Blogs Like A Girl

A lifestyle blog focusing on books, health, media and of course, cats.

Caturday: Stay safe edition

Happy rainy Caturday from DC! As we batten down the hatches while Hurricane Joaquin bears down on us, I wanted to remind you all of some safety tips for your pets. Usually we take care of ourselves but forget about our furily members.

cats old place pic

*Bring your animals inside. Last thing you want is to look outside and see your animals reenacting the Wizard of Oz.

*If they’re not microchipped already, consider doing so or at least make sure their collars are on and tags are up-to-date. I actually need to do this myself – the boys are microchipped but don’t wear collars.

*Have a safe place to evacuate to. Not every shelter takes animals – make arrangements with a relative, friend or animal friendly hotel in your area. Don’t leave your pet behind – you may not be able to return to your home as quickly as you think.

*Practice evacuation drills. I know it seems silly, but growing up my dad had us practice assembling cat carriers quickly in case we had to leave. I’m a little rusty but I can still put together a cat carrier quickly.

*Ensure you’re stocked up on essentials like pet food and cat litter. We’re good at making sure our needs are met but often forget we don’t have enough for our pets.

The Humane Society of the United States has more tips, including how to make a disaster kit for your pets. I hope you all stay dry and safe if you’re in the way of Hurricane Joaquin. Here’s a map that I in no way take credit for to see if you’re in the way of the storm. Granted, the weather outside should also be telling you if you’re in the way or not.


If you’re in the path of the storm, are you staying in? Or standing up to Joaquin like Russell Crowe did in Gladiator?


October 2015 Goals

Happy October! September really seemed to fly by in my opinion – this year is going way to fast. And honestly, that’s fine by me. 2015 has been kind of rough. Bring on 2016!

I know doing monthly goals post aren’t a novel thing in the blog world. But in my quest to continue successfully adulting, I’ve decided I need one. So without further ado, here’s what I’m going to work on this month.

pumpkins pic


*Get back to blogging on Sunday rather than the night before like I’ve been doing all week. I like to think my posts still turned out pretty good but not as great as they could of if I had prepared better. Sorry for slaking guys!

*Pay more attention to interaction on social media. I think I’m pretty good at promoting my posts on various channels but I need to do better interaction. For example, all comments will get a response for now on.

*Redesign the blog. I bought this design on a whim and I wish I had thought about it more. There are some things I like about it – it’s so clean – but I’ve heard from some that the light color makes it hard to read and I don’t want that. So back to the drawing board!


*Start walking two miles a day. I used to do this distance all the time when I worked in DC and it really helped me to lose/maintain my weight. Desk job plus my current driving commute has really made my weight go up. But more on that next week.

*Be consistent about my diet. I’m all over the place with it. I really need to get back on Weight Watchers – anyone else doing it?

*Figure out my sleep schedule. Really, it’s all over the place. I can go to bed at 9:30pm and still struggle to wake up at 8am. Its ridiculous and I really need to schedule a physical.


*Sit down and read. I have so many books out from the library and I just don’t read them. It’s such a waste.

*Continue budgeting. I plan to do regular monthly posts on my budgeting goals so we’ll see how that goes. I’d love to get another credit card paid off this month though. (I paid off one last month.)

*And the ultimate adulting: be less lazy with daily cleaning. My place is like disaster zone right now. Must get on top of that.

What are your goals this month?


My favorite restaurants in the DC area

I’m not going to claim to be a foodie, even though the DC area is very much a foodie town. But honestly, I’m trying to expand my horizons a bit. I still love my Outback and Red Lobster but there are definitely some local places I regularly go to now.


Cantina Marina

I was introduced to this place when I was dating my ex. Located on DC’s waterfront, I mainly go to this place during the summer months since it’s an outdoor bar. It’s also fairly cheap for DC, which I love and the bartenders are fairly regular as is the crowd so you get to know people really well. Even though it’s a pretty seasonal bar, there is an indoors so it is open year around. It’s just best in the summer. It’s primarily seafood fare – their Facebook describes it as Cajun/Creole and Southern.

Must try: Can’t beat the shrimp tacos.

Must drink: A John Daley (Deep Eddy sweet tea vodka and fresh lemonade), or if you have nothing to do the next day and a ride home for the night, the Strongballs (strongbow cider and fireball cinnamon whiskey).

