Friday, March 10, 2023

A Weekend in Washington D.C.

Flying into Baltimore on a chilly Thursday morning, a little thrill swirled in my stomach. Traveling to see our daughter perform at the Kennedy Center, I and my husband looked forward to a great weekend of museums, food, drink, and ballet. 

Grabbing an Uber we settled in for an hour's drive through the stark, Maryland hills into Washington D.C. Winter gripped the area and naked trees clattered on either side of the road as the highway scrolled out before us. 

Pulling up to our hotel, we thanked the driver and quickly darted into the lobby to avoid raindrops. The lobby peaked a memory as I looked around, then realized I was a past patron of the establishment. Chatting with the staff was pleasantly reminiscent as we checked in and accepted an upgrade to a deluxe king room. 

Meeting with our daughter for dinner later that evening, I felt the warmth of family as we visited with our lovely, talented girl. It was an early night, since she was dancing Romeo and Juliet the next evening.

Friday morning found us hopping into an Uber and whirling off to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Starting in the Gems and Minerals collection, I maneuvered my way around the crowds to linger over the glittering jewelry displays. Rubies, emeralds, brilliant sapphires and diamonds shone in a historical smorgasbord. Jewels that adorned royalty, shone on society matrons and debutantes were graced by the piece de la resistance - the Hope Diamond. From there, we toured the ocean hall and dinosaur hall. Wrapping up with lunch, we headed back to our hotel to prepare for dinner and the ballet.

Cold air braced us as we walked into The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts later that evening. Murmuring crowds clustered in the lobby waiting for the doors to open. American Ballet Theatre, America's Ballet Company was poised to take the stage with our daughter performing the lead role of Juliet. Nothing prepares a parent for the feeling of seeing your child on stage in such a significant way. Fear, elation, excitement and even tears wound through me. The curtain opened in a woosh, and we were enthralled from the first note to the final curtain. The crowd leaped to its feet for curtain calls, and tears choked my eyes. No show is final, of course, without post-show drinks! Clyde's, a popular Georgetown Bar and Restaurant beckoned for a late-night snack and drink, and we unwound from the spectacular show with our daughter and friends of the ballet. Our night was complete!

Heading to the Museum of The Bible the next day, we anticipated a few hours touring the collections. Having visited the museum five years earlier, we were excited to take in the updates and changes. The lobby rose four stories and echoed with voices and footsteps. Bright white marble graced the walls and formed open stairs angling up and down through the building. New this time around was the "science

and the bible" floor. A most interesting collection of Galileo's writings, including an original notebook asking the question of the ages - how to reconcile known science with Biblical writings? Another new gallery was an impressive display of artifacts on loan from the Israeli Antiquities Department. Clay pots, ancient art and jewelry shone in the backlit cases. As I wandered through the hall, I came upon a section supporting an ancient group of people, the Samaritans. With fewer than 1000 individuals left in the world, I was gratified to see an organization highlight such a wonderful culture. 

No trip to D.C. is complete without an afternoon in Georgetown. Wandering through a flea market, I snagged an old version of Sherlock Holmes, and settled in for coffee. It was the best way to round out our weekend, and with a hug we saw our daughter off to her train to return home. Packing up to head to the airport, I held the memories close to my heart with a plan to return soon! 

For information about the Smithsonian see Homepage | Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (

The Kennedy Center has a robust calendar: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (

The Museum of the Bible can be found here: One of Fodor’s Best Museums in DC | Museum of the Bible

For an afternoon or evening repast, check out Clyde's of Georgetown: Georgetown | Hours + Location | Clyde's | American Bars & Restaurants in the US (

