washington dc

LOCAL, EVENTS

LOCAL II Drawing Night with The Lemon Collective on 2/27

saguaro pattern.jpg

TLC Drawing Night

2/27/19 at She Loves me

I’m so excited to be joining the amazing local girl gang behind The Lemon Collective for drawing night on February 27! This is literally a dream come true as I’ve been following their work since I moved to D.C. I hope you’ll join me in Holley’s beautiful new space on the 27th!

I’ll will guide the group through a series of plant still life arrangements at She Loves Me, a flower shop in Petworth, featuring a variety of fabrics, textures, and, of course, cacti. We'll start quickly, with 1 minute drawings to warm up, and then increase the time you have to sketch each arrangement as the night progresses.

Tickets: $10 

Sign up here!

NO DRAWING EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. This is a fun relaxed evening of casual drawing with people you might know, people you've just heard of, people you've stalked on instagram, and perfect strangers. IT'S GOING TO GREAT.

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT A CLASS, PLEASE BYO DRAWING SUPPLIES

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MURALS

MURALS II Shaw Yoga Mural Timelapse

A timelapse of the mural I painted for Shaw Yoga in Washington, D.C. The design is original, designed by me in collaboration with the owners.

I’m finally back to the blog after a few months away and I’m excited to share the process for one of my biggest projects to date—my mural for Shaw Yoga!

Now, this timelapse video is definitely not perfect. I had a snafu with my iPad and the longest video of the first part of the mural was deleted, but it’s still really fun to see this come to life. It’s amazing how over 15 hours of work can be condensed into just 3 minutes!

A few huge thank yous to those who made this happen:

  • To Parker and Liz of Shaw Yoga, thank you so much for this opportunity and for being the most wonderful collaborators! It was a joy to work on this with you both!

  • To my very sweet husband (who makes several appearances in this video) for spotting me on the ladder, bringing me food, water, a million other things I forgot, and keeping me company late at night.

  • My wonderful friend Raynie who came and took progress photos of me!

  • All of you for following along as this project took shape! It has been especially amazing to see so many of you visiting the studio and taking photos with the mural.

I learned so much from this mural and am really hoping to paint more this year. If you have a project in mind, please hit me up! Rates start at $500 (varies based on complexity and size).

P.S. Tomorrow evening, Parker will be choosing the three winners of our joint giveaway. Follow along on Instagram to see if it’s you!

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Shouk

This week’s D.C. illustration is one of my favorite fast casual spots in the city: Shouk!

Desert 2 District Design II Shouk Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Desert 2 District Design II Shouk Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Shouk serves modern Israeli street food and all of it happens to be vegan. There are so many delicious items, but a few of my favorites are the cauliflower bowl, breakfast bowl (featuring an “omelet” made from chickpeas) and the chopped salad. The polenta fries are also delicious and unique. If you like spice, their Harissa sauce is a great addition to any of their dishes. 

The location I illustrated is their original, located on K Street NW, in between 6th and 7th. They also recently opened a location in Union Market. Let me know if you check them out! 

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STYLE

STYLE II Hawaii Vacation

Desert 2 District Design II Hawaii packing list

Desert 2 District Design II Hawaii packing list

We got back from Hawaii last week and I’m already having vacation withdrawals. I painted every day. We started each morning with leisurely coffee on the balcony. We cooked every day. We saw some beautiful sights, and got to be outside at least half the day every day. I loved it. After this outfit post, I'm next going to put together a Princeville, HI travel guide to recap what we saw, ate and did during our visit. Check back soon for a fun illustrated map of the area!

Here are a few of my favorite outfits from the trip. I'm one happy girl when I get to where floral prints and be outside all day. 

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

This week’s D.C. illustration is a new favorite of mine—Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

Ever since I went vegan about a year ago, I have been wanting to try this restaurant, which offers a raw vegan tasting menu every Friday. We celebrated two years as D.C. condo owners in June and Elizabeth’s Gone Raw was the perfect place to celebrate.

