Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Liebster Awards

I have been blogging on and off for years now. Literally - years of blogs have started and then slowly flickered to a stop when I get bored. I recently picked mine back up again, and have made a real effort to join the "community" I often hear other bloggers talk about. Besides my Twitter followers doubling in about two weeks, being nominated for a Liebster Award by Katie over at The Macarthur's Lately is the first sign that I'm doing it right. :) She found me and asked that I carry on the baton. I was totally cool and chill about it (or maybe I squealed and then jumped up and down for a few minutes), because how awesome is it to make friends like this? You should definitely check her out - I love her bucket list and she already totally convinced me to finally sign up for Birchbox.

So, without further ado...

11 Facts About Me
  1. I absolutely hate my name, which really upsets my mom since I was the only one of her kid's that she actually picked the name for.
  2. I kind of crazy love my husband. Like, most people love their husband and all, but I am super into him and just think he's so great. You would get what I mean if you saw us together. 
  3. Tomatoes = love. Numerous times in my life, I have left for the store in the middle of making a sandwich because I realized we have no tomatoes. 
  4. I can't drive my car. Three years ago we sold my car when we moved to D.C., and Layne had a manual that I have studiously avoided learning to drive.
  5. I love, love, love interior design. I didn't know how much I loved it while I was going through school, but I wish I had because I would have made it my life. 
  6. I am shy. As is typical, it comes off as me being standoffish, but really it's just because I'm shy. My mind goes something like this: "I have nothing to say... think of something fast. Oh, you are so awkward. Just keep sitting here and don't draw attention to how weird you are."
  7.  I have pretty much the worst handwriting ever. In fact, anything involving hand eye coordination of any sort is pretty much off the table for me. Do not throw something at me - it will inevitably smack me in the face.
  8. I am not a fun person to share a bed with. I'm a blanket hog, I kick and punch, and Layne has woken up numerous times to find me with my leg straight in the air. 
  9. I moved a lot growing up. Like, 5 elementary schools, a new house every year a lot. So now after living in D.C. for a few years, I have the itch to move on and am fighting it as I slowly learn what it's like to actually settle in someplace.
  10. My best friend lives literally on the opposite side of the planet. Why does Australia have to be so far away? But it has taught me that some people are too important to let slip away, and also that you can keep a friendship alive via Facebook and Skype.
  11. And lastly, I am on the job hunt! Oh, the joys of the job search. If you know of anyone hiring in the marketing/PR world in D.C./NoVa, please let me know!
Questions from Katie
  1. What's the story behind the name of your blog? My favorite movie is "When Harry Met Sally." I watch it, oh, about once a month. So, when I had to come up with a new blog name, I borrowed from the best.
  2. Would you give up internet and cell phone for a year for $10,000? Yup - I'm poor. I'd give up almost anything for $10,000. :D
  3. Dogs or cats? Cats. But also dogs. I grew up with both!
  4. What's your biggest pet peeve? Stupid people. (Is that mean?)
  5. Do you have any hidden talents? Um... no. Though Layne tells me that I am an amazingly efficient grocery shopper. So, you know, watch out. You do not want to be on Guy's Grocery Games with this girl!
  6. What was your last dream about? The final fight scene between Voldemort and Harry Potter. Obvs. 
  7. What was your best/favorite vacation? Paris! Can you beat Paris? Maybe, I just haven't been that many other cool places, but I really don't know how you can top it. 
  8.  Favorite reality tv show? Hhmmm... I got really into Survivor and The Amazing Race for the first time this year. Otherwise, maybe MasterChef or Food Network Star.
  9. Would you rather a weekend in the mountains or at the beach? Beach. Mountains are nice and all, but been there, done that after living in Utah for years. And, I'm addicted to the sun.
  10. Any embarrassing/bad 1st date stories? Not really a first date... but once in high school, I started dating this guy who I also worked with. Very quickly, I realized he was a bit (read: A LOT) more into it than I was and broke it off. For some reason, he insisted that I go on one more date with him while I insisted that I would not. When the day came, (and I am NOT proud of this), I left my house before the date and turned off my phone. I AM  A JERK AND I KNOW IT - ok?! Fast forward a few months, and he asked me to go to Homecoming. I said yes, as friends. But then he started telling everyone we were getting back together, and when I confronted him about it he told me that I HAD to go with him. So then I left a chair on his front porch with a note that said "Thanks, but I'll sit this one out." BECAUSE I WAS TERRIBLE AT 16, though I swear he had all of this coming. Fast forward another 9 months or so, and he asked me to dinner. I consented, as I thought enough time had passed. Apparently not. He proceeded to tell me that it was the anniversary of our break up and that I was the worst, hardest thing he had ever had to overcome. And this guy had been through some pretty rough stuff, so that was really uncalled for. He also said that when high school was over he wanted to move to Baltimore so he would never have to see me again. It made for a very awkward night. After that, I just entirely stopped talking to him. Saga over. Whew! Aren't we all glad we're out of high school? Also, I only live an hour from Baltimore now - Muhahaha!
  11. What's your favorite quote? Try a little harder to be a little better. 
Questions for my Nominees
  1. What's your dream job?
  2. Favorite restaurant?
  3. What makes a good friend to you?
  4. Favorite song of the moment?
  5. What is something small that makes you happy?
  6. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
  7. Favorite holiday tradition?
  8. A good dinner out, or a new item for your closet?
  9. What is your favorite spot in your home?
  10. What's your favorite city?
  11. Why do you blog?
And now - the fun part!

