Wednesday, September 5, 2012

i'm alive

Hi friends. It's been a while, I know. I'm alive and mostly well, I promise. Always prone to lengthy recaps of life's happenings in and out of the kitchen, I'm not sure what's behind the recent total aversion to writing, BUT, there are like four people who read this, and, it's not a source of income or anything, so I figured a hiatus would go largely un-protested. In the meantime, here's what I've been cooking, want to cook, and/or have found hilarious: 

red wine risotto, an old favorite, while my Venice friend was in town

homemade pesto, also whipped up for dinner with my Venice friend!
 
Double dark chocolate shortbread cookies. I think I could live on these alone. Seriously. {photo/recipe both from here}

deep dish peanut butter cookie with chocolate ice cream {photo/recipe from here}


Boxed wine in purse form. Genius.

I'll be back in (overly chatty) action when I start to feel more like myself again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

houseguest prep

Like I said yesterday, a friend of mine from my second semester in Venice (when I was an RA) is staying with me this week, and I couldn't be more excited! That semester, I had to stay in the house while the kids were in class, which resulted in a plethora of baked goods for them (I couldn't ever sit still, not even in an awesome house in Italy). So, I figured baking something that could be snacked on while I'm stuck at work would be a good hostess-y thing to do and bring back good memories from Italy for both of us.  

The eggs had to come to room temperature and the butter had to be both melted and cooled, so, I lined up the bowls of ingredients, then cleaned my apartment a bit while the various temperature adjustments happened. Secret I recently learned: if you put cold eggs in a bowl of lukewarm water, that whole room temp thing happens a lot faster, which is awesome if you're in a hurry.



As usual, I got super distracted while baking/cleaning, so the only snapshot I have is the one above. BUT, this time the end product in my kitchen looked exactly like the photo from the glossy blog. A Tuesday afternoon miracle, really. 

photo from the recipe (but it looks like mine does!)

You bake the cake (or cakes, if you don't cut the recipe in half like I did), then you poke a bunch of holes in it and pour lemon/sugar syrup all over it. This requires patience and a bit of focus, which was a challenge given my easily distracted state yesterday. Anyways, I tried a tiny slice pre-syrup, and a tiny slice post-syrup, and both are good, just in very different ways. The pre-syrup sample is more like a pound cake with a hint of lemon. The post-syrup bites, no surprise here I'm sure, were all "hello LEMON." I did all of this about ten seconds after the cake came out of the oven, so I'm curious to try another post-syrup piece to see if the lemon and sugar concoction made it further down in to the cake itself. When I tried it you really tasted it at the top, and not so much at the bottom.  

It's not a particularly healthy recipe, but I think if you're going to welcome a long lost Venice friend in to your apartment, and you're going to be at work when they open your front door for the first time, you owe them something kind of ridiculously sinful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

lately, part ii

Lately I haven't been inclined to write (you're welcome, although the Obama incident was an obvious exception). So, here's what's been going on recently in a few hasty iphone snapshots. A Venice friend of mine comes to town today, and is staying with me until Sunday, and I'm so excited. I've been in a serious mood rut, and I think this'll be just the thing to yank me out of it! But for now...

I finally hung a far-too-long curtain in my kitchen window using bobby pins to shorten it (note the crucial tool on the counter: a glass of wine)
Then I realized in the daylight that since the panel was over twice as long as I needed, and it was sheer, I'd have to bust out the scissors

I think this looks muchhhh better (albeit it's a crooked photo, which seems to be my trademark)



I've been consuming prolific afternoon espressos (I'm a quick addict to nespresso pods)


And finally, I've been watching lots of Nats games (it's a super-exciting season!)



Sunday, August 19, 2012

sunday with the obamas

So, two exciting things happened today. First, the Obamas showed up at the church I just recently started attending (read more here). Second, I cooked! Since I suspect you find the former far more interesting than the latter, let's start there? 

A coworker of mine started bringing me to church with her about a month ago, and as of this past Friday, I finally (much to her relief I'm sure) started doing things with other church folk than just her. The church has a really active young adult group, and I went to a Nats game with them, even though I basically knew no one going in. Turned out to be a great night, and I knew that I best show up to church today even though my coworker is currently on vacation, because all my newfound buddies were expecting to see me there. I almost decided not to go at the last minute (all the usual excuses), but bucked up and headed out the door in time to catch the bus. 

