Monday, June 27, 2016

Summertime in Norfolk

Summertime in Norfolk is our eternal season — one unending sunset over the water, a sustained laugh across the months of Cancer and Leo, the taste of oysters and craft beer and salt and love always a lick away on our upper lips.

It's especially easy to be happy in Norfolk in the summer and to feel grateful for our fair city. For those of you new in town or a native always looking for that next great NFK experience, I've made a list of ways to get the most out of this summer here in the Mermaid City.

The first 25 were published last week. Here are the rest:

26. Behold the majesty of a Hampton Roads thunderstorm over the battleship Wisconsin from the top of the Plume St. parking garage.

27. Breathe in deep and enjoy the sights (and smells!) of the Norfolk Botanical Garden on its tram ride.

28. Learn about sustainable shorelines at the city's free Public Wetlands Education Seminar on July 14. You might just help save Norfolk for future generations of summer lovers.

29. Taste the best of the sea by ordering any of the oyster dishes from A.W. Shucks. I’ve actually done this at the Sunset Grill in Norfolk, during the summer, in the form of an oyster and brie appetizer. Good stuff, but I’ve come to realize I may be allergic to raw oysters. My face has turned red and hot, and my lips have puffed up to Angelina Jolie-proportions. Which, I find to be a big bummer, because I actually liked the raw oysters I’ve had.

30. Check out the latest shows at Work | Release and Glass Wheel Studio, then take yourself on a self-guided tour of the dozens of pieces of public art in the NEON. #NFKARTCITY

31. Toast to good friends with Can Night at Crackers ... underneath the giant scrabble board at Coelacanth ... with a steampunk vibe at Brick Anchor Brew House ... at the new kid on the block in Park Place, Rip Rap Brewing ... on the back deck of Greenies ... Crackers?? I love that place! It’s a really nice establishment where the wait staff there is knowledgeable about the appetizers they serve there and treat everyone well, no matter that you have in your glass. Greenie’s? Not so much. The food is your standard beach bar fare, and you really need to be a drinker with a dick between your legs to get a waitress to notice you. Since I neither drink nor have a dick to show off, I tend to be ignored there unless my husband speaks up for me.

32. Experience Norfolk on two wheels with Cindy Lou's Saturday morning bike rides, starting off at East Coast Bicycles in OV, and ending up at brunch. We tend to go riding around the Ocean View area of Norfolk fairly regularly, but usually in the evenings. As for brunch, I’d recommend The Public House in Ghent.

33. Teach our children well by volunteering with the United for Children program. Looking for an educational place to volunteer? Go to the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach and work in the whale and dolphin sight seeing department. I got to see humpback whales while on those trips as a docent, and it really changes your view on our ocean out here.

34. Take it easy on Sunday morning with The Team America at 80/20's brunch.

35. Go to Cure in Freemason and get an iced coffee, then stroll along the historic cobblestones in one of America's most resilient cities.

36. Fear no judgment while you dance like wild summer rain to live music at the Cutty Shark.

37. Live Zen, Norfolk. Sunset yoga happens on Wednesday nights at the Pagoda pier with Bhav Brigade and pop-up meditation classes also happen at Slover Library and Stockely Gardens.

38. Find a kayak and explore The Hague for a fun today and a taste of the watery Norfolk of tomorrow.

39. Stand on Willoughby Spit and remember the morning in the 1660s when that plot of land appeared, delivered by storm, much to the surprise of Lady Willoughby.

40. Laugh along with Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from "Parks and Recreation") and Megan Mullally (Karen from "Will & Grace") on Aug.14 at Chrysler Hall. I've seen "Wicked," Gabriel Iglesias and John Mellancamp here. Great place for smaller shows.

41. See the bustling ports of Hampton Roads and learn about our nautical history on the Rover.

42. Acquiesce to those island vibrations with Nature's Child's regular Monday sets at Scotty Quixx.

43. Buy a copy of the meaty Sunday edition of The Virginian-Pilot, turn the phone off for 45 minutes and dig into the newspaper while enjoying the Beatles at Fair Grounds.

