Monday, September 3, 2012

Jalapeno Poppers

My brother-in-law, Mark, has a garden with approximately 90 billion jalapeno pepper plants in it that go absolutely bonkers every year.  I have never known what to do with the peppers, but my other brother-in-law, Randy, makes a lot of poppers each summer.  I got Randy's recipe and gave it a try.

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno peppers
1 pound of pork sausage
8 oz cream cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs

Ready for a bath
Cut the stem ends off the peppers, slice them in half length-wise and remove the seeds and ribs.  I was not too careful about this step, since I like a little heat in mine.

Stuffed for baking
Blanch the peppers in boiling water for 1 minute and remove to an ice water bath to stop the cooking.  This removes more of the heat, so feel free to skip this part if you like them hot.  Dry the peppers.

Golden brown and delicious
Brown the sausage, and crumble into very small pieces.  Drain.  Cool slightly and mix with the cream cheese.  Fill the peppers and place on a greased baking sheet.  Top with grated Parmesan and bread crumbs.

Bake at 375* for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Nom, nom, nom all the peppers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Photos

On Monday, my sister and I went the National Museum of Natural History and visited the butterfly pavilion.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer Restaurant Week 2012

Saturday was the last day of Restaurant Week for this summer.  I was so excited that my sister was going to be here to experience it.  Plus, with three people, we get to try even more great dishes.  If you haven't been before, 200+ restaurants in D.C. offer a prix fixe three course menu for $20.12 for lunch or $35.12 for dinner.  It's a great chance to eat at some fabulous places that we wouldn't go to otherwise. 

This time we tried District Commons, which is located right at the Foggy Bottom metro stop and is owned by the same restaurant group that operates Acadiana, D.C. Coast and Passion Fish.  I love to go to restaurants in this group because most of the restaurants that participate in the Restaurant Week give you a limited number of choices for your meal, but Passion Food Group lets you choose any entree on their menu. 

Appetizers:   For our first courses we had Texas Chili (Jim), Mixed Greens Salad (Sara) and Seafood Chowder.  Jim's chili came with this adorable star shaped cornbread and my soup had Hidden Valley Ranch oyster crackers.  The salad had excellent deviled eggs with pralined bacon. 

Entrees:  Jim ordered the Pork Rack Chop “Blue Ribbon” with Benton Ham, Mozzarella, Eggplant Chow Chow and a Jonnycake.  My sister ordered the Roasted Duck “Low & Slow” with a sorghum chili glaze and Wild Rice-Sweet Potato Hash.  I ordered the North Carolina Mountain Trout with Broccolini, Pine Nuts, Citrus Burnt Butter, because I can never say no to trout when I see it on the menu. 

Dessert:  Honestly, I'm surprised we had any room left for dessert at this point, but we had the Boston Creme Pie, Peach and Mango Sundae and the Chocolate Raspberry cake.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A fair is a veritable smorgasbord...*

I see that it has been nearly two months since I came to visit you at this blog.  What can I say, I've been busy.  In that time, we found new tenants for our rental property, got said property ready for the new tenant (carpet cleaning, painting, etc), went to Tennessee to see Jim's brother and his wife and all our nieces and nephews, went to a baseball game, went to a soccer game, and celebrated our third anniversary.  I'm exhausted!

Food on a stick
Last night, we went to the Arlington County Fair, mainly to indulge my addiction to traveling death rides and fried food on a stick.  It did not disappoint.

Keep your head & hands inside the Sizzler
It was starting to get cloudy when we left the house, so we were just hoping to get some rides in before it started to pour rain.  Plus, you always want to do the rides before you eat.  We almost made it.  First we rode the Sizzler.  The Sizzler, which is sometimes called the Scrambler,is my favorite carnival ride.  It has three main arms with four buckets on each arm and it just whips you around so that it looks like you are going to hit either the middle support or the fence around the ride. 

After the Sizzler, we went to a ride called the Hurricane.  This ride has six arms with a bucket that seats four people.  It rotates and uses compressed air cylinders to bounce riders up and down.  This is ride we were on when it started to pour rain.  It was also at the far end of the fair ground, so we had to run the whole length of the midway to get back to the indoor exhibits.  Needless to say, we were completely soaked.

Mmm,  Twinkie
Fortunately the rain didn't last long, so we were back outside and looking for food on a stick.  We got corn dogs, the obligatory funnel cake, lemonade and Jim ordered a deep fried Twinkie.  I have to tell you, it was better than you would have thought, although how you would eat a whole one, I don't know.  I only had a small bite, but the Twinkie gets sort of melty and creamy once it's fried and it is very, very sweet.

