Friday, August 29, 2008

Empty Walls

I knew this was coming....the yearly increase in my apartment rent. But this time they also changed some of the leasing rules and are including utilities.

My attempt at negotiating to lower the monthly rent failed, but I did talk them into repainting my apartment (something that hasn't been done in 6 years!). This means that I spent part of yesterday and today taking everything off the walls and moving all my furniture away from the walls and towards the middle of my tiny apartment (my poor back!).

I think I'm close to being done. It looks so sad and empty. My entire apartment is in such a disarray. But hopefully after I come back from Montreal, everything will be nicely painted (the wall that is, not my stuff!), and I'll put all my pictures, mirrors, etc. back to where they belong.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Que Paso?

After eating out for lunch with Wendy and Amy, and then consuming quite a bit of bacon for dinner, I decided it was time to return to the gym. I haven't been at the gym in more than two months....oh the horror!

Of course, I also had an ulterior motive: Project Runway was on, and it's a great motivator to stay on an elliptical for almost an hour. I'm actually quite pleased with how well I did, despite the fact that the only other people at the gym were these super fit girls...maybe one day I'll be them.

I then came home, ate a watermelon and watched 13 mini episodes of Imaginary Bitches on Youtube. Jenn recommended I watch this show, and it was rather hilarious: give it a try :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Handles for an Old Bag

A few months ago I made new handles for my old bag using a fabric belt. Well, unfortunately, the fabric got really dirty, and I don't think I can wash it.

Tonight, I had no plans, other than going to the library and eating dinner. I took out a sewing machine I'm keeping while Anna is in school and a bag of scrap fabric. I've had the fabric for over a year. It came from a project I did with Nicole right before her wedding. Nicole wanted to put fabric covers on the lids of jam jars she was giving away as favors after the wedding reception. After cutting out a zillion circles, I decided to keep the scraps because the pattern was so pretty.

Tonight I sewed together several scraps and made new handles for my bag. LOVE it! Not sure how long they'll last, but they'll do for now.

A Bit of Russian Superstition

Growing up in Russia, my family had quite a few superstitions:

1) don't cut your hair or nails on Sundays (the reason for this was that when Anna and I were little we got sick several times after our nails were cut on a Sunday...obviously this doesn't make a lot of sense)
2) don't put an even number of flowers in a vase (symbolizes death)
3) don't cross a street after a black cat ran across it without spitting 3 times (bad luck)
4) don't open an umbrella in the house (bad luck)
5) don't whistle in the house (if you do, your finances will suffer)
...and so on

After many years of following these superstitions, I've managed to rid myself of 1-4. I still don't whistle inside my apartment, partially because I just can't whistle.

However, there is one superstitious act that I continue to follow. Whenever I misplace something in my apartment and can't find it, I go to my kitchen, take out a glass or a cup and turn it upside down. Magically, within the next few minutes to an hour, I am able to find the missing object.

You might not believe me, but here are a few recent examples:

1) Last Wednesday night I was over at Jenn's house watching Project Runway. When it was time for her to drive me home, she could not find her car keys. She looked in her bag, on the couch, on the table: nothing. I decided to go and see if maybe she set the keys on a kitchen counter. While in the kitchen, I turned an empty glass upside down. The next minute, miracle of miracles, Jenn found her keys!

2) This past Sunday I had a few girls over for a potluck. Wendy was telling me how she misplaced the nail polish she had purchased a few weeks ago. I told her about the "turn the glass upside down" trick. I don't think she really believed me. Guess what? Just today she let me know that when she came home that same night, she followed my advice and found the missing nail polish!! It really works.

That's why I'm sharing this good superstitious act with you all.

Perhaps this works because you stop obsessing about finding that missing object. Would the same work when it comes to finding a boyfriend? I should totally turn a few cups over ;)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poop, Sh*t

Went to eat lunch outside with Laura. Found a nice little bench under a tree, in the shade. Ate, chatted, started reading our books. And then I heard/felt a "plop"....what was that!?

A bird pooped on me!!!! I wiped "it" off with a napkin soaked in some water. It was only a little poop. And I thought that surely a bird would not poop on the same person twice, right?

Wrong! A few minutes later: sh*t! Even a bigger "plop"...I had to take my shirt off and put on a cardigan. I'm amazed I did not gag right then and there.

