Friday, June 29, 2012

My life in photos

My boo has left me.
Oh don't worry, it's just a work trip.  He'll be back from Brussels and Berlin on Monday.  Thank goodness.  This girl was not made for a solitary life.
I came up with a list of things to do in his absence, and I've been doing a pretty good job of getting through it.
First thing on my list was "See Walk the Moon."  Check.  They were at Black Cat in DC last Friday, and Katrina and I danced ourselves sweaty.
Of course, the club was dark and my one photo doesn't do justice to the atmosphere.  I've always been a big fan of live music, and this was taken during the last song, "Anna Sun," when the band is so into it and the fans are clapping and everyone is dancing around like no one else is watching.  It's always worth the price of admission.
While JP is gone, I'm sending him a photo of what I'm wearing each day so he can clearly picture me in his mind's eye (is this normal behavior?).  Anyway, these are my outfits from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (my office had a surprise free day due to a water main break: I don't usually go supercasual like that for work).  Notice any similarities?
No more striped shirts allowed in this girl's dresser.
Awesome new lunch bag that comes with a matching napkin!  Thanks, Mom!
Mia doing her infamous, "My-ball-rolled-under-the-coffee-table-if-I-look-really-cute-and-pitiful-will-you-get-it-for-me?" face.  I got it out. 
I clogged my kitchen pipes on Sunday night; it wasn't fixed until Wednesday afternoon.  Thus, the dishes were done in the bathtub for three days.  
Lesson learned: don't put kale stems down your garbage disposal.  It will only end badly.
When it's sunny on my afternoon walks with Mia, it's glorious.
Favorite new smoothie: mango banana pineapple with almond butter, orange juice, and flaxseed.  
I even took a really great, blurry photo so JP could be part of it in spirit.
How my nights have been ending: Mia on my lap, feet up, watching Hulu or Netflix.  Generally with hot tea or popsicles, depending on the day.  Happy, happy. 
It should be noted that I did other fun stuff this week beside vainly sending my husband photos of myself and looking adoringly at my dog.  These things include: my first running club, seeing My Sister's Sister, getting a gel mani with some wonderful Georgetown friends, Skyping with my favorite Flagler friend (Hi Liza!), and getting my teeth cleaned.  
That last one may not count as "fun."  
Oh well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Whole World Over

I was a big fan of Glass' first work, which I mentioned last week, Three Junes.  Three novellas with interrelated characters in each, it was a beautiful display of love and its complexities.  I picked up The Whole World Over at the last book sale at my local library (for $1!), based solely on the author name.  Well, the copious amounts of bread on the cover didn't hurt.
It tells the stories of how one baker's decision to move to Arizona to become the governor's head chef effected those close to her.  A compelling idea, if a bit chick lit. 
Greenie is the owner of a small bakery in NYC whose coconut cake sends Ray, the governor of Arizona, into a tailspin.  (I should warn you, it's nothing romantic.)  He lures her to the west, where she settles in with her son, leaving her husband in the city.  Walter, her good neighborhood friend and local NYC restauranteur, set her up with the job in the first place, and is beginning to get the itch to settle down. 
So at this point, we've got three narrators: Greenie, Walter and Greenie's husband, Alan.  Glass adds Saga, a woman suffering from intermittent amnesia she sustained from an accident years ago, who runs into Alan on the street and begins working part-time in the same neighborhood as Walter. 
I can see how the first three main characters fit in, but Saga remained a bit of a mystery to me.  Her story seemed a bit misplaced, and even uncomfortable to me (I think Glass is trying to put the reader in the same mindframe as Saga in this respect: slightly off-balance, incapable, and helpless in her own life). 
Greenie and Alan dither about their marriage and son, Walter dithers about his on-off lover Gordie and invites his 20-year old nephew to live with him to learn the restaurant business, and Saga rescues dogs and falls for a bookstore owner. 
I wish I had liked this book more, as it has much potential.  At the end of the day, though, I wasn't wildly in love with any of the characters, and the book felt middling.  Not bad, not good.  Just there.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Veggie Quinoa Salad with Miso

I'm almost embarrassed by how much I like this simple summer salad, as the most exciting thing about it is the inclusion of miso.  Have you cooked with miso before?  I mean, not just eating miso soup at an Asian restaurant, but actually buying and using it in a recipe at home.  I was surprised by the texture (a very thick soybean paste) and container (it comes in a tub that looks like sour cream), which yes, does make me sound like a very sheltered home cook. 
Anyway, this would be perfect for a potluck or side for a vegetarian dinner.  Me? I just like it in a big bowl, room temperature, by itself.  Rather than using a vegetable boullion cube, I just used veggie broth and stirred red miso (the only kind I had on hand, so let me know if the white is amazingly delicious) into the quinoa as it cooked.  All of the veggies are gradually sauteed in a pan, then added to the carb.  Easy!  It's a great combination of savory, salty, and fresh.
I'll be making it tonight for the third time in two weeks; hey, I said it was good.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My life in photos

