Monday, April 30, 2012

Music Monday

I know I just did a Music Monday with Ron Pope a few weeks ago but... well, I saw him in concert twice since then and had my trusty flip cam with me for both shows so I have bunches of live videos and I can't resist sharing another song here.

Besides, when I posted Atlanta a few weeks ago I got a call from my cousin saying Wiggles was a fan and was dancing to the music so, just for her I give you a danceable tune from Mr. Pope.

If you'd like more - and really, who wouldn't - you can check out my YouTube channel that is chock full o' RP videos. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Silence is... depressing

I'm spending the weekend at the beach with my parents and on the drive down tonight my mom and I stopped off for dinner at one of their favorite "Family Restaurant's". I don't mind eating there, but it's not a place I'd choose on my own. However, I know how much my mom likes it, and it was cute how excited she got when I asked if she wanted to eat there.

Anyway, we're sitting at a table in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by two elderly couples to our left, and then couples around my parents' age behind us and beside us to the right. As we're looking over the menus and placing our orders I notice the unsettling silence.

While we're waiting for our food my mom and I keep the conversation going at a pretty good pace. She's chatty. Yes, I can be chatty too, but nothing like my mom. Time keeps passing and one thing stays the same - silence all around us.

At one point one of the women from our left walked over to talk to the woman on our right, but I never once noticed the people at any of the tables talk to each other. The couple behind my mom was the one I noticed the most and they did not interact AT ALL throughout their entire meal.

It was depressing guys. Really.

And makes me realize I should probably be nicer to my mom about just how much she talks as I definitely wouldn't like the alternative.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Burnt Toast

Last night while I was cooking dinner I was reminded of a book that came out a few years back. I didn't read it, but had a vague recollection that it was called Burnt Toast, and, in addition to other messages, talked about how mom's always take the burnt piece of toast, leaving the better pieces for their kids.

We'll, I'm here to say that single people eat a lot of burnt toast too.

And, by burnt toast I actually mean overcooked pasta dishes that turn out horrible, but, well, no one else has to suffer through eating it and what else would I do with it? It would be wasteful to throw it away, and am I really going to start over now and that was the last of the pasta anyway so I guess that will just be dinner.

When I'm cooking for others I follow a recipe generally, or go with a time-tested proven do it myself variety. But typical dinners around here involve little pre-planning and lots of throwing together whatever random ingredients I find between the fridge and the pantry. I'd say I have a 70/30 ratio of success so I go with it.

Tonight was part of the the 30. Ugh.

And I was so looking forward to recreating a thrown together pasta dish that turned out YUMMY a few weeks back. Sauteed onions and garlic, tossed with pasta and some herbed goat cheese. Except tonight I was almost out of the veggie pasta I've been eating lately and ended up throwing in some alphabet pasta as well. Both boxes said the cooking time was 7 minutes, and actually, the alphabet box said 7-9 minutes so if anything it should have been underdone.

It wasn't. It was a mushy, icky, overcooked mess. But, I mixed it with my yummy goat cheese and the tasty onions and garlic and hoped for the best.

*wrinkles nose*

I got the worst. 

It's a good thing I have dinner out to look forward to tonight. A damn good thing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Music Monday

This one's a few years old but still a fave. As with most Mondays, I can't pinpoint why this one's on my mind today but I heart it and I wanted to hear it, and think you should listen too.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Skewed Perspective

When you live inside the beltway you have a tendency to end up with a skewed perspective on celebrities.

Sure, all of the mainstream celebs, from actors to singers to models still count, but if you live in DC and have any remote level of political awareness then you end up adding Congressmen, Senators, key Administration officials and political pundits and correspondents to that list.

Most American's wouldn't notice if they were waiting in a line for sushi behind Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, but when that happened to a friend of mine it sparked a flurry of excited texts most would reserve for a similar experience with The Boss or The Biebs, depending on your demographics.

I've well documented my disappointment in not having a first family sighting, but that doesn't mean I haven't had any [political] celeb sightings in DC.

My first was when I was at a neighborhood coffee shop shortly after I moved to the area. My job had more of a political bent to it at the time so I was spending more time watching the pundits and keeping up with political news. As I spent a lazy Saturday morning sitting on the patio of the coffee shop enjoying breakfast and a book I noticed the man at the next table was the Washington Post political columnist and frequent cable news commentator Chris Cizilla, aka "The Fix". Now this wasn't a sighting that was worth running straight to my FB page over, but it was still kinda cool. Mostly that I recognized him because to me it signaled that I was starting to fit in to the world of politics.

