Monday, January 30, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Good thing I woke up early today. I managed to get myself to the Saturday farmer's market behind the restaurant T'afia. There are three farmer's markets that I am aware of inside the Loop. I was attracted to this one because the website mentioned that they sell bread and chocolate and other prepared food. Today, the chocolate people weren't there today, but I did get a carmalized onion and nicoise olive flatbread, aka pissaldiere. The owner of Tafia also has a booth at the farmers market and had a large assortment of dressings, vinagrettes, and salads. I got something called Harissa, apparently a Tunisian spice rub in olive oil. It has a bunch of unidentifiable spices, but at least one of them is the same as the one you smell when you walk into a Chinese grocery. It's not spicy hot but definitely flavorful, and definitely something new to add to my vegetables.
There were lots of veggies at the market of course! Most were organic, a little more expensive than grocery store non-organic, but surely cheaper than Whole Foods. It's winter so there was a lot of cauliflower and broccoli and dark greens. I went shopping on Thursday, so I didn't need anything; the goal for today was just to check out a farmer's market for the first time. But I'd like to go regularly because it's been so aggravating not being able to buy good, FRESH produce at the grocery store. I'm picky about quality and frugal about price when it comes to produce. And I buy LOTs of produce. (I eat a big ass salad every day for lunch and a big ass portion of cooked vegetables for dinner, in addition to my JC food. When you realize how small portions of food actually are, you need to fill up on veggies. Non-starchy vegetables are a "free" food on the JC diet and you're allowed to eat as much as you want.) So, the solution is to buy food that is in season and probably grown locally. I'm not a stickler about buying organic, but it's preferable IF the price is right. And usually it is, if the item is in season. It's all about seasonality, isn't it? Tomatoes are $3 in the winter and $1 in the summer for a reason.
Next week I'll head over to the Houston Farmer's Market the Heights and maybe the Bayou City one the week after that. I'll let you know which is my favorite. If you have the chance to check out your local food people, I highly suggest it. It's fun and you get to talk to the people who make your food. And it's good for the earth and small farmers and you and etc etc. If you have the means, do it, because not everybody can.
Now I just need to buy me some canvas bags to complete my earthy crunchy granola head hippie transformation. LOL, whatever. But seriously, I need some canvas bags. Little things done by lots of people equals a big thing. But if I start wearing hemp and jesus shoes and yelling "Simplify, man!", somebody slap me.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
That's a lot of weight. That's like, um...a sack of rice from the oriental store and a bulk bag of M&M's from Sam's Club. OR imagine 124 sticks of butter stuck to me that have now melted away. Ew, greasy. Like some greased up deaf guy.
The first 20lbs seemed a lot easier. Then came the holidays. And the post- holidays when I wasn't motivated. So, these last 10 just seemed to draaaaaagggggg.
I'm very happy about this, but it's insane how much more I have to lose to get to a healthy BMI (130lbs +/- 10 for my 5'5 height). INSANE.
Crazy thing is though, even if I was 150lbs and wearing a size medium and looking super hot, I'd still be overweight. CRAZY. So even if you appear fit and "normal" sized, especially to Americans, you can actually be overweight! Again, CRAZY!!!
Speaking of greasy flesh, I'm reminded of the numerous times I'd be at HFStival crushed up against some sweaty, shirtless, stranger-dude in a crowd. They were always so slippery. God, that makes me want to vomit a little. Hey, that's a good way to lose weight, right?
Sunday, January 22, 2006
I can't wait to meet her in person, but I think I'll wait until mid-March. Using my birthday as an excuse to take a longer bit of time off seems like good idea and a plane ticket is a good birthday present from my parents. AND my best friend Grace and her family will also happen to be in Las Vegas around that time, so maybe we could meet up. Plus, by then Alexis will probably be a little more interesting. I think the high point of the day with her right now is the fact that she opens her eyes. Either way, she's the epitome of cute, that girl.
