Riding on the Metro...

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Adorable Nephew Toby

Isn't he the most beautiful baby ever?

Monday, August 24, 2009

So Much has Happened!

I haven't posted in a long time and I guess it was because I was so busy. My sister got married in May, I was in her wedding which was beautiful. I went to Turkey, my first Muslim country ever. Then I went to Italy and took Ryan with me for his birthday. Here is what Ryan wrote about the trip:

A Little City Called Rome and Something Shiny
A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend Heather found out she would be headed to Rome, Italy for work. Knowing that my birthday was on the 11th of July, she invited me to come along with her. The plan was that we’d be able to spend time together when she wasn’t working during the day, and also tack on a couple of extra vacation days at the end of her trip.

When I realized the trip was actually going to happen, I knew it was my chance to do something really big. I mean, really BIG!

You see, Rome is Heather’s favorite place in the world. The architecture, the people, the food ... it is all amazing ... While living in Rome as an undergraduate, Heather learned Italian and fell in love with the Eternal City. I figured there would be no better place to surprise her.

Earlier in the week, we had visited Villa Borghese (Rome’s Central Park). We happened upon the most romantic restaurant I have ever encountered. Nestled away in the park, overlooking Rome and the Vatican City from it’s terrace, the Casina Valadier provides the most breathtaking view from your table (and amazing food!) “This will be perfect.” I thought to myself.

Since we were absolutely exhausted from spending the 11th at a Mediterranean beach (I know, tough life, right?), we decided to switch our reservations for the evening of the 12th for the celebratory dinner.

I must have checked my suit jacket one hundred times on the way over to the restaurant that evening, making sure my "gift" was secure.

We arrived at the restaurant just as the sun was setting behind the Roman skyline. Beautiful.

I made extra effort to make Heather think that my reason for ordering champagne once we were seated was to celebrate my birthday. Shortly after toasting my 32nd birthday, I took Heather’s hand into mine. I looked into her beautiful, blue eyes, and began telling her how much she meant to me …

Shortly thereafter, I was on bended knee, ring extended; my heart open.


We’re engaged!

We spent the rest of the dinner taking in the view and talking about the rest of our lives together.

After dinner, we walked over to the Spanish Steps. There in the Piazza di Spagna, a horse and carriage awaited us for a tour of Rome under the moonlight.

We tossed coins into the Trevi fountain, vowing to return to our favorite place in the world, which now has a deeper, stronger meaning to both of us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A New Year... and no Posts Yet.

I just realized that it has been forever since I wrote anything new. Since October, I haven't really moved too much closer to buying a place of my own, but I have been saving money. Which, for me, is a huge step. The holidays were good, lots of family time. And I'm still very happily dating my boyfriend. So life is pretty sweet. Here are a few things I've been up to in the last two months.

We went down to the Mall with about a million other people to see Barack Obama sworn in on Inaurguration Day. It was an amazing experience. Somehow in Washington, DC (often called the Crime Capital) more than a million people from all over the world were able to gather together and enjoy a united feeling of hope and joy.... And no one was arrested or hurt or anything. Pretty cool.

My boyfriend and I also went on our first vacation together. We found a great deal on flights and hotel in Las Vegas, so we snatched it up. We stayed at the Planet Hollywood Hotel, it was very nice, very chic, very fabulous. Maybe not Bellagio fabulous, but still very good.

We went to some shows, ate a lot of food, played a little blackjack, experienced the weird hooker card street vendors and just enjoyed the cheesiness in general. We also took a day trip up to the Valley of Fire, which had crazy rock formations and beautiful colors.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Growing Up?

So, I think I have decided on whether I want to rent or buy. I looked over my finances and thought about my pro and con list, and I think buying a place would be a good choice. I won't be able to act on that decision for a bit, since I will need to save up a bit of money for a down payment. But I feel like I have a direction and now I get to work toward my goal.

It feels a little weird though to think of myself as old enough and established enough to even be considering this step in my life. I probably should get over that though, since I am in my thirties now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who wants to be a Millionaire?

Yesterday, I went into the city and watched the ING Direct Cycling Criterium. I didn't know what that was either. Apparently, a criterium, or crit, is a type of bike race held on a short course (usually less than 5 km), often run on closed-off city centre streets. My BF is into cycling, he wanted to go, and it ended up being a really fun day. The weather was awesome, the race was fun to watch and we ended up getting free cute, little orange cow bells. Very cool. I took a quick video of the final two laps, the annoying high picked noise is everyone ringing their cow bells like a bunch of maniacs. Can anyone say, "More cow bell?"

