March Madness

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In which … this post has absolutely nothing to do with basketball … and everything to do with all the things that kept me amused this month. March arrived like a lion; wind literally roaring around the corners and March left like a lamb. The final day of March was absolutely gorgeous – sun shining, a gentle breeze and perfect blue skies – if that’s not the weather version of a lamb, I don’t know what is!

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Books I Couldn’t Put Down

Still Me by Jojo Moyes – Oh how I loved this book! It continues the adventure of plucky Louisa Clark as she heads for NYC to work alongside her friend Nathan in the house of wealthy New York socialites. Lou tries to balance her new life in New York and her budding relationship with ambulance Sam in London. This book was warm, funny and so very enjoyable – I absolutely can say without hesitation that all three of Moyes books about Louisa Clark are among my very favorite!

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah – Such a gripping book; it tells the story of sisters Vianne and Isabelle living in France during WWII. Vianne is the oldest and is reserved, quiet and timid while Isabelle is headstrong, impatient and impulsive. As the war rages around them, both discover they are much stronger than they ever thought they could be. I would highly recommend this book … but I will warn you, I sobbed at the end!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne – A short book, this one is just over 100 pages but boy it gets the point across in those few pages. The story is told from the perspective of Bruno, a 9 year old German boy who is uprooted from life in Berlin and moved to “out-with” when his father; a high-ranking German officer, is promoted. His older sister’s room has views of the woods, but Bruno’s room looks out over a large community fenced with barbed wire, where everyone wears the same striped pajamas. Upon an exploratory adventure, Bruno discovers and befriends a young boy named Shmuel who lives on the opposite side of the fence.

Night by Elie Wiesel – A short but incredibly powerful story by Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel about his time spent at the camp. The story centers on his family being moved to Auschwitz, where he is immediately separated from everyone but his father and then spends the subsequent months doing his best to keep both his father and himself alive. Wiesel does not hold back in detailing the horrors of the camp and while the book is barely over 100 pages, the story will stick with you far longer.

Born Survivors by Wendy Holden – This book is still on my mind; such a powerful read. The book tells the story of three Jewish women who entered Auschwitz pregnant and not only managed to conceal their pregnancies but maintain their pregnancies, give birth to their babies and keep them alive through the liberation of the camps and beyond. All three women were around seventy pounds when they went into labor…one baby was born in the hospital of a factory camp, another baby was born on one of the cattle cars that transported the Jewish people and another was born at the gates of Mauthausen. The stories are incredible and inspiring and all three “babies” are alive and well today.

*do you sense a theme with most of my reading for the past month? I finally jumped into all the books I bought last Spring…and they are all WWII related. All the books have been incredibly thought provoking, inspiring and often uncomfortable – but they all tell stories that need to be remembered!*

Books on the Shelf

I’m not sure what I’ll pick up in April… I’ve made my way through almost every book I bought last Spring, the only thing left is The Book Thief* and I’ll have finished them all. So what I read in April will be a surprise…even to me! Although I think at this point, it probably needs to be something NOT about WWII and the Holocaust.

I started reading The Book Thief just a couple days ago, so I guess I’m going to finish up all the WWII/Holocaust related books after all!

Must See TV

Fixer Upper – I cannot believe this is the final season of Fixer Upper! I have so loved watching every episode of Chip & Jo’s crazy antics, their sweet family and the gorgeous homes they re-work and design. Five years ago, I had no clue what ship lap was but now I think a ship lap feature wall would be awfully nice and while I’m at it, how about a farmhouse sink? Thank goodness Home Town came along; it will have to fill my Fixer Upper void…

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The Alienist – What an excellent show! I eagerly anticipated this since March of last year when Luke Evans began posting on Instagram about the show and I’m so glad I decided to give it a view! The gorgeous costumes, the stunning set pieces and the attention to detail for the setting of turn of the century New York (actually filmed in Budapest) are perfectly matched with the actors portraying the three main characters. The story line is intriguing and builds each week, with twists, turns and thrills and the finale wrapped the story up perfectly. I’d highly recommend watching this if you haven’t given it a shot – all ten episodes are now available.

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So many of the shows I’ve been watching had their finales this month – This is Us and Home Town are at the forefront of my mind…and The Alienist even bowed out on the 26th.

