50 Women Game Changers in Food: Ree Drummond (Week 21)

In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making its way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so.  As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.

(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)

Week 21 brings us to Ree Drummond.

Ree_Drummond

Is there anyone out there who isn’t familiar with Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman)? Ree (Ann Marie) was born in Oklahoma on January 6, 1969. She obtained a degree from the University of Southern California in LA , and had planned to attend law school in Chicago. That changed when she met &  later married her husband, Ladd Drummond. Together, they have four children, which they home school on their working Oklahoma cattle ranch.

She began her blog in 2006. It was initially about ranch & home life. A year into blogging, she posted her first recipe: How to cook a steak. (it’s funny to go back and look at that post and see only 23 comments. It’s also interesting to see how much her photography has improved over the years. I love her photos and assumed that she’s always been as skilled at food photography as she currently is.) Her blogging style, very detailed step-by-step instructions & accompanying photos, is a style that has since been emulated by so many bloggers. I don’t feel any pull it off as well as she does, since her witty comments are & self-deprecating humor are part of why it works so well. In 2009, Time Magazine named The Pioneer Woman as one of the best blogs of the year.

Other than her blog success, she has published seven books, and in 2011, she received her own series from Food Network.

IMG_3971I’ve made several of her recipes (pasta puttanesca, pot roast, pork with mango fried rice, Tuscan bean soup, blackberry cobbler … and while I’m talking about people’s food photography improving… woo boy.) and everything has always been delicious. That pot roast recipe is one of my favorites ever….But for this, I made something of hers I hadn’t made before: buttermilk biscuits.

IMG_3969I have spent my entire life living in the south, and prior to this, I had never made biscuits from scratch. The blue Pillsbury cans have always been good enough for me. I’ve been trying to get away from processed foods, and after seeing how easy these were to make, I should be able to stay away from the canned biscuits from here on out.

Buttermilk Biscuits
(Recipe from Pioneer Woman Cooks)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. In large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir together. Add the shortening and cold butter pieces. With pastry blender, cut the shortening and butter into dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.(Honestly, it’s much easier if you just do this with your fingers.)
  3. Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently with fork until just combined. The biscuit dough will be sticky, not overly dry or crumbly.
  4. Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn the dough out of the bowl and roll to a 1/2” thickness. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes until golden brown.

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Deployment Diaries #4

Another week down! Yay!

This has been another one of those weeks where it really sucks to be away from Graham. My birthday was yesterday. I turned 32, and out of the 5 birthdays I’ve had since we’ve been a couple, it was the 3rd one I spent without him. But, I made the best of it.

My pre-birthday celebration started on Friday with a girls night dinner. For whatever reason, I didn’t photograph my food, but I had a delicious burger & cocktail at Park Lane in Hampton. Saturday, the pre-birthday celebration continued with shopping & cupcakes in Virginia Beach. Hermione obviously thought it was her birthday, because she ate one of my cupcakes.

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My actual birthday was pretty wonderful. It started with finally getting to open the present he sent me:

2015-05-18 10.19.27-1This was way more than we usually send on gifts, but I’m not going to complain! I love it so much. But now I need a smaller wallet…

I spent the first part of my day lounging by the pool, reading John Adams (yes, I know… that’s slightly odd pool/beach reading…) and trying to even out the ridiculous tan on my arms. There was no one at the pool except for the lifeguard & myself, and it was pretty perfect.

2015-05-18 11.00.23-1

I’m so thankful for the friends I’ve made here. There are no words as to how thankful I am to these people. I’m thankful for instagram & hashtags, because that’s how I met Susan (who is so similar to me it’s actually freaky), and I’m so thankful for the friendships that have been formed at the Radius dog park.

Susan & I went for sushi at Hayashi. I had a much better experience this time. and ate wayyyyyy too much. I’ve definitely learned that I can’t eat the way I did prior to my Whole30.

