Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas packaging 2009

no matter how rushed i get during the holiday season buying this, making that, or going there, i try to spend some time creating a theme for my presents. as i've said here and here and here, i'm not a fan of millions of rolls of wrapping paper for every occasion, age and gender. besides not being green, i just don't have room for rolls.

so this year, in a effort to use less paper and also in hopes of encouraging recycling, i used metal tins for the presents i was giving.

metal tins with handcut & handwritten tags

instead of the next big thing toy (another thing i'm not a fan of), i stuck to timeless presents that my many nieces and nephews will enjoy later in life. in addition to some new winter scarves, i decoupaged ornaments for all the kids with pictures of events from this year (one from the snowstorm last weekend). my godchildren also got personalized snow globes which w
ere a huge hit!

decoupaged glass ornaments and snow globe

finally, the goodie of the season - pecan tarts a la leah. better than
your average pecan pie. and cuter too!

i hope that those that celebrate christmas had a great one! we surely did.

i'm glad to be back. back posts to come!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

back to our regularly scheduled program...

um. so i get it. i disappeared.

what can i say? life happens. nothing bad. just busy.

i know i promised this in my last post, but i plan on getting back on the horse soon. just gotta get my ducks in a row. and by ducks, i mean joining the 21st century and getting internet at home.

i know. lame.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back Track Part II: Spa Castle

avenue S spa at Spa Castle (yes, that's a private jacuzzi in the back)*

Let's just cut to the chase here. I LOVE THE SPA. Again, I LOVE THE SPA.

So let me tell you, how excited I was when my friends took me to this place called Spa Castle in Queen, NY for my birthday. Ya'll, it was like an adult water park. But larger. And so much better.

You walk in, pay an entrance fee of $40 and get a waterpoof watch that acts as your locker key and 'credit card'. You lock up everything. Your watch, bathing suit, and assigned uniform is all you need.

The locker room has a bath area with 4 different jacazzis but we avoided that since it was nude only -traditional Korean bath - but it also had a lounge and some sauna rooms where you can lay and sleep (in your uniform).

Upstairs you walk up to the massive first floor. There is an area for purchasing private massages like a traditional spa and a lounge where everyone is chilling/eating. The lounge has a buffet, a pinkberry-esque yogurt place, starbucks, sushi, hamburgers, you name it.

the sauna town

Then it has 7 saunas. Again, 7 saunas. They are all different and cater to each guest. There was a gold plated sauna, a jade sauna, an ice sauna, a LED color therapy sauna, a infrared sauna, a super hot sauna, the list goes on and on.

In the mezzanine, there is a sleeping lounge with comfy recliners which all have individual TVs attached. People were taking naps galore. There was also a separate room just for foot and hand massages.

On the second floor were the pools. There was an indoor pool with a swim up bar and tables for eating (in the pool). There was the warm pool with various acupuncture-like massaging jets for each individual seat.
just one of the many outdoor pools/jacuzzis/waterfall areas

Outside it was like adult spa playground. There was a deck to lay out, the wooden aroma therapy jacuzzi, the regular jacuzzi, then the massive bade pool (building wide, at least 1 block long) with ever possible jet, spray, and waterfall you can imagine. The jets and sprays were strong enough to work out knots in my shoulders so that I didn't have to go the regular massage place.

my favorite jet, perfect for the shoulder knots!

The place is insane and all of pool and sauna access was included with entry. Entry is a day rate, so if you can get there at opening and stay until closing - no problem.

Finally, on the third floor, yup a 3rd floor, there was Korean restaurant, where one could enjoy the day on the patio or inside having the famous bulgogi and kimchi.

The best part is, the owners are building 19 more Spa Castles around the country. SpaCastle gods, don't forget DC please!

Don't miss: anything. If you have the time and money to check out the Avenue S spa, do so! if only I had the time and was not on a recessionista budget, I'd be there. For those who are on a recessionista budget, your $40 will go a long way in just the pools. Sit with the stronger jets for a while and you can probably work those knots!

  • You'll get the most of your $40 if you make this at least a half day trip and find out where you are most relaxed and sit for a while. You'll spend the first hour just getting your bearings and trying everything out.
  • Bring a towel, the towels they provide are just hand towels and won't dry or cover much.
  • Finally, be prepared for nudity (both to see and to partake) in the locker rooms. The showers are not private and again, the towels are teeny tiny.

*all photos linked from the Spa Castle web site

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back Track: Part I

photo of Nikko, c/o the Nikko Sushi Bar Site

It all started with a business trip to North Carolina in August. It was busy, busy, busy. But we were able to squeeze in some time to have a fabulous dinner at Nikko Sushi Bar.

Big city upscale feel meets Southern Charm meets Asian Zen.

The sushi was fresh and plated beautifully. My true test for good sushi is salmon and unagi. The The eel was broiled just enough and not dry/chewy (common mistake). But the salmon, ooh the salmon! The salmon sashimi was like butter - smooth, fresh, melt in your mouth yum! This place rivals the amazing sushi in Seattle.