Until then I'll just beg for more photos.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Alexis was born at about 6pm Las Vegas time weighing 4lbs 8oz. See Rachels' blog for details, if you haven't been reading it already. If you haven't, shame on you for not keeping up with the Fraynas. lol.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Two weeks ago I bought a Dolfin Hot Masala bar from Central Market. Masala is an indian term for spices. Could be anything I guess, depending on who the cook is. In this case, the chocolate was flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, clove, and ginger. It was REALLY good. My friend said it tasted like christmas. I say that about chai tea lattes. A little weird since they don't even celebrate Christmas in India. This week I tried a variety pack of oddly flavored Dolfin chocolates including lemon rind, orange rind, earl gray tea, anise, cumin, cafe au lait, ginger, and cinnamon. Most of them were dark chocolate and that was kind of a bummer. Cumin was gross. Cinnamon and cafe au lait (both in milk chocolate) were great. The rest were not surprising and I didn't really like because they were either in dark chocolate or a flavor I just don't care for.
So now I'm in this "weird" chocolate kick. While I was at home for break and watching Food Network, Vosges in Las Vegas was featured on the show Sugar Rush (hosted by the baker of Washington, DC's Cake Love). I sent a small box of truffles to Grace for her birthday and I can't wait to here about how they tasted. The flavors include normal things like cherry, caramel, macadamia nut, coconut, and praline, but they also include exotic flavors like peppercorns, anise, violet, paprika, wasabi, and curry. I told my coworker about these strange truffles and she ordered a box and will generously share them with me. They are a bit pricey (probably similar to Godiva), but I'm sure they're definitely an experience. When I go to Las Vegas to visit my brother and his not-quite-yet born baby, I'd like to stop by the Vosges boutique in the Forum Shops.
Anyway, hope you get to try something new today.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Anyway, check out http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/ to catch up on some good video clips, especially "Lazy Sunday" aka the Chronic (what?!) -cles of Narnia. Oh, and don't pass up the Anderson Cooper 360 coverage of celebrities helping Katrina victims. I actually did see those two on t.v. But, the Jason Lee one on caulk is good too, because man, DO I love caulk.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Unlucky me, because I'm doing it because I have to work tomorrow and vacation-mode is truely over.
I wanted to mention that I took those Cedarville pics with my new Razr phone ($299 but only $99 when you take off $100 for my New Every Two deal and the $100 mail-in rebate). It's just too cool for me. The best part is my Bluetooth headset, a Jabra BT350. Although I wish I had a little case for it because I have already gotten it scratched up and a cover would be good because the blinking blue light is pretty freakin irritating. I have Vcast free for 30 days but there really isn't anything terribly great and for the love of god, I can live without TV clips on my phone. But, I'm almost glad Verizon only had a boring gray version because if it were black or pink, it would just be too utterly cool for me. I do prefer shiny silver over matte gray though. The camera is pretty good. It's got a zoom, unlike the LGVX6000 that is now Edward's. I'm the only one in my family who has phone insurance, and yet nothing ever happens to my phones. So, I always end up giving my old phones to someone who has lost or broken theirs.
Here are some more pics from my new phone that I took while at home, for the hell of it.
Here is Kane. He is sitting at the top of the stairs where it was 20degrees warmer than at the bottom of the stairs. I could be exaggerating, but not by much.
This is Butters under the Christmas tree. She spent half of her time here and the other half on one of the rosewood chairs near the window. She spent 23.5 hours a day asleep.
Here's Guboy being eaten by the sink monster. It's blurry because there was a lot of commotion with the sink monster, you know. No, really he was just trying to replace the faucet in the master bathroom. What I wish I had gotten a picture of was Goo running down the hall with his arms waving wildly in the air yelling to Pa in the basement, "Turn off the water! Turn off the water!" when the faucet flew off and water was shooting straight up and soaking the ceiling and the entire tiny bathroom. LOLOL.
After gorging on puto, bulgogi sauced meatballs, and pigs-in-a blanket that reminded us of the little baby Jesus (especially when you give them little mustard smiley faces), and staying up late to watch a nearly unintelligible Dick Clark, I decided to start the new year right with some physical activity. New Year’s Day in the DC area was beautiful. Cool and crisp and a perfect day for a walk.
