Tuesday, June 16, 2009

February 2009 - Mardi Gras Housewarming Party

We were finally settled in to the house and ready to host our first real party. So we decided to combine Mardi Gras and a housewarming party in February. I spent the day cooking (and if I do say so myself it was delicious) – we had jambalaya pasta, red beans and rice, crawfish rolls, buffalo blasts, crawfish balls and King’s Cake. Of course the usual keg of beer, plenty of wine… and killer hurricanes. I made my own and even put a warning sign on them specifically noting that they would knock you on your butt… and sure enough, several folks ended up on their butts! Not to mention any names... Juliet... Katie...

I wore my beads and boobs...and the house looked like you’d just walked onto Bourbon Street – minus the urine and bums and transvestites and that guy with the HUGE ASS BEER sign and the stripclub with the legs going in and out and the holy rollers trying save your sinning soul and the vomit and… okay, maybe it wasn’t just like walking onto Bourbon Street, but it was pretty cool.We had a really good turnout – which is kind of funny because up until quite recently there’s no way I’d even consider throwing a Mardi Gras party, I was always at the parade and so was everyone else I knew. Shrug. Things change. Maybe next year. Maybe not.Just had to add this last picture because Dan and I made Juliet take it over and over a million times until we both thought it was cute enough. Aren't we cute?

January 2009 - LASiK and Hawaii (filling you in)

(For those of you who need pictures with a blog post to hold your interest... scroll down - they're in here. You know I almost never post without pics!)

So I said I'd fill you all in on I'd been up to for the last six months or so since I stopped blogging. In January I did two exciting things - I had LASiK surgery and we spent a week on the Big Island in Hawaii. First things first - LASiK...

I’ve wanted to have LASiK surgery for years and just kept putting it off or getting cold feet. So I finally bit the bullet and had it done in early January. Absolutely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I went first to Mulqueeney and even had my surgery scheduled when they called and said they’d decided I wasn’t a candidate after all and suggested I come in so they could sell me on toric contact lenses (used them previously, hated them, was very angry).

In the end, I had it done through Pepose Vision Institute – they’re a little more expensive, but they’re also the gold standard in the Midwest and this wasn’t something I wanted to bargain hunt. Anyway – and here’s the big kicker – when I went in for my pre-op appt and they did all the eye tests (they test your vision three different ways) they found that I was far sighted. However, I’d been told I was NEAR sighted my entire life. I’d been wearing glasses to correct near sighted vision and astigmatism for twenty years. They explained that the reason I could see better when I put my glasses on was because they were correcting my astigmatism. I was blown away – they said this wasn’t at all uncommon either. There’s a long explanation and it makes sense and if you want to hear it, let me know – otherwise I’ll skip that part and just tell you that once they showed me what my vision would be like with my proper prescription I was amazed.

So anyway – I went in for the surgery on a Wednesday morning. The first thing they did was give me 10 mg of Valium. So thirty minutes later I was feeling pretty good. They did all of the tests again, just to make sure they match the original test and double-check everything. Then they took me in for the surgery. They told me everything they were doing and what I’d be experiencing… and good thing I was nice and stoney on the Valium because otherwise it would have freaked me out! When he cut the flap, everything goes black for a few seconds. Then he peels the flap back and you can only see light and dark. The laser itself was nothing – I wasn’t even sure if it was happening or not. Then suddenly it was over and they were helping me get up.

When I went in the next morning for my follow-up appt, I could read the smallest line on the chart. But the best part was that night – I was AMAZED at my night vision. I grabbed the phone and called J, and then my mom, to brag about how well I could suddenly see. The headlights coming toward me were just lights – no starbursts, no halos, nothing… just plain lights. If you have ever even considered doing it – do it. I couldn’t wear makeup for a week and I couldn’t swim for two weeks. I was back at work the day after surgery. Totally worth it. I also HIGHLY recommend Dr. Pepose. My vision is now 20/12.5 – which means that I can now see at 20 feet what a normal (20/20) person has to move up to 12.5 feet to see.

Second things second - HAWAII!!! WHOO-HOO!!!

Two years ago when J and I decided to buy a new house, we put a moratorium on all travel. We needed to put all of our money and free time into getting the old house ready to put on the market and getting a down-payment together. It sucked. J and I really enjoy travel and we take at least two decent vacations a year – plus a few three or four day weekend trips as well. So going without a vacation for a year and a half just sucked. So I told Jeremy that once we got the house sold, as long as we made enough off the sale, he better get my butt to a beach IMMEDIATELY. So we closed on Dec 23 and booked a Hawaiian vacation two weeks later.

