Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stockpiled for Irene - Reading Material

Others may have scoured local grocery stores for bottled water, toilet paper, canned goods, and D batteries. I went with electronic reading material (and the hope that neither my Wi-Fi access, nor my MacBook Air batteries would be affected by a power outage, or that my ability to read would be affected by the curious and sticky fingers of certain toddler I know  - ha!). Okay, maybe “stockpiled” is my term of art for “not exactly keeping up with my RSS feed this summer”.  

This year’s DC Zagat ratings look a lot like last year’s Zagat ratings. How Marcel’s continues to be noted on the list, not to mention maintains its top spot, is a guessing game. But, given that I research almost every restaurant we visit, and the fact that I have failed to read a Zagat rating, in, oh 6 years, may lend credence to Tim Carman’s  “We do not live in a Zagat World anymore” theory. - via Washington City Paper

ZOMG. Rather than dipping Oreos into peanut butter, how much more efficient is it to just make Oreo peanut butter? Considering how to serve this deliciousness reminds me of those recent commercials with the mom feeding her kids a “nutritious” breakfast of Nutella.  I have to hand it the marketing guy who made this advertisement - he has gumption. If he is able to convince even one mother that the same sugary goodness that we ate straight-out-the-jar as children is a realistic alternative to Cheerios and bananas, then color me impressed.  But, back to Oreo peanut butter – it’s not for breakfast, but next time I fall off the calorie wagon, I’m calling you! – via embellishing the nest 

While I realize that noodle shop ramen is incomparably better than it tear-and-stir counterpart, I never realized just how involved the good stuff really is. - via I Flip for Food

I'm not sure I wanted to know just how corrupt FIFA is....this is thoroughly depressing. - via Grantland

Aww, thanks Arlington County. They remembered the alter ego's birthday. - via ArlNow

I'm going to stow this cooking camp idea for a couple years in the future. How much fun! - via KidFriendly DC

I was sick of the Burger-FroYo-Cupcake-Pizza takeover a year ago. But, it does not appear to be ending soon (or that NY transplanting everything to DC notion). - via Washington City Paper

Pat Collins being Pat Collins...just on national television - via DCist

There are days when it's not bad to be an attorney (outside of the District, of course). - via ArlNow

Friends have recommended Santa Fe Cafe several times, and every time I drive or walk by, I make a mental note to return, but then promptly forget. I need to stop the forgetting - it sounds rather tasty. 

I'm afraid that two of the parents described in this article may be my neighbors, who have a daughter who plays for the W-L softball team. But, this is some of the most ridiculous crap I've ever heard. Arlingtonians really need to get some perspective. There are school districts that are struggling to keep their teachers employed, but parents in my neighborhood seem to be totally out of touch with reality. To quote the piece, parents complain that, "outfield grass is mowed infrequently" (stop your histrionics and get your butt over there with your mower to help out your daughters' team), that "cages cannot be locked because Quincy is a public park" (yup, homeless people reside in Quincy Park - move to Yorktown if you don't like the reality of an urban high school), and that the "unsecured softball field at Quincy is used as a dog park" (the rest of us who pay our taxes use the public park as well - we have the gall to let our dogs touch the same grass as your daughters' over-privileged feet). Ugh; get over yourselves. - via ArlNow

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hitting Pause

As I sat, rocking my little man back to sleep the other night, I looked down at him, at his dimples, his now full head of light brown hair, his long eyelashes, and his round cheeks, and I came to a haunting realization. Even in this moment, this most childlike of moments, my little boy is in no longer a baby. I can no longer pretend. He's growing up, and it breaks my heart a little. Because I know what it means; it means that tomorrow I'm going to wake up and he's going to be headed off to college....Yes, I had the full-scale "When Harry Met Sally" breakdown moment.

As I slipped out of his room and H went off to Dreamland, through my head ran all of those moments when I prayed that he would go back to sleep, when I picked him up from his sitter a half-hour later so that I could go for a jog, or when I was infuriated with him for doing what I had just told him not to do seven straight times, and wishing for relief from that current reality. I was filled with regret. And I started sobbing uncontrollably.

Suddenly, every parenting cliche regurgitated itself at once, echoing in my head...

"He will always be your little boy"

"Pay attention; enjoy every minute; it goes so fast"

"They grow up too soon"

In trying to comfort me, C reminded me that we have more than sixteen years until we have to worry about the leaving H at his college dorm moment. I reminded him how we had previously discussed the respective abuse that we had individually heaped upon our parents at those moments. The lawyer in me also had an alternative argument prepared in case C did not buy the first. I argued that 16 years is actually only equal to approximately 800 weeks, and we just spent the better part of one away from the little man (more on our little West Coast escapades soon). This particular argument hit home.

Instead of making me feel better, C choked up a little himself. He brought up how parents of special needs kids often say that despite the challenges, that they are truly blessed as parents because they get a few additional years of innocence, playfulness, of raising their children as children. Really, this was supposed to make me stop crying?

