Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Where has December gone?

Oh, right.  It went to crummy things like the stomach flu, a cold, and laryngitis right in a row.  And horrible news on CNN.  And church meetings, long work hours, and keeping house.  And fun things like baking, Friday night dates, Christmas shopping, party planning and family outings.

Now that I have a moment, I can hardly believe Christmas is next week!

I finished the absolute last of my Christmas shopping last night.  Once again, I had the hardest time figuring out what to get for my Dad.  He's a hard one to shop for (he's not very materialistic, and male-oriented gifts are just harder) and I always want to make sure I've found just the right thing.  So, last night found me clutching the steering wheel, peering through the smacking windshield wipers trying to navigate the fog and cursing the heavily trafficked DC streets. 

I hate driving at night.  Have I mentioned it before? If not, I should have.  It's one of Rachel's necessary truths: thou shalt not voluntarily drive at night.  Unless under the influence of an extreme Christmas-shopping high, I suppose.  And night driving in low-visibility fog?  The pitts.  It ages me 50 years and finds me turning off the radio, pushing up the seat and driving in the slow lane.  Oh well.

It's all worth it to have found the right thing. 

And now. Sweet bliss. I can enjoy the stress-free anticipation that come with the holiday. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

T-Bird Pride

I enjoyed high school.  Don't get me wrong...there is no amount of money you could offer me to make me go through it again, but it wasn't all that bad.  I had good friends, I liked my classes (for the most part), I was a member of the Dorchestra, the French Club, the Ski/Snowboard club and the track team.  [I may mention that I was not the star of anything in which I participated...].  I wasn't what you'd call popular, but all was well.

I went to most of the basketball and football games.  Not as a cheerleader, and usually not with a big crowd of friends.  Generally, I went to geekily hang around with the band kids and to pay more attention to cute boys in the crowd than to what was actually going on in the game.

Our high school mascot was the mythical Thunderbird.  A creature painted in orange, white and blue on the sides of our gym and other leering places around the school. 

My friends, who were on the cheer squad, liked to make up goofy cheers imitating the t-bird.  They'd chant "thunder, lightening," then kiss both biceps and growl.  To me now (and probably to you) this seems odd.  To us then it was a thing of beauty and a source of much amusement. 

But, I digress.

What I meant to say before I got distracted by memories of my younger, goofier, freckled and brace-faced self, is that I've never had a ton of high school pride.  Timpview is just not  place I spend a lot of time thinking about.

However, last week I had the occasion to bust out my old yearbook and have a few moments of t-bird pride boasting to some of my other YA lit loving friends.

Camille and I met up at the Bethesda library last Thursday to hear YA author Ally Condie speak.  Camille and I are both fans of her Matched series, so we joined what seemed like half the teenage population of Bethesda for the Q&A session and book signing.  If I had to guess, I'd say that we were the only people above 15 who weren't there as parents with their 15-year-old kids.  In a word: it was awesome.

Ally took questions for an hour.  She explained how she got the inspiration for the opening scene of the first book from a prom that she and her husband chaperoned when she taught high school English.  As she described the school and the prom, it all sounded eerily familiar. 

So, when I had her sign my book, I asked her, just out of curiosity, where she taught.  She then confirmed my suspicions that she'd taught at Timpview.

When I got home I googled around the Internet and found out that not only had she taught at my high school, she actually taught while I was there.  It was a big enough high school that I'd never met her, seen her, or even heard of her, but when I checked my year book there she was.  A younger, early-aughties haircut version of her, but her nonetheless.

Small world, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Young Adult

For the past few months I've had an obsession with reading young adult fiction.  I've always been a closet YA fan, but only recently have I allowed myself to read them with abandon.  Sure, I mix in a few "literary must-reads" here and there...and a smattering of biography and history, but my purest pleasure comes from getting lost in the worlds painted by YA authors.

I love that in YA literature good and evil are so clearly delineated.  And, though it may go back and forth for a while and may be precariously close to tipping in the other direction, good eventually triumphs over evil.  Not every story may end wrapped nicely in a bow, but for the most part they're somewhat uplifting. 

It's a nice change from much of the literature on my "I have to read this book because it's influential/classic/will-come-up-in-educated-conversation (or jeopardy)" list.

Here's what I've been reading lately:

The Maze Runner series by Dashner
Eragon by Paolini
the Matched series by Condi
the Divergent series by Roth
the Artemis Fowl series by Colfer
The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster (for maybe the 15th time - it's a favorite)
the Flavia de Luce series by Bradley
the Percy Jackson series by Riordan
the Hobbit by Tolkien (also for the umpteenth time)

So, my question for you is: what should I be reading now?  I'm currently working my way through A People's History of the United States, but am finding its apologist view of history more-than-slightly depressing.  I need a good YA book to keep my spirits afloat.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cleaning out the closets

Blake has been out of town a lot lately for work.  In fact, he's been gone about two nights a week for the last 5 weeks: Chicago, Dallas, New York, Boston, Atlanta...the list goes one. 

