Weekend Getaway – Asheville, NC and Biltmore Estate

 

Dan recently surprised me with a weekend getaway to Asheville, NC.  I had no idea where we were going until we got a little closer.  All he told me was the weather forecast, how long a drive it was, and to request a certain Friday off.   We’ve went on plenty of trips, but never one that I didn’t know the details of.  I was pretty excited, and honestly didn’t try to guess the destination.  The Biltmore Estate has been on my list of things to do, and it didn’t disappoint.

Day 1:  We had plans to leave Friday morning after getting the kids off to school, so of course there was a two hour fog delay.  After a little re-arranging, we headed out around 8;30.  It was about a seven hour drive which, for us, is not bad at all.  We usually drive everywhere we go.  If you prefer to stay on property there are several choices.  The Cottage on Biltmore Estate, The Inn on Biltmore Estate, or Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate.  Dan had booked us a room at the Country Inn & Suites  near downtown Asheville, and about 15 minutes from the Biltmore Estate .  When we arrived I found out that we had tickets for the Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore.   How romantic 😉  Before making our way there, we went to Bone & Broth for dinner.

Steak Frites for me, and Lamb Chops for Dan.

 

On to the Biltmore.  A little history before we get started….George Vanderbilt started building the house in 1889, and it was finished in 1895.  He was single when the construction started!  The house boasts 65 fire places, along with 35 bedrooms, and 43 bathrooms.  If you are interested in the history of it at all, I would highly recommend doing the audio guide.  It was very informative.

Driving onto the property.

 

Choir performing for the Candlelight Christmas.

 

One of the many Christmas trees throughout. This one was in the banquet hall.

 

These fireplaces were also in the banquet hall, and although they are massive the room still felt cozy and was one of my favorites.

 

I pretty much had to share this picture since it has Jennifer and Ginger on the list. I do not want a puppy or a horse, however!

 

Looking like a tourist, listening to my audio guide.

 

This picture was in the basement on our way to see the bowling alley, indoor swimming pool, and workout area.  How crazy is that since this house was built in the late 1800s?!

One of the 1st residential bowling alleys, the workout area complete with showers, and the swimming pool which still has the original underwater lighting!

 

That wraps up day 1.  Our tickets were for 9:15PM, and we finished  the tour up at about 11:30 , to give you an idea of how much time you will need.

Day 2:  We were up fairly early to eat the complimentary breakfast.  We’re always willing to save a little money, so we can go on more trips. 🙂  Then it was back to the Biltmore to tour the grounds and gardens.  Unfortunately the rain from day 1 continued into day 2, but we made the best of it.  A little info on the grounds, the estate covers 8,000 acres!  Sounds like a lot, right?  But, it originally covered 125,000 acres.  Since we were visiting for the Christmas tours, we didn’t see a lot of the gardens.  The flowers and plant life in the conservatory were beautiful, however, so I can imagine the gardens are as well.

This is the front of the Biltmore house, although it doesn’t capture the enormity.

 

 

A few of the flowers and plants in the conservatory.

 

After leaving the garden area, we drove over to Antler Hill Village & Winery where we had reservations for lunch at Cedric’s Tavern.  There are a few restaurants to choose from on property, along with some shopping, and an exhibit on The Biltmore Legacy.  Also in the Antler Hill area is the barn where you can see some of the farm equipment that was used in the 1900s, woodworkers, and blacksmiths.

We shared the fish & chips, and bison burger.

 

That wraps up day 2 at the Biltmore Estate.  It is somewhere we both said we would visit again in warmer weather to experience the gardens in bloom, and more of the property.  There are also several outdoor activities to choose from when the weather permits, such as hiking, horseback riding, and river float trips to name a few.

We weren’t finished yet though….on to Asheville for a comedy bus tour with Lazoom .  We learned some things about Asheville we otherwise would not have, all while laughing and having a good time.  We enjoyed the downtown area.  It was very walkable, albeit a little hilly (or maybe we just need to get in shape), so many stores to look in, coffee shops like City Bakery where we enjoyed a cheese danish and coffee.  Dinner was at white duck taco shop, and no trip would be complete without a stop at an outlet mall.  We didn’t have much time there, but the Asheville Outlets looked like we (who am I kidding…I really mean I)…I could’ve spent some more money…er, time there.

