Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My weekend job

Ok, yes, my weekend job does often consist of the same work that the Monday-Friday gig necessitates, but not quite to the extent it used to this time of year.  And really, I like to focus on weekend job requirements like "sleep in" and "catch up on magazines" and "watch excessive amounts of television" and "generally be lazy," all of which I happen to think I'm exceptionally good at. 

Lately, though, I've tacked on an actual job of sorts.  A random, every third weekend or so kind of job that I actually really like doing.  You see, there's this awesome Texan ex-pat living in New York who goes by Homesick Texan and has a fantastic blog and is having a cookbook published next September and through some magic of the emails and interwebs is having me test recipes for the cookbook, which I am insanely excited about.  I can't really tell you anything about the recipes or what I've been making (otherwise the legal-types will come after me, ick), but I requested desserts and baked goods, and that's what I've been getting, and they're amazing.  And dangerous.  Like, need to get this stuff out of the house as soon as possible so I don't consume all of it in one sitting kind of dangerous.

This job doesn't exactly come with an astounding salary...in fact, I'm getting paid bupkis, but I don't care about that at all because I'm having fun in the kitchen and doing something I really love.  My anal nature is great for analyzing each part of the recipe and tweaking and perfecting.  I get to write a little bit AND play in the kitchen.  How do I do this full-time, please?  Oh, I do get a mention in the cookbook and a free copy when it's published, so that's compensation enough for me.

So, in the midst of all this Tex-Mex goodness...one weekend I got all nostalgic and made chicken tacos and guacamole and tomatillo salsa and a dessert experiment in the form of Mexican chocolate pralines, which turned out better than I thought and quite tasty given that there was a minor candy thermometer mishap in the middle of the process.  I really, really love food.

Photo by Lisa Fain at Homesick Texan

Monday, August 23, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame

You know how I said I was going to get out and do more D.C. things?  Well, I'm going to say that a trip to a Nats game (granted, this was a couple of weeks ago - I'm still a little behind in the world o' blogging) qualifies as both a cherished, typical, all-American summer outing AND a D.C. adventure...little D.C. twists on baseball, if you will.

D.C.-ish bit #1: enjoying a half-smoke from Ben's instead of the typical hot dog fare.  Don't get me wrong - I LOVE those ballpark hot dogs.  Photographic evidence available here.  But I also love a 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef smoked sausage topped with mustard, onions, and a delightfully spicy chili sauce.  Messy?  Yes.  Delicious?  Yes.  A test on my iron stomach?  Probably yes, although I'm still doing ok in that department.  I do not look forward to the day when I have to worry about things like heartburn.  I'm afraid that day is coming sooner than I might expect.  Probably also not the best choice when it's so freakin' hot outside that I'm dripping sweat during the entire (night!) game.  Should have just had cup after cup of gelato.  Hmmm, that could also be dangerous...

D.C.-ish bit #2:  getting all excited about the shiny new kid in town...and then finding out he's not so perfect.  I mean, good grief, he's only human, not some robotic, constantly winning pitching machine.  Oh, for the backstory, this city has been nothing less than obsessed with Stephen Strasburg, a pitching phenom who's been dazzling us with his heroic displays of athletic ability.  Oh, until he went on to the land of the injured with this shoulder business, which cooled the enthusiasm the tiniest bit.  I mean, they're naming burgers after this guy.

So I caught his return from the land of the injured.  And he only played a few innings, gave up a few runs, and generally looked a little off.  Then again, I can't exactly launch a fastball at a triple-digit MPH mark, so I really have no room to talk.  Here's hoping you can help bring the Nationals out of the gutter, Strasburg - the Washingtonians would appreciate it.

D.C.-ish bit #3:  Metro to the game.  Always an adventure.  Crowds, crowds, crowds.  But there's really something to be said for not dealing with parking.  And if you're not up for the Metro crowds before or after the game, you can always take a cab there.  Or home.  Which I did.  It was awesome.

D.C.-ish bit #4:  the Racing Presidents are far superior to the dot game the Rangers have going.  Wouldn't you rather watch George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy actually race around the field for a little between-innings hijinks?  I thought so.  I just wonder if poor Teddy will ever actually win. 

