summer lovin'

Friday, June 29, 2012

yesterday morning, as we pulled out of our parking lot (way earlier than normal, and therefore, actually on time!), gearing up for another day of the dc grind, husband asked me a question that made my heart ache just a little bit. “grace, when is the longest day of the year? did that come and go already?”

“yes”, i replied. “it came and went over a week ago.” there you have it folks. the cold hard truth. summer is slipping through our fingers and we have almost nothing to show for it.

before we even know it, fall will be here and we’ll be planning for thanksgiving and possibly a puppy. more on that at a later post.

so dear friends, make sure to embrace the glorious sweltering heat. it's 100 degrees in dc today - perfect weather to do this:


and bask in the twilight sun at eight p.m. tonight just because you can. trust me, you’ll be regretting it in december when it's freezing out and you are  under house arrest by the weather, with not much to do but stare at your tv and fold laundry.  you'll think back to today and wish you had gone on that sweet twilight stroll (ice cream cone in hand - optional, but highly recommended).

happy weekend in the sun!

lessons learned

Thursday, June 28, 2012

consider this post a "how to" guide of sorts on your future visits to boston.

1) when planning a trip to boston from d.c., the number one thing you will need: good friends to travel with you.


2) when going with good friends, and you geniusly decide to take the eight hour amtrak ride, do not take the 315 a.m. out of dc. you may think it's a good idea because you think you'll be able to sleep through the night and arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 1115 a.m. ready for your boston adventure. well you won't, because the train will be freezing and the bright lights will remain on for the entire ride. do these people look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to you?

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3) if you are from california and have moved away, you will most certainly be starved for mexican food. you will be snobbish about how the only place you can get good mexican food is california. (well, and mexico). but you will be humbled in the city of boston. go to angela's cafe.  we stumbled on this treasure, and learned that guy fieri visited recently and it will be featured on the food network. or go to burrito express for a $3.99 breakfast burrito that is delicious.

4) definitely do the freedom trail. you will see amazing parts of u.s. history. here is a sampling.

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5) go to a baseball game at fenway park. just trust me on this. even if you do not like baseball. i do not like baseball, and i may or may not have taken a quick five minute cat nap during the third inning, but there's something about being at fenway park. it's the oldest baseball park in america, and as you sit there, you feel the richness of its history sink into your bones.


6) go to mike's pastry and get a canoli. any one of them. and you too can have this look of absolute culinary bliss.

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7) if it's a dreary, rainy day while you're visiting boston, there are plenty of used book stores to peruse. we stumbled on  this place was amazing. the collections and number of first editions was just incredible. but it was also expensive. and when i say expensive i am talking luis vuitton ball park. there were collections that started at twelve hundred dollars. so you can only imagine the trauma and absolute mortification when i knocked over a starbucks grande green tea onto a bookshelf. you can only imagine how i panicked and tried to throw my body on top of the pile of tea as we all watched as the water crept, as if in slow motion, over the bookshelf, falling onto first edition, hand illustrated copies of don quixote.  you can only imagine the terror that swept through me, as i tried to rip the books off the shelf to prevent any more water damage. you can only imagine how awkward it must have been for our friends as they stood there helplessly. and you can only imagine me sobbing over the already water damaged, thousdands of dollars worth of antique collector's item books, as i wiped with paper towels and my sweatshirt sleeves. i was alternating between sobbing and whimpering out of embarassment and terror. there i was, kneeling on the floor of this amazing and expensive bookstore, having caused what i imagine was thousands of dollars worth of damage. there i was expecting to have to line up all our credit cards to spread out the cost of our new antique books collection, when the store owner came over and calmly told me not to panic. this man must have kids. he was beyond gracious. (maybe my sobbing had something to do with it). he assured me that this happens to everyone, of course this didn't happen to mark or miriam or david, but to me. of course. he assured me that the pages themselves were not damaged and he could fix the leather covers of all the books. and he would not even accept my offer to pay for the repair of the leather covers. you would be right if you imagined we left shortly thereafter. we definitely did not stay to browse after that incident. the thing is, it's really not entirely my fault. it was rainy and cold out, so we had to make a stop at starbucks. when we got to the bookstore - it was the kind of store where you had to knock on the door and have the store owner unlock the door to let you in - we offered to leave our drinks at the door, but the owner himself told us to just place them on top of the counter-height bookshelf. i'm sure he has since changed his food and beverage in the store policy. and i am no longer allowed in used book stores.


