Tag Archives: birthdays

Summer in the Winter

3 Dec

IMG_1555[1]It’s a winter wonderland in Washington, D.C.! Actually, not really. This picture is at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, where Stef and I went ice skating over the weekend. Despite the winter-y set up, it is so mild over here! We’re talking highs of sixty degrees at the beginning of December – say whaaat??

Despite the warm weather, Stef and I had a great time at the rink – it was really busy and the people watching was almost as good as the ice skating, something I haven’t done in years.

This also happened:

IMG_1544[1]I have limited my pasta intake significantly since moving back from Rome, but once in awhile I like to indulge and this was a fabulous way to do so. I will post the recipe at the end of the post (it’s super easy – like everything I make).

IMG_1549[1]Another  special treat was homemade lox bagels for lunch. I rarely buy lox as they’re rather expensive, but I had a craving that was too strong to ignore, so Stef and I picked up some Wild Alaskan salmon at Trader Joe’s to spice up these bagels. The salmon was smoke with Washington State applewood (yay, Washington!) and the smokiness was evident in the flavor of the lox – it was delicious!

Saturday was special because it marked the first of December – one of my very favorite months. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it’s kicked off with my brother’s birthday! He turned 21 on the first (oh my goodness!!!) and I really wished that I could have been there to celebrate with him. Luckily, I will be back in Seattle in just a couple of weeks and we can celebrate belatedly! And because I have no shame or fear of embarrassment, here is a serious throwback picture of the two of us when we were little.

IMG_1546[1]Weren’t we just the cutest? Note how I am basically forcing him to hug me? I was an aggressive little kid, even back then.

The rest of the weekend was nice and low-key, which is just the way I like it. The Seahawks beat the Bears in overtime and the University of Washington volleyball team beat Hawai’i to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament! I stayed up wayyy past my bedtime to live stream the latter game and it was so worth it.

The highlight meal of the weekend was definitely the pasta  I posted above, so I am going to share the super easy recipe with you here. It’s wonderfully light and is more suited towards the summer, but the weather was so warm over the weekend that it somehow felt appropriate!

Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp Linguine (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. shrimp (fresh or frozen will do)
  • 16 oz. dry linguine pasta
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tblsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated parmiggiano-reggiano (optional, to taste)

What to do:

  • In a large pan, saute the shallots and garlic in the olive oil, until the shallots are soft. Make sure the garlic doesn’t get brown, otherwise it acquires a really unappealing bitter taste.
  • In a large pot of boiling water, add the linguine and cook for about 10 minutes, or until cooked al dente.
  • Add butter, lemon zest, parsley, and shrimp to pan and cook until butter is melted and shrimp is pink, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Drain linguine and add to the pan, making sure the mixture covers the noodles.
  • Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
  • Transfer to bowls and top with grated parmiggiano-reggiano, if desired.

Stef and I made the full portion and saved half of it for another meal. When we ate it the second time, we found that the lemon and garlic had really absorbed into the linguine and made the pasta much more flavorful, so this pasta gets a thumbs up for leftovers!

Food For Thought: Is it starting to feel like winter where you live? What are your favorite things about December?

I am starting to count down the days until Stef and I are home for the holidays – it will be so good to see friends and family again! Now that it is December, I can officially start my holiday Pandora playlist and get excited for all the things that come with the month. Hoping you all have a great start to this week!

 

 

 

 

Out of the Ordinary

30 Nov

Happy Friday!!!! I don’t know about you all, dear readers, but I thought the end of this week would never arrive. The Thanksgiving holiday was just enough to get me into the routine of not working and this week has been an unwelcome transition. If only I had won the lottery…

So yesterday, I did something pretty out of the ordinary – for me, anyway.

IMG_1537[1]Yep, I got on the treadmill and ran. My friend Ellen is convincing me to sign up for the Jingle All the Way 8k in Washington next weekend and I figured that I should probably try to run five miles before the race. I haven’t been on a treadmill (or been running, in general) since Labor Day, so you can imagine that I was feeling a bit rusty. My heart rate and breathing were fine, but I ran more slowly than usual and ended up calling it quits before the five mile mark because my left knee was acting up again. I am definitely going to get it looked at by my PCP when I’m in Seattle.

On my way home from the gym, I walked by my festive neighbor’s house and they have their Christmas decorations up!

IMG_1538[1]I am refusing to do anything Christmas-related until December (tomorrow, yay!), which includes listening to my Christmas music on Pandora, but this little preview made me super ready for the holidays. It also means that Stef and I go back home to visit in three weeks!

December always marks winter for me, even though winter doesn’t technically start until the end of December. For me, winter means soup and so I fiddled around with a soup recipe last night that I want to share with you. It’s a take on pasta and bean soup, which some of you may know as pasta e fagioli in Italian. It’s a hearty yet light soup that’s filled with all kinds of yummy ingredients like cannelloni beans. Now, this is not the most traditional pasta e fagioli (it uses whole wheat pasta, for starters), but I promise that it still tastes good! Especially when you pair it with a crusty loaf of olive and herb bread for dipping.

