Happy hearts and happy bellies

Sitting across from my best friends at breakfast Sunday morning, I’m struck by how beautiful they all are and how lucky I am to have them in my life. Yes, they are all pretty women, I’ve always known that. But over the past year or so I’ve realized that my friends are all around beautiful people: they are strong, smart, funny, kind, driven, loyal, caring, comforting people and my life wouldn’t be the same without them in it.

In high school and through college I think I took my friends for granted–often opting to spend time Mike and his friends instead of my girlfriends.  It’s not until I graduated from college and moved away from them all that I realized how precious friendships are, how much girlfriends add to your life.

We had an amazing weekend together.  Planned about a month ago to celebrate Jordyn’s birthday and her return to the east coast (she moved from LA to DC in January), we were all so looking forward to the girl time. We each had our own reasons for looking forward to the trip, and I think it was exactly what we needed.

The girls got to DC on Friday night and the grown-up slumber party began with dinner at my apartment. (I made this.) Having us all around my kitchen table was a bit surreal. If it was in a movie a slow happy song would play as the camera slowly pans over each of our faces as we smile, throw our heads back in laughter, and raise our glasses for a toast. It’s crazy to think that we’re all adults now and our conversations focus on work, serious relationships, being moms some day, finances, goals, and dreams.

Saturday morning my living room was covered in air mattresses, blankets, and luggage just like my bedroom was in middle school when these slumber parties began. I made my favorite pancakes and we went to my favorite yoga class. We got back around lunchtime and Mike made us all homemade pizza. Then we just veged in our gym clothes for the afternoon, read magazines, books, took naps, watched a movie. Because we really didn’t have to do anything.  We just wanted to be together. 

We put ourselves together on Saturday night for a night out on the town. We had an 8 o’clock reservation at Zaytinya and after two sketchy cab rides we all arrived at our destination. We shared a few carafes of the Pom Fili (white wine, vodka, and pomegranate juice) and sampled a lot of menu items: salads, fritters, spreads, meats. We left dinner with happy hearts and happy bellies.

Next, we headed to POV at the W Hotel just a quick walk away from the restaurant.  We felt pretty baller walking in and when we got to our table I was so excited we were there.  POV, the rooftop bar, is one of my favorite places in the city and I’d been wanting to take girlfriends there for a while.  Unfortunately, our stay was short-lived.  As we began ordering our first drinks, the server said “did anyone tell you about the policy?” “No,” we said, “what policy?” “It’s a $50 per person minimum or you have to do bottle service.” WHAT?!?! Since we were all pretty full and not wanting to spend $60 on drinks alone, we left our table and headed back to my neighborhood. We had a drink at a neighborhood bar before coming back to my apartment, making Pillsbury cinnamon buns, and going to bed.

And so quickly it was Sunday morning.  Of course, I had to take my friends to my favorite breakfast place: Open City in Woodley Park. As we chat over coffee, I get a bit emotional at the joy of the experience and wish that I could be surrounded by these girls all the time.  These are girls I’ve liked since middle school but have come to truly admire in the past few years.  Luckily, the conversation quickly turns to when we can have another weekend like this and we brainstorm places we can travel together.

As I gave them hugs at the train station, I had to fight back tears.  I really hate to see them go.

Luckily, one’s still here for good and we’re already planning our next girls weekend.


Day One

January 1, 2012 was a good day.

We got up and relaxed and then picked up breakfast items at Starbucks.  We came back and made coffee in the mugs Mike got me for Christmas and had breakfast.

Then we had our money conversation where we figured out our budget, made some goals, and came up with a plan to monitor our variable budget lines: the tracker below.

Our current goals: allocate money each month for life events (i.e. friends’ weddings, Christmas) so we don’t have to put those things on our credit cards, and pay off the lowest of my student loans by the 4th of July. In addition to those two joint goals my goal is to pay off my American Express by April 1. (You can read more about our various accounts here.)

