My Life in the Big Chill

Funeral, Growing up, Nostalgia, Old Friends, The BIg Chill, Uncategorized

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“When evaluating your life, ask yourself how much have you loved……if you can answer pretty positively you are doing alright.” This quote from Robin Williams, posted by loved ones on the morning after his death is especially poignant following the week I have just lived.

Last Wednesday, as I returned from a fun afternoon in NYC I got a text alerting me that the father of a childhood friend had passed away suddenly. He was a fine man, not someone I knew well but he was my friend’s DAD. My friend, a guy who had been such an important part of my teenage years; a friend who still remains so special despite the many candles that now litter our birthday cakes.

It hit me hard. It was strange because I did not know his dad well but it symbolized so much more. My friend had lost his father, a man the age of my parents. Reality hit. We are beginning to lose our parents, we are becoming the next generation. Although most of us have been parents for over a decade we are becoming “the grown-ups”, the older people.

How can that be?  Weren’t we just “cruising around” drinking beer, taking risks, exploring all the world had to offer? I swear we were just getting our driver’s license, graduating high school and deciding on careers. Suddenly I was so aware of the years that had passed and although my life today is incredibly blessed, I found myself mourning not only the death of a kind man but the loss of our youth; a place we could visit through memories and photos of days gone by BUT a place we clearly could never return to again.

I went into support mode.   I sent food, I phoned out of town friends and I made plans to attend the services.  As I stood on line for the wake I felt as if I was a patron at the theatre as I watched my past parade before me.  There I saw old neighbors, classmates, people I knew “before.” It was a strange sensation as memories I had long forgotten began crashing through my mind, tugging at my heart strings reminding me how long ago yesterday was.

On the morning of the funeral I found myself unexplainably nervous.  While getting ready I chuckled as I applied my eye cream, now truly realizing I was no longer that 16 year old girl I had been visiting with in my memories, but a middle aged mom trying daily to juggle all the blessings that God had bestowed upon me. I plucked a few gray hairs, (another sign of my growing age), packed my reading glasses and I was ready for the service.

Entering the church was like walking into a strange boardwalk funhouse.  There I greeted colleagues and neighbors but I also observed friends I knew “back then” and the ghosts of love interests I had long forgotten.  My worlds were colliding, intersecting in the weirdest of ways.

The day was sad as funerals are, but there was something else.  I felt my heart filling up as reflected. Here I was surrounded by people from so many parts of my life.  These were the people who count, the people I can call despite the years that have passed and they will be there.  These are people I LOVE and who love me back.  Not the romantic love of those teenage years gone by but the true friendship love that comes from shared memories, life experiences and mutual respect.  It made me think, (A LOT), of my favorite movie, The Big Chill where college friends gather at a funeral for a friend.  They too are reflective of the love they share as friends and what a treasure it is.

How much have I loved you ask?  I’ve loved A LOT and I am blessed to have been loved right back!  As I sit reflecting on my middle age life which is not filled with extraordinary wealth, beach homes or fancy cars but the blessings of a great family and wonderful friends, I can easily answer the question posed by Robin Williams…I have loved a lot and I am definitely doing alright!

Fireflies and Front Porches……

#porch, cranford, nj, fireflies, Girlfriend Getaway, heat, kids, new jersey, peace, summer fun, Uncategorized

In my heart I am a southern girl.  I have this fantasy of what life might have been like if I grew up in the south among the peach and magnolia trees and the homes with the wrap around porches.  Oh how I love those wrap around porches!  I can just see myself sitting on a porch swing in a wide brimmed hat, sipping lemonade and entertaining guests.

The reality is I am not a southern girl.  I live in New Jersey in a suburban home, not on a plantation. However, I do have a porch!   My porch is not the wrap around kind but a small little oasis on the front of my modest home. IMG_8067 It is my favorite place! When the weather is warm, my porch is where spend my evenings reading books, sipping lemonade (and sometimes wine), unwinding with my family.  My porch is where I watch the neighborhood go by. We are lucky enough to live at the end of a dead end street in a neighborhood surround by strangers who became friends.  Children scatter the street with bicycles, sidewalk chalk and wagons. Neighbors chat and catch up on the local happenings.  And when the June air comes in, we catch fireflies!

