Monday, July 29, 2013

Picture This: Week 30.

I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Clueless for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that that's not my idea of a good time - Clueless, I mean. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. Does anyone else do this? I'd love for you to share! You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. I'd love to nose around your life and live vicariously. In the least creepy way possible. And PS - my sister does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right.


July 22, 2013

I miss my old metro, with my outside air and less crowded train.


July 23, 2013

 Tuesday marked Mum's birthday. I'm so lucky to have her in my life. Also, we've added shortcuts in her phone (ok = okie dokie artichokie). 


Also on Tuesday, I caught the latest episode of Dance Moms, which was filmed in my high school. It's like I saw a celebrity. This is me taking pictures of the TV to include the bulletin board to prove the cameo of an inanimate object. 

July 24, 2013

Morning commute in the hazy DC summer.

July 25, 2013

 The best way to spend a Thursday is playing hookey with the entire team while watching the Nationals play the Pirates. Both home teams, perfect weather, and we missed the afternoon of work.

July 26, 2013

Home. I'm there all too often recently, without actually being there. Wedding plan, you consume me. 

July 27, 2013

Last week, I put the ends of several green onions in a cup with a bit of water. Literally, just the little white root balls. In a week, they've shot up and could be cut down again! I'm so impressed, and may never buy green onions again.


July 28, 2013
 
Poor Stevie. I can't even explain my clumsiness - I tried to pick him up off the counter, but instead I flung him with my thumb, sending him sliding and falling straight and flat on the ceramic tile. I guess there will be more of a countdown to the September upgrade.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shoe distractions.

I'm planning a wedding. As much as I would love to tell you that my eyes are shaped in hearts as I try to perfect every minute detail, the reality is that I cry more than I smile a toothy smile right now. It might be that paired with house hunting, there is no better, less stressful distraction. I have to be on my grind with both, and neither is very rewarding right now. No one has a shortage of opinions on what we should do in either situation, but there are a shortage of houses and funds to make everything possible. I'm not complaining. I'm incredibly grateful to be in this situation, I'm happy to be in this situation, and know that I'll be ecstatic to be through this in a year. As a people-pleaser, and as I am marrying a people-pleaser, the pressure is monumental sometimes. 

I knew this was coming. I'm not the first of my friends to be married, and I've been told by more than one to just elope. I would love to do that. However, I would want my immediate family at my wedding, and if I eloped, I would want to pay for them to get wherever we'd be going. They are my life and the reason I am who I am. This is getting mushy. See also: shortage of funds.

I'm shoe shopping instead. I love shoes. I believe in the instant toning and butt-firming abilities of a good heel.



Sources: Badgley Mischka and Nina

I'm in love with the Badgley Mischka. Duh. I'm not in love with the price. I also have a very serious concern in the form of a steep hill I have to gracefully descent en route to the altar. As grace is not my middle name, nor is it a trait of my dad's, there is a serious risk for sprained ankles and mass chaos. I wouldn't want my fancy heels digging into the ground, either.

I looked into some wedges, as the extra ground coverage helps ease the slope concerns but the heel still provides the height and toning benefits. Does anyone make a cute navy wedge? Must they all be so casual? 

I've become painfully aware at how unskilled I am at shoe shopping in this process, too. Where do people buy nice shoes? I'm very intrigued by Zappos with their quick shipping and great customer service. I've had luck at Marshall's, but I'm almost a complete online-shopping convert that venturing out to find a Marshall's doesn't sound appealing. 

What do you think? Are you able to rationalize expensive shoes for an irreplicable day? Do you have any tips for house hunting, wedding planning, or shoe shopping?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Picture This: Week 29.

I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Clueless for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to sleep. Not that that's not my idea of a good time - Clueless, I mean. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. Does anyone else do this? I'd love for you to share! You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. I'd love to nose around your life and live vicariously. In the least creepy way possible. And PS - my sister does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right.

July 15, 2013
I was in Kent, Ohio, on Monday, which necessitates a squirrel picture. The number of squirrel statues on the campus and in town is borderline creepy. I may never run out of variations. 


