What the Doctor Ordered

A RHode Island Getaway

Now that I’m better and coming off my sick-leave, I had an opportunity to travel for an impromptu getaway to Rhode Island to visit family. It seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. It also seems like I’m not ready to give up the beach combing yet — just because it’s no longer summer.

It was right after the big marketing push for announcing new designs so I knew there would still be some work to do but I relished the opportunity to relax. We had Hurricane Matthew that is brewing in the tropics on our tail. We survived a harrowing drive all night in the rain where people were using their hazards because it was so difficult to see and trucks were spaying us with tire-mist and constantly coming in our lane.

Fortunately, my husband did all the driving and made reservations at a boutique hotel in Connecticut, just outside of New York City, right off the Merritt Parkway. This meant we only had 3 more hours to drive to RI and hopefully the morning would be better.

Don’t let the name or stark location fool you but the Hi-Ho is a pretty cool place, boutique indeed with its 70’s retro styling and Andy Warhol prints and Palomino pillows in the bedrooms. Old-fashioned phones and red high-top tables set the contemporary breakfast room decor. We had one of the best continental breakfasts with one of the staff making sure everything was fresh and filled and greeting all the guests warmly.

Hi-Ho Hotel on Art Is Everywhere Hi-Ho Hotel bedroom on Art Is Everywhere

hi-ho-bathroom-feature-wall_on Art Is Everywhere

Like this one wallpapered feature wall.

There was an interesting Barcelona wine bar/ restaurant to try that was attached to the hotel but we weren’t staying for dinner. We’ll have to go back! As it turns out, I believe this  is a chain restaurant and each location may make their own unique adaptations. At least when we want our Spanish-fare fix, we can go a little closer to us in Reston, VA, but may not be as good. The one at the Hi-Ho has cabanas and their own vegetable garden and their award-winning food looks exceptional. Another reason to go back. In fact, this may be our regular pit-stop on our way to RI. I’m glad we discovered it!

hi-ho-barcelona restaurant on Art Is Everywhere

Beach + Food + Family

We weren’t expecting the weather in RI to be in the 50’s! We mostly brought short-sleeved tops but layering with sweaters and jackets kept us warm while we attempted to catch fish in the surf. Although our luck wasn’t good, the striped bass were biting as others were more lucky catching them on the beach (and throwing them back).

We tried some new places for food, like 210 Oyster Bar & Grill as well as some old favorites, like Haversham Restaurant & Tavern right off Post Road (road to the beaches).

two-ten-oyster-bar_AIE

210-oyster-bar-inside on AIE

Where we ate inside overlooking Salt Pond

210-oyster-bar-aerial on Art Is Everywhere

210-oyster-bar-outside-front on Art Is Everywhere

Front “tiki” bar to try in the summer

clam-cakes_on Art Is Everywhere

Clam Cakes!

haversham-restaurant-exterior_aie

“The Sham” as locals affectionately call it

haversham-restaurant-interior_aie haversham-about_aie

We were happy to have clam cakes in the off-season and see Green Hill in a peaceful state as all the transplanted vacationers had mostly packed up for the summer and had gone back to their other New England homes. The residents, however, and those who have long-time connections to the area were enjoying the calm. Everyone was friendly and was waving hello as almost a code that suggested we all have something in common for being here.

Here are some of the photos from our trip. Our (left) side of the beach had all the sand this time but this will change as the currents shifts from year to year.

Our sandy left side of Green Hill beach_AIE

Our sandy left side of the beach

green-hill-rocky-right-side_aie

The other — rocky and seaweed right side. Our beach usually looks like this.

Notice this change as you turn the corner on AIE

You notice this change as you turn the corner. (Photo Credit – The Rev. Peter Spencer)

Algae covered rocks on AIE

Algae covered rocks (at low tide) harbor lots of wildlife

mussels-and-snails on Art Is Everywhere

Mussels and Snails

One of our favorite days was the very last, when we spent time walking in the Trustom Pond Wildlife Refuge. It’s right next door to these beach properties, which is wonderful that is protected from being developed and serves as a safe haven for many wildlife. In the summer, a big part of the beach is closed off in an attempt to protect the nesting grounds of the piping plover.

