Archive for February, 2015

Henry MacMillan at the Cape Fear Museum

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Now showing at the Cape Fear Museum (6 blocks away from here): Henry Jay MacMillan’s watercolors of his experiences in Germany at the end of World War II. Henry lived in the house that eventually became Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast for 60 years and we have a great story to tell you about one of “his” paintings in our dining room!

In 1942, Wilmington-born artist Henry Jay MacMillan (1908-1991) was inducted into the United States Army. As a soldier, MacMillan painted scenes of war-torn Europe while serving with the 62nd Engineer Topographic Company attached to the XIX Corps. From May to November, 2014 visitors to the Cape Fear Museum had a chance to see MacMillan’s Normandy, France watercolors.  From November 11th through April 26 the paintings changed to a selection of watercolors MacMillan painted in Germany. MacMillan’s images of the people and places he saw overseas are a fascinating window into one man’s war experiences. Check it out!


The Cotton Exchange

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

On a recent chilly afternoon, my friend Amy and I decided to brave the elements and walk downtown.  New Year’s resolutions about moving more and all.  In a brilliant compromise between exercise and eye candy, we walked to Cotton Exchange,  where our reward was warm and toasty shopping.  Neither of us had been there in awhile, you know how it is when something wonderful is in your own backyard, and we were enthralled!

The Cotton Exchange is a collection of small shops and restaurants located on north Front Street.  The structure itself has had many incarnations since 1884, including Cape Fear Flour and Hominy Mill, saloons and textile mill.  In 1919 Alexander Sprunt and Sons rebuilt it into its current Neoclassic revival style.  Currently, it is home to many local artisans and purveyors.  No chain stores here!

Here’s a brief recap of some of the stores we perused.

Elizabeth’s Tres Chic,-ladies clothing and more, Joan and Anna Elizabeth, owners.   Everything from long, gauzy summer dresses to warm yummy sweaters, this is where the cool kids shop.

Cape Fear Footwear-shoes and bags,  One of my guests turned me onto this shop for its sandals made from used yoga mats as the soles and tee-shirt fabric as the tops.  I never want to take them off.

Carolina Beads and Scarborough, store manager.  Want to make jewelry, watch other people making jewelry, just look at pretty crystals and stones, take a class, this is a great shop to rattle your inner creativity.

Fire and Spice, Tommy and Judy Cooper, owners.  A great kitchen shop!  Gadgets you didn’t even know you needed, sauces, spices ,an array of hot sauces,  coffee and more.

Two Sisters –Barbara Galvin, owner.  Ahhhh, this sweet locally owned bookstore has been around for awhile.  If you need info about the area and the history, literature by local authors, really great chachkas  or want to hang out with a really sweet cat, named Kate,  this is the place.

There are lots of other artisans there, potters and jewelers and a paper store where you want to wear the beautiful handmade papers sold by the sheet. Several  restaurants and our favorite dog-friendly coffee house, JavaDog will give you welcome respite during your pilgrimage.  A wonderful destination at your fingertips for getting out of the hot summer sun or rain.


Come On Baby, Light My Fire

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

I admit it…I was a pyromaniac as a child. I was fascinated by fire. I loved getting near a fire; any fire. My parents had to hide the matches on the top shelf of the cupboard. The only reason I joined the Boy Scouts (aside from the spiffy uniform I got to wear to Friday night meetings) was they allowed me to build camp fires. In fact, they encouraged it! My favorite song as a teenager was the fire enthusiast’s anthem by Jim Morrison and the Doors–“Light My Fire.” You readers of a certain age know to which I refer.

Fast forward about 20 years and Paula and I are excited about staying at our first B&B. This one was located in Door County, Wisconsin. As we were in the throes of another woeful Wisconsin winter, we were really happy to learn that this inn bragged that each room had its own fireplace. It doesn’t get any better than that for two non-winter people spending most of their adult lives in this winter wonder land.

We arrived at this fine looking getaway, picked up our keys and headed for the room, all the while fantasizing about the flames licking at crackling pine logs and sharing their warmth with us. Then reality slapped us in the faces! Here is what greeted us in the “fireplace.”

First, there was a plastic pile that attempted to pass for logs. Then there were the orange, red and yellow triangular pieces of cellophane which were a sad excuse for flames. A light bulb behind the “logs” sent orange, red and yellow light from the cellophane flames to our eyes. And, finally. a light switch on the wall activated a fan which made the flames dance to life! And, what a dance it was!

I have two more things to say about that weekend in Door County. 1–The “continental breakfast” was as inadequate and misrepresented as the “fireplace.” 2–All of our other B&B experiences over the years have been much, much better than that first one.

At the Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast, you will find that our fireplaces contain gas inserts. The insurance company frowns upon guests making real wood fires in the fireplaces. The logs aren’t real wood, but the fire is real, the glow is warm and the heat is comforting. Check it out.

While the Cat Is Away

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

What do we do around here when you, our guests, aren’t visiting us? Do we stick to our quarters on the third floor, safe in our little cocoon so-to-speak?  Hell no!

When the cat is away, the mice will play! Kind of.

Steve might sneak off to the Crane Suite bathroom for an hour or two to catch up on his sci-fi reading  among the desert plants.

Paula prefers the living room couch in the Cypress Suite as the setting to lose herself in one of her crime or spy novels.

Later, we might meet on the front porch for a well-deserved glass of wine and watch the world (or at least the Wilmington portion of the world) go by.

If it’s too chilly for that, the rendezvous will take place in the living room with the fireplace going and the drink of choice here is brandy. Sparky likes to plunk down exactly seven feet, no more, no less,  from the flames.

After sufficient lazing time, the three of us (two bipeds and one 14-year old quadruped) head four blocks to the Cape Fear River Walk for a one and a half mile saunter that never gets old for us.

Wow, I just realized that these are all things our guests do while here at the Camellia Cottage Bed and Breakfast in wonderful Wilmington NC. There’s a big surprise.