2015-05-18 17.55.38 2015-05-18 18.07.33-1

After dinner, I went back to the apartment & met some friends for a Cards Against Humanity night. I love this game so much. Even though we were playing on my birthday, I hadn’t planned on this being a birthday thing… it was just the only night that worked out. But, my friends are awesome, and there were 2 cakes, cards & gifts. It was a wonderful birthday.

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In other news, since I’m no longer doing the Whole30, this weekend I was able to taste everything at the Le Mu family meeting. I’ve been helping them out with some of their social media, and have gone every week to photograph the food, even though I couldn’t eat it. Which was torture. This was the first time I was able to sample everything Chef Sav had prepared, and everything was SO good! As much as I love tuna (and the tuna tartare & tuna tacos were incredibly delicious), my favorite, hands down, was the lemongrass & chili sausage. Sav’s grandmother makes these herself, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. IMG_46642015-05-17 17.12.14

And, lastly, Buddy is king of the world. Hear him roar. And follow him, Hermione & Charlotte on Facebook. Yes, I am one of those people who makes their pets a their own Facebook page2015-05-17 11.43.28-1

50 Women Game Changers in Food: Molly Wizenberg (Week 20)

In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making its way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so.  As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.

(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)

Week 20 brings us to Molly Wizenberg.

20140721-molly-wizenberg-portrait-kyle-johnsonSo, while very few of the women on this list set out for a career in food, Molly Wizenberg’s original path is probably the coolest. She was working on a PH.D in cultural anthropology when she decided to quit, and write about food. A friend suggested she start her a blog, which she did.

She first started writing Orangette in 2004, and it has been tremendously successful. It has spawned two books, two restaurants, and has won her a James Beard Award for ‘Best Individual Food Blog. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Brandon (who she met through her blog) and her daughter.

2015-04-06 00.34.28I was scrolling through her blog looking for something to make for this week, and I stumbled on danish butter cookies.

Here is something you probably don’t know about me… I’m obsessed with those Danish butter cookies in the blue tins. They’re available all year, but I only ever eat them at Christmas. In all honestly, that’s probably a good thing, since I can (and have) eat an entire can in one sitting.

These cookies didn’t taste exactly like those, but they were really delicious. They were so light, and delicate, with the perfect sweet, buttery flavor. 2015-04-06 00.34.14I made mine a little bigger than the recipe called for. It took me forever to make all of these. The dough is a whole lot of butter, so you have to work with these when the dough is cold. Once it warms up, this process is a whole lot harder.

Danish Butter Cookies
(Recipe found here, originally from Gourmet Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 lb. unsalted high quality European butter, at room temperature for 1 hour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. sanding sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour and baking soda.
  3. Using the paddle attachment, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, then add sugar & flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Divide dough in half.
  4. Roll each piece of dough between large sheets of plastic wrap into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle (about 1/8 inch thick). Chill on a tray until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut into rectangles and arrange 1 inch apart on 2 large baking sheets. (If dough becomes too soft, chill or freeze until firm enough to handle.)
  5. Brush tops of cookies lightly with beaten egg, then sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake cookies, 2 sheets at a time, switching positions of pans halfway through baking, until cookies are very pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then carefully slide cookies (on parchment) to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough, baking on cooled, freshly lined baking sheets. Re-roll scraps once.
    2015-04-12 03.26.45

 

Deployment Diaries #3

You know what I never hear/read from military wives? That one of the reasons deployments suck is because all of the housework now falls on their shoulders. I’m not sure if it’s because a lot of military wives don’t work, so therefore the housework is their job, or if their husbands are just the kind of guys who feel like housework is women’s work. Graham does his fair share around the apartment. I won’t say it’s equal (since I only work part time, obviously I do more), but he does plenty.

And I really miss that. I especially miss his help in the kitchen. I cook dinner, and he does the dishes. That’s our arrangement. And I never realized how much I LOVED that arrangement till he was gone. You know what I hate? Washing dishes. I swear, once my Whole30 is finished (TOMORROW!!!!!), I’m only eating canned soup and cereal. I might even go buy some paper bowls and plastic spoons… That’s how much I hate dishes.