The last week of January was cold and full of freezing rain and snow in St. Louis… but we were on the Big Island where it was 80 degrees and beautiful. We had an amazing trip and will most certainly be back. We saw whales, we toured a coffee plantation (of course), we went to a small town farmer’s market, had open air massages, saw the volcano erupting and lava flow, snorkeled, drank and ate until we thought we would burst… but the most unusual thing we did (and the highlight of the trip for J) was wild boar hunting. Yes, that’s right – we went wild boar hunting on the Big Island of Hawaii. And it was amazing. We both took a boar and by the way, my shot was from 350 yards away, so you can call me Sniper Heather now if you want... as a matter of fact, I may start insisting on it... We brought the meat home with us and it’s still in the freezer, we haven’t done anything with it. I’m a little afraid to use it because I don’t want to ruin it!

Here were are on our lanai. (J loves it when I take pictures of us like this, can't you tell?) We stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village and they were filming "My Antonio" with Antonio Sabato Jr while we were there - it's another VH1 romance reality show... J wanted to heckle the girls while they were filming their "confessionals" but I'm a big meanie and wouldn't let him.

This is the view from our lanai - we could see whales out there all day long. It was amazing. Also - and I know this will impress you all - this is where Dog the Bounty Hunter had his wedding. Clearly we're rolling with the C-listers. Jealous much? The highlight of the trip for J, of course, was our boar hunt. I was really proud of myself though - a 350 yard shot is really freaking hard! We did a guided hunt on Parker Ranch and our guide was Jack Hu. Jack was wonderful and we had a great time. If anybody is interested, we couldn't recommend him more.
Like I said we ate a lot, here's J enjoying a typical Hawaiian breakfast, in this awesome hole-in-the-wall diner we found in Waimea, Hawaiian Style Cafe. He had the Kauna Pork Omelette, and is again very happy to have his picture taken while eating. Heehee - ain't marriage grand? Anyway, it was delicious and we highly recommend it!

We spent a day driving across the island to the Kona side and saw so many beautiful things there's no way I could tell you about all of them. So I'll just hit a few random highlights. Above is a pic of Akaka Falls, the Big Island's most famous waterfall. And for good reason - it was UNBELIEVABLE! I include this because J giggled like school girl every time I said "Akaka Falls". You can figure out why for yourself.

Self portrait from an overlook with Waipio Valley in the background. This was breathtaking. We met a couple from Ballwin (isn't that wild?) at this overlook and they were getting ready to hike down through the valley and to a lookout point on the edge of the mountain on the other side. I totally want to do that next time (J... not so much), or we could hike down and pitch a tent on the beach down there and stay the night (might be able to talk J into that one). Click on the link to learn more, this was an unexpected find for us and one of many things I want to go back and experience more fully.

If you don't want to call me Sniper Heather... Queen of the World would suffice. This is at Laupahoehoe Point.

Still at Laupahoehoe Point Park. The power of the waves here was almost scary. You can't really see me too well - but I'm posing there in front of the waves...

In 1946 a tsunami (triggered by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska) devastated Laupahoehoe and wiped out the village that once stood here. The schoolhouse was torn apart and 20 students and four teachers were killed. This is certainly not a place for swimming or surfing, but it's spectacular.

We went on a whale watching cruise with Captain Dan McSweeney and got to see a lot of humpback whales - you know, the LARGEST mammals on earth! One big huge gigantic humongous whale even swam under our boat and it was a little disconcerting to see. It's really hard to get your head around how big these things are even when you're looking right at them. Captain Dan (makes me think of Forest Gump saying "Lieutenant Dan!" every time I type that) said the pec fin above was about fifteen feet long!

We just happened to be there during birthing season when humpback whales migrate from the waters of Alaska to the waters of Hawaii to give birth and mate. Above is the tail of the same one that was waving it's pec fin at us. Captain Dan said they grow to an average of 45 feet and weight about a ton. We saw lots of mommies and babies.

Another tail pic above. I have a ridiculous amount of pics from this tour, so I'll stop here with the whale pictures, but we saw more than we have pics of - it's just so hard to be aiming at the right place and snap at the right time to get the pics! So...
I'll post this picture from Captain Dan's website. We didn't get to see a full breach like this, so obviously we'll have to go back.

