Archive | February, 2011


28 Feb

A backwards account of my busy roadtrip weekend. It might be confusing to read backwards, but I’m doing something different today.

We made it back from DC last night after what seemed like an endless day of driving. The drive was gorgeous – we came home a different way and saw these amazing farms and old farmhouses – and the weather was (mostly) beautiful, but it just seemed to take forever. We hit rain a couple of hours away from home, nothing too serious but enough to make the drive tedious. Seeing all those farms really made us want to buy one and move up there, to fulfill my mom’s dream of always wanting to live in an old farmhouse and raise horses. Not that anyone in my family knows the first thing about raising horses, or living on a farm, for that matter. But the landscape was too pretty to not think about that.

The reason we came home a different way is that we stopped to check out this huge outlet mall, Potomac Mills, that’s a little outside the city. It was definitely worth the backtracking. We limited ourselves to two hours inside, when we could have spent an entire day walking around the huge building. We only hit up our favorite must-see stores: Banana Republic, H&M, Charlotte Russe, Off-Broadway Shoes, and the Polo store for my brother. My mom and I both got some really cute things, even though I’m technically not supposed to be shopping, being in the middle of a 30 for 30 challenge. But hey, when else do I get to shop at H&M? Once in like 5 years. So it doesn’t count. At least that’s how I’m explaining and rationalizing it to myself. We got lemonade and pretzels for the road, and even though they were just the normal Auntie Anne’s that you can find in practically any mall across the country, these were somehow the best pretzels we’d ever had. They were so buttery and salty – you could tell they were really fresh. I don’t know what made them so much better – it’s not like we were extremely hungry, which usually tends to make food taste amazing. Whatever it was, they were delicious and we were quite satisfied for the rest of the trip.

The actual interview on Saturday went well. The whole process was much the same as last year – the group discussions, the art-making, the writing prompt, the program overview, the individual interviews. It went smoothly, and it was something I was used to by now. It felt a little different, going through it again, because this time I knew it was for real. Not that the last time wasn’t for real – it was, of course – but this time around I’m actually planning on going to school in the fall, rather than still being under AmeriCorps contract. At the same time, it didn’t really feel real, because it’s just been at the back of my mind for such a long time. It’s hard to explain – it’s a complicated emotion.

After the interview, my mom picked me up and we came back to the hotel to change. Our plan was to head up to Georgetown to see if we might visit Georgetown Cupcake. My mom had found a little cupcake shop in Alexandria while I was interviewing, so we weren’t entirely without sweets. (She also stopped into Whole Foods to get a bottle of my favorite wine, Albarino!) When you get off the metro stop closest to the Georgetown campus, you’re actually in the middle of George Washington. It’s quite a few blocks to get up to Georgetown, and the crowds were insane on a Saturday afternoon. We found the cupcake store, but of course the line was outrageous. We weren’t about to wait in line that long just to run in and buy cupcakes. So we turned around and went back to some of the stores down M Street. Our mission was to find Anthropologie and H&M, which we did, within a few stores of each other. Surprisingly, I only bought a candle at Anthropologie. After debating the night before on how much to buy in Banana Republic, I saved some room in my wallet for Anthro, only to come out nearly empty-handed. My mom didn’t, though. She bought a wool-covered soap and a pretty, colorful scarf. It was her first-ever experience in an Anthro, and she loved it. I mean, who wouldn’t? We were also excited to go into H&M, after seeing commercials for months and not living anywhere near one. The one in Georgetown was a littly messy and picked-over, but we made up for it the next day. After our shopping trip, and pre-walking off our dinner, I pulled out my trusty phone to find somewhere for dinner. I randomly found this place called Papa Razzi on my Maps app, and was immediately drawn in by the name. It ended up being a providential find. They were, of course, very busy for a Saturday night, and were expecting many reservations. We happened to walk in, put our names down, and wait for about 20 minutes. We ended up sitting on the second floor, on the edge of the balcony so we could look down and see everything in the open kitchen. I’ve never seen a full restaurant kitchen that’s open like that, and it was really something to watch. It was like a coordinated dance – everyone was very busy and concentrating on their work, hardly talking to each other – but not once did they run into each other or light themselves on fire. It was really amazing to watch. We were completely amazed by the whole thing. And our food was wonderful. I ordered lobster ravioli with basil cream sauce, and my mom got mushroom tortelloni in the most delicious tomato sauce I’ve ever had. It was some kind of creamy tomato sauce, and it was divine. We had ordered two very different things with the intention of splitting them, but that didn’t happen. We both got little tastes of each other’s dinner, but that was it. For dessert, we ordered panna cotta, an eggless custard that tasted just like vanilla ice cream, covered in caramel and strawberries. Oh. My. Gosh. I cannot ever remember having such a great, non-chocolate dessert, ever. Ever. I’m looking up recipes for it right now. I highly recommend Papa Razzi if you’re ever in the area.

