Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It's a hot mess right now but it's gonna be a bunny. 
Trust me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fried Okra

This is one of my recipes that I LOVED from childhood.  It was always one of my favorite things my Mom made in the summer and she and I were always the only ones in the family who liked it.  More for us!  Lucky for me, my husband loves fried okra too so I have someone to get excited about having it a couple of times each summer. 

I'm never a fan of fried okra from restaurants and definitely NOT the frozen kind.  They use cornmeal which is heavier and thicker.  My Mom always made it with flour which is much lighter and crispier.

A note: if you buy fresh okra, the best place to do it is from your local farmer's market.  You can get it from the grocery store but usually only in the summer months.  Once you buy it, use it within the first day or two.  There is nothing worse than slimy okra. 

You'll Need:
fresh okra (about a pound will serve four people)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt pepper
1 cup flour
1 egg, whisked

What you do:
Chop the okra into small bites.  The smaller they are, the crispier they'll get.  I like to put mine directly in the ziplock bag I'll toss them in to save dishes.

Season generously with salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg.

Add the okra to the bowl with the egg and coat.  In the ziplock bag, pour in the flour. 
Add the okra to the bag with the flour, seal up and shake until all of the okra is coated in flour.

Heat oil in the pan.  Add the okra and crisp and brown.  Drain the oil after cooking on paper towels.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

The Postmistress

I've had quite a few of you mention how much you liked Sarah's Key that I blogged about here.  So here's another read I'd recommend.

I've always been fascinated with WWII and the Holocaust and so I continued my reading this summer with The Postmistress, another story set in that era. 

I wouldn't say that this book was as good as Sarah's Key, but it was interesting and good in its own way.  Good, not great.  And if you are looking for an uplifting story - this probably isn't it.  My favorite thing about it was how it wove in people's seemingly separate lives into the same story and how they all came together at the end.

My synopsis would be too confusing so I'll offer you the write up from Amazon:

In 1940, the lives of three women could not be more different as war rages in Europe. Iris James, postmistress of Franklin, Massachusetts, believes in order and details. She takes great pride in her work. All communications in the town come through her. The whole system works because of the neat efficient system and the trust. She keeps all the secrets of the residents, but one day, she breaks with everything she has ever believed, slipping a letter into her pocket. Emma Trask, wife of the town's doctor Will Fitch, listens to all the radio broadcasts from London with her husband. When a tragedy provokes a change in her husband and a determination to go over to Europe, Emma guards herself against the tides of war raging across a distant ocean. In London, Frankie Bard, works with Edward R. Murrow. Frankie listens to Murrow's story advice, yet her spirit chafes against the all the strictures and protocol imposed on her. Feisty, fearless and somewhat brash, she wants to get out the truth and stir her listeners to action. In 1941, Frankie rides the trains out of Germany, reporting on the war, listening to the voices of the so-called refugees. As she sees the war unfolding from a different perspective, her whole idea about the story itself changes.
In THE POSTMISTRESS, Sarah Blake looks at World War II through the eyes of three distinct women all connected through means of private and public media. In many ways, THE POSTMISTRESS itself follows Frankie's conception of a news story as story and herein lies the beauty of the novel. Sarah Blake's novel does not follow the traditional concepts of a novel. THE POSTMISTRESS tells the story of World War II through the edges, in the lives of the three women and the events of their lives, often events that even seem unrelated to the larger scene playing out in the world. Indeed, the emotional impact of the story builds as Frankie stops trying to tell the truth of the war and listens to the voices of those around her. The "truth" of the war often emerges in the edges, in those stories told and unspoken by the press and even the characters to some extent. Although Sarah Blake draws on the history and historical figures of the times, THE POSTMISTRESS is not a historical novel filled with date and details from the history books. The reader will not find all the horrific details of the Holocaust or the London Blitz and yet, in telling the story through the edges of war scene, THE POSTMISTRESS allows the reader's imagination to enter the story. With the copious amount of World War II history and fiction published, readers undoubtedly are more than familiar with the main story of the War, and yet, THE POSTMISTRESS brings a freshness to the story. For this reader, THE POSTMISTRESS, is one of the first to tell the story of the trains from a viewpoint that truly engages imagination and emotion in both the details of individuals, sometimes even the characters for whom only a name and place is known, who might have experienced the events. Like Frankie's approach to the story, less is sometimes more. Equally, the conflicts and struggles of Emma Fitch and Iris James bring a whole other emotional dimension and texture to the story.

