Fun things to do in DC (December 2013)

4 Dec

winter concert with very pregnant singerSo folks are out doing the Nutcracker, Revels, Christmas tree lightings, Santa runs, ugly sweater parties, and the like.

That’s sweet, but to me it feels a little heavy after a while. So I pick and choose carefully the Christmas-themed activities I do with my kiddo, and focus on the comfort and joy.

So no obligatory eggnog. No frenzied shopping. Just real lifewith an extra special dose of sparkle.

With the kids

Dec. 4 & 11: Intro to Hand Sewing for Children ($)
Dec. 6: Heurich House Open House and craft market
Dec. 7: Swedish Christmas Bazaar
Dec. 14: Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Dec. 16 & 17: Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker ($)
Dec. 29: Mariachi Flor de Toloache
Through Jan. 1: Zoolights
DC-area skating rinks—from DCist

With friends or on your own

Dec. 4: Ballet Hispanico and Timba Street
Dec. 5: “The Sound of Music” Live Viewing Party
Dec. 6: Mingle at the Museum: A DIY Holiday ($)
Dec. 7: Movie: “Punk in Africa”
Dec. 7: Food Writing: A Practical Introduction ($)
Dec. 15: Baby Loves Disco ($)
Dec. 19: Listen Local First
Yoga: The Art of Transformation

Date night

Dec. 5: Philips After 5 ($)
Dec. 6: Dynamic Duos: The Kennedys & The Nields ($, NoVa)
Dec. 11: Sara Bareilles and Gavin DeGraw ($)
Dec. 13: Spanish Harlem Orchestra: Salsa Navidad ($)
Dec. 13: Friday Night Eclectic: San Fermin ($)
Dec. 15: Lauryn Hill ($)
Dec. 27 & 28: Gogol Bordello ($)
DC’s 10 Best Fireplace Bars & Restaurants—According to DCist

Vegan for the holidays

27 Nov

potatoes, cabbage, eggplantIn the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to declare my thanks to all the vegan bloggers out there who have provided me with so much inspiration in the past year. I’ve learned so much, and thanks to you all, going vegan has been a walk in the park!

(On the other hand: My omnivore kiddo has asked me if we’re going to have a vegan Thanksgiving. I have assured her that, although there will be none on mine, there will be turkey on her plate. [Insert Serenity Prayer here....])

We will spend it with family friends, who will do the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and I’ll bring my vegan contributions, hoping to wow them all.

I plan to bring one or two of the following, in addition to a nice bottle of white wine:

More vegan holiday recipes

Related posts

How vegan cooking is like poetry

20 Nov

spring onionsWhen you decide to write a poem in a certain schema, it restricts you–but it also frees you. You’ll find that when you need to find a three-syllable word with a particular meaning, you might come up with a word that fulfills your needs in an unexpected way.

Similarly, the fact that vegan cooking is “limited” to plants has challenged me to expand my repertoire.

For example, at the prompting of Alicia Silverstone’s cookbook, I needed to find some umeboshi plums. So I discovered a Japanese grocery store in the city. This little store is crammed with imported goods, including several brands of pickled plums at a much lower price than any other store in town.

And while looking for the plums, I encountered various kinds of dried seaweeds, Japanese vegetables, condiments, and so much more. I left the store with even more ideas and new foods to try.

Looking at my list of recipes to try, I feel like I’ll never, ever run out of ideas.

Related posts

Cranberry pomegranate relish (Virtual Vegan Potluck)

16 Nov

cranberries and other fruitYou know that cranberry relish that comes in (and tastes like) a can? Even as a kid, my jaw would drop when people slid that stuff out of the can, plonked it onto a plate, and actually put it on the Thanksgiving table…to serve to their guests…with the shape of the can, ridges and all, clearly–nay, proudly–displayed for all to see.

What the hell is up with that!!!???

Here is my simple remedy. It’s bright, it’s chunky, and it tastes not like metal, but like sweet/tart fruit. Serve with brown and wild rice, and your favorite chunky main dish (like roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts).

Cranberry Pomegranate Relish

  • 2 cups (or, really, one bag) fresh cranberries
  • juice from 1 large organic orange
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup sugar or agave, to taste
  • peel from 1 large organic orange, finely grated
  • peel from 1 organic lime, finely grated
  • 1 big pomegranate
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped

Put the cranberries, orange juice, and 1/3 cup sugar or agave into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over a low flame until slightly soft, about 10 minutes. While they’re still cooking, mash the cranberries with a potato masher until they’re no longer round, but are still chunky. Add the grated orange and lime peel, and more sugar to taste. Cook under a very low flame another 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, extract the nubbins—formally known as “arils”—from the pomegranate. (The Pomegranate Council can show you how to do this without making a mess.)

