For the past twenty-one years I shared my birthday with either the first day of school, or during college, Sorority Recruitment. Growing up it was always a pool party to celebrate and then going to school on my birthday. In college, it was always spent during the days of “No going out cause the Potential New Members might see you!” However, for my twenty-second I had the pleasure of spending it not at school, or sweating it out in the panhellenic suite. No, this year I got to spend my birthday at…. WORK!!!! It just seems like that’s the life of an August birthday… always sharing it with something.
Although I spent my special day sending emails, booking tours, and speaking to what seemed to be even more upset constituents than usual, my birthday was the best one yet!!! I woke up to homemade cinnamon rolls from the BEST roomie ever, Caitlin!!! She even added the nice touch of blue sprinkles. She said…
“Now I searched high and low for purple sprinkles… I couldn’t find them anywhere. So, I hope blue will do!”
My roomie knows me all too well to know that I love anything and everything purple… even sprinkles (haha). After I packed up my scrumptious goodies, I headed to Starbucks for my morning latte. To make the most important meal of the day even better, the manager at Starbucks gave me a FREE latte for my birthday!!! It was already shaping up to be an amazing morning!
I then went off to work, counting down the hours till dinner that night. No one would tell me where we were going… all a surprise. Once work was over, I met up with Ashton and we traveled to an unknown destination. FINALLY we arrived in Chinatown and headed to La Tasca, a Spanish tapas bar and one of the best “Girls Night Out” places in Washingtonian Magazine!
There all my friends were waiting!! We spent the entire evening (yes, four hours) at this restaurant, sipping on Sangria and eating our hearts out. A perfect evening for a newly 22 year old… and a “real” adult now!
We finished the evening with a surprise dessert and “Happy Birthday” sung by the servers and my friends, and special homemade Funfetti cupcakes by Sarah (the only cupcake there is!).
It was an AMAZING evening, spent with my besties here in the district! I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday and for a better way to celebrate! Thank you to all my friends here in DC, and those back in Tennessee who made it Oh So Special!!!!
Growing up Southern is a privilege, really. It’s more than where you’re born, it’s an idea and state of mind that seems imparted at birth.
It’s more than loving fried chicken, sweet tea, football, and country music. it’s being hospitable, devoted to front porches, magnolias, moon pies and coca-cola… and each other.
We don’t become Southern - we’re born that way.
One of my favorite things about being from the South is good ‘ole country music (And yes, I capitalize “South” even though that goes against AP Style rules). Country music is different than any other genre because it’s all about the soul, the words and the meaning behind the song. You don’t just magically get Taylor Swift’s biggest hit by imagination… NO, well in her case, its through experience (notice the sarcasm there lol).
Since I’ve moved to DC, I have found that many here do not know what “real” country music is or what it means to be “Southern” or “Country.” A prime example was the Brothers of the Sun Tour, with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. The atmosphere was completely different than if this concert had been in the South. I got many laughs out of seeing what people “thought” was country. Girls wearing cowboy hats tied around their necks, pigtails, overalls, cut off t-shirts with jeans and cowboy boots over them, and men wearing “We love country girls” shirts. The fashion show of northerners supplied enough entertainment for my friend Ashton and I for hours.
Now, when I found out I’d be attending this concert I immediately screamed! Finally, I would get a little taste of the south here in the district. While the district is still below the Mason Dixon line, and still has its southern tendencies… having my two favorite Southern boys Kenny and Tim pay a visit, was a special treat!
The concert lasted 7 hours and featured Jake Owen, Grace Potter, Tim McGraw and my main man, Kenny Chesney!! It was BY FAR the best country music concert I’ve been too. Below are some pictures from our amazing seats :)
My best friend Ashton and I!!! Happy Birthday to us!!!
