Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Last time I blogged about making cookies and forgetting the key ingredient of baking powder until the very last minute. Surprisingly, they came out pretty good. Baking a pumpkin pie today, I realized as I was pouring the batter into the pie crust that I forgot to add salt. Luckily I was also able to incorporate that in at the last minute, but we'll see how it tastes.

Here's the recipe that I used for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I got it off of the back of the Safeway brand Quick Oats. I cut it in half.

2 sticks of butter (.5 lb)
1.5 cups brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Quick Oats
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
.5 tsp ground nutmeg
.5 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts

Place racks in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 1minute.Add eggs and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix on low speed until blended. Add chocolate chips, raisins or nuts, and blend on medium speed until incorporated. Drop batter by tablespoons 1.5 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cookies will feel soft but will firm up as they cool. Let stand on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to racks to cool. Makes about 45 cookies. Recipe developed by cookbook author Marlene Sorosky Gray.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I should really just stick with plain ol' cooking

Its no secret that I like to cook. I enjoy reading recipes, and I enjoy following a recipe to make a really delicious meal. However, I've come to the sad conclusion that I should not be baking, specifically cookies. Oh, sure, I can throw a brownie mix together, or even use the Cake Mix Doctor to pretty up a vanilla cake. But cookies, well let's just say that they require a level of sophisticated recipe reading that apparently I can't master. I keep forgetting to add something rather important, usually baking powder. As a result, my cookies end up to be a chewy, gooey, slightly undercooked, yet delicious mess. Of course they're delicious--they're pretty much sugar and butter (definitely the way to a Matt's heart). But they look awful, and I'm usually too ashamed to share them with the people I was planning to share them with.

For those of you who may not cook or bake, baking requires a certain amount of precision that cooking doesn't necessarily need. With cooking, you can be all like, you know what this needs more of? Garlic! And chop up a bit more garlic, and throw some salt in there, and maybe even if you're crazy about garlic and salt like I am, add some garlic salt. But with baking, if its says 1 tsp of salt, then you really better follow the directions, and not add more or less, because let me tell you, you will know.

Tonight I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and what did I realize that I forgot to add to mix as I was putting it on a cookie sheet? Baking powder, of course. I quickly added all my cookie balls make to the bowl, threw some baking powder in there, and just prayed that it wouldn't turn out too terrible. Actually, they really didn't. I mean, they're a little undercooked on the inside, but nothing too bad. Its not like anybody but Matt and myself are planning on eating a dozen and half cookies. Oops, I mean, 16 cookies. Yeah. 16.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


My supervisor got fired today. Oy vey.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Marscapone stuffed dates

Saw some fresh dates in the store last week and decided to try this recipe for Thanksgiving. Its adapted from the dish at Komi, where that super hot chef Johnny Monis works.

Marscapone stuffed dates

8 fresh dates
1/4 cup marscapone (actually that will probably be too much)
1/4 cup Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Place the marscapone in a small baggie, and cut a small hole in the tip, or using a pastry bag. Using a small paring knife, gently push the pit out of the date. Place the tip of the baggie into the remaining hole and squeeze the cheese into the date. Pour the olive oil over the finished dates. Season with sea salt. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Pure heaven! Oh, and I just realized that Johnny is making the dates in the picture on the Komi website.

500 Mammograms

The Breast Cancer Site is looking for clicks! They are 65 percent towards reaching their goal of funding 500 mammograms for the month of November. If they reach that goal, they will donate an ultrasound machine to a hospital in South Africa. Click daily:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

I've decided to start making a few things early this year for Thanksgiving. It looks like there will only be four of us, and one person is a vegetarian, so there will be lots of meat. I'm thinking of the following menu.

Vermont Cheddar (already purchased)
Marscapone-stuffed dates
Candied spiced pecans (will make either Monday or Tuesday night)

Main Course
Turkey (have to defrost)
Mashed potatoes, using cream cheese and sour cream
Stuffing (have to make a veggie option of that too)
Roasted veggies (veggie friend bringing)
Cranberry sauce (already made!)
Homemade wheat rolls (yes, I'm crazy, as I've never made bread before, at least not by hand. I'll probably start the dough on Tuesday)


Pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream

Don't you wish you were at my house for Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wandering Women (and Matt)

Tonight, I hosted my first ever author talk with Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and I'm pleased to say that it was a success! I contacted her in the spring after I read her book Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing and Cuba. Actually, I have to say that I was surprised that she wrote back to my little fan letter. But it turns out that she was promoting her latest book, "100 Places Every Women Should Go," and agreed to come give a workshop called "Traveling Sola: Tips for Wandering Women."

We had 34 women attend the talk, plus Matt. It was kind of funny because he was the only guy in the room, and some women (and the author) kind of gave him a funny look when he came in, but nobody seemed to mind, and I think he enjoyed it too. He was especially useful when it came time to clean up, too.

Stephanie is a very outgoing speaker, and I would encourage anyone to go see her if she shows up in your town. You can check out her tour schedule at her website

Also, speaking of wandering women and Matt, check out my trip journal from my latest trip! We just came back from New Hampshire and Vermont. I've got lots of great pictures too, so just email me if you want to see them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

From Zero to Hero

Its been six months since we bought our Wii, and let me tell you, it has been the most awesomest six months ever. We have been spreading the Wii gospel to anyone that will listen, and have convinced a few people to go out and buy a Wii for themselves. In fact, I think Nintendo probably owes us some money for that.

We are such dorks that back in August, we pre-ordered Guitar Hero III for the Wii, and after church yesterday, we drove over to Best Buy to go pick it up. Despite the usual drama that accompanies a Best Buy trip, we got the Wii home and set it up.

The cool thing about Guitar Hero is that you get to play a "guitar" with buttons instead of strings. You have to hit the "notes" in the sequence they appear on the screen. The notes get more complicated as it goes on and on. And that's pretty much about it. Its really addicting, especially for certain people in the house who played for 3 and a half hours yesterday before I told him that we had to eat dinner. For the Wii, they've incorporated the wireless remote into the guitar, so there's no strings, and you get cool effects like sound coming from the guitar and not just the TV, and vibration when necessary.

I'm not terribly good at the game, but its really fun nonetheless. Unfortunately, I'm going out of town this weekend, so I'm concerned that somebody in the house is going to take advantage of that to beat the game, thus leaving me in the dust.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The best piece of bass in three counties

When I think about how much I was disgusted by the idea of sushi when I was a kid, I have to wonder why. Sushi is really awesome! My first foray into sushi was in Berkeley with a woman whose mother is from Japan. She knew exactly where to go and what to order. I probably stuck with rolls for the first few times, but it wasn't long before I was eating nigiri (the raw fish). I've never had sushi as good as I've had in Berkeley. It was so fresh and tasty.

