Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Another Attack of Baby Brain + WIAW

This morning, I thought to myself, "Wow, I've really had my act together lately. Maybe baby brain gets better throughout the pregnancy."

Guys, it does not.

Here's how today's incident of crazy went down: I couldn't find pasteurized blue cheese at Sprouts, so I set my cart aside to look more thoroughly. Couldn't find it, moved on. I then spent about five minutes perusing the meat section, trying to find sausage and beef. I thought for an unusual amount of time about where to stow the cart again because the meat section was so crowded. I grabbed the ground beef I needed.

And when I turned around, there was NO CART. I swear, I walked around for five more minutes searching for my cart. I thought I was going crazy. I almost asked the workers to help me. I looked in everyone else's cart to see if they had stolen mine. I would have just given it up, but I brought several of my favorite reusable bags. At some point, I guess I did give up because I was walking back to the entrance (maybe to get another cart?), and guess what was sitting by the cheese?

So the conclusion I've come to is that I stole someone else's cart after the cheese, and they were nice enough not to tell me but instead stole their cart back when they saw the opportunity.

And I've also concluded that I'm insane.

Let's move on to my less ridiculous moments today: eating. Somehow I usually manage to keep it together when food is involved.

Breakfast: blueberry pancakes and tea

Morning snack: plain Greek yogurt with half a banana, a big scoop of peanut butter, and honey

More snacks: dried fruit from TJs. I'm so impressed with these two options because they contain only the fruit (one ingredient!), no sulfur or sugar.

Lunch: leftover Crunchy Vegetable Sesame Noodle Salad from Daily Garnish

I have made this recipe about three times now and love it. It's perfect to eat hot, cold, or at room temperature. It'll be awesome in the summer or for tailgating in the fall. But I also usually make lots of changes because I don't have some of the ingredients Emily uses. Here's what I do for the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange or 2 Mandarin oranges
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • (Terry adds hot sauce to his)
For the rest of the dish, everything is as Emily suggests, but I've used Trader Joe's broccoli slaw instead of the cabbage and carrots. I also love that we get LOTS of leftovers! At least three meals per person in this house, which is a TON for us. 

Okay, next up was a bowl and a half of cereal (a combo of the two pictured below).

Terry and I took about 45 minutes to get some exercise when he got home from work:

  • 3 minutes walking
  • 5 minutes jogging
  • Repeat 5 times, plus a few more minutes walking to get back to our place
And dinner was already set to go! We made Lisa's Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot, and I'm eager for the broth I'll make overnight tonight so we can have soup in the coming weeks!

And for dessert, we're about to enjoy some almond butter brownies. I made them last night to try something different, but I actually feel like they're more "blondies" than "brownies" (how did Vani's turn out so dark?). Still, they have some protein and tasted great, so we'll have those with some milk to keep us satisfied overnight!

Hope you had a delicious day, too, and I hope yours didn't involve losing your shopping cart. Seriously, who does that? 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DC Recap Part II

We left off on Saturday afternoon after our looooong day of sightseeing. We weren’t necessarily starving, even after all the walking, because lunch was so filling (stuffed from Good Stuff?), but we still made an early dinner reservation at Graffiato, an Italian-inspired small plates restaurant. We ordered way too much food but loved every bite:
  • Hangar steak
  • Rocky Balboa pizza—steak, feta, arugula, deliciousness
  • Gnocchi—so incredibly delicious
  • Brussels sprouts—my favorite part of the meal
  • Lamb ragout
  • Charred octopus (yes, this one was Terry’s vote, but we actually all enjoyed it)

After dinner, we walked down the street to Red Velvet, a cupcake place. There are approximately 83 million cupcake eateries in America now, and this one didn’t look particularly special, but I discovered later that these were, in fact, the best cupcakes I’ve ever had! Terry and I ordered two to go: Devil’s food (all chocolate, super thick frosting) and “Summertime” something, which was a lemon cupcake with whipped cream frosting and coconut on top. We were too full that night to eat them, and Terry wasn’t feeling great, so we saved them for later in the trip, but when we finally did eat them we were both blown away at the flavor and texture. Moist, not too much frosting, not too sweet, and absolutely delicious. My uncle will be happy to hear me say that I actually enjoyed a cupcake (I’m normally a cake person all the way—they are NOT the same thing).

