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So here’s the second installment of my Real Richmond gift guide from my Twitter feed. It’s a damned good list, if I do say so myself. I think it’s a good thing my children don’t follow me on any social media platforms.

Holiday Gift Guide #8 Gift certificate to a lovely #RVA B & B! Museum District B & B is near @VMFA. Maury Place &@gracemanorinn have pools!

Holiday Gift Guide #9 A membership in @falllinefarms for local-loving folks on your list. Year-round access to excess! http://ow.ly/fKTHB

Holiday Gift Guide #10 James River Park license plates for park-lovers on your list! #noDMVlinehttp://ow.ly/i/1bEls  http://ow.ly/fIa1y

Holiday Gift Guide #11 Burger bunch! Get gift certificates to@BelmontButchery @station2rva & @burgerbach for meat-lovers!

Holiday Gift Guide #12 Introduce someone to @relayfoods and give them the gift of local food & more time to themselves! http://ow.ly/fN2Tq

Holiday Gift Guide #13 French wine from @jemersonwine @Ellwoods@barrelthief + pass to French Film Festival @thebyrdrva http://ow.ly/fOAa8

Holiday Gift Guide #14 Nick’s on Broad sells the olive oil@StellasRichmond uses! Get chorizo and feta and other delicacies!

Holiday Gift Guide #15 Jewelry from Lynalise or Julia Dent at@bizarremarket at Chop Suey Books 

Holiday Gift Guide #16 #RVA =international! Gift certificates from  La Grotta Europa Stellas, Bistro Bobette, La Parisienne, etc. 

Holiday Gift Guide #17 @station2rva Get a Growler w/ purchase of $30 gift certificate. You don’t HAVE to give it away!

Holiday Gift Guide #18 Membership to @LewisGinter +tix to Gardenfest of Lights will put a shine to the whole year! #RVAhttp://ow.ly/gaHri

Holiday Gift Guide #19: beautiful baubles, pottery and other local#RVA delights at 43rd St. Gallery in Forest Hill.pic.twitter.com/3IXwWYMq

This is called cheating and I do it with a clean conscience since it is also multi-platform blah blah blah.

Here’s week 1 of my Holiday Gift Guide from my Real Richmond Twitter feed

It makes it awfully easy to participate in the Retail Merchants Association Think. Shop. Buy Local promo Saturday Dec. 8th, don’t you think? If you fill out the form at a participating retailer, you could win a $500 gift card from one of the afore-not-mentioned retailers.

Have fun and keep your sanity and your dollars in our community!

A recap of our gift guide:

Day 1 Holiday Gift Guide #1: #RVA books from @FountainBkstore or Chop Suey: First House; Come August, Come Freedom; Oregon Hill; Built by Blacks +

Day 2  Anything from @GearhartsRVA for the chocolate lover in your life! Caramels are my fave! #RVA

Day 3  #RVA ornaments (white or mirrored) from@modartifactsrva will glam up any tree! http://ow.ly/i/1b6HT 

 

Day 4 Chihuly tix from @VMFA (and treat yourself to a @wpabakery treat from Best Cafe!) #RVA #holiday

Day 5  Eliza Askin’s 2013 calendar. It’s a classic with some of our favorite spots in #RVA Find it @FountainBkstore

Day 6  Cool recycled bike gear even if you don’t bike! In @VMFA gift shop. Perfect for @richmond2015 http://ow.ly/i/1b6W9 

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Day 7  Holiday Gift Guide #7 Tix to #RVA theater! @firehouserva@henleystreetrva @virginiarep @richmondshakes From Madeline to Max, Will to Willy!

It will keep coming every day until Dec. 24th on Twitter.

and here is some of what I thought of it from an online piece for Richmond Magazine: Lincoln Premieres in RVA I’ll tell you more if you come on our Lincoln Legs: Brunch & Brushes with History tour tomorrow, Nov. 11th at 12:30 and we’ll brunch at LuLu’s in between following in Lincoln’s footsteps. I’ll also bring Dixie Donuts. I think Abe would approve. It is my dream to refight the Civil War using donuts, Dixie Donuts vs. Philly’s Federal Donuts. It is the only time I’d want the south to prevail. We’ll run Lincoln Legs again Nov. 25th, brunching at Arcadia then.

