One of my resolutions was to blog more, and if I didn’t have something to write about, I should find something. So I slipped on the ice, paid to have needles rammed into my body, and flew through the air. At the same time — and not.
Let me explain.
We’ve had an interesting couple of months, weather wise, in Minnesota. Currently we are going through a massive and frankly nerve-wracking melt down. With record levels of snow fall in February, and lots of rain and melting temps in March, people are bailing out basements and digging out storm drains and bagging sand. This might get very ugly. We are torn. We desperately want spring, but man it is a wet price to pay.
In January, we enjoyed (survived?) the Polar Vortex. It was effing cold. For a week, our temps raged from a high of 17 F to a low of -26 F — without wind chill. It was tough. Then we spiked to 39 and everything MELTED. Good news? Nope. Then it froze. Hard. Sheets of ice so beautiful and deadly we even had a snowplow truck slide sideways down a hill (https://www.facebook.com/CaravanVet/videos/1066766743531671/).
This big freeze happened on a day devoted to friendship, side bets, and nachos: Super Bowl Sunday. I was enjoying a party at our friends’ home, and after the game stepped outside to go home.
One step. And I was up and DOWN.
My husband saw it happen — our friends cred out for help. Everyone assumed I would have a concussion as it was hard. The cold ice actually felt good for a minute, so I chose to lay there, taking stock, assessing the damage. Nothing apparently broken, amazingly. We would late find out that hospitals were full of the injured, many with brain bleeds. Hand surgeons would be booked nonstop to repair all the appendages fruitlessly used to break falls. Luckily my hands were full of leftover yumminess, so the only casualty related to my hands was some spilled meatball sauce (and if you have had my friend Sandi’s balls, you know that is a tragedy).
But the price for intact hands was a whacked back. After a week of muddling through the gripping, breath-taking pain, I got checked out by a doctor who proclaimed me only bruised, thankfully. But this pain wasn’t going anywhere, so HWSNBN decided I should try something new: acupuncture.
I guess he knows me well — I rarely shy from adventure, so I was game. I mean, it might help. A few days later I was having my pulses listened to and my tongue examined. Then it was lay down (easier said than done) and prepare to be pricked.
The whole thing was pretty cool. I have done three sessions so far with Meghan at Peak Life Clinic (http://peaklifeclinic.com/). The first time I went in I could barely move; by the time I left I was pain free. Now, it didn’t last forever, but each time I have gone in I have felt better and better. She does my front first, then my back, then cupping (google images of Michael Phelps, cupping, and you will get an idea of what my back looked like!). It’s relaxing, and weirdly successful. Heck, one time I was congested from a cold. She stuck a few well placed needles and within minutes my nose was clear and dripping. Very weird!
At my second session, we talked about my date night that evening, and how we were about to do something probably really stupid for my healing back: trapeze lessons. Yes, HWSNBN and I dragged our 50 year old bodies up a long narrow ladder and jumped off the platform. Repeatedly. I booked the class at Twin Cities Trapeze Center (https://www.twincitiestrapeze.com/).
For 90 minutes we were strapped in and swinging, culminating in an actual catch by another person. I mean: so cool! And soooo hard. When I first revealed to HWSNBN what we were doing, he was giddy, boasting he would be doing flips and stuff (and reminding me of his brief foray into gymnastics as a kid). After one turn on the bar, we quickly realized this was not a game for the young. We were so exhausted by the end of the night we couldn’t even make it to after-event cocktails (which really sucked, because my outfit that night was super cute: some 20-something gals ask me where I got my clothes, as they said I was the best dressed person in the room when we went to dinner before the lessons. Total ego boost!).
The next day we were comparing bruises, and deciding which hurt most — the backs of our legs, or our shoulders, or, in my case, my back. So yeah: not the best activity for my bruised back.
I have since done more acupuncture, and some chiropractor appointments. The healing process is often two steps forward, one step back. Oddly enough, getting back on the treadmill made all the pain go away for several days (until I had to lift and twist and move supplies while volunteering at Secondhand Hounds). I’m looking to add a massage into my mix sometime soon — maybe next week when I can fit it in.In the mean time, I walk like a penguin over the remaining ice patches I see!
So I watched the Academy Awards, as usual. Took notes while it was on — and have edited those thoughts with pics and afterthoughts…(the verb tense is usually present, as I typed while I watched. Sorry if that confuses anyone)
What is up with the ruffles, the pink, the HUGE dresses?
