Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laura Loves {June 2011}

I cannot believe how fast June has flown by! I even thought to myself for a second, “Oh no! What did I love this month?!?!” But turns out I had saved an ongoing list throughout the month as usual…I was just so all over the place that I forgot…phew! So without further ado…here are the links, items, and other random things I loved in June!

Daylight

It’s June…I have to give a shout out to daylight! The summer solstice happens in June…the longest day of the year. It has been daylight until around 8pm here in DC and its not REALLY nighttime dark until 9pm. I can’t tell you how different I feel about my day when there is so much sunlight. In the summer, when I come home from work, I feel like I have time left in the day. Long walks with the dog are enjoyable, I can go for a jog and still have time to let Milo play at the park afterward, I can run a few errands and not feel like its REALLY late. In the winter, when I leave for work in the dark and get home in the dark, I feel like there is no day after work (even though there is the same amount of time). It definitely affects my mood, I feel bad for the dog, and I feel like there is no time before bed. It seems like it takes daylight forever to get here…and then it goes away all too soon! June 21 has now come and gone…the days will slowly get shorter…but I’m glad I still have the summer to appreciate the sun!

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Literally Unbelievable Blog

If you haven’t heard of The Onion (or The Onion News Network)…you should make yourself familiar or you may end up on the blog Literally Unbelievable! For those who don’t know, The Onion is a fictional news source that makes up headlines that mock real news stories. They often touch upon hot topics or politics and sometimes their headlines can sound initially like real headlines. Most people start reading the news stories…then realize it’s The Onion…and have a good laugh. There are some people, however, who don’t realize either 1) that the headline/story is from The Onion or 2) that The Onion is 100% fictional.

Put these fooled people on Facebook…and you have a lot of funny reactions to stories that they “literally can’t believe.” Most people are sort of just baffled…but others are VERY mad about the “news” and they want all of Facebook to know it! Literally Unbelievable takes these angry posts…and shares them so we can all enjoy! I think its funnier than The Onion…how angry some of the people get about the fake news! I can’t stop reading! I love it!

Cookie Necklaces – Idea Layer Cake Shop

A few months ago, my mom pointed me to a cute online baking shop called Layer Cake Shop. It has a lot of unique food colorings, sprinkles, cookie cutters, and other fun cute things for all your cake making needs! We recently got Rebecca a gift card to the shop as a thank you for baking us Whoopie Pies each week! I haven’t yet had a need to purchase any items from them but believe me when I need a weird food color I will be checking there first!

What I actually love though is {this idea} from their blog! I found it after buying the gift card! This cookie necklace is so cute and seems like the perfect activity for a little girls birthday party! It would be a tasty treat but also the perfect thing to take home! If I have a daughter I am definitely trying this…if I don’t ever have a daughter…one of my sisters/cousins will let me try this I’m sure Winking smile.

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Petite Lap Giraffe

I’m not sure if you have seen the DirectTV commercials that feature a character that basically has every luxury in the world. In one commercial he has someone weight lifting for him (that transfers into his muscles)…in another he has a gold bar remote control. Both commercials feature his pet…a petite lap giraffe! It even gives him kisses!

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Turns out you can watch a live feed or should I say “live feed” of the bull petite lap giraffe Vladimir on the farm! You can see photos and the above mentioned commercials on other parts of the site…and you can even be put on the wait list to get one! I am currently number 1,173,131 in line for one! I can’t wait! I figure by the time my number comes up I’ll have saved enough money! Winking smile.

Yes. I know its not real……some things are just amusing!

Crystal Light – Mocktails

Geeze this month’s Laura Loves is seriously lacking in personal pictures! Well don’t worry I have a couple for ya! Two days ago I was strolling around my local grocery store when I happened upon something I just had to try! (Note: Yes, the discovery of this item was directly caused by my grocery problem.)

Crystal Light has created a line of “mocktail” flavors! Honestly, I would have hesitated more on trying them if one of the flavors wasn’t MARGARITA! Hellllllooo! I love margaritas so I had to test this out!

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As soon as I got home from the store, I got to work making my low calorie margarita (each 8oz serving of Crystal Light only has 5 calories!!) Each packet will make 8 cups of the drink. Since my pitcher is big, I decided to make 2 batches in one!

