Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School

As you probably know, unless you live in a hole and only ready my blog (which is strange), it is back to school time across the country. This means, it is back to school time for Chris and I as well. You see, Chris is a fancy-schmancy, farty-smarty doctoral student in, *gasp*, statistics, and I will be continuing to take classes this academic year in pursuance of secondary education teacher certification. And, on top of that, I work for a university in the DC area. So, needless to say "first week of school" chaos has been on my brain this week. Whether it is the random undergraduate that pops their head into my office looking for a classroom or the restroom (which is right behind them, across from my office), the general buzz around campus as students fill the sidewalks and hallways, or Chris and I trying to adjust to our new evening schedules with classes, and soon homework, this week is only the beginning of the craziness...

Amidst the craziness that this semester may will bring, I promise that I will keep this blog updated, for my sanity if anything else! And, most importantly, I am promising myself, and you all MUST hold me to it, that I will continue with all of the home projects that are on my to-do list. These include, among many:
  • Finish stenciling our guest bathroom - al.most.done. . .
  • Create our map and photo gallery wall - supplies bought, now I just need time ; )
  • Create a magnet/chalkboard wall in our kitchen - again, supplies bought, now I just need time.
  • Paint our basement coffee table with chalkboard paint, inspired by this beauty found on Pinterest:
Originally from BHG DIY Ideas
  • Wrapping up the work in our basement, finally, which includes finishing the last bits of drywalling and then painting and cleaning.
  • And, doing other random stuff throughout our house, mainly small things inspired by Pinterest. Possibly stenciling curtains? Doorknob-coat rack? Dressing up our guest room? Indoor garden?!? More painting??
  • Oh, and I haven't mentioned it yet but how could I forget - getting our Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene water damage fixed. Boo. (At least the damage is in a room I haven't painted yet, right?!)
  • And of course, clean our house. Which is still kinda a mess in some areas.
This week, besides starting classes again and being insanely busy at work, I have been and will continue to be busting my butt on finishing stenciling that bathroom. Not only do I want to share with all of you what color I picked, and discuss the frustrations of stenciling a space like a bathroom, but I just want to be DONE with it, because of said "frustrations."

Whether I make it through this week or not, I am rewarding myself by visiting one of my best friends down in sunny Florida for the holiday weekend. Wish me luck in making it to Saturday morning and if I don't write before I leave, have a fabulous "back to school" week and holiday weekend yourselves!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm cooking.

For some reason I get a subscription to Cooking Light magazine. I am either getting it for free or I paid next to nothing for it... I honestly can't remember. Anywho, because of this Cooking Light subscription, I have started this really bad habit of going through each issue and tearing out the recipes that sound good. And as I sat down this past weekend to do my monthly ritual of tearing out yummy recipes I realized that I had gathered a nice little collection of these over the past year, but I had yet to make one of them. Not one. Oops.

So, I sat down and picked a few that I wanted to make first: Herb & Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Cheese Ravioli with Pesto. Now, I have to preface these recipes with the fact that I cannot cook. I do not have a palate for flavors and oftentimes screw up even the easiest boxed mac & cheese. I rely heavily on Chris to do the cooking around here since he seems to enjoy it and is actually really good at it. But, come this fall, Chris will be busy being a PhD student so I figured I might as well try my hand at cooking actual meals for once and stop relying on Chris or Ms. Lean Cuisine to do it all for me. (Lord knows I will not allow myself to go hungry!)

Sunday evening I made the Herb & Goat Cheese Chicken, and I was completely surprised that 1) I did it all by myself; 2) It was actually fairly easy and quick; and 3) it actually tasted good (aka, Chris approved and recommend making it again).

My camera phone doesn't do it justice.

Here is the recipe, slightly edited, from the Cooking Light version:

  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (Reviewers say regular breadcrumbs work too)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint rosemary (we used rosemary from our herb-garden)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach
  • Lemon wedges (optional)
  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket; close opening with a wooden pick. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Add chicken to pan, and cook for 2 minutes on 1 side or until browned (I would suggest browning both sides). Arrange chicken on a baking sheet (browned side up); broil for 8 minutes or until done (ours needed another couple of minutes).
  4. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, red pepper, and spinach; cook for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Like I said, it was yummy! Who doesn't love goat cheese?! Recipe # 1 = success!

Then, last night I made the Cheese Ravioli with Pesto. Again, I was surprised how easy it was and how good it actually tasted.

I really need to get a new phone,
or use my real camera to take these!