Who can deny the joy that chasing fireflies brings?  It is an annual event that is harbinger of the good things ahead.  Fireflies arrive in New Jersey when the air is warm in both the day and into the evening; usually around the beginning of June.  It is around this time that we anticipate the end of the school year as we ponder what adventures the lazy days of summer will bring.  These magical little insects flitter through our yards like fairies filled with promise whispering, “catch me if you can…see if you can capture the magic…..”

Today I find myself looking forward to those days.  Though this winter was not snowy it was cold and gray and spring took its time to arrive.  Today it is sunny and most would say HOT! It is perfect weather to hang out on the wicker chairs while I write and watch the children revel in the sunshine.  Today made me wish for the fireflies.  Then it hit me!  I remembered that I had seen a way to make pretend fireflies in a jar, sometimes called fairies in a jar.  I searched Pinterest to find the instructions and soon after took a trip to Michaels to gather the limited supplies.  There I purchased cute little jars, glow in the dark paint, glitter and a variety of thin paint brushes with long handles.  A 50% coupon made the inexpensive materials very affordable!!

I rushed home to try this little experiment from my favorite spot on the porch.

On my first attempt, I followed the directions I found on Pinterest.  After pouring my glow in the dark paint onto some scrap paper, I dipped my paint brush into the paint and into the jar creating a speckled look within the jar.  I found it relaxing to paint the dots and could easily imagine what this would look like once the evening turned dark.  It would definitely resemble fireflies in a jar!  Just for fun and because glitter makes everything special, I painted the lid and added some glitter to the top.  The finished product looked great!

 

Now I was on a roll! I wondered how the jar would look if I painted on the OUTSIDE.  This time, I did not use the brush but instead simply dotted the paint on to the outside of the jar straight out of the container.  This created a unique raised dot effect that although it did not give the appearance of fireflies in a jar, would make a nifty nightlight and a fun project for tweens, teens or a girl’s night out! IMG_9467 Finally, I had to see my projects glow.  When I placed the jars into a dark area I saw magic!!! In the dark these jars literally sparkled!  It reminded me of the fireflies I adore, it reminded me of summer!

As I write this I am listening to the neighborhood children giggle.  Their joy is contagious and forces even a troubled soul to smile.  I am glad that I bought extra supplies; maybe tomorrow we can make these as a neighborhood as we gather again to welcome the warm weather and dream of the days of summer!

Time Travel at Liberty Hall Museum

#Adventure, #colonial, #history, day trip, gardens, kids, new jersey, summer fun, Uncategorized

Don’t you love the feeling of finding a real treasure? Maybe it’s a first edition book bought for a quarter at a garage sale or an old family photo album discovered in a box in grandma’s attic.  That feeling of exhilaration is the same; It’s part bewilderment, part excitement and part an adrenaline filled urge to share your discovery with others.  This is the feeling I got when I “discovered” Liberty Hall Museum right in my own backyard, on the campus of Kean University! IMG_9435

I first happened upon Liberty Hall while attending a private event with my daughter several years ago. When we were offered a tour of the exquisite gardens, we jumped at the chance to explore.  We were so glad that we did!  As we meandered through the well-manicured gardens we were regaled with tales of the property that dates back to the 1700’s.  We soaked up the stories our guide shared with us as we relished the beauty of every garden section; each unique in its beauty and purpose.  A special treat was noting a gorgeous pear tree that was original to the property and therefore over 200 years old.  Fascinated does not begin to express how we felt at the end of the tour.

As we explored further we noted a beautiful Victorian style home on the property.  This home, built in 1772, was the home of NJ’s first elected Governor William Livingston and generations of Livingston/Kean families. My daughter was dying to see inside and instantly declared that she wanted to live in this home!  Upon hearing this declaration of love, a volunteer informed us of a program we might find interesting. The program is called, A Child’s View of History and it runs every Tuesday in July and August.  The cost is $8.00 per child and $10.00 per adult.  It runs at 11am and 1pm.  Reservations are required.

