And now, for something completely different…

Last week I began a short break from the rat race, taking a couple months off from work.

Soooo….I went shopping on Monday; golfing on Tuesday; sailing on Wednesday; woke up at anchor Thursday morning; back to the lake Friday for two nights on the boat; rafted up with Kurt & Kevin on Dancer, and Marty & Sue (yay!!) on Caribbean Hug Saturday night; made it back home Sunday night to watch my Seahawks and make pizza; and then headed to Seattle for a visit this past Monday.

I’ll try to get my sheila365 groove back. :)

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Girls’ trip 2014 – Destination Washington, D.C.

Last year five of my girlfriends and I went on a trip together to San Diego and had a really great time.  We said we’d try to make it an annual thing.  And we did!  This year’s destination:  Washington D.C.

The fall weather was beautiful.  We rented a townhouse on Capitol Hill just south of Lincoln Park – about a mile and a half walk to the Capitol buidling.  What an amazing place to live.

The Highlights:

We walked about a hundred miles (!), mastered the Metro, and took in some amazing sights.   We visited the Library of Congress & National Gallery of Art, and their outdoor Sculpture Garden.  We took a 3-hour Segway DC Monuments & Memorials tour with CitySegway (I highy recommend them, and our wonderful guide, Ray).  We caught a showing of the Broadway musical Evita at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  We drank a couple barrels of wine.  And danced the night away in the townhouse.  We we sure crammed alot of fun into a 4 day weekend.

The Eats:

- The night we arrived we ate at the highly touted Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo (2 blocks from the Archives metro station).  This madrileña gives them a bleh and a thumbs down.  Service was ho hum, their traditional tapas like gambas al ajillo were not traditional at all… (made with red, spicy pepper sauce with no garlic!).  When we complained, the waiter said they’ve changed the way they prepare them now and we should have ordered them traditional if that’s the way we wanted them, even though that’s how they were described on the menu.  We shared a pan of lobster paella which tasted like new orleans dirty rice made with a burnt roux.   Sorry José Andrés, you let us down.

- for breakfast the next day, Friday, we ate at the Madison Cafe atop of the Library of Congress’ James Madison Memorial Building.  What a great, unassuming breakfast stop, with reasonable prices.  Spectacular view of the Potomac, but apparantly you’re not supposed to go out on the patio unless accompanied by the Capitol Police (oopsie).

- for lunch on Friday’s sightseeing marathon (seriously, Laura’s pedometer said we walked about 23 miles that day!), we happened upon a really wonderful farmer’s market/outdoor food court in the Federal Triangle – Capital Harvest on the Plaza.  In contrast to last night’s meal, the paella I got here on a paper plate was perfect and the real deal.  They are open Friday’s through the end October.

- for dinner on Friday night we ate at the fabulous italian restaurant Graffiato  (a short walk from the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop).  Now this was a great meal!  The service was fantastic.  We tried nearly everything (watercress salad, caesar, mussels a la vodka, potato gnocchi, homemade pasta, white house pizza, and even more that I don’t recall) and came away wanting more.  Delicious!

- Saturday morning we walked to the nearby Eastern Market – a historic indoor/outdoor food and arts market and a hub of the neighborhood on Capitol Hill.  We bought ingredients for our planned dinner-at-the-townhouse later that night.  The menu:  spinach soup, grilled salmon steaks, asparagus risotto, green beans with lemon vinagrette and goat cheese.  We outdid ourselves!

- for brunch on our last day, we headed to Le Greniere, a fantastic french bistro on H street, about a mile walk from Union Station.  Their weekend brunch menu has a great variety of delicious choices.  My croque-monsieur could have fed 2 or 3.  :)  excellent service and brunch menu.  We were all thankful for the walk afterwards.

And then, *poof* it was over.   Til next year!

Some of the sights:

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Literary inspiration.

I recently read Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. I enjoyed it – set in the Caribbean, full of sea and salt and many an alcoholic beverage.
One of the favorite drinks of the main character in the book, Thomas Hudson, was a gin drink with coconut water, lime juice and bitters. It sounded interesting enough to me to concoct one and try it. And it was pretty good! We call it a “Tom Hudson.” There wasn’t a recipe in the novel, so the individual quantities are up to the bartender’s discretion. But here’s how I like them:

Tom Hudson
– 2 oz gin
– 4 oz coconut water
– juice of 1 lime
– a few (or many) drops of bitters
– serve on the rocks

Cheers, Ernest!

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We’re back!

After getting Nirvana 2 years ago, we had to move to E-dock. Last week a slip finally opened up on our beloved B-dock. So, of course we said, “Yes, we’ll take it!”

So today we headed out to the marina on a cool, drizzly day and moved our boat, dock box, and kayak to the new slip.

We celebrated with frosty beverages and (best ever) hot dogs with Kurt.

It’s good to be back!
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I kind of zoned out there.

My posts for the last few months have been a tad infrequent.  And it’s been two weeks since I last posted. I think I have just been decompressing.  I have had a great summer – spending time with family, and then coming back to Austin for a couple of downtime weeks to play with Monte.  Somewhere, in there, the summer has nearly slipped by.  That’s ok, though.  Onward!

Yesterday Sue & Marty joined us on the boat for a windless day on the lake.  We headed directly for our cove, set anchor, jumped in and floated until just before sunset.  A great day!  Here is a shot of the blinding sun on its way to the horizon. IMG_5768

And the cotton is high…

The words are swimming around in my head:

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high….

I like Billie Holiday’s version.

We took a trip to the Coastal Bend of Texas for a few days.   We come down here nearly every year, and really enjoy it.   Very rustic, but beautiful.   Along the way to the coast, we drive through the cotton fields.   This time we came a little earlier than usual, and we got to see the fields before harvest.   A sea of white fluffiness:

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Road trip.

Mom and I headed for Vashon Island today to visit a friend she’s known since gradeschool.  I had never been to Vashon before; it’s beautiful.  You can only get there by ferry.

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And once we were there we were awestruck by their waterfront lot and home on the Colvos Passage.   This shot is from the living room…. amazing.

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And….again!

Oh so pretty. I didn’t have a window seat today. It’s just as well, though, because I would have been hogging/blocking the view the whole time. :)
So I asked my seat-neighbor to snap one for me, instead.

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Simply the best.

Monte and I have just returned from Panama City Beach – a week-long celebration of Gene & Jo’s 50th wedding anniversary with their entire family.  I am grateful to have been included in the celebration.  It was simply awesome. The location.  The beach.  The silliness.  The catching up.  The family.  The celebrating.   Thank you Gene & Jo!

I’ll share just a few pictures of the beautiful setting:

We arrived in Panama City Beach at sunset last Saturday, after an extra long drive, due to I-10 shutdowns.
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One morning we were treated to a view from our back deck of an amazing double rainbow.

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The sea was different every day.  This was from one morning after overnight rainshowers.

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A week of amazing sunsets.

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Surf-side fireworks one night.

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One of the few pelican shots I captured.

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From a distance.

Julie flew home Wednesday to join her dad and brothers on a long-planned climb to the top of the 14K+ foot peak that is Mount Rainier.  I can only aspire to do something like this one day.  For now, I am watching their ascent via satellite-based location technology.  Amazing.

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Points 1 – 4 on the map are the last 4 pings they’ve sent on their way up.   I will watch all night and all day tomorrow.  Can’t wait to see the pics!