Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rural Life: Power-ups...Rural By Choice

Returning to a rural community doesn't mean you can't "hack it" in the real means you desire the values we consider important in rural America. Yes, everyone knows your name and what you're up to at almost every moment, but if you're in a bind and need a helping hand, you don't have to look very far. Your children can safely wander the streets and you know that just a phone call can get them running home. Your child can make the basketball team without a try-out, just a bit more hardwork and they'll be starting varsity no doubt. Entitlement has not yet seeped into every pore of our way of life and hardwork is held in high regard. Yes, the real estate here may be tight and not easy to access but you have the chance to build your dreams from scratch. You can live a life you'll love. You can start a business and be successful because we know there are many unfilled niches in rural communities. It may not be the easiest lifestyle but I believe it's worth it. It's worth it to know you can make more of an impact on an entire community and its citizens in 6 months than you could on your cubicle mate in 6 months.

I'm rural by choice because I have a dream to raise a family where the land is theirs to touch, to cultivate. The streets are safe to play in and generally everyone is friendly and understanding. I'm rural by choice because I've seen the world and would much rather be coming home to rural America than coming home to the hustle and bustle of a city. Yes, I miss sushi and Starbucks and movie theaters but I have the chance to start my fish farm and my coffee shop and create movies on the side of city hall and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

I'm part of an organization...a grassroots, very new organization known as Power-ups! This group is made of young people between the ages of 21-39 that are rural by choice. If you're rural by choice, go check out their website and sign up...! We're also on Facebook! It's a great way to connect and learn how other Power-ups are dealing with issues and successes in their rural part of the world. It's not expected for successful young professionals to returning to rural America and that's what makes this movement so great! We are rare and strong and passionate about where we live! And if I hadn't been passionate about being a citizen of rural Kansas, I never would've met the love of my one more good thing to add to the awesome things about being rural by choice!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November!

Wow I can't believe that it's already November! Since June 1st my world has been spinning pretty darn fast. I've been blessed with an incredible job in an amazing community. The love of my life has finally entered my life. I've met many new people and am trying to make a positive impact on this community. I've decided this is where I want to grow old and raise my children.

In the past month alone, I've turned a year older,

gone back to my Alma's weird to say that, helped my boyfriend move into a new house (which revealed a lot of really cool things about him and our relationship), attended a Halloween party dressed as a flapper with a sexy gangster at my side the entire night,

and had my first round of trick or treaters come to my house (I just LOVE little kids!)

I'm not sure how my life could get any better right now. I meant to write blogs about each of these awesome things but my job has kept me hopping. I've got four big events and projects this month so the planning for that has been a little overwhelming and certainly a learning experience.

I'm realizing my KU education is truly paying off in some instances...thank you MGMT 455 and ABSC 311 and not so much in others...maybe I should've taken more accounting and finance classes after all. I know that I will constantly be learning as I do my work but I often worry that I'm not learning things fast enough because I don't want to fall behind other communities. I shouldn't worry though because I've got an incredible support team both here and back home. I have the world's best friends.

I've got a boyfriend who believes in me and loves me constantly and I couldn't ask for anything more.

So this was just a little life update for anyone out there who reads this. Hopefully I'll find time (maybe I'll get internet at home) to blog a little bit more and about more exciting stuff!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Nothing sexier than a man who...

There is nothing sexier than a man who...

Loves me unconditionally...(this is huge because in the past week I've been a little crazy)
Can fix anything...(I used to think all men could do this, but now I realize it's only the special my daddy and my boyfriend)
Does physical labor for a living...(I was riding in the semi with my man this weekend and it was a good thing I was sitting down because watching him shift gears was making me weak at the knees...weird I know, but he is damn sexy pretty much anything physical...shifting gears, loading chemicals, fixing his rig...sigh..I digress)
Can sense when something is wrong and actually cares.
Isn't embarassed to show affection.
Knows the value of hard work.
Loves his roots and where he was raised.
Has his mind made up that I'm all he wants.
Gives me compliments even though I've heard it a hundred times before.
Is good with little kids...(not afraid he's gonna break them)
Speaks his mind AND listens to me.
Wears boots and blue jeans.

Basically...there's nothing sexier than a man like mine.

Sometimes I start analyzing the day to day details of my relationship and have to step back and remember the big picture. I have found someone who makes me happier than I've ever been and who understands and accepts me just the way I am. He knows me better than anyone in this world. I am blessed and in love...forever and always.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rural Life: My Hometown

Growing up, especially getting through high school, I was one of those kids that made the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," true. I wasn't a bad kid. In fact, I was an overachieving, over-involved, kind to everyone kid. But I became who I am today because of the people that I surrounded myself with. I never fit in with other teenagers, but was content to do my own thing regardless of whether it was cool or not. One of those things was being involved with our economic development office and a group called HTC. Yesterday, I returned to my hometown to speak to Governor Brownback about the success of Hometown Competitiveness (HTC) and Kansas Hometown Prosperity (KHP) that has worked well in my community, a concept I helped to implement and nurture throughout high school and beyond. It was amazing and encouraging to me to be welcomed back home in such a loving manner. While part of the concept is to embrace youth returning to rural communities to build their careers and families, the fact that members of my town hadn't forgetten me, meant everything. I even had one of my high school teacher's approach me afterwards just to tell me how proud she was of how much I've accomplished. If that doesn't sound like a village raising a child I don't know what does. 

Over the past month, I've felt like I was losing momentum and confidence in myself at my new job, even though my awesome boyfriend and his family keep telling me otherwise, so my little trip home was rejuvenating. The encouragement and belief that I will do great things where I'm at now, from my hometown "family" was a nice breath of fresh air and confidence. I realized as I spoke to the Governor I had made things happen but it wasn't on my own and in my new home I don't have to work alone either.