Here is the recipe, from the Cooking Light version:

  • 1 (9-ounce) package fresh 3-cheese ravioli
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)
  1. Cook ravioli according to package directions; omit salt and fat. Drain.
  2. Combine spinach, basil, salt, red pepper, and garlic in a food processor. With processor running, add broth, olive oil, and lemon juice through chute until mixture is smooth.
  3. Combine ravioli, pesto, and tomato in medium saucepan over medium-high heat; cook 1 minute or until warm; sprinkle with cheese and about nuts. Garnish with basil leaves, if desired.
Recipe #2 = another success! Quick, easy, and yummy! While the cheese ravioli I bought was kinda cheap, so I would suggest buying "nice" cheese ravioli (maybe not even frozen), it was tasty and filling. I cannot wait to go home and eat the leftovers tonight! (and I'm one of those people that doesn't usually eat leftovers.) Oh, and I cannot say how much I recommend everyone investing in a food processor, even if it's a tiny 3-cup one. They are genius, and absolutely amazing for non-cookers like myself!

So do any of you stock up on recipes and never make them like me? (Don't even look at my Pinterest "Yummy in my Tummy" board!) Or, are you fantastic chefs and can share some tips or recipes with me?!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Washington Wednesday: EARTHQUAKE!

Now, I was totally going to do my first Washington Wednesday post on this cool little semi-abandoned park I found a couple of weeks ago when I was walking home from lunch with a friend, but yesterday's earthquake was too good to pass up. I know all of you non-Washingtonians would love to know all about. (Or is it already media'd out?) And, I am sure you want to know if we are okay - we are - and what kind of "damage" we sustained... yes? no?

First, I have to tell you that neither Chris or I have ever felt an earthquake. We both slept through one in Missouri as well as one a couple of years ago here in DC. Obviously both were small compared to this one, although it's not like this one was that big either. Anyway, I was at work when it hit. I work in a 100-year-old building that looks and feels every bit its age. When I initially felt the shaking I honestly thought that I would see someone run past my office door pushing some kind of equipment cart, it was that kind of rumbling. I think subconsciously I knew that no one person and a cart could make my office shake like that. . . anyway, after 5 seconds or so it stopped. I definitely remember my body relaxing and silently telling myself that I was right, it was just someone out in the hall make a racket. It might sound crazy, but my building is really old and some kind of phenomenon like that did not startle me that much, even though it was different. In an old building, everything is a racket. But I quickly realized that the shaking didn't just stop, it paused, because it started all over again. At this point, I knew something crazy was going on, definitely an earthquake, and I jumped out of my desk and ran to my door calling to my co-workers in the offices next to mine. I remember both of them sticking their heads out of their offices and my boss coming out of hers. We all looked at each other in disbelief. "Is this an earthquake?" one of us asked. "What do we do?" I'm pretty sure by this point the shaking had stopped and we all decided it would be best to get out of this old old building. (Yes, I know you are supposed to go under a desk, etc. but this building is old I tell ya!) All of us, and others throughout our building, poured out into the parking lot. Crazy crazy stuff. We all laughed and talked semi-nervously, semi-excitedly. The campus I work on sustained minor damage, but somehow my old building remained unscathed apparently. Although, I did notice some cracks in the plaster walls... but who knows if they are old or new!

Chris felt it too at his work, but he didn't realize until afterwards that it was an earthquake. He was in his parking garage leaving to go to lunch and says that when he felt the rumbling he thought he had hit a car backing up out of his spot! By the time he got out and saw that he didn't hit another car and was still a few feet from it, the shaking had stopped. He works in a nice fancy-schmancy office in fancy northern Virginia so his building and campus are fine. He did feel one of the aftershocks later in the evening though!

Now, since we live close to where I work and there wasn't much damage at work I knew that our house would most likely be fine. However, I was eager to find some "damage" and scoured the house with my trusty camera phone as soon as I got home.

Canned goods toppled off our pantry shelves to the floor. No dents or anything though . . .

Since I am in the process of stenciling our bathroom (post to come next week?), I have a lot of our bathroom stuff on a bookcase in the hallway and only a few items fell off of it. At least that perfume bottle landed on the rug and didn't break!

These books were upright (at least as far as I know). And Good Ole Abe the Bobblehead survived. (Thank goodness, right Danielle?)

Our bathroom mirror fell over. Thank goodness the door frame and facuet caught it because that would have been a mess. Although, I'm not in love with the plain builder-mirror anyway... (btw, it's not attached to the wall, because again, I'm in the process of stenciling. Tune in next week to read what color I picked!)

