Thursday, August 27, 2009

almost ended up in a less stylish pair of these today...

As in, the real kind. Or more likely the plastic kind. But, I'm happy not to be and given the choice would pick these stylish handcuff bracelets from b-side any day.

Favorite part: On the white pair, the tag reads “145.60,” referencing the section of NY state penal code that makes graffiti a Class A misdemeanor. Kind of like how "bathing swimming or wading in any fountain or pool except where officially authorized is prohibited." Sorry DC/ National Park Police!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

wooden jewelry

While glittery costume jewelry will someday be my downfall, sometimes I choose to embrace my hippie side. Or more likely, I like to contrast a fancy dress with more simplistic but still bold jewelry so I don't feel ridiculously overdressed during the day. On those days, I love wearing jewelry made from natural materials. Wood is a material I will never master, so I'll have to keep collecting from other artisans. I have built up a bit of a collection myself and prefer (like with most things) to buy from individual crafters or fair-trade coops. Or to buy/ be given vintage pieces. Here is a sampling of my personal collection:

The first is a pair of handmade earrings I purchased at the Ithaca Farmer's Market. I can't remember the name of the man who made them, but I love their shape and the marbling of the wood. The bracelets I found at my grandmothers. She thinks they were my great-aunt's. She had spent a lot of time in Mexico. They have a bit of wearing so I typically wear them mixed up with a large gold bangle. The last photograph is a necklace I made with a large wood and gold vintage belt buckle. Look for it listed in my store later- this is the first time I've gotten around to photographing it!

My other favorite peice of wooden jewelry is a bracelet made of large flat wooden beads with pieces of mother of pearl inlaid, but the MOP kept photographing weird so I haven't posted pictures. Both are items my mother purchased at a fair trade store. (I don't know why I couldn't get a good photograph, and the images above looked much better before I tried to post them... advice?)

Here's a few pieces I wouldn't mind adding to my collection:

These bracelets from Nkuku are absolute showstoppers. Luckily for me and sadly for you, dear readers, these bracelets are out of stock.

Nkuku is a certified 100% fair trade shop (World Fair Trade Organization and the British Association for Fair Trade Shops.) "All our products are inspired by the traditional skills of artisans throughout Africa and India. The name ‘Nkuku’ was borrowed from a village in Zambia. We combine contemporary designs with age-old techniques, natural materials and sustainable methods of production to ensure each product is truly exceptional."

Sourcing of wood can be an issue so I love these recycled wood earrings found on Etsy by inbloomdesigns, who has a whole section on recycled and repurposed wood jewelry. I especially love the story on these- made from the wood from a clementine box!

Monday, August 24, 2009

apologies for the lack of posting

I blame it (again) on my camera. I documented several things without my memory card in and now cannot transfer those images onto my computer to share. So here are a few updates with borrowed photographs/ no photographs.

So last weekend (same day as Ben's Chili Bowl, in fact- I should have worried more about nutrition) I decided to make a snack/dinner that is rather wintery- Panfriend Smashed Potatoes from Gourmet via Epicurious. I had made these once before. I loved them, though my boyfriend got creeped out watching the amount of oil you use to cook them. An important thing here is patience. You really need to let the potatoes fry up nicely or they will be greasy. I was a little impatient this time and they were not as tasty as the first time I made them.

Tonight I made a healthier dinner. I was in charge of cooking for the house and after finding a good deal on basil at the grocery decided to make pesto. I more or less made up the recipe as I went, blending the pesto in a blender instead of a food processor due to our limited kitchen appliances. A key to that was going slowly and starting off with a much higher proportion of olive oil and then slowly adding the greens. All in all I used about 7 cups of basil, 4 cups of spinach, 1.5 cups of toasted pine nuts, 2 bulbs of garlic, salt and pepper to taste and olive oil to get the right consistency. Everyone loved it, though it was very garlic-y. I pour this over 3 boxes of pasta. Because we have a few vegans in the house, I just put Parmesan on the side but it would have been nice to blend it in. I'm very excited to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Monday, August 17, 2009

in my new neighborhood

One thing I did this weekend is find a place to stay for September as I work out long-term plans! I didn't make the decision until Sunday but it may have been influenced from hanging out in the neighborhood the day before....

Saturday I (with my roomates once again!) headed up to U-street to go to a thifting (post on my awesome finds coming soon!) One roomate and I got a little hungry so we decided to go to one of my favorite places- Ben's Chili Bowl. I am a fan of potatoes, melty cheese, and all things greasy. Thus, Ben's Chili Bowl's chili cheese fries are pretty much the BEST thing ever in my book. When we got there, they had just made a fresh batch of fries so the fries were super crispy and delish. The cheese is the standard Velvetta type that is so bad but so good. And the chili is excellent. My friend is a vegetarian, so we got the veggie chili cheese fries (I definitely recommend spliting an order) and I doubt anyone could tell it was fake meat in there. I am not sure if I'd really want a bowl of the chili on it's own but it's perfect over the fries.

Ben's has been around forever in DC (okay, since 1958) and EVERYONE goes to Ben's. There are pictures of famous people all over the place which is especially funny because Ben's is a dive. But in the best way. Whenever you go, there will be a line. 10am for breakfast or 3am for drunk food.