While he's away, I try to keep myself extra busy.  It's usually the time when I finally get down to business with my housekeeping- vacuuming, scrubbing baseboards etc., but it's also when I do a lot of crafting.

Last night some friends came over and we watched the movie Brave while we knitted/sewed on our various projects. 

Knitting night may sound a bit sister-wives-ish, but let me tell you: it's simply grand!  It's the perfect time to watch silly movies, eat snacks, and attempt one of the pins languishing in the depths of the pinterest archives. 

Blake served part of his mission in Cape Verde (a group of islands off the west coast of Africa).  Some of his converts made him lace doilies by hand as a thank you gift.  They've been hiding out in the back of his closet in New Hampshire ever since, but this summer when I saw them I knew I wanted to drag them out and make something useful out of them.  I'd seen an idea on pinterest via Martha Stewart and mentally filed it away as a potential use for the doilies.

So yesterday it was finally down to business.  After much arranging and re-arranging, I came up with a satisfactory placement and roughly sewed the doilies together.  I may or may not have accidentally sewn a couple of them to the rug as I went (wasn't that a fun discovery at the end when I tried to pick the whole thing up? whoops).

After snipping my creation free of the rug, I added it to the table with a new poinsettia from the grocery store and some grey-green candles.  Nothing glamorous, but it makes me happy to have Christmas making an appearance at the house.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First world problems

Most years I have my Christmas shopping done (or close to done) by Thanksgiving.  This is partially because I like to plan ahead and find deals throughout the year, but it's mostly due to the fact that I absolutely can't stand going to the mall in December.

The crowds.  The harsh lights.  The cold weather outside that makes me dress warm and then carry around more and more clothes as I shed layers in the store. 

I get stressed.  I get tired.  I get sweaty.

This year I am way behind.  As in I just started my shopping this week.  November 2012, I love you, but you're bringing me down.  Why are you bringing me down?

Now, this late start would be ok if I actually had a idea in mind of what to buy for everyone on my list.  Then I could go clicky clicky online from the comfort of my own bed on Black Friday morning and get most of it taken care of.  But alas, I'm fresh out of ideas. 

Like most December-mall-o-phobes, I'll be turning to the internet for guidance (and pestering my family and friends with every spare second of my time for their lists).  I'll tell you one thing, though, there ain't no way you'll see me out at all hours waiting in line with those hooligans on Black Friday.

BuzzFeed claims that the the US Army lists Walmart as the most dangerous place in the country on Black Friday each year.  Not Detroit, not SE DC, but Walmart. 

If that's not enough to keep you out of the malls this weekend, I don't know what would.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apocalypse Now

The world is in a sorry state.  You know how I know?  Because something like this is for sale on the world wide web.  And it's for sale for $49.00 (!!!). 

The dubious levels of taste on Etsy make me question the status of the human race. [And now I'm off to have nightmares about those bulging black eyes.]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Au Bonheur des Dames

So, we've learned that I sometimes get drawn in my infomercials.

Well, infomercials are nothing compared to the infinite buying (spending?) opportunities that fall clothing catalogues provide. 

Colder weather equals more layers equals more clothes equals must.buy.more scarves/sweaters/jackets/earmuffs etc. 

And the terrible thing is that it's hard to escape.  J.Crew sends what seems like hundreds of catalogues each year, Nordstrom's glossy mags are more like books, and let's not even get started on the dreaded email promotions that flood my inbox on a daily basis. 

I rarely buy anything, but my online shopping carts at any given point are filled at probably 15 different stores.  I get some sort of grim satisfaction going through the site, picking out everything I want, and then seeing the total at the end.  I think it's satisfying mostly because the total always scares me out of making even a single purchase.  Fear is an effective budgeting tool.

But, in an effort to reign in my online shopping, I've been systematically unsubscribing myself from all sorts of mailing lists.  Goodbye to the siren's song of 30% off $150 or more at J.Crew.  Adieu to the shopping rabbit hole that is the 40% off friends and family sale at Gap. 

Plus, as Christmas approaches, I'm instituting a credit card embargo.  The only time my AmEx is allowed to make an appearance is when there are gifts for others involved...

P.S.  I am now realizing that this makes me sound like a shop-a-holic or a prolific spender.  I maintain that I am neither...I just tend to get starry-eyed over beautiful ads...it's The Ladies' Paradise up in here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bits and pieces.

If you really want to enjoy a chick flick, go out with a colleague on a Thursday night and catch the 8:00 showing.  It'll be post-happy hour, and filled with women who've had enough to drink that they're entertainingly heckling and swooning, but not so much to drink that they're obnoxious.  You won't regret it.

