Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Words

"I believe someday we will, and it will fit into place like the last piece of a puzzle, and when it does we will understand that there is a reason why terrible things happen in the world -- we will understand the tragedies that come to us...The day will come -- maybe sooner than we think -- when it will be made clear, and simplistic though it sounds, I believe the answer itself will be so simple, so right, so true...for with understanding we shall be out of pain, out of darkness into light. It takes a great leap of faith to believe this, but I do, and in some measure it has brought me peace."
-Gloria Vanderbilt, "A Mother's Story"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deck the Halls

Kelly's Korner Christmas Tour of Homes

I've been in a very festive mood this year and am really pleased with my apartment decor. Even though it looks like a little bit like Christmas exploded. I don't care. It makes me happy.

This is the wreath on our front door. I found the form at
my thrift store for $1, added some small ornaments from Target,
and then made a bow with the same ribbon I used on my tree.
Table on the entry way with a charger-turned-wall hanging,
advent calendar, roomie's beaded tree, and a catch-all tray.
A few of my Christmas hand towels, courtesy of Mom.
Decorated bookshelves. A bit busy, but happy. Ornaments in jars,
snowmen display, and a bunch of other random bits.
Garland over hall leading to bedrooms.
There's another garland leading into living room.
My nativities. The first one I've had for several years now.
The second one I got this year from Target, they were
ornaments that I cut the hooks off of.
New artwork I painted last week. Normally my
D.C. map print hangs here. I was tired of looking at it 

and randomly decided one day last week I just needed to
make something to replace it. I love this quote and it never
fails to make me smile.

Ornaments in jars and some garland on the radiator and
my table centerpiece. I know the centerpiece is kind of a
hot mess of branches, I'm just not great at doing that.
My tree! It just makes me the most happy out of
everything. I added the vertical ribbon this year since I'm
hopeless at garland, and I think it really ties it together.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Traditions

One of the blogs I read is writing about Christmas traditions so I thought I'd do the same.

I LOVE LOVE my family's Christmas traditions. We have so many and they make me happy just thinking about them. We don't do all of them all the time, and things have changed and will continue to change as we add new family members, but they're still amazing.

Leading up to Christmas:
  • Get 2 new ornaments: A miscellaneous one and then an angel for Melissa, a snowman for me, and a Santa for Joey. (I don't remember the last time I only got 2 ornaments.)
  • Eat cookies: Peanut butter blossoms, bow ties, fudge, icebox cookies, chess pies, pizelles, etc. (Even though I don't like the latter three.)
  • Decorate: Tons and tons of family ornaments; my mom's mom's musical church, painted Santas, and ceramic tree that I loved putting the little light bulbs in; Christmas books; and the snow globes and square pillows with faces that we don't put out anymore.

Christmas Eve:
  • Have a nice sit-down meal, usually steak and shrimp.
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  • Open pajamas.
  • Light candles around the house.
  • When we still believed in Santa, we'd write the note, leave cookies, and also cheese for Santa Mouse. (Apparently Santa Mouse is not very common with others I talk to.)
  • Stay up all night with Joey and peak in the living room from the stairs. One day I'll need to write a whole blog post about this. I can't remember what age we started, but we would stay up and peek into the living room from the top of the stairs, and then slowly and quietly creep down the stairs so we could see what was brought. But we NEVER would actually leave the stairs or enter the living room, for some reason that was just unacceptable to us.

Christmas Day:
  • Cinnamon rolls for breakfast
  • Open presents one at a time, in age order, youngest to oldest. I always HATED that Joey always got to go first. Eventually we would switch it up so either the oldest would start, or I would start, or we'd alternate. But no matter who went first, it was always one person opening at a time, which I think is great so you can focus on that person.
  • Homemade rolls and wedding soup!
  • Open stockings last, which have been hidden. (In talking to many people over the years, apparently the fact that we open ours last, and that they're hidden, isn't common. But, not surprisingly, I love it.)

That's all I can think of for now. And just like that, I have a feeling the next time I listen to "I'll Be Home For Christmas," I'll be crying.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wednesday Words

"I promised myself that I would maintain momentum.
'Maintain momentum' was the imperative that echoed all the way downtown."
"I assumed, incorrectly, that it had something to do with movement, traveling, checking in and out of hotels, going to and from the airport."
"It also seemed clear that maintaining momentum had been at a certain cost. This cost had always been predictable but I only that night began to put it into words. One phrase that came to mind that night was 'pushing yourself.' Another was 'beyond endurance.'"

