Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mid-Week Mumblings

Why do I keep thinking today is Friday? Seriously, I keep thinking it's Friday and have to remind myself that, no, it's only Thursday. One more day in my work week, not one more hour. Ergh.

Chris and I have had a fairly boring last couple of weeks since the Half Marathon and I'm in between house projects (for the first time in a while!) so I figured I'd share what's been on my mind lately instead of boring you with a description of me falling asleep while watching television or Chris doing homework, because that's literally what we've been doing. We lead an exciting life, no?

Anyway, here are my mid-week mumblings, since it's still kinda mid-week (darn you, Thursday!):

  • I lied, Chris and I haven't been completely boring lately. Last weekend we actually had a "date night" where I was able to persuade Chris to go see The Hunger Games with me (eeks!!) and take me to P.F. Chang's, which for some reason I've been craving. First, The Hunger Games was AWESOME! Loved every minute of it.I'm also kinda loving on The Hunger Games inspired pins on Pinterest . . . here are two of my favorites: 

  • Oh, and in between the movie and dinner I caved on one of my 2012 goals - I bought some clothes. BUT, it was the first time I bought clothes since 2011, so that my friends, is awesome! Chris and I walked into a Banana Republic and I couldn't resist snagging a Mad Men collection skirt and two tops, especially since they were already on sale AND had an additional 20% off. Score!
  • I'm experiencing a curtain-crisis. See, I want (we need) curtains in our living room and master bedroom, but I just can't seem to figure out what I want to do. I recently bought some plain white Ikea curtains but I want to do something to spice them up a bit. I'm thinking of stenciling them, or adding some kind of colored fabric to the sides and/or bottom of them, or adding some fringe. Who knows, I just know I need to do something because right now they are a boring, and wrinkly, mess.  To Pinterest for some inspiration, I guess . . . .

  • I love breakfast food. I mean, LOVE breakfast food. I think that Brunch is an awesome thing, but Chris could careless. I also think that Brinner (breakfast for dinner) is perfectly acceptable, but Chris thinks that it, along with the word Brinner, is "stupid." So, last Sunday I met a new friend at Acadiana for a New Orleans-style brunch, and boy was it yummmy. Acadiana has a pre fixe 3-course brunch with $1 mimosas. That's right, $1 mimosas. (If anything pairs perfectly with breakfast, it's a mimosa!) I had a banana fosters and pecan french toast, eggs benedict (mmmmm), and beignets. I have to go back asap, who wants to go?!

    • When we first moved into our house we wanted to decorate our master bedroom first, so that we had one "finished" room. Well, now, it's probably one of the most disheveled rooms (besides our office, which is literally just piles of stuff with two bookcases and a desk and computer), and I really want to make it nice for real this time. I want to paint the walls darker, finally decorate some shelves we have, and do something with the boring, white curtains. And, of course, Pinterest has been giving me some inspiration, I just need to decide if I'm leaning towards bold and dramatic, or serene and quiet . . . 

    • Like I mentioned last week, Chris and I "gardened" last weekend too, if that's what you call it. It was more like me yelling at the ivy and weed barrier fabric and Chris trying to avoid me. But, we got new mulch down and grass seed, flowers, and herbs planted. Now, we just have to wait and see how they all work out . . . (I'll post some pictures once there is more to look at!) 
    •  Lastly, this weekend Chris' family is coming in town (yay!!), so if this post is too rambling for you, next week I should have something more exciting to write about. I'm hoping we finally check out a DC site that's on my "to do" list out here! (Can you guess which one it is?!) 
    Have a great weekend ya'll, even if it is only Thursday!

        Tuesday, March 27, 2012

        Tourist Tuesday: Cherry Blossoms

        It's only fitting that I write a Tourist Tuesday about the Cherry Blossoms since this year marks the 100th Anniversary of Japan's gift of the cherry blossom trees to the U.S. to celebrate the growing friendship between the two nations. In 1912, 3,000 cherry trees were gifted from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. First Lady Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park (around where the FDR and MLK Memorials are now). (Actually, a first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910, but just two years later new trees arrived and were planted.) These are the trees that now turn the Tidal Basin into a cloud of pink each spring!

