Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today was a really stupid day. But you know what wasn't stupid? Last weekend. Sam and I had ourselves a little staycation. We took Bria to Sam's brother's house on Friday and picked her up Sunday night. It was fantastic and just so exactly what we needed. The activities that stand out all surround eating, of course. We hit up some great places. It was also mingled with H&M shopping, a walk around Baltimore's inner harbor, and The Book Thing-- a place where people donate books and then anyone can go look around and take home any book they please for free. We took home ten.
And now for the food:
The first night we finally went to 2 Amys. The wait was long, and it was freeeeezing, but I have never been happier with my food. (do you see how I am like huddling under the table? I was so, so cold.) Behold! ricotta and mozzarella balls breaded and fried.
I seriously died. Sam had to scrape me up off the floor so I could then eat my pizza:
And Sam had the best margherita in the world:
On Saturday we went to Baltimore and wanted to have amazing seafood, so we chose the highly google-rated Mama's on the Half Shell. We even ordered oysters, cause, ya know. It sounded fun.
Now. let me talk about my one regret from the whole weekend. Sam and I realized we had a common love for Guster on our very first date, and they were playing in DC on Saturday. We decided to forgo the moderately pricey concert and go to Baltimore instead. Our dinner? twice the price of the tickets. And, I was seriously disappointed with the flavor of our food. I mean, it wasn't gross, but if I'm paying that much for good seafood, I want it to be the best seafood of my life, you know? Boo hoo. I'm still getting over it.
But at least the pear and cardamom gelato we ate afterward at Pitango was delicious.
After two days of eating like our cholesterol didn't matter, we opted for some light salads at Sweet Green. I am currently making up for not liking salad the first 24 year of my life. In the last year or two, I crave salad constantly.
Sam, on the other hand, only eats salad when coerced. He was really sad when we saw a Five Guys next door to Sweet Green. Poor guy.
And, confession, we each ate a total of five Georgetown cupcakes. Does that disgust you? It should.
I think I look condensed in this picture. I blame it on the cupcakes.
Ok seriously, just typing about staycation has improved my mood. I can't even tell you how relaxing and rejuvenating it was. We got stuck in traffic almost everywhere we went, and every time I started to get uptight about it, I just remembered that I didn't have a two-year-old in the back seat to entertain. Ahhhh . . . so relaxing. Why can't every weekend be staycation?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wish List

Everyone today is talking about the rain, but I haven't been outside. I'd like to wake up hearing and smelling the rain. Which means I want to sleep with the windows open. Which means I want to live somewhere I can open the windows without fearing a swarm of bugs will invade my apartment.

I think I want to take sewing lessons. I took some back in about 1994, and I learned how to make a scrunchie and a drawstring backpack. I might like to learn to make something more practical. No offense, scrunchies.

I'm also wishing for a little self-control. I think it's time to take a break from meat and dairy, but I'm not sure I have the willpower.

I also want some new boots. Like maybe these:
Lastly, I'd like some cake. Who wants to bake me one?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Closeted Control Freak

Back in July I was talking to my sister Amy on the phone when she let slip that she thinks I'm a little uptight. Her exact words were, "we're all a little uptight, but you're a special kind of uptight." Now, you might think I was offended, because, that sounds offensive, right? But I wasn't, because it's true. And I didn't even realize it! I used to think all the time about what my family thought was my "thing." Turns out, I'm the uptight one. It's kind of like when my sister Whitney and I told our sister Lindsay that she's dramatic, and she was shocked. (Are you keeping track of all my sisters? Good.) Anyway, this whole thing has led to a revolution of sorts for me. I'm trying to be a little more relaxed and to learn how to go with the flow. It's all very exciting. The funny part is, whenever I tell people about this conversation with my sister (because I think it's funny, so I like to talk about it), everyone is always surprised. "You're not uptight!" they say. And then I laugh, because I really, really am. I think I'm just a closeted control freak, so it's not readily noticed. But not for long! I'm now engaging in Project Hippie-- because, in spite of being uptight, I am also from Colorado, so I'm naturally kind of a hippie-- so I'm embracing it by becoming more of a roll-with-the-punches type of girl.