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Desert 2 District Design II Elizabeth’s Gone Raw illustration

I was totally blown away by each course. My non-vegan husband was equally impressed by the variety and depth of flavors throughout our meal. The setting is also very classic, yet homey, and the service is exceptional. I can’t wait to go back and think this will be my go-to celebration spot from now on.  

Scroll through a few of the dishes we were served during our visit. The menu changes constantly so you’ll always be trying something new with each visit. Thank you for a beautiful meal, Elizabeth’s Gone Raw! 

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LOCAL

LOCAL II SUNdeVICH

Weekly D.C. illustrations are back and I’m starting off with one of my neighborhood favorites— SUNdeVICH!

Desert 2 District II SUNdeVICH sandwich shop in Washington, D.C. 

Desert 2 District II SUNdeVICH sandwich shop in Washington, D.C. 

Although our neighborhood has a great selection of higher-end eateries and bars, there are a limited number of fast casual or takeout places. Luckily, the small selection we do have is excellent and that includes this neighborhood sandwich shop. As a plant-based eater, the menu options for me are a little limited, but I LOVE the veggie options they do have. I almost always order the Cairo, which has hummus, cucumber, brined veggies and walnuts. It. Is. Delicious. I have been assured by my omnivore husband that the meat options here are also excellent, so there’s something for everyone. 

I also appreciate that SUNdeVICH works to keep things local, with local, fresh-baked bread and locally-sourced produce and meat. They even have their own veggie and herb garden on their roof. 

Have you been? If so, what’s your favorite sandwich? I also love getting your recommendations!

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Crumbs & Whiskers Cat Cafe

Desert 2 District II Crumbs & Whiskers Cat Cafe

Desert 2 District II Crumbs & Whiskers Cat Cafe

As you'll know if you follow me on Instagram, I am a huge cat lover. My husband and I have adopted two cats together--Data and Mo--from different animals shelters in Arizona and D.C. and I love to support animal adoption and organizations that help homeless animals. Naturally, I've been in love with Crumbs & Whiskers, D.C.'s first and only cat cafe, since it opened and I'm so happy to spotlight them today!

Desert 2 District II My visit to C&O

Desert 2 District II My visit to C&O

Not only is the cafe beautifully designed, light-filled and full of friendly staff, adorable cats and punny merch and coffee drinks (I loved my "Meow You Doin" coffee sleeve!), but they also do so much to improve the lives of homeless cats. To date, they have gotten 627 cats adopted,  donated $22K to animal charities, and saved 1,394 from euthanasia. 

They also give cats a lovely home while they await adoption. All of the cats at the cafe are available for adoption--and believe me, it'll be hard to not fall in love with one of them while you're there. 

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Farmers & Distillers Spotlight

Desert 2 District Design II Farmers & Distillers illustration

This week's spotlight is a new favorite of mine. This company has multiple D.C. location, but each one is unique, and the one I like best and that happens to be in my neighborhood is Farmers & Distillers

The company itself is very unique, with an emphasis on family farms and sustainability. The company is majority-owned by family farmers. At this new location, there is also a craft distillery and they serve signature cocktails with their own liquors that are made on-site in the middle of the city. Farmers & Distillers is located on Massachusetts Avenue NW near Chinatown in Washington, D.C. 

My Impossible Burger, complete with vegan bun!

My Impossible Burger, complete with vegan bun!

One major reason I've become obsessed with this restaurant is that they are one of the few locations in the city that serve the Impossible Burger. As a fairly new vegan, I still have meat cravings every now and then, and this "burger," which is made completely from plants, TOTALLY satisfies it. Even my omnivore husband prefers it to their regular burgers. It is so. good. And it makes me happy that this restaurant serves it and is has created a menu that can also cater to people with different dietary restrictions. I highly recommend trying it, but even if you're not interested, Farmers & Distillers has a huge, delicious menu, which makes it the perfect place to go with bigger groups or to take people from out of town. Let me know if you go and, in particular, if you try the Impossible Burger while you're there!

