Museum Day

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One of the best things about living in the Washington DC area is the Smithsonian Complex. The museums are completely free and there are constantly changing world-class exhibits.

While we’ve visited several museums since we’ve lived here including the Museum of Natural History, the Hirschhorn, and the Jewish Holocaust museum, we’ve never been to the National Gallery of Art. So, last Sunday, we headed into DC and spent a few hours wandering the halls.

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This room above is the garden atrium. There were some comfy chairs around the perimeter where you could sit and relax.We sat and dozed for a little while…

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On this day, there were some really great works of art by Degas, Rodin, Jackson Pollock, and so many more. Honestly, there was so much to see that we didn’t know where to start. I always feel this way in art museums… I’d love to take an art history class and then go with a plan. How do you enjoy museums? Do you do any research in advance or just wander towards what strikes you?

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Five Favorites

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(Windy afternoon at the lake)

Fall is in full swing around here. We’ve had some absolutely gorgeous sunny but brisk afternoons. We’re gearing up for Halloween and have some fun plans with neighbors and friends. Here are five favorites from the last week or so. Here’s to pumpkins and raking leaves!

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(Porterhouse for two at Monty’s Steakhouse)

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(Getting ready to carve pumpkins at our annual neighbor pumpkin carving party)

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(The pumpkin lineup)

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(Enjoying drink on the patio of the lovely Occidental Cafe in DC while the weather still permits)


Flashback Friday: Miyajima Island

 

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Wild deer in front of the famous floating Torii Gate

This post is a flashback to when Sean and I went from Okinawa to Iwakuni on mainland Japan. Sean had to attend a meeting up there and I tagged along to get a little taste of maple leaves, cold weather, good eating, and deer… so perfect to put us in the holiday spirit.

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We took a short excursion one day to Miyajima Island, aka the Shrine Island, a convenient 10 minute ferry ride from the mainland. There we saw plenty of wild deer roving the streets, shrines and temples, and beautiful views of changing foliage.
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In addition to these scenic buildings and spots, Miyajima also has charming narrow winding streets and a downtown square area with lots of food vendors and shops selling local specialties. There’s lots more to say about this trip to Iwakuni and Miyajima, including some pictures of wonderful local food we ate while we were there.

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A Visit to Great Falls

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One of the most popular hiking spots in Northern Va is Great Falls. There is usually a long line of cars going into the park and it requires some exercise of  patience while waiting to enter.

It’s often packed on the trails too, but why wouldn’t it be? The scenery is really pretty… especially this time of year.

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Five Favorites

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 (I have titled this picture “Ears”… Sean and Quinn on a drive out to the country)

As we headed into mid-October, the weather turned cooler and there were some cozy rainy days and a few nice drives out to the country. Of course, this weather also makes me want to eat! Here are my favorites from the past week…

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 (Croque Monsier and frites from Cock and Bowl in Occoquan, VA)

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(Impatient doggie waiting for us on our morning walk)

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(Spontaneous after dinner dessert crepe one night at Clifton Cafe)

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(An afternoon spent at Great Falls, Va)


Rainy Day in Middleburg

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“Brilliant! I don’t know what’s more beautiful… the man or the dog!”

As I was taking this photograph of Sean and Quinn, an older eccentric woman walked by and said this to us. We didn’t quite know how to take it.

The woman reminded me of a crazy lady I saw once in Texas who brought her dog inside a grocery store. She looked very glamourous from the back wearing a full-length fur coat. But from the front, her face was completely smeared with lipstick. The store manager kept trying to get her and the dog out of the store, but she just kept saying, “I don’t know what the problem is… he just wants to run everywhere.”

Coincidentally, the woman we saw in Middleburg on this day was also wearing a fur vest, but the lipstick was perfectly within the normal bounds on her face. I think she was giving us a compliment.

It would make sense that a resident of Middleburg would appreciate a handsome dog. This little town is the heart of Virginia Hunt Country, and lots of things here revolve around the hounds. During the annual Christmas parade, the hounds walk down the street in a straight line as people cheer them on. ( an event I can’t wrap my head around since I can’t ever imagine Quinn being so well-behaved)

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We visited Middleburg one rainy day last week after I saw the video of the hounds in the Christmas parade.

This small town has one main street filled with boutiques, taverns, and a butcher that sells bacon maple donuts. Of course, it was pretty this time of year with all the colors of changing leaves. The town is very doggie friendly as well and several of the cafes (Coffee Grounds and Red Fox Inn) have outdoor patios where you can sit with your furry friend. Unfortunately, it was rainy while we were there, so we didn’t stop anywhere for a drink or bite.   

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To get to Middleburg from the DC area, head first to historic Leesburg. Then go south on highway 15 and west on Highway 50. We went a bit too far on the 15 and ended up taking some pretty back country scenic roads. If that happens to you, don’t worry. You’ll see all kinds of pretty old stone fences in the Virginia countryside.  

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Noche IberoAmericana at the Mexican Cultural Institute

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A few weeks ago, Sean and I attended the Noche Ibero-Americana event at the Mexican Culture Institute in DC.

This event featured food, drinks, and music from 18 different Spanish speaking countries. We sampled tasty cuisine from Peru, Spain, and El Salvador. There was cava from Spain, pisco sours from Peru. mojitos from Cuba, and cerveza from Honduras. The entertainment included musicians from Peru and Uruguay.

This was a really fun night, but my favorite part was touring the beautiful historic building with Diego Rivera replica murals on the walls, crystal chandeliers, and a gorgeous wooden carved staircase.

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The musicians from Uruguay were part-vaudeville, melodramatic, old-time singers. They chose several women from the crowd and serenaded with so much emotion. Look at those facial expressions! If I’m honest, I would’ve been flattered if they had chosen me!

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Finally, this guy was not a musician at all, but one of the attendees that night. He was posing for his girlfriend, and his picture was so cute that I couldn’t resist snapping him too.

This night reminded me of all my lovely experiences I had during my youth as an exchange student and traveler in Mexico. It makes me upset to watch the news nowadays or talk with people from there and hear all the negative stories about how life has become so stressful and dangerous. I’ll always try to remember the good times in my mind.

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