As the bus was driving down the street towards the church and the White House, I realized the street was closed at pretty much exactly the spot where the bus would normally drop me off for the service. There were cop cars blocking off about a two block stretch of road, and I saw a car kind of facing the wrong way at a weird angle, so I assumed it was an accident or something. I got off the bus and walked towards the church. When I got to the blocked off stretch of street, there were big crowds of tourists standing around, but some people were walking towards the cop cars, so I followed suit. One of the policemen stopped me and said "wait, where are you going?" and I pointed to the church and said (duh) "to church," and he let me go on. 

When I got closer to church, I realized it wasn't your average blocked street situation. Or your average Sunday. Unless you consider Secret Service agents wanding parishioners to check for weapons in advance of the President's arrival average. My life isn't super exciting, so...I don't. Of course today I planned to go to the pool after church, so I had not only my usual giant purse, but also a tote bag full of sunscreen, a towel, bathing suit, etc, which the agent really appreciated. The guy checked both bags then waved the metal detector thing all over, and let me go in. Naturally the entire congregation was abuzz when I got inside, and even more agents were standing around the inside of the church. 

Once the majority of parishioners got settled in, agents escorted the President and his family in from a side entrance and sat them down in pre-reserved rows. Although a row of regular folk were allowed to sit in front of the family, agents sat in the row behind them. Apparently the Obamas show up to this particular church every so often, so I think a lot of the regulars, and certainly the pastors, were prepared, but some people spent the entire time craning their necks to get a good look at the family. I was a mere five rows behind them, almost directly, so while I tried not to stare, if I wanted to take a peek, it was at least a subtle peek. The family was good sports about shaking hands during the exchanging of the peace and, a few times, if a little kid was passing by the President and stuck his or her hand out. Then, right before the pastors and choir left at the end, the agents escorted the family out. 

I realize this is perhaps a common occurrence in this city, but I honestly never expected to end up in the same place as a President, current or past, and certainly not five church pew rows away from one, and I was pretty excited. I mean just to set foot in the East Wing of the White House, where you will likely never set eyes on the President, you have to submit all your personal info so they can run a background check on you. And here I found myself practically within touching distance (not that I'd ever try), and all I had to do was let someone look in my purse and wave a metal detector around. I really tried to focus on the service, but every few minutes or so, I'd look up, see them a few rows up, and think "THE OBAMAS ARE HERE, THIS IS SO COOL," compose myself, listen for a little longer, and repeat.  

Side note: I can't imagine how tough it must be to have such an ordeal made over attending church. I get up and jump on a bus 20 minute before a service. Their extremely short trip across the White House lawn and one city street requires more coordination than I can even fathom. I go to church and maybe five people recognize me and say hello. They go to church and everyone is whispering and staring the entire time. I don't envy that at all! 

Anyways, after that exciting morning, I went and hung out with friends for a while, then forced myself to head towards the grocery and then the kitchen. I picked up a bunch of corn, cilantro, and a jalepeno at the store, and threw together something akin to this manchego lime corn that I make all the time. I'm going to use the extra cilantro to make some sort of pesto, I think. All this culinary energy! I think we have the Obama excitement to thank. (Kidding, sort of...)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

repeat offenders

I could have sworn I've made Williams-Sonoma's spring vegetable risotto recipe more than once, but the only evidence I can find is my first stab at it, which was nearly a year ago. Although I'm sure I've made it since then, the lack of substantive evidence to the contrary out here on the interwebs makes me feel at least a little better about not trying something new. Anyways...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

obx

I'm back from my quick trip to the beach! A friend and I drove down to the Outer Banks Tuesday night after work (an adventure fueled by Good Stuff burgers and boy band CDs), and we came back yesterday. Our first and last day there (two out of the three, if you're counting) weren't the best weather-wise, but the middle day was the perfect beach day. I even managed to get a little bit of a tan, and no unfortunate burns. We ate a ton, watched a lot of Olympics coverage, read books and magazines endlessly, played a crazy game called slap cup, hit up a local putt putt course, took some hilarious wine-fueled pictures (which you've seen if we're Facebook friends) and made s'mores with nothing but the flame from taper candles. It was a great time, and while a part of me is happy to be back and settling in to a routine again, I already miss the whole sand between my toes, beer whenever you feel like it, sound of crashing waves stuff from vacation! 

late night road trip with Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, et al.

my last-minute sale bathing suit acquisitions (there are no "people on the beach" photos. you're welcome.) 

storms rolling in our last beach day

view from the porch of the house

"farewell beach!" shrimp boil

candlelight "bonfire" for s'mores

driving off the island...sad, but pretty!


