31 December 2012

Old Drum Coffeehouse Saturday

A trip home is no longer complete without a trip to Old Drum Coffeehouse and Bakery. We went in early Saturday to snag the couches in the back and enjoyed coffee, kolaches, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and conversation.

My mom, oldest sister, and niece held the fort down while my dad, brother, three aunts, one uncle, one cousin, and the shop owner herself cycled through. It was great to have a fun place (with great food) to hang out and catch up with family.

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ornament latte art

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drawing pictures on the chalkboards

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most of the family that came in to hang out

30 December 2012

Home for the Holiday

Hello all! I'm a little behind after spending a week at home in Missouri for Christmas. But don't worry, I'll catch you all up over a few posts.

Last Thursday there was a bit of a snow storm in Missouri, luckily my flight didn't get in till late so most of the roads had been cleared up and the trip home was mostly smooth. 

The next morning I got up early to do some work and was greeted by a lovely sunrise.

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My sister and niece came down on Friday and we decorated the Christmas Tree. My parents still get a cedar tree from our property, so its not unusual for us to only put the tree up a few days before Christmas.

My niece enjoyed putting ornaments on the tree, mostly all on one branch.

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14 December 2012

European style butter

Last Saturday I had an urge to make cookies, I was planning on making some type of Christmas cookies, but a friend suggested I try a chocolate chip cookie recipe of a coffee shop in NYC. This article states that the key to the best chocolate chip cookies are three fold, refrigerating dough overnight, using high quality chocolate, and European style butter (I read another article today that agreed with the first two suggestions, but the third was adding sea salt sprinkles on top... yumm). I agreed to try it out and headed to Whole Foods for butter. I found the European Style butter, priced at $3.99 for the 8 oz package (after talking to my sister the baker its a good thing I don't know how much butter normally costs).

As far as I can tell the only difference in this butter is an extra 4% butterfat. The higher butterfat has a more intense flavor and is richer because there is less water. Euro style is also cultured (there seemed to also be cultured butter that wasn't euro style) which means it is slowly ripened through introducing live cultures (i.e., probiotic).

From what I can tell its mostly used in pastries (to make them more flakey) and directly on bread (because it has more flavor).  

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I followed the recipe, but I only refrigerated the dough for an hour or so because I was hungry. The cookies came out great. Perfect texture and they really were full of butter taste.

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I'm not sold on the Euro butter though, seems like my tummy didn't like it (or maybe I had too many cookies?).

13 December 2012

Logan Circle Holiday Homes Tour

The Logan Circle Community Association hosts a Holiday Homes Tour each year. I heard about it last year but was busy for most of the day. This year I purchased my tickets early and convinced my friend Matt, who was visiting from Texas, to join me on the walk around the neighborhood.

There was a mix of old and new homes on the tour. The "Holiday" portion of the tour was a lot less than I was expected. The only tours I'd been on in the past were in Missouri and they were always Christmas overloaded. There were a few touches here and there including some carolers at one house and a man playing Christmas tunes on a grand piano.

The first apartment didn't look like much from the outside, but ended up being really, cool and my favorite. It had some subtle decorations like rudolph below.

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On house was very proud of itself. They had notes all over and the guides were trained to tell us how they were so environmentally friendly. I'm all for the environment, but these people were a little over the top.

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does neon save energy?

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reclaimed wood countertops
Two of the apartments were in a newer building that I pass by all the time. Little did I know they had a great people watching spot in their living room. Both places were very modern and the penthouse apartment had an amazing outdoor space.

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After the tour we stopped back at the Studio Theater to collect our wassail and snacks. They were playing holiday music and the wassail was delicious.

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The tour was $25 a piece and took us about two hours (we skipped a church that was on the list).

12 December 2012

Price upon request

I was flipping through Elle magazine the other day and everything I saw that I liked, was "price upon request". Then I flipped a few more pages and saw this gorgeous diamond collar necklace, another "price upon request". And realized I didn't need to know the price because earlier that day I had spent less than $20...

oh Harry
...On this gem from TJ Maxx



10 December 2012

Whoopin' and whooping

Last month I got to head to College Station, Texas a little unexpectedly. I spent two years there going to graduate school so I jumped at the chance to head back. 

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northgate

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kyle field

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Grad-School back porch

09 December 2012

Jingle all the way 8K

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This morning was the Jingle All the Way 8K in downtown DC. Last night I set my alarm for 7:30 am so I'd have an hour to get ready, eat and have a little coffee before heading down to the start, which is about a mile from my apartment. This morning I rolled over, glanced at the clock and thought I saw an 8, but maybe it was a 6... I looked again and it was 8:15! Apparently I either didn't turn the alarm on or I turned it off in my sleep (not unheard of). Luckily I had picked out my festive run attire the night before, but unluckily I heard some rain hitting the windows.

I had a few bites of oatmeal and coffee and headed out the door. 

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i went for the candy cane look
I ended up running the entire way down (adding an extra mile) and arriving with enough time to check my rain jacket. I worked my way up to the 8 min/mile pace group and arrived just in time for them to announce that the race would be starting 10 minutes late.