The verdict is….well firstly it is a fun bright color…but its also pretty darn good! Obviously with all the stuff mixed into a real margarita it is hard to get the flavor perfect…but at the same time for a flavored water drink…this was pretty impressive! I really found myself wishing I had a little bit of salt around my glass! I don’t even think it would be a far stretch to just mix some tequila right in there if you really wanted to!

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I actually tried the drink when I only had one packet mixed in at first…it tasted a little on the lighter side but I actually really liked it that way. I think I may try to stretch the rest of it out by doing that…but I could see some people thinking that the flavor isn’t strong enough using double the water.

I also had my roommate try it…and she was surprisingly pleased as well!! So at least I know I’m not crazy! I found out on the Crystal Light Facebook Page that they are only available for the summer! I will be stocking up! Here are the three flavors:

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I really would love to try the Mojito…and I’m going to stock up on the Margarita. This cute blog noted that they are great as an alternative to alcoholic beverages at parties for those who can’t or don’t choose to partake! She even made popsicles out of them! So cool!

Well…that’s all I’ve got for this edition of Laura Loves! Got any questions or comments about items? Let me know in below! As for me I’m going to finish my Margarita Mocktail and head to bed! Tune in July 31 for another edition of Laura Loves!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Synch AND Swim {Monday Memories}

Welcome to Monday Memories! This is my very first weekly feature on the blog and I’m crossing my fingers that I can keep up. I have always loved it when people share old photos or home videos. I’m fascinated to see what people used to look like when they were young or find out interesting things about activities they participated in. I have a bunch of old pictures and videos that go along with great memories and I thought it might be fun to share a photo or video each Monday!

This week’s memory was inspired by a recent lunch conversation about unusual activities we participated in as kids. I mentioned to the group that I used to do synchronized swimming…well here is the proof…

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This photo is of my synchro partner Kristina and I doing the “deck work” of one of our routines. I’m not exactly sure what year this is…I did synchro between the ages of (I think) 11ish – 17ish? I thought it was 7 summers but I can’t remember my exact years of doing it. I just know it was through some middle and most of high school. My mom signed me up (and my sisters as well when they were old enough) because we were always at the pool in the summer and she had really enjoyed doing synchro at that same pool when she was younger.

The first year or so I was assigned a routine with a group of newbie girls with similar skill level…but soon it was discovered that Kristina and I could do some pretty good duets. Now…when I say pretty good…this is relative to the skill set of our local pool. In Middlesex, the community pool offered this activity…but it was just that…an activity. It was NOT competitive…at all. We didn’t get scores…we didn’t go to synchro meets…we didn’t need to worry about being PERFECTLY in synch. All we did…was try some new tricks each year…help the younger kids learn the basics…and eventually put together a show of routines. We were known as the Middlesex Aqualites :-).

Lucky for all of you…I found a home video of our show from the year 2000. I forget the official title of the show but basically we were performing to songs from movies. Kristina and I had 2 routines that year…the first was You’ll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins from Tarzan. The second was Angel by Sarah McLaughlin from City of Angels. We were both I think 15 at the time. Just after our freshman year in HS.

Before I set you loose on this video…there are a few things to know or keep in mind as you watch:

1 – Please don’t have super high expectations…like I said this is definitely NOT competition level synchronized swimming…but at the same time, competition level can look very “cheerleader.” Our shows were designed to look more smooth like dance. We are not always in perfect unison…we did have an underwater speaker…but sometimes it is just hard to know exactly what the other person is doing…watching this now we probably should have done a few more dry runs (out of the water).

2 – The pool we are in is 12 feet where we start…and we get down to about 8 feet…but we never touch the ground to do any of the tricks…including the lift…the one in the pool that is.

3 – The first routine includes our very first hard pairing move where we actually had to link ourselves together and spin around and have our feet meet! (time: 2:10) I remember it took us literally ALL summer to get that right…was it PERFECT for the show? No…but we did pull it off and we were proud!! It was so hard!

4 – The view from above (where this was filmed) is a bit different than if you were watching with the rest of the audience on the side….on the side some of the things might look a bit nicer…because you don’t see what we are doing underwater so much.

