Monday, March 30, 2015

Dreaming of the Ocean

We recently had a meeting in Va Beach.  How wonderful it was to see the waves crashing into the shore after a long winter.  The ocean has always been a special place for me and my family.  My parents loved the ocean and definitely passed their love to their children.  My children feel the same way!

We arrived a little early for our meeting so we walked a block down to the DeWitt  Cottage.  It now is home to the Atlantic Waterfowl Heritage Museum. The cottage was built in 1895 by Bernard Holland. His wife didn't like the sound of the ocean and he built her another home across the street.  The DeWitts bought the cottage in 1909 and the home stayed in the family until 1988.  The home is quite large and has 14 inch thick brick walls.  When I was a teen I can remember many cottages like this one that lined the ocean front.  Most of these cottages have now been torn down and replaced by high rise hotels.

Inside the museum there were three men that were carving duck decoys.  The museum is filled with many antique decoys.  One of the gentlemen carvers told us about the decoy he was holding.  It belonged to his great grandfather. He told us he had bags full of these decoys.  One similar recently sold for $23,000 dollars!  I had no idea that duck decoys were that valuable!

Here are some photos from the museum that now houses memorabilia from the club.

This is a little gem of a museum tucked among the high rise hotels.  We enjoyed our visit very much and of course look forward to summer when we come to the beach again and see the beautiful ocean!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fruit Cobbler

If you need a quick dessert to serve to your family or company, I've got a very easy fix.  You can make this simple cobbler and put it in the oven while eating dinner and then serve it for dessert.

You may use any fruit you have on hand.  I've made it using blueberries the most as I usually have frozen berries in my freezer.  It's also delicious made with canned peaches.  I've also made it with stewed apples and it is delicious.  Of course if you have whipped cream or ice cream to top it off all the better.  Most of the time I don't have that available and just serve it plain.

Here is the simple recipe:

Easy Batter Fruit Cobbler

4 tablespoons butter
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 c. milk
2 heaping cups of sliced fresh or frozen peaches or nectarines, or whole blueberries, strawberries, raspberries. blackberries or a combination of fruits or a 12 oz package of frozen berries.

Adjust oven rack to upper middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Put butter in a 8 inch square or 9 inch round pan; set in oven to melt.  When butter is melted remove pan from oven. Whisk flour, 3/4 c. sugar, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Add milk; whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour batter into pan, then scatter fruit over batter. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50-60 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

You and your honey might enjoy this easy cobbler. Enjoy! ♥

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Alex's Birthday

Our grandson Alex turned 12 years old on the first day of spring.  We were all happy to help him celebrate at his home with kid's favorites of pizza, cake and ice cream. It was so nice to have the whole family together to help Alex celebrate.  His Aunt Noel was visiting from New Hampshire so that helped to make it more fun.

Alex is a bright young man that we love so very much.  We learned that Alex made the tennis team on Monday after his birthday. He loves tennis and really wanted to make the team.  Congratulations sweetie!  Stay as sweet as you are now!

Alex looks so much like his Dad when he was a little boy.  It's sure fun to see him growing up to be a nice young man.  Grandchildren are such a blessing and we are blessed to have three wonderful grandsons!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Family Fun

It's always fun when the whole family can get together and visit.  Our children do not live in our city.  Our daughter lives in New Hampshire and our son lives in Richmond.  Our daughter, Noel, came for a visit this past weekend.  Our grandson that lives with us is her son.  So you know she wanted to see him.  While she was here she asked if we could visit Kenmore.  Kenmore is the home of Betty Washington Lewis and Col. Fielding Lewis.  Betty Washington was George Washington's sister.

This is actually the back side of Kenmore. This 1300 acre plantation was built in the 1770's.  It is a fine Georgian style manor home.  Fielding Lewis loaned the state of Virginia guns and ammunition to support The Revolution.  He was never repaid for his efforts.  Mary Ball Washington (the mother of George Washington) is buried on the original property of the plantation.  After leaving her home in Ferry Farm she lived in a home behind Kenmore.