I know that the people in my new community are equally amazing because it's a western Kansas thing to be kind and caring, I'm just new still and it's hard to accept new sometimes I think. That's the other thing western Kansans are is stubborn and often adverse to change. It's hard to know if I'm making an impact and accomplishing much at all when I see so many things I want to do and I don't know enough people to make that change. I pray it will get easier over time because as much of an emotional connection as I have to my wonderful hometown, it's almost time to let go. It's like a relationship, you can't move on and fall in love with someone else, while you still hold on to parts of your last relationship. Or in this case can I? I think that it is a hard concept for me to grasp because I am who I am thanks to my hometown. I feel like if I let go of my hometown and fall in love with my new community, I'll lose something that makes me, me. Yet I want to fall in love with this town as much as the other because the man I love loves it here and I love that. Finally someone who gets my love of small towns. I grew up in one of the best rural towns in America and now my goal is to make my current community second best so my children will someday be able to call this little community on the prairie, home.

Thanks for reading along as I gushed about small towns. If you haven't been to one, hop on a plane or train and visit me. They're the best with their space and beauty and security. Happy weekend!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend in Review

I was really sad to wake up this morning and realize it was Monday and I would have to go to work. I love my job, but I had an amazing weekend and did NOT want it to be over. It was full of delicious food, fun and lots of love!

Friday night I went home for the first time in almost 2 months. I live 2 hours away from home and it's been 2 months, clearly my life has been a little busy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I'm a past worries junkie

Okay I don't really think I'm a junkie. I don't get enjoyment out of worrying about things either in the past or the future but damn it, I do it a lot. And if anyone out there read my last post, I am completely in love. But my stupid worries keep creeping into my relationship. I need to leave the past where it is because this man is my future, my new life, my love. Never has anyone loved me as much as he does and never have I loved anyone as much as I love him. It's obvious when we are together that there is no one on the face of this planet who is more perfectly suited for me. So why then do I worry? I think it's because I can't believe that someone this good could happen to me. I think lurking behind the next corner something will happen that will make him change his mind. But I'm letting that feeling go. No more looking back or ruining my relationship by thinking of things that exes have done. I'm only going to look ahead and the future is bright because he is going to be by my side for a long time. This thing we have works perfectly, and I can't imagine my life any other way.

Levi, I love you forever and always.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How love makes me feel

I've found the love I've been dreaming of. A man who sweeps me off my feet and takes my breath away just by walking in a room and shooting me his irresistible smile. He is always offering to help me and checking to see how my day is. I know these are small things but they're the things I've been searching for. He tells me how he feels about me and not that I'm insecure but I'm always wanted that constant reminder of admiration and affection. I don't have to beg him to tell me how he feels or what he's thinking, he just shares. Everything I've been looking for he is. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Update...I'm Exhausted

Well I've certainly been sucking at blogging. This whole "no internet" thing is a real pain, but on top of that I have been so darn busy I'm not sure when I'd have time. Last week, I was busy helping with high school girls' basketball camp! It was such an amazing time. I love basketball and I really enjoyed helping out the girls and getting to know them. They are our future and I want to try and make a positive impact in their lives in any way possible. It was also fun playing basketball again. Just as I was getting in shape...kind of...the week was winding down. The first day kicked my butt with basic scrimmaging. I ended up with a pinched nerve in my neck and bruised knees. I was definitely showing my age...I felt so old at 22. I won't have the time to be the official assistant coach but I hope I get a chance to help coach them again sometime.

This week has both flown by and dragged on. Monday, Tuesday and last night I had meetings and events in the evening. I'm so excited it's the weekend and I'll get to relax a little bit. It was so great to get almost 2 inches of rain last night even though it completely ruined my community clean-up event. In Western Kansas you learn not to complain when you get rain; it's always welcome. Over the last couple of weeks I've finally made some friends, one of them being of the male sort. He's pretty amazing...such a gentleman, which I feel is a very rare find. It's so nice to not feel so alone in my new world. I've also had a couple of really exciting things happen to me professionally but I can't really share details here. Let's just say I'm loving life!

Next week is our community's fair. I'm going to try and blog about it everyday, but we'll see how that works out. From what I've been told it's one of the few things that occur here where people all band together to make something great happen. There's going to be fair events like a rodeo and a parade, a carnival where all the rides and games are only 25 cents and everything is community owned and operated, and of course I've been told about all the delicious food such as bierocks, pies, pancake feeds, and cotton candy. I've volunteered to work four different events so I'm excited for a chance to be a part of this huge community event!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Disclaimer: I want to start by saying I'm STILL trying to figure out what the purpose of this blog is. I decided I really enjoyed doing restaurant reviews in DC so maybe I'll try my hand at a book review. I like a lot of things so I'll blog about a lot of things.

Okay, so back to the book. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. About the time the movie, Water For Elephants, was coming out my mom bought this book. I couldn't wait for her to finish so I could read it. I'm the kind of person who usually likes the book better than the movie about the book and I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie so I don't "taint" my creation and interpretation of the characters. That being said last weekend I was very excited to go home and see the book waiting on the bed for me to read! I started it Tuesday and finished it last night around 12:40 AM. It was certainly one of the best books I've read in a while. I spent two nights in a row reading till past midnight. It was the type of book that made me laugh, made me cry, made my heart race and I couldn't put it down!

Set in the 1930s on a circus train, the main character Jacob Janoskowski has his life before him, as he's almost set to graduate from Cornell as a veterinarian. Then a tragic event completes changes his plans and he takes off in the wilderness. He jumps onto a train and finds himself in the middle of the Benzini Brothers circus. The book flashes between him in the 30s telling about the circus and all he encountered including Marlena the beautiful horse girl and an elephant named Rosie, and his current situation, where he sits in a nursing home and is made to feel like he is worthless. He befriends a nurse whose name is Rosemary and she is always kind to him bringing him food that isn't mushy and "old people" food.

There were times I'd laugh out loud imagining the situation described. There was an instance that as I read tears were flowing down my cheek before I realized it. I may be an unusual reader as I really engage in the words and let them take me somewhere else, but I think that's what readings for. I sometimes wish I read more books that taught me things but everytime I try, I am almost put to sleep. I also really liked this book because it was interesting to see how historically accurate it was regarding the Great Depression.

