Friend Weekend Part 1

After a very long week that involved:

  • on the verge of being sick
  • lots going on at work
  • no running whatsoever
  • no real meals, except for Thursday night

I was very ready for the weekend. And I was very excited because my friend and bridesmaid Ange was in town!

Thursday night I came home from work and took a quick nap before making dinner – honey roasted carrots, steamed broccoli and basil pasta.  While honey roasted carrots may sound fancy, they were incredibly easy.  I sliced the carrots in half lengthwise (and in some cases quartered), tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then drizzle them with honey.  Throw them in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes and poof!  honey roasted carrots.

Friday I worked late, ran to the grocery store, came home, cleaned the house (although my fabulous fiancé Ben had already cleaned most of it already), took a quick nap, and then Ange was here!  When she arrived I threw some baked brie in the oven and we chatted for a bit. We watched some movie Friday night, but I slept through it.

Saturday we woke up, hung out a bit and then headed down to Old Town Alexandria to explore.  I wish I had brought my camera because it was soo pretty!  We ate at a little Italian place on King street.  I got the Lobster Risotto, which was to die for.  Everything else was just so-so.  We then watched Shutter Island – which I thought was really good – and The Proposal – which was as much as you can expect from a Sandra Bullock rom-com.

Today, we dropped Ange off at the bus and explored downtown a bit.  We ran into this awesome froyo shop.  It had 16 different flavors and you could serve yourself.  They let you taste all the flavors, and then you create you treat – from the flavors to the amount to the toppings.  You then pay by weight.  I got red velvet ice cream (SO GOOD) with white chocolate chips, peanutbutter ice cream with crushed peanutbutter cups, and cookies and creme soft serve.  Then I put hot fudge over all of it.  Fantastic!

Now I’m taking a break from doing work by watching Meet the Morgans.  Back to work for me!

 

 

 

 

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The weekend of the Groupon…

Happy Sunday!  I hope everyone is enjoying the Sunday football game.  Ben and I are sitting watching the Bears/Packers game.  I think I’m rooting for the Packers, cause then at least my Eagles lost to the team that went on to the Super Bowl.

On Thursday, Ben and I realized that we had two LivingSocial coupons for The Madhatter that expired in early February.  We decided to use one Thursday night.  We ordered some of their happy hour specials (I stuck with Bud Light, whereas Ben enjoyed some Bud Light and some Jack and Diets).  We also ordered a TON of food:

  • goat cheese pizzette
  • fried calamari
  • Madhatter Classic – burger with applewood-smoked bacon and cheddar (me)
  • Ribeye Steak Sandwich- Caramelized onion, melted provolone, pesto aioli,
    and horseradish mayo (Ben)

The calamari was only so-so.  It came out kinda cold and a bit tough.  I’ve had it there before, and it was fantastic, so I’m going to just chalk it up on one bad dish.  My burger was really good, and Ben enjoyed his sandwich as well.

On Friday, Ben’s mom flew into town.  We had dinner at Kora – a great restaurant in Crystal City.  We each got a flight of wine (Riesling, Merlot and Chardonnay) and we all split the prosciutto and shrimp pizza and the BBQ short-ribs pizza.  Two VERY different flavors, but both were fantastic.

Saturday, we woke up and used a Groupon to go to the Newseum.  I’ve been before, but Ben and his mom had never been.  Being in PR, I’m really fascinated in how they show (1) how the media has changed through the years and (2) how media has portrayed various events in history.  I think they have a really well done video about media and 9-11.

Piece of the Berlin Wall from Newseum DCBerlin Wall at the Newseum


US Capitol from Newseum DC

U.S. Capitol from the Newseum deck

We then hopped in a cab and headed BACK to the Madhatter to use LivingSocial deal number two.  We watched the Duke game while enjoying dinner.  Again, we got the fried calamari (much better this time).  I got the same burger again – very good. We had the same waiter from Thursday, which was nice.  I wish I knew his name so I could give him a shout out, because he was great.

After dinner, Mrs. B and I walked from Dupont to Georgetown to use yet ANOTHER Groupon.  Last year, Ben bought his mom and I a massage from M3.  The Groupon was for a Swedish or a Sports massage.  We both went with the Swedish.  I would definitely recommend M3 to anyone looking for an affordable massage in D.C.