On the first Tuesday in July we, along with some friends, embarked on our journey back in time. You see, the program invites participants to “time travel” back through the centuries in order to experience childhood just as the children who lived in this home had experienced it.   We were tickled pink to join a costumed docent as we explored the first area which took us back to 1780.  Here we learned about life from a child’s perspective as we were invited to touch and explore many of the artifacts.  On our journey we continued our “time travel” through 1820, 1860, 1900 and 1940, always being led by a docent in period costume and always being invited to touch and participate.  The girls were most fascinated by parlor where they learned “the language of the fan”, a special way for young ladies to communicate with suitors during the 1900’s. Certainly more subtle and sophisticated than the social media of 2017!

At the conclusion of the house tour we were directed to a gorgeous glass porch where we were served cookies, fruit and lemonade.  We continued to ask questions and our guides happily shared all the history they knew.  The view here was amazing and though we could have lingered all day we knew that there were still great activities ahead. IMG_9445 Next we were led across the lawns to play some of the fun games the children of long ago enjoyed.  WOW!  The girls were surprised to discover that not only were the games challenging and fun but they did not involve any electronics!!! Finally, since we had learned monograms were regarded as prestigious during the 1940’s, the children were invited to create monogramed book marks with the beautiful material set before them. 

As we wrapped up our day in the gift shop we all expressed how much we had enjoyed our day.  It was exciting to note that there are many other programs available at Liberty Hall including apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, Wednesday afternoon tea and a variety of other tours.  We look forward to returning for many of these as we enjoy this newly discovered treasure in our backyard!

Liberty Hall Museum is located at

1003 Morris Avenue

 Union, NJ 07083

909-527-0400

www.kean.edu/libertyhall and on Facebook and twitter

Walkway over the Hudson…A perfect way to spend a gorgeous day!

#Adventure, biking, Culinary Institute, food, hudson valley, Hyde Park, NY, rail trail, Uncategorized

Oh what a beautiful morning!!!  Today is the kind of day that is perfect for heading out on a fun family adventure!  I’m posting an adventure from the fall that is perfect almost anytime of year.  Get out today and embrace the glory that sunny days bring!  ENJOY!

Returning to school each fall can be difficult for both students and parents alike.  Long lazy summer days roll into jam packed cooler days filled with car pools, color coded calendars and crock pot dinners. That is why we knew that successfully completing the official first week of school called for some kind of celebration.  Fortunately Mother Nature agreed and provided us with a perfect Saturday to play as a family!

Fueled with a nutritious breakfast we laced up our sneakers, loaded our bikes onto the Explorer and headed north.  We’d recently heard of a bike trail in New York’s Catskills region that was both picturesque and interesting.  We knew that at the end of the short trail we would find the “Walkway over the Hudson;” an attraction not to be missed. Our travel took about 90 minutes. The traffic was easy, the sun was shining brightly and the conversation was flowing.  Don’t you love how car rides provide uninterrupted time to chat and catch up? It’s one of our favorite ways to really connect!

As we pulled into the town of Lloyd, NY the parking area for the Hudson Valley Rail Trail was marked and easy to find. It surrounds a park and several ball fields but since there were no teams playing, spaces were abundant and filled with other nature lovers ready for a day on the trail.

The paved trail is wide and welcomes pedestrian, bikers, skaters and scooters.  Those on wheels are reminded by signs throughout the trail to yield to those on foot.  Benches abound at picturesque areas and mid trail there is a par course fitness area inviting everyone to stop and get in shape. An unusual and pleasant surprise was the large and very clean bathroom mid trail.  It is located next to the genuine red caboose which invites playful children and adults to explore it while they wait.  A perfect win/win for a family out exploring for the day.IMG_9374

Less than 4 miles into the trail nature lovers will begin to notice a busier area marked with flags, an information booth, more bathrooms and a smattering of concession stands.  This is the beginning of the “Walkway over the Hudson”, the main attraction for the day! The 1.28 mile walkway which was once an abandoned railroad bridge was opened on October 3, 2009. It is 212 feet above the Hudson River and is the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world! Though the bridge is high, it is also wide and therefore less unnerving for those afraid of heights. The views are spectacular and the photograph filled signs along the bridge provide a plethora of information about the bridge and the river below. 

After enjoying the breath taking views and meandering along the bridge we found ourselves ready to refuel so we packed the bikes back on to the car and headed to another local treasure the Hyde Park Brewing Company.

