Friday, December 29, 2006

Around the World

I don't even know where to start. I flew into Detroit on Christmas Eve, and when my suitcase hadn't arrived, I made a claim and was told that I could spend $50 on toiletries, etc. I was also told that my bag would most likely be delivered that night, "in the wee hours."

It wasn't.

My dad and I did take a lovely trip to Walgreen's at midnight, though, to buy deodorant and a toothbrush, among other embarrassing things that a girl doesn't necessarily want to buy with her father in tow.

Christmas Day came and went, and there was still no word. My spending limit was increased to $150, however. Not that I could buy anything like, say, UNDERWEAR, as nothing was open.

The enemy.

I called every day, four times a day, trying to get even a thread of information about my luggage. Each time, the operator was very apologetic (except for that one bitch on the 26th who hung up on me when I was being COMPLETELY PLEASANT, but whatever. No really, I was - ask my mom), but I always got the same response, "We're working on it. Just call back every few hours." Fantastic. Of course, that was when I could actually get through - the local number they gave me was constantly busy.

Wednesday - my departure day. I called Northwest's luggage center for a fourth time that afternoon, around 1:00 p.m. I was not expecting much. The woman I spoke to earlier that morning had me convinced that the suitcase had been stolen and to start listing its contents because it "didn't look good." This call was different. I was placed on hold several times, and the operator returned to the line time and again to assure me that they were "on to something." And then, a ray of hope:

NW: "Ma'am, you're not going to believe this, but we've got your bag. It went to Manila."

Donut: "In the Philippines!!??!?!?"

NW: "Yes, the Philippines. It was overhandled."

Donut: "Yeah, to say the least."

NW: "But it's in Detroit now, going through customs. We'll have it to you this evening."

Donut: "My flight back to DC is at 7:30."

NW: "Oh, well it got here just in time!" [laughter]

Donut: [silence]

NW: Just call back around 3 p.m., and we'll have a better idea of whether it'll be ready for you before your flight.

I am so not kidding. The Philippines.

We got to the airport early, as NO ONE ANSWERED THE PHONE, and sure enough, it was ready. I transferred the presents to another bag that we toted with us, so my parents got their presents after all! But then... I had no choice but to recheck my bag. I was nervous! The flight was fine, but as I waited at the carousal at Reagan, I became more and more antsy. But then, it emerged from the bowels of the airport! I welcomed my well-traveled friend and got the hell out of there.

Here's what a tag looks like from DC to Detroit (with a slight detour along the way):

And here's what a tag from Detroit to DC looks like (you know, with no unscheduled stops along the way):

The story ends here, and luckily, it's a happy one. It could have been worse: my suitcase could have ended up in a dumpster!
I'll be packing my carry-on suitcase in the future!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Merriest of Merry Christmases

K-10 should enjoy the title. Miss you!

Anyway, it was a great Christmas at home - it was a complete contrast to last year's, and for that, I am very very thankful. It really is amazing to see what can change in a year, as well as seeing yourself change - or return to who you really are.

I flew into Detroit on Christmas Eve, and after the luggage snafu, I called my dad and he whisked me away to my Grandpa's house in Dearborn, just ten minutes from the airport. The whole family was there, though you wouldn't know it from the pictures. What can I say? My niece is adorable:

My cousins and I have always had a soft spot for the annual A Christmas Story marathon, even before it was a marathon, so that was fun. We count down the minutes until the first one airs at 8 p.m., and everyone waits for Randy to show Mommy how the piggies eat (mostly because that's my aunt's favorite part and the part that my mom hates the most). Presents are over in less than five minutes, and then everyone plays pinochle or poker. This year, it was poker. Oh, and we played Atari:

Super Pitfall!

Christmas Day was a quiet affair, but very nice. It's strange how things change - my brother obviously no longer lives at home, so there is no more waking up early to get our stockings. I mean, I am twenty-six years old. I guess it had to end sometime... EmFace dropped by later in the day, and it was so good to see her - I just wish it could have been longer. Alexis got a few Elmo DVDs, including this gem, which was both hilarious and deeply disturbing at the same time. We were taking bets on how long it would take to drive my brother completely insane:

Oh sweet Lord, make it stop.

The 26th, or Boxing Day, was spent at the mall finding clothes to replace mine as they were probably gone forever in lost luggage land. And you know, the mall wasn't that bad! Later, after watching Super Troopers with the 'rents, I met Tonks for a drink - also too short of a visit (you hear me Kelly? One beer at the freaking Allen Park Wheat 'n' Rye is not "hanging out." Get your ass to DC stat!).

