Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Recap: Some down time

Yet another awesome weekend! I love making the best of that smidgen of time off that we get from working, that teeny tiny bit of time just for ourselves. Friday night Gman and I met up with some friends for happy hour. It was the fifth night out for me last week. I had an event or commitment every single night last week! I've never done that. Three or four nights is usually busy for me. Monday was a Wizards game, Tuesday a CapFabb meet-up at Urban Chic, Wednesday Hump Day Happy Hour at the newly opened rooftop pool and bar at Tammy's gym (this one), and Thursday was three openings in one night(!). I'll tell you more about those tomorrow. Of course this week will be less chaotic but not by much. You can see I needed some serious downtime this weekend!

So after happy hour on Friday, I relaxed at home, then slept in on Saturday. Saturday consisted of scrubbing the house clean, a boozy brunch with out-of-town guests, take-out for dinner, and an evening of quietly reading in bed listening to the rain fall.

Sunday we had every intention of doing absolutely nothing. Then my neighbor and I decided to finally tackle the garden. We started in the front and boy does it look great! We're professionals! An epic adventure to Home Depot included three shopping carts full of mulch, plants, mosquito poison, and tiki torches (obviously), as well as a marriage proposal, cocktail recommendations, and very attentive service by the garden center staff. $300 and six hours later we have a front garden we can be proud of.

I have a hate-hate relationship with the rock/mulch garden in the front since we moved in. I wanted to dig it all up plant grass. But the yard is so shaded nothing will grow, hence the rock solution. We added plants and a little fence along the edges of the front and walkway to help define the space. Once the mulch was down the hated rock garden started taking a nice, deliberate-looking shape. We also planted some Begonias in the window box. I have to say that now I'm sort-of warming up to the rock/mulch garden. It looks thoughtful and clean. Let's hope we can keep up with it!

What do you do in your time off from work? What does "down time" mean to you?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shoe Love: More black pumps

Yves Sanit Laurent Palais Suede Peep-toe Pumps

I am completely mesmerized that heel. The angle of the inside is so delicately fresh and modern. Of course YSL would make something so incredibly chic. I need them on my feet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Exploring Wine: St. Emilion

Chateau Cheval Brun, St. Emilion Grand Cru, 2009, $30 (approximately, it was a gift from Gman)
My rating for this bottle? I would drink the bottle.

Whenever Gman and I want to get a special bottle of wine we always grab something from St. Emilion. After his marriage proposal (which was where we first met, here) we took the train down to Bordeaux and stayed in the heart of the medieval town, St. Emilion. While on our trip, we were introduced to the glories of the wines from this part of France. Our time there was one of the best of my life and truly unforgettable (don't worry, I'll tell you about it soon!).

So last week he surprised me with this bottle. In my tasting notes I wrote,

deep cherry, purple-red in color
earthy, tobacco?
juicy berries
medium to full body but soft
short finish

The most common grapes used in St. Emilion are a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and some Cabernet Franc which are all pretty sturdy on their own. This was a bolder taste than I've had in other reds, so I'm not sure if everyone would like it.

I do because every time I take a sip my transported back to our time in St. Emilion when I was perfectly peaceful and giddy with engagement excitement. Do you ever experience that with wine? Or what about music or scent?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wardrobe: What I Wore, Busch Gardens

Here's what I wore at Busch Gardens. And some of the food I ate...

Wardrobe: Busch Gardens

Shirt, Bag, Denim Shorts, Sandals, Bracelet, Sunglasses

First of all, I'm ashamed at the number of times I've featured jorts on this blog (here, here and this makes three). However, they are awesome and there were five pages of denim shorts to choose from on Shopbop which means others feel the same way.

Secondly amusement parks are hot so it just make sense. I try to keep it classy though, no white sneakers and fanny packs here. Go hands-free with a cross-body bag and keep your look breezy with gold sandals.

How adorable is that Kate Spade bracelet? And Karen Walker can clearly do no wrong with her sunglasses.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Destination: Busch Gardens

Friday afternoon I received an unusual midafternoon call from Gman. He asked me if I would like to go to Busch Gardens on Saturday. “The rental car is only $60 and we can go there and back in one day.” He paused as I tried to digest what he just offered. I quickly went over my agenda, to-do’s, and expectations for the weekend and more quickly than he could think of the next line to convince me, I said “Why the heck not, let’s do it.”

We realized two Bud Lights, a funnel cake, a plate of “authentic” German food, and a half-broken 3D ride in that this was our first trip to an amusement park together. It clearly isn’t something we’re big into but we needed a break and had a lot of fun trying something different. I’ll describe the pros and cons of my experience at the all American theme park but to start, a little bit about the place.

