May 28, 2013

Memorial Day at the Shore!

As soon as the "school bell" let out on Friday, Kern and I were in the car headed to the Shore to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.  The first day we were there, we experienced wind like I've never known!  It was too cold and windy to do much we went to downtown Cambridge, stopped in at the local produce stand and spent time cooking, reading and watching baseball on TV.

I never get tired of watching the sun set here!

Sunday was sunnier and the wind finally slowed down enough for us to take a two hour bike ride then spend the afternoon and evening in St. Michael's.

Our first stop was Eastern Shore Brewing where we sampled the local beers while watching the foot traffic on South Talbot Street.

I love walking up and down the historic town streets - intermingled in the ice cream shops and modern retails stores are reminders of early American history.

"I'll take one of each, please..."

We ended the evening at St. Michael's Crab and Steak House for dinner and watched the end of the sunset. 

Monday was even nicer and proved perfect for yet another bike ride through the countryside exploring the "Neck District."  There is something about an open field that just makes me feel happy.

We paused for a water stop and to watch the fishermen on the spillway.

And in closing: please do not forget to thank those in your life who have served (or who are serving) our country.  It is because of them that we have the freedoms we so cherish.

May 22, 2013

Celebrating ASCAP - "We Write the Songs"

The Library of Congress is so much more than a building that houses books.  It is an institution that catalogues our American life--from music to art to our modern day tweets!

In fact, the Library's music division has over 20,000,000 items in its collection--it is the largest and most comprehensive music library in world. (U.S.A.!)

Every year, We Write the Songs is an event that celebrates the gift of the ASCAP Foundation (American Society of Composers, Authors and Producers) to the Library.  Realizing the historical importance of preserving music for generations to come, many of the composers and authors donate original manuscripts, lead sheets, lyric sheets, photos and letters to the Library's collection.  To give you an idea of the depth and breadth of the collection they have items from Irving Berlin to Bruce Springsteen, Duke Ellington to Johnny Cash to Beyonce.

Many times the author of a hit single is rarely recognized publicly and hardly gets as much attention as the singer.  For example, we got to watch Siedah Garrett perform the hit song that she wrote -- a little tune called "Man in the Mirror" - you may recognize that title from a Michael Jackson song.  Yep, she wrote it.  And yes--it was phenomenal.

These authors and composers spoke of their work, their struggles to make it and shared their stories. It was truly inspiring.

Mary Chapin Carpenter talked about her writing style and told us how she walks with her dogs and sings to them when she is stuck on a lyric.  Then she performed two songs with her guitar.

The last performer was the gentleman who wrote "Tomorrow" for the broadway hit Annie.  He said that hard times in America were his inspiration for the tune.  As he played and sung, tears welled up in my eyes.

It is easy to underestimate how much we are influenced by music in our daily lives.

Have you ever heard a song and been instantly transported back in time to a period in your life that was particularly poignant--whether it was happy or sad?

Then you know the ability of music and the strong tie it has to our lives.

After the incredible concert, we were treated to a special dinner in the Library's Great Hall - complete with a perfect view of the Capitol.

Cheers to our songwriters and their ability to make imprints on our lives!

May 20, 2013

Mother's Day weekend in Atlanta

It had been a little too long since I had a weekend with my family, so for Mother's Day, Kern and I flew to Atlanta.  My aunt and uncle live there and my parents and Gran Fran drove over.  It was the perfect meet-in-the-middle location.

We didn't waste any time--as soon as the plane landed we started having fun.

The boys played golf: Kern, Dad, Uncle John

For an early Mother's Day celebration, Gran Fran, Mom, Aunt Susan and I had lunch at the Swan Coach House.

I treated my mother and Aunt Susan treated her mother to a lovely meal where we were surrounded by beautiful roses.

Sisters: Marcia and Susan

Gran Fran and me

Throughout the weekend, we got to spend time with most of my cousins and their kids--it was so wonderful.

Kern, Dad and I took Carter and Brooks for a golf cart ride.  As soon as we got off at the neighborhood playground, Brooks didn't waste any time climbing into the driver's seat.  He was ready!

After a fun afternoon of playing, it was finally time to wind down on the couch.

"Dude time"

Kern enjoyed an afternoon of kayaking on Lake Kedron.

