Monday, June 28, 2010


"On this route you traverse a considerable wood, and after having passed over two hills, you discover a country house of an elegant and majestic simplicity."
~J.P. Brissot de Warville upon visiting Mt. Vernon in 1788

As a stay-at-home, homeschooling, mom and author, I don't get away very often. Last year I took some book trips which I loved. This year I haven't been away but have been feeling the need. And I found the perfect place for my history-loving heart. Given my infatuation with George Washington and the 18th-century, I've been wishing I could fly to Virginia and spend a couple of days at Mount Vernon. So I did ~ sort of:)

If you look at the top picture closely, you'll swear Virginia has sprouted some huge snow-covered mountains and the Potomac River has turned into the sea. Alas, this isn't the south but Washington state's amazing attempt at recreating George Washington's beloved homeplace. It worked very well for this writer:)

This beautiful inn is only about 45 minutes from our house. The owners, Dan and Janet Abbot, are admirers of Washington and have dedicated each room - um, bedchamber - to a certain phase of his public or personal life. I was happily ensconced in the "Surveyor's Retreat." Washington was a surveyor for the Virginia colony in his younger days before he married Martha.

There were so many things I loved about the place ~ blackberry french toast, fresh fruit parfaits, egg souffles, incredible coffee. Lavender fields lining the entrance. A mountain and water view. The cupola and weather vane. A library filled with books, old and new, on 18th-century life and historical figures. A circular staircase, sun-drenched porticos, a chess set of Patriot and British soldiers... Everything was so graceful and peaceful and lovely.

I've been wanting to iron out a few wrinkles in The Colonel's Lady before my deadline next month. Nothing like a change of scene to do it. Thanks to the inn's library, I found just what I needed to make the story sing. If you ever visit in future, you'll find Morrow and Lael there on the shelf:) I returned home inspired and thankful (but wishing I could stay at the George Washington Inn forever).

Many places provide inspiration. You don't need a trip to find it. Sometimes it's as simple as a favorite chair by a sunny window in your home. Or a walk in the woods or your garden. God is so good to give us green pastures and still waters. Have you had any lately or felt the need for some? If so, where would you go?


  1. Whoa, how blessed you are to have such a place so nearby. It's beautiful, the rooms sound like a writer's dream, and it does greatly resemble Mt. V with its lawn sloping down to the water. I'm jealous! But so happy you got to partake of that retreat, and I hope those TCL wrinkles are not only ironed out but starched and blued and whatever else a good 18C laundress might have done to them.


  2. That sounds so refreshing and lovely!
    I'm in need of some down-time. It's been so busy here........ I'm ready for vacation!!

  3. Welcome back Laura!! That inn looks and sounds just BEAUTIFUL!! I’m so blessed for you my friend!! Goodness, the inspiration must have been spilling from the walls, no wonder you found what you needed to make your story sing :) It must be so nice to step back in time and live history for a little while- *sigh* I wouldn’t want to leave either! And HOW CUTE, Lael and Morrow are now permanent residents there?! They will fit in perfectly, and at least you know a little part of you gets to stay and enjoy :)

    Laura, I’m so happy you had a wonderful time, you totally deserved it my friend- and many more! And YUM, “blackberry French toast” is my favorite! :)

    Praying you have a beautiful day!

    Amanda Stanley

  4. Until you put the part in there about the snow-capped mountains, I literally thought I was looking at a picture of Mount Vernon! How beautiful, and what a special place to be inspired.

    I was blessed to go to Mount Vernon in 2007, and must say that it was the pinnacle of a trip that included that, DC, Monticello, and Williamsburg. I felt, while we were touring the house, that this was the home of a Godly man. I didn't get that feeling at Monticello, and while the inventions, the architecture, and scientific "stuff" he had was all amazing, I just felt a peace at Mount Vernon. I hope you get to go someday!

  5. When I read your words about a library in that lovely place, I caught my breath. "I wonder if they let Laura go through the library?" I knew you'd LOVE that! I kept reading and discovered that indeed you got to go through those book! Wonderful! And Lael and Morrow are on the shelf, too! Hooray!

