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On our way to see peeps!!

So tonight was a dinner out in Alexandria at one of our favorite places, the Green Pig Bistro. 

  

May the next 20 years be just as awesome!

It’s been 20 years since the night Tom and I met…

Our dinner splurge:

Tom in beer heaven:

Happy New Year 2017!

In probably the most unexpected detail ever in the history of this blog…I did not take ONE. SINGLE. PICTURE. ALL. NIGHT. 8O

So, we were the surprise guests for this party. Meaning, obviously, no one knew we were coming (except the host and one other friend). We’ve had surprise guests at other Tivo events before and it’s always fun, so when it worked out that we could do it for this party (due to our White House tour) we were excited. And it was cool—we’re so glad to have surprised our old (and new) crazy ax murderer internet friends and spent the evening with them!

This was taken by Jay, who I haven’t seen in real life…

…since 2009.

You know you’re old when you have two glasses of sangria and think it’s got to be getting close to midnight…and it’s not even 9! There was lots of good food and games, and we all managed to make it to midnight (waiting for the ball to drop, below), but the party broke up shortly thereafter. I really knew I was old when I wasn’t drunk heading back to the hotel. :lol:

I slept in until 10 (!) the next morning, and then it was off to brunch with friends before the wave of goodbyes (again, I did not take one single picture).

White House Tour

Touring the white house has been on my bucket list for awhile but I’ve been too lazy to do anything about it…so through a chance encounter, we met someone (a friend of a friend) who had two openings for New Years Day. At the time I was even MORE geeked because I thought the holiday decorations would still be up and Christmas is totally my thing…but unfortunately, the decorations were already down. :cry: The only slightly bad things were that 1) we would have liked to take the kids, but I wasn’t going to pass this up and 2) we had New Years Eve plans in New Jersey that would be cut a little short. But again we couldn’t pass this up. Uncle Rob was staying with us over the holidays so he watched the kids for us.

First stop: The Ellipse…and The National Christmas Tree.

“The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments that are unique to each tree.”

Workers were maintaining the trains…

Vacuuming the tracks (I thought this was funny but if you think about it it has to be done).

There were so many people milling about that it took a few minutes before we could get in front of the White House with no one else in our selfie. :) It was also hard to get the White House lined up between us because it was VERY bright and we could barely see the phone screen.

See? White House placement fail.

The hordes.

I just had to. :lol:

Potty break. We sent it to Owen and told him it was a Pidgey (Pokémon) nest.

Starting the queue to get to the tour.

First ID and ticket checkpoint.

Through that building was the dog who sniffed everyone one at a time.

We couldn’t take pictures in one building, and then we were spit out here.

Entering the White House!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t so much a tour as a regular museum experience. There were lines and hordes of people just like every other museum so you had to wait your turn to poke your head through a doorway for 10 seconds or wait for people to get out of your way to see something on the wall.

I like that you can see my reflection in this one.

Gift shop at the start of the tour! We got a White House ornament.

This was literally a 3′ doorway to poke your head in to take a sweeping look around.

And look what was in the middle of the tour… :) We each caught a few Pokémon and hoped they’d be good ones (they weren’t) but I now have a few I caught in the White House.

We opted not to wait in the huge line to take a picture directly in front of the Presidential Seal and doors so we got this instead. Had we not been trying to hurry, we could have tried to move to the side ever-so-slightly and hidden people behind Tom’s head. :)

And then it was done! They weren’t kidding when they said it only takes 45 minutes or so. I’m glad we did it, of course, but it wasn’t what I expected (though I don’t know why I was expecting an actual TOUR, like with a few people at a time—this is DC! Nothing happens without hordes of people!). The other bummer is that all the Christmas decorations were down. You were also encouraged to ask the guards about the house and the individual rooms and whatnot, but with as many people as were there and how crowded most of the areas were, you almost felt guilty if you held up the line just to chit chat with the guard.

We quick had someone snap this before more people walked out and ruined the shot.

See? The lady took a minute to reframe the shot and…people.

Fun with photoshop.

