When the night came, silently lay Dead on Culloden’s field.

Culloden Battlefield

As I have been researching facts about Scotland, I found it unintentionally appropriate that our travels took us from Edinburgh to Stirling, then to Inverness and onward to Skye. Especially after reading the meaning behind the original Skye Boat song.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Many’s the lad, fought on that day
Well the claymore did wield;
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden’s field.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

It is a song about the Bonnie Prince Charlie and how he fled the battlefield at Culloden and escaped to Skye. The adaptation of the song has become very popular after the hit TV show, “Outlander” debuted. Not only is the song popular, but American women have been flocking to Inverness just hoping to run into Jamie Fraser, the fictional male lead from the show.

Well… we also went to Inverness, for many reasons. One of them was the fact that we both love Outlander. But also, because we are history nerds.

We woke up to a SUPER cold morning. We got the fire going and slowly roused ourselves out of bed and lo and behold – COWS.

If you will remember from the previous post, we were staying in a Shepherd’s Hut on the Black Isle Brewery Farm just outside of Inverness.

I had to go out and make friends. I’ll have you know that it was slightly snowing and I was still in my pajamas. This little fella was not interested in me. He wanted to scratch his body up against a post instead.

This guys is a different story. Maybe it was a girl. I have no idea. I’m a little obsessed with cows, specifically hairy cows. These had a little hair, just not the flowing locks. Either way, I got to squish them a little.

Finally we get ready and head to one of the most important spots in Scotland: The Battlefield of Culloden.

I could go into the long history of the quest for Scottish independence from England, but at the end of the day, I think this one plaque spells it out. THIS is what happened to the Highlanders.

The battle, which lasted only 40 minutes, resulted in bitter defeat for the heavily outnumbered Jacobites. Some 1,000 of the Young Pretender’s army of 5,000 weak and starving Highlanders were killed by the 9,000 Redcoats, who lost only 50 men.

A devastating blow to the Bonnie Prince Charlie and to the Highlanders who supported the Jacobite cause.

We wandered the grounds, taking in our own little battle of sorts: blustery wind, snow, and freezing cold temperatures. I was probably the coldest on this very morning.

We wandered the grounds as we were waiting for the museum to open. We saw this adorable thatch-roofed home right in front of the Highlander’s side of the battlefield.

We came upon the moor where the clans were buried in mass graves. We found Clan Fraser and sort of fan-girled out. The main character of Outlander is based on this clan in particular.

We finally got inside of the museum and took a bathroom break and snack break. We skipped breakfast and we were both cold & a little hungry. I opted for a flat white coffee and croissant with clotted cream.

Oh clotted cream. Be still my beating heart.

The museum at the battlefield was so well done. Minimal entry fee and you get to see the weapons and so many other items the Highlanders and the Red Coats used in the war.

After touring this amazing and truly sobering spot, we decided to drive over to Loch Ness and look for the lake monster Nessie!

Loch Ness

The picture above is the one and only time we used my new selfie stick. Why? Because my phone fell out of it and crashed onto the stones below. Yes, a completely cracked screen. But, Loch Ness is behind us.

It is a BEAUTIFUL lake or loch as they call it. The winding roads, the green hills, the leaves on the trees changing colors – it was a beautiful Thanksgiving day. Oh yeah… it is Thanksgiving.

We kept driving around the lake and saw the signs for Urquhart Castle. The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. It was subsequently held as a royal castle, and was raided on several occasions by the MacDonald Earls of Ross. The castle was granted to the Clan Grant in 1509, though conflict with the MacDonalds continued. Despite a series of further raids the castle was strengthened, only to be largely abandoned by the middle of the 17th century. Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and subsequently decayed.

The castle, situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness, is one of the largest in Scotland in area. It was approached from the west and defended by a ditch and drawbridge. The buildings of the castle were laid out around two main enclosures on the shore. The northern enclosure or Nether Bailey includes most of the more intact structures, including the gatehouse, and the five-story Grant Tower at the north end of the castle. The southern enclosure or Upper Bailey, sited on higher ground, comprises the scant remains of earlier buildings.

You can see Loch Ness from the Castle

After we plundered the castle, we decided to head back to this little area that had restaurants and gifts shops. It was almost 2 pm and we had not eaten anything since around 9 that morning. And guess what? NOTHING was open. One of the biggest rules I would give you is know that the kitchens close at 1 pm. Plan accordingly.

We decided to head back to the brewery to see if they served food there. We knew they had a restaurant, we just weren’t sure where.

Once we got inside, we realized that they had the cutest gift shop. So I bought a cap, a t-shirt, bag and the coolest pullover!

From the very sheep outside of out door.

THOSE sheep.

And for the record, I repel sheep. They see me coming and run the other way. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I only wanted a little squish – squish.

Inverness

Finally, we head back into the town of Inverness for our Thanksgiving feast. It was around 5pm and we finally found the Black Isle Brewery Pub.

I went for the Pepperoni, Chili & Honey Pizza: passata, mozzarella, pepperoni, red onion, chili, mascarpone, honey and oregano.

Not your typical American Thanksgiving feast, but it wasn’t too shabby! All of the ingredients were grown or raised there on the farm and is organic!

After dinner, we headed back to the Shepherd’s Hut and chatted it up with the owner’s son, who happens to be from the Clan Fraser. He brought us some more fire starter, because a blizzard was expected to come that night. Telisa and I snuggled into our bed, I in my thermals, and read until I fell asleep.

Our time in Inverness was coming to a close and it was time to get ready to head to the Isle of Skye, just like the Bonnie Prince Charlie did hundreds of years ago.

Mountains of Rain and Sun

The quote above should have been our mantra. Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.

We woke up on Wednesday morning anxious to set off on the more adventurous part of our journey. With a promise from Air France that Telisa’s luggage would arrive by 10 am, we decided to slowly pack and then head downstairs for breakfast at The Scott House.

Just like the day before, we chatted it up with Jemima, thanking her for her hospitality and enjoying a nice homecooked breakfast. As it got closer to ten, we realized, her luggage was nowhere to be found. Air France said the courier service at the Edinburgh airport had it, and the courier service said that Air France had it and everyone was just being rude. They kept telling Telisa that there was nothing they could do about it and that it would be delivered to the address we gave them. Telisa tried to explain that we were leaving Edinburgh that morning and yet, still, there was nothing they could do. Luckily, Jemima said she would hold her luggage until we got back to Edinburgh…. in five days.

Five days without a coat and we were heading to The Highlands. Hoooo boy.

We reluctantly got in the cab and headed to the airport where Hertz Rental was located. Telisa decided to upgrade to an automatic, since driving on the other side of the road, on the other side of the car was hard enough, using her left hand to change gears might push her over the edge.

