See this Film!

As the semester is winding down, I've become more of a procrastinator, making time for more and more non-school related things lately. Tuesday night I went to see Visual Acoustics at the Landmark, and all I can say is if you have any interest in photography, Californian architecture, or old men that are total characters, you have to see this film. So inspiring and a great reflection of Schulman's work.


A Day at the Zoo

Well, it was a school-related trip, but last Saturday Ben, Erik, Kay and I made our way to the Zoo. It happened to be a beautiful fall day and we wandered around for a while, so it almost felt like we were there for pleasure. Either way, it was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Highlights of the zoo included Ben showing us the Pandas, and his favorite friend "Rosie" (who happens to be a huge octopus). I think my favorite were the jellyfish, although in the great apes building, parents were snickering, filming, and/or shielding their children's eyes as two chimpanzees "got their groove on" for several minutes - too funny. Grossest part had to be an arachnid habitat, that was not enclosed at all (with Ben telling us the spider's often get loose!). We are planning a group outing to see A Christmas Carol after Thanksgiving, so I'm glad I'm at least getting to do some stuff in D.C. (finally!).

Erik, Kay and I, studious as always...


The leaves have changed...

Somehow it's almost November, and although I keep thinking fall has just begun, the last few days I've realized it's almost over as the trees are starting to lose their leaves entirely now. I don't think I'm yet ready for winter here (so thankfully I'll be home for a few weeks at Christmas), especially since I can't seem to kick getting sick over and over again this semester - I seriously think my body doesn't like change of seasons.

My studio class was cancelled today, so I went over to the Jefferson Memorial (which pathetically, I never had seen more than passing by in a paddle boat while at Georgetown). I have to write a paper about it for my history class for next week, so I took my time taking in what's left of the leaves this afternoon - which was pretty nice since it wasn't very crowded.


Solar Decathlon

I, along with a small group of architecture students braved the rain and cold last Saturday to hit the Mall to see the Solar Decathlon. The competition consists of twenty teams building solar powered houses that are on display on the Mall for about two weeks. There are different categories of judging, including architectural design as well as comfort level (a temperature scale, which turned out to be pretty important since it was so cold). I had heard about the competition before, but had never been. And, despite it being freezing outside, had a really good time - well, at least seeing the houses...

Winner - team Germany - their entire facade was covered in solar-paneled "shingles". The inside was neat too, with a bed that pulled out/tucked away into the stairs.
Team California came in third. I really liked this house, and could definitely see it fitting in to a street in Venice.


Framing the Masters

I had my second studio project due last Friday, and I actually got around to photographing it as well, so I thought I'd post a bit about what I've been up to the last few weeks (now Eric, I realize you would have shot this much better, so I might need some tips for future photo shoots).

My first project for studio this semester was to do A TON of research on a contemporary building and diagram the hell out of it. I was assigned Giuseppe Terragni's Casa del Fascio built in 1936 in Como, Italy, and despite all of the politics surrounding a building designed to house the Fascist Party, I actually really enjoyed researching the building.

Front facade of Casa del Fascio

Terragni employed traditional building principles - a grid system, a courtyard parti, but what I realized was for him it was really all about playing a game of facades. Each of his 4 building facades were different, and yet elements of each facade rotated around the building. In addition, he left it ambiguous as to the interpretation of solid vs. frame - in each facade there could be dual readings of the varying elements.

From there we went into Assignment 2, titled "Framing the Masters." Given a site of a certain size and with predetermined masses, heights, and walls, we were to take elements of our Master and interpret them for an art gallery space. Continuing with the idea of playing with facades, I treated both of the existing walls as windows into the architecture, playing with layers of frame and inside/outside perceptions as the visitor entered and engaged my site. All in all, it went pretty well with the judges' panel last Friday (although, I also drew the last presentation spot, so being the 13th person to go in front of them, who knows, maybe they were just tired and counting down for the weekend ;)). Here's a peak at my project:

Entry from the southeast corner of the site, down a set of stairs (I apparently just can't escape making stairs since 504 this summer).

Northeast view of gallery.

A little bit closer - I've become the "laser girl" for the M.Arch III class, as this project definitely honed my skills on the laser cutting machine, and I have since taught most of my classmates how to use it.


Ms. Marines goes to Washington

Yay, the weekend is finally here and Karen's in town visiting! We had a really nice dinner last night at Cashion's Eat Place in Adam's Morgan, followed by a night of dancing with a bunch of Europeans we met.

