Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bear Lake Reserve - Blue Ridge Mountain Vacation

Despite the hustle and bustle of the new school year, the memories of our North Carolina mountain getaway remain as fresh and crisp as the mountain air. After posting about our accommodations for the first week of our summer vacation I promised a post about where we stayed for week two. 

I always intended to keep my word. 

I just  procrastinate quite a bit.

Or maybe I needed a little time to process it all. Vacations always end so abruptly {even two week vacations}! We return home to find our darling little rescue dog has destroyed our antique embroidered settee. And then we quickly become embroiled in backpacks, new school clothes and teacher assignments {oh, don't get me started on the drama of teacher assignments}. And inevitably we must face all the daily-ness of life that has piled itself on our desk and counters. 

But now, a full six weeks later, I am prepared to share a little glimpse into our second week in the Blue Ridge Mountains! 

We spent our second week in North Carolina at Bear Lake Reserve. Bear Lake is a 2100 acre master-planned vacation property developed by Terramessa Resorts. And once you are inside the property gates you do not need {and will not want } to leave for the entirety of your stay. The natural setting is absolutely amazing and every detail of the development was incredibly well executed. 

The Lake Club, situated directly on Bear Lake, is the hub of all activities. The Lake Club houses the exercise room, theatre room, library, kids' play area {stocked with books, movies and games}, restaurant, lounge and bar, and of course, the pool. We spent a few long, relaxing afternoons lounging poolside. We also were able to take kayaks {free of charge} out for a paddle around the lake and rent a pontoon boat {hourly rental} for an afternoon of further exploration.

View from my lounge chair. 
The golf course is breathtakingly beautiful and absolutely perfect for families. The course is a Nicklaus Design 9-hole course at elevations from 3,400 to 3,700 feet. The panoramic views are spectacular. Boy Genius played two mornings with his dad and took a private lesson after the Hubs had to leave for trial. 

To be honest the views were amazing any which way you turned. I enjoyed a few morning hikes while the boys were on the links and was constantly entranced by the towering trees. 

Our two bedroom condo was absolutely lovely and much more spacious than we required. After spending our first week in a tiny mountain cabin {with no ac}, the Bear Lake condo was positively luxurious. But then again, it felt much less like a mountain cabin and more like home. Truly, though it's hard to say which I preferred more. Apples and oranges. 

Living and dining rooms.
Boy Genius enjoying every inch of his King bed!
We enjoyed a wonderful week at Bear Lake. It was relaxing and tranquil, yet just action-packed enough to avoid even the slightest hint of boredom. 

The downside, however, is simply the distance from civilization. It truly is a place you want to stay when you arrive, but the reality is you have little other choice. 

The drive from our condo to the entrance of Bear Lake was 5 miles but took every bit of 15 minutes. The roads are harrowing mountain roads. Well paved, yes, but you are not driving above 15 mph because the road curves sharply every 40 feet. From the Bear Lake entrance gate it is another 15 minutes before you turn onto a two-lane highway. Thirty minutes into your drive and you still have another 15-20 minutes to a town with a grocery store! 

So if you forget salt and pepper when you are planning your meals for the week and your rental doesn't stock salt and pepper {just rude in my opinion} well then, you just cook without salt and pepper that week. Alternatively, you beg for some at the restaurant and then tip accordingly when your nice waiter provides you with full shakers. 

So yes, you need to pack up everything you can think of and then plan to get away from it all. And by "all" I even mean your cell phone. There is positively no cell coverage. None. Nada. Zip. 

But that's the point, isn't it?!  

Bear Lake is a destination. You come to stay. You come to relax. You come to connect with your family. You come to enjoy the simple pleasures and beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains with those you love most. 

Which is just the sort of vacation I'd like to take again and again and again! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Truths for Mature Humans.

Yes, I found this on Pinterest. You may have seen it or pinned it too. But it made me giggle so hard I just had to share with all my non-pinning friends.

So here it is:

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My two great loves together at last.

