Wednesday, October 28, 2009

time to fix the ceiling

While I was at home over Christmas of 2007, the apartment upstairs developed a leak in the toilet seal which destroyed a patch of my bathroom ceiling. Clearly, I was not responsible for the damage and the woman who lived up there had it repaired. Well, it wasn't exactly a lasting repair. About a year later, the ceiling began to crack and sag. After about another 10 months, the ceiling looked like this -

After beginning refinancing processes and having the appraisal done, we decided to have it fixed. Why should we wait until we put it on the market? We should be able to enjoy not worrying about the ceiling falling down on us.

In progress... it sounded like glass falling down as he took all the damaged plaster down. He had the door closed the whole time.

He came back the next afternoon to sand, prime and paint the ceiling. It looks great!

The wallpaper, however didn't fare as well - it was pretty dirty after and the parts of the wallpaper that need to be fixed were more obvious.

this is the worst suspect which normally hides behind the curtain.


Back by popular demand - NoVA of ZTA's annual Lobsterfest at Clyde's in Mark Center. Many thanks to Vicki for organizing.

Suzie modeling this year's leftover Think Pink T-shirts before dinner.

Will and I and Vicki are all set for our lobstas!

tools of the meal

Prepare to be eaten lobster!

21 October 2009

TJSH aka homecoming part 2

The night after going to the homecoming game, Will and I did something that can be interpretted as kind of dumb - we went out to dinner. We'd spent most of the day at home hiding from the rain and doing chores so we decided to get out of the house and go to mass and dinner.

We chose to go to Tokyo Japanese Steak House in the north part of Old Town. We got there and it wasn't busy in the slightest. In fact, this is what our table looked like throughout our dinner - just the 2 of us at a hibachi table.

Our chef gave us a decent show even if he was a little off his game and dropped the spatula on the ground and had to get a new one. Here's a few shots of him doing his thing.

filling up the onion tower and setting it on fire!

The food was great! Ginger soup and salad to begin.

Then steak and scallops for Will and steak and shrimp for me. That's my half-eaten plate below.


But the best part was when two dozen high school kids came in as our chef was almost done preparing our dinner. First we only had 2 tables full in the same room with us but then the other table next to us was clear so they moved the third table-full there. We were surrounded! I don't know how Liz does it - they were SOOOOO loud! We finished up as quickly as we could after that.

All in all a great meal and we'll try to go back there with friends.

24 October 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hayfield homecoming 2009

I pretty much hate football but Will likes it though the lower down the food chain the better, i.e. he doesn't like NFL, loves his Ags but loves high school football. Ever since Liz became a high school science teacher at Hayfield Secondary, we've been her guests at the homecoming football game (and a basketball game too). Will gets to watch football and Liz and I gossip about her students, other teachers, and parents - everyone wins!

This year was a little different in feel because the football team is winning this season and apparently the kids did a great job with spirit week. As part of spirit week, Liz participated in an event that precipitated her youtube debut - check it out here.

Here's a few pictures (I really should have taken the fancy camera) -

Apparently this was the first time in 4 yrs that the mascot had been used.

They also have a parade in which this year the juniors got the shaft in favor of the seniors. Those pictures didn't come out at all.

23 October 2009

sighting at the DOT

I walk past the "new" Department of Transportation twice a workday so even though I haven't stopped to look at every odd "History of Transportation" thing that they put out on the sidewalk and sides of the building, I've taken note of all the big bits and pieces they have on the sidewalk.

A few months ago I headed into work and noticed that perhaps something was wrong with one of them. Take a look -

Clearly, this is a bit of railroad track and a cart-thing (I knew I should have taken a close up of the sign) and it's supposed to sit on the tracks.

The question then is: how did it get off its tracks? My guess is punk kids.

The second question: why haven't they fixed it? It's been like this for so long that I actually remembered to bring my camera to work one day to take pictures.

Monday, October 26, 2009

6 things...

Disclaimer: this in no way indicates that we are currently trying to have a kid but they are in our future.