The weather changed from hot and humid literally overnight to cold and a bit rainy, but we're going to brave it today to shop around Georgetown, then plan to head over to Alexandria for their Ghost and Graveyard tour later on tonight.

A bit sweaty, but having a great time



Well, no surprise I've been delinquent again. Sadly, I still haven't seen much of DC since pretty much all I do is school work, but after spending another weekend really sick and in bed, I rallied last night to go see U2 at the FedEx field in Maryland (home to the Redskins).

I am kind of becoming a concert regular, as this is my third time seeing them, but as per usual, they didn't fail to impress - such a great lineup, featuring great range of their entire catalogue (and poor Eddie, Lindsay and Anne who had to listened to me "sing" every line...). I have to add, I have a new-found appreciation for The Edge after seeing the documentary It Might Get Loud this past summer with him, Jimmy Page and Jack White - if I ever find some free time, I'd really like to take up the guitar. Muse opened the concert as well, so it was all in all an awesome night. If only I didn't have that ridiculous history exam today...

Some eighty-thousand people, Anne and I trying to keep warm before they took the stage.

360 degree stage, which although I wasn't able to capture it, had an amazing screen installation that actually extended all the way down to just hovering over the band.


One More Thing...

I got a bike! It's a vintage Schwinn Traveler and fixed up really well. I just need to pick up a lock this week, and I'll be using it as my main transportation to school (well, until the snow starts falling).

I also think I might have to get this adorable basket from Design House Stockholm:


Architect Inspiration

My Friday studio ended early as we were invited to join another studio's lecture by local architect Mark McInturff. While I have never really considered myself to be interested in residential design, within minutes I was captivated by Mark's presentation and his thoughts on approaching architecture. He also has done several projects in Georgetown, so of course I was sitting there trying to locate the homes from my memory of the outlying residences.

Firstly, I was reminded of my summer 504 studio, in which we each had to design a form with one of four concepts: rotation, shift, extension and intersection. Similarly, Mark has his own set of conceptual words such as separating, sizing, stacking and sleaving - but what he does is use these words to integrate the old (house) with the new (additions). It was pretty incredible to see his process as often times he's taking a historic row house that's almost 100 years old, and fusing it with something extremely contemporary. His design approach definitely underlines the importance of reuse, and I think my heart fluttered when he said his favorite thing to do was design something tiny (now if only he could impart some of that wisdom on the residents of Orange County - a few of my parents' neighbors come to mind...).

I came home completely inspired and had to peruse his website so I could take another look at some of his projects - which I have now "borrowed" to show one of my favorites...

The house is literally steps from Georgetown's campus, above the Exxon station on M St. and the "Exorcist Stairs."

The remodel led to an amazing view of the Key Bridge stretching over the Potomac.

You would never know this house looked like this from the front - it's a row house that blends in with all the others on the block (okay, I also think it has a more contemporary paint palette, but still...).

Mark McInturff is a visiting professor at Catholic, and apparently he, in conjunction with another professor at school, teaches an advanced studio in the fall that has a week-long "field trip" to another country to study historical architecture and how it has been incorporated into the modernized city. Definitely a course I'll be hoping to take while here.


A little bit homesick

I've been back in DC for a week now, and I have to admit, I'm not getting settled too quickly or too easily. Part of it is the mountain of homework I already have piled up that makes necessary errands, like going grocery shopping, or even exercising (wait, let me reduce that even further - getting some daily fresh air) seem like indulgences. But, I'm determined to have a pseudo-normal life this semester unlike the summer - I just need to make some friends.

I spent Saturday morning trying to track down a specific binder type for school (who knew I was this finicky?), which lead me to Silver Spring, MD. I had to park several blocks away from the Office Depot because they had a whole street shut down. Well, of course I had to go see what it was due to, and low and behold, I came across a weekend Farmer's Market. I wandered aimlessly around it for a while, missing the Wednesday Santa Monica one Jodi and I used to go to on our lunch breaks at Design360, and later the weekend "sceney" version Sara and I would hit up on Main Street. Although, it also made me realize that there are some things here that overlap with my interests/old routines at home - I just need to seek them out and make time to do them. Hopefully then DC will start to feel more like home. In the meantime, I have my Dad's Facebook status to update me on what's going on in California - like the Street Fair in the Orange Circle this weekend - ahh, an oldie but a goodie.