Turn off the heat. Mix in the pomegranate nubbins/arils. Spoon into a serving dish and chill in the fridge for a couple hours. Sprinkle walnuts on top before serving.

cranberry pomegranate relish

Related posts

Find more Virtual Vegan Potluck recipes

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Previous VVP recipe:
Southern Asparagus Casserole by VegCharlotte 
Next VVP recipe:
Balsamic roasted beet rosemary cashew cheese phyllo tart by Keepin’ It Kind

My quest for the perfect workout continues

15 Nov

running shoesIn my quest to get from couch to 5k, I’ve been scouting out workouts and gyms. I did an okay  Crossfit workout at one box. I did a fun bootcamp class at another box, which I plan to add to my (every other) weekend routine. Meanwhile, now that it’s chilly out I’ve eased back into the heated yoga circuit (my comfort zone, aaaaah).

I also went to a small gym that offers outdoor group running workouts. It was revealed, during the course of an initial one-on-one running workout, that I am not yet ready to run with the pack. Instead, the trainer suggested I do some strength training (sounds good), and that I do some one-on-one training. Probably twice a week for a month. Maybe 10 sessions. Even he stuttered a little when he told me the price for it.

Here’s what I’m not going to do: Pay $1000 for 1 month of one-on-one training.

That’s not happening, obviously. Maybe I’ll come back to them when I’m ready for the group runs. But until then, I’ll get my strength training at the weekend bootcamp class and my couch-to-5k elsewhere.

And just when I needed an antidote to this personal trainer nonsense, I found a great post that lays out a no-nonsense, do-it-yourself approach to getting back into running. This is how I started running way back in the day. And just what I needed to remember.

Related posts

Enter the running workout

6 Nov

rock creek running pathSo, remember how I was flirting with Crossfit? Well, after one intro class and a little reflection, I realized that:

  1. I don’t want to spend $200 a month on getting fit.
  2. I might not want to spend every lunch hour in the gym trying to get my money’s worth.
  3. I want to spend more time outdoors than indoors, particularly on sunny days.
  4. I need variety or I get bored.

Then I found this place that offers weight training workouts (don’t call it Crossfit) and outdoor running workouts (including weekend runs on park trails around the city) plus yoga (more like yoga-for-athletes than spiritual awakening-type yoga, but still).

It’s not right around the corner from my office, but I think it’s close enough. And I can pay as I go, so I’m not locked into (or inside) a gym. And I can still check out these yoga hikes I’ve been flirting with, and squeeze in my more spiritual-style yoga classes on down (dog) days.

I talk a mean game; now I just have to lace up my shoes and start sweating–wish me luck!

Related posts

Fun things to do in DC (November 2013)

1 Nov
runners in the Marine Corps Marathon

2013 Marine Corps Marathon

With the kids

Nov. 2: Day of the Dead Family Day
Nov. 3: Performing Indonesia festival
Nov. 3: Drumblebee
Nov. 9: Flamenco en Familia
Nov. 9 & 10: Family Celebration of Tlingit Culture
through Nov. 13: Kids Euro Festival
Nov. 14: National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellows concert
Nov. 23 & 24: Portrait Story Days: Pocahontas
Nov. 30 & 31: Portrait Story Days: Sitting Bull
Portraits of Planet Ocean: The Photography of Brian Skerry
American Indian Heritage Month at the Smithsonian

On your own or with friends

Nov. 1: “Star Wars” (dubbed in Navajo)
Nov. 5: Talk with photographer Mary Ellen Mark
Nov. 6: Cathy Fink in concert, with Brad Kolodner and Amadou Kouyate ($)
Nov. 8-9: Czech Christmas market at the embassy
Nov. 14: Second Thursday/Torpedo Factory (NoVa)
Nov. 14: Lecture by Copenhagen’s chef Rene Redzepi ($)
Nov. 14-17: Museum Shop Around ($)
Nov. 15: An Evening with Amy Tan ($)
Nov. 17: Make Your Own All-Natural Household Products ($)
Nov. 22: Afro Blue concert
through Dec. 22: Warby Parker store on wheels

Date night

Nov. 1: Union Market Drive-In: “Evan Almighty”
Nov. 6: Handi-Hour at the Renwick ($)
Nov. 6: InnovATE Food Fest ($)
Nov. 7: Phillips After 5 ($)
Nov. 8: Union Market Drive-In: People’s choice
Nov. 8-17: Fuego Flamenco ($)
Nov. 9: Shenandoah Uncorked Wine Festival (Va./$)
Nov. 15: Smithsonian at 8: Remix ($)
Nov. 16: Living Social Glow-in-the-Dark 5K/Dance party ($)
Nov. 23: National Philharmonic: Verdi’s Requiem ($)
Catch a movie