Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pentagon Memorial.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to get to this memorial. I literally pass it twice a day, at least 9 months of the year.

Maybe it's because it's so real. I can remember where I was, who I was with, what I felt. I remember my communications teacher rushing into my biology class and telling us to turn on the tv. I remember the announcements from the principal, after we saw the plane hit the second tower, to turn the tv off. I remember hearing a plane so low, rushing to the windows with the class, and seeing the belly of a commercial plane. That plane was headed to Shanksville, about 50 miles from my hometown.

I remember being so shaken in everything I knew. I remember grilling my mum for answers. I remember sitting inches from the tv all night, waiting for some answer. None of it made sense. I still don't really understand.

The memorial is beautiful. Every inch has meaning and symbolism, as it should. It's emotional and uplifting, solemn and hopeful all at once.

I still can't believe it happened.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mission Accomplished.

Since I moved to the district, it has been my goal to have my youngest sister visit. This is by no means a reflection of any sort of favoritism. It's just that Vero visited me within a month of my move and has visited since. I know he wants to visit and I love when she does because we get to romp around my favorite spots. Steph, on the other hand, works so much and is so dedicated to it that I knew it'd be a struggle to get her physically down here.

Finally, after nearly three years of bugging, the schedules aligned and she and Mum showed up on Friday for a weekend visit.

First up: Alexandria farmer's market. We're suckers for veggies, though my waistline could deceive you, and stocked up on some of the best cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and threw in a fresh loaf of Italian bread and some strawberry rhubarb mini-pies, too.

Mum also loved fresh flower selection and the deals the man was offering. We got a mixed bouquet, a dried flower bouquet, and two mini peony bouquets for $8. They look beautiful in my vase I picked up while thrifting a few weeks ago.

And again because these flowers are insanely gorgeous.

After dealing with some broken air conditioner issues that involved me rewiring the thermostat before realizing it was the unit that was broken (and we're back to cooler temps!), we headed toward Roosevelt Island. I can't believe I haven't been here yet. Well actually, I can. A friend said a deer crossed their path here.

What, that doesn't explain it? Well then, let me open you up to my crazy. Deer are shady. They cannot be trusted. They stop, stare at you with their beady eyes, you can't tell where their pupils are, and you can't tell what they're thinking. Before you know it, they are hoofing your face. HOOVES STOMPING YOU IN THE FACE. And then you have a black eye you have to explain. Which I imagine would go something like this:

Person: How drunk were you this weekend?
Me: Au contraire, I was not drunk! I was, however, attacked by a deer whilst innocently enjoying the nature and scenery offered by Roosevelt Island.
Person: Mmm, yes, you need to work on that story.
Me: You can't work on the truth!

You see the problems you'd hypothetically have? And a black eye would be the least of your injuries when compared to the emotional scarring that must cause.

You know what a lion's thinking before he bites your face off. I'm just saying.

Thankfully, we escaped Roosevelt Island unscathed. We high fived the prez for his good work and fabulous island, ambled around enjoying the shade, and dodged the many joggers, some of whom were singing and jogging. They were not human.

Roosevelt really got the good end of the stick. He has an ISLAND. All the other pressies (that's my abbreviation or presidents, though if I have to explain it, it's probably not worth it) have a spot on the nearly 2-mile stretch of shadeless mall. Roosevelt got an island, free of traffic, noise,and the unrelenting glare of the sun. Johnny Depp has an island. Rockstar status.

Then we did the Ghosts and Ghouls tour of Alexandria. I would highly recommend, and as this was my second time on the tour, clearly I have taken my own recommendation. I'm not paid or perked by them either. Well, not directly. The man selling tickets asked if I was under 18 and that's where the price changse, but I'm not sure if I should take that as a compliment. The jury's still out. The tour is about an hour walk around roughly six-blocks and guides in period wear tell you ghost stories and history of the time. I didn't take any pictures because it was dark and I hate the flash. Or let's be serious, I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I happened to catch a ghost. If you're in the area, check it out here.