THE POSTMISTRESS is a wonderful blend of popular women's fiction and literary fiction. The novel gains more emotional power and intellectual interest as it progresses. The first part reads more like light women's fiction as the author introduces the three women whose lives will touch one another's. Frankie's development, however, guides the heart of the story, developing the lens through which the richness of the other characters emerges. The beginning of the story actually gains more relevance and emotional depth in hindsight, as Frankie's less traditional concept of a news story begins to cast the novel itself within a different framework. THE POSTMISTRESS is a story of women's lives, of life, death and love during WWII, and by end, a story about the art of storytelling itself.
If any of you read it, I'd be interested to know your thoughts!

Monday, June 28, 2010

All Aboard!

This weekend we celebrated my husband's 30th birthday...a few days early.  His birthday falls over the 4th of July holiday and so generally a lot of people are out of town.  I planned ahead this year for the big 3-0. 

We chartered a boat called the Harboritaville and set sail around the Potomac to look at the monuments and eat, drink and be merry!  I cannot recommend the idea enough and the company, Capitol Yacht Charters, were fabulous to work with!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A new kind of hide.

Cowhide that is.  Saw these over on MFAMB today and oh my God!!  In love.  Going to have to wait for a price decrease methinks...

In silver and gold but gold is the clear winner.

Sold here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bright as the sun...

I wanna have some fun.  Come and give me some of that yum yum chocolate chip...can I get a scoop?  Okay, I'll stop.  I hope you have that song stuck in your head for as long as I have since I heard it almost a week ago.

So, it is got up to 99 degrees this week.  They think this is the hottest June on record.  What up, el Nino?  Anyway, when I finally got out of loooooong my meeting today (literally, locked in a room for over 9 hours today so it is no wonder I'm punchy and singing Shoop in my head), I looked up and saw the bright, shiny sun and it made me think of the color yellow.

Generally, I'm not a huge fan of yellow in design (and definitely not a fan of what I look like when I wear it) but I do consider it to be a happy color.  I also think it can be really effective when used in moderation.

from Better Homes and Gardens

from Kate Spade

Looks awesome with a zebra rug!

Beachy and whimsical yellow.  Love how it looks with the green from the plants and nature inspired decor.
Yellow and black are a natural pairing!  Not something I would chose for my own personal house but I totally get why some people like it.
from the Bella Life

from White and Wander

from Manolo Home

Lovely painted floor seen on Kathy Peterson.  Love it in yellow but can think of a ton of colors that this would work in.  This would especially be cool if you had a less than perfect hardwood floor that you wanted to cover up. 

My new favorite show

Finished day 1 of my big meeting week.  One day down, three days to go.  Woohoo!   Turkey tacos and low key dinner for us tonight.  While the meat simmered, I settled onto the couch and we started watching TLC's show Inedible to Incredible with Chef John Besh.  I've never heard of this guy but oh my gosh, this show is hilarious.  I don't know how he can keep a straight face. 

Here's the premise:

A seemingly normal person thinks they are a great cook.  They torture their family and friends with dishes they concoct and finally somebody can't take it anymore and they call in Chef Besh for an intervention.  First, he has them cook their specialty dishes and he tastes them (ew).  Then he explains what is gross about the food.  Then he teaches them how to cook something similar (but normal).  After each dish that he teaches them to make, they have to taste their old dish.  Then they have to recreate the new dishes and the taste test goes to their friends and family. 

