Edible Bucket List

Edible Bucket List

If you know me, you know one of my favorite activities is cooking. If you know me well, you know that my favorite thing to cook is something that will be shared. I love quality, seasonal ingredients and unusual flavor combinations. There’s so much I don’t know about cooking, though, and I’m eager to learn and discover it. This is my fall bucket list, food, drink, and cooking edition. 

Have a dinner party. 

I love to cook for people. I always say, “It’s more fun to cook for others than it is to cook for yourself.” Something about laboring over something that nourishes body and soul is immensely appealing to me. Add in some good beer and wine, music, and company, and you’re set for a great night all around. The dinner party I’d like to throw would be almost all-out, with appetizers and multiple courses, but no formal dress required. Autumn seems as good a time as any for a nice meal and great night with friends and family.

Learn to cook Brussels sprouts.

I enjoy Brussels sprouts, when they’re cooked well. I guess that can be said for any food, though; it’s most enjoyable when it’s well-cooked. There are so many good recipes that utilize Brussels sprouts out there in the world that I’m looking forward to cooking with them and seeing which are my favorites. 

Make soup. 

Soup is another food I’ve never made. I love soup, especially in the colder months, and I especially love chicken noodle with vegetables. I’d love to learn to make another kind of soup, too, maybe minestrone or butternut squash. I’ve got months to do it, though, so maybe I’ll make both over the course of them. If you have any recipe recommendations, please leave them in the comments below! 

Visit a winery. 

Since I’ve been legally able to drink, I’ve never been to a winery. When I went before I turned twenty-one, I had to sit and watch everyone else trying the wines. I love wine, so the fact that I haven’t been to a winery when I can participate is a little strange. Now the leaves are beginning to change, so I think it would be lovely to bundle up and go before the wineries near me close for the season. 

What is your favorite fall food, drink, or comestible to make? Do you have any recommendations? Leave them in the comments below – happy fall!

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My Dog Is Weird

My Dog Is Weird

My dog is weird.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know Brie’s origin story: starving, mangy Puerto Rican street dog boards a private jet to a new life in Northern Virginia, where she is nursed back to health, cared for, and adored. You know she’s the most loving, pure, friendly little golden fluffball – anyone who’s met her can attest to this. Here are a few facts about Brie that are a little unusual.

She gives hugs. We call them “Brie-hugs.” A “Brie-hug” is something she does for maximum body contact with you. It’s when she puts her front paws on your forearms, then spins around so her back is against your legs and abdomen. If she’s really excited, you’ll feel the fur of and wind made by her tail wagging between your legs. It’s a high honor to be given a “Brie-hug.” 

She loves – I mean loves – to be held like a baby. If you’re sitting, she knows she is only allowed on furniture if she’s completely on a human who is on it (so the allergens in her fur don’t get on/in the furniture as much, since my mother is allergic to dogs), so it’s likely that, if she likes you, she’ll jump onto your lap. From there she spins so her back is to you, and then you can position her on her back, cradling her upper body in one arm and rubbing her belly or holding her back legs with the other. I’ve never met a dog who not only tolerates this, but enjoys it. 

She loves kisses and hugs and being the little spoon. She likes hugs, if they’re not too long. She’s a great little spoon (sometimes I let her in my bed, okay? She knows she’s only allowed up there with permission), though she does require belly rubs as you cuddle her. She loves kisses, and when she jumps on your lap facing you for the first couple seconds, she regularly puts her silky little head down to be kissed. 

Though she is insanely friendly and crazy cuddly, Brie is actually an introvert. She’ll bask in attention for a good while. But, eventually, her need for peace and quiet wins over her need for attention and affection, and she’ll go to her bed or her crate for it, and nothing will get her out of it. 

What strange things does your dog do? Do they do any of the things Brie does? Let me know in the comments below!

2019 Fall Must-Haves

2019 Fall Must-Haves

Fall is here! And with it, here are my fall must-haves for 2019. These are some of the products I swear by and some of the things I love during the fall.

A candle that makes you feel cozy

I love candles, but I especially love candles in the fall and winter, because the ever-so-slight smell of a tiny fire is the epitome of coziness to me. Typically, I love fresh, clean, slightly floral scents – the kind that conjure bright late spring mornings in a dewy field of flowers, while laundry snaps in a breeze on the line above. Though lighting candles with such scents can be uplifting during the colder, darker months, I can branch out to darker scents as well. 

This one, from Target, intrigues me: Fall Day, which is described as having “bergamot, apple, and pear” notes. The second, also from Target, is a tried-and-true favorite of mine: Cozy Flannel, which has “citrus, lavender, and violet” notes. With price tags like $4.99 for 4.1oz and $9.99 for 15.1oz, they’re definitely affordable, and the scent lasts throughout the whole burn time (around 20 and 50 hours, respectively). 

