Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Local Resturants Part 3. The Berkeley Hotel Thanksgiving

We made our yearly thanksgiving reservations again this year, and since we had plans in Richmond Friday, we decided to go with a restaurant there. So I looked around to find something that had a bunch of options for us and made our reservation at the Dining Room at the Berkeley Hotel.

They still have their menu up from Thanksgiving so at least for now you can take a peak here. http://www.berkeleyhotel.com/pdfs/thanksgiving2013.pdf

No pictures again... I fail at food blogging. Sorry- ill add some stock photos to jazz things up a bit.

Amuse Bouche- Broiled Brie, beet puree, walnut.- I'm not a huge fan of brie, I avoid it when I can. That being said other than the proportions of brie/beet/walnut. it wasn't bad. The piece of brie was overly large, and the walnut was just that- a full piece of walnut- which made it an awkward bite. The beets were nice and sweet to go with the salty cheese.
Appetizers- I got the Purple potato croquettes. Which let me tell you was amazing! It is SO fun to cut into a fried ball of potato to see that it is bright purple! The Mornay sauce with Harvati was so good- especially combined all together with the croquette and the country ham which they sliced super thin and fried up like bacon. Savory and salty and so full of flavor. MBM got (of no surprise) the cold smoked salmon. He loved it- I didn't try it since Im not a fan of salmon. But I did try the haricots verts that came with it as a side. WOW. Lemon and dill on cold green beans- they were fantastic. The kind of thing you want to eat as a snack like potato chips!

Salad- Candied ginger, almonds, champagne vinaigrette. Lackluster at best. The candied ginger was great, I love the sweetness followed by that spicy ginger bite. My biggest gripe was there was little to no dressing on the salad. And I LOVE champagne vinaigrette so I was very disappointed.
Entrees- I had the smoked pork tenderloin with fingerling sweet potatoes, roasted haricot verts and cranberries. Firstly, Im not a fan of sweet potatoes- and these had no sugar added as many of our families do with brown sugar and/or marshmallows. But they were ok. I certainly ate most of them- provided they were coated with a bit a salt first. The green beans (different from the ones in the appetizer) but were still very good, fresh and cooked perfectly to still have that little bit of crunch. The pork tenderloin was definitely the star of the plate. Smoky and more tender than any pork loin Ive ever had. MBM had Orange and Pepper rubbed lamb with acorn squash risotto. The flavors of the risotto and the orange/pepper I found to be muted a bit by the cranberry demi-glace, but everything was still very good, and the lamb was delicious.
Dessert- For me- pumpkin creme brulee with more of the candied ginger. For MBM- apple butter chess pie. The creme brulee was so good. I love pumpkin pie- and this was like a creamier version minus the crust plus that nice caramelized sugar crunch on top and the spice of the ginger. 

The Friday after Thanksgiving was dinner with MBMs family. His Mom, Grandmother, 7 of the 8 kids (we were missing one who is off at college) plus family friends M&C who are also in our wedding, and the next eldest brother's girlfriend and her mother and step-father (who incidentally doesnt speak english). Makes for a very large but very fun group.
MBM and the next eldest brother dont always get along well. But it was a pleasant weekend, and it was nice to get to know his girlfriend who is very nice- especially since I heard from a little bird that I am likely to soon have another sister-in-law.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things I Love: Books

I absolutely cannot contain my excitement!

This Saturday is my yearly 90% off BOOK SALE!!

So there is a book publisher in my hometown. And every year they have a huge sale. But its invitation only. Luckily my mother works for the public school system in the county- and of course School Teachers and Administrators are at the top of the list for admission tickets. And since my mom knows everyone in the school system (shes worked multiple jobs in the system for 25ish years) people will grab up extra tickets from people who dont want them or are going to be out of town to give them to my mom for her and for me! (Because since they all know her- they also all know me and Love me of course because how could you not!? lol).
So every year we stand in the cold for 30 mins or so and then the craziness begins! Its the one time a year when I willingly deal with obnoxious people and large crowds. Luckily I am also quite petite- so instead of standing in a line and working through the tables like everyone else and being held up by slowpokes- i can jump in and out of the line and get through much more quickly (MWA HAHAHA!).

It looks something like this only a whole warehouse- except all the people carrying large bags and even suitcases

Its miserable for that hour and a half or so that youre given to go through everything- but Oh So Very Worth It! Think about it- 90% means $2.50-ish for a hardback book! Those are like used book prices on amazon- with the added benefit of no shipping charge! and better than most kindle book prices! Plus $0.50 for kids books and only 1.50-ish for paperbacks! Which means I end up with 15-20 books for somewhere between $30-40!! Serious its like heaven- even with the crowds (and those who know me know I despise crowds). 

MBM may harass me occasionally about having too many clothes or shoes. But never once has he said I have too many books or dont need to buy more- even if I do have about 50+ sitting on my shelves that havent been read yet. Which is yet another reason I love him so much. My goal is to have a library in our house one day. (it can be a library/office if thats my only option). 

My only problem is that I currently dont have enough shelves for anymore books....

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Quick Takes VI

Everywhere! LOL. Everyone I know is having babies, its so very exciting. And I found out this morning that two more friends of mine are pregnant- Including one of my bridesmaids!! KL whose whose wedding MBM and I went to this summer in Detroit is due at the end of April and my bridesmaid JWS is due in May! So they'll be able to commiserate with each other at our wedding in March since they'll be 7 & 6.5 months respectively). I also have a friend who sadly probably wont be able to make it to the wedding because she's in the Netherlands and is due 6 days before our date. My college roommate friend group is now up to baby #6 and two of us havent even started having kids yet!

Finally. Appointment for our caterer tasting is this weekend. We finally got it rescheduled and confirmed. If anything else happens with this I might have my first angry bride moment.

In person. In Blacksburg. Even though I thought I F-ed up the phone interview. fingers and toes crossed, praying and wishing and hoping and all that jazz.

Got to make my very first international phone call this morning. We're trying to order a specific antigen we need for testing next month at work. Talked to a british guy- Gosh I love their accents. Not really news, but Im a nerd and was pretty excited- I had to google how to make an international call lol.

Please Pray for baby Braden.
An acquaintance of mine from college- we both lived on the same floor of our freshman dorm, and at one point she tried to get me to join her sorority. Anyway she and her husband just had their second child- a sweet baby boy. Who after a week at home doing fine suddenly had to be taken to is now in the hospital for problems with his heart. Hes just now probably around 3 weeks old and might have to have a heart transplant. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Quick Takes V

How many months and Ive just now gotten to the 5th of these things? Whatever.

Caterer tasting got pushed back again. UGH Im getting so annoyed with them. Must repeat mantra- I will remain the almost to the point of laziness laid-back bride that I have been for the past 4 months. Second time the caterer has had to change our tasting. First time they screwed up and cooked  us food for a different couple- we got a free dinner out of it though. Then they asked me to rearrange my schedule so we could do it the following weekend and that no matter what- they would make it work because it was their screw up. I did, I emailed them that Tuesday saying we were on for Sunday, they called MBM at the last minute (Friday afternoon) to cancel because they had 5 weddings between Friday and Saturday to cater. Then they tried to reschedule for this weekend- I was not changing my plans for them again though- especially when said plans are our required Pre-Cana engagement conference- which is gonna suck- BUT is MANDATORY by the church for us to get married. So its the following weekend. All I have to say is --If anything happens to this appointment someone is going to get a taste of the rage I usually reserve for DC traffic.