My next political celeb sighting was at a work event, a reception being held in the Capitol building. Yeah, I kinda agree it doesn't count when you are actually in their work place, but I'm counting it anyway. I was serving a a greeter, directing our attendees up to our event and as I was standing, looking off in one direction someone bumped into me from behind. I turned to look as I heard him apologize and realized it was Senator John Kerry, a much higher profile celeb sighting and, as a former presidential candidate, someone whose recognizability is likely pretty high even outside of DC!

He's also the whole reason this topic is on my mind this morning. I'm in Boston this weekend, actually visiting the friend who had the close encounter with Justice Sotomayor, and her apartment is across the street from John Kerry's house. We were walking back on Thursday night and she pointed out his house as well as   other important residences and aspects of the neighborhood.

Well, yesterday morning as I was walking out the front door of her building to head out for a day of playing tourist who do I see stepping out of his car, but Senator Kerry. And I'll admit, I immediately went for my phone and fired off a few texts to friends about my celeb sighting. Luckily, my friends are big dorks like me because I got responses like "Exciting!" and "How Fun!"

Just another example of how living inside the beltway can really mess with your mind!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Case of the Missing Clothes

I'll admit, I'm not the neatest person. My bedroom often looks like I've regressed back to my teenage years. So it's not uncommon that I can't find a particular item of clothing when I want it. Usually I find it a few days later, buried under a pile of tote bags or still packed in a suitcase from my latest trip.

But this time, well, it's an entire outfit I can't find. And I'm SO perplexed!

I'm trying to do last minute laundry so I can finish last minute packing for a (semi) last minute trip. (Ok, so I booked the trip 2 weeks ago, but that's last minute and quite spontaneous from the standpoint of a planner like me). And I really want to take a particular shirt. I can't find said shirt ANYWHERE. So I started thinking, when did I wear it last? Oh, yeah, last week with black pants and a blue cardigan.

What a minute - where are those pants? And that cardigan?

How is it possible an entire outfit last seen together is now all missing?!?!

I checked the dirty clothes pile, the clean clothes pile (on my rocking chair, next to the closet, but not actually hung in said closet). I checked suitcases even though I know those clothes didn't go on my trip last weekend.

It's not like I have to have this shirt, and I wasn't planning to take the pants or cardi with me, so the laundry and packing has resumed without them but...

Where in the world can they be?!?!?

***** Update *****

Many of the mommy blogs I read reference how as soon as they write about their kid doing one thing (or not doing something) on the blog the opposite immediately happens.

It was kinda like that for me and the clothes. Within five minutes of posting the bright blue of my cardigan caught my eye, peeking out from a tote bag on my bedroom floor and suddenly I remembered! The day I wore that I outfit I changed into workout clothes at work to get my walk in around my office before going home. There they were, pants, top and cardi all crammed in the bag.

Mystery solved!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Music Monday

I've been waiting for this Music Monday for weeks now - mostly because it means that we're just a few short hours from Tuesday, April 17 and the release of Ron Pope's new album, Atlanta.

Which also means I'm just a few short days from seeing him in concert again. Twice. (Yup, that obsession sure has continued.)

Here's his fabulous single, Atlanta, that was released a few weeks back. I can't stop listening to it.

And... even better, the entire album is available streaming online right now, and will be available on iTunes tomorrow.

Check it out, enjoy and share it with your friends! RP is so talented he really deserves success!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I spent the weekend visiting friends in my old town and it was so nice.

Usually when I go back I completely over schedule myself, trying to pack in visits with as many people as I can and stops at as many old favorite shops and restaurants as possible. It's always good, but also overwhelming.

This time I did things differently. I drove down yesterday morning and stopped off in my old neighborhood in the city before driving out to my friend's place in the suburbs. That ever present walking challenge meant I needed to get a good bit of steps in this weekend and I figure my (literal) old stomping grounds were a great place to do it.

As I walked around the historic district I was thinking a lot about my own history there. I walked by the house that belonged to a friend's college boyfriend to see yes, it's still painted with easter egg colored trim; by an apartment building where I went to a few fun post college parties; a house where I spent countless evenings of my early 20s babysitting for 2 adorable munchkins; I saw a friend's old apartment is available for rent again and my old building looks exactly the same now as it did when I moved in 9 years ago.

It was the perfect kind of nostalgia. A mix of good memories and the knowledge that I would be happy living there again but no strong pull that I need to be back or desire to relive those days. I thought about the fact that I'm so much more secure now - financially, professionally, personally, than I was in those days.