And as sad as this sounds, I also miss having a man around for stupid things like opening jars. Last night I spent 5 minutes trying to open a jar of homemade pickles before I gave up and ate a handful of olives.

Anyways. I miss him for about 17,000 reasons and I’ve been missing him for one month now. Yesterday marked one month exactly since I kissed him goodbye at Langley. Luckily the past month has gone by really quickly. I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing it, but really. Staying busy helps SO much.

Staying busy is a good way to deal with grief of any kind. Whether it’s a break up, a deployment, or having to say goodbye to a beloved pet.

This past weekend was one of the saddest I’ve had here in Virginia. Two members of my apartment complexes dog park were put down this week. Bijoux, an adorable Maltese went in for a routine spaying, developed complications and was put down on Thursday. Max, a senior German short-haired pointer was put down Friday. His person, Sarah, has become a good friend to me, so myself and Shana (another friend here) wanted to be there for her. We took all of our dogs to the beach Friday morning, wanting Max to have the best day ever, and then we went with her to his appointment Friday afternoon. It was heartbreaking.

2015-05-07 22.12.13 2015-05-07 22.27.32 2015-05-07 22.53.292015-05-07 22.11.29Rest in Peace, Max. You will be missed.

Shana & I spent a good bit of the rest of the weekend just trying to be there for our friends. We hung out, baked, talked, walked, and just offered as much support as we could. I’m so happy to have been able to help in whatever way I could, but it was an emotionally draining weekend.

Yesterday, I decided I needed to just decompress. So, I drove to Gettysburg (yes, I know that is completely random). I’ve honestly never cared much for the Civil War. I hate everything about the war, and I’ve never been one to romanticize the “old south”. My interest in American history has always ended with the Constitution. Until recently. On April 15, I watched Lincoln, in honor of the 150th anniversary of his death. It’s an amazing movie, and I’ve seen it several times, but this time I noticed in the credits that it was adapted by the book Team of Rivals. I found a copy at the used bookstore, and downloaded the audio book on Audible, and have been engrossed in it for weeks. Lincoln was a fascinating man, and I HIGHLY recommend the book. Anyways. The book has sparked a small interest in the Civil War, especially Gettysburg.

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(The spot where Lincoln read the Gettysburg Address.)

IMG_4544 IMG_4547 IMG_4559IMG_4581This monument had a staircase you could climb to the top. From the top, the views of the countryside were absolutely gorgeous. I’m sure it looked quite different those three days in July, but on this pretty day in May, it was perfect. IMG_4571 IMG_4575 IMG_4592 IMG_4602 IMG_4603IMG_4525

 

 

 

50 Women Game Changers in Food: Pim Techamuanvivit (Week 19)

In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making its way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so.  As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.

(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)

Week 19 brings us to Pim Techamuanvivit.

Pim_Techamuanvivit_HomeMedium

I was unable to find much information about her, and I guess that’s going to continue to be the case as we move into more modern female foodies, and away from the more historical figures. What I do know, is that she was born in Bangkok, but has ended up loving life in San Francisco. She worked in Silicon Valley until 2005, when she left her career to pursue her passion: food. She writes recipes, reviews restaurants, and travels.

Her recipes have been featured in Food & Wine, the New York Times, Bon Appetit & more. She has also appeared as a judge on Iron Chef America, and cooked pad Thai with Martha.

While searching for information about her, I kept running across her pad thai recipe, and multiple claims that it was perfect for beginners. I was a bit intimidated by the steps and the ingredients, but once everything is prepped, assembling it is a breeze.