Here in DC, there are lots of sushi restaurants as well. There are some really good ones, but lots and lots of really bad ones. Not that the fish itself has gone bad...just lower quality, I guess. I had some sushi the other day, and all of the fish tasted the same. But it was cheap, and that's why we were there.

Today I stumbled upon this online chat in the Washingtonian magazine that gives the ins-and-out of sushi eating, and more importantly, how to get the best pieces of fish from your sushi chef, especially when sitting at the bar. Some of the stuff I knew, some I didn't. For example, did you know that you're not supposed to use chopsticks with nigiri, or rub wood chopsticks together? Also, good chefs find it insulting when you cover your sushi with soy sauce or wasabi because the fish is already supposed to be perfectly seasoned.

I'm also not a big believer in making sushi at home because I think it would be very difficult to find sushi-quality fish at the market, but this chat does talk about ways to make sushi at home.

I guess one of the benefits of eating sushi is that its really low-fat, and great if you're on a diet. Of course, that's assuming you stick with fish, and don't get those really expensive rolls with cream cheese in them.

Hmm, all this talk about sushi is making me hungry for some, but unfortunately the only place around here is one of those carousel sushi places. Some other time, I guess.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

college students today are a bunch of whiny little bitches

One downside of living so close to my college is that I still feel the need to check up on what those crazy kids are up to every now and then, despite the fact that I graduated eight years ago. There are often articles in the Washington Post about American University, and I, of course, feel compelled to read them. For example, this article about a newly renovated dorm that features double beds appeared last month in the paper. My friends and I just shook our heads and lamented how entitled kids today are.

However, my recent foray into Facebook has lead me to become more knowledgeable about the present-day AU, and through Facebook, I learned that students now have fall break, which is basically one day off in the middle of the semester. I'm thinking to myself, "Fall break? WE never had a fall break." We would just sludge our way through the semester, with a holiday for Labor Day and a few days off for Thanksgiving. We always had at least three to four weeks off for the Christmas holidays. Researching the evolution of fall break, I find out that it was instituted as a two-day break in 2000, and later scaled back to one day in 2005.

An opinion piece published in 2005 in the Eagle, the student-run newspaper, argues against scaling back fall break by saying:

"Removing rest days for AU students will create dangerous consequences. AU students are special and different from other U.S. college students. At any time, approximately 1,000 AU students work internships, much higher than national percentages. Compiled with part time jobs, studying and extracurricular activities, AU students find themselves working 50 - 60 hours a week to remain successful. Fall Break and study days serve as means for students to recuperate from their busy schedules, explore the District of Columbia and help prepare for midterm and final exams. Without these breaks, students will prepare less for their exams, miss more classes, and underperform in the workplace and classroom."
Okay, is it just me, or does anybody else hear how elitist this sounds? AU students, if not all college students, are starting to feel entitled to things like double beds and extra days off. Maybe I, as a government employee, shouldn't really be talking, but hello children, welcome to the real world! You're not going to get random days off in the middle of the semester. Its not like I spent every waking minute of those study days studying either, and my jobs/internships were fun, and often let me do homework at the same time. Stop whining, or else you'll be sorely prepared for what a real job is like.

Okay, end of rant. I promise I'll post about something more fun later.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Whither the video store

You're going to think that we're pretty old fashioned over here, but Matt and I liked going to the video store to pick out a movie. Of course, its very rare that we would go to the video store in the first place...maybe once a month, if that. Between not really watching a whole lot of TV in the first place, and having other plans, and oh, yeah, getting that occassional video out from the library, we just never rented movies enough to subscribe to Netflix or Blockbuster online.

Last spring, however, Blockbuster gave us a pretty damn good reason to not subscribe to their service...they closed their store that was located only a mile away from us. Didn't matter, we thought, there's a much closer independent video store that we would rather go to anyway. Unfortunately, at the beginning on August, we walked into that store, and found out that they had lost their lease and were being forced to close, so they were selling off all of their videos and DVDs as well (all the good stuff had already been bought). So we were forced to go to another video store to rent "The 40 Year Old Virgin ", which, by the way, was the only video we rented the entire summer, I'm pretty sure. This past weekend, we were going to that store to rent a movie, and sure enough, they had a big store closing sign, and they were selling off their collection as well. And once again, we had missed all the good stuff.

So now I have to sign up for Netflix, and I'll probably get the cheapest option, and even though its only $4.99 a month, that's still more that what we would usually pay per month to rent the occassional movie. Its all a scam, I tell ya.

Friday, September 28, 2007

So I bet you're thinking...

I bet you're wondering, "Wow, now that Laura is 30 and sexy, does she not have time to blog?". Well, yeah, its been kind of a crazy month for me, so even though several things have happened to me that I've thought were blog-worthy, I haven't had a chance to talk about them. Here goes.
1) Matt's parents were in town last week, so we had a week of fine dining. Unfortunately, I had to work on Saturday, so Matt had to find a way to entertain his parents himself. Luckily, he had the brilliant idea of taking them to a brew pub, Rock Bottom Brewery. I come home from work to find this giant--empty-- glass container sitting on the counter. "Don't touch my Growler!" Matt yells. Yes, this is a refillable container that holds 5 pints of beer that can be taken home with you for the low, low price of $6.95 per refill.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

2) I've decided that I will never watch another video of YouTube for the following reasons: a) It has become too ubiquitous. b) Most of the crap that's on it, is well, crap. I'm not really intersted in watching your hamster roll around in the room in its hamster ball, and c) the other stuff that's on it is probably a copyright violation. So there. Don't send me any YouTube links. I'm not gonna watch it. You know how much I hate hype anyway.

3) I've joined Facebook, but honestly, I don't really see the point of the whole thing. Its like MySpace for lazy people. Seriously, you can't blog, but they expect you summarize how you're feeling in one little status sentence. Also, what is the point of "poking" people? Maybe I just don't understand because I'm no longer in my 20s, but I feel pretty lost using Facebook.
So that's my post for the month. See you in October.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Two things of interest happened to me today:

1. I bought lunch for a homeless guy at Subway. It was a spur of the moment decision, and it surprised even me. He had a footlong seafood sub with extra mayonnaise, chips and a drink. He was very grateful.

2. A bird shit on my arm as I was walking to the gym. It was truly disgusting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

30 is in fact the new sexy

I bet you've been wondering if I've been too hungover from my birthday party to tell you about it. The answer is yes...ha ha not really! What, me drink? Hee hee.

Elisa hasn't had a chance to get her pictures up yet, but my friend Avery has sent some to me. We had such a great time! Elisa flew in from San Antonio and brought a surprise with her...a watermelon pinata filled with Segovia candies (pralines, caramels and coconut flavored).