My love for obsession with chocolate is well documented on the pages of this blog. If you require proof of this fact or if you'd like to bring yourself up to date on my past chocolate musings you can read about it here, here, here, and if you are still interested, here.

{I'll wait.}

If you are not salivating yet, you may not be interested in reading further.

All others, please continue.  

While not well documented on these pages, my IRL (in real life) friends know wine also tops my list of worthy indulgences. But not just any wine. As with my chocolate, I prefer my wine rich and dark {no comment on my men}. Yes, it is quite unusual to find me sipping a pinot grigio. I generally prefer a Cabernet. Or, if it's a particularly hot day, a chilled Pinot Noir. 

I am not, however, one to wax poetic about wine's nose or legs. I generally do not refer to it as woodsy or brawny. And it is unlikely I will describe wine as fleshy or smoky. Maybe I am not that refined or maybe I simply don't want to come across as yet another under-educated wine snob. Whatever the case, I enjoy wine. Often. 

So now you have the background to understand how the marriage of my two favorite indulgences would make me leap for joy.


I may have even squealed.

Ok, I did.

I squealed and jumped for joy.

I considered a cartwheel.

But quickly regained my composure before the neighbors began to wonder.

Without further adieu, I introduce to you Red Wine Chocolate Cake from Smitten Kitchen.

Please tell me you are squealing now too!?

Cartwheels optional.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My duo is in third grade this year.

And third grade is serious.

There is work involved.

Lots of work.

Every day.

Gone are the days of school boxes filled with markers and crayons.

I no longer receive mounds and mounds of artwork each week. 

Apparently, drawing is so second grade. 

But thankfully, their teachers do have a sense of humor. 

There is time for a little fun amidst the math tests and Spanish lessons. 

Of course, the messy-fun is to be had at home. 

Last night's spelling homework: 

Write your spelling words in shaving cream. 


But that will make such a mess, I thought.  

How can I get around this?

I'd rather just give them a practice test. 

But I have to sign-off on it and email a pic to the teacher. 


Of course, I can't lie. 

Our Family Rules knowingly glare at me as I feebly attempt to create an excuse. 

Having no plausible excuse, I begrudingly cover the kitchen island with shaving cream and they have at it. 

They each had 20 {different} words so this was not a quick undertaking.

The shaving cream remained in place for hours.  

But they had a great time.

And when you have a list of twenty spelling words, some of which I have to concentrate to spell (e.g., "transdisciplinary" - which even my spell check does not recognize}, well, you deserve a little messy-fun.

What is the craziest homework assignment assigned to your child(ren) this year?

Both photos were taken with my iPhone and are being shared as part of #iPPP

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Magic moments.

Absolutely every day is filled with magical moments. I realize that. And some days I actually take time to reflect on the magic in the everyday. Some days I take in the sunrise. Or reflect on our glorious wedding day or the miraculous and life-changing birth of our children

Of course, it is not everyday that we appreciate these moments. Some days we don't see the magic. Some days we forget to look around us and capture the simple-every-day moments. Sometimes those moments only make us smile upon later reflection. I look back at some many pictures of my duo as toddlers and wonder if I was smiling in the moment or if I can only truly smile now. It is so hard to appreciate each and every moment without the benefit of perspective. 

But for all those huge life-altering moments and all the small moments you weren't expecting but nonetheless take your breathe away, I still have to admit:  Disneyland provided some of our most memorable magical moments.  

I will never forget the awe of it all, as seen through a 2 1/2 year-old's eyes. 

The dreaminess. 

The fantastical. 

The pure fantasy around every corner. 

It's as if there are bubbles in the air.

Every moment was electric. 

Every encounter a first. 

I will absolutely never ever forget the first time Little Miss Thang met Belle, her favorite princess. And this was no chance encounter. We waited in line for hours. It was, of course, worth every single second. She ran to Belle when given the green light. They embraced. And then they shared this {somewhat} private moment. I have no idea what words were shared. But I do know that it was a moment of pure bliss for Little Miss Thang. And for me. 

