This is just a quick post and announcement to say this blog will be operating on a loose schedule through May so time and attention can be given to completing a website update + new designs and my son’s graduation from college, with family coming in town.
Most people will say as they get older, or as their children get older, or as their wedding anniversaries fly by, “where did the time go?!” Well it’s true. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. My husband and I celebrated our wedding 28th anniversary recently and have discovered what has become a somewhat traditional way for us to celebrate.
We had dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. We’re lucky we can just walk down the street to Vermilion. This is particularly beneficial after a full Tasting Menu with wine pairings for each course. The dinner was delicious, as it never disappoints! I wish I had taken more pictures, especially of the black gnocchi which was divine, but after cocktails, champagne and the first wine, I wasn’t thinking any longer of taking pictures — just immersed in the moment of pure dining pleasure — as it should be.
Artistic plating with a swish! These are our appetizers.
The service was exceptional, especially since I mentioned it being our wedding anniversary. Word spread from the bartender, where we had Vieux Carré cocktails in the lounge to start, to our waiter, who greeted us with a glass of sparkling champagne. It was an exceptional evening! And even though I may not remember the meal exactly as time meanders on, I have our menu to remind us of what a good meal it was.
Since this was our second wedding anniversary to celebrate this year, we also went to a relatively new restaurant, called Lapis. It’s located where the old Napoleon restaurant was in Adams Morgan. Peter and I had a fabulous tasting meal there too. We contemplated going to dance it off at the Black Cat because it was 80’s music but after walking the 18 blocks there, we felt like we got our exercise and would save our dancing for next month.
3. If you have nothing better to do on April 26th, here’s an interesting Christie’s auction to look forward to snagging some historically prestigious trompe l’oeil panels.
The panels are painted by Martin Battersby for Lady Diana Cooper, who sounds like she was a rebel rouser.
martin-battersby-1914-1982-pleasures-of-life via Christie’s
4. I am very excited to learn there will be a sequel to the movie Finding Nemo, called Finding Dory, coming out this June.
I have 2 Clown Fish in my tank due to the first movie and because they are very hearty fish. No telling what I’ll get next. 😉
I’ll take this opportunity to mention that in the midst of my Month of Celebrations, sadly, I lost the very first fish in our salt-water tank, my Cardinalfish (Banggai). He was 5 years old. They normally last only 4 years in a tank and maybe 2 years in the wild. His demise is still somewhat of a mystery in that he had symptoms that none of the other fish had with a what looked like a white bulbous tumor under but partly visible from his right gill. He had progressive fin and tail rot that I hadn’t noticed until it appeared too late. This is normally a sign of bad water conditions but I change the tank regularly, check the chems and this did not seem to be the case. I did a little research (WebMD for fish) and found that many owners of this type of fish had similar symptoms. It could have been related to food and a virus that was affecting those in captivity. I can’t say for certain but since the frozen brine shrimp I was using is from China (as is most things these days) and even though, it says free of bacteria and diseases, do we really know for sure or if this is even regulated there? Perhaps it transported the virus that infects only this type of fish. Evidently they are now hard to come by because they have been over-fished for aquariums and the disease has affected so many.
It was very sad to see him wither away because he got to the point where he could not swim and the other fish were picking on him. At one point he appeared to be getting better with the antibiotics I was treating him and the tank with to also proactively protect the other fish; although it only seemed that the Cardinalfish was prone to this disease. When the medicine was finished and it was time to do my weekly water change he rapidly declined. He’s buried in the Memory Garden with very healthy plants due to the other fish buried nearby.
He was a very pretty and fast swimming fish with striking markings. He often outwitted the other fish getting prime food morsels before they could. He’d often break dried shrimp pellets apart spit them out for others to eat along with him.
Going back to The Soul of an Octopus, even fish have a personality and he had a good one. I’ll miss him but he brought a lot of joy.
I’ve just backed Rafael Araujo’s Kickstarter project to bring his beautiful architectural illustrations to light in an adult coloring book. Araujo is a Venezuelan architect in Caracas, who’s been using the Fibonacci Sequence or Golden Ratio for over 40 years to create his artwork.
