December 30, 2013

Back From My Blogging Break

I’m back! I hope that you missed me. It is encouraging to see that my blog stats remained high during my absence. I have to confess that it was a bit of a relief to not constantly plan and write up posts during the past couple of weeks. The work of maintaining two blogs can get a bit tiresome. But now my batteries are charged, and I can begin a new year of blogging! I tried to keep up with everyone's posts the past couple of weeks and managed to leave comments here and there. 

As most of you know, we took a needed jaunt to unwind and celebrate Mr. Jim’s continued recovery. We were in search of rest and relaxation, and the places we visited delivered those objectives with abundance. Since we got back on Thursday last week, the unpacking got done, laundry washed, mail collected and read, groceries procured, and minor housecleaning completed. Whew! The next task is to put away all the Christmas decorations.

We began our excursion by going to enchanting Charleston, South Carolina. We have explored this area on several occasions over the years. But we realized, upon reflection, that our last visit was about 20 years. With its abundance of interesting architecture in the old city, we knew that we had to go back again. As avid photographers, we measure our travel timelines as “BD” (before digital) and “AD” (after digital). So a revisit was essential, LOL!

We decided to stay in the old city and chose the grand Two Meeting Street Inn, located across from the Battery. We have always admired this elegant bed & breakfast, and dreamed of staying at it “one day.” We finally did it on this trip, and we’re happy to report that it was fabulous. The owners and staff run an exceptional operation and ensure that their guests are spoiled. Mr. Jim and I spend many hours rocking on that exquisite front porch, sipping peach iced tea. We enjoyed their scrumptious breakfasts in the ornate dining room when the weather was a bit chilly and on the porch when the weather was warm. We also made some delightful new friends from North Carolina during our stay!

We explored the old city extensively on foot and even took one of those enchanting horse-drawn carriage rides. Photographic opportunities were everywhere we looked! With the warm weather down there (79 degrees on our last day), it was a visual treat to see blooming flowers and Christmas decorations at the same time.

And our hearts melted when we saw scenes like this garden gate. An itinerary of sightseeing photography, walking, and porch rocking kept us busy, but we also made sure to indulge on delicious low-country cuisine and seafood. On our last night in town, we devoured a savory shrimp and grits recipe and ranked it as one of the best meals we’ve ever had at a restaurant. Charleston is truly a wonderful city to visit.

The second part of our vacation was spent on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and we stayed at the beautiful inn that was built a few years ago. We got pampered once again, but this time it was with a modern flair. We had plenty of things to keep us occupied, so we never ventured out beyond the estate during our stay - not even to shop. The inn was elegantly decorated throughout, and we enjoyed a mountain view from our room located on the top floor (bump-out windows to the left of the rocky architectural feature).

As expected, the weather was cold in Asheville, and we came prepared with winter clothing gear, including fleece and sweaters. Christmas Eve treated us to a dusting of snow on nearby mountains!

We took advantage of the shuttle buses reserved for guests at the inn, and we were able to time our visits to various estate locations to avoid most of the tourist crowds. One morning we went to the Conservatory early and enjoyed it for about an hour before anybody else arrived. We were astounded to see so many lovely varieties of poinsettias scattered throughout the greenhouses, providing a seasonal jolt of color wherever we looked.

I plan to share more photos from our South and North Carolina visits over the next couple of weeks, as I get them organized and edited.

On a sad note, my mom’s health is failing and she was rushed to the hospital the day after Christmas. Apparently, she had a stroke four days before being admitted. I talked to her on the phone on Christmas day, and she sounded decidedly “off” (at least, more than usual). I asked her repeatedly to call her doctor. Unfortunately, she didn’t. And my brothers couldn’t rouse her from bed less than 24 hours later. Her home is in Indiana, and two of my younger brothers also live at her house. My oldest brother also lives in the same town. The home situation is not good. However, she and my brothers have decided that she will return home after her hospital discharge.

If you have noticed, I rarely talk about my family. It is quite dysfunctional, and I’ve been an outsider ever since I left home at 18 years old. I will continue to keep the dysfunctional aspects private. In any event, I hope that you will pray that my mom will regain her strength and health in the days ahead and that my at-home brothers are up to the task of properly taking care of her.


  1. I'm so glad your back. I can't wait to see the pictures from your adventure. The last time we were in the Biltmore place we wanted to take pictures so bad but they wouldn't allow but the garden is always so beautiful that you could take 100's of pictures just of that.
    That B and B sounds wonderful and I can't wait to hear more about it.
    I will say a prayer for your Momma.

