Let’s go to Paris.

Tomorrow I am celebrating July 4th by hopping on a plane and heading to Paris for a month.Paris _3

Ok, so actually tickets are just really cheap if you fly out of the United States on the night of the 4th. Y’all know that I love July  4th more than just about anything, and the the only thing that can pry me away from it is Paris. I promise to be a good American and eat some red, white, and blue pancakes or something in the morning.

When I applied for a grant last fall to spend some time in France this summer, we didn’t know all that would be happening in our lives. We felt sad that I would be away from James for a chunk of the summer, but both of us felt that it was a really important opportunity for me professionally. I cannot emphasize enough how blessed I am to be married to someone who takes my career way more seriously than I do, urging me on to go for things and chase after difficult decisions, even if it meant that he would be wife-less in hot DC while I spent a month on Europe. When we found out that James would also be away most of the summer, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I will spend this time away from him in Paris. Paris might just be the best place imaginable to be away from someone you love because, well, it’s Paris. If you asked me, it’s one of the best places ever for just about anything.France_2

When you love Paris, you can’t help but love reading about other people coming to understand this city. If you want to take a little Paris trip this summer, I suggest some of the following books where people explore Paris from every angle.

If you love history..

  • The Seven Ages of Paris, Alistair Horne. Did you know you can trace the entire history of France throught the various ages and stages of Paris? Yes, yes you can. And you should. This one is pretty dense, but I love Paris’ crazy history. It is equal parts thriller, history, and spicy epic.
  • Is Paris Burning? Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. You guys, every bridge and monument in Paris was wired with explosives to be destroyed during WWII. It was only because of a general who just couldn’t bring himself to destroy it that we still get to enjoy Paris today. Read the full story in this book, and have the nervous sweats the whole time because of what could have been.

Jenny's visit_102If you like people trying to understand Parisians and the French…

  • Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik. Essays and stories about Paris that range from poetic, to hilarious, to emotional. Gopnik’s love of Paris is so intense that you can’t help but get swept up. Also, his analysis of the World Cup is perfect and why Americans hate soccer is perfect. All of the quotes in this post are from him and I got to the point where I was dog-earing so many pages that reading the book was difficult.
  • Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow. This one was given to me by an ex-pat who has been in Paris for a long time. She told me to read it because the authors just get what makes the French French and I couldn’t agree more. It is more of a socio-psychological approach with lots of research and analysis, but so, so good.

Paris2011_213If you just want stories of people trying to make Paris their home…

  • Almost French, Sarah Turnbull. It is almost endearing to read a memoir of someone who hated Paris as first. For those of us who have made any sort of misstep in trying to navigate Parisian culture (and if you haven’t, you’re lying or naïve), the story of this rougher transition is perfect.
  • My Life in France, Julie Child. Yes, this is a memoir about much more than just living in Paris. But at its core, her story is one of how being in Paris changed her life, and inspired her to dream bold dreams.

juin_56I went through all my old pictures from various times in Paris to select some images for this post and it just made me more excited about all the beauty awaiting me on the other side of the pond. If you are interested in seeing a lot of Paris pictures over the next month, feel free to follow along on Instagram @hannahkatherinew. I promise I won’t be offended when you un-follow me in August when I am back to sharing pictures of my brunch.Paris2011_206Any other good Paris memoirs that I need to add to my ever-growing list?

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These sorts of goodbyes.


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This past weekend I threw a goodbye party for one of my dearest DC friends. We met Brooke through mutual friends about 2 years ago, and she started carpooling to church with us. She is all of my energy and volume, condensed in a blonde package half my size, causing us t frequently joke about Little Brooke’s Big personality. We are super devoted to family dinner in our home, and my brother (or brothers, as my brother in law spent last summer and is spending this summer in DC!) comes over for dinner every Wednesday night. Somehow, Brooke came to this meal once and just never stopped. It feels natural now to include her in the family, the unit that gathers to break bread and laugh, that shows up for each others’ birthdays and accomplishments, that mourns for each others’ sorrows. She’s leaving DC to start law school and it feels like a member of our little family is leaving.

But it’s good too, having friends like that, friends who become such a part of your life that it is terrible to say goodbye. When I look back on the many places I have been blessed to call home over the past 8 years, I feel blessed that these years are marked by many good friends, and thus many painful goodbyes. I think that too often we think we have reached the limit on how many friends we can let into our lives so we stop trying. Maybe this is the extrovert in me talking, but I think we have a much bigger capacity to love people than we realize.

And the thing is, we need friends like this. We need people where we are now. We need community and fellowship and the people that it is hard to say goodbye to. Even being married, you don’t stop needing a community of friends. No other person can be everything you need, not even a spouse who is the best of friends. We were created to love and need people, even if that means a life punctuated by goodbye parties that you are happy to throw, even if you are sad that they have to happen.

Ps: Do yourself a favor and make those salted caramel cupcakes just as soon as you can. I drizzled salted caramel in the batter too, just for good measure.

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When you come to DC

Summer2014-67 Summer2014-70 Summer2014-75 Summer2014-80 Summer2014-81 Summer2014-83 Summer2014-85 Summer2014-94 Summer2014-104 Summer2014-106 Summer2014-107It is one of my hopes of this blog that it makes you want to come to DC. I just really love this city, and I feel like it doesn’t get enough credit as a great place to come, at least not beyond the 8th grade trip we all took where we had to march around in matching t-shirts. DC is so much more than that. I like to imagine that you read this blog and think, Someday I would like to go there and stuff my face with good food see cool things.

We get a lot of visitors at our home, mostly because I am incapable of saying no, but also because I love sharing this city with our friends and family. This past weekend one of my best friends from Kentucky and her husband came to visit. As long as I can remember, Megan and I have dreamed about going on trips together with our future families, dreamed of staying friends even after our lives pull us in separate directions. Shortly after she got married in December, we started planning a trip for her and her new husband to come out to DC. When we knew that James would be leaving, we decided that one of the weekends he came home had to coincide with their visit.

While I love every visit and visitor, everything came together to make Megan and Matt’s visit truly exceptional. The weather took a break from its normal DC summer tune of sweltering heat and high humidity to allow pleasantly breezy sunny days. My current state of vacation bliss meant that I could enjoy their time without secretly stressing about the work going undone. Really, their visit was just the ideal visit, ideal in that we were able to do all of the very best of DC, everything I would wish for someone to experience when they visit. So, for any of you who find yourself in the District anytime soon, here is what I would want for you. It is important to note that a lot of these are outdoor/nice weather activities…DC is not nearly so fun in the cold wet winters.

  • Dinner at Good Stuff Burgers followed by a night walk around Capitol Hill. Go ahead and indulge in the shakes as you walk and appreciate how ridiculously empty the Capitol is at night.
  • Eastern Market Brunch. I rounded up some of my favorites here, but we also loved this bottomless brunch and Market Breakfast. While you are waiting for brunch, or walking it off, enjoy wandering through the outdoor market and don’t forget the fresh mini-donuts down near the food stalls on North Carolina Ave or the macaroons at Sweet Lobby.
  • Smithsonian Highlights. You could go to New York for lots of museums… and you could pay a lot. Or, you could just go down the mall spending a couple minutes in each museum for free. DC for the win. The highlights we always take people to hit include some spaceships at the Air and Space Museum, a couple of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery (including the best, fattest baby Jesus to ever be in a Renaissance painting), and several exhibits at the American History Museum, including the First Ladies gowns, and the Star-Spangled Banner exhibit, at which I usually cry.
  • A Nats baseball Game. Because Ballpark snacks, and that unifying moment when we all stand and sing “Take me out to the ballgame.”
  • An awesome dinner out. Our go-to restaurant is Founding Farmers, but we also love Le Diplomate, and recently discovered Virtue down in Old Town.
  • A bike tour of the city. If you come on the weekends, DC is surprisingly empty in the evenings, especially on Sundays. It is also surprisingly bike-friendly. We have bikes, but you can easily rent them through Capitol Bikeshare, and as long as you trade the bike in every 30 minutes (there are kiosks all over the city) you only pay 7$. You can download the free Spotcycle App to find a map of all the kiosks. Biking really is the best way to explore this city and check out all the best monuments.
  • Have a picnic at the Tidal Basin. DC is so, so green, with parks, trees, and grassy spaces everywhere, and you know how much we love picnics. Anywhere along the Tidal Basin or Mall you can find excellent picnic places.

*DC is also ideal for anyone with dietary restrictions because I would say that one out of every three people is gluten-free or vegan or vegetarian or only eats grass-fed meat, etc. You can find a great gluten-free DC guide here, and the Nationals ballpark might be the only one where there are stands for every dietary need, including gluten-free soft pretzels.

DC people or visitors, what are some of your other favorite things to add to this list?

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5 Things I Love Today

I’m not supposed to be writing this post. In theory, I should be at the DC DMV car inspection center right now getting our new car inspected, as it was driven out from KY last Friday night by some good souls and we only have until Friday to get all the monstrous paperwork done. Unfortunately, when I went to drive it this morning, the security system freaked out and I awkwardly jumped around in front of a massive group of amused construction workers while the pesky car tooted its horribly obnoxious horn (think of an elephant farting) and refused to let me turn it on. Now I am back inside eating a second slice of this cake and trying to think of happier things. I think it’s a day in need of a love list, and as always, the title should be sung as outlined here.Summer2014-66

  1. The Washingtonian Magazine. If you are living in DC and not getting this magazine… WHY? I will send you a coupon for some dollars off. I’m pretty sure the  Washingtonian was specifically designed to give me everything I want in a magazine. Schedules of all the fun things to do in DC every month? Check. Lists of all the best _______ (donuts, bakeries, shoe stores, fountains, etc.) in DC? Check. Personal interest stories that have a focus on DC residents? Check. I keep mine stacked in a special tray for easy reference and the other day I noticed that this year they are slowly printing a picture of the Capitol on the binding, with each magazine bearing a separate piece. I just about wrote the editor a love letter.
  2. Revlon Colorburst Balm/Stain. Remember how excited I was about my Nars lipstick? I still am, but this weekend I discovered these lip balms and they last just as long, have awesome colors… and are under $10. Score. As a personal testimony, please know that I wore a hot pink one during an entire afternoon of biking, a picnic, and a shower, without re-applying. I plan on spending the rest of the summer in obscenely bright and disturbing shades of lipstick.
  3. Pandora “Summer Hits of the 90′s” Station. I know that all the cool kids are using Spotify these days, but I am a fuddy-duddy stuck on Pandora, and after this station, my love is even more intense. Not only do I know almost every word to every song, the late 90′s being the climax of my need-to-be-cool fueled radio worship, but it is the perfect jam mix for summer. I am just one key ring full of various Lip Smackers flavors and some roll on body glitter away from sheer bliss.
  4. Everlane cotton V-neck Tees. Recently I did a wardrobe purge in which I collected and donated all the clothes I hate. My closet now has a lot of empty hangers, as I have virtually no summer shirts I like, and we are officially past chambray season. I see people on blogs and in magazines wearing that adorable long sleeve button-up or sweater with shorts look and I love it… but do those people not live places where summer is actually hot? DC was built in a swamp and summer is a killer. Clothing has to be light and breathable. After hearing some friends sing the praises of Everlane, I finally ordered some of their luxury tees and I DON’T WANT TO EVER WEAR ANYTHING ELSE. I also invested in one of these awesome cotton dresses during an amazing sale and my summer wardrobe is now set.
  5. James is home this week. And I love that more than 90′s music, eternal lipstick, breezy cotton clothes, and enlightening reading. I love it more than just about anything, and I’m trying to soak up as much of the summer as I can during these short days he is here.

What are 5 things you love today? Leave a comment below or, if you are of the blogging persuasion and have nothing else to write about today, share your own list and link back so I can read them until I figure out how to disable my fart-honking car.

PS: One of my friends pointed out that Everlane gives perks for referrals, so if I convinced you to buy one of these awesome tees, do feel free to use this link. This blog doesn’t make any money and I like it that way… but I also wouldn’t mind more shirts. https://www.everlane.com/n/zo4c5j

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Whitney & Jason

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John & Sarah

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JohnandSarah-202JohnandSarah-347JohnandSarah-394JSwedding5JohnandSarah-459JohnandSarah-478JohnandSarah-497JohnandSarah-498JohnandSarah-506Loved getting to celebrate in Louisville with John and Sarah a couple weeks ago! Also, there are no pictures of it here, but I just have to give a shout out to Sarah’s uncle who made ALL of the reception food, including the best mashed potatoes I have ever had. I might have had at least 4 solo cups full of mashed potatoes throughout the evening.

Congratulations John and Sarah!

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Convalescing.

I am not vain enough to assume that you, dear Internet, actually have a vested interest in my life and keep track of what happens in our little corner of DC. Most of you probably just check in from time to time to see if we have babies yet, because we all know that that is when blogs get really interesting, and I am a full 1-3 kids behind most of the people I graduated with, not to mention before. Sorry all, no babies.

But in case you have been on pins and needles since I announced my wisdom tooth plight a couple weeks ago, I wanted to provide an update on my operation and subsequent convalescence. Because what good is a blog if I can’t whine about the first world luxury of modern dental care and the miracle that is Jello?

