Monday, August 31, 2009

Family Vacation Part III (My Birthday in Charleston)

Today I celebrate several things. I celebrate Gracie's recovery. My very sick kitty gave me a very real scare. All is well and she has emerged from under the bed to "grace" us all with her presence. She looks tired and a little beat up from the various IVs and shots and ultrasounds and vaccinations and x-rays. I realize I am not a "mother" to a real, live "human" child but I love my cats fiercely. (And yes, I would, and have, loved dogs just as fiercely.) My heart was breaking thinking of being faced with a difficult decision. I had a good cry with mom on the phone as I left Gracie at the vet. I was preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. I celebrate that my kitty survived (another) terrible ailment. Yes, she has done this to me before and she always pulls through! A testament to how tough she is. So hug your pets just a little extra for me tonight. They bring us such joy. And a special thank you to Karin Hinkle, DVM and her veterinary staff at Huebner Oaks Veterinary Hospital. She called me with updates all day long AND she made several follow up calls today. She didn't have to be so thoughtful....apparently Gracie wasn't the most "gracious" patient (no pun intended). Gracie doesn't like to come downstairs, let alone leave the premises. Add to that a raging fever and an infected bladder and you have one angry cat!
I would also like to celebrate a personal victory. Yesterday I officially achieved "Lifetime Membership" status at Weight Watchers! I have maintained my goal (within 6 ounces) since May 18, 2009. (Yes...I know...that was a VERY long time since my last weigh in...but the good news is that I only fluctuated 6 ounces!) A lot of you have been very supportive of me on this journey. Weight Watchers is an amazing system! It works! Now, I know most weight loss programs claim "it works." Weight Watchers is not a is a way of living. No food is off is just up to you to watch your portion size and budget your points as you would a checking account. I have recently introduced three friends to the system. They have chosen the on-line option. I actually go to meetings. I need "the group" atmosphere. Plus, I always leave empowered and with a new recipe or food item in my tool box. I know that weight loss and maintenance plagues a lot of individuals. I am one of them! If anyone wants more information...or wants to hear my story...or wants some pointers...please talk to me! I trust this process and this system so much. Who day I might put myself out there and lead a group!

As promised...more from The Vela Family Vacation, 2009! My birthday was spent in historic...
One of the first places we walked into was this AMAZING antique shop. The owner travels to France and England to purchase her inventory. I went through the entire store saying, "I want that, and I want this, and I would totally own this, and I need this someday, too!" Mom was exhausted by all my "I want, I want, I want!" But we had a good time imagining where we might place something or how we might use something. Dad even had a good time and I noticed he asked the saleslady a couple of questions. Below are some photos of things I absolutely LOVED!

I have wanted a piece like this for a very long time! Sigh....someday!
Who needs an "island" in their kitchen when you could have this zinc-topped farm table? Just run some electrical up the leg and there you go! I would soooooooooooooooooooo choose this over a brand new island in a heartbeat! Oh, and I will take everything "on" it as well!
And what proper Southern antique shop wouldn't have a courtyard filled with the sweet gurglings of fountains? Can I have the entire courtyard, too?
After the antique shop we found this outdoor corridor.....
with fantastic residences located on either side of it.....
peppered with delightful, charming elements.....
that led to the most spectacular cemetery I have ever visited! Mom and I sat on the bench at the edge of the cemetery for a quick photo. I then proceeded to take what felt like a million photos of various gravestones, headstones, etc. I will include those photos in another post. IF I were to be buried...that is EXACTLY the type of place I would want as my final resting place.
As I mentioned, we spent my birthday in Charleston. My birthday is August 5. This was one of the first headstones I photographed. Coincidence? Of all days....I photographed this one on August 5 which also happens to be MY birthday!
I really enjoyed my visit to Charleston. Mom and Dad claimed to like Savannah better. I was equally charmed by both cities. I hope to be able to spend MUCH MORE time in both locations. One day simply is not enough. When in Charleston visit the following places: Tristan Restaurant and Plum Elements. We ate at another fantastic restaurant but the name escapes me. It is named for the dog that once lived in the old home and spent most of his time on the front porch. Mom and I also found a precious boutique that had some unique clothes, jewelry and cards. I WISH I could remember the name, but I can't. (That is really too bad because the owner was so sweet!)
I am lovin', lovin', lovin' OLOROSO! This SUBLIME restaurant is located in Southtown on South Alamo Street. Chef Josh Cross' menu pays homage to the cuisine of the Mediterrenean with a smidge of "contemporary" thrown in for good measure. My Aunt Sylvia and I dined at Oloroso prior to Uncle Vanya. She is a foodie in every sense of the word. She has also had the opportunity to travel the world and feast on all types of culinary delights. Oloroso impressed her from the very first bite of our mushroom puff pastry (I can't remember the name) appetizer. (It is the only picture I took because I was frankly so intoxicated by the food and wine I completely forgot to take any other photos!)

For dinner I selected from the Three Course Pre-Fixe Menu. I have cut and pasted (from the Oloroso website) the options here and I HIGHLY suggest going this route. It is a nice way to sample several items at a very reasonable rate. My dinner choices included the salad, hangar steak and chocolate clafoutis.

Three Course Pre-Fixe

(Available Until 7:00 pm Daily)

Soup of the Day


Salad of Field Greens

Poached Wild Dover Sole with roasted Peppers, Leeks and Fingerling Potatoes finished with Salsa Verde


Braised Honey Cumin Duck Leg with Summer Beans and Swiss Chard finished with Thyme Jus


Grilled Hangar Steak with Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Tomatoes and Cippolini Onions and Haricot Verts finished with Roasted Garlic Sauce

Buttermilk Pannacotta

Chocolate Clafoutis

Aunt Sylvia ordered the Braised Rabbit Leg. She offered me some and I had a moment of discomfort (you know...the image in my head) but then I let the image drift right out of my head and delighted in this dish. She said, "This is the best rabbit I have ever had!" MAJOR vote of confidence...the woman knows her food!

If you have an opportunity check out this wonderful restaurant. You will not be disappointed. They have valet parking on every night with the exception of First Friday.

I am off to bed! Good night, friends. It is ALMOST Friday! And ALMOST a three day weekend!

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