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In late March, I had a work conference in DC, so I flew up a day early to hang with my good friend Linsi. This was the first time I had traveled without my big camera in a long time. So all the pics from this trip are from my phone. Most of them aren’t too shabby.

I was in DC exactly this same time last year and all the cherry blossoms had gotten washed away by a huge rain storm. This year, it had been so cold that they weren’t out. Damn you cherry blossoms.

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We started by getting a reflexology foot massage and having tea.

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Afterward, we grabbed a cheese sampler, nachos for dinner and a wine flight. Delicious. We also stopped at Trader Joe’s afterward. It’s a tradition or something.

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The next morning as I headed out to the conference hotel, there was snow on the ground!

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My colleague/friend Daniella and I headed out checked into the hotel then headed out to Georgetown for the afternoon to take pictures then to eat Ethiopian food (YUM!) and spent the rest of the conference, trying to figure out where to eat.

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We stayed near DuPont Circle, which was a great location and had some interesting sights.

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After the conference ended, Daniella and I parted ways again, and I went back to Linsi’s. We went to a local brewery and spent a good part of the night there. Then I had to head back to Texas the next day.

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I really wish I had unlimited money and time, or at least lived closer to Linsi. We always have such a great time together! Until next time DC!

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Here’s a quick guide to what we did and where we ate while we were in San Diego.

What to See

San Diego Zoo

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San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Splurge on one of the special tours if you can.

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Point Loma Lighthouse

On your way to see the light house, stop off to see the crashing waves and the tide pools.

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San Diego Water Front

Just walk down toward the water. There is plenty to see.

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The Gaslamp Quarter

Plenty of shopping and food options.

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Where to Eat

Lucha Libre Tacos

Fun place inside. I had the surf and turf taco and a queso taco. Yum!!

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Hopping Pig Gastropub

We had pulled pork sliders, a beer flight, braised short ribs and a burger with an egg on top.

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Mission

We had breakfast. Everything we ate was delicious. I had the rancheros verdes, but it didn’t photograph as well as the pancakes.

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Sadly, I did not get pictures of any other food.

Croce’s

Steaks, lobster risotto, drinks and desserts were delicious. We thought  Jim Croce’s wife was our waitress, but it it wasn’t her.

RA Sushi

Even though it’s a chain, the food was delicious.

Spike Africa’s

Good for a larger group. The grilled artichoke and ceviche were delicious. I had the shrimp and bacon mac and cheese, which did not disappoint. Others in the group had fish and chips, scallops and really liked both.

The Beer Co.

Stopped in for a snack. They had good happy hour food and drink specials.

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San Diego March 2013

So for almost a whole year, my internet friend turned real friend, Becky and I had been talking about a vacation together with our husbands. We’d met at the Blathering in Austin in 2011 and then were roommates in New Orleans in 2012, so we knew we’d get along just fine.

We discussed locations, wanting to choose somewhere neither couple had been, somewhere there wasn’t snow (Becky and her husband live in Minnesota!), and somehow we decided on San Diego. We picked a general time frame, didn’t talk about it for a few months, then about 2 months before, pinned down a final date, booked flights and hotel rooms and we’d figure most of the rest out when we got there. And we crossed our fingers that the husbands would get along. 🙂

Taylor and I got to San Diego on Thursday, a full day before Becky and H got to town (I’ll go with his usual internet name for privacy). We also got in really early so our room wasn’t ready when we got to the hotel (the Courtyard by Marriott in the Gaslamp Quarter). We weren’t terribly worried about it, so we just dropped our bags off and were going to go out exploring. Before we made it out of the building, the news was on about the new Pope announcement, so we were kind of waiting around to see who it was going to be. In the meantime, the bellman started talking to us and offered a private tour of the building, which used to be a bank and had been recently restored. And took us up to the cupola, which isn’t usually open for guests.

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They renovated the meeting space to incorporate the old bank vault.

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The ceilings and paintings around the building were so beautiful.