Anyways, I'm probably being overly sensitive right now as I caught a nice hacking cough from someone at school and have spent most of the weekend trying to deny being sick so I can get my work done. With that, I'm definitely glad it happened to be a three-day weekend. Alright, back to the books for now...


Craigslist Stalking

I've been teasing my Dad that he has an addiction - he scours Craigslist and Ebay daily on the hunt for mid-century modern furniture. "Where are you going to put it?" and "What is this for?" have become standard answers from my mom and I as he excitedly flips through his finds on his laptop. He has been greatly disappointed with a few last minute losses on Ebay (to which now apparently won't happen again as he has downloaded that last-second swoop in and get the item software - is that really legal?), but also some great pieces. Like the Womb Chair and Ottoman that for now have a nice home in my bedroom...

Anyways, my Dad's addiction has finally started rubbing off on me, and yesterday I spent the morning with my cup of coffee, and after finishing my daily blog reading (I know this luxury will not last with school starting next week), I tackled DC's Craigslist. And, low and behold, I found the EXACT headboard I wanted to buy (seen here from my bedroom teaser post), barely used, being sold for less than half the price of a new one! I emailed straight away, and the girl is even holding it for me until I get back to DC this weekend. I am so excited. Looks like my bedroom might even get "finished" in the next few weeks (I still have a desk chair to hunt down and a nightstand to paint). Thanks Craigslist.

And now I'm headed out for my last girls' day in California. I'm meeting Sara and Karen at the beach, and later having dinner with Jodi - what a great day!


Bike Love

Alright, I've been neglectful (again), but for now, here's my latest obsession... I've been trying to decide what bike to get for DC. I am convinced while the weather is still nice, I'm going to bike as much as possible to school since I live about 5 minutes from campus (I just hope unlike my Georgetown years, I'll have better luck riding in DC this time around - I think my roommates ran over my bike at least twice in the driveway my senior year, as well as that same fall I actually got hit by a taxi driver while riding it to volleyball practice early one morning - luckily I had super-human reflexes and jumped off the bike as the front tire went under the cab...).

I think I've at least reached a DC/California compromise - I'm planning to get a cruiser with a few gears. So, my bike can still be cute and reflect my LA beach lifestyle (the all-important part) and yet practical - for the "hills" of DC I think I need gears for. Now, my only problem is that I've fallen in love with the Schwinn "Jenny" and I think I'm too tall for it. The boys' version is royal blue, which is okay, but I'm smitten with the yellow. I think I'm going to actually do some real research this week and get down to the bottom of it. But for now, my heart belongs to Jenny.


Beach Week

Could there be a better way to spend my first week back in California than at my parents' new beach house down in Encinitas (well, pending new beach house as they've been in escrow forever and actually just rented it for the week)?

Granted, the sun didn't come out until Thursday, but it was nice to just relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep (my parents one day seriously thought I might have mono). The town of Encinitas is really cute, and the house on 3rd street is only two blocks from the beach and two from the main drag of town, so definitely a great location. We enjoyed learning about our new neighborhood - or I should more aptly say eating through the new neighborhood. Also with the cloudy weather came us spending a lot of time talking about the upcoming renovation, which should be pretty fun (well, at least the design part of it, I'm sure my parents will not love the renovation aspect).

Highlights of the week also included a trip down to the Salk Institute with Erik, a new friend of mine from CUA, and seeing Allison Casciari's (Meyer's) newest addition to her family - I cannot believe how big all of her girls are getting already - Bianca at 7 is already at Allison's shoulder. And, of course, after growing up hearing the story of my parents going to VG's Donuts in the middle of the night through their years at UCSD, it was appropriate we finally had some yesterday - and they definitely lived up to all of the hype.

Salk Institute - the "money shot", which I probably could have pulled any one of the million from Google.

After watching "My Architect" about the life of Louis Kahn, Erik and I felt we had to go to Salk as we both grew up living so close to this famous building (in La Jolla).

This is a fun one - my parents' new "neighbors" down in Encinitas. I think the boats have been parked/used as housing since the 20's? Apparently there was a CNN special about them.


I survived!

