ABC News

Aug. 21st 2013


ABC Washington – WJLA Channel 7

Rebecca McDevitt and Jim

Our news piece aired tonight just before 6pm. I was able to catch it and it was very exciting to see!

Below is the link to the video so you can watch it as well!

Special Thank you!

To Rebecca McDevitt and Jim

for the wonderful story!

To see what people are saying about the piece

Facebook Link

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page!

You can also see what new people are saying about the ABC piece on their Facebook Fan Page!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 20 Comments »

We Never Do Anything Halfway at Belle Grove Plantation

Jun. 9th 2013

Yesterday was a great adventure! I was back in Chesapeake Friday night so we could head to Richmond on Saturday to meet with our design team. We decided to make a day of it and headed up Surry, Virginia to eat lunch at the Surrey House Restaurant and Inn. We have been following them on Facebook for awhile and have seen some of the awesome dishes they make.

Surrey House Restaurant and Inn

As soon as we sat down, Jennifer (one of the owners) pops out of the kitchen to say hello and asked about my finger. The restaurant is wonderful. They have such a “homey” feel when you come in. They have some sayings framed around the place and I loved the one that said:

“Unattended Children will be given Expresso with an Energy Drink and a Puppy.”

Lunch was great too! I started with something I have never had before but wanted to try – Virginia Peanut Soup. This area around Suffolk, Smithfield and Surry is a large producer of peanuts. And I have to tell you, I LOVE Peanut Butter. But the soup must be an acquired taste. The waitress asked me if I had ever had it before and I said no. So she suggested that I take a sample first. It was awesome! So I asked for a cup.

Surrey House Restaurant and Inn Virginia Peanut Soup

Surrey House Restaurant and Inn Virginia Peanut Soup

It was like drinking warm, liquid peanut butter! It is even had bits of peanuts in it. They served it with crackers which was just perfect! When I was young, my grandmother, Nannie, would always make me an afternoon snack of peanut butter on crackers. What a great memory it brought back! I tried very hard to get the recipe, but it is a closely guarded secret. (Time to start experimenting!)

Brett ordered a Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich and I got a Cheeseburger. Instead of fries, we both got an Apple Fritter. He had his without sugar, I had mine with sugar. They were heavenly! I could have made a meal of just them!

Chicken Cordon Bleu and Apple Fritters

Chicken Cordon Bleu and Apple Fritters

Cheese Burger and Apple Fritters

Cheese Burger and Apple Fritters

After we finished, we headed out to go to Richmond. Just as we started to pull out, Sam, Jennifer’s husband flagged us down to say good-bye. What a great couple! You must stop here and grab a bite! Make sure you say Belle Grove said “Hello!”

We arrived in Richmond at Gates Antiques for a day of reviewing and approving new purchases. It is such a “hard” thing to do… not! Here are some wonderful things we saw yesterday.

Federal Linen Press

Federal Linen Press

You  may remember this Federal Linen Press from a recent post. It was in pieces as they were working on making some repairs for us. Well, it’s done and will be making it’s way to Belle Grove on Monday!

English Slant Top Desk

English Slant Top Desk

They also have the English Slant Top Desk ready to head to Belle Grove!

Curving for Satee

They have started work on a Settee that we are planning on placing in the Grand Hallway upstairs. Look at this carving repair they have completed! It is hard to believe that it wasn’t part of the Settee to start with!

Early 1800s Sideboard

Early 1800s Sideboard

I finally got to see in person the Sideboard we picked for the Formal Dining Room!

It is very more beautiful in person than in the photographs!

Early 1800s Sideboard - details

Early 1800s Sideboard – details

Early 1800s Sideboard - The doors are curved!

Early 1800s Sideboard – The doors are curved!

Early 1800s Sideboard - Even the Key is cool!

Early 1800s Sideboard – Even the Key is cool!

Victorian Chairs

Victorian Chairs

We selected these two Victorian Chairs for the Parlor!

One has a Fruit Detail at the head and the other has a Rosewood Detail!



We also selected a matching Settee to go in the Grand Hallway downstairs! It looks allot like the one they just started working on, but has just a very differences. We won’t be using this leather covering. We are going to do both in a gold fabric with a diamond pattern and light blue accents in the fabric to match the wall color in the Grand Hallway.

Satee Details

Settee Details

You can see here that similarities with some of the carvings.

Satee Details

Settee Details

But this inlay is different on this one. It is in the head rail at the top.

Satee Details

Settee Details

And this carving in the foot rail.

Corner Cupboard

Corner Cupboard

We selected this Corner Cupboard for the Parlor too. Can you see the tea cup collection in this?

Egyptian Black Marble Serving Table

Egyptian Black Marble Serving Table

And of course the best for last!

This is the Egyptian Black Marble Serving Table that will go in the Parlor beside the Corner Cupboard.

Marble Table Detail

Marble Table Detail

The marble has white and gold veining in it! It is amazing!

We returned to Chesapeake last night completely happy with all the selecting and repairs being made!

Our design team is doing an awesome job and working very hard to get us ready to open soon!

This morning, I head back to Patients First here in Chesapeake to see my long time primary doctor, Dr. Mansfield. I have been seeing her for years now and its almost like seeing a friend when I come in. I wanted her to follow up on  my broken finger to make sure it was looking good. I had gotten a call just two days after my accident (three weeks ago) from Patient First telling me that it was in fact broken. They had advised me to go to an Orthopedic Surgeon to have it looked it. Thinking that it was just a hairline fracture, I declined the referral and said I would just splint it and watch it.