The spa is on the second and third level of a townhouse right on M street.  You go one flight of stairs and check in at a very calming, clean-looking lobby.  They offer water and tea to customers, and have lots of space to sit and wait.  They also sell some skincare products.  It wasn’t a brand I recognized.  My masseuse came and picked me up from the waiting area and took me to a small room on the third floor.  He brought out a Tupperware container that I could keep my clothes in, which I liked.  Overall, he did a great job with the massage.  At points, I thought he could have used a bit more lotion, but  think that’s just because I like to drown my skin in lotion.  When I asked for more pressure, he adjusted appropriately and went out of his way to make sure I was relaxed and enjoying my experience.

M3 Massage roomphoto credit

In case you’re curious, M3 generally charges $80 for an hour massage.  I think that’s a pretty good price, especially here in D.C.  I usually think an hour massage will be at least $100.

This morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and sat and chatted for a bit about wedding stuff.  The three of us then headed to the gym.  Today’s run wasn’t terrible when you look at time and distance.  However, it felt really tough.  Its crazy how much of running in mental.  When I’m having a great day, my runs tend to feel better than days when I’m frustrated.

But all in all, two and a half miles in 25 minutes isn’t bad (and that includes a two-minute warm-up and a two-minute cool down).  I then did 5-10 minutes of yoga and one set of arm weights.  We came back, showered, and sent Mrs. B on her way back to South Carolina.

So we had quite a busy weekend.  But when as was said and done, we used six Groupons/LivingSocial deals.  We were actually supposed to use a 7th today for lunch, but we ran out of time.

YAY for Groupons!

Stew Time!

On Monday, Ben and I FINALLY got rid of our Christmas tree.  As sad as I am to see it go, it certainly makes our apartment feel a lot bigger without it!

But the most exciting part was my first attempt at home-made stew!  Somehow, I am 25 years old, and I had never made stew from scratch.

Beef Stew adopted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.  AKA my cooking bible

makes 4-6 servings

  • slightly more than one pound of stew meat (I just put the whole package in.  It’s not an exact science)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups carrots, chopped
  • two stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 small-to-medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped/minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • one can of 99 percent fat-free beef broth
  1. In a medium size stew pot (I used my new cherry red Le Cruset), add enough vegetable oil to clearly cover the bottom of the pan.  Bring the oil to a simmer.
  2. Brown all of the meat in the oil (if you need to add more oil as you work, that’s fine.  I just kept it so there was constantly oil covered the bottom of the pan).  Depending how wide your pan is, you may not be able to brown all of your meat at once, that’s fine as well.
  3. Remove all the meat once browned and put aside.  In the oil, add the garlic and onions and allow them to cook in the oil.  Cook until the onions are translucent – I think it took about 10 minutes for mine to cook.
  4. Add flour to mixture.
  5. Add the meat back into the pot, as well as the can of beef broth and 1/2 cup of water.  Add salt, pepper and basil per your liking.  (sorry, I didn’t measure).  Bring the mixture to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Taste broth, consider adding any more seasoning as necessary.
  7. Add potatoes, celery, carrots.  Bring mixture to a boil, then bring it back down to a “high simmer”.  Cover and let it cook for another 30 minutes.

ENJOY!  Sorry I was a bit of a failure and didn’t take any pictures, but trust me it was great.  And it was just as good the next day!  The stew was very hearty – if you prefer to have your stew last more than 4-6 servings or like more gravy in your stew, I would recommend adding two cans of beef brother and a cup of water.

 

I’m debating taking a bath right now while Benjamin watches the Duke game.  Last night at the gym, I was having such a great run that I decided it would be a wonderful idea to push my limits.  Lately, I’ve been sticking with 25-30 minute runs, which usually come out to be somewhere in the 2.5 mile range.  Last night, I pushed myself on distance (3.3 miles), time  (35 minutes), and speed (I actually had a 9:35 mile in there.  That’s fast for me).  Not so smart, and my legs are a bit tight now.  Considering I pushed all three, I guess I shouldn’t complain that I’m only a little sore.  Note to self: pushing all three limits is how people get hurt.  Chillax.  Although secretly I just want to go back to the gym and see if I can do it again!

Church, Football and Laundry…Must be Sunday

After a fairly lazy Saturday, Ben and I had a slightly less lazy Sunday.

We woke up and went to church down the street.  Ben and I have really had some trouble finding a church here that we like.  When we first moved to D.C., we started going to a Catholic church on Capital Hill that we were starting to really like.  It had one pastor that we both loved – Father Bill.  However, we quickly learned that not all the pastors there were as great as Father Bill.  The other pastors were a bit to “political preachy” as we used to say.