Though the name says “brewery” the atmosphere felt more like a fine dining restaurant than a cozy pub.  Upon entering I was concerned that our biking attire may not be appropriate for the crowd, however or lovely hostess assured me we were fine and seated us in one of the two dining rooms. The selection of beer allowed us to choose between 7 house brewed beers, beer cocktails, wines and soft drinks.  The food menu was creative and we truly enjoyed the burgers we ordered along with the amazing garlic parmesan fries. We were ready to continue our adventure!

Being food and wine lovers we could not leave Hyde Park without a visit to the famed Culinary Institute of America. The campus is gorgeous and visitors are invited to dine in one of the campus restaurants where chefs in training provide memorable high quality meals along with wine or cocktail pairings.  Though we had just eaten, we thought we would visit the Apple Pie Bakery to purchase some goodies to bring home.  Sadly, the bakery is only open weekdays so instead we viewed chefs through the glass windows and shopped for unique cooking tools in the gift shop.

The Hudson Valley area is tourists dream as it also includes a number of historical homes including the Vanderbilt Mansion and the homes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Though we popped into the presidential library, our tired bodies begged us to return on a day we could give these locations our full attention.  They are definitely worth returning to and we have already added them to our list of future excursions.IMG_9364

As we rode home along the New York thruway we continued to enjoy the precious time as a family; reminiscing about the glorious days of summer and looking forward to the fun filled fall days to come!

*For more information on the interesting history of the Walkway over the Hudson, check out this recent episode of Treasures of New York produced by PBS. http://wliw.org/treasures

 

Nuturing the need for JOY!

momisms, musings, joy, bike ride, Cranford, NJ, Uncategorized

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When was the last time you felt joy? A pure truly blissful moment? The kind that makes your heart smile?
Are you having a hard time coming up with something? Don’t worry, you are not alone. I feel the same way. Honestly, that is hard for me to admit. I’m the kind of person people perceive as being always happy, full of energy, ready for the next adventure BUT lately as much as I hate to admit it, I’m just not feeling it.
It’s been a crazy month. Nothing in particular but enough to make me feel like I’ve lost my edge.
Maybe it is the weather; chilly and dark in New Jersey during what we had hoped would be sunny spring days filled with promise.
Perhaps it’s my career. Planning engaging lessons, making deadlines, assuring that every child is up to speed, appeasing the individual needs of 22 sets of parents, and always trying to be a truly exemplary teacher.
Could it be the activities and social schedule of my busy sixteen year old child? It’s certainly possible!
Everywhere I turn my friends are saying the same thing. I look into their eyes and see a reflection of my own.…tired, worn and searching for something more.
But what is it we are searching for? What is lacking in our very busy lives? For me I’ve realized that I’ve lost a little of myself lately. Though I’ve filled every moment with fun family adventures, carloads filled with giggling sixteen year old girls and many family obligations, I have forgotten to take care of ME. I’m usually pretty good about this but somehow in the midst of “fitting everything in” I have forgotten to take a moment for me.
Now, this may sound selfish. How can a woman whose family has so many obligations and places to be possibly think about taking time away for herself? What kind of a mother and wife would a woman like that be?
Well, I have to confess, I think that lady would be a very happy and healthy mom! Think about it. When you board an airplane and the flight attendant explains the emergency procedures, the first step everyone is instructed is to take care of yourself first! Place the oxygen on YOU so that YOU can then take care of everyone else!
I contend that this is what so many of us are missing as we rush through our overscheduled lives. Though I have physically been with my family as we check off our list of obligations, I feel disconnected and slightly unhappy and I have been unsure why.
I once read that in order to be in touch with “your real self” the “true you” one needed to channel the person you were at ten years old. Asking “what did I like to do?” “ What were my dreams for the future?” “What gave me joy?” Sitting back and recollecting those ideas of my younger days made me begin to smile. Fond memories rushed through my mind calling me back to the days of dreaming. One absolute certain was that I loved to ride my bicycle everywhere! I’d ride in the neighborhood, I’d cruise “downtown”, I would visit my grandmother’s house and when I was older I even rode to the neighboring town where my friends and I were convinced the “cute boys” lived.

