Sunday, December 20, 2009

In your face, snow!

I woke up this morning to a sunny sky and melting snow. And while I didn't have anywhere to go, I figured I should make an effort to start digging my car out. I had parked close to the entrance of the building and hoped that the plow wouldn't have created too big a snow dam.

Boy, was I naive.

Oh, shit.

All I could do when I saw my car was just laugh and laugh. People walking by joined in, because I guess it's not every day you see some chick with a shovel laughing her fool head off. But I would like to add that nobody offered to help me. In fact, people only stopped to talk because they wanted to borrow my shovel. To which I say, no way. They should have thought ahead and bought their own. I mean, look. If you live in a high-rise with a parking lot that gets plowed, a shovel is a necessary item. I bought mine three years ago and have kept it in my trunk since then. And it's not like I was being mean, I was actually using my shovel. If someone asked me when I had finished I would have let them borrow it. Maybe.

I figured I would shovel a while, take a break, and maybe get back to it in the afternoon. But it actually went faster than I expected, and when you get in the groove, you just want to get it over with. My strategy was to clear the back first so it was easier to carry the shovels of snow to the large pile made by the plow (I couldn't just pitch it to the side since there were cars on either side of me). Then I cleared a little path to one of the back doors, squeezed inside, and started the car with the heat going full blast. I figured the car could do me a favor and maybe melt some of the snow around it (and on top) while I was shoveling.

All in all the plan worked, and one hour and a half of shoveling gave me a completely snow-free car. And you can bet I am not moving that sucker until I absolutely need to, because as soon as I leave someone else is going to take that spot. And I'll be damned if I give it up that easy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Maggie in the Desert

Today DC is in the grips of a record-breaking snow-storm. At last count I think we were up to 18 inches (and still going strong), so what better way to spend my snow day than blogging about being in the desert?

The irony is not lost on me.

I spent the first week of December in Phoenix, Arizona. It was my first time in Arizona and only my second time in the desert (the first being my trip to Las Vegas this past May). Before leaving I had all these grandiose plans for sight-seeing, hiking, and visiting some local museums. Unfortunately, the sheer number of hearings the judges I traveled with had to conduct at the regional office kept us busy until after 5 almost every night. Which meant all we really had time to do was go out to dinner and then come back to the hotel and go back to bed.

In fact, the only real cool things I got to do were 1) visit a Sees candy store one evening for a bit of Christmas shopping and 2) go to the Desert Botanical Garden on Thursday afternoon when the judges were kind and let me and the other attorney skip out early.

But if you're going to do one thing in the Phoenix area, this is the one you want to shoot for. You basically get the whole desert experience in one go (minus the horrible venomous creatures). And coming from the East Coast, where the flora is basically as different as you can get, it was fascinating to see how many different types of cacti there are. Literally thousands.

Check out some pics:

I especially like this last picture. It makes the cacti look like a nefarious wriggling mass trying to bring down the tree. Evil cacti!

I flew back to DC on Friday afternoon since I had to get ready for my kitchen-warming party happening the next day. When I left Phoenix it was 70 degrees, and within 12 hours of coming back it was snowing. Weirdness.

Speaking of snow, I'll probably be blogging several times in the next few days since I am stuck at home due to the snow. Who knows how long it will take to dig out my car from this blizzard? It could be awhile before I can go anywhere, but hopefully these blog posts won't end up chronicling my gradual descent into cabin fever-induced madness. But still, that should make for good reading, right??

Red rum.....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Curbside Cupcakes!

Usually things in life don't turn out the way you want or expect. But sometimes, just sometimes, the universe aligns in such a way as to grant you the one thing you want right when you want it. Perhaps it was some kind of birthday, Christmas, or Hanukkah miracle, but for one brief shining moment this afternoon me and a group of friends from work were in the exact right place and the exact right time. For what, you ask?

Curbside Cupcakes!

First, some background. This past Saturday was the lovely Caroline's birthday. Since she was down in North Carolina celebrating with her family, a group of us at work took her to lunch today at Cafe Asia. While waiting for our food to arrive, she mentioned a new phenomenon in DC. That is, Curbside Cupcakes. Basically there is a pink van that drives around downtown selling delicious cupcakes. Think of it is the Good Humor truck for yuppies.

