Chocolate and Stamps

So, #33 and #34 on the birthday list.

Some friends and I went to the Chocolate Bar at the Langham Hotel a couple of weeks ago.

Chocolate Bar at the Langham







I’ve kept my eye on it for years, feeling unsure about spending $30, $35 on eating a bunch of chocolate. The price is now up to $42, so I decided that this would be the year I tried it.

After we sat down, we noted that it felt like we were on vacation because (a) we were being totally indulgent by eating a boatload of desserts and (b) we were sitting in a hotel restaurant in an area of town that we usually don’t visit.

The serving sizes of the desserts were not very big, but everything was RICH, so we filled up faster than I expected. I tried: white chocolate cheesecake, a bacon banana tart, chocolate-dipped fruit, various chocolate mousses, S’mores, chocolate honey madeleines, a dark chocolate Rice Krispy treat…just to name a few.


Chocolate Bar at the Langham







Chocolate Bar at the Langham







Some kind of genius decided it would be a good idea to offer salty items to offset all of the sweetness. We took much-needed “salt breaks” and ate chips and popcorn.

I walked into the Langham thinking that this would be a “once-in-a-lifetime” outing. But I can actually see myself returning someday…

After parting ways with my comrades, I met up with another comrade to visit the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History. One of two philatelic museums in the United States, it is located on a small college campus in what seems to be a former elementary school building.

Spellman Museum of Stamps







I have a thing for stamps, which probably stems from a longtime love of receiving and sending mail. I also consider stamps to be tiny pieces of artwork.

We had the museum to ourselves, which was fun. Exhibits we saw included: one about sending mail during the World Wars, one about mail being delivered by Zeppelins (news to me), and a collection of stamps featuring the American space program. Also on display were portions of the stamp collections of Theodore Steinway (of the piano family) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Spellman Museum of Stamps







I really enjoyed viewing a collection of small antique metal and leather stamp cases. The museum was closing as we were strolling around the shop, so we feverishly looked through baskets of stamps for sale. I bought a few sheets of stamps featuring the Queen Mum and Queen Elizabeth.

I may have caught the philatelic bug…

A Book and a [Big] Bird

One week left of being a 30-something…

I’m way behind on my birthday list reporting, but I will try to catch up over the next few days!

I’m working my way through the Modern Library’s top 100 novels and nonfiction books. As I was perusing the list of novels about a month ago, I noticed that there weren’t many female authors listed. So I counted…nine. NINE. Out of 100.

Harumph. So I’m reading the rest of the books written by female authors first. I finished Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart the other day. Great title, no? It’s a lovely period piece of England in the 1930s. The main character is a sweet and innocent teenaged girl who ends up a little unhinged over a boy and a betrayal (but not necessarily the boy’s betrayal).

On May 15, I had an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my days. I was in the same room as the man who’s played the characters of Big Bird and Oscar on Sesame Street for 40 years: Caroll Spinney.

He is the subject of a new documentary, and he and his wife and the two filmmakers were in attendance on the opening night at the Brattle Theatre.

I Am Big Bird is the story of Caroll’s journey as an individual and as one of the most well-known public figures in the world (well, his puppets are). Anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street or the Muppets will love this film.

I was amazed at how emotional I became as I watched his story unfold. And I was not the only person sniffing and gasping and squealing—everyone was just as touched as I was.

To see Caroll Spinney and hear him speak was the icing on an already sky-high cake. He is in his 80s and is STILL playing these characters. Granted, they don’t have as much screen time anymore…but the fact that he is still playing them at all is mind-blowing. Being Big Bird is physically taxing to say the least. He has such a quick wit and seems to be such a sweet man.

Caroll is, in a word, amazing…as is his second wife, who is truly the love of his life. I am so glad that this film has brought this story of a puppet master to life. Caroll has brought joy to millions (billions?) of people and he deserves to be recognized. Thank you, Caroll!

Caroll Spinney
Yes, he brought Oscar with him.

Two Weeks

Two weeks from today, I will be on a beach in the Bahamas pretending that it’s not my birthday. Yay!

Today’s report is on trampolining and eating.

Deb and I went to Launch trampoline park a couple of weeks ago. It took us a few tries to find it as it was nighttime and it’s located in a random industrial park.

Launch Trampoline Park








It was a pretty quiet evening; there were a few teenagers and one family bopping around.

One big trampoline was sectioned off by foam walkways. We were too freaked to try running at a good clip in order to jump over the walkways as the teenagers were doing. So we just jumped straight up and down. It was very freeing and quite a workout. We had to take breaks every so often to catch our breath.

There was also a big foam pit. At first, we hopped into it, just to test it out. Lying among a seemingly endless number of foam cubes proved to be very relaxing. I decided to try properly jumping into the pit but quickly changed my mind as I struggled to climb out of it. It felt as if the foam cubes were swallowing my legs. I literally flung myself onto the floor, sighing with relief that I didn’t have to call over a staff member to pull me out.

It was a fun time, but I don’t know if I would go again. I just kept picturing myself with a limb or two in a cast due to an awkward fall. And I had a few good awkward falls!

…And then we have another birthday list item about food.

I went to Haley House Bakery Café on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It’s in a neighborhood I hadn’t been to, so it was a nice adventure. I’ve been wanting to visit it for a while, because of its mission to build community and help people through its housing and employment programs.

The café sells soups and sandwiches and all kinds of baked goods. I ordered a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and an iced tea and sat outside so I could enjoy the sunshine. On my way out, I bought a lemon scone for breakfast the next morning. It’s a small place but I really liked the vibe. I will return sometime to check out one of its open mic nights…

Haley House Bakery Cafe

Donuts and Beer

…These are a few of my favorite things…

I went to Portland with some friends recently to see my bazillionth Guster concert. I love Guster and I love Portland. And I love seeing Guster play in Portland.

There’s no time to waste with the birthday list now, so I try to pack in as many things as possible on the weekends. During this particular weekend, I tried potato donuts and tried a Belgian beer, chosen solely on the basis of its name.

So the potato donuts were amazing.

potato donuts







The consistency of the potato donut seemed more dense than the regular donut. Oh, what exactly is a potato donut? Mashed potatoes are substituted for flour.

The flavors were divine. Dark chocolate toasted coconut, blueberry glazed, sweet potato ginger glazed, Allen’s Coffee Brandy….

The shop, The Holy Donut, is right in the downtown area, and it’s been duly added to the list of things I have to do during every Portland visit.

One important thing that’s on my list of things to do in Portland is drink a lot of good beer. There are so many great breweries in the Portland area. We went to a bar I hadn’t been to before, called Novare Res. Spoiled for choice! I don’t know much about Belgian beers, but I chose one that was called “Mad Bitch” because I liked the name.

Mad Bitch beer









There was a lot going on in this beer. It was a bit too floral and fruity for my taste, but I’m sure that Belgian beer fans would really enjoy it.

Signing off for now…

X Marks the Spot

I’m approaching the end of the road with the A–Z list and I’m having to bend the rules a bit. X was tough…so I was forced to visit a place (a) that I’ve been to before and (b) that has an X in its “branding” but not in its actual name = Legal Crossing. AKA LX.

Legal Crossing







This restaurant is near my office and has really good apps (if you’re a seafood fan).

I had a Dogfish Head beer that I hadn’t tried before: Indian Brown Ale. Very tasty and a new favorite.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale







Still left: E, U, Y!