Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011

I have been waiting all year to use this poem that I like so much, by  Ron Padgett, and today seems like the perfect day.

"That was fast. I mean life."

Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Flower Shop Browsing

There's a nice new flower shop in Reston Town Center and as I walked by there recently I stopped to appreciate their holiday window dressing and outdoor greenery.

A pretty orchid tucked among some pansies.

I loved how they used these succulents as decoration. They were real--I checked.

I wish there were more flower shops like this, they sure do a lot to brighten up a pedestrian walkway. It is so refreshing to see some greenery among a bunch of shops and restaurants. And I love going inside and seeing buckets full of fresh flowers. I hope all the shoppers and people in offices around this shop will keep them in business.  I can't wait to see this place in the spring.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dinner With A Top Chef

So if you don't watch Top Chef, you won't appreciate this post, but Mike Isabella was a star on two seasons of Top Chef, and was the runner-up on Top Chef All Stars. We love to watch Top Chef and Mike Isabella was always a favorite of ours, because he was from DC and was the chef at a restaurant in the building where Walt works downtown, Zaytinya. Now he has his own hip happening restaurant downtown, Graffiato, and we went there last night with Julia to celebrate both Walt's and my birthdays.

Pork belly with cannelini beans and ham
The menu is all small plates, so you get a nice selection of different tastes and flavors, brought out in succession. Of course I completely forgot to take pictures until the end of the meal, so you won't see the crispy brussels sprouts with maple, pancetta, and egg, or the roasted cauliflower with pecorino cheese, the risotto with lobster and mascarpone, the chestnut agnolotti with butternut squash and brussels leaves, or the scallops with sunchokes, citrus, and almonds that we enjoyed. They were de-li-cious. We wanted to lick the plates.  I did finally remember my camera, and got pictures of the pork belly with cannelini beans and the pizza with black truffles, fontina, and a farmed soft egg. Dessert was a dense chocolate tart with sea salt gelato and the specialty of the restaurant, zeppoles.

Pizza with black truffle, fontina cheese, and farmed soft egg

Looking out the window from our table
Zeppoles with autumn spices and pumpkin caramel
After dinner, Julia spoke to the waiter and asked if we could meet Mike Isabella, and told her it was our birthdays. (Sometimes it's good to have an assertive daughter.) So we got to meet Mike, talk about his experience on Top Chef (I asked about Padma, and yes, he is still friends with several of the other contestants), and he even put his arm around me and posed for a picture with moi!! So cool! It was a really fun night.

Julia and me
Oh, and I almost forgot, the coolest thing is they have prosecco on tap! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas at Brookside Gardens

Foxglove (I think)
One of my very favorite things to do over the holidays is visit The Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring, Maryland. We went there last Friday night and it was a perfect night--cold and clear, and not too crowded as we went kind of late.  It is a beautiful garden to visit in the spring and summer and at Christmas time they do an amazing light show in the gardens, highlighting the seasons, with spring flowers, sunflowers, autumn leaves, and snowflakes, along with a rain shower and lightening bolts. Hundred of trees and shrubs are wrapped in lights and I especially love all the flowers. There are also fun animal displays, like this cute caterpillar and dolphin.

I like this view because you can see the garden it is in

A pot of hyacinths--look at those cute flower lights

Sparkly Giraffe

Beehive (and bee) in tree

I loved this frog

And a sunflower of course
I've gotta get me some of those flower lights, they are super cool. My garden would look great with those flower lights...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dinner With Tom and Ev and the Girls

I was not a very good blogger yesterday, as this is the only picture I got of our visit with Tom and Evie and Hayden and Halle. Jill and Drew were taking advantage of the grandparents in town and went away for the night, so we only got to see the Bissell girls, and they are so sweet and well-behaved. They loved playing with Julia's doll house again, and they watched Julia make cake balls, which we all enjoyed for dessert, along with a little leftover peppermint ice cream cake. I made Ina's lasagna and salad for dinner, and Hayden had two servings of lasagna, which made me very happy!

