Day 104 : Tilapia-en-Papillote – there’s something fishy about this recipe!

My beautiful fish dinner - too bad Big Daddio doesn't eat fish

My beautiful fish dinner – too bad Big Daddio doesn’t eat fish

Back home, back to work and back to having to cook for myself instead of going to fabulous restaurants for every meal.  I don’t think I even had  lunch today, but I guess I could afford to miss a meal after the eat-a-thon we had this weekend.

I decided to stop at the store and pick up the ingredients for a recipe I pinned last week for Tilapia-en-Papillote – fish in parchment paper. Usually I’m kind of afraid to cook fish, but I’ve had something like this in a restaurant and it was good.  How could I go wrong?  This is from a blog called Southern Boy Dishes.  There are lots of good recipes there and I will definitely go back and check out some of the other dishes.  Here’s the link:  http://www.southernboydishes.com/2013/01/17/tilapia-en-papillote/.

The only really time consuming part of this recipe is cutting the julienne vegetables.  I was hoping that I had a julienne blade for my food processor, but after looking thru the box it appears that I don’t have one.  I think I might order one, because it’s somewhat time-consuming and mine didn’t look quite as good as the picture in the recipe.

The julienned vegetables.  I think they look pretty good.

The julienned vegetables. I think they look pretty good.

Since I wasn’t quite sure how to do this process, I checked out a video online for directions.  Here’s the link, in case you find yourself in a similar situation:  http://www.videojug.com/film/chef-skills-how-to-julienne.  I think I did a pretty good job with the cutting.  No missing fingers!

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the double-sided parchment paper mentioned in the blog that has parchment paper on one side and foil on the other.  I’m going to keep looking because it sounds like it would be pretty handy.  I just had to use plain parchment paper which is easy enough to find.

I assembled everything as directed and wrapped it up to look as much like the picture as possible.  I cooked the four packets for 20 minutes and then another 5 minutes just in case.  I’m always afraid I’ll undercook fish and get some kind of food poisoning.  Big Daddio says that won’t happen, but I’d rather not take a chance.

This boiling-over trick really works!

This boiling-over trick really works!

I also made some rice using the wooden-spoon-over-the-pan method that Brooke taught me a couple of weeks ago.  I put everything on a plate very artfully.  I thought it turned out very beautiful – almost like a restaurant presentation.  I have to say that it tasted quite good. I did have to use a different seasoning since I think I threw away my Old Bay seasoning in my last purge of out-of-date spices – but I didn’t think it hurt anything.  In fact, it was a little spicy and I like that.

What it looks like when it's all assembled.

What it looks like when it’s all assembled.

So that’s my adventure in cooking fish.  It was a nice and quick dinner.  I think I’ll try this again, but next time might try the author’s suggestion for using tomatoes and feta cheese.  Yum!

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Day 103: Last day in Chicago – so many restaurants left to try

I've been waiting to try this restaurant all weekend - Florentine

I’ve been waiting to try this restaurant all weekend – Florentine

Well, I knew this day would come.  The last day of my fabulous Chicago trip and there are LOTS of restaurants that we still haven’t tried.  So today’s big goal is going to be to eat at least two really good restaurants.  In order to accomplish this we need to get started early and walk enough that we will be able to eat all that food.  This means that Big Daddio is going to have to SHOP!

One thing Big Daddio really doesn’t like to do is shop.  He’s always talking about how men “buy” and women “shop”.  He usually needs something – shoes or pants – but when we get to a store he never fails to say “I don’t feel like shopping right now”.  But he did mention that he really needs  some shoes, so I figured he would be good for at least a little while.

The "Wine Cellar" at the Florentine.   It was a little too early in the morning to give this a try.

The “Wine Cellar” at the Florentine. It was a little too early in the morning to give this a try.

We started out the morning at the really good restaurant in our hotel, called Florentine.  I have walked past this place several times over the last couple days and was intrigued by the huge display of wine.  We got breakfast, so there wasn’t any wine drinking, but at least we got to see what it was like.  And we liked what we saw!  Here’s a link with the menu if you want to check it out before you go:  http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/chijw-jw-marriott-chicago/.  I had some wonderful French Toast  and Big Daddio had an omelet.  The only thing I didn’t love was that I had to pay an extra $6.00 for three pieces of bacon.  I’m just too cheap for that kind of thing!

