Wednesday, August 31, 2011

tuesday night dinner

Tuesday was the only night this week when Ross and I didn't have plans after work, so we planned to have a nice dinner together at home. I started off the night with spicy hummus (from CAVA) topped with a little extra virgin olive oil, diced grape tomatoes, scallions, and a dash of parmesan cheese. This is a great, healthy snack that's good for dipping grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and strips of bell peppers. Here's a photo of how it was served:

Along with the hummus, I put together a cheese platter. We love buying small pieces of cheese from the Whole Foods residual bin. If you don't know about this, Whole Foods wraps up the small pieces of cheese that are left over after chopping up a block and puts them in a bin in the refrigerated section close to the cheese counter. It's a great way to try new cheeses without committing to an entire block or spending $12.

We received, as a housewarming gift from my favorite cousin - shout-out to you, Krissy ;-) - a slate cheeseboard with two pieces of soapstone chalk. This is a FABULOUS gift idea for any wine & cheese lover... because it allows you to plate the cheese and write down what you are serving. I find this helpful as both a host (because I won't be asked a thousand times what cheeses these are) and as a guest (because I can easily remember a cheese I like/dislike). Here's a photo of the cheese plate I put together for our little appy party... we had "Vampire Slayer" (a cow's milk cheese with lots of garlic and some herbs) as well as a pepper cheese (I can't remember if this was cow or goat milk, however black pepper was throughout as well as coating the outside). The Bellavitano was so delicious and creamy - a quick favorite and definite repurchase for us.

For our entree, I baked halibut pieces with the skin on (though, feel free to have the store skin them). You simply rinse them off, pat 'em dry, and lay them in a greased Pyrex dish (I use PAM). Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper, then top them with some butter (you can melt it and brush it on, but I just cut up some pieces and plopped them on top to melt in the oven). When you're ready (aka- the sauce is done) put the Pyrex in the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes... check to make sure the inside of the fish is white when you take it out.

For the sauce... you'll need onion, garlic, butter, extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper, white wine, 28 oz. can San Marzano whole tomatoes (these are worth the price, I promise!), capers, and some spices of your choosing.
  • Circle a saute pan with olive oil twice around and heat on med-low. Add a tab of butter when the pan is hot. 
  • Chop up some onion (I cut three rings from my Vidalia onion and chopped up that) and toss it in the pan to start cooking. 
  • As the onion softens, roughly chop some garlic (I like big pieces) and add it to the pan when the onions have become translucent. 
  • Sprinkle in salt and pepper, and mix this around so it all cooks evenly. 
  • As the garlic begins to turn golden-brown add some white wine to the pan and allow the alcohol to evaporate. 
  • Next, pour in the entire 28 oz. can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. Don't worry [yet] about breaking up the tomatoes, as they cook they will soften and naturally break up - or it can be easily done with a fork. 
  • Add in about a tablespoon of drained capers. 
  • At this point, I put in a bay leaf and some dried oregano. I let this cook and simmer for a while on med-low heat (a 3 on a 10-point knob). 
  • Periodically mix the ingredients to ensure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan, and press down on the tomatoes with a fork to help break them up. 
When the halibut and sauce done - top each piece of fish with a plentiful serving of the sauce (mine became very thick as the liquid evaporated while is simmered). I served this with a side spinach salad. Delish!!

Must give credit, where credit is due... thank you, Mommy for this delicious recipe! You are the inspiration behind all of my cooking :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

my flying adventures

Last night was the last class in my mini IFW (intensive flying workshop) at TSNY DC. Every Monday night in August I would meet up with fellow classmates and fly for two hours. Flying is such a great hobby that is really exhilarating and addictive. (Their tagline "forget fear... worry about the addiction" rings very true!)

