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Posts Tagged ‘Coldwater Creek’

Not-too-casual Friday

Not-too-casual Fri

It’s our last full day in DC. While my virtual self will be sad to leave this fascinating city, my real self is getting mighty tired. Being in two places at once is exhausting! But never mind, there is yet more to see before we head home.

Today’s outfit is a little dressier, just because. It occurs to me that perhaps I should visit my local
Coldwater Creek and try on my virtual vacation wardrobe in person . . . nah. I can’t keep up with Jill & Paula’s outfits, too, so you’ll just have to take it on faith that they’re clothed and in their right minds. (And if you know them, that last part requires a lot of faith.)

When you walk in the door, here’s what you see. Impressive, no? And that’s just the beginning. There are creatures of all sorts, from dinosaurs to butterflies, on all sides and overhead.

African Elephant In the Rotunda

African Elephant In the Rotunda

The FossiLab, where you can watch paleontologists and trained volunteers extract fossils from rock and construct fossil casts and molds, makes me miss my nephew Josh, who had a brief but sparkling career as an archeologist (he was about 6 at the time).

But come on . . . we’re girls. I don’t care how cool the animals are—and they are—you know what I want to see: 45.52 carats of sparkling blue gorgeousness. Yep, I’m talking about the Hope Diamond. Who knew diamonds could be blue? Yellow, yes. Pink, yes. But blue? SO gorgeous. I think I need one; it would match my eyes. I’m reminded of the Sherlock Holmes’ tale of the Blue Carbuncle, another precious gem of a different color.

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond

But back to the Hope Diamond: Did you know its one-time owner, Evalyn Walsh McLean, once hocked it? She was trying to raise money to pay ransom for the kidnapped Lindbergh baby. I can only imagine the look on the pawn shop owner’s face.

This little red number is rather nice, as well. Not so little, actually, the Carmen Lúcia Ruby is a 23.1-carat Burmese ruby, set in a platinum ring with diamonds. Since the Hope Diamond is blue, the Carmen Lúcia Ruby is red, and they’re both set with white diamonds, one could wear them both at the same time and be in patriotic red, white, & blue. Though perhaps that would be just a touch gaudy?

Carmen Lúcia Ruby

Carmen Lúcia Ruby

We’re not done here, but we’re thinking seafood for lunch. Maybe we’re influenced by The Sant Ocean Hall? There’s a whale suspended from the ceiling (it’s a model; no whales were harmed in the making of…) and fishies galore. Whatever the reason, we decide to repair to Johnny’s Half Shell for a little riparian refreshment.

Johnny's Half Shell

Johnny's Half Shell

Chef Ann Cashion is another James Beard Winner and the weather is nice enough we can eat on the patio—a combination made in gastronomic heaven. After dealing with the weighty matter of appetizers: spicy grilled chicken wings, easy on the spice (Jill), mixed green salad (Paula), and shrimp cocktail (me), we can sit and ponder life until our main courses arrive. Jill and Paula both choose the grilled halibut with Carolina black rice salad and red pepper oil. I decide on Chesapeake bouillabaisse (fish, shellfish, and a mini-crabcake in a rich lobster broth—yum). It’s a lovely lunch and well worth the cab ride over here…and back, because there is more to see this afternoon. And don’t worry, Vacation Rule #1 will definitely be enforced.

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Another Coldwater Creek option

Another Coldwater Creek option

They’re predicting scattered thunderstorms again today, so I’ll keep my outfit simple. This rich brown wrap top is similar to the one I wore in real life on Monday (except newer and nicer), so I know it’ll be comfortable when dashing through the raindrops. I’ll add a pair of brown slacks (they’ll dry faster than jeans if I get splashed) to my ensemble and be good to go.

We shop @ the same place

We shop @ the same place

Jill wanted you to know she was wearing this. (She shops at the same place I do.) Paula was late for breakfast, so her outfit didn’t make the deadline. You snooze, you lose.

I’m told the National Air and Space Museum is the most popular of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums. Really? I mean, it’s interesting and all, but I wouldn’t classify it as number one on my list. My father would have loved it, but it strikes me as a little too technical for my taste.

I must admit, we did enjoy watching “Cosmic Collisions” at the Albert Einstein Planetarium. Described as an “immersive theater experience” you feel the sensation of zooming through the cosmos on a thrilling trip through space and time. It was fun and no one got…spacesick? What’s the intergalactic equivalent of carsickness? Whatever, we all survived.

Smithsonian Institution Photo SI2003-35575, Eric Long/NASM

Smithsonian Institution Photo SI2003-35575, Eric Long/NASM

I’ll grant you, the Wright brothers’ plane is fun. I visited Kitty Hawk several years ago and can recommend The Bishop’s Boys, an excellent biography of Orville and Wilbur (I’m sure those names were all the rage back in the day). They were definitely the right people in the right place at the right time. (Or would that be the “Wright” people…sorry.)