Gaga clearly set the trend when she showed up in that periwinkle ball gown to the Golden Globes and the pink feathered gown at Cannes. Hoping she wears something totally different. A bright, sleek, regal number.
Speaking of sleek…
Clearly, when one wears a slinky dress, the left shoulder look-over is de rigueur. Like all of these dresses — except for the back of the last one. She looks like she has toilet paper stuck to her butt.
Another big trend: gender bending. I noticed the first gal pictured in the slideshow, costume designer Sandy Powell, in the background while someone was interviewing a big star, and just fell in love. I always think it’s fun to see what the costume designers wear. They are often so creative — just like their creations. In this case, Powell’s designs for The Favourite inspired one of the most talked about fashion moments of the night (we’ll chat about that later). Here she looks amazing to me — I would love to wear this look! (BTW: Powell was nominated for both The Favourite and Mary Poppins Returns. This is the third time she has been nominated doubly in the same year).
So how did the men look?
Here are a few other standouts, for better and worse:
The red carpet behind them, the celebs sat down for the show. After that opening, I got even more excited to go to see Queen this summer! Watching Glenn Close, Queen Latifah and Javier Bardem sing along was so freaking cool. Best opening monologue ever? Looking at Bradley Cooper’s face, I am guessing he was thinking “I cannot compete with this…”
Non-hosts Amy Pohler, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph were hilarious. I was wondering how political the show would be, and the second joke of the night was about the border wall. I personally have no problem with folks using their 30 seconds of speech time to speak their mind, but I know it drives tons of people nuts.
The more I look at Tina’s dress the more I love it. And the more I look at Maya’s the more I want to use it to cover a couch.
Best Supporting Actress contenders:
Regina King wins (no surprise there). Her toga dress is masterful, and I think it wins best dressed in this category. My fave actress in this category, Amy Adams, had a terrific look. The other 3? Two were ok, one was awful. You guess which.
Helen Mirren and Jason Momoa? Yes, please. What a great pairing!
Best Documentary: wow! I was sure RBG would win it! Oh dear: that — does she know we can see right through her dress? Maybe that’s next year’s documentary feature: fashion gone wrong.
I’ts interesting seeing who the producers chose to introduce each best picture. Some made sense, like Dana Carvey and Mike Myers for Bohemian Rhapsody. But why did Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine introducing Vice? Is it because the movie is about the political machine?
Makeup: Vice won — and should have! But man the people who won sucked at giving their acceptance speech. Buy them some frickin glasses. Their speech made everyone rethink the decision not to do that award during a commercial.
What the actual F. Melissa McCarthy and Bryan Tyree Henry! I am digging these costume collaborations. Not everyone seemed to get the reference, but the outfits were a mashup of all the nominated movies’ costumes. The bunny cape was from The Favourite (remember I mentioned something about that before?)
J Lo and Chris Evans. Very pretty people. Her dress is her way of saying no one can outshine me! Metallic dresses were a theme this year, too:
Cinematography — Roma‘s first of (I am betting) several wins.
One of my fave lines of the night: Khaleesi (aka Emilia Clarke) loaning her dragons to RBG. Fantastic!
Serena Williams introducing A Star is Born. I am thinking these odd airings are a surprisingly successful way to introduce a modern element more relatable for a younger audience. Good touch.
I SUCKED this year at guessing the winners! Bohemian Rhapsody for sound editing, It did make great sense. But I still think a Quiet Place made better sense. But hey I got Roma right for foreign language film!
Bette Midler singing the song from Mary Poppins Returns. Song was kind of boring. Doesn’t make me excited to see the movie (the only one I planned to see this week and didn’t get to).
Charlize Theron and Daniel Craig — she could be Bond.
Best Supporting Actor contenders:
— Mahershala Ali won. A given, really. But why was he supporting, and Viggo lead? I don’t know. Anyway: Maheshala always seems like such a thoughtful, intelligent person. I dug his outfit, too. Not sure if he was my fave in the category fashion wise — they all looked pretty sharp.
Best line of the night: “I can’t believe a movie about menstruation just won an Oscar!”
First Man won for Visual Effects. I should know better than to bet against a space film. But seriously: Ready Player One had incredible effects!
So now the moment everyone is really waiting for, and it wasn’t an award. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the stage. And, I loved how they did the Shallow song. No intro needed. No fanfare. No upstaging anyone else. Evidently that was Bradley’s idea. The whole thing was planned — including the heat. I mean, they are actors. Do they have chemistry? Of course. But are they an item? No.
