This visit was so much more relaxing!
My mom & sister made lots of good food in their gorgeous kitchen. My mom made sure to have freshly baked homemade chocolate chip cookies available in the butlers pantry. What a good grandma.
On Thursday we all (minus my dad, who was at work) went to the Biltmore. (no surprise there!) My parents and Megan surprised us & bought us year-round passes as an early Christmas present!
I still had to get a bit of work down while we were away so a couple of the evenings I spent with Megan in her basement office/bedroom (it's awesome!!!) & we worked together. I really enjoyed that!
On Friday Ray took our three oldest kids off to go camping, hiking & exploring. They went to the Blue Ridge visitor center, hiking to lots of water falls and camping in Pisgah Forest. Saturday morning they woke up early and went to Sliding Rock. They were the ONLY people there! Ray made sure to get there early enough so they'd have the place to themselves. After that they went to Cradle of Forestry, which is America's birthplace of Forest Conservation. They had all kinds of cool activities and such for the kids. I love that they get so many real life learning experiences!
Meanwhile...my mom & I went out around the town Friday afternoon. She took me to the other top-rated coffee shop in Asheville, High Five, which I also found to be unimpressive. We then drove to the J. Crew warehouse & while on our way found out that Renee & her family were just a short 30 minutes away in Hendersonville! Even though they live 1.5 hours from me I hadn't seen them in about a year. So, we met up at a little coffee shop over there & hung out for a couple of hours. It was so fun!
Saturday morning we went to two local farmers markets Saturday morning. I couldn't believe how much better they are than any of the markets in our area. I'm definitely a bit jealous. We indulged in LOTS of pastries and had a feast once we went back home!
In the afternoon my mom & I went shopping together. I was very unimpressed with the clothing & shoe options at the local TJ Maxx. Can you believe that this was a showcased women's shoe?!?
On Sunday we ALL went to the Biltmore together. My family left after a little while but Ray & I stayed with the kids until the late afternoon. Of all things, an old friend I've known for over 15 years just happened to be at the Biltmore that day with his wife (they just married in July!). I hadn't seen Ben in years, even though we only live a couple hours apart.
Sunday night, we put all of the kids to bed and Ray & I had an actual ALONE date. I made sure that Jackson was down for the night so we didn't have to bring him, either! Ray & I went to French Broad Chocolate Lounge - I really wanted him to try it after the amazing delicacies I had there with my mom!
It was drizzling & we didn't have an umbrella AND the line was out the door! It was totally worth geting a little wet & the 30 minute wait.
He tried the pure dark drinking chocolate and tried the drinking chocolate with cayenne & cinnamon. It was good, but, too much cayenne for me! It burned so much I couldn't finish it! I really wanted the coconut macaroon brownie again, but, I'd hear that the chocolate creme brulee was delicious & I wanted to try something new. It also was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
The icing on the cake of our visit was that my brother and his family had planned a vacation in the area for the week following our trip (none of us knew about the others travel plans until after they were finalized). With our work schedules we were just going to miss each other! So, they left a few hours early & we left a few hours late so we had a little bit of time when the whole family could be together on Monday! It was great!
I hadn't seen my brother in two years & we hadn't had all of us together in over five years. At the time there were two grandkids. Now there are eight!
On a completely unrelated note, I love my moms' guest bath. She bought this awesome decal on etsy & it just makes me laugh!