January 31, 2012

When was the last time you tried something new?  I mean something out of the ordinary.  Something that people even smiled and chuckled when you told them what you did?  

I read an article recently (now I can't remember where I saw it) that discussed how tweaking your everyday routine or mastering new tasks promoted a healthy brain. (Apparently I need to work on my brain since I can't even remember where I read this.)  The task can be as simple as brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand or engaging in an activity you have never experienced.

This past weekend, I did two new things.  As I was doing them, I didn't even think about them being new, but afterwards, I felt very satisfied that I had pushed through the tasks.

First: I drove Kern's truck to Old Town to babysit and PARKED it. *

Second: I watched a scary movie (Taken) with my roommates.

The funny part about stretching your brain in this way is that an activity has the capability to really stretch one person's brain might be an everyday occurrence for another person.  Perfect example: Kern driving his truck.  It is something he does all the time and doesn't think twice about it.  Most people love scary movies, but for me, it was a stretch to sit through...but I did it.

Funny thing was: after I drove the truck I had a great sense of satisfaction at my accomplishment.  After I watched the entire movie, it made me really think about the meaty issue that was depicted: human trafficking.

My conclusion: I'm going to try to continue stretching myself.  It's a good thing.   

*after lots and lots of practice

January 30, 2012

Pass the Article

Several months ago, one of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo, was discussing ways to beat the winter blues.  Joanna suggested starting an Article Club.  The idea behind it is simple: which group of friends has time to read a whole book per month?  Wouldn't it be more realistic (and fun) to pick an interesting article, read it and have a thoughtful discussion? 

January seemed like the perfect month to begin Article Club--an activity to look forward to after the busy holiday season.  My suggestion to the group was to read two articles per month: one that more "newsy" and one that kept the mood on the lighter side.

Laine was kind enough to host the inaugural Capitol Hill chapter meeting.  We met at her place last Thursday evening for a fun time of discussion.  Since she was the hostess, Laine chose our reading material.

We decided to come up with a name for our group.  Each person threw suggestions into the "ring" and after some discussion, the PTA was born:

Pass the Article

Delicious pigs in a blanket with Laine's homemade mustard dip!

Mini quiche 

We has lots of great name options!

Our lovely hostess, Miss Evans

My delightful roomie, Lee

Hopefully I'm saying something intelligent.  Either that, or practicing my finger puppet moves.

January 27, 2012

Welcome to the world, Hunt Maynard!

Today, one of my best friends became a mom!

Congratulations to Liz and Hunter!

I cannot begin to explain how excited I am to be an "aunt" to this baby boy:
Hunter "Hunt" Michael Maynard

7 pounds, 13 ounces
It's amazing to walk through life with a friend and see so many phases.  Liz and I lived on the same floor our freshman year, experienced college together, I was in her wedding...and now...we are celebrating her son!

My dear friends, I am so happy for y'all!  The more the merrier!

January 26, 2012

What is Zein?

Glad you asked.  Allow me to share:


Biochemistry a soft, yellow powder of simple proteinsobtained from corn, used chiefly in the manufacture oftextile fibers, plastics, and paper coatings.
a synthetic fiber produced from this protein.

The third definition, which dictionary.com failed to add, is:

3.  A 102 point word in Words with Friends

Kern gets mad when I play words that I don't know.  Well, I do know zein, along with plenty of biochem majors!  And now I have expanded even more people's vocabulary.

January 25, 2012

Every artist was once an amateur

"Every artist was once an amateur" 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I think of "artist" I often equate that with "painter" but thankfully this term can apply to a broad range of abilities and jobs.

As a "twenty-something" it is tempting to often feel overwhelmed because of the rapid changes that occur.  Graduate college. Find a job. Move cities.  Get an apartment. Learn to cook, shop, play on a budget.  And these are just some of the big ticket items!  There are thousands of small growth points littered throughout day to day life.

It is easy to look at older role models (which all young people should) and feel inadequate.  The important thing to remember is that at one time that person was experiencing similar struggles and trials and that is what helped him or her to become who they are today.

"Every artist was once an amateur" reminds me to keep doing the activities I enjoy, even when I make mistakes.  For example, I started painting my book case last weekend.  I've got the first coat on it and I'm nervous about implementing the distressed finish idea I have in my head onto the wood.  I need to muster up the courage to just do it this weekend...and if I hate it, I can paint over it!  Or...sometimes I get frustrated when my cooking doesn't turn out flavorful enough.  I remind myself to tweak my ingredients next time and try again.

It is the "amateur" moments that add up to equal experience.  How can you succeed if you don't even try?

January 24, 2012

Visiting Richmond, VA

Josh and Lee are getting married in Virginia, so my mom flew up this past weekend to help plan the rehearsal dinner.  Kern and I drove down to spend Sunday with them and see some sites around the city.

We started with brunch at Millie's - an amazing cafe featuring all kinds of special omelets. 

