Sunday, April 29, 2012

weekending v.8

welcome to the shortest weekending post ever. I had a blessed past few days w/ friends in Harrisonburg, including a baby shower and a very mini Uganda reunion. What really sticks out, though, was the part when I was standing in an auditorium packed with people praising God. Some eyes were shut, some arms were outstretched, some tears were shed. But every single heart was touched - I guarantee it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

travel tips

My fabulous friend Amber, author of Newly Domesticated, asked me to write a travel-related guest post for her while she's touring Ireland w/ her husband and in-laws. Head over there to check out what I came up with - 5 Tips for Happy Traveling.

Happy Friday! I'm getting ready to head to Harrisonburg (yet again) for a weekend filled with good friends. Can't wait. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

guest prep

Ever since we moved in I've been thinking about how I can better cater to guests so they will have a comfy cozy stay. I find that the times I'm stressed about someone coming over are the times that I'm unprepared. With that in mind, I put together this checklist of basic guest prep, along with some ideas on how to go the extra mile. Some of these tips are ones I've read in magazines, but most come from watching and learning from my mom and sister- the best hostesses in my book!

Regardless of who is coming and how long they're coming, CLEAN THE BATHROOM. Beyond that, I suggest tidying up, dusting, vacuuming and spot mopping.

for drop-ins or day guests
- have something to eat and drink to offer them, even if it's just a water bottle and some goldfish
- check that you have plenty of TP and a box of tissues
- extra mile: homemade baked good or meal

for overnight guests
- clean the shower, wash the curtain liner if it's grimy
- put out shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush, a razor and shaving cream. leave the razor and toothbrush in a package, otherwise the guest might think they're yours!
- check that a toilet brush and plunger are somewhere in the bathroom
- make the bed with clean sheets and set out clean towels (if they're using a shared bath, put their towels on their bed so they know which ones to use)
- put an alarm clock and something to read by the bed
- make room in the closet for a few hanging items and stock it with hangers
- place an extra blanket at the foot of the bed or somewhere where the guest can easily locate it
- jot down instructions for the TV, the shower (if it's complicated) and any codes they may need to access- Internet, the garage, etc.
- check that you have tea and coffee supplies
- really mean it if you say "help yourself to anything." hide your favorite snacks if you must!
- extra mile: flowers by the bed

for extended stay guests (in addition to the prep above for an overnight guest)
- ask what kinds of snacks and drinks they like and purchase them
- ask if they have any allergies to pets, feathers, food, etc. and be as accommodating as possible (I got sick on our honeymoon because I slept on feather pillows)
- if they'll be on their own at all, provide them with a map of the area and a list of things to do
- put a hamper in their room and show them how to do the laundry
- extra mile: put together a little basket of potential necessities, such as a toothbrush, a nail file, Advil, etc.

I love the idea of a guest basket so much that I put one together yesterday. I plan on putting it on the guest bed or the nightstand and re-filling it as needed.

magazine, book of crosswords, bag of earplugs, lotion, sleep mask, notebook and pen, q-tips, sewing kit, bath gel, gum, shave gel, razor, sunscreen, chapstick, contact solution, mouth wash, wrinkle spray, toothpaste, brush, toothbrushes and tweezers

still to add: nail file, clippers and Advil 

UPDATE: the basket has been a big hit! I also set out two chilled bottles of water and the next morning my friend asked jokingly if he and his wife had to pay for the water.

Monday, April 23, 2012

it's back! weekending v.7

Yikes, I haven't done a weekending post since before I left for Uganda! I'm a day late, but yesterday was set aside for a blog swap. So - the weekend.

We woke up Saturday and realized we were out of coffee, so we drove over to Dunkin Donuts and sipped our coffee together while longingly looking at all the sugary treats. I met my new friend Kiniqua for lunch and walking downtown. I'm so glad I showed up hungry - we shared delectable beef empanadas and pork leg with rice, beans and sweet plantains.

our entree - pic by Adam Fried, from here
We dropped into a few shops along Patrick and Market. I bought a tinted green glass tumbler from my fav store to hold my toothbrush and toothpaste, and Kiniqua bought me two pairs of earrings from Vibrant Artwear. I was dying to explore Baker Park and Carroll Creek Promenade, so we kept walking until we were both hot, sweaty, tired and thirsty! I mapped our walk downtown and we were just around 3.5 miles. 

Carroll Creek - photo by Sam Yu, from here
I was tired and sweaty by the time I got home, but I ended up going for a long walk with Andy and our pooch. After that I was ready for a bath, pajamas and dinner. In that order.

On Sunday we decided to try the late service, because that's when the girls I met from life group go. It was so nice to see familiar faces, especially since we've only been to church twice! We had one of our favorite weekend lunches - red pepper and tomato soup and grilled cheese - and watched two fascinating 30 for 30 documentaries. Then I read and blogged while Andy played video games. I was hoping to have a more productive weekend, but Sunday was so rainy and I have to admit it was nice to be cozy on the couch all day.

