Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bali's Best Coffee Candy Deal

The candy supply was getting low so I checked Amazon for the best deal. My husband loves Ball's best coffee candy. It comes in a very large plastic container. We really only needed two of them, but with the new Amazon shipping policy, it didn't meet the thirty-five dollar minimum for free shipping, and it would come from an outside vendor. So it behooved us to get the four pack directly through Amazon, pay a little more for it, but there would be no shipping expense and we would get double the product. The package arrived yesterday without a hitch. The last package we received had to be picked up at the Beltsville center and we really didn't want to get in to another long drive for nonsense. So it was like Christmas for my husband. And this supply will definitely last a whole year.  The sad thing is is that we forgot we also needed Simple Human garbage bags, but I was able to get a year supply and free shipping on their website. Such exciting deliverables!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Peking Gourmet Inn

You know you are getting old whenever you go to a restaurant and can't sleep the same night. It seems to be happening a lot more lately because we have been going out more than usual with friends and family over the holiday. Last evening we went to Peking Gourmet Inn. It was packed on a Sunday evening and all I could see was their specialty Peking Duck being brought with a great deal of fanfare to most tables. None of us care for duck so we stuck with more traditional things, but not traditional for us except the won ton soup. The place is located in a strip mall and very unassuming from the outside. It was an experience as soon as you enter. There are two huge dining rooms and a bar area and the walls are covered with pictures of the owners and dignitaries who have visited the establishment since the 1970's. Someone had a birthday and there was a huge choir of wait staff singing for the occasion. All I know is my mom had gallbladder surgery at the age I am now, and whenever we eat things not typically on our usual diet I am reminded of it. (Photos are from the restaurant website.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Visit to Thailand

Right before my birthday a couple of weeks ago, our friend left on a trip to Thailand that would last through the Christmas holiday. Good for her because she would certainly have an enchanting vacation with a friend of hers from California, sad for us because she would not be here for Christmas. We have taken a few trips together... Overseas to Iran and England, along with several local day trips around the DC area like Monticello and Montpelier. So she promised to keep us updated on her whereabouts and she did, faithfully sending several photos of the adventure throughout the duration. Her take on the scenery and overall cultural aspects is always filled with humor and eloquence, including a personal shopper experience. I'm not a big overseas travel person, and prefer going to a place that we know someone - and luckily we have relatives and friends in places like Iran, England, Denmark, Sweden, and perhaps even Australia in the near future. So for all those other places out there, she's a good person to know, and this is just one entertaining reason.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Yekta Kabob Meets Pierogi Kielbasa Factory

We planned to have lunch with my side of the family members at Yekta in Rockville this afternoon. It's always very nice. The salad is fresh and crisp and the food is very Iranian - like my husband. We usually stop at the grocery store for a few items and we did. Then we made our way to the Kielbasa Factory that is just down the street for some home made pierogi and blueberry Danish. My side of the family is very Polish. I'm too lazy to make pierogi so this is the next best thing. It's perhaps the start of a great tradition and a reminder of our backgrounds- in the most delicious way. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Supreme Court Challenge

I've done a lot of dog and cat hand painted digital portraits using my IPad, and a few people portraits in between. It was a really busy last two months getting custom requests completed for Christmas, and my eyes are strained! I've also done a few buildings - the Library of Congress, the gardens from Copenhagen, a home in Buckinghamshire, and Capitol Hill row houses. One request I recently received is of a particularly interesting nature - the Supreme Court. The intended recipient is a judge who received an award there. I have a few photos of the Supreme Court, and like one from the spring time with all the cherry blossoms. Today was a perfect day for taking photos because the sky is so blue against the white buildings this time of year. This will be a real challenge! I only hope I can do it justice!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