Speaking of Colorado and people who probably do know I am a closeted control freak:
This picture was taken almost exactly ten years ago. Yes, that's me in the middle. And, no, that's not one of the haircuts I inflicted on myself. Those other girls were two of my best friends growing up. Ashley (on the left) I have known since we were babies, and Jenna and I have been friends since we were 14.
As luck would have it, in our adult years, we all ended up in Virginia. Ashley has a fancy job in D.C., and Jenna lives in Richmond while her husband is in med school. We met up last weekend to catch up over brunch, and it was simply delightful. (We ate at the Carlyle. I've been hearing about their french toast for a while now, and it was not overrated. Yum, yum.) Of course there was plenty of Colorado gossip to be had, and lots of laughter as we entertained/were entertained by the babies. There is something to be said for people who were friends with you during your awkward teenage years. It was so lovely to be with old friends who know everything about me-- and love me anyway. (uptightness an all!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tortilla Soup for the Soul

Today marks the commencement of No Dish Left Behind, a program in which I attempt to conquer my kitchen sink. Due to the ill timing of three simultaneous colds, Bria, Sam, and I trashed the place this weekend, with no energy to clean it up. N0 matter! I have faith sanity will soon be restored at chez Mangum.

To nurse our suffering immune systems, I made tortilla soup. (I haven't posted this recipe yet, have I?) Adapted from my friend Jenna, this is our all-time favorite soup. Last night during dinner, Bria kept saying over and over, "I love this soup! I love dinner!" It's healthy and filling and so easy, you'll cry (in a good way).

1 large bottle Spicy V8
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans black beans
1 bag frozen corn
1 chicken breast, raw, cut into tiny pieces
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T cumin
1 T Worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste

Dump it all in a pot, bring to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Green onion and cilantro are optional.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

courtney, the chocolatier/ not giving up my day job

For my birthday, back in April, Sam gifted me with a chocolate making class at Cacao, and I finally went over the weekend. I got up really early on Saturday morning and trekked through some of the scarier parts of Maryland to find their industrial kitchen (they have stores in Bethesda and Cleveland Park), and joined several other nervous-looking bleary-eyed folk for the three-and-a-half hour class. We were instructed by the owner/head chef, who immediately charmed me with his French accent. At first it was slightly reminiscent of days spent at Caputo's chocolate counter-- several chocolate samples from around the world (including a sample of straight cocoa butter, which tastes like chapstick). It was a great breakfast. (Thank you, dear pancreas, for taking it in stride.)

Then we got to the chocolate making. We crafted flower petals from tempered chocolate using offset spatulas on parchment paper. It all looked so easy until I was standing at the table with my huge bowl of molten chocolate. It was all I could do to not put myself in the corner wearing a dunce hat. I think everyone was about ten steps ahead of me, and I started to feel that old anxious shame akin to high school algebra, fearing I was the only one in the room to not get it. If a deep-seated fear of embarrassment doesn't get me moving, I don't know what will. When I realized I might be the only person not getting the hang of it, I picked up the pace and slammed out my two sheets of petals with precision. It was awesome . . .
until I learned the chocolate had been too hot, so it wouldn't harden. I had to start all over. Luckily, I wasn't the only one. In fact, I think everyone had to re-start at least once, so my initial fear of shame turned out to be unnecessary. Hooray!

(Also, I got to wear this super-flattering hairnet and apron.)
While the petals were hardening, we filled truffles with passion fruit carmel. Holy cow. Amazing. And, again, super flattering photo documentation.
And it all came together in this fancy flower, which, yes, I am super proud of (and already ate).
Officially the coolest birthday present ever.

Monday, October 4, 2010

third time's the . . . well, not the charm.

I have cut my own hair a couple times:

1) When I was maybe 11, I decided to give myself bangs. I just grabbed a huge chunk of the front of my hair and cut it straight across. My mom confronted me, and fearing punishment, I lied and said, "I didn't cut my hair." It was a blatantly obvious lie, so when she re-confronted me, I said, "what? that's not a lie. I trimmed my hair." I did receive a stern look, but the only real punishment was my own hideous hair.

2) When I was 16, I had long hair and needed a change. I went into the salon and asked for shoulder-length with layers and got a chin-length bob. I added layers myself, which weren't actually horrible, except that I hadn't discovered a flat iron yet, and I was deep in the throes of a hair-bleaching addiction. I looked like a neon q-tip.

3) A couple of weeks ago, my (trying-to-be) edgy haircut had grown out too much, and then I missed my appointment to clean it up, so I picked up my scissors and went to town. MISTAKE. Somewhere in that moment of decision I forgot that I have a ton of thick hair. Soooo . . . I ended up with this strange blunt cut of thick hair curling under and hitting me right at the chin. Not cute. Not cute at all. When I went to California a couple days later, my dear sister Amy laughed at me and took me straight to the salon where they thinned the whole thing out and reassured me my hair would grow back. And sitting in that chair I promised to NEVER AGAIN cut my own hair. It was then that I realized I ended up with the same hair cut I gave myself when I was 17. AND, I almost cut bangs. Oy. Thank goodness I now have a flat iron. And in order to shake things up and not look exactly like my 17 year-old self, I dyed my hair brown. Then I had a little photo sesh with Bria.

Ok. I actually don't hate it. But all I want for Christmas is for my hair to grow quickly.