I feel so neglectful, but I finally finished my summer class today, and have officially made it through boot camp. I don't think I have ever done anything in my life so intense - needing to not only put in ridiculous hours (way more than I ever did as an undergrad or working), but also to be constantly critically thinking, designing and problem solving - I cannot wait to just relax over the next few weeks - and catch up on a lot of sleep. Oh, and did I mention this will take place in California? That's right, as we speak, I've just finished packing my bags for three weeks at home with nothing to do but enjoy the California weather, spend time with friends and family, and catch up on having a life - so excited!

I'll be back to writing this blog more frequently, and will probably post a few things about school, but for now here are a few pictures...

Pinning up on the "wailing wall" - my project is the closest to the camera - I was the last presentation of the day, and later asked to have my project displayed for the fall semester (one of 4 students), pretty rewarding after so much work.
The aftermath of studio after finishing our final projects...


I'm so tired

Here's the thing about my class - it's 6 credits in four weeks, which is crazy when you think about it. Even the science classes I took in college that met almost daily spread out over a semester were only 5 credits. What I'm realizing is that the duration of the class (which we're lacking) is made up for by the length of time daily I need to be putting in, hence my permanent state of exhaustion.

We were given a new project this week, this time working with a given concept - mine is "extension". Using a similar volume from last week, we needed to articulate our concept using a series of planes, posts, and cubes. (I realize this doesn't mean much - I'll try to post some pictures soon.) Anyways, the turn-around time, like I alluded to, is insane. I had to have a plan, section, and model done between yesterday and today. And, after having a mini-review today, a new set of criteria was thrown at us: now take your design and discuss it experientially - as though a person was entering, traveling and arriving at a destination within your space. That forced me to make a lot of changes to my original model, and I'll be staying up in the wee hours tomorrow night to get it finished for judges' panel (explaining my "early" night tonight...).

Last Friday we had our first judges' panel to critique our work, but it was other graduate students who are further along in the program, so it wasn't terribly intimidating. This week, however, is our "midterm review", and we have to present our project to a panel of 4 critics, all of whom are professors at CUA. Should be fun...

So for now I guess my blog's title is a little misleading - I don't know how many "adventures in DC" I'll be having - well at least not outside of the Crough building. Every other grad student I've talked to says this phase passes, though, so I think I just need to get through the next two and a half weeks. Hopefully then I can start experiencing my new home town!


First Week of "Boot Camp"

This is going to be very brief - I'm not sure how I'm going to keep up this blog the next few weeks, but I sure will try! I'm just getting home around 4 am after finishing a model of a cube that is formed by manipulating positive and negative crate systems (don't ask...) along with drafting a plan and sections of my cube. It was challenging to say the least - and the second time this week I've had to stay up past 3 - which scarily I think I'm going to need to get used to. Thank goodness Eddie's house is so close to school and I have a car. Several of my classmates are commuting over a half hour to school and can only use the metro (which means in addition to their commute, to catch the last train home they have to leave studio before midnight and then catch a train back in starting around 5 if they need more time to work on stuff).

But my project is done, we are watching a film tomorrow morning, and my cool Friday night plans are going to be to get into bed around 8 (if I can stay up that late!) - one week down, 3 more to go...


Bedroom Teaser

Since my dad sent out a family email today saying I was going to show pictures of my room at Eddie's house, I slightly felt obligated to show something - but my room is currently a disaster of boxes everywhere, paint cans piled up, and clothes waiting to be hung in my closet (on tomorrow's "to do" list is installing a closet organizer). So instead, I'm going to tease everyone with a little concept board I whipped up, which looks much prettier than my actual room right now...

1. This is the accent wall I've been working on all day. I really liked this wallpaper, but it's something like $200 for a 24" x 36" sheet, and I obviously don't have the budget for that. So, I decided it would be easy to just hand paint. Little did I know... but after literally painting all day today, I'm at the home stretch.

2. My bed is finally arriving tomorrow! I am so excited to not have to sleep on the floor any longer. As of now, I don't have a headboard, but I'm thinking of something like this one.

3. I'm also internet-shopping for a small area rug. Not a necessary item, but I have a feeling I'm still going to want to cover up some of the carpet I'm working with (see item 7).

4. Now these bulls-eye mirrors I'm excited about - they were my souvenir from Savannah from an awesome store called One Fish, Two Fish. Now I just have to find a way to hang them since my walls are virtually concrete blocks.

5. Gotta love IKEA for the necessary-but-don't-want-to-spend-a-lot-of-money items. This dresser came with 40 steps of instructions and took me 3 hours to put together, but it's doing its job.