2015-05-02 06.51.47I was incredibly pleased with how this dish turned out, but I honestly have very little experience with pad Thai. The last time I tried to make it, it was a hot mess. That kind of discouraged me from trying again, and even though it is such a classic dish, it’s not my favorite, so I never order it when I go out. 
2015-05-02 06.52.33Other that locating some of the ingredients, this was a very simple meal to make. The only part that took more than a few minutes was soaking the noodles. Everything else comes together so quickly, you have to have all of your ingredients ready to go. Once stuff starts going into the skillet or wok, you have zero time to chop or measure out ingredients.
2015-05-02 06.52.15I’m actually not going to post the recipe for this week, for two reasons. 1) It’s really long. 2) It can vary a lot, based on your taste preferences, and the availablility of ingredients, such as the tamarind pulp & palm sugar. I did HAVE to go to the international grocery store for the tamarind, and this is what I ended up buying. I couldn’t find the sugar at the international grocery store, so I did substitute that for brown sugar.

I linked to it a little higher up, but here it is again, just in case.

The day my life changed.

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I’ve been wanting to write this for the past few years, but I’ve always been wary of other people’s reactions. People seem to get all hot & bothered when you mention your past. It’s like they think I love Graham less if I ever bring up the fact that I didn’t live in a convent before I met him, which is annoying. Out of the thousands of photos I have on Facebook, I literally have one of my ex-boyfriend (and it’s just half of his face). It’s a picture of him and a cat that has since passed away. I was once told I needed to delete it, because Graham may feel bad.

I refused. Graham knows that I have a past, and he appreciates that my past has made me into the person I am today. So, seven years later, I’m going to write this post. Someone in my life who I love very much is going through a difficult time. I doubt they’ll ever read this, but I’m putting it out there anyway.

Monday, May 5, 2008. It started out as a special day, only because it the first day of finals. I went into exam week with a 4.0 GPA, while taking 21 hours, including my senior thesis. I was (and still am) incredibly proud about that semester. All weekend long I had said “I’m going into finals with straight A’s, and if anything screws that up, I will be PISSED”. So, of course that’s the PERFECT time for my boyfriend of 5+ years to end things with a phone call. Seriously. I remember the days leading up to our break-up very clearly, more than the rest of the relationship. I remember standing in the kitchen of his house on Friday night, talking about the changes we would make once we moved in together. I remember chatting on IM Sunday night about things we wanted to do over the summer. He was graduating that week, and I had one semester left, so this was the “last” summer free of any real responsibility that we’d ever had. Then, Monday night he calls & breaks up with me.

Lesson #1: People can be cruel & heartless. He had once told me he couldn’t stand to see girls cry, so he took the cowards way out. I had never experienced that level of callousness until that moment, and it changed the way I looked at the world.

I felt a lot of things in the days following. I was shocked, stunned, sad, angry, hurt, etc. But the thing that I felt the most was lost. We had planned on spending the rest of our lives together, and I had zero idea what the hell I was supposed to do next.

One thing I did do, was give myself a mourning period. I know that may sound silly, since a person didn’t die, but something else did: the life that I had planned. That mourning period was the best thing I could have possibly done for myself. I pulled myself together for a few days, made it through exams, and then took the next week off. Originally, he and I were going to go to the beach with his family the following week, and since I already had the week off from work, I took it. I spent the week lounging around the house. I read, I watched TV, I wallowed in self pity. My step dad asked me how long I was going to mope, and I gave him a definite answer. I was going to mope till Sunday, and then I was going to put my big girl panties on and get on with things. Summer classes started on Monday, I went back to work on Monday, and I couldn’t afford to be pathetic any longer.

Lesson #2: Take time for yourself. Eat ice cream (or in my case, don’t eat at all & lose 10 lbs). Watch cheesy soap operas. Read X-Files fanfiction. Whatever. Just take that time for yourself to grieve what you’ve lost.