The 27th was spent saying goodbye to my niece and heading to the airport early to see if there was any new news on my luggage. And there was.* My flight took off late (because Northwest SUCKS), but I returned to DC in one piece.

It was a great time at home, even without snow :)

*Story of the lost luggage to follow soon. Keep posted!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Northwest can SUCK IT

I flew to Detroit on Sunday - Christmas Eve, for those of you paying attention. Long story short, my suitcase never made it. You know, my suitcase with all of my CHRISTMAS PRESENTS all up in it? Yeah. And now it's Wednesday and they still haven't found it. It's not looking good. And I never check my bags. Figures!

I'm not even all that upset anymore. Frustrated, yes. Oh, yes. I even made a list of everything that I packed. That just depressed me.

So my family didn't get presents and I no longer have my glasses, tall sexy boots, or winter coat -- among many other things. OBVIOUSLY this is far from the worst thing that could have happened, but it still definitely sucks.

I know one thing for certain: I won't be flying Northwest again. Jerks.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dinosaur What Now? Where? Ahhhhhh......

How have I never heard of this?

And this is why it's going to be awesome:

"Dinosaur Land is not a place for a serious scientist. To enjoy it, visitors must be capable of suspending belief in favor of savoring the experience of having dinosaurs share a prehistoric forest with King Kong, a 20 foot coiled cobra and an inexplicably huge octopus."
Paula Gray Hunker, Washington Times, Tues. Oct. 14, 1997

Holy crap, I must go there. The need is inexplicable.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rosa Mexicano

Amanda planned a lovely Happy Hour at Rosa Mexicano, a Mexican bar in the heart of Penn Quarter. I arrived early to grab a table and ordered their special pomegranate margarita and homemade guacamole.

The margarita was tart, like a regular lime version, but with a hint of sweetness. And as pomegranates are all the rage these days, it seems fitting for a hip bar like Rosa. Plus, it was pink, so it scored well with me.

The guacamole was excellent, if slightly bland. I could have used a touch more cilantro or perhaps a dash of salt. I loved the huge hunks of avocado sprinkled throughout, though. I didn't get to have much, as it was gobbled up so quickly.

(I wish I could find out where it is that restaurants buy their avocados in the winter - the ones at the grocery store are severely lacking in taste and quality. I'm sure that they have them delivered straight from Argentina or something. I'm jealous!).

We later moved on to the red wine sangria. It was lighter than what I'm used to from Mike at Ella's, but very good. Get a pitcher because it goes fast!

And the company was good times - it'd been a while since our last Happy Hour, so it was nice to celebrate with everyone before Christmas descended upon us. I guess that's what Sunday's upcoming party is for!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Crack This

A month ago, Amanda and I bought tickets to see The Washington Ballet's The Nutcracker at the Warner Theater, and as the day inched near, we got more and more excited.

I don't know if you lovely people are aware of this little fact, but I studied classical ballet for twelve years. If I hadn't been more interested in school, I probably would have pursued a career in dance. But then I discovered history and museums, and it was all books and nerdiness from then on. Plus, high school was super fun with student council, track, band (have I mentioned I'm a nerd?), and boys, and I wouldn't have made time for dance - I made the decision after ninth grade.

Anyway, even with my dance background, I had never seen a professional ballet performance. The Warner Theater is absolutely beautiful, and the acoustics were very good.

I was ready: good seats and tissues for the tears of excitement. We had a great view on the main floor with fairly short people sitting in front of us. That is, until the grandma-perfume woman with a huge bouffant switched seats as the curtain was going up on the first act, and blocked both of our views. Awesome.

And the children. The children. 7 p.m. on a Friday night is probably okay for some kids, and the majority of them were fine for the first act, but after 45 minutes of sitting still, they were not amused with the second act - mostly ballet and not much else. I lost track of the amount of times the little girl behind me sneezed on my neck, and the little 2-year-old boy in front of us, now sitting on his father's lap, was squirming so much, I think that I saw about 7% of the performance.

I know that I need to be more assertive, and should have asked the people in front of us to stay in their original seats, but then maybe their children wouldn't have been able to see (not that they were watching anyway). Yes, we all paid the same amount for our tickets, but I guess it's a bit of a slippery subject. I was there for the music and the dance and was completely mesmerized by the dancers' feet alone - when I could see the stage, and they were there to see a Christmas-y performance.

And I'm short, so I've accepted that I'm not going to be able to see things. From football games to concerts, I'm usually fine with peeking through the crowd or just watching the action on the big screen. Unless I shell out for front row or aisle seats, I have to expect that I am probably not going to see much. It's not tall guy's fault that he's tall!

