the end of something

I just finished summer camp.

Not attending it. I’m 25…

No, rather, I was leading it. With the scrappy little counselors that could, and my counterpart at our partner organization with whom I was basically in a long term relationship (true story: we went out to grab ice cream one day after work and after sitting around for a second, I went, “I can’t think of anything to say, because I already know everything about you”. It was the first summer of this particular camp and we got next to no support from any of the people who were supposed to be helping and I thought I was going to lose my mind at the end of those sometimes 11 hour days.

But I worked with awesome awesome people and I wanted to give them a quality party.

So I made them a lot of pizza.

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(Trader Joe’s pizza crusts- I got three white and one herb-speckled, Trader Joe’s shredded mozz, pepperoni, olives, tomatoes. Made in various permutations. It was good pizza!)

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And we sat by the pool and we drank many margaritas and we laughed and we did superlatives and it was a great night. And now work is winding down and grad school is getting closer eeeee!

Been enjoying the lull. Also still been enjoying the iPhone (a LOT!) as it’s enabled me to actually take pictures of places I’v been to and enjoyed many a time but haven’t ever had it together to bring a camera to.

Por ejemplo, the delicious Fiesta Grill.

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It’s so awesome living somewhere that has Mexican food! DC offers Salvadoran and Bolivian in spades, but if you want Mexican you can basically go to Chili’s. It’s annoying. However, the Triangle has quality Mexican, and EXTRA HIGH QUALITY Mexican at this bossy place.

I’ve tried a few things on the menu, but the be all and end all, in my humble opinion, is the shrimp enchiladas.

They are gargantuan:

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And amazing. Basically the entire inside of the tortillas are coated in cheese- thumbs up. And there’s fleshy and flavorful tomato to cut the richness- thumbs up. And there are BIG FAT PIECES OF JUICY JUICY SHRIMP. And there is TOTALLY BOSSY AND PERFECT ENCHILADA SAUCE.

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I’m always amazed how much of it I can eat. I did give Steve all of my rice and much of my beans, but even he gets full at that place.

Another fun thing I did recently was attend a clothing swap! Poor boys. They don’t get these things. I spent so long trying to explain it to Steve, who was baffled that there was no exchange of money or formal venue.

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I came down with a weird stomach bug last week. Luckily for me, the day I needed to leave work early was the day that Steve was teleworking, so he picked me up and while he data’d away in the living room I was passed out on his bed.

With my loyal companion.

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In other news, pool maintenance: they’re doing it wrong.

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Gross.

Finally, an event I love but have yet to chronicle in the blog: Saturdays in Saxapahaw. Saxapahaw is a (fabulously named) charming little town just a hop skip and a jump from Chapel Hill. In the summer they have an outdoor concert series in this beautiful park. There’s bluegrass, a farmer’s market, food trucks, and gazillion of happy children and families.

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I was feeling all happy and mushy (and had Hipstamatic open already) so I tried really really hard to take a good selfie of me and the boy. It was not that successful.

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(my favorite:)

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Sky. Sky is manageable.

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Knees. Knees are manageable.

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Our friends Dan and Bethany joined us this week. I’ve known Dan since seventh grade! I was friends with his little sister. Now he and his wife and their adorable six-month-old baby daughter are our neighbors! Very fun to see them.

They’d left, and the music had ended, but Steve and I were enjoying the finally cooler evening too much to head home just yet. So we went on the porch of The Eddy, the pub nearby.

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Lemonade for me, strawberry basil beer for him. Views and sunsets for all.

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Final highlight: I finally got my life together and refilled my hummingbird feeder!

Watching them gives me so much joy I can’t even.

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And now I must go outside and mask some wasps angry. NOT FOR YOU. Fun tip: wasps hate plant sprayers.

cookin’ tomatoes

Having fresh tomatoes around (ideally ones you grew) enables you to make almost anything awesome.

Here is a nice picture of tomato sauce bubblin’ away on the stove. The pot in the back is the pot used to poach a tomato. Tomato sauce works best with peeled tomatoes, and the easiest way to peel a tomato is to plop it in boiling water for thirty seconds or so.

Why yes, this was taken during tomato season last summer. Yes that is my mother’s house.

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Here’s the North Carolina incarnation, which is canned :( but organic :) I threw some glugs of olive oil in a pan, cooked a few cloves of garlic and some dried Italian seasoning in it, then added a can of organic whole tomatoes, crushed with my hands, and a can of organic diced fire roasted tomatoes.

