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Dreaming of a frugal Christmas

December 12, 2011

Our pocketbooks may not be plump with cash these days, but that doesn’t mean we need to skimp on Christmas decorations. In fact, look around: your garden, the grocery store, the sidewalk. Inspiration may be closer--and less expensive-- than you think.

Mantle with pears and magnolias (real pears from grocery store; glittery ones from Home Goods) (Photo by: Page Evans) Mantle with pears and magnolias (real pears from grocery store; glittery ones from Home Goods)

Friends coming over for a drink and you don’t have flowers? Check out your yard for supplies. Grab a branch and hang a few ornaments from it. On one twig, I used glittery pears. On another, I dangled a bird ornament I bought at Target for $3. You could also add twigs to paper whites or orchids to dress them up. 

(Photo by: Page Evans)

And think about getting the most out of your--or your neighbor’s--magnolia tree. After all, every tree needs a little pruning. Full disclosure: my magnolia branches came from a generous friend’s yard. And, yes, I did ask for permission.

Nandina bush outside back door (Photo by: Page Evans) Nandina bush outside back door

Nandina bushes are another good bet. I have them outside my back door. I’m actually not a big fan of red, but I’ll use a sprig of berries this time of year in my powder room.

(Photo by: Page Evans)

As for the mantle, a few pilfered magnolia branches, combined with some pears (real and ornamental) and votives, make for a chic display. And it didn’t hurt my wallet. Who says you can’t be festive and frugal?

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Coffee with an attitude

November 21, 2011

I can’t properly function without coffee, so every morning after carpool, I race over to “my” Starbucks near 34th and Wisconsin.

I park on the street alongside the lot and groggily head toward the entrance. Inside, I know Amanda, Tameika or Emily will recognize me and get my latte started. Is there a more chipper person in the morning than Amanda, the manager at Starbucks? She deserves major credit for running--in my opinion--one of the best Starbucks in town. 

But today there’s a line snaking all the way to the front door.  A well-coiffed blonde comes out as I’m entering and mutters to me, “It’s a mob scene in there. I don’t know what is going on today.” She’s looking svelte in a black suit and Tory Burch patent leather pumps. I’m clad in yoga pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt with a smear of toothpaste on the front, which I just noticed. It’s a good look.

Feeling a little insecure and unkempt, I walk in and see a slew of well-turned out Washingtonians waiting in line for their lattes, macchiatas and mochas. Sun streams in through the windows and you can see eye  shadow sparkling on women’s eyes. My mood is not so sparkly.

 I really just want things to speed up so I can take a swig of coffee. Please let me get out of here before I see anyone. Yes, I realize I could have made my own coffee, avoided the crowd, and saved the four bucks I’m about to shell out.  But trust me, my home brewing does not compare. Plus, I’ve become accustomed--some might say, addicted-- to plastic lids.

I’m thinking all this while Tameika, another upbeat barista, walks along the line taking orders. She gives me a smile and says, “Venti latte, right?” 

“Yep, thanks. It’s really crowded in here today, isn’t it?’

I expect to hear a complaint or heavy sigh, but instead hear this: “Yeah, and I LOVE it this way!”

It was hard not to be swept up in her cheerfulness. And I thought about that quote I see everywhere: “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens.”

Every so often we need an attitude adjustment. Tameika had a good one. And it gave me a wake-up call--even before the caffeine!

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Top dogs in Georgetown

October 4, 2011

President Obama popped by a party on N Street Friday evening, creating quite the buzz--and gridlock--in the East Village for the second time in two weeks. One neighbor walking by commented, "Wasn't he just here?" 


By Sunday, the neighborhood had gone to the dogs--literally. But in a good way! The Reverend Stuart Kenworthy anointed neighborhood dogs (and two cats) with holy water for the annual "Blessing of the Animals" at Christ Church on O Street. The ritual took place in the church's leafy courtyard where canines of all colors, shapes and sizes were blessed in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.


Despite a few yaps and, possibly (I'm not naming names), some unholy water landing on nearby box bushes, the courtyard at Christ Church remained a peaceable kingdom.

Creatures great and small (Photo by: Page Evans) Creatures great and small

Angus and Tank (Photo by: Page Evans) Angus and Tank

Rev. Stuart Kenworthy blesses the animals (Photo by: Page Evans) Rev. Stuart Kenworthy blesses the animals

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