Friday, April 30, 2010

Grammar Slammer

Madhatter's
1319 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, D.C.

Out for Daozhong's birthday dinner last night. Photo of the dessert menu. Don't these waffles sound delicious? MmMm I want mine with extra sand and grit.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update: Suddenly I paint

Update on my painting: My dad claimed it for his office :) Aww.

Sangria Cravings

I've been on a sangria kick lately, not necessarily a bad thing I suppose. I think it's rooted in my deep longing for summer, plus, I have to agree with Erin. All the fruit makes this a healthy drink, no? Judging from the past few batches I've made, I think I've come up with the perfect recipe.

I tried this one out on some friends at two separate dinner parties I hosted (I felt like a needed an excuse to make a huge punch bowl full of wine drink) -- Erin blogged about my last one on her food/travel blog -- and this latest batch got some great reviews (I already sent to this Erin for her blog -- she has a much bigger following than I do -- but I thought I'd share my thoughts here too anyway).



This recipe is SUPER easy because all you're doing is chopping up fruit. I came up with this after reading, no lie, SIX different sangria recipes. It's not all that original except for the Sprite and the pineapple chunks. Most recipes call for club soda instead of Sprite but I think this adds much more flavor. The pineapple chunks soaked in the wine are truly the best fruit to munch on once you've emptied your glass ;)

Lauren's Sangria. Serves about 4-6 people (depending on how big your glasses are. We used solo cups like classy people).

1 bottle of Mirassou Cabernet Sauvignon (according to an article I read about making sangria, this is the best cheap red wine brand (around $10 at most liquor stores) and type for the drink. It's tart and fruity, but lighter than a Merlot).
1 12 oz can of Sprite
1 grapefruit
1 peach
1 pear
1 lemon
1 lime
1 and 1/2 cups of pineapple chunks

Chop up the fruit. The citrus should be sliced horizontally for presentation (they will float!) and then the rest of fruit should be cut into bite-sized chunks. Add your wine. Let soak for no more than 2 hours before serving (I usually do 1 hour). Then, right before your guests come, add the Sprite. DO NOT add the Sprite before hand or it will go flat before you serve it (I found this out the first time around). Stir and enjoy!

The best part is if you need to make more, just reuse the fruit and add another bottle of wine and another can of Sprite.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mulberry Street, suddenly I paint and "Boobquake"

When I was a kid, my dad's favorite book to read to me was "And To Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street" by Dr. Seuss. I think about that book sometimes as I'm on my way to work because my commute doesn't change, and for the most part, my surroundings don't either. So when I see something out of the ordinary, it really jumps out at me. Like this...

Yes, that's a Giant Foods shopping cart chained up to a bike rack with what appears to be a pretty decent bike lock.

I've seen it chained up like this about three or four times now, but sometimes it's not there, which tells me someone is not just being possessive, but actually gets some use out of it. The Giant is a good five blocks or so away.

In other news, I was really worn out from the work week by the time this weekend rolled around, and the rainy weather didn't help to make me feel like going out either, so I took it easy. Then I got bored, so this happened:

I had some art supplies hanging around so I painted. I haven't painted anything in years, and this took me about three hours. It's a tree branch of cherry blossoms. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it yet (give it away or hang it up), but I'm not going to lie, I impressed myself a little with this project.

And finally, "boobquake," by the Washington Post. I loved this story and I hope someone includes this in his clip packet. Although clever, I thought the "scantily clad" part was pretty conservative. Probably a good thing...


Caption: "Women showing cleavage gathered in Dupont Circle, D.C. to participate in "Boobquake," a reaction to a Shiite cleric's claim that, 'Women who do not dress modestly . . . lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.' (Anna Uhls/The Washington Post)"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Happy Earth Day! Wanted to share a few of my favorite quirky Earth Day-related links in honor of love for our great mother. I'll be adding to this throughout the day.

Ellen Degeneres makes clothes from recyclables and then makes poor models walk in them on national TV.

The International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) selected the "Top 40 Nature Photography of all Time." The photos will be auctioned off today by Christie's International, and proceeds will go to various environmental groups. My favorite is the one of the lily pads. I think it looks like a painting. I can't show it here due to copyright issues, but you can view the whole slide show here.

Our solar astrophysicist on staff with my team had the in at NASA and got the most ASTOUNDING photos of our sun from NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory. Better than CNN's slide show for sure ;)
That photo doesn't do it justice though. View the whole slide show here.

And here are nine reasons why Blue is the new Green. I can't help but feel that "green" and "green living" has been so overused and misused that it's becoming obsolete.

Did you know Earth Day turned 40 this year!?

Erin blogged about what you can do for Earth Day and BONUS! There's a Sesame Street clip included!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A hard pill to swallow

I'm going to take a second and be slightly political.

The other night I was reading an article in the latest issue of Vogue, of all things, about the dangers and realities of antibiotic-feed meat, particularly beef.

First I had to get over the fact that such an article was even in the snooty fashion magazine, then I was surprised to find myself completely captivated and I read it from start to finished -- something I rarely do with their articles (hey, Vogue is sort of like Playboy for the fashion obsessed anyway, am I wrong?).

The issues over force feeding antibiotics to animals are nothing new. Health concerns with our eating beefed-up meat (oh puns) have been around for years, especially after Michael Pollen's food expose, Omnivore's Dilemma was released (I will forever be grateful to my mom for making me read it). Concerns like can this process affect our development, are the antibiotics making women infertile, is it safe for the animals, is it harmful to us -- all of these questions I had heard before. But what I hadn't heard before, and what the Vogue article taught me, was that the main antibiotics given to cows to prevent disease is tetracycline.

Forgive me if I sound naive, but the word "antibiotics" for animals sort of floated out there in space for me and it wasn't until I read "tetracycline" that it came back down and smacked me in the face. They're giving cows tetracycline?! And then we're ingesting it?!

To make it more clear, tetracycline is a broad group of antibiotics that treat a number of bacterial infections. One antibiotic in this group is amoxicillin. I have been prescribed amoxicillin and others from the tetracycline group for everything from a bladder infection to a root canal. It's the go-to bacterial-fighting drug and the fear is that through eating meat, we humans will develop a tolerance to one of the most affective antibiotics on the market. Not to mention that something we need to see a doctor and get a prescription for is being sold in livestock feed stores by the bagful.

The article goes on to mention that organic label watching is important -- something I wrote a research paper on for my junior English class -- including that "grass fed" means practically nothing unless the label says "American grass fed." It also sites a Clemson University study that found that pure grass-fed beef has a whole host most vitamins and minerals, including omega-3s and beta carotene (something I didn't know beef even had in it) than grain-fed beef.

Scary, messed up stuff!

It really puts my earlier argument into harsher perspective -- the one where I said I would be willing to pay more for meat to ensure the animals are treated humanely and antibiotic-free but still buy non-organic anyway. Maybe I shouldn't consider it an option anymore.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Family and flowers

I've gotten into a bad habit of buying potted plants -- especially flowers -- for the apartment every time I go to Eastern Market, which I would say is about once every few months. Yesterday's trip was no different. Our apartment is practically an atrium now with NINE potted plants and counting. They make the place seem homey and pretty, but it's getting ridiculous and so I've decided we've reached our plant limit. For now.

Plants usually die under my care. Some people call it over watering. I call it smothering with love.

Anyway, here's what I bought yesterday...

Portulaca

Alyssum -- although I call it "the asylum plant" because I can't ever remember "alyssum." The blue thing that it's in is actually a cheap plastic serving platter I bought at Giant.

Peppermint on the left, cilantro on the right. Bought for the purpose of making really excellent homemade mojitos and salsa. Mmmm.

I had raved about the vibrant flea and farmer market in Southeast D.C. so many times that when my parents and little sister came up to visit yesterday for Dad's birthday, that's where they wanted me to take them.

The gorgeous but blustery spring day made lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and weaving through various vendors easy and relaxing. Thing you have to be careful of, or at least I do, is when you start getting sucked into all the unique wares for sale and the line between "oh I need" and "o0o0o I want" becomes very blurry.

