Emily M. DeArdo

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Yarn Along: The yarn overfloweth!

yarn along, travelEmily DeArdo6 Comments
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Guys. Look at all that yarn

Isn't it delicious?! 

I picked up all this yarn yesterday at Sewickley Yarns in Sewickley, PA--they are a Quince and Co. flagship store, and I adore Quince and Co yarns, but there are no flagship stores in Ohio--meaning, a place where you can get more than their linen line. I wanted their wool! And it can be hard to color-compare on a website. So, when we made a trip to Pittsburgh for my grandma's 88th birthday, I really wanted to stop here. My parents graciously obliged me, in the middle of a crazy heat wave, and I got to look at and feel lots of squishy wool!

These are destined for three projects: The four skeins on the right are Quince Chickadee for a new Drachenfels shawl, with a light pink yarn. (The colors here are Sage and Frank's Plum) 

 My first Drachenfels scarf, also made with Quince Chickadee. 

My first Drachenfels scarf, also made with Quince Chickadee. 

The pink skein (chickadee in pomegranate) will be used for my first hat, a day beret. 

The other skeins are Quince and Co's Owl, which is wool and alpaca together, and I love it already, even though I haven't knit with it yet. This is for a Kate Cowl, and I chose the Abyssinian (gray), cranberry (red), and steppe (yellow) color ways. The Abyssinian is fabulous in person, hence the reason I was so glad that I could see these yarns! I never would've selected it otherwise. 

 Kate cowl--abyssinian will be the large gray section, cranberry the green section, and steppe the stripe! 

Kate cowl--abyssinian will be the large gray section, cranberry the green section, and steppe the stripe! 

Just looking at all that yarn makes me so happy. :) 

I'm planning on doing a TON of knitting today so I'll have finished projects to show you soon!

And also, what I've been reading.....

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A Friday surprise--quick takes!

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Seven Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I haven't done one of these in forever, so maybe it's time to do them again? :) Linking up with Kelly! :) 

1. 

Dad just got back from his trip to London for a DevOps conference (DevOps is IT related stuff, for you non tech geeks out there). I was a just a little jealous, especially since he got to go to Westminster Cathedral for Mass and see Buckingham Palace and just be in London, which is really the greatest city in the world. 

 Westminster Cathedral 

Westminster Cathedral 

2. 

He also brought me back the papers, which delight me to no end. I love getting papers from other countries. The first thing I noticed is how big they are? No American paper is this big anymore. It's amazing!

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So yeah, I'm slowly savoring the reading of the papers. Because it's just fun, and that probably makes me a nerd. But a nice nerd. :) 

3. 

I always knew that London was fairly far north, but in checking the weather for my dad's visit, I noticed that it's a LOT farther north than I thought--the sun was rising at 4:30 AM! That's just amazing. But also, in the winter, London has to get dark pretty quickly. Sort of sobering. But I do think it would be cool to see one of the white nights, or even a sunrise at 4:30 (provided I could go back to sleep after seeing it. :-) 

4. 

Yes, my "desk"--my kitchen table--is a mess. I've got SO many things going on right now. I've started writing a new book (YES! Wheee! Let's hope someone wants it!) about churches and accessibility. I've been getting new library books like every day since the library actually has books I want to read, and they can be delivered to my local library so I don't have to drive all over creation to get them (our library system is huge).  I've been working more on my sketching, and I've been packing because we're going to Pittsburgh later today. So yes, it's nuts, and my table is crazy. 

5. 

Also, Catholic 101 is currently on sale for FIVE BUCKS! If you don't have it, you can grab it here. This is the cheapest it will be all year! 

6. 

I've been knitting, too, even though the hand thing took a bite out of that, but I finally got some more yarn for my scarf project so I'm back at that. I promise a Yarn Along next week!

7. 

And I also promise to do a reading round-up soon. I've been reading so many books that I need to talk about them. Soon, I promise!

 

Postcard: Duck, North Carolina

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This is an update to a post I did a few years ago, which focused solely on Duck. Now, while my family has stayed in Duck every time we've gone to the Outer Banks, this year we ventured further afield and went to Corolla, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills, so I've included my recommendations for restaurants and shopping (when applicable) there as well. I hope you find this entry helpful if you're planning a trip to the Banks (which you should totally do). 

Getting There

You can fly into the Outer Banks--the Richmond, VA airport is fairly close--but I recommend driving, because, if you're spending a week at the beach, you're going to need a lot of stuff. For me, it's a drive that can be done in one very long day, but both times I've gone, the drive has been split into two days on the way there, and done in one on the way back. 

Housing

The house we stayed in was a Sun Realty NC rental. They have a HUGE variety of properties to fit every budget, are pet-friendly, and are fantastic to work with. (They also support the CF Foundation!) They have everything from tiny beach bungalows to multi-story houses with pool tables and in-ground pools. 

 

Food

The food in the Outer Banks (Hereafter OBX) is fantastic, especially the seafood. Here are some of the places we've enjoyed eating: 

In Duck...

The Blue Point for a nice lunch or dinner. Located in the Waterfront Shops, you have a lovely view of the sound. 1240 Duck Road. 

Duck Pizza Company: It's a Sunday evening tradition--don't go grocery shopping, get Duck pizza. They deliver, or you can eat at their shop in the Scarborough Lane shops. 1171 Duck Road. 

Duck Donuts:  Incredibly delicious. Yes, they have locations around the U.S. now, but eating Duck Donuts in the OBX is something special.  1190 Duck Road (locations throughout the OBX, check their website for locations and hours--the one in Corolla is only open until 3 pm!)

Sooey's BBQ and Rib Shack: Get some Carolina cue in the Scarborough Faire shops (right next to the Scarborough Lane shops).  1177 Duck Road. 

Duck Deli:  A large menu, indoor/outdoor setting, and a casual vibe. They also offer take out and live music and entertainment on some evenings. 1223 Duck Road. 

Roadside Bar and Grill: My favorite new place--the shrimp and grits were absolutely perfect. There were so many delicious sounding things on the menu that I could've eaten here every day of our vacation and had something new each time! 1193 Duck Road

In Manteo...

Big Al's: We ate here on our way to see The Lost Colony (More on that below) when we visited in 2010. Fantastically fun retro diner. 716 S. Highway 64. 

In Corolla....

La Dolce Vita: An Italian restaurant that has upscale/casual vibes. If you can be both at one time, this place is. Beautiful decor and fixtures but still a place you can visit in your shorts. :) The food was delicious! There are familiar classics, like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmesan, but also dishes like chicken saltimboca, which aren't seen as often--and is delicious. Located in the TimBuck II Shopping Village, 798 C Sunset Boulevard. 

 

In Kill Devil Hills...