So I was trolling around on the interweb last Friday and stumbled across this article/blog post that I thought was interesting (and plays to my love of lists), 6 Things to Do Before Having Kids. Let's see how we're doing.

1. Travel as much as you want and can afford. Well, we've been married for just over a year (and together for almost 4.5) and we've already been to 4 countries (and we hope to add at least one more next year) and 19 states (soon to be 20) together so I think we're covered on this one.

2. Go out to dinner to your heart's content. We go out to dinner all the time but we might try to be more conscious of going to new places instead of same ol', same ol'.

3. Enjoy, and appreciate, sleep. You don't have to tell either of us twice to sleep!

4. Work your butt off--hopefully in a career you love. This is the one that I just can't say that I'm doing - mostly because I've never really be interested in a career persay. I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up one of these days.

5. Be a little selfish (get massages, splurge on the shoes, do stuff for YOU). No problem. My recent trip to NJ is evidence of this.

6. Get in the best shape of your life, if possible. I'm trying!!

So I'm thinking - so far, so good!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

brunch with armstrongs!

We try to get together with the Armstrongs for a nice meal, try a new restaurant, catch up.... Everyone's busy so we don't get to do it as often as we would like but we try. So on Sunday we'd made plans to meet the Armstrongs at Art & Soul, a restaurant Will and I had decided we wanted to try after watching Top Chef: Masters because Chef Art Smith, the chef owner is hilarious. We cancelled and then were back on that same day and the Armstrongs just went along with it - thanks guys!

The restaurant is actually in The Liasion Hotel so that was kind of a knock against it for me but it had a nice feel to it. The menu made it hard to decide - lots of yummy sounding Southern choices. But in the end I think the food didn't really live up. Susan didn't like her fried seafood basket (I just tried to look it up only to find that the menu online is not the menu we were given) and the eggs in my benedict were more soft boiled than poached - I like a good benedict and the eggs should be runny. The boys seemed to do better with Chicken and Waffles for Will and Chicken Fried Steak for Tim - though I don't think Susan was impressed with the grits.

Ah but hanging out with Reagan who's getting so big made it all worth it.


So.... anyone figured out yet that I reeeeally like lists?

It's like every other post is or contains a list. I guess it's just how I organize my thoughts. I do dream up blog posts for a while sometimes before writing them so they tend to turn into lists. My planner is covered in them. I pretty much can't function without any number of lists.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

shopping for a church

I am a practicing Catholic and went to Catholic school for a really long time - an entire decade, in fact. I lovingly and jokingly call my wonderful husband a heathen because he doesn't exactly share my beliefs. He's super supportive and has been going to Mass with me regularly since we got engaged, had to deal with 3 separate priests just to marry me (including a nitwit, a distant relative who married us and another for premarital counseling), and offers up helpful opinions as we "shop" for a church.

I grew up in the South where Church is a little be more relaxed, friendly and not nearly so conservative as this lovely Arlington diocese that we happen to live in. The conservative nature of the diocese actually played a role in our decision to get married in NJ. I, with and without Will, have been trying to find a church that I like in the area for quite some time. Here's a run down of the ones we've tried.
  • St. Mary's in Old Town - they get a plus for being the closest church with the most masses and it's just pretty. However, the priests there tend to make you feel bad about being human, particularly being a modern human being. I have never heard so many homilies about abortion in the nearly 30 years I've been going to church as I have going there. The congregation is also just very homogeneous and snobby, in my opinion. I used to go with a group to volunteer at the DC Central Kitchen but I don't think they go anymore. They also have a priest there that we simply can't understand a word he says.
  • St. Agnes in Cherrydale - great church that I used to go to all the time because it was around the corner from where Will used to live. It's even where we did our pre-cana with the priest. But it's just too far and they don't have an evening mass.
  • St. Charles Borromeo - also far because it's in Arlington and I've only ever gone to the Sunday 6:30 mass which is the mass for all the 20-30s in the area but it's packed every week. While I've liked the priests, it's way far out there on what I like to call the "hippy-dippy" scale with the music and whatnot that I can't take it.
  • Blessed Sacrament - the priests and music are decent. Father Jaffy is great (he led our day long pre-Cana) but you never know if you'll get him and we never have. The problem here is an architectural design flaw in which the floor is sloped to the point where you feel like you're going to tip over.
  • St. Louis - this church should also win due to proximity but, oh my gosh, what a joyless bunch of priests they have over there. Even when preaching about joy - he was joyless. There's also an architectural design flaw to this one too wherein you can't hear the poor girls singing at all.
  • Good Shepherd - I actually heard about this one from my boss. It's a little further away down at Mount Vernon but it's not too far. The congregation seems very happy, diverse and giving, they have 4 priests in residence and even a deacon, so far so good on homilies. We've only managed to make it to the Sunday evening mass which is rather hippy-dippy but not terrible. There are signs that choosing a different mass could make this one a winner. finally.

