Thursday, January 31, 2008

More pictures.

If you have a Trader Joe's nearby and you like tea, go check out their blueberry green tea. I'm enjoying a cup right now, and it's weird--I don't like green tea, and I don't like fruity-flavored tea, and yet this stuff is totally hitting the spot! Weird, huh?

As I continue to catch up my pictures, here are some more from our Thanksgiving trip. We did a little bit of Black Friday shopping and went in search of some good used bookstores. We ended up in Alexandria in the late afternoon and decided to explore the downtown area, which has tons of old buildings and old homes.

This was sort of cool: when I was 13, in the spring of 1984, I got to participate in the National Spelling Bee in D.C., and all the spellers and their families got to take lots of cool tours. One evening they took us to a place called Gadsby's Tavern for dinner, one of the many places that stakes their claim to fame on the fact that George Washington stayed/slept/took a potty break there.

I remembered going to the tavern, but I had no idea where exactly it was...and then I happened to spot it as we drove down a side street:

We didn't eat there because it was pricey and the menu sounded a little too Olde English to really be good, but I did want to get a picture for posterity.

We just strolled up and down the streets and kept ducking into various shops to warm up as the sun went down and the wind picked up.

Having forsaken the colonial British pub food at Gadsby's, we decided to go with the food of Todd's ancestors, which is way more tasty--Italian food at Il Porto:

It turned out that this particular night was the town's Christmas tree lighting, so there were lots of people about, and we got to see the tree light up and the little dance/songfest they put on. It was all very festive, but sadly, it all took place after dark, so--no pictures!

In fact, checking my files, I see that this is the last of my DC pictures. We took a candlelight tour of Mount Vernon the following night, but again--it was dark and I didn't even try to get any pictures. One of my little resolutions for this year is to try to take more seems like I got burnt out on picture-taking from my early hardcore scrapbooking days, when I had a camera basically attached to my hand at all times. Now I've gone the other way and I never get good pictures of anything! Which will become apparent when I share my Christmas pictures in a few more days.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yep, pictures.

I'm holed up in the study while Todd has a big poker party downstairs with his buds, so I thought I'd throw down a few more pictures, from Thanksgiving this time.

So we didn't have any travel plans for the holiday, because it's too far to go to Ohio for a four-day weekend. We often go to my brother's family for part of the weekend, but they decided to make the trip home to Ohio. So we weren't sure what to do, but I didn't want to sit home and stare at the walls.

So Todd suggested we go up to Washington, DC for the weekend. And we had a terrific time. We got there about 10 AM Thanksgiving morning, and headed for what I mistakenly thought was the Smithsonian American Art Museum, but which turned out to be the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a different place entirely. This gallery exhibits American crafts of the 19th-21st centuries. The building dates from 1859, and was the site of America's first art museum, and it's named after James Renwick, the architect who designed it and who also designed the Smithsonian Castle. Just a little tidbit!

The Renwick sits at Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th St...if you scootched the building about half a block to the right, it would be sitting in Lafayette Park looking at the White House. We got there a bit before the doors opened, so we took a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue and admired the White House from the street. It was a very warm sunny morning--but that would change.

I couldn't get any pictures inside the Renwick, but by far the best thing we saw there was an exhibit of late 19th-century quilts from the Plains states. Many of them were civic quilts, with stitched names of businesses or prominent citizens, or redwork-style stitched pictures of town buildings. And there were two crazy quilts that I just wanted to cry that I couldn't take pictures of--one was worked by a milliner who incorporated all her scrap bits of velvet, lace, flowers, silk, feathers, you name it, into a quilt that just glowed with color and texture. The other crazy quilt was worked by a girl in her late teens or early twenties around the turn of the century, and she stitched words into many of the patches, like slang phrases that her crowd used, or a few words about an event, like ice skating on the river, or a particular dance she'd gone to. It was one of the most memorable, fascinating things I've ever seen--like a scrapbook made of fabric.

On the way back to our car, we stopped at a hot dog vendor and ate at the sidewalk tables of a cafe that was closed for the holiday. Note the sunshine and Todd's shirtsleeves. It was so nice out, and the city was so quiet. There were some people out and about, but not many.

