But let me rewind a bit and start from last week. It all began with a notice from Pepco (our electric company) saying that our power would be out between 8:30 am–6 pm on Wednesday, November 28. I wasn’t pleased, but with a week’s notice I was able to make arrangements to work at a friend’s house yesterday. I mean, a girl can only work from Starbucks for so long…
So I spent yesterday working with my on-again, off-again intern Bo, went to jazzercise, and got home to find that all the clocks were correct. The power had been on all day. I had no idea what that meant. The slip from Pepco had said that the power would be off on Thursday if Wednesday had inclement weather and they weren’t able to work, although I couldn’t see how sunshine and a light breeze counted as inclement weather.
At 8:30 this morning we still had power which meant I could blow dry my hair and get a bit of work done. I went out to run an errand and when I got back about 10:30 the power had gone bye-bye. I worked for about an hour on my fully charged laptop then really needed an internet connection, so I headed out on a quest for the world wide web.
My first stop was at the house I worked at yesterday and once there I worked from the car (since the alarm at the house was on today, I couldn’t hang out with Bo again unless I wanted to get arrested). I frantically sent a handful of emails and took care of some small projects from the driver’s seat (thank goodness for strong internet connections!). While in my mobile office I connected with another friend who had left a key in her lock box for someone who was planning to stop by her house later today. She passed along the combination giving me space to work this afternoon.
Now I am comfortably ensconced on her couch with random TV playing in the background as I eat my falafel sandwich and work to get caught up after my crazy morning. Thank goodness for friends!
Although I missed out on three of the nine weeks because of Frankenstorm and spending the first part of November in California, I did my best to snag that free drink each week and this morning was no exception.
Of course, a free iced coffee (with a little milk and mocha flavor) wasn’t quite enough so I splurged and treated myself to a pumpkin donut, too. What a perfect way to kick start this post-holiday week!
I’ve been back in DC for a little over a week and am starting to get settled in my new routine. The key change is that I have to make dinner for myself, something that my husband would normally take care of while I am at jazzercise. Alas, I’m on my own and despite not being very excited about cooking, I do love food and am trying to make healthy choices (most of the time) without the chef around to guide me. Because I usually can’t get started cooking until 7:15ish most nights and tend to be a hungry hippo when I arrive home from class, I’m also leaning toward meals that are relatively quick.
My first home cooked meal was veggie curry. Thanks to my hubby, the sauce — a delicious concoction of tomatoes, onions, fresh ginger, garlic, jalapenos, garam masala, and tumeric — was in the freezer, so this was a great choice for a post-work out dinner.
Step 1: I thawed the sauce (yes, we freeze our homemade sauce in recycled store bought curry jars… Easy to identify that way), pulled out the small le creuset, and cleaned some red potatoes and carrots.
Step 2: After chopping the veggies up, I sauteed them with some olive oil for about 10 minutes so they would start to soften up.
Step 3: Then I added the sauce and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes (okay this may not be the fastest option, but it is so good it was worth the wait).
Step 4: Once the veggies were soft, I topped my dinner portion with some nonfat sour cream et voila! Totally delicious (and healthy)!
As soon as I found out my husband was going to Afghanistan for 6+ months, I started mentioning things I hoped he could take care of around the house prior to leaving, like putting up storm windows, organizing our utility room and, of course, cooking meals to freeze. He told me to make a list. So I did.
Although he only had a few weeks to complete it — and told me I was adding things faster than he could cross them off — he did a pretty good job getting things done, so I had to let him go. Little did I know he’d leave ME a list of projects to take care of while he is away!
Only time will tell if I can finish up my tasks as well as he did. At least my list is significantly shorter!
All California adventures include a wine tasting (or three). Typically my husband and I venture to our favorite places in nearby Lodi or the Amador County Foothills with my in-laws, but on this visit I was on my own (my husband is in Afghanistan and my in-laws are in Colombia). Even without the usual suspects to join me, it didn’t mean that this visit was winery free.
On Saturday my aunt and uncle invited me to join them for a member party at Fieldstone Winery in Healdsburg and despite being a chilly day, the sun was shining on the hills and it was gorgeous. And a girl really can’t complain when lunch consists of meatball sliders, fresh green salad and lovely glass of deep red sangiovese! On Sunday I went with my husband’s uncle to a wine release party at the Boitano tasting room in Lockeford’s Vino Piazza. We sipped their delicious reds, lunched on pasta, salad and roasted garlic, then headed home with 3.5 cases of wine (to be fair 18 of those bottles were futures that we were picking up for my in-laws).
Whenever I am in California, I always make an effort to get to my favorite food places (more than once if I can help it!)
Here are some of my dining must-haves when I am in the Central Valley:
• Dynasty: For my must-have Dim Sum fix, I stop into Dynasty. It’s the only place I have a chance to get my beloved, but rarely eaten, steamed and baked pork buns. Hey, you have to have options! We haven’t found any remarkable Chinese food in DC and there is no Dim Sum in our neighborhood so I try my best to get my fix when in California.
• House of Shaw: I find myself here for a daily visit to grab a delicious iced mocha (except Sundays when they are closed, darn them) and frequently also make this a meeting spot to catch up with old friends. As soon as I walk in the door, the owner is getting my iced mocha ready and when I stay to eat I always enjoy my food too.
• In & Out: I’m not a big burger person, but when in California I have to indulge myself with a plain cheeseburger (just the meat, cheese, and bun) and an order of fries. If the visit is longer than a week I tend to find myself craving a second visit. I think what makes it special and oh so good is the freshness. Yum!
• Matsuyama: Just like Chinese food, our neighborhood in DC doesn’t have any sushi options, so I always like to grab a roll or two for lunch one day. This visit included a tempura shrimp roll and a spicy tuna roll — nothing too crazy, but it was tasty!
• Wine Wizards: I grew up eating here with my parents for special Friday night dinners or Saturday lunches. I also used to waitress at WW during the summers of college and part-time in graduate school. While I wholeheartedly believe I was a terrible waitress I love the food, which hasn’t changed too much since my earliest visits nearly 30 years ago, and typically know almost all of the other people there when I stop in. All of the rotating special soups and quiches are delicious and I know that you can never go wrong with the always available French Onion Soup and Potato Raclette with Ham—two of my winter favorites. I’m getting hungry now just thinking about it!
Bonnie—also known as The Bonster, Bonnie Bear, and Bonster Monster—is the most spoiled dog who has ever lived with my parents. When I was growing up we always had sweet labs in the house (there was Bunny, Daisy, Shady and Sunny prior to Bonnie), but those pups did not live the life of luxury to which Bonnie has become accustomed.
Bonnie is definitely the spoiled youngest child. She’s got a toy box that includes an Eeyore she likes to snuggle, a mooing cow, and not one but two Snoopies that squeak (among other things). Bonnie also has a dog house in the backyard and, like Motel 6, my parents “leave the light on” for her at night because if they didn’t she’d “get scared.” No, seriously, Bonnie the black lab is apparently afraid of the dark…
This weekend while my parents and I watched a basketball game together, Bonnie enjoyed joining us in the living room, although I had to sit on the stairs since the couch was a bit full (mind you, it easily seats 6). Oh, and no dog pre-Bonnie has been allowed on the couch. Ever.