Nothing like warming your tail on a chilly Spring evening…
Nothing like warming your tail on a chilly Spring evening…
I mean that in all seriousness – the weekend passed at one of those weird…sort of fast and sort of slow paces where sometimes I’d look at the clock and think “is that the time?” and later look again and think “IS THAT the time?!?” I know – crazy, right?
Time is strange thing because the week itself seemed to have that fast and slow quality going on all at once – so I guess the trend just carried through to the weekend. Regardless of the way time moves, the real report I have for you this weekend is that a hidden gem in Northern Virginia is Water Street Kitchen! It’s on the walking mall in Winchester, Virginia and was recently revamped – and the food is to die for!
We popped in for dinner on Friday night and I would go back in a heartbeat! We started with the sweet corn hush puppies – I could have eaten the whole basket on my own but between trying not to weigh hundreds of pounds and also feeling that I should probably share the food…well, I didn’t eat all of them on my own! I got the chicken fritters (just chicken tenders) with loaded baked beans and macaroni and cheese as my sides – and yes; nothing about that meal says healthy but it does say delicious!
I’d definitely recommend checking this place out but it’s a small restaurant – so arrive early or be prepared to wait. They do have outdoor seating and the walking mall is really nice in the Spring…then again; it’s snowing today and so “Spring” is a relative term.
After popping into Books A Million and Target for a bit, it was on to the house and I let my pup lick the last bits of mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt off my bar while watching the final episode of Fixer Upper!
I can’t even pretend that I have anything exciting to tell you about Saturday – it was the epitome of a lazy day. The forecasted snow never arrived, thank goodness. The sky stayed a slate gray and it was cold all day long…so not exactly the kind of day where a person wants to go running into the arms of adventure, you know? I had coffee and snuggled with my dog…had waffles for breakfast and got in some exercise…
We made an afternoon Target run (yes – another one. Don’t judge me.) and had delicious homemade potato soup for supper…my pup discovered a little creature’s hole in the backyard and was thoroughly enchanted…then I watched Captain America: Civil War before ending the night. I told you – my Saturday was not even remotely exciting.
Sunday morning after a rousing church service, I found my way into the multipurpose room to start the NEXT class – a requirement for people considering membership at Abundant Life. I am so shy and absolutely hate things like this because I’m always on my own – but I introduced myself to the people at my table, had a little pizza for lunch and somehow I survived the first class – shocker, I know! Ha-ha!
When class was over, my parents popped by the church and picked me up and we headed over to Hagertown, Maryland for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Tale As Old As Time – Disney in Concert. The symphony and the performers that sang alongside them were fantastic and the show was absolutely wonderful. There were an abundance of little people dressed as their favorite Disney princesses…and when they performed Let It Go (y’all – of course they performed Let It Go…) a bunch of little voices were singing along… so sweet!
Granted – the toddler behind me was not so moved by the power of love.. during the song So This is Love from Cinderella, she heartily disagreed with the line “my heart has wings…and I can fly..” by declaring out loud “UGH – YOU CANNOT FLY!” Let’s just say on this particular day, I understood her sentiments completely.
After the grand finale and the encore, we made our way to one of those hole in the wall restaurants for dinner – Mexican food. And listen; while the food was fine and it tasted alright and all that jazz, I still question that the “chicken” in my burrito bowl was chicken. It looked enough like chicken that I wasn’t insanely worried (I still ate it…) but there were a couple pieces that just looked…not quite like chicken. *sigh* I know – I’m crazy.
I took a Sunday night bubble bath and then watched baseball for a good two hours until I decided to give up the ghost and try to get some sleep … but funnily enough, once I got in the bed I just tossed and turned. Either way – the weekend came to an end and Monday arrived again way too soon – then again; I always feel that way!
I suppose now that Spring has arrived, it’s not really soup season anymore but I love soup every day of the week and would eat it year round! As I am such a devoted lover of soup, I am always looking for new recipes to try out and I recently gave three Pinterest recipes a whirl – and two out of three turned out pretty great – so I guess one Pinterest fail isn’t too bad, right?
