Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

6 Budget Friendly Things To Do In DC During the Government Shutdown

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

It’s day two of the shutdown and there is no end in sight. Suj and I have gotten a little stir crazy out of the office (probably a sign that we work too much). I know we are very, very lucky to have steady jobs that we both love, especially in this economy, but with talk of the shutdown potentially lasting weeks, I am conscious of the pressure that puts on our budget. In light of all this, we find ourselves with the opportunity to create a list of fun, affordable ways to take advantage of our (hopefully mini) staycation.

Picnic: Grab some cheese, crackers, and fruit and head over to Meridian Hill or Rock Creek Park for a relaxing afternoon on the grass. The shutdown might be a sorry state of affairs, but at least the weather in DC couldn’t be better.

Workout: It’s about time I use that fancy gym membership that I pay for every month! Exercise is not only a great low-cost activity but it is also a way to relieve some of the stress of the unknown. I hit a yoga class at Vida today and was shocked by how empty the gym was. I thought it would be packed in light of the shutdown, but it turned out to be a great time to enjoy my workout. If you don’t belong to a gym, you can always enjoy the quiet streets and run one of these popular city routes.

Sightsee: Just because the federal government is shutdown, doesn’t mean there is nothing to do or see in the DC area. Privately owned sights like the National Cathedral (donation suggested) and Mount Vernon ($17 for adults) remain open to visitors. There are also many private museums open to the public, including the National Building Museum ($8 for adults), National Geographic Museum ($11 for adults), Newseum ($22 for adults), The Spy Museum ($21 for adults), Crime and Punishment Museum ($18 for adults-online discount price), and The Phillips Collection ($12 for adults). These prices, however, are MUCH steeper than the free admission offered at the Smithsonian museums. That is, when the government isn’t on hiatus.


Read: I am finally going to crack open a couple of the books on my ever-growing reading list, starting with Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I am resisting the urge to make a new kindle purchase and, instead, opting for a free book from one of our shelves. If you aren’t book hoarders like us, a great resource is the DC Public Library. I frequent the Shaw location since it is close to my home, and the staff is so helpful and friendly.

Hang out with friends: The Sixth & I Historic Synagogue is hosting Shutdown Central where they offer daily activities, such as yoga classes, as well as a space to hang out and play board games, and best of all, free coffee, food, and Wifi.


Take Advantage of the Swag! Local businesses have been amazing–throwing their support behind furloughed government employees by offering all kinds of freebies and deals just for flashing your government ID. The Washington Post has a great list of special food deals offered during the shutdown, including free sandwiches from three Jose Andres restaurants (we cashed in on that yesterday!) and drink specials all over town.


I am really hoping that the shutdown will end soon, but in the meantime, I’m going to make the most of a bit of free time in a city I love.

Jury Duty and the National Air and Space Museum

Monday, September 30th, 2013


On the eve of a possible government shutdown, I am spending my time holed up in the jury waiting room at the DC district court. It seems like the only upside to a possible furlough is that I would have a day or two off to spend with my mom, who is in town. But no such luck. Instead I am catching up on my emails and watching soap operas in the waiting room.

The highlight of my service, so far, was the two hour lunch break, during which time I crossed the street and explored the National Air and Space Museam. I’d always heard this museum is better for kids, but I must be a kid at heart because I thought it was so cool! The building is spacious, with high ceilings and all kinds of aircrafts suspended from above.

Suj’s office is about a 10 minute walk from the courthouse, so I also got to spend a few minutes eating lunch with my sweetheart outside on a beautiful DC afternoon.  All in all, I guess jury duty hasn’t been too bad.




The National Arboretum: best undiscovered date spot ever

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013


A few weeks ago I started making a list of all the places to go and things to see in DC that I haven’t gotten around to doing or seeing. One of the suggestions that came up over and over (thanks internet) was the National Arboretum. Now that we have been, I can say that this place is a must-see! According to Wikipedia, the arboretum functions as a major center of botanical research and conducts wide-ranging basic and developmental research on trees, shrubs, turf, and floral plants.

All great, but the best part, by far, is the bonsai tree exhibit. The trees are completely adorable, and the exhibit is in such a cool, peaceful space. The Arboretum is pretty difficult to visit if you don’t have a vehicle, but that fact seems to contribute to the quiet, peaceful atmosphere (i.e., very few visitors).

At least it was peaceful before we got there…



This place is an awesome date spot. Suj and I picked up some sandwiches before we got there, checked out the exhibits for a while, then had a nice little picnic lunch. We are planning to go back again, probably for a bike ride through the trails (this place is big). In the meantime, I am spreading the word to all my single friends about the bonsai exhibit.

Many of the bonsai trees were gifts to the US from China and Japan.


National Arboretum Bonsai Exhibit. Some of these trees have been “in training” for hundreds of years!


South Haven, MI

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

A few weeks ago the D.C. gang took a trip to South Haven, Michigan to visit Erin’s family and enjoy the lake Michigan beach.  The weekend was full of amazing food, kitsch shopping, and awesome family time.  South Haven is an adorable, sleepy beach town, and Erin’s parents live right next to the water.  The night life was a hilarious change of pace from D.C.!  Alex came close to a career change after being inspired by the drummer in a live cover band, and I could not get over how cheap our bar tab was.  After a lot of dancing and a lot of eating and a lot of snuggling in a king-sized bed with Erin, I was ready to stay forever.  But I guess I am going to have to settle for another visit in the future.  Going home is the best, even if it is not always your own home.