We spent pretty much all day on Saturday running errands for what would turn out to be the most rockin' party that we've ever thrown...literally. We rented a karaoke machine, and it turned out to be a huge hit. You know, there's always that concern that people would be too shy or modest to want to get up and sing. Luckily I have friends who are neither shy nor modest. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The pinata was planned by Matt and Elisa, but since Matt had never been to a party that involved a pinata, he was a little unsure about the logistics. It took a while, but they finally got the pinata up the tree. Elisa spun me around 30 times, and went to town, totally whacking the pinata into submission (apparently, I have a gift for hitting the pinata). When it cracked open, I heard a cheer come up from the crowd, so I tore off my mask...but no one was picking up candy. C'mon y'all! There's candy all around! Hoarde it greedily! We had to prod people along to get the candy, but they all finally took it. A few more people took a turn at the battered watermelon, and although there was no more candy in it, it was still thoroughly enjoyable. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Ah, the rest of the night was kind of a blur, but I do remember singing, drinking and eating that delicious cake...marble cake with strawberry icing filling and cream cheese icing on top. It was quite nice too.

My house still hasn't recovered completely, which is a sure sign that it was a memorable party. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A life with no regrets

Today's the big day! Its my 30th birthday! Elisa's here and we're off soon to go pick up some party supplies. I'm really excited, and a friend of mine from college just called from Qatar to wish me a happy birthday.

I was telling a co-worker of mine that I don't feel like this is really a significant birthday, and she said that its probably because I'm happy with my life. And its true...I am happy with my life right now. I can honestly say I don't have any major regrets in my life. I've done things my way. And I'm really happy about that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Getting ready to par-tay!

My birthday is in a week. That's right, on August 18, I turn 30. I'm really excited about the whole thing, and we are having a party at our home to celebrate.

One thing that's kind of frustrating about D.C. is its lack of regular bakeries, and that's important because I love cake, especially birthday cake with my name on it. The famous bakery is Cake Love, but I certainly do not love that cake. Its too dry, and the frosting tastes too much like lard in my opinion. Plus, they are incredibly expensive.

For Matt's birthday last January, I tested various cupcakes around the area. I had a cupcake from the now-defunct Reeve's bakery, which actually gave me heartburn. Reeve's bakery was a fixture in downtown Washington for a long time, and I really wanted to like their cupcakes, but I just couldn't. However, they were most well-known for their pie. I also tried a cupcake from Heller's Bakery, which tasted more like your standard grocery store cupcake. Not bad, but just a little too sweet (I bet it would be a good cake for a kid's birthday, though). I finally ended up getting awesome cupcakes from Buzz Bakery, in Virginia. It was well-worth the expense and the drive. The cupcakes were moist and dense, and the icing was not too sweet. Plus, they were beautiful little things. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

For my birthday, I really wanted a cake though, and I had to begin the process of searching for a bakery again since Buzz doesn't really do large cakes. Back to the foodie message board for ideas. Of course, the problem with asking foodies about stuff is they tend to give you suggestions like this. Don't get me wrong, those are beautiful cakes, but really, I just want a cake, not necessarily a work of art. There's a lot of French bakeries in DC, some places aren't open on weekends because they do more a breakfast pastry kind of thing. At some point you start to think, "Why can't I just get some damn cake?!" And then I remembered a place that I had come across online in my previous research.

This morning I tested out a cupcake from Just Cakes. The cake itself was nice and moist, and although I find the icing a little sweet (perhaps because they dusted the cupcake in decorative sugar), I liked it enough to order it for my birthday. We'll see how it turns out.

Oh, and this morning I also bought liquor for the party. Lots and lots of liquor. I think it will be a good party.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

When I say its hot, its really hot

Okay, I'm the first person to snicker when people start complaining about the heat here in DC. Yes, 85 degrees can be considered quite warm, but don't start bitching about how humid it is too. Believe me, 78 degrees and 40 percent humidity is not all that uncomfortable...actually, I find it a little on the cool side.

But when you hear me complaining about how hot it is, you better take notice. Because then you know its hot enough to get a Texan complainin'.

Today it reached a 102 degrees. Plus, our ac at work was basically not functioning, so inside my library it was 80 with 63 percent humidity. Nevermind the fact that the library is supposed to close when the humidity surpasses 60 percent (we didn't, but that's a whole other rant). I was uncomfortable all day, and when I stepped out for a smoothie in the afternoon, I felt like I had stepped into an oven. I'm just glad that my deodorant kept working.
So yeah, y'all, today was hot.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Southwest airlines boarding passes

I learned something this week about printing a boarding pass on Southwest airlines. If you have access to a computer but not a printer, you can reprint your boarding pass at the airport (either at the kiosk or with an agent). You don't lose your boarding group assignment or anything. The boarding agent says that when she has to fly but isn't near a computer, she calls a friend to check her in and she picks up her boarding pass at the airport. Just something to know.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I'm dying here

Today is the day that Harry Potter comes out. I am also at work today. Luckily, I work in a public library so getting my hands on a copy wasn't difficult. I just really, really want to be reading my book right now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harry Potter predictions

I predict the following characters will die in the last Harry Potter book:

Ginny Weasley
Bellatrix Lestrange
Severus Snape

Monday, July 09, 2007

Laura vs. the Volcano

We're back from our annual fourth of July trip to a national park. This year, we chose Lassen Volcanic, one of the smallest and least visited national parks in the country. Why would we choose such a place? Well, proximity to gambling is one reason. The other is that we were meeting quite a few people from the West coast for a weekend of hiking and camping.

A scant 2 and half hours from Reno, this national park doesn't really have any "oh, wow" moments like the Grand Canyon. The mountains are in the southern Cascade region, and the namesake mountain, Lassen Peak is only about 12,000 feet. But while it may lack sexiness, this park is still a fun place to hang out and hike. Also, there's an element of danger here too...Lassen Peak is still an active volcano, and it last erupted in 1915, spewing lava and volcanic rocks all over the place. If you're a badass (which I'm not), you can even hike up the volcano.

This was a fun trip, mainly because we were with such a great group of people. Despite the fact that I like to camp with at least one former Eagle Scout and none were present this time around, making fire was not too complicated, thanks to the dry conditions in California. Actually, I'm surprised that there weren't fire restrictions in the campground.

There was one really scary moment when a few of us got lost in the wilderness, literally. We were following a trail that just seemed to kind of die off, so we wandered around aimlessly trying to figure out where to go. Finally, we heard cars on the main road so we made a beeline for the road, only to discover that we were about a mile from the trail head.