We all agreed that this was a swell idea and told Caroline that is she ever noticed a Twitter update signaling that the van was in our vicinity to let us know immediately.

45 minutes later we headed back to the office and arrived at the intersection across from our building. When, lo, what did eagle-eyes Stephanie spot? A pink van parked across the street. "Is that...the Curbside Cupcakes van?" she asked hesitatingly. The rest of us scoped it out and as one cried, "it is!" and immediately took off across the intersection.

Now when I say took off, I literally mean it. There was much running and arm waving as we made for the opposite corner. When we reached the opposite side we slowed and walked towards the van, but then! It began pulling away from the curb! Stephanie again took off, waving her arms emphatically, and the rest of began running and screaming "no, stop!"

Luckily, the driver saw us (since we would have been kind of hard to miss) and pulled back. And sold us wonderful cupcakes. These suckers weren't cheap ($3 a pop), but you know what? TOTALLY WORTH IT. What are the chances that the very cupcake van we had just been discussing would have been parked right across from our building at that very moment?? We were meant to have those cupcakes, and you know what? They were damn good.

So happy birthday, Caroline! Clearly the fates are with you today. Anybody want to go get some lottery tickets after work?

Curbside Cupcakes success! And they all lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

He's gotta be strong, and he's gotta be fast, and he's gotta be fresh from the fight.

Yesterday, my Great Uncle Bill was presented with the French Legion of Honor (and made a "chevalier" or knight) by the French Ambassador to the United States. The ceremony took place at the D-Day memorial in Bedford County, Virginia, and while I couldn't be there, my Mom, Uncle and cousins were there representing the family.

Uncle Bill lives down in Roanoke, and we would visit him and my Great Aunt Nita in the summers and occasionally at Christmas. As a kid I had only the most basic knowledge of Bill's life...I mean, when you're 10 chances are you're not too interested in what your Great Uncle did with his life before you met him. But boy, did I miss out on a lot of good stories. Because as time has gone by I've learned more about Bill's time in the military during WWII and wowza. People tend to throw around the world hero these days, but he's the real deal.

Bill Overstreet flew P-51s out of England as part of the 357th Fighter Group (the Yoxford Boys), and participated in more than 100 missions. He flew over France and Germany, and was shot down three times and taken prisoner by the Germans at one point (although he escaped). Right there, you can't deny he's pretty badass.

But the best Uncle Bill story takes place over the skies of Paris, when he was involved in a dogfight with a German Messerschmidt. The German tried to shake him by flying under the Eiffel Tower. And it totally didn't work, because Bill followed him right through the arches and blew his butt out of the sky.

Here's an article about the ceremony (and recounting some of Bill's adventures), and the local news also ran a great piece about it that I tried several time to embed, but can't get to work. So check it out here!

And then take a minute to think about the risks and scarifies of all our nation's veterans and members of the armed services. Then go hug a veteran. But preferably someone you know, otherwise that could get kind of awkward.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Before I get into blogging about my recent work trip to Phoenix (exhausting) and my new kitchen-warming party this past Saturday (also exhausting but in a super fun way), I thought I would share some appropriately themed winter pictures.

Behold this year's Christmas tree:

Don't even bother trying to hide behind the tree, gnome. I can totally see you.

Oh, and did I mention? We got snow, bitches! SNOW!

This picture looks like a beer commercial. I expect some Clydesdales to gallop through or something.

This seems a bit early for our first snowfall in DC, no? Too bad I spent the day stressing about what it would mean for my party that night, but I still found the time to admire it a bit. Snow = pretty! Unfortunately, it also means people drive like assholes. But that's life....everything has a price.

Coming up soon...Maggie's thoughts on cacti (and Phoenix).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Cookies

I've spent a lot of time these past few weeks pondering what cookies to make for the holidays this year. Now some of you (i.e. boys) are probably wondering why the heck I would put so much time into this, but CLEARLY you have never been in charge of your family's holiday baking before.

Choosing the wrong selection of cookies can spell disaster; you must have the perfect mix of chocolate, fruit, sugar, crunch, chewy, oaty, peanut butter, etc. etc. or everything gets thrown off. You need to please everyone at the gathering, and aesthetics are of course a consideration as well. The cookies should differ visually to such an extent that when arranged on a plate you have a pleasing and interesting array of cookie goodness.

