Skip to main content

Free and Frugal Things to Do in Washington DC

Sexy Nerd and I had the best time in Washington, DC last week. I love that the city is so walkable. One moment you're browsing gorgeous home items in Georgetown and the next you're inhaling the sweet scent of cherry blossoms at a Smithsonian museum. That's quite a walk, but doable, especially as my FitBit says I averaged 30,000 steps per day in DC. It's quite a bit higher than my average at home of 4,000. Though, that many steps would be around 15 miles, so...my FitBit may actually be broken.
Look at me wearing a sleeveless shirt in DC in February. This was a million times better than our last visit.

We didn't really even do much in DC, as Sexy Nerd was busy with work the majority of the time, but just being there was enough. One day, we will move there. Just you wait.

That last line should be sung, not read, obviously. Soaking up all the history in DC and Virginia wouldn't have been nearly as fun if I weren't a huge Hamilton fan. We went to Mount Vernon. Yes, the very same Mount Vernon as mentioned in the musical! Hee, hee.

Funny enough, we actually should be living in DC right now. Sexy Nerd's workplace would love to send him there for a few years and if they had offered sooner, we gladly would have accepted. But now we're smack dab in the middle of building a house! Get your timing together, Universe.
Knowing a move is off the table for at least another few years, we still enjoyed picking out imaginary houses to purchase. We're going to live by the water in Alexandria in a stately brick home, complete with a garage (hard to come by in the area) and cute shutters. After moving back to New Mexico, we'll use it as a rental.
I thought this yellow one by the Smithsonian National Zoo (which is free - this city is meant for me!) was just my type, so I trudged my tired legs up the street to get a closer look. Sadly, it's a bit dilapidated in person. I guess we won't be buying it after all. It didn't have a garage anyway.

Well, those reasons and the fact that we're in no position to buy the house right now...if it were even for sale.
Do you think these more modest neighbors hate that bright yellow house?
Look at this roof. It's covered in tiny metal eagles! I told Sexy Nerd to text this photo to our builder, along with the words STOP EVERYTHING - CHANGE TO EAGLE ROOF but he refused.

Can tiny metal eagles be added later? Are there other animals to choose from and do any of them look like Pica? She has a very regal look.

I've been into macro photography lately, much to Sexy Nerd's confusion. It drives him crazy when I get super close to a subject and take a photo that barely shows anything. If the above photo hadn't been zoomed in so tightly though and had instead shown the entire structure, you would never have paid attention to the beautiful wooden door and aged hardware. Doesn't it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

The "structure" is actually a tomb and there are dead bodies on the other side of this door. I hope you enjoyed your warm fuzzies while they lasted.

I'm pretty sure I've seen this exact same roof on a paint website, which is crazy because there's very little paint in the photo. Sherwin Williams?

And, of course, I'm still super into squirrel photos. They're not artistic or anything, but they do frustrate my husband just as much as macro photography. Maybe more.

The squirrel is posing, Sexy Nerd. He wants to have his photo taken. Also, his name is Nutters McGee.

Sexy Nerd took this one.

I had a great time at the Smithsonian National Zoo, excluding one weird incident. I was walking along, side by side with my new emu friend, when I stepped on a piece of gum on the pavement.

Only it wasn't a piece of gum.

It was the lower half (the only half) of a pink mouse, with a tail and two little splayed out legs and teensie tiny feet.

(Ack!)

While watching this elephant enjoy her pedicure, a man turned and sternly informed me that "you never turn your back to them," right before I decided not to stand next to him anymore.

This is my new favorite statue.

Awww! Sweet dreams, giant rat.

This fluffy fellow is a sand cat, which is the most adorable cat in existence. Even his scientific name is cute - felis margarita. I'd never seen one in person before, but have a suspicion zoos could get away with creating Sand Cat exhibits stocked with Persians.

I love this little fellow, but just wait until you see his name. He's no ordinary armadillo. He's...

...a Screaming Hairy Armadillo, AKA my new favorite animal.

For a (window) shopping enthusiast like myself, no trip to DC is complete without a visit to the Tyson's Corner mall in Virginia, which is just a quick metro ride away from the city. I knew it was enormous, but I'd forgotten just how enormous until I was circling its endless corridors. I could spend all day there. They even have a Ballard Designs store! I never knew my favorite decor catalog had physical, retail stores. There was an ottoman marked down from $650 to only $270, but I had no way to fit it inside my suitcase.

Sexy Nerd enjoyed our visit to the National Inventors Hall of Fame at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The woman there was so friendly (and possibly so bored) that she offered to give us a personal tour.

This was our favorite exhibit. Which of these two Ford Mustangs do you prefer?  


Did you know The Energizer Bunny is a rip-off of The Duracell Bunny? Duracell didn't think to trademark their mascot until it was too late.

"Why are you taking a photo of an old fence," you-know-who demanded. I continued to photograph every post and flower and rock until Sexy Nerd pointed me down the hill...