When we got to Alexandria, we checked into the hotel and put our stuff down, then almost immediately headed up to Pentagon City for dinner and shopping. We had originally decided we’d rather skip that in favor of Georgetown, but then discovered we had some extra time to add in another excursion. If you’ve never been there, Pentagon City is an underground mall with at least four floors, and lots of stores. I don’t think we made it up further than the second floor, since most of our favorite stores were that way. Ever since introducing her to Sephora in Chicago last year, my mom has been obsessed. Of course, we had to stop in there, no question. We both ended up getting some of the Glee nail polishes, which have some great colors. She got a little sample set, and I got one larger bottle. I also got a small bottle of perfume, Boyfriend by Kate Walsh. I’m pretty much ambivalent toward Kate, but I highly approve of her taste in perfume. Or, maybe, her “scents” of it. It’s this combination of musky and floral that just feels comfortable. The idea behind it was to create the scent of a boy left on a girl, that lingering mix of c0logne and perfume. It’s really different, and fabulous. I’m already obsessed with it.

My weekend purchases:

1. Nude shoes, Off-Broadway. I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of nude heels, because they elongate your legs and go with everything. This pair might just be perfect; that little scallop around the edge, the slight wedge, the rounded toe. Perfect.
2. Aloha Orchid candle, Anthropologie. I wish you could smell how amazing this candle is. When we walked into the store, these were all being burned and made the whole place smell amazing. I tracked this down and bought one.
3. Boyfriend by Kate Walsh perfume, Sephora. Oh my gosh. This has got to be the best perfume ever. I’m not even kidding. It’s the perfect blend of spices, musk, and florals. It’s masculine and feminine, strong but not overwhelming, teasing and lingering. I will smell like this forever.


1. Jacket, H&M. I’m completely digging the nautical trend for spring.
2. Shirt, H&M. A bold pattern, which is a little different for me. I’m making a conscious effort to include more patterns in my life.
3. Dress, Banana Republic. I have never been opposed to orange (except that specific shade of UT orange), but realized that I own nothing in that color. It’s quite a hot color this season, making it much easier to find at the moment. Say hello to my new, gorgeous orange dress.
4. Dress, H&M. I normally woudn’t be drawn to something in quite so neutral a color, but who can resist all those ruffled flowers? I think it will be a nice change from my usual colors. I imagine it will look fabulous with brown.
5. Shirt, Banana Republic. Yellow is my new favorite color.
6. Shirt, Charlotte Russe. Is anything more adorable than a little shirt with cute boots on it? I think not.
7. Shirt, Banana Republic. I got this on my first day of shopping, when debating on whether to buy more or wait til our Anthro excursion. I didn’t end up buying any clothes at Anthro, but I’m quite satisfied with this shirt.
8. Shirt, H&M. What’s this? TWO new orange things for my closet? Don’t mind if I do!


This is What my Heart Looks Like:

25 Feb

It’s time for a road trip! I’m headed up to DC for a grad school interview, hopefully the last one ever. Although the landscape doesn’t look anything like this on my trip, it’s always fun and a little anxiety-inducing to drive around curvy mountain roads. Thank goodness I don’t get car sick!

Castles Made of Sand

24 Feb

An awesome quote for a dreary Thursday:

“Do not worry if you have built you castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” -Henry David Thoreau

Stuff I Want Wednesday

23 Feb

Awesome pets edition. I love animals – I always have. My whole life, we had a red labrador, who was the best dog ever. I know, you’re probably thinking that your dog is the best dog ever, but it’s not true. Mine was. She died a couple of years ago, at the age of 15. That just leaves me with my turtle, who’s now about 11 and so fiesty. I’m itching for another dog, as well as some of these other pets…

Leopard gecko. Our gecko at the Museum has had me wanting one of these for a while. They’re so adorable. If you get one with a good temperament, they can be really sweet, too.

Hedgehog. I mean really. Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? If I ever get one, it’s going to be named Rigby, as in Eleanor.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I’m not usually a huge fan of smaller dogs, but I’ve seen these a lot recently on dog shows and things like that. I think they’re adorable, and would make great companions. At this point in my life, I think it would be a good dog to have because it doesn’t require as much space as others. And just look at that little face!

Chameleon. What’s cooler than an animal that can change color? I can’t think of anything. I’ve heard they’re rather sensitive and high-maintenance pets. I’ll probably never have one, but that doesn’t make me want one any less.

