A chronicle of my attempts to live a classy life as a single girl in the Nation's Capital

Friday, April 27, 2012

"Hit the lights!"

I always say this to my kids. Especially after we've watched a movie.  It's dark.  Hit the lights!!  Today I got made fun of for it and I wasn't sure why until I saw this song on Vevo (while I was maybe listing to Nicki Minaj)

Yeah... Thanks Selena

Things I wished for as a kid

I was a big daydreamer, it comes with being an introvert.  And today when I see things that remind me of my silly girl fantasies, I can't help but get excited.  And think "what if..." no matter how ridiculous.  There is a moral to this post, stick with it.

1. I wanted to be queen of the roller rink.

OK 80s/90s kids, get with me on this.  You had a birthday at the local roller rink.  You held your best friend's hand during "couples skate" because you were and awkward 8 year old and had no boy friends (separate words intentional there).  Or maybe that's just me...  I remember my mom had us all wear matching caps to keep track of us.  With a splattered paint pattern.  Neon paint.  It was the early 90s, shut up.  Pictures exist and if I had access to them, I would share.  Until then, I will share this rocking video with you:

2. I also wanted to be queen of the talent show (I had all kinds of grand dreams)

Every year, my school held a talent show (shout out to Oak Hill Elementary!) and I don't even remember what kids did.  I'm sure there was singing, magic tricks, "comedy" and dancing.  But I always had this dream of doing my own routine.  I never did.  But what I wanted to do was based on my favorite Christmas movie (well, tied favorite--All I Want For Christmas is also a fav). I couldn't find video of the actual routine, but if you've seen the movie it's the Mandy number.  Here's a screenshot...

3.  I wanted a Power Wheel.

I just had to google "cars for kids" because I couldn't remember what they were called.  But Power Wheels were like the holy grail of toys for me.  My friend.. Brittany... Michelle... I don't remember, had one and I was so envious.  Clearly, considering how many details I remember, this has had a lasting effect in me.... not! (Sorry, 90s kid coming through there.)

I remember this commercial.  As an adult, I'm a little freaked out by the line "Come on Flo, let's really go!"  Hopefully I'm just not hearing that right.

4. I was an "artiste"

Yeah, I drew people with 12 fingers.  Look at Picasso.

This is "Girl with Pillow"  He seems to have under-compensated the amount of fingers.  I was over.  Together we'd make a great team. 
To this day I still love to do crafts. I have lots of great ideas, I just don't always know how to execute them.  Well, honestly it's that I don't have the confidence to.  I took an art class last summer and it turns out that I can draw.  Who knew?

So here's the moral of this story, the one thing I never dreamed of was my wedding.  And now that I have to plan one, I have NO IDEA where to start.  So if you aren't one of those girls who plans her wedding out without even having a boyfriend... BECOME ONE.  If you plan on getting married ever, those early plans will help.  Right now, I'm completely clueless.   If you're one who has already married and made it through, I ask you now... HELP!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Big news!

I'm engaged!!

Thomas proposed during our trip to Jamaica while we were at a private, candlelit dinner on the beach.  It was a wonderful night!  Of course I was so overwhelmed and giddy, I don't remember much of the meal after the appetizer.

The view from our table

After desert (and after I accidentally put out 2 of the 3 candles on the table) 

Of course I have also been obsessed with taking pictures of the ring which was exactly what I always wanted (yes, before Kate made it popular again.)

They're low quality phone pics, but whatever.

I was supposed to be eating dinner when I snapped this one. 
And some hasty photos of the side and under of the ring...

On the underside are our initials.  I love this detail!  

So now comes wedding planning... everyone keeps mentioning it.  I have no idea where to even begin or how to fund the thing.  If I disappear for a few days, it's because I've cracked under the pressure and have decided to elope.

As promised...

I was in Jamaica on Spring break last week--limited access to the internet and no computer.  But as I promised before, here is a finished picture of the window project.

At day:

At Night:

The pictures come out a little weird because the mirror is, well, a mirror.  It looks awesome in person and is a very unique and functional addition to the bathroom.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It was 1998..