The first routine is the more exciting of the two…if you find the first one boring…skip the second ;-). Note that this is an old video so the sound and quality leave something to be desired…

Synchro may look easy or lame…but honestly it is pretty hard…particularly keeping your legs straight while keeping them in the air out of the water while not touching to floor of the pool…and attempting to not sink…if you don’t believe me…try it yourself…it’s a great ab workout! Since having done synchro…I am so amazed at competition level synchro teams. Especially in the Olympics. The tricks they do are crazy hard…and to keep a larger group in perfect unison with fast tricks of hard choreography…it’s nuts!!

One of the most memorable things about doing the synchro show was the gelatin we had to put in our hair! It was called Knox! In order for your bun to stay in place…about an hour before the show we all had to get our head plastered with the stuff! Up close it looks crazy and gross…but from the water (where your hair looks wet anyway) we looked nice and neat! But it took a pretty long shower with multiple shampoo-ings to get it out! I have a picture of me getting Knoxed up somewhere…when I find it I will probably share!

A lot of people ask why synchronized swimmers wear nose clips. It may seem like we don’t know how to keep water out of our noses…where most people know that just breathing out of your nose will do the trick! The answer is…it actually helps you hold your breath longer. When you are vertical upside down…you MUST blow air out of your nose or water will definitely get in…the nose plugs allow the synchro swimmer to be completely upside down and hold their air in…and slowly release it…which helps in holding your breath!

And look what I just happened to find as I was thinking about this post!

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That’s right! I still have my good 'ole nose plugs! And despite my messy hair…I couldn’t resist trying them on for old time’s sake!

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Did you do any unusual activities as a kid? Have a question about synchro? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to check back next Monday for another fun memory! Smile

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great Friends Make For Great Weekends

This past weekend two weekends back was pretty darn epic (also…I’m a slow blogger). I had a bunch of friends coming down to visit for both a concert and just for fun! Some for part of the weekend and some for just a day! I won’t lie to you when I say I was a bit nervous going into the weekend with all the coordination of plans and people coming and going….but the weekend could not have turned out any better!

The long weekend started on Wednesday with the arrival of my world traveling pal Nick (who got me the amazing Thai fisherman’s pants). With only a week left until he was going to leave home (again) to start graduate school in Seattle…he came down to DC to check out the Glee Live concert with me! Showing up early…we took the mutt on an evening walk around the Capitol…and then he did an excellent job entertaining himself as I had to leave him for work the next day.

However the following day after work, my college roomie Laura drove all the way down from NJ to join us for Glee Live! That night we met up with Danielle to go to the concert! We don’t have any pre-concert pics with Danielle…but here are a few from the Metro on the way to the concert!

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Glee Live 2011 was a great concert! They chose some great songs and the cast of the show is seriously talented. Here are my (very unfocused b/c I was far) three favorite parts of the concert! First, when Amber Riley {Mercedes} and Naya Rivera {Santana} sang “River Deep Mountain High”…

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Naya Rivera {Santana} doing Valerie…

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AND…when Kevin McHale {Artie} got to get up and dance in Safety Dance! He is such a great dancer and usually stuck in the wheelchair for his character! (This was his “dream” to dance)…

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Also I have to note that while they all have great voices…including as Lea Michelle as expected…Chris Colfer {Kurt} has an amazing live voice! I was really also impressed with him. Honestly, the only complaint that I have about the show is that I think they could have performed for a bit longer! They all have AMAZING voices and they put on a great show. But because they have duets and solos…and don’t play instruments…I feel like they could have gone a bit longer. But if my only complaint is how short the show was…then I guess it was good right? We loved it and had a blast!

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After the concert we stopped at one of my favorite spots in DC…Red Velvet Cupcakery! Laura & I tried the special Chocolate Covered Strawberry cupcake and it was YUMMY! And of course I got some Red Velvet to take home!

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The next morning, I acted like a crazy person as I suggested to Nick and Laura that we go hunt down my favorite food truck, CapMac! They were in Dupont Circle and both Laura and Nick were huge sports heading out to find them with me! But once they had the mac and cheese…they agreed it was totally worth it!

