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.

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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.

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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!

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.

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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!

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.

Playing Tourist at Home in DC

May through August, Washington, DC is overrun with tourists from around the world. During the summer months, DC locals avoid the most famous tourist attractions like the plague, avoiding the battle for a parking space or another outrageously long line.

With the fall season officially upon us (yes, count me as another PSL and sweater weather crazed girl,) DC has once again returned to its not so touristy self. In an effort to cross a few final items off our “DC Summer Bucket List,” this weekend Sam & I played tourists in our own hometown.

kayak tour on potomac river in washington dcOn a perfect fall evening we hit up the Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown for a twilight kayaking tour along the Potomac River. kayaking in washington dc

We kayaked along the Georgetown waterfront, National Mall, and all the way around Theodore Roosevelt Island. It was great to see the monuments from the water from such a unique and peaceful perspective.key bridge dc kayaking

Our next activity was visiting the top of the Washington Monument. After DC’s earthquake in 2011 forced the monument to close for the past few years, there was quite the demand to get tickets upon its reopening earlier this summer. Luckily the free tickets were easy to score thanks to a little patience and advanced reservations online.

washington monument view

The views of the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Capitol, and Thomas Jefferson Memorial below were wonderful and worth the trip. That being said, the viewing area was small and stuffed with SO many visitors, making me feel claustrophobic.

visiting the top of the washington monument in dc

The top of the monument was obviously compact, and there are only 4 views (north, south, east, west, duh), so in a word, the visit was quick! And crammed. And patriotic, all rolled into one. But hey, that’s what DC Bucket Lists are all about!

lincoln memorial from washington monumentNow that summer is over, talk has already begun on what our Fall Bucket List will include. So far it’s mostly crock pot cooking, pumpkin, and winery visits. Which pretty much sounds like our life year round too.

The weekend left me feeling grateful that we live in a city like Washington, DC with so much to do.

Back to Cool

Time to dust off my old school supplies! Starting this fall, I’ll be heading back to school to study Front End Web Development Course with General Assembly’s DC campus.

back to school dcWhile the classes only run for 10 weeks and take place after work hours, it’s very odd to get back into the world of homework and studying. That being said, I’m so looking forward to expanding my skill set, meeting likeminded folks, and getting my HTML on. Wish me luck!

 

True Life: I Live in a 500 Square Foot Studio Apartment

Four months ago I moved from a shared semi-roomy apartment (in DC standards) to my very own studio space. To say life in my 500 square foot high rise studio required a little downsizing would be a mega understatement. Thankfully, some pre-moving closet cleansing, selling of extra furniture on Craigslist, and clever storage purchases helped to simplify my belongings. For example, I sold 1 kitchen table, 1 desk, and 1 entryway table, and purchased 1 drop-leaf kitchen table that doubles as an office table as a replacement.

 

living in a small studio apartment in washington dc

Now that I’ve lived my “studio life” for a few months, I’m finally sharing a few photos of my mostly-settled studio home. Keep in mind this tiny apartment is very much a work in progress – but I want to forever remember my first solo home and how much I love my life in this  tiny, small, minuscule little apartment in the sky.

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ikea book shelf room divider studio apartment

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room divider studio apartment

 

Things I’m still loving: insanely bright rug against otherwise white apartment, vintage golden bar cart for showing off wine, and the famous (and discontinued) Ikea Expedit bookcase as both storage and a room divider. Breaking up the studio into a separate living room and bedroom was a lifesaver.

small apartment layout

 

gold and global apartment decor

small studio apartment living room

 

Creating storage in the home was the biggest challenge. I had one tiny closet that didn’t even fit my wardrobe – where was I supposed to hide my Rubbermaid tubs full of Christmas decorations, DIY art supplies, and off-season clothing, etc.? With a few feet of extra space next to the laundry machines, I used an extended tension curtain rod and an old tapestry to create my own storage closet – voila. For storage space in the living room I found a beautiful antique trunk that is used daily as a coffee table, but doubles as storage for bulkier blankets and board games.wisconsin avenue dc apartment window view


washington dc studio apartment details

Things I Don’t Love: Still no dining room chairs at my kitchen table/desk space. The bamboo PS 2012 Drop-leaf dining table from Ikea was a smart purchase, but without chairs I have to admit I’ve not used it once. Also – studio spaces are not for neat freaks; there is no place to hide a mess! Everything is visible at all times. The bed must be made perfectly, the kitchen counter must be wiped clean, each photos must hang straight, and the mail sorted in a neat pile, which is impossible for me to manage at times.

ikea kitchen table gallery wall

studio apartment bedroom

That said, I’m so happy in my newish apartment. Even though the square footage is small, there is still something so cozy and intimate about having a small space. For one person and a crazed pup, 500 square feet is just perfect.

Moving on Up… and Down

 

Drumroll please… as of April 1st, I, Morgan Reid, will have my very own “big girl” apartment!

Peace out Glover Park, hello Cathedral Heights. Like most city dwelling young professionals will tell you, the older you get, the more you start to crave a space to call your own.

glover park bedroom

However, in a city like Washington, D.C., moving into your own space also often means downgrading in size. My current apartment is a decently-sized 2 bedroom apartment among the trees. My new space is a brand new 570 square feet studio in the city. Downsizing to a studio apartment (yes, the kind where one room houses everything,) requires some careful planning.

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Thank goodness my mother, an experienced Interior Designer, offered to help with the studio layout. With 570 square feet to work with, arranging furniture feels much like a game of tetris. You’re living in a life size jig saw puzzle. How do people move into such small spaces these days without a Mom like mine? #lifesaver

studio apartment layout blueprint

A lesson quickly learned in studio life: everything must have multiple purposes, such as my new antique trunk (via Craigslist) that will double as a coffee table and storage for blankets, board games, and more. And in an effort to build privacy and multiple spaces in the large main room, I purchased an Ikea Expedit room divider, which also works as a book shelf while still letting light shine through.

Washington dc antique steamer trunk

It will be difficult to part ways with some of my furniture and junk. Who knew being a minimalist takes such work. For more storage and space saving tips, check out my full Studio Life board on Pinterest.

Now who’s up for a housewarming party on the roof deck?