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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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January 18, 2015

I'm still alive...

but for the last two weeks or so I've wondered how long that was going to last.  I had a wonderful trip to and visit with my kids and grandchildren over Christmas and the new year (more about that in a bit).  Went over on 12/15 and came back on 1/4 (I think that's right).  Driving home I thought "uh oh, I think I'm getting a sore throat" and, sure enough, Sunday I woke up feeling pretty awful and got "awfuler" with each passing day.  I suppose it was just a cold and maybe it hit me so hard because I had been so busy with visiting, running around, etc.  Anyway, it is now January 18 and, aside from still coughing and doing a fair amount of nose blowing, I'm feeling much, much better.  I did manage to get myself unpacked eventually but things are still kind of "unsettled" somehow.

But on to Christmas!

Here we are Christmas Eve at January and Maggie's home where I am always so happy to see the tree.  It was my tree and the Chris had it for several years and now January has it and I don't know about them but I love this tree.  And January has a lot of ornaments I recognize on it and that's nice too.  She, as usual, made us a very nice dinner and Chris and I supplied the wine so we didn't have to feel guilty about indulging. :)  We spent the night there, had a delicious breakfast with LOTS of bacon(!), opened our presents to each other and eventually headed up to Heather's home to have our Christmas with her, Alex and Johnny and Sophia. 

Prior to all this, I had been staying at Chris's apartment because the first thing that happened was him taking me to see the Washington Ballet perform the Nutcracker.  It was beautiful - the costumes and the scenery were just right and, of course, the music is wonderful.

At Heather's we decided she should take it easy and just have chili or something for dinner.  That was fine with her because she had been insanely busy with her work, had been doing on-line Christmas shopping until I think about two days before Christmas, then had all the wrapping and so on.  I don't really know how she keeps up with it.  She made her chicken chili and it was just delicious.  At some point during my visit (the others went back to their homes Friday - I stayed til Saturday evening - she had a hair appointment in Ellicott City and suggested I meet her there when she was done and we'd have a nice lunch at a nice French restaurant there.  So we did and  that's always very pleasant.  Actually, I just remembered that wasn't Christmas weekend - it was the weekend before.  I drove back and forth from all the kids a lot and began to lose track of when I was where.

Chris and I repeated last year's fantastic New Year's Eve dinner at Jaleo's and it was fantastic this year too.  We started out with the sort of appetizer-type small plates and had at least one of almost all of them.  Then we turned the menu over and started in on the more "entree" type small plates - meats, mostly hot food, shrimp, fish, rice, etc., so much more filling.  I very quickly reached my limit and realized that I didn't make the best choices.  There were a number of those entree small plates that would have been a whole lot less filling than what we ended up with.  But it was all just such fun having such a feast along with a full carafe of sangria.  We managed to be there for three hours and when we got back to the apartment, it was only about another 15 minutes til midnight, so we were quite please with ourselves.

Oh, and here's an exciting picture from my drive over to Virginia.  This was at a station on I-81 that always has the lowest gas price of any of the exits and I figured I'd better take a picture for posterity.  And then yesterday I filled up here in WV (always higher than Virginia) and had to take the second picture.

W                  
    O
        O
            H
                O
                   O
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
So,  the rest of my report isn't too inspiring since I felt so awful for such a long time.  But I had to feed myself, etc., so got myself to the grocery store and ate soup and sandwiches the first few days.  At some point though I got a sudden craving for waffles (and I can't think what prompted it) and was pretty sure that I still had my little waffle iron.  Looked in a never-used cupboard and there it was so I fried up some bacon and had homemade waffles which I absolutely smothered in syrup and oh my, it was so good!!

Then I think it was the next night I decided to make a batch of potato soup and even took a picture of it to put with the recipe on my recipe page.  It was as tasty as always but I'm put out with the brand of chicken stock I've always used.  It has quite an orange color now and so my potato soup ends up fairly yellow looking - not as yellow as the left side of the picture - probably more like the right side - but it bugs me.  But I had a little left-over bacon so sprinkled that on and oh boy, that hit the spot too. And this past week I also got a pot roast made and have had chili now two nights in a row.  I do love that chili!  And my last visit to the grocery, I noticed the cabbage and thought "gee I haven't had a baked potato with cooked cabbage on top forever".  I can't say that now cause I made it a couple of nights ago.  All this eating is because of the "feed a cold - starve a fever" rule.  Normally, I would never eat so much...NOT!

 And a few days ago, I decided to make my second visit to Mulberry Street (I think I wrote about them before they opened) and this time I just got a bowl of their Italian chicken soup and I tell you, it was the best chicken soup I've ever eaten.  I did a review of their place on Trip Advisor after my first visit and I need to go back and rave about their soup now.

And as long as we're on the topic of food (which I usually am, right?), I am happy to announce that The Cellar Door has opened (while I was gone, darn it!) and though I haven't been yet, I've heard good things about it and am probably going to try it this coming week.  This is a small plates type place in the basement of The Bistro restaurant which I've talked about before.  I want to go with friends at some point because we could share a bunch of plates that way, but I'll go by myself too and probably just get a couple.  Can't wait to see it all finished and will try and get a couple of pictures.  I got a tour back in November and the owner showed me pictures of a couple of the overstuffed easy chairs they're using and I think it must all be pretty fabulous.

I've about worn myself out with this and have worked up an appetite too so I'm going to sign off.  I've been thinking about travel and was going to post some about my thoughts, but that will have to wait for the next time.



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