I'll just have to go back to see another ballet. Maybe on a weeknight. If Sleeping Beauty is ever performed here, I'll be first in line for tickets.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Old and New

My office, once located in a non-descript building on the edge of Chinatown, just moved... to a hotel! Well, we're renting space from the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, and though my own personal office is probably the size of one of their rooms (seriously, it's huge), there's not that much "hotelish" about it. Just office space. Let's compare though, shall we?

Old office - in the midst of packing.

I'll miss the view, but...


Not my furniture, actually (that's the old tenant's stuff).

I love the blue accent walls.

One of the coolest things is that the metro empties into the building, so once I get to Union Station to begin my commute, I don't have to go outside again (unless I want to). Plus, the mall is this whole "city" underneath the building: a Post Office, CVS, tailor, dry cleaner, SMOOTHIE PLACE, and restaurants. Granted, there are some really scary places (that's a whole different post altogether - I think that I'll call it "A Walking Tour of L'Enfant Promenade." Oh, just you wait), but all-in-all, it's pretty neat.

The Hotel has a gym - with a pool - and I can join for a ridiculously low monthly rate. A pool?!?!? I can't wait to swim laps. As for the gym, I'm going to have to think back to high school track practice to remember how to use some of the machines. I did hear that they have yoga classes though... Because really, can you picture me lifting weights? Heh.

Change is good, and I'm excited.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Smoke Free? Finally!

I cannot WAIT for the smoking ban to take effect - less than a month and counting. I'll be able to go to a restaurant, bar, or club and not get a headache! (I don't know why smoke has been affecting me so adversely lately, but I am excited to sit in a non-smoking section and not have smoke wafting over from three tables away. The whole place will be a non-smoking section!)

I understand the argument from those who oppose the ban: it's limiting their personal choices and freedoms, etc. But isn't it also my choice to breathe clean air? I know it's tricky, but if my rights end where another's begin, then the smoking should probably be banned.

I know that the ban will force smokers outside and it may not be pleasant - especially in crazy nightlife areas like Adams Morgan. Will "smoke gardens" replace beer gardens so that their smoking patrons don't have to leave the bar completely when they need a fix? Will dining outside at a restaurant mean choosing the smoking section, or will smoking be banned there as well? It's going to be an interesting transition.

I feel bad for those who are addicted, but someone who cannot wait five seconds to get to street level from the metro and sparks up as he's stepping onto the escalators? Needs help. Outside, I can walk away from a smoker. In a poorly ventilated bar, I only have the choice to leave. I will definitely frequent DC's smoke-free bars rather than the smoking-permitted bars in Virginia. Who knows? Maybe Northern Virginia bars will follow suit. Here's hoping.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cookie Party

What an amazing idea - have your friends come over, homemade cookies in tow, and swap.

The first batches to arrive...

Here's how it works - everyone bakes a different kind of cookie and brings two to three dozen along. Everyone samples some from each batch, and then goes home with a huge variety. It's fool proof! Have milk, hot chocolate, and hot cider on hand. Enjoy!

Mine. Pretty!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You Could EAT Off Of It

Really, you could.

We've made some improvements over here in the Little Rowhouse on the Hill. Remember our old kitchen floor?


We surmised, very correctly, that the grime-encrusted floor was too dark, too old, and too disgusting. I love to cook, but that the floor made me sad and (seriously) took away from the whole cooking experience.

A quick trip to the Depot, and a few hours later... voila! New floor!

It's so beautiful I could cry. And I would eat off of it. I even took off my shoes and walked around on it - something that I never did before, no matter how hard we swiffered and scrubbed.

The glorious floor was unveiled to the masses on Thanksgiving to rave reviews:

Now that's yum.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I sent Em one of the best shirts ever, but she has yet to post a picture of herself wearing it! What gives, EmFace?

But for reals, check out Threadless - their shirts are original and definitely hilarious (I have way too many, though I think that this one is my favorite. Or this one. Or...). Oh, and they're all on sale right now. What are you waiting for??

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Banana Blueberry Bread

I made the mistake of buying too many bananas, and I like them when they are slightly green. The brown spotted ones? Too sweet. Cold day, mushy bananas... banana bread!


Here's the recipe I used from my awesome Betty Crocker cookbook (thanks Lady!). I used whole milk instead of buttermilk and replaced the chopped nuts with a cup of fresh blueberries.

The result?


Monday, December 04, 2006

Hobbits are Hirsute. Apparently.

Over four years ago, I ordered a gorgeous set of The Lord of the Rings through my fabulous book club and until just about a week ago, they sat on my shelf. In my defense, I did have two years of grad school occupying my time, but I know now that that was no excuse.