Spike Lee wins his first ever Oscar. One of the few truly political moments, but that’s who he is (I am sure there will be people bitching tomorrow about people preaching from the podium. Yawn.)
So happy that Lady Gaga won for best song! And she was so touched! Love it.
Interesting that Barbra Streisand introduced BlacKkKlansman, not A Star is Born. A little bit more politicking, but lowkey.
Best Actor contenders:
No shock Rami Malek wins best Actor. Didn’t know he was dating his costar from the movie! Ok so here’s why I don’t think Rami Malek should’ve won: his portrayal of Freddy Mercury doesn’t seem like a huge stretch from who he is as a person. He also needed someone straighten his darn tie on the red carpet. best dressed in this category? Viggo Mortenson.
Best Actress contenders:
Emily Coleman wins! She was wonderful, and I love how shocked she is. She seems like such a wonderful person and hilarious. Blowing a raspberry at the teleprompter: genius! A lot of people didn’t like her dress, but I think it was pretty cool. I think all these nominees looked fantastic. I am torn between Glenn Close and Lady Gaga for best dressed!
Here comes the original pretty woman, looking stun-NING.
Best picture…. Green Book! Green Book? Wow! I liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite of all the movies.
The show ends, but the party continues, and so does the fashion! Here are some after-party fashion moments:
That’s a wrap, folks. Now for me to get caught up on all the stuff on my DVR!
As you may know, I love a list. I also love movies, so when the Oscar nominations are announced I print out the official ballot and start my must-see to do list!
I try to watch movies throughout the year that are nomination contenders, but I usually fail a bit. The top movies are typically released at the end of the year, so it’s tough to get ahead of the game. But my goal is always to see as many nominated movies as possible. Ultimate goal (never realized!) is to see every movie nominated. At the very least? Every best pic nominee, and it’s a rare year when I don’t meet that requirement.
This year there were 52 movies covering 120 nominations. I ended up seeing only 16 — but they did cover 75 nominations, so I’ll take it! This year I am pretty sure I will get a lot of predictions wrong, as there are so many close races. In anticipation of the Academy Awards show tonight, here are my thoughts and predictions for some of the awards:
Best Actor: Willem Defoe, who played Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate, was good, but the movie was not what it could’ve been. It was hard to watch, as it was pretty much from a “madness” viewpoint. So he’s not a contender, really. Viggo Mortenson in Green Book played a pretty generic character (ignorantly racist Italian New Yorker hired to drive African American concert pianist around the deep south. Basically a flipped version of Driving Miss Daisy). Bradley Cooper was amazing, but he’s not going to win. For some reason Hollywood is NOT embracing A Star Is Born. I think there is something there we mortals just don’t all know. Maybe Cooper needs to do another amazing job as an actor/director so Rami Malek for Boehmian Rhapsody and Christian Bale for Vice. Oscar loves rewarding actors for playing real people (four of the last 6 best actor winners covered this territory). I am torn. I think Bale will win — and should win. Since seeing the movie I have had to google pictures of Dick Cheney to see the difference between the two. Malek was brilliant, but let’s be honest: playing Freddie Mercury is all about over acting, which Malek does superbly. So: Christian Bale.
Sound Editing: A Quiet Place. I mean, it’s a movie that is all about sound. So maybe the sound should get the best actor award?
Documentary: I only saw one, and I think the Academy is as trendy as anything else. So: RBG (see this flick, btw!)
Best Actress: No one knows who Yaitzia Aparicio is, and have never seen her do anything other than Roma, so for all we know she is just being herself. Melissa McCarthy was great in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but playing such an unsympathetic character, and one who preys on the celebrity of movie stars, will not endear her to the voters. So it’s a three way race. Personally, I would love to see Star’s Lady Gaga win. She was fantastic. But she won’t. Glenn Close is a sentimental favorite — she has never won. She was the best thing about The Wife, and it wasn’t her best role. Olivia Coleman in The Favourite could steal it from her, if Close and Gaga split their vote. Coleman was hilarious and sweet and sad and heart breaking. But Oscar likes to throw old folks (ugh) a bone. So: Glenn Close.
Animated: didn’t see any of them. But I’m voting for Isle of Dogs because: Dogs.
Best Supporting Actor: No freaking idea. This one has good, but not amazing IMO performances. Maybe Richard Grant in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Maybe Star is Born’s Sam Elliott (again the old-timer’s-paid-his-dues reward). Adam Driver was good in BlackKKlansman, but we won’t remember it tomorrow. Sam Rockwell won last year for a better performance than this turn as Vice’s George Bush. Mahershala Ali DOES have some nuanced moments, and all the oddsmakers say it’s his to lose. So: Mahershala Ali.
