Sunday, August 24, 2014

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

The sun was shining brightly this past week in the Carolinas. It has been the perfect weather to hold on to the remaining days of summer. The children in our county are back in school, and leaves have just begun to fall off the trees as we drift into Autumn.
Let me recap my weekend for you, how about some calming music in the background? The music is a good reflection of this weekend. Calm, peaceful and especially relaxing surrounded by floral splendor. Firstly, Thursday my hubby bought me these pretty flowers, which I arranged with some greenery from our garden.
Secondly, my hubby started his first week at insp, the family network last week. I talked a little about the calamities that happened to us unexpectedly the week before he started, but with fortunate grace everything somehow worked itself out.
Then on Saturday, we went for a drive to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. It was a nice drive, with views of Lake Wylie and country roads. When we arrived we slowed down, opened our windows and took in this breath of fresh air.
The tickets are $12 per adult, but while checking online for the opening and closing time I just so happened upon Groupon tickets for the two of us for just $14.

One of the first gardens along our walk reminded me of our time in England earlier this year. I grew up in the English countryside surrounded by manicured lawns, cottage gardens and lot's of secret gates like this one...
The first movie I ever went to see at the movies as a child was The Secret Garden. We watched the movie a few weeks ago, after I gasped when my hubby said he'd never seen it before. He ended up watching the whole movie and I ended up in tatters, embarrassing I know, but the ending gets me every time.

We walked past the main building again and saw a bride dressed up with a photographer, I can see why, it's a lovely setting for a wedding or for a bridal portrait.

We walked along this water feature browsing all the statues carved out of various stones from sculptors from Zimbabwe. The exhibition is called ZimSculpt, and a good reflection of the culture, wildlife and human forms of those native to the country. My parents grew up in Zimbabwe, spent there honeymoon there at Victoria Falls and I also spent my first Christmas there at my grandparents. So I related to them, and it brought back those vivid memories.

There were so many there, but which out of these is your favorite? 

I think the elephant is my favorite.
Here's an overall look of the sculptures leading to the water fountain. Feels like your standing there, doesn't it?

But by this point we were sweating glistening as it was one of the hottest days of our summer. We admit we ran through and splashed in some of the water, you refresh ourselves.



Beautiful butterflies surrounded us.

Hubby was happy to greet the birds in the aviary, I just hope they were cool enough in this heat.

Painted by the lovely Susan Branch.
Painted by the lovely Susan Branch


Let's go inside...

Yes, that's a banana tree!

O, Flower! by Sarthi
O flower! Attired in pure natural innocence,
Thou are ignorant of thy enchanting aroma,
Unaware of thy Charm,
Dances freely with flirtious breeze,
Hardly cares about world's joy and sorrow,
Thou are neither selfish nor altruistic
Full of Self yet so Selfless!

I am fascinated by your tranquil disposition,
At dawn thou bath in sun's rays,
Flirt with colorful butterfly,
Fall a deep sleep in afternoon warmth.
Enjoy melodious sound of chirping birds

Thou lover, up there - the sky,
Gazes you with intense admiration,
He kisses you tenderly through his winds,
Thou spread thy fragrances in his arms,
He grows enamored of thy presence,
What a beautiful bond!

Thy fall comes - autumn arrives,
Still thou remain full of life as ever before,
Not worried; not shaken a bit
Simply falls, without uttering a
Single word to your lover to save you
from getting withered.

Thou unconditional acceptance is captivating,
O soft hearted beauty, thy passive life is
Exquisite treasure of green emotions.

The beautiful waterfall and archway.

After we browsed the garden shop, we meandered back home along the country roads to our home sweet home for a picnic beside our pool. We had Santa Fe rice, cheddar broccoli, Asian noodles, taco salad, salmon, sushi and fresh fruit. Simply put together so we could spend our afternoon lounging in the pool.
Hope you have a lovely week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Expect The Unexpected

