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.