One of the great things was the big, blue sky. It was such a brilliant blue, and for most of the time, there was nary a cloud in the sky. At night, the stars were out in full force, and it was amazing to me that there were so many. Matt even saw a few shooting stars.

It was a welcome change from big-city life (although I really missed the food...the one time we went into town we had a crappy experience at the local pizza parlor/bar), and I would gladly go back.
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Owning a home, without owning your building

Okay, there are some really great things about owning a condo. One, I never have to hassle Matt to mow the lawn, because we don't have a lawn. Two, its easily affordable in DC.

Lately though, its been really frustrating just doing general home improvements. We tried to get a ceiling fan installed in our bedroom, but the electricians said it couldn't be done because the ceiling didn't have enough depth to hold a fan, and also, the only way they could run the wires would be through the outside brick, and obviously, they can't do that.

We thought about replacing our scary little spiral stairwell with a real stairwell, but found out that it would be very expensive (we used the money to pay down a little bit of our mortgage instead).

We're lucky enough to have a private entrance to our unit, but the door has to be replaced now because of several cracks. A contractor came out and said the entire door frame would have to be rebuilt, and to do that we need pre-approval from our condo board.

This was supposed to be the year of home improvements, but so far everything has gone by the wayside. Maybe I'll just go ahead and get the carpet replaced and feel like I've actually accomplished something.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Worst...first day of summer...ever

Actually, today wasn't too bad in general. Matt and I met up with some friends, ate some crab, drank some wine. What totally sucked was the temperature. A rain storm swept into the area during rush hour and brought a cold front (the second time this month). When I got out of the Metro, the temperature had dropped to 69 degrees, but it had mostly stopped raining. Later as we ate on the patio, another rain storm came through, with huge gusts of wind. We were freezing. However, we did enjoy a gorgeous sunset once the storm blew out of the way. It was bright orange, with gray clouds swept across the sky.

So, okay, the comraderie was nice. But its just wrong to have a summer day in the 60s, especially since is the second time this month that this has happened. I'm pretty sure this weekend will be really nice though.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer in DC

Nothing says summer in DC like families of tourists coming in droves to the city. They walk around in matching shirts, stand on the left side of the Metro escalators--blocking the way of people walking on the escalators--and look around instead of looking at where they are going. Pretty much typical anywhere you go.

Good tourists try not to take up too much room on the Metro during rush hour, and make way for us drones who aren't lucky enough to be on vacation.

Coming home from work today, there was a couple with a very small baby in his arms. The wife was following behind with the stroller, which she proceeded to fold up once she got on the train (good). Someone offered them seats behind me, and they sat down gratefully. After a few minutes, the baby started to get fussy, and you could tell they were mortified, as people turned their attention away from their iPods, and toward them. "Shhh," the dad said. "You don't want to disturb the workers."

The workers. I felt like calling him, "comrade". It was a strange end to an otherwise uneventful day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Best of my love

Someone forwarded me a link that tells you what the number one song is for the day you were born. My birthday song is "Best of my love" by the Emotions!
Speaking of birthdays, mine is only two months away. I've been trying to figure out what a cool 30th birthday party would be. I think it will probably involve eating and drinking, but that's about it.

Oh yeah, that song link:
Go Spurs Go!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Slug Course

For our fourth anniversary, we decided to do a very Matt and Laura thing and go out for dinner (of course). We chose a restaurant in our neighborhood that has a very good reputation among the foodie community, that we hadn't been to yet because it can be a little pricey. Like many high-end restaurants in DC, they pride themselves on using local, in-season and organic products.

Our first course consisted, of course, of salad. I enjoyed a salmon seviche (that's the way that they spelled it, so that's how I'm going to spell it) with greens, and Matt had rabbit with romaine. As we were finishing up our salads, I saw Matt stop and look very intently at his plate. He kept staring at it, and I could tell he was getting very, very ansy. I glanced over at his plate, and saw a teeny tiny little slug squirming on the very last piece of lettuce. It was horrifying, but at the same time kind of amusing. The slug, if that's what it was, kept moving around, clearly terrified. Matt looked completely distraught. He flagged the waiter over (who was very, very good), and said, "There seems to be an animal on my plate, and it seems to be alive," while the slug kept squirming. The waiter was properly mortified, apologized, and whisked the plate away. He came back a few minutes late, apologized again, and said the manager was coming over to speak to us. The manager came a few minutes later, apologized profusely, and offered us a complimentary glass of champagne to give us a few extra minutes to decide if we wanted to continue our dinner. We decided that we wanted to stay, and enjoyed the rest of the meal. We support organics, after all.

All in all, the salad was comped, as well as our bottle of wine, and two glasses of champagne each. All of this without throwing a hissy fit in a nice restaurant, like some people would do. We'll probably go back, but probably won't order salad again. Supposedly, they also have the best burger in town.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Under the boardwalk

At the beginning of the month, I thought to myself that I should try to blog more often. Well, I didn't. Lately it seems like my life is all about work (or working out), and when I get home, I'm re-reading Harry Potter. Lots of excuses, right?

This past weekend, Memorial Day weekend, we kicked off the beginning of the summer with a trip to the Jersey shore. We camped in Cape May with some friends, and were pleasantly surprised by the beauty that is south Jersey. The weather was great for most of the weekend, except for Sunday night when it rained pretty hard. I didn't feel like there were a whole lot of people on the beach, and when we visited the boardwalk amusement park in Wildwood, we didn't have to wait in line much. Actually, apparently they were anticipating a small ground on Memorial Day, because the entrance fee was discounted pretty heavily. Plus we got to eat carnival foods, like ice cream, fried Oreos, and funnel cake. Thankfully we did our eating after the roller coasters.

It was cool to see a real, live boardwalk, with rides and skeeball, like you do in the movies. I guess the real downside about the beach was that the water was freezing cold, although there were a few warm currents coming in (it felt like someone had peed). But otherwise it was a great weekend. Jersey...its not just for mobsters.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ode to a softshell crab

Oh, softshell, you who sacrificed your
short little life for me
so that you could be deep-fried and crunchy.
Wonderful crab, prepared in a multitude of ways,
making DC worth inhabiting in the summertime.
The most yummy of all the crabs--
yes, even over stuffed crab--
I thank you for being so delicious.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wiiiii! part deux

So remember back in December when I wrote about Matt really wanted a Wii? Well, let's revisit that subject.
For the last six months the D.C. area has been a Wii wasteland. We would go around to various electronic and game shops and interrogate teenage store clerks: Do you have any Wiis? When do you expect to get Wiis in again? How many Wiis do you usually get? How fast do you sell out? Lately we felt like we were this close to finding one: Well, we got some in two days ago, but they sold out pretty quickly. Matt was finally coming to the conclusion that the Wii in fact does not exist, and its a vast conspiracy by Nintendo to get people talking about a product that they might introduce in the future.

