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Goals and Intentions for the New Year

Last year was, by far, one of the best years I've had in a long time. In my bullet journal, I did a year in review and was so pleased to see so many positive items under each month. Don't get me wrong, the year wasn't without its downfalls, but overall, it was a great year.

When I looked at all of the things I'd written down for the year in review, I realized why: because I shook things up and made some big moves. I fought for things I might not have previously. I pushed myself to do things that made me uncomfortable. I tried new things. None of those things just happened on their own - I made them happen. It made me realize I'd not previously been doing this; I'd been sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to happen on their own, and that's not how life works.

I sat down and made a list of goals for 2019 and placed everything in a category: personal, relationships, finances, home, and health. I also came up with a word for the year. I've seen othe…

2019 Reading Challenge with Bookish Jay and the Reading Mermaid

One of my annual goals for 2019 is to keep reading. I love reading and it's always been a hobby of mine, but I've not been consistent with it over the last few years.

I'm in a book club that rotates hosts and each month's host gets to choose the book we read. I've read some great books I wouldn't normally pick up this way and I want more of that because I can get stuck in a rut with reading the same stuff. So, in addition to my book club picks, I wanted to try out a reading challenge.

It just so happens that my pal Julie and her friend Jay organized such a challenge this year. You can read about it on Julie's blog here and the prompts are below. I'll be adding the book I read for each prompt as I complete them.

1. A book set in your home state, or province for our Canadian buddies.
Florida by Lauren Groff

2. You saw the movie but didn’t read the book…. now read the book.

3. Carpe read ‘em- a title on your TBR for 1+ years.

4. Flora: flower on the cover.

Washington, D.C. Vacation: Monuments Bike Tour

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Finally, the end of the D.C. vacation posts. I thought our favorite activity should get its own post since we enjoyed it so much.

I knew I wanted us to do a monuments at night tour. The monuments are stunning at any time of day, but at night...wow. They can be breathtaking; the soft light, the tall figures, the quietness. Something about seeing them at night makes the experience even more profound.

After researching different tour companies, I decided we'd do our own tour by renting out Capital Bikeshare bicycles. Capital Bikeshare works like this: for $8 you can rent a bicycle for 24 hours. You can have any single bike out for 30 min, after which you have to exchange it for another bike at a station or start paying a fee that gets charged to your card automatically. There are rental stations all over the city and tons near the monuments.

I crafted our route after viewing the station map and using Google Maps to determine how long it would take us to get from one monument to the …

Washington, D.C. Vacation: Tours

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Left: The Capitol Visitor Center; Right: S and I in the FBI courtyard.

As you're about to read, I wasn't very impressed with the tours we took. I think the word 'tour' needs to be reassessed in these situations because, in my opinion, most of these were not real tours. That said, we made the arrangements through our representative at the House and I was very pleased with the process. We were unable to get the White House tour I requested, but through no fault of the office. Each office has a staffer who sets up tours and other things for guests so that they can more easily see their nation's capital.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Tour: I've wanted to visit the FBI for as long as I can remember. The FBI suspended their tours after 9/11 and only just started doing them again in 2014. I'm unsure what I was expecting, but I'd been hoping for something more than we got. Sadly, it was basically a tour of a museum.

Our guide was from the financial depar…

Washington, D.C. Vacation: Transportation & Accommodations

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Left: A William Wegman piece commissioned by NASA hanging in the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. Right: In-flight TV on our JetBlue flight.

Washington, D.C. is a large city with lots of options for getting around and places to stay. I wanted to share our accommodations and modes of transportation we used.

Airbnb: In the early stages of planning we got discouraged by the extremely high cost of hotels in the District. Hotels in the outer areas seemed less than desirable. I'm far from a hotel snob, but we wanted to stay somewhere nicer for this vacation. After looking around some more, I decided to explore Airbnb and found some great options at much more affordable prices. We chose this Capitol Hill garden apartment and were very happy with our choice. It was super clean, well-decorated, in a perfect location, and the price was right. I'd definitely book an Airbnb again. If you'd like to try out Airbnb for yourself, I have a discount code for $20 off your first stay and I…

Washington, D.C. Vacation: Eats

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Left: My breakfast at Bayou Bakery. Right: A very shadowy photo of me at Old Ebbitt Grill.

I planned our dining options just as much as I planned our museum visits and tours. Food is serious business, after all. To save us a little money we went to a grocery store and brought home bottled waters, breakfast supplies (bagels, bagels, bagels), and snacks. Our Airbnb apartment had a kitchen, so we made use of it and had slower mornings since most DC museums don't open until 10am. Here's a list of places we tried out during our trip!

District Taco: We went to the Eastern Market location and I ordered 3 pollo asado corn tortilla tacos with the "American Way" toppings (cheese, lettuce, pico). There are several locations throughout the District and Virginia and they're set up similarly to Chipotle. They have a large salsa bar and Boylan sodas in the fountain machine. While they may be set up like Chipotle, there's no comparison: District Taco is delicious and way bett…

Washington, D.C. Vacation: Museums & Places

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Left: A cheetah at the National Zoo. Right: One of the installations at the Renwick Gallery.

This week I'm going to be sharing what we did during our vacation in Washington, D.C. last week. We had a great time! A large portion of our time visiting D.C. was spent visiting museums and other sites. You could spend weeks here and probably still not see everything. S and I have both been to the city numerous times before, so we skipped lots of the "staple" museums, like the Air & Space, American History, Natural History, etc. I'll probably revisit them next time I go, but we decided to see some other D.C. spots this time around.

National Zoo: Be prepared to do some walking when you visit the zoo! It is gigantic and there are lots of hills. It is also absolutely beautiful and full of big, well-made habitats for all kinds of animals. We saw a cheetah sprint after a bird, seals playing together in icy water, pandas chomping on bamboo, otters mimicking each other's mov…