A beautiful arrangement I saw at the restaurant.  I wonder if I could make this at home?

A beautiful arrangement I saw at the restaurant. I wonder if I could make this at home?

After our really good breakfast, we strolled down the street toward the stores.  It was still a little early, so I got a few pictures of some local landmarks.  Did you know that you can visit the Chicago Federal Reserve building?  It’s only open Monday-Friday, but it looked like it would be really interesting.  Here’s the link in case you want to go: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g35805-d561562-Reviews-Chicago_Fed_Visitors_Center-Chicago_Illinois.html.   I also got a really good (I think) picture of Sears Tower in the sunlight.  I only want to see it from the ground – I’m not crazy about those long elevator rides.

Did you know you can tour the Federal Reserve?

Did you know you can tour the Federal Reserve?

We did go to DSW and Big Daddio found not one, but two pairs of shoes.  As I predicted, it only took a few minutes and he was ready to go.  But he was a pretty good sport and walked with me to Macys and a number of other stores.  I really didn’t buy much, but that’s because I’m coming back next weekend and I want to save some of my money.

We spotted this restaurant and had to stop.

We spotted this restaurant and had to stop.

We decided that we had worked up enough of an appetite to walk back to a cute British-style pub that we spotted over by the hotel.  It was called Elephant & Castle and looked like a perfect place to get a beer and a little lunch.  Here’s a link to their site:  http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=elephant+and+castle+chicago&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8   I got a beer that I really liked.  It was the special of the day and was called “Chainbreaker White” by Deschutes Brewery .  I loved the light citrusy flavor.  Here’s the link to the brewery if you’re interested in beer:  http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/brew/chainbreaker-white-ipa.   I even took a picture of the sign so I can remember the name when I want to order it again in the future.

My new favorite beer.  I took a picture so I could remember the name.

My new favorite beer. I took a picture so I could remember the name.

That was the end of our Chicago adventure.  Time to go home and finish our taxes and get back to real life.  At least I know I’ll be back again soon  – like in 5 days!

Day 102: More Chicago fun – why do I eat so much when I’m here?

I love my new address!

I love my new address!

What a treat to wake up in a beautiful place, knowing that I don’t have to do anything at all if I don’t want to!  And believe me, I didn’t do a lot today.  It was snowing when I woke up, which sort of discouraged me from my original plan of walking  to Michigan Avenue and do some shopping.  All of a sudden, some time in the spa started sounding really good.

The entrance to the spa - or should I say "Heaven"?

The entrance to the spa – or should I say “Heaven”?

They have a really beautiful spa in our hotel.  They have things like “The Preparation Room” and “The Transformation Room”.  These are just basically quiet, comfortable rooms where you can sit and relax before and after your “experiences”.  The guide told me that you can bring your family members in there with you.  All I could think was “why would I want to bring Big Daddio in there with me?”  I really don’t think it’s his kind of thing.  Here’s a link to the website for the spa:  http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/fitness-spa-services/chijw-jw-marriott-chicago/.

A very relaxing looking arrangement in the spa

A very relaxing looking arrangement in the spa

Anyway, I spent several hours having my “experiences” and then just sitting in those rooms, reading magazines and basically thinking about nothing.  It was very relaxing.  So relaxing that I needed a little nap after I finished!  Talk about a “wind down” day!  At one point I had someone working on my toes and another woman working on my eyebrows.  I felt like a Kardashian!

Interesting things to see everywhere we look.

Interesting things to see everywhere we look.

After so much exertion, I convinced Big Daddio that we should take a walk around the neighborhood before dinner.  It was a cold day, but there were lots of great sights to see as we made our way toward the river near the Trump Tower.  We went past the Sears Tower – I think it’s called something else now, but it was always the Sears Tower when I lived in Chicago.  We saw a few hearty souls out on boat tours of the river.  That looked a little too chilly for me!

A really good restaurant if you like steak or seafood - that should cover pretty much everyone, right?

A really good restaurant if you like steak or seafood – that should cover pretty much everyone, right?