The course was the same as the St. Patrick's 8K I ran last spring. It is fairly flat, but with four U turns and several other turns it has its challenges. I dressed in my red, white, and green, but was way undercostumed compared to the other runners. 

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I don't know if it was the waking up late, extra mile warm up, puddles/ slick grates, but I was looking for the first mile marker from the beginning. But then after the first mile marker, runners started heading back and for the next two miles I had plenty of costumes to check out. There was even one guy running with a tuba (and playing songs). Once we hit mile four and were back on Pennsylvania Ave I got a second wind, but knew not to get too excited as they sneak in a little out and back right before the finish. The out and back was NBD and I managed to speed it up into the finish. My splits according to GPS:

Mile 1:  7:49
Mile 2:  8:08
Mile 3:  8:03
Mile 4:  8:04
Mile 5:  7:54

So again I started out too fast.

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gingerbread man

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some more costume fun
Results- a 4 second PR! My goal was under 40, how does 4 seconds seem like such a long time while running? Next time, next time.

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08 December 2012

Handi hour take 2

The Renwick Gallery hosted another Handi hour this past week. This time I rounded up four coworkers and we headed over to make some hoop art ornaments. We all had to start by making a 40/40 ornament for the Gallery's Christmas tree. They have an exhibit right now about 40 artists under 40 years old that are the future of craft.

We found a table, quickly got our beer, snacks, and supplies and got to work.

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my 40/40 ornament

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three of our ornaments
We finished the ornaments by trimming the edges and gluing a back on the ornament. They had us leave our email address so we can get them back after Christmas.

Then we were allowed to pick up more supplies and make one to take home. This time we arrived right at 5:30, but still barely had enough time to finish up by 8.

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O' Christmas Tree

06 December 2012

Solutions & Cold Dark Running with Friends

So a HUGE thanks to Alex of ifs ands & butts for giving me a great tip on fixing my photo problem. Now I'm back in business and not a $ poorer. Also check out her blog for some great photos of the Christmas Markets in Germany going on right now. 

So back to my regularly scheduled posts. Last Tuesday I went for a very chilly run with friends around the National Mall. We like to run by Lincoln and say hello.

The great thing about the freezing cold was there was no one else around. So while we had about thirty seconds to spare waiting for the tail end of our group we did a little blurry, terrible photo shoot. Even so I am really glad they finished fixing the reflecting pool and I get to see the Washington Monument x2 whenever I want.

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dark, quiet, and cold


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a little photo editing so you can see me JUMP


jumping isn't my strong suit

02 December 2012

Out of Space

I've used up my free internet blogging space (for photos)! How did this happen? Apparently 5 years of pictures equals 1 GB. I can expand by purchasing space for a $5 monthly fee from google, but I'm thinking this is a great time to explore my options. Has anyone else had this issue come up? What should I do? 

29 November 2012

Turkey Trotting

I stayed in the DC area again this year for Thanksgiving. I had some extra cousins in town, so we decided to run the S.O.M.E. Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. Its the same race I ran last year with my dad and sister. The route was a little different this year, they got rid of a weird out and back and we circled back closer to the Capitol Building before heading back down Pennsylvania Avenue to the finish.

getting ready to go

some people got into the holiday spirit
Last year we headed over the the White House for post race pictures, we did it again this year, so now it is a tradition.

First Family and Family Flyers
Again this year the race was huge, they were announcing something like 10,000 participants. I worked my way up to the back of the 8 min/mile pace group with my teenage cousins in tow. I was hoping to run around a 7:40 pace, but the starting area was so packed I couldn't move any further forward. There was some issues with people not lining up in the right area. To my left was a man with a stroller and an eight year old and to my right was a girl in jeans carrying a backpack. Since it was Thanksgiving I didn't tell them what I was thinking about their positioning at the starting line.

Once the gun went off and we crossed the start line I didn't have too much trouble opening up, but I immediately lost my cousins. The first mile went pretty fast as we ran toward the Capitol Building. A little after my watch beeped for the first mile at 7:33 I spotted my cousin Matthew. Although very athletic, at 15 he's not a long distance runner so I was a little surprised to see him at this point. I gave him a nod and a smile and passed him as we headed into the second mile. Mile 2 is the least scenic and flat portion of the race. We looped around some office buildings south of the Mall before heading back towards Pennsylvania. My second mile was only a bit slower at 7:39.

My stomach started feeling a little iffy as I headed into the final mile so I slowed down a little. I hadn't really been running with anyone so I didn't have anyone I was trying to keep up with or pass, mistake. Soon I saw the balloons at the finish and powered through. My third mile was 7:55 with a 1:08 final .1(6). 

My official time was 24:15, another PR!
My pace was 7:49 a little off of my Baltimore Relay Pace.
I placed 593rd out of 3453 (timed participants, many signed up as untimed)
and 61st out of 550 Females 20-29


legwarmers and a headstand for the win

19 November 2012

Fall colors

It's peak leaf peeping in DC right now. I took a walk around town on Sunday (ok I was shopping) and saw some beauties.