If you're unable to resist eating all of the left-over Halloween candy at home, put it in bags and hide it in out-of-the-way places.  I promise that this simple act will save you approximately 10,000 calories in under two days. 

If you really want a good political conversation, bring up the election with a DC resident and then remind them that their vote doesn't actually count.

If you're ever tempted by a TV infomercial, it's not always the best course of action to resist your purchase impulses.  Blake and I are now the proud owners of the Perfect Tortilla Pan Set, and after a test-run on Saturday, I can verify their absolute necessity.  (That's what having power during a hurricane does to you - it makes you watch 8 hours of TV so you get suckered into such things...)

City of Words DC is a recent find that will keep you sufficiently preoccupied during your lunch hour. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Coming up for air.


I've made it.

Hurricane Sandy closed down the Law Center for two days last week.  And, although it was lovely to have two days off (with power, miraculously!), I came back to absolute insanity at work.

You see, having two days cancelled means that we had to reschedule over 300 classes...all within the next four weeks until the semester is over.  It was a nightmare.  Picture a gigantic puzzle in which the pieces are constantly changing shape and deciding not to alight correctly on a whim. 

I'm down to tracking down my last handful of professors, and then I can breath a true sigh of relief, but at least I'm getting close and can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So.  Other than craziness at work, yes, we're totally fine - no damage at home, no power outages, no water problems.  We're thankful that we just finished doing all our waterproofing projects this summer and are now certain they were worth every penny.  It's nice to feel like our money was well-spent. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reese's Pieces

My littlest (ok, littlest is not the right word since he's six feet tall...lets go with youngest) brother, Reese - he's the one surrounded by ladies in the photo below is a pretty great guy.  He's always been the sweetest guy.  I hope my saying that doesn't decrease his street cred, but there you have it.  He's a sweetheart. 

The week before I moved to DC all those years ago, Reese came and knocked on my door and asked if he could take me out to lunch before I moved.  He had saved his money so that he could take me out to J-Dawgs (his favorite hot dog place).  Mind you, he was 13 at the time, so offering to spend that kind of money to take me out was a big deal.  But that's just the type of guy he is - he's thoughtful and kind; friendly and giving.

He's also an old soul.  I like to joke that he was born 45 years old.  He's been "working on his resume" since before he could even legally hold a job, and, when he found out what Valedictorian meant, he decided, "yeah, I think I want to be that."  That's Reese for you - outsmarting us all even back in his tweens.

Reese has studied German since the 7th grade and was desperately hoping to get his mission call to Germany.  Of course, this made me think that he'd more likely get called somewhere like Hong Kong or Madagascar, just because that's the way things go. 

Blake and I, along with the rest of our family, waited fraught with anticipation for him to receive his call this past Wednesday.  I could hardly believe it when Reese called me at 6:30 and excitedly told me that he'd gotten called exactly where he dreamed of going - Berlin!

Congratulations, baby brother!  We'll miss you these next two years, but we're so excited for you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Leaf Peeping

Fall in DC is almost as beautiful as Spring in DC.  The air is crisp. The grass is green, the trees are orange, red and yellow.  In a word, it's gorgeous.

Blake and I have been taking daily weekend walks and bike rides to enjoy the weather and the leaves.  It was especially picturesque on our leaf peeping walk this morning.  

Photo credit, of course, goes to Blake.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hannah at The Nail Bar

Blake's been out of town for work a lot lately, so I've had to find ways to keep myself entertained.

I was pretty exhausted after work yesterday, and after making it through the 60-person sit-down dinner I planned this past week, I figured I deserved a little pampering.  So I treated myself to a pedicure at my favorite place.  I picked out the perfect wine-red color (the color this fall, I've been told) and settled down in the massage chair to oogle my Crate & Barrel holiday catalogue and enjoy the foot massage.

My nail technician (is that what they're called?) didn't speak good English, but she was very emphatic on trying to up-sell me on various beautifying procedures.  In fact, her method of up-selling made me feel rather fugly:

Pointing to my face: "You want me to clean up your eyebrows?"

What?  Are they really that bad?  Thanks, but no thanks, I'm not letting you anywhere near my brows. 

Reaching for my nail-bitten hands and clucking in disapproval: "You need manicure."  Not said as a question, but as a fact.

Great.  My hands are grotesque, too.  What next?  Is she going to suggest that she wax my upper lip? 

Pumice-stoning my rough feet: "How many times you get pedicure?"

"Um, I dunno, two times a year I guess?"

Clucking again with disapproval and looking around to see if anyone else had heard my answer: "ONLY TWO TIMES?!"  Smug laughing.  Shaking her head.  "You only come two times?" 