Another consideration is preparation time and storage. I'm a busy girl, so I need to plan out my cookie-making schedule accordingly, which means starting early. I've already got several dozen stashed in the freezer and from now until Christmas, each weekend will probably include some cookie making. Speaking of freezing, I also need to make cookies that freeze well, since they will need to keep for a month or more before getting gobbled.

You had no idea it was so complicated, did you?

But I have finally decided on this year's cookies, and am ready to make the big reveal here on the blog. Why should you care? Well, duh. If you see me sometime in the next month, chances are you'll get a chance to enjoy the fruit of my labors by eating the chosen cookies. So strap in, and get ready for....


Classics: peanut blossoms, sugar cookies (iced and decorated cut-outs, of course), and chewy molasses cookies.

Fruit themed: thumbprint cookies (with raspberry and strawberry jelly filling), lemon cornmeal cookies

Exotic: black-bottomed coconut bars, oatmeal and pecan chocolate chip, and black forest cookies (my personal fav...chocolate cookies with chocolate chunks and cherries)

So turn on the Christmas carols, break out the menorah, or do whatever else you need to get into the holiday spirit, and prepare for some yummy cookie time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What not to do at Karaoke (or the three embarrassing things Maggie did on Friday night)

Ah, karaoke. I admit my love for it does not stem from enjoying hearing other people sing, but it's because for a few short minutes I can live out my dream of being a rock star. With an added bonus that I don't have to worry about remembering the words.

This past Friday I hit my usual karaoke spot in Alexandria, Rock It Grill in Old Town. I go every few months or so, whenever I can scrounge up a group of peeps. Usually things proceed without incident....we hang out, drink, dance, sing some songs, and have a good time. But for some reason, the Fates were conspiring against me on Friday.

My song went well; I went with Heart's Alone, recently spotlighted on Glee and requested by my friend Carly whose birthday we were celebrating a bit early. No problems there, everyone seemed to really enjoy it and I got some nice compliments from the DJ.

But then, humiliation #1. When I tried to join some friends on stage for the next song, I was tapped on the shoulder by the DJ and told to get off the stage. Apparently, you are not permitted to sing so soon after a previous song. So I had to tuck my tail between my legs and slink off.

Then, humiliation #2. During the first dance break, I was doing my thing and in typical Maggie fashion, toppled over. It wouldn't have been so bad except I whacked my face on the speaker right next to me and have had a sore cheek for 3 days. There's a barely noticeable bruise, but I count myself lucky I didn't end up with a full shiner. Also, one of the bouncers saw my glorious descent and ran over to ask if I was ok. Move along, nothing to see here.

And finally, humiliation #3....I walked up on stage by the DJ to ask him if he had a certain song, and was politely but firmly escorted off right away by some more bouncers. Apparently, you have to go around the stage and come at the DJ from behind if you need to ask something. I guess I looked sketchy and they feared I might attack him or something.

So, just to recap, I was kicked off stage twice and managed to bust my face. But, you know what? It was totally worth it. I didn't even mind that I had to majorly Febreeze my coat and dress due to the bar smoke. Again, WORTH IT.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blacksburg Bound

This past weekend, I braved the trucks on route I-81 and headed to southern Virginia to commune with my fellow geeks, Andi and Jeff.

Andi and Jeff are a married couple who live in Blacksburg, Virginia. Andi and I met back in college when we both studied abroad in Scotland. We bonded over our love for bridge, fantasy novels, Graham Norton, and general awesomeness. She and Jeff got married during grad school and Jeff was added to the geek family. Although we haven't been able to get him on-board with our bridge club, but just give me time...

Anyhoodle, they have only lived in their current place a few months, and since I promised I would come down and visit, I hit the road Friday after work. I always forget how long a drive it is from NoVa to Blacksburg (it took over 5 hours with traffic!), but I actually really like going down there. The mountains, the college town vibe, the simple country folk...although to be fair, Blacksburg is more suburb than hickville, but still.