6. One of my inspiration images for the room - I knew I could make the red (well maroon) and turquoise look good together.

7. My lovely carpet. I'm actually proud that instead of ignoring it, I'm working with it - definitely was challenging for me. Eddie's whole house is carpeted in this lovely shade - he tells me he didn't want to be boring...

8. Still left to buy is a nightstand, although, I'm actually thinking I'll put my desk beside my bed and use it for both. And this lovely lamp is hopefully on-route soon from my mom.

So there you have it. I am planning to get a lot done tomorrow as school starts Monday morning, bright and early at 9am, and I'm assuming I'm going to have no desire to be taking on added projects.


One Student Ticket, Please

Yesterday I went by CUA to pick up an official letter stating I was a full-time student for the DMV here in DC to get a parking permit (they apparently are really strict - I'm going first thing tomorrow morning with a package of documentation, my fingers crossed, and the promise of my first born...).

Anyways, while on campus, I decided to give myself a little tour - since I really had only toured the architecture building - and try to get some new student stuff out of the way. Well, first on my list was to get a student I.D. card, because to be honest, I cannot wait to start getting student discounts again. It's the little things, right?

So here it is, I am a bona fide grad student:


Getting Settled

Well, true to myself, I'm already making Home Depot my second home. When I decided to move in with Eddie, I knew I'd want to paint my room to make it more "me" - and I'm having to work with maroon-colored carpeting. First step was to paint the room white, which is why first thing yesterday morning, I was getting my gallon of white paint as well as a few other samples for the accent wall I want to do. Let's just say, I've never painted any room that has soaked up so much paint. I ran out of my first gallon after painting just a wall and a half... So yesterday turned into marathon painting day, and I only got three walls painted white. Not too climactic.

I did take a mini-break to go get a mattress though (since I'm now on the floor on a blow-up mattress that does not like to stay inflated). Unlike my last scar-inducing mattress buying experience, I think I'm going to really like this one. But with the 4th of July sales, they won't have it in stock to deliver until Sunday, so it's a week of the floor for me. I guess the plus side is that if I exhaust myself so much, like I did yesterday, I'll be able to sleep well regardless of comfort ;).

So, I'm just now getting ready to start day 2 of painting. I'm going back to Home Depot after deciding on my accent color (I swear they're going to know me by the end of this week - Elliot has already asked me when I'm doing the bathroom). Hopefully this won't take me all day though, as I want to start getting some furniture - like a dresser so I can stop living out of my duffle bag. If all goes well, I hope to post some pictures soon of my bedroom before and after!


Happy 4th of July

I finally made it to DC Friday night - just in time to celebrate the 4th of July. Eddie, his girlfriend Lindsay, and I ran a bunch of pre-barbeque errands Friday night and most of Saturday morning in preparation for his big BBQ. We probably had 20-30 people come, and I had a great time meeting a lot of Eddie and Elliot's (Eddie's other roommate) friends.

Today was a lazy day after a long day of celebrating - we all sat around this morning consumed by the Wimbledon finals. I finally motivated enough to run a few errands, but I didn't get much done for my room - so another night on the blow-up mattress. Hopefully, beginning tomorrow I'll start getting things purchased/organized so I can feel more settled - right now the entire contents of my car are in a heap on my bedroom floor, and it's driving me crazy.

Some of the late night barbeque crew.


Highlights of Savannah

I've been roaming Savannah the last two days, and know I won't be able to go into detail about everything I did - there was too much good stuff, and I'm already thinking a lot of my posts have been a bit on the long side (and I thank my nice friends/family who keep reading them anyways).  

Yesterday I spent much of the day perusing the downtown "design district."  I saw a lot of amazing home stores that had really unique items - such as chandeliers made from oyster shells at The Paris Market and Brocante.  I loved going into ShopSCAD, which is The Savannah College of Art and Design's shop filled with items from paintings to jewelry from alumni, professors and current students.  Another Savannah must-see was The Savannah Bee Company.  I have never tried or even heard of so many types of honey.  You can sit at their bar and taste test at least 10 different types, or have one of their many drink concoctions mixed with their different flavored honeys - yum!  My favorite store, though, definitely ended up being One Fish Two Fish, and I bought something there for my new bedroom in DC, but I'm going to wait to post pictures of my purchase until I'm settled in my new home...

