Categories
Brussels, Belgium

Bachan in Brussels

Our first day in Brussels was grey and bright. It was a day for exploring some of the beautiful sights of the city, walking block to block peeking down the small alleys, and catching the art that wraps along the city walls.

The Grand Place was the first place that I wanted to highlight for my mom. It was easy to walk to from the station, and around the corner from our accommodation: the Gallerie of Nail Salons (not the official name, but 99.9% of the shops in this small mall were nail shops, and our flat was right above them).

We walked to Saint Catherine Square, an area that used to have a canal, and that is known for its seafood. There were enticing were fish shops selling fresh smorreboard toasts and soups in outdoor tents, but it was too chilly to have Saya sit in her pram while we munched. We were drawn into Monk. The front section is just for pints and wine, but the small back ‘buffet’ room does one dish for lunch: spaghetti. You select your meal in three parts: 1) sauce, 2) size of bowl, 3) cheese. I got the basic bolognese, regular-sized bowl, with parmigiano. Bachan went for the special bolognese. We wouldn’t have known the difference in the sauce except that the server highlighted/warned us about the special sauce since she knew Americans don’t traditionally eat horse. My mom’s conclusion was that eating horse sounded more intense than the flavor itself. Ultimately, we were happy to be in a place that did one dish, and one dish very well.

Saya was still asleep in her pram after lunch. I wanted to walk around for another ten minutes to round her nap to a full hour before heading into the Bozar Art Centre. Our additional ten minute walk took us to Mont des Arts- an unexpected gem! We found the garden, the look out, the graffiti art, and a gentleman playing an acoustic guitar such a surprise. We felt smitten that we’d come upon the space by accident.

The Bozar Art Centre was buzzing. Students were milling about and studying Keith Haring, while the staff were briskly setting up a variety of evening events. It felt similar to the Barbican centre in London with a lot going on at the same time. Saya slept the entire time so we wandered through the exhibit as well as the gift shop.

We ate at Taverne du Passage for dinner, a recommendation from my friend Marta. It’s a cosy brasserie inside a luxury gallerie hall. The stick-to-your-ribs chicken stew was a great order, and Saya enjoyed the buttered bread, and salmon from Bachan’s plate. We capped off the evening with a Belgian waffle covered in Nutella and dark chocolate. It was a wonderful start to our 48 hour trip.

On Wednesday, we had a usual morning with Saya: early wake up, breakfast, playing, and nap. We planned our daily itinerary during her nap so we knew the first stop of the day would be the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. It resides in a Victor Horta building that was originally a clothing manufacturing warehouse for its first seventy years. From 1980-1989, it was reinvented into the comic strip centre, giving life to the art nouveau staircases, sprials, and stained glass. While the comics were artistically impressive and unique, it was a bit too complex for Saya, so we made our own fun out of the extra large puzzles on the second floor. (The only element to avoid is the horrible lunch in the museum cafe. Looks are unfortunately deceiving with this one.)

With Saya sleeping in the pram, we took the opportunity to shop at Melting Pot Kilo, a vintage-type store where you pay 15 euro for every kilo of clothing you purchase. My mom’s wool fisherman sweater and my scarves “weighed” about 9 euro. My mom also caught a local art show where creatives molded and shaped various natural objects like bone, stone, and fish scales.

We found seats that Delirium cafe for a taste of Floris Wit, the Campus Lager, a Guillotine brew, and the original Delirium Tremens. I wanted my mom to experience a variety of flavors since the Delirium campus holds the Guinness World Record of over 2000 beers in one pub. Saya enjoyed the atmosphere of beer banners and coasters, and my mom sipped until her cheeks turned rosy.

