Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Theme of the Week

(At the end you can see Kermit doing a Fred Astaire number!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Wish List

Sometimes there are small things in life that you don't need around most of the time, but when the time comes, they are absolutely necessary. Most notable are the garlic press (have you tried just mincing garlic into tiny little pieces with a knife??) and the pastry cutter (infinity more useful than two forks when attacking butter for biscuits or streusel).

I've got a new item for my wish list, and unfortunately it can't fit as nicely into my kitchen utensil drawer.

It's a garage.

With lots of free time on my hands these days, I'm opting to busy myself with crafty projects (and oh yes---don't worry parents and in-laws---job searching!). Over the weekend I picked up some old window sashes salvaged from a 1920s warehouse across the river. They're quite dirty and in need of some new paint, so I'm trying to picture how this washing and painting will go down on my small front balcony. Then I starting wishing for other things: an electric screwdriver, a hose, an air compressor, some heavy duty nails. Man, I wished my Dad lived around the corner.

So tomorrow I might brave the 97-degree heat, ride my bike over to Lowe's and chat up a random employee about paint strippers and degrees of gloss. I'll buy some big nails and peek around for any other home improvement projects that might catch my eye. And when I pedal back home, I'll keep my fingers crossed that the wall I'm planning to hang these sashes on is not just plaster-covered brick. A wall of massive nail holes is not really my idea of creative d├ęcor.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cardigan Love

Last night I gave way to my addictive habit (no, not Kanye this time...). I walked into Gap, spotted  a 'vintage cardigan' sign, saw the SALE tag, and sealed the deal with the extra 30% off coupon I had. It would have been a crime NOT to buy one. Or two. I came home with one in plum and the other a dark gray with yellow detail.

A quick search on Anthro will reveal four pages of cardigan heaven---here are a few that caught my eye.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Snack Time

Happy Friday! Can you even believe it's the last weekend of August?
As much as I love summer, I think autumn has to be my favorite season. Every year I want to join the back-to-school shopping madness like I'm in elementary school again (even a twenty-something could use some notebooks, glue sticks, and a new skirt, right?). But even though kids around the country are sharpening their pencils and stuffing their backpacks, I refuse to give up the tasty summer treat of TJ's frozen yogurt. It has no choice but to follow me into fall. (Last night I snuck some berries out of the freezer, heated them up a bit, added scoops of fro-yo and mixed the dark pink result into a soupy bowl of amazingness. TRY IT.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Free Time

The guests are gone and Chris has started work---it's just me, Cat, and my trusty bike Trudy during the day. Trudy's basket came in the mail a week ago and it's come in quite handy on my bike rides around town. By the way, don't miss the 'Friends and Family' discount this weekend....I was at Old Navy at 10:00 this morning, helmet in hand.

And although she's not biking around town with me (ok, this would be hilarious....), Cat also likes to take sustainability into her own hands...err...paws. We call her Eco-Cat since she loves reusable cardboard boxes as hide-outs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

For the Love of Costco

Cheap gas, toilet paper to last a lifetime, and enough pasta to feed everyone in Italy. What's not to love about Costco? Though buying in bulk may not always be the best choice for a household of two---there are only so many humongous bags of mixed berries and spinach & cheese ravioli that can fit in the freezer---I always love to peruse the aisles for a good deal to make a tasty meal. 

On our last trip we picked up a four-pound bag of quinoa and 48 ounces of Craisins (quite a daring purchases since I'd never had quinoa in my life and only use a handful of cranberries on the infrequent intervals we have salad). But I'm happy to conclude that quinoa is now one of most favorite things and, packed with protein and delicious flavor, is a fantastic addition to my dwindling meat eating tendencies.

Today for lunch I made a small dent in each of those purchases and made a yummy toasted almond and cranberry quinoa salad (I should mention that this recipe came right off the bag of quinoa---how easy is that??).

Quinoa with Toasted Almonds and Cranberries
1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 1/2 c. boiling water and cube of stock (I just used 2 c. veggie broth)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cinnamon stick (I subbed a dash of cinnamon)
1 bay leaf
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Over medium heat, toast the almonds until golden. Toss the quinoa in with the almonds and toast for a few minutes more. 

Start boiling all the other ingredients in a saucepan. Add the quinoa/almond toastiness into the nearly boiling liquid. 