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Fashion in Paris


It struck me as my driver careened around streets narrow enough to sweep unsuspecting bicyclists onto the sidewalks – I was in the middle of the fashion capital of the world, Paris! Settling into the Montmartre district, I whipped out my phone to check my itinerary. First up was a trip to the Museé Decoratif, the Decorative Art Museum. A featured display entitled “Annees 80” called to me. A child of the 80s, I spent part of high school and all of college in that decade, and I was eager to peruse the collection of fashion on display. I wandered through the great hall, reading the placards, absorbing displays and watching the accompanying videos. It became clear that couture fashion shows, once exclusive events by invitation only, experienced a shift during that era. I stood transfixed watching an Yves St. Laurent fashion show on a television monitor. It struck me that by opening up the couture fashion world through televised events and by selling tickets to live shows, couture fashion became available to a wider audience. With the advent of ready-to-wear fashions patterned from the runway, fashion houses realized the need to reach more customers. While exclusive, small invitation only fashion shows are still prevalent in the industry, more accessibility to the public was defining the future of the clothing and accessories world.  

In 1984, audiences in Paris saw a never-before-done event that took the fashion world by storm. Thierry Mugler opened his couture show by offering his collection to the public and selling tickets to 6000 people. Worthy of a Broadway production, music swept the audience as models paraded down the catwalk. In a final coups d'état, a model soared from the sky in a cloud of smoke. Since shattering the exclusivity of the couture fashion world, other houses have staged larger and even more accessible shows. In 1988, Yves St. Laurent participated in the “Fête de L’Humanité”, another first in the industry.  With over 50,000 in attendance, the fashion house presented 180 designs and set a new trend for couture. 

Leaving the museum and sauntering down the backstreets of Paris, I wondered what that meant to those who appreciate good fashion and desire to dress well. Even the ready to wear collections of the top fashion houses is cost prohibitive for many of us. Yet the construction of the garments along with the fabric and finishes make these pieces beautiful, fit well and last forever. To check out the current fashions, I made my way the next day to the Champs-Elyseé. A trip to Paris requires a stroll down the avenue (at least in my mind). There, the top designers anchor every corner and since I traveled during the holidays, beautiful displays graced the towering windows. It was a feast for those who love fashion. 

Later in the week I realized what a unique opportunity it was to be in Paris, with a chance to seek out vintage and thrift shops. Next on my itinerary was to take advantage of the ready-to-wear offerings that were marketed by the designers throughout the past decades by seeking out those Parisian vintage shops. Scurrying down steep cobblestone streets and darting into tiny shops tucked away, I discovered highly curated clothes at affordable prices. Turning into one such shop, I saw, hanging innocuously against the wall and draped with a pair of sunglasses, an amazing vintage black and white sweater. It was beautifully constructed with quality knit, and a double rows of gold buttons. Chanel? Possibly. A Chanel look-a-like? Probably. Did I care? Not at all! My trip was complete as I hugged my bargain and hiked back to my Airbnb to pack. Leaving Paris with a sigh, I looked over my shoulder as my Uber wound down once again through the streets of Montmartre.  

Friday, January 13, 2023

New Year's in Paris!

Rolling down the street in my Uber, I gazed out at the Paris skyline. Asphalt turned into cobblestones as we bumped up into the Montmartre district. My driver careened around streets narrow enough to sweep a bicyclist onto the sidewalk. I was thrilled to spend New Year's Eve in Paris with my family, and especially to explore this northern part of Paris which was home to a cultural revolution. 

Known as the Butte, Montmartre started inauspiciously as home to vineyards and windmills. A hike was required to get up into the hills and was therefore home to working classes and starving artists. From 1880 to the early 1900s, artistic greats opened studios and communed together creating a new avant-garde art. This Bohemian district was home to Picasso, Modigliani, and many female artists such as Suzanne Valadon, and Picasso's muse Fernande Olivier. Renoir was known to have hiked up and painted in the beautiful gardens. 

Not only did visual art flourish and expand, but writers and intellectuals descended on Montmartre, and a new raucous form of entertainment opened in the Chat Noir, and the well-known Moulin Rouge.  Artist Toulouse-Lautrec launched his fame by creating posters to market these venues. The famous Parisian Cancan became the lure for those desiring to skate on the edge of decency. 