Of course we couldn't go to the Big Island and not visit Volcano National Park. Right now Halema'uma'u is erupting. It began erupting in March of 2008. In order to view the lava flow, you have to hike across a lava field at Kilauea overlook. There you can watch the lava spilling into the ocean. As night nears, people begin to gather to view the lava flow - you can only really see it at night... (I'm in the lower left hand corner of the pic above, tired of waiting and wondering why they don't serve drinks on the lava field...)

During the day, all you can see is this huge plume of steam. But as the sun goes down you can start to see little eruptions of orange lava and the constant orange glow of the lava flowing into the ocean. I've linked to the live webcam...

Getting pictures of the lava splashes after dark was REALLY hard. This is the best we got. Which sucks - I wish I could explain what it was like to see this. But I can't, so I won't even try - but it makes fireworks and lightning storms and even late-eighties Dennis Quaid abs pale in comparison... a few links: a lava explosion movie, another visitor with great pics...

The last time I was there, in the summer of 1989, I had a whole different lava flow experience. The lava flow had just begun to cross the highway, so you could walk right up to the lava flow and take your picture next to it. Just fifteen seconds standing next to the lava flow gave me a "sunburn" on the back of my calves. I don't think they'd let you do this now...

Note: Do NOT make fun of me. It was 1989 for crying out loud, people, I was 17 years old. Have a heart.

So this is how I felt on our last night in Hawaii. I'd had a few martinis. Maybe more than a few martinis. And I really didn't want to go home. J asked what I was most looking forward to about going home... and I couldn't come up with one damned thing. We hung out at Huggo's On the Rocks, had dinner, saw some live music (featuring 2009 Grammy nominated Donald Kaulia and LT Smooth) and watched the sun set over the ocean.

Until we return... and we WILL return, right J?

Baltimore exploration Day 3 - Cupcakes and Oysters and Duck - Oh My!

So... day three... the sun FINALLY came out, so we hopped in the Mustang and put the top down. This day I had J with me to explore the city.

As many of you know, I have a serious Food Network addiction - so I insisted that we start the day with a trip to Charm City Cakes - home to Ace of Cakes, and Duff Goldman. I knew ahead of time that all of the windows would be blacked out and that I wouldn't meet anyone from the show and that it would be rude as hell to knock on the door, so I didn't. But I did make Jeremy take my picture in front of the place!
Then we crossed the street to have lunch at Dizzie Issies - a place that Duff and his friends have mentioned several times on the show as one of their favorite hangouts. It's literally across the street. It's one of those corner bars that typifies everything about a city... except that it no longer exists. It's under new management and is now called The Dizz. Apparently most of the employees remained and the menu is more or less the same, but it's been cleaned up and rennovated to a certain extent. J had a humongous breakfast platter (technically it was breakfast time...) but I had the mussels. Gotta get all the fresh seafood I can while I'm by the sea! It was nice. But not as good as the night before... Jeremy got scrapple with his breakfast, this was the first time either of us had had scrapple - we were both trepedatious, but we liked it!
After lunch we headed to Fell's Point (where we'd hung the night before) to park and hop on the water taxi and make our way around downtown. Above is a crappy shot from my blackberry of Baltimore from the water taxi. Here's a better one: We hopped off in the InnerHarbor and made our way around. We bought a full ticket to the Baltimore Maritime Museum - which is actually three historical ships that you can tour. They were all really cool. The submarine, USS Torsk, kind of freaked me out a little just to imagine living with 100 people underwater in that tiny little thing. Some of it's former crew were on there and told us about life on the sub. I'll pass.
The lightship Chesapeake was my favorite, it's a sailship and was much roomier than you'd expect. They fired the canon while we were aboard. That was cool.
But the USCGC Taney was the most touching to tour. It is the last surviving warship afloat today from the Dec 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. This ship played an important part in WWII and the entire time we were touring it I was thinking of J's grandfather, Sam. Sam was in the Navy during WWII and served on the USS Woolsey as a Fire Controlman 1st Class. Grandpa Sam has some amazing stories about his time in the Navy. A lot of them are funny and a lot of them bring tears to my eyes - but all of them are amazing. Some day, if it's okay with Sam, I'll have to tell some of his stories on here. But I digress... touring the USCGC Taney made me think of what it must have been like for Sam to be a young man on that ship for so long. He was in Europe most of the time, if I recall correctly, and the USS Woolsey made all of the invasions in Europe except Normandy. There's a great story involving Canne, France I'll have to ouch on another time...
And in the middle of hopping on and off boats, imagine my surprise and joy to discover the Perfect Cupcakes van! For those of you who haven't heard of Perfect Cupcakes in Baltimore - and if you're not a dorky food blog reading foodie you probably haven't - let me fill you in. A cute little truck parks in downtown Baltimore and sells yummy delicious cupcakes out of the back. What an AWESOME idea, huh??? Straight from the why-in-the-hell-didn't-I-think-of-that file.
J is really weird sometimes, so he didn't want a cupcake. I'm not really sure exactly when I wouldn't want a cupcake. Maybe if I were bleeding to death and in a lot of pain from a gunshot wound... but then it might cheer me up so I'd want one. Or maybe if I were all gross and sweaty and dehydrated and exhausted in mile 10 of a 12 mile marathon... but then the sugar would give me a boost of energy so I'd want one. Well maybe if I were totally full of delicious seafood and tasty cocktails from a delicious lunch at The Dizz... no, I still wanted one. Yeah - I don't know what's wrong with J. Anytime is the perfect time for a Perfect Cupakes cupcake. (They didn't pay me for this, but I'm going to tell them they should!)
She had dark chocolate cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, and vanilla cupcakes. I was really torn between the dark chocolate (because HELLO... dark chocolate is only the best thing ever of all time ever) and the lemon cupcake because it just sounded really refreshing (if a cupcake can be refreshing). So I asked for the Perfect Cupcakes girl's advice and she steered me toward the lemon. And I took her advice.
I'd already taken a bite before it dawned on me that I should take a pic of my perfect cupcake, and I should take it with the cute little truck in the background. So I did. I should totally quit my job and become a photographer for Time Magazine, huh? And that's also the USS Taney in the background, by the way. This was after we toured it. It was cool - but not as cool as my lemon cupcake.
So after a day of walking and boating and eating... it was time to eat! We headed back to Fell's Point on the water taxi and went in search of dinner. There were a lot of wonderful choices - Fell's Point is full of bars and restaurants and shops and I LOVE IT. By the way, I also saw The Horse You Came In On Saloon - the bar outside of which Edgar Allan Poe reportedly died.

