Thursday, February 11, 2016

Favorite Feelings!

I've seen this concept going around youtube lately, so I'm shamelessly stealing it to share my favorite feelings!

If you know me, you know I'm not good with expressing my feelings about mushy, emotional stuff, so these are more feelings that just help improve my mood or my day. We're not getting deep here. So here goes:

  • TMI - but taking my bra off at the end of a long day (or, let's be honest, even after a brief trip to Target) is THE BEST!  Free + comfortable = 2 thumbs up!
  • We live in RVA and all our friends live an hour away, so we don't get to see each other every weekend or even every other weekend. It takes planning and coordination - there is no texting 'Hey wanna meet at Applebee's?' going on. BTW - I know Applebee's is ew, but the chicken fajita rollup is amazing. Anyway, even though we don't see each other as often as I'd like, showing up to one of their houses and picking up where we left off the last time without any awkward silence feels pretty good. And, just saying, there really is 0 silence. We're all obnoxious and rarely do any of us finish a sentence uninterrupted. It's GREAT.
  • Speaking of silence, do you ever take 5 minutes of time to just sit - in the car between errands, in the house while you're cleaning or reading, in the shed or garden - and just be alone with your thoughts? Sure, there's white noise, but there is nobody talking, no TV blaring, no phone distracting you, and you can just sit, be calm, and recharge. Then you're ready to face the rest of the day. I do this a lot.
  • Coming over the ridge of the hill at MM125 on 95N and seeing the chain mecca that is the Massaponax exit. It means I'm home. I'm comfortable. I'm safe. It also means I'm probably about to see my friends or family.
  • Finishing a big task at work and sending it off for approval. I know there will be edits and feedback, but for now, I did my best and I am finished.
  • Related, having an AHA moment - when I figure something out that's been bothering me, whether it's how to handle a personal situation, how to fix or organize something that's not working, or solving a problem at work. Sigh.
  • Having someone who knows your subtle, snarky faces and laughs without you having to even say anything. That's a BFF.
  • The first real day of spring when I can open the windows and air out the house from being cooped up all winter. It makes me dream of my little garden (by little I mean like 3 veggies or less or else I'll kill them all) and all the fun activities we can do outside in the coming months!
  • Football weather. This one I can't explain - it's just a feeling when I walk outside and can smell the leaves and there's a chill in the air but not enough to wear a coat. Yes.
  • Getting off the plane at a vacation destination. It means the logistics of the day are over, the planning was successful, I have arrived, and I can finally relax and start the vacation.
  • This:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Miss St. Augustine

When my parents lived in northern Florida, we went to visit them for a week each year, and one of the places we always visited no matter what else was on the agenda was St. Augustine. It touts itself as America's oldest city (settled in 1565) and has charm for days!

Here's how my ideal day there would go:

First stop in the morning is St. Augustine Lighthouse:

Full disclosure: I'm afraid of heights a little. I'm also afraid of being at any height on stairs where I can see below me. So if you have similar fears, be like me and hang out on the lightkeeper's porch while your spouse and/or parents climb the lighthouse. There's also a nice museum in the basement (where it's always cool even on a hot Florida day) to keep you busy while they're up in the lighthouse.

Now we're going across the inlet and parking the car in the new central parking garage (way easier than finding a little hidden parking lot within the historic district, AND when you go back to your car it won't be a thousand degrees inside! #yourewelcome). Walk over to the Castillo de San Marcos, built to protect the Spanish settlement from pirates and the English army. You'll find barracks with some bunks and hay mattresses on display, weapon storage, and a prison (the creepiest part of the tour - there's a segregated room that I think was used for solitary confinement but you have to crawl through a tunnel to get in there. NOPE.)

The nice men in uniform put on a cannon demonstration every day to show off their artillery:

Once you've seen the fort, walk through the Old City Gates and take a stroll down St. George St. for some window shopping on the way to lunch.

Stop into Columbia Restaurant - it's right on St. George St. and yes it's a chain (I know, the horror), but the food is delicious and you'll feel like you stepped back in time and landed in a Cuban courtyard. I always get the Havana Club with a side of plantain chips and a cup of Cuban black bean soup. It will refresh you from your morning adventure and fuel you for the afternoon.

After lunch we continue down St. George St. for more shopping, stopping whenever we want for ice cream or water or whatever because it's probably 105 degrees by now. You'll find some junk shops just like in any high tourist area, but you'll also find some gems like the pottery shop that sells hand painted planters and dishes, the oldest school house, and just some damn fine scenery. It's several blocks of shopping, but in my opinion the best part is the 2 blocks closest to the city gates. Look how charming!

