Archive for relationships

Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching, along with many occasions to welcome house guests.  Are you ready?  Here are tips to make your guest room a welcome retreat.  And they’re easy – some can be done in advance and some can be done in a pinch.

BedPillowsPillows and Blankets – This may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to have plenty of blankets of different weights.  You never know how cold or hot your guest may be, so give them options.  Pillow options are appreciated also.  While you’re at it, toss the pillow inserts in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer sheet to add fluff and a fresh scent.

Robe and/or Slippers – This is especially nice when your guest bath isn’t adjoining the guest bedroom.  Even a few steps out in the hall can be an awkward jump if you forgot something in your suitcase.  This touch will remind your guests of a resort.  Make it even cushier with fluffy slippers!

Guest Room Tray, Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston, Guest Room Details, Guest Prep

“Welcome Center”

Desk/Writing Space – Although it seems so many of us primarily use our smart phones and other devises to communicate, a hand written note or card from a vacation is a classic touch.  Include a small space complete with stationary, pens/pencils, and postage.  If you don’t have room for a desk, reserve a space on a night stand/dresser/tray for your “Welcome Center” (see picture).

Water Glasses and Pitcher – This is another nice touch for the “Welcome Center”.  Give your guests this convenience so they don’t have to stumble around your kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water.  Especially nice if they take medications.  Depending on your space, a Coffee Bar is also very appreciate.

Personal Touches – Send the perfect message with fresh-cut flowers.  They say “Welcome”, “Good Morning”, and “Thank You!” all at once.  This soft touch really makes a stay memorable.  Books can be a nice addition.  Think about the guests and what might interest them.  I like including classic children’s books – works for kids and the young at heart.  And don’t forget the very personal items, back-up toiletry items.  It’s nice to have a toothbrush, hand lotion, etc. just in case.

luggage rackSpace for Luggage – Finally, baggage (whether physical or emotional) always come with guests.  Guest rooms are often the catch-all space for things you don’t use that often or just don’t have a better home.  Be careful not to consume too much storage space.  Leave a few drawers empty for your guests (complete with a scented sachet) and space in the closet for hanging.  And don’t forget the bags – a folding luggage rack takes little space and is a valuable luxury instead of having to hunch over your suitcase on the floor.

~Think about your favorite vacations and what made them special.  You can recreate those memories in your guest room with these tips.  You may love it so much, you can be a guest in your own home!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!


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Family and My Christmas

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I am getting ready to travel to one of my favorite places, “Santa” Monica, because that is where I will share Christmas with both our sons and two daughters-in-love.  It should be a great week!  Our times together involve a lot of relaxing, eating and sharing stories with the newer members of our family.  It doesn’t matter where we are, we always find these times together so special.

Last night reminded me of what an incredible acquired family I have right here at Lake Gaston.  We had a Christmas dinner at our house for all the MSLL family.  The wonderful, talented people who surrounded me are truly amazing.  It makes it such a pleasure to come to work each and every day.

Paul, Autumn, Lu, Michelle, Peggy and Yvonne thanks so much!

The rest of my acquired family is every one of you who has supported us, shopped in our showroom, cooked in our new kitchen and asked us to help make your home a comfortable, family place.  We have gotten to know you and your family and friends.  The circle just keeps getting bigger. Thank you for enlarging our family!

Make this a holiday to remember with your family whether acquired or by nature.

Here are a few pictures of our MSLL Christmas party.

Christmas, table setting, centerpiece, place settings, napkins, greenery

The Table is Ready!

Christmas,place setting, napkins, twelve days of Christmas, napkin holiday decoration

Each place with a Twelve Days of Christmas glass so all can sing!

Christmas, place settings, napkins, snowflake ornament

Napkins embellished with snowflake ornaments for guests to take home!

Party, acquired family, cocktails

Gathering together!

Holiday dinner, candlelight, friends, family

Enjoying a fabulous meal prepared by Chef Yvonne of Y Cook!

Food, Y Cook, scallops, cured beef tenderloin

The incredible food prepared by Chef Yvonne.

Menu, Y Cook

Our menu by Chef Yvonne and topped off by Steve Hoffman’s “melt in your mouth” Cheesecake with Cherry Zabaglione Sauce. WOW!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Merry Christmas!



Working with you to create your lifestyle!



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What’s Red and Walks Over Water?

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The Walking Red

What’s red and can walk over water?  The MSLL Walking Red Team at the annual O’Sail CrossingGo team!