If you're looking for a good book that takes you away and really allows you to connect with the characters, if that's your sort of thing, I would reccommend reading Water for Elephants. I would give it 4.5 stars out of 5, just because well that's what I feel like doing.

Have you read Water for Elephants? If so, what did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rural Life: Hospitals

In my new position as economic development director, I've realized that there are certain things necessary to make anywhere, but especially a rural community, a good place to live. I haven't just realized them, but as I'm thinking of ways to motivate and inspire people to move to my small town they've come to the front of my mind. One of the most important factors for whether or not you want to live somewhere is do they have a hospital? Or any type of healthcare for that matter.

I actually wanted to write this post about 6 months ago. I was first really struck by the importance of having a hospital in a rural community when my family helped an elderly couple with their medical situation. During church an elderly gentleman started getting weak and wasn't able to stand or walk on his own very well. Immediately after church his wife was trying to help him get out of church, down the steps and to the car, but his legs were so weak it was difficult. My family got pulled in to the situation, not only because it is a small town and that's what you do, but because my brother was one of the few people in church strong enough to help support and basically carry this man to his car. As soon as we got him there, his wife knew something was wrong and he needed to get to the hospital ASAP! Thankfully, my hometown has a hospital and a wonderful one at that. We were able to get him in the ER and have him checked out. It took a couple of hours for tests to be run, but when all was said and done he got seen quicker than he would've in a city hospital. On top of that, they were able to call the pharmacist who was willing to quickly run down to the pharmacy to fill a prescription. At 9 o'clock at night. How cool is that?!

If that facility wasn't available, this couple would've had to drive 30 minutes to the nearest hospital where I'm sure their prescription would've had to wait till the next day. Amazing. My favorite part of this story was that after we helped this elderly couple back home they offered us food and chatted with us about life. This was the first time I'd ever met them.

In my current location, they have a very modern hospital with some of the latest medical technology. Not only does this town have a hospital and nursing home, they have a dentist and pharmacy. There are also two optometrists that visit twice a week. For those who prefer alternate forms of medicine, we also have a very good chiropractor (I went to him last week). Citizens can have most of their health care needs taken care of right at home. They are also working on a project to make sure their airport is up to code so the flight for life planes can easily access our little town.

Hospitals are in the top three things that are necessary if a rural community is to survive. Thankfully we have individuals such as my former boss, Senator Jerry Moran, standing up and promoting rural health care to insure its future. That is one of many reasons I admire him. Incentives for medical students to return to and serve underserved areas such as rural communities will also help insure the future of rural health care. Progressive actions such as hospital remodeling, as our population ages will continue to help the survival of rural community hospitals. We need to not only make sure that healthcare is available for the aging population but also our younger generations as well.

Words of Wisdom:"I will work to make sure that Kansans have access to health care networks within their own communities because this care is essential to the prosperity and survival of the towns we call home." Senator Jerry Moran 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My New Life

Wow I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've blogged. I've started my new life in rural America and have yet to set up internet. That also means I have yet to have cable and have been biding my time watching DVDs, taking walks, and playing Angry Birds on my iPhone. I've thought about blogging from my iPhone but quickly realized I don't have the patience for that. So right now, I'm at work, on a Saturday and decided to take a little break and blog.

I'm grateful to be back in Western Kansas. I love it here, the people are kind, the weather doesn't make me feel like I'm suffocating (reference to the humidity of Eastern Kansas and DC)...except when the dust gets to blowing, and I'm blessed to have a job doing what I love. I find joy in gardening and was afraid I was going to lose the one thing making me happy here when a hailstorm rolled through town last night. But no worries all the plants survived and were probably relieved at the drink of rain that followed the hail. I absolutely love driving down the street and getting waves from everyone I pass. That just doesn't happen anywhere else and it always makes me smile.

There are downsides to being here and it's becoming harder to smile and tell the truth when people ask me how I'm getting along and how I like it here. I have no friends, not for a lack of trying, but I just think I don't know how to make friends. I've met so many people who are very kind, but sometimes my head spins trying to remember names and faces, but there's nothing like meeting someone who can be a real friend. I live alone, which I enjoy...most of the time. Given I haven't found a friend, it's hard to find a roommate who I know I would get along with. I guess I'm a picky person. At work, I feel as though I'm constantly being compared to the former director and I recognize I have big shoes to fill and I will. However, people need to realize I'm not her and the circumstances are completely different given sources of funding are hard to find and I'm allowed an adjustment period to learn about the community. Come Friday every week, I'm literally on the verge of tears from stress and defeat. I truly believe this community, though small, has the potential to be great. I get a sense of negativity from some people and I want to work to stop that and spread a positive outlook but negativity really is a disease and it takes more than one person to combat it.

If I get to blog more regularly, I want to talk about the assets in this community and hopefully I'll start seeing changes in attitudes. This community really does have a lot to offer. There's great shopping and friendly people to help you out. There is a rich history, much of which can be explored in the Museum of the Great Plains. The health care system and education system are both top notch. And truly most of the people are complete gems, very welcoming and glad to have me in their community. Hopefully I will be able to find those people who will be on my team and help me change this town.

Sorry there aren't any pictures...since I'm on my work computer I don't have access to any. This really is a good place to be, I just need to find a friend here, because many of friends can't relate to what I'm experiencing or are too busy living their own lives to care it seems.

Words of Wisdom: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Friday, May 20, 2011

Inspirational quote of the moment

So the other day I was feeling like I really missed out on some parts of the college life and could have done better. Well today is my business school graduation ceremony and I was blessed to find this quote that made me feel better about all those doubts.

Words of Wisdom: “No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.” ~Chuck Palahniuk

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Never knew done would feel like this....

Today I took my last final as a college student. I will have a college degree in Business Management and Leadership Studies with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I have landed a terrific job doing something I absolutely love. I have made numerous memories and friends, I've got good grades(3.87 GPA), I've won some awards and served in a few leadership roles in campus groups. I've had jobs and internships, travel experiences and I've lost and found myself along the way.