Movies of the Month

A Wrinkle in Time – My Mom and I went to see this at the beginning of the month and it was good. I honestly remember the strange cover of the book from my childhood but I do not remember reading the book…so I went in with no expectations. The movie was very good; if a little strange at times, but altogether a really fun watch. The little boy that played Charles Wallace (picture below in the middle) absolutely stole the movie, he was precious and owned every scene he was in! And Chris Pine…well…there is nothing bad about Chris Pine popping up in any movie, ha-ha!

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Tomb Raider – I really loved this movie! I went into it knowing next to nothing about Tomb Raider, but I like Alicia Vikander and I sort of assumed that it would be like a female Indiana Jones. It was exactly like that and I loved it! Legends and mystery, a curse surrounding a tomb on a hidden island, action and adventure, solving riddles and puzzles…this movie had all of that, but with a woman leading the way! I loved it! I hope it spawns another couple movies because I will be in line to see them!

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Tasty Treats

So many delicious things in the month of March – both sweet and savory! Brunch at Regions 117 never disappoints and the waffles with cinnamon frosting and orange marmalade was to die for! A new wood fired pizza place opened and the tomato basil soup is divine as was the Tijuana…a pizza with spiced beef, cheese and sour cream!

 

We popped into Chuy’s this month for some killer Mexican food and my Mom flashed her amazing cooking skills with a mouth-watering key lime pound cake! There were more cupcakes, sugar cookies and macarons than any one person should eat and plenty of Easter candy. I’ll be worshiping at the feet of the elliptical for a while…but boy, it all was so good!

Earworms

I’ve spent the month listening to a lot of podcasts – no surprise there. I’ve really enjoyed The Bible Binge; a new podcast from Knox & Jamie @ the Popcast, the Bible Binge casts and reviews your favorite and lesser known Bible stories to make them relate-able to anyone who is looking to learn and laugh. I can’t say enough about how fun, funny and interesting the Bible Binge is – and there are only six episodes in the first season, so it’s a quick listen!

I also discovered the soundtrack to the third season of Outlander had been released and so that gorgeous music was added to the classical music rotation…

What I’m Looking Forward To

Nationals Baseball – Baseball is back and I; for one, could not be more excited! If you’ve popped into the blog more than once, you are probably well aware that I’m a dedicated fan of the Washington Nationals. My first game of the season is just a couple weeks away and I’ve already got two more games lined up for early May! I can’t wait to be back at Nationals Park!

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Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time – The Maryland Symphony Orchestra is putting on Disney in Concert and I am so excited to be going to take in a performance! I love hearing live music and I especially love when that music is from Disney! I’m sure this will be so much fun!

Potted Potter – A two man show that manages to cram all seven Harry Potter books into one seventy minute live stage show? Sounds like a riot to me! My friend Rachel and I are heading into DC to check this out mid-way through the month and I can’t wait to see what this show has in store!

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Joining a Church – While this might seem small to some, my faith is the defining factor in my life and I’m so glad that after three+ years of living in Northern Virginia and visiting churches, I’ve found a place to join. I’ll be joining Abundant Life and I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for me as a member of this church community!

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Returning TV Shows – Two shows that I really love are returning in April and I can’t wait to see what each one has in store! At the beginning of the month is Legion; a show starring Dan Stevens as David Haller, one of the most powerful mutants alive. The first season was a real mind bender…as David isn’t really sure if he’s hearing voices, if he’s sane or if he’s just extremely powerful (hint: it might be a combination of all three…) And at the end of the month is Westworld; the HBO series starring Evan Rachel Wood as the completely lifelike robot Dolores – one of many in a “theme park” where the attractions have become sentient and realize they’d rather fulfill their own dreams than those of the people paying to play at the park.

Infinity War – I am so looking forward to seeing this movie! Originally slated for a May release, it was moved up a week and I am so excited to check this movie out at the end of the month! My friend Jennie is already getting tickets and I can’t wait to see the movie that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building toward for ten years!

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And that’s all I’ve got for the month of March. I cannot believe the first three months of 2018 are already over and done! Does time move faster every year? I know it (probably) doesn’t…but it sure feel like it!

Five on Friday

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One. Three Day Weekend – I’m writing this post from the comfort of my couch since this is the start of a glorious three day weekend! Granted; I do have to spend a portion of my day off at the DMV, but you know what? Find the positive, not the negative! The positive is that I got to sleep in this morning and I’m writing this post from my couch, ha-ha!

