24 December 2011

Wishing You a Very Merry Perry Christmas!

We had serious issues trying to pick our holiday card picture this year. We finally decided to use one from our West Coast trip, which maybe wasn't the best idea because the one we ended up using was just about the only good photo of the both of us we took during our entire 2.5 week vacation and you can't even tell where we are. We got it printed the first time with this picture from Seattle to Bainbridge but the printing was way too dark.

Take two... we used the next best picture we could find. This should say something about the pictures we took while we were out there. Let's just say we (intentionally) missed the boat on the generational "MySpace" self-portraits and we haven't mastered the art of taking our self-portraits quite yet. I have faith that someday we will get there...

Of course you couldn't see the background after it was cropped for the card we used. If you could have seen it in the picture, here's what it would have looked like. SO PRETTY. Take me back!

 Just for kicks... here are the failure outtakes from the same location.
[1. zoom fail  2. KT wonk-eye fail  3. cut out the pretty background + cut off JB ear fail]

By the time we were supposed to send the cards out, I was out of steam for the annual letter I usually write. Sorry to those who missed it. I wish I could use the excuse of, "but we have a blog so you should know what we've done all year and you shouldn't need an overview of our year" but I know I've been falling behind on the blog-writing front so I don't even think I can say that!

I really wanted to write "Merry Perry Christmas" on our card. Jason even helped me come up with "A Very Merry Perry Christmas from Candyfornia" since the picture we ultimately used was taken in California. Instead I used a tacky peppermint layout that I loved only because it had peppermints on it. It was subtly Candyfornialicious and thus, less outwardly crazy. Also, I prefer to make our cards all-encompassing (holidays, not just Christmas). But I hope you all know we were wishing you a Very Merry Perry Christmas anyway because that's the kind of year we had (and you all know I'm kind of crazy anyway). If you don't even know to what I'm referring, it's probably best to just carry on...

Happy Holidays to all!

28 November 2011

yppaH Thanksgiving

I flew out to LA to celebrate Thanksgiving (morning) with one of my very best friends. We had fun decorating the table. The writing in the middle? It's mine. I don't even know where I was going with that...
yappH Thanksgiving!

20 November 2011

Second Anniversary Picture

Better late than never right? Here's second anniversary picture (here's the first one - the start of the tradition).

It wasn't exactly our anniversary - it was October 29 (Snowtober) instead of the 25th, but I was sick on our anniversary. And my hair is kinda wet here because by the time we took a photo with a nice background, the snow stopped and it was raining. And Jason wanted to kill me because we were taking a lot of pictures to make sure we got a good one and Rufus got the chihuahua shakes... and... well... this is the best that we got.

17 November 2011

Jackson Hole

In September, Grandma and Grandpa decided they wanted to take one more "last hurrah" trip and picked Jackson Hole as the place. First of all, of course I want to see my family, and second, the Grand Tetons are one of the most incredible sights, making it one of my favorite places in the world to visit.

Dad and I flew in to meet them and two of his siblings - Carolyn and Steve - where we stayed at the Jackson Lake Lodge in cottages for three nights. First we saw the most stunning sunset from the plane. Then, driving to the lodge, the most magnificent display of stars. Dad and I were mesmorized while Steve and Carolyn laughed at us "big city folk." I can't get enough of the sky when I finally get out of the city. But in a place as remote and small as Jackson I am not sure I've ever seen such an incredible display in my life. I made sure I stood outside to take it all in each night. Seeing the Milky Way blows my big city-girl mind.

As soon as we got there it was clear Grandma was not okay. The next morning, after having breakfast with us, she went to the doctor who sent her to the hospital and that's where she stayed for the rest of the trip. My heart hurt for her. How unfair to spend your "last hurrah" trip, in one of the most beautiful places, in the hospital. And she was quite sick. Such a bummer.

We did one small hike. Here's a good view from nearly the top of one of them.
From Dad's camera: Me and Dad

Carolyn, Grandpa, Me (Steve's shot)

Wildlife? Oh yes. Bear, moose, beaver, loons, eagle, elk, deer (a doe and fawn). The encounter with the bear was a little too close for my comfort. He was across the street from the crowd but then decided he wanted to cross it... right in front of me. Between me and the bear was a park ranger with mace. That's it. Check it out (along with my "oh my gods"):

I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Until next time, Jackson...