Maybe it's good luck?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The last few days: Freebies, Hard Work, Etc.

Over the last few days I received two freebies: Jenny sent me a pair of brown sandals that I've always liked and she no longer wears, and Cindy gave me 3 canister of loose tea. Love the free stuff.

Yesterday I went over to Cindy's to help her peel off the wallpaper in her kitchen. People: if you ever entertain a thought of wallpapering your apartment/condo/house, do not! It was super difficult and frustrating to do, but somewhat rewarding when we saw at least some of the "naked" wall. The job is not nearly done, and, sadly, yesterday was the only time I had free to help out. The nice thing about doing manual labor is that your (my) brain wasn't preoccupied with thoughts about my increasing rent, decisions to be made about what to do as I'm approaching 30, planning a trip to Montreal, etc.

Today Jenn and I are going to Farrah Olivia for Restaurant Week: really looking forward to it.

And that's my update.

Say What???

Monday at Lucky Bar one of the guys that I've been dancing on and off for years called me over to meet his friend. In way of introduction, he pointed at me and said "This is the girl I am going to marry if she gives me a chance." Seriously? This is the same guy, who a few years ago asked me if anyone was "doing me hard."

Do I hear wedding bells? No way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A card for Jenny

Jenny is re-entering the working world after earning her MBA. I thought what a better way to welcome her back (no, she's not actually coming back to BLS), than with a hand-made card made from what else but office supplies?

The Weekend: Full Moon, Aching Body, & Craving

This past Saturday I completely "lost it" for about 15 minutes. I screamed so much that my throat hurt for a while. And then I cried. And then I popped in a Taebo video and worked out for 30 minutes.

I haven't done Taebo in years, but there was nothing left to eat in my refrigerator, so I thought burning a few calories would be a good thing. My body is aching all over today.

Yesterday I went to see Bottle Shock with Kamal and his gang. After the movie I was craving a burger and guacamole. Why? Because I'm super impressionable and one of the characters ate a burger in the movie. And guacamole. And KFC. But it was already late and I did not feel like eating a burger by myself, so I just went home and had brie with baguette and raspberries.

And then today for lunch I bought a burger, fries and a Diet Pepsi.

I also found out that Saturday was a full moon. Part of me wants to blame that on my "losing it" episode, but I know there are many other factors involved. And there is research out there saying that there is no effect of full moon on our mood, behavior, etc. But I'll still hang on to it just for a little bit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A New Obsession


I don't have cable, so I have never seen this show, but I've heard great things about it. Then Anna told me that has a bunch of TV shows you can watch for free. One of them is Nip/Tuck! I watched 4 last episodes of season 5 last night and am now starting from the beginning of season 5 and then eventually will go back and see the entire show!

I might never come out of my apartment again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I survived a baseball game

A few weeks ago Ashley asked if I would like to go to a baseball game. I was a bit hesitant:

1) the only other baseball game I attended a few years ago was a bore
2) I'm not a fan of baseball
3) I don't really get the rules
4) At that time I thought JR was going to take me to a game

But then JR disappeared, and Ashley reminded me that there will be men at the game, and plus it's a new stadium and they have food. I was sold!

Yesterday Ashley, Carrie and I went to the game. And you know what? It was actually fun. The stadium itself is absolutely gorgeous! The weather was perfect, the food (hotdogs and nachos) was pretty good, and I don't think we paid too much attention to the game at all. The Nationals did not score a single home run (is that the right term? score?), but I did not care.

Thanks for inviting me, Ashley!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Que Paso?

Happy things for today: Restaurant Week lunch at Rasika, Baseball game with Ashley & Carrie, orange-peachy roses on my desk, and positive thinking.

A bit of moving around

Last night I decided to re-arrange my furniture a bit (yes, mom, all by myself). I actually used to have my table by the window ages ago, but then moved it back to the "dining" area. It was too messy and dark to take pictures, so below are mini diagrams (not completely to scale) of the before and after.

I'm hoping having the table by the window will make it easier to take pictures of my food and also help me keep it less cluttered (yes, I can dream).

Before After

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hit on at Walgreen's?

This past Saturday Wendy and I were shopping at Walgreen's because they had rebates on some merchandise. We were minding our own business, when a 40+ y.o. guy started chatting us up.