The annual O’Sail event, The Crossing, is quickly approaching.  August 11 is this year’s date.  It is a great family event.  You can swim, paddle, float or walk across the lake. Pick your pleasure!

Several years ago I wanted to be more a part of the Crossing. I chose to stay high and dry and walk the bridge. Collecting a few friends we created the Walking Red Team.  So now is the time to join us to walk over the water of Lake Gaston.  Wear something red to be part of our team.  We will meet at 8:30 at The Point side of Eaton’s Ferry Bridge.

You will need to pre-register on line,  Entries are $20 pre-register, and $25 day of event. All entries include a T-shirt and refreshments at the finish line provided by the Food Lion.

Join the fun and support the community services supported by O’Sail!!!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston, The Crossing, Walking Red Team

MSLL Walking Red Team, 2012

The Crossing, Lake Gaston, Drugco,

Team DrugCo with their water vehicle, 2011

Paddle boat, Miss Daisy, Lake Gaston, The Crossing

Drivin' Miss Daisy across the lake-by her son, 2011

Hope you will join us for the fun!



Call if you need more info:  252-586-2437


Mary Sherwood Lake Living

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The Orchid Trail

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As most of my readers know I have a love for all things with flowers…growing them, decorating with them and enjoying them! But I became a real fan of orchids about ten years ago when I was given my first orchid plant by my very good friend and neighbor, Nancy.  The first time it re-bloomed I was ecstatic! This has lead me to this place and time where this orchid trail begins. About a month ago with our good friends, Brenda and Quinn, we made a day trip to the Philadelphia International Flower Show. (Please don’t tell any of Paul’s motorcycle friends that he went to a “flower show”)  All I can say is WOW!  There are so many fabulous things I could tell you about this exhibition.  But I will focus on the magnificent orchid display for this post.  Click on this link to view a short video of the greenhouse: Orchid Greenhouse at the Philadelphia Garden Show

After viewing the fabulous array in Philly I was not satisfied with my few healthy, re-blooming Phalaenopsis orchids and a few other orchids that looked very pitiful.  Local resources for orchids are limited.  So as Paul’s birthday present to me we embarked on an orchid trail.  We already had plans to rendezvous with Paul’s brother in DC for his birthday so we plotted our trail from DC to Lake Gaston.  Somewhere on our way back home we were going to buy my birthday present.  As luck would have it, our first stop  in Vienna, VA was a winner.  Orchids For You,  a cute little orchid showroom, was tucked backed in a retail/commercial  office district, which seemed an unlikely spot for an orchid greenhouse.  As we walked in I was amazed at what was inside.  After discussing my home environment with Tom, the knowledgeable owner, we decided Phalaenopsis (the easiest orchid to grow) was definitely my kind of orchid.  It likes bright light and “semi-attention”, that is, watering only when it is almost dry if it is potted in a bark/moss medium.  Paul and I began to make our selections.  Paul, being color blind, reacts to flowers so differently than I do.  I never dreamed I would be orchid shopping with Paul.  Over the many years of our partnership in life we have each come to respect each other’s interests.  No, I am not ready to travel on the back of his motorcycle but I do enjoy our discussions about his next motorcycle trip or his next motorcycle gadget (to some degree).  As well he has come to appreciate and enjoy my love of flowers and gardening.  So without further ado I present the treasures of our orchid trail adventure.  Needless to say, we never stopped at the other greenhouses on the trail.  We’ll save them for another day. Hope you enjoy!

Phalaenopsis, orchid, purple, white, large

Harlequin Phalaenopsis-My First Choice

Phalaenopsis, orchid, yellow, pink, flower

Kaleidoscope Pink/Yellow Phalaenopsis-Paul's First Choice


orchid, red, epidendrum, max valley, flower

Epidendrum Max Valley-had to try this red one!!!


lady slipper, orchid,Paphiopedilum,supersuk eureka,raisin pie

Lady Slipper, Paphiopedilum Supersuk Eureka Raisin Pie, getting ready to open


orchid, phalaennopsis, epidendrum, paphiopedilum, flowers, orchid,garden,spring flowers,anemoneshybrids,

My orchid family and a few spring blooms from the garden!!! They look pretty happy so far!

Send me your favorite orchid pictures and stories.  Let’s continue this orchid trail!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!


Categories : Gardening, Mary's Raves
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Paul and Mary off to sunny Cali!