P.S. My uncle Steve is the pro photographer in the family... see his awesome photos here and here.

31 October 2011


I spent all weekend sick with a bug, taking it easy by mostly laying on the couch and watching the first season of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix (I loved the early seasons but had only watched them once - when they were on TV originally). I woke up early on Saturday, knowing that snow was in the forecast for the morning, but was disappointed by a whole lotta nothin outside and went back to bed. Later in the afternoon we got some slush and sleet and tons of rain. I figured that was all we were going to get. But then as Jason cooked our meatball dinner, he came into the living room and said, "Honey, look!" I turned around to look out the window and what did I see? Giant beautiful snow flakes. We hopped outside and took our first family snow picture!

It was funny to take a snow picture with green bushes behind us because it feels like fall has hardly started around here. There are a few red trees around, and more and more turn everyday, but it seems like most everything is still green! So, while it was fun to have that little bit of snow and cold, I'd like to enjoy fall a little bit more before we get into the true snowy winter season.

[Two of our four pumpkins and our pumpkin tree]

To enjoy fall we lit some candles next to our little pumpkins and watched them glow. We enjoyed some acorn squash and then cooked its seeds (with olive oil, salt, paprika, and crushed red chili powder). They were delicious.

I was just going back through posts from last winter... 
I cannot WAIT for it to truly feel like the holidays. 
There is no better time of year.

But for now... Happy Halloween!
We'll be hanging out with our baby cousins and watch them in their neighborhood's Halloween parade.
Can't wait!
How are you (or did you) celebrate?

25 October 2011

Anniversary Numero Dos

Happy 2nd Anniversary to this guy. 

Damn, you're cute. 
I think I'll keep you forever.

What a magical and beautiful day (freezing, but picture-perfect) it was.
One of the best days of my life.
Not many people get to say they married the one they fell in love with when they were 14.
I got lucky.
Love you, Jason!

19 October 2011

Playing the Real Estate Game in the DC Area

It's been a five (blissful) months since we've gone out to look at houses. We were burned so badly in our search. Countless contracts, three inspections, three realtors. All for nothing. We were searching in vain for over a year by the time we decided to take a break for a while. We needed that break very badly, and the changes we made really did make a difference in our attitudes and life. In that time off, I tried to convince myself that buying a house wasn't the right choice for as many reasons as I could come up, including (but not limited to):
  • I should enjoying being young and carefree without a mortgage.
  • Spending money on concert tickets, going out to eat, etc is way more fun than spending it on a mortgage.
  • We've always wanted to live in another state doing it now before we have kids and want to be near our family makes sense.
  • The majority of our future kids' grandparents will probably move out of town in the next 10 years anyway.
  • Grad school would be the perfect opportunity to live somewhere else for a while.
  • My tools for yard work right now include kitchen scissors and a serving spoon. And I like it that way.
  • Similarly, if something breaks, our sweet land-lady arranges to get it fixed. And pays for it.
  • I love our neighbors and our neighborhood.
Then I devised an alternative five-year plan that did not include homeownership that enabled me to think of those reasons listed above. I did a really good job of convincing myself. It really was a great plan - it was valid and smart.

So I'm still not sure I want to be back in the real estate game, but for every con I came up with there is also a pro to buying right now.

Still, I don't know how I feel about it. If it says anything about our experience, we couldn't even remember our realtor's name when we wanted to contact her yesterday. Which might be understandable except that her name? It's my middle name (the one I had 'til I got married, anyway)... and I still had to look it up to remember. (It should be said that this memory black-out had nothing to do with her as a person because she's sweet as can be.)

So all this to say, we're going to start looking again. So... wish us luck? I guess? We'll see how long this lasts. Because honestly? I can see myself walking into one house and then being done again.

P.S. I'm still catching up on posting. I posted two entries (concerts, Baltimore) this weekend to start my catch-up process and plan to do more in the next week or so. And yes, I skipped over the last half of our West Coast vacation. Someday I'll get back to it. Maybe in the dead of winter to remind me of summer again.