Jolly Roger: OK, this place looks sort of weird from the outside, but inside, it's a great Italian restaurant, but with plenty of other dishes, like their fantastic crab cakes, to whet your appetite. And characters from The Little Mermaid are painted on the walls! 1836 North Virginia Dale Trail. 

 

Grocery Stores

Food Lion in Corolla is your big box grocery store; there's also a Harris Teeter. In Duck, you have two smaller choices: Tommy's, which is a gourmet market and sells a ton of fresh seafood, general household goods,  as well as other gourmet eats, is in the waterfront shoppes. Your other option is Wee Winks, which is less pricey and But Tommy's is our general pick for groceries. 

 

Bookstores

That's right guys--book stores. Two fantastic independent bookstores!!!! Both have really friendly staffs and are heaven for book browsers. 

Duck's Cottage: My true love. I go there almost every day when I'm in Duck. Not only books--coffee and pastries, too, that you can eat in the shop or on the adorable porch outside. Treats and water for pups, too! Small, but an incredibly diverse collection, and they'll order books for you. 1240 Duck Road. (In the Waterfront Shops) 

Island Bookstore: Scarborough Faire shops. Packed to the rafters with all sorts of books, including ones that are crazy hard to find. A great place to dig around and browse. The Corolla location is a bit bigger and the selection is just as good. (1130 Corolla Village Road--it's sort of hard to find, but worth it!) 

 

Shopping

Duck is known as a shopper's paradise, and there's a lot of great places to check out. The Scarborough Lane and Scarborough Faire shops are a good place to go when it's raining since they're more covered; the Waterfront Shops overlook the sound. The Fudgery at the Scarborough Lane shops is to die for, and the Christmas Mouse shop there is really cute. I love just about every shop in the Waterfront Shops. There's also a Life is Good store! 

 

Beaches

The Beaches are divine. If you rent from Sun, you'll have private access routes to the beaches. You can also rent beach items--chairs, noodles, floats, even bikes--from various companies around town. The beaches all have lifeguards and boards noting the weather conditions, water temperature, and other things. Be aware of riptides and how to get out of them before you go, though--every house that Sun rents has information sheets about these in the main room. 

 

Theater

The Lost Colony is one of America's first outdoor drama performances, and it's one of the good ones. The performance features really cool sets and music, and is located in an outdoor amphitheater that overlooks the water. Wear bug spray and bring a jacket, because it gets chilly! But it's a great performance that details what might have happened to the "lost colony" of Roanoke. 1409 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC. 

History

If you want to see where the Wright Brothers took their first flight, head to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. (Even though the first flight was in Kitty Hawk, the museum is located in Kill Devil Hills. Go figure.) 

Sports

The OBX is a great place to learn to surf, SUP (Stand up Paddleboard), body surf, kayak--all sorts of things are available. There's fishing off the research pier, kite flying, and a lot more. 

Getting around/miscellaneous

Everything in Duck is off the main road--route 12, or the "Duck Road." It's easy to get around via car or even bike--and to get to the other towns, you either go north or south. Corolla, the city north of Duck, is pretty remote, and in Carova, you need 4x4, or you aren't going anywhere. 

Saturdays are crazy, because that's the biggest day for people leaving and arriving in the Outer Banks. Be prepared for slow traffic on the bridges and once you're on the island. It gradually clears up as you get closer to Duck. To avoid the traffic when you're heading home, leave really early in the morning. We found that if we're across the bridge by 11, we can avoid the traffic, and we usually get Sunday-Sunday rentals--the traffic isn't quite as bad then as it is on Saturday. Also be sure to study the hurricane information sheets in your hotel/rental, as well as the rip tide info. 

Your rental company will tell you what you need to bring in terms of cooking/household gear. If you're like me and you like to cook, you might want to bring a decent knife and cutting board, since those can be hard to find in rental houses. 

 

 

 

Duck: Days 5-7

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 Sunset on Thursday, August 31. 

Sunset on Thursday, August 31. 

Day Five 

We had a delicious lunch at The Roadside in Duck, which was a new restaurant for us, but one I must go back to, because they had the best shrimp and grits I've ever had in my life

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The restaurant was really cute, with creative touches everywhere, like the following: 

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After lunch, it was back to the house for more swimming, reading, and knitting. I brought a very simple project with me (just stockinette stitch) in Quince and Company's Sparrow linen yarn (Truffle colorway). I'll talk more about this in my next yarn along. 

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 My knitting/reading chair--the natural light, and that lamp, were perfect! 

My knitting/reading chair--the natural light, and that lamp, were perfect! 

And Thursday night was the kickoff to the college football season. It was strange watching football at the beach! But like good Ohioans, we settled in to watch Ohio State play Indiana. 

 

 Friday morning, September 1. 

Friday morning, September 1. 

Day Six 

All week, Dad had promised me Duck Donuts on Friday--Friday treat! (As I took to calling it.) And lo, there were donuts, and they were magical. But we'll talk about those in a second. 

First, though, a note about me and vacation. Normally, when I'm on a long-ish vacation, there comes a point where I start thinking about the things at home--not in a bad, panicky way, but in a sense of, how can I take this vacation sort of atmosphere back home with me?  And then, of course, I do start thinking about projects, and blogging, and things to write, and what I'd like to do at home. So Friday morning I spent some time in Duck's Cottage, writing and thinking about these things, while mom and dad walked around and browsed the shops. 

(I also bought new books. But that's par for the course, in the Cottage. I also bought some of their coconut crunch coffee to take home!) 

So when I was done, Mom and Dad picked me up, and we headed for Duck Donuts. 

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There are locations all over the country now, but this is the original shop. The way it works is this: they have one "type" of donut--there aren't Boston cream or strawberry jam filled or anything like that. It's a basic donut, made fresh. What makes it different is the topping options: you can glaze, top, and drizzle to create whatever type of donut you desire! And no matter what, a donut is $1.50--so whether it's plain or abundantly topped, one price. 

You fill out your order sheet, pay, and then pick up your fresh, made to order, heavenly scented donuts .

 Here: chocolate dip with rainbow sprinkles, and a simple glaze. 

Here: chocolate dip with rainbow sprinkles, and a simple glaze. 

That was our lunch that day, and it was delicious. 

Dinner was in Corolla again that night, and it was sort of eh. Not my favorite, but it was passable. 

I couldn't believe Friday had come so quickly. That's the thing about vacations, I've noticed--the days are long but the week is short! (And life, in general, right?) I was getting up around 7:45 every day--loads earlier than usual--and going to bed around 9:30 or 10, so my days were longer, but they were nicely full. Or maybe it's just being at the beach? There's something about it that naturally allowed my days to include lots of different activities. 

 

 Saturday, September 2

Saturday, September 2

Day Seven 

It was our last day in Duck. I'm always sad about this, but determined to enjoy the last day--you know the feeling, right? 

