day, I gave the hubby tickets to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. It’s his favorite show, but I admit, it was kind of a self serving gift since I gave him TWO tickets and he knew he had to use the other one on me (or else😊). Washington is about a three hour drive for us so we left at 11:00 and arrived in time to check into our hotel. We stayed at the One Washington Circle Hotel right in downtown DC. I was able to get a really good discount on the room because we belong to AAA motor club. I can’t say enough good things about this place. It wasn’t incredibly fancy and could probably use some up dating but the rooms were clean and spacious and the staff was uber friendly. It was also perfectly situated because a half block away, there was a shuttle bus stop to the Kennedy Center where a free shuttle stopped every 15 minutes. It made getting to and from the theater super easy.

Needless to say, the show was excellent. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. This is our third viewing. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music is so beautiful and haunting and the story is intense. The two and a half hours just flew by. Here is a clip of one of my favorite songs:

After the show, we went back to the hotel for a night cap and then the next morning, after a bit of sightseeing including a walk to the White House, we drove an hour further south to visit some friends in Stafford, Virginia. We enjoyed a lovely day there with them and their 17 cats (yes, I said 17)!

I told you a bit about this friend last summer. She and I have been friends since we were wee ones and were lucky enough to breath new life into our friendship during a trip she and her husband took up here to New Jersey last August. They have never had children but their kitties are their family and she helps out the local rescue shelters by taking in kittens that have been abandon. She has two little ones now that still need to be bottle fed every six hours! Usually, they find new homes for the cats but some tend to stay.  I have to tell you though, we have indoor cats so I know that odor control can be tricky sometimes, but their house did not smell like a house with 17 cats! I don’t know how she does it.



They have two, a brother and sister named Max and Maxine that are Maine coon cats and have and extra toe on each paw. What beauties they are!! I fell in love. Miss Dee would have tried to pack them in her suitcase, if she had been there.

On Thursday afternoon, they took us for a tour of their retirement home that they are building out in the country, about 45 minutes away from their current home.  It should be done in September and is quite lovely with plenty of room for all their feline friends. Afterwards we had dinner at a near by restaurant and then headed back to their place for coffee and dessert. She makes the most wonderful apple cake! On Friday morning, after breakfast, we headed home. It really was a great couple of days and I was sad to get back to routine living, but I must admit I was missing my kids a bit.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that this Wednesday, the whole family is off for our annual three day camping trip to upstate Pennsylvania. If you stop back next week, I can tell you all about that!

In the meantime, I hope you have a great week filled with both excitement and simple pleasures. Thanks so much for stopping by and don’t forget to catch up with the rest of the Coffee Share posts hosted by the lovely Diana at Part Time Monster.

The Weekly Smile – Girls’ Getaway!

Taken with Lumia Selfie

Beach selfie! Notice Miss Dee’s sunburn! Ouch.

Last summer, Miss Dee and I started a new tradition that I hope will last for many years- a girls only beach get away! She and I both appreciate lazy days by the water. You know, no schedule, no plans, just sunshine, people watching and a good book. The boys in our family-not so much. They need to be moving, going places and doing thing. They want a plan!😳 So we left them at home and escaped to Hubby’s stepmom’s condo at the Jersey shore for a few days of  kick-off-the-summer downtime. [Summer Bucket List item #1]

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and managed some pool time before the rain came. We then endured a night of thunder storms, straight line winds and no power for six hours before Wednesday arrived with its abundant sunshine. This is more or less my MO at the shore so I was not surprised. I was happy that the bad weather was limited to Tuesday!

On Wednesday we slept in, meandering down to the beach (a block from the condo) around 10:00 and enjoyed the sand and the water before the beach began to fill up. Then it was back to the condo for lunch and a few hours by the pool. The weather was perfect, just enough of a breeze to keep the heat bearable and the pool water was so refreshing. An added bonus was the fact that We had the pool all to ourselves. I guess everyone else was on the beach.

Around 3:00 we were starting to feel crispy so decided to shower and drive across the bridge [Summer Bucket List item #2] to the neighboring town of  Cape MayThis quaint shore town is famous for its beautiful Victorian homes (some now used as B & Bs) and downtown shops. We did some window shopping, stopped for a bite to eat, and then strolled around “Congress Hall,” a wonderful old hotel built in 1816 that sits just off the beach. It is said to be America’s oldest seaside hotel. Miss Dee and I are both history buffs so we “oooo-ed” and “ahh-ed” our way around the elegant lobby and verandas. Maybe someday I will be willing to pay to actually stay there but until then I will just imagine what it would be like!

image image image image

By 8pm we were running out of steam so, after stopping by the sweet shop for a box of salt water taffy because, hey, it’s the Jersey shore and you just don’t go home without taffy, we hoofed it back to the car. Our plan had been to spend another night at the condo in Wildwood and then head home Thursday morning since Miss Dee had to work that afternoon, but the weather report was predicting more storms in the morning and we had had quite enough of that! Instead we stopped back at the condo, packed up the car (it is ridiculous how much junk we packed for three days!) and headed on home that night.