Rafael Araujo at work
The Golden Ratio uses “Phyllotaxis,” which is the tendency in nature for things to grow in spiral patterns. This concept can be seen in mathematically sequenced spirals in seashells and butterflies — two of my favorite things — among many other elements that are found in Nature.
He’s left all the mathematical plotting points intact to show the diagram of the object he’s illustrating, similar to Leonardi’s famous image of the Vitruvian man, which in this case also shows how the circle and the Golden Ratio Rectangle come together.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man via Stanford University
Araujo’s shells using the Golden Ratio
Blue Morpho Butterflies in flight by Rafael Araujo
I’m loving this coloring book because it epitomizes the apex of where art and science come together. I’m excited to receive one but more importantly, I’m very happy, Mr. Araujo and his printers have already reached their fundraising goal. I’m just pleased to be a part of the effort to bring his exceptional art to others. You can still be a part of the effort too until April 27th, so get on board and surf the Golden Ratio wave!
In the spirit of energy and renewal, this is quick post as we get ready for our annual Easter Brunch, to show solidarity with the Belgium people. The world has come together, yet again, to express their sympathy and support after the latest terrorists attacks.
It is a sad coincidence that as I wrote my blog post last week, the remaining terrorist in the Paris attacks had been caught in Belgium. I noted that I hoped this victory would give the French and other nations information to prevent future attacks. Tragically in just a week’s time, in between the writing of the last post and this, another horrific terrorist crime has occurred. More innocent people are dead and countries, particularly Europe is on high alert. In the midst of this wake, I’m more encouraged by the unification around the world expressing solidarity with Belgium and efforts to fight terrorism.
via Washington Post
This image spoke a message about the human spirit — free and defiant, not afraid to gather, called into action, paying respects to the lives of the dead, offering hopes and prayers for their families and the future.
Thinking about the book Big Magic’s concept that the idea is powerful and can be realized by those who think and act upon it, collectively as more people embrace prayer and thoughts for hope, I believe we can win this war.
Human + Butterfly merge
The butterflies are symbolic for God’s miracles, transformation, and rebirth. They indicate for me that peace will come.
Butterflies are free and in some ways represent transcendence from constraints and this world. Hopefully you’ll see why I like butterflies.
My husband and I were excited to be invited as guests to attend the annual Prevent Cancer Gala, held at the National Building Museum. Peter’s Committee Chairman, Congressman Fred Upton and colleague Diana DeGette were the honorees for their tireless efforts to introduce and push legislation through Congress to help find, fund and speed the process for 21st Century Cures for today’s illnesses.
Organization President and Founder and event Chair, Carolyn Aldigé, Congressman Fred Upton and wife Amey
The theme was La Vie En Rose, which was fitting in light of the Paris terrorist attacks that linger in our collective consciousness. In fact, as I write this post, the remaining terrorist has just been caught in his hometown in Brussels. I hope the French get the information they need and that will help protect other countries from terrorist activities.
BizzBash rates the gala as one of Washington’s top events in 2014. It was definitely decorated to the nines, complete with a huge Eiffel Tower replica at the bar with bartenders in berets serving French 75 champagne cocktails. Other French flair attributes included: cabaret dancers, antiqued-mirrored rectangular tables, beautiful floral bouquets of spring flowers in tall vases and individually set en masse down the center of the table. The food was delicious and typically French: bouillabaisse with mussels (my favorite) in a saffron aioli, charred beef tenderloin in red wine jus and cauliflower puree, poirier (pear) au chocolat (chocolate sponge cake with Poire William ice cream) and a demitasse café or tea with macaroons, cappuncino eclairs and almond madeleines. Surprisingly, this was not all that filing.
Photo by Alfredo Flores. 22nd Annual Prevent Cancer Spring Gala. National Building Museum. March 11, 2016
French 75 via Gin Foundry
I wish I had taken pictures but unfortunately I got so caught up in having a good time that it was not on my radar, except for the first floor shot above. We dress up so infrequently in ballroom attire — long dress and tux — that it would have been nice to document. Dommage!Tant pis, pour les temps prochain!