  • Many of my students were just being born... (chew on that) 
  • I was just starting high school and started crushing on a guy (that would last all high school) who is now married (yeah, I just said "crushing")
  • MTV played lots of music videos (and TRL still existed)
  •  I got up at 5:00 every morning to wash my hair in the bathroom sink and then blow dry it (I can't shower at night, my hair is too fine.  And I was still on a "shower at night" schedule then) 
  • And then I ate a breakfast of Lipton Cup a Soup (Don't ask why) while watching MTV.  This video always brings me back to those mornings:

I can taste the noodle soup in a teacup...  Anyone else get nostalgic listening to this song?  Not that I really understood it then.  I do now.

But here's the thing.  I forget that 2000 was more than a decade ago. That movies from 1997 now look miserably old.  I am shocked that someone born in the 90s can legally drink.  My students don't remember 9/11...

It's really funny how you feel when you get "older" and, being a teacher, I am more attune to it than many. But the funny thing is,  it doesn't bother me in the slightest.  I find it curious and amusing and I kind of love the feeling that I am finally get old enough to feel and act the way I always have any way.

But what brought this to mind was Train.  They also had a popular song in 1998--"Drops of Jupiter"--that I also watched in the early AM.  They were young right?

They were in my memory.

Then they started coming out with new music again.  And I loved it.  But I recently watched the video for "Drive By" and loved it, but was shocked by the aging of the singers.  And it's not that they look ancient; it's just that I caught myself thinking "she's too young for him."

Maybe it's just what I call "the Gatsby effect" or maybe time is a wrecker.  Either way, I felt older watching this video.

And I kinda really liked it.

What makes you nostalgic?  Are you afraid of aging?

Two weeks of house guests....

And as a result, I've accomplished absolutely nothing. Not to mention, I promptly got a cold probably brought on by stress.

I loved seeing my family and friends and will have them stay over many more times.  But from an introvert's point of view... two weeks in a row is just too much.  I am really looking forward to this weekend of going to Lowes (which is fast becoming my new favorite store), doing house things and hanging out with my friends Beth and Luke.

I'm also glad to have my office back--which is where I blog--since it is also the "guest room."  I am happy to report that the set up works really well considering the space constraints.

But on to the actual topic of this post--before all the guests and sickness I was really productive one weekend.  Here's what I did:

1. Turned a vintage window into a faux mercury glass window.

The problem was our bathroom window.  The previous owners left behind some lovely curtains for us: 
In addition to the generic Pottery Barn floral embroidery, they really gave you a sense of privacy. 

I had an idea after reading a post on another blog about creating faux mercury glass.  I thought: what if I did it to a window and then hung it in front of this window?  Not only would we still get light, but it would look really cool and give us more privacy. 

The project was really easy and I love the way it came out.  I don't have a finished picture yet as I need to go to Lowes to buy cup hooks, but it is currently leaning in the windowsill and I will add a picture soon of the completed project.  

It was actually really easy to do, here are the steps: 

1. Assemble the supplies
You'll need a vintage window, a soft cloth or paper towels, painters tape, a spray bottle filled with 1/2 water and 1/2 white vinegar and Looking Glass paint. 
This stuff is AMAZING!  It turns glass into a mirror.  You spray it on the reverse side and voila!  Mirror.  It is really thin so you have to do many coats.  Also a tip: this can be bought in the craft store but is it in the spray paint aisle?  No... It's a few aisles down with hobby paint and such.  Probably on the bottom shelf.  They don't want you to have it. 