Yesterday, we left Best Buy, dejected by missing a Wii shipment (and subsequent sell-out) by a day. We decided it was time to move on with our lives, so we went shopping at a mall in Virginia. Coincidently, there is a game store in that mall, on the lower level. We peered over the railing as we walked by, and on the door they had posted a sign that said "Wiis now in stock." We raced down the escalator, startling some senior citizens out on their afternoon constitutional, and into the store. "Do you have any Wiis?" I asked tentatively. "Oh, yeah," said the store clerk. We held our breath as he went into the back, and when he came out with a Wii box, we high-fived and hugged. Our search was over. This Wii was coming home.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

An evening conversation

Me:...So if I lose 2 more pounds, I'll have lost 60 pounds all together.
Matt: That's great, Laura! Do you want a cake when that happens?
Me: Yes. But don't let me eat too much.

So yeah, looks like I've lost those last two lbs. Matt says it looks like I've shrank. I don't feel any different, except I'm more likely to be more active. Tonight, I walked more than mile just to go to dinner. And then, despite the fact that we were stuffed, we walked home--another mile or so. And it didn't bother me. Well, my feet kind of hurt, but my feet always hurt, so that was no big deal.

Its tough, though, because I look at myself, and think that I still have quite a ways to go. Easily another 40 to be at a healthy weight. I think that I'll never see the end of it, and then I'm going to flip it around and gain back that 40 pounds when I get pregnant. Yup, I said it. I want to have a baby.

Anyway, that's still a ways to go. As always, I will keep you posted.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Laura (libarian) es hermosa!

Yes, friends, I seem to have a secret admirer. This piece of graffiti was marked onto a table at my library. And that is exactly the way that everything was spelled.

Kind of made my day. Although I would have preferred it if they hadn't written on the table in permanent marker.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I'm an answerer

Lately, I've become addicted to Yahoo! Answers. If you don't know what that is, basically people post a question to the website, and other people answer them. The questioner and other users can vote on the best answer, and you get points for having the best answer.

Its kind of exhilirating to be chosen as the best answer. Its also really crazy how many people don't know how to use the Internet! I mean, some of these answers you can find on Wikipedia. Some of the questions are kind of funny (how do they keep the colors separate in a Cadbury creme egg), other questions are straight from a kid's homework assignment.

I always get a little thrill when my question is chosen as the best answer, but when I told Matt that, he said, "Aren't you just doing your job?" Which is true, I guess. But it just goes to show that in the age of the Internet, librarians are needed more than ever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Its so sad

This morning I was reading the Washington Post online. The Virginia Tech massacre is a very big story here, since its only a few hours south of DC and the shooter and a few victims were from the area. Underneath the stories about VT were a few other world headlines, in much smaller type. The one that caught my attention was "Baghdad blasts kill 131."

After Monday, that particular headline sent me reeling. I can't imagine living in a country where mass killings are so...ordinary. I can't imagine daily have to relive the sorrow, shock and pain of 9/11 or Virginia Tech. But that's what the people of Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, have to live with.

After that, I flipped through the Post's online photo album of the victims of VT. I teared up at work as I saw so many young people's lives taken away from them, as I read about the heroics of some of their professors. And I wondered about the Iraqis whose pictures we'll never see, and the infants who may have died at the scene, who never had the chance to grow up to be heroes.

This isn't a commentary about the war. Its just my own thoughts about two terrible situations, and how the media covers it. We may have become desensitized to coverage about the war, and perhaps its a shame that we're only reminded about the horrors happening abroad when a horror happens here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Me, on a diet

Originally uploaded by laura_gonzales.
Every now and then I'll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and think, Wow, I look good! I hadn't realized how good I've been looking until I started putting my pictures from Paris in a photo album. I happened to put them in the same album as my pictures from London and Rome, which we visited in May 2005.

I can't believe how much I've changed! It's like I'm a different person. And its not just because I'm wearing an opposite color jacket either, or my hair's a little longer (the shoes are the same, and I'm wearing a pink shirt in both). I'm honestly surprised that people recognize me.

Looking a pictures like this really motivates me (she writes, while eating Easter candy). Its been a tough couple of months for me, losing weight-wise, since I've only lost about 10 lbs this year. It seems like there's always an excuse to not watch what I'm eating.

Matt and I were joking the other day while at Subway, and I couldn't finish my 6 in. roast beef sub (on wheat, no cheese). "Is this going to turn into an after school special? 'Laura, Please Eat Something'?" he said. Luckily, I love food too much for that to ever become a problem.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Snow in April

Snow in April
Originally uploaded by laura_gonzales.
It snowed this morning. Yes, today, April 7, it snowed about an inch in our nation's capital. Nevermind that this is the same week as the Cherry Blossom festival, or that is was 75 degrees four days ago, or that the tourists have been running around in shorts. It snowed this morning and the blooming trees were covered in the white stuff. Apparently its been 83 years since the last time it snowed on this date.

The snow's pretty much gone now. Its been above freezing all day,, although it may freeze again tonight. I keep hoping that's going to be in the end of it, and spring will finally come to us full-blast, in all of its sneeze-inducing glory. I'm just not cut out for these yankee springs.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Trip Planner-Paris

Okay, so I've finally updated my Trip Planner for Paris. You can read about our trip in excruciating detail. Be sure to leave a comment there so that I can feel loved!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Paris in the Spring!

We're back! We were supposed to return on Saturday night, but the flight was overbooked and they asked for volunteers to fly back on Sunday. They gave us each vouchers worth $400, and put us up in a hotel. But of course, that's not what you want to hear.

The trip was so great! We stayed right in the middle, in the Saint Germain de Pres neighborhood. Our hotel room was small, like most European hotel rooms, but the staff was very friendly. We walked everywhere, and every night we were so exhausted. We tried to pack in as much as we could in a week, but there was so much more that we missed. In addition to Paris, we visited Versailles (a 45 minute train ride out of town), and there was a few worrisome hours there when we discovered that some of the workers were on strike, but only for the morning.

One surprising discovery for us was the Sacre Couer basillica. It was so beautiful, inside and outside.

Of course, we had to visit the Eiffel Tower. Out of necessity we visited it at night, and luckily it had rained earlier so a lot of the smog was cleared out.

The food was sooo good. The French really love their bread and dairy products, and honestly I don't know if there was a meal that I had that didn't involve bread and cheese (even in the morning, there was usually a cured meat out). Also, I've decided that I really, really dislike foie gras (duck liver). I had it several times in Paris, because they are obsessed with it, but I don't see the appeal. I went to Paris with an open mind about food, and I'm glad I tried it, but if I can avoid it, never again.