The French Ambassador spoke. Andrea Roane, our local news anchor was the MC and the most clever method was used for their fundraising. Upon arriving, guests registered their cell phone and credit card with a bevy of young staffers inputting all this info on laptop computers. Guests were then sent a link on their phones to download the Prevent Cancer Org app. There was a floor auction in the bar area that could also be bid online and during the meal. This raised 1 million dollars! Another $40,000 in cash donations was raised during the evening from guests giving any increment using the app and their name would be displayed on the large teleprompters that were conveniently located on either side of the room. These really helped everyone see and hear the speakers as well as stay informed about the fundraising, which cleverly became a competition with those who gave not only pressing others to donate with their names flashing for all to see but anyone who contributed was handed a flashing necklace. You wouldn’t want to be caught without one. Smart!!
Table arrangement. Photo by Josh Hartman
The most impressive thing, however, remains what this organization does with all the dollars it receives.
This is a quick update. “Who” knew Roger Daltrey of The Who fame, would be involved in the 21st Century Cures regarding his effort with childhood cancers through Teen Cancer America, the organization he founded with Pete Townsand. This can be viewed via the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing just yesterday.
This has been quite a month of celebrations, so much so that I haven’t had a lot of time to document but here it goes — in bullet formation.
• January – a Birthday is always great when it happens to land on a long holiday weekend, as my husband’s does with Martin Luther King Day. We took advantage when taking our son back to UVA for his final semester. We had recently discovered a new place, where we’ll be staying in May, and decided to test it out by staying over a night before heading back to DC. What a great decision! Shenandoah Crossing, in Gordonsville is a part of the BlueGreen Resorts and lives up to its promise of high style glamping. Although we stayed in the lodge during this cold, winter visit, we’ll be staying in a yurt and a 3-bedroom cabin with extended family later this spring.
Shenandoah Crossing Lodge
Clever way to display framed pictures in the room
The Lodge Restaurant
Shenandoah Crossing Yurt
• February –Valentine’s Day is one that we don’t usually celebrate but this time it fell on a Sunday and luckily Monday was a holiday — Presidents’ Day. Yippie, we could actually enjoy the Wine Bars with the wine pairing I had planned in advance because this day didn’t fall on a work / week day or break our vow to give up drinking during Lent, which we sacrifice — except for the weekends.
The only problem to the way the evening ended was pretty humorous, actually. Peter normally cooks melt-in-your-mouth steaks. For some reason, the ones we got from Whole Foods maybe had more fat than normal? Not sure but when flash pan-frying, they created so much smoke that the fire alarm went off. It wouldn’t have been a problem normally but since we’ve “upgraded” to a digital phone service, the alarm folks couldn’t get through the home phone to reach us as the alarm had hijacked the phone system with blasted warnings, “FIRE ALARM, leave the premises immediately!!” Well, the fire truck made it to our house before we could alert ADT to stop them — can only go through their 1-800 number. OK, as if this wasn’t embarrassing enough on a street with close-knit neighbors. The fire alarm went off again and guess what, yep, the fire truck paid us another visit. Crap! Lesson learned, we changed the phone alert pathway and at least we didn’t get charged. At this point, more wine and chocolate pairing was the best plan.
• February – a Birthday is always great when it starts with a Friday. Actually my celebration started a few days before, on Wednesday, when we went to listen to Big Sam’s Funk Nation at Gypsy Sally’s. What fun!! I always get excited when I see bands from my hometown playing. This big brass New Orleans band with the lead singer, Big Sam Williams, gives a jiving, “urban funk” performance that just gets you up off your feet. He’s the former trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The 8 Ohms Band started the set and gave a great foot-stomping performance and certainly prepped the crowd for Big Sam, who came out and played a song before intermission.
8 Ohms Band
On Friday, my real birthday, my good friend Liza had these gorgeous flowers delivered. My other good girlfriend, Marty, delivered her famous individual size coffee cake. Soooo nice! Sometimes, I get so busy, I forget my birthday. This wasn’t a big year and still people remembered.
These look so lovely with the portrait that was retrieved from my Aunt Katherine’s painting stash.