We returned to St Catherine’s Square with the expectation of a fish dinner, but the first restaurant was too noisy, the second was closed, and the third….well, we found Les Filles, and that made us forget about a fish dinner. Finding the restaurant is like searching for a speakeasy, and once buzzed upstairs, you are welcomed into a toasty dining room that feels like your family friend has cooked you a holiday meal. There are three dutch ovens steaming with treasures within. I selected a vegetarian option, while my mom went for the roasted chicken tagine. The middle pot has a side dish that complements both menus. You serve yourself what you want, when you want. Saya ate some pumpkin and mashed potatoes before she started throwing food on the ground. I embarrassingly brought out a pre-made food pouch to quell her enthusiasm. The dessert area was equal to the mains, and my favorite was the homemade vanilla yogurt that accompanied the fruit tarts.

Our final day was a rainy one. We created an itinerary that included sites as well as a tick list of Belgian foods: frites, chocolate, beer, waffles and mussels (which we had to avoid in case my mom was allergic). The chocolate was the only thing left on our list! I had a plan.

The Musée des Instruments de Musique featured so many instruments, all shapes and sizes, and various materials. It was the first time I noted how horns have so many metal loops and swirls, and how recorders are an instrument of the ages. We bought Saya a musical shaker that she rattled throughout the first floor, drawing smiles from the other guests.

Le Perroquet is an institution for pitas. The biblical menu is accompanied by a separate card with English, Spanish and Dutch translations. Being overwhelmed with options, I opted for the restaurant’s namesake pita and was not disappointed.

Saya’s afternoon nap for Saya meant it was time for chocolate wandering/tasting. We hit up Wittamer, Corne Port-Royal, Pierre Marcolini, and Neuhaus. Pierre Marcolini was the tastiest, and Wittamer was a close second. But as a new mom, I’d say all chocolate tastes more delicious when your baby is sleeping through your chocolate treasure hunt!

Our Eurostar was on time, and Saya tuckered herself out climbing up and down on the tray table for half of the trip. Corey gave us a warm welcome with a Zaffrani dinner when we arrived home from our delightful trip to Brussels.

Quick links:

Restaurants:

Les Filles – best dinner we had, and we hear there host a great brunch as well

Monk– if you like spaghetti, head here for lunch

Le Perroquet– an institution…and the pitas are great, too

Taverne du Passage– Belgian food brasserie

Sites:

Bozar Centre

Mont Des Arts

Belgium Comic Strip Centre

Musée des Instruments de Musique

Grand Place

Categories
Amsterdam, Netherlands London, England

Bachan’s Amsterdam: In Art We Trust

I get my fill of art when Bachan visits London. I see her energized by our ventures to local and major art exhibitions. Her preference is modern art, but she’ll muse over the masters, too. For her annual October visit, we started at the Barbican for their Cabaret exhibit, and then had afternoon tea in their conservatory. On a rainy Sunday, we trekked out to a craft fair featuring Japanese Shibori and textiles. The artist in my mom was even enthused when we selected a handful of house plants to decorate our flat.

I sandwich in a now-customary mini vacation during her visits to London. I knew I had to perfect place to feed her artistic imagination. Amsterdam boasts a MuseumKwartier that could fill at least a week of museum wanderlust. We stayed across the street from the quad so we could walk over whenever suited.

We arrived on the Eurostar and ate lunch at Foodhallen. It’s an easy space for groups to find a meal, and it’s situated in the same building as an up and coming artist shop. The shop features a tattoo parlor for store bought items. You ‘tattoo’ directly onto the cover of a journal, mug, glasses case, t-shirt, etc. We skipped the ‘ink’ but it’s an idea I hadn’t seen before. We spent the remainder of the afternoon walking the canal rings to give my mom a sense of the city, and to give her some practice crossing the streets between the infamous bike and tram lanes.

For me, the first sight to see has to be the Anne Frank House. I always book tickets for the first entry in the morning to see the space as empty as possible. My mom admitted she wasn’t sure she wanted to start the trip with such a heartbreaking exhibit but was ultimately glad she did. Saya also did very well in the small and narrow annex.

