Road Trip Adventures, Stop 1: Alexandria, Virginia

As I mentioned in last month’s post, the Hubs and I took a road trip to Boston for spring break. Now that we’re back and feeling oh-so-refreshed, I wanted to share some trip highlights with you.

I’ve broken our trip into separate posts by location. I’ve sprinkled in travel tips that came in handy for planning our road trip. {PS: I’d love for you to share your travel tips in the comment section at the bottom of this post!}

Today I’m sharing about the first leg of our road trip: our stop in Alexandria, Virginia [with a quick visit to the National Harbor].

On our drive to Boston, we planned a two-day stop in Washington, DC. We booked a room at the Hampon Inn and Suites in Alexandria. The hotel was great! Very friendly staff, clean rooms, comfy bedding – I’d stay there again.

The hotel also offered free parking and a free shuttle to Alexandria/Old Town or the metro. Being that we were going to have plenty of time in the car, we ditched it for two days and utilized the shuttle and the metro.

Friday

We left bright-and-early so we could arrive to DC in the early afternoon.

National Harbor

We had considered staying at the National Harbor (I stayed there when I spoke at Tableau’s conference a few years ago and loved it), but once we factored in paying for daily parking, Alexandria [less than 10 minutes away] won for the budget.

Since we arrived to DC a few hours before hotel check-in, we drove straight to the National Harbor to check that off our “to visit” list.

natl harbor 1

National Harbor

If you’re planning to visit DC, you should definitely plan a quick stroll through the National Harbor! It’s a gorgeous area to walk and there are often neat events going on (none for our dates though). It’s a very family-friendly area.

You can find all kinds of helpful information for planning your visit to the National Harbor here.

  • Where to Eat: Nando’s Peri Peri (flavorful Portugese cuisine. The National Harbor location has great outdoor seating).

Alexandria/Old Town

When we decided to stay in Alexandria, I quickly found a site with information for visitors (here!).

  • Tip: When planning a vacation or a stop on your roadtrip, google:
  1. things to do in [CITY, STATE]” – for bigger cities you can often find some great lists or blogs with ideas of cool places to visit, local events or other ideas for things to do you may not have thought of.
  2. visit [CITY, STATE]” – this will usually take you to a visitor’s site for the area. These are a great resource for tourists! I like to find hotel recommendations there [which I then follow-up with reading reviews from several sites like any trained researcher 😉 ]. I also like to browse the event calendars to see if there are any unique things going on during the time we’ll be there.

Friday we took the hotel shuttle to downtown Alexandria and explored. We walked along the waterfront and through Founders Park – it was gorgeous!

alexandria 2

We loved the walking paths and watching the dogs playing in the park. If we had a blanket, we definitely would have had a picnic here!

You can see downtown DC from the waterfront in Alexandria and if you look close enough you can see the Capitol!

alexandria 3 capital

If you’re visiting Alexandria, take some time to walk along the waterfront before the sun goes down – it’s lovely.

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The cobblestone roads reminded me of Charleston. {Note: don’t wear heals!}

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After we’d had fun wandering around, we started looking for a dinner spot. There are lots of yummy options {you can browse some here}, but I did little research on food in Alexandria so we stumbled upon a pizza place without a long line – Bugsy’s – and went for it. We opened the menu only to find out the restaurant was opened by a former Montreal Canadien‘s hockey player {the Hubs’ favorite hockey team as shown ironically by his attire for the evening!}

alexandria 6 dinner

I spotted a beautiful paper shop across the street as soon as we left the restaurant. Have you ever visited a Paper Source store?! This was my first time. It’s definitely paper heaven.

alexandria 7 paper source

Yes, I admit it: I wish these were fabric. I would’ve bought them all! 😉

We picked up some quirky birthday and mother’s day cards before heading back.

Saturday

We got up bright and early [again] to maximize our day – we had a lot planned!

  • Tip: If your hotel offers free breakfast, take advantage of that! One less meal and coffee to purchase = more souvenir money! If you’re brave, snag an apple/banana/other non-refrigerated snacks to throw in your backpack for the day ahead.

Alexandria’s visitor site has a list of free things to do which was super helpful! I’m much more inclined to do something if it’s free 😉 [again: free events = more souvenir money].

On the list: the Old Town Farmers Market. We took the hotel shuttle to Alexandria early Saturday morning after breakfast. The shuttle dropped us right in front of the market which was full of beautiful flowers, locally grown produce, plants and handmade goodies. It was beautiful!

alexandria 8 market

Flowers at the Old Town Farmers Market

alexandria 9 market

More flowers at the Old Town Farmers Market {with festive bunnies for Easter!}

While walking to the King Street metro station from the market, we passed loads of beautiful shops. The area reminds me so much of Charleston with all the colorful buildings.

alexandria 12

If we hadn’t have set out so early, I would’ve loved to explore the Pendleton store!

alexandria 10 pendleton

I’ve never been to a Pendleton store, but from the window it looked fabulous!

alexandria 11 pendleton

That dress! And that sweater! #AllTheHeartEyes

After getting an all-day pass for the metro (it was about $15, but with destinations on our list that were spread out this proved to be worth it), we set off for downtown DC!

