Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Peter and I were out of town visiting his parents this weekend so this post is a little belated, but I really wanted to say a huge "Thank You" to all of our brave men and women in the armed forces - those serving currently and those who have served in the past. I'm SO thankful to live in the United States and enjoy all of the freedoms that come with being an American, and I'm also SO thankful for our troops who sacrifice so much to ensure those freedoms. My grandfather was a Marine and served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and I'm extremely proud of him and other relatives and friends who have served in the military. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Peter and I went to the Andrews Air Force Base Air Show with friends a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to share some pictures that I took there since they tie in with Memorial Day. Seeing our military in action was thrilling, and I certainly felt proud to be an American that day :)

Soldiers enjoying watching the air stunts from a primo spot :)

A Blue Angel up close and personal.

The Thunderbirds. AMAZING! If you ever get a chance to see them in action, take advantage of it!

This is the work of a group called the "Skytypers." Pretty neat, huh? The messages were made with puffs of smoke and lasted about 5 minutes.

A bit hard to see, but those are very talented parachutists! They were flipping around and doing zig-zags and other crazy stuff. I totally thought that they were going to crash into each other and/or the ground, but they came out (of course) unscathed :)

My husband is an aerospace engineer specializing in helicopters so this picture was obligatory :) I think this is a Black Hawk. Or maybe a Chinook? I'm obviously not an expert in distinguishing helicopters yet! 

Peter on a Navy Seal boat. The different special ops forces had displays of their equipment, uniforms, weapons, etc. set up in a hangar, and let me tell you, our special ops forces are impressive!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Maryland Hunt Cup

Peter and I went to our first steeplechase race, the Maryland Hunt Cup, on April 30. It was a gorgeous day - perfect for picnicking and watching horses jump over fences :)

I had no idea that steeplechase racing was so difficult! Of the 10 horses that competed, only three completed the course without falling or losing their riders. Good grief!

The horse that I was rooting for, Volle Nolle #8, came in 3rd! The horse that Peter was rooting for did not finish the race :)

We had a really fun time, and I'm sure that we'll be attending other steeplechase races in the future!

Also, just a heads up, Rue La La is having a Vineyard Vines sale this Sun. / May 15 starting at 11:00AM EST. If you need an invitation to Rue La La (totally free and no commitment), you can click here. I can't wait!!!

(images via Google)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Beginnings and Bookends: The House on First Street: Week 1 Questions

1. Have you visited New Orleans before? Do you think a visit to the city is necessary to connect to this book?
I've visited New Orleans twice, and while I don't think that a visit to the city is necessary to connect to this book (or enjoy it), I think it would definitely help. New Orleans is a unique place, and lots of the stories and references that Julia includes can only be fully appreciated if you have experienced NOLA firsthand. Some of the bizarre things that she mentions might seem a bit unbelievable unless you have been there and know that New Orleans is the capitol of bizarre things :)
2. What are your thoughts on Julia's writing style? Do you like the way she tells stories?
She has a good sense of humor. Some of her writing is a little bit too tongue in cheek, but for the most part it's fun and witty. She also describes things very colorfully with great adjectives :) She does name drop a lot which gets tedious; I don't know the people whom she mentions but I get the feeling that she assumes that I would know them and be impressed that she's friends with them.
3. To me Julia took a laid back approach to the evacuation warnings and even devastation. What was your reaction to her approach? How do you think you would have handled a flood of such proportions?
I was a little shocked that she would plan a dinner party the night before Katrina hit! That said, however, she mentioned that when you live in a place that is always getting dire warnings of impending disaster that you kind of become immune to them and tend to think that your city is going to be spared one more time. That seems to be what she was thinking. I'm a worrier so I probably would have evacuated far before Julia did, but I also rather admire her laid back approach. She managed to come out OK without much stress!
4. Julia instantly was solicited by her editors to do pieces on the disaster. Do you think she gave an accurate portrayal?
I've learned a lot more about Katrina and its consequences for NOLA residents in this book than I knew before, but Julia might be a bit biased in her portrayal. She definitely loves New Orleans, and I don't know if she gives the city, state, and federal leaders a fair judgment for their decisions in the crisis or not.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend Recap

