Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dinner Tonight... going to be awesome. I don't know why I'm so into food posting lately. It's not like I've got great aspirations to be a food blogger, or that I'm really all that great of a chef (I can follow a recipe...). But I'm really excited about eating.

The Menu:
-Jamaican Jerk Burgers*
-Homemade potato chips
-Pear clafoutis (I wanted plums, like in the recipe, but the grocery store wasn't having it)


*Made the marinade for the first time with a real habanero instead of jalapenos (using gloves, bien sur). Felt very rock star. Hope it's not so hot as to be inedible...I'll let you know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Name Game

Yeah, I got tagged on facebook, but that's not how I roll. So doing it here. Lame? Probably. But it should be a snow day and I'm at work, so no criticism is allowed.

Copy to your own note, erase my answers, and enter yours. Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real . . . nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question. (Note: the girl who tagged me is named Rebekah, hence some weird answers are probably forthcoming as I can't do repeats).

1. What is your name: Rachel
2. A four Letter Word: rats!
3. A boy's Name: Robert (or Uncle Bob, as I know him)
4. A girl's Name: Roxanne (you don't have to put on the red light!)
5. An occupation: rock star
6. A color: rouge
7. Something you wear: running shoes
8. Where's 8?
9. A food: ramen
10. Something found in the bathroom: roll-on deodorant
11. A place: Rio de Janeiro
12. A reason for being late: road closure (due to a motorcade, no doubt)
13. Something you shout: rock 'n' roll
14. A movie title: Rushmore
15. Something you drink: rum
16. A musical group: REM
17. An animal: raccoon
18. A street name: Rhode Island Avenue
19. A type of car: Rabbit
20. The title of a song: Ring of Fire

Sort of like Scattergories, I guess. Per the usual, play along if you're feeling it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Comfort Food

With tales of snow approaching (I'll believe it when I see it), the Potomac River frozen over for the last week or so, and me giving in to wearing socks EVERY SINGLE DAY, I have accepted that winter has arrived in DC.

I know, I know...but winter, despite several perks, is just not my favorite. Namely, I don't do cold. I have often discussed with friends from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other Siberia-like environs my theory on dealing with weather: you are trained to handle one extreme. Growing up in Texas, I can live with 90+ (or 100+) degree days in July. Wind chill of -4? I'm out.

Not to say there aren't things I enjoy about the cold. Snow is in fact really, really beautiful, and I still get excited when we get the first fall and everything is white and quiet. Of course then it gets all gray and slushy and annoying, but at first it is wonderful. I also love snuggling under lots of blankets - I like the heaviness of quilts and throws all piled on my bed.

Mainly though, I like the excuse to eat some comfort food. Not that I really need a season to indulge in anything...while I try to be healthy for the most part, butter and cream and cheese and all products dairy manage to sneak their way into a lot of my food choices. But there's something about cold temperatures that inspires me to have cheesy soups and creamy pastas and chili with cheddar cheese for just about every meal.

So tonight I have made one of my favorites: penne a la vodka. I use this recipe, which is pretty counterintuitive for a number of reasons. First, the name is just idiotic. I doubt I will ever bring myself to make it for a guy, just on principle. Unless I'm married, I suppose, but since that's currently not the case...just no. And it's by Rachael Ray, who I generally find to be rather annoying. And I saw her make it on Oprah, which I don't watch. But with all those caveats, it's an easy, delicious recipe that gets even better after it's been in the fridge overnight. Be sure to serve with some sort of crusty bread. And as Rachael mentioned in the show, don't use hooch* - it will make a difference.

Next on my slate is chili (for a Super Bowl party) and Jamaican Jerk Burgers. What are your comfort foods?

*Can I share that while buying said not-hooch today at the VABC store, the clerk whom I have never seen before totally gave me the third degree about my dating life? Talk about irony.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Little Something, Just for You

I got an email from my dad yesterday, informing me that he was refinishing a table that belonged to my grandmother:
From Drop Box
And if you check closely, you can see the penmanship of a gifted six year old:
From Drop Box
If memory serves, I carved it with a tip of a miniature Eiffel Tower (appropriate, non?).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Photos

Inauguration 2009

As you may have gathered from my twitter feed, I went to the Inauguration events on the mall yesterday. I thought I'd take a stab at my impressions, etc. of the event.