And then we called it a night. We were all exhausted—at 8:30. Call us old, but all that walking just did us in. Terry and I retreated to our hotel and got about nine hours of sleep. It was lovely.

On Sunday morning, Terry and I debated getting up early to check out a few more sights, but sleep won. We finally got into gear and met Fay and David in their neighborhood for brunch at 10:15. The day was chilly again, but at least we had some sun!

Brunch was at Belga Café, a Belgian restaurant, and thankfully we were able to make a reservation. Without a reservation, there can be a bit of a wait, and it was way too cold to stand outside. But Open Table hooked us up, and we chose a lovely table near the window. I think this meal was my favorite of the trip, not only for what we all ordered but for all the amazing options on the menu. I saw about six different meals I would have liked to try, and I have no doubt they all would have been incredible. I chose the cinnamon apple Belgian waffle with homemade whipped cream, a bit of fresh fruit, and scrambled eggs on the side.

Funny story: As I debated about whether to go sweet or savory (ah, the ever-enduring brunch debate), Fay happened to read my mind and said that it’s a good idea to order something sweet and then just order eggs on the side. Her words were, “Yeah, just order the two eggs on the side; they whip ‘em up really nice!” I was sold. But when the waiter took my order, for some reason I felt like ordering “scrambled eggs” wouldn’t suffice; no, I had to quote Fay’s suggestion. So I said to the waiter, “My friend here says that you guys can do some fancy whipped eggs?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “Um…scrambled eggs?” he asked. The entire table echoed him. “Yeah, scrambled eggs,” Fay said. Wow. But seriously, they were delicious scrambled eggs, and they deserve some sort of fancy name. I stand by my insane ordering.

Terry ordered the mussels with Chimay broth; David went with a simple Belgian waffle, more of those fancy scrambled eggs, and sausage, and Fay chose the spinach green eggs.

 Everyone gushed about their food! I very seriously considered coming back to Begla on Monday morning, but I would have for sure if we’d stayed any longer. My second choice would have been the cornbread waffle with pulled pork. Yes. That was on the menu.

After brunch, Fay won the Most Random Question of the Weekend award when she asked, “Do you guys like Pop Tarts?” What? We just ate a gigantic meal, Fay. Do you have extra Pop Tarts you need to pawn off on us? But Fay explained that a nearby restaurant/bakery makes homemade Pop Tarts and that people go crazy for them. Terry and I ordered a brown sugar “Pop Tart”—and it really was delicious, but extremely different from a Pop Tart (except in shape and concept, I suppose). The crust was flaky, the icing wasn’t too sweet, and the filling was lightly brown sugary without being too much. YUM.

We walked around Eastern Market a bit, checked out the local vendors, stopped into a baby store (Terry and I are trying to resist buying our child little souvenirs from every place we visit), and then headed out for more sightseeing (David stayed home to make us all dinner!). Fay drove, which was a lovely relief from the cold.

Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery, just across from DC in Virginia. Despite the almost unbearable cold, we still managed to enjoy the visit and felt incredibly humbled by the cemetery. First we walked up to the Kennedy grave sites and read Kennedy’s most famous quotes. I had no idea that the Kennedys had struggled so much with a miscarriage and a child who passed away only two days after he was born, but that news hit hard for obvious reasons. Still, it was a beautiful site. We also happened to arrive at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in time to watch the Changing of the Guard. The ceremony was really neat to see, and the small exhibit just inside the building at the site was interesting. Terry said the visit to the cemetery was his favorite part of the whole trip! The snow really added to the beauty and serenity of the site, too.

Next up, Fay dropped off Terry and me at the Lincoln Memorial, which quickly became my favorite of all the monuments in DC. I got a little teary a little at the top of the steps! The massiveness of the memorial really hit me, but mostly I enjoyed reflecting on what Lincoln stood for and how strong of an impact he had on our country.