The most tragic damage was that my coveted candle pillar thingys fell and kinda shattered. You might remember them from my bathroom dilemma . . . *tear*. Any suggestions for repairing/salvaging them? Chris thinks I could take the tiles off, which are unbroken and make new candle pillar thingys, but that might be too much work for a bathroom accessory, yes/no?

Lastly, you might be wondering how our precious kids kitties reacted to the earthquake. While we were not at home to witness anything, we can only suspect from their behavior when we returned over 2 hours later that they were pretty shook up.

I eventually found Luna hiding in our basement after I had heard her little sad "mews." She was very skeptical of coming upstairs and was skittish and on edge almost all night. Here she is trying to decide if she wants to venture away from the basement stairs . . .

Teddy was pretty easy to find. I knew he would try to hide under our blankets.

It definitely took some coaxing by Chris to get him to come out. He didn't even fall for my bribe of treats but instead burrowed further into the blankets.

So, that was our experience with the Washington Earthquake yesterday. It was a bizarrely "fun" experience, not really scary, and definitely not something I will soon forget!

Anyone else have a good better story? Or felt an eartquake before? Isn't it the weirdest feeling ever?!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tourist Tuesday: Bird's Eye Views

One thing I think everyone likes to do when they visit a new city is to check it out from a different perspective. A bird's eye view, the skyline, whatever, let's face it, we are not content with viewing things from the ground-up. In St. Louis you can "journey to the top" of the Gateway Arch for roughly $10. You can make your way up to the Chicago Skydeck in the Sears Willis Tower for about $17. Seattle has the famous Space Needle, whose views can be attained for $18. And, in the Big Apple you can choose from the Empire State Building Observatory, and possibly reenact Sleepless in Seattle or An Affair to Remember, for $20+, or the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center for around $23. Oh, and let's not forget the Eiffel Tower, where you'll pay 13 euros, or almost $19 with our current exchange rate, to take in the skyline of Paris. (swoon.)

If you are cheap travelers like Chris and I though, it's hard to swallow the cost of some of those views. (Although, Danielle and I did buck up last summer and visit the Empire State Building. Which was pretty awesome...)

Times Square and Bryant Park from the Empire State Building.

But again, the cost of seeing the spectacular views of some of the best cities around the world is pricey. Boo. Did you know though that you have two opportunities to catch close-to-bird's eye views of DC for free? Yup, free, $0. (That's why DC is pretty awesome for tourist-y stuff. Or, at least one reason.)

First, there is the obvious Washington Monument.

The Washington Monument stands over 555 feet tall, and supposedly offers views of thirty miles (if you are fortunate to visit when we do not have any humidity. fat chance.). Visitors to the Washington Monument have been going to its top since 1885. Pretty cool, no? Those peeps back then walked up the almost 900 steps to get there, but today, you take a short elevator ride up. Whew. And I will admit, while you aren't as high up as you would be in the St. Louis Arch or other structures, the views are pretty awesome. It's a good way to "see" all the tourist-y stops in one place. Take a look....

WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and VA
The White House
The Capitol and RFK Stadium (see what I mean about the humidity?)
Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Anywho, like I said, going up to the top of the Washington Monument is free, however, there is a catch - you still need a ticket and those go fast! North of the Monument there is a little gift shop building where they hand out the tickets to the top for the day. It is on a first come first serve basis, so the line starts forming before the building even opens on even moderately busy days. If you are lucky enough to get a ticket to the top, your ticket will tell you at what time you will go up. You might get your ticket at 9am, but you won't be able to visit the top until 1pm. Get it? It kinda sucks just a little, but at least there is other stuff to do around the Monument, ever heard of the Mall or Smithsonian? (Bring your walking shoes!) If you are a "planner"-type of person though, you can reserve a ticket to the top ahead of time for a $1.50 service charge. While that is technically not free, $1.50 is a pri-tty good deal (unless you really are a tight-wad. no offense.).

 Now, the Washington Monument is a very obvious choice for panoramic views of DC, but if you want to get off the beaten path (by just a few blocks) and avoid the crowds, I would suggest visiting the Old Post Office Tower. See, it is literally 2-3 blocks from the Washington Monument and the Mall...

The Old Post Office Tower is located in the Post Office Pavilion, or the Nancy Hanks Center technically. Once the old center of the Postal Service, it is now a hodge-podge of offices, shops, a food court, and National Park Service museum and site. While it has a turbulent past and was hated by DC for a long long time, it has been revitalized and is really really cool. Trump Hotels is even considering converting it for their chain of hotels. It is one of my favorite buildings in DC (I am a sucker for Richardsonian Romanesque) and a place I love taking visitors (the food court has a Ben & Jerry's, nuff said).

Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, you can go up the Old Post Office Tower, for free, and, I will bet you, with no waiting in line. Plus, the elevator going up is glass.Sweet.

My parents in the glass elevator.

And, even though your view won't be as high as the Washington Monument's, it's still a good one!

Pennsylvania Ave. and the Capitol
I think the EPA roof & the Washington Monument

So, there's my summary of the bird's eye views of DC that you can get for FREE. I love visiting these places and definitely suggest you do the same when you come out to visit (us).

Here's more info on both places:
Washington Monument history here and here (Wikipedia, duh) and ticket reservations here.
Old Post Office Tower info here and here (NPS). And of course, Wikipedia info here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love me some chevrons!

As I promised, I am finally writing about the progress on our guest bedroom - namely the walls. When we moved into our home a year ago, this is what our sad sad guest room looked like . . .

At the time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with the room. The linens were from my college days, during my shabby chic-phase, and I didn't necessarily want to keep those around . . . So, I started looking for inspiration. I knew I wanted to incorporate a seafoamy-green type of color because not only is that color throughout our entire house, but we were also going to be putting our old living room rug, which has sefoam-y flowers on it, in the space. I was instantly drawn to these images that I found in my search.

Decor Pad.
Coastal Living.

I loved the more traditional styles of the Decor Pad room with the modernity and youthfulness of the Coastal Living room and decided to attempt to throw them together. The first step was going to be painting the bedroom a light yellow. Martha Stewart's "Custard"-yellow, to be exact.

After I finished painting, I was pretty "meh" about it. It seemed just a smidge too yellow for my taste. The room isn't that big, and it just looked like a big yellow box. I felt stuck and wasn't sure what to do to tone down that yellow...That is, I felt stuck until I saw this nursery on Pinterest:

Found on Pinterest. Originally from Ohdeedoh.

The chevron pattern was just too too awesome! I found myself going back to my board just too look at it. Swoon. It definitely brings out a more modern and youthful edge to the room, no? And luckily, Chris was totally on board with painting a chevron in our guest room. My husband is pretty cool.

It all started with a plan:

Yup, we measured the wall, and Chris even took into account the, er, irregularities of the wall. i.e., it is not a perfect rectangular wall, it's more of a parallelogram (I never thought I would ever type that word) with the height and width of the wall being off by an inch. My math-genius hubby though figured it all out and started drawing the points of the chevron pattern for us to tape off.

Yup, he needed a t-square and a level.

Once the "points" were all drawn out, we connected the "dots" with painter's tape.

Ta da!

Then, I got my paint on.

We burnished the edges of the tape with a credit card (classy, I know), but I ended up applying 3 coats of Martha Stewart's "Pot of Cream" paint because I was very very paranoid that there would be seepage and the lines would not be crisp. That would definitely have been a waste of an afternoon! Fortunately though, it turned out perfect, and I am so so in love with the results!


Now, if you remember correctly, earlier this week, our guest room looked something like this:


I took a break from my TV watching though ; ) and cleaned it all up. It actually looks like a room again. Drumroll please . . . .

Now obviously the room is not complete. It definitely needs some curtains, and we really really want to do a DIY headboard (thanks to Running from the Law's tutorial) with a similar seafoam/turquoise fabric. The side table will be going, and unfortunately, probably the "mid-century modern" chair Chris made in the corner (it's too big). I'll be upgrading the lamp and adding some wall art soon, and, I've been looking for a dresser to put on the opposite wall of the bed for some linen storage and such. But, it is technically in shape for some visitors (hint, hint). It isn't too bad right? I know I'm not any kind of major designer or anything, but I'm pretty proud of my skillz so far.

Oh, and you might be wondering about the yellow blanket at the foot of the bed. I know it's kinda dingy, but after this photo was taken I covered the entire bed with it to avoid the white duvet being covered in cat hair. Because, well, as you can see below, a certain cat - Teddy - decided to climb up under it . . .

See the lump. Yup, that's him.

So, that's our chevron wall and guest room, all ready for it's first guests!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award!

Well, I found out this weekend that I have been nominated for my very first blog award - the Versatile Blogger Award - by the ever-so-lovely, Megan! Let me tell you, this means soooo much! Sometimes I feel like I'm just rambling on about stuff that only I find interesting, so it's great to hear that not only do I have an interested reader out there, but that she likes my ramblings enough to nominate me!

Here are the "rules" of the Versatile Blogger Award:
  1. Thank the award-giver and provide a link back to their blog.
  2. Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
  3. Give the award to up to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
  4. Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news!
So, of course this calls for more rambling from moi! Here we go:

Thank you, thank you,  Megan, for nominating me! You should check out her blog because she does some pretty awesome Glee-caps - Glee recaps - and is a 30x30 re-mixer! (Oh, and she also just started a photography business, Megan Stoll Studios, in the S.T.L. that you should check her out at too. Pretty awesome stuff!

