Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This is it!

The apartment was cleaned out on Saturday and I'm now officially back to being an Ohio resident! What a whirlwind weekend it was, and really into this week as well. Friday night, my wonderful mom, dad, sister, and my youngest brother all drive from Ohio to DC to help pack me up and shove everything in a 14 ft. UHAUL truck Saturday morning. I'm soooooo thankful for them and Sam because without their help, I'd still be in DC loading boxes! Ha! We arrived back to Ohio late Saturday night, then got up Sunday and it was an afternoon of unloading 3/4 my belongings into a storage garage and the remainder of everything at my grandparent's house, where I will be staying for the next 3 weeks until my apartment is ready. Oh yes, we get to do this all over again the beginning of February!

Saturday was such a bittersweet day for me.... ecstatic to be going home and embarking on new adventures, but very sad to leave behind my great friends who became my pseudo family for the past year. One of my neighbors brought blueberry muffins Saturday morning complete with a stick of butter for them since she knew my refrigerator would be empty, while another neighbor made hot cocoa and coffee and cranberry muffins, and still another neighbor helped load the truck...all this on a chilly Saturday morning! Every time I turned around, someone else was there to say goodbye and offer to help. With all the bad people in this world that we hear about on the news every day, there sure are a lot of genuinely good people.

So, I'm back in Ohio now getting settled into my new job and enjoying life surrounded by family and friends....the only person missing is Sam but he will move in 2 weekends :) I'm holding back on exploring any place that looks interesting until Sam list is growing long of things to do, but I'll give you a hint of what's to come ~ cement corn and a floor made of trampolines. Check out my new blog: if you want to keep following my adventures :)

Adios DC!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Drowning in Boxes!

Operation "Move Out" is officially underway! I started packing boxes on the weekend and just went to Home Depot last night to pick up a few more. How does one person acquire so much stuff in just 16 months?!? I'll tell you how....I have the BEST family and friends who have showered me with cards, postcards, and care packages ever since I moved! I'm such a sentimental mush that I have kept everything (no joke, at least 98%) of what people have sent because I love reading them over again throughout the years. More than anything, the things people write reflect the feelings I had at that time, and those feelings tend to get washed over as time goes on. Sounds funny, but I'm sure some of you know exactly what I'm talking about....everyone has a time in their life when the world becomes so overwhelming and we think there's just no way we will get through it, but we do. Years later, we think back and tend to say that it wasn't so bad and we can't imagine what all the fuss was about. Well, I want to remember that moment for exactly what it was, and having letters and cards that people wrote to me really helps me do that; their words of encouragement or even the sheer volume of correspondences during that particular time validate that time in my life. Even now, I'm thinking about my time in DC and all that comes to mind is what an exciting adventure this has been and I've really loved living here ~ I forget that 1 month into it I was ready to pack up and move back, and that 5 months into it I REALLY was ready to pack up! I tend to gloss over the hard parts, which may be okay for some people to do, but for me, it's the hard part of any situation that keeps me encouraged for harder situations to come in life. And let's face it, as we get stronger, life gets harder!

So, I have 2 photo boxes packed to the brim with cards and letters from my loved ones, 1 large box of sentimental stuff from the kids at the Hogar (I never go anywhere without their smiling faces and beautiful artwork masterpieces!), a couple new pieces of furniture acquired in DC, 1 very large wooden painting from Eastern Market, a wooden art easel with a stool and lots of paints and canvases to go with it, some new kitchen appliances, a washer and dryer....and everything I originally moved here with! Ha! Yeah, this is why dad had to upgrade from a UHaul trailer (perfectly fine 16 months ago) to a 14 foot UHaul truck! :-)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Library of Congress

I'm ashamed to say it took me a year and a half to visit the Library of Congress, but today, that's exactly what I did. The last thing to check off my DC list before I head to the Midwest next week. It was truly breathtaking walking amid marble staircases and pillars, colorful mosaic paintings, ornately painted ceilings, and artifacts that shaped our nation's history. There's an entire section that holds some of the actual books from Thomas Jefferson's personal library! Unfortunately, the best parts of the Library were in "no photography" zones, so I couldn't take a picture of Jefferson's books nor the rotunda where congressional research takes place, but I still could marvel and snap away photos of the decor. I definitely recommend seeing the Library of Congress for anyone traveling to DC. What a nice little escape into quietness from the noisy city and tourist-crowded monuments outside!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Is it really 2011???

