Memorial Day Staycation in Washington, DC

For the past few Memorial Day weekends, a small group of my friends gathered in Folly Beach, South Carolina to reunite and celebrate a “grown up spring break” of sorts. Sadly, due to busy personal travel schedules, budgets, and timing, Grown Up Spring Break 2015 in Charleston was not meant to be.

nats stadium baseball game view_Reidmore

Instead, I hosted two college girlfriends in the new home for a Washington, DC staycation. The long weekend was carefully planned to optimize DC sightseeing time since we had a DC-newbie in the group. Us ladies crammed in official White House and Capitol tours, as well as the visits to the Washington Monument, MLK Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.

Phew, it’s exhausting just to list it all out. It was beyond tiring to walk them all in the DC heat, surrounded by tourists and motorcycle gangs.

tour dc white house_Reidmore

One of the weekend’s highlights was during our White House tour. While walking through the famous Green Room, out the window on the South Lawn, there were Bo & Sunny (the first dogs) running around on their afternoon walk, unfazed by the gorgeous monuments and hordes of tourists behind them. It was precious and patriotic all at the same time.washington monument in washington dc_reidmore abraham lincoln memorial dc_reidmore washington dc mlk memorial_reidmore

In addition to walking the National Mall, the girls requested a bottomless brunch, which is about as DC as it gets. We headed to Capitol Hill and feasted for hours on the Caza Mezze rooftop. Not only were the bottomless tapas and penny mimosas delicious, but I walked away from brunch with a lightly bronzed summer tan too. The Capitol Hill restaurant is the ideal place to take DC guests, since it places you right near the Capitol and Eastern Market. The neighborhood is perfect for slowly walking off brunch afterwards.

bottomless mimosa brunch downtown washington dc_reidmore

In addition to the monuments, we spent some time visiting the Smithsonian museums that line the National Mall. With museum entry being free, you don’t feel guilty rushing your visit to keep on schedule. We checked out the Impressionists exhibits and were quickly on our way to the Capitol tour and Newseum.

art museums in dc_reidmore us captiol tour dc_reidmore

Sadly the Capitol Dome was covered in scaffolding, which looked like a sparkly top hat from afar. Inside during our tour, the inflatable “Donut” covered the Dome ceiling for renovations. At least it made for some interesting photos. According to our lovely guide, the Architect of the Capitol team is hoping to have the dome back in tip top shape in time for the next Inauguration, returning the DC skyline back to normal. Phew.us captiol dome renovation_reidmore

To wrap up our Memorial Day weekend, we partook in one final tradition: a low country seafood boil. When we get together for Memorial Day weekend in Charleston, we established the tradition of serving this dish to close vacation with this final dinner. It’s the perfect social meal. I love standing around the table with friends, picking at the food and talking. lowcountry boil dinner_reidmorepatriotic tilly memorial day_reidmore

Being a host in a city like Washington, DC, is thankfully pretty easy. The museums and monuments are both free and easily accessible together.

what to do hosting guests dc_reidmoreBut sometimes I get stumped after I’ve checked off the prerequisite touristy items from the To-Do list. When you have repeat guests to DC, who have already done the National Mall circuit, what do you do? Below is a list of my favorite tourist and cultural activities to do with out-of-town guests to Washington, DC:

  • National Mall – Must check this off first before completing the following ideas!
  • Extend your sightseeing – Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, National Cathedral, Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, National Zoo, etc.
  • Winery day trips – Had further out to Charlottesville (we love Trump, Blenheim, and Jefferson Vineyards) or closer to the city near Clifton (like Paradise Springs or Barrel Oak Winery)
  • Museum day – Show your friends museums away from the National Mall. I love the Portrait Gallery in Chinatown.
  • Day trip – Get out of DC and visit Annapolis, Philadelphia, or Baltimore
  • Water Taxi from Georgetown to Old Town Alexandria – Great way to see the monuments from the water while also seeing the quaint neighborhoods. If you go to Georgetown, skip Georgetown Cupcake and head to Baked & Wired (holy cow amazing, local favorite) instead.
  • Kayaking on the Potomac – Do NOT fall in. Really, do NOT fall in.
  • Northeast DC – Visit Union Market for shopping, lunch, and a soda fountain drink at Buffalo & Bergen. Then head to the National Arboretum a mile away for a picnic, seeing the columns, and hiking off lunch in the gardens.
  • Bottomless Brunch – Go for a place with bottomless food and/or drinks! My favorites are Cava Mezze, El Centro, Scion, and Local 16.
  • Show your friends a night out on the town: – I take my friends down to 14th Street. We start with a fun dinner at Ted’s Bulletin, then bar hop.