A funny thing I discovered about Savannah is that it was the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of The Girl Scouts.  She has two homes in Savannah that have been turned into museums, or should I say Mecca, for the Girl Scouts?  I couldn't keep track of how many different troups I saw (and was left wondering if I still have my awesome brown/orange flowered vest from my brownie years).  

Today I toured several art galleries, as well as went to The Jepson Center for the Arts, where I was captivated by an exhibit of Japanese photographers' work called Counter Photography.  Of course I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but each artist was using photography to either create something that didn't exist, or manipulate something that did, challenging the convention that a photograph is documentation of reality - it was really interesting.   

And, I have to mention my lunch today.  I went to the famous (well in Savannah, at least) Mrs. Wilkes.  Here's the lowdown:  it's only open from 11am to 2pm, and people start lining up at 10:30.  It is a cash only place, and you get seated and served family style.  You don't order anything - the dishes are already on the table when you're seated.  I think I waited almost an hour to get in today, but sat down to a table with 23 dishes on it - all southern food:  fried chicken, collard greens, mac 'n cheese, black-eyed peas...  And, at the end of the meal, everyone has to bus their plates into the kitchen.  It was amazing, and well worth the wait.  I also lucked out and was seated with a bunch of moms and their young children, who didn't eat very much (which meant I was free to try anything and everything, as I've heard some people complain the "popular" dishes sometimes don't make it around the table).  Definitely a unique experience!

Honey display at The Savannah Bee Company

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Loved this pink house (okay, maybe not to actually live in, but still...)

Sunset on my last night here and view to the water from my hotel


First Impressions

I arrived in Savannah late afternoon -  just in time to check into my hotel, drop off my (growing) luggage, draw myself a map to find my way back to said hotel, and wander around this little big town with absolutely no agenda for the evening.  It was nice knowing since I added an entire extra day to my stay here, I didn't have to run around trying to do/see everything the first night.

But let me tell you, right away, I think I could spend some considerable time here.  I picked a hotel kind of in between the North and South Historic areas - not right on the water, but not as far south as Forsyth Park, and I think it's going to be the perfect home base.  I wandered to the river first, and enjoyed sitting on a park bench listening to an old man playing Somewhere over the Rainbow on his saxophone - not a bad way to start off my visit.  

After relaxing by the water for a while, I decided to head in the opposite direction toward Forsyth Park.  On my way, I stumbled upon Paula Deen's restaurant and store, which I appreciated since I'm a total Food Network junkie.  The park was incredible - I love how all of the oak trees covered with Spanish moss canopy over the park (and also over all of the main streets).  And, since it's not a billion degrees here like it was in Texas, I think I'm going to get up early tomorrow and run in the park.

Walking home I wandered through several residential blocks.  I have to say, it kind of reminds me of Georgetown - the cobblestone streets, the architecture - I even climbed up some stairs by the water that were as steep as ThExorcist steps.

So, while today wasn't jamb-packed with an agenda, I really enjoyed my time - looking forward to really getting into this city over the next two days.


Thunder and Lightning and Rain - Oh My!

Today was a REALLY long day.  I had it in my head to get as far as possible, so I could have a short(er) drive tomorrow to Savannah.  Well, I left Houston before 9 am, and only arrived in Tallahassee a little before 9 pm, stopping only to refuel and get lunch.  I think I caught the same lightning/thunderstorm in each of the 5 states I drove through today while I headed East: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  I had to drive like a little old lady because I have never seen such a bad downpour, let alone driven in one.  Lighting was literally hitting all around me as I drove on the 10 East - totally scary and intimidating for a So Cal native. 

I am going to go look up Savannah's weather now, but I sure hope the storm doesn't follow me there - it really doesn't make for good sight-seeing!

So long Houston

Just going to bed after finally deciding to stay an extra day in Savannah and booking a hotel - I am excited for my next stop, but I don't get there until Tuesday, because it's about a 15 hour drive from Houston, blech!

But, I had a great time here with Robin.  Today was the perfect way to end our time together - we had a total girly day consisting of major shopping (I helped her pick out almost an entirely new work wardrobe, and we're convinced I have a back-up career as a stylist if this architecture stuff doesn't work out), dinner in with a nice bottle of wine, and a chic flick.  So nice!

My plan for tomorrow is to drive as far as I can, so who knows where I'll end up...