My Nominees
Paige @ Tomatoes for Cucumbers
Gayle @ A Gayle Force
Sierra @ Sierra's View
Kaylie @ Kaylie Marie
Alexa @ Alexa Tales
Lindsay @ Typically Late
Kate @ Thoroughly Modern
Meagan @ Beautiful Things
Brooke @ Blissful Blonde
Christa @ Forever Young

Let the games begin!

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's a Monday...

It is indeed, once again, Monday. Sometimes they are harder than others, and I can tell already that today will be hard. We had a really great, low key weekend, and the last thing I want to do now is head back into the office.

After a stressful week at work, I went on a really nice, long walk Friday evening and just let the tension fall off me. I stopped for a bit at a park until the lightning bugs came out, and by the time I got moving again, I had a smile on my face despite the mosquito bites I had acquired. Do you ever go on a walk when you're stressed? I just love being outside and definitely miss it. Oh, the compromises of apartment living!

Saturday I spent some time working on a home project. I'm transforming a drawer in Layne's nightstand to flip down and be more like a shelf. He was always using it for books and papers, so it makes more sense. It is far from the most time intensive project I have taken on, but it takes me into uncharted territory. I spent about 20 minutes debating what kind of hinges to get and how they will work. My mind just doesn't work in that physical way, so keep your fingers crossed! I'm still waiting for the paint and glue to dry, then it's times to test the hinges.

Saturday night was date night, so we tried a restaurant from Layne's Bucket List. Ping Pong Dim Sum in D.C.'s Chinatown was really nice. We are not huge into Chinese food, and this was definitely above average (not greasy at all!), but hoisin sauce always reminds my tastebuds of fennel (aka, pure evil), and we ordered two shrimp dishes where the shrimp was past its prime. I told our waiter, and they comped our entire meal! For that alone, they get an A+. Do you complain when your food isn't right? So many people just sit silently, but I always say something. I don't want the restaurant to serve an entire dinner service with shrimp that has gone bad! Despite that one issue, for those rare occasions when I do want some Chinese food, I would definitely go back.

On our way home, we grabbed an ice cream cake. Because who doesn't love the sweet harmony of cake and ice cream?

Sunday was another relaxing day. We went to the in-laws for a chicken pot pie dinner and some good conversation. I love lazy Sundays.