  6. Oh wow Laura! What a beautiful, beautiful place. No wonder you were so inspired! Nothing like putting yourself in the environment you're writing about to give you fresh eyes and fresh ideas. I'm glad to hear it was just what you needed! Lovely!~

  7. Lori,
    You would love this place - especially the library and the view:) TLC is better for being here and I'm very thankful!

  8. Lisa,
    I always think a mother's work begins with summer vacation! Our kid's might be off but we moms are certainly not! Just think - someday they'll be old enough to take us places:) Praying you get a retreat soon. Your lake house seems like it would be the perfect place for some green pastures or still waters, no pun intended:)

  9. Amanda, You have the most poetic ways of saying things! The inspiration was truly spilling from the walls. In spades! And I'm so pleased Morrow and Lael will be in such good company in the library:) Love that a part of me gets to linger, like you said...

    God is so good to give us little JOY breaks. In this case, one I'll remember a long time. Bless you for sharing my weekend with me in retrospect. That makes the delight of it all linger:)

  10. Regina,
    You took my dream trip in '07! More than anything, I'd love to do that loop:) You must have some wonderful memories - and pictures!

    Your comments/insights are so amazing to me ~ the feeling you got from the different residences. In all my reading and research about both Thomas J and George W, I have always been struck by how different they were though they were friends and had such similarities. Jefferson was a very worldly man. I've never come across anything of spiritual substance/significance in his life. George Washington was infinitely spiritual and his beliefs determined the course of his entire life. I find it so fascinating you experienced that in their homes. I do think a godly influence lingers. Scripture seems to back that up, as well. Thanks so much for sharing that!

  11. Heather,
    I thought of you while there. All it lacked was a gift shop full of your paintings and dolls:) It would be the perfect fit! You would have loved the lavender fields, too. Randy and I had a picnic by all that blooming purple beauty:) Thanks so much for commenting!

  12. Linda,
    Love that you share my joy over the library. The wonderful thing is that any guest can go in and take books and videos back to their room! I watched a wonderful CD of Mount Vernon Friday night and it was almost like being there. And I was so pleased the owners want my books in the library. What a joy that is! The next time you and Dave are in town, you must go on Old Olympic Hwy as the inn is only about 7 miles east of Port Angeles. There's no chance of missing this incredible place - it sits like a crown amidst all that farmland and lavender fields! And it's only been open for a couple of years. You'd love the owners as they're Christians who wanted to share the beauty of the area with their guests. They have quite a ministry!

  13. Aw, really? maybe I should send them a postcard ;) what's so funny is about the time you were there I started a painting inspired by George Washington...who coulda guessed? It must have been in the air ;)

  14. That sounds like the perfect retreat & how wonderful that it provided that inspiration you needed to make TCL sing.

    As far as retreats, I just got home from a family vacation, but for some reason it always seem the family gets to rest and I don't. I think it's the mother syndrome. So, once a year I take a 3 night retreat to a wooded place about 4 hours from home, all by myself. It's a working retreat, but it's sooo refreshing anyway.

  15. Heather,
    Oh, your George inspired painting sounds great! We 18th-century fans must think along the same lines all the time, no matter where we are. I meant to say too, after your comment in another post, is that all I lacked at the inn was one of Tasha Tudor's 18th-c. gowns. Wouldn't a picture on the grounds have been neat dressed in period costume? I bet it's been done there before ~ or will be:) Oh, they'd probably love one of your lovely postcards. I know I do!

  16. Oh my Laura, this is beautiful! I love it!

    I went to the website and looked at the inn, and it's gorgeous. I know it has to be a wonderful place to stay.

    The blackberry french toast sounds delicious! I'm thinking Cracker Barrel is having that this summer, I think I might have to stop there after church sometime.

    I am so glad you had such a good retreat, and that you found the inspiration you needed!

    Before gas prices went up a few years ago, I used to take drives in the country. I would go out 68 into Jessamine county and then take one of the roads that connect 68 and 27 back into Nicholasville. It's so beautiful out there. I also like US 25 between Richmond and Lexington.

