From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


Quick Trip to Chattanooga

Last week another opportunity came up to take a really fast trip with DH.  He had a small job to do in Chattanooga, driving over one day and back the next.  It was too good to pass up, so again I packed a bag and tagged along.  We drove over in the morning, and there is nothing like going over the high pass on I-40 in the morning light.  The mountains are just gorgeous green now!  There was a bit of overcast sky part of the way, but no rain.

Hwy I40 - 11

Hwy I40 - 16

Very little traffic for a good part of the way made for a relaxing drive.

Hwy I40 - 17

Arriving in Chattanooga just after lunchtime, I dropped him off, and went shopping all afternoon.  I started at an enormous bookstore called McKays.  You have to see it to believe it.

McKays Books Chattanooga 1

Reading and video are on the ground floor, audio cds and vinyl are on the second floor balcony that ran all the way around the building.

McKays Books Chattanooga 2

This is the hardback fiction aisle, it keep me occupied quite a while.  Then the cookbook aisle was calling.  I know I was there at least 2 hours!

McKays Books Chattanooga 5

The result of my browsing was a small haul, with an author signed, first American edition, hardback copy of the Jeffrey Archer book I was missing for just $7. All the other books ranged in price from 50 cents to $1.50. Yep, that little!  The cookbooks , Best of the Best, were just 50 cents each.  I plan to attempt making paper soon, and found a book on that subject as well. The other books have been on my hunt list for a long time, over 2 years for On Rue Tatin!  Finding treasure is exciting, but finding it at $1 was a special thrill.

McKays Books Chattanooga 7

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the thrift stores, but that wasn’t a fruitful venture.   The one I spent some time looking for was closed on the weekday that I was there.  Several more thrifts were visited but nothing spoke to me.  Back at the hotel, I asked the nice, and very helpful young man named Rhett at the front desk for a recommendation for dinner.  We were directed to Mount Vernon, a Chattanooga institution since 1955.  As luck would have it, it was only about 10 minutes away.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 9

Rhett had given us a coupon for a free appetizer of fried green tomatoes that came with a horseradish sauce.  Yum!!

Mount Vernon Restaurant 1

DH and I both had fish, mine was salmon with a lovely garlic and parsley butter.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 2

He had grilled haddock, and we both got the squash casserole.  I’ve been working on a squash casserole recipe at home, and I’ll be posting that soon.  I want to make it one more time to be sure I have it the way I want it.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 3

I liked the ambiance of the place, so inviting with low lamps and nice decorations in the lobby.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 7

So many times, older restaurants like this get stagnant and stale, but not this one.  The music was low, modern jazz.  It looked like it had been updated with soft colors in yellow and blue with off white trim, warm and elegant but not dated.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 6

Service was outstanding.  The menu was fresh and on trend with locally sourced food as much as possible.

Mount Vernon Restaurant 5

The next morning, while DH was working again, I drove up to Lookout Mountain and was surprised to learn that there are no lookouts. I am spoiled by the Blue Ridge Parkway with its many overlooks and free parking areas to take pictures of our magnificent views. But, the only way I found to get even an idea of the view was to park at a meter regulated space, and try to get a picture across a private garden of the valley beyond.

Lookout Mountain 2

It looked like a lovely space, but it was posted as private, and surrounded by fencing, with the entrances gated and locked.

Lookout Mountain 3

There are a few attractions to see, but they were really pricey and didn’t have views. I thought the underground caverns would be fun, along with seeing a very high waterfall that was in the caverns, but I wanted to do that with DH, not by myself. So, I went down to the Riverwalk.

Tennessee Riverwalk 5

It is a beautiful area, clean and nice for a long walk on the Tennessee River.

Tennessee Riverwalk 2

Heading back toward the area where I had parked, I spotted a blue heron on the walk.

Tennessee Riverwalk 6

Amazingly, he wasn’t afraid of me at all.

Tennessee Riverwalk 8

I asked him what his thoughts were this fine morning, but he didn’t care to share them.

Tennessee Riverwalk 9

Walking a bit further the other direction, there are bridges for cars and pedestrians, along with the lovely shoreline scenery.

Tennessee Riverwalk 11

I also visited a really wonderful quilt shop, I’ll show you that with the next Be My Neighbor block.  Picking up DH, we decided to have lunch before beginning the drive back home, spending barely a day in Chattanooga.  I am certain we need to go back again, there was a lot to do, and I want another meal at Mount Vernon.  On the way home, we stopped in Knoxville at the other McKays Used Bookstore, and yes I found a few more books, just as inexpensively too.  This was a really fast trip, but enjoyable with a nice bit of time to just talk while in the car.  I left my laptop at home, and just enjoyed the scenery and the time with my dear husband.

Have you made any quick trips like this?



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Blue Ridge Drive

DH and I will be leading a drive for the car club in a couple of weeks, so we needed to drive the route ahead of time to be sure it is still a good route.  Roads have a way of closing when you aren’t prepared from winter rock slides.  So, we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed north towards the Black Mountains.  I think there is beauty in the architecture of the bare tree limbs, especially with a clear blue sky behind.

Black Mountains snow 4

My new camera takes great shots on the move. In the distance, you can see a part of the Black Mountain range covered with snow at the top. Can you see the white in the picture below? That is snow, not clouds.

Black Mountains snow 3

Along the parkway, snow is still clinging to the ground.

Black Mountains snow 9

We turned off the parkway before we could get closer, but I managed one last photo of the distant mountain snow.

Black Mountains snow 2

Arriving home, the garden is starting to emerge. The irises are starting to poke up in their new bed.

Iris Feb 2016 - 1

The tulips are starting to come up too.

