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_AIEhttps://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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Rainbow Wood

When I saw this picture of striped, rainbow-colored, wooden bowls in my April issue of House Beautiful magazine, I was immediately reminded that I have a similarly designed coffee spoon that I use everyday, thanks to Aunt Sue. I never really thought of it artistically but its design is just that and a woodcraft artisan must have made it. Again, art and design, in this case functional art, combined. That’s my philosophy and I’m sticking with it. How lovely these rainbow-wood designs are. Now I’d like to get the bowls. They are found at whisknyc.com ($6 for a 3″ bowl). It’s rather interesting to discover that there is a Williamsburg connection to this store. My older son, Piers, goes to UVA, a rival school to William & Mary in Williamsburg. Recalling the family trip we took there, I’ve always thought this town was charming; however, Piers just couldn’t get the Colonial reenactors out of his mind when applying there. For all you foodies out there, I just clicked on this link to learn they have a Julia Child scented candle. I can help but find this funny. Hmmm, might be better to say, Julia Child inspired candle, don’t you think? OK that reminds me, I need to see the movie, Julia & Julia. Even my husband has seen it before me. Well, I might add he was on a flight to Copenhagen, so what else was there to do?

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rainbow-spoon_artiseverywhere_blog1. photo by C. Ashley Spencer

rainbow-spoon_artiseverywhere_blog2. photo by c. ashley spencer