Right now, I should be elated with my accomplishments. Just the fact I have a degree and a job should be enough but I feel like something's missing. I keep thinking about the things I didn't do. I missed opportunities to study harder and get that 4.0 GPA.  I didn't complete the KU Honors Program, mainly because most of the classes that would have been perfect for honors courses I took in high school. I never had a role as President of a group. I have no significant other to be proud of my accomplishments. I don't know if I'm dwelling on the things I missed because it's over or if I'm genuinely disappointed in myself for not doing college bigger and badder. Is this what its supposed to feel like to reach a goal this big?  

Sorry for the sob fest...I really am proud of what I've done but part of me wonders if I could have been better and I don't know if this is normal. I'm also sorry I'm posting this more or less unedited. I hope you like it raw.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week

I don't usually like writing or talking about religious things but I was kind of moved and full of thoughts today so this post may be a little weird. I'll just start off by saying I've never been truly religious. I've attended the Catholic church my entire life, somewhat reluctantly. Somewhere inside of myself, I wanted to be the perfect Catholic and later the perfect Christian, and have tried for the majority of 22 years to "fake it till I make it." However, something is missing. Perhaps it's my unwillingness to surrender to the unknown. Or my disgust with hypocrites and the actions of so-called Christians, of which I am one. Don't get me wrong, I believe in a higher power, just not wholeheartedly at all times.I would say that I'm certainly more spiritual rather than religious. However, with my grandfather's passing in January I felt the need to find God and my faith. He was the most devout Catholic and set an example for his children and grandchildren. However, in the past 4 months I have only been to church a total of 5 times. Every time I went I would find myself sitting alone thinking of how much I missed my grandfather and how much I desired to have that relationship with God and be moved the way my grandfather was, and then I would cry. In church. Surrounded by strangers. Talk about embarassing.

Anyway...all this brings me to the point that today, Palm Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week. As I sat in church today, memories of Lenten seasons and Holy Weeks past came to mind. I recalled the Wednesday night Stations of the Cross, repeating words that at the time were just words and now hold meaning beyond belief. I recalled discussing Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ with a woman who has since passed, who tried her hardest to bring my doubting heart to Jesus. I recalled the Easter Sunday services with unfiltered light shining as the back door of my little country church swung wide open, the light symbolic of new life. I recalled being surrounded by family and good food and enjoying Easter egg hunts in the backyard. My grandfather would fill eggs with quarters not candy, which is symbolic of struggles that are occurring now. I recalled the awkwardness of my youth on Good Friday as I was told to venerate the cross with a kiss, containing a splinter of the true cross found by St. Helen. Why would I want to kiss an inanimate object?  Through all these strange thoughts and memories somehow, for once, as I sat in church, I was moved. The unselfishness and love showed to all of us by Jesus, which is really brought to light during Holy Week, is something I want to show to others. His fear as he prayed in the garden at Gethesmene showed just how human and divine he was all in one. While I may not be the best Catholic or Christian, I always strive to love everyone as Jesus loved us. And I'm really looking forward to Holy Week because while the story is always the same, the memories and meaning change from year to year.

Words of Wisdom: "This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you." John 15:12

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Education is the Key to Rural Community Survival

This excerpt from the book, Survival of Rural America: Small Victories and Bitter Harvests by Richard Wood really spoke to me and I wanted to share some thoughts with you.  Jackson refers to Wes Jackson of the Land Institute outside of Salina.

"The universities now offer only one serious major: upward mobility. Little attention is paid to educating the young to return home and contribute to their communities. There is no such thing as a 'homecoming' major," by which Jackson means "home" in at least two contexts: the rural communities from which many people come - and to which most never return, and home as a "coherent community that is in turn embedded in the ecological realities of its surrounding landscape." "We educate kids to take tests," Jackson says, but "teachers don't even know how to talk about community responsibility.."

As many of you know this has been the plight of small towns for decades and something as a sophomore in high school I set out to reverse. There has been this mindset that educated people don't return to small towns, and my question is why the hell not? As I near the end of my education at the University of Kansas, and I'm not bashing my beloved almost alma mater at all, but I've recognized the lack of promotion there is for the rural lifestyle. Yes, a majority of the students are from and will return to the big city after graduation, but as Jackson says, it seems there is nothing much being done to promote returning to rural America. I've been a believer that this idea of returning home needs to start at home in the community, in your family when the person is younger, however, why not educate more students on the importance of the rural way of life. I'm utterly disappointed that the University of Kansas, to my knowledge does not offer a rural socialogy class or major. And for that fact, I'm not even sure that KSU does either. Luckily in the past year, I've been able to share my rural insights and passions with a few of my professors and they clearly see the benefits of helping rural communities. They've begun working on projects and encouraging any other students from rural communities to consider returning there. However, these are just two people that are working on this...there needs to be a much bigger focus than that.

I'm thankful that my "return home education" started years ago and is now coming full circle. It frustrates me that those "city kids" I've had in classes and as friends do not understand why I want to return to a small town. I've tried many times to explain and demonstrate the numerous benefits to rural America's way of life, while understanding it may not be for everyone. True, I will not be returning home to Atwood, but I will be returning home to Western Kansas. After 7 years of working with people in Rawlins County, we have seen an increase in former AHS graduates returning home and it delights me. It's often of their own accord, but changing the mindsets of people both in universities and communities to encourage rural returns I believe will increase this trend. One of things I'm most excited to try and implement in my new position in Wichita County is to work to bring young people home. Get the young people involved while in high school and educate them on the opportunities that are theirs, if they want to return home.

I hope that if you call a rural community home you will seriously consider returning there someday and bringing your talents and knowledge you gain from the rest of the world home with you. And my dear city friends, please come visit me and I'll do my best to demonstrate the beautiful and sacred way of life that rural communities offer. I promise you just because the way of life is slower does not mean that we are any less educated than any of you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Miracle Day

Today seemed like just another day in many aspects but in others, it was full of miracles.

