the district of columbia

Forgive the cheesy title of this post (it was originally spelled Cool-umbia, ba-dum-dum) but I have been meaning to share some of the highlights of my visit to Washington, D.C. a few weekends ago. 

The purpose of the trip was a mini-reunion with seven friends from college, and I stayed with my friend Stephanie and her boyfriend Rob in their Mount Pleasant apartment.  It was my first time visiting this part of the city and I really liked the vibe.  I passed lots of Hispanic businesses and eateries on the 15 minute walk from the Metro, and the smells and sounds of the neighborhood reminded me a lot of The Mission in San Francisco. The "hola, mami" catcalls, however, were reminiscent of a trip I took to Mexico with the same group of girls about 12 years ago.  On Saturday we got coffee and bagels at this little cafe (where I'm quite sure the most miserable people in the world work - but why??) then we checked out the farmers market.  Here are a few snaps.  Have you ever seen such lovely asparagus?

The last two shots were taken in Stephanie and Rob's apartment, including one of Steph whipping up a delicious cake for our friend's birthday.  Unlike many other cities where I've lived, it's not taboo to live in a basement apartment in D.C.  In fact, all the ones I've seen have been quite nice and have great layouts.  This photo was taken from the entrance to the living room, which was a good 20' x 15' itself. Another bonus of these basement apartments is that they stay much cooler in the sticky summers.

Now, onto the food. On Saturday we had brunch at the Hotel Tabard Inn, and after inhaling a freshly fried donut, I changed gears and opted for a healthy chicken and beluga lentil salad over one of their famous savory breakfast treats. It was so fresh and flavorful, and it photographed quite well, don't you think?

Menu at the Hotel Tabard Inn

Finally, one of the highlights of the weekend was attending a puppy adoption fair with Stephanie on Sunday.  A few minutes after we got there we met this little guy.


Rob came to meet us and spend time with the puppy, then after almost an hour interview with the adoption agency, Stephanie drove me to Virginia where I had to work on Monday.  In the car she received a call to let her know that she and Rob were the proud new owners of the furry fellow above. He's a lab/shepherd mix of some sort, and they named him Rooney.

I'm looking forward to getting back down to D.C. to visit Rooney (and my friends) soon!  Next time I'll blog about some of the great shops I found.  Unfortunately, I lost the notes I took on this last trip.


baked kisses

My affection for Mark Bittman is no secret, and I recently tried a banana bread recipe from his Diner's Journal column in the NYT.

The bread was a bit drier than I normally like it, but the exterior crust was so golden, crunchy and delicious, it's really the perfect bread for toasting and smearing with butter.  Also, the recipe only calls for 3/4 cup sugar, so this will not be the sweetest banana bread you've ever tried.  Just to compare to other banana bread recipes, I did a little research and found one that calls for 2 1/3 cups sugar! Holy hell, that's a lot. But the recipe is from Boston's own Flour Bakery, so I'm sure this would make a decadent treat.  I brought the finished loaf to a BBQ.

Even though Mark says that this is meant to be a bread not a cake, the next time I make it I'm going to add more banana or possibly a little vegetable oil or buttermilk to add some more moisture. The coconut adds a really nice "what's that?" flavor, and I'm looking forward to using this secret ingredient in other baked goods.

The recipe can be found here.

beantown sunset

Behold the Boston skyline as viewed from the roof of my friends Louisa and John's apartment in the South End.  Damn, I'm lucky to live in this city!

two old soles

1998 - 2010          ~  R.I.P.  ~         1997 - 2010

Have you ever heard a story of an elderly couple, so in love, that when one dies, the other follows so closely thereafter it's as if they couldn't live without one another?

I bought my first pair of Pumas (the dark green Californias) heading into my Freshman year of college, and the blue and white pair the following summer. I think these shoes were made for my feet, and if you've ever owned a pair you'll agree that they are remarkably comfortable.

A few weeks ago I tripped on something while wearing the blue ones, and looked down to find a chunk of my sneaker sole on the sidewalk. A BIG chunk. A few hours later I had resorted to tearing off the rest of the sole because it threatened to cause a major accident. I felt like I was amputating a relative's leg. Then yesterday I reached for the original greens and found that their soles remained on the floor when I lifted them... sadly, they too, had passed on.

Before I send them off to sneaker heaven a.k.a. my trash pile, I wanted to document them together one last time. While those are indeed Band Aids holding them together, these puppies covered a lot of ground with me over the years and they will be missed.

cheeky spring colors

My mother snipped these beauties from her yard recently.  For a few short days they filled my apartment with such a lovely smell, confirming that spring really has arrived.

Then, as if I needed further proof of how smart the buyers at my favorite lingerie store are, I returned from a trip with these colorful undies.  Whether or not I was aware of the impact the lilacs had had on my subconscious, I would say that these reflect the colors of the season, wouldn't you?

I've got about 20 pairs of these (really), and while they may not last quite as long as their prototype, you really can't beat $20 for 4 pairs of comfy thongs. I can hardly tell the difference, and they come in really great colors and patterns.

Speaking of great finds, here are a few other things I picked up at Target recently that I think are pretty special.

These "greennotes" notebooks are slim and small with a pretty Greek key motif. They come in a pack of three for about $5, and I brought one to work and left another one in my car (where I always seem to be looking for something to write on).

Then, perhaps the best Target score of my life, the $9.99 Liberty of London Violet Fig Jar Candle.

Is this not a gorgeous candle? It only took me a second to recognize the scent, and I mean it when I say that it smells identical to the Jo Malone Wild Fig & Cassis Home Candle that retails for an unreachable $65.

I think I'll take my Target candle! I bought two at the store, then, in a move I must have inherited from my mother, ordered three more online. I now have a nice Violet Fig candle stockpile that should last me quite a while.