Monthly Digest: February 2021 in Updates and Photos

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with two friends, Sarah and Chesley. We were talking about “life update” blog posts and whether we read them. I said that I had actually stopped writing them because they didn’t feel meaty enough. It seemed like a relic of blogging that was left in 2012. Yes, I still read them on occasion, but only when they’re written by someone I know — someone who I genuinely am invested in what they’re up to. But maybe people actually do enjoy these?

So, I did what I often do, and took to Instagram to ask all of you. Overwhelmingly, the response was, yes, people do enjoy reading life lately posts. I suppose we’re all nosy creatures at heart, right?

That means I’m going to bring back the life update blog post, rebranded as the Monthly Digest and, to accompany the monthly download of what’s going on, I’ll share a collage of photos — in no chronological order — snapped on my iPhone over the past few weeks (an iPhone that I will be upgrading in the next week or so, finally!). For those of you who I don’t know IRL, hopefully this offers a little context behind the person writing this blog a few times a week!

Monthly Digest: February

I’ll be honest, this has been an exhausting (but productive!) month. I think a lot of us have started to hit a pandemic roadblock and, for me, it’s been interesting to look back each day on a photo I took a year ago on the same day — how naive we were back then, right?!

Looking at an end of January girls’ trip to Miami, a big group trip to my brother-in-law’s ranch, going to concerts, eating in restaurants…we seriously had no idea what was to come. I’m not sure we could even have comprehended what someone was telling us if they’d given us a warning.

But, that aside, there seems to be good news on the horizon. Many of us know at least a few people who’ve been vaccinated (DC is a mess…) and, fingers crossed, this could be one of the last socially distant months we have on the calendar.

So, getting into the monthly digest, let’s split this into a few sections.

What I’ve been whipping up in the kitchen…

As I’ve shared on here, I’ve been on a toast kick, with all sorts of veggie and spread combos. I’ve also been trying to perfect our challah recipe, though it’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs (literally, thanks to the rising — and not rising — of yeast). Some of of my favorite dinner recipes we’ve made lately include Ina Garten’s Roasted Carrot Salad (I skipped the maple), slow cooker french onion soup, and a non-recipe recipe that includes ground beef in a sweet and spicy chili sauce with peppers, onions, and cilantro over rice.

Places I’m loving in DC…

As I write this, I’m munching on a golden milk croissant from Souk’s pastry box. I’ve wanted to order one of these pastry boxes since they launched them last year and, omg, why did I wait so long?! Well, I waited so long because I thought I didn’t need that many pastries at once, but now I’ve realized I totally do.

Late last year, I made a habit of stopping in Moorenko’s to grab a pint of ice cream and it’s really a game changer. Yes, it’s more expensive than the grocery store but I feel like I actually eat less when it’s a gourmet ice cream so I’m not going through it nearly as quickly.

I’ve never been one for paying for beauty maintenance…I literally don’t think I’d had a pedicure in years. But I went to Nail Saloon last week and I’ve decided this little splurge is 100% worth it, perhaps on a monthly basis.

On the get out of town front…

We finally got out of DC for the first time in nearly two months this past weekend with an overnight trip to Maryland. A good friend’s fiancé planned a trip for the four of us to celebrate his birthday and it was so, so nice to get our of the city. We were just 15 minutes from Frederick, one of my favorite Maryland cities, and I even had time to grab some photos for an upcoming blog post.

This weekend, we’re headed out of DC just for the day to look at a few houses out in rural Virginia. We’re just looking but I would like to get an idea of whether we’d want a small cottage on the river or if we’d prefer a historic home with a bit of land (I bet you can guess which camp I’m in). You may recall that I mentioned in my goals post that, at some point, we’d like to invest in a vacation property we could also rent out — this is hopefully a first step towards that goal.

Update: While went down to see an open house, it was actually somewhat difficult to see houses not doing open houses. Also, we did manage to get an appointment at a true historic home and…I’ve decided it would have to be perfect to invest that time and money. This one was pretty and a fantastic price — the big items like kitchen and bathrooms had been renovated already — but there were some clear structural issues and then there were aesthetic problems, like 5 different types of wood flooring, throughout the house. I’m feeling like I’d rather something that’s a total gut project or already impeccably done. The piece meal renos, where you have to justify what’s worth updating and what’s not, seem like more stress than I want to take on.

I also booked an impromptu getaway for next week. The bed and breakfast where we had our wedding, the Farmhouse at Veritas, has the most incredible tasting menu restaurant and, when they posted their weekly menu on Instagram, I was sold. I’ve been meaning to book a trip back and between that menu and a winter special they were offering, I couldn’t turn it down.

And, how I’m doing on my 2021 goals…

Well, first of all, how’d we end up two months into 2021 already?! I even wrote “a month into” before realizing, omg, it’s been TWO MONTHS.

So, let’s check in on those goals I set back in January, shall we?

  • When it comes to daily routine, I have been getting dressed-ish but, whew, I have not done well on getting up at 6:45 AM. Since a lot of my projects have kept me up until midnight or later, there’s no way I’m getting up that early. So, 7:15 AM it is. We’ll see if I can remedy that this week.
  • With intentional consumption, I’ve been able to keep this up and have even been making strides in cleaning out items that are fine…but I don’t need. I’ve even got a trip to Goodwill this afternoon.
  • In regard to my side hustles, I’ve kept up the blogging cadence here and I’ve kicked up my newsletters to once a week. My blog traffic is 138% up from where it was in February 2020 but I still need to make some strides to have a significant increase year over year. I’ve taken on several new design clients, which is awesome, but I’m still working on that get published (writing OR design) goal.
  • With social goals, well, y’all, still no entertaining to be done, but I am making moves on getting the research done to join DAR.
  • Lastly, when it comes to movement, I’ve gotten in a good rhythm of fitting in two 5-10 minute workouts at some point during the day, fitting in a walk either at lunch or around 5 PM (even though I still have to resume work after), and then doing a barre class once my (day job) workday is actually done.

All in all, not so bad two months into the year. Now, on to the photo recap…

 

photo diary heather bien

 

February in Snapshots of No Chronological Order

You’ve likely seen these already on Instagram stories, but, personally, I love seeing this collage style snapshot. It’s like everything I experienced in a month, neatly sorted into 16 squares. And, hey, maybe I’ll go crazy and do chronological next month. The first try is never perfect, right?!

(1) Valentine’s Day morning stroll through Capitol Hill

(2) Choosing a pastry at Bread Furst in Cleveland Park

(3) Saturday brunch at home, we made migas

(4) A sunny day (finally) on the Hill

(5) The donut that was recommended to me at Bread Furst

(6) Another shot from my Valentine’s Day walk

(7) Hunny Bunny Boutique, a natural skin care shop on 8th St NE

(8) Proof that my coffee concoctions don’t always turn out perfectly

(9) Champagne on Valentine’s Day at home

(10) Picking up my (sometimes twice) weekly loaf of fresh-baked bread at Ravenhook

(11) Pratt Standard + seltzer is the best afternoon spritzer

(12) A little mid-morning cat nap

(13) Snow-covered country hills out in Middletown, MD

(14) The Miles Baughman sofa I hated to leave behind in Frederick

(15) Not a cloud in the sky this past week

(16) Perfecting my hamantaschen recipe for Purim this year

Okay, so this was a bit of a rambling first Monthly Digest, written in spurts over the past few days — in the morning before work, in the car, and after wrapping up freelance projects for the night. It’ll be a process figuring out the format that works best here but, if you have suggestions on what you want to see, I’m all ears.

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