Trustom Pond on Art Is Everywhere

Right as we started walking on the first path by the field that leads you to the pond, we saw a bobcat — first time! Initially we thought it was a dog. It was sitting on the path looking at something (probably for dinner) in the clearing. Another couple coming our way walked around the corner and scared it but didn’t even realize it was a bobcat. They thought the strap on our binoculars was a leash and therein the bobcat was a dog. It simply turned around and walked into the woods. It was not very afraid but we picked up a large stick as we continued on our way.

One of our favorite spots walking back is the lily pad pod. This is where Peter caught a bullfrog and pretended to kiss it when our boys were younger. They were grossed out!

lily-pad-pond on Art Is Everywhere

Frogs are everywhere on AIE

Frogs are everywhere you look

Frogs are everywhere 2 on Art Is Everwhere

This time, we saw a beaver!

See the beaver in trustom pond on AIE

See the beaver?!

The pictures reflect for me the magic a much-needed break can bring. Getting back to Nature, sharing meals and the importance of spending quality time with family all leave lasting, life-sustaining memories.

Beautiful Skylit Boulders on Art Is Everwhere

Beautiful Skylit Boulders

Pear cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden to share on AIE

We shared our pear-shaped cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden.

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on window on AIE

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on the beach house window

Pics Appear as Paintings

After Vacation

If you’re like me, returning from vacation and going “back-to-school” this week is HARD! ;(

I so want the beach-living-life and living-in-the-moment with little to do to continue. If only I didn’t have to work….

Although our vacation was cut short by tropical storm Hermine, we had the most glorious weather for a 2 week getaway. I can’t complain that we were evacuated and caught one of the last ferries to Hatteras during the only day of rain.

Beach Sunset Ocracoke_AIE

Pics Appear as Paintings

Upon returning, I have tons of photos to organize and delete from my phone due to lack of storage. Yes, I cursed Apple and thought of that new Google phone advertisement that uses other phones’ “storage full” alerts just as you’re trying to get that single moment captured. It’s happened to me more than once! Just like the yeti crossing the forest, I almost didn’t get this picture of the Pamlico Sound on the most calm and perfect-beach-day, right before the storm and look what showed up!

Dolphin in Pamlico Sound_AIE

A shark in the water!

Actually, it’s a bottle-nosed dolphin, and not a shark but sure spooked me at first, especially after thinking about the many shark bites that have occurred in the Outerbanks in waist deep water, as I’m fishing in waist deep water. I’m used to seeing dolphin in the ocean, beyond the surf but still in moving water with waves. This is why I was surprised to see this one swimming with its mate in great arks while blowing water out their spouts, as they serenely swam from the sound at North Point, where the calm waters meet the rough Atlantic waves. I tried to capture this but alas, I really needed something better than an iPhone. If you look beyond the waves, you can see how calm the water was in the sound.

North Point Ocracoke_AIE

What I really wished I had was one of these fairly new photo apps that adds filters to your photos to make your pics appear as paintings. NPR questions whether it is “art”? Photography is an art form and choosing how to display one’s photograph adds to that description. They are not real paintings however and should not be misrepresented as such.

I personally don’t think anyone is doing that but instead sharing on various social media networks, for which they are meant.

Prisma translates your photos into various styles and those used by famous artists and Artisto works similarly for videos.

I loved these two examples, one of Venice, my favorite Italian city, and the NPR building, in DC, using Prisma’s appropriately named “wave” app for this post.

Venice Prisma App_pic as painting_AIE

NPR building with Prisma Wave app pic as painting_AIE

I have a lot more photos to share but want to try these apps first.

Kayaks Ocracoke_AIE

We kayaked to Teach’s Cove where Blackbeard hid but was caught and supposedly beheaded at this Springer’s Point Beach. The pathway through the woods is beautiful and creepy — what I call American Gothic and very True Detective-like.

Kayaks with Running the Storm Prisma app filter_AIE

Kayaks with the “Running the Storm” filter using the Prisma app

In the meantime, I’ve spread out all my collected shell treasures so I can make a wreath or something to visually enjoy rather than just adding them to storage.

