birth control

This weekend, I ventured to the glorious Tidewater area of Virginia, for my cousin’s 8th birthday party.

Whoa Nellie.

There were 15 (including my two cousins, M&S, who, because of their initials, I will refer to as Marks and Sparks) SCREAMING little girls running around my aunt and uncle’s house. FIFTEEN.

I am not a fan of children. I make an exception for M&S. But that is the ONLY exception (much to my other uncle’s chagrin.) But, duty calls, and I do adore M&S. Their mom was my “other mommy” for much of my formative years, and I think of them as my little sisters or nieces more so than as cousins.

The party began with decorating goodie bags. Which, with 15 little girls, involves a LOT of glitter glue. Glitter glue does not dry within the 2 hours period of the average birthday party, which led to a lot of Gumby-like moves from me to keep from looking like I fell into a bedazzler.
The girls did a bang-up job decorating though, and moved on to freeze dance, which is exactly what it sounds like- freeze tag, but with dancing in lieu of running. They played bingo, sang karaoke (Sparks blew it UP,) and ran around the house screaming. And screaming. And running. And then screaming some more.

Around 3:30, it was time for the pièce de résistance– birthday cake! My aunt, in her glorious, glorious foresight, had arranged for a cupcake cake, eliminating the need for slicing and plates, along with individual Kool-Aid Koolers (or whatever the hell they’re called), and individual strawberry and vanilla or chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups. All of this made for a much, much easier high fructose corn syrup delivery system for the gremlins lovely little girls.

The cake was in the shape of a giant flower, with Tinkerbell perched in the middle.
I believe the frosting to cupcake ratio was about 1:1, which works perfectly for M&S. Marks eats the cupcake, and Sparks only eats the frosting.

All and all, I’d like to thank my aunt for the second most effective advertisement for birth control I’ve ever seen. The first one involved a visit to her doctor towards the end of her pregnancy with Sparks, and is too traumatic of an experience to explain without the aid of alcohol.

Happy Birthday Marks!


I love Easter. Where I’m from, we pour it on thick- loads of food, dying and hiding several dozen eggs, and the most important Easter event- an elaborate Easter basket hunt, complete with little girls running around on frilly dresses, fighting over who gets to use the dog to find Easter eggs in the back yard. In fact, my favorite picture of me is from an Easter when I was about five years old. I’m in a blue and white dress, complete with patent leather shoes and white hair bows, sitting primly in a lawn chair in the middle of the yard, legs crossed, drinking a can of Coke- I was such an elfin child, I could barely hold it with both hands.

As I’ve gotten older, and Easter has become a bit more hectic, my mother and I focused more on culinary escapades over the chocolate bunny and Cabury egg variety. We enjoy Easter because my grandparents permit a bit more flexibility with the menu than they usually do (although we do keep the mainstays of macaroni and cheese and some sort of greens- collard, turnip, or mustard,) as opposed to Christmas and Thanksgiving, which have unalterable menus.

Last year, Easter dinner was rather labor intensive- pork loin with onion marmalade, butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and sage, Cornish hens, green bean and feta salad, greens, macaroni and cheese. At one point, my friend Adam (one of the 20+ people we fed that day) arrived for dinner, and my mother immediately dispatched him to the ravioli filling station set up in one corner of the kitchen. That was also the year I decided Tab energy and vodka made for a charming aperitif.

This year, my mom had to get my sister from school on Friday, and my grandparents and I arrived on Saturday, leaving little time for elaborate prep. We rolled in around 4, and my now-21-year-old sister (who henceforth was not allowed to TOUCH my mother’s car) and I immediately began fighting over who got to drive the car to the store to get bread. Weird.

My mom likes to keep the house at the temperature and the humidity of the Amazon. As a result, there is a rainforest in our living room. It’s sad when you can 1) barely get in the room and 2) barely see the television for the flora

Saturday’s dinner was my mom’s famous Mediterranean chicken packets, the ultimate lazy meal. Drop some vegetables (spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, whatever) in some aluminum foil, top with a chicken breast, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta, close up the packet, and whack it in the oven at high heat for 15 minutes. It’s wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am cooking, with consistently delicious results…
I had dinner with my grandparents, and departed to church. Not to actually attend services, mind you, but to put in an appearance at the champagne reception following the Saturday night service. (I didn’t drink though, sadly). From there, Carolina and I trooped out with our Greensboro posse for a night on the town….or the evening spent drinking wine on the couch at my old youth advisor’s house, catching up. Then Carolina, his old college suitemate and I hit downtown, where I am STILL haunted by some of the terrible, terrible fashion crimes walking the streets (white platforms? and jean shorts? really?!) We ended up at Natty Green’s, drinking beer, playing shuffleboard (them) and fending off advances from fat frat-boy wannabes in plaid shorts and Topsiders (me.) I felt like Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama.