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Becky and H were scheduled to arrive later in the afternoon on Friday, so Taylor and I went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in the morning before picking them up at the airport. We splurged on the caravan safari, where you get to ride in the back of an open truck through the wilderness. While there were many more animals, the highlights were definitely getting to see a baby rhino (he was only 2 weeks old!) and getting to feed the giraffes.

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Taylor made sure I fed the most slobbery giraffe here. Half my arm was green from chewed leaves. Yuck! What a nice husband.

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After Becky and Dave arrived, we walked down to the water for a while, before dinner.

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When we got back to the hotel after dinner, we saw our bellman friend who invited us on a tour he was giving to some other people.

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On Friday, we went to the San Diego Zoo. It was even bigger than I could have imagined. We had a great time, despite repeating the same path like 4 times. “Oh, hey. There is the sun bear again.”

The biggest highlight was seeing the baby panda, since they only let people go in the viewing area for a couple of hours a day.  But the other pandas were cool to look at too. One was napping, and one was pacing.

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I was also pumped to see koalas who were hiding in the trees so well we almost didn’t see them.

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More photographic proof that we did indeed go on vacation together.

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We were wiped out after the zoo, so we went back to the hotel to rest for a bit before meeting up with another internet friend, Ginger and her husband.

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On our second full day together, we drove over to Coronado. The weather was still a bit cool for bathing suits, so we just walked around for a bit. The sand is really pretty and has golden flecks in it.

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On Saturday, we drove to Point Loma to look at the tidal pools and the light house. Both Becky and H approved of the ocean views.

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I got in a cave.

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The lighthouse was just ok.

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After a long day of driving, we went back to the hotel to rest a bit and get ready for dinner. Becky and I had a pre-dinner cocktail at the hotel bar before dinner. And after a delicious and hilarious sushi dinner, we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye. Taylor and I were heading out early in the morning, so Becky and I sat up a while longer catching up on life while the guys went back to the rooms.

It was such a fun trip. It makes me sad we don’t live closer to Becky and H. Hopefully sometime in the future we can plan another vacation!

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DC

 

I was in Washington, DC last week for a work meeting. I didn’t bring any of my “real” cameras with me, but still managed to get this beautiful shot of the National City Christian Church on my cell phone. The twilight sky that night was a fantastic backdrop.

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As always, a few days late, but better late than never. Here are my 2010 and 2011 recaps if you care to check them out.

In 2012 Taylor and I :

Paid off his car early (the VW Jetta). Then, just a couple of weeks later, had a huge issue, where we brought the car in to the dealership to check out a problem with the door lock. They said it would be several hundred dollars to repair the lock, and we said, no thanks. Then later that same afternoon they called claiming that there was gasoline in the diesel engine (um, there’s no way in hell!!) and it would require major repairs (to the tune of at least $8,000 dollars, and you better contact your insurance company to get them involved.) After many talks with insurance and the car dealership and about 6 weeks of the car being in the shop, we paid our insurance deductible, turned in our rental car and traded that sucker in. So we also…

Bought a new car. A 2012 Toyota Camry SE.

Celebrated my 31st birthday, our 3rd anniversary, and Taylor’s 29th birthday.

We also did a lot of mentally preparing and budget planning for buying a house in 2013.  EEK!!

Taylor’s sister had a baby, so this year we became Aunt Andrea and Uncle Taylor! Here’s our sweet nephew from just a few days ago. He’s about 4.5 months old here.

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And I:

I didn’t cook as much as I’d like to throughout the year. This year was the first time I in my 31 years that I didn’t go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, so I cooked my First Solo Thanksgiving Meal for my in-laws. And for the first time ever, I also didn’t see my parents on Christmas day, so I cooked a ham dinner on Christmas. I didn’t take any pictures.

Visited

  • Las Vegas (March)
  • Washington DC/Arlington, VA(April)
  • St. Louis (July)
  • New Orleans (August & October)
  • New York City (September)
  • Dallas (October)

Read

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas in 2011 and I also joined Goodreads and set a goal of 30 books for the 2012 year. I didn’t make 30, but I did read 24 books, so not too shabby.