-Joan Didion, "Play it as it Lays"

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Full Disclosure

  • I worked from home on Friday because I didn't feel good. Luckily it hasn't progressed beyond a sore throat and sporadic stuffiness, but I sound like Kathleen Turner.
  • I went out with Brandie and had too much fun, thus preventing me from doing anything I was supposed to do on Saturday.
  • I've bought myself things at Banana Republic and Paper Source instead of buying Christmas gifts.
  • Making Christmas gifts and decorations = crazy messy apartment. Especially the dining room table. (See below.)
  • Instead of buying peppermints for my advent calendar, I'm using leftover candy corn. (Also see below.)

  • I have so much I want to do and see this season but all I am doing instead is watching "Homeland." Which is unbelievably good while also being unbelievably stressful and disconcerting.
  • I've always been an "I need four seasons" kind of lady, but these last two days of 60 degree weather is making me realize I really am more of an "I need one week in each of the four seasons that is that season, but the rest can all in the sixties" kind of lady.
  • For the first time in years I can listen to "I'll Be Home For Christmas" without crying and I don't know what that means. (Though I'm hoping it means it's just not making me cry yet.)
  • I need this tea towel, yesterday:

  • I thought I was making progress on my last things to blog about list, but now I'm not so sure:
    • My jury duty experience
    • Capitol tour with mom and her sisters
    • Wii night with the ladies
    • Pumpkin carving party
    • Hurricane Sandy
    • Work Halloween party
    • Various happenings: New office, award, Lauren's birthday, etc.
    • Old theatre
    • Things that are and aren't worth the money
    • Thoughts on energy and healthy eating
    • Thoughts on anxiety
    • Thanksgiving
    • The time I used a saw
    • Night out with Brandie
    • Pinterest party
    • Christmas decorations 
  • This wasn't the original intent of this post and I can't remember what it was.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Happy birthday, Mom!

You're the greatest and I'll see you in a few weeks!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Frozen toes, popcorn in hair, and cider on coat: Meeting John and Sherry of Young House Love

As all should know by now, my favorite blog is Young House Love, written by husband and wife super DIY duo John and Sherry.

I've been reading their blog for several years and sometimes forget that I don't actually know them. (If you read a lot of blogs, you'll understand. If you don't read a lot, you'll find this strange. It's not.) When shopping, I constantly say, "Sherry would love this!" Or, when talking to friends with kids, will say something like, "Clara has that same toy." Thankfully, I have many friends that read the blog too and understand. (Everyone else just thinks I have friends named John, Sherry, Clara, and Burger.)

They released a book at the beginning of the month with a plethora of DIY home ideas. To say it's fantastic is an under statement. The book is all-new content, with ideas they managed to think of, write about, and put together, all while raising their daughter and dog and blogging about 10 times a week. Just reading their stuff exhausts and then energizes me. Last month, when they announced a book tour stop in D.C., I had to have been one of the first to RSVP.

The night finally came last night. The signing started at 6:30 and Lauren and I were in line at 6:11. It was held at the Flor store in Georgetown, which neither of us had been to and both of us were expecting to be a lot bigger space, one where we'd be warm and snug indoors instead of cold and frigid outdoors. However, it was totally worth the cold and the wait. We started across from the store, but had to go down a block, over a bit, then up a block before making it to the actual store.

Though it was a long line, it was nice to see just how many fans they have. Flor had arranged for a food truck to serve free cookies and hot cider, both of which were delicious and helped warm us up a bit. 

While we waited we submitted raffle tickets to win this J&S-designed Flor beauty.

As we got in sight of the door, they also had warm popcorn, and once inside, wine, too. As we thawed out, got more excited to meet them, and juggled books and bags, I realized I had cider on my coat and yet another piece of popcorn in my hair. A perfect blog idol-meeting look. (But it did produce Lauren's idea for the post title.)

Now, as I've mentioned before, I get super nervous when meeting or even thinking about meeting famous people. I'm just so awkward and am always worried about blurting out random things. (Especially after wine, remember Drunk Bonnie?) Luckily it was just a small glass of wine and I had 2 hours to think about what I would say. And two minutes to clean up cider and clean out popcorn. (My feet were too cold to change out of my nerdy converses and into cute shoes. I hope they didn't notice.)

