As soon as we made the decision to come to Virginia for the holidays we let our friends know and that we wanted to get together. Randy and I have made wonderful friendships over the years. Our friendships are very important to us and want to keep them alive especially as we live so far away. Like so many, we keep up with family and friends through several social media outlets but there is nothing like up-close and personal contact with those you love and cherish.
I contacted the friends we made in an organization called New Beginnings. New Beginning is a support group for separated and divorced men and women in the DC metro area that Randy and I were a part of many years ago. We both made many wonderful friendships through this group and have maintained them over the years. One of those friends, beautiful Lana, offered to host a wonderful evening of food and fun during our visit.
We arrived and it was as if we had only been gone away for a short time picking up where we left off filling in the blanks with ease. So many hugs, kisses and, “It’s so nice to see you two, we missed you,” our hearts were filled to the brim.
Lana asked, “Mary, will you eat Paella if it has chicken and seafood in it?” “I have never eaten that particular dish so I will have something new to try,” I replied. I am not a real fan of seafood so, sweet friend that she is, Lana prepared two Paella dishes. One with a variety of seafood and one made with chicken and sausage. I enjoyed the chicken and sausage very much. Actually, I enjoyed it so much I went back for seconds. We also enjoyed two wonderful salads and slices of light, fresh French bread. We enjoyed our dinner with cold, refreshing glasses of Sangria.
The holiday season is so very busy so I did not get Lana’s recipe. I searched the internet and linked to several recipes I found on the web. I also found a recipe that reflects what I have always thought paella was by Tyler Florence. The recipe combines chicken, sausage and seafood. Once the holiday season is over I will work on getting Lana’s recipe and post.
Lana also arranged to have a Christmas version of a Chinese auction. Everyone brought a wrapped gift, everyone drew a number and then chose a wrapped gift. From that point each successive person either picked a new gtift or one of the previously opened gifts. This game is always fun especially if there is one gift that everyone wants and constantly gets taken.
It was a fun and tasty evening and as always we all agreed that we need to get together more often but then life happens but the good news is that we work at keeping our friendships alive.
The next group of friends I try very hard to see whenever I come north is the beautiful ladies I met over the years working in the Fairfax County School System. I consider Maureen, Lois and Carol very dear friends. We try to get together for lunch or dinner whenever I am in town.
Maureen is the first teacher I worked with when I became a instructional assistant way back in the eighties at Greenbriar West Elementary School. Eventually, Lois came to work at Greenbriar. Then Carol joined the group. We formed a friendship and would, several times a year, go to lunch in Old Towne Alexandria or the Blue Iguana for dinner.
We spend several hours sharing with each other whatever is going on in our lives, at times looking for a shoulder to lean on in difficult times, or hugs when celebrating good times.
Old Towne Alexandria became one of our favorite places to go each year during the holiday season. We would walk around town stopping at the Torpedo Factory Art Center visiting all the artist studios admiring all their beautiful work. Over the years I collected several beautiful water color paintings by artist Marge Alderson. Ms. Alderson was one of the founding artist of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in 1974. We always stopped at the Silver Parrot to admire, and sometimes purchase, a beautiful piece of silver jewelry.
Two of our favorite restaurants in Old Towne were the Warehouse Bar and Grill and the Union Street Public House. The menus at both are varied and the food always wonderful. I have always had a good meal at both no matter what I chose.
This year we met at the Blue Iguana for dinner and it was wonderful as always. The restaurant is nestled in a small shopping area in Fair Lakes and lends itself to intimate get togethers and always has really delicious choices on the menu. I chose the Chicken Palliard with asparagus, capers, tomatoes, grilled lemon, and pummery mustard sauce over red skin mashed potatoes. Add to that a chocolate martini and you have a really wonderful, yummy dinner. Good food and good friendships, what more could a girl ask for.
Tomorrow–A visit with Santa. Stay tuned.