Miracles witnessed:
1) How much being a true friend can change someone's day, life, attitude.
2) How powerful social media is checkout Twitter posts for #operationlayla and #prayforjapan. 
3)  Operation Layla. Social media was abuzz and these tremendous ladies in the blogging world raised and are continuing to raise money for a friend in need. Just reading a couple of blog posts from Jessica and Laura, I jumped on board. I was so moved and I hope you will also be willing to donate to this cause. I'm making Oreo Fudge Bars and I hope that you'll want to bid on them! Trust me, they're delicious!
4) Absolutely beautiful weather for the beginning of March.

For Lent, I'm doing things that will enhance my outlook on life and help me realize that life isn't as bad as I sometimes make it. I'm counting my blessings and taking time to think about the best thing that happens to me every day and I'm also going to help someone else in some way or another every day. I was feeling kind of down in the dumps tonight and in my attempt to be positive, I started thinking about the miracles that I saw today especially in Operation Layla and wanted to share it with you all.

Words of Wisdom: "There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything in life is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Visiting Mrs. and Mr. F

When I say Mrs. and Mr. F...I'm not making an Arrested Development reference,

Please tell me there is atleast one Arrested Development fan out there!

 I'm talking about seeing Laura from The Luckiest in Love!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I never told you...

I never told you that I love you,
You were never mine to love.
Our situation did not allow for loving,
But it happened anyway.
We worked well together,
Loving but not loving.
Now I miss you and need to
Tell you that I love you.
I want you to be mine to love.

copyright JustSimone 2011.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I want my paperback, paperback, paperback books!

I love technology...most days. Sometimes I get overloaded with information but then again sometimes I'd love an iPhone to Google every question that comes to mind. Every day I love being able to blog, read blogs and check my email. But recently I've been frustrated with technology because of it's effect on one of my favorite things/places...bookstores. If you watch the news and don't completely live under a rock, you may have heard about Borders filing for bankruptcy and yesterday the Wall Street Journal had an article about Barnes and Noble's profits falling 25%. With the introduction of the Kindle, iPad and, Barnes and Noble's attempt not to completely fail, the NookColor, as well as the ability to purchase books online thanks to Amazon, bookstores are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It's funny to think that about 15 years ago, big box bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble were on the rise threatening mom and pop bookshops and now technology is king.

                                                      Reading in the National Garden
I know there are many benefits to being able to carry every single book in one device, bookmarking points and typing notes in the margins. It creates less waste, though I personally have kept every book I've ever purchased and actually purchase books instead of using the library. I, however, love perusing a bookstore, judging books by their covers. I love the smell of books, the feel of turning pages and feeling the end draw near based on transfer of pages from front to back. I don't like to think that someday I may be expected to read all my books online. I would like to think that books will never become completely obsolete, and that maybe I'm just old-fashioned in my young age. Technology, of course, has brought us many great things such as the Internet, news and information at our finger tips and the ability to work from virtually anywhere. But there's something beautiful about books! I've always dreamed of having a room in my future home where all the books I collect over the years line the walls. While in DC, I visited the Library of Congress, which after a fire, was sourced by Thomas Jefferson's personal collection of books. He had thousands of books on virtually every subject and in many languages. After hearing about the failing of current bookstores, there was also a news story yesterday about Thomas Jefferson's books. While there is currently a display of his remaining collection in the Library of Congress, more of his collection was discovered at Washington University in St. Louis. Read about it here!

                                            Books stacked side by side floor to ceiling...beautiful sight!

All in all, technology is great and so is moving forward. I don't want to be a hermit and completely out of touch with the world. However, I hope that it doesn't threaten to change one of my favorite pastimes. I've been reading books, well devouring books, since I was a child and I don't like the fact that the way I will access them is changing. Somehow discovering someone famous' Kindle 200 years from now doesn't quite hold the same charm and mystery that discovering an old book collection does. I'm sure that there will always be bookstores, though not in the beauty and splendor that we have seen in the past few years.  

How do you feel about books? Are you happy reading them on electronic devices or are you like me?

Words of Wisdom: "I cannot live without books" - Thomas Jefferson

"I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things." -George Robert Gissing

Friday, February 18, 2011

National Drink Wine Day: Bluejacket Crossing Winery

Thanks to my new blog "friend", Jessica at Jesstagirl and Her Officer, I found out that today is National Drink Wine Day, which I might just deem my new favorite holiday. Sorry Thanksgiving!
                                           A little vino and some brushetta...yum!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

This post may upset some people who think being in love and celebrating Valentine's Day is the bees' knees but I think Valentine's Day is an unnescessary holiday. It's just another reason for the corporate world to overly commercialize a historically Christian holiday. I honestly shouldn't blame it entirely on the corporate world...I am all for increasing profits but ugh. If you really love someone you don't need a special holiday to give them roses, shower them in kind and loving words, and treat them to a nice dinner. That should be done as often as possible. These may sound like the rantings of a bitterly single chick, and you may be partially correct but I still feel that love should not be displayed one day out of the year. If you love someone, tell them right there in that moment. Tell them every chance you get. I believe that deep down under all this hurt, I'm still a hopeless romantic and maybe if things weren't the way they are, I would be glad to revel in a gift of flowers and sappy cards but maybe not. I think I will always stand by my thought that Valentine's Day is ridiculous. This year as much as I'd like to have this mindset:


But I'm going to ignore all the lovey-dovey mushy stuff and focus on a couple of relationships that have been falling through the cracks. I'm going to do a better job of loving myself and remembering His love. One of my favorite Bible verses is: "And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." - Ephesians 5:2.

So although I may have started off being bitter about this holiday, I will not be acting in such a way. I want to show love to all I come in contact with, no matter how much I hurt inside. I hope those of you who are single will join me in this effort to spread the love. And love yourself.

So to add to this post's ridiculous contradictions, my words of wisdom are going to be some of my favorite love quotes.

Words of Wisdom: "Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." -Robert Frost

"To those who have given up on love, I say, Trust life a little bit." – Maya Angelou

"I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul." - Pablo Neruda

"When love beckons you, follow him though his ways are hard and steep." - Kahlil Gibran

"Do not harbor a calloused heart, instead open your heart and love completely." - me

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Washington, DC: Food Review, Brunch and then some...

