Monday, June 27, 2011

My Newest Sign: The South

The South - The place where…

1) Tea is sweet and accents are sweeter
2) Summer starts in April
3) Macaroni & cheese is a vegetable
4) Front porches are wide and words are long
5) Pecan pie is a staple
6) Y’all is the only proper noun
7) Chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy
8) Everything is Darlin’
9) And someone’s heart is always being blessed

Now I ask you, what’s not to love about a place like this?

Three guesses as to where Ken bought this for me? You’re right, it was Savannah! How did you know?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Additional Photos of Paula Deen's Beach House

Here are additional photos of the beach house. Blogger is giving me some problems tonight, so I had to publish this in two separate postings...

Unbelievably, the house also has a personal elevator. As the kitchen is on the second floor, getting groceries, luggage and supplies upstairs was made easier by this great feature. :)

Hospitality, Paula Deen Style

As anyone who has read my blog for very long knows, I love Savannah, Georgia. We just went there in March for a spring vacation with our son who was on break from college. Some of you also know that my husband surprised me by making reservations for us at Paula Deen’s personal beach house. And as unbelievable as that sounds, it’s true. She has a couple of beach houses on Tybee Island (just outside Savannah), and this one is advertised as “Paula’s personal beach house” and is marketed with Mermaid Cottages. We had visited Tybee Island before, but had previously stayed at the Hyatt on River Street and at the Hamilton Turner Bed & Breakfast in Savannah. We highly recommend both of those, but this time decided to try something different, so Ken made reservations at this beach house.

So, regarding our recent stay, here are the questions I have received:
1. Did you really stay at Paula Deen’s personal beach house?
2. Do you guys know Paula?
No. We all did meet her a few years ago when I attended one of her cooking classes. This was before Paula was the mega-media presence she is today. (Just for the record, I am a Paula FAN but not a groupie who follows her from place to place - a fan but not a fanatic.) At that time she held cooking classes, in both her restaurant and Uncle Bubba’s, her brother’s restaurant. The one I attended was at Uncle Bubba’s. To read about that adventure, please check out this blog entry:
3. Did you have to pay to stay there?
Uh, yep. We were fortunate that it was officially “off season” (the first time EVER we have rented a beach house off season!), and they do offer discounts. If you 're interested, be sure to ask when you call them. Anyone who has rented a beach house knows it’s not cheap. It was very comparable to others in the area, though.
4. What did the house look like? How was it decorated? Did you take pictures?
The house was beautiful, but not austentacious. It was decorated in her home furnishings collection and was complete with her line of cookware, dishes, and other things that I did not even know she endorses. There were dozens of family photographs adorning the walls and shelves. Anyone who has watched Paula for even a couple of episodes would recognize many in the photos. I am including some pictures we took during our week there.
5. Would you stay there again?
In a heartbeat! It was a wonderful location – close to the beach and not far from Savannah, my favorite place in the world. I would have to say, though, that the customer service and attention we received from Mermaid Cottages was unsurpassed. We have rented several beach houses through the years along the Outer Banks and never received service as good as what we received from them.
This photo was taken the day of the class. If you’re interested, you can read about that on the 9/9/09 posting on my blog. Here is the address (you'll probably have to cut and paste it into your browser):

