Monday, April 30, 2012

The "New" Bathroom

     I decided to take a day off of posting about the trip, to share with you the finished bathroom redo. Our home has 3 full baths, all average size. Our master bedroom doesn't have a huge master bathroom. I wish it did because I think they are beautiful, but in truth, I'm not the type to lounge in a tub watching my flatscreen television anyway. The bath off the master bedroom is mine and my husband has his bathroom in the basement, it works for us! So, my bathroom has been the last room we updated since no one really saw it anyway.

     I took these before pictures as my husband was starting to empty the bathroom. You are really seeing the before. I had a few goals for this room. I wanted to get rid of the white tile floor. There was nothing wrong with the tile, it was simply very slick and I'd fallen once and almost fallen several times. I also wanted to get rid of the "spec" house look. Our home was built in the late 90's and they used very generic things. I wanted to add a "pop" of color to our mostly deep taupe house and I wanted it to be a bit more upscale looking. There is no window in this room, so the lighting for all the pictures is lacking.

     A white vanity and cabinet above the toilet, as well as an extra piece for storage had to go. The faucets, chrome with the fake glass balls...were out of here. A solution for having to keep my makeup and hairdryer/curling iron on my counter had to be found.

     I actually still liked my shower curtain. I bought it from Marriott Hotels a few years ago. It is the most expensive one I've ever owned...but, down it came.

Cheap looking white cabinet will find a new home in the garage.

    The new look started with a paint chip (Cottage Green) and a square of tile. I love not only the rough texture of the tile, but the combination of gray and brown in it. I opted to pull out the gray in the small rug. When the paint first went on the walls, it was a bit shocking...but as we brought in the other elements I really like it.

     The new vanity, mirror and cabinet are cherry. The granite top is a combination of black and brown (hard to tell in this lighting) and the faucets have been replaced here and in the shower with brushed nickel.

     It is impossible to get a good look at the light fixture. I actually wanted sconces, but that was not only going to require some wiring changes, my old eyes need the added wattage that came with the fixture over the mirror. It is simply a branch of brushed nickel with 3 shades.

     I wanted a chest or cabinet for the end of the room. It is not only extra storage, the space needed something. I wasn't sure what I wanted and then I saw this mirrored cabinet at HomeGoods on our recent trip. It is mirrored on both sides, both shelves and the doors. You can only imagine how thrilled my husband was to empty out our luggage and all the other things we had purchased in the parking lot at HomeGoods to make room for it in the SUV. It fit, and it is perfect in this spot. The lidded basket on the second shelf, holds the makeup I use daily. Easy to reach and yet hidden from sight.

     I found this handmade basket at one of the art studios we visited. I thought it would be perfect for keeping the curling iron and hair dryer in easy reach, yet not cluttering my counter.

     I also found soft green shell towels at HomeGoods (they liked us that day)! The cabinet above the toilet is now taller and holds so much more. You can never have too much storage in a bathroom.

     The soft color in the shower curtain was a perfect match for the wall color and it was the first thing I found. I really hadn't planned on a shell theme for the room, but once I saw that shower all came together. I am very pleased that we were able to change the look so much in a space that isn't large

     This is how we spent our weekend!
I hope you had a good one too!

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday
Please stop by and say hello to her!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Underground at Biltmore Estate and Leaving Asheville...

     I had a few more pictures taken at the Biltmore Estate that I thought you might enjoy. I'm still frustrated that I couldn't take indoor shots, but at some point I will post some pictures of pictures from the book we bought. I just haven't had time to read it yet!

     This is the view (using my zoom setting) from the estate to the hill across from it. This is where the swing set of a very young Ms. Vanderbilt stood. We simply didn't have the energy after the gardens and the house to walk the hill!

     The path to the gardens begins with this covered area dripping with Wisteria. Do you see the orb in this photo? It is the only photo from the entire week that has that in it. So, do you believe that an orb means the area is haunted? If any place could be...this is it!

We thought this was so odd.
This very old cypress tree had formed a garden of roots.
It was interesting and a bit creepy.

So who can resist a hydrangea?
Don't you just love this color?

Of course the pink is pretty too!

Of course you would expect the Biltmore Gardens
to include a water element.

We didn't expect there to be such a gorgeous waterfall.

     One of my favorite parts of the Biltmore Estate was getting to the winery. The winery is located a short distance away from the actual home in an area called Antler Hill Village. This area contains the Biltmore farm as well as a few shops and restaurants. In order to get to the winery, we entered through tunnels that once housed the Biltmore Dairy. It was so interesting down there and very cool after an 85 degree day filled with lots of walking.

The actual winery is large and the tastings are free.
There is also a wonderful gift shop.

I found this lamp made from wine bottles interesting.
I'm not sure I want one, but it was clever!

     If you want to, you can stay at this beautiful resort on the grounds at Biltmore. It sits high on a hill just above Antler Hill Village. The Inn on Biltmore Estate beautifully blends into the landscape and is certainly stunning to see.

     After three nights in Asheville, we left early Tuesday morning to head for the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge TN area. Our drive took us through The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and it was breathtaking. I've only been home a few days and I'm already ready to go back and take that drive again.

Next up-Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Road Tripping in the South-Asheville, The Food

     We just returned from a true "road trip" to a few southern states. As always, I think I will blog while I'm on the road and I'm always too tired to move at the end of the day. I did do a post about Biltmore House and Gardens, if you would like to read it, click here. We had a wonderful trip. We went to several places that we have always wanted to, but never took the time to do so. I hope I don't bore you over the next few days while I share some of the highlights. I also have to add that I came home to a different looking Blogger. I'm not sure I know what I'm doing...I don't really like change around here.