He told us all about rebates on candy, cereal, school supplies, etc. He also thought I looked like someone who worked for Fox TV Channel...hmm, nope. We then chatted about the fact that I'm Russian, and both of his grandparents were Russian, blah blah blah.

He asked where Wendy's accent was from: uhm, Maryland :) and told us that if we ever were interested in going to museums, he goes quite often.

I guess the whole thing was amusing enough if either one of us were interested. But it just shows you: you never know where you might meet someone.

Like Jenn said, it's all about the numbers!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

African Violets in Bloom

A few days ago I noticed that two of the African violets that I've "raised" from two leaves (thanks, Anna) are blooming for the first time! Here are a few pictures below (note, they are in the same pot).

And here are pictures of a mature African violet for comparison.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I am NOT smarter than a 4th grader

A few days ago I decided to see if I could solve some GRE sample questions...just for kicks.
And you know what? I only got 60% of them. I seriously forgot how to use my brain. I had a hard time multiplying 62 by 2 (without a calculator) and kept on making stupid mistakes, not paying attention, and not knowing where to even start to approach some of the word problems.

And that's just math: something I thought I was good at. I did not even attempt the "language" part yet.

I feel like my brain cells have left the building in the last 7 years. It's very hard not to feel stupid and not to get discouraged. I'm now going through these free practice questions starting with reviewing measurements, then simple math, algebra, etc. Perhaps I just need to wake my brain up and then it will remember fractions, angles, and percentages.

But at least I'm not stupid when it comes to cooking: my Pizza with Plums, Gorgonzola, Red Onions & Pine nuts won CookThink Plum Root Source Challenge!!!

Hmmm...if only I could find someone who would tutor me in exchange for cooking lessons: that would be a winning combination!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Que Paso?

This is how I feel at this moment (Yellow refers to the color of my shirt)

created using Wordle

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Jewelry Update

Enough of the dentist "stuff"! I thought while I am waiting for the bread to bake I should post pictures of some of the jewelry projects I've worked on during and after my trip to Seattle! Hope you like them. Click on the images to see the details!

1) Free formed ring and a hand-wrapped necklace to match the bracelet I made earlier. A few notes: the ring was an accident: it was too big, so I first wrapped a few pieces of wire around it, and then bent some of the original wire and wrapped it with thinner wire, which holds little purple stones. The big green stone actually twirls!

The necklace was the first time I used the wrapping technique, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out! I think it might have been actually harder to take pictures of it than making it :)

2) The earrings below are made from Japanese coins I bought in a little antique store during my vacation with my family. The owner of the store actually punched holes in the coins, and all I did was put a silver earring hook through them. I have an extra matching coin to make a bracelet (The reason I bought these coins because they have orchids on them, and I LOVE orchids!) and several other coins that I might make into pendants.

Not "Adios" Yet...

I thought last week I was done with my root canal treatment. But I had to visit my specialist again today after work because he was trying to get to one little canal that he wasn't able to get before (yes, that's how technically savvy I am when it comes to my teeth). Unfortunately, he was still not able to get to that one little canal...if it starts to bother me, I'll have to have a surgery. Awesome!

Last time when I thought I was done, he told me "do svidaniya" ("good bye" in Russian), and I replied "Adios" (he's from Venezuella). Turns out, Adios, should only be used when you are not planning to see that person again; otherwise, you are supposed to say hasta luego.

I guess it's hasta luego, Uziel Blumenkranz because I'm supposed to return in 6 months for a check-up. In the meantime, I need to get two crowns.

And the fun continues....

Monday, August 4, 2008

A blind date like no other...

Some people think I'm fame crazy...perhaps a bit. After all I did apply to Washington Post's Chef on Call and was selected. A year ago I also applied to their Date Lab column (where they set up two strangers on a blind date, pay for dinner and then write about it)...and finally was selected!

The date was last night. Unfortunately it was not a love connection, but it also wasn't horrible. You'll have to wait for full details when the article comes out in a few weeks.

Before the date, Jenn and I went to get manicures and pedicures (Jenn only got a pedicure) at Color Touch Nail Salon Inc (560 23rd Street S, Arlington VA 22202, 703-302-5525: THANK YOU Wendy for recommendation!). The salon was clean and inexpensive, and the two ladies working there were absolutely nice!