So, since we were in DC, we had to pick somewhere cool to eat—the Old Ebbitt Grill was on our way back to the parking garage!

The French Toast Breakfast Club (bacon-wrapped ham sandwich, apple compote, pecan butter, Vermont maple syrup) was DIVINE.

And then it was back to the car and off to New Jersey where we were going to be surprise guests!

Monthly international meal!

We haven’t made it to every month, but we made it to SER this month with our Tivo friends!

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Pre- date night selfies.

Finally wearing one of the necklaces Marcia bought me for my birthday! 

   

2016 USMC Birthday Ball

Lunch with friends beforehand at Succotash in National Harbor. It was DELICIOUS and we highly recommend it. (We had fried green tomatoes; pimento cheese fundido; bacon mac and cheese; collards, kimchi, and country ham; Belle’s punch and a gochujang infused bloody mary.)

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My super fancy home manicure (yeah, it’s just glitter polish):

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Us, before:

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Before & After

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And this is what it takes to get ready for the ball. :p

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A few fun pics trying to get THE PERFECT shot:

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And the best shot:

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And my favorite fun shot:

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So as we were starting to get dressed, Tom had a uniform snafu—he realized he forgot a major piece. The exchange was closest (about 45 minutes round trip)…but they were out. Home was next closest (about an hour round trip) but that wasn’t appealing, either. A few furious texts found a buddy who lived somewhat close that had extras and could bring them to him…but that took almost an hour as well! So, while he was downstairs waiting for the delivery, I was finishing getting ready and hanging out with our friends in their room and then we came back to our room to wait for Tom. Our friend Tom was having a FIT because Tom’s uniform wasn’t even prepped to start dressing…so he got everything ready for him.

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Waiting longingly for his buddy:

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The group shot without Tom:

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It was getting to be time to be seated for dinner (we’d already missed the entire cocktail hour) so Karen and I headed down while Tom waited for Tom. They made it with a few minutes to spare.

After the ceremony was over, we booked it out to the photo line while it was still short:

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Random shots of us:

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And the official photo which was emailed to us before we even left the event:

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We actually had other friends at the table (plus her parents!), but we somehow managed to go the entire night without taking a big group photo OR a photo of us with them! So, here’s one I snagged off Facebook (that I actually took on her phone):

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And lastly, to give you an idea of the scope of the event, here’s the seating chart: 288 tables of 10.

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Overall, it was a fun evening, but unfortunately, it was once again a big ol’ waste of money—we should NOT have spent the night again. Last year we had decided it had been a mistake because we didn’t NEED to spend the night—we didn’t drink enough to need to stay and we were tired and wanting to head out by 10 so we could have easily just came home. But this year we thought we’d all stay (all three couples) and have this epic night…but we were all petering out come 10:00 so we all just went our separate ways LOL. We could have actually been home by 11 and saved the $350 we spent on the room and sitter! Lesson REALLY learned. :)

When you’re just wandering at Costco on your anniversary.

Do we know how to live the high life or what?

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15th Anniversary dinner!

Our local friend Leslie gave us such a great recommendation for our anniversary dinner last year that we went back to her again. And she knocked it out of the park again with this kinda hole-in-the-wall Modern European/German place called Cosmopolitan Grill (Yelp). Unbeknownst to us when we decided to go there, they were recently voted “as one of 100 Best Bargain Restaurants by the Washingtonian Magazine as well as Young and Hungry’s 50 Best Restaurants by Washington City Paper.”

For the appetizer we had Ćevapčići With Ajvar and Onion (little sausages with a red pepper and garlic relish) and since we knew the portions were huge, we split the Stuffed Veal Schnitzel (Breaded veal schnitzel stuffed with cheese and spicy peppers, served with roasted potato). It was all very, very good and even though we split the dinner we still brought home leftovers!

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Our official anniversary date night picture, taken by Owen.

  

Dinner at Harbor Haus is now a tradition.

Tonight was our second time eating at the Harbor Haus (a 4-star Yelp-reviewed German restaurant!) so now it’s officially a tradition when we visit up here!

