Category Archives: 213 in 2013

#39. enjoy a French brunch

I’m a bit of a Francophile. And by a bit, I mean a lot. I consider myself French though I don’t have an ounce of French blood running through my veins. But I am fluent in croissants, good wine, delicious cheese, French jazz, French art, French films and la joie de vivre.

I will be going to Paris for the third time in just 8 short weeks (this time for my honeymoon!), and as this will only be my third trip abroad, needless to say there’s just a je n’ai sais quoi about the city of light that keeps pulling me back and keeping me from seeing the rest of the world. Maybe it’s because all that is perfect and wonderful in life is found right in Paris.

One of the reasons I fell in love with D.C. was because of its resemblance to my favorite city in the world. And it’s no coincidence either! D.C. was designed with the help of famed French architect Pierre L’Enfant. Throughout the city you can find broad-sweeping city streets and sidewalks, grand and intricate building facades, all an homage to Paris. There are also a good amount of amazing French restaurants in the city, so I thought it only appropriate to take a stroll down memory lane by including “enjoy a French brunch” on my 213 in 2013 list. Why brunch? Because it’s the best meal of the day obviously.

French art adorns the walls of Bistro la Bonne.

French art adorns the walls of Bistro la Bonne.

To make checking this item off the list even sweeter, I got to go to brunch with my study abroad BFF who happened to be in town visiting for the weekend. She and I tore up the streets of Paris for four weeks, so I found it only appropriate that we reconnect at a quaint French bistro for some Sunday morning brunch.

I chose Bistro la Bonne for our rendez-vous. It was quaint, and simple, and it reminded me of any number of bistros you’d find lining the streets of Paris. I didn’t go with Le Diplomate because I wasn’t interested in Disney Paris when I was abroad, nor was I interested in it now. I just wanted authentic, honest French food, and Bistro la Bonne did not disappoint in the slightest.

I know this looks like ordinary french toast, but its actually some of the best french toast in the world.

I know this looks like ordinary french toast, but its actually some of the best french toast in the world.

For the next two hours (because time is of no issue when dining like the French do), we sucked down bellinis and caught up on life, from new jobs to new cities to old memories while dining on the most incredible french toast I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, topped with fresh berries and Chantilly cream. And we piled on more carbs with garlicky, cheesy, butter potatoes au gratin, perfectly crispy and salty pomme frites and of course, a big ol’ plate of escargot.



How about a little snail for dessert?

How about a little snail for dessert?

The food was delicious. The drinks were bottomless. The company was the crème de la crème.

Overall, it was the perfect French brunch. I can’t wait for the next one – and this time, it’ll be in Paris.

#37. & #38. father-daughter dates and paying it forward

I have been a daddy’s girl as long as I can remember. Ok, I’m a momma’s girl too (I lucked out with two super awesome parents), but my dad and I are practically the exact same person. He’s the guy who introduced me to Jules Verne and gave me my thirst for adventure and travel. He taught me how to make the perfect pancakes. Because of him, my first word as a baby was AC/DC thanks to continuous replays of Thunderstruck and Back in Black. He’s incredibly smart, creative, idealistic and one hell of a cook. I’m thankful to take after him so much.

As a teenager you go through this transition – from worshiping your parents as kids to not wanting to be in a 500 foot radius of them. Hanging out with your parents is no longer the cool thing to do, and so you replace Sunday morning breakfasts with your dad for Shady Maple trips with your best friends. Instead of staying in and watching a movie with him, you opt for boozy movie and manicure nights with your gals.

Then you hit your twenties, and you move a few states away and you realize how much you miss Sunday morning pancakes. And reciting lines from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Which is why it was so important for me to take my dad out for a father-daughter date this summer. Especially considering that the last one was 12 years ago.

Twelve years ago, I was in sitting in Ms. Lawlor’s history class. I was in 6th grade and it was my 11th birthday. We were doing presentations on the 50 states when my name was called for an early dismissal. I went down to the office and my dad was standing there with a big grin on his face. We went and saw Monsters Inc. at the local movie theater and grabbed some pizza afterwards. To this day, it is still one of my favorite birthdays and memories with my dad.