 Last Friday, JP and I walked around the Georgetown waterfront, where a bunch of local artists presented works around a fountain.  This one was my favorite: 3D koi with fun waves.  Thank goodness fish aren't usually this big!
 We were invited to join some friends at the VIP tent at a charity polo match on Saturday; I put on my best white polka-dots (Pretty Woman, anyone?), and sunglassed up.  It was such a departure from the norm for us!  One of the players was an Outback Steakhouse co-founder, so we had bloomin' onions and shrimp on the barbie.  Oh, and there was an entire bar devoted to mint juleps.  Did I mention that Maker's Mark was also a sponsor?
 John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted, was one of the players, and came around to shake everyone's hand around the field.  It was hard to take him too seriously when his uniform had baby pink stripes on the side. 
During the divot-stomping, an ice cream truck was brought onto the field!  Free chocolate eclairs for everyone!
 All in all, we had a good time. 
 After a long run on Sunday, we came home, showered, and had a baguette with a bazillion toppings: fig butter, olive tapenade, COOKIE BUTTER!, and peach butter.  Holy bananas, it was delicious.
 I'm aways so happy when I can finish a crossword.  Also, the one word I really messed up was 'blog.'  Irony?
 We hung up a salon wall of wedding photos and special small art (it includes a postcard from St. Augustine from my mom, and a homemade postcard from Haley from several years ago).  Looking at them during breakfast makes me smile myself silly. 
Wearing my new shoes today!  I really should have broken them in before a full day at work, but, as my favorite post mistress said, "Strut on, girl!" Tee: Gap, Skirt: J.Crew, heels: Shoemint.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beach Reading!

Summer summer summer there anything better than the dog days of this gloriously warm and sunny season?  It's the perfect time of year for reading novels or light non-fiction; nothing too involved, and preferably rife with unnecessary drama.  I've compiled some of my personal favorite paperbacks to leisurely read during an afternoon spent laying by the pool.  Feel free to tell me your favorites in the comments!

Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie
Chick lit at its' fluffiest.  Two sisters move to Temptation, Ohio to film a documentary about an aging film star, but end up mired in scandal, secrets, and some racy scenarios.  Bonus: the book is small enough to fit in the smallest messenger bag!
Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Whatever emotion Tita feels when cooking is magically transferred to her cooking, leaving its eaters full of the same.  A savory book of longing, family obligation, and recipes. 
The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
A group of teenage boys spend a year lusting after the five beautiful Lisbon sisters.  Macabre, yes, but also full of lyrical prose and the yearning you really only feel during adolescence.
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
I have worn this book out!  Rob's latest girlfriend has left him alone...yet again.  He travels back through his relationships to find out why he can't keep a woman, while managing his record store and endless top five lists.  Hugely quotable.
Bridget Jones' Diary, Helen Fielding
Don't let Renee Zellweger's film portrayal of Bridget keep you from the book.  Yes, it's done to death, but hysterically funny account of a single woman's year trying to find love, stop smoking, and lose weight.
Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
I felt so grown-up when Grandma in North Carolina bought this book for me.  It follows three women trying to make it in the '60s, though everything they want is just out of reach.  Riveting.
Three Junes, Julia Glass
Three novellas combined together for one breathtaking, emotionally spot-on book.  Follows widowed Paul through a trip in Italy where he falls for a young American, onto Paul's eldest son in NYC who owns a book store and a parrot, then the story of the young American in the first story.  Glass won the National book Award for this work. 
Jemima J, Jane Green,
A large woman loses weight and finds love.  Or does she?  A fun book about how transformations aren't always what we expect.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

S'mores Bars

My work life has been hum-drum as of late.  Oh, don't worry, it's nothing drastic, just that a neighboring graduate assistant has recently switched buildings, and she brought a lot of delicious food.  I guess as a law student, she baked to fill the void that torts and will-writing just couldn't.  The people on my floor really raked in the sugary goodness, with our mornings of chocolate chip cookies and even wild rice chicken salad.  A few weeks ago, she brought in some s'mores bars and, after one bite, I practically groveled at her feet for the recipe.  Lo and behold, before she peaced out, she wrote up the how-to (on her own recipe index card!) and bequeathed it to me. 
It's a decadent, summery dessert: sugar cookie ingredients mixed with graham cracker crumbs, gloriously sweet Hershey's bars, and gooey marshmallows.  I've made these the last two weekends, and they go like hot cakes at barbecues and taco nights! 

