Tuesday, September 18, 2012

music, of the classical variety

If your day was anything like my day, you may be overwhelmed right now. You may be tired, or frustrated, or wishing we were just a tad closer to Friday.

For this very reason, I will not wait a moment longer before I share this video with you.

I can't stop watching it. My father decided to take up violin lessons after he saw it. My sister thought of her piano. And I was reminded - yet again - that humanity is, at it's core, good, pure and true.

{Such reminders are often necessary in our current climate of war, hunger, disease, and divisive politics.}

I should also mention straight away that I am not really a classical music fan. With the exception of the movie Fantasia (a true delight!!), toccata and fugue in D minor, and fur elise, classical music has never been my forte. But after watching this video I see how very, very wrong I am. Perhaps we should be exposed to classical music in the streets, rather than in Great Halls? Just a thought.

Without further ado, I give you the best video you will watch all month:

Please please watch it. Travel to On Being to read a bit of commentary for video.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Today I woke up, and summer had turned to fall.

The wind, the temperature, the smell of the air. Fall, fall, fall.

We had a hard summer, DC and I. It was hot, it was sticky, it lasted much too long. Worst of all, I moved from Atlanta in April, and I somehow thought that moving 12 hours north would be somewhat of a reprieve.

Even though I lived in DC before. During the summer. Even though I know that DC was built on a swamp.

Despite those things, it still caused me physical pain when - throughout the summer - I called Tom in Atlanta and it. was. always. hotter. in. DC. Always. It caused me physical pain when my beautiful, darling, then-5-month-pregnant sister visited me all the way from San Francisco during record-breaking heat. 110 degrees. Every day. The poor thing. She tried to enjoy fireworks in the nations capitol, a baseball game, 4th of July parade, museums on the Mall. But that week the humidity was a solid mass that settled around us as we tried to enjoy the city. We would sweat just looking outside to guess at the temperature. And that is only just barely an exaggeration. Her relief to get back on the plane to California was real and palpable.

I wanted to go with her.

I digress.

We have finally reached autumn. I can feel it. The air may get hot again, we may have another 90 degree day, but that day will only be an intruder in this season. It is breezy, cool, windows-open weather. I looked at my scarves today. I peeked past my summer dresses and there they were, castaways in the back of my closet. They smiled at me, I think. An absence that lasted much, much too long.

I welcome you, Fall. I'm happy you are here. I am kicking myself for planning a Florida trip next weekend (too hot), and a Russia trip the week after (too cold).

Because right now, DC? You are juuusssttt right.

Autumn 2011

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Resource List of Lovely Things

Today, I finished a book that made me cry, and watched a movie that made me cry. I cannot recommend either highly enough - it is amazing what the human spirit can endure.

The book that made me cry
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  Horrifying, beautiful, heart-wrenching and terrific all at once. Words are rarely used with such care; Death is rarely so empathetic.

The movie that made me cry
Water. There is a reason why Time called it 'a triumph', why the Toronto Star gave it four stars, and Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up. I rented it from my library - perhaps yours has it too. If you have the opportunity to watch it, you must.

Other lovely things that did not make me cry:

1. A rather lovely gift card - I ordered a gift card for a friend from Anthropologie. Oh how cute it is - I am keeping it on my counter so that I can smile at it until I mail it to my friend.


2 - Mac and Cheese. Mac and cheese from pink-parsley. Tomatoes from the grocery store. Basil from my garden. You will not be disappointed if you throw this together for your family. Yum!

3. Library goodies. The movies were all good, and I am getting started on the books. Forgive my blurry photography (bad blogger!!): Water, Wuthering Heights, 101 Dalmations, Ratatouille, Interview with the Vampire, The Thirteenth Tale.

4. My sister and her brand new husband visited me this week as part of their honeymoon. We had a lovely time; I miss her radiant self already. Their visit allowed me to convert my sleeper sofa from sofa to sleeper. After they left this morning, I took the sheets off the bed and folded the blanket, but couldn't bring myself to put it back to sofa just yet. It looked too comfy all pulled out, so I decided to keep it there to read and nap and watch Water on. A bed in the living room is sometimes a very fun thing.

5. My pup, who always photo bombs my pics. Love this gal.

6. Thunderstorms that shake me from a nap.
I love sideways rain, tree-shaking wind, air that cools the city from 90 degrees to 70. Rain that keeps me on the couch, wind that makes me check the radar. Tornado watch, flood warning, thunderstorm in effect.

The porch door is open, air smells fresh, pup by my side

Saturday night loveliness.....

