Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chinqua-Penn Plantation

Chinqua-Penn Plantation has been on our list of places to visit for a while. So
when Living Social e-mailed with a deal for tour, plus wine tasting, I ordered
it immediately. And I'm so glad I did. It was a beautiful day for a visit today!
 Chinqua-Penn Plantation began in 1925 as the home of Thomas Jefferson "Jeff"
Penn and his wife, Beatrice Schoellkopf Penn. Beatrice, or Betsy as she was known
was Mr. Penn's second wife. His first wife, Genevieve Schoellkopf Vom Berge was
Betsy's first cousin. Genevieve and Mr. Penn had two sons, but neither lived past
childhood. Then in 1919, Genevieve died giving birth to a daughter, who also died
Mr. Penn was a salesperson for the family tobacco company. After his father sold Penn
Tobacco, Mr. Penn used his inheritance to purchase several hundred acres of land
here in Rockingham county, North Carolina. He called his land, Corn Jug Farm
and began a dairy business. The black Angus herd that can still be seen on the
adjoining North Carolina State University research farm are descendants of
Jeff's original herd. The name of the plantation, Chinqua-Penn is a bit of a
play on words. It's named for a tree on the property, the Chinquapin, a
dwarf Chestnut. Jeff and Betsy Penn modified the name and born was
the Chinqua-Penn plantation. And, this... This is a Chinquapin tree! 
The house took two years to build and was finished in 1925
 There is no photography allowed inside the house. If you'd like to take an on-line
photo tour, you can at the Plantation's website here. Honestly, the house is in
need of moderate repairs. And, the decoration and furnishings is the strangest
mix we've ever seen. Eclectic-eclectic best describes it. Basically, the Penn's
traveled the world and they either brought back or had copied the things they
saw and liked. I was initially really turned off by the interior but by the end
of the tour it all kinda made sense. But it took a while for me to get there!
Now the kitchen, especially the butler's pantry and all of the bathrooms did not
disappoint. The staircase and most of the tile in the house is also beautiful. However,
to us the best part of the tour, the part we instantly loved is the surrounding gardens!
 Easy to see why there are a lot of weddings held at Chinqua-Penn!
 I especially l-o-v-e-d that chalice-shaped planter on the dance terrace!
 There is lots to love about this garden!
 Again... This planter!
 There is another planter I loved - you can see it hanging in the balcony opening
above the arched picture window, which is the highlight of the entry to the house
 We opted to skip the golf-cart ride back down to the gift shop and walked
 And on our walk we discovered this lovely wishing well in the cutting garden!
 Mrs. Penn enjoyed the house filled with flowers. She said flowers brought life
into the house, which was exactly the type of house she wanted. Mrs. Penn
was fond of pink. There is a semi-double pink geranium with a white center,
named Chinqua Penn Pink that is planted in many locations on the grounds
 I love the cat-tail design on the wishing well... And, I wished for one just like it!
 Any day now...
 Mr. and Mrs. Penn are buried on the property. Actually, Mrs. Penn is buried in
a 900-pound bronze casket next to an urn containing only Mr. Penn's heart. It
was his wish to have his heart buried and his ashes scattered over the plantation
from an airplane. It was Mrs. Penn's wish to have the grave site be kept simple
  You may have already visited Chinqua-Penn Plantation in the movies... It
was used as set for two movies. To see which two movies, read here 
 This row of Lavender along the driveway knocked me out! And, it's exactly why I
asked my personal gardener to fill the bed in front of the solarium with it this year!
 This is an example of the eclectic-eclectic style of the Penn's. It's a pagoda they had
built following a trip to China. It replaced the original pool house, a log building
trellised with wisteria, which I personally would have preferred to see on our visit!
 We were told that the current owners of Chinqua-Penn plantation have no plans to
restore the swimming pool; however, there is work currently underway to repair the
pagoda, which has been deemed unsafe for visitors. Five years ago the plantation
was purchased by Calvin Phelps and his wife Lisa. We were told that while their
4.1 million dollar bid was not the highest bid for purchase, theirs was the only
bid that came with a promise to share the plantation with visitors. Like us!
 We learned that Mr. and Mrs. Phelps were high school sweethearts,
and that they first visited Chinqua-Penn plantation for prom/first date.
So when the plantation became available for purchase, Mr. Phelps, now the
owner of Renegade Tobacco company in Mocksville, NC bought it. Now, how
romantic is that!? We think it's very sweet and we are very grateful to them for
taking responsibility for the preservation and for keeping it open to the public!
We wish Mr. and Mrs. Phelps well, and sincerely hope their recent legal troubles
and seizure of the property and contents by the Feds, (oh, my!) won't prevent
us from visiting Chinqua-Penn again... The way we so enjoy Reynolda house and
Biltmore (here and here
that we're soon off to Biltmore again? Yes! We have tickets to see the Beach Boys
and Eddie Money perform there as part of their summer concert series! Oh, and
let's not forget Orton Plantation. You know, Wiki is still using my photos!
  Despite the uncertainty of our future visits, we're
delighted we could visit Chinqua-Penn today!
 I loved these gates... The owl, the squirrel, and the JB monogram,
for Jeff and Betsy. So romantic. And, they just happen to be my
initials too! Perhaps we should play the lottery on the way home...
At the end of the drive is the staff quarters. This log building is what I imagine the
original pool house must have looked like. Wait! What's that in the window up there? 
Must be a prestigious award!
(Movie line alert... Quick! Name that film)
 The four-story Tuscan clock tower at the entry drive plays Westminster chimes...
 The chimes are currently being restored, so not today! 
 After our tour of Chinqua-Penn Plantation we drove to Greensboro to shop for
new kayaks. Then we had dinner at PF Chang's and ended the evening with a
drive out to a few of the lakes recommended for Kayaking. This is Lake Brandt
And this is Lake Higgins. And both look very doable!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Discover Joy Bauer!