We decided on Kali's Mezze. They had great outdoor seating where we could see the bay, we could people watch and the food looked yummy. And it was. Clockwise from left we had duck confit with mashed potatoes, baby lamb chops, beef and lamb meatballs and fried oysters. And wine and beer (duh). Again our food was wonderful.
Believe it or not - that was a late lunch/early dinner because we had to change our flight and head home earlier than we'd planned to. Why did we have to do that, you might ask... Because my best friend, Mary Beth, was FINALLY going to the hospital to have her baby girl - two and a half weeks late! She'd asked me to be there and there was no way I was going to miss it - even for some of the best fried oysters (outside of New Orleans, of course) in the world!

More on the birth of Miss Ryan Elizabeth Neukomm to follow...

Friday, June 05, 2009

Baltimore exploration, Day 2 - I'm stupid

I am just a remarkably stupid woman sometimes. Thursday was one of those times. I decided Thursday would be the Walters Art Museum, but I took my time getting my butt in gear and only gave myself a couple of hours for the museum and lunch. Which means I seriously underestimated Walters Art Museum. In spite of the fact that each and every thing I read about started with people saying "Wow - I seriously underestimated Walters Art Museum."

I headed downtown, (in the rain of course - seriously does the sun never freaking shine here?!?) a little after noon. Found it with no problem... But finding a parking spot was a whole 'nother matter. Found one just a couple of blocks away, but then I couldn't get the stupid park and pay kiosk to take my credit card. So there I stand, juggling my umbrella, my purse and my credit card... Obviously not having fun yet. But then a really nice older lady stopped (holding up traffic), rolled down her window (in the rain, mind you) and offered me her ticket that still had two hours left on it. Very sweet. Charm City indeed! Believe in the kindness of strangers, folks, it's still out there!

Hoofed it to the museum and went in. The museum is right by the original Washington Monument on Mount Vernon Square. Had to snap a pic, of course.

So on to the museum... when I looked at the floor plan I was a little overwhelmed and had my first twinge of "oops". And then I walked in and began to wander from room to room.
Words fail me. I love words, I'm a writer, I love to write and I feel that I excel in communication via the written word... Yet words fail me. There is just no way to describe how wonderfully full and varied this collection is.