**Editing this post to say: Apparently 12 people were injured in the DC area due to these storms, and 1,000 people are without power. No matter how much I love a good storm, I only love it if people are not hurt. Please consider preparing for extreme weather.**

Monday, July 30, 2012

in bloom

my first flower to bloom; my first fruit to ripen

This is supposed to be a 'Boom Boom Red' Dahlia, but it looks purple to me...

a happy day indeed

And now.....

I have made a vow to myself that I will turn 30 with an immaculately clean house and a fridge full of homemade food. This week will be full of cleaning, and full of cooking. I'm thinking a Turkish feast will be in order for Sunday (using this book, of course):

Friday, June 29, 2012

helloooo heat!

First off, this song has been stuck in my head for a week. I was humming it to myself in NYC all last weekend when it was blazing hot, and it fits this DC weekend as well.

And let's all admire the album cover together, shall we?

Today was a scorcher. At it's hottest, the temperature in DC was 104 degrees with a heat index of 112.  Ouch!

But it's Friday, my house is cool, and I can't complain. Fun fact: my AC isn't even on! I expected it to be hot when I got home, but since I'm on the first floor, only have a few windows, and keep my shades drawn, the house is really comfortable. I'm not sure how long I can keep the AC off, but if it isn't hot at 104 degrees, I might be able to make it through the summer AC free.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to turn on the oven to have a weekend bake-fest like I originally planned. No ma'am, my oven and stovetop will remain in the off position for the near future.

So dinner was quick, easy, and cool. Very refreshing as well.

One cucumber, some grape tomatoes, a container of feta and some olive oil. Delish! Also, a glass of chilled white wine in my souvenir Zarkana cup.


Yes, the green plate was not the appropriate choice for photographing this dish....I hope you can still see the magnificence
This dish reminds me of the breakfast that Tom and I had every morning in Turkey. Tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese. We thought it was an odd breakfast at first, but it is so fresh and healthy that it really grows on you.

What do you "cook" when the mercury rises? I need some suggestions, stat!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

summer is here, dear

This morning it was 72 degrees in DC. "Soak it in, Self" I thought. Our weather is looking quite scary for the weekend, as we - along with the entire East Coast - get ready for the weekend heat wave.

But lest I be accused of dwelling on the negative, lets spend some time discussing the glories of this season upon us. Fresh peaches from the farmers market, fresh plums from my neighbor's yard. I was walking by my neighbor's house with Barley when their dog Katie ran out to play. They were picking plums from their tree and asked if I wanted any - apparently there is an abundance of plums right now and "are becoming a nuisance." So really, I considered it my neighborly duty to swipe these three plums here.

Anyone else spy a little dog nose in the far left of that picture up there?

The fruit couldn't keep her attention for too long, and I think she was secretly wishing she lived next door with the guy who grills meat every night rather than with the mostly-vegetarian who tries to feed her potato peelings and eggplant. Just look at her attention span:

Happy Summer! Happy Almost-4th-of-July!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

NYC Love

This guy is pretty awesome.

Hates cities, doesn't like traffic or noise. Country boy at heart.

And this weekend, because I wanted to oh-so-badly, he came to New York City with me.

He flew from Atlanta to DC. We took a Chinatown bus from DC to NYC and a Bolt bus from NYC to DC. He walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, navigated the Subway, walked through Times Square (3 times), booked us a room in the middle of it all, walked to Central Park, accompanied me to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, stood silent with me at Ground Zero, stood under scaffolding with me during a rainstorm, waited for 1.5 hours to get to the top of the Empire State Building, survived on five hours of sleep a night, walked everywhere, took me to Cirque du Soleil, and treated me to the most amazing three-course Italian dinner last night.

I know you wanted trees, the beach, or a quiet local bar. I know you wanted to shut out the traffic and the bright lights and just go to sleep. But you didn't complain even once. You treated it like the adventure that it was, and kept a smile on your face.

Thank you Tom, thank you a million times over.

It all meant so much.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Things (DC)

First off, Happy Summer Solstice!

I've always wanted to celebrate this day in style, but for some reason I've never really celebrated this very long day.... there is always next year.

DC is turning out to be quite a dream. Every day, something new worms its way into my heart. The rowhouses, the friendly people (yes really!), the tourist on the metro today who realized for the first time that all of the Smithsonian Museums are free (hallelujah!), a new flower, a new happy hour spot, friendly neighbors.... my list is one of those neverending ones, and I am truly happy to be here.