I had a visitor during my morning prayer/journal/reading devotional time: 

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Our plan on Saturday was to pack, clean the house (in as much as we had to), watch the Pitt game, and then go to Mass in Kitty Hawk and dinner in Kill Devil Hills. If you're not familiar with the Outer Banks, Duck is one of the northern beaches, along with Carova, Corolla, and Southern Shores. Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk are in the middle of the Banks, and there's a lot of activity down there--they're both bigger towns than Duck. 

Mass was...well, less said about that particular parish, the better. Dinner was fun though. We went to the Jolly Roger in Kill Devil Hills, which is an Italian restaurant--but it's so much more than that. The menu was huge, the crab cakes deservedly award-winning, and the decor was fun: 

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And our final stop in the OBX was the Duck Donuts nearby, to get breakfast for the next morning--and to get mom a donut, since she hadn't had one during our first trip. 

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Sunday morning was gorgeous--we got up a little before 6, in time to catch a sunrise before we left the OBX and headed home. 

 

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Duck: Days 3-4

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 Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning was, as you can see, gray. And rainy. And windy. It was going to be a day for indoor things. So I read The Lake House, which I'd picked up at Duck's Cottage on the first day, and we went to The Blue Point for lunch. 

 A very wet Duck horse 

A very wet Duck horse 

I like to go to the Blue Point for lunch at least once during a stay in Duck, and Tuesday was our day. We tried to walk along the Waterfront Shops for a bit, but it was just really, really rainy/windy, and sort of gross. So we headed back home, but did venture out again for dinner, this time to Corolla, the town north of Duck, for Italian food at La Dolce Vita. After dinner, we visited the Corolla Village, which is home to the Island Bookshop's Corolla location. And behold, another horse!

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We had high hopes that Wednesday would be better, weather-wise, and we weren't disappointed!

Day Four

 Wednesday morning

Wednesday morning

The weather was perfect--sunny and breezy, so we spent a lot of time at the beach. The red flags were still up, but you could stand at the edge and let the waves wash over you. Because the moon was heading to full, the tides got stronger every day we were there. 

I experimented with watercolors, read books and magazines, and generally had a great time basking in the ocean. 

Wednesday was our "day in", where we didn't go anywhere except to get ice cream at the Waterfront shops after dinner, and a 1/4 pound of fudge from Candy and Corks (also in the Waterfront shops). It's not a beach vacation until there's some fudge eaten, that's my rule!

It was a nice night, so I took advantage of it to take more horse photos: 

 

 

Duck: Days 1-2

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Since we were in Duck a week, I thought I'd break my journal entries up into a few days so that we can really get the goodness. 

We arrived in Duck around 10:30ish, which was part of the plan. We wanted to be over the Wright Brothers Bridge before 11, because that's when we'd heard traffic got nuts. We succeeded, drove to our rental office, and arranged to be called when our house was ready. 

In the meantime, we headed to the Waterfront Shops, where I indulged in visiting Duck's Cottage (AKA, Favorite Place on Earth), bought books, and had coffee while my parents walked around. 

We had lunch at Duck Deli across the street, which was good, and plotted out our grocery shopping list. Then it was back to the Cottage porch to wait for the phone call. I had a great time sketching and journaling from my perch with my Mucky Duck. 

We got called a little after one--our house was ready! Yay! After provisioning at Wee Winks Market (and having an issue with the cashier, but that's another story), we headed to Barrier Island Station, and our condo for the week. 

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Our house is the lower deck and the floor beneath; my room is the bay window on the ground floor. 

The house had two levels, with two bedrooms, the laundry room, and a full bath on the ground floor, and the master suite, living room, kitchen, dining room, and porch on the second. So there was a lot of stair climbing involved for me, since my room was on the first floor! But hey, who cares? 

Dad and I were hot from the drive, and it was warm in Duck, so we quickly jumped in the pool and went swimming before dinner. 

We had pizza from Duck Pizza for dinner and we were all ready to go to bed sort of early, because we'd left Williamsburg rather early in the morning (before 8 A.M). 

When I'm at the beach, I always seem to go to bed earlier and get up earlier; I think it has to do with the sun setting and rising earlier than it does in Ohio (about a half hour earlier). And all that fresh air can make you tired!

Day two 

 View from our deck of the ocean, Monday morning 

View from our deck of the ocean, Monday morning 

The winds were absolutely nuts, so we couldn't go swimming  in the ocean--in fact, the red flag that screamed NO SWIMMING was up almost all week. If you go into the water when that flag is up, you can be ticketed. We did go swimming in the pool that morning, though. 

We had lunch at the house and then went to the Scarborough Faire and Lane shops before eating dinner at Sooey's Barbecue, a place we'd eaten at before and enjoyed. At Scarborough Faire, I went to the Island Bookshop's Duck location. 

 Well, hello, horse and teddy!

Well, hello, horse and teddy!

In Duck, the Winged Horses are a Thing--it's a public art installation celebrating the first flight's centenary in 2003. The horses are everywhere: along road ways, in shopping centers, and in stores. You'll see them a lot in my posts! This one is obviously well-housed in the Island Bookshop! (The horses are all throughout the banks, not just in Duck.) 

We grabbed a cup of coffee at Treehouse Coffee, and then headed to the Scarborough Lane shops, where I spent most of my time in the Spice and Tea Exchange, where I bought some new tea and a seasonings blend. When I was paying for my purchases I looked up--and saw it was pouring. 

"Welcome to the Outer Banks," the lady behind the counter said. Pop-up storms are not at all uncommon. 

We ran to Sooey's for dinner and had some excellent barbecue before heading back to our rental (named Seaside Serenity). By this point, it was crazy windy--a storm was clearly blowing in, quite literally! 

 

 

Colonial Williamsburg

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I've been to Williamsburg before, but it had been a long time--five, six years or so?--and I was excited to come back, because I adore colonial history, but also because there were some new things I wanted to see, like Liberty the briard (their new mascot), and the Market House. And the last time I visited CW, I wasn't a knitter, so I didn't care about the weaver's shop. This time, I wanted to get my hands on some completely CW produced yarn, and I was very interested in visiting the weaver and seeing how colonial yarn and fabric were made. But that is a completely separate post--tomorrow's yarn along. So those of you who love knitting and textiles can geek out with me, and those of you who don't can move along. 

This is an overview post--I'll be doing a post card with specifics--addresses, hours, websites, etc.--later this week. 

We got to Williamsburg on Friday evening, and after checking in at our hotel, we went to Merchant's Square for dinner. It was Freshman move in day for William and Mary, which abuts CW, so there were lots of Bright Young Things and their parents swarming around. But that didn't stop me from getting a Divine Sandwich. 

 Virginia Ham and cheddar on French bread, with house dressing. Because you have to have the house dressing at the Cheese Shop. 