Conference for the Engaged. Catholic engagement conference, in a liberal diocese. Being talked at all day by weird people, while surrounded by weird people all of whom who are fake friendly. An introvert's nightmare. Especially when her fiancee is an Extrovert who 1.  get annoyed when people fake their faith, 2. gets annoyed when people half-ass anything and 3.  actually enjoys speaking out- whether its regaling someone with a story or using his knowledge of classics and literature and faith and manipulation (I mean hell- he's in marketing of course he's good at manipulating people!) to prove that they dont know their head from their ass. Which to me means one thing.... people staring at me and expecting me to talk too. Can someone please find me a dark corner to crawl into?

Im a Lazy Bride. Yep. Ill admit it. Its funny cause I get into the flurries where I get a bunch of stuff done, and once thats complete Im like heck yes! now I can slack off for a couple weeks before I really need to work on anything else! Its like my goal in life- you mean I dont have anything that has to be done except laundry, dishes and going to work!? Score that means I can watch all my DVRed movies and read and be lazy for the rest of the month. OOOPS now I have to be crazy and get a bunch more stuff done in the next week- Procrastination at it's finest. Hence the reason I only got addresses from people the week before save the dates when out. And why my 1st grade BFF and bridesmaid MWH organized all the girls and set up and appointment for us to all go for them to try on dresses. I think part of is the age im at. Im almost 30- the thirties are kinda the age of contentment. Im not a young bride who has unrealistic expectations or an older bride who feels like theyve been waiting for this moment forever. The other part is the introvertedness- I feel awkward asking people to do things for me. Im not used to or really ok with being the center of attention. I maybe lazy- but at least im not a bridezilla!

Job Search takes another twist. So I had an initial interview for the company in Blacksburg yes. I thought I bombed it, but they emailed me yesterday to ask about salary requirements, so maybe I wasnt that bad. But anyway- moving on- because eggs in one basket and cart before the horse and lots more cliches.... We've decided that maybe expanding the job search wouldnt be a bad idea. We Love Virginia. Its been our home for a long time. But MBM has lived in lots of other places, and Ive sorta always wanted to. I also sorta see the DMV (nickname for the DC/MD/VA metro area FYI) taking over- urban sprawl heading further and further south. And I dont want to be any part of it. We had already agreed that I would look in North Carolina for jobs as well- but I think we've decided to expand the search even further- SC and GA as well as the real south- just as long as it's outside of tornado alley- definitely to include parts of TX. (Maybe TN, KY, AL, MS, AR, OK?? We havent really talked about any of that other than those first three specifically). Anyone have any connections in those states for Molecular/Cellular Biology Research??

Life? Do I even have one anymore? My life revolves around working, (occasional hectic) wedding planning, (constant) job searching, and driving between Arlington and Richmond (minimum 5 hours wasted each weekend). At least thats how it seems these days. MBM and I havent been to the movies in ages, or just gone out to a park or a festival or anything of the like thats purely for enjoyment. I think all of this stuff is why im so lazy on those in between days. It also doesnt help that my roommate is practically a hermit- he spends all evening in his room playing video games except the 45 minutes he comes out to cook and eat dinner. I miss having people to talk to! My only interaction with people other than MBM is when I talk to PAL, JC or the boys (our post-docs) and then I always feel guilty because Im wasting time that I should be spending on my work. Ill be happy when MBM and I can settle into a semblance of real life again and have dates with each other and other couples.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Super Quick Update

Job Application Sent 8:00 Monday morning.

Request for phone meeting received 3:00 pm that same Monday.

Phone Meeting 4:30 Tuesday afternoon.



What, Where, When, How, Why, Who?

Associate Scientist with an MS in Genetics, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, etcetera. With 5+ years experience and associated track record of accomplishments (aka-- publications). To do R&D in Process Development. For Intrexon Corporation at the Corporate Research Center- In Blacksburg, Virginia.

Let me say that again. Blacksburg, Virginia.

Not what I was looking for, or where I was looking for it. But pretty darn excited about the possibility. We've already done some preliminary #horsebeforethecart townhouse for rent perusing as well as finding a good traditional Catholic Church we could attend regularly. Our ideal was to be closer to our families in a place that wasnt so expensive to live. This would definitely take care of the latter, with the eventual goal to still be that we could be closer to our families.

Wish me luck, cross your fingers, and keep me in your prayers! Whatever your good luck style is! And Ill leave you with some beautiful images of my home away from home, my beautiful Alma Mater and surrounding countryside. <3

Virginia Tech: Burruss Hall

 The Blue Ridge Mountains

 The Cascades: Giles County, Virginia

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Quick Takes IV

1. Caterer tasting this weekend!
          The big decisions are Seared Tuna versus Crab stuffed Shrimp and Beef Wellington versus Sliced Sirloin with a choice of sauce (Bourbon, Merlot reduction, Mushroom Demi-glace, or Mango salsa) and which 2 sauces to pick for the chicken dish: Mango Salsa, Lemon sauce, Basil hollandaise, SoCo BBQ, Jamaican jerk, Marinara, Teriyaki or Bourbon sauce. It all sounds so good!

2. Save the Dates!
          Went out Wednesday! I'm so excited and can't wait for everyone to see them! Just give us a day or two before seriously perusing the website... its still in progress lol.

3. Pre-Registry planning
          So. M & I have no idea what each other has for our future home together. Meaning we need to put together a list of what we have/ what we need before we can start the fun of registering. Registering being fun... listing all your crap- not so fun. The only thing worse than listing your crap is packing it- which we'll both be doing in the near future as well. 6.5 years in NoVa- lived in 5 different places. Im a pro at this by now- doesnt mean it doesnt suck.

4. Have I mentioned how great is is that Im finally doing BIO stuff at work again instead of just chemistry!
          Chemistry is kinda boring to me.... especially surface chemistry- you sit around alot waiting for things to happen. When you get to the bio part of what im doing its quite a bit more interesting. watching electronic signals based on DNA and protein binding, or when you finally see microparticle binding after spending weeks trying different methods to try and bind together neutravidin, anthrax spores, phage, biotin, microparticles. But even more interesting is the cell work ive been doing. Below- Mesenchymal stem cells grown on the Zinc Selenide.