To make the night even more recessionista fabulous is that Charlotte has a lower standard of living cost than the bigger cities, so I gasped when I saw the bill. For the price of only 2 in DC to have the same cocktails, salads, appetizers, 2 rolls a piece, and desserts the 3 of us had, we ate, and ate well. It was like a restaurant week discount. Bonus! If ever you're in the downtown Charlotte area, the short cab ride to Nikko is well worth it.

Don't miss: the Salmon Sashimi, the Strawberry Mochi, and the Red Bean Tempura Ice Cream and of course, owner behind the bar running around in a cowboy hat.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

what happened to me?

life did. it's been a long time, i know. but i'll be back soon. in the meantime, look at my jumper and velcro sneaks! and those red faux penny loafers! and my cousin's priceless face! hee!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

there's never any time.

the scary queen charlotte at CLT airport | charlotte, nc | august 13, 2009

it's been absolutely nuts in leahland.

i'm currently in charlotte, waiting to jump on a flight that i had to beg to be put on because a certain airline whose hub is in charlotte decided to cancel the 4:30 flight to dca WITHOUT notifying anyone on the flight. [non]checking-in was fun. thanks, usair, thanks.

things are a little busy here, so as a late reference to the rumored saved by the bell reunion and my crazed schedule as of late, here is the BEST. CLIP. EVER.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

to do: dog days on u street

dirty energy| u street | aug 1

U Street celebrated this weekend with a Community Festival. Local shops participated in the Dog Days of August which included some crazy sales (and lots of fun junking). I walked around, shopped (a little too much), and was able to stop and just take shots of the usual DC charm and character.
stamped crates | u street | aug 1

yum, farmers market peaches. p.s. farmers market at 14 & u, every saturday from 9-1pm.

monkey bucket | u street | aug 1

old & dusty| u street | aug 1

loved hanging/junking out at ruff and ready, it's like your grandma's attic/basement on crack. hording anyone? if you're patient, you'll find some good estate pieces priced to go. not for the claustrophobic or germaphobic.

sporadic chess | u street | aug 1

the best part of this scenario is that the guy who is standing was just passing by (see his luggage next to him?) and decided to play with the guy on the bike. random. and so u street.

musicar | u street | aug 1

these things were out to promote the Art Cars Festival. total road hazard--people were slowing down to gawk -- but hilarious and total over stimulation.

brassvn (notice the men's room sign)| u street | aug 1

"take my picture" | u street | aug 1

and what's u street without characters? be sure to visit pradesh (sp?) at the capital carpet and furniture store. he was the sweetest man and a total ham when he saw my camera.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

copy cat

i was inspired by my successful fondant experiment and wanted a treat from baked and wired (so much better than g'town cupcake). but instead of trekking my way into the city, fighting for parking and possibly getting disappointed (they have limited offerings of each flavor), i decided to just make my own version of lemon cupcakes with raspberry filling.

i started with a basic yellow cake and vanilla buttercream recipe and experimented with lemon zest and juice. then i injected some raspberry jam/preserves... and viola!

it's not the magically dense yet moist baked and wired cupcake - mine were fluffy instead -- but was very lemony.

ps. i still want cupcakes from baked and wired.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


i spent most of this weekend trying my hand at ousting duffy of ace of cakes... (ha, riiight). my sister asked me make a crazy, tea-sized, alice in wonderland themed cake for my nieces birthday party as a nice addition to the cupcakes and ice cream cakes already on the menu.
it's not perfect, but considering this is only my second attempt at fondant, i think it came out pretty well.

my sister did a great job decorating my parents backyard as a garden party gone mad.

the mad hatter made an appearance to do a magic show, face painting and some awesome balloons.
happy 4th birthday janiya!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

riding the mexican train.

this is why we're hot [while chrys' neighbors played beer pong]

life's been a little crazy since i've returned from the beach but the girls and i still managed to have some good, old man, dominoes fun.

mrs. p4d hosted us on her glover park roof deck and we had a nice sunset dinner overlooking the national cathedral, washington monument, capitol, and even got a view of the nat's fireworks.

for our dinner theme, we decided to play up on the rules of the game ... aka... mexican [train] night!

k made a ridiculous mountain of ultimate nachos
complete with chili, corn, black beans and refried beans

peach sangria + rooftop deck = good night

new to my repertoire - black bean & chorizo empanadas
(watch out julias!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

part II: nags head

for those that don't like reading. *ahem*cousins*sister*ahem*.

independence day fireworks in front of our house | july 2009 | nags head, nc

massive [click to see the people on dunes] | july 2009 | nags head, nc

buried [dunes] | july 2009 | nags head, nc

snake tracks [dunes] | july 2009 | nags head, nc

beach house #3 | july 2009 | nags head, nc

nags head pier at sunset | july 2009 | nags head, nc

Monday, July 13, 2009

to do: nags head

much like most of the dc metro area, i'm a sucker for the outer banks. while it's not wild and crazy like dewey beach, the OBX have its own perks of relaxation.

