Monday, December 21


That was an empty trash can.  It is now full of snow.

We had a bit of  Blizzard here in baltimore, trapping most city dwellers in their houses and off the streets.  My car (which I forgot to take a picture of) was completely covered and blocked in.  Luckily I have lovely neighbors with shovels who dug me out. 

But I did not risk the weather on Saturday, instead trekking it over to Patterson Park to sled down a big hill by the Pagoda.  There were close to 50 people there, with all levels of sledding equipment from boogey boards (not so successful), to tubes, to trays and cookie sheets from the kitchen (what we had!).  As I always forget to turn the camera back on myself, I'm awaiting an upload from a friend for a pic with my face, but here are a couple nice shots:

More pics to come, and new projects too!

Friday, December 4

Momument Lighting

You may or may not know that Baltimore has the ORIGINAL Washington Monument.  While DC's may be taller and more impressive, can you climb up it (no lines to visit) for a $1 donation?  Great views of the city from the top, but it's a one time occasion for me, as those 200+ stairs nearly killed my lazy ass.

Here's a gorgeous pic from Wikipedia:

Last night I wrapped up the drama of getting old housemate's stuff out and getting the bedroom spackled and vacuumed in time to make it out to a Baltimore event: the Lighting of the Monument.  I'm not one for standing around in the cold for parades and firework shows, but this was pretty awesome.  I grabbed a few friends and hit up a great pre-party at Live Baltimore's downtown office for free snacks and hot chocolate (and $1 for Flying Dog beers or to spike your hot cocoa), walked 3 blocks up to the Monument (collecting a free 7-11 reusable shopping bag along the way.  Who knew "the sev" was so community minded and green?), and got a great spot near the show.  Despite sound issues that left most of the crowd questioning "What are they saying?", and a stage not set high enough for mortals to see the dancing Santas and whatever else was up there (but the babies hoisted on shoulders looked like they would have a great view), it was an awesome show.  A bit TOO awesome, if you ask me.  Multiple color lasers? Check.  Extended firework show? Check. Creepy intense rock versions of Christmas songs?  Super weird.  Maybe it was our angle, but the music and the explosions felt more like the apocalypse than Christmas.  

Here are some choice "OMG they're blowing up the Monument!" pics, which are sadly from my iPhone, as I suck at toting my actual camera around:

The bluish strings of lights are the Holiday lights that warranted the ocassion.  Not too impressive, but the fact that they are LEDs are!

So much smoke!


Hiked back towards downtown after the show for a Downtown Partnership after-party with wonderfully free wine and food.  The food buffet from Lebanese Taverna reminded me that I should eat there for dinner. (Hey, if these organizations/restaurants fed and boozed me for free, they totally get a shout-out on the blog.  Keep that in mind, businesses!)  Great night with new and old friends!

Busy weekend approaches.  Interviews for new housemates, holiday parties, and other fun stuff.

Tuesday, December 1

Time for Change

I totally meant to do a whole "THANKSGIVING!!" post, as I hosted my first big family function at my house, and it's one of my favorite time of the year (FOOD!).  But because of the news below, I will keep it short.  Family came from Florida.  It was wonderful to see them and show off the house! We ate lots! We slept in-between. (I didn't even take pictures of the food, as my dad was in charge of it, but my Turkey was gorgeous, with herb butter packed under her skin for a nice golden brown crust!) Successful long weekend and I can't wait for Christmas!


Now the change.

I am now in need of a new housemate.  It's the first of the month (when rent is typically due).  Instead I got a call one of my renters is moving out TODAY.  Nice notice there.  Kinda stressed about it, as I obviously want to keep on track financially and not have to pay 2/3 of the bills and such.


Want to be my new housemate?

Craigslist: Share spacious Patterson Park rowhouse

And I don't think I've shared these pics yet, so here are some of the main floor:

Island in kitchen and my red motif

Looking into half bath and kitchen 

Kitchen to dining area and the stairs.  You may remember the Pagoda print on the left from here

Living room from stairs

My wall of mirrors, key hook (branches from Urban Outfitters, so cute!), mail slots, and a Bodine print of Baltimore

I love the brick reflection on the mirrors.

