Friday, September 28, 2012

Five Favorite Things Friday

Happy Friday! It's the last Friday before October rolls in and also one day before a full moon. Enjoy your weekend and hope you enjoy this week's edition of FFTF!

Favorite Travel Picture

Last week was all about sunrises. This week, it's about sunsets! Check out this awesome sunset I captured at Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Germany.

Favorite Quote

Not all those who wander are lost. -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Favorite Recipe

For my Meatless Monday this week, I tweaked a recipe from This is my version of Spicy Peanut Noodles. Mmm, spicy!

My Own Spicy Peanut Noodles With Kale and Carrots


Favorite Story

Never let a disability get you down! Check out Moose and Maverick, abandoned two-legged puppies, who are thriving and doing just fine without all four limbs!

Favorite Random

Getting to listen to Michael Jackson's 25th special edition anniversary album during my commute. Totally Bad!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Over the hump, relax and refill

Now that we're over the hump and on our way to the weekend, here are a few no frills, easy-on-the-schedule (and wallet) options to make sure that the momentum doesn't stop.

Get a no-frills massage at Opt Massage in Oldtown, Alexandria

If you feel that knot on your shoulders or that kink in you neck starting to cramp your style, it's time to make a stop at Opt Massage & Spa. Now, I use the word "Spa" because it's the official name, but don't expert to be pampered  here: You go to Opt Massage to get a massage--you're in, and then you're out. The prices are almost half of what you'll find in this area (59 bux for 1 hour and they have frequency/membership plans which lowers some massages to 39 bux each). So if you want luxury, you'll have to pay for it elsewhere.

Opt Massage, Oldtown, Courtesy of Yelp Reviewer Mike S.
Here's my experience during a recent trip (thanks to the thoughtfulness of my sis-in-law!):

  • The location was very convenient--it was within minutes walking from King Street Metro.
  • I was greeted by two employees when I arrived, one happened to be the owner and my masseuse (which I soon found out). It was a cordial greeting; don't expect ooze and forced smiles.
  • The interior was clean, nice, but nothing over the top. It was dimly lit and there were a few massage chairs out in the open behind the reception area. These were set up for clothed massages, obviously, like for your feet!
  • There were a few private rooms behind these chairs, which I had my massage in. But be aware that the doors are glass and only half of the door panel is etch-a-sketched for semi privacy.
  • If you get the owner, don't expect to have a full-on convo or a lot of niceties (language barrier) but do expect to get a solid massage. Be prepared to be annoyed when he stops to peek out of the room to see if his partner is up front greeting customers (a chime comes on when someone opens the front door).
  • When the time clock buzzes indicating time is up, it's UP. 
Online reviewers generally give this place good reviews. So, if you want a solid massage and to skip all the frills that come with the price of a Spa, give Opt Massage a try!

If being tenderized by a stranger's hands isn't your thing

Looking for a laid back spot to tip a few back with your friends after a day at the Farm? Head over to the Black Rooster Pub (1919 L Street NW) and grab a table outside while the weather is nice. 

The Rooster has been around before some on you were even born and has been dubbed the Cheers bar of DC by local fans.

The Rooster boasts an extensive line of Irish whiskeys, scotches, vodkas and other quality spirits. The Rooster also offers good pub eats and runs daily/nightly specials. If you’re in the mood tonight, go for their Guinness Steak.

It's open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

And don't miss out on happy hour--the Rooster's generously lasts until 8 p.m.! Cheers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick read to get you over the hump

How to poo at work. Have you ever wondered about this? Wait, wait, before you shudder at my chosen topic and click away, consider the practicality of knowing what your options are. Every employee has encountered at least one of these uncomfortable, pardon the pun, (and potentially job-threatening) situations at work. But every good employee should know how to successful manage these for a smoother experience.

Read on...

The book, "How to Poo at Work" by Mats & Enzo, was a gift  from one of favorite friends (or perhaps he wanted to pass on the knowledge), who in his less unfortunate moments, should have had this in his back pocket for reference. It is aptly subtitled, "The golden rules of relieving yourself in the workplace--don't get caught out!"