5. One of my my office mates is going to be on Jeopardy! (Again)
          For anyone who watches this regularly- Keith Whitener was on the most recent Jeopardy tournament of champions. (His second appearance after winning 7x in the regular season). He just told us yesterday that Jeopardy is doing a 'tournament of the decades' to include winners from recent through the 80s. He works in the same group as me here in Chemistry division at NRL!- although he's more of what you think of when someone says theyre a chemist- beakers bubbling and such lol. (Im not a chemist in the slightest misunderstanding of the word).
          Also, one of my former professors from Grad School at Johns Hopkins- Mark Lowenthal is going to be on it as well! Its cool to me because I have a binder full of his lectures and one of his books on intelligence sitting on a shelf in my office!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Choosing a Wedding Photographer

I'm gonna start out by saying- I am completely In Love with our wedding photographer.

But how do you find a photographer that will make you completely comfortable and who will take the best pictures of you in the style you want?

I only talked to one photographer. Once I found Megan Vaughn's site I was dead set on having her photograph our wedding. But how and why?

  • I started out by price shopping.... I know, I know- horrible, horrible, very bad, shame on me.
  • BUT I started out price shopping and knowing that photography was one of the big things I was definitely willing to splurge on. (especially after seeing the 'budget' photographer's pictures from my cousin's wedding).
  • Step 1- decide what style of photography you like, Important note- decide what style you like that will also best reflect you and your fiancee and will best capture the style of your wedding.
        • Megan's got this natural, vintage-y feel to a lot of her pictures, which is perfect for us since we're country kids with more of a traditional outlook on life.
  • Step 2- Read Reviews!! These will give you the best idea of what it will be like to work with this person, and how the experience went for others. Important note- Specifically look for and read any bad reviews (you're gonna have to go searching around the web to find these obviously)- you want and need to know what issues people may have had with this person before hiring them; then you can decide if the reviewers expectations were too high, if the negatives were something that wouldn't bother you, or if the negatives are something important to you and that you should go in another direction.
        • I couldn't find a single bad thing about our photographer anywhere on the web!
  • Step 3- Read their 'About Me' section! Here is where you can start to see if your personalities will mesh!
        • I Loved our photographer's about me. She did a wonderful job of capturing her personality and the dedication she has to her art. She talks about how she loves becoming friends with her couples, how she'll refer to your parents as mom & pop and how shell do whatever it takes to make it your perfect day and get your perfect pictures. Plus she despises onions too just like me! (super important when deciding on a photographer obviously) lol.
  • Step 4- Get opinions from those closest to you- your fiancee, your mother, your maid of honor, whomever you want- but especially your fiancee- you want him to be comfortable with the style and the personality of this person as well. 
        • M was non-committal, he liked her pictures, but I think he was nervous about the whole standing around having lots of pictures of him taken thing so until he experienced it he wouldn't be comfortable with anyone. Plus pictures aren't really that important to him.
  • Step 5- MEET THEM!! 
        • Megan was in Texas after we started emailing, so instead of meeting in person, we set up a Skype date! After she apologized for the deer heads on the wall, we talked wedding details, and I think she was more excited about the wedding than I was by the end of the conversation. But I was super excited and more sure than ever that she was the perfect photographer for us!
Then of course comes the ever important first shoot! Our wedding package included engagement pictures and everything I had read said it was a great way to get to know your photographer and to get comfortable with the way they work.
Megan brought her husband along with the trip, which was great- he spent the afternoon lugging around my purse and the victoria's secret bag that I used to hold my outfit change along with Megan's camera bag. He was a great sport about it and even posed for a couple pictures with 'his bags' which was amazing. He also got a great instagram shot of Megan working.

By the end of the day we were all chatting about food, animals, family- like friends. It was a fantastic experience. AND! M was just as excited about having her photograph our wedding as I had been from the beginning! The very next day she posted a sneak peak online for us and we had the link to our gallery less than a week later!! Here are a couple of my favorites! (So hard to choose favorites- she got so many cute pictures).

I'm so happy I came across her photography site and cant wait to see the amazing job I know she is going to do with our wedding photos!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stressful Monday

I work at the Naval Research Lab in SE Washington DC. We are just a quick couple miles from the Navy yard via I295 (The Anacostia Freeway) or via the Potomac river.

Everytime someone asks me where I work the conversations goes something like:
Person- So where do you work?
Me- I work at the Naval Research Lab.
Person- Oh- at the Navy Yard right? Ive been there once.
Me- No, we're Navy too, but we have our own installation on the south side of Bolling AFB by WASA, where Navy Yard is North and across the river.
Person- But it's like on the same base right?
Me- Sure, Whatever *rolls eyes and walks away*

6 hours of lock-down yesterday. We're quite lucky it was only 6 I think, there was an awful lot of discussion going around about what would happen if we had to spend the night here. Were also quite lucky were a few miles away, we were in relatively low/no danger.

I had just gotten breakfast and had stopped to talk to PAL in my old department when we got the email news about a shooting at the Navy Yard. It was 9:30 when we they called for a complete restriction of all movement on/off or around the base. (a full hour after it started- Long enough that someone could have gotten to our base from there easily before the lock-down started). So I was stuck across base from my desk- but luckily had my phone to notify people I was there and safe. Around lunch I finally made the call and ran back to my desk through the completely empty base (If I ever wanted to leave I had to be there to get my keys and my truck!).

It was a stressful day to be sure. I had a couple things that had to get done yesterday will the cells I grow for experiments, which is nerve racking because you have to sit at a biological safety hood which faces against the back wall with your back towards the door- which has a big window in it as well. I definitely kept looking behind me everytime I heard a noise, and had planned my hiding place and escape route from the lab if it turned out to be needed. When the Captain addressed the lab and said they were making exit plans hopefully starting around 2-3pm. We got the email at 2:51 that the gate was open for egress only, and alot of people practically ran to their cars (I maintained a very quick walk lol). It was a relief, a long day was finally at an end, and plus I could finally get something to eat- minimizing being outside and especially near the gates/fences on base meant I couldnt get any food. (lucky I had actually eaten breakfast).

The last time something like this impacted me it was alot more emotional, but I was actually alot more distant from the events. April 16th 2007, is a date that will always be forefront in my mind. It will always evoke tears. On that day my alma mater, Virginia Tech lost 32 bright and innocent students to a shooter. They were on lockdown for a much longer period, but I wasnt there. I was safe in Fredericksburg VA. over 4 hours away from the place that had become my other home.
I got a sense on what those students went through being on lockdown and not knowing what was going on and if they were in danger yesterday. But other than an extremely poor night of sleep I havent felt that affected. Maybe its because I dont know any of those people like I did with the shooting at Tech, maybe because DC is not a close knit community because there are so many people in so many different stages of their lives. Maybe its because instances like this are unfortunately quite commonplace these days. And Maybe most of all, maybe its because everyone I know was safely away from the events unfolding, even if I myself was in any sort of danger no matter how minimal, everyone I love was safe, and I could deal with being in a small bit of danger, because I had already been through worse by having the barrels of two guns against my head- as long as I knew everyone else in my life was safe.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those whose loved ones were not safe, for those who died, those who lost someone, and those who spent their days cowered beneath a desk, not knowing if they were safe.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Quick Takes III

Look! I'm actually writing one of these things on a Friday!!
(Cause furloughs are over so I have to work these days again- Yay/Boo/IDK).

1. 4Runner!
Yep we did it. We bought me a new car last Saturday. A 2011 Toyota 4Runner. Shes huge compared to my VW, but Shes so pretty- Im thinking about naming her Persephone; M always jokes around around and calls me "Calliope, Goddess of the Storm Chariot"- so I thought I should give her the name of a Greek Goddess. My brother and I were laughing cause we both now have toyotas... and they're the same color. M is in LOVE with it. I think he was more excited about me buying it, and to show it off to everyone than I was.

2.  Caterer and DJ
More wedding vendor shopping this weekend! We've found a Caterer that can do exactly what we want for the rehearsal and reception within our price range, we just have to meet with them and make sure they match up with our expectations. Same with the DJ- gotta make sure his style meshes with our own and that he can fit well with the type of music we want and the style of our event. As long as everything goes well Sunday it means I've really only got the florist left in terms of vendors to hire! So excited that the big stuff is finally coming together and soon we can focus on the fun little details!

3. Mothers
Our mothers are driving us crazy. They're trying to figure out what to wear for the wedding, but keep asking us what the other person is wearing. His mom doesn't want to step on my mom's toes by being dressed fancier, but my mom wants them to be dressed similarly in terms of formality so she wants to know what his mom is thinking about wearing. UGH!

A Typical Conversation:
"should I wear this one, or that one?
I have a grey one, but should I match the bridal party a little or not? 
I don't want to look TOO different ... if I don't match.
is green ok?"

So yea. Driving Us Crazy! Seriously- How do you people handle your mothers!? Or were you lucky and just had nice normal decisive/opinionated women in your family!?

4. Engagement Pictures!
Next Friday! So excited to work with Megan Vaughn to do our pictures. The one thing we have planned is to do some pictures while playing pool. Like These beautiful pictures by Jason Kaczorowski.
Other than that.... Maybe some pictures on a patio, or with some cool city scapes? Megan sent me this yesterday- which is gorgeous. I have no idea where in the city it is though... Although M is more familiar with Richmond so maybe he does.

5. Chapel Veils
So I bought my first chapel veil and received it in the mail a couple days ago. Its beautiful burgundy lace with dots and a nice floral-ish (but not too floral) border. Handmade by a lovely woman in Canada.

We attend the Latin version of the Mass (aka Tridentine) at either Saint John the Beloved in McLean VA or Saint Josephs in Richmond VA, and the large majority of women at both Parishes from young girls to teenagers to women and mothers all the way to the elderly wear chapel veils for Mass. It is traditional for women to veil because their hair is something of vanity, and in the presence of God our focus should be on Him instead of how we look. Im really nervous about wearing it though. Are people going to say something about it or ask me why i suddenly decided to wear one? Are they going to think its weird cause the large majority wear white or black?
I guess the truth of the matter is that I shouldnt care. Most women in our parishes wear them, and everything Ive read says they do actually make you feel more reverent and more focused on the Liturgy. So nerves or not, I am going to start wearing a veil to Mass starting this Sunday. 

Kinda funny that I was considering not wearing a veil for my wedding- considering we're having a full Mass, but wanted to start wearing one for Sunday Mass. (I have since decided I am going to wear one for the wedding).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Being an Adult: Cars

So Ive always liked cars. I enjoy speeding and windy roads and lots of wind in your face.
Hence the fact that for the last 6 years I have owned sports cars.

After a boring high school and college lethargy in old 4 cylinder sedans with lots of miles I finally got to upgrade as a college graduation present!
My choices were a "new" used car, or I take my mothers car and she got a new car. I went with option 2 because well- my mother drove an adorable 2.5 door sporty looking 2002 Saturn SC1.
SO pretty!

Well tragedy befell my pretty little car on the Memorial day Holiday of 2009 less than 3 years after I official took possession.
So I took that opportunity to advance my fast and fun obsession. I could finally afford to buy myself something decently nice and I ran with it. All the way to my first choice (In my opinion the only choice). A hard-top convertible with a nice little 2.0L turbo. My Beautiful Roxie the 2007 Volkswagen Eos.

I Love my VW*. I even managed to pay her off a year and a half early.
* I love her when shes not having issues, being involved in hit-and-runs or being stolen.

MBM and I are getting Married early next year. And we want kids. Since we'll be 30 and 31 the month after we get married, were not really gonna wait all that long to start. And while I joke that Ill have to put the top down on my convertible to get a car seat into it, reviews online say they dont fit correctly or safely in the back seat because of the design. And VW wants me to put almost $2K into this car within 6 months.

So it seems my sports car days may need to be over for the meantime? Being an adult apparently means having a car that you can fit children in safely (and that would be a little safer if God forbid I had a major accident).
Good thing I also like Trucks and SUVs. I can justify giving up the convertible- but not the speed. Goodbye Turbo (and the premium gas and synthetic oil you require) Hello V6!

Car shopping starts this afternoon! Any Advice??

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Local Restaurants- Part 2. Palladio + Our Engagement

Palladio Restaurant is part of Barboursville Vineyard in Barboursville Virginia. The restaurant being named after Andrea Palladio who greatly influenced the design of the family's estate. Set in idyllic central Virginia and surrounded by lush rolling hills it makes for a beautiful peaceful get away. I'm lucky to say I grew up in the same county that plays host to this beautiful locale along with many others such as President James Madison's Montpelier and The Inn at Willow Grove.

June 21st 2013. MBM and I had planned to each take off a half day and meet in Fredericksburg VA, we had tickets to a dinner theater that he had bought me for my birthday back in April. Earlier that week he asked me if I could take the whole day off, and we'd make a day off it and head to the vineyard for wine tasting and lunch and a nice walk around the ruins. I had an inkling something was up, but dismissed it because he had been talking about not having alot of savings recently, so he must have just wanted to go all out for my late birthday celebration.
Our reservation was for noon (the earliest they open for lunch) so we showed up around 11 and got started with the wine tasting. (we figured that was the best idea since we still had to drive 20 minutes back to my parents and then 30 more to the theater). We only got through the whites and blush but even with that- he found a favorite in the Sauvignon blanc and I found two that I loved: A lightly oaked Chardonnay- I usually hate oaky chardonnay but this was beautiful; just a hint of that warmth from the wood in a wonderfully light wine, and the Blush- which is unlike any blush I've ever had; a warm, dry more red taste rather than the overly sweet taste of most wines in this category. But alas we never got to the reds. It was time for our lunch reservation. (we plan to go back in the near future to finish our tasting).
We decided to go all out and get the four-course lunch, the hard part was deciding what to get for each course. We ordered a bottle of MBMs favorite Sauvignon Blanc and were surprised with a glass of their new Brut to start. Apparently theyre not allowed to call it Champagne because they do not use typical grapes from the Champagne province in France. I have to say I have NEVER liked champagne unless it was served in a mimosa or a bellini until I tasted their Brut. I don't even know how to describe it other than just saying its light and bubbly and delicious! 

I apologize for not remembering all of what MBM had for lunch. Ill include my dishes and what I remember of his though.

Appetizer: Me- Seared Sea Scallops with Fava Bean Puree, Honey and Microgreens. My scallops were cooked perfectly with not a grain of sand to be found and a beautiful rich seafood flavor, the only bit of crunch came from the microgreens that were surprisingly peppery and contrasted nicely with the honey and fava bean. My first time eating both fava beans and microgreens- big thumbs up to both. Him- Assorted Charcurterie with accompanying condiments. He couldn't stop raving about the meats; three types of prosciutto and two types of pate including beef, duck and pork- each with its own condiment ranging from from infused mustard to apricot preserves.

First Course: Me- Potato Gnocchi with Braised Goat and Cheese Crisps. Oh My gosh- Goat is my new favorite meat. Another thing I had never had before I decided to take a chance. It. Was. Amazing. A little gamey (which personally I like) and incredibly tender- the broth warmed your soul and the gnocchi were perfect little pillows of potato which contrasted beautifully with the crisps.The only downside was picking out diced pickled red onion because of my intense hatred of onion, but it did not detract from my love of the dish at all.

Second Course: Me- Pork Cheeks in Gravy with Pea Puree and Caramelized Carrots, Topped with Crispy Potato Straws. As I told MBM, those potato straws need to be patented and sold in stores everywhere. They're like potato chips but like a billion times better! Never before had I eaten something that sounded as weird as Pork Cheeks. But I am so glad I was taking chances this day- they are all the things you love about pork but better. They are beyond tender- in the way that a well cooked Pot Roast is tender, it just falls apart with your fork. If you could manage to get a bit of everything onto your fork for a bite, it was pure heaven. (Well I don't know about with the carrots... I don't like carrots either).

Dessert: Tiramisu. Me- When tiramisu is on the menu- is there any other choice!? Coffee and Cocoa powder and marscapone with dollops of vanilla and raspberry sauce on the plate to dab each bit into. Beautiful, and with the ability to make the taste slightly different from one to the next, Love. Him- Creme Brulee with Madeleines and coffee. Creme Brulee is his go to dessert as much as mine is Tiramisu. He said it was fantastic- creamy with the perfect bit of crunch from the caramelized top.

After lunch we went for a walk up to the ruins of the old Barbour family mansion and then through the field and woods behind it (Star marks the spot!!). It was then that he started rambling. Talking about everything we've done together over the past year and a half plus. He was quite nervous which was cute, and I finally clued in that I had been right in the beginning- something was up! When he dropped down to one knee I was shocked and overwhelmed by emotion. Maybe it's cliche but I couldn't help it- one hand flew to cover my mouth as it hung open in disbelief and the tears began to well up in my eyes. I didn't start crying right away- because I was giggling slightly at his inability to get the ring out of his pocket. Following that was an enthusiastic yes, and a good deal of hugging and kissing, and of course staring at my ring in happiness and shock. He did a wonderful job surprising me and the ring is exactly what I wanted. I am blessed to have him as my fiance and to be planning a life with the most wonderful man I have ever met.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Friday Quick Takes II

Yes I know it's not Friday. and just because its popular at the moment--

Yes I know I havent done one of these in a LONG time.

So to make up for it- Im sharing all the exciting things I am going to be doing Friday which are going to make it impossible to write this on that date. (Not to mention the fact that Im not working Fridays anymore thanks to government sequestration so I dont have time to blow at work by writing a blog post).

In order of least to most exciting plans for #furloughfriday

1. Finishing my Marriage Autobiography for Wedding Prep
Ugh. just need to get it done, but seriously some of the questions are so blah. I mean seriously- "describe each member of your family"?? Do you mean physically/ mentally/ emotionally/ behaviorally or just how I feel about them? Or all of the above- because seriously that could take all day in and of itself!

2. Checking out one final place as a possibility for our reception venue.
So the deal is.... we LOVE one place, BUT-- Ducks Unlimited is apparently wanting to use it for the annual company party and they wanted our date and changed their mind and wanted the date after but now think they might want to change back. Unfortunately for us- they have Dibs. (B/c apparently thats a thing in the world of venues?? WTF!?). The woman who works there plans on trying to appeal to their good nature by telling them about the sweet couple who really want to get married on that date because it is the Bride's deceased Grandmother's Birthday (True Story, my YiaYia was born March 1st 1930). So cross your fingers and say a prayer for us! In the mean time we're checking out one more place just in case. Sounds nice from online- wood flooring and huge windows all around, not to mention super convenient to the church and MBMs mom's house for staging/prep, but its still kinda in Richmond- and I really liked the other place cause it's outside of the city and more country like us.
The Bon Air Community Association

3. Figuring out our Guest Book.
I ran across a deal online this morning. Free 20pg 9x11 picture book from Shutterfly- just pay shipping and handling! So I thought hm- we're not gonna have engagement pictures done in time for the August 4th expiration of the deal so how can I work this out to get us an awesome guest book. 
Lightbulb! Get pictures from all of the places that are meaningful to our relationship and have those as the images in the album along with a little description of what they are/ mean to us. Then we can have people sign the book on the page with the picture that best represents their relationship with us!
I.E. Scott Stadium; Charlottesville VA: Where We Met (Hokies vs Hoos 2011)

4. Talking on the phone with our potential (almost definite) Photographer.
Ive been emailing her back and forth for half the week, and shes so cute! I think she gets almost as excited about the weddings she shoots as the couple getting married! My favorite part of her about me on her website:
Some things you need to know about me as a wedding photographer:

4. I hug everyone.
5. When you’re pronounced, I’ll probably cry. Especially if you’re crying. And if the groom is crying, I’m definitely crying.
6. I’ll steal some cake.
7. I’ll call your mom, momma and your dad, pops.
I Love her pictures too lol.

And Last but certainly not least.......

5. Wedding Dress Shopping!!!!
I am headed out with my Mom and future Mom-in-law and hopefully my Matron of Honor (if she can get a babysitter) to start the search for the perfect dress! And boy am I gonna need help cause I am seriously all over the place when it comes to what I think I might like! Wish me luck!
Me and my MOH- AMSD shopping for her wedding dress!

#furloughfriday is quickly becoming my defacto wedding planning day. And I kinda Love it!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Too Much Work

Yep. Call me cynical and a bit of a downer- but im gonna admit it here and now.

Wedding Planning is Too Much Work! (and too frekin expensive).
(oh btw- MBM & I got engaged... I guess Ill write a blog post about it at some point).

Maybe once we get done with the basic things- church & reception locales, it'll be more fun.... or maybe Ill just continue to harp about the cost of everything (seriously 3-10K+ for a venue alone which includes nothing except chairs and tables???! wtf.) We're trying to come in at a reasonable budget here and by reasonable we still mean far below the "so-called national average".

So we've pretty much got the church set. If by set you mean they were supposed to send us paperwork a week and a half ago and we just found out it got sent yesterday- and the woman is insisting upon using snail mail. She says the date is on hold for us til early August though and she'll call before she makes it available again Yay nice catholic women!- she also says its not a popular date- Yay Us!

Saint Benedict's Catholic Church: Richmond VA

The official date of course we're holding off on announcing til we make sure one of the reception venues is going to work (but think EARLY March). Which is another hassle- the woman telling us its open and then next time we call "oh i forgot someone mentioned having a meeting with some group on that day but said they might change it to the next weekend, but i have to check with them before I can let you have it if you like it"..... So we're going this weekend to look at 3 different places. The Rockville Center, Hanover Arts Center and The Tobacco Company (which is likely way out of our price range thanks to the food aspect, but we figured wed check it out anyway).

Ive been looking at dresses for me, and for my girls- who btw I havent asked yet, and photographers and caterers, we talked about colors but nothing about flowers or decor or theme much less the details, doing engagement pictures but we have no idea what to do for them.... and of course I joined the knot specifically for their checklist of 'things to do' and holy wow im so overwhelmed.

Oh and you wanna make things even more fun!?!? Government Furloughs!!
So the government has decided that because of the sequester cuts (Thanks alot Mr.President) employees have to take 11 days off unpaid before October 1.
Luckily I work for a contractor, and since our contract is already paid through the end of the fiscal year, we can still work our 40 hours..... Only 1 problem- because federal employees cant work theyve decided the best option is completely closing our facilities on Fridays. So we have to work 4- 10hr days instead of 5- 8hr days to be able to get our time in for 3 full months. Which means my schedule is now wake up at 4:30, hour to get ready, 30 mins to drive to work- at work by 6, short lunch around 11, work til 4:30, 45ish min drive home in traffic (yea it really does take that long to go less than 10 miles), an hour to exercise/read/relax then its 6:30- time to cook dinner, dinner by 7-7:30, MBM calls around 7:30 and we talk til about 9ish, 30 mins to get ready for bed, in bed by 10 which means I get a max of 6.5 hrs sleep (NOT ENOUGH!). So I have all of about an hour to do anything during the day.

Yep thats super helpful for trying to plan a wedding.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Local Resturants- Part 1. Willow Grove

MBM and I have reservations for lunch at Palladio restaurant on Friday- which is part of the Barboursville Vineyards. Barboursville is part of the county he and I grew up in, is only 20ish minutes from my parents home, and plays host to the wonderful Four-County Players community theatre.

Thinking about our reservations made me realize I never posted a blog Raving about how wonderful our Thanksgiving dinner was last year!!

Long story short- It was going to be incredibly difficult to figure things out between both of our families for Thanksgiving, plus that weekend is the anniversary of when we met- SO we decided we would have a nice dinner alone at a nearby restaurant.

The Inn at Willow Grove is a former 18th century plantation home turned Inn sitting on 40 acres of beautiful lush green hills- in Orange County Virginia.

The Inn's restaurant named Vintage if fitting both for style and an impressive wine list.
Thanksgiving at Vintage was an event to say the least. Four courses were technically listed. Although the staff surprised everyone with an amuse bouche to start and a personal sized pumpkin pie to take with you at the end of the meal! (My apologies for not having foodporn photos to share).

We started off at the bar. A nice rich red wine for us to share and scotch for M. Seated at our table shortly there after we were presented with an impressive menu. I was nervous- I like to think I have a sophisticated palate sometimes- but theres so many things I dislike that fine dining with me can be an adventure.

The amuse bouche teaser was thanksgiving dinner rolled up into one bite. Turkey leg/stuffing/sweet potato confit with dressed with microgreens and cranberry preserves. I typically dont like sweet potato- or cranberry sauce- but this was so good you could taste each part- but then they blended together and it was just amazing.
For first course M had the charred beef, beet and horseradish parfait, while I got the Florida pink shrimp and corn chowder. The chowder was perfect. Sweet corn with well cooked shrimp and just hint of spice.
Second course was salad. M loves anything with blue cheese so naturally he got the frisse- he said the best part was the drunken raisins and the buttered rum dressing (which I tasted and I have to agree with him). I dislike blue cheese- the only thing worse in my book is onions so I was left with the spinach salad as a choice. It was good- but typical as far as salads go. (then again I did pick out the tomatoes and ate around the capers and most of the pine nuts- i have a weird fear of Pine Mouth Syndrome and wanted to be able to enjoy the rest of my meal! bizarre I know)
Course three was a hard choice. I really wanted the beef tenderloin- but chard-ew and tomato fondue- even more ew. I kinda felt like since it was Thanksgiving I should go with the traditional but then I wouldnt eat the sweet potatoes or the brussel sprouts, probably not the stuffing depending on what they put in it and gravy is just a huge no in my book. So I went with the Pork- I love corn and mashed potatoes so the only no go was the spinach (raw spinach-yum, cooked spinach-gross). Super tender meat, nice crispy coating on the outside. M had the fish- I remember him saying it was very good, and I certainly remember how good the orange buerre blanc smelled.
Dessert! M had the pumpkin-pecan pie because he LOVES pecan pie and even though hes not big on pumpkin the verdict was that it was terrific. I can vouch that the cinnamon ice cream with it certainly was! I had the Apple cider panna cotta and it perfectly captured the taste of apple pie with the creamy texture of panna cotta.

Dinner was followed by finishing up our wine on the veranda with the fire places blazing (It WAS November after all). A truly terrific time celebrating the holiday as well as what Ive come to refer to as our anniversary (Technically Nov 26th 2011 - two days after Turkey day is when we met).

Neither of us had this dish but so you can get your craving for a food pic in and I can entice you to visit this beautiful place here is a hint of their pretty an tasty food.

So we absolutely had a fantastic time. Its not something we can do often because $75/person prix fixe plus drinks and gratuities ended up being about $300 total, but its certainly a nice splurge for a fantastic meal- and I loved supporting a local establishment!! I am really hoping to make it back this year again! 

And Friday we will dining in yet another hometown gem, followed by a wine tasting and a tour of the Barboursville Ruins. I promise when I do the next Local recap Ill have pictures to share!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Quick Takes

One of the bloggers I follow does 7 quick takes of her week each Friday. Since I havent been good about keeping people up to date about my life, I thought it would be a good thing to pick up... Although Im not going to try and do 7 each week because lets face it- some of my weeks are quite boring.

May 31st 2013

Headed to the Greek Festival this weekend!
One of the things that's been knocking around in my head for the last few months is the idea that somehow with my conversion to Catholicism that I will lose some of my identity as a Greek. I know one thing has nothing to do with the other, but heck I already dont look like either of my major cultural groups (Greek and Native American). So I feel like it needs to be supplemented in other manners. I think Food and Art and Jewelry sound like a good way to do that lol! MBM and I are headed to the big festival in Richmond this weekend with my Mom, my Aunt and Uncle and our two of our close friends.

Finally some real Biology at Work!
As I mentioned in a post in January I transferred over to the Chemistry division at work. What I may not have mentioned is that well.... its kinda boring. The research is adding biology to nanoscience and surface chemistry projects as a way to make detectors for potential bioterror agents. Sounds really cool right!?!? Well in practice its really just running the same assay over and over again- and alot of downtime with trying to get the equipment we developed to behave. Oh the joys of DIY in science. BUT as of today the other biologist is our group is leaving for another position. So I get to pick up her cell biology work! Putting stem cells down on toxic surfaces and seeing if/how they grow- then hopefully altering the surfaces to show them growing and differentiating in a healthy manner. So I think its very apropos that todays google doodle is honoring Richard Petri- who invented the Petri dish! Check it out!

I'm so Sad about what's happening in my Hometown
In the past two weeks there have been three arrests of people who work within the school system. As a product of the Orange County public school system, the Daughter of a School Board employee, and a former OCPS employee myself I am absolutely horrified by the news of a substitute arrested for assault of 6 students, a teacher arrested for child pornogrpahy and a bus driver arrested on child sex charges. Orange always seemed isolated from the real world when I was a child there. We were always behind the times in music, fashion, everything we thought mattered when we were kids. I guess its the rise of the global internet age, but now were right smack dab in the middle of all the terrible things that are common place in todays society along with everyone else. It makes me sad, because I liked to think I would always be able to go back to Orange to escape from the real world.

My friend from work had a sweet little baby Boy!
PAL is already the mother to two beautiful, amazing little girls and now she and her husband have added a beautiful little boy to the brood. She's had one of the hardest pregnancies Ive ever heard of, and its not out of the ordinary for her. After having placenta previa plus some minor pre-eclampsia with both of the girls, major time on bedrest throughout both of the those pregnancies and two preemies (31wks and 34wks) she certainly wasnt expecting to have a perfect time of it. After another bout of previa, worries of placental accreta/increta/percreta- which turned out to be the exact opposite- placental abruption, contractions starting at week 25 and finally a delivery at 31 weeks gestation on Wednesday- and I can certainly say that her friends now have a significant amount more grey hair, but her family has grown to include a really precious little boy. 3lbs 9.8oz, 16 3/4 in. Docs say he'll be in the NICU for 4-5 weeks, but that hes doing pretty well. She has certainly been blessed, and I continue to pray for their family. Happy Birthday Baby ASL, Congratulations Mommy, Daddy and Big sisters K&J! I can't wait to meet him!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two Years

So Its officially (last Friday) been two years since the robbery.

I keep thinking I should have some meaningful commentary about it, or talk about how I've been getting better since everything happened. But I don't feel like I have anything important to say on that topic. Things are much the same as they have been for the last year.
I'm jittery, and afraid of being home alone. I'm wary of people on the street etc... etc... etc.

I feel like i'm just blah.. blah.. blah- going over the same things over and over again. Which isn't helpful for myself and certainly wouldn't be helpful to anyone else who might come across this and think, 'hey this girl's been through the same thing, maybe she says something that might help me deal with it'. (And is probably annoying for those who haven't been through something similar- they prob think i need to just get over it). Yea sure. I don't think I'm much of a help to anyone, I'd like to be, but if I can't help myself- how can I expect to help others?

So on passes another 'anniversary' of a sort. It weighed heavily on my mind this go around, but that doesn't change a thing- no matter how much I think about it or don't, tell myself i'm safe or know I'm well protected- it doesn't change the worry in my mind. I'm starting to wonder if anything will- even the all wonderful 'time heals all wounds'.

Monday, April 15, 2013

When to take the next step?

New Job. Moving..... Soonish?

So as I happily proclaimed just a few months ago MBM moved back home in January. Home of course being Richmond, while I am still here in Arlington. And trust me when I say- the 108ish mile drive each weekend is already quite old. We've both agreed we would rather live somewhere around Richmond than here in Nova, and Im sure it quite obvious from my blog that I don't feel safe here anymore, and Im not all that fond of the area anymore either (mostly b/c we have the worst traffic in the world, and an abundance of imbeciles).
From: Washington, DC To: Richmond, VA

So at what point do I decide that enough is enough and begin the trek towards finding a new job and moving south?

Here's my dilemma. 
I have been working at my current job for 6 years as of this June, but this past October-January there was a ditch I had to cross- where I thought I might be forced to find new employment early. (you may remember my previous post How do you know when its time to Bolt!?). The client I was working for was out of money, everyone else in our department wasn't doing much better and even some of the federal employees were scrambling to get their salaries covered. It took 2 months of me stretching out the little work left I had to do, and a month of me working at our corporate office for my boss to find me a new client (who actually has a boon of funding). The change was fantastic- I moved to a new department, and began working on a couple of new cutting edge research projects, as well as a high profile sensor testing project. Its what I thrive on- new projects, new things to learn... although I have to say its a chemistry heavy set of work and I miss the biology.
I've been in this position now for only 3 months. My boss took extra time out to work with the client to get him to pick me up, with both of them expecting I would stay at least through the end of the project (FY'14 begins October 1st, although the sensor project goes through November 4thish) as was my intention.

So I made the mistake the other day of going on Indeed and looking at what kinds of things were going to be available in the areas around Richmond. I knew of course that it would be alot slimmer pickings than I could current find here in the DC/MD/VA tech savvy area. I did not however expect to find something that fit what I want and my skills like a glove (granted they say they'd prefer a PhD, but they do have M.S. with 5+ years experience as the qualification). I thought cool! I will keep this place in mind when I go to look for a new position this fall. But of course I made another mistake. I told MBM. He thinks I need to apply now. He believes that with the job market the way it is, that you have to jump on things whenever you find them, that you cannot try to plan this out cause then you risk there not being anything available.
Sigh. I know he's right to a degree (I try not to be so pessimistic), but I would feel like Im letting everyone down if I leave now. I would feel like I screwed people over and left them in a lurch trying to find someone to replace me (which I like to think with my skill set, would not be so easy to do).

And so is the internal battle waging inside me. 

Not helping- I turned 29 this weekend, MBM turns 30 on the 24th. Which makes me think it's more than time to finally get a move on with my life. Everyone I know is either 1. Buying a house and/or 2. Getting Married and/or 3. Having kids... and some are doing all of the above. But none of those things are going to happen till I get the heck outta dodge.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Dinner by Pinterest!

So if youre like me you spend alot of time on pinterest saving things and saying- I am definitely going to do this some day, or try this new recipe sometime, or I like this idea for my wedding/children (when I eventually get married/ have children).
It generally seems like a never ending cycle of pinning, without a whole lot of doing.

Well I can happily say that this weekend for Easter dinner with his family, the BF and I utilized pinterest to the fullest! We made the full dinner based on recipes I had pinned! (minus the french bread rolls). And everything turned out better than I could have ever guessed. Everyone loved it!

1. Bacon Wrapped Venison with Raspberry Sauce.
My dad and my brother are hunters. So venison is something we have on a pretty regular basis. This past season was a bumper crop as well so weve got something like 6 full deer butchered and frozen in my parents large freezer. Usually I keep it pretty simple because I really like the gamey flavor of the meat, but this looked too good to pass up.
We had to improvise the instructions a bit because the tenderloin was already sliced, so bacon was wrapped over each small piece instead of being latticed around a larger piece. It made it a bit difficult- but with the help of toothpicks to hold everything together while it cooked we managed- and those small issues did nothing to dampen the deliciousness. I also have to praise Belmont Butchers in Richmond VA- amazing selection there and fantastic service! They cut our bacon to order- sandwich meat thinness since it was going to be wrapped on a larger piece of meat which allows it to crisp up more- we also got the bacon for the potatoes here- thicker cut. We went with the recipe specified applewood bacon this time but they have other spiced bacons that I really want to try in the future!

