A visit from the Queen

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

YOU GUYS.

The greatest thing happened to me today. Literally the greatest thing. Okay, well, maybe the greatest culinary thing.

I ate food for the very first time from a food truck! And not just any food truck... The Gypsy Queen!
All I can say is that it literally was one of the most wonderful experiences my tastebuds and I have ever had.

So many people have recommended Gypsy Queen and when I walked up the main hospital steps this morning and saw the big gorgeous green and purple truck, I flipped out. I was so overly excited I danced up and down the halls of my department telling everyone in all the other labs. It was like Christmas morning for me and honestly, I don't know if it was because I had heard the food was so good, or the fact that I was finally getting to visit a food truck, or that there was another food truck selling cupcakes right next to it. But I couldn't contain myself! Even though I brought my own lunch, there was no way I was going to stick to my mediocre Mexican chicken leftovers when the QUEEN was parked in front of our building!

There was a bit of a line when we went outside for lunch but it surprisingly moved pretty quickly. They were actually really efficient at taking and completing orders despite the large crowd.

My friend and co-worker, Ruth, recommended the Curried Basil Falafel and HO. LY. CRAP. It was delicious! The sauce was seriously the best part. I could have eaten twenty of them. They also have this super cool dish (and it seems to be their most popular, too) called the Crab Cone. It is literally a crab cake, topped with some kind of delicious sauce, sitting on top of a bed of crispy Old Bay fries all packaged neatly inside a giant waffle cone... aka HEAVEN.

They stop at locations all around the city of Baltimore on different days of the week, so if you're ever in the area, I totally recommend giving them a try!

Oh and I also realized that these guys were on my food passport! What a great place to start!

Food Passport Stop #18 - The Gypsy Queen (food truck) - CHECK!

Pre-Halloween Pub Crawls and other weekend fun

Monday, October 28, 2013

This weekend was a busy one, but it was packed full of all kinds of fun. I must say that our plans mostly involved copious amounts of alcohol which probably significantly enhanced the fun factor, but regardless, good times were had with lots of good friends and that's all that matters in the end. Halloween and St. Patrick's Day are probably the only two times during the year that we do stuff like this anyway, so thankfully, my liver should get a nice break until March.

On Friday, we met a couple of our friends at a new restaurant (well, new to us - it was our first time there) called Sunset Cove. Although this is typically a place you would enjoy mostly in the summer (it's located in a marina and it has tons of outdoor seating and even it's own beach area), we still had a lot of fun! The food, the music, the drinks, and of course, the company were incredible! Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures at the restaurant, but I'm hoping to go back when the weather is a bit warmer, so hopefully then I'll take some.

After dinner - and about 20 orange crushes - we all hopped back in the car and drove around looking for dumb stuff to do. (Don't worry, we had a designated driver!) And dumb stuff we did. I'm not going to share all of the details but I will definitely say, the alcohol had a lot to do with where we went and what we did that night. Ha!
This is a picture of our friend Mike with egg all over his crotch. Yes. It happened. 

We headed back to our friend's house, popped open some homemade apple pie moonshine, and goofed off for the rest of the night. I don't know how it got started, but I ended up teaching the girls this cup thing that I learned back in girl scouts. It's the same one that Anna Kendrick does in her song "Cups (When I'm Gone)" in Pitch Perfect. Ours, of course, didn't involve any singing, and was much less coordinated as a result of said orange crushes and moonshine.

video

The next morning, Mike and I pretty much just relaxed at my parents' house since we had been house sitting for them all week. We did a couple of quick errands and then started getting ready to head down to Fells Point for the Halloween Pub Crawl. We actually got 3-day passes that we can use for Halloween and next Saturday, but I'm not sure we'll be up for going back that many times in a week.

This year, Mike decided he was going to dress up as Forrest Gump and I went as Waldo. Not couples costumes in the least but we still had a lot of fun putting them together.

Apparently we forgot to get just a photo of Mike and I together, so sorry for the fuzziness. I had to crop it to get in close.

The whole day was a total blast. We ate lots of good food, got lots of great drink specials, listened to some pretty awesome live music, saw a ton of super cool costumes, and danced the night away.

Unfortunately, literally every single one of our phones died within a few hours so we have very few pictures. The ones we do have are pretty blurry or dark, so once again, sorry for the quality.

These two were a crab and Old Bay. Probably one of my favorites of the night.

Flo and Mayhem

I'm Ron Burgundy?

Sunday was spent laying around the house watching football and playing with Carlisle. My parents' dogs are too big to play with him (they are both 90 pound labs that think everything that moves is a chew toy) so we had to crate them while we let him roam around the first floor. It was hilarious to watch him try to play with them through the crates. He kept trying to catch their tails and they kept trying to lick him every time he got close.


