Happy Hearts Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I know it’s been actual ages since I’ve popped in here with a post, and believe me, I’ve started the process of opening up a new post more times than I can count, but never seem to quite make it to the actual writing-the-post part. And then, you know, it always seems to kind of compound, because then by the next time you think, oh, I’m ready to write a post, it’s that much harder to start. Because so much time has passed, and so many things have happened, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Anyway, all of that to say, this isn’t building up to anything other than a Happy Valentine’s Day post, which is fine, because I *do* hope you have a great Valentine’s Day! Butttt, I promise, I’ll be back with actual life updates and cute Penny pics and all that good stuff soon.;)

Baby, It’s COLD Outside

At the time of my writing this post, it is 12 degrees outside.

Oh, but don’t worry, if that doesn’t seem cold enough, with wind chill it actually feels like 4 degrees. That ish be COLD.

Sometimes I think about the fact that I went to high school in Canada, and wonder how I did it. I mean, it gets WAY colder than 4 degrees in Ottawa, and I still managed to make it to school every day without complaining too loudly (and in my school uniform, no less!)

A-hem. Anyway.

Other than complaining incessantly about the bitter cold, I spent my weekend doing what most of you did this weekend as well: celebrating Valentine’s Day!

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The highly accurate Valentine’s Day card I got for Sean.
Sean and I actually celebrated a day early by going out to dinner on the 13th. He surprised me with reservations to one of the restaurants on my personal DC Bucket List: Sushi Taro!

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Sushi lover that I am, Sushi Taro has been at the very tippy top of my to-try list for many moons, so obviously I was thrilled that Sean booked us a table at this hyper-authentic, amazing Japanese restaurant.

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They were offering a special Valentine’s Day kaiseki menu this weekend, which included a heckuva lot of deliciousness, and some adventurousness, too! So, without further adieu, I present to you, my dinner:

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The kaiseki menu kicked off with a champagne cocktail made with plum wine and a yamamomo fruit, and I also ordered an additional cocktail… called the Hello Kitty cocktail. Heh. I mean, c’mon I couldn’t NOT order it!

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The Hello Kitty was made with those little sweet Japanese cultured milk/yogurt drinks you can find in the Asian supermarket, which brought me straight back to my childhood — except in a, y’know, more drunk-y way, It was the most fun color, and was served with a Pocky stick, so obviously I loved it.

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Then came out first appetizer, Sushi Taro’s signature cold sesame tofu, topped with Maryland blue crab. I loved it — the texture was so smooth and creamy, and the blue crab was crazy delicious. I’m not sure Sean was as big a fan of this first dish, but I definitely would order this again, no question.

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Course #2 was a tempura’d lobster cake with bamboo shoots. Light and crispy and tasty and delicious, this went down way too fast.

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Then came what we were really waiting for: the sashimi platter. Holy smokes, was this thing BEAUTIFUL. Their plating and presentation is really unparallelled. It was almost too pretty to eat!

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Almost. Heh.

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The sashimi platter included salmon, mackerel, red snapper, oysters, smoked bonito, and a gorgeous lightly cooked lobster tail, and it was all incredible. The fish melted in my mouth like buttahhhhhh, mmm.

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You’d think that the sushi platter would be the be-all and end-all of reasons to come out to Sushi Taro, but believe it or not, what followed was even more incredible. We were treated to real Japanese Wagyu beef in the form of sukiyaki — Japanese hot pot.

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The presentation on this was tremendous fun as well. You get a large stone holster with burning embers inside, and a pot of sweet and savory (umami!) broth simmering on top. Then you get thin slices of raw Wagyu beef on the side, along with a cold poached egg.

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As for the eating, you put the slices of Wagyu beef into the broth to cook them (they cook SUPER fast) and then break your poached egg and dip the beef into the egg before eating.

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You know, I’ve eaten a lot of cows in my life, but I can honestly say I have never had beef like this before. The incredible marbling that comes with Wagyu makes each bite — even with slices as thin as these! — so amazingly tender and flavorful. It just melted onto my tongue. My mouth is literally filling with saliva just thinking about this course. Guff.

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Anyway, not to be outdone by its meatier counterpart, the next course was just as satisfying for a sushi lover like me. Bring on the nigiri!

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We were each served a piece of king yellowtail, zuke tuna, and aji mackerel, and each was sushi perfection. This course came with a plum salt on the side which I thought was particularly interesting — it was like a ground up version of the salted plums my mom makes me suck on when I have a sore throat.

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Then came a quick palette cleanser of lobster miso soup, which, if I’m being totally honest, didn’t taste that much different from regular miso soup. And it could have been hotter, as well. But this is really the only thing out of the entire meal that didn’t absolutely blow my mindhole.