After all that shopping you're probably hungry again, so I'd recommend either Scarlet O'Hara's or the Bull & Crown for dinner. These have a much more casual atmosphere than lunch so have a beer or two with your dinner. You'll need to be a little loose for the next stop...

...which is a ghost tour! They have several ghost tour options but we prefer the trolley because you can cover more ground in the same amount of time. You get on and off at some of the more haunted spots and they have actors at each site to up the creep factor. I can't find our pictures but I know we stopped at the Old City jail, an apothecary, and a graveyard. There was another spot (can't remember which site it was) where we were gathered this room and a guy walked around telling a scary story and if you laughed he'd get up in your face and basically scare the crap out of you. I did not laugh. Along the way, the tour guide told stories about the city's rumored hauntings and we yelled 'BE DOOMED!' at anyone we passed who laughed or scoffed at tourists on a ghost tour. It was fun!

So that's my perfect day in St. Augustine. There are of course more sites to see, like the Fountain of Youth, the Alligator Farm, Fort Matanzas, Flagler College, San Sebastian Winery, but how long is this day?

Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Books to Read: Update!

Welp, this is embarrassing. We are 75% through the year and I've read a total of 2 books! TWO.

Can I read 12 more in the remaining 3 months, which happen to be the busiest 3 months of the year? There are so many pumpkin- and holiday-related things happening, how will I find the free time? Haha.

I had good intentions. I started several books and then life just happened and I haven't picked them up. We even went on a cross-country vacation that meant 6+ hours on an airplane twice plus waiting in airport lounges, and I never once picked up a book. I took several with me so I had the opportunity, but never chose to spend my time reading. It's really sad.

Here are the ones I read so far:
  • Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt: This book covers a 4 year period where Oswalt was doing stand-up gigs, writing on a tv show, and becoming addicted to seeing old movies in the theater. It's a good combo of comedy, reflection, name-dropping (you'll recognize just about every one of his peers who were also struggling comics at the time), and great anecdote about Van Gogh's Night Cafe that made me think about experiences in my life where nothing afterward was the same.
  • Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer: This book is everything that Rolling Stone article published about UVA wanted to be, only it has truth, reliable witnesses, and facts/science on its side.

In progress:
  • Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery: I've been reading a chapter a night, only on nights I feel like reading, so this may take a while. I can't believe I've never read this series and don't feel a bit too old for it. I'm quite in touch with my inner 13 year old. :) Just ask Dave how I acted when both Chris Hardwick and Joseph Gordon Levitt were on the Tonight Show the other night - my heart almost exploded! Haha.
  • The First Bad Man by Miranda July: I am going into this blind plot-wise, other than the hint that it's maybeMAYBE about a bad man, and am excited to read it. So many people recommended it I bought it. I'm approximately 3 pages in, so still have no idea what it's about.
  • Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill: We saw the movie already so do I need to finish?
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: meh. It's good but not great. Scout Finch is just as precocious at 25 as she was at 5, but there's really no story there. The flashbacks to Jem/Scout/Dill play sessions have been my favorite part so far!

Admitting you have a problem is the first step in fixing it, right? We'll see. My friend is in the process of reading 100+ classic books - he's reading the first 10% of each first just to jump start the project and will then go back to the beginning of the list and finish each. That lit a fire under me to finish a freaking book! 

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Charlottesville road trip!

We decided to take a road trip on the first day of our 3 day Fourth of July weekend. Whenever I say Dave and I are taking a road trip for just a day, you can probably assume that we are going to either Charlottesville (an hour west) or Williamsburg (an hour east) because we love them both so much! We have our favorite places but always try at least one new thing on each trip so we don't get too formulaic.

Let me know your favorite day trips from RVA - we need to branch out! :)

Anyway, this time we chose Charlottesville! We were going on Friday to beat the major holiday crowds, and it was hot but not humid, cloudy but not gloomy. Not perfect but the rain held off for most of the day and we squeezed in a bunch of stops!

Our first stop in Charlottesville is usually Carter Mountain Orchard. Whether peaches or apples are in season, and sometimes when nothing is in season, it's nice to take in the views and fresh air.

They have a wine shop onsite where they sell Virginia wines including their own brand. They also have peach bellinis in the summer, which neither of us can resist. YUM. There were a ton of apples on the trees that will be ready to pick soon - fall is coming! We looked around their gift shop and bought some peach preserves and apple cider donut. We did not  buy T.O.E. (tangerine, orange, elderberry) jam. Don't care how it tastes, the name ruins it. Pun gone wrong.

