Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy Birthday to me

67 years ago my father got me and a block of chocolate for his birthday. We always had fun on our mutual birthday. Unfortunately my father is not here to celebrate any longer but I had a wonderful birthday today!

It started with opening the present from Helen. Every year I wish for a quilt calendar and she is always worried I might get bored of it. But that is not so. I am enjoying it year round. Thank you very much!



Few days ago I had mentioned to James that I would like to go for a little hike and then have lunch at the German restaurant in Fredericksburg our friend Kim keeps talking about. He thought it was a good idea and found a nice little walk. It's an hour's drive to Fredericksburg and the traffic was quite heavy (people going home?) but nothing actually slowed us down.



First we walked along the canal and then along the river. Very nice and fun.



At the end of the circle we walked along the canal again. Another walker was kind enough to take this photo.




I don't think we walked enough to offset the lunch to come!



It wasn't so easy to choose from the menu.



Ha-ha, can you see the server in the mirror taking the picture?





With my coffee came a complimentary dessert. I would not have had room for cake but the fruit was very nice.



The restaurant is actually located in the old railroad station. Nice atmosphere. Nice experience.



On the way home in the car I checked my mail and messages. It is so nice when your family and friends think of you. It's like when the doorbell rang when I was a child. THANK YOU TO YOU ALL!

Helen sent this text. Wouldn't any grandma's heart leap?



Sarah was with her husband and son on her way to the in-laws, a 3 1/2 hour drive. I took this picture from the VIDEO she sent. Aaaahhhh!



I am so blessed. I feel loved.


Sunday we needed to go to Martin's. It was such a lovely day with blue sky and sunshine that we decided to go on foot. Look at the blooming tree in the parking lot.




Tuesday evening Sarah invited us to dinner again. Caleb was very interested to watch me unwrap my birthday present. Sarah had found two bowls which are micro and oven safe. Some time ago I had looked for something like that.

We used them on Wednesday. They are great. Thank you!




Sunday, December 27, 2015

Blessed Christmas

Christmas week it rained a lot. A lot! It didn't really matter though. Didn't really have to go anywhere.



Ugly weather makes it cozier inside ... especially when you are baking. I felt like it. But suddenly the doorbell rang and startled me. Silly. Had to throw the rugs into the washer and wipe the cabinets.



24th of December. A few days are still missing on my Chrismons in Lace Advent calendar. Next year!



Sarah had a wild Christmas Eve. She had to work til 2 and then had to rush home because Kathy and Mike (her in-laws) were visiting and there was an extra little guy (friends' child) because his daycare was closing early until his father can pick him up. What are friends for? They had all gone to the 4:30pm Christmas service and we were invited for some visiting and nibbling afterwards. The toddlers did great during the service.

Sarah told the little guys to stand in front of the tree for a picture. They cooperated ... but not at the same time, ha-ha.




Sarah suggested to Caleb to give Grayson a hug ... but Grayson wanted none of that.



Sarah had made some lovely Advent-decorations with some German props.



We had to leave at 7 pm though. We had a party to go to. First we picked up our friend Julie who also was invited to Kim and Mike's open house. It was fun as always, lovely decoration and yummy food. At 9 it was time to go though.

Julie, James and I went for a short time to our house and then to our church. Choir music at 10:30 and service (with incense!) at 11 pm. It is an uplifting service.






December 25


We were not supposed to sleep too long. Sarah said we should not miss Caleb opening his presents. The boy has a lot of relatives who love him. This playhouse is from Nana, his great-grandmother.




It was a lot of fun watching him open the present from Auntie Helen, Uncle Ben and William.






A lovely brunch and too much to nibble + unseasonable warm gorgeous weather = got to go for a walk!



No more presents to open? Time to play with the packing material! VIDEO!



It is time for his nap. He is so tired and is getting silly.



Kathy puts Caleb to bed so Sarah has a chance to play.




Caleb is taking a nap and so should his parents. Kathy and Mike are going back to Pulaski and we home too. Time to open our gifts from Nashville. Two parcels had arrived days earlier. So we did FaceTime. Helen and William watched us opening. Papa first! (Unbenounced Helen took the photos and sent them to me later) he will be very happily thinking of William and his parents when he drinks his coffee for a long time.




Poor William didn't feel good at all. But he watched anyway.



I had "eyed" this book several months ago and Helen had remembered. Thank you very much!



William perked up a little though when we asked him what Santa brought him. 5 years, what a great age! Helen told us that he liked the Advent sacks just as much as his Mommy always did. I am also happy to say he feels much better now.

But the best: we are all looking forward to spending some time together soon.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Annual December weekend in D.C.

Saturday 19th of December


Alarm at 6 am. Leave the house at 6:50. Train leaves at 7:35 but one doesn't know about the parking. Found a spot right away so no problem.

The train ride is always nice. Relaxing. A little more than two hours. I managed to catch up with writing on a long overdue blog.

A selfie. Should have taken the stick with me Sarah gave to me. James is not sleeping (even so he could). Just caught him blinking.



Arriving in DC. The station was festively decorated of course.



Since we had to find the toilet, we also found coffee. Since we found the coffee we found also something else to go with it. And so it goes. We haven't even left the station yet.



We only had backpacks (for one night) and headed towards the hotel. James' phone said it was only an 18 minute walk. We happened to do this on a rather cold weekend but the sun is shining and the sky is blue. We are accordingly bundled.