16 October 2011


We have taken to visiting Baltimore recently after realizing that it's the halfway point between us and some good friends, Christine and Kyle, who live in Delaware. The first time we went we met Christine and we walked around the harbor for the afternoon. I actually really enjoy walking around the harbor. It's quite lovely. The top corner pic is Christine and Jason on a cool lighthouse along the harbor.

The second time? Well, I'll let Christine explain that one because she took the better pictures.
But I'll give you a hint: mmmeat.

15 October 2011

Concerts. Twice is Nice!

Remember a little note I wrote back in July at the bottom of a post? It went like this: "I swear I haven't been listening to [Katy Perry's] music non-stop since then or trying to convince Jason to get pit tickets to see her live again while we're on vacation so we can be THIS CLOSE to her..."

Well, I'll admit that I've listened to nothing other than Katy Perry in the car since the show in June. And that includes the entire drive from Seattle to Los Angeles. And no, Jason's not sick of her yet either.

 I have to fess up to something else as well:

I convinced him. 
It wasn't hard to do. 
Clearly he likes her music if he's not sick of it yet.
Not to mention he thinks she's a knockout.
(Who doesn't?)

We got tickets to see her while we were in Seattle. We were in the pit, right in front, and it was totally worth it. It was so much fun being right there up in the action rather than watching her when she's as big as an ant like last time. She's my first true pop love and I'm having fun with it. It kind of makes me feel like I'm in middle school again.

We saw Guster live again too when we got back home. We saw them with Jack's Mannequin who were okay (once upon a time we liked Something Corporate and it's the same singer), but we won't see them again because we didn't think they were that great and I wasn't digging the music anymore. I guess I've outgrown it. Guster, on the other hand, is one of those bands that is even better live than they are on albums. In fact, I really only listen to their one live album. I'd love it if they would release another!

And the venue? Wolf Trap. I love seeing shows there because it's so beautiful and it just so happens that the first time I saw Guster in 2004 it was there (along with Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright - now THAT was an incredible show).

13 September 2011

Seattle, Part 3: Maitha and Andreas' Wedding

Maitha and I have been the best of friends since we were 11 years old. We grew up together until we headed off to college in different states and from then on out we've lived far apart (*sniff, sniff*) but have never grown apart. She's one of my oldest friends and one of my very best friends. Neither of us grew up with sisters, so I'd say we're the closest thing either of us has to a sister. We shared and experienced all the fun and silly things you do as girls growing up: clothes, make-up, hair, school, our love of Hanson, our terrible clarinet skills, boys, dances, birthday parties, travels, summer camps, school, learning to drive... the list goes on and on. We had so much fun growing up together. She was also by my side at some of the saddest times in my life like my mom's death but also my happiest times like my little brother's birth and my wedding - all monumental moments - and she was there for all of them.

I had only met Andreas once before their wedding (way back when I was first engaged and flew out to LA), but when I met him I knew there wasn't a better match for Maitha. I was so happy she found a guy that appreciates her for who she is, treats her right, and loves her unconditionally. To top it off, he has an amazing and loving family that she can now call her own, and because I love this girl like a sister, that means the world to me. I've never been so happy to see two people get married. There were some very touching speeches given, one given by Maitha herself, and I know that at times there were no dry eyes around. It was an absolutely beautiful and touching wedding.

I was so happy to get to stand up there by her side. My heart swelled with pride as I watched someone so special to me, so dear to me, get married to the love of her life. To my "sister," my friend for life: I couldn't be more thankful to have you in my life. I love you!

Could it have been any more picture-perfect?

So in love.
P.S. Jason helped build the arbor... and got verrrrry sunburned in the process. What a good man.

The whole wedding!

And I'll leave you with this lovely shot that Jason captured. 
Now that's true love. We love you both and wish you the very best!

All photos but the last one are © Melanie Duerkopp 2011 and posted with permission.

30 August 2011

Seattle, Part 2: Friends and "Fam"

It took me a week and a half (thanks to Mother Nature's one-two punch to the East Coast), but here is part two of our Seattle trip!

