Sunday, April 26, 2015

Old North Church Boston- The Lantern Lighting Ceremony

Well hello. It's me the absentee blogger. I am so sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. The good news is I have been keeping busy with some really fun events and I will take you along with me through my posts. So there is lots to talk about in the next few weeks.

Tonight I am posting about an event I attended last weekend, the Old North Church Lantern Lighting Ceremony. If you have walked the Freedom Trail in Boston you inevitably passed by the Old North Church.

Prior to the ceremony, we spied reenacters who would later ride by the church. Surely you recognize Paul Revere and William Dawes. They saw the two lanterns in the belfry of the Old North Church and rode through Middlesex towns shouting the warning, "The British are coming!"

Single pew seats were quite expensive so my sister, our friend Debbi and I opted for the balcony seats. We had a nice overall view.

Also, we had a wonderful view of the 1st Michigan Colonial Fife and Drum Corps. The beating of the drum was music to my ears and went right through my body, building the excitement of what was to come.

 Minutemen from various towns processed in the church.

The church is stunning and it is overwhelming to me to think of the history associated with it. The bells were rung before the ceremony. Just beautiful!

Such a spectacular organ, and we were sitting very close to it. I really enjoyed my vantage point.

The Old North Chamber Choir sang a number of songs including America and America the Beautiful. It was so poignant.

Our new Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, was the keynote speaker. The poem Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was read. I had to memorize it for school perhaps you did too.
The two lanterns were lit and hung in the steeple.

When we exited the church, a crowd had formed on Salem Street and surrounding streets in the North End.

We saw the two lanterns hanging in the steeple and then Paul Revere rode by on his horse. I guess he saw the lanterns too.

The North End of Boston has no less than 6o restaurants lining it's streets. We walked around the area on our way back to the subway at North Station. We found a nice little café and had a caffeination break. This is my sister's hot chocolate.

I could not pass up the chocolate mousse cake. The North End cafes are known for wonderful coffees and desserts. Parking is difficult as many of the streets are narrow and one way. It is so much nicer if you take the subway in as we did.
We decided to take a particular route back to the subway so we could see the Zakim bridge illuminated. I wanted to snap a photo. It is illuminated with many colors of light so it changes from blue to red to purple to yellow.
And the skyline was as fantastic as always as we approached our North Station subway stop.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's all about the music

Last week I celebrated St. Patrick's Day a couple of times. On Saturday, I went to an event at the Chelmsford Center for the Arts. We were entertained by the world famous Carmel Quinn.  Carmel is beautiful, talented and humorous. I loved her stories of Ireland, her family and her career. Her voice is exquisite.

We enjoyed tea and sweets and charming company. Carmel agreed to pose with us and we were thrilled.

The following Friday night my sister's friend Diane gave a house concert.  Diane is the leader of The Colonial Singers of the Lexington Historical Society and my sister is a member. The Colonial Singers recently recorded a CD with funds from a Kickstarter campaign.

Diane also sang songs from Ireland and some from Scotland too. She told some stories that had me crying from laughing so hard.

At intermission, we enjoyed Irish soda bread and Kerry Gold butter and cookies. Tea and scones with lemon curd and my sister's mock Devonshire cream rounded out the menu.

Back for a second set and Diane played the guitar and the dulcimer. Outside it was snowy and cold but inside we had a roaring fire and a room filled with music.

Diane's home is lovely and the addition of little Stellina made it just perfect. Stellina was so comfortable with the crowd she even stretched out right in front of the fireplace. I did get to pet her a little bit as she greeted everyone in the room.

It was a wonderful week. Did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Crepe party in Georgetown

Usually I like to stay home on Saturday nights. I like to relax and catch up on my reading, my television watching and then of course, there's the kitties. Yes, I am getting very boring in my old age.

Last Saturday, my sister hired her friend Jolie to prepare dinner for a group of friends. Dinner at Jolie's? I told my sister I was crashing the event! And I was glad I did because Jolie creates magic!