Once we had worked up an appetite it was time to go to dinner.  We went with a group to a great steakhouse called Smith and Wollensky. Here’s a link to the restaurant:  http://www.smithandwollensky.com/locations-2/chicago/.  It was one of those places that has really expensive but really good aged steaks.  The food was all fabulous, but I had to kind of forget how much everything cost because otherwise I would have been obsessing about how we could eat for a week for that amount!

The views at night at great

The views at night at great

On the walk back to the hotel we walked past several theaters and even got to watch a little of the evening news being taped at the local TV station.  It was a great evening and I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow with another day to spend in the city!

Day 101: My kind of Town, Chicago is!

Can't see a view like this in our little small town!

Can’t see a view like this in our little small town!

After a quick re-pack, we just arrived in Chicago for a few days.  It’s always so much fun to be in the city and we haven’t been here in a couple of months so I’m really looking forward to our stay.   This trip is for a conference that Big Daddio is attending – I’m just going along as the trailing spouse.  From experience, I can tell you that there’s nothing better than being a trailing spouse at one of these events.  You get all the benefits without any of the work!

The beautiful lobby of our hotel

The beautiful lobby of our hotel

There are only a couple of expectations of me this weekend.  I have to attend several very elaborate and expensive meals, I need to get spa “experiences” at least a couple of days and I should also do some shopping.  I think I can handle it.  In fact, I’m just the woman for this job!

We checked into our very nice hotel.  It is a little south of the river, in the “loop” area.  This is actually very nice, since this is more of the business area of the city and that means it’s not too crowded on the weekend.  But there is still plenty to do and see in this part of town, so don’t feel bad for me even if it’s a little bit of a walk to the Magnificant Mile.

Our room is very nice!

Our room is very nice!

We are staying at the JW Marriott Chicago.  Here is a link to the official website:  http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/chijw-jw-marriott-chicago/.  The hotel is in an older building that has been renovated into a beautiful hotel.  Apparently the designer of the building is “the renowned Daniel Burnham”.  I’m not sure who he is, but the hotel is very, very nice.

Another pretty shot in the hotel.  I hardly knew where to start.

Another pretty shot in the hotel. I hardly knew where to start.

After enjoying a really good lunch with the other conference attendees (the beer cheese soup was excellent), I headed out with a friend to discover the local shopping sites.  I’m pretty familiar with the North Michigan area, but haven’t been on State street too much.  I knew that the old Marshall Field’s store (now Macy’s) was there, but was surprised to find lots of other great stores including the largest DSW shoe store I’ve ever seen, Anthropologie (one of my favorites) and a Nordstrom rack.  In other words, plenty of shopping with no need to walk any further.  Which is good because the weather is pretty crummy here today.

Some of the great street art in the city

Some of the great street art in the city

The evening festivities included a fabulous dinner event at a local corporate facility.  The food was amazing and the views of the nighttime skyline were magnificent.  It was really a treat to be there and all of the food was very innovative.  I had a chicken roulade with some kind of cheesy risotto that was out of this world.  Of course, I ate and drank way too much and will be paying the price next week when I can’t fit into any of my clothes!

I’ve included a few of my favorite pictures, but the whole place is such a feast for the eyes that I hardly know which ones to choose.  I did have one additional thought on my comments yesterday about drawing analogies from photography into life truths.  Here we go – me being deep again!

I loved this dress in Brooks Brothers.  I wanted a picture in case I ever need to buy it!

I loved this dress in Brooks Brothers. I wanted a picture in case I ever need to buy it!

I have noticed that  I often see things that don’t look like they will make a good picture because they’re uninteresting, unappealing or just down right ugly.  However, if I focus in very closely on one specific attribute of that unattractive thing I can often find some bit of beauty.  There seems to be a life lesson in there somewhere and I wonder how often we could find something beautiful in a person if we just took the time to look closely enough.

Sorry, don’t mean to get all philosophical on you.  Just had that little nugget rolling around in my head all day!

Day 100: Kind of a milestone – I’m giving myself the day off!

I just picked a picture I like.  I didn't even take it - is that against the rules?

I just picked a picture I like. I didn’t even take it – is that against the rules?