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Laura got the Weiner Mac which was their Classic Mac with caramelized onions, hot dog, and crunched up potato chips on top!

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Nick got the standard Classic Mac and I went for something new and got the Goat Cheese Mac which was really really yummy!

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That afternoon Nick had to head out to visit some friends in Baltimore…so Laura and I caught up on one of our favorite summer shows…So You Think You Can Dance! Later that night, my other college roomie Meghan came to visit! She got in later in the evening but we still got to grab some great margaritas at Tortilla Coast and then hung out and played a round or two of Rummikub before heading to bed!

Saturday we got up and it was sunny and pretty hot…but we decided to use another one of my favorite things in DC…Capitol Bikeshare! Laura and Meghan were such great sports and we rode through the heat…around the Capitol and down the National Mall.

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We tried to stop at as many landmarks as we could. You can see a map of where we rode here. Not included in the map is our walk to the Vietnam Memorial and Lincoln Memorial.

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NOTE: We fully support wearing helmets while bike riding! But Meghan and Laura didn’t have any for the day…and I wore mine on the streets but it was so hot (check out Meg wiping her head!) that I took a helmet break when riding on the National Mall! I promise we were careful!

I actually noticed something interesting that I hadn’t noticed before near the White House…the official “Point For The Measurement of Distances From Washington on Highways of the United States.” This is also known as the thing that a lot of tourists set their cameras up on to take a picture of themselves and the White House! Just goes to show you can always find something new to see in DC…even if you have seen the main monuments a bunch of times!

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We asked someone to take a picture of all 3 of us in front of the White House…what resulted was a pretty good but abstractedly crooked picture…haha it cracked me up! Also I just realized we were in sort of in light red, white, and blue!

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We got a LOT of exercise…and even though it was hot it was a great way to see as much of the National Mall as possible. After riding we were exhausted…but there was still a lot of day left!

Later in the afternoon we met up with another one of our college roomies, Jennifer!! We had late lunch at Good Stuff Eatery! Unfortunately, she couldn’t stay much after because of other weekend plans! I hope we can get together with her and her cute daughter Evelynn soon!

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That night we decided to attempt to host a game night. Unfortunately not a ton of people were available…but my friend Sam came out to hang with us! We played our roomie favorite Rummikub and then one of my other personal favorites (and maybe Sam’s a bit too), Just Dance on Wii! There was a lot of crazy dancing…and perhaps a little trash talking…but we had a ton of fun!

As you can imagine though…after a crazy day of biking, eating, and dancing…we were beat and so we headed to bed and slept VERY WELL! Meghan and Laura each had to head out early in the afternoon...and so my crazy busy long weekend with friends came to an end. I had so much fun with everyone and I hope everyone enjoyed spending time in DC!!! It was really an awesome weekend!! Thanks to everyone who visited!!! Come back anytime!!!

Also thanks to Laura & Meghan for letting me borrow some of their pictures for this blog! All the photos in this post have been a combo of our three cameras! Smile

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Food Trucks, Music & Beer…oh MY!

Food trucks have become really popular in DC! Earlier this spring I wrote about how I got to experience a few food trucks over one weekend. That was pretty exciting for me since food trucks are usually reserved for the lunch crowd…and I work outside of DC during the day Sad smile.

But lately some events are trying to change that trend. I have attended a few weeks of Chinatown Coffee’s Food Truck Happy Hour where I got to have my second dose of CapMac and try out the BBQ truck PORC.

However…I got really lucky this weekend. It marked the kickoff of the new monthly Truckeroo Food Truck Festival! Not only would food trucks be gathering in the evening (well all day but until 9pm), but there would be about 20 of them, AND this was going to be occurring like 2 blocks away from me!!! Not to mention the bonuses of a live band and beer in an outdoor beer garden! Sounds like my kind of evening!