I’ve ranked the soups from best to worst (in my experience) and shared the recipes for all three. The first soup was easy and a huge hit, the second was easy and got a positive review and the third was less easy…did not turn out so hot…and ended up being converted to chicken, corn and potato chowder after it’s failure in it’s original incarnation.
Chicken Crack Soup
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine cooked chicken, cheese soup, chicken broth, milk, chopped celery, sliced carrots, ranch dressing mix and bacon bits.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
Stir in dried noodles and shredded cheddar cheese. Cook for 5 minutes, until noodles are soft.
You guys – this soup is absolutely amazing! It has crack in the name for a reason and it’s because it is so good, it’s addicting. This soup was an absolute hit at my house and given how easy it is to make – if you choose one of these soups to make, I’d tell you to make this one every. single. time.
Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup
Heat olive oil in a soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion & cook, stirring often, 4-5 minutes or until soft. Stir in garlic & cook for 3-45 seconds. Add green chiles, chicken, salsa, chicken stock and enchilada sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover & turn heat to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Stir in cheeses until completely melted and combined
Garnish soup with tortilla chips – you could also garnish with (more) shredded cheese, lime or sour cream!
Another soup that I absolutely loved – this tastes like an enchilada in a bowl and I am all about that. It’s just the right amount of spicy and creamy and just all around delicious! It got positive reviews from my taste testers too…
Mexican Street Corn Soup
Heat oil in a large nonstick pan or Dutch oven until shimmering. Add corn kernels, chopped onion, chili powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until onions are soft & corn is light, golden brown in spot; about 10 minutes.
Add garlic & cook until fragrant; 1 minute. Remove 1 1/2 cups of corn mixture from the pot & set aside. Stir broth & 6 stripped corn cobs into the pot, scraping the brown bits on the bottom. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for 20 minutes.
Use tongs to remove corn cobs from pot & discard.
Stir sour cream and Cotija cheese into the soup. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (in batches, depending on the size of your processor or blender) or use an immersion blender to puree soup until smooth.
Return soup to pot & if needed, gently reheat to desired serving temperature. Stir in half of the reserved corn mixture & lime juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper & chili powder.
Serve soup tossed with remaining corn mixture and an extra sprinkling of Cotija cheese, if desired.
Well – this soup did not turn out well and there are probably a million reasons for that. I used canned corn combined with some corn scraped from the cob and well…that just didn’t seem to work out so well. I’m not sure where else I might have gone wrong, but for me this soup just turned out like…a lot of creamed corn.
The flavor was fine – but it just tasted like a big ol’ pot of creamed corn. I had such high hopes for this soup because Mexican street corn is what made me fall in love with corn after not eating for basically my entire life. So – this one was a let down for me, but perhaps if you follow the directions, your batch will turn out much better?
Each of these recipes were taken from Pinterest and are not my own; I merely tried my hand at them. The pictures are also from Pinterest and while the pictures I took of the first two batches of soup definitely look like the pictures above, my Mexican street corn DID NOT! I like pretty pictures – so I went with those!
It’s finally Friday – yahoo!
One. Snow – That’s right… it’s early April, the first day of Spring was a couple weeks ago and here in Northern Virginia…Winter will not let go! Earlier in the week the Weather Channel was forecasting a 100% chance of snow; 5-8 inches of accumulation and I definitely was feeling about the same as Jon Snow is below… Well now the snow chance has decreased to 80% and they are predicting just 1-3 inches of accumulation. Either way, any snow in April is too much snow for me!
Update – now the snow chance is gone! So maybe I won’t be looking like Jon Snow tomorrow? All the praise hands!
Two. Free Shipping – Today and tomorrow only, Perfectly Posh is offering free shipping on all orders over $25! Perfectly Posh has a lot of great deals going on right now but free shipping on orders over $25 is great – you can try out a couple products and get them sent your way for free!