Mom made the most beautiful three-layer strawberry cake and topped it with fresh flowers.

The mothers cut the first piece!

Sweet Joella and cutie-pie Will.  

He and I bonded and had the best time playing together!

Gang's all here!

The weather was perfect all weekend--we spent a lot of time on the porch.

The best mommy!

Three generations:
Gran Fran
Susan and Marcia

Can't forget my Daddy!

The best type of Sunday drive!

May 08, 2013

A Piece of Spring

I find my desk can be a little utilitarian sometimes, so it's nice to spruce up my space occasionally with a little pop of color.

Kern bought me this mini flowering succulent and it fit perfectly into my small McCarty pottery planter.  I've been cautiously watering it and strategically moving it to the window for sunlight.

Even on days where I can't be outside, it's nice to enjoy pink blooms from the comfort of my desk chair!

May 06, 2013

French Brunch at Le Diplomate

I wish I could claim to be a more avid reader of the Washington Post on a daily basis, but I would be lying if I said I read it every single day.  Thankfully, Kern is a thorough reader...even of the Wednesday Food Section.  He saw a review for Le Diplomate - a new French restaurant in Logan Circle and immediately sent me the link.

My response: "When can we go?"

We arrived Sunday morning, 10 minutes before Le Diplomate opened, but we were seated immediately at the perfect booth - we had a view of the entire restaurant and we were able to sit next to each other.

The decor immediately transported me to Paris.  The bistro chairs, the tile floor, a gorgeous display of freshly baked was magical.

First order of business was to order the pastry basket and coffee.  We split each pastry, taking careful time to doctor it appropriately with either fresh butter or scrumptious strawberry preserves.  For me, it was a tie between the blueberry muffin and chocolate croissant - but each bite was delicious. 

By 10:30 am, folks were lined up outside and we were thankful for our cozy booth and perfect timing.

For my main dish, I ordered a French classic: Croque-Madame.  It was everything I expected and more.

The finale was Creme Brulee.  For your entertainment, please see the before and after shots.  

Can you see the tiny vanilla beans in the bottom photo?

The verdict: I will definitely return.  My inner Francophile was fed, entertained and left happy.

May 02, 2013

My Mother, the Artist

When I rearranged my room and sold some furniture, I had a blank wall that needed to be filled.  I began perusing the internet for a fun art print that I could frame to bring some color and spunk to this otherwise bland wall.

Then I had an idea.  

Over the last couple of years, my mom has been tinkering with watercolor in her spare time.  (As in...teaching herself how to paint.)  She is constantly looking for inspiration from flowers to still scenes.  It occurred to me: why not get her to paint a picture of one of my favorite photos?  It was a win-win...a project for her and wall art for me that would be much more meaningful than a random print.

I chose this photo that Kern and I took using a self-timer at the Shore during our Easter break is 2012.  It has always been one of my favorites - a gorgeous sunset taken on the pier with just our silhouettes.  

Well, my wish was granted and I love the painting more than I can explain in this meager blog post.
After several attempts that she did not like, Mom declared that her pieces was "ok."
I adamantly disagreed and immediately commanded that she have it framed.
(I'm nice like that.)

So...she did.  And now my wall is not forlorn and barren any longer.  

Isn't that just how mothers are?  Giving and giving beyond what we ask or imagine.
So, thank you Mom.  I love it.  It will always remind me of you and your limitless talents.

Happy Mother's Month!

May 01, 2013

Happy Birthday, Carolyn!

Spring is finally peeking its head into DC (despite some nights when it's still in the 40's!) so Carolyn's birthday celebration was the perfect excuse to spend an evening outdoors cooking out and enjoying lawn games. 

Carolyn's sister, brother-in-law and two nieces joined us...hence Buck holding the baby.  If this isn't a glimpse into the future, I don't know what is.


Jordan made a slight edit to his amazing hamburger recipe and (if this is even possible) they were more delicious than usual!

Mary Mitchell and me with the Birthday Girl!

It was great to enjoy James Creek Marina!

Carolyn and Jordan

And look who flew in from Dallas just in time to party!  Miss Laine Evans herself!
It was so great to have a little quality Laine time.

Spring resolution: eat outside more!  Now, if we could just get some weather in the 80's!
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