Tuesday, October 30, 2012

an unexpected vacation

Andy mentioned to me a while ago that he had an extra week of vacation to take before the end of the year. Since we were in Hawaii for ten days in June, already have a vacay planned for late November (more on that later) and I knew Andy was going to use his personal days around Christmas, I was completely surprised. It turns out he didn't use a week last year, so, HELLO unexpected vacation! We picked last week for him to take off and figured we'd have ourselves a quiet little staycation.

What really ended up happening was an overnight in Harrisonburg last Sunday/Monday, a few days at home and then a trip to Baltimore on Friday and Saturday with my mom and dad. On Friday we took a water taxi from the Inner Harbor to Fell's Point, where we had hauntingly delicious crab cakes at Duda's Tavern and rich gelato at Pitango. Then we took a short nap and picked up some coffee to get our energy up for the big thrill of the trip — the Baltimore Aquarium, of course! The aquarium is offering a special where you only pay $12 for admission if you go between 5 and 9:30 p.m. (Daytime tickets are $30 a pop!) I turn into such a little kid at aquariums. "Dad, look at this!" "Whoa, did you see that Mom?" "Andy! Andy! Andy!"


As dazzling as the aquarium was, the real star of the day was our dinner at Della Notte in Little Italy. We ordered scallops for the table while I agonized over the menu before ultimately deciding on the Chilean sea bass. (My parents and Andy got the veal.) I wanted a pasta dish but they all sounded too rich for my sensitive stomach. The fish was fantastic and I ended up having enough room to try the desserts we ordered to share —tiramisu, cannoli and créme brulee. Oh my gawsh it was all so delicious. I definitely recommend it for a romantic or celebratory dinner.

Even though I originally wanted to head to Hampden on Saturday and shop along 36th Street, I decided a relaxing morning trumped being tempted to spend money in overpriced boutiques. Andy was very happy with this decision! We drove over to Harbor East to see "Argo" and had pizza in Little Italy before heading home. ("Argo" was fantastic by the way and is the perfect movie to see with mom and pop.)

Inner Harbor
more Inner Harbor
Baltimore Aquarium
Fell's Point

spooky store front

in Fell's Point, right after gelato

on the water taxi

Sunday, October 28, 2012

look for less: cozy cardigan

All this talk of heavy rains and strong winds is making me grateful that I spent a lot of time outdoors this past week. I even wore shorts on Friday! I started going through my winter clothes bin the other day as a step towards a closet makeover and I was surprised by how many sweaters I already own. Most of my mine are thin or are 3/4 length because I get hot easily, but I love the look of chunky sweaters. I'm really loving this one from Target. From the picture it looks like it might be the perfect thickness for me - warm but not stifling!
cozy cardigan
view items and prices here
total outfit: $105
(the black top is $8, not $6)

bonus look! everything from both of these outfits is from Target.
cozy cardigan 2
view items and prices here
total outfit: $98

Sweater Weather
by Lisa Shields

I was chilly with the November breeze,
and it was a courtly thing you did
draping the sweater over my shoulders,
taking care to smooth the wool
with a touch that whispered
that later you would claim the garment,
and the shiver taking it would bring
was something you coveted
with breathless avarice.

“Sweater weather,” you said.
And I am swept like a crisp oak leaf
into a duvet and down dream,
where the pillows do not speak
of the warm, the moments large and small
when I nestle near you,
demanding that arms dress me
to close kept comfort.

Arms around my waist,
legs entwined to akimbo,
and my last thought before sweet drowse
is that fall will never come
without you to chase the cold
in the season of sweater weather.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

little cries

Do you ever have a little cry? Why am I even asking? I know you do. I was having one earlier (see the second to last reason for why.)