     Asheville, NC is about a 9 hour drive for us. By the time we arrived on a Saturday night and checked into our hotel, we were ready for dinner. We decided to go over to Biltmore Village, near our hotel. We saw a cute restaurant called the Corner Kitchen and decided to give it a try. We loved it and we also found out that not only is it one of the most popular restaurants in Asheville, we were very lucky to walk in and get a seat. We sat at the bar (only thing available) and immediately we were talking to the people on both sides of us. They were all locals and made us feel very welcome in their community. I was really impressed with Asheville. It is eclectic, beautiful and a very friendly city.

     These photos are from my phone, my camera was in the hotel room. I started my meal with a cup of the Corn Crab Chowder and it was delicious. My husband ordered the mixed bread basket. My main course was the Fried Green Tomato Goat Cheese Stack with Warm Sweet Potato Salad and Grilled Zucchini. Oh my. It was heavenly.

     My husband had Sweet Mustard Glazed Three Meat Meatloaf with Collards, Cheddar Grits and Three Sauces. He loved it. They certainly know how to cook in the south!

     The dessert list was to die for, but we were so full that we just couldn't do it. However, the man next to me ordered the Bread Pudding and because he knew I was going to write about the restaurant, he gave me the first bite of his dessert! It was almost like a flan with bread pudding on top. Mmm! I couldn't believe I was taking a bite of a stranger's dessert, but we were all friends by the time dinner was over. We were told that this is where the Obamas ate when they were in Asheville.

     We have found that on trips we tend to eat breakfast and then one more meal. We often are snacking on crackers and cheese in our hotel room. On the day we toured the Biltmore Estate, we decided to have lunch in what was once the stables. The picture below is what I could get of the outside of the building. Just ignore all those people...I didn't know them!

     The Stable Cafe was spacious and bright. Our service was excellent and we were more than ready to take a break after touring the mansion. We both ordered the Fried Green Tomato BLT. Which had bacon, lettuce, fried green tomatoes and homemade white pimento cheese spread. Yum.

     Our last day in Asheville I wanted to try a place that I had read about on Tripadvisor. Listed as #1, it was only open for breakfast and lunch and certainly was unique.

     Books and Breadboard is also located in Biltmore Village. It combines food and books...who can ask for more than that? The building was actually part of the original Biltmore Estate and was moved to the current location. The rooms in the house have tables for dining and you can also browse the shelves for new books by local authors and bestsellers. We actually ate at a table for 2 in a hallway. Our waitress was wonderful and made some excellent suggestions for us.

     I had the Mile High Quiche. It was broccoli and cheddar and it made me purr. It was honestly the best quiche I have ever eaten. The food is served on a breadboard and the fresh fruit and edible flower made for a beautiful presentation.

     My husband had a "Chapter 6" which was tavern ham and cheddar on marbled rye. His was served with Terra Chips and a slaw made with zucchini and carrots. His was good, but he is more a burger he wasn't going quite as crazy about his lunch as I was!

     One other place I must mention that we loved in Asheville was called The Gourmet Chip. I have never seen a place devoted to chips. Imagine an ice cream parlor, only the ice cream is either kettle, sweet potato, taro root or plantain chips and the toppings range from Lavender Honey, Rosemary and Thyme, Truffle Oil, BBQ Seasoning, Sundried Tomatoes and even Belgian Chocolate. I had a simple mix of Kettle and Sweet Potato Chips with sea salt and my husband had Kettle Chips with Smoked Gouda (his were amazing). They were freshly made, crisp and so good. I'm not even a chip eater, but I couldn't resist. This was dinner one night after a big lunch.

     I guess you can tell we didn't go hungry while we were gone...and this is just the first 3 days! Yes, I gained weight and yes, I'm eating a lot of veggies and chicken for the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spending a Little Time With the Vanderbilts

     Today it has been a one year since my mother-in-law died. Last year at this time, we had a trip scheduled to Asheville, NC and a few other stops. We cancelled the trip because she was so ill. My husband told me a few months ago that he wanted to take the trip this year and he wanted to spend today touring the Biltmore Estate. It is a place his mother would have loved.

     It is currently the Festival of Flowers at Biltmore. The house is filled with fresh flowers. There are more than I've ever seen. The dining table in the banquet hall must have thousands of flowers standing 4 feet tall and running the length of the table. I was so frustrated that they don't allow any photographs to be taken in the house. I did manage to snap one quick one (above) as we entered the mansion.

     The home was completed in 1895. George Vanderbilt's 250-room chateau is as impressive today as it was more than a century ago. Original art by Pierre Auguste Renoir and John Singer Sargent, magnificent 16th century tapestries, a library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool, and a bowling alley are just a few of the things we saw as we walked through this amazing home. Most of the objects throughout the house are from George and Edith Vanderbilt's original collection.

     I really had the feeling as we walked through the rooms that I couldn't absorb everything I was seeing. With my love of flowers, I couldn't get enough of the massive fireplace mantels that were draped with grapevine and hundreds of fresh flowers. The walls were covered with everything from gilted wallpaper to velvet to massive tapestries. The stonework and the carved wood throughout the house was so detailed. The furnishings were lavish and ornate. I can't imagine living in a space this large, but it certainly was interesting to see. Now I want to read the book we bought cover to cover so I can learn more about the famous Vanderbilt family.

     There will be more pictures to share, but I am going to end this post with some of the gorgeous flowers we saw as we strolled the Biltmore gardens. The azaleas are in bloom and the pictures don't begin to do them justice.

     Our weather here is perfect so far. My son says it may be blowing away at my home tonight and tomorrow. I hope all of you in the paths of the storms have been safe.