I spent a lot of fun summers in southwestern Virginia; my great uncle had a cabin outside Warm Springs and Goshen, and we would spend a week down there every year. So heading back to that area of the state always makes me giddy. Like, little girl on vacation giddy.

And Andi and Jeff were happy to oblige me; there were farmer's markets to visit, pies to bake, southern Virginia chain restaurants to visit (Macado's!), bookstores to shop at, and episodes of Battlestar Galactica to watch. While that last one might seem out of place, we had to let our geek flag fly a little, right?

After having such a great time, I think I need to spend some more time down in that area. There's only one problem: I don't look good in orange. So you'll never make a Hokie out of me!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Worst Week Ever

Ever have one of those periods in your life when everything seems to go wrong? That was me this week. Car troubles, work troubles, boy troubles, customer service troubles, you name it, I had it. I did manage to escape with my health (SO FAR) so maybe I shouldn't complain too loudly. But when you almost break down sobbing in a Home Depot, it's a good sign things are not going well.

And you know what? What is the point of a blog if not to bitch about the things that seem to constantly go wrong in your life? So here, I am, bitching about it.


Ok, so now I feel better. Other things that made me feel slightly better: downloading Volume 1 of the Glee soundtrack and getting an "outstanding" rating on a case for my new judge. But those were the few bright spots.

And I'm not going to give you a rundown of all the crap that went down this week, because 1) it's not all that interesting, 2) it would take way too long to type and I am inherently lazy, and 3) I really don't want to relive it. However, this probably means when I come back to my blog and read it in three years, I will have no idea what the hell I was so pissed about. But I'm ok with that.

So, here's to a better week ahead! I'm heading down to Blacksburg to visit Andi Bear and Jeff (and perhaps do some leaf peeping) this afternoon and can't wait to leave this entire week behind me. Sayonara!

Currently listening to: Keep Holding On by the Glee cast

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Backsplash in da house!

You might remember the great backsplash debate of 2009. Basically, I was having trouble deciding what kind of backsplash I wanted for the new kitchen. I went back and forth between types of tiles, but finally decided on a glass mosaic that I hoped would help tie in the now kind of random green floor tile.

Well, yesterday was the big day and the tiles went up! My handyman came over along with a helper in the morning and spent the day cutting and mounting sheet after sheet of mosaics. Meanwhile I spent the day holed up in my bedroom reading Angel comics. What? I was management!

Anyhoodle, I think the tiles look fabulous and I hope you all agree. Final step in the kitchen makeover: picking a paint color and slapping it on the walls!

The grout goes in on Monday, and more pictures will follow!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trail of Terror

It was a dark and stormy night.

Seriously. It really was.

So, it was a dark and stormy night last Friday when Carly, Tito, and I decided to brave the Trail of Terror at Signal Park in Manassas. Now, Manassas is scary on its own, but when you factor in darkened woods and things that go bump in the night, you end up with a pretty scary experience.

My friend Rachel was working behind the scenes at this Trail of Terror thing, and Carly was scheduled to actually appear as a victim of a cannibal in the production on Saturday night, so we decided to give it a go. It's your standard local haunted trail; we piled onto bales of hay stacked on wagons being pulled by tractors (yes, tractors) and were driven through an area of Signal Park where various volunteers in various costumes did their best to scare the pants off us.

While not the OMG SCARIEST EVER, the overall effect was pretty creepy. But I'm not a hard sell, if you have things jumping out at me from the dark, chances are you'll get a shriek or two out of me. And no, that's not a euphemism.

There were giant spiders, grave diggers, zombies (creepy), cloaked mysterious figures (creepier), and a group of cannibals chopping apart a body while screaming, "I want more!" (creepiest). They grabbed a poor tween off our wagon and proceeded to ravage her as she wailed loudly. The girl was obviously in on it, but still. That shit was whack. I was a little pissed when the cannibal grabbed my purse and almost made off with it (I don't care if you are a cannibal or not, you try to steal my purse and I will eff you up) but I decided to let it go. Spirit of the season and all!

The Manassas Trail of Terror is fast becoming a Halloween tradition, as this was my second go-round. And I gotta say, it's one of those fun, kinda scary, kinda cheesy little things that make Halloween so fun. Maybe next year I can find the time for the Trail of Terror and a corn maze and make it a double feature. But til then, only four more days until Halloween and guilt-free candy gorging!

