Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Since Leap Day only comes around every 4 years, I figured that if I were to blog any day this week, today would be the day. It's a sieze-the-moment-(day) kinda thing, no?

But, I honestly don't really have anything "spectacular" to write about. Sorry. (Well, I do, but it would require posting lots of photos and stuff and I don't have the energy for that right now.) So, I figured why not just give you some random facts about our Washington life, I mean, it's Leap Day!

So, you know how we're training for that half marathon in two and a half weeks? Well, I definitely hurt my IT band on my long run Saturday. Oops. So while I was applying RICE to my knee this weekend I was also doing some online shopping for some new running shoes, a foam roller, and new shoe insoles. Lucky for me, they all came in yesterday, just in time to start breaking them in (the shoes and insoles) and start getting a good stretch on (the foam roller).

If you've never seen a foam roller in action, it's actually really fun. Here's a video on stretching your IT band, but there are other great stretching exercises you can do with it. There are even great ones for your back!

Also, if you haven't already, please please please consider donating to our running cause, Special Operations Warrior Foundation. We're almost to our goal, and every little bit helps. As my little brother aptly put, "we need your help to make it more than just a race." You can find information on it and donate here!

Yesterday not only did I get a bunch of fun running stuff in the mail, but I also got this AWESOME bench that I ordered from Target a while back.

New bench & Teddy

We put it on our second floor landing, which is pretty big and was looking a little sad and empty. It even goes with my seafoam and yellow color scheme up there so it's extra purty! And, as you can see, Teddy jumped on it and made himself at home as soon as we set it up. I don't know what will be on it more, Teddy or Chris' laundry. ; ) Now I just have to decide what to put in it - linens, bath supplies, or first aid stuff. Decisions, decisions.

Speaking of first aid, have you heard of the norovirus? Apparently it's that bug that spread around those cruise ships earlier this year where a bunch of people got sick and they had to dock early, yadda, yadda . . . basically, it's a nasty flu bug thing. Welp, it's striking George Washington University. The same place Chris goes to school two nights a week. He's not sick (yet), but he found out this morning that some of his co-workers are sick with what seems to be that nasty norovirus too. I personally wouldn't mind being sick to take a couple of days off and lay around watching HIMYM and LOST, but neither of us want to be clutching the porcelain throne either, if you catch my drift. We'll see if our immune systems hold up . . .

While I wait for this bug to hit us, I am using my time wisely. I definitely spent a better part of a day re-organizing my Pinterest boards. The more "non-sense" that I see pinned (right, Danielle?) the more I realize what I use Pinterest for - wish lists, home decor, DIY stuff, and a pictographic-recipe book. (Why yes, I am Pinterest-pretentious -watch what you pin!) So, some reorganizing was needed to better align my boards with my interests and needs. For example, I deleted some boards and added new ones. I also divided my Yummy in my Tummy board into three - the original, Healthi(er), and Just Desserts. And, I decided to dedicate an entire board to My Map Fetish, which I've already blogged about. (Follow some of my new boards too!)

Speaking of my map fetish, one of the maps on our map wall decided to fall the other night sending another one crashing down. It's no big deal, nothing broke (thanks to the couch cushioning it all), but it did scratch the wall. Ooops.

So, I think that's enough rambling, don't you? Thanks for listening. For your patience, I'm rewarding you with a super cute picture of Teddy on the new bench. He was pretending he was imprisoned and lashing out at his captors (Chris).


Happy Leap Day, everyone! Until next time, February 29, 2016!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tourist Tuesday: Sports in the District

I know I need to start getting back into my Tourist Tuesday's and Washington Wednesday's post series, so since Spring Training and March Madness are right around the corner I figured I should tell you about sports in the District.

Here's my list of sports in DC worth checking out:

1. Baseball
We've been out to Nationals Park numerous times to watch the Nationals (or Cardinals) play.  It's a typical stadium where you can watch your home team (or the Nationals), drink beer and get a hot dog (or something more gourmet), but Nationals Park has it's own unique "thing." Every baseball stadium seems to have its "thing," and here it's The Racing Presidents. Every game, during the fourth inning, a select group of men and women don the heads of four Presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt - and race around the ballpark.


If people don't get up and cheer for the Nationals, they will cheer for the Presidents. Abe Lincoln has won the most at 154 times from 2006-2010, while Teddy Roosevelt, to this day, has not won a single race. There's even a local push to have Teddy win a race, with a blog and t-shirts dedicated to the topic. I think Chris and I secretly want to be at the game when Teddy wins ; )

2. Hockey
Another team you can check out is the Washington Capitals hockey team. And, they are actually pretty good! I took Chris to a game in January as a Christmas present (and it fulfilled my goal to visit a DC place once a month). The game was a lot of fun, plus the Caps won! If tickets weren't so expensive, I would definitely go more often (almost $100/ticket to sit in pretty much nose-bleed seats). It was the first NHL game I had been to in eons and I really look forward to going to some more, I just have to save my pennies . . . (Oh, and the Verizon Center where they play is located in the heart of Chinatown, so it's super easy to get to and there are tons of restaurants to catch drinks and dinner before a game.)