I found the entries to be quite practical in solving many potential poo problems. For example:

  • There's not toilet seat
  • There's only one bathroom for 50 people
  • The toilet paper escapes from the stall
  • Your boss enters at the same time as you
  • Caught in the act: how do you reestablish your good name?
  • And a few dozen more real-life scenarios!

The authors have carefully crafted their expert opinion about each scenario, provided testimonials, listed potential dangers, and even judged the difficulty levels in executing the solution.

Get your hands on this book. And get on with your week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall, beer, and cherries jubilee

Happy Monday! And hello again Cube Farm: Please be pleasant this week; I promise I will try to stay calm and blog on.

Official Poster, Courtesy of 
I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Fall turned up nicely in Virginia (hooray that Mr. Weatherman was wrong about the rain!) and Oktoberfest started worldwide. For those who celebrated: cheers! And for those who still want to: you have until Oct. 7 before this festival ends! If you’d rather celebrate in the most authentic way, grab a plane ticket and a friend, and head out to the birthplace of Oktoberfest: Munich, Germany. You’ve already missed the traditional tapping of the keg by the mayor to open Oktoberfest, but you still have time to get into the festivities. If you go, expect a carnival atmosphere with lots of beer, food, music, and dancing! (Share your stories if you have been!)

Cherries Jubilee, Courtesy of
And if you want something to celebrate today: it's Cherries Jubilee Day! If you can’t get your hands on some cherries jubilee ice cream, try making an adult version of the real stuff:

  • can of cherry pie filling
  • cognac (or brandy)
  • vanilla ice cream
 Mmm, that’s a great way to start a Monday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Five Favorite Things Friday

Happy Friday! I can't believe it's already Sept. 21! Wow, I totally agree with the saying, "the days are long but the years are short!" It reminds me not to fuss too much on the turmoil and nonsense that happens every day at the Cute Farm and to focus more on the things that bring good cheer and make happy memories. So I hope you enjoy some of my favorite happy things! 

Favorite Travel Picture

I have a thing for sunrises this week! Here's another beautiful one I saw in Mykonos, Greece.

Sunrise Over Mykonos; View from Our Inn

Favorite Quote

“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” – Dalai Lama

Favorite Recipe

Bellini Surgelato (Frozen Peach Bellini), courtesy of Chef Alexis Starkey at Farm to Feast Catering. A Bellini cocktail is a mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach purée which originated in Venice, Italy.

I Made These Peach Bellinis!

Bellini Surgelato (Frozen Peach Bellini)
Serves 4

1/2 cup peach puree - chilled 
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 
1/4 cup peach schnapps 
1 cup crushed ice - more if necessary 
1 cup Prosecco - chilled - more reserved for topping off glasses 

Add sugar to peach puree and place in refrigerator to chill completely.

When your Prosecco and peach puree are completely chilled and you are ready to make drinks, add: peach puree, lemon juice, peach schnapps, crushed ice and Prosecco to blender. Pulse to combine.

Pour mixture into champagne flutes and top off with additional Prosecco. Garnish with thinly sliced peach wedges if desired. Enjoy with good company!

Favorite Story

Patrick--the deserted pit bull, found emaciated and almost dead--has fully recovered. Hooray Patrick!

Patrick, the Miraculous Pit Bull

Favorite Random

My favorite season is just around the corner. Come on Autumn!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No sew eyebrows

These are someone else's perfectly groomed eyebrows!
During my time away from the Cube Farm, I stopped by Dupont Threading (1314 18th Street NW) for a quick maintenance on the ol' eyebrows. For those who are still reading this (gasp!)... the method the beauticians use at Dupont Threading is, well, called threading. I prefer threading over plucking and waxing because it's quick and less painful. So what is threading? It's a quick (I was in and out in 10 minutes) and near-painless method of removing hair using thread! Dupont Threading defines it as "an ancient and traditional art of threading, a hair removal process that is fast, meticulous, and minimally invasive."

