Archive for October, 2013

Life: Happy Halloween!

I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that I decided to be Grumpy Cat for Halloween. Here’s the making of Grumpy Cat:

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The make-up credit goes to my friend, Sandra, who did an amazing job! We celebrated last Saturday and while our neighborhood was quiet enough, there was a decent 90’s cover band at the local which kept us entertained. It beats trying to fight for taxis in the city. Here’s a few of us, all doing our best Grumpy Cat impressions:

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I think I won. Happy Halloween!

 

DIY: Grumpy Cat painted pumpkin

When I visited the pumpkin patch last Sunday, I knew I wanted to paint a pumpkin this year. Carving is fun, but it’s definitely not my forte; and while all of my craft supplies are in storage, I knew it would be very cheap to pick up everything I needed (like $6 cheap).

Of course I perused Pinterest for inspiration, but I ultimately found my guide while randomly google searching Grumpy Cat and stumbled across this fleece hat.

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I loved that it was simple and very paint-by-numberish.

Here’s what I started out with:

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  • Small cream pumpkin ($3.50 at the patch)
  • 6 AC Moore brand paint bottles ($0.59 each)
  • Small set of pain brushes ($1.99 with a coupon!)

Next, I lightly sketched the outline onto my pumpkin. I tried a pencil, but had to use a pen in the end. I tried not to draw full lines, assuming it would come back to haunt me later.

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And then I just started to fill in areas, allowing them to dry before painting anything else around them.

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One painful part of this project was the paint didn’t really adhere to the pumpkin as well as I wanted to. It could have been because my paint was $0.59 or because the pumpkin is slick. Either way, I was determined to make it work. So I just kind of dabbed in the small areas to fill it in and did several coats. For the larger areas, I did strokes but definitely painted them 3-4 times to get the effect I wanted. Here’s my first run at the eyes:

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I admit I was a little nervous this would quickly become a DIY fail, but a few coats later and I was up to this:

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I know the white doesn’t look brilliant here, but bear with me. I pretty much had to stop at this point because it was getting late and it was a good chance for it to dry overnight. The next morning, I did a quick touch-up on the brown around the eyes and 2 more coats of the white to even it out a bit. And finally, I put in the small details like the outline around the ears, eyes, and nose/mouth.

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I could have probably lined a few more areas, but I decided that less is more in this scenario. I know it’s not perfect, but I did say this was a DIY. In my opinion, it’s the small imperfections that make it perfect. So without further ado, my no carve Grumpy Cat Halloween pumpkin:

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I think I’m in love!

Life Lessons: The bottom line

It’s been almost 2 months since things got a little turned upside down. Some days are better than others and I find that I’m more in tune with everything; I feel everything. That couple walking down the street, songs on my iPod, words in a book, inspirational quotes on Pinterest – it’s all real and things easily get stuck in my mind – good or bad. I’m learning to lean into these feelings and to not run and hide.

I still struggle. A lot. And some days I feel absolutely pathetic and useless. Other days I’m surprised by my own laughter. Today, I was comfortably and/or awkwardly floating on that fine line when I stumbled across an article. I don’t know why I clicked, but I did and read about 5 Tell-Tale Signs You Need to Break Up. I quickly scanned and thought I’d wasted my time until I read #5 and as much I would never want to admit it, I do realize I wasn’t getting the love I deserved. I was definitely giving more than I was getting. So here’s their bottom line, for love and for life I think:

Work hard to be the best partner you can be, even if this particular relationship isn’t the right one for you. That way you can always walk away knowing you put in all you could and have no, or as few, regrets as possible.

So this is me slowly walking away (because I’m still learning to let go). No regrets.

Weekend review: DC bucket list

This past weekend, I put a big dent in my DC bucket list. Last we checked in, I had celebrated Oktoberfest in Reston with a few girl friends and this weekend, I visited the National Arboretum and picked fruit from a local orchard. I’ve even got the pictures to prove it!

First up, The National Arboretum. Located off New York Avenue, this little gem of plants and collections is probably unknown to most tourists and residents. I first learned about it from a friend who learned about it from her sister and while it’s free to visit, it is a bit out of the way. They certainly didn’t make this little retreat easily accessible for anyone without a car.