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Just wanted to say,”Hi”.  I haven’t had much to say lately…been too busy…my wife’s been working me too hard!!  Now, Mary and I are getting ready for a Christmas trip to the west coast to visit with our two sons and their significant others.  Mary’s gotten us great travel arrangements:  direct flights both east and west…so Thursday night we drive to Charlotte and Friday its off to the “left coast”.  Big plans…meeting our older son’s girlfriend…having Christmas…renting a motorcycle for a day.

This is a great time of year and one thing I don’t want to forget is to thank all of you for the interest you’ve shown in what Mary and I have going on.  Between your responses to the social networking and your presence in our lives (read “store”) we have much to appreciate.

Mary and I wish all of you the happiest of holidays and we’ll be back from LA with stories to tell!

Our last Christmas in Santa Monica

Categories : Paul's Rants
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And the Winners are…

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We are pleased to announce we have two winners of our “We showed you ours, now show us yours…Pumpkin that is” decorating contest.

Sue Williams and Ivon Hauenstein tied for first place.

We are so pleased they submitted their entries.

Each will receive a $50 MSLL gift card.

Let me tell you their stories…

Sue has been a faithful supporter of Mary Sherwood Lake Living for many years. She always greets us with a big hello and hug!  We first met through her Pampered Chef parties some 20 years ago and  I am still using many items in my kitchen thanks to Sue.  Over the years Sue has volunteered her time in support of many local causes.  She also is a person with incredible creative energy. She has worked in many different arts and crafts mediums.  She submitted her entry very early on after we announce the challenge.  We were so pleased to have her as our first contestant.

pumpkin, decorating, contest, creative

Sue's Boo Ya'll Pumpkin

Ivon ‘s story is entirely different.  We had not met Ivon prior to this endeavor. He was told of the Pumpkin Decorating contest by his neighbor, Paula Wood.  Ivon was very interested in submitting an entry but wanted to wait until close to the deadline so his pumpkin would be “freshly” carved.  As the deadline approached his energy diminished but his desire to enter did not.  Encouraged by his friend, he and Paula decided to give it a go.  The day of the deadline, Paula called in his intention to enter.  She was helping him with the carving but didn’t know if they could bring it to MSLL by the end of the day.  I told her not to worry and submit it as soon as possible so we could publish the winner.

pumpkin, pumpkin carving, Halloween, creative, tools, scary,

Ivon and Paula with their spooky pumpkin!

The next morning, escorted by Paula, Ivon presented his pumpkin entry.  It was a pleasure to have him want to participate and become so excited by the challenge.  Paula says:  “This pumpkin carving contest has really  been a boost for him.”  Thank you, Paula for making it happen.

Each day I am truly amazed at how important it is to be “connected”.  Connections make it possible to be a positive difference in someone’s day.  That’s what Sue and Ivon did for me.


Let’s stay connected!

Best regards,


Working together to create your lifestyle here at Lake Gaston and beyond!

Categories : Mary's Raves
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Paul strikes again…

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Heart ArtThe Fall is a very busy season for all of us.  There are lots of festivals, football games, tailgating parties and community events.  As we are in the countdown days of the local Fall for the Arts event my wonderful husband, Paul, strikes again but not in a way you may imagine.

Read here for his latest “heart felt” blog post.

Paul writes:

“Tonight is a night for celebration.  Mary and I ate dinner together!

I guess that bears a little explaining.

Today I had a need… (Don’t go there!).  Mary and I have been working really hard, thanks to all of you (come on!  That was a genuine “Thank you”!).  Recently, I’ve been catching up on taxes (Oct 15th).  To do so I had to go into the office about 6 AM each morning for several days.  Once that was done there was a delivery to be made in Maryland.  Before I could get home from that trip Mary and Autumn left for market and were gone for 4 days.  In addition, we’re ramping up to Fall for the Arts this weekend at Lake Gaston.  As Chairman I’ve had a lot going on.  Then, there is still Mary Sherwood Lake Living requiring time and attention.  So there sometimes isn’t enough time for Paul and Mary.

So, it’s been about 2 weeks since Mary and I have even had the privilege of having breakfast together!

If you’ve been around me at all you know I love to kid about how it’s necessary for the guy to keep his head down or how that information may be above the guy’s pay-grade!  Most of my buddies agree:  things would be a lot simpler and easier if we didn’t have to translate woman-speak into man-speak.

All of which is pointing up the differences between Mary’s and my approach to things in general.