I opted for the "Benny" - eggs benedict on a croissant! 

There was a friendly dog outside of Millie's!
Josh and Lee took us to see their respective houses and we got to meet their roommates.  Lee's house is adorable--straight out of pinterest.  Lee gave us a driving tour of the neighborhood and downtown area.  We got to see where the rehearsal dinner will be held--an awesome restaurant called Urban Farmhouse

Richmond is full of beautiful old brick buildings.  A lot of the historical sites are very well preserved. 
We went to St. John's church, where Patrick Henry delivered his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in March of 1775.  (Another stop on our unofficial American history tour of Boston, Philly, and Williamsburg!)  St. John's is still an active church, but they also have a healthy tourism site.

It was really, really cold!

We ended the day by visiting Josh and Lee's church, East End Fellowship, which meets in the Robinson theater. I hope you will take a moment to read about how the church started and their amazing mission here.

Lee moved to the Church Hill neighborhood and worked as a teacher at CHAT and Josh eventually joined her and now works for Blue Sky Fund, a non-profit committed to getting inner city kids into the outdoors--taking them camping, fishing and hiking, activities many of us may take for granted but are once in a lifetime for them.  It was obvious to me how much of an impact Josh and Lee have made in the community by the way they talked about the people in their church, the activities that they selflessly give themselves to and the warm welcome that mom, Kern and I received just from being connected to them!

The service was moving and real--I could tell people were being encouraged and ministered to in the way the congregation interacted with one another.

After church we had time for dinner at Bottom's Up Pizza before hitting the road to return to DC.

The day went by way too fast, but it was more than worth it.  There is still so much more I want to see in Richmond...I can't wait to go back!

January 23, 2012

Celebrating Katie Korb

There's really no better reason to celebrate than a friend's birthday.  And...if you can stretch out the celebration into two weekends it is even more fun!

We had two parties for Katie Korb this year--the first get together was at Kern's apartment.  A crowd of us got together and watched football, Kern made jambalaya and Laura made a cake! 

Make a wish, KK!

Now cue a Madonna song...

This past Saturday night we dressed up in our finest 80's gear to celebrate the decade that Katie (and the rest of us) were born.  It had that good "college swap" feel, which was fun!

Katie Brenda the skier meets MADONNA!

I just don't understand why puff sleeves aren't in right now...

Laine has a neon bird on her ear.

Mary Ellis came from her jazzercise class.

Charles played pool with Cyndi Lauper and Madonna

Happy Birthday, Katie!

January 18, 2012

"The grass is greener where you water it"

"The grass is greener where you water it"

I saw this quote some time ago, jotted it down and forgot about it.  I’m not sure who coined the exact phrase, but a quick google search tells me that it is actually a book title—authored by a man named Tony Fadool.  I haven’t read the book, but I think the quote is worth sharing.

So…what does this mean to me? What could it mean to you…in your life?

January is a natural time for resolutions, new mantras and declarations of intent.  I’ve been reflecting lately on how 2011 was such a year of growth for me, and also thinking forward on how I can continue to grow in 2012.  One of my goals for the year is to really invest in the people who enrich my daily life.  I have been guilty of letting other obligations sometimes crowd out valuable time that should be spent serving, listening to and praying for my friends.  A big change for this year is that I am no longer the social co-chair for the Mississippi Society.  I have loved being in charge of events for the past two years, but it does take up a lot of time.  I hope to refocus my energies on watering the grass in my backyard.

I want to make an effort to connect with and serve those around me—and friends and family who live far away.  I want to support my co-workers better.  I want to be more available when friends need me.  I want to be the one to reach out and lend a hand instead of waiting to be asked for help.  I want to be patient and listen more.  I want to learn how to do tasks and travel at others’ pace 
instead of insisting on my pace.

Watering your grass to make it greener seems like an obvious task—sometimes so obvious it’s easy to overlook the patches that the “auto sprinkler” misses.  In 2012, resolve to water every inch of your grass personally.  Take the time to care for each blade.

Is there any grass that needs watering in your life?  Which of your relationships could benefit the most from extra time and love?

Wednesday's Quote

Each Wednesday I'm going to post a quote that I find inspiring and a few short thoughts on why the quote has meaning to me.

Air Quote Mittens from Kate Spade New York

If you have a special quote that you would like to see featured, please email me.

I would love to hear from you!

Happy Hump Day!

January 17, 2012

Three Kitties and Blood*

Several months ago, I decided to make an appointment with an internist to establish a relationship with a doctor in DC in case I was ever sick--I'm not one for those "quick clinics."  I was scheduled for my physical the first week of January and made the trek to Foggy Bottom to meet my new doctor, spill my family history and be on my way.  The visit went well--I really liked my new doctor and all of my vitals tested out fine.  The final step: give a few vials of blood for routine testing.