Beautiful White Shells_AIE

Beautiful White Shells via Dinner en Blanc

Finally, I’ll end this post by relaying a funny story about one of our last nights in Ocracoke when we closed down Zillies while waiting in between bands of rain from the first tropical depression that threatened to evacuate us but fortunately, petered out. It was a good excuse, however, for more rounds. We met two NOAH researchers, who were there working on excavating the many shipwrecks off the coast. They recently discovered a German U-boat that they had been searching for for 8 years! I asked them when is the PBS documentary going to be aired? They weren’t too sure on that but did mention a story that was due to publish in the Washington Post the Sunday after we returned. Then they asked us, “What does one do for 2 weeks on Ocracoke?” That was an easy answer, “live in the moment” and enjoy the many different surprises this island always delights us with. This year it was Dajio’s for breakfast, shrimp fest and pizza and ghosts! (another story), as well as listening to new live music, like Barefoot Wade. He can do a mean island-man Led Zepplin and Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustic all with guitar and steel drums! Who knew? Here’s his Lets Slowdown as reminder to the hectic fall ahead. (Ocracoke is so hippy, but I love it!) 😉

When we returned, and finally went through the huge mounds of mail back home, we were lucky that I decided to restart the paper early. The article published on Thursday, the official non-resident evacuation day — the day described at the start of this post. We left the next morning since we weren’t being run out and enjoyed one last night in what I think was a haunted house, complete with a friendly-spirit, river-mink that visited us and had a beautiful sunset off the deck. Although, not the same as the Blue House, which we had to move from the second week, it was lovely in an odd, mid-century, kind of way.

Sunset at Faraway Oaks in Ocracoke, NC_AIE

Sunset at Faraway Oaks in Ocracoke, NC

Reflecting on my reply to the NOAH guys, one of whom I had seen several times over the years (Ocracoke is a small enough place for this to occur and start to get to know locals), it would be nearly impossible for me to live there and have to do work. There are just too many temptations to enjoy. I realize I gave them an answer that really doesn’t apply to their situation. Oh well, I hope I see them next year, as they mentioned they were parked by the island cemetery and I relayed the story about how our friend’s bike lights just randomly went out while riding by there and then he heard really strange sounds that weren’t just the wandering wild chickens. His cute but chatterbox 6-year-old son suddenly got verrrrry quiet, bringing his father a bit of eerie relief. The NOAH guys laughed and hesitantly said “no,” they didn’t need a “walk home” (– to their car) when I offered jokingly. Fortunately, we were biking home but in the rain and laughing all the way. This is when I wish someone had gotten a picture. Fun times I won’t forget.

The wooded path at Springer's Point Ocracoke_AIE

The wooded path at Springer’s Point, where ghosts have been seen.

Springer's Point path into the Ocracoke woods_ AIE

Springer’s Point path into the Ocracoke woods

single-grave-in-cemetary-in-woods

Graves in the wooded cemetery & single flower carefully placed

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Getting Your Southern Fare Fix

Before vacationing in Ocracoke, North Carolina, we tried out the new Hen Quarter restaurant, in Alexandria. It took over the old Austin Grill but is managed by the same owners with this new Southern cuisine concept. It’s a way to get your Southern fare fix, complete with porkbelly pops, down-home collard greens, fried chicken and some of the best fritter waffles you’ll ever taste and a very smooth-balanced mint julep. Now that’s something coming from a native New Orleanian and still one at heart!

Love their décor and their Southern phrases and charm:

“You’re like the butter to our biscuits…

…and whiskey that warms the heart”

and wouldn’t be the South without the, “Bless your heart” sign hanging.

fried chicken and biscuits_hen quarter_AIE

Classic Southern Biscuits and Fried Chicken

Belly pops prep_Hen Quarter_AIE

How they make their Belly Pops

Belly Pops as appetizers_hen quarter_AIE

Pop ’em in – porkbelly pops melt in your mouth

Here’s the play-by-play video with some good Southern, bluesy music too!

Egg Basket lighting_hen quarter_AIE

Egg Basket lighting that I’ll have to make someday. Love this idea!

Hen Quarter upstairs decor_AIE

Hen Quarter upstairs décor with wood plank walls that kinda remind me of….

Hole in the wall entrance at Captain Gregorys on AIE

You guessed it. It’s a hole in the wall entrance. The flag is the “doorbell”

Now we’re back to thinking of  mint juleps and….

Bourbon flight_hen quarter_AIE

Bourbon flight but where’s the Pappy?

“Free Range Cocktails” (Hen Quarter’s slogan)

…but looking forward now to some much-needed relaxing days while waiting for the green flash at sunset. We haven’t seen it yet but keep hoping!

