February started off very strong. I headed over to Falls Church early on the 1st to enjoy shopping for bargain CDs at CD Cellar and dinner at Mad Fox (again, this time at the bar). Then I went into DC to see the legendary Robert Plant ably backed by Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller. As much as I enjoyed the new songs and the Zep classics, the thrill was finally seeing him do “Tall Cool One” live (my fifth time seeing him, but never seeing him solo).

Plant and Patty

On the 6th we were invited to the Jewell’s annual Super Bowl party. I made tortilla encrusted wings and we got there a little before kickoff. A good game, decent commercials, great food and friends – what more could you ask for?

Wednesday the 9th we saw The Greencards at the Barns. We’d seen them at the Austin City Limits festival and Jill really liked them, and it was their first Barns appearance. They’re now a four piece, and had a tight, fun show with tunes from all their CDs, including one about to be released.

Saturday the 12th was Jill’s company party, decidedly lower key than last year. But the Hilton Garden Inn was very nice, and the food was decent, and the folks we sat with were fun. And Jill brought home decorations from the white elephant swap.

The next day I went to a comic book show for the first time in at least a decade. I had two reasons to go, a) I missed ordering a number of comic books during the move, and b) I might rent a table at one soon to try and get rid of the ones I don’t want faster (selling on eBay is very time intensive). What I didn’t expect was the deals they have on graphic novels and collections – next time I’ll have a list of what I need.

We hadn’t made plans for Valentine’s Day because of Jill’s schedule, but she ended up being free that night. She wanted Indian food, so we went to Angeethi for dinner. They had a very tasty 5 course special, I really enjoyed the tandoori lamb.

Friday the 18th it actually got above 70 and Lake Thoreau finished thawing. I planned for it and went to work early so I could get home by 4:30 and sit out on the deck with the paper and the dog. I really missed being able to sit outside during the winter, can’t wait for springtime.

I had a LivingSocial deal for Eventide that was about to expire, so we ran some errands in Falls Church and ended up in Clarendon for dinner on Saturday. We were early and sat at the bar first, then went upstairs. We started off with salads, then split the lobster risotto fritters. I had the pork tenderloin and Jill had the stuffed chicken, then split the fabulous apple pie for dessert.

Thursday the 24th we took the Jewell’s daughter Olivia out as an early graduation present. We had tapas at La Tasca in DC, then went across the street to the Verizon Center to see Lady Gaga. She puts on an intriguing mix of a Broadway show and a concert, but it was a lot of fun (and the ladies enjoyed it).


Saturday the 26th was Josh’s birthday party, and the first non-murder mystery. This year he opted for a game night instead, and it went over so well almost no one left until midnight. We played Trivial Pursuit, Apples To Apples and Cranium, and it was so much fun we’ll probably host another one soon.

On Sunday the 27th we closed out the month with a concert double header. First we went over to the Old Brogue were we enjoyed fish and chips while catching Beth Patterson‘s early show (very funny as usual, plus front row seats). Then back the other way to Jammin’ Java to see Natalia Zukerman perform with Garrison Starr (even better when Jay Nash joined them on guitar).


The rest of January

I don’t know if another cruise is in our future anytime soon (now that I’ve announced on Facebook I can confirm we’re expecting in August), but it was nice to escape the cold weather for a while. Returning to Virginia was a bit of a shock, daytime highs rarely made it out of the 30s for the remainder of the month.

On Wednesday the 12th, we had the Cannons over to dinner. They were down visiting for a week, and they hadn’t seen our new house yet. We ordered dinner from Lakeside Asia Cafe and chatted as their girls watched movies.

That Friday I headed into DC with some coworkers. Jill was working, and the new corporate suite was available, so we had dinner at Capital Q, then beers at RFD (Breckinridge Agave Wheat yum) and then headed over to the Verizon Center to see the Caps take on the Canucks. They ended up losing a close one, but it was a fun evening.


Saturday the 15th we headed to the Birchmere. We try not to miss Eddie From Ohio‘s annual 3 night stand there, and this time we had a big group: us, the Cannons, the Jewells, and the Shonerds. The Fretful Porcupine (Jake Armerding’s new group) opened the show and they were decent, but I think I prefer Jake by himself. Eddie From Ohio was great as usual – less banter than I’d like, but Joe got the biggest response I’d ever seen.

We’d been having our contractor Curt do some work on the house, but the outside was slow going with the cold weather. The Reston Association had noticed and we’d been summoned before a committee to explain. Luckily he finished that weekend and by the time the meeting happened later in the week, all charges were dismissed.

