November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving on The James

 Mary's mom, Jinx, at Beechwood

Just to warn you, this is a mega post with over 80+ photos recapping our day at the farm over Thanksgiving — feel free to just scroll along, but we really wanted to include many shots from the day since we made such great memories.

After packing up the smoked turkey I'd been working on all night, we hit the road down to Prince George, VA to spend the day with family on Mary's mom's farm. You might remember past trips we've made to this stretch of land overlooking the James River — we even spent Thanksgiving down there 2 years ago when we'd had Basil for little over a week at the time. The land is called "Beechwood Manor" and has been in Mary's family for generations — named for the beech trees that grow all over the property.

The farm land Jinx lives on overlooks the James River from a giant ravine — it's such a beautiful escape. The actual farm fields on the property are leased out and are typically used for soybean crops. The fields had been cleared the same week we came down, so you could see stretches of land for what seemed like forever.

We love bringing Basil to Beechwood with us as it's one of the only times he can really just run around and do whatever he pleases on a whim. Whenever we take him down there, we always make him wear his bright orange harness in case any hunters mistake him for a wild deer running through the woods. Mary was especially worried this go round since it was hunting season and we kept hearing rounds of gun shots from all sides of the property. I like to think he's just in his element since weims are hunters by nature.

But let me tell you, all this dog cared about was his crack ball. We've told you about the crack ball before, right? Something about these plastic chuckit balls that he literally gets crazy obsessive over.

I love it when Basil points. Neither Mary nor I have engaged in teaching him how to hunt — it's just in his blood. So when he actually does it and get's that crazy look in his face, it just gives me tingles:

Basil will chase this ball for days. When I throw it, it's all he can do to control himself to wait. He sits there shaking with anticipation. When he sees me go in for the toss, he gets low to the ground and get's really serious about it. He begins running before I'm finished tossing the ball, so when he catches sight of it in the air, he gets even lower to the ground and kicks it into high gear, almost running like a horse would:

We knew Mary's sister and her family were on the way to Beechwood, so we wanted to try to wear Basil out pretty good before everyone got there. I could watch him run all day:


This dog loves his ball.

While throwing the ball, I walked over to the edge of Jinx's property to find a pretty substantial patch of irises. This was exciting, because I'd actually given her 1 iris bulb back when Mary and I first started dating to plant down there. They came from my old house and have been in my family for generations. It's incredible to see how one bulb will multiply and grow with each year that goes by:

Basil loves to hide and play in this section of pampas grasses on the border of Jinx's home. We cornered him and teased him as he'd dart in and out:

It was fun to watch our dog in an environment where he was truly in his element. He loved climbing to the top of her stairs on the front porch and just looking out onto the fields in hopes of finding something to chase after. Jinx challenged him to hunt the moles and groundhogs that have been causing her trouble. We think he took her seriously:

I'd say we were successful in wearing this big guy out. This looks like the face of a happy dog:

Dog picture of the year, anyone?

Then Mary asked me to take some photos of her with Basil:


And then Jinx couldn't resist his wagging tongue and wanted a photo too:

As we were getting these shots, Mary's sister (Teller) and family drove up the lane. Below you'll see Jinx with their youngest daughter, Sophia, and Teller with their son, Benjamin. It seems like just yesterday we were blogging about Sophia's grand entrance into the world — how the time flies.

Then we all headed inside to get down to business — Thanksgiving dinner! My parents arrived shortly after Teller, Ben and the kids got there and brought Mary's birthday present with them. If you haven't gathered by now, Mary has a special affection for good food (one more reason we make a good match). My parents make a traditional Hungarian dish from potatoes, Hungarian sausage, eggs, sour cream, butter — you get the idea. Mary fell in love with this dish the first time they made it and ever since, they've made it for her on her birthday. One year we even put candles in it like it was a birthday cake and served it to her.

While this is truly Mary's potato dish, everyone in the family looks forward to my parents making it and felt like it was a treat to have at the Thanksgiving dinner.

All of us set up the food we brought in the kitchen and we enjoyed catching up while making over the food.

Teller and Mary's Aunt Vera in the kitchen:

Dad and I got down to business carving up the smoked turkey:

We reserved drippings from the turkey and brought them down in a jar for mom to make the gravy with:

Looks like we did a good job of wearing this guy out. Maybe he just wanted a taste of the turkey:

Ben (Teller's husband) was excited to watch the game. It's too bad he likes the Redskins. At least Sophia's cuteness made up for this sad fact:

The kids played nicely together while we got everything ready for dinner — everyone was thankful for that! Can you believe how big Virginia is getting:

All of us were so excited to eat we didn't get any shots during dinner. After dinner, we headed outside to enjoy a few drinks and conversation on the front porch since the weather was out of this world kind of good. Not sure what mom was describing in this shot, but it must have been something large:

Dad just got a new Nikon and was taking tons of pics too.

Benjamin played with the farm set:

While Virginia played "Queen of the well:"

Then decided to challenge Basil to a race:

Mary and Jinx then took the two older kids down the ravine to the rivershore while Sophia napped to get a little energy out of them. Basil happily trotted along:

Because the ravine is a long journey for a 4 & 2 1/2 year old, they took a tree climbing break along the way. Benjamin enjoyed Gran's help jumping from the tree while Virginia declared she could do it by herself:


Then it was off to the rivershore:

Basil sprung out ahead of the crowd, just to make sure everything was OK on the beach:


Benjamin was upset that Basil was allowed in the water and he wasn't. These two are best buds.

There's lots to explore on the rivershore. Plenty of fallen trees to climb over and shimmy under and interesting relics to look at and find:


Among the many hidden treasures on this stretch of the James River are the ancient shark's teeth along the sandy shore. Mary and Jinx taught the kids how to look for shark's teeth by circling them first:

 Then the tickle monster, I mean Mary, got a photo-op with the kids:


Basil found the stick of his dreams down on the rivershore:

I guess it was just to big to carry back up the ravine with him.

After more exploring, it was time to head back up the hill, but not before the kids came running in for a big hug from Gran:

And as life would have it, the climb back up the hill is always tougher than the way down:

After Mary and the kids got back up from the rivershore, it was time for a little more relaxing before packing up and heading back into Richmond for the night. We were able to get this one great shot of the three of us:

We enjoyed getting a chance to spend time with family and friends mid-week and feel like we had a little getaway from the city for a day. Thanks for taking a little time from your day to take part in our holiday.

Do you have any favorite memories or traditions you carried on this Thanksgiving?


  1. Looks like it was a great day! That picture of Basil with the extra large stick was pretty darn cute:)

    1. Haha, thanks Angie — was a day filled with great memories.

  2. Wonderful pics with excellent description! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Beautiful photos of a beautiful family! Basil has got to be the most photogenic dog ever.

    I love how the irises have grown :)

  4. I am jealous of that potato dish. Is there a recipe to share? We had a lovely sticky rice dish with chinese sausage. The maker of this dish flew in from London to join us in Bellingham, WA. We've done this two years in a row which could be the start of something. Basil, as always is the best looking of the family, sorry humans. My Weim puts us to shame too.

    1. Haha, thanks Rowan — we are quite fond of him too. Sounds like a potato recipe is in order!

  5. well, I somehow enjoyed your Thanksgiving about as much as mine! The photos are so nice, and Basil is a cool dude (I noticed he was a guy dog in one of those photos, but I won't speak of that here) You do have a beautiful family, and what a wonderful place there on the river! I envy your enjoyment of it all! Best regards!!

  6. What a fun, crazy (in a good way) face Basil has!

    1. He has the craziest faces. When we gets really serious about a toy, we call him "crazy eyes." haha


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