I feel like I got a whole lot done today, including actually cooking dinner when my dinner plans feel through. Progress! Now I just have to remind myself to set an alarm for tomorrow...sigh. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

must get out, part ii

I thought I'd hit my crazy limit a couple of weeks ago before my trip home. Turns out DC had more crazy in store for me. At church on Sunday, a woman who was clearly not in her right mind took to clapping along with songs (note: this is a no clapping during the service kind of religion) and hysterically, loudly crying during one of the readings. Then, yesterday, near Union Station, a man sped past me on a bicycle and blasted a whistle in my ear. I looked up from the map on my phone to see what I'd done wrong (assuming this person was a cop), and saw him fly past another pedestrian using a phone and whistle at that guy, too (and so on and so forth). Add those weird things to some crazy metro delays lately, and I'm already more than ready for another little trip to somewhere outside the DC metro area. 

I can't, and shouldn't, complain too much, because I do get to get out soon, and to the beach, no less! And, bonus, I was walking through Union Station yesterday and was about to kill some time pre-appointment at the Barnes and Noble there, but turned towards the other shops instead, which led me to a 70% off sale at Accessorize. I only needed a crazy straw hat to protect my super-pale face (and recently spruced up hair), but I walked out with two bathing suits as well.  What should have cost me over $100 was less than $40! Never mind that all I needed was the hat...


Thrilled with my accidental sale finds and my upcoming vacation, I treated myself to a Bojangles biscuit for dinner (so much wrong with that statement, I know) and stopped by the wine shop in the station on my way home. I tend to buy wine solely based on label, and this wine was no exception, but what ended up selling me on this red versus many others with equally compelling labels was the awesome blend it was composed of. The (plentiful) leftovers will definitely be coming to the beach with me! For now, though, back to work, and back, unfortunately, to the crazy...


Sunday, August 5, 2012

lately...

...I've had pretty much no desire to write (or cook, but that part is to be expected by now). Not to say I haven't been keeping busy...


I passed my grad school class, which I didn't yet know when my mom, sister, and I saw this funny little window dressing at J.Crew when I was home last weekend



I've been celebrating by doing all the things I didn't have time to do while in class (and in the midst of the busy cycle at work): plenty of happy hours and lunches with friends, and, my personal favorite, Beer Olympics, at which I sported a hand-decorated royal blue and yellow leotard to represent Sweden. Unfortunately team Sweden didn't exactly take home the gold, but we had a great time competing in all sorts of hilarious beer-centric events, and while I'm probably biased, I think we had the best all-around costumes!


I've also been doing less fun things like deep-cleaning my apartment and packing, but, it's all in preparation for even more celebratory fun: an upcoming vacation to the Outer Banks with friends! 

For now, though, it's back to bathing suit-selection and work-week preparations. Soon enough I'll be digging my toes in the sand...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

long weekend at the lake

My sanity-restoring trip home started out not-so-sanity-tastic. The bus I took from DC to NC got caught in two separate traffic jams, one just a few miles from the final destination, featured a busted AC system, and was transporting myself as well as a family reunion and a gaggle of squealing teenage girls. By the time I got in Mom's car at the bus station, I was in desperate need of the wine she had stashed in a tote bag to take to the hair appointment for which I was now an hour late. By the time we got to the salon, I had calmed down a bit, but I had already decided that was the end of my MegaBus stint. At least for any trip in the eight hour time range. 

Torturous bus ride behind me, it was a whirlwind, but restorative trip. I picked up several things to further decorate my apartment (photos to come, if you're at all interested), squeezed in some shopping time with my mom and sister, helped my dad get his classroom ready, and enjoyed a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon on the lake with our Charlotte family. After several hours of zipping across the lake and putting down anchor to swim, we headed back to the house for a little cookout. 

In preparation for the cookout, mom and I planned to serve all sorts of things, some of which we decided to make ourselves, others we decided were best thrown together by the local Fresh Market. Because we were fitting food prep in with my ambitious "I only shop when I go home so we gotta make this trip count" mantra, we started the prep work Saturday evening after a long day of errands but before a late dinner at a locally famous Italian restaurant.   