As a child I grew up watching the movie Sound of Music. I owned the movie, watched it every time it aired on TV and knew the words to almost every song by heart. One of my favorite parts of this classic was when Julie Andrews sang the ever popular song, “My Favorite Things.” The song mentions things like raindrops on roses, brown paper packages tied up with strings, cream colored ponies, etc. While these may have been applicable to someone who lived during the era of the Sound of Music, I would not necessarily include these in mine.
There are many things in life that make me happy… family, friends, when the Steelers win the Superbowl, the VOLS actually have a winning season, etc. However, since moving to DC I have learned that not only do I love all of these things, but I have a new love… online shopping! It’s so easy, convenient and the options are endless. After a long day of work the last thing I want to do is fight the metro, long lines at the stores and rummaging through racks and racks of items. So, I have turned to online shopping and low and behold, I have found some AMAZING gems! Here are a few of MY favorite things… all found on the World Wide Web!!
J. Crew Inspired Necklaces
Now I may be shooting myself in the foot for giving away my secret, but I love the new J.Crew necklaces so much, that I want everyone else to enjoy them to! If you have seen these, you know that they run for $150 retail. Well I don’t know why anyone would want to spend that much money on a necklace, but to each their own. To recreate the overpriced masterpiece, I turned to my first online love… eBay. For anywhere from $15-60 you can find almost identical necklaces inspired by the real J.Crew Bubble Necklace.
Birds Nest iPhone Cases
These wonderful gems have been featured in Pretty Little Liars, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and on several other Bravo shows. Purchase one of these amazing cases for retail value, and they can set you back anywhere from $100-400!!! OH MY!!! But for a few minutes of online bidding and playing the waiting game, you can get a Birds Nest phone case for less than a $1!! I of course bought a purple one… shocker, I know. I absolutely love it and its such a fun way to protect your phone and still be fashionable.
Erin Condren Life Planner
Okay so there is no sparing the money on this one… but it’s worth every penny! I learned of this organizer’s dream of a website from a friend (shout out to Micah Johnson)!!! I decided to check out Erin Condren’s website and I almost had a heart attack. If you know me, you know I love organization. SO, I designed my life planner, notebook and desk-pad. The Life Planner really helps me stay organized and offers everything you need. They send your planner in a creatively designed box, and wrapped beautifully. They also included complimentary stickers and labels with your planner! I LOVE this planner and will never use anything else!!
Visit Erin Condren’s website http://www.erincondren.com/store/ and design your own Life Planner!!
Finally… Red Velvet CheeseCake Brownies
So I know this isn’t something you can purchase, but I found this AMAZING recipe online. Since this is a food blog (well for some of the time it is) I had to include a recipe. I’ve made these yummy treats for my coworkers and are a hit!! The best thing about them is that you can make them from 90% of ingredients you should already have in your pantry/fridge. See the recipe here and let me know what you think… http://sweetpeaskitchen.com/2011/02/01/red-velvet-cheesecake-brownies/
So these are a few of my favorite things!! If you’re ever bored at work, tired of spending too much time fighting the mall crowds, or want to find some of the tastiest treats, hit the web. It’s simple enough :)
A tradition dating back to the days of Senators’ Frist and Thompson, still exists within the Tennessee Senatorial offices. It is a night where both staffs of the two Tennessee Senators meet for a “friendly” game of softball. The annual Crockett Cup was held last night and is usually held every July. The staffs of Senator Alexander and Senator Corker met on the National Mall for 7 innings to determine who would bring home the shiny cup again this year.
The staff of Senator Alexander struck early, scoring 4 runs in the first inning. The Corker staff made a close come back, but in the top of the 6th, Senator Alexander’s staff pulled away with 5 runs in one inning. In the end, Senator Alexander’s staff, the “Greats” won 12-7. For a second year in a row, the Crockett Cup will remain in the front office of Senator Alexander’s welcome area.
The night was a great opportunity for both staffs to get to know each other better and enjoy a fun night of friendly competition!