Always being one for sentimentality, I thought it would be adorable to take him to see the new Monsters University movie, to inject some nostalgia into our date. We bought tickets for a Sunday matinee showing, ordered a giant bucket of buttery popcorn and sat ourselves between dozens of other dads and their young daughters. So young their feet couldn’t even touch the ground. Before the movie started I looked around and watched as one dad fixed his little girl’s bow in her hair. She looked up at him and smiled so wide she looked like she could burst and she quickly gave him a kiss on the cheek. My dad had been watching too and we both looked at each other and smiled, remembering the days when my feet couldn’t touch the ground and he had to fix the bows in my hair too, years and years ago.

The movie was good. We both enjoyed it and even laughed a few times throughout. Afterwards, I treated him to lunch at the Olive Garden across the street and we spent the next hour talking about everything from work to weddings to favorite memories. To wrap up the day, we stopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods because he needed a new pair of work shoes. Because he spends all day making deliveries and driving a truck, a pair of good, durable work shoes always set him back at least $100. My dad is always looking out for others before himself, so I knew I wanted to do something extra nice for him. Before I knew it, I was swiping my card at the register and the look of surprise that came over his face made the dent in my credit card balance completely worth it.

A few hours later I packed up my stuff and was getting ready to leave for the 3 hour drive back to Maryland. Before I got in the car he gave me a big hug, told me how much he loved me and appreciated everything I had done for him that day, from the movie to lunch to his new shoes.

I kissed him on the cheek. And I made him pinky swear it wouldn’t be another 12 years until the next date.

My mom and dad at my recent bridal shower.

My mom and dad at my recent bridal shower.

I only wish I had known when I was 13 what I know now: that spending quality time with your dad is totally one of the “coolest” things you can do.

#36. have an awesome bridal shower

We are officially in double-digit territory folks. That’s right. There are now only 93 days left until the ‘big day’ and Mike and I are scrambling to get things together.

Two weeks ago my sister, the maid of honor in my wedding, and my bridesmaids hosted my bridal shower at my mom’s house.

After weeks and weeks of a constant barrage of texts from Rissa, telling me about all the wonderful things she had planned, I could barely contain my excitement. Thanks to Pinterest, coupled with my early-age obsession with all things wedding, I had created in my head the bridal shower of my dreams.

It would be pink. Definitely pink.

And there would be champagne. Lots of it.

And a beautiful cake.

And flowers, and delicious food and small beautiful details.

And my closet friends and family.

But then I reminded myself to be realistic and decided I’d be happy with just pizza, friends and booze.

The day before the shower, I picked up Bethany and her, Mike and I made the three hour trek to Pennsylvania. After filling up on half priced appetizers at Applebee’s, we went back to Rissa’s and crashed for the night. (I’m convinced Bethany is a saint for surviving six total hours with Mike and I in the car and having to spend an entire weekend with my friends and family).

The next morning I anxiously got ready in my new mint lace dress. I quickly blow dried my hair and scrutinized my makeup. I wanted to look like a ‘blushing bride.’ B and I grabbed some Wawa iced coffees to give ourselves the needed fuel to make it throughout the long day ahead.

Before I knew it I was receiving text after text from Rissa telling me to hurry up and come over – that it was finally time for my bridal shower to start.

We pulled up and after giving out a few hugs to those who were waiting on the front porch, Rissa walked me through the house to see everything.

And nothing – no dreamed up vision, no Pinterest board, no TLC reality TV show could have prepared me for how absolutely beautiful and amazing and perfect everything was. I was literally lost for words (which doesn’t happen often).

There was pink. Everywhere.

And champagne. Lots of it.

And the most beautiful cake I had ever seen.

And flowers. And tables full of delicious food. And so many small beautiful details I couldn’t take them all in fast enough.

And most importantly, my closest family and friends.

The beautiful spread. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The beautiful spread. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

My favorite thing: a mimosa bar. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

My favorite thing: a mimosa bar. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The cake in all her Parisian sparkly glory. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

The cake in all her Parisian sparkly glory. Photo courtesy of B. Roons.

...And my reaction to said amazing cake.

…And my reaction to said amazing cake.

By the time I made it to the back deck, my eyes were swelling up with tears because I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with how perfect everything was. It was all I had ever dreamed of and more. And  so I buried my face in Rissa’s shoulder as we both sobbed and whimpered to each other how much we loved one another. Because we’re big babies like that.