Ahhh Sunday morning. Sundays in DC usually consisted of getting up and going to church and then hitting up somewhere for brunch. Later, as I mentioned previously I would spend the afternoons in Eastern Market and would sometimes grab a delicious pretzel and lemonade for lunch or a snack. One of my favorite brunch places was Montmartre.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Food Review: Yia Yia's Euro Bistro

I have such a love affair with food it's quite silly. No one understands this as well as my best friend, who I got to see last weekend and tonight! She lives in Oklahoma and we haven't seen each other two weekends in a row since freshman year. Last weekend I flew down to OKC for her birthday and then last minute she booked a flight to KC to spend this weekend with her mama. So tonight I joined her and her mother at Yia Yia's Euro Bistro in Overland Park. First impressions, it was very Euro, they did a good job with that one. And the bar was packed, good sign. We had reservations at 6:45 and boy were they right on time. As we sat down the table behind us was getting their food and it smelled amazing! My friend's mom sat down opened the menu and immediately closed it, already knowing what her favorite dish was and that she would be sticking with it, the grilled salmon salad. I, of course, new here took a fair amount of time evaluating my choices and my oh my, were there alot. I finally opted for the sweet corn risotto and wood grilled shrimp. My bestie ordered a pear and avocado salad. She also, in some secret Yia Yia code, ordered baba ganoush. It's actually my understanding this is included with your order so even if you don't have any Yia Yia secrets(haha), you will still be able to enjoy this amazingly delicious appetizer. I had never had or heard of baba ganoush, which I now realize is so sad because it may be my new favorite's like hummus but 800 times better. And the bread that they serve it with was warm and delicious with the perfect amount of crunch in the crust. And my mouth is watering.

So as we quickly polished off the baba ganoush, and may have considered asking the table next to us if they were going to eat theirs, the chefs prepared our amazing dinners. The sweet corn risotto was absolutely divine. And the shrimp slightly spicy but such a good mate for the creamy sweet risotto. I have to figure out a way to duplicate that entire meal. My bestie, who is a vegetarian, said she now plans on ordering the risotto sans shrimp in the future. Yia Yia's has locations in KC, Denver, St. Louis, Little Rock and Wichita. If any of these are near you, go and eat there as soon as possible. It would make a fabulous date spot...Valentine's Day is Monday...hint hint. Or it could be just be fun if you're a Europe lover who doesn't have the moolah to cross the pond. Fabulous flavors abound. I really wish I would of brought my camera because I would showcase my delicious shrimp and risotto but I forgot. So feast your eyes on my beautiful bestie and I last weekend in OKC!

Isn't she a babe?

Have you ever been to a Yia Yia's? If so what did you think?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Washington DC: Food Review, Bars

So "bars" doesn't really describe a type of food, but they deserve a review too! While I don't think I ever ate anything too terribly delectable or out of the ordinary at any bars, happy hours were frequent occurances. I have to tell you, happy hours ruined me...I've come back to college life and drinking doesn't start until 9:30 or 10, which means I don't get to sleep until 12 or 1 (though really I keep whimping out and either a) not going out or b) being done by 11). With happy hours in the real world, I got to drink at 6 and if I so chose I was in bed by 9:30 or 10. Its a rough adjustment. I'm partially kidding, only because I'm not that ahem...lame.

Without further adieu, DC's notable bars according to Simone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Washington, DC: Food Review, Pizza, Burgers and Shakes

Pizza, burgers and shakes. Seemingly American staples that are simple but I know a few places in DC that make them oh so delicious and far from simple.

First, pizza. My favorite was the recently famous pizza shoppe that serves up scrumptious pizza by the slice: We, The Pizza, Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn's second restaurant in DC just up Pennsylvania Ave from the House Office Buildings. Just preparing to write about my favorite slice is making my mouth water. Mendelsohn's restaurant serves both by the slice and by the pie pizzas with unique combinations of toppings as well as handmade sodas and gelato. My absolute favorite slice was the white pie with ricotta, fotina, parmesean, mozzerella, garlic, olive oil and salt and parsley. The forest shroomin pie and the BBQ pork pie were close seconds.

Since I'm talking up Chef Spike's pizza, I should definitely mention his burger joint: Good Stuff Eatery. Juicy burgers some with unusual toppings and names. He has both a Michelle and Barack Obama burger. Mendelsohn also has fabulous french fries with sea salt and also french fries with thyme, rosemary and sea salt, those are my fav! While I enjoy a rather crispy french fry, I overlook that for the amazing flavors that these fries have. And the cap on a perfect meal at Good Stuff has to include a handspun milkshake. They are famous for their toasted marshmallow shake but the cookies and cream one is equally delicious and creamy!

And now that I'm on the topic of milkshakes, I will tell you go to Ted's Bulletin. My friend Ketan first introduced me to their milkshakes after a night at Matchbox pizza (I'll get to that soon!). He was in love with their s'mores milkshake (apparently the Brits have never heard of s'mores), which I must admit was a little sweet for my taste, but I soon discovered their peanut butter, chocolate and banana or pbchoconana shake and I was in heaven. Ted's also has adult milkshakes that I enjoyed with a couple of my friends from L-town that came to visit me for fall break. I had the tequila sunrise and the bailey's caramel macchiato which were both fabulous. Ted's is also famous for having breakfast all day including the delicious Walk of Shame Breakfast have to eat this, they also serve homemade poptarts and twinkies and play old movies and cartoons all day. Ted's was one of the places I frequented most because of their unique and yummy treats, fun atmosphere and super nice servers.

My friends A and C outside of Ted's after our adult milkshakes!

My friend Ketan also introduced me to Ray's Hell Burger in Rosslyn (don't ya just love the name?). While it's kind of out of the way, especially if you're relying strictly on the Metro system, it's delicious! You get to choose from a list of a million ingredients including sooooo many different types of cheese. This was one of the first places I went so I don't really remember what I ordered but it was yummy! Do make sure you have cash here because they do not take cards!