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Two. Georgetown – Saturday is going to be gorgeous and I plan to take full advantage of that! I’m headed toward Georgetown for the day to take in all the fun, history, shopping and good eats that it has to offer for the day! I can’t wait to pop into Dean and DeLuca and pick up some macaroons…and of course, do a few other things…but the macaroons are definitely at the front of my mind, ha-ha! And maybe we’ll take a spin around the Tidal Basin to check on the cherry trees…

Three. Dumbarton Oaks & Tudor Place – Two of the stops while we are in Georgetown for the day are Tudor Place and the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks. Tudor Place is a federal style mansion that was once the home of Martha Washington’s granddaughter and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Dumbarton Oaks is another historic home that has extensive gardens and a cherry tree lined lane that I’m hoping will be trying to pop into bloom – actual peak bloom is not predicted for another week. I’m sure both homes and gardens will be gorgeous though!

Four. Nationals Baseball – Yesterday was Opening Day of the 2018 season but due to heavy rain in Cincinnati, the Nationals first game of the 2018 season was postponed until today! So today is the first of the 162 games of the 2018 and I can’t wait to watch! The Nationals have a new manager; Dave Martinez and Max Scherzer will be taking the mound as the Opening Day starter. Here’s hoping for the first of many Curly W’s for the 2018 season!

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Five. Easter – Easter weekend is upon us and while I love some delicious Easter chocolate and jelly beans, as a believer the true meaning of Easter is the blessing of knowing that Jesus Christ died for me, paving my way to Heaven. I hope everyone has a blessed and bountiful Easter weekend – whatever your beliefs. And that you have plenty of Cadbury Cream Eggs!

And that’s this week’s Five on Friday. I’m off to watch a couple episodes of The Office, finish up some laundry and then it’s off to the DMV! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Opening Day 2018

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Well – one of the most wonderful days of the year is upon us – and I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m talking about! Today is the most illustrious of days, when the smell of leather and the crack of the bat will soon fill my sense with joy once more…

The Spring winds will blow, the Summer heat will rise and Autumn leaves will begin to fall…but in the midst of all of that, one thing will remain. The bright lights and the boys of Summer on the field…

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…the joy of snacking on peanuts, cracker jack and a hot dog and singing “take me out to the ballgame” in the seventh… all these wonderful things and so much more have returned once again…

It’s Opening Day 2018 – and for the next six months (at least) there is the joy of baseball almost every day! So cheers to 2018 and let’s go Nationals!

Mostly Pictures of My Dog

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The past weekend was one of those weekends where socially not a lot happens…but in all other areas of life, like binge-watching, catching up on movies on your Netflix list, bonding with your dog, trying new recipes, washing clothes…a lot happens on those fronts.

I feel like that last sentence is not even remotely “correct” as far as grammar and phrasing are concerned but as it’s Monday, I find I’m not horribly concerned. Monday is enough on it’s own…who needs to worry about grammar?

Friday was a LONG day – not to be confused with a bad day, just a long day. I was really happy to see the end of the work week and head home. I lounged on the couch just a little bit before hopping into the car with my pup, whizzing past the snowman on the hillside (he’s headless now…) and to Taco Bell for some guilty pleasure Friday night supper. After eating supper and changing into snuggly clothes, I watched Room and then did some reading – it was a riveting Friday night – to be sure.

Saturday morning I was able to sleep past 8:00 which really seems like a win to me – I find I can’t make it past 7:30 most days and that always seems to make me sad, for some silly reason! I sipped my coffee and watched a few episodes of the The Office (I’ve finally made it to the ninth and final season) before getting going for the day.

Watson; meanwhile, was very busy snacking on leftover snow on the deck and laying in the sunshine. He’s such a strange little creature sometimes..

I got myself together, started some laundry, made a grocery list and gave the dog a Busy Bone and a walk around the block before I set out to run some afternoon errands. I popped into Dick’s Sporting Goods looking for a birthday gift…but was woefully disappointed in their selection and left pretty quickly. I grabbed the things I needed to attempt the Mexican Street Corn soup I wanted to make for dinner and then hopped over to Old Navy – because almost everything was 50% off!

I grabbed an essential short-sleeved black jersey dress that will be great for the summer, a maroon tank and a white/yellow lightweight cardigan…that was hanging under a sign that said $15!…but rang up $20.99… I kindly asked if the price was correct because the sign over the cardigan; the sign over all the cardigans that looked like that, said $15. And guess what? She changed the price to $15! It never hurts to ask y’all!

I headed home and passed the afternoon with walks outside with the pup, more watching The Office, doing more laundry and vacuuming. I started my cooking around 4:30 and unfortunately the soup turned out…lackluster…it wasn’t terrible but it didn’t wow me in the way I’d hoped.