Happy hosting!

Watercolorist In Training

This spring I am putting my inner artist to the test. Once a week I head to The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia (part of the Torpedo Factory Art Center) for a few hours of watercolor painting lessons with my artsy, fartsy, partner-in-crime, Ashley.

Last fall when I took my intense Front End Web Development classes at General Assembly after work, I was busy but so happy. I was proud of challenging myself and trying something outside my comfort zone. Taking this watercolor class only allows me to expand my skillset further.

watercolor class suppliesThe class, Watercolor: From Start to Finish, covers all of the basics. My only experience watercolor painting was way back in high school art class, so it’s helpful for the instructor to start at the beginning with painting techniques and color theory. She even goes into the explanation of proper materials, like brushes, paints, papers, erasers, and more. Who knew that a pink gum eraser is the best on watercolor paper? Or that certain brands of red watercolor paints fade faster than others in the sun? As a kid in science class, you learned that water molecules attract water molecules. But until a class like this, you don’t really understand what that means for watercolor painting techniques.

So much to be learned.

watercolor lessons washington dc watercolor classes for beginners washington, dc | reidmore blog

3 weeks in, our class projects and homework have been very basic. We are literally painting 3D shapes in black and white and creating our own color wheels. I am looking forward to the point where I can do all sorts of watercolor paintings and not be a beginner. Even at the slow beginner’s pace, it is so nice to have a creative outlet each week.

beginner watercolor lessons | reidmore blog watercolor lessons washington, dc | reidmore blog watercolor class art league alexandria, va

Until my watercolor skills catch up my ambitious imagination, I’m occupying myself on Pinterest. Ashley & I are pinning really cool and beautiful watercolor inspiration on a shared Watercolor board. A board full of projects we hope to bring to life shortly.

learning how to water color | reidmore blog watercolor class alexandria virginia

Has all this watercolor talk made you nostalgic for grade school art class? If you’re in the greater Washington, DC area, visit The Art League website for information on future classes. Or check out the fun classes The Smithsonian Associates & Glen Echo Park offer as well.

Happy painting!

Pink Cherry Blossoms Welcome Spring to DC

We left a cold and bare Washington, DC behind for our Florida beach trip over the weekend. And what do you know, we come home to a spring wonderland. It was like DC had thawed while we were away! Of course my allergies are killing me (the real first sign of spring,) but the trees are so colorful and fluffy with floral blooms – it’s just breathtaking!

dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog

In just a few short weeks, we will all be whining about summer heat and planning family beach vacations.

But for now, we are LOVING this gorgeous pink canopy and the sweet smell of blooms that greet us every time we leave the house. Our new home has a cherry blossom tree on the patio and one in the courtyard out front. So pink petals are literally in your face when you try to leave, forcing you to duck in order to leave the house.

But they are so stunning, I can’t help myself from snapping photos of all the amazing flowers each time I leave the house. It’s really making my dog walks more colorful. Here are a few (too many, probably??) photos of our cherry blossom spring view.

dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog

dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blogdc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blogdc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog dc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blogdc cherry blossom tree_reidmore blog

Since they are much more vibrant and bloomed later than the famous Washington, DC cherry blossoms, I figured these are a little different. According to Google, these are Kwanzan Cherry Blossom trees we are seeing.

I feel so lucky to have such a great view of spring from our front door and am trying to soak it all up before they are gone too soon. Happy spring!

Here we come, Iceland, Sweden & Denmark

blue lagoon spa iceland

Flickr – Jonathan Percy

One day during my typical travel blog reading, I stumbled upon the flight deal of all flight deals. Washington, DC to Reykjavik. Yes, the airline was a not-so-luxurious budget liner and the deals were eligible for the fall – over 10 months away. But flights were $99 each way.