On our way back to Virginia we ended up going past a condo building my BF had been telling me about, The Odyssey in Arlington. He can see it from his office and really thought it looked cool. So we drove around it and then found out they were having an open house. So we thought, why not pretend like we were able to afford the place and go inside. It was crazy! The one unit we went to was 1.2 million dollars.... Yeah, Million! For a two bedroom condo. It was insane. The whole one side of the unit was windows and it overlooked DC. It was so pretty. But my favorite part was the kitchen. The appliances were amazing and the whole layout was so open. If anything the whole experience just made me sad that I'm "poor" and can only afford a condo one sixteenth that price.

We did go to a more affordable unit. It was an efficiency, but the layout was again, really open. It didn't feel like a studio at all. Only problem was it was going for $349k, which I felt was a bit much for a condo. Ok and also out of my price range. But it was really cool! Oh well, I guess I will have to eventually come back to earth and maybe look at things within my budget.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Decisions Decisions

Going through my finances and looking at apartments, has made me also think about possibly buying a condo. I found out I could afford it, but only after I save for a few months. Now I have to decide, do I want to move right away into an apartment and continually pay rent until maybe years from now when I might have saved enough money to buy a place? OR do I want to stay in my current windowless apartment which is not as close to the city as I would like, but save up a good amount of money so that possibly if the market stays good for buyers I could buy a condo?

Here is my Pros and Cons list:

Get to move now
Won't have to fix things myself
Could have cool amenities
Could change places after a year

Have to pack now
Rent could raise
Could have insects
Could have weird neighbors
Landlord might stink, not actually smell just be horrible

Can paint it
Can hang things on the wall
Could redecorate
Could upgrade appliances
Hopefully Dishwasher
Hopefully Washer/Dryer
Would get a tax break
Feel grown up (not sure if this is pro or con)
Could make some money when I sell it
Good investment?

Have to Paint it
Might have to do some work
Could lose money when sold
Condo association
Condo fees
Have to fix things when they break

My lists aren't done, so far I'm no closer to a decision. If anyone has any advice, I would greatly appreciate the help. Thanks!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Home is where the heart is.

Recently I started researching and scrutinizing apartments to find a new home. I'm not moving far, I haven't changed jobs, nothing like that. I just feel like after living in the same apartment building since my last year in college maybe a change would be nice. So I have begun scouring the Internet and itemizing my budget to figure out what I want and what I can afford. Why is that so difficult?

I have some musts... Such as must have windows. Not something that many people think of as an amenity when searching apartments, but after living in a windowless apartment for four years, I need windows! Second and a bit more luxurious, a dishwasher. Ahh, to have a machine to wash my dishes for me. That would be the life. In that line of luxurious amenities, I would also like a washer/dryer in my own apartment... yes, my own clothes washing machine. Something that needs no coins and my neighbor, the roofer, won't put his tar filled clothes into. I don't think that is asking too much.

My search has only started, I haven't seen many places yet. But last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to look at three in the Alexandria area. We started off with what we felt at the end of the weekend, was the best. Which was unfortunate for the later two, it had a lot to live up to. The first place, Riverside, had awesome amenities (not just windows, it also had a fitness center with aerobics room and classes!) and it was super pretty! Which you know is very important when finding an apartment. The only problem with the Riverside was that I haven't decided if I want to pay that much for rent yet. I guess I'll have to figure that out after I see more places.

The second place was cute and the amenities were cool, everything just seemed a little less polished as the Riverside. Plus with the extra fees it felt a bit like I would be nickel and dimed to death. The last place was the worst. The apartments themselves weren't horrible, they were actually cute and very affordable. It was the halls and the outside of the building that gave me a very distinct feeling that I might be bludgeoned to death near my car or raped in the hallway. Also every single hallway had its own distinct mixture of the aromas of old buttered popcorn, curry and gym socks and a few other things that could not be distinguished.

At the end of the weekend, the first of many apartment hunting weekends I'm sure, I feel slightly more unsure of where I might be able to find an affordable, yet non stinky safe apartment with the three things I need.