Once I started my new routine, I flourished. I had feared that summer would be the worst of my life, but in all honesty, it was one of the best (the best summer of my life would be the next one). For the first time in five years, I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and it was glorious. He and I were very unsocial. We spent most of our evenings lounging around, him watching TV & me doing homework. We were in the most boring routine ever. Our date nights were always Texas Roadhouse, and we were just incredibly comfortable & boring. That summer would mark a lot of big changes for me. 1) I got in the best shape of my life. When I was in high school, I was skinny. I fluctuated between a size 4 & 6. That summer I went from a size 12 to a size 8. So while I wasn’t as skinny as I used to be, I was strong. I went to the gym 4-5 times a week. I spent hours on the elliptical, the treadmill, lifting weights, and even taking group exercise classes. I did Body Pump with my friends Heather & Megan. And while I hated every second of Body Pump, the results were amazing. 2) I started trying new things. I’ve never been much of a drinker, but my friends and I started going for martinis at Therapy. Heather introduced me to sushi (for which I will ALWAYS be grateful). I started reading the Harry Potter series. 3) I developed new relationships & cultivated old ones. Once we broke up, I  was terrified of being alone. All of my friends were in relationships, and two of my friends were engaged. Saturdays were lonely, because everyone else was on dates, but other than that one night, I never felt lonely. I was more social that summer than I ever have been, and part of that included dating again. I was terrified that if I waited too long to put myself back on the dating scene, I would be too scared to do it. So, I signed up for eHarmony. I wasn’t looking for a husband, or even a relationship. I just wanted to go on dates & meet people. And that’s exactly what I did. I went on dates with 3-4 guys over the next couple of months. None of them were worthy of a second date, but going on those dates was better for my confidence than anything else I could have possibly done.

Lesson #3: Stay busy. I don’t mean busy yourself with reading or watching TV. STAY BUSY. (FYI: This is very good advice for surviving a deployment too…) Go to the gym, hang out with friends, take a class, do something. Just don’t sit around the house. That leads to moping, crying, Facebook stalking, etc.

My relationship with him was done on May 5, 2008. Even though I was lonely at times, I knew that it was done, and there was no going back. I remember saying to a friend that he could come back and beg me to get back together, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would say no. We were done. After May 5, we communicated only a couple of times. One night that first week, we chatted on IM, just out of habit. But after that, we never actually conversed again. Months later, I sent him a rambling Facebook message with everything I needed to get off my chest, but I had no desire to actually talk to him. What was the point? What good would come from continuing to talk and be a part of each others lives, even though part of me wanted to. For five years, he had been more than my boyfriend – he had been my best friend, my confidant, my companion. And when we broke up, I lost all of that. But the bigger part of me knew that we could never be friends. We were never purely platonic friends to begin with, and we couldn’t become friends after what we had been to each other.

Lesson #4: Sever all ties of communication. This may be the hardest thing to do, but it’s the most important for survival. Especially if you weren’t the one to end the relationship. If you were the dumpee, not the dumper,  being in communication with them is always going to give you a little bit of hope that things may eventually work out. It needs to be a clean break. Block them, unfriend them, unfollow them, delete them, whatever. It needs to be done with.

Once I had survived the summer, I spent the next few months focusing on my last semester of school. I didn’t date much, simply because I didn’t have the time. But I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted in future relationships. People say they have a list of what they want, and they usually mean an internal list. I actually had a physical list (and Graham actually meets every single item on that list), and I refused to settle for less than I knew I deserved. While my ex & I had a lot of good times over those 5+ years we spent together, we also had bad ones. As far as I know, he never cheated on me, but he lied to me to a lot. I never told anyone, because I knew what people would say, and honestly, I didn’t have the courage to end it. We came VERY close to breaking up around the three year mark, after his ex-girlfriend emailed me some things she thought I should know. But I couldn’t go through with it. I was scared of being alone. I didn’t want to have wasted three years of my life and have nothing to show for it. So, I stayed & let him continue to lie to me about stupid things that weren’t worth lying about. Once we broke up, in the words of an old country song, “my give a damn’s busted”. I changed. I stopped being a people pleaser. I stopped worrying about making other people happy at the expense of my own happiness. I was more honest with everyone (including myself) about what I was thinking, feeling, and what I wanted (in every aspect of my life, which is annoying to some people). I refused to settle. I even turned a guy down for a date once, after he texted me “what R U doing 2nite?” (Excellent grammer is one of the top 5 reasons I was initally attracted to Graham.) I was 25, and wasn’t getting any younger. I knew I wanted to get married someday, and I wasn’t prepared to waste time on a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere.