When I mentioned on here that I was concerned about who would take me to have my teeth pulled since James would be gone, I was so touched by the outpouring of support. So many people texted, emailed, called, Facebooked, etc. to offer to look after my drooling self. Even though I have only been James-less in DC  for a week after being in Kentucky, I feel so blessed by the friends that have looked out for me. My procedure was on the easy end of the wisdom tooth spectrum, as my bottom ones were pulled in high school and the top ones had come all the way in and just needed to be extracted. Thus, I was only knocked out for about 20 minutes and the oral surgeon predicted a speedy recovery with no fear of dry sockets and no need for those squirty bottles that clean out the wound. Just me, a lot of bloody gauze, and some rocking pain pills- none of that noble silent suffering without meds for me.

Our sweet friends Laurie Anne and Taylor came with me and played babysitter throughout the morning. I am thankful to them for filling my meds, driving me home, setting me up with Netflix, yogurt, water, and generally making sure I made it. But I am most thankful to them for filming my drive home. Since I wasn’t out long, I wasn’t totally out in the car ride home. Instead, I was just ridiculous, opinionated, and very, very chatty. Admittedly, this isn’t very different than my usual state, only plus narcotics. I remember having pleasant conversation, but when Laurie Anne sent me the videos, I was astounded about the passionate opinions I shared under the influence of medication.

Were I a person with less self-respect, no plans for a career, or a desire to have a humiliating video go viral, I would share the videos here. If you are someone who actually knows me, feel free to text me if you want to see them. As for you, dear Internet, I will pass on some transcripts and spare you the truly unattractive gauze-swollen face and bad breakout I had going on.

  • The last thing I remember before I was knocked out was asking the nurse if I could keep the teeth and she informed me that they are considered biohazard material and must be tossed. When I “came too” I was still stuck on this and spent most of the car ride home bemoaning the injustice: “They’re gone… and they’re like… I wanted to keep them and they wouldn’t let me… I’m really upset because… it’s just not just and I just feel like they should have let me keep them. Because, I GREW THEM… they didn’t grow them… I GREW them… They are my property, you know? They will probably sell them on the black market for teeth implants…. I bet they were like MINING for teeth… I bet they are going to sell the other one [one had a cavity]… You could get top dollar…I bet you could get like four or five thousand dollars…. There are people that don’t have teeth… I met them in Kentucky. They don’t have no teeth…. That lady was very nice, but I feel like… I feel like I was robbed. I think we should break in and get them back…. I was thinking, it would be easier if we were in Harry Potter and we could be like EXPELLIARMUS TOOTH! … And then we could grab them and the dentist couldn’t have them… I just feel like… that would be easier.”(Obviously, non-drugged Hannah might have thought of a better spell, but there you have it.)
  • Laurie Anne and Taylor then proceeded to tell me about their sweet dog who was recently attacked by a black lab. I responded: “She’s just a victim… black labs are no good. When you see one . . . you have to climb a tree.”
  • They also mentioned that they are moving to AZ and I astutely noted: “The snow here… one time it was so cold that it snowed IN our apartment.”
  • For some inexplicable reason, I started talking about the Old Testament, offering sage spiritual advice: “That’s why you gotta do what God tells you…. or… he’ll just screw you over and open the ground and you’ll fall in… that happened… in the Bible… It was a long time ago… like over 50 years ago.”
  •  And finally, as we were parking and Laurie Anne commented on the beautiful blue door on our neighbor’s house, I thought of a great plan: “I bet I could steal it [insert awesome arm flopping]… I could just… get it… off the hinges…. and then… I could hang it on my wall like Pinterest.”
Don't worry - this amazing fruit smoothie was consumed without a straw. And made from three day-old fruit salad because that's how we roll around here.

Don’t worry – this amazing fruit smoothie was consumed without a straw. And made from three day-old fruit salad because that’s how we roll around here.

After a morning of snoozing and TV, I felt pretty good, and deeply amused by my earlier commentary. It appears that my drugged-up alter-ego is a tooth selling thief with a fear of God and black labs. Good to know.

Really, this convalescing thing is kind of awesome. I am eating all the foods I usually don’t permit myself (read: runny Kraft mac-n-cheese and lots of strawberry Jello) and I am burning through various TV series. I discovered just in time that season three of Call the Midwife was about to expire from PBS and so I have been blazing through all the episodes, cringing at the seemingly very real representations of 1950’s birth in London’s East end. Seriously people, I’m all about women having the freedom to give birth where they want, but every time someone tells me they don’t want a hospital birth because they are just “so sterile” I think…. isn’t that how they are supposed to be? Sterile. Clean. Shiny. Count me in.

Now then. Back to convalescing. In his absence, James hid a gift card to a local gelato shop in our bookcase for me to find. I’m planning a big outing today for some creamy goodness. I might even change from my pjs and wash my face.

Maybe. Wouldn’t want to push it. No sense in rushing recovery.

Anyone else have crazy wisdom teeth/ any other surgery stories?

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