2. Red Wine Marinated Pork Loin.
A little tang and a little sweet with just a taste of garlic. It was fantastic and oh so easy to make. We of course had to double all the sauces and the cooking time since we got a 4lb loin (cut into two ~2lb pieces). With the overnight marinade (we went ahead and did it overnight instead of just a couple hours since the venison had to go overnight) it was super juicy and very flavorful.

3. Balsamic and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower.
Talk about easy to make and so tasty! Even the BF's little brother who doesnt like veggies said it was good! Key to this in my opinion is quality cheese! We bought the parmesan from the butcher as well. Ive never really eaten many things spiced with marjoram, but I like it, and the little bit of crispyness on the cauliflower from being baked gave nice texture.

4. Bacon and Parsley Potatoes
So we tweaked this one a little. The recipe I had called for garlic and more parmesan cheese, but being that multiple of the people who would be eating are lactose intolerant and both meats used garlic in the marinade, we figured we would lighten up the flavor a little bit and leave those two things out. We also decided to use red fingerling potatoes just because. That being said, the potatoes were probably boiled too long before baking, and I would have liked it if they and the bacon had gotten just a bit crisper, but it still tasted amazing so no complaints.

Easter dinner was a huge success, and it was the second time my BF and I cooked a large meal together, and we had a really good time doing it despite the fact that it was alot of work. I dont mind the work so much when everyone loves what we did so much and is so appreciative. (That and also when there is a 12yr old younger brother around to do the clean up for us LOL!!) And next up - Easter dinner with my family this coming weekend- and I dont have to cook this time!

Happy Easter Everyone! Christos Anesti, Alithos Anesti!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Those who trespass against us

Just in time for Easter LOL.

This prayer hit a chord within me-

Its the "Forgive those who Trespass Against Us" part that really hit me.

I felt unsure about saying it because I didnt think (still am not sure) if I could ever forgive those who robbed me. They took away more than physical things that were mine- I could care less about those compared with my sense of peace and security- which I have still not regained.
I asked a priest about this- Forgive those who trespass against us!? But Father- what if there is something that has been done to you which you just cannot seem to forgive?

He told me it takes time, and it is something we may struggle with all of our lives, but that bitterness against these people is the work of the Devil and if we are always trying to find a way to forgive then we are working towards good, towards what God would want. If He can forgive us all for all of our sins then surely I could find a way to forgive two strangers of the wrong they committed against me. I do not know their situation, or anything about why they made the choice to do this to me.

I guess my problem is Ive turned it into a choice. At this stage its more that I dont want to forgive them. Forgiveness has become synonymous with pretending it didnt happen and theres no way in my mind that I can let such an injustice occur. I know, it's something else I need to work on.

There is an old saying- "hate the sin not the sinner". But how in this type of situation do you separate the two?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stress is a very bad thing

Dwelling on Stressful Events can Increase Inflammation

A new study published by Ohio University shows that dwelling on events you consider stressful can increase inflammation.
(High levels of inflammation are implicated in numerous health concerns ranging from Arthritis and Asthma to Cancer and Heart disease).

The study looks at a group of people. They make them give a speech as though interviewing for a position. Half are made to talk about how they think they did, while the other half are asked about other things that have nothing to do with the speech or interview. C-reactive protein which is a known marker of inflammation is then measured in both groups. The group which was made to continue to think about their performance had higher levels of C-reactive protein than their peer group which was allowed to forgot about the experience.

Now personally, I dont think this is a great experimental design. You may have individuals within both groups that are more or less likely to dwell on things as part of their normal actions- whether theyre prompted by the individuals administering the test or not. I for one know that its not just possible, but common for some people (Yes I am admitting to being one of those people) to be able to remain focused on all of their perceived screw ups while still being able to maintain an amiable conversation. So I am going to take this all with a grain of salt.

However, I think this study still likely holds a kernel of truth- and in that case.... I am SO screwed.

Personally, its hard for me not to dwell on stressful events- I think theres one in particular that is probably glaringly obvious for any of you who have read more than one entry on this blog. (insert awkward grin). In school I stressed myself out studying the two days before a test (because seriously- why would anyone waste time studying further ahead than that), or writing papers the weekend before/ day it was due (depending on required length of course) and then I would continue to drive myself crazy about them until I got back my grades. Its seemed minuscule at the time, but is very similar to the type of event mentioned in this study.

Ive known for quite sometime that this is something I need to work on. For the simplistic as well as the more serious stressful events in life.

...In the meantime- maybe I should start taking an anti-inflammatory regularly.

How do you manage stress?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trouble with everything

So did you hear the most recent incident that has me running for the hills?

13 people injured in drive-by shooting in NW DC.
"Authorities say people in two cars opened fire on a crowd in the 1200 block of N. Capitol Street around 2:10 a.m."

Really!? just frekin standing around after leaving a bar and someone drives by and starts shooting.  How many times have we all just stood outside a bar after leaving- saying goodbye to friends, figuring out rides and grabbing a taxi.
Now dont get me wrong- this bar is near NoMa, which is in no sense of the word the safest place in DC- but its supposed to be one of those areas that is supposedly getting better.
This and my own incident make me very skeptical of "such and such neighborhood is on the rise" comments that all my friends who live in DC always make. I have two friends from work who live less than a few miles from this place. (Thanks for the invites over to your places for parties, but yea I think Ill stay safe at home in Arlington).

On a related note- My federal 'client' (The PhD who Im doing research for) invited our whole group out for a 'science meeting about our project' at a bar on 8th street in SE DC. I couldnt go :(. I just couldnt make myself face that area. 8th street was where we always went to dinner when I lived in Eastern Market. The bar is mere blocks away from where I was robbed. I just cannot make myself go back there, Considering it's been almost 2 years since then Im wondering if I ever will be able to. (Which is sad to some degree because Ted's Bulletin is down there and they have this cool old fashioned 'soda shoppe' with fantastic adult milkshakes!) There are other good restaurants there but alot of them also have locations in VA so no other issues. Amusing that the thing im most worried about missing out on is food!!

Also.... I almost injured my roommate this morning. (I wont even go into the fact that he leaves the door unlocked while he's in his bedroom with the door mostly closed and headphones on so he can talk sh*t to 12 year olds while playing video games- I could rant about that for hours). Apparently he also thinks that climbing out the patio and then back in at 5:45am when he's not even usually awake and while im in the bathroom about to jump in the shower is a good idea. Obviously my first thought- Break In! EEEKKKK!  and Im only wearing a robe- double eeekkk!! 
But apparently he just needed to use the restroom. Stupid 2Bd/1Bth apartments- almost gave me a heart attack.