July 16, 2013

My furry nephew, Nero, is a six-month old, seventy-something pound Great Dane that thinks he is a lap dog. Also, Jillian Michaels DVDs hurt. 

July 17, 2013

If you have a U.S. flag and need to dispose of it, there's a mailbox conventiently painted, but hidden between buildings in a parking lot in Brecksville, Ohio. You're welcome.

July 18, 2013

I visited my oldest friend at her new house in her new neighborhood on Thursday. I'm sad I forgot to take a picture in the daylight or when we stopped for ice cream, but the train crossing over the road without a gate was the quintessential small town feel I wanted to convey. I'm obsessed.
 
July 19, 2013
I'm undefeated in the MR. HODE Scavenger Hunt series. I'm still riding that high.


July 20, 2013
How do you spell spoiled? N-E-R-O. 


July 21, 2013

Sunday was my first night alone in my new apartment. I'm mostly settled, but still couldn't sleep well as I couldn't shake the hotel feeling.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ammonia: the miracle cleaner.

In my continuing quest to keep the security deposit, I tackled the stovetop a couple weekends ago. Erring on the side of generosity, it had two years of grease buildup, and the usual cooking residue that accompanies the normal standoff between roommates and cleaning.
 


In short, it was gross.


I had seen the Pinterest method of soaking the grates in ziploc bags with ammonia. It seemed too simple, but after my success with ammonia and kool-aid, I had a lot of ammonia and nothing to lose. Again

I carefully slid the grates into giant freezer-sized ziploc bags along with the gas cover. I then measured out 1/4 cup of ammonia, poured it into the bag, and sealed the bag. I laid the bags on cookie sheets for easy transfer. The hardest part of this was measuring out the ammonia without passing out from the noxious fumes. I cannot stress the importance of air circulation enough. The recommendation was to keep the grates cooking in their fumes for twelve hours. In the meantime, I washed my stovetop with this tried-and-true method.


After nine hours, I was anxious and there was a threat of inspection the following day. I wasn't going to risk a grate-less stove. At this point though, the ammonia seemed to be working. What went clear into the bag was now orange. Gross.


I emptied the ammonia and filled the sink with warm soapy water. Some areas of the grates needed a bit of light scrubbing, but nothing taxing. They were quickly washed, rinsed, dried, and back on the stovetop.


Glistening, gleaming, and cleaner than they'd been in two years. 


To save you a scroll, here's a side-by-side comparison:


Do you believe in magic now? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Moving on up.

That title should really be reserved for my move to Ohio, because that move will literally be north of my current lodgings, but I probably won't blog about that because I'll be in a busy-season coma and using all of these same methods here. So instead I'll probably just repost this. JK, I'll try not to be so lazy. That stands for just kidding, Mum. I'll caveat that I only write in text speak on here when I would actually use the abbreviation in real life.

Moving isn't the most wonderful experience in the world, but I wouldn't say that I hate it as much as I perceive most people to hate it. I actually enjoy the opportunity to go through every one of my possessions in critical detail, purging what I haven't seen in a year and reminiscing over what I have collected. There's a bit of guilt that accompanies the debate over where and if to save every birthday card, but that comes with the territory of being a persistent purger. That's an unofficial term for being the opposite of a pack rat.

The part that I do hate is the living in boxes. In the past month, I know I've bought things that I already had but couldn't find in boxes somewhere across three states. With most of the stuff, it's probably not too bad because I'll use it. That doesn't really lessen the little ping of guilt, knowing that the money would've been better kept in the house or wedding savings fund.


With that, I have some tips. 

1. Pack by room/activity/area/whatever. I try not to mix my bedroom with my bathroom stuff so that before and after I move, the box can have a dedicated resting place. Before, this means that my bathroom is packed in boxes, but the boxes reside outside the door and open so I can rifle through them when the one hair tie I've been wearing on my wrist breaks and I need to find another. 