The dinner party was a Christmas present from my sister to her friends. My sister picked the menu and Jolie opened her home to guests and also prepared the meal.  As you can see from the photos, Jolie's home is warm and cozy and artistically decorated.

The dining room took my breath away. The room was surrounded by soft candlelight and the wall color added warmth to the scene. The décor, a clever mix of antiques and treasures from travels around the world. A cozy spot just begging me to enter and enjoy the pleasures of a fine meal with my favorite people. Jolie created all of this herself. She is such a friend to my sister and now to me too!

An amazing salad of chickpeas, greens, couscous, and other yummy ingredients was the first course. The dressing was delicious too. Of course it was homemade. All I know is it had yogurt in it and tumeric and it was perfect on the salad.

Croissants worthy of any French patisserie were served. Again, they were Jolie's creation.

Paul and Deb were giddy with excitement for the next course. Which was ...

Shrimp and scallop crepes with a white sauce. Maybe that sauce had the yogurt in it. I am not sure. The crepes and sauce were so delicious.  I wanted more than one but I knew dessert was coming so I refrained from having the second crepe. 
I have had Jolie's cream puffs before and they are to die for! She says they are so easy to make.  Yeah, right. Not for me.

We enjoyed wine and tea and French Roast coffee. The wine glasses were from Sweden, a favorite travel spot for Jolie. She loves flea marketing there and visiting her many Swedish friends.

Here is the piece de resistance! Chocolate mousse in a gorgeous dish. I ate the chocolate mousse but the cream puffs went home with me. Yes, Jolie provides doggie bags.
I just had to show you the magnificent built-in to the right in the photo. I would love to have a built-in at my condo. Jolie's house is very old with so much charm in every room.
One last photo of the evening. I wanted to show the beautiful beams on the ceiling.
So there you have it. One spectacular Winter's night in New England. I'll never forget it!

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Saturday in Harvard Square

Nearly two weeks ago, snow fatigue was setting in. I decided I wanted to have a fun day before the next storm hit. I told my sister we needed to go to Burdick's in Harvard Square for a hot chocolate.

We had wanted to go there around Christmastime but it did not happen. So I was determined to get my Burdick's hot chocolate before the Winter season was over. She did not need much urging.

Yes, it is a little crazy to travel miles out of your way for hot chocolate but as you can see Burdick's is a busy spot so it must be worth the trip. We were lucky to get a table!

I pictured this man as a professor type on a short break from teaching something scholarly at Harvard University. And I even got in this shot, unintentionally. Good thing I dressed well!

Ooh, I love these cups. They are for larger sized drinks. I would not recommend this size for Burdick's hot chocolate as the drink is very rich plus you want a little something to eat too. Don't you?

So here's the much desired hot chocolate. I like to go with a small milk chocolate hot chocolate and one cinnamon Luxembourger. A Luxembourger is basically a cinnamon macaron. I bought extras for us (my sister, Dad, and I) and we enjoyed them later.

I spied this drink at the next table.  The woman told me she always get a demi hot chocolate and a croissant. Hmm, demi hot chocolate was not listed on the menu. She said it is a secret and I was glad for the tip. I could have had a second cinnamon Luxembourger and the smaller drink. Good to know for the future.

We were sufficiently caffeinated and we walked down Brattle Street. Anthropologie was just a few doors down from Burdick's so we had to check it out. I love this particular Anthropologie. It has multi levels to explore. I already have two of these spectacular mugs otherwise I would have purchased a couple.

 The entire front of Anthropologie is all windows. I looked out from the second level and sure enough it was snowing again! Seems to be a daily occurrence. Boston has had almost 100 inches of snow this season!

Of course, the teapots caught my attention. I thought this vignette would make a nice foreground to the building which looks like it belongs in London.

The next stop was STA or Second Time Around. The clothes were very upscale in this consignment shop. We tried on a number of coats and jackets but walked away empty handed. I loved everything in the shop.