The next morning, another fight ensued over a trip out to get a Sunday New York Times (the Greensboro Barnes and Noble no longer sells the Post) and a trip to the store for cheese, sausage, and Cheerwine. Then it was time to get down to the actual business of the day- college basketball.

Oh yeah, we started making Easter dinner too. My mother went low maintenance this year, allowing both of us the chance to sort of hang out and watch basketball. The menu this year featured grilled lamb marinated in yogurt, rosemary (fresh from the GIANT bush in the backyard,) and lemon, a hen roasted in the oven, mac and cheese, cider-chipotle collards, asparagus (ew!), broccoli, and the always classic poundcake and ice cream (my mother makes the poundcake from scratch, and has the recipe memorized.)

(the lamb was a little charred, but trust me, it was DELICIOUS)

Poundcake, and (I think) the wine Adam brought back from Italy for my mom.

In addition to myself, my mom, grandparents and sister, Adam upheld his annual tradition of coming over for dinner/basketball, as well as grandmother’s brother and sister-in-law, AND a whole gaggle of cousins.

(the leaf in the table comes in awfully handy around this time of year)

One of my cousins brought over her puppy, the CUTEST Rottweiler imaginable. She romped around with Audrey (my dog) and escaped some inappropriate advances from Bandit (my grandparent’s dog) before passing out in a tired puppy heap on the dining room floor.
And, just to make you jealous, as someone told me it was sleeting in DC, some gratuitous shots of my wonderfully sunny backyard:

Mum just had the porch redone.

Forsythia and the Red Delicious apple tree

Yellow Delicious apple tree and the Magnolia

Don’t be too thrilled for me. When I got up Monday to walk the dogs, it was snowing. Schizo spring!

dispatches from the field: headed down south to the land of the pine…

It’s noon, we’re searching for a radio station, and we hit my favorite part of the trip- coming around the curve on 95, VCU’s ever expanding campus on one side (screw you, Eric Maynor) and the Richmond train station on the other.

The Wendy’s in South Hill won an award for fastest fast food service. It’s sleeting in DC, and sunny and a little breezy here. We’re far enough South that I can have Cheerwine with my Wendy’s combo.

There’s a pit stop at the ABC store, which combined with a request for a cup of ice from Wendy’s, leads me to believe my grandfather will be snacking on peanuts and drinking something on the rocks while I drive.

Time for the switch at the first rest stop in North Carolina.

I could do this drive in my sleep (but still in my driving shoes.) I can wake up, look out the window, and tell you exactly what highway we’re on (495, 395, 95, 85, 40) and approximately where we are. I’ve been up and down this route more times than I can count- every 2 weeks from the time I was 6 until I was 13, and probably about once a month between then and college.

It’s good to be home.

catching up

Sorry for the lack of posting, as AL was kind enough to point out. I can’t help it. March=March Madness=me abandoning life to basketball.

Here’s my laundry list:
1. Carolina made taco pizza Wednesday night. Taco pizza is awesome.

2. VT and I went to the Saloon. He had an Urbock 23. Hilarity ensued. (Direct quote: “That is some MALT ASS LIQUOR!”)

3. I cheated for a work happy hour and made a “fruit salad” consisting of shit I slammed together from Whole Foods. My office loved it. Poor saps.

4. Another blogger happy hour! (No, I will not be sporting this…although I do have shoes to match it…)

I’m leaving tomorrow- headed down south to the land of the pine – for Easter with the fam/old friends (and to help my sister REALLY celebrate her 21st.) If you’re lucky, I’ll take lots of pictures, and my mom and I won’t set anything on fire.

And I know you’re curious about the game last night. Well, I saw a fat girl wearing see through leggings. Not cute. And I almost threw up on several occasions watching the game. It was great though- I can’t even express how glad I was to see it. I also went to Clyde’s in Chinatown for an AU alum gathering to watch the AU-Tennessee game this afternoon. Good times, saw a a lot of people I haven’t seen since graduation, drank a little (or a lot) too much vodka in the middle of the day. Oops.