2. Purge when possible. Packing gives the opportunity for critical appraisal like nothing else. Well, if you're dedicated to spring cleaning, that might be an opportunity, too. If you're not ready to part with it before the move but think the end is near, pack it in a separate box. I do this, then think about it for a while, and if I realize I can live without it, the end is imminent. For me, this normally means it gets a second life with my sisters.

3. Label your boxes. I take a post-it note and scratch down what's inside. I don't detail every item, but list the things I'll be looking for later: spatulas, soap, cups. Use a piece of clear packing tape to seal the note to the box and make sure it survives the move, and you'll thank yourself later when you can prioritize the unpacking, which is the worst.

4. Pack your clothes in garbage bags. Two weeks before my move, I separated my closet into clothes to pack and clothes to wear for the next two weeks. I divided the packing clothes into manageable groups and used extra large trash bags to wrap them up.


I wasn't confident on the bag's ability to stay together, so I used a bit of scrap twine to loop through the handles and outer hangers. I then wrapped it around all of the hanger hooks. This method would wonderfully. These groups stayed together perfectly, while the groupings without twine required me to wrestle the clothes into order and eventually meant that everything was stuffed into the garbage bag that was meant to keep them orderly.


Those are the four rules I follow. I'm sure there are more, and I'd be happy to hear them - I have two more moves this year! As I still cannot find my tumblers with straws, there must be some way I can pack a little better.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Picture This: Week 28.

I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Clueless for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to  sleep. Not that that's not my idea of a good time - Clueless, I mean. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. Does anyone else do this? I'd love for you to share! You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. I'd love to nose around your life and live vicariously. In the least creepy way possible. And PS - my sister does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right.


July 8, 2013

 I've been reading Made in America  by Bill Bryson and though it's taken a little bit to get into the groove, I'm obsessed now with all of the fun facts. Who new the Stetson hat had no initial connection to the west?


July 9, 2013

 I'm an old pro at walk-in care centers now. It's somewhat annoying, as I can diagnose my sinus infections. To the doctor's credit, he did also find an upper respiratory infection. Yum.


July 10, 2013

I had to double-take and make sure that Anchorman wasn't filming live on the DC metro.


July 11, 2013

Moving day! In three trips, I was all in and setting up. One down, two to go. 


July 12, 2013

For as often as I get sinus infections, the treatment is somehow always quite different. I think this steroid z-pack has been the most effective at a quick recovery. I may start requesting it. 


July 13, 2013

Dad and Zach moved my big furniture into my parent's house on Saturday. This marked Dad's return home, and Nero quickly picked out the biggest sucker in the bunch. 


July 14, 2013
 
As usual, I was greeted in the morning by a visit from my niece, Dinah, as she explored my usually-off-limits room and sashayed around the bed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kayaking: the unintentional workout.

I accomplished another item off my 30-by-30 list and unofficial, and mostly undocumented, things-to-do-before-I-leave-DC list this past holiday weekend: kayaking in the Potomac and not growing an additional appendage. The last part wasn't really on the list, but is a valid concern.


Zach convinced me to get up at seven on a Saturday morning (he made eggs, the only thing that will get me out of bed at seven on a Saturday). This sounds like a day destined for exhaustive torture, but I slathered on the sunscreen and marched off to the Vibester (that's my car, a Pontiac Vibe) for my weekly test at how my driving skills have deteriorated. Really, I love that I can walk most places and have lost so much dependence on my car, but my skills may be starting to show it. After an illegal right turn, we were at Fletcher's Boathouse

Zach's done this before, and as I'm not a fan of watching movies with people that have seen the movie before, I decided we should not go on the same kayaking path that Zach did before. Follow that logic? So we went left down the Potomac, toward the National Mall and with the goal of gliding effortlessly pass the monuments and simultaneously basking in the glory that is DC and making tourists jealous.