F Street

near Dupont

even trees need sweaters

17 November 2012

Old Rag Mountain

Two weekends ago I hiked Old Rag Mountain with a few friends. We were going to be part of a larger group, but then we were running late and since they planned on running up the mountain, we didn't catch up till the after hike winery fun. We looked to be about two weeks late for the prime leaf peeping, but it was still gorgeous. We hiked over 8 miles, which was 3 miles up, 1 mile of rock scrambling, 1 steep mile down and then another 2 or so of easy walking.

on the way up

ready to rock scramble


ROCKS!


from the tip top

16 November 2012

24 hours in NYC

Since I had last Monday off of work (thanks Veterans!) I decided to spend a few hours in NYC. 

As soon as the train pulled in to Grand Central Station I headed across town to join my old touch football team for a game. I settled right back into the old routine and it felt like I never left. Especially because we won the game! 

Then,  being a tourist and all, I hopped into a cab for the Upper West Side. I had brunch plans with a few friends, which grew when two other friends ran into us while we were waiting outside.

I was going to walk around after lunch, but was completely exhausted so I watched some cartoons with my friend's one year old.

We then headed to City Winery to listen to Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Ralph Stanley is best known by my generation for singing O Death in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. They put on a great show. The 80 something Stanley infused a good amount of humor into the show and took several requests from the audience. The ended the show with my favorite "I'll fly away". The show reminded me a little of when I would go with my grandparents to the country music show in Missouri, only with a lot more wine.


I didn't have anything planned for Monday morning, other than making it to Penn Station in time for my 12:35 train, but when I woke up I knew I wanted a NYC bagel. My friends' that I was staying with directed me to TAL bagels down the street. I looked at the whole wheat bagel for about 1 second before knowing I was going to go all out and get the salt bagel. Of course I got it toasted and then smeared with scallion cream cheese. Then I walked to Central Park with my bagel and a small coffee with milk.

Central Park was showing a little damage from Sandy, but over all was busting with activity. Runners, bikers, and a lot of kids PE and recess classes.

ugh I want another one


great lawn

sax player under the bridge
After my delicious breakfast and a stroll through the park I headed to Joe Fresh. Joe Fresh is a Canadian retail chain that opened up last spring in NYC. I'd been seeing their clothing in several of my magazines the last few months, with reasonable prices, so I knew I wanted to check them out. I ended up with four shirts and a dress! I just did some online research and it looks like they will be opening up "stores" inside JCP's across the US over the next few years.

The weather was perfect so I concluded my morning in NYC chatting with a friend in Bryant Park. The city was already decorated for Christmas and Bryant Park already had the little shops and ice skating rink up (although the ice was melting and it looked more like a pond).

At noon I headed back down 7th Ave to Penn Station and headed on Amtrak back to DC. Perfect weather, parks, and friends made for an amazing 24 hours. 

15 November 2012

More from Forest to Shore

This last weekend I headed up to Stratford, Connecticut to visit my friend Robert (i.e., my first friend in NYC), his fiancĂ© Kelly and their dog Oso. I met Robert on my first day of work in NYC in July of 2007; he has been inviting me to visit him since about September 2007 and I finally took him up on the offer.

I left early on Friday and took the Amtrak Northeast Regional train to NYC. I got more and more excited the closer I got back to the city I once lived in. I stayed in NYC long enough to get a coffee with a friend before boarding Metro North to head up to Stratford. 

choo choo
First things first, I had to meet Oso, for the occasion I knitted him a bow tie. 

debonair
Friday night we grabbed dinner at a cool cafe that had live music. The food and company was good, unfortunately the funk band decided to funk it out at top volume, so we only lasted one set.

Saturday morning we went on a 7 mile hike on the Housatonic Rail-Trail with the dogs. There was still a bit of snow in the shady areas from the big storm they had last Wednesday. 


For lunch we headed to New Haven to get a burger at Louis Lunch. According to their website they invented the hamburger sandwich as we know it today when in 1900 a man asked for something he could eat on the run. In honor of that tradition (and the tight quarters inside) we ordered our hamburgers to go. 


The hamburgers are still cooked in the original grills (seen below) from 1898. We got our burgers with cheese, onions, tomato and served on white toast. They were pretty good.

you put the meat in the rack and the rack in the grill
We then spent some time walking around the Yale campus. The sights:

This tree fell over in the storm and they found three skeletons underneath. Apparently the Yale Green was previously a cemetery and when they moved the headstones they forgot the bodies.


I'm not sure what this building is, but its beautiful.



We went into the library, the library looked straight out of Harry Potter, but with a lot more computers and laptops.




Soon it was time to eat again and we headed to Bar Pizza. Bar serves New Haven style pizza, which is super thin and crispy. We got one of their specialties, mashed potato & bacon, as well as a cheese pizza. I really liked the mashed potato & bacon. 

we inhaled half before I thought to take a picture
We capped off our night at the Owl Shop with Robert's CT crew.
props
After a delicious omelet and coffee on Sunday morning I hopped back on Metro North to head back to NYC...