D.C.

When I started considering colleges in my junior year of high school, my only real criteria was an urban campus. I thought I’d wind up at NYU, but the visit was traumatizing. New York was not for me. Let’s state the obvious here: that city is fucking enormous. I wanted something in a city, but, as a girl from the suburbs, I wasn’t ready for something quite so different. D.C. was my next stop, and it was kind of perfect. I mean, sure, it’s a city, but it’s a pretty small one. It just felt so much more comfortable than New York.

So I chose to go to GW based mostly on the location. Yes, it’s a great university that has other things to offer, but I didn’t really care about those things. As long as it had decent academics and was in the D.C. area, I was good.

I came to school incredibly sheltered. Suburbia will do that to you. I grew up in D.C., and I left a different person. GW played a big part in that. So did my friends. And my professors. But, mostly? It was living in that city. On my own. For the first time ever.

I moved back home after I graduated, and had no intention of going back to D.C. Really. I loved the city, but after four years I thought I’d soaked up all I could.

Well, I changed my mind. I found myself strangely nostalgic. Being back home was different. I didn’t want to live with my parents for the rest of my life (for obvious reasons), and, as much as I like Philly, I was craving something else. Plus, it was springtime, aka cherry blossom season. No, I’m serious, that was kind of the impetus for this whole thing. I added D.C. Craigslist to my job search rotation, and applied for (and received) a position that sounded amazing.

So, yeah, long story short, I’m going back to my old stomping grounds. It’ll be fun to experience the city in a completely different situation. And if I do eventually decide that D.C isn’t for me after all, that’s fine too. Nothing’s permanent. If this doesn’t work out, so what? I’m young, I can do whatever and try whatever I want. And I’m so excited to see what happens.

A (Very Exciting) List

1. I accepted a job offer

2. In Alexandria, Virginia

3. I have two weeks to wrap up my life in Philly and move to D.C.

4. I’m making banana pudding for Easter tomorrow

M&M Cookies

Last weekend was not my most productive. I spent the majority watching the entire first season of Laguna Beach on Netflix Instant before falling into a minor depression upon realizing the second season was not available. I’m not proud.

But I did manage to find the time to bake something for my grandmother’s birthday party on Sunday. Someone else had already offered to bring cake, so I went with cookies.

I used this recipe for M&M cookies, mainly because I haven’t had an M&M cookie in ages. Although, I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of M&M’s. I know. My sister used to love them, so we’d always have a giant Costco bag of M&M’s open in the pantry for her to snack on. I mean, I’m not saying I didn’t dip into the bag every once in a blue (M&M’s and Skippy Extra Chunky, amirite?), but they just weren’t my favorite. But the minis are a different animal entirely. Probably because they are just so tiny and adorable. I’m a sucker for cuteness.

The recipe is a variation of Cook’s Illustrated’s chocolate chip cookie. I attempted to make those once before with disastrous results thanks to a temperamental dorm room oven. I still can’t talk about it.

But lookit! No disasters here! And thank God, I don’t think my heart could take more disappointment after that Laguna fiasco.

These cookies are super simple to make–the dough came together in less than 15 minutes. I ended up making the dough the day before baking and storing it in the fridge overnight. I adjusted the baking time a bit (they took about 17 minutes), and they turned out beautifully. The outside edges were slightly crisp, but the center stayed soft and chewy thanks to the double-stacking technique. I may have a new go-to cookie recipe, y’all!

Hair Product PSA

My hair has been doing hellish things lately. Every cuticle is damaged, every end is split. I’ve taken to just pulling it up in a ponytail every day and trying to forget about it. But I’m pretty sure my cheerleader pony has jumped the shark. I am a grown-ass human adult, time for me to woman up and learn to do my hair like a normal.

Me being me, instead of dealing with the problem head on, I’m choosing to skirt the actual issue (haven’t had a professional haircut in at least five years) by covering it up. I’ve heard amazing things about Moroccanoil, but there is no way in hell I am spending $40 for a hair product. Luckily, there is always Target, my one true love.

I bought the above Organix version for like $7. Although, can we talk about the size of the box for a minute? Because it is at least two inches larger than the actual product. This seems like false advertising to me. Do not like. Yes, I know it says 3.3 ounces on the box, but…still. I feel duped.

Anyway, I had been using this product previously–

It sucks. Do not buy it. It made my hair feel really dirty and disgusting, like there was some sort of film on it. I will never be able to express the intense hatred I feel for this product, so I’m going to stop trying. But I haven’t used that devil potion since buying the Organix oil, and I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my hair. The split ends are still there in all their glory (guess I really will have to get a cut eventually), but everything looks smoother and shinier. I’ve actually worn my hair down down once or twice and haven’t recoiled in horror upon seeing my reflection in the bathroom mirror. One baby step closer to Kardashian hair (oh shut up, you know you want it too), aka WORTH THE $7.

[I’m very proud that I lasted the entire post without mentioning that this product is called ‘penetrating oil.’ Do with that what you will.]