And, here's 7 random things about myself....

1. I am the oldest of three. As Megan mentioned, I have a younger sister, Danielle, who is pretty awesome,  and a younger brother, Will, who is pretty stellar himself. Danielle is a much better blogger than I am (you can check her out at Addicted to Television and Danielle's Other Blog) and she is my go-to person for all social media and fashion-related questions (she just helped me pick out a purse this morning). Will is a runner. He ran for his college cross country and track team and is always trying to fit in a workout. Every time he has visited us he has run a race here in DC - He totally won the SOME Turkey Trot last Thanksgiving here in DC, and will be running the DC Rock N Roll half with us this spring! The three of us didn't really get along all that great as kids, but I'm so glad that we're close now as adults and cannot wait until we can all get together again - miss you two!
The three of us being silly at a rainy Cards game!
2. I watch a lot of TV. Probably too much TV. Chris always asks what's on my "line-up" for the evening, and I'm guessing that's not a good thing. Some of my absolute favorites are So You Think You Can Dance, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, True Blood, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Games of Thrones, Friends, Project Runway, and Design Star. I'm also a fan of all of Sarah Richardson's HGTV shows, Grey's Anatomy, and some of the Bachelor/Bachelorette stuff. Oh, and my guilty pleasure is definitely some Days of Our Lives. And, I was a huge fan of Brothers & Sisters, Greek, and, of course, LOST before they all ended/got canceled.Ok, so I know I just listed a lot of shows, but it really feels like I missed some??... Although, to my credit, I do read and workout too, on top of doing "home" stuff and going out occasionally, so a little TV is okay, right?

3. When I was younger I had a strange obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House on the Prairie series. Not only have I read her books countless times, but I would watch the TV series regularly (I even own the VHS set of one season), and have even visited her final home in Mansfield, Missouri, Rocky Ridge Farm. To top it off, for Christmas two years ago, Chris got me the most spectacular gift ever: tickets to see Little House on the Prairie, The Musical! Even though Melissa Gilbert didn't play Ma that night, it was ah-mazing. I credit Wilder for developing my passion for history and it is a secret wish of mine to travel around the Midwest visiting all of her "homes." Now, if I could only find a way to travel back in time....

4. I used to be (knock on wood) somewhat accident prone. Or, as my dad put it, "I liked to play (too) hard." For example, I have 2 screws in my foot and a bone floating in my butt cheek. Attractive right? Long story short, I pulled part of my hamstring from my pelvis - and it took some bone with it - hence the bone "floating" in my booty and I also broke my foot which needed two screws put in to heal. If I've learned anything from all of my broken bones and pulled muscles it is that crutches suck. Sure, they might be a good workout for your "good" leg (I became a pro at hopping around) and a great workout for your triceps, but they SUCK. Be safe out there (and knock on wood)!

 5. For those of you that don't know, Chris and I met in Greece and got in engaged in Greece. We met on a travel abroad summer trip through our undergraduate college and then went back there again when we graduated, where Chris decided to propose along the way... I think we have a pretty cute little love story, no? Either way, Greece should be on everyone's travel lists because it is seriously the best place ever (I'm not biased or anything). Beautiful landscapes, yummy food, and amazing history. I absolutely love it so if you are planning to go there and want travel tips feel free to ask me, but be prepared for some major ramblings!

One of my own photos of Oia, Santorini, Greece. Swoon.
6. As you might be able to tell from some of my posts, I really love to decorate and really love learning about interior design (my Google Reader is full of design bloggers and hello, HGTV!). Ever since I got my own room when I was 13 (?) I've had the itch to decorate. Back then, that meant that I spray painted my bed with textured paint akin to a popcorn ceiling, painted each wall of my room its own pastel color, and even painted my closet light blue, complete with clouds. Classy stuff, right? If only I had a picture! Now that I have my own home, I am absolutely loving the freedom to decorate however I want, although, I hope that my aesthetics have improved even slightly since that first bedroom!

7. Although I really really love living in DC 95% of the time, the 5% of the time that I miss living back in Missouri is when I think about my family and when I think about all of the great St. Louis food. Sure, DC has a great food scene, but when I want a simple sandwich there is no P'sghetti's or Mom's Deli to swing by. Or, when I want something really bad, I can't drive to a White Castle's or Imo's. And, when I just want a super delicious and easy finger food, I can't go out and buy some toasted ravs. I was hoping I would find food in DC that would curb my cravings for my St. Louis food, but I haven't found anything yet and I'm starting to think those places are irreplaceable...sigh. Anyone want to mail me some toasted ravs or Imo's?!?

toasted ravioli
My mouth is seriously watering just looking at this. Yummmmmy!