Jill had to work on MLK day, and I did as well, so we both could take off Friday the 21st and head up to NYC. We checked into Le Parker Meridien, then headed down to their lobby to try the celebrated Burger Joint. The burger we split was only ok, plus it caused us both some gastrointestinal distress – I don’t think we’ll be returning.

We had planned going to a fried chicken place for dinner, but overslept (as we both weren’t feeling that great) and headed straight to Webster Hall. There was a long line of folks waiting to get in, so we went across the street to the Village Pourhouse to have a drink, then headed in.

My timing was a bit off as The Jayhawks had just started. The classic 1995 lineup reunited last year, and while I love them I hadn’t wanted to travel just to see them (especially since I did see them in 1995). But this night they were playing the entire Tomorrow The Green Grass album, which would probably be in my top ten period (and also out in a fantastic new 2CD reissue), and I didn’t want to miss it. Too bad the venue is like Rams Head in Baltimore (poor sightlines and incredibly hard to move around when sold out) – otherwise the show was fantastic.


During the show Jill looked up nearby restaurants and decided on The Redhead as they had buttermilk fried chicken. It was an excellent choice, I had the bacon peanut brittle to start with the crispy tater tots, and also the roasted duck gumbo. Everything was fabulous, the tater tots were the best I ever had and the fried chicken was great. I barely touched the bacon peanut brittle and finished it off at home a couple days later paired with a Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic (now I’m getting hungry thinking about it).

We stopped at Momofuku Milk Bar on the way back to the hotel. We were too full for dessert, but got some to go. The next day we were up early for breakfast at Norma’s in the hotel. Jill wasn’t very hungry and had the grapefruit, but I enjoyed the chestnut pancakes. Before we left we had the slices of crack pie and candy bar pie we’d gotten from Momofuku; they were ok, the real winner was the compost cookie.

We went maternity clothes shopping at Destination Maternity (or Jill shopped while I read and watched our stuff), then headed over to Times Square. The reason Jill wanted to come was Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong was currently playing the role of St. Jimmy in American Idiot. A cheer went up from the audience when he was announced, and we settled in for an afternoon of Green Day tunes. The show itself isn’t uplifting, but the music is great and Billie Joe was perfect.

We decided to get pizza after the performance and ended up at Tramonti. It wasn’t until we were seated I saw it was after 4, and we had tickets for a train that left at 5PM. So we told the waiter and skipped a salad, just having a couple of slices each (very good). We got out quickly and eventually flagged a cab down, getting to Penn Station with 5 minutes to spare. I really prefer the train as the way to get to and from NYC these days, it’s so easy (plus they have power outlets). On the way home we were just a bit peckish, so we got some soup from Lakeside Asia right before they closed.

I had bought a Capitol Dish (Groupon-like one day deal) for PS 7’s last year, thinking it would be easy to use it. But it expired at the end of January and they weren’t open on the Sunday I thought we could use it, so we ended up going on Jill’s next day off, which was Tuesday. We drove in and parked at their garage, and were the second couple seated for dinner. They’re known for their cocktails, so I enjoyed some (the best was the Sav U’r Cereal, made with milk that had Captain Crunch in it) and we both had salads (Sarah’s and the warm spinach). Both of us liked the look of the appetizers, so that’s what we had for the main course: the house made hot dogs, the tuna (tartare) sliders and the Banh minis (my favorite). Excellent choice, we shouldn’t have waited.

The next day (Wednesday) was the most snow we’ve gotten this year, and since it transitioned to snow just when the federal government let their workers out and the road crews weren’t able to replace the road salt that had been washed away, the worst commute ever for some folks. I know someone who took 10 hours to get home, and heard of people taking 13 hours. Our dog walker called to see if he could stay at our place to give his dogs a break, but didn’t when he saw the roads were clear of traffic near us. I left for the day before the snow started and was working from home (and seeing the most ominous traffic on Google Maps ever); Jill was scheduled to leave work at 7PM but I had her wait until 9, which worked well as the plow just beat her into our parking lot.

Saturday the 29th was my company party, held at Lansdowne Country Club (the usual spot). We dressed up and headed out, met up with my coworkers and had a nice dinner. We don’t get to see everyone socially much, so it’s fun to catch up.


The next night we had a concert and tried another place I’d been dying to try, the Mad Fox Brewing Company. Jill wanted the dumpling soup but it had too much rosemary, so she sent it back in favor of the house made pretzels, while I had the roasted chicken. I also had beer on a stick, Diabolik was my favorite so I filled a growler with it. Jill was a big fan of the root beer, so we filled the other growler with that.

Then we headed over to Artisphere in Rosslyn. Dar Williams was performing with IBIS, a chamber music ensemble. Other than some poor planning to let us in to the auditorium, the concert was excellent, the songs wisely chosen and the arrangements superb (plus we got some rarely played songs).