Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lazy River Tubing 101

Picture from here.

I agreed to go tubing even though I was dubious about it because a) I don't particularly like the idea of lazy floating with nothing else to do and b) one of my greatest fears is river monsters.

BUT I'm happy to share that it is SO much fun. It's a weird way to very quickly bond with people, get some great outdoors time in a low-impact activity, but still get a decent workout and if you're more careful than me, a decent tan. I, of course, ended up with an epic sunburn despite repeated reapplications of sunscreen that was obviously not a high enough spf for fair old me. 

Let's say you, too, are interested in floating down a lazy river. I learned a few lessons from the experience; follow this advice, and you are guaranteed a fun time:

Tubing 101

1. The first most important thing is that you or a friend book a cooler tube where you can keep things you might need on the river, namely sunscreen with a high SPF and Solo cups. This is also a spot where you can stash your ugly fake Crocs, which are unfortunately, the best choice of footwear to navigate the slippery rocks. Someday we'll come up with a better sartorial option.

2. On one of those cooler tubes, you're going to want to have a giant container of Orange Crush: Vodka, Triple Sec, Cointreau (optional), Sprite and Orange Juice. It's splendid and will make your journey a great one.

3. On another cooler tube, have someone pack a cooler of sandwiches, chips and cookies. They will taste like magic after you've exerted all that energy.

4. Speaking of exerting energy, don't get out to swim unless the water is shallow and you can see the bottom fairly well. Seriously. I stupidly got out to swim in the absolute deepest part of the river and immediately realized it was going to be impossible to get back in my tube comfortably until I had something to launch from.

5. There are occasionally rapids, which are the best, most fun part of the trip, BUT keep your eyes out for scary rocks. Gotta lift that butt!

6. If you want to keep your sunglasses, wear the dorky little neck loop sunglass holder thingies. OR buy kitschy $5 heart-shaped sunglasses like me, with full knowledge you'll probably lose your love shades.

7. Bring a waterproof boom box. We didn't and we wish we had. But, sometimes you have to make your own music, so I hope everyone on the river appreciated our rendition of "Friends in Low Places."

8. Your arms will be so tired the next day, you'll be stunned. Your abs, too! Apparently lifting your butt in the rapids is a workout!

9. By the end of four hours, it is normal to have 6-7 pairs of dragonflies having orgies on your legs.

10. Last but not least, come ready to make friends, either with the people in your party, or with the random parties you end up spending the day floating with. It's a weird and wonderful experience to travel down-river with folks...but you already knew that from Huckleberry Finn, right?

p.s. If you're curious, we had our river adventure with Shenandoah River Outfitters and the campground/tubing was great!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Best v.115

Anjelica Huston, 1976 by Ara Gallant

So, as we discussed on Friday, I'm camping! Crazysauce. But I still have plenty of fun links to share with y'all, so clickety-click.

  • Mad at Chick-fil-a? Make you own amazing chicken sandwich.
  • Not sure who should get your vote in November? Take this quiz!
  • This article on how to interact with introverts gave me new insight into my hubby!
  • The Bloggess celebrates her anniversary in spectacular fashion.
  • The most incredible picture of a hail storm, captured through instagram!
  • A 6-year-old judges books by their covers.
  • Do you think parents are overinvolved these days? This incredible opinion series examines all sides of the debate.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Roughing it

Picture from here.

Guess what I'm doing this weekend? Somehow I got talked into going camping for the first time in AGES. My camping experience is limited to sleeping in backyards and Girl Scout camp, so this should be interesting. Although I feel no shame in telling you an RV is involved. I'm pretty sure that means I can't call it camping.

If it were up to me, I'd probably pack exactly like the girl in Moonrise Kingdom — novels, a record player, a pink dress. But alas, my friend recommended buying — the horror — crocs to survive walking on wet rocks in the river. At least they're pink? (no seriously, I'm horrified.)

Picture from here.

We are also going tubing on a lazy river. People tell me this is very fun and relaxing. I'm not someone who is ever comfortable with sitting still for prolonged periods of time without reading/painting/writing/creating, so sitting still on a lazy river for hours isn't my idea of fun BUT I'm giving it a chance, fully expecting it to rock my world and prove me wrong.

So convince me folks, what is the best thing about camping? What's required to make it amazing? What can we all agree sucks about it? Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today I Like ... Monochromatic

Room by Amanda Nisbet.

I've been thinking lately that I might just commit myself to a monochromatic color scheme for the guest bedroom...maybe blue. I think it would be simultaneously inspiring and a bit of a relief, you know? On the flip side, limiting myself seems scary. So I'm drawing some inspiration from these amazing monochromatic rooms in every color of the rainbow.

Room by Alice Lane Home.

 Room found on Amber's blog.

 Green room by Sheila Bridges (first saw this in the dearly departed Domino).

 Room by Steven Gambrel.

Purple room by Betsy Burnham.

Pink room found on Country Living.

Any of you ever considered this level of commitment? If so, what color would you go for? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cilantro Lime Fettucine with Steak

At Christmastime, I had the amaaaaazing tequila lime pasta with steak tips at Mike's American Grill and I've basically been craving it ever since. The other day I realized I had most of the ingredients on hand (unfortunately no tequila, though), and thought I'd give it a shot. What I ended up with didn't taste as good, but it was a fun twist on a cream pasta.

First, I grill pan'd up some skirt steak while I boiled fettucine.

In a pan, I melted butter, olive oil and minced garlic.

Once I was satisfied, I added cream (eye-balled it!) and let the mixture come to a boil, then simmer. I then added the juice of one lime (honestly, I would use a little less next time) a sprinkling of chipotle pepper and a sprinkling of cumin.

At the end, I added some fire-roasted peppers (I like the kind they sell at Trader Joe's), chopped cilantro and the pasta.

And topped it with the steak and cilantro. It was a little too limey for my taste, but was a fun twist on a citrus cream and a GREAT way to use up some of the ingredients you'd typically have on hand for fajitas or, in my case, Argentine food. I still want to try some of the recipes floating around the internet for tequila lime cream!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Derby Day!

Wine Club planned our outing to the Virginia Derby, at Colonial Downs, for months. We planned our outfits and our hats and then, as Murphy's Law dictates, the skies opened up and rain fell most of the day. Miranda and I luckily realized this early enough in the day to pull on our wellies, and I even grabbed my rain anorak. To quote the drunk guy who told us this twice: "Ya'll are the smartest people here." Here are some pictures from the day:

The drive to the racetrack wasn't encouraging...

Love the names! I said if I owned a racehorse, I'd name it "On Deadline."

We went over to the staging area where the horses are trotted out for the prospective betters. Some were feisty, some seemed sluggish, but it was hard to tell how that translates to the racetrack!

So we didn't have the best luck! lol

The best part about going to Derby is seeing all of the amazing fashions. Lauren made this amazing hat herself the night before! I'm thinking I have to step up my game if we ever go again!

I decorated my gold Target hat with fabric flower pins I've collected over the years. It was great fun, but by the end of the day, you would have thought I had been running! I yawned all the way home.

P.S. If you follow me on Instagram, you would've seen most of these pictures already! If you don't, follow me here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I Spy: French Posters, Napkin Rings and Copper Glasses

 As I so often do, I killed time before a meeting last night by doing a run through of a couple aisles at the Williamsburg Antique Mall, a.k.a my favorite place ever. I'm starting to wonder how I can parlay my obsession with looking at old stuff into a job...anyone want someone to pick out their antiques for them? LOL. Here are some treasures I found this go-round.

First up: a French travel poster promoting vacations in Brittany. I'm the first to admit decorating with French ad posters is a bit passe, but only when it's an overly reproduced poster you bought at a college sale. This is the real deal, and has the $250 sticker to prove it. Could be really, really fun in a beach house.

 Usually, display pieces in antique malls have the tell-tale NFS "not for sale" sticker or tag, but this bamboo and glass skinny table was yours to take home! For $99, I thought it was a bit pricey, but with a coat of paint (I'm thinking tomato red, metallic gold or pure white), this would be the perfect entry table. It's skinny enough to fit in an apartment hallway!

 I saw one thing I've never seen before: a unique corner chair made from an old bed. It was $124.95. I could just picture it in the corner of a home office or library with a custom cushion, maybe in this fabric.

 I was totally in lurve with these Blue Willow pattern china napkin rings. I think they would be lovely with any solid color napkins, and for $22 for four, they were a steal. Actually, I might need them. lol

 I'm not exactly sure if this little apple glass container has a purpose, but I thought it would be a great objet d'art...it could be a paperweight or hold paperclips or cotton balls. It was $3.

