Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Capitol Idea! (cont.)

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Our last full day in DC was set aside for Arlington National Cemetery, a beautiful but solemn place. We took our time waking up, breakfasting, and getting on the metro. A short walk from the closest metro stop, and we were at the welcome center. There, you can learn more about the cemetery and pick up some handy maps to help you navigate through it. (Arlington is large, and the number of graves there is still growing. There are still 25-30 funerals there per day.)

For utility's sake, we each bought a ticket for the hop on, hop off bus that takes you throughout the cemetery. We got off at the first stop - the Eternal Flame. I'm not sure what to say about this. President John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, and two of their children are buried here, and the graves of Ted and Bobby Kennedy are nearby. It's odd to me that such a present tragedy is such a tourist attraction, but I guess all of Arlington is like that. I felt the same way when we visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It's almost as if I'm not ready to be a vacationer in these places yet.

the Marine Corps War Memorial
From there, we decided to walk up to Arlington House, which was Robert E. Lee's home. We toured the gardens and the little museum about the Lee family. We also visited the nearby Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Dead. From there, we decided to walk over to the Memorial Amphitheater (a gorgeous space) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We stayed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for a while. There is something so poignant about it. That even though we don't know who those boys are (It contains soldiers from WWI, WWII, and Korea.), they are not forgotten. They are watched over. Their sacrifice mattered. We watched the changing of the guard before boarding the bus again.

Oddly, though, the bus didn't take us to the Marine Corps War Memorial, which I definitely wanted to see. I asked our bus tour guide about it, and he mentioned that they'd routed around it for the morning due to ongoing funeral services. Not willing to miss it, hubs and I hopped off the bus again at the welcome center and hoofed it.

The memorial was much larger than I thought it would be. And because the buses weren't running, we had it largely to ourselves. We walked around it, learned all about the men it honored, and thought a good long while about what sacrifice really means.

By this time, my stomach was rumbling. Because the Marine Corps War Memorial is on the edge of Arlington, we were actually quite close to some restaurants. We decided to have a seafood lunch at Quarterdeck. It's a local bar/restaurant, nothing fancy to look at. What's notable is what shows up on the plates! I had a freaking AMAZING crab cake sandwich. No filler. It was a thing of beauty! Throw in some fries and wash it down with a Coke, and I was one happy diner!

After lunch, we walked back towards the Marine Corps Memorial. The buses were running again, so we hopped one back to the welcome center and caught the metro to our little apartment. As we were leaving the next morning, we spent the afternoon packing and getting our things in order.

We stopped for a delicious dinner at Boundary Road, this cool bar/restaurant we'd been walking past all week. OMG! So good! I couldn't believe we'd waited until so late in our trip to eat there! We started with specialty cocktails (I tried the I'm Thinking About Getting a Vespa, and hubs chose the Bootsy Collins.) and a plate of feather-light periogis. (I was diplomatic and shared these with hubs, though after my first bite, I thought about grabbing the dish and making a run for it.) The menu at Boundary Road is locally sourced and changes often, so I may break your heart with details about dishes that may not be available when you visit. That said, I chose a rich, fruit-studded duck breast, and hubs had a gorgeous plate of sausages and potatoes. It's safe to say that you'll enjoy eating here. The food is tasty and inventive, and the service is friendly.

The next morning was our last morning in DC! We had worked with our Congress person's office to arrange for a tour of The White House, so after breakfast, we set our sights on one of the most famous addresses in the world - 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

We arrived early, and after several security checks (They even have a dog sniff you.), we were in! We actually got to see quite a bit more of The White House than I thought we would. Rooms at the beginning (library, china room, vermeil room) were roped off at the door, so you could peep in but not stand in the room itself. Rooms later in the tour (blue room, east room, green room, state dining room, etc.), you got to walk through, albeit watched closely by Secret Service members and guides.

The Bradshaws at The White House!
You learn all kinds of things about the history of The White House and how the first family uses it during this tour. I found it very interesting to stride through rooms that have been witness to so much of our nation's history, and I liked that The White House makes a good impression of our country for visitors. I was so glad we chose to arrange this visit!

FYI - You can't take any photos inside The White House (sob!), but you can take some out front (with the house in the background) after your tour is over.

After our tour of the White House, we grabbed a quick lunch at a nearby Le Pain Quotidian, then it was apartment-airport-home!

I must say, I'd been to DC on an advocacy trip once before. We visited different Congressional offices to sit down with reps/senators and their staffs about issues. And I left that trip feeling demoralized. (We basically flung talking points at one another, then everyone went home. It was frustrating.)

But when you go to DC as an American tourist, you leave feeling proud of your country, how it was founded, and what it means. It's a completely different experience. I heartily recommend the latter, even if you can't avoid the former! I loved, loved, loved our week in the city, and I'm so thankful hubs and I were able to experience it together!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Capitol Idea! (cont.)

This is Martha Washington's tea set! And in the
background, you can see one of the few surviving
camp chairs commissioned for George Washington
during the Revolutionary War.
On day 5, we headed for Georgetown after breakfast. We had reservations to tour the house and gardens at Tudor Place, the home of Martha Washington's granddaughter. I learned all kinds of cool things about George and Martha Washington and their descendants during this visit!

The house, which is stately without being ostentatious, sits on about six acres. There are beautiful landscaped gardens all around it, featuring a small tea house, some lovely fountains and the family's garage (complete with a 1919 Pierce Arrow Roadster on display). The tour of the gardens is self-guided (using a map provided by the attraction). After we'd lounged around a bit, taking in the air, we proceeded to the house for our tour of the interior.

Our very knowledgeable guide started in the conservatory, and from there, we poked through American history in the kitchen, sitting rooms and bedrooms. We learned that the Peters family was related to the Lee family, and from a high window in the house, one could see a high window at Arlington House (across the river, on land that is now Arlington National Cemetery). The children of both families would hang colored banners out of the top windows to communicate with one another.

The herbaceous border at Dumbarton
Oaks makes a good hiding spot!
You can also see lots of Washington-related artifacts in the home, including Martha Washington's tea set and one of only a few surviving camp chairs created for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Really interesting stuff!

After our visit to Tudor Place, we headed to Cafe Bonaparte for lunch. I could have eaten at this snug little creperie nearly every day (and would have, if it had been closer to our apartment). I chose a cheesy mushroom crepe and a lovely, fresh salad. The food is soooooo good here! Tables are quite close together, and the eat-in space is tight, but it's totally worth it for the delicious food and reasonable price point. I couldn't leave without trying the nutella strawberry crepe, which was just as good as it sounds.