On the way over, we ended up in a cab with a woman who did not speak English very well. Clearly middle eastern, she wore a hijab and I recognized her accent right away; we tried to give her all of the information she needed to get us there. She got lost.

Yes, the cabbie got lost. She explained in broken English that she had only just arrived in the country and it was one of her first days working. I thought Telisa was going to blow a gasket. It was just too much. I decided to play good cop and tried to explain, in the easiest way possible what we are looking for. She finally stopped the cab, got out, and came around to my side. Telisa was on the phone with Daniele (her husband) and was venting to him. As I was talking to the woman, I realized that she had no idea where we were asking her to take us. I took it upon myself to type in the HERTZ and we finally got there. THEN she said the one thing she shouldn’t have, “No worry, I won’t charge you for us getting lost.” Telisa bolted upright and headed out the door. I used her credit card, paid the lady and grabbed a few pounds out of my pocket and handed it to her. She kept saying, ” No, no! I no accept.” I insisted and said, “It’s okay.” She thanked me profusely with tears in her eyes and drove off. I figured at the rate we were going, some good karma couldn’t hurt. Sometimes… kindness is all a person needs. I had a feeling that lady was going to have some difficult days ahead and maybe, just maybe, she will remember there once was this little American girl that showed her kindness.

You just never know.

So with a full tank of gas, full-coverage insurance, and a car of a brand we had never heard of – we packed it up and decided to head to Stirling.

But wait.

Telisa tried to get in on the left side and just busted out laughing. Think about it….

That’s the passenger-side. Ha!

So we get situated and then started to take off. I wish I could share the video with you, just go to Tik Tok and look up QueenBeeNicole05. You will see the whole hilarious adventure unfold in video. We nearly get side-swiped, because, well, it was all different and I was a terrible navigator. I am married to a dyslexic and the words left and right mean nothing to him. I have to point and say, this way. Well… I was doing that for Telisa and she was super frustrated. Eek. I corrected my errors and we drove down the highway to the beautiful city of Stirling.

Stirling is a city in central Scotland, 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Glasgow and 37 miles (60 km) north-west of Edinburgh. We got to our next destination fairly quickly. I wanted to eat at this adorable restaurant I found online called the Lion and the Unicorn. It is a traditional family owned country hotel, pub & restaurant situated in Thornhill just outside Stirling. One of the requests Telisa had was for us to go to an old restaurant that had a roaring fire. This place had three log burning fireplaces! The restaurant had been serving food and ale since 1635! That’s crazy. And it was everything!!! One of the best meals to date.

The little town of Thornhill is absolutely adorable. Very quaint, very quiet, and the hills were dotted with sheep.

This is the picture I had in my head when I thought of Scotland.

Latte

Once we got situated, I ordered a latte to warm my bones up. We could definitely feel the change in weather and both agreed that it was time to order some comfort food.

As I took a gander at the menu, I could not stop laughing at the toppings for their baked potatoes. Creamed Haggis? Tuna Mayo? Holy Moly. I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore. I’d be lying if I started getting a little nervous about heading into the Highlands. I thought to myself, “Uh-oh. This might have the feel of Appalachians.”

Then the main courses appeared and all was right again. Telisa opted for the Roast Rib Eye of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Red Wine Gravy and I went for the Homemade hand-cut local farm assured steak pie topped with puff pastry lid.

Steak Pie

This was the first time in two months I had eaten beef. I only took a few bites, just to savor the taste, and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.

Rib Eye of Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

We both savored this comfort food and discussed what we needed to do to remedy the luggage situation – 4 days later.

Telisa ended up finding a courier service that would pick up her luggage from the Scott House and deliver it to the farm in Inverness (our next stop.) It was going to cost her over $400. But she coughed it up.

As we were wrapping up our lunch, we realized there was something amazing on the menu that neither of us had ever tried. Apparently, sticky toffee pudding is a thing in the UK. So….

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I took one bite. And it was the best bite of my life. Telisa, and I quote, said this was one of the top ten things she has ever put in her mouth.

Yep.

That’s what she said. 😉

Lion & The Unicorn

We hopped in the car after our awesome pit stop and regrouped. Off to Stirling proper where the William Wallace monument was located and Stirling Castle.

If you don’t know, William Wallace (c. 1270 – 23 August 1305) was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. He was appointed Guardian of Scotland and served until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298. In August 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.

Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of Blind Harry’s 15th-century epic poem The Wallace and the subject of literary works by Jane Porter and Sir Walter Scott, and of the Academy Award-winning film Braveheart. I had to get that iconic “FREEDOM” shot.

But to no avail. We simply could not find. And apparently it is HUGE.

Just look it up. It is simply shameful.

Then we see Stirling Castle waaaay up the hill. We enter it into navigation and start heading that way. Maybe a castle would save this side trip!

Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill and is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times. Most of the principal buildings of the castle date from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A few structures remain from the fourteenth century, while the outer defenses fronting the town date from the early eighteenth century.

Before the union with England, Stirling Castle was also one of the most used of the many Scottish royal residences, very much a palace as well as a fortress. Several Scottish Kings and Queens have been crowned at Stirling, including Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1542, and others were born or died there. There have been at least eight sieges of Stirling Castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.

You can see why we HAD to see it.

And yet… we didn’t.

Navigation SUCKS in Scotland.

If we took one more second left at the round-about.

Abort. We aborted the mission and put in the address, or what we THOUGHT was the address for Black Isle Brewery in Inverness.

And off we went. To The Highlands of Scotland.

The altitude began to change, the sun began to set even quicker – it was 2:30 when we left Stirling, we had a 3 hour drive and the sun would set at 3:30 pm. Yep.

We stopped once for fuel and snacks and I noticed that snow was beginning to come down. I decided to check my trusty phone and this is what I found:

Alright, not to shabby. BUT… driving in the mountains in fresh snow… um…

And then we got a little further. It was pitch black outside, maybe close to 5ish and we are very close, when suddenly, we get this:

A freaking blizzard!!!

Okay… sooo…

We end up in the Black Isle area, waaaay up in the north of Scotland and we can’t seem to find the farm. It is dark as can be, it is snowing, we are freezing and HUNGRY and finally, after about 30 minutes of phone calls and realizing to navigate up here you have to put in the postal code, because, we were apparently staying on an unnamed road, we made it to the Black Isle Brewery, which is located on an organic farm. We had the privilege of staying in the Shepherd’s Hut, right on the farm.

Armed with open handed mittens I picked up in Edinburgh…

We lugged our stuff up and basically had a quick confrontation (also known as releasing angst,) self-corrected and then the mood changed completely because…

Reunited and it felt so good.