Our next stop was to check out the National Archives. Fay found parking and joined us to see the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, all housed in this one building, along with an exhibit on the history of attaining rights in this country. I found the entire visit fascinating. We stopped on the way back to the car at Teaism for a cup of tea, and Terry and I split a crab cake sandwich to hold us over until dinner. Man, East Coast crab is amazing! And then we headed back to Fay and David’s for the evening.

Honestly, I enjoyed this part of the trip just as much as all the sightseeing and restaurant hopping. Fay and David live in a cozy apartment in a super charming neighborhood, and Terry and I gladly curled up on the couch to watch some TV, chat with our friends, and smell David’s lasagna cooking away in the oven. He used Jamie Oliver’s recipe, and I highly recommend it! I felt incredibly stuffed but still wanted more. Fay also whipped up a spinach salad, and my body was grateful for a well-rounded, homemade meal to end the weekend. Plus, we (all Bruins!) watched the Bruins win a big game against Cal! Hooray! And Fay and David generously drove us back to our hotel that night, so we even avoided one more trek into the cold.

Monday morning, I seriously struggled to get up. I assume I can blame the pregnancy, but I just did not have the same stamina I usually have on these sightseeing trips! I finally dragged myself out of bed around 8 for breakfast, and we ended our trip in DC with a lovely walk around the perimeter of the White House. Thankfully, it was much warmer than it had been the rest of the weekend, and we were even peeling off jackets by the end of our walk!

Our journey home worked out perfectly. The layover in Denver wouldn’t have allowed us enough time to make our second flight, so when they announced a 30-minute delay we breathed a sigh of relief. An order of Fresh Brothers pizza and some cuddling on the couch with our favorite kitten rounded out an awesome weekend!

We had an incredible trip to DC. I wish it could have been longer, but I’m so grateful for the time with Fay and David, another vacation with my favorite travel buddy, and an opportunity to see our nation’s capital! And even in the cold, I really loved DC, so I look forward to going back someday in warmer weather and seeing what else we missed. Plus I need to go back to Belga and Good Stuff, because my taste buds want more of that deliciousness. 

Here's the first recap in case you missed it! DC Recap Part I

Monday, January 27, 2014

DC Recap Part I

Terry and I woke up bright and painfully early for our 6:45 flight to Baltimore. Luckily, Southwest had a direct flight to Maryland, AND Terry was able to book his flight using points. My doctor has cleared me to continue flying until 34 weeks, but he did recommend compression socks for the long trip. I purchased some on Amazon for far less than I’ve seen at drug stores and received some super sexy looking tan stockings in the mail the day before our trip. And actually, they were fantastic. Lately, sitting for long periods makes my legs and back ache, but I felt totally fine during and after the flight. I may make compression socks a regular thing for trips like this one!

Anyway, we arrived in Baltimore around 3 pm and took a shuttle, the MARC train, and the Metro to get within walking distance of our hotel. Thank goodness my husband loves public transportation and navigated the entire trip! I would have found myself freezing, frustrated, and likely in tears, but Terry’s planning made the entire thing incredibly easy. We arrived at our hotel around 4:30, checked in (to the Founder’s Suite, thanks to Hilton points), and freshened up for dinner.

Our hotel was the Hampton Inn White House on H Street between 17th and 18th. We thought the location was fantastic—walking distance to the White House and most monuments and the Smithsonian. It was also close to a few Metro lines and on a safe street near several restaurants and coffee shops. We found the service to be spectacular—warm greetings, hot cider in the lobby, and very clean rooms. Plus, you can’t beat an included hot breakfast with plenty of options. The only downside was the cold room. The heater worked to an extent, but since it was far colder than usual in DC, the room was never truly comfortable. Plus, the heater was so loud that at night we had to turn it off to get some sleep. You can imagine how chilly we felt each morning, especially with hardwood floors and a tiled bathroom. Oh, and I would have loved a bathtub. I’ve grown to love baths after long days of walking, so I was bummed to discover only a standing shower in our room. I’m sure we could have requested a room with a tub, though, if we really wanted one.