Goodbye Jersey Shore! We had a wonderful adventure. The very best part, of course, was spending time with my favorite girl. I figure I better squeeze in these trips while I still can. I am hoping we can make another beach run this summer. Maybe we will even let the boys come next time. 😉

imageThe Weekly Smile is brought to you courtesy of “Trent’s World.” Don’t forget to stop by and check out the rest of the smiles or maybe even leave one of your own!

Elephants on the Brain

Lately I seem to have elephants on the brain. It’s not as uncomfortable as you might think. I like elephants. In fact I find them to be amazing, soulful creatures and, sure, I think about them now and then but I’m not usually pondering pachyderms quite as often as I have been over the past few weeks.

It all started a few weeks ago with Charlie at Doodlewash who created this cute little baby elephant . His handsome pachyderm (titled “Baby Elephant Walk”) reminded me of a really corny old film with Elizabeth Taylor called “Elephant Walk” in which an angry herd of elephants demolishes a house that an arrogant plantation owner builds right across the middle of the path they take to reach their water hole. Personally I think the elephants were more than justified. On an entirely unrelated note, Liz Taylor sported a pretty amazing wardrobe for a woman living in the middle of a jungle.

Anyway, back on topic…A few days later  while reading the local paper I came across an article about another elephant, this one is a bit of a local celebrity. Her name is Lucy and I thought since I seem to have elephants on the brain and since Lucy is by far my favorite elephant (sorry Charlie) that I should introduce her to all of you as well!

Meet Lucy…imageIsn’t she something?!

Lucy lives in Margate, NJ, Just west of Atlantic City. Here is a little background information about her and James Lafferty, the man behind the elephant!

“In 1881, the U.S. Patent Office granted (James) Lafferty a patent giving him the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for 17 years. Lafferty paid for the building of his first elephant-shaped building at South Atlantic City, now called Margate. He employed Philadelphia architect William Free to design the building and a Philadelphia contractor constructed the structure at a cost of $25,000 – 38,000. Originally named “Elephant Bazaar”, the building is 65 feet (19.7 m) high, 60 feet (18.3 m) long, and 18 feet (5.5 m) wide. It weighs about 90 tons, and is made of nearly one million pieces of wood. There are 22 windows and its construction required 200 kegs of nails, 4 tons of bolts and iron bars, and 12,000 square feet of tin to cover the outside. It is topped by a howdah carriage, also known as a hathi howdah.

Lafferty brought real estate customers up a narrow spiral staircase from within the elephant’s body to the howdah, where he could point out real estate parcels available for sale. Lucy’s head shape identifies the building as an Asian Elephant, and its tusks as a male. In its first few years, the elephant was referred to as a male, but today it is now generally considered to be female.

The structure was sold to Anton Gertzen of Philadelphia in 1887 and remained in the Gertzen family until 1970. Sophia Gertzen, Anton’s daughter-in-law, reportedly dubbed the structure “Lucy the Elephant” in 1902″.


Lucy in the 1950s or 60s

Lucy in the 1950s or 60s

Over the years, Lucy has been a restaurant, business office, apartment and tavern. By 1969 she was really showing her age and the City had her scheduled for demolition but a group of locals (who apparently also had “elephants on the brain”) formed the “Save Lucy Committee” and raised enough money to have her moved to a bigger space closer to the ocean and to restore her to her original glory. Can you imagine watching a six story elephant being towed down the street?! That must have been a site to see!


imageThere is a narrow spiral staircase built into Lucy’s rear leg that takes you up to the interior of this unique building where a large room with a vaulted ceiling is filled with memorabilia. A second spiral stairway leads up to the observation deck that affords wonderful views of the ocean and the New Jersey coast.




Spiral staircase inside Lucy’s leg

View from the howdah

I’ve  been to visit Lucy more times than I can count and so have my children. We always find it impossible to see her and not smile. I guess she is such a totally unexpected surprise…so unique!

Having elephants on the brain is a pretty cool thing after all!

Here is a really great website about Lucy in case you want to learn more:

This post has been added to the Leisure Link at Perspectives On. Hop on over to check out some other post about great leisure activities!