Stay tuned: I’ll share the details of our DC exploration this Friday. 

Follow along on our Road Trip with these posts: 

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Spring Break, Part 2

As promised in Part 1, here’s a recap of the last half of my Spring Break!

This half of the week I have fewer finished products to share because I’ve been working tediously on one project: the Finlayson Sweater.

A few months ago, I got adventurous and thought I would try to make the Hubs a sweater. This all came about because I had been seeing all of my favorite sewing bloggers posting their finished Finlayson Sweaters on Instagram. My favorite (not to be bias..) was this one from Imagine Gnats. I hate to admit it, but I totally (I think it was technically an accident, but likely my subconscious shamelessly copying) ordered the exact same fabric: this Sandalwood cotton modal french terry knit fabric from Girl Charlee – it’s so soft and pretty light weight (even in the winter my husband is always hot so I wanted something slightly lighter).

I’m embarrassed to admit that this was originally supposed to be a birthday present for the Hubs at the beginning of February (oops). Like usual when I’m challenging myself, I became crippled with the intimidation of making something outside of my comfort zone. I’ve never made any sort of garment for the Hubs and I knew that collar (as awesome as it looks!) was going to be a serious challenge for me.

I pieced together the paper pattern and transferred the XL size to freezer paper to preserve the pattern (in case I needed to change the size for future versions…ha! Thinking I’ll be adventurous to make another in the future is cute. And by cute I mean crazy.). Why freezer paper you say? Well, because my friend AddieK is a genius – read her reasoning here and you’ll be hooked on the freezer paper method too.

Anyhow, I’m happy to report I’m making progress. At this time I’ve got the shoulders attached and reinforced and the collar attached (it’s not perfect, but I’m trying to be okay with that). Wish me luck on the rest!

Thursday was probably my most productive day. I met with the crafty ladies of Columbia’s Etsy Market Team in the morning. Emily of Butterfly Vintage, Shanika of Life is Pichey, Addie of AddieK and I (Jordan of this blog you’re reading right now) met to start planning Columbia’s 2015 Etsy Craft Party! Last year, Emily and Shanika did all the heavy lifting for our party (I provided social media support…aka: the light lifting). Since Emily is moving to Michigan before the party (insert huge crocodile tears & shameless sobbing), I wanted us to get started early so I could be as much help as possible this year.

If you’re local to Columbia, SC, mark your calendars for this year’s Etsy Craft Party: we’re going to host it on the evening of Friday, June 5th! More details are to come as soon as we have them ironed out, but for now you can drool over the fun we had last year – read my recap here.

That evening, our trio (me, Emily and Shanika) met up again to conquer First Thursday on Main. During my usual vanilla-flavored trim with my bestie Taylor at Metropolis Salon, she mentioned that they would be offering free braids and make-up for the event! After I let her practice her fishtail braiding skills on me, I was already craving more braids!

fishtail

This fishtail survived several hours of sewing and a BodyPump class…pretty impressive.

Good thing we showed up early because not only were they offering free braids & make-up, but Occo was also there offering free massages, eyebrow waxing AND manicures!

As always, Taylor did not disappoint with my braid!

hair

I chose eyes as the focus area of my free make-up lesson so Nicole showed me how to apply some neutral shades to my very neglected eyelids. I even bought some eye shadow primer that I intend to use (here’s to hoping I do!).

make up

After my face and hair glam session, Jessie from Occo gave me a sneak peek at Essie’s spring collection (gorgeous!). I chose the light minty blue (aka: Blossom Dandy).

nails

I’m really hoping to get a gift card to Occo for my birthday/Christmas/thanks-for-being-Jordan day {hint, hint family!} so that I can revisit my new friend Jessie who did a killer job on my nails.

You should go see her too…

jessie

Here’s her info – because what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t give you all the deets?! Go book yourself a mani-pedi!

PS: If you love reading about the latest in beauty (or are clueless like myself and need some assistance in that department), you’ll love Jessie’s blog: The Cluttered Counter.

After we got all glammed up, we had to visit our team members: Chrissy of Hippy Do-Da Creations was having a trunk show at Nest while Mary Catherine of Uniquely MC was hosting an open studio at Tapp’s Arts Center.

While on the way to Nest, Emily & Shanika let me in on a secret I was the only person not to already know: the super sweet twins working at Nest have opened their own donut business – Double Trouble Donuts – and they were selling their very popular donuts that evening! The fear of these delicious treats selling out before I could get there nearly pushed me into a fast jog, but I only slightly suppressed my inner-fat-kid and started to casually walk ever-so-slightly faster to the land of sweet dreams.

donut

This, folks, is the Strawberry Shortcake donut. It’s heaven.

Follow the sweet donut crumbs to Double Trouble Donuts on Instagram (@DoubleTroubleDough) so you can get some of this donut bliss in your life too.

After leaving Nest stocked full of donuts, we passed the most precious sight. This sweet older gentleman was playing the accordion (and very well I might add!) on the corner of Main Street wearing the cutest sweater.

accordian

I wish you could hear the beautiful music he was playing.

THIS is why I love Columbia. Sweetness overflows our little city and warms my heart.