So, as the title says (thanks to Charlotte's Web), a fair has a little bit of everything and I, for one, will never pass it up.
Soaking wet and lovin' it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

My New Favorite Place

We have great friends.  Great friends who own their own condo at the beach.  Great friends who will let you use that condo in exchange for caramel popcorn with peanuts.

The first weekend in June, we went to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  It's the closest beach to D.C. at about three and a half hours away.  We were going to drive over after Jim got off work on Friday night to try to avoid the weekend beach traffic, which can get ridiculous, but there was severe weather on Friday so we decided to very early Saturday morning.  We left home around 6:15 and I took this picture at 9:48, and we even stopped for breakfast.

It was a beautiful weekend.  We could not have asked for nicer weather, the beach is beautiful and was not very crowded because it was still early in the season.  We even got to play mini-golf (my favorite beach activity) and eat crabs with one of my friends who lives in my computer (hi Laura).  The only thing that could have made it better is if the water had been warmer.  It was icy cold, but Jim went in anyway.

They give you a hat to wear!
Shell We Golf

The beach at night.  Isn't it beautiful?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dinner on the Water

Ok, so it was really brunch, but I'm still counting it.  Back in the fall, Jim bought a Groupon for a two-for-one brunch cruise on The Nina's Dandy, which we used on May 20th.
I'm going to start by saying we almost didn't make it on the boat.  I was positive that we boarded down at one end of the waterfront in Alexandria.  Not so much.  By the time Jim finally asked, we had to hightail it a couple of blocks to the other end and just made it.  They took our picture as we got on and I would share it with you because it's a great picture of Jim, but I look like butt.  They made me take my sunglasses off (which are prescription) and took the picture before I could get my real glasses on and I'm squinting into the sun.  Lovely.  So you get this one instead of us on the deck of the boat.

We were seated pretty quickly and brought our drinks - Bloody Mary for Jim and mimosa for me.  The dining room is a tight fit with the buffet taking up much of the open space that is normally a dance floor, so the wait staff controlled the number of people in line.  The food was good, typical breakfast stuff and Thanksgiving style dinner, but nothing special.  There was, however, a lot of it.    

After we ate, we went up to the top of the boat to enjoy the cruise up the river.  We went up almost to the Kennedy Center and then had to turn around because they were racing dragon boats at the Georgetown waterfront.  On the return trip, we went down river to the Gaylord National before coming back to Alexandria.

On the top of the Nina's Dandy
Medallion on the Memorial Bridge

Lincoln Memorial

The Kennedy Center

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Catching Up

You know, it's a good thing that I have absolutely no desire to try to monetize this blog because I do a terrible job of keeping it up.  But don't worry; I have written and scheduled several entries for your reading pleasure.

I'm going to try to do some catching up in chronological order, starting with our trip to the Center of the Universe.

On Saturday, May 12th we drove down to Ashland, Virginia, which, I am not making this up, bills itself as the Center of the Universe.  It cracks me up every time we drive into town.  It is also where Jim went to school, at Randolph-Macon College.  They were having an alumni event and we hadn't been down in awhile, so we wanted to see what was new.  Turns out, the answer is a lot.  They have built new dorms, are building a new student center/bookstore and are reworking the football field.  We walked around campus, which is quite pretty, and dropped in to the event for music, food and beer.  We also found the brick that Jim bought (and several other bricks for friends and teammates).

Then on the way, we decided to detour out to see Chancellorsville, just because we could and neither of us had been there before.  We live in a place that is smack dab in the middle of a whole bunch of U.S. history and that is awesome.  That, and because I was going to exit there anyway to get a Sonic.  We got to the visitor's center and sidled up on a group listening to a ranger talk about the wounding and death of Stonewall Jackson, which was very interesting.  According to the ranger, Jackson probably would have survived his injury and amputation, if he had not been sick already.  Then we got the battlefield map and took most of the driving tour before we had to get back on the road home.

Monday, May 28, 2012

DIY Project

I don't know what it is about a holiday weekend that inspires me to do projects around the home, but it always does.  I thought about doing the kitchen back splash this weekend, but then my car's radiator sprang a leak and had to go to the shop.  I knew the back splash would probably be a multi-Home Depot-trip project, so I put it off in favor of this quick and easy one.

Before and After
All you need is a lamp or two that don't quite match your style, some painters tape, a drop cloth and one can of spray paint (Rustoleum Textured Metallic silver).  I covered the electrical part on top with aluminum foil and stuffed the cord in a ziploc bag, then taped the little bit that was sticking out.  Once I got the lamps all prepped and dusted, it only took about 10 minutes to do this, which is good, since it was hot as all get out today.