Here's an example from the episode I saw today:

Deven's dish specialties:
cornflake and strawberry (overcooked) burgers
adult baby food finished off with frozen meat balls and cheese
turtle steak with fig newtons (it isn't turtle meat but instead some kind of charred mystery meat in the shape of a turtle)

Chef Besh teaches her to make:
burger sliders three ways (pork, chicken and beef)
green salad with vinagrette
grilled skirt steak with a fig glaze

Some of my favorite quotes from this episode (these are all from the lady learning to cook):

[referencing the adult baby food]: These vegetables can cook for hours.  They don't burn.

[referencing how long she cooks the turtle steak]: I cook it until the smoke clears.

I never knew you should taste things as you go along.  Don't throw crap into a pot and have people taste it for the first time when you serve it.

[after learning how to make a normal burger on a grill, not in a pile of grease]: At least I won't burn the crap out of it.  It's good to know when meat is done.

I have made love to every piece of this meat. 

I'm actually embarassed that I have fed you any of my slop.

Um, Devon, yeah you are.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


So my friend Mary Neal calls me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she's taking a job up in the DC area.  (That's a double first name for all you Southerners...)  I knew Mary Neal from living in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area back in the day.  She going to keep her place in Va Beach but stay up here two weeks at a time.  I'm super excited about this for several reasons:

1. She's just a cool person and I'll take any friend of mine moving closer by!
2. She's literally moving close by - right around the corner in Old Town.  Score one for Alexandria!
3. She's got two adorable basset hounds - more friends for the pup.
4.  And this is the clencher...she is working for a company who manufacturers fabrics to the trade (if ya'll know anyone who needs help, give me a shout!) AND she is going to have my girlfriends over when she gets settled for a sip and see for fabrics if you will.  And possibly give us a discount.  Um, yeah.  Glad I waited on slipcovering my couch. 
5. If Mary Neal does well enough in this territory, maybe I can convince her to hire me part time!  :)

After hearing this exciting news, I checked out her company's website - - Architex.  They've got more fabrics than I've seen in my life.  A lot of them are definitely more for what you'd see in say a company waiting room or a hotel lobby but there is so much to choose from it is insane. 

Here is a sampling of some of my personal faves - keep in mind, this is only a chip off the iceburg!
My love of animal prints is obvious but there was something really different about this one.  I love how it almost looks like the light is reflecting off of the crocs' back.  If only this was wallpaper...I'd put it in my guest bathroom.  No kidding. 

Upholstery for my beach house couch...

Accent pillow in my [pretend] beach house.  On my clean, crisp couch with the fabric from the swatch above.

No really, this is fabric.  It is called Wood Grain - duh.  But doesn't it look just like the real thing?

Hello other accent pillow in my beach house on my couch.  Are you feeling like you want to come visit yet?

This one is called Nurse Shark and doesn't it just look like one?  I love the color and texture.  This would be awesome in a bedroom.

Love the texture of this one.

Tuesday Tip: Cut an Onion without Crying!

I confess that I haven't tried these tricks yet but I read them recently and plan to try it soon.  Let me know if you try it first and it works (or doesn't)!  I'm going to let my husband know if they do because he hates cutting onions.  Now, if I could only get him to like the flavor of them...

How to Cut an Onion without Tearing Up

Light a match and blow it out. Put the non burnt end between your teeth while you cut your onion. The sulfer will absorb the fumes.
Another idea that I read for the same remedy was to cut the onions by running water.  Not sure how that helps but seems a little easier and safer than putting a hot match in your mouth.
Lastly, I read that you can avoid tears by freezing your onion for 10-15 minutes before you cut into it. 
Image from Ladyfi.files.wordpress

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gone Fishin'

My husband had his dream weekend last weekend with all the fishing he got to do.  But the pup and I managed to have a great time right along with him!  Liz and her friend Trevor were sweet enough to take us out on Trevor's boat.  It was a hot day but the water temperature was just perfect.  We left our pup at home but Liz's dog Davis had a ball! 

Um, yes, you read that right.  Trevor's boat is called the Koch O'Mocean.  I think it used to belong to U2's road manager.  But still...

Hubby and I also sought out a little fishing spot on the Potomac.  Didn't have much luck but Chase and I had a ball sitting in the shade knitting and watching all of the people go by! 

Have you ever seen a pup so adorable?!
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