Once at a boil, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and eat!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Word Play

My Scrabble addiction has commenced despite my impeccable losing streak (except for today when I miraculously pulled ahead!). Alyssa and I spent her last day in town at a gem of a coffee shop on Cary Street, drinking a tasty concoction of iced Thai coffee (picture iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, cardamom, and other spices....yummmm). The place is a coffee shop by day and wine bar by night, so we sipped our cold drinks (at our request to have 'for here' cups) in stemless wine glasses.

Travel Scrabble. (This is BEFORE I played the 66-point word that pretty much ended the game.)

Really, Scrabble?? All vowels...

Creamy coffee goodness...in style.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Corn Heaven

Last night we made corn-on-the-cob that was...well, there are no words. Except to say that it was to die for.

Here's how it happened:
-boiled corn just enough that it was both soft and crunchy
-brushed the corn in delectable honey flavored greek yogurt from TJ's
-rolled the corn in a mixture of parmesan, chili powder, and pepper
-sealed the cobs in foil and baked them for about six minutes
-unwrapped the yellow/white cobs covered in cheesy goodness
-consumed in record time with intermittent sighs of delight

And I owe it all to Rachel, a great gal we met while traveling in Italy. The recipes on her food blog are incredible (we've made the parmesan-encrusted corn and tex mex tabbouleh so far) and you all should give them a whirl! Mmmm....weekend of deliciousness.

P.S. Love those corn dishes---no longer available---from C&B.
P.P.S. All this talk of corn makes me think of the Corn Palace we visited in South Dakota last summer on our drive to NY. (Those pictures on the sides of U-Hauls aren't just informational, folks! Go check 'em out!)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Stumbled on this blog by means of another blog (like meeting a friend of a friend....even though neither of them know me....). The recipes look drool-worthy, especially the summer salads and iced drinks. You can even browse recipes by ingredient, course, season and region. 

Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Radio Hour

A 1940s radio caught my eye during my last trip to Halcyon, the vintage shop a few blocks away. According to the tag it still works well---a fact that continues to make me dream about where it would look best in the apartment.

The NPR tour also got me looking at this radio, though it is WAY too expensive (but pretty sleek and fancy). Besides, listening to Ira Glass narrate stories on This American Life would be especially lovely on the vintage one...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cocktail Hour

I'm in the entryway of Founding Farmers in DC, drink menu in hand, waiting for a table at 8:30pm, when I decide it's high time to spice up my liquor cabinet. Check out these tasty concoctions on the Recession Proof: Fiscally Responsible Cocktails section of the FF menu. (We tried the Dark n' Stormy and El Presidente, followed by some other drinks that weren't on the fiscally responsible list...)

Bee’s Knees
This libation dates back to the 1930’s, when bartenders began experimenting with honey as a sweetener. (Plymouth gin, fresh lemon juice and honey syrup)

Dark n’ Stormy
This is a tasty Bermudan cocktail that’s been making a quiet resurgence in city bars and restaurants in the last couple of years.(Gosling’s Dark Rum, housemade ginger beer, fresh lime juice and a splash of soda)

Mai Tai
The Mai Tai was invented in 1944 by Victor Bergeron, AKA “Trader Vic.” (Flor de Cana 12 yr, Orange Curacao, orgeat syrup and fresh lime juice)

El Presidente
The cocktail was named in honor of Cuban President Gerardo Machado and quickly became the preferred drink of the Cuban upper class. (Cruzan Rum, lime, pineapple, and housemade grenadine)

*Can't wait to mix up one of those Bee's Knees and sip it on the adirondack chair on the patio. I just have to ask myself, do I already love it because of how it will taste or because of the 1930s bit?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Snapshots from D.C.

We decided to trade two days in the confederate capital to make the two hour drive to the nation's capital....absolutely worth it. Highlights included the incredible (and free!) Smithsonian museums; views to the White House, Washington Monument, Capitol Building, and Lincoln Memorial; delicious meals at popular local places; a tour of the NPR headquarters; and about twenty miles of walking around the city.

I was hoping Mr. Obama was out his yard so I could wave 'hello.'

Fanning Michael with money in front of the treasury.

At the Capitol.

It had been twelve and a half years since Alyssa, Michael and I had been to D.C., and we definitely had a greater appreciation this time around for the amazing (read: FREE) Smithsonian museums.

Our favorite museum was the National Museum of American History (sounds stuffy and boring, but it had an unbelievable collection of historical pieces---Savion Glover's tap shoes, Michael Jackson's fidora, the Kermit the Frog puppet, Judy Garland's ruby slippers, Julia Child's real kitchen, the actual flag Francis Scott Key was looking at when he wrote the Star Spangled Banner....I'm serious!!). One of the best exhibits had inaugural outfits of the first ladies;  Michelle Obama's gown was showcased front and center.