Virginia Ham and cheddar on French bread, with house dressing. Because you have to have the house dressing at the Cheese Shop. 

We walked around for a bit and went in and out of the shops before going back to our hotel. The Historic Area opens around 10:00, and I wanted to be there pretty early since it was going to be a warm day (low to mid 80s). I also was going to bring my big sketchbook and I wanted to get in some sketching!

Saturday was a great day. I had three goals for the day: Sketch, meet Liberty, and buy some CW made yarn. The yarn they sell is completely made at CW--the wool is from their Leicester Longwool sheep, and it's made completely on site. Again, more about this tomorrow. I achieved all my goals!

 Recently dyed yarn in the weaver's shop 

Recently dyed yarn in the weaver's shop 

Liberty is a briard, a breed of dog probably brought to America by Thomas Jefferson from France. You can read more about Liberty here

I am not really a dog person, but she's so cute! 

There are actually two Liberties--a brother and sister pair of Briards that take turns appearing. These pictures don't really capture it, but she's a pretty big dog! Her handler also said that the breed changes color as they age, which I thought was really interesting. The colors of her fur now are not the colors it'll be as she grows/ages. 

Speaking of animals, I was also really excited to see the Leicester Longwool sheep, which are part of CW's Rare Breeds program. They are super cute! (More on them n the yarn post.) 

 Sheep with their herder in front of the Randolph House. 

Sheep with their herder in front of the Randolph House. 

 

I had a lot of fun sketching the historic district. When you sketch outside, people comment, which I don't mind. It's sort of fun. I'm adding some more notes and collage bits to the pages, so they're not done yet, but when they are, I'll share them here. 

I always love going into the milliner's shop, which sold clothing, accessories, and toiletries, as well as sewing and knitting notions. CW actually has a milliner and mantua (dress) making shop, as well as a separate milliner shop, both based on historic records from the colonial era. In the former, you can see pieces being made and even try on colonial stays. The work the milliners do is exquisite. 

You can buy complete outfits from them, or, if that's too rich (and the outfits cost hundreds of dollars, which makes sense, given the work involved!), there are muffs, mitts (fingerless gloves), hats, handkerchiefs, and other smaller items. 

For lunch, we ate at The King's Arms, one of CW's four taverns. 

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I had peanut soup and Virginia ham with sweet potatoes and a tiny biscuit. Delicious. 

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On top of the peanut soup are "sippets"--basically day-old pieces of bread that have been toasted, like croutons. Sippets are technically made from Sally Lunn bread, a popular Colonial recipe. Peanut soup is divine. I'll be posting the recipe soon! 

After lunch we spent a few more hours in the historic area before we had to leave to go to Mass at a nearby parish. But we were back for dinner at Chowning's. 

 We shared this "crock of cheese". And it was delicious. 

We shared this "crock of cheese". And it was delicious. 

We were seated on the second floor which gave a neat ambiance to the meal. By the end of the meal we were the only ones there! (There were more people below in the two dining rooms on the first floor.) 

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CW was a lovely start to our vacation, and a nice break in the 10 hour drive from Columbus to Duck. We got to relax, sleep in nice beds, and have a good time. 

On Sunday we left around 7:30 and headed to the Outer Banks! 

Vacation

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We're back!

This was one of the longer vacations we've (my parents and I) taken--we left on Friday, August 25, and got back last night, so 10 days of vacation. And every one of those ten days was fantastic.  

I've got so much to write about, especially since our vacation was really like two-in-one--we spent two nights in Colonial Williamsburg before spending the week in Duck, so I've got both places to talk about, and pictures to show, and all sorts of things to discuss--like yarn and colonial weaving and books and the beach. 

So this is just a teaser to say I'm back, happy September, and there's much more coming! 

 

A day trip to Waynesville, Ohio

family, travel, ohio, journalEmily DeArdoComment

So, two weeks ago was my cousin's first communion day. My parents and I were planning on going to Pittsburgh to celebrate, like we do for every first communion, but since this was the last of the grandbabies, it was going to be sort of bittersweet. 30 some years of first communion parties, over! 

The day of the party, my mom got a call from my uncle--my aunt was sick, so the party was cancelled. :( But we were all up anyway, and dressed, and it wasn't even ten o'clock, so....we decided to take a road trip down to Waynesville, Ohio, a little village in the southwest corner of our state. 

First order of business: Food. 

 

The food at Cobblestone cafe was amazing, guys. You even get complimentary chai tea lattes at the end of the meal! They're tiny and adorable! The cafe is also a shop, so you get two great things in one place. Mom, Dad, and I are hard-pressed to find a place that all of us like equally when it comes to eating, and Cobblestone fit the bill with their amazing menu. And dessert. Can we talk about dessert? Holy moly, it was good.  Key lime pie! Pina Colada sundae! (Or was it a cake thing? I can't remember. It was good.) 

 I will take one of each color, please.... (taken at Cheap John's.) 

I will take one of each color, please.... (taken at Cheap John's.) 

 

I had way too much fun shopping, and so did my mom--and even my dad. (He is a licorice connoisseur and he found homemade licorice that apparently passed His Testing at Cheap John's.) 

The town is full of craft and antique shops, and I found a yarn store (of course), where the excellent proprietor gave me a free (?!) yarn book and even gave me some advice on the knitting project I was shopping for (it's this one--it won't be made for awhile yet, but I was glad to get advice and find the yarn I needed for this project!).  She had recently worked on the project with another customer, so she gave me needle and gauge advice! Win! 

Waynesville isn't far off I-71, so you're close to King's Island in Mason, and also Cincinnati proper, so, in theory, you could probably stay at a Waynesville B&B and visit these places from there--or visit Waynesville during a Cincinnati trip. It's only a little over an hour from Columbus. Perfect day trip distance.

 Flowers outside the Cobblestone Cafe. 

Flowers outside the Cobblestone Cafe. 

 

It almost felt like a movie set, it was that cute. I think all of us want to go back soon, and since it's so close, we can definitely make that happen. Besides, Dad wants more licorice! 

 

Growing through the dirt--Making Things Happen Conference 2017

goal setting, travel, Making Things HappenEmily DeArdo4 Comments

This isn't just a normal hallway. 

Off this hallway, big things happened. 

Weeds were pulled. Seeds planted. Connections made. 

Last week I had the incredible privilege of attending the Making Things Happen conference. It's a hard conference to explain. Essentially, you could say it's about goal setting. But it's about more than that--it's about living the life that you want to live, about being in touch with your purpose and getting rid of fears, lies, assumptions, and other muck that's holding you back from pursuing dreams and the fullest life. 