Within walking distance of my Airbnb perched the Montmartre Museum. Contained in the collection are works by Valadon and her son Utrillo, as well as Picasso. In fact, Valadon's studio is preserved in the building and the grounds contain the gardens that inspired much of Renoir's work. Montmartre and the museum are a wonderful way to experience Paris! For more information see Montmartre museum in the heart of Paris (

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Orange County Museum of Art, Costa Mesa, California

Walking past the picturesque lake and surrounded by lush green trees, I set my sights on the distant buildings. Having traveled to Cosa Mesa, California to see my daughter perform in The Nutcracker Ballet, I was gratified to see the performing arts campus was also home to the Orange County Museum of Art. This was my focus as I ventured out into the cool morning. Approaching the sweeping glass façade, automatic doors swooshed open. A generous entryway gave way to tall ceilings bright with sunlight. Gracious staff members gestured toward the desk, where I was given a map and instructions on how to best enjoy the museum. 
 When thirteen visionary women came together in 1962 to open the museum, as indicated on the website they shared a powerful conviction that Orange County needed a venue where important art could be enjoyed. From the seed of this idea, a small
art gallery became the Newport Harbor Art Museum in 1968 and the Orange County Museum of Art in 1997.  Recently, the museum moved to its new permanent home on the Segerstrom Performing Arts campus. Free to the public, the museum features a rotating collection of art. Currently, works by Sharon Ellis, Fred Eversley, Peter Walker and the 13 women who founded the museum, among others are on display.  

Walking into the first gallery, I was drawn in by the work of the original founding artists. Directly ahead, a square painting graced the wall. Hands holding a stopwatch in multiple panes danced across the canvas. Under each was a word – Happy, Sad, Awake – a plethora of adjectives to describe life. Artist Barbara Kruger offers this piece to reflect the range of emotions we experience throughout life. Additional works scrolled out ahead of me, including sculptures and paintings arranged to visually embrace and ponder. 

Circling around the end of an open wall, I was confronted by paintings which, I daresay, are my absolute favorite of the entire collection. Vivid landscapes captured my mind; bright colors and crisp lines brought trees and meadows to life in a surreal manner. Artist Sharon Ellis layers Alkyd paint to create an electric view of landscapes, sometimes taking months to create the final piece. Staring mesmerized by the works, “In the beginning, God created....” drifted through my mind. What a beautiful way to see the world. 

Climbing the open cement stairs to the second floor, another gallery opened up to feature pedestals filled with round sculptures created from resin. Artist Fred Eversley, a pioneer in creating optical illusions in light and space was featured throughout the gallery. A large concave cylinder, brightly polished and enhanced with translucent rosy color captured my attention. Gazing at the piece, I was amazed to see through it to other sculptures in the distance. I continued through the gallery, slowly down the stairs and out the door after a wonderful experience. 

There is much to experience and admire at the museum, and spending a few hours that day was well worth the visit. For those living near or traveling to Costa Mesa, be sure to take time to go! For more information, check out the website: Orange County Museum of Art ( 

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Beauty of Prospect Park


Stepping off the subway at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, my husband and I ascended the steps into the sun. It was a warm day, and the still air surrounded us as we walked toward the historic Soldiers and Sailors Arch built near the entrance to Prospect Park. Built from 1889 to 1892, the arch is a monument for the Union soldiers and sailors who fought in the American Civil War. Reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, it stands as the entrance to the wide expanse of one of the most beautiful parks in New York.

Strolling lazily through the arch, we took in the green expanse of the Northern entrance to Prospect Park. 526 acres of pristine grass, trees and rambling paths opened up before us. We chose the path to the right as it scrolled out before us like a ribbon into the trees. Benches, placed strategically along the walkway offered a respite when the sun turned warm. It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk in the park, and we smiled and nodded to joggers taking advantage of the weather. Stopped for a moment by a sweet couple, we offered to hold their jackets and snap pictures of them tucked into the trees. Laughing and enjoying the moment, we embraced this special time in the park. 

