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Travel

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Alexandria’s Del Ray

del-ray-alexandria-1139del-ray-va-1134Sunnies: Wildfox / Tank: Target (similar) / Choker: ASOS / Jeans: NY&Co. (similar) / Flats: M.Gemi (similar)

This might be the cutest painted wall I’ve seen – right in Alexandria’s Del Ray in Virginia, when I visited one of my best friends, Michelle, at the tail end of my North Carolina trip. I’ve decided anytime I’m on the East Coast I’m going to see a friend out there because it takes so long to get there!

Michelle and her family were like my family when they lived in Phoenix and when they moved to Albuquerque I cried so hard it was worse than a breakup – really. Then when I married Mr. Wonderful I found myself living in ABQ for a few months (he had a job there) and there we were again, living in the same city briefly, just 15 minutes away, it was wonderful!

But now that she lives in VA, I try to incorporate any East Coast trip to seeing the family – she is also an incredibly passionate cook, with a food blog.

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So when she says a place is yummy, we check it out and Thai coffee is everything to me. Michelle also said at Pete’s Coffee they have great Thai coffee – and I’m going to have to try it because I actually very strongly dislike Pete’s since I have never had anything that tasted good there. So if Michelle says it’s good, I believe her.

Del Ray is historic, as everything on the East Coast is – and I find it SO charming. So I told her we needed to take some pics for her food blog, Pantry Lane.

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We let the tiniest one, the sweetest little 4-year-old play around in the park as he killed very large spiders for me, before we headed back to the car. Then, this wall, of course. Suddenly desiring a farmers market at this moment and missing the markets in France – Aix-en-Provence to be exact.

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North Carolina Biltmore Estate

asheville-biltmore-north-carolina-0504asheville-biltmore-north-carolina-0205Location: Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina
Hat: H&M (similar) / Bodysuit: Forever 21 (sold out, similar) / Skirt: Banana Republic (sold out, similar, love this) / Booties: Seychelles (old, similar) / Handbag: Madewell (old, similar) / Jacket: Wilsons Leather

Here I am in one of my most favorite places in the country, perhaps even world. North Carolina is a place where I’ve always said once I visited that I could see myself living. The countryside roads, the people are kind, and its where my favorite season, fall, makes the most beautiful debut.

Biltmore was created by the Vanderbilt family – a family who got it’s fortune from an ambitious young man, Cornelius Vanderbilt from Staten Island, NY who quit school at age 11 and at age 16 borrowed $100 from his mother buying a sailing vessel to start his own ferry service and by the time he died at age 82 turned it into about $100 million.

It was one of his 13 children, George who opened the Biltmore in 1895 after 6 years of construction. Can you imagine the entertainment here?

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I’ll save the rest of the story for you to learn when you visit – because you must visit, mmmkay? And you must also do the audio tour to get the dish on every room in the house, the stories, the reasons why they were created, oh I could tour it again and this was my second time!

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The grounds are everything, everything. I visited Biltmore years ago with my best friend from college, Jackie, on a road trip about 7 years ago – she did all the research and pretty much planned out entire trip.

Benjamin had a great time, to his surprise. He wanted to stay all day and one really could. If you visit there are two hotels and you can eat dinner there as well. You really could drive around and take everything in all day and I do hope one day we visit yet again! I cannot get enough.

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A little hint of Christmas was sprinkled around, and staring November 4 is when Biltmore really gets Christmas-y. Which means, I should get Christmas-y around the Steffen House. *wink* I still need to find my skinny tree.

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Getting to see the servant’s quarters reminded me of Downton Abbey, the size of their laundry room, kitchens and pantry were a dream. I also loved seeing the indoor swimming pool and bowling alley!

There are many guest quarters, and accommodations. Back in the day they entertained handful of guests at a time – not just one family. There would be horse riding, activities, oh the life of such people. I joked I would easily transition to that lifestyle and enjoy it tremendously – as a guests and especially as a hostess, I love to entertain and see friends enjoy themselves.

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We stayed until it closed, which is 6 pm when everything started to wind down which was perfection – less crowds and the ability to wander at a slow pace. You can still wander the grounds, a total of 8,000 acres.

The conservatory was equally amazing, I cannot wait to get back to gardening once the weather cools in Phoenix. It’s still hot, very hot here. Hotter than the rest of the country’s summers and it’s end of October. Aye. And so, back to North Carolina fall perfection –

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History, weather, an estate I like to just consider a castle, this was all eye candy for me.

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Happy Fall! Let me know if you’ve visited the Biltmore or when you plan on going!

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