  17. Brenda,
    Anything wooded sounds wonderful to me - and just the right amount of time away. Being a mom is such a 24/7 thing that we have to go somewhere alone or we don't rest at all. Glad you take that time for yourself. I bet it's something you look forward to year round. I know how rare it is and how treasured:)
    That said, glad you're back from vacation!

  18. Hi Michelle,
    Oh, thanks for your great comments! I couldn't wait to share this with readers. I know just the roads you're talking about - those old highways. We take old 25 from Berea to Lexington and love it. I especially like Clay's Ferry going south - when you come up from the river a Cracker Barrel is just waiting for you:)
    Funny thing, on my walk today I was thinking of you and thinking when I come back we'll have to meet and I'll take you to breakfast or lunch. Trouble is, we'd be so torn as we love the same places - Bella Notte, Panera on Richmond Road, and Cracker Barrel. How about we go to breakfast at CB, lunch at P, and supper at BN?! Wouldn't that be a hoot!?

  19. Thanks Adrienne,
    It was wonderful in a way that only God could arrange. I was a bit sad that I couldn't stay longer but so thankful I was there even a short time. Bless you today!

  20. That is beautiful. I'm so glad you had a nice relaxing deserve it...and I'm sure we can't wait to read the writing inspired by it :)

  21. Julia,
    This did my often weary, sometimes melancholy heart such good. There's something about being in a place that is beautiful and peaceful and quiet (not my house!)that really ministers to me. Bless my boys but they are non-stop action nearly 24/7. As a mom of young children, I know you can relate:) Thanks so much for your gracious comments here. I always look forward to them.

  22. Hi Laura -

    I like visiting the sites where my novels are set. Pictures cannot give you the panoramic view, the smells, or the interaction with people.

    One of my novels is set in Pennsylvania. Thankfully, the area is a hop-skip-and-a-jump from where I live.

    Susan :)

  23. Susan, It's so interesting that you would say that about setting/locales for our WIPs. On my walk today I was thinking about that very thing - how much more difficult it would be to try to write in such a removed way, having never visited that place so critical to your characters. Well said! All the sensory elements you mentioned are what make it come alive. Bless you for your comments. They always add so much!

  24. WOW! What a beautiful place! I'm glad that you got to go and had a wonderful time!

    XOXO~ Renee

  25. Renee,
    It was great ~ thanks so much! I know you had fun at the beach, too. That sounds heavenly to me:) Got to get over to your blog and see what you've been up, too! XOXO back at ya:)

  26. Laura~
    I am so delighted to have found you! I am off for a wee vacation myself~ the first break away in far too long...and it is off to Yorktown VA for me. I hope to stop by my beloved Williamsburg and say hello~ it's been far too many years! I shall think of you and send Colonial energies your way!

  27. Laura, your retreat sounds divine...especially the library part. :-)

    I haven't been anywhere in years and years and years. Vacation time is spent at home in my garden and puttering around my rickety ol' house so I think just a change in routine can jump start inspiration for me. And long walks. Long, meandering walks. I live close by to several recreational biking/walking trails and beautiful neighbourhoods with century old homes. Love to soak up inspiration that way as well.

    But if I could go anywhere -- it might just be the Library Hotel in NYC. There are books in the lobby, books in the dining room...books in every rooom. And the hotel is organized with the Dewey Decimal System. Each of the ten floors is one Dewey Category -- 100's, 200's, 300's and then each room is broken down further and the books in that room reflect it's Dewey Decimal number. How cool is that?

  28. There is a place across going up Little River Road from Townsend, across the boundry into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The Little River is to the left, and there is a place with large boulders good for sitting, shallow pools good for dipping, and green shadows good for reflecting. The water is clear and there are foamy sets of small rapids and falls all around. I think I would be happy just to be there today.

    Hope Morrow is selling well. I'm ordering mine today. I have a stack of books to read, but I admit, this one is high priority.


  29. Kav, That sounds incredible - I've never heard of the Library Hotel but know it must be an amazing place for us bibliophiles!! Wonder how many volumes they have there? How neat that books are arranged Dewey style:) A librarian or two must have been in the mix.