I was just completely overwhelmed and taken aback at what I saw. And as much as I was enjoying it (and honestly I was on the verge of tears at times), the joy and admiration was mixed with disgust and utter disappointment in myself. I'd really cheated myself here. It's like seeing a large bar of the deepest richest chocolate and walking away with a shaving of it. When you finally take that taste you immediately regret that you didn't take more!

This is a must-see and I'm going to have to make sure that I revisit, giving myself an entire afternoon to explore and enjoy it appropriately.

I hit the special exhibit "Mummified" first and was immediately introduced to Mery. Mery is the Walters' mummy. Also on display is the "virtual autopsy" they did on her recently. It is really fascinating and a little bit creepy. Mery was probably about 60 when she died (very old for her times, around 850 B.C.) and had 16 abscesses - ouch! Which may be what killed. I feel a special kinship with Mery, at approx 57 " she is considered quite diminuitive and was too short for her sarcophagus. So short folks are always getting screwed! I feel ya, Mery.

This picture illustrates just how much there was to see. Every time I entered another room there was just so much to see! This is the room of natural wonders - lots of dead things. I told J he would enjoy this room.
George is here. Handome as ever. This iconic portrait (it's the one that was copied for the one dollar bill, y'all) is one of the must-see pieces at the Walters.

I had a hard time getting a good picture (especially since I was using my Blackberry - too lazy to haul J's big old camera with me), but this incredibly ornate altarspiece depecting The Passion of Christ is totally freaking amazing. Gorgeous. It's from the 1490s and each of the seven scenes are carved from a single block of wood.
Long before I was done and to my frustration (as I've described in ridiculously whiny detail above) it was time to leave the museum. I hadn't really left myself enough time for lunch, but on the walk back to my car, past several lovely shops, I spied Joss Cafe and Sushi Bar with it's bar at the window and couldn't resist... So lunch was tonkatsu and a glass of Toasted Head chardonnay. Mmmm, chardonnay. As I was leaving I saw this piece of paper in the window:

Turns out Joss's is also a favorite of local celebrity, Duff Goldman, from Food Network's Ace of Cakes! I LOVE DUFF! So anyway, since Duff loves Joss's, they're going to be featured on Food Network's new show, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" in a couple of weeks on the "Fried" episode - he likes their fried shrimp heads. So yeah... I didn't try those. But my waitress was one of the girls he filmed with when they filmed the show there (that's her on the far right), so maybe she'll get her fifteen minutes of fame...

Anyway, this is all about me, not her - let's move on.

So I finished up my lunch (it was good but not Gertrude's fried oysters good but that's probably because fried oysters are better than pork all day every day), and headed back out to the burbs to pick Jeremy up from training.

For dinner we met up with a friend of his from high school and her boyfriend that live here in Baltimore. They took us to Bertha's for mussels. Good freakin call. The mussels were DELICIOUS. We ordered a plate for the table to share as an appetizer and I should have canceled my crabcake order and just had another plate of mussels for dinner. Honestly - these were great, tender and juicy and briny.

Note the martini shaker in the left edge of the picture. The waitress couldn't find a martini glass big enough for the dirty martini she made me - so she brought me the whole thing. Yeah... Bertha's was a good choice. I should have gotten a t-shirt...

So anyway - that was Friday. Now I'm going to wake J up and we'll head back into Baltimore for a little more sightseeing before we have to head home.

Awww... you guys missed me? Right now I'm in BALTIMORE!

So, I’ve had quite a few complaints about not updating the blog in the last six months or so. I got busy moving, setting up a new household, discovered FaceBook (oh my good golly Molly, that thing is addictive) and just stopped updating it. But I’ve officially had enough complaints and threats that I’m back! I was even offered a bribe... (I'll be calling to collect, you-know-who-you-are).

I'll dive right back in with what I'm doing right now (because it's interesting), and then follow up in the next few days with a quick update on my life and what's been going on for the last few months. And probably a rant or two thrown in for good measure - how could I hold my tongue and not tell you exactly what I think of the incredible hypocrisy of the asshole/anti-Semetic/sexist/adulterous Mel Gibson... again.