These dreams don't have to be big. They could be, in the world's reckoning, quite small. But to each person I was privileged to meet at this conference, it was about making their lives, and their small corners of the world, better

I went into the conference feeling discouraged. I didn't feel like I was ever going to meet my goals of getting the book published and meeting smaller, more personal goals. I felt like I had been planting seeds, but wasn't seeing results. 

"How would it feel if we got pregnant, and then had a baby the next day?" Lara Casey (the conference founder) asked at one point. It's absurd, but it's true. One of my big takeaways was that I wanted success to be easy. I didn't want to have to keep sending out proposals, keep exercising....keep whatever-ing. I wanted success now, measurable results NOW! And that's not how it goes. 

It's about God's timing. Not mine. Lara loves gardening, so her talks had lots of gardening metaphors. "Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we" was one I really liked. 

It takes work for a seed to grow. And faith for a farmer or gardener to plant that seed and hope for a harvest. 

As part of "growing together", we had focus groups. The ladies in my focus group were amazing. We got down to the real, hard things and then started to build up from there. 

I met amazing, God-loving women who want to make good things happen, and that inspired me. I know that these women want to help me grow, just like I want to help them. When you're real with someone--really real, no holes barred, crying in front of them sharing fears real--for two days, you know that at the end of it, you're accepted and loved and supported. It's truly an amazing feeling to have that support. 

Growing little by little is powerful. The items on my action list are slowly being tended. I'm being very intentional in how I spend my days and my time. This time is all I get--I don't want to waste it. 

Another big take away for me? "We practice to get better!" That's one of the things I hate about exercise--I'm not good at it. But hearing this, even though it's sort of a duh truth, gave me the encouragement I needed. We do practice to get better. And often, I don't want to practice the stuff I'm not good at. But I have to, to see any growth. 

 The Carolina Inn, where the conference was held. 

The Carolina Inn, where the conference was held. 

At the conference, one of the questions we journaled about was: what is your definition of success? Here's mine: 

Doing what God has created me to do with a joyful and contented heart.

So everyday, I'm going to sit down with my planner (which Emily L. so graciously gifted all of us!), my mug, and my PowerSheets, and make things happen. Especially things that will further what God has created me to do. 

Daybook No. 124: entering Ordinary Time

Daybook, behind the scenes, fiction, travel, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Outside my window::

Dark. I tend to write these on Sunday nights, so that they go up in the morning without me having to scramble to write. So it's Sunday night, but it was light until like 5:45 today! I love that. :) 

Wearing::

A skirt and a three-quarter sleeve robin's egg blue t-shirt. When I have to work around the house I'd rather do it in one of my dress down skirts because it's easier to move around in, and I was cleaning the kitchen this morning. 

Reading::

Kim, Anne of Green Gables, and I'm going to dig out my Queen Victoria books, because of Victoria on PBS. (No, I'm not watching it right now--the Steelers are on!) I have a feeling the series is not going to be as historically accurate as I would like, so I need to refresh my memory on the finer points. 

 Played Disney Scrabble over the weekend. There are four "Disney words" in this puzzle: Song, Fox, Deb, and Hope. Do you know why? (Answers at the bottom)

Played Disney Scrabble over the weekend. There are four "Disney words" in this puzzle: Song, Fox, Deb, and Hope. Do you know why? (Answers at the bottom)

Looking forward to::

The Making Things Happen Intensive! I won a ticket to the conference, but I had to book my flight and hotel, and I'm done with my prep now! Yay! I am so excited to be attending this conference, and glad that the conference gets a good room rate and I found a decent airfare to Raleigh. 

Around the house::

Cleaning. Finishing the Christmas tree putting-away-ness. Putting it up, I usually have help. Taking it down, it's usually just me. So it takes a few days, especially since I like all the ornaments to go back--nicely--into their boxes. 

Random thoughts::

Is anyone else tired? What is it with this January? Is it the weird weather pattern of 3-4 days of FREEZING COLD and then 3-4 days of spring? I'm sleeping for 10-11 hours a night, and that's just weird. I shouldn't be sleeping like that. Anyone else, or am I just weird? 

Writing projects::

I'm making really good progress on the ebook editing, which is the first step here. I'm making sure every piece that I want to have in the book is first off, written, and second off, edited. Not finished, but edited. I'll have this goal met by the end of the month, then it's time for fine-tuning. 

I'm also editing my 2016 NaNo novel this month, to see if there's anything relatively passable in it. :) 

Fun Quote I found last week::

 

Tea is sacrosanct, thank you very much.

Dr. Gordon Wyatt, Bones

 

Plans for the week: 

*Lunch with Dad

* Mass at least once

*Finishing the Tree Takedown

*Taking yet more books/CDs/DVDs to Half Price Books

And knitting! Moreeee knitting--progress posted on Wednesday. 

 

Answers for the puzzle: In Disney Scrabble, Disney words are a wide variety of things and can include: ride names, movie titles, song titles, character names, etc. Obviously you have to prove it's a "Disney word." So in this case: Deb (character from Finding Nemo), Song ("Love Is a Song That Never Ends", from Bambi; "Happy Little Working Song" from EnchantedSong of the South; "With A Smile and a Song" from Snow White); Fox (Fox and the Hound), and Hope ("One Last Hope" from Hercules.) 

Houston Postcard Part II

travel, familyEmily DeArdoComment

It's time for Part Two of my Houston postcards! This is rapidly becoming a series!

In October I went to visit my sister for her birthday, and we had so much fun. We also ate really well and had fun browsing in FOUR bookshops. That's right: FOUR, people. 

So I'm here to share more Houston goodness with you!

(Here's the first postcard)

Food: 

This is up first because we had a lot of foodie fun. :) 

The thing you need to know is that the portions will, most likely, be LARGE. Just plan on that. 

Torchy's Tacos: various locations. Ours was the Rice Village one, 2400 Times Blvd. Mel said to me that they had big portions, but I thought two tacos wouldn't be that big, right? WRONG. They were big. And delicious. I had to admit defeat. The fact that they also sell spicy, amazing queso makes it even harder to stop yourself. They have Mexican sodas, but do not fear! The diet tastes a lot like Diet Coke to me, so I was fine. There's also lemonade and water. Fantastic eats. Yes, the location is small and it's loud, but hey, it's great food. 

Goode Co. Barbecue5109 Kirby Drive (basically, Kirby has a LOT of good food on it. Drive down this street and find good eats.) Texas does barbecue so well, and Goode's does it especially well. We both ordered the two meat platter and got the Czech sausage and the brisket. I have no idea what is in Czech sausage, but whatever it is, it is DELICIOUSNESS. The jalapeño cornbread was a revelation. Excellent good eats. They have a small dining room and a much larger covered patio outside. 

Down House:  1801 Yale Street. This place is cool and serves excellent food. This is where Mel's friends met her for lunch to celebrate her birthday. Mimosas were had (not by me), and there was a cheeseboard. 