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This sauce was served for… Gnocchi Gnight! (Sorry. Sorry.)

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On the make your own gnocchi plate night was two kinds of gnocchi from World Market (whole wheat and sweet potato, and porcini and truffle), the homemade tomato sauce, sauteed mushrooms (which looked much more voluminous before they were sauteed, obviously), and parmesan.

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Steve and I had over my friend Roxanne and her hunky French boyfriend. Roxanne is Thai, and her mom made us this unbelievably delicious soup. The meals didn’t match but we didn’t care.

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The tomato sauce had its second life in the form of this hippie bastardization of pizza.IMG_0129

Crust: chickpea flour mixed with hot water, spread in the pan

Sauce: normal sauce, the only normal part of this

“Sausage”: tempeh that’d been roasted with garlic powder and soy sauce

Cheese: 2% cabot cheddar

So not pizza at all. But, but, but… really really good!

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And finally, its last incarnation (why make tomato sauce when instead you can make a lot of tomato sauce?), I poached some eggs in the tomato sauce (threw in a few soft cherry tomatoes for a little extra oomph).

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Fab!

Now let’s say you need to clean out your fridge of a variety of vegetables, not just tomatoes. Here is a concoction for you.

Onions, eggplant, okra (sauteed) Chopped tomatoes and peanut butter and hot sauce and soy sauce (mixed in) Stewed til the okra got tender and finished with seasonings of choice.

It’s amazing how good peanut butter is with vegetables!

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Yes, these pictures were also taken last summer. I miss you, Dutch oven.

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Busy bee

I seem to get my best work done on sick days. Today I’ve:

- made a billion maintenance requests to my apartment management company (none for the first time, ahem)

-sent a bunch of work emails, including one about my miracle discovery of a receipt I thought I’d lost forever

-signed up for student health insurance

-signed up for amazon student

- bought all my books for next semester (!!!!)

- canceled an old credit card I haven’t used in 2 years (I just need bigger spending limits at this time in my life, eeurrrgh)

- opened a new savings account at all my coworkers’ favorite credit union, which will do my taxes for free next year

- applied for a job, which I’m feeling good about because it’s with my current job’s partner organization, doing much the same as I’m doing now, except part time and for twice as much an hour

- called yet another bank about a mystery account on my credit report, which turned out to be a non issue.

Now I’m waiting on my car, which is getting an oil change, sitting In a nice cozy tea shop and sipping ginger peach oolong, which is doing nice things for my nausea. Next I’ll call my little sister for a career talk, buy some new hand soap, and drop some stuff at work. Whew!

 

recent musings

When my loved ones are in the air, I always track their flights. Flightaware.com. I always feel like I’m going to die when I’m on a plane, and always half feel like my loved ones are going to die when they’re on a plane. Tracking them makes me feel safer. (Obviously, this picture was taken before the events of last week, wherein I realized tracking my boyfriend’s flight over Ohio was absurd in the light of the rest of the world)

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I don’t have any pets and my apartment is just not conducive to having them any time soon. So, I borrow them from my friends and neighbors. Steve’s roommate has Molly (strawberry blonde) and is fostering Rocket (adorable black haired, so named because he can jump like twice his height).

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Gah, see how Rocket points a little bit with his right foot?! Precious!

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Watching them go for walks together is also a hoot. Quite the odd couple. Oren straps their leashes to his belt in a nerdy look that deeply reminds me of my grandpa.

Yesterday Steve and I were going out to dinner and somehow it resulted in first deciding we were stopping at the library before dinner, then deciding we were taking the dog with us (hint: this was my decision. Steve’s roommate is out of town and poor little doglet is spending a fair amount of time in the crate between visits from doggie sitters. So his literal puppy eyes inspired me to take him out on the town). Then we decided (“we”) that we’d take Rocket for a walk after stopping at my place for my overdue library books. Then we decided (“we”. I’ll stop now. Assume it’s always me making dog-related demnads) that since we were walking by my friend’s apartment building, we should see if he was there with his dogs for a playdate. Then we all played together. Then we went to the dog park. Then I decided I wanted to be a dog. Then after the return from the dog park I fed Steve some emergency pizza slices to fortify him on the way to dinner. I love you Steve. Thanks for indulging in my animal neediness.

Went to a birthday dinner for Steve’s roommate. Not just to see the dogs… but they were there!

Grilled veggies and burgers. Chips and guac. All eaten al fresco.

