Well, it’s September. Holy cow. How did this happen? The summer has flown by in a blur, but there were a few pockets of awesome mixed in too. Here is a quick rundown of some of the things I loved (or learned) over the past few months.
I went to a professional soccer game. It was crazy fun. Did you know that fans throw beer into the air after each score during DC United soccer games? Yeah, me either. They do. (Pro tip: do not wear your suit to the game even if you are going after work. Dry-cleaning is expensive.)
I ate a lot of not-so-great restaurant food, but I also enjoyed some pretty yummy DC meals during my lengthy hotel stay. For example, have you ever eaten a scotch egg? It’s a soft-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, and then breaded and deep fried. I think. I tried this one at the Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington (Arlington), Virginia. It was delicious.
During the rare minutes I wasn’t working or traveling this summer, I mostly (a) went to dinner with friends or (b) watched Netflix in my hotel room. But one weekend when H was in town we drove out to Theodore Roosevelt Island for a little wilderness. Did you know that even though they drained all of the water out of the fountains on Theodore Roosevelt Island and closed the island’s bathrooms for repair, the landmark is beautiful in a weirdly Soviet way? It needs a lot of love and attention and Teddy deserves better. I was excited to finally visit the Island and — disappointment all around.
I took a four-day weekend over the Fourth of July and flew to Chicago to drive to Detroit to spend the weekend with extended inlaws. I caught two huge fish and one tiny perch and bought my own fishing pole (named Ice) and a camo fishing hat from Bass Pro Shops. It was potentially the best weekend ever.
This summer I also saw two pretty cool people get married, ate a TON of Kansas City barbecue, went to brunch with some pretty fabulous people (really, tons of Brunch. That’s my kind of summer.), and learned a lot at work. After 60 days away, I’m feeling pretty comfortable in my skin and more confident about what I want out of my life. Which is to say, a cool job is cool but it isn’t enough.
AND THEN I came home. It was beautiful. I crashed the first night in Chicago and then got to work, making our two-bedroom condo overlooking the city mine. My return home was one year after our move to Chicago (weird how anniversaries work, isn’t it?) and only a few days before our fourth wedding anniversary, and I didn’t want to enter this new year without fully unpacking from our move and settling into our space. We still had a few boxes of photographs and art pieces that needed to be hung, and we had crammed all of our excess belongings into the guest room closet (seriously, it was treacherous), and it was time to dig in and clean out. We made a huge contribution to Goodwill and have a few more furniture pieces headed that way next week.
I built these flower boxes on my balcony when I got back to Chicago. And by built, I mean I purchased them from Home Depot and encouraged my husband while he attached them to our balcony with screws. But I planted them myself and so far only 1 out of 10 of these plants is showing signs of death. And only a slight shade of death, so that’s a pretty successful planting experience for this black thumbed girl.
Here is a photo of my beautiful clean kitchen. I emptied every cabinet, dusted and cleaned, scrubbed the appliances, rearranged our dishware and even set up a cookbook display to add some extra color. It doesn’t look exactly like this every day, but we are trying to maintain.
And, while cleaning and sorting and donating has taken up a lot of my non-work minutes, we’ve also made sure to spend a little time out in the city. Chicago is a beautiful place to live, and I’m so happy to be home.
Today’s post is part of Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into Link-Up. To join the link-up or check out other posts, please click here.
I left work around 6:30 tonight with no plans and no energy and no real desire to do anything. I ended up getting a burger from Good Stuff and going for a walk.
The calorie math on this arrangement looks something like this:
Good Stuff Eatery Calories: +5,000,000
Walking 2 Miles Calories: -167
Total Calories : 4,999,833
I wanted to eat on a park bench overlooking the water. I thought I could walk to the water. I didn’t want my fries to get too cold but I wanted a good view, so I walked over to the Long Bridge Esplanade Park to grab a bench and eat my dinner overlooking the Potomac.
I’ve actually been wanting to walk until I found the waterfront near my hotel for a while now, but never made it home from work early enough so I could explore in the last few bits of daylight. I’m much too nervous and responsible to wander around at night in the dark. I know that so many of you are strong independent women and I am one of those too about most things, but walking too alone at night still gives me the heeby-geebies. (How do you spell heeby geebies?)
Only two problems with this picnic plan: First, Long Bridge Park doesn’t overlook the water so much as it overlooks the rail road tracks by the water. And second, there aren’t any benches, exactly. So, I sat on a concrete stub and ate my cheeseburger and a few luke-warm fries while runners jogged past staring hate bullets in my direction. [Yes I can eat a cheeseburger and still look this good. No I don’t know why you are laughing . . .] Unbeknownst to me I was chowing down in the middle of a popular Arlington running trail. Nothing makes a cheeseburger taste flat like the mournful, jealous, slightly-judgy stares of dozens of runners, while running.
