Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monticello, Beautiful Country, and Thomas Jefferson

From Monday to Wednesday this past week we went on a little road trip. We went to Charlottesville, Virginia to visit Thomas Jefferson's beloved Monticello, and believe it or not, The Walton's Museum. They don't seem to go together, but they are surprisingly from the same neighborhood, so to speak.

I must put in print, since it's my blog, that Thomas Jefferson is not a man I admire. He wrote about equality of man, but had 200 slaves at any given time. He even gave a slave to his daughter for a wedding present. Although not proven, it may have even been her half-sister, as he may have had children with his slave, Sally Hemmings, who happened to be his wife's half-sister. But it was his parlor that bothered me. He wanted it to be educational so he had maps, paintings, fossils, and a display of Indian artifacts (can you tell a woman was not decorating his home?????) This is the President who was responsible for the Indian Removal Act. Here he has a collection of their culture, but his writings show he preferred to assimilate the Native Americans to "Western European" culture. But after the Louisana Purchase, he moved them further west. Not only that, although Andrew Jackson is credited for the "Indian Extermination Act" it was actually Thomas Jefferson that wrote it. He said that if any Indian raises it's hatchet to an American, it's tribe shall be exterminated.

Many consider him brillant. I believe him to be a hypocrit at best. And although I wouldn't call Monticello ugly, it was completely out of place on the top of a mountain. He admired Roman architecture, so he wanted the domes and octagonal rooms. But he preferred the rooms to be basically empty except for books and desks. He even had all his beds put into the walls so they didn't take up floor space. I'm not an expert, but there was no focal point in the rooms, and space for space sake doesn't make a room inviting or cozy.

We weren't permitted to take pictures inside, so I took some outside Monticello, which to me, was the spectacular part of the place:

The gardens of Monticello were something to be envied. They were large and thriving. One of the workers used a John Deere tractor to carry the day's harvest away.

This is Bill and I standing at the back of Monticello. Other than us, this is the pic on the back of the nickel. The lady in the blue tank top would not get out of the way.

This is the sweet little house Thomas Jefferson and his new bride Martha lived in for a year while Monticello was being built (for the first time, it was built and re-built for forty years). History records show as they travelled home for the first time after they were married, they were in the worst snowstorm on record. They eventually abandoned the wagon and arrived on horseback. I would have been happy to live here.

His kitchen was really state of the art for a colonial kitchen. This is his "stove." Most colonial kitchens cooked from the fireplace. He had these individual charcoal burners built for "stove-top" cooking. He sent two slaves to France to be schooled in French cooking. His kitchen was equipped with copper pots and pans, and was actually quite nice for the time period.

This pic was taken on one of the decks. It serves no other purpose other than I thought it was a decent pic of us.

Jefferson had an extensive wine cellar. He learned to love wines at a young age and had dreams of Virginia becoming a great wine-growing country. His vineyards didn't do well, but future ones have thrived.

We stopped by Cracker Barrel on the way home. A bunch of duck came from the nearby pond hoping for biscuits for their dinner. They left their thanks all over the sidewalk.

A Visit to the Home of The Hamner's....and The Walton's

With my hubby, sister Kelley, and her husband, we got in our buggy with many horses under the hood and stepped back into time when we went to Schuyler, Virginia, home of Earl Hamner, Jr., creator of the Waltons. Now God Bless that town, if ol' Earl hadn't become famous, it would have been wiped off the map a long time ago. it used to be a thriving town when the Hamner family lived there, but all that's left is a few jobs in the soapstone factory, The Walton Family Museum, the Walton memorabilia store, and the boyhood home of Earl Hamner which was bought from auction in 2003 and restored.

The museum is the old school the kids all went to. A foundation has acquired whole sets from the show: living room, kitchen, Ike's store, John-boy's bedroom, and the Baldwin sister's livingroom and moonshine still. Plus covering every wall is so much memorabilia both about the Hamner family, and the show family, you could spend all day there. I never really watched The Waltons much, but I love The Homecoming, the Christmas show that preceded the series. Here are some photos of the visit:

Bill and I are getting ready to enter the museum.

I'm standing next to the Baldwin Sister's Recipe Machine. My family is from West Virginia and I must admit, that the Moonshine Still did not look completely unfamiliar to me. :)

The is the living room from the show. it's also the same furniture used in The Homecoming, well the couches are for sure.

They actually had a really nice, functional kitchen. It's just needs a little updating, ha ha.

God Bless all the women who used cookstoves. My great-grandmother is among them. Can you imagine doing more than just turning it on????

Kelley and I are always looking for kooky photo ops. We actually had to go into another room and get into a closet for this shot. Ike and Corabeth look annoyed with us.

This is the house Earl Hamner and family grew up in. in 2003 it was sold at auction for somewhere in the $120,000's. The woman who bought it, restored it back to it's orginial condition. It took four years. Earl Hamner walked into it once and said it looked just like when he was a kid. They wanted $10 a person or $7.00 a person for a group of four or more to tour it. We passed on that tour.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bradford Pear Trees......Not for the Long Haul.......