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Lots of begging ensued.

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Can you even with Rocket’s little beard?!

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Tasty tasty! I love overcooked cauliflower!

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Then there was extremely decadent strawberry shortcake. I volunteered to help when I arrived at the boys’ place for the evening, and was put in charge of this. The cake has a cup and a half of heavy cream in it… just in the cake… not including the whipped stuff. Then the whipped stuff happened.

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So good!

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Some things about stuff.

I received an organic matcha powder sample from Kiss Me Organics (they sent me the sample for free but didn’t compensate me for a post).

It arrived and I admired its vibrancy while, I admit, being a little taken aback at the package’s size versus its price.

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However, then I looked at its perfect ingredient list:

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And then I gaped at the multitude of recipes contained in the complimentary cookbook that’s sent to your email when you make a purchase (I didn’t get this as a reviewer; it was sent automatically through Amazon when I made the purchase.)

Pan fried matcha chicken, anyone? Tuna burger with matcha ginger sauce? Green tea tiramisu? Quite exciting!

I ended up going with a boring but delicious choice. Vaguely inspired by this recipe, but altered based on my ingredients at home.

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Let the record state: when you combine spinach, soy milk, frozen mango, and matcha green tea powder in a blender; after drinking it you will feel as though you can conquer the world. Perfect pick me up! The match flavor is pure, not harsh and tannin-y at all. It’s grassy in the most delicious possible way.

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As for price point, it’s a lot. However, a teaspoon sized serving is more than enough to flavor an entire smoothie, so I’ve been using the stuff for months without making much of a dent in it. Plus, you’re getting organic, super-antioxidant-charged, concentrated doses of awesomeness. If you think of it as more of a supplement than a food, the price suddenly comes into perspective (seriously, can we think of any other organic supplements out there that don’t cost a gazillion dollars? Actually, if we can, tell me!)

The one thing I’d change is the packaging- every time you open the envelope, a little puff of the precious powder dissipates into the air! I don’t know the exact right solution to this problem, since the airtight seal is nice. But I’d encourage the Kiss Me Organics folks to get R+D on it :)

Speaking of crunchy purchases, I have become infatuated with many many Trader Joe’s cleaning and beauty products.

It started with the conditioner (right), which made my hair as smooth and silky as the stuff at the salon. And, it’s cheaper.

Then I bought the tea tree oil shampoo, since I am dandruff prone (yuck) and heard from my coworkers that tea tree oil shampoo deters lice (!!! I haven’t had lice since about second grade, just to firmly state that, but I do work with kids enough a little extra reassurance doesn’t hurt). It does indeed make my scalp tingle.

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The jury’s still a little out on this stuff. I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I hadn’t opted to do my only grocery shopping for the week at Trader Joe’s when I was out of toothpaste. I’m crunchy, but I’m also a fan of fluoride. I like the fennel in it, but it’s also weird not to end a toothbrushing session with that minty fresh feeling.

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Additional recommended crunchy products:

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I just bought the detergent (left) today, and used it to wash my delicate underthings on the gentle cycle. It smells like lavender HEAVEN.

I bought the deodorant (center) on the recommendation of my coworker, when I told her I liked apricot Toms of Maine (my old standby) but that I didn’t feel as confident about my level of pit moisture as I’d like. I picked the “Ocean” scent because it reminds me of Steve’s deodorant, the smell of which I looooooooooove (it’s just musk Speed Stick :D) So far so good!

And the all purpose cleaner I’ve used for a month or two. It does a nice job scrubbing through kitchen grime but isn’t quite hardcore enough for the bathroom. The scent is STRONG- I don’t mind it but it reminds me a bit of Vaporub. I don’t mind that scent in the slightest, but others may.

Now that I’ve given Trader Joe’s some love, I will candidly admit that I HATED this:

I bought it because they were out of guacamole hummus, which I learned upon my return trip they had discontinued. This is because Trader Joe’s discontinues everything I like. I personally. It’s hurtful.

Anyway, it tastes like rancid grossness. Do not buy. In Trader Joe’s’ defense, I brought it back and they gave me an immediate refund, and the lady behind the counter not only assured me that she didn’t like it either, she also offered me a palate cleansing taste of her Avocado’s Number guacamole. Customer service!