I am going to change the harps from gold to silver and I need to get new shades for them, otherwise I'd show you a picture of them back in the bedroom.  The old shades are not the bright white I want, but I think the bases came out great. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Philip Carter Winery

 You may not know this, but Virginia has some really world class wineries.  There 206 wineries in Virginia, basically running in a line along the edge of the Shenandoah Mountains.  Seventy-one of them are within about a one hour drive from our home.  Because of the seasons we experience here, Virginia produces a wine much more in the style of European wines that the very fruity wines that you get from California, where they have a much more consistent temperature and rainfall.

Baby Grapes
It's difficult to produce wine here.  They started growing grapes here 400 years ago.  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both had vineyards and never produced a single bottle.  You have to survive the winter, the potential for an early spring followed by a sudden frost (which is what happened this year), pests, animals, and then harvesting all the fruit before it freezes again.
This weekend, we drove out to Hume, VA to visit Philip Carter Winery.  We got a Travelzoo voucher for a guided tour of the winery, a tasting of seven wines, picnic with cheese, meat and chocolate, souvenir glasses and a 10% discount on whatever wine we purchased.  We bought a bottle of Viognier, a grape that I had never heard of until I moved here.  Last year, the viognier was named Virginia's official state grape.  Viognier grapes make a dryish white wine and Philip Carter's wine has flavors of lemongrass, citrus and tropical fruits.  Their Viognier is aged in stainless steel, which I much prefer over oak-y wines, like chardonnays.  This bottle is going to be great with Maryland blue crab latter this summer.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane...

This shows how close the park is to the runway

Or a lot of planes.  Jim put me in charge of planning "something outdoors" for us to do this weekend.  I immediately thought that a picnic would be great, and I could cross something off of my 101 goals list.

Gravelly Point is a park on the George Washington Parkway, right along the Virginia side the Potomac, across from D.C.  However, it's main claim to fame is that it is located a few 100 feet from the north end of runway 1/19 at National Airport.  It is one of the best places in America for plane spotting and it has been on my list of cool, free things to do for a very long time.

We packed up a lunch of hummus and crackers, asparagus, mozzarella and tomato salad, turkey, cranberry, spinach and brie wraps and oatmeal-raspberry bars and headed on down.  It was a cloudy day, but no rain, and the park was full, but were able to find a place to park on the grass lot.   

Once we staked out a place, we ate lunch and then spent some time trying to catch good pictures of planes that are moving very fast with my little point-and-shoot camera.  After many, many tries and many bad shots, I figured out that using the setting for sports worked best and we got these pictures.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't Ignore...

It's easy to do. No one really wants to talk about it. Not health care professionals, not the government, certainly not insurance companies, not the media, not even the friends and family members of the people who struggle with infertility. Hell, we don't even want to talk about it and it's our problem.

Infertility is disease of the reproductive system which affects 7.3 million people in the United States.  That is 1 out of 8 couples.  Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility and just don't know it.  And it's not just women.  Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained.

And yet, with all these people suffering from a recognized medical condition, only fifteen states require that health insurance provide some level of treatment for infertility.  With healthcare reform legislation passing Congress does not want to talk about insurance coverage. Plus, in the current legislative climate cost is the driving factor and any federally mandated insurance coverage for anything would be very, very difficult to pass.  Lastly, when Congress was not under such a fiscal crisis in past years, the insurance mandate bill garnered less than 25 co-sponsors and never had any traction.   In other words, the bill did not get much support even under much better circumstances.

Therefore, the infertility community is supporting The Family Act of 2011, S 965/HR 3522, which is a bill in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives that would create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs incurred for the medical treatment of infertility.  This bill is modeled after the adoption tax credit.  For many years families have been created with the help of the Adoption Tax Credit, and we hope this new tax credit will achieve the same level of success for those trying to cover the costs of medical treatments.  If you would like to contact your Senators or Representatives to show your support for this bill, you can click the links.    

Last year, I wrote this post, and I really hoped that I would have a happy story to tell you this year, but I don't.  Yet.  But I will tell you what I have learned about myself over the last two years.  I've learned that I can give myself injections in my stomach.  I've learned that hormonal medication makes me a raving lunatic.  I've learned that my husband loves me even when I'm a raving lunatic.  I've learned that friends that live in your computer can be your best friends.  I've learned that fun socks make frequent probings of your lady bits more tolerable.  I've learned that sometimes you need a good cry and then you pick yourself up and carry on. I've learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This is the last cruise related post, I promise. Our final port of call was Cozumel and we went snorkeling. I had gone before, but this was Jim's first time.