So right now I'm in Baltimore, MD. I'm tagging along on a business trip with J. And it rocks! After a good ten years of business travel (most of it really boring and stressful), I finally get to be the one that gets to tag along and spend my days exploring. We flew in late Tuesday night and found that the car we'd reserved wasn't available. Immediately the scene from Seinfeld starts playing in my head, "Anybody can TAKE a reservation, it's HOLDING the reservation that's important." But before I could even complain, they upgraded us to a 2010 Mustang convertible. Awesome! Except it hasn't stopped raining since we got here. Heehee.

Anyway.... J is in training during the days so I have the days to myself to do the stuff he wouldn't want to do with me anyway. Wednesday I dropped him off, headed back to hotel to work out (good Heather) and then hit the shops. Spent the day shopping and got a mani/pedi. Total girl day. ATI (the company J is here to train with) took all the owners and spouses out to dinner that night. We went to the Rusty Scupper on the Inner Harbor. Had the crab cakes - because you HAVE to - and they were wonderful. So was the Toasted Head chardonnay (my favorite familiar fallback white). But the best part was that this place has the best view of the Inner Harbor - spectacular view of the Bay and the entire area from the top floor, where we were. Great start to the trip.

Thursday was awesome. Starbucks, workout and then headed into downtown Baltimore. Started the day at the Baltimore Museum of Art as soon as they opened. I love museums and taking my time strolling through them... if J were with me it would have been a fight to get him to go and after about twenty minutes the questions would have started - "Are you ready?", "About done?", "What time is it?", "I'll just meet you at the car..."

So since I had the day to myself, I spent a leisurely three hours exploring the museum. As you would expect in Baltimore, they have a very large collection of colonial era artwork, silver, etc. I saw the original trophy used for the Preakness and it was just gorgeous. But I couldn't get a decent picture of it - they ask that you don't use a flash, and the lighting just wasn't working when I tried to get a pic of the big beautiful ornate trophy. So... use your imagination and be impressed.

They also had a beautiful collection of 5th century Antioch Mosaics - from an excavation of the ancient city of Antioch (known today as Antakya in southeastern Turkey near Syria). Just amazing. This one of Oceanus and Tethys resembles J and I in the mornings...

Of course, Rodin's "The Thinker"...

They have a large collection of Matisse. Above is his "Interior with Dog". They had a lot of his sculptures, painting and drawing. I've always really enjoyed Matisse so it was a special treat to see this. They also had a lot of Monet's works, Andy Warhol and plenty other famous pieces you'd recognize. But a lot of other wonderful unfamiliar works. I really enjoyed the day.

By the time I'd explored the entire museum I'd worked up a nice little appetite. My Starbucks venti skinny caramel latte was a distant memory, so I headed to Gertrude's. Gertrude's is John Shields' restaurant located right there in the museum. My fellow foodies will recognize his name, for those of you who aren't huge foodie dorks, John Shields is a Baltimore based celebrity chef (think Emeril, but he just hasn't hit it that big yet) - he's big in Chesapeake Bay regional cooking (duh), as well as the slow food and local food movements. ANYWAY... I was excited when I found out Gertrude's was at the BMA and even more excited when they said they could seat me at the bar without a reservation. It's not a particularly cheap place to eat (and I was surrounded by folks who don't care about the price)... so I had a small lunch. But I had to splurge. I had the small plate of single-fry fried oysters (ersters to the locals) and a nice glass of Chardonnay. Followed up by about half of a piece of chocolate bourbon pecan pie.

Enjoyed my lunch chatting with the bartender, she is working her way through college with an art history major; the older gentleman to my right, he works a few blocks away and loves the crab soup at Gertrude's and eats there almost every day; and the young college student to my left, he's broke but wanted to splurge at Gertrude's and enjoy the museum (also an art history major and he ordered the same thing I did).

All in all, it was an awesome day exploring a little corner of Baltimore alone. Picked J up from training and we headed to Rams Head Tavern for dinner. It's only about three minutes from where J's training. They were having a new beer launch from Fordham Brewing Company (Maryland's original brewery), so it was busy but it was still delicious. Jeremy had the shrimp salad sandwich and I had the crab bake. And of course he tried the new beer - New World Wheat Hefeweizen - which was REALLY good. I had a peartini which was... eh. But the dirty martini after that was delicious, as always. I don't know why I'm always trying a sweet drink just to decide, once again, that I don't like sweet drinks and settling back into my usual dirty martini. Duh.

Tonight we're meeting a couple of J's friends from high school for drinks and dinner. Hopefully I'll be cracking some crabs tonight. Now it's time to hit the shower and head back downtown for a little independant exploration...