Turns out…it sounded like a LOT of people’s type of evening…because it drew quite a large crowd! The lines for a lot of the trucks were REALLY long and often you had to wait over an hour for some food (with no guarantee that by the time you got to the front of the line the food you wanted wouldn’t be sold out). My personal favorite, CapMac…was sold out of most things by 6:00 pm Sad smile. But a few friends and I braved the lines and the crowds and tried to try whatever trucks we could. First, while Liz and Colt tried some Eat Wonky, I got in line for Big Cheese

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They had a variety of unique grilled cheese sandwiches including one with brie and apple! But I decided to order their basic Barely Buzzed which is a grilled cheese sandwich made with cheddar cheese and sourdough bread! YUM!

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I really thought the sandwich was really good! The only thing that I think would have been better would be if there was a bit more cheese around the edge of the sandwich. The middle was melty and yummy mixed with a perfectly crispy grilled sourdough bread. But with the hard crust, I think a bit more cheese filling around the edges would have worked a bit better. I really want to try their brie and apple grilled cheese next!

Since my line didn’t take too long, I met up with Sarah, who was waiting for her food from Sabor’a Street.

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She had some really yummy yuka fries and some smoky BBQ port with some fried/toasted corn bread patty on top! Her food was seriously yummy! She let me try one of the fries with the sauce and a bite of the cornbread patty! Good stuff!! Sarah really enjoyed it!

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Meanwhile, Luke and Matt were getting a big plate of BBQ from BBQ Bus. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of their plates, but they both said it was good and they got a lot for their money! (And their line wasn’t quite as long as some others which was another bonus!) I’m going to have to try them sometime!

We all met up with Avi who was in one of the longest lines at Truckeroo, the line for Takorean! This truck serves up Korean BBQ style meat in the form of tacos! The line was really long…he seriously waited for over an hour and by the time he got to the front, the steak he was going to try was sold out Sad smile. But he was still able to get some chicken and tofu tacos!

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Avi so generously let me try a piece of chicken and I thought it was really good but SPICY! He mentioned that the flavors and the spices sort of took over…but that all in all it was good!

After Avi FINALLY got his food, we started off on the hunt for dessert! First we stopped at Sweetbites. But RIGHT as we got to the front, they sold out of everything that we were interested in Sad smile (note the empty window below).

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So then we headed over to try some oddball popsicles at Pleasant Pops

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We were going to try their Strawberry Rhubarb popsicle, but they sold out of that just before we made it to the front Sad smile. The only choices left were Green Tea and:

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Everyone got Green Tea but I decided to really get adventurous and get the curry popsicle! It was definitely…odd. There was some curry powder settled on the bottom (well top) but it was also mixed in and the whole thing was spicy spicy. It was a bit creamy too but…the spiciness of it was overpowering…and also the texture of the powder…not so fun. I didn’t quite love it but…at the same time I wasn’t expecting to like it much so haha it was just fun to try something crazy! The rest thought the green tea was alright…although Sarah mentioned that she thought t tasted a bit chalky to her. Matt has had their popsicles before and thought they were really good so…I’m sure it was just the fact that we got crazy flavors! On their website…all their strawberry flavors sound really yummy!

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Finally…we decided to try some pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies! Most of us got a pie called Baltimore Bomb…which is filled with the local specialty Berger Cookies that sort of melted down and  mash up a bit with the pie crust…it was GOOD! I forgot to take a picture of their truck or the pies…but that’s because we finally got a picnic table…that we shared with a guy who was just having a great time with his keyboard!

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After eating our pies…the trucks were really closing and people were clearing out and we called it a night…but we had a great time hanging out together and trying a bunch of food. The live music made it a bit loud but it added nicely to the atmosphere…and they even had a bunch of bean bag toss games set up on the side.

The only negative was that the event was a bit crowded which made it a bit frustrating. The trucks were not quite fast enough to handle the long lines and they sold out of stuff pretty quickly. I’m hoping the HUGE crowd was due to the fact that this was the very first one. My thought is that with the success more food trucks will come out and less people will come having done it once already. There were a lot of trucks there but even more would help balance the crowd…and maybe now that people have gotten their food truck experience…not as many people will come haha…I’m just hoping for the right balance to be found…maybe they need to even do it more than once per month! (You can see more pictures of the crowds and the event here).

But overall we had a great time! Truckeroo will be occurring at Das Bullpen in Navy Yard once per month until October…I will most likely stop there for dinner each time (well at least as long as it is only 2 blocks away!).

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