From the Anne Frank House, you can wander the nine streets, and take yourself to stroopwaffles at Lanskroon bakery. I led us towards the sandwich place that Ev suggested to get burgers, but we were distracted by the line outside the soup place across the street: Soup en Zo – Spiegel. It was a better lunch option as my mom was beginning to feel a bit under the weather. We took our soups back to our hotel and had a much a needed siesta.

That Moco Museum was the perfect sized space for an afternoon visit. The museum is dedicated to Banksy, Kusama, and other modern artists who are becoming icons in their own right. The elements of social justice intertwined with cartoons and sculpture made use giddy to discuss the artists long after we left the exhibit.

De Pijp neighborhood is on the other side of the MuseumKwartier but I can see how tourists miss heading in that direction because they’re pulled back into the canal rings. I’m glad we ventured out to find a local spot called The Seafood Bar. It was a relaxing space for an early dinner, nothing frilly, and just basic good eats. Saya was even lulled to sleep in the chill atmosphere!

It’s pretty clear that my mom was under the weather on our last full day in Amsterdam. We took it easy and only went to the largest museum in Amsterdam: The Rijksmusem!? I booked a tour so that we could see one section of the museum comparing Rembrandt and Velazquez. This was my plot so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed like my previous self in the Prado and the Lourve. We took a rainy walk back to De Pijp to have an early dinner at the Spaghetteria before tucking ourselves into bed.

On the final morning, we hit the Stedelijk Museum for modern Japanese poster art. As we waited for the museum to open, a small boy took an interest in Saya and kept poking his head into the pram. This entertained us until we were able to enter the museum. The posters were fun, and some we connected with right away: like the one with all the tree kanji creating a ‘forest’, or the global warming poster with a giraffe and the continents as her spots. We wanted to spend more time here but had to catch the Eurostar back to London in the early afternoon.

Though we know that Saya is Bachan’s muse when she visits London, the museums of Amsterdam didn’t hurt one bit when it came to a little inspiration. My mom will tuck away these moments of inspiration to feature later in a new block print, a New Years poem, or a fun outfit for Saya when she returns next.

Links:

FoodHallen

Anne Frank House

Lanskroon bakery for stroopwaffles

Soup en Zo – Spiegel for soups, salads, and breads

The 9 Streets for window (or real) shopping

De Pijp neighborhood for The Seafood Bar or Spaghetteria

Categories
Paris, France

48 Hour French Holiday

I couldn’t help it. I tried to get in as much traveling as I could before Saya’s arrival.  I was trying to do as much of me as possible before being me plus one.  After returning from Spain, I had booked a trip the France the following weekend.  On Friday, the only thing I had scheduled in Paris was lunch with Sam’s best friend, Magou.  Corey would arrive on Saturday and we’d celebrate Anson’s birthday before making our way out to visit the Madamas.  Until then, I had the rest of the day as a mini-vacation for me, myself, and I.

The line for Boullion Pigalle was down the block so I knew that Magou had picked a good spot.  She let me know that Balla and his partner, Aurelie, would join as well.  It felt good to be meeting with Sam’s best childhood friends, even without her there.  We have an automatic bond together because she connects us.  Little did I know that Sam booked to stay an extra day in Paris to surprise me at lunch!  We had the best time laughing over my reaction, and we celebrated Aurelie and me since we were both expecting babies in the coming months.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_34c8

I said goodbye as Sam had to go back to London that afternoon, and Aurelie and Magou were also surprising Sam by showing up in London on a later train that same day!  I spent my time in one of Tracy and Andrae’s favourite museums: Musee du Quai Branly.  It features indigenous art from around the world, and the feature exhibition was on Japanese bamboo.

I had dinner at Poussin, a buzzing wine bar with charcuterie that I couldn’t eat. I enjoyed the root vegetable small plate with burnt beets, and vegetable juice.  The staff took care of me seeing I was pregnant and toasted to me with their wine and my juice.  Very sweet.  I relaxed that evening with a face mask from Sam.