Okay, must clean house for tours/interviews of potential housemates (I already have like 6 decent replies, so I'm not too worried) this weekend before going to Ohio for work next week!  Ack! 

Thursday, November 19

America's Best City Parks



America's Best City Parks

"Patterson Park in Baltimore, for example, is steeped in history; it was the site of Union encampments during the Civil War, and houses several unique, historic buildings. It's also full of present-day pleasures--skating rinks, pavilions and playgrounds--that connect the surrounding neighbors to the space."

Monday, November 16

Basement projects

I guess I've been too busy to blog.  I had my first successful work trip: a few days spent in the hospital (an ICU, no less) and I didn't come back sick!  (Adding to my figures of healthy days spent in hospital: 700 or so?; sick/broken days spent in hospital: 0  Good karma?)  I've also been working on wrapping up the year in terms of doctor/dentist/eye check-ups and planning for next year (LASIK!).  Also, due to the impending Ashley-hosts-first-Thanksgiving, I'm really pushing myself on getting the house where I want it decoration-wise.  Yesterday's beautiful 72 degree Sunday was spent at IKEA and Walmart buying (among other crap) winter-y scented candles and pictures and frames to fill out the last blank spaces on the first floor.  (I finally have a plan for a handsome Owl trivet I picked up from Goodwill and painted blue!)

Since I lost energy last night to actually hang things, the pics of the main floor will have to wait.  First up, the basement:

Project: Free coffee table I grabbed while buying a futon 2 doors down.

I saw potential.

After pics and the rest of my basement after the jump!

Wednesday, November 4

One of my favorite holidays

I'm going back and forth about which I would consider my favorite holiday.  Halloween has dress-up and candy (and aren't we all little kids at heart?), Thanksgiving is all about eating awesome food and lounging around, and Christmas has the best music and decorations (and also good food).  So I can't decide right now.  We'll call it a tie for now, but I had a pretty kick-ass Halloween, so these others better follow suit.

Pre-Halloween festivities were lively this year, with a charity masquerade party the week before and a JHMI costume party on Friday, it was all about Saturday.  I planned a party, where I always stress out a bit more than normal and have to clean and decorate.

I handed out candy for the first time as the head-of-household and while i had been warned of the roughness of our neighborhood kids, I was pleasantly surprised!  I had an awesome bowl that has a motion-sensor triggered hand coming out of the center to "grab" anyone that dares to take candy from it while cackling "Happy Halloween!!"  I let the kids reach in a take a piece--"only one! save some for the other kids!"--and loved that they were scared, then amused by the hand-grabbing action.  Many wanted to stick their hands in again to give it a "high five."  Most of the kids that came to my house were grateful and polite, especially after I warned "This is the hand of a child who didn't say Thank You!!!" Heh heh heh.

The party was a complete success with lots of lovely people in great costumes.  With extra help with cooking and decorations (housemate's friend from the UK visiting) my task list went super fast and I was still able to throw together a costume outside the typical "Slutoween" getups that are mass-produced for women.  Here's my take on "Zombie Barbie," with an itchy blonde wig, a way-too-pink dress from GoodWill (which I ripped up for effect) and my darker eyeshadows.

Quite scary, no?  When the booze ran out we hiked to Fells Point to see the mess of hundreds of drunk people in costume.  Halloween is apparently the holiday reserved for acting like an ass.  But I guess that's St. Patrick's Day too?

Here's some more pictures of the house, as its kinda the name of the blog.

Coming soon, pics of my second coffee table, and maybe some non-Halloweened pics of the house.  If I can manage to take pics, I can blog during my work trip to Jackson, MS, where I better get some Sweet Tea and Country-fried something.Woo for first work travel, but sad to miss my Baltimore life and my kitty for a week.

Friday, October 23

Better After!

So honored to be featured on one of the DIY sites that has become one that I check daily for new ideas. 

My clock and chair on Better After

If you found me from there, stay tuned!  Projects and decorating are wrapping up and I hope to blitz a lot of pictures soon.  (My camera is vacationing in Boston with my housemate and iPhonecamera isn't that impressive.)