Our other new plan is to chat each time one of us gets paid about upcoming expenses so that we can stay on top of things and continue to be on the same page. Usually we’d just chat when the accounts were getting low, or after one of us randomly checked our online banking. This often left us frustrated and feeling like “we have no money.” But that’s a reactive way to deal with things and we don’t want to be reactive, we want to be proactive. Being reactive leaves you feeling out of control but being proactive will leave you feeling on top.

After our talk, I got in bed to read Catching Fire (the second in The Hunger Games series). I love laying in bed reading especially when it’s sunny out and the sun shines through the window. Of course I fell asleep.  Then I woke up to our neighbor talking on the phone and wishing someone a Happy Birthday! Like not OK. This happens pretty regularly (mostly at night when I get in bed at 9pm) so I figured it was a good opportunity to knock on the door and tell her.  She didn’t answer the door.

We had lunch and did laundry.  Folded it while listening to an old episode of the Dave Ramsey show.  Have you listened to this show? It’s crazy how much debt these people have paid off. Mike and I find it inspiring.

Then we headed down to the National Mall to throw the frisbee around. It was a warm day for winter, Mike was wearing shorts, and when my heart rate started to get up after a few good throws and catches, I took off my jacket.

Sometime in the last two years, Mike and I started throwing the frisbee around. I’m not sure why but I’m so glad we did. Mike really likes to play sports, any type of sport, and when we throw the frisbee around I feel like his buddy.  It’s also exercise, I can get a pretty good sweat going and feel my heart pumping. And it’s a good time for us to chat. When we lived in our old apartment, we’d walk up to the mall and toss it around on the lawn in front of the Capitol. Now that we live further from the Mall, we’ll have to make more of an effort to get down there to do but I really hope we do that more.  Why not take advantage of the great city we live in?

We stopped at Pinkberry on the way home for a light snack.  And then hit the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner.

We made a butternut squash calzone , using the filling from Jessica’s stuffed shells, with a gorgonzola cream sauce on the side. OMG was this good.  I think Mike almost died of satisfaction.

Then we watched Crazy Stupid Love.

January 1, 2012 is reflective of a lot of things I hope the rest of the year will be filled with: productivity, fun, quality time together, creativity in the kitchen, and relaxing time. We were out and about but also home. We were productive but also had time to play.

I’m really hopeful for 2012.  I think it’s going to be a great year.

I’d love to know:

How did you spend January 1, 2012?

We found a little Christmas

I think we all have two options: you can control your mood or you can let your mood control you. I often fall victim to my moods–like a few weeks ago when I literally was in a grumpy, tired, unmotivated, blah mood until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

This weekend I had two experiences where I decided what my mood would be instead of letting my feelings take over. It made me feel really powerful and happy (because I obviously chose a positive mood). I hope that by sharing these experiences, you may be inspired to choose your mood the next time you’re in a crappy mood.

After work on Friday I was super motivated to sit down and put the finishing touches on our wedding album before meeting friends for dinner. I walk in the door of our building and head to the elevator when who do I see coming up the stairs? Mike.  “What are you doing?” I ask. “Doing laundry.  I found another bed bug.” My first thoughts: “You’ve got to be kidding me.  Why are you looking for bugs?” I was kind of angry.

I head to our bedroom, asking Mike where he found said bug.  I’m fuming as I lift the mattress to look for others but then decide “I’m not going down this road. I’m going back to my positive and motivated mood and will finish our wedding album.” Two hours later, I sent edits and approvals to our photographer, checking off a big to-do that’s been on my list for months. I was so excited, relieved, and felt accomplished.

Saturday, Mike and I planned to get into the Christmas spirit by going to the mall, going to see the National Christmas Tree, and watching a Christmas movie while making gingerbread men.  We head to the mall to start our Christmas shopping.  Within an hour 30 minutes, I’m overwhelmed and tired and, aside from two small Haagen-Dazs ice-creams, we haven’t bought a single thing.

