Thursday, June 28, 2012

Washington Wednesday: Gravelly Point

Ok, so this "Washington Wednesday" is a day late and promises to be short . . . A few weeks ago, Chris and I decided to celebrate our 3-year anniversary with a "date day" on one Saturday. See, I will not have a free weekend until September because of my summer teaching schedule so we decided to use one of my last weekends free to celebrate our anniversary, enjoy the nice weather, and do something new in DC. To us, that meant a picnic out at Gravelly Point.

Gravelly Point is a park in Arlington, Virginia along the Potomac River, just north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. It's a pretty big park, with enough space for sports games, family get-togethers, etc. And, not only is the park picturesquely located along the river across from DC, but it's also an awesome place to view airplanes taking-off and landing at the airport. Plus, the Mount Vernon Trail goes right through it! Sounds pretty nice, right?

Unfortunately, in the almost 4 years that we've lived here, we've never stopped to actually enjoy Gravelly Point. We literally lived less than 3 miles from it for 2 years, we would run through it on the trail, and Chris would even drive by it every day on his way to and from work, but we never actually stopped to hang out there. That is, until our anniversary picnic a few weeks ago where we bought some cheese, crackers, fruit, and a bottle of wine (not sure if that's legal??...), parked ourselves under a tree, and relaxed while watching the planes . . . 

(for better plane pictures, check out our friend, Shea, at It's a Guy Thing who is a MUCH better photographer and has a cute little boy to boot!)

It also helps that we finished the day off with some good food and Boulevard beer at Rustico, a great restaurant in Alexandria. (For those of you that are unaware - and it's a-ok if you were - Boulevard beer is a local KC beer that just started being served at select restaurants here in DC. To say that Chris was excited for this beer is an understatement . . .)

Even though it wasn't some lavish anniversary dinner or night out on the town, it perfectly suited us and was a great and relaxing day. Chris, can we go back and do it again?

Friday, June 15, 2012


  1. Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
  2. Too sacred to be uttered.
 As you've probably heard, I've been going through a training program for my teaching job this summer. A couple of weeks ago the word "ineffable" was brought up during a training discussion and, while I don't remember the context of the discussion, the word immediately resonated with me . . .

"Too great to be expressed in words."

. . . see, yesterday marked one year since our friend Jeremy was killed in action in Afghanistan. For the past year I've really struggled in expressing my thoughts and feelings on his sacrifice. While I certainly did not know Jeremy as well as Chris did (they'd known each other since high school) and Jeremy was not the first loss I've ever dealt with, his death has truly had a profound impact on me, one that I haven't been able to explain, and may not ever be able to. Not only have my thoughts wandered through the questions of life and death, but I've also pondered the true sacrifice of our military and their families, the direction of my own life, my views on religion, what it means to live life to its fullest, and, most importantly, love.

I always admired Jeremy and Colleen's love for one another. From the first moment I met Colleen, I knew they had something truly truly special. I didn't even have to meet Jeremy, who was deployed at the time, to see their love for one another; I saw it in the way Colleen talked about him, the perpetual smile she had on her face. Now that Jeremy is gone, I still see their love through their amazing little boy and Colleen's words of immense wisdom and inspiration in her updates on life now without him. Love like that is a remarkable thing and one to which we should all hold tightly if we are lucky enough to have it. Love like that is something we can all learn from; I know I have.

Love is ineffable. Jeremy's sacrifice is ineffable. The gratitude I feel towards him, his entire family, and our entire military for providing me with the freedom to live and love, is ineffable.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Office Edition

So, I don't know if I've ever shown you our office? Nope, I just checked all of my old posts and while I've mentioned the office (in regards to the water leak we discovered after the hurricane last fall), I've never shown you the office. Probably Mostly because it was embarrassing. I am a neat freak and the office was anything but neat. It was more like a graveyard for crap (pardon my language). Our office was so bad that I actually would avoid using it. I would even use our archaic laptop to do work instead of our nice desktop, that I purchased, because I didn't want to go in the office.

Well, as I mentioned last week, I've been training for my summer teaching position and a majority of the training up until last week had been at home. The training required me to be at a computer watching videos, taking quizzes, participating in conference calls, reading materials, etc. a.k.a., I was actually going to have to use our office . . . which meant I was going to have to straighten that sucker up. (I'm one of those people that cannot work in an untidy room. I will seriously clean before I study/work.)

So, I spent a good two days clearing out the room, scrubbing it down, and putting things back in place. If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw this photo a few weeks back:

This was taken mid-clean, after I had taken everything out of the office and piled it all in the hallway. It was a dusty mess of books and random other stuff, like the cat drinking fountain box and a burgundy-colored crocodile-print briefcase . . . again, random stuff.