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  • Appetizer: Crab Stuffed Risotto Balls, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Smoked Cheese, Panko Crust (amazing—could have been our dinner in entirety)
  • Soup: Steak something-or-other (tomato-based and surprisingly delicious)
  • Entree: Mixed Grill (three seasoned and grilled shrimp with a bearnaise-type sauce, bacon-wrapped jagerwurst with a dark sauce, flank steak with a mushroom sauce, and wild mushroom risotto—DELICIOUS)
  • Dessert: Belgian Chocolate, Toasted Hazelnut & Frangelico Soufflé with Crème Anglaise

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Ahhhh. A kidless lunch!!

Tom and I had a lunch date today at a cute little place called The Secret Garden in Occoquan. (The kids were both at a play date.) The setting was, well, a secret garden (!) and we got seated right next to the waterfall. I could have sat and relaxed there all day!! The food was absolutely delicious…and we will be back!

 

Date night with friends!

We had Owen take the picture and of course Katie had to follow us out…so Owen told her to get in the picture! :) (I’m also wearing a “borrowed” Le Tote dress!)

Love these guys!

Just out of curiosity, I looked up our last couples selfie (minus the 2015 USMC Birthday Ball) and was shocked to see how close the dates were 11 years apart! (See that post.)

The boys being boys…eating their truffles. :)

And pics of the dress after we got home because I forgot to take them before:

#datenight #selfie #nokids #woohoo #thanksgrandparents

 

Black Tie Tribute to Wounded Warriors

Tom got invited to attend the annual AFCEA NOVA Black Tie Tribute to Wounded Warriors Valentine’s Ball so we made a date night of it!

It was a nice night—free dinner! drinks! dancing! prizes!—but I was freezing almost the whole time! The welcome reception was held right off the lobby so with the front doors constantly opening it was literally freezing in there—especially since I was wearing a summer dress and sandals with bare feet (my black tie formalwear is very limited). (It was supposed to be the coldest night of the year and it felt like it!) The ballroom was a bit warmer but heaven forbid you had to go back out to use the restroom!

They also had a station for free photos, but ours didn’t turn out that great—the photo printer wasn’t the best quality—but it’s a photo!

The dinner was actually quite tasty for hotel food, and the dessert was gorgeous…and delicious!

Our table only had one other couple, and we had a very enjoyable time visiting with them. This was their fourth time attending so they let us “win” the centerpiece (flowers and balloons) and then they actually even gave us one of their gift certificate door prizes they won! They had dancing after dinner so we got to dance to a few songs (which was good since we didn’t get any dances at the recent ball).

There was a photographer there taking TONS of pictures—including at least 3-4 of us specifically—so I can’t wait to see (and post) those.

Balloons on the way home!

Date night…with friends!

We generally skip celebrating Valentine’s Day, but sometimes we celebrate our day-we-started-dating day instead…which is today! Eighteen years!

We wanted to have dinner out with friends and tonight just happened to work best. They took us to a well-reviewed Korean place by their house. It has been freezing, hence my Eskimo-level parka!

Mike and Lyn

Jen and Tom

The menu was huge and confusing for us inexperienced gringos. :) We ended up ordering a “meal for two” (with lobster and a few types of bulgogi) that the waitress said would be enough for three, so we also ordered a noodle dish and a few sushi rolls. Then they brought (what we later learned were) the condiment dishes…and the cooking vessel…and we were quickly out of room on the table. And then they brought the noodles and sushi boat and the plate of raw bulgogi! We had plates stacked everywhere!

We weren’t sure what was in all the dishes—or how exactly we were supposed to use them—so we were all cautiously tasting bites of everything, laughing that everyone was probably laughing at us for eating stuff out of order. (For example, one of the platters was lettuce. And it looked like one of the dishes was a ginger-type dressing. We wondered if we were supposed to make a salad?) As it turned out, we were supposed to make lettuce wraps and all the little round dishes were things to put inside the wraps!

Korean smorgasbord

Cutting up the lobster:

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Overall we had too much food—though we managed to eat it all of course! But it was all delicious and we were glad we got to try a wide variety!