Introducing your Washington Capitals
(Courtesy of afagen via Flickr)

3. Football 
You can also go see the Redskins play at FedEx Field. No, the Redskins aren't the greatest team in the NFL, but if you like football, why not! Plus, even though it's way out in Maryland, at least it's metro-accessible. Chris and I have been lucky enough to go to FedEx Field to watch the Rams and Chiefs play, from a box. Now, while it isn't the same experience as tailgating in the parking lot and sitting in the cold smashed against other fans, I'll take free box seats any  time! (Thanks, Dad!)


4. Basketball
Washington's basketball team, the Wizards, also play in the Verizon Center. The "pros" of watching the Wizards are that they're a NBA-team (even if some college teams could beat them) and the tickets are cheap (because they aren't good). The "cons" of watching the Wizards is that they aren't good. They are so bad that their losing streaks are constantly discussed in local news. They're even so bad that I've been to one of their games (tickets were $10, awesome!) but still accidentally say that I've never been to a NBA game. Oops. Maybe the NBA isn't for me, but for $10 tickets I might still go to a game.

Washington Wizards
(Courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr)

5. Soccer
Yes, DC has a soccer team, the DC United. And, people out here really like their soccer team. I really really really want to go to a game (hint, hint, hubby), but their games are less frequent, and the tickets are kinda pricey. They play at RFK Stadium, which was named in honor of JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy, and used to be the home of the Redskins, Senators, and the Nationals. There is talk of DC United moving into a new stadium in Maryland, but I think RFK is pretty cool. I mean, it has held international soccer games for the FIFA World Cup and the 1996 summer Olympics in it - cool, no? Going to a DC United game is definitely on my list of things to do in DC.

DC United v. LA Galaxy @ RFK
(Courtesy of lunasola via Flickr)

6. Tennis
Did you know DC has a pro tennis team? They do. Meet the Washington Kastles, which include Venus and Serena Williams. Awesome, right?! They are undefeated. Nuff said. Every summer they host a WTT (World Tennis Team) tournament in DC, and one summer, we will go. Right, Chris?
7. College Basketball
Lastly, it's only fitting living on the east coast that I mention college basketball. People out here love their college basketball. Some even follow the Division II and III teams - weird, I know. But, there are some pretty big Division I teams out here like the University of Maryland Terps, Georgetown Hoyas, and the George Mason University Patriots (my alma mater!). Some years they're good, some years they aren't, but they definitely have fan followings out here and you can't avoid hearing about them during basketball season. Sadly, as a Mason student I never went to a game, but someday I plan on it!

Tigers vs Patriots
(Courtesy of Phil Romans via Flickr)

So, that's my list of sports things to do in DC. If you're bored with walking around monuments and museums, I would suggest checking out one of the local sporting events. Although, as I mentioned, I'm not claiming that they're very good, or that it's cheap . . .

We're always up for an outing to a game so if anyone is interested, let us know!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Map Fetish

I have a thing for maps. There, I said it. All maps really - framed maps, antique maps, globes, and any other map-paraphernalia, including map pillows and coasters. Just look at My Map Maniac Pinterest board. It's a little crazy.

Every time I think of decorating our house, I brainstorm what kind of "map" I can incorporate. And, subsequently, every time I see a map, I brainstorm about where it could go in our house. If our house has a theme, it would probably be maps. Yes, I said it, our house has a theme. (Chris is going to hate that.)

I blame it on the fact that Chris and I love to travel. Not only did Chris and I meet studying abroad in Greece, but we also got engaged while backpacking across Europe. On top of that, we have taken more road trips around our great nation than I can recount, including a camping trip for a week in Utah. We're constantly planning our next big escape, whether it's the Olympic Games or a tour of the northern U.S., and we even "jokingly" comment about how we want to go live in Germany or Canada. (and I'm still not sure if we're joking, or serious about that one . . .) Either way, maps seem to be a constant reminder of all of our adventures and a fitting theme for our house!

So, for almost a year now I've been planning on creating a gallery wall of framed maps above our couch in our living room. Not only was the wall blank and boring, but coincidentally antique maps often have the same turquoise and red colors that I had started decorating our first floor in.

Ever since that decision I've been slowly collecting cheap frames from Ikea and thrift stores and perusing the web and Etsy for maps. I toyed with matching colored frames, or mixed frames (as my Pinterest followers probably noticed), and finally, last month, decided that it was time to actually hang up my map wall.