Okay, now that we had EVERYTHING, it was time to heat up this… caravan of sorts.

We had to get a fire started in the wood burning stove. Yep.

And we did!

Next up – to navigate our way back five miles to Inverness to find food on a Wednesday night. We headed to the Scotch & Rye, but they were no longer serving food and found Platform 8, instead. We found a little corner, ordered up some grub and settled in to watch the Porto versus Liverpool soccer match. Because… when in Inverness…

We ate some medicore food to just have something and then stopped by a gas station to pick up breakfast and snacks.

Platform 8

We made it back with no problems and settled in for a snowy, cozy night in the Shepherd’s Hut on Black Isle Brewery Farm.

Next up: The Battlefield of Culloden, Loch Ness, and busted phone screens.

Say Could That Lass Be I?

Edinburgh Castle

Ready for Part Two of my Scottish adventure with my lifelong friend, Telisa?

If you missed part one – simply click HERE.

Tuesday Morning:

I got a full night’s sleep, which is always a blessing on the first real night in a bed. I slept the sleep of the dead starting around 8 pm and woke up somewhere around 7 am on Tuesday morning. Telisa and I slowly got moving and started making a plan. We decided to wait an hour or so and just enjoy a leisurely breakfast as we waited for her luggage to arrive. We knew it was going to be in the upper 30s and it was paramount that we got her coat and a change of clothes, so she wouldn’t have to brave the elements and over pay for something that was about to arrive.

Eh hem.

So… we made it down the three flights of stairs to the formal dining room of the Bed & Breakfast we were staying at.

A breakfast feast at The Scott House in Edinburgh

There was quite a feast set up for the guests. At this point, the only people staying there was us and a young couple originally from Russia, now living in London. We spent most of the morning enjoying conversation about the cultural differences we made note of the night before. Everything from the use of the “f-word” to how kind everyone seemed to be. Our host, Jemima, shared her story of how she once lived in the Caribbean and the states and how she met her husband in the Philippines.

Her husband also happens to be a chef and was cooking up a delicious breakfast for us.

Scottish Breakfast

Since I am still trying to eat a little better, I opted for the scrambled egg and none of the fatty sausages or country ham. What was added to it was baked beans (a staple for the British breakfast,) a potato scone, hashbrown and the eggs. I grabbed some homemade yogurt from the bar and added granola and nibbled on a piece of cheese and fruit. We filled up, shared stories with the other guests and host, and waited. And waited…

And the luggage did not arrive. Telisa asked Jemima to please give her a ring if her luggage made an appearance, then we called an uber and headed to Holyrood Palace.

Holyrood Palace

Apparently, the Queen was not receiving guests today. Or tomorrow. 😉 That’s right, the palace is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesday and we missed our appointment the day before, as we were stuck in line for Telisa’s baggage claim. Boo on Air France and Boo on the palace for not being open. Regardless, we snapped a few pics and decided to actually walk the Royal Mile (which is actually NOT a mile, more so a few kilometers) to Edinburgh Castle.

As we started up the hill Telisa was freezing – and rightfully so! All she had was a shawl and since we had already had two little disappointments (her luggage not showing up and the palace being closed,) I thought we might need to find a place just to get our bearings. As we were walking, I spotted a tea room and thought – PERFECT! A little British culture and a place to relax out of the elements and get it together.

Clarinda’s Tea Room on the Royal Mile

We found Clarinda’s Tea Room on the Royal Mile, very close to Holyrood Palace. This adorable space was the quintessential tea room with rose chintz wallpaper, tea cups hanging on the wall, and quiet classical music playing in the background.

Clarinda’s Tea Room

The first thing I noticed was a scrumptious array of sweets on the sideboard. I ordered a piece of apple bread, flat white coffee, and the strawberry & kiwi herbal iced tea.

Flat White
Strawberry Kiwi Herbal Iced Tea
Clarina’s Tea Room

We relaxed a little and Telisa warmed up quite a bit. After a few laughs and tasty treats we started our nine hour shopping, sipping, oohing and ahhing of Edinburgh.

Kirkyard on the Royal Mile

Along the Royal Mile you will find a Close, which happens to be an alley-way that leads you to private gardens, churches, and a whole slew of other places and things. We happened upon a beautiful Kirkyard (Churchyard) that had a really old cemetery. We wandered around this peaceful little nook tucked off the street.

Kirkyard – Cemetery

Many of the graves had fascinating stories. I love walking through, judging the age differences between the husband and wives, checking out what they did, or whatever little insight I could find into the lives of these people who walked these streets hundreds of years ago.

Down the Royal Mile

We stopped in multiple stores and bought random souvenirs and trinkets for our friends and family. The architecture was just perfection. Absolute perfection. I could totally see where the inspiration for Harry Potter came from and why they chose to film so much of it here.

At this point, things are still looking up (as far as luggage goes,) and we decided to stop in a pub to allow Telisa to warm up a little more (remember, she doesn’t have a coat yet,) and try to get the vibe from the locals.

The World’s End Pub

We happened upon The World’s End Pub. I had remembered reading a little about this space and so we decided to mosey on up to the bar – I ordered a water, while she ordered a mulled wine. This pub is a 16th Century listed building in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. The gates to the city used to be situated outside the pub, and the brass cobbles in the road represent their exact location. The building has had a few incarnations over the years, from bakers to wine merchants, and finally as a traditional old-style pub.

Our bartender, Graham, did a fantastic job of entertaining us! At some point, I think it was when Telisa ordered a second drink, a traditional hot toddy, that she asked where she could find a Glasgow Rangers shirt in the area. Oh boy did the entire pubs ears perk up. ANYTHING that has to do with the Rangers or the Celtic, are a big no-no in Edinburgh. Suddenly, everyone was piping in – and it was good fun, and we ended up laughing with the entire bar. Our bartender put it lightly, “If the Ranger’s were playing child molesters, the entire city would cheer on the child molesters.” Yep. They take football (soccer,) that seriously!

After some good laughs and good advice, we headed back out to do a little more shopping. Telisa finally decided to cough up some cash and bought this gorgeous sky blue cashmere sweater to help keep her warm.

St. Giles Square

As we were wandering, I am pretty sure Telisa spent a good amount of time trying to call Delta and the Edinburgh airport and Air France just trying to sort things out. She was getting a little more aggravated and there really wasn’t anything I could do to help the situation. I just tried to keep moving, keep the conversation light and well… what do we do in the South? We eat our feelings. So I found a little cafe down a close and we stopped for some munchies.

Thistle Stop Cafe

We found The Thistle Stop Cafe. A darling little place with a handful of tables. There were probably three other couples in there, so we just sat down and ordered our lunch.