Designed by two architects who also worked on Central Park, there are many elements that have a similar feel as that great Manhattan icon. Prospect Park includes a zoo and Audubon Center. It is also surrounded by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Museum of Art. With so many options to choose from for an outing, a repeat visit to the park is certainly in our future! See more about Prospect Park by visiting the website: Home - Prospect Park Alliance

Saturday, November 12, 2022

 Hi Everyone!

As I was researching for my article about Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, I came across a great travel magazine called In it, I discovered an informative article about Brooklyn that you will enjoy. Check it out and be sure to scroll through all of the GoNomad articles!

Brooklyn Heights: NYC's First Suburb (

Also check out this photo - a beautiful shot of South Congregational Church I took while strolling through Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Friday, November 4, 2022

A Brooklyn Pub Crawl

The sun hovered delicately above ornate brick buildings, hanging for a moment until plunging the sky into darkness. I and my husband sauntered up the street, breathing the cold air that arrives in Brooklyn, New York in late OctoberOur goal was to haunt the many fabulous pubs and cafés dotting the Carroll Gardens district of Brooklyn, and as Halloween weekend approached witches, cats and ghosts brushed past us darting in and out of open doorways to enjoy drinks and appetizers. A Pub Crawl through Brooklyn is no small task, and as it turned out our adventure lasted several nights. 

Carroll Gardens is a beautiful neighborhood with 200 years of history. Parks bursting with lush, green trees and streets filled with towering brownstone apartments, families and single individuals alike call this area home. Evenings are alive with authentic pubs and cafés reimagined in historic buildings.

Swinging above the sidewalk, a brown sign announced Bar San Miguel. The wooden door was propped open, welcoming patrons as breezes blew through the bar. A smiling face greeted us and bade us to wait as servers cleared a table. Fare was varied and delicious authentic Mexican food. A skillet of queso passed by, carried to a neighboring table as spicy odors tickled my nose. Noshing on enchiladas with margaritas to chase them down wrapped up the perfect first night of our signature Pub Crawl. 

As the sun slipped behind the buildings on day two, drinks at Gowanus Yacht Club beckoned. The outdoor beer garden, not to be confused with, well, a yacht club was tucked into a corner by the Carroll Street Subway stop. Surrounded by a brick and iron fence, we entered the garden as rumbling sounds of trains filtered up through a grate in the pavementThe cash only establishment offered draft beers, ciders and canned offerings, along with grilled pub food. Old wooden chairs and stools propped up patrons seated at damp picnic tables and swiping my hand across a chair, I plopped down to sip on my White Claw. It was the perfect way to start the evening. 

Moving further up the street, the night air chilled my nose as an old, unassuming wooden doorway greeted us. Barely Disfigured was built on the site of a short-lived “house of ill repute,” and with the assurance that no prostitutes lingered we opened the door. A curved marble bar and dim lighting surrounded the room, part 1920s speakeasy married to modern Brooklyn. Unusual cocktails, elevated charcuterie platters and cheese trays graced the menu, along with a robust raw bar tempting the palate. Warm ambiance suited the bar like an old leather glove, and the crisp “George Washington’s Night Out” slid down my throat with a sharp tang.  A Charcuterie Board, like a work of art slid onto the bar before us, and my throat hummed in appreciation.

Our adventure continued a few blocks away. Wide glass entryways beckoned at Abilene – a sports pub complete with outdoor seating at wrought iron tables. Closing my eyes, I sipped a Cosmopolitan and snuggled into my wool jacket. The crisp night was perfect for enjoying the weather and snacking on wings with the accompanying accoutrements. With a sigh of appreciation, we strolled back down the street. Subsequent evenings brought additional adventures so to read more, check out my article at Brooklyn Pub Crawl - Follow Cheryl's visit to Brooklyn bars! (

A Weekend in Washington D.C.

Flying into Baltimore on a chilly Thursday morning, a little thrill swirled in my stomach. Traveling to see our daughter perform at the Kenn...