Wait, don't stop reading! Threading doesn't just groom your eyebrows, it can be used to remove unwanted hair almost anywhere. It's just not for women; men also can enjoy the same benefits. It's also a great method to use if you have sensitive skin. And, there's no hot wax burns! Ouch!

Have you tried it? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So thrifty

We did find time during our Colonial Beach trip to do a little shopping in the form of thrift shops and antique stores. My hubby is not really into shopping so I enjoyed this more than he did—but he did get into the spirit for a few minutes and walked away with an electrical wire stripper for two bux from the Red Barn.

I scored this authentic 1950s gold plated clutch/coin purse from Esco Limited for under ten bux:

And got a steal on these vintage liquor bottles along with a dozen one-of-a-kind books (a couple from the 1800s!) from McGinniss's Barn, located on Rt. 3, four miles east of U.S. 301 (tele: 540-775-7710). He has rooms and rooms and rooms full of furniture (seriously think some are from when the first president was in office), glassware, and a gazillion other unique finds. You won't be able to find this place using a web search (thanks to innkeeper Anne for the tip) so put this on your list. The nicest, most charming man by the name of Murray (I don't know how old he was, but he was definitely grampa old) runs this antiques shop—and only during the weekends. Happy hunting! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Are you ready to go?

Our trip to Colonial Beach, Va. was great. We didn't make any plans other than lodging and decided to just  go with the flow. I realized quickly that I wasn't going to have cell or wifi service. Which turned out to be fine and helped me unconnect for a couple of days.

Our route took us from Virginia into Maryland and then back into Virginia again. We crossed over the 1.7 miles long Nice Memorial Bridge into King George County and to the region known as the Northern Neck.

We were greeted by Anne, the innkeeper at the Bell House Bed and Breakfast—a Virginia Historic Landmark and National Historic Property and once the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell. She was a fantastic host the entire weekend—welcoming, spunky, and full of information.

We stayed in the Potomac River guest room which faced the widest part of the river and gave us spectacular views of the sunrise.

Potomac River guest room at the historic Bell Inn.
You don't even have to get out of bed to catch the sunrise.

I woke up at 6 a.m. to catch this wicked sunrise. Awesome.

Private pier across from the Bell Inn. It sits on the widest part
of the Potomac River.

And we never had a moment to be hungry!

Anne's Eggs Benedict

Anne's French Toast With Apricots

Are you thinking this was a weekend full of gluttony? Yes, I admit it was, but fortunately we also made a trip to George Washington's Birthplace—a national monument for America’s first president (born in 1732)—located just a short drive from Colonial Beach, Va. on Popes Creek. The birth house burned down on Christmas Day in 1779 and no longer exists except for the foundation. What stands on the plantation today is a home typical of that era and of his family’s economic status.

George Washington's Birthplace National Monument Facing Popes Creek

Sources of Dye in the Weaving House

Tools in the Blacksmith House

Weaving in Action

Dyed Yarn in the Weaving House
The property also is a working farm with a few pigs, a couple of cows, and real tobacco plants. We also visited the nearby beach where the ships would have come in and traded with the Washingtons. Our tour was a walking history lesson. I hope you go!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I sense a theme emerging

It’s my first week of this blog and you must think that I’m obsessed with eating. Yes, I am! My nickname in college was Hungry. No kidding. (Of course back then the calories burned off by me just breathing, but now decades later, it’s a little harder to offset my indulgences. More on my plans to combat this later.) I hope you don’t mind the copious amounts of food pictures that I plan to post. I’ll try to throw something inedible on this blog every once in awhile.

So, check out this burger my hubby ordered at Fat Freda’s in Colonial Beach, Va. It’s really ridiculous: two all beef patties tucked between three slices of fresh brioche, held together by a layer of cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and deli sliced ham. It was the size of a football—good if you like to gorge, bad if you’re watching your waistline. I sampled a couple of bites, of course, and it was fresh and juicy. My hubby finally finished it after frequent moments of silence; good thing he had two cold beers to wash it down. Needless to say, he wished he had ordered a smaller burger.