Next we headed downtown to get some lunch at Revolutionary Soup. It's been on the short list for a while but this is the first time we've made it there - so tasty! We both got the 90's club, which had avocado, chicken, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  The bread was soft and fresh and the chicken was juicy and so flavorful!

The AC was out in the restaurant, plus it was lunchtime on a workday so it was packed, so we walked down the hill to the Downtown Mall to find a seat and eat our sammiches. There was a street vendor right next to us who had sooo many pretty scarves that I wanted to buy, but it was cash only. Bummer. I never have cash. What I do have is too many scarves, so it was probably a good thing she didn't take debit. ;)

We sat for a while people watching and just enjoying the breeze before moving on to our next stop: Ash Lawn-Highland, James Monroe's "cabin cottage" just down the hill from Monticello. Before I realized this was not his main home, I was judging TJ super hard for how opulent Monticello is compared to this place. It was a simple house about the size of a basic colonial you'd see in any neighborhood in RVA, plus some outbuildings.

Even the road in to the property was great! Reminded me of the road to Boone Hall Plantation, where they filmed North and South. Love that place.

Particularly proud of this shot:
{although the green space is begging for some type of inappropriate quote, like 'when all else fails, make a dick joke' a la robin williams}

Don't tell the lady at the front desk (I think she already knows) but we didn't actually take the house tour we paid for. I was much more interested in the grounds and outbuildings and kitchen. I don't know why, but that part of old plantations/estates fascinates me much more than seeing where the rich dude slept. I feel like we got our money's worth, though:
{plantation office}




Next we went to the crap store by Michie Tavern. They had crap. I don't recommend it.

Then we went back downtown for dinner at Mas Tapas. OH MY GOD this place is amazing! We got 5 small plates to share and it was just the right amount of food to satisfy us both. Here's what we got:
{clockwise, from top left:Amish chicken and red Yukon gold potato salad, shrimp with garlic aioli, carne asada, apricot marmalade and brie on brioche (OMG), and bacon-wrapped dates}

Even though we were happily full, but not stuffed, our last stop before heading back to Richmond was Sweethaus. This is a required stop even if we aren't eating the cupcakes until the next day.

Long day but good day! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why didn't I think of that?

That was my first reaction when I walked into Sharon's house one day and saw this on the wall:

I immediately recognized it as a Penzey's tea towel, and asked her where she found it on a canvas. She made it! DUH.

Light bulb.

I've had this Nickel Creek t-shirt for years but never really wore it. I know it's weird, but I didn't want to ruin it. That's a terrible and illogical reason for buying a shirt at a concert with no intention of ever wearing it. I know. But isn't it cute?

I picked up an 11x14 canvas, dusted off the old staple gun, and got to work!

Now I have some beautiful artwork and can stare at this t-shirt every time I walk in the room!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Oh my damn, this is my jam

I went a little overboard with the omgstrawberries at the farmers' markets, and ended up with way too many. Not wanting to waste them but not particularly interested in going shopping for pectin, I perused the internet for a pectin-free strawberry jam recipe.
Spot the leaf I missed?

I was in luck. In the age of Pinterest and fad diets that eliminate random ingredients for vague reasons, you can find substitutes for pretty much anything. All the recipes were very similar, but I went with this one because it was short and sweet.

It's as easy as this:
  • Cut up your strawberries (aim for 4 cups)
  • Blend them as much or little as you like - I like sorta chunky jam and over-blended mine
  • In a pot, combine them with 3 cups sugar (yes, I know that's a lot of sugar) and 1/2 cup of lime juice (recipe called for lemon but I didn't have any)
  • I added some chiffonaded basil for flavor and then fished them out at the end
  • Warm to a boil and boil for 10ish minutes
Yes, we still have Christmas m&m's

It will thicken as it cools - this didn't get as firm as store bought stuff but it firmed up enough to spread on bread, which is really all we need from jam, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Small bathroom cabinet - organized!

Messy bathroom cabinet coming at you!

This is the under sink cabinet in our guest bathroom upstairs. Nobody ever uses it unless we have a lot of people over, so why is there so much crap in there? And why is it in such disarray? I don't know.

One day I went in there to add *another* bottle of soap to my stash (we all know I'm a hoarder), and I couldn't stand it anymore. I had purchased this 2 tier sliding basket organizer with this project in mind, and had been waiting for inspiration to strike to actually get it done. That's how I operate most of the time. 

I hadn't measured the cabinet to see if the thing would even fit, so imagine my surprise when I loaded it up and put it in the cabinet to find there were mere millimeters to spare between the top of that lotion bottle and the cabinet frame! WIN.