Busch Gardens is an amusement park owned by Anheuser-Busch. There are two locations the one we went to in Williamsburg, Virginia which is Europe themed and one in Tampa, Florida which is Africa themed. (I grew up going to the Tampa one and feel a strong preference for it so I compared them all day.) Busch Gardens is a great place for family bonding and a pretty good deal if you want to drop off your teenagers there for the day. 

On to the pros. The best part is all the sh*t food one could possibly imagine – kettle corn, funnel cakes with ice cream, caramel, and whipped cream, cotton candy, turkey legs, and lots of beer – it’s like the fair sans the fried Twinkies. I tried almost everything too despite having some difficulty trying to squeeze in eating in between roller coasters without wanting to puke. I survived.

I like that amusement parks offer something for everyone and allow you to have exhilarating and slow moments throughout the day. We saw lots of animals including owls, horses, Bald Eagles, wolves, and birds (the one in Tampa has a safari!). The animals there were mostly rescued from accidents and very well taken care of. One of the owls we “met” usually lives about 15 years in the wild but could live up to 40 in captivity! Also he was huge and only weighed 5 lbs. The same sized Bald Eagle weighed almost 15 lbs. The owl was also distracted looking for squirrels while the handler talked to us.

There were a variety of rides from sky buckets to roller coasters and everything in between. When we were little my sister and I loved the log flume. I thought I also enjoyed roller coasters but the photographic evidence shows that I was in fact not having fun. My displeasure greatly amused Gman and he made me go on as many as possible.

The people watching was absolutely outstanding. I’m so glad I decided to wear with jean shorts that day because they were the choice du jour. I’ve never seen so many variations on the classic and on so many body types and ages.

The cons. We were hoping that we beat tourist season but we didn’t count on the hordes of high school choir groups that descended on the place like locusts. Eventually their rowdiness grew on me and it was still less crowded than it could have been, so not too bad, right?
No, that wasn’t the worst of it. Gman and I decided on German food for lunch and so headed to Oktoberfest as soon as we got to the park. When we walked into Das Festhaus and I was immediately overwhelmed with a magical forest themed restaurant, seating 2,000, with mass produced food, and an all-singing all-dancing Broadway style musical extravaganza. The overly happy faces sang and danced to charming poppy music in the center of the room. Welcome to my hell.
I can’t stand musicals nor do I like themed restaurants, especially magical forest ones at themed countries in theme parks. Restaurants should be about the food. Period. I tried to leave and Gman begged me to stay because he was so hungry already. Luckily we just caught the end of the thing but I noticed people were lining up to meet the cast. What?! We ate in relative peace as we contemplated the meaning of this interpretation of German culture.

Allow me to quickly explain my annoyance towards sing-a-longs and these types of productions. I respect and appreciate live music and dance, don’t get me wrong. I cried my eyes out during the entire production of Wicked. Some people are truly talented.  However, in many cases their produced happiness reminds me of overly entertaining cheerleaders making bubbly faces at the camera. Their enthusiasm is forced and I lose faith in everyone buying into it.
I will say that I can see the need for such a break in the amusement park. Taking 30 minutes off our feet while sitting in air-conditioning was welcomed. In fact, I made Gman go to the less-smiley Celtic dancing production later that afternoon.
The weather was perfect – warm but not hot, slightly breezy, and sunny. Gman and I truly enjoyed our day together and felt like we did get away from it all. We had plenty of downtime to stroll through the park, look at flowers and animals, check people out, eat lots of food we shouldn’t, have a few thrills and get to know each other a little more.
So tell me, do you like amusement parks? What’s your favorite part or why don’t you like them?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Recap: A little bit of everything

This weekend was jam-packed with greatness. Friday night Gman and I went out with Tammy and her husband to the opening night of Water Street Project. It was refreshingly my type of place with art on the walls, live music in the air, and cheapish beers in a raw, unassuming space. I'll give a full review soon.

Saturday Gman and I spontaneously went to Busch Gardens! I had such a great time eating, drinking, seeing animals, flowers, and riding a few rides too. It was so fun that I decided to change my original editorial schedule and make it this week's destination. So be on the look out tomorrow for the story.

Sunday was lovely too. I went to the market, cooked lots of delicious food for the week, read, watched a movie, and even got my craft on and did some painting.

I can't believe how much awesomeness we squeezed into one weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Shoe Love: Charlotte Olympia

Charlotte Olympia pumps via Net-a-porter

I'm completely in love with the fabric on these Charlotte Olympia pumps. Those beautiful leaves are perfect for spring! I would wear that pattern head to toe and have my favorite chair recovered in it. But I wonder about the lucite heel and strap. Too daring? Sexy? Wacky? What do you think? Would you dare to wear there pumps (assuming you could walk in them)?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Exploring Art and Art History: NEXT at the Corcoran

Saturday night I went to the opening of NEXT at the Corcoran, the class of 2012's senior thesis show. It was exciting to see so many young, fresh faces leading the way to the Contemporary Art World future. I was surprised by the variety of media represented even though the Corcoran College of Art + Design boasts majors in Photojournalism, Fine Art, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Photography, and Digital Media Design. 