I'm not sure if we were tired or distracted or what, but I made all sorts of disaster Saturday night. It all started when I looked away for a second, A SECOND, I tell you, and in that moment, the peach simple syrup (for boozey popsicles) that had been bubbling away boiled over and coated the stove top in a sickeningly burned mass of goo. Once the syrup finished its cooking process on the clean side of the stove, as we started cleaning the afflicted side, we managed to throw the grate off of the stove and into the little receptacle between the stove and the cabinet. Oops. 

Then, when it came time to mix tonic with the rest of the boozey popsicle ingredients, the tonic exploded all over me and the rest of the kitchen. Our feet stuck to the floor all weekend, despite our best efforts to wipe it all up. As I whipped up the layers for chocolate peanut butter squares, we had several near-disasters, and decided to shelve plans to make lemon bars from scratch, lest we burn the kitchen down at the rate we were going. 

Not one to be easily dissuaded from baking something from scratch, I woke up the next morning determined to make the lemon bars. Mom pitched in by juicing a billion lemons and grating their rinds. At which point her knuckles fell victim to the cheese grater we were using to get the zest. At that point we decided to just give up and buy everything else. Well, everything else except the fixings for my favorite summer corn dish: roasted corn with lime from Bon Appetit. But I've made that so often I can practically do it with my eyes closed (which I've realized is a good skill to have when dicing several jalapenos, mind you). Cooking disasters aside, everything turned out really well, from boozey boat snack popsicles to roasted corn to dessert. Here's the recipe roundup:
And no, I do not have a single photo other than the above evidence of my nearly ruining my parents' stove. Sometimes you're just enjoying yourself too much to bother taking pictures!       

Monday, July 30, 2012

hello (dolly)!

Apologies for the radio silence, you devoted audience of five. It's funny, I seem to have the most to say when I should be working and/or studying. Now that I've handed in my final exam and have been on vacation for a few days, I just can't seem to sit down and type anything out. Which is just dumb, because I finally cooked something! Granted by "something," I mean "dessert for dinner," but you know, at this point if it's not takeout or ramen, I'm going to consider it a (homemade) success. Also, after working for twelve days straight for ten to twelve hours a day, I decided I deserved a treat. 


I'm honestly not sure how I even got the idea to attempt a single serving Hello Dolly, but it came to me as I was cleaning and packing in preparation for my little trip home to North Carolina. I had everything on hand, including graham crackers to crush up for the crust and a random can of sweetened condensed milk. A quick survey of the pantry turned up the remaining add-ins: butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans. I didn't even use a recipe, especially after last fall's Hello Dolly fail, I just kind of threw stuff in the mini pie pan until it seemed right. I got a little overzealous with the sweetened condensed milk, but it was still really tasty.       


My trip home has been a whirlwind (more on that later), and I'm not at all ready to head back to reality tomorrow...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

working for the weekend

It feels like it's about mid October right now. Chilly, rainy, overcast, generally icky weather. It all started Thursday night with a crazy window pane-rattling storm that brought constant lightning and cracks of thunder that felt like they were originating right outside my building. I'm normally a huge thunderstorm fan unless they're keeping me up at night. And this one was. But, it helped dispel the 100+ degree heat that was making me wilt. 

If it has to be disgusting outside on any given weekend, I'm glad it happens to be one I'm stuck in the office so at least I'm not missing gorgeous weather. Yesterday I worked so late I had to cancel happy hour with a friend of mine (the horror, I know), today I had to miss a friend's birthday celebration, and oh yes, I have this little final exam coming up on Monday. 

About that... I had every intention of going home from work last night and studying (contain your envy, folks). I even stopped at the nearby 7-11 to get a box of Kraft mac & cheese to facilitate minimal dinner prep time/maximum exam prep time. I feel like the 7-11 guy was totally judging my sad purchase, but maybe he was just pitying my tired face. I have no doubts that it was obvious how drained I was, by the way, because one coworker said to me "you look really stressed" and the other said "wow, you look exhausted" all within an hour yesterday. Thanks boys.  But I was so, so sleepy that I barely made it through a half-dozen flashcards before I called it a night.

how awesome of a Friday night does this appear to be?

Even though I willingly transferred to a part of my agency that has a super crazy workload every third month, I always forget how much it drains me! I'm really, really looking forward to next Thursday, at which point I will conclude twelve straight days in the office, and take a few much-needed vacation days. Until then, I'll be hugging a mug of coffee, wishing my sis and I still owned these awesome 90s sweaters for this freaky weather, and daydreaming about some family time.