Soon to be Mrs. (Ianni)-Young.

Soon to be Mrs. (Ianni)-Young.

Mmm, mimosa. Courtesy: B. Roons.

Mmm, mimosa. Courtesy: B. Roons.

I got spoiled.

I got spoiled.

The rest of the day was filled with lots of mimosas, and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, and snapping dozens of pictures, and wrapping ourselves in toilet paper, and laughing until our stomachs ached. There were speeches. And tears. And more mimosas. And love. Lots and lots of love.

So much love I felt like I could burst.

So. much. love.

So. much. love.

The three musketeers.

The three musketeers.

Two of my favorite ladies. Photo courtesy of Bethany.

Two of my favorite ladies. Photo courtesy of Bethany.

My temple ladies.

My temple ladies.

I felt so lucky that day, looking around the room and each of those women, to call them my friends and my family. Especially my amazing bridal party for everything they did to put it together, my mom for not having a complete panic attack with all the commotion in her house, and of course, my best friend, sister, and maid of honor, Rissa for always finding a way to give me the world and more.

My amazing bridal party.

My amazing bridal party.

My best friend, sister, maid of honor. Basically, I'd be lost without her.

My best friend, sister, maid of honor. Basically, I’d be lost without her.

After everyone started trickling out and the final hugs were exchanged, the few of us that remained chowed down on pizzas. 6 large pizzas and 2 orders of breadsticks to be exact. What can I say, bridal showers will take a lot out of you.

Hungry much?

Hungry much?

Jess, Bethany, Rissa, me and the boys stayed up drinking margaritas and playing card games late into the night. It was the perfect way to end an already perfect day.

Margaritas & a game of bullshit.

Margaritas & a game of bullshit.

The next morning, everyone was slow and sluggish, still recovering from Saturday’s festivities. After more coffee, croissants and muffins, Mike, Bethany and I stuffed the gifts into the car and made the three hour drive home, with a Rita’s pit stop on the way.

My breakfast the following day, a disgustingly delicious truffle.

My breakfast the following day, a disgustingly delicious truffle.

Mike and I spent the next three hours cleaning the apartment and setting up all of our beautiful gifts, turning our place into even more of a home.

Rissa's (one of many) beautiful gift to me - a love bracelet to match with hers.

Rissa’s (one of many) beautiful gift to me – a love bracelet to match with hers.

I sprawled out across the floor, exhausted and sweaty, but happy, and closed my eyes, replaying the entire weekend in my mind again.

It really was that perfect.

Family forever, for always and no matter what.

Family forever, for always and no matter what.

Guest Post: An Ode to To-Do Lists and the Governor’s Ball Music Festival

Long time no post – sorry kiddies, I’ve been busy doing this thing called ‘planning a wedding’ and ‘having and job’ and between the two, I’m left with little free time. But, I am very excited to welcome today’s guest post from Kurie Fitzgerald. Kurie and I went to Temple together and met our freshman year. We’ve been friends ever since. Check out her awesome post about crossing off one of the big items from her 2013 ‘to-do’ list.


To-do lists are essential to my existence.

I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons Niki and I have extended our friendship beyond college, we know, and love, “to-do” things.

This year, I decided, with a bit of inspiration from this blog’s 213 and 2013 Project, to make a yearlong to do list of my own. Some highlights include taking the GRE’s (wish me luck, I’m taking them this weekend!), taking a trip to visit my college roommate in South Korea, running a 5k and attending a music festival.

I got some of the less colorful activities (like going to a financial advisor) checked off the list first so I could get out and make some memories. This past weekend I was able to make some great memories and check attending a music festival off of list. It was a weekend full of mischief, laughter and an overall unforgettable time.


The Governor’s Ball NYC is an annual three-day music festival that hosts some big-name artists and a slew of smaller acts. I loved their lineup this year, and wanted to share some of my favorite performances.


So, here goes my Governor’s Ball best of list:

Local Natives—were phenomenal. I’m like the Broken Social Scene, and Local Natives remind me of them (I implore you to listen to Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot it in the People for reference).  Breakers is my favorite song that they played:

The Best Coast—played such feel-good, chill music, despite the hellacious rain engulfing the crowd. They put on a fantastic show. Many of their lyrics are angsty, and I am not ashamed to say I relate to nearly eveyr word. Check out their song Girlfriend, and you’ll see what I mean:

Kendrick Lamar—is one my favorite artist right now. I saw him in Baltimore last year, and could not have asked for a better show, although he definitely out did himself at the Gov Ball. Some of his best music is from his older stuff, so check out Overly Dedicated first if you’re interested.