Also, a small baseball public service announcement - please remember to watch out for wayward balls.  It would stink to get bonked in the head.

Friday, August 13, 2010

To Peanut, with love, from me

From the moment The Vaughn Household called to give me the happy news about little Peanut, I knew I wanted to do something special for them.  The three of us have shared a lot over the last few years (few?  I remember meeting Diana my sophomore year of college...in that crazy science class...yeah, we're closing in on a decade of friendship here, so I don't know if I can get away with saying a "few" years on this one...), everything from rooming together during our internship and screaming our lungs out at football games and journeying across the ocean and sharing little moments along the way, too many little moments to name.  These two are family to me, and I wanted to do something special for them.

And as much as I love my fur-niece and fur-nephew (Duncan is shameless when it comes to begging at parties, he really is), I'm also very excited to welcome a new "niece" or "nephew" into the world.  One that doesn't mind wearing cute clothes and hopefully won't beg for me to drop food.

That baby shower I mentioned?  And that something special I wanted to do?  I decided to turn this...

...into this...

...which then became this...

...with absolutely no help from this...

...and then made its way into this...

...and started looking like this...

...and ended up something like this...

...and found its way to a mom-to-be...

...and into a new home to stay.

A quilt from me to you, for you to lay on, then crawl on, then walk across, then wrap yourself in, then snuggle under.  A gift from my heart to yours.  Love you, Diana, Trinity, and Peanut!  Can't wait to meet the little one.

A big bash for a little Peanut

Continue the partying!! This time, though...a little more tame with a lot more "awww, isn't that cute!" moments. Baby shower time for Diana!  We got together at Mary Alyce's lovely home to celebrate the impending arrival of little Peanut Vaughn (who will actually be know as Grace or Paul...get the whole Peanut story here*)...

P is for Peanut - with honey-roasted peanuts - gah, it's tooooo cute!

...with really important accessories like...sangria for the not-with-child in the group, and really amazing and incredibly adorable baby bootie petit fours from Society Bakery that were some of the most ridiculously delicious sugar bombs I've ever consumed.

Oh, I've gotten all caught up in the food again, haven't I?  Well, don't worry - we also played some intense baby-themed games...

...and spent plenty of time oohing and aahing the mommy-to-be as she worked her way through a rather substantial pile of gifts...

...which included an impressively constructed diaper cake.  I also love that we got books to go with the gifts rather than cards - by writing a sweet message in each one, little Peanut has a good start on a very customized library. 

If you'd like to see Diana opening a lot of cute gifts, check out my Picasa album.  Oh, and why are tiny things so adorable?

So, so very glad I could spend the weekend in Dallas with some of my closest friends and share some very special memories.  New positions at work, new families getting ready for their addition, and some not-so-new friendships that will really stand the test of time.

Oh, yeah, and after the festivities we changed and hopped into the pool for a while.  It's really the only way to beat that summer Dallas heat.  Now THAT is a baby shower.

* I applaud these wonderful people for waiting on life's ultimate surprise and not finding out whether they're having a boy or a girl...but I don't know if I could do it.  Have you met me?  I'm kinda an excessive planner.  And that Diana...she's an accountant, too.  I'm very, very impressed by this.

And the party never ends

Well, actually, I suppose the party does end when you pass out on the couch around 11:00, but when the party started at a 7:30 breakfast, that's really not a bad day.  Especially if you have another party to get to around noon the next day.  Phew.

What's the cause of all this partying?  Oh, just a little thing at Pdub we like to call "you've busted your butt for xxx years and finally reached a milestone, so we'll celebrate this occasion with a promotion day celebration" and maybe another little thing that involves two very wonderful people deciding to bring a little Peanut into the world, and you know, they do need lots of diapers and things to take care of that little Peanut, so I think we'll have this thing commonly referred to as a baby shower and celebrate a new little life coming into the world.  Phew again.

Oh, and I live halfway across the country from the aforementioned two very wonderful people AND the dear work friends I'd like to celebrate that promotion day with, so yes, this party weekend was a delightful trip to Texas for me.  Delightful other than this...