Rounding out my pizza, burger, shake review is going to be Matchbox. Matchbox is a snooty pizza place with a couple different locations in DC proper. They are similar to We, The Pizza with their unique pizza topping combinations, but you have to buy a whole pizza so I wouldn't recommend it if you're going solo, unless you like leftovers (I'm picky and like to eat something different everyday). I ordered the proscuitto white pizza with kalamata olives, prosciutto, ricotta, mozzerela, garlic and olive oil. It was scrumptious, just a little much for one! Clearly I like pizzas with cheese and garlic. =) I do think that my opinion of Matchbox was clouded by the company I was with that evening so perhaps I can't give the atmosphere a proper rating. The food was perfecto though a bit pricey! They do have items other than pizzas, so it might be a nice date place. If you do go, check back here and let me know what you think of the atmosphere.

I am now sooooo hungry...I could seriously go for a slice of white pie and a Ted's twinkie. Or if there weren't a blizzard happenin' here, I would drive to the store and grab all ingredients to make my own pizza. Anyone in DC want to mail me some?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Washington, DC: Food Review, Spanish and Italian

"Dad, I ate lunch with K at a tapas bar! It was great!"

"You ate at a topless bar?!"

Yes, it happened. My middle of America father misunderstood tapas for topless, which is an easy mistake to make when you're unfamiliar with different cuisines. I'd heard of tapas in my many years of Spanish language education but never had the opportunity to eat them until I was in DC. The day of the Restoring Honor rally with Glenn Beck was warm and long. My roomie KM and I were famished after standing for 3 hours or so in the warm sun, so we walked off the mall into downtown DC/Penn Quarter area. We stated we would eat at the first restaurant we found that wasn't too busy. We stumbled upon Jaleo...the tapas bar owned by chef Jose Andres. They/It was delicious! I ordered three things that were absolutely amazing! I had canteloupe wrapped in serrano ham, spicy chorizo wrapped in fried potatoes, and dates wrapped in bacon and fried. The dates were so incredibly delicious I couldn't stop eating them and was terribly disappointed when they were gone. It was the perfect treat, sweet and salty....yum! I did take a picture of the chorizo because they stacked it so nicely! See...I love how presentation is just as important as the food itself.

I returned to Jaleo a few weeks before I left with my roomie J. We hit up the lunch special with a sandwich and salad. While my sandwich was not quite what I imagined, my salad was phenomenal. It was green apples, fennel, manchego cheese, walnuts and an olive oil/sherry dressing! All of those flavors together were so amazing! I would recommend Jaleo to anyone going to DC. It's a nice place to go alone or with someone else and then you can eat way more by sharing items ordered!

Italian is my absolute favorite food! I traveled to Italy a year ago and ate some of the most memorable meals there. In DC, due to the amount of Thai food I was consuming, I surprisingly ate very few Italian dinners. But those that I did eat were delicious. The first weekend I was in DC, two of my friends that I met on my trip to Italy were also in town. We made it a point to get together for dinner one evening and of course what better reunion that eating Italian. We ate at Cafe Italia. With four meals ordered, we had mixed reviews but the portions were large, the atmosphere was lovely and the wine was delicious. The owner was quite generous and gave our table free amaretto shots!

A few weeks before I left I finally got together with two other friends from my Italy trip that go to school at George Mason. We decided what better than Italian again, though their second choice was to take me to Jaleo...see its amazing! We ended up at Dino's in Cleveland Park. We all went for their 3-course meal for $39 special. I enjoy potato croquettes as my antipasti, canneloni verde with kale and spinach, and pistachio crumb cake. I also had a delicious spicy red wine. Restaurants like that do meals the way they should be done, bringing out amazing flavors and allowing for people to enjoy their conversations over the delicious food.

This post has me wanting some bacon wrapped dates and a glass of wine. You should definitely visit these restaurants while you're in DC! If you are staying in the Crystal City area, there are quite a few little Italian restaurants as well as another Jaleo you should check out!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Washington, DC: Food Review, Thai

I love food. I love trying new things in restaurants and cooking new things at home. So in DC, I tried to eat out as much as I could afford and eat as many different things as I could. I started out enjoying things from all over: Thai, Spanish, French...but I discovered favorites and returned again and again.

First off, Thai food is fabulous. My friend TY and I would eat Thai food almost once a week. Our favorite was Thai Old Town in Old Town Alexandria. To find it, go to the King Street stop on the Metro and walk about 12 blocks toward the waterfront. It's on the south side of King Street across from the city hall. Reasons it was our favorite: huge portions, low prices and great servers. I swear we were never thirsty in that place, they were very on top of refills. Our favorite was the Pad Thai, but I also loved the Pad See Ew.

Another great Thai restuarant that isn't quite as easy to get to but was hands down the BEST meal I ate in DC...I was dreaming about it for the next week is Thai Square in Arlington. I really wish I could remember the name of my dish, but I can't. All I know is that it was delicious and pretty much anything you order there is fabulous. I do remember we ordered the fried squid and sun dried beef which were so good, I almost cried.

Mai Thai was also amazing. Though it is a chain(there is one located in DC proper), it was so yummy! We frequented the Mai Thai in Old Town because of the amazing location. It's right next to the Waterfront! We would often go to dinner there and then walk around on the pier. For a girl from landlocked Kansas, I loved being next to the water! One of the amazing dishes from there was their Cashew Chicken. I know that's more of a Chinese dish, but they did it perfectly. Also, try an apple martini and think of me if you do!

source: Local Kicks

I think that I will make this post just about Thai food otherwise it will be sooooo long. I'll post about my other favs in following posts!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, and make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just breathe

Wow the past 5 days have been insane and not at all what I expected. Last week started out rough because of reasons I'll get to later or hopefully I won't have to. But I was feeling pretty low and bummed and trying to figure out my path. Then on Friday, I was getting ready to head back to Lawrence and my family found out my grandpa had passed away. This put my life on hold. My grandpa was 86 years old and had lived a full life and was ready to go but I still was not expecting his passing to come so soon. It makes me realize that we never know what's going to happen so we need to make sure we always tell those we love how we feel. Always. Needless to say I have been on quite the emotional rollercoaster over the past week and a half, especially the past 4 days with not many highs. However, I have done a ton of thinking and have sooo many ideas for things to write about so hopefully I'll be posting lots soon. Not that anybody reads this yet, but I feel I need to explain my lack of postings, not that there were that many to begin with. I think I just needed to write something. haha.

