The Corner Gym

One of my favorite things about spring and late summer/early fall is the workout guys. There’s a group of men who use a street corner as their own personal gym, complete with a punching bag, super-push up handles, and the street light for pull-ups. It’s basically awesome!


Of course, they’re not outside any more, since it’s too cold, but I thought a look back to warmer weather would be nice.

Georgetown Cupcake 2

About a thousand years ago (and by that I mean a couple months), some friends and I headed down to Georgetown to visit the flagship Georgetown Cupcake.


The line was much longer than the line at the Bethesda location, but it moved pretty quickly.


An employee came by to pass out menus during our wait, which was thoughtful.


Once we got inside, the ordering went pretty quickly (thanks no doubt to having had time to peruse the menu while in line).


I got three cupcakes – caramel apple, chocolate2, and teal velvet (red velvet dyed teal for cancer awareness). They looked lovely, as always.


Cupcakes acquired, we headed to dinner at TGI Friday’s. After eating we tried our cupcakes.


Overall, we loved them! The cupcakes were pronounced delicious by all. Here are the more detailed reviews I gathered from my pals:

Chocolate Ganache Cupcake – “Bitter yet sweet treat – completely chocolate, completely delicious.” -Michelle

Banana Honey – “Like a sweet, creamy banana bread that just melts in your mouth and makes your glands water.” -Shadaye

Caramel Apple – Authentic caramel apple taste, like the caramel in the center; tastes like an apple muffin with caramelly frosting; “Good, sweet but not too sweet, not too strong.” -Maria

Cinnamon – “Fantastic!” -Anna

Toffee Crunch – “Yummy in my tummy, I love you Lauren” – Sarah (quoted verbatim as requested!)

Chocolate Mint – preferred to toffee crunch by Sarah – “Perfect ration of mint to chocolate”

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Weird Elmo

Driving down the road recently, I passed a daycare center that had paintings of children’s characters on the windows. They were easily recognizable, and it was only after looking at them for a while that I began to see some oddities. Best example: good ol’ triangle-leg Elmo:


Weekend in Wytheville

A few weeks ago my mom called me up and said “Lauren, let’s hang out this weekend!” I said, “Okay. What?” Then she explained that she wanted to meet me halfway between DC and Nashville, which sounded great to me, until we learned that halfway would end up being Wytheville, Virginia. Wytheville has a dark history in our family, dating back to the very first day I arrived in DC.

My dad drove to DC with me, but had to come back to Nashville the same day that we arrived. He took the Greyhound bus, which was going to take thirteen hours to get back to Nashville. When the bus stopped in Wytheville, my dad got out to charge his cell phone. About five minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave, he headed out to board it, only to find out that it was gone! The bus had not only left early, but also without announcing that they were leaving, stranding my dad in Wytheville Virginia, six hours from Nashville! He spent hours on the phone before finding a rental car company in Wytheville that would rent him a car for a one-way trip.

So, we were reluctant to take a family vacation in a place that had such strong negative emotions associated with it, but we decided to press forward. Mom looked on the internet and found a bunch of outdoors things to do, and we were set.

First we decided to check out the Cascades Falls in Pembroke. On the way there we stopped at a restaurant called Friends and Family Restaurant to eat lunch.


They were a yummy meat-and-three, and we were all pleased with our food. I had a really good patty melt and onion rings, Dad had an open-faced roast beef sandwich, Mom got country-fried steak, and Daniel got something that I can’t remember.


The food was all very tasty, but the most interesting thing we got was deep-fried bacon. Yes, you read that right – fried bacon! It came with gravy and syrup for dipping, and we were really excited to try it.


When I tried a piece, however, I could almost feel the grease clogging up my arteries! It was really intensely unhealthy tasting, but Daniel really liked it. He ate almost all of it by himself.

After fueling up we headed over to the falls. It was a four-mile round-trip hike, uphill the entire route to the falls. When we finally arrived at the falls, they were quite nice!


The hike itself was tiring, but the fall leaves were turning colors very prettily, which made the walk beautiful.