Of course, the arboretum is best during peak seasons for certain plants, but beggars can’t be choosers when you procrastinate and don’t think of things in advance, so I went ahead and made the trek to check it out. I can always visit again when certain parts of the park are in bloom. The most visited areas are the herb garden, the Bonsai Pavilions, and the Capitol Columns – which seem to be beautiful regardless of season.

I stopped off in the Bonsai Pavilion first, mainly because I love bonsais.

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Without sounding completely nerdy, my mind is still blown by all the ways bonsais grow and how they can be molded. Here is a compilation of my favorites:

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Look at the one that’s practically a tiny forest! And right across from the Bonsai Pavilion is the herb garden with everything from peppers to clementines, to covered walkways that just beg you to sit down and relax.

photo(233)I was slightly tempted to pick a clementine, but I refrained and then listened to little kids debate whether or not they wanted to pick one of the crazy spicy peppers. (They decided not to, in case you were curious).

Just on the other side of the herb garden are the Capitol Columns and probably the most iconic spot in the arboretum.

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It’s pretty much a photographer’s playground; there was even someone doing a modeling shoot at the top. After I saw these 3 main areas, I hopped back in my car to drive around the park. I could have walked, ran, or biked if I had known more but I didn’t have much time left in the day and wanted to see as much as possible. There are small parking areas at each collection which is very handy and keeps things orderly for visitors. I stopped into Fern Valley (slightly unimpressive), National Grove of State Trees, and finally the Asian Collections. There were more, but I decided not to stop in since I knew they wouldn’t be in bloom this time of year.

Maybe it’s my pending trip to Asia or maybe because I’m sure I was Asian in another lifetime, but this collection was my favorite. Filled with downward slopes and paths made from various materials, the Asian Collection looked out over the Anacostia (which if you pretend it’s not the Anacostia, it seems lovely). There’s also a nice little Pagoda you can explore:

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In all, I spent an hour an a half exploring the arboretum and while I definitely didn’t see everything, I think I sufficiently crossed it off my list – at least until the peak seasons when everything will be in full bloom. It’s definitely a little getaway in a busy city that lets you explore and enjoy the great outdoors.

Next up, Butler’s Orchard; because knocking off one bucket list item this weekend just wasn’t enough. On Sunday, my friend Kasie and I headed up to Germantown, MD and while we had originally wanted to go apple picking, neither of our schedules allowed it. Instead, we went pumpkin picking and enjoyed the Fall Festival at the orchard.

Neither of us realized the festival was as large as it was, but we had so much fun! There was a corn maze:

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And a giant slide:

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And of course, a pumpkin patch where you could pick your favorite pumpkin!

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I ended up with a small baking pumpkin and an even tinier white pumpkin to paint (hopefully, I’ll have that to share later this week!), but we did love the imperfect pumpkins that had big wart-like spots and weren’t fully orange with green speckles. Kasie and I chalked it up to character!

After our hayride out to the pumpkin patch, we also petted some farm animals:

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And took some fall cutout pics. We had to wait in lines with the kids, but it was totally worth it:

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We ended the day with pumpkin rolls (they were out of the apple cider doughnuts) and a cup of warm apple cider. Honestly, I knew I’d have fun at the farm, but I didn’t think I’d have this much fun. If you’re in the DC area, get yourself to Butler’s Orchard before Halloween.

So that was my weekend, which leaves me with only 2 more items on my DC bucket list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • American History Museum
  • National Arboretum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard
  • Oktoberfest

I think I got this.

Weekend review: Oktoberfest

As previously predicted, this weekend was a busy one when it came to my October adventures and overall 2013 goals. I finished my last hands-on animal behavior certification course and enjoyed bevvies at Reston’s Oktoberfest with a few friends.

It all started at a wine happy hour on Tuesday when one of my friends mentioned the Oktoberfest happening out in Reston. The other friend we were with just so happens to live out that way and since it’s often hard to coerce people that “far” out of the city, we all jumped on it. It seemed like a good idea to get out and explore, plus cross off another October adventure. It was an all-day event, but I think the rain kept most people away and since I was in class until 5, we didn’t actually head out until 7 or so. But that was plenty of time to explore the food vendors and try some new ales. There were even a few cover bands including 2U, a not-so-well disguised U2 cover band. Surprised, right?