Thank god there were no scary clowns. Because Homey don't play that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Baking is POWER

I had a shitty week. I made some really dumb mistakes at work I looked like a fool. It was also so rainy and dreary and freaking cold that it it did not improve my mood. And finally, it was the first week where my new judge was in the office and the two times I went to her for questions, she was kind of hostile and basically made me feel like a fool for asking.

So, yeah, shitty week.

When I got home Tuesday, I was suddenly struck with an overwhelming urge to bake. At first I thought it was maybe just the weather; the cooling down and dreary atmosphere naturally have me in the mind of the holidays which naturally leads to thoughts of baked goods.

But then more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that cooking and baking was more of a way to assert some the control I felt like I had been missing. With things going poorly at work, I needed some way to be in charge, and working in the kitchen was the solution!

You see, when I'm cooking and baking, I put everything together, and as long as I follow the recipe things work out alright. It's just me and the measuring cups. That's not to say that things can't go horribly wrong, but for the most part it's like painting by numbers, you know? I make it, and it comes out good.

So by my ingredients combined, we have Captain Cookies! Or Captain Muffins! Or Captain Lemon Herb Chicken! And it's Maggie in charge once more. Until next week when hopefully I get my act together somewhere outside the kitchen.

Anybody for some garlic herb-stuffed pork loin?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Say it, don't spray it.

I love my Gilad workout DVD. He's this great German guy who runs a gym out in Hawaii and apparently used to have a morning workout television show. Anyway, he's nice and says encouraging things like, "let me see those thighs flying in the air!" and "this is how we get you lean, and mean, but in a good way!"

But, here's my question. Is it normal to drool all over yourself while doing the aerobics portion of the workout? Because it happened to me and I'm not so sure that it is.

Maybe I should try panting with my mouth shut some time. That might help to decrease the waterworks.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Well, that was easy.

I was all ready to post on the blog about how I couldn't decide what kind of backsplash to get for my kitchen. I've been going back and forth on what I wanted: do I go with the glass mosaic that's shiny and pretty, or the greenish marble tiles (square or rectangle?), or the combination glass and natural stone mosaic?

I've had them all laid out in the kitchen, looking at them from all angles and waffling. Which is kind of a new experience for me; if I'm anything it's decisive. So being stuck in this backsplash limbo for the past weeks has been exasperating.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the blog post. I held up one of the options, the glass mosaic sparkly one, and it was just so clear. THAT was the one I wanted. It wasn't like I had a big epiphany; there was no giant light bulb hanging above my head, no flash of divine inspiration. Just a sense of, "of course this is the one I want. What was taking me so long?"

It also happens to be the cheapest tile and the one that will be easiest for my handyman to install. So bonus points to me for picking the pretties and most sensible option. I'm hoping to get it installed by the end of the month.

Then all I need to do is pick a paint color! And I have no idea what I want. Crap.

Anyway, here are some pics:

See? Shiny! So try to imagine it all over the wall...that's kind of the part I have trouble with.

Friday, October 02, 2009

U2 and Muse

How do you describe seeing one of the best rock bands of all time perform live in concert?

Amazing, awesome, fantastic, awe-inducing, etc. etc. etc.

Nah, those don't cover it.

This past Tuesday at Fedex Field, Dorilyn, Jennifer, Carly and I saw U2 perform as part of their 360 tour. I've been to a lot of concerts in my time, but I've never really seen a rock legend. And yes, you can tell the difference.

These guys have been doing this a long time. But they're performance doesn't feel stale, it just feels effortless. When Bono is doing his thing, you understand why he's a rock star. He just has IT. And the Edge can wail away on the guitar all night, but it still sounds clear and new.

U2 is definitely a political band, so Bono at times would go off on his little rants. I'm a hardcore liberal so I agree with most of the things he said. But I was there to hear him sing, so even I found myself rolling my eyes at times. But then I would feel guilty about it because Bono was bringing up some excellent points. But then I would just want him to sing. It was this whole vicious circle kind of thing. I suppose it's all part of the show though, and part of U2's charm.