He found a nice little perch on top of their crates and the three of them became the best of friends once they all calmed down. It was the most adorable thing ever.

How was your weekend? Did you dress up for any Halloween festivities? Feel free to share!

Pandas on a Friday

Friday, October 25, 2013

So, I'm not sure how this happened but somehow the post I had written for today mysteriously got deleted. I am hoping that it's just some strange blogger glitch and the post will magically reappear later on today. But until then, I have nothing.

And on days when I have nothing to share, I resort to the wonderful world of Youtube. And since I'm having a particularly crappy morning, I thought a dose of cuteness might be in order.

Therefore... I give you... Pandas! Happy Friday! :)

Roasted Fall Vegetable Pizza

Thursday, October 24, 2013

For the longest time, I've wanted to make my own pizza. There is just something that seems so fun about it. I remember as a kid in school, I would get so excited when I'd open my lunchbox to find that my mom had packed pizza Lunchables. I felt like a chef designing the perfect pizza creation. I made sure each little dough round had the just the right amount of sauce, carefully spreading it with the tiny plastic spoon. And I had the toppings down to a science; only I could ensure that each pizza had the perfect cheese to pepperoni ratio. Serious business I tell you. Now of course, I find them absolutely disgusting, but I guess it was more about the assembly for me than the taste.  

Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of mouth-watering pizza recipes and I've been dying to give the real thing a try. So, when I came across this recipe the other night (courtesy of the fabulous Martha Stewart), I decided that I had been waiting long enough. I literally shouted "Let there be pizza!" as I jotted down the ingredients on my shopping list.

Now personally, I'm not the kind of person who has the time to make her own pizza dough, so I was relieved when I saw the recipe suggested using fresh or frozen store-bought dough. Knowing Martha, I was a little surprised by this, since I remember watching the woman make her own freaking marshmallows once. Not kidding.

With the gorgeous autumn weather we've been having, this one seems like a great choice for a chilly night in. I can't wait to pop it in the oven next week!

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Roasted Fall Vegetable Pizza

Ingredients
1 pound (about 1 medium) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound red new potatoes, well scrubbed and quartered
1/2 pound medium red onions, peeled and quartered
1/2 pound carrots, halved lengthwise, if thick, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Flour, for dusting surface
1 pound store-bought pizza dough, fresh, or thawed if frozen
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
Olive Oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide vegetables and garlic evenly between two rimmed baking sheets. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them and rotating sheets from top to bottom half way through. Remove from oven, drain, and set aside.

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Brush a large baking sheet (preferably rimless) with oil, or line with parchment paper, if desired, for easy cleanup.

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch dough into a 12-by-16-inch oval (or as large as will fit on baking sheet); transfer to sheet.

Sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella. Scatter vegetables on top, and dollop with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and, if using, rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

One Year Blogiversary!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

 
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Notice anything different? I hope so!

I was having a hard time coming up with something to do for my one year "blogiversary" so I decided it was time for a fresh look, and this time I actually paid for the upgrade! Yep, that's right. I thought it was time to put on my big girl panties and get serious about the looks of this little blog of mine. I have lots of ideas for a full out custom design but until I nail down exactly what I want, I probably won't be changing anything for a while.

In the mean time, Ashley from Dinosaur Stew had exactly what I was looking for! The layout was super easy to install and I couldn't be happier! And ain't she a beaut?

I seriously am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I've been blogging for an entire year. I didn't think I'd make it past a month!

I'm still pretty clueless about where I want to go with it, but for now, I think I'll just keep on supplying the randomness and hoping that you all keep on reading. I've met so many amazingly sweet ladies through this experience and I've learned so much about the blogosphere this past year. I can only hope to continue learning, growing, and meeting new people in year number 2!

In honor of this anniversary, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with a big fat slice of cake! Who cares that it's not even 9:00AM. Any excuse to indulge, right?

Happy one year little blog!

Taking Stock

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Throwback to a fall trip to New Hampshire back in good old 2010. Playing in the leaves.

I saw this list this morning on Amanda's blog Eloquent English and I liked it so much I totally filled it out myself so I thought I'd share. It was nice to reflect a little and take a moment to check in with myself. Hope you're having a terrific Tuesday!