8) downton abbey. oh downton abbey. this got me through the eight hour train ride home and i'm almost all caught up. i powered through all but the season two finale. a certain friend tried to spoil it for me and told me the entire estate gets hit with a meteor!! well it hasn't happened yet, so i guess it must hit at the very end of the season finale! i wonder who will doubt the dowager, as if a meteor could stop her. i'm already looking forward to season three, which i only just learned does not air in the u.s. until january 2013!!! what will i do until then?!

the bermuda triangle

Thursday, June 21, 2012

maybe it's the 102 degree heat, but i am not feeling particularly inspired to blog today - i've got no pictures to share, no witty story to tell.

but i'll leave my beloved readers with this gem of a find: if you are a highly educated, highly capable woman OR you are married to a highly educated, highly capable woman, do yourself a favor and read this thought provoking piece: "why women still can't have it all"

as a woman, i have struggled and often found myself lost in the triangle of: wife/future mother. higher education/higher powered career. and banner carrier of feminism and femininity. actually, i'm still figuring it out and i'm not sure if i'm going to disappear in the challenge and frustration of obtaining my vision of "having it all."  i find my position on wife-hood, homemaker, stay-at-home mom, professional career woman, advocate of higher and higher education for women constantly shifting. but when it comes down to it, i'm so grateful i have these choices - albeit tough choices. it's better than not having any choice at all.

after you've read this {lengthy} article, let me know your thoughts. do you have it all? what is "all" to you, and what tough choices have you made - are you making?

the thing about elephants

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

having a semi-autistic spectrum like memory has its benefits. i can quote movies line for line. i can remember facts from the 5th grade. i am the one phone call you would make when you're on "who wants to be a millionaire." chances are if i've seen it, read it, or heard it in passing, i will remember. just one of my special quirks i guess.

the downside, of course is, i also happen to remember EVERY SINGLE TIME husband has wronged me.  it's actually impossible for me to forget and so what we have now is a snow ball effect. one small hurt remembered forever. the next hurt added onto that, and then the next and then the next, and before you know it, i'm up late at night stewing about bad patterns of behavior and how it could be i ended up with such an insensitive brute. by this time, my stomach hurts, and it's two a.m. and i can't sleep, meanwhile husband is blissfully snoring next to me. which only makes matters worse! how did i end up here - about ready to reach over for something sharp and stab my husband in the arm? (hey, at least i didn't say eye or heart)

for once an old addage is NOT applicable. remember this one?: "to err is human, to forgive is divine." well actually the first half is most certainly true. we all err, and if i'm being honest, i've erred against my husband plenty of times. but forgiveness is mostly human too. it doesn't take too much effort for us mere mortals to forgive, especially to forgive someone we love dearly. maybe it takes some of us longer to forgive, but eventually we i get there. what is truly divine is forgiving and forgetting.

it's this forgetting thing i struggle with. each time there's a new hurt, memories of all the old hurts return and suddenly they are so fresh. this morning, i waged a fierce internal battle with the LJ (Lord Jesus). it went like this:

Grace: LJ, i'm just upset and hurt and i can't let go. he ALWAYS does this.
LJ: I'm here. I'm listening.
Grace: are you?! are you really listening? because i am considering a host of repercussions {conveniently ommitted from this blog so you, my dear readers, are shielded from the depths of my evil nature}
LJ: Grace, you have a choice. move on, forgive and forget.
Grace: but LJ, i can't forget. i can't. i thought You said You were listening? didn't You hear me say, I CAN'T LET GO??
LJ: grace, you need to calm down. I'm here, I'm listening. you are working yourself up into a tizzy. I can feel your stomach burning.
Grace: but i can't. i'm just too hurt.
LJ: grace, remember, I have forgiven and forgotten all your sins. how would you feel if I remembered each time you failed, each time you made a mistake, each time you hurt Me?
Grace: really LJ? You went there? i mean, what can i say to that? clearly You have a valid point. but i can't. help me get there. i'm not like You.
LJ: yes you are. you have My life in you. My life is able to forgive and forget.
Grace: ok, let's say we do this forgive, forget thing. then what happens? he'll just do it again. trust me Lord, i know him. then we'll be having this conversation AGAIN.
LJ: I know him too. and I know you. I have forgiven and forgotten for you both. and I'm ok if and when we have this conversation again.
Grace: fine LJ, You win - sort of. i won't poison his dinner tonight, but You have to keep working in me to achieve this forgive and forget thing.