2. Make sure you are working on the reverse side, tape off the edges (or not. I realized that no one is going to see it.) Clean and dry the mirror and then start applying several thin coats, waiting a minute or two between each. 
This is about 2 coats, half dry.  It does this cool cloudy thing as it dries.  When the cloudy parts are gone, you're ready for another coat.  I think I ended up doing about 6-8
3. Ruin everything you just did. And love it. 
I didn't take pictures of this part.  But here's what you do: 
  1. Wait about 10 minutes for everything to dry well 
  2. spray the diluted vinegar mixture onto the paint gently so it forms beads
  3. Wait again for about 30 seconds to a minute 
  4. wet your cloth with more vinegar solution and gently rub. This will take the paint off.  The harder you rub, the bigger the area of no paint will be.  Vary the amount of paint you take off.
  5. Spray one more time with a very fine mist.  Then (after waiting) rub very gently so you have tiny little holes too (it adds dimension) 
  6. Finally, gently dry the glass and add 1-2 more coats of mirror spray
Pictures of final coming soon! 

2. Replace the ugly light

I'm getting very proud of my electrical skills.  Just don't call me over to do anything for you--I'm not that proud.  I also used this weekend to replace the very old, builder basic light we have outside.  Here I tell you the story of replacing the light with pictures. 
See your $4 light while at Lowes.  You always hated it, but now even more.
Pour some wine.  Because it's the weekend and you want to.  

While up on the ladder, I saw the neighbor's light.  A bare bulb.  Condo fees at work here. 

Take old light off and roll your eyes at the horribly rusted screws and incredibly old wiring you now have to deal with.  Remove this and attempt to put in the new bracket.  It won't fit.  Nothing "standard" fits in this house.

While doing this, drop the screws you need down the basement window well about 5 times.  Assess whether you can crawl down and back out on your own.  Then debate how long it would be until someone found you.... retrieve one screw but lose the other.  Now you must use one of those old rusty screws. Insist that the wine has nothing to do with this mishap.

About an hour into your 30 minute install you have a light!  Doesn't this look so much better?  In addition this light puts off brighter light and has a motion detector.  Because, clearly, safety was my #1 concern while installing this light... 

And that's what I accomplished in one day before all the (very fun) busy-ness of house guests. I love how big a difference all these small changes make.  Next project: revamping the patio! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Would I ever move to Portland...

Probably not.  But I have discovered Portlandia on IFC and it is hilarious!  The show is a sketch comedy series that pokes fun at several trends in our society right now--from the local food movement, to recycling, to crafting, to technology overload, and even brunch (I really don't get the "lets do brunch" thing.  It's early. It's a weekend. I can make eggs at home in my PJs and not be forced to make conversation at 10:00 on a Sunday.)

I really want to share some of the clips that I love but I am going to try to hold back and just do the top 5 clips, which will be hard enough.  The show is about to end it's second season now, but the entire first season is on Netflix instant view.

1. Jewelry making.  This song has been stuck in my head all night--if it was on iTunes, I'd totally buy it and rock out to it pre-crafting

2. "Did you read that?"  In the academic world (and, frankly, in life) I often encounter people who try to show off their intellectual prowess by bragging about how many articles they've read.  And it does become this ridiculous contest...

3. "Put a Bird on it!" Seriously, just do it.  Now it's quirky and cute! I think half the things in Anthropologie have birds on them--not that I don't still like it.

4. "Over!"  People like this bother me... and we've all known one or two.

5. "Is it local?" Colin has papers...I like local, free range meats. They do taste better and it feels more humane. But some people get way too wrapped up in it.

Anyone else out there as big a fan of this show as I am? I hope there's a season 3!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things I've been cooking

While I have been feeling too busy to blog, I have not been too busy to cook.  Every now and then I remembered to take pictures for eventual use. In addition to our nightly dinners, I have also managed to pull off several dinner parties featuring: roast chicken with pan gravy, braised short ribs with garlic and peppers, grilled filets with compound butter and crab pot pies (an original recipe!) and flaming ouzo shrimp.  Mouth watering yet?  Mine is.

Cooking is a real passion of mine.  I have Ina and Gordon on the DVR and dream about going to culinary school and opening a restaurant.  Thomas even asked me one night "how would you feel about opening a restaurant in the Caribbean?" It's fun to talk about, but dream on...

Here are some photos of the food I remembered to photograph and my original crab pot pie recipe!  Enjoy.

Garlic and parsley potatoes

Crab Pot Pie (recipe follows) 

Mushroom bourguignon

Bacon wrapped filets with compound butter (a decadent Saturday dinner)
Lemon Rosemary Greek Potatoes (recipe coming in another post!)