Here's a before of a coffee table I found outside for FREE in Fells Point (a historic area of Baltimore) while buying a futon off craigslist a couple doors down.  Score!   

Stayed tuned!

Now off to have a productive "incidental" day off of work.  Doctor, check.  Talk to contractors working on house next door about future too-big-to-do-myself projects, check.  Call police/ambulance for intoxicated vagrants leaning on my house (not on today's schedule), check.  Clean bedroom, check.  To Do: HomeDepot for a new mailbox, Dentist, MVA for an MD license (I have only been living here for about 6.5 years.  I think it's time to become a real MD resident.), and hopefully time to bake something tasty before the Masquerade party/benefit in my 'hood before getting cute and heading over.  Whew!  Better get busy!

Saturday, October 3

DIY first aid

I suck at life sometimes.  During an after-work happy hour, I managed to dislodge and swallow my temporary dental work...which was on my front tooth.  Now my chipped-since-I-was-12 filed-down (my custom veneer is being made and coming in 2 weeks) is exposed, and sensitive to cold (and feels weird on my tongue). On top of that, while I was cahtting on the phone about going out, and reaching for a cupcake under my fancy cake plate, I dropped the heavy glass cake plate lid, taking most of the cupcakes with it, shattering it on the floor, and appartently gashing my leg in the process.  (like my dad, someone has to call out that I'm bleeding before I realize I'm hurt).  Friday night: glass, blood and cupcakes on the floor!  Yes!

Needless to say I stayed in last night and made a morning trip to Rite Aid to get Butterfly Closures and Waterproof bandages to fix up my leg (per the recommendation of a doctor/Public Health student who happened to stop in for breakfast).  Most awkward part?  The gash is behind my knee, so I had to do some yoga moves to get the band-aids on.  Seems to be a sucess so far. (Will it hold up through dancing in Fells?  Or should I sit today out?)

Not a success?  Trying to temporarily repair my tooth with some DIY filling paste.  I got it on and made it look halfway decent, only for it to fall off 30 minutes later, even before I tried to eat or do anything strenuous.  Oh well.

Friday, October 2

Post-vacation musing

Though I spent most of my waking life in South Florida, this little vacation solidified my decision to put down roots in Baltimore, in a city setting.

Sure, my parents house (which they've owned since I was 2) is a good medium between urban living, and way-out in-the-'burbs, and is accesible to the highways and big cities (Miami and Ft. Lauderdale).  It has a nice yard, and a place to put your car (my poor Prius is sometimes blocks away from home!), but you still have to get in that car to actually do anything.  Until a recent batch of break-ins in the neighborhood, it also didn't seem like the adults interact too much (since the days of the kids playing together is long over). 

In contrast, the friends I stayed with in South Beach had a lovely condo that was stumbling distance from the beach and a mall of shops, bars and restaurants.  I love this idea, but I still have to put SoBe (yes, I said it) in a nice-to-visit-but-wouldn't-live-there category.  I guess it's partially that I hate apartments/condos, with having to pay building fees, and hoping the company that manages the building keeps everything up as they are supposed to.  (Bad experiences with apartments in Baltimore) Maybe I feel that people have less of a community feel in buildings?  I guess I also got a bad vibe from the people of SoBe, an appearances and designers and money are super important vibe, that's not really me.  But hey, bikini season year-round!

One thing that really made me buy in this neighborhood after renting a room 5 blocks away was the sense of community.  Sure, its not the safest place in the world (some kind of drug dealing post outside the old house and 2 break-ins as soon as I moved in), but the really special thing was how everyone really came to my side when the shit went down.  Lots of kind notes of support from the neighborhood mailing list (neighbors near and farther away), and direct neighbors who swapped cell numbers with me to be able t warn me if they saw anything else suspicious.  (Along with "You need to get a gun!  And a pit-bull!", advice I took with a smile and a mental "HELL NO")  I like that I'm a short walk to a couple great neighborhood bar/restaurants, and a short drive to work and everything else in the city. 

Baltimore, specifically Patterson Park, has charmed me, and I'm here for now, even if I will soon have to start wearing a coat.