So, I had to force myself out of this emotional mess; to accept the fact that H will continue to grow and mature, and that I should encourage it and delight in it, rather than feel sorrow. Rather than wishing that I could hit pause and capture these moments of toddlerhood forever. Shortly after this little mommy meltdown, I came across an article about the loss of child. I know, seriously, what was I thinking reading it? But, in that article was a poignant quote from a family member that has truly given me some peace in these times in which I wistfully start thinking about H growing far too fast. I could not relocate the exact language, which was much more eloquently put, but the gist is lovely enough...

"We don't own our children; we are only their trustees. Our children are only entrusted to our care to allow them to grow into uniquely beautiful, independent, and confident adults."

Let's just hope that those uniquely beautiful, independent, confident adults can call home to mom once in a while.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Finds for Fall

The toddlers got their shopping spree post. Now, it's time for mom to have some fun. A rundown of some of my favorite finds for Fall.... (Speaking of, where did the the summer go? Seriously, where-did-it-go?)

1. L.L. Bean Signature Cap Toe Boot - I find it hard to believe that any pair of shoes at L.L. Bean has a price on the north end of $200, but my, are they not beautiful boots?

2. Anthropologie Ceramic Farmer's Market Basket - Not that I have any problem with eating blueberries, but how much more fun out of a ceramic pint basket?

3. Boden Notre Dame Skirt in Sulphur - I may not love the name, but I love the texture and the color of this fun autumn skirt.

4. Beehive Cheese Co. Barely Buzzed Cheddar - Totally stealing this one from a friend, who generously shared his portion of this coffee- and lavender-rubbed cheese. Good stuff - seriously good stuff.

5. J. Crew Rainy Day Ballet Flats - For warmer days, a much preferable alternative to a huge, bulky pair of wellies. The "Vibrant Flame" hue brightens up the gray outdoors.

6. West Elm Modernist Bowls - Adding a little flair to cereal and ice cream. I am totally ordering these super cute bowls tonight!

7. Boden Military Jacket in Navy - I've decided - this is my must-have item this year. Back to school clothes for mommy.

8. mini Boden Shaggy Line Hoody - I promised this would be all about the mommies, but every trip to the mall for me involves a purchase for H. What can I say, I am a sucker for finding fashions for my little man (if you are a mom to a little man, you are, of course, well aware that boys totally get the shaft in the fashion department), and for stars. I love everything with stars.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Glorious Morning Muffins

What do you get when you shred garden-fresh zucchini?

Add some shredded carrots?

Then toss in some almond and golden raisin goodness?
Delectable muffins (that, {shhh}, happen to be good for you!).       

Glorious Morning Muffins (makes 18 medium-sized muffins)

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 unsweetened applesauce
1 cup pastry flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2.  Line muffin tray with paper* muffin cups.
  3. Whisk together flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in bowl. Set aside.
  4. In stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add applesauce, eggs (reserve and set aside 2 tbsp.), and vanilla.
  5. At low speed, add flour mixture one-half cup at a time. Don't overmix; continue at low speed only until ingredients are combined.
  6. Remove mixing bowl and add zucchini, carrots, raisins, and almonds, mixing with spoon.
  7. Divide batter evenly into eighteen muffin cups. 
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. 
  9. Brush with egg wash and bake an additional 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Economy is to Football as....

I have to say, yesterday's little pep talk on the economy came off as an incredibly weak statement to me. Seriously, "Our economy is still AAA-rated to me"?!  It's like Sasha got bullied at school, and the President got his notes mixed up. (Not to mention the fact that he chose to include his memorial to the soldiers killed in Afghanistan as part of the same speech. They are owed their own moment, but they are also owed their own post, so I digress). This was not the speech we needed. No, we did not need the Joe Gibbs calm, compassionate, encouraging version of a pep talk. We needed the Bill Belichick "Yeah, I'm an a-hole, but you can still do better" speech. We needed the President to remind the schmucks that all this "control" that they are allegedly asserting, this game they are playing, the shock and awe they are thriving on (seriously, the gaping mouth photo gets old quickly), all comes back to real companies, real lives, and real dollars. Johnson and Johnson did not become suddenly 4 or 5 percent less valuable yesterday. Bank of America continued to open its doors to customers, issue credit cards, and open safety deposit boxes. Ford manufactured vehicles, and people bought them yesterday, just as they did the day before, and the day before that.

President Obama needed to say that paper may say one thing, but we are better than this, America; that we are not going to be pushed around; that we are the most innovative, powerful, and intimidating country on earth for a reason, and no shirt and tie on Wall Street will tell us differently. He needed to give the Wally Rig half time speech.

But alas, he didn't. At least we have God's gift of distraction to thrill us and inspire us again soon (though I am still bummed that there was no 24/7 this season).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Every Facet: Fiola

For me, restaurant dining as an experience comes down to food, food, and food. Service comes in a distant second. But, I realize that for others, ambiance plays a role.  The good news for Fiola is that scores high on all fronts, with a potential for pleasing those who consider all facets of the dining experience (myself, admittedly, not included).