We went to Seattle because one of my very best childhood friends, Maitha, got married (more on the beautiful wedding later)! It was so cool to have a group of our middle and high school friends all together again after moving different places (well, okay, I didn't move away... but most of the rest of them have). The wedding was held in the groom's hometown so we got to meet a bunch of Andreas' friends and a lot of his family as well. We spent an entire week in Seattle and when we left we felt like we had a new family and some great new great friends. We all had so much fun together that it was hard to say goodbye!

Part three, the beautiful wedding, is coming!

29 August 2011

Irene, You Crazy.

Hey, Mother Nature. You got some beef with the East Coast?

Well, I kinda love you but you made it hard to do this week.
First an earthquake and then a hurricane?
I shouldn't complain. We didn't get hurt and our families are safe.
And now we have pre-made water bottles thanks to me filling every single one we own. 
And cookies from my mother-in-law.
And chile verde from my pop.

Some were not so lucky though.
My heart goes out to those who Irene hit hard.

Photo of Irene vacating the area and leaving a gorgeous day in her wake on Sunday.

23 August 2011

Earthquake in VA

We're fine, home safe, and only my shampoo and our waffle iron suffered from the quake.

As earthquakes go, this didn't cause major damage. I've seen a lot of humor, joking, and mocking - which I understand and have laughed at - but I've also seen some fear. Some people had flashbacks to 9/11 today. I know it's true in D.C. and I'm sure it's true of NYC as well. Most people around here aren't accustomed to earthquakes but we do know that we're in our nation's capital and it's always a potential target for terrorism. When things shake around here, most people's first reaction isn't "earthquake" but rather "bomb." I think not knowing initially what was shaking the ground made people extra freaked out. At first I was offended by people mocking us East Coasters - between the uncertainty and not being able to get in touch with family for over an hour I felt like I was going a little crazy. In the end, I think the humor helped me get over it. RIP waffle iron.

One scary bit of info about the earthquake still remains though: After the disaster in Japan a few months ago, Jason and I did a little research about Lake Anna's nuclear power plant since we spend a lot of time down there each year. We learned that it's the 7th most at-risk nuclear power plant for earthquake damage in the US (out of 100+ plants) and was only built to withstand a magnitude of 5.9 – 6.1. Today's earthquake was a 5.8 and the epicenter was a mere few miles from the plant. That's a little too close for comfort if you ask me. Maybe we should work on fixing the plants so they're a little more earthquake-ready? Yeah?

    19 August 2011

    Seattle, Part 1: The Touristy Bits

    First thing's first: Seattle was COLD. It was our first time in Seattle and while we expected rain and gray skies we didn't expect it to be so cold in mid-July! Secretly, we loved it (we can't wait for fall/winter). And we can't complain because it was hot as heck in DC while we were gone.

    Our trip started with an overbooked motel nightmare, but luckily it was all uphill from there. The next morning we started fresh (possibly with bags under our eyes) and picked up our swanky Chevy Aveo (we missed our Subaru so. freaking. much. on this trip) before making our way to my dad's suggestion of Top Pot Doughnuts. Since I got my sweet tooth and my belly fat genes from my father, we of course made a stop there and got four doughnuts to share. Let me tell you: four doughnuts at Dunkin' does not equal four doughnuts at Top Pop. We didn't even get close to finishing them, but they were hands down the best doughnuts either of us had ever eaten.

    Then we were off to the ferry to get over to Bainbridge Island to see the bride and groom, Maitha and Andreas! The ferry gave us great views of the Seattle skyline.

    From then on, there was never a dull moment. We were always on the move. On the ferry to Seattle for errands, food, bars, fun. Riding the monorail, seeing the Space Needle, meeting up with old high school friends, hitting the Pike Place Market, walking around the city. And finally, back on Bainbridge for wedding festivities. Here are the semi-touristy stops we made along the way...

    Pretty sunset along the harbor

    Riding the monorail to get to a food festival (that's the bride looking crazy in the back)

    Pike Place Market

    Mr. Needle

    The original Starbucks and a delicious sandwich joint called Salumi

    The locks

    Back to the market to get some crab and goodies for the road on our way out of town

    And that's all she wrote for touristy bits of Seattle we saw.
    Two more posts to come from Seattle:
    hanging out with friends and the lovely wedding.
    ...but of course that's still only the beginning of our trip!