Pecan Squares Are a Mardi Gras Thing Now

Lent starts tomorrow? I didn’t realize this until I started seeing King Cake everywhere. Why is King Cake even a thing? It looks disgusting. All those clashing sprinkles mixed together kind of make me want to hurl. They are offensive to the eye. I will not tolerate it.

In my earlier years, Lent meant wracking my brain for something to give up for the next 40 days. It couldn’t be anything I’d miss too dearly (so peanut butter was obviously out), but it also couldn’t be too easy (like that one year I told my parents I was going to stop talking to my little sister. I was a real treat.). I usually just declared chocolate off limits and called it good. Not like I ever worked that hard at it. To be honest, it just gave me an excuse to eat as many Reese’s eggs as possible on Easter Sunday.

Really, the most trying part of Lent was the fact that we couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. Meaning every dinner was either pizza or spaghetti, and every lunch was a tuna fish sandwich. Packed in my lunchbox with an icepack. Looking back, I probably should have told my parents I was giving up tuna, because that is just asking for foodborne illness.

Alas, my days of religious observation are long gone, and now the start of Lent is just another excuse to eat a lot and drink even more. Mardi Gras, son!

Now, I’ve never been to Mardi Gras. I’ve never even been to New Orleans. The closest I’ve been to New Orleans is watching “The Real World” and reading A Streetcar Named Desire no less than three times throughout my university career (for the record, still ambivalent). This is a true tragedy, as I really, really need authentic gumbo and beignets in my life.

But, well, gumbo entails making a roux. I don’t think I have the fortitude for that. And beignets require frying. Frying while drinking doesn’t seem advisable. What else is NOLA known for? Pralines, apparently. I don’t know, I saw it on Wikipedia and jumped all over that shit.

Problem. I don’t really like pralines that much. I mean, they’re pretty good, but they’re also tooth-achingly sweet and they involve boiling sugar, which requires a candy thermometer, which I do not have.

Next best thing? Pecan squares. No candy thermometer necessary, and they’re quick enough for my impatient ass, which is really saying something. I used this recipe, subbing dark brown sugar for the light brown. I didn’t have light brown. And is there really that much of a difference? Ima say no. I also added half a teaspoon of vanilla. I don’t know. I add vanilla to everything. Oh, and I waited way more than 30 minutes to cut them because I didn’t want them to crumble or otherwise turn ugly. Ugly food is just the worst (hence the irrational King Cake hatred).

Now, they may not be the most authentic Mardi Gras food, but, um, they’re good, and I don’t care. The subtle saltiness of the crust helps to cut the sweetness of the pecan filling a smidge, but they’re still super sweet. Like baby pieces of pecan pie without the enormous pain in the ass that is making pie crust. Ugh. That would be far too much effort for a holiday that celebrates flashing strangers.

Not content to just eat myself into a food coma, I also looked up classic New Orleans cocktails. The first thing that popped up? A HURRICANE. I’m being serious. This seems inappropriate on many levels, but being the good lush I am, I will not question it.

So in honor of Mardi Gras, I will be getting bombed on hurricanes, eating pecan squares, and trying to keep my shirt securely on my person. Sounds about right.

Win Friends with Brownies

I suck at making friends. I mean, how do people even do that? When you’re out of school things just get real awkward real fast. This is problematic, because last Friday I had plans to grab drinks with a friend who was bringing another friend I’d never met. And my mind went all OMG NEW PERSON AHHH WHAT DO I DO?! I don’t get out much? I figured I’d do the only logical thing: buy their love with my excellent baking skillz. Who doesn’t love brownies?

 

I ripped this recipe out of an issue of Cooking Light a few weeks ago. The mag was listing their best chocolate recipes, and these phenom-looking brownies ranked number one. YES these will help me make a new friend, THANKS COOKING LIGHT!

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, except I used less walnuts because I ran out. Walnuts are the least awesome part of brownies anyway. I also added a few extra pinches of salt. If we’re going to be friends, it’s imperative that you like salty things. So this was just helpful. A TASTE of things to come (so punny! HI, I’M CARRIE BRADSHAW. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to run in heels like she can? I can’t do that. I can barely even walk in heels anymore, which makes me sad all day. But we’ll just talk about that later I guess…).

I also added a packet of instant coffee. I’ve heard coffee brings out the intensity of chocolate, so I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Just had to show you that price comparison.  Frugality at its finest.

The recipe calls for a bake time of 19 minutes. Um, no. I kept them in the oven for 40 minutes and they probably could have gone for at least another five. So there’s that. Also…20 servings? HAHA. I had a hearty laugh at that one, as I got a whopping nine brownies out of the pan. 20 seems borderline ridiculous unless you’re going for some kind of miniature theme. Like a tiny foods party? That would work. Also, that sounds like a party I would enjoy.

The brownies were excellent, and decidedly un-’light’ tasting. Although I guess my double portion size kind of negates that, huh? Whatever. The point is: YUM. And the bribery totally worked. New friend and new go-to brownie recipe. Success.

HIGH FIVE

OH HAY! That’s me high fivin’ ya. Please note the turtleneck. Definitive proof that my blog name is not a misnomer. Schoolmarm 4 lyfe!