In case you are curious, here's the setlist. A great mix of stuff from their current album (which is really good) and the classic songs. The only thing that surprised me was that Pride wasn't played...being in DC I was pretty surprised.

Breathe, Magnificent, Get On Your Boots, Mysterious Ways, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Stand By Me (snippet), Elevation, Your Blue Room, Beautiful Day / Blackbird (snippet), New Year's Day, Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of, The Unforgettable Fire, Mofo (snippet) / , City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, Let's Dance (snippet) / , I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (snippet), Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK, Walk On
encores: One / Amazing Grace (snippet), Where The Streets Have No Name, Ultra Violet (Light My Way), With Or Without You, Moment of Surrender
comment: No Line On The Horizon misses a 360° Tour show for the first time.

A special shout-out to Muse, one of my new favorite bands, they rocked the shit out of that place. They're sound was much harder in person than on their albums, but Carly and I were loving it. And hurray for sparkly guitars!

I wasn't that enamoured with FedEx Field; it's about a mile hike to and from the metro station and it took us almost 2 hours to get home what with the waiting for trains and riding from one end of the line to the other. So, it would take a big group to get my ass out there to Maryland. But U2 was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

This was U2's set. Most people call it "The Claw." The Washington Post called it "The Colossal Robotic Crustacean That's About to Stomp Off Into Prince George's County and Destroy Everything in Its Path." That about sums it up. It's apparently the largest set in rock history.

The Claw all lit up.

Bono in close-up.

Check out the number of people there. It was the largest concert I've ever been to, but it was so cool to be surrounded by so many people who were into the music. It was really like this gigantic shared experience. Especially when everyone would sing along to songs.

I feel like I haven't done an adequate job describing the concert. Sometimes my lack of a true gift for writing is very frustrating. It's like the words are there, I just can't....quite....grasp ahold of them. Anyway, I guess the concert was one of those "you had to be there" moments. It's definitely something I will be remembering for a looong time and will probably tell my children about; "Mom went to see U2, you guys!" And if I have done a good job with their musical education they will understand how I had my own little place in rock history.

Best numbers:

1. Where the Streets Have No Name

2. Mysterious Ways (my favorite U2 song of all time!)

3. Vertigo

4. Beautiful Day

5. I Know I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (which was remixed in this awesome techno meets disco number complete with bongos!)

Monday, September 28, 2009


They said it couldn't be done.

Well, ok, nobody actually said that. In fact, everyone said it could be done and I specifically could do it. But I have to admit that I doubted my abilities.

For several months now, ever since Chris came up with the idea of walking up to the crown of the Statute of Liberty, I've been doubting and worrying. See, I don't do well with stairs or inclines. Get me on a flat surface and I can go forever, but my prowess with stairs is seriously lacking. That's why god invented elevators, right?

As stair-day drew closer, I had mixed feelings. I really wanted to go up to the crown because it seems like it would be an amazing experience, but I also didn't want to attempt it and then fail because that would make me feel like a loser. So during my trip to New York this past weekend, I kept coming up with excuses. Oh, if it's pouring rain it won't be worth the climb. My legs and feet are already too sore from walking around all of Manhattan. I don't want to get up that early in the morning.

But when it came down to it, I sucked it up and went for it. I imagined increasingly horrifying scenarios of pulling myself up the stairs on my hands and knees, sweating, and gasping for air, until I had to collapse and quit. Or slipping on the wet stairs (since it was pouring rain) and tumbling down flight after flight. But you know what? After psyching myself for so long the actual experience was...not that bad.

I mean, it wasn't easy. My legs burned, I was panting like a steam engine, but so was everyone else. We all had to stop and pause every 50 steps or so but there were plenty of platforms along the way. Just when I was feeling I could never make it and was about to throw in the towel (the words "guys, I can't do this" had just been said), Selvi and Chris pointed out that we were already almost half way up. And then I knew I could do it. Just like that. It felt like we had just started, but there we were almost there!

So we took our time and made it, easy peazy lemon squeezy. The stairs through the pedestal are like normal staircases, if slightly more narrow. But once you reach the actual statute, the stairs transform into a dizzying spiral that is extremely narrow and has only 6 feet of head clearance.