It's hard to believe it's 2011 already....seems like 2010 just started, but what a ride it has been! I was going to do a recap of my life in 2010, but since I've been in DC the entire time, it's already chronicled on my blog :) Ha! So, I think I'll use this entry to talk about 2011 and what I hope to accomplish. For starters, I only have 2 weeks left living in DC. Yep, I'm headed back to the good ol' midwest! I decided it's time to end my run in DC and move back closer to family. A year and a half in DC is just the right amount of time ~ enough to explore and enjoy the excitement of a new place but not so long that I take for granted living amid the grand monuments and historical significance of it. So, in just 2 weeks, my time in DC will end and I'll begin a new chapter of my life in Ohio ~ new job, new apartment, and new adventures. Even though I've lived there 25 years, I realized living outside the state that there are still so many things in Ohio I have yet to see; things that people who don't live in Ohio think of when they hear Ohio ~ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Football Hall of Fame, Wright Brothers museum, Put n' Bay on Lake Erie, President Warren Harding memorial, Underground Railroad museum, the Geauga County Maple Festival, etc. Have I been to any of those??? Nope! Plenty to explore in Ohio and the surrounding states.

Aside from moving back to Ohio, I have a few other goals for 2011. For starters, I want to play more golf than what I did in 2010...which means, I want to graduate from the driving range and hit an actual course! :-) Maybe since I'll be living closer to dad and grandpa that will actually happen. I also want to travel someplace I've never been....Napa Valley, CA is on my list, along with Boston, MA, so perhaps I'll go to one of those places.

Anyways, happy new years to everyone and may 2011 hold everything you want it to!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gingerbread House take #2

Sam and I already made one gingerbread house this season and of course used a box kit from the store. Naturally. I don't recall ever having made a gingerbread house from scratch (making one from graham crackers does NOT count) but my neighbor was appalled when she learned we had used a kit and immediately instituted "Gingerbread House From Scratch" night for the ladies in my apartment building :) I was in charge of bringing candy for decoration, so I went to the store and bought candy that I knew tasted good and I would like to eat....I probably should have taken a different approach and bought candy that would be practical for decorating with! Ha! It was all good though cause we stacked some gumdrops for trees, used the marshmallows for snow, and a couple other people brought candy as well.

The gingerbread itself was delicious but it took a little longer than we thought for it to properly cool and dry enough to be sturdy for the house, so the decorating part of the party didn't get underway until 10pm or so and by the houses were complete (what originally started as wanting to make a house from scratch for each of us turned into a total of 2 houses to collectively decorate!), one of the guys in my building must have felt sorry for us (or he wanted some candy!) and brought us all a pizza and pop to finish off the night. We even made the royal icing from scratch - egg whites and confectioners sugar. Now, according to the Food Network chefs, when you mix sugar and raw eggs together, some sort of chemical reaction takes place and the eggs become "pasteurized" (so to speak) and they are safe for, tell me, why then are we warned NOT to eat raw cookie dough with eggs in it due to salmonella?? Cookie dough has sugar in it. Maybe the other ingredients nullify the pasteurizing process??? I'm not convinced royal icing is safe to eat but apparently it is, and I've been munching on the house and no problems. So, do I go back to eating raw cookie dough? That is the predicament this made-from-scratch gingerbread house has left me with.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Tree Time Again!

The Capitol Building tree

Botanical Garden
National Christmas Tree

The White House

It's hard to believe it's Christmas once again in DC! This year, DC has gone "green" and used LED lights on the Christmas least I think that's why the lights are so florescent. They are definitely not just normal Christmas lights. The Capitol tree once again looks beautiful. It's from Wyoming this year. Cute ornaments made out of Wyoming license plates, CD's strung together, painted snowmen, paper ornaments, tin, and many more. If there wasn't a guard standing next to the tree, I would make my own ornament and go hang it on it!

And once again, the "National Christmas tree" near the White house is uglier than ever. *sigh*. I told people who were standing around that tree to go look at the Capitol tree cause it was prettier....I even told them where to park so they would get a close spot :-) The national tree is permanently in that location but I was hoping that sometime between last year and this year, a park ranger or whoever would have shaped it up a little and cut off those protruding bottom branches that make the tree look like an igloo. Also the lights just look terrible being strung vertically top to bottom instead of horizontal around the tree. This is an instance where more isn't always better. Less lights and better positioning would do a world of good for this tree! I will say the White House looked beautiful and the outside of the Botanical Garden building was very elegantly decorated. Now my goal is to go inside the Botanical Garden and see what Christmas display is up this year. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

The awesome ice slides with carpet at the bottom, thankfully, to slow you down!!