Wednesday, September 30

Busy Gal

For my first weekend away from the new house, I visited family and friends in South Florida. 4 days and I managed to avoid direct sunlight and the beach! (As some people work hard to keep freakish fake summer tans all year long, I work hard to keep my complexion pale and cancer-free, if only in protest of all the "you need some color, whitey" declarations.)

However, I did manage to:

-Dinner with the fam at my favorite Italian place, hitting the garlic rolls hard, despite not being that hungry
-Outlet shopping with Dad (so many more discount sweaters to choose from in a place where sweaters aren't needed!)
- Turn a friend's friend's board games and wii party into a White Party (so Miami!) bringing popcorn, powdered donuts, key lime pie, and chips and onion dip.
- DimSum'ed
- Order a fancy martini, only to ask the waiter to bring some mint to fix it (it did)
- Loudly say to a dog in front of its dining owners: "Oh you poor baby, who put a sweater on you when it is 95 degrees out? Evil owners!" then walked away cackling. (I'd blame it on a dare, but I'm just a bitch)
- More fancy drinks at the Delano (Modern, awesomely decorated hotel lobby bar), only to walk across the street, buy multiple airplane-size liquor bottles to have in my purse for a movie
- Amazing pastries at a Charlotte's Bakery ( Empanadas and huge dessert section not to be missed.

Lincoln Road mall in South Beach, where many hours were spent strolling, eating, and drinking.

Old roomie Chris and I in mostly white. Love how it looks like he's caught on to a scent.

Amazing chocolate caramel tart pastry that traveled all the way back to Baltimore with me. (I only take a few nibbles at a time to extend the awesomeness.)

Great food and friends. Loved hanging out like old times with my college buddies. Next reunion in Baltimore, mmmk?

Then I continued my De Stijl modern art basement project. The art will soon be hung, but here's a preview.

Bought a cheap, boring clock from IKEA. Took it apart. Painted face white. used my neon green spray paint to match the edge to my table (basement table, yet to be revealed). Painted, re-numbered. Put back together.

I love the finished product! But what I don't love? That it ticks, but doesn't actually move the hands. FAIL. Debating buying a second clock and hoping that mechanism/hand set works, so my painting isn't a super waste.

Fells Point Fun Fest this weekend! Plan to dance it up with Charm City Swing, window shop, and probably get Mr. Yogato FroYo and/or Pitango Gelato. Would both be overkill? We shall see.

Saturday, September 19

Long awaited update (I'm a terrible blogger)

Yeah, apparently I suck at posting regularly. Lately I've had multiple weekends of successful project days, and a couple of days I deemed project-free days. Good to give myself a break every once in a while.

My mental list of project goals is wrapping up, so the next big goal is to "stage" the house for a photo shoot to send pictures to relatives and far-away friends. (Yes, I watch too much HGTV to know what house staging is and should look like.) That's a project in itself, since my Florida family has only seen images of a table and a toilet.

Big headway has been made on my bedroom, as I've completed the headboard/daybed project no one seemed to understand as I described it. One more trip to IKEA tomorrow will fill out the empty wall and make it much more photogenic.

The project I want to share today is my kitchen photo project. As I've mentioned, I live near Patterson Park, which I consider the Central Park of Baltimore (including an ice-skating rink, boat lake, and a coffee shop named Patterson Perk on one side). Though I have a million windows (Not fun: installing 17 mini-blinds.), my only view is of other rowhouses. I wanted to bring a little bit of the park inside. So, after a leisurely walk through the park with a camera, I decided on my perfect view. The 1890s Victorian/Oriental Pagoda is probably the most photographed structure in the Park (and in Baltimore?), so it's a little cliche, but I like it. Here's the winning picture:

And here's what 36 4"x6" prints look like attached to my kitchen wall:

I really like that this one featured the civil war cannons (Patterson Park and the Civil War) and the red tree on the right, as my kitchen has taken off with a red and green theme (not like Christmas).

Now we have a view of the Park from our breakfast island sitting in the most fabulous Pier 1 barstools (my first house splurge while I was thriftily using craigslist to furnish the place). And instead of paying for one huge print and frame, the cost of this beauty was less than $10! ($0.19 Rite-Aid prints and a box of photo stickies for scrapbooking)

And thanks for all the lovely comments! I didn't even notice they were there, as blogger doesn't shove them in my face like facebook does (i.e. sending me countless emails). I have such awesome neighbors!