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And the soup was VERY quickly forgotten anyway, because we had more nigiri coming! Our final sushi course included a piece of fatty tuna, our choice of ikura (salmon roe) or uni (sea urchin), and unagi (freshwater eel). This came with a green tea salt on the side of the dish. Sean and I both opted for uni, but then he pansied out and didn’t want to try try his, so I got TWO pieces of uni! Bwahaha.

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Uni was everything I thought it would be. Honestly, I can’t believe I’d gone so long without every having it! It is all smooth creaminess from start to finish, and was such a memorable way to end the savory portion of our meal.

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Of course, you can’t end an epic meal like this without something sweet, so for our final course we each got a slice of Belgian chocolate mousse cake and some hot tea. It was light and fluffy and the perfect slice of sweetness to cap things off!

So there you go, one seriously epic Valentine’s meal on the books! Sean’s gonna have a hard time topping this next year, that’s for sure! On actual Valentine’s Day we played it low-key with lunch and a movie — we saw Kingsman: The Secret Service and it was great! Not exactly a Valentine’s movie in the traditional sense, hehe, but still a ton of fun. Two thumbs up!

I hope all of you had a great weekend as well, whether you decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Single Awareness Day, or just, well, Saturday!

Eggs & Lightning

As you may already suspect based on the title of this post, this is very likely to end up as a bit of a haphazard and non-sequiter post. But seeing as how it’s been quite a few days since my last post, and I find myself slipping dangerously into non-blogging mode, I figured I’d at least update you on a few things.

So, obviously Valentine’s Day was Friday. Let’s talk about that. Sean took me to Me Jana, a lebanese restaurant in Arlington, and dinner was delicious – you probably know very well by now that I love sharing food! So tapas, mezze, small plates, family-style dining, sushi… anything sharable is pretty much the key to my heart. I know, I know. I’m sure that some of you are shaking your heads at me talking about yet another occasion where I went out to eat and indulged, and I’d totally come up with some sort of justification or provide my reasoning (which is basically just that it was Valentine’s Day, duh) but ehhhh, at this point, what am I really gonna say?

I’m always gonna go out to eat, I’m always gonna want to celebrate occasions at restaurants. But I promise, I really am learning. I mean, sure, there was not a small amount of cheese involved in dinner that night, as well as a glass of delicious and sweet white wine sangria, but aside from that I was actually quite restrained and ate relatively well. Seared scallops, a salad with salmon on it, I resisted the siren call of the pita bread basket (well, I mostly resisted it)… really I think I did quite well! Snaps for me, hehe.

The other bonus points for the evening, of course, come from the fact that it was the perfect occasion to wear my latest Stitch Fix acquisition:

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I really love the wrap dress that I was sent in my box this month — the neckline is kind of vintage/forties-inspired, and the pattern is like part-chevron, part-Mike & Ike. Plus it went perfectly with the Seychelles heart shoes that have been hanging in my closet, yearning for their V-day release.

ANYWAY, back to the food thing: Aside from Valentine’s Day dinner, as well as a late-night post-Valentine’s dinner grocery store run to get dessert which resulted in me purchasing two things of Lunchables, I’ve actually been feeling pretty good on the food front! I’m really into eggs lately, which is semi-weird for me, because I used to hate eggs (except the fried egg sandwich that only my mom knows how to make perfectly, of course). But I pretty much throw an egg on errrrverything now, which is an amazing way to turn any kind of leftovers into breakfast food, by the way. I’m really not sure why I went so long living without thinking of breakfast pasta.

It actually really works out that pretty much every time I wander into the kitchen looking for something to eat, I just end up putting a bird an egg on it, since eggs are good for you (protein!), crazy easy to make (microwaved egg sandwich, anyone?), and easy to fit into my daily intake (70 calories per egg).

The protein thing is particularly important, since I am basically clawing my eyes out trying to maintain a good protein ratio in my diet. Even on days when I feel like I’ve eaten really balanced meals, my protein percentage is still at like… 20%. I don’t get it! Aside from having like an entire steak for dinner every night, I don’t know what else I can do to increase my protein ratio. Aside from, well, eating less carbs to lower that part of the formula, I guess…. hahahahahaha. Please. C’mon, serious suggestions only.

Other updates from this past weekend include starting and, subsequently, finishing my newest video game — Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. (Just in case you guys forgot, I am a HUGE nerd.) And I somewhat suspect that all that binge-playing may have had something to do with my other news, which is that I changed my hair color… again. And I did it aaaall by myself this time.

Don’t tell my hairdresser.

Lol, JK, he already knows because we are friends on Facebook and there is obviously no way I can prevent myself from posting every single thing I do on social media. He said it looks good. 🙂 Anyway, it’s kind of hard to see with the bad bathroom lighting, but I bleached the purple out of my hair (bye for now! I’ll be back!) and now it’s a super pastel, soft pink. Just like Lightning.

