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Friday, November 21, 2014

An Unexpected Treasure!

Falls Park - Greenville, SC
On November 14, 2014, Randy and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary.  It has been a wonderful decade filled with lots of joy, some sadness, several moves, two beautiful children, and much laughter.  When we were initially looking at options for our honeymoon, we were torn between Italy and Hawaii.  The tour package we got for Italy (and the fact that IT WAS ITALY!) was better than the deal we could get for Hawaii, and so we ultimately decided to go to Europe for 10 days.  It was definitely the right move, and we had the most fabulous time touring central and northern Italy.  We decided that we would strive for going to Hawaii for our 10-year anniversary instead.

Fast forward to September, 2014, and we realized that we would not be in a good enough financial situation to allow us to go to Hawaii for a week this year.  We talked about what we could do to make it a special celebration but would not require breaking the bank.  We decided that we would take a long weekend trip up to Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estate.  It's a place I've always wanted to go as I have a definite love of architecture.  The best part of the plan was that we were going to get our good friends, Kirk and Linnette, to watch our kids for the weekend!

Pedestrian suspension bridge - Falls Park
So, on our anniversary, we dropped Derek off at school, and met Linnette at our house to start watching Cole.  We drove two hours north to Greenville, SC.  We had decided to stay in Greenville as it was quite a bit less expensive to stay there than in Asheville, and we also thought it would be fun to explore another city.  Neither of us had overly high expectations about Greenville since we really didn't know much about it, other than the fact it was halfway between us and Asheville and was less expensive.  We did some quick research on what to do in the area and found there was a nice park with a waterfall of some sort in the downtown area. So, after driving up we stopped for lunch at a nice German restaurant on the edge of Greenville.  It was really good, and we both thoroughly enjoyed what we had.  From there we drove to our hotel and checked in.  At that point we decided to go ahead and check out the downtown area along with Falls Park.

I cannot say enough good things about downtown Greenville or Falls Park.  It was GORGEOUS!  The park is surrounded by the downtown shops, and main feature is a flowing waterfall in the middle with a pedestrian suspension bridge directly above it.  Walking across the bridge allows for some really great photo ops.  There are over 100 restaurants alone in the downtown area, and we were just blown away by the look and feel of the entire area.  It was very well maintained and immacuately clean.  It definitely had a charm about it, and the shop owners were so friendly and helpful (not pushy at all).  We just fell in love with the place.  We walked around for a few hours looking in the shops and taking it all in before we had to leave for our dinner reservation.

We had dinner at a really nice steak / seafood restaurant in another part of town, and it was fabulous too, from start to finish.  At this point, we were so happy we had decided to stay in Greenville that we had already started planning another trip with our kids in the near future.

Surprisingly, the following day in Asheville was a bit of a let down.  Don't get me wrong, the Biltmore Estate is beautiful and fun in its own right, but it's soooo over-the-top indulgent that it almost felt phony at times. You were not allowed to take any pictures of the estate so I have nothing to share, but it is a gorgeous house, and the rest of the sprawling estate is beautiful as well.  We spent about 5 hours on the property.  Surprisingly, it's a whopping 4 miles just to get from the front entrance from the highway to the actual house itself!  Crazy...

After we were done exploring the house, the winery, and the small shopping village, we decided that we were done and thought we would go check out the downtown Asheville area.  After having fallen in love with downtown Greenville, our expectations were probably quite a bit higher than they should have been.  By the time we got parked the wind had started blowing and it was pretty chilly outside so we ducked into the first building / mall like area we found.  It was small, and filled with very expensive shops featuring local artists work.  We weren't really impressed, and the rest of the downtown area was less than optimal as well.  I had done a lot of research on restaurants in the Asheville area knowing we would likely be there for dinner on Saturday night after the Biltmore tour, and I had found what sounded like a really great Indian restaurant.  So when we had seen enough of downtown Asheville in about 45 minutes and still had almost two and a half hours to kill before our dinner reservation, I was really disappointed.  We weren't hungry, it was cold, and we had nothing left to do there....so, very reluctantly I cancelled the reservation, and we decided to take our chances on another restaurant back in downtown Greenville.

On our drive back to Greenville we spotted a sign for a city that we just had to take a picture of being that we have two huge superhero fans in our family!

Exit for Bat Cave, NC
Turned out we made the right decision because the restaurant we ended up going too, another Indian restaurant, was great, and we had yet another awesome meal in Greenville....are you sensing a pattern yet?  LOL  So, after dinner we got the opportunity to walk around downtown Greenville a little more.  We didn't walk as much as we would have liked because it was really cold, but we had fun nonetheless.

The following morning we drove back home to reality and our children (which we had just begun to really miss that morning..LOL), but we were left with the great memories of discovering the unexpected treasure that was Greenville.  We will definitely be back!



1,000 pc. - Bizarre Bookshop I - Ravensburger

I was starting to get frustrated that I wasn't getting much time to spend on the Life puzzle because it's difficult to tuck myself away in the puzzle room while Randy is upstairs in the family room watching TV.  I want to work on the puzzle, but I also want and need to spend time with him too.  So, I decided that since I can no longer work on this section upstairs in the family room easily, I would try working on a small puzzle that I could fit on my small puzzling table in the family room.

The puzzle I chose to work on was Ravensburger's Bizarre Bookshop.  It's only 1,000 pieces so not too difficult, and it's a very cute scene.  So, I took the plunge and decided to give it a whirl.  It was fun, and a puzzle that I'm planning to use as a tester for the contact paper / spray mounting technique that I want to use on the Life puzzle.

Progress Update 1

Progress Update 2

Completed




Simultaneous Sections

As I've said before, I am now at a point with Section 3 that it's very difficult to work on it in the family room where I can also spend time with Randy.  The remaining pieces are scattered throughout the section, and make it difficult to work on outside of the puzzle room.

So, I decided to start sorting Section 4 and get some of the bigger areas out of the way that I can work on up in the family room.  It makes it much easier to work on the puzzle when I can do it and still spend time with the hubby.  Here's a picture of the final 6,000 pieces sorted into various buckets.  I will do more refined sorting of the buckets as I go along, but for now these work fine.

I haven't worked on it much as it's been crazy busy around here between cleaning and getting ready for our anniversary getaway weekend....another post on that later.

I have completed most of the planets, and have started sorting out more of the sailboats to start on next.  Will update with more pictures soon.