Friday was a day off of work for me that unfortunately started out with a doctor's appointment (Ugh!) but then improved as the day progressed :) After the doctor, I was excited to go to Target and peruse the new Calypso St. Barth collection, but I was unimpressed with the offerings. Tie-dye and beading/sequins just aren't my style, and the Calypso collection was heavy on that look. Oh well! The rest of my shopping trip was successful, and I returned home to tackle some much-needed chores around the apartment before heading out to join Peter for a nice, long walk around a neighboring town. We picked up a milkshake for him and a smoothie for me for some sustenance on our trek :) We came home, and I tried the Spicy Chicken Shawarma recipe from Cooking Light that Virginia Belle had recommended a couple of weeks ago. Super yummy, and a perfect Friday night dinner!

(image from Cooking Light)

Saturday morning we made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and then I headed out for a little shopping. My Junior League chapter was selling a "shop around" card that gave buyers discounts at many area retailers. It's a great idea and raises lots of money for literacy-related programs in the DC-area. I bought a new Murfee scarf at the local Lilly Pulitzer shop and a new pair of platinum Jack Rogers to get ready for summer :)

(image from Jack Rogers)

Later in the afternoon, we headed over to our friend KLW's house for her Derby party. I forgot to bring my camera so no pictures, but I promise that we had a great time! KLW makes a mean mint julep :) The Derby is always the most exciting two minutes in horse racing, but this year was especially exciting with Animal Kingdom coming from way behind to win it. I think that he was in 15th or 16th place at one point in the race! When we returned home, Peter and I munched on leftover Black Bottom Cupcakes (my food contribution to the party) and watched the movie Metropolitan.

(image from IMDB)

We were really liking it until the last 20 minutes or so when everything seemed to fall apart and not make much sense. I definitely enjoyed the preppy fashions from the 90's, though :)

Sunday was church and then a fun bike ride on the Capital Crescent Trail which connects Georgetown in DC to Silver Spring, MD. Peter and I had not biked this trail before, and it was a great find! We didn't have time to bike the entire trail yesterday, but we're going to try to take a Saturday in June to do the whole thing. It was a gorgeous day in DC yesterday, and there were many people out and about enjoying the weather and celebrating Mothers Day. I missed being with my mom and taking her out to lunch for Mother's Day, but it was great to talk to her on the phone later in the day. My beloved maternal grandmother passed away last July so this was our first Mothers Day without her which made it a little sad. I'm very thankful that I was able to spend so many Mothers Days with her during my life, though :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Charlottesville Trip #3

On our last day in Charlottesville, we had yet another delicious breakfast at Albemarle Baking Company , picked up a picnic lunch at a super cute market/cafe called Feast!, and then we headed to Montpelier, James Madison's home.

I wouldn't mind coming home to a front porch like that :)

Montpelier had many different owners after President Madison died and then was sold to the duPont family (yes - those duPonts!) in the early twentieth century who "enhanced" it with many additions, renovations, etc. Now The Montpelier Foundation has restored the house to what it looked like when the Madisons lived there in the 1820s. There is still some work to be done - curators are trying to track down furniture which belonged to the Madisons and which was sold after the president's death - but the tour is really interesting and gives you a first-hand look at the restoration process. The gardens have also been restored and are worth a quick stroll.

Hangin' with the Madisons :)

I really liked those lions in the garden :)

It's a little hard to tell in this picture, but there is a steeplechase race course and a flat race track in the distance. One of the duPonts was quite a horse breeder and hosted races on the estate.

I love this part of the country and can't wait to return soon! And I have a good excuse to return too since we didn't get to visit Barboursville Vineyards as planned while we were there :) Next time ...