Oh, and the song of the trip was "La Camisa Negra," by Juanes! We heard it everywhere!

Anyway, I'll probably blog more about Paris later. And I'll definitely have more pictures up soon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

America the Beautiful

So in the midst of all of our Paris planning (we leave tomorrow!), we've also had to make a few decisions about at least one of other trips this year. Traditionally, we get the hell out of DC for Fourth of July because Tourists! Ew! and we head off and celebrate America in another way--we visit a national park. Last year's trip was awesome, and we decided to do another trip out west. Actually, we usually choose a park to go to on January 1st, but this year we didn't make a decision until a few weeks ago, for various reasons. I was really pulling for Rocky Mountain NP, and I thought it was a done deal, but then Yellowstone reared its head, and it was decided we would go there. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones who had that idea, and all the campsites for the Fourth were taken. So we decided on another California park--Lassen Volcanic.

Even though I've been to this park before, I'm still really excited about going back. If you've never seen a volcanic area (I guess I've seen four volcanic parks now), its definitely very striking. If the eruption is recent (like in the last 100 years), a lot of the trees are gone, and the land seems barren. But then you notice all the plants that flourish in that kind of environment.

Oh, but here's the sucky thing...they've raised the price of the National Parks Pass from $50 to $80 and they've given it a dumb name: the America the Beautiful pass. Granted, it now provides access to all other federal recreation areas (seashores, forests) that may charge a fee, but really, how many of those areas charge a fee? The price may be prohibitive, since we'll have to visit parks at least 8 times in a year, and honestly, I'm not sure if we can do that. They may have just shot themselves in the foot because I'm sure there's a lot of other folks like us that want to support the parks but don't want to be overcharged. Maybe we'll get it, just to be supportive, but I'm not so sure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Give DC a vote!

Did you know that DC residents are not a part of any state? That means that we don't have any voting members in the House or the Senate. Yet we still pay federal income taxes. What happened to "no taxation without representation"?

This week, the House will vote on a bill that would give DC a voting member. Currently, DC has a non-voting delegate in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton (you may remember her from her appearances on the Colbert Report). Politically, DC is very Democratic. Despite the fact that the bill also gives Utah another voting member (Utah is a very Republican state) due to population growth, the White House is urging Republican members of the House to vote against the bill. Even if the bill passes, the White House says that it will veto the bill. Right now, the bill has bi-partisan support, but the threat of a White House veto could deter some Republican Congressman.

It is outrageous in this day and age that U.S. citizens are not being given their Constitutional rights. Please urge your Congressman, Democrat or Republican, to vote for H.R. 1433.To read more about this issue, please visit the Washington Post's Metro website: . You can visit your Congressperson's webpage by visiting

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I {heart} Mana

Its only taken me about 15 years, but I finally got to see Mana in concert last night. My sister happened to mention to me late last fall that Mana was touring, so I decided to check out if they were going to be in my area. Surprisingly, they were playing a few miles away in Virginia. So last night, Matt and I braved the icy rain and drove an hour out to Virginia at the end of rush hour to see Mana.

I have to say, this was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. I own half of their albums, but you know its a great concert when you're really enjoying the music you've never heard before. Matt had only heard their songs when I would play the CDs, so he was really unfamiliar with their music. Yet he was really enjoying the music, totally rocking out.

What I loved: I loved that the drummer Alex was smiling throughout the concert. His drum solo was so awesome, some guy jumped on the stage and started doing the "we're not worthy" bow before he got tackled by security. I loved that they made it rain on stage. I loved that there were Latinos from all over Latin America at the concert, waving their banderas, and Fher wanted to see them all.

What I didn't love: Fher's pants. He is really tall, and he was wearing these black and white striped, high waisted things. I kept telling Matt, "Why won't Fher change pants?" Also, Fher endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying she was the voice of the Latinos in the U.S. What, no love for Obama? Also, they didn't play my favorite song, "Selva Negra."

This was a great band to see live, and even though these guys are in their 40s, they really rocked the house, for 2 and a half hours. I can't wait to see them again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Time flies (like I will in a week)

Well, despite my rather pathetic efforts to learn French , the time for Paris is almost upon us. I can't believe its been seven months since we booked this trip, and I'm still kind of in shock that its finally going to be here. In addition to trying to learn French, we've been planning our trip. We're going to be mostly in Paris, with a day excursion to Versailles. Since we're only going to be there for five days, I think that's our best plan of attack.

Matt and I journaled during our trip to Italy two years ago, and I'm hoping to do the same for this trip. I found it was very relaxing to take 20 minutes to recount the day's adventures. This time, I'll probably post some of that writing on my Yahoo! Trip Journal (note: the Paris trip is not listed there because I'm keeping it private while we're still in the planning stages. But, hey, look at all those people who like my trip to Philly!).

I'm really hoping that a lot of people in France speak English, because basically the only thing I know how to say is, "Bonjour, monsieur. Excuse moi de vous deranger. Parlez vous Anglais?". Which translates into, "Hello sir. I'm a little crazy. Do you speak English?" Kidding! Actually it means, "Sorry for bothering you." I think that will be a very useful phrase.

Monday, March 05, 2007

barbecue in DC

After my visit to the gym this morning, I was really hungry. I mean, really hungry. The kind of hungry you get after working out for an hour and half. There's this barbecue place across the street from my gym that's pretty good, and the owner is from Texas, so it has the right intentions (but alas, its not quite the same, mostly because while the owner is from Texas, the cooks aren't). I went in fully intending to get a sausage sandwich, since I do love sausage, but instead ended up with a pulled chicken sandwich, since I was feeling guilty.

I didn't really like the bread, so I focused mostly on the meat. Like I said, pretty good, just not excellent. But here's the weird thing: the entire time I was in there (about 30 minutes), I was the only female there. Then I realized that most of the times I've been in there, I've been one of the only women there too. Very strange.

Most of my female friends (I refuse to use the term "girlfriends") tend to like meat, and food in general. I wonder if we are just DC anomolies?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Matt's a nerd

For the last eleven years, Matt has flaunted his perfect 20/20 eyesight. Everyone told him he would never get out of college without getting glasses. We were wrong. Then we all told him that there was no way he would get out of law school without getting glasses. Wrong again. Finally, a mere month after his 30th birthday, I made an eye appointment for him, and guess what? He needs glasses for reading, computer work, and driving. He's officially a nerd.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, February 19, 2007

Trip Planner

I just found a feature on Yahoo! Travel that lets you plan your trips, blog about it, and post your pictures. I just returned from a weekend visit to Philadelphia, and now you can read about it
here. The link will also be on my main page.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ines of my soul

The good thing about plane rides is that they give you a large block of time to read. Going to and from Seattle, a five hour flight, I had plenty of time to start and finish the latest novel by Isabel Allende, Ines of My Soul, which was published last fall.

