Sunday, December 28, 2014

First Night in Hartford, Conn.


Wednesday December 31st is First Night in Hartford, Connecticut. For those who want to celebrate the end of 2014 and ring in 2015, Hartford has a lot to offer for families and individuals.

For families the Hartford Public Library will offer storytelling in the Downtown Atrium from 3-5 p.m.Entertainment will be provided on the floor by master storyteller Andre Keitt who will present “Warm Stories to Chase the Chills Away,” and aerial acrobat Robin Lynch will entertain from high above, performing acrobatic tricks 25 feet in the air! -  

Wristbands will be for sale in advance online and will be delivered within 2 days so there is still time to order. They will also be for sale at venues throughout the city, a complete list is located at the First Night Website. Adult tickets are $12 and children 3-15 are $3 The  wrist band will get you into multiple locations for lots of events. 

There are plenty of discount parking lots and metered parking and the free Dash shuttle will be running on a extended schedule. The Dash route is available on the First Night Website. 

Events and performances are offered that will entertain and inform people of all ages and interests. Learn about the history of Hartford in an architectural tour, there are two different tours being offered or tour a historic house.

Enjoy performances of Bluegrass from Bill Wallach at the Pump House in Bushnell Park. Bring the family to hear one of three organ recitals at Christ Cathedral Church or a performance by the children's circus Circophony at the Old State House and this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Fun, food, entertainment and a good time will be available all over the Capital City. 

For a full list of events at First Night in Hartford check out their website and make your plans to attend.



First Night Hartford at HPL!

Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown Library Atrium

Join us and ring in the New Year with First Night Hartford! Our Downtown Atrium will be alive with family fun. Master Storyteller Andre Keitt will present “Warm Stories to Chase the Chills Away,” and aerial acrobat Robin Lynch will entertain from high above, performing acrobatic tricks 25 feet in the air! Presented in partnership with First Night Hartford: www.firstnighthartford.org
  - See more at: http://www.hplct.org/classes-seminars-exhibits/#sthash.ZwwBk9JX.dpuf

First Night Hartford at HPL!

Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown Library Atrium

Join us and ring in the New Year with First Night Hartford! Our Downtown Atrium will be alive with family fun. Master Storyteller Andre Keitt will present “Warm Stories to Chase the Chills Away,” and aerial acrobat Robin Lynch will entertain from high above, performing acrobatic tricks 25 feet in the air! Presented in partnership with First Night Hartford: www.firstnighthartford.org
  - See more at: http://www.hplct.org/classes-seminars-exhibits/#sthash.ZwwBk9JX.dpuf

First Night Hartford at HPL!

Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown Library Atrium

Join us and ring in the New Year with First Night Hartford! Our Downtown Atrium will be alive with family fun. Master Storyteller Andre Keitt will present “Warm Stories to Chase the Chills Away,” and aerial acrobat Robin Lynch will entertain from high above, performing acrobatic tricks 25 feet in the air! Presented in partnership with First Night Hartford: www.firstnighthartford.org
  - See more at: http://www.hplct.org/classes-seminars-exhibits/#sthash.ZwwBk9JX.dpuf

First Night Hartford at HPL!

Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Location: Downtown Library Atrium

Join us and ring in the New Year with First Night Hartford! Our Downtown Atrium will be alive with family fun. Master Storyteller Andre Keitt will present “Warm Stories to Chase the Chills Away,” and aerial acrobat Robin Lynch will entertain from high above, performing acrobatic tricks 25 feet in the air! Presented in partnership with First Night Hartford: www.firstnighthartford.org
  - See more at: http://www.hplct.org/classes-seminars-exhibits/#sthash.ZwwBk9JX.dpuf

Friday, December 26, 2014

Photo Friday: Kensington Palace London

One of our favorite places to visit in London is Kensington Garden and Kensington Palace. We love to have tea at the Orangerie and then visit the Palace. Enjoy a photo tour of our last visit.

Statue of Queen Victoria in Kensington Garden

Walking through the Garden to the Orangerie
Yummy tea tray at the Orangerie
Costumes on display at Kensington Palace
Dress worn by Queen Victoria
Royal cradle
Queen Victoria and her mother
View from the window at Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
Al enjoying the window seat










Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone. Enjoy this special day with family and friends. May you all be blessed with the joy that the season has to bring and may all your dreams come true. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Plan a Visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in 2015

 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois Turns Ten
New exhibits, shows and programs scheduled throughout 2015

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will turn ten in 2015, marking the milestone with a full year of special events, theater presentations, lectures and exhibits.