Pre sunset porch time_AIE

Pre sunset porch time

Sailboat view from dock on AIE

Sailboat view from dock

End of day starting on AIE

Sun Rays – End of day starting

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette on AIE

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette in Pamlico Sound

Ahhh, summer and cicadas, don’t want it to end…

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A Month of Celebrations

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.

BlueGreen Shenandoah Crossing Lodge_Art Is Everywhere

Shenandoah Crossing Lodge

Shenandoah Crossing room decor_Art Is Everywhere

Clever way to display framed pictures in the room

Shenandoah Crossing Lodge Restaurant_Art Is Everywhere

The Lodge Restaurant

Shenandoah Crossing Yurt_Art Is Everywhere

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.

I had picked up the Wine Bars from Fleurir and what a wonderful pairing it was. I never knew chocolate could make wine taste so much better and vise versa. I’ve already given these as a first year anniversary present to my son and his wife as well as good friend who shares the same birth month, but I had never tried them myself.

Fleurir Wine Bars_Art Is Everywhere

Fleurir Wine Bars – photo by Hannah Hudson

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_Art Is Everywhere

8 Ohms Band

8 Ohms 2_Art Is Everywhere 8 Ohms 3_Art Is Everywhere

Sams Big Funk Nation_Art Is EverywhereOn 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.

Beautiful Birthday Flowers_Art Is Everywhere

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.

A.G. Russell Pocket Knife_Art Is EverywhereWe 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!

No 9 Lounge Evening Star Cafe_Art Is Everywhere

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.

Magnolias Stuffed Dates_Art Is EverywhereThe 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 Cardamarro Sour at Magnolia's_Art Is Everywhere

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… 😉

Hint - Capture the Flag_Captain Gregory's_ Art Is Everywhere

Hint – Capture the Flag

Merry Christmas from the City of Lights

Picking up from my last post, my husband had a lot more pictures while at the COP21 Conference in Paris.

I thought they would be worth sharing in a post to express a Merry Christmas from the City of Lights.

In Paris COP21 country flag columns on Art Is Everywhere

Country flags decorate COP21 conference columns.

Trees and green projection at COP21 conference in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

Could this be Obscura Digital with the Racing Extinction folks projecting green and trees onto conference buildings?

Torch-like street lights make the streets festive in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

Torch-like street lights make the streets festive.

This is a crazy street scene, typical of driving in Paris. I’m not sure how it was filmed. Where’s the median?

 

Polar bear window display in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

Window displays simply and beautifully celebrate the winter holiday season…

Fashionable window display in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

… and dressing up…

Christmas display in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

… and Christmas

Notre Dame at night on Art Is Everywhere

Notre Dame at night is breathtaking with its intricate architecture.

Side view of Notre Dame at night on Art Is Everywhere

On the Seine on Art Is Everywhere

Along the Seine

Church facade in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

Church facade

Hector Guimaud's famous Metropolitan Metro entrance in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

Hector Guimaud’s famous Metropolitan Metro entrance

Montmartre on Art Is Everywhere

Montmartre

Beautiful mosaics inside Montmartre on Art Is Everywhere

Beautiful mosaics inside

Arc de Triomphe on Art Is Everywhere

Arc de Triomphe

Even the architectural coverups are artistic in Paris on Art Is Everywhere

Even the architectural coverups are artistic

A view from the top of Arc de Triomphe on Art Is Everywhere

A view from the top of the Arc…

... and an Eiffel Tower half visible in fog on Art Is Everywhere

… and an Eiffel Tower half visible in fog

View of the electric Champs Élysées on Art Is Everywhere

View of the electric Champs Élysées

 

Paris' Eternal Flame at the Arc on Art Is Everywhere

Paris’ Eternal Flame at the Arc

It’s so great to see Parisians celebrating life and this festive Christmas season.

What would Christmas be without people, friends and family and…

Parisian people and Christmas lights on Art Is Everywhereexceptional food as in this delectable French menu and…

A menu of delectible Parisian food on Art Is Everywhereand wonderful wine, bien sur!

Glorious French wine on Art Is EverywhereTo end, a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower is all decked out in red.