But our trip this past March was a quickly planned trip to enjoy time with our son while he was on his spring break. Matthew wanted a place where he could walk on the beach but still have plenty of other things to do nearby. Naturally, we thought of Savannah (ok, I thought of Savannah!). So, Ken made accommodations and we were all delighted with them. The house was called, “Y’all Come Inn.” Now I ask you, how appropriate is that?! It was beautifully decorated and filled with lots of family photos and personal items. Paula’s cookware, dishes and home furnishing lines were well represented, too. It really was lovely. There were lots of small welcome gifts as well as a lot of varieties of sauces, spices and Captain Michael’s Coffee, as well. I was especially pleased with all the “little things” they provided. We have rented several beach houses through the years and this one was by far the best equipped. Part of the package also included a personalized cookbook.
The very best part, though, was that VIP reservations were made for us at both The Lady & Sons (Paula’s restaurant) and Uncle Bubba’s (her brother’s seafood restaurant). If you have been to The Lady & Sons or know someone who has, you are well aware that reservations are unheard of there. I’m not sure how it’s done now, but we when were first there several years ago, you had to stand in line to get a time to come back to stand in line a shorter time to get your table. I kid you not! And the first two times we went were in August and my sweet husband stood in that hot sun to get dinner times for us. At that time they formed reservation lines twice daily: one in the morning for lunch and then one later in the day for supper. People started standing in line hours before they started giving dining times, so it was not uncommon to stand there for 1-3 hours, just to get a time to go back and wait to get in. Crazy stuff, I’m telling ya! But….that all changed with this last visit. We were given reservations as often as we wanted in the week at both restaurants.
That was all due to my thoughtful husband.

And the food was wonderful. It’s like the food I was raised on and still make - the good, stick-to-your-ribs, country cooking. Fried chicken that melts in your mouth, green beans with ham and new potatoes, barbeque pork ribs, homemade dressing, macaroni and cheese, hoe cakes and cheese biscuits and so, so much more. And this was just part of the buffet. Delicious sweet tea with a mint garnish and several desserts to choose from are also part of the buffet. You can order from a complete menu, too. I wonder, though, who would go there and NOT have the buffet? I can’t imagine!
I’ve had lots of questions about our stay at Paula’s house and about visiting Savannah. If you have questions you’d like me to answer on the blog, please write me and I’ll answer them here. Leave a comment on the blog, email me or facebook me and I’ll answer your questions if I can.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Georgia On My Mind

I don’t know what it is about Savannah, I really don’t. But for some reason when I get there I feel like I’ve gone home. And that’s just really weird since I had never been there until about five years ago. I mean, I’m from the south originally - Virginia - but I’ve lived so many places, it’s hard to imagine any place other than where we are now being home. As newlyweds, we began our married life in South Carolina and later lived in North Carolina. I think combined we lived in the Carolinas maybe 8 years. And we loved those places. But Savannah feels different. It's just....different. After our recent trip there in early March, my husband saw that familiar look in my eyes when we finally reached Savannah after hours and hours of driving. “Do I need to find a job here?” he asked. “Maybe,” I answered.

Even he and our college-aged son seem to feel an affinity for the area. Maybe it’s because I’m so drawn to it (and they therefore hear so much about it), I don’t know. We love where we live. Absolutely love it. This past winter has not made me happy, but otherwise we love Ohio and truly love our adopted hometown of Orrville. There is truly no place like it. It’s a good thing, because I think I’d be ready to head back south if it weren’t for that.

What is it I love so much about Savannah? If you've been to Savannah I think you'll understand a bit of my mentality here. If you haven't, I hope you get to go sometime! Here's just a taste of what you'll see... Now I ask you: what's not to love? ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Got to Wear Sandals!

We had not planned on a spring vacation this year. In fact, we rarely do much outside of home, work and school this time of year. So when we had the opportunity to go in March, it was a true gift. We decided to go then because our son’s summer schedule became pretty structured and full, when he accepted an internship. We were – and are – thrilled about the opportunity, but our August vacation schedule became a thing of the past all of a sudden.

So, we talked about what we should do for a spring break vacation. Since this past winter was especially cold and snowy, we all wanted to go someplace warm. So, we discussed our options. Well, my beloved Savannah, Georgia won out, because it fit all our requirements. Having been there twice before, we knew it met all our wants and needs for our trip. And what were those?

Ken just wanted all of us to be together and spend fun time as a family. Savannah provided that. He surprised me with a week at Paula Deen’s personal beach house (more on that later), where we were able to relax and enjoy fun, unstructured time as a family. It was awesome! (Yes, he IS the best!)