After lunch, we set our sights on Dumbarton Oaks, which we'd heard is one of the most gorgeous gardens in the DC area. We weren't disappointed! At more than 50 acres, the grounds are sprawling, and they are planned and planted so thoughtfully that it's complete joy to walk through them. Think gorgeous rose terraces aflame with blooms; hidden fountains and plinths; benches and pools placed so as to encourage quite reflection; and vistas that surprise you.

There are all kinds of pockets to explore. I loved the pebble garden from the terrace above almost as much as I loved walking through it. A grand ellipse features a ring of trees around a truly gorgeous fountain, and the herbaceous borders provide a good spot for hiding! Even the kitchen garden was beautiful and well-tended.

Dinner at Ethiopic! Yum!
Touring the house/museum at Dumbarton Oaks is completely free, but I never even got in there. I was too busy strolling along flower-soaked paths, sidling up to statues for a closer look and just enjoying. Oh, how places like that make me wish I were rich! Give me flowers!

After hours playing in the garden, we caught the metro back to our little apartment. We decided to stay close to home for dinner. A local place, Ethiopic, looked adventurous. Plus, online reviewers raved about it. In we went.

What fun! We ordered the lamb and the small vegetarian sampler. The lamb came in a little crucible, piping hot and tender. The vegetarian sampler featured four delicious treats, plus lots of spongy, pliable bread. I loved this place! We were careful not to order anything too spicy. The food was delicious, and the servers were very knowledgeable about the menu. I sipped a glass of spicy red Ethiopian wine and happily ate with my hands!

The next morning, I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed straight for the Library of Congress. I was hoping that I might be allowed in the Reading Room, but they don't allow casual visitors in there. I contented myself with soaking up the history in front of the Gutenberg Bible, marveling at the fancy main hall, and snooping through the free exhibits on display. (One of the tour guides, touring an adult group of visitors in front of the Gutenberg Bible, asked them what Gutenberg was famous for. Crickets. I weep for humanity.)

The Library of Congress. Man, everything they
have is better  . . . 
Then, it was off to the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. We communed with Rodin in the sculpture garden, later poking our heads inside to see the contemporary work on display. Interesting things to see everywhere you look here. I loved the Belief + Doubt piece in the basement. Amazing. Couldn't leave until I'd read every word. And Dan Flavin's neon-based installations. So cool to look at and bounce shadows from. I had to walk in under The Dangerous Logic of Wooing, which anyone (even someone with NO art history classes) can tell is just plain dirty!! Hubs and I hooted and hollered and probably embarrassed the poor docent who was there to make sure we didn't damage the art!

On one of the days of our trip (and I, sadly, can't remember which one), we also spent some time at the National Air and Space Museum. I almost held my breath when I saw Orville and Wilbur Wright's first operational plane. I mean, I traveled to DC on a direct flight. It's hard to wrap your head around that contraption of wood and canvas as the first father of the pressurized aluminum tube you rode in on, kwim?

I also loved seeing Amelia Earhart's little red Lockheed Vega, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and some of the exhibits on commercial flight through the years. Hubs was completely enchanted with the space flight part of the museum. (I could NOT get over some of the exhibits on life in space. In the section on Russian astronauts, there was a dusty little can of "beef tongue with jelly" on display. All I could think of was those astronauts loading that onto the shuttle, carefully avoiding eating it during their entire time in space, and bringing that can back, unapologetically, unopened.)

This place is massive, and we didn't spend nearly enough time here. We'll be back next time!
There are all kinds of cool contemporary installations
at the Hirshorn.

We grabbed a quick lunch at a sushi spot, then headed for the U.S. Capitol. We had tour reservations! FYI - Right now, they're doing some restoration work on the Capitol dome. There's scaffolding all around the outside of it, and a big white donut on the inside, blocking your interior view of the dome as well. As a result, this tour ended up being something of a disappointment. The whole place was packed, and our tour guide pretty much rushed us through the whole experience. (I did learn some cool things, though. There's a crypt underneath the center of the Capitol. It was originally intended to be the final resting place of George Washington. However, he died before the building was finished, and his family buried him at Mount Vernon. They declined to move his body once the Capitol was complete, so the single crypt underneath is empty.)

Look who I found at the U.S.
Capitol! It's Rosa Parks!
While we did see some neat things, if I were to tour the Capitol again, I'd arrange it through my Congress person's office. I bet you'd get a less harried experience that way.

After our tour of the Capitol, we hopped a cab to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I'd really wanted to see at least one performance here. However, the headliners the week we were in town were an opera and a ballet, and I didn't think hubs would be too excited about that. As a result, I'd booked us tickets to Shear Madness, which they billed as a comedy. It ended up being an interactive murder mystery show, with very broad humor. While not unenjoyable, we were clearly not the target audience. (There were LOTS of teen aged school groups there.) Though I wouldn't go see this show again, I did love poking around the Kennedy Center. Views are gorgeous, and we had a nice pre-show snack in one of the on-site cafes.

The Kennedy Center is beautiful,
inside and out.
Afterwards, we decamped to District Commons for dinner and enjoyed one of the tastiest meals of our trip! We decided to get a variety of small plates, starting with the hot pretzel baguette, served with spicy mustard for dipping. We also got the roasted mushroom flatbread, the shrimp cocktail, and the pig board (an amazing meat and cheese board). We finished with the Boston cream pie (drizzled with a delicious salted caramel sauce). Heavenly. Prices here weren't cheap, but the food was so good that I didn't care!

Bellies full and happy, we took a cab ride back to the apartment.

More to come . . .

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Capitol Idea! (cont.)

Dorothy's ruby slippers!
After an indulgent brunch the next morning at Batter Bowl, we headed off to see America's founding documents. We had timed entry tickets for the National Archives, which house original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (In the exhibit space, they also have an original of the Magna Carta. Fascinating.)

We breezed in, and after a short wait, we were in the room with the documents. They are so old, and the ink on them is so faded, that they are hardly readable. They are kept in sealed cases to protect them from the elements, and no photos are allowed.

But for such fragile scraps of paper, they are powerful. The ideas they convey are still strong, more than 200 years later. It's fascinating to stand before them.

After spending some time breathing in the history, we went to the exhibit space. There are some really nice interactive exhibits that allow visitors to page through the history of major cases related to the founding documents. (Think a big tabletop that's one big iPad. You select certain amendments or clauses, then learn more about the court cases that have helped define them and set precedent. High-tech.)

Thomas Jefferson's writing desk. It's said he
wrote the Declaration of Independence on it.
Afterwards, we stopped for a quick lunch at Paul Bakery, where we chose some quiche, salad, and sandwiches, with a tasty dessert to finish. This place was quick, casual, budget-friendly, and delicious. Also very conveniently located.