Museum and a Movie

This morning Dave, Robin and I went to The Houston Museum of Natural Science to see the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit. I didn't really know what we were going to see, but once there realizing the magnitude of the excavation, I was pretty amazed - and I normally hate "history." I don't think I could do the exhibit justice, so I'm going to pull a bit from the museum's website:

"They stood watch over China's first emperor for thousands of years - and astonished the world when they were uncovered in 1974. The Terra Cotta Warriors have been called the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century - and even, the Eighth Wonder of the World...

Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor includes more than 100 artifacts from the tomb complex of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi - the man who first unified the warring states that are known today as China. Created to protect him on the journey to the afterlife, these dramatic soldiers embody both the death of an emperor - and the birth of a nation."

The Emperor ruled around 200 BC, and there is thought to be about 7,000 figures yet to be exhumed from the site. It was pretty incredible to see weapons, tools and figures from over 2,000 years ago so well preserved and intact.

Of course we had to get a little silly...

My afternoon consisted of wondering around The Houston Heights, a stretch around W. 19th Street that is full of antique stores - they were terrible. In fact, I would say to someone visiting Houston there is no need to even wander this part of the city...

But getting to the better part of the rest of the day, and having nothing to do with the city at all, we all went to see Away We G0 tonight. Hilarious at times, tear-jerking at others, the movie explored different romantic relationships in the context of the family dynamic. It was really good, and I'm going to use this post to advertise - SEE THIS MOVIE!


Habitat Houston

Wow it's been a long day.  I successfully got up with Robin at 5:30 to do her Crossfit workout.  It was tough but good, and I have to say, there's something to be said for being done exercising for the day at 7 am.  Reminded me of those good old Georgetown Volleyball days...

I was on my own this morning as Robin had to work, so I once again gathered up my list of places to check out and headed to the first one.  Kuhl-Linscomb has to be the most amazing home furnishing store I have ever seen, and that's probably an understatement.  The store actually is comprised of 5 buildings, ranging from note cards and shampoo, to Minotti and Zanotta furniture, to luxurious bed linens, kitchen ware, and even kitchen cabinetry.  I would definitely say anyone going to Houston who likes home design would appreciate this store.  

I have realized with this cross-country trip that I can be anyone I want - since no one knows me on my stops, I don't have to fall into my same habits from home - like being painfully shy with strangers.  Nope, the "Houston Lauren" was all talk today, as I struck up a conversation with Andre, who works at Kuhl-Linscomb (mom and dad, I was actually asking about an AMAZING outdoor dining table for you - I'll send pics).  We ended up talking for over an hour about design, traveling, and what I have to see in Houston - which was great getting tips from a local.  I think I like this new version of myself and may try it out for a bit - it seems like most people are very interested to learn all about you when you start off by telling them you're driving cross-country by yourself for three weeks...

Anyways, I literally spent all morning there, and just made two other quick stops before meeting Robin for a late lunch.  The next stop was The Guild Shop, which is a consignment store I had read about.  Mostly they had a lot of junk, but I fell in love with a painting that was about 5' square, and stood debating how I was going to get it shipped to D.C. until I looked at the price tag - $1200.  Is that crazy or what?!  At a consignment store?  I guess my photo of it will have to do until I can con my dad into painting it for me. (a few years ago I loved this painting in Carmel at a gallery that my dad said he'd consider getting for me for my birthday until he realized it cost $50,000, so he took a picture of it and about 6 months later gave me his version.  A great way to get affordable art if you have someone to make it for you!)

My next stop was seemingly unsuccessful, as the store I had hoped to visit had gone out of business since my list's creation.  However, the Archway Gallery next door had a great collection of art, that was pretty affordable (especially after seeing how ridiculous the consignment piece was).  I enjoyed browsing the gallery and really liked a diptych by Bede Van Dyke.  

After my morning stint, I met Robin for lunch at Ruggles, before heading over to Rice Village to peruse the shops (and get into some air conditioning).  We had a great time shopping and just hanging out - needed to make up for way too much lost time.  We also ate out tonight at The Raven Grill.  My dinner was delicious - Dave and I split an appetizer of brie baked in Filo (how could we go wrong there?), followed by an entree of dijon glazed trout served with wilted spinach and pecan salad and lentils.  I am sure I'm going to have gained 10 pounds by the time my trip is over, but I am greatly enjoying tasting all of the local fare.

Last night's dinner that Robin made - I did help chop a lot of those ingredients.

My favorite thing at Kuhl-Linscomb - pillows by Catstudio - appropriate for my new home town (and shout out to the Hoyas).

