Friday, March 30, 2012

Old Salem at Dusk, Part 2

Hi folks!  I don't mean to bore you all to death with my posts on Old Salem, but I wanted to share the rest of the pics that Mr. Forest Manor took earlier this week.  Overall, I was pleased with my pictures, but he took some really awesome photos that I just have to share.

The community of Old Salem is such an integral part of our town.  It is where we began; and even though progress continues all around it, Old Salem remains like a small bit of history -- preserved and restored.  All the power lines are buried underground, so except for the cars you see there, you do get a feeling of having stepped back 200 years in time.

I took a photo of this stone wall, which is in my previous post.  My husband took this picture at the end of the wall, showing the intersection of a brick sidewalk and path.  I like the two different patterns of brickwork here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Old Salem at Dusk

Hi everyone!  Are you enjoying these pretty spring days?  It sounds like some folks are getting late snows in their part of the country -- I hope it melts quickly for you.

I want to share some images of Old Salem with you.  I wrote about this historic area of our town last summer, which you can read about HERE and HERE.  Yesterday, hubby and I took some pictures there as twilight was falling.  We hadn't exactly planned it that way, but by the time we ate dinner and got to Old Salem, it was almost dusk.

This time around, we mainly took pictures of the church and the college.  The first photos are of  Home Moravian Church.  The church was built in 1799 and dedicated in 1800.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fences for Mosaic Monday

Hi all!  I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  We had lots of rain and some seriously loud thunderstorms.  It's still raining, as I write this at 8:45 p.m., but the weather is supposed to clear and be pretty tomorrow.

Last week I selected four photos which I've used in previous blog posts in order to participate in Vee's Note Card Party at A Haven For Vee.  The photos are of interesting fences that I felt would make pretty note cards.  After I did the post, I thought how neat they would look in a mosaic.  So I found a few more fence pictures from my blog posts to add to the group and made a mosaic for Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at Little Red House.  Thank you, Mary, for hosting this blog party.

I appreciate your visits and I hope you have a great Monday!


Friday, March 23, 2012

An Ode to the Redbud

Our Redbud Trees in North Carolina are in full bloom right now.  It seems as if, overnight, they just burst into glorious color.  Many people have them planted in their yards, but they also grow wild in the woods (along with the Dogwood Trees).  And this time of year, you can see the Redbuds blooming all along the highways and interstates of our region, announcing that spring is here.

I've always thought that Redbud is entirely the wrong name for these trees, for their blooms aren't red, but a wonderful, purplish-pink color.  For as long as I can remember, they have been one of my favorite trees.  They are typically quite hardy, and when they get larger, they provide a wonderful shade in summer with a canopy of heart-shaped leaves.

Redbuds are also known as Judas Trees, although I don't hear them called that very often.  According to the website, our native North American redbud is the Cercis canadensis, and "the specific redbud that is most often labeled Judas Tree is Cercis siliquastrum, and lives in Mediterranean and Asia Minor countries.  That tree is the one most associated as "Judea's Tree" and is supposedly the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself on after betraying Christ."

My North Carolina gardening book states that Redbuds are short-lived trees.  But in this case, I would beg to differ.  This old, and rather gnarled Redbud Tree in our front yard has been here since we moved in 16 years ago, and it was a mature tree at that time.  Since our house is 40 years old, I would bet the tree is at least that old.  In addition, it survived damage from a serious tornado that hit ours and surrounding neighborhoods in 1999.  You can see in the pictures where some of the big limbs were broken, and its shape is not the prettiest.  Yet there is something dignified in the way this tree continues to stand as sentinel at the top of our driveway.  It blooms every year like clockwork, and I'm quite attached to it after all these years.

Here are some pictures I took yesterday afternoon when the sky was partly overcast.


You can see the stunted shape of some of the limbs in the picture below.

The front of our house gets the bright morning sun, and since it wasn't foggy this morning, I zipped outside with my camera to try and get some more pictures of the tree.  I then noticed that my next-door neighbor's younger and smaller Redbud was blooming, and the sun was shining directly on it.

I just love those tiny pink blooms against the backdrop of a blue, blue sky.

Now for some close-ups...

Do you have Redbud Trees in your part of the world?  If so, are they blooming now?