i'm still not there yet. but there's some thawing of the ice that formed around my heart.

the upside of restlessness at two a.m., i finally started watching downton abbey. honestly, i couldn't even get through episode one of the first season. i couldn't follow the conversation. it would be easier if they lost the british accent. (and this is coming from me. i have a thing for british accents! if husband had one, i'm sure it would help with the forgive and forget thing). thoughts? should i power through and keep watching??

his hope

Sunday, June 17, 2012

i graduated high school twelve years ago on father's day, june 2000.

a few weeks before i graduated, my a.p. lit teacher gave us one final assignment: have people close to us write us letters in the present that she would mail to us when we graduated college in may of 2004.

that june, a week before i graduated, my father wrote me a letter. he didn't know then that life would turn out so differently than any of us hoped or imagined. none of us knew then that in fifteen months, my dad would go to work on a random tuesday morning, and die in the twin towers. so it was precious and haunting when i received a packet of letters in may 2004 - a few weeks before i graduated from berkeley.

i had forgotten about these letters until they arrived on my doorstep. as i held this pile of letters in my hands, time stood still. and i remembered that my dad had written me a letter four years earlier. but really it was a lifetime ago wasn't it? it was frightening at first. what would this letter say? would it be enough, his final words to me? would this letter be trite, just everyday conversation because back then we thought we had so many more every days left.

here is an excerpt from his letter to me:

"Finally, I will continue to pray for you every day, that the Lord will guard your heart above all things, for out of it are the issues of life. i will miss you while you are 3000 miles away. Love, Dad"

turns out, it is for every day, but it is not trite. it was all his hopes for me, all he wished for my life. it is still what he hopes for me, and still what he wishes for my life.

these words resonate with me today. my faith is the single greatest gift my dad gave to me. as i become more like my mother with every passing day, it's nice to know there's a little bit of my dad in me too.

so happy father's day to all the dads who are always with us. and happy father's day to a special dad who has never ceased praying for me and never ceased missing me.

father's day weekend kick off

Friday, June 15, 2012

i have the best father-in-law. seriously. he loves me as if i am his own daughter. he places no demands on me. has no expectations and never judges us. he wishes only the best for me and husband. he even built a starter home for us.  when david and i grow up, i hope we're like him - unphased by human failures, and full of wisdom.

in honor of the upcoming father's day weekend, i hereby declare today: best father-in-law day. so doug, happy best father-in-law day. because you really are the best father-in-law.

father-in-law holding the baby version of my hubby
and i know at least seven people who would say he is the best father ever.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

this blog post doesn't do enough justice, but i want to give a shout out to my dear friend, julia holly. she is a graphic designer extraordinaire. she is an amazing mom of three, gets up at 5 am to work out, comes home, spends time with her kiddos who happen to be adorable, and she freelances. if you're looking to build a website or have any other graphic design needs, contact julz: julia.holly{at}gmail{dot}com.  you won't regret it.  she redesigned my blog header and i am so in love with it, i've literally been sitting here staring lovingly at it for almost an hour =D

i'm honored to know this talented lady. it's a little crazy that i've known her before she was a mom, before she was a wife, and when she was still just studying to be the awesome designer that she is. thanks julia.

doctor (nod), doctor (nod), doctor (nod), doctor (nod)

if you haven't seen this movie, you must. it's a classic. chevy chase and dan akroyd at their best. not to mention it may just inspire you to see your credentials in a new light. you too can be a doctor! this, along with webMD, and you are unstoppable. trust me. i know. because i too, am a doctor. Dr. Grace Carlson, J.D.

sometimes though, webMD will fail you, and that's when you simply have to rely on your honed inner doctor instincts. a few months back, i insisted that husband run a webMD and google search for "fever hands." you see, i have "fever hands."

these puppies sometimes get so hot, that husband will not hold my hand, choosing instead to hold my wrists. romantic no? more like ridiculous, yes. but i tell you, i am convinced that my fever hands are symptoms of something wrong, a rare disease perhaps?