But, now it's time for the big reveal . . . and don't worry, I'm sharing the "before" and "after" shots so you can see how horrendous it looked before and how extreme of a makeover/cleaning job I did!

As you can see, not only did I remove the ladder and get a chair, but I organized our filing and the contents of all those boxes and bags.

Quick note on the chair. I have wanted an Ikea Poang chair for a few years now, but I could never muster up the courage to spend $100+ on the one I wanted. Now, if you've never sat in one, you need to find one and plunk your butt down because you'll understand why I've wanted one - they are coooooommfy. A few weeks ago though, I just happened to be searching craigslist for random stuff (like a retro metal bar cart) and realized that I should search for a Poang chair . . . A couple of days later I nabbed this beauty for $30! If you were to buy this chair straight from Ikea, it'd be about $150. Bar-gain!! And, it's in great condition! Anyway, back to our office makeover . . .

Then I had to tackle the bookshelves . . .

. . . oh, the books! Now they are finally all back in order on the shelves (by "type," author, chronology, etc.), the shelves are dusted, and the random piles of stuff have been contained (notice I didn't say removed!)!

Lastly, I conquered our desk, which pretty much meant organizing the piles of stuff on it. Easy stuff compared to the bookshelves.

Oh, and if you notice something different in the "after" shot, it's probably our diplomas that I finally hung up (because what office is complete without the diplomas?) and the teal-painted herringbone cork boards I made (thank you, Pinterest)! Here's a closer view of the cork boards if you're curious . . .

 They were super easy to make. I just bought four cork tiles from Target (the same ones I bought for my cork travel map that cost about $9), measured and taped off the herringbone design with painter's tape, took the tiles outside, and gave them a good three-ish coats of spray paint. I think this was one of the best projects I've done in a while - cheap, easy, and completely customizable. My mom mentioned that these tiles might be good for the side of a stainless refrigerator to hang invites or notes, that way you don't have to hang stuff on the front and potentially scratch the surface. Genius! Plus, you can do whatever design and color you want.

Also, if you noticed and like my uber-cute desktop background with the fun chevron pattern in the first photo, you should check out Atomicdust's blog (my sister, Danielle, works for them). Every month their designers take a break from client work to craft some seriously awesome desktops to download for FREE for your computer, iPad, and smartphones. LOVE them!

Anyway, that's our extreme makeover: office edition! It didn't require any painting or big furniture purchases, just some TLC, and a few days off work! Maybe someday we'll add a rug or a footstool for my Poang chair, but for now it's back to work in my clean and functional office . . .

Thursday, June 7, 2012

3 Years!

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet (as much as I can at least), but I just want to give a shout out to my wonderful husband, Chris! Yesterday was our 3 year anniversary, and while we didn't do anything "special," he still happened to remind me of just how lucky I am to have nabbed him.

See, for the last four days I've been training for my new job and by yesterday evening I was absolutely exhausted. We went to dinner after my training day was over and I know that I was the worst date ever. Not only was I a hot mess with a wrinkled dress, stretched out sweater, blistered feet, and generally just sweaty, but I'm sure I was also the worst conversationalist. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if I just mumbled how tired I was over and over again. But, Chris was his usual amazing-self anyway. He actually talked to me about his work day (usually it's just me blabbering away), he carried my heavy bag of books, and then made me homemade brownies and watched So You Think You Can Dance with me when we got home. Definitely not the most glamorous anniversary, and not even remotely close to an exciting day, but Chris didn't care and neither did I.

I actually loved the ordinary-ness of our anniversary because it's really all of the little things that Chris does that makes me feel special and loved, not fancy dinners or presents (although those are still nice sometimes!). Yesterday, Chris took care of me, his zombified-wife, just like he always does and reminded me yet again of what an amazing guy I've decided to spend the rest of my life with!

Now don't worry, we're going to do some fun stuff this weekend to celebrate our anniversary, but no matter what we do this weekend, even if we get rained out of our plans and spend the weekend on the couch, it'll be perfect enough for me!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday!

On this day 6 years ago, our "kids" were born! I know that I've written about them before, a lot of the times they just sneak into my posts (and they are definitely a focal point to my Instagram use if you follow me), but let me formally introduce you to our kids, aka, our cats, Luna (left) and Teddy (right)!

 They are six years old (obvi), brother and sister, spoiled rotten, cuddly, annoying, and, well, true members of our little family. Last year on their birthday, I wrote about their actual "birth" day and their momma, Yuki, so this year I wanted to write something different about these two crazy cats in honor of this momentous day in their little lives. As many of you pet owners out there know, pets truly have a personality of their own, and Teddy and Luna are certainly not lacking when it comes to the personality-department! So, in honor of their 6th birthday, here's 6 little tidbits about our "kids" . . .