Ok lady, so I don't want to spend $20.00 a month getting my toes shined.  Sue me.  I'm cheap.

At this point she then calls all her colleagues over to tell them (in what I think was Thai) all about how I only get pedicures twice a year.  They all proceeded to shake their heads in disapproval and give me looks of pity. 

So now I'm ugly and unkempt.  Perfect. 

I'd had about all I could take of Hannah and her high-pitched insults, so I dove back into the lovely retail world of red waffle makers and holiday-shaped marshmallows.  Besides, what does she know anyway?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

V to the Izzay

On Columbus Day weekend, Blake and I woke up on Sunday and decided to take an overnight adventure to Richmond.  I'd never been, and the hotel prices were so good, that we quickly booked a place, packed and jumped in the car (with treats in hand).

We listened to a session of General Conference on the way down (2 hour drive, 2 hour session. perfect!).  Thank goodness for iPhones and the ability to stream online content.  It was a grey day, but it was still pretty and we enjoyed the changing leaves while we listened to the session.

I will admit, though, that my favorite part of the trip down was stopping in Fredericksburg at Wegmans for lunch.  Man, I love that place (we also stopped there for lunch on the way back).  I'm like a kid in a candy store in there.  Blake and I both ended up getting two baked treats each for the rest of the drive - yes, yes, we are gluttons, but it was vacation!

I have a major design crush on the folks over at Young House Love, so we followed this list of their favorite "top fives" in Richmond while we were there.  It's a small enough city that we were able to check a lot more off the list than I thought we'd be able to. 

First up after checking into our swanky hotel (Blake's policy is to always ask first-thing for a free upgrade.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  This time it did. Awesome.) was to head over to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.  It was free, and a surprisingly amazing museum.  The building has recently been redone - it's huge and beautiful. And, I saw a couple of Monets that I hadn't ever seen before - one of Poppies that I was absolutely in love with, as well as some modern art of dubious merit that made me question the sanity of the curators.  But then again, what do I know?  I'm not an art aficionado by any means.  I either like it or I don't.  And I just couldn't dredge up any appreciation for the gangster painted on red velvet pictured below.

After a jaunt by the Virginia State House and a ridiculously amazing dinner at Crab Louie (seriously, if you're ever in Richmond vicinity you have to eat here!) we lounged at the hotel while Blake watched baseball and I read. 

Monday brought an unexpectedly early wake-up call in the form of a loud metallic scraping noise as a maintenance crew removed the wallpaper in the hallway outside our room.  Not the perfect way to start the morning, but we found it slightly hilarious when we finally looked outside the room and saw that ours was the ONLY portion of the hallway being worked on.  Go figure.  Not to worry, Blake turned the situation into free parking and Starbucks (would you expect anything less?) so we were happy.

Much to Blake's chagrin, we spent the morning going to thrift stores.  They were great thrift stores with lots of furniture, but we left empty handed.  I had to memorialize my favorite with a photo - Love of Jesus Thrift.  Good stuff.

We'd unknowingly saved our favorite stop of Richmond for last - the Decorating Outlet.  It's the outlet store for Shades of Light which is one of my favorite places to browse online for lighting.  We ended up spending about an hour in the store and left with four lights!   Our biggest score being, of course, the long-lusted sconce for our hallway.

We left the city well-rested and will a trunk full of light fixtures.  I'd call that a success.  It was just the sort of trip we needed.  It's nice to be away from home (even if it's close to home) so that I'm not tempted to spend my time cleaning or doing laundry or filling my time with other necessary-but-not-fun things on a holiday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A shower for Destiny

There's nothing I love more than a chance to celebrate a friend - especially when there's a baby involved. 

Adrienne and I planned a shower to celebrate the much-anticipated arrival of Destiny's little one.  Destiny is being stalwart and is not finding out the gender of her baby until the birth, (I know for a fact that I'd never be able to wait that long...I'm way too impatient) so we kept the colors fairly gender-neutral and went for a "nesting" theme. 

I was happy to finally get a chance to use my bird chocolate molds to make little bird toppers for my double-chocolate-pumpkin cupcakes.  I had Blake take photos of everything with his nice camera, but I have yet to load those onto my computer, so these iphone photos will have to suffice.

We also decorated onesies for little baby Bachman and I was impressed by the talent all of the ladies possessed for turning a plain-old white onesie into an Etsy-worthy baby outfit. 

Decorating onesies ended up being so much fun that I made several of the peter pan collar onesies pictured below and am planning to send them to my friends that are currently expecting baby girls.  I never could resist a peter pan collar...and in newborn size?  Forget about it.  I'm smitten.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I don't know about you, but nothing (*almost nothing) gives me as much satisfaction as getting a good deal.

I've been looking at this sconce for the past year or so on Shades of Light. It was perfect for our main floor hallway. I pinned it.  I loved it. I lusted it. I needed it.