  2. I'm sorry about your mom and I hope she recovers quickly and that your brothers can care for her properly. That gate picture pretty much melted me when I saw it too! Absolutely gorgeous! Glad you had a nice trip and that hubby is continuing to improve!

  3. What a fabulous trip to two of my favorite places. You sure had a lot of different weather in just a few days but I know you enjoyed it all. We always love the conservatory at the Biltmore, too....nice and warm. Happy New year to you both!

  4. I love Charleston AND Asheville! I am so glad Jim was feeling well enough to go on your jaunt--needed by both of you. Sorry about your Mom--and as for dysfunctional families--I have come to the conclusion that ALL families are dysfunctional in one way or another, so it is quite normal, LOL, but I too know how hard it is. I am going on 9 months that my one daughter has not spoken to me. Oh well--onward and upward!

  5. i am sorry about your mom and difficult situation. i am glad you and jim were able to get a needed break in a beautiful area.

  6. Your stats stayed high? That's great! Mine went as low as they could go. LOL!

    Your photos are beautiful. It looks and sounds as if your trip was wonderfully restorative. Too bad that your mother's health is not good. Praying that the situation resolves in a satisfactory way.

  7. I love, love that front porch and well as the other photos above! If I'm ever down to South Carolina I know where I want to stay.

    Sorry to hear about your mother's failing health. If they are talking about her returning home this soon after her stroke, it must have been a mild one and which is reason to hope she could do well recovering. (My husband's stroke kept him in the hospital 101 days.)

  8. Charleston is such a beautiful city. I'd love to go there now, in the digital age. When we were there many years ago, our film camera broke and I have very, very few photos. I love the light on the porch shot. Stunning.

    Sorry to hear about your mother's health and situation. I'll pray for healing and solutions. It's nice to see you back posting. I did one, post-Christmas, and don't know when I'll get going again. The break is kind of nice.

    Your lovely note cards arrived on Friday. Maybe they will be the focus of the first post. Thank you.

  9. Glad you are home safe and sound --and it sounds like you two had a fabulous Christmas this year (a most-deserved one for sure)....

    Sorry to hear about your Mom.. All of us know about dysfunctions in families... I guess there's some of it in all families... Sad, isn't it? I will keep her in my prayers.


  10. Welcome back. Glad you had a good time. I love that big front porch, I could seriously enjoy that. That gate is gorgeous with all that scroll work.
    So sorry to hear about your mom, sending thought and prayers. I also have a bit of a dysfunctional family but like you, it stays off the blog.

  11. Prayers for your mom, and brothers.

    Love that porch! :)


  12. Welcome back Donna! It sounds like a lovely vacation and those warm temperatures in Charleston would be heavenly. We were there for a day 3 years ago and loved it. We said we'd love to go back and stay a week sometime just to see everything. It's such a beautiful city. I'm so sorry to hear about your mother and hope all will be well with her situation. Wishing you and Jim a blessed and healthy 2014. Hugs, Pamela

  13. Glad you are home safe & sound, my friend -- and that you enjoyed such a lovely trip. Keeping your mom lifted up in prayer! ~Sally

  14. Welcome back, dear friend! I missed you but I'm anxious to see more of your trip. So glad you could have time away in such beautiful places. I will definitely pray for your mother and for your brothers as she returns. I'm sure there will be challenges they can't imagine yet. My dear, little mother will return to her home later this weekend with care. It will be necessary for me to give more time than I had hoped to give - for a very short time. Wishing you a wonderful, healthy and happy New Year!

  15. A Happy New Year Donna.
    Thanks for the post. Sounds like a wonderful break.
    And marvelous place to stay as well as take photos!
    Prayers for you and Mr Jim, your Mum and all your family.
    God's Blessings for 2014.

  16. I'm glad your back. Love both places you visited and the pictures are lovely. I will pray for you mom and the dysfunctional family. I know how trying that can be.

  17. Beautiful photos, Donna! I enjoyed them all so much! Your trip sounds like so much fun, I will be looking forward to the rest of the photos as you find time. Definitely have said a prayer for your mom and brothers, I hope everything turns out okay for her. Happy New Year! Big hugs heading your way.

  18. I'm so sorry Donna about your Mom, brothers and just generally, the situation! How awful for you and Jim....I'll be praying!!
    Larry and I have been to Charleston and loved it but that was, also, many years ago. I think we need to have another go at it!Lolol
    LOVE the photos sweet friend!

  19. Sounds like a restful trip with much good food had. I like the kind of vacation where one is pampered too, and the beautiful blue and white porch you two were rocking on is awesome.
    Hope your mom is better soon.


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