The space stuff is really cool, too. (They’re protective of those images so I can’t show you any.) But much as I hate to admit it, my favorite thing at this museum was the talking Albert Einstein bobblehead. How can you not love a cute little genius who says things like, “Let me help you vit dat.” and “You seem smarter than you actually are!”

Isn't he darling?

Isn't he darling?

On the whole, none of us is that thrilled with this place. Maybe it’s because the three of us recently visited the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, where we got to talk to a real, live, NASA rocket scientist who worked on the early space flights. This place is a lot like that, only bigger. (Much, MUCH bigger.) But never mind, we can cross it off our list of places we’ve been and move on to our next adventure, which will take us across the Potomac to Alexandria.

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There’s a 40% chance of rain today, which means it’s a perfect day to stay indoors. As the employee of a publishing company I probably shouldn’t say this, but while there are many, many books I need to read, there are not all that many I need to own. Sorry! Just keeping it real. The rest of you need to buy lots of books, OK? Preferably those published by Thomas Nelson.

Sexy Librarian? by Coldwater Creek

Sexy Librarian? by Coldwater Creek


Where was I? Oh yes, the library. That would be the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. (I get a little giddy thinking about that.) This is my idea of a cool—dare I say sexy?—librarian outfit. If I had actually finished my MLS instead of dropping out when I a) ran out of money and b) got a job I really liked, this is what I’d like to think I’d wear to work at my state-of-the-art public library. Instead, I’ll (virtually) wear it to the grandaddy of all U.S. public libraries.

The Library of Congress (LOC) was established in 1800; the British proceeded to burn it down 15 years later. But (cue heroic music) Thomas Jefferson saved the day by selling his personal library (more than 6,000 volumes) to the feds for $23,950. Not chump change, but a bargain nonetheless. Get this: his bookshelves were also boxes, so when the books arrived, they were already in order. Tom may have had his issues (don’t we all?) but dang, that man was brilliant.

There is WAY more to this place than books—and if you arrive expecting to see rows of shelves a la your local library, you’re in for a surprise. Books are brought out by request and must be referenced in the library; you can’t check them out. You can virtually turn the pages of Thomas Jefferson’s books, zoom in on architectural features, and much more via kiosks located throughout the building. It’s a very high-tech place! But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s see how it looks:

The Great Hall Photography by Carol M. Highsmith

The Great Hall Photography by Carol M. Highsmith


See what I mean? As their site says, “When its doors opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress represented an unparalleled national achievement, the “largest, costliest, and safest” library in the world.”

Detail from Giant Bible of Mainz

Detail from Giant Bible of Mainz

Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible

In the Great Hall are two Bibles: the Giant Bible of Mainz, which represents the end of handwritten manuscripts and a Gutenberg Bible, representing the beginning of the printed word. Both were produced in the same city during the same period. The “giant” Bible is 22” x 16”. Imagine hauling that to church every Sunday!

As a singer, I naturally have to visit the Gershwin exhibit. They have manuscript and printed music, lyric sheets and librettos . . . it’s all I can do not to indulge in a little min-concert. What is it about this town that makes me want to sing? I am in a library, however, so I restrain the impulse yet again, and wander off with “Someone to Watch Over Me” playing in my head.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope

The “Bob Hope and American Variety” exhibit is fun, too. He was the speaker at my college graduation (Oral Roberts University) and I somehow scored a seat on the front row for the ceremony. Thanks for the memories, Bob!

Gosh, I haven’t even gotten to the second floor yet. There are all sorts of important historical documents and things to talk about, but in the interest of time I suggest you just go see for yourself: http://www.loc.gov/index.html

Meanwhile, I have to get back to the hotel—Jill just called (you remember Jill, from the opera last Saturday). She and Paula, another friend, decided I was having too much fun here on my own and flew in to DC as a surprise this morning! I’m going to meet up with them and we’ll all go exploring this afternoon. Later!

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While I was napping, my friend, Jill, virtually flew in for the weekend so I’ll have company for the next few activities. After she checks in we meet up at the Mandarin Oriental’s Spa for a little pre-event pampering. We’re opting for the “Holistic Foot Treatment With Hot Stones” which they describe as a “holistic foot and nail treatment includes gentle skin softening exfoliation as well as a relaxing acupressure point massage with the aromatherapy massage oil prescribed for your individual needs. The feet are then enveloped in warm paraffin wax to deeply nourish and condition the skin.” It’s perfect to bridge the gap from hiking around monuments (or airports) to high heels.

My Opera Dress

My Opera Dress

Fitzwell Wendy – available @ Zappo’s

Fitzwell Wendy – available @ Zappo’s


I looked and looked for an appropriate gown for the evening and kept coming back to this one. It’s very simple, but I love the swingy-ness of the skirt. I’ll add some eye-catching jewelry, a wrap, and these fabulous shoes to complete the ensemble.