this post is going to be fairly long. i know some of you just look at pictures *ahem* but, forgive me, i'm a little biased. my family used to own a house down there so my childhood memories are punctuated with spending my spring breaks and at least one week in the summer at the beach. it's one of my favorite places to go, if for nothing else but nostalgia.

my cousins have started to continue the tradition and we try to go every couple of years. this year was no exception and i enjoyed getting out a bit to go fishing, spend some time on the beach, climb some dunes and just chillin in "our" beach house.

here are my suggestions for a a good time in the outer banks --

  • buy local. the ride is pretty slow through currituck county going 50mph (or 25mph less, depending on traffic - ugh) on a two lane road on the way to the bridge to the islands. take a stop at one of the many farmers markets the dot the side of the road near grandy (you can't miss them, really - sorry, they dont have web sites). i chose to stop at powells -- i couldn't resist their cute signs. stop for organic peaches, boiled peanuts (yum!) and homemade jams among other things. the produce is top notch and definitely cheaper than going to the overpriced and often picked over big brand grocery stores (only a handful on the banks).
  • get a house near the beach. with 10 kids under the age of twelve with us, it was imperative we got a location within walking distance of the beach. we had a house across from a main entrance of the beach, not a two minute walk. we usually go for village realty as they are more economical and have a good inventory of bigger houses. if you're into luxury, check out carolina designs, their houses are super comfy and have movie rooms.
  • relax and drive through. the obx is the epitome of relax... AKA lazy. go with it. the outerbanks is known for its brew-thrus. drive through for beer, snacks and other kitchy souvenirs. down south, there is also sonic (strawberry limeade is perfect for a hot, summer day!). and in kill devil, they have a drive thru dairy queen. um, and yes, i went through all of these in my car.
  • go for independence day. we were able to book at house for the 4th and our house was in the middle of 4 fireworks displays in all directions. one of them was the main nags head show, which was front and center of our house just a few hundred yards away. sitting on our deck without getting smushed on the mall and having to cram into a metro car post-fireworks was a big plus. even better? sitting in the hot tub on our deck with beer and watching fireworks. so nice.
  • eat seafood. i didn't get to go to all of these, but between my 23 cousins, i think we got them covered. captain georges seafood house (dungenous crab, yum), mako mikes (they have shark tanks inside), awful arthurs (known for oysters), and austin sea food house (you can pick up bushels of crabs here).
  • pig out. nc is known for barbeque. i didn't have time to stop for bbq on this trip but i was encouraged to go next time around. my cousins and friends raved about pigmans bbq and sooeys.
  • go fishing. you can go fishing on the nags head pier for about $10 a day with a permit (no license necessary). if you want to go beach fishing, you will have to go get a state license. on the pier, you can catch spanish mackerel, bluefish, spot, shark (you have to throw them back), flounder, and of course, crabs. don't forget to check out the fish size regulations to make sure you're not fishing illegally! there are such things are fish police (game wardens). check out our catch here.
  • start a fire. nags head actually allows bon fires on the beach. don't forget to get a permit (from the cute fireman near mile post 12.5) , pay your ten bucks, and smores it is!
  • enjoy the water sports. we were able to spent some time getting out for some adventure. a few of us went parasailing (the best part is getting dunked). and after i left back for dc, a group went kite surfing and jetskiing (hmpf! i wish i could have stayed longer to get in on some of that action). for parasailing, we went with kitty hawk sports but there is also grogs watersports.
  • climb mountains. of sand, that is. nags head as a few sand dunes part of jockey's ridge state park. this is probably one of my favorite things to do in nags head. the views are amazing and while it's not a real desert, it's a good work out climbing up sand. i went here for a quiet morning sans kids and took some photos before the tourists showed up. it was really serene. pics to come!
have i convinced you to go yet?

Monday, July 06, 2009

gone fishing!

relaxing on the pier | nags head, nc | july 6, 2009

after working remotely from the beach for a good part of the day, i slipped away for a couple of hours to go fishing. i grew up fishing with my father, so no matter how much i squirm touching the bloodworms, i actually really enjoy it.

here are some shots from today:

fallen between the cracks | nags head, nc | july 6, 2009

left for the seagulls | nags head, nc | july 6, 2009

bait & hooked | nags head, nc | july 6, 2009

not our catch | nags head, nc | july 6, 2009

our big catch! | nags head, nc | july 6, 2009

outer banks photos

photo by parkerspain

it's raining on the outer banks but while, of course, i'd rather it be sunny -- a rainy day here still beats a day at work.

however, i've started taking a photography class at the torpedo factory and have yet to find some good weather to do my homework. i'm sure i could take shots of things in the rain but, as a beginner, i'm not confident on finding correct lighting in the cloudy haze.

so instead, here are some fun shots that i've found on flickr. i'm not sure i will ever be this good, but it's nice to dream anyway.

bodie light house | photo by jim frazier

nags head pier | photo by cary scott photography

kitty hawk | photo by cary scott photography