I'd tried to start the trilogy a few months ago, but got sidetracked by other books. The first chapter didn't really do it fo me, and I lost interest. So instead, I read The Hobbit and loved it. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would try again. Lots of people had been pestering me to read them for a while now, and before heading to the metro one day, I grabbed the first book in the trilogy.

And now, here I am in the same situation that I've discovered myself several times before: I just want to read it all of the time. I tried reading at work today, but The Boss kept waltzing on in. It's a good thing that I can recognize her walk... Okay, enough of this posting - I'm going to go read.

I am such a nerd!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Season Six

Scrubs is back tonight! Wheeee!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


After searching through Macy's Tuesday night, Merrick changed her mind about the chocolate brown, classy bridesmaid dresses, but now she can't decide between these:

Green and sassy

Red and bunchy

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Basically, Her Hair is Amazing

So Jen and I, resigned to being lazy, were just flipping through the channels this evening (I grabbed the remote after she made me watch CSPAN2 for an hour. Well, I guess since she was interviewed on it, it was okay. But still. CSPAN? 2? Why do we need two?). We settled on TLC and a show about a family building their own house. It was called 16 Children and Moving In. Yes, sixteen children.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar live in Arkansas and have fifteen children with one on the way. They've been renting a house while building their dream home... for the past three years. It's going to be 7000 square feet or something ridiculous like that, and the whole family's been pitching in. The children participated in any way they could - the older children guided the younger ones, and private contractors were happy to explain what they were doing so that the children could really get some hands-on experience. It was pretty cool, actually. You know, if you like homeschooling...

Anyway, cut to the first commercial break, and it's an advertisement for

Comedy gold.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Total Excitement

After shopping ALL DAY with the bride-to-be, I pretty much passed out (heh. I originally typed "assed out.") on the couch. I had some Thai leftovers from Wednesday night, so that was a welcome change from the T-giving fare. I attempted to watch season two of Arrested Development, but slept through all but one episode on the first disc. Party Animal, I am.

Housemate Jen got in at about 10. Drunk. Off. Her. Ass. Yeah, she'd been drinking since nooner and assed out at the bar, apparently. Heh. Assed out.

I fell asleep again, waking up at 11:15. That's when I finally escaped from my cocoon of blankets and went to bed.

When I awoke this morning, I called K-10 (I think that it was about 4:00 p.m. in London at this point). After about five minutes into the conversation, I realized that I was talking on my phone. In my bed. It was amazing. LOVE Verizon. Headed to E's later on and watched a very confusing, very depressing movie, and headed to bed. Party Animals, we are.

Wow, that was a dull post. I'll try not to do that very often...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday and Satin & Lace

I have never gone shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, and during December, I avoid the mall like the plague unless it is absolutely necessary. Even then, I always set a plan of action and I do not lose track of the goal: to get in and out of the war zone as soon as humanly possible.

But when Merrick asked me to accompany her and her sister, Gwen, to some bridal shops on that day of days, I didn't even think about the potential scariness - I am too excited and happy for her and Gerald.

She found the dress at the first boutique on our list - it's classic and graceful and very, very her. I would have taken pictures, but we weren't allowed (boo), but I also wouldn't want Gerald to stumble upon a rogue picture by mistake.

Then, it was time for bridesmaid dresses. Merrick chose tea-length dresses in a chocolate color, and is still deciding between two styles. Either would be a lovely choice, really. Gwen looked great in the few styles we tried on, but the intermediate length of the sample dresses made me look hilarious (like how capri pants look like regular pants on me? Yeah, that's how the tea-length dresses looked. I'm excited to be fitted correctly so I look normal!)

It was an exhausting, but exciting day!

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Preparations for the day of gluttony began on Wednesday night - Jen and I started by cutting up two loaves of bread for the stuffing. Soon, Jen's friend Jenny joined the mix, as did alcohol:

These girls are crazy!

Getting up early to get the twenty-one pound turkey in the oven on time was a bit of a pain with a wicked hangover, but I did my best. Thanks to Aleve, my headache was soon gone and the aroma of stuffing and bird filled the air.

Mmmm... bird.

The bird went in at 10:45 a.m. and didn't see the light of day until 6:30 p.m.

By early evening, we had fourteen people crammed into the tiny living room while the wine and other spirits were a-flowing:

Who brought the scotch, by the way?

When the monstrous bird was finally done, it barely needed to be carved as the meat was literally falling off of the bone:


It was a great night - I'm so glad that we were all able to spend Thanksgiving together, and I love that it's turning into a tradition. Love Actually, anyone?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


On a cold, rainy Wednesday, I tried Oya, a fairly new Asian/French fusion restaurant in Chinatown. I decided it was time to experiment at last and try sushi for the first time. And let me tell you, Oya did not disappoint.