In lieu of a handwritten index card, I'm just going to link you to the same recipe online.  Not quite as charming, but a bit more practical in terms of blogging purposes. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Life in Photos

My nails last week.  I called them sour apple, but John Paul thinks they're more alien than anything else.  Eh, you can't win them all.

We went for cocktails at Mie N Yu last Friday, and mine had candied ginger in it!  Perfect with salty steamed edamame.

Then we got some dessert at Haagen Dazs!  I chose raspberry sorbet in a waffle cone with chocolate and sprinkles.  Go big or go home!

Currently obsessed with this entire album, and this song in particular.  So quirky with a catchy beat!

New shoes.  I couldn't pass up a cheetah sandal!

Even though John Paul dresses Mia up in his polos...

...she still waits by the front door for hours for him to get home.  Man's best friend.
Killing time before meeting a friend for a pedicure by downing a cappuccino and lemon poppy seed muffin at Filter.  Can anyone pass up lemon poppy seed anything?  What will power.

 I could eat grilled portobellos everyday for dinner and still be unsatisfied.  This one is topped with peach salsa, guacamole, arugula, red onions, and mustard.  Yes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Several months ago, Summer came over for dinner.  This in and of itself is not that exciting or funny (not because she's not funny or exciting, just that we see each other pretty often), but she physically sat me down on my couch and read this story by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess.  The story of Beyonce, the giant metal chicken.  Please take a minute to read over the post linked above and come back when you're done. 
I can't read it at work because it makes me laugh so hard, it distracts my (admittedly) very small office.  So keep that in mind.
A couple weeks ago, Summer informed me that she had purchased a full-length book by Jenny Lawson, and would be lending it to me as soon as she was done.  Thus I picked up Let's Pretend This Never Happened last week to start the giggling and, what I presumed, general goofiness.
Let's be honest: this is a 'mostly true' memoir.  I'm sure the bulk of the book is based on real-life, but sweet baby Jesus, I hope some of it isn't.  Lawson's dad, a taxidermist, had a tendency of sticking his hand into dead animals and using them as puppets to scare/entertain his children.  Her hand got stuck in a cow while she was artificially inseminating it in high school.  That sort of thing.  A lot of the book is funny, but there are some sections that definitely are not; those parts, Lawson pretty much glosses over.  I'm not sure if this is a self-preservation thing or just not-sharing-everything-with-the-public thing, but I kind of wanted to hear more about the version of Lawson that doesn't ramble stream-of-consciousness paragraphs about zombie apocolypses in lieu of discussing things like being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 30ish, having a blood disease that makes it hard to get pregnant, and being anorexic in college.  Perhaps because I don't read 'The Bloggess,' Lawson's tone was a bit much to dive into in a full-length book. 
If you're already a fan of her blog, this book will be perfect for you.  If you're buying this thinking it will be humourou fluff, it's a bit more than that.  I'm unsure of exactly where I fall between those two categories.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Watermelon, Cucumber and Arugula Salad

 A couple weeks ago, I went out to lunch with the two other people in my office to a pizza place.  As someone who doesn't eat a ton of cheese, this wasn't really super appealing to me, but I figured there would be something appetizing on the menu of an Italian cafe.  This salad screamed at me to order it, and it was absolutely perfect for a hot May day: sweet watermelon; crisp, cool cucumber; bitter, earthy arugula; and a light, tangy lemon vinaigrette to tie it all together.
I recreated it for a dinner at home last week, and it was absolutely wonderful and light.  JP and I paired the salad with a Spanish pan con tomate and a cool glass of white wine.  Cheers to finding a unique new summer dish!

Watermelon, Cucumber and Arugula Salad
4 c. arugula, washed and rinsed
3 c. cubed seedless watermelon
1/2 cucumber, peeled into thin ribbons 
Lemon vinaigrette, recipe below

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and top with vinaigrette. 

Easy, Light Lemon Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
juice from 1 large lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a small jar, shake and pour over salad.

This is what I look like when prepping a watermelon for this dish.  Reppin' Flagler College!