But, alas, it was $199.00. Way too much for my frugal Mormon heart to accept.

So I waited. And waited. And cheated on my sconce by looking at other sconces at places like the Home Depot and Lowes. Oh, for shame!

But, like a tragic love story or substance addition, I kept coming back to it.

And you know what? All the waiting and lusting paid off.  This past weekend Blake and I drove down to Richmond as a spur-of-the-moment adventure, and we happened upon the only Shades of Light decorating outlet in the country. And there, sitting quietly in the corner, was THE sconce. And the price? $24.00. You better believe I snapped it right up.

Victory is mine! And it is so sweet.

Friday, October 5, 2012

French Lavender Soap

My Arabic conversation instructor in college was a Swedish-born Egyptian with sparkling eyes, cutting wit, and a grand flare for artistry.

One day as she was helping me struggle through dual conjugations and the musdaar, she told me that she almost always assigned a specific item to each person she came in contact with.  Something tangible that describes the feeling or jist of the person. 

I think I tend to do the same thing, but it less defined terms.  There are definitely certain sounds, sights, tastes, smells that remind me of certain people, but I'm not sure if I'm consciously assigning that to them or if it's more of an organic process.

I was intrigued and asked her what she'd mentally assigned to me.  She considered for a moment, then declared: French Lavender Soap.

This, coming from her, was quite flattering to me.  She was beautiful, international, sparkling and outgoing.  I was dorky, gangly and arabicly tongue-tied.  And yet she thought of me as pleasant (though, come to think of it...who knows...). 

For some reason I've been thinking back to this lately and wondering if she'd still place me the same way.  Am I still peaceful French lavender soap?  Or am I now more of a sassy half-full jar of Nutella?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

BikeShare the Mall with Me

Continuing down the list of "things I've never done, but have always wanted to do," my Mom and I joined Capital BikeShare for the day and biked the mall. 

We picked up our bikes by my office/The Capitol, and made our way down the mall to the Lincoln memorial.  It was a spectacular day (weather-wise) for riding bikes.  In terms of ease, though, well, let's just say I was sweaty-palmed and white-knuckled for most of the ride.

The day was beautiful, alright, so beautiful that seemingly every man, woman, and child within a 25 mile radius had the same idea we did.  Not to mention it was also the National Storytelling Festival, so between Constitution and Independence from the Washington Monument to the Capitol was a solid, seething mass of tired/excited kids and just plain tired parents.

It was a dodge-and-weave situation for much of the afternoon.  I'm pretty sure I lost 3 pounds in water weight just from the amount of stress sweating happening during the ride.  Confession: this may come as a surprise, but I'm just not that adventurous.  Bike ride alone on the paths at the mall? A-ok.  Bike ride with 100,000 other people who all (myself included) have no idea what they're doing? No, gracias.

I was feeling pretty proud that I made it all the way down to the Lincoln in my nervous state.  My mom was great to put up with my constant breaking and oft-panicked facial expressions.

Verdict: both awesome and awesomely stressful.  I'm excited to go again when there isn't a child-friendly event.  Maybe in the evening when the monuments are lit up?  Who's with me?


Friday, September 28, 2012

Trash to Treasure

My neighbors have the greatest trash. 

I should clarify: my neighborhood has a very active listserv.  People often post that they're getting rid of one thing or another and that it's available for pick-up on their curb. 

It turns out that this is just the sort of thing that appeals to my cheapskate, Mormon heart.  And I've really lucked out picking stuff up from my neighbors "trash piles" in this way. 

I've scored a chair, a 50's style rolling desk chair, a library lamp, a vintage steamer trunk, an x-box (complete with 5 controllers, a headset and 25 games), a console table and a few other things.

But, my favorite "rescue item" is probably the American Girl doll brass bedstead that I snagged while on a walk a couple weeks ago.  I saw it and knew my niece, Ella, would just love it to use with her American Girl doll. 

The bedstead was in perfect condition- just a little dusty, so I came home and quickly cleaned it up.  Then I used things I had around the house to make a mattress, a quilt and a couple pillows.  I love the mint green and pink with the brass.  So much, in fact, that I am almost tempted to keep this for myself.  Not that I have ever had a doll (I had Ninja Turtle action figures instead) or a kid with a doll, but it's just so cute! 

To recap:
Brass bedstead - free
Quilt, mattress and pillows - free
Time spent - about a half hour
Total: Free-ninety-nine

I can't wait to give this to little Ella.  She'll like it, don't you think?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Apple (or 10) a Day

 My Mom came to visit for a few days last weekend.  Usually when she comes we end up doing house-related projects the whole time (my Mom is a home improvement genius!) and I end up feeling guilty that I put her to work for the entirety of her vacation.