As we got closer we could see them interacting with people and hear them talking. (Especially Sherry, she sounds just like she does in their videos with a voice that carries.) They were both just so sweet and genuine, exactly as they portray themselves online. If someone had a camera but didn't ask for a picture, they'd say "You need a picture!" They thanked people for waiting so long in the cold and commiserated with those house hunting or house fixing. They just seemed so grateful and happy for each person that was there, even though they'd been at it for 2 hours and apparently would keep going for about 2 hours more.

Because I've been reading their blog longer, Lauren said I had to start the talking. Which basically amounted to "hi," "this is for mom who's renovating her kitchen," "this is for me," and "you're really good at this" or something along those lines.

I didn't blurt out anything creepy like "The 4th step on your porch stairs looks loose." or "I don't like kids but I just love Clara." (I don't actually know if the step is loose I just feel like I know their house so much that I could have said something way too specific. I do, however, love Clara despite my general wariness of kids and Mom said I should have really said that.) They were just very sweet and friendly and seemed like any two people you'd meet on the street whose house floor plan you know.

It was a fun night and I'm so glad that we were able to meet them. Now if only Mom and Gloria, the other two big YHL fans in my life, could have been there. Perhaps for the next book?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Words

"I'm prone to wild flights of self-doubt, but I also have a deep well of courage in my own convictions. I feel horribly uncomfortable on my first day in a foreign city, but I love to travel. I was shy as a child, but have outgrown the worst of it."
-Susan Cain, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stranger in my own kitchen

My family has lived in the same house for 23 years. Though there have been many improvements, the important stuff always stayed the same.

Then, I left for college. And within a month the parents had built a pantry. Which was and still is awesome. Not awesome, however, was that it meant changing the location of things that had been in the same place for 15 years. Tupperware in bottom cabinet to right of sink? Nope. Bread in middle drawer beside refrigerator? Nope. Just when I'd finally have it figured out where the chips were, I'd go back to school, and then the next time I came home, they'd be moved again. I'm convinced the parents waited for me to leave and then immediately switched everything, thus slowly eroding my sanity.

Ten years since the pantry was built, I finally sort of had a handle on things. Then they went and renovated the kitchen. Which is even more awesome than the pantry was. Not awesome, however, is that nothing is where it should be. The silverware drawer, which for 23 years has been above the trashcan, is now one drawer over. And the trashcan is now one cabinet over. It's like the entire world has shifted over one space! Except for the spaces where now a lazy Susan sits, which just really throws my sanity for a loop. Literally. (Though I do love a good lazy Susan. See: Yours, Mine, and Ours. The original.)

And let's not even talk about the fact that there are three refrigerators and a freezer. Sample conversation:
Mom: Get me the ground beef out of the refrigerator.
Me: It's not here.
Mom: The one in the garage.
Me: Which one?
Mom: Poppy's.
Me: It's not here.
Mom: Because you're looking in the freezer.*

I have no doubt that when I return for Christmas they will have mixed things up as much as possible just for fun so that I'll have no choice but to make my tea in a cereal bowl and eat my grits with a measuring spoon.

However, the kitchen really is stunning and all done by Daddy -- with Mom's supervision and assistance -- so I guess it's ok that I'll never find anything ever again.

*I frequently confuse the freezer and refrigerator. That's not their fault; I get distracted easily.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

"You're right where you should be. In Capital City." (Matt Wertz)

True story: I met Lauren last June at a reading and signing by fellow North Carolinian YA author Sarah Dessen. (She took the picture of me and Sarah.) We were two of the only 20 somethings in the room and happened to sit beside each other. We're both from NC, both do crafts, both cheer for UNC, both love Audrey, and have many other similarities. Last summer was not a good time for me and, well, without getting all cheesy, I'm just very grateful that Lauren was brought into my life.

I've been in kind of a funk the past few weeks, with the change of seasons and being ready for a trip home, so I haven't been doing as much lately. But several months ago Lauren invited me to see Matt Wertz perform at The Hamilton, and Thursday that's just what I did.

The Hamilton is a newish venue downtown located in the former three-story Borders space. It's a huge place with a bar, restaurant, and performance space. I've been to a few concerts and Lauren's been to tons, and we both agreed it was the nicest venue we've been in. 

We had dinner at Pret, then drinks and dessert at the venue, and then heard some lovely songs by two great performers: Steve Moakler and Matt Wertz.