Biff spent some time showing me how he deals with all his pictures on his computer and uses them for his blog. He stores them on a portable hard drive, thus not using tons of space on the computer. Taking pictures every day sure does fill up the memory on your computer, as I am finding, so I am looking for a better way to store my pictures, especially now that I have this fancy camera that will take up even more space.  I also gave him a library card, so he can try downloading books from our library, which he thinks has a wider selection of ebooks.

Today, it's back to work for everyone and I have to work tonight. It shouldn't be too busy in the library--don't think there will be too many kids in doing homework and projects! It's cold and rainy and dreary today, wish it would turn to SNOW!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day

Christmas morning, waiting for the sleepyheads to wake up

Here are a few pictures from throughout our Christmas day. Bob and Carol and the boys came over around 4 pm and we had a yummy dinner of beef tenderloin,  mashed potatoes, sweet-sour green beans, corn casserole, and popovers! A good old Davis Christmas dinner. We played a lot of Bananagrams, Sorry, and worked on the Christmas puzzle. Everyone was in good spirits and we were all happy to be together.

Pretty votives from Julia
Ellen got a new camera!
Walt got a new laptop

Keenan got a new phone
Boys playing Sorry
Bob and Julia
Julia and Carol puzzling
Julia, so proud of her "mise en place"
Julia and Jackson
Keenan and Julia, partners in Bananagrams
Julia's popovers
Peppermint ice cream cake

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Memories

Brooks's first Santa visit

I always put out the Santa pictures of our kids when they were little at Christmas time, because they bring back such happy memories.  Contrary to what I see at the malls today, with long lines and music and people overload, we had very good experiences with Santa and I have very sweet memories of our Santa visits. I would take them during the week to the mall and we would make an afternoon of it, visit Santa and then go out to a fancy (for kids) lunch afterwards at the Hot Shoppes cafeteria in the mall.

Julia's first Santa visit

I vaguely remember Santa visits myself, but I do have happy memories of Christmas lunches at the Silver Grille Restaurant in Higbee's Department Store in downtown Cleveland (think A Christmas Story, it's the same store). As kids we would get a little cardboard stove at the table, and it had tiny pots and pans on it with peas and carrots and mashed potatoes. Then you would get this teeny tiny china chicken with maybe creamed chicken in it?  My cousin Bob and I love talking about those lunches and remembering all the little details, like the little pitchers of chocolate milk that came with the stove. I seem to remember Santa made an appearance during lunch. I remember walking by and admiring all the department store windows at Christmas and it was always so fun to see who had the best, Higbees, May Company, or Halles. And then there was the smell of the nut store next to May Co.--wow, that is a strong memory.  I always wanted my mom to stop in there and get some roasted nuts!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookie Exchange 2011

Ellen, Eileen, Prudy
Last night was our famous Christmas Cookie Exchange. Eileen and Prudy came over to my house for dinner and we had a butternut squash lasagna and citrus salad. We first enjoyed some wine and oohed and aahed over all the cookies, and more importantly, the containers and little presents we put in along with the cookies. We spend a lot of time admiring each others containers and themes.

We are big into the presentation. This all began back in the day because Eileen felt her cookies weren't as good as Prudy's and mine, so she started putting her cookies into cute containers and adding little gifties. Now the containers are as important as the cookies! This year Eileen used a French Chocolat market bag, Prudy used beautiful wooden bowls she bought on her Vermont vacation, and I used a big blue flower pot.

After dinner, we have a sampling of all our cookies. This year Prudy made rugelach, a chocolate cookie with nutella (new this year), and a praline topped cookie. Eileen made chocolate caramel (a repeat that Julia requested!), a ginger cookie, and a lemon wafer with frosting. I made chocolate shortbread hearts, vanilla pretzels, and apricot bowties. Prudy brought a few extra raspberry thumbprints for dessert.

These are Eileen's caramel topped chocolate cookies that Julia requested. The presentation in that little box with the Christmas paper is excellent!

Prudy put her cookies in these cute peppermint bags.

And these are my containers, packed up with cookies and pressies, ready for Cookie Exchange.

We all had our Christmas socks on...

These Cookie Exchanges seem to be coming around faster and faster,  and it's hard to believe we have been carrying on this tradition for 28 years.  We all agreed that's a pretty solid tradition, and a whole lot of cookies!!