Lincoln is loved in VA

Especially when it comes at 4:50 a.m. It is clear to me that riding 102 miles on a bike today is perhaps not the best use of my time and/or buttocks.

Hope no one gets flattened today.

It’s the first Tour of Richmond and I’m on it. A different sort of tour than I usually do on a Saturday with Real Richmond–Food Tours & More. Gummy Bears and pretzels really can’t compete with what our Shockoe Bottom/Church Hill food tourists will get today from 2113, Globehopper, C’est Le Vin, Tio Pablo and Station 2. Damn. Good thing I hand-crafted trail mix for the ride last night.

Four Play. Yes, it certainly can’t be at the forefront of the homophone to four play. Even the word homophone is making some people in Richmond nervous. And let’s not even talk about anything tongue-in-cheek. Earlier this summer there was the brouhaha over a fun, cheery and slightly cheeky poster that came out of the  i.e. series sponsored by the Greater Richmond Chamber: Get off in Richmond! I attended the initial session where several posters were born though I wasn’t a part of this group. It, even in its early stages, got the best response from the crowd which did not include any grumps, I might add.

The Offending Poster

Because this is Richmond, within 48 hours of a version of this going up on a billboard at 95 and 64, it came down. The innuendo was apparently not appreciated by the powers that bring down billboards in Richmond. Oy vey. Something tells me my latest idea just might get a rise out of  the same folks.

As I’ve written before, I just might be the only person who has done my made-up triathlon, Tri-RVA: I’ve rappelled the SunTrust building as part of Over the Edge Special Olympics, run the Richmond Marathon and rafted the James River through downtown. We could call it RVA Triple Play–and when the Flying Squirrels some year leave Richmond because they can’t get a new stadium built, it could be a typical, living in the past Richmond reference to the good ole days of when there was baseball here.  But that is all a moot point because now that there’s a fourth sporty addition to the scene, Martin’s Tour of Richmond, a Gran Fondo with a 102 mile option that takes cyclists from Henrico County into Richmond and then into Chesterfield, Goochland and Hanover counties on Oct. 6th.

So let’s call it RVA Four Play! I’m doing it–in public. Let’s get it on!

Just glanced at a list I made for a recent trip:

checkbooks

legal pad of joy

knitting

That pretty much sums it up except I forgot the checkbooks, I knit perhaps 3 rows the entire weekend and the legal pad had a few more worry lines added to it. Par for the course. Perhaps I was knitting my brow more than the blanket I can’t quite finish. But I did enjoy the margaritas on a deck in St. Michael’s with old friends and the massage at the nearby inn. It cracked me up that when I told the masseuse my last massage had been 2 years ago, she tsked tsked and said, “We recommend one once a month.” I’m sure you do!  I think I’ll start doing that with my food tour customers: When was your last tour?!  Oh, dear. You’re going to have to do better than that.

Richmond.com just published this interview with me today. 5 Questions with a Foodie. I would never say I’m a foodie or a native Richmonder, so let anyone come at me with their knives sharpened. As Stephen Robertson pointed out (ha!), sharp ones are better than dull ones.

To further prove (or undermine) my food credentials, here’s a sampler of older, food-related posts. I do keep coming back to food, one way or another. And I did shop at Ellwood Thompson’s today, so nuf said–or spent.

Where Health Food Goes to Die,  September 2010

The floor refinishers needed a 220 outlet to plug in the floor sander, so the hunt began. The very hung-over guy tasked with plugging in the machine dismissed the plug behind my dryer–too hard to get to–and instead wanted to know where my stove was.  I cringed because though I know it isn’t all that hard to move the stove out from the wall, it gets done approximately once a decade, so I knew the floor beneath my stove would bring me down–kind of the opposite effect of the wind beneath my wings though actually that song brings me down, too. But I digress.  The guy with the phlegmy, hacking cough taught me something that morning–there’s no need to move the stove. Turns out the oven drawer can be removed quite easily, exposing both the 220 outlet and the detritus of my life.  Who knew it was that easy?

