20 May 2014

EU Embassy Open House

Every Spring the Embassies in DC open up for tours. I went to some of them a few years ago with my cousin, but there were many more I hadn't seen. I'm a sucker for these types of things and luckily found that my friends Hannah and Adam were equally up for the tour. We decided to hit up the northern loop of Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Netherlands. Those five alone took us about two hours. So if you plan on visiting them all in one day, you have quite the challenge.

The EU was having a selfie contest so I took some goofy pictures at each spot... they haven't yet contacted me with my winnings.

Austria had free coffee and red bull and some other treats for sale. They had a chef demonstrating how to make apple strudel and lots of pamphlets on Austria.

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The Czech Republic had a Kafka bug strolling the grounds and police dog demonstration using Czech Shepard's. They had free ice coffee and strudel.

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Hungary gave us a cheesy bread upon entering and had some traditional dancing going on. They also had some liquor tasting that wasn't very tasty at all.

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The Netherlands had the most going on. A Heineken beer garden, cheese, stroopwafel, little pancake things (amazing), give aways, and a photo booth.

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18 May 2014

Nashville at the Lincoln Theater

One of my favorite shows on TV right now is Nashville. A good mix of drama and good original country music. A few months ago I started buying some of the songs and rocking out to them. Then by chance I saw that they were coming to DC for a concert. I mentioned it to my friend Hannah and she was immediately on board. I'm not a big concert person, but I but the time the tickets went on sale in my calendar. Once 10 am came around I started trying to buy tickets... it kept saying to try again, try again, try again... finally after 10 minutes of trying to put two tickets in my basket it went through and we were set. The show actually sold out within like 12 minutes. Crazy. 

It was also my first time to the Lincoln theater. So I was excited to check it out. I had read some reviews saying that the line could get a little long. It was completely true and a little confusing as the seating was general admission and they had guys moving the through the line checking IDs, scanning tickets, and stamping our hands (with a blue light stamp!). 

Once we got inside it was a bit of a rush to find seats. We decided to start looking downstairs. A lot of people were saving seats so it wasn't easy to find two. We found some on the side towards the back, but they still had a great view of the stage. 

After getting drinks and visiting the restrooms it was time for the show to start.

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Lincoln theater
The Lincoln theater is very ornate and pretty if not a little crumbly.

For the most part the performers came out one at a time and sang one song at a time with the occasional duet. They mostly sang songs from the first season and mixed in a few songs of their own that don't appear on the show.

Deacon (Chip) is actually from Alexandria and had a lot of friends and family in the crowd.

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Did you know Gunnar (Sam) is actually british? I'm not sure if I like his southern accent or his british accent better.

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Sam and Chip
They wrapped up the show with a group number, A Life That's Good.
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the whole crew

13 May 2014

Terrarium part two

So the first terrarium didn't go so well. It all started great, but after a few weeks went by both my chicks and hens died. They died suddenly. Like boom. The other guy lasted a few more months, but one day after feeling the dirt and determining it completely dry, I watered and boom it died too.

Jenn didn't have much better luck either. Hers all died by early this year.

Not to be discouraged we decided to try again. I think mine may of died from overwatering, even though I didn't water them that much. I also think they might of not had enough sun. Ace only had larger plants so we went up to Flowers on 14th. They had the right size, but were a bit more expensive. 

They had some ferns so I decided to try them. They lady said they love water and like covered containers. Hopefully this fern will love my jar!

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I also bought two succulents to replace the dead ones I had sitting in my winery pots for the better part of the last year. 

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08 May 2014

Cherry Blossoms

A little late, but I thought I'd share some of the beautiful Cherry Blossoms from this year. I did my usual run around the blossoms and snapped some photos, but didn't spend as much time as I would like with them.

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I kind of cut off everyone's bodies in the picture below, but you can see how crowded it gets around the tidal basin.

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I also hit up the Cherry Blossom Parade with my friend Jenn. The highlight of the parade was Aaron Carter! He was even really singing as he floated by. Later I found out that he missed his brother Nick's wedding to be in OUR PARADE. haha.

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06 May 2014

Yoga on the Mall

Spring and Summer in DC means free outdoor workouts! As part of DC Yoga Week they had Yoga on the mall Saturday. The weather was perfect and the setting by the Constitution Gardens was gorgeous. The Yoga was so-so. It was more West Coast new agey than lets sweat and get a good workout. They did some drumming/singing/dancing before we started, which I kind of enjoyed, but then we were told to put our hands on our hearts and chant for like ten minutes. Heart chanting, not so much my thing...

