room for a birthday celebration

columbia room dc - lesley siu

For my birthday this year, I went to Columbia Room for drinks with a few friends. Tucked away in Blagden Alley, the cocktail bar has a nice punch garden perfect for enjoying the outdoors before the summer heat really sinks in. The drink list is aptly named “This is Not a Wine List” with cocktails inspired by wines. 

columbia room punch garden dc - lesley siu

Complete with Georgetown Cupcakes (thank you, Claire!) and a quick dinner at Le Diplomate, my birthday was low key and enjoyable. My goals for this year include volunteering more in my community, acing taking the GMAT, and traveling to at least three new countries. Easy, right? 

choose your own adventure

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After living in DC for a few years, it’s easy to keep going out to the same places. But sometimes you have to mix it up. A Choose Your Own Adventure night, to be exact.

Claire and I came up with a list of places we wanted to try and a few old favorites outside of our neighborhood. Then we organized everything into three phases: dinner, activity and a bar. We came up with clues for each place, and I wrote them on index cards.

We told the group where to meet at 7:00 p.m. to decide where we would eat.

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Dinner

The restaurant options included a mix of new and nostalgic places that we thought everyone would like and wouldn’t need a reservation for. We printed a map wrote a list of locations that represented the type of cuisine or theme and had the group guess the corresponding restaurants:

After a solid discussion about Texas, Mexico and Tex-Mex, we identified all of the places and each voted on where we wanted to go. We decided to head to… Japan! Or, Raku by the National Cathedral.

choose your own adventure - washington dc

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We also prepared a list of challenges to do throughout the night during each phase and in transit. The idea was to rotate through and each complete one in order until we finished the list, but sometimes we (*cough* most of us *cough*) ended up all completing the one at hand. At Raku, the challenge was: Text a friend from high school and express how much you value your friendship. Leave voicemail if the person does not pick up. Basically, we spread some love to our friends back home. Everyone can use some extra love, right?!

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Activity

After finishing dinner, I revealed the cards for the next group activity. Clues were all song lyrics or albums:

  • Quit playin’ games with my heart
  • They got a brand new dance (come on) / You gotta move your muscle
    • Shuffleboard at Buffalo Billiards (throwback to the time we were all on a shuffleboard team)
  • It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday / The regular crowd shuffles in
  • Red velvet, vanilla, chocolate in my life / I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean
    • Dessert at The CakeRoom (because eating cake obviously counts as an activity)
  • 21 (Adele)
  • Oh, I wanna dance (and sing) with somebody

I wrote the neighborhoods on the back of each card just in case they couldn’t guess it based on the songs, but the extra clue was only needed for Black Jack, where we ultimately decided to go. The result: a highly competitive game of bocce.

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The winning team:

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Congratulations to Claire, who completed this bar challenge: Hold eye contact with a guy across the bar for 10 seconds, then wink at him (if you can’t wink, blow a kiss). A+

Bar

For the last part of “Choose Your Own Adventure” night, we had to choose what bar to go to. The bar clues included a mix of riddles, memories and general hints:

  • Jack, will you accept this ____? (for Jack Rose — and the Bachelorette fans)
  • The name of this 14th street bar has two words. One of them is “bar.” How original. (Bar Pilar)
  • Kelsey went on a date here and dropped her drink. Ok, it “slid off the table.” (McClellan’s Retreat)
  • Retractable glass roof + views of U street. Kelsey and Beth reallllly know how to dance it out here. (Hawthorne)
  • Rooftop beer garden in Shaw. (Takoda)

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There was also a wild card with five new spots we hadn’t been to. If this card was chosen, we had to pick a number from one to five without knowing the list of options:

  1. Alfie’s
  2. Archipelago
  3. Columbia Room
  4. Quarter + Glory
  5. The Sovereign

We went with the wild card. The number four was chosen, so we headed to Quarter + Glory. It was a great choice since none of us had been there. It was also on 14th street, so it was a quick walk from Black Jack. The space is open yet cozy, and we all agreed it’s worth coming back to.

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The choices and challenges created a fun activity that encouraged us to explore new spots. Who knows what adventure we’ll choose next?

white house tour

white house tour - lesley siu

I went on a tour of the White House this week. After running by almost every day, it was a treat to finally step inside. The Blue Room, above, is often used by the President to receive guests. I love the French furniture, purchased by James Monroe after the fire of 1814.

white house tour - lesley siu

white house blue room

The Red Room has long been a favorite of the First Ladies.

white house red room - lesley siu

Blue, red, and… green! Very original names, of course.

white house green room - lesley siu

The state dining room can seat up to 130 guests. Future pasta night location?

white house state dining room

white house washington monument

white house tour - lesley siu

white house tour - lesley siu

monday blues

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Warm weather calls for a nighttime run around the monuments. I’ve been spending a lot of time outside, enjoying the scenes before the tourist season cherry blossoms arrive. Spring, I feel you.

friday night meatballs

friday night meatballs

Family dinners…with friends. Spaghetti night. Friday night meetballs. Inspired by Friday Night Meatballs, Kelsey and I have hosted our own Friday night dinners in my apartment for the past three weeks. We make spaghetti and meatballs, and we sit down to eat with anyone else who wants to join. We’ve had coworkers, friends of friends, old classmates, business fraternity brothers and people we just hadn’t seen in way too long. We welcome food and drinks to share, but bringing something isn’t at all required. The point is to eat together, unplug and leave our work weeks behind. It’s a small initiative that has kept our hearts (and stomachs) full. Good food, good people, good conversations.

We committed to every Friday in October, and we have now added a few dates in November (the plan is to host whenever we are both in town). This Friday, you might discover mutual friends, S Club 7 could be on Pandora, and there could be Choco Tacos or Red Velvet cupcakes. Who knows? One thing’s for sure—you won’t leave without feeling #blessed.

RSVP: http://bit.ly/FNMrsvp

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friday night meatballs dc

five ways to refresh your life right now

lesley siu apartment

photo via Instagram

As another carefree summer comes to a close, the back-to-school season calls for a little refresh. A life refresh, of sorts. Ok, I constantly think about getting my life together, but sometimes (now) it just takes one step at a time. After finally getting my apartment to a point where I was satisfied, I moved on to other areas of life that could use a little improvement. Here’s my advice on ways to freshen up your life for fall:

1. Closet

A seasonal change calls for a wardrobe refresh—and not just the closet-purging kind. Sure, get rid of the warm-weather pieces that spent the summer collecting dust. But freshen up your blazers and work staples by heading to the dry cleaner before jacket season fully sets in.

2. Finances

Get organized by filing away your receipts, bills and statements floating around. Already have everything in one place? Evaluate your budget and implement necessary changes to reach your end-of-year and long-term financial goals (and if you just thought, what financial goals? …you know what to do).

3. Inbox

I don’t like unsubscribing. I appreciate the wild world of email marketing and swoon over witty subject lines. So if you are equally guilty of leaving things unread, create a “read later” folder to file away now and revisit later. Ok, and actually unsubscribe from the promos you consistently ignore. Also, respond to the messages you’ve starred but haven’t gotten to yet. Yeah, those. Inbox zero is so close, you can almost taste it.

4. Career

That dreaded question: where do you see yourself in five years? It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day tasks and settle into a routine. Are you developing the right skills for the career path you envision? What can you do to improve in your current role? Other small ways to up your game: update your LinkedIn profile, attend local networking events, reconnect with a former colleague and join a professional association.

5. Health

Work out. Eat (more) healthy foods. Go to the doctor. (No, I’m not your mother, but yes, you’ll thank me yourself later.)

 

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