Sometimes I shed tears when I see a commercial involving dogs and people growing old together.
When I feel misunderstood.
When someone is in pain and I don't know how to help.
When I'm mad at someone and I'm half clinging to the anger and half aching to let it go.
When I'm overwhelmed with love for someone.
When I watch a really fantastic live performance.
When I feel foolish.
When I have a nightmare.
When the sky looks pretty. (So I pretty much shed a grateful tear every day.)
When I pray.
When I'm happy.
When there's a sappy moment in a tv show or movie.
When I get a hug at just the right time.
When I'm reminiscing.
When I feel lucky to be somewhere.
When I recognize I'm being unloving or I'm having road rage or I'm in a funk and I wonder what's wrong with me?
When I think things are going to go a certain way and they don't.
When I think about my grandparents and how they aren't here anymore.
When there is no good reason to cry but it happens anyway.
When I can't stop laughing. (That cat video cracks me up. While watching it I thought, "it's like watching a guy comfort a girl!")

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

reading list

I finished our book club book (Little Princes by Conor Greenan) and now I'm about a hundred pages in book 5 of the Harry Potter series. I bought a bunch of books at Goodwill recently and can't wait to get started on them, but that hasn't stopped me from eyeballing some titles I've been hearing of. Have you read any of these?

I'm hosting our first book club discussion and I toyed with the idea of making some Nepalese dishes to share, but I quickly dismissed that as being too much work and settled on pies and coffee. Any ideas for future book club books?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Laura’s chilly day corn chowder

It's soup season! We both love soup and even though we eat chili year-round, I tend to save the majority of my soup making for fall and winter. Every year Andy requests a big pot of clam chowder for his birthday, but we gobbled it up so fast last week that he didn't get to have any on his actual birthday (this past Saturday). Solution: more soup! We settled on corn chowder and I searched the web for a recipe that had great reviews and simple directions so I could whip it up while also getting the house ready for our weekend guests. I ultimately decided to merge several different recipes into one based on what I thought sounded yummy. I love one pot meals, especially ones that feed lots of people!

a somewhat similar chowder from BH&G

Laura's chilly day corn chowder
serves 8 generously
prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 45 minutes

6 strips of bacon
1 leek
3-4 green onions
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 red pepper
1 bay leaf
24 oz chicken broth
2 pounds small white potatoes
2 cups half and half
4 cups frozen corn
1 can creamed corn
salt and pepper

1. Dice the bacon and cook it in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. While bacon cooks, finely chop the leek, green onions, yellow onion and red pepper. When chopping the green onions, separate the white bulb parts from the green parts. Keep an eye on the bacon and stir occasionally. Once cooked, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, spread out over a paper towel and set aside. Remove all but one tablespoon of oil from the pot.
2. Cook leeks, green onions, onions and peppers in the bacon fat over low heat until tender, stirring often (about ten minutes). While veggies are cooking, cut the potatoes into one-inch chunks. Peel if desired (I didn't).
3. Add chicken broth, bay leaf, potatoes and several pinches of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
4. Add frozen and creamed corn, the half and half and the cooked bacon bits (save some for topping the soup if you want). Continue to cook on low heat for about ten minutes.
5. Remove bay leaf and add more salt and pepper to taste.
6. Use an immersion blender to thicken the soup OR separate half of the soup into a stand blender, blend until smooth and add back into soup. The result should be a thick soup that still has some potato chunks in it.
7. Spoon soup into bowls and top with the green onions and any remaining bacon bits. Cheese and sour cream could also be added.


Friday, October 5, 2012

I shall be Autumn this Halloween

Autumn Offering by Judith A. Lawrence
I shall be Autumn
this Halloween,
with leaf draped skirt,
and folds of
boysenberry velvet wine
flowing to the ground.

Brown stained face,
eyes rimmed in gold,
nails dripping sunset,
a crown of twigs
to cover my head.