I ordered a cheese & ham toastie (grilled cheese sandwhich) and a jacketed potato. (loaded baked potato.)

The mood was not the best, as Telisa was on the phone with Air France. She was really letting them have it – since her luggage had STILL not shown up. As she was chatting with the folks on the phone, she got a little louder and a little angrier, and I noticed the ladies behind the counter started giggling, as well as the couple across from us. I sort of smiled and laughed along, but knowing that this was no laughing matter. I got up, went to the counter, paid for our lunch and explained what had happened to her. The ladies were so sympathetic to her plight and understood why Telisa was so heated.

We were both basically finished eating, so I asked was she ready to go. I think I picked the wrong moment, because she was not ready and sort of barked something to that point. I knew she was just frustrated and decided to go ahead and let her finish up either a phone call or her food and just get some air. It was hot as hades in the place and I was really enjoying the fresh air. Luckily, there was this adorable courtyard.

We finally left the area and made our way over to St. Giles. There was this girl in the middle singing opera and it was just so magical – the sun was setting and the backdrop of this gothic cathedral was everything. Telisa sort of took off on her own through the church and I followed up behind. I wanted to give her some space. Once we rounded the corner, I did a temperature check and she seemed to have relaxed a little. Beautiful spaces do that for you. I asked to come sit with me on the chairs in the sanctuary and I basically said a little prayer out loud for things to work out for her. We left in better spirits and headed even further up hill toward the castle.

St Giles

St Giles Cathedral was founded by King David I in 1124. Yeah… it is that old. Click on the link above and learn more about this amazing space. I feel blessed just to have experienced it!

As we were trudging uphill, I suddenly realized we were just steps from Edinburgh Castle! Yes, we had made it up that mountainous hill to the very steps of the castle.

And yes, it was everything.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is alive with exciting tales of its time as a military fortress, royal residence and prison of war. When you climb Castle Hill, you walk in the footsteps of soldiers, kings and queens – and even the odd pirate or two. It is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe. With a long rich history as a royal residence, military garrison, prison and fortress. As I mentioned above, it was home to kings and queens for many centuries. Queen Margaret (who was later made a saint) died here in 1093. The chapel built in her honor by her son, King David I, is Edinburgh’s oldest building.

As we approached the area, I moved over to the right to just take a seat on the stone wall and just take it all in. Telisa had moved to the other side and was not really talking very much. I felt kind of helpless in the moment, knowing that anything I said was not going to help matters and I figured the best thing was to let her process what was happening to her. But I wanted to share my amazement with someone – so I called my husband. I literally had tears in my eyes – not tears of sadness or anger, but amazement at what I was seeing. That castle was absolutely beautiful at night.

After I hung up and sort of took a deep breath, I turned around to find Telisa and see if she was feeling better. Lo and behold, she came over and sort of laughed and shared that she had a zen moment and sort of let it all go. I smiled, honestly thrilled for her, because at the end of the day, there was nothing any of us could do. We were at the mercy of the airlines. She told me she and her sister had this saying, “But did you die?” and it sort of put everything in perspective. No one died. We were in one of the most historical and beautiful cities in the world and we were able to laugh and move on.

Once we got back to the B&B, we freshened up and headed around the block to Barony Bar for dinner.

Barony Bar, Edinburgh

We had small feast of sorts: Scotch egg, Cheese platter, Chicken, Chips, fried prawns and so many other little things.

We ended the evening on a high note- bellies full and a promise from Air France and the Edinburgh Baggage folks that by 10:30 on Wednesday morning, Telisa would indeed have her luggage.

We packed our bags up because the next morning we had another adventure: Driving to Stirling and Inverness! Stay Tuned for that HILARIOUS leg of the trip!

Somewhere in Edinburgh

Sing Me A Song Of A Lass That Is Gone..

Atlanta Airport

I’ve been missing for about nine days or so – off to the land of Haggis, Sheep, Tartans, and Highlanders: Scotland.

On Sunday, November 21st, my dear friend and one of my oldest confidantes, Telisa, met up at her home to be transported to the Atlanta Airport. Luckily, she had this awesome connection with MGA LUX, a private transportation service that escorts you to the front door of the airport! We gathered our things and headed out to greener, well, snowier pastures!

Telisa & I on MGA LUX

When I travel internationally, I always dress super comfortable. I opted for a thin, butter soft gray T-shirt that read Radiate Positivity in rose gold and black yoga pants. I made sure to pack two more outfits on my carry-on bag, as well as all of my chargers, hiking boots, and makeup, just in case my luggage gets lost.

We were giddy as two teenagers! You see, Telisa and I have been talking about traveling to Europe together for years. Sure, we’ve both done some traveling, she more so than I, but we had never done this together. Actually, our friendship started over the Let’s Go Europe 1991 (I think that was the year,) book! At the time we couldn’t imagine where we would ever come up with $800 to backpack Europe, and here we are now, in our late 40s, sitting on go with less worries and definitely more financial stability. (I can’t imagine spending $800 to backpack a continent now! I think I blew that much on souvenirs alone.)

I was a little nervous about getting through security due to my name. I never officially changed my last name on my passport or social security card after I got married, however, I did change my last name on my driver’s license. At work, on my insurance, and my vaccination card, it reads: Kirksey. On everything else, it reads: Thurston. We put the airline ticket in Thurston and I just grabbed my passport and hoped for the best. Like all things we worry about, they didn’t even bat an eye at my vaccination card in the Kirksey name. One hurdle done.

Got through TSA with no problems, I believe Telisa’s bag got pulled, but all went well and we headed to our gate for an overnight flight to Paris, France.

Ah Paris, you know how I love you. If you haven’t read about that trip, click HERE.

Unfortunately, Telisa and I did not get to sit together on the eight hour flight. We got upgraded to Comfort plus, so the seats were not together. She sat next to a guy from Croatia and I sat next to a guy from Colombia. Best part about Delta’s Comfort Plus:

Delta’s Comfort Plus

All of that leg room.

The flight was smooth as silk and we landed in Paris around 9 am or so. We had a little over an hour to get through security to catch our connection to Edinburgh. The Paris TSA were a pain in the ass – barking orders: Grab an extra container. No, not that one. Is this your water? Keep moving.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

And guess what? Both our bags got pulled for a security check. Plus, they used their wand to scan my hands for bomb residue.

Ha.

FINALLY we get to our plane, a very small plane, might I add, and settle in for the 1.5 hours flight.

On the Plane From Paris to Edinburgh

I am pretty sure I fell asleep on this flight, since the last one, I simply watched movies and read my book over the eight hours we were over the ocean.