So I'll leave you all with a picture of my sweet grandfather and I. It was taken last April at our Easter celebration. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Do you ever think you get to the point where you don't know what you want to do so you just say something and start pursuing it? After a while it becomes who you are and all you know and you feel like you can't do anything but what you said, even though that's not where your heart is really at? What if your true dream seemed so outside of the realm of possibility that you were afraid to tell the world? So you began living and believing something that seemed acceptable and good...but deep down you always had doubts. You believed you could something much bigger and more exciting. Then one day those doubts had the chance to come to the surface and no one believes you. No one believes that you can do anything different because you led such a convincing role for so long. And when you finally had the chance to talk about your other dreams, no one will listen. The fear can either overtake you at this point and you can stick with your accepted plans or you can say, "screw you world" and go after what you'd really like to do.

I am finally realizing I can be anything and do anything, I just need to make up my mind. With my college graduation looming five months away, that needs to happen quickly.

So this is where I'm at. I've been living a good life, doing good things to get me to a place I've said I'd like to be; but really I feel I can do more, that I have this dream bigger than anyone knows, but I need someone to support me. I need you to support me.

Words of Wisdom: Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. ~Buddha

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. ~Douglas Adams

Monday, January 10, 2011

I LOVE Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking is the one thing I love to do in any mood. If I'm sad, I bake and it cheers me up. If I'm happy, I bake and dance around the kitchen. I like to bake things to give away as gifts and like having baked goods as my go to item for gatherings with friends or family. I just love to bake!

So yesterday, as a snow storm was brewing and it was cold outside and I was feeling a little down in the dumps, I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. Not just any chocolate chip cookie but the softest chocolate chip cookie ever. I got this recipe from a friend in grade school. Her mother made these for birthday parties or if we just went up to her house to hang out and they were the best!

The secret ingredient...that makes them so tasty and possibly so soft (though I'm not really a science kind of gal, so I don't know the science behind achieving a soft cookie) is a package of vanilla pudding!

I tried to do a step by step photographs of the baking process but I have a problem with prolonging the baking process to clean off my hands and take another photo, so photos are few and far between.

The ingredients:

you can see here we have the main ingredients flanked by my mom's giant containers of flour and sugar. Eggs are missing from this photo...they kept rolling away.

I then mixed and mixed and mixed...the dough is really stiff.

The recipe calls for an entire 12 oz bag of chocolate chips...let me say now...half is plenty. You can see there's an overload of chocolate chips in the photo. I was pouring away and then i realize there are way too many chocolate chips in relation to batter, so i had to go through with a spoon and pick some out. However, if you would prefer more chocolate chips go for the whole thing. :)

The baking process...peeking in on the little fellas.

And the part I dislike of baking...having to wash the dishes. Though I must admit I'm thankful to have a dishwasher again after being without one in DC.

Softest chocolate chip cookies ever:
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda

mix together in a bowl and set aside.

cream 1 cup of softened butter
1/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar, packed
4 serving package of instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs

gradually add flour mixture. Batter will be stiff...i told you so
Then add 12 oz bag of chocolate chips...but really add 1/2 to 3/4 of the'll thank me later.

Add 1 cup of chopped nuts if you're digging it.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Washington DC: An Overview

Since I did a horrible job of keeping up with posting while I was in DC and I now have lots of free time on my hands I thought I would do a few review posts of Washington, DC. My favorite things to do and see and places to eat will be covered.

The view looking at the Capitol from the Old Post Office.

First off the best decision I made to have a worthwhile experience was choosing to live on Capital Hill. I lived near Eastern Market, which was about a 20 minute walk to the Rayburn building. It's a very quaint neighborhood. Cute little row houses side by side. Most of the people that lived in that area were young couples who worked on the Hill and some families. We did spot a couple of different members of Congress on the weekends wandering around the Eastern Market farmers' and flea market. This farmers' market was a great place to look around and shop on the weekends. My Sunday routine usually consisted of going to church at St. Peter's then grabbing a pretzel and lemonade from a vendor in Eastern Market. I would then meander through the market and usually ended up buying some fruit to take with me for lunch during the week. The market building inside reminded me of the Central Market in Florence.

Though I was able to buy some food items at either the Roland's grocery store on Pennsylvania Avenue or at Eastern Market, I would try and go the supermarket once ever two weeks. It was about 10 blocks away so finding the time to get over there and back while hauling groceries on the Metro was something I tried to limit.

Eastern Market in the's much more enjoyable in the warmth.

Thinking about hauling groceries from my place to the store makes me think about my first weekend in DC. I did more walking in one day than was entirely necessary, mainly because I couldn't ever figure out the bus system. I remember starting my day off by wanting to go down to the Mall by bus. I walked up to where the bus was supposed to be only to find it wouldn't be there for 15 minutes. I'm not a very patient person so I didn't really want to wait in one place for that long so I took off walking to the west. I walked all the way to the Newseum which was about 16 blocks from where I was at. Whew!

After spending most of my afternoon in there I hauled it back to church which was only about 10 blocks from the Newseum and then walked home after church. That was only day one.

The next day my roommate and I decided to explore the Eastern Market/Barracks Row area and then grocery shop. We ended up walking about 24 blocks that afternoon, including 10 blocks walking with loaded bags of groceries in the late August heat. Needless to say that was a good introduction to how DC works...walk, walk, walk.

So while this post took a bit of a detour with my weekend walking story, two tips I have to give is if you're interning: live on the Hill and be prepared to walk. If you're in DC visiting, while the Metro gets you close to all the great tourist spots, be prepared to walk or dish out some money for a taxi because they still are quite spread out.