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Great company

04 May 2014

Nike Women's DC Half Marathon 2014

This year I didn't get into the Nike half through the lottery system. After I was denied entry I moved on and signed up for the RnR Half. Then I was contacted by Nike in February with the opportunity to register and decided to sign up. Between the RnR half in mid March and Nike in late April I only ran one long run, a ten miler two weeks out that went fine, but totally wore me out. Its safe to say I'm burnt out on long runs and will be focusing on short faster runs for the next few months. 

Like last year Nike had some really fun details at the bib pick up and expotique. When you walked in to the expotique a big screen lit up with your name and a little message. They gave specialized hair ties according to how many miles we had logged with Nike +. I got blue ones! They also had gait analysis, sign making, hair braiding, and some luna bar samples. My coworker who also ran the race went with me and we headed up to the Nike store afterwards to join the run club and do a little shopping. We got a free headband at the store and had a champagne toast after the run. Joan Benoit Samuelson was on the run and ran beside me for a few minutes. We chatted about Boston Marathon recovery, running with a cell phone, weather, and she asked me to hold her cell phone while she took off her long sleeve shirt. So first time I've held the cell phone of an olympic gold medalist.

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The morning of the race went smoothly as possible. Great weather, great bag check, tons of toilets, and only a little crunch entering the corals. 

Soon we were off. Nike changed the course in two spots from last year. They were both great changes. Instead of heading down to the Capitol building at the end of the race we headed there first. In no time we were heading back to ninth street with a mile down. We still ran through the tunnel under the Mall at 9th street, but since I knew it was coming it wasn't as bad. 

From there we ran along the south side of the Mall and across Arlington Memorial Bridge. After the loop around we headed back towards Rock Creek Parkway. At this point, around mile 5, my left foot started hurting. A sharp pain under the front of my foot kept throbbing. Every once in awhile it would go away for a few strides only to return. 

I just kept running. At mile 6.6 they had a video screen up showing us running with a message across the top about us being half way done. Soon after halfway we headed into West Potomac Park. They put up signs we had made at the expotique. Donna and I had made a sign so I kept my eyes out for it. There were hundreds of signs on both sides of the road so I wasn't very optimistic about spotting it, but I did! That gave me a little boost. 

Last year the loop down to Hains Point and back was a bit annoying, so I decided to enjoy it more this year. With my foot still hurting I tried walking and stretching it out at a few of the water stops, but it didn't seem to help so I decided I would just run as fast as was comfortable so I could end sooner. Nike also made some great changes in this area of the race. They bussed in some college students from George Mason and Howard to cheer at the Point. They had amazing energy and one of them was holding a "GO Courtney" sign, which I'm sure was for me.

At mile 10 there was a group from November Project cheering. They look like an amazing group, so I'm going to try one of their workouts this week.

Next up was the other change in the route. Instead of going back up the highway ramp to the tunnel we followed the water front. A few of the boats parked in the harbor were honking their horns to help us along. This area was also the "chocolate mile" where Whole Foods was passing out truffles. I didn't take one, not exactly the ideal conditions for me to eat chocolate, but maybe I should of saved one for the finish.

Then back through the tunnel. As we exited the other side they had another sign that was displaying our names and cheering us on as we were passing by. Again there was another turn away from the finish line before heading back, but I was able to kick my pace up a notch for this last mile and bit.

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Approaching the finish line

Instead of photographers throughout the entire race, they had photo zones where they took our photos and gave them to us for free!

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I finished in 1:57:25 
268/1,926 of Females 30-34
2,101/14,316 of Females
2,228/14,794 Overall

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Well branded

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I really like the necklace this year

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Winners with Shalane and Joan
First place finished in 1:20!

03 April 2014

Lately: Around Town

Recently I tried out one new and two new to me places around town. 

On one of the only warmish and dry days we've had this spring I met up with some friends at Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw. Its not much more than some picnic tables on a corner lot, but there was a line when I arrived. They serve a variety of German and Craft beer in a variety of glasses, including das boot. Even though it was crowded it was a friendly crowd and the line for beer and porta potties wasn't too bad. They don't serve food, but allow you to bring it in if you want. All in all its a nice place to enjoy a beer outdoors.

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mural at Dacha.
Not too far from my apartment, but tucked away on a side street is TCB aka The Coffee Bar. I went with a friend on a Sunday morning. They have limited food, which included an everything bagel and cream cheese. Along with my bagel I got a latte. I was impressed with the latte art and thought the ingenuity of writing my order on the porcelain cup deserved a photo. It was a busy shop, but there were several seating options and we had no trouble finding a space to enjoy our morning. 