Then, we moseyed on over to the National Museum of American History. Tops on my list were the Star Spangled Banner, Ben Franklin's cane, and Dorothy's ruby slippers. (I have to admit, I sung our national anthem as I stood in the dim lighting in front of the Star Spangled Banner. There is something so moving about it.) I loved this museum! Julia Child's kitchen, Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves, a piece of Plymouth Rock! We also went through the whole "America on the Move" exhibit, which was really cool!

One item that I searched for, but didn't find, was Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat. After looking for it a while (in vain), I asked a museum staffer where it could be found. He told me that it was temporarily on display somewhere else. A sad moment.

All of that history made us hungry for dinner! We had reservations at Oyamel, and we were in for a treat! We sampled all kinds of goodies: warm chips with homemade salsa, a beet and avocado salad with citrus, some delicious shrimp with lime and garlic, tasty pork tacos, some carnitas and chicharrones. We washed it all down with their salt foam margarita, which I really enjoyed. (Salt in every sip!)

After dinner, we caught the metro home and turned in early.

Bartholdi Park
We started our day on Tuesday at Bartholdi Park. We wanted to check out this small park, featuring a gorgeous fountain designed by the same artist who sculpted the Statue of Liberty. The garden was in gorgeous bloom, so we took our time, admiring different parts of the park and enjoying the views from a variety of vantage points.

Afterwards, it was a quick hop across the street to the U.S. Botanic Garden. We were lucky in that it was a beautiful day! Before going inside, we explored the National Garden, a mix of quiet pathways through pools of water and a beautiful rose garden. Then, we entered through the conservatory. This garden reminded me very much of the San Antonio Botanical Garden, which we visited during a family vacation last spring. The garden court room is long, with rectangular pools, murals, and beautiful plants. Behind that, you'll find the jungle, which features tall palms, epiphytes, and a catwalk that's fun to amble across for a high-level view of the space.

The National Garden at the U.S. Botanic
Garden - every rose was blooming!
The garden also features several conservatory rooms: orchids (gorgeous), desert plants, plants from Hawaii, etc. There's also a fun little outdoor children's garden, which several small people were immensely enjoying on the day of our visit!

After a quick stop for lunch (a crisp shrimp Caesar salad and sorbet trio at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue - a little place we stumbled upon), we headed towards Ford's Theatre. I had booked us advance timed reservations for this visit (essential, as it's very popular), which was one of the must-sees for our trip. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination, and I'd heard the theatre had a special exhibit to mark the occasion.

First, you stand in line to be admitted. Then, you're released into a basement (?) exhibit about Lincoln and his presidency. There were some really interesting displays in here, particularly the ones about Lincoln and his family. (And some hilarious anecdotes about his time in office. Long lines of petitioners routinely queued up at the White House to ask Lincoln for government job appointments. When Lincoln came down with a mild case of smallpox, he was recorded as saying, "At least now I'll have something to give everyone." Heh.)

Exhibits at Ford's Theatre
After enjoying the exhibits, visitors are ushered into the theatre itself. It's still a working theatre, so you may even see a set on the stage. A museum volunteer then talks you through the events leading up to (and immediately following) Lincoln's death. His box at the theatre is still decorated with patriotic bunting, and I'm told that no ticket buyer is ever seated there.

Afterwards, we crossed the street to the Peterson House, which is where Lincoln was taken for medical care after he was shot, and where he died. And here, the museum had a very special, very touching exhibit in honor of the anniversary of Lincoln's death. They had on display the coat he wore the night of the shooting, the American flag that had decorated his box (which they wrapped his wound in), the dark velvet cloak that Mary Todd Lincoln wore to the theatre that night, and the gun that John Wilkes Booth used to kill him.

And there, right at eye level, was the stovepipe hat. It was a jewel of a discovery for me.

Sign in front of the Peterson House
Our visit to Ford's Theatre ended up being the complete highlight of our entire trip. I found this attraction so incredibly moving, so sad, so human. It will stay with me a long, long time.

We popped back to the apartment to freshen up for a night out. We had dinner reservations and theatre tickets, and we didn't want to be late! Off we went to Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar for a delicious dinner. I chose the creamy carbonara with a glass of Oregon pinot gris. Heaven! I hadn't had pasta the whole trip (unusual for me), and this meal really hit the spot.

Then, it was a short walk to the theater at the Folger Shakespeare Library for the opening night performance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

The cast and crew at the Folger Theatre
were amazing in this production!
Now, I'd worried about buying these tickets. I wasn't sure how much hubs would like the show. He's usually pretty good about going to musicals with me, and he doesn't mind the occasional play. But I was concerned that something absurdist would be a bit much.

How happily wrong I was! First of all, the cast and crew did an AMAZING job with the show. The whole cast was awesome, but Ian Merrill Peakes as The Player completely ran away with the script. We laughed and laughed and laughed! Hubs totally loved it! It was a great evening!

A quick cab ride home, and we tumbled into bed.

More to come . . .

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Capitol Idea!

Hubs settling in at Old Ebbitt Grill
This spring, hubs and I celebrated a landmark anniversary. To mark the occasion, we headed off on a week-long trip to Washington D.C., without little man.

Those of you who have kids will understand what a huge deal it is to go on a vacation without them. You feel, by turns, unbelievably free, inconsolably heartsick, and a wee bit guilty for having so much fun without them.

Hubs and I caught an early, direct flight straight to Reagan International, then took a cab to our sweet English basement apartment, which we rented via Airbnb. The place was two blocks from Union Station, offering easy access to the city. It also boasted a foyer, living room, full kitchen/bar (with a washer/dryer), bedroom, and a decadent bath (big whirlpool tub, giant walk-in shower, etc.). Within a block, there were several great restaurants and a grocery store. We chose wisely!

After dropping off our bags, we headed straight for Old Ebbitt Grill for lunch. We had reservations, and I was glad we did, because two huge groups entered the restaurant right before us. We were seated quickly, and we tucked in to a steak sandwich with fries (him) and a cup of clam chowder (me). The restaurant has a long and storied history, and it's located very close to the White House, so it's popular among tourists. We sated our hunger, then hit the National Mall.

The National Mall
I'd walked the mall before, but hubs hadn't. We took the long loop, starting at the Washington National Monument, walking all the way down to the Lincoln Monument, then circling back around to the Jefferson Memorial. (I love to read the speeches in both the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial to myself when I visit there. There's something so resonant about it for me.) The weather was GORGEOUS, and we took frequent breaks to rest our legs on benches, people-watch, and admire the scenery. The fountains at the WWII Monument were playing, and the scaffolding has all been removed from the Washington National Monument. Plus, I got to see the FDR Memorial, which I'd missed on my previous trip to DC. (I found this memorial particularly moving.) We took our time and snapped some amazing photos during our tour of the mall.