1. They are chatty. Their momma, Yuki, was some kind of Siamese mix and while neither Teddy nor Luna resemble anything close to a Siamese, they definitely got the chatty-gene passed down to them. Of course, when they're "talking" to us we oftentimes talk right back. Yes, we are those weird cat people.

2. Teddy is big. Not only is he a fat cat at a whopping 18 lbs (don't worry, we have him on a diet!), but he's also long and tall. Taller than a lot of small dogs. As long as Chris' legs when he stretches out. He's a BIG boy. And because he's a BIG boy, he's slow and really easy to take pictures of :)

3. Luna is particular. In people-terms, we sometimes call that OCD. Luna is very particular about when and how she cuddles, when and how you pet her, and don't even think about picking her up. She will literally "yell" at you if you do something that displeases her, like touch her. And don't even try to take pictures of her!

4. Teddy's the ultimate lounger. Teddy would never just simply lay on something and take a cat nap, he lounges. Whether it's a pile of clothes, some books, or the bottom ledge of our coffee table, he's always leaning or literally resting his head on something. Sometimes, I'm secretly jealous of how comfortable he looks and wonder if I too should lay on a pile of books or dirty clothes . . .

5. Luna has recently become a little circus freak. That girl's got some leaping action going on. Instead of running down our steps to get into the basement, she'll just jump from the highest step that she can. One day, she jumped from the shelf in my closet, through the 6 inch gap in my closet doors, and landed on our bed, easily 4 feet away. Crazy. Also, she's crazy good at playing fetch, but since she's pretty particular, we only play fetch on her terms.

6. Usually you hear that cats are independent; ours are not. Teddy and Luna have serious attachment issues. Luna frequently follows me from room to room (talking to me along the way), while Teddy makes the most awful yowling noises when he's in a room by himself and is "looking" for you (we literally have to call to him so that he can "find" us). They're kinda pathetic in that way, I know, but gosh do we love them!

So, there's six tidbits about our crazy 6-year-old kids. I can't believe we've had these two crazy kids cats in our lives for six years already, but then again, I can't really imagine our lives without them. Happy Birthday, Teddy and Luna!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

THANK YOU Hand-Me-Down Dresser Gods

Back in April, I pleaded with the hand-me-down dresser gods for, well, a hand-me-down dresser! One that would be inexpensive and I could pretty-up and to put in our guest room. I definitely could've gone to Ikea or Target and bought a semi-inexpensive dresser for the room, but I wanted to get something that had a little more character, was even cheaper, and one I wouldn't feel bad about painting (especially if it didn't turn out well).

Well, the hand-me-down god of Craigslist answered my pleas and I scored this 9-drawer beauty for a cool $100.

For some reason I only took one "before" shot. With my phone...
Ok, so the $100 was a little more than I wanted to spend, but the dresser was perfect for what I was looking for and, honestly, I was already getting impatient with my search.

Of course I didn't want to keep the dresser as-is. While I'm sure it looked really nice back in the day, it definitely needed some TLC for my taste in the form of a fresh coat of paint and some new, updated (and matching) pulls. Now, I'm not going to give you a how-to on how to paint furniture because 1) this is the first real piece of furniture I've painted so I'm definitely no guru by any means, and 2) there are other great how-to's online by much more experienced DIYers like Young House Love and Centsational Girl that I would definitely recommend consulting over me (I pretty much followed their steps anyway)! But, I will tell you what I did. I painted the dresser Behr's Powdered Snow and added some 4-inch oil-rubbed bronze (even though they look black) cup pull handles. And, let me tell you, 4-inch pulls are hard to find! I ended up having to order ours online because there was a very limited selection of 4-inch pulls at our local hardware stores (I guess 4-inch pulls are a rarity?), and I definitely did not want to drill new holes and fill in the old ones (that's waaaay too much work for me!).

Anyway, instead of a how-to on painting furniture, I figured I'd show you some pictures of how this little hand-me-down dresser really helped (begin to) complete our guest bedroom. Here's a view of the room opposite the dresser . . .

. . . and here's the dresser!

Now, to "complete, complete" the room all I have to do is find a large mirror to go over the dresser, accessorize the space a little better, and the guest room will be pretty much done! I know it's been a long process to read about since we painted the chevrons on the wall waaaaay back in August, but thank you for being patient readers (and some of you, visitors) and know that it's almost done! (and we can move on to do projects and write about other areas of our house! Yay!)
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