Hanging Out With George Washington

This weekend we ventured north to Chads Ford, Pennsylvania and the Brandywine Battlefield Park. It was here that George Washinton fought William Howe in one of the largest battles of the American Revolutionary War. Some friends were visiting from Virgina, one of them a retired Marine Sargent. He is into all kinds of Military history and my family just loves history in general so this was the perfect outing. The site is nestled among beautiful rolling hills but since the day was very hot and humid we decided not to walk the miles of actual battlefield. Instead we toured the museum/visitors center and the two homes that sit on the property.

We started by watching a short film about the Battle of Brandywine. Although this was not an American victory,  it was where the American army first showed itself to be a formidible and capable force. It was also here that a 19 year old French soldier named Lafayette first saw action.  After the film we checked out the many artifacts that have been found on the property, everything from cannon balls to personal items. They also had replica uniforms and of course a gift shop!

Next we toured the Benjamin Ring home. This house was used as George Washington’s headquarters for three days prior to the actual battle on September 11, 1777. Mr Ring was a Quaker and had tried to stay out of the conflict but he and his sons eventually sided with the Americans. The home that stands on the property now is a replica that was constructed in the 1940’s after the original was destroyed in a fire. image
imageI love the beautiful stone exteriors so typical of historic homes in this area. We were told that Mr Ring owned several mills along the river and was quite wealthy by Colonial standards. The young man who gave us the tour was very knowledgeable but we all agreed that he spoke much too fast! Maybe it was the heat. 😰 One interesting fact he shared was that the little structure jutting out the back of the house is called a “beehive oven” and it is where Mrs Ring would have spent one day each week baking the 56 loaves of bread required to feed her family! Busy woman! There was also an underground ice house out back where the family would store large blocks of ice hauled from the river each winter. They would pack the ice in hay and use it to keep there foods cool during the warmer months.

Here are some photos of the other homestead on the property which was owned my another Quaker gentleman Gideon Gilpin and his family. We were not  able to go inside but even the exterior of the buildings were quite charming.




I was really taken by these little steps that were built into the wall surrounding the property. What a clever chaps those colonial farmers were!


This amazing white oak was growing in the yard next to the  Gilpin house. The plaque next to it says that it is believed to be over 200 years old! That’s my Hubby in the photo giving the tree some scale although it looks more like he is giving it a hug! The branches were spread out in a huge canopy above our heads. It was breathtaking!


We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the grounds and then rounded out the day with a stop at the Chaddsford Winery where we listened to music and sampled some local wines. All in all it was a lovely day and it was even educational!  I highly recommend it.  For more information visit here: Brandywine Battlefield Park.


A Night in a Castle

 Summer Bucket List item #1. Technically, it was an overnight trip and not a day trip but I think it still qualifies! 😊

Last week Hubby, Miss Dee and I took a road trip up north to The Castle at Skylands Manor in Ringwood NJ. The building itself was built in the 1920’s but was designed to resemble an old Tudor castle. Really cool! Surrounding the castle are the most beautiful botanical gardens. The land and buildings are owned and cared for by the state botanical society and offer year round tours and events. The Castle at Skylands functions as a bed and breakfast and an amazing wedding venue for some very lucky couples. The inn keepers also run the catering business for any of the affairs held there.

Here are some shots of the exterior of the building…

castle facade 2


And the interior…

I kept visualizing Scarlett O’Hara coming down this stairway!

breakfast roomMiss Dee enjoying her breakfast in the sun room.

This is a small peek at the gardens.  The grounds were huge and every corner you turned revealed another statue, fountain or display of plants with a quiet little bench from which to enjoy the view. There were only a few blooms this time of the year so we all decided we needed to make a return trip in the spring.

arborfountainbutteflies in flightlong pool 2bridge fountain 2liliesrear patio 2water lilyvisitors centerThis ivy covered cottage serves as the visitors center and this little hobbit-like house…

pump house.. is where the pumps for the fountains are hidden!  Miss Dee was ready to move in!  All photo credits, by the way, go to the lovely Miss Dee (except of course for the one photo she is in).

The staff at the inn was very helpful and pleasant and the rooms are full of character.  If you are looking for modern conveniences though you will probably be disappointed.  There are no phones in the rooms, no refrigerators, no bar or restaurant on the grounds and breakfast was your typical continental fare, muffins, bagels, juice and coffee.  We drove into the town of Ringwood, about 3 miles away, for dinner.

All in all I would definitely recommend a visit to Skylands Manor, especially if you are interested in history, or botanical gardens or just a really romantic get away. I know we will be going back!

Check out their web site for more information:

A Day at The Met!