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Olde City Farm & Garden Spotlight

Desert 2 District Design II Olde City Farm and Garden

Desert 2 District Design II Olde City Farm and Garden

The first day of spring was earlier this week and, even though it snowed that day, it got me excited to visit one of my favorite places in D.C.--Olde City Farm & Garden.

The farm and garden, located on Rhode Island Ave. NW in Shaw, is the perfect outdoor oasis in the middle of the city. I love to go there get away from city life and wander the rows and rows of plants. It's a large space that's full of all kinds of plants--from vegetables to flowers to trees for your landscaping project--and extremely knowledgeable and kind staff. They love what they do and it shows. Their selection also changes with the seasons so you can get pumpkins in the fall and a fresh Christmas tree in the winter. 

They also are a wonderful community space as well and they host all kinds of fun events, including yoga classes and arts festivals. You can find me there a few times a year during their festivals, along with other awesome D.C. creatives and local businesses. I'll be updating my fairs & events page with upcoming events soon if you'd like to follow along. 

The farm and garden is still closed for the winter, but you won't have to wait long to visit. They reopen at 9am on March 31st. Can't wait to stock up for my spring garden!

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Morris American Bar Spotlight

DC Spots

Morris American Bar

Last week, we went to Morris American Bar on a date and we are hooked. We love the whimsical yet classical design, the ambiance and music and, of course, the cocktails. 

Located in the Shaw/Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Northwest D.C., Morris is tucked away on 7th Street between New York and L in the Convention Center. It's a small, intimate space that you could miss if not for the fantastic sign that I painted above that greets you and points you in the right direction. 

Desert 2 District Design II Morris American Bar

Desert 2 District Design II Morris American Bar

We were seated at a little table in the corner with the BEST hooded rattan chair and a great view of the bar. I love how everything in the bar is this lovely baby The service was fast and attentive. We ordered from the menu (which changes monthly), but they also offer to make a custom drink for you based on your tastes and preferred spirit. 

My husband got a play on a Manhattan that was fantastic and I got a champagne mojito. I had never thought that mint and champagne would go together, but it was delicious and would be perfect for a sunny day. 

We love this new spot in our neighborhood and will definitely be back to try next month's cocktail menu. I'd definitely recommend stopping in for a cocktail for or two!

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LOCAL

LOCAL II Buttercream Bakeshop Spotlight

Desert 2 District Design II Buttercream Bakeshop Interior

Desert 2 District Design II Buttercream Bakeshop Interior

If you've seen this interior in person, then you're probably lucky enough to have sampled some of Buttercream Bakeshop's delicious baked goods. Located on 9th Street NW between M and N in Shaw/Mt. Vernon, this is one of the sweetest (in every way) shops I've been to in D.C. They not only have creative, delicious baked goods, but also adorable decor, fresh flowers for sale, and Compass Coffee (featured here)--what else do you need in life?

If you're looking for baked goods for an event, they can help you there too. Their instagram is full of beautiful confections--including most recently CACTUS CAKESICLES! I am constantly inspired by their creativity, artistry, and flavors. And, if you're newly vegan like me, they always have at least one vegan treat for you. I've been loving their Mexican chocolate cookie lately--delicious, rich chocolate with a little kick of spice. 

They are also located just around the corner from Shaw Yoga (featured here), so if you need a treat before or after class, this is the perfect place to stop! 

Heading out to explore some more of the city! Where should I go next?

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LOCAL, LIFE, DIY

LOCAL II Compass Coffee Spotlight

Happy Saturday! I'm continuing my new D.C. local biz series with one of my favorite coffee shops in the city--Compass Coffee!

My Compass Coffee soy latte from a coffee break earlier this week.

My Compass Coffee soy latte from a coffee break earlier this week.