I'd never seen the FDR Memorial before!
We finished up our day at Bistro Bis for dinner. This place was a find! Hubs had the steak frites (no surprise there), and I chose the trout l'ardenaise (fish sauteed in a delicious concoction of caper, lemon, and brown butter, with green beans and potatoes). The food was delicious here. We were famished after being on our feet all day, and we ate. It. UP! Service was impeccable. I washed my food down with a gorgeous glass of Oregon pinot gris, and we shuffled home and to bed!

The next morning, we'd originally planned to rise early and head to Eastern Market for browsing and breakfast. But we slept in! We poked around our neighborhood mid-morning and found what was to become our daily breakfast haunt - Batter Bowl Bakery. They had beautiful pastries, big fruit bowls, and quiche. I think we ended up breakfasting here every day of our trip, just because it was so delicious and convenient. (What can I say? Morning is a tender time. I want things to be easy until 9 a.m. or so, especially on vacation!)

We gobbled the golden puffed pancake, a breakfast sandwich, and big cups of strong coffee, settling into our cafe chairs to plan the day. We decided to start with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

We loved Batter Bowl Bakery!
The great thing about so many of the museums on the National Mall is that admission is FREE. So you can pop in and pop out of them as often as you like. We marveled at the impressive rotunda (which features an 8-ton, 14-foot-tall African elephant), then headed upstairs, straight to the gems. I spent a good amount of time staring into the depths of the Hope Diamond. (I think it was winking at me!) It was early in the day, and there weren't too many people in that part of the museum, so we were able to get very close and be leisurely about it.

Afterwards, we ambled over to the rest of the gem and minerals gallery - brilliant sapphires, diamonds, rubies and more. They were so shiny and pretty! I kept noticing these small, very round smudges on the glass in front of the gems. It took me a while to realize what they were - nose prints! People were so hypnotized by the glittering stones that they kept leaning in closer for a better look, until their noses actually touched the glass!
The Hope Diamond definitely winked at me.

Then we took a quick spin through the insect zoo (sponsored by Orkin - hilarious!), stopping to get up close with a few live tarantulas. We saw some of the dinosaur/fossil collection, but as that part of the museum is currently being remodeled, I don't think we got the full effect.

We got a bit hungry, so we stopped in the museum cafe in the basement for a quick sandwich before moving on to the Ocean Hall (with its blue whale suspended from the ceiling and its GIANT squid laid out in a long glass case) and the mammals (Hippos! Zebras! Lions! Polar bears!) and human origins galleries.

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner! We had reservations at the nearby Zaytinya - a Greek restaurant - so off we went. We loved this place! We tried tons of small plates -  crispy Brussels sprouts, a fish special, tender little keftedes, plus tons of pita bread. I had a glass of Lebanese wine, and we finished with dessert - the Turkish coffee chocolate cake, which was gloriously gooey inside.

We rode the metro back to the apartment. Though we did LOTS of walking while we were in the city (in part because the weather was so lovely while we were there, and in part because we wanted to see everything), we found the metro to be very easy to use. You can buy a Smart Trip card at kiosks in the metro stations, loading them with funds. Then, you just use them until the money runs out. You can re-load the cards with funds as necessary at the kiosks. Easy. If WE can figure it out, anybody can!

More to come . . .

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Chili with all the fixings!
One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to make time CELEBRATE more! (It's a tough gig, but somebody's gotta do it.)

We started out with a New Year's Eve celebration. Hubs made juicy steaks, we invited my family over, and we shot fireworks! (I absolutely LOVE shooting fireworks with my Dad. He loves them so much that it makes me love them more.) Clay and Dad were both driving everyone crazy with those poppy firecrackers that you throw at people's feet! They are both big kids!

Then, we hosted a fun Super Bowl party. I made a giant pot of chili, a big bowl of guacamole, some cornbread muffins, and a pitcher of margaritas. We polished it off with chewy, nut-studded brownies. I invited some of my best buds over,
Clay's celebration dinner
and we watched the game (in the cases of some) and the commercials (in the cases of others).

Also in January, I had a bunch of people over for my birthday. I was turning (coughcough) years old, and I thought I should mark it by making the most decadent chocolate Nutella berry concoction I could find on Pinterest. (Needless to say, the cake was a hit.)

Then, there was Valentine's Day. Hubs and I usually don't go out on the actual Valentine's Day, mainly because every restaurant is crazy-crowded. But this year, Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday, and there was a swanky restaurant I'd been wanting to go to with him. Seafood R'evolution has opened a branch in Ridgeland. I've eaten at their New Orleans location before, and I knew hubs would love it! So, I made a reservation and pulled out my red dress.

Hilariously, about three days before Valentine's Day, I got an abrasion on my eye. So I had to wear an eye patch out on my Valentine's Day dinner. And just let me say this - if you want to set all the Jackson suburbanites talking, roll into Seafood R'evolution on Valentine's Day all gussied up and wearing a black eye patch. (Bonus points if you go with your husband but forget to wear your own wedding ring!! Heee heeee!!)

Happy birthday to three of my favorite guys!
In March, hubs and I took little man out for a special dinner in recognition of his AWESOME report card. We told him he could pick any restaurant he liked, and he chose Table 100. We gussied up for the occasion. (He wore his sweet little vest, tie, and hat - ADORABLE!) It was such a fun night, and he felt so special!

In April, I celebrated the birthdays of three of my favorite guys! Both of my nephews and my daddy have early birthdays, and I thought it was the perfect occasion for another get-together. I made a big, beautiful leg of lamb, with crispy roasted potatoes and asparagus. We bought a rich chocolate torte from Broad Street, put some candles in it, and broke out the party hats and noisemakers! It was so much fun that I'm thinking of making this a tradition!

Sweet Erin Kate and our Kentucky Derby table
In early May, one of my best friends hosted a Kentucky Derby party! We all threw on big hats and brought covered dishes. We drank mint juleps, gabbed, ate delicious food, and cheered like longshoremen for our chosen horses. I bet on American Pharoah!

And lastly, to celebrate our anniversary, hubs and I went to Washington D.C. for a week! (More about that trip later.)