44. Grab a GIANT slice from Benny Damato's on Granby and take it to Town Point Park on a non-festival day. It's our park every day, all year, after all.

45. Build something with your own two hands at 757 Makerspace, where they offer classes for both adults and children.

46. Get hyped with the Norfolk State marching band at the home kickoff on Sept. 3.

47. Decide school will be in for summer. Fall classes at Tidewater Community College begin Aug. 22. Oh wow, I already have a fall class scheduled! I’m going to take the introductory glassblowing class in Norfolk!

48. Lower your blood pressure on an evening stroll along Mayflower Road in Colonial Place as the moonlight flickers off the Lafayette River.

49. Get down with elephants — and the Deloreans — at ZooGrooves on Aug. 27. If you’re in the 757, then you aren’t really a local then. Go see and hear them play. You will be transported right back into the 80’s! While a trip to the Virginia Zoo is great, I’ve been there before and prefer to visit just to see the animals. I’ve been there for special events and just didn’t find it very enjoyable.

50. Manifest the Norfolk of your dreams by supporting the local businesses that give our city its unique personality. Whether it's a burger at LeGrand, a turnover from the Bakehouse at Chelsea, a cold beer at the Ocean View Pier, or something nutritious and delicious from Green House Kitchen, visiting local businesses is always in good taste. My favorite local businesses are East Coast Bicycles, Ocean View Hardware and the Book Exchange.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chili Mayo/28 Recipes Down

Okay, so this is just a weird little addition to my latest obsession with trying to cook everything that Sam the Cooking Guy has published in two of his cookbooks. If you actually read my drivel here, then thanks for hangin' with me, but you know that sometimes I go off on a tangent. Like, sometimes, I need to make something from his show that's not in the books so I have to go find it online.

This is one of those times.

The other night, I was watching a never before seen rerun of "Sam the Cooking Guy" on our local cable access station. It was one where Sam was tailgating at a football stadium, presumably the Chargers stadium in San Diego. I looked for a clip online of it, and couldn't find it. I couldn't even find the recipe on his website. But I'm going to post it here anyway, because all I'm posting is just a small part of the finished recipe.

Sam made a soy marinated mushroom and Swiss cheeseburger, large enough to feed like 4-8 people. He mixed some mayo and some chili sauce (the bottle looked like Sriracha sauce, specifically, the kind with the rooster), and then spread that on the bun.

We were making BLT's today for lunch, and I decided to whip up some of that same sauce. Instead of Sriracha, I had some sweet chili sauce. That's all it was: equal parts of mayo and the sauce.

What did I learn from this recipe?
I've used this saying before, and it applies here today: "Taste so good, make you wanna slap yo'mama!" Holy hell...you know what I learned? I learned you can mix chili sauce with damn near anything and it'll taste like heaven!

It was so good that Shane wanted some for his sandwich, so I had to make up another container of it to leave in the frig for a little while for other stuff to try it with. :)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pasta With Tomatoes and Marscarpone/27 Recipes Down

Tonight's supper was another one from Just a Bunch of Recipes, with some truly Italian pasta shells I picked up from an olive oil store in Virginia Beach.

I've never cooked with marscapone before, and it took going to two different grocery stores out here to find it. However, living out here in the East Coast gives us an advantage when it comes to grocery shopping that we didn't have in the midwest: there are more people from different countries living out here, so we have a lot more specialty grocery stores out here, and more international grocery items to choose from. :) Suck it, Iowa! Mwuhahahahahahaha!

What did I learn from this recipe?
I had to try a spoon of the marscapone before I added it to my sauce. I have had it baked in phyllo shells by a friend, but I didn't know what it tasted like alone. I was surprised that it didn't taste more like a goat cheese, because that's what I was expecting.

That being said, I loved this recipe. I'm going to start keeping that in my freezer so I can add some to any kind of tomato-based sauces. Shane really liked it too and said it was probably one of the best sauces he's had so far.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Mini Bucket List for the Summer


On June 21, Jesse Scaccia, a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot, wrote an article called, “50 ways to fall in love with Norfolk this summer.” It’s actually a two-part article, but the second half hasn’t been published yet. To me, this sounded like a challenge to complete a mini, local bucket list. Challenge accepted, Hampton Roads! 