I'm thrilled to share with you that I've partnered with Joy Bauer this summer!

If you're like me... Interested in getting or stay fit, and you believe in the power of information and want on-line tools and support geared toward Healthy, or even Healthier living, then the Joy Bauer family of websites is tailor-made for Both of us!

Become a member to receive information via e-mail, or simply cruise the site on your own. I suggest you check out the FREE Diet Profile and Calorie Counter features, find out how to lose five pounds this week the smart way, and whatever you do, don't miss Joy's Food Cures!

I'm reading Joy's books, Food Cures, and Slim and Scrumptious right now and will be back to report on my findings soon!

In the meantime, hurry over to enter Everyday Health's Low Calorie, High Taste Recipe Contest being hosted on its message board and on Facebook in honor of the new book launch for Everyday Health: My Calorie Counter. This contest is going on now through June 20th, and provides the chance to win a healthy basket of snacks and gift cards worth $150!

Click this photo-link above or Joy's button on my
side-bar to explore the inspired world of Joy Bauer
And, watch for a give-away of Joy's books here, Coming soon!

The Legal Stuff: Joy Bauer sent me a copy of the books referenced in this post. Two sets of these books, (also provided by Joy Bauer) will be given away to lucky Army Mom readers in the near future. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great tasting, low fat and calorie... That's my Kettle Chips!

Great tasting, low calorie and low fat... And, I'm talking about Kettle Chips?! Crazy, I know!! I'm still pinching myself... Because I cannot believe that my all-time favorite snack food, Kettle brand chips has finally gone baked! And, may I say that it does feels a little like they did it just for me! 

I hoped. I even complained, (a lot) and fretted over the fact that I felt forced to cut out Kettle Chips from my snacking-diet since saving my own life beginning the CLEAN program for weight loss almost a year ago. And, while you'll never hear me complain about the fantastic results I've had and continue to experience with CLEAN - I don't mind telling you that my snacking life has certainly suffered. No other snack food I've tried has filled the void left by the Kettle brand kettle chips I so enjoyed crunching. And, let's be honest... Some days, a girl doing all she can to lose weight just has to crunch something besides her abs!

I had almost given up being able to eat my favorite kettle chips again until I came across an ad for, baked Kettle brand kettle chips! I couldn't wait try them - and after I did, I was back to pinching myself because I couldn't believe how great they tasted. Not like those other, baked-not-fried potato chips that make plain rice cakes taste spicy! No, these baked kettle chips maintain all the rich, salty flavor and that Uber-crunchiness I love so much about regular Kettle brand chips, but with 65% less fat and zero Trans fat! And, before you ask, I'll tell you... a serving isn't 4 chips, or even 15 chips! One, 120-calorie serving is a whopping 20 chips. No, really!

I loved the Sea Salt Baked Kettle brand chips so much I wrote Kettle brand asking if they might send some of the flavors I couldn't find locally to review for you.

And, lucky me... Because they did!
So yesterday during our pool-time before dinner, while we were both craving
a light, salty snack, I broke open the case for a little pool-side sample-fest!
The first indicator that Kettle brand Baked kettle chips would fully deliver on taste,
just like their regular-cousins, was the fact that they look exactly like potatoes!
That's because, unlike the other baked chip competitors, which are formed to resemble chips, Kettle brand baked chips actually are slices of real potatoes... We're talking hand selected, whole-sliced, batched-baked potato chips!
So what about our sampling results?