    I can just picture your neighborhood with its beautiful old homes and trails, etc. Would love to be in your garden! Still thinking of your roses. Bet there are some beautiful old trees, too.
    You don't need to go anywhere! I'd be happy to stay right at home if I was you:)

  30. Britt,
    Reading your comments always makes me more homesick as you describe things so beautifully back there! I hope you are getting lots of outside time despite the heat. The place you describe here sounds so like the Red River to me. There's something about water that is so soothing.

    Bless you for ordering CML. That means a lot to me. The fact that you really want to read it makes me smile:) Praying you love it and it blesses you in some way. Hope it makes you plan a trip to Ky's Red River area. Knowing you and your love of the outdoors, it would be a perfect fit!

  31. Stacey,
    And I'm so happy to have found you! Your blog(s) are so interesting and beautiful ~ I'm so drawn to folk/primitive/18th-c. art. Wish my whole house could be decorated that way. As it is, I have so many quilts hung on the walls it drives my husband crazy:)

    You are off to two of my favorite places!! Hoping your trip is full of inspiration for you. Wish I could tag along! Thanks so much for your comments! Please stop back by.

  32. Btw, I can't wait to read more :-)

  33. Oh Laura,
    Mount Vernon is beautiful, isn't it? Have you read Nancy Moser's book, Washington's Lady. Amazing biofiction based on Martha Washington's life and perspective.

    Speaking of great books...
    The Prologue to Morrow Little is heartwrenching - beautifully written adn totally gripping, but heart wrenching. Whew...

  34. Hi Pepper,
    So good to see you here. I'm so glad you mentioned Nancy Moser as she is one of my favorite authors:) In fact, Washington's Lady is on my keeper shelf. I'm really looking forward to her new August release - think it's titled Masquerade. The cover is so pretty.

    I'm so glad you're part of the CML blog tour! And yes, that prologue pulls at your heart strings (at least that was my hope). Thank you for saying the things you did. Interestingly enough, I thought the prologue might be too dark so I tried to soften it before I turned the book in to my editor. But then I wanted to be as historically accurate as possible so changed it back to the original. Sadly, the opening tells the story of countless frontier families. But I promise a happy ending:)

    Hope your writing is going well. I know your wonderful blogs are!

  35. Laura, it was our privilege to have you and Randy as our guests. We are honored that you chose to spend the weekend with us. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family as well as your writing! We look forward to reading your book.


  36. Janet,
    Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm missing the beauty and peace of the inn even now. Randy agrees:) I appreciate your gracious words so very much. It's been a privilege to share your beautiful home here on my blog. Looking forward to stopping by in the morning on our way to Sequim!

  37. Have you read, "How Do I Love Thee"? I've not had the chance, but it's based on one of the best love stories I've ever heard of.
    I want to get it sometime soon.

  38. Pepper, I have it sitting here in my stack of stuff:) Another beautiful cover. Also, Mozart's Sister and Just Jane. So many good books, so little time! Sigh. Thanks for asking:)

  39. I thought you would possibly recognize those roads, Laura.

    Getting together would be lovely the next time you're in town, if you have the time of course. I do believe you are right though, we'd have a hard time deciding where to eat. ;)

    I don't know if you've heard this from your family, but the Red River area is in the news right now. There was a bear attack in the Red River Gorge yesterday. The person was taken to UK, and has been released from the hospital. They've shut down both Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park, and are hunting for the bear.

  40. Hmmm, maybe I should have put a bear in my book:) I never even thought of that! I talked to my mom this morning but she didn't mention it. I'll have to google it and read for myself. Thanks for the tip, Michelle. I always love news from home, even the scary stuff:)

  41. How wonderful to get away to write and think! That sounds like the perfect setting for you. I can imagine spending a weekend in a bed and breakfast somewhere with a lovely view and flower gardens. Or maybe a little cottage on the coast.

  42. Carla, It was such a blessing. I hope you find time to retreat from your busy schedule, too. Sounds like we like the same sort of places. I'm still hoping and praying we can meet up at a conference or one day go somewhere together:) You are such a dear online friend.

  43. That would be wonderful! Hoping to get to ACFW next Sept. and perhaps you and Lori could come visit Maine sometime!