With trepidation I got down on the floor to inspect the scene–more chocolate than you would think I would’ve let get away. The theme was surprisingly outdoorsy–a combination of  trail mix and dust bunnies too laden with grease to hop far. It was interesting to note (and almost thrilling to clean up) that health food doesn’t live under the stove–it died there. It belongs in the great outdoors or in my mouth. I am happy (ok–bursting with pride is more accurate) to report that no insects or animals were spotted, and two cake pans long assumed lost in the wild reappeared. I know I’m a bit of a braggart.

Older Butt Wider, November 2010

One of my favorite bits, coined decades ago by one of my high school friends. It’s so much easier to get wider than wiser, she said as she remembered with delight the exquisite dark chocolate (fair trade) with mint bar that she bought today.

Herewith the shorthand recipe for the delish Cookie Cake my daughter invented:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve the Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Toll House Cookie recipe on the back of the package, spread batter into a greased, 8 inch round cake pan and bake for 14 minutes….maybe more, depends how gooey you like the middle. Deirdre often ices it with vanilla buttercream icing as she did yesterday and then saved me a piece, thank goodness, but I am quite content to eat it sans icing. So good warm.

I will now wax poetic about cookies:

“Got a cookie in my hand, warm, on my lips, mmmm, in my mouth, oooh, on my tongue, yum, in my teeth, munch, down my throat, aahhh, in my gut–gone! Hey, that’s not enough. (It’s a hand-to-mouth existence, but that’s ok with me.)  …One bite, one taste, one swallow, one nice big cup of milk, one lick of my lips and I knew what to do–try, taste, chomp! From a package or a pan, I don’t need to waste a plate; crumbs in teeth, on shirt, in hair. Where’s my cookie?”

A multi-media approach to eating too much chocolate. I’m going to run now.

Driven to Eat May 2011, 

After driving 600 miles from Nashville to Richmond last night and and today, I was reminded that highways are very long and skinny food deserts. And there’s no dessert worth eating along them either.  Sure there are “restaurants” at many exits, but they are almost all some sort of fast food or fake-y, family-friendly chain and I’m fairly sure  their definition of food and mine don’t jibe. Not something I want to eat.

We were interested in making time, so hardly stopped at all, and didn’t time things such that wandering a little off the beaten track to find something interesting and not gross was possible, and it was disconcerting to see so little local flavor near the interstates. I’m sure most smaller spots have been blown off the road by the chains. I’m tempted to say that honest-to-goodness local barbecue is still one temptation still out there in some hills and hollows, in the south at least, that weary travellers might come upon, but even that is threatened by Famous Dave’s and Red, Hot & Blue.  Don’t let that happen! It’s up to us to eat local barbecue early and often. Keep sauce alive! Imagine the drive along I-64 without Pierce’s. Perish the thought. Or Richmond without Buz & Ned’s. Don’t let that happen. Richmond restaurants have spoiled me and I like it like that.

Putting Food First,  February 2012

So I agreed to moderate a Writing Show panel for James River Writers this evening. It’s about food, drink, and romance in writing. You had me at chocolate chip cookie. I am thinking hard about what food I should bring with me to stuff into my mouth in order to prevent me from saying something really dumb. Dark chocolate could do the trick, but it’s so unseasonably warm today, it might melt all over my hands and then I’ll get chocolate all over my notes and then I will have to rely on my brain to come up with something to say of its own accord and there we are back at the saying something dumb issue.

A chocolate for my thoughts?

A vicious circle. That reminds me of cupcakes.

The mocha/chocolate one is my go-to cupcake.

There is no photo of an actual cupcake because as soon as the box gets opened, it’s not a pretty picture anymore. Actually, I have learned to show enormous amounts of restraint leading Real Richmond food tours around town. I don’t partake of everything at every stop. For me to spend time in a cupcake joint, inhaling the aromas of chocolate, coconut, and other good/evil things and not eating a bit is proof of something–I’m just not sure what. It is weird beyond belief, but some of it is vanity. Knowing that putting cupcake to mouth would leave too much evidence on my clothes, in my teeth and around my lips–not to mention elsewhere–helps in the self-restraint department. And then when the tour is over and I walk past said cupcake shop, I pop in and buy a 4-pack to take home. The Virginia General Assembly would do better to focus on issues such as banning driving while eating cupcakes than some of the other things they’ve been messing with. Three panelists, Michele Young-Stone, Andrew Fox, and Kit Wilkinson will be on tonight’s panel. All are novelists, but different genres: Michele writes adult fiction; Andrew sci-fi/fantasy, and Kit Christian Romance and suspense.  There is a joke to be made about Christian Romance and what the Republicans in the General Assembly have been up to of late. I will try to show restraint tonight and not blurt one out. Cupcake, anyone?