Saturday:  Bread in France is just better than anywhere else that I’ve travelled. A simple baguette with butter was bliss for breakfast.  I picked up Corey at the Gard du Nord station with an additional pan chocolate, and we hit up Rue Cler Market to celebrate Anson.  It was pretty serendipitous that he had about eight people all in Paris at the same time even though we were scattered throughout the States, London, and even Japan!

After lunch, Corey and I caught an hour train to meet the Madamas.  It was family time for the rest of the weekend.  We toured their neighborhood and a nearby castle in St Germaine.

The one small glitch was that the Eurostar workers were going on strike the next day so we scrambled to get train seats on the earliest morning train to London on Sunday.  This would cut out a significant portion of this trip.  This also meant that Jean-Medard and Sophie would drive us all the way back to Paris (on Saturday still) to get our pram at Chantelle’s house (Sam’s mom)?! I guess it was meant to be that Sam’s mom was meant to meet the Madamas.  More family meeting with family is good for us!

After a huge NY-themed pizza dinner, with jokes and the best pear sorbet I’ve every had, Doreen-Pascal, Corey, and Jean-Medard figured out how to assemble Baby Spells’ new gear.  Two of the three were sampling home-made rum as well so it was a night of laughter for sure.

It was a very early departure Sunday morning so that we could get back to London.  Doreen-Pascal was so sweet and woke up to say goodbyes at 4 am.  We hugged promising we’d have Eurostar tickets in our pockets very soon once Baby Spells arrived.

Categories
Almhult, Sweden Copenhagen, Denmark London, England

LonSum 2.0 Aug: Tutoring Teachers & Away to Almhult, Sweden

I should mention that the past events in June and July have occurred in the summer season, but with my new job, this means that summer isn’t really a time for full-on vacation.  It’s actually the busiest time of the year for teacher trainers because we are welcoming in new cohorts of trainees to summer school.


Ark summer school took over my first three weeks of August.  I had serious nerves around memorising over fifty hours of content, and holding all the Ark requirements in my head, but these melted away when I met my new teachers.  I ran my sessions like a mini-classroom, with my new teachers as my pupils.  Of course, the ‘classroom element’ was to highlight best practice, but it felt natural to slip in and out of my ‘teacher hat’ and my ‘tutor hat’.  Building in time for ‘parking lot’ questions, pushing rounds of practice with Teach Like A Champion techniques, and concluding daily sessions with shoutouts and ‘cleaner than you found it’ meant that I could bring my Infinity love across the pond to London teachers.  For data protection reasons, I will avoid posting pictures of our training sessions but I’m proud that I had such positive feedback from my trainees after each week.


After completing the first week of summer school,  I wanted a break from all things teacher training.  The ‘On the Wall’ exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery was the remedy I sought.  It’s a strong collection commissioned for or inspired by the King himself.  Not surprisingly, my favorite piece was by Kehinde Wiley, who captured MJ in all his majesty (see final pic below).


Fast forward to the three day bank holiday that punctuated the final weekend in August.  With summer school said and done, and the final admin bits sorted, I ventured to Almhult, Sweden (pronounced Elm-hult) to visit my cousin, Kelly, and her clan.  The easiest way to travel to Almhult is via the Copenhagen airport, and then riding a two hour train.  Though the welcome into Copenhagen was a bit rocky with the train lines down, after numerous transfers, the weekend in Almhult was such an escape from central London!

My Aunt Sue and Uncle Ken were visiting Kelly, Brian, Finley, and Polly from San Diego, and my weekend trip overlapped with theirs for about 36 hours.  So fun to catch up with two sets of McKelloggs at the same time!  Sue and Ken travel all over the globe, and had just stopped in from Berlin and Copenhagen before making their way to Rotterdam for Aunt Sue’s conference.  It was also the end of a big week of stories for the Swaine family with Finley’s first week of school, with putting down their beloved pup, Poppy, and with Kelly and Brian’s 12 year anniversary on that Sunday.

