Biltmore House 2017

Biltmore House Rental

We went on a trip this spring weekend to Asheville, North Carolina.  We toured the Biltmore House and also enjoyed hanging out in our rental house. Although our rental wasn’t quite as big as the Biltmore it was more than adequate for the 7 of us.     April 2017

We were perched on the side of a mountain with a barfy two mile winding road to get there.  We slowed to a snail’s pace and everyone arrived intact.   Four bedrooms, fire pit outside, stone fireplace inside, open floorplan, hot tub, gourmet kitchen….the list goes on and on.  And don’t forget the view!  Fabulous house!!!!

We spent one day in the city of Asheville.  It has changed a bit since my last visit.  It is a lot more bustling and touristy. Also since my last visit, it appears to be okay to turn your children into panhandlers or should I say street performers.  We saw quite a few. Although they were entertaining, I think Saturdays are best left for childhood fun and frolic not for funding your college or paying the cable bill for your parents.  You will have plenty of time to work as an adult, believe me.

However with that said, the rule in Asheville is plainly posted and we will adhere to the laws of the town.

One restaurant we went to was The Tupelo Honey Cafe. There is also one in Atlanta if we need another delicious fix.

Gina ordered a chicken biscuit with gravy and ham on top.

We went for dessert to the nearby chocolate shop – The Chocolate Fetish.  We arrived on  April Fool’s Day and the trick of the day for them was serving what looked like chocolate covered cherries (see in the case bottom left) but actually they were dipped cocktail onions.  It was a funny prank and the innocent victim received a regular chocolate medallion for being a good sport.

We hit a few other stores and then back to the house for games and an in-house dinner.

One game we played was Yahtzee.

Now, wouldn’t you think that if you rolled TWO Yahtzees in a game you would be assured to be the winner.  Terri did that and was sitting pretty for a while. But not today! Gina the Golden Girl rolled an unprecedented THREE Yahtzees in one game.  She also won twice at LCR .  If it hadn’t been such a long barfy ride down the mountain, we would have made her go buy some lottery tickets and rub some of her luck onto them.

The Biltmore dazzled as always, even in the rain.

We took a group photo before the docent ushered us off the steps.  Smile pretty.  You only have one chance to make it look good.

It was hot and crowded but we enjoyed the sights of a life vastly different from our own.

One of my favorite spots at the Biltmore is the view from the balcony.  We couldn’t go out there today but you could still enjoy it from the doorway.

We loved the indoor garden/sunroom, too.

After the tour we ate at Cedric’s Tavern near the Winery.  This restaurant is named after the Vanderbilt’s pet Saint Bernard, Cedric, so you can imagine how shocked I was to see a photo of Chupa on their wall.

Their delicious meals were served with their namesake sweet dill pickles.  This one is about to leap out of the jar and land on my plate. The man behind Terri looks like he wants to join the group with his red shirt.

Next it was wine tasting and souvenir shopping. Then we headed back to the cabin for our last night of fun.

So long from Asheville!  Until we meet again!

Recipes from the Trip:

Blueberry Pound Cake

2 tablespoons butter

sugar for coating bundt pan

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

additional 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use the two tablespoons butter to grease a Bundt pan.  Sprinkle with sugar.  In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.   In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the vanilla.  Slowly blend in the flour mixture.  Use the remaining 1/4 cup flour to coat the blueberries.  Fold blueberries into the batter.  Spoon batter into greased Bundt pan.  Bake for 70-80 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then turn out cake from pan.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Best Chicken Stew

Cheesecake Factory December 2016

We had our annual ornament exchange and dinner this year at The Cheesecake Factory at Cumberland Mall.  Nancy S. got to try out her new van.  Our reservation at the Cheesecake factory allowed us to get seated right away and begin our much needed and enjoyed conversation around the table catching up with everyone. (December 2016)

The best part of the Cheesecake Factory is…well…the cheesecake.  I ordered the Christmas Red Velvet Cheesecake.  It never disappoints.

That afternoon we went to the Escape Room and tried to break out of our locked room with the clues provided within.  We were not successful within the hour time limit.  It was a challenge!