Work has been nuts lately and I’m finally done with camp (whoo!) but instrumental in getting me through camp has been this amazingness:

I binge watched seasons 1 and 2 last summer and I’m going at season 3 in a serious way this one. Much like last summer, I’m finding myself deeply distrustful of humanity after watching a lot of episodes of this show, and sort of convinced that people might be out to kill me. I think the B-613 stuff has gotten a little stupid and excessive this season but (SPOILER ALERT) down in my heart I cried like a little baby when James died.

Finally, a picture that Steve took of me last summer that I’ve had sitting around for awhile trying to figure out if it was worth writing a blog post about.

My first thought (this is brutal honesty here) when I saw it was, “Oh my gosh! You’re not fat!”

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So this led to a few thoughts, in no particular order.

1. Every picture that I ever see of myself I immediately label “You look fat” or “Oh my gosh, you don’t look fat!” It is terrible that this is my immediate, self-required assessment. It means that basically the only pictures of myself that I can enjoy looking at without making an obsessive value judgment are when I’m under the age of, say, 11.

2. As I’m sure many women can relate to, in any given day I feel as if my body can go through hundreds of incarnations. There are times I get so caught up in how awful I think I look on a given day (based, of course, mostly on how confident I feel in my job, my friendships, my relationship, etc. and not at all on how I actually look), that then when I actually find myself in front of a mirror I feel a little stunned and go, “Huh. You’re not horrifying looking. People are probably not obsessing over you as much as you think they are.” And of course they’re not. And I’m in a much better mental state than I once was. But still, I sometimes have to reassure myself that “I have the same build as x, so if people seem to be nice and not judging her they probably aren’t judging me either.” Yuck!

3. I feel guilt when I look at how I look in that picture. I go, “Seriously? How do you spend so much time feeling inadequate?! You have a healthy BMI and that picture clearly demonstrates that you have a nicely proportioned body. No cankles [a mean word only used about women but I’m baring my shallowest pieces of my soul here], no weirdly large thighs, no wimpy shoulders [thanks mom!]” Not only that, I’m extraordinarily lucky enough to be in basically perfect health. I’m not a Boston Marathon victim who has lost limbs. I get enough to eat, and have access to healthy food. How can I waste my time thinking about body stuff?!

4. I feel like I immediately have to take myself down a peg when I see that picture. “Yeah, but that was last summer, and you’ve totally gained weight over the past year. You haven’t been consistent about exercise at all. You’re such a sugar crackhead.”

5. Finally, I feel really sad that I can’t just look at the picture and think about a beautiful day by a beautiful waterfall with the person I love. I promise I’ve made progress, I promise my psyche is a prettier place than it’s been before. But, photos are clearly still fraught objects for me. Maybe someday?

celebration days

Spent the fourth of July in Virginia with my faaaaaaaaaaambly.

The neighborhood where my mom grew up (where my aunts still live) has a community-owned lot where they always celebrate the fourth. People get very into dressing up (note the apron!)

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There’s an epic potluck (we’ll talk about those dumplings in a minute)

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And the “local pyromaniac” (as my mother calls him) sets off huge amounts of illegal fireworks later in the evening. Discussion of pyromania led to reminiscing about all the places my mom’s brother has inadvertently set on fire (included are two entire yards and a dock. Apparently he’s inclined to put a bunch of fireworks directly next to each other and send a flame in their general direction).

We spent much of the night in my aunt and uncle’s gorgeous backyard, catching up.

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So Steve made dumplings- his delicious, decadent, time-consuming, effort-consuming, labor of love recipe.

Safeway didn’t have ground pork so he got ground lamb, and combined it with his usual veggies (he also made a shrimp version for my pescetarian aunt)

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Then, just to gild the lily a little more, he cooked some of the dumplings in bacon fat, left over from the morning’s breakfast. Mom dieu.

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We had a feast of that, along with all the usual fourth of July suspects (hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, etc.)

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My aunt made a fabulous watermelon-feta-basil salad that was the highlight of my plate. (Dena, I immediately went home and made this recipe, except with mint just for fun. It is amazing)

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For the dessert department, I rediscovered a recipe I’d made for Thanksgiving years ago- rustic apple galette from Health magazine, of all places.

Apple mixture:

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(tip from my best friend- if you have hard, dried-out brown sugar, microwave it for thirty seconds or so with a hunk of apple. I had a convenient apple core at the ready! Somehow the apple rehydrates it so it becomes soft and crumbly again)

The crust was a little finicky this time, but I can’t in good conscience blame the recipe since I had it pulled up on my iPhone (I love dropping that sentence, I’m so new to smart phones) and was running around the kitchen and helping with dumplings and playing with the cat and not at all attentive to all of the important steps of the recipe, like adding the liquid in tablespoon sized batches rather than just dumping it all in at the same time.