Jill’s wearing this, btw, in black. Both our dresses are from, you guessed it, Coldwater Creek. (Hey, I don’t shop much and they sent me a catalog.)

Jill's Opera Dress

Jill's Opera Dress

I originally planned to dine at the Kennedy Center’s Roof Terrace Restaurant, but a plethora of mediocre online reviews put me off. So I turned to DCFoodies.com and they steered us to Circle Bistro. Circle Bisto also offers a 3-course pre-theater menu and their chef is a cute Austin boy, so it seemed like the perfect place to go.

Chef Ethan McKee

Chef Ethan McKee


I start with Creamy Corn Soup with Crab, Shrimp and Jalapeño; Jill opts for the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Fried Green Tomato, Succotash and Applewood Smoked Bacon. We waver over our entrees so much we end up sharing both the Grilled Flat-Iron Steak with Chanterelles, Fingerling Potatoes, Grape Tomatoes, and Red Wine Sauce and the Idaho Trout with Artichoke Hearts, Pine Nuts, Capers, and Roasted Tomatoes. (That’s one of the joys of dining with someone else.) But for dessert, there is no question in either of our minds—and absolutely no sharing. It’s the Bistro Brownie Sundae with Espresso Ice Cream and Candied Walnuts. After all, we want to abide by Vacation Rule Number 1!

Our dessert du jour

Our dessert du jour

Even virtually this makes my mouth water.

Pleasantly full, but not so much that we’re liable to fall asleep mid-aria, we walk the three blocks to the Kennedy Center and take our seats for the Washington National Opera’s version of Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia. (That’s “The Barber of Seville” for us non-Italian speakers.) Naturally, we have terrific virtual seats, so we entertain ourselves by admiring the red and gold silk curtain (a gift from Japan) and the exquisite crystal chandelier (a gift from Austria), and indulging in speculation on who the elegant Washingtonians seated around us might http://codex.wordpress.org/Excerptbe.

It’s a fun, light-hearted opera and even if you’re not an opera buff, I guarantee you’ve heard the iconic phrase “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!” even if it was just from Bugs Bunny. The Figaro in question is the barber of the title, who helps young Almaviva win the hand of the beautiful Rosina and saves her from marrying her guardian, Dr. Bartolo. It’s almost 3 hours of scheming and manipulation set to glorious music. (Hmmm, behind-the-scenes plotting and planning to gain a desired outcome…that never happens here in DC, does it?)

More adventures in store tomorrow, but that’s enough for tonight. As Figaro might say, “Buonanotte!”

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Quite possibly the best part of a virtual vacation is that while my virtual self had to get up in the wee hours, drive to the airport, stand in line at security, and yawn over a white chocolate mocha at the gate, my real self was nestled all snug in my bed. But now that hurdle has passed, I’ll just pretend to be my virtual self, OK? Otherwise the grammar will get too complicated and you’ll get tired of reading “virtual” over and over.

This is my travel outfit.

My travel ensemble.

My travel ensemble

(It’s from Coldwater Creek if you’d like one of your own; the pic links to it.) I like the attitude of it; it says I’m cool but comfortable, classic but adventurous. There’s no jacket to take off at airport security and no, I won’t be wearing the boots in the pic for that very reason.

Flight 1600 lands in Washington, DC at about a quarter to one (local time). It’s my first time in our nation’s capital and I can’t wait to get started seeing the sites. Fortunately, it’s just a short taxi ride to my home for the next week, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, DC

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, DC

I chose this hotel because a) it’s walking distance to the Smithsonian b) it has fantastic rooms and views and c) there’s an in-house spa and a 5 star restaurant. I cannot conceive of actually spending this much money on a hotel in real life, but this trip has a virtual budget, so a little luxury was in order. (OK, maybe a LOT of luxury.)

My virtual room at the Mandarin Oriental

My virtual room at the Mandarin Oriental

After gawking at my gorgeous hotel room for a bit like the small-town girl I am, it’s time for lunch. And where better to dine than the Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington’s oldest, most historic saloon? Founded in 1856, Presidents Grant, Andrew Johnson, Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Harding supposedly refreshed themselves at its stand-around bar. I’ll take a seat in the Main Dining Room instead, where I can admire antique gas chandeliers and paintings by Kamil Kubik that show patriotic scenes near the White House, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress.

Main Dining Room at Old Ebbitt Grill

Main Dining Room at Old Ebbitt Grill


They’re famous for their jumbo lump crab cakes and who am I to argue? They come with corn and tomato Chesapeake and oven roasted potatoes, bought from local farms. Delish! But you don’t have to take my word for it; I sweet-talked the chef into sharing the recipe. You’ll find it on my recipe page. It’s the perfect introduction to dining in DC.

I’ll have more to share this evening. For now, I think a post-lunch stroll is in order. After all, I’m just a block or so from here:

the_white_house

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