Costume Design: Only saw two of them (Black Panther and The Favorite). I always root for period pieces here, and I am doing it again. The thing that makes Favourite different from others is that the outfits aren’t exactly accurate; instead, they read like a fashion house collection, with each dress having similar fabrics/colors/etc. A unique, modern twist. So: The Favourite.
Makeup: Vice. Period.
Best Supporting Actress: Favourite’s dueling nominees (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) cross each other put. Marona de Tavira in Roma: nope. Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk is the oddsmakers’ favorite, but I was underwhelmed. My hands downs favorite: Amy Adams in Vice. Her Lynne Cheney was eerie, scary, hateful and sympathetic. So: Amy Adams.
Score: If Beale Street Could Talk. Loved the music, and it really sets the movie’s tone.
Song: Shallow. Let’s face it: this is the consolation prize for A Star is Born.
Foreign Language: I only saw Roma — and I am giving it the nod. Eager to watch Cold War, though.
Directing: Roma which means...
Best Picture: So I don’t have a favorite here – really. I would watch almost all of them again. Black Panther? I don’t get it. It was fine. BlackKKlansman? Cool story, great acting, well done, but I think it’s a one and done. Green Book? Same thing. I adored The Favorite, A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody!!! That leaves Roma, which will win. Why? Several reasons: Oscar likes to take itself seriously, even if it doesn’t understand why. It can’t choose between the others (and it’s all about sending a message), and Roma is inscrutable enough that no one can argue about its artistic merit. It’s also a Netflix property, and a win here could send a big ass message to the industry that the times they are a-changing. But let’s be honest: this is gonna be like other winners that no one watched again (Ghandi, Chariots of Fire). So: Roma.
Just for giggles, here’s my personal ranking of the 16 movies I watched:
A Star is Born
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
At Eternity’s Gate
If Beale Street Could Talk
Lately I have done an ungodly amount of online shopping. Some for fun stuff, some for practical. Mainly it’s because I haven’t had a huge amount of free time (more on that in another post), but have had a to do list longer than the preamble to the Constitution. So as I realize I need something, I have pulled out my phone or clicked on my laptop, knowing that it will be faster for me to just fricking press a button. Needed detergent, so ordered Tide on Amazon. Thought of some gift ideas for Valentine’s and upcoming birthdays, so clicked on the ads that popped up on Facebook. All of our storage containers had ugly divorces, so I had mismatched tops and bottoms with no reconciliation in sight. So ordered up the stuff — and that”s where this story begins.
Yesterday a bunch of boxes arrived. Some I had ordered (the afore-mentioned bday gifts, plus some amazeball shoes from Nordstrom. Damn you and your suggestions, whowhatwear.com). Then HWSNBN handed me an envelope.
It was addressed to me. So far so good.
From Walmart (I don’t remember ordering anything from Walmart?).
And it contained two packages of grey polka dotted paper straws. (um, what?)
This was interesting. I almost asked my husband if this was his doing but knew that wouldn’t be right. Wondered if this was some long-ago purchase that had just been fulfilled — like maybe for a party? But no, haven’t done any grey themed parties lately (and frankly who would want to attend one?). Texted Singer Girl and Sailor Boy. Asked if they had ordered them and accidentally had them shipped here. Oddly enough they both answered in record time. “Uh, no.” Didn’t think so, but had to ask.
Put them aside and attempted to watch another episode of True Detective, but as it was 830pm (yes, really) and (as I said) my life has been a bit frazzled, fell asleep. Dragged my carcass to bed. Dreamt about the straws.
The packing ship showed they were ordered from a Lin Li in Brooklyn. Who? Brooklyn? Why? In my dreams I wondered if they were tainted with anthrax or something (why?). Woke up determined to get to the bottom of it.
First I checked on walmart.com, and confirmed that I had not, in fact, ordered anything. Contacted customer service and explained the situation. They told me I did order it — in an order for food storage containers. Pause.
Now, as I said, I did order food storage containers. They had already arrived, but there was something weird there, too. There were too many. I was puzzled, but chalked it up to ordering while exhausted. I mean, at some point there will be another parting of the lids and I will need more, so what the heck. I put both the set I remembered ordering and the one I didn’t into the cabinet. But the straws?