At this point you have no choice but to ascend slowly (or risk slipping or falling backward) and use your arms as much as your legs to pull yourself up. It sounds scary, but I've never been bothered by heights or small places, so it didn't have a real impact on me. I was fully concentrated on the climbing part of it.

And then, you're there. The platform at the top is only about 8 feet long and getting all 5 of us on there to look at the windows was a bit of a challenge. Although you couldn't see anything out of the windows due to rain and fog, but still, we had made it!

At the top!

There are 2 guards at the top who can point out sites of interest (when you can see them, that is), and they answered any questions we had. And then we started back down, being extremely careful since the stairs were REALLY wet and slippery. I actually walked down backwards since it seemed to provide a bit more stability.

When we reached the bottom of the pedestal and were back in the museum, Selvi and I went through with our audio tour which was really fascinating. We learned all about the actual construction of the statue, and its significance as a political, advertising, and patriotic symbol through the ages.

Me, sitting on a replica of Lady Liberty's feet.

The audio tour was also often quite moving, especially when discussing how the Statute of Liberty has stood as a symbol of a better life for those immigrating from Europe and its importance in the aftermath of 9/11. I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost cried once or twice (or thrice).

I wasn't sure if taking the time to ferry out to Liberty Island and tour the statute would be "worth it." But you know what? It so is. If you have the chance, go. When you're there, learn. And if you have been there before, remember.

A remembrance from a journal at Liberty Island left after 9/11:

The Statute of Liberty is a symbol of stability and strength. A chance to remember past struggles and triumphs. A place to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we can be in the future. Only by understanding our past can we build a better future.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fleming/Miller Wedding

It's really hard to set your wedding apart from other peoples'. I mean, you have the ceremony, cocktails, reception, dancing, done. Right?

Well, leave it to my law school pal, Caroline, to plan a wedding that is special, different, and so her, that it was just perfect. It was clear she had put thought and attention into every detail...except the weather which she just happened to luck out on. Because, seriously, last Saturday was one of the most gorgeous days of the entire year, and it was all for her.

The wedding took place at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, just across the border with Virginia. Despite it being in Maryland (y'all know how I feel about Maryland), the park was lovely, and the wedding took place in this kind of kitschy 1950s era area, complete with carousel, arcade, and bumper car pavilion. Of course many of these places were transformed especially for the wedding.

Site of the ceremony. To entertain the guests before the ceremony, the string quartet played some of Caroline's favorite Sweet Child of Mine. Caroline does love her Guns N Roses.

Chris and I wait for the ceremony to start.

All the William and Mary folks wait eagerly for things to get started!

The reception was held in the bumper car pavilion. Naturally.

Carousel! All of the guests got a ticket for a free ride.

Joe catches a glimpse of Caroline...

And Caroline sees all her friends and family. And walks down the aisle to Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. Performed by the string quartet.

A good shot of the gorgeous bridal gown.

Mr. Joe Miller and Mrs. Caroline Fleming!

After the ceremony, the guests took a spin on the carousel. Here's Nate, working the poll.

And me striking a pose.

Arista and Virginia were all lady-like and rode side-saddle. I, of course, just straddled the damn thing.

After the carousel ride, we all headed over to the bumper car pavilion for the cocktail hour. Joe and Caroline were greeting family and having their pictures taken. At this point, I pretty much set the camera down for the evening so I could enjoy myself. I proceeded to drink way too much wine (provided by the russian waiter I had shamelessly flirted with earlier) and catch up with some of friends I don't get to see that often. One of the things I love about weddings is the chance to get all your friends together for a big party.

The food set-up was delicious; it was a buffet of brunch-themed vegetarian foods which meant delicious quiche, firtata, pasta, etc. It was really good and really rich. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, each table had a platter of 8 cupcakes (raspberry, peanut butter, pumpkin chocolate chip, or coconut), one for each person.

There was dancing (duh!) and Monique, Lori, and I tore it up. We couldn't really convince any of the guys to dance (big surprise) but a good time was had by all. Some people left early around around 9:30, but we stayed until 10:45 until they kicked us out. Hey, it's not every day you have the dance floor to yourself so we decided to live it up.

It was a beautiful night, a beautiful couple, and a beautiful wedding. I think it might have been one of the funnest and most original weddings I had ever attended, and I am just hoping that everything goes as smoothly for Joe and Caroline on their honeymoon (in Dublin!) as it did on their wedding day!