We headed up another street to the Red House. We decided to have a small lunch. You can see the snow made it difficult to walk. It was slippery in spots and the snowbanks were high on some streets. Little did we know the storms would continue for the next two weeks.

We thought about outdoor dining but probably not the best idea. Of course I am kidding. It was mighty cold out there.

It looked cozy in this room of the Red House restaurant. There really wasn't a spot for us, too many people.

This room was so much better. We were the only ones in it. I loved the stained glass windows. It really was a beautiful room. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and then decided to head home.

This is across from Upstairs on the Square which was a favorite spot for tea. Sadly, it closed last year. I love this yellow house. I am sure it is quite old. This is a great area for photos.

I was glad we took the car because it looks like biking is not an option these days. I am guessing it will be a while before these bikes make it back home. The snow piles around Cambridge and Harvard Square are just killer.

I will post about the snow in my area in the near future. I've been taking photos of each storm and the amount of snow is unbelievable. More snow than I have ever seen in my lifetime and that's a long time!

Also, I wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last post about my Mother's passing. Your comments were so heartfelt and uplifting, thank you. I am amazed by all the support our family has received in the past month. It is truly appreciated.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Long Goodbye

I am writing the blog post I have been dreading. Dreading it even though it has been 10 years in the making.

My Mother passed away on January 19th, 2015. She left us peacefully with my Dad at her side, exactly where he had been for their 63 years of marriage. He was not scheduled to visit her at her nursing home until that night as my sister and I were going to visit Mum on that particular Monday afternoon. But, he put his coat on that morning and told my sister he was going to see her. I got the call from my sister an hour later that she was gone. A friend told me my Dad knew because their hearts were talking to each other. I believe that is true.

In February 2004, my Mother had a massive stroke that robbed her of her speech and left her partially paralyzed. I often wondered why God let her survive so many years in a nursing home. Surely it would have been kinder to let her go to heaven immediately after the stroke. For me, the long goodbye was kinder.

We spent countless hours with her at the nursing home but since her stroke she was never the same. She wasn't the same person to me although she still had her stubbornness, flair for the dramatic, and sense of humor. How devastating it would have been for me to lose her 10 years ago when she was able to walk, talk, and go shopping with me.

I did not deliver a eulogy at her funeral but if I had I would have mentioned some favorite memories. At first, it was difficult to think of anything more than her illness. It had changed all of our lives for so long but recently more memories are breaking through. Happy memories or at least something more than the stroke and her years at the nursing home. Here are a few memories:

She was the worst photographer in the world. She once cut me completely out of my prom picture.

She let me stay up until 8:00 when I was in first grade. Batman was on and she let me stay up to watch it. I was the only kid in my class who could stay up to watch it.

We used to go shopping every Saturday afternoon but first we went to Brigham's and consumed grilled cheese sandwiches and hot fudge sundaes with coffee ice cream.

She and I used to love to watch spy shows together. Probably why I am addicted to them now.

She let me drink coffee at age 9. She used to add lots of milk and sugar to it but it made me feel all grown up.

She loved animals her entire life. We bought a puppy in the parking lot of a shopping mall from a woman who had a basket of puppies.. We named him Murphy. We already had a cat at home which had arrived via the pro shop of my Dad's golf course. My Dad brought the cat home as a kitten for us to play with thinking it would go back to the pro shop in a few hours. My Mother told him he couldn't let us play with it and then take it away. The kitten was with us for 9 happy years.

She was the most stylish woman I know as evidenced by the old photos we picked out for the slideshow at her wake. I may post some of them later. Both of my parents were so elegant and well dressed.

Anyway, I know my Mum is heaven now. She can walk and talk and she is with her mom and her dad and her friends. As my sister's friend said, "Her entrance into Heaven is joyfully anticipated". I find comfort in that.

We've received such support from family and friends it has blown me away. I want to thank all those angels on earth who have made a difficult time easier. There are too many to name.

I am back to work and will soon return to blogging about my New England adventures. I hope you will come along for the ride.


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