Going about dyeing my hair on my own this time was very interesting, incredibly educational, and SUPER scary. This is probably deserving of a longer post at some point, but suffice it to say that I had no idea what bleaching the already bleached-then-purpled parts of my hair would do. Well, as it turns out, putting bleach on already bleached hair, even if it has color over it, takes like half a second to get it back to the pre-colored blonde. Seriously, it seemed like the SECOND I put the bleach over my lengths, the color lifted out. Which kind of made me freak out, because I didn’t want my hair to snap and fall out from being over-bleached, so I ended up washing it out after only like 10 or 15 minutes, and so my roots only lightened a tiny bit. But oh well — consider my lesson learned! #themoreyouknow

Aaaanyway, and that about catches us up! In addition to a post on the necessary magic needed to dye yourself some pastel locks, I also owe you an update about how my lingual braces are going (they are MUCH, much, much, much, much better), as well as some exciting things that will be happening soon for my job. Plus, you know, all the regular weight loss stuff and pictures of my food and definitely some humblebragging about how many times I made it to the gym this week (twice so far!). So, you know, good stuff ahead… stay tuned!

Kushi Sushi

Happy February 15th, friends! I realize it lacks some of the fanfare and pizzazz of February 14th, but hey, at least it’s Friday, right? And hopefully at least some of you are still riding the wave of a lovely Valentine’s Day–I know I am! Not to brag (even though I totally am), but I’m preeeetty sure I had the best Valentine’s Day ever.

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When we left off yesterday, I told you all that Sean had planned some big Valentine’s surprise dinner, and wouldn’t tell me where we were going. And I expressed my love-hate relationship with surprises (mostly love, I’m just really impatient, haha), and my anticipation over where we were going. Well, as I found out about an hour before we left for dinner, our destination was…

KUSHI!

Kushi is a sushi restaurant in downtown DC that I have wanted to go to for FOREVER, and never had. I was SO excited to get to finally try it out. But before we were off to dinner, Sean had another surprise for me first:

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The generous son of a gun got me a Michael Kors watch and roses for Valentine’s Day! Ughhhhh, why is he so good to meeeeee? I LOVE it. I’ve had an MK watch on my wishlist for a loooong time (no, like, literally on my Amazon wishlist) and while the one I originally had on there is not available any more, Sean picked this beauty out for me. And that makes me love it even more, because he chose it himself! Eeeeee, my first fancy watch! I feel like such a grown-up. Though I am just realizing that talking about this makes me seem more like a spoiled teenager than an adult… and I don’t care. 😀

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My preeeeciousssss…

What was I talking about? Oh, right, dinner. Heh. So! New bling dangling off my wrist (I need to get a few links removed for it to fit properly, but I couldn’t NOT wear it!) and off we went to Kushi.

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I started off with a Sake Blossom cocktail while we were waiting to be seated. It included lime juice, sake, St. Germaine’s (I still don’t know what this is, haha), and vodka. Needless to say, it was entirely too delicious (spoiler alert: I got kinda drunk last night, bahaha). Then we were seated–admittedly, the seating in this restaurant doesn’t give off a super romantic vibe because everything is set up VERY close together, but I didn’t really mind.

Because it was a special occasion, and also because it was the first time there for both of us, we both opted for Kushi’s Tasting Menu rather than ordering things a la carte. (Apologies for all the iPhone photos, but I just didn’t really feel like dragging my giant DSLR around with me on Valentine’s Day, haha.)

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The tasting menu includes a sampling of basically all the various food types that Kushi offers. While they obviously do have sushi on the menu (thank goodness), the restaurant’s real “thing” is Yakitori–grilled meats and vegetables on skewers. It’s essentially classed-up Japanese street food. The menu started out with some sake (see where that whole “I got drunk” thing comes in?) and then a choice between three appetizers. Both Sean and I opted for the spicy peel-and-eat shrimp. Then, we both got to choose two kinds of yakitori from the menu.

We chose all different yakitori types so we could try the highest number of items, of course (love working as a team!) and got the pork belly (amazing!), duck with scallion (delicious!), pheasant sausage (the surprise winner–SO good!), and a rather lackluster chicken with plum sauce. Despite the chicken being disappointing, the other three were absolutely scrumptious.

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After the yakitori we were served some miso soup, which was good but pretty standard, and then… a sushi sampling! The sushi at Kushi (heh, that’s fun to say) was very fresh — I was very excited to see how thick the salmon sashimi was, because it’s my faaaaaavorite (it’s like buttah). We also got tuna and yellowfish nigiri, and three pieces of a wasabi scallop roll. The sushi was very good, although I almost wish it had been a little bit more of an adventurous selection, given that we weren’t able to pick the kinds of sushi included in the tasting menu. Even so, this was definitely my favorite part of the meal because, well, sushi is my favorite thing ever. Duh.