I'm actually sipping some of their coffee right now that I brewed this morning. I  love the vibe and design of their brand, but what keeps me coming back is their delicious coffee. I make a lot of coffee at home, usually a big batch of cold brew that I use throughout the week, and their coffee is great no matter where you make it/how you brew it.

I painted their 7th Street location, which is the original and the place they roast their coffee. It's a lovely location, but if it's not near you, there are now so many options for you to get your caffeine fix from Compass. They have a bunch of other locations AND their coffee is served in a lot of other local businesses, like Union Kitchen Grocery and Buttercream Bakery.

If you do have a chance to go to one of their locations, I highly recommend their nitro cold brew coffee. I honestly haven't had anything like it elsewhere. It's the perfect light coffee for a warm day and since it's cold brew, it lacks the acidity or bitterness of traditionally brewed coffee, which keeps my stomach happy.

If you're like me and like to brew your own coffee at home, they have fantastic coffee and a helpful labeling system so you can choose the coffee that most suits your taste. I am also a little obsessed with their canisters and have a small collection of them that I re-use for all kinds of things, including pen holders (you can actually see one hanging in my art area post--I've just covered it in old paint palettes) and planters. This picture is from a few months back, but you can see my little plants growing happily in their Compass Coffee canisters.

Desert 2 District Design II Compass Coffee canister window garden

Desert 2 District Design II Compass Coffee canister window garden

Let me know if you check them out! If you have any other ideas for how I can re-use my canister collection, let me know in the comments as well. 

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LOCAL, LIFE

LOCAL II Shaw Yoga Spotlight

Desert 2 District Design II Shaw Yoga Spotlight

Desert 2 District Design II Shaw Yoga Spotlight

I'm starting a new series that I'm really excited about--each Saturday I'll illustrate one of my favorite D.C. small businesses and share about it here. My business is still a baby, but I've been so overwhelmed by how supportive and amazing the small business and art communities in D.C. are so I want to keep spreading the love.

First up... Shaw Yoga!

This place has become my yoga home. We're lucky in D.C. that there are so many great studios and teachers to choose from. Before I found this studio, I bounced around from studio to studio, trying out their new member specials (most studios have a 1-2 week special price for new students) or hopping around via Classpass. I started at SY in a similar way, purchasing their new member special ($20 for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga!) and I was hooked. There's something so special about the teachers here and the community that the owners, Parker and Liz, have built. I've been going to classes, volunteering (even updating the chalkboards!), and making friends, there for over a year now and it has truly become a home away from home for me. 

If you're a fellow yogi or aspiring yogi, I highly recommend checking out this studio. They are tucked away in the cutest alley, Naylor Court, off of 9th Street NW, between N and O, across from Sundevich. If you're on 9th, turn left into the alley before you get to A&D.

I painted their illustration before they got their beautiful mural (painted by the talented Billy Colbert), but you won't be able to miss Ganesh welcoming you to the studio!

 

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STYLE, LIFE

STYLE II Playa del Carmen Anniversary Weekend

Desert 2 District Design II Playa del Carmen packing list

Desert 2 District Design II Playa del Carmen packing list

Last weekend, my husband and I celebrated 11 years together in beautiful Playa del Carmen.

This was my first time visiting this region of Mexico and I was just blown away. The weather was gorgeous, the ocean was so warm and bright, and the city was so vibrant. I can't wait to go back!

Today, I'm sharing a couple of the outfits I put together from this packing list. Thanks for following along! 

I was totally obsessed with this beautiful piece that hung in our room. It's making me want to add more bright colors to my painting palette and to try to paint whimsical patterns like this.

Desert 2 District Design II art selfie

Desert 2 District Design II art selfie

Desert 2 District Design II outfit no. 1

outfit

no. 1

I found this lovely high-waisted skirt at Unique Thrift, a gigantic thrift store in Falls Church, VA, and paired it with an old Old Navy cami and Charles David sandals (found on consignment at Clementine in Richmond, VA). If you're ever in Richmond and have some time, I highly recommend Clementine and their sister stores. If you can't make the trip, they actually also have an online shop as well! Some great finds there for sure. I threw this on before heading out to explore Playa del Carmen.

