Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Club Beach Retreat

A few weekends ago I headed out to Bethany Beach for our annual book club retreat. It was wonderful to get to see the water, ride bikes, and enjoy some girl time. Is there anything more fun than flying a kite with your daddy on the beach too? Not sure who these guys were but the idyllic scene set the mood for the weekend.

We visited the beach a few times and caught a few weddings. The gray clouds would make the most striking backdrop for photos.  

I love going to the beach in the fall. The shadows are longer and the quiet is so restorative. My godparents had a condo in the same subdivision back in the 90s. 

The book club babes and I took a ride through the neighborhood and I knew I had been there before, 20 years  ago!!!

I caught this beast leaping off the boardwalk and sent the photo to his owners. 

I stopped into a real live, independent book store as well to look for our November book, which they didn't have in stock.

When I drove down early on Friday afternoon I took a side trip to Rehoboth through Dewey Beach. Any of my DC friends remember this little beauty? This was our rental house a million years ago that we dubbed "The Sixer". So named because there were six balconies. Good times with 32 of my closest friends.

Friday was the sunniest day. There were families swimming.

We stopped into the Henlopen City Oyster House for the best happy hour specials ever.

We found great seats at the bar and I had a delicious pulled pork sammie for $3.00!!! Wine was only $4.00. Thanks Janelle for the great suggestion.

My dream beach house would look something like this.

The fig tree in the side-yard was a bonus.

It was the last day for lifeguards on the beach too for the season. Made me a little sad to kiss summer goodbye but I welcome the fall with all of its glorious colors and chill in the air. I live for fires at Stone Hill.

Book club pals. We did actually read a book and discussed it. Nora Roberts Rising Tides based on the Chesapeake Bay. It was a very easy read and a different genre for this group, but fun nonetheless. I didn't realize Nora Roberts was from Maryland.

Thank you again Toby for your wonderful hospitality. It was the perfect break. Loved getting more time with all of the book club babes, especially Katiecakes who came down from Philly and got stuck in the horrid rain that blocked the road. Janelle and Cheryl, loved getting extra time with you at happy hour. Michelle, Toby, and Katie, dinner at Off the Hook, was just that! I'm praying for all of our East Coast friends on the beach. If Katie was diverted for a small little rain storm I can only imagine what Sandy is going to stir up down de ocean Hon. God save Dewey and all who may be affected by the storm. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rawlings Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

I had the most wonderful site-inspection at a true gem in Baltimore this week, the Rawlings Conservatory in Druid Hill Park. 
The Palm House was built in 1888 and is on of the few remaining Victorian conservatories left in the world. It was designed by architect George Frederick, who also designed City Hall and the Mansion at Cylburn Arboretum.

After nearly five years living in Baltimore I finally had an excuse to go and take a look at this space for a hopeful event. We live a little over a mile, door to door, to this jewel and I look forward to many trips back.

My visit was during a closed day to meet with the event manager at the property. I walked in on a flock of cranes being installed for the upcoming Chrysanthemum exhibit. I can feel Doug rolling his eyes all the way from Kalorama over the thought of a "mum" show. Turns out they are highly valued in the Asian culture.

While the cranes were put to flight inside, the mums were being planted outside of the Palm House. I never thought I'd be excited for a mum show, but hey, I am.

There are three greenhouses connected by pathways behind the South and North Pavilions. The Desert House, Tropical House, and Mediterranean House.

The Dessert House had a gorgeous, large Agave plant greeting you as you enter. Botanical Gardens and Arboretums always hearken back to a "Little Shop of Horror" kind of felling. This Agave could have burst into song at any moment.

I could have spent hours lowering my blood pressure watching the coy. You can feed them for $.25.

The Conservatory, given enough time, will grow plants for your guests as a gift. I love the idea of little air plants as give-aways.

The space is great for a wandering cocktail reception with dinner and dancing tented on the lawn.

North Pavilion, Orchid House, Chimney and Palm House

North Lawn for tenting

North Pavilion

The Orchid Room

Lori, my guide, is a Master Gardener and knew every name of every plant. She said there is a wait list to get on the next round of classes at Cylburn. They have a staff person who makes sure all of the orchids are in bloom and rotates them out each week in this space.

The Palm House was just stunning and romantic. They have many brides get married in this space. I'm sure the acoustics are fabulous for a trio, or my go-to flute and classic guitar favorite for entertainment.

The Orchid House, with living peace sign.

The windows of the Palm House are actually painted a chalky white for shading in the summer. I'm sure it gets pretty hot in there. They are cleaned off in the fall for all the light to shine in during the winter months.


The Conservatory has big plans to expand the gardens in the future. Click here to see the full diagrams. The hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm and suggested $5 donations for entrance.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Johnny's, Roland Park

Johnny's, the latest restaurant in the Foreman Wolf family, opened today in Roland Park. I crashed a meeting E was having with some of our favorite coffee friends this morning. We, of course, had to make the pilgrimage because Lindsay (@Lindsaytron9000) is the head barista or "Coffee Auteur" as the menu reads. We have followed her from Spro, to LAMILL to Johnny's and couldn't be more proud. After posting a few photos on-line I was bombarded with questions asking where it is located. It is on the northern part of the block where Petite Louis sits and where the old Roland Park Deli used to be at 4800 Roland Avenue.

The skylight over the entrance creates a wonderful welcome. The coffee bar is to the right and the restaurant & whiskey bar is to the left. Yes, my darlings, Johnny's has an incredible list of bourbon and I'm dying to get a few friends together stat to check it out for dinner. I predict this will be the place to hang out for drinks to see and be seen by all of Smalltimore.

The coffee bar is bright and airy with high ceilings and windows. Patrick Sutton strikes again with his tasteful design.

Lindsay pulling shots with her protege.

I had to try to the banana muffins.

Lindsay suggested I try a Cortado. It's an espresso shot with half and half. A macchiato is an espresso with whole milk. Have mercy. It was calorically delicious and her apprentice gave me a little heart. Aw.

It's a great, casual space with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. I saw people with laptops and assume there is free wireless. (Update, no wireless.)

The bar space has a phenomenal, Irish pub-like feel. The original stone walls add so much charm you can cut through it with a knife.

I loved the galvanized steel bar caddy.

I see some of my favorite bourbon front and center. Who is with me? 

The space is much, much bigger than I imagined. There are three rooms with banquets and tables. The front area has natural light coming through the windows near the bar area.

The next room has a front and center view of the open kitchen.

The back room is tucked away featuring a mounted deer head and wine stacked in the center buffet space. It is so cozy and begs for long dinners with great conversation.

On the way out you can put change in the piggy bank for a little sweet treat. I can spare a penny for a gum-ball. What a darling idea for Halloween.

My coffee break was a bit of a tease. I look forward to going back soon for lunch, dinner and the happening bar scene very soon. Thank you Tony and Allison for the tour and for the great coffee and tea Lindsay. The space looks and feels so fantastic. We wish you all of the best success.