I know it has been awhile since I’ve written, so lots to catch everyone up on!! The past few weeks have been extremely busy. My time has been filled with many hours in the office, work receptions, a family visit, Monday night Bachelorette viewings and nights on the town with friends.
Every day I spend in the District, the more and more I love it here. I’ve met so many people and made a whole crew of new friends.
For the first week of July, my parents and brother made the 8 hour trip to the nation’s capital. They arrived on the 4th of July and we quickly began the festivities of celebrating America’s birthday. One of my parents and brother’s FAVORITE musicians, Phillip Phillips was going to be playing at the Capitol Fourth Celebration. With that said, there was no way we were going to miss it. We braved the hottest day of the year… 110 degree temps, no wind and not a cloud in the sky. On our way to the Capitol we fought the thousands of onlookers for the Washington 4th of July parade.
This was by far the biggest parade I’ve ever seen. As we walked down Constitution avenue, we listened to marching bands from all over the country (and the world) play.
We finally made it to the West Lawn of the Capitol. There we waited for two hours in the blistering heat and sun, before finally giving up and calling it quits. BUT this wasn’t before we got to hear Phillip Phillips rehearse. The American Idol winner played his hit “Home” 5 times before we packed up and headed out.
So overall, it was worth it and no loss was had. We got to hear one of the rising stars perform (5 times) and returned to my apartment to cool off.
Later that night we headed to the roof of my apartment building for PRIME fireworks viewing. The ladies who run our building had a wonderful set up of burgers and hot dogs, and all the fixings. We ate till we couldn’t eat no more and lined up along the railing for the best seat in Washington.
Boy does the Capital know how to light up the sky!
For the rest of the week my family was here we did a lot of shopping, sightseeing and of course EATING. I took my family back to our favorite restaurant, Clyde’s. Their french onion soup is nothing like I’ve ever had before… unbelievable. I always get their crab-cakes and mashed potatoes (two starches… don’t judge me).
On Thursday night my family and I went to the Nationals vs. Orioles baseball game. After being tricked into buying horrible tickets (that was Dad’s fault for not checking the seat numbers lol), and buying my first Nats jersey, we made it to our seats two rows from the top!
Although the seats weren’t too good, the game was a blast. You couldn’t find a better baseball game than that one.
We saw a double, triple and back-to-back home runs. The Nats even came back down 5-0 to win in the final inning 6-5.
What an amazing game! I come from a sports family, so anytime we get the chance to go to a sporting event, we take it.
My mom and I also tried my NEW favorite restaurant… Phillips (are you sensing a pattern here… Phillip Phillips and a restaurant named Phillips??). We were in Baltimore for the evening and heard a lot of good things about this place.
Their menu offers a wide array of seafood options, from fish to crab anything, they have anything you could possibly want out of the ocean. However, it comes at a price. The place is nice… offers a piano man in the bar area, but the atmosphere doesn’t coincide with the hefty bill that comes in the end. Even though I say that, don’t let the price tag stop you. The food is WORTH EVERY PENNY!!! My mother and I ordered several appetizers… the Spinach and Crab dip and the steamed jumbo shrimp. Now if you know me well, you know I LOVE seafood. I don’t dislike any kind of shell fish (well maybe Oysters… funny considering my last name). Both apps were wonderful and the jumbo shrimp was some of the biggest I’ve ever seen.
When we returned to Washington DC I thought it would be a long time before I made it back to this new favorite eatery of mine. To my surprise, there is a Phillips in DC… not too far from my house! I plan to eat there again and next time order an entree… and will be prepared to fork out the doe.
Overall it was a great visit and always nice to see the family. Through our many arguments deciding what to do, where to eat, etc., the one thing I can say is that its never a dull moment in the Royster household… and that’s what I love! I wouldn’t trade my family for the world and I am already counting down the days till I go home in September to visit!!
XoXo - Kristyn
So I’m sitting here in my office, on a hot and humid Thursday afternoon. The air is muggy and the heat index is well over 100 degrees. The weather here in the District is just as wishy-washy as it is in Knoxville. Today in particular, the heat isn’t the only thing that has people boiling. The Supreme Court of the United States made its ruling today on Obamacare. The anticipation was unnerving and many news outlets posted up outside of the Supreme Court.
As far as the eye could see there were cameras, tripods, lights, and some of America’s most famous news anchors.
Leading up to the decision, the office was quiet and anticipation was high. The verdict came at around 10:17 a.m. this morning. Within minutes my Twitter feed was blowing up and the phones began ringing off the hook. Whether you agree with the ruling or not, it was a historic vote and day for our country. Another important vote was held today in the House. The majorly Republican House voted to hold the Attorney General, Eric Holder in contempt. Both of these votes are very important when it comes to the direction this country is heading. It is a historic time to be in this city, for sure.
This past weekend I decided to venture out of the District and back to one of my favorite cities, New York. It had been a year since I’d been in the city and I was itching to get back. It was a quick trip, spending most of my time on the Vamoose bus. The one good thing about the bus ride was that I had a friend. I’ve traveled many times by myself, but having someone to talk to makes the 8 hour bus ride more enjoyable.
During my trip to the Big Apple, I went to one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen… the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
I was convinced this was a Gay Pride event, however my friends assured me it was not. This year was the 30th anniversary of the parade and it was quite the show. I have never seen so much nudity and “what were people thinking” outfits in my life. The parade is about three hours long and consists of anyone and everyone who is willing to create the tackiest costume and wear the least amount of clothing. I could not WAIT to get out of there.
While in New York I also did the normal, eating out, shopping, sightseeing and touristy things. My favorite part was seeing the 9/11 memorial. It is absolutely breathtaking and a humbling experience for sure.
The trip was quick and fun, but I was glad to be back in the District. Even though I’ve only lived in DC a few short months, I absolutely love it here. It has definitely moved into first place of my favorite cities.
This past week was busy, but I did have some time to take in some fun and good food. One of the first things I had to do when I got to the District was find a good Chinese takeout place. It wasn’t too long before I found, Fusion. Takeout is something I live by up here, and Chinese food and TV has become my Tuesday night tradition.
On Thursday my friends and I went to the Congressional Baseball Game.
Its a Capitol Hill tradition.. a battle between the Dems and GOP. Tennessee had our own representative, Chuck Fleischmann play. He wore a #3 Tennessee Volunteers jersey. Way to represent the Vols Mr. Rep!!
Looking forward to this weekend, I plan to park my butt by the pool. It’s going to be yet another hot weekend. Next week my parents and brother come to visit. I cannot WAIT to see them!! Till next time….
XoXO - Kristyn
After what seemed to be the longest day of my life (which is very ironic since it so happens to be summer solstice and the longest day of the year, ha), I am home enjoying a relaxing evening of West Wing reruns and surfing the Internet. Sounds like a typical evening for a young professional. The past few days have been extremely long and extremely tiring. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job but that doesn’t mean there won’t be hard days. I never try to leave a situation on a negative note, so to end my days I try to forget the struggles of the day and tell myself that tomorrow is a clean slate. This mindset helps make even the hardest days end well.
For the past few weeks, I have spoken to hundreds of constituents from the state of Tennessee. While some calls may be hard, it’s really good to see that there are people out there who really care about the state of our country and where it’s heading. I really get to see the passion that Tennesseans have for their state and country, and their respective hometowns. Tennessee is the greatest state in the nation (okay so I may be a little biased) and I am so proud to represent my Volunteer state here in Washington.
Now D.C. has not been all work and no play. I’ve had some really fun things happen within the past few weeks. This past weekend especially was filled with baseball, sightseeing and plenty of relaxation.
Friday night I went to the Yankees vs. Nationals baseball game. It was almost impossible to get tickets and definitely one of the biggest series hosted by the Nationals. All three of the games were sold out. The only way to get in was to either pay a ridiculous amount of money scalping (and no one wants to get in that mess, although I am a very good haggler when it comes to reducing the price, ha), or you could buy a standing room ticket. These tickets weren’t cheap, but still offered you the chance to see the game. We had to stand in the porch area at the end of the backfield, but it wasn’t bad at all. The porch actually offered great views and a fun environment. Unfortunately the Nats lost and the series was a shutout, but all in all it was great fun and the Nats are still seeded really high!
Saturday I had a little surprise and my friend Aaron came to visit. It was nice to see a familiar face. Aaron and I spent the entire day being tourists for a day. I took him on a tour of the Capitol (well attempted to… he knew more history about the Capitol than I did, ha! It was great to have someone teach me for a change). We then walked to the Museum of Natural History, ate dinner at my favorite restaurant Clydes and ended the night visiting the White House and the Washington Monument. Aaron was so excited to be in the Nation’s Capital, and I had a blast showing a friend around my new home!
Now, I look forward to this coming weekend where I am FINALLY taking a weekend trip to New York City!!!!! It has been a year since I’ve been to the Big Apple and I cannot wait to be back! I’ll be sure to post next week all about my trip.
At this point you may be wondering why I haven’t written much about food, ha, but for this post I’m going to spare you from a rumbling stomach and the mouth watering details of some very yummy places I’ve eaten. However, next time rest assure there will be plenty of food talk for you to devour!
XoXo – Kristyn
It has been about a month now since the big move to D.C. and these past few weeks have just been a whirlwind…. literally non-stop, but I love it. Other than work of course, I have spent many of my evenings and weekends eating out, nights on the town and by the pool. Yes, that’s right… my new home has a pool! I would say that’s probably my favorite aspect of living here.
One of the most fun things I’ve done so far has been a night spent at the Washington National’s ballpark. I live a block away from the stadium (it’s nice to sit out on the balcony and listen to the games and watch the crowds go by). My bestie Ashton and I went to the Braves/Nationals game, which was followed by the Big & Rich concert. We were able to sit in a box while at the game… something I’ve always wanted to do. You could tell I either don’t get out much or am just very sheltered, because I was taking pics every second while we were there. It was cool to cheer on my favorite team and watch one of our favorite country bands play, all while sitting in a suite!
Now you may be wondering… what is it that I am doing here in D.C.?! I’m not just up here to have a good time, but to work as well. I’ve had a lot of people ask about my job, but without delving into too many details, I work on Capitol Hill.
The basic aspects of my job entail booking tours for constituents, preparing flags to be flown over the Capitol (and yes I have had an intern ask, and no flags are not flown over the Capitol via a plane… they are flown on a flag pole and are in honor of military men and women, Boy Scouts, etc., really anyone who wants a flag flown can have it done), greeting guests in the front office and speaking with constituents over the phone. Everyday I have the chance to work with people from Tennessee, and it’s an absolute joy and honor to be representing such a great Senator and state.
I have mentioned that I spend many nights out, eating at various D.C. locals. My pick for this week is Vapiano’s… an Italian restaurant in Chinatown. Vapiano’s is unlike any place I’ve ever been before. It’s not a typical family style restaurant where you sit down and are waited on. When you walk in, you may be confused when they hand you what appears to look like a credit card. Everything you purchase is added to this card, and once you’re finished you simply pay off your debt.
You can first go to the bar (if you want to) and grab a glass of wine or a drink. The bartender simply swipes the card, adding the price to your total. You then grab a seat and peruse the menu. Once you decide what you want, you can walk up to any counter and watch the chef make your meal right in front of you.
