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Christmas Survey!

Saw this survey on Sweet Tooth Sweet Life and thought it looked like fun 🙂

I’m trying really hard to get into the holiday spirit over here! We’ve been busy and the apartment is basically like a hospital ward so it’s not SUPER festive. We did bake chocolate chip cookies this weekend AND I made a gingerbread cake roll (special post on that is happening since it takes care of one of my Winter To Do list items). I don’t know if many of our planned “Christmas” activities are happening this year (ZooLights or others) since poor Mike is so sick. Definitely not putting pressure on ourselves right now, and favoring nights at home with warm mugs of tea and the kitties 🙂

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1. Favorite Christmas Album/CD/Song? I’m probably going to get stoned in the blog world for saying this because everyone like LOVES Christmas music, but I don’t get super super into it. I like traditional Christmas carols but I never really listen to pop Christmas music. The one song I specifically love though is J-i-n-g-l-e Bells by Frank Sinatra. I remember listening to this song when I was little, decorating the Christmas with my grandmother and my dad. It’s a very happy memory for me 🙂

2. Run on Christmas morning or take the day off? Run or exercise of some kind. I like getting a little sweat in before spending the rest of the day being blissfully unaware of the amount of butter I am consuming! Last Christmas my mom, dad, and I went on a family bike ride on Christmas morning which was really fun!

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3. What do you usually eat on Christmas morning? First things first… coffee! We are a huge coffee drinking family and I remember as a little kid my brother and I would be dying to get downstairs to open our presents but we had to wait for the grown ups (my mom, my dad, and my grandmother) to get their coffee first. Then after we open our Christmas presents under the tree, we stop and cook family breakfast before heading over to open our stockings (which, for my entire life, have always been filled with personal care products like deodorant… Zimmermans are practical is nothing else!). We cook a pretty standard breakfast of bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs (with cheese… but that’s a given), and toast.

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4. Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition? I used to love putting up the Christmas tree with my dad. Unfortunately, not that I don’t live at home anymore, he puts up his tree and I put up my own little tree. Right now I would say it is baking OR shopping for stocking stuffers with my dad.

5. Real tree, fake tree or no tree? When I was little we used to get a real tree. I wasn’t super into picking it out (I mean they all kinda look the same to me) but I loved that every night before bed my dad would crush up an Aspirin and my brother and I would go put it in the water under the tree. See, my dad is a chemist so most of my young life was an extended chemistry lab. Apparently, when you cut a tree’s trunk, the tree will create a seal over the exposed surface. Over time, the tree will not being able to suck up water anymore and dry up. The aspirin dissolves this cap to keep the tree healthy longer! Sweet right?

But then as we got older, we got a fake tree because the dog kept drinking the tree / aspirin water. My dad loves having a Christmas tree up. If he had his druthers the tree would be up from the day after Thanksgiving until Epiphany (which is January 6th in case you weren’t aware). I got my first tree of my own in December 2010 and I was so proud of it (it was also fake). This year we have two mini trees. We originally had one out on the balcony and one in the apartment but the cats demolished the inside tree within 5 hours so that went outside too. Here is my parents’ tree and both of ours.

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6. Christmas pajamas… yay or nay? I could see myself being into this but I’ve never had any. I normally don’t actually wear “pajamas”. Sometimes I have flannel pants but its usually just tshirt and pants or shorts.

7. Where do you spend the holidays? Well up until this year that was really a no brainer… with my family. I was, as we know, a single gal (well Mike and I were together last year but we weren’t at the spending the holidays together point yet). When we lived in New Jersey we always saw my mom’s brother’s family on Christmas eve and my dad’s side of the family of Christmas day. My grandmother always came and stayed with us for Christmas too, until she passed away when I was in 5th grade. Now that my parents live in North Carolina, I go there and spend Christmas with them. We skype with my Dad’s side of the family to exchange gifts though (we do a gift exchange where everyone buys a gift for one person). This year though Mike and I will be spending the holiday up through Christmas Eve with his family in Charlottesville and then driving down to North Carolina later on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas day and a few days after with my family.