The Mad Hatter

When I was working in DC, I used to go here all the time and I love it. I really need to go back into DC more just so I can experience it again. Anyway, it’s located in DuPont Circle (which is the red line, I believe) so the clientele is a little preppy in my opinion. But the nice thing about the Mad Hatter is, if it doesn’t suit you, it’s located around some other great places. But trust me – you’ll enjoy the Mad Hatter, especially if you dig Alice in Wonderland like I do.

Must try: Hatter Salad with chicken.

Must drink: Gather up some friends (at least three of them) and try the Hatter Punch – a giant punch bowl shaped like a hat that is shareable between four people.


If you follow my blog, you’ve heard me mention this one before. It’s usually where my DAR chapter members go after our monthly meetings. Another DuPont Circle place, this one is awesome because there’s a parking garage right next to it that’s open until midnight. Convenient! Anyway, my thing about this place is the floor – it’s a penny floor! Awesome!

Must try: I always get the Lincoln Macaroni and Cheese – delicious.

Must drink: First Lady Lincoln (St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Gruet Rosé, strawberry shrub, Bar Keep lavender bitters) or, if you’re going in a group, the Emancipation Punch No. 6 (Pimm’s no. 1, Green hat spring/summer gin, green tea, cucumber & white peppercorn syrup, fresh lemon, Bar Keep lavender bitters)


I found this place after going on a very awkward date. Thankfully, the place was the best part of that date. There are two locations – Del Ray in Alexandria, VA, and Shirlington in Arlington, VA. I’ve never been to the Del Ray location, even though its technically right down the street from my house. I just like Shirlington Village more – great atmosphere and tons of places to go. But if you love wine and cheese, you need to visit Cheestique. Right now – stop reading this and go. Best part? If you love a cheese or wine, you can pick some up to go.

Must try: They have so many grilled cheeses but my favorite is the Grilled Caprese. Pair it with either the tomato soup or the French onion – you can’t go wrong either way.

Must drink: The best thing about Cheestique is they suggest wine pairings for you. So for my grilled cheese above, I’m going to take the recommendation and pair it with the Pinot Grigio.

Copperwood Tavern

Another one regular readers know I love. It’s my default place to take people, since parking in DC or Old Town Alexandria can be rough and Cheestique is a niche place. Located in Shirlington Village – not that far from Cheestique if you want an after dinner spot – its main draw in my opinion is its drink menu. Honestly, I’ve never eaten off the regular menu – just drinks and bar fare. It has a rustic décor, fitting since the main highlight of the drink menu is its moonshine and bourbon selections.

Must try: I always get the sliders but the brushchetta is wonderful too.

Must drink: Moonshine! My favorite is the apple pie but they have such a variety including caramel, blueberry and strawberry.

Bilbo Baggins

Another place I discovered thanks to dating – though this date wasn’t awkward like some that I’ve had. Anyway, Bilbo is located in Old Town Alexandria, kind off the main stretch so I consider it a hidden gem in a way. It’s not as immerse in their theme (Lord of the Rings) that the Mad Hatter is but I still love it. It’s the perfect first date spot since there’s a parking lot next to it and the Old Town main strip is just a walk away.

Must try: I love their pizzas especially the Sam’s Garden.

Must drink: Pippin’s Cup (Pimm’s No. 1, muddled cucumber and orange; topped with lemon lime soda and garnished with a lemon). Though really, all their Lord of the Rings cocktails are yummy.

Did I miss a DC restaurant that I should try? If I were to come to your town, where would you recommend dining at?


The Middle Kingdom: My trip to China

I feel like I’ve always had the travel bug. I was born in Germany to air force parents (my mom had to me to get out of the military!) and we moved all over the USA after returning from Europe before settling down in the DC. So while my desire to live other places and make new friends was completely filled by high school, my urge to travel was still intact. I love exploring new places, whether it’s with a tour group or on my own. In the past few years I’ve been to Japan, Hawaii, Ireland and Scotland and just this summer, China.

IMG_2264 pic monkey

I’ve sat down to write this post numerous times. How does one sum up two weeks in China, spread throughout five cities? You can’t but I’ll try.

First off, why China? Well, why not China? But really, my friend Colleen was teaching over there for the past year and a half (she recently got back) and I tagged along with her family.

Second, we had to decide if we wanted to do a tour or go it on our own. If I was with my family, we probably would have done it on our own. We’re the kind that likes our own free time. But for China (and Ireland and Scotland the previous year), I did a tour group. It covered five cities over 11 days and included most of the must-sees of China. I can go either way when it comes to doing a tour or not. While tours do have free time built in, it can be really feel constantly on the go. On the other hand, tour groups often give you back stories on places you wouldn’t otherwise wouldn’t have.

