Georgetown Cupcake Pretty Much Lives Up to the Hype

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A final thing Mom and I did on her visit was check out Georgetown Cupcake. Mom has heard about them from the TLC show DC Cupcake, and from me, since I read a lot of DC area food blogs. I’d wanted to take her there when she visited in March, but there’s always way too much to do, so it got pushed til this time.

We went to the Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda Row, since it was more convenient to the hotel, and we figured there wouldn’t be a line (the lines at the flagship Georgetown location are legendary). We were wrong, though – there was a line!

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Turns out it was likely a bunch of slowbies who took a thousand years to decide what to order, because once a particular group of girls left, the line moved really quickly.

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The inside of the shop is really cute, and the cupcakes looked delicious!

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Mom and I ordered four – Vanilla and Chocolate, a Susan G Komen chocolate Pink Ribbon cupcake, Red Velvet, and Chocolate Ganache. The woman working there packed them neatly in a sweet pink box, and we were ready to go.

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We took the cupcakes back to the hotel with us for a taste test with Aunt Becky and Clare. The results:
Favorite: Red Velvet
Runner-up: Pink Ribbon cupcake (this was really close!)
We thought the chocolate frosting on the Vanilla and Chocolate was a little too strong, and the Chocolate ganache was too powerful and bitter for our tastes. But man, were the Pink Ribbon and Red Velvet cupcakes delicious! I highly recommend both, and look forward to going back to try some of their other flavors, like Lava Fudge and Salted Caramel.

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The New SIS Building

The very same Monday mentioned in the last post, Mom and I visited American University’s campus, to see where I work and study, and of course to get some AU merchandise so my family can proudly display that they have someone who attends there. 🙂 That day the parking garage under the brand-new School of International Service (the school my program’s in) had just opened, so of course we parked there.

We cautiously drove down into the depths:
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And found a creepily deserted parking garage. Hardly anyone else was parking there – I think I saw maybe one other car that wasn’t a construction vehicle.

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Brushing off the creeps, we pressed on and rode the elevators to take a look at the new building.
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It seems much bigger once you get inside!

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It’s huge – four stories altogether, and full of light. It’s a very modern design, which I love.

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The old SIS building is pretty small and cramped – it’s probably a third the size of this building, which is much too small for a school with such a large student body. The Davenport Lounge, the SIS coffee/pastry/hang out place, has been re-located to the new building, and it looks great! Very cozy.

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Also Narnia is there.

The building has a great view of the campus, and it makes full use of the view with a huge wall of windows to the buildings northeast.

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I think it’s a really great building, and I’m really looking forward to having classes there!

My Monday with Mom (or, Lauren Loves aLliteration)

While my mom was here for a visit, we were able to spend a day just the two of us (while Aunt Becky, Grandma, and Clare were out on the duck tour!). After checking out where I work, we stopped by the National Cathedral for a little bit. We parked in their parking garage and came up this bizarre elevators that deposited us outside. It was really strange, but also cool!

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The lawn of the Cathedral is really beautiful:

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We were very tempted to laze about on it, but we didn’t for two reasons: 1. Too hot! 2. Parking costs money! Mom was very displeased to learn that the parking garage at the Cathedral wasn’t free, but we decided to think of it as paying for admission, since entrance to the Cathedral doesn’t cost anything.

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We went inside the Cathedral and looked around a little, and I got scolded by someone for taking pictures during Mass. However, she only noticed me because someone else was taking pictures with flash (please, draw some more attention to yourself!) , so I was frustrated that some idiot got me caught. But then we were able to hear the Artist in Residence at the Cathedral talk about the history of the pipe organ there, which was very interesting, and then play a little bit.

After we left to meet up with the rest of the family for dinner, Mom spotted some deer by the side of the road. We pulled off to take some (very fuzzy, pretty terrible) pictures (see below), and decided that deer are a very good omen, and that they mean I’ll probably get a full-time job soon. We’ll see how that turns out. 🙂wpid-cimg8807-2010-08-23-12-45.jpg

Don’t say I didn’t tell you about the horrible picture quality!

Mosaic Game Night!

        Last Friday my church hosted a game night in our lower sanctuary. A bunch of church members came, and we played Scattergories, Blokus, and Apples-to-Apples. As you can see, we had a pretty good crowd for a small church!

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The Scattergories game is one to watch. We have some very competitive players at our church, one of whom is our very own Pastor! As you can see below, the game begins quietly.

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For those who aren’t familiar with the game, it basically goes like this – roll a die to select a letter, then use one of the game’s lists of words, writing down something that begins wth the letter for each category on the list. For instance, if the letter is “D” and the category is “Things in the Ocean” and your name is Michelle, you would write “dead bodies.” This brings us to another aspect of the game, and the one which produces the most impassioned argument – voting.

