October 30, 2023

Happy Halloween!

This week has been so much fun, from a party at the library to Soren's first trick-or-treating, to carving our first pumpkin together. We've certainly gotten a lot of use out of the Cat in the Hat costume.
Soren had more fun playing with the pumpkin guts than coming up with an idea for a jack-o-lantern face
 He kept calling the pumpkin innards "spider webs"--perfectly fitting for the holiday.
I dressed as a garden gnome, which was cheap and easy. I just threw together some of my clothes, added a wide leather belt, and made a posterboard hat that I covered with fabric I had around the house.
Soren looks like he's in pain, but that's just his "cheese" face.

We went to a pizza party at a friend's house, then went trick or treating with the kids. It was fun, and S had a good time getting (and trying to eat) all the candy.
Trick-or-treating ended early when he started wading through people's bushes, trying to step on porch pumpkins, and finally pulling out a bunch of dog training flags from someone's yard.  Sigh. The challenges of an energetic little boy (hopped up on candy, no less).

Wishing you a safe and happy Halloween, friends!

October 25, 2023

Halloween Week Begins

We're lucky to live in a town that does so much during Halloween.  Starting out yesterday with a block party in town and then another party/trick-or-treat event at the college, we'll be enjoying Halloween all week long.
S was quite happy painting a pumpkin and jumping on the Moon Bounce before his nap.
And of course orange and yellow cupcakes always make for a good pre-nap snack.
Later in the day, Soren got on his Cat in the Hat costume and we headed up to the college.
The college students do a great job with this event, from games and cookie decorating
 Looking a little tired from all the activities
To a petting zoo! These animals were so beautiful and gentle. 
Petting goats, alpacas, rabbits and the cutest donkey was a perfect end to a fun-filled Sunday.  And I'm quite happy to get more than one evening's use out of this costume.

Tune in for more Halloween adventures this week!

October 22, 2023

Squeal-Worthy Thanks from a Coffee Junkie

I nearly did one of those quick, tiny claps with my hands when I opened up a package from Fat Studio Pottery today.
I recently won a set of teeny espresso cups, in pumpkin orange, mind you (swoon). I can't wait to go in and brew a pot of black gold once the Mister comes home. It's Friday night, after all. No worries about the caffeine keeping me up!
I adore handmade things, especially ceramics since I don't have a chance to practice my wheel-throwing skills much.

Thanks to Danielle at Finally Finding Me for hosting the giveaway, and of course to Fat Studio Pottery and the talented Blake Anthony of Athens, Georgia.  Thank you!

October 20, 2023

Wordless Wednesday: Air Ball

Last week Soren and I visited our local Bounce U for the first time. If you haven't been to one, you must check it out!
It's essentially a space with all kinds of moon bounce type of equipment. We paid $7.50 for an hour and a half of free play--definitely worth it for super-active kids like my son, especially on a rainy day.
One of his favorite activities was the batting range, where a jet of air comes out of a cone and serves as a tee for a plastic ball.  It made it easy for S to hit the ball, plus he loved placing the ball on jet of air.
The huge slides were a big hit too.  The best part for me? An exhausted little boy who took an incredibly long nap!
For more Wordless Wednesday, visit here.

October 19, 2023

The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel

During our weekend in Washington, DC, we had the pleasure of staying in the Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia hotel only a few blocks away from the US Capitol building.  It is a great little boutique hotel, with a highly-rated restaurant, Art and Soul, owned by celebrity chef Art Smith, on the premises.  We didn't end up eating there, since it's focus is on Southern food and there weren't a lot of vegetarian options for us. 
The Liaison Capitol Hill is a funky, modern of hotel within walking distance to the National Mall and Union Station.  I like how the decor hints at its location in the Nation's capitol without going overboard with stars and stripes and stuff like that. For example, in the lobby there were huge Warhol-esque paintings of political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The lit votive candles along the lobby walls each night are a nice touch. Actually, all of the mood lighting throughout the lobby was lovely and created a welcoming, fun atmosphere.  
The front desk staff was warm and sociable, and attended to any questions we had.  Near the desk was a table with complementary mango-raspberry fruit drinks for guests to enjoy while waiting. Yum!
View of ArtBar from the lobby
It's nice staying in a modern hotel where the details all come together, rather than a bland chain hotel where you don't notice anything.
There were little surprises around each corner, like this chainmail curtain (below, to the right of the room numbers sign) that cordoned off the housekeeping supply area on our floor.
Our room was nicely appointed too, with the typical amenities like cable TV, bath supplies ample seating, and a hair dryer.
I did wish that the rooms had mini-fridges, which are helpful for dinner leftovers and drinks.
It's so nice to have a full-length mirror in the room.