And, last but definitely not least, here are two recently discovered fellow bloggers that I would like to bestow this award on as well:

Lacey from A Little Bit of Lovely. I had the privilege to meet Lacey during our unfortunate trip back to MO earlier this summer and could not help but to stalk her via the blog-o-sphere when we returned. Her insightful and funny thoughts put a smile on my face!

Sara from Running from the Law. I stumbled upon Running from the Law when Sara blogged about her map wall,which I instantly fell in love with. Her design aesthetic is inspiration for my own home-making and her pups are too too cute! While I do not personally know Sara, I love her blog and I'm so glad I found it. Plus, she is from St. Louis which gives her mad points in my book!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tourist Tuesday: Visiting The White House

So, I've found myself blogging a lot lately about our house and our cats. Sure, they are interesting, and I'm sure you all loooove reading about them, but I bet you are wondering what it's like to live in our nation's capitol? You know, because technically we live less than 5 miles from President Obama.... that's probably more interesting than our pathetic cat, right?

So, I figured I would dedicate every Tuesday and (or) Wednesday to giving you a glimpse of life in DC in the form of Tourist Tuesdays and Washington Wednesdays. This way, you get a little more than the inside of our house, which could be in Anywhere, USA, and more about our Washington life. Sound good?

So, for my first Tourist Tuesday post I want to talk to you about some, well you know, something tourist-y: The White House.

White House
Courtesy of Seansie, Flickr
When people come visit DC, one place that I'm sure is on their list of places to see is the White House. Everyone wants to take that typical picture of it to say, "I've been there!" But what people don't realize is that nothing can be less glamorous than showing up at the White House only to see a gazillion other tourists lining the fence, cramming around to get their camera between the iron bars for the photo op. It's even less glamorous when there are protests surrounding the fence as well. And, as my cousin aptly stated when he visited us for the first time, the White House looks smaller than you'd think. So, you've spent your time winding around the streets of DC only to get a photo of the place. The same photo you can snag from any quick google search and Flickr (see above). I get it, it's about the experience of seeing the White House. But, instead of just seeing it, why don't you try go inside? Now, THAT'S an experience! (And, like much of DC stuff, it's FREE!)

The first time my parents were able to visit us, that's just what we did, we got a tour of the White House. And let me tell you, it's been one of the most memorable "tourist-y" things I've done in the 3 years we've lived out here!(And trust me, that's saying a lot. Not that I don't love the Mall and the Smithsonians, but they get bor-ring after the tenth or so time around!)

In order to go inside the White House, here's what you have to do:
  1. Contact your Congressman(woman)'s office at least 21 days in advance. This can be any Senator or Representative, just pick one. Most members of Congress have information about visiting DC on their webpages. For instance, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has a web-form you can complete if you are interested in taking a tour of the White House.
  2. From there, their office will contact you back most likely requesting more information from you, such as social security numbers of the visitors (background check, duh!), and giving you more information about the process.
  3. Lastly, if there are tour availabilities during your visit, you will get an email from your Congressional office again with the tour date, time, and additional information.
  4. Then, you just need to make sure you get your butt to the White House Visitor's gate, present your government-issued ID (drivers license or passport), and go on in! (btw - no purses allowed, sorry!)
  5. (More information about the process can be found at
One thing to remember is that you will not get to pick the day or the time of your tour. And, you aren't necessarily guaranteed a tour during your visit, it is on a first-come-first-serve basis, and also depends on what is going on in the White House that day. But, it doesn't hurt to try, right?

If you are able to get a tour, I will guarantee that it'll be something worth talking about! It's pretty awesome to see White House staffers walking around with "White House logo" coffee cups, and to step into all of the iconic rooms with a serious collection of historic furniture and art (swoon). Plus, if you are lucky, like my dad, you'll run into a friendly Secret Service German Shepherd.... (read: stay away from them!) You aren't guaranteed to see any particular rooms since it depends on the White House (ie, President's) schedule for the day, but heck, just walking into the White House is pretty darn awesome!

And, while they don't let you take photos inside the house, you can take them as you are leaving. Here is a quick photo my mom took of my dad and I right outside the North Portico.

Don't we look pretty darn excited?!