The shrimp and grits were exquisite. I could eat here every day. We had a great waiter, and we could eat leisurely and enjoy ourselves, which is always a plus. 

El Tiempo: multiple locations, and I'm honestly not sure which one was ours! We ate here for dinner with Mel and Diane, who were both celebrating birthdays. This is more Tex-Mex than actual authentic Mexican, but it's very good. I had a platter and Mel and her boyfriend shared a fajita plate. 

Grace's 3111 Kirby Drive Mel and I had the best dinner here. (I know I keep saying that, but it's true!) This is owned and run by the people who run Carrabas (there's actually one of them across the street), and it's dedicated to the owner's grandmother, Grace. The restaurant is decorated like someone's house. It's dark and elegant. Me and I shared the beet salad and we both had burgers, because they were Waygu beef burgers, people. Delicious. Very classy place, and it's where Mel takes our parents when they come to town. We saw couples, people on business dinners, families--diverse clientele. Also had a lovely patio! 

The Chocolate Bar2521 University Blvd. (Rice Village) (there's another location in River Oaks, at 1835 W. Alabama) I wanted dessert at Grace's, but Mel said, no. We have to go here. 

THAT is Aunt Etta's cake. That is pure deliciousness. That is something you stomach NEEDS. Mel got the European hot chocolate and a slice of truffle cake. 

I did not eat all of this. But man, it's delicious. You must go to the Chocolate Bar. 

Sweet Paris 2420 Rice Blvd. (three locations) We went here for lunch. They have sweet and savory crepes, as well as waffles, and (my dad says ) Amazing Coffee. It's very cute, very Parisian, and very yummy. 

 

Bookstores

Brazos2421 Bissonnett St. Of course I had to return and bring Mel! A good time was had by all. 

B&N (We don't need to review this, do we? Just know they have them. :-D)

Murder By the Book2342 Bissonnet St. (Yes, it's right down the street from Brazos. This is an excellent street.) I had some reservations about this one, because I'm not a big mystery reader. Man, I was wrong. This place is great! They have more than mysteries (fantasy, thrillers, etc. are included in their sphere), and I picked up books, a journal, and tea! Loved this bookstore. 

 

Galveston

The Spot3204 Seawall Blvd., Galveston. This place has a great view of the Gulf and includes indoor and outdoor seating. I had the Gulf shrimp, because seriously, how much more local can you get? They have a big menu and it's a very relaxed atmosphere--we came here straight from the beach! Parking can be a little tricky. 

Galveston Bookshop:  A used/new book store in the "historic district" of Galveston. The website gives you directions, since it's sort of hard to find. It has a great selection of books about Galveston and Texas in general. (There is also a bookstore cat.) We didn't buy anything, but it looked like a good place to browse for hard to find books. 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 127

7 Quick Takes, drawing, family, travel, Jeopardy, hearing lossEmily DeArdo3 Comments

I.

In case you missed it: Thirty Days of Beauty continued this week. It was really all I wrote this week, since I was in Houston visiting my sister, and didn't bring the laptop with me. So go enjoy those posts. :) 

I will be updating my Houston Postcard next week with the places I did this trip, so it will be more Comprehensive for all you Houston-bound people!

II.

When I was in Houston I did a lot of sketching, including making a point of taking my supplies to the beach at Galveston. I knew that the paint would dry faster in the heat, but I wasn't prepared for how much faster. Still, I'm pretty happy with what I managed to get. 

III. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you are aware that my sister has a cat. Bella is a pretty sweet kitty, who flicks her tail whenever you say her name, and likes to try to get extra kibble out of the automatic feeder. (My sister is a nurse who works night shift, so automatic feeding for Bella is a good thing!) She discovered that by moving her paw under the slot, she could get extra kibble to drop down. Sometimes. Never having lived with a cat, I was hugely amused by her behavior. 

IV. 

There were FOUR bookstores visited on this trip, guys. FOUR. One of them, yes, was a Barnes and Noble, and I wasn't there for very long, but still. FOUR! 

Brazos, of course. I introduced Melanie to its beautiful-ness. Small but mighty. 

We checked out Galveston Bookshop--didn't buy anything, though. It looked like it might be a decent place to prowl around and look for books. It's mostly used books, with some new, and they have an excellent collection of books about Galveston and Texas, if that's your thing. They also have a shop cat!

IMG_4074.JPG

The last shop we visited was Murder By the Book, which was excellent. It's a lot more than mystery novels (at first I was like, mystery novels are not my thing), but I had a lot of fun here. More about this guy later. 

V. 

This chocolate cake, people. THIS CHOCOLATE CAKE: 

Does it remind you of this scene in Matilda, or what?!

It reminded me of that. :) And Mel and I love Matilda. So extra bonus points. 

And no. I did not eat that entire piece. Do I look crazy? But it was magically delicious. 

VI.

One of the things that I'm terrible at vis-a-vis traveling is unpacking. My suitcase sits in the main room and is gradually unpacked over a series of days. The longer the trip, the longer it takes to sort everything out! 

VII. 

And finally....

 I wrote a piece for the Cochlear Website about my Jeopardy! experience. You can read it here

It went up on Tuesday when I was in Texas so I didn't have time to write about it. :) But here you go! 

Seven Quick Takes No. 126

7 Quick Takes, family, travelEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Until the election, I'm doing 30 Days of Beauty. It's a series where I post images, book and movie recommendations, and music to serve as a bit of peace and loveliness in the crazy. They're not very long, but hopefully you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed putting them together!

II. 

Makeup recommendation time (this is where all the guys scroll down!): Best mascara I've ever tried is Maybelline's Last Stiletto. Seriously. Try it. Works just as well as Lancome's Definicils and better than any Bobbi Brown I've tried. Needed to share this with y'all. 

III. 

I am going to Houston on Sunday! My sister's birthday is on Monday and she wanted me to come visit her, so I am complying. I'll be there for a few days. 

The extra-fun part is that my sister shares a birthday with two of our cousins, one of which also lives in Houston. So it's gonna be one big party. Yay!

(I do love birthdays. So much.)

IV. 

On Tuesday we're going to the beach. Here's how that conversation went:
Mel: So we'll go to the beach on Tuesday.
Me: Guess I won't need to pack my sweater, then....

It's going to 90 when I'm there. The beach in October? That just seems wrong. 

Oh well! Better than not being on the beach, right? 

V. 

I haven't been to Houston in about five years, so I'm excited to go back. I also get to meet my sister's boyfriend, whom I haven't met yet. Hopefully I don't scare him away. :-P 

VI. 

The TSA agents really do not help women. I mean, seriously. ONE little bag to carry on of toiletries? This, and my meds, is why I have to check baggage. Seriously. I need more than one little baggie, TSA people. 

(First world problem, I know. At least I'm flying Southwest and my checked bag is free.) 