Later that evening we went to J. Alexanders for another delicious meal.

Finally, we went back to our hotel suite and enjoyed opening gifts.

We departed the next morning eagerly anticipating our upcoming trip to Asheville in April.

Canoe 2016

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Canoe in Vinings on January 30, 2016.  We wanted to get together…well,because….we just wanted to.  The food there is always fantastic and the service is impeccable.  Gina gave us a silver pan charm to commemorate the occasion.z1

Disney World 2016

The Birds were Florida bound in February, 2016.  Destination — Disney!

On the road in the FloMobile bedecked with lighted birdies.


Terri takes her driving responsibilities seriously. Don’t mess with her tunes.


Anyone for some pre-Florida souvenirs? Gotta love truck stops.


We eventually found our way here.


With only one detour here.  Did you say this was a sanctioned stop?  Where’s the charm?

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Meanwhile, Kim and Cindy already got the party started.


One down.  A few more to follow.


Our condo was spacious and had a great location.

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Time for Magic Bags before hitting the park in the morning.

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We got two shirts, a charm, a Minnie cup, a bird ornament, and some other goodies.

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We enjoyed gorgeous weather for the entire stay.


We have talked about this trip for quite a few years so it was exciting to finally be here.


There was an extra crane on the castle.  Disney is always doing a little work.


We had a great time in Buzz Lightyear.


Janet was the big winner in spite of our competitive efforts.

Selfies give me a giant head.  My arms are too short. Next time someone else can hold the camera.


Cindy is pretty much in every photo.


This one, too.


We enjoyed It’s a Small World.  Anyone still humming that song?


And we had a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean.


We took a leisurely train ride.


And the wimpy birds went to see a show while the wild birds rode Space Mountain.


We left Magic Kingdom and went to dinner at Friday’s.  Looking forward to another day in the parks tomorrow.


Epcot 2016

Spiffy new shirts for today as we head to Epcot.    Put your leg down Janet!

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Get ready, Epcot!  The birds are flying in!  February 2016

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Here’s another one because we just don’t all fit in one frame.


Terri found a fast pass entrance lane and beat us all inside.



Cheers!  Time to sample the lagoon water and by that I don’t mean lagoon water!

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The annual garden show was beginning the following week but we got to see many beautiful displays.Epcot13

Epcot17This was not the only troll in Norway…


Some other bird-trolls decided to play a trick on poor innocent laryngitis-stricken Julie (that would be me) and asked “Ron” to come and tell me to stop waving my arms so much.  I had been gesturing because I couldn’t talk.  I, of course, fell for it completely and then I slowly caught on that it was a joke… to the amusement of pretty much everyone.  But the joke didn’t stop there.  The troll-birds would jump ahead of me and alert other workers to my plight and several others asked me to stop waving.  All in all, a great prank!


Laryngitis wannabees…


Sorry girls.  You don’t have my technique and flair!


Interestingly, many people asked us what Eating Cardinals meant.  Hard to explain but we did assure them that we didn’t eat cardinals (yes, someone asked that.)


Moving on to Canada.  We have some spare parts in this photo.



We enjoyed the Pixar 3D Short Film Festival. Some birds got reprimanded for lolling about on the floor.  Since I had already been scolded by Ron, I wasn’t taking any chances.  We made it off the floor and into the theater.


Our evening meal was in Akershus Castle in Norway. It was a princess dinner.


8 Princesses!


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We dashed out to the sunset leaving our glass slippers behind just in case Prince Charming has caught on that there are many princesses inside these fairy tale walls.


And we ended the day with the traditional Disney fireworks display.


Another great trip with the Eating Cardinals.

Cheesecake Factory 2015

We enjoyed our Christmas Brunch at the Cheesecake Factory at Cumberland Mall.DSCF4676 DSCF4678 DSCF4680 DSCF4681 DSCF4684 DSCF4685 DSCF4686 DSCF4688 DSCF4689

Terri’s ornament was first out of the box.


But it was soon stolen by Cindy. So Janet opened again.




Bird Thief.


Both Julie and Terri opened new gifts.


Kim stole from Cindy.  No more steals for that ornament.