 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

the final stretch

(Advance warning: it is far too hot, and I am far too stressed for cooking. Therefore this is general rambling about life, and not life+food, as most of my meals lately have been cereal or toast-based)

At about 10:45 Tuesday morning, apparently DC was the hottest place in the US. Probably because the sun was still rising over places like Death Valley. Either way, I think we can all agree that 100 degrees or more is HOT. And once again I blame the heat for my brain functioning on a seriously compromised level. 

Last week, I got off the metro at the wrong stop on the way to work, then Monday, I paid no mind whatsoever to the color of the train pulling in to the station and got on the wrong line on my way to class. And Tuesday? Tuesday I left work with the intention of going home to study for my final, and found myself instead buying four, yes FOUR, sweaters. On a record-breakingly hot day. When I had just finished complaining about being broke. And today might actually be the most embarrassing of all: I commuted to work with mascara ALL OVER my eyes.

Because, to circle back, the heat is melting my brain. In my defense, all four sweaters cost me $20 as part of an odd, off-season buy one/get one free sale on winter wares. I have no way to defend myself on the "should've web studying" front.  Definitely have no excuse for the raccoon eyes.

Speaking of studying, with my final exactly five days from now (the same day, by the way, that the quarterly report to Congress I work on goes to press), I'm right back in the grumpy place I was pre-midterm. I'm always like this before exams, public speaking, and doctor appointments. I spend far too long thinking about just how much I don't want to do the task at hand instead of just growing up and preparing for it. I daydream about skipping it, not preparing for it, avoiding it somehow. Extremely mature, really. So anyways, final exam stress + work stress + crazy heat = sad, defeated little Jenny. Much like actual little Jenny years and years ago. Not sure what heinously dreadful task I was facing this particular day, but I think my little four-year-old face says it all, no?  



The original version of this, which includes my equally bummed-looking little sis, was posted months ago, but I really don't think there's any better way to capture my current state of being, minus a present-day photo, and I look as rough as I feel right now, so no camera is coming anywhere near my tired face.

For now, I'm going to continue on in my general state of denial and think happy thoughts about escaping to someplace a little like this...

(taken summer 2007 on the last family Maui trip)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

winging it

Funny things happen when you're broke and lazy. And by funny, I mean kind of sad. You force yourself to leave a perfectly awesome happy hour after a few drinks to trek home through the torrential rain so you can eat a free meal. You try to make your own caramel instead of using prepackaged squares because the local grocery didn't have them. You make your own coconut milk.


Last night, I left a particularly stressful class (in which we discussed our final exam, which is a mere six days from today...), and the entire walk home, all I could think about was how badly I wanted Thai food. Specifically some sort of red curry. And how I really, really did not want to cook it myself. But, I've been spending far too much lately, especially on food, so I had settled on making my go-to quick dinner: pasta with peas and corn. Snooze. 


As the water for pasta was boiling, I decided I should at least give curry a shot, but a quick rustling through my pantry turned up exactly zero cans of coconut milk. I did, however, have some rice milk in the fridge and a bag of coconut flakes in the pantry. Worth a shot, I decided. If it failed, I'd already be halfway to my usual dinner. 


Surprisingly, it was a total success! If you also are craving curry, lacking in coconut milk, and happen to have milk and coconut flakes on hand, a quick simmer/steep/strain process will get you a totally curry-worthy ingredient!

Ok, so maybe if you're more skilled in the kitchen, this isn't a super-exciting discovery, but I was thrilled, and yes, a little surprised, it worked. To the freshly minted coconut milk, I added a couple of teaspoons of curry paste, a few drops of oyster sauce, and a couple dashes of brown sugar. I threw in (cooked) vermicelli and spinach. It was no Thai take-out, but, it hit the spot for $0 instead of the $20 the takeout would've taken me. And unlike the caramel fail, it didn't leave me wanting to chuck food across my (tiny) kitchen.      



And now that I've gotten that little burst of enthusiasm out of my system, back to my thrilling day of caffeinating to make it through the sprint to next Monday, when the report I work on goes to press, and I take my final exam. (A week from today will basically be the best day of my summer, is what I'm saying, because I will a)sleep in, b)finally take a deep breath and relax completely) 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

(not so) salty

I'm not quite sure how I managed to let this weekend slip away from me with nothing to show for it except a half-successful batch of chocolate chip cookie bars, but here it is, Sunday night, and I don't even have that much. Well, to be fair, I left the pan of them sitting at work, where I spent nine hours of my day today. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything. 