Sometimes I have to laugh at myself because of all the “rules” I make for myself about my blog!  Here I am at day 100 and I have this whole mental dialogue about whether it’s ok to take a day off from blogging.  And once I decide it’s ok, I feel the need to write about it, so I am still blogging anyway!

This will be a quick one – I think!  I never really know what is going to come out once I start writing, so I’m as surprised as anyone at what I end up with.  I had an interesting discussion with my brother the other day about writing a blog.  I was encouraging him to start one – I think he would enjoy it and he’s always writing witty and entertaining things anyway.  His response surprised me – he said he couldn’t do it because it would just stress him out.  He is a perfectionist and he said he knew he would read and reread everything a million times before he posted it.  He said he would never feel like anything was “ready” and it would just be a source of frustration to him.

writer

This had never occurred to me before.  I’m sure it will come as no surprise to my readers that I do not stress for long periods of time about what I write.  I almost never re-write anything once it’s down “on paper” and I hardly ever think about it before or after I do the writing.  I just dash something off, press publish and that’s usually the last I ever think about it.  I guess my brother must have in mind writing something a lot “deeper” than anything I ever do.

I will be a bit introspective today, since I have no project or anything “tangible” to share.  This whole journey – I hate to make it sound anymore important than what it is, but for me it is a journey  – has been kind of valuable for me.  Sometimes I just feel kind of annoyed that I “have to write my blog for the day” but once I start I’m always glad I did.  And as I look back thru my posts it is kind of nice to have a written record of what’s going on in my life.  It makes me feel more connected with the world in general and I find myself looking at lots of things in a different way.

A "cluttered" picture, but it looks good.

A “cluttered” picture, but it looks good.

For instance, I’ve been taking a lot more pictures lately and something occurred to me.  The best pictures seem to be one of two things – either really simple, clean and uncluttered or of things that are very cluttered, full or busy.  It’s the kind of in-between stuff that is usually unappealing or uninteresting.  I got to thinking that maybe this is kind of a metaphor for life in general.  Are we happiest when we are either of one of those states – really simple and uncluttered or just full to the brim with activity, excitement, happiness, love or some combination of those things?  I think maybe that’s true for me, anyway.

Simple, but still so beautiful.

Simple, but still so beautiful.

Well, enough of my ramblings.  See – I managed to come up with 589 words and I didn’t even have anything to talk about.  I don’t think Big Daddio will be really surprised by that!

Day 99: Nectarine and Goat Cheese Crostini

This is a picture of what my attempt DID NOT look like.

This is a picture of what my attempt DID NOT look like.

Whew – I’m finally home and back to work.  Real work and Pinterest project work.  But don’t get too used to it because I’m only going to be home for two days and then I’m off to Chicago for another three days.  I’m already looking forward to all the great pictures and travel ideas I can get for my blog on that trip.

By necessity I needed to keep tonight’s project pretty quick and simple.  I still need to unpack, do laundry and re-pack for the next trip.  Also, we still have to finish our taxes!  I don’t know why we put this off so much every year, but it’s an annual tradition to rush around for a couple of days  – all the while asking ourselves why we didn’t get started earlier.  I have literally been sitting in a line at the Post Office at 11:55 pm many, many times.  Of course that was back in the day before you could do everything online, which is even more convenient for procrastinators like us!

Anyway, I saw a post in one of the blogs I follow (A Food Centric Life)  for Nectarine and Goat Cheese Crostini Appetizers.   Here is the link: http://afoodcentriclife.com/nectarine-and-goat-cheese-crostini/ .   I don’t know why, but this really appealed to me.  Maybe because it sounded kind of springy and fresh.  And I’m really ready for that, especially after being in Atlanta for a few days.  Unfortunately, it’s supposed to snow tonight so all my spring ideas may have to wait a couple of days.

I discovered that it’s hard to find nectarines at the grocery store this time of year.  As in impossible.  So I decided to improvise and buy a couple of peaches.  They’re pretty much the same thing, right?

At least I got the bread cutting right.

At least I got the bread cutting right.