I opted for the Spicy California and the Tuna Avocado. The Spicy California was very good, and I was intelligent enough not to add any extra wasabi (I am a bit of a wuss in the spicy department). The Tuna Avocado was heavenly. Each level of flavor was immediately apparent - the tuna was wrapped in seaweed, then surrounded by rice, and finally held together with thin strips of perfectly ripe avocado.

I am excited to branch out and try new kinds of sushi as I stuck to the fairly safe options this time - a wise choice (I think) for my first sushi experience. What's next? Eel? I'll have to make myself try new ones, or else I'll be ordering the Tuna Avocado for ever!

It's funny - my parents both love sushi and my mom makes it every so often, but I could not be bothered to try it. Now? I can't believe that I have had sushi missing from my life!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's OVER!

I finally did it. It took forever, but I did it. The breakup that took longer than Britney Spears' marriage (the most recent one, not the Vegas one):

I've dumped Cingular.

Granted, Cingular was sometimes good to me. Every so often I'd get semi-acceptable service, and those, my friends, were the golden days. Most of the time, I would have to teeter on the back porch and try to crane my neck toward the sky to get even a slight increase in reception. Walking home from work was always a blast: dead spots everywhere, words cutting out left and right... And lately, it was taking two attempts to make each and every call. It would tell me that the call was connected, but I wouldn't be able to hear anything.

I tried four different phones in my house, and the most recent one was the worst: if I barely stepped into the kitchen? No signal. Damn microwave interference. Or... something.

And so, I am now a super happy Verizon customer. It's amazing - I can actually talk on the phone in my bedroom! Crazy, isn't it? Poor K-10 had to tag along as I tested the phone in each room. "Can you hear me now? Good!"

Monday, November 20, 2006


It was quite a weekend: a little bit of Bond and a little home improvement project, too much junk food and lots of sleep. Even after this, it was a good couple of days.

Casino Royale was pretty damn good. I'm no Bond oficianado by any means, but I have seen a few Bond films - mostly those starring Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. Goldfinger is one of my favorites mostly because of the script and because I watched it with my Dad. "Do you expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die." Awesome. Casino Royale explores the beginning of James Bond's career as a 007.

Daniel Craig was brilliant, yet gritty as the newest Bond. He's a beautiful specimen of a man, and I never for a moment doubted his ability to play 007. And critics were silenced as well, once they got out to see the film.

See it - it's fun!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tasty, Tasty

On my way to work the other day, I read a very depressing article about how eating red meat regularly can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. Fantastic! Why couldn't it be something like... brussel sprouts? Or cauliflower? Nope, it has to be that lovely steak.

I'm just wondering if it'll be discredited - for a while, margarine was considered to be WAY better than butter and now health officials say that butter tastes better, so have that instead since they're both about the same amount of 'bad for you.'

It reminded me of a Lewis Black stand-up routine: he was (and I am paraphrasing here) "sick of the government telling us that eggs are good! And then, eggs are bad! And, eggs are good! And, the yolks are bad, the white part is okay... make up your mind!" So I searched for it on YouTube to no avail. I did, however, find this gem from the same stand up special. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

I love Will Ferrell, no matter how over-the-top he can be, so I knew that I'd be seeing Stranger Than Fiction at some point. I was so very pleasantly surprised with this film. I mean, I had read a few reviews (all glowing), but I thought that Bewitched looked promising, too, so who knows.

I heard an interview (on NPR? I can't remember) with Will Ferrell a bit ago, as he was doing press for this film. He was humbled to be included in a cast that boasted Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson and was more than a little star-struck. Rightfully so. However... His performance as Harold Crick completely erased all doubts that he could play a dramatic role. He was amazing - his facial expressions alone were a far cry from the animated characters for which he is so well known.

Harold is a pretty normal guy. He's an IRS auditor who lives his life in a very mundane, counting-every-toothbrush stroke kind of way. He's a genuinely nice guy, but he's kind of... well, boring. Until the morning he wakes up and hears his life in narration. In his head. A voice no one else can hear. And yet, it's surprisingly accurate.

Emma Thompson is Kay Eiffel, a reclusive author suffering from writer's block. Thompson - easily one of the best actors EVER (her performance in Love Actually should be more than enough of an example to back up this statement) - surprises no one with her magical performance in Stranger.

And Dustin Hoffman. A literary theorist and professor. Amazing. Harold pleads for his help.