I explained I did not order them. She said I did. Via Amazon. Which made sort of sense — because, as I said, I had no recollection ordering anything from Walmart, but had been meeting my Amazon Smile account happy lately. Opened a new tab on the computer, and checked: nope. My Amazon order only contained the 42 piece set. I did not order the others.
Yes, you did.
No, I didn’t.
The first customer service rep, Genesis X, said I would need to talk to someone else and disconnected me. Um, no. So I reconnected, and pasted the entire screenshot conversation I had already had for the reading pleasure of Aura C. She started doing some digging.
Did I have an email? Yes, I did. And it confirmed my side of the story.
Which address did I use? Gave her my address. No, she said that’s not right. Asked if they had listed Wayzata (we share a post office, so the cities are often interchanged). Nope. Insisted I hadn’t lied anywhere else in almost 5 years. She insisted there was another address, and that she couldn’t help me until I confirmed the mystery location.
Baffled pause on my end.
I begged for a hint — a clue — a street name? A city?
Brooklyn, she replied. Ah ha! I grabbed the packing receipt, and explained that it said someone from Brooklyn had ordered the straws and sent them to me. What does that mean?
A pause on her end.
Then it was done. Basically, she said I wasn’t charged and could keep the items or return them to the store. Thanks for my business! Have a good day!
I mean, I’m off the hook, which is grand. But what about poor Lin Li in Brooklyn? Did get charged? I hope not! And how did he get my address — I assume that was a goof on Walmart’s end. And is he sitting somewhere, unable to store his leftovers, and with sad, grey, incomplete party decorations?
SO many questions. Few answers.
But I have an ungodly amount of Rubbermaid storage containers. And some straws.
So there’s that.
(BTW: did you know that if you order through the Amazon Smile program, your charity of choice gets a kickback? All my purchases benefit Secondhand Hounds!).
Hi! Petty fashion moment here! I love award season, and all the amazing clothes I can’t afford to wear and don’t have the body to do so anyway. I am scheduling all the movies I need to see for the Oscars, and the Golden Globes are often a precursor to both who will win, and what the fashions will be like. We have some cool names in the running this year — especially in terms of taking risks on the red carpet.
I love the folks who do something new and cool and interesting — I mean, Cher in her acting heyday was the one I would most want to be like if I had the chance, lol.
Today my blog is all about who wore what and what I thought of the outfits. I am not naming designers (I am sorry — I know they deserve a mention, but honestly: this little blog will neither make nor break anyone’s career), just sharing what I liked, what I didn’t, my opinions on trends, etc. I tried to put captions on most photos. Clothes do not make the man: just because I do (or do not) like someone’s outfit, does not equate how I think of their work. I am sure they are all lovely people.
Enjoy (and let me know if you concur!) Hope
Let’s start with co-hostess Sandra Oh:
Flawless. Elegant. Smart. Hair, makeup, jewelry. I love all three looks. If I had to pick one, I would probably pick the red. I love color. Which leads me to my first “ensemble” category: Women of COLOR!
Next group wore my absolute least favorite dress trend of the past too many years: flesh colored dresses. Yeah, I know the official term is blush, but all I see is mono-chromatic skin tones.
Two women got the trend right for different reasons:
On the opposite side of the spectrum: widow chic.
From death’s door to virginal: the prom dress look.
And then there is Heidi Klum. I liked her dress at first — then I saw the second picture. She looks like a teenager showing off her dress at the school dance. Not a good luck. Auf wiedersehn.
Now let’s look at something completely different: the guys. I LOVE that the men are taking chances. It used to be so boring, and they were just the picture frame for their date. Now they get to live it up. Some are all that — some are not that at all.
Starting with the classics:
Is white the way?
How about the velvety underground:
And how about a shout out to Idris Elba? All buttoned up or a little loose around the edges, man is foyne. (damn that Fiji water girl in the background)
Young Hollywood is going it’s own way — which is good and not so great.
Perhaps the best look of the night for men — following in the Cher school of thought: Billy Porter. Yaaas!
And now a look at my three favorite couples from the evening. I wish HWSNBN and I cleaned up this well!
Before I go to the big categories, I’m going to list my runners -up. The folks that were THAT close to awesome — or hideous.
And now: the worst looks of the night. The what were you thinking? The fire the stylist in the morning — or buy a new mirror looks.
So that of course just leaves my favorites. For so many reasons!
Thanks for indulging my inner Joan Rivers. I’ll try to write about something less trivial next time (oh who am I kidding?)