Allende, a Chilean author now living in California, tends to write about those two places, and this novel was no exception. Taking place in Peru and Chile during the Spanish conquest, Allende introduces us to the real-life Chilean historical figure, Ines de Suarez. Born in Spain, Ines travels to Peru in search of her husband and adventure. After learning of her husband’s death, she is determined to stay in the New World and later takes up with the Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia. Together, she and Pedro de Valdivia decide to found Chile, and conquer the native people in the process.

The book goes into many details about the wars between the Spanish and the natives, and does not sugarcoat the hostility between both sides. Yet, despite her role as conquistadora, Ines proves to be a very sympathetic character, a fictionalization I’m sure.

Actually, the sympathy I felt toward the Spanish was a little surprising to me. The Spaniards did terrible things to the native people, and the natives fought back with equal brutality. In the book, Ines says she does not blame the natives for fighting for their land, since the Spanish did the same when the Moors invaded Spain (if you look at the cover, you'll see that the figure they chose to portray Ines has some Arabic features...). This view, I’m sure, was not shared by the original Ines. However, one cannot help but feel sympathy for a group of people who, with their food supplies practically destroyed by the Indians, are forced to eat puppies in order to survive. Yes, puppies.

This sympathy leads to the question: which side do I root for? As a Mexican American myself, with both native blood and Spanish heritage, these types of things needed to happen in order for me to exist. Often times, we assign brutality to the Spanish side, but the natives were no less brutal. We forget that the Inca had systematically conquered other native tribes before the Spanish conquered them. And we find out that Pedro de Valdivia meets a terrible end at the hands of the Indian youth, Lauturo, who (according to the book, at least) he had treated like a favored nephew.

History is relative, however, and historical fiction even more so. My own research could uncover little more than what is widely known about Ines, mainly because most of the books written about her are in Spanish and have never been translated. I’m glad that Isabel Allende is giving Ines a greater audience than she had previously had before.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

charitable donations

Its tax time again. For me, that means gathering up all tax-related documents, including charitable deductions, for 2006. After looking at our contributions, Matt was a little chagrined that we aren't really keeping up with our tithing as much as we should (7 percent of our total income), but I pointed out that we do give to several non-profit organizations, and even gave money to organizations which we can't deduct (thank you, Webb for Senate, even though we don't live in Virginia, but that's another story).

Of course, giving isn't about how much we can deduct on our taxes. I honestly believe in the work of every organization that we give money to. In an effort to up our charitable donations for the year, Matt and I have agreed that we will give a set amount to a charity every month, and will alternate who chooses the charity. This month, I chose the local public radio station, since its pledge drive time (why does it seem that its always time for a pledge drive in public radio?).

Speaking of giving money, seems to be upping his charitable donations as well. He'll be donating ad revenue from his site to a local DC organization. That's a class act, if you ask me.

I encourage everyone to give back to their community in some way, whether it be by volunteering time or making a financial contribution.

Poor George

Well, the day after I wrote about using my George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine, I tried using it to grill some fish. The machine didn't really heat up very much and a lot of the controls didn't work. I think the innards got wet. Bah.

However, this did call for a trip to Target, which I always love, to purchase a brand new George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. I ended up getting one with removable grill plates to make it easier to clean. Today, is the inaugural use of the new George for Sausage Fest. I have about 9 lbs of sausage, including half smokes, which is DC tradition. I got inspired to buy half smokes after reading about them in Washington City Paper.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Where is my motivation?

After a brief and small (3 lbs) success early on this year, I've managed to gain those back in the last 2 weeks or so. My excuses: Matt's 30th birthday blowout, conference in Seattle (although I ate a lot of seafood), just plain laziness. Matt has decided to get back on Weight Watchers and that helps. This week I signed up for 10 hours with a personal trainer, in one hour increments. I hope to start that next week.

I've been really hungry lately, so I'm making it a point to eat oatmeal every morning. Last night I got out of work late and it was a real challenge for us to not go out to eat at our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant, Dino, because it was right there. We managed to stagger home and make dinner together: boneless, skinless chicken thighs on the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling machine, steamed zuchhini, a great quick mashed potato recipe from the WW cookbook. As I was inhaling my food, Matt said, "I bet if we were eating shit on a shingle it would still taste good to us right now." I beg to differ. Shit never tastes good.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Stories from travelers

The Washington Post online has online chats with their reporters and editors on a daily basis. One of my favorite chats is the Talk About Travel chat. Not only do they take questions about travel-related stuff ("Is $400 too much for a round trip ticket to Alaska?"), but they usually have a random question that they throw out to the public about their own travel experiences. Today's question: "Give us your best hot-to-overheated stories and win a prize. Tell us about a night in Mali without A/C or coming down with a bad case of sunburn on the Equator. With the freezing temps outside, we need the heat."

I chimed in with this, which some of you may remember:

Washington DC: Heat: On our Hawaiian honeymoon 3 and a half years ago, my new husband and I went sea kayaking. Unfortunately, we ran very low on sunscreen. After a few hours of kayaking, my husband noticed that the top of his feet were getting red. A few days later, while playing in the ocean, he saw what he thought was a jellyfish on his foot. He ran out of the water, only to discover that his feet had started to peel and that water was sloshing up under the dead skin, causing it to puff up.
Andrea Sachs: That is so grossly amusing. If the prize is aloe vera, you win!

And guess what! I did win!

Andrea Sachs: Wow, you guys were on fire with your questions and hot travel stories. For the woman whose husband had bubble toes in Hawaii, please email me your address so I can send you some aloe, or whatever else we have laying around for a prize.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I've decided I like ordering from catalogs. All kinds of catalogs. Yesterday I ordered sausage from New Braunfels Smokehouse for our latest meat-based party, Sausage Fest. Today I received a catalog of a very different kind, from Coach. Yes, those pretty pretty bags. I've decided that for my 30th birthday (which is only 7 months away, by the way), I want a Coach bag. Oh, and sausage. But since I can get sausage any time, I'm choosing the Coach bag as my gift.

(Get your minds out of the gutter, people. I really am talking about pork-based products when I say sausage. And no, not that kind of pork.)

Of course, the real problem with catalogs is that they seem to multiply. In addition to my Coach catalog, I also got a Lands End catalog. I'll probably get more meat by mail catalogs too. Actually, I think I got the Smokehouse catalog by subscribing to Texas Monthly, which I also received today. So I have lots of things to read now.