8. Food that you always have during the holiday season? Favorite Christmas food/treat? So we are Italian… but my mom has PTSD related to her grandmother soaking a baccala (that is Italian for a giant smelly cod fish… in case you were interested) in the bathtub next to her bedroom. So we don’t do the traditional Italian meal of the seven fishes. Which is totally fine by me. We usually eat pasta on Christmas Eve (sometimes its rigatoni with vodka sauce, recently it’s been fettucini alfredo with spicy Italian sausage), and some kind of meat on Christmas day. We used to do a turkey on Christmas but we abandoned that tradition because it’s too much work! We were eating ham for many years… but I don’t actually love ham that much. In recent years it’s been steak, potatoes, and veggie dishes supplied by moi (I like to trick my family into eating brussel sprouts hehe).

Christmas is always about baking with my Dad though. I got him a pizzelle iron a couple years ago so now we make those (with vanilla extract instead of anise because I don’t like anise!). We also make traditional chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies. The sugar cookie is heavily debated every year though. My dad insists on making the “easy no-roll option” and cooking them until they are “crispy” which is dad-speak for burnt. I always want to make the kind you roll out, punch shapes, and decorate with icing. No dice though haha. I also added snickerdoodles to the rotation a couple years ago and they’re a big hit! I personally always want to make a chocolate pecan pie for dessert… I think I’m the only one who likes it though 😀

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9. Open presents all at once or take turns? Take turns! Even when I was a little kid we had to open our presents one at a time and watch when other people were opening their presents. I love that tradition. It made us savor Christmas morning so much longer. It was also nice that everyone got the attention on them when they were opening!

10. Favorite Christmas(ish) movie? A CHRISTMAS STORY! Mike and I have been discussing this a lot recently because he has… wait for it… NEVER SEEN IT. I feel like that is a complete travesty. I mean the movie is only on 12 times in a row on TBS starting at 8:00 pm on Christmas Eve. 24 hours of A Christmas Story! Mike never had cable though… so that’s probably it. His favorite Christmas movie is The Muppets Christmas Carol. My dad is a big fan of A Christmas Carol too but he likes the super old version. Every year I’d wake up on a Saturday morning to find that he had just watched it (on VHS clearly). The rest of the holiday is typically sprinkled with my dad sporadically yelling out “ARE THERE NO PRISONS??” My dad is such a hoot 🙂

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It’s been a good run

(Note: Totally meant to post this on Friday but you know how moving is… let’s pretend it’s still Friday)

It’s moving day!!!!!!!

This feels somewhat like the end of an era in many ways. This apartment was my very first “big girl” apartment. I moved in less than 2 months after graduating from college, and I had no idea how to do basically anything. Me trying to figure out how much personal property coverage I should get from my rental insurance company was comical. I thought graduating from college and getting a job would make me an adult but no. This apartment made me an adult. It was the first place in the world that was completely mine, and it was totally my responsibility to take care of it. It was frustrating as hell some days… but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was the perfect first apartment for a single girl living in a city (My friend Dara referred this as the”total rom-com period” of my life… though it wasn’t actually all that glamorous).

I’m going to miss this apartment. It was my home through some really major life changes! I met and fell in love with my soul mate living here. I started running, I ran my first race, my first half marathon, and then my first marathon too!

This was also the apartment where I brought Fig home from the shelter. I felt like I had built this wonderful loving home, and I just needed to share that with an animal who needed one. He is my favorite bargain buy of all time ($50 from the Washington Animal Rescue League… he was a total steal!!)

The apartment is also in an amazing location / neighborhood, had a sweet walk in closet, and was the best apartment I found that I could still afford!

But in life, all chapters must eventually come to an end, and I am so excited to see what my next chapter has in store for me!! So in the spirit of keeping things light and in perspective here’s a couple things that I will definitely NOT miss about this apartment:

1. The kitchen. Sailboats have bigger kitchens. Having me, Mike, and Fig in this bathroom gives me an anxiety attack. I also have this really little stove / oven combo and there is a small space between the edge of the stove top and the wall. It’s like a vortex for food. I have dropped more crap down in that little space (that is too small for me to get my hand in). Infuriating.

2. The bathroom. It’s so small the door actually hits the toilet when you open / close it. One of my movers was kind enough to point that out to me when moving my stuff in. Hey, thanks man. I also dropped an entire jar of microwavable hot wax in there (you think you’re saving yourself a little money and look what happens). It’s never really been the same since then.

