Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DC Grey Market

JP and I went to the DC Grey Market last Sunday, and ate ourselves silly.  I hadn't heard of this before in DC, but know that other cities (NYC, Chicago) do events of this nature: you pay a small admission fee and enter a space with lots of unlicensed food makers.  Basically, it's a potluck you pay to get into, and then pay each vendor for their wares, if you like what they're selling.  The people in the photo above made amazing pierogis, including one with bacon, cheese and potatoes.  Yum!
 What it equals is lots of really reasonably-priced food from small, local businesses, and getting to talk to the people who make the food.  It's not really a farmer's market, because there's no produce, but it's only shakily legal, for reasons I'm not totally sure of.  Regardless, we had a wonderful time there! 
Many of the vendors are very special-diet friendly; Naturally Sweet had the beautiful vegan, gluten-free carrot cupcakes above. 
 A caterer called 'Curvy Mama' made gorgeous pies; her cherry pie looked perfectly summery, but JP went for the pecan variety.  It was delish!
There was a vegan cupcake group with very beautifully presented plates.  It's hard to tell, but they're actually minis!
 My favorite savory of the day was deep-fried taro from an empanada stand.  It was Asian-inspired and very reminiscent of a Japanese latke!  I'd like a dozen for lunch right now.
 JP's lunch was a pork sandwich.
 He seriously savored every bite!  That kid loves his meaty sandwiches.
 This is the face of a very satisfied Abbi.
My favorite little treat was dairy-free strawberry-basil 'ice cream' from Naturally Sweet.  Perfect way to end my hour of decadence.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My life in photos

 This week, my thumbs were very formal and feminine.  It took a steady hand.
 Joe is in DC!  Of course, we took him to BTS.  JP's smile is so large because a. friends are fun to be around and b. he's about to get a burger with bacon and caramelized onions on it.  Score.
Mural on the stair case at Local 16.  That anatomically correct heart in the center is mildly disturbing, but the whole painting is strangely enticing.
 I love when he cooks.
 We had such a good time on the Georgetown waterfront picnic on Friday, Tara and Mark invited us to join them for double date version on Sunday!  This time, we brought the pups and our picnic blanket. 
 I love this trail behind our dog park in the West End.  It's tangled, shady and somehow always cool in the summer.
 JP got a new camera and took photos of me cooking some maple-pecan muffins.  Of course, neither of us got pictures of the finished product, but there are plenty of the mixing and pouring process!
P.S. How amazing is this photo compared to my iPhone pics? 
Breakfast pizza at Local 16 with bottomless bloody marys.  Sigh...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

What a charming little book!  Several fellow book lovers have recommended this epistolary novel to me since last year, and I finally bought it (for $1 at the last book sale at my library!) in March and read it over last weekend. 
Shaffer and Barrows' main focus on the story is Juliet, a 30-something British author in the years directly after WWII.  She's plucky and sassy, two wonderful characteristics for a protagonist, and even more suited for keeping a light tone when discussing Britain after the war.  While never dismissing the horrors that occurred in Europe at that time, Shaffer and Barrows do not dwell.  Juliet begins a correspondence with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in the British Isles, helping her develop both an appreciation for the lesser-known German occupation of Guernsey and an idea for a new book.  The letters eventually lead her to the island itself, where she is greeted warmly by the members of GLAPPPS and finds herself more at home on the small isle than in London. 
Honestly, there's no better word for this book than quaint.  While not stuffy, it does feel a bit old-fashioned in both language and the relationships between characters.  You will learn a bit (I'd never even heard of Guernsey, but I've never been good with geography) while smiling at Isola's quirky letters to Sidney and stories of Juliet's temper.  You could definitely get through this novel in one sitting, and I totally recommend that you do!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Date Night

Button-down and earrings: H&M
Skirt: F21
Sandals: Target
Bag: ? (somewhere in Europe)
Sunglasses: Gap

I took JP on a date last Friday night.  The weather in DC has been absolutely lovely, so we stopped by Dean and Deluca in Georgetown to grab some food to go, ate it by the waterfront, then headed to see The Avengers.  I seriously enjoyed every aspect of the evening!  Dinner was delicious, it was perfectly breezy on the water, and the film was incredibly fun to watch (hard to go wrong with a bunch of good-looking guys and cheesy dialogue).  
JP deemed this outfit sophisticated and sultry; that's exactly the look I go for during May date nights. 
The sun was so bright, we had a hard time with lighting.  Eh, you can still see me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I'm a little behind on blog posts.  This recipe is actually from our one-monthiversary on April 24.  Goodness, we're already several weeks into this whole marriage thing!
The story with this cake is simple: it's incredibly delicious, rich, and full-bodied with a nose of berries.  (Is that a thing?)  Red wine gives the cake a lovely deep red tint, although you should know that the alcohol does NOT completely bake out.  Not only does this mean that you'll definitely taste the wine in the cake batter (you know, if you're into that whole raw batter/dough thing), but it means you'll have to refrain from serving it to small children.
Now, the story behind the decision to make this cake and how we came to eat it is a little more simple: it sounded good, and we wanted to splurge on a random Tuesday that was only important to us.  It's the little things that sometimes get you through the days, and this day in particular was a little rough.  JP's job has been requiring a lot of his time lately (well, more than what we're used to), and I wasn't really expecting the first months of marriage to feel different (they do).  Our 30-day mark happened to fall on the day before JP had to fly to Texas for several days, and then he ended up being home 3 hours later than I expected.  There were two options: be mad and sulk throughout the dinner to celebrate us or be happy to get this time with JP and be supportive and loving when he got home.  I chose the latter.  I'm learning that marriage, and life in general, is sometimes just being happy with chocolate cake and your husband, and letting the other things fall by the wayside.  If you make this cake, be in the moment of making it, savoring the bites, licking the powdered sugar off your fingers.  Life is better that way.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dallas' College Graduation!

