The adventures of a cranky publicist

Well dear readers, I won’t bury the lede:

Elaine played a triple word score on the third play and never looked back.

The final score was 323-235.

Oh look! I just played bilker and tripled my score!

My luck with letters vanished. The last four pulls from the bag gave me seven vowels. Elaine pretended sympathy, but I sensed her delight in finding her ground on the Scrabble board. Fortunately I still like Elaine. And I was relieved of the stresses of winning.

Before a certain NYT best-selling author gives you her side of the story, I’d like to share a few pertinent details.

We stayed in a private house (called Arden Estate) on the Nemacolin property instead of the fifth floor of the Chateau. While everyone in the house had been vaccinated, we opted to keep the house reservation as a cautious way to return to travel.

It’s a huge house with decks running on two levels on the back, providing gorgeous views of the Laurel Highlands. With six bedrooms, a huge dining area, an even huge-r deck with picnic table, a game room, a pool table, fireplaces, two hot tubs, Arden offered enough to do, enough space to sit and read or talk, that you didn’t even need to leave for spa treatments. (Though everyone did at least one.)

Just a portion of the lower deck.
The view from the dining area.

BTW, in the fall of 2020, the most recent season of The Bachelor was filmed entirely at Nemacolin. The resort was closed to guests for two months, all employees of the resort who worked during that time as well as the entire cast and crew were sequestered on the property and subject to two Covid tests per week.

Arden was used for group dates and one-on-one interviews in front of the fireplace. I’m not a fan of the show, but it was a conversation starter with everyone I met. And it seems to be a lure for visitors to the resort now that spring has arrived.

Oh, the one thing I DID know was our friend Claire Hardy created the vivid, engaging rose paintings that were visible on the show. Nora owns several of Claire’s pieces and she had a show at Gifts Inn BoonsBoro in March 2020.

While I mentally (and maybe somewhat vocally) bemoaned the Stupid Scoreboard, I firmly put my foot down about playing Hearts with Kayla. “That,” I said grandly, “is a Greenbrier activity.”

Shows me what I know. My plan was to bed by 10:30 on the first night, but as I was about to say goodnight, Kat had to go downstairs to Griffin and I was dragooned into sitting in her place in a game of — you guessed it — Hearts. I proceeded to tank on purpose, but still didn’t get to bed until 11:30. Sigh.

On the positive side of the Stupid Scoreboard tally, we bowled with the Ninendo Switch instead of the Wii. Turns out I have mad skills bowling with the left Switch remote in the right hand.

The time Laura entertained Griffin by bowling with both hands. Please note the strikes.

Eventually I helped the group learn that six strikes in a row are called a six-pack. Unfortunately, my talents only showed up for exhibitions to delight Griffin who chortled whenever anyone bowled a strike.

Overall, the days were lovely. Forecasted cold weather and rain never materialized. We had enough room on the decks to take in the magnificent sunsets (instead of crowding at a hotel window).


Even though it’s not everyone’s idea of a vacation, I really wanted to get my hands on the grill on one deck and make dinner for everyone. (I enjoy cooking for larger groups and it’s been a long, long time.) The group was all in so Kayla and I went out to buy chicken and vegetables and the ingredients for Nora’s Roasted Potatoes.

Since everyone will ask: Nora took the boatload of Yukon gold potatoes I bought her, washed them, quartered them, coated them with olive oil, salt, pepper, chopped garlic and rosemary. Put them in a 375 oven for 30 minutes, then took out of the oven and stirred them so nothing stuck to the pan. Then she rechecked/stirred them every 15 minutes until they were done.
When I’ve made them, I use Yukon Gold baby potatoes, do the same oil/spice thing, then start the stirring at 15 minutes instead of 30, since they cook faster.

I needed a tenderizer to get the chicken breasts around the same thickness. In the perfect example of #RandomKatness, she went out and found a rock for my approval. Then she washed it and covered with foil. And it was perfect fit for my hand, weight for the job.

Actually everything was pretty perfect. I grilled asparagus with lemon, broccoli, cauliflower while Nicole prepped portobello mushrooms stuffed with zuchini, squash and mozzerella.

Dinner time

Praise all around for our family meal. And we had leftovers for days.