DC Brau is the only brewery in DC, and this pale ale is very tasty! They also can their beer rather than bottle it - such hipsters we are!

Yesterday on my way to the supermarket, the flower vendor on the street insisted on giving me this flower. I told him I didn't have any cash and that I had zero intention of buying anything, but that I would come back another day to buy a bouquet. He was insistent that I take the flower, and I was equally insistent that I couldn't take it. His face fell, and asked "you don't like flowers?" Very often the nicest thing that we can do is to let someone else do something nice for us. That has been very hard for me to learn in my life, but I can see how good it makes the other person feel when I allow them in - let them help me.

We shook hands and introduced ourselves. He didn't push me to buy a bouquet - he just wanted to give me a flower. "Don't pay - I have enough money. Take this flower, please." People are genuinely good - sometimes we refuse to see it.

I also happen to love this rug - $20 at Ikea

Somewhere in DC (Georgetown), someone posted this sign on their door. LOVE.

"Nobody gets in to see the wizard/Not nobody, not nohow"
I have a fireplace. I am so insanely excited. On this first day of summer, I look at my fireplace and dream of that chilly day when I can finally test it out (sacrilege I know). 

My commute is the best in the world. I map out where to sit on the train so that this is my view in the morning and going home.

Those are just a few of the things keeping me happy today. How is your day shaping up? And do you have any summer solstice celebration suggestions? {say that three times fast}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Let's talk about how amazing this is....

Every Tuesday, I stop by the farmers market after work on my way to the train. I like filling up my purse with fresh goodies - strawberries, kale, bread, cheese. I overload myself with produce, and then merge into the rush hour crowd on the metro with my arms full of food. Today I held a huge pile of leeks and chard in my arms - a fun contrast to the suits and cell phones all around me.

As I was riding the train, I imagined up a lovely meal and decided to try it tonight. It was yum, amazing, perfect. Here it is.

**But let's first discuss my poor photography skills. I bought a wonderful camera, but I haven't yet learned how to use it. So all of my pictures have a tiny area that is in focus, while the rest is blurry. You can't fault Canon for that, really. You should blame me. But I think you'll still get the main gist of the meal.**

1. Buy a loaf of bread, some greens, and some cheese. The highest quality and the freshest that you can afford - you will be rewarded! I used a loaf of kalamata olive bread, some chard (mixed red and yellow), and some buffalo mozzarella I picked up from the supermarket.

2. Put some butter in a pan, and let it get all melty. {Nope, it's not a word. But it fits.}

3. Put a couple of slices of bread in your pan to toast.

4. Tear up your chard and put it in the pan as well. You can eat the chard stems (I wasn't sure either so I looked it up). The stems will add some nice texture to the dish, but all the nutrients are in the leaves.

5. After one side of your toast is golden brown, flip it over to toast the other side.

(I really wish this photo had come out. The golden brown-ness was so perfect.)

6. Put your chard on top of the bread after it becomes a bit wilted. Top with slices of the mozzarella.

7. Cover your pan with a lid to steam the greens a bit more and melt the cheese.

8. Oh look!! My chard got charred!! Haha. When you live alone you can make these jokes to yourself and laugh at your wit.

9. Enjoy!! The kalamata olive bread, the mozzarella cheese, the earthy flavor of the chard - this was an amazing combination. I'm so glad I had time to dream about dinner whilst on the train. Quick, easy, and delicious.

{I ate this by picking it up with my hands, but I'm assuming you could go all proper and use a knife and a fork if that suits you.}

My patio is pretty phenomenal. My apartment is tiny, but my patio is ginormous. Outdoor space = happy Dana

PS. Would you like a sneak peak of my kitchen? It is tiny, but it suits me just fine. It is nice to have a place of your own - a small sanctuary in which to escape.

And since it is so tiny (this goes for my whole apartment, really), only my favorite things are allowed to take up permanent residence. My cork collection (to make a cork board some day); the Yorkshire tea towel I got in England; the cutting board Tom's mom and sister got me for my birthday last year; Kermit (a gift from Tom), who sits atop my fridge (you can see his little foot at the top of the frame).

These days are good days, aren't they?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A birthday gift.... to myself

I am going to Russia, boarding a train, and riding it through Mongolia and to Beijing. This is my 30th birthday gift to myself, and I am going solo.

If I told you that whenever I think of this trip I get chills, would you believe me? If I told you that I was smiling like a goon walking from the metro stop to my front door today, would you believe it?