Undying Words: Lincoln 1858-1865 is an exhibition produced in cooperation with the Chicago History Museum that opened in November and will run through February 2016. The exhibit focuses on five key Lincoln speeches that illustrate his evolving views on slavery. More than 120 artifacts complete the exhibit, including Lincoln’s bloody gloves from the night he was assassinated, the bed he died in and a carriage used by Abraham and Mary Lincoln.

Coming in April 2015 is “The Battle Hymn Story,” a new multi-media theater presentation full of music and special effects that joins the popular “Lincoln’s Eyes” and “Ghosts of the Library” productions.

The “To See Jerusalem Before I Die” exhibit in the Treasures Gallery examines Lincoln’s relationships with Jewish friends, supporters and opponents and opens in August.

Many other activities will be offered including an Easter Egg Roll, a Mary Lincoln Strawberry Party, birthday parties for the Lincoln sons and Pets in the White House, an event that welcomes pets to Union Square Park. For a complete list of tenth anniversary events, visit www.TenYearsLincoln.com.

While in Springfield, additional opportunities to experience the Lincoln story are available at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Lincoln’s New Salem, the Old State Capitol and the Lincoln Tomb. Other popular tourist sites in Springfield include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House, the Illinois State Capitol and the Illinois State Museum.

Springfield features a range of options for accommodations and unique local eateries. For complete information about planning a trip to Springfield to experience the 10th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and for everything there is to see and do, visit www.visitspringfieldillinois.com.

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The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau works to promote, service and sell Springfield, Illinois as a leisure and convention destination of distinction.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My worst Christmas ever: A tale of travel gone wrong

My worst Christmas ever began innocently enough at my mother and father’s house on Christmas Eve. It was 1975. I was 25 years old, married with three young children. My mother had made whiskey sours in a blender and my youngest brother Fran was there with us. My older brother Bob lived in Rutland, Vt. and someone came up with the brilliant idea of going and picking him up in Vermont and bringing him home for Christmas.



Under the best of circumstances, it takes three hours to drive from Connecticut to Rutland. This was not the best of conditions. It was Christmas Eve at about 8.00 p.m. and we had had a couple of whiskey sours each. After a quick call to Vermont to be sure he wanted to come home, Fran and I set off to go and pick Bob up. My husband being the good guy he is took the kids home and put them to bed. After all, the next morning was a big day for them and usually, they are up at 5 a.m. to open presents.



The trip up to Rutland went pretty well. We arrived to pick Bob up before midnight. It was cold and snowy in Vermont and by the time we left Rutland it was snowing pretty hard. We usually drive down Route 7 to Route 103. By the time we left Rutland I so was tired I decided to put my head down and fell asleep. I didn’t get to sleep very long before my brothers woke me up. Something was wrong. Fran had not taken the turn onto 103 and now it was snowing very hard and he had no idea where he was.



Oh, terrific, we are lost in a snow storm in Vermont and it is already Christmas Day. I was starting to get hysterical; not because we were lost but because I might not make it home in time to see my children open their Christmas presents. In those days of course, we didn’t have cell phones or GPS. We drove until we saw a phone booth and of course my brothers sent me out into the snow to call for help.


It’s 2.00 a.m. on Christmas morning and I am in a phone booth in the middle of nowhere. I called an operator and somehow she was able to tell where I was. We were near Stratton Mountain Ski resort so she could give me basic directions to get us back on track so that we could head toward I-91 which is what we needed to get home.



The snow was falling very hard now and this was in the days before four-wheel drive or even-front wheel drive. We were in a 1968 Cadillac with rear-wheel drive so the going was slow. I was sure that I would never make it home in time to celebrate Christmas morning at home. After a long dark slippery night of driving 360 miles, we made it to Portland at 7:00 a.m., about 2 hours after my children usually get up to open presents.



My wonderful husband had realized that what we were doing was crazy and had placed a blanket over the entrance to our living room so that the children could not see anything and when they woke him up at 5:00 a.m. he gave them their stockings to keep them occupied until I got home.



I was half dead from lack of sleep and needed a shower but I was home alive and my brother would be with us. I never did such a crazy, dangerous thing again and even though it made for a pretty horrible day what with lack of sleep and stress, I never regretted what we did.