On Saturday morning, Kelly and Brian were wizards at whisking kids and guests around with only one vehicle.  Brian and Finley took the car to basketball clinic, while Kelly (and Polly) led us on a walking tour of the town center, flea market, and spirits store (government owned and only open for a few hours on Saturday – like in Oslo).

We reunited at a cafe where Finley ate a pesto chicken sandwich about half his height, and where the adults fueled up on coffee and chai lattes.  The plan was to meet at home for more sandwiches (and Polly’s nap) before the next round of activities.IMG_3244

That afternoon, Kelly and Finley first drove us to the tubby slides, and around outer Almhult to see the kids’ schools, IKEA offices, and the lake where they’d spent a lot of time this summer.

Then, Brian and Finley rode bikes to see Hotel Transylvania 3 while Sue, Ken, Polly, Kelly and I drove to the Ikea museum.

A very quick bit about what I learned at the museum:  Prior to the 1930s, Sweden’s reputation was that is was a dirty place where citizens needed improved hygiene and more rationally constructed homes.  The Social Democratic government had a plan to enlighten citizens and build ‘The people’s home’.  In less than 50 years, Sweden went from being poor and isolated to a strong, egalitarian society with better living conditions and broad social reforms for all.

IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad (founder) Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (founder’s hometown).  Ingvar’s first profits were from selling matchboxes at age 6.  He started his first business, IKEA, in 1943.  He passed away this year, in January of 2018.  He said the only way he’d have a picture of himself posted in the museum was if it was made up of all the workers and staff of his company.

The current exhibition was called “Hacked” and featured Ikea products that had been transformed into art, and other non-household items.

We had too much fun posing for the ‘front cover’ of the upcoming Ikea catalog towards closing time.  But it’s also worth a mention that throughout the entire museum visit, Polly would sporadically shout ‘meatballs!’ letting us know the grand finale would actually be a dinner in the Ikea cafe with your pick of traditional Swedish, chicken, Greek, Italian, or salmon meatballs.

We said our goodbyes early on Sunday morning as Sue and Ken left to catch their flight to The Netherlands.  Finley colored some anniversary gift pictures for his parents, while Kelly and Brian plotted a day trip out to Tylosand, a new town not yet explored.

The drive was green- through a mix of countryside and cows to tall wooden groves.  Brian shared that about 70% of Sweden is still wild and natural.  We arrived at a crisp and windy beach but with the sun shining, it was perfect for collecting shells.  We also walked a wooded path right between the great vacation homes and the towering sand dunes.

Time for Indian-inspired lunch at a nearby village.  There was no one else in the restaurant, or basically in the shopping area, so we took over the fountain and zocalo before heading to Pippi Longstocking park!

I didn’t think the day’s activities could get any better and then Kelly remembered this picturesque-home-turned-bakery-cafe would be open on Sunday afternoon.  The husband works at the Ikea museum during the week, while his wife does the ordering and upkeep on their site.  After baking all day on Saturday, they only open on Sundays, and how magical it was.  Having a fika, or coffee break with pastries, on the lawn while the kids played was out of a postcard or movie or magazine–something quaint and whimsical.  The cardamom-infused cinnamon rolls are the best I’ve had in Scandinavia!  I felt a tinge of being fifth-wheel awkward as it was Kelly and Brian’s 12th anniversary afternoon, and with the sunlight hitting their kiddos just so, maybe they’d want to be on their own for an hour.  But Kelly reassured me that after so many years together, something so simple and sweet is enough to celebrate, especially with your long-lost cousin helping to make the memory.


After such a sweet final Sunday, I dropped Finley and Polly at school Monday morning before Brian drove me to the train station. I spent the rainy day on my own in Copenhagen, wandering the streets to find a cafe with some time for journaling about my trip.