And so, my 2015 Spring Break comes to an end. The days are never long enough for everything I want to pack into them, but I have to admit my Spring Break was pretty awesome. I hope you had a great week as well and I wish you all lots of moments as relaxing as this one…

Apparently THIS is what Twitch does in the middle of the day. Who knew?!

Alas, I now know what Twitch does in the middle of the day.

Spring Break, Part 1

One of the perks of working for a school district is that we also get to be off for spring break. Just when the year is starting to speed up, we get a much needed break 🙂 How thoughtful.

While we work in different districts, my sister and I have the same spring break this year (yay!). Our mission was to get together a few days with the mission of sewing clothing.

Day 1

Katie has been wanting a Canny tunic for a while. The pattern is a quick sew (with only 2 pieces) so I offered for us to make it together. We kicked off our week by converting the Canny tunic to a dress!

canny dress

My sister in the Canny as a dress.

Stay tuned – I’ll be blogging about how you can turn the Canny tunic into a dress on AddieK’s blog soon!

I gave my sister some recommendations for my favorite sites to order fabric from and let her pick which to order. She chose a burgundy and black chevron pont de roma knit fabric from Girl Charlee. It’s no surprise that my sister ordered chevron (she loves chevron) and it’s definitely no surprise that she ordered garnet and black (go Gamecocks!).

I have not worked with pont de roma before, but my-oh-my this fabric was so stinkin’ soft I just wanted to pet it! It has a beautiful, easy drape. It’s sturdy, but has a good stretch. For the deal she got on the fabric, I had low expectations, but wow – it was dreamy. Girl Charlee is my go-to for knit fabric – great quality and great prices.

And…later on that evening, I spoke on a “What are they doing now?” career panel hosted by USC’s Arnold School of Public Health. This was my second time speaking on the panel – the first time, the room was so full there were students standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the back. The program has really grown since I graduated! (And obviously the students are still just as curious as we were about what on Earth to do with your degree in public health.)

I love looking out at the wide-eyed, bushy-tailed students – they’re so full of motivation to save the world, but yet scared to death about what the future holds (and for these students, they obviously want to hear it holds a j-o-b). I was one of the first 10 or so students to enroll in the undergrad [public health] program at USC so I always feel like a dinosaur when I talk to current students. Nonetheless, I am so honored and so humbled to be asked to speak on such a panel 🙂

Day 2

I had been intermittently working on my second Noodlehead Envelope Clutch (remember my first?!) since the weekend. While my sister cut pieces for the Canny dress on Monday, I snagged a few minutes to add a few more stitches. I took my time to get all the details right. I even added 6 additional card pockets to the interior (opposite of the zipper & 3 card slots). I wanted it to be a functional wallet that I could throw inside my Noodlehead Super Tote (remember my Super Tote?!) during the work week and pull out as a grab-and-go bag for the weekend and running errands.

My finished Envelope Clutch!

My finished Envelope Clutch!

I know, you’re probably going all heart-eyes over the fabric aren’t you?! I picked up this stunning print while in England over the holidays. I fell madly in love with Cath Kidston while we were there. On Christmas, Jeremy’s Aunt received a London Buses bag from her cousin and my mouth started watering. The print was so whimsical and as Jeremy’s Aunt started telling us all about Cath Kidston’s themed stores (where everything – from wallets to notebooks to luggage – is covered in these novelty patterns), I knew we had to visit the Newcastle location.

The store was such a delight. I wanted to move in and stay there forever, but my Hubs hates to shop (especially for fabric) so I beelined for the corner where they had the fabric stash and picked one to take home with me. While I really liked the oilcloth selection, I decided to go with one of the cotton prints (more of a canvas/home decor weight) because it was familiar and knew I could use it for multiple projects.

envelope clutch 2

How perfect is that sweet little butterfly?!

For the interior and wrist strap (PS: this is my favorite wrist strap tutorial), I used a shimmery gold home decor fabric I had lying around. I wanted to make pink piping for the exterior of the bag, but decided to forgo because I became impatient (le sigh…must get that under control). The pink fabric used for the inside of the zipper pocket and for the card slots was from a pair of medical scrub pants. It matched the fabric perfectly!

envelope clutch 3

I wish you could see how perfectly shimmery the interior is – these pictures don’t do it justice.

I can’t speak highly enough of Noodlehead patterns. Anna is pure genius. The details of the bags may take a bit longer than what you’re used to (if you’re used to sewing basic bags), but they are so worth it! In the end you’ll have a bag that you never get tired of because it is so stinkin’ functional (which is what has happened with my Super Tote which just underwent its first washing because I literally use it daily for work)!

I’ve been eyeballing Anna’s recently released Caravan Tote & Pouch. The bag has a lot of little details that are specifically handy for knitters. While I’m not a knitter, Jeremy’s grandmother is – and while we were in England she was working on knitting my third(!) sweater! To say I love her might be an understatement so obviously I’d like to make her a Caravan Tote.

Stay Tuned

Coming later this week, I’ll share with you the rest of the projects I’m working on! I’m hoping to stay on this super-productive-sewing-kick for the rest of the week! 😉