As for the rest of our time away?

We painted.

Down the road a piece.

Went for walks.

Fireworks at sunset

Watched a surprise fireworks display.

Pat and Nora in the sunshine.

And took the time to catch up in person, rather than a monthly Zoom call.

Nora captures the magic of friendship and girl power far better than I do, so I’ll let her give you a fuller picture in her own post.

All I can say is it was a wonderful, restorative week away…

Until JoAnne screamed.

But that’s a story for next time.


18 thoughts on “The adventures of a cranky publicist”

  1. What a lovely ray of sunshine in the dismal year we have been having here in Alberta. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding me that there is light at the end of this tunnel and it isn’t a freight train.

  2. Sounded beautiful and the dinner I could practically taste! I haven’t seen my family or my best friend who all live in Scotland in over a year and I’ve just had my first Vaccination. We plan a trip next month and I get to meet my baby niece Freya for the first time…it’s such funny times we live in currently but there is the light of family and friendship and hugs waiting which makes it bearable. Have a wonderful weekend xx

  3. Getting away, even for a short while, is good for the body and the mind. That said, it looks and sounds like a good time was had by all.

  4. Thanks for that, Laura! I live these getaways vicariously through you and Nora … and enjoy the pictures, menus, game play, and the people every time. I’m pleased for you that the weather has cooperated. And I’m looking forward to learning why JoAnne screamed. 😄

  5. How absolutely delightful! I love roasted potatoes. Yum! As always, great photos.
    Thanks for sharing.


  6. Wow! What a beautiful place!
    Sounds like you all had a wonderful time.
    I’m making the potatoes on Sunday, when my fully vaccinated family comes over. I love rosemary! I think it gives great, subtle flavor to things, especially potatoes. I use in my Nonna’s Beef Stew, as well. Growing rosemary, thyme, curled parsley, chives in my kitchen. Yes, we NYC co-op dwellers have little pots of favored herbs 🌿growing. At least those of us who cook! Not many of my neighbors do. I often make pans of Lasagna or pots of Stew or Chicken Chili and invite my neighbors to come eat. They reward me with Gelato, Godiva and other treats. Fair exchange!
    Cannot wait to hear Nora’s side of events! Keep us posted!

  7. Fun time! I’m hungry after reading your dinner menu. Sorry you lost, but there is always next year. I bet it felt good to just get away after this past year. Thanks for sharing.

  8. What a fantastic place for a vacation. So glad to see y’all all got to have the time together. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful place.
    Thank you for sharing, Laura.

  9. That was a lovely break from my daily routine. what a beautiful and relaxing place to be. i just realized how i missed Nora’s daily travelogue. looking forward to tomorrow’s update.

  10. Laura, love the pictures. The place looked beautiful.
    I also do Yukon gold potatoes with olive oil and rosemary. ( sometimes I cheat, and cook them in the Microwave lol ) I work till six everyday so, it doesn’t take as long to cook in the microwave and we can eat sooner. ( on my weekends off, I do the really big meals and invite my fully vaccinated family over to eat.)
    I can’t believe you left up hanging !! On second thought, yes I can lol.

  11. What a lovely getaway! Thank you for sharing, Laura. However, that was one heck of a cliffhanger at the end. Is JoAnne OK??

  12. Beautiful pictures, as always. Glad the game playing wasn’t as stressful as it might have been. The meal you put together sounds wonderfully delicious! So happy all of you could finally get together in person. It so uplifts the spirit to be with friends and family. Thank you for sharing, Laura. You uplifted my spirits.

  13. Sounds like a wonderful time away and the break in isolation made it doubly wonderful. The photos are magnificent and make my longing for the mountains more intense.

  14. Laura, I was so rooting for you in scrabble, but if you’re relieved, so be it. 🙂 The photos are absolutely lovely, as always and seeing you all together does my heart good. You’re the best. Thank you for sharing!!❤

  15. It sounds like such an amazing time! Thanks for the FB Live you did and all the updates and photos. There’s nothing quite like a Girls Trip!
    And thanks for the cliffhanger, Laura! 😘

  16. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. We all deserve getaways after this past year. Thanks for sharing yours.

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