Greek burgers--using tzatziki instead of mayo is awesome! 

And now the promised recipe!  I came up with this one for my dad's birthday and it was amazing!  It's also something you can assemble ahead of time and all you need to do when guests arrive is pop it in the oven. Since this is a recipe I made myself, not all measurements are exact--I go by feeling.  But that's what makes cooking fun!

Crab Pot Pie (6 servings)
1 pound crab meat 
1/4 cup dry Sherry 
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups Leeks sliced
2-3 cups mushrooms sliced
1 cup Celery sliced
1 cup carrot diced/sliced
1/2 onion, diced 
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups chicken stock
3-5 tbsp of butter 
1/2 cup flour 
A lil cream 
A lil fresh parsley and thyme 
Puff pastry, thawed. (get 4 sheets!)
1 egg lightly beaten with some h2o (this is an egg wash)
  1. Saute all veg (with garlic) in butter until tender.  Season with S & P.  Add flour and cook off 
  2. Add chicken stock, sherry and cream cook through,
  3. In another bowl, mix crab with lemon zest, a bit of paprika and fresh parsley and thyme 
  4. Take cream mix off heat and gently stir in crab (keep big lumps) 
  5. Butter some ramekins and spoon pie mix in.  Put some egg wash around the outside rim of the ramekin; this will help the pastry stick to it when you pinch it around. 
  6. Cover ramekins with puff pastry (making sure pastry is slightly bigger), pinch pastry around and brush on egg wash.  Season crusts with a little S &P
  7. Bake in oven at 375 for 25-35 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

House Photos

As promised, here are some photos of the new house with commentary.  I really wish I had taken more before and after photos but I was so busy it never occurred to me.  Until now, when it's too late...

But first, I have to say that I am feeling great today.  I finally went back to the gym and it was wonderful  Except my new gym doesn't have all the equipment I like.  And they also have a version of something that I love, but I refused to go near this version.  I found a pic of it online and you can guess why:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you "The Butt Blaster" The one at my gym was even older, the writing larger and in bright purple...  I'm not working out on something with the words "Butt Blaster" in large cursive font.  Luckily the gym is scheduled for a renovation starting 3/1 

Now on to the house pics!  I will start on the bottom floor, we have a small basement area with a separate office and full bath.  It is affectionately called "the man cave" even though I hang out here just as much.
This is the view as you come down the stairs.  It's a great movie room--and the leather couch has 2 reclining seats.  the most stylish?  No.  But so comfortable! And really not bad looking. 

The bar area.  I added mirrors to the back of these shelves and repurposed that bar cart.  It used to be white, so I painted it chocolate brown and then Thomas and I placed some cool coasters we got at local bars on it and topped it with custom cut glass.

On the main level.  A lot of my furniture here.  We got rid of the more girly blue and opted for a terra-cotta accent color. 

A view of the chair and the front door off to the left. 

A really cool hand watercolored engraving we got called "Washington from Arlington Heights" 

A view of the dining/kitchen area.  That orange wall used to be a kinda gross sea foam green.  The color looks redder in this pic than it really is. 

Our dining table--I love the legs!  We have a very small dining area and this table was the perfect solution.  It folds up really narrow but also folds out to a normal size that can seat 6 or maybe even more.  We bought nice quality wood and leather folding chairs that are stored in a closet upstairs for extra seating. 

The beautiful kitchen.  This is what made me fall in love with this house.  The breakfast bar is a unique feature in these models, and it is awesome.  The kitchen was renovated October 2010, so it's brand new. 

The back patio... It's a mess.  We love our fire pit and grill which are used often.  We have big plans for renovating this once we save $$ so stay tuned!  
The really cool pendant light upstairs that I hung myself :)   Was one of those blah builder basic lamps

The bedroom.  These walls were the same green as the kitchen--they loved sea foam.   I repainted it this luxurious royal blue.  It is so relaxing and royal 

And I love the way white furniture looks against it! 