French bulldog. I can’t think of anything more French-looking. Also another small dog I never saw myself liking. But they’re just so full of personality!

Parrot. Probably the only animal that can trump the chameleon as far as color. Although these are gorgeous and unique animals, I wouldn’t ever actually own one. They’re so intelligent (where else could you potentially find a talking pet?) that it would be unfair to cage them up and not pay them adequate attention. They are beautiful, though.

Weimaraner. These are, hands down, one of the most beautiful dogs. There’s something kind of mysterious about them, almost like they shouldn’t be that color. And their eyes – they’re just captivating. I think they’re beautiful. I love labs, of course, but these are a close second.

Ten Things Tuesday – February 22

22 Feb

Ten reasons why it’s better to be a kid than an adult:

1. Naps. When I was little, my mom would sometimes miss me in the house. It would get eerily quiet – the time when most kids found themselves doing something to get into trouble. My mom would go looking for me. Did she find me covered in lipstick, having unrolled all the toilet paper, and stuck my toys in the toilet? Nope. She found me in bed, asleep. Voluntarily napping. I have to say, I miss taking naps. It’s not that I don’t have the time, but for some reason whenever I try to nap during the day I wake up feeling kind of sick to my stomach, eyes hurting, head achy. Definitely not refreshed, as I was hoping to be. I know many people, my age and older, who are perfectly capable of taking midday naps as adults. I guess I got out all my good napping when I was little. Sadly, it is no more.

2. Imagination. Some kids never grow out of that sense of wonderment about the world. But too often, we’re jaded by TV and things we see in the media. We forget what it was like to be a kid and enjoy fairy tales and fantasy. We worry too much about the things at hand, and forget to see the world through the eyes of a child. Or we forget. Either way, it’s sad to see imagination declining.

3. Eating dessert without feeling guilty. Kids have no concept of calories. Some would argue that this is exactly the problem that’s lead to widespread childhood obesity. But it’s bigger than that, I think. Parents are primarily responsible for the health and nutrition of their children – it’s up to them to provide a healthy, balanced diet. Kids don’t really have a concept of this, and for the most part are not in control of what they have for dinner. That’s why eating dessert is so special for kids – it’s a treat and it’s delicious. And it comes guilt-free.

4. Spending the night with friends. There are few things better in childhood than spending Friday night over at a friend’s house. It’s different, it’s exotic, it’s special. I sometimes sleep over at friend’s houses now, but it’s just not as magical as it was in elementary school.

5. Ignorance is bliss. Although I’m a firm believer in education, there’s something about leaving the mysteries of the world unanswered that makes it magical and content for kids. Maybe not ignorance in an educational sense – more of a loss of innocence. Once you pass that age where you start to realize the way the world works, it’s just never the same. This also applies to dreaming about the future and what it will be like when you’re older. There’s something exciting about endless possibilities. When you’re a kid, you think you can do anything, be anything, go anywhere. It becomes a little more limited when you’re an adult. Sure, you actually are old enough to do the things you dreamed about in childhood, but you’re old enough to realize they might not come true. When you’re young, the world still seems endless – nothing is out of reach.

6. It’s easy to be forgiving. Kids just want to be friends with everyone and be around people and everyone get along. Is that really so much to ask? Not in the eyes of a child. As an adult, it gets more complicated than that. Kids usually aren’t shy about talking to new people – they’ll tell you the most random stories, just to have someone to talk to. How many adults do you know who do that?

7. Having very little responsibility. You have to go to school. You sometimes have homework, which usually doesn’t take up too much time. You might have chores around the house, but they’re nothing like the responsibility faced by an adult. I’d much rather have to dust or clean my room than worry about dishes and balancing my checkbook. Or having to deal with anything remotely related to car maintenance or taxes.

8. $10 goes a long way. Even taking into account inflation, a $10 or $20 bill in the hands of a child is like a small fortune. Maybe it’s because I had a cheap quarters-only tooth fairy, but those bills just seem like they’ll buy anything.

9. Staying up late. You go to bed earlier than your parents, and you wonder what you’re missing at the witching hour of 9 or 10 pm. Usually, it’s nothing great, but to you, it’s a completely foreign world. So on the rare occasion you get to stay up late, you relish in the priviledge. It’s a whole different world – it’s exciting, it’s new, it’s special.

10. Things are just black and white. There’s no confusing gray area. Things are either one way or the other. Although sometimes I do enjoy the gray area – because it’s a lot more realistic and interesting – sometimes I wish for the simplicity of knowing this or that.

Stay tuned for next’s week’s continuation…

Kaleidoscope Eyes

21 Feb

Oh my gosh, look at this amazing installation! I found this post this morning on Design*Sponge and just had to re-post. This is just so beautiful!


21 Feb

Kind of a weekend recap and a preview of my coming week…

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’ve had some pretty intense back pain for the last several days. It started on Friday morning, when I woke up from a long day of doing BioFuels programs and carrying heavy boxes. My stamina is way down, due to lack of scheduled outreaches and going to the gym, so I’m not used to being on my feet that much and hauling around materials. It mostly starts in the morning, when I’m slow and stiff from sleeping, and gradually gets better throughout the day. Yesterday it had mostly disappeared, only coming back when I had been sitting still for a long time (and as I spent a lot of time doing school-related computer things yesterday, was common) and then moved suddenly. This morning, though, it’s pretty bad. It’s just now starting to get a little better – I can move around much better in the last 10 minutes. Maybe it’s because I’m not thinking about it so much. I hope there’s not anything seriously wrong with me, because I have a pretty busy schedule this week.

I have another day of BioFuels scheduled for tomorrow, so I have to load up my car with all that junk this afternoon. And then teach all day tomorrow, hopefully with a better back. I might need some serious pain meds for this…although I don’t know where I would get any, legally or illegally…

I went to see I am Number Four with Amanda on Friday night. It was pretty good. I think most people would describe it as your typical Michael Bay blowing-stuff-up-and-leaving-some-potholes kind of movie, but I enjoyed it. Really, I don’t go to the movies all that often anymore (not sure why, but it probably has something to do with Netflix…), but I’d been seeing previews for this one all over the place and was really intrigued. I had no idea it was based on a book, but now I kind of want to read it. I do like science-fiction type stories, although I don’t always understand them. It’s fun to think of different things like that, though, like life on other planets. I wouldn’t say I’m a believer necessarily, but there’s no way to know for sure, is there?

Speaking of science-fiction, I bought The Hunger Games this weekend, too. I haven’t started it yet – gotta get through This Side of Paradise first – but I’ve been hearing great things from lots of people about it. It’s one of those things where you’re completely unaware of something, and then once you know about it, it’s everywhere. I hope it lives up to the recommendations.

My mom spent all of last week and the weekend in bed. She’s still got the flu, although she seems to be getting over it now. I think one reason why it took her so long to get over it is because she’s been dehydrated. In the midst of sleeping all day and not really having an appetite, she’s forgotten to drink anything. This just prolonged her fever and chills. She’s back at work today, hopefully for good. She only went to school on Thursday last week, and came straight home to bed. I hope she’s over it now, both for our trip and because it’s terribly quiet around our house.

I’m excited to send of a box of goodies to Mallory, down in the jungles of Belize. It’s a little late for a Christmas present, like I had originally intended. I’ve had this on my to-do list for months, but just now gotten around to it. No matter, though. I know she’ll be excited to get it, regardless of when it gets there. This is the first time I’ve ever sent a package to Central America – or even overseas before. I’m going to have to make a serious effort to save some money to go visit her. It sounds like she’s having an amazing time in the Peace Corps. Not gonna lie – I’m a little jealous of that! I know she’s doing great things, though.

This Friday I’m going up to Alexandria again for another grad school interview at George Washington. I didn’t have to reapply this year – everything just carried over from last year, thank goodness! – but I do have to go back for another interview. My mom and I are driving up on Friday for my Saturday interview day. We’re already planning a couple of little side trips. She really wants to visit Georgetown Cupcake, of DC Cupcakes fame. I have to admit, I’m kind of excited about that. She’s also seen commercials for H&M the past few months, and really wants to visit one up there. We don’t get much of that around here…anyway, I’m excited for it. I need another road trip in my life. I feel like I’m not that prepared for it, though, because I’ve been so distracted with work lately. I need to brush up on my portfolios and my reading so I don’t look like a fool!

Wouldn’t you know, I’ve put off sending out a CD of my slides to GW until the absolute last minute. I’ve just gotten distracted with work, and doing stuff with friends, and wasting time with unimportant things. So now, less than a week until the interview, I have to rush off a CD of slides to them. And today is President’s Day, so the post office is closed. Of course. And tomorrow I have an all-day program at a school, which won’t allow me time to send it off. I’m going to have to recruit my dad or my grandmother to do it for me first thing in the morning. Must remember to be more responsible when it comes to things with deadlines…

So, wish me luck this week – that my back gets better (I’m turning into such an old lady!), that I manage to mail off my slides in time, that my package makes it to Belize OK, that we have a safe trip to DC and that my interview goes well. I really hope they want me, because I want them!