Relatives sent cards and my wonderful in-laws really surprised me with with beautiful vintage style, mother-of-pearl handle, double-blade, Congress Muskrat, pocket knife from A.G. Russell. There will be all sorts of uses for this beyond what I might know. I just have to remember to remove it before traveling on a plane.
We topped off the evening with a fun night of pool at No. 9 Lounge (above the Majestic Lounge) at Evening Star Cafe. This is a somewhat hidden spot upstairs for pool, beer, meeting new pool buddies, listening to cool tunes and eating scrumptious food. I loved my cream of cauliflower soup with raisins. I need to get that recipe!
Unfortunately I couldn’t find a recent picture with the pool table in the far back (via Biz Bash)
Afterwards, we saw 13 Hours at the movie theater, which we rarely do these days but this is big screen worthy, as is The Revenant, The Martian and the latest Star Wars, all of which we’ve bucked up to see on the big screen. The movie tempered the mood but was well worth seeing. In fact, if everyone saw it, they would certainly question those publicly conveyed chain of events and the government’s role in them. Makes you think, if only….!
• A Leap Year Anniversary — that comes every 4 years, gives us two times to celebrate in one year. This is our 7th special anniversary and we celebrated it at Magnolia’s On King, a relatively new Southern style restaurant that gets it right. We started out with the appetizers I love to have each time I’ve gone, stuffed dates with blue cheese and wrapped with bacon. Mouth-watering good! I’m using for our Easter Brunch! I had the best meal. Evidently, we lucked out because our celebratory night was on Monday — Gumbo Night. Wow! Excellent! A larger meal than Peter’s and just the right amount of spice.
The best part was heading upstairs to the Palm Lounge. It reminds me so much of New Orleans with the exposed brick wall, deep red walls brightened by firelight and rattan ceiling fans that I’ll go back to see in action when it gets warmer out. Tyler, the welcoming and talented bearded bartender, was willing to create a drink of our choice as long as he had the base to work with. We asked him about amaros and he said he was really liking Caramaro right now. Well, it’s one of my favorites so I asked him to please make a drink with it. This is the divine delicacy that he crafted with 1/2 oz gin (that I normally don’t drink), topped with egg white (Ramos Gin Fizz style) and a spritz of Angostura bitters.
Specially concocted Cardamaro Sour at Magnolia’s
I can’t think of a better way to end the month, except, we may continue the celebration. We learned from our friendly bartender about Captain Gregory’s, a new (but not so) secret speakeasy to try, “a hole in the wall” inside the Sugar Shack Doughnut (hole) Shop, of all places. Looking forward to continuing new discoveries into March… 😉
Full disclosure, this is not the post I had in mind to write. I had started another one but it will take more time and I’m already behind. Besides, this one will relate to it — after the fact — and it’s timely to make the Love Connection with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.
I’ve never been a big Valentine’s fan because I’m one of those who believes it’s a made up “Hallmark” celebration to drive sales for certain items, like cards, chocolates, flowers, restaurants and even hotels, among other things. It’s quite a marketer’s dream — for this day in age. However, it does have significant history and pretty gruesome at that. Not only going back to St. Valentine, who was supposedly martyred because he denounced Emperor Claudius’ ruling in the 3rd century that forbade young single men from marrying because they should become soldiers instead. Valentine continued to perform marriages and Claudius had him put to death but another theory suggests he was killed because he may have helped Christians escape harsh Roman torture during their imprisonment. Prior to this, the holiday has it roots in even bloodier pagan rituals that you can read more about here.
In light of this, I like the fact that it is now known for love letters and such. Every now and then I’m willing to comply with the tradition. I just purchased some of my favorite artisan chocolates from Fleurir, a local hand-made chocolatier.
via Energy of the City
We had Fleurir chocolates put in the welcome bags for out-of-town guest over a year ago for my son’s wedding and I’ve been purchasing them ever since. They are constantly coming up with something new. The latest is their Wine Bar. I also gave this to my son and daughter-in-law for their first year wedding anniversary (in a brown bag, which is the traditional first year anniversary gift). Now it’s time for Peter and me to sample ourselves and this time the wine pairings will come with it. Here’s a little more about the Fleurir story and one of their famous chocolate recipes to boot!
