Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kefi Restaurant in Wheaton

The long awaited Kefi, Wheaton's newest restaurant, opened this month and N and I tried it last night. In short, we were super pleased with it.

We've been curious about the place since we moved here. It looks like a dumpy old house on the outside, but it was truly comfortable and new on the inside. The tables are placed a nice distance apart from each other, and there are comfy cushions on the seats. The walls are a warm-yellow with brick accents. The service was excellent and the owner stopped by to see how we liked things.

N and I went the sharing route - we ordered a Greek salad, dandelion greens, saganaki, spanakopita, and hummus. All of it was really good and very fresh tasting. Our favorites were the saganaki and spanakopita. We also ordered a piece of the baklava, which was gooey and sugary and very fluffy. Overall, we're really happy to have a nice upscale restaurant in the neighborhood and hope that the flow of people into the restaurant last night bodes well for the long-term health of Kife.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Self-Improvement

I've been on a bit of a self-improvement kick lately. OK, just the physical fitness kind, and perhaps its not "fitness," so much as "slimness." I think this is my excuse for not blogging much lately. (At least its one of many excuses.)

Exercise really takes up a lot of time!

Before we moved, I used the treadmill in the old buildings workout room. It was great, the room was almost always empty and I could safely use the machine whenever I wanted. I'd crank up the AC and the stereo and "run" for 40 minutes or so. After doing this for a few weeks, I started "punches." Basically I did a variety of punches into the air while on the slower portions of the run. Despite doing this with on weights, my arms toned up almost immediately. I'm not trying to win any lady-body-builder competitions, so a slight toning is good enough for me. After the punches were incorporated, I added a series of ab and butt toning exercises and I was set. Total workout time was 45 minutes. If I did this as soon as I got home, I'd be done by 6:30 or 7, just in time for dinner with N.

Now that we've moved, its become much more complicated, and my motivation is flagging a bit. First - it takes me a little longer to get home, and the development does not have a gym. This means that I can either go with videos such as "Boot Camp," or "Cindy Crawford." Or actual running outside. In the heat, and sun, and exhaust fumes. Oh, I can also workout at work, but that means that (1) I'm driving home in the thick of rush-hour and (2) I have to see actual coworkers and managers in their gym clothes. Sweating. Of course, they can see me as well, with my hair pulled up in a messy pony-tail, oh, and my tattoo, which I've managed to keep hidden for 2.5 years.

I like the difference in my body though and that's about the only thing that keeps me going. I've bought at least six pairs of pants in my new smaller size. That's a huge investment!

Exercise though... its kind of weird. I'm not sure if we're really designed to do this kind of regimented movement that has no real purpose, other than keeping us fit. I mean, ancient humans, they were fit because of the situation they lived in and having to do so much more just for survival. Running on a treadmill, or even outside, has no purpose, other than the purpose of running in and of itself. Obviously, I'm not going to quit my white-collar job and find something that keeps me up on my feet all day, getting my physical fitness from my environment. It just means that I have to constantly quash the thoughts of the futility of it all and keep on running. (I also found this great post titled, "31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise" and agree with a lot of the tips.

PS - the best workout music is DJ Steve Boyett's weekly podcast, "Podrunner." Find it on iTunes.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

DeGrassi Fan

When I was in high school, I used to hurry home to catch Degrassi Junior High on one of the PBS channels. I always wished this would be released on DVD and didn't know that it was until we happened to see "Degrassi, The Next Generation" on the CW this morning. It's some kind of marathon, cause we're on the third episode now. Just like DJH, DTNG is strangely addictive. It must be the pacing or the raw angst that come through the characters. On Degrassi, as in real life, there are no happy endings, or somewhat satisfactory temporary solutions. So, anyway, I checked Netflix and I added DJH to the queue, I'm so excited. (What about Degrassi High though?)

There are at least three regulars from DJH on DTNG. That's kind of cool, but also a little pathetic. I thought the originals from DJH were not professional actors, but were just high school students that acted on the show. If the same people are still acting all these years later, then they either caught the acting bug, or they were real actors to begin with.

As a teenager, I was always disappointed that the show was not on regularly. Something about it really appealed to me much more than other teen programming. (Will admit here that I never watched 90210, so maybe I missed out.) I can't really remember what other teen programming was on the air back then - was there anything other than after-school specials?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Comparing Red Curries

I was full of despair for the first eight months or so when we moved here. We just could not find any decent Thai food, anywhere. We tried several places, nothing recommended, just places that we happened to be by. Actually, that's not totally true, there was one place that we went with a friend, one that insisted it was great pan-Asian food. It really wasn't, but then again, I'm not a great judge - the only things I like to eat at Thai are the curries.

In order of preference: Red, Panang, Mussaman, Green. Yellow if nothing else available. I'll admit here that I'm still not sure if Mussaman or Panang are the same as Red.

Anyway, I just could not find any decent red curries, until a friend took us to Spices on Connecticut. I was thrilled, the red curry was delicious!!! Since then, that's been the main place we've gone when my red curry urges could not be ignored any longer.

Now that we've been in Wheaton for a few weeks, we found two fantastic Thai restaurants with equally fantastic red curries. The first was Ruan Thai, one of the Washingtonian Cheap Eats, so it actually meets two of our requirements. The curry there was not only delicious, it was super spicy! And, the leftovers, after stewing in their own spicy curry juices all night were even spicier. The spicier the better as far as I'm concerned! The restaurant was small and really busy when we were there.