Monday, September 21, 2009


When they called me last week, the contractors said they would be here "Monday morning."

When they called me this morning they said it would be between 11 and 12.

And now it's 1:15 and NOBODY IS HERE.

Maggie = not happy cats.

I have a schedule to keep people! I need to call my condo insurance guy, call Sony to have them help me fix something on my computer, go shopping for tile for a backsplash, and get a food processor. And I cannot do any of these things when I am sitting here trying to keep off the phone in case the workers arrive and need to be buzzed in!


UPDATE: Ok, the guy showed up almost immediately after I posted this, but still. My anger has faded somewhat with the joy of having my sink and working dishwasher back. I can do dishes! And cook! Now if I could only decide what kind of tile to get for the back splash...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Victory is Mine!

Fetch me the finest muffins in the land, for victory is mine! For the first time, I have successfully changed my tire. All by myself!

Now, chances are you are thinking two things. If you are a dude, you are thinking: Jesus, Maggie, how could you not know how to change a freaking tire? That is so pathetic. If you are a chick you are probably thinking: OMG, Maggie, that is awesome! I couldn't change a tire to save my life.

I consider myself a pretty independent person, but I've always had a blind spot when it came to cars. It's sad, because I drive around in one everyday, but I really have no idea how they work, how to fix them, or how to do more than check the oil and put air in the tires. I've had probably about five flat tires in my life, and everytime I've had to have them changed by a cop, AAA tow truck guy, or a kind stranger.

But all that has changed. My friend Patrick from LA was visiting and we were headed out to dinner when we walked to my car and saw the flat. Sigh. It was just sitting there all flat and mocking me.

Now Patrick has the worst car luck of anyone I know and has therefore developed extensive automotive repair knowledge. Unfortunately, he had a broken hand. So it was all up to me. But with Patrick's direction, I was able to set up the jack, take off the lug nuts, put on the spare, tighten the nuts again, lower the jack and voila! Changed tire!

I am now confident that I can change the tire on my own next time and will no longer be reduced to a helpless whimpering female just because my tire picks up a piece of metal from road construction. Like I said, victory is mind!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Diary of a Kitchen Remodel: Counter-tops

The counter-tops are in! My handyman, a 70-something neighbor of my mother whose daughter used to babysit me) cut the stock laminate counter-tops yesterday and installed them this morning.

By stock counter-tops I mean that I marched my ass into Home Depot and bought two six foot length laminate counter-tops off the rack. This was WAY cheaper than getting custom counters or using granite (which I don't like anyway) and since I basically blew my wad on the cabinets I needed a cheaper alternative for the counter-tops. Since my kitchen is so small, I didn't need anything fancy, and these just needed a few simple cuts to fit on top of the cabinets.

Enough babbling! Here's how they look!

My contractor is coming back on Monday to take care of the finishing touches and rehook up the sink and dishwasher. Then I'll have a fully functioning kitchen!

The last step will be repainting and installing the backsplash, due to happen at the end of the month. Hurray!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Diary of a Kitchen Remodel: Door and Crown Molding

....And then the next day I came home and the cabinets had doors, the crown molding and toe kicks were up, and I had what felt like an entirely new kitchen. A grown-up kitchen. A kitchen with lots of wood.

And I mean LOTS of wood.

That's what she said. Heh.

But seriously folks, the change was a little overwhelming. I just kind of stood there speechless (does manic giggling count as speechless?) because everything looked so different. It's one thing to see the plans on paper, but to actually walk in and see the new look. Shocking. But in a good way!

Although now I realize how drabby the wall color looks, and I think I'm going to have to add a backsplash, just for funsies. I'm going to chat about it with my handyman guy when he comes to this afternoon to install the new counter-top. After the counter-top goes in, the contractors come back, make sure everything looks good, and then reconnect the sink and dishwasher. And I'll finally have my kitchen back! But better than ever.

Pics of the cabinets with doors, molding, etc:

Align CenterI think the wine rack on the top makes it look kind of like a castle.

And my contractors clearly have a sense of humor since they left me a little gift in the dust on my coffee table: