Meet-ups, Ikea visits and a spy museum!

top secret group

Christine and me

Since I’m here in DC and I know a lot of bloggers and readers who live around here (Hi Shanee and Christine and Carrie!), we decided to organize a meet-up at a local coffee shop in Alexandria. Thanks to the tip from Kris.

skinny houses

Alexandria is such a cute neighborhood. It sort of reminded me of home, with the houses super close to each other and the coffee shops, parks and little delis all in walking distance of each other. The shop owners even give out dog treats to the patrons who have dogs which is TOTALLY just like home.

St. Elmos Coffee Pub Cheesetique

We stopped at a little cheese store called The Cheesetique. We do not have cheese stores at home, what a shame. It was such a cute little shop. Troy told me to pick out a bottle of wine to take home to their house for dinner but I was so busy chatting with my new friends and making sure Bug didn’t knock over something breakable that I got distracted and before I knew it everyone was moving on to the ice cream store down the street and I forgot about it. My loss! I could have had a thirty dollar souvenir bottle thanks to Troy. Oh well. It probably wouldn’t have packed very well in my suitcase anyway.

8 dollar chocolate

They also sold eight dollar candy bars! That’s almost as expensive as back home. Just kidding. I really liked the paper they used to wrap these candy bars. That paper alone probably cost a buck a sheet.

me in a window with cheese ice cream kid

I love discovering little neighborhoods like this and hanging out with web buddies. I know everyone thinks it’s scary to meet people off the internet but I have found that they make the best kind of friends. We so often have the same interests and same sense of humor no matter how far apart we live from each other. I know… you’re rolling your eyes at my sappiness but it really is true. That’s how I met Bethany after all. And now she’s flying me across the country to unpack her house!

IKEA Vision starsky and hutch

Which by the way is 80% done! It only required about five trips to IKEA to get there. Just kidding…only three trips, I think. We probably need to go at least two more times to return stuff that didn’t work out.

4455037791_3b9c703916

One of those trips was to meet Mamalang who couldn’t make it to our blogger meet-up in Alexandria. Ikea is such a great place to meet friends. You can stroll around and talk while your kids live it up in Småland. Bug LOVES Småland these days. I know Toby is going to kill me when I tell him I dropped Bug off at some random playland in the middle of Washington DC to be watched by complete strangers but actually Småland is super safe and you pretty much have to show your passport and a DNA test just to get your kid back.

backside of the Capital Building

The next day (I think, I’ve sort of lost count of the days) we went back to Washington DC to visit the Spy Museum that I’ve been wanting to see ever since Bethany told me about it two years ago.

Spy Museum lightpost monkeys

I was really looking forward to taking some super cool spy photos for my collection but guess what? They don’t allow photography in the museum!!!! I was bummed. But I guess it makes sense. They probably couldn’t charge as much admission if bloggers like me revealed all their secrets and there were some documents, like a real letter from George Washington, that could not survive flash photography. It was a disappointment but we still had a pretty good time. It wasn’t the most kid-friendly museum and I probably would have spent a bit more time if I didn’t have a little person exclaiming they were bored every five minutes but I’m glad I went.

The museum was divided up into several parts. Most of the parts were devoted to different times in history and the different kinds of espionage and intelligence that were used. I really liked the stories about female spies. But what stuck with me is that all the stories both fiction and non-fiction pale in comparison to reality. Because a real spy never tells their secrets. Or at least not all of them anyway.

on the stealth

Bethany and I did sneak one stealth photo from Bethany’s camera in her purse. I know, tsk tsk…but it was a spy museum after all. They were practically daring us.

spies take a peek

At least we got some cool spy eyes photos outside.

stealth ninja moves

And of course some stealth ninja moves…

Secret Garden Adventureland

this way that way radio flyers everywhere

The other day I was looking for a garden shop to visit. Something to inspire me to get started on making Bug’s birthday party invitations. For those not in the loop: Bug’s requested a “seed” party. It’s a bit odd but I like a challenge. I think I’m going to spin it in a garden direction.

I didn’t know where a local garden store was so I asked Twitter. Twitter is so wonderful. Within minutes I had two locations to visit. One of them was City Farmer’s Nursery. While it wasn’t all that helpful with my birthday party inspiration, it was a super fantastic adventure. This place is huge! And it’s right in the middle of the city! Talk about a secret find!

steep grade hill making friends

There are twisty paths everywhere and something new to discover at every turn. Everything is delightfully overgrown and decidedly unorthodox. One of their claims is that they carry the plants that big-box garden stores won’t. I believe it. I didn’t get to meet the owner but I hear from the employees that he’s quite a character. If I lived closer I could easily be inspired to buy something new and different to grow.

naughty orange snatcher fake crow

As you can see Bug had a great time. There were new friends to meet and a playground to play on. We could have stayed all day. Bug wanted to. She turned me into a regular nag trying to get her to go to the store so I could buy a seed packet to base my birthday-invitation design on. If I was more familiar with the place I would have just let her run wild but there were ponds to fall into and mud to be played in so I kept her close by me.

friendly garden cat garden cat
chickens

Cats, chickens, turkeys, turtles, fish, worms, twisting turning paths, a playground and a hundred places to hide…it’s a kids’ paradise!

talapia up

cacti

And lots of plants too, of course.

poorman's orchid succulents

coffee at Nate's Diner us

After all that adventuring, I needed a cup of coffee. Guess what?! There’s a cafe next door. How cool is that? It’s a bit of a dive but I love dives! Coffee-shop coffee might not taste gourmet but it packs a nice caffeine punch. And get this: their credit-card machine was down and I didn’t have a lot of cash so I just ordered a cup of coffee for me and some bacon for Bug. Next thing I knew, the cook came over and gave Bug a little bowl of banana slices that he said he found in the kitchen. Five minutes after that he “found” an extra pancake with butter and syrup and gave that to Bug too. It was the sweetest thing. I’m glad I did have enough cash to give him a big tip.

Not bad for a day’s adventure. Thanks for the lead Urban Housewife!