Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'll Take Things That Don't Happen Here for $100, Alex.

This afternoon, we had an earthquake. An honest to goodness earthquake. In Washington, D.C.

From the USGS website, at 1:51 p.m. today we experienced a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, centered 9 miles SSW from Mineral, Virginia. According to my friends on the internet, it was felt as far south as Athens and as far north as Toronto. I didn't even know that Virginia was on a fault line.

This was my first earthquake and it's really hard to describe. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once. I was in my office,when I heard a rumbling like someone was jack hammering on the floor above us. Then it got worse, and I could see the glass in the window wobbling. At that point, I got up and moved to the doorway. The tremors tapered off and the whole thing was over in about 40 seconds. So far, there haven't been any aftershocks but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few more this evening.

Jim called about five minutes later to say they had evacuated the Kennedy Center (they weren't allowed back in for a hour) and many other buildings, including the Capitol, evacuated but I never left our office.

Everything seems to be ok. Metro is still running, but may have a few delays as they check out the tracks for damage. I'm sure Rex is all kinds of freaked out and I'm interested to see if anything fell down when I get home. If so, I'll come back and post a picture.

n.b. Rex seems to be unfazed and I couldn't find anything moved in the house.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 2011 Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week is wrapping up this weekend, so tonight we once again ventured out to try a restaurant that we normally would not be able to afford. If you haven't seen my past entries for Restaurant Week (here and here), twice a year restaurants in the area offer a three course prix-fixe menu for lunch ($20.11) and dinner ($35.11).

Tonight we went to Open Kitchen in Falls Church. The restaurant is very unassuming, tucked away on the first floor of a commercial office building. They have the bistro, but the restaurant actually started as a shared commercial kitchen for entrepreneurs who needed a licensed kitchen for their food businesses. Open Kitchen also offers cooking classes.

For our starters, we had the deviled eggs with summer salad and steamed mussels in garlic, white wine and tomatoes. The deviled eggs were a classic mayo and vinegar variety with chives on top. They were kind of interesting because the were halved in the middle, rather than the long way. The mussels were nicely steamed and tender, not chewy. Both were big enough to share.

For the main course, Jim had the Skirt Steak, New Mexico Green Chili, Purple Potatoes, Grilled Mushrooms & Onions. I don't eat beef, so I can't comment on it, but Jim reports that it was very tender and the sauce was delicious. I had the Pork Chop with Onion Mustard Sauce, Soft White VA Grits & Summer Vegetables. The grits were creamy and the onion mustard sauce was a little sweet with the caramelized onions. The pork chop was frenched, which is always a pretty presentation.

The final course was dessert. I ordered the Vanilla Brown Sugar Creme Brulee. I will never say to creme brulee. It was a delicious custard, but could have used a thicker brulee on the top. I didn't quite get the snap I like when I crack the top. Jim had the chocolate mousse, which was light, but very intensely chocolatey. I'm glad the mousse came with fruit and whipped cream.

We ate outside on the porch and the weather could not have been nicer. Open Kitchen was a delightful dining experience and we are looking forward to eating there again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You Like Me!

I logged in to my email this morning and found that I had been given my very first blogger award! My friend Val, who writes the blog Meal Planning Mayhem, passed The Versatile Blogger award on to me. Thank you so much, Val.

Anyone receiving The Versatile Blogger award must follow the rules and share the award with other versatile bloggers.

Rule 1 - Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in the post.
Rule 2 - Tell your readers seven things about yourself.
Rule 3 - Give this award to fifteen other Versatile Bloggers
Rule 4 - Contact those bloggers and let them know about the award

I've already done the first one, so on to Rule 2 This is going to be tough, since I use this blog to tell you every little thing about me anyway.

1) My favorite food in the whole world is tacos. I could eat them every single day and never get tired of them. The best place to get tacos is Taqueria La Parrilla in Athens, GA.

2) I absolutely despise doing the dishes. Fortunately for me, Jim doesn't mind. I don't think I've done dishes more than five times since I met him.

3) I live in the Washington D.C. metro area. I work for a non-profit advocacy organization in an intensive political environment. I care less than zero about politics.

4) I love to play all kinds of board games. I especially like trivia games, word games and dominoes.

5) I hate brussel sprouts and blue cheese. I keep trying them every few years just to make sure and so far, there has been no change.

6) When I was in preschool, I got left at the public park. There were two vans and each thought I was with the other. I just wasn't ready to go yet, so I stayed. Fortunately, another school group was there and looked out for me until someone came for me. I didn't understand why everyone was upset. I wasn't lost; I knew exactly where I was.