Miniature Eiffel Tower in Red on Art Is EverywhereWishing you a Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

Duck, Duck Murals Nearby

While vacationing in Ocracoke, North Carolina, it was coincidental to read this article about Hitnes, the Italian street artist and his duck murals recently painted in Pine Island Sanctuary in Corolla, NC. He is retracing John Audubon’s footsteps while traveling across the US, painting murals as he goes. You can read the full article with links for his inspiration on Audubon.org. Image Hunter article and photos by Jessica Stewart.

Hitnes Duck Mural on Art Is EverywhereHere’s an interesting video regarding the decoys that inspired his artwork.

The Image Hunter / Voodoo Duck from magicmindcorporation on Vimeo.

Although Corolla was a little out of our way to travel to on the return route back home we saw plenty of Nature’s everyday art.

Pre sunset porch time_AIE

Pre sunset porch time

Sailboat view from dock on AIE

Sailboat view from dock

End of day starting on AIE

Sun Rays – End of day starting

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette on AIE

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette

Art in Fashionable Flowers

Unfortunately, this scheduled post never published when it was supposed to on March 19th. Good thing because it seems appropriate with Easter to post it now. I’ve changed some wording to put it in current context.

Spring is here! Already I hear birds chirping and see flowers popping up everywhere, in fashion that is.

Look at these gorgeous floral dresses and you can see a celebration of spring as well as beautiful artistic, flowery design.

Floral Dress_AIE blog

I love how this dress flows. It  reminds me of a Chagall

With the wild winter weather we’ve had, I wouldn’t be surprised if there might even be one more snowstorm [back in March]. However, this picture below shows the dichotomy in the window dressing, announcing spring with snow falling.

Window Dressing Dichotomy via Washinton Post on AIE blogI bet you’ll see more fashionable flowers in these flowery dresses more than ever in the market for this spring season.

Floral Dresses_AIE blog

I like the 2 tropical ones on the far right

And why not? Spring is the perfect time to celebrate the flower’s power of simple yet pretty petals, especially when they can form such kaleidoscope of color, as seen from above in this Dutch landscape of Keukenhof Gardens.

We actually visited these gardens in Holland. It just happened to be right before most of the flowers were blooming.Tulips_AIE blogBright, vibrant colors are not only prevalent in flowers but also in DC’s newest Marion Barry Mural. I think it’s a pretty good likeness and I like how it is portable, being painted on removable tiles that can be transported and installed in different locations.Marion Barry Mural on AIEGetting back to celebrating spring with flowers, there is a new DCGardens.com website that shows what are the latest blooming varieties in the DC area and where to find them.

It already highlights one of my favorite plant places, the National Arboretum.

It’s interesting for me to go back and read these previously written, related posts after so much time:

First Day of Spring

National Arboretum Posts

And this time, I know now how to post a video (and even center it).

Happy Spring & Happy Easter!

2 Week Celebration

Although 10 years ago, I had anticipated that I’d be sipping pina coladas somewhere in the Caribbean, life does have a tendency to change things and as you get older, you just take it in stride.

Carribean vacationInstead, I had what turned out to be a two-week celebration.

It started with my ELDC (or drinking lady friends) toasting with beers and pizza at one of my favorite Red Rocks restaurants on a Friday.

Red Rocks alexandria_AIEThat Saturday, Valentine’s Day, we went to visit our son for the first time since dropping him off at UVA. We discovered that the Business School has accommodations at the Inn at Darden. Who knew! We’ve already got the tip as to when to book this year for next year’s graduation. It’s not a bad place but certainly convenient and beats student housing.

Inn at Darden_2330_AIE  Maybe it was just that it was Valentine’s Day but I was impressed with the lovely tissue rose waiting for us in the bathroom. That took a lot of time to do.

Tissue Rose_2329_AIEWith everything in town being booked, we got reservations at the Milan Indian Cuisine restaurant. I have to admit, with a name like that I didn’t really know what to expect. I couldn’t really envision an Italian/ Indian dish medley. It was one of the first extreme cold snap of the year for Virginia. I was surprised so many people wanted to get out but the proprietors were turning people away. We felt lucky and even more so when we discovered it was delicious food. I have never had Gobi Aloo. At least I think that is what it was. Spicy appetizer of potatoes and cauliflower, which I think will be the next “it” vegetable. I’m going to try to make it at home; it was so good.