Instead of the holly-jolly spirit we intended to get from the mall, (I know, what were we thinking??) I feel more like the grinch. I’m ready to call the whole day off and go home. We decided to go into one more store before heading out.  We end up purchasing one gift, so that makes us feel successful but I’m still kind of exhausted.  When we start discussing the logistics of paying for our Christmas gifts like which account we’ll use, I say something to Mike, he doesn’t understand exactly what I’m saying and I snap at him in the middle of J Crew saying something to the effect of “What, am I not speaking English??” He decides to wait outside.

As we walk to the car, Mike says we can just go home if I want to, and that at this point, it probably won’t even be dark when we get there. I consider it as I pull out of the garage figure that by the time we get there and find parking, it probably will be dark.  But I’m so tired and kind of just want to go home.  And then I decide no, I can turn my mood around.  We’re going to see the tree!

We found parking pretty easily and Mike suggested we stop to get hot chocolate for our walk. “My treat,” he says. We stop at Caribou Coffee for a hot chocolate, and then walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House and Treasury making our way to the Ellipse, the site of the National Christmas Tree. As we were walking back to the car Marine One flew overhead and landed on the White House lawn. It was so cool!

We picked up pizzas from a place in our old neighborhood, came home and watched Home Alone while we ate our pizza and drank our favorite wine. What could’ve turned into a really sour day ended up being exactly what we hoped it would be.

date night at the nationals

we had a really nice date at the nationals game last night.  we arrived to a sunny stadium around 4:45.

doesn't he look handsome?

i was not prepared for the sun because it looked like this for past few days in DC.

it was really warm when we got there and i considered getting a t-shirt to change into because i was wearing a thick sweater.  i walked into the team store and realized my allegiance to the philadelphia phillies when i got anxiety at the thought of buying another team’s t-shirt.

i didn’t get a shirt.

i’m sure you’re wondering why we got to the ballpark at 4:45. we had tickets to batting practice and got to go down onto the field to watch the teams warm up.  it was pretty neat but we were totally out of place.  the other people that were down there were dressed to the nines in nationals gear and were whipping out sharpies and baseballs for autographs.  and there mike and i are kinda standing back, wearing normal clothes, probably looking like we’re too cool for school.  though now that i think back on it, there was a group of women hanging around that weren’t geared up either.  and they were wearing heels.  i mean hello.

it wasn’t our team but it was cool nonetheless and we did get to see jayson werth up close so that was exciting for 45 seconds.  i was joking with mike that if it was the phillies he’d be going nuts.  he was yep and so would you: you’d run up to chase and say “chase me utley.” uh, no.  i don’t think so.  that’d probably be mike.  (but after googling him to remember what he looks like, i may retract that statement.)

after batting practice we did a lap around the concourse, got a pretzel, then some beers and stood at a table overlooking the field.

i love that part of the park overlooks the river

after our beers, it was time for some food. shake shack at the ball park, yes please!




we split a burger and cheese fries.  they were sooo good.

we sat at a high top table and just ate and relaxed.  it was really fun.  i’ve never been to a game that early before to hang out and enjoy the park and the weather.

then we went down to our seats for the first few innings.

we went to get a snack at the end of the third inning and after i waited in the shake shack line for 20 mins to get a milkshake, we decided just to head home.  before i got in the shake shack line, mike got this:

yeah, i know.

on our way out of the park, mike stopped to hit a home run.

september date night number 1: complete.

a national treasure

we went to the national cathedral this weekend with mike’s parents, my in-loves, and it. is. incredible. stunning both inside and out.  

i’ve been appreciating the outside of the cathedral since we moved to the neighborhood last month but i hadn’t been inside until this morning.  it really is magnificent. every time i see a building like this i’m awestruck thinking about how it was built. like how did they do it?  it’s no wonder it took almost 100 years to complete. mike and i agreed that it reminds us of notre dame: grandiose in the gothic style common in many cathedrals to draw the eye upward toward God. 

there is so much history in the intricacies of the cathedral, religious stories and history stories told through the stained glass and the tapestries.  it is fitting that the national cathedral contains stories and materials from all over the country.  and every detail is intentional. 

the cathedral is truly a national treasure. if you’re ever in dc, i highly recommend you visit. it is literally right in our back front yard and i hope to spend a lot of time there from now on.