VII. 

Hockey season has begun and my heart is happy. Hockey season always makes me happy. Except when/if my teams are tanking. I don't want that to happen. That's not happy. 

 

Postcard: Chicago

travelEmily DeArdoComment

I visited Chicago in 2006 to celebrate my first transplant anniversary with some of my friends. We spent a weekend there and I'd really love to go back soon! 

There were four of us on this trip-me, my friend Amilia, and our two other friends, Tom and Troy. During the day on Saturday we split up, but we all ate dinner together that night and saw Wicked at the Oriental Theater. 

Hotel

Congress Plaza Hotel 520 South Michigan Avenue. Part of the movie Return to Me was filmed in one of the ballrooms here. It's centrally located, right across from Grant Park and near Shedd and the Field Museums. 

Museums

The Field Museum 1400 Lake Shore Drive. Amilia and I adored the Field Museum. They had an exhibit on King Tut running when we were there, but there's also Sue the Dinosaur, their "normal" Ancient Egypt exhibit (which is great), and a host of other things. There's also a McDonald's. (I do not, however, remember it being so expensive to visit....but it's worth it. There's also, like Houston, a City Pass, which also includes Shedd. ) 

Shedd Aquarium 1200 Lake Shore Drive. The guys went here, and had nothing but good things to say about it. The museum recommends buying tickets online

Art Institute of Chicago: See the famous lions outside and visit even more famous art inside. Ticket prices are here. This is also included in the City Pass. 

Food

Giordano's : multiple locations. If you're coming to Chicago, you have to eat some deep-dish pizza. This is where we went, and the pizza did not disappoint. 

Rosebud Theater District: We had dinner here before Wicked, and it did not disappoint. A really lovely restaurant with a great staff and excellent food. (There are multiple locations throughout the city.) 

Shopping/Attractions 

Grant Park: "Chicago's Front Yard", it includes the Shedd and Field Museums, as well as Buckingham Fountain, the "bean", and hosts other festivals throughout the year.  

Navy Pier : Since the Ferris Wheel was invented in Chicago (and named after its mayor at the time), ride the one at Navy Pier. This is a fantastic place to explore, eat, and generally hang out. 

The Miracle Mile: OK, really, you sort of have to at least visit this. We stopped in at the American Girl Store, but there's also a huge LEGO store, a Nike Store, etc. etc. 

Postcard: Houston

travelEmily DeArdoComment

My sister lives in Houston, as does one of my cousins. So this is a city I'm going to get to know pretty well, probably. However, the only time I've been there was before my sister moved there, and I was visiting my cousin, who had one child at the time (now she has three), and the baby was 9 months old. So, these suggestions sort of reflect the period in which I was there, meaning, we had a baby in tow. :) And since I stayed at her house, I have no hotel suggestion. 

However, here's what we did, and what I can suggest: 

Museums and Shops 

  • Johnson Space Center:  1601 Nasa Parkway. I seriously had a blast here, and the baby didn't get bored! Besides visiting Historic Mission Control (where Apollo 13's MC was based--the actual event, I don't think the movie was filmed here), it's also a great museum with rotating exhibitions (when we were there it was Star Wars), a play place for kids, and fun science experiments (like figuring out how much you'd weigh on other planets, and what the soil makeup on the moon is). It is expensive. I think we had coupons or something. But kids under 3 are free, and kids from ages 4-11 have a reduced price. (There's also the CityPass, which I talk about below, and will save you a bundle.) 
     
  • Brazos Bookstore: 2421 Bissonnet Street OK, I had wayyy too much fun here. You know how much I like my independent book shops, and this is one of the best in the country! There's a great kids area and I even found a copy of The Stranger in French, which I didn't buy, and I kick myself for that a lot. If I'm ever back there, I will try to hunt it down again!
     
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science: 5555 Herman Park Drive. We had a lot of fun visiting the butterflies at the Butterfly Center, but there are also other cool things to see here. Kids and adults will like it. 

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: 1001 Bissonnet. I also love art museums, so this was a great place. Their collection of impressionists is.....impressive. (See what I did there?) I also really liked their selection of European art. You can buy tickets ahead of time on the website. 
     

TAKE NOTE! If you're planning on doing the Space Center, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Museum of Fine Arts, I highly suggest getting a City Pass.  Save yourself some money!

Food:

Freebirds: Like Chipotle, but better. Locations around the city.  

Galveston: 

We did take a trip to Galveston the same day we did NASA. In Galveston, we drove around and had dinner at Gaido's, which was enjoyable. There's a great view of the Gulf from inside, too! We took the baby to the beach and went wading for a bit. The water is like bath water. My parents have spent more time down there than I have, and they really like it. So it might be worth checking out, and of course spending a beach day, if that's your thing. You don't have to pay to use the beaches and there's street and lot parking. Fees for the parking vary. 

Summer Scribbles No. 1: A Question of Packing

essays, travel, Jane AustenEmily DeArdo2 Comments

The SITS girls had a list of blog writing prompts for June, and I've selected ones I particularly enjoy, and which I'll be sharing with you on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Sometimes using prompts helps ignite my creative juices and give us some variety in the content we have here. And it's summer, so we might as well have fun with it, right? 

The first prompt is: 

What is something you always take with you when you travel? 

Besides the medical equipment--CI cleaner, CI battery charger, the huge medication bag (which is smaller than it was pre-transplant!)--and the normal stuff, there are two things that always come with me when I travel:

Tea and Jane Austen. 

I realize those things are probably connected. 

I started taking Bigelow tea bags last fall when I went out of town for a wedding. I found it was so nice to have the option of hot tea in my room at night--if there's a coffee machine, I can heat up the water for tea, and if there's a microwave, I can even reheat tea again in the morning. I brought an entire box to California with me, if you can believe it, and it came in handy on the last day, because I caught a cold and having tea was definitely helpful! 

The other thing I always bring is a hard copy of a Jane Austen novel. Usually it's P&P. For Pittsburgh, it'll be Persuasion, unless I finish it before then, in which case it'll be Emma. When I' tight on space and/or I have my iPad, all of Jane's books are loaded on there. Her books are sort of my literary security blanket. I know I'll always have something to read!

What is something you always bring with you when you travel? 

Postcard: Nashville

travelEmily DeArdoComment

Since summer=travel season for a lot of people, I thought I'd share some of my favorite places to visit with all of you, as well as local recommendations. One of my favorite things to do post transplant is travel, which is so much easier, because I don't have machines to lug around anymore! So I've been to a lot of lovely cities in the past 10 ( Almost 11!) years, and I love to share my travel thoughts with you. So this will be a pretty regular feature here until I'm caught up on cities! 