But so far this year, I'm thrilled to be actually keeping one of my resolutions! Maybe the trick is to make resolutions that you really WANT to keep? ;-)

Between the sheets

(Of paper, that is.) Been reading some interesting books lately. A few three-sentence reviews:

  1. Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand. This is the almost unbelievable true story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner-turned-WWII-airman-turned-POW. Zamperini showed incredible resilience in the face of soul-crushing circumstances. This book shows us just how awful and just how wonderful humanity can really be.
  2. Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit. In this book, we hear the nameless, faceless voices of all of the wives who came to Los Alamos under the cloak of not knowing. These women left everything and everyone they knew at the veiled behests of their husbands, living their lives and raising their children in secret. While I did enjoy the book, the "we" convention the author uses grated on me after a while, and I found myself wishing Nesbit had focused on three or four key characters.
  3. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. I wanted to like this book, but I couldn't love any of the characters. Messud's NYC society is vain, selfish and often senseless, and I found it difficult to root for any of them. Though the writing is good, and the situations believable, I didn't want to spend time with any of these folks.
  4. After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman. The lives of the Brewer family (all women) are defined by the absence of patriarch Felix. Having skipped town to avoid jail time, Felix has left decades of questions in his wake. By the end of this stirring novel, Lippman has provided necessary closure, but not pat satisfaction.
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This book totally slayed me. I loved the device of it, and I loved the characters. Flynn surprised me, kept me thinking and, in the end, completely got in my head.

Rockin' a little (cont.)

Little Rock Central High School
The next morning, I was up and at 'em and ready for breakfast. I was in luck! Less than a block down the street from my hotel, I found Boulevard Bread, a great little shop with fresh baked goodies and delicious coffee (exactly what one needs in the morning). Once I got a pastry, a fruit cup, and some caffeine in me, I was ready to face the day!

I'd decided to start off at Little Rock Central High School, the site of a protracted desegregation in 1957. The building itself is still a functioning high school. However, the National Park Service maintains visitors' center across the street.

I found this attraction to be so moving. There are many multimedia elements inside the center - video clips of much of the news coverage at the time, heartfelt interviews with some students involved in the desegregation, just some profound history. The center provides an in-depth look at what the experience of those African-American students was like, and how important what they did was to the whole racial fabric of the United States (and, particularly, the South).

After spending some time in the visitors' center, I walked across the street to the high school itself. It's still a gorgeous building with amazing architecture. Because it was a weekend, I was able to get some up-close shots of the front facade, sit on a bench outside, and just ponder it all for a while.

Afterwards, I headed back to the River Market district. It was a bright, sunny day, and I wanted to explore Riverfront Park. What a good idea! Paths run between the River Market district and the water, and along the way are all sorts of interesting things: public art, placards that tell you about the history of the area, a series of beautiful pedestrian bridges (I crossed a couple of them.), and even some outdoor performance spaces. I was completely enchanted with this place, and it was mere steps from my hotel! I grabbed a sandwich to go at a nearby spot, decamped to a bench, and took it all in.
Public art at Riverfront Park!

After a quick rest at my hotel, it was back out for a bit. I'd heard that I MUST have dinner at Capital Bar and Grill, so off I went. I started with a glass of wine and the bar's trademark fried black eyed peas. My appetite whetted, I moved on to the roasted chicken, which came with crispy Brussels sprouts and a butternut squash puree. Delightful! The food was delicious, and the environment was dim and welcoming. The next time I come to Little Rock, I'll have to stay a night or two in their hotel!

After dinner, I had a little time to kill before my curtain time in North Little Rock. For funsies, I decided to walk, crossing one of the pedestrian bridges and getting GREAT views of the city as I went. I took my time, snapping lots of pics, and easily found my next destination - The Joint. A friend of mine who lives in Little Rock had suggested I swing by this fun comedy club/coffee bar, and it didn't disappoint! I saw their Frost Bite Me!, a fun sketch/improv show that's both written and performed by locals. I got a cup of coffee and a BIG chocolate chip cookie, leaned back in my chair, and laughed my head off. The cafe also serves some light food and alcoholic beverages, so there are lots of options.

After the show was over, I caught the trolley back over the river. It dropped me within a few blocks of my hotel, just in time for me to catch the lights show on the pedestrian bridges! So gorgeous! I watched the whole thing, snapped a few pics, and ambled the last few blocks back to my hotel.

What a view!
Before I left town the next morning, I did a little shopping. I found my heart's desire at The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. The Butler Center operates a retail art gallery featuring the work of Arkansas artists. For a while, I'd been looking for an ornate wooden box for our foyer, a place to put stamps, odds and ends, etc. I found JUST the thing (and reasonably priced, too) here. Needless to say, it came home with me!

I so enjoyed my time in Little Rock, and I'm looking forward to going back! What a fun town!

Rockin' a little

Clinton's Cabinet Room
Earlier this year, I got the chance to spend a few days in Little Rock, Ark. I was in town for business, and I just took the weekend and poked around. What fun!

I stayed in the River Market district, at the CourtYard by Marriott downtown. Well-located, clean and quiet, it made a perfect home base to explore the area!

My first morning in town, I was jonesing for some breakfast. I met up with a local friend at The Root Cafe. What a find! This tiny local restaurant serves up heaping plates of breakfast food in a fun, funky atmosphere. They source as much of their ingredients as possible from small Arkansas producers. We ordered at the counter (pancakes!), found a corner table, and settled in.

The food was delicious, and the company was even better! As we ate breakfast, we could smell other goodies baking in the kitchen. Every once in a while, a server would come out with a hot pan of cookies or brownies and set them on a nearby shelf to cool. OMG. It was really hard not to reach out and snag one!

After breakfast, the FIRST place I headed was the Clinton Presidential Center. I had never been to a presidential library before, and I'd heard really good things about this attraction!

It was so cool! I got to snoop through a replica of the Oval Office, check out menus and table settings from various state dinners, and see all kinds of memorabilia from Clinton's eight years in office. They also have a replica of the presidential cabinet room. You can choose a chair to sit in and scroll through an interactive program about members of the cabinet. (I chose the "Secretary of Energy"
One of the exhibits at Heifer Village
chair! Heh.)

The library hosts rotating exhibits, too. When I was there, they had a fun exhibit about Charles Schultz's The Peanuts on display. Parts of the building also have sweeping views of the river and the bridges that arch over it. Just a lovely space.

I easily spent a couple of hours here before my stomach started rumbling! I decided to stop at the on site restaurant, Forty-Two. It was a good choice! Again, a wall of glass provides beautiful views of the river. I chose a big, beautiful steak sandwich with a cup of soup. Very satisfying.

Afterwards, since I was close by, I decided to head over to Heifer Village. You may or may not know about Heifer International. They are a global aid organization that aims to lift families out of poverty by helping them become self-sufficient. You can donate money to buy a needy family a goat, or a cow, or chickens, or even honey bee hives. (Little man and I love to do this for his teachers as a Thanksgiving present. We give a gift in their name.)