Off to have some green curry and watch a movie with my housemates...

Saturday, August 15

Baltimore weirdness

The last week of the hotel! (aka renting out the third bedroom to people on craigslist in exchange for money and my family in exchange for dinners) The little sis and her hubby are in town for a bit before flying out to China. Hmmm, what to do... Oh! An email from Facebook. The local bar is having live music, and a "Ratfishing Tournament." The premise? Catch a rat on a string from the local alleys. The heaviest one wins a free beer and the respect of millions. I read about this group in a super long City Paper article about rats (their group is called B.A.R.F. I wish I was making this up) and when I heard they were only blocks away, I had to see it in action. Who needs the typical Fells Point night out when you can sip a Blue Moon while chatting up guys slathering peanut butter on sticky traps tied to fishing poles who will sit at the edge of the alley and hope to reel in a fat one?

So after a nice dinner and the bottle of wine they brought me from Napa Valley, we wandered over and took in the action. There were newbies and people who have been fishing for years. The leader of BARF bragged that he had a conversation with the Mayor that went like:
"You need to stop these tournaments. It's bad publicity for the city."
"Okay, you take care of all the rats, and we'll stop fishin'."

Almost immediately, one was caught. 1 pound 5 oz. Here is evidence:

Justin got close enough to hold it, but as the photographer I kept my distance. Jess also stayed away, but got to try on the official rat hat. Very sexy.

After you see a rat on fishing line, what else is there to see?

Up for tomorrow: Farmers' Market, painting my room, and the premiere of Mad Men. Yippee!

Thursday, August 6

Bad and Good things in Baltimore

So I've had an eventful week. Last Sunday I took a trip up to NJ to get some final furniture out of storage, got home, unloaded, checked my email in my room, then hung out downstairs. From about 6pm-12am I stayed on the ground floor setting up the basement, had a long dinner with the temporary housemates, returned the truck to the airport, then watched Sunday night TV. In this time period someone broke into my upstairs bathroom window, took my computer, charger, and hard-drive off my bed, defecated in my toilet, and left. In this time period there were between 1-5 people in the house. Because of the 22 shootings in Baltimore that night, the police took 3.5 hours to arrive. Fun night. (On top of this, the officer I dealt with was actually quite rude, suggesting that I should have bars on ALL my windows if I have the audacity to live in the city with nice things. She asked many questions hinting that perhaps someone I let into the house had broken in, [ummm, no. my friends flush!] and ran out for another call in a hurry, not saying goodbye or anything reassuring.) I didn't get to sleep until 6am that night, but my coworkers/management were very understanding that I didn't come in until lunch.

Long story short, (because I've told this what seems like a million times) I was finally relaxing into the idea of getting robbed, but that I was alive and fine and learned lessons about security when I was robbed again. Tuesday night they (same guys?) came in through the downstairs window and stole my purse and XBOX system whilst we were sleeping. My purse was recovered in a nearby alley (and they missed the fact that my wallet was sitting pretty on the coffee table!) but the 360 is a lost cause. Boo hoo, it sucks, but its only stuff. Security has been beefed up since then.

Bright side of things: Talked to a bunch of neighbors (in the PPNA and others) and I have a lot more eyes looking out now. Exchanged phone numbers with some. While I never saw the guy, helped the police collect a description from neighbors and when they caught a guy breaking into rowhouses down the street, the police believe he is the same thief. No problems since.

Happier things: Finally hung some art and curtains in the living room. Had a little get-together for Justine's birthday where lovely people brought Tapas and helped clean up afterwards. (The house is perfect for parties, and even has room for a dance floor!) Pictures to come of the main floor, but I still have big dreams for my room and the basement that have not come to fruition.

Headed to WTMD's free Concert in the Mt. Vernon park with friends and future housemate, then over to the Movie on Federal Hill. Let's hope for sunshine! Or at least not rain, as I'm not too keen on sunshine either.

