Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Love List

I love summer, sweat and all.

Summer rainstorms that run hard and fast, the fat drops surprisingly cold on my tanned skin.

Lazy orange sunsets kicking off long summer nights.

I'm beginning to love humidity, the way it slows everyone and everything down, making summer a hot and sticky stroll.

Peach juice running down my wrist as I bite into a perfectly succulent and ripe fruit.

Sunglasses slipping down my nose.

The shockingly cold blast of the air conditioner as I step into the cool, shady retreat of a building.

Tan lines on my shoulders that take months to fade.

Rickety ladders leaned against cherry trees in my family's backyard.

Chasing that little white ball to the green.

But mostly, remembering when I fell in love with Layne for the first time.

What do you love about summer?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Busy week

In honor of my midyear's resolutions, I have really begun to live! We did a lot this past week like...

Having Layne's best friend Thorn visit.

When his gf Joanna was still in town, we hit up Serendipity and pigged out on dessert, including the oh so famous frozen hot chocolate. The wt inside me says DQ's is still better. We took him all around the National Mall, fed him a really great dinner made by Mister Fletcher -who is the king of all really good food at our house-, and made him up a bed on our living room floor, air mattress and all!

We also popped by the National Zoo (don't believe the lies. It's not open til 8, it's only open til 5 if you want to see anything), had the most incredible milkshakes of our lives at Good Stuff Eatery, and a bigger piece of pizza than any one person should devour.

That's right. Most of Thorn's trip consisted of eating and we couldn't have been happier.

Triple Double Dating
 Somehow, we ended up spending Thursday, Friday and Saturday night with our good friends the Harrisons. Thursday we did some mini golf - yeah!

Friday was prime time for an outdoor movie on the National Harbor.

And Saturday Amy and I wandered the city, starting the day at Eastern Market and winding our way up to Hobby Lobby in Maryland. A solid 40 minutes without traffic, it took us an hour and a half to get there and it was still worth it. Later that night, Mister Fletcher made a res and joined us with Andrew for dinner at this ridiculously old tavern in Alexandria. "Ridiculously old" means George Washington had his birthday party there. Yeah. Ridiculous. But really cool.

All this, with a board meeting at work this week! Worked all day, played all night every night! I am wiped out and may have to spend the rest of my day by the pool. Zzzz...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Feed my Face: Paris

Since it's been three weeks, maybe I should tell you what I ate in Paris, huh? It was all sooooooooooooo good!

We had to stop for a snack on the way to dinner the first night there. Our first stop, and by far the best patisserie we hit in Paris. I got this fabulous raspberry pistachio tart, and Layne had the pistachio napoleon thing in the background. The tart was so juicy and amazingly flavorful, while the napoleon was very rich and had much warmer flavors. YUM.

Our first restaurant was super French! And since it was sort of off the beaten tourist path, they very much only spoke French. And we very much only speak English. Ordering became a series of pointing at the menu and miming, while the rest of the meal was basically just "merci" over and over again. For appetizers, we forgot to take a picture! Really too bad, because it was one of the most visually deliciously of the trip. Layne had bone marrow on a crostini with asparagus and mushrooms, while I had a green bean and peach salad. They both sound odd, but were fantastic. For the main course, I had (right) the quail with bacon and a fried quail egg over spring peas. The sauce was divine, and if you don't love the richness of yolk broken over your salty meats then we simply don't have that much in common. Layne had (left) what was sort of like a lobster au gratin dish with cavier on top. And then I had a strawberry sorbet and Layne had the chocolate ice cream like stuff over a vanilla sauce.

For late lunch/early dinner the next day, we hit up a cute little cafe right on the street. We started with escargot and I LOVED IT! The green you can see was herbs, not the snail itself. For the main course, Layne got the steak with pepper sauce and fries, and I went with the croque madame, which is a croque monsieur (hot ham and cheese sandwich) with an egg on top. The pepper sauce had just the right bite, and dragging the fries through it made me never want ketchup again.