Anyway, at Heifer Village, which is the headquarters of Heifer International, you can tour some cool hands-on exhibits about world hunger, poverty, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, the importance of technology, and more. It's a really cool, free stop. You can also browse their shop, which features international goods made by craftsmen (and women!) from around the globe. (I picked up a scented candle and a few other pretties!)

An AMAZING performance by Arkansas Rep
After a day of touring, I headed back to my hotel to freshen up. I had tickets to see the opening night performance of The Whipping Man at Arkansas Repertory Theatre that night, and I didn't want to be late! I arrived a bit early, got a quick snack from the pre-show concession vendor, and perused the original art on display in the lobby area. Then, I settled into my (awesome) seat for the show.

What a powerful script. Ironically, my local professional theatre, New Stage, had done The Whipping Man last season, but I'd missed it! I was glad to catch it in Little Rock. The cast was fantastic (and they need to be, because three actors carry the whole show), and the plot is, by turns, uplifting and hopeless. I really enjoyed this show.

I drove my little rented Prius back to the hotel and turned in for the night.

More to come . . .

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Been reading a good bit lately. A few of the highlights:

  • After finishing Simon Sinek's Start With Why, I moved on to his Leaders Eat Last. This is a better book than the first. There's more meat to it, and I found myself underlining more passages. Sinek's is a people-first management style - leaders take care of their people, and the rest of the business takes care of itself.
  • You can see that Sinek's philosophy echoes that of Max DePree in Leadership is an Art, first published in 1989. DePree instructs his reader to ask the right questions about a business so as to clarify identity and true objectives. He also contends that all businesses are truly in the people business. (DePree's book is famous, widely read, and I agree with much of what he wrote wholeheartedly. The problem then becomes - if we all agree this is the ideal, why do so few business actually operate on a people-first model? I'm going to have to find a few people to have that conversation with.)
  • A girl I worked with once has written and published a novel! It's called The Story of Land and Sea. It's a beautiful, glimmering book that tells the story of a Carolina family during the Revolutionary War and the years after. In some ways, the story is very much about women - young Helen, who falls in love with an ex-pirate-turned-soldier; her daughter, Tabitha, who yearns for adventure on the open water; Moll, a slave girl given to Helen as a birthday present. It's also very much about loss. Happiness is fleeting for all of the characters, none moreso than the female ones. This is not a happy book, but it's delicately and beautifully written.
  • My favorite book of the ones I've read recently is All the Light We Cannot See. Though the book is set in Europe before, during and after World War II, this book is really more about wanting something more for one's life and knowing oneself than it is about the war. The two main characters are Marie Laure, a young, blind girl whose father is the locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Werner is a young German orphan obsessed with science and mechanics. The reader follows their paths as war tears the fabric of the world, knowing all along that at some point, they will meet. They do, and it's wonderful. I love the economy of author Anthony Doerr's prose. There's not a word wasted, but the novel is lushly descriptive. Loved, loved, loved this book.
  • And then, just to keep things fun, I read Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. This was a hoot! I enjoyed getting to know Harris better, and I thought the gimmick of the book was a fun throwback to my own childhood. Worth picking up for a fun read; this book would be legend - wait for it - ary as a beach read.

Adventures in scouting

We signed Clay up for Cub Scouts this year! They send flyers home from school, and since I was a Girl Scout until I graduated high school (and since the Boy Scouts have lately decided to be a bit more welcoming), I thought we'd check it out!

We headed to the informational meeting, asked lots of questions, got lots of answers, and decided to give it a whirl.

We've really enjoyed it so far! A lot of the boys in our den are either kids Clay knows from the neighborhood or boys he goes to school with. It's fun to get to know them and see the boys together. We participated in the car-washing fundraiser (Cars and boys got soaked!), learned how to use tools (The whole pack was surprised when I pulled my little multi-tool out of my purse!) and toured the police station. (When we toured the station, the officers put all the boys in the holding cell together. You could see all of the parents outside, exchanging glances, wondering if we had time to shut the door and make a run for it! Heh.)

We haven't been much for selling popcorn, and we didn't go on the first camp out (Work travel made timing difficult for that one.), but so far, we all enjoy scouting!

Playing dress up

Ready for Oz!
Clay and I had TWO opportunities to throw on costumes this fall!Not only did we get to dress up as super-ninjas for Halloween (more on that later), we also got to spend an evening in Oz for the fall festival at the Mississippi Children's Museum.

Clay has loved this museum since it opened. We have a family membership there, and we even held Clay's birthday party there earlier this year. When we heard their annual fall festival was going to be a big, costumed version of the Wizard of Oz, we were in! I threw on last year's witch costume, and with a little makeup, a floppy hat, and some hay, we turned Clay into a scarecrow.

We had a blast at the party, which offered food, special activities and Oz-themed crafts. We also loved seeing tons of other kids and parents in their costumes. A local high school was putting on The Wizard of Oz as a stage play in the next couple of weeks, and so their costumed cast (and, I'll bet, some of their cool painted backdrops) were throughout the museum. Just really, really fun and cool. We had a great time!

For Halloween this year, Clay wanted to be a ninja. No problem! (Ninja costumes are warm and
The Bradshaw ninjas . . .
comfortable, and since we had a cold snap right around Halloween - and bone-chilling wind that night - it turned out to be PERFECT!)

Halloween was really fun in our neighborhood this year! Our little crew carved two pumpkins and decorated to the hilt. As a neighborhood, we'd organized a bit ahead of time. Several houses hosted "attractions" for the kids!

. . . not so silent, not so deadly.
We had a beanbag toss, a family photo booth, one of those "put your hands in and guess the creepy thing you're touching" table, and I set up a table and handed out warm apple cider and Halloween snack mix. (We tried to get a neighborhood hayride, too, with no luck. Liability issues, I guess.) It was fun! We trick or treated with Clay and easily covered half the neighborhood before calling it a night. Our little ninja came home with an impressive haul (nearly half of which we sent to school the next Monday, just to reduce the diet carnage at our house).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New eats in Jackson

During the past few months, I've tried a few new restaurants in the Jackson area with sharing.

1.) Saltine. This fun new oyster bar is located in Duling Hall, and you will love it! Both the woodfired and the fried oysters are delicious, as is their po' bao appetizer (inventive). You will LOVE their banoffee pie, and amazing combination of banana, coffee, caramelized sugar and whipped cream in a mason jar. Just get the banoffee pie. Trust me on this one.