Now back to reality with the rest of the week - here's to making the most of it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Those Sad, Awkward Spaces

There was a corner of my house that I didn't show off yesterday. It is sadly and lonely and pretty pathetic.
What do you do with these spaces? My cable box is too tall to fit under my TV, and then on top of that is my DVD player and the modem is to the side. I at least put the antennae down on my modem, but it's not like that's really going to do it. It is just a big, ugly hole (and, for my graphic designer friends, talk about trapped white space)!

This is the best I have come up with. I felt like it needed something kind of full, and definitely some height. I have a small obsession with decanters even though I don't drink. They are just so beautiful!

Yes, you can still see the modem. But, better, right? Any other ideas? What do you do to disguise your ugly places?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home Tour {Part 1}

Ok - you will need to contain your excitement. I know all of my adoring fans (or just my sisters) have been asking for pictures of my house for months. Well, thanks to an awesome Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family last weekend, I was completely glued to the couch and managed to take pictures. But just of the part of my apartment where I could still see the TV from. First off, you'll notice how much things have changed since I initially made my mood board. I dropped the yellow and embraced just random spots of color, relying heavily on the black and white contrast.

The walls somehow look white (I love my camera), but that, sadly, is an optical illusion. In reality, they are a gross very yellowy, cream color that absorbs all the light in my apartment. And I can't paint and it is nothing short of a tragedy.

My mom made me all of these pillows for my birthday/Christmas. The Greek Key ones are based off the Sarah M. Dorsey tutorial. They are absolutely amazing, and way beyond the technical skill that I possess! Albeit, that consists mainly of being able to sew a relatively straight line, so she was a real lifesaver. Love you, Mom. You rock!

The coffee table I just keep really simple, so we can take things on and off and use it as a work space. And by "work space," I mean dump the tray on the floor so we can watch Wipeout and eat dinner at the same time. Right next to my couch, we have a small chest of drawers from IKEA. They are COMPLETELY busted, but I use them for all of our towels, so they just sit there broken anyway. I cannot give up a single storage option in my 600 sq. ft. It's nice to have a mirror on the way out the door, and we use the small silver tray as a key plate.

This space is where we spend most of our time. Next up, I'll show off the office/kitchen table area! (We really only have two rooms, that comprise 90% of the space so I don't know what to call the little rooms within a room that I have created out of necessity...) But before that, any tips on taking pictures of your house? I found it difficult to capture how it actually looks. Maybe it's just because I live in a shoebox and the walls suck up all the light?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Oh Hey, Friday... and Detroit

Hey, All. Am I ever glad it's Friday this week! It was a long week of work travel, kicking off with a flight that was delayed 6 hours. That got me to my hotel around 2 a.m. before 2 days fully booked of meetings, meetings, meetings.

This week I'm joining September Farm again for the link-up. Since my mind has been on one thing and one thing only this week, that's what you all get to hear about. I am promoting a HUGE meeting in Detroit this year, so my Friday Five is Five Things You Did Not Know About Detroit. I get really aggravated promoting Detroit because of all the negative media hype. I had never been to the Motor City before December, but I've been going pretty much once a month since then and I have to say - I love it! It is vibrant and beautiful and if the winters were not so crazy cold I would move there in a heartbeat.

1. The Detroit River is insanely blue.

I took this photo from the 1 Woodward building. It overlooks Hart Plaza and is shows you just how  gorgeous the river is. It may honestly be the most beautiful color of blue I have ever seen. P.S. - that is Canada on the other side of the river. Yes, it is that close.

2. They build a park downtown every summer. 

As you can see, this may be my favorite feature of Detroit. Campus Martius Park is turned into a beach oasis, tiki bar and gelato stands included. This is about 10 a.m. so we are the only patrons, but come lunch hour this place is packed and they host a happy hour at nights.

3. The foodie scene is pretty decent.

Astoria Pastry Shop in Greektown - yum. I have to go at least once on every visit. They also have Roast by Michael Simon, Slows BBQ always has a line out the door, Joe Muer Seafood is killer for sushi... you get the point. And, while I don't drink, people recommend places to grab a drink all over the city.