North and South Meets The Cowboys

My husband was canvassing the television programs last evening when he stumbled across the miniseries North and South. As a Civil War fan, we watched it back in the 80's and particularly liked James Read. We have also travelled to Natchez, Charleston, and many more southern Civil War landmarks based on this interest. We liked most of the miniseries for television back then- Captains and the Kings, Shogun, Thornbirds, Lonesome Dove, etc. So I asked him to bring it on and we ended up watching episodes four and five to the end. It didn't matter that we didn't see the beginning. After that, we had time enough to watch another movie that we had in the queue. We used to watch the Encore Western movie channel a lot. In fact, I met and got a kiss from James Drury, The Virginian, a couple years ago! But we watched The Cowboys featured on AMC's John Wayne week. We haven't seen a western for quite a while and neither one of us had see this one. My family grew up on John Wayne, and westerns, and my husband loves Bruce Dern. My first recollection of John Wayne was in The Horse Soldiers - another Civil War story. I used to know a guy at work in Milwaukee that would do the John Wayne walk. It was quite hilarious. Some things just stick in your head. It was a nice ending to our Christmas holiday. Oh- did I mention we watched Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh in Holiday Affair last week? (Photos from North and South and Holiday Affair are from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Decorations Finally up!

Since November I've digitally hand painted about 35 portraits in time for Christmas. My little Etsy Shop was humming! I may need new glasses because of the eye strain! Now I know what the accountants must feel like with tax season. The portrait painting didn't leave much time to do any decorating.  Since we have a very small space and aren't expecting visitors this year I am very thankful that our friend gave us some beautiful greenery a couple weeks ago. So the fish lost his place on the little glass table in the corner by the window and the makeshift Christmas "tree" was adorned - just in time for Christmas Eve. I'm glad we did it because it just wouldn't be the same without it! Who knows? Someone might just stop by and we wanted to look festive. It doesn't compare the decorations we put up in Milwaukee, but it's just as nice. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thanks DC Blogs

Every once in awhile one if my blog posts gets someone's attention. The last couple entries had to do with the very poor FedEx customer service that necessitated a ridiculous trip to the Beltsville pick up station. Apparently a lot if other folks must have the same problem. I don't mind doing my part if we had not been home for the delivery, but that just wasn't the case. Thanks DC Blogs for noticing the entry. I have a feeling it touched a nerve! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

FedEx Saga Comes To An End - "Held for Pickup" - A Trip to Beltsville

After receiving three messages on the FedEx tracker of "customer not home" when we actually were, we had no choice but to go to the main station when the three times and your out message showed up - "held for pick up." We weren't sure where the pick up site was, so we tried to call the main office to find out. Forget it! Unfortunately, the closing time mentioned on the recorded message was 4PM, and it was nearing 3:30. So we decided to take a dry run anyway to get an idea where the place was for a later return visit in the week ahead. That was a mistake. The traffic on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway was ridiculous. It would take at least 45 minutes to get there in good time. So we meandered our way using google maps. When we reached the place, it was a distance from the street, and we were going to turn around and leave, since it was past 4 PM. But I saw a guy sitting at the gate, so we drove toward the entrance and asked him if this was actually the place to pick up packages. He said yes, and thank goodness we asked because he said it was open until 5 PM. Anytime I see "help wanted" on an establishment it makes me wonder about service, and that was surely the case here. We walked into this huge warehouse and had to get authorized to enter, checking ID and going through a metal detector. It all seemed so haphazard and confusing and we had little hope the package would be found - but it was. We didn't even bother to ask why the driver didn't simply deliver the package to our house as the address was correct and the truck stopped there every day. When we got back home after driving in the heavy traffic in the opposite direction, we opened the box. Please don't send alcohol through the mail. It's just not worth the trip to pick it up!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

McLean Family Restaurant, Newt, and Chicken Soup

We were away last weekend so we were looking forward to our routine Saturday breakfast outing to the McLean Family Restaurant. We've been going there consistently over the last year. It's a great drive down the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and we like the atmosphere. Everyone knows us well enough that the coffee and tomato juice arrive as soon as we sit down. It's not unusual to see well known folks hanging out there. Today Newt Gingrich was sitting with some guy instead of Callista and several people stopped at his table to wish him a Merry Christmas. The place reminds us of Ma Fisher's in Milwaukee, a typical Greek establishment. We tend to bring our out of town guests there for a kick. My husband and I both love the chicken soup. Afterwards we planned to go to the grocery store and the wine shop, but the traffic and activity was a bit too much. After all it is the last weekend to get whatever you need for Christmas, but we just weren't that desperate. So we came home and plan to enjoy the rest of this wonderfully warm day in DC. It sure beats the cold and ice in Milwaukee, which was the best reason to move - even if it's Christmas.