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and taking time to leave a comment.  I always enjoy reading them.  :)  I hope you have a great weekend -- ours is predicted to be rainy.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Note Card Party

I'm joining the other folks at Vee's blog, A Haven for Vee, to participate in her note card party.  Just select four photos that you've already used in one of your existing blog posts.  I'm using a theme of "fences" for my note cards, with a caption for each photo.  I am fascinated by pretty fences.  Whether they're elegant wrought iron, rustic wood, or white picket fences, I can't resist photographing them.  I think I'd enjoy seeing these on note cards.  :)

 Episcopal Church -- Highlands, North Carolina

 Rustic Garden Fence -- Old Salem, North Carolina

Ireland, 1999

 Wrought-Iron Hearts -- Wilmington, North Carolina

As always, I appreciate your visits, and I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Which fence do you like best?


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Beginning a Kitchen Remodel

Hi everyone!  I hope all of you had a great weekend and hopefully enjoyed celebrating a bit o' the Irish.  I have a partial metamorphosis to share with you today.  We're having our kitchen remodeled; that's right, we're dragging it bringing it into the 21st century.  This is so exciting for me because I've waited 16 years to do this.

Our house was built in 1972, and we're the third owners.  The first owners had it custom built and lived here 22 years.  The second owners lived here two years before they relocated to Atlanta.  And as of this summer, we will have lived here for 16 years.

Thankfully, the second owners did some re-modeling and updating to the house while they were here.  When we viewed the house, they told us that most of the house still had its original 1970's decor when they moved in.  The kitchen had orange Formica counter tops, yellow, tile backsplash, and avocado green appliances.  A Brady Bunch kitchen for sure.

The young couple who sold us the house updated most of the kitchen as soon as they purchased the house.  They took down the original wallpaper and replaced it with a pattern that I really liked for many years.  They replaced the orange counter top with white Formica, which has remained in pretty good condition.  They replaced the yellow backsplash.  They also replaced all the appliances with shiny, new white ones, and a white porcelain sink.  What they didn't replace was the linoleum floor and the cabinets (the most expensive part of the re-model).

Have a look at our 40 year old cabinets.  I'm trying not to cringe when I see them in photos.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Pink Saturday and Happy St. Patrick's Day

Hi everyone!  What gorgeous weather we've had this week!!  Just in time for Pink Saturday...

My husband took these pictures of our Saucer Magnolia, or Tulip Magnolia, about two weeks ago.  We had a freeze three nights later, and yesterday we had a thunderstorm, so the blooms are mostly on the ground at this point.  It was pretty while it lasted. :)

Does anyone have plans for celebrating St. Paddy's Day tomorrow?  Some of the Irish restaurants in our area are having all-day buffets, starting around 10:30 a.m., and Irish bands performing all day, as well.  Lots of festivities.  Hope you enjoy the day wherever you may be!

If you'd like to see more pictures from our trip to Ireland, you can click on the posts HERE and HERE.  Thanks for visiting me, and I'm joining Pink Saturday, hosted by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound, Seasonal Sundays, hosted by The Tablescaper, and Mosaic Monday, hosted by Mary at Little Red House.

All the best!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Land of Shamrocks, Part 2

St. Paddy's Day hasn't arrived yet, but everyone is still celebrating.  There's a whole lot of celebrating going on over at Cuisine Kathleen's place.  She's hosting the Fourth Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Party Crawl (try saying that three times really fast) :)

I thought I would leave you with a few last images of Ireland from the trip we took in 1999 (you can see Part 1 of our trip HERE).  But I also wanted to share some thoughts about my experience.  I so appreciate all the nice comments people left on the first part of my post.  It's amazing how many out there have Irish roots and have traveled to Ireland.  A few of you mentioned "The Troubles" in your comments.  When we think of Ireland, we think of the beauty -- the unbelievable green land, the magical light, the flowers, cottages, and the hospitable people.  And unfortunately, most of us think of "The Troubles."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ireland, The Land of Shamrocks

This week it seems that in America and across the big pond; in the old country and the new, almost everyone is celebrating being Irish.  Some folks can claim a true Irish heritage, and others are Irish only in spirit.  But either way, we all seem to enjoy the experience of St. Patrick's Day.

In April of 1999, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to England and Ireland with my husband, who was spending a lot of time there on a big computer project for work.  The company he works for has a facility in England and one in Northern Ireland.  Now I realize that Northern Ireland is not really Ireland proper, as it's actually part of Great Britain.  But, if you have a rental car, the Republic of Ireland is within driving distance and one can spend the day there, which is what we did.

It really was a great adventure, this trip.  I'm so thankful I had the chance to go.  It was mostly a working trip for my husband, but at least he was able to be free on the weekends, and that's when we did most of our sightseeing.

Our trip was scheduled for ten days, and two of those were spent in the air between London and Raleigh, North Carolina.  One day was spent traveling to Belfast, Northern Ireland.  So that left us with five days in England and two full days in Ireland.