        Over the last 100 years, the cherry blossom trees have become staple attraction in DC, probably just as notable as some of the monuments and museums. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which has been taking place since 1927, celebrates the gift of these trees, the Japanese and American friendship, and springtime in Washington! Usually the Festival lasts 2 weeks, but because this year is the 100th anniversary the festival is 5 weeks long (March 20 - April 27)!! Chris and I have never attended the Festival events, because while the cherry blossoms are gorgeous, I cannot stand the crowds, but, there is always a lot of fun stuff going on, such as a 10k race, a parade, and daily activities.

        The Festival usually coincides with the trees' bloom (thanks to the National Park Service's predictions), however, because we had such an unseasonably warm winter, the cherry blossoms bloomed really early this year, like, two weeks ago-early. I'm definitely writing this post kinda late because some of the blooms are already being replaced by regular old green leaves. Oops! BUT, be sure to mark your calendars for next year's Festival!!

        Like I said, Chris and I really don't like the Cherry Blossom crowds so we've only really walked around the Tidal Basin to take them in a couple of times. But, below are some photos I took of them two years ago (I think). The trees were right around peak bloom when I took these photos, but just google or flickr them and you'll see TONS of awesome photos of the trees, WAY better than these!




        Now, like I hinted at, the Festival attracts over a million people every year. This is what some of that million usually looks like . . .



        Looks like a lot of fun, right? Wrong (at least for us). If you are like us and would like to check out the Cherry Blossom trees but avoid the madhouse, here are my suggestions:
        1. Go early in the morning. Not only are there less crowds early in the morning, but sunrise at the Tidal Basin would be really pretty. I wouldn't know though, I've never gone ; )
        2. Go on a weekday or weeknight. Yes, there will still be the crowds of spring-breakers, but it won't be as bad as a weekend, I promise.
        3. I also promise that there won't be as many crowds on a cloudy or even rainy day, that's another good time to go if you don't mind getting a little wet.
        4. Avoid the Smithsonian and even the L'Enfant metro stations, but especially the Smithsonian station. They are like a cattle herd of lost tourists - crazy. Make it a day to get some exercise. Put on your walking shoes and walk from a further station. Archives/Navy Memorial is my go-to metro stop, probably because there is a Potbelly and Au Bon Pain right up the street from it, and it's on the yellow/green line where I live!
        5. Lastly, just skip the Tidal Basin all together and go to the National Arboretum. I think that's what we might do this weekend, or sometime this spring. The National Arboretum has a huge variety of cherry blossom trees, including late-flowering ones! It also has what is called "Azelea Hill,"which is apparently gorgeous and may not be around much longer.So, go there!
        So, that's the scoop on the Cherry Blossoms from a "Washington-insider." Even though we really don't get into the Cherry Blossom hype, they are really truly pretty, and definitely something special to the DC area, whether you see them at the Tidal Basin, around the National Mall or the National Arboretum, or just see them scattered throughout the neighborhoods!

        Friday, March 23, 2012

        History Nerds

        Chris and I are big history nerds, if you haven't already figured that out from our map wall a few weeks ago. I am probably the biggest history nerd though, which I already hinted at here. (In summation, I love Little House on the Prairie.)

        Any-who, if we didn't already stamp our nerdiness on our house with the map wall, we definitely did in our preparations for my brother and his girlfriend's visit last weekend for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  Just like most of you probably do when you're expecting guests at your house, we spent the week before their arrival cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. But, while cleaning for most people is probably just the basic dusting and vacuuming, cleaning for me also means finally finishing long-awaited house projects. More specifically, long-awaited projects in the areas that guests will see, like the guest bedroom and its surrounding areas.

        The first project was a 1,000-piece puzzle of the United States and the U.S. Presidents. Uber-nerdy, I know. It was an old puzzle I found in my parents' basement when we were visiting at Christmas and I decided that it was perfect for Chris and I. And, it only took us a couple of days to put it together (while we watched the first Presidential primary results of the year!).


        Unfortunately, we realized that we were missing about 7 pieces of that puzzle. Bummer. So, I found an identical puzzle on Amazon for around $10 that promised to have all of its pieces. (I know you are probably thinking that I'm super nerdy for ordering the same puzzle online, but I had to have it!)