Finally, The xx. If you can, see them live. They are phenomenal, and I am sure most of the crowd felt the same way. Not much more I can say here except to listen to their music. One of my favorites is Angels:

#35. play a sport

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m the black sheep in my family. My brother was born with a football in one hand and a baseball in the other, while my sister was a young Mia Hamm in the making. My mom played softball growing up and my dad was on the wresting team.


I’m the least athletic person you’ll ever meet. I was born with two left feet and zero hand-eye coordination. I’d participate in neighborhood games of kickball and baseball but I have never, nor will ever, be the sporty type. I was much more the “creative type” that pursued dance and art, acting and poetry.

In a desperate attempt to make my family proud, I decided to join the tennis team in seventh grade. It seemed easier than baseball, there didn’t seem to be too much running involved and I really loved that the girls got to wear cute little skirts.

As the tennis team was brand new that year, and nobody really knew each other’s talent level, I elected myself as team captain. Mind you, I had never even played a game of tennis in my life.

I’ll never forget my first match, going up against the opposing school’s captain. A kid who clearly knew what the terms “love” and “fault” meant. I had spent the week leading up to the match finding the perfect navy blue tennis uniform, with crisp white visor and sneakers to match. I figured looking the part was half the battle.

Boy, was I wrong. My mom sat there clapping for me on the bleachers as I embarrassed myself over and over and over again, unable to return the ball and get a point for our team.

After the season was over, I decided I wouldn’t be going back.

Sports are completely unnatural to me. They make me wildly uncomfortable and bring out a lot of my weaknesses. Which is why I wanted to put “play a sport” on my 213 in 2013 list. Part of this entire process is about facing the things that I wouldn’t typically have the nerve to do.

It sounds so simple, right? Playing a sport that is.

Mike and I’s apartment complex has two tennis courts and rents out balls and rackets for free. With the beautiful weather over Memorial Day weekend, I thought it would be the perfect time to seize the opportunity and go out and play a game or two.

Before I turned into a grumbling grump.

Before I turned into a grumbling grump.

I threw on some oversized yoga capris and a t-shirt, put on my soaking wet (and filthy) sneakers (see my previous post about paintballing), and threw my hair up in a bun. In other words, I looked like a hot mess. But I told myself that it didn’t matter considering I was going to be running around on a court, not strutting down a catwalk.

One of the two courts was open and there were a few kids sitting on the benches around the fences. The last thing I wanted was an audience, but Mike told me I couldn’t yell at them all to go away, so I sucked it up.

After refreshing my memory on how the scoring works for tennis and getting myself in position, I served the ball. Fault.

Lots of faults.

Lots of missed balls.

I think I even tripped a few times and nearly fell on my face once. Oh and there was that time I hit the ball so hard it flew into the next court and hit someone on the head. Woops.

My shoes were bothering me so I took them off and played in my socks. But the ground was too hot from the sun, so it resulted in me jumping back and forth a lot. My hair was still wet and kept falling out of its bun into my face. My pants were too big and kept falling down. And I was out of breath and out of shape and sweating like a pig.

All the while Mike and I looked like fools as we couldn’t even hit the ball back and forth to each other more than once or twice at a time and the kids outside were snickering.

So I did whatever I do when I’m frustrated and things aren’t going as “picture-perfect” as I had planned. I threw my racket down and I quit.

And I walked away grumbling and angry and annoyed and embarrassed.

99% of my experiences for this 213 in 2013 have been positive ones. I’ve learned to relax, or let go or find more balance or happiness in the small things. But every once in a while, things don’t go as planned. And my weaknesses and my fears and my insecurities are thrown in my face and I can’t hide from them.

And I like when it happens.

I soak it all in and I take a good hard look at myself. And I think about how I can get over these insecurities to become a better person.  While it may be something as trivial as a tennis game that brought all of these emotions to light, it tapped into a much bigger issue, and that’s my problem with accepting that I can’t be perfect at everything, or even good for that matter. Or my frustration when something doesn’t come as easy to me as I want it to and instead of working hard and pushing through to learn it, I choose to quit instead.

comfort zone

I will never be an athlete. Nor do I want to be. But I hope that this experience has taught me to not give up so easily, to have fun instead of always seeking perfection and to challenge myself with things that continually put me outside of my comfort zone.