If you’ve ever wanted to give Perfectly Posh a try – now is the time! You can head over to my website at http://NatalieSummerlin.po.sh and check it out for yourself!
Three. Cherry Blossoms – The cherry blossoms are at peak bloom! Amazingly all the crazy weather fluctuations haven’t hindered them too much and the tidal basin is currently ringed in pink petals! Seeing the cherry blossoms is one of my favorite things and if I have the chance, I love get to DC and take them in – even if it’s insanely crowded! I don’t think it’s in the cards this year…but as another blogger I follow pointed out, at least I have gorgeous pictures from previous years to look at!
Four. The Maryland Symphony – Sunday afternoon I’m going to the symphony and I’m quite excited! The Maryland Symphony is putting on a concert composed of some of the best known songs from Disney movies and we all know I’m a big ol Disney nerd! Some of the songs that are included in the performance are a Tangled medley, and Enchanted Helpers medley, a Villains medley…and so much more! There will be giant screens to go along with the music and I just know it will be spectacular!
Five. Nationals Baseball – The Nationals actually have today off but they’ve already got seven games under their belt for the 2018 and their record currently stands at 4-3, so we’ve won (one) more than we’ve lost. Adam Eaton was named NL Player of the Week for the first week of baseball and Bryce Harper seems bound and determined to prove anyone who calls him overrated wrong – my first game is next Friday and I can’t wait for more afternoons and evenings spent at the ballpark!
That’s this week’s Five on Friday – if you have a blog and want to join in, feel free to post about five things on your mind this Friday…or five things you’re loving right now…really just five of anything YOU want to talk about and share!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend – the first weekend in April!
Quizzes – sometimes they’re deep and meaningful, sometimes they’re about as deep as a puddle. The kind of quizzes that can be found on Buzzfeed (and a lot of the so-called “news”) most definitely fall into the second category; because, something tells me that picking seven desserts will not actually reveal when I will get married (the answer was 27 – which is funny since I’m 33 and still single).
In the spirit of all things crazy and random, I decided to let Buzzfeed tell me a little bit about myself. The answers to some of the quizzes were sometimes startlingly accurate and sometimes glaringly hilarious and quite far off the mark. So, without further ado, I give you…ME…according to Buzzfeed.
The Marvel Character – Obviously the most important of all quizzes, this puts forth seven questions and reveals which Marvel cinematic universe character matches your personality. Color me not even remotely surprised with my result.
I think almost anyone who knows me well could read that result and raise their hand to say “preach the truth!” I probably worry about doing the right thing way too much and I always…always…always want all of life to be fair. If I had a nickel for every time my Mom told me “well sometimes life isn’t fair” as I was growing up, well I’d have a lot of nickels. Now if only I could whip my body into the female equivalent of Captain America peak fitness…
Mythical Monster – A Gorgon?!? Y’all…I hate snakes! I HATE snakes! I cannot even remotely imagine having a head of snakes for hair – I’d just go ahead and have a heart attack. I don’t even remember the questions here, but I feel like I chose wrong…
I get that the whole point is that this is a monster – but why does it have to be a monster with snakes attached to it’s head? I just don’t know how accurate this is – but then again, who knows what the other options could have been?
Mythical Animal – A unicorn! Of course I’m a unicorn! I love this answer and not just because unicorns are very trendy right now – who wouldn’t want to be a unicorn, especially with such a glowing review!
I won’t be self indulgent enough to say “this describes me perfectly”…but I do my best to find the positive in every situation and my co-workers have commented more than a few times on how I’m like a ray of sunshine because I am always optimistic. So perhaps at least those two things are correct? I’ll take it! Now I just need to get myself a unicorn headband…
Perfect State – I’m California born, Mississippi raised and currently living in Virginia…but according to this quiz, I need to make my way back out west – to Colorado! I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Colorado (my younger sister attended college in CO) and I have to say, I wouldn’t hate living there – it’s a gorgeous state!
