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.
It’s Ash Wednesday, and I’m away on travel for work. I’ve signed up to start receiving daily emails from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (courtesy of prestonyancey.com) beginning today, and hope to read these devotionals each day during Lent and beyond. If you’re interested, you can sign up to receive these emails here.
Today I have photos for you from our January trip to Las Vegas, which have been sitting on my computer for about six weeks waiting patiently for this moment.
#1 and #2, the Las Vegas Strip.
(sorry this one is a little blurry — i’m learning a new camera lens)
#3 and #4 Red Rock Canyon.
#5 I am completely in love with old vegas.
#6 After brunch at the Bellagio, which was decorated for the Chinese New Year (the year of the horse). Geez my hair was long!
#7 Red Rock Canyons continued.
#8 I had all of these wild hopes for the Luxor (the pyramid). They were dashed.
#9 Red Rocks again; me and my favorite DC-ite! (Yes those are Old Navy Rock-Star-Super-Skinnies. You’re welcome.)
#10 We watched the fountains at the Bellagio and I thought our friends might get engaged there. They didn’t. I was disappointed.
#11, #12, #13, #14 OH MY GOSH HOOVER DAM IS SO BALLER. I LOVE AMERICA.
Well, there you have it. If I had to do it all over again, or give you recommendations for a first-time trip to Vegas, I’d recommend these three things:
(1) Go to the Hoover Dam. Seriously, it is amazing what we can do when we work together.
(2) Stay in a hotel in Old-town Las Vegas. I loved The Beat coffeehouse/bar/record shop we stopped at, and there were so many awesome cover bands playing in the street! I could have danced to fake-Bon Jovi and fake-Bruce Springsteen all night long.
(3) Eat tacos at Tacos El Gordo. It’s kind of by Circus Circus (which is hilarious and you should totally go there too) and these are the greatest tacos in the entire world. I know tacos. Bring cash.
What are your favorite spots in the Las Vegas area? Any recommendations for travelers headed in that direction?
Here’s a quick piece of trivia for you all — did you know that when you get a pedicure in the winter, you stuff your soft, polished feet into sandwich baggies to protect your nails before putting on your socks and boots? Well, if you didn’t, now you do. This is just one of many lessons I’ve learned while surviving my first winter in the Great White Midwest.
In other news, I attended my first non-couples social engagement of the winter, and it was lovely. It is so nice getting out on your own! I met a handful of women in the city and reconnected with someone I haven’t seen in literally years. Like, since 2006. Sometimes I forget just how long it has been since college. Tonight, I remembered it has been quite a long time!
This week’s toe nail color is Too Too Hot by Essie, which will be perfect for Valentine’s day. I’m seeing tons of great V-day beauty and fashion posts and am SO READY for some warmer, spring-ish weather. I’ll probably mix a little pink or red into my work wardrobe Friday, but I’m typically not really a V-day celebrater. Are you doing anything special to celebrate?
The conversation went something like this —
H: So I found some Elk yesterday driving home from my meeting.
Me: Are you serious?!?! That is awesome! What were they doing? Were they cold too? Do elk eat berries? Are they like reindeer? Or more like bison? Why were there Elk by your work meetings? (And a ton of equally ridiculous, excited questions.)
And then a few days later —
H: So, like, want to go see those elk?
They were awesome. And very much like reindeer.
I have a blog post planned, but it will just have to stay in the cooler because there has been no time for writing today! I mentioned that H’s two brothers would be here for the weekend, and entertaining our guests and preparing for tomorrow’s Fake Thanksgiving Dinner has me exhausted. (I took a mini-nap on the L just a while ago!)
We woke up and had poached eggs and cheesy grits for breakfast this morning. I went ahead and made up two pans of cornbread to use for the dressing tomorrow before jumping in the shower. While that was baking, I threw together the cranberry sauce so it would be chilled and ready to go.