4. It's safe.
No photo for this one, but it's one of the issues I come up against the most. I travel alone a lot, and I never worry about walking around, catching a cab, or anything that I need to do. Sure, I'm not going to take a stroll at 1 a.m. by myself, but I'm not doing that in any city. And honetly, the suburbs have more crime than downtown at this point thanks to all of the revitilization.

5. It's beautiful. 

I mean... come on. This is Belle Isle, an amazing park/island right in the middle of the Detroit River. As you can tell, I love it. The whole downtown area is beautiful. All of my colleagues have agreed that if you closed your eyes and we transported you to Detroit and had you open them, you would never be able to guess where you were. It looks nothing like what the national media would have you believe. 

Check out the other's participating in the link-up below!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Just A Stroll Through the Garden

This weekend, I got busy crossing things off my bucket list. My mother-in-law lives 3 minutes from Dumbarton Oaks,  a D.C. mansion that has been open to public tours since 1963, so we went together. We stuck to the gardens, which is all I really wanted to see, despite the fact that it was a heat index of over 100 with some real nice humidity around 80% or something. #SwampCity

National Geographic has rated Dumbarton Oaks #6 on their Top 10 Gardens From Around The World List. I wholeheartedly agree with their rating.
All you see here is their grounds, and there is even more off to the right side. If you have not visited NoVa before, you may not realize just how green everything is in this area. But the humidity makes the vegetation wild.
Kitchen gardens
Urn Garden
Pebble Garden
The Orangery was both my and my mother-in-law's favorite place. It was a beautiful enclosed veranda with these plants that cover the walls and hang in the windows.

I would just want to sit in here all day, every day, sipping lemonade under the slow turning fan blades, pretending to be a Southern Belle.
Wisteria covered walkways

Detail of the Pebble Garden

The main house's exterior was being renovated, but you can see how beautiful it was below. 

View from the backyard, through The Orangery, to the front yard.
I would highly recommend this as a To Do when you next visit D.C. I'll be coming back in either the fall or spring so I can stroll through it a bit slower and really enjoy myself!

Friday, July 11, 2014

My Friday Five - Irrational Fear Style

Hey everyone! I recently started following September FARM and think she is just too cute with her farmer husband, little "turtle" daughter, and another one on the way! So, when she announced that she was doing a link-up this week, I immediately bought in and began thinking of what to write up for my Friday Five.

I decided to highlight my Top 5 Irrational Fears. It was hard to whittle it down to just 5, but this anxiety-ridden girl decided to focus on the Top 5 Fears that terrify me on the daily. Somewhere deep down, I understand all of these things are a very far off, remote, minute possibility of danger but... cue the Monk theme song.
  1. Every time I slip is a chance for me to fall face first into the nearest object, breaking my nose and busting out my front teeth. I'd have to hit something at just the perfect angle and with a pretty huge amount of force. I'm hardly sprinting from place to place in my every day life, hurdling around obstacles that are just waiting to permanently mar my face. Yet still... it could happen at any moment.
  2. An escalator could eat me. This actually sounds more irrational than it has proven to be! When I was young, I slipped at the bottom of an escalator and it caught my shirt, sucked me in, and just like that - a lifelong fear was born.
  3. My ankles may snap at any moment. Another fear about walking, huh? Well. I guess when you're as clumsy as I am, most of your fears center around injuring yourself. Every time I stumble, or step off the bus, or do pretty much anything, I have this absolutely grotesque image flash through my mind of my ankle not only breaking, but SNAP - broken so severely that bone is now visible. (excuse me while I dry heave and shudder for a moment.)
  4. The Dark.  Yup. You got that right - fully grown woman, still afraid of The Dark, but not afraid to admit it. You just don't know what's out there! And if you lie to me and say that you've never turned off the lights in the basement and booked it up the stairs like you were running from the bogeyman, then I disown you.
  5. I forgot something. I didn't. But maybe I did? Wasn't there something I needed? Or needed to do? Did I miss a deadline? Was it important? Oh for heaven's sake! Layne has diagnosed me with early, early onset alzheimer's. That nagging worry in the back of my mind that I have forgotten something plagues me to no end.
What's your Friday Five? Be sure to check out the others participating in link-up by clicking the button below!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

4th of July Recap

I hope you had as amazing of a holiday weekend as I did! Living in America's Capitol, I pass the monuments every day and am still in awe of their beauty. But when I know the whole nation is feeling patriotic, and especially on the heels of another sojourn overseas, I feel an even greater sense of just how amazing this nation of ours is!