If I didn’t have so much King Cake left over from Mardi Gras this past Fat Tuesday, I’d be making these chocolates right now.
I’m still coming down from Tuesday’s fun celebration with my book group ladies, as I just happened to be assigned this day to host. It was fun and even the prep was engaging because I planned ahead and didn’t rush it. I made jambalaya the day before, so the flavors would set in, and the famous Chef Susan Spicer’s Bayona’s Pecans the weekend before. Both of these packed a nice New Orleans savory (and sweet) spicy punch. I also prepared most of the “confetti” salad (simply thrown together peas, corn, some chopped tomatoes and scallions and a little salt and pepper) beforehand, adding the chopped steamed beets (that I did ahead) at the last minute. Luckily, the recipe for the wonderful roasted spiced chickpeas that I first had at Blue Jacket came to me in the Washington Post Food section the week before. Blue Jacket is a relatively new restaurant (2 years) in the up and coming Capitol Riverfront district. It happens to be owned by The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, in which a childhood camp friend is one of the initial founders and part owner. She’s from New Orleans too. Small world that it may be.
via Washington Post
My group celebrated the seasonal holiday with all this good food, assorted wines and Abita beer, of course. We capped it off with King Cake shipped from Caluda’s (Nanny Randazzo’s ex-wife, Dianne’s recipe, btw, but she had to change the name. Hers is just as good and no wait or exorbitant cost) and a little Cardamaro to finish.
The whole delicious cake looked much like Antoine’s version below with the white icing but extra moist, stuffed with cream cheese and dutch apple filling. Scrumptious and some of the best I’ve had! This is the second year I’ve ordered and may make it a tradition. Gambino’s, for the record, the bakery I grew up on, has the best Russian and Doberge cakes, so have to give them and Haydel’s, another old-time favorite, some credit.
via Times Picayune
Sorry I forgot to take my own pictures of the meal. Needless to say, it was a fun Fat Tuesday book discussion, but more on that later.
‘Til then, Happy Valentine’s Day and hope you enjoy yours with your love connection.
Just as the snow from our Snowzilla Blizzard is melting, I read about another type of “big,” snow-related, glacier event (see below). But first, the blizzard snow was beautiful while it lasted. It was especially nice to shut everything down. Everyone enjoyed the welcomed break.
We visited with friends and walked back to take this picture. Although it was 3 am, it could have been any time of the day with everyone hunkering down indoors.
Snow covered street with no cars = beautiful
No where to go but stay inside
Ingmar our cat enjoys the view from the warmth
Just as our snow is melting, there is other news about recently restored murals depicting scenes from Glacier Park.
Joe Abbrescia Grinnell restores a Glacier Lake mural. Photo by Patrick Cote Dill via Hockaday Museum
This shows the large size of the panels via Hockaday Musem
There were originally 51 murals that were commissioned to be painted as large watercolor panels with water-based tempera on canvas and displayed for all visitors to view in the Glacier Park Lodge in 1939. However their recorded history leaves the artist as unknown.
Unfortunately, only 15 have survived. The lodge was restored in the 1950s and the murals no longer fit the decor theme so they were cut from their mountings, rolled up and thrown away! Hard to believe!
Fortunately, 15 of the canvases were saved by Leona and Robert Brown in their East Glacier home and passed down to their granddaughter, Leanne and her husband, Alan Goldhahn. They donated the murals to the Hockaday Museum in 2012. Through the Goldhahn’s generous efforts the murals have been fully restored and are now on display again and serve as a wonderful memory to Leona & Robert Brown, who had the vision to save them in the first place.
Glacier Park Murals 1 via Independent Record helenair.com
Glacier Park Murals 2 via Independent Record helenair.com
Glacier Park is truly a stunning place. It stood out among the national parks that we visited during a family road trip across the country around 1975. These gorgeous murals are making me want to return.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 10 on the list but realize my travel days are just beginning after seeing these and what about outside of the States?! I’m just wondering if I have enough time to fit it all in?