I went with my younger brother, Guboy, and he decided on the trails based on where he and Pa went mountain biking last summer. They took up biking on a whim and have really loved it. Mom was at first afraid the bikes would sit in the utility room all summer, but ended up chiding Goo for spending too much time and money on his bike. I am really looking forward to getting a bike and joining them, even if I haven’t ridden since I was 11.
First, Goo and I went to Tucker Road where they have a fitness trail that he’s always wanted to try, but has always past it by while on his bike. It would have been silly to ride 10ft and stop to do chin-ups or something. From this activity, we learned that we can’t do chin-ups or balance on a balance beam very well. Did I mention we’re out of shape? That’s ok though, I have NEVER EVER been able to do chin-ups. Since we kinda suck at fitness trail and the trail is actually kind of short we didn’t spend much time there. Actually, I think it took longer to get to Tucker Rd because we couldn’t remember its exact location, despite having gone past it to go to St. Columba for Christmas Mass (which we had to go to because St. John’s didn’t have the usual schedule on Christmas Day and we didn’t realize that until we sat in the church alone for about 10mins! Honestly, churches really shouldn’t change their schedules on holidays for the sake of their occasional participants!)
Anyway, we moved on to our next trail, Cedarville State Forest in Charles County. We were much more successful there. We parked the car and put our $3 in the little box at the entrance for our parking pass and headed off on the Orange trail. The Orange trail is 7 miles long and the only one directly connected to the parking lot. I wondered if there were shorter trails but apparently all other trails branch off of it. So I figured a level, brisk walk is about 4miles/hr and I could walk for 2 hours, no problem.
And wouldn’t you know it, it wasn’t a problem. No sweat, literally, because the high temp was about 50degF. The sky was clear and the ground was soft beneath our feet and made a nice, soft thump "like a bass drum" (can you tell I was with a drummer?) with every step. We only really had to take one break about 4 miles into it and the occasional slight inclines increased our heartrates noticeably (I did mention we’re out shape), but I loved every minute of it.
We realized that if you’re going to take a long walk with someone, you better like him. Unlike while biking or running where you’re going too fast or out of breath, or just out of pace with your buddy, during a walk you’ve got to be able to talk about nothing and everything and you’ve got to be just as comfortable with the silences. And I was lucky enough to be with my younger brother. We make each other laugh and don’t have to explain dumb jokes or obscure references, which you might have to do with someone you haven’t known for the past 20 years.
Along the trail Goo pointed out stumps to be aware of while biking and the place where he had his most dramatic accident. One day he was going too fast down a hill where the path is covered in gravel. Someone didn’t think that one through because you cannot break on gravel. So Goo ended up veering off the path and hitting a stump or something that made his bike stop. He didn’t. He kept going, flying over the handlebars and continuing to fall down the hill with his arms to his side as if he were being shot out of a cannon. Goo finally stopped at the bottom of the hill when his FACE hit a log. The boy has done some backyard boxing and he said it was worse than any punch in the face he’s ever gotten. But he got up ok and soon Pa came along on the trail with the first aid kit. Guboy had to ride the rest of the trail, passing other cyclist and hikers, with a huge gauze on his face. When they got home, Mom was really worried, considering the big bandage on his face, until of course, she took it off. She told me it was just a scratch. LOL. But hey, a small scratch inflicted by a moldy log at high velocity is a BIG deal.
For the record, Goo likes to ride fast and has fewer, but more dramatic falls off the bike. Pa goes slower, but has more frequent small falls. Except probably that time he fell into Cosca lake. LOL and Ewww.
So anyway, after a little more than 2 hours, at about 4:15 pm as the sun was lowering in the sky, Guboy and I completed our 7mile walk (not hike for we were wearing sneakers, not boots!). I have never walked that far for the purpose of just walking. Seven miles = 11.2 kilometers = about 14,000 steps! My feet didn’t even hurt (though my legs did get sore the next day, but I knew I didn’t stretch enough afterwards)! We were very pleased with ourselves.
Looking back at the past few New Year’s days, I am much more pleased with myself this time around. I’ve definitely made some changes for the better, and some have said I’ve changed back to who I really am. Either way, I think it’s going to be a really good year.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Who knew there was fine dining to be had in lil' ol' LaPLATA? The Crossing is adjacent to the proprieters' neighborhood bar, Casey Jones, in the cute, courthouse-area of LaPlata. The restaurant is decorated in the Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts style. My favorites were the Mucha-like paintings on the walls.
Reservations are recommended, but weren't necessary especially since it was a Wednesday night (but of course I stressed out about that). Despite the fact that this place is on the pricey side (but TOTALLY reasonable considering the quality), you don't feel like you HAVE to dress really nice. Across the aisle from us were a trio of nurses still in uniform and the couple behind Grace were in t-shirts. It IS LaPlata, afterall. The kitchen is open, so you can see a little bit of what is going on, but you really don't hear them. It was kind of funny how calm things were around us, because we were super excited about the food.
Well, first came the bread. It was kind of refrigerator-cold. Kind of a bummer. But the slices were a little sweet and had bits of dried fruit, maybe raisins or currants, in them. Tasty, but could have been twenty times better if warm. Didn't stop us from getting two servings, lol.
Our first plate, which we shared, was the appetizer special of the day: scallops and polenta. It was DIVINE. I didn't get a picture on my phone, but just picture BIG unadulterated, dry scallops that were so intensely scallop-y, surrounded by a smattering of wild mushrooms, all nestled atop the creamiest,butteriest, most decadent, polenta we have EVER tasted. I could honestly eat that all day long.
Next came the entrees. I had trouble picking one, but I chose this (sorry about the poor camera phone quality):
Here's a pic from their website. Much more appetizing picture.
Chilean sea bass with lobster mashed potatoes and spinach. The long fried thingies tasted like plantain or taro, but later found out were actually something called salsify , aka oyster plant. I think it was clever to use it in this to add another layer of seafood flavor, even if I didn't detect the oysterness. The fish was very nice and delicate and just done with a nice crispy sear on both sides. The concept of lobster mashed potatoes was decadent, but I was a little disappointed because the potatoes were slightly watery and weren't BURSTING with lobster flavor despite the fact that there were plenty of lobster chunks. (I was coming down with a cold though, so I could be wrong. I'll just have to go back and taste it again ;). My dish was certainly delicious and had a very south american feel, but I wasn't wowed. Probably a great summer dish though.
Grace's entree on the other hand was like sex on a plate. The combination of the flavors and textures were Oh.My.God. good.
It was the espresso-crusted duck breast with cinnamon seared foie gras on top of grilled polenta with a blackberry coulis. (Oh yeah, and that is foam. I couldn't believe it. I thought only super trendy fancy restaurants made things with foam. Apparently, the foam was buttery.) Anyway, I had had foie gras before on the cruise Grace and I had taken to the western carribean, but this was 10x more divine. If you've never had it before it's like silken fat with absolutely no livery taste. Grace was very pleased with the duck, after having been often disappointed in past experiences. The combination of the smoky espresso duck and rich foie gras and sweet blackberry coulis was bang-your-fist-on-the-table fantastic.
By then we were pretty full and grinning like cheshire cats. But of course, we HAD to have dessert. Our own desserts, no sharing. LOL. Grace had pre-ordered, at the beginning of the meal, a berry cobbler topped with two scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream. It was warm and homey and simple in a way, but also had a lot of flavor and spices that made it complex in another way. It was good. I had the vanilla creme brulee (both desserts were big enough for two people really, but we're gluttons!). The sugar layer was nice and thick and reminded me of linoleum, so it did give that nice satisfying crack when my the tip of my spoon made first contact. The pudding itself was a tish bit too refrigerator cold, but it was still really yummy and I tried to scrape every speck of vanilla off the bottom of the dish.
All in all, dinner was fabulous. Good food with great company after a day of excellent shopping. It doesn't get much better. And I just LOVE LOVE LOVE that there is a great little independent restaurant with beautiful food that is near home in the neglected side of the city.
If any of you are back in MD while I am, let's have dinner. I'd LOVE to go back to the Crossing. (Oh, and by the way, they hold tea once a month. How many of my favorite things can be put together in one place???!?!?!)