I don't have a lot of pictures of Ireland, but I'll share what I have.  We didn't own a digital camera in 1999, and these pictures were made on my beloved Canon Sureshot, 35mm, automatic focus.  My parents gave it to Mr. Forest Manor and I for our first Christmas.  It was so easy to use, and it actually took pretty good pictures.

I spent about two hours today scanning all these pictures into Picasa and editing some of them.  To be almost 13 years old, they've held up pretty well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kay's Kitchen

Hi everyone!  I want to share some pictures of my mom's friend Kay's new kitchen.  Kay and my mom are both retired now, but they worked together for over twenty years.  They and their other girlfriends from the office still get together every year to celebrate birthdays and Christmas.

Kay was kind enough to welcome me into her home and let me take some pics of her sparkling, new kitchen.  It really looks like something from a magazine or HGTV.

Kay lives in a 1960's era house, and she is gradually re-doing it, room by room.  I plan to visit her again and take pictures of the rest of her home for another post.  But for now, here is Kay's pretty, white kitchen.

Kay explained that there were no cabinets or counter tops on this wall prior to the re-model.  The space was open and intended to be used as an eating area.  Kay had the contractor add these cabinets with an open shelf for her microwave oven.  All the cabinets are new, custom cabinets.  She had some of the left-over granite made into a cutting board for the counter top.

She requested that the contractor design this curved area for the counter top so that she could put a stool there for eating.  I love this idea!  You can see her hardwood floors in the above picture.

Kay went with a stainless sink and refrigerator in her new kitchen.  I think stainless looks great in an all- white kitchen. 

I really LOVE her shiny subway tiles!

Kay had the existing cabinets above her sink replaced with these floating shelves.  She said now she doesn't bump her head on the cabinet doors, and she can display her white dishes.

I love the way her lights throw shadows on the wall above her plates here.  Isn't her green plant cute on the end of the shelf?  Kay said she liked the contrast of the rustic clay pot with the pristine white shelves, back splash and dishes.

I didn't think to write this down, but I believe she said the name/color of her granite is "White Cashmere".  I love the magnetic strip for storing and displaying her knives.

This is such a cute, French art poster.  Kay's son and daughter-in-law are both veterinarians, and they gave her this poster print.  I think it's charming and perfect for the style of her kitchen.

Contemporary track lighting was installed overhead, with brushed nickle mount and trim to blend with her cabinet hardware and faucet.

I used our small point and shoot camera, but I was really pleased with the quality of these pictures.  I think the main reason for that is the combination of track lighting and good natural daylight in her kitchen.  The photos were taken in mid-afternoon.

Kay gets natural light from her window and door, which look onto her back yard.

Kay had a local sheet metal company make the metal back splash for her stove.  She explained that she still has to get her hood and vent fan.  Once that's installed, this piece will look more in proportion to her stove.

Another cute art print from her son and daughter-in-law :)

Kay found this small silver tray at a thrift shop and used it to keep some of  her cooking condiments (and a small silver-framed photo) next to the stove.

A few last photos of the kitchen...

I couldn't resist taking a few pics of Kay's living room -- or I should say, one wall of her living room.  She had a contractor build a new mantel and bookshelves for her fireplace.  He matched the dental molding on the bookcases to that of the mantel.  So classy!!  In my opinion, bookcases or built-in shelves are one of the most wonderful additions we can make to our homes.  Books really make a house a home, and bookshelves are great for displaying other keepsakes and objets d'art, as well. 

I really love the glass doors and doorknobs on these bookcases.  Her flat, tile hearth and white, painted brick fireplace are like the one we had in our 1920's home in Greensboro many years ago.  We didn't have the bookcases on either side, though.  I would have loved those!

Kay found this great bench/ottoman at a thrift shop.  When she looked under the seat, she saw that it carried the label of a fine furniture store in our town that had gone out of business some years ago.

She found the fabric on clearance and had the bench re-upholstered.  It looks great in front of her fireplace, and she said it provides extra seating for visitors and family.  I love the black-painted legs.

Thanks so much, Kay, for inviting us into your home, and sharing your beautiful kitchen and smart design ideas!  I had a great time!

I'll show pictures of the rest of Kay's home in another post.  Thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoyed the tour.