7) The ringtone on my cell phone is the McDonald's Filet-o-fish song (watch it here) for everyone except my husband. His ring tone is "You are my sunshine."

Now, to pass the award on to 15 fabulous bloggers. If you have already gotten this award, consider yourself twice loved!
[the bear naked truth]
A Boy, A Girl & A Cat
Birds in a Bush
Dates and Quinces
Fields and Fine Linen
Fun, Food and Foolishness
Lindsey and Eli in Cambodia
Made by Jenny
My Football Shaped Heart
Signed in Ink
Strawberry Swing and Other Things
The Domestic Princess
The Musings of a Simple Girl
Ventures Vicarious

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Remembering What Might Have Been

I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to write this post and I ultimately decided that it would be cathartic, so here it is.

Today is a sad day for me. I had a hard time getting out of bed. I sabotaged my diet by getting French toast for breakfast. I am currently holed up in my office with the door closed. Today, I am grieving what might have been. Today is the day that I should have become a Mom.

We had been trying for 14 months and had two rounds of IUI when we found out we were pregnant on December 1, 2010. We were ecstatic; we were going to be parents. August 9, 2011 was my due date. It took everything we had not to share our news with the world, but we knew that all too often, things go wrong.

I was happy to go to the doctor's office every two days to have blood drawn. I was happy when I went for my first ultrasound on December 15 at six weeks and we could see the tiny spot that would grow to be our child. We didn't see a heartbeat, but it was still early and I was only a little worried.

Jim went with me for the second ultrasound on December 23. I was 7 weeks along and we were leaving town that afternoon to go home for Christmas. I've never been so glad to have him that day. Deep down, I already knew that the news wouldn't be good. I wasn't exhausted by 2:00 any more. I wasn't queasy if I didn't eat every two hours any more. As soon as I saw the doctor's face, I just started to cry. There was no change from the week before and no heartbeat. We had lost our baby.

I cried the whole day. I called my best friend from the airport and just sobbed. I called my sister and sobbed. Worst of all, instead of going home for Christmas and telling my very sick Mom that she was going to be a grandmother, I had to tell her that I might have to spend Christmas at the hospital when I finally started to miscarry. But my stupid body couldn't even do that right and there was no sign that I was going to miscarry naturally. When we got home from Georgia, on January 3, 2011, I had to have a D&C.

As of today, we have been trying for 22 months, had seven IUI procedures and one loss. We are no closer to growing our family than we were when we started, but we haven't given up yet. We still have hope, but today I am grieving the child that we will never know.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Peach Cobbler

Every Thursday there is a farmers market just north of the White House and right next to my Metro station, so I usually stop in. The peaches had been calling me since I got to work this morning. They've had peaches for a few weeks now, but are just now getting free stone peaches and I wanted cobbler.

This recipe is from my Mom. I as is the case with most of her recipes, I have no idea where she got it. You can use pretty much any fruit in it; I frequently make it with blackberries.

Peach Cobbler

5 c. sliced peaches
1 c. sugar
2 T. corn starch
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. water
2 T. butter

1 1/2 c. Bisquick
4 T. sugar
2/3 c. cream

Combine sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and water in a large sauce pan. Heat over medium until sugar dissolves. Add peaches. Stir in butter until melted. Pour into a greased baking dish.

In a separate bowl, mix baking mix, 2 T. sugar and cream to make batter. Drop by spoonfuls on top of fruit. Sprinkle remaining sugar on top of the biscuits.

Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes or until biscuits are brown.

Monday, August 1, 2011

70. Make a loan through Kiva

Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

Kiva works like this:
1. You browse for a loan that speaks to you - all of the loans on Kiva are worthy of funding.
2. You make your loan of as little as $25 and pay through PayPal (don't worry, you can check out as a guest if you don't have a PayPal account).
3. When the borrower repays the loan, it is credited to your Kiva account.
4. You can use your Kiva credits to make more loans or donate the credit for a tax deduction.

I made my first loan though Kiva today. I helped fund a loan for Vida Y Esperanza in Nicaragua, who wanted to borrow $350 to stock their dairy business. Kiva doesn't take any cut of the amount donated, so all your loan goes to help the borrowers, and they don't charge interest to the field partners that administer the loans.

For the first time ever, Kiva is offering 4,000 free trials to let new lenders make a real Kiva loan, at no cost to them. If you want to join Kiva, you can click though my link here.