Part of my instructions for the physical was to fast after midnight the night before.  I didn't realize that I could drink water, so I only had a few small sips instead of the 2-3 glasses I drink in the morning--usually before 10:00am.  By the end of the appointment, it was nearing 11:00am and when the nurse came to draw my blood, nothing came out.  They tried both arms AND my right hand.  Nothing.  I was sent to sit by the water cooler and consume as much as I could, but still nothing would come.  The doctor mused that a combination of dehydration and the cold temperatures may have contributed to my veins not producing any blood.  Either that, or I had survived a vampire attack.

Since the latter seemed unlikely, we rescheduled an early morning for me to come in and have blood taken.

Now we're current: this morning I awoke to pouring rain and freezing temperatures.  Just the perfect day to traipse across town and be out and about.  As I fought my way up the metro escalator, I tried to remind myself why I love living the urban life so much and fantasized about having a driver pick me up and deliver me effortlessly to my appointment.  I digress...

I made it to the appointment where the nurse who helped me last time remembered exactly who I was.  I was escorted back to a room and the nurse promptly went for the vein in my right hand.  Thanks to my extra efforts to hydrate (water before bed and 2 glasses before leaving the house) and the fact that it was only 8:00am as opposed to after 11:00am...my veins were just bursting lovely red blood.

I'm not squeemish around needles.  I grew getting weekly allergy shots and I'm the first in line for the flu vaccination each year...but...around the third vile I started to sweat a little.  My focus shifted between clay models of the human spine to a fascinating poster of three kitties.  I settled on looking at the cats.  You can't see it from this poor quality photo (no Nikon in tow today) but the big cat has these rainbow colored whiskers...and I started to count them....

As soon as the nurse capped the last vile, I blurted out, "I feel ill.  I need to lie down."  I was cold and hot and  lightheaded.  The trio of kitties looked concerned.  The next thing I knew four nurses appeared, someone pulled the table out so I could put my legs up, another nurse ran for water, someone else was mopping my brow with a cool cloth.  I just keep apologizing for being so much trouble.

So, Happy Tuesday.  Just because it's not Monday doesn't mean it's going to be any less eventful.

After resting for a few minutes, I felt well enough to head back to work.  Thankfully, Trader Joe's is downstairs from the doctor's office so I made a pit stop there to get some sustenance.

*I dedicate this story to those in my life who love me through all of my medical maladies.
You know who you are. 

January 12, 2012

Toasting Archer!

Archer and Henry got engaged right before everyone departed for Christmas break.  Once we all returned to DC, it was time to celebrate properly.

A few friends gathered to toast Archer at my house last week.  We had yummy treats and champagne for the occasion.

What was left of the brie pastry...I forgot to take a "before" picture.

I used the Kate Spade china that Kern's family gave me for my birthday--it was a big hit!

Lee made a "CONGRATS" sign for Archer!

Archer and Carolyn

Laine entertained the group with a great story!

Archer and me

Champagne ready for toasting in my dessert glasses

"Here's to the Bride!"

Laine, Archer and Katie

This is the first of many times to celebrate Archer and Henry!

January 11, 2012

Happy New Year!

I realize I'm belated in posting all of my holiday happenings, but in the spirit of continuing that tradition...
here are some photos from New Year's Eve.

After spending the last two New Year's in Mississippi, Kern and I decided to come back to DC to ring in 2012.  We went to Chef Geoff's for dinner with Matthew, Charles, John and Lee.

Black and white photo: I know it's dark, but the lighting was weird in my apartment for some reason!

After dinner we toasted the New Year at Justin's in the Navy Yard.

Red lipstick looks great on lips...and cheeks!

January 06, 2012

Big God, Big Dreams

What are you praying for this year?  I hope this devotional will encourage you to dream and ask big.  I have been guilty of thinking of God as too small in the past--not being bold enough to really ask for great things because somewhere deep down I didn't think they could come true.

I want 2012 to be different.

"I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine.  Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish.  Ask my spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me.

Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered.  Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark.

The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My Power and Glory at work in the situation.  Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My Glorious intervention. 

Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life."

Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, January 6th

January 05, 2012

2011: A good year

Photo: Capitol Sunrise
I'm not usually one to characterize a year as "good" or "bad" because I think all years are a mix of happiness, sadness, growth experiences and trials, but...I may go out on a limb and say that 2011 was my best year thus far.

I changed my diet--started eating less meat and dairy and more greens and fruit.  I read several books and learned more about managing my finances.  I kept up my running with Capitol Hill Running Club.  I started doing pilates. I taught myself how to paint and distress furniture and then formally educated myself by taking a class.  I traveled to several new cities in the U.S. 

I treasured my relationships.  I built new friendships in DC with my wonderful roommates.  I spent time with childhood friends.  I celebrated dear friends getting married. I saw more of the world with my best friend and documented it with our camera

The word that keeps resounding in my head as I type is "blessed."  Blessed. Blessed. Blessed.

I'm looking forward to 2012...who knows, it may just have the potential to top 2011!
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