I was delighted when I stumbled onto Tulip Fever on Amazon Prime and was able to watch it; I read the book last year but the film adaptation never came to my area. It was really good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Watson thoroughly enjoyed begging for a sip of the milk I had a little later with my ice cream…

Sunday was another gorgeous sunny day! My friend Jennie and her son Jimmy met me for church and we had lunch at Panera after. I spent the afternoon finishing the book Born Survivors, walking around the neighborhood with my pup and preparing for the work week ahead.

Sunday night’s movie was Bridget Jones’ Diary, which I’d never seen! I thoroughly enjoyed it and while you are probably reading this and thinking “she was a bum all weekend”… you would be correct. But you know what? Sometimes it’s nice to have a weekend filled with doing a whole lot of nothing.

Which is why this post is a lot of pictures of my dog! Happy Monday y’all!

Five on Friday

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Friday has arrived once more – although given how mixed up this week was, I’m almost not sure exactly what day it is… But the calendar tells me that it’s Friday and so without further ado, I’ll get right down to it!

One. All the Snow – Well, Spring arrived in dramatic fashion here in Northern Virginia. Tuesday morning arrived with ice raining down from the sky; I attempted to make my way in to work on slushy and slick roads, but my office manager called and (thankfully) told me to turn around and head home. The sky continued to leak a weird ice and snow mixture for the rest of Tuesday…

Sometime in the middle of the night on Tuesday, everything falling from the sky turned into snow and when I woke up on Wednesday everything was covered in the white stuff. The snow was wet and heavy and continued to fall all day Wednesday. While the snow blanketing everything certainly makes it look pretty – I’m just ready for warmer weather and some Spring flowers!

Two. Weekend Plans – For the first time in two weeks, I have 0 weekend plans. No movies to see, no outings into DC, no girls night (or late afternoon as it were…) – not a single plan. A part of me is really excited about that and a part of me is wondering what I’ll do with all the free time. One thing I do know is that I am so looking forward to having the opportunity to just lie in the bed on Saturday morning!

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Three. Perfectly Posh Spring Sale – Perfectly Posh is celebrating the arrival of Spring with a sale! Several of Posh’s pampering products are on sale and now is the perfect time to stock up! Some of MY personal favorites are on sale too!

I love Buff Around the Edges body polish; the prickly pear cactus scent is light and the exfoliation is thorough but gentle. Muscle Through is great for sprinkling into your bath after a day of … well for me, snow shoveling, ha-ha! The bath salts have magnesium to soothe and relax tired muscles. I’ve also heard rave reviews about Fake It Til You Make It and Impish Eyes!

If you want to take advantage of the sale, check out my site at http://NatalieSummerlin.po.sh

Four. National Puppy Day – Today is National Puppy Day ya’ll! And I think I have just about the best puppy in the world, so of course I had to share another picture with you! This little guy is sweet and cuddly, a little bit mischievous and has more personality in his tail than most people have in their whole body. He’s been adding joy to my life for NINE years now and I hope he’s going to be around for many more!

Five. Baseball is (almost) Back – That’s right folks; this time next week the 2018 baseball season will be underway and I am SO excited! Opening Day is Thursday, March 29th – the earliest it’s been in…maybe ever? Friday will be an off day and then the season really gets rolling! The Nationals start their season in Cincinnati and stop in Atlanta before heading home to take on the Mets, the Braves and the Rockies. My first game is on Friday the 13th and I am counting down the days!

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The 2018 season should be filled with excitement – we have the 4th best pitching rotation in the league (so says MLB.com), several up and comers that are looking for a chance to shine and Davey Martinez has stepped in as the new manager. DC is hosting the All-Star game this year and I just can’t wait for baseball to be back under way!

That’s all I’ve got for this edition of Five on Friday! If you’re a blogger, feel free to join in and share five things on your mind this Friday! Everyone have a good weekend!

Watson Wednesday

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We’ve been living the lazy life here the past two days – Tuesday was filled with lots of ice and a little snow, which transitioned to nothing but snow overnight and is going to keep coming down until 10:00 tonight! Watson is great at snow days – he loves to sit on top of the fire and keep warm…

And – a little comparison shot from the first day of Spring two years ago and the first day of Spring this year. My how different those pictures are! Snow is lovely, to be sure – but I certainly like the sunshine and blue skies a bit more!

Happy Wednesday y’all!