After the walk I headed to the 'burbs and spent the rest of the weekend with two of my best friends. We just hung out, ate yummy food, went for walks, played with adorable kiddos and did some fabulous shopping at a craft show, where, much to my surprise I ran into a high school friend selling her hand blown glass and I bought two beautiful pieces.

Not even a double-the-normal-amount-of-time-because-of-AWFUL-traffic drive home can put a damper on this weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photographic Memories

One of the coolest things about technology is how easy it makes it to create something so completely impressive and personalized for my parents.

Now I'll admit, they don't set the bar all that high for what impresses them. They use their computer to email and surf the net a bit, but most technology is beyond their interest level. Which is awesome for me, because each and every time I give them photo gifts they are blown away. Seriously. So impressed and filled with praise I end up feeling guilty because no matter what the gift is, it was SO easy to create I feel bad at their over the top response.

I started a few years back with calendar of photos I'd taken at the beach. Now I basically recreate that same calendar each year, switching out some of the pictures and reusing my best shots. Despite they fact that they should know for sure it's coming, it continues to surprise and excite them each year. My favorite new addition for the 2012 version was being able to put photos on specific calendar dates. My dad circa 1975 with a party hat on for his birthday, my parents wedding photo for their anniversary, adorbs 5 year old pig-tailed me on my birthday.

I raised the bar even further last fall, when I created a photo book for my mom for her 60th birthday. My aunt is the keeper of the old photos in the so I raided her albums for photos of my mom and her siblings as little kids. Then while my parents were out of town I went out to their house and snagged the photos from my lifetime - from baby pics to my college graduation. I filled in the past five years with my digital photos and even got my mom's friends to send me some. In the end the book was a great representation of her life with photos ranging from when she was around 2 years old up til a few weeks before she received the book.

My mom loved it. And my dad did too. So much so I'm thinking the perfect Father's Day present this year would be a photo book just for him....

Hmmm... so while I go start gathering pictures for that book you really should go check out Shutterfly on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and see what kind of photo gifts you can impress your loved ones with.

*This post was sponsored by Shutterfly. Though they have compensated me to write the post, the opinions shared, and my absolute love of their products, are mine all mine!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Next Stop

Last week I read the book Next Stop, a memoir from a DC area mom about her son, who has autism, reaching adulthood. It reinforced what I've come to know over the years, that resources for adults with developmental disabilities are lacking and families who have had a lot of support through adolescence are left wondering what's next for their young adults.

The author, Glen Finland, wrote about her family's experience in a really compelling way. It's funny, I bought the book because I tend to read nonfiction slower than fiction and was trying to slow down the pace of my book buying. It didn't work. I poured through the book in two days and can't stop thinking about it

And today, my twitter feed encouraged that, when the story below showed up.

This is such a cool program. I hope story's like the Finland's and this one will inspire more people to build resources for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music Monday

Today was long. Not awful, but not good either. Too much indecision about things that are complicated and hard to make decisions about but really need decisions. Too many dropped balls. Too many people. Just... too much.

I need to lose myself in a song and let the day go. And the best song to lose myself in is a long one, that I know all of the words to and just absolutely adore. Which leads me to, Konstantine by Something Corporate.

I don't know what it is that makes me love this song so very much, but I have for years and still do.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Walking and Reading, Reading and Walking

I've always been a bit of an obsessive reader.

As a kid, around 8 or 9, I can remember reading while walking through the grocery store with my mom. Resting my book on the cart handle and pushing it along while my mom filled the cart with groceries. Needless to say, my mom, and the other shoppers at our neighborhood IGA weren't so happy with this practice. Luckily our grocery store had a babysitting room and since I couldn't possibly stop reading long enough to shop I started to go there instead. I would go over to the room, sign myself in, sit in the corner with my book and happily read. My mom would stop by when she was ready to get in the check out line and give me a 5 minute warning and then I'd sign myself out and meet her by the register. A kid signing them self in and out was also frowned upon but, I guess they liked that better than me bumping into their displays with a shopping cart! Too bad I figured out back then that reading and walking doesn't work out because these days I'm doing a lot of walking when I'd much rather be reading!

As I mentioned the other day, we're in the midst of a walking challenge for work. I know my team isn't going to win, but these challenges make me competitive, and I feel like I have to contribute to my team total with a respectable number of steps each week. And to make it a bit of a challenge for myself, I try to get more steps each week than I did the week before.