Tulips Feb 2016 - 2

A surprise in the hosta bed, my little clump of crocus have come up.  They’ll open up in a day or two.

Crocus March 2016

One little squash plant remains in my seed starting pots. The others withered and I don’t know why.

Garden Feb 21 - 3

The herbs are doing good though!

Garden Feb 21 - 2

Garden Feb 21 - 1

The amaryllis is almost two feet tall! It is going to bloom for the third year, and I am thrilled. This was the plant a week ago.

Amaryllis Feb 20 - 2

Now the flower bud is beginning to open.

Amaryllis 2-27-16

I adore white flowers, and I couldn’t resist this hyacinth. Of course, the bulb vase was a nice extra.

Hyacinth 1

My farmer’s almanac says that March is a good time to plant root crops and leafy vegetables on the 23-27th.  Maybe I’ll try to grow some more lettuce this year, and perhaps some carrots.  I just hope the bears stay out of them.

What are you planning for your garden this year?


Car Club Drive and Mary Alice’s Garden

Saturday was another perfect day to get together with friends and drive these beautiful mountain roads.  We gathered in the parking lot at the new Asheville Outlets.

BCC June 2015 Drive - 1


Driving into old Asheville, we encountered tree lined streets with arbor-like avenues.
BCC June 2015 Drive - 3

BCC June 2015 Drive - 4

Going up one of the mountains to the east, we stopped to see a beautiful view of downtown Asheville in the French Broad River valley, with the Pisgah mountain range in the background.


We ended up at a club member’s home for a lunch of sandwiches and chips with fabulous homemade desserts.

BCC June 2015 Drive - 7



Mary Alice is a certified Master Gardener, and I thought you ‘d enjoy seeing her garden.

Mary Alice's Garden - 12

Mary Alice's Garden - 11

Mary Alice's Garden - 10

Her patio and gazebo are also dotted with potted plants and lots of flowers.

Mary Alice's Garden - 8

Mary Alice's Garden - 7

Someday, I am hoping my veranda looks this good!

Mary Alice's Garden - 6

Flowers spill out of containers all over the place.

Mary Alice's Garden - 5

Mary Alice's Garden - 4

Terry apparently has too much time on his hands, and built this two level treehouse for the grandkids.  For scale, the table and chairs are real adult size (not miniatures).  I took the picture from some distance away. The treehouse is huge, and yes, those are real branches coming out of the side.  It is about 12 feet up to the first level.


It features old stained glass windows, and lots of handcrafted woodwork.

Treehouse 4

Treehouse 3

They also have a gravity flow fountain in their creek.

Ramsay's Fountain

Gorgeous property. I want one of these greenhouses.  Don’t you love those old stained glass windows she has hung in her greenhouse?

Mary Alice's Garden - 2

And her hydrangeas are blooming! Mine are not.

Mary Alice's Garden - Hydrangea

Such a pretty garden, and it takes her a couple of hours a week to keep the weeds out!

Mary Alice's Garden - 1

Did you do something fun this weekend?


Late April Sunday Drive

We woke up Sunday to a lovely view across the valley just after dawn.  Fog in the valley shows the layers of hills and mountains so much better than a clear view.

April Dawn 2015 -2

Gradually the fog burned away, and we decided to go for a nice little drive with friends in our little British cars.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 2

We drove a route around the countryside past beautiful mountains and lovely pastures.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 3

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 5

There were shades of green everywhere as the trees and meadows come to life again.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 4

We went by an apple orchard, but the blooms were already done.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 12

Horses saw us coming and strolled from their barn toward the road. I love those old barns.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 13

The clouds were a bit threatening, so we headed for a favorite local restaurant for lunch.

Sunday Drive April 2015 - 16

Arriving back home, the azaleas are in full swing!

Azaleas late April 2015 - 1

The light pink azalea that was just buds a week ago is now beautiful.

Azaleas late April 2015 - 3

The island is in full bloom, three white azaleas, and more pinks.

Azaleas late April 2015 - 7

Azaleas late April 2015 - 11

I need just a couple more to fill in that last spot. I planted gladiolas there but they didn’t bloom. Up at the house, the iris blooms have started.

Iris 2 2015

I actually took these before the drive, while the dew was still on the flowers.

Iris 2015

Two blooms and a couple more buds. I plan to dig these up this year and divide them as they aren’t blooming like they used to.

Iris 3 2015

I am so ready to dig in the dirt.  I’ll be picking up my torenias the first of May, and those will go into the hanging baskets.  I have some lettuce and pansies, and I’ll show you those when I get them potted up.  My little bakery box greenhouses are still doing well and the tomatoes are coming along too.

How is your garden doing?


Clouds Over the Mountains

Sometimes it is really amazing how the view from our home changes.  I was sitting on the veranda, just enjoying the cooler air when I noticed how beautiful the clouds were over the mountains across the valley.  The sun was setting, rain had ended a short time before and the light was fantastic.  So, I ran inside to grab the camera and got this shot.


It was only a few minutes later that the clouds changed enough, so I thought I’d take a second picture.


The clouds were moving quickly and the shapes were changing.  I kept taking pictures.


As the sun went down, the color of the clouds became more pink and apricot.  Lovely!  This camera has a hard time with light behind the trees, but I was able to get a hint of the beauty of this evening even though the trees are now just shadows on the camera.  In real life you could still see the green of the trees.


Then this one.  Stunning.


As the sun set, the trees are in total shadow, and the color in the sky continued, turning purple.


The colors are coming out in the trees too.  These maple trees are nearer to the town, and are coming into a brilliant red.


I’ll have more as the autumn color progresses.  Enjoy the views!