Me and the man responsible for this trip.

 

If you have the chance to visit Asheville and the Biltmore Estate, I would definitely do it.  It made for a great weekend getaway, and it’s only a short 90 minute drive from the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area if you happen to be visiting that area, and want to venture a little further away.

 

What’s In A Name?

Picking a name for the blog was probably the most difficult thing to do to get started.  I feel like I’m starting a little late in the game, so every name was already taken.  If the “.com” wasn’t taken, then the Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram was.  I knew I either wanted the name to have something to do with the beach or Ginger.  I used name generators, I asked my family, I made lists, I looked at everything I could think of that might give me some inspiration.  Every time I thought I was on to a good name, I would check and it would be taken.

Have I drawn this out enough? 🙂  Would you like to know why Ginger?  Ginger is my husband’s nickname for me…I guess because it sounds a lot like Jen.  The Just For Fun part is simply because this blog is just for fun, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.  So, there you have it…the reason behind the name of Ginger Just For Fun.

Coworker Christmas Gifts

 

Do you usually give presents to all your coworkers?  Or more specifically the ones that you work most closely with?  We usually do, and I struggle every year trying to figure out what to get without breaking the bank and still having it be something they will enjoy.  Here are a few things I have received over the years, and I use them all.

Spove Polka Dot Flip Flop Design Manicure Kit (Set of 6 Kits)

I carry this one in my purse every day.  I actually liked it so much I ended up buying for stocking stuffers as well.  It has come in handy a time or two….maybe even to open a mayo packet that was impossible! (Don’t worry I hadn’t used the scissors on anything else)


Coffee Mug Cozy Oatmeal

Grey and Mint Heart Cup Cozy Coffee Sleeve

I have one very similar to the oatmeal one.  I use it on weekends when I can take a little longer and enjoy my cappuccino.

RoyAroma 2PCS 30mm Car Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Stainless Steel Locket Air Freshener with Vent Clip 12 Felt Pads

I must admit I have not actually used this one yet, although I do own it and keep intending to.  I love the idea of it since I use some essential oils anyway.

Wrapables Unisex-Adults Plaid Print Infinity Scarf, red/Green, One Size

And if all else fails, who doesn’t like a scarf?

These would also work well for teachers, babysitters, neighbors.

Kitchen Remodel – The Final Reveal

It could not have turned out any better! I love it just as much today as when it was first completed.  I love how much brighter it is.  We added several can lights, the pendant lighting [you can find them here: Feiss P1261ORB Urban Renewal Glass Industrial Vintage Pendant Lighting, Bronze, 1-Light (6″Dia x 10″H) 100watts] over the island, and under cabinet lighting.

Countertops in New Venetian Gold granite.

We wanted the bar stools to fit under the raised portion of the island.  We found these at Pier1, but here are some similar ones: Winsome 94089 Satori Stool, 29″, Walnut

So happy we chose the contrasting island.  We think it really ties the whole kitchen together.


We knew we did not want a stainless steel sink, so we chose a granite composite sink by Blanco in cafe brown.  The faucet is Cassidy, by Delta in venetian bronze.  My husband (yep, he’s the dish washer for what doesn’t go in the dishwasher) loves the soap dispenser which is also by Delta in venetian bronze.  You can find  both of those here: Delta Cassidy Single-Handle Pull-Down Bar-Prep Faucet with Magnetic Docking Spray Head, Venetian Bronze 9997-RB-DST, Delta Faucet RP71543RB Cassidy, Soap/Lotion Dispenser and Bottle, Venetian Bronze

Just a couple more features to point out.  The appliance garage keeps the counter a little more tidy.  Several of our drawers have pull outs which is super handy.  The spice cabinet was a must.  It keeps things so much more organized.  We have an outlet above the cabinets just in case we want to decorate with anything that needs plugged in.  Speaking of plugging things in, I am typing this at our island.  Not only do we use it a lot when we’re preparing food, but it is usually where we do any work at home so we made sure to have plenty of outlets.