Sunday started with a DC Duck tour. Mum has quite an affinity for these amphibious boats, and she was not going to miss this one. That, and she's well on her way to hitting a duck tour in every city and now that she's found they're possible abroad, there's really no stopping her.

I enjoy factoids, and we got quackers at the end. Great success.

All in all, a fantastic weekend trip and mission: get Steph to Alexandria was accomplished. The wonky blister on the bottom of my foot between my big and second toe is totally worth it. This 30 by 30 may just be possible.

I crossed something else off the list this past weekend, and I'll let you in on that on Thursday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Making Moves.

Sorry for the delayed post! I was without internet for a bit. Dagger.

I guess I should also apologize that this post isn’t super exciting. I think I’ve mentioned that my roommate and I are staying in our apartment for the next year. I’m incredibly excited because this is the first year since 2006 that I won’t be moving. That’s six years of moving. Six years of packing. If there were one of those studies with how much of your life is packing, I would’ve hit my quota.

Nevertheless, I kind of love moving. I love forcing myself to go through all of my stuff, I love a couple days of exercise that aren’t running, and I love rearranging. I was feeling the void on the last the most.
So I started measuring my room and deciding what could be changed. I’m not working with much, but there are options. Then in my typical fashion, I got bored with counting blocks on the graph paper and I just started pushing stuff around.

So remember how my bed used to be like this from the closet?

I liked that layout, but I wasn’t liking the sun in the morning as much anymore. I know this is much more of a curtain problem than a layout problem, but I’m waiting for the perfect fabric. The bed’s problem was that I couldn’t hide from the sun. No matter which way I rolled, it was still coming head on. The second issue was the robbers. No, we weren’t actually robbed. I should restate to say that I’m crazy. The irrational fear that someone would come into my room, scoot down that super small hallway/nook that the door is in, and them BAM! there’d be my face, ripe for the attacking as I’d be totally unawares, was always an issue for my crazy head. With my bed on the opposite wall, the robbers/attackers would be at my feet first, giving me an extra couple seconds to prepare. Before I totally lose you, the third reason was boredom. I wanted to change something, and furniture is easier than the world.

So I removed the end tables from the wall and pushed about. And now we’re here:

It's a 'meh' view from the closet, but what creeper views the room from the closet? Here's the view from the door:

Muuuuch better. I feel like I can always see my lake print now, which is fantastic. The guy just wasn't getting enough air time before. I can't seem to find a before of the same angle, but it was a view across the bed, bouncing over my exercise ball, and into my closet abyss. Meh.

Confused? I made crude diagrams.

Here's the old layout - 

And here's the new layout, with my apparent change in bed tone - 

It became painfully obvious that my side tables aren’t working anymore. Honestly, they never really did. I want too much within reach at night that I want to be hidden during the day and these lacks from IKEA that screw into the wall don’t have that option. They’re just a slab of wood. So now on the bedroom to-do:
  • Curtains – I’m thinking a muted grey/white zebra deal, a la a picture I saw on Pinterest and now can't find.
  • Side tables. I don’t even know where to start. I guess it needs to have legs, a drawer, and more than one square foot of space because I’d love to have lamps with a nice big drum shade.
  •  Lighting. I need some better bedside lamps and an option for the desk that preferably doesn’t take up much desk space because that’s where I do my crafting. Heck, I just need more than one light in this room.
  • Dresser. I’m not loving its position. I’m thinking of putting it on the wall where my bed first was, but that move doesn’t make sense right now because of the unknown world of side tables. After measuring, remeasuring, screwing in some drywall screws, and getting the lacks level, I don’t want to move them around just to make more holes to patch, either. And proof for you, Dad:

The dresser can always move to the closet with some more finagling in there, too.  I’ve toyed with getting rid of the dresser and dealing with bins, too. Not sure where I’ll end up on that.