When it comes to celebrating America, we take the Jim Gaffigan approach. (See 2:10, but you should really watch the whole thing and laugh until your sides hurt.)

Layne grilled corn and steaks,  and he also made his roasted garlic mashed potatoes - because there is nothing more American than sweet yellow corn, a huge slab of meat, and some taters. I made some mixed berry scones for breakfast, and a cheesecake with more mixed berries for dessert. I essentially only wanted to eat sugary delights in red, white, and blue. #Murica

But, with our appetizers, we took a break from the All Americana, All The Time approach to the 4th.

Please don't shame us, but these apps were really good!!! The best part about all of these apps is how little effort they took to whip together. The figs required no heat or cooking, and all you have today is fry the bacon, toast the crostini, and call it a day!

Robiola Stuffed Figs with Pomegranate
I used brie instead of robiola since that's what I had on hand, but I'm a huge fan of both cheeses! I'd recommend a little less honey and a heavy hand with the pomegranate seeds. Not only do the soft cheese filling and luscious fig need the texture, but the burst of tartness is a perfect balance!

Fondi di Carciofi (Bacon-Wrapped Artichokes)
These were just - WOW. Certainly not diet friendly, but the salty, smoky bacon with the sour, juicy artichokes was amazing. We will be making these again.

Goat Cheese Crostini with Strawberry Bruschetta
I am a sucker for each of these ingredients individually, and they came together nicely. It didn't knock our socks off, but we are usually partial to savory crostinis. I'd use about half as much balsamic to macerate the strawberries, and don't be shy with that tangy goat cheese! 

What did you have for the 4th? I'm always looking for new recipes if you have a good one to try!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

D.C. Bucket List

As I mentioned here, some things are possibly changing for us. There has been a fair amount of uncertainty for us this past year, a few tentative steps forward, but we’re not quite at the point where we need to take the plunge into turning our world around. In this calm before the storm, we have often talked about moving away from our city. There are a number of factors at play, and we still have not made a final decision, but I thought it best to make a Bucket List in case we end up packing our bags on a whim (much like we did when we moved out here). Since making the list, we are already leaning more toward staying, but I decided to stick with my list and make the most of whatever time I have left in D.C.

This is not a comprehensive list of touristy things to do in and around our Nation’s Capitol. This is just a list of things I have heard about or wanted to do and somehow have not gotten around to. I have already crossed a few off the list since I made it last month, but I’ll try to chronicle my journeys here and let you know what I would recommend. For his part, Layne made a D.C. Restaurant Bucket List, so I may chronicle some of that, too.
  1. Montrose Park
  2. Pentagon Memorial
  3. Hike Great Falls Park
  4. Picnic on Theodore Roosevelt Island
  5. Fly kite and picnic on the mall
  6. Gettysburg
  7. Mount Vernon
  8. Monticello
  9. National Arboretum
  10. Paddle boats on Tidal Basin
  11. Williamsburg & Jamestown
  12. Caverns in Shenandoah
  13. Elevator on Washington Monument
  14. National Cathedral
  15. Newseum
  16. Dulles Air & Space Museum
  17. Watch planes at gravelly point
  18. Concert at WolfTrap (July 5!)
  19. Library of Congress
  20. National Geographic Museum
  21. Rock Creek Park Planetarium
  22. Dinner cruise on the Potomac
  23. Dumbarton House
  24. The Mansion on O St
  25. Fallingwater
  26. Baltimore
  27. Ford's Theater

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