I tried the fish sandwich. It wasn't amazing but it did look good! It wasn't mashed up and pieced together to conform to the bun shape. You just never know what you're eating when what's between your bun fits perfectly.

I wish I could find Fat Freda’s website (tried and it was obsolete?) so you can see its entire menu but here’s what to expect if you go: popular eat-in or take-out restaurant offering soups, salads, wraps, and colossal burgers and sandwiches (the crab cake sandwich is a favorite among patrons and the cake itself is the size of a softball—with no fillers), long wait for (the scanty) service, nice staff. It has a good size patio—and free theatre style popcorn!

Have you been to Fat Freda’s? Let me know what you think!

Meatless Monday: Fail

I try on occasion to make Mondays a "Meatless Monday" but as I left the Cube Farm to run errands and search for lunch, a spot that has been on my radar for some time drew me in: Sala Thai on M Street NW. And my hope to go meatless all day failed. There are several Sala Thai locations around the DC area but this one is more like a take-out place rather than a full service lunch restaurant. (Think express buffet style.) This Sala Thai location used to be the Maoz falafel shop (I miss you!) which had a quick life in DC.

From the menu, you can choose combo options (pick your own two, three, etc., from the already prepared dishes stewing under the heat lamp) or you can order a la carte. I had been warned by some Farm colleagues that the serving sizes were generous and so I opted to go with just one option--the green chicken curry . Well, from this picture you may be able to tell that whether you order one--or three--options, you still get the same whopping amount. I guess it's left over green chicken curry lunch all week. Of course, until I get bored and leave the Farm in search of something else.

Oh, and what did I think of the green chicken curry? It was very savory and had a good balance of coconut milk (not too overwhelmingly creamy). The dish was full of chicken, chunks of purple Asian eggplant, and sliced green chilies. The only thing I wished it had was bamboo which is typical in green chicken curry. Next time, if I'm there on a Monday, I'll try their tofu and vegetables dish.

Have you tried this Sala Thai location? What did you think?

Hello Monday!

Hello Monday! It’s back to the Cube Farm and it’s time for me to get organized and ready for another week. I admit Mondays are tough, especially if I’m rolling off a busy weekend. But, I had such a nice two days in Colonial Beach that I’m feeling a little more refreshed than usual. It’s hard to not to take it back a pace when there’s no wifi or cell service. I have a ton of pictures to share and once I’m fully connected, I’ll upload them. Before I get ready to organize my day: let’s start out with fresh brewed coffee (thank you Cube Farm for the endless flow of Kuerig coffee), a recap of the news, and shuffle on my Pandora playlist. Have a great Monday!

P.S. The Bell House Bed and Breakfast was great. The sunrise from the front porch was stunning! More posts about them soon...

Friday, September 14, 2012

And we're off to the beach...

Colonial Beach, Va. Sunset (Photo courtesy of 
I love to explore new things, whether it be a new city, restaurant, people, or idea. So, after work today, we (the hubby and I) are dashing off to Colonial Beach, Va. for a much needed weekend of R and R. I had never heard of Colonial Beach until last week. I only came across it when I was researching bed and breakfasts within a couple of hours from Washington, D.C. I must have spent hours scouring the web for ideas, plotted numerous driving directions for the most efficacious trip route (if you have ever tried going over the Chesapeake Bay Bridges on a Friday, you will understand), and read several dozen reviews--before I discovered this hidden gem.

There's a fascinating history about Colonial Beach. It earned its moniker, "Playground on the Potomac," in the 19th century, and was once a very fashionable and go-to gambling destination. The town, nestled between the Potomac River and the Bay, is dotted with Victorian-style structures and is home to nearly 3,300 residents, according to the 2000 census. Also notable is the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell, which is now the Bell House Bed and Breakfast, which also is  THE place where we'll be staying this weekend. (TripAdvisor reviews ranked it #1 so that's more kudos!)

The Bell House Bed and Breakfast (Photo courtesy of
I'm looking forward to exploring this now sleepy town (sleepier than its old moniker implies) and the abundance of history which surrounds it. I have, however, that visitors are starting to come back. Oh, did I mention that it's designated as golf cart town? Yes, it's legal to drive your golf cart all over town! Check back; I'll post pictures of our trip.