James managed to get a free night at the Hyatt and it is very satisfactory. Look what greeted us in the lobby! I am very much a fan of gingerbread houses. My father was the king of making one every year.




We were early and didn't expect it but our room was ready and we could get into it. So we could leave the backpacks and at the appropriate time head out to the Kennedy Center. Walk to the Metro (not far) but then the "adventure" at the automated ticket machines. It seems a total change from last year. Swiping cards now. Red line. Change to gray line to Foggy Bottom. A Kennedy Center bus is waiting there but we are early so prefer to walk. A little walk makes us feel good.

More time to look around. I like this selfie. Chance or am I getting good? See the grandparents with the little girl in the picture too? We found puny little sandwiches for $5 in the lobby but they will do till dinner. Can't bring myself to buy a plastic cup of wine for $10 though.



The adventage of being in good time is that you have time to anticipate, read the playbill, meet your neighbors. My sister in Germany even tried to FaceTime but I had to shut that off. Sorry.



It was really really nice and we were happy. Decided to do more walking (instead of taking the free bus back to the station). It was too early for dinner so James made a little detour because there was a Harris Teeter grocery store close to the hotel. We had a glass of nice red wine in the room and did a little reading. James inquired at the desk about a nice restaurant in walking distance. The recommendation was "Old Engine 12" which used to be a firehouse. Just four blocks or so.




James is googling what ALLAGASH is. It's a beer!



We actually decide to share the Vietnamese Mussel Pot as appetizer.




What a great choice! We thoroughly enjoyed it and as you can see, James didn't let a drop of the broth being wasted.



We both then had lasagne. Mine was seafood and I really liked it.



Girls, there goes your inheritance!



Some of the decoration.



The old firehouse pole! There was a party upstairs and the server told us that the hole is covered with plexiglass. The servers were very nice.




It was a perfect day and the walk back to the hotel felt great.





While James was checking out I took a few pictures in the lobby. We were able to leave our backpacks in storage there.




We had had a complimentary breakfast in the hotel. It had not been great but totally sufficient. We walked to the metro and took the Red Line to DuPont Circle. James had googled and found St Margaret's Episcopal Church. James took out his phone and we were shown the way to go. Love the gadgets!



Not far we had to walk through a farmers market with live music. There were several interesting things. Sorry I couldn't buy anything.




We arrived in plenty of time. We wondered who's pew we were taking but there was plenty of space in the church. The service was very nice. Strangely I find the going-to and coming-away-from communion rather untidy. You are never sure what you are supposed to do. One thing I like about St Martin ... there is a comfortable flow.



During the announcements vestry members spoke that visitors should come to the coffee time which we did. They had lovely nibbles but we stood rather lonely for quite some time. A rector, an assistant and a deacon did not say a word to us. Finally we had a nice conversation with a choir lady who told us a little about the history and Tiffany Windows. I am not saying this to be negative but as a reminder to me to do better myself. I run so often around taking care of things that I overlook the most important.







It was almost one when we left the church and were contemplating what to do next. The sun was so lovely that we decided to walk some but where? So we walked into the direction of the National Cathedral. We had plenty of time since the concert started at 3:30 pm.



The cathedral is on the highest point. We walked steadily uphill through lovely neighborhoods. When I saw this I HAD TO take a picture for Helen. She has been a "Little Free Library" fan for a long time and wants one in front of her house so badly. It was really cute.





Because of the warm weather before this cold snap there were lots of things blooming.



The last part was through a park. Lovely.



We never had noticed that there was a garden next to the cathedral either. A stone and beams gazebo. Love that floor. Pie-shape bricks.





The cathedral was still closed. Hello? Toilets? Thank goodness there was a cafè next door. Actually I think it is new and it used to be part of the church.



It is very small but cozy. Not too many tables so I was "planted" while James stood in line.



A little French lentil soup was just right. But ... These were our second bowls. Half way through the first there was a loud crash on the next (very close) table. People were just trying to sit down and dropped a glass while still standing with glass flying. The servers came and cleaned up and we even had to stand up to make a little room. When we were settled again and James lifted his spoon he found a big piece of glass in the soup. That made me drop my spoon. They rushed to give us fresh bowls and were very nice.



Claimed our seats and I walked around to look at things and take a few pictures.




The cathedral has so many stained glass windows, some old fashion (probably because they ARE old) and some quite modern. James thinks they don't let any light in and make the cathedral dark even when the sun is shining.



Wonder whether William (the spaceman) would like this one.




I quite like the coloring on the stone though.




Still waiting for the concert to start (actually late).



The big screens here and there where helpful because the action was quite far away. Well, no photography etc allowed. Of course.



About 75 minutes without intermission. It was nice but not nearly as nice as last year. Instead of a concert we are asked to sing too often ... and insulted for not doing it well enough. Sorry. I also didn't care for the dancers because they distracted me from the music.

It was quickly getting dark when we came out and the cathedral looked lovely.




James was amazed for finally being able to hail an UBER. He brought us back to the hotel where we picked up our backpacks and made our way back walking towards Union Station.



We didn't have enough time to stop at the pub next to the station but in the station we got a quick bye-bye beer.



Just love going by train. It's comfortable. I was looking out to see the Christmas lights in Ashland but was not lucky and catching it in a picture ... only when the train stopped.



Home before 10 pm. Ah, what a good time we had again.