2.) Caet is a little spot specializing in wine and small plates, perfect for dinner/drinks with a friend. (It, too, is located in Fondren, practically adjacent to Saltine.) We started with the chickpea appetizer, which is a really good value for the money (huge portion, and tasty to boot!). We also chose a fish small plate and a beef carpaccio small plate. Both were good. Service was speedy, and prices were reasonable. A fun, social spot!

3.) Lou's recently opened up in Belhaven, in the location of the old Basil's (adjacent to the old Jitney 14). In the past few weeks, I've eaten at a reception they catered, joined them for dinner, and taken a friend to lunch there. The food here is really, really good. Service is young and adorable. Prices are reasonable. And they have a cute side deck where you can eat in the open air. But, mainly, the food is really, really good. At lunch, I had the roasted chicken daily special. Amazing. When I went by for dinner, I chose the smoked salmon dip (which I would recommend to ANYONE. Delicious!!) and a side anti-Caesar salad (named so because Lou's uses anchovy-less dressing). Get over there. The food is really, really good. Just get over there.


Slides at Shelby Farms Park
At the end of the summer, hubs, little man, and I headed to Memphis for a weekend of fun! The three of us hadn't been in a few years, and we were anxious to hit a few of the spots we missed on the first go-round.

We headed up on a Friday after work, stopping for a quick Italian dinner in Grenada, Miss., at Carmella's Ristorante. I had the tasty Greek Goddess pizza, a Mediterranean-style pie, and Clay and I split some tiramisu for dessert. Then it was on to our hotel for the weekend. We'd booked a room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Memphis/East Galleria, largely due to their positive reviews on TripAdvisor. Once checked in, we cleaned up and bedded down for the night.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel the next morning, we headed straight to what many say is one of the best family attractions in Memphis - Shelby Farms Park. I cannot BELIEVE I'd never visited this place until recently. First of all, the park is HUGE - some 4,500 acres. Secondly, they have nearly everything you can possibly imagine - really cool/inventive play spaces, tons of trails, lakes with paddle boats, bike rentals, disc golf, horseback riding, and a freaking HERD OF BUFFALO. And lastly, to just show up and enjoy the trails and play spaces is completely FREE!

Climbing skillz
When we went, they were doing some renovations to one end of the park, near where the dog park/trails are. We parked near the welcome center, oriented ourselves, and headed to the nearby playgrounds. They were such fun concept spaces! A deep hole was lined with play mats and big, wide slides. Another area had complicated webbing that kids could climb on like spiders, with cables connecting tree houses, hammocks for swinging, and platforms from which you could survey your athletic achievement. They also had areas for water play. We loved this place, and we stayed there all morning. (A park staffer even came around at 11-ish, offering free bottled waters to guests. Now THAT'S customer service!)

At lunchtime, our stomachs started rumbling. A little Google mapping led us straight to The Elegant Farmer, another place new to us that had received great online reviews. (P.S. It appears that recently, they've dropped the word "elegant" from their name. FYI if you are in search of them while in town.) The restaurant serves what they call "elevated" comfort food, with ingredients locally sourced and sustainably grown.

This place was a find, and the food completely hit the spot! I had a gorgeous farmer salad and a plate of creamy macaroni and cheese. Clay had a PB&J, and hubs had an amazing patty melt. Service was quickish and friendly, and we really enjoyed our lunch here.

Lunch at The Elegant Farmer
After that, it was off to another main attraction - The Pink Palace Museum. I LOVED this place as a girl. (I can remember being captivated by the miniature circus and the shrunken head!) We hadn't brought Clay there on his previous trip, and I couldn't wait to show him all of my old favorites!

We started with an awesome temporary exhibit on tarantulas that Clay loved. Live tarantulas, tarantula facts, images of webs projected onto walls so you could pretend you were a giant spider, and one conspicuously EMPTY tarantula case! Fun! Then, we moved on to some of the permanent exhibits. (My darling circus is still there, but it's no longer animated, due to age and the delicacy of the figures. Clay thought the medical exhibit was particularly interesting. We looked at all the tools doctors use to get beans and buttons and other tiny objects out of the noses, ears, and throats of too-curious little boys!)

We stopped for a light dessert and drinks in the museum cafe, then headed toward the shrunken head. But when we got to that part of the museum, it was cordoned off. It looked as though a wedding reception were going to take place there. I couldn't figure out how to get us around the wedding and into the room where the shrunken head is housed, so down to the front desk we went to ask for directions.

The Pink Palace Museum!
Turns out, that WHOLE PART of the museum was booked for the private event. Including the shrunken head room! I bemoaned my situation to the sweet girl at the front desk. I explained that I'd been talking up this shrunken head for days. After a second, she asked me, "Was the event already started, or were the tables empty?" Empty. With a finger to her lips, she led us quickly back to the area, pushed aside the velvet rope, and gave us our own private audience with the shrunken head. Clay was pretty amazed. And so was I! (The hilarious thing about it is that, on the placard next to the head, they provide directions for making your own shrunken head. This leads you to believe that obtaining a decapitated human head is literally the only thing standing between you and a shrunken head of your very own.)

On the monorail at Mud Island
After that, we went back to our hotel for a rest before meeting up with one of my husband's college roommates and his girlfriend for dinner. We went to Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, a nice, open-plan restaurant with plenty of menu variety. I chose the kobe beef meatloaf, and both hubs and little man had steaks. The meatloaf was soooo good! It came with a rich mushroom sauce and parmesan mashed potatoes. I washed it down with a glass of red.

We had the best time talking and laughing with our dining companions! I hadn't spent much time with them (and had never event met the sweet girlfriend
Mud Island's scale river model
before), but they were quick and funny and smart and easy to spend time with. And Clay behaved very well and ate his veggies! Success!

The next morning, it was another quick breakfast at the hotel, then off to Mud Island! I hadn't been to Mud Island, a scale model of the lower Mississippi River that you can wade in and play on, since I was a child. As it was a gorgeous day, we didn't choose to visit the museum, opting instead to head straight for the monorail and the outdoor model.

We rode the red monorail car slowly out to the model and the Riverwalk, enjoying the views and the novelty. Then, it was off with our socks and into the water! Clay loved wading the whole length of the Mississippi! The model is very educational, with placards throughout explaining topography and history. They also have large bronze (?) aerial maps of the cities along the river, and we loved finding cities we knew!

Though we all really enjoyed this attraction, it could use some refurbishing. It's beginning to show its age. I don't know if they plan to do any repairing or sprucing up soon, but I hope they do.

I love this guy!
We were getting hungry for lunch by this time. Luckily, we were only blocks away from Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken! We just barely beat the major lunch rush. After a short wait, we were seated and digging into spicy, perfectly-fried yard bird.