I also attempted to find the Fredericksburg Palace, which ended up being incredibly anti-climatic as it looked more like a hotel atop a hill than a grand palace.  The gardens surrounding were beautiful though, even as the rain came down harder.

I made the decision to head to the airport early to get warm and dry before my flight, and it didn’t hurt that they have a slew of shops to keep me busy for an extra hour.  A bank holiday well spent (and this guy got the bonus cardamom-infused cinnamon pastry from the little bakery in Sweden when he returned back to London after his weeklong work trip to the States).

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Categories
Broadstairs, England New York City, USA Quantico, USA Washington, DC

LonSum 2.0 July: Summertime Magic

“You are my only one| Just dancin’, havin’ fun | Out in the shinin’ sun of the summer|
Of the summer….” –Childish Gambino, July 2018


This month filled my cup, both literally and lovingly, with friends and family and football.  The World Cup brought so much energy to each day with football comin’ home, as the Brits sang night after night throughout the tournament.  And flying to the east coast again meant I could refuel on the support and comfort of my people before starting a new role in August.

Like last month, first I want to welcome these three bundles of joy! Lisa & Jared’s first, Erica & Brian’s first, and Susan and Porf’s second.  I’ve yet to meet you all, but Auntie Miko can’t wait for some snuggles!


Corey and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary at a small beach town called Broadstairs, on the Southeast coast of the country.  We booked incredibly last minute, and I think we wound up with the last B&B room in the town.  With the sun shining, and the World Cup in full swing, everyone was getting out of the city and heading to the beach.  There were quirky decorations in the B&B, but the breakfast and garden were completely worth it.  The first meal though had to be fish and chips right before the England match! See below for the reaction after the win!

The two beaches on either side of the main shore were much smaller but less of a circus.  The first evening, we enjoyed a small gastropub, and ended up taking our glasses of wine in ‘to-go’ coffee cups so we could stroll the beach at sunset.

We ate fried eggs, tomato pastries, and grilled peaches alongside a 10 year old and her mom who were away on a girls weekend. So sweet!  The little girl also hipped Corey on how to find crabs in the sand, which was a success.


I’m pretty proud that my plans for this stint of vacation worked out….basically flawlessly.  We were able to see my sister in Quantico, Virginia, reunite with Momma Margaret and The Scott Bynoe family in DC, and then celebrate at back to back weddings in NYC.  The absolute best!

There’s aren’t many tourist attractions in Quantico, VA, but when your sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephews move there from across the country, it is a wonderful place to visit!  They have so much space in their new house, and even when I showed up just 3 weeks after their arrival, they had the place looking like home.  I was so happy to get one-on-one time with Nicole, meet Andrew for the first time (my two year old nephew), and have personal tours of Nate and Abby’s rooms!  You can see I’m in auntie heaven!

When Uncle Corey showed up a day later, he upped the ante on the trampoline, and provided some great laughs at the dinner table.  Nicole and Rob made it feel like real summer with our first bbq of the season.

 

Our final day we were able to see the Marine Museum near the base, and we had some serious Americana eats at Chick-fil-A and The Waffle House!


The train from Quantico to Washington DC was an easy one, and we were welcomed with the biggest hugs from Marvin, Eula, and Mr Livingston Tyree Scott Bynoe.  Our plans to all meet up at the National Museum of African American History and Culture were actually happening! There was so much to share and too much to smile about.  The first evening was low key with lots of updates about work and family and obviously this little button, Livi.

Mrs Spells arrived the next morning and we had our first day at the museum. It is a MUST SEE!  You experience every emotion on the floors of the museum.  There is so much to take in which is why I highly suggest two things: 1) you need reservations and you have to book months in advance, and 2) book at least two days to visit.  We made our way through two bottom floors of the slavery, reconstruction and 100 years up through the civil rights movement.  You have to take a break after this, and the lunch time canteen is a treat, so take care of yourself.

