A few days before my move from DC, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: the Potomac Cruise and visit to Mount Vernon. And with no cruises scheduled for Monday, I lucked out. Initially I planned for Monday, but when I saw Monday wasn’t an option, I bought tickets for Sunday. The day started out sunny with blue skies, and did end a bit cloudy. But on Monday there was a steady drizzle; hence the lucking out.
We arrived just as they were conducting the wreath ceremony at Washington’s tomb and watched as veterans read selected readings and settled a wreath inside. There were a few minutes to take pictures before the gates were closed again. After that, it was a beautiful walk through the woods and on the rolling dirt path to the house itself.
With pieces borrowed from the Smithsonian and private donors, photographs were not allowed inside the house itself. Too bad though, as I would have loved to get pictures of the key to the Bastille hanging on the wall!
I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.
- George Washington
The grounds were beautiful and the gardens were full! And all that rain only helped (at least on that relatively rain-free day) by making everything beautifully green and giving the air just a slight chill. It was definitely a place I could see Washington retiring to after so many demands on his time and faculties while in office. The porch has a beautiful overlook to the Potomac, and the lands across the river are protected as well to give the view the same sort of look that Washington may have enjoyed.
The rooms themselves on the first floor were brightly painted, including this deep but bright lime green color over everything (walls, fireplace) in the daily dining room. It was not really the sort of color I picture, but perhaps that’s because of the more muted walls at Monticello and Ash Lawn.
After the house, we took a visit to the rest of the grounds and stopped to see adorable baby lambs just past the stables. There were also two cows and baby pigs nearby, along with a very short wagon ride down on the Potomac at the mill.
Good things come to those who wait. And DC has waited for cherry blossoms this year. And waited some more. At least it sure felt like it when there were days promising spring finally visiting…only to have those hopes frozen by a return of cold weather. Late possible snow storms also teased us with…well…snowflakes but not an inch accumulating (for long) in DC’s parks and traffic circles. So we waited for our cherry blossoms. And waited some more.
But they’re out! I visited twice over the weekend, each time seeing a promise of blooming trees but always still to come. Until last night when I visited again at sunset and was welcomed by rows and rows of beautiful, fragile white and pink blossoms. Hello spring, I’ve missed you.
And the wait has been worth it.
My sister visited the other weekend and it was a great, full weekend of DC fun. She’s been here a few times before, so the focus wasn’t so much on visiting each of the monuments and checking in at the museums. But as I explained it to one of my friends, it was more like a full weekend of experiencing living in DC.
Dupont farmers’ market
DC living experiences like shopping in Georgetown and checking out the Sunday morning Dupont farmers’ market. And of course there was eating so much good food. I took her to some of my favorite DC restaurants (Bistro du Coin, Zaytinya) and even tried a couple of other places that I really should have tried before (like Thai Tanic).
Shrimp and peanut curry at Thai Tanic.
And of course, the weather was amazing. Even more so considering how winter-like this past weekend was (on my walk to work yesterday, I thought it felt more like the start of winter than the beginning!). It was sunny, warm and we sat at the edge of the Potomac in Georgetown enjoying the sun sparkling on the water and our splurge from Georgetown Cupcake.
There was also the free concert at the National Gallery that we took in, and enjoyed some time with my friends. Did I mention we checked out some really great restaurants and shopping? And then on her last night here, which was kind of appropriate, we walked along the mall with the monuments lighting up against the sunset.
St. Matthew’s Cathedral
Inside the Old stone House in Georgetown
I was a little disappointed with the snow showing in DC yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so ready for spring and sandal weather and patio seating, but if there was the promise of a lot of snow, then bring it. I was really looking forward to taking my camera down to the mall for another round of photos of the monuments reaching up out the snow. I’ve had my “new” camera for about a year and a half now, and there’s not been any opportunity to try it out and its super cool snow setting (no idea what that does, since I’ve not been able to use it since I found it!).
From the 2010 snowstorm. And from my old camera.