My brother Bob died a couple of years ago and sleeping in the back seat of the Cadillac for a few minutes with my head in his lap is what I remember of that horrible Christmas morning. It reminds me of the beginning of a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Queens Gallery London

We have been to the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace many times over the years. It used to be quite a simple place with a rather high-end gift shop, my how things have changed. We went to see



Friday, 2 November 2012 to Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace


This exhibition brings together over 100 works by the greatest Northern European artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

The exhibition as was to be expected was amazing. The pieces that are in the royal collection certainly rival just about any museum in the world. 

What has however changed was the gift shop. In my humble opinion, it now rivals the one at Althrop during the time when Princess Diana's stepmother Raine Spencer had free rein and went tacky.  There are certain items that should never have an image of HRM on them but it seems that someone has forgotten that. Knickers with a crown or initials are just over the top!! 

 
I didn't take pictures in the gift shop, I really should have, but sufficed to say, I didn't buy anything and that was a first. 

What I did take a picture of was the bathroom at Buckingham Palace. Quite nice, not as nice as those at Spencer House, which I thought at the time were exceptional, but still, quite nice. 

There is almost always some sort of an exhibition going on at the Queen's Gallery. Check out their website for the latest offering. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Porters Restaurant Covent Garden London closing

One of our favorite restaurants in London for 25 years has been Porters in Henrietta Street. This is just off Covent Garden making it the perfect place to go before the theater or as we did on our last visit, for lunch. 


Porters was opened by the Earl of Bradford in 1979 and will close it doors on January 19, 2015. Porters is a victim of the high prices that landlords in London charge. The  prices at Porters have always been reasonable and their food quintessential English. I have always loved their pies and their puddings. 
Steak, Guinness and Mushroom Pie


I am very sad that I won't be back in London for one last meal. I decided to share our last visit, in  January 2013, with my fellow travelers and if you are going to be in London early in January, I suggest you stop in for a taste of authentic English cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere, before it is too late.To me, it is the end of an era, another institution is passing away. 
Lamb and Apricot Pie


Friday, December 19, 2014

Photo Friday Lunch at J Gilberts in Glastonbury, Conn.

J. Gilbert's is one of our favorite restaurants and during the month of December, up to the 23rd they serve lunch. The rest of the year it is dinner only. This is the first time that Al and I have taken advantage of this opportunity to dine here and spend a little less. Having said that, with tax and tip, it was an $80 lunch. 
Sourdough bread

The sourdough bread is served on a board and is warm. The smell was delightful. It includes two little crocks of whipped butter. One was pastrami favored, it was redolent of coriander, and the other is plain.
The wedge salad

We decided to split a wedge salad. It has bacon, tomato, onion, blue cheese and very good blue cheese dressing. I love the fact that they literally split the salad for us and give us two separate plates with the salad on it.
Al's steak and frites

My crab cakes with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

My cappuccino

Fresh berries with creme Anglais and tuiles

I have to talk about this dessert because it was the most amazing dessert I have eaten in a very long time. We shared it and we both loved it. The berries were very fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. The creme Anglais was absolutely divine and the tuiles so crunchy and sweet. It was the perfect ending of a very good meal.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Flashback Thursday: Best Reason to take a cruise

Cruising is a great way to travel for a variety of reasons. The best reasons are different for everyone who travels but here are a few of the main reasons to choose a cruise for your next vacation.

~Stress-free planning

Planning a cruise is one of the easiest if not the easiest type of vacation to plan. This is one time when it won’t cost you a cent to have a travel agent and your cruise specialist can save you hours of work and stress. All you need to do is to tell them how much you want to spend, how long you would like to cruise for and where you would like to do. They will then give you all the options. A good cruise specialist will ask you lots of questions about what you want from your cruise so that they can match you up with the cruise line that will provide the perfect experience for you.


~Upfront payment

Depending on how far in advance you book your cruise, you will have to make a partial payment as a deposit or if it is within a couple of months, you may have to pay it in full.  Once you have made this payment the only other thing you will absolutely have to pay are your staff tips. Your food is included as are almost all forms of entertainment. Any money you do spend will be a choice that you make once you are on the ship. This is a great way to budget you know before you ever leave exactly what your vacation is going to cost you.