New Year’s Day. For some, it’s a day to rest or maybe recover. Last night we knew we weren’t feeling a big to-do, so instead dined out with the dearest of friends, then did pjs and TV. About 11:40pm, attempted to watch ball drop but forgot we are in the wrong time zone. Yawned. Explained to dogs the concept of fireworks: Abby, the foster, wanted to bark them into submission. Stevie Nicks, the resident, stared frantically at weird corners of the house, searching for ghosts. Applied a little calming oils to them, turned off the lights and prayed for the best.
A restless night, an early morning sub-zero potty break and a 5am nap on the couch and I was ready to face the new year.
So what does that mean? Resolutions are traditional. I like traditions — but I also like to shake things up. I also love a good to-do list. So, for the past few weeks I have been taking notes on things I both want and need to accomplish. Some are new, some are embarrassingly old. Some require dedication and a lengthy commitment, some can frankly be a one and done. Some are tangible, some are spiritual. All are worthy in their own right — to me.
I figure if I put this out in the universe, I will feel held accountable. I will try to update every month here (see resolution #2) for my sake, and perhaps your curiosity (I am perhaps flattering myself to thank that anyone else cares about this crap. But I digress.)
- I’ll start with the one that everyone has: lose weight (one pound per week before our vaca to Jamaica in April). I’ve already posted a reminder in the kitchen:
- Blog more regularly! And if I don’t have anything to say, I best get out there and create some interesting stories!
- Take more bubble baths.
- Clean out this garbage collecting under the deck:
- Be in more pictures, not just be the one taking them.
- Attend a show at First Avenue (can’t believe I have never done this! http://first-avenue.com/)
- Use all the gift cards we’ve bought at auctions (there are soooo many)
- Clean out this weird box in which I have been piling crap since 2017. Almost afraid to see what’s in there.
- Make progress on my genealogy search, and plan a trip to get more info.
- Organize and purge this collection of cords.
- Fight less with Singer Girl
- Frame and hang all the old family photos from his side and mine.
I think that’s enough for now. Twelve months, 12 resolutions on my to do list. Ill keep you posted.
How about you? What do you need to FINALLY get done???
So no sleeping in today: we had ground to cover.
First up was sustenance, and I needed a bloody Mary. HWSNBN insisted I would never find one. Seriously: he has no faith in my investigative prowess!
Camera in hand, we set off to the tram station (no directional errors this time) and headed to a neighborhood known as the Jordaan. It’s very cute, full of shops and restaurants and kitsch. I had found a restaurant called Gs, and we feasted. we got there just in time, as the tiny place filled up fast and a line formed. We almost felt guilty, sitting in our little window seat, feasting and sipping. I got the Dirty South: cheddar waffles, fried chicken and bacon with hot sauce, and a Hete Ketel bloody (served with spicy Ketel One vodka). Actually, I didn’t feel guilty at all. I felt content. Fat and happy. Ready to roam!
Next we searched for a cool shop I’d heard of, hoping to find a souvenir for the girl. Rock Archive (http://rockarchive.nl/) specializes in knock out concert photographs of iconic performers. I really wanted to buy a Led Zeppelin one, but they started at $600. Seeing as my souvenir was a mug, I left the photos in the shop (but truly: check the place out if you are in town).
Now it was just time to explore and enjoy this beautiful city, from it’s quirky shop windows to it’s stunning architecture.
One cool thing about Amsterdam are the gevelstenen, or house plaques. These were put on buildings before addresses were invented, and are ways for folks to find homes. Some indicate the business of the building’s occupants, many are religious, and some convey philosophies or morals of the home owners. Here are two I saw:
We made our way to the oldest part of Amsterdam, and visited the Oude Kirk, or “old church.” It’s a huge space — and the oldest building in Amsterdam (built in 1213). The irony of course is that t is now in Der Wallen, the red light district. While touring, I had to nudge HWSNBN who was intently listening to his audio guide, and point out the view from the window — of a lovely lady proffering her wares from a window in the next door building!
Other snapshots of the city as we strolled around:
That night we decided to wing it. We started out by wandering towards the Rijksmuseum, to see the famous outdoor ice skating rink (and get a drink, of course).
As for dinner, we decided to grab food from street vendors and shops as we craved it. Asian food is big there, so steaming hot noodles on the go in the chilly rain seemed perfect to start!
We wandered the Red Light District, admiring the views (the women were so much prettier than I expected!), catching a drink here and there, and noshing some more. The Dutch are famous for waffles, and we had one dripping in molten milk chocolate that was to die for (we ate it so fast I forgot to get a picture!).
