Hot n’ Humid

For years my coat closet has had a mold problem. My newish L.L. Bean canvas tote grew mildewy in one year. I guess I didn’t use it as frequently as I thought I would. Darn YouTube advertising. Anyway, every time I found a mildewy item, I would clean out the closet. I’d wash everything I could and take the rest to the cleaners. I even laid down paper towels and set out plates of baking soda around the place to figure out and alleviate whatever was causing this damp, musty issue. This nonsense has been carrying on for years. I can’t believe I’m saying this. I can’t believe I put up with it for so long. I just didn’t know what to do. Hire a plumber? It was a contained issue though so I shut the closet door, out of sight, etc. This summer I found two jackets, not in the usual musty closet, but in the dressing room and they had mildew on them. They had been cleaned and not worn in too many years. I took them to the cleaners and thankfully, they cleaned them up. But this incident finally made it realize, our place is just too humid (and I have too many clothes). Two fish tanks, a steamer cooker that’s run multiple times a week, a clothes drying rack, countless plants, all while it’s August in the East Coast swamp. What did I expect?! We got a dehumidifier and if the clothes drying rack was 2017’s purchase of the year, the dehumidifier is easily the best purchase of 2018. I know 2018 isn’t over yet but still. It’s life-altering. I did a final clean and wash of our musty closet and it’s been free and clear of must ever since. I used to think dehumidifiers were for basements. Nay, they are for East Coast summers. We’ve also been much more comfortable with the lower humidity levels.

Beans!

I bought about 20 lbs of beans at a little market in California. They’re all beans I’d never heard of like Black Valentine.
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Or Snowcap.
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So far, I’ve cooked Hutterite Soup, Tiger Eye, and Flor de Mayo beans. The Hutterite is a very light white bean. It has a delicate skin so a good amount of it breaks up in the soup and makes it creamy. The Flor de Mayo has the thickest skin of the three. Almost like kidney beans. The Tiger Eye is good for it’s chewy starchy texture. Almost like a waxy New England potato. I love that sort of texture.
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Chaia

I met a friend for lunch at Chaia in Georgetown. It’s a little taco shop that sells vegetarian food. The nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which is kind of fun to go to sometimes. It’s all fancy and whatnot. The not nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which means it’s expensive and it was. Their tacos are tiny. I’ve said this before, getting full off plants requires bigger food portions. Plants are mostly low calorie density foods. Volume is necessary. I think I probably already eat bigger portions than many anyway. At least by my and many of my friends observations. I eat a lot of food to feel satiated. So $15 for lunch that felt more like a mini snack doesn’t make me want to go back. I hate leaving a meal feeling hungry and unsatisfied, regardless of price point. If you serve it up, call it a meal, it had better fill me up. Plus, I hate vegan food that’s poorly designed. Aside from the too small portions, it was basically mushrooms in a tiny corn tortilla. Zucchini in a corn tortilla. Where are my pulses? Where’s the protein? Where are the greens? And I don’t mean a few sprouts for garnish. No wonder omni’s think vegans are weird and starving. If I had that regularly, I would be! So yeah, I haven’t been eating out much lately and it’s because there’s not much out there. Portions are too small (regardless of price point). Macros are wrong. Some are chock full of processed nonsense (what the hell is chick’n?!). Eating out for me is a way to get meals that I can’t get at home. Lately, every time I eat out, I leave thinking I make better. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to my own food. And it’s just as well. The reason why a lot of restaurant food tastes better is because it’s full of salt, oil, and sugar. And while I enjoy the dishes in the moment, they make me feel like shit afterwards. And I’m usually still hungry. Actually, one little side bonus of not eating out as frequently, it’s a moneysaver. $120 per week to feed two people, which is actually probably on the high side, but if I’m not eating out, I splurge on whatever I want at the produce aisle.

So in short, I left hungry and dissatisfied and don’t plan on going back.

Not my day

Today was mostly okay until I went to go catch a bus for an appointment. (Metro is doing track work and telling everybody to stay home, go on vacay, or find another mode of transportation, which is usually unheard of since they’re hurtin’ for money, but I’m glad they’re finally giving metro’s infrastructure the much needed attention). The first bus came and drove right by me (why do they do that?!!). And in the 10 minutes I stood to wait for the next bus (thankfully it was just 10 or so mins), mosquitoes attacked me. I was bit probably close to 10 times. The saving grace, there was a torrential downpour (the kind that flip umbrellas inside out) just as I hopped onto the next bus, and by the time I got to where I was going, the rain had stopped. So maybe missing that first bus was a blessing in disguise a la that movie, Sliding Doors (where Gwyneth Paltrow misses a train in one universe and catches it in another and her life is totally different because of that train.) Not that my life was so altered. I don’t think anyway. I guess I’ll never know since I didn’t catch that bus. At any rate, I imagine I would have had to get off the bus right in the middle of the pouring rain and I would have waited at the bus shelter until the storm ebbed and not gotten attacked by the hungry mosquitoes. No biggie. Anyway, I came home and had a bowl of rice and miso paste to feel better. It’s my new favorite food lately. I wrap it in nori. It’s like omusubi without the effort of turning it into a triangle. I feel better now.

Oh shit.

Those were the audible words that came out of my mouth when I witnessed a man standing nearish the edge of the metro platform drop his phone, then watch it bounce right into the tracks. Yup. He looked down at the tracks. Then he walked hurriedly away, probably to find a station manager who is probably going to tell him to go get a new phone.

Zenni

I just got my first pair of glasses online. I’ve always been reluctant to try online eyeglass retailers because I wasn’t sure how they’d look or fit, and the quality/sturdiness of them. I’m happy to report back that they worked out fine.

The silicone eyeglass holders work like a charm.  Where have they been all my life!?!  Gamechangers.
(See the little silicone hooks on the back of the glasses? They are life-altering for me. Plastic frames never stay on my face well. I usually just take my glasses off on the treadmill because they will fall off my face. Where have you been all my life!?)
Quality: So-so. 6/10. They definitely feel not as sturdy as the ones I’ve been getting from Costco – my usual place. In the past, I’d just pick a pair that wasn’t made in China. But they’re probably just assembled with parts made in China. Anyway, Zenni’s glasses are all from China and they work just fine. Not great, but decent. What they lack in the frames department, they make up for in the lenses. They have blue light blocking lenses and I wanted to try them. I don’t know if I feel any difference (aside from a very mild yellow tint) but I feel better having them since I stare at glowing boxes at almost all waking hours. By the way, there is a way to turn down the blue light on your computer monitors and iPhones (and maybe newer Droids). Aside from affecting sleep, the Internet told me blue light may possibly cause retinal damage so I’ve turned it down on all my devices where possible. Even if it does none of those things I’ve found it’s easier on my eyes to not have the glow boxes glow so piercingly bright. It’s probably not good for my skin either, but that’s another issue to solve another time.

Look: 10/10. Well, this is a personal preference thing, but their website does offer different model’s faces to try on the glasses. This worked out fine for me. I got a pair of fierce cat-eyes that turned out to be fun and not too fierce. Mew.

Fit: 1/10. Normally, a brick and mortar would adjust them before you walk out with your new glasses. And while I could still take these into a store, I’ve decided to try eyewear retainer straps and ear hooks first. I got plastic frames, and for me no matter how adjusted plastic frames are, they constantly slide down my face. Plus it’s just a hassle at the gym with loosey goosey glasses – which are all of my glasses!! Hopefully, this fixes the fit issue and the gym issue too.

Verdict: I’d do it again. Price wise – a pair of Costco glasses with their coupon is pretty comparable. My Zenni’s came out to $77 and a pair of Costco’s comes out to around $130.
As far as I’m aware though, Costco doesn’t offer blue light blocking lenses yet. If they did, I could go either way. For the extra cost, it’s nice to have someone measure you and fit your glasses properly. And the quality of the frames are better. That’s probably the biggest factor. You’ll be able to find better quality frames at Costco. I still wear my old glasses (the prescription hasn’t changed that much) from many years ago. I suppose I haven’t owned Zenni’s long enough to say how well they’ll hold up. This is just my initial impression seeing three pairs (a coworker tried them too).