        The new puzzle didn't have all its pieces though. It was missing 2-3 pieces. And, the worst part, besides that the missing pieces were part of Andrew Jackon's mugshot, er, portrait (which is one of Chris' favorite presidents) ,was that the puzzles were not identical. Sure, they were the same "scene" but the cuts of the pieces were different so it wasn't easy to swap a piece from one puzzle to the other. So, after carefully testing out pieces from both puzzles, we were able to find the right combination to make it look somewhat normal. For example, Andrew Jackson's portrait and description aren't quite right . . . (if you don't know who Andrew Jackson is, I guess that's ok. He's the one in the middle with the white hair, big forehead, and crazy receding hairline. But not the almost-bald dude on the bottom, that John Quincy Adams.)


        If you can't tell, his nose and chin are kinda weird, at least weirder than they're already supposed to be, and the dates of his presidency and party are a jumbled mess. But I didn't care, at least the puzzle was together!

        Then, I went out a bought some Modge Podge (because for some reason I didn't already own it) and a pricier-than-I-wanted-it-to-be frame from Michael's. Not only was it pricey, but the frame's corner was broken when I unwrapped it. That's what I get for being inpatient and buying when things aren't on sale. . . anyway, we hung it up in the hall in between the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom.



        It fits in nicely with the Presidential and American History books that fill the bookshelf beneath it. (Yes, we have a bookshelf devoted to our Presidential history books. And don't worry, I have many more history books not pictured.) Plus, the AWESOME Abe Lincoln bobble head and vintage globe my sister gave me round out the nerdiness. (Thanks, Danielle!)


        Well, I lied. The top two shelves are Presidential and American History books. The bottom shelf is clearly Harry Potter, Jane Austen, LOTR, some yearbooks, and other miscellaneous big books. Someday they will all be history books when I decide to organize them (unless I move them to my future classroom!).

        The other project was hanging up some awesome sketches of our U.S. Presidents' homes that my mother-in-law gave us over Christmas. She had had them since Chris was younger, so I thought the perfect place to put them was in the guest bedroom where his parents will stay when they visit. As usual, Chris did the measurements, while I handled the sketches and the frames. . .


        They line the wall across from the guest bed. So, if you stay with us, you will get to fall asleep, or wake up, to these beauties. Cool, huh? (only if you're a nerd, like us!)

        And, just for your information, as a rule of thumb, I usually hang frames 3 inches a part (I did that here and here). I think it provides enough space between the frames, while also seeming "close." Especially because I use chunkier/bulkier frames.

        Here are all of the prints up close . . .

        First, there's George Washington's Mount Vernon (top) and William McKinley's home (bottom). . .


        Then, it's Warren Harding's home (top) and Prospect, Princeton University's Presidents' home, and hence, Woodrow Wilson's home (bottom), since besides being our 28th President, he was also the 13th President of Princeton . . .


        We also have Polk Place (top), the home of James K. Polk, and Andrew Jackson's Hermitage (bottom) . . .


        Lastly, we have Harry Truman's Missouri home (top) and James Madison's Montpelier (bottom) . . .


        I think we are the ultimate nerds, don't you think? Can't you just wait to come visit us and join us in all of our nerdy-glory? I like to think that we're all nerds at heart, I just like to show ours all over our house!

        Anyway, in non-nerdy news, Chris and I will be spending the weekend tackling our yard since spring summer has decided to come early in DC. Remember all of that work we did last year? Well, it looks the same now, but substitute1-foot high weeds instead of ivy. We're in for some fun!

        Monday, March 19, 2012

        Running for a Cause Complete!

        Well, we did it! We each ran the inaugural DC Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon this past Saturday, and we also raised the $1500 for our running cause, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation! Thank you to all of you who supported our cause and donated; You've helped us make this more than just a race!

        The race went great - the weather was perfect (70s and sunny), the bands along the course were good, the crowds were great, and the sites were even better! Like last year, the half marathon course went around some of the best sites in DC - the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Union Station, the National Mall, the White House, and the Octagon House - and some of the best neighborhoods - Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights, and H St. NE. Below is a map of the course to give you an idea of what we got to see along those 13.1 miles.

        While the race went great, it was even better to run for something other than ourselves. Not only did we raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, but we also made sure to support our troops on the day of the race by wearing shirts in memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.


        Chris wore a TSAF memorial t-shirt honoring the fallen 1/75 Army Rangers, including our friend, Jeremy Katzenberger, who I wrote about this summer. Will and I wore Wear Blue: Run to Remember t-shirts. Wear Blue's mission is to use its running community to create a living memorial to the service and sacrifice of the American Military. They run for "the Fallen, for the Fighting, and for the Families." I just happened to stumble across their website a few months ago and thought that it'd be a great community of runners to join and support. What was really touching was that at one point during the race another Wear Blue runner, a veteran, spotted me on the course on Saturday and our short conversation before he ran ahead, that little bit of camaraderie between the two of us, reminded me why I was running - I wasn't running for myself, but for others.