I enjoyed everything I finished, some more than others. I started Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Art of Fielding, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but didn’t finish. The only one I legitimately quit because I simply could not get into it was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. My favorite books were the John Green books (in order of my personal preference) The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines.

Here are all the books I read.

  1. The Hunger Games
  2. Mockingjay
  3. Catching Fire
  4. Divergent
  5. Paper Towns
  6. Girl Over the Edge
  7. Wife By Wednesday
  8. Water for Elephants
  9. Looking for Alaska
  10. Thirteen Reasons Why
  11. The Fault in Our Stars
  12. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  13. Juliet, Naked
  14. Fifty Shades of Grey
  15. Fifty Shades Darker
  16. Pretty Little Liars
  17. Flawless
  18. Perfect
  19. Unbelievable
  20. The Book Thief
  21. Gone Girl
  22. Flight
  23. An Abundance of Katherines
  24. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I am too lazy to link those books to another site and/or list their authors, but if you’re interested in knowing more about something and can’t find it, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

Watched

  • True Blood (Season 4)
  • The Tudors (Seasons 3 & 4)
  • Dexter (Season 6)
  • And plenty more miscellaneous episodes of Sister Wives, Family Guy, South Park, The New Girl, and Tosh.0

Listened to/Discovered MusicA few of these albums aren’t new, some are especially played out, but I loved them this year anyway. Saw Two Door Cinema Club at House of Blues in Houston in October.

  • Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
  • Fun – Some Nights
  • Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
  • The Lumineers – The Lumineers
  • Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
  • The Black Keys – El Camino
  • Keane – Strangeland
  • O.A.R. – Rain or Shine

Did nice things – As a sort of informal resolution, I tried to do more  nice things this year. I kept track for myself, but don’t care to post the tally here. In general, I sent cards and care packages to friends and family who needed it, and I also did nice things for people I didn’t know. I really enjoyed it and I hope to continue this year.

How was your 2012?

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New York City

At the beginning of September I went to New York City for a conference. I was there for about 5 days, and had plenty of time outside of conference sessions for sightseeing. It’s crazy seeing all the stuff on tv about the hurricane damage up there, when I was just there so recently. Even though I feel like an old pro at hurricanes, it’s always surreal seeing other places going through what we’ve gone through a couple times in the past few years.

Anyway.

Going back through my pictures, I realized I didn’t take as many as I normally do. But don’t worry I’ve still got plenty to share. Hope you like pictures of food and drinks.

What to See

Times Square
The conference hotel was right in the middle of Times Square, so it was an awesome location for sightseeing.

It was also excellent for looking down on while drinking (savoring slowly!) the most expensive glass of wine ever( $18!!)

Times Square is also great for people watching. This was Naked Cowboy 2 that we saw. The other one is younger and more attractive, in my opinion.

Strand Bookstore
828 Broadway
This place is awesome with its 18 Miles of Books. They have tons of t-shirts, gifts and tote bags, so it’s also a great place to pick up souvenirs.

9/11 Memorial
Right now since the memorial isn’t finished, you have to reserve a free ticket and go through security to see it, but it’s totally worth the effort. Reserve and print your ticket at home, since I had trouble doing it from the road.

Brooklyn Bridge
I didn’t get many photos this time, since a lot of the walkway was under some kind of construction. This trip was the second time I walked the entire length of the bridge.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour
This tour was really great. Reserve your ticket online in advance. We went to the very first tour of the morning, and the lines were short and there weren’t too many people to battle. I think the ticket price was around $17 and included audio tours of both islands. It is well worth the price.

The Chelsea High Line
A friend of the colleague I was traveling with told us about the High Line and we were so  happy to have heard about it. It’s an old rail road line that’s been preserved as a park. The views of the city are beautiful and the high line would be a great place to go on a date or just to hang out for a few hours.

