Cupcakes and the capitol

The title of this post is a slight rip off of Emily Shuman's blog cupcakes and cashmere. Emily has somehow made it big writing about fashion, food, beauty and interior design -- stuff she likes kinda like me. Except, she has a HUGE following and has even published a book.

In any event, Emily does a post every Friday called "5 Things." I'm going to steel that idea too just for today -- multiplied by two -- to describe my spring break trip to the capital city.

10 things...

Cupcakes! Yes, cupcakes were our treat of choice. First stop, the famous Georgetown Cupcakes. Red Velvet is GC's best seller. I happen to love red velvet cupcakes. Of course I had never had one until I moved to the Atlanta. It is widely considered a southern recipe. Remember the armadillo groom's cake in Steel Magnolias? Our plan was to visit several different renowned shops, but we only made it to one more -- Sprinkles -- "the world's first cupcake bakery" (highly doubt that) started in Beverly Hills. I bought the red velvet there and did a taste comparison. The Sprinkles cake was moister (sorry Molly), but the GC cream cheese frosting was better. The winner -- Matty Cakes in Atlanta.

Red velvet cupcake war.

My taste testers unanimously agreed that GC was better all around. I had to agree. Going to the shop in and of itself is an experience. You can watch them decorate each cake by hand.

This lady is cutting printed purses stamped on fondant to go atop a special pink-frosted breast cancer cupcake.

These two decadent chocolate cupcakes were the blue ribbon winners! There was also a chocolate 3 that we didn't try. I was afraid it would make the taste testers bounce off the walls. Smart decision.

Side story: On the way over to GC I spotted two Visi -- my high school -- girls cruising out of the shop on foot. I was wondering how that could be because it was still during school hours. Back in my day, we were not allowed to leave the campus confines (by that I mean a huge stone wall and guarded gate), which forced us to come up with some elaborate escape plans, like being driven off campus in the trunk of someone's car.

I talked the boys into walking over to the campus. While touring the gym I saw this photo of me just off the courts after winning a big match.

And, at field hockey practice.

Just kidding. My boys were not convinced. They think I'm ancient, and often ask questions like: Were cars invented when you were little? No lie.

The Capitol
This may sound biased, but Washington in my opinion is one of the prettiest cities in the world, especially in the spring. We did not tour the Capitol during this visit, but I will never tire of seeing it in all of its splendor.

View of Capitol from Newseum terrace.

Cherry blossoms
As luck would have it, we arrived during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The 3,000 cherry trees Tokyo gifted the city in 1912 were in full and spectacular bloom. We didn't make it to the tidal basin during the day, so I took some night photos.

Cherry blossoms at night by the FDR memorial.

Being landlocked in Atlanta pretty much sucks. Oh how I miss fresh seafood from the eastern shore, especially local blue crab -- the real deal. The best meal I had on the trip was at Johnny's Half Shell. When I lived in DC, the restaurant -- originally located in the Dupont Circle area -- was a fraction of the size of what it is now on North Capitol Street. Sorry no food porn to share, but I can assure you it's well worth a visit, especially if you like oysters and crab cakes. A great place to people watch and eves drop too. One of my favorite past times.

The Newseum 
Hands down the best museum I've been to in a long time. It moved from its original Virginia location to an enormous and amazing space on "America's Main Street" Pennsylvania Avenue. We were lucky to view the new "JFK Creating Camelot" exhibit the day it opened. So well done, including 70 newly restored Jacques Lowe photos of the the first family. Jackie O is one of my favorite fashion icons. Love her! We spent over four hours there without a peep of whining or complaining. Seriously, two 9- and 10-year-old boys were not bored at all. The restaurant cafe, catered by Wolfgang Puck, was the best museum food I've ever eaten. The sixth floor greenspun terrace provides visitors with a spectacular view of the city. Your pass provides entrance for two days. I easily could have spent several more hours there.

Life Magazine cover taken by my assistant photographer who insisted on covering the Kennedy exhibit.

Union Station
Another architectural stunner. We met our moonlight monument tour in front of the station. I had to go into the Main Hall to take a peek. I vividly remember when the station reopened its doors in 1988 after a $160 million renovation. Worth every penny.

The faithfully restored Main Hall clock as seen behind netting that covers the entire ceiling to keep birds out. 

Isn't this original water fountain (updated fixture I'm sure) beautiful? It sits atop the gorgeous black and pink marble floors -- 2.5 acres worth. Love this.

Inlaid marble tile. Love this too.

Capital Bike Share
A form of public transit new to me -- Capital Bike Share. Join for a day, a month or a year and you have over 1,600 bikes at 175 stations in DC, Alexandria and Arlington, VA at your disposal for a reasonable fee. The first 30 minutes of your trip are FREE. Perfect for running a short errand. You can pick up and return bikes to any station. The standard bikes were too big for our kids, so we didn't use them. Such a great concept.

Bike share station across the street from our hotel.

Washington is a very walkable city. If your dogs can't take you where you want to go, hop on the Metro to travel around town. I miss living in a city that has a comprehensive subway system.

The Smithsonian Institute is comprised of 17 museums and galleries plus the National Zoo. All are free except the Zoo. Doesn't get any better than that. As the Smithsonian's logo tag line says: it is seriously amazing.

Parks and trees
The city is littered with trees and parks. I guess I had always taken the tree-lined streets for granted. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about trees in the city. Turns out there are over 100 tree varieties planted on the 58-acre Capital Grounds designed by the brilliant landscape architect Frederick Law OlmstedMany trees have historic or memorial associations. A number commemorate members of Congress and more than 30 states have made symbolic gifts of their state trees to the area. I also learned that the Urban Forestry Association plants 4,500 new trees in DC every year. Wow!

There you have it. Any of you Washingtonians or visitors care to share what you love about DC?


  1. We loved our trip to DC, and I loved living in the District and in Maryland for two years when I was growing up. I thought it was very cool that we had diplomats' kids in my school and one of those kids in my sister's second grade class drew a picture of his dad, his three moms, and his seven brothers and sisters!

  2. Caroline just went to that cupcake store last week when she was in D.C. for a class trip. She loved it so much she texted me pictures!

  3. Did you do the bike tour of monuments? That was a highlight of our trip. Those cherry blossoms are stunning!


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