Anyways, you should try this salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar recipe. Only unlike me, you shouldn't be too lazy to trek to a store that actually has caramel squares. Because if you go all Martha Stewart and try to make your own, and don't pay close enough attention to what you're doing, suddenly you'll have hard-as-cement caramel that you couldn't pay to play nice and combine with the requisite heavy cream. And then you will just chuck all the dough into a square pan, throw it in the oven, and convince yourself that your coworkers will be just as happy with plain old chocolate chip cookie bars that don't have a layer of gooey salty caramel (even if you won't). 


I didn't take any snapshots because, well, I'm lazy. And horribly exhausted and absent-minded and constantly behind in life. I think I need a hefty slice of non-caramel-y chocolate chip cookie bar, a glass of wine, and a good night's sleep... 


But this is what they should look like. Mine looked just like the recipe for once. You know, minus the caramel. Now, about that wine.


from the recipe





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

must get out

In the words of the ever insightful Maroon 5, "this city's made us crazy and we must get out." Or at least it's making me crazy. And I must get out. Soon.  


I haven't really been home since March, which, even including my time living abroad, might very well be a record. I did go to Denver a month ago for my cousin's wedding, but that was such a whirlwind trip that was so markedly bookended by my flight anxiety that it doesn't quite count as a vacation. 


But just when I thought I couldn't possibly make it to the end of July to make my escape, mother nature came to my rescue. Last night, on the way home from happy hour, I was super-confused to find a plethora of people mulling around, refusing to take the final escalator out of the metro. Turns out it was pouring. I mean comically raining (sound familiar?). Raining so hard that everyone who saw me preparing to make my exit looked at me like I was crazy. But I was starving and sleepy after a few drinks, and so ready to get home, so I whipped out my tiny travel umbrella, took off my sandals, and splashed my way down the street. 


I got home looking a bit like this, despite the umbrella...



My hair ended up wet and wavy, and I regretted wearing a white blouse, but it was the best walk home I've had in ages. The streets were practically deserted. I had one of the busiest thoroughfares all to myself as I hopped from puddle to puddle. With lightning flashing in the clouds and the occasional rumble of thunder as the only distractions, it was serene and perfect. It couldn't have come at a better time. It's funny how DC always redeems itself at the last minute, isn't it?   

All I had was my iphone camera, and having already cracked the screen of the poor phone, I was trying to avoid also dropping it in a puddle, so here are a few of my attempts to capture the sheer volume of water I encountered.  







Tuesday, July 10, 2012

detox

I still haven't cooked anything lately, unless of course microwaving some peas and carrots counts? Right, then. I did at least finally, for the first time in maybe a month?, make a trip to the grocery for week-long sustenance. I erred on the extremely healthy side, only buying things that were bland and/or were recently plucked out of the ground or off of a tree. I generally have an unwavering commitment to a decidedly less puritanical diet, but I am making a desperate attempt to appease my digestive system, which, as I mentioned Sunday, is staging a bit of a revolt against the aforementioned (horrible) food intake. Losing five pounds in the span of a weekend, while perhaps fortuitously timed given that it's bathing suit season, is not particularly pleasant or healthy.  


I'm feeling slightly more human today, thankfully, but I'm pretty tired thanks to the crazy summer thunderstorm that rolled through the District last night approximately an hour after I'd finally settled into a deep sleep. I'm hoping a few more days of eating mostly fruits and veggies has me feeling back to my old self before the sprint to the end of July really kicks in later this week. To say I'm looking forward to some time away from work (and from DC) in August would be an understatement. 


In lieu of any new recipes to offer, all I have is the very amateur-hour, but still kinda cool (if you ask me) little video of the last five or so minutes of the DC fireworks, filmed during last Wednesday's last-minute rooftop dinner celebration in honor of America's birthday. Something about fireworks...I just can't stop watching them. Kind of like I can't stop eating watermelon and drinking strawberry beer. What? That counts as a fruit, doesn't it? 

{note: I wrote this last night after class, NOT at work today. I do not endorse drinking at work. Most of the time. Kidding. Sort of}


video




Sunday, July 8, 2012

derailed

This heat. I just can't. It is completely inescapable and horrible and draining, and all sorts of other adjectives I can't think of right now, because I'm so, well, drained. I realize it's summer and all that but this just too much. 


I'm also feeling really rather awful. Not sure if it's the heat, my horrible diet lately, or a combination of the the two, but my stomach is not happy, not at all, not even a little bit. It's put a bit of a damper on the to-do list I was hoping to knock out this weekend before I have to work the next couple weekends in row.  