Our tummies full, we headed for home. Until next time, Memphis!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

NYC in July, cont.

The famous Starry Night
On Wednesday, we were both flying out, but not until the afternoon. That meant we had some quality time to enjoy in the city on our last day.

We started with a delicious breakfast at Sarabeth's (Central Park South location). I'd eaten here on my last trip to NYC and really enjoyed it. Last time, I'd had the lemon ricotta pancakes. Anxious to sample something new, I chose the toasted coconut waffle on this occasion. Sweet, nutty, with a mango glaze, this dish was extremely filling and more like a dessert than breakfast. Atlee had the french toast, which she generously allowed me to try as well. Both were absolutely delicious! We enjoyed our breakfasts, Atlee sipping her four flowers juice while I downed my coffee in big, grateful gulps.

After eating, it was off to the Museum of Modern Art. I have to admit, I'm not much of a modern art fan. I often feel I'm being taken for a fool, just a *little* bit. But Atlee, who minored in art history, promised she'd talk me through anything I thought was bogus (so I wouldn't feel like such a chump), and in we went.

Wyeth's Christina's World
Much like the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the previous day, MoMA allows you to check your bags (and crutches) and check out free wheelchairs. So once again, we were able to wheel through the exhibits with ease. We started with the special exhibition on the work of Lygia Clark, a Brazilian whose work was very participatory. It was almost like performance art. She'd create these costumes or masks or installations, and then she'd have subjects put them on or interact with them and film it. So her art wasn't really complete until she immersed someone in it. (You could tell that half the folks in the videos were ragingly high, but that didn't make it any less interesting.)

We also strolled by plenty of Picassos, Pollocks, Kahlos and Warhols, in addition to spending a bit of time in front of Van Gogh's Starry Night, which I had never seen in person. One of my favorites from the day was Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World. Gorgeous detail, and not a limited or depressing portrayal, at all, of a girl with restricted physical abilities.

Shakespeare in the park
After enjoying the museum for the morning and early afternoon, Atlee hopped in a cab to get to the airport. I was catching a slightly later flight, so I made my way to Central Park. It was a lovely, sunny day, and not too hot. Even though I've spent significant time in Central Park South, there were still a few areas that I'd missed.

Passing by beautiful Bethesda Fountain, I made my way to the mall and literary walk. I strolled along, taking pictures of the statues, appraising the work of the street artists, and people watching. Before long, I found myself at Conservatory Water. I took a close look at the Hans Christian Andersen statue, watched children sail their boats in the water, and climbed up to commune with Alice and Wonderland for a bit.

Curiouser and curiouser near Conservatory Water
By this time, the clock was ticking on my departure, so I caught a quick cab back to the hotel, and then to the airport. My flights back home were blessedly on time (and I even ran into a friend on the final leg, from D.C. to Jackson), and I was back home with my sweeties by that evening.

I so, so love New York City. What an amazing town! Can't wait to come back!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

NYC in July, cont.

Charles James Collection at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sigh.
Tuesday morning found us cabbing it to Saint Ambroeus for breakfast. What a great little find! We were seated at an out-of-the-way table not too far from the door (just as I'd requested in my reservation). Our server whisked Atlee's crutches into a nearby nook for storage, and we got down to the business of breakfast! I chose the uova al tegamino con pancetta, two sunnyside up eggs with bacon, potatoes and toast. Delightful, and plenty to satisfy me. The food was delicious, service was quick, and the atmosphere of this place was warm and welcoming. This is not a cheap breakfast by any means, but it was yummy, charming and convenient to our next stop.

We'd decided to spend most of the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Brian and I had visited here on our previous trip to New York City, and I remember nearly weeping when we left because I felt there was so much I'd missed! This trip provided an opportunity for me to swing back through this behemoth of a museum and catch some of the art I hadn't gotten to last time.

I loved her face.
The best part? The museum offers free wheelchairs that patrons can check out! So, we came in at the handicapped entrance, checked Atlee's crutches, and then checked out a wheelchair. We spent the rest of the morning (and the early part of the afternoon) wheeling around the museum to our hearts' content. Wonderful!

We started with one of their special exhibitions - a gorgeous collection of amazing dresses by Charles James. Atlee is an avid sewer and smocker, so she was particularly keen to check this out. And the minute I stepped into the exhibit space, so was I. Imagine dress after incredible dress, vivid colors and patterns, unbelievable architecture (full shaped skirts, whimsical bodices and collars, very structural work - all done in cloth), dramatically lit for display. Not only that, electronic equipment scanned the dresses as you watched accompanying screens, breaking down the pattern of the design and explaining all of the underpinnings that made the frock keep its fantastical shape. This was absolutely revolutionary for me. I don't know that I can look at a dress the same way, ever again.
One of the Vermeers I missed last time!

We also checked out some of the medieval art and one of the sculpture gardens. Then, we stopped in the on-site American Cafe for a light lunch. Afterwards, Atlee had a doctor's appointment to get to. I put her in a cab a spent some additional time at the museum. I checked out the Dutch/Flemish rooms (which had been closed on my previous visit), the armor, and the musical instruments.

By this time, my dogs were barking! And when I stepped outside the museum, I saw that it was pouring down rain! Luckily, I'd brought my umbrella. A little energetic waving landed me a cab, which deposited me, safe and dry, back at the Bentley.

Atlee's doctor's appointment ran long, so I relaxed that afternoon, showering and gussying up for the evening's entertainments. We met back up for dinner at Pigalle, a little brasserie that you often see advertised in Playbills. I'd discovered it on my last trip to NYC and loved it. I had a creamy bowl of porcini ravioli, followed by a bright apple tart. Full and happy, we only had to round the corner to arrive at our next destination.

Live theatre ROCKS!
Determined to catch at least ONE of this year's Tony winners while I was in town, so I'd booked us tickets in advance for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. What a HOOT! Young Monty, upon the death of his mother, discovers that he's actually a member of the lordly Dysquith family. In fact, there are only some 8 living Dysquiths between him and an earldom. Learning that his poor mother was disowned and rejected by the family, leading to her sorrowful death, he decides to exact revenge on the family and move himself closer to a title in the process. An expertly-staged musical farce, this production had us rolling in the aisles! There was no weak link in the cast, but the clear star of the show is Jefferson Mays, who plays most of the members of the snobbish Dysquith family. Songs are hilarious and delivered with remarkable talent, personality and vocal control. There is a reason this show won the 2014 Tony Award for best musical. Not to be missed!!

After the show, we grabbed a cab back to the hotel and slept soundly.

More to come . . .