And this... is my room.  My office, where I am sitting right now.  I got this amazing wallpaper with different European landmarks in a 1960s style.  it has cherry red accents as well.  I painted the walls in here this elegant grey and Thomas' dad helped me hang the chandelier (it was after watching him do this one that I was able to do the one in the hallway). The futon is queen size an perfect for overnight guests and also perfect for relaxing on while grading or reading. 

My desk area.  I got this cherry red desk that matches the accents in the wallpaper.  It is also narrow (this is a TINY room).  And I finally bought a Mac.  I am 100% Apple now and loving it. 

So that's my house!  I love it, but of course still have lots of decor plans.  It's been a lot of fun putting this all together, though I will say that with a house built in the 1940s, "simple" projects encounter strange roadblocks along the way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

And I'm back...

It's been a long while, and I can't say how many times I've told the people around me "I really should start writing again..." But here's what happened:
Around July, my boyfriend and I decided to move in together (yay!) and I got to be a part of the house hunting. The search, the prepping for a move and eventual moving sucked up all my time and energy. In addition, I started my new job at Robinson High School 2 days after moving in.
Two big stressful (but wonderful) life events at the same time.
I now live in a beautiful townhouse in Arlington and the decorating fervor is beginning to calm down (pictures to come. I'm going to tidy up around here first...) and am actually loving having a "room mate."

I am finally feeling like my head is above water and that I have time to do things like this. Honestly, I did before but was just so tired. 

I also thought about a list I wanted to post while driving home today.  My students have a list they compose of songs for our newspaper website.  Most recently was a list of break up songs.  As I was driving home, I was listening to my iPod and realized just how ridiculous some of the lyrics are.  But the songs are so catchy that I end up singing along any way.  Here is my list of 10 songs with the most ridiculous lyrics that I have actually purchased (in no particular order). I do have to say that this is not necessarily a representation of my actual overall musical taste...  Look for more substantial posts to come; I am committed to actually writing again.

 1. Short Skirt/Long Jacket by Cake (I actually think these lyrics are very smart.  But still feel silly singing along.) 
Silliest Line: "I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who uses a machete to cut through red tape
With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tinted glass"

2. Scotty Doesn't Know by Lustra 
Silliest Lines: The parkin lot
Why not? It's so cool when you're on top!
His front lawn in the snow
Life is so hard because Scotty doesn't know!" 

3. BedRock by Young Money & Lloyd 
Silliest Lines (it's a tie) "We murderers, cause we kill time" and "I love your sushi roll, hotter than wasabi" Pure poetry... 

4. Love in this Club by Usher (I'm embarrassed I own this song.  But still kinda dancing along right now) 
Silliest Lines: "I'll be like your medicine, you'll take every dose of me.
It's going down on aisle 3, I'll bag you like some groceries."
Clean up in aisle 3...
5. Hot Tottie by Usher 
Silliest Lyrics: "Big ballin' is my hobbySo much so they think I'm down with the IlluminatiMy watch do illuminate"

6. Bow Chicka Wow Wow by Mike Posner 
Silliest Line: Just look at the title!
Actual still from the music video. 

7. Super Bass by Nicki Minaj 
Silliest Lyric: "This one is for the boys in the Polos
Entrepreneur n****s in the moguls"

8. $8 Bottle of Wine by Corey Smith (going to another concert of his March 3!) 
Silliest Line: "Leave the corkscrew in the drawer,
It's all in the wrist,
Give that top a twist,
And she's ready to pour."

9. Mushaboom by Feist 
Silliest line (the chorus): Old dirt road (mushaboom, mushaboom)
Knee deep snow(Mushaboom, mushaboom)
Watching the fire as we grow old (mushaboom, mushaboom)"

10. Right Round by Flo Rida 
Silliest Line: "No women, no shawties, no nothin but clothes
No stoppin now, my Pirellis on roll
I like my jewelry, that’s always on whoa" 

Learned something new today... this song features Ke$ha.  Can't say I'm that surprised. 

What songs do you find yourself singing along to that have the most ridiculous lyrics?