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Vacation Recovery

Ever have that feeling that you need a vacation just to recover from vacation? It happens to me all the time with weekends. I can have a really busy weekend running from one fun [or productive] thing to another and not really get the chance to slow down and relax/prepare for the coming work week. Monday morning rolls around and I start to wish I had a weekend  to recover from my weekend. That’s kind of how I’m feeling about my vacation but in reverse. Vacation was so relaxing and there were no demands on my time and then I come home to early mornings, slow work days and millions of catch-up tasks. I think I need a reverse vacation recovery vacation.

So what would I do on my reverse vacation recovery vacation? Well, since I’m battling a three-hour time difference, I’d take a few days to gradually readjust myself to waking up at 6:25 a.m. EST. Turns out it’s really difficult to go from waking up at what would be 10:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. EST for a week [hey we thought we were doing good being up by 8:00 a.m. on vacation!] to actually having to be at work by 8:00 a.m. EST after your body has finally adjusted to it’s new timezone…suddenly 6:25 a.m. becomes 3:25 a.m. and nobody wants to get up at 3:25 in the morning.

During those readjustment days I’d spend some time with Weasley, because he’s been looking so dejected when I leave in the morning and his cries when I run out the door for post-work activities/errands makes my heart break a little every time [if I could just bring him to work with me this wouldn’t be an issue, but my boyfriend keeps telling me that a little separation is good for him {him the dog not him the boyfriend}]. We’d relax in bed with our tea for awhile [probably catching up on the 344 blog posts I came back to in my Feedly] and then go for a nice long walk and maybe to the dog park.

I’d also work in leisurely workouts, maybe the longer Pilates tape or even going to the studio for a yoga class. Being creative with my workouts [speed walking and carrying a heavy purse and carry-on all the way across the airport counts right???], I was able to fit my three in for the week but I don’t think they came close to balancing out all the “I think I’m just going to lay here until my food baby goes away” dinners we ate.

And then there are all the glamorous chores: laundry [I think I’m up to four or five loads], vacuuming and sweeping, a bathroom to clean, dishes to wash, groceries to buy, banking to do, a dog to bathe after his week on the farm…the list is never ending. If I had one solid day I think I could get it all done, but that pesky daytime activity known as work makes solid days of nothing tough. Add in the fun stuff like seeing friends and cleaning out the DVR and there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the week.

Oh well, I guess this is all part of growing up. The vacation itself was amazing [pictures and a recap to come…go ahead and mentally add that to my list of things to do] so I have no reason to complain. Thankfully the weekend is coming…let’s just hope I don’t need to recover from that too!

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Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy

I love my job but it is time for a much-needed vacation.

Photo Courtesy of Mutineer Magazine

As you read this, I’m likely sitting on a plane bound for the Pacific Northwest with my boyfriend and his parents. I get to spend the week in the beautiful [at least according to the travel websites] Willamette Valley of Oregon, sporting comfortable summer dresses, sandals and sunglasses while sampling some of the finest vino in the country. The Willamette [It’s Willamette, Dammit!] Valley is known for its Pinot Noirs, which means I will be one very happy girl. Not to mention all the time I will get to spend just being with my love. I’m very excited about this developing trend…

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The [Un]Official Start of Summer

How do you know summer has officially arrived? The possible indicators are endless: the long Memorial Day weekend, the first cookout of the year, the first Summer Friday day off, the first day of summer break, the first time you break out the swimsuit for the year, or perhaps the old school Summer Solstice [i.e. the official calendar date for the First Day of Summer]…it happens to be June 21 this year [at least summer has the decency to start on a Friday]. For me, summer hasn’t arrived until I’m sitting in the ballpark.

Growing up, my brother played travel baseball, so my summers were spent at the ballpark, slathering on sunscreen, burning the backs of my legs on metal bleachers, and eating more than my fill of hot dogs, cow tales and laffy taffy. I improved my math skills working in the shade of the concession stand, had the important task of operating the scoreboard, and even kept stats for the team [I bet you don’t know what DP 5-3-2 means]. And one fine summer day at the ballpark, I read, for the first time, what happened to Harry Potter during the Battle of Hogwarts. So, when summer rolls around, it isn’t really summer until I’ve spent some time in the ballpark.

You wouldn’t think it would be all that hard for me to get the summer started since the Nation’s Capitol has made enjoying America’s Pastime really easy. For starters, the ballpark is right downtown. You can hop on the Metro and be there in a matter of minutes. Metro not your thing? You can literally walk the 1.5 miles from Capitol Hill to the ballpark. Not to mention, it’s quite the social event. It’s not uncommon to go to a weeknight game and see folks just getting off work, still in their dress pants and dress shirt with their sleeves rolled up to their elbows [having likely lost the tie by now] co-mingling with the red, white and blue clad Nationals [AKA the Nats] fans in their “Curly W” paraphernalia. Since no one in DC is actually from DC, it’s also not uncommon to see just as many jerseys and hats supporting the opposing team as those supporting the Nats. And since you can score tickets for just $10 or $15, visiting the ballpark is not cost prohibitive.

Good news folks: Summer 2013 has finally arrived! Sunday afternoon [is there a better time for baseball?] I was in the the ballpark for a Washington Nationals vs. Minnesota Twins game with a group of friends.

The day started out exceptionally cloudy, but the baseball gods really came through by the end of the game.