The next day we visited with Jackson and had a relaxing brunch at the Fox & Hound. They had pennies glued under their bar and bathroom counters that reminded me of the Lincoln. Jackson gave us a tour of all his study spots and a secret classroom in the Alderman (Environmental Science ) Library, which has remarkable murals. They are all done on canvas, however, except the eye-popping trompe l’oeil framework over the doorway. We saw the most students studying here, probably because it has the best natural light with cavernous ceiling and skylights. Gorgeous plus a welcomed respite from the cold. They even have a campus coffee stop that had great hot chocolate just inside the entry.

UVA-Library Murals_2332_AIEIt’s always a bit of a drive there and back but a good visit on a holiday, Presidents’ Day weekend. With Peter having off on Monday, we bundled up and walked to La Madeline, the closest place I could think of in Old Town that might have King Cakes. Glad we called; they were all out but they made one fresh for us. It wasn’t the typical style I’m accustomed to from New Orleans but is probably more authentically French. It was a rather flat almond flavored cake over a marzipan layer with a flaky pastry. We couldn’t resist having a piece fresh out of the over. It was so good warm. Notice how they don’t put the baby inside the cake. I bet for liability reasons they leave that to the purchaser. In New Orleans, we just stick it in there! I had to get a Linzer Tart to share too.

King Cake La Madeline Style_2333_AIEWe walked back in the snow and warmed our feet by the fire, first one of the season. Since DC cannot handle a small accumulation of snow, the entire city shut down when we got four inches. Yahoo, another holiday; even though I was working — a little. It was Fat Tuesday, after all, we were due to celebrate. I had mentioned we had better get groceries before the rush but Peter informed me that he was going to surprise me but instead, thought I better know he had made plans for dinner at Vermillion, one of my favorite restaurants in Alexandria. I was prepared for this and it was a perfect foil.

Winter fire_2334_AIEThinking surely others would be there with their Mardi Gras beads on, I wore mine; even though, this is actually a more touristy than native thing to do in New Orleans — except for Mardi Gras Day of course. Well that little booger completely fooled me! Hardly anyone was there due to the snow but upon walking upstairs, all our good friends were waiting! At first, I felt like saying a line from the Californians, “What are yoooooou doing here?” but then I realized Peter had arranged it all and they were all in on the surprise. The fact that one friend was there who is notoriously late, was even more of a shocker. It was a fantastic dinner! So much great food, spirits and fun spirit with dear friends.

There were a couple of snags that I learned later, like the birthday cake I mentioned in my previous post. It got stuck in a Dulles warehouse due to the weather. I never knew because my good friend purchased another doberge cake to take its place. She brought the “real” cake by when it arrived on my real birthday. I had 3 cakes by this point. Ilyda, who helps me clean our house, was happy to take the half-remaining King Cake off my hands and my hips.

Although I don’t have a picture of everything, I love all my cards and a birthday check to treat myself. I look forward to trying a tempting bottle of rosé, a six-pack of hand-selected wines with one beer that you can only get from Norcia, as well as wearing a beautiful Nola Jazz Hermés scarf and bee necklace and trying to decipher which of my friends and family submitted the 50 quotes that were put into a book to record the event, with pictures to come. Wow such heaped upon attention. Why did I want to go to the Caribbean, anyway?

Hermes_AIEhttp://www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Hermes-Scarf_2345_AIE.jpgWell, I intend on getting there one day — maybe on a cruise with a slower method of travel that takes time and takes it all in stride — must be my new-age attitude. ‘Til then, I’ll take a 2 week celebration any day. I can still go 80’s dancing (our night was rescheduled due to ice and below zero, double digits cold)  — until my knees give out — and also read up on my older son’s book, 50 things to do when your fifty! 😉

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Rivers Really Do Run Through It

Here’s an opportunity to take your summer travel photos to the next level, like these below.

The National Geographic Society is having a summer Traveler photo contest. Hurry, it ends on June 30. You can also vote for your favorite Viewer’s Choice.

Because there is an ongoing epidemic killing our bees (of which I’d like to help with  bee-keeps on my roof top garden one day) and because this photo of rivers in the California Baja desert are so beautiful, they get my vote for Nature’s Art seen through man’s lens.

National Geographic Photos on Art Is Everywhere

So many of these photos are inspirational.

 

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