...which would be sad, sad raindrops and wet, wet runways and a total stay at DCA of about six hours, which means I missed a delightful celebratory dinner with a few of those dear work friends, but I did go to Potbelly three times.  You have limited dining options in that terminal.  So I started with a sandwich.  Learned of delay.  Treated self to amazing cookie.  Learned of further extensive delay.  Drowned sorrows in chocolate malt.  All totally needed.  Finally made it to Kami's and collapsed to sleep as soon as possible so we could be ready for that 7:30 breakfast.

Aaaannnndddd....happy promotion day, Pdubbers!  I'm so, so glad that I could head back to God's country and spend the day with some very dear friends to celebrate this whole making manager business.  Dang, that makes me feel a little old.  Anywho, we started out with a tasty breakfast at Original Pancake House and one rather adorable baby...

...and made our way to the office, which was decked out in all manners of Vegas.  And everything else under the sun.  Some people really go all out, and it's AWESOME.  Champagne at 10 (don't mind if I do!), pretty quickly followed by an early and long lunch at Gloria's with a few of my favorite gals.  Post-lunch celebration included our what-I'm-now-declaring-an-annual-event-dancing-in-the-car-par-tay, and then a few hours at House of Blues (thanks for still having a real party, Pdub Dallas!  Pdub DC doesn't believe in this, which is just sad and wrong) with a million tipsy accountants.  Good, good times.

Manager Kamster (woohoo!) and Jenny P, mother-to-be of Baby Girl P and our first, much-appreciated designated driver of the day

Stephanie!!  One of my dear DC buddies who's in Texas full-time now, and I'll be there before I know it.  Please notice the animated ctg and Justin (our second, much-appreciated designated driver) in the background.  They're awesome.

We walked/stumbled/somehow made our way down the street to Victory Tavern for a little more partying.  Just a little.  And then after all that celebrating, we definitely needed Jake's burgers to cap off the evening.  I know I wasn't quite myself because I forgot to order the jalapeƱo bottlecaps.  A true travesty.  AND there was no cheese on my burger.  There's always cheese on my burgers.  Yes, that burger was definitely needed.  And Justin kindly drove us home.  And Kami and I fell asleep shortly thereafter.  It was a really great day that wouldn't have been nearly as great if I hadn't spent it with my friends.  Love you guys!

Oh, that other party I mentioned?  The one celebrating the sure-to-be-adorable baby?  Yes, it's the day after all this debauchery.  Don't worry, I rally.  You'll hear all about it next.

Believe it or not, I actually didn't take excessive pictures for this day.  I'm counting on cameras of friends for several important shots.  Shocking, I know.  However, the pictures I did take are up on Picasa if you're into that kind of thing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The heat sucks all the fun out of life

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago in the midst of an agonizing stretch of hot hot HOT here in DC.  Well, what do you know?  It's cooled down just a touch (we're talking nineties here instead of 100+...not exactly a cold front or anything), but the heat has still sucked the life out of me.  And tomorrow I'm headed to Dallas...where tomorrow's anticipated high is 104 degrees.  Oh, vomit.  But at least I'll get to see my friends!  Regardless of that, I haven't exactly been motivated to go out and explore all that DC has to offer.  Right now pretty much the only offer I'm interested in is the power of my air conditioning here in my comfortable apartment.  And the fact that I started this post two and a half weeks ago and am JUST NOW getting around to wrapping it up in the most boring manner possible lets you know just how powerful a foe this heat is.

I have no energy to do anything besides stretch out on the couch and watch endless loops of Mad Men and America's Test Kitchen (I wonder how often those two shows are mentioned in the same sentence...probably not so much).  I get home from work and just want to SIT.  You know, after I peel off my sweaty clothes from walking home in the bomb of humidity and beaming sun rays.

DC used to be considered a hardship post for diplomats...where's MY extra pay for surviving this ridiculous summer?!?

In spite of the heat...I realize I only have about six months left here (WHERE does the time go??) to fully explore and appreciate my current city.

So, I'm going to get out and do stuff.  The air-conditioned stuff.  And pray for autumn, a real autumn with pleasant temperatures and beautiful leaves, not some flash-in-the-pan "oh, look, it was seventy degrees for a week between the circles of hell and the return of the Abominable Snowman" kind of season that lingers for a while.

I realize I haven't been very exciting lately as far as embarking on blog-worthy adventures, but I'll get back on track.  I have to take care of my DC list!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need some ice cream.