I've been to Nashville twice, and it's one of my favorite cities in the country. It's a big city with a small-town feel, and it has amazing attractions and places to eat, plus a Dominican monastery and a fantastic Catholic bookstore (yes, in the heart of the Bible belt! Win!)

Both times I've been to Nashville I've stayed in private homes, but here are some of my favorite places in Music City: 

St. Mary's Catholic Bookstore, 1909 West End Avenue

Three floors of Catholic amazingness! 

The Parthenon, 2500 West End Avenue

A recreation of the famous Parthenon in Greece, complete with a recreation of the Athena Parthenos (If you've read Rick Riordan's Gods of Olympus series, you know what I'm talking about!) Set in the middle of a park in downtown Nashville, it's also a great place to hang out, picnic, and play. 

The Frist Museum, 919 Broadway

The gallery hosts touring art exhibits, as well as being a place for local artists to exhibit their pieces. Adult admission is $12, but anyone under 18 is FREE, and college students are $9. 

The Wild Iris, 127 Franklin Road, Brentwood, TN (near Nashville) 

Located in a strip mall (or at least it used to be!), it's a charming restaurant with an excellent wine list. 

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Motherhouse, 801 Dominican Drive

The sisters do offer retreats for young ladies from time to time, but you are also free to attend Mass there, or even parts of the liturgy of the hours. Contact the sisters to check on Mass and prayer times. 

 

California Diary: Recommendations

travelEmily DeArdoComment

Hotel

Doubletree by Hilton LA--Westside

6161 W Centinela Ave, Culver City, CA

("West" in LA parlance means "south" to the rest of the world.) 

This hotel is really close to Sony Studios, hence the reason we stayed here. Lots of business travelers but I also saw some families. There's a pool and hot tub that are open year round (the pool is heated), and towels are provided there. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the room service menu is great. There's also a fitness room. The "business center" is two computers and two printers in the lobby. The people in reception also serve as concierges. 

Restaurants

Bouchon, Beverly Hills (Restaurant, bakery, bar) : Great wine list, classic French bistro menu, and the macarons are divinity. Be sure to stop at the bakery and pick up some yummy treats because they'll be closed after dinner! (They close at 7 PM, while the restaurant starts dinner seating at 6 PM) A great place for a nice dinner, and apparently kid-friendly-there were several people who had brought their kids to the restaurant. (Obviously, make sure your kid can handle a nicer restaurant before you do this.) 

Killer Shrimp, Marina Del Rey. This is a local chain, and it definitely had a neighborhood bar feel to it, but I liked that. It felt less touristy, you know? Coconut shrimp is amazing. 

Bubba Gump, Santa Monica Pier. Locations across the country. You don't have to know anything about Forrest Gump before coming here--I didn't. Fantastic view of the beach. 

Santa Monica Seafood, Santa Monica. They have a VERY small eating area, so you might want to eat on the earlier side. We were there around five, and got right in. 

Ghirardelli Soda Shop, Hollywood. This is also a sort of Disney Store. Pins are its main bread and butter, I think--the special Soda Shop pins can only be purchased here, and the line can be out the door and around the block when new pins are released. That said, the store sells tickets to Disneyland (get them here!), DVDs/Blu Rays, stuffed animals, some clothing, and things that tie into the most popular/newest Disney releases. But really, it's all about the pins. 

The Soda Shop has a very large menu and everything sounds amazing. 

 

Places

Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood (When you see the walk of fame, you'll see a lot of other things too, like the Chinese theater, the Dolby theater, etc--if you're in the "main drag" section--the Chinese theater has all the footprints, etc displayed outside so you don't need to pay to see them) 

Dolby Theater, Hollywood. Where the Academy Awards take place every year. See all the best picture winners on the pillars inside. Go up the steps and you'll find a shopping center that will, eventually, take you to a spot where you can see the famous Hollywood sign. 

The Getty Center, Brentwood --free admission, $15 parking fee. The Getty is great for all ages--they have a lot of stuff for kids and families, including a family center and a kids' gift shop. The cafe is impressively diverse and you have great views of the city from the dining room. There's also a pricier restaurant, but the menu is a lot smaller--just go to the cafe! The permanent collection is also supplemented by various special exhibits--check before you go to see what's on. 

If you're taking Uber or RideShare, there's even a special place to wait when you're ready to leave--a nice bonus, I thought. We got to the benches marked for Uber and called the car from there. 

Disneyland , Anaheim--more below 

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica--restaurants, gift shops, fishing, beach, carnival rides and games on the pier. 

 

Disneyland

Ticket prices here. They vary according to the season. 

Food: Carnation Cafe (Main Street), Naples (in Downtown Disney, adjacent to the park, and I do mean adjacent--it was literally right out the park gate, to the right), Mickey beignets (French Quarter), Dole Whips (by the Tiki Room--to save time, get in line on the Tiki Room side; order your Dole Whip of choice, eat it, and then "ride" the Tiki Room--the line is MUCH shorter this way!)

Downtown Disney has restaurants, shops (including a large Disney store), and a movie theater. It's a nice place to relax after your Disneyland adventures. If you're going to get an Uber from here, you might want to go over to the hotel that's next door--it's easier to give them a location that way. 

Transportation

Uber--we used Uber almost exclusively (a few cabs) and had absolutely no problems with it--it even took us to Disneyland and back. The Disney trip was the most expensive: It was $40 each way, but given that it took an hour, that's not terrible. You pay $50 in NYC going from the airport to midtown.  Most of our trips around LA and environs were much more reasonable--anywhere from $8-14 each way. The app is  great, but do not call the car until you're at the pick-up spot, because they come fast! I saw a group of tourists sprinting from the elevator to the front door of our hotel because their Uber driver was waiting for them.  

There are plenty of cabs at the airport for you to grab to take into the city, and we used cabs after each day of taping--the producers would actually call one for me, which I thought was nice. But the rest of the time--Uber. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California Diary-- Santa Monica

travelEmily DeArdoComment

It was entirely too cold to swim in the ocean, but that didn't mean we couldn't go wading!  

The Santa Monica pier has entrances to the beach proper, which we did after we had lunch at Bubba Gump's on the pier. The day was beautiful, sunny, and breezy, and the waves were such a fantastic blue that you definitely don't see on the Atlantic side of the States. 

The pier has restaurants, shops, a small carnival with rides and games (and similarly overpriced for being what it is), and even places for buying bait and tackle so you can fish off the pier, if that's your sort of thing. A few people had cast their lines off the end of the pier and we're waiting to see if they could reel in some fish. 

The pier itself wasn't too crowded, which was nice, because we weren't all crammed in. I wish the weather had been a bit warmer so we could've hung out on the beach and not been blown away. The wind was fierce. But it was such a beautiful place to be. 

 Looking south from the pier 

Looking south from the pier 

 

East Coast Beaches? West Coast Beaches? Which do you like better?