Because that’s the only way to grow.

#34. grab drinks with old friends

You will often hear people talk about high school being some of the best days of their lives. And that makes sense with all the hub bub over prom, and homecoming and “senior week” and house parties full of cheap booze.

Not for me.

Unlike 99.9% of the population, some of my best days were lived in middle school. Those three awkward years where you’re still growing into your body, sleepovers with your girlfriends are a mandatory weekend ritual and you get in trouble for things like stuffing kids into lockers, putting your friends in trashcans and flinging mashed potatoes on to the cafeteria ceiling. (Okay, maybe that was just at my middle school.)

A group of sweaty, emotional teenagers the day I left for Pennsylvania.

A group of sweaty, emotional teenagers the day I left for Pennsylvania.

I went to Godwin, a not-so-fantastic place that was rife with all sorts of problems. My middle school made it “cool” for 13-year-olds to get pregnant before any other school and there were usually 10 fights…a day. Nonetheless, in the middle of all the craziness, there was a group of nerds, (I use that term in a fond way), part of a “super smart advanced IB program.”

And in that group I found a family.

A completely dysfunctional family that laughed together, cried together and dated each other to the point where it was hard to keep track of who was dating who.

My JAU girls and best friends in middle school.

My JAU girls and best friends in middle school.

Some of my favorite memories are around that old worn gym track, where I’d have heart to hearts with my girlfriends or sneak a kiss in with my boyfriend. Or in Mr. Stoebe’s science class where I got in trouble more times than I’d like to admit for attacking him with silly string or ruining his pants because I soaked his seat with water. Or at lunchtime where my friends and I would have impromptu food fights and get banished to the cafeteria stage.

Middle school may have ended ten years ago, but thanks to the powers of Facebook I’m still able to see how everyone’s doing and what everyone’s up to. This past December, we decided we wanted to have a reunion and it was incredible. Nearly 30 people showed up, who I hadn’t seen for a decade, and we spent the night reminiscing and laughing, just like old times.

First Godwin reunion, circa December 2012.

First Godwin reunion, circa December 2012.

A smaller group of us got together again this past weekend and caught up over food and drinks, sharing stories about the “golden days of Godwin” and where life had taken all of us. From job offers at architecture firms, to people earning their master’s degrees, to others pursuing a career in politics and doing life-saving research for HIV. It was amazing to spend a few hours reliving the glory years of gold and blue and hearing about the exciting paths everyone was taking from moving to marriage.

We toasted to our dear friend Brian, who would have just turned 23. (Happy birthday again, Gomez.)

We drank and laughed until our bar tabs were outrageous (ok, maybe just mine…) and then we hugged each other goodbye until the next time.

Last weekend's get together.

Last weekend’s get together. Governors for life.

It’s crazy how there are just some people in your life, no matter the time or distance that comes between you, who will always have a special place in your heart.  A place that’s painted gold and blue, all wrapped up in silly string, gym uniforms and detention.

Cheers to all my Godwin Governors and all the wonderful things life has brought you.

#33. reach 10,000 blog views

10,000 blog views

To many people, a goal of hitting 10,000 blog views isn’t that big of a deal. In fact, there are people who get 10,000 blog views in a single day. It took me quite a few months to get here, but that doesn’t make me any less proud. Especially because I never started this blog to obtain any sort of internet fame. I don’t even feel comfortable with calling myself a “blogger” because I feel that title is reserved for people with more page views, or those that generate money, or have a large internet following because they offer amazing pictures or perfectly bulleted advice – of which I provide none of.

I write here for personal enjoyment and nothing else. Because I love writing and sharing stories and hearing from other people who share similar experiences. Which is why I am blown away that this tiny little blog, without much direction or structure, existing for the sole purpose of my own slice of happiness, received 10,000 views.

thank you

So to everyone who has stopped by and visited, even if only for a post or two, or maybe even every day – thank you for your support and thank you for reading. Thank you for your words of encouragement along the way. It means more to me than you know.

Here’s to the next 10,000!