Yesterday morning the snowfall was BEAUTIFUL! It was, for the most part, big and fluffy and dancing in spurts on the slight wind. Then of course the wind picked up and the snow shrunk and warmed until it was no more than rain. And that’s what we had for the rest of the day.
And…that was likely the last chance for snow this winter. There could always be a freak snowstorm, I realize that. After all, this one kind of was, especially for other areas. But anyone who knows me, or this blog, know that I’m not a fan of cold weather. Unless it snows. Otherwise I want it warm and sunny. So with no more snowfall this winter, I’m ready for spring. But while longing for snow, enjoy a few gratuitous pics from playing in the snow three years ago.
I didn’t realize it when I wrote down a list of ingredients to purchase, but this weekend I had a few culinary firsts: first time poaching an egg, first time making rice pudding and first time trying almond milk. Although I guess in all fairness, the last two firsts go together in one recipe.
So the first recipe I tried was an almond milk rice pudding from January’s issue of Food & Wine. I’ve actually blogged about it more thoroughly at my food blog (shameless plug: the post is here at Grilled Fruit). I’ve long thought about attempting rice pudding, but to be honest, never quite sought out a recipe. So when Food & Wine had it for their January pantry staple, I thought: Perfect! And…I got to try almond milk for the first time too.
The verdict on almond milk was good. I do think it was a little on the sweet side to have a full glass of on its own, but that might just be the vanilla. I’m curious how almond milk would taste with hot chocolate…and if it snows this week, then I just may get to find out.
On to the egg poaching. I have to admit that I’ve kind of been a bit intimidated to try poaching an egg. Watching copious amounts of cooking shows, I hear about how it can be challenging to keep the egg together and on the cooking challenge shows, have seen a few poached eggs break along the way. But my friend gave me one of the most visually stimulating cookbooks and the first (out of too many) recipe I decided to try called for a poached egg. I figured no time like the present.
And it worked! Granted, the white did spread quite a bit and fell away from one side of the yolk when I took it out. So it wasn’t a perfect poach, but it really wasn’t quite bad for my first time. I was quite pleased, and it didn’t break when I patted the excess moisture off and laid it out over the top of a mushroom ragout. Voila!
If you’re curious about said amazing cookbook, it’s Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. So far have only made one, but I have several more recipes flagged to check out. And who knows? They may involve a few more culinary firsts. The other great thing about this book? They’re all vegetarian!
Twice a year the Library of Congress has an open house for the main reading room of the Jefferson Building when you can come in and take photos of the room. And their most recent open house fell on President’s Day and I luckily heard about it a few days prior (this is another one of those events where I think how have I not heard about this in the last several years?). So…of course I planned to go.
I joke that as a local, I try to avoid lines for things like the museums or other attractions. After all, I can see them any time of the year. Though the exception will be when friends come to visit. I gladly waited in a fast-moving line in front of the Library, and am so happy that I did. The Jefferson Building might just be one of my favorite buildings I’ve visited in the US. It’s bright, decorative, pristine, dignified, and the tributes to writers and books in the quotes and names on the ceilings were a nice touch.
And after walking around upstairs and looking down into the main reading room’s overlook, it was time to enter the reading room itself. I would not mind at all to spend time in this room reading and researching. It was kind of neat to sit down at a reading desk and look up at the ornate walls, the brilliantly lit ceiling vaulting above me, and into the nooks where shelves and shelves of books were neatly arranged waiting for the next researcher. I was half tempted to pull out my book and begin reading right there! Okay…more than half tempted, but I refrained. Instead I just took pictures. And more pictures.
I was meeting some friends later, so I didn’t stick around much longer to take a tour, but what I have learned is that it is the oldest of the three Library of Congress buildings, having been completed over 110 years ago. I’m not sure they really build buildings quite like this anymore. So I will have to go back and take a tour in the near future and learn more. The only downside is that it’s taken me so long to visit in the first place!
Happy Mardi Gras everyone! This is your day to indulge before…well, if you practice it, then it’s the last day to indulge before Lent. But if not, then it’s a way to indulge in spirit. It’s become my tradition to make spicy, vegetarian jambalaya in honor of New Orleans. And…speaking of that great city, I’m definitely due for a trip back.