I’m going to include the text of the article here, because you’re only allowed a few free articles per month from Pilot online. And if you’ve already used them up, at least you can still see it here.
-------------------------------------------------------------
It’s happy season in Hampton Roads – summer.

Here are 50 ways – in two installments – to ensure you find joy in our sweet city on the water.
Save this article. Tape it to the fridge. See how many you can get through and notice how light you feel come fall.

1. Watch the diverse downtown set go by from a window seat at Field Guide while enjoying one of their “adult slushies.”
2. Plan a beach day in Ocean View, where the crowds are thinner than at the Oceanfront. It’s great for kids who are too small for the bigger waves of the Atlantic. We’ve done this on a regular basis, because like Jesse said, the crowds are thinner this time of year. However, when tourist season ends, I prefer the Oceanfront.
3. Catch one of Norfolk’s epic sunsets from the Hague footbridge and instantly fall in love.
4. Dance the night away at Latin social nights at the Mambo Room – because summer is the time for movement and feeling sexy. Salsa until 1 a.m. Fridays.
5. Play with one of the adoptable pups at the Norfolk SPCA. They sure would love a walk – it gets lonely inside.
6. Kick back and enjoy live music from some of the best bands in Tidewater at the Hermitage Museum’s Sunsets on the River. What a view, I’m telling ya.
7. Wear your angel wings, kilt, glitter, face paint and anything else that will make you feel like you’re in a Shakespearean wonderland for one of the most magical weekends of the year – the Mid-Summer Fantasy Festival in Town Point Park, July 29 – 31.
8. Travel back to the ‘80s. Generic Theater is putting on “Heathers: The Musical” this summer.
9. Harness the wind! Get your U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification through Sail Nauticus. I’m playing a little loose with this one. I don’t care about getting keelboat certification, but we did purchase some kayaks and got them registered for Norfolk and Suffolk already. In fact, we had them out on the water this last weekend.
10. Party on the streets of Norfolk at First Fridays downtown.
11. Get your licks in with an ice cream cone at Doumar’s. Well, duh! J
12. Think healthy and refreshing eating with one of the acai bowls at Zeke’s. Just $5 for a small.
13. Take the ferry to Portsmouth and grab lawn seats for a show at the Pavilion. Hold hands and feel the night rise with Ray LaMontagne on July 19. I’ve seen about three concerts at the Pavilion and think it’s just a fantastic place for concerts. The parking is easy in/easy out, and there’s a number of small, local restaurants within walking distance so you can eat there before the shows without spending a buttload of money on not-so-great concert food.
14. Buy a new (old) bike at Hunds Recyclefactory on North Colley and ride it as much as possible. We already have awesome beach cruisers from East Coast Cycle.
15. Walk among Norfolk’s historical dead at a twilight tour of Elmwood Cemetery. No RSVP necessary, every first and final Friday of the month, organized by the Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation.
16. Celebrate Hogwarts-style. At the end of July, there’s a birthday party for Harry Potter at O’Connor Brewery. (I know there’s some craft beer and Harry lover out there who just squealed with delight.)
17. Tour the Naval Base, the world’s largest. We salute you, America! Done, and has been for some time now.
18. Catch The Wave, Norfolk’s come-as-you-are summertime dance party. If you love to dance and you’ve never spent a night at The Wave, I have just one word for you: Girl.
19. Get around town in style: the downtown water taxi takes off from Mile Marker Zero on the Elizabeth River.
20. Find the bird sanctuary in West Ghent. You’ve got to promise to keep this one a secret, as it is so often wonderfully devoid of people ... I’d say more but I’ve already said too much.
21. Sample fried green tomatoes on the rooftop of Supper on one of those hot Southern nights.
22. Add some laughs by taking the improv 101 class at the Push Comedy Theater.
23. Feast at Great American Picnic & Fireworks on July 4th.
24. Ride The Tide to see The Tides and to give Rip Tide a high five. Hook your bike up to the city’s newest piece of public art, “The Pitch,” by local artists Christopher Revels, Jen Stringer and Laura Freed. This seems like a couple different activities. We’ve ridden the Tide, have gone to see the Tides play usually every other summer, and I’m pretty sure I’ve high fived Rip Tide, but not all in the same evening.
25. Get sweaty at a punk show at Charlie’s in Riverview, or dance yourself clean at one of the best live music venues in all of these United States, The NorVa. I’ve been here to see Barenaked Ladies and loved it. J
Check back next week for Part 2. What did Jesse miss? Email him.

A Mini Bucket List for the Summer


On June 21, Jesse Scaccia, a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot, wrote an article called, “50 ways to fall in love with Norfolk this summer.” It’s actually a two-part article, but the second half hasn’t been published yet. To me, this sounded like a challenge to complete a mini, local bucket list. Challenge accepted, Hampton Roads! 

I’m going to include the text of the article here, because you’re only allowed a few free articles per month from Pilot online. And if you’ve already used them up, at least you can still see it here.
-------------------------------------------------------------
It’s happy season in Hampton Roads – summer.

Here are 50 ways – in two installments – to ensure you find joy in our sweet city on the water.
Save this article. Tape it to the fridge. See how many you can get through and notice how light you feel come fall.

1. Watch the diverse downtown set go by from a window seat at Field Guide while enjoying one of their “adult slushies.”
2. Plan a beach day in Ocean View, where the crowds are thinner than at the Oceanfront. It’s great for kids who are too small for the bigger waves of the Atlantic. We’ve done this on a regular basis, because like Jesse said, the crowds are thinner this time of year. However, when tourist season ends, I prefer the Oceanfront.
3. Catch one of Norfolk’s epic sunsets from the Hague footbridge and instantly fall in love.
4. Dance the night away at Latin social nights at the Mambo Room – because summer is the time for movement and feeling sexy. Salsa until 1 a.m. Fridays.
5. Play with one of the adoptable pups at the Norfolk SPCA. They sure would love a walk – it gets lonely inside.
6. Kick back and enjoy live music from some of the best bands in Tidewater at the Hermitage Museum’s Sunsets on the River. What a view, I’m telling ya.
7. Wear your angel wings, kilt, glitter, face paint and anything else that will make you feel like you’re in a Shakespearean wonderland for one of the most magical weekends of the year – the Mid-Summer Fantasy Festival in Town Point Park, July 29 – 31.
8. Travel back to the ‘80s. Generic Theater is putting on “Heathers: The Musical” this summer.
9. Harness the wind! Get your U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification through Sail Nauticus. I’m playing a little loose with this one. I don’t care about getting keelboat certification, but we did purchase some kayaks and got them registered for Norfolk and Suffolk already. In fact, we had them out on the water this last weekend.
10. Party on the streets of Norfolk at First Fridays downtown.
11. Get your licks in with an ice cream cone at Doumar’s. Well, duh! J
12. Think healthy and refreshing eating with one of the acai bowls at Zeke’s. Just $5 for a small.
13. Take the ferry to Portsmouth and grab lawn seats for a show at the Pavilion. Hold hands and feel the night rise with Ray LaMontagne on July 19. I’ve seen about three concerts at the Pavilion and think it’s just a fantastic place for concerts. The parking is easy in/easy out, and there’s a number of small, local restaurants within walking distance so you can eat there before the shows without spending a buttload of money on not-so-great concert food.
14. Buy a new (old) bike at Hunds Recyclefactory on North Colley and ride it as much as possible. We already have awesome beach cruisers from East Coast Cycle.
15. Walk among Norfolk’s historical dead at a twilight tour of Elmwood Cemetery. No RSVP necessary, every first and final Friday of the month, organized by the Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation.
16. Celebrate Hogwarts-style. At the end of July, there’s a birthday party for Harry Potter at O’Connor Brewery. (I know there’s some craft beer and Harry lover out there who just squealed with delight.)
17. Tour the Naval Base, the world’s largest. We salute you, America! Done, and has been for some time now.
18. Catch The Wave, Norfolk’s come-as-you-are summertime dance party. If you love to dance and you’ve never spent a night at The Wave, I have just one word for you: Girl.
19. Get around town in style: the downtown water taxi takes off from Mile Marker Zero on the Elizabeth River.
20. Find the bird sanctuary in West Ghent. You’ve got to promise to keep this one a secret, as it is so often wonderfully devoid of people ... I’d say more but I’ve already said too much.
21. Sample fried green tomatoes on the rooftop of Supper on one of those hot Southern nights.
22. Add some laughs by taking the improv 101 class at the Push Comedy Theater.
23. Feast at Great American Picnic & Fireworks on July 4th.
24. Ride The Tide to see The Tides and to give Rip Tide a high five. Hook your bike up to the city’s newest piece of public art, “The Pitch,” by local artists Christopher Revels, Jen Stringer and Laura Freed. This seems like a couple different activities. We’ve ridden the Tide, have gone to see the Tides play usually every other summer, and I’m pretty sure I’ve high fived Rip Tide, but not all in the same evening.
25. Get sweaty at a punk show at Charlie’s in Riverview, or dance yourself clean at one of the best live music venues in all of these United States, The NorVa. I’ve been here to see Barenaked Ladies and loved it. 