Well, of all the varieties we sampled, and they were all tasty!... The stand-outs for me are Sea Salt and Aged White Cheddar. The Sea Salt has just the perfect touch of salty seasoning on a potato chip so fresh you can practically smell the field it came from. The Aged White Cheddar is simply lip-smacking, sharp, Cheddar-tastic! If you crave authentic cheddar, (not that cheater-cheese dust) flavor in a chip, then Kettle brand baked Aged White Cheddar is for you! Now, if you polled the man I love, you'll hear nothing but ravs for the Hickory Honey Barbeque - he ate the whole bag! And, you know that if I can pull him away from the brand of BBQ chips he's eaten for thirty years with a baked chip, it's saying something. The fact that baked is so much better for him too is just a grand bonus!

Kettle-brand has long been my favorite brand for snack foods. I truly love their nut butters, and they even offer a fantastic line of Organic chips too! Truthfully, there isn't a product Kettle brand makes that I don't love to eat and don't mind going out of my way to buy to serve family and friends at parties. Hey! I'm known for bringing my own snacks to the party, and when it has to be chips, the superior quality of Kettle brand is exactly why!

Next on my list of Kettle brand snacks to try is their Tias
Tias™ are made from organic corn, artisan-quality oils, all natural spices, and promise to deliver dip-loaded tortilla flavor in one bite. All that has me intrigued!

Did you know that Kettle brand has their own chip-of-the-month club? They do! And, you can sign up for yourself or give months of chips as a gift, right here!

Before I let you go to dash out and buy your own case of yummy Baked kettle brand chips, I invite you to also read THIS about the ways Kettle brand is chipping-in to manufacture foods in a planet-friendly, responsible, and sustainable way. From their solar and wind-powered buildings, to their fleet of company vehicles that run on recycled oils made into their own, FlowerPower® biodiesel... Kettle brand is a great brand. I especially appreciate that Kettle brand goes out of their way to help schools and communities through volunteerism and the tons of potatoes they donate to local hunger-relief agencies. Kettle brand is more than great tasting snack food, which is just another reason to support them in a major way. I say.. Let's all Snack good to Do good!

The legal stuff: Kettle Brand sent me the variety case of baked chips you see in my review above. I was not compensated in any other way. Prior to the event of receiving free Kettle brand chips I'd already been a long-time customer and fan of their do-goodery. The reason for sharing this fact now has much to do with letting you know that the best kettle chip is finally baked, which means it fits into my healthy-eating plan. The fact that Kettle brand is a great company that cares about the environment and people less fortunate is also worthy of a shout-out. Don't you agree? 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spain, Sangria and Bing on the deck!

It was stinkin' hot here today! How hot, you say? Well, it was too hot to cruise
the Cooper with the top down, and it was even too hot to shop! So we came back
home, changed into our shorts and t-shirts, retired to the deck with ice-cold
beverages and sat under the umbrellas to chill. With our Bingee, of course!
Speaking of cold beverages... Costco has this Sangria in a box...
And every time we see it, I have to hear the story about the excursion he took to Spain
while he was in the Army, and stationed in Germany. To me, the only interesting part
of the story is the fact that we both happened to have visited the same place in Spain.
Because for many years our family spent a month each summer in the Costa Brava
region of northern Spain, specifically, Barcelona. I loved those family vacations! I
mean, I loved them after I stopped pouting about the fact that I was the only
player on my softball team selected for All-Star's who always had to pass on the
chance to play because, poor me was forced to spend a month tanning on the
beautiful beaches of Spain! Yes, I would like to smack that young-me now! 
However, despite the occasional moments of brattiness, I did know how lucky I was...
So today I broke down and brought home the Sangria! I even chopped up a bunch of red
grapes, strawberries and chunked up some pineapple and sliced up a juicy peach too!
Then I delivered ice-cold Sangria with fresh fruit to him on the deck. But
I stopped short of pouring it down his throat, like the Spanish Senoritas! 
Because this is not Costa Brava... Huh, Bingee?
Bing has gotten really comfortable wearing his harness now...
And, as long as we're outside with him, Bing's pretty happy!
But if we leave his sight, he starts to cry...
So we don't leave his sight much!
Which makes Mr. Bing very happy!
The potted plants on the deck are taking off!
I love all of these plants, but especially the Lamb's ear! 
What was that flying over our heads, Bing? Did you see it? 
Do you see the ducky? Look closely on the lawn and you'll see him...
It's seven-thirty, which means it's Ducky-dinner time!
And, after the ducks finish eating, the squirrels will clean up what's left over!
In nature, it's called Balance!
There's a lot of that going on here this evening!