Saturday, February 26, 2011

copy cat

It's no secret that my mom, sister, and I are major shoppers.  But we haven't yet driven ourselves into debt (unless there's something my parents aren't telling me) because my mom taught us from before I can remember that whatever it is you think you can't live without will eventually go on sale.  If you genuinely cannot stop thinking about it, then you're allowed to think about buying it full price. 

More recently, our refrain has become "you could totally make that."  I'm serious.  You spot it and covet it, my family can likely knock it off with a can of paint, some sandpaper, and an AC Moore coupon or two.  Case in point--I pretty much spent last weekend (with the parents' help) painting and crafting.  (See, for example, the before/after photos above of the bar towel turned cork board)   

So as I forked over just shy of $10 for a decent-but-nothing-special salad today, I thought "I could totally make this."  Logical progression, right?  If you can recreate a piece of furniture you saw for 3 times the price, why couldn't you do the same thing with the salad you get for lunch at least once a week?  I'm sure normal people who eat at home regularly have this thought ALL THE TIME.  

Well, consider me on the bandwagon, albeit a littttttle late.  Not only do I spend too much on eating out, I spend too much on mediocre food.  Don't get me wrong, DC has a myriad of really great restaurants, but I've had less than amazing food at some of them, and just plain bad food at the less than great places. I don't mind forking over a hefty sum for a great meal every once in a while, but I need to do it less often, and I need to be more selective.  

But I digress.  The point is, I'm slowly accumulating more reasons to look forward to this Lent project.  And the timing couldn't be more fortunate since Lent starts in less than 2 weeks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

some kind of wonderful

First, go to youtube and look up the song referenced in the title ("Some Kind of Wonderful" by the Drifters).  I first heard it on the Dirty Dancing sound track, and have listened to it innumerable times since then, including my drive to/from home this past weekend.  

Ok, now that you've got the song in your head, envision it as the one-song playlist to my weekend.  Yes, it was THAT GREAT.  I spent significant quality time with my family (biological and acquired), and got so much done.  Pretty much all day yesterday was devoted to DIY projects.  aka I'm a very happy but very exhausted girl.

Which brings me to the picture of the bed above.  ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?  I've been coveting it for, oh, a year, maybe?  (people, I'm not joking when I say I'd live in the Anthropologie store if I could).  But since it is, in fact, from Anthropologie, it wasn't exactly in my conservative budget. Well, my parents had a present for me to open after Mom's birthday dinner and it was the tag from the bed!  Mom got a 15% off thing for her birthday, AND the bed was on sale, so they got it for me. Which is the best and briefest example of the non-stop selflessness of my awesome parents that I can give you right now, because now I'm going to go fall in to bed.  And sleep for days.  Or until 6am.  One of those.

(ps-yes, I realize this post includes NOTHING about food.  My bad.  I brought back a George Forman and some new towels for my kitchen.  There you go, nitpickers)  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

sometimes i eat like no one is watching

I'm still a few weeks away from the beginning of Lent, but I'm already looking for reasons to be enthusiastic about giving up eating out (I'm not sure about the grammar in this sentence, but let's not talk about that). 

Today's reason?  Sometimes I eat like no one is watching.  No, really, it's (sad but) true.  This can happen for a variety of reasons...time constraint, excitement about the food in question, or sheer ravenousness being the most common. This worked out a lot less awkwardly for me when I sat in the back corner cube of my office at Pentagon, and could tell long before anyone rounded the corner.  Now that I sit in what I refer to as the Bermuda Triangle in my new office, I have to be a little less demonstrably enthusiastic about my love and hunger for, say, breakfast potatoes (I have a well-known addiction to said breakfast food, but that's another story).  

Luckily I managed to stave off ravenousness until tonight, though, and could eat in the privacy of my own (currently very disorganized) apartment.  That Subway "turkey on oat with peppers and cucumbers" didn't stand a chance.  And yes, I got a foot-long.  At least I put it on a plate first.  The only time in recent memory I ate with less decorum was my very late (very solo) Valentine's day lunch at Chipotle.  And that happens pretty much every time I go to Chipotle.   

Anyways, as I'm prone to do, I digress.  The reason I worked myself into such a state of hunger was a lengthy trip to Pentagon City after work.  (I'm sure my "meal" of rice and trail mix for lunch didn't do me any favors).  I was on the hunt for a few birthday gifts for a certain mother of mine (happy belated birthday, Mom!).  Somehow I ended up at World Market at the end of the adventure, despite my (pretty frequent) pledge to rein in my spending.  

