Inauguration Day!

I love pomp and circumstance, and here in the U.S. we don’t have a lot of it. Most of the ceremonies we witness are of a personal nature; baptisms, graduations, initiations, weddings. There are not a lot of National ceremonies that draw our land together in celebration, besides maybe a sporting event like the World Series or the Super Bowl. Maybe that’s why we get up in the middle of the night to view so many Royal weddings on television!

English: The inauguration of President Barack ...

Inauguration Day is one of those rare occasions when politics get pushed aside (I hope) and we can just celebrate America and our President no matter who that may be. I have not always voted for the man (hopefully woman in 2016!), but I have always respected the office and stood behind that person and looked for them for leadership when times are tough. Although it’s not always an easy thing to do, I do try!

So today, plopped in front of the television, I soaked up as much pomp, and as much circumstance as I could while witnessing the Inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama.  I might even have shed a tear or two while listening to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic“.

Hotels are getting Book Smart

Today I read an article in USA Today that was very encouraging indeed! Hotels seem to becoming hip, like us book worms have always been, and adding libraries to their properties. Like this new library room in the Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, D.C.capitol-hill-hotel-library-4_3_r541_c540

This is nothing new of course and libraries have been included in some hotels for many years, or at least many years ago, but recently hotels have turned their backs on the written word. They have instead been more interested in configuring room in the common areas for internet usage. The book was more of a decorative item, something glued in place along with other nick nacks on shelves in their lobbies. I know this because I have sometimes tried to read one of these decorative pieces and been shocked, appalled, and yes embarrassed, when I placed my dainty digits on the spine and found resistance where there should have been none!

There has always been one exception to this rule and that is Country Inns & Suites, a clean, moderate hotel chain, that has always had a small lending library in their small, but inviting lobbies. CIS_Read_It_web_headerweb

They have a variety of titles, that must be published just for them, which they ‘lend’ out. If you don’t finish the book while you are there, then you can take it with you, and if you stop by one of their hotels another time you can return it then. I have to admit I still have two titles currently on my bookshelves…sorry Country Inns & Suites…I will return them next time!

There is also The Library Hotel in NYC, which I have never seen, but have always dreamed of staying at one day. It’s a bit pricy though, so maybe I can just sneak in and just take a look at the lobby.  It looks pretty cool!Library-Hotel

If you get a chance read the article, it has a list of some of the hotel properties that are finally figuring out that books aren’t just for decorating anymore!

Books that shaped America @ The Library of Congress

I love the Library of Congress!  It’s a book lover’s dream destination, or at least this book lover!

Main Reading Room

Established in 1800 by an act of Congress it was initially established as a reference library for Congress’s use only and housed in the new U.S. Capitol building. Unfortunately when the Capitol was burned to the ground in 1814 by British troops the entire library was lost as well.

That’s when that famous red-headed bibliophile, retired President Thomas Jefferson, stepped in and offered his library of over 6,000 books to the country. Jefferson’s library was a bit controversial because it included foreign language books, books on philosophy and even, be still my heart, literature!!  But the government purchased the entire library for the low, low price of $23,000 (it’s hard to believe that Jefferson was always broke!) and the foundation for this great institution was laid.

Part of the original Jefferson Library

Today the library has a collection of over 144 million items, including films, sound recordings, sheet music, maps and of course books!  There are events going on all the time, concerts, lectures and even films. And you can always just go in and look at the beautiful Jefferson building and take a tour. There is usually an exhibit or two to stroll through as well.

Ceiling in the LOC

Currently one of the library’s exhibits is entitled, “Books that Shaped America”. They’ve compiled a list of 88 books for this exhibit, but at their news release states:

“This list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books–although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nation’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.”

The list is pretty diverse and includes everything from Thomas Paine’s, “Common Sense” to Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird“. There seems to be a good representation of different authors, subject matter and genres. Looking it over a few times I really couldn’t think of any glaring omissions, but I’m sure someone will…and I think that’s the point!

[I did notice that Benjamin Franklin managed to get three books on the list and I was thinking how mad that probably would have made John Adams!]

LOC/Jefferson Building

I’m just sorry I didn’t have time on my last visit to get over to the LOC and take a gander at this exhibit!

Capitol Hill Books

I love to visit used bookstores when I’m traveling, it’s usually always on my to-do list.  It is getting a bit hard to find them though and that’s a crying shame. My favorite used books stores are jam packed to the rafters, with precarious piles strewn hither and yon, and the owner manning the register knowing exactly where to lay his hands on any requests you may have.

I found all that at Capitol Hill Books in Washington, DC.

Located near Eastern Market, this bookstore was opened in 1991 but it seems like it’s been around a lot longer than that…just look at all these lovely books!