Cindy opened gift number 2.  But then Janet stole that after Nancy S. Stole her bird house ornament.



Gina closed us out by keeping a wonderful pair of birds from Nancy P.



Blue Ridge Spa Weekend 2015

Another fabulous trip with the Birds!  Kim organized a trip to Serenity in the Mountains Spa.  Recipes to come.  Photos for now.

Fiesta night with make your own dang quesadilla bar.

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Terri’s Charm School now accepting applications.



Magic Baskets from Kim and Gina.




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Our favorite game Left, Right, Center.  We had another round of cash and white elephants.


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Pecan Crusted Quiche by Gina and Southern Living.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
½ cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup minced onion
3 drops of hot sauce
¼ cup pecan halves

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Add oil; stir well. Firmly press mixture in bottom and up sides of a 9-nch deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Combine sour cream and next 3 ingredients; sir with a wire whisk until smooth. Stir in chicken, ½ cup cheese, onion, and hot sauce. Pour chicken mixture over prepared crust. Arrange pecan halves over chicken mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings


Hash Brown Casserole by Gina.


The moose it toting some fruit while munching on the quiche.


Whoa buddy, you’re dropping a berry!


Without Julie.


Without Gina.


Departure group photo.  Till next time, ladies!



Sun Dried Tomato Dip for Vegetables – Huller House Part 1


Sun Dried Tomato Dip

3  ounces chevre (goat cheese)

3 ounces light cream cheese/yogurt mix (I use Kroger brand)

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh herbs (dill, cilantro, tarragon, oregano and/or basil)

2 tablespoons cooked, crumbled bacon

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, drained if in oil

Soften the goat cheese and cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds.Place all ingredients in a food processor and chop until well blended.  Serve with crusty bread, crackers, sandwiches, wraps, or vegetables. Can also be used to flavor omelettes, potatoes, chicken, or other savory dishes.

Served by Gina at Terri’s Lake House February 2015


We gathered at the Huller House on Lake Jackson on a beautiful and unseasonably warm weekend in February to “Teach a Cardinal”.

We started with appetizers from Gina and Julie and lit our Friendship Circle candle. Or as Joanna likes to call it, The Ring of Sloths.


Then we took a quick trip to  Factory Shoals. The light was fading but the fun was just getting started.



We made our own Circle of Sloths.



Just to be sure we were totally bonded, we made it again.


Heading back for dinner and more friends to add to the circle.






Lasagna Soup – Huller House Part 2



Lasagna Soup

yield: 8 SERVINGS


for the soup:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
  • 3 c. chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the cheesy yum:

  • 8 oz. ricotta
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
additional cheesy yum for topping soup:
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Served by  Gina at Huller House February 2015


For a fabulous soup supper Gina served lasagna soup and chicken and rice soup.  Both excellent fare.  We started off the Magic Bags with monogrammed aprons.






Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup – Huller House Part 3


Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

6 cups chicken broth

2 chicken breast halves (cooked, boneless and cubed)

1   6-ounce package long grain and wild rice blend, quick cooking version (You will use the seasoning packet.  I used Uncle Ben’s roasted chicken flavor)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup butter

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced onion

3 cups light cream

Open rice, pull out seasoning packet and set aside.  In a small bowl combine pepper and flour, set aside.In a large pot bring broth and chicken to a boil.  Add rice, cover pot and remove from heat. In a medium sauce pan add butter, carrots, celery, and onions.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in contents of seasoning packet and continue cooking until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes more.  Add seasoned flour mixture to butter mixture.  Stir to form a roux (paste). Saute roux for 3-5 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Whisk in cream a little a time until fully incorporated.  Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir creamed mixture into broth and rice.  Cook until heated through and  rice is done, about 15-20 minutes.

Served by Gina at the Huller House on February 2015.

With our new Magic Bag aprons on, we tackled our first Teach a Cardinal activity.  Gina showed us how to make birdseed hearts.  Add warm water to unflavored gelatin.  Mix in birdseed and mold in silicon heart mold.  Add straws so you can pull a string through when dry..  Very easy and appreciated by our feathered namesake.