You just have to laugh when you see Mamie Eisenhower's sassy look in the picture next to the actual dress she wore. I think that's her sexy glance for Dwight.

We even caught Chris and Michael having an enjoyable time in the gift shop, of all places.

Later that night we dined at Founding Farmers, a delicious D.C. establishment that is quite popular with the locals (there was an hour wait at 8pm on a Monday night...like I said...popular). It was absolutely worth it though, and my casserole-sized chicken pot pie was incredible.

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, NPR offers free tours to the public (we strategically planned to be there on a Tuesday just so we could go....). We saw Steve Inskeep of Morning Edition, Melissa Block of All Things Considered, and even got to take a few pictures in the studio.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beachy Keen

Sun day, beach day. We began at the colorful and crowded boardwalk area of Virginia Beach. The sand was littered with multicolored umbrellas, low-back chairs, and neon swimsuits. Since we only brought a towel and the weather was stifiling hot, we opted to spend our time on the boardwalk here.
Empty rides.
On the look-out.
Kind of ridiculous that they charged to go out on the pier...
But I managed to take some photos over the picket fence barricade. Take that, scallywags!

After the boardwalk, we found a great little cafe and enjoyed mimosas, delicious sandwiches with avocado, fried okra, and coleslaw. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon meal in a crowded, local establishment. Next we drove to First Landing State Park and walked a few miles on the trails. We saw swamps and straggly trees.

Along the northern shore and the Chesapeake Bay, we found a spectacular quiet beach. Alyssa and I read and napped while the guys played frisbee.

Too cool for pictures, I guess.

Warm water on my toes.

A perfect end to our beach day.

Let's Back Track

Bah! We've been doing way too much adventuring for me to take a time-out for a blog post (who wouldn't want to be out adventuring?). But we've returned from D.C. and no one wants to move off the couch, so now is my chance to rest my feet and update with a glass of wine.
Alert: airborne rodents in Richmond! On Saturday night we took advantage of the incredible sunny weather and saw the Flying Squirrels (Richmond's AA baseball team) in action. The stadium was packed (probably because the previous three nights had been rainy) and I was excited to feel like a local with the other squirrelly fans.
A lovely night.
You can see downtown in the background, the packed seats in the foreground.
The Flying Squirrel mascot. So fierce.
Sisters at the game.

Doing my best to impersonate the extremely fierce Flying Squirrel.

Alyssa is being a bit more graceful about it.

My brother was initially skeptical about a team called the Flying Squirrels. But then he got onboard, even got some gear. Quote: "This is going to be the most legit shirt in the wardrobe."

Alyssa and I got a souvenirs too. What can I say, I can't resist office supplies, especially with determined looking flying squirrels on them.

Later that night, we made some snacks to take to the beach for the following day. Here is some Tex Mex Tabbouleh (recipe courtesy of Rachel and her amazing food blog) and vegan banana walnut bread (mmmmm!!!). The tabbouleh is packed with a million veggies and protein-rich quinoa, tossed with olive oil, cilantro, and red wine vinegar.

I'm not vegan, but the addition of molasses in the recipe makes it a winner over non-vegan recipes.
 Once again I say, mmmmm!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Confederate Cruisin'

Yesterday Alyssa and I took a great neighborhood walk (while the guys braved the heat on a run), stopping at that fantastic little cafe on Ellwood. We shared a basil lemonade slushie (AMAZING) and a vegan banana nut muffin. So tasty! Later in our tiny kitchen, we all teamed up to make a delicious spicy lemon pasta before crashing on the couch to watch episodes of House until the late hours of the night.
Today we decided to do more exploring, so we set out for downtown and hopped on one of these boats (reminiscent of a Disneyland jungle cruise) and got a 40-minute tour of the canal. Oh, did I mention it was only $5 per person?!
The boats.
Looking fly and waiting for our ship to sail.
A view of Tobacco Row from the canal. The abandoned tobacco factories have now been converted into trendy lofts and apartments.

My brother, all grown up.
After the cruise we got brunch and a pitcher of mimosa-goodness at F.W. Sullivan's. Right now we're cooling off in our apartment (a beautiful, A/C controlled 80 degrees) before heading out to see those Flying Squirrels. Michael is already set on buying a t-shirt, and I'm crossing my fingers for some garlic fries and shiska-berries like the ones at Safeco Field.

Stay tuned...Virginia Beach and Washington DC are some of our upcoming adventures!