Image result for target cozy flannel candle

A signature fall scent

If you know me, you know that I love perfume. I’ve always been a little bit of a perfume hound, though I’ve gotten better as of late. My collection now only has three perfumes: one for spring and summer, one that is no longer made that I refuse to use except sparingly, and one for fall and winter. My fall and winter scent has been Coach by Coach for about two years now. I believe the scent is too heavy for the warmer months, but it’s just right for the cooler ones. Its notes are, from top to bottom, raspberry leaves, Turkish roses, and suede musks (stay tuned till springtime for my spring/summer perfume.).

EAU DE PARFUM 3 PIECE GIFT SET

Hand Food

In the last few months, I have fallen in love with Hand Food by Soap & Glory. This moisturizer promises to moisturize without that greasy feeling, and it delivers on that promise. With shea butter and macadamia oil, it moisturizes my dry cuticles and knuckles, and there’s no greasiness once it’s on my hands. Plus, it smells amazing, but not overwhelming. With the drier weather, it’s important to keep your hands moisturized, especially if you’re trying to preserve your manicure. Make sure to massage it into your cuticles and nails to promote nail and cuticle health.

HAND FOOD™

A TBR

One of my favorite things to do during the fall is read. There’s something about the lessened warmth and light that encourages curling up with a book. It’s great to cuddle up in a blanket and read while the wind howls or rain falls outside. It’s even better to spread a blanket or sit on a bench outside and read in the still-warm sunshine, feeling the cool air blowing the pages and your hair. If you’d like to see my to-be-read (TBR) list, comment below!

September Musings

September Musings

I’m sitting outside on a lovely September evening. I’ve been out here for almost two hours, and I brought the little Brie out with me. She has been lounging, rubbing herself in the grass, and most recently had the zoomies, which is always adorable. We’ve been playing her favorite game off and on the whole time we’ve been out here: chase Brie. I don’t even really have to chase her, just say “I’m gonna getcha,” and lunge at her. She takes off right away, or she rolls on her back for belly rubs. Either way, what bliss, for both her and me! 

The air is perfect. Earlier the sun was hot, but under it the air and the breeze promised that once the sun had retired, all would be comfortable. It is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer, I really do. But it is just beginning to feel almost like fall here in the DC area, and I can’t help but have mixed feelings about it. First, there is relief that it finally won’t feel like pea soup outside, thick and wet and heavy and hot, and there is the resulting relief that I will no longer be required by the temperature to wear shorts if I don’t feel like wearing a dress or skirt.

There’s a tinge of sadness to the slow retreat of summer, though. It is a slow retreat here; it won’t truly be “cold” at night until around Halloween. My happiest childhood and teenage memories were made during summers. And although I have been in school part-time every summer since I began college, summer brings that sense of freedom, just as if I was still getting a break from “real life,” whether it be academia or working. I wonder if it’s always this way.

Doing Better

Doing Better

For those of you who have been following my blog, first of all – thank you. Second, you probably know that I am trying to love myself warts and all, improve myself, and am also trying to lose weight. In the last almost three years, I had gained about 100 pounds due to a certain medication, combined with a few less-than-awesome habits. 

Well, since my last birthday, I have lost a total of twenty pounds, about half of it in the last month. I returned from Amsterdam on Wednesday and found when I weighed myself Thursday that I had lost two pounds since I left. Walking about five miles a day and eating European portions definitely contributed to that, but I wonder how much more weight I would’ve lost if I had been able to drink as much water in Europe as I can in the States. 

Of course, it isn’t that water isn’t available in Europe – of course it is. But, if you didn’t know, unlike at restaurants in America, water isn’t free there. You have to pay for the large bottle for the table. It seems almost criminal to me, especially since their tap water is held to at least the same standards as most American water. 

Anyway, if water had been as cheap (read: free) in Amsterdam as it is in the States, I would definitely have drunk more of it. I wonder how much more weight I would have lost, filling my stomach with water instead of food, alcohol, and cane-sugar Coca-Cola. 

Still, I’m happy with the progress. A great big thank you and hallelujah to my new med, which  improves my functionality in every facet of my day-to-day life, and also decreases my appetite. I also crave healthier foods and much smaller amounts of unhealthy foods when I do crave them, though that could just be my willpower, since I know when I’m actually hungry I should be making the most of my hunger, nutritionally. I also limit myself on unhealthy foods, which decreases my cravings for them. Lastly, I watch less cable TV, which you wouldn’t think would be significant. It is significant for me, though, because I am incredibly suggestible when it comes to food commercials.

I’m learning my triggers, and I’m learning effective ways to avoid and fight them. I’m moving, I’m eating better, I’m taking my meds, I’m seeing doctors. People are beginning to notice, which is incredibly encouraging. 

Tell me your thoughts on paying for water at a restaurant, or about your weight loss journey, or anything at all. I’d love to hear from you!

Me, Friday 13 September

Amsterdam: Days 3-5

Amsterdam: Days 3-5

I’m stateside again, and I believe I owe you a description of my last three days in Amsterdam. Those last few days were delightful. Read on, reader!

DAY THREE

On Sunday, we went to the Happy Pig Pancake Shop for Dutch pancakes, which are quite similar to crepes in that they are large and very thin. Ben got one with chocolate-hazelnut sauce, strawberries, bacon, toasted almonds, and whipped cream. Mine had Gouda, melted from the warmth of the pancake, and the most divine fig jam I’ve ever tasted. 