We drove northwest of Chicago so the boys could spend the afternoon hitting golf balls at Top Golf. I went along because of an exciting detour involving wildlife that I will share once the photos are edited! I sipped a hot toddy and read a magazine for a few hours while I watched them play from the warmth of the lodge.
It’s freezing out, and I’m wearing my down coat, two sweaters, tights under my jeans, wool socks, and fleece-lined boots. I found the bright green hooded scarf (with pockets) that my mom gave me five years ago for Christmas for my first winter in DC, and today it is the only thing keeping me from giving up and staying inside forever.
We are now at the Bad Dog Tavern, Chicago’s University of Tennessee bar, watching the UT-Vanderbilt game. When UT scores they play rocky top and the food is honestly pretty great. They have nachos with short ribs. AND the whole place is totally decked out for Christmas!
So, how was your Saturday? Have you started holiday shopping yet? I can’t wait to dig into the sales next weekend!
This past weekend, H and I spent our rainy and grey Saturday afternoon exploring Chicago’s Field Museum. We live very close to the museum, and the building is so beautiful that we’ve been talking about visiting the museum since we moved to the city. After five years of living in Washington, DC, we grew pretty accustomed to free museums, so we’ve been a little slower to visit museums, aquariums, and other cool places in Chicago than we would like because of the hefty price tags. This weekend, H’s work had a deal with the museum where all employees of his company could enter the museums free with their families. We got on the gravy train.
It may have been the weather, but while the museum collection was expansive, impressive, and incredibly detailed I found the history of evolution and dinosaur exhibits a little boring. I couldn’t read a lot of the exhibits because the speed at which the crowd was moving was not conducive to the small, detailed text presented. What I was able to read belonged in a tenth-grade biology textbook, not on the wall of a huge and beautiful science museum. For example, while I’m sure the difference between asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction is really important to science or whatever, I don’t know how effective exhibits describing every stage of cell reproduction can really be for a crowd of people, especially when it’s a little dark and hard to read everything.
We moved quickly through the boring parts of evolution (you know, the tiny bits becoming slightly larger tiny bits) because what we really wanted to see were the dinosaurs. H LOVES dinosaurs and he knows everything about them — such as how many fingers a tyrannosaurus rex had.
In case you are wondering, the answer is two. Because of this, most children’s books are not acceptable gifts for our friend’s children because the dinosaurs depicted in the books are not accurately portrayed.
The text displays on the exhibits still weren’t all that interesting, but the dinosaurs themselves were AWESOME.
There were also some pretty cool non-dinosaurs at the end of the Ice Age section. And while I wish I knew the proper terms or names of many of these cool-looking skeletons, I just didn’t learn very much here. It was too hard to read everything and so I just snapped a few shots of cool bones and we moved on.
However, the Field Museum’s exhibit on Ancient Egypt was wonderful and I absolutely loved it. The museum built a replica of the tomb of Unis-ankh, who was the son of a fifth dynasty Pharaoh. They recreated the tomb using original wall carvings in several places. The viewing path was forced and relatively narrow, giving us a real shot at reading the information included in the exhibits. The structure was built to showcase the three-story layout of the tomb, so we climbed up and down stairs to see various chambers of the tomb from different levels. From the top, you looked down through a peep-hole to see a mummified body below, and from the bottom you could view the same mummy head-on.
I didn’t take any photos here because it felt inappropriate — like we were really walking through a burial site and the bodies deserved respect. We saw real mummies, replica mummies, canopic jars and artwork and hieroglyphics — it was a great experience. I would return to the Field Museum just to re-visit the Inside Ancient Egypt tomb, and perhaps it would be a little easier to engage the other materials on a weekday than it was during our Saturday afternoon visit.
Once we made it back to our warm apartment, made some tea and turned on some college football, we were pretty glad we had the opportunity to see the Field Museum up-close and personal. It wasn’t the best museum ever, but it was still pretty okay.