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And Just Like That, It's November

The ghosts and the goblins of 2019 are a thing of the past and as I wake extremely early this morning, thanks in part to the official diagnosis of bronchitis, Christmas music will greet me when I turn on the radio. On November 1, this particular radio station begins playing Christmas music 24/7 until December 26...kind of like the Hallmark channel. And speaking of Hallmark, I can now watch my weekly if not daily favorite Christmas movies (on DVD) without someone yelling, "it's too early!". What are your favorites? I'm sure I've written about mine, but just in case...they would be: The Family Stone (because it shows how siblings can still act like they're 14 when in fact they're in their 30s!), ELF (!!!), A Christmas Story (it gives me the little kid's just like it was when I was little!)

Well, like I said, I'm up early drinking my some warm vanilla chai welcoming in November. October flew by! I loved getting outside taking pictures of all the colors changing and feeling the air take on the chill. Oh, but nothing felt colder than last night when all the little trick or treaters were faced with rain. Fortunately the rain ended mid-day, but it brought in the coldest wind. I had one little "cheetah" show up at my door with her little cheeks so pink from the cold. She couldn't even smile, poor girl. I asked her if she wanted a packet of hot chocolate to take home and I will say, it did make her smile a little. Oh, and I have to tell you about my one visitor. He just cracked me up. So every year, I don't know why, I just like to do it and have been doing it for years, I like to bake cupcakes and put them in little treat bags along with candy, stickers, coupons to restaurants, or whatever I can get my hands on that's cheap. I like something out of the ordinary candy. I mean, who doesn't!?! You pour all the candy out of your pillowcase onto the table when you get home and your eye is INSTANTLY drawn to the one thing that isn't candy...for my husband, that would be money 😂 Kids however, love the "surprise"...what's in the bag???

Those bags there on the right have cupcakes in them, along with hot chocolate packets and candy. As the night started, I had four young guys ranging in ages of 8-12 come ringing. The parents or chaperones were standing in the driveway so in my nice raspy voice (because that's not evil sounding lol🤦🏻‍♀️) I was partially yelling how there are homemade cupcakes in the bag and didn't want them to think I poisoned their kid or laced them with razor blades! I then looked at the boys and said, "I even threw in some hot chocolate for you when you get home!". Without missing a beat, one little guy very politely asks me, "is the hot chocolate in a cup?"... um, huh?...I had to literally sit there for a second because I was totally confused. But I quickly recalled that we are in an age of "bougie" Starbucks and these kids are exposed to this daily. I giggled inside because it was truly a harmless question, but a major wake up call for me! It's 2019, not 1982! What I really wanted to say was, "Look Mr. Bougie, it's not Starbucks, it's Swiss Miss! Say it with me....SWISS MISSSSSS, now give me my cupcake back!" But I just laughed because this is the generation now! Then of course there's Bill who refuses to answer the door except when I really need his help or want him to see a cute costume. Of course the ONE time he helped me out, one little girl (in a family of 6 kids) took candy AND chips...😳 lol, and he just HAD to be there to see it! Mr. Stingy cracks me up! I told him to let it go, it's survival of the fittest at that house and she probably needed it! I'm not going to lie, if someone offered me two bowls, I'd be the first to ask if I can have each!😂 And I'm not fighting 5 siblings! Crazy thing, too, we ALWAYS have leftovers and being the good wife, I put his favorite candies at the bottom of the bowl!😉

But, he's completely deserving of all his favorite candies! He did take me on a weekend getaway to Asheville, N.C. to visit the Biltmore Estate last weekend!!! And it was spectacular. I felt like I'm one of the only ones that had never been (Bill hadn't been either) so if you've been, I apologize if this bores you! I'm not going to go into detail because of its megnatude, but it was just an absolutely awesome getaway brewed in cloudy weather perfect for outdoor picture taking.

And to give you an idea of what we were in for, we stopped at McDonald's for what I thought would be a quick breakfast, but left me in awe! Friends, this was the Taj MaHal of McDonalds! If they were all like this, I may even consider a Friday or Saturday night at McDonalds a treat!

Look in the right hand top corner...they had a player piano going!!

Sad when McDonalds has a nicer railing/banister than your own home!😂

After breakfast, we then drove up the entrance to the Biltmore and it's like driving through a National Forest...breathtaking...

And there it a past life...

The house itself, built by a true visionary that America really needs to be thankful for, was one I felt completely fit to live in! On the drive home (took us about 5.5 hours to drive) we even changed our last name and prefixed it with "Vander"!

Once we arrived and it was time to go for the tour, I already KNEW what room was going to be my favorite. You can see it from the outside in the front, but I couldn't wait to see it inside. As Bill will attest and has been hearing for quite some time now, I would GIVE MY SUSAN BRANCH COLLECTION AWAY for a conservatory! It's the only thing I want even over second floor carpet I've been waiting 3 years for! And look at the one in this heart is melting...

I'm not big on tropical plants, but the fountain...and the lights....and they started decorating for Christmas!!! This is where I would have breakfast every morning, lunch, name it! Can't you just see me there? I can! And like I said, they started putting up Christmas decorations! I'm actually surprised they hadn't started in August due to its size, but with the amount of people working there, I'm sure they have the system down to an art form.

Oh and I love this mantel just dripping with greenery!!!

But the chandelier with the beautiful staircase fit for ANY BRIDE to dream of their decent to be greeted by their father at the still my heart...❤️

Can you just imagine?...

And wouldn't you know it, starting this month, the Biltmore will be hosting the Downton Abbey collection. I had already booked our getaway and I didn't know Downton would be there. It's okay though. I really wanted the trip to be about the Biltmore this time, but it really is fitting for Downton to have an exhibition at the gorgeous country estate.

Outside, workers were also getting the front lawn ready for Christmas. I didn't know, but every year they literally grow the entire front lawn with grass, then in October they "tear" up a section to plant live trees in front of the fountain for Christmas. After Christmas they remove all the trees and grow grass again!

In this picture, the center tree hasn't dropped yet, but I can't wait to see pictures of it online when it's all decorated. It's massive!

And these taller than life sconces are what greet you at the front door, along with some gargoyles!

The home is amazing to say the least, but Bill and I love countrysides. Being outside in the open air and taking in the beauty of nature is all we would love to surround ourselves with. Looking at the house in the picture above, (2 pictures above) to the left & covered by a tree here, is the veranda with twinkling lights hanging and intwined in wisteria I believe, and again, stunning. But, the room that brought us both to our knees is known as the loggia. It's not a "room" inside the house, it's what we folk would call a nice wide balcony of such. This is wear you would undoubtedly find us (if I'm not in the conservatory). When you walk out this is what you see...

Comfortable seating awaits you under those windows on the left and stone pillars open up to this view. Completely indescribable. Nature as far as the eye can see. George Vanderbilt did it right folks.

You can't see the lakes below, they are surrounded by so many trees, but the first picture I showed you above, taken at the lake of the Biltmore was actually the back of the Biltmore which is where Bill is standing in this picture and where the loggia is located.

So dreamy....and so is this guy!😉

Well, I think I'll stop there with our incredible getaway. I hope you understand why I enjoy these autumn road trips. Normally driving the highway is pretty uneventful, but in October, even interstate 75 can be beautiful!

Happy November everyone! I'm pretty sure the skies above are indicative of the holiday season to follow!!

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