Pandora Confessions

I don’t know about you, but I love Pandora! I definitely go through phases with it though. Some months I use it more frequently than others, and that’s based on when I remember to use it, and if it fits into my routine. I typically use it when I’m doing boring things on my computer and I need some energy from music. Or I’ll throw it on when I’m getting dressed, or cooking at home and I need some music. I was talking to a friend recently about Pandora and our stations and I realized that I have really quirky stations. Here’s my list:

  • New Kids on The Block
  • Today’s Hits
  • Today’s Country
  • Wicked
  • In the Heights
  • Rock the Boat
  • Toni Braxton
  • Ronettes
  • Cher
  • Celine Dion
  • Sha Na Na
  • Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

What a list. Right? I realize that it’s a little random but my justification is that I love to listen to the radio and keep up with current music, but Top 40 radio stations can get old fast because they seem to play the same 20 songs over and over again. So I look to Pandora for a little fun variety that will bring up some older songs that I loved back in the day, but still be not so crazy that it would distract me from work. This list gives me a great combination of oldies, divas, and Broadway, plus a little pop here or there. You can make fun of my Cher station all you want, but I challenge you to have a bad day after hearing one of her songs.Cher

What are your guilty pleasures on Pandora?

The Summer Salad

As you might have picked up, I recently moved to the DC area. I’m living in Arlington and working in the city. This is definitely a big change for me because I’ve never spent an extended period of time in the DC area. Everyday I’m learning new things about the area, but I wanted to share my favorite thing so far: the salads. I know this is a little random and perhaps unexciting to many people, but this is a luxury I have not experienced yet.
When I say salads, I mean the several great salad fast food places they have here like Chop’t and Sweet Green. I realize that these places are pretty common in metropolitan areas these days, but they’re relatively new to me. Having lived in Williamsburg, central Connecticut, and Lewisburg, PA in the last three years, I didn’t really get exposed to the trendiest new restaurant chains.
So last summer I raved about the Whole Foods salad bar, but this takes salads to a new level. For those unfamiliar with these places, it’s not like they’re re-inventing the fast food wheel, they’re just doing it with salad. The restaurants typically have about eight or so salads on their menu. They are usually a combination of traditional options like a version of a Ceaser, something kind of Greek, a southwestern option, etc. And then you have the option to make your own where you can pick a certain number of veggies, protein, crunchy things; whatever you want.
I typically go with different options depending on the specific restaurant. For example, Sweet Green is a little more earthy/organic and I love the “Spicy Sabzi” which is a combination of kale and spinach, spicy quinoa, spicy broccoli, bean sprouts, carrots, basil, roasted tofu, and I substitute dried cranberries because I don’t like the beets. And the dressing is Siracha and a carrot vinaigrette. Don’t you just feel healthier reading that description!Sweet Green
The Sweet Green is near my apartment (and conveniently on my walk back from the gym), but Chop’t is in the city just a few blocks from my office. I usually get the “Vegetarian Powerhouse” when I’m at Chop’t. It includes spinach and romaine, edemame, broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, walnuts, dried cranberries, apples, and a “spa” balsamic vinaigrette.chopt
Plus the closet food option to my office, Devon and Blakely, has a great make your own salad option that is perfect for grabbing a quick lunch at work. The make your own option is always a little stressful for me because I never know what to choose, but I usually go with spinach, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, edemame, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Pretty basic, lots of veggies and a little crunch.
So basically, I have turned into a rabbit here in DC and I’m loving it. I’m trying to find some moderation because it’s not always the most economical option, and I kind of wonder if I will burn out on salads. But right now, things are lean and green.
What are your go-to Summer meals? Do you like ordering from the menu or are you a make-your-own fan?

The Tao of Martha

I read another book! I’m on a roll! That’s two summer! (I realize that I am the only person my age who considers this a legitimate accomplishment, I would provide an excuse to avoid judgment but I am fresh out of excuses for this one)Tao of Martha
Anyway, this book had my name all over it for two reasons: A) I live for Martha Stewart, she is the ultimate, and B) I read something by Jen Lancaster last summer and loved it. Lancaster has a series a memoires about various portions of her life that revolve around certain themes or challenges. In this book she is in the process of rebounding from a particularly challenging year and makes a new year’s resolution to follow the “tao of martha” to both build some skills and restore some self purpose. I’m all about this.
The style of writing is so relatable to me because I feel like she’s talking to me like we’re best friends. I think if we met each other we would have plenty to talk about because we watch all the same shows, have similar personal priorities, and we are both firmly in Camp Martha (not to be confused with Camp Oprah). I love that she divides women in Camp Martha and Camp Oprah. Oprah’s people are about living your best life and having pajama parties with your best friends. Martha’s people, on the other hand, are more goal oriented. They focus on accomplishments. She points out that Martha doesn’t have a bathrobe. When she wakes up in the morning, she immediately gets dressed for the day. I love it! I’m the same way! (full disclosure, I have a bathrobe, but I never wear it in the morning, I either immediately shower and get dressed for work, or get right into my workout clothes)
So Lancaster spends the whole year working through various areas of Martha’s domestic empire from broadening her cooking repitoire, to working in her garden, to planning the perfect party, to re-organizing her kitchen cabinets, to re-decorating her guest room. Not only does the experience broaden her own set of capabilities, she learns a lot of lessons of efficiency and perserverance in the process. She doesn’t keep a strict schedule and her projects kind of eb and flow based on her moods throughout the year, but she ends up finding a lot of value in the exercise overall. She stuck to her resolution for the full year and ended up with a much cleaner, more efficient household and life when all was said and done. Another reason to bow down to the all knowing Ms. Martha Stewart.
In the process of unpacking and setting up my new apartment, I have had a few occasions to consult Martha myself. Here are some of the fruits of that consultation: my picture hanging. It’s not quite perfect, but I think its damn