"My" painting on the right - love the bright green, love the girl, don't love the price. :-(

Also had to sneak in a photo of the paintings I liked from the Archway Gallery.


Slight Detour

This post is going to be short and sweet - I left my camera connector-thingy (the official term, I'm sure) in my car, and Robin has convinced me to get up at 5:30 to do her Crossfit workout with her and her boyfriend.  It's already past 11, and my eyes haven't seen a 5 am in the last several years - should be interesting...

But, my remaining time with Michelle was great.  We actually ended up spending half of yesterday in pj's getting all excited talking design-shop, then hit up a few of her go-to places before making our way to San Antonio.  On the way we stopped in Gruene, which is home to the oldest dance hall in Texas.  Tons of famous people have played there, and the walls were covered with framed autographs, as well as a band setting up to play later that night.  We arrived in San Antonio just in time to have dinner on the Riverfront and this morning we took a water taxi to see the Alamo before I headed off to Houston.  An unexpected but nice little detour on my trip east.  I really had a wonderful time with my cousin, whom I had not spent much time with as an "adult."  We realized we're basically the same person with such overlapping interests - maybe like the sister I never had?  I would love to go back and visit her again in Austin.

So, three quick hours later, I made it to Houston.  Robin left work a little early, and we enjoyed running a few errands and picking up groceries to make dinner - grilled chicken with avocado and corn salsa with a jicama and mango salad - yum!  I can't believe I haven't seen her since the year we graduated from Georgetown, and I'm really looking forward to spending the weekend with her and making up for much lost time.

Alright, I need to get myself to sleep.  Apparently this class is a killer, so I'm hoping I'm functioning well enough to type tomorrow ;).


Keep Austin Weird

So, before I begin with yesterday's events, I have to note what I really like about Austin - it is so proud of its individuality.  Signs are posted everywhere to eat and shop local, and the residents are very proud to have so many unique things in Austin.  The title of my post is actually a t-shirt I saw yesterday, and it reflects the mindset of the people here - they definitely do not want to be taken over by large chains of any kind - which I think is just great (although, everyone does seem to love the enormous Whole Foods downtown - Michelle and I stopped by last night and it was pretty crowded, and apparently a great singles-scene after work).

Yesterday I had an amazing but exhausting day with my cousin.  We started with a nature walk down to see Lake Austin – which is just the Colorado River damned up to create a lake – they do this throughout Austin apparently.  It was nice, though, and there were already boats and water-skiers out cooling off.  Because, you know, it only hit a high of 108 degrees yesterday, ouch!

Michelle told me I needed to be rightfully introduced to Austin with lunch at Rudy’s – I was a bit skeptical, as it is basically inside a gas station on the side of the road (wow, thanks for the tour Michelle, taking me to a gas station…), but the BBQ was really good, and the guys working there were very hospitable to me as a first-timer.  Not only did I get the Rudy’s cheer for a welcome, they gave me sample pieces of everything on the menu.  Yum!

We spent much of the day driving around hitting all of Michelle’s to-do list which was great – we climbed Mt. Bonnell's 99 stairs to see a breathtaking panorama view of Austin, we went to Barton Springs and watched a zillion kids swimming/diving, we toured UT, stopped at Hula Hut and The Oasis which are popular restaurants/bars to take in the views and cool off.  It was funny because Michelle kept telling me how crowded all of these places usually are, and besides Barton Springs, no one was at any of them – the weather being such a deterrent.  It finally dropped below 100 around 10 or so…

That, sprinkled in with home tours of the local neighborhoods, with Michelle and I oohing and ahhing at the different houses we liked, was a blast.  Today’s my last day here, and I think we’re going to hit up an IMAX film on Texas (Michelle says she’s seen it at least a dozen times and that it’s a must-see), maybe go for a dip in the springs, and then we talked about moseying our way down to San Antonio to do The Riverwalk later tonight.  

By coincidence, we ran into Christie, Michelle's roommate, at Rudy's on her lunch break so she joined us - food was really good with a very low-key atmosphere.

Sweating in front of Barton Springs - we definitely should have brought our swimsuits!

Cooling off with some shaved ice from a street vendor.

View from atop Mt. Bonnell overlooking the Colorado River, or whatever Lake they call it there...

Michelle and I snacked on home-make pita chips and guacamole - her secret is to put some honey in the guac - it was yummy - and even made me think I really should start learning how to cook.