Flickr  - Michael Caven

Flickr – Michael Caven

No words could properly convey my excitement level. As a Swede myself, I’ve been oggling photos of Northern Europe for some time now. One of my best friends is Danish and lives in Copenhagen, and I’ve been anxious to make my overdue visit. And after watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (too many times,) partially filmed in scenic Iceland, we were psyched.

3 minutes later, we booked.

sweden countryside trip

Flickr – kadege 59

 

copenhagen sightseeing

Flickr – Vic

denmark vacation planning

Flickr – Nelson L

This September I will be traveling to Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark for the first time.

With plenty of time to plan the trip, I am on a vacation adrenaline high (it’s a real thing, y’all.) We are taking our time to research the best sights, food, tours, etc. In Iceland I want to visit the Blue Lagoon Spa and go off-roading to explore the incredible landscapes. In Sweden I want to visit Stockholm and get a better understanding of my heritage (beyond Ikea & herring.) And in Denmark I hope to visit my friend, Raisa, and see the country she loves so much.

iceland road trip vacation

Flickr – Moyan Brenn 

Iceland northern lights iceberg

Flickr – Moyan Brenn

Any advice for our Europe trip? Have you been to Iceland, Sweden, or Denmark? Like what does one pack for 9 days? Right now I’m mostly using Pinterest and Google, so any help is appreciated!

*All Flickr Creative Commons photos – see links for more beautiful photos

Moving Makes Life a Hot Mess

The past two weeks have been nothing but moving boxes. To the ceiling, to be precise. Stacked. Blocking me from my kitchen and closet. For a month, all I did was work, then come home and pack and pack and pack. It was exhausting!

moving to alexandria virginiamoving out of studio apartment

Slowly but surely, thanks to the help of generous friends & burly movers, Sam & I now have both moved into our lovely little town home. We are loving it so far.

moving to alexandria virginiamoving with pet dogs

But now the real challenge has begun…. unpacking and organizing. It is a real mess. I love purposeful organization. So the process of committing to a silverware drawer before I can properly test out the practicality of each drawer option is nerve-wracking. Multiple furniture and drawer arrangement swaps are surely in my future.

Even harder? Decorating a house that’s twice as large as my studio, while keeping Sam’s style preference in mind too. Blending two design styles (me = white, pops of color, modern, clean,  & Sam = wood, industrial, dark…. eek) is a challenge.

rug shopping target

Luckily, I love the thrill of the hunt. Shopping for home furnishings is my jam (Home Goods, World Market, Target, thrift stores, ebay, etsy, the list goes on.) But the town house is huge! And currently sitting sorta empty and pathetic looking with boxes still stacked high. I am overeager to fill it with new rugs, art, and furniture. I’m trying to remind myself to take it slow and enjoy the shopping process.

And to make matters even more interesting, the crazy hyper dog in the photo below is already making enemies. Day 1 in the new town house and Tilly already causing havoc. She hates moving. The boxes moving around, new smells, loud noises, and new schedules get her riled up.

separation anxiety dogs

Lucky for us, my Mom & sister will be visiting us next week! They are traveling from Milwaukee to visit us during Camryn’s high school spring break. And being the DIY Diva that she is, my Mom is bringing me some pretty amazing items for the new home.

She transformed this blah filing cabinet from Goodwill into a new and improved navy one. This will be perfect under my bright green desk for organizing our combined papers and files.

filing cabinet paint diy

diy navy filing cabinet

And after falling in love with the plant stand on El Camino Travel’s Instagram photo, I quickly convinced her to make me a few of my own plant stands for my patio and entryway. Thank goodness for Moms with a love for Pinterest projects, free time, and a garage full of power tools. May I one day be as handy as she is. Until then I’ll just graciously reap the benefits of her DIY projects.

modern plant stand diy

(eHow)

So there is your progress report! Currently a mess! But soon to be a real beauty. Stay tuned.

Life Update: I’m Moving. Again.

Big news in Morgan Land!

i am moving wsahington dc

Yep, that’s right. 4 years in DC + 4 moves = 1 tired girl.