The artists explored a range of subjects but themes of personal identity, race, and sexuality emerged as most significant to me. Documentary style films by Lydia Ballock, Carlos Vargas, and Tucker Walsh explored the ethnic identity of young women in the Middle East, Latinos working in the US, and widows struggling in Zambia. Derek Long’s installation Break Racism was inspired by 30 Americans artist Kara Walker with black silhouette cut outs of break dancers on the walls. The cardboard on the ground, and music pumping from a cardboard boom-box invited viewers to try out their skills too.

Claire Mchale’s E: All of the Above explores teenage girl identity through photography and text. The series takes photographs of a young woman at school, home, and with friends with text scribbled over the pictures in different colored pens that describe the girl’s thoughts and feelings about family, life, beauty, and her education. It looks like it is written in the girl’s handwriting and reminds me of the same thoughts I had at her age, so complex and yet so simple.

These young artists have their finger on the pulse of the world around them and their carefully observed experiences are, sometimes literally, written on the walls of the museum. Video, installations, oil painting, and sculpture all captured my imagination and heightened my sense of personal awareness. I highly suggest you pay a visit and see which works strike you the most. For more details on the show and to read the artists’ bios check out the website, also designed by the students, here.

Exploring Wine: Txakoli

Ulacia, Txakoli, Espana 2010, $17.85 with the wine tasting discount
My rating for this bottle? I would drink a few glasses

For a special treat on Easter weekend Gman and I quietly drank a bottle of wine out in the garden. To spice it up, we decided to try the weekly Saturday wine tasting at A.M. Wine Shoppe. Proprietor Justin Abad was pouring and very knowledgeable about each bottle in his shop (and about wine in general). He friendly to boot.

The actual tasting was barely a sip. I was expecting a least a few sips so we could stand and chat as well as get to know the wine a little more. The good thing was that you received 15% off whichever wine was featured in the tasting. This one would have normally been over the $20 budget for this series but with the discount I was glad to be able to try something new.

I've never heard of a Txakoli before. It had a greenish tint to it and tasted very citrus-y, lots of lime and freshness. There was also a slight bubble to it which I really liked for a hot afternoon and with the plan of drinking it outside in the garden.

Txakoli is a Spanish wine made in Basque Country, which is in Northern Spain on the Atlantic. The region produces small quantities of wine and I felt like we were drinking one of Spain's best kept secrets. I bet when you visit the area this wine is served casually in almost every restaurant. It's probably something the locals are all too familiar with and we've never heard of it. It makes me want to go there and see what other secrets there are to discover!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tips to Travel By: Combating Altitude Sickness

Imagine being hungover for four days. That's how I felt when we went to Denver in March. I didn't realize at the time how much my body was affected by altitude sickness. Headaches, fatigue, slight nausea, bloating, pretty much all the usual symptoms snuck up on me and encroached on my ability to enjoy my time with my family in the scenic mountain resort. I got some great tips from locals though, including my fabulous sister. So if you are whisked away for a weekend of romping in the mountains, here are some tips for keeping altitude sickness at bay:

- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink lots of water before your trip and once you are there drink lots more. Drink more thank you think you want to.

- Consume extra potassium. My sister finds coconut water to be exceptionally helpful. My dad recommended adding a touch of lemon juice to cut the taste if you aren't a huge fan of coconut taste, like me. Bananas work too.

- Limit alcohol intake. This one can be difficult for some, especially if you are on vacation and celebrating. I had a beer to calm my nerves before heading down the slopes and I noticed it affected me much more than it normally does (I wasn't drunk skiing! I waited a little bit before heading down.). I'm not saying to completely abstain from that famous local CO beer but do try to have less than normal.

- Rest. I experienced a terrible headache from my altitude sickness and full night's rest and little afternoon catnaps definitely helped take the edge off. I was probably jet lagged too!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Recap: Some catching up

After an insanely busy week, I took advantage of little plans this weekend and caught up on my sleep. I also caught up with one of my girlfriends and attended the NEXT at the Corcoran's opening. I'll write more about it tomorrow (get excited!). And yesterday I spent at least 5 hours in the kitchen cooking. I made granola bars and quinoa salad for lunches this week. I can't wait to eat them!

So how was your weekend? It's getting hot here in DC. How is the weather where you are?
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