I bet when you started reading this you thought you would get a "White House history" from me, no? Well, if you do want a little White House history I would suggest checking out Wikipedia (come on, it's got the basics) and

Also, let me know, as tourists, what you would like to see me write about in my Tourist Tuesdays. Any particular tourist-y spots? How to's? Anyone want some histories?!?

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Happy Home-iversary!

    Yesterday marked the 1-year anniversary of Chris and I closing on our very first house!! This past year has gone by really fast and we have accomplished a lot with our house - making it feel like a home and taking care of "homeowner" problems like our leaky basement and gardening. Although, looking back, there were a few things on our home "to-do" list that just didn't quite make the cut this year - like getting a cheap refrigerator for the basement kitchenette and the basement bathroom in general (which I'll get to later).

    For all of you first-time homeowners out there, or soon-to-be first-time homeowners, I wanted to share with you what I have learned over this past year...
    1. Homeowner-ship is a money-pit. I had always heard that from people before we bought, but I definitely didn't quite realize the truth behind it until these last 12 months. If it's not decorating your house, it's fixing leaks, or holes, or electric-stuff, or anything really. Basically, you spend way more money than you could ever imagine. Which leads me to my second point....
    2. There is always something you need to do. Again, if it's not wanting to paint or decorate a room, it's fixing leaks, or holes, or electric-stuff. (And let's not forget about cleaning!) Chris and I could probably spend every weekend doing "house" things if we wanted, and our list would only get longer!
    3. I don't mind my house being a money-pit or always having something that needs to be done. We waited a long time to be homeowners. I waited a long time to decorate my own space, and Chris waited a long time to "fix" things. I would much rather buy paint, or curtains, or spend my time DIYing, than buy new clothes, or shoes, or go shopping. I know I have been to Home Depot A LOT more than I have been to a mall, and you know what, I am A-okay with that. In fact, I love it, because I love my new home.
    4. And, because of #1-3, we have definitely become more domestic. Last night Chris and I watched Old School and the character Frank (Will Ferrell) pretty much summed up what we have turned into:
      "Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time."  Yes. Yes, that is us, 100%. Our Saturdays are filled with trips to Home Depot, or Target, or BB&B.... Sometimes I do miss the day and weekend trips we would take before we bought a house, but I have really enjoyed spending our time making our house a home this  past year. 
    Year #2 will be different. Maybe we'll spend less money and time on the house and get to take more trips away from our home, or maybe we'll encounter some catastrophic kitchen issue that sucks us back in - you never know - but either way, I cannot wait!

    Lastly, I have really been looking forward to sharing with everyone a "house tour" of all of the work we've accomplished this past year, but at this moment our house is not quite in the right shape to take photos of entire rooms... it honestly looks like we just moved in....

    Our upstairs landing, complete with a broken bookshelf, towel, bathroom stuff, piles of photo frames, and yes, our comforter laying on the master bedroom floor.

    Our guest bedroom still how we left it last weekend when we painted it: bed in the middle of the room with miscellaneous stuff on it and the step ladder. Oh, but isn't our chevron accent wall cool?! I'll blog about that once the room looks more presentable...

    The corner of our living room would look better if we cleaned up the photo frames, boxes, and bike gear littered around it. Plus, our DIY lamp is less than complete...

    Bikes, bikes, and more boxes. Believe it or not, those are only 2 of our 4 bikes - and probably only 2 of our gazillion boxes. And, to complete the look, laundry at the dining room table.

    The basement project that will never end. While we fixed the basement doors ages ago, Chris has been slowly putting our basement bathroom back together. Which included waterproofing a random hole that we found that had been leaking water into our basement and drywall-ing the space back up. We are now onto one of the final stages in this process TODAY - tiling! Because of our door switcheroo, we have to re-tile the bathroom, and we're re-tiling that space right in front of the backdoor.

    So yes, Chris and I are kind of living like slobs at the moment (which should come as a shock to those that know me well. I'm not even really stressed about it, weird, I know). But, we'll I'll get it clean and then I'll take pretty photos of my house for all of you, promise!! Now, off to go help Chris tile. This should be interesting...

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Cat of Steel

    As you might remember or already know, Chris and I have two kids... err, cats. One of them, Teddy, is a "big boy," which is putting it nicely...

    (Apologies for the poor quality, it was taken with my cell phone.)
    As you can most likely tell from the photo in which he takes up a good portion of the dresser top, he is big. He weighs a little over 18 lbs. and can easily stretch from our ankles to our hips when he lays on our legs. Plus, he is all black. To the regular passer-by he is probably terrifying, but in reality, he is the biggest cuddly-bear kitty ever and is completely pathetic 90% of the time.

