Monday, April 15, 2013

DC Cherry Blossoms 2013

One thing I have been wanting to do since last fall is to see DC with all of the cherry blossoms. Lucky me, the peak week just happened to fall on my birthday week! So my mom and I jumped in the car and drove the 7 hours up to DC. 

At first we had a hard time finding a hotel that still had open rooms. All of the hotels in the city were booked except for the $400+/night rooms which was a little out of our price range. We checked hotels in Arlington and Alexandria but could not find rooms there either. Eventually my mom found a room at the Hampton Inn at Fort Belvoir/Mount Vernon at a reasonable price. It was just a few miles from Mount Vernon and about a 30 minute drive to the city. When we first got to Fort Belvoir we were a little nervous. It does not look like the safest place for two women to stay alone. However when we got to our hotel we found that it was fairly new and very nice. 

After a good night's sleep at our nice hotel we went into the city. Because we knew we wanted to rent bikes for the day and that Bike and Roll has a location at Union Station we decided that it would be easiest to park our car in the garage at Union Station so that we would not have to worry about parking meters or anything. The one thing we did not like about this is that after 5 hours at the garage it charges you for a full day. 5-24 hours is $22. I think they could make a few more increments in that 19 hour range but maybe that is just me. We did decide though that it was still easier and worth the cost and for 6 hours we probably would have paid almost as much any way. 

After getting to Union Station we decided not to rent our bikes immediately because I wanted to go to the Capitol to see the new Rosa Parks statue in the State Statuary collection.  My friend Courtney who is interning for a congressman met us and took us to the statue. It was awesome! Thanks Courtney for the VIP treatment. 

Rosa Parks Statue
Rosa Parks Statue
After a quick stop by my old office we were headed back to Union Station to get our bikes. Oh but first we had a quick pit stop at the Ben and Jerry's tent outside of the station for some FREE ice cream!! Awesome little treat. 
US Capitol Cherry Blossoms
The US Capitol with Cherry Blossoms in front!
We got our bikes from Bike and Roll at Union Station. I have written about them before here, super nice people! We also found a coupon for 50% off a second bike rental just by googling "Bike and Roll DC Coupon." We biked down around the Capitol, to the National Mall, the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, over to the Lincoln Memorial, and then back to Union Station. Quite a ride!

US Capitol
View of the Capitol through the trees from the Tidal Basin

DC Cherry Blossoms
Thomas Jefferson Memorial

It really was not that crowded until we got to the Tidal Basin where we had to get off our bikes a couple of times because of all of the people. The bikes were definitely worth it though! 

DC Cherry Blossoms
Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin
Side story: when we first got to the National Mall we saw two women (one probably in her 50's and the other in her 60's) sitting on one of the benches and the older lady looked like she had passed out on the younger lady. At first we thought someone was helping them but then the older lady started throwing up and the "helpers" walked away. We pulled over to help and there was another older couple who was calling 911. If you do not know, one of the main symptoms of someone, especially a female, having a heart attack is vomiting. I immediately checked to see if the lady was conscious and breathing, which she was, while my mom went to check the names of the streets at the closest intersection to make sure the ambulance had the right names and to wave them down if she saw it. She was able to wave down and SUV of Capitol Police and they were able to radio in the exact location. Because the police were there and we heard the ambulance the other couple there told us to go ahead and enjoy our day that they would make sure everything was ok. We hope everything turned out ok. Afterwards, when we were talking about it we were shocked that the first "helpers" there walked away because the lady was throwing up. The least you can do is call 911, offer to buy a bottle of water, or go find someone who can help. 

After that excitement, we were able to enjoy our beautiful day in DC. And it was a beautiful day. Warm, sunny, and a slight breeze. Perfect cherry blossom viewing weather. 

DC Cherry Blossoms
Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin
Because Bike and Roll closes at 6 (that is my only complaint about them, they should at least wait until about sunset or a little after) we decided to see what other entertainment we could find. As a baseball fan I was very excited to see the Nationals were in town. I am a Red Sox fan so during the regular season I don't think there is a real conflict of interest pulling for a National League team, at least occasionally. 

Nationals Park
My friend Samantha and I at the game
The Nationals were playing the White Sox in DC so we headed over to the stadium and met my friend Samantha there. We found parking about 3 blocks from the stadium for $20. Although someone told us you can find it cheaper, we opted for the safe looking, populated area for a little more money. 

Although I have only been to a few different ball parks, I really liked this one. It made me think of an updated version of the Braves Turner Field. It is also one of the easiest parks to walk up and get tickets. Unlike many other ball parks we have been to, you simply walk up to one of the ticket machines outside of the park, choose the game, ticket price range, how many tickets, swipe your credit card and you are on your way. 

The tickets were also very reasonably priced. The cheapest tickets were $13 but of course those are in the nose bleeds. After looking at the different options available we found some great seats for $22 that were in the second deck above the right field wall. One of the last Braves game we went to we paid a lot more than that for much much worse seats. These were great though-- a good view of the field and in a home run section, although none were hit to us that night. And the weather made it an absolutely perfect night for baseball! 
Nationals Park
View from out seats. Not bad for $22!!

The stadium had great food too and not terribly expensive. They have everything from local places like Ben's Chili Bowl and the  Shake Shack to burgers, hot dogs and chicken cooked over the out door grill. 

Oh and the Nats won! All in all, a great ending to a great day! Check back later for my next post about day 2 at Mount Vernon!

I'll be linking this post to Between Naps on the Porch! Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Painted Toms

This past weekend we had a bridal shower at our house for my cousin Danielle who is getting married in May! We were so excited to be able to love and support her and walk with her on this new and exciting journey. 

I am a gift giver. I love to give thoughtful gifts that I know the person will love and appreciate. I am also a lover of Toms, especially painted Toms. Recently at the Justice Conference, Toms had a booth where they were not only selling Toms, but had professional Toms artists there to paint whatever you wanted to on them. Of course I could not resist and had this pair painted. 

hand painted Toms
A Toms artist finishing up my Toms

Custom Toms
My Toms
Customized Toms
Side view of my Toms
A little birdie told me that my cousin Danielle needed a new pair of Toms and, being the artist in the family, I knew she would love some of the designs I had seen on Pinterest and Etsy so I decided to try to find the artist in me.  

Her Toms are done in her wedding colors, grey and yellow, have her new monogram on the sides, and her wedding date on the back. 

Custom Toms
Date on the back
It was a lot of work and I am not nearly as fast as the professionals at Toms but I think they turned out great and everyone loved them, especially Danielle. 


I have had some people ask me about them so if you are interested in a pair of your own or for the bride in your family check out my Etsy shop