After the crazy weirdness of Der Wallen, I searched Trip Advisor for a nice bar near by, and we found an oasis: Bar the Tailor, inside the Hotel Krasnapolsky (https://www.barthetailor.com/). We had fancy cocktails, and a charcuterie plate, and sank into the plush cushions. We had planned to head back to the hubbub, but we just kind of realized we were happy where we were. We finished our drinks in happy silence, then headed back for our last sleep before heading home the next day.
The nice thing about a vacation is getting to relax and set your own schedule.
The tough thing about a mini-vaca is that you are pressed for time and you want to fit everything in.
Those warring sentiments hit us in the face like a cold cup of much-needed coffee when we woke up for the first full day of our Amsterdam jaunt — at noon. Dutch time.
We scrambled to focus and get ready for the day, wondering where we ought to be wandering. We had set evening plans, so our focus became quality, not quantity. I laced up my oh-so-appropriate sneakers and we headed off to the Van Gogh museum.
This was actually third on my list of museums to see, and the only one we actually made it to. First was Anne Frank’s house, but a spur of the moment trip sometimes means not getting into sold out things. Evidently you need to reserve months in advance. We were told to stalk the website day of, and tried for both our full days in Amsterdam, but did not get in. One of the many reasons for a return trip!
Second on the list was the Rijksmuseum, which is huge and has Vermeers, Rembrandts and more. Next time (with more time)!
So the Van Gogh museum: we loved it (https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/). Way better than I thought it would be. With the audio headphones on, we wandered and wondered, learned and admired and wondered. Every few rooms we’d ask each other which were our favorite pieces (we both adored his “Almond Blossoms” the most!), but I was fascinated by the variety of his work. So many different styles and subject matters. I would’ve been hard pressed to ID some of them as his. But when it was time to go, I took my fave piece of art with me:
(While learning about Van Gogh’s life, we came up with a great idea: planning a trip around the life of a famous person. For example: for Van Gogh, you would do Paris, Saint Remy, Brussels, London, Amsterdam and more. Not a bad itinerary!)
After the museum we wandered through the rain in search of nourishment — both the food and liquid varieties. Found another great neighborhood bar, Cafe Gruter (http://cafegruter.com/en), and greatly enjoyed the cozy respite from the elements.
That evening we were scheduled to do a boat tour of the canals, focusing on the light show. The entire city is crazy with lights this time of year, and some of the displays are best seen from the water. For more about the festival, go to https://amsterdamlightfestival.com/en.
I had booked a small boat tour, with just 8 of us aboard. We thought we had plenty of time — and we would have, if I hadn’t screwed up the directions.
A word about the transportation system: the trams are the bomb. No worries about if you are on the right train, or how to buy a ticket; unlike most cities, the system is not done without human interaction. Each tram has attendants, and they are there to help. Sadly, this time I thought I knew what I was doing, and didn’t ask for assistance. Instead, I relied on my Google Maps app. It was right: take the tram towards Centraal Station. But Is topped reading; while we were supposed to head that way, we were supposed to get off before we reached the station. We didn’t.
So now we needed to backtrack, and we were going to be late And it was raining. We ran in circles trying to get our bearings. I called the boat — someone actually answered! They said no problem. So stressful, as we new others were waiting on us. We ended up being almost 20 minutes late!
Luckily the other guests were drinking wine and nibbling on snacks, so they were cool. And the company was so gracious, they extended the tour so we all got our money’s worth. I would totally recommend them! If you head to Amsterdam, be sure to book a canal cruise through Pure Boats (https://pureboats.nl/). They were wonderful!
The lights were stunning.
After the tour, we paired up with two cousins who were also from the states, and found dinner at Restaurant Bleu (https://www.restaurantbleu.amsterdam/). The food was as delicious as the restaurant was stunning.
After awhile we realized the staff was waiting for us to leave so they could go home — always a good sign of a good time! We said goodbye to our new friends, and wandered back to the hotel for a night cap and some well needed rest. I warned HWSNBN that the next day, our last full one in Amsterdam, was gonna be busy, so he’d better be ready!
HWSNBN has done a lot of European travel for work this past year. While not always great for either of us, we have decided to take full advantage of all those frequent flyer miles, and my flexible retirement schedule. He recently mentioned he needed to go to Belgium for a trip, and would I like to tag along ad meet him in Amsterdam ? So I checked my schedule for the least difficult weekend to bail on my responsibilities, and off we went!