~Something for everyone

On a cruise, there is something for everyone. From young children to seniors there are activities and designated areas that will provide just the kind of experience you are looking for. Are you an adventure type of person, depending on where you are cruising to, you will have the opportunity of snorkeling, iceberg adventures, visiting ancient ruins or swimming with dolphins. These are just a few of the possible options.  If you like a challenge, try trivia, the casino or bingo.

~Relax

Cruising is one of the most relaxing vacations you can imagine.   Head to the spa for a massage or a facial.  Sit in the hot tub under the stars or layout on a lawn chair on the deck or around the pool. Sleep late and order room service or dance the night away under the stars.  
 
~Feel pampered

There is nothing quite like leaving your wet towel on the floor and having your cabin steward take care of it for you. This is any woman’s idea of a dream vacation. No cooking, no cleaning and lots of time to do all the things that you enjoy.

~Good value

Perhaps the best reason is that you get a lot of bang for your buck on a cruise considering it includes food, lodging, and entertainment.

These are just some of the best reasons to cruise. There are many more. Why not book a cruise and find out for yourself?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Weekend of December 19-21 in Connecticut

If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, you don't have to travel very far from home if you live in Connecticut. 



Northern Lights Limited - Train Rides With Santa – Railroad Museum of New England, Thomaston Go on an evening holiday train ride with Santa at the Railroad Museum of New England and enjoy the Festival of Lights both inside and outside the train as children of all ages are invited to journey to Santa’s Train Workshop.  Join Santa as he boards the train and greets everyone with a gift, during the train ride (Friday- Sunday).

Ride a Vintage Train to Visit Santa -Danbury Railroad Museum Danbury 
That portly gent from the North Pole will once again pay a visit to the Danbury Railway Museum and you can take a ride in a vintage train through the historic rail yard to visit him.  Each child will receive a small gift from Santa. Based on the popularity of this event the past couple of years, reservations are suggested.  A special one-night-only event on Saturday, December 20 at 4:30 p.m., take an evening ride through the lighted rail yard.

The short train ride in a fully-restored 1953 New Haven Railroad Rail Diesel Car will take you through the rail yard, past the only powered turntable in Connecticut, recently listed on the National Historic Register, and over 70 vintage railroad cars, locomotives and many unique pieces of railroad history.  The train ride will terminate at Santa's own private railcar where you'll be greeted by Mrs. Claus and Santa's helpers in Toyland.

Christmas at Santa Claus Station- Milford Performing Arts Center
Christmas is full steam ahead for the fantastical passengers on the Holiday Express. But a quick stop at Santa Claus Station brings Santa Claus Station brings Santa and the Elves some unexpected surprises. Can they make it back to the North Pole in time for Christmas? This enchanting and heartwarming new musical is the perfect holiday treat for the entire family.

Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop - McArdle's Florist & Garden Center, Greenwich 06830
Welcome Santa and his LIVE reindeer to Greenwich with holiday refreshments, face painting, balloon artists and photos with Santa (Friday-Sunday).

Christmas Open Farm Weekends – Stone Bridge Farm, Griswold 06351
Mingle with the alpacas and browse through the farm shop. There are a lot of items that would make great gifts for the upcoming holidays and cold weather (Saturday-Sunday).

A Christmas Carol- Hartford Stage
December 19-21- "A Christmas Carol" - Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford, 06103. Time: Call for schedule. Come see one of Connecticut’s favorite family holiday traditions and spend some time with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they bring A Christmas Carol to life on stage. It’s perfect holiday entertainment.  

The Tunnel of Lights-East Windsor Ct.
December 19-21 - Winterfest & "The Tunnel of Lights" - Connecticut Trolley Museum, 58 North Rd., East Windsor, 06088. Time: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Join hundreds of others and start your own family tradition with a visit to the Trolley Museum during Winterfest.  Dress warm and bring blankets so you can enjoy a trolley ride on the open "electric" sleigh like they did years ago in Montreal.  Join your motorman in singing traditional Christmas carols as you travel down the track.  

Holiday Memories: Tales & Traditions of an Early 20th Century Christmas - Hill-SteadMuseum, Farmington
Feel like an invited guest when you tour the country house, decorated for the holiday. Immerse yourself in the Pope family's holiday celebrations, and view objects from family archives as well as decorations inspired by early 20th century traditions (Friday-Sunday).

This is just a sampling of what Connecticut has to offer this weekend, Check out the Connecticut Tourism website for additional suggestions and ideas. 

For more information about events mentioned: