Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good Stuff!

A few months ago, I was listening to NPR while driving somewhere. The Kojo Nnamdi show came on and Kojo talked to Chef Spike Mendelson. I’d never heard the name but he apparently rose to fame on Top Chef, a TV show I never watch, so no surprise there. They talked about the two joints the chef founded, The Good Stuff Eatery and We The Pizza (both located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C.), as well as about the guy’s new book, The Good Stuff Cookbook.

The more I listened, the more intrigued I was about the guy’s approach to food. He was all about using fresh, high quality ingredients to make otherwise unassuming foods such as burgers and pizza. The idea is not that novel but it seems to resonate more and more with me as I get older and I think about what we eat and what we feed our child(ren). I also liked their community involvement, their concern for the environment and their effort to teach kids about healthy eating. That was enough for me to want to try the two places.

Though we haven’t yet tried We The Pizza, we did finally go to The Good Stuff Eatery with some friends, who were visiting from out of town a few weeks ago.

What did we think? We all ordered different types of burgers and we all loved them. The fries didn’t look as appealing as the fries do in other restaurants but that’s because of the type of potato they use. What they missed out on looks the fries more than made up on taste. Nia and I also had their milkshakes and they were excellent, though very, very filling. The prices are a little higher than what you’d pay at Five Guys, my husband’s standard for burgers, but the quality of the ingredients and the taste justify the difference, in my opinion.

Will we go there again? Hell, yeah,  though this is another place, where you usually have to wait in a long line to get your good stuff.  We  had to sit outside because there were no available seats inside – luckily the weather was nice. It is a family operation but the chef’s a celebrity and has been featured on Oprah, Rachel Ray, The Food Network, The View and the like. The place is also one of Michele Obama’s favorite burger joints. So, it’s not exactly a quiet place but good it sure is.

Oh, and just so you know, both places are closed on Sundays - we learned that the hard way.

Next, we have to try We The Pizza.


Paul, Nia and our friends Anna and Eran, with their daughter Maya enjoying the Good Stuff.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

30 Weeks and Counting…

Yep, 30 weeks down, 10 more to go. Or 8-ish, if I am lucky.

 IMG_9215 IMG_9216

So, far things seem to be going well with the baby. I ended up not doing the amnio because the non-invasive tests we did looked very good. That and I am a chicken – I was afraid of the possible complications the amnio itself could bring. Hopefully everything is still honky-dory in there.

As far as we know the baby is still a boy and we are still calling him Chutney because we haven’t finalized the name, though Max is looking like a very strong candidate right now.

I was hoping for a smaller, calmer baby this time around but judging by his antics in utero, this baby is going to be just as intense as his sister. The doctor says he’s measuring larger than the average for this stage of the pregnancy. Second babies tend to be larger anyway and and so do boys compared to girls, so my wish may not come true, unless Chutney takes pity on his poor mom and decides to come a couple of weeks early. The chances of that happening are not very high but a girl can dream, right?

His sister did attempt so come out early (at 34 weeks) but the doctors managed to convince her to wait and she made her final appearance exactly on her due date. She weighed 8 lb 9 oz (or 3,9 kg) and it was no picnic to get her out. The thought of this baby being larger is making me very nervous but I guess the most important thing is that he’s healthy.

So, I am thinking healthy thoughts…

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Belated New Year!

I am sorry it’s taken me forever to get this blog post out. I’ve had a little bit of a blogger’s block since my last post. I really wanted to start the new year with a post about our holidays but have been at a loss for what exactly to say and how to arrange it. 

I started once and had to scrap that first unfortunate attempt because it was just so trite and boring, I couldn’t stand it. And it’s not for lack of content. On the contrary, our holidays were jam-packed with events and were everything we could possibly ask for – we visited family (Paul’s brothers, who live in the DC area), hosted friends from near and far, cooked and ate industrial amounts of food, gained the obligatory 5+ holiday pounds each, got fantastic gifts, did fun things around the house and outside. I guess I was so overwhelmed by everything that I was not sure where to begin. That and because I was actively preparing and cooking for a lot of the festivities, I didn’t have the time or motivation to take a lot of pictures and I am kicking myself for that now.

Since I can’t come up with anything better, I’m just going to let the  few pictures of our holidays that I got (even though I didn’t take all of them myself)  speak for themselves and let that be a lesson to me for next time. So, here we go.

About a week before Christmas we went to a holiday dinner, hosted by Paul’s eldest brother, Ray and his lovely wife, Mary, complete with a yummy pork loin, salads, side dishes and deserts galore and the Swider Annual Secret Santa gift exchange. Pictures courtesy of my better half.


On Christmas Eve we were at Chris and Cathy’s (Paul’s third brother age-wise and his sweet wife) and had a delightful evening feasting on Cornish hens and all kinds of delicious accoutrements. Unfortunately, we did not take any pictures of this event, so all I can say is that it was wonderful.

On Christmas Day we hosted a dinner at our apartment for our friends the Shows and the Hollidays and their lovely daughters (including one-week-old baby Neve). My mom and I made a lot of delectable Bulgarian food and everyone had a great time, especially the kids. I didn’t take any pictures but thankfully, our friends did, so I can share a few with you:


For New Year’s we had my Bulgarian friend Anna, her Israeli husband Eran and their cute daughter Maya (who’s 4 and speaks as many languages) visit us from Norfolk, VA for another big dinner, heavy on the Bulgarian dishes. I am proud to say that we all, including the kids, stayed up till midnight and were able to wish each other a Happy New Year before hitting the sack. This is pretty remarkable for us considering that we usually zonk way before midnight – we are lame that way. The following day we went to the National Harbor with Anna and her family and had a lovely afternoon there.


In addition to the above mentioned festivities, we also managed to get together with my Macedonian friend Gordana and her family, who were visiting the US for the holidays. Gordana and I worked together in international development 12 years ago and hadn’t seen each other since, so it was neat to catch up and meet each other’s husbands and kids, which didn’t exist the last time we saw each other.

We also had another Bulgarian friend, Nevena and her Romanian husband, Dan, for dinner at our place. Nevena and I met at the University of Maryland where she was working on her Ph.D. and I on my MBA. We were the only Bulgarians at the business school in our first year (2000), so we hung out quite a bit. It was great to reconnect with her and her husband and reminisce about the good old days. No pictures of those two get-togethers, unfortunately.

Well, this may not be the best post I’ve ever written but I had to get it out in the interest of chronicling our lives and so I could move forward with the other posts I want to write, which are starting to pile up.

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