Monday, October 19, 2009

first anniversary

We'd had the thought of going to visit Fallingwater in Pennsylvania for our anniversary but we seriously dithered about it so long that there weren't any tickets left for in-depth tours. So that was out the window. This left us without a plan for our long weekend - turns out we were geniuses for getting married both on a Friday making our first anniversary a Saturday and on a holiday weekend meaning we'll have a 3-day weekend within a week of our anniversary all the time!

We came up with a basic plan of doing some of our favorite things around town, getting a nice dinner and maybe catching a movie. And only doing chores on Monday (Columbus Day) after all the fun was had. We'd originally thought we'd go into DC on Saturday - our actual anniversary - but the weather made that idea terribly unappealing. So here's what we actually did:

Saturday aka "day for new things" - breakfast and gifts at home. My gift from Will turned out to be somewhat problematic which was my own fault because I didn't know that Tiffany's was no longer making what I wanted. As a result, our first stop of the day was Tiffany's in Tysons to find something - so awesome to have the sales lady open 4 different cases for me because, of course, the last option was the winner. Then we decided to try the Corner Bakery in Tysons Galleria - really yummy! - for lunch. Then we barely made it to Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse for an afternoon showing of Up! - amazing movie. I highly recommend it and the beginning turned out to be bizarrely appropriate for a wedding anniversary. By then we'd figured out that we had a theme of trying new things going for the day and decided to try a new restaurant - Jackson's in Reston - for dinner.

The food was amazing as we expected from the newest memeber of the Great American Restaurant group. Then it was home for Trivial Pursuit (I finally let Will win because I was 2 pies behind and it was getting late),
wedding champagne,

and the top layer of our wedding cake which survived surprisingly well.

Sunday aka "day for our favorites" - The weather was fantastic as we went into town with our new camera to go to the National Gallery of Art which turned out to be great because 2 new exhibits opened this day. Robert Bergman portraits in the west building and Jasper Johns: Working Proofs in the east building with a stop for lunch and our fav gelato in between the two. We even sat in on a lecture about the Jasper Johns exhibit.

The West Building - my favorite columns in town (they're not white!)

Will's gelato and the fountain in the cafeteria between the buildings

the light installation between the 2, the East Building

We would have loved to stop and check out the Solar Decathlon but the lines were ridiculous! I had to be content with taking pictures from the edges.

one of the houses and the planning board

We then headed home to get in some time shelf reading since I was going to be away the following week and headed to church as well - hippy dippy mass but it's better than nothing. Taco soup for dinner brought the day to a close.

as an added "bonus," they were doing track work at L'Enfant so we got some unprecedented signage.

think pink

Not only did we begin volunteering at the library which is interesting and mind-numbing at the same time (an aside: I'm doing fiction and have similar issues with people not understanding the alphabet and apparently misclassified books as Will does. I've also found that I can't do it without talking to myself. oops.) but I also got Will in on one of the events that I help out with every year - ZTA's Think Pink with the NFL.

In past years, I've enlisted Will's assistance in pinning pink ribbons to cards which is a horribly boring job that makes your fingers hurt after awhile. I, in turn, have woken up at the butt crack of dawn to meet my sisters at Clyde's in Mark Center to make balloon arches and then go to the FedEx Field to hand out the pink ribbons to fans at a Redskins game. I've learned a few tricks in handing out ribbons - mostly that you don't ask people if they want them, you just stand next to the openings in the jersey walls and hand them to people while they're not really paying attention. You'll find that most people won't even think twice and will just take whatever is handed to them.