Desert 2 District Design II outfit no. 2

outfit

no. 2

In the afternoon, we headed to the beach and then came back and hung out at our hotel's rooftop pool. I broke out my new Poppy Apparel swimsuit and threw on a thrifted cover-up and my favorite hat from ThredUp. This isn't a great photo of my swimsuit, but it is seriously so flattering and comfortable. I highly recommend it if you like the high-waisted style. Use code "desert2district" for 10% off your order at Poppy Apparel.

Desert 2 District Design II outfit no. 3

outfit

no. 3

After washing up and grabbing dinner, we ended the night with a couple cervezas on the roof. I paired my comfiest thrifted cut-off shorts with this off cold-shoulder top (originally from Nordstrom Rack, similar here). 

Thanks for following along! I'll be rounding up a map of the places we visited on our trip soon. I'm thinking this is a good time to try my hand at a watercolor map...

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LIFE

LIFE II Date Night Ideas (2/18 in 2018)

Desert 2 District Design II Heidi Nielson

Desert 2 District Design II Heidi Nielson

I've been working on checking things off of my 18 in 2018 list (inspired by the wonderful Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast) and one of the most fun things on my list is to go on weekly dates with my husband. We've been married for almost two years, but have been together for over 10. As you can imagine, it's easy to get into a routine when you've been together for so long. Our weekly date nights have been so fun to plan and have been a wonderful way to spend quality time together, usually doing something new. 

I've collected a few of my current favorite date night ideas. We've cooked new recipes twice now (including these vegan carrot "hot dogs" and this vegan spinach artichoke pizza). We've gone on walks around our neighborhood, went couch shopping and stopped in at a new-to-us tea bar & cafe, and we're planning an indoor camping night for this weekend! It's been a blast and thinking ahead to the number of dates we get to plan this year prompted me to round up some low-cost date ideas so I'll always have a resource to look back to when it's July and we're on date number 28 (and to hopefully give some of you some ideas as well!). Here are a few I'm looking forward to:

  1. Visiting museums! We're lucky to live in a city full of some of the best free museums, Washington, D.C. I can't wait to visit the Hirshhorn's upcoming exhibit, PULSE or see some old favorites at the National Gallery. Even if your city doesn't have many free museums, most museums offer one free day each month, often on the first Saturday or Sunday of the month.
  2. Getting outside. I'm especially excited to hike some new trails this spring/summer and to check off another item on my 18 in 2018 list---camping! I'm excited to go to Shenandoah National Park, but am also looking forward to visiting some smaller state parks in Virginia and Maryland as well. When we don't have a full weekend to spare, I am definitely looking forward to renting bikes and riding around the monuments. 
  3. Trying new activities together! I just heard about Bad Axe Throwing opening in D.C. and am excited to check it out. Other ideas: splashcycle at the Watergate hotel, renting a kayak or stand-up paddle board, or playing the indoor mini golf course at H Street Country Club

What are your go-to affordable date ideas? I'd love to add more to our list!

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Back Story

Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

I'm Heidi, the creator and owner of Desert 2 District Design. I moved to D.C. in 2015 after spending most of my life in Arizona. I absolutely love D.C., but found myself a little homesick and missing some of my favorite desert plants (cacti, of course), the endless sunshine, and the laid-back vibes of the Southwest, so I started painting as a way to unwind and to bring some of the desert to my new home. It's been almost a year since I started my Instagram account, and I've been so surprised and grateful to find this beautiful and supportive community of artists and art lovers. 

If you know me from Instagram, you probably know that I love to paint (mostly watercolor), letter, bullet journal, and collage. I'm hoping to share more of my art here, but to also share more of myself--my love of travel, reading, cooking delicious vegan food, and yoga. 

I hope you'll follow along and say hi!

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