 I thought the colors in these geisha-print teacups would be so inspiring to design a dining room around...shades of rust, hot pink, blue and yellow. Each cup was $17.

 The shape on this wood frame is so unique and commands attention. It was an uber-affordable $45!

 I couldn't find a price for these tumblers, but I was in love with the copper bases.

And, maybe it's because all my friends are having babies, but I couldn't deny the adorableness of this antique child's rocking chair. It was pricey, at $220, but could be an amazing heirloom. Wouldn't a cushion in this fabric be so lovely?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coconut Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

 My ice cream kick continues! For my Argentine wine club night, I decided to make Brittany Powell's Salted Coconut Dulce de Leche ice cream, which I thought would be a fun spin on a traditional Argentine cookie called alfajores, with dulce de leche filling dipping in coconut shavings.

This is the absolute easiest ice cream recipe ever. Take one can of dulce de leche (I used La Lechera), one can of coconut milk and one cup of half-and-half and mix. Add a little vanilla extract and a little sea salt.

 Put the mixture in the fridge for a few hours. I always try to cheat and put it in the freezer for 45 minutes and then make ice cream, but I learned my lesson. If you really let it get chill, the ice cream-making process is really so much faster. I put it in my ice cream maker and within 15 minutes had soft-serve consistency; then I froze it and although it froze a little hard, a few minutes spent defrosting did wonders.

It was delicious, but not quite what I expected. If I were to do it again, I might actually make honest-to-goodness dulce de leche to get a richer flavor. But for expediency's sake, this sure hits the spot!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dining in Old Town Alexandria

Although we were only in DC for Saturday and Sunday, we managed to have a couple great meals in Old Town Alexandria (where my lovely in-laws live). For dinner on Saturday, we went to Rustico, a creative Italian-influenced restaurant with an incredibly lengthy beer menu. I chose blackberry pear cider, and it was the perfect summer drink!

 For a starter, I had a helping of risotto "tater" tots with pesto aioli...they were delicious and would make amazing party food.

 Bret and Ashleigh were a little more adventurous. Bret had steak tartare sliders (ACK!)...

 And Ash had deep fried deviled eggs!

 For our entrees, Bret ordered swordfish over ratatouille, which was great inspiration for using up the summer bounty of veggies.

 Ash and I both couldn't resist the pretzel-crusted mac and cheese...but we're thinking the execution can be improved upon. Orzo doesn't really work as a mac substitute, in my opinion.

 On Sunday, Katie, Bret and I had a fabulous brunch at Jackson 20, a Southern-inspired restaurant in the Monaco Hotel in the middle of Old Town. Don't you love the cute little piggies?

I loved the Heath Ceramics salt and pepper shakers, mostly because we have the sugar and creamer set from this line!

 I ordered the BLT with hash browns and it was great, although a bit hard to keep together.

But, the best part of the meal were by far the $12 bottomless mimosas. When they say bottomless, they aren't joking; nearly every sip I took was refilled!

It was a great little weekend trip and I can't wait to go back to Rustico to try some of their awesome pizza toppings.

DC: Conquered

My platonic life partner Bret and I had an excellent weekend conquering the DC area! We ate some amazing food, drank some great wine, visited Mt. Vernon and saw a great play. Eating out merits a post of its own, but for now, I thought I'd share some snapshots from the weekend.

 If you've never been, Mt. Vernon is definitely worth a trip! I won't lie, as Founding Fathers' homesteads go, Monticello is my sure favorite. But Mt. Vernon has an undeniable grandness; it paid to be a surveyer back then...you got the best real estate!

We learned on the tour that Mt. Vernon is actually a wood house, with planks beveled and painted to look like stone. It has beautiful arched porticos with climbing honeysuckle...just heavenly. And nothing beats the location overlooking the Potomac.

 Bret and I thought it the perfect spot for a fake engagement photo shoot.

 If you haven't toured in recent years, it's full of surprises! Its newer museum is full of interactive fun, with goofy movies and a spot where you can pretend to take the Oath of Office. It snows during a movie about famous battles!

Later Saturday night, Bret and I went to see The Normal Heart, an incredibly heartwrenching play about the outbreak of the AIDS virus and the gay men who tried to stop its rampage in the early 80s. The entire audience was weeping and sniffling by the end, but it is 100 percent worth seeing if you get the chance. A movie adaptation is said to be on its way.

So, now you've seen the activities...let's get to the eats! I'll be posting about our culinary adventures later today.