The other place we tried was off the beaten path. It's Nava Thai and its in the back of an Asian market called Hung Phat. According to the City Paper article, it started out as a stall in the back of this market and eventually grew into a restaurant. This place was also delicious and somehow felt slightly more authentic, if only because we were the only non-Asian people in the place.

N and I often debate about whether ethnic restaurants that are full of people of that ethnicity eating there are actually a sign that the food is good. Conventional wisdom says that it is a good sign, assuming that transplanted ethnic people want to eat good homecooking. I can see how this might be true, but then I think of all the crappy diners N and I have eaten at, with much joy, despite the fact that the food was sub-par and we even knew that before eating there.... repeatedly. There were several all night diners in Chicago that we frequented, despite the fact that they were really dirty, had poor service and could ruin even a simple fried egg sandwich. There was one place we went to all the time that messed-up N's order every single time. Did that put it on the "banned list"? Almost never.

(Ah, the banned list. Its time to officially bring that back.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Legitimate Adulthood

We've achieved the American Dream, or at least lightened our tax burden: We've finally become homeowners. We bought a condo in Wheaton, MD. Only five miles from the District, er, at least the part of if that we used to live in and hate so much.

Our lives are so much better since we moved! We can actually walk to places, like lots of restaurants, several ethnic groceries, several nail salons, and the Metro is even closer. Even though it was a last minute decision to put a contract on the place, we're really glad we did, cause the amenities are huge.

We saw this place back in June. I liked it, a lot, and N really, really liked it. As in, as soon as we got home he wanted to put a contract on it. I was hesitant though, feeling that I wanted to live closer in than we had been, not further out. Even though we are only a little bit further, every mile you move seems to make a difference in DC. But then we got the classic call from the seller's agent, letting us know that an offer had been put on the place, but it wasn't "ideal." Even though I knew this was a scam, I still mentioned the call to N. I originally wasn't even going to mention it, since I didn't think it was worth anything, but I told him anyway, and we sort of decided right at that moment to do it.

Our offer was accepted, which meant that our lives immediately became stressful. Inspection (totally fine,) Assessment (also fine,) dealing with the bank, constantly, over-eager realtors, finding movers, packing (ugh, ugh, ugh,) not getting mail forwarded promptly from USPS, being without Internet and phone for two weeks, oh, and the upcoming mortgage and assessment payments.

Up until the closing, I constantly worried whether we were making the right choice. Did we stop looking too soon? Should we have tried harder to find something right in the District, closer to work for me at least? Could we afford it? Did we even want to own? What if something breaks? Even during the closing, I had to squelch these thoughts and just sign my name a million times.

But, then, the day after the closing, I was in the new condo and it all just felt so right. I felt really at peace with it all. Part of that was related to the closing being over, but I actually felt really happy with the place and happy with the neighborhood, and so happy we made some commitment to the DC area, even though I still think we're out of here after max 5 years.

Now we're coming on 2 weeks of being here and I'm still happy. Worried about money, yes, since we need to buy a lot of things to get the place livable and nice (we have like no furniture.) But totally loving Wheaton and the walkability of it and our place, ah, I just love it so much!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Marcie's Banana Nut Bread

I was going through some old papers and came across a tattered sheet with the recipe for banana nut bread that my mom uses. It's delicious and easy. We haven't made it for a long time, but we used to make it frequently. I wanted to put the recipe somewhere safe and thought this blog would the perfect place to find it again.

Sorry, no pictures.

Marcie's Banana Nut Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup ripe bananas mashed (or 3 to 4 medium-sized)
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or any other fun variation - we've used dried cranberries, fresh blueberries, etc.)

preheat oven to 350 degrees

grease bottom of pan only

mix all of the ingredients and stir until moist

put in pan, stick in oven, cook for 55-60 minutes - use a toothpick or knife to check when done.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Deer Watch

Since I started driving on a regular basis, I've been beset by a variety of anxieties.

* Sometimes when I'm trying to fall asleep, I get the sensation that I'm in a speeding car, nearing a stopped car ahead, but I can't put the brakes on. I usually jolt into full awakeness before impact, but this is frequent and scary.

* Most drivers here can't seem to deal with curves too well. I'm worried that I"m one of them and every time I enter into a curve, or circle, at the same time as another car, I fear that our bumpers or mirrors will scrape.

* I'm totally worried about getting a speeding ticket, especially when driving at 15mph over the limit. Obviously this is a fear that I can address and correct, but sometimes its really hard when there's an SUV-fucker on your tail and every time I look in the rear-view it seems like he's going to start driving over me.

* Pedestrians.

But my biggest fear is deer. I don't know what to do if I hit one. I'm so scared that one is going to pop out of the Rock Creek and slam into the side of my car, forcing me into a tailspin with full airbag deployment. I've already seen two dead deer on the side of the road this summer. Last summer, I saw a dead baby deer, its body on the road and its head curled up on the curb. I can't get that image out of my head. I've never seen such a small creature.

I've been working late this week, driving home when its dark out. Over the past two nights, I've seen the same deer standing at the edge of Military Road, either munching on greens or staring across the road, as if contemplating when he should jump out. I've been driving below the speed limit so that I can stop quickly or have less impact if something should happen. I'm still so scared though!!!