Nats Game

We had great seats down the third base line

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I’m adding “Pups in the Park” with Weasley to my DC bucket list

It was a slow start, but when the Nationals started scoring our NATITUDE came out

Presidents Race

Time for the Presidents Race! Former President William Howard “Bill” Taft joined Mount Rushmore presidents George, Tom, Teddy and Abe this year. It looked like Teddy would pull out the “W” until…cicada.

The sun came out and so did the Nats bats

Here’s to hoping I get to celebrate summer with the Nationals a lot more in the next few months!

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LivingSocial and the Budding Artists

Every day, my inbox in inundated with “deal” emails – the Groupons, LivingSocials and Fabs of the cyberworld. Most days, the 20 or so emails get dumped in the trash without me even reading them so I don’t feel the slightest inclination to spend money on things I don’t even remotely need. Some days, however, I scroll through the deals, click through the links, and every once in awhile, I even buy something.

Last week, four friends and I took advantage of one such deal. Living Social has an office in DC where they host events and experiences, like sushi rolling, mixology and dance classes. Our deal of choice: a two-hour class dubbed “Sipping and Painting” that included all the supplies needed to bring out our inner artist and a half bottle of wine to get the creative juices flowing, all for $29.

918 F Street NW. Photograph by Benjamin R. Freed, courtesy of suitandartist.com

918 F Street NW. Photograph by Benjamin R. Freed, Courtesy of suitandartist.com

“918 F Street” as LivingSocial calls it, is a cool, multistory brick building with big windows in downtown DC. It has that exposed brick, industrial-chic loft vibe that seems to be popular with the twenty-something crowd. After checking in, I was sent upstairs to the lounge to wait for my friends to arrive and for us to then be fetched for our class. I plopped down in a comfy leather sofa and my friends joined a few minutes later. We did a brief life catch-up and then started speculating what the class would be like. 6:00 came and then 6:15 and we still hadn’t been fetched, although the class was supposed to start at 6:00. We could see a room across the loft with drop-cloths and easels set up that we assumed had to be for us, so we (along with a whole crowd of other people waiting to be fetched…we’re such trendsetters!) ventured over to see what was up. The girl collecting our token seemed oblivious to the fact that she had forgotten to collect everyone, or perhaps she didn’t realize the folks checking us in had told us we’d be collected. Either way, we set aside our annoyance and flooded into the room, picked up our individual half bottles of wine and plastic cups and claimed a group of five easels.

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Our inspiration: Windmill at Zaandam by Claude Monet

Taped above each easel and canvas was our inspiration for the night: a drab Monet of a windmill, shed and boat, all in various shades of brown, not to mention it looked difficult to paint. To say I wasn’t super-psyched about our inspiration is an understatement. I knew my first attempt at art may not turn out that great, but in case it did, I wanted something colorful and cute like a Van Gogh (who happens to be my favorite artist) that could be displayed in my apartment.

As I stared at my “inspiration,” I brooded and was quite glad to have my bottle of wine. The instructor, “Gavin,” started to “teach” us how to recreate this masterpiece, and my brooding grew to outright frustration and huffs and maybe even a foot stomp or two (of which I am not particularly proud) when he raced through the steps and refused to slow down when asked by various people in the class. When he did walk around with his cup of wine to “help,” he stayed close to a particularly flirty and cute bunch of girls, more or less ignoring the rest of us. Gavin was so terrible that one girl in the class filed a written complaint because she’d been to another of their classes with a great instructor but said this time she’d overpaid for wine and had to teach herself. The only useful advice he gave the whole night was to start with the farthest back point of your painting and layer other colors over that [i.e. start with the sky and then add the ground, and then the mountains and then the waves on the sea and the grass and then the people, etc.], and if you screw up you can always wipe your canvas down and start again. I used both pieces of advice when I got fed up with his lack of instruction and attempted to teach myself how to paint a colorful painting that had caught my eye when I walked in.

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My new inspiration…I think it’s a version of another Monet, Houses of Parliament, Effects of Sunlight in the Fog I (if it has anything to do with England, no wonder I was drawn to it!)

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The artist at work

Even though it was difficult to start over and attempt to teach myself color mixing and technique while rushing to finish a painting – and my wine – in half the time allotted for the class and, most importantly, trying to remember to dip my dirty paint brush in the water and not my wine cup, I finally loosened up and really started to enjoy myself. One of my friends followed my lead, as did a couple other people in the class [to be fair, at the outset of the class, Gavin did say we could pick anything we wanted to paint, but I think at that point we were all naive to the fact he wasn’t actually going to teach] and agreed that once they stopped trying to follow Gavin and did their own thing, they had a lot more fun. The girl who complained actually made a really awesome splatter painting…something that is now on my Pinterest craft list.

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Sipping & Painting

All in all, it was a fun night. I enjoyed some good laughs with good friends and even discovered some potential artistic ability that just needs a little nurturing. From talking to others who have taken similar classes, we just had the unlucky draw of a crappy instructor, so I’d definitely give it another try, or maybe try a different deal vendor [I saw another deal site today had a similar class that takes place in one of the actual bars in DC].

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So glad we got to do this!

If you’re looking for something other than your typical date night or after work happy hour with friends, I’d definitely recommend checking out some of these experience deals. My first experience may have been a little rocky, but it was definitely fun to mix it up! And if you hit up the 918 F Street location, may I suggest Ping Pong Dim Sum just up the street after your class? We had a big table with lots of bench space for everyone to admire our drying artwork 🙂