I got right to work when I got home.  First I had to slice the bread diagonally (not too hard) and then mix up a butter, olive oil and granulated garlic mixture.  I didn’t know what granulated garlic was, so I just chopped up a couple of garlic cloves as fine as I could without cutting off my fingers.  I spread that on the bread and stuck it in the oven to crisp. Believe me, things started smelling good right away,

Ingredients I started out with, before things went haywire.  I totally forgot to use the pistachios!

Ingredients I started out with, before things went haywire. I totally forgot to use the pistachios!

Next I was supposed to prepare the peaches/nectarines for roasting.  Unfortunately, when I cut them in half they looked all gray and rotten.  Arghh – that made me mad because I paid quite a lot for them and I really needed them for the recipe – they have a title role!  Well, I couldn’t quit at that point or I’d basically have garlic bread – not too exciting.  So I started thinking about what else I could use and came up with the idea of  using some raspberry jam I had in the frig.

I spread the goat cheese and a little jam on the tops of the bread and proceeded to make the Balsamic Reduction suggested in the recipe.  This is simple – just boil down the vinegar with a little brown sugar until it’s kind of syrupy and then drizzle over the crostini.

My attempt did not look as good as the original - but I'm going to try this again!

My attempt did not look as good as the original – but I’m going to try this again!

Here’s what I can tell you – this tasted really good to me.  Kind of sweet, but the garlic and vinegar give it an interesting flavor.  I ate quite a lot of this because Big Daddio said it looked weird and he doesn’t like goat cheese.  Honestly!

Here’s what I can’t tell you – what the actual recipe would taste like.  But I’m no quitter and I’m going to try again.  I’ll give you a full report when I do!

Postscript:

After reading this to Big Daddio, he took exception to my comment that he doesn’t like goat cheese.  Turns out that  it’s the vinegar he objected to!  Just wanted to clear that up!

Day 98: Lunch at the Ritz Carlton – now that’s what I’m talking about

A great place for a nice lunch.

A great place for a nice lunch.

The day of the big game – University of Michigan vs. Louisville!  We were right down in the heart of things during the day.  They had a pep rally for Louisville on the block where we had lunch and we saw the team buses going down the street.  It was an exciting atmosphere and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Of course, once we got downtown we needed to get something to eat.  We checked out a few places and finally settled on the “Atlanta Grill” at the Ritz Carlton.  It was a beautiful hotel and restaurant and we thought it would be a good place to get away from the crowds on the street.  Here’s a link with the menu included:  http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Atlanta/Dining/AtlantaGrill/Menu.htm.

There were so many beautiful things to take pictures of here

There were so many beautiful things to take pictures of here

We had a nice table in the back.  I’m not sure if they put us back there because we had a baby, but it was a good spot for us.  The baby was perfect – never cried once!

We had good food – kind of an up-scale southern menu.  Big Daddio ordered chicken wings – probably the least “regional” thing on the menu.  At least the waitress talked him into getting the toasted grits.  She told him he needed to try them instead of getting boring fries.  I’m not sure he really loved them because there were quite a few left at the end of the meal.

rc9

I made a common mistake  – ordering without my glasses!  I thought I was getting a  pork barb-e-que sandwich.  I mentioned to Big Daddio later that it seemed kind of crunchy and he said ” why did you order a Crispy Pork Belly sandwich?”   Well, haha I don’t even know what a pork belly is, but I’m not sure I would have ordered it if I had.  That’s what I get for trying to squint my way thru the menu without putting my glasses on.

This reminds me of the time I went to lunch with my friend Gloria.  I tried reading the menu for awhile but finally had to ask her to read it for me.  I knew I was in trouble when I thought I saw “squirrel” as one of the menu items!

I loved seeing all the beautiful flowers.

I loved seeing all the beautiful flowers.

After lunch we were back out on the street, enjoying the sunshine, flowers and the beautiful sights.  I’ve included a few of my favorites – these were the best I could do armed with only the little camera on my phone.  I kept having to run and catch up with the group because I was getting distracted by all the interesting things to see. I’ve decided that really looking for good pictures makes me a lot more aware of my surroundings.  Just not sure my family appreciated myy new-found love of photography!

Another old building I would have checked out if I had a little more time.