I don’t know how hip I am…I feel like I am NOT hip, but I am pretty chill and I find I can be pretty open-minded as well. I like that I’m seeing optimistic pop up again; I try so hard to be positive, I think it makes life much easier. I think it’s funny that a similarity that keeps coming through all these random quizzes is that I’m optimistic – I certainly try to be!
Classic Book – Can I confess that I’ve never read Jane Eyre? Because I absolutely haven’t…I actually haven’t ever read any Bronte! I have watched the film version of Jane Eyre with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of Jane Eyre.
I’m glad to know that I’m apparently strong-willed (although I don’t see that in myself…) but in the movie it seemed Jane was more morally strong and unwilling to bend her morals. She certainly loved Mr. Rochester and (spoiler) she gets her man in the end, but I don’t know that it’s because she just reached out and grabbed him… Oh well, whatever!
Disney Character – I’m not certain that I’m mischievous but I am fun and a little bit crazy! I also happen to love Stitch and I really enjoy the movie Lilo & Stitch, so I cracked up a little bit when this was the answer to the quiz.
Another big point in the Stitch column is that family is everything – and that is very true for me. So I suppose getting Stitch as my Disney character is pretty on the head…and I also suppose that some days I might be a little more than a “bit” crazy, ha-ha!
Pizza Partner – Well this is awkward. How in the world am I supposed to have a pizza with myself? Ha-ha! I suppose this makes some sense because if I had to pick one of the Marvel men to have pizza with…well no; I’d pick Stephen Strange first, but Steve Rogers would be a close second!
He has those clean cut good looks and charm – what’s not to love about that? And you just know with Steve Rogers that chivalry isn’t dead! So, where are we getting pizza from?
Well – while I’m certain that I won’t be going out for pizza with Steve Rogers, moving to Colorado any time soon or styling my hair with serpents… quizzes always give me a laugh. It’s always funny to see what kind of responses your answers generate – and from time to time, maybe even a goofy little Buzzfeed quiz will get more right than you thought!
I just love this picture and I love my little guy – I can see a lot of gray in his fur now that he is older and that makes me feel a bit sad, but he’s still the sweet and active little guy he’s always been.
Let me start this off by saying I didn’t spend the whole weekend eating Easter candy and confections…but there were plenty of delicious things to eat all weekend and I didn’t hesitate to take part! Honestly – the pictures below are an amalgamation of sweet treats that accrued over the week…but Easter only comes once a year and I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on the goodies!
My parents spent the previous weekend in Charleston and returned with cupcakes and especially for me, some light and fluffy macarons! Later in the week our intern; an 18 year old boy that we are all trying to groom to be the perfect gentleman, went down to the bakery and bought us all Easter cookies – I guess he is taking in some of the things we’re teaching him, ha-ha! My Mom bought more Easter cookies on Thursday evening…so there was just sugar coming from every angle!
Friday was the start of a three day weekend and when I got home on Thursday evening, I exulted in the knowledge that I had nothing to do that was related to getting up early or going in to the office on Friday! I slept in on Friday, sipped coffee while watching an episode of The Office and blogging…and sure; I did do some laundry and go by the DMV, but over all the day was very low key!
I managed to snag the perfect personalized Washington Nationals car tag(s) and took it as a positive sign that my Nationals would be starting the 2018 off on a good foot! We got dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant on Friday night, grabbed a couple things from Martin’s (that’s a grocery store y’all…) and then returned home, where I binged a few more episodes of The Office with a side of sugar cookie(s). The Nationals won their first game on Friday afternoon behind the fierce arm of Max Schrezer and between the win, the weekend and the sugar rush…I went to sleep quite happy on Friday night!
Saturday was a full day – and it was wonderful! The weather was absolutely gorgeous; sunny and in the low 60’s and after munching on a red velvet muffin and sipping my required two cups of coffee, it was off to Georgetown for the day!