How did I spend my weekend?? Looking at 2 million pounds of sculpted ice in a venue that was only 9 degrees! Can you say BRRRRR?!?!?! But it was incredible and well worth my frozen nose afterwards. The Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland brought in ice sculptors from China to carve 2 million pounds of ice into scenes from Dr. Seuss's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" - plus a nativity scene at the end of the event - into one production called "ICE." It was a very cool set up because when you walked in, as you waited in line to enter ICE, they had a whole museum collection of sketches, magazine/book covers, poems, etc. that belong to the Seuss estate and are on loan for this specific event. There are also videos playing that show how ICE was created and the origin of ice sculpting. The sculptors from China spent 1 month prior to the opening of ICE working around the clock in 12 hour shifts to sculpt everything. As you can see from the pictures, these are not your ordinary ice swan sculptures! The scenes are very intricate with lots of colors and details and they are least life-size if not larger for some of the pieces. The ice slide was awesome and we could go down it as many times as we wanted :) There were people standing at the top not only telling you when to go but also giving you a push so you really went flying! Ha!

So, the down side to ICE is that it was 9 degrees in there, which is to be expected because after all it's ICE we're dealing with and it has to stay cold so we don't all end up swimming, but if you wanted to go down the slide, you had to wear the blue parka coat they provided to each guest. Just before entering the exhibit, everyone is handed a fluffy, blue parka to wear to keep warm. Sounds like a nice thing, huh?? Maybe to some people, but my mind immediately went to lice and bed bugs as these jackets are transferred from one person to another after you exit. I asked the coat attendant how they disinfect for lice and he said they spray the coats with Lysol....ummm really??? Hate to break it to them but Lysol is not a lice killer even though it sounds the same. As for bed bugs, he said he didn't know. *Sigh*. I was now faced with the dilemma of do I wear the coat, stay warm, and enjoy the slide or do I not wear the coat, not stay warm, and not enjoy the slide all for the chance that I might get lice and bed bugs?? Well.....the slide won out and I donned the coat and pretended for a couple hours I wasn't a paranoid germaphobe. Two days later, I am lice and bed bug free, so I guess it was a good choice :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The wonderful world of computers

I stared blankly at Sam's computer monitor the first time this screen appeared. I just lost all the work I had been doing, all the search pages I had open on the internet, all the information I had just inputted, and now the computer is mocking me?! Really?! This is the screen that appears when the computer crashes?! Click on the picture above to make it bigger so you can see what it says.....if you still can't read the message, it says, "Ah, Snap! Something went wrong..." The slang, teenage-ish saying "ah snap" is now the computer crash page. It's so ridiculous it's almost humorous, and in fact, every time this happens I laugh and say "ah snap" aloud, which is I'm sure exactly what the computer-screen-maker-people want to happen. Instead of users getting mad and calling an IT helpline irate, "Ah, Snap..." is so absurd that it makes you laugh. Gotta love brilliant computer geeks :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The tradition continues

It's December once again which means it's time to break out the gingerbread house kit and get to work! Every year for as long as I can remember, I've made a gingerbread house ~ never from scratch, though. Kits work just fine for me because let's be honest, decorating it is the best part. Who cares whether or not you actually made the sides and roof. Sam was in charge of decorating the Santa and Christmas tree cookies for the front and I took on the rest.....I tend to get a little possessive of my gingerbread house :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Our Historic Adventure

Majority of the trail was rocks!

Sam's hiking stick was more like a tree! I told him I didn't think it would fit in the car to take on our next hike :)

Today, Sam and I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail and it was awesome! The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail form the "triple crown" of long distance hiking in the United States, so it was pretty cool to walk even a little ways on such a famous route. This was something I wanted to do since moving to DC because I knew it wasn't too far from the city where we could catch part of it, so this is one more thing to cross off my DC list :)

We passed a variety of people along the way - a boy scout troop with lots of backpacks, a father and young daughter also with a lot of camping gear, and several day-hikers like us. I guess I didn't give it too much thought beforehand and figured this hike would be like other ones we have taken, but it definitely was a lot more difficult and strenuous! The path was mainly rocks of varying sizes, so we really had to be careful not to twist an ankle or slip on the leaves, and it was continually up and down steep hills. A very small section was flat land. We didn't see any wildlife even though black bears are supposedly plentiful....the lack of bears was fine by me but Sam wanted to see one! Ha! If anyone reading this is ever near the Appalachian Trail, I suggest making time for even just a little hike because it's a really cool feeling to be part of something this monumental.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