Vapiano’s food is amazing (and that’s even an understatement). They have all sorts of items to choose from… whether you like pasta, anti-pasta, pizza, salads or sandwiches, their menu offers a wide array of options. This restaurant is perfect for a happy hour with coworkers, quick bite to eat or dinner with friends. It’s especially great for large groups since most places in the city do not split checks. With the card option, you only have to worry about paying for what ‘you’ eat! Vapiano’s is a must eat while in D.C.
Eating and drinking are two things people up here know how to do. And it’s something you have to get used to, unless you’ve been a freshman in College… then you understand. I am definitely re-living the days of possible “freshman 15,” but the great thing is you walk pretty much everywhere you go around here. So eating as much as I have, is possible. Eating lots of food… no exercising… and spending time with friends sounds like a good deal to me.
Till next time… XoXo - Kristyn
Its been almost a month since we packeded up the U-Haul, drove 8 hours and unpacked my new life here in D.C. It still feels like I’m just visiting or that I’m here only for the summer. I feel like I should be doing something for my sorority, prepare for recruitment or make sure my tuition has been paid. It’s surreal to think my life will no longer include college or related activities… in better words, I am a big kid now.
My wardrobe will no longer consist of norts and a T, my Monday nights will never more be spent at Panhellenic, and I can no longer decide to just skip class when I’m tired in the mornings. Yes, the real world is drastically different than college… go figure. However, that doesn’t mean the real world isn’t a great place to be.
My new life… that is the life of a working woman… is even better than expected. I was more than happy to be done with school, but less than thrilled to leave college forever. BUT, the real world has proved me wrong. It is a world where I come home at 6 every night, and don’t have homework or hundreds of things on my to-do list. It is a world filled with after work events and receptions, and free food events. It is a world where I can go out on the weekends and don’t have to wake up early to do homework or study for a test. It’s also a world where I can dress up everyday, and actually look like a lady. AND, the best part of all… you get PAID!!!!!!!! Yes, this world involves making money and actually having the funds to finance my love for clothes, eating out and going to fun events.
Yes, I have come to the realization that the real world isn’t that bad after all. I absolutely love D.C. so far. It’s definitely the place to be right out of college. Most people who live in the District are fairly fresh college graduates. One of the first nights here I went to a birthday party with my new roomie (who is just great by the way). I fully expected a small get-together, with wine and hors d’oeuvres, and intellectual collegiate grads conversing about their political thoughts and days spent on the Hill. Boy was I proven wrong!! Things up here are just like college… but even better. Now I don’t want to get into too many details, but all I can say is I think I’m going to really like this place ;).
Another aspect I’ve loved about D.C. is the great food, restaurants, pubs and bakeries. The district is known for its food. Since moving in, I’ve tried some of the best pasta I’ve ever had, homemade pop-tarts, a PB&J Cheeseburger, and Chinese food that would put even New York’s best to shame. This is all saying something, especially since I spent an entire summer in the food capital of the world, NYC. D.C. definitely knows its stuff when it comes to great food.
One of my favorite places so far has been Open City.
Its an open air restaurant, perfect for brunch or a quick bite to eat with friends. Located in Woodley Park, it’s a little out of the way from where I live but definitely worth the trek. They offer an “all day breakfast menu,” as well as burgers and sandwiches. Probably one of the best burgers you will have. They also offer a wide variety of baked goods and coffee/tea options. I loved the outdoor atmosphere and the quick service.
Open City isn’t the only place I’ve loved. In another post I’ll talk about Ted’s Bulletin, Vapianos and Clyde’s (arguably the best French Onion soup around).
Other than spending a mass amount of money on food, I’ve done a little sightseeing to Arlington Cemetery and of course the Capitol. It’s still unfathomable to me that I live and work in the Nation’s Capital. I walk past the Capitol building every morning on my way to work, and am still in awe of it. The district is the birthplace of this country… where America’s greatest men and women have fought for our rights and politicians who have guided our country. I am so thankful and honored to live in this historic town. I cannot wait to share more with you all. For now, it’s back to work!!
XoXo - Kristyn