After our introduction to snorkeling on land, we all got into the water. Please pardon my no-glasses squint into the sun. That is not our boat in the background, ours was behind it, but it's pretty close. We went with a group of about 10 people and we were probably the youngest of the crowd and the strongest swimmers. It's a good thing, too, because the current was a little strong where we were. Also, I am the world's most awkward person getting into the water, but I do alright once I'm in.

Because of the currents, we swam up the shore so that we did all the hard work first and then just drifted back to where we got in. We did a good job of staying up with the guide, but several members of our group had trouble and needed a kick board and a rest. We both had waterproof cameras to take pictures of fish, but they didn't come out very well. Here are a few that are alright.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


On our cruise, we had two ports of call. The first was in Belize City, Belize, however 'port' is a bit of a misnomer.

The continental shelf around Belize is very shallow. So shallow that the cruise ships cannot actually dock there. They have to drop anchor 5 miles off shore and use tender boats to get passengers to shore.

While in Belize, we took a tour up the Old Belize River. On the boat ride, we saw crocodiles, spider monkeys, iguanas, bats and many birds. Once we got up river, we stopped at a little cafe that I am sure only exists to feed lunch to tourists. We ate chicken that was must have been cooked all day long because it just fell apart, red beans and rice, and salad. I added some local hot sauce to my rice and it was fabulous. I liked the hot sauce so much I brought some home.

After lunch, we went to Altun Ha to see some Mayan ruins. Altun Ha is culturally significant for the Temple of Masonry Altar, which rises over 60ft above the plaza. Thought to be the main religious center of the civilization, the temple houses the famous head of Kinich Ahau: a 10lb (5kg) piece of jade carved into the head of the Mayan sun god.

This temple is also depicted on the national beer, Belikin, which we drank before heading back out to our ship.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Owe Y'all Some Updates

I have been a bad blogger. I know it. I say I'm going to do better and then I get home from work and crash on the sofa like a turnip. That said, since I seem to be motivated today, I'm going to do a whole bunch of blogging. Consider yourself warned.

Thirty-One Spring Outlet Sale starts tomorrow!

It's time for a Thirty-One outlet sale. Get ready to be reunited with some of your favorite discontinued prints and products from past catalogs at deeply discounted prices.

Just click on the Thirty-One logo to the right and you'll go right to my website. Look around and try out some products at great price. The sale runs from Wednesday through Friday, April 20th or until products run out.

I'm happy to answer any questions about the products, the company and the business opportunity!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

LIberty of the Seas

Jim and I just got back from our first cruise and I think we are in love. Neither one of us wanted to get off the boat. We sailed on Royal Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale and went to Belize and Cozumel (details to come in posts later this week). Right now, I want to talk about the boat. The Liberty of the Seas is one of the largest ships in Royal Caribbean's line and there is something to do for everyone.

We boarded at about noon on Saturday and because the staterooms would not be ready until about 1:00, we headed up to the Windjammer Cafe, the casual buffet, for some lunch. When we were finished eating, we went down to deck 7 to see our stateroom. We had an interior room, which was fine, but next time (yes, I'm already thinking about next time) I really want an exterior with a balcony.

From there, we went straight to the pool since the luggage hadn't been delivered yet. We spent most of our pool time in the Solarium pool, since it was adults only. At 4:00, there was a mandatory muster drill to give important information in case of emergency and then we were off. Jim and I went back to our room for a nap, since we had gotten up so early to get to the airport. When we woke up, our luggage was there and we went exploring the ship.

I'll start at the top and work my way down. Deck 13 is the sports deck, with the FlowRider, rockwall and mini-golf. We played mini golf one night at 11:00 in 45 mph winds. It was hilarious watching me try to putt and hold my dress down at the same time.

Deck 12 has the arcade, teen night clubs and kids activities, a jogging track and a Johnny Rocket's restaurant. Deck 11 is the Windjammer, the specialty restaurants, all the pools and the gym, which we never set foot in.

Decks 10 - 6 are staterooms. We were on Deck 7, which is also where the library is located. Deck 5 is the Royal Promenade, which is shopping, bars and places to eat. It's also where they have the Dreamworks parades and some of the evening parties, and The Sphinx nightclub. The casino and several bars are on Deck 4. The Platinum theater, ice rink and On Air (karaoke) bar are on Deck 3. Also, the main dining room is a three level room on Decks 3, 4 and 5. Finally, Deck 2 is the Screening Room movie theater.