So the first night, we connected with our friends Fay and David, who have been living in DC for about three years. We took a bus to meet them at Busboys and Poets, a fun restaurant with fresh, creative food and a bookstore inside! In an effort to make up for the day’s lack of vegetables, I ordered a veggie Panini, which was tasty, but Terry’s crab cakes with lobster grits were SO much better. I must have stolen five bites from his plate, and I regret not ordering more crab dishes while we were there. That first night was so fun, catching up with Fay and David and chatting about the crazy cold weather. Apparently DC doesn’t normally get snow that sticks, so we were in for a special treat! (Hey, if it’s going to be that cold, it may as well be beautifully snowy, too!)

David suggested Pitango for dessert. When he said it was a gelato place, I thought the guy was crazy (did I mention it was about 18 degrees outside?), but it turns out they serve incredible hot chocolate, too. And the servers were so fun and friendly, we even asked them to snap our photo—the only one of all four of us from the entire weekend! That chocolate was intense but SO good; Terry ordered the sipping chocolate (almost pure chocolate), I ordered sipping chocolate with steamed milk and whipped cream (basically hot chocolate like we’re all used to, but richer), and Fay ordered the same as I did but with almond milk. Oh, and David ordered gelato, so he really is crazy!

Then Fay and David toured us around most of the Mall in their car, which was a cozy and quick way to see the big sights. The lights are gorgeous at night, and the snow made everything look even more magical. My favorite part was stopping to see the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial close up. 

As almost-locals, Fay and David provided a fantastic overview, complete with the story of their engagement! They’re getting married this July, so we chatted a lot about all their wedding plans throughout the weekend. I loved soaking up all the details and hearing the excitement in their voices; their wedding is going to be incredible!

Terry and I both struggled a bit to fall asleep that night, even though we had woken up at 4 am California time, but we rested enough to gear up for a big day of sightseeing on Saturday. After a hot breakfast, we took the Metro over to Capitol Hill for a tour of the Capitol. Despite arriving a little late (and having to throw away my banana and KIND bar—so sad, but they’re quite strict about no food, even if you aren’t eating it!), we made it to our tour and really enjoyed hearing the history of the building and of Congress. Our tour guide was fantastic and extremely knowledgeable, which made the tour particularly fun.

We then headed back out into the cold for a walking tour of the nearby sights, including the exterior of the Capitol, the Library of Congress (the literature nerd in me fell in love with the giant Main Reading Room, which is only open to members of Congress and those with special permission, like Ph.D. students), the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Supreme Court (we didn’t go inside, just checked out the impressive exterior). 

Despite the cold and wind, I loved our walk and all the sights, but it was time for lunch. Fay and David—and also my friend Kate, who saw we were in DC and sent me a message—recommended GoodStuff Eatery for burgers. Well, well, well, I guess these people know who they’re dealing with, huh? The place was crowded, but not too bad for a Saturday at peak lunch hour, and we had our food within 20 minutes. I ordered the basic bacon and cheese burger; Terry went for the Prez Obama Burger (including Roquefort cheese, bacon caramelized onions, horseradish mayo). Both absolutely lived up to the hype—the soft Brioche bun made me melt, and I loved that the patties were thick. We ordered fries on the side, which were decent, but they’re meant to be dipped in a variety of sauces, all free with your meal. Oh, and Terry got a beer (Good Stuff Brew, very good), and we shared a small toasted marshmallow shake. Everything left me completely stuffed and yet somehow wanting more.

Oh, and I forgot to take a picture. 

As we rolled out of the restaurant, David dropped off Terry, Fay, and me at the White House so I could get my first look. I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I couldn’t believe how white it is! The paint is absolutely pristine, even compared to the snow. Several buildings nearby are whitish, but in contrast they appear dull or off-white. Hats off to the White House exterior cleaning crew! In fact, we noticed repeatedly how clean all of DC is, and Fay mentioned how much she loves that about the city. Everything looks well maintained and nicely cared for, and I saw almost no litter. It was very impressive!

The three of us spent the afternoon checking out the Washington Monument, then wandered into the American History Museum (part of the Smithsonian). Obviously I loved the food exhibit—I got to see Julia Child’s kitchen and read more about her influence on American home cooking. She is also largely credited with helping make wine a staple on the American dining table! I knew I loved her for good reason. J I could have spent the entire afternoon checking out just that small section of the museum, but we pressed on to see an exhibit about the First Ladies (all their gorgeous gowns and china—sadly not much about all their work and influence, in my opinion) and then hopped over to the Natural History Museum to see the Hope Diamond while Terry perused the Ocean Exhibit. Given a longer trip, we would have spent lots more time in museums, but we still enjoyed what we did see.