I do read normal things, too, of course. I'm planning on posting a blog soon on the latest book that I've read. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who needs Craigslist when you've got pawn shops?

Have you ever tried to sell anything on Craigslist? Its a really frustrating experience. You're emailing back and forth with people, and they're trying to bargain you down on a price, and then when you agree on a price, you have to arrange a mutually agreeable time for pickup, and then you just have to hope that they show up. I just don't have time for that. I've posted things on Craigslist twice: some moving boxes that we were giving away for free (FREE!) and a grill that we ended up not selling but which ended up getting stolen (STOLEN!) later. That's why when we got a new TV (in preparation for the Wii) recently, I wasn't sure what to do with my old one. Craigslist was out. I decided to pay a visit to my local pawn shop.

I visited my first pawn shop as a seller when I was about 18 years old. Several years before, when walking my dog, I had found a diamond ring in the street, laying amongst the leaves. The diamond itself was about the size of a fork tine, and I'm pretty sure it was 10k gold. I held on to it, taking it to the flea market once to see if it was real. It was, and I got offered $25 for it on the spot, which I refused. I took it later to a pawn shop, and ended up getting more than that, though not much more.

I pass a pawn shop pretty much every time I go to the grocery store. It has always surprised me to see it there, since its right in the middle of Georgetown. I had never had the occassion to go inside, so I was curious as to what kind of merchandise they had. I hauled my TV inside, and told the affable young man that I would like to sell my television. "How much are you hoping to get for it?" he asked. "Oh, around $50," I said. Which was a total joke. My off-brand TV was pretty much as ghetto as they come. It didn't even have those audio/video/stereo plug-ins, but it was cable-ready. Luckily, he found the joke funny, or maybe not so funny. "I'll give you $20," he said. With my awesome bargaining skills, I was able to get $25. Actually, I thought that was pretty good. Cuz, yeah, ghetto TV.

The good thing about pawn shops is that you don't really get seller's remorse. If I really want it back, I can go back in a few weeks and give them $27 to get it out of pawn. Or, if I'm really desperate in a few months, I'm sure it will be for sale for the low, low price of $40.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Adventures on the bus

There are parts of D.C. that are notorious for bad parking. My neighborhood is one of them, but at least we don't have the bands of roving drunks that are prevalent in Adams Morgan, a hip neighborhood that has cheap restaurants, partying college students, and lots of bars. Despite the abundance of restaurants, not a lot of them are any good, with the exception of Amsterdam Falafel, which isn't really a restaurant, and San Marco, which is scheduled to close soon, if it hasn't already. So, me being me, I don't really have a lot of reasons to go over to Adams Morgan, unless I'm invited to a party, which is why I was there the other night.

There's a bus stop a few blocks from my condo that takes me straight to the heart of Adams Morgan, and parking in Adams Morgan being what it is, I try to take it. However, like many bus lines in D.C., this particular bus line seems to have more than its fair share of eccentricities. I've had a strange experience every time I've ridden this particular bus line, and Saturday night was no exception.

Everything was going well when I first boarded the bus and paid my fare. Since my stop is actually at the beginning of the line, buses will idle at this stop for several minutes before actually leaving. The bus driver announced that we'll be leaving in 8 minutes. There were several people already on board, including a woman who asked me if I knew where a certain street was. I didn't, and neither did anyone else on the bus. It turns out an elderly woman was lost. She had been riding different buses for several hours hoping to find her way home. She lived in Hyattsville, MD, which is nowhere near where I live. The bus driver decided that there was no way she was going to take off with this woman on her bus, and more importantly, let this woman get off the bus, when it was very obvious she didn't know her way home. She decided to call her supervisor to come pick the woman up. A noble choice indeed, but now we were delayed. We waited 20 minutes; no supervisor, but another bus pulled up. We all got off the bus, but discovered that we had to wait another 15 minutes for that bus to leave. The elderly woman was fully prepared to board the 2nd bus, even though it had been explained to her that a supervisor was coming to pick her up. She had no idea that we were delayed because of her, she was just ready to go home.

I ended up taking a cab to my destination, and pretty much got ripped off by the taxi driver (thank you D.C. for failing to put meters in the taxis). If I had any confidence that the elderly woman knew her address, or that a taxi driver wouldn't try to rip her off, I would have offered to give her money for a cab ride home. I think the bus driver did the right thing, even though it turned a $1.35 ride for me into a $10 one.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Today I was looking around for a bathroom and decided to stop in at Starbucks. As I was finishing up in there, I noticed a sign for the seasonal "Cinnamon Dolce Latte." I hadn't really been planning on getting anything, but the sugar-free syrup option really piqued my interest, so I decided to get one. Unfortunately, the people in front of me didn't speak English, so I had to wait an extra few minutes while they mimed their order to the baristas.

I decided to try the no-fat, no-sugar Cinnamon Dolce latte, and despite a slight artificial sweetner aftertaste, it was pretty good. Best of of all, when I calculated the Weight Watchers point values, it was only two points! A very nice treat for me, indeed. I can only imagine what a treat a full fat, regular Cinnamon Dolce latte would taste like.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I want to quit the gym!

Remember that Friends episode where Chandler wants to quit the gym but they keep trying to stop him, and he and Ross end up getting a joint bank account? I kind of felt that way today when I told Curves that I need to cancel my membership, except since its a women's only gym, there was no hot guy to try to convince me otherwise, so it was a lot easier.

I decided to quit Curves because my work gives me a huge discount to become a member of the Washington Sports Clubs, and I can use any of their facilities in DC, Philly, NY or Boston. With the discount, its even cheaper than Curves, and of course the hours are better and they offer classes and a personal trainer. It was a hard decision for me, mostly because I try to be non-confrontational, and also because Curves gave me a lot a support through my initial weight loss. Of course, they wanted to know why I was leaving, and I told them that I got a good deal through work.

Anyway, let's see how I do.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions

A few years ago, I decided that I don't think New Year's resolutions are effective. Basically, a lot of people are all deciding to change their entire lives on the same day. And they do it not because they really want to change their lives, but rather because the new year seems like a good time to start something new. As a result, new year's resolutions tend to fall by the wayside by mid-February.

I'm not making any resolutions because of the new year, but still have my own personal goal to lose more weight. Today, I made my first recipe from my new cookbook: hummus. Usually, hummus is pretty high in fat because of the olive oil and tahini. This recipe uses no oil and less tahini. Still delicious. Thanks to my family for buying this for me!

I think I enjoy losing weight because I enjoy cooking. I know that seems strange, but I now have the opportunity to make new recipes and try new dishes. Who knew it could be so much fun?

Everyone has to have their own motivations, I guess.