        Just so you can see, below is the back of both shirts, which are pretty cool. My apologies for my sweaty-ness, I had JUST finished running. . .

        runtoremember back

        We don't have any "action" shots of us running, besides what's on the Marathon's website (which aren't very pretty, at least for me!), but here are some photos of us reveling in our post-race glow, err, sweat!




        This last picture is Chris and I pointing out how I dominated my IT band. I was really nervous that my IT band flare-up would prevent me from finishing the race, but I did! (How I did might be another post...) I certainly didn't beat my personal best, which was my goal when I first started training, but I finished. And, I wasn't too much off my best time anyway, despite the bum leg! Whenever I felt a twinge of pain or had doubts about finishing, I remembered who I was honoring by running this race - the pain and hardships others have gone through - and then the pain I was feeling didn't bother me as much.

        I'm already planning my next half marathon, and this time, I'll make sure my body's healthy and I'll finally beat my personal best! In the meantime, on behalf of me, Chris, and Will, THANK YOU for helping us support our cause, and THANK YOU to our military men and women and their families for their ongoing sacrifices!

        Tuesday, March 13, 2012

        Winter Pinterest Challenge: More Map Love

        Last summer, two of my favorite blogs, Young House Love and Bower Power, started a Pinterest Challenge where they took inspiration from stuff they had "pinned" and actually made it for themselves. As Sherry from YHL aptly puts, "It’s a welcome slap of stop-pinning-and-start-doing." I completely and totally agree. I've probably only done a handful of the projects that I've pinned on my Pinterest boards, even though I keep pinning away pretending that one day my house will be filled with projects of Pinterest-inspiration. This time though, instead of just looking at everyone else's cool projects (and pinning those!), I decided that I was going to participate in the Pinterest Challenge too, and make some pins a reality! So, here it goes . . .

        As you might have guessed, I've been obsessing over map-related DIY projects. More specifically, some cork board travel maps . . .

        This first one by Life Blessons initially caught me eye because of it's simplicity, and I adored the "our adventures together" banners across it! And then, I fell in love with this second one by C.R.A.F.T. because of the bold blue ribbon and the black outlining of the states. I can't imagine the amount of patience it took to do that detail, my goodness!

        I've been contemplating doing my own version of this project for a couple of months, but couldn't really decide exactly what I wanted to do, that is, until I found a Cavallini U.S. map, similar to this one, in our attic a week ago!

        I know it came from Paper Source, but I honestly don't remember ever buying it. I want to say it was leftover from Chris' old college apartment and that we've just been lugging it around all of these years. I'm so glad that neither of us threw it away! I guess it isn't a bad thing to be a pack-rat after all (right, Dad?!) - our trash has become our treasure!

        So, this weekend while I was at Target I picked up some cork board. I had planned on just getting a regular framed cork board, but I saw a set of 4 square cork board pieces and decided I would glue them together to fit the map size instead. At a little over $7, compared to $15 for the framed board, I couldn't pass up this super easy, and cheaper, option.

        So, I started by gluing all of the pieces together with my trusty hot glue gun . . .


        And then trimmed off the excess cork board to fit the shape of the map . . .


        Next, I pulled out some old spray adhesive and rubber cement to glue the paper onto my cork board. Now, when I say "old," I mean old. I think the rubber cement dates back to my high school art class. Again, it's okay to be a pack-rat! Just for your information too, I rubber cemented the corners and edges of the map and then glued the rest of it down with the adhesive spray, and I really only did that because there wasn't enough of both to do the whole thing (it's finally time to get some new rubber cement!).

        Now, at this point I couldn't decide whether I wanted to keep the rectangular shape, or cut out the shape of America. Since I am the WORST at making decisions, I decided to keep it as is. I can always trim it later, but I can't add it back, you know?

        Finally, I hot glued some ribbon onto the back, tied it in a bow, and hung it up!



        Oh, and of course I added pins everywhere Chris and I have been together, which doesn't seem like that many now that I look at all of it! If you can tell, the black pins are places we've lived and the white pins are places we've visited.


