Thursday, April 30, 2009

Must be no fun being Gibbs today

When Biden screws up with some sort of verbal gaffe (which happens more than one would like)  you gotta have a little sympathy for Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary. As soon as Biden said that he would not recommend taking any commercial flight or riding in a subway car "at this point" because the swine flu virus can spread "in confined places" the press went ballistic. Rightly so. Come on, Biden. Did you really need to alarm Americans and potentially scare people from using mass transit or the airlines? 

Poor Gibbs. Just watch the video and notice how the White House press corps laughs at his response.

(Via Politico)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If ever there was a sushi comeback

It would be awarded to Dupont's Sushi Taro. Were they handpicked for an extreme makeover "restaurant edition"? I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in two nights ago. The place is transformed! The menu is completely different - no more rolls, just nigiri, appetizers, sushi and sashimi. Far fewer menu choices but it's all for the better.

The fish was the freshest I've had in the city with respect to sushi restaurants. The soba noodles left me silent. The service was superb. And the decor - modern but accessible. I wanted to stay for hours, except I looked at the prices and thought better of it.

Yes, it's pricey, but it's worth it. Plan ahead. Save up. Go. You must.

We had tuna, eel, Japanese snapper and soba - plenty. Washed it down with a glass of Albarino and I walked out feeling refreshed and satisfied.

Of course, I couldn't help but get some Yogato afterwards, but who can blame me? :)

A peek inside the White House

Thanks to an old colleague passing along the White House's Flickr photostream I'm officially obsessed with any and all pictures of Obama, his family and Cabinet. These photos feel candid, taken on the fly and agenda-less. After looking through a few, it feels like your friend had access to the President, by nature of the kinds of shots they've shared and even the intimacy that we're privy to.

Another small, but important sign of an open, transparent and welcoming Oval Office. Kudos to the President.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More color for your wardrobe

I'm fairly monochromatic in dress but that doesn't mean that I don't love bold colors on others, like this young woman. I totally dig the rich color combo she's sporting. I've always had a soft spot for washed jeans....they're "good ugly," if you know what I mean.

(Via Wear Palettes)

For a good laugh

My fiance and I stumbled across this video, David After Dentist, on YouTube last weekend and literally cried laughing. We may be the last people to the party - since it has more than 19 million views - but nevertheless, it's one for the books. This kid is so damn funny.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lesley made me do it :)

As soon as Lesley told me yesterday that she and her hubbie woke up and made cinnamon buns I've been completely unable to get them out of my mind. That ooey, icing goodness, topped with just the right amount of cinnamon. Yummmmmmmmmmmm....... And homemade?! What could be better on a lazy Sunday morning?

Smitten Kitchen has come to the rescue yet again (FYI: I made that gratin recipe the other night and it was outstanding (and easy)!).

Check out her post about Molly Wizenberg's cinnamon bun recipe. And made them. Soon. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

What did I do today

Today I woke up and nuzzled with my fiance
Made it to the pool in time for a quick swim
The water was hot at one end, cold in the middle and lukewarm at the other
I have no idea why
I wondered if someone peed at one spot and not another...

One of the girls getting dressed in the locker room next to me held an in depth conversation with herself
This puzzled me
She seemed like she just wanted attention
I wasn't in the mood to give it

Why are women so awkward about getting changed in front of one another?
It's nothing you haven't seen before

I made it to court on time for jury duty
We heard the attorneys' closing arguments
Man, those two were thorough
I could never be a lawyer
I'm not organized enough
I'm not methodical or maybe, even smart enough
But the law now fascinates me

I've always been obsessed with what's 'fair'
Why didn't I contemplate law school?
Oh, that's right. I just said that I didn't think I was qualified
Maybe I need to work on this self-doubt

(Image via DCist)

It's all interconnected

While perusing auto's new selection of gifts and clothing, I came across these beautiful soaps. Guess who made them?! Saipua! The Brooklyn-based flower and soap shop that I often cross-post from! The lavender oatmeal and grapefruit soaps sound divine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A slower-paced life

I'm on jury duty much of this week. I don't have to be there at the crack dawn and I'm dismissed at 5pm every day. I usually leave work between 6-6:30pm - nothing unbearable, but man, now that I've seen what life is like with an extra hour or so of daylight I can imagine how easy it would be to never go back to the 'old life.'

I like working hard and I don't mind long hours on the job, especially when I feel passionate about what I'm doing. What I don't like is feeling like I must stay until a certain hour when I've been productive and my work is done before that time, especially when I've arrived early in the morning, long before most, to get a good start on the day. But, alas, these are the ways of the working world in Washington, and I'm sure, in other big cities. You can't have it all.

Just look at Marilyn here. A leisurely morning never looked so good did it?

(Via the impossible cool)

Robert Redford

He may be far too old for me, but the man is as classically handsome as they come. Just look at him. A peacoat never looked sexier.

(Via L'ecume des jours)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never going to happen, but it's ok to dream, right?

Let's not think about the price associated with this amazing lavender Marchesa gown on Diane Kruger. Instead, let's concentrate on just how stunning it is....and for a moment, I'd like to dream of what I might look like in it...even if I could just try it on for two minutes. That's all I want. Two minutes.


Can we get a little Paris in here?

I saw these bistro tables and immediately thought of my friends, Sam and Roni. The two of them are the cutest pair of roommates in the city (yes, I'm biased; forgive me!). They both adore cooking, traveling and meeting new people. I had a vision of Sam in a black beret and sailor-striped top, sitting next to Roni, who would be donning this white dress with pockets, sipping either red wine or cafe au laits (depending on their mood or time of day) at one of these cool Paris, of course :)

(Via Abbey Goes Design Scouting)

He's listening

I was so moved by yesterday's New York Times' piece "Picking Letters, 10 a Day, That Reach Obama." In an age in which people rarely send letters and have forgotten the art and joy of a long phone call with a dear friend, the idea that our President gets a glimpse of what the American public has to say each day - even if it's only a sliver of the tens of thousands of letters, emails and faxes he receives every morning - warms my heart and gives me hope.

I'm hopeful that in spite of the inevitable bubble that surrounds him in DC, letters from people like you and me will remind him of the struggles regular people face, along with our aspirations for his historic presidency.

We may wake up to tough economic news and rising unemployment rates. We may wonder if the tide will ever turn. For District residents like myself, we may stroll by the White House and question how his new home and life has changed him - for the better or the worse? These are all sound and important questions. I don't have the answers to them, but I take comfort in knowing that he is listening.

So, keep writing.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Barack + BO

I know, I know, this is totally cheesy, but I couldn't resist. This is all my sister, Sara, is capable of talking of these days. That dog is pretty damn cute after all. 

The idea of Richard Nixon frolicking on a beach with his dog just makes me feel uncomfortable. 

(Via WWD)

What to make?

Easiest recipe on Earth. 

(Don't you love making dramatic statements like that? I sure do.)

Since DC's weather can't get a hold of itself and figure out whether it's spring or not, potato gratin still seems like a sound choice for dinner one night this week.

Smitten Kitchen's four ingredient recipe is as simple as it gets. Can't wait to make this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Without retouching

As I've written about before, retouching is just a fact of life when it comes to the fashion industry. Most magazines, if not all, featuring models or celebrities on their covers, brush up these already beautiful women. Some do to such an extent women don't even resemble their natural selves. Just look at Madonna here. I look at these women and know they're not 'real' but just how NOT REAL are they? Tough to say.

Thanks to French ELLE for featuring Eva Herzigova, Monica Belluci and Sophie Marceau (all pictured above) without any makeup or retouching. 

They look lovely don't they?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh Gwyneth. Sometimes you really get it right.

Gwyneth Paltrow was my fashion idol growing up. No one was more impeccably and effortlessly beautiful than she to me. I loved every single thing she put on. I wanted her long, gorgeous, blond locks. As a 16 year old in the midst of a rough puberty, I wished I had the effect she seemed to have on young men. Having Brad Pitt on your arm doesn't hurt either :) Of course, the world is only made up of a few Gwyneths. I've grown up and since learned to better appreciate aspects of myself that go beyond the surface. (That doesn't mean that I still wouldn't love her hair :))

While Gwyneth seems to have gotten a little wrapped up in being "sexiest Mom of all time" as of late (just check out some of these new looks of hers'), I have a total soft spot for the gal. I mean, don't you just love her in this trench and her braided hair?


A book isn't just a book, it's art

I dig cool book covers. Just like awesome album art, I'm sometimes tempted to buy a book just because I love the cover. No, I've never actually done that, but after talking to my colleague, Joel, yesterday, he may have convinced me otherwise. He actually has bought books based on their look. And why not? It would be great to have a professional pull off the cover and frame a few. I think they'd look great against the brick wall in our dining room.

Thanks to Joel, I'm now completely obsessed with the site The Book Cover Archive. These are a few from the Archive that I really love.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Zipcar has the best customer service

Remember my harried post the other day where I described how rushed I felt on Monday morning? Not to mention that a garbage truck parked in my Zipcar spot, potentially preventing me from parking it in time so that I wouldn't be charged a $50 late fee. 

Well, an incredible thing happened to me today because of that post and because of how much Zipcar cares about its customers.

I got an email from a customer service rep at Zipcar DC that explained the following:

Dear Erin,

I saw your blog post the other day where you mentioned Zipcar! That is awesome. Just to clarify, if the Zipcar spot is taken by a non-Zipcar (like a garbage truck) give us a call and let us know. This way your account won't be charged a late fee and if you need to park the Zipcar in a different spot, then we can contact the next member. Let me know if you have any thoughts.


Laura Eve Kobroff (Zipcar DC)

Now, I can't remember the last time I had customer service of this caliber. Can you?? Regardless, my impression of the company - while consistently positive - just shot up to an entirely new level. In the last hour, I've told half of my colleagues and posted to Facebook about this wonderful email from Laura.

I hope more companies realize the power of personal communications such as these with the people who use their products and services. Excellence in this area are the deciding factor between a good company and a great one.

PS: Thanks Laura!!

A.A. Gill

I picked up A.A. Gill's book A.A. Gill is away. A restaurant and TV critic for the Sunday Times, Gill is also well known for his travel writing and his blunt critique of all that he encounters. He really pissed me off back in the summer of 2006 with a scathing review of Albania, my dear friend Erjona's home country. Just read for yourself and I think you'll immediately understand why.

Like many great writers and artists, they say and do things we take issue with. What's indisputable is that Gill is a superb writer. He's known for 'interviewing places' in a way that on one else does.

So there I was last night, curled up on my couch with a collection of Gill's essays hanging on his every word.

In explaining how he captures the places he visits he retold a story about his first trip to the Milan fashion shows that caused me to pause and reflect about things much larger than the tale itself. I wanted to share it here.

"Every story has a key, an image that unlocks everything else. On the page it may not be obvious to the reader but for me it's a fixed point around which the story grows. I was walking with Nicola through the monumental Victor Emanuel shopping terminus [in Milan]. We were between shows, thinking about lunch and I suddenly stopped. I know I'd just seen something that was important. Turning around there was a woman. Incredibly elegantly and expensively dressed, perfectly accessorized. She was in a wheelchair. Thin useless legs in beautiful high-heeled shoes trying to negotiate the stop up to the Prada shop. Through the window I could see the shop assistants watching her. They didn't move. Their faces were bored masks. And I knew that the story would grow around that moment."

- A.A. Gill, The Thin Line, October 1995

Monday, April 13, 2009

Deja vu

After a semester in Dublin, Ireland I was hooked on the French band, Phoenix, following their 2000 hits off of the album, United. They've got a new album out called Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which includes this awesome dance track called Lisztomania.

Someone spliced together scenes from famous 80's movies and played Lisztomania over them. Watch the video and you'll want to get up and dance.

(Via Oh?)

A few last things for spring

Although the warmer weather can't seem to stick in DC, the hot, steamy swamp heat of the District will be here before we know it. And then we'll all be complaining. Happens every year without fail.

But since 60 degrees can't come home to stay, why not a few of these lovely Viriginia Johnson scarves to get us through the next few weeks?

(Via Fashion is Spinach)

Bring back fresh

I got home from the Nationals opening game tonight feeling rather gross from the crap I had consumed. I really don't know how any self-respecting healthy eater can live by their mantra to eat well when it comes to stadium food. If you know a way, I'm all ears. I enjoy a good hot dog and a few beers, but every now and then I think, "Seriously? We couldn't do grilled fish?" If they can grill hotdogs, why not fish? Is that crazy of me to ask?

Then, of course, I took a walk down memory lane and remembered the best fish of my life. Shokder, Albania. 2006. I'm sitting at a lakeside restaurant in the hometown of my best friend, Erjona, following the advice of her father by ordering the local fish. I don't remember the name of the fish but what I do remember is watching a man jump in his boat, throw out a line, wait a few minutes and slowy draw up a few scaly ones.

An hour later (good things take time), the fish was in front of me, my mouth was watering and everything around me melted away. Nothing had ever tasted so fresh and so flavorful in all of my 24 years.

And here I am today, still talking about it, still wishing that fish was sitting in front of me right now.

Maybe that's my next job? I'll start a business grilling fresh fish at the Nationals stadium! Roni, are you in??

Our lives are so different

Speaking of rush hour, I took this picture in Bulungula, South Africa during lunch break for these gentleman. My friend, Stephanie, and I walked up and sat down with them to eat our packed lunches over this spectacular view of the Indian Ocean.

Not exactly what my current lunch hour looks or feels like.

I'm glad that other parts of the world, especially those who have 'so little' still have 'so much'....things like breathtaking, crisp, clear oceanic views after a hard day's work. Those things are priceless. You can't measure their impact on your mood, your outlook or your happiness. Unless you've had them taken away from you, and then you know.