I started by laying out all of my frames on the floor and placing my maps on top of them to see how I wanted it to be arranged.


Then, I did what every lifestyle blogger out there does, I hung up mock frames made of paper on the wall to get a better idea of the arrangement.


I apologize for the raciness of my mock frames, we didn't have any newspaper like normal people probably use so I just tore up a Victoria's Secret catalog instead. And in case you guessed it already, these racy mock frames stayed up on the walls for a couple of weeks. Good thing we don't have friends with kids come over. But, I don't think Teddy minded, do you?

From there, most lifestyle bloggers tell their readers to start installing the nails for their real frames, right through their mock frames. I didn't want to use nails though, because I am too indecisive to have a bunch of nail holes littered across our wall. (and, Chris would probably kill me if I put a bunch of holes in the wall and then wanted to change it all six months later!)  So, instead I decided to use the trusty Command Picturing Hanging strips. Because I wanted to use those strips, I decided to use trusty painter's tape to outline the frames so I would know exactly where to hang each frame.


Now, I decided to go a little corny in my gallery wall (and give you all a lesson on DC). See, the center map on my wall is of Washington, DC and anyone who knows DC's street-scape should know that DC is divided into quadrants with the center being the Capitol building.  From the Capitol building as the center, streets, and the National Mall, go out directly east, west, north, and south and divide the city into its infamous quadrants (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest). Check out the satellite view of DC below because my explanation probably doesn't make any sense ; )

(Wiki Commons)

So, I followed the east/west and north/south lines of my antique map of DC and decided to hang my frames on the same grid. Cheesy, I know, but I love it! And, I love my finished look!

sorry for the awful glare . . .


The wall includes antique maps from all of our favorite places - DC, St. Louis, Kansas City, Munich, North America, Boone County MO (Columbia), Germany, Athens, Mexico, Greece, Adair County MO (Kirksville), Italy, and Gasconade County MO (Hermann). Some of them I bought online, but I also downloaded a bunch for free and just printed them off. So since almost half of them were free, I suspect that I'll change some over time to reflect new favorite places, but for now, it's perfect!  Also, I'm still toying with the idea of painting a couple of frames different colors since so many of them are black, maybe add some silver or white/cream - what do you think?

So, where are your favorite places? And, more importantly, does your home have a theme?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Operation Finish Bathrooms: Part 3

It is now, finally, time for the final installment of Operation Finish Bathrooms (for now). I've already shared how we Chris re-did our cruise-ship-sized basement bathroom in the first installment, and I've also shared how we made our master bathroom semi-sophisticated in the second installment, but now it's time to reveal the heart of all my bathroom-decorating woes and Operation Finish Bathrooms Part 3: Our Ever-Changing-And-Never-Finished Guest Bathroom. (and beware, this is a LONG one, sorry!)

So, you might remember my dilemma late last summer? At that time, I had just painted our guest bathroom green, to match some candle holders I got on sale at World Market and I pleaded for help in developing a color scheme. Well, I finally decided on a color. But then, I decided that that color made the bathroom look like a circus tent. So, I picked a completely different color scheme. And now that I like the colors, I am still stuck once again! I've mentioned I'm indecisive, right?

How about I start from the very beginning . . . .

When we moved in, this is what our guest bathroom looked like. Plain jane, with builder beige colors on the wall, and even a glass shower door.

guest bath

Then, as you might remember, I bought these great candle holders and decided to paint the guest bath green and stencil a color over it. I sought your help in deciding what color to stencil in.


Everyone had great suggestions, but I was still torn on what color to stencil in, so I played around with paint chips and waited. "Waited for what?" you're probably asking. I guess I was waiting for that "light-bulb" design moment where it all makes sense. Needless to say that didn't happen and I was anxious to do something, so I picked a color anyway and went with it.

Bad idea, at least when you are doing something as laborious as stenciling. . . For novice-stencilers out there, I would NEVER RECOMMEND stenciling a bathroom as your first attempt at stenciling. Why? It seems so easy, right? Sure, it's really easy to stencil a square or rectangular wall, but throw in tiling, fixtures, toilets, and cramped quarters and you have a recipe for disaster, if not a LOT of frustration.

It took me about a month, maybe, and I don't want to even guess how many hours, to stencil this far. (And, oh yeah, I picked a lighter green to stencil, surprise . . . )


You think it looks good, right? Wrong. It looked bad. B-A-D, bad. Sure, from this photo it looks good, well, decent (let's be honest). But up close, like you would be if you were sitting on the "commode," the lines were not crisp and clean at all. Eck!


No matter how thinly I put on the coats of paint, it still globbed-up and smeared in places. Then, I had to free-hand the corners and edges because of weird bathroom angles and what free-handing of the stencil I had done looked scare-ry! Eek!