That’s all for now.


This post has nothing to do with food.

Guess who FINALLY got her well-deserved fantasy football trophy today? Right. (Many thanks to the Oracle, who made it all possible. And thanks to Westbrook for taking the knee.)

Guess who’s going to the Duke game tomorrow night? THIS GIRL. (Many, MANY, MANY thanks to Sadie for making that happen. No thanks to her boss, who paid for the tickets….and has been telling me my trophy was “stolen” for the last three months.)

lunch chronicles: be it ever so humble

…there’s nothing like a good turkey sandwich.

In my case, I stopped off at Whole Foods on the way to work this morning, picked up some peppered turkey, a loaf of bread, lettuce, mustard, provolone, and Kettle Chips. Lunch for the week, for $20. Nevermind that I spent $20 to make five turkey sandwiches….

(And yes, I have been obsessing over brackets all day. Duh. This is one of the best bracket-related ways I’ve found to kill your entire workday. Also, after getting 8 bids to the ACC’s 4, the Big East is not my least favorite conference.)

food blogger potluck, a recap

Um, I didn’t go.

I know, I know. I’m a bad person. Oh well. Blame ConstantTraveler. Her birthday party was the last on my rather long list of events on Saturday. And seeing as it was her birthday, I couldn’t skip it.

Lesson of the weekend: Violently green colored cocktails are a bad, bad plan.


Last night, I made dinner for Carolina and Francesco (tacos) and we watched LOTS of basketball.

And I may or may not have uttered the following words:

“They grow tobacco in Cuba?”

Okay? I admit it. Foot-in-mouth.

*In my defense, I was thinking about cigarettes, and then the words “CUBAN CIGARS” started flashing in my head as I realized my mistake.


Best news I’ve heard all week.

Happy Friday everyone!

By the way- what the hell happened to Maryland last night? I go to bed, they’re up by 15 on BC. I wake up, they’ve lost by three. What. the. fuck.

And while I’m on the topic (because it IS march,) Georgetown looks pretty good. That 10-0 run by ‘Nova and Roy basically disappearing during the game scared me, but I watched the rest of the game on ESPN360…not too bad. And congrats to West Virginia for upsetting UConn. The Big East might become my second favorite conference.

That being said, I’m pretty excited to see who Deron Washington kicks in the face/teabags today.

lunch chronicles: smartkafe

I’m usually pretty bad about eating breakfast.

Scratch that. I rarely, if ever, eat breakfast. And when I do, it usually consists of doughnuts. Combined with my occasional propensity to drink through dinner, that makes lunch is the most important meal of the day.

Today, I scarfed some Smith Meadows Farm basil-garlic pasta and went to the gym to “work out.” By “work out,” I mean “run on the elliptical so I can watch college basketball.” I spent an hour on the damn thing, catching ‘Nova’s 10-0 run against Georgetown at the beginning of the second half, and then left, apparently right as Georgetown started to pull away.

Anyways, I was what my grandmother calls “eat-ish” when I left- hungry, but not starving. I decided to give smartkafe (recently profiled in the Washington Post) a shot, especially since the downtown location is pretty much IN the basement of my gym (which is apparently also the official gym of DC United.)

After about 15 minutes contemplating the choices (boy, are there EVER choices) I settled on a “Brazillian style chopped salad” with beef tenderloin and lavender soda.
At this point, a small part of me died. Really- Brazilian chopped salad and lavender soda? Remember the days of PB&J and a juice box? What’s happened to me?

Anyways, it was…interesting. The salad was comprised of the aforementioned beef tenderloin, hearts of palm, baby corn, carrots, red onion, peanuts, and a cilantro-citrus vinagrette. The soda was nothing more than (purified) carbonated water, (cane) sugar, and “natural extracts”
The salad itself was a little weird. The beef was decent, although overcooked, but the rest of the salad had too many things going on. The vinaigrette wasn’t tart enough, and the onions were a little too overpowering. I’m not sure I’d go this route again.

Plus, the whole deal set me back $7.19- ($4.49 for the salad, $2.25 for the soda) Is it sad that I feel like lunch for under $10 is an accomplishment? Nevermind that I paid $2 for a soda…