In reality, we only made it to the Key Bridge, about two miles short of Lincoln. After the 2.5 miles to get to the bridge, we were tired, getting beat on by the sun, and hungry because I forgot my mid-morning Cheerios snack. I had expected kayaking to be an easy glide, as it was the one other time when I did it on a calm lake in Michigan, but we were pushing with our arms, abs, and legs to move down the river. I'm convinced we were going against the current, but that doesn't work with science, so I'm not sure. Regardless, we settled for spotting the peak of the Washington monument, and trusted that enough tourists saw us from Georgetown to be jealous. Probably.


We saw lots of wildlife while on our self-propelled cruise. We saw a bird swimming totally underwater, with just its head poking out; the same bird dive under for a very long time, only to surface with a catfish flapping in his beak; deer along the bank; live fish jumping in the water; and dead fish floating.  


With water the same color as the foliage, I'd say it's safe to celebrate escaping with only a sinus infection. Which, honestly, isn't just to Potomac's fault, if I'm to be fair. It's all of DC's fault, and particularly, George Washington's fault. Why he picked the capital to be on the swamp land is maybe his only mistake, but I'm still paying for it. Dramatic?

Next up: the three rivers. We both decided that kayaking in them would be more rewarding on the cityscape almost instantaneously. DC was definitely rewarding on the nature aspect, and the vitamin D. 


I'm marking it done on my list, though. I'm halfway to 30, with many big expenses in the next year and many big trips to finish on this list. The outlook's shaky.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Picture This: Week 27.

I started a picture-a-day project with the new year. My intent is to try and appreciate every day, the good and the bad. I'm posting weekly recaps of the past seven days. It's a fun way to recap the week, and keep me motivated for the next week. By throwing it up to the interwebs, it's a not so subtle reminder to myself that if I'm laying around all week and taking pictures of my feet poking out of a blanket as I watch Clueless for the millionth time, I'm going to bore everyone to  sleep. Not that that's not my idea of a good time - Clueless, I mean. That being said, it's rarely ground-breaking, but I couldn't handle that anyway. It's a log of my life, and a gentle reminder to myself that life is a gift and I should take advantage every day. Does anyone else do this? I'd love for you to share! You can start anytime, too - a new year doesn't have to start on January 1. I'd love to nose around your life and live vicariously. In the least creepy way possible. And PS - my sister does this as well, but I'm losing faith in her ever updating her blog. Check out my past weeks through the "picture-a-day" topic link on the right.



July 1, 2013

Dreams do come true! White duvet, here I come


July 2, 2013

 Nero's growth in three months, as compared to the twisted willow tree. That boy is trouble, but so sweet and entertaining.


July 3, 2013

Zach was in town over the long holiday weekend, which meant we were able to spend our anniversary together with crepes. I didn't get a picture of us, or of the delicious crepes, but I did get this picture of Alexandria City Hall decked out for America's birthday while I waited on him.



July 4, 2013

No one does fireworks as good as DC on the Fourth of July and I'm so happy to have caught them again this year. It gives me chills to watch them in the nation's capital, though some of those chills may be because the Washington monument looks like it has creepy red eyes.



July 5, 2013

Zachles, elated to be at Kebab Palace. I was pumped for this, until I found out that it wasn't Mediterranean food as he had promised. Give me feta or give me death!
 

July 6, 2013

Saturday was intense. When looking through my pictures, I had to reassure myself that all of the various activities did happen in one day: there was six miles of kayaking in the morning, followed by our first trip to Sprinkles for cupcakes, then we happened upon PaperSource and I filled my little heart with envelopes galore, some random errands, and a baseball game.  But this picture: We tried a lemon blueberry and cinnamon sugar cupcake (clearly I'm on a cinnamon kick), and they were good. I had heard these are the cupcakes that Suri Cruise gets at her birthday parties (no idea how I know this), and I'm not sure they're that good. Maybe I'm over the cupcake phase, though. Nah, I love icing. 


July 7, 2013 

I went to bed Saturday night feeling borderline and woke up sick on Sunday. An evening thunderstorm suits this feeling best.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Amsterdam & 1 year.

Happy July 4th, everyone! I hope you're celebrating the day with cook-outs, watermelon, friends, family, and fireworks. Be safe!