So this time I made sure that we used the time as a true vacation. I took both Friday and Monday off work and we both had a truly relaxing vacation. 

It's nice to have guests that have already seen the sites multiple times so that we can branch out and do things that wouldn't necessarily be on a normal tourist's list. 

I did have a couple of things to do on my agenda - things I've never gotten around to doing, but have always wanted to do because the weekends are never long enough and there's always too much yard work or housework to be done on Saturdays when I would otherwise be gallivanting around the area on adventures with Blake.

Our first item on the list was going to Butler's Orchard for apple and raspberry picking.  It was a glorious 70-degree day with a clear sky and a slight breeze.  It couldn't have been a more beautiful day. 

Prior to driving up, I had worried that there wouldn't be any raspberries left for us to pick.  But boy was I wrong.  There were still tons of them - we just had to take our time.  We picked two pounds of raspberries (some of which didn't even make it to the car before we started snacking on them).  Hands down the best raspberries I've ever had.

We also got a little carried away picking apples.  We thought we were picking 20 pounds...but...it turns out we picked 40 (!!!!) pounds of apples.  Whoops.

Not quite knowing what we were going to do with all 40 pounds of the apples, we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up pie-making supplies.  We made four pies - baked one and put the rest in the freezer - and had only used one bag of apples.  We also ended up putting together cellophane-wrapped packages to give to our friends and neighbors.  Blake and I have each been eating two or three per day, but we're still only down to 2 bags. 

Now it's a race against time...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

S'More Nothing

Do you ever feel like everything exciting happens on the same day?  Not necessarily good exciting or bad exciting, but just out-of-the ordinary.

My week has been like that.  Monday, Tuesday, meh, same-old same-old: get up, get ready, chomp on breakfast on the way to the metro, work, read, cook dinner, work out, shower, watch a show, go to bed.  Repeat.

Then Wednesday hits.  A normally 35 minute commute takes 1 hour 35 minutes due to lack of power on the rails. We spend 15 minutes standing on a platform in NE DC wondering how in the world we're going to actually get to work (and join every single other person on the platform in frantically calling our offices to let them know we'll be missing whatever we have scheduled that morning):

I finally make it to work an hour late feeling ennui that can only be cured by Diet Coke or ice cream.  I opt, due to the morning hour, for the Diet Coke route.

A couple of my colleagues and I decide to further combat our metro-induced frustration by taking a long lunch and walking to the MLK library and then out to lunch.  I am now the proud owner of a DC library card (hooray for reciprocal borrowing privileges!).

The weather is perfect when I get off work, so I enjoy the walk home in the crisp fall air.  I dodge the oddly cut branch overhanging our walkway (it's a long story...), open all the windows in the house and start in on dinner and the cream cheese pound cake recipe I've been dying to try. 

Ten minutes later a man (woman?) from a childrens' poverty sponsorship agency (to sponsor the children, not their poverty...obviously) knocks on the door and proceeds to make me awkward by 1) asking if I'm really over 21, and 2) telling me that during the course of our conversation, "Bam! 50 children have already died of starvation etc. while we've been talking."  Feeling guilty and grumpy does not make my wallet open any more easily, lady (man?). 

Right before book group is supposed to start, I hear what sounds like a cross between a crying baby and a strangled cat howling outside the window.  I think at first it is some friends playing a joke on me, but Kristin knowingly informs me that it was actually a male cat in heat. 

We find him lounging in the ground-cover in the backyard, arching his back and yowling unceasingly.  It is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying and I find myself considering how I'd defend myself in the event of a cat attack (stop, drop and roll?  cover eyes, nose and mouth to prevent massive allergy attack?).

Book group otherwise goes off without a hitch, but I find myself absolutely exhausted by the end of the evening. 

What will tomorrow bring? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

A blog about nothing

Today's street-preacher snippet (mind you this was being yelled into a cell phone - because apparently he preaches remotely, too):

"...and men were made by God to be warriors.  And you aren't born a warrior.  You have to go on a quest to be a spiritual warrior. I only recently became a warrior as I was previously possessed by devils..."


On Tuesday night Blake and I were watching TV in our family room with all the windows open because the weather was incredible and we wanted to dispel the fumes from refinishing our kitchen counter tops.  We noticed that it started to smell like smoke. This didn't bother us. In fact, it kind of made me jealous because I thought someone was having a BBQ and that sounded nice. 

Then we started hearing multiple fire engines and ambulances.  Then we felt the floor rumbling faintly and finally roused ourselves from the couch to look out the windows.  The engines were parked just a couple houses down from us! 

Blake and I ran outside and walked up the street to investigate.  It was only when we were standing in front of the fire engines and the evacuees that we realized that we still had our bowls of ice cream in hand.  And I continued to eat mine in the soft glow of the fire engine lights - I couldn't just let it melt!  So, yes, we are those people: the ones who bring treats to a tragedy.