If it weren't for the pull of a good book I'd be balanced about this, aiming for an average of around 11K steps a day, seven days a week. (That amount isn't easy for someone who spends a good bit of the day sitting at a desk - or who is naturally lazy - but it's do-able.) But several nights over the past two weeks I've let books win out so the past two weekends have been spent playing catch up.

Last Saturday I spent the day wandering downtown DC and racked up 25k steps and then got 14k Sunday in my neighborhood and Old Town Alexandria. Yesterday and today it was back to DC and I got 21k and 18k respectively.

My legs hurt (especially one ankle) and I'm exhausted, but I have to say, I really really love wandering DC. It's so easy to get caught up in day to day life and forget about all of the amazing places that we can access for free, right in our own back yard.

Yesterday I walked from Eastern Market to Chinatown and met a friend at the Museum of American Art/The National Portrait Gallery. I had NO CLUE they were in the same building until I got inside. And was even more perplexed by the way they alternate sides of the building as you go to the higher floors. I liked the American Art more than the Portraits and thought the exhibit on the Art of Video Games was super cool! After dinner at District of Pi I walked back to L'Enfant to metro home.

Today's trek took me from Arlington Cemetery to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall and back. The Memorial is pretty impressive and was really nicely done. And the walk to and from it was pretty nice as well. I got to pay attention to random fun facts that you don't notice when driving around the city. Like the fact that the Dogwoods and Tulips in the circle at 110 and Memorial Bridge are dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson. Or that the big sculptures at the foot of the bridge on the DC side were gifts from Italy.

My DC to do list is still pretty lengthy - there are so many places I've yet to explore in my short time as a resident of the area so I guess it's a good thing that this walking challenge will keep me moving for several more weeks!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh so addictive!

I spontaneously bought an iPod Touch last weekend, which is a bit out of character for me.

Usually big purchases require lots of consideration and probably a scouting trip to the store before the actual purchase.

But my old nano, which is only about 2 years old, stopped letting me control the volume when I had headphones in. No headphones - volume control works just fine. Headphones - your option is loud, loud or loud, thank you very much.

I'm in the midst of a walking challenge for work so I've been a lot more active lately and the iPod has been a daily companion on said walks. Sunday afternoon when I thought I was on my way home my car just seemed to drive itself to Best Buy and 10 minutes later I had a new, moderately expensive, toy.

As I'm still uber loyal to my Blackberry (which is completely appropriate based on where I live, according to the Washington Post) and have yet to convince myself why I *need* an iPad, this is my first opportunity to download lots of fun apps!

And I have to say, I am loving it! I haven't fully explored instagram yet since the need for wi-fi to upload makes it a bit tricky but my favorite, most addicting find is Scramble with Friends! I was kinda feeling a bit played out on WWF so this new game came at the most opportune time.

You love it too, right? You want to be said friend and play it with me right? That's what I thought.

Stacy_Michele is the user name. Pretty please, let's play!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music Monday - Autism Awareness Edition

Today is Autism Awareness Day and so I decided to dedicate my Music Monday to raising a bit of awareness.

Thanks to the power of the internet I've spent the past few years reading about a little guy named Jack who has autism. His mom Jean, aka Stimey, writes a blog that details their family's exploits, including the sometimes challenges but oftentimes awesomeness that is Jack. She also writes about his brothers, their multitude of pets (real and, um, not real) and the general antics of family life. I heart her blog.

When I had the idea this morning to dedicate today's Music Monday to Jack I emailed Jean to ask her what his favorite song is. She responded quickly that his favorite songs are the music from Mario video games. She gave me a back up idea (a Phish song!) but of course YouTube came through for me, and for Jack!

In fact, I've got two options for you, the traditional:

And my personal favorite, this awesome Acapella version that I think is SO cool!

Pretty cool, huh?

Now that you've enjoyed some tunes, another really cool thing for you to do would be to support Jack and his friend's and their Special Hockey team the Montgomery Cheetahs with their upcoming fundraiser. If you are prepared to cry, you can read more about this team for kids with special needs and how much it means to Jack (and Jean) here, here, here and here. I mean it about the crying, I hope your tissues are handy.

Activities for kids with special needs are pretty hard to come by. And families who have kids with special needs spend so much money on doctor co-pays and added therapies, often not covered by insurance. And, hockey is an expensive sport to play. So, for those reasons, and because Jack is smart and funny and such a cool kid, I really hope you'll support his team!