{popcorn is 50 cents here!}

{the old fishin’ boat}

{hunting for ingredient}

{a walk after the farmer’s market}

{so old school}

{wine tasting}

{wet dog}



White House Garden Tour

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

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Suj and I had the opportunity to attend the fall White House garden tour on a beautiful October afternoon.  The White House property is much larger than I realized.  I felt lucky to enjoy such a bright day surrounded by so much history.  The tour included glimpses of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, and South Lawn, and the White House Kitchen Garden. The grounds are lovely and, though many people were touring the area, it felt peaceful and sort of reverent.  Here are a few of my favorite spots:

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{littleleaf linden planted by George W.H. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II in 1991}

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{twisty tree}

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{bright flowers in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden}

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{magnolia trees}

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{Truman Balcony}

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{view of the mall from the White House}

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{quiet seating near the Rose Garden}

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{a touch of Autumn in the trees}

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{outside the Rose Garden}

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{putting green}

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{Sasha and Malia’s playground}

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{White House Kitchen Garden}

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Apartment hunting, football, and the past few weeks

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Whew, it has been busy around here. Just a little recap: Suj and I spent the past few weeks looking for a permanent apartment for him in DC, and after hours on craigslist and attending numerous open houses, I am happy to report that we found an incredible place. He moves in around the first of November, which will be awesome because (1) he is anxious to stop living out of a suitcase, and (2) he will be just a few blocks away from me! The move also means there will be lots of projects and organizing and moving furniture about (so hard to explain why I love moving furniture around) and housewarmings. In the meantime, I am reading up on design and décor so I can be totally ready to offer my unsolicited advice.

Other than apartment hunting, my free time has been filled with a lot of football and mandatory continuing legal education courses. I can’t really say which I enjoy more. Erin has been trying to convert me into a football fanatic, but as of now, I am only ever excited about the football food. (I’m trying. Promise.) As for the CLEs, well … I’m finally done. My work doesn’t pay for the classes like some employers do, so I shopped around for some online bargain courses this year. Unfortunately the inexpensive courses generally don’t feature the most exciting topics (ahem, pre-immigration income tax planning). Oh well, broadening my horizons, I suppose.

On a brighter note, here are some photos of the past few weeks of traveling, exploring, and celebrating nuptials:

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{beautiful view at the Philip Carter Winery}

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{mason jar accents}

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{looking glam–thanks Cindy!}

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{huge hot sauce selection at the Apple House}

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{soju bloody mary at Mandu, in Dupont}

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{my ongoing obsession with old globes}

Happy labor day

Monday, September 3rd, 2012


Greetings from New Buffalo, Michigan! Wrapping up a weekend at the beach with a breakfast of champions.

My favorite DC spots with my girls

Friday, July 27th, 2012


I hit up some of my favorite DC spots this week, playing tourist with visiting besties, Heather and Michelle. The girls visited the Smithsonian American History Museum and the Arlington Cemetery while I was at work in the mornings, then I met up with them in the afternoon to check out the White House, the Supreme Court building, the Archives, the Library of Congress, and several happy hours. One of the highlights for me was our night tour of the monuments. The Lincoln memorial at night is truly breathtaking (Heather remarked that our tour looked like a movie). The low was trying to show off a little mid-week nightlife. We discovered there is literally nothing happening on a Wednesday night in this town! But we managed to have a good time anyway (via our pop-punk kitchen dance party). I was so glad to have a few days with my girls and I can’t wait to visit them in Vegas soon. Love you girls!!

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{my favorite pose}

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{Healy Hall at Georgetown}

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{cold treat for a hot day}

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{cool display at Anthropoligie}

{spiral staircase in the Supreme Court building}

{fountain at the Library of Congress}



Home with the Fam!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

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I spent the last week with my fam in Utah. My baby brother, Jaxon, is departing for an LDS mission to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine so we celebrated with a little send-off party. I had the best time with the Cooper-troop. My family is so boisterous and goofy; there is never a dull moment. I am going to miss Jaxon so much over the next two years, but I am so proud of him for beginning this huge journey. When Sinjin got back from Russia last year, he had grown into such a strong, mature man and I look forward to watching Jaxon progress over his mission. Good luck, baby bro! I love you.

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{Jaxon, all suited up}
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{debut of Mitch’s new mane}

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{mom and the boys}

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{farewell hug}
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{missionary cake from cousin Marlee}

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{I’m gonna miss Jaxon’s fresh style}

Lazy summer weekends

Monday, June 18th, 2012
MG 0011{Dupont Famers’ Market}

This felt like the first long weekend I’ve had in a while. It was really nice to relax with friends and enjoy the city a little. On Saturday, I soaked in some sun on my friend, Kerry’s rooftop pool. We ate crabs and talked about recent trips and generally just had a nice afternoon. After the pool, Ashley and I caught the Ramona Falls concert on H Street, which was eventful, but the best part of the night was getting on a bus in a random part of town at 12:30 am and coincidentally sitting right next to Erin (who was coming home from a BBQ)! DC really is a small world.

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On Sunday, Ashley and I picked up produce, bread, and (of course) empanadas at the Dupont farmers’ market. That afternoon I listened to an episode of This American Life while pickling cucumbers and making fresh bruschetta (it doesn’t get more “DC” than that). The roomies rounded off the weekend by grilling on the patio Sunday night. I love these lazy summer weekends.

MG 0008{fresh green beans}

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{charming rowhouse details}

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{pickling cucumbers}

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{view from Ashley’s door}