But even though I didn’t work out great for the eating part, Long Bridge Park is weirdly beautiful. As you walk out on the path you think you are walking immediately toward the Washington Monument. Reagan National Airport is right across the water from the path, so you can sit on the concrete stubs and watch the airplanes take off and land at the airport. Soccer fields line the grassy areas between Crystal City and the edge of Virginia, and young-ish people were playing ultimate frisbee and running soccer drills and generally having a great time. You don’t see crystal-clear water and shiny monuments on this side of the Potomac — you see lily pads and marshes and railroad tracks. I kind of loved it.
When I’ve been in the City too long, I crave the wilderness. Tonight I found a tiny piece right in my [hotel’s] back yard.
It’s weird, how they say you can’t go home again and yet — you can. You just purchase a plane ticket and pack a bag and there you are. This weekend we traveled back to Washington, D.C. (our home for the previous five years) and spent a few days in our favorite city, visiting with our favorite people and eating at our favorite places. This isn’t a recipe for a perfect tourist weekend, but here’s a DC resident’s perfect weekend in our Nation’s Capitol.
FRIDAY NIGHT: land in city and sleep in the guest room of your bestie’s house.
SATURDAY MORNING: eat Bethesda Bagels. Recommendation: bacon, egg, and American cheese on an everything bagel. Grab coffee at Quartermaine next door. If you go with a friend one of you should order coffees while the other stands in line for bagels because, unless it’s snowing or raining the bagel line will be out the door.
SATURDAY ERRANDS: close your old bank account. Or, you know, whatever.
SATURDAY MORNING HANG-OUT: meet your best law school buddy for coffee at Politics and Prose Bookstore‘s Modern Times Coffeehouse, the place where you studied for all of those finals before they instituted completely unacceptable laptop policies that ruined everything forever. Recommendation: London Fog.
SATURDAY LUNCH-ISH: brunch/lunch at Open City in Woodley Park. We learned that the music makes babies dance. The service can be a little slow so make sure to tell the waiter exactly what you want the first time. Recommendation: Greek Pizza, BLT, iced mocha.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON HANG-OUT: Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Avoid boring pandas but be sure to see the Lions. They are awesome. Best part of America are the Smithsonian’s river otters.
SATURDAY DINNER: Coal Fire Pizza in Gaithersburg. Recommendation: Dark and Stormy, Ring of Fire Pizza (Italian sausage, banana peppers, and spicy marinara).
SATURDAY POST-DINNER: Celebrate your friend’s birthday back at her house with carrot cake and red wine. They are a perfect pairing.
SUNDAY MORNING: Grab a coffee and cheer for your husband and friends as they run a ten mile race around the National Mall. Take in the monuments for a bit while it is sunny and relatively warm, but head toward brunch by 10:30. It’s definitely time to eat.
SUNDAY BRUNCH: Ted’s Bulletin on Barracks Row is a bit of a wait, but totally worth waiting for. Recommendation: homemade poptarts (strawberry is the best), sausage biscuits and gravy. If you’re lucky you’ll see the cadets marching around with their giant guns.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: After a shower for the runners, head down to H Street to hang on the back patio of the German Biergarten. Recommendation: the hefe-weizen that is “very carbonated,” pretzel buns with mustard. The mustard is the best part.
SUNDAY EVENING: Return the rental car and grab your last dinner at The Silver Dinner, airport edition.
We landed in Chicago late Sunday night and it was technically early Monday morning before we were back in our Condo in the South Loop. We both worked today and we are exhausted, but our wonderful weekend was worth every minute.
It’s funny how you forget your own life, how the good things slip into the dusty corners of our memories the way a favorite sweater can be lost in the back of an over-full closet, missing an entire season of usefulness. When I think over the year, I note how hard it was to wait for information about where we would be moving, and how frustrating our whole moving experience was because of the HR delays. But when I look at the photos from this year, I remember how wonderful it was, how blessed we have been with the best of friends, and how happy we are even though we are quite far from those we love. And so today, I’m taking a few minutes to look back over 2013 and appreciate the many gifts, experiences, travels, and opportunities for growth that came my way this year.
I decided to blog this week…FOR YOU. Because I know how you’ve been feeling these last few weeks. You’ve been missing the random stories and theme-less posts you are accustomed to finding here. You’ve missed hearing about how I decided to eat healthy for a change so we had bacon and cake for dinner, or how I tried to go to the gym and kind of fell off the treadmill, or how I freak out when my favorite make-up is on sale and try to convince everyone to buy it.
Well do not worry for one more second: this week is the week we get back together. And to start closing the gap between us, a brief photo-history of the last month:
A fountain in Chicago’s Grant Park.
We bought bikes.
My hotel in DC from my very first business trip. I now have a credit card that says “United States of America.”
The Branson, MO airport is INSANE. And I made a new friend there!
We had so much fun in Arkansas for my friend Amanda’s wedding! I was in a ton of pictures but don’t have many, but here’s one with a fellow bridesmaid.
These are the fountains where I eat lunch on Fridays.
This is my church, the Chicago Temple.
And this, my friends, is the funniest photo-bomb ever.
Live blog of road trip for your personal enjoyment. Refresh for updates.