Where to eat

Grimaldi’s Pizza NYC
1 Front Street
We walked all the way from Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to this pizza place. We’d probably have eaten cardboard after the hours we walked, but this pizza was AWESOME! It’s in Brooklyn, just at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Room Service Thai
690 9th Avenue
This wasn’t far from our hotel in Times Square and was delicious. The menus featured room numbers and the feature of the room was a huge crystal chandelier. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

Max Brenner
841 Broadway
Max Brenner’s fame is chocolate, but you’ve got to eat food too, so why not bacon macaroni and cheese?! The best part of traveling with someone else is that you can split and share entrees and dessert.

Banana Split Waffles.

And a White Russian with white chocolate instead of milk.

Junior’s Cheesecake
89 E. 42nd Street
We had breakfast here, no cheesecake. 😦

The Spotted Pig
314 W. 11th Street
This place was really cool. We couldn’t make a reservation, so by the time we got there, the wait was over an hour, but the food was worth it. I had the burger because I’m not always terribly an adventurous eater (although I did try a tiny crunch of my colleague friend’s fried pig ear). The gazpacho made with tomato, purple basil and black mint was  incredible and their truffle deviled eggs, while a bit expensive, were so delicious I’m trying to figure out how to make them at home.

Gaslight
400 W. 14th Street
We stopped here before we walked the High Line. Their pizza and caprese salad, combined with patio dining reminded us of Italy.

See, there was even a statue of David near the restaurant.

Ed’s Chowder House
44 W. 63rd Street (At Empire Hotel)
We stopped here for drinks after my colleague friend finished a super secret photo shoot. It was kind of fun, because fashion week was going on, and a lot of people thought she was a fashion week model! I had the Upper West Apertif – with grey goose vodka, muddled orange, mint leaves and ginger ale.

Takahachi Bakery
25 Murray Street (between Broadway and Church)
This Japanese bakery isn’t far from Battery Park, but it’s not exactly on the way either. Their pastries were delicious.

Celebrity Sightings

One night we met up with one of my friends from college and walked right into Snoop Dogg and his entourage.

One morning instead of getting breakfast in the hotel, I wandered out and saw the Bachelorette.

We also saw Gwen Stefani and No Doubt practicing in Rockefeller Center, but couldn’t get any good pictures. And John Quiniones was a guest speaker at our conference. So the celebrity count was pretty good!

It rained a couple days while we were there, so we didn’t make it to Central Park and a couple other things we planned. I guess that means an excuse for another trip!

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A few weeks ago I went to St. Louis for  a sorority convention. I didn’t have too much free time, but I was able to see a few things in my spare time. The conference was at the Hyatt at the Arch, so the Gateway Arch was literally right across the street.

I have been to the Gateway Arch 2 other times, once when I was young and in high school, one of our band trips was to St. Louis. I even went up to the top.

I took the Budweiser Brewery tour. The basic tour is free, and at the end you get two free beers. Oddly, also went there on my high school band trip. Did not get to drink the beers then.

 

 

Did a little antique shopping on Cherokee Street.

I met Melissa d’Arabian one of the Next Food Network Star winners. She’s a member of the same sorority and she is super nice.

 

I even got to witness one of the most pathetic pick up attempts in the history of pick up attempts. This guy kept going up to various tables of girls offering things like private jet rides.

Since most of my meals were in the conference hotel, I don’t have too many food recommendations.

Pi Pizzeria I don’t have any pictures of my food from here, but it was awesome. I had a chef’s special with arugula, bacon and some kind of aioli. It was incredible.

The Mud House Is a cute coffee shop on Cherokee Street. Stopped for a break in shopping, so I didn’t have any food, but the decor was really cute, and all the food being brought out looked awesome.

Chili Macs Diner Great place for a cheap, quick breakfast.

The Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar This was one of the restaurants at the hotel. I was hoping to try some local beers, and this place didn’t disappoint. St. Louis has a lot of really great local beers. I recommend the Big Bison Ale.

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