For lunch the next day, we went to a restaurant right next to the Arch de Triomphe. It was pouring rain, but we sat in this room that was completely glass and watched the Parisians dash through the rain. I had a caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, and Layne had a club sandwich. The picture does not do justice to how big that sandwich was!

For dinner the next night, we went Italian. They had an olive oil dipping bowl with diced garlic marinating in it. I tasted garlic for three days, which is heaven if you ask me. Layne had gnocchi and I had a seafood linguine with mussels, clams, and calamari with the absolute lightest sauce.

Later that night, we went for crepes (for the second time - we had also had crepes right by the Eiffel Tower a few nights before). But these crepes were so much better! I got a strawberry and lemon with whipped cream (or chantilly, which I found hilarious since Chantilly is a D.C. suburb). My crepe was fine. But Mister Fletcher ordered a crepe with salted butter caramel sauce and I almost died it was so good! And the little creperie we were at was so cute I took pictures; don't you love the wall?

Interspersed was a lot more patisserie and boulangers, and a nightly baguette with brie. Basically, we loved eating in France, possibly even moreso than usual! So what if I gained six lbs? I look back on those 4 days and it was worth it!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Savor the Moments

Are you happy?

Such an odd question really. Since when has happiness been a prevailing emotion? When people ask "How are you?" we never respond that we're happy. We're always tired or hungry or stressed - at the most, we might be fine or good. We never reply with a smile on our lips that we are happy.

Happiness is an overzealous dog on a walk. You try to keep up with the high energy and enthusiasm, but time and again the leash is ripped from your fingers and the dog disappears around the corner. We're always running after it, calling it back to us, trying to bring it home. For some of us, happiness runs slowly and we are able to catch it time and time again, hold on to it for a length of time and reacquaint ourselves with the effervescent feeling. For others, happiness is a friend we've not seen in what seems like years.

It's that fleeting emotion we're searching for, but it gets swallowed up in the everyday. Do the laundry and the dishes, check your e-mail, take a shower, go to work, go to bed - who puts "Be Happy" on their To Do list? I can feel content easily enough. My husband can attest to my contented sighs as I snuggle into my sheets at night and roll over ready for the day to end, my tidy home and organized inbox a marker on my accomplishments. Every day, I smile and laugh and there's a swelling of happiness that I then quash as I move abruptly on with my life, fielding phone calls and dusting the living room.

Savor the moments. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Midyear Resolutions

With all the fireworks last night, I feel like now is the perfect time to share my midyear resolutions! It's taken me a while to get back on the blogging bandwagon after my quick trip to Europe and last weekend's blackout, but I wanted to share my midyear goals! I know I still owe my final Paris post on "what we ate," but I promise it is coming because I enjoy writing it far more than you probably enjoy reading it!

I've been thinking about life in the grander scheme lately and decided I needed to set a few goals to keep them a priority. So - here we go!

1. Exercise every day from July 1-September 1.
I am already not ringing in a perfect score for this goal but I am not giving up! Mister Fletcher and I have been talking about the importance of a healthy lifestyle lately, and I've realized that my dormant and indulgent tendencies are not really in keeping with that. To enjoy our lives through our entire lives, we're working on making healthier choices every day. My hope is that by setting this goal for every day through two months, it can become a habit and will no longer have to be a goal.

2. Stick to our budget.
This is a little sticky... Since we've both been working 9-5 salaried positions, we're making more money than either of us have ever had in our lives. It feels nice to not have to worry about money or paying our bills, but we had hoped to be saving a bit more than we are right now. We drew up a budget in January and we just need to enforce it a bit more strictly.

3. Live my life.
With everything that goes on in the day to day, it can become easy to forget to live life. Sometimes, the draw of just zoning out on the couch is far too powerful to resist. But wasting time when we all have so little will leave me looking back at my life in regret. I'm going to push myself to really get out and enjoy things, take advantage of the amazing world around me!