Hope you had a nice relaxing weekend, too! Off to finish making dinner... broiled tilapia with coconut rice cashew rice and broccoli. Tomorrow I'm making black bean quesadillas (thanks for the blog tip, Kelly!) and then Wednesday I'm making crock pot potato soup. Can you tell I did some meal planning today?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

blog swap - A Marylander's POV

Today's post is brought to you from my friend Sam, the creative mastermind behind brights and grafs. Sam hails from East New Market, MD and moved to Harrisonburg, VA to finish college at Eastern Mennonite University. We met last summer when she joined the features staff at the Daily News-Record and now I can't imagine life without her silly facial expressions, witty humor and generous heart. I could (and should) fill a book with all of the emails we've sent each other. 

Since Sam is living in my home state and I'm now living in hers, we thought it would be fun to put together a home state questionnaire and swap blogs for a day. You can read my answers about Virginia here.

Take it away, Sam!
(and yes, she knows she's a Taylor Swift look-alike)

this captures my Maryland experience the best:
a catfish on the line in my dad's boat, sun setting on the Choptank River

1. What would you say are the best and worst features of Maryland?
The beaches are the best, of course! The ocean still is my year-round cure for heartache, stress, boredom...sounds crazy, but being landlocked makes me claustrophobic at times. The worst feature is that it takes so long to get anywhere. There aren't really any "walkable" cities, and it can take 40 minutes just to get between towns on Delmarva.

2. If someone came to visit for a day that had never been to your home state, what would be on the agenda?
We'd have a crab-crackin' feast at my parent's house, on my grandparent's old picnic table in the backyard. What's next depends on the friend's style: to Ocean City for soaking up the sun all day and hitting up the floating bars and dance scenes at night, or to St. Michaels or Annapolis for slow-paced window shopping, coffee, desserts, etc.

3. Do you consider yourself a Northerner or a Southerner?
I like to consider myself a Northerner. But it's taken me three years to shake my "Southern" accent. An occasional "wooter" and "dayd" sometimes slip. I'm probably the opposite of Laura: A Southerner with more Northern values and tendencies.

4. What scents do you think of when you picture Maryland in your mind?
That depends on if I'm picturing the coasts -- tangy with sand, salt, sweat, Dolle's caramel popcorn and Thrasher's fries -- or the back roads around my home, a marshy smell I'm not sure anyone but a local would appreciate.

5. What's one thing people from your home state do better?
Tourism. We've got Baltimore, Ocean City, Annapolis, and they're all very tourist-catered without forgetting the locals.

6. How would you describe a typical Marylander?
That's hard to define, since the Western and Eastern Shores are so different! But a Delmarva native is laid-back, much like a central/southern Virginian.

7. If you relationship with your home state had a theme song, what would it be?
Alright, I have several. "Electric Feel" by MGMT: I don't have a reason for it, just reminds me of summertime. And I know it's cliche, but everytime "Hometown Glory" by Adele comes on I almost lose it! Adele why you gotta be so soulful gurl. Also, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding makes me feel all wistful (even though it's really about the 'Frisco Bay).

8. You're defending your state against a hater: what sharp comeback do you use to stand up for yourself?

9. What flavor(s) come to mind when you think of your hometown?
My mom's generations-old crabcake recipe that no one else can do right. Saltwater taffy. Black-eyed peas with vinegar. Seven layer cake. Onion grass. Chicken houses (**Sam meant to put "chicken houses" under question 4, haha**)

10. Tell us about a memory when you felt really "at home."
One that stands out was a night with my best friend years ago, before I moved to Harrisonburg for school. We were bored, as we always were back home, and went down to the park near the river. We waded around in the black glassy water and thought about how we'd never be in the same places as the same people again. Facing the fleeting ways people and places change made me appreciate my time in Maryland even more, and makes me cherish my time in Virginia now.

bonus question:
What was your favorite and least favorite thing about living in Maryland?
Favorite: You can't drive 20 minutes in any direction without crossing a scenic body of water.
Least favorite: hate to say it, but often it's the people. Racism/sexism/religious intolerance are all very much alive where I'm from. No region's perfect, but I've been acquainted with some pretty ignorant folks.

Friday, April 20, 2012

home-making v.2

One of the perks of moving to a bigger house with a completely different floor plan is that it's forced us to move furniture and decor around to fit the new space. Our $100 black cabinet/shelf combo served us well in our old living room and held DVDs for years. The movies were put into drawers when we swapped out our bachelor-pad tv stand for an antique buffet last December, and I never really got around to styling the shelves. I always hated the frames on top (you can barely see them in this pic) but for some reason I never moved them. I'm embarrassed to show you this sad display of haphazard styling...

Hooray for second chances! The black cabinet is currently in our new family room located in the basement. It's packed with books and isn't styled at all, but that's because it's out of sight out of mind and I'm currently focusing my attention on the main floor. So that cute rhino and potted succulent got moved to our cubby bookcase, which resides on the wall in between the stairs going down and the stairs going up. The box on the top left is where I keep my stationary and stamps.

I put in a new, bushier (?)  succulent and formed a little trio with a tiny paper mache bird and a Smith and Hawken mister from Target.

