Thursday, February 19, 2009

neighborhood love.

I have been feeling a LOT of malaise with my apartment lately - for instance, right now I want to rearrange all my furniture and paint all the walls, and yet certain built-ins and a supposed no painting policy are getting in the way of that.

So while I'm feeling bored with my abode, I have to remind myself that there is a lot of awesomeness in my neighborhood, my dear Cathedral Hill. Three examples.

1. Mango Thai Restaurant

(photo courtesy of their website)

This space popped sometime in late summer, I think, and I was taken aback when I ran by. What used to be a sad, tiny looking thai place now had people inside, tables outside, fancy lights, and sidewalk heaters? And yet it still took me months to actually eat there. Yes, the food is tasty, especially the super fresh spring rolls, beautifully presented. They don't have a liquor license, so it's BYOB! A perfect date scenario would be as such: spring evening, walk from my place to Solo Vino, tell them we're going to eat Thai food, please recommend a good bottle? Then we would continue to saunter on down Selby (I'll be wearing a skirt, boots, and carrying an umbrella just in case), share some Pad Kee Mow and Panana curry, drink some wine, and stare into each others eyes dreamily.

2. The Happy Gnome


The Happy Gnome has such a fabulous beer list, the only disappointment is that they might have already run out of your favorite by the time you decide. The Gnome has also been friendly to me lately, giving me free beer on my birthday, and also many free samples of scotch from probably the best bartender ever. (Hint: go upstairs.) In fact, that imaginary date we started earlier? Let's stop here next.

3. Moscow on the Hill

maruysa gold

It is a shame that I have not eaten Russian food here yet, instead I have only imbibed on martinis, cocktails, and most recently caramel flavored vodka (free birthday shot, surprisingly tasty and smooth). But really, the martinis are great and not ridiculously priced. The decor is not nearly as chic as Mango Thai, but they have a lovely, leafy patio for those warm summer days. And hey, if that date is STILL going well, we could always stop here. Or save it for another date. There are so many options.

Wow, this really makes me want spring. And cute dates. And dresses. SIGH.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I turn 27 tomorrow. I turn 27 tomorrow and I still carry my belongings to work in a backpack. It is not cute. It is sort of useful, in that it has various pockets for things like laptops and pens, but it is not cute. It's easier on the shoulders when carrying heavy stuff, but all I carry most days is my lunch and a few other papers. It's also decidedly not professional, but I'm not sure this really matters when people think it's worthwhile to complain about not being able to wear jeans to work.

[An aside, but I abhor the word professional when used as a noun. "I am a young professional." Turn-off.]

So here I am, ready to make the big bag switch to a big bag. Only past shopping experiences have shown that I am very picky when it comes to bags. I don't like excessive buckles, or weird textures, or anything too shiny. To make the whole process even harder, I wanted something big enough to fit papers, a lunch, and preferably with some separate compartments so there's some internal organization.

These bags exist, they do. The problem is that they all look something like this:

Fossil Executive Top Zip Tote

I mean, really. If I can barely tolerate the word professional, do I really want a bag that's called executive? No. I could wear this to work if I wore pantsuits and pumps every day, but thank god, I don't.

So off I went to other outlets. There were some contenders, but I had a really tall order to fill. (I also didn't really want to spend $200.)

the annie leather bag

xl tote shopping bag (sold)

As I looked at my options that were okay, but not perfect, I kept thinking back to that Target bag I spied a few weeks ago. Large. Simple. Cheap. I finally just bought it, knowing that it could be returned. But I tell you, it is growing on me.

bag frontbag

I like that it has convertible straps (good for biking!), and it is nice and roomy for all sorts of things. It does have a divider and one internal pocket, but nothing else to help organize everything in such a cavernous space of a bag. That worries me a bit. But for $23, it's really not bad.

Anyway, if any of you shopping savvy folks have other ideas, let me know.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

smashed chickpea salad, and variations.

A few weeks ago I came across the recipe for smashed chickpea salad on the Smitten Kitchen, and I was like, HEY! Hummus without having to use a food processor! Brilliant! So I made some, stuffed it in a pita with spinach and ate it for lunch. Yum!

[As an aside, this has been my new go-to food blog. I'm not sure how I missed it for so long.]

Then last week I had extra cilantro and felt like using it. (Why did I have cilantro? Oh, because I was making another smitten kitchen recipe instead of watching the super bowl a few days earlier.) Instead of using chickpeas, I just used a can of black beans, lime juice, olive oil, and the cilantro of course.

beans and green
(It looked better pre-smashing. I smeared it on a tortilla and heated it up with pepper jack cheese.)

This weekend I roasted red peppers without any idea of what to do with them. The answer became clear sometime today:

smashed chickpeas and roasted red peppers

Smashed chickpea salad (yes, AGAIN) on a pita with roasted red peppers. SORT OF like pizza, though not really. Yummy, though.


Monday, February 09, 2009

on cleanliness, and trying.

I grew up in a slightly messy household, though one that certainly aspired to be clean based on how often my mom told me to "find my floor." ("It's right there!" I would respond, snobbishly.) My room was pretty much always dirty, and it was always a point of contention. Yet at some time after moving out, I got better at cleaning. Not great, but better.

I firmly believe that messiness or neatness is mostly a byproduct of being bothered by the mess. Neat people will go nuts if a single extra credit card bill sits on the desk. Messy people will think nothing of the three foot pile of clothes in the corner of the bedroom. I'm somewhere in the middle, but I'm trying to become one of those people who becomes so incensed by clutter and messiness that I am driven to clean everything up straight away! I will no longer settle with having my window air conditioner sit on the floor of my living room for the entire winter. Clothes will be put away in a timely manner. This cookie recipe that has been sitting on my desk since December will find a new home!

This is all part of my general apartment improvement plan, which was mostly inspired by reading a bunch of old Domino magazines at the Y. I've lived here a while. Some things need changing. Or just cleaning.

First accomplishment: Covered that stupid old pillow. (it used to be clouds. hello, college!) In the process I learned how to make buttonholes. Folks, there is no stopping me now!

new pillow cover

Stay tuned...