I decided that if I'm going to be cooking most of my meals, I'm going to need some spices.  And World Market is all about some bargain spice prices.  So I may've been a little heavy handed in my purchasing, but in my very limited culinary experience, it's incredibly frustrating to find a recipe that both sounds good and seems feasible, only to realize I'm lacking in one (or more) of the required ingredients.  The picture above is of my World Market loot--check out all that good stuff!  Olive oil (I'm almost out), curry powder, beef rub, thyme, rosemary, cumin, and paprika.  And the packaging is charming, especially the olive oil.  Side note: I am a marketing department's dream customer.  Package it up nice and pretty, and I will buy it.  Cliche, I know. 

I'm particularly excited because my cashier was fantastic.  Possibly I was still a little bitter over the bad customer service experience at Nordstrom Rack (my mental rant went something like this: I'm sorry, but who doesn't do an extra discount for damaged items? You want me to buy this dirty pair of suede shoes for the same price some other girl is going to pay for clean shoes just because the dirty pair is THE ONLY ONE LEFT in my size? I think you're just jealous I have tiny, cute feet, you rude sales lady, you). 

Anyways, I get to the register at World Market and the lady starts ringing up my many, many items and when she pulls out the "Herbs de Provence," she says "have you tried this?" and I said "nope." She proceeded to warn me that the lavender overwhelms all the other herbs, and it tastes "like you're eating a flower."  I mean, the herbs were only $2.99, but I'm still grateful that she spared me the money and the eventual disappointment.  AND she gave me $10 off.  Shopping karma.  Take that, Nordstrom Rack.  

Now that I've bored your socks off, I'm going to go watch Gossip Girl and dream about the Girl Scout cookies in my freezer (I'll stop dreaming and start eating when I get back from Miami and no longer have to wear a bathing suit). 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

this is the little kitchen

Welcome to the little kitchen.  By DC standards, it's actually pretty generous (never mind that I can't reach half the storage space).  And, practically every surface is magnetic, which is probably my favorite part.  Anyways, the little kitchen actually has a lot of potential, I just haven't taken advantage of it one bit in the year that I've lived here. If you don't believe me, obviously you stumbled upon this blog and don't actually know me (which, by the way, is totally cool--hi there, new friend).  If you did know me, you'd know that the most action this little kitchen sees is typically in the form of boiling water for one of three things: plain pasta, peas, or mac n cheese (yes, the kind that comes in a box sold by kraft).  

If you're still not convinced, consider this (Chiari flashback, anyone?): I had to call my parents and ask how to make a baked potato tonight.  (I know what you're thinking, and yes, I could have just googled it, but I actually like an excuse to talk to my parents.  Crazy)

My eating habits have long been the source of amusement for my friends, family, and coworkers.  One of my bosses recently walked past my cube, did a double take, and said "every time I walk past here, you have your hands in the goldfish."  Guilty.  One of my friends saw an ad for protein candy in a magazine and immediately thought of buying it for me to supplement my diet of snack foods strung together to create meals.  

It's not that I don't like good food in the form of legitimate meals.  One look at my credit card bill will certainly convince you that eating out has replaced shopping in my life (yes, I know those black flats are falling apart and I need some new sweaters. shhhh).  But I really loathe cooking.  I mean, I don't think you understand how much I hate it.  I do not find it calming or rewarding at all.  I hate how long and messy prep work can be.  I dislike culinary disasters after said prep work.  Oh, and I reallllly hate doing dishes. 

But people, I'm going broke eating out in DC (those Chipotle lunches add up almost as fast as those Restaurant Week dinners).  There's also the more serious concerns--namely that I'm always feeling run down and I'm genuinely concerned about the long-term damage I'm doing to my body.  I might have an especially generous metabolism now, but I highly doubt I'll have these legs forever if I keep going at this rate.  And, the cruel situational irony of watching Top Chef while eating cereal for dinner (for the millionth time) is getting old.  

So I'm giving up eating out for Lent.  I realize this sounds insane, and maybe a little less than feasible.  In order to avoid turning into a total hermit, I do still plan to allow myself happy hours with friends.  But no, I repeat NO, food.  The goal is to figure out how to cook for myself like other normal adults.  I imagine there'll be a few nights of ramen, kraft mac n cheese, and plain pasta.  I'm not delusional enough to think I will cook creative meals for myself every single day for 40 days in a row (no Sunday cheating for this girl).  But I will make a conscious effort to scout (easy) recipes and plan out my weeks in advance.  I also hope to have people over for dinner more often.  And Allie is joining me in this pledge, so I know we have some dinner parties in our future.

I realize Lent is about a month away right now, but I need to get a head start on this whole adventure.  Namely I need to broadcast this plan well in advance to ingrain a sense of accountability in myself, and I need to solicit meal ideas (especially those that do not include pasta).  

Now, excuse me while I go check on my baked potato (which sounds like it's whistling in my stove) and submit a work order request to figure out why the little kitchen's stove won't light...