Making: festive fall centerpieces
Cooking: braised chicken in white wine sauce
Drinking: pumpkin spice chai tea (Yay for Trader Joe’s!)
Reading: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Wanting: to carve our pumpkins
Looking: forward to dressing up for Halloween
Playing: Pandora – Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons
Wasting: time on Facebook
Sewing: the top for my Halloween costume!
Wishing: I could take a drive to see the foliage up north
Enjoying: this beautiful, crisp fall weather
Waiting: for the clock to hit 5:00 so I can go home
Liking: my cozy new sweater from Old Navy
Wondering: what will happen next in my book
Loving: my incredibly thoughtful husband

Hoping: to show him the same thoughtfulness in return
Marvelling: at the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets lately
Needing: a nap
Smelling: the lovely perfume I borrowed from my mama
Wearing: brown leather boots, perfect for fall
Following: my heart
Noticing: how quickly 2013 is passing
Knowing: that each day is a precious gift
Thinking: I need to slow down
Bookmarking: this b
ecause it is both beautiful and interesting
Opening: endless email
Giggling: at the video I took of curious little Carlisle falling into the bath tub (don’t worry I saved him)
Feeling: loved

Food Passport

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tackling my first item on my 101 in 1001 list today!
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First up, #61 Design a “Food Passport” with at least 50 trendy new places to eat in the area.

I got this idea originally from Pinterest (where else?) but a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a pretty awesome "How-To" tutorial here. So if you're interested in creating one of your own, go check it out!

The goal is to make a list of all kinds of restaurants that you've never been to or ones you've wanted to try so that over time, you can keep track and check them off as you visit. It seems like it'll be really helpful, especially on those nights when I have no idea what to make for dinner or when we want to go out to eat somewhere fun but don't want to grab our usual grub. I've actually been working on this project for about a week. I realize now that this might be cheating since I already had this task completed before I even started the 101 in 1001 challenge. (I'm totally one of those people who will put something on my to-do list after I've already done it just to cross it off and feel accomplished.) Hmmm... Oh well!

Besides, it's not like I will complete the entire food passport in the 1001 days anyway.

Here is my ridiculously large list: 
1. Johnny Rad’s Pizzeria tavern
2. Henninger’s Tavern
3. SoBo Café
4. Grano Emporio
5. The Brewer’s Art
6. Tio Pepe
7. Nacho Mamas
8. Joe Squared
9. Pabu
10. Artifact Coffee
11. Peter’s Inn
12. Pazo
13. Annabel Lee Tavern
14. Red Red Wine Bar
15. 13.5% Wine Bar
16. City Café
17. Tapas Teatro
18. The Gypsy Queen (food truck)
19. Blue Moon Cafe
20. Charleston
21. Ouzo Bay
22. Woodberry Kitchen
23. Fleet Street Kitchen
24. The Black Olive
25. The Oregon Grille
26. Sotto Sopra
27. Thames Street Oyster House
28. Samos
29. Maggie’s Farm
30. Manor Tavern
31. Birroteca
32. Lewnes’ Steakhouse
33. Blue Hill Tavern
34. The Milton Inn
35. Fork & Wrench
36. Corner BYOB
37. The Olive Room
38. B Bistro
39. Mr. Rain’s Fun House
40. Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant
41. Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry (Little Italy)
42. Ann’s Dari Cream
43. RA Sushi Bar
44. Salt
45. Helmand
46. Petra Café
47. Petit Louis
48. Clementine
49. Amicci’s
50. Ambassador Restaurant
51. Stang of Siam
52. The Lebanese Tavern
53. One World Café
54. Indigma
55. Gertrude’s (BMA)
56. G & M’s
57. Loco Hombre
58. Le garage
59. Luigi Petti Restaurant
60. Vida Taco Bar
61. Waterfront Kitchen
62. Chick & Ruth’s
63. Parts & Labor
64. Chart House
65. Vin 909
66. The Treaty of Paris
67. Lemongrass
68. Galway Bay Irish pub
69. Osteria 177
70. Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge

Yes, I literally have 70 places I want to visit. I know that's a lot, but when it comes to food, I can't help but want to try it all. Almost all of them are completely new to me. A couple of them I have been to before but haven't visited in years, so I'd like to try them again.

What's funny is that I really didn't think there would be this many cool places to eat around here. When I started doing a little research and asking co-workers and friends, I quickly realized that I was dead wrong. My goal for this little list is to try and visit one or two of these places a month (mostly for date nights with the hubster) and report back here about our experiences. I think it will be a great change of pace for us since we tend to eat at the same places over and over again. Our date nights recently have become pretty habitual and usually involve ordering pizza and renting a movie from Redbox. It will be nice to get out of the house and try some new and hopefully delicious food!

101 in 1001

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Friday guys!

I woke up this morning feeling really excited. I mean, like ridiculously excited. Like I jumped out of bed and turned on some music and danced around my room kind of excited. Why? It's Friday and fall is here and everything is beautiful and I just can't contain my excitement for the holidays and LIFE IS GOOD! Who knows what has gotten into me but I love it. I hope this mood decides to stick around!