Our day started out early-ish - we had ambitions to go, but they didn't start before dawn or anything. Gina and I stayed with Kandi, who lives pretty far north of the mall/museum/downtown area, but there weren't any closed bridges between her house and our destination. We got up, had an excellent, Kandi-made breakfast, and then drove to my office to park in the garage and head down. My office is approximately 2 miles north of the mall, assuming you have a straight shot down (which we most certainly did not). First of all, it was a bit weird to see every single parking spot filled on the street - on any other sort of holiday, that area would be a ghost town. And then, we started walking, and there were tons of people, all walking south. It was pretty fun - everyone was in a good mood and people were waving flags and smiling and generally enjoying themselves.

I figured we would have some trouble getting to someplace to watch the swearing-in, largely because we didn't really know where to go, and because our route was directly blocked by the barricaded parade route from the Capitol to the White House. We ended up wandering west of the White House, about to 19th/20th Street, and then headed south to the mall. We landed right behind the WWII Memorial, and there was still a lot of room to start towards the Washington Monument. So we made our way there, heading towards a jumbo screen so we could watch the speech and all. At this point, it was about 10 am, and the area that required people to go through security screening (just ahead of us at 14th Street) was already full. We were definitely too far away too see what was going on in person, but all things being equal, we had a decent vantage point.

The crowd was an interesting mix of people - I definitely heard some other languages (Spanish, French and Russian for sure, as well other accents I couldn't exactly place). The crowd was young-ish, pretty racially diverse although from our spot it was mostly white people in their 20's and 30's, with a few black families with younger children mixed in. Things got started a little late, and the walking in and announcing of Important People seemed to take forever (our feet were cold!). There was an especially annoying couple next to us (white yuppies...the race is important in this anecdote), who kept trying to start chants and singing and such. I hit my limit when they tried to lead everyone nearby in "We Shall Overcome" to no avail. Overcome what, exactly? Middle class angst?

So this is were I will segue for a moment - many people were clearly under the impression that this was a political rally, not an official ceremony. I tried to not be too annoyed by it, mostly because I was expecting such behavior, but people constantly booing any screen shot of Bush or Cheney started to wear on my nerves. Even if you don't like the outgoing administration or their policies, I think you should at least respect the Office and refrain from obnoxious behavior as the transition happens. That particular moment, in my mind, has nothing to do with politics or policies or what-have-you, and everything to do with upholding tradition and celebrating a peaceful transition of power.

We watched the swearings-in of both Biden and Obama (aside: they also booed Rick Warren), and then the Inaugural Address. That was particularly interesting in the crowd, because people really were very, very quiet - listening intently, with only some interjection for cheers and things. It was pretty eerie to hear what I now know to be about 1.5 million people get close to silent to catch every word. After the speech started, a girl in a pink hat stepped just next to me, and I recognized her! Someone I work with! I was really hoping to see at least one of the fifty-odd people I knew at the event, but in crowds that size, I wasn't too optimistic. So that was cool.

As soon as Obama finished speaking, everyone was moving again - few people waited to hear the closing remarks/benediction or anything like that. We decided to hang around for a bit, mostly because there were literally a million people that were going to be walking north, and we thought there was really no rushing that crowd. And no need to put ourselves smack in the middle of it. We were able to get a bit closer to the Capitol to take a look down the mall and see the crowds, and we also waited to see Bush's helicopter take off and pass over the city.

Apparently we made a good choice in the end as to location, because several of my friends managed to get into the 14th and east area, but when everything was over, there was no way to get out. We had to retrace our steps back up to 19th Street, where we had to wait on the wrong side of a very long line of charter buses that were transporting the bands to the parade start, but we were back to our car by 2:30 or so after walking a bit and catching a bus.