So now I’ve just made myself stressed out with bedroom uncertainties. Ho hum. Let’s focus on the positives: a quick, free makeover! Anyone else done one of those recently? And what do you think of what I’m working with? Opinions? Side table recommendations? I’m going to start begging for those soon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thrifting: Catch the disease.

My sister loves flea markets, garage sales, Goodwill, and any chance at treasure from another's trash. I know that it's the best shot at an affordable upgrade, but it's always been very daunting to me. Digging through in search of a bargain for the perfect piece that I've created in my head seems nearly impossible. That, and sometimes I just can't control myself.

This is an account of the latter.

I went to my parent's hometown in Michigan for a weekend of family, catching up with my sisters, jello shots, seeing Daddy-o, and just relaxing in one of the most beautiful places I know. See here for my apartment tour... but skip ahead to the end to see the print over my bed of my grandpa's pond. On the way up with my parents, sister and her boyfriend, we saw signs for a Saturday flea market. Mum made us promise we wouldn’t tell our other sister, who was en route with her boyfriend. I was the fifth wheel on this trip, but it had its perks: I didn’t get thrown in a lake.

Our attempts were futile. She could smell it a mile away. Not literally – this was not a garbage dump of a garage sale. We spent Saturday morning walking my parent’s hometown, which was easy because it’s not even large enough to have one traffic light, collecting treasures. And I had my youngest sister’s boyfriend carry my loot. A second perk of being the fifth wheel.

I cannot even fully comprehend that all of this fabulous stuff totaled $16.60. SERIOUSLY. Thanks, Michigan!

I realize it's a little difficult to see the detail of everything here, but as I determine a permanent home for everyone (minus the trees, I think they're in the Christmas bin for a bit), I promise I'll update. Once again, sorry for the terrible lighting, but I think I might be a step closer to liking a light enough to take the plunge. 

While we've veered off track, let's just keep ambling. This is my friend Kate's room. I could go on and on about her perfect grey walls and her gallery of travel photos, but what about that light?!

I had thought for so long that I needed a light to sit on my desk, but now I'm really reconsidering. This light changed my entire outlook. Now I realize that I need new side tables for the bed, table lamps for those, and perhaps a standing light over the desk. Just when I thought I had my mind made up...

I digress. Any good thrifting finds lately? Any recommendations for lamps or side tables?! My life has been all shook up. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Card Crafting: Bachelorette Invites.

I've mentioned my new-found, shakey love with card crafting in previous posts (most recently, here but also here and here), but as I'm still riding the wave, I had the courage to make bachelorette invites for my friend's upcoming hurrah. Why doesn't this blog think bachelorette is a word?

After talking wither her about what sort of party she wanted, I had a very clear picture but wasn't positive as to how to portray it. Bachelorette parties have such a stigma about them, but we wanted a fun night where we could wear cute dresses. And we don't plan on sipping our drink out of genitalia paraphernalia. That's such a harsh statement, so I had to show that and not say it.

The double-loop punch was the fancy punch for the job. I started with a green card (to match the color of our bridesmaid dresses) and punched the perimeter. Side note: while my sister was visiting and we were making a card for her friend, she was playing around with the two-piece double-loop punch. Turns out, the corner punch has little guideline trays that pop out of its sides for easier line-ups. I had been struggling to line the corners up by sight and trial-and-error, to much frustration. I will be conferring with my sister now before I try to use any new product incorrectly for months of frustration first. Thank you, Vero!

So I had a card with loops. I then free-handed a little black dress (made symmetrical by folding it in half) and traced it out on black paper. That, with a glitter belt made with a line of a glue pen and Martha's tiny glitter in Gunmetal, made the LBD for the front. And it was classy and very Audrey Hepburn, so I considered it done. Everyone could get the actual information telepathically. Except that probably wouldn't work and Alex would be less than pleased if I explained no one came to the party because they must've not gotten my smoke signals.   