        Maybe one day I'll add little flag markers about each place like C.R.A.F.T., and maybe one day I'll trim it to the shape of North America. But, in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this new map in my growing collection and I'm going to relish in a Pinterest project completed! (And, for the cost of the cork board, $7, at that!)

        Well, that's my first official Pinterest Challenge project, hope you liked it and hopefully I'll start to do more! Here's the links to the four Pinterest Challenge leading ladies' projects too: Katie's (Bower Power), Cassie's (Hi Sugarplum!), Erin's (The Great Indoors), and Sherry's (Young House Love). Now, I  have some travel plans to make to fill up this map a little more!

        Also, I tested out watermarking photos, what do you think??

        Thursday, March 1, 2012

        Bathroom Part 3, continued . . .

        When I finally revealed Part 3 of our bathroom projects, I mentioned how I was still on the fence about how to decorate the space. I love my color plan for the bathroom, but I know I need to add some artwork and accessories to tie in some of the seafoam and turquoise colors that are in our guest bedroom and hallway.

        So, the big question now is, how do you decorate a bathroom anyway?

        There is one main area that needs some pizazz - the space above the towel rack.Whatever I decide to put there will determine what I put on the cabinet, etc.



        After careful consideration over the last few weeks, I have decided on four different options. Well, four themes to be exact (I like themes):

        1. Travel theme
        Like I've mentioned before (here and here, oh, and here), Chris and I love to travel. And, because of that I have tons of photos from our travels, but as you can probably guess, they are all just stored on our computer and hardly any are displayed anywhere in our house.

        I thought it might be nice to "mod podge" a photo or two onto canvas and hang on that wall, kinda like this:

        We have some great photos from Greece, like this one, that I think would compliment the colors pretty well.


        2. Bathroom theme
        I know, I know, this one is super original. No one has ever decorated their bathroom with a bathroom theme before, right? Well, I saw this cute idea on, where else, Pinterest, and thought 1) it's super easy, and 2) it's super cute.

        All I have to do is get cheap letters from a craft store, some cute fabric or scrapbook paper, and mod podge it all together - voila! Plus, if in a few years (or months) I don't like it any more, I can always move them to another bathroom or our laundry area, or, pitch them since this would be a really cheap project.

        3. Beach theme
        Another incredibly original idea, right? Whoever thought of decorating a bathroom in a beach theme, huh? I think was patrolling Etsy for ideas when I came across these prints. Aren't they fabulous?!

        Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

        Source: via Kristin on Pinterest

        I thought they would look awesome in crisp white frames, or even in dark teal frames and white mats. Plus, they are obviously beach-themed, but they are fun, obviously vibrant, and a more youthful. I mean, who wouldn't want those bathing beauties smiling at them every morning?

        4. Presidents theme
        Now this is an original idea for bathroom decor, am I right? Presidents?!

        So, the background story is this: while our main floor is taking on a map-theme, our second-floor is gradually developing a Presidential-theme. It's only fitting for two extreme history nerds I tell ya. First, we have a small bookshelf outside of this guest bathroom that has quite the little Presidential library developing, including an insanely cool Lincoln bobble-head my sister got me for Christmas. Then, recently we put together a 1000-piece President puzzle that I am mod-podging to hang above said bookshelf. President-love overkill? I think not. Lastly, Chris' mom gave us some awesome b&w sketches of Presidents' homes that I plan on hanging in the guest room (more to come on that later). Since the guest room, hallway, and bathroom will all share the same color scheme, why not share a President's theme? We heart America.

        Picture this: President silhouettes, hanging in the bathroom. Kinda like this, but obviously with Presidents:

        I'm totally thinking of finding some awesome oval frames, spray-painting them a deep teal color, and popping in a silhouette of some of our fav Presidents. Can't you picture Washington or T.J.'s ribboned-ponytail silhouette'd and staring at you as you shower?? Awesome, right?! (Or, do you prefer the bathing beauties up there?) I definitely think this option would be the most fun, for us at least, and is kinda strange and unique, in a sophisticated way of course.

        So, what do you think? Which theme should I go with? And, how do you decorate a bathroom besides towels and soaps?

        PS -  What did designers do before Pinterest?!? Seriously.

        Oh, and PPS - When you embed an image from Pinterest, how do you get the caption credit to center too? I've tried entering the "text align: center;" code, but it doesn't seem to want to work for me - what am I doing wrong??
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