We were given an option between three things for the main entree of the meal. I opted for the hangar steak, while Sean got the pork tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). My steak was cooked very well (medium-rare, even though they didn’t ask how I’d like it cooked) and had a really smokey flavor, but I actually liked Sean’s more. The pork was just so juicy! I got a salad on the side, and Sean got Japanese fried rice. They also both weirdly came with some kind of Asian potato salad, which was good in a culturally jarring kind of way, hahaha.

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Oh, before I forget, we also ordered one a la carte item off of the menu in addition to the tasting menu. As soon as I saw they carried a brussels sprout dish, you know I HAD to get it! It was advertised as being cooked with garlic butter, but I have to admit that these were pretty disappointing. They were smokey, but otherwise seemed unseasoned. Sean said he liked mine much better, hehehe. Still, I never regret ordering brussels sprouts, so all’s well that ends well, I guess!

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For the last part of the tasting menu, dessert was included. We were offered two gelatos or a bowl of seasonal fruit, and since I made the unfortunate decision to give up sweets for Lent, I was forced to go with the fruit option. I was actually kind of looking forward to it… until it arrived. Instead of a bowl of different fruits, which you kind of would assume based on the wording, I got one giant bowl of cantaloupe. So, I basically ate an entire cantaloupe for dessert, hahaha. Not the granded cap on a good meal, but oh well.

So! Overall I really did enjoy my meal at Kushi. I’m glad we did the tasting menu and I got to sample a bit of everything, but I think I might have built it up in my head a little bit much though, because I wasn’t utterly blown away by it all. The service was good–I really liked our waitress–and almost all the food came out in a very timely way, with the exception of our main entrees. If I lived closer, I might want to go back for more yakitori (that pheasant sausage really was insanely good!) but I will be sticking to my beloved Koi Koi for my sushi cravings.

So there we go: my epic and romantic Valentine’s Day celebration, complete with good food, an entirely-too-generous gift, and quality time spent with my love. Cheesy, I know, but so am I so… suck it up. 😉 Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the final good thing to come out of this, which is that when I awoke this morning–blessedly NOT hungover, huzzah!–my makeup still looked totally boss. Hence, the whole happy February 15th jazz from the beginning of this post, hahaha. Never doubt the utility of a good eyeshadow primer!

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This makeup brought to you by last night.

I hope you all had a wonderful V-Day, and will have an equally wonderful weekend! Tomorrow evening, I’m meeting back up with the fabulous Lauren from Oatmeal After Spinning, and Kelly from Kelly Fiore Writes (who I met for the first time last weekend at the Frederick Restaurant Week sneak peek) and we’re going to Founding Farmers in Bethesda. I had a not-so-great experience at the Founding Farmers in DC when I went there for my birthday a few years back, but I am excited to give this location a shot!

<3 <3 <3

Happy

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

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Harry and Daxter got to spend a large chunk of yesterday at their favorite place in whole wide world: the groomer! So they came home sporting gentlemanly beards and heart-spotted Valentine’s bandannas. Oh, how I love my tiny old man dogs. Heeee. 😀

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Why did you do this to me?

Valentine’s Day is one of those “holidays” (I use the term loosely) that I’ve always really liked, even when I wasn’t romantically attached. I know a lot of single people rally against this day, but I dunno. I guess that even when I wasn’t in a relationship, I just liked what the day stands for. Love, y’know? Because, let’s be honest, I am a huuuuuge drippy romantic cheeseball at heart. (This should really not surprise anyone though. I mean, you guys have seen how into weddings I am. I am pretty ridiculous.)

Sean is keeping me in the dark about our Valentine’s Day plans tonight, the wonderful jerk. He absolutely LOVES planning surprises and I am the wooooorst at waiting patiently for them. I have a love-hate relationship with surprises, actually. I love the IDEA of being surprised, but I also want to know everything ever ahead of time (I’m the kind of person who actually loves reading spoilers for movies, haha). So all I know is that we have dinner reservations SOMEWHERE in DC. But other than that, zilch. Hopefully he a least got the memo about me giving up sweets and desserts for Lent though (what unfortunate timing!) and forewent the box o’ chocolates this year. I wonder if an Edible Arrangement would count against my Lenten sacrifice? 😉

Anyway! Since I have no idea where we’re going or what we’re doing, I guess I’ll report back in tomorrow with the V-Day celebration. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Just remember to bask in the love, mon amis–whether that’s relationshippy love, familial love, or–the best love of all–the canine kind.

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