I could definitely indulge in some fresh beignets from Cafe du Monde.
I wasn’t there for the craziness that is Mardi Gras, but there was still music, Cajun food and of course, a Hurricane or two, especially from Pat O’Brien’s. A long weekend was definitely not enough time to spend in the French Quarter and those old, tight romantic streets with wrought iron balconies. Then there was the sun coming up over the Mississippi river and a ferry boat docked along the river’s edge before we went for a table at the Cafe du Monde for beignets coming fresh out of the oven and powdered with more powdered sugar than I may have ever seen in one place.
And music. Of course the music. Starting late morning to the early afternoons it’s on nearly every block. Some new band is there, we even saw the same guy playing with a couple of different groups. There was a brass band on one corner and then a young guy playing acoustic ballads on another. One favorite afternoon may have been sitting on a balcony with a po’ boy, gumbo and a brass band playing down the street in the late afternoon sun.
I was kind of quiet in January, but not because there was nothing to report. It was a busy month and went by far too quickly. Though I find myself saying that about any month it seems. But there are a few highlights worth mentioning! And in no particular order.
- The first was that I had a longtime friend come to visit. My friend who visited is quite possibly one of the few people I’ve known the longest with the only exception being my family. Let’s just say that at this point, it’s a little over twenty (20!) years. It was her first visit to Washington, and when I say we did it all…well, we pretty much did: monuments, Kennedy Center, some museums, Ethiopian food, Georgetown with Dean & DeLuca and Georgetown Cupcake, and even tried to watch a little of the inaugural parade before heading to the airport.
- Leading from that, one highlight was definitely the ballet we saw at the Kennedy Center. We went to see the National Ballet of Canada’s production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Wow. It was so clever! And I have to say that one of my favorite moments was the dance done by the Caterpillar, though of course the Cheshire Cat was very clever in appearing in parts and sizes. Allow me one more use of the word clever: the flamingos were such a cool idea!
- I also discovered a new memorial in DC. A friend of mine got me The Essential Gibran for Christmas, which is a collection of writing from the Lebanese writer/poet. While looking through the introduction that same morning, we learned about a memorial park established in NW DC. It was one of slightly less than cool days, not too bad to take a walk, so we went to check it out. It’s very pretty, and I think will be even prettier in the warmer weather when the fountains are turned on.
January was a good month; not a bad way to start the year. If it’s any indication of what the new (I guess I shouldn’t really be calling it new into the second month) year will bring, then bring it. It was time spent with great friends, great experiences, good food, and good memories.
It’s cold! We had a couple of nice somewhat warm weekends, but cold and a little bit of snow settled in over the week. Now that the snow’s gone, it’s just cold. I’m definitely thinking of summer and the beach now!
The trek to Avalanche Lake nestled within Glacier starts off deceptively simple: a wooden path snaking around beautiful, lush cedars with the sound of water somewhere off in the distance. The going is slow, just ambling on and enjoying nature while quotations from Thoreau dance through the mind.
But then there’s a bit of a small hill to climb. Okay, it’s still a nice walk in the shade next to the snow melt surging down the mountainside. And then suddenly one notices that it’s not so easy anymore. It’s not quite a casual walk in the woods. Gone is the wooden path and the stairs and now it’s only rocks helping you over a hill dropped right in the middle of the trail. Or if no rocks, then one finds oneself steadily trekking up a steep incline. And the decline on the next side does not help either as the muscles needed suddenly change. At times it can be almost as tough.
At times it’s all woods and the mountains are barely visible through the canopy, if it is even possible that those gigantic glacier filled mountains can vanish. And there are moments in between passing hikers when it’s just oneself, hiking partners and no one else (except the bears!).
In true explorer-like fashion, we pushed through leaves growing all over the path and reaching up almost to the top of my head until suddenly we pushed aside the last one and there…calmly stretching out in front of us, was the lake.
It is just incredible how the mountains reflect on water so still and so clear I can see the bottom for as far forward into the lake as I can look.