Backsplash includes subway tile in almond gloss, mosaic accent with stone and glass.

 

I know I said it in the first post, but it’s worth repeating….patience is key.  We started planning the remodel in August, began the demo in February of the following year, and the project wrapped up at the beginning of May.  It was so worth it though, take your time, hire a contractor with a good team, and go with the flow – there will be things that come up that weren’t expected.  And have fun!!

Kitchen Remodel – Work In Progress

Picking up where we left off.  We got back from spring break, and walked in to this beautiful new floor.  We went with an engineered hardwood by Anderson with mixed width planks, in cabrillo gold.

It was so exciting to come home from work every day and see the progress that was being made.  We chose to go with Waypoint cabinets.  The perimeter cabinets are cherry chocolate glaze, and the island is the painted maple hazelnut glaze.  Don’t they sound delicious? 😉

Appliances!  Whirlpool was what we chose to go with, and 2 1/2 years later we’re still happy with that decision.

One of the most important things we wanted in the new kitchen was somewhere to drop our coats, backpacks, keys…all that stuff you use on a daily basis.  We ended up going with this cubby since we don’t have a mud room area, and this is where we all come in to the house.

Up next, the final reveal complete with all the finishing touches including backsplash and lighting fixtures.

 

Kitchen Remodel – Before/Demo

We completely remodeled our kitchen about 2 1/2 years ago.  There was a lot of planning and picking out of finishes before hand.  We don’t plan on doing this again for a vvveeerryyy long time, so we wanted to make sure everything was just how we wanted it.  We hired a contractor who also had a designer working with their team.   Here are some before pictures:

My least favorite thing?…that light! I could only see a chipmunk every time I looked at it!

Who is that girl standing around, playing on her phone?

 

The demo was something we felt like we could take on ourselves though.  We started with taking the upper cabinets down.   This was really pretty simple…just remove the screws and make sure you’re ready to catch that cabinet.  Up next…bottom cabinets.  The hardest thing about that was the counter top.  A good sawzall was really helpful.  We did salvage as much as we could.  What we or our other family members didn’t use elsewhere, we donated to our local Habitat for Humanity.

Our family room is connected to our kitchen, so we had to move everything out during the remodel.  The refrigerator, microwave, and crock pot went to the dining room for the next few months.  That was okay for the first week or so, but it does start to get old fast.  Patience is key! 🙂

The dining room/temporary kitchen. Oh my! Um..and there I am again doing nothing but messing around on my phone. I promise I really worked!

 

The bulkhead ( my other least favorite part of the old kitchen) was next to get demo’d.  This wasn’t terrible either, that sawzall came in handy again.  Luckily, there was nothing but a return air vent to deal with.

Terrick wanted to “help” too.
Return air vent. Simple re-route to the other side of that half wall.

 

Electrical and dry wall were finished next, and then it was our turn again.  We thought this would be the easiest part…nope!  The flooring was that peel and stick vinyl, and sticky was an understatement.  As soon as the floor was up, we had to hurry and paint as we were leaving for spring break and our new flooring was getting installed while we were gone.

Stay tuned for the completion!

 

Here Goes Nothing!!!

My first blog post!  I can hardly believe it.  Anyone who knows me, knows that this is totally out of character for me.  I am not one to share a lot on my personal Facebook or take a lot of pictures of myself, but I recently started following some other bloggers and thought why not?  It seems like so much fun!  I love to write, I love to shop, I love watching home improvement shows and re-doing things in our house, so if I can share those things with you and give you some inspiration then it will be a win, win for both of us.  I also love to travel and always keep a journal on our trips, which is so fun to go back a couple years later and be reminded of what we did.  I still plan on keeping that journal, but now I’ll just share it on the blog, too.  I hope you’ll follow along and have some fun!