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Forget the HHs, go volunteer

May 13, 2010
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I’ve lived in New York, Minneapolis, and made several trips to Chicago, but no city seems to love the organized happy hour more than Washington DC. There are at least 3 to 4 fundraiser happy hours every week, The Park at 14th has a popular happy hour every Friday, and there are countless other places that have a designated night for their official happy hours. Most people say they go to them to network (gag) and meet new people. but there are other ways to meet new people and avoid awkward conversation starters. Instead of going to another HH, go volunteer with One Brick.

One Brick DC is an organization that provides support to local non-profit and community organizations by creating a unique, social and flexible volunteer environment for those interested in making a concrete difference in the community. I volunteered at a few One Brick events when I lived in Minneapolis and really enjoyed my experience. But unlike usual volunteer events where you just go to help and leave, they usually have some type of social gathering afterwards. When I went to early morning activities, they would organize a brunch or lunch after. So if you’re looking for a new way to meet new people, I highly recommend checking out the One Brick DC calendar and signing up for an event. http://washingtondc.onebrick.org/calendar/

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Apartment shopping in the jungle pt 5

May 10, 2010
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Onyx Apartment/Condos in the Navy Yard area

Yes, the search is still on. My friend and I deciding not to live together, so now I have to start a new search in this DC concrete jungle. I’m on the lookout for a nice 1 bedroom apartment, but I’m on a serious budget. Despite my budget, I want to live in either an apartment in a rowhome or in an apartment building with an outdoor pool ( I know, I know I’m not being too realistic; but if I aim . I learned 2 lessons this past week:

Living with a roommate really helps reduce expenses overall and fights off the lonely bug, but sometimes living with a close friend isn’t a good idea. I’ve lived with roommates in college, but schedules and directions in life are very different now compared to how they were in college. The idea may seem great at first, but as you start looking you might notice that it’s best not to live together. And there’s nothing wrong with parting ways and starting a new search. Just don’t get discouraged and make a list of what you really want and go apartment hunting!

I’ve found that I run into more scams on Craiglslist when I look for a 1 bedroom, so I’ve decided to also spend my time looking the old-fashion way and walk around neighborhoods I like. I walked around my favorite neighborhoods and looked for “For Rent” signs or attractive apartment buildings. I spent some time in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in NW and the Capitol Hill area in SE on Saturday and the Navy Yard area in SE  on Sunday. I was surprised to find several places I didn’t see online and some small places for rent. I’ll keep this up until I find a place. June 1st is my goal move-in date!

The Concrete Jungle Debate

May 3, 2010

A few weeks ago at work, one of the assistants asked me what I thought about the city of Chicago. I told her it was one of my favorite cities, because it’s a big city that actually really clean, has a great beach on Lake Michigan, Millennium Park is beautiful, and the shopping is pretty fantastic. But another assistant didn’t agree with me, she thinks Chicago is small and the people aren’t very open-minded. She said she likes New York better, specifically Manhattan (no surprise). So of course this opened the debate about which Concrete Jungle is the best and why. Everyone knows people who love either New York, Philadelphia, DC, or any major city really love their cities and really dislike anything that’s not their city. I don’t have a strong pull towards any of the 3 cities I named, because I think each place has something really great to offer to junglettes:

New York: Great jewelry shopping for cheap prices, fun nights in the summer, great restaurants, and a fashion scene that’s idolized all over the world

Philadelphia: Fantastic live/local music scene, strong afro-centric lifestyle, and easy to get away from the city hustle and bustle.

Washington DC: Very diverse population, clean and efficient public transit, and a great young professional social scene.

Best the best thing about these cities is that they’re all very close to each other and when you feel like you need to experience something different from your jungle, you can easily hop on the bus and visit someone else’s concrete jungle.

Apartment shopping in the jungle pt 4

April 29, 2010
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Popular picture that circled the internet when areas in Brooklyn, NY that were once considered completely off-limits were being gentrified .