This Saturday Miss Dee and I took a trip to the Metropoliton Museum of Art in New Your City.  We traveled by bus, not usually my favorite mode of transportation but it was actually very nice. Our driver and tour director couldn’t have been more helpful, efficient and entertaining. Of course our very first order of business was to take a selfie on the bus!    selfieDon’t we look happy!? Anyway, this was our first trip to the Met so I did a little research first. Here’s what I found out:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially The Met), located in New York City, is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the ten largest in the world.[7] Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments.[8] The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s Museum Mile, is by area one of the world’s largest art galleries.

When we got there, we could see what a truly imposing building it was…




Here is some of the building’s beautiful architecture.

The collection is so endless, we knew we would only be able to see a small part of it so we decided to concentrate mostly on the American Wing.

This area is called The Charles Engelhard Court and it anchors the American Wing, added in 1924, to the main building. The graceful statue of Diana that stands in the center was designed by artist  Augustus Saint-Gaudens as a finial for Madison Square Garden.

At each end of the court are two very different architectural elements. One is this beautiful loggia or porch from the Long Island home of Louis Comfort Tiffany:

more tiffany6


I wish I had gotten a better photo of the windows at the rear. They were really amazing examples of Tiffany glass. He is another Tiffany work that was along another wall in the court.


The colors and detail were incredible. I can’t imagine how many hour of work went into creating this. Below is another  Tiffany designed landscape in mosaic that sits along another wall.


At the other end of the court is the facade of a federal bank that was once located on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. Kind of unusual to see a building inside a building! The front door is actually the  entrance to the American wing.


Once inside we wandered through the many galleries enjoying the numerous painting and sculptures by all the greatest American artist including Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, and one of my favorites, John Singer Sargent.


This one titled “The Wyndham Sisters” painted in 1899, is my favorite. It captures the elegance and beauty of the era. I love the softness in the colors and how each woman’s personality comes through. I’ve seen this work in books many times but I never realized how large it was till I saw it in person!

And of course, how could you have an American Wing without including…

Anyone living in the U.S. has probably seen a print of this painting by Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868) aptly titled “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. I know I have, but I never realized how massive it was in real life. Even the gold frame screams “Liberty!” Seriously, though, it is a very moving piece. I can understand why it has been reproduced so often.

After the American Wing, we had just enough time to take in a special Vincent van Gogh exhibit called “Irises and Roses”. No photos were allowed but they would not have done justice to these beautiful paintings anyway. The colors and textures were so rich.

By the time we boarded the bus for home we were exhausted but also disappointed. We hadn’t had time to see any of the European Impressionist,  the Greek and Roman statues, the Dutch and Spanish masters or about a thousand other things! We did get a quick look at the Egyptian wing but only because we had to go through it to get to the ladies room! It felt like we spent a lot of time trying to find our way around. Thank goodness for all those bored security guards willing to give directions!

All in all, Miss Dee and I give our trip to The Met two big thumbs up. We highly recommend it to anyone who loves great art, history and architecture. We, however, feel like we will need at least 10 more trips there in order to truly appreciate it!

For more info about The Met:

X is for Xenodocheionology

Good word, huh? I admit I had to search through a list of “x” words to find something to write about. I never heard this word before but I like what it mean: A love of hotels or inns. I definitely have this. There is nothing like a fancy hotel or a quaint little inn to get my heart racing.

We stayed in motels when I was a kid. After all I live an hour from the Jersey shore-motel capital of the world, but my first real experience with true xenodocheionology (pretty sure I’m using that word incorrectly) was in 1982 at the age of 19 and it was all thanks to my first serious boyfriend and his well-to-do family.

His name was Steve and his dad owned a couple of car dealerships in Philadelphia. We had only been dating for a few months when his parents invited me to vacation with them in New Orleans. Steve’s uncle worked as the purser on a river boat down there and the plan was to stay in the city for a few days and then sail down the Mississippi on the uncle’s paddle boat cruise. I thought about for about a half a second before screaming “HECK YEAH!”

The hotel we stayed in was right on Bourbon Street. I can’t, for the life of me, remember it’s name and I’m not if it was damaged by hurricane Katrina years later, but at the time it was the most elegant place I have ever been. The lobby was floor to ceiling marble with a row of fountains along the center. To the right was an open courtyard that was attached to the hotel’s gourmet restaurant.

Our suite (yes, suite) was on the third floor. It had a seating area with a bar and French doors that led out to the in-ground pool….a POOl on the third floor!?!  Steve’s sister Lori and I shared one of the three bedrooms. The furniture was French provincial and the twin beds had canopies!

The rest of the vacation was amazing too but that hotel was my favorite part. Steve’s favorite part was the fact that it was perfectly legal to walk along Bourbon Street drinking a beer. I guess his priorities were a little different than mine.

I would love to hear about some of your favorite hotels or inns!