This is what the bookcase looked like at our old house. You can barely see the "A" and "Z" bookends, so I'm thinking about painting them. Do you think they'd look crazy if I gold leaf-ed them?

The fake flower and cute bowls are now paired on our side table. For those sweet readers who are wanting more info on our house, this pic is from the living room, facing the front door. The door cut into the wall on the left is the staircase to the basement, and the door beyond that is the half bathroom. The dining room is opposite the bookcase and the kitchen is opposite the half bath.

Speaking of the kitchen, I nabbed a terrific kitchen island off of Craigslist last week and I can't believe I haven't blogged about it yet! Check it out -

I couldn't be happier with it. I've looked at a ton of microwave carts and kitchen islands online, and this was a steal for the size and storage. You can see it's on wheels, and there's a leaf on the back that can come up for an eating area. It came with two bar stools, which we're storing in the basement. I do want to have an eating area in the kitchen, but I'm picturing it here -

That rug is temporary, btw, and I can't wait to get rid of those curtains once I figure out what we want to do with window treatments. This nook is a great spot for a bistro/cafe/bar set, but the only problem is that the table is going to have to be tiiiny. See, to the right is a pantry, so if the table is too big then it would make it hard to get to the pantry. We could move the island to the middle of the kitchen and put the leaf extension to use, but I think it would look awkward. Plus, I like the way it looks flush up against that wall, which would be awfully bare without it. Hmm, we'll see.

Stay tuned for more home-making posts...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

see Gideon grow

Andy took my laptop on a business trip so I've been slacking on my blog-posting. Life is going well here in Frederick - we tried out a church that we both enjoyed AND I made some friends! Is God awesome or what?

On Monday I drove down to Harrisonburg (yup, again - and I'm going next week too) to see my dear friend Jackie and her little boy. He's too cute to not blog about. I first introduced ya'll to Gideon back in September, and then you got to see him again in November when we flew down to Tampa. Now look at how big he is! He is the cutest baby in all the land.

We hung out in my empty *old* house and when we left I took my key off my keychain and said my final goodbye. Today I have more unpacking moving boxes into closets to do and then I'll start snapping more pics of the house to share!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

an un-packer's playlist

youtube playlists make unpacking less like pulling teeth and more like dance partaaay!

sometimes it's more like a close your eyes and sway party

and other times it's a shimmy yo' shoulders and whip yo' hair kinda party

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I keep re-writing the following piece of info b/c it's so weird for me to say:
I came home to Frederick this afternoon after an overnight trip to clean our old house in Harrisonburg.
Still letting that sink in a little bit...

Now that I'm back, I'm excited/anxious to make more progress on the house. I have a depressing amount of boxes that still need unpacking, and a husband who keeps asking me where his socks and belts are. All I want to do is buy cute things for our new house! Gah. I have a running mental list of items we need and items I want.

The first thing I wanted to do was find curtains for our living room windows and door. The previous owners left their curtains, which I found to be upsetting to look at. They bothered me so much that I had a hard time enjoying being in the room for the first few days we lived here! I loved the living room curtains we had in our old house, but we only have two of them and we need three for our new house. Target doesn't sell them anymore and I couldn't find them online. Plus, they blocked out all of the light that came in. I wanted to find a pretty patterned fabric that let light in without being see-through.

These Target curtains were a great price and I looove the way they look in the space. Depending on the light, the pattern looks crisp and dark or subtle and soft. They're super sheer and I was worried that people would be able to see in, but I popped out on the deck at various times of the day and somehow it's not see-through at all. I'm so thrilled to not have to look at ugly fabric anymore! All these lovelies need are some new curtain rods...

More house-making posts to come...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

a new 'do

I used to blow dry and straighten my naturally-wavy hair almost every day. For the last couple of months I've been wearing my hair curly more often, a look I achieve by showering, scrunching my damp hair with my hands (no product) and letting it air dry. Sometimes it turns out great, but most of the time it looks like a frizzy, undefined mess. Maybe it's because I don't put much effort into it.

Today I booked an appointment at a salon in Frederick and asked for highlights, layers and a swoopy side-bang. Whenever I get my hair done I expect to get a blow-out and leave with a straight hairstyle, so I was surprised when the stylist worked a curling milk through my hair and sent me home with a curly 'do. I loved that she gave me something do-able (I hope) and I've had fun reaching back and feeling all of my soft and defined curls. The highlights and side bang are hard to see in this pic, but they're there! My hair is also lighter - the lighting in our living room is awful. 

My stylist used Pureology hydrating shampoo and conditioner (my stylist in NOVA uses the same ones, and I love the scent of both) and Pureology Illuminating Curl and Nourishing Nectar. I bought sample sizes of the shampoo and conditioner, but decided to try some of my own curling products and see if I can make it work. 

What are your favorite curly hair products?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


We're here! We had a successful and relatively easy move on Saturday and now we're in the process of making this house a home. We've spent the last few days doing little projects at a time, taking breaks to walk the pup, watch Flight of the Conchords or 30 for 30 and pick up odds and ends at WalMart and Lowes. Doing things around the house is getting less and less weird. We still have a long way to go, but progress is being made. See?

night 1 - notice the pup?
night 2
night 3