Spring?

I know, I know, it’s spring already. Days are longer, more sunshine. Etc. Blah blah, whatever. I’m not feeling it. I’m feeling mopey and dopey, unmotivated, unenthusiastic, and generally bleh.

Yesterday at work, I googled “things to do.” Literally (in the correct usage of this term), I feel like I have no ideas to motivate me to do anything. One of the ideas that came out of the search was to engage in a hobby. I went through my head of all the hobbies I picked up and put down and can’t think of anything that excites me. The only thing I still enjoy doing is tending the houseplants. Thank goodness for that little bit of activity.

Lately I’ve been trying to plan a trip to somewhere. I get excited about it for all of a day and then I lose interest. In the place. In traveling. In leaving the house.

There’s a big snow storm outside right now too. The groundhog was right.

Houseplanting

Growing season is afoot! Nothing gets me out of my winter ennui like seeing new sprouts popping up. Last week, I went to IKEA and got some houseplants I don’t currently have, totally ignoring the fact that I have no space to put them. I made a conscious decision to Scarlett O’Hara that issue. And the solution that I came up with the following day was to leave them all with green-thumbed Dad. I will propagate from them when they’re bigger.
IKEA houseplants

Meanwhile, back at the shoebox, I stood in my living room and stared at my houseplants for a good 20 to 30 minutes just thinking about what I was going to propagate and which pot was going to hold what plant and where I was going to put everybody! I’m planning to propagate all my succulents that have grown leggy from lack of sunlight (even though they’re parked right in front of the window). One plant per container this time. I might rig up a hanging set up for the succulents so my window ledge can be filled with other plants. Everybody needs a piece of that light. You know it’s unbearably dark when even the all-tolerant spider plant starts to die unless it’s parked right in front of the window.

Besides the window being small, the duration of sunlight coming through that window is paltry. Yet the plants hang on. Or mostly. I’ve done in a few and some have come close to dying. One of the plants I got (parlor palm) at IKEA was one that I had previously killed. That’s another reason why Dad’s raising the four new pups. The other three are low-light tolerant – a couple of sansevierias and a bromeliad.

I’m now checking the daily weather for days some of them can go outside. As the days start to get warmer, I like to take some outside, at least for the day and then bring them back in at night. I do that when it starts to get colder in the fall too. Just trying to get them more light than the dim shoebox lets in. Even the low-light tolerant plants grow bigger and faster with more light. Tolerant is just that. They will survive but they won’t thrive.

Last week, I visited the Botanic Gardens.
US Botanic Gardens
My finger is there for scale to show the smallness of those orchid flowers.

The BG is currently featuring orchids because it’s orchid blooming season right now. I just stood in the greenhouse and pretended that’s my living room and that’s how I wake up daily, in leaf-filtered sunlight.
U.S. Botanic Gardens
A girl can dream.

Falafel Inc

Falafel Inc

In short, Max’s in Wheaton is still my favorite falafel place. But this place – Falafel Inc. is delicious.
It’s very simple and tasty and while the place is very small and the lines long, they are efficient.  Their falafels are flavorful and fresh and I’d easily go back.
Falafel sandwich
Their sandwiches are $4 each and salads are $5. Since they’re small, I’d recommend getting at least two of whatever you choose. I might even get three next time I go.

Woof

I think according to the Chinese calendar, the first day of Spring is the lunar new year.  That was a month ago.  It’s been feeling very cold lately though.  Windy.  Definitely not warm enough for the houseplants to go outside.  I’m glad the Daylight Savings Time is back though.  It’s so nice to see the sun still out at 7 pm.

I was/am giving up alcohol for Lent mostly because I haven’t been wanting it lately anyway.  Something easy. I had some whiskey with a friend two weekends after Lent started though.  I wanted to share the new bottle of Bowman Brothers whiskey I just got.  It’s Virginian-made, by a guy who made Buffalo Trace in the past. It has a vanilla fragrance. I like both, Bowman and Buffalo.