Do you have any resolutions you're still working on? What do you want to accomplish before 2013?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Paris from my iPhone

This is a post for my instagram Paris photos (since I realized my OCD could not handle the crazy varying photo size thing my NY posts did). It feels like the perfect post to share some of the things I didn't know you couldn't know about traveling abroad, or at least my very limited experience with it in France.

Eiffel Tower through the day

1-Apparently, you don't actually need a toilet seat. It's frivolous to the French! You can sit just right on the porcelain and settle in. So nice, and not at all disgusting.


Winged Victory at the Louvre

Ceiling in the Louvre

2-Nobody works pretty much at any time! A ton of places were closed both Sunday and Monday, shops start closing up before dinner, and the mornings are dead til at least 10. I now understand the economic crisis.

Arc du Carrousel
Sunset on the Seine

3-People watching is approved. Encouraged. I would say borderline mandatory. All those little Parisian cafes have the most adorable tables and chairs set up, but the chairs are not placed around the tables. They are all lined up behind them and people file in to watch the street scenes unfold like an outdoor cinema.

Versailles gardens
Versailles gardens

Versailles Chateau

4-French people sound nothing like Americans making fun of French people. Trying as absolutely hard as we could, Mister Fletcher and I could barely utter "Bonjour," "merci," and "patisserie" ( you know, the essentials) without the heat of shame flushing our cheeks. We slaughtered the beauty of the French language.

Lunch by the Arc de Triomphe

5-Your visa card may not work so you should carry cash, or at least that funny money they use over there with all it's colors and odd coins. I feel so duped by the whole ad campaign that touted visa being "everywhere you want to go," when it doesn't work on the subway or in cabs or a bunch of other places.

Inside Sacre Coure
Sacre Coure

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Paris - part deux

We woke up Sunday to ominously heavy skies. Hedging our bets, we dressed for rain and jumped on the train toward Versailles where I "sat" next to a horribly evil person that Layne tried to cuss at in every language he knows a curse word in to no avail. Sadly, she will remain unabashed and horrible for all time, but my husband did his best to defend me. 
When we arrived, we quickly saw the line was ridiculous (or so we thought) and decided to hit up the gardens in spite of the misting French rain. They were - like all things French - fantastically imposing and gorgeous. After walking down the side of the chateau and getting his first look down at the gardens, we were completely flabbergasted Sorry for the lack of pictures - I guess I can't remember to talk pictures in the rain!

It is a fairly phenomenal sight. 

I also didn't take many pictures inside as I was too busy shuffling like a cow in a herd, but it was even more ostentatious and over the top than I imagined. My vision was overwhelmed with the gold, glitz, and glamour of the foolishly indulgent French court. It quickly became clear to me that living in a place as magnificent as Versailles would have made it impossible for anyone to stay grounded in reality.

It was late afternoon and absolutely pouring by the time we got back to the city. We grabbed a very late lunch at this restaurant looking at the Arc de Triomphe. We tried to do some souvenir shopping but nearly every place we tried was closed. Since we were heading home the next day and had to be to the airport in the morning, we called it an early night.

The only good thing about rain in Paris is the sunsets it creates. Photoshop didn't even hit this baby - it just would have screwed up the amazing colors Mother Nature intended to share!

Hoping to squeeze in a few more sights, we woke up around 5 the next morning and headed to Sacre Coure. We had to climb this huge hill, but it was gorgeous and worth it.

Amazing view of Paris from way up here.

We then headed to the airport, but Paris was not ready for us to leave just then. We didn't make it on to the flight, so we headed back to the hotel. Layne needed a nap since we had been going so hard for so long and I had promised him some sleep on the plane, so I wandered the streets by our hotel and simply admired Paris. We had seen everything on our top list at this point, so that night we just stayed in our own little corner and explored.

Our metro stop

01 09 10