Anyway, after some coaxing it basically came together despite my abuse of it. I used a bit of oat flour (aka just ground up oats) because when I’m not home no one bothers buying whole wheat flour (ha!)

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In went the apples, to which I added a few extra spices including cardamom, coriander, and black papper

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Hot outta the oven:

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In filtered glory!

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Speaking of holidays, I never bothered to post about Easter. That would be a shame, as Sheila worked very hard to make it a special day for my mom and sister.

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Perhaps as atonement for all the shedding. Seriously, this was after one brushing session (I promise, my family vaccuums. It’s just hard to keep up with her.)

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Easter was wonderful as ever. We (my mom, sister, and I) hosted this year (there’s been an ongoing turf war over who hosts Easter- not contributed to by anyone who reads this blog- which is totally absurd) and everyone contributed so much as always. My aunt Kathy brought spanikopita and beets beets beets!

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Malindi made caramelized onion hummus, based on the stuff she’d buy regularly while studying abroad in England (it was AMAZING. I will say that I helped some in the onion process. My family is really impatient. Said my mother “Ugh, you always do it so much better than me. It’s because I try to do it so fast, right? How long should it really take? Ten whole minutes?” Said I: “Uh… more like thirty.”

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Dena and Louie brought gorgeous lilies.

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Fred brought another lamb (one of three… as usual my mom fretted there wasn’t enough) and grilled it, in a manly fashion. (Kathy supervised as the boys plated, as is appropriate).

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I made Moroccan carrot salad as I do every time we host Easter, because one it’s gorgeous, two it’s seasonal and reminds me of the Easter bunny, and three it’s wonderfully flavorful with hints of caraway seed and harissa and of course the fab kalamata olives and feta. You slice the carrots with a mandoline- and this year I managed not to hurt myself!- and cook them via pressure cooker or microwaving (what I did) which actually helps make some of the nutrients in the carrots more bioavailable. People had already made a dent by the time we took this picture. This is a recipe of which there are never, ever leftovers.

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Malindi made deviled eggs, which were fantastic. (Our Costco-sized paprika container made it a little difficult to dust them. I got to taste test one that got too much!) Malindi also demanded that we purchase labneh, which is amazing.

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The appetizer end of the table. There were also marinated mini mozzarella balls from Costco that kind of made your eyes roll back in your head when you ate them. Extremely low calorie, obviously. Taramosalata, too, and Malindi’s awesome hummus. We also got a lot of gluten-free dippers, since we had a few gluten-eschewers joining us, including my mom’s friend from Seattle’s daughter. My mom really enjoys collecting people who are far from home (which is a common thing in DC).

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My mom made Olive stuffed leg of lamb from Emeril which is SO FREAKING GOOD. It involves marinating in full fat yogurt and stuffing with olives and bread crumbs and pine nuts and other awesomeness. I am deeply hungry just looking at this.

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There were also roasted potatoes and orzo with tomatoes, both of which serve as delicious vehicles for lamb drippings. With yogurt on the side.

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Goodies kept appearing, brought by guests- a fun whipped cream and jello (? maybe?) and fruit thing; sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top (I am so enthralled by WASP Easter because I’ve always just celebrated Ethnic Easter!); Greek Easter bread.

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Some of what I ate :D

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I made super decadent and delicious gluten free chocolate cupcakes.

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Annnnd my aunt brought kalidopita, a walnutty spice cake; and my other aunt brought a delicious variety of cookies (she’s gluten free now too! There’s something in the water… or wheat, I guess.)

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Because we have lots of April birthdays in my family, there was also birthday cake! Opting for seasonality, I wanted to make a strawberry cake. A little digging around the Internets produced this Smitten Kitchen recipe for strawberry chiffon cake. I hadn’t given myself a proper cooking/baking challenge in awhile, so away I went. It helped that I had my grandma’s tube pan- not only was it a high quality material, it also made me feel like she was helping me along from the other side :)

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My sister took action shots of me assembling the cake in my grubby pre-Easter clothes.

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So beautiful! I let the berries soak for a decent length of time in sugar and lemon juice and they got all juicy and nice.

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Annnnd the completed project. Lovely way to celebrate my mom, and being with my family, and Easter, and spring.