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I still LOVE to ride. I have a fabulous pink beach bike with a basket that I adore! Suddenly, I knew it was time to break out my bicycle and clear my head.
Thankfully the clouds gave way to some warm sunshine this afternoon, finally a good day for a ride! Since I didn’t have long I decided to stay local and really focus on my beautiful surroundings. I planned to notice everything from sights, to sounds and smells. Cranford was once called “The Venice of New Jersey” filled with mansions along the Rahway River that were the vacation homes of some of the wealthiest New Yorkers. Many of the homes are large and each one is unique. As I rode I imagined the people who had summered here. Creating stories in my mind of the clothes they wore and the parties they held. Inhaling the gifts of nature I imagined the river carnivals and canoe races scented with the abundant honeysuckle and lilac perfume on the riverbanks. I remembered a story I once heard that Katherine Hepburn had attended a party at a home near the river. I marveled at how awesome those days must have been.


I began to smile and relax. I realized people were smiling back. A stranger waved to me and I realized I was again projecting the real me. I continued to ride, breathing in the cut grass, the burgers being cooked for a neighbor’s dinner, the smell of the river itself. I stopped by the back of Dreyer’s Farm to take in the bountiful beauty of all the locally grown crops. Appreciating the lush colors thanks to our recent rainfall. I was peaceful and grateful. Ready to now go on with the evening, showing the world the real me.

Newly energized and ready to take on all that life had to offer. Mother Nature might still be suffering from a mood swings but I know that I have found my JOY and I intent to keep nurturing it!

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman
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Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman
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The Lost Art of Letter Writing….An Adventure From Your Very Own Home!

Tradition, old fashioned , paper, pen, letters, mailbox,adventure, Uncategorized

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Life is hectic, especially the life of a parent in the spring time.  I’m really not sure why things hit a fever pitch in the spring but I find myself overwhelmed trying to juggle my job, the gym, yoga, PTA meetings and the social life of my sixteen year old.  I approach the calendar each day with the eye of personal assist trying to assure the boss’s success.  Yesterday I was so efficient I actually brought my daughter to an event a whole week EARLY!  How is that for good?  (I thought it was funny….hey, at least we weren’t late!)  When I commiserate with other parents it is clear that we are all feeling the same thing…..rush! Rush! Rush!  Multitasking always, feeling accomplished when we can “check things off of our list.”

This is seems to be the accepted way of life in 2017.  Fast is better.  Multi-tasking is the norm. Electronic calendars, emails and reminders run our lives.  It kind of makes me sad and I try hard to be mindful of this. What happened to the days of old when life was slow and sweet and people had time to really connect with one another?

I was really reminded of how much I long for some of these connections when I had a conversation with a friend on Saturday morning.  She was sharing that this year instead of giving holiday gifts to her long list of loved ones; she vowed to write ONE handwritten note per month this year.  Huh!  I thought, interesting idea.  My friend Ann went on to explain the joy these letters were bringing to those who were lucky enough to receive them each month.  It really got me thinking.

It really is true.  Not many people take the time to write handwritten notes anymore.  Email is the way of the world for correspondence, invitations, even thank you notes. It is quick, efficient and totally acceptable.  However, as I pondered Ann’s plan I realized that something special is being lost by using email instead of letters.  It made me think of old fashioned love notes written on beautiful stationary, tied with fancy ribbons.  It reminded me of historical letters, left to posterity, primary resources, able to help us learn about life before us. I began to dream of sealing wax, quill tipped pens and beautiful vellum papers.

Think about it.  When was the last time you went to your mailbox and found something that made your heart sing?  If you are like me, your mailbox is filled with catalogs, bills and advertisements.  Every once in a while there is an invitation but recently even those come through evite.  I decided I was going to take Ann’s idea and start a movement.

So here is my plan.  I propose this to all of you who are reading this blog. Let’s bring happiness back to our mailboxes.  Let’s really connect, in a way that shows we care enough to take the time to sit down and hand write a note and mail it to a loved one.  Imagine the joy we will spread!  When someone receives your note, not only will their heart be filled but I am certain it will prompt a phone call to you.  The phone call will surely make you smile. You’ll feel reconnected and it will allow both of you to cherish what really matters in our lives; the people we love!

I’m heading out today on a search for some pretty papers and note cards.  Maybe I can even find some that have my monogram on them.  I’ll be thinking about who I am going to send my first letter to.  I can’t wait to see if this brings the smiles I am anticipating.  Won’t you join me in this old fashioned idea?  Think of the joy we’ll spread!!!

