Washington D.C. in photos

When I was planning my recent trip to Washington D.C., there was very little I definitely had to do or see. I’ve heard from many people – basically anyone who’s been – that there is so much ground to cover in D.C. that I’d have no chance of seeing everything in a mere three days. So aside from two requests – a nerdy journalism venture to the Newseum and a nostalgic meal at Nando’s – I decided to leave myself at the mercy of my host and good friend Courtney, who has visited D.C. countless times and moved there in November.

The White House, Washington DC

The White House

The Washington Monument on a foggy day, Washington DC

The Washington Monument

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC

The Lincoln Memorial

The many monuments along the National Mall were, of course, a priority. Our designated sight-seeing day turned out to be foggy and dreary (oh, east coast winters), but it was still cool to see things that I’d only ever seen in photographs. The Lincoln Memorial, especially, is so much grander in person that I could have ever imagined. I can’t wait to go back in the spring and check out the views from the back of the memorial – I’ve heard they’re incredible, but we couldn’t even see across the river last weekend.

Sunset on the National Mall, Washington DC

Naturally, the next day – originally forecasted as a rainy one – was mostly sunny and clear, so we went back to the Mall for sunset.

Front pages at the Newseum, Washington DC

The Newseum, of course, was heaven for a nerdy writer like me. I could have spent days there, and in fact might get myself a membership next time. (It pays for itself in three visits, and I can see this being a stop every time I’m in town!) Here, all of the day’s front pages are displayed. It was a really interesting day to go, as we were smack in the middle of NFL playoffs, and it was also the day after Rolling Stone published Sean Penn’s interview with El Chapo. There was a really interesting mix of front pages!

Chinatown, Washington DC

Chinatown

Nando's, Washington DC

Nando’s is a chicken restaurant founded in Johannesburg, and it would be an understatement to say I became addicted when traveling in Africa last fall. Tragically, there are no locations in New York, but there are many in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia region. I dragged Courtney and her fiance here for lunch one day and was pretty much the happiest person on earth.

The Washington Monument, Washington DC

Thanks for having me, Courtney! And thanks to JJ for putting up with my presence on his couch all weekend. I can’t wait to come back and explore more of D.C.!

What did I miss that you think I absolutely need to see next time? For more on my Washington trip, see my video here.

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Washington D.C. in video

You probably know by now that one of my goals for 2016 is to take 12 trips. Twelve! It sounds like so many, especially considering that I have a full-time job and a relatively tiny income for New York City. But I am determined to make it happen, and especially to show that it is possible to travel even if you have time and financial restrictions.

Last weekend, I got a jump start on my 12 trips by taking the Megabus down to Washington D.C. I am fortunate to have long weekends built into my work schedule – two every month! – and I try to take advantage of these by taking vacations without using any paid time off. I was able to leave New York early Friday morning and get back Monday afternoon, just in time to be in the office by 5 p.m. Altogether, the travel portion (transportation and accommodation) cost me $26 – because I am also fortunate that my good friend Courtney lives in the District! Traveling to visit friends and crashing on their couches is my favorite way to save money (and I also love hosting my friends in Brooklyn!)

It was my first-ever trip to D.C. and we struck the perfect balance of sightseeing (my only request was a visit to the Newseum, which happened), and catching up. Here’s a little glimpse into the excitement!

Washington D.C. from Leigh Anne Zinsmeister on Vimeo.

Thanks for a great weekend, Courtney! Stay tuned for photos, stories, and a delightful guide to Washington D.C.

2015 in review

2015 is drawing to a close, and it has been quite a year. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how fast it went, or that I can’t believe it’s over, because you already know and everyone says the same thing. I said a year ago that 2015 was going to be a year of commitment and stability, and I was right: I’m writing to you now from the same Brooklyn apartment, where I live with the same roommate (plus one!) after a long day at the same job. It was a good year, don’t get me wrong – but I’m looking forward to some excitement in 2016. Before that, though, here’s a glimpse of the past 12 months in this delightful life of mine.

 

Winter Storm Juno 2015 in Manhattan

January & February

I’m clumping these two together because they were frankly the same: Work, schlep home in the snow, repeat. Before winter began I joked about hibernating from first snow to my mid-April birthday, and it ended up being a little more real than I anticipated. My friend Nicole did visit in February, and we ate our way around Manhattan for two days, which was a nice way to break up the monotony of the coldest New York February in nearly a century!

Also: I lead my first community group at Liberty Church, spent a day on the Upper West Side, prepared for a blizzard that never came, and went 21 days without social media.

The suburbs of Cleveland

March

In March I finally snapped out of my Brooklyn routine and flew to Cleveland for a girls weekend with my family! It was just the spark I needed to snap out of my winter funk: I reunited with my mom, sister, aunt and cousin – and remembered just how cool my birthplace can be.

Also: I celebrated one year in New York City with the best friends I could ever ask for.