My first time on a trapeze was on a trip to Club Med when I was about seven or eight years old. I had a lot of fun because it was like a swinging jungle gym to me :) Last fall I decided to give it a try again. The rig is located really close to the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC (where I used to work). While outside for lunch, I would always pause to watch the students flying and yearn to join them (seriously, I'm not being dramatic... I constantly talked about wanting to go!). Finally I signed up and joined a Saturday afternoon class outside - I was INSTANTLY addicted. After two classes last fall and one in the spring I decided to become more dedicated and really have a go at it. Thus, my enrollment in the mini-IFW this August.

When I started the mini-IFW I had just caught my heels-off trick (the second trick you learn). Quickly I learned (and caught!) the set straddle whip, set split, and the pullover shoot (not so quickly). You can watch a lot of these tricks on my videos on YouTube.  One of my goals for the mini IFW was the one-handed take-off which I also tackled. To finish off the workshop, I started my "swings". Swings involve using your body weight to build momentum so you can do bigger/better tricks with more height! A lot of the movement is counter-intuitive so it takes a while to get the timing down. I did not tape my swings, but when I start my 10-week IFW next month I'll be sure to share, because hopefully I'll be pairing my swings with tricks in no time.

This video was from class last night... I wanted to do a catchable trick at the end so I tried my set straddle whip again. And as I say in the video, I was "dancing"  on the net because I turned the wrong way and twisted my lines up. But then I got to learn how to take off my lines, which is something I've been looking forward to doing (because it's forward progress!).

Monday, August 29, 2011

the coveted red-sole

I love Christian Louboutins. I have been swooning over them for years. And I desperately want to add a pair to my collection of fancy shoes. So, I promised myself that if I worked hard enough and got a promotion this year I'd make the splurge. Well, that happened - I got promoted last week and now I'm on the prowl for the pair of my dreams!!

Yesterday I made my first shopping trip to Neiman's, although without much success. I tried on the Simple Pump (shown below) in a 40 and a 41... unfortunately I need the 40.5. Also - it was black leather, which did not quite impress me. I want to be WOWED by these shoes... and not have them look like another pair of black pumps. So I've decided leather is out - just patent (or if I go really crazy I'll try on those glittery suckers ;-)

Next, I tried on the navy patent Proratas. These I loved, but unfortunately my heel was popping out of the back. Kind of a kill joy to shop for the most fabulous pair of shoes and come home empty handed. But I won't be deterred, my shoes are out there, somewhere, waiting for me. And I can't wait to put them on and strut my stuff!

weekly polish change

I love painting my nails. I will do it at least once a week, and more if I have the time. And if I happen to have a really free schedule, I'll paint my nails to match my outfits!! Essie is my favorite, but I'm also a fan of OPI. And I believe having the job of naming colors is the most fantastic position in the world.

That being said - this is what happens when your boyfriend influences your polish choices. You get purple on your left fingers and toes, and green on your right fingers and toes.

Thankfully these colors are really dark so you can't notice they don't match. And for this time of year, they're a little too dark for my liking - but I figured, if we were going to be stuck inside together with a hurricane this weekend (and possibly longer) why not have a little fun?! Well, it's Monday morning, I'm at the office, and my nails still don't match. Oops.

Looks like I'll be heading back to the polish drawer sooner rather than later. I'm thinking Marshmallow white for my nails, and Capri orange for my toes before the Labor Day weekend comes around. But then again, I could go all patriotic with red, white, and blue. A bit much?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

saturday afternoon snack

Homemade nachos!! Good, hearty snack to munch on as the rain comes rolling in :)

  • Chop tomato, onion, & avocado.
  • Cook a chicken breast on the stove and pull apart the meat.
  • Layer this all on top of tortilla chips.
  • Shred mozzarella cheese and top with diced scallions.
  • Pop this baby under the broiler for a few minutes to heat up and melt the cheese... Yummmy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

hunker down

Have you heard? There's a hurricane coming.

Of course you've heard. This is the biggest news since, like, Kim Kardashian's wedding to Kris Humphries.

But then again I was in the elevator at work just the other day when a coworker asked in surprise, "Kim Kardashian got married?" Umm... hello, didn't you hear? It happened a few days before the rebels broke into Tripoli and took over Ghaddafi's compound. But then again, the consumer of the latter news is likely not tuned into the former news despite the "most popular" links on CNN or MSNBC.