We arrived in the bustle of the city around 10:30 and parked along the street before setting out on foot to check out the campus of Georgetown University – in all the years I’ve lived in Northern Virginia and all the times I’ve visited the DC area before I lived here – I have never set foot on the campus of Georgetown! I remedied that on Saturday, via the steps from The Exorcist…ha-ha! Seriously though – we climbed all 75 steps that were used in the filming of The Exorcist, hung a left and headed up the street and on to the campus – which was gorgeous!
Healy Hall is the building that is most notable on the campus; it’s the building that can be spied across the Potomac as you race past the Key Bridge and into DC and it really is just one of many gorgeous buildings on campus. The weeping cherry trees and Japanese magnolias were blooming and made for some beautiful shots – especially with the amazing blue sky in the background!
We made our way through the campus and down the streets of Georgetown, walking slowly back toward the main street and the shops we wanted to pop into. I absolutely love the row houses in Georgetown and if I somehow was gifted all the money in the world, I’d buy myself one and live happily wandering down to Dean and Deluca on Saturday morning for coffee and goodies. We happened on Georgetown Cupcakes and for once, the line wasn’t halfway up the block – so that meant we had to get cupcakes!
By the time we finished choosing our cupcakes and making our purchase, the line had extended out the door and up the sidewalk…it’s crazy how fast that place gets busy! The one place I was most interested in getting to was Olivia Macaron; hands down some of the best macarons I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, I popped in and grabbed a box of seven – and they added on a bunny macaron for no extra charge! We grabbed sandwiches from Dean and Deluca for lunch, munched on them out on the patio seating and then headed back toward our car…
We did pop into Pie Sisters before heading to our next stop; we were parked right beside them and April 2nd is my Dad’s birthday, he’s more of a pie guy anyway…so we grabbed a coconut cream pie for him! It was off to Tudor Place for our 1:00 tour – and amazingly, we found parking on the road right outside the gorgeous house and had time to snap some pictures of the house prior to our tour – again, the day was so perfect as far as the weather was concerned, we couldn’t have asked for a better day!
Tudor Place is a Federal style mansion that belonged to the Peter family; the original owner was Martha Custis Peter, a granddaughter of Martha Washington. The home was originally built as two separate and defined building and as each owner took over the house and added on, the home eventually met in the middle. The feature the home is known for; the Temple Portico at it’s center, was designed by William Thornton – the architect of the original US Capitol building (whose columns are now at the US Arboretum). The portico is unique because while most portico are only a half moon shape off the front of a home, the portico on Tudor Place is a full circle that curves inward on the front of the home.
The home tour was full of information – our guide was very chatty and loaded with knowledge about the house, which she shared at length and I ate up every word. The home is known for having over 100 items from Mount Vernon; the Washington’s furnishings and knick knacks were sold off in an estate sale following their death and many of the items were purchased by their granddaughter Martha. There were so many fascinating tidbits that were shared during the tour – I could tell you all of them, but then this post would be way too long…
A few of my favorite points include the copies of the Washington Post on display from the days directly following the sinking of the Titanic, the cast iron stove in the kitchen that weighed so much that the kitchen floor had to be reinforced! The metal duck that looks inauspicious enough but was actually an old school humidifier – you put water in the duck and as it heated up, steam poured from the duck’s beak! And lastly, the couture collection on display in the closet; once worn by the home’s final owner’s wife – Caroline Ogden-Jones Peter.
Once the tour of the house was completed, we were able to stroll through the gardens at Tudor Place and while they aren’t large – they are lovely. Boxwoods, gravel pathways and multiple Japanese magnolias in both pink and white, all bursting into bloom. I feel like my pictures do a much better job than my words – so check those out!
Around 2:30 we headed right up the street…probably what amounted to less than a tenth of a mile and hopped in the line to get tickets for Dumbarton Oaks Gardens & Museum. I’ll preface this by telling you that Dumbarton Oaks and Dumbarton House are two different things…although Dumbarton Oaks also includes a house (but you can’t go inside)… isn’t that all clear as mud? The home (or the earlier parts of the home) was built in the early 1800’s on a parcel of land called The Rock of Dumbarton and would pass through many owners, including Vice President John C. Calhoun.