Finally - because this has been a post about absolutely nothing - I give you Cookies About Nothing
Enjoy.  And have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Labor Day - Belatedly

We kept our Labor Day weekend low-key and close to home with a day trip up to Baltimore and lots of lounging and movie-watching around home.  It was perfect.  Blake and I have both been crazy busy at work (Blake more so than I) and we loved having time to hang out with friends, relax, and not think about work for a couple of days.

Some friends joined with us on our day trip and we had a grand time despite the heat.  It was humid, muggy, and probably about a million degrees, but we kept our morale up by popping into stores like It's Sugar and the Fudge Factory.  It's impossible not to be smiling when you're listening to a bunch of guys sing a capella about fudge making.  As a side note: I learned that I'll do just about anything for a free sample - listen to an a capella musical about fudge? no problem. be made to sing and dance to the songs - I can do that too as long as there's fudge in my immediate future.

We got crab cakes, explored the shops at Fells Point and stumbled up the reason for all that traffic we'd encountered in the inner harbor: the Grand Prix.  We were especially confused as to why folks would buy tickets to sit in the hot grandstands when they could get a perfectly good view through the fence from the shade.  Sometimes it pays to be cheap.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Puppy Love

On our way to Home Depot on Saturday, Blake and I got an email about a dog adoption day at the local pound.  Although we weren't successful at finding any non-pit bulls at the pound, we did pass a puppy store afterwards and excitedly pulled over to spend the next hour playing with the puppies.

We were particularly taken with the three-month-old golden doodle.  All the other dogs were yipping and chasing each other around while he was asleep in his bed.  We asked if we could play with him in one of the "puppy play rooms" (yes, there truly is such a marvelous thing as a puppy play room!) and he was the sweetest thing.  He just wanted to put his head on our laps and be snuggled.  He was quiet and so docile. 

It absolutely broke our hearts to leave without him, but because he was only an F1 doodle, he was more golden retriever than poodle, and was shedding like crazy.  That's a no go for a girl with allergies like mine.  It was worth an afternoon of sneezing to play with him for an hour, but it wouldn't have worked out in the long run. 

After talking about getting a dog for the past four years, we're finally getting close to pulling the trigger.  There's just no reason why we shouldn't be living each day greeted by a face as cute as this one:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Madly in Love

There's a street preacher between Union Station and my office who is loud and full of important proclamations to the world.  He'll cast out your demons. He'll bless you and your family.  He'll proclaim your past and your future.  All for the price of holding your hand...and a small donation of course.

Usually he's bellowing out hell and brimstone. Or he's praising Jesus: holding someones hand with eyes downcast in mutual prayer.  But yesterday was different.  Yesterday's prayer was my favorite. 

He was holding a woman's hand. Eye's downcast in the usual fashion.  Swaying a bit to his chanting. Ignoring the sagging pants and growing plumbers crack creeping down his backside.

And I bless you....praise him...praise him...mmmhmmm...I bless you...to fall MADLY IN LOVE WITH ME. 

I wonder if she had to "donate" extra for that?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cystinosis and Sam's Hope for a Cure

Ashton and I have been the best of friends since I met her when I moved to Utah in the 4th grade.  We played barbies together, experimented with cooking together, drew dream-home floor plans together, trick-or-treated together, travelled together...and basically did everything together through college when we were roommates and then afterward until I moved out to DC. 

I can honestly say she's one of the most beautiful people (inside and out) that I've ever met.  She's hard-working, easy-going and never complains when things are difficult.  She's the epitome of generosity and knows how to create beauty (seemingly effortlessly) wherever she goes.  She's the sister I never had, but always wanted. 

As you can imagine, it's heartbreaking for me that her two gorgeous little boys have a rare genetic disorder called Cystinosis.  Cystinosis is so rare, in fact, that only around 500 people in the country have it.  You can read more about the symptoms of Cystinosis here.

As Ashton and her husband mention in their letter, Cystinosis is so rare that it does not receive much government attention or funding. So, in honor of her older son Sam's third birthday, Ashton and her husband Stephen started a non-profit to raise money for Cystinosis research.

If you're looking for a cause to support, I would be overjoyed if you chose to support one that's near and dear to my heart: Sam's Hope for a Cure.  If you'd like to make a donation, you can do so here

Here's to Ashton, Stephen, Sam and Lars!  Here's to helping find a cure!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The real normal

Do you ever have those weeks where you've been extremely busy, but you look back and feel like you did a whole lot of nothing?  Last week was like that for me.

During the week I felt like I didn't have two seconds to rub together, but then, as I look back, I can't really pinpoint what I was up to.  Probably just a busy work schedule, trying to keep the house clean, and perpetually picking up the smashed figs that the squirrels and birds like to leave around our yard.  You know, the glamorous, fun stuff.