    For example, sometime last spring Teddy began to meow, loudly, these most pathetic yowls we had ever heard. And, he always did this when he was in a room all by himself, especially at night when we would go to bed and Teddy would still be in the living room or basement. Chris and I would joke that Teddy had gotten "lost" and was scared and looking for us. That's how pathetic he is.

    This summer, we realized that those "yowls" were actually his way of telling us he had something that he wanted to show us or play with. (I know, you must be thinking that we are regular cat whisperers in this house.) For instance, he usually yowls while he is bringing us hair bands (his favorite "toy") or bottle caps (another favorite). Rarely does he actually brings us one of the numerous real cat toys we have bought him, like a catnip-stuffed mouse.

    So, bringing this long background story to a close, last night Chris said he heard the similar yowling coming from Teddy after we had gone to bed. He said it sounded more labored or struggled than usual, but he didn't think anything else from it. Remember, Teddy's pathetic. He didn't think anything of it, that is, until this morning when he walked downstairs to leave for work and saw this in the middle of our kitchen/dining room:

    Don't mind our tiny overflowing trashcan.

    What is it? you ask.... that is one of Chris' tennis shoes. Yup, just one.

    You wanna know where it was last night when we went to bed? Not in the middle of the kitchen, that's for sure! It was in our BASEMENT! Not only was it in our basement, but it was on the complete opposite side of the basement from our stairs. Meaning someone picked it up and carried it across the basement, up the stairs, and into the kitchen...upon closer inspection of the shoe, Chris found this piece of evidence:

    Do you see them?

    Do you see them? On the toe box? Yes, that is two teeth puncture marks on the shoe's mesh upper. Someone, a CAT (or a tiny vampire), carried that up from the basement. And, based on the fact that Chris heard Teddy's labored yowling last night, our guess is that our pathetic cat of steel, Teddy, carried a whole entire tennis shoe up from the basement! Such strength and determination to get that thing up the stairs!! Hilarious!! It is moments like these that I wish I had cameras set up around my house to catch these acts. Or, perhaps kitty-cams!

    So, yes, I just wrote an entire post about the happenings of one of my cats last night. Yes, we are crazy cat people for thinking this is hilarious and wanting to share it with all of you! But seriously pet-owners out there, don't you have crazy animal stories too?

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Green Bathroom!? Help!

    In less than one week we will have been living in our house for 1 year and there are a few projects that I want to wrap up before that looming "anniversary" date. One of these projects includes our guest bathroom, and while I have ideas for the bathroom in my head, I need your help making those final decisions (because sometimes I cannot make them)! And really, besides Chris, our guests (you) will be using it! So, how would you like your guest bathroom?

    Okay, here we go... First, I have a navy blue shower curtain that I love and want to keep, AND, I found these two absolutely great candle pillar things that gave me inspiration for that space that I want to use in there as well (see photos below). So, a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to stencil the bathroom! I've never stenciled before, and I figured our small-ish guest bath would be a good place to start. Using the "candle pillar things" as inspiration, I painted our bathroom green as the base paint to the stencil (Martha Stewart Rhododendron-green to be exact).
    Green walls, navy shower curtain.

    Pillar candle thing, green walls, navy shower curtain.
     I have also picked out the stencil - the Casablanca allover stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils.

    Casablanca stencil. Swoon! (source)
     Soooo, I have the base paint, I have the stencil, but now I need help deciding what color to paint the stencil and I don't think I can do it alone! I know, the green base paint is pri-tty overwhelming. We have loooovely tall ceilings in our bathroom that make it seem surprisingly bigger than it really is, and this green is literally weighing everything down. I know my stencil MUST be a lighter color to open things back up, but what color?

    Perhaps, white? It would end up looking something like this with the green base paint as the stencil outline....
    Or, perhaps, just a lighter color green in a higher gloss, similar to what Lovely Crafty Home did...
    Or, should I be bold and go with another color, like Martha Stewart's Seaglass? (It would blend well with our hallway color and our guest bedroom color which both have seafoam-y greenish-blue hues...)
    Here's the bathroom currently with the candle pillar thingy, for reference...

    Is the seaglass color too much? I'm afraid if I go with white it will be a lot of white with the all-white tub, toilet, vanity, and cabinet? Is a lighter green still too much green?? Maybe I should do a builder beige color to blend in with our tile???

    Lastly, did I screw myself with spending an afternoon painting the bathroom green? Should I scrap the green and start over?!? HELP! Any and all suggestions, advice, guidance would be MUCH appreciated!

     (In other news, I did finish painting our guest bedroom, which WAS successful and I am absolutely in love with it and WILL be posting about it asap!)
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...