IMG_1539[1]

Pasta e Fagioli (vegan!)

What you need:

  • (1) 16 oz. can of kidney beans (drained)
  • (1) 16 oz. can of cannelloni or navy beans (drained)
  • (1) 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 4 oz. dry pasta (traditionally it’s elbow pasta or tubettini, but I use whatever is on hand)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. of each dried thyme/sage/rosemary
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • Grated parmiggiano-reggiano to top (optional)

IMG_1540[1]

What you do:

  1. Saute onions and garlic with olive oil in the pot you’ll be using, until onions are tender
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add dried pasta to pot and bring back up to a boil and cook until pasta is al dente, about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Top with grated parmiggiano-reggiano (optional) and serve with a nice loaf of crusty bread to dip in the soup!

IMG_1542[1]

The great part about this soup is that it can be modified in so many ways. You can include whichever kind of beans you like, whatever kind of pasta you prefer, and it turns out wonderfully, regardless! I love putting a few shavings of parmiggiano-reggiano on the top so it can melt into the soup and add a little saltiness, but if you want to keep it vegan, all you have to do is leave the cheese off.

I can guarantee that this meal is going to be in heavy rotation in the upcoming months on this blog, so keep an eye out for the different variations that pop up on the blog!

What do you have planned for the weekend, dear readers? Stefano and I are planning to go ice-skating at the National Gallery of Art tonight. I haven’t skated in a million years and I have only skated in an outdoor rink once, so I’m looking forward to it. There is a Christmas tree lighting in my neighborhood tomorrow evening and then I’m headed out with some friends to go see the White Ford Bronco show. They’re a 90’s cover band and they play some awesome classics, like Will Smith’s “Miami“, Eve 6’s “Inside Out“, and even some N’Synce. It’s fabulous.

Before I sign off for the weekend, I want to make a HUGE shout-out to one of my oldest and bestest friends, Rosa, because today is her birthday. She and I met in after-school day care when we were about seven years old and have been friends ever since. Since we had similar features growing up, she and I always dressed up for Twin Day (remember those themed days in school?) together. We have a mutual love of the Beatles, pound cake, and good books. Rosa is living in the Big Apple now and is in graduate school for social work and just generally doing great things with her life. I am so excited to go up there and visit soon! She came to visit me when I was living in Rome and I had such a good time showing her around the city. We even took a day-trip to Naples with a couple of my friends so she could try authentic pizza from the source! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, love you, girl!

537846_10151466073670085_735900414_nAnd with that, it is time to sign off. Have a wonderful last day of November, catch ya next month!

 

 

 

 

 

What’s My Age Again?

24 Oct

Hey, hey, hey!

So I’m 23 now and it feels…well, it feels like 22 does, but somehow even less exciting. At what age is it appropriate to just stop looking forward to birthdays because it’s only a reminder that you’re getting older? One birthday related thing I never tire of is beautiful flowers from the boyfriend.

Other than my beautiful bouquet and wonderful gifts, my birthday was pretty low-key. Lunch was packed, I read a book, and ate a pretty usual meal.

After work, I went to the gym to get my Zumba on. Our usual instructor was out, so we had a sub who did a fabulous job. Her dance style was more Cuban and I had a lot of fun! When I got home, one of my roommates was around and we sat in the kitchen and chatted while I made dinner.

On the plate: balsamic vinegar-infused couscous, some frozen veggies that had been sauteed in balsamic vinegar, and two mashed sweet potatoes with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt on top. I used TWO dishes – win. I am so into sweet potato, squash, and other root vegetables right now and thanks to the microwave, they’re so easy to prepare. I cooked these sweet potatoes on high for 6 or 7 minutes and they turned out perfectly. Conveniently, the couscous also took about 7 minutes to cook, so everything came together and just the right time.

My roommate decided to make an apple pie last night and while I went to bed before it was finished, I am definitely going to get in on that after dinner tonight.

Speaking of apples, I decided to change up my yogurt bowl this morning by adding some chopped pieces of Macintosh apple to the mix. With some chia seeds, half plain yogurt, half honey yogurt, and some Kashi Go Lean, it was a good way to start off the day.

One reason I was looking forward to turning 23 was finally listening to this song and being able to relate.

Ah, Blink 182.

My boss is out of town for work for the rest of the week, so I’m holding down the fort. The journal is all printed and packaged, so now I’m off to the copy room to stamp a whole lotta envelopes.

Food For Thought: Do you make a big deal out of your birthday? How do you usually celebrate?

 

 

 

 

Red and Orange and Yellow, oh my!

22 Oct

Good morning, good morning! Is it really Monday already?