I was finding myself working on it every night after work and all day on weekends. Mind you, all of this work was for a bathroom, and not just any bathroom, but our guest bathroom that I don't even use. Plus, all of those bright colors started to take on a circus-y kind of feel, which is definitely not what I had intended. And, to make matters worse, I was constantly asking Chris if it looked bad and, bless his poor-husband-soul, he would say it looked "okay" while his face looked horrified. Not a good sign, ladies (and gents). Not a good sign at all.

I eventually gave up. It was too much work and had tested the limits of my decorating- and DIY-patience. I needed to step away and wait to be re-inspired.

In the meantime, I moved on to other home projects - like hanging up new dining room art, having fun with some chalkboard paint in our kitchen, painting chevrons in our guest bedroom, and even planning our master bathroom decorating.

FINALLY, the design-lightbulb flickered in my mind (just flickered) and I realized that I wanted similar color schemes in our second-floor hallway, guest bedroom, and guest bathroom because as you walk up our steps you see all three. I wanted them to be cohesive and not clash. I didn't want a cornucopia or rainbow of color to blind my guests, or me, but something that was complimentary. 

As you might remember, our guest bedroom is already yellow and white with turquoise/seafoam accents. So, I once again went back to this color scheme that, for us, is equal parts sophisticated and fun. (Thank you, Pinterest and Oh Hello Friend!)

I can't seem to get away from yellows paired with seafoams and white. Thank goodness seafoam/aquamarine is the color of the season!

So, I decided to paint over the green, and the stenciling, and start completely over. I sanded the walls to smooth out the stencil lines and then primed (it took a good 4 coats). Trust me, for a room as small as a bathroom it was still very time consuming and I cannot believe I decided to start over!

Sexy, right?


I ended up painting 3 of the walls Behr's Capri Cream (light yellow), and the focal wall Behr's Cotton Fluff (off-white).


Then, I stenciled just the focal wall, to avoid the stupid corners and edges, in the same Capri Cream/yellow color. Stenciling just the focal wall was the best decision ever since it only took a day to complete! And, I think it looks pretty gosh darn good . . .


I actually love how faint the stenciling looks - not only does it kind of give a honey comb look to the wall from far away, but it also hides some of my stenciling mistakes!


And, I really really love how pretty the yellow bathroom looks with our seafoam/turquoise-y hallway walls!


The lesson I learned from this experience is two-fold - 1) Stenciling is hard; 2) But things can easily be painted over (it might just take some sanding and a whole gallon of primer)!

So, at the beginning of this post (and probably 15-minutes-worth-of-reading ago if you made it this far) I mentioned how I am stuck once again, and it's pretty obvious from these photos that the bathroom is sparse and needs some accessorizing. I'm the process of brainstorming some ideas to share with all of you, but I figured that this post was long enough, so, details on that are to be continued . . .

(And, in case you are wondering, I used the Rabat Allover Stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Washington Wednesday: DC Debates Pronunciation

Last night, Chris brought to my attention an interesting debate that he had heard reported on WTOP and has been apparently going around DC. "How do you pronounce McPherson?" he asked, in reference to one of the busiest Metro stops and the small city park that is currently home to one of the Occupy DC movements.

I said, "It's pronounced Mc-FEAR-son, right? Everyone calls it McFEARson."


Apparently, it's technically pronounced Mc-FUR-son.

McPherson Square
Statue of Gen. McPherson in PcPherson Square, Courtesy of NcinDC via Flickr

Mc-FEAR-son, Mc-FUR-son, what's the difference?

Well, according to WAMU's research,  that's the correct pronunciation of the namesake of the square, U.S. Civil War Gen. James Birdseye McPherson. They even consulted a leading Civil War Expert at the U.S. Army War College to verify the pronunciation. Oh, and by the way, the expert also told them that the General's middle name is pronounced "bird-see," not "bird's eye." Crazy stuff, right? It gets crazier though . . .

The DC blog,, then debated the topic and they even consulted leading Civil War historian, James McPherson, who obviously shares the last name (no relation though). Ever since I read my first McPherson book, Battle Cry of Freedom (because I am a crazy history nerd and he's one of the best), I had pronounced his name with FEAR in it. Mc-FEAR-son. Right? Wrong. HE told that his family actually pronounces it Mc-FUR-son. AHH! Mind blown, world rocked. Seriously, I had been mispronouncing one of my favorite historian's last names. Wow.

Lastly, one of our friends, Lacey, is actually from McPherson, Kansas. Another one of General McPherson's namesakes. Small world, no? But get this, Lacey pronounces it Mc-FUR-son. To be honest, I thought it was strange when I first heard it pronounced that way, but Lacey for the win!

So what do I do now - pronounce it McFEARson or McFURson?

Oh, the little things that rock our tiny DC world . . .
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