Thursday this week, I got a second follow-up call from Patient First. They again asked if I had gone to the Orthopedic Surgeon. I reminded them that I had declined, but then it got me to wondering why a second call. So I asked the nurse for a little more detail about the break. Come to find out, I didn’t have a hairline fracture. I had a compression fracture and she told me that I broke part of the finger tip off!

So today, I thought it wise to follow up with Dr. Mansfield to make sure I really don’t need to go. When she came into the room, she sat down and said that after reading the notes from the two follow-up calls, all she could say was, “That’s Michelle.” I guess you can say I get pretty involved in my own medical care. She had them take a second set of X-rays to review the finger.

Tip of my left ring finger X-ray

Tip of my left ring finger X-ray

After the X-rays came back, she said, “I have to say, you don’t do anything half way do you?” I kind of laughed and asked what the results were. She told me that I did have a compression fracture and that I did break the tip off. But that the break was in eight pieces!

Tip of my left ring finger X-ray - Detailed

Tip of my left ring finger X-ray – Detailed

Good news – I don’t have to go to an Orthopedic Surgeon! There is really nothing they can do but splint it and let it heal. She said it should heal nicely. The two cuts (one on top and one of the side) are healing good with no infections.

Bad news is that it is going to take longer to heal. But I have been using my hand and there really isn’t any pain unless I hit it or touch it. The splint is pretty much keeping it from that.

She did tell me that the reason they followed up twice was more because of the cuts. That it could have had some of the bone coming out! Yikes! But thankfully that didn’t happen either.

So splint, clean dressing and no dirt or water and I should be good. Typing has taken some getting use to, but its not really slowing me down.

I do want to thank everyone for the kind words and the gifts that I have gotten since it happened!

It means allot to me!

We have such great supporters!

Don’t forget our Virtual Housewarming Party


Help Us Stock Our Library!

Click below and read how you can help us and

become part of the history of James Madison’s Birthplace – Belle Grove Plantation!

Help Us Spread the Word!

Facebook Link

Like and Share Us on Facebook!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 34 Comments »

Tea Anyone?

Feb. 23rd 2013


Today, I had the chance to go back to Bacon’s Castle in Smithfield, Virginia to attend a wonderful Afternoon Tea with the Regency Society of Virginia. The Regency Society of Virginia is an organization for those who are fascinated by the British Regency and the corresponding American periods. They are a family-friendly, volunteer-run group whose goal is to continually grow in our knowledge of the years 1790-1820. Whether you are a Janeite, an English Country or Regency dancer, a re-enactor, a costume historian or lover of period dramas, The Regency Society of Virginia is a great place to be!



I received an invitation from my good friend and fellow blogger Dianna. Dianna has been with us almost from the beginning and has followed and supported us through this journey. She invited me early on to come to Smithfield, just about 45 minutes from our current home is Chesapeake to see her beloved Bacon’s Castle. This 1665 home located just outside of Smithfield is the only brick Jacobean home left in America. You can read more about his beautiful home by going to our “Year of the Virginia Historical Homes” Categories and finding it there.


We started our event with a wonderful history lesson in tea. Did you know that Afternoon Tea Events we have today is largely based on the Victorian Era? The Afternoon Tea came about after the time of dinner was expended to a later time. Most households would have a breakfast and then dinner. When dinner stated getting later and later, the ladies found that they would need something more than tea to get them to dinner. So Afternoon Teas were born.

In the early days of America, tea was a valuable import. It was so valuable that it would be locked up and the mistress of the house would be the only one holding the key! I guess that shows how serious the Colonist were when the threw the tea in to the Boston Harbor!


We dined on a wonderful plate of bits that were both beautiful and delicious. For our first course we were treated to two small tea sandwiches of egg salad and cucumber tea sandwiches, a bowl of asparagus soup (served cold), a small salad, lavender scones with strawberry preserves and fruit.

Cucumber Tea Sandwich

Cucumber Tea Sandwich

Egg Salad Tea Sandwich

Egg Salad Tea Sandwich

Lavender Scone

Lavender Scone


After this plentiful plate, we were served our second course of sweet delights! Sweet muffins of apple and lemon poppy seed, vanilla shortbread and a coconut meringue cookie. With smartly dressed Society Ladies as our tea companions, there was a good time had by all!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin

Apple Muffin

Apple Muffin

Coconut Meringue

Coconut Meringue




After our Tea, we enjoyed a tour of this historic home. As my tour companion, Dianna gave us a deeper understanding our this home. Her family once owned it! Her mother was born and raised here! How lucky to have such history in ones family.


If you would like to see this beautiful home, it will reopen for the Spring and Summer Season in March. Please visit their website at


If you would like too learn more about the Regency Society or would like to have these wonderful ladies and gentlemen help you make your next tea or picnic event something really special, please visit their Facebook Fan Page at


Get your Regency Dress Ready! Belle Grove Plantation will be hosting a Tea or Picnic Event soon!

To see more pictures of Belle Grove

Please visit our Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Link

Please Like Us and Share Us!

We are very close to 1000 Likes!

Just a Little Something to Make Your Mouth Water

Sep. 5th 2012

I made a new recipe tonight!

Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast

with Honey Butter

Is Your Mouth Watering Yet?

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 73 Comments »

Sunday Good Eats

Jul. 15th 2012

After a busy day of shopping for antiques, what do you do?

Come home and make two new recipes!

Mediterranean Style Bruschetta

We are going to use this recipe in a smaller bite size for our Wine and Cheese Reception.

Deep Dish Apple Pie

I made this a little different. I added a taste of orange to give the pie a more fruity taste.

We can add this to the Sunday Brunch Menu.

It must have been good. Brett ate two pieces!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 59 Comments »