As promised from the last post, here's a pic of my Arizona Iced Tea-themed bathroom. I'm very happy with it, considering I did it completely free-hand and haven't had an art class since middle school. I think the flowers should be a bit bigger, so I might have another painting session and make them bloom a bit more.

There's a tree growing out of my toilet! Yes, I'm crazy enough that this makes me smile more than I should.

Sunday, July 19


Ok, so one of the reasons I started this was to document and share my crafty projects. After I was on my way to buying this house, and therefore done with studying hundreds of for sale postings on the internet, my attention turned to decorating this beast (and I use "beast" in terms of size, she's already a very beautiful lady). I started perusing and for fun and cheap DIY (do it yourself) house projects. I've gotten some cool ideas, and thought I'd share my before and afters too.

The projects started before I moved in, as I had almost 2 months to be anxious about the fact that I was moving into a huge house with no furniture. Here are the first two creations, which were done over many hours of watching "The Wire" and "Firefly" at the old house.

Project 1: Decoupage Coffee table

I had subscriptions to Baltimore Magazine, Johns Hopkins Mag, Entertainment Weekly, and Wired. I hate throwing things away, so all of these had piled up for about 3+ months (which means over 12 issues of EW). I wanted to put all the fancy patterns and pics to use, then recycle the rest.

I found a listing for a coffee table on craigslist for $10 less than a mile away, so I picked it up immediately. I misplaced the "before" picture, but it was all birchwood legs, with a cheap looking laminate top, and was majorly scuffed and discolored.

After hours of gluing little pieces of magazine scraps to the surface with a couple of bottles of Elemer's Glue and a spackling spatula, applying a couple of coats of a spray laquer, and painting the legs black, voila!

I kept saying that if it was cool I'd be proud, but if it was tacky I could just resell on craigslist. Needless to say, I'm pretty proud.

Yes, Obama is well represented in the table, but its a sign of the times! Magazines love him!

Project 2: Glider chair

While visiting the parents house in June, I was practically glued to their glider chair in the kitchen/den. I found an ugly one on craigslist for $20 and made it a little more dodern and awesome with some nice fabric and black spray paint.


Achieved with a couple stitches into the original fabric and a bit of "No-stitch glue" because I am lazy. I think it really pops. Gregory loves sleeping on it too, but that is true about most surfaces in the house. :)

Next post: My Arizona Iced tea inspired bathroom.

Thursday, July 16

And me + Gregory + house!

Yes, this is an awkward make-the-cat-look-like-he's-not-running-away pic, but here we are with my new house.

Note the new paint job on the door (Thanks, Mom!) and the flowers, which are fighting for their lives in this summer heat.

Off to see a flick on the Hill (first time!) with Polish kielbasa, pierogies, and wine in tow.

Next goal is to get the inside of the house presentable enough to show off, which would be easier if there wasn't so much fun stuff going on! Artscape this weekend! I really need to lock myself in the house and paint my bedroom, as the yellowish-beige on every wall of the house is getting to me, but the Butterfly potatoes and chicken-on-a-stick are a-calling to me.

Wednesday, July 15

Welcome to my new home

Thanks for visiting!

Here's my story: sometime in the last year with the magic combination of a) me having a lovely job that seems to have no intention to stop paying me anytime soon, b) said job willing to reimburse for a MS program, which I plan to take advantage of starting in the fall (part-time = 3+ years!!!), c) the economy going to shit and the housing market with it, d) the lovely $8000 first-time homebuyer credit...I thought it was time to stop renting. I guess in December or so I semi-arbitrarily decided that I should buy a house by summer. Skip through the searching and the 40 houses I looked at and logged detailed notes about in an excel file (I'm such a nerd), and I bought the perfect little (but not so little) house a block from Patterson Park. While it was totally rehabbed recently, there is still much to be done to make it worthy of me calling it home, i.e. fantastic.

Since I got this "I"m going grow up and own something" idea, I've been glued to HGTV and home-interior design blogs. Though an engineer by trade, I'm beginning to flex my creative side more. I see things and think "I can do that!" This will chronicle my successes and failures in designing my house and share pics with my friends and family who are far away but should still suck it up and make the trip to visit me.

Here's the pic of the house before I moved in, and later I'll add a pic of the Ashley-fied version!