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

April

With April came the spring we had all been waiting for. I spent the month cherishing the opportunity to be outside, venturing to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to soak up the sun and admire the cherry blossoms. April also brought my twenty-fifth birthday and all of the reflection that comes with such a milestone.

Also: The first-ever She Is Free conference, and Becca and I welcomed our third roommate, Faby!

One World Trade Center on a foggy day

May

May was supposed to bring a vacation, but I couldn’t get my act together in time and ended up with a New York staycation, one of my favorite things! Unfortunately, I got hit with a pretty bad head cold in the middle of it, and May got boring, but at least I wasn’t out of town when I got sick – and didn’t have to use sick days at work. Before I became bed-bound, I did see Mamma Mia!, visit One World Observatory for the first time, and pop by the Whitney – one of my favorite museums.

Also: I picnicked at Prospect Park for Memorial Day, and welcomed a slew of friends to my neighborhood as Crown Heights suddenly became “cool.”

Boston as seen from the Prudential Tower

June

In June my long-planned vacation finally fell together, and I headed off to Boston on my first solo trip. I had an incredible few days doing whatever the heck I wanted: Basically a dream come true!

Highlights included going to the top of the Prudential Tower, walking the Freedom Trail, and catching a game at Fenway Park.

The Venice Canals of Los Angeles

July

I kept up my summer travel streak by hopping over to the West Coast to reunite with some of my favorites:  I crashed with my college bestie Kathleen (also my unofficial blog adviser) met up with my aunt and uncle, and took a vow to never ever go two years without visiting California again!

Highlights of my LA trip include seeing the Venice Canals, visiting the Getty and hanging out in my favorite LA neighborhood, Santa Monica.

New York City as seen from the Top of the Rock

August

I kept still in August, but the excitement found me! My sister Ally came to visit over her nineteenth birthday, and we had adventures including a picnic dinner, a trip to Top of the Rock, and as much junk food as I could shovel into her health-conscious body. Hosting visitors is one of my favorite parts of living in New York (seriously, come visit), and I cherish getting to show off “my” city to people who have only seen the touristy parts before.

Also: I took a cruise around New York Harbor with my besties, started using Vimeo, and celebrated one year of A Genuine Delight!

New York City as seen from One World Observatory

September

The beginning of fall brought more visitors, with my parents and cousin overlapping their visits – and my best friend Jordan following shortly thereafter! There was a lot of sightseeing, including a one-day whilrwind, and catching up with loved ones. Bonus that I didn’t have to leave New York to make it happen!

Also: I launched my delightful guide to NYC!

A giraffe at Kruger National Park, South Africa

October

October was the defining month of my year: I took my first trip to Africa, mainly to do missions work with Children’s Cup, but ended up having the most transforming week of my entire life. From hitting the plains on a safari to getting to know my sponsor child in person, I am absolutely not the same person I was when I left, and I have a suspicion this trip was really only the start of a journey for me.

No “alsos” here. Africa defined October – and 2015 – and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Santa Claus at the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

November

I was worried November would feel like my life screeching to a halt, but luckily I fell right back in love with New York City – and even with fall! I spent the month jumping in piles of leaves, eating tacos in the neighborhood, and celebrating Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones – even if we don’t share blood.

Also: I checked “Go to the Macy’s Parade” off my bucket list, and tricked my travel bug into thinking I’d left the city by trekking out to Queens County Farm.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

December

December has been blissfully, blessedly uneventful. I spent lazy days with friends, had some freelance work published for the first time in years, and celebrated Christmas in Brooklyn for the second year in a row. I really cherish getting to slow down when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy!

Also: I ate my weight in snickerdoodles and saw a lot of Christmas trees.

Other highlights of 2015 include reading 38 books (on a goal of 30!), having my photos featured on Instagram by @travelmail and @nypost, and becoming a little more comfortable with commitment (to the city, to my job, to a blog). Tomorrow we’ll look to the year ahead – but for tonight, I hope you have the loveliest time celebrating all we’ve done in 2015.

Happy new year, friends!

Festive Phoenix

By now, you all know how much I love Christmas in New York City – with the exception of that pesky winter weather, of course. So last week, I spent a few days venturing around Phoenix, Arizona, where I lived for 6 years before moving to NYC. The weather was a beautiful 60 degrees and the holiday decorations, very festive and  very Arizona

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It’s hard to tell, but every year this mountain (“A” Mountain) near Arizona State University features giant fake wisemen making their way to the top. I like to joke that the gifts they bring are likely vodka, rum and tequila.

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Merry Christmas Eve! Where are your favorite holiday decorations in the world?

It’s Election Day: Go vote!

Just a quick PSA to remind you that midterm elections are today in America, so if you’re in the USA, go exercise your right to vote and cast a ballot!

Election Day 2014If you’re lucky like me, your polling station will be nearly empty and you’ll be able to use the extra time you allowed to treat yourself to a coffee and some alone time before the rest of your day gets rolling.

I don’t care why you vote (they give you a sticker! your friends will think you’re cool!) and I certainly don’t care who or what you vote for. Just GO VOTE!