I had never heard of Moakler and had limited knowledge of Wertz, but both were excellent singers and performers and I'll be seeking their music out more. I was especially excited that the one song of Wertz that I have -- appropriately called "Carolina" -- was the second song he played.

I've been to several concerts with friends in the past year for artists I have little to no knowledge of. It's been nice to discover new music and new things to do with my music-loving friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What I Did Today

Don't judge me too harshly. I'm only in D.C. for about 3 weeks after Thanksgiving and have lots of Christmas cheer to cram in. So because I had some downtime today, I decided to put up the tree.

And also because I made these and wanted to hang them:

And also because I didn't want my remodeled advent calendar to be lonely. Four years after I bought the tacky-colored-super-on-clearance Target calendar, I finally spray painted and decorated it so it's more me. (Before, during, after)

Of course my punishment for decorating so early is that I have to stare at, but not use, the calendar for another two weeks. Which I probably deserve.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mighty Life List: Completions

76. Donate my hair.

Completed in December 2008 when I donated 10 inches of my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

85. Wear a tutu.

Completed in October 2008 when I went as a ladybug for my first work Halloween party. The tutu is still in my closet and I'm dying to wear it again.

109. Play beer pong.

Completed in April 2012 as one of the stops at Shana's cape party bar crawl.

110. Lounge on a piano.

Completed in August 2012 at my cousin's bridal luncheon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Words

"This is who you are.
It's not where you went to school.
It's who you are."
-Stuart Scott, UNC alum

Carolinians Take the Capitol

Last month, my mom and her four sisters played tourists in D.C. It was the sisters chance to explore and hang out together so I insinuated myself just twice: to host a dinner at my apartment and to tour the Capitol.

I took no photos of dinner, but I made stuffed shells, Caesar salad, and garlic bread. Mom brought an amazing caramel apple cake and some wine. Despite the shells being a bit cold due to a bit of a detour that brought them to my place later than expected, I'll call the dinner a success.

The next afternoon I took a few hours off work and met them at the Capitol Visitor's Center. Despite living a mere mile from the Capitol for 2 years, I never made it to the new Center, and my last Capitol tour was from Karey circa 2006, before I was even a Washingtonian.

The tour was given by a very knowledgeable and polite child – seriously, he was only 18 – and was well worth the time. I think we all greatly enjoyed the stories and history of everything, as well as a little hypothetical verbal smack down talk against a couple politicians.

A visit with some fellow Carolinians.

Rubbing this spot, where they wanted Washington to be buried, for luck.

The rotunda took my breath away again.

This is one of my favorite paintings that I repeatedly studied in school and even wrote a short essay on once. It never fails to make me smile.

On my last visit my favorite spot was the Old Supreme Court Chamber. We got to see it again and it definitely is still great.

However, my new favorite spot was getting to see the Old Senate Chamber. Why is that, you ask? Because this is where Senator Preston Brooks of South Carolina (of course) beat Senator Charles
Sumner of Massachusetts WITH A CANE in the 1800s. And who says politics is boring?

In verifying the names on Wikipedia I found that Brooks died at a mere 37 years old. Probably serves him right. It took Sumner 3 years to recover but he did return to service and lived to be 63. So he wins!

Just for fun, I took a picture of the floor where it very well could have happened and a picture of the ceiling, which would have been poor Sumner's view during the literal smack down. History nerd forever!

We all enjoyed the demonstration of the whispering spot.

As well as the staircase where presidents wait to enter the chamber.

And, not to be shallow, but there were some pretty shiny chandeliers, too.

Thank you, America.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Practically Perfect Badass

It's only two weeks after the day, but I put it on the to-blog list, so by golly here it is, my work Halloween costume.

At the suggestion of my friend, Sasha, and this inspiration, I set out to re-create Mary Poppins.

Now, lest ye think this costume flies right in the face of Operation: Badass, let me point out some reasons Ms. Poppins is quite the badass herself:
  • She doesn't take any crap from Mr. Banks and his sexist ways.
  • She does what she wants with the kids.
  • Jumping into chalk paintings and dancing with penguins=acid trip
  • Spoonful of sugar=some sort of downer drug
  • Mrs. Banks is a suffragette and you know Mary was, too.
  • She's a free spirit who doesn't let herself get too attached, once the wind changes, she's gone.
  • Burt is clearly in love with her but she just keeps him as her friend. While using him for acid.
  • She is a master of the exasperated look and eye roll.