Maggie Gyllenhaal was absolutely perfect as an anarchist baker, and the bit part of Dave, Harold's work friend, brought Tony Hale (Arrested Development) to the screen. Love.

That's all I really want to say for I fear giving away anything.
This film was delicate, humorous, and deeply touching. Though a little slow at times, it never dragged. Instead, I eagerly awaited each scene. The literary allusions and originality in this film made it so very worth while. While Hollywood continues to produce mediocre remakes, this film was fresh and good. I loved it!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Well, that was a crazy weekend. For all pics, visit them here.

This picture cracks me up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Poodle Skirt

My niece, Alexis, on Halloween. A very tiny 50s girl. Aw!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's a Foggy Day in the Neighborhood

Tuesday was crazy foggy, but at least it wasn't raining (like Wednesday). The weather's been a bit bizarre, but nothing we can't handle, right? It's not like there's two inches of snow on the ground and the federal government is closed for the day, after all.

I do like waking up to fog - I think it's eerie and neat.

And even though the weather today was absolutely amazing, escaping the city this weekend is going to be a nice change. Plus, my day off falls on a federal holiday, so I get Monday off, too! Fantastic! Dewey Beach, here I come!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Congratulations, Merrick and Gerald!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Soup & Sandwich

I love me a good grilled cheese (did anyone else call it "girl cheese" when they were growing up? No? Oh, neither did I).

Chicken Soup and Girl Cheese... I mean Grilled. Grilled Cheese. Grilled.

Close up. MMMMMMM!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Brunchy Goodness

Jeanette and her roommates hosted a lovely brunch last Saturday up in the ghetto near Howard University. (Okay, so it wasn't any more of the ghetto than the area in which I live, so whatever). I made homemade strawberry muffins - an experiment. I now know that I need to add as many strawberries as humanly possible. Love the strawberries. The cinnamon buns were delightful and two mimosas before noon is the best way to start the weekend.

Mmmm... buns.

I love food!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I'm glad the tickets were discounted...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Visitor Experience

Today, Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post penned an interesting article concerning the new additions and orientation center at Mount Vernon, the home of our nation's first president.

Mount Vernon spent over $100 million to alter the ways in which their visitors experience the historic home and grounds, and I say "BRAVO!" I can't assume that everyone grew up with parents like mine, who took our family to museums, nature centers, and campgrounds rather than Cedar Point and Disney World, and neither can the educators and administrators at Mount Vernon.

I remember visiting Mount Vernon for the first time when I was about ten years old. My brother was seven. It was our first trip to the Washington, DC area, and instead of driving directly there, we stopped for a few days in Gettysburg and then Antietam before making our way to DC. Bloody battlefields? Don't be alarmed -- we were fascinated. We were excited to get to DC, of course, but museums were old shoe to us. We'd been visiting the University of Michigan's Exhibit Museum of Natural History in strollers, and I will never forget the spiral staircase or suits of armor at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Mount Vernon experience, however, was entirely new. My brother and I had never been to a historic site like that before, at least not on that scale. We were absolutely blown away by the size of the house, the furniture, the grandeur. Though what really caught our attention was the slave quarters, and learning that this great man owned slaves. That may have been the moment in which my love for history was born, realizing that my schoolbooks weren't telling me the whole truth. And where did I learn the real history? At this historic site, learning by doing.

But Kennicott argues that Mount Vernon has become, in a word, Disneyfied. He complains that the visitor feels "herded" through the orientation center "with air conditioning and electric lighting and all the other ambiance killers" before being able to visit the house itself. Maybe so, but I, for one, am happy that the staff at Mount Vernon are trying to reach the masses rather than shutting out history to only the educated and cultured.

I understand Kennicott's frustrations, but I find it difficult to sympathize with someone who doesn't seem to understand that museums have GOT to change with the times. If he thinks that Mount Vernon could thrive for a hundred more years with the same displays, he's as ignorant as the visitors with whom he's embarrassed to be grouped together. He and I may benefit from the old, tired displays and historic home experience, but not everyone will. I learned early in my museum career that the "experience" is the most important part - if a visitor leaves learning even one new thing, then they've done their jobs.

I think that people in DC (with the somewhat correct stereotypes of being educated, cultured, etc.) tend to forget - or just aren't aware - that many museum visitors are first-time visitors who don't know what they are supposed to experience. Maybe that sounds stupid, but we are in the minority and aren't necessarily a main focus when it comes to the design of exhibits.