I had been to Amsterdam several times, but only in the airport (seems all flights from Minneapolis go through there). We had bandied about the idea of using Amsterdam as a departure for another location, as he didn’t think we could find enough to do there. Silly man. He still underestimates my epic planning skills! I knew we would never get it all done in the long weekend (Thursday-Sunday) we were there. I was right (shocking, I know).
He arrived in Amsterdam on Wednesday, and had meetings through Thursday night, which meant I’d be on my own until he could escape from work. He apologized, but I knew I’d be fine. Pretty sure I could travel anywhere solo and find ways to entertain myself!
I arrived midday Thursday, and had arranged a one one one tour for myself through an AMAZING company called With Locals (https://www.withlocals.com/). You should check them out (they are all over the world): you pick your own guide, based on little bios on the website. Into fashion and shopping? Pick this guide! A foodie? This one’s for you! I chose mine based on my love of history and architecture. Ente was fantastic. We spent three hours wandering, discussing how the city evolved with the political and economic changes of the times. Every time we turned a corner (and there were many — old cities built around canals have lots of corners), he pointed out something new about a building or a location, pulling out old maps and drawings to show context. Some folks might’ve been bored; I was fascinated.
Afterwards I moseyed back towards the Museumplain, or museum district, where our charming hotel was. We were staying at the Hotel Vondel (https://www.hotelvondel.com/en). Holiday lights and shop window decorations always delight me. Whether whimsical or charming or just plain head-shaking, I think they are often a glimpse into a city’s personality.
HWSNBN being still in a dinner meeting, I wandered the misty streets, looking for a cozy brown bar to have a beer and dinner. A brown bar or cafe is an old place with lots of wood and smoke tinted walls — no, they don’t smell gross and dirty. They just feel old and welcoming! A quick Trip Advisor app search (smart phones are saviors, lemme tell ya) led me to Gollem’s Proeflokkal (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g188590-d2405892-Reviews-Gollem_s_Proeflokaal-Amsterdam_North_Holland_Province.html), where I cozied up to a beer and bitteballen, a traditional Dutch snack of deep fried dough and ground meat.
Perfect for enjoying the happy sounds of a neighborhood bar, while watching the world pass by. HWSNBN finished his meeting and met me, and we enjoyed more food and drink as we planned our attack on the next few days!
So just a quick follow up from yesterday (betcha didn’t think I’d post again this fast!)
As soon as Stevie Nicks (fka as Sissy) arrived, I did her DNA and sent it out, The results came in this morning!
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard all sorts of thoughts on what she was — a doodle (my bet), an Irish Wolfhound (my daughter’s dream), a wheaten terrier (I was worried about that one, as they are notoriously hyper) and the latest: a Tibetan terrier. had to google that one: she does look like it! So, what is she?
Reading about the various breeds, as described by the good folks at Wisdo Panel, I can see it:
Great Pyrenees: “Can be standoffish and wary with strangers and has a tendency to bark.” Yeah, that sounds like her. She is a tad nervous when new folks arrive, but quickly warms up (the submissive peeing is getting better, thankfully). She is, unfortunately, much barkier than I am used to. Hoping to get some training ricks to work on that. Like a Great Pyr, she is so soft and fluffy! She has a white streak down her chest that I just love to pet! People often comment on how mellow she is for a puppy, and the Great Pyr litters I have been around are kinda dopey, sweet, chill animals.
Standard Poodle: “Have a sensitive nature and respond well to motivational tools such as treats or favorite toys in a reward-based approach to training.” Yeah, she is so into the food. All the food. She learned sit too quickly: when she goes outside to potty, she knows which pocket my treats are in and sits, rather than potties, to get food. We are working on that, too.
Golden Retriever: “Happy-go-lucky, calm, or easy-going dogs, although some can be energetic or nervous. Usually friendly and are generally good family dogs.” Sounds about right. Also food motivated, like the Great Pyr and poodle. We have already caught her stealing food, pantry surfing like her predecessor. Not good. Working on the food whore-dom.
Terrier group: this one they don’t know which terrier, just that some scruffy business is in there.
Her family tree:
So basically she has purebred grandparents and great grandparents. Then someone created a goldendoodle (my guess!), and a pure bred Great Pyr slummed it with a third-generation mutt. Then their kids hooked up, and we got Stevie.
My fave thing about this is that, most likely, we got the good genes from all the breeds. They also did her health history, and she genetically only carries markers to sightly increase her chances of two illnesses, both that we can all work with. Her adult size is estimated to get to 40-70 pounds, which is just fine with us. I mean, let’s be honest: we’d be fine with whatever she ends up being!