3. The Community Laundry Room. The people who work in my building rock. The people who live in it on the other hand… do not. I once received a typed note on my dryer informing me that I was a “spoiled brat” because I accidentally left my laundry too long. Also, community laundry rooms always suck no matter how awesome people are.

Can’t wait to post pictures of the new apartment soon!! ❤

How To: Budget Wall Decor

I love my apartment. My friend Sarah and I recently discussed how we want to die in our apartments and even then we don’t want to leave them. I live in this amazing studio with a sun room in an awesome neighborhood in DC. Moved in two months after I graduated from college and I’ve lived there happily ever since. Here’s the ONLY problem… the walls are huge (because its basically one big room) and they are insane asylum white. They drove me crazy for months after I moved in … I just HAD to cover them with something.

The stipulations of my lease say that  I can nail / screw anything into the walls, but I cannot use adhesive. At the time I thought… awesome! I’ll just nail everything to the wall, super easy. Not so much. My walls are solid concrete. Trying to hammer a nail in there was a comedy of errors ending in one sore hand, many many many bent nails, but no holes in the walls.

I initially had these really great photo collages that I made after college with hundred of pictures of me and my friends and all the fun stuff we did during college (READ: we were drinking in most of them). I used tape even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to. I figured, what could the harm be? Haha, I was about to find out. Last fall I decided that the days of the collage had come to an end. They were always falling down, the pictures were curling, one fell on me while I was sleeping, and I wanted to give the apartment a more “adult vibe”. When I pulled the collages down off the wall, however, I quickly realized why adhesives were not allowed in the lease. After a brief adventure with goof off and Spackle, and a shoddy re-paint job, my walls were back to insane asylum white.

As I mentioned, my walls are huge. There was no way I could afford art or anything like that to cover the space. I also really love having personal photos around the apartment. I took photography in high school and I really, really loved it. I didn’t keep up with it as I got older, but I still have a heart for it. This was quite a project but here’s how it went. First, I needed to find a way to hang stuff on the walls. So I did what any resourceful 24 year old woman would do, I googled it (I googled “hanging stuff on concrete walls” to be specific… look at me, master of the interwebs). I found this article on The Self Sufficient Urbanite  … perfect! I went to Walmart, purchased my first big-girl drill (Black & Decker 9099KC … the cheapest one they had. Drills are SUPER expensive), two sizes of concrete drill bits, and concrete screws, and I got to work. Here’s some ideas for cheap but cool wall coverings with a personal touch:

Over my “desk” area, I hung this painting done by yours truly. I did it in one of those painting / drinking wine classes I went to with a group of girlfriends. We got a coupon for it, so for $30 I got a night with my friends, two glasses of wine, and what I now consider to be my personal painting masterpiece. I think it was $30 well spent.

For the space over my TV (and yes my vacuum lives here too) I chose a painting that once belonged to my dad. It’s pretty cool and goes with my color scheme (my entire apartment is a green, brown, and gold theme). I like the idea of having this “handed down” piece.

For my closet, I held on to two of my favorite photos from my high school photography years. They’re mounted but never framed so they’re really beat up. These were from a shoot I did focusing on “fashion”, so I think the closet is the ideal place for them to live.

The other… living on top of my shoe rack (ok, one of my shoe racks).

For the walls in the bathroom, I took two photos that I shot in Venice, blew them up in black and white, and framed them  in simple black frames. The bathroom is the only room in my apartment that doesn’t follow the green, brown and gold theme. The tile is black and white and I’ve included silver accents with a little bit of purple. These two photos (one of a fleet of gondolas and the other of this adorable little girl playing with pigeons in St. Mark’s Square) are the perfect edition to the room. It cost $8 to print the 8×10 photos, and the frames were $3.50 each from Walmart. Amazing.

The wall over my couch was my biggest nemesis. It is positively huge and very wide. I decided to highlight some of the places I have traveled through favorite photographs. I selected three and ordered 12 x 18 in photo canvases from CVS photo ($34.99 each). They actually look smaller in the space than I had hoped, but they’re better than nothing! I also really, really like the individual canvases.

This is a photo I shot of a rainbow of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

This is the port in Vancouver at sunset.

This is a mountain island in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Alaska.

I’m considering two more photo canvases for this wall to fill out the space but this will have to do for now! The only space I have left to fill is the wall space above my bed. I have a pretty exciting DIY planned so more of that in the future 🙂

Drill Master.