When I was in DC just before the inaguration, President Obama ate there with Mayor Fenty. I happened to be in area that same night (like 8 hours later) and went with a group of friends. There was already a sign over the table where he ate marking it. I'm sure that President Obama didn't end up eating there just because Ben's chili is so good. When Ben's opened on U-street, the area was known as the "Black Broadway." According to Ben's website, patrons included Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, MLK Jr, Nat King Cole and more. Bill Crosby is a favorite of the house. When Dr. King was assassinated, there were riots in DC and much of the U-street area was destroyed. Ben's recieved permission to stay open though the riots despite the curfew and provided shelter and medical care. After the riots, the area went through several tough decades but now has had a lot of growth. Ben's serves as a crucial landmark for the area's identity. And serves up a mean basket of chili cheese fries (meat-optional.)

(Sorry for the slightly awkward photo. We ate our chili cheese fries way to fast to get a photo but I found this one on TripAdvisor. )

hazy, lazy, crazy days

This weekend turned out all kinds of amazing and crazy that were totally unexpected. I took photos of several things I want to share, but am having technical difficulties with my camera (of course) so instead will share a few places I ate and hung out this weekend. To those of you familiar with DC, these are not the most secretive of hideaways but instead DC institutions that we all love.

Friday night I met up with housemates at Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan. Several of my housemates had been craving falafel and I had never been but had heard great things. We left completely stuffed and staggered around Adams Morgan after our meal. At Amsterdam Falafel you basically get a falafel (there is an option for a 'small' and I recommend that size), tell them if you want white or wheat pita, and then have at a ridiculous array of toppings to choose from. The photo on the left (and below) is from their website. Mine was covered mostly in cucumbers with some fresh tomatoes, plus a little sauce. YUM! Please note the falafel pictured here is the least filled falafel I have ever seen. My roomates and I took full advantage of the toppings bar.

Definitely be sure to get the fries too. They are perfect- crispy and fresh but still clearly potato. Multiple fry-dipping options include traditional Dutch mayo, homemade peanut 'saus', malt vinegar, Old Bay seasoning and ketchup. I am a big fan of malt vinegar and Old Bay, but on fries as hot and crisp as this I prefer ketchup and/or mayo. Check out where I ate Saturday next!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

first i need a house

Then I need a yard.

Then I will make these (from Design*Sponge)

Then I will throw amazing parties in my yard.

I love love love blue glass, and wonder where there bottles came from. I try not to buy wine in blue bottles since many places don't recycle blue glass, unless I have a good idea of what to do with the bottle.

These torches would be the perfect solution- reuse, repurpose, renew an item that cannot be recycled conventionally.

rain clouds don't worry me

Check out this adorable skirt (reposted from Design-Milk) made out of an umbrella.

I'm not totally sure I would wear one- definitely depends on the pattern. But I wish that I could read the website! Anyone want to translate for me?

And what do you think? Would you wear an umbrella skirt?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

blue crabbin' on the bay

Growing up on the Chesapeake Bay, my friends and I loved crabbing in the summer. The 'watermen' who made their livelihood crabbing and fishing and oyster-ing used crab pots but my friends and I kept things simplier. We just put bacon on a hook and dropped it off the dock. When we felt something pulling on the end of the string, we'd scoop up the crab with a net. We never ate the crabs we caught, we'd just put them on the deck and wait for them to scurry off the side.

Chesapeake blue crabs are beautiful. People from elsewhere never realize that the crabs actually have such vibrant blue and green colors. I found these pinchers on the beach and am trying to figure out how to display them. Any ideas? I have three. (The two in the photo and one more.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

perfect summer meal

While at the beach, my parents and I put together this amazing dinner. I felt so healthy eating it. This photo shows our (local) cantelope, red pepper and avocado slices, strawberries, (local) tomatoes. (Plus our lemon slices.)

And yes, those tomato slices are from the delicious tomato mentioned in the previous post. We ate them sliced with a bit of oil and ground pepper. That is my absolute favorite preparation for just about anything.

I just loved the way that everything looked laid out on the table. That's actually only half our meal. We also had "Chicken Brushetta" which was basically what it sounds like. Brushetta topping on top of chicken. Yum!

My favorite part of the meal, however, was the asparagus. I love love love asparagus and my mom makes them roasted in the oven with olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Often we'll roast them until the stalks get mushy then the tips get crispy. But these asparagus where so fresh and tasty that she just cooked them briefly and we ate them warm but still freshly crisp.

I am trying to eat more in season, but sadly this meal shows how poorly I have been doing. I keep blaming this on so many of my meals being planned by other people- by my mom or by the group house- but I know I need to be more responsible as well. For instance, my love of avocados? Yeah, not exactly grown in DC.

What are your favorite veggies and do you manage to eat them just when they are in season? What are your types for keeping up to date on local foods and growing seasons?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

goal setting

I want to post six days a week (I'm giving myself Fridays off, since I often am not on my computer much during non-work hours.)

That said, today (Saturday!) I worked all day. And I work all day tomorrow. BUT that means I'm taking a lovely mid-week vacay to see my parents on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a magical wonderful restorative place.

Now, you are wondering what's going on with the yummy looking tomatoes with the name tags? Well, I said I worked all day. And the partner group of organization that I work for had a picnic this evening, where I was given those by the farmer who grew them. Don't they look amazing?! I can't wait to share them with my family tomorrow!

So why is my name on them? I've mentioned I live in a group house, right? Labeling is a necessity because there is lots of shared food in the house and I'd be oh-so sad to come down and have my tomatos gobbled up in the middle of the night.