But, angry stomach and horrifying heat aside, it's still been a pretty good weekend, full of reading, shopping, lunching, and churching. It didn't really get off to a proper start on Friday until after I climbed off of the train I was trapped on for an HOUR in a tunnel outside of L'Enfant station (without cell phone service at that). After that little adventure, thanks to a different train re-railing further north (caused by, you guessed it, the heat), I found my friend at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden, where she was, much to my relief, waiting with a few bottles of clandestine wine and a spot for both of us to put our feet in the fountain. Much to her relief, my mysterious hour of radio silence was not on account of my having been kidnapped, mugged, or otherwise endangered.  


snapped by my friend, after I'd sufficiently calmed down post-metro delay
another Jazz in the Sculpture Garden shot by my friend (mine was far less artsy)

I suppose it was better than last Friday, when the temperature was also hovering near 100 degrees, and I was strapped to a heart monitor, which, in case you were wondering, is super uncomfortable to wear when it's 100 degrees. It's pretty uncomfortable in general, but especially when it gets really toasty out, and the probes are sticky and itchy. It's also quite the conversation piece, as one of the five probes rests smack in the middle of your upper chest, and if you're not aware in advance that you'll spend 24 hours hooked up to one, you don't think to wear a shirt that would disguise it. If you're lucky like me, that surprise will coincide with a retirement party at your office at which all of your (nosy) coworkers have gathered. 

So anyways, that's why I was on my way to the cardiologist before work the other day: I had to return the lovely monitor for their analysis. I'm happy to report that, at least for 24 hours, my heart functioned precisely as it's meant to, aside from a small heart murmur that the doctor discovered as part of the hour and a half I spent in his office on "heart monitor Friday." Side note, I also got to see my heart via ultrasound that morning at his office, which was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

And with that excitement behind me, all I really want is a week with sub 100 degree temps and no metro delays (and ok, a vacation to look forward to would be nice, too). I think I can hear my fellow DCists laughing from my perch on the couch, but hey, a girl can dream. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

happy birthday, america!

Last night around 9:15, it finally got dark, the whole city got quiet, and the sky was illuminated by the annual DC fireworks.  It was a very heart-swelling, "I love this city," moment, which, I realized with some surprise, was my third time feeling that way, as I've now passed three consecutive July 4ths here. The whole thing was a bit nostalgia-inducing, as holidays tend to be, and I couldn't help but think of everything that's changed in my life since the 4th last year, and of all the amazing places I've spent the day in the past. But enough of that, here are some fun pictures. And later on, a little bit about how I spent the day, which, surprise!, I actually got to take off (I genuinely thought I'd be at work). 

fortunately these clouds held no fireworks-dampening rain



really cool timing - big old orange moon rising + fireworks


fireworks launching + moon rising (again)
 
So anyways, when I realized I'd thankfully have the day off, I decided to turn down my sweet friend's invitation to her pool and to stick close to home to avoid the obscene heat. Ever incapable of relaxing for long, I found myself in the LKTC (despite the 90+ degree temps).  A friend who lives a few minutes away also didn't have fireworks-viewing plans, so she said she and her boyfriend would drop by for the show, and for an impromptu dinner.


I started with these champagne jello shots that she suggested I make for our little last-minute celebration. When I made it to the grocery, they didn't have any pineapple jello (or jalapenos or mint leaves or...), so I went with strawberry instead and popped a few slices of pineapple and a few slices of strawberry in my mish mash of shot glasses.  I tried one them with my breakfast to make sure they were ok (don't judge...you have a mimosa with brunch every so often, right? ok then). They were pretty tasty! They only have about half a bottle of champagne among all the shot glasses, so they're pretty harmless. 

the saddest little jalapeno I ever did see (but was the one and only jalapeno at both Whole Foods and Safeway...)

strawberry champagne jello shots with pineapple and strawberry slices

Once the jello was setting, I threw corn in the oven for one of my favorite repeat offender recipes, roasted corn with lime (as seen here and here). I have to say, this time around I decided to supplement the roast corn with cooked frozen corn, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference, although maybe my palate is just highly unrefined. Point is, I think you can get away with not heating your oven up to 450 F on a 98 degree day, and just use frozen corn. 


While it cooled, I got everything ready for a make your own rotisserie chicken platter. I take exactly zero credit for this, as the chicken came already-roasted from the store. I can handle 15 minutes of oven time for corn, but a couple hours for a chicken? Yeah, it's just too toasty for that. 