After lunch, it was Eula’s idea to visit one of the top floors before heading out for the day.  This is another recommendation to add to your list: end on an uplifting note and visit floor 6 (music, culture, and all the influences!) We had another night full of laughter and swapping stories.

On the morning of day two, my second favorite memory at the museum happened on the dark and devastating ground floor.  Mrs Spells’ fingers traced a route on a map of where ships left the coast of West Africa to a Carolina port.  She predicted that one route could be the same her ancestors might have traveled based on where she knew some of her family had settled.  Corey read aloud from the map placard that along these routes, only about 50% of African slaves reached the American plantations.  After slaves were shackled, they walked from their native lands to the slave ships, outlasted the middle passage, and were sold to plantation owners– a miracle that anyone was still alive.  Yet Corey stood next to his mom and shared that he found strength in really thinking about how much it would take to survive through all of that.  That it was a powerful thought for him.

We lost Marvin and Eula much earlier on the ground floor, and the three of us ended up on the fourth floor where my favorite memory occurred at the museum.  The fourth floor is the reference and education center.  The staff member let Corey and Mrs. Spells have the last slot for the day at the ancestry computers.  I peeked over the shoulders of Corey and his mom as they accessed the museum archives to do a search of their family tree.  Through the census and other historical documents, Corey clicked here and there and Margaret pointed out names of cousins and great grandparents.  It was inspiring and sobering to think about how far their family has come, and how much has been lost in the process.  They got as far back as Virginia, to Mrs Spells’ great great grandfather and still couldn’t retrieve any data that would indicate where their roots might be in Africa.

We learnt our lesson from the first day, and ended with the final two floors.  They are full of vibrant history about sports, medicine, academics, fashion and influence. We saw Dapper Dan’s name inscribed in the fashion section, and Mrs. Spells wondered at the old hot combs and hair products.  The records room was well-curated, I had to double back to the room dedicate to Mary McLeod Bethune.  If I’m honest, there really was another day to be had on these top floors!  We left in the rain but it couldn’t bring us down. We had our last meal together at an Ethiopian restaurant, complete with tej!

Two things I forgot to mention: We saw the special exhibition at the NMAAHC museum on Oprah and it was dope.  I learned just how far she’s come and it’s nothing short of inspiring.  Corey and I also took a short trip to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Obama portraits. Yes! I didn’t think I’d want to spend much more time in the Gallery than to see them, but I’d definitely put it on my list when I return to DC in the future.


When we visit New York, we usually split time because we want to see so many people. I caught up with Glenn over a meal at our favorite spot, Thai Market, and Corey met up with friends further downtown.  We spent the following day not surprisingly eating our way through NYC.  Silvana for late breakfast, Hill Country BBQ for a late lunch, and Pio Pio to celebrate Marty and Lizzy’s engagement.

Wedding Weekend!

I got some great one-on-one time with Stabs on the train upstate, and we arrived with Caitlin and Dominic to a hotel that wasn’t quite prepared for how we roll during weddings.  Anne and Chris were married in a picturesque field, and the rain showers stopped just before the ceremony.  The toasts were touching (especially from siblings), the dancing was live, and the doughnuts…were devoured…numerous times by yours truly.

From the farm & country back to the city, we celebrated Peyton and Jamila in Harlem, at a venue called Solomon & Cuff (right next to KIPP Infinity).  I couldn’t spend enough time with the GS fam as there was so much to catch up about.  There were many memorable moments from having Peyton’s mom as the officiant, to Corey and the Maid of Honor’s improv / skit- speech, but really it was Peyton and Jamila’s vows that took one’s breath away.  They were moving and personal, and as guests, we were all a part of their truth.

The best part of both weddings this weekend were that they felt true to the people joining in partnership.  I started this post with reference to Summertime Magic-  it could be the dizzying heat of Virginia, DC, and NYC, but I’d prefer to think of it as the vibes and connections that we get when making these memories.