Then we headed to the actual Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, which are in the same mammoth building several blocks away. I didn't get a picture of it, but just picture your standard marble temple with steps and big columns and you've got it.

I adore looking at art, but this museum had lots of furniture sprinkled in with the art pieces--lovely, old, historic furniture to be sure--but kind of boring. However, they were running an exhibit of American propaganda posters from World War I, and how wonderful that was! The artwork on them was amazing, and the colors still glowed, after almost 100 years.

We also strolled quickly through the Presidents' portrait gallery, and that was terrific, too.

Todd is such a good sport about going to all these museums and looking at stuff. I'm so lucky that he enjoys it, too, because it's one of my favorite things to do, and so much more fun with him along.

By the time we came out of the American Art Museum around 2:30 or 3:00, the weather had drastically changed!

Look at that sky behind the Capitol. The temperature had dropped about 30 degrees, and the wind was howling. We drove to the Capitol because I never seem to make it down to that end of the Mall on any of my trips to DC.

Here are some of the windows along the front of the National Botanical Gardens, which sits right next-door to the Capitol building.

Indoors was a conservatory decorated gorgeously for Christmas:

We strolled up to the bottom of the Capitol steps, and turned to look out over the Mall:

As we'd driven toward the Capitol earlier, I'd noticed an Edward Hopper exhibit at the annexe of the National Gallery of Art. The annexe is just a modern smaller addition that's accessible to the Gallery by strolling across the street or crossing to it underground. They do special exhibits there, and the high ceilings are all decorated with fantastic Calder mobiles.

Well, I have always loved Edward Hopper, so that was our last stop before heading out to Woodbridge to find our hotel and some Thanksgiving dinner. And the exhibit was WONDERFUL. Again, no pictures allowed, but I'll never forget the beauty of those paintings--and they had dozens!--and the way the colors glowed. You can look at paintings in books, and that's nice, but there is no way, NO way, to reproduce the detail and the hues and the just pure glowing beauty of a painting viewed close up in real life. It makes my heart pound.

Some of the people I mentioned this exhibit to had never heard of Edward Hopper, so here are two of his best-known pieces,
Chop Suey:

and Night-Hawks:

It was awesome, and I'll never forget seeing his gorgeous work up close.

More pictures later, but I want to add that I had this moment tonight, reading the CNN website about Obama's South Carolina primary win, where I looked at his picture and just marveled in a way that almost made me teary-eyed, that we have a black man and a white woman running for President--and each actually has a better-than-good shot at it. Not that I didn't know that before, but the realization came over me very strongly tonight. It's just so wonderful. High time, and wonderful.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More pictures.

Continuing with the time travel, back to October briefly, and Todd's parents' fall visit:

Here's Todd and his dad hanging out and no doubt hatching up some plan, as they always do:

And Todd's mom cleaning up the dinner dishes. Aren't I a great hostess, making the guests work? Actually, we've worked out a plan when they visit, wherein I do the cooking and she does the cleaning up--it's beyond wonderful. At least it is for me--I hope it is for her! I think she enjoys not having to cook, and I totally enjoy not having to clean up.

In November, we went to visit my brother and his family, since we wouldn't be seeing them at Thanksgiving. My brother is a fanatical geocacher, so we went out into the woods one day to look for a couple of caches.

Here's my SIL Tracy and my niece Natalie (I love Nat's little red Crocs!):

My brother digging for the treasure:

Me and Miss Marissa:

We never did find the cache in this pile of rocks:

More later!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I've got about three months' worth of photos to catch up on here at the blog. Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...October 2007:

Here I am on my 37th birthday, in Smithfield, VA, on a luncheon-and-shopping day with my mother-in-law and my friend Cheryl. It's been three months and I still haven't come to terms with being 37 yet. By the time I do, 38 will be right around the corner!

Smithfield is a fun, old little town, famous for its ham and pork products, and booming around the edges with lots of brand-new homes and ugly shopping centers. But the downtown has some great old homes and storefronts:

It was one of those gorgeous blue-sky fall days, and WARM! We browsed through an antique mall and had lunch in a terrific cafe/bakery downtown. I seem to recall coconut cake...mmmmm...

More pictures later.