I decided to go for a very light color and chose two names that seemed appropriate for the evening to follow: Opi Passion and Opi Got a Date To-Knight. Alas, the first one did not happen. (The colors in the picture look darker than they are in real life). But I do have pretty feet and hands now :)

Bethany Beach with Jenn

I decided to take this past Friday off. I just needed a break, and spending a week in Seattle did not really count as one. Plus, Anna left that Monday and I finally had my apartment to myself. I was looking forward to sleeping in, watching morning TV shows and doing nothing. But then Jenn suggested going to Bethany Beach for a few days. This was so last minute and unplanned, but what the hell? I said yes!

The toughest part was finding a hotel. Everything was pretty much sold out (I guess people plan their beach get-aways months in advance). But then I found a room at The Addy Sea Bed & Breakfast.

Omg, did you actually believe me? A room in this Bed & Breakfast would have been $400! Instead, we stayed at the Econo Lodge (and even that was $174/night). I have to be honest: I was quite terrified of staying in this motel (?), but was pleasantly surprised. The room was clean, they had great cable channels, and even free breakfast! We were only a few minutes from the outlet mall and 15 miles to Bethany Beach.

Jenn picked me up at 10:30 am on Friday and we set out on our trip. She brought snacks, I brought tapes (Abba, Cheyenne, Olga Tanon) and directions. Surprisingly, I did pretty well as a navigator.

Our room wasn't ready at 1:30 pm, so we decided to go to the beach. But first, we needed food! We had lunch at Mango's. It was so nice to be in an air-conditioned space. The view from the windows was breathtaking, but our waiter, Cory, was a bit on the slow side. Being near the water we both ordered seafood: Jenn had a crab cake sandwich and I had a seared yellow tuna sandwich: both pretty good.

And then we hit the beach! Lucky for me, it wasn't super hot, but I still applied plenty of sunblock: I don't get tan: I get burned! We walked in the water, and then I went back to my chair and Jenn went for a swim.

A couple of times it looked like it might rain, but the weather remained beautiful (at least on Friday).

The beach was not only populated by families, but also by these grasshoppers. They completely freaked me out. But all the nearby children had a blast putting them on their arms or taking their arms and legs off!

1st picture: my shadow (my arms are not short: I'm just holding my camera); 2nd picture: Jenn: happy as a fish in the water

I just love a shot of these houses and the sky. Can you just imagine having a vacation house there?
One thing that I like about having Jenn as a friend, is that she's always ready to eat (just like me). After checking into our hotel and changing (and watching Project Runway), we drove to a very busy Big Fish Grill. The place was packed, so we knew the food was going to be great. While waiting outside I overheard one of the men telling his friends about his wife's favorite dish: pecan crusted halibut with mashed potatoes. I decided that's exactly what I was going to order.
Margaritas ordered, smoked salmon dip tried, our food arrived! It was amazing. My pecan crusted halibut came with mashed potatoes and creamy spinach and it was absolutely delicious. Two people could have shared that one dish, but I was a trooper and finished the whole thing by myself :)

Jenn had linguine with a variety of seafood and white sauce. The food was amazing, the service was amazing; the only sad part: no room for dessert.

Decorations in the Big Fish Grill (The pictures of the food did not turn out too well because it was quite dark inside)

Next morning it thundered and rained. Jenn was disappointed because it looked like there would not be another day at the beach. I was slightly pleased because it meant we could go shopping! But first we had complimentary breakfast at the hotel: again, surprisingly good.

Two hours of shopping under our belts and some purchases made, the sun was out and we were hungry! We decided to stop at the Ed's Chicken & Crabs. It's this shack on the side of a street, but the food was great: Jenn and I shared their seafood "platter" with corn, coleslaw and an order of cheesy fries! I think I worked off about 10 calories by trying to get the crab out of its shell with the hammer :)

Right before hitting the beach, we stopped by and got icecream at Maureen's Ice Cream and Dessert Shop. Below is the children's sized scoop of icecream for $2.50! Best deal ever.

And then it was time for the beach.

By 7 pm people started leaving and we decided it was time to head home. What a great weekend!

Thanks, Jenn for inviting me! Great times!!!!

P.S. if you need someone to kill a fly, Jenn is your girl!