Almost a year to the date of my break-up with him, Graham & I reconnected. He walked into the bar where my friends & I were, and when I saw him, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Despite the stresses of the military, our relationship is everything I had ever hoped for. He challenges me, respects me, is completely honest with me, and loves me unconditionally. I’m not trying to be braggy, I’m just trying to express that there is someone out there that is perfect for you.

Lesson #5: Dating sucks, but don’t settle. Know what you want, and wait for it. Settling for someone who is not what you want, just because you don’t want to be alone is just begging for unhappiness. Life is short. I knew within a few minutes of a date if it had the potential to lead somewhere. If I knew that it didn’t, I didn’t waste my time with a second date.

I think that’s it. This is probably the longest, most personal post I’ve ever written.

 

Deployment Diaries #2

We’re now in week four of the deployment, and we’re all surviving. Even Hermione, the neediest of my furry children. Keeping her busy and worn out is keeping me busy and worn out. She is also helping me with my goal of staying social.

Thursday night I went over to Sarah’s to watch Grey’s Anatomy. I know, I know… I swore I would never watch it again, but I couldn’t help myself. And I’m calling it – Meredith is going to end up with Alex… you just wait. But anyways, I brought the dog with me, and Hermione wore herself out playing with Max & Finley.
2015-04-30 20.47.09-1When we first met Finley, he was the cutest boxer puppy ever, and he’s grown up to be such a beautiful dog. He’s so much fun to watch, and watching him & Hermione play together is always entertaining. 
2015-04-30 21.43.56-1Sunday, we spent about 3 hours in the dog park. Hermione is friends with the dogs, I’m friends with the owners, so it’s fun for both of is. And even though this apartment complex is SO expensive, writing that rent check every month hurts a little less because of the people (and pups) we’ve met here.2015-05-03 12.30.37Hermione and I also spent a lot of time in Yorktown this weekend. She got long walks (4.2 miles) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Every time I walk her in Yorktown (which is, hands down, my favorite place to take her), I feel incredibly grateful to have such a beautiful spot about 15 minutes away. I love the beach, I love the battlefield, I love everything about it. 2015-05-02 17.02.082015-05-02 16.51.062015-05-03 18.24.35-1While Hermione & were being active & social, the cats slept the weekend away. Seriously. I left them in my bed on Sunday morning, went to run errands (I was gone for about three hours) and came home to find them in the exact same spot. They are so freaking cute. 2015-05-03 11.27.53I’ve also spent a lot of time with dead presidents lately. I’m about 2/3 through with Team of Rivals, and I’m completely obsessed. I now spend a good portion of my Skype time with Graham telling him interesting Lincoln stories. He’s so much more fascinating than I ever knew, and I made the statement that I want to read everything about him I can get my hands on. 2015-05-01 19.36.51However, I went to the used bookstore on Friday, and instead of buying more books on Lincoln, I picked up books on other presidents I find fascinating. Disclaimer: I don’t find Teddy interesting. I honestly know nothing about him. I picked this book up because of the HIMYM episode where Ted is obsessed with him. Now, I just need to find a well reviewed book on Thomas Jefferson… 2015-05-01 13.38.06In other news, I’m nearly done with my Whole30. I’ll be finished on the 12th, and I nearly blew it last night. I was baking cookies to send to someone, and habit had me going for a bite of cookie dough. I caught myself at the last second, thankfully. I would have been SO livid if I had unintentionally cheated this close to the end, when I’ve been able to resist temptation the past 20-something days. I’m definitely ready to be done with it though. I haven’t felt as amazing as everyone else seems to, and I really just want a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.