Matthew wanted to be able to walk on the beach and have fun things to do nearby. We actually stayed on Tybee Island, just outside Savannah. Both areas cater to tourists and have tons of fun things to do – both day and night – and we tried lots of new adventures. And yes, we walked on the beach. :)

Me? Well, I just wanted to wear sandals. So, it needed to be some place warm – or at least warmer than it was here at that time of year. I’ve always loved sandals but had no idea how much I had missed them until I wanted to wear them here and the temperatures were still below freezing - not exactly conducive to baring the piggies.

Because I talked about my desire to wear sandals so much before we ever left for vacation, Ken insisted on taking a photo of me wearing sandals while we were gone. So, my friends, I am including the photo of me in sandals - or at least NEAR my old, trusty kickabouts (I love these sandals so much that I have 3 different colors in the same style!). I know I am no foot model, but I can tell you that I was not particular about where we went; I just wanted to wear sandals. Funny what’s important to us, isn’t it? It seems every vacation has some fun memories associated with it. For me, being able to wear sandals ranks right up there this year.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Am I Lucky, or What?

Are you a worrier? Do you often find yourself concerned about things over which you have no control? Well, it has been said that I have these tendencies. I can’t say I’m proud of this, but I can admit it is true (that is the first step in overcoming something, right?). When I think back about times I’ve been worried, and there are many – waaaayyy too many…. One in particular comes to mind, though.

About 10 years ago my husband was asked to speak at a national Toyota conference in beautiful C'oeur d' Lane, Idaho. I was invited to go as his guest and I must tell you, we were treated royally while guests of Toyota, and I still have fond memories of our time in Coeur de Lane (I wrote about this previously in a posting called, "What I've Learned About Hospitality from Others.")
(If this link doesn't work, just copy and paste into your browser to read, or type in "Toyota" in my search box.)

Again, let me say that I have great memories of our time there. The flight home was another story. should tell you that I am not a good flier anyway. I always dread flying and am so grateful when the trip – whatever it is – is behind me. But that particular trip home gave me a new appreciation for flying – or more specifically, landing. The beginning of the flight home was uneventful – my kind of trip. As we got closer to the Midwest, though, the weather changed dramatically and we had a lot of turbulence. It was loud and rocky and I was scared. I found myself very glad that our only child was safe at home with my dad and stepmom, who had come up from Tennessee for the week to take care of him. And as the trip progressed, I was also very grateful for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, because I thought for sure I was about to meet Him.

I was in my seat praying and praying, trying to remain calm. I found myself thinking (and then saying aloud), “Peace! Be still” from Mark 4:39, when Jesus calmed the storm. “Peace! Be still,” I repeated to myself over and over. Others in the plane were clearly nonplussed, too. My husband, Ken? Nah. He was as calm as a cucumber . In fact, He took one look at me and started singing Veggie Tales songs to calm me. Veggie Tales! The words I heard were, “Oh where, is my hairbrush? Oh where, is my hairbrush?” Now to fully appreciate this, you need to understand that my husband is (self-proclaimed) follicle-y challenged. That is to say, very kindly, that he has very little hair. (It’s like I tell him, God made some heads perfect, and on the others He put hair.) But you get the message: this man takes it upon himself to calm the fear in the woman he loves. I am truly blessed.

Oh, and he has quite a sense of humor about it, too. This week we were relaxing in the family room and I was lamenting about something or other. We talked about it and I felt better. Then, I thought of another concern, which I mentioned to him. He raised his hand up in the air and touched his fingers against his thumb while moving his hand through the air. “Beep….beep….beep” he kept repeating. “What are you doing,” I asked? He smiled. I said, “What? What is it?” He smiled again, raised his arm up and again I heard, “Beep….beep….beep.” I was so confused. Then, he looked at me and said, “Your worry is like a heat-seeking missile. It keeps going until it lands on something.”

Yes, it is SO true that opposites attract. Poor guy, I wonder if he even had an inkling of what he was in for all those years ago when he asked me to marry him? Whether he knew or not, bless his heart, he’s stood in there with me. I am so blessed. It’s not every woman who can brag about a husband who sings Veggie Tales songs to calm her and tells her she’s got a personality like a heat-seeking missile! Am I lucky, or what?