 

Mansion in May

Mansion in May, Millionaire's Row, girls day, Morristown Medical Center, Designer, Showcase, Gardens, David Ellis, Charity,, morristown, Uncategorized

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Growing up I had an image of a certain type of “lady” I aspired to be.  She was “fancy” and since I grew up in the early 70’s, I pictured her wearing a dress, hat and gloves with matching shoes and handbag.  I did not imagine that she worked but instead she attended luncheons and charity events.  Of course, at the end of the day she was always back home ready to greet her family with a deliciously comforting meal on the dinner table.

Clearly, I am a product of 1970’s TV shows, Barbie dolls and stereo types!  I did not in fact grow up to be this type of lady. I work full time, I’m not very fancy and I don’t get to attend many luncheons or charity events.  Recently however, I got to pretend just for a little while that I WAS one of the fancy ladies as I attended one of my favorite bi-annual events, MANSION IN MAY.

Typically held every other year, Mansion in May Designer Show House and Gardens is the preeminent fundraising event of the Women’s Association of Morristown Medical Center.  The mansion is open every day in the month of May from 10am to 3pm -the last ticket is sold at 3pm. Tickets are $50 and children under 12 are not permitted.

During mansion years, the featured mansion is carefully selected based on a number of criteria.  Designers are then invited to preview the space and create proposals for specific rooms.  After being selected, which is a prestigious honor, they get to work over the next several months to create the fantastical rooms that become the “showhouse.”  These rooms are the types that dreams are made of as each one is more beautiful than the next.

On a beautiful Thursday morning, I found myself giddy with excitement for my special “girls day out” with some of my favorite friends.  This was the perfect way to use one of my coveted personal days!  We took the gorgeous drive out to Morristown where this year’s mansion was located.  Alnwick Hall -The Abby is one of the last mansions situated on the portion of Madison Avenue in Morris Township known as “Millionaire’s Row.”  All parking is off site and though google maps had us driving in circles for a bit, we finally parked and hopped on the shuttle bus with other enthusiastic visitors.  Our first impression was breathtaking!  The home and the gardens have a unique castle like look that truly made us feel we were being transported back to the days of Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. IMG_9237 Since we had purchased our tickets online we merely had to check in, have our tickets scanned and then begin our tour.  As we waited on a short line outside The Abby we learned some of the history of the home along with some of its unique features from one of the many volunteers. As we entered the home, our senses went into overdrive with the all of the magnificent colors, textures and special features in each of the 39 rooms.  Every space is unique and each has a docent ready to fill in interesting details about the design and often some tidbit about that particular area.  So many of the rooms made us sigh as we could imagine ourselves living in such opulence.  Interestingly, every item in the showhouse is for sale.  Anyone who is interested in purchasing an item whether big or small can visit designer sales in room #28 where a purchase can be paid for and later picked up after June 1.

We spent a couple of delightful hours meandering through the house as we chatted about which of the spaces we liked best.

As we wandered to the outdoor areas we again found ourselves joy filled as we explored the 17 garden spaces.  Each outdoor area was different and beautiful in its own way.  Wow!  The work and talent to create the event was truly spectacular.

 

Next, we were excited to visit, “The Shops at Madison Avenue” a collection of pop up boutiques filled with baubles and treasures perfect for “fancy ladies!” Our day concluded with a lady like lunch in the onsite café.  Inside a gorgeous tent, we explored the delectable options available from David Ellis Events.  Soups, salads, hot entrees and sandwiches were available along with fresh brewed ice-tea, lemonade and yummy desserts.  Visitors were invited to dine either inside the elegantly decorated tent or outdoors among the gardens.  This is also the area where guests are invited to vote for their favorite room and garden.  At the end of the month these results will be tallied in order for the coveted “Tulip Awards” to be presented.IMG_9104

Our day of being, “ladies who lunch” had come to a conclusion and now we had to return to our regular lives.  We had photos, souvenirs purchased in the boutiques and many memories.  It was fun pretending to be fancy and exploring how the rich of days gone by lived. However, as we returned to our own families and homes our hearts became abundantly full.  While we are not quite the “fancy ladies” I once aspired to be, we each are RICH with the blessings of wonderful families and friends and that’s more than enough for me!!