 
...to the sheep! Look at them, all wooly and bleating. They seemed to be put off by my wool jacket though.

Cows too! "We paid to come here just to look at cows," asked Sexy Nerd? It was a rhetorical question because of course the cows only added extra value to the admission fee.

Ooh, which reminds me. When you go to Mount Vernon, be sure to purchase your tickets online to save an extra $2. We did this on Sexy Nerd's phone right outside the ticket line and it still worked.

Behold, a photo of Mount Vernon with absolutely NO TOURISTS, even on a Sunday. February is a great time to visit.

The Washingtons had quite the view.

George loooved symmetry. This was the greenhouse...but was also originally the home for slaves until George kicked them out to house plants instead. WTF, George?

At Mount Vernon, tour groups consist of about 20 people and each group sees one part of the home at a time. When Sexy Nerd saw a tour group leaving the porch, he tried frantically to take this photo before the next group arrived. They were too quick for him though.

Although the final resting place of George and Martha Washington is well maintained, we were appalled to see vandalism on several of the bricks. Who would do such a thing?

Even if it's in retaliation for the slaves, George Washington eventually changed his stance to anti-slavery. Plus, Martha was the one who actually freed them and it's her tomb too.

Really, if you would graffiti George Washington's tomb, please get the heck out of the United States right now. I'm feeling nice about this at the moment. When I first saw the bricks, my solution was that anyone caught vandalizing should have their hand chopped off. Sexy Nerd thought that was a bit extreme and favored locking the offending hand in a heavy, locked box for one month, at least for first-time offenders.

Next, we practiced our best "lock box" Al Gore impressions.

This dove weathervane would go perfectly with the little metal roof eagles that Sexy Nerd says we are absolutely not adding to our roof, not now and not ever.

And now for the grand finale of this post. It's pretty darn grand, if I do say so myself.

Behold, the first animated gif I've ever made in my life. Ta da!

Popular Posts from Kitty Deschanel:

Jessner Peel Photos: A Blogger's Before & After Guide to Chemical Peels

A Handy "Before & After" Guide to Chemical Peels - 7/6/18 Update
Since posting my Jessner peel photos, detailing the stages of the process, and writing my chemical peel blog review back in 2013, I've had quite a few Jessner peels (my favorite) and TCA peels. However, I've saved a ton of money over the past 6 months by doing my own chemical peels at home. At my last professional peel, I made a note of the product being used and did some research when I got home. I was able to buy the exact same one, Dermalure Jessner Solution Acid Peel 14%, from Amazon for less than the cost of a single peel. I also use Dermalure's AHA/BHA Acne Cleanser, which I apply before the Jessner. (Side note: There's currently a 1-star review for the at-home peel that complains "I had to deal with days upon days of gross peeling and flakey chunks of skin falling off my face (and I have super oily skin). If I happened to laugh really hard on a particular day or take a big bite ou…

The Ultimate Amerisleep Mattress Reviews Blog Post

Best Amerisleep Promo Code as of : $250 Off and free shipping both ways...not that you'll want to return it.

This is the ultimate Amerisleep mattresses blog post, featuring unbiased reviews collected over more than 6 years of ownership, photos, videos, FAQs, and more. There's additional sleep and Amerisleep-related information if you click my How to Sleep Better tab above. As a chronic insomniac (yes, even as a baby - my family insists I was a nightmare), the struggle to improve my sleep night after night is my life.


Memory foam mattress in a box - the future is here!

Disclaimer: 
These Amerisleep mattress reviews are NOT sponsored. Not in any way whatsoever. Unlike other "impartial" reviewers out there, I did NOT receive my Liberty Bed (AS3) for free. All of the opinions here are 100% my own. This is not a sponsored blog post and I have never been employed by Amerisleep. Unlike other "unbiased and impartial" sites out there, which churn out mattress reviews da…

Instant Pot Explosion

While you're here, please be sure to check out my Instant Pot recipes: Creamy Enchilada Rice and Cranberry Oatmeal with Quinoa
We love our Instant Pot, the digital pressure cooker that seems to suddenly be in every home. You can't mess up - just throw in random ingredients and you'll get something yummy every time. It's foolproof. At least, that's how I used to feel about our Instant Pot, until the explosion...

Ack! We just moved in and look what I've already done to my brand new, all-white kitchen!
I tried to re-seal the vent but the pressure was too high to cooperate. I'm honestly not sure what went wrong with this batch of oatmeal. I've made it a million times. The Instant Pot was only about halfway full.

Here is the link to my extra-healthy Super Oatmeal Instant Pot recipe, in case you are curious or a fan of the delicious. It probably won't explode when you make it.
Oatmeal? More like a batch of tasty homemade glue.
 I was bummed that my quic…

Dream Home Dreaming

*Update*
We've finally broken ground on our mountain dream home! Can you believe it? Even more surprising, we actually managed to work a good chunk of this list into our actual design. See below for details.

*Another Update*
We've finished construction and are finally living in our mountain dream home and it's even better than I'd hoped! Here is a sneak-peak of our new kitchen and living room. Click the "Decorating" button above for more photos.