"The one experience that is very difficult to have at Mount Vernon (and, to be fair, at most popular historic attractions) is a simple, unmediated, uninterpreted, un-air-conditioned meander through the Great Man's home." Maybe he's right - I haven't been to Mount Vernon in years - but I think that after having experienced the orientation center, with it's bright lights and air conditioning, the visitor will realize the contrast all the more after making his way to the house itself. (This is entirely formed from my experiences working and volunteering in stiflingly warm and musty museums and historic homes, so I know that contrast!)

The new facilities do sound huge, and maybe they will be too much, but I maintain that change is good in museums, and entirely necessary in order to remain relevant to the public. Imagine if museums were the same as they were in the early 1900s. Paintings hung on the walls from ceiling to floor with almost no open space, "cabinets of curiosities" crowding rooms with absolutely no explanation... Tastes changed, technology changed, so museums changed.

Man, I can barely see the ground from up here on this soapbox!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The D

AND Michigan remains undefeated? It's all too much... too much!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Remains of the Day

Kazuo Ishiguro can write. He paints pictures with his words, and he can develop characters in a way that wordier authors cannot (wordier?).

After reading Never Let Me Go, I was intrigued. Now that I've read The Remains of the Day, I'm hooked. I'm a fan. It probably helps that Remains is set in England, my favorite study, flip-flopping between the 1930s and about 30-40 years following. The Interwar Years are fascinating, given the political and social upheaval in Europe, and yet Ishiguro focuses on a butler, Stevens, who can have nothing to do with these events. His job is to care for the manor and its owner, Lord Darlington. Stevens strives to be the perfect English butler, doing all that he can to serve a man he respects and staunchly defends against any rumors of misdeeds or... worse.

One of the most interesting running themes in Remains is the focus on dignity. Stevens is deeply concerned with maintaining the highest level of dignity as required by his profession even if that means ignoring important life events and denying himself personal relationships with those around him. As he recounts his time as a butler, his painful realization that his existance was a wasted one is revealed and he comes to see that all that he has told himself over the years of his service have been veiled lies.

Like many reviewers have written, this is a book about repression. Repressed emotions, memories, and ideas, as well as the repression of change -- or even repression of the idea of change. Britons yearned for normalcy after the horrors of WWI, and Stevens is representative of the many clinging to the ideals of the past. Understanding British history is somewhat important, especially given the fact that Europeans in general were willing to do almost anything to avoid another World War, including the appeasement of a dictator whose power grew steadily as European leaders allowed him to do whatever he wished.

This book was wonderful, and now I can see the movie -- which I just discovered existed. Add another to the Netflix queue!

Of course, while I'm waiting for that to arrive, I'll be reading When We Were Orphans. I just can't get enough of this author.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I got home from work the other evening to find this in the kitchen:

It looks like my grandpa's beer.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Jen and I had a super awesome dinner the other night - well, is Mexican dip and Dr. Pepper dinner? Either way, it was good times: good food, Project Runway Season 1 on DVD, and Dr. Pepper. ALL GOOD. (And we watched Wendy Pepper! HA! I just got that. Oh, I crack myself up. Oh man, she looks insane in that picture). If we had been thinking, we would have made margaritas. Oh balls, why didn't we do that?

Heather's Mexican Dip

In a dish of your choosing, spread the following in this order:

Refried beans
Romaine lettuce, chopped finely
Fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely
Shredded cheese (Mexican blend, or whatever)
Salsa of your choosing (I like mild, but I am a gigantic wuss)
More shredded cheese
Grape tomatoes, halved

(Feel free to add sour cream at any point - I'm not a fan, so I don't include it!)

Eat or refrigerate immediately. Enjoy, my beetches!

The Historian

It took me some time, but once I got into The Historian, I didn't want to stop reading. Each time I closed the cover, I had the urge to read just one more chapter (I gave in on more than one occasion, and it didn't stop at one chapter). The story was so riveting that I seriously sat at work and contemplated what little white lie I could concoct just so that I could leave early and crack the cover once again. I suppose I could have brought it to work, but it is a bit of a monstrosity -- and in hardcover! Besides, I slack off enough as it is - adding a good book to the equation would be very bad.

I've read a little fantasy (mostly
Terry Brooks), Philip Pullman, and, of course, the Harry Potter series, but that's about as dark as I've gotten. I've never read Anne Rice, so the whole vampire genre was new to me. I don't think that this would really fit into that group, however, as it is more about the historian himself (or herself, depending on the character). Kostova grabbed me right from the start with her descriptions of these historians as well as librarians, and I found myself remembering the rather recent days of researching in a dark library or a dusty archive. It is really the thrill of the chase - wanting to find something that you just know is out there, but haven't quite discovered the best path.

Finding the correct path in research is the heart of this book. At the risk of making this sound like the dullest book ever written (I know that many people find the idea of research tedious at best), it is a thrilling, suspenseful novel that rarely drags - an impressive fact at 656 pages.