I had such a great weekend and I really didn’t want it to be over! Stefano and I trekked out to Shenandoah Valley to be leaf-peepers and got a great hike in, as well.

The drive out was pleasant, though it took quite a bit long than we had planned. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who decided to see the leaves changing color.

 

We had a pretty spectacular view to greet us, though.

The trip was so, so worth it. Back in Seattle we mostly have evergreen trees, so while it’s green year-round, we don’t get the dramatic change of color the way the east coast does. It was absolutely breathtaking – so many reds and yellows and oranges!

We got a nice little hike in between the scenic drives.

Some jumping photos may have happened.

We both got some excellent air.

We eventually had to make out way back to Washington for our evening plans:

This was my surprise for Stefano! He and I didn’t get to see Train when they were performing while we were down in Virginia Beach because of a little incident, so I was excited to see that they were going to be in DC and had to snag tickets.

On our way back, we stopped by a little roadside restaurant for some grub. We saw a one-pound burger on the menu and were talking about how much food that was for one meal when the guy in front of us turned around to say that his six year-old kid had just finished it…by himself. What?! I can’t imagine that a six year-old would ever need that much food in one sitting – but his dad was reallllly tall and not a skinny dude, so I imagine he’s going to grow up to be a big guy.

I opted for the bison burger and Stef ordered their house-specialty: the pulled pork sandwich.

I don’t recall ever eating bison before and my opinion of it is pretty neutral. The meat itself was good, but because it’s so lean (it’s 97% fat-free) and they didn’t really season eat, it ended up tasting a little bland. The potato salad on the side was pretty tasty. I don’t eat pork, so I can’t attest to the pulled pork sandwich, but Stef enjoyed it.

The drive back was much faster because of fewer cars on the road, so we had enough time to grab some ice cream before the show. We stopped by Cone E Island, a George Washington University staple that has a variety of different ice creams and toppings. They also have soft-serve, which is what I ended up with.

 

The concert was fabulous! Train is such a good band and Pat Monahan, the lead singer, is a fabulous entertainer. He was really good at getting the audience excited and gave away a signed guitar to a little boy at the end of the concert. Also, he and his family live in Issaquah, Washington, so there’s Pacific Northwest love!

After a fabulous Saturday, Sunday was all about getting ready for the week, which means laundry and other equally exciting chores. Last night, the Sounders played FC Dallas and we watched Seattle pull out a 3-1 win! Fun fact:  George John, one of the players on FC Dallas went to our high school and Stefano played soccer with him on the school team (Stef was a freshman, George was a senior). Aaaaaaaaand that’s the closest our hometown gets to fame.

Now it’s Monday and back to the daily grind, but today is my roommate’s 25th birthday and tomorrow I turn 23! Maybe I’ll muster up the motivation to do something to celebrate 🙂

Have a wonderful start to your week, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Waiting Game

19 Oct

Happy Friday!!!!! I am particularly excited for this weekend because I have a surprise planned for Stefano – I’m such a sneaky girlfriend.

I didn’t get home until late last night because my volleyball game was one of the later scheduled matches. By the time I walked in the house, it was almost ten, which meant that it was not going to be a fancy dinner. Enter grilled cheese sandwich, a la toaster oven.

I promise you, toasted bread and melted cheese will never disappoint.

I had a couple of surprises waiting for me while I munched on my dinner and they’re making me unbearably curious.

These packages from my mom are presents for my 23rd birthday, which is on Tuesday. However, she gave me strict instructions not to open them until the day of my birthday, so now I have to play the waiting game for the next 4 days – booooo!!!

Patience is definitely not my greatest virtue and I know it’s going to be torture to have them sitting in my room, taunting me until the 23rd.

I made sure that my breakfast this morning was a bit more filling and nutritious, as delicious as a cheese sandwich is.

My go-to scramble: three eggs, one sun dried tomato and basil chicken sausage, and a handful of frozen vegetables. I made the best decision ever when I added some goat cheese right on top as I finished cooking the eggs.

Never eat eggs without goat cheese ever again.

The creaminess of the melted goat cheese added some much-needed pizzazz to a routine breakfast. Holy yum.

It looked cold and rainy outside, so I curled up with a mug of mango black tea to warm up my insides. It’s not as good as the cinnamon spice tea, but it will definitely do in a pinch.

The Best Of DC awards came out the other day and their ‘Worth the Drive’ category inspired to me to take a road trip with Stefano to the Shenandoah Valley this weekend. I’m going to propose the idea to him tonight and see how he feels about peeping leaves for a day.

Source

 

How could this not be a good way to spend a day trip? Their weekly report says that the leaves are at 90% saturation right now, so I think it’s time to head on down before the weather gets too cold and the leaves are all gone.

I hope you all have a splendid weekend – I can’t believe it’s almost the end of October! Catch you guys soon.

Food For Thought: Where is the best spot to see changing leaves where you live? What are your favorite fall road trips?

 

 

 

 

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