Rush hour

This morning I walked to 14th and Irving to catch the new Circulator that only makes two stops (U and P Streets) before dropping you at K Street - cutting my normal bus commute in half. The bus, unfortunately, swung around the corner of Irving and headed south on 14th as I was about 200 feet from the stop. "Oh well. I'll take the Metro," I thought.

I swiped my SmarTrip, bounded down the stairs and stopped on the platform to peer up at the train schedule. Except that there was no train schedule. Metro wasn't listing the times for the next oncoming trains. Ugh. Now I have NO idea when the next train is coming.

I had already had a packed morning. I got up around 6am, drove to the Takoma pool for a healthy swim. Made it back to my ZipCar slot with 4 minutes to spare only to find a garbage truck blocking my space. "Shit. Now ZipCar is going to charge me $50 if I'm late!" I panicked.

The garbage truck pulled out just in time for me to park the car. Phew!

I rushed through the front door of our home, folded laundry, took a shower, checked email and wrote several of my colleagues about a few urgent things....thus, I was running a bit late.

But then I stopped and caught myself in the midst of this rush, rush, rush.


There was no schedule in Odibo. Sure, we had a time table of classes at school. Did they take place on time? Rarely. Did it drive me crazy? Yes. Absolutely.

We had school assemblies that lasted two hours and cut out 2-3 classes at a time because the Principal was lecturing the student body about one thing or the other. Kids missed critical class time. I railed against the tardy assemblies and my complaints fell on deaf ears. Time just isn't valued or thought of in exactly the same way as it is here.

When I went into town to buy groceries people cut in line and I found myself three feet back from where I began. No matter how much it would be have been acceptable for me to do the same to others, I just couldn't. I believe in order. I believe in lines. I should have given up and given in.

If it was pay day, forget getting your check cashed. Every other employed person in the area was lined up at the bank. Those days really tested my patience. I didn't have a shot in hell of making it to the front of the line. Standing in the hot, 100 degree heat parched, pissy, I dreamed of American efficiency.

The problem is that the same American efficiency that I missed then, I sometimes find to be our collective downfall now.

Go with the flow? Um, not really. When was the last time you were chill about being late to work or late to an event because public transport failed you or traffic was terrible? When was the last time you called a plumber or electrician or handy man to come to your place to fix something and he/she didn't show or arrived hours late? Were you irritated? I have been.

My point? Large swaths of the world live with those sorts of delays, mishaps, failures of infrastructure and efficiencies on a daily basis. Our lives in the U.S. largely run according to plan. Our trains, cars, elevators, microwaves and electricity work. And when they fail us, we are quick to fix them.

Imagine if it took Metro two weeks to fix a problem with the red line, causing major delays in both directions during that period? How would we react to such news?

Imagine that the pipes that brought water into your village stopped working for two weeks and there was only one tap that provided a slow drip to 500 people. What would we do?

So, yes, I'm indirectly lecturing. We, including myself, need to remember that life cannot always go according to plan. You can prepare as much as possible, but shit really does happen. How you handle the bumps along the way, the long waits, the silences and the reality you, or I, didn't want says a lot about us as a people.

I'm pledging to work on my attitude in this respect. It won't be easy, but it may, in the long run, put me at greater ease when things don't go according to plan.

(Image via Adam Cohn)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Starting from scratch

It's time to sell a few odds and ends on Craigslist this weekend. Out with the old, in with the new.

What do you think of the furniture this couple used to organize their dinnerware? Don't you love the tile in the kitchen? I think it's fantastic!

(Via pia jane bijkerk)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Give me sunshine. Give me heat.

Why these photos? Because she's beautiful. Because it looks warm. Because it feels romantic. Because it feels private.

Because it's almost the weekend :)

(Via Captivate Me)

Getting beyond first impressions

Why do I like Foster Huntington's blog? Because he explores the why's and how's. He looks beneath the surface to uncover something beyond what's been presented at face value.

He has a great post about the lobster culture in Maine, where he goes to college. And, of course, really crisp pictures that tell the story of the meal and the people behind it. Cool stuff.

(Via A Restless Transplant)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Get away

These photos remind me of those I've seen of my parents when they were my age. My Dad in Scotland. My Mom, newly married, with an unmatched look of joy on her face.

(Via Sharon Tingley)

You gotta have girlfriends

This hasn't been one of my favorite weeks thus far, but out of personal and professional challenges comes new realities, remarkable revelations and one very important reminder - cherish your girlfriends.

I am lucky to have such compassionate women by my side, both as neighbors and as long-distance pals despite miles between us. They are women who love me just as I am, not as they wish me to be. They are women who want to empower me, lift me up and remind me of my positive qualities and dwell little on the flaws.

Thank you, ladies, for being my friends, confidantes and role models. I'm lucky to be a part of your lives.

(Via Le Love)