Fortunately, we realized this just as we moved to Virginia.  So we tried a variety of churches in NoVa, both Catholic and Methodist.  None seemed to really fit.  We gave another shot to the Methodist church that is down the street from our apartment again this morning.  Ben didn’t like it at all, but I liked it a smidge better than the previous service we attended there.  I think next week we may try the catholic church that is a bit further down the road.  Since we were both raised religious, we are hoping that we can find a church we are both happy with.  And we are both open to seeing what our options are.

After church, we made a Sunday run to Target.  We went to buy a Tupperware container to store our Christmas ornaments in, and we ended up doing a full grocery run and bought a side table for next to our couch.

target side table
not our actual side table, but the closest thing I could find on target.com

We came home and I made a FANTASTIC pizza. I used garlic naan as the base, and then added apples (1 small apple), caramelized onions, bacon, grilled chicken, mozzarella and sharp cheese.  I put it in the oven at 300 for about 5 minutes, and then broiled the pizza to make the cheese melty and crispy.  It was awesome!

Now I’m doing laundry and watching the Pats/Jets game.  I’m so apathetic about the outcome of this game.  But its a good game nevertheless. I’m also looking up recipes for stew.  I got a fancy Le Cruset stockpot for Christmas, so I’m excited to make a stew in it.

Le Cruset Stockpot Cherry Red

I’ve never made stew before.  However, I’m reading lots of recipes and I’m pretty confident that tomorrow I’ll be able to create my own recipe.  I’ll remember to take pictures and put everything up here on the blog…providing it turns out.

 

Do you have any stew tips?  What’s your favorite ingredient to add to stew?

 

Oops. I call a re-do!

So I completely fell off the wagon this week.  Ya know how I haven’t blogged this week, I also completely skipped out on working out.

Monday morning Ben went to work at like 5:30 in the morning.  Being wide awake, I did a workout video on the TV.  I feel bad for the people the apartment below me, because there was a lot of jumping involved.  It totally kicked my butt.  I was sore all week (who am I kidding…I’m still a bit sore!).  I didn’t run again until today.  But it was an awesome run.  2.8 miles (including the warm-up and cool down).  It felt great and I was really happy with my times.

Ben and I have been making meals out of what is left in our kitchen since we missed going to the grocery store this week.  For example: pesto gnocchi and pineapple bbq stir fry.

terrible picture. fabulous food.

I know the flavors don’t exactly go together.  But it made us happy. All my other meals weren’t really meals.  Note to self.  GO GROCERY SHOPPING!

Now I’m getting ready to watch the Miss America pageant.  The pageant originated in Atlantic City, which is practically where I grew up.   When I was little, we used to have HUGE sleepovers for the pageant (which was founded as a way to keep people coming to AC after the summer season’s official ending – Labor Day weekend).  We would wear pj dresses, score the contestants, and try to stay up to see the crowning.  It was a big deal.

Turns out a girl I went to school with is in this year’s pageant.  She’s Miss DC!  GOOD LUCK STEPH!  Everyone send Steph good wishes!  Everyone tune in tonight at 9 on ABC!

 

 

Weekend Update

This weekend, Ben’s brother and his wife we in town.  I hadn’t seen each other in a really long time, so it was great to just hang out.

They arrived Friday night, and we enjoyed some fancy beer, snacks and exchanged Christmas presents.  I got a cheese baking dish.  Additionally, they got us the Kodak Playsport video camera.  Its super small, about the size of a cell phone, and it has EXCELLENT quality.  We took a quick video and was about to put it on our 60 inch tv and the quality looked fantastic.  It also can record in HD.  And the best part – its waterproof!  They bought it so we can take it on our honeymoon and capture the whole trip!  Thanks Will & Debbie!!!

Kodak Playsport Camera

Saturday, we woke up and I made french toast casserole.  The recipe is below.  We then went and gave them the tour, showing the various monuments and hot spots around town.  We also showed them the collection of where we have lived during our time in D.C.  We had lunch at Good Stuff, which has quickly become our go-to place to take out of towners during the D.C. tour.  Afterwards, we hung out a bit before heading to Maggie’s improv show.  She did a great job – the girl is a natural at improv!  We came home, ordered wings and watched SNL before going to bed.

Now, I’m waiting for Ben to get home from a run so we can go to CCSP to watch the Eagles game with some friends.

French Toast Casserole

based on Planet Green recipe

  • Butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 loaf Challah bread
  • 3 cups skim milk (the recipe says only 2 cups is necessary if you aren’t letting it sit overnight, but I was)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn splenda (or regular sugar – I used splenda because we were out of sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp liquer of your choice (optional – I didn’t add, but that was because we didn’t have anything on hand)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or almonds (optional – I didn’t add, again because I didn’t have any on hand)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 – 2 tbsp butter
  1. Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. Rip bread apart and arrange bread in two tightly-packed layers in the pan.  If you use raisins or almonds, you can add these to the bread mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and liqueur (if you are using) until well combined.  Pour mixture over bread and sprinkle with cinnamon. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
  5. Serve!

I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately, but it was really good.  I had some of the leftovers today for lunch, and it reheated quite well.

Arnold oatnut bread!

 Happy hump day, yall!

Well today was particularly productive.  After getting home from work at 6:45, I decided I was too hungry to go for a run right away.  I needed something to give me energy, but not weigh me down.  I looked in the fridge/freezer and what did I find…

arnold oatnut bread

I totally forgot that a few weeks ago Harris Teeter was having a great sale on Arnold bread, and we stocked with a ton of loaves in our freezer.  It’s Ben and my favorite bread brand, although we generally only buy it when its on sale.  Of all the styles, the oatnut is absolutely my favorite.  But our store always seems to be out of the oatnut. I decided that some oatnut bread with peanutbutter and bananas would be the perfect pre-run snack. 

When I arrived at the gym, every single treadmill was in use and the only elliptical was the really old crappy one.  Forgetting how terrible it is, I hoped on for 10 minutes before calling it quits  I did a bit of strength training and was about to call it a failed workout, when I looked up and pretty much all the treadmills were open.  So i hopped on with no real goals in mind.  2.5 miles later, I would call today’s workout a definite success. 

In wedding planning news….

Ben and I selected our invites!  It’s funny, we actually chose our invites probably about 3 months ago.  But we were afraid to pull the trigger because “what if something better came along.”  Well, now that we are at our deadline that we need to actually order the invites, we went back to our old favorite.  Although, I think the colors we are thinking for the font has changed, but not dramatically. YAY for wedding progress.  We are also finally got closure on the bar.  We had a bit of a hiccup, but everything is back on smooth sailing.  And once both our parents look at another propsal, we will able to check another box on our list.

Thanks for switching over!

Thanks everyone for switching over to the new link.  I decided to switch to wordpress for a variety of reasons.  I’ve heard it’s a lot better than blogspot, and after playing around with it for a bit, I decided to switch.  I’m still working out some details with the layout and pages.

I hope everyone likes the new setup.  And thanks again for switching over!

So, yesterday Ben and I decided that we were going to go for a run after work.  Well, we got home, changed and looked at each other.  Clearly our wires crossed somewhere, because I was in a tank and shorts and Ben was in long sleeves and pants.  Opps.  I figured it probably wasn’t too cold out (I don’t like running in the cold – my lungs haven’t adjusted yet).  I could ease my lungs into some milder weather.  Plus running outside is more interesting than the treadmill.  So I changed and off we went on a nice outside run.

Oh I’m sorry, did I say nice?  Cause I lied.  It sucked.  It was super cold and I never felt like I could catch my breath.  And my hands were frozen.  We normally run to a spot about 1.5 miles out and then back.  We got half way to the spot and Ben asked if I wanted to turn around.

But not to let the workout go to waste, we turned the return trip into a speed workout.  We’d sprint to a pole, then light wog (jog slash walk) for a bit.  Then sprint some more, and wog some more.  In the end, it turned out to be not a bad workout.

We also really needed to go food shopping.  So last night I pulled together a quite random dinner: eggs and quinoa.  I had never made quinoa before, but it is super easy.  I really liked it.  It makes a great base to a meal (as you would use rice or pasta).  Since I’m trying to cook new foods, and move away from pasta based meals, I consider this a success.

I mixed my quinoa with a dab of olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  It was very tasty.  In fact, I some came with me to work today for lunch!

December goals recap

I know it’s fairly late, but let’s review how I did with December’s goals. 

Get a real Christmas tree and decorate it and the apartment for the holiday season! Check

Make at least one batch of Christmas cookies! – oops.  I never got to do this.  However, I have EATEN a lot of Christmas cookies

Run at least 20 miles throughout the month (including this short week, that’s just 4 miles a week) – I don’t think I quite made 20 miles.  But I definitely tried to run when I could. 

