Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving in a Garden

This year I am thankful that our friends invited us to join them for a Thanksgiving feast at Longwood Gardens.

We dined in the conservatory ballroom.

It was nothing short of magical.  So old and beautiful.  I kept thinking of all of the life stories and past experiences that must have occurred in this breath taking room. Even if the food had been terrible, the atmosphere was worth the price of admission. Of course the food was not terrible in the least.  It was quite tasty.

There was a whole table devoted to soup.

The buffet had all of the traditional Thanksgiving fare.  The turkey was delicious, especially with the quince cranberry sauce.

I'm not one for sweet potatoes with all of the marshmallows and such. Usually they are either too sweet or there is too much cinnamon, but the sweet potatoes at the buffet were amazing.  I could have eaten a whole plate of them.  The only disappointment was the mashed potatoes, but, not to brag, I make some mean goat cheese mashed potatoes, so I thought the buffet potatoes were just okay.

There was a whole table, beautifully decorated, covered with desserts.

They put a fancy twist on pumpkin pie.

The company during the meal wasn't bad either.

One of the best parts about having Thanksgiving at Longwood Gardens, other than dining is a gorgeous ballroom, is to be the first to see the holiday garden displays. After all of that food we were up for some walking.

One year, we went to the gardens during a Saturday in December.  It was so crowded we were walking shoulder to shoulder with people through the conservatory.  On Thanksgiving most of the people were other buffet diners so the crowd was pleasantly light.

Of course we had to make a visit to the newly crowned #1 Bathroom in America. It definitely deserves the title.

The garden, both indoors and out, was aplenty with resplendent Christmas trees.

The youngest member of our group seemed to have a good time.  She made a friend.

Enjoyed the dollhouse dining room as much as I did,

and was delighted to watch Thomas whirl around the train tracks that were made extra festive do to the recent snowfall.

Our dinner was early in the afternoon so we had to do a bit of walking around while we waited for the sky to grow dark.  Finally it was dark enough and the garden was aglow.

We stopped by to watch the fountains perform their dance,

then with our fingers, toes, and noses sufficiently frosted, we ended the night with a cup of hot chocolate,

or in the case of one of our party, just a few mini marshmallows.

If we could have, we would have secured our reservation for next Thanksgiving. Although I can't vividly remember every Thanksgiving I have ever experienced, I have to say that this year ranked up there as one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had. The company was lovely, the food yummy, and the atmosphere spectacular.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, I'm okay that you're early

I love Christmas time.  

The problem however that I often encounter, is time management. With so many things to do, see, and make, it can become overwhelming trying to cram everything in to three and a half weeks and/or lamenting about all of the things I didn't get to do again this year because I just ran out of time.  

I know a lot of people are quite strict about and grumble over Christmas stuff being out before Thanksgiving, but I have finally waved the white flag of surrender and have embraced the advantage of adding in a couple of extra weeks of Christmas fun pre-Thanksgiving (still Christmas at Halloween I will agree is way too early).

On Saturday we went to Atlantic City to see Interstellar in IMAX after which we discussed wormholes (Scott impressed us with his wormhole knowledge) while eating food dipped in melty cheese and chocolate at The Melting Pot.

We couldn't remember ever visiting Atlantic City during the holiday season. The Tropicana looked nice decked out in its holiday finest even without the decorating being completely finished.

While we were walking on the Boardwalk we happened upon Boardwalk Hall’s Holiday Light Show.  It was interesting with clubby dancing music and a dreamy futuristic take on Christmas and the New Year. 

If you are in AC already it’s worth checking out, but not spectacular enough to plan a trip specifically to see it.

On Sunday we decided to take a pilgrimage to Kindy’s. 

Kindy’s is a giant Christmas warehouse in Philadelphia where, according to them, they “stack em’ deep and sell em’ cheap.” 

It’s pretty much what would happen if The Christmas Tree Shop and The Berlin Mart had a baby.  

It was fun, 

but just a little creepy.  

This seemed to be a place for hardcore Christmas decorators. The type of decorators that would make Aunt Bethany question if their house was on fire.  Our mission was to find new lights for our tree.  After ten Christmases we wanted something different.

I prefer strands of solid colors, especially white, while Shannon likes the muti-colored lights . We saw the perfect compromise at Kindy’s, lights that cycle between white and multi-color. Kindy’s was of course all out of the lights we fell in love with.  Sigh.

Have you wondered, I know I have, about where all of the animatronics from the G-Boys Christmas displays went?  Well ask no further because they are at Kindy’s.  

Seeing this made the trip worth it for me. When I was a kid it wasn’t Christmas until I saw an animatronic polar bear.  

I was so excited walking through the displays. 

There were kids walking around and even with all of their gadgets and gizmos aplenty, they seemed just as delighted as I was at an animatronic monkey driving a tractor.

My favorite display was the fanboy/fangirl mash up of Batman working with the Ninja Turtles to spread some holiday cheer in Gotham.  


Kindy’s also had a little miniature town display 

and Santa was there if you wanted to get a photo.


It was fun, but like the AC Boardwalk light show, if you are already in the area stop by Kindy’s, but don’t go out of your way to go there unless you really love animatronic clowns.

I'm sure this is directly from one of my nightmares

Feeling sad about not being able to take home sweet color changing Christmas lights, we decided to drown our sorrows in pasta and meatballs at Villa di Roma. 

It’s the kind of place that reminds me of what it’s like to have dinner at an Italian Grandmother’s house.  We even witnessed one of the servers walking and rocking a customer’s baby around the dining room so the baby’s mother could enjoy her meal hands free.

Before heading home we took a brief walk around the Italian Market. Some people already started decking their places of business out in holiday splendor. 

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving, but I was happy that we were able to sneak in a little Christmas fun a week early.