This week has been an especially long one. It started out with us driving about a week ago to our local pizza place, to share our favorite for lunch. As we were driving along, our car, affectionately named Bibi started shaking. As we approached the light, waiting to turn left she cut out in a quiet, unassuming way.
Everything happens for a reason
I have always loved my car, she’s got over 170,000 miles of memories, is in many of our family photos and our dogs recognize her driving up the driveway in a heartbeat. Bibi is often relaxed, casual and ever dependable driving us around town, or the dogs for an occasional doggy date. So, as you can see we love her for all the good times.
Luckily, she started back up and we drove into the parking lot. We went and ordered our pizza, only for it to be the WRONG one. In our cloud of confusion we ordered buffalo chicken, instead of BBQ chicken. My hubby decided he wasn’t hungry, so we boxed it up for later. That night we had family coming into town, so we walked (yes mum, we actually walked) to the grocery store and got some muffins for later.
Thank the Lord for smartphones, although in the past I’ve been slow and slightly reluctant to join such a trend, it came through in our hour of need. We called a Christian auto mechanic and arranged an appointment.
We got there early, and after deliberating on our choices, they drove us home for the night, and said they’d call us with more news in the morning.
We came home and set about getting everything ready for my hubby’s cousins, whom we haven’t seen for about three years. We didn’t tell them about what had happened, instead we put our troubles aside and were excited to hear about their summer and did a lot of college talk.
The next day, we heard from the car place, and they quoted us around $4,000 for everything that needed to be done. We got collected and drove Bibi to a car dealership, so we could weigh that option. After a day of deliberation, we decided we needed time, so we’ve hired a car for a month to make our decisions with ease.
The same day that we stalled, I also got a message from my sister online. It said, “Someone from your year died”. I was shocked! They, like me would only be in their late twenties, how sudden, how tragic.
It came a day after hearing the news that Robin Williams had passed. My hubby and I cried watching all the memorial videos for Robin. He was is so many good movies, our favorite being Mrs. Doubtfire.
All of a sudden, my troubles didn’t seem as troubling in perspective. And the next day I found out who had died, and found out that she had a seizure in her sleep, from a lifelong illness of epilepsy.
Great Expectations - Moms Without Ansers
So when a slew of things happen, I learnt a valuable life lesson. Expect the unexpected, because you never know what’s going to happen next, even if you do plan it all out like me.
On a fabulous note, lots of good things have happened this week too. My hubby started a new job at insp, the wholesome family channel. It’s a short twenty minutes away, and he’s enjoying it so far.
The day before he started I treated him to pedicures. Not a normal treat for a manly man, but I think everyone needs help grooming sometimes. Then yesterday, after his first full day, we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant for our Mexican Monday.
After I came home I was reminiscing and salivating at the Beekman Boys’ recipes that were in Country Living last Fall. It mixed two of my favorite things, old recipes and chocolate, which was mentioned in two of them. Are you a sweet tooth too? I’d love your recipes.
Hope you have a delightful rest of the week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some Days...

Let's start this post off with a little music in the background. I often listen to old movie soundtracks which nostalgically remind me of the way it was.
'Old Town - USA' ~ by Mary Irwin, watercolors
Old Town - USA - by Mary Irwin
This weekend I was reading several articles on the evolution of television families, and found a few articles I want to remember:
Today's TV programs leave family values behind (here) or From ‘Full House’ to ‘Modern Family’: Ten shows that forced us to reimagine the American family (here).
In another article 10 Reasons Why the 90's Beat the 00's I scrolled through the comments, it seems lots of people reminisce about the way it was or Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade (here).

If you read the articles, it talks about how over time, the nuclear family has diminished to more socially acceptable family. Then they share the reasons of why things have changed, the two biggest factors being technology-virtual friendships and informality-nobody dresses up anymore.

What decade do you reminisce about? For me it's the 80's and 90's, because that was my childhood when things seemed simpler. So, don't mind me if I watch old movies, and escape from the realities of today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monroe in North Carolina

On Saturday, we took a spontaneous drive today to Monroe, NC. This little town is steeped in historical charm, merely surviving thanks to the governmental jobs and the few community stewards who still choose to buy from the local, independent stores.
This is the Union County Courthouse situated at the heart of Monroe. Notable families from this area include the Helms, Starnes, McRorie, and Belk families.
Ferdinand Foch did a speech here in 1921. For those who may not know him, he led the French forces at the First Battle of the Marne, but was removed from command after the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Then in 1918, he was named Allied Supreme Commander, coordinating the war's final offensives. He was also present at the armistice ending the war in November, 1918. A notable figure that our ancestors fighting in WWI would have known about.
The allied commanders of England, America and France realized that the unity of command of the allied armies would help them defeat Germany in both world wars.
After meandering around Monroe we drove out to Indian Land, SC where we found gas for $3.08 a gallon. Then on our way back up we stopped for lunch at a diner called The Big View Diner. I had a delicious chicken pot pie, and then we shared the bread pudding.
It was a nice weekend. How was yours?
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