9:45 AM Leo in the car, meowing but feeling his special snack. On the road.
10:53 AM south mountain welcome center has fantastic bathrooms.
11:02 AM the mix CDs become essential during traffic.
11:35 AM goodbye Maryland and hello Pennsylvania!
11:59 AM Getting on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and it is our first toll.
12:30 PM (ish) Allegheny Mountain Tunnel.
12:32 PM Inside the tunnel.
1:12 PM Pay $7.85 to go to the bathroom at a combo McDonalds/Co-Go. Then back on the Turnpike.
And Kristen takes the wheel at 1:15 PM.
Entering Pittsburgh at 1:46.
Meanwhile at home, H and friends finish loading the truck and close the door for the last time. See you later, #101.
Squirrel Hill Tunnel at 1:59 PM.
2:20 PM surprise visit with Kristen’s aunt, uncle, another aunt, and cousins.
What a cutie!
3:30 PM Primanti Bros. sandwiches — holy cow delicious.
4:12 PM Oops, wrong turn. Thanks a lot, Tom Tom. Back on the road with 439 miles left to go.
5:27 PM Lordstown, Ohio.
5:58 Holy caffeine, Batman! Triple grande peppermint mocha and 13 gallons of gas in the tank. 345 miles to go.
7:38 PM Start to lose it. Saved by a friendly text message.
9:25 PM Finally out of Ohio and in Kristen’s home state. First thing we see is a semi-truck full of camels.
11:18 PM We finally made it to the hotel!
7:27 AM Welcome to Chicago!!!
Hi Friends. It’s been a hot minute since you’ve gotten an update, so that’s what you are getting today! Hope you are doing well — can’t wait to hear about your fabulous lives as well.
I told you how I signed up for a writing class thing for the summer, remember? Well, it doesn’t start until July 1st but during June I’m using Elora’s 30-days of writing prompts geared for finding your purpose. I’m not even half-way through the prompts, but I’m loving how they excite me about writing and also kick me in the butt for being lazy and not prioritizing my gifts in my own life. If you’re interested in purchasing the prompts, you can get 30 days of prompts for only $30. It supports a great writer, and it supports you as a writer, so it’s basically win-win.
In our last update, I mentioned that I might have a position in Chicago but that it was tricky and not certain and that I wasn’t sure if it would be with my old job or my new (same agency but different division) job or something altogether unexpected. . . Well, it’s settled now and I officially have a position and I officially start on August 12th — the same day H starts his new job! It’s a dream come true for making our physical and financial transition smooth and I am so excited and thankful that it worked out. I mean, I couldn’t imagine a better scenario.
Well, unless Rahm called me and was like Hey, MB, we really need a lawyer to work for us in the City of Chicago and really, you are the only one we want. So can you come and re-do our land-use policies and make sure our master plan doesn’t accidentally (or intentionally) discriminate and be in charge of ending homelessness and economic development grants and just spend all of my city budget helping people? And can you please wear jeans and a blazer to work every day, because dress pants just aren’t our style. That would be a pretty great scenario too.
The Daily Grind.
H is fishing three days a week and reading Game of Thrones during his well deserved summer break after graduate school, and I’m enjoying my job a lot. I’m incredibly busy and working on some organizational planning efforts that are complicated and messy and exactly the kind of projects I love. I’m doing a lot better at getting to work
early on time and getting full nights of sleep, and I’m trying to get to the gym twice a week and eat fewer calories and more vegetables. I even had a glass of wine and a BLT instead of two glasses of beer and a cheeseburger at Trivia last night. Impressive, I know.
We’re still planning to find an apartment after the July 4th holiday and move up the first weekend in August. Now that we both have start-dates for our jobs, it’s getting more real. Once we find our new place in only SIXTEEN DAYS!!! we will schedule our movers. Between now and then, I’m going to start going through some of our things and packing/donating.
Let’s talk about donating for a second — do you guys ever feel like Goodwill doesn’t want your donations? On the day of my last drop-off, I was asked if the clothes I had in sacks had been dry-cleaned and were on individual hangers. I’m not dry-cleaning t-shirts, but I don’t want to just throw them out. Is there a better way to donate used items that still have some life in them?
We’re also looking at a lot of furniture stores, because we have a lot of things to purchase in the coming months and want to be responsible about such large expenses. For a new sofa, we’re considering Basset Furniture — we really liked their selection and service. We also found this AMAZING coffee table (minus the wheels) but it seems weird to pay so much for something that looks so simple. . . not that furniture making is simple, just that I wish it were so I could have whatever kind of furniture I wanted. (P.S. Sorry this photo is a little blurry.)
We spent last weekend in Virginia Beach, and we had so much fun EXCEPT that the traffic on I-95 from DC toward Richmond was HORRENDOUS. When we left at 10:30 a.m. I anticipated arriving by 3:00. . . but it was actually 6:30. That’s how much traffic it was.
But, it was so fun to get away, and I only took one picture! Below please find Virginia Beach’s favorite drink, the Orange Crush.