All in all, I'm really glad we went. Not only was it historic for a number of reasons (inauguration of the first black President, biggest crowds ever for an inauguration, inauguration of a President in general), it was a fun experience. People for the most part were very friendly and polite to each other, and seeing the mass migration to and from the event was amazing.

And in the end, I felt inspired. Not because I think Obama is a miracle worker, I actually think a lot of people are going to be disappointed because their expectations of what he can accomplish are unrealistically high, but because people (including me) want to be part of things again. I'm sure there are lots of other good reasons, but I feel like this administration will at least be open to doing things outside of the usual DC mechanics. And that they don't have such a focused worldview, particularly in relation to foreign relations. Whether or not they are successful remains to be seen, but I'm going to enjoy being hopeful for the moment.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weighing My Options

So as you may have heard, there's going to be a new President come Tuesday. And because of this, millions of people are descending on Washington in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the action. Since I already live in the metro area of the city (Arlington, to be exact), I'm trying to figure out what I should do. Keep in mind the following constraints:

  • All but one bridge into the city from VA is closed to car traffic. The one bridge that is open is A) going to be really crowded, and B) still really far from where the action is taking place.
  • It's going to be like 30 degrees on Tuesday. For the high, not including the wind.
  • I have neither a ticket to the swearing-in nor a bleacher ticket to the parade. The parade route has a maximum of 300,000 or so bystanders, and they're estimating at least 2 million people coming in.

I want to participate in some form, because I think it's cool and historic, and also because I don't really plan on being in DC forever and I don't know how many inaugurations I will have the chance to attend. So what to do? I have plans to crash with a friend in DC proper, so that's a start, but I'm lost from there. More research is necessary, but I'm already quite sure that I'm not die-hard enough to do any sort of hours long waiting/camping out. Thoughts? If you lived here, what would you do?

Monday, January 05, 2009

And we're BACK!

It has been ages since I've written anything here. My apologies to those of you that still faithfully visit every day to stay for .015 seconds and see that I have yet to write anything new.

Whew, so my fall was busy. How about yours?

So where to begin...we last ended with our puff paint adventure, which I think was quite a hit in general. I decided against wearing my homemade sweatshirt to my work's holiday party, but did sport Gina's flashing Christmas light necklace. Much of the surrounding time is a blur, but I was able to relax a bit at my parent's house over the holidays. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Christmas Eve dinner (lasagna and Caesar salad, tradition at our house)
  • Christmas Day! (shirt from Honey, gingerbread with lemon sauce for breakfast, usual feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, swiss green beans - NOT your canned soup variety!!, apricot salad, and many, many pies)
  • World's quickest trip to Austin to see Ginger, Ebony, and of course the baby Daniel, who is still very chubby and still very adorable
  • New Year's Eve dinner with Sarah here, which is super duper cute and needs to be revisited for game night (food was fab too...buffalo chicken mac and cheese!)
  • Generally hanging with all those people (mostly my family, official and honorary) that I miss the most when I'm here

I'm seriously looking forward to starting afresh this year, not so much with the resolutions, but more of a change in my mindset. Being healthier, being better to myself as far as my time is concerned, and so on and so forth. Most of these ideas aren't really concrete beyond having a smoothie each morning (fruit! and yogurt!), so I won't write at length just yet :). But at the very least, here are my goals for the next few weeks, more as a reminder to myself than anything else:

  • Visit the Corcoran to use that exhibition ticket I bought back in July before it expires, and try to hit one museum around here a month (I mean, they're mostly free! What am I hung on, exactly?)
  • Finish my jewelry holder project in addition to a few hats and scarves for folks that just couldn't get done before Christmas
  • Hang up the window things I bought for our bathroom shower window (and burn the current blinds that are disgusting and collect mildew like its their job, and dance around the bonfire)
  • Attend at least one ballet class a week (I was actually doing okay with this until I got some sort of coughing malaise in the fall, and then the busy hit)
  • Read more. Of everything.

There are probably more that I should write, but they're still forming out there in the nethersphere so I'll ponder them a bit longer, if you don't mind.

Oh, and

  • I will try to update the blog more consistently. Smooches!