I was at a loss for the back for a while. My youngest sister's suggestion was to attach something with a ribbon, but with the front already done and the double-loop perimeter, punching holes and threading ribbon seemed too busy. So I did what I always do, and I just procrastinated and waiting for something to hit me in the face. After browsing JoAnn's and finding this clear paper with green glitter spots in it, on sale at that, I knew I had my paper. Then I saw a spool of ribbon, also on sale. And then I punched myself in the face for good measure. Except not really because that would be very strange. 

I think I'll just end every paragraph in italics. Anyway. I had to play around with the printer for a bit, but I finally got my information to fit on a little cut-out. Knowing myself, I bought three extra sheets for this reason. My youngest sister then came to my aide with her self-professed mastery of bow-making. I have to admit, she's good. You just can't admit that when someone knows they're good. But thank you, Stephie!

Obviously the card doesn't actually have these clear, blurry blotches on it. It's just that we don't want stalkers.I guess you could show up every Saturday in July, but that's a lot of dedication and if that's your wish, then I commend you. Stalker of the year.

I attached the clear sheet with the tiniest dot of glue and did my best to glue the bow above or on the dot to hide it. Though the glue dried clear, the paper is clear so it left a little spot that looked like it was wet. That sounds much weirder than it is, but I'm realizing I have no idea how to describe it. Visible spot. It was a visible spot where the clear paper was glued to the green. The bow hid it though because the knot was opaque. The actual ribbon was sheer, so the overlay over the writing was no matter. It doesn't photograph the clearest, but you'll have that.

As for the saying at the top, I found that on Pinterest:

Before she runs off and becomes Chuck's bride,
Let's spend one more classy night by her side!

Obviously I can't do a project without that anymore. I also changed the words a bit to fit our classy, fun-dress wearing purpose.

And now my card-making desire has grown from dislike to consideration in working at Hallmark. Really. I don't know who I am anymore. We'll see how long it is until I realize that I can't double-loop punch everything though, and then I'll be at a loss all over again. Any suggestion for fun card-making tools? I feel I have to hit while the iron's hot and before I lose interest.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hairy Situations.

This won't be that gross. Unless you've skeeved out by oily hair. Because that's exactly what I wanted to let you know about - my oily hair. And how unfortunate I was in the gene pool of hair. I love the color of my hair. I pulled a good straw there. Otherwise, Dad passed his fine, greasy hair to me. So greasy that sometimes my sisters will ask if my hair is wet when it's not. The span between my hair washings was always less than 24 hours in those cases. Absolutely ridiculous. I had a sort of complex in it then, and was religiously washing my hair daily and living up the 6-8 hour window of good hair.

When I went to England, my friend Kate (also in the fine hair club) let me in on her new trick - she's not washing her hair daily. And it's looking better. She started a routine of washing her hair every other day, and on the days without shampoo, she'll put baby powder around her hair line, on her crown, and down her part and style as usual. It sounded like it was worth a shot, and without a standard American shower in England, it seemed worth it to avoid the handheld shower.

So I've been washing my hair every other day for about two months and I can genuinely see the difference. The oil isn't building up as quickly, my hair feels better and less dry, and I'm getting more compliments on the days I wash and style my hair down! I've been too chicken to wear my hair down on a non-wash day - it's always up in a ponytail or a high messy bun on top of my head. It's been fine and dandy, but I want more options on the baby powder days.

Enter work party: on a Thursday, a routine baby powder day. I had to get creative.

I started with a side braid, which is my go-to for gathering my almost-fully-grown-out side bangs and sending them to the back of my head. I do a french braid with a section of hair down to the top of my ear, then braid whatever strands left longer than that area in a normal braid.

I held the braid in my mouth while I split the back of my hair into three sections. I twisted each section into a mini bun then stabbed bobby pins every while way to hold in my rogue hairs.