I did wish that internet access was complementary, like at many hotels.  We paid $9.95 for one night of it, which really helped us figure out where we wanted eat at or visit when in the city, rather than relying just on guidebooks.
One other nice touch was the walking kit that the hotel's PR representative left in our room.  It included a pedometer, a deck of City Walks cards for the city, an MP3 player with music and a walking tour, a towel, water and a visitors' guide--all packaged in a nice woven box.
They really thought of everything that a newbie to the city might like for stepping out on their own and exploring DC.
Though small, the bathroom was clean and cheery. Outside the door was the coffee station and a mirror
While inside, there were plenty of surfaces to park any of your personal accouterments.
Most impressive were the eco-friendly toiletries.  Why hasn't someone thought of this idea before?
Rather than all the waste from tons of teeny bottles, why not make refillable pumps that are mounted on the shower wall?  I loved the scents of this earth-friendly brand, Sprout Out by Gilchrist and Soames. 
It was so easy to get around the city from this hotel, since it's right in Capitol Hill. With Union Station only a few blocks away, it was easy to hop on one of the Circulator buses that criss-cross the city, or even hop on the Metro.  We did end up parking at Union Station because the rates in the Liaison's garage were more than double what we paid per night at Union Station.  But the walk really wasn't far, even with luggage.
We really were impressed with the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel, and will definitely return on our next visit to DC.
Disclosure: I received a media rate on my hotel room at the Liaison Capitol Hill for writing an honest review of my stay at the hotel.

October 18, 2023

Washington, DC

We had a nice getaway to DC this weekend, in celebration of 10 years of marriage.  It was great visiting galleries and museums, walking the city, and, most importantly for me, enjoying a few leisurely meals!  Certainly rare for parents of a 2 year old.
 Me acting all tourist-y above
It was a picture-perfect weekend in terms of weather, a bit breezy and cool but wonderful for all the walking we did. We stayed at the Liaison Hotel (review to come) which was in Capitol Hill, so we were close to the Mall. 
We walked around the National Gallery of Art on Friday--it had probably been at least 10 years since we visited the museum.  We stopped to admire the gorgeous oculus in the dome. 
It was a rare opportunity to view some paintings by the Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer. I'm always surprised at how small they are.
A bit blurry for lack of a flash (not permitted in museums)
 There was an entire room of Rembrandts, or school of Rembrandt, in some cases.
I'm happy to have seen a painting by a woman artist, Judith Leyster. I remember learning about this painting, a self-portrait, in one of my many art history classes.
 Posing outside the entrance
Our evenings were spent walking some more, and eating! We had Japanese one night, then Indian, our favorite.
On Saturday we headed back to the Mall and to the Freer and Sackler galleries, which had a lot of Asian art.
We ended up buying a set of fancy chopsticks for $5 in the gift shop. What a purchase! But we were in need of some, since we can't seem to find the ones my grandfather brought back from being in Japan after WWII (oops!).

I insisted that we visit Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian's American History Museum.  Chris obliged, but waited outside the room (it was dang crowded!)
Above is her wall of copper pans, which were in her kitchen at Cambridge.  In fact, the entire kitchen was transported from there.
I love the colors of her cabinets, though I think the kitchen is a bit too crowded with stuff for my taste.
We had some lunch, took the bus to Georgetown with its fancy shops (actually left Anthropologie, without spending anything), then walked some more and ate some more.  All in all a great weekend, other than the Phillies losing game one of the NLCS.  But last night made up for it.

Now back to the daily grind of changing diapers and playing with cars! 
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