 My cousin Dallas graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College on Saturday, and I'm so proud of him!  WVWC is only 4.5 hours from DC, so I drove over to witness this momentous occasion.
The journey there was beautiful; lots of mountains and curvy roads to keep it interesting.
 I could tell we were in West Virginia by the decor.  I arrived just in time for a meal at Hillbilly Grill, where we indulged in deep fried pickles, $3.50 BLTs, and banana cream pie.  The pie had barely touched the table when Megs and I gobbled it up!
 My lovely companions for the weekend: Andrea, Grandma, Papa, Dallas, Thomas and Megs.
 He did it!  A college grad with a degree in business, minor in econ.  He's an impressive kid!
 Appropriate attire for a graduation: black Gap dress, Cooperative brown wedges, brown H&M belt, necklace from Goldfinch.
 Mom looked cute, too!
 After graduation, we hopped into the car (Megs and I were in the very back, where dogs and luggage usually reside)  with a couple bloody marys for a trip to Thyme Bistro for lunch.  It was tasty!
 Dallas took us by a winery on the way back to the college; there was even a winery dog!  We had some blackberry merlot, which was undeniably delicious!
 While looking for decorations for Dallas' graduation dinner, I found some great accessories at the Dollar Store.  Your outfit's not complete without goofy glasses!
 The drive home was equally lovely.
I had to stop to take a few photos by the side of the road.  We don't have sights like this in Florida!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Life in Photos

 When I have the apartment to myself, I like to look at decorating books, make to-do lists, and eat wasabi peas.
 Take out night generally involves veggie pad thai and spring rolls.
 Tara invited Summer and I to a happy hour at Bayou.  I had a spicy bloody mary, which was garnished with a pickled okra.  Man, I love southern drinks.
 Mia gets so alert when the doorbell rings.
 Cold-brewed coffee with biscotti.
 Last week, I went out with some CUA girls (and a boy!) to H Street Country Club, a bar/restaurant with a mini-golf course upstairs!  It's pretty DC-centric, with King Kong climbing the Washington Monument...
...and dead presidents rising from their graves.  
 This is what Mia and I do when JP's out of town: sleep in late, then send him photos of it.
I painted my nails to look like the night sky.
Mia and Tanner had a weekend-long sleepover!  When their parents are around, they sleep on opposite sides of the couch; who knows what happens when we leave.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Know This Much Is True

Try as I might, I can't remember who recommended this book.  Someone thought I would enjoy lugging this 900-page behemoth around for a week, pages falling out and dog-eared.  You know what?  Whoever it was, you were right. Wally Lamb's tale of identical twin brothers is a wonder of pacing, managing to keep the reader entranced by the Birsey men throughout the hundreds of written pages.  The main gist is that Dominick Birdsey is trying his hardest to get his brother, Thomas, out of a psychiatric hospital.  Thomas, a schizophrenic, has cut his own hand off as a sacrifice to God, believing it would help stop the oncoming Gulf War.  Obviously, the state of Connecticut doesn't want him wandering the streets after that stunt.  Along the way, Dominick is dealing with some craziness from his live-in girlfriend Joy, his best friend's self-absorption (that would be Leo), his broken heart from divorcing the love of his life Dessa, and his stepfather Ray, who was an abusive presence in his and Thomas' childhood. 
Dominick develops relationships with his brother's social workers, one of whom helps him begin taking apart his anger issues to rebuild a healthier life.  During his visits to the therapist, he relives a life spent protecting Thomas from Ray and the rest of the world, as well as his own feelings of abandonment stemming from his mother always choosing Ray over him.  He flashes back to the summer of 1969, when Thomas began showing symptoms of mental illness, and a summer job defined his life in ways he couldn't comprehend at the time. 
Oh, and there's the translated manuscript of his immigrant grandfather's life, in which Dominick finds more comparisons than he's comfortable with. 
It sounds like a lot, but Lamb does a wonderful job of keeping the story moving.  Ultimately, this is a story about responsibilities to yourself vs. family, grief and regret, anger and moving forward. Those are pretty universal themes, so you could probably find something in there to relate to.  It's great to see a 40-year old man really change his ways throughout the course of the novel, and Lamb manages to develop each character into full-blown personalities in your head.  By the end, you'll feel as if you know them personally.