Believe it or not, our budget was meager. Really! My husband built the coffee table from an olive trunk and did the thin brick backsplash himself. Eventually, he's going to take the brick all the way to the top of the ceiling. He also created the three-tier chandeliers (three chandeliers total - yeah, he's pretty great!). 
I was responsible for all of the shopping and decorating decisions and design details and layout. We had the tongue-and-groove installed upside down (rough-side down) with Sherwin Williams H…

A Nightmare Jessner Peel Side Effect

Almost as popular as my Amerisleep mattress reviews, the Jessner chemical peel post here on my blog has been a reader favorite for years. I'm still doing my own peels at home and still recommend this to anyone concerned about acne scars or wrinkles. However, last night I did have a Jessner peel scare.

As written before, timing is everything with a chemical peel. You don't want pieces of dead skin (yuck, right?) flaking off at work or at important social events. I've wanted to do one for months but things kept getting in the way, like extra days spent at work and our recent trip to California. Finally, last night I was able to treat myself to an at-home Jessner peel. (Using this product from Amazon, in case you want to try it for yourself.) I've done this so many times that the steps are automatic. I applied three layers of Jessner solution, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. Snuggled into our new mattress and a mountain of blankets, I fell into a deep sleep. I dreamed…

Cranberry Oatmeal with Quinoa - Instant Pot Recipe

In response to my popular Instant Pot Explosion blog post, I've had a few blog readers ask for my oatmeal recipe. This seems a bit odd...you guys aren't trying to recreate that gooey mess in your own kitchens, right? My recipe does make delicious, foolproof Instant Pot oatmeal. It's only for patient people though. Whatever you do, do not manually release the pressure valve at the end of the cooking cycle!

Super oatmeal. See the little specks? That's part of what makes it so super.
The best thing about my recipe is that it's much healthier than regular oatmeal recipes. Start your day with this and you can feel better about all those cookies and fried donuts and ice cream (I have a bit of a sweet tooth) you munch on throughout the rest of the day. This can also be made in a slow cooker or Crock Pot. I've been cooking up batches of my Super Oatmeal for years, long before I'd heard of the Instant Pot, and have even gifted the dry ingredients to health-conscious…

Family Size Bed (Because a King Mattress is Too Small)

Look! Up In The Sky! It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's...

(cue suspenseful music)

DUN NAH NUH
What's bigger than a king-size Amerisleep mattress? An Amerisleep Superbed!

As you know, my nerdy engineer husband, SN, and I recently ordered two new twin XL mattresses from Amerisleep. The AS4 bed didn't work out for us (too soft and mushy for our taste) but we loved the extra-firm AS2 bed. It's perfect for people who sleep on their back (SN) and on their stomach (me). SN liked it even better than the AS3 bed we'd slept on since 2012 and I thought it was at least equal to that mattress, which is now making our relatives happy in the guest bedroom. The AS2 costs a little less than the AS3 and a lot less than the AS4. Who would have thought the less expensive option would be the better choice, right? Money really doesn't buy happiness.
(Okay, in all honesty, I think I prefer the AS3 just a hair over the AS2. Your first choice is usually the right choice.)

We loved our …

Look Extra Amazing This Holiday - Zenmed Giveaway

You already know this post is all about sharing details on Zenmed products, but let me start with a few photos to illustrate how difficult it is for a new beauty product, let alone several, to win a place in my daily rotation.


As you can see, I have quite a few beauty items - lotions, serums, cleansers, etc. - cluttering my bathroom counter. I could also use a new clock, but I'm sentimental and the one I received in Kindergarten still works so well.
That's not so bad, you think? Oh, it gets better.

There may be a beauty product addiction at play here. Vitamins too, but I've already confessed to that here on this blog. If I recall correctly, I said I was not going to keep purchasing vitamins and supplements because they are a scam and a waste of money, possibly even a detriment to my health. But here we are.

Now you know why SN built me so many bathroom drawers. You don't even want to know what's in the cabinets. (Drawer fronts coming soon...or so I'm told.)
As with …

Flooring Ideas

Ever since we purchased our 13.1 acre (gotta get credit for that extra 0.1 acre!) lot outside of Albuquerque last year, Sexy Nerd and I have devoted most of our free time to planning our mountain dream home.

We cannot make a decision about anything. At this point, it seems our best option would be to build a row of townhomes, each in a completely different style. On Monday, we would live in our colorful Victorian home, and later in the week we could switch things up in our ultra-contemporary, all concrete house.

Since I can't imagine our neighborhood HOA (or our budget) ever allowing such a thing, we really do need to narrow down our list of ideas.

Flooring is a tough choice. In our current home, we have premium laminate flooring. It stands up well against our rambunctious dogs, but is easily damaged if you unknowingly drip water onto it and let it sit, like by the dog's water bowl and the dishwasher. We also have real wood flooring on our stairs and our bedroom sitting area,…