All in all, it was a fun night out with friends. It took us a little while to get going as the crowd was an interesting mix of people, but it was definitely fun all the same. The cover bands were good, but it was the crowd that provided the entertainment. You never know who you’ll find in Reston.

I didn’t get too many pics of the bands or the scene, but I did snap a few with the girls.

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On the left is Janet – we’ve been friends since college (has it really been 10 years?) and on the right is Sandra. We’ve been friends for 2 years or so, but she’s good people; I’m sure I’ll be snapping a pic with her 8 years from now and saying…oh, 10 years already?

So that’s Oktoberfest off the list, here’s what I have left:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • American History Museum
  • National Arboretum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard (planned for 10/20)
  • Oktoberfest

Let’s hope the government shutdown ends soon so I can knock out the arboretum and botanical gardens next Saturday!

2013 Goals: Check in

Well, it’s October and I’m officially 30 days away from my big Asia adventure. I can’t believe how fast September passed, let alone the last 9 months so I thought I’d check in on my 2013 goals. I’ve been tipping away at them quite steadily and making plans to complete the others, but of course I did fall down a little in September.

As the old adage goes, Life happens when you’re busy making plans. So while I was lining things up to experience, life happened…in a big way. The best any of us can do is to find our feet again and to keep on walking, because life doesn’t end when you’re 29 and heart broken.

So while I’m accepting failure of my September goal/adventure, I’m not accepting defeat. I still did lots of great things in September. There was my visit to the MLK Memorial and Roosevelt Island. I got to see Bastille and Imagine Dragons live. And I’ve put my will power and heart to the test of finding my own path again.

Enough of that, onto more adventures! If you’ve been keeping track, I didn’t originally have anything planned for October. I figured something would pop up and as I suspected, it did. I created a NEW DC bucket list and it’s my October adventure to cross off as many things on that list this month. I’ve added a few more items and I’m setting the bar high; but isn’t that the fun of an adventure, you never know quite which direction you’ll take in the end. So here we are, the NEW bucket list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • American History Museum
  • National Arboretum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard (planned for 10/20)
  • Oktoberfest (any!)

Stay tuned for adventure updates, I’m fairly sure some of these will be crossed off this weekend!

Weekend review: Camping

It seems the last few weeks have been all about making myself busy, crossing things off the list, and preparing for Asia. So when a friend asked if I wanted to go camping this past weekend, I thought it would be something fun and different. Plus, the outdoor toilet situation would certainly prepare me for Asia. 🙂

On Friday, I met my friend Carman in Old Town and we drove out after work to Winchester, VA. It’s not the most breathtaking drive as you do hit the Beltway and part of Dulles toll road, but it was a fun little road trip that mysteriously led us to a winery about an hour from our campsite. Since we were both peckish and love a good wine, we stopped in to Bogati Bodega Winery in Round Hill, VA and of course opted for the tasting and the charcuterie/cheese plate. It was definitely one of those little road trip surprises that I’ll always remember as we sat on their patio listening to a live tenor sax player as we chatted and sipped our wine.

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A little later that night, we finally made it to our campsite and definitely pulled out the s’mores first thing. We couldn’t see much of the view that night, but here’s what we woke up to the next day:

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Fall is definitely on it’s way. After breakfast and organizing ourselves a bit, we went for a small hike around the area and attempted to find the “overlook” which was more on the side of disappointing than breathtaking. In any case, it was exercise for the day! After our hike, I found myself anxious and a bit flustered and it took me about an hour to realize that I was having a hard time relaxing and doing nothing. I guess that’s the thing about always wanting to do more, sometimes it’s hard to allow yourself to do nothing. But finally, I let go and was able to sit still in a chair for more than 5 minutes. The night/weekend was rounded off with some bison burgers, chicken apple sausages, more s’mores, and a few pumpkin flavored beers.

While I can say I love a good shower and a comfy bed, I do also love putting myself in a different environment and being able to find a sense of relaxation.

 

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