Yes, I’m still looking for that perfect place in DC to live. I saw one place this week that I really liked, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. I’m still going to continue my search and keep emailing and calling people. Since we’re looking at places in SE, NE, and my favorite Waterfront area in SW; we’re seeing a lot of places in areas that were once considered bad neighborhoods in DC. I have very mixed feelings about the places we’ve seen in the newly or soon-to-be gentrified areas. Gentrification is when cities decide to build higher income housing in areas where lower-income housing was. I think U St is a prime example of DC’s gentrification and how it can change the feel of an entire neighborhood. You can tell that Ben’s Chili Bowl is one of the few places on U St that survived the change over the years. It’s great that DC is growing and flourishing as a city, but it is sad to see mostly African-America people being moved out of the city.

I don’t have any jungle tips for how to handle viewing properties in gentrified areas, but I did hear a promising story about low-income housing that is keeping people in good places in DC. There is a low-income housing development in SE in the Congress Heights area, Wheeler Terrace, that moved everyone out this past January. Then, the Community Preservation and Development Corporation helped green all the apartments by installing energy-efficient appliances, using recycled tile for the kitchen and bathroom, and installing water flow adjustment toilets. They also built playgrounds for young children in each courtyard and planted trees. And they moved everyone that wanted to move back into the complex back a few weeks ago. Here’s a great article about greening Wheeler Terrace: http://greenhome.org/latest/wheeler_terrace_rebuilding_a_c.html. It’s my hopes that this trend continues to across DC and gentrification isn’t the only thing I see when I’m walking around.

Bracelets for good!

April 28, 2010

I get forwarded and informed about a lot of great initiatives and projects through my job. And I’m noticing a trend in fashion meets compassion goods that I really like; bracelets. But they aren’t rubber band Livestrong bracelets, they’re usually beautiful handmade beaded bracelets made by people are using their talents to make a difference. I’m still keeping my eyes open for some local DC Junglettes that make bracelets and donate some of the proceeds to charity. If you know any or if you are one, please let me know! Here are a few of my favorites ( I love BoJangles aka bracelets!):

loveDBM, The diamond in gold dipped bracelet; $36

loveDBM: cheeky gems and jewels handmade by an eighteen year old designer living in MIA and NYC.
portions of proceeds benefit St. Jude children’s research hospital.

Bracelets for Haiti: Rachel Trachtenberg & Larissa Wiaziwsky decided to make bracelets for Haiti. They range in price from $1-$20.  All proceeds donated benefit American Red Cross: Haiti Relief and Development. Visit their Facebook page to see all the bracelets they have: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bracelets-for-Haiti-Help-make-a-difference/259183309086

Jungle Pet Peeve: Sneakers and suits

April 26, 2010

One of my biggest DC concrete jungle pet peeves is seeing women walking around in the morning or after work in suits and sneakers. And they manage to wear the worst looking mom, uncool, Sketchers looking sneakers. I just don’t understand why women here think this is acceptable, especially when they are so many options outside of wearing sneakers. But I do understand if you want to be comfortable during your walk to your office, but there are so many ways you can feel comfortable and look great. With spring here and warm weather, you can wear flats, ankle booties, sandals (no flip-flops, DON’T wear flip-flops!), or rain boots when it’s raining. Put your sneakers in your gym bag if you like to workout during your lunch or after work. And if you feel that any of the options I suggested aren’t comfortable, please invest in insoles.

And yes I know that it’s unfair that men can wear suits with Chuck Taylors or Nike Dunks and make it look cool, but we can get over it and vow not to wear sneakers with suits anymore!

Eco-Chic: Reusable bags

April 22, 2010
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Happy Earth Day! I got hooked to using reusable bags last year when I worked for Target Corporation. I have them in almost every size; even my lunch bag is a small Target usable bag. Now that DC has the 5 cent bag tax, I’m even happier I keep a reusable bag with me at all times. I keep my Reisenthel bag in my purse and my Goodwill “Shop Green” bag in my car. I’ve collected so many bags that I use them for every shopping trip, not just grocery shopping. And now, my pile of unused bags under the kitchen sink isn’t overflowing. Not only are these bags environmental friendly, but they’re also really chic! Here are some of my favorites:

Reisenthel Bag; $8.95
Love this bag! I keep it in my purse all the time because it neatly folds into its own round, zippered pouch. And it looks really great

Forever 21 Girl Tote; $3.50
Cheap and perfect for spring trips to the farmers market

Target World Shopper bag; $13.99
A very strong bag for those big grocery shopping trips.

Target Standard Reusable bag; .99 cents

You can also get great reusable bags from Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and Walmart.