You may gather from me
the spring of my youth,
my summer of maturity,
and hold onto with me,
the solace of these days
of remembering
before the frost.

pic from here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

packing and souvenirs

I think packing has become a bit of an obsession for me. I was determined to pack light for my three-day trip to Boston and only carried a small backpack and a purse. I didn't want to lug around a suitcase around since I was going straight to my friend's workplace after landing, and I'm so glad I packed how I did! It helped that Becca and I wear the same size shoes, pants and shirts - I ended up borrowing her thick socks, North Face jacket and umbrella. Thanks Becca!

I wore purple cords with a tank and a chambray shirt on the flight there, so that already gave me three items to work with the rest of the weekend. I had no idea how to pack because it's been a while since I had felt 60 degree weather! I get hot very easily, so I didn't pack anything too heavy. I also figured I could borrow a jacket from Becca instead of trying to cram one in my bag (it wouldn't have fit). I packed one pair of jeans, one long-sleeved sweater, two short-sleeved shirt, one 3/4 length tee and one 3/4 sweater, a sleep shirt and sleep shorts. (I didn't wear three of the shirts I brought.) I didn't pack any shoes - I just wore the same pair the whole weekend. What else... two books, a makeup bag, a bag of liquids, hairbrush, earplugs, advil, earrings, a bracelet, my glasses and a phone charger. Oh, and I packed a small black purse to carry around town.

What I wore:
Friday- gray tank, chambray shirt, purple cords
Saturday day- 3/4 length sweater, jeans
Saturday night- black 3/4 length top, purple cords
Sunday morning- pajamas!
Sunday afternoon- new long-sleeved sweater, jeans
Monday- black 3/4 length top, chambray shirt, jeans

Of course, a few things happened to come home with me... (lobster tail pastries not pictured b/c we already devoured them)
like these adorable tiny brass ducks
(I got my ducks in a row!)
my favorite purchase - lobster PJ pants!
a souvenir from Rockport to hang on our Christmas tree
this irresistible lil whale from Gloucester 
this $10 consignment shop find (still had the tags on)
a fox-y sweater from F21
Is it weird that I'm looking forward to packing for Uganda?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Boston round 2

I flew to Boston last September to see Becca and had such a great time that I vowed to visit again the next year. The weather was completely different this time around (cold and rainy, boo) but it was nevertheless a wonderful weekend. I got to the city midday on Friday and took the T to the lab where Becca works. She is doing research on mice - eek! We met up with some of her friends for dinner at Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown and for the first time in my life I used chopsticks for an entire meal. After dinner we saw First Aid Kit at the Royale and I whipped my hair along with Klara and Johanna (check out the hair at 1:35). Great jams. Great hair.

Saturday we brunched at Sound Bites and rented a car to drive up Cape Ann. We spent most of our time in Rockport but also visited Gloucester and Manchester-by-the-Sea. The movie "The Proposal" was filmed in Rockport and the house in the movie is in Manchester. The only pics we took were in Rockport because the weather was yucky, but I'm glad we at least got these! 

look what New England did to my hair!

fall in Cape Ann!

Saturday night we took the car into downtown Boston. It was so fun to drive around and see the city lit up at night. We had dinner at the Beehive (yes, we ate at Sound Bites and the Beehive last year... definitely worth going back to). The Moroccan cigars had haunted me all year long, so of course we ordered those, and then for dinner we split blackened scallops that melted in our mouths. Afterwards we met some of Becca's friend at Saloon, a modern-day speakeasy in Davis Square.

Like last time, Sunday was our lazy day. We didn't leave the house until the afternoon and had lunch at Parish Cafe before hitting up a few shops. Then we picked up lobster bisque at Boston Chowda in Quincy Market along with lobster tail pastries and tiramisu at Modern Pastry. Oh you KNOW I ate my way through Boston! We took our goodies home and ate them on the couch while watching a movie (look at Jon Hamm in Ira and Abby!)

One of the extra bonuses to flying to Boston is the incredible aerial view of Manhattan that you get if the skies are clear. And, if you fly JetBlue, you get Dunkin Donuts coffee on the plane. It's the little things, right? :)