We finally land in Edinburgh and we breeze through customs and head out to get our scheduled Covid tests. I have to admit, that is a little intimidating. I did worry – what IF I was positive? I would have to stay in a hotel for ten days and not leave the area. That would totally ruin the entire trip. Luckily, we got in and out and everything was negative.

Uh oh… I forgot an important detail. My luggage made it, Telisa’s did not. So our day was a little behind, because she had to file her claim with the baggage area and everything got pushed back a little. We missed our appointment to visit Holyrood Palace and… well… just wait, there is more!

We hailed a cab and had an awesome time chatting it up with our driver. He was a talkative bloke, originally from England, and he enjoyed pointing out the attractions and telling us about the neighborhoods. He did ask us, (which I was surprised it came up,) what we thought of Trump. We both, in unison, replied, “Not a fan.” He then went on to tell us why he just adored him. He explained he loved his brashness and no-holds-bar approach to dealing with people. We were quite surprised. I had always heard that the international community were not a fan. Goes to show what I know. (But wait… there is more on this issue later.)

We got dropped off at the address Telisa googled for the Bed & Breakfast – The Scott House. We got out, crossed a busy street and discovered that we were indeed at The Scott House, just the wrong Scott House. At this point, Telisa is started to get frustrated and for good reason. She was cold and still aggravated about the airline losing her luggage. We sort of took a deep breath, got on the AirBnB website and figured out where to go next. We hailed another cab and took off, this time for the new place. While this is happening, she realizes that she cannot find her glasses. The last time she had them, we were in Paris. I wouldn’t think much of it, but apparently, she is blind without them. Add that to the list of things that could go wrong.

By the time we got to the RIGHT Scott House, I was thrilled to see a bench out front. It was too early to check in and we couldn’t get the owner on the phone. So I just grabbed a spot and chilled out. Finally, a woman who speaks very little English answers the door and lets us in. She ends up handing us the phone, and the owner, Jemima, is on the line. She tells us our rooms are almost ready, in the meantime, just relax. So we did. It was nice to sit someplace warm and cozy.

Outside of the Scott House

The Scott House is a beautifully restored Georgian (about 200-year-old) townhouse in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, laying just off the trendy Broughton Street area. All rooms had large en-suites with both bath and shower. The space was absolutely perfect for our first taste of Scotland. To see our room, click HERE. We stayed in the Robert Burns room, which happens to be both haunted AND up three flights of stairs.

Oh wait.. I forgot to tell you. I had to pay $100 extra dollars for my suitcase which weighed 56 pounds. It was six pounds over. I was dreading the idea of pulling my big suitcase up the stairs, when divine intervention presented itself. Telisa could not see, yet I could. She asked me to handle the baggage issue on the phone, and in turn, she would carry my bag upstairs! Let’s just say, she made me an offer I could not refuse.

Once we got upstairs, it was getting close to 2 pm, and I was in need of sustenance and Telisa needed glasses. We got cleaned up (well, I did anyway, she really didn’t have anything to change into,) and we walked out the door, around the corner to see if we could find a pharmacy or bookstore or really anyplace that might have reading glasses. Telisa finally found a pair and the mood began to lighten just a bit more. At least she could see now, however, the coat situation was not looking good. The confirmation we had from the airline was that her luggage would be delivered on Tuesday morning and that all would be well. We decided to scope out the street, feeling a little more hopeful and ready to tackle the day!

Right behind where we were stay was the Cask & Barrel Pub.

Cask & Barrel

Luckily, we met the nicest Scottish bartender who poured Telisa a pint and made a flat white coffee for me.

Just order a flat white when in doubt

I asked if they were still serving lunch and unfortunately, the kitchen was closed. I think he took pity on my story about the comedy of errors we were experiencing and went in the back and heated up some potato and leek soup for me!

Potato & Leek Soup

Suddenly, everything seemed to feel right. We got the biggest kick out of the older gentlemen sitting to the right of us. They were discussing a soccer match and every other word was eff this and eff that. Well-dressed, nice men at that. Apparently the F-word is just another word in this part of the world. Telisa and I giggled at the lack of pretension and just sat back and relaxed.

Me at the Cask & Barrel Pub

After we sort of got our bearings we decided to uber over to the Edinburgh Christmas Market on Prince Street. Talk about magical!!!! THIS was what the doctor ordered.

It was close to 4pm and in Scotland, specifically this area, the sun begins to set at this time. This means we got the full force of the evening cold, the twinkly lights and the magic on an older city like Edinburgh can provide.

A Hotdog at the festival

Telisa joked over and over how she was “there for all the food.” I was still trying to behave myself and stay “not sick,” so I just lived vicariously through her. The next few pics are some of the items she ate:

This was actually just where salmon was being smoked
Mulled Cider with Scottish Whisky
Piri Piri Style Spiral Chips
Smoking of fish
Mac & Cheese with Parm – My option
Candy Stall

After we shopped and nibbled our way through the market, I realized that I needed dinner. So we stopped by the Milnes Bar on Rose Street.

Telisa ordered the fried haggis fritters,

Fried Haggis Fritters

While I opted for the veggie sliders and chips.

Veggie Sliders

I actually tried some of the haggis and honestly, it was not bad! It tasted very much like beef. We enjoyed sipping and nibbling and just chatting it up. Finally, we decided it was time to head back, take showers and get ready for the big first full day in Edinburgh.

Little did we know…. the comedy of errors had only begun!

Stay tuned for Part Two!

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Ready To Listen?

Caught this jolly fella in Santa Land in Downtown Americus

I am coming off a 14-hour work day. One of my favorites of the year – Christmas Open House in Downtown Americus. It took a couple of years to adjust to the fact that 1. Christmas Open House takes place the Thursday BEFORE Thanksgiving and 2. The City allow us to say Christmas instead of Holidays. Five years in and it seems perfectly normal. So normal that when someone asks me, “Why?”, I look at them strangely!

My work family

A lot goes into prepping a city for the holidays. Thousands of dollars, as well as hundreds of man hours. You mix that in with creativity and early holiday burn-out, it is amazing when you see the finished product. Another hazard of the job is that everyone has an opinion on what you should have done. This many years in, I realize it just comes with the territory.

Aside from an awesome event last night, we kicked the day off with a ribbon cutting. Yes, it is straight out of an episode of Parks & Rec.

A great turn-out

Earlier in the year, the American Street Trolley bit the dust. It was way past time for a new one, and boy oh boy, did we get an upgrade. This one has heating & air, AND is accessible for wheelchairs. What a game changer!

It is the little things that make a community special, you know?

Today is a super busy day for me – getting all of my loose ends at work tied up before I go on vacation next week. I started the morning with depositing my travel funds into my fun-money account and now I am getting ready to pick up my prescriptions for the trip.