Isn't is sad, sad, sad about Heath Ledger? There's this really selfish part of me that hates it when actors die tragically, because scenes that I formerly enjoyed in their movies will now be forever tinged with sadness over their death. I'll never be able to totally enjoy "10 Things I Hate About You" again, when he leaps down the bleachers singing to Julia Stiles. Selfish, I know. What a life he could have's a waste.

Todd is downstairs catching up on the last season of "Gilmore Girls" and I'm poking around on the computer in my study for the first time in a long time. For those who have asked--I will get back to my aborted Christmas journal, I promise. I just have to get some of the other piles of chores attended to first!

Monday, January 21, 2008


A few quick pictures:

Here's our former guest bath light fixture. We're re-doing this room a piece at a time, and this nasty wood-and-bulbs vanity light needed an update:

And here's what we replaced it with. (We put this same fixture in our master bath, too, replacing a vanity light so cheap and ridiculously ugly that it wasn't worth recording in photo or in words!)

Todd is on a ladder in the first picture, replacing the ceiling fixture as well, but it is so basic that it didn't seem worth getting a picture of it. The old one was brass with a frosted squat globe and the new one is white with a bulbous glass globe. Picture a boob made of ribbed glass, complete with white metal nipple. and you'll have it. We went dirt cheap for the ceiling fixture since I, for one, never look at it.

Did you notice the ducks? The undoubtedly-gorgeous-in-1987-but beyond-ugly-in-2008 ducks in the
wallpaper border up top?

Aren't they cute? No? I don't think so, either. I've been threatening them for two years, and their days are numbered. I just have to get the arm power back to strip them down, but when I do, oh, down they'll come.

The floor is no friend of mine, can see it on the left, and then the flooring I've picked to cover it on the right:

I know, as I plan these changes, that in another 20 years someone will be ripping out all our hard work and declaring how ugly it is--but that's okay. How else would the home improvement stores stay in business?

So the guest bath will be going from brown and tan, with ducks, to sage green, soft yellow and lavender, with lots of vintage girly stuff. Here's my prototype shelf:

I don't have everything arranged how I want it yet, but it's my inspiration area. Someday it will look just perfect in this bathroom, instead of odd and misplaced!

More pictures later!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My feet are cold.

I can remember reading these newspaper columns by Larry King in which he'd just ramble along in a total stream-of-consciousness mode...I don't know if he still writes them, but think of this as my Larry King-style catch-up.

We spent two weeks away from home over the holidays, and it all went great. We had some unexpected car trouble while home in Ohio, but it happened while we were close enough to home to get it taken care of easily--and it ended up being a problem that was covered under an extended warranty. On an eight-year-old car. Talk about your Christmas miracles!

We got to cram in a few quality moments with most of the people we love, too. Which was also great. Pictures will be forthcoming.

I started emptying cupboards and closets as soon as we got home on January 2, and then lost my momentum about halfway through. Right about the time I dropped two heavy books spine-down on my toe, come to think of it. The toe still hurts, and now I have no clue what to do for it since it's been almost two weeks. Do I wrap it, ice it, or what?

Today is my niece Natalie's fifth birthday, and we would have been there with her except that I came down with a touch of flu on Friday morning, thus derailing our weekend plans. I'm feeling mostly better today, except for the "aunt guilt." Sorry, sweetie pie! Keep a lookout for your present in the mail!

Todd had his performance review and got promoted from "project supervisor" to "engineering manager." Now he just needs to find out exactly what that will entail. But it's still cool, and I'm proud of him!

We bought eleven interior doors on sale today, and now we need to find some doorknobs and then paint them, install knobs, and hang them. It's going to make a big difference to go from brown "wood" hollow-core doors to white "wood" six-panel doors. I'm looking forward to it!

We also hung new light fixtures in the upstairs bathrooms, and they look awesome. And I found the flooring I want for the guest bath, and decided on a color for the walls.

We got about two inches of snow yesterday, and it was just gorgeous. I sat on the couch and watched it fall all afternoon and evening, and each of the trees in our yard had that light coating of snow on each branch that just makes them glow and shows off their shapes. Today it all melted, but it was a thing of beauty while it lasted.

This week I'll try to find some moments on the upstairs computer so I can post pictures of all our recent doings.