About the trip itself: while it was an absolutely, once in a lifetime trip, I would certainly recommend not going in the summer. Oh the humidity! But that’s probably just common sense that you already know; I only did it because I was traveling with a teacher and summer was really the only time she could go.

The cities we did see were: Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Xian and Beijing. (And yes, I initially misspelled four out of those five cities. I’m an awful speller. Thank god for spell check.)


1) Shanghai: While I enjoyed visiting all the cities, Shanghai was surprisingly my least favorite. It’s honestly just a big city and if you’ve been to one big city, you’ve kind of been to them all. My favorite part was visiting the Confucius Temple and having the first of three tea ceremonies. (Yea, three. There are a lot of tea drinking ceremonies going on.) Notably, we went up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which was the tallest structure in China from 1994-2007. Stepping out onto the glass floor was terrifying.


2) Guilin: Tied for my favorite city that we visited but its definitely the most beautiful one we saw. Its name means “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus” – it is so green. And my favorite thing about the Chinese people? Their desire to light everything up like a rave. We saw a bridge that changed colors, a cave where they highlighted interesting rock formations in different colors and other landmarks at night. We took a river cruise, got to climb a mountain, and visited a village that had rice patties. We also saw a night show directed by the same person who directed the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games.


3) Chengdu: We were only there a day but we got to see pandas! And not just one or two – there were tons of them. And Chinese panda sanctuaries are so different from American zoos. The animals were so close to us. I barely had to zoom in my photos. Trivia: Apparently pandas just do not want to expand their species – the staff has to show pandas that are ready to mate instructional videos. Yup, pandas watching pandas doing.


4) Xian: The historical capital of China, this city is where the Terracotta Warriors are. They were impressive but overwhelming. There’s so many of them and they’re still uncovering them. Xian is worth it just for the warriors but we also got to experience the city wall (China and their walls.) We also visited the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, where I got some amazing original artwork that represents the four seasons. (I haven’t hung them up yet – need frames!)


5) Beijing: Tied with Guilin for my favorite city. While Shanghai was another large city, there’s something special about Beijing. It really fits the image of a Chinese city. We visited Tienanmen Square, which is right outside the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is not the Chinese version of the Vatican City like I expected – it’s a huge palace. There are so many buildings for so many versions inside the Forbidden City. (There’s one building they built for the Empress’ birthday that they used only one day a year and another building they built just to balance out the first building.) It’s so long, so be prepared if you experience it. We also saw one of the Olympic Stadium (the Birds Nest), which is step one in my quest to visit as many Olympic sites that I can (I’m an Olympic fanatic – I’m still kicking myself for not squeezing in Atlanta’s site when I was down there). And then there was the Great Wall. It’s even more impressive in person than you can image. It’s totally worth the hike and scary gondola right up to the top.


Would I visit China again? It’s honestly probably not in the cards, although Colleen and I were talking about going to the 2020 Tokyo Games and I might be able to hope over to Hong Kong if we do that trip. It’s honestly just expensive to do and I have so many other places to see. Got to save my pennies – we’re looking at either London or Barcelona next summer and maybe Australia and New Zealand in 2017.

But seriously, if you can, go to China. Just not in July.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve been?


Caturday: Hiding their shame edition

What up Caturday fans? (As the cool kids would or did say at one point.) Anyone got any exciting plans this weekend? I’ll be laying low and cleaning up from a friend’s visit this past week, as well as preparing for next weekend’s trip to New York City.

binx window pic

I’m going to start off today’s Caturday with an embarrassing confession that may have you looking at me differently: I keep the cats’ litter box in the kitchen. I know, it weirded me out as well at first too. But if you were to look at my apartment, there was really no choice. I didn’t want it on the carpet because cat litter spreads in carpet faster than I’d like. And if I clean it every day, which I do, the place doesn’t smell.

But still, there’s a litter box in my kitchen.

Thankfully, that’s when my mom stepped in.

When I first started looking at apartments, I dragged both of my parents along. Once they both saw the apartment I selected (thanks to the help of a realtor – never again will I attempt to go it alone), they both agreed that really the only spot the litter box could go was the kitchen. And the only solution to the problem was to make it not look like a litter box is in the kitchen.

So, my mom built me a litter box hide-a-way, which is fairly easy to do. All you need is two side tables (she bought them from IKEA), fabric and Velcro. You can follow the instructions here or here for another option.

litter box cover

I think it turned out nicely. (And yes, it is a pain to move all that stuff. Yes, it would make more sense to not have anything on it.)

What weird thing have you had to do for your pet(s)?

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