Check back next week for Part 2. What did Jesse miss? Email him.

Hot Sweet Wings/26 Recipes Down

This recipe came from  Just a Bunch of Recipes. Like the name suggests, it's a chicken wing recipe. However, that night, I had chicken tenders thawed out for supper. I cut them into smaller pieces and made them the way the recipe directed.

What did I learn from this recipe?
I learned that I could taste the butter in this sauce, first and foremost, and I didn't like it. It was overpowering to me, both in smell and in taste. It reminded me of movie theater buttered popcorn. It was slightly nauseating, unfortunately.

Shane liked this recipe, because the first thing he got was the honey. He said he'd eat this again, but I couldn't, unless I left the butter out completely.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My Labor of Love

Tonight, finally, after farting around with it, I have finally finished refinishing my mom's china cabinet. My husband brought it home for me when he went home in May, so I've been dinking around with it ever since.

Before, sitting in our garage
At one point, probably 30 years ago, it came from my grandparents' house to my parents. I didn't know the reason behind Grandma (on my father's side) giving it to Mom.

I remember talking to Mom about this cabinet. It was when I was with her last, and she was still at home. We were sitting in the living room. I was on the carpet in front of her, and she was sitting in her recliner in front of the windows. My father had gone out to run some errands and my sister hadn't gotten there yet.

Mom told me that my sister liked, and should get, the Amish made hutch in the living room someday. I told her that was fine. It wasn't my style anyway. (There's nothing wrong with it. It's just a blonde stained wood.) Then Mom said we could just get rid of the cabinet downstairs (this one).

I think my exact phrase was, "Um, hello. What about me?" I may have even pointed at myself.

Mom asked, "What about you?"

I told her, "We're not just donating the cabinet downstairs. I like it. I'll take it home someday."

She was genuinely surprised. "You actually like that thing?" There wasn't any emotion attached to the cabinet from her. It was just a place to store stuff. "Then you can have it."

I actually remember this thing laid out on it's back, in our family's station wagon, to bring it home. However, I barely remember ever noticing it in my grandparents' basement.

There are NO maker's marks anywhere on this piece, and I've looked all over for them. From what I could learn online, this was a very common design for china cabinets with curved glass. So common, in fact, that if you had one, this was the style you had. It could have been made anywhere between 1915-1925, at the oldest, all the way down to the 1950's. I believe the inside back is actually veneer of some kind.

And yes, the door's glass is wrong. At some point, before Mom ever got it, Grandpa had to do some repairs to it. Apparently, the original one pane of glass in the door broke, so Grandpa may have replaced it with new glass in four panels and new wood (not the oak of the rest of it). I'm going to keep it as is, because that's how it always looked in my lifetime.

Somehow, the original wooden rollers are still there. After some shots of WD-40 on the metal outer pieces, I actually got these to roll.

Overall, the cabinet was in a little rougher shape than I remembered.