We walked through the Bloemenmarkt, a large floating flower market, which was gorgeous; I dearly love flowers. I was tempted to buy some seeds and bulbs for myself and my father, but I knew that would involve a lot of paperwork at customs, so I resisted.

DSC_0115

After a nap, we spent the afternoon eating, walking, and later, drinking at various bars. We walked through the Red Light District again, and sat on the canal, our feet hanging over the water.

DAY FOUR

Monday morning, I woke up just before nine and got on the Anne Frank house website and waited for the tickets reserved for the day to go on sale. I procured two for the afternoon (thank God!). We also had tickets to the Van Gogh museum, which was our first stop for the day.

DSC_0003.JPGAfter a quick brunch after we’d finished at Van Gogh, we took the tram to the Anne Frank house. The line was long, but we got in during our window! It was a slow tour with so much information, and I couldn’t speak, I was so moved. I purchased a copy of her diary in Italian and a blank journal decorated in a style inspired by her original diary. 

After the house, we walked to another pancake shop. Ben got an unbelievably huge omelette, and I ordered a pancake with Nutella. Everything was delicious.

I had a desire to see some windmills, so we took the train to Zaandam. Zaandam is a suburb of Amsterdam, just north of the city. Unfortunately, as it was a Monday evening, not much was open. We managed to find a beautiful bar, where we camped out till closing. I journaled and Ben read. Still, the windmills were beautiful, and the town was charming. 

DAY FIVE

This was our last full day in Amsterdam! We went to the Palace in the morning. The Palace is somehow simultaneously ostentatious, gorgeous, and tasteful. Unlike every picture of Versailles I’ve ever seen, when you walk around the Palace, you’re struck with awe not because of decadence, but because of its beauty.

After, we crossed off another activity on my list: shopping at Primark. Oh boy, I really fell in love! The clothes are so affordable and fashionable. It’s like the Irish-originated H&M. 

We stopped in a café, where I wrote my last blog post. We had a lovely and very long dinner at a little Italian restaurant before heading back to the hotel for the last time.

Amsterdam: Days 1 and 2

Amsterdam: Days 1 and 2

Well, friends, it’s officially my last full day in Amsterdam. What a trip this has been! Again I have to thank the boyfriend greatly for making this possible in every way. I thought, since today we decided to spend most of the day camped out in a cafe, that I might tell you about the first two days I spent here. 

DAY ONE:

The flight was uneventful. My seatmate was chatty, but nice. I only slept an hour, but as I spent most of the flight trying to sleep, I was still resting my eyes and body. There was a family with a baby and a small child on the flight as well, but whatever those parents did worked, because I forgot until we landed that there was a baby on the flight at all, and only remembered then because I saw them!

We landed at seven Friday morning. We were on track to arrive sooner, but had to circle a bit in the sky, as Amsterdam has a law that says planes can’t land until at least seven a.m.! But it was because of this that we got to see the beautiful sunrise over the clouds, so I wasn’t too upset. The boyfriend came to get me in the airport, though we just kept missing each other. Once we’d located each other, we took the train to the hotel. 

The Jaz Hotel Amsterdam is in a quieter part of the city, south of city center. It is about a half-mile walk to the train, and a ten- or fifteen-minute train ride into downtown. Once there, we relied on trams. We’d purchased a five-day pass for each of us, which ensured we could ride the train and tram an unlimited number of times during those 120 hours for under 30 euro (Nice one, Amsterdam!).

I took a nap, having only slept one hour on the plane, and then we went into downtown. We got lunch at the Food Hall and walked the area around the Palace. We stopped in H&M, because it’s cheaper over here, and I got two shirts (Side note: the sheer number of H&Ms in Amsterdam is ridiculous. It was the one thing that kept confusing me about all the neighborhoods we visited, because, I kid you not, every single one had an H&M, usually on the corner of two streets. Otherwise, I naturally find my way around new places very quickly.). The exhaustion of the day began to catch up with me, and we decided to return to the hotel for a quick nap before dinner.

We ended up sleeping five hours, and woke up hungry. There was little open around the hotel, and we knew the trains stopped running at midnight. That left us with only one option: the dreaded hotel restaurant. The food was good, but overpriced. We returned to sleep almost immediately after dinner. 

DAY TWO:

We actually got up in the morning on Saturday, and rode the train and tram to a cute cafe called Small Talk. We found, to our dismay, that tickets for the Van Gogh museum were already sold out for the day, but managed to purchase tickets for the Rijksmuseum. We looked at every piece of art, except for that from the Middle Ages (we’re both not as interested in it).

Because walking the massive museum was apparently not enough, we walked some more to a bar on a canal. We sat alongside it, the canal just below us. We shopped at H&M, this time for Ben, and spent awhile in a bookstore, where I bought an English book and a book in Italian. We dined at Cafe Gasthuys, a charming restaurant in the Old World style, then walked through the red light district. After sitting and drinking at a bar on the canal (Mankind), we headed back to bed.

More to come on days 3-5 later!