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july in virginia

Exciting fact number one is that I got to spend a few days with the fam for the fourth of July (and belatedly celebrate my little sister’s 23rd (!) birthday)

Exciting fact number two is that I have finally joined the 21st century and gotten my first smart phone. Specifically, my LG flip phone that I’ve been rockin’ for some time, free from the constraints of a data package, quit reliably making and receiving phone calls. Which is a problem. Obviously. So I got an iPhone.

Exciting fact number three is that I got Hipstamatic, the app that’s allowed my artistic relatives to take awesome pictures that I’ve envied for some time.

So between one thing and another, I was finally able to have a constantly accessible, sharp and high quality, and glamorously filtered camera take pictures of the cat I’d missed so much. Lots of pictures.

(She loves sleeping under this little table)

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(Then she comes inside and demands to be brushed. When you finally stop brushing her, she starts rubbing her face against the brush and holding it in her paws. It’s the best)

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(She also likes it when I hide my head behind a wall and peek out at her, then hide it again. Cat peekaboo. She always comes running).

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(Then she rubs the wall with her gums to mark it since, like everything else in the house, it belongs to her).

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Now that I’ve fully demonstrated my Cat Lady tendencies, I’ll mention some of the fun times I spent with humans over the weekend.

My step-aunt and cousin are visiting from Taiwan, along with a family friend of theirs. I took them on my beloved W+OD trail for a quick jaunt and then to the Pure Pasty. I LOVE THAT PLACE!

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The Pure Pasty offers:

- Pasties encased in the most extraordinarily delicious crust. I once interrogated got some helpful information about how they’re made from the owner. Key is: King Arthur organic high protein bread flour, Spectrum organic palm oil shortening, and rolling the remnants from earlier batches in with the new ones to give them a slightly sourdough tang that I just LOSE MY MIND for.

- Pasties that contain grass fed and/or organic and/or local meat :)

- Anglophile decor and grocery selections. Get your Cadbury chocolates and interesting sauces fix here!

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- Last but not least, amazing vegetarian options. They rotate seasonally, and during this particular visit them had an amazing Indian-spiced filling

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Gobi aloo saag: cauliflower, potato, spinach, and lentils with a garam masala base. AMAZING. And so filling. I can rarely finish these.

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I was also saving room, because later in the evening was Malindi’s birthday dinner!

Her boyfriend is working for the Virginia Senate campaign right now (GO WARNER WHOOOOOO) and often works late, so we didn’t have a reservation until 7:30. And the reservation was for… The Melting Pot! Anyone who knows my sister knows how much she loves cheese, and could guess the extreme unhappiness and emotions she experienced as she waited for the minutes to tick by.

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Fortunately, we were all soon diving into this:

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The waiter convinced us to get the four course, insisting that it was the best value and also the most fun. And it was exceedingly fun- slow, leisurely, interactive.

My mom and I split the classic Gruyere fondue, above, and my sister and her boyf split the spinach and artichoke one, which tasted like the delicious dip of the same name.

For entrees, I felt like I’d already been decadent enough so I virtuously got the veggies. It was really pretty!

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Artichoke hearts (which I recently learned are powerhouses for getting the good kind of bacteria in your colon), baby bella mushrooms, asparagus, tofu, and ravioli.

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Plus gazillions of fun sauces for dipping for everyone to share. My favorite was the artichokes dipped in the creamy horseradish, mm.

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The tofu was also a surprise hit. It’d been pressed and given a soy marinade and when I dunked it in the hot veggie broth, it soaked up the moisture and got all chewy and nice.

For dessert, we all opted for the classic dark chocolate fondue.

It was delicious- particularly great with the bananas, strawberries, blondies, and graham cracker crumb coated marshmallows.

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Then for a relaxing evening activity, my sister and I used some of the bizarre face masks our family brought us from Asia. Steve had arrived after dinner, and was lucky enough to get to witness this extreme attractiveness.

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We spent the next day observing our nation’s birthday, which will be a separate, more food-heavy post.

My last day at home I hit up the farmer’s market with my mom, admiring the bounty of beautiful flowers

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Crepes!

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Pretty heirloom squashies! (The pickles were above them. This is called being inattentive to the frame of one’s picture).

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Then visited my dear friend Lauren, who I’ve known since first grade, who’s expecting her first baby next month!

Her dog uses her bump as a pillow. It is the CUTEST.