For Your Shopping Entertainment

Yet again I am amused by the things I find living in DC. I'm not sure if these things are unique to DC or if they are common in all big cities and it's just that I've never lived in such a metropolis, but either way, I thought you might enjoy seeing my latest fascination with grocery stores ~ a cart escalator! The grocery store sort of near my house but not one that I frequent has a parking garage underground (I swear I don't even know anymore what it's like to park for free in a parking lot!) and shoppers have to take an escalator or the elevator into the actual store. I parked in the garage, rode the escalator up, and didn't really give too much thought as to what was in between the up and down escalator ~ figured it was just empty space or where an escalator used to be. I completely missed the cart signs at the top because they were facing the opposite direction. But meanwhile as I'm shopping, I'm thinking to myself that I better not buy more groceries than I can carry because I'm terrified of elevators. So, I finish my shopping, drive my cart with bagged groceries to the escalator where I begin to unload them into my arms, when all of a sudden I see the lady in front of me push her cart into the "Cart-O-Lator" and away it goes while she rides on the normal escalator next to it!! Brilliant!! I'm so excited to try this out that I load my 3 bags of groceries back into my cart just so I can use it, too. Oh the things that exist when you live in a city :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Park Discovery

Once again the weather was gorgeous in DC - I'm really liking Fall here!! - so Sam and I decided to pull out the hiking gear (well, let's be honest, our "gear" consists of jeans, jackets, and tennis shoes) and find a new place to explore. We ended up at Rock Creek Park in DC, which is twice the size of Central Park in NYC! It's a beautiful area for biking, hiking picnicking, and even horseback riding - there's an equestrian center in the park but I think it's only for people to board their own horses, not to rent to the public. We stumbled upon a great path that wound up and down hills in the woods alongside a creek and provided a stunning array of colorful leaves. My pictures really don't do it justice, but you can see from a couple of them the reds and yellows that are still in season. Most of the leaves were crunching beneath our feet, but the ones still on the trees were breathtaking, especially the yellow tree. I stood under the branches and stared up at the contrast of a clear blue sky and bright yellow leaves.....magnificent! There were also quite a few neat bridges along the way. I must say the architecture in DC is really cool ~ the buildings downtown, the historic row houses and Brownstones, and the bridges everywhere. Two thumbs up to the architects who designed everything....two giant thumbs DOWN for the engineers who constructed the city in a weird spoke of roads! Ha!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Y'all come on and meet the Queen of Butter!

One of the many delicious exhibitors giving away samples!

The closest I got to the celebs! Ha!

I snuck this picture of Paula and her husband Michael on the large screen television at the show. Tickets to her show were $97-500, so Sam and I decided to stick to sneaking pics :)

That's right, I'm talking about Paula Deen but no, I didn't actually get to meet her....just her cardboard cutout, which I wanted to buy but it wasn't for sale. If you don't know who Paula is, I suggest you A.) step away from the computer, go turn on the Food Network channel, and just watch it until Paula's show comes on, or B.) check out her website Paula is my favorite TV personality and yesterday I was on cloud 9 as I walked around the Metropolitan Cooking Show at the DC convention center. It was THE place to be with Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray, and Paula Deen being the featured chefs. Wow! All three definite A-listers in the world of cooking....I mean really, if Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, and Matthew McConaughey were all in the same room as Bobby, Rachel, and Paula, I'd stalk the chefs for their autographs first! The cooking show had over 300 exhibitors giving away samples of baked goods, sauces, jellies, candy, coffee, etc. Sam had it right when he said it's trick-or-treat for adults!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walk Now for Autism Speaks

I had the awesome privilege last weekend of walking on the national mall to raise awareness and funds for Autism Speaks. It's the largest autism science and advocacy organization that funds research, increases awareness of the growing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, and advocates for all those affected by autism. Needless to say, it's a great organization and Sam and I walked on behalf of the many children I know with autism. It was a beautiful morning for a 3 mile walk! A little chilly but the sun was shining and with tens of thousands of people all in one location, it warmed up very quickly! Ha! For anyone out there who has always wanted to be part of something bigger than yourself, check out Autism Speaks and get involved. 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism and 1 in 70 boys are diagnosed. Time to change those stats!