Back to the hurricane... Miss Irene.

I decided to hop over to the supermarket for some last minute items just in case we actually lose power this weekend. More importantly, we had no booze in the house (with the exception of one Dogfish Head r'aison d'etre which is so potent, I'd swear it's spiked). So with a six-pack and some bottles of wine in mind I headed out to the grocery store. What did I come across? Oh, the last parking spot in the deck... nabbed the last shopping cart... spotted a handful of cops chilling by the door to maintain crowd control... and yes, long lines at the checkout counters. But then, I spotted this gem! How ironic that the reusable shopping bags Harris Teeter has on the ends of each aisle are none other than Hurricanes?!

And boy was it true - these long lines at the checkout proved that in fact, Hurricane fans (or preparing residents. Whatever, semantics.) do shop at Harris Teeter for their groceries. Thanks for clarifying.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Creative Side Reemerges

I'm not sure if I get inspired by those around me, or it's just a feeling inside that ebbs and flows, but whatever it is - my creative juices are back, and they feel GREAT! Not only have I relaunched my blog, I am also tweeting again, and painting again!

When painting I prefer to paint photographs... these can be images I come across while online or photographs I have taken myself. Last winter I finished a painting for my boyfriend's birthday (although it arrived a little late!) - a favorite photo of his was one he took while visiting Amsterdam two years ago. This is now resting on the top of our bookshelves in our living/dining room.

Last weekend I was a little bored (first weekend in a LONG time without concrete social plans) so I decided to paint... I had previously purchased three small canvases, about 4x6 - maybe a little smaller - in hopes to create a series of paintings, but the mood had yet to strike. I'll admit - I cannot force myself to paint, I must be inspired. So while this is a hobby I enjoy, it is not a hobby I can do all the time. That being said... here is a painting I completed in about 90 minutes, start to finish. Pretty happy with it, although the colors aren't quite as bright as the photograph, shown next to the painting.

Next up is to finish the other two canvases with other photographs I took at the Botanical Gardens... I'm leaning towards the two shown below...

I guess this also makes the argument that I like to capture photographs... add that to the list too :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Personalized, Homemade Koozies!

Before I forget... really wanted to share this fun crafting idea with you all! For a good friend's bachelorette party I made personalized koozies for everyone.

They came out great and it was a lot of fun making them! Although, I will warn you it was a fairly time intensive activity... though that may be due to my meticulous nature ;-)

Simply order a dozen plain white koozies along with some tubes of fabric paint from Oriental Trading (my go-to spot for party planning). The items are really low cost and will arrive quickly.

Another idea with fabric paints... ask all the attendees for a Baby Shower to create a onesie for the baby. These are guaranteed hits for moms-to-be!

This is my blog, it should be about me!

Hello, blogosphere! It's good to be back :)

Lots of things have happened to me since I last posted... I finished my internship at the NHL, moved to Atlanta to work in marketing consulting for about seven months, and then relocated up to DC where I have been for nearly a year and a half. So, it looks like DC is the city that stuck.

Also - since living here I've fallen head over heels in love. In fact, last night my boyfriend and I celebrated our one-year anniversary. So I treated us to a stretch limo during our night on the town! (I highly suggest this to anybody trying to surprise and/or impress their significant other.)

When I'm not putting in long hours at the office you can likely find me at Trapeze School of New York Washington DC (TSNY DC). Flying trapeze is a new hobby of mine and I am completely obsessed! I'm currently enrolled in a mini intensive flying workshop (IFW) where I've been learning new tricks each week. And when I'm not on the rig, I'm likely watching YouTube videos so I can learn how to master my tricks faster. If you've never flown before, I highly suggest it. The workout is fabulous - my arms and my core are so much stronger than before. Here's the latest and greatest from trapeze... this trick is called a Pullover Shoot!

Oh yes - I also looooove cooking and baking, and painting! So, some more posts on these topics shortly.