Now that that's out of the way, this is me channeling the ultimate badass:

And her accessories. (The hat caused a lot of hot glue gun grief and I hate that you can't see it in the above picture. I'm still waiting for coworkers to post their pictures.)

I think it's easy to put together a costume if you want to spend a little cash. But I set out to do this one for $20 or less, just because I love a good shopping challenge and really don't like Halloween. And I was able to accomplish this. (More or less.)

Shirt: $3, thrift store (This was so perfect and I hope to figure out a less uptight way to wear it.)
Skirt: $2.50, thrift store
Hat: $6, Target/homemade
Daisies and berries: $4, AC Moore/homemade
Bow tie and belt: $4, AC Moore/homemade
Bag, shoes, tights: Already owned (Bag was a tote bag of Mom's that I re-constructed.)
Umbrella: $13, Target (Mom paid so it doesn't count in total.)
Total: $19.50

Not too shabby. Plus, I was one of the costume winners at work so I'll get a nice lunch out of the deal, too.

Now that I've channeled both Mary/Julie and Holly/Audrey, what 60s era leading lady shall I do next year?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fancy Goods

Harper's Ferry, WV

This is so going to be the name of, and advertisement for, my first illegal endeavor. I'm leaning toward high-class escort service because, come on, that's a great name. But I'm also considering import/export or money laundering. It's good to have options.

*Note: While I don't condone any of these endeavors, that is especially true of the escort service. Yuck. However, I would like to point out I would just be running the service, not participating in it. That should totally make the parents proud.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Worth It

I constantly find myself mentally defending some of my purchases. Like why pay ~$8 for a bottle of Essie nail polish when a bottle of Wet 'n Wild is $1? It's because I know that Essie's brush is the perfect size for my narrow nails, the consistency is fine, and their range of vibrant colors is un-matched

A few weeks ago, Gloria directed me to this blog post about small things worth paying for. Then she wrote about the things she will and won't pay for. Now I'm doing the same. I've been working on it for awhile because it's more thought provoking than I expected. And this could very well become a series as I inevitably think of more as soon as I push "publish."

Life's too short to not pay for:
  • Essie nail polish
  • Theatre tickets
  • Bikini waxes
  • Victoria's Secret bras
  • Eyebrow threading
  • Heinz ketchup
  • Re-heeling good shoes
  • Goody ponytail holders
  • Books
  • Spray starch

Life's too long to pay for:
  • Any piece of jewelry that I could make myself
  • Bottles of wine that cost more than $12
  • Magazines without a subscription
  • Name-brand cheese
  • 99% of food at Whole Foods
  • Non-drugstore brand mascara
  • Expensive tights or pantyhose
  • Hardcover books
  • Full-priced DVDs
  • Hot tea at any Starbucks or coffee shop

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Pumpkin Carving Party

On the Saturday before Halloween, I hosted a Pumpkin Carving Party at my apartment. (Even though only 3 of my friends were able to attend, I'm still calling it a party. And 3 is better than none!)

I just love to throw a themed party, to decorate and cook for it. Especially when it's something as simple as pumpkins. Or the Olympics or Royal Wedding. Or, as will happen at some point in the future, an "I heart Obama" party and a wedding viewing party for Leslie and Ben.

My decorations were simple and cheap: pennant banners, printed signs, flags for straws and toothpicks, and dollar plates and napkins from Target.

I provided bourbon slush, caramel apples, pumpkin chocolate spice muffins, and cookies. Everyone else brought an appetizer, some drinks, and a pumpkin.

For the pumpkins I had carving utensils, templates, and stickers. I also had some pom pom fuzzy creature things that were on sale at AC Moore that we didn't end up making, and some temporary tattoos, which we all were way too excited about.

I didn't originally intend on people dressing up but, after several requests, that's what happened. Brandie was a tourist, Sasha was Lana Del Rey, I was a black cat (who couldn't stop laughing) and Shana was a woopie cushion.

After some drinking, eating, and chatting, we took over the floor and dug into our pumpkins. Sasha was by far the best at cleaning and efficiently cutting her pumpkin. So were Brandie and Shana, though Brandie did get her hand stuck and Shana hated all the yuckiness. No picture of me but I did carve one, too. (Not very well, but it was still lots of fun.)

And the end results, from left to right, Sasha, me, Brandie, Shana

It was fun to just hang out and get in touch with the kid side of Halloween again. But with alcoholic beverages. A win win!


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