Finally, I pulled the braid out of my mouth which was going dry at this point, and wrapped the end about a bun and bobby pinned in place. Hairspraying my head into a helmet also happened at this point.

Isn't it a nice alternative to the ponytail or wonky bun? It lasted all day without readjustment, which was awesome, and I got compliments that it looked fancy. I love little more than fancy face compliments.

I took my sister (and her pink hair) as my date to the party. Our faces can be so similar that it really creeps me out sometimes.

My sister's best friend and roommate also joined the party. Here she is with my roommate, Cat, and me. Please ignore my shoes. I was wearing super cute heels, but as the night got later, my poor feet were forming blisters on the top and my blood blister from a face-plant on the metro a week earlier (grace is not my middle name) was gross. But it's further proof that my hair made it all day and all night.

Anyone got any hair tricks to share? With two days a week that I'm at work and baby-powdering, I can use all the alternatives I can get! I'll probably start scouting around Pinterest or enlisting my youngest sister to try some styles. She's on a mission to make my hair curl, so we'll see how that ends. My hair will not hold a curl to save it's life. For my high school prom, I didn't condition it for two weeks and didn't wash it for one just so it'd stay in its updo. It's always been so fine and soft that it'd rather float around instead. I'm hoping that'll change with this regime. Anywho, please share your hair dos and tricks :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips.

My sister and her roomie visited last weekend, and I take visitors as an excuse to cook. It's a  fine line to balance, as I always try to pack in as much site-seeing and why-I-love-this-city touring, but want to try out new recipes.

My sister and her roommate aren't morning people. This is all the more reason to make an awesome breakfast.

My friend passed this recipe on to me for cinnamon roll pancakes. She makes them for her family every Saturday and her fiancee said they're as good as a restaurant. This is huge. I'm more partial to waffles, but could be swayed by restaurant pancakes if they're fancy enough. And now the fancy can be brought home.

I followed this recipe down to letter. The recipe requires a bit of coordination, but after the first pancake, I had it managed. I have full faith that you could do the same.

I used whole wheat flour (thus the darker batter color), because I like to tell myself that it makes everything healthy. 

My attempts at swirling the filling left much to be desired, but the delicious result was the same. The three of us each ate two large, fluffy, sweet, swirly pancakes, which is more that I can say I've ate in a long time. I skipped the icing because my friend recommended that it was overkill. Honestly, I can't fathom these with the icing or syrup. We needed milk to wash down their sweetness already. This is coming from a girl that needs sugar every day, whether it be in the form of chocolate chips, a sweet snack, or literally a spoonful of brown sugar. That happens and people are embarrassed on my behalf. All in all though, I suggest you allow yourself a slow start to a Saturday or Sunday and enjoy these for a home brunch. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Raw Cookie Dough, hold the salmonella.

I saw these on Pinterest and was convinced that they were a great source of protein. As a vegetarian that now eats pepperoni, hot dogs if I'm at a cook-out, and salmon if I'm in the mood and at a restaurant (I know, I'm working on it), more protein was just what the doctor ordered. Quite literally. And I know I'm not very good at it. 

I was halfway through the recipe before I realized that I didn't know what made me think these were protein-packed pseudo raw cookie dough bites.

They're still tasty all the same.

Raw Cookie Dough Bites
Taken from here.

2/3 cup walnuts
2/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup raw agave nectar (I found this next to the sugar in the store)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp dark chocolate chips

1. In a food processor, chop the walnuts, almonds, oats, cinnamon, and salt to a fine powder. I chopped until I couldn't hear the blades hitting the larger chunks anymore.

2. Add the nectar and vanilla and pulse until combined.
3. Add the chocolate and pulse.
4. Drop by spoonfuls onto a waxed paper-lined tray and place in the freezer for an hour to firm up. Store in an airtight container in the freezer and enjoy!

I was skeptical, but then I was scraping the dough off of the sides of the food processor. It may not be actual cookie dough, but it's pretty darn close enough to do the trick.

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