would you even believe me if i told you that webMD did not have any search results, and all the search results for google were not helpful at all? hard to believe, i know, but it's true. there's nothing out there on the world wide web that can provide any insight into my apparently rare condition. and yes, i actually even went to my "real" doctor. he was sort of at a loss. blank stare doctor. and then said he'd run some blood tests. my endocrine system is the picture of health. nothing is wrong. but! i just do. not. believe. it.

i am undeterred. all you medical professionals out there, watch out. i am on the cusp of discovery. i cannot be stopped, because i know my inner doctor is right on this. one day, fever hands will show up in medical text books around the world.

until then, i am definitely available for free consultations and to diagnose whatever medical conditions you have. i'm here for you. love, Dr. Grace. (momma chiang must be proud, lawyer and doctor in one! super asian!)

keep out

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

here in washington, d.c., we like to emphasize diplomacy. my seven or so years here have been a constant lesson in learning how to be diplomatic in all situations.

a little over three years ago, husband and i had just returned from our honeymoon. momma chiang decided to pay us a visit - in fact, she arrived in d.c. a day before we even returned. and in usual chinese fashion decided that staying with her newly married daughter was not only economical, but desirable. so on our first morning home from our honeymoon, we woke up at seven a.m. to our little house guest knocking on our bedroom door, "lazybones, how do i turn on your t.v. and stereo system?"

years later, with diplomacy skills honed, i have found the appropriate solution: a new little decor piece for our bedroom door the next time momma chiang decides to pay us a visit:

happy {belated} anniversary to me

Monday, June 11, 2012

gold. michael kors. watch. i bought this a few weeks after my 30th birthday back in march. i really really wanted a gold watch. not any gold watch. this gold watch. everywhere i looked, i saw this gold watch calling to me. so when i got a little birthday money, i got on amazon and bought myself a birthday gift. a week after i bought this beautiful watch, i got hit with a $3000 tax bill. oh! trust me, you did NOT read that wrong. yup, i said $3000. husband may or may not have asked me to change my withholdings last year when i got hit with a $2300 tax bill, and i may or may not have changed my withholdings. needless to say when my watch arrived, husband gave me one look and said, "return that watch."

to be fair, husband did pay 2/3rds of my $3000 tax bill, so i guess it is ok that he demanded i return this watch. EVEN THOUGH $175 would really barely put a dent in the tax bill. but i did it anyway. i went back on to amazon, looked up the vendor and the return policies. i had exactly 30 days to return my watch - my beautiful gold watch. the only problem - there is no UPS anywhere near my office. so i took my watch and dramatically placed it in david's hands and asked him to return it for me. 

on may 18th, husband came home and ceremoniously wished me a happy belated anniversary and placed the watch in my hands. before you get to thinking that david was being romantic (which he can be sometimes), david simply forgot. it sat in the back of his car for over 30 days. so he {re}gifted the watch. and then asked where his anniversary gift was. 

happy anniversary indeed. i guess it worked out in the end. tax bill paid for and i got to keep the watch. not a bad third anniversary if you ask me. 

friday night lights

Friday, June 08, 2012

the thing about monday through thursday is, friday always comes. no matter how bad your week is, no matter how much work your director dumps on you (hypothetically speaking of course), no matter how much the week has dragged, friday always arrives in full splendor. i don't know how friday does it, but it's  magical. on fridays, the air is sweeter, food tastes better, and time goes by faster.

husband and i have lived in arlington for four years and this is the first time we went to the rosslyn film festival. a few thoughts on this. it really was the perfect night. not too hot, not too cold, a light breeze, and fabulous company and the cheese, OH THE CHEESE!

