holiday spirits


Mostly, the name of this post is appropriate because I started the weekend with a Friday night rendition of wine club and ended with a whole lot of Christmas prep. For wine club, my friend Martine made the most delicious chana masala (Smitten Kitchen has a similar recipe here, but Martine added way more than a teaspoon of most of the spices, including cardamom, but no amchoor powder), and we all tried to bring a wine that would pair well with it. I wish I could remember the name of mine, but it was a viognier blend that was great and we drank it all. And isn’t this the coolest bottle ever (below)? We didn’t even end up opening this one, but it was from Trader Joes and enormous.


My family has always cut down our own Christmas trees, so it’s no surprise that even in D.C., I make C come with me to cut down my own. No, buying one pre-cut at the farmer’s market is not the same. For any D.C. friends, we went to Butler’s Orchard this year, and it was very easy (you drive right up to the lot, grab a saw, find your tree and then they shake the tree, wrap it up and tie it to your car for you. We went to Homestead Farms last year, which I love for pick-your-own fruits, but Butler’s had a much larger selection (but was a bit pricier).


I love looking at other people’s Christmas trees; don’t you? We listened to my epic Christmas playlist while decorating the tree and the apartment. My favorite Christmas albums are Elvis’ Duets, Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas, and Now That’s What I Call Christmas! 3. What are yours?



summer vacation
















To all of you non-teachers: I’m sorry to be the one to tell you that summer vacation is, in fact, as amazing as it sounds. But, it’s not too late. You, too, can make a career change and enjoy eight glorious weeks off without penalty. I would highly recommend it; it almost makes up for the 10 months of late nights of planning and worrying.

[photos, from top left: Old Silver Beach on the Cape, tequila-infused watermelon (served with salt), sisters at the beach, WC+me at a wedding in Connecticut, the first sunflower opening in my garden (and one of two that survived the Rock Creek deer), Teddy loves to swim, Teddy also loves to be groomed, sangria for a family BBQ (from this book), the Capitol just before the fireworks]

TO CELEBRATE: cinco de derby

WC and I don’t spend a lot of time going “out on the town,” so we try to make a big deal out of celebrating silly holidays, like Cinco de Mayo, which coincidentally fell on the same day as the Kentucky Derby.

We started early with bloody mary’s (his specialty) and brunch at home. Around 1, we headed over to Bandolero’s pop-up at Tackle Box’s former Cleveland Park location (oh, psst! The Bandolero management let us know they are opening a Spanish tapas restaurant there at the end of Tackle Box’s lease. Yea!). At Bandolero, I had the most amazing margarita with habanero-infused tequila, strawberry and lime. Que rico! We will definitely be heading over to the Georgetown location when they open up.

We headed over to Adam’s Morgan and stopped at a few holes in the wall before we ended up at Jack Rose‘s “Cinco de Derby Rooftop Fiesta.” The environment on their enclosed rooftop was lively (without being over-the-top), the service was excellent and the food and drinks were delicious. We had pulled-pork straight from a smoker and mint-julep snow cones. I can’t wait to spend more summer afternoons up there.

Did you enjoy your weekend? Do anything special for the Derby or Cinco de Mayo? I’d love to hear :)

TO DO: cooking with kids

Usually I’m a day behind the curve, struggling to catch up, at least this past year. Before teaching, I was usually right on-time, if not five or so minutes early. I guess that’s the way life goes :) I must be catching up to my old self, because last night I put together an easy-to-follow guacamole recipe for my 3-year-olds to make today to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Wait. Are you shocked that I’m cooking with 3-year-olds? I have so many Montessori foundations at my teaching core, and there is so many awesome moms who blog all about their own cooking experience. I love this article about cooking with preschoolers and these Montessori-inspired ideas on Modern Parents Messy Kids (and I totally want this book).

Anyway, to save you the trouble of collecting clip art to make a kid-friendly recipe when you are convinced cooking with your 3-year-olds is an awesome idea: GuacamoleRecipe

[Avocado photo via]

happy easter; remembering rach

Happy Easter, loves. Today is also the year anniversary of my dear friend Rachael’s death.  After tragic death, her family and friends in Lynchburg started the Rachael Horton Compassionate Care Fund provides financial support to families and pets in need. She was truly one of the most inspiring and compassionate people I have ever met, and she loved animals dearly. In honor of the amazing Rachael Kathryn, if you can, please consider donating to her charity.

[PS: Read Heather and Whitney’s beautiful portrayals of Rach.]

[painting by Lulie Wallace]

TO CRAFT: pinterest-inspired

The Inspiration:

[via Crafty Endeavor, found on Pinterest]

Yesterday, I met up with my friend Katie to take a trip to Michaels and make some embroidery floss eggs of our own. We fought for a little too long with our balloons (the water balloons we bought were impossible very hard to blow up), but this morning, I popped the balloons inside and had easter eggs!

TO DO: spend a night on the town

Saturday was WC’s birthday, and we went over to the U Street Corridor to celebrate. We started at Marvin for dinner, which blew me away. I had been there once in the summer of 2010 and remembered having delicious cocktails, but don’t remember being impressed by the food. On Saturday, we started with St. Jacques mussels, which were amazing (and gluten free, along with their french fries!). I had the skirt steak special, WC enjoyed the duck confit, and his sister and her husband both loved the short ribs. This time, we will not be waiting that long to return.

Right next door to Marvin, which is inconspicuous by its own accord, is The Gibson, which you will only be able to find if you have the street address. I don’t think The Gibson was open yet when the NYTimes photo above was taken in 2009, but the door to the left of Marvin is equally as nondescript now. You open the door and enter into a dark entryway. With the exception of a man in a suit (inspired by a 20s color palette), you will probably think you’re in the wrong place, until they open a side door and walk you into the speakeasy that is the Gibson. Cocktails cost between $12-16, but are entirely worth it. Their menu is completely inspired, and the wait and bar are so willing to accommodate your every whim. We tried several different concoctions, both on and off the menu, and were impressed by every one.

[photo credits 1 and 2]