Tim called a little while ago and asked could we have family over tonight to roast hotdogs and marshmallows by the fire. *Sigh*

I don’t mind, I just have to go buy veggie dogs for me! (And no marshmallows.) Life gets a little complicated when you are trying to live healthier. For example, I was soooo hungry when I woke up, so I ordered a 20 oz. smoothie from Smoothie King. As a HiTone Fitness member, we get a perk at the establishment. It is just a little discount, but sure does help when you add those enhancers. I ordered a favorite of mine – The Chocolate Peanut Power Smoothie. It has 690 calories, which is way more than I typically allow myself at a meal – but I went in on a mission. I wanted to fill up and really hit my macros. Particularly my carbs, protein and fiber. I added the fiber enhancer, immune booster (both to help my system before I travel,) and electrolytes, because I recognize that I am a little dehydated today.

I did another something I have been dreading – I gave myself an at-home Covid test. I wanted to be absolutely certain that I would not have any surprises when we got to Edinburgh. We have to take a test upon arrival and yes… I did come into contact with someone on Saturday that did, indeed, test positive. Though everyone in this person’s life tested negative, I waiting until the very end to give it a go. All is well!! No covid.

Folks – here is another reason to get vaccinated! I spent a considerable amount of time with this person, they were coughing up a storm. I was told they had been to the doctor and it was pneumonia, but not covid. But turns out…

I have the 2 full Pfizer and the booster just 2 weeks ago. I am negative. Vaccines, do indeed, work.

Speaking of trips – AHHHHHHHHH! I am beyond thrilled! I plan to blog about my experience in a three part series – Edinburgh, Stirling/Inverness, and Isle of Skye. Stay tuned for that!

When I get back to town, I will hit the ground running with a lot of work-related activities. So much to do, so little time to do it in!

Update on knees: I feel like a new woman. I almost cried waking up this morning and stepping onto the floor and not having to suck in breath from the pain. AMAZING!!

Alright, I have things to do… LOTS of things. I know you guys are busy too. I hope to tackle some topics in the coming days. You guys were always good at letting me know what you wanted me to write about. Feel free to message me with some ideas.

Until next time….

Pass the Cranberries and Haggis

Almost five years now, I have dealt with some fairly tough knee pain. Got a second opinion today and here is what we know:

  1. Lose the weight. (Yep, working on it.)
  2. Osteoarthritis
  3. Bone spurs
  4. Torn MCL

Soooo…. I got TWO cortisone shots today, one in each knee. First timer here, folks, and man oh man – I am soooooo glad I did. It has been about an hour and the pain is subsiding.

I say – BRING ON THE HIGHLANDS!

Okay, let me back up.

I’m going to Scotland this Sunday. Super excited about this trip because it is with one of my best friends in the whole world – Telisa. We have been talking about traveling to Europe together for almost 30 years now and FINALLY we are taking our trip.

As we were crowd-sourcing information about touring Edinburgh and the Highlands, many of our friends informed up that Scotland is super hilly and of course – there are the mountains. All I could think was, “How in the world was I going to navigate those hills with my knees.”

I decided to take my healing into my own hands, called my friend that is a Physical Therapist, and began 8 sessions of PT. Still… there was a little pain, so I got a second opinion. Dr. Fennessy gave me two shots, one in each knee.

Now I can scream from the top of my lungs – “BRING ON THE HIGHLANDS!”

Now that is fixed, time to transform into an elf for the Christmas Open House that is about to happen. Yes, a 14 hour work-day.

Ho! Ho! Ho! and pass the cranberry sauce and haggis.

Is This Thing On?

Welp…

That was a bit of a break, wasn’t it?

Just checking to see if any of you are still out there and if so – Hi ya! How ya been?

It’s been nine months since I last shared any thoughts with the public. I even thought about deleting the whole blog. But then I remembered how much I used to love writing.

I’m not sure what happened, but anyway…

Here I am. I’m back and well, a LOT has changed. Again.

For one,

Me in the hospital

About six weeks ago, I ended up in the hospital for nine days. I had acute pancreatitis caused by 56 gall stones, and an enlarged liver.

Eek!

Let’s just say – KETO WAS NOT MY FRIEND.

That’s okay, moving on. Had the gall bladder removed and began making some serious lifestyle changes very quickly and in six weeks, I am down 20 pounds. Why all of the extreme changes? NAFLD. What is that? Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition in which excess fat is stored in your liver. This buildup of fat is not caused by heavy alcohol use. When heavy alcohol use causes fat to build up in the liver, this condition is called alcohol-associated liver disease. I just had a good-old fashioned fatty liver. Ugh.

What causes it? Poor lifestyle choices, which includes high fat and processed food.

Thank GOD I decided back in March or so to start working with a nutritionist by the name of Sue. We were slowly working on making some lifestyle changes. Slow as in I would give myself a B- in doing what is good and right.

Now that this has happened, I would give myself an A-.

So what have I done?

  • Cut out all soda or any carbonated drink
  • No beef
  • No pork
  • No fried food
  • Decrease in processed food
  • Whole foods

Not too shabby. I am pretty sure that my body will thank me for this years from now. 😉

Now that my attempt to write is back, I am sure you will hear a lot about how this is going.

What else is going on? Well…..

I got a new boss. All of the kids are in college and out of the house. Knock on wood – Tim and I are COVID free and both vaccinated and have our boosters. #TeamPfizer

I did, indeed, make some friends – FINALLY. I am serving on different boards and doing different things. Again, all of these things will be discussed in the coming months.

I’m back in the gym. I still haven’t found a church, but I am honestly not looking very hard since COVID.

I went on some pretty spectacular trips this year. All of which I will share later. And I guess the biggest news of all:

I’M GOING TO SCOTLAND IN 4 DAYS!!!

That will be a story all unto its self!

So stand by, strap in, and let’s try Destination Unknown – 3.0.

And by the way, Dorian says Hi!

Isn’t he gorgeous?

The Valley

Hi! It has been a minute, hasn’t it?

Happy New Year…. four months in. Boy, am I a little late to the party with sharing what all has been happening. I guess you could say I was down in the valley, trying to figure some things out.

And I did.

There is a lot of good for me to share, and a whole lot of loss. But just know, I am okay and life is okay.

Let’s get the big moments out of the way first. My dad turned 75! Yes, he made it to 75. Heart attack & cancer survivor and now officially in his mid-seventies. I could not be more thrilled.

AND my mom turned 70! Both had monumental birthdays! (For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find her picture with her sash and tiara.) Regardless, all is well and both are healthy. That’s all I could ask for.

Something pretty sad happened.