The Bliss family acquired the house in 1920, named it Dumbarton Oaks, redesigned the house and added expansive gardens over the fifty-four acres of land and filled the home with the art they had collected on their travels. The Bliss family gifted Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940 and included the house, the gardens, the outbuildings and their expansive library and collection of art. The house has a storied history…but we came to check out the gardens.
The gardens spread out over the fifty-four acres and backs up to Rock Creek at it’s boundaries. The layout includes pools, terraced gardens, a pebble garden, a swimming pool, roses and a cherry tree lined lane…to name a few of the many features that you can take in. I may not make it to the Tidal Basin this year to see the cherry trees, but the trees on Dumbarton’s Cherry Tree Hill were blooming beautifully and compelled me to take multiple pictures.
The House; as I mentioned, is not open for tours but now serves as a museum and teaching facility for lectures and events related to arts and humanities. I did get a quick peek into one of the windows to glimpse the front hall of the house – and the house itself is large and stunningly beautiful. The pebble garden was one of the more unique “gardens” that we saw; although I’m more accustomed to calling a garden something with flowering vegetation…and this garden had only pebbles.
After a good couple hours wandering the expansive gardens and taking so many pictures (seriously y’all – these aren’t all my pictures…), we hopped back in the car and attempted to make our way toward the Tidal Basin just to sneak a peek at the cherry trees. I’d forgotten that as part of the month long Cherry Blossom Festival, the kite flying around the Washington Monument was taking place…and coupled with that; the cherry blossoms are not fully bloomed but already looking gorgeous… traffic was a nightmare!
It took us twenty-five minutes to go about two miles and we watched some crazy drivers have some near misses with pedestrians (eek!) – but the slow crawl gave me a chance to snap a picture or three of all the kites floating on the breeze around the Washington Monument. After spinning past the Tidal Basin (we didn’t get out…oh well..) we headed out of DC and grabbed an early supper at Sweetwater Tavern en route to the house.
I would love to say that I passed Saturday evening continuing the fun of the day – but I only sort of did. I poked around on my phone some and ended up starting Spider-Man Homecoming (such a good movie if you’ve never watched it)…but not finishing it. I’m not sure what triggered it, but about halfway through I started getting a headache and it got progressively worse – so much so that I finally took some medicine and tapped out at about 9:30 – on a Saturday night.
I did get a couple funny pictures of my goofy pup sitting beside me on the couch, deeply engrossed in watching the adventures of Spider-Man. I sure do love that sweet little pup!
Thankfully when I woke up on Sunday, all signs of my headache were gone! I sipped my coffee, had a muffin for breakfast and then got myself all dolled up (ha-ha) for church service. The Easter service at my church was wonderful – I shared the video from the Easter service here on the blog on Sunday – and I am so thankful that I know that my mistakes and sins are covered by the grace of Jesus’ death on the cross. He is risen indeed and what a celebration the church service was!
My parents and I had our Easter dinner at Olive Garden – which my younger sister found incredibly funny (she was in California celebrating with cousins) – but hey; the food was good and the company was better! The Easter bunny brought me some delicious chocolate(s), Peeps, some gift cards and tickets to the show Baz at the Venetian in Las Vegas! The show is compromised of musical performances from three of Baz Luhrmann’s films: Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby – my sister and I have been wanting to see it for some time – and now we will be seeing it in May!
The rest of my Easter Sunday was quite low key – I watched my Nationals win their third straight game and sweep the Reds to open the season… I did a little blogging… I re-worked a pot of Mexican street corn soup into potato chicken corn chowder (it was the saving of a failed soup, reborn as something better…) and I took a bubble bath. All in all, a nice way to wind down a long weekend.
And now here we are – it’s Tuesday already (it’s only Tuesday?) and time marches on!