I’m a pro at moving now. I’ve become numb to the tedious process of purging, packing, and dealing with the devil (aka Comcast Customer Service.)

petworth washington dc

(young Morgan in Petworth)

I started my Washington, DC city residency in the scariest-ever basement apartment in Petworth, a neighborhood north of Columbia Heights that is not yet “up and coming.” From there I lived with a roommate in beautiful and quiet Glover Park, the very welcomed opposite of Petworth. And now my tiny high-rise studio in Cathedral Heights, nextdoor to my gal pal Cathy.

national cathedral dc

(my neighbor Cathy, aka the National Cathedral)

In the past 4 years I’ve taken a lot of pride in my DC residency.  My sassy DC “Taxation without Representation” license plate make me giddy. The lack of voting representation in Congress makes me feel special. Joe Biden is my neighbor. I don’t live in a state, I call the District home.

But as much as I love living downtown, city life wears on you. It is exhausting having to order toilet paper off Amazon Prime and parallel parking 5 times a day.

view of washington monument at night

So this March I’m saying buh-bye to my DC residency and heading out to the “burbs!” You’re talking to the newest resident of Alexandria, Virginia! Ok, so it’s technically not the suburbs. I’m still 5 minutes from the city, but I’m moving to a whole new state!

Sam & I will be living in a wonderful (and massive compared to my studio) townhouse in Alexandria. There is literally a white picket fence surrounding the patio out front, perfect for Tilly. Straight out of Pleasantville. And totally worth giving up my DC claims.

washington dc movers

(thankful for family that helps you move & are returning to help a second time)

Any moving or cohabitation advice for me?

Weekend Trip: DC to the Coast

Upon moving to DC one of my first purchases was this handy “Day Trips from Washington DC” book. I was completely new to the city and couldn’t wait to explore. Four years later, I am still checking new sights and towns off my DC Bucket List.

day trips from washington dc bookTake “Delmarva” (Delaware + Maryland + Virginia) for example. Is that how you say it? I didn’t know that was even a place before last month. But somehow I had it in my mind to take an off season weekend trip down Route 1, stopping along all of the cute coastal towns in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. It was going to be tourist free, cheap, and perfect.

road trip to eastern shore from dc

Of course, you take a risk when you plan a trip for January. The weather was cold and rainy and absolutely gross. Not the best timing for a beach road trip. But we trekked on, away from the city and over the Bay Bridge.IMG_5992 copy

I had never been to any beach towns in this area, so my plan was to literally drive from town to town and scope out the scene. Once we got over the Chesapeake Bay and past the farm land, our first stop on Route 1 was the beaches of Delaware: Rehoboth, Dewey, and Bethany.  Very charming.

road trip from dc to beachSince it was January, I knew the towns would be dead. I just had no idea how quiet things would be. Everything was closed. Everything. No shops, no restaurants, nothing. With not much to do, our trip was turning out to be quicker than we thought. There was nothing to eat, no souvenirs to be had, it was like a ghost town.

road trip to eastern shore md

So we did what any normal person would do at a deserted beach: take lots and lots selfies with the pup. We quickly passed through Delaware and moved onto the beaches of Maryland – basically one big road of Ocean City. Even with the town empty, Ocean City was not free of strip malls and bars. It was interesting, to put it nicely. Not my kind of beach town. I prefer quieter little beaches.

dc beach trip

To round out our day trip down Route 1 along the Atlantic Coast, we ended our day at Chincoteague Island, Virginia. The complete opposite of Ocean City, Chincoteague was isolated, green, and small. It was the perfect place to crash for the night!

beaches near washington dc

Instead of the local seafood I had imagined for dinner (shrimp! crab! fish!) we were stuck with one food option for the whole trip: McDonalds. So there I was, walking distance from the ocean, eating a Big Mac in a parking lot. That will teach me next time I’m scheduling a beach trip.

chincoteague virginia beachesFinal verdict? B+

I loved getting out of the city for the day. Road trips are still fun.

Could see myself in the beach towns of Delaware or Virginia, Ocean City not my cup of tea.

Prepare to entertain yourself with car selfies when you go to the beach in January.

I live closer to the ocean than I realized – I will go more often!