Read more about Colonial Beach, Va.:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taylor Gourmet: Worth the Buzz?

It's too soon for me to proclaim that this is the best Italian hoagie shop in town only after one hoagie. But, it did have a lively atmosphere (crew was great), ample selections (not too many to be confusing and hold up the line), and outside seating (always a plus on a nice day). I ordered the Cherry Street hoagie (house roasted beef, arugula, cherry pepper garlic sauce, brie). It was tasty but not over the top. With all the other selections Taylor has, I probably wouldn't repeat it any time soon. If you go and you're in the mood for sharing like I was, try the appetizer/sides sampler. It comes with stuffed peppers (thumbs up), risotto balls, mozz sticks, and fried ravioli. So for now, yes, this place gives me a good buzz.

What's a po boy anyway?

During my quest for lunch outside of the Cube Farm yesterday, one of my accompanying colleagues asked what was a "po boy?" My quick response was: It's just another name for a hoagie or sub sandwich from the South, particularly associated with New Orleans. The answer seemed to satisfy both of us as we waited in line outside of New Orleans Po Boy Shop. I had watched numerous shows about food and surely at one time was given the true meaning of a po boy? But as I sat down to eat my Carolina BBQ pulled pork po boy, I started wondering about the history of my six inch sub sandwich. And, was what I was eating really a traditional po boy? Aren't traditional po boys filled with fried shrimp--or other forms of seafood?

What is the "real" definition of a po boy--its history and how it differentiates itself from other sub sandwiches? A search on the web provided bountiful answers but differed slightly from one source to another. In the end, it all came down to the bread. French bread to be exact. It's what defines the po boy and differentiates it from other sub sandwiches. Although typically known to be filled with fried shrimp, oysters, clams, and other types of seafood, most agree: you can fill it with just about anything. And about the name? The po boy got its name during a street car strike in New Orleans during the 1920s when two brothers provided inexpensive sandwiches of gravy and roast beef (what, not fried shrimp?) from the back of their restaurant to street car workers, often referring to these patrons as "poor boys." The name eventually was shortened to "po-boy." 

So, do I think my Carolina BBQ pulled pork po boy (moist and piled deep on top of red cabbage slaw, by the way) was indeed a traditional po boy? Technically yes; the French bread qualifies it. But next time, I think I'll opt for the fried shrimp. Or better yet, I could just head down to the upcoming annual Po Boy Festival and grab one!

More of the same but better

Another day at the Farm (hooray for Little Friday!). Things are running as usual and I'm looking forward to leaving the Farm for some fresh air and a new lunch spot. Today I am trying out another sub/hoagie shop. Yes, another one (it basically came down to their vegetarian options), but this is no ordinary hoagie shop--it's Taylor Gourmet. There's been a lot of buzz about this relatively new Italian-style, build-your-own gourmet hoagie shop; you may have even seen the President and House Speaker Boehner fisting one of these super subs in recent press.

The lines have been out the door at the 19th and M location since it opened its doors several weeks ago. Carefully selected artisanal cured meats? Check. Fine aged cheeses? Check. House roasted meats? Check. Not-your-standard-boring-vegetarian options? Check.

I'm on my way to join the corral and find out what the buzz is all about...

Tried Taylor Gourmet? Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lunch: New Orleans Po Boy Shop

Trying out a new place around the corner from the Cube Farm. It may be close to the Farm but it takes me far enough: New Orleans (figuratively speaking). It's a perfect day to sit outside, watch people go about their lives, sip on some cold ice tea, and chomp on an authentic po boy. (First photo courtesy of

Hello World!

Hello World! Today is the first day of this blog. I wanted to create this blog to remind myself (and hopefully others) that there's life outside of work (aka the Cube Farm). There's so much to learn, cherish, do, see, explore, create, and EAT. Don't expect anything too deep or profound--or a theme or consistency on this blog; this is just a place for me to rant, really! Now, time to leave the confines of these walls and go have lunch! Yum, I love eating!