**Addendum to this post:  I know this kitchen looks so new and clean and immaculate; we could easily wonder if it ever gets used for, you know, actual cooking.  The answer to that question is -- yes.  Kay is giving a dinner party for 13 of her neighbors this coming Saturday evening.  I e-mailed her to ask about the menu.  She wrote: " I plan to serve chicken pie, Honey Baked Ham, lima beans, garden salad with homemade dressing, and sweet potato souffle.  Dessert will include orange crush pound cake and Scotch chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.  Most everyone is elderly and I know they prefer comfort food.  I will have little spring bouquets on each table."  What lucky neighbors you have, Kay. :)


Spring Break

Our son is home on Spring Break.  Yay!  Last year he barely stopped in between two trips that week.  It's nice to have him here!  :)   Unfortunately, we were committed to a three-hour Photoshop class on Monday and Tuesday night (too much).  One class was a make-up, as the instructor has a seriously ill father and had to miss a class a few weeks ago.

It seems that Photoshop Elements offers a lot of creating and editing functions.  In pictures of people, for instance, you can remove "red eyes" and whiten teeth.  And you can bring some contrast back to old black and white or sepia photos that have faded over time; of course you have to scan those into your computer first in order to do this.  You can remove unwanted objects (and people) from your photos.  Interesting.  You can also make greeting cards and photo albums with your pictures.

My husband really wanted us to take this class, and I did learn a few things.  We learned a quick and painless way to watermark our photos.  That was the big thing I wanted to get from the class.  But there is so much to learn, we were only able to touch on topics somewhat briefly in the duration of the class.  It was fairly intense and moved quickly.  I feel like I've been learning a lot of techie things lately to keep my blog updated, and now I'm ready to do some fun and creative things again.

I still love Picasa, and find it so user-friendly for blogging.  I feel like I'll still be using it for most of the things I do.  I need to double check, but I'm pretty sure you can link your photos in Photoshop to Picasa.  I'll let you know on that, for those people who might be interested in learning Photoshop.

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy spending time with our son while he's home.  What have you been up to this week?


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dining at Bianca's

Tonight we had dinner at Bianca's.  I think that has a nice ring to it.  Don't you think it has a certain panache  -- sort of like Breakfast at Tiffany's?  I know; I thought so too.  :)

Just so you know, Bianca's is our favorite Italian restaurant on the continent of North America.  It truly is.  We consider it a special treat to have dinner there.  Would you like to see a menu?

DH and I think that Bianca's gives you a lot of bang for your buck.  Every entree includes the appetizer of the day, salad with homemade Italian dressing, garlic bread (also the best in North America), and main entree.  If your entree is a non-pasta entree, you get a side order of the pasta of the day; and last, but not least, dessert of the day.  Oh, and by the way, there is no pizza on this menu.  You'll have to go down the street to get that. ;)

The owner/chef of Bianca's, Lisa Carmella is of course, Italian.  She told us that her family is from Sicily, but she actually prefers the cuisine of Northern Italy.  Before opening Bianca's, Lisa managed a resort in Europe and had the opportunity to work with some of the chefs there.  So many of her dishes reflect the influence of northern Italy, France and Switzerland.  In addition, the menu includes traditional Sicilian style pastas with red sauce, such as lasagna, manicotti, and chicken parmigiana.  And I honestly think I could eat a bowl of her fresh tomato sauce all by itself.  Yum!  Her manicotti is the best I've ever tasted.  The crepes are homemade -- so creamy and delicate.

Her seafood dishes are really wonderful.  They tend to be lighter, with delicate sauces and seasonings.  The menu seems to have something for everyone.  She has vegetarian dishes, chicken dishes, beef, veal, pork, and seafood.

Now, how about some pictures?

Bianca's is a rather small and unassuming restaurant, but like the bright blue, jewel tones of the decor, it is a real jewel of a restaurant.  I like the size; I think it feels intimate and really adds to the charm.  And it has a following.  I think a lot of university students and faculty tend to frequent Bianca's, along with other Greensboro regulars. 

Our appetizer this evening was Bruschetta.

I love the presentation of the salad.

Delicious, golden-brown garlic bread,

and just about exactly five minutes and twenty seconds later...

Well, maybe I exaggerated a tad.  But it disappeared pretty quickly.

DH had the salmon special tonight.  I had the manicotti, and the bowl of pasta in the picture goes with the salmon entree.  You won't leave here hungry.

For dessert, there was cake with Nutella icing.

I think I've made it pretty obvious that we love Bianca's.  But judging by the awards on the walls, it seems that a large part of Greensboro and the surrounding Triad thinks so, too.  And they've cast their votes, year after year.

I love the plaque on the left:  "Best Restaurant for First Dates Winners Award.  1st Place."  :)  And 50 First Dates later, Mr. Forest Manor and I are still enjoying the food and the ambiance.

If you live in or near Greensboro, I hope you'll give Bianca's a try next time you're in the mood for good Italian food.  Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and "Buon Appetito!"

I'm joining the other bloggers at Seasonal Sundays, hosted by the Tablescaper.


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