Although the champagne jello shots were festively colored, I still felt like we needed an "American as apple pie" type dessert (that didn't actually involve apple pie being baked in my oven). Enter peach ice cream. I shouldn't even admit this, but I used frozen peaches. The peaches at my local grocery store were rock-hard, and I figured frozen was better than un-ripe. We ended up too stuffed to eat the ice cream, but I did sample it, and I could barely taste the peach flavor. Maybe I should've gone with the un-ripe but un-frozen peaches...


After all that cooking, I got some "life-stuff" done. I did the dishes, painted my nails a festive red, cleaned my apartment, and worked on my paper for class. I know, I know. Try to contain your jealousy at that line-up. Such a glamorous life I lead... But knowing that I'm heading in to a crazy three or four weeks at work and in class, it was honestly nice to just stick around the apartment and get things done. 

a bit sticky, but relieved at the lack of rain!

I'm happy to report that the weather cooperated, and we were treated to an amazing show, minus the headache of the crowds on the Mall. There really is nothing like celebrating the 4th in the nation's capital, and I'm glad I stayed in town this year for the holiday. Happiest birthday, America!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

shudder


Happy birthday to my dad! He's already beat the odds and gotten a hole-in-one twice, but I wish him another one just for his birthday! Once again, I would love to be home celebrating with the family, but, the busy cycle at work kicked off yesterday, so I'm basically tethered to my artificially lit little cubicle unless I'm at home sleeping, in class, or on my way to or from one of those two places.

Speaking of commuting, wmata was tough on me yesterday. I had to stop by the cardiologist's office on the way to work (yes, cardiologist. yes, I'm awfully young to be saying that word. yes, that story is to come). The cardiologist is, in fact, on the way to work, but, I ended up waiting 15 minutes for a train, which then sat in the station for 10 minutes before carrying on towards Arlington. Not exactly how I was planning to start my Monday, but at least it was a good excuse to buy a pick-me-up in the form of a fancy cappuccino this morning. 

My favorite wmata-related thing that happened yesterday, though, was easily being asked out by an old man. {Note: "old" in this case means over double my age. I realize my parents are that age, and I don't think of them as old. However, when it comes to being asked out, anything more than 10 to 15 years plus my age is "old."} 

Anyways, I was minding my own business, listening to music, rushing to class, and then it went something like this:

Old Man: "How are you today?"
Me: maybe if I ignore this person, he will think I didn't hear him {then, I made the fatal error of glancing in his direction}
Old Man: "I said 'how are you today?'...{I hesitantly remove one earbud} oh, are you talking on the phone?" 
Me: {then I made my next fatal error by being honest} "oh, no, music"
Old Man: "where are you headed?"
Me: this is how an episode of "Criminal Minds" starts, right? maybe if I tell him I'm going to class, he'll realize I am WAY TOO YOUNG for him. "I'm headed to class"
Old Man: {obviously undeterred} "oh where do you go, GU?"
{Interlude of me talking extremely vaguely about where my campus is, despite his probing questions, then the train pulls up}
Old Man: "do you mind if I join you?"
Me: do I have a choice? is this a bar? no, it's a metro. get on the train, you idiot, and let's just get where we're going, which, hopefully is NOT the same place.
{Interlude of me making obvious attempts to talk about ANYTHING but myself. See: "Criminal Minds" reference. I got on a pretty great tangent about the new Rush+ thing on metro and how it was ruining my life. Train rolls in to a station where, praise the heavens, the old man is disembarking} 
Old Man: "so could I interest you in lunch some time?"
Me: {fatalist error of them all} "maybe"

I wrote my work number on his metro card {apparently I at least had the presence of mind not to give him my personal number}, and off he went. Once the metro doors firmly shut behind him, I immediately started wondering a) why I'm incapable of either being honest and saying "heck no you creeper" or lying and saying "well, my boyfriend wouldn't like that very much," b) if I'd just met a serial killer, or just a late fifties dude who really likes younger girls. {And I shudder to think just how young he likes them, since I was just hit on by a middle schooler a couple days ago, which goes to show that I don't exactly look my age} 

So yeah, if I go missing, it was a silver-y haired man in his fifties who was wearing a jetblue pilot's uniform and toting a wheely suitcase. I don't remember his eye color, because I was avoiding eye contact like my life depended on it. I think I need to stop watching so much tv. And being so nice to strangers.