Since I'm feeling so good today, it seems like the perfect time to introduce something completely new and exciting for my little blog. Something that I've seen a lot of other bloggers tackle and I've always wanted to try myself. Today, I am starting my very own Day Zero project!
I'm sure most of you know exactly what this is but for those that don't, here's how it works. The challenge is to set 101 tasks each to be completed over a period of 1001 days. The tasks are supposed to be achievable, yet challenging. I've created a new tab up top to keep track of my progress. My plan is to blog about each of the tasks as I complete them.

While 1001 days seems like a long time, I know in the back of my mind that it's going to fly by. Life tends to do that sometimes. This challenge will hopefully help me to learn to step outside of my comfort zone and experience things that I otherwise wouldn't, or even things that I've always wanted to try but never really had an excuse.

Start Date: October 18, 2013
End Date: July 15, 2016

For the Home
1. Put in a garden space
2. Build a "salad table"
3. Landscape the front and back yard
4. Install a fire pit
5. Re-pave the driveway
6. Buy a hammock
7. Design and start finishing the basement
8. Create an art gallery wall
9. Prepare and emergency kit
10. Get some house plants
11. Organize the hall closets (0/2)
12. Organize the pantry
13. Finish decorating living room
14. Finish decorating dining room
15. Meet with a financial advisor to plan for future

Mind, Body, & Soul
16. Find a good yoga practice and stick with it
17. Drink 8 glasses of water every day for a week
18. Buy a bike and use it
19. Run a 5k
20. Get my mile time under 10 minutes
21. Get a massage
22. Create a meditation space at home
23. Go to church every Sunday for at least a month
24. Write down 3 things I’m grateful for every night for a month
25. Do yoga every morning for a week
26. Try Zumba

Adventure & Travel
27. Hike part of the Appalachian trail
28. Visit my sloth babies in Costa Rica
29. Take another cruise
30. Stay in the tree houses in Washington State
31. Finally see the White House
32. Take a week in the Whittaker Maine cottage
33. Camp in our own back yard
34. Get a stamp on my passport
35. Ride in a hot air balloon
36. Go to a drive-in movie theater
37. See a Broadway show
38. Be a tourist in my own city (Annapolis)
39. Be a tourist in my own city (Baltimore)

Crafty
40. Learn to knit
41. Learn to use a sewing machine
42. Sew myself a dress
43. Make curtains for the living room
44. Complete 5 projects found on Pinterest (0/5)
45. Frame a large map to track our travels

Foodie Adventures
46. Learn to make sushi
47. Make crème brulee
48. Throw a themed dinner party
49. Make homemade bread from scratch
50. Make homemade pasta from scratch
51. Make homemade jam
52. Grow a vegetable garden
53. Grow an herb garden
54. Make every single thing in a cookbook
55. Learn to can
56. Try Indian food
57. Try 10 new foods (0/10)
58. Organize recipes
59. Pack a lunch for work every day for 4 weeks
60. Visit 10 new wineries in Maryland (0/10)
61. Design a “Food Passport” with at least 50 trendy new places to eat in the area

Art & Photography
62. Learn to use my DSLR in “manual”
63. Take a photography class
64. Buy and frame a nice piece of art
65. Sort through and organize all digital photos
66. Back up photos on external hard drive
67. Frame 5 of my own photos (0/5)
68. Make a yearly photo book (0/2)

Just For Me
69. Go back for my master’s degree
70. Find the perfect Little Black Dress
71. Successfully French braid my own hair
72. Get my second tattoo
73. Open an Etsy shop
74. Take figure-skating lessons
75. Take classes to learn American sign language
76. Learn to shoot a handgun
77. Learn to drive stick
78. Buy a new alarm clock
79. Be able to get up consistently at 7:00AM for a week
80. Start and finish at least the first Harry Potter book
81. Clean out my closet and donate everything that doesn’t fit

For Others
82. Donate blood for the first time
83. Adopt a family for Christmas
84. Leave a 100% tip
85. Do a run/walk for charity
86. Send someone flowers for no particular reason
87. Volunteer with a community group
88. Make a treat for our neighbors and personally deliver them
89. Pay for the person behind me in a Starbucks drive-thru
90. Send 10 hand written letters to people I care about (0/10)

Go without
91. Eating out for a month
92. TV for a month
93. Checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a week

Just for Fun
94. Spend a rainy day watching nothing but home movies
95. Buy and restore a piece of furniture from a flea market
96. Have a bonfire
97. Adopt a puppy
98. Watch IMDB Top 100 (0/100)
99. Listen to the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (0/500)
100. Read 30 new books on my GoodReads List (0/30)
101. Complete this list and blog about each task