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When you bring up pizza in DC (which I do a lot) someone always mentions 2Amy's. And until this week I always had to sadly admit I had never been. Its in Cleveland Park about a mile from the closest metro, so not the most convenient spot, but I took a bus and was there within a half hour. We went early expecting a wait and not wanting to miss the movie we had planned for later, but after getting there super early and getting a drink elsewhere we ended up not putting our name down till 5:20. By 5:20 they had a half hour wait. So just remember to plan wisely. 

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when you walk in you are immediately greeted with pizza
For some variety my friend and I swapped half a pie. We got a certified Neapolitan style Margherita and a house specialty meat and peppers pie. The Margherita was amazing. The cheese was just amazingly flavorful. The other pizza was good too, but not crazy good. 

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Hey, its pizza!

02 April 2014

Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon 2014

I wasn't planning on running the Rock n' Roll USA Half Marathon again this year, but I got an email from them stating the finish line band would be The Head and the Heart. I didn't know much about them, but I knew that several of my friends were huge fans. So after sending an email alerting them of the news they were all on board. They added a 5K option this year so four of my friends signed up for that, but two friends wanted to do the half so I knew that is what I would be signing up for.

My training was less than ideal. The weather this winter in DC, like much of the country, has been miserable. I'm not one to run outside when its below freezing or when there is tons of snow or ice on the ground, which meant I was running on the treadmill a lot, which meant I was running shorter distances. I got two 10.5 mile runs in so I knew I'd be able to finish and that was good enough for me.

Race morning was cool, but was the best weather day in a week and two days later we got the most snow of the winter. So race day weather was perfect. I woke up in plenty of time, but fooled around like normal and headed down with just enough time to bag check and get in to the corrals. Too bad I also wanted to stop at the porta potties along with thousands of my other runner friends. After waiting a bit and running to some further away and then running back, I made it to my corral #6 after it had already left. Luckily I was able to walk to the front and slip in with #7, which was probably a better spot for me given my poor training.  

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race morning sunrises are the best
My watch was off the entire race, which just confused me. It ended up a mile off! Luckily I had it displaying total time elapsed the entire time, so I could do my own math with the mile markers, which mostly confused me more, but helped me push the last three miles.

The course was the same as last year (other than a slightly different finish), which I actually liked. I knew what was coming up and could look forward to hills (up and down), bands (love the drums by Howard), and my friend Hannah! She took this lovely photo while doing some amazing woo whooing.

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my gloves make a great thigh growth
While not my fastest, I finished in 1:56 and never felt like dying. In fact I enjoyed myself enough to sign up for the Nike Half in April.

After the race I met up with all my runner friends to watch The Head and the Heart. They put on a great high energy show for 10 in the morning. They performed for over an hour. I was joking that it was the best concert ever because everyone was polite runners and there weren't any drunks bumping in to me. But really it was also pretty good music.

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After the show we headed out to brunch. Races are always better with friends.

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Jenn and I after our races

31 March 2014

Call Me Crafty: Screenprinting

It has been a long time since I challenged myself with an art class. So for the past year I'd been eyeing the continuing education classes offered at the Corcoran. They aren't cheap but I loved all the interesting options they had and I was able to take the audit option. So I narrowed down some options and decided to take the screen printing class. 

After being 45 minutes late to the first class (cross town during rush hour on a bus is the worst) I've gotten a pretty good hang of the process.

We have four projects this semester each one using a different technique of making our design, but the shooting and printing part remains essentially the same. We've just started our third project, so I'm a bit behind on updating you.

The first project was to take construction paper shapes to create a print with three layers of three different colors.

Most of the other students are "art" students either full time or are art teachers learning a new technique. So in the actual design of the projects I find I am much simpler. But when it comes to the actual printing, where being type A is beneficial I am having far fewer problems than the other students. 

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This is a printing screen. When its clean it is the yellow color. We put the green emulsion on it and let it dry in a dark box. Then you lay your design in a light box and put the screen on top. Depending on your design you turn the light box on for a 45 seconds up to a few minutes. Then quickly take it from the box to the dark washing room to wash the emulsion that wasn't exposed to the light out. That area becomes your design. In the above photo I covered the areas I wasn't printing with tape and freezer paper.

So for my first project I did my cow.

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The green was printed first, then the purple and finally the pink. I was just trying to use pretty colors, but my teacher has proclaimed it a Zombie Cow.