You see, she thought this princess was Belle. To her Belle was a real living, breathing princess. It was not just a fairy tale and a girl in a costume as she now sees it. At that precious moment in time it was . . . pure magic. 

I will also never forget the end of our first day -- with the anticipation of two days still ahead of us -- as I tried to temporarily quell the excitement and tuck in an entirely too exhausted, but yet completely and utterly enthralled, little boy embracing his new Eeyore while wearing his personalized Mickey ears.

It's easy to see the magic in these moments. Even at that very moment. 

Six years later, Mickey ears since crumpled, Eeyore long-ago discarded, and princesses dresses passed along to younger friends, the magic is still abundantly evident to me. Despite the passage of time  and maturation of the subjects, these magic moments are seared in my memory for all eternity.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Banana split breakfast.

How cute to offer a banana split bar when guests are visiting. 

Or any day you want to feel a little bit special! 

So easy, nutritious and delicious! 

View the printer-friendly recipe here

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My morning commute.

Because my kids attend a charter school {opposed to a neighborhood school}, I actually drive them to the bus stop each morning. Seems silly, I realize. But my darling duo likes riding the bus. I believe it is the sole reason I was able to convince them to leave the safe cocoon of our private school to journey into the world of public school. 

And so I wake up fifteen minutes early each day so I can drive my kids to the bus stop {yes, they will inevitably hear about this for years to come}. It is only about a mile away, though, and I get a nice view of the sun rising over the bay each day. 

Now that we have a few weeks of school under our proverbial belt, I am able to tell by the sun's position on the horizon if we will be on time for the bus or if we should cross our fingers and hope the bus is a few minutes late. 

On time. 


Both photos were taken with my iPhone. 
I should lie and say I was safely stopped at a stop sign. 
But you know better -- I was racing to get to the bus stop on time! 

I'm linking up today at #iPPP

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is SpongeBob really bad for kids? Surely you jest!

Shocking news today in the New York Times: Researchers recently reported that young children (specifically, 4 year-olds) are negatively affected by watching SpongeBob Squarepants. 


In other breaking news: eating sticks of butter causes weight gain in some and may raise cholesterol levels as well.

Apparently the researchers separated children into three test groups -- group 1 watched SpongeBob, group 2 watched Caillou (a slower-paced cartoon), and group 3 drew quietly.  Various tests, designed to assess attention, memory, problem-solving and the delay of gratification, were administered immediately after the children watched the program. Astonishingly,  the tests concluded that “[t]he children who watched the cartoon were operating at half the capacity compared to other children.”

Apparently the fast-paced fantastical sequences of certain programs may prime young brains to “not be able to pay attention to something that is not so fantastic." Dr. Rahil Briggs, a psychologist and director of the Healthy Steps Program at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, further concludes that "you may be priming the brain to be almost A.D.H.D.-like impulsive.”

I must preface my comments by admitting this: my children watch television. My children have watched television from virtually the moment they were born. {My nightly routine with my infant twins included Baby Einstein videos. Remember those?! I swore I was contributing to their mental growth by allowing them to stare at a screen with bright shapes and colors. Also, I just needed one to stay in one place will I dressed and fed the other.} Suffice to say, I'm all for whatever works.

That said, duh!!!!

First off, any mother who has spent more than 30 seconds watching SpongeBob is quite aware it is not quality programming for a 4 year-old. It is loud. It is obnoxious. It is rude and absolutely non-sensical. Does anyone even doubt this other than the four year-old allowed to sit in front of the television watching SpongeBob and mainlining sugar?

Secondly, I fear the kids in the Caillou test group were simply thrilled to do anything other than listen to Caillou's whiny voice and boring "adventures." Tell me I am not alone, but I refused to let my kids watch Caillou for fear that they would magically morph into bald, whiny kids.

But clearly, most mothers do not park their kids in front of the TV because they hope to further their education -- it's out of self-preservation.

We need a break.

We need to eat.