Mary Washington Monument and Grave site

Corn, tobacco and wheat were grown on the fields of Kenmore. They had more than 80 slaves that worked the plantation.  Kenmore was used as a hospital during the Civil War as were many large plantations of the south.  There is a canon ball that is lodged in the back entrance of the home.

In 1922 the Kenmore Foundation bought the property and began plans to restore the property. The landscaping was restored by Charles Gillette in 1924.

Kenmore is still being refurbished on the interior.  The plaster ceilings have all been repaired and bought back to life.  They are quite exquisite!  The same plasterer that worked on Mount Vernon worked on Kenmore ceilings. Original paint colors and wall coverings are used in the home.  No photographs are allowed inside the home except the kitchen.  Check out their website to see the plastered ceilings.

As you are facing the front of the home the kitchen is on the right and the laundry is on the left.

It was a great early spring day to tour the lovely Kenmore and her gardens.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Chatham Manor

We are so lucky to live in an area that has taken pains to preserve history.  Even if the history is shaded.  Recently we visited Chatham Manor that is not very far from our home at all.  On a good day, we could walk there.

Chatham was built between 1768 and 1771 by William Fitzhugh.  This grand Georgian-style home overlooks the Rappahannock River.  Originally it was a thriving plantation that included a dairy, ice house, barn and stables.  The 1280 acre estate had gardens, orchards and a gristmill.

This plantation was worked by over one hundred slaves.  There was a slave rebellion at Chatham during this time.  It ended with three slaves dying and two others deported to a slave colony in the Caribbean.

Major Churchill Jones, a former officer in the Continental Army, bought the plantation in 1806 for 20,000 dollars.  His family owned the property for 60 years.

Many famous people have visited Chatham---including  Robert E. Lee, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson  and later Abraham Lincoln.

During the Civil War , destruction came to many plantations and it did bring change to Chatham.  The Lacy's lived there at the time and Mrs. Lacy fled to save herself and her children.  In 1862 Union forces occupied the home as headquarters.  General Burnside bought 115,000 man Army of the Potomac to Fredericksburg.  It was a disastrous Union defeat.  Burnside lost 12,500 in the battle.  Clara Barton assisted doctors in operations inside of Chatham.  The manor basically served as a hospital.  Walt Whitman came to Chatham to write letters for the wounded.  I won't go into detail but it was a horrific scene inside the home.

By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, Chatham was a bloody mess.  When the Lacy's returned home they were unable to maintain it properly so it was sold in 1872.  After several owners tried to restore Chatham it wasn't until the 1920's when Daniel and Helen Devore undertook a proper restoration.  Chatham's last owner was industrialist, John Lee Pratt.  He owned the property from 1931 to 1975 when he willed it to the National Park Service.

Today Chatham serves as the National Park Headquarters for Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  Inside the home we are introduced to some of its former owners.

Here is another  painting from the gallery.  This is the most famous painting at the Headquarters and was done by Emanuel Leutze --the same artist that painted Washington Crossing the Delaware.  The guide told us they were told if there was a fire to first take this painting out with them!  It is a painting of J. Horace Lacy.  Leutze was an artist from Frederickburg.

Since Chatham is used as headquarters for the Park Service, only three rooms are open inside.

The view from Chatham is just beautiful!

It was a beautiful day to be outside and learn something!

Grayden and Samuel

Of course my favorite is the landscape and the gardens.  It will be more beautiful when everything is in bloom!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Life's Ups and Downs

This has been one of those weeks.  You know the kind that has its ups and downs.  I've been having computer issues all week and have spent many hours getting "help."  I probably need to look about getting another computer as mine is getting older.  I'm from the generation where we expect things to last!  Oh well, I need to get over that one.