Another old building I would have checked out if I had a little more time.

So, that’s all on our trip.  There’s still lots of things we didn’t see, so I’d like to go back again soon. Hopefully the inspirational quote on my mirror was right – The best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end!

Day 97: World of Coke – we had to do it!

Our trip to World of Coke was full of interesting sights.

Our trip to World of Coke was full of interesting sights.

I was in Atlanta once a number of years ago – probably at least 10 or 12.  I went with several girlfriends to visit another friend  who was living there at the time.  We had a lot of fun, except  that I caught one of the worst headcolds of my life that weekend.  I was miserable a lot of the time, looked like the walking dead and I’m sure my friends were terrified that I’d infect them with my terrible illness.  I think I started feeling better about the time we left, so a lot of the trip was wasted on me!

Even in my DayQuil-induced fog, I remember several things about that trip.  We toured some kind of historic plantation-style home.  I can’t remember much about it except that it was really pretty and I enjoyed it a lot.  I tried to figure out where it was so we could go this time but I couldn’t find it in any of the travel information I looked at.  If anyone knows what this might be, leave me a comment.

None of us opted for the $20 picture with the kind of scary looking Coke bear!

None of us opted for the $20 picture with the kind of scary looking Coke bear!

Anyway, another thing that I really enjoyed was visiting the World of Coke and I always thought it would be something that Big Daddio would like.  Based on that memory, I loaded up everyone (including the baby) and headed out on the MARTA again.  Even my son-in-law came along and he’s only lukewarm on tourist attractions.  At least the train was less crowded this time.

We still don't know the secret formula for Coke - although the said it was hidden in the vault.

We still don’t know the secret formula for Coke – although the said it was hidden in the vault.

We met my daughter Lauren downtown and after lunch (which I will describe in my next post) we walked several blocks to the World of Coke.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t terribly crowded and we got right in.  Which was a good thing because the baby kept us on a tight schedule.  We did discover that there are some perks to traveling with a stroller.  They kept escorting our whole party (baby included) to the front of the line!  I might just take a stroller to every crowded event that I go to from now on.

They had the Final Four tropy displayed  - pretty cool!

They had the Final Four tropy displayed – pretty cool!

I’ve included a number of pictures from our visit – there was a lot to see.  I think we all enjoyed the tasting room the most.  We got to try sodas from around the world and some of them were really BAD!  It was hard to believe that anyone would like those flavors.

So many "photo ops" !

So many “photo ops” !

Here’s a link with information about going to this attraction if you’re in town: http://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/.  It does cost $16 a person, so don’t go if you don’t have some time to spend (at least  a couple of  hours) and really like Coke! Big Daddio was especially impressed by the “free” bottle of Coke that they give you at the end of the tour.

That’s the story of our trip to the World of Coke!  I’ve got one more day of travel and then back to my projects.

Day 96: Just another day in paradise – vacation in Atlanta

One of the lovely views we saw on our pretty long walk

One of the lovely views we saw on our pretty long walk

When I go to a new place, I really like to do the tourist thing.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  If there’s a historic landmark, I want to see it.  I’m especially interested  in old homes and buildings and I’m lucky that Big Daddio is pretty good about going along with me.  I don’t know how much he is really likes old buildings, but he LOVES tourist gift shops and going out for snacks after the outing so he’s usually a pretty good sport.

Since we had a little time between Final Four games we decided to do some sight-seeing.  We weren’t very efficient about it – we were definitely slowed down by the huge crowds and traveling with a small baby.  But the weather was beautiful and we had a good time.

The Margaret Mitchell House - apparently she called it "the dump".  Looks pretty nice to me!

The Margaret Mitchell House – apparently she called it “the dump”. Looks pretty nice to me!

On the second day of our trip, we decided to go back into the city and tour the home of Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone with the Wind) and the Botanic Garden.  Both of these sounded interesting, so me, Big Daddio, Jordan and the baby started out (somewhat early) in the morning – well, I guess it was closer to the afternoon.  We hopped on the MARTA and took the 15 minute ride to the Mid-Town station.  This was one of the trips that I mentioned yesterday as being very full of boisterous basketball fans.  This kind of thing can be fun, but not quite so much when you’re trying to push a stroller with a 6-week old baby.  I wasn’t unhappy to get off that packed train.