I purged a bunch of expired stuff that was in Bonnie's basket. We used to sleep at each other's houses all the time if we had an early event the next day or something, so we each had our own dedicated basket in the other's bathroom cabinet with some basic comfort items we may forget when we are visiting. However, once we reached or 30's, we have started just getting up earlier to get where we need to go (ugh I hate it) instead of sleeping over. This meant many expired items were in her basket! 

Exhibit A: contacts that expired in 2011! 

Once all the trash was out, I organized the 2 drawers. In the top I put some of Bonnie's items that were still current, and added some lotion, a toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, and some contact solution:

I decided to use the bottom drawer for random bathroom stuff like toilet scrubbers (these Scrubbing Bubbles disposable brushes are my favorite!), shower curtain liners, and backup hand soap:

On the other side of the cabinet we just have some cleaners and paper towels. Am I the only lazy one who keeps cleaning products in each bathroom so I don't have to lug them around? I'm much more likely to clean the bathroom (still not very likely) if I have everything I need there ready to go.

Much better!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Clean your headlights with toothpaste. Maybe.

All over Pinterest there are photos of drastic before and after shots of car headlights that have been cleaned with toothpaste. I can't remember which ones I actually read because they probably all say the same thing, so if you search for toothpaste headlights on Pinterest you will find approximately 1 million results:

My headlights are very cloudy so I thought I'd give it a try. All you need is water, toothpaste (basic paste without beads or gel), and a towel:

10 points awarded to anyone who noticed that I tried to use a microfiber cloth at first because that's what I found at the dollar store. I later switched to a plain old hand towel and had better, but still unsuccessful, results.

I squirted the toothpaste onto the headlight and then spread it out with the towel to make sure the whole surface was covered:

Let it sit for a few minutes, spray water on it, and wipe it clean with a different towel.

Wipe it clean? Not so much. I can maybe sorta see a little bit of improvement here, but my headlights don't look anything like the perfectly clean shiny ones on Pinterest! #storyofmylife

Here's the before and after:

Maybe white toothpaste would work better? Maybe toothpaste with a specific ingredient like baking soda? Even though I bought the toothpaste at the dollar store, I intentionally didn't buy the knockoff brand because I assumed Crest would work better.

Good news: I'm only out $3 and my headlights are marginally cleaner. Win?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Date Night!

Deep Groove records advertised a sidewalk sale on their Facebook page a few weeks ago, so I asked Dave if he wanted to check it out. He has been collecting Beatles albums and (I think) has all that he wants, but I supposed there's always the chance there's a nicer copy out there? He's also starting to collect DMB albums, which are gradually being released on vinyl.

We have been to Deep Groove once before on a random Saturday - Dave was looking for a specific DMB new release, which he found. I love this shop! Protected under a layer of glass, the counter is covered with concert tickets through the years:

For the sidewalk sale, they had several tables full of boxes containing albums in a seemingly random order. Thrill of the hunt, I suppose? There was a pretty good crowd there and Dave perused all the boxes to find some goodies.

I bought an album! We do not own a record player, but when I saw the cover art of the new Decemberists album, I had to have it. Now we need to buy a record player and I can't wait to listen to this!

We headed across the street to Boka Tako Bar, which evolved from a food truck business, for dinner. We shared some honey truffle tator tots (YUM), shrimp and grits tacos (YUM), and 3 pig and fig empanadas (YUM). There were some college kids there having a little too much fun at the bar. Scream-talking to each other, and when the bartender turned up the music to drown them out, they just scream-talked even louder. UGH I am old.

Last stop of the night was Byrd Park. We drive by it every time we leave downtown, but I've never stopped to check it out. People talk about paddle boats and feeding ducks there, and both sound fun! We were there after hours so there were no boats, and the ducks were sorta pissed off, so we took some selfies (we both have crazy eyes in them so I'm not posting) and were on our way ;)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Exploring RVA: Southbound

Finally, Southside has a hipster eatery - Southbound RVA!
via 

All the good places (except Brick House Diner, YUM) are downtown, and while we can get there within 20 minutes on a good night, it's nice to have dinner in your own neighborhood occasionally. Right?

We didn't plan this out very well and just thought this brand new place from the chefs behind The Roosevelt and Heritage (2 Richmond institutions) would have room on a Saturday night. Nope. We were offered a table at 8pm or a cozy table in the bar, so we chose the latter.

They have since changed their menu, but we got the Thai chicken wings which had just enough spice for my palette. One was underdone, and they were very nice about it. I got the lamb bolognese with their house made pasta and it was fantastic!

We will definitely be back once the hype dies down and we can get a spontaneous table. Next time I'm trying a Bayside Tiger (if they still have it)!