Making balloon arches is a slightly more thankless task seeing as it's early, involves helium tanks, archline, latex balloons and small specific skills. I have learned that I hate tying balloons together (instead of tying each balloon individually, we tie 2 together and then twist 2 pairs to make a group of 4 - the basic building block of a balloon arch) so I've developed a knack for stringing the arch together. Because it's early, it can be hard to get volunteers to come out and we have to make 6 balloon arches by 8am. Since we were having the condo appraised the same day, I'd decided to only do arches this year and drag Will along for an extra pair of hands. He turned out to be really helpful in retrieving lost balloons from the ceiling being taller than everyone else there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Adventures in Shelf Reading

A week or two ago, we decided to volunteer at our local library. Give something back by putting our spare time to good use. (Plus it gets us off the couch and away from the TV every once in awhile). Truth be told, Marcy came up with the idea and I thought it sounded fun.

Fun? Yes. I worked in a library for a few months in college, so putting books in order kinda takes me back.

When we initially inquired about volunteering, a woman at the information desk became ecstatic and assured us that our services would be most welcome. However, on our first day on the job we learned that our library has quite a few helpers and apparently most of them have shelving pretty well covered. We may not get to push a book cart anytime soon, but we'll have our hands full with shelf reading.

It seems there's a good deal of improper shelving going on! I think most of it happens when patrons innocently return a book to the wrong place, but I'm not ruling out mistakes on the part of fellow volunteers. At times, I wonder if others are using the same alphabet... I'm also pretty sure several books have been misclassified, but before I go making accusations I'd probably better brush up on the ol' Dewey Decimal system. (I became more familiar with Library of Congress classification in my college days).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

where did the year go?

A year ago today, I married the best man to ever be in my life - surpassing my dear old dad if you can believe it. What is hard to believe is that it's been a year. It feels like just yesterday we were still working on wedding planning and now it's been 365 days of wedded bliss. And with very minor exceptions, it has been bliss. Together. Comfortable. Easy. Happy. Healthy. Oh so right.

But where did the year go? We must have been having fun for it to have flown by so fast, right? So what did we do with our first year of marriage?

We honeymooned in New Zealand to kick things off.

Sky Tower Observation deck - Auckland.

We spent Thanksgiving in Hampton with Will's folks and Christmas in New Jersey with my entire immediate family which included a trip into NYC.

Rockafeller Center NYC

We attempted to buy bedroom furniture - and failed while freezing our butts off.

hilarity ensued with this slippery animal print piece

We went to my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary party - so many examples of marital longevity to which to aspire - and celebrated my birthday in NJ.

We saw Avenue Q - amazingly hilarious - and Death Cab for Cutie. We took a quick last minute trip to Ohio and got to see a lot of friends and a UD basketball game.

We bought Will a new car - a 2009 Mazda 6 6-speed.

We went to Mount Vernon with Will's parents - they finally got to see where we live.

We visited my mom and her new knees but she doesn't remember us that trip, only the next one. Erin graduated from Fordham University - we didn't get to attend the ceremony but we got to go to dinner after and her subsequent pirate-themed party a few weeks later.

We planned a VA wine tour to celebrate Liz's 30th birthday and had a great time on it!

We played a lot of softball throughout the spring.

Will at the Texas State Society softball tournament.
me approaching home at CAN tournament.

I finished my MBA and we celebrated by taking a European vacation to Montenegro (visiting the Bonuras with the lovely Miss Galinis and Joe G), Austria and Germany.

Kolasin, Montenegro
Mondsee, Austria - part of the Sound of Music Tour

Munich, Germany - The English Garden

We visited Will's parents for Labor Day.

Will on the mower at Granny's.

We went out to Harper's Ferry, MD.

We also went to Oktoberfest at the National Harbor in the rain with Liz, Nicole, Katie and Shane.

It'll be interesting to see what year 2 holds.....