I stripped, sanded and cleaned it, and then I restained it. The new color is a couple shades lighter than the original.
This is the top of the cabinet before I stripped and sanded it.

It took a lot of sanding to get rid of that white ring. This was after stripping, sanding and cleaning, but before staining. I stained it with Minwax stain in English Chestnut.

The four shelves are reversible, with plate grooves on the other side. This was before.

After, with two coats of semi-gloss polyurethane. I only did the poly on the top, bottom and both sides of each shelf.

Inside bottom, before.

Inside bottom, after

Sitting in our living room, with Orion underneath. The shelves are not it in it, in this picture.
I actually found myself getting a little anxious for some stupid reason about this project, on Saturday night. I've been working really carefully on it, and Saturday night was the end (finally) of the sanding and staining. I was wondering if I was doing the right thing, but refinishing this, but I was able to put that obnoxious little voice away when I went to bed that night. It was just a case of nerves. This was the most important piece of furniture I've ever done and I didn't want to screw it up.

I'm letting the poly completely cure before I put anything on the shelves. I figure that will come tomorrow night.

It's been a good project, but a little trying at times. I thought that I was going to break in half while I was stripping that back veneer, because it had to be laid flat in order for me to get to the whole piece. It started to remind me of Snow White's glass coffin at this point. And yes, I am a morbid, morbid bitch. :)

All the curves along the front, while excellent places to grab while moving it, were kind of a pain in the ass from which to remove the stripper.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Turning To Amy Farrah Fowler For Fashion Advice?

Lately as I watch "The Big Bang Theory," I find myself almost coveting this purple jacket that Amy Farrah Fowler wears. I love purple. I don't think Amy's jacket here is denim, but it's definitely cotton.

Also, I really like that olive drab jacket that Leonard Hofstadter wears, but I haven't been able to find that one at a price that I like.

Anyhoo, I realized a few days ago that I have an older men's Levi denim jacket upstairs in our attic closet. My husband bought it years ago, and I never understood why. He swore up and down he'd wear it. In the entire time I've known my husband, I've never once seen him wear a denim jacket. I told him he wouldn't wear it, and that I was going to steal it for myself.

Guess who ended up with a nice jacket?

I've worn it quite a bit over the years and just put it away two years ago to trade it out for a jacket my husband did buy me. And had forgotten all about it until I was watching TBBT again a few weeks ago and saw this lovely purple jacket of Amy's.

Before

It looks a little on the shapeless side here, because the plastic hanger it's on is starting to bend. I love men's jackets because of how roomy they are and they always have plenty of pockets. There's even two pockets on the inside, made from wisely sewing the pocket flaps back. I'd like to point out that even as a kid, with the girl's denim jacket I had, I actually managed to do this with my own jacket, creating more pockets myself.

 I picked up a packet of Rit purple dye from Joann Fabric on Thursday and dyed it yesterday.

After: please excuse the haphazard placement on my sewing model here. I needed a place to put it for the picture.
Look at it, in all it's purple glory! Look how well it took the color!! I dare say this might be a better jacket than the one worn by my favorite neuroscientist. :)

And while I back in it's purpleness tonight, I'm going to sew in a couple of hidden Star Wars patches that I just got from Albin Johnson, the human companion to R2-KT. I'm going to sew them to the pocket flaps on the inside.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sweet Chili Soy Sauce Sauce/25 Recipes Down

Today's recipe came from Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Short Cuts. Like the red pepper sauce from yesterday, I also made it last night. I actually made my lunch for today after making supper last night, and  I wanted to make sure the THREE WHOLE ingredients in it had time to really meld together well in the frig.

Basically, this is another multi-use sauce, so I made shrimp, rice and veggies to go with it. And like the sauce from last night's supper, I used this as a cold sauce, right out of the frig.

What did I learn from this recipe?
There wasn't anything really remarkable about this sauce. It was good...I like sweet chili sauce. I love soy sauce, so why did I not get too excited about this recipe? I'm not sure. When I poured it over my lunch and started to eat it, I could taste both main ingredients (the other being a little garlic) in it. It was almost like the flavors stayed separate from each other, even though they did mix together.