And what’s even more amazing is that they are actually shelved by subject and in alphabetical order to boot! Wowzeer, my kind of bookstore!

I didn’t find anything this trip, but it sure was fun looking and I can’t wait to go back!

Zaytinya

Washington, DC is a foodies’ paradise. Most people who haven’t visited the nation’s capitol in the last 5-10 years might be surprised by that fact, but the number of amazing gastronomic delights are numerous and can please just about any palate or budget. I’m always excited to go for a visit so I can get, not only my fill of history, but also fill my stomach as well!

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

This time I was lucky enough to dine at Zaytinya, a José Andrés restaurant featuring a mezze menu of Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisines. It was a very special experience for lunch!  They featured a $22.00 four course luncheon that was beautiful as well as delicious, and the attentive service rounded out what has to be one of my favorite meals of all time.

Carrot and pistachio dish (my favorite)

Falafel

Beef and lamb meatballs

Greek yogurt and apricots

Roasting the lamb

It was terrific to experience such fine dining at lunch time and not have it break the bank!

Long time, no post!

For over a week I have been practically computerless, only in possession of an iPad, and thus unable to post anything on my blog. I feel very delinquent, like I’ve neglected my homework or something. Not only didn’t I write a single blog post, I only managed to read two books and cheated liberally on my diet! It’s almost like the lost weekend, except I was lost for a whole week! But like all good things this too must come to an end, so I stopped in the library today and picked up a book, I’m eating a salad and, obviously, I’m writing on my blog!

I spent the last 10 days luxuriating in the company of family and friends while spending time in the nation’s capitol, one of my favorite places. When I’m there I never fail to discover new places to visit and new restaurants to gain weight in. This trip was no exception!

The Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia is not new to me, but since I’m currently salivating over a couple of pics I took while dining there I thought I would tell you a bit about it. This place is only a hop, skip and a jump from where I usually stay while in town, so my feet always manage to lead me to their doorstep. I really thought that this would be my only indulgence this past week, because I was in denial about my need to eat large quantities of delicious grub. Instead this was the beginning of my week-long food coma!

interior

David Gaus, the chef and owner, is a native of Louisiana and an award-winning pastry chef who gave up being a corporate pastry chef in 2007 to open the bakery and write a cookbook. Bayou Bakery offers terrific southern sweets as well as savory dishes and delicious coffee.

My personal favorites are the made to order beignets~~three warm, powdered sugar, Louisiana doughnuts for 3 bucks! But they also do things like a weekly crawfish boil in June, red beans & rice and shrimp creole.

a perfect afternoon!

If you are ever visiting DC, it’s well worth it to take the metro’s orange line to Arlington, Virginia to either the Courthouse or Clarendon stops to find a variety of unique restaurants and shops, like Bayou Bakery!

Probably not the best idea when you’re on a diet!

Today as I pack for my trip to Washington DC, I am enduring one more day of hard-core dieting because I know once I’m away from home, in a city filled with the some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted, I will not deny myself some extra calories!  In fact I’m happy to say I am only a few pounds shy of my wedding day goal, and with six weeks to go, I’m just hoping I haven’t peaked too early 🙂

So maybe, because I know I’m approaching the finish line, I let my fingers do the walking on the keyboard today, and I’ve discovered a few terrific food websites. To be honest most of the time when I’m looking for anything related to food on the internet, it has something to do with ordering a pizza, printing out a Living Social deal, or going on OpenTable to book a reservation, but today I think I just wanted to look at all the pretty pictures.

1. Serious Eats came to my attention because of this terrific looking recipe for Rummy Bears!

How amazing is this?! Not exactly food I know, but it did lead me to their website, which is overflowing with drool worthy photos and articles about all things yummy.

2.  Food 52 I found in a very circuitous way. Neatorama < BuzzFeed < Food 52!  And isn’t this why we all spend so much time on the internet??  BuzzFeed had this interesting article about ‘8 ways to eat well and cheaply‘, that showed Food52 as the byline. Okay I have now mentioned this website three times and I promise they are not paying me in alcohol soaked gummi bears! Anyway they have some interesting articles about food and some good looking recipes too.

3. The Pioneer Woman website is not new to me, I just haven’t looked at it for awhile because her recipes are anything but lo-cal!   Here in the States, Ree Drummond has published several books, has her own show on the Food Network and also publishes this blog and website. Her recipes are simple, delicious and made from fresh ingredients. Even I can make something great for dinner when I follow her step by step directions. Each step is photographed and she tells it like it is even when she makes a mistake! Her sense of humor shines through on the page and she makes cooking seem like fun.

Well, I think I’ve tortured myself enough for one day. First I find all these forbidden delights on the internet and then I relive the experience by writing about them on this blog!

Founding Farmers here I come!