Adventure: Chippokes Plantation State Park

Adventure: Chippokes Plantation State Park

fossilized shells in Virginia

We were having a hard time getting motivated. It was a gorgeous sunny day, cool enough to enjoy, but warm enough to wear short sleeves. There aren’t many days like that in Virginia. It too often goes from cold and rainy to hot and humid. Taking advantage of the lovely spring weather was a must, but we didn’t want to stay home (too many projects need attention) and we didn’t want to drive all the way back to the beach (we’d just been over there for church) and we didn’t want to be indoors.

When Husband suggested trying somewhere new, he knew it would pique my curiosity. Chippokes Plantation State Park, he suggested. I’d never heard of it, but he had passed by there a number of times as it’s just off the back route between Hampton Roads and Richmond.

We grabbed some apples and water bottles (and a few water bottles for the pup as well), threw the camera in the truck and headed off down the country road that is Route 10.

Chippokes Plantation is a historical plantation, with a beautiful manor home and outbuildings that have been lovingly preserved. It has formal gardens and acres up acres of farmland. It also has a lovely beach along the James River, where we found fossilized shells and we hear sharks teeth are available for the determined searcher. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

James River beach

Chippokes Plantation beach, fossils

Chippokes Plantation beach

Chippokes Plantation State Park

Pup drinking from water fountain

Farmland in Virginia

Spring flowers at Chippokes Plantation

Historic Chippokes Plantation

{Moments of Inspiration}

{Moments of Inspiration}

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

Chippokes Plantation State Park

We live near the ocean, but I’m finding river beaches may be just as beautiful, Chippokes Plantation on the James River, Virginia.

Adventure: DC

Adventure: DC

Husband and I set off on a little adventure last weekend–nothing earth shattering, but a sweet 36 hours away from home. Above all, it is good to see family. The heartbreak of the past few months has made this even more precious to us.

Just being able to say hello in person, give a hug, laugh together, and, at times, cry together, is a balm. After our loss last fall, even DC, a mere 3.5 hours from us, seems too far away. The little ones, all 5 and under, are beautiful reminders of the hope and life that is yet to come. And quiet “adult” time is a solace.

Husband’s sister and brother-in-law are delightful people, generous to a fault, and beyond supportive. Together, we spent a treasured evening sharing tapas and paella at Jaleo, a restaurant by Jose Andres–a real treat for my food-loving Husband. I even got to try some foods I’d never had before and it was all amazing (especially the Endibias Con Queso De Cabra Y Naranjas, if you’re ever there, try it–seriously).

Tapas

We were spoiled to have a gas fireplace in the basement/guest room where we stayed…true, it wasn’t wood-burning, which is what I’ve been craving. But it was warm and the flames deliciously orange. Oh, how I’ve missed the calming solace of a good warm fire…someday we’ll have our own fireplace, someday.

Fireplace.

On Sunday, we intended to have a leisurely day with Husband’s other DC sister, but as the day went on we got more and more inspired. We first went to Great Falls Park and hiked along the top ridge of Mather Gorge. Great Falls is a little strange…only a few minutes outside of Alexandria and within a stone’s throw of Washington DC, and yet it feels like the middle of Montana…

The views of the gorge are just incredible, almost hard to believe this is the same Potomac River that runs so placidly to the Chesapeake Bay.

Great Falls on the Potomac River.

The gorge.

Resting and watching the Potomac.

Husband and I at Great Falls Park.

After a nice hike in the chilly but incredibly sunny great outdoors, we headed inside for Pho (Vietnamese soup…although I actually ended up getting lemongrass beef with vermicelli, yum!). From there we headed over to this great hole-in-the-wall Asian store where we bought beef jerky, dried mango and Thai iced tea. I would definitely recommend anyone going to the Great Falls area check out Eden Center and explore some of these wonderful Asian restaurants and shops.

Food from the Asian store.

From there we headed into DC to meet my brother near his apartment in China Town. We visited over coffee and chai at Busboys and Poets. It was a pretty happening place, with a good menu, lots of fair trade items available, and books for sale. And the apple pie was delicious! The only drawback had to be the loud music, it made our conversation a little hard to hear. In spite of that, though, we got to talk–just talk, for the first time in a long, long time.

I saw my brother back in December for the first time in over a year, did I tell you then that he lives a mere 3.5 hours from me? So, so sad that I haven’t gotten to see him much. But we made it happen, and that makes me happy.

He’s slaving away at law school, busier than ever. I’m so proud of him, and loved getting to hear him talk about what he’s doing and what he hopes to do in the future. It’s so good to be able to support someone’s dreams, to believe in them. And I do. I believe he can do anything. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being the little sister–you believe your big bros are larger than life.

In all, aside from a mild case of food poisoning (first time in my life) and a few closed bridge-tunnels on our way home (do you know how hard it can be to get to Va Beach when both the HRBT and the Monitor-Merrimac are closed? We had to take the James River Bridge…talk about taking the long way home), it was a great little getaway.

Now, if I can just get some laundry done…

PFG Food Show (aka The Perks of Being Married to a Chef)

PFG Food Show (aka The Perks of Being Married to a Chef)

Yesterday I mentioned that Husband and I had some business that took us to Richmond for a day (and allowed us to see the magnificent Maymont Mansion, seriously, take a look).