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As you can see above, if your choice is too ridiculous or far-fetched, the players get to vote on whether to accept it. This is where competitive spirits really kick in, because there is often a lot of shouting – excuse me, “loud discussion and spirited debate.” It’s not entirely objective, either. If you vote “no” on someone’s word, they’re likely to vote “no” on your word the next time you have one come up for debate, so you have to be careful.

To tell the truth, I have decided to avoid Scattergories. I am really, really competitive, to the point where it becomes a problem. It’s more enjoyable for me not to have a dog in the fight, so to speak, and just laugh at the hilarious things people try to get past the other players.

So, since I wasn’t gonna play Scattergories, I decided to try Blokus instead. It’s pretty awesome! The board is a big grid, and each player gets a bunch of pieces composed of interconnected squares that look like Tetris shapes. The game itself is kind of like reverse Tetris, since the object is to put as many of your pieces on the board as possible, but you must connect each of your pieces to each other by a corner, and only by one corner. It was challenging, but also fun! I won one game, but Lyle was the real champ and beat me a bunch of times. Below you can see some Blokus players contemplating their moves.

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I had a great time at the game night, and it was really good to get together with my fellow church members and have fun, with no structure. It would be really nice to do this more often!

This is my gym.

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Yeah, it’s awesome.
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Another Family Visit to DC

This past week I was lucky enough to have four members of my extended family come and visit me in DC. My Aunt Becky, cousin Clare, my Grandma, and my mom spent a long weekend with me. We had a lot of fun, and kept pretty busy, taking in a movie, seeing the monuments at night, visiting Mosaic Nazarene, my church, and just generally catching up.

My Aunt and Grandma stopped in town on their way from Connecticut, where my cousin lives, to Nashville. They three of them arrived in town on Friday night, after what I’ve heard was a nightmarish drive through terrible traffic. After resting up and de-stressing, I took them to Eastern Market the next morning.

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I love Eastern Market. The Eastern Market is DC’s oldest public, fresh food market, and it’s been operating for over 130 years. It’s located inside and around a building that was constructed in 1873 (which you can see on the right of the picture above). This building was nearly destroyed by a fire in 2007, but it has been totally restored and re-opened in 2009. During those two years, the market kept on operating, but in temporary quarters nearby.

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At the market you can find all sorts of fresh foods, including fish, meats and cheeses. Above you can see Aunt Becky, Clare, and Grandma deciding what to buy from the Market’s bakery. We ended up each getting a lemonade and a cookie, both of which were great on a warm day. My grandmother also bought me a beautiful pearl necklace and matching bracelet from one of the vendors. He told us that the pearls are freshwater pearls caught off the coast of China, and he’s been selling jewelry made from them at the Market for ten years now. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Eastern Market, I’d recommend this episode of the Kojo Nnamdi Show, called Eastern Market and DC’s Food Culture.

Later that day we picked up my mom from Union Station and headed out to Silver Spring for dinner and a movie. I love downtown Silver Spring – it’s a really great area to spend an afternoon or evening, since there’s so much to do in such a small, walkable area. And the fountain with tons of little kids playing in it is pretty great!

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We ate dinner at Austin Grill, mostly because it was a beautiful night and we wanted to sit outside. The food was fine, but nothing amazing, but we were really there for the company. And what company! I got to sit right next to a very charming umbrella stand, who you can see below posing with Mom.wpid-cimg8670-2010-08-16-19-30.jpg

The next night we decided to check out the monuments, figuring there would be fewer tourists on a Sunday night than a Saturday morning. We were right, although it was hardly deserted! Still, the monuments are amazing at any time of day, and I managed to get some good shots of my family.

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Above you can see Mom and Grandma posing in front of the Washington Monument. We’re actually right in front of the Lincoln Memorial, which I’d never been to before. Below is the Washington Monument as viewed from the edge of my favorite memorial, the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial.
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I like the FDR Memorial best because it’s so different. Unlike the other memorials, which are basically walk-up-and-look-at-a-statue memorials, the FDR Memorial is organized into four outdoor rooms (one for each of his four terms of office), each with different elements like waterfalls and smaller statues. It takes a while to work your way through, and it’s quite beautiful.

Because it was so late, we weren’t able to see everything, but the next day Clare, Grandma, and Aunt Becky went on a duck tour of DC. They loved being able to go into the Potomac River!

Living in DC is pretty great, because you never have to worry about planning a bunch of things for visiting family to do – the city has such a huge amount of free things to see and do that it’s basically all done for you!