We didn't really drink any beer at the Hudson Grille, but look at all the options!

We didn’t really drink any beer at the Hudson Grille, but look at all the options!

We walked a couple of blocks to the Margaret Mitchell house (here’s a link for more information: http://www.margaretmitchellhouse.com/).  I’m including a picture of this historic landmark, but I have to be honest and say that we never made it inside.  By the time we got there, we decided we were hungry and the baby needed to be fed and changed.  This is why you don’t get too much sightseeing done with a baby (and Big Daddio).  We went to a restaurant billed as “the best sports bar in Atlanta” – called the Hudson Grille.  The food was good, but it was a probably a little too bar-y for a baby.  The basketball fans (you just couldn’t get away from  them this weekend!) all seemed to be having a good time.

Piedmont Park - a beautiful place and we ALMOST made it to the Botanic Garden

Piedmont Park – a beautiful place and we ALMOST made it to the Botanic Garden

After that rather long stop, we walked on to the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Well, kind of.  It was a pretty long walk and both the baby and Big Daddio started to get kind of tired and cranky.  So we actually only made it to Piedmont Park, which is apparently adjacent to the Botanic Gardens.  The park was very nice and lots of people were out with their kids and dogs, which was no surprise because it was sunny and 75 degrees.

I would have liked to have seen the Botanic Gardens.  They sound really interesting and I’ve included the link here:  www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org/.  If you go to Atlanta and don’t have a small baby and a tired, hot husband I would recommend giving it a try!

So that is the story of our day of sightseeing.  Even though it didn’t go just as planned, it was a good time and we saw some interesting things!

Day 95: Fun in Atlanta – A really nice hotel and lots of good shopping

I love this little inspirational thought on my hotel mirror!

I love this little inspirational thought on my hotel mirror!

Vacationing in Atlanta with my kids and granddaughter is really fun.  REALLY FUN!  I can walk down the hall any time I want and get the baby. It doesn’t hurt that we are staying in a really nice hotel called the Le  Meridian Perimeter.  As I mentioned yesterday,  this is on the north side of Atlanta and about 20 minutes from downtown by MARTA.  But I actually think that’s a good thing because we’re not right in the middle of all the craziness, although there’s quite a few basketball fans here, too.

I loved this hotel!

I loved this hotel!

Another nice spot in the hotel - I couldn't resist taking a picture.

Another nice spot in the hotel – I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

The hotel is really artistic and kind of modern.  We have a large suite with a table large enough to host Thanksgiving!  I tried to get some good pictures, but this whole experience has convinced me that I need to get a better camera, especially if I’m going to do “travel blogging”!  There are some real disadvantages to using my phone.  I have been using Big Daddio’s new I-Phone but even that’s not so great.

I think this was called the library, but we never went in.

I think this was called the library, but we never went in.

One of the things we really liked about our stay was the “Lounge” right down the hall from us.  It was a large room with lots of couches, TVs, computers and best of all – Food!  They had a nice little buffet breakfast in the morning and a little cocktail hour from 5-9 in the evening.  You could stop in any time and get beverages and small snacks, like yogurt and power bars.  We spent quite a bit of time in that lounge and got to know the attendant pretty well – we were there for 4 nights!  She even gave Big Daddio a hug when we left.  I guess he made a pretty big impression!

We had a great time shoe and baby shopping in this Neiman Marcus.

We had a great time shoe and baby shopping in this Neiman Marcus.

Our first stop of the trip was to a nearby mall to go to Neiman Marcus.  We figured it was just about time for the baby to go on her first official shopping trip.  Of course she spent most of the time sleeping in her stroller while her mom and I oohed and ahhed over all the cute baby clothes.  We also spent a lot of time in the shoe department, while Big Daddio pushed the stroller around.  He claimed that it was a “chick magnet”.

I loved all the beautiful flowers  - so nice to see this time of year!

I loved all the beautiful flowers – so nice to see this time of year!

I’ve included a link for the hotel, just in case you’re interested in a nice place to stay.  I can highly recommend this one!  Here is the link: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3846.