Hi! I am back from a slightly unintentional blog break. My old MacBook Pro was seven years old, and while we had a great run, it was really slowing down. So, I decided to send it into Apple’s Trade-In Program to get a gift card for its value to use towards a new MacBook. It was really easy: they send you a box with a return label, you ship it to them, they send you a gift card for its value, and then they recycle it. (They take non-Apple devices too—you likely won’t get any money, but it’s a great way to safely recycle old computers, phones, and tablets lying around your house!)
Luckily for me, right before I was about to purchase a new computer, they announced the new MacBook Airs. I purchased a gold one and it is so lightweight and gorgeous! The one downside of ordering the new model was that there were some shipping delays—I had to wait about two weeks for it to arrive. Luckily, I had my work computer if I needed to do anything critical in my personal life, but I didn’t want to do anything for TOT on it. Now that my new MacBook Air is up and running, I have a long list of posts I want to get up soon for you guys—including a gift guide (even though I know most of you have probably already done your shopping)!
It’s been a while since I did a life lately post and I thought it’d be a good way to give y’all a smattering of updates from what’s been going on with me over the past month or so. Starting with…
I TURNED 30! /
If you had asked me in 2019 how I would have spent my 30th birthday, I would have told you I wanted to spend it on a beach in Mexico with my friends. That obviously didn’t happen—at this point, we all will endure a pandemic birthday—but despite no sand, no surf, and no bottomless margaritas, I had the best birthday yet. I truly felt so loved and celebrated and it makes me want to be better at showing up for my friends and family on their birthdays, too.
My actual birthday, November 15, fell on a Sunday this year, so I started the celebrations a little bit early. I took Friday off of work, slept in, and went out for Mexican for lunch with my mom. Friday evening, I went to Soul Cycle in Union Market and rode a class outdoors—this was my first time back on the bike since March, and I missed it so, so much. The class was done “silent disco” style, so everyone had headphones where they could hear the instructor and music. I felt very safe—the bikes were 10 feet apart, and since I went to class at 7:30pm on a Friday, there were just eight or nine other riders. I was probably 30 feet away from everyone else. The activation is running through December 31, so if you’re in DC and also need your Soul Cycle fix, I’d definitely recommend it!
On Saturday, I had a small birthday celebration with three of my closest friends, my sister, and my cousin at Walsh Family Wine out in Loudoun County. It was the perfect day. I had been to Walsh once before and I chose it because I really enjoyed their wine and the laid back, welcoming atmosphere. I booked a reservation for six online for 12-2:30pm. The original plan was to head to Sunset Hills or Hillsborough after our reservation ended since both wineries are nearby and don’t require reservations since they both have more land, making it easy for patrons to picnic and spread out. Because they didn’t “sell out” reservations for the second reservation slot, 2:30-5pm, we were allowed to stay the whole day, which worked out so nicely. We grabbed a table on the patio near their outdoor fireplace since we had a ton of snacks and sweets, but they also had barrels of hay set up on their lawn, each with their own individual fire pit. It was the perfect fall day—in the 50s, but with no wind. We literally closed the place down and had a great afternoon of conversation, laughs, and lots of wine. I have the best friends and family, and they made my pandemic 30th birthday party one for the books.
After we left the vineyard, a few of us went back to my sister’s apartment in Arlington, ordered Chinese food, and watched holiday movies. It was the perfect end to such a perfect day.
On my actual birthday, I woke up and nursed a hangover with my favorite breakfast and the mimosas my team from work had delivered to my house—which was SO thoughtful. I watched Home Alone and took a nap, and then for dinner, my sister, my cousin, and I went over to my parents house for dinner. My mom cooked my favorite meals—cajun meatloaf, lemon basil carrots, and a potato casserole—and got me a supermarket cake for dessert. (I love supermarket cake! In college, our tradition was to get everyone a Kroger cake.) It was the perfect way to wrap up a very special birthday weekend.
Here’s to my 40th in Mexico! ;]
I LEASED A MAZDA CX-5! /
If you follow me over on Instagram, you know I was car shopping. It truly is my least favorite kind of shopping—but I am really lucky that my Dad has bought his fair share of cars over the years and was willing to help me out during the process! The weekend before Thanksgiving, we went and test drove some cars in Fairfax City (which made it easy since all the dealerships are pretty much right next to each other).
Before moving to DC, I drove a Honda Civic, which I loved! When I moved to DC, my rent increased—and the parking in my building was $300 a month, a huge increase from the $50 a month I was paying in Arlington. So, I decided to ditch the car and rely solely on walking, public transportation, and Uber. Truthfully, I really didn’t miss having a car that much, until the pandemic happened. Part of the appeal of moving back to Arlington, in addition to having more living space, was that my rent would be less and I could channel those savings into a car payment. I am so, so happy with my decision to do this!