We were invited to attend the Performance Food Group Spring food show at the Greater Richmond Conference Center, so I eagerly asked off of work and joined Husband to watch him work and taste lots of a great food. PFG was kind enough to put us up for the night, so we were able to drive up the night before the food show. We stayed at the Richmond Omni hotel, which we loved, since we had stayed at the Newport News Omni on our honeymoon.

Getting there was a little…logistical. Husband and I aren’t newbies at navigating the city, but honestly, we live in Virginia Beach, which is incredibly sprawly and not very urban. So although we located the hotel fine, determining the proper parking deck took a little more effort.

Eventually we parked, grabbed our overnight bags and headed for the elevator that took us into a lavish indoor shopping center… Um, hotel? Ah, over there. The Omni (and neighboring Starbucks) were on the end of the shopping center. Our room was delux and lovely and we settled in for a fun overnight away from home.

Our view from the Omni Hotel in Richmond.

Reading at the Omni.

Loved the bathroom at the Omni!

A food show of this sort is basically where all of the vendors that supply PFG (the ones that make the tortillas or chicken fingers or hot sauce) come together so chefs and restaurateurs can sample their wares. It was set up in a large convention center room and we mosied around tasting just about everything that look appetizing.

Food tables at the food show.

We were even able to attend at seminar specifically on branding your restaurant, which was a lot of fun. And we got to talk to the suppliers, learn about how they make their products, and discuss everything with the food reps from PFG. Altogether, we left happy with our stomachs full of samples.

Fresh produce at the food show.

Yummy scone...

I’m one of the few I know who actually made it through high school, college and graduate school without ever working in a restaurant so a lot of this is new to me. But as I learn more about the restaurant industry I feel like I’m better able to support Husband in his career, which is important to me. And we had a lovely day together, what could be better than that?

Adventure: Maymont Mansion

Adventure: Maymont Mansion

I have lived in Virginia for more than three years now, and I’ve driven around Richmond many times, but I had not yet actually visited the capital of this fine state, or commonwealth if you want to get technical. Last week, Husband and I had the opportunity to spend about 24 hours in Richmond. Aside from our business there, we found a few fun things to do. The best was most definitely our visit to Maymont Mansion.

I had never heard of Maymont before traveling to Richmond, but as I was doing research on things to do in the city, it kept popping up in top 10 lists everywhere. The fact that entrance to the grounds is absolutely free and tours of the 33-room house were a suggested donation of $5, I realized that this was the perfect spot for us to begin our Richmond adventure. It doesn’t hurt that we both love gardens and history.

What follows is far short of the glory of this lovely park, complete with both Japanese and Italian gardens, wildlife exhibits, carriages, horticulture exhibits, historical artifacts and so, so much more. The house is a great example of Victorian life and the family history is interesting too. Please (I’m begging you) visit this place! You can learn more about it on their website.

Maymont stone barn.

Bench

Gate

Gazebo ceiling

Stone carving

View of the Japanese garden.

Italian garden.

Stepping stones.

Crazy staircase

Up hill.

PS. We also visited a great little used bookstore on Cary St. called Chop Suey and a fun eclectic place just across the street from there called Mongrel. Check them out if you’re ever in Richmond!

Winter walk…

Winter walk…

This week, Husband and I went back to our beloved Smithfield. This time it wasn’t for a lovely anniversary getaway, or to show friends our find. It was just to be.

We didn’t do any shopping, or eating, or anything really. We just brought the puppy and took a walk because we could. Because it’s beautiful…

Smithfield, Va.

Old tree stump amid farmland

Husband and puppy walking in Smithfield.

Smithfield waterways.

Puppy on a dock in Smithfield.

Walking in Smithfield.

Old barns lit by evening light.

Sun begins to set behind the trees.

Beautiful.

A grace-filled Christmas

A grace-filled Christmas

Husband and I on Christmas Day.

This Christmas was filled with grace–of necessity and through purpose. Grace for ourselves, grace for others.

We’re still reeling from our loss this fall, and the holidays just didn’t feel as bright and merry as usual. But there is still reason to celebrate–family, friends, and of course, most of all the birth of our Savior. So celebrate we did–even if it was a little more sedate than previous years. The change was actually kind of nice. There were fewer gifts and decorations, and perhaps a little less boisterous laughter, but there was a sacred peace.

We had a lazy start to the morning, ate puffy pancakes and opened our stockings. We even dozed on the couch for a few minutes before we headed out to Husband’s mom’s house. There we spent time with family, exchanging gifts, eating and making merry. It was unusually quiet without the nieces and nephews (who were sick and stayed home in DC), and of course there was the absence of my dear brother-in-law. But friends helped make the day brighter.

Stockings

Opening stockings

Husband wasn’t feeling well, so we headed home to relax in our own cozy home. We lazed on the couch, opened gifts a few at a time and enjoyed the sparkling tree, crackling fireplace DVD (yep.), and the lovely sounds of holiday music. Our traditional fondue dinner was accompanied by traditional James Bond movies (with Sean Connery, of course).

Ginger asking for toys from her stocking.

Ginger pleadingly asked for more toys from her stocking…

Before long, we were headed to bed–myself to read =), and Husband to sleep off some of the medicine he’d taken.

In all, I’d call it a good Christmas. A quiet Christmas. A grace-filled Christmas.

Our Christmas tree with gifts underneath.