It’s common enough to say there are no words upon hearing of someone’s death. It’s understandable–touching even. But it can’t be said about Maurice Sendak’s passing. There are words, so many and so wonderful. And there are pictures and because of his collaboration with Carole King on Really Rosie! there is music. So thankful for all of it.  Good ole Max. I stole this poster from Where the Wild Things Are from my younger sister, Kate thirty-some years ago so I could take it to college and be cool. You see the problem and it wasn’t theft. See the drip of yellow paint and the evidence of its folds. It was something she’d ordered at school from a book club, and since she hadn’t put it up anywhere, I took it with me.   I knew my first college roommate and I weren’t suited for long when she told me she didn’t like the poster because it gave her nightmares.

Over the years in many apartments and houses it’s had a place of honor in living, dining, and family rooms, hallways, even a bathroom once in Worcester and most recently over a piano. With some recent remodeling it wound up leaning in my office. I found the right place for it today, just outside my bedroom. I could recite Where the Wild Things Are and The Nutshell Library from heart. I even used to read Where the Wild Things Are backwards for some reason. It still works. There are no words on this poster. But the words and memories it conjures up are indelible. And my smile is irrepressible.

Mais non, je ne pas cuss all that much in writing. In speaking–that’s another thing. My roommate in college did not approve of my cussing though it was tame, very tame. I truly learned to cuss when I taught at a Catholic boys school right out of college. And no, cursing is not the right word. Too prim. Anyway, nothing like being one of the few females who wasn’t a nun or obese in a school of hundreds of males to turn one into an expert on Anglo-Saxon phrases. I believe I kept my cool around the boys, but nowhere else. The administrators were every bit as annoying. Of course I cleaned up my coarseness once I had children and haven’t really gone back to serious cussing since. I certainly don’t like hearing blue streaks come out of people’s mouths when I’m in public. The other day as I was leading a tour on Brown’s Island and in no one’s way whatsoever, some runner ran close to our group and let rip with “motherfucking something” seemingly directed at us. It wasn’t even Mothers’ Day. Not nice. But every once in a while, those sorts of words are just the right thing and make me laugh out loud–always a good thing for words to do.

It seemed appropriate that just as I’m barely keeping up with my blog and certainly not doing Tumblr and being exceptionally lame on Pinterest and ignoring Google+ and tiring of Facebook and even Twitter though they sure are handy for the food tour biz, I share this little gem:

Fuck You and Your Blog Journal

Darned right!

Going to be showing off Richmond’s riverfront (even that phrase seems almost funny as I write it–Richmond hasn’t had a riverfront so much as a river in the backyard) with Off the Eatin’ Path: Richmond’s Riverfront starting this Sunday, May 6th at noon. We’ll start in Shockoe Slip and wander around the canals and Brown’s Island and wind up at Canal Bistro at Off the Hookah for lunch. 1.5-2 hours of art, architecture, adventure and me blabbing in between bites! The RVA Street Art Festival sure spiced up one section of our route with the fun (and possibly ephemeral if a buyer buys the Hydroelectric Plant and wants them removed) multiple murals that live there now. Get down there to see them one way or another, please!

see what's behind the scaffolding...

You know I’ll season the tour with lots of James River Park System info, ways to get out and enjoy the river and the creatures who frequent it–not all of them fitness-crazed people yelling “Hoo-rah!”–and several lesser known historical tidbits. It should be a relaxing yet exhilarating tour. The high school group who were my guinea pigs for this tour in March said I saved their lives by taking them on the tour. I don’t recall pulling any of them out of the rapids, but maybe I was so engrossed by RVA’s riches that I didn’t notice that part of the tour….

All Aboard!

On our typical food tours, I push the river as worthy of a visit all sorts of ways. I’m glad that on this route the James will get to speak for itself.

a flood of interest in the James these days...

I’m back!

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