My fat-head boy died. Yes, on Feb. 13th around 4:30 pm, right after begging for food, he followed Tim into the utility room to be fed and collapses from a heart attack. I tried everything I could to bring him back (prayer, cpr, bargaining with God,) However, nothing worked.

I’m still hurting from this loss and honestly, if I allow it, this loss will consume my thoughts.

Dorian turned one! That was a bright spot, just four days later. He is a healthy baby boy and is maturing more and more each day.

And since we are talking birthdays, I made it to number 48. Yep. Officially in my late 40s.

My birthday was fairly low-key. My husband and niece, Micah, took the time to throw me a family party at the farm. They gave me a mountain of donuts and it was divine!

Valentine’s Day was pretty special. Tim arrange a picnic out at the cabin, and followed that up with a romantic dinner of KFC (ha!) and a puzzle. We had a great time.

**Notice the lawn chairs. We were patiently waiting for our new living room suit to be delivered.

Speaking of new things – I got a new car!

I am the proud owner of a Toyota C-HR. I love it!

As far as the kids go – Karen-Ann took a tour of South Georgia Technical College and has decided to enter their cosmetology program.

She was accepted and will start her program this Summer!

Alex is doing well! She transferred to Kennesaw State University from Georgia Southwestern University and is studying Computer Gaming (at the moment.)

At the end of the day, we are all doing well. Just going to work and living life. I have a lot to share over the coming months, but for right now, just celebrating the highlights will have to do. Stay tuned!

Salutations from 2021

Good afternoon, friends! It has been a while since I last wrote. Early November to be exact.

To say I have been busy would be an understatement. My husband and I took a week off and headed to New Orleans, then we stumbled through a few weeks at work, prepping for the holidays, and preparing to send the middle kid off to college, to my taking two weeks off to host family for Christmas. And let me not forget to mention, I’m working on a new project!

Let’s play catch up, shall we?

As far as reading goes, I’ve been a busy girl! I recently finished Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser and Opium & Absinthe by Lydia Kang. I’m currently reading: Sold On Monday by Kristina McMorris. I promise to work on some book reviews in the coming weeks and post accordingly. I HIGHLY recommend each one of these fantastic novels. I don’t want to give too much away, as it will spoil what I will share later.

One of my New Year resolutions was to try to read the Bible cover-to-cover until I actually finish it. However, like many other times, trudging through the Old Testament is enough to make you cringe, so I have decided to take a different approach. I am reading as much as I can from the Old Testament, then stopping and reading as much of the New Testament – per day. Needless to say, I don’t get very far, but I am going through it slowly and making notes and committing those old stories back into my memory. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What else has been happening?

We did actually have a Christmas Open House at the Americus Visitor Center. Small crowds, but it was well-received. We took all precautions in order to stay safe, and yes, I made all of us get festive.

I also tried to make sure we were festive when the SAM Shortline Excursion Train came by! The theme I had in the center was “The Grinch.” I figured with such a crap-tastic year, why not?

The next big thing we did was take off for New Orleans. I actually got a Christmas bonus (and it was a nice one,) so we decided to use that money and actually go somewhere – just the two of us. Since Tim had never been to New Orleans (as an adult,) I thought it was about time. We got up and left for The Big Easy around 8 am. Here I am being silly in front of the Georgia/Florida sign!

We stopped off at one of my favorite places to lunch – McGuire’s Pub in Pensacola. If you have been following me since the former blog, you remember this place!

My first taste of carbs since Memorial day!!!! We split the Fish n Chips and Beer & Blue Burger.

We made our way to the historic The Roosevelt, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel right on the corner of the CBD and French Quarter. We freshened up and headed down to the hotel’s bar – the famous, Sazerac!

Named after what many consider to be the world’s first mixed drink, The Sazerac carries as much history as its potable namesake. Just gazing at the famous Paul Ninas murals flanking the African walnut bar takes you back to the grandeur of old New Orleans – a time when Huey P. Long would stroll in, order a Ramos Gin Fizz, and spend the next couple of hours talking to his constituents.

Restored to reflect the spirit of the original establishment, elegant bar stools and plush banquettes invite locals and visitors alike to enjoy hand-crafted cocktails and free-flowing conversations. We were feeling all types of hip at this New Orleans institution recently named the #1 Hotel Bar in the U.S. by thousands of voters in the 2019 and 2020 USA Today 10Best poll – also name CNN Travel’s #1 Hotel Bar in the Americas.

After our cocktails, we headed down Bourbon Street and made our way to Antoine’s on Saint Louis Street. We had a 7 pm reservation, and this was supposed to be the highlight of the trip! (And it was!!!)

Antoine’s was established in 1840 and is the oldest family-owned restaurant in the United States. It is also home to the Oysters Rockefeller!

We started off with a little appetizer – the Creole Andouille Au Gratin, which is seared local Manda Andouille sausage, Antoine’s creole sauce, broiled 3-cheese topping.

I opted for the Chicken Rochambeau, which is herb-roasted chicken breast with drumette, shaved smoked ham nest, savory onion rice, twin sauces of sweet Rochambeau and tangy bearnaise, pineapple confit. Tim ordered the Pompano Pontchartrain, which is grilled delicate pompano filet, butter poached jumbo lump crabmeat, white wine sauce, onion rice, and seasonal vegetables.

After dinner we indulged in one of my bucket-list dessert items: The Baked Alaska.

If you aren’t sure what that is – it is the house specialty buttery pound cake shell, vanilla ice cream core, delicate meringue crust, and hot chocolate fudge sauce. It says it serves two, more like eight!

We left Antoine’s and headed to the Hotel Monteleone and visited the famous Carousel Bar! The famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in Hotel Monteleone is a long-time favorite New Orleans hotspot. The classic New Orleans hotel bar is the city’s only revolving bar. For decades, it has lured guests in to take a spin on the 25-seat, bright, circus-clad Merry-Go-Round. Recently, Vogue Living named the bar one of the Top 20 Bars in the World, due in equal parts to the whimsical revolving carousel and comprehensive list of cocktails.

The next day we got up and enjoyed a nice stroll down Bourbon over to The Court of the Two Sisters.

Since at least 1726, the property where the Court of Two Sisters restaurant is now located has been a significant cultural presence in New Orleans. During that year, Sieur Etienne de Perier, the second French royal governor of colonial Louisiana, became the original resident of 613 Rue Royale. Originally known as “Governor’s Row”, the 600 block of Royal Street was home to five governors, two State Supreme Court Justices and one future Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Edward Douglas White). Zachary Taylor, who later became the twelfth president of the U.S., also resided for a time at 621 Royal. It has also been rumored that the outrageous Marquis de Vaudreil, another early French governor and the one responsible for transforming New Orleans from a marshland village into a petit Paris, was once a resident of 613 Royal. He was so aristocratic and theatrical that he was known as the “Grand Marquis.” The second floor dining room at the Court of Two Sisters is now called the Grand Marquis Room in his honor.