For the second project we used india ink to make abstract designs. I'm not so great at abstract. I started slowly and finally drew a few designs I liked. I printed each of them a little different. I used the same three colors in the same order, but printed the designs in different orders and used five different designs. 

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This was one of my favorites. At first I didn't like the project, but I ended up with several that I liked and a few that I hated. I printed on small pieces of paper and was able to do three each pull so these went really quickly.

The third project involves india ink pens and tracing and text! I'm excited to see how mine turns out.

27 March 2014

Call Me Crafty: Mason Jar Planter

If you follow me on Instagram you saw this project a while back. I took tons of pictures during the process then completely forgot to blog about it. So finally here you are! 

My friend Catherine discovered this idea on Pinterest and we decided along with our other friend Jenn to have a craft day to make some of our own.

We met up and headed to Home Depot where we picked up the hardware and wood. We had Home Depot cut the boards to size (which is a fantastic service!) and headed back to Catherine's to get to work.

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Supplies we purchased per planter:
  1. Three Mason jars
  2. Three adjustable plumbing rings
  3. Wall hanger and nails
  4. Three screws
  5. Wood- we took the jars to the store and measured the sizing on the go
  6. Three plants
  7. Cactus/succulent dirt
Supplies Catherine had on hand:
  1. Drill
  2. Hammer
  3. Stain
  4. Paint brush
  5. Rag
  6. Sand paper


We started by sanding our board a little and applying a layer of stain. After letting it dry a little bit we wiped down our board with the rag and then allowed it to dry some more.

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While our boards were drying we planted our succulents in the jars. The jars have no drainage. After planting I wondered if we should of put a layer of rock on the bottom like you would in a terrarium, but not enough to go back and replant. However I think using the special soil for cactus and succulents works well. My plants are thriving so far. I just water them fully when I water them, which is about every week and a half, and then let the soil dry completely  before watering again.

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After our boards were dry we attached the hangers.

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Then proceeded to screw the rings to the boards. It wasn't as easy as we hoped. The slots in the rings were a little bit smaller than our screws. On my first attempt I completely stripped the screw. After that we tried prying the slots open a little wider and got the screw going a little before using the power drill and it worked ok. We were using wood screws, maybe a stronger screw would of just plowed through the ring, but I'm not sure.

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I started in the middle

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measuring was hard
After they were attached to the board I tightened the rings a bit before slipping the jars inside and finished tightening the screws.

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Finished project!

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Once I got home I immediately hung it up on the wall because I wasn't sure where else to put it. I hung it by my bedroom window because while by living room is over run with plants I didn't have any in my bedroom!

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As I mentioned earlier, all my plants are doing well. But learned the hard way that the orange flower on the cactus was glued on! I know! The way the cactus was growing was moving the flower to the front so I pulled it off. I managed to get all of the flower off, but the glue is a bit more challenging especially with all the pokies.  Oh and the plant on the right is doing much better and not leaning so much.

17 February 2014

Call me Crafty: Book Clutch

I got a sewing machine for Christmas so I immediately went to the internets to find sewing projects. I wanted to start small and ended up being inspired by a project that didn't require a ton of sewing, a book clutch by See Kate Sew

I picked out some hard cover books for $2 a piece at the local thrift/antique store, Miss Pixies. It was fun picking out titles that I never heard of but were fun nonetheless. I cut the pages out. Don't worry I kept them to read…. or do some other craft with later.

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Then it was time to prep the zipper.

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And sew the zipper.

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Iron the zipper.

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Glue the zipper to the book.

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Then glue liner fabric.

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Tada! Mine is a bit bulkier than Kate's. I guess I didn't glue the zipper far enough in on the book. I still think it is fun. I also didn't glue fabric on the outside of the book. I liked the way the red and black cover was already.

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31 January 2014

Call me Crafty: My magnet is growing

I think I missed one Handi-hour last year. It turned out to be the gardening one. They had little terra cotta pots to decorate and plant some small plants in and then they also had corks to make into tiny air plant vase magnets. Lucky for me I have good friends and was gifted a plant magnet that I've proudly displayed at work. Sometime over the holidays it decided to die, but I had several months of joy with that guy.

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Inspired I decided to make a few of my own for Christmas gifts. Only when I went back to Ace Hardware their summer/fall supply of air plants was dry and dead. Defeated. I had purchased an air plant earlier in the year though just because I'm a sucker for succulents. It had just been chilling in a vase so I decided to give him a new home.

I used a cork from a beer bottle someone had recently enjoyed at my apartment and glued on a spare magnet with super glue. I made a hole in the top with a knife and stuck him inside. A month later, so far so good.

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