Since I had driven a Honda prior—we’re all Honda loyalists in the Urban household—that was the dealership we started with. I knew I wanted a smaller SUV/crossover vehicle instead of a sedan this go-around, so, to start, I test drove the Honda HR-V and really liked it! It was so easy to drive and all of the buttons and infotainment system pretty much matched my old Civic, so it felt really familiar. I also casually looked at the CR-V, but truthfully, I liked how the HR-V looked a little bit better, so that was the model I honed in on at Honda.
After our time at Honda, we went down the street to Mazda and test drove the CX-5, the SUV I had my eye on from the start, and the CX-30. I really liked the CX-5, but was a little bit nervous about how big of a vehicle it was compared to what I was used to driving. We were not huge fans of the CX-30—it felt a little too squished for our liking, and also wasn’t the smoothest drive. The day we went into the dealer, they were super busy, so I also didn’t get a great overview of all the features of the CX-5 and it was less familiar to me than the Honda HR-V was.
When we were finishing up our last test drive of the day, I asked my dad, “what do we do now?” And he replied, “we go drinking.” So we went to our favorite sports bar in Fairfax City, PJ Skidoos, for a few rounds. That was, by far, the best part of car shopping, hah!
After that first day of test driving, I was really torn about which vehicle I wanted to move forward with. I liked the Honda HR-V more than I anticipated, which really threw me for a loop, and I also felt like I didn’t get the full scoop on the CX-5. So, I spent the evening watching 20-30 minute long YouTube reviews of both SUVs—it was soooooo helpful, and if you’re in the market for a car, I would definitely recommend doing the same. These experts show you what every button and cool feature do and have more time to do so than the salesperson at the dealer.
So with more research under my belt, I went back the next day to test drive the CX-5 again, and my experience was so much better—the salesperson took the time to explain the vehicle features to me and I also had more research under my belt. I spent the next few days making sure I was confident in my decision and then my dad and I worked on negotiating with a few different dealers.
For a while, it looked like the CX-5 might be out of my budget since several dealers had hidden fees—$3,000 worth at one dealer!—they sprung on you last minute. But luckily, the initial dealer we test drove at was able to make some Black Friday magic happen and I was able to get the CX-5 at a great deal within my budget. Once we had a deal, all that was left to do was sign all the paperwork (and there’s a lot!), but then it was mine to drive off the lot. The car buying process is so emotionally draining and lacks transparency, so I am so glad my dad was able to help me navigate everything since this was the first time it was solely my name and money on the registration and financing.
I’ve had the CX-5 for a little over a week now, and it’s been so much fun to drive—and even more fun to be able to run a quick random errand to Target without it being a huge ordeal. I really missed having the freedom a car offers and consider myself really lucky that I had the financial means to make this happen.
DECKING THE HALLS /
When I lived in Arlington the first time, I had a huge, eight foot faux Christmas tree. I decorated it every year and really enjoyed doing it—my old roommate also loved it and so it was something I was happy to do to contribute to making our apartment feel a little festive. When I moved to DC, I donated that tree—350SF and an eight foot Christmas tree don’t really mix. So, for the last few years, I’ve skipped out on a Christmas tree and just enjoyed the string lights on my faux fiddle leaf fig.
I wasn’t planning on getting a tree this year for my Arlington apartment—it just seemed like too much work. But a few nights ago, I stopped by Whole Foods to pick up some ingredients to make dinner. Outside, they had rows and rows of their mini Christmas trees, and on impulse, I decided to buy one. It was only $17 and comes with a stand and water bowl attached—I think it’s a great deal! I picked up a few strands of string lights at Target and threw my favorite buffalo check blanket around the bottom as a tree skirt. I still need to decorate it with some ornaments, but so far, it has brought me so much joy and I am really glad I decided to buy one! If you live alone or have a small place, it really is the perfect size.
Along with some garland I have on the dresser in my living room, several bowls of ornaments, some decorative reindeer, the aforementioned lit faux fiddle leaf fig, and plenty of balsam fir candles, my apartment feels SO festive and I am loving it. I had my sister over last night for a little champagne happy hour and we threw on the fake fireplace and enjoyed a playlist of the Christmas classics—Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra. It was heaven!
I’m bummed that the pandemic is impacting this holiday season—it usually is my favorite time of year to celebrate with family and friends. But, it really makes it the perfect year to go all out with decorating since we are home so much more to enjoy it. It’s true what they say—the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door.
ORDERING HELLOFRESH AGAIN /
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I am not a huge cook! When I went to the office everyday, we had an amazing cafeteria that offered lunch between $4-6 and I either went to happy hour or grabbed fast casual for most dinners. Since the pandemic, I have been trying to cook at home more—especially now that I have a larger kitchen—but was in a little bit of a recipe rut. So I decided to give HelloFresh another try and am so glad I did. I’ve been doing it about once a month and have loved having everything I need to create a delicious meal delivered to my doorstep.
You can get $40 off your first box when you use my link—I can’t recommend it enough! And, with your box, they send really nice recipe cards so once you find a recipe you like, it’s easy to recreate it at home.
That’s a look at my life lately! I hope you all have a great weekend! x