This past June while we were in Myrtle Beach, we lost one of our Bradford Pear Trees. To quote Grandpa Walton when he showed John-Boy which Christmas tree to cut down, "It's what I've watched grow for all the days of her life." My husband Bill planted all three trees when they weren't much more than sticks with leaves. For 12 years I've watched them grow through all the seasons. Until June, they had all three grown so much they were touching each other. It's so sad to have one gone, with the others to follow, soon, I'm sure. The builder of our neighborhood gave almost everyone at least one Bradford Pear, and out of 39 homes, you could count on one hand how many are now left. Mine didn't even fall during a great wasn't even raining. Just a freak gust of wind was all it took. I'm glad no one was standing in the yard.

This was the first season the trees were planted in 1998. The little tree to the right of the house is the one that is now gone.

This was taken in 2005. They were putting in a sewer so that is the mess in the yard. The tree is to the right of the truck.

The tree in all it's glory this past Spring.

This is all that is left of the tree. You can see right through it because the center core of the tree is what snapped in a freak gust of wind. We will have to cut down what is left and grind down the stump. I can't bear to do it till the leaves are's pretty ugly now, but it's still alive, so I will wait till they all lose their leaves. Then it shall be the final goodbye..........

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Some things I've been making in the kitchen

It used to be that I'd get in the mood to cook and try new recipes. Over the last several years I haven't really wanted to cook, so it feels exciting that I've had such an interest the last several months to want to make new things. Here are some things I've tried out on my family recently:

This is Bruschetta. My daughter Susan actually made the Bruschetta, which is chopped Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, red onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and season to taste. I fried the french bread in garlic infused olive oil. I told Susan I had to do something, or else I couldn't post it as something I made.

I found this recipe in a cookbook I bought at a yardsale. It's called Broccoli/Spinach Bake. It's really easy to put together and looks really pretty on the table. Everyone who has tried it has loved it. It's a great side dish for chicken or pork, or even to take to a church potluck dinner.

I admitted in my last blog I'm learning how to fry chicken. I've been successful so far frying chicken with the skin on. Last night I fried boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. These things were really huge, so I cut them in half, then I even cut the thickness of the halves in half. (Does that even make sense??) I use a seasoned flour by House of Autry. It's really good and saves me from having to season my flour as this one is perfect. After I patted the chicken fillets dry, I coated them with the seasoned flour, dipped them in egg, then coated them again. I shook off any excess, then fried them in 1/2 inch of canola oil. They came out perfect. Very juicy and tender.

I just tried this recipe today. It's called "eggs in a nest" and I saw it on the movie "Moonstruck." You take a slice of french bread (Which I had left over from the Bruschetta) and make a hole in the center. I then buttered the bread and put it in a hot pan. I cracked the egg into the hole and let it cook. I thought flipping it over would be tricky, but it actually went well. You can top with bacon and keep your egg sunnyside up, but I don't like mine that way. This was very tasty!

This is a Spinach and Ham Quiche I made for dinner one night. I even made the crust, which always seemed so intimating to me, but my sister Kelley showed me how to do it with the food processor and it's really quite easy. A Quiche is great for any meal, as it makes such a pretty presentation and is so easy to prepare, but it looks like you spent alot of time in the kitchen. Oh, and real men DO eat Quiche!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Long Overdue Update

Wow, it's so hard to believe that so much time has passed since I've last posted. Good thing one of my New Year's resolutions wasn't to blog more. So much has happened since my last post.

First, my daughter Julie and granddaughter Cassidy have moved into their own home again. The house has been way to quiet without Cassidy around all the time. But they are so happy to be in their own home.

Second, my daughter Melissa has gotten married. It was quite a surprise and if it's possible to elope but only be 20 minutes from your parents house, then that is what they did. But they seem happy so I'm happy for them. It's also one more person out of my house, and since she's still technically a teen that I know longer have to police, it's quite the bonus.

Third, my husband Bill retired from his job in April. I wasn't expecting that for another 18 months. I'm still looking for the book about what to do with a husband who is young, healthy and active, but no longer has a job. It has been quite an adjustment. How many vacations can you take in one summer? Well, we are getting ready for our third trip to Myrtle Beach since May, and that's not counting day trips and weekend getaways. He's like a kid on summer vacation. We are suppose to be getting the house ready to sell, but honestly, how can you do that when you are never home? It's just as well. There are so many foreclosures and short sales on the market, and we don't even know where we are going to move. We've been talking about it for a couple of years, so what's another year????

Lastly, my firstborn has returned to the nest. Now this is the daughter I never thought would live with me again. Trust me when I tell you this was the move of last resort for her. We put her downstairs in the "green room" which is the only room in the house where we haven't replaced the carpet. We save that room for the adult kids, who aren't used to following the rule of "No drinks allowed out of the kitchen." She's great to have around as she has such a fun personality. She also works long hours, and she's taking me to San Francisco, CA in January when her job has their convention, so I'm being extra nice to her.

Well, that's a general overview of the major things that have happened since my last blog. I have a sister that says blogs are no good without photos, so I posted a few for this one as well......

I've been trying to fry chicken without getting 2nd degree burns. I finally figured out that if I pat the chicken dry before I dip it in egg and coat it, it will fry without splattering grease. This chicken was really good.

Here I am driving our boat. I don't really drive it though. I can usually be found on the back of it reading a good book.

Cassidy's first day in the pool. Does this get-up scream "Over-protective Mom" or what????