January 21, 2008

What to do With Jackie Blue?

The charming Ms. Jackie Blue Home is heading to the East Coast and Baltimore this weekend for the 4th Annual Exciting Windows Conference. She's worried that she's going to freeze... the thermometer didn't even break 30F today and they're calling for snow, freezing rain and more snow tomorrow... But the weekend looks lots better. Jackie and I are meeting up late on Sunday afternoon for some shopping, sightseeing and then dinner.
The place where the conference is being held is unremarkable, but they have an events building that I hope she gets to see. The Tremont Grand is a former Masonic Temple from the 1800's. About 10 years ago, the Masons sold it to an investor for use as a meeting and event space. Unfortunately, they stripped the place of its stained glass, lights and lamps and all of the other decorations before the settlement. Fortunately, the new owner is an attorney who'd made his millions with asbestos litigation and he made the Masons go buy everything back.
Baltimore is where the US National Anthem was written, specifically during the War of 1812 at Fort McHenry. Defenders Day, when the Battle of Baltimore took place, is celebrated every September 12th. The year of 9/11, we had just celebrated Defenders Day the weekend before and it was mentioned that since that war, the continental US had never been attacked by foreigners. It's quite amazing to stand on the ramparts at the old star-shaped Fort, and even help with the lowering of the 32 x 40 foot flag. The original "broad stripes and bright stars" are at the Smithsonian, just 40 miles down the road.
After that, I thought we could head uptown to the Hampden neighbourhood. When I was a child, Hampden was full of hillbillies and the only appeal was the good bakery there. It was next to one of the very poshest neighbourhoods in Baltimore and when my friends couldn't afford to buy there, they bought in Hampden and it became hip. There are some fun shops there and it's got a great Main Street feeling. The billboard above incorporates two Baltimore slogans, "Believe" and "Hon".
Just down the hill and into the Jones Falls Valley, lies Clipper Mill, a compound of old mills that has been converted into artists' studios, apartments and green-built houses. The swimming pool at Clipper Mill is incredible, even in winter.

Clipper Mill also home to a new restaurant I've been meaning to try for my foodie blog. I am participating in The Great Tastes Food Expo next month as food blogger, so I've got to get cracking reviewing some new places. Woodberry Kitchen has been carved out of one of the old mill spaces and uses locally-sourced foods in its menu.

Bundle up, Jackie Blue and let's have some fun!

OMG!!! How could I ever have forgotten
THE BOOK THING!!!! Of course, it will be the weekend that they get cartons of dusty medical tomes from the local medical school, which in our case is top-ranked Johns Hopkins! Or they will only have bad 1980's novels by Jackie Collins by the truckload.


  1. It's clear that Jackie Blue will be seeing more of Baltimore than the average tourist. I hope the weather cooperates -- especially for seeing Ft. McHenry. I've never been in the winter but I've noticed there's always a pleasant breeze there in the summer. It's probably a darned cold wind in the winter.

    Are you driving through Mt Vernon on your way to Hampden? That's another Baltimore neighborhood worth seeing. Also Bolton Hill.

  2. Y'know, I don't think I've to Clipper Mill. But to me in this weather that pool looks frighteningly chilling! Then again, the hairs stand on end every year when I see the Polar Bear Club people do their thing - **BRRRR** I could NOT do that!

  3. How wonderful! Can't wait to hear more about your meeting!

  4. I am so excited to see your home town and I promise I will stop bitching about the weather! See you this weekend

  5. Oooh, forgot to mention: that Star-Spangled Banner is off limits to the public until this summer, due to renovations at the National Museum of American History. I have slightly, quietly been going out of my mind waiting for it to reopen, and will probably be the first in line when it does. I grew up with that museum.

  6. I hope you two have a fab time! Looking forward to hearing all about it. ;)

  7. That sounds like a great program!!! Tell us all about it later! Oh I miss warm weather too!


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