Do at least one hour of yoga each week. Whether its once a week for an hour or six 10-minute sessions, it doesn’t matter.  – FAIL.  I was doing so well for about a week or so.  I did yoga every day.  But then life got busy, and I fell of the wagon.  I’m gonna think like Jane – I did more yoga in December than I did in November.  And I started to remember why I liked yoga to begin with. 

Pack a real lunch at least 3 days per week (throwing a granola bar in my purse and calling that and a bag of chips “lunch” doesn’t count) – I did a really good job with this, up until the last week.  So I didn’t do it for all three weeks, but I still call this a semi win!  Especially since those first three weeks I packed a real lunch for more than just the three days. 

Create a training plan for the upcoming March 8K – Ben and I decided not to do the 8K in March – neither of us love cold weather running quite yet (we’ve been gym rats as of late).  We were afraid to sign up for a race that would require us to do all of the training in the cold. 

Confirm all the loose ends on wedding planning/Plan the honeymoon/Schedule engagement photos – didn’t confirm all of the loose ends, but I did tie up all of the loose ends that I was thinking of when I wrote that bullet.  And I did all that I needed to do for the honeymoon planning.  And I’ve reached out to the photog about the engagement session.  I’ve done most of what I’ve needed to do; I’m waiting on some vendors for a few things. 

So, turns out December was an epic fail.  Like EPIC.  However, given everything going on with work and the holidays and everything, I’m ok with my failure.  It was a REALLY busy month.  And not crossing everything off my list was not because of laziness, forgetfulness, or any other reason.  It was just a busy month.  I also had a lot of my goals that weren’t listed here that I crossed off my list. 

Y2K? Only 11 years late

Why yes, Ben and I did enjoy our time in Richmond, we did experience one hiccup: the hotel.

Mostly, it was a ton of small things.  Nothing was worth complaining over, just annoying.

  • The champaign and strawberries weren’t in our room when we arrived.  When we called down to find out what the deal was, we were told that they “hadn’t gotten to all the rooms yet,” but it would arrive that evening.  Knowing that we wanted to leave the hotel by 8, we asked for it to arrive at 6:30.  It actually arrived slightly after 6:45. 
  • As a member of Omni’s Select Guest program, we receive two complementary beverages each morning.  On Saturday morning, again, the beverages arrived a bit late. 
  • The toilet in our room wasn’t working properly upon check in. 

After celebrating the new year, we were excited to get back to our room and relax.  However, at midnight, something happened with the hotel’s door lock software, and every guest was locked out of their room.  After they tried to re-program our keys three times, they realized it was a major software error and they would need to go around and manually let each guest into their room with the master-key. After about an hour of waiting, a frantic hotel employee finally reached our floor and let us into our room. 

In the morning, a letter was slipped under our door explaining the situation.  A few hours later, a follow-up letter arrived saying that due to the software problem, the hotel would not be offering housekeeping that day, unless you call and specifically ask. 

I had a few problems with the way this was handled:

  • While it was happening, the guy at the front desk made no apology and was very short with the guests.  I understand that the situation was not his fault, and many guests were probably taking their anger out on him.  However, at this point, he was the face of the company and he was not being kind to the masses of guests who were locked out of their room. 
  • I’m not sure I fully understand why they were unable to offer housekeeping after the software breakdown.  At that point, the software program was working again, and guests were able to enter their rooms with a re-programmed keys.  The master keys housekeeping uses surely should be working as well.
  • In neither of the two letters did the Director of Rooms apologize to guests.  There was no apology or “we’re sorry for the inconvenience.”   If it were my hotel, the first thing I would have done was offer the guests an apology.   
  • When Ben went to discuss the incident with the front desk the next morning, the day manager was very defensive about the situation.  While discussing issues with her she kept saying things like, “well there is no way we could have predicted this” and “there was no way we could have known to try to prevent this from happening.”  Ben finally looked at her and noted that the guests hadn’t been offered an apology yet.  The look on the woman’s face was of pure shock – I couldn’t tell if she was shocked that we actually wanted an apology or if she was just realizing that the hotel had never offered one.  However, her response was, “well the letters were written as the chaos of last night was happening.  They were written in jest.”  Ben and I just stared at her.  Then she realized that she should probably offer an apology to the guests standing in front of her. 

In the end, the hotel did offer us a complimentary breakfast buffet for Sunday morning and give us a 25 percent discount on the room for the first night.  It was a nice peace offering in the end.  However,  I was very disappointed that this hotel did not live up to the “Omni experience” we received in both Boston and Austin.