The property changed hands twice before 1886 when Emile Angaud purchased the building and the street level store at 613 Royal. This is when Bertha, who was married to Emile’s son Baldomero Angaud, and Emma Camors set up their “rabais” or notions shop they called “The Shop of the Two Sisters.” The two sisters, born in 1858 and 1860 respectively, belonged to a proud and aristocratic Creole family. It was for these sisters that “The Court” was named. Their shop outfitted many of the city’s finest women with Mardi Gras costumes, formal gowns of the “Gay Nineties”, lace and perfumes imported from Paris. It’s said that occasionally the sisters would serve tea and cakes to their favorite customers in the large courtyard beginning the tradition continued today.

In 1963, the late Mr. Joe Fein, Jr., an established local restaurateur, acquired the restaurant and immediately began steps to preserve the building’s historical integrity. Mr. Fein’s sons, Joe III and the late Jerry Fein, continued with their father’s dedication to The Court of Two Sisters and now their children, the third generation, are directing the day-to-day operations and maintaining the legacy of the property’s history and reputation. With the Fein family’s expertise, The Court of Two Sisters has become known worldwide for its live Jazz Brunch, romantic Creole dinners, friendly service and beautiful, open-air courtyard. In 2013, the Fein Family celebrated 50 years at The Court of Two Sisters and according to their website, are looking forward to many more years. It truly is magical and very romantic.

I ordered the Glazed Ham Steak with scrambled eggs and buttermilk biscuit.

While Tim ordered the Shrimp and Grits: domestic shrimp poached in creole meuniere reduction; served over andouille grits.

Later that night, after a dog of shopping and coffee, we had dinner at The Napoléon House, which happens to be a 200 year old landmark that’s as casual and unique as its French Quarter surroundings.

The building’s first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile.

Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century.

Owned and operated by the Impastato family since 1914 and Ralph Brennan since May of 2015, it’s a place that suspends you in time, where you can hear Beethoven’s Eroiqua, which he composed for Napoleon, and the music of other classical masters, while sipping a Pimm’s Cup, and basking in an ambiance that could only be New Orleans.

I ordered the Roast Beef Po Boy with a side of red beans and rice, which Tim ordered the Italian Muffuletta with a side of seafood gumbo & jambalaya.

Afterwards, we took an awesome ghost tour with the group: Haunted History Tours.

As many of you already know, I’ve taken a tour with this company, just about every time I have been to New Orleans. I have taken the Vampire Tour 3 times and the Voodoo Tour… but this was my first time taking the 5-in-1 tour, and I hate to say it, but it was my least favorite. Not because of the guide – he was awesome. It was the trying to cram a lot of different things into one. I wouldn’t recommend that one.

For the rest of the trip we did a lot of shopping and a little bit of drinking and a whole lot of eating. One of my favorite spots was Del Fuego on Magazine Street near the Garden District.

We took the St. Charles Street Car down and walked about 6 blocks to Del Fuego.

When I tell you the food was phenomenal… I mean… the food was PHENOMENAL.

We started out with the the Salsas Trio: the fresca, the verde, and the salsa negra. And these homemade tortillas that were to die for. We also ordered the queso. (Because, like… when have I ever turned down queso?)

Tim had the Egg Roll – a monster size egg roll fried like a chimichanga. Stuffed w/ shrimp & carnitas fried rice & seasoned cabbage. Drizzled w/ habanero duck sauce & hot mustard crema. It was HUGE.

I ordered the New Mexico Style Stacked Enchiladas: Chicken tinga, mezcal poblano cream, cheese, crema, side of refried beans & mexican rice.

We rolled ourselves back to the hotel.

There were other yummy surprises and delicious drinks:

But at the end of the day – the most important piece, we relaxed together and had an awesometime!

Our hotel was absolutely gorgeous and decked out for the holidays!

And sure, we spent a small fortune, but it was well worth the trip.

I’ll end right there and pick up next time and share with you all about our Thanksgiving (which we got back home the night before Thanksgiving.)

Until next time…

A Spooktacular October!

I am back, witches! WOW – where did October go? It came in swiftly and left just as quickly. Made it another month into the pandemic and so far, so good!

I had a great week with my niece, Autumn! If you will remember, she came down for a week (during her Fall break,) and we got the opportunity to chill out and chat. I learned so much more about her and what she is dealing with and I feel like we were able to bond more. I am so happy she got the chance to be here. That took an entire week of my time and energy, so that sort of kicked off my absence from writing.

One of the activities we did together was cook! We made the Keto Chocolate donuts that I wrote about last time, plus I taught her how to make red wine braised beef short ribs. I promise to share that recipe later!

Needless to say, they were absolutely amazing!

I also broke out the boxes of Halloween decorations and we started the process of making our home super spooky. I ended up planning a little family Halloween party, which I will share with you a little later. It is hard to believe these decorations have stood the test of time!

I did attend a ribbon cutting for a new tasting room that has made its way to Downtown Americus! The Wolf Creek Plantation winery now has a spot in downtown. How convenient is that?

I also shared my creativity (or lack there of) with the Mattie Stepanik foundation.

They are creating a community mosaic, so we had to paint or color some times. My contribution is above. DON’T LAUGH.

Typical me Coffee down my clothes.

I got lazy with my home pumpkin. But I think she turned out nicely!

To be honest… I’ve gotten pretty lazy in general. So have the animals….

My friends from Chicago came down for a visit and stayed at the Plains Historic Inn! I had such a great time meeting all of their friends and having some excellent girl talk and time!

I also was busy raising awareness about the risk factors and detection of breast cancer. I decorated the Americus Visitor Center and even created an honor wall.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month and Halloween, it was a little tricky trying to celebrate both in one space.

We ended up doing a really cool pumpkin display with our partners. AND….

We won first place for the city!!!

Shopping for this magical holiday is always so much fun! Haley, Qaijuan and I did the best we could! Want to see our costumes for the week?

Here I am as the proprieter of the Sanderson Sister’s B&B. Yes, that is the blake flame candle I am holding.

Mickey & Minnie enjoyed seeing each other!

I was the bad girl tourist here.

We had a Disney themed day.

Guess who?

Pumpkin Queen!

As you can tell, we had a lot of fun. But it was also a LOT of work.

Speaking of work.. I designed some new items, ordered them and now they are for sell. Again- BUSY!

Somehow through all of this, I have maintained my KETO/Low Carb way of living.

Finally, we wrapped the month up with a Halloween party for the immediate family. We called it a NIGHT TO DISMEMBER.

How did your October shape up?