Yesterday marked my one-year anniversary with Zach. Mind you, this is the one-year mark after we reconnected and started dating again. Cumulatively, it's been about eight years. However, we reset the anniversary date because the last breakup was significant. Moving on.

We said we weren't doing gifts because we're in the midst of house hunting and wedding planning (and losing $$$$), but Zachles cannot be trusted and was not committing to the no-gift policy. Well then



I'd been looking for prints of Amsterdam, the city where we got engaged, for a few months. Specifically, since we got engaged.  Etsy and eBay proved to be dishearteningly slim in their selections. Most of the maps were old prints with ink so thick that it was difficult to make out which was was up and where the canals looped. That's half false - I did spy this exact Rifle Paper Co. print that I ended up purchasing of the city on eBay first. However, it was under bidding and going for over $100. Not my style.


I kept searching the web for variations on the "Amsterdam city prints" phrase (which is surprisingly difficult) until I happened upon the Amsterdam print on the Rifle Paper Co. site. I guess it should be mentioned that the first print I saw on eBay was taken from a calendar, in which this print of Amsterdam represented a month. The calendar was discontinued by the time I was in the market for the print. I was all sorts of confused, because obviously I had been checking the site after the eBay shenanigans. Then, remembering the eBay shenanigans, and seeing that the price was $40, I jumped on it as if it might be gone in a blink.


I bought a frame on Amazon, because I'm a sucker for Prime, and it was done. I love the whimsical details of the map, and that it features many of the places we explored on our whirlwind trip: Vondelpark, Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and Dam, to name a few. It's hard to say if the widest bridge in the city is on there, but there is a bridge drawn in, and it is on the correct side. We'll call it fate.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Crunch in Cinnamon Toast.

I know the cereal title would have flowed better, but I'm afraid and too lazy to look up copyright laws. 

I wanted to make another reference to OK GO because I can't say cinnamon without a stutter, thanks to them, but apparently my love for cinnamon knows more than one recipe and I've used that recipe on these delicious pancakes. I suggest you take a break from you day and watch the video because it's hilarious and another great example of their hilarious choreography.

So lack of references and allusions aside, I've eaten a lot of toast in the last week (read: strange stomach bug) and thus was looking for some toast variety. I wasn't actively looking, but I was mindlessly clicking through Pinterest when I found an alternative to my usual buttered toast with a sugar and cinnamon sprinkling. Which I didn't consider to be lacking. Turns out, it was a little sub-par, and this will rock your world, Mum. The recipe looks high maintenance, but it's honestly worth it. I don't say that about many things other than frosting. 

Yum.

Start with a stick of softened butter. I zapped it in the microwave for 15 seconds. Bonus points for an unintended reflection in the bowl.


Slash up the butter a bit with a fork. I apparently forgot to take a picture of this, but I trust you can make slits in butter with a fork. Add in a half cup of sugar and three teaspoons of cinnamon. If you're not a bit advocate of the spice (too many attempts at The Doctors weight loss recipe that made me want to die, I suspect), you can take it down a teaspoon.


See, you can catch a glimpse of the fork slashing under that sugar and cinnamon if you were nervous. Add in two teaspoons of vanilla.


Mix it all up with your fork.


Spread the mixture all the way to the edges of your bread. I used whole wheat because I think that makes it healthier.


Bake the toast at 350 degrees for ten minutes. This is when having a toaster oven, even a dirty one at that, comes in handy. I can see myself avoiding this if I only had an oven but only wanted to make a few slices. After the ten minutes at 350, flip on the broiler for about a minute, carefully watching to make sure they don't burn.


The result? Beautiful, crunchy, caramelized cinnamon toast. The flavors and topping bake into the bread, meaning you won't lose any taste that might otherwise roll off when it's just sprinkled on there.


The only downside I foresee here is that my carb intake might severely increase. I already require toast with my eggs on the weekends (and a weekend without eggs is a very poor weekend indeed), and now I might need this dessert toast. There could be worse problems, though. I could be out of bread.

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