I took this photograph on the evening of March 6, 2015.  There was snow on the ground still, even though the Worm Moon comes when the ground softens as the earthworm casts reappear so the robins return. The ground is now quite soft and we have seen lot's of robins!  And a lot of mourning doves!

We visited my husband's older brother this week. He lives 4 hours away.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a couple of years ago.  This is such a devastating disease.  He is now in a memory care unit as his wife can no longer care for him.  This was a shocking and emotional visit for my husband and his sister as well as me.  We all knew this would be the way it would go.  Knowing and seeing are two different things.  Thankfully for his wife, three of their four children live close by.

Check out this website to learn more about Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Train Trestle into our local station

On a lighter , brighter note, our weather has greatly improved.  We have been in the 50's and some 60's.  Hurrah!  It was a beautiful day driving on Thursday as we travelled to see my brother-in-law and family.  We were so happy to have the sun shining and safe travels.

I'm excited that our daughter is coming by train for a visit this week.  I sure do miss her as she lives in NH----I know her son will be glad to see her.  Another of our grandsons will be having a birthday so it will be nice to have the family all together.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

St. Patrick's Gifts

Do you know Michele at The Nest at Finch Rest ? She recently had a giveaway drawing for St. Patrick's tea things.  I won the drawing and the beautiful gifts arrived all safe and sound to my doorstep.  Thank you, Michele!

Isn't that the cutest card she enclosed?  Her gift was wrapped so lovely and packed so securely.

I've enjoyed getting to know so many of you since venturing into this blogging world.  I am a late bloomer.  I read and commented on some of your blogs for years before I just jumped in this year and started my own.

I'm still learning and am enjoying it very much. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me in this endeavor.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  I am not Catholic, but I am a Christian and have some Irish blood running through my veins.  The shamrock was used by St. Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity.  I love that.

I made this shamrock flag years ago to hang during March to remind us of St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity.

Kilbennan St. Benin's Church Window St. Patrick Detail 2010 09 16.jpg

St. Patrick depicted in stained glass window in Saint Benin's Church, Ireland.

Monday, March 9, 2015


I learned to cook at a very young age.  My Mama would let us help her in the kitchen from as long as I can remember. When I was either 13 or 14 years old, my Mama got a part time job to help supplement the family income.  I am one of four and  I am the oldest.  The responsibility for having dinner on the table was mine for the evenings that Mama worked.  As I write this, I am actually amazed that I was given such a large job.  I've always loved being in the kitchen and have always felt comfortable there.  Preparing meat and potatoes and vegetables was standard at my home as a child.  There was no fancy cooking involved.

Mama and her sisters got together every December to make fruitcakes.  I was able to help them and enjoyed these times with these amazing women.  I'm related to very strong women and am proud to have had many wonderful memories with them.  My Mama and her sisters got together monthly and when I was old enough to join in I was delighted.  My daughter joined in when she came "of age."

The Sisters-Left to Right --Aunt Ritsie, Mama, Aunt Jeannie, Aunt Lou Lou 

When I married and started a home of my own, I wanted to venture out with my cooking and baking.  I began collecting recipes from friends.  Also this is when I began buying cookbooks.  My little kitchen can hold only a few cookbooks, so they have moved around our home to a bookcase downstairs.  I cannot part with them.

This box holds a treasure of recipes from friends and family.

I keep binders of recipes in my kitchen and a few current cookbooks.  This winter, my husband and I put these recipes into 3 ring binders and catagorized them.  It has made it so easy to find what I'm searching for.  Using my Kindle for recipes on the web is better than copying all the recipes.

We all do what we love and one of my loves is being in my kitchen.  I'm always learning and love trying new recipes.

Do you have old cookbooks?  Many of mine have stains and are not exactly in pristine condition. I think it just gives them character. I have become more judicious about buying more as there is no room. Most of my favorite recipe cards are not because of the recipe but for the handwriting of friends and family.  Seeing my Mama's handwriting is like a hug from her. ♥