An 18th century map of Maryland? We definitely need that. Crazy mirror thing with embellishments? That would look great in the... well... somewhere, I'll find a place for it. This antique record player? Wild! Weird metal sculpture of a flamingo? What I've been wanting my whole life!

Luckily, I managed to escape out of there with only buying plants and three necklaces: one for my mom, my sister and I. They all look similar with small medallions inside a circular shape, just will different amounts of gold and silver and I thought it was a nice bonding item. Here's mine...

Sorry, best I could do with pointing the camera at myself with the flash off.

For Dad, gave him four Orioles tickets packaged in a redwood Cuban cigar box. Also bonding items :)

One funny moment of the day was when my dad ordered a ginger ale at lunch and the waitress said, "ginger ale? We don't have, but we have hoegaarden." Even after I tried to explain to her it was a soda, like Coke or Sprite, her response was "oh you want a Coke?" Poor thing.

Needless to say, it's hard to fail at giving the family a fun D.C. outing when you throw in really good food, artsy stuff, live street music and nice weather. A glorious way to spend a Satuday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm a little creeped out by this...

I moonlight, if you will, (that sounds so Delilah) on a weekly Discovery Channel podcast called the "Friday News Feedbag." I've blogged about it before (this week I'm hosting!) and the way it works is there are three guys on the show -- James, Jorge and Will -- and when one of them is out of the office, then I take their spot.

It's all about quirky science news and both James and Jorge (Will usually hosts) present the craziest, weirdest science stories they can find. The running joke is when I fill in for James, I become "Lames," and "Lorge" or "Laurge" if I'm filling in for Jorge, because the listeners pick their favorite story each week and since I'm only on part time, a vote for one of my stories goes to the guy I'm filling in for.

Anyway it's a lot of build up for this image we received today on the Bag's Facebook fan page:

The guy took our photos off our contributors pages on Discovery News. We were all a little creeped out. Also, impressed by the Photoshop skills. I guess now I'm truly famous.

One of Stephen's best...

Stephen Colbert had German ambassador to the UN Hans Beinholt come on The Colbert Report and denounce "cupcakes" and "children's birthday parties." Tad and I couldn't breathe after watching this. One of Colbert's best. Watch until the end -- it's totally worth it. I promise.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Thought for Food - Mentally Ill Advertisers & German Cupcakes
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News


Writer's note: I had the name wrong when I first posted this. My apologies!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

MVA headaches and rabbits

No one has a good story about the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) and in Maryland, it goes by another name - Motor Vehicle Administration - but a rose by any other name still sucks.

Called the MVA today because I had ordered renewal tags for my car about a month ago, but still haven't received the tags within the 10 business day window. However, credit card was charged the $128 the day after I submitted my request.

MVA employee: "oh, well you should have gotten them a week ago. I'll put in a request to have them mailed out to you again."

Me: "Mail them again? Can I just come in to an MVA and pick them up?"

MVA employee: "If you did that, we would charge you a processing fee. Mailing them again is free."

Seriously?!? How does that make sense. My offering to come in is free to you, MVA! What if I end up receiving both tags in the mail eventually? What's stopping me from using the other set of tags on another car, two for one, other than being a solid citizen? Or what if someone else is getting two sets of free tags at my expense?

Alas, another temporary tag to be printed out to get me through the 10 business day allotment once again. So annoying.

In other news, I'm a huge nerd. As I'm struggling through Anna Karina, I'm also re-reading Watership Down in tandem as a relief from strife in the Soviet. I was having a conversation with a coworker about my strange reading habits and he informed me that Watership Down was not only made into a full-length animated film, but you can also watch the entire thing on YouTube. Who knew?!

I loved that when he sent me a link to it, the subject of the email was simply, "Rabbits."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Terra Cotta Warriors: Cool, Meh

Writer's Note: Hey Always Fishing fans, you'll know once again my posts have become more infrequent. My beloved 7-year-old Dell has finally kicked the bucket, dead and gone for good, so my blogging capabilities have been reduced to when I can wrestle my boyfriend's computer away from him to write. Not easy when you're dating a grad student who has papers due constantly. I hope to have a new machine soon, but in the meantime, bare with me and I will try to update at least once a week.

That being said, it's no surprise to you why I'm just now blogging about my excursion to the final showing of the Terra Cotta Warriors last week.

Thousands of larger-than-life statues guarding an ancient emperor, as a big history enthusiast, I was really excited to see them. I had heard for months that it was an incredible exhibit and had been dying to go since I first found out they were coming to the National Geographic Museum in D.C. last November. Somehow, time got away from me and suddenly it was the end of March and the exhibit was closing March 31.

Thanks to a savvy friend, Tad and I were able to score two tickets to the final showing through ThingsToDoDC.com (it's a great website site for events, but it's more geared towards singles wanting to meet singles, so if you're in a relationship, skip the "receptions").

I'll spare you the details of the exhibit because what is on the NatGeo website for it is all the exhibit had to offer. Maybe a little less.

Tad and I had a lovely date night and certainly enjoyed going, but both of us felt a little disappointed. I for one was expecting more warrior statues, and we counted only seven. We were also sort of bummed at how many things in the exhibit were replicas, and that the whole thing was more "here they are! Enjoy!" and didn't explain, how the statues were removed, cleaned, reassembled, how long it took, how they were shipped here, what was next for them and the biggest puzzlement: what and where archaeologists going to dig next. The only indication given was that they were not going to touch the emperor's burial tomb.

So was the exhibit cool? Yes. Did it live up to the hype? Meh.

We did get a nice picture out of it:


Notice: Replica. Also, Poor Tad, I was wearing high heels that night :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top Chef DC Filming in Silver Spring?!?

One of my friends at work took a stroll over to Whole Foods in Silver Spring today, and snapped a photo of this posted sign in the store with her phone.


For those of you who aren't regular Bravo network watchers, Magical Elves, Inc. is a production company that produces several shows for them, including Project Runway, Treasure Hunters and -- TOP CHEF!

And scenes where chefs are racing through Whole Foods, punching each other out to get the last fresh cut of fish for the day, is a quality show staple.

Not going to lie, totally going to conveniently forget multiple items off my grocery list one day at a time so I just HAVE to run over to my local Whole Foods to buy it. Seriously, I think it'll attract more people to the store. Great marketing and legal tool, Whole Fools. BONUS!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Help me out!

Hello readers,

I need your help with a project I'm working on for Discovery.

I don't usually use my personal blog as a platform for work stuff, but this project was my idea and I think it would be awesome if I could collect photos from as many places as possible.

For the next few days, Mercury and Venus will appear together in the sky. That's where you come in: I need photos of them! More details HERE.

How to submit them to Discovery is in the link above. One guy from Denver submitted gorgeous photos, as you will see at the bottom of the post.

DEADLINE IS THURSDAY, APRIL 10. Many thanks!

Erin -- I feel like a moron not remembering to ask you while you were still in Australia. That would have been awesome, sigh. Oh well, safe travels!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

It seems I've become the default holiday blogger on my team, which is sort of funny because most holidays we have in the U.S. today have religious roots and I am not a church goer (outside of a Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday mass once in a blue moon).

However, in the past I've written on the history of Halloween, Marti Gras, St. Patrick and yes, now Easter.

Read this to find out what the Easter Bunny has to do with Jesus. Short answer: Nothing, the Easter Bunny is a pagan symbol.

Interesting too -- and I didn't include this in the Discovery blog because of all the religious fanatics already going to town in the comments section -- but through researching that topic I found one religious history professor's paper that said one of the reasons Easter is a movable holiday is so the Catholic church can pick a Sunday that won't interfere with Passover observances.

Just click on the Easter blog if nothing else than to be cuted out by the photo my coworker lent me of his 3-week-old pet bunnie buns.

Speaking of bunnie buns, allow me to take you back to how I commemorated Easter on this blog last year with GIANT BUNNIES!!!!

And let us not forget that Easter means another edition of WaPo's PEEP Show!

More to come on this blog post later, for now it's time for me to locate my white gloves and wide brimmed hat. Happy Easter!