BUT, it was a really horrible movie. uncomfortable actually. obscene. i asked the hubs to describe the movie in one word and this is the word he chose: crap. it was "election." now, for full disclosure, i love me some reese witherspoon. she is the reason that it is socially acceptable for women over the age of 10 to love the color pink - hot, hot pink! and she may or may not have been 30% of why i went to law school... (non-last season black pradas as a first year? where do i sign up?!) neither reese nor friday's magic could transform this movie. 

this friday was saved by olive oil, cheese, and above all, the great company.

this guy could so be the next 007. move over daniel craig.

is there any better to way to start the weekend than discussing the acceptable dimensions of an inflatable movie screen for your hypothetical nine acre lot of property? the answer is clearly no, and that's why our weekend is going to be awesome. because this is exactly how we started the evening. conclusion:  we will need a much, much bigger screen than this one.


one is the loneliest number

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

husband is working late. again. so i decided to be productive. i unloaded the dishwasher. (husband should not get use to this.)  i did two loads of laundry. sometimes, the carlsons go weeks, and i mean weeks, without doing laundry. good thing you can get fabulous unmentionables at fabulously low prices at marshalls . i'm pretty sure marshalls was created for just such a situation - people who have a hate-hate relationship with doing laundry.

and then i made myself dinner for one.

puffy pancake* topped with strawberries, lemon juice, and powdered sugar. it was pretty much a complete meal. the only two things that would have made this meal whole would be a side of large mcdonald's fries and this guy:

*puffy pancake recipe:
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp butter
place butter in pie pan, place pie pan in oven while you preheat to 425 degrees. mix other ingredients together. when oven is heated, pour batter into pan, bake for 12 minutes. 
serve with lemon juice, powdered sugar, and strawberries, or jam, or maple syrup.


home sweet home

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

tuesday is the perfect day for a little inspiration no? and at these prices, why not? a few things that will brighten up your home on a random tuesday

a globe makes you look smart

for hubby's sweet tooth

you can never have too many glasses

whimsical wonderfulness

slightly obsessed with birds right now

 all above images from one kings lane. for membership, email jointhegraveytrain{at} great prices!

for the front door - rule of the house (courtesy of hammerpress $10 )

for summer fruit salads and cereal-for-dinner nights, courtesy of anthropologie

  happy shopping! nothing quite like a little retail therapy to get you through a random tuesday.

to blog or not to blog

Monday, June 04, 2012

WHY BLOG?? what is the purpose of blogging? or rather, what is the purpose of blogging for me? in the course of seeing several other blogs, i realized the beauty and flaw of blogging. the author(s) can be very selective. so some people appear to have perfect, fairy tale marriages. you know, the kind that make you and your spouse feel, what's the word, inadequate? deranged? or simply you think, "what's wrong with us?" until you realize, oh it's really not us, it's them! no seriously, it really is them. they either are flat out lying, or they're just in that euphoria phase. they haven't hit their bumps in the road yet. but since david and i are high functioning, we're ahead of the curve so to speak. not only have we sped, with reckless abandon, down our road, hitting many bumps and falling into ditches, sometimes it seems as if we are OFF ROADING altogether. only we have no control and we are literally spinning and i am screaming (also literally).

or the other kinds of blogs that inspire you to bake or go gourmet with your little cuisine-art food processor. hours later, not only does your creation not exactly match that blog picture, but your kitchen has also imploded on itself. (solution: leave the clean up job for hubby, as you not so quietly have a break down on the couch). i won't even mention the questionable-tasting final product.

well here on this blog, let me say, we're flawed, majorly flawed. there are no perfect people in the carlson house. and life definitely does not always work itself out according to our plans, though this has certainly NOT stopped me from trying to plan out every step of our lives. (i'm determined if nothing else!) but to admit that, and talk about the sometimes not so wonderful life experiences, especially on a blog, leaves you vulnerable. vulnerable to your readers' opinions. vulnerable to their judgments. and vulnerable to their unsolicited advice.

but let's be honest, i'm not the kind of person who sees the positive side of everything. my response to a car accident would not be, "well at least we're all safe and alive," though that should probably be my response. my actual response would most likely be "crap, how are we going to afford another car," and "david, i told you to slow down you retard!" (wife of the year award winner, i know). if you're looking for a happy-go-lucky, everything smells like roses, we're on the peak of mount happy blog, you are definitely in the wrong place. blogging about the hard life experiences is not only cathartic, but it helps to highlight the greatly wonderful things in life. getting through the dark makes us love the light more. after each winter, we know, spring is on the way. and often times, when we are at the bottom of the well, when we feel like we are sinking, acknowledging that we're sinking is the fastest way for someone to reach in and help us up and out.

so for now, this is why i blog. because life isn't perfect. but that doesn't make it any less wonderful.

Happy Monday (talk about the worst of times!)

weekend wonder

And because we can't get enough of this guy, even though he's obviously over us: