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!


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