After visiting the Cascades we headed to West Virginia to Pinnacle Rock. Pinnacle Rock is basically a giant rock with stairs in the side that you can climb up.


From the top you get a great view of the Pinnacle Rock Park valley.


To complete the trifecta of walking-up-really-tall-things/long-hills, the next day we headed over to Big Walker Lookout, the self-proclaimed highest man-made sightseeing spot in Virginia.


Here’s a picture of Mom that I took from the top of the tower:


As you can see, it’s very tall – Dad counted 202 steps total! Looking out over the countryside from that height was really fantastic – we could see for miles around.



After taking a bunch of pictures, and buying some fudge, we headed back toward Wytheville for our last stop – a pumpkin farm! We visited Williams Orchard to pick out some pumpkins, squash, and other fall vegetables.


The farm was really sweet – they had honey, apple butter, apples, flowers, pumpkins, squash, and more.


After picking out our items and paying, we ate a (very) quick lunch and hit the road. We left Wytheville pretty late, and I was really worried I’d get locked out of Centro Maria, but I ended up getting back in plenty of time. It was a fantastic, relaxing, and fun weekend, and I’m really grateful to Mom for thinking it up.

Second Annual Chili Cook-off

Once again, Mosaic Church celebrated All Saints’ Day with a Chili Cook-off! Eleven people made their best chili, and brought it the church for tasting.


Church members lined up to try the chilis, spooning samples into little cups.


The little cups were a great idea! Last year we just had regular-sized bowls, which meant that people who wanted to try a little of all the chilis had to juggle a dozen bowls at once. The little cups made it much easier to try all the entries!

After loading our plates/cups, we all sat down to dig in.


Once we were eating, the hard work began – deciding which chili we liked best! After making our choice, we put our ballots into the ballot bowl:


Next, it was time for the vote counting:


Once the votes were counted, Pastor Rob and Amanda announced the winners.


This year, there was a tie – two people won first place! Luckily we had two trophies!

I was thinking today that, since this coming Sunday is Ledo’s Sunday, there will have been almost an entire month during which our church ate Sunday lunch together, with only one week without an all-church activity. This kind of purposeful community-building is something I really appreciate about Mosaic.

Pumpkin Picking at Larriland Farm

Saturday a bunch of Centro Maria residents headed out to Woodbine, Maryland to get some pumpkins at Larriland Farm. After the hour drive, we were really happy to arrive!


We stopped in at the main farm first, where the food, store, and hay maze for the kids was loacted.


The farm was decorated for fall, with giant pumpkins, all kinds of squash, and ghosts and witches and other Halloweeny things.


We were hungry, so we headed over to the concession stand and got some barbecue, some delicious cornbread, and other assorted grilled foods.


After eating, we shopped at the farm’s store. Some of us bought cider, some apple butter, some pumpkin butter, but almost all of us bought fudge!


After making our purchases we headed across the street to pick our pumpkins at the pumpkin patch! There were thousands of pumpkins to choose from, and all of us found pumpkins we liked. The pumpkin I chose was still attached to the vine, so I got to cut it off myself – very fun!


After weighing and paying for our pumpkins, we hit the road and headed back to Centro Maria. I had so much fun, I almost didn’t feel sad about them not having a petting zoo!

Ledo’s Sundays at Mosaic

One thing my church does that I really love is Ledo’s Sundays. The first Sunday of every month, the entire church (whoever wants to, that is) gets together at Ledo’s Pizza to eat lunch together. It’s often loud, and always fun. Unfortunately for me, I despise tomatoes, so pizza is not very appetizing to me. I’ve been trying different things on the menu, trying to see what I like, and last time I struck gold with the chicken tenders and caesar salad. It was just right!


This past Ledo’s Sunday was the weekend my family was in town, so they all came and had a great time getting to know my pastor and other church members (you can see Clare and the top of my mom and Aunt Becky’s head in the picture). I think that events like game night and Ledo’s Sunday, where everyone is welcome, really help to strengthen the relationships between us, and build a strong community.