Friday, June 8, 2012

What I've been up to

My lovely Grandma in North Carolina recently not-so-subtly pointed out that I've been incredibly absent from TLP.  I wish I could tell you that I was undergoing a life-changing event or had some exciting news to share with you, but the fact is that I've been really up in the air about this whole blogging thing.  I started TLP because a. my dad is not on Facebook, and this is a good way to keep up updated on what's going on in my life and b. my cousins and sister would, at times, say they could never pull off looks that I wear (I think this is more out of respect than an insult, though I have had a LOT of fashion missteps) and I wanted to share how I put pieces together.  You'll notice that there used to be way more outfit posts than there are now, and in fact more updates in general.  A full-time job, volunteer library opportunities, an actual social life, making time to keep in touch with family, and actually writing posts takes more hours than you might expect.
This is a very long intro, but suffice to say this: I'm going to be slimming down TLP this summer.  You'll find one or two recipe posts, a book review (if I'm quick enough to read one!), and a post of music/ meals/ events/ informal outfits a week.  Gone are the full-on outfit posts, but I'm wearing a lot of tees and jeans lately so you're not missing out on much.
Now, how about some iPhone photos?

JP and I had a spontaneous lunch date a few Fridays ago at Sticky Fingers, the best vegan bakery in DC.  We had TLT (tempeh, lettuce tomato) sandwiches, along with a cookie and Virgil's root beer.  Man, I love my husband and this city.
That evening, we met up with our dog park friends at Juniper in West End for a doggy happy hour.  This place is wonderful because a. their drinks are divine and b. you can bring your pup inside their courtyard! 
These are some of the best people I know, and we totally met them through our dogs.  Don't underestimate your own neighborhood.

Breakfast: tofu, kale, coconut, brown rice with a shoyu/olive oil/sesame seed oil dressing. YUM.

I had to go to south Florida because MY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!!  You can't really miss that big ol' rock on her finger, can you?  When someone invites you to your sister's engagement party, you kind of have to be there.  They look so happy, and I can't wait to celebrate their coupledom!

We were just happy to be together.  Though the tasty breakfast we'd just shared at Panera did not hurt the situation.

Oh, and I got to have some TooJay's latkes and fruit salad, with no cottage cheese.  I've gotten pretty good at ordering food these past 25 years.

We got some rain at Aunt Nesi's house from Tropical Storm Beryl (I miss day-long thunderstorms, btw) on Memorial Day, but it just gave us more time to talk.  It was soul-soothing.

Summer and I laid out for a bit last week, and the sky was glorious.  You can't photoshop this stuff.

And we got Mia a new outfit from a great company called See Scout Sleep.  Not to brag, but she looks even cuter than usual in their "Out of My Box" collar and leash.   

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In the Garden of Beasts

Now, let's take a moment to consider that any book about the rise of Hitler in Berlin may be a little overwhelming at times.  German names are confusing (there, I said it), nonfiction can be heavy on background without much forward plot development, and it's maddening to think that we as a country waited several years before thinking, "Hey, this Hitler guy could be dangerous, maybe we should at least say a few things about it in the press." 
Erik Larson's latest book, In the Garden of Beasts, covers Berlin, 1933, in great detail.  This happens to be the same year William Dodd took over as American ambassador to Germany and moved to Berlin with his wife, son, and daughter Martha.   The first year starts on a high note, as all of the family is a bit under the spell of the Nazis' promises to rebuild Germany into a world power.  Martha begins having a number of high-profile affairs (including one with the head of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels), while Dodd sets about trying to get Germany to pay back its bonds to the US.  As the months wear on, reports of attacks on and civil liberties revoked from Germany's Jewish popularion grow, and the Dodds' perception of the country and Hitler begins to do an about-face.  The State Department at the time seems unflustered by the reports Dodd sends back, and Martha begins flirting with socialism (and a prominent Soviet Union spy) as a slap in the face to the Nazi party in Germany.  While I'm on the topic of Martha, Larson spends an awful lot of time detailing her exploits with men, but most of these seem to have little to do with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, and felt forced.  She's just not as interesting as Larson makes her out to be. 
I wish I could say I enjoyed this book more, as it's immensely important to remember events like Hitler's slow but determined crawl to power, so as to (hopefully) avoid it in the future.  I had a lot of issues with it, though.  Having enjoyed Larson's Devil in the White City, I was hoping this work would read much like a novel.  However, neither William or Martha Dodd are intriguing or even likable people, and the end is far too rushed.  While he covers things as mundane as the weather in 1933, Larson barely covers the later years of Dodd's ambassadorship (is that the right word?) that led up to the U.S. commenting on Hitler's Germany.  As a result, stories about a trip to visit a Nazi official's house to look at his mansion and herd of bison feel random and infused with unnecessary tension. 
This is not to say that I didn't learn a lot from Beasts, but perhaps lower your expectations if you loved Devil in the White City.  This didn't flow as easily, and includes a lot of information about a mostly-superfluous character in Berlin at the time (Martha). 
In more exciting news, you may want to read this before Tom Hanks' film version comes out in a few years so you can compare the two works.