This week isn't really much better in terms of excitement.  The Law Center semester starts next Tuesday, so I'm slogging through the piles of questions the adjunct faculty members like to hit me with at the last second.  I don't blame them...I'd probably be the same way, but it sure takes it out of me.  If I never write another email again after today I'd be perfectly happy...

Monday, August 20, 2012

At last...my rug has come along!

A rug at last. 

I've been searching off-and-on for a rug for our living room since we moved in.  It's a long room that includes the entry-way and the living room, so I wanted to get something to define the seating area as a separate space from the entry area.

For me, rugs are always the hardest part of decorating.  Do I get something with a pattern? Something plain?  Fluffy?  Flat-weave?  Will I get sick of a patterned rug?  Will it conflict with other elements of the room?  Will it hold up to the foot traffic? The list goes on.

One of my primary issues is that to get a nice rug for a room this size would normally cost a small fortune. And I'm not willing to part with a small fortune...especially not for something I'm so wishy-washy on. 

I started contemplating a hair-on-hide rug about a year ago when I cruising the archives of some of my favorite design blogs.  I love the organic shape and the fact that they're true work-horses (pun?) in terms of holding up to wear-and-tear.  But again, other than the IKEA version (which I didn't absolutely love), it was an expensive proposition.

Then - cue the heavenly choirs singing - Blake and I were perusing Arhaus before dinner one night and noticed that they had a zebra-print rug and that it was on sale!  Drastic sale.  75% off to be exact.  That put it, mercifully, in our price range.  It only took a few minutes of my incessant chattering to successfully convince Blake that, yes, we needed this zebra rug for our home. 

20 minutes later we were home and eagerly re-positioning our furniture and the rug "just-so." 

Not the best (iPhone) picture, but it looks amazing in person.

It pays to wait for a deal.

Friday, August 17, 2012

That's a wrap

Sometimes when you've spent the week battling the stomach flu, you've gotta review pictures of your latest vacation to remind yourself that life can be more than just vertigo and the view of the inside of a toilet bowl.

Life is Maine Black Bear with extra hot fudge - purchased with part of the $20.00 found on the sidewalk.  It is blueberries picked and eaten straight off the bushes by the dock. 

Life is fresh produce from New Hampshire farmers markets. And pulling up to get gas in the boat on a perfectly blue Winnipesaukee day. 

Life is having a laugh with your best friend while pulling up to the fair and noticing one old man riding the Ferris wheel by himself.  It is giddily buying armfuls of almost-new books for pennies.  It is ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the beautiful New England architecture. 

Yep. Life outside of the stomach flu is pretty darn great.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

From King Kong to Jaws

Now that the Olympics are over (and I've filled my sport-free afternoons with Shark Week), I've been thinking a lot about the games:

1.  Is it really fair to call Phelps the winningest Olympian?  Sure, he's fabulous at what he does, but isn't it unfair to name him champion when he's in a sport in which he can win so many medals?  Track stars are going to win, what, maybe three medals per games if they're lucky? Discuss.

2.  We (as a human race) have spent the last several million years evolving away from monkeys.  And yet here we are awarding top honors to the folks who have managed to combat evolution and do with their bodies what monkeys can do.  Exhibit A:

Again, discuss.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pennsylvania Blue

When we purchased our home back in 2009, we knew we'd have to make some landscaping updates. The shed was old and crummy, and the brick patio was buckled and sloping precipitously in toward the house.  The brick required constant weeding, and caused me frequent heartburn as every time it rained, the water would come rushing in toward the house and pool by the foundation (eek!).

We ousted the old shed and replaced with with a new, updated version throughout last summer and into the winter (our projects take a long time around here, ok?), and have been saving and planning for a new flagstone patio since we signed our mortgage papers on the dotted line. 

Although we're often DIY-ers, we weren't ready to take on the leveling, foundation digging, cement stair jack-hammering and general stone heave-ho-ing that comes with putting in a new patio.

We worked with East Coast Landscaping to come up with a plan, and let them work their magic. 

They had a last-minute hole in their schedule, so they started construction while we were up at the lake.  We had them send pictures at the end of each day, and had to have a few changes made (we're pretty picky customers), but it was a fairly painless process. 

We couldn't be more tickled with how it turned out.  AND (big, important and) we've already had a couple of nasty rain storms, where, to our delight, the water rolled politely off the patio away from the house rather than rushing in toward it.  As if the patio weren't beautiful enough to look at, it also brings the sweet relief of knowing I can sleep at night without worrying that our foundation would be soggily disintegrating.

I even bought some long lusted-after outdoor lights - I like to think of them as the cherry on top of a big, delicious ice cream sundae.

Come over and have a BBQ with us soon, ok?