The designer must have been very texture focused, with every surface draped in natural components that add depth and warmth.  I like it. The decor evokes comfort, while nevertheless remaining elegant.

Though I can only report on the women's version, I am also a fan of the restroom decor, decked in stark white with carved wood detail. The only accents are ceiling panels in red floral – a really nice touch, by the way - and a red mosaic glass sink basin in flower shape. Though even the best design can use maintenance. In less than thirty seconds, I managed to break off both the toilet chain-link pull handle and the sink faucet.


Fiola's location, in the well-placed, yet slightly seedy block of Indiana Avenue between the Navy Memorial/Archives Station and the DC Superior Court building, doesn't really make me think of its proximity to Capitol Hill. That said, it seems to be a destination for the be-seen political crowd (Steny Hoyer and a few other less recognizable faces on our particular visit, making me question what they were do having a leisurely lunch and not, in late July, DOING THEIR JOBS).


Just how I like it - fast, unobtrusive, and knowledgeable. If only the hostess could have credited our Open Table points...


Salads so often serve as a precursor, without much effort or thought poured in to the course. Due to this, I hesitate to order salads unless I really need to increase my vegetable intake on the day. Once in while, however, the salad offerings on a menu go beyond the ordinary and serve as a satisyfing and eye-opening course all their own. I was really pleased with our selections at Fiola; it has been a long while since I have been so easily tempted to skip other primi selections in favor of greens.

C's salad included compressed watermelon and pea shoots. Every bite included a new texture and flavor.

My salad of quail egg toads-in-the-hole (which were set in a luscious, buttery toast), pecorino, and lemon-accented arugula was so simple, yet so refined.

I know this makes me the obnoxious American, but you know the age-old adage that proper Italian meals only include pasta as a side course. I think it's rubbish. Every time I attempt to apply this principle, I'm disappointed in the proteins and left wanting more carbo-licous goodness. So no more. From now on, if I want pasta, I'm ordering pasta, no matter how refined the Italian establishment. Fiola's noodles are prime examples of why I have no intention of abandoning my principle any time soon.

C ordered the off-the menu spaghetti Bolognese (b/c he’s a spaghetti and meatballs kind of guy). This photo does not do justice to the rich, deep flavor of the dish. It was a pasta right up C's alley.

I ordered the mushroom pappardelle, with creminis, porcinis, button, and several others of which I don’t know the name. The tender chickpea noodles and complex mushroom flavors lightened what could have been a heavy dish, what with the cream-based sauce. A half serving was more than enough at lunch. 

For dessert, we indulged my donut weakness and went with the bambolini. We munched too quickly for me to grab my camera. I’ve had better fritters, but the peach compote was lovely and paired well with the vanilla cream.

It was a thoroughly satisfying meal, in every facet, even for those that are not all that interested in every facet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Two Parts Hydrogen + One Part Oxygen + One Part Toddler =

Without meaning to, I seem to have raised a city kid. I guess living in a high density area, we are naturally drawn to those toddler haunts that our bustling neighborhood can offer. We love the park, where the vagrants quietly have their afternoon naps right next to the playground equipment. We walk to get Fro-yo and watch the bulldozers and dump trucks working on the construction across the street. We hit up the farmer's market where H loves to get free samples. Yet, part of me yearns to have a yard with a kiddie pool, a quiet street for a pick-up basketball game, the kind of community that only a neighborhood can evoke. While that is still likely part of our future, for now I'm raising a child in the city. Our maybe the city is raising my child. Water being a prime example...

H loves, loves, loves the water. Thus far, however, he loves it in his bathtub and at the neighborhood pool. He'll splash with delight until the bathroom floor is being riveted by his tidal waves. He has nearly dove into the pool from the baby steps far too many times for mommy's fragile nerves. But, get the boy near a beach, and suddenly, my brave little swimmer becomes clingy.

This is him....after a Hawaiian Pizza finally tempted him to take a few steps across the sand (something about the texture, heat, and imbalance had him hating the turf part of our surf getaway). Notice, not the happiest of campers. At least we got him to play with his sand toys - when I took him near the waves, H's screams provoked at least a couple of neighboring families to consider calling CPS.

Don't get me wrong though - there are good parts to raising a city kid who loves the water. Those good parts are called splash fountains. I don't know about your hood, but they are everywhere here (and in a bunch of places we have visited recently as well). For my city kid, the paved kind of water works perfectly well.

Venturing out with daddy....

This looks pretty cool, mom...



Okay, maybe a little too much...

How handsome am I in my swimmer outfit?!

We know what accompanied this - one of H's favorite phrases - "Where did it go?"

Mommy's artistic shot

Daddy and Penny get in on the action...I don't know about this other kid, though.

This is too much fun mom!

It looks like daddy has provisions for a snack break...

Cookies! - Not just cookies, Tiffany MacIsaac cookies!

I'm thirsty too - thanks for sharing your blueberry limeade daddy.

Time for another favorite game!
...and it was too much fun!

Mommy's little city swimmer