Well, so it is. I always imagined myself with wee babes at this age, a toddler on my hip and a baby in my arms. But if, when I turn 30, I have not children on my hip but adventure in my heart, then I shall still consider myself lucky.

Maybe things really do happen for a reason. I am so ready to get on that train by myself and greet the other side of the world. "Hello world!!!" I almost want to scream. None of this would be happening if life went according to my initial plan.

And how thankful I am, that things are unfolding not according to my plan, but to Yours.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Locked Doors

I owe you a really long post. A catch-up. An explanation of an absence.

Oh I really, really do.

In the last month, I have moved to DC, started a new job, uprooted my life, said goodbye, said hello, made new friends, tried new things, breathed new air, been thankful for the newness at every corner. I have been very very sad, and then very very happy, barely any time to experience the emotions in between.

And really, trying to sum all of that up is daunting. The new apartment, my new {huge!} patio/garden, my failed/successful attempts at vermicomposting...... so many things to say.

But I shall start with this:

Locked doors are really not so bad after all. It is a way of meeting neighbors, seeing people when they are vulnerable, helping someone in need.

Story Number One
On Saturday, I went outside to walk Barley - barefoot; no cell phone, keys or wallet. It was a happy-go-lucky, tra-la-la type of evening. We were outside for less than two minutes, and when we came back I realized that the door was locked. There is no worse feeling than staring at your front door and realizing that you cannot get in. Especially when you are barefoot, don't know anyone nearby, and have no means of contacting help. For a while, until it all sinks in, you must just stand and look at your front door, willing it to open. {Tell me I'm not the only one to do this.}

A moment of light {hallelujah, angels, all that jazz} came upon me when I realized that I had left the back door to my patio open. {I live in a townhouse-style building, so my backyard is bordered by both my neighbor's backyards, and there is a gate between all the patios.} Cautiously, quite reluctantly, I rang the bell of my next-door neighbor. Oh-so-thankfully, he was at home (woo hoo!). But I certainly did get the raised eyebrow when I asked to walk through his house and through his patio to get to mine. He apologized profusely for his messy house (it was immaculately clean), and was kind about letting me (and my dog) barge right in. How Neighborly!!!

As it turns out, he was about to go out for the evening and invited me along. We had a grand time exploring the neighborhood, and he showed me all the best spots to grab a beer on a Saturday night (friend #1!!).

Story Number Two
Tonight, I went outside to walk Barley (is this sounding quite familiar yet?). I very obsessively checked three times to make sure I had my keys, and after I got outside met a woman - about my age - who had locked herself out of her apartment. She was standing in the courtyard with her dog (a much more well-behaved dog than mine, might I add), and was visibly upset. She had no cell phone, money, or means of contacting anyone. Of course I invited her inside my house to use my phone/internet and to contact a locksmith. And just before the locksmith arrived to let her inside, we agreed that we would have to meet again in a less disaster-like scenario (friend #2!!).

I'm not going to wax poetic about why "when one door closes another one opens" (<-- hardy har), but the situation is quite ironic. I am meeting my neighbors - one by one - by one of us locking ourselves out of our apartment and being forced to meet the other.

It is so very easy to pass by our neighbors with a cursory nod. It is easy to feign indifference and chat on our cell phones and text away as we pass people on the sidewalk. But when we find ourselves without cell phones and keys and accessible homes, we really must turn to our neighbors for help. I am so intrigued by these people that live only a foot from me, separated by drywall and a few layers of paint. I hope to meet more of my neighbors - really talk to them and get to know them.

Though, I do hope that we can keep locked doors and locksmiths out of the relationship from here on. We've learned our lesson, thankyouverymuch. We'll make proper acquaintances from here on by ourselves.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I am very very very excited.

This girl here, who once thought that she would be a writer, and now isn't so sure, is participating in a writing project!!!

And you can too!

You can go here to Scintilla to sign up. After you sign up (and starting on 3/14), a prompt will be sent to you every day. You can write a response to the prompt and post it on your blog.

Or you can just respond to the prompts in your own private journal, but I don't think that would be quite as fun.

For two weeks - starting on 3/14 - I will participate in the project, and will be posting my responses to the prompts here.

I hope you'll join me.


Sun setting, birds chirping, neighborhood dogs barking, light filtering through the trees. Sweatshirt-wearing, wine-drinking, book-reading, Barley-petting.

Wish I had a wide-angle lens to capture what this is all about, but I guess that wouldn't be enough anyway. Can't take a picture of the cool breeze, the warm sun, the taste of wine, the smell of new leaves.

Spring is coming.

Spring is coming indeed.

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