I don’t know how it is for each of you, but it appears that, none the less, I do miss my wife when I don’t see her for a while. And I have to say, I needed some time where Mary and I just enjoyed being together.  And that’s what we did at the dinner table last night.  The conversation was all work-related, but we both just enjoyed being able to share something we both love.”

Thanks, Paul! How I do love this man!

Now that we have totally become sentimental for a brief moment in time I have to remind you there is still time to purchase tickets for the 3rd Annual Fall for the Arts sponsored by O’Sail.  It is this Saturday, October 23, 10 AM – 5 PM.  Purchase tickets from our store or at the site(s) the day of the event.

I’ll be roaming the sites and hope to see a lot of MSLL friends.

It is going to be a beautiful Fall weekend at Lake Gaston for the art tour!



BTW… Coming soon-our picture blog of Hot Trends from High Point!

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We just finished a great weekend with our kids – well, our son and his wife.  We were sorry our older son, Aaron could not join us.

Many years ago (36 now) I had the extreme good fortune to marry an amazing woman.  Today, I can express great pleasure at seeing that my younger son, Jake, has accomplished the same thing.

This four day Labor Day weekend was terrific!  I don’t know what you usually do when family comes to visit – but Sherwoods usually relax and share great conversation.  For us it’s all about the relationships we’re building or continuing to nurture.  Such is our growing relationship with Elif, our son’s wife and newest family member.  For Mary and me Elif is the daughter we’ve never had.  She is as precious to us as our two sons.

This reminds me of a story…

Seven years ago when Jake and Elif were dating, Mary, and others, made innocent (I guess) remarks leading Jake to feel pressure to propose.  Of course he called me for fatherly advice.  I suggested he would know when the time was right and no one could make that decision for him.  Several days later the phone rang and a stranger asked for Paul Sherwood.  After acknowledging I was he – the stranger – without preamble – started in on how he and his wife had gotten to know Jake and loved him as their own son.  He said that Jake had asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage and he wanted to know whether Mary and I would accept his daughter into our family on the same terms.  I can tell you – I have never been so completely surprised and touched by anything in my entire life.  Whether traditional in the Turkish culture or just something Elif’s Dad wanted to know – that question said a lot about the quality of the relationship between that man and his daughter – and especially about the depth of his love for her.

It has been my privilege to get to know this young woman – and to love her as though she were my own daughter – which, of course, now she is!  It has been my joy to see my son and his wife together – the love they have for each other is as obvious as is, I hope, the love Mary and I have for each other.

My thanks and appreciation to all four of my family for loving me.


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grapes, wine, terrior, locally grown, relationships, Rosemont Winery of VAToday’s thoughts are all about wine.  Recently, we did a food/wine pairing at David’s – a local eatery in Roanoke Rapids.  Almost 50 of you kind souls turned out.  We had a wonderful time.  Of course – the excellent wine from Rosemont Winery in LaCrosse paired with the superb product of David’s kitchen did nothing to hurt the evening.

In this economy many are looking for value-priced wines.  But the wines Justin and his dad, Stephen Rose, are producing are quite elegant and are worth your time. They’re Bordeaux varietals which have been hardened by being grafted to some California systems then returned to the East coast.

You might not know a lot about producing wine.  I certainly did not.  The industry speaks of the terroir of the grape.  There is an article just published by the Wall Street Journal discussing the meaning of this French word in the context of its discussion of Chablis.  It means the environment in which the vine is growing.  The nutrients in the soil are directly responsible for some of the flavors the grapes develop.  There is a whole science around the notion that the flavor of the wine can be adjusted by changing the terroir.  Consequently, especially in Europe, nose, palate and finish of wines change neighborhood-by-neighborhood.  Some vintners grow grapes in the valley and also 1000 meters up the mountain.  The differing terroir as well as the changes in available sunlight change the flavor and intensity of the grape!

But the part I like best about wine is the friendships it engenders. I had met many of the guests at the tasting at Mary Sherwood Lake Living.  Now we are closer because we joined in the fun at David’s.

As a sidebar – my blog started as a discussion of what it’s like to work for my wife.  At the tasting she was at my side – lending 100% support.  There just can’t be anything better!  Mary and I frequently comment to each other about how lucky we are.  What a privilege – living and working at Lake Gaston to say nothing of working together every day!

So, does anyone out there have any experience they’d like to share regarding terroir?  Maybe you’ve travelled in Europe and can relate a particular distinction you found between two similar bottles.  Or maybe you’ve found a magic formula in working with your life partner – here at Lake Gaston – or elsewhere.

Categories : Paul's Rants
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