It is a story of a young American girl living in Amsterdam with her father: a loving, caring man, concerned only with her well being, and just as overprotective as any father, really. With him gone on a diplomatic trip, she discovers a book while snooping around in his study. Along with the mysterious book and hidden from view for years, she also finds yellowing letters addressed to, "My dear and unfortunate successor." Soon after, while traveling with him in Eastern Europe, she confronts him with her find, and he slowly weaves a painful tale set twenty years in the past. A tale of his search for his graduate school mentor in the darkness of Europe's past: A search for Dracula.

Kostova is a brilliant scribe, and I never once found myself skipping ahead or skimming paragraphs - something I am wont to do while reading, especially when the book weighs half a ton. Probably a remnant from my own days as a history student. (She's also a fellow alumna!) I loved her writing style and her ability to recognize when detail was necessary and when to hold off. Her intimate knowledge of historians and their quirks comes from direct experience, and her descriptions of those archives and libraries made me want to renew my reader's card at the Library of Congress.

I did encounter a slight problem in that I couldn't read The Historian too late at night, or I would end up having to watch something funny before I could even think about going to sleep. Over the few weeks it took to finish reading, I started with Clue and then moved on to Ferris Bueller before finally concluding with the first season of Scrubs.

But I
like to be frightened, and I think that I am not alone in this feeling! One only has to look to
Stephen King's sales figures to see our desire and need for our hearts to race and our brows to sweat. Perhaps the most chilling part of Kostova's carefully woven tale was the reader's realization that Vlad Dracula - the Impaler - could be alive today.

And now I've managed to freak myself out. Time for Scrubs!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's That Time Again

It's application time! Yay! More moron wannabe interns who can't seem to follow simple directions. I must praise them in that they did not try my patience this semester with inane paper clips. Staples, on the other hand...

I like to see how many I can fit on the staple remover -- or, "rejection claw," as I like to call it.

There were a plethora of staples! I used the rejection claw to extricate them from the mounds of paper, and let me tell you, I did so with attitude. Plethora. Now there's a good word. Overused, but good. I would say about half of the applicants used it at least once in their essays: "plethora of responsibilities," "plethora of activities," and "plethora of interests" were the most rampant. Great.

These potentials applied for Spring 2007, so there weren't scary amounts. That's on February 1st - the deadline for summer applicants. That's also, coincidentally, when my hair starts falling out. I guess it could be the weather... I don't know. It's the point when I tend to forget that I was once a hopeful intern applicant and start to really hate them.

Just to reiterate, I am not the one who makes the life or death decisions (the boss does that), but the ones with the fewest staples survived the first cut. Interesting.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Snail Mail

Dear Credit Card Companies,

When I receive mail like this, "Please Do Not Discard" means "Immediately Shred Into Tiny Pieces." Seriously, do you think that this is going to get me to open the envelope, much less apply for your plastic snare?

Now, if it read, "Pictures of Puppies Inside!" or "Open for Free Coupon For Willy Wonka Candy - Especially Bottlecaps," I would be much more likely to tear it open - I love Bottlecaps.

And what's with the polite, "Please?" You could be all, "Open Now or We'll Chase You Down With a Pitchfork. AHHHHHHH!!!!"

Work on that.

Love, Heather

Monday, October 02, 2006

Loeb's NY-Style Attitude

Merrick and I met for lunch in Farragut last week, and decided on Loeb's, a NY-style deli. My old supervisor used to take me there when I was interning at the Gettysburg Foundation several summers ago, and I remember liking it - who can screw up a BLT anyway?

Right, so Merrick had leftovers from her homemade dinner the night before, but she wanted to get chips and a drink. As I was paying for my BLT, the cashier looked at her (in line behind me) and said, "I appreciate that you are buying chips and a soda, but I cannot allow you to eat another restaurant's food in my restaurant." I think that we just were stunned, mainly because we had planned on eating in Farragut Square Park, but also because Merrick was a paying customer. Otherwise, she would have said something. We promptly left after explaining, but I won't be back. It was a decent BLT, but not worth the rudeness.

We're just going to assume that it was the Little Man Syndrome, because the restaurant had many more empty tables than filled, and Merrick had her food in a nice takeout container. I understand that bringing outside food to another establishment is not okay, but he made several assumptions about us and was a gigantic ass.

Maybe he'd had a bad day, or to many people had brought in food that day and we were the last straw. Are we just overreacting? Were we in the wrong, or does that guy need to chill? Or, was his attitude just the "NY-style" part in "NY-style deli?"