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Fun fact: Lauren had JUST found out she was pregnant when she came to my family’s annual Christmas party, and she and her husband were still keeping it under wraps. Then… she spent the party continuously eating pickles. Her husband mentioned that maybe she was not the best secret keeper :)

So excited to feel that my blogging mojo has returned. It’s so nice chronicling these life things!

beach spontaneity

Steve and I took a pretty darn spontaneous trip together! This is an accomplishment for me. To quote the brilliant Mitch and Cam analogy from Modern Family, it is often the case that he is the gas pedal and I am the breaks.

Except then the analogy breaks down, because Steve is really Phil from Modern Family. Like… gymnastics. Puns.

Anyway. Spontaneity. It means stopping for gas and then noticing the boiled peanuts stand at the gas station (oh, South <3)

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And buying treats! Gosh boiled peanuts are fun. And SALTY!

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Just a hop, skip ‘n a jump later and I was strolling along a sandbar.

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There was Spanish moss EVERWHERE once we strolled downtown. It is so pretty! It’s funny, I lived in Virginia for a long time and I’m only one state down, but there are surprising variations in the flora and fauna

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Here: Spanish moss (by the water), crepe myrtle, a tree my roommate said was called “pinks” (I think.. it’s actually red), bluebirds, three week lead time on spring and summer produce

There: crocuses (which I miss so badly when I’m here!)

We spent a lot of time just strolling around, which was great. When I’m at the beach, all I ever want to eat is seafood. This place looked cute.

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Steve’s beach rule is outdoor seating, so this place had everything our heart desired.

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I often feel disappointed in myself for not liking beer. Beer tasting and local breweries and different varietals… it’s all my kind of thing! I wish I just liked the taste of beer!

Anyway, Steve got this Red Oak. I had a taste and it was good… for beer.

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After drinks came important dinner implements!

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For this bucket of awesome right here!

It contained:

- Alaskan King crab
- local clams, steamed
- local oysters, steamed
- Shrimp
- Cocktail sauce
- Melted garlicky butter

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IT WAS SO GOOD! I think it was the first time in my life I’ve ever had king crab?! Other than the fake stuff in sushi, naturally :) I was amazed at how delicious it was!

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To round out the meal and attempt to get in some vegetables, I got a grilled Caesar salad. It was good, although there was so much seafood my appetite weakened and I ended up giving a LOT of this to Steve.

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That, despite the fact that when we opted to split a seafood platter… Steve also got a burger on the side.

Bless this kid’s appetite. (Okay, okay, I had some of those fries).

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After a post-dinner stroll along the water, admiring Pacey’s restaurant some of the sights (and petting some adorable dogs), our stomachs rallied for a shared Kilwin’s cone. This seems to’ve become our signature: a waffle cone (don’t usually bother paying for a waffle cone but when you’ve smelled Kilwin’s you have no choice but to get it) with one scoop of New Orleans pecan praline and one scoop of salted caramel.

OUTRAGEOUS!

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That evening, we spent the night at our first ever Air B and B! The people were really nice/normal, and had a cute cat, and had Netflix hooked up to the tv where we stayed so we could watch a few episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It was fun and convenient and cheap and NOT SKETCHY, MALINDI. (My sister loves sending me articles about people inadvertently renting out their houses for orgies on Air B and B)

The next day we went to Dixie Grill, everyone and their mama’s favorite place for brunch.

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I loved the bacon artwork, but it was very hard to photograph.

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Steve went for it and got shrimp and grits with an egg on top and a biscuit on the side. I had just a few tastes, because I was uncharacteristically restrained on the appetite front, but it was great.

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And I had a simple meal; scrambled eggs, grits (that were so, so good) and fruit.

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Then we had to go play in the sand a little more.

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Steve read on the beach. I tend to get really, really bored and need to wander around on the beach (but the wandering around is wonderful). Oh and also, prolonged intense sun exposure (like on the beach) often ends up with me having a headache and feeling sick to my stomach. Which is why I associate staying in beach houses with throwing up. (On the other hand, once I do I feel fine immediately. It’s like the sun gives me food poisoning?)

Speaking of being ill, I actually spent the entire weekend with rough seasonal allergies on top of a really sucky cold. At a certain point in the spring (my theory is that) my immune system just gets so overwhelmed with its overreacting to the pollen around me that it just goes berserk and I come out in rashes along the seams of my clothes. It’s disgusting.

My traveling pharmacy was absolutely absurd. 

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