Fay also took us to one of her favorite places in the city, inside the National Portrait Gallery. The building has an indoor atrium, a large, open space with skylights but protected from the cold (or heat, in the summer). I wish I had taken a photo, but I can see how this space would be a fantastic spot to read, meet for lunch, or simply step away from the bustle of the city. The greenery inside made the place feel cozy, too.

By the end of the day, my FitBit logged 24,700 steps! Almost 11 miles. No wonder my legs were killing me the next day and today. Yowza!

I'm going to continue this recap tomorrow because I'm still on East Coast time, which means it's almost 2 am in my brain. Let's get some sleep!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gearing Up for DC

Well hello! Thursday again, huh? This week has moved rather slowly, but I don't mind a relaxed week here and there. Plus, I know this weekend will be craaaaaazy (well, as craaaaaazy as it can get when you're pregnant and in super cold temperatures, but still), so I'm using this time to prepare.

Terry and I leave tomorrow for a quick weekend trip to D.C. to visit our friends Fay and David. Plans include a few meals out, a nighttime tour of the monuments (I've heard great things), a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library, and plenty more. Despite the cold we're anticipating, I'm really excited to finally visit Fay and David and check out our nation's capital! I'll be sure to share lots of details about our adventure.

Let's catch up a bit: Yesterday morning jumped into motion a little more quickly than I expected. I woke up at 6:30 to make breakfast for myself and Terry and then got a text from Jenn asking if we should work out together. Of course we should. I was hoping to tackle legs, and Jenn was on board, so we planned to meet up later in the morning. Then I got a call from Terry on his way to work telling me to call 911 (geez, can you imagine how freaked out I was waiting for him to finish that sentence?) because there was a fire right off the freeway and no fire department on the scene yet. I called, they already had people on it, and then I worked for awhile to get my heart rate to a normal level. Hearing that your husband wants you to call 911 is a surefire way to wake up if you're a little groggy in the morning!

Jenn and I tackled a leg workout together that incorporated stable and unstable exercises, and both of us texted each other today complaining about sooooore legs. Here's a similar workout from awhile back:

Terry also hit the gym yesterday for a more intense leg workout, including 10 minutes of HIIT. He hates me again today.

Last night I made Lisa's broccoli cheese soup for dinner, a delicious way to incorporate some vegetables. Plus, it was so easy to make; I have a feeling this one will become a regular in our dinner rotation.

Today was more mellow but wonderful. We had our second trimester ultrasound this morning, and we learned that our little one is growing quite nicely (and may even be a little ahead of schedule). It's always reassuring to hear from a doctor that everything looks the way it should. :-)

Today was a rest day, and tomorrow will be, too. Usually I prefer to avoid two rest days in a row, but I don't think my sore legs will complain. Actually, my doctor recommended that I wear thigh-high compression stockings during the long flight, so I'm eager to see how I feel in those. I know a lot of marathoners recommend them, and pregnancy is a lot like a marathon, right?

Speaking of pregnancy, I'm thankful I have that to blame for things like this:

Yes, that happened. I could have sworn I bought dishwasher detergent, not dish soap. And when I filled up the dishwasher, I didn't notice my mistake. No, it wasn't until an hour later, when I walked back into the kitchen, that I finally realized...I'm losing my mind.

From there, I just gave up on the night. I threw out my plans to cook dinner, asked Terry to pick up Wahoo's, and set to work cleaning up the floor. Thankfully, as you might imagine, soap does clean up rather easily. And my amazing husband volunteered to empty the dishwasher, run it with olive oil (apparently the solution when something like this happens), reload it, and run it again. Alas, five hours after my initial start, but at least the damn dishes are clean now.

And now we're finishing up laundry (had to wash those beach towels I used to clean the floor), packing for tomorrow, and watching the Bruins take on Stanford. I'm hoping to check in from DC, but we'll see how it all goes! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Make me feel better: Any fun mishaps lately?