Make dinner for the rest of our family.

But there are plenty of other choices. In fact, there is a plethora of quality programming out there for young children. For heaven's sake, there are entire commercial-free networks filled with music and alphabet games and an animated dancing moose!

Personally, I would enjoy nothing more than this very study leading to the show's decline.

Sadly, though, my opinion is not shared by the masses.

And despite this research I fear next time little Johnny screams "I want to watch SpongeBob!" Johnny will most likely get to watch SpongeBob so mom can deal with the laundry.

Besides, Johnny's mom does not read the New York Times. And furthermore, Johnny can simply start taking Ritalin when his impulsive behavior becomes overwhelming at school.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

God Bless America.

We are the land of the free because of the brave.

The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom. 

-Rudolph W. Giuliani. 
December 31, 2001

Friday, September 9, 2011

Family Rules.

I will not detail the myriad of reasons I felt it necessary to formally draft family rules. You do not want to know about the gnashing of teeth and sharpening of claws that occasionally all too often takes place in my home. Suffice to say, I was tired of hearing own voice calmly suggest scream "be nice." And besides, my duo is eight now. I thought it high time we graduated beyond the "be nice" stage. It's time to start thinking about how we treat others. Not just our own family, but everyone we encounter in life. 

And thus, "Our Family Rules" were born. You see the "be nice" theme throughout. My hope is that by saying it a few different ways it may sink in a bit further. A girl can dream. I will say it has been helpful to simply say: "You are breaking a Family Rule. Tell me which one." They run to the page, prominently displayed in the kitchen, and begin guessing. Of course they are often breaking more than one rule simultaneously so every guess is generally correct. 

Maybe this is simply redirection at its best. 

Maybe I'm teaching them valuable lessons to last a lifetime. 

Or maybe I just wanted to play around with all my fun fonts. 

It's anyone's guess. 
Do you have family rules?  What is my list missing?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heel of a sense of humor.

‘chewing gum’ by  kobi levi, 2009 (leather)

Designer Kobi Levi specializes in designing unusual footwear that blurs the line between
fashion and art. Levi graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem and has worked as a freelance designer since. He describes his personal shoe creations as "artistic footwear" making each pair in his studio by hand. "The shoe is my canvas. The trigger to create a new piece comes when an idea, a concept and/or an image comes to mind. The combination of the image and footwear creates a new hybrid and the design/concept comes to life. The piece is a wearable sculpture." 

Sculpture, yes.  But I think I'd opt to display these on my mantel opposed to on the streets! 

Absolutely amazing!

‘blow’ by  kobi levi, 2010 (leather)

‘tongue’ by  kobi levi, 2005 (leather)

‘dog’ by  kobi levi, 2010 (leather)

‘sling-shot’ by  kobi levi, 2010 (leather and wood)

‘xxx pump’ by  kobi levi, 2010 (leather)

‘tulip’ by  kobi levi, 2003 (leather and textile)

‘rocking chair’ by  kobi levi, 2003 (leather and cork)

‘androgyne’ by kobi levi, 2002 (leather)

‘double boots’ by kobi levi, 2000 (leather)

‘market trolley’ by kobi levi, 1998 (textile and rubber)

‘birds 1 toucan’ by kobi levi, 2011 (leather)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


My thoughts and prayers are currently with all the families affected by the wildfires raging in central Texas.   

via deannaroy.com

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Etiquette for a Lady.

This is not about crossing your ankles, not your legs or how to set a proper table. Etiquette of a Lady is a collection of quotes or sayings which may inspire you to be more admirable, virtuous, or maybe even courageous.  

We all need a bit of that inspiration from time to time. Browse around when you need a little boost or, if you are feeling particularly wise or witty, submit a rule

And for my one male reader {hi hubs!}, the companion site is Etiquette for Gentlemen

4,049 notes
4,339 notes
9,445 notes
4,609 notes
12,670 notes
4,861 notes
6,102 notes

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blog Design by Sweet Simplicity