House Update: Pretty, Pretty Things

There have been a few developments on the decorating front. Stuff we ordered when we moved in suddenly started to pour in at a rapid place. Which is all very, very exciting. Come, take a walk with me through the Poe Palace (fine, it’s Chauteau de XFE, but I was consulted on some of the decisions.)

First up is the biggest deal: the shed, which we had built and which was fraught with difficulties, including discovering that our first choice of wood stained our concrete while it was piled up outside in the rain. Then, our contractor Rob started putting it on the shed front anyway, only to discover a day later that it would continue to run and stain our concrete and anything else it touched. So it had to go.

Shed 1

BUT, the shed was so worth the wait. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Shed 2

The (non-leaking) wood is called ipe and it’s very fancy. Especially for a shed.

Shed 3

The shed is the home to our grill and the Big Green Egg, which is why it’s so fancy. Can’t have the BGE just slumming it. So we had a shed built that’s only slightly less nice than our house. Speaking of….


That’s my new shower curtain. It’s a chandelier. Cuz I’m fancy like that.

Chaise 1

My chaise from West Elm finally showed up. It’s a bit more “stuffed” and less sleek than I expected, but it’s really comfortable.  And, well, it’s not really returnable since we custom ordered it, not that I ever would return it. It’s just a bit mushy compared to XFE’s sleek white couch.


It’s even Petunia approved.


As you can see, there’s also a new piece of art hanging in the dining room. It’s a bull. His name is Sonny the Longhorn.


It’s by an artist named Jennifer Moreman from Tyler, Texas. Funny story: every time we go to a steakhouse and they have those old Western paintings of bulls, XFE cracks a joke (apparently, he was not joking) about needing a painting like that for our house.

With that in mind, I began searching around for something similar but modern. I found Moreman’s shop on Etsy, but her paintings were prohibitively expensive. Recently, while looking for house stuff, XFE sent me a link to a sale on One King’s Lane, but I never opened it.

A day or two later, I remembered Moreman’s Etsy shop and sent it to XFE with a note saying I knew it was expensive, but maybe we could buy it for Christmas or something. He responded right away about how he saw this artist on OKL and for a lot less. It was total kismet.  I love it so, so, so much. It combines my Texan heritage,  our inside joke, and our love of modern art.

Finally, you might also have noticed a new dining room rug peaking out and you would be right.

dining room rug

It’s a gorgeous peacock blue.

dining room rug 2

We’re missing a dining room chair because we’re having new seats made to replace the rattan. And it’s cheaper than replacing all of the chairs wholesale.

So that’s the latest on our decorating adventures. The rest is just small decorative stuff, but all the major pieces are in place. We even bought a pillow (the one behind Petunia in the picture above), which we got for free, basically, because of our recent One King’s Lane purchases.

Weekend in Review: Burgers, Backyards, Sweaty Runs

This past weekend was gloriously devoid of an agenda. My house-spouse XFE took care of most of the errands when he got back on Friday, so there was very little running around. Only one brief trip to Home Depot, which is pretty unusual since we moved into the house. I’m pretty sure that if we hadn’t at least stopped by, the folks at HD would have sent out a search party and plastered Missing posters over the greater Northern Virginia area.

We spent Saturday poking around places like TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and World Market looking for decorative items and pillows. We’re not really knickknack people. We don’t collect things. This, however, poses a slight problem when you have multiple large flat surfaces to decorate. Thus, the trip to Homegoods, et. al. We mostly came up empty, except for these very cheerful striped pillows to classy up our plastic Adirondack chairs.

My personal interior decorator XFE did order these gorgeous mercury glass candle holders from Gilt. I have a candle addiction (no, seriously. I have a stockpile. And I have a blaze going pretty much every night.), so these are perfect for the house.  They came in Monday and will definitely fill some surfaces.

Personal chef XFE did a pretty good job of keeping my weight up this weekend by visiting his favorite man in the whole world, Steve the Butcher at Let’s Meat on the Avenue. The result was burgers with thick cuts of bacon, avocado, and cheddar and sriracha spiked mayo on Saturday.

Those burgers fueled my 3.87 mile run on Sunday (nope. Couldn’t make it one more time around the block for an even 4.) I started pretty late (around 9 am) and just about died.

Not really sure why I started my run so late. Oh yeah. Because this is the forlorn little cat face I have to tear myself away from when I go for a run. She sits at the top of the stairs and just watches me walking away from her.

After the minor heat stroke, I stayed inside the rest of the day, which suited my borderline agoraphobic/misanthrope personality.

We closed out the weekend with the inaugural Big Green Egg effort at the new house. Ribs, pork and beef, and corn on the cob. After dinner we sat on our cheap plastic chairs, lit some outdoor candles (I told you I have a problem), and finished off an Austrian red wine, called, I think, zweigelt (??).



I know there were other things going on Sunday night, including the closing ceremonies for the Olympics. I was fine with missing out on that until I found out that this awesomeness happened. That Kate Moss sure knows how to bring the fierceness.

Now that the Olympics are over, I understand there’s discussion of future events to add to the Olympics. One of the main contenders is pole dancing. Which brings us to this.

How to Know if You’re a Pretentious Foodie

I’m at a three day work event where I’m sitting right next to my boss, elbow to elbow, in a basically subterranean bunker with practically no cell phone service. So no personal Twitter, no Web surfing for weird blog fodder, not even texting with XFE. This must be what solitary confinement is like. Oh, plus inspirational speaker after motivational speaker.


And, I did not write anything for the blog this past weekend because I was busy not preparing for XFE coming home on Saturday evening. He specifically told me to pick something up for dinner. But I was so paralyzed by my potential to pick the wrong thing that I fell back into my default position: wait until XFE tells me what we should eat. This ineffective dining strategy earned me a well-deserved scolding. However, I did not really detect any element of surprise.

But, I did buy the ingredients for a feast on Sunday night. XFE made homemade pasta with tomatoes, basil, garlic and lobster shrimp, which are, SHOCKINGLY, shrimp that taste just like lobster. I know, right? Crazy! Let’s hear it for science and genetically engineered seafood. There are no pictures because, well, I slurped it down way too fast.

We’ve made this pasta dish before, but it had been a while.

We had actually built up quite the appetite on Sunday….we went and looked at our first house. XFE has decided to dip a toe – potentially – into the housing market. This is, of course, fraught with anxiety and trepidation on my part. I’m pretty lazy and hesitant to change. But, we’re a team and I trust XFE. If he says it’s time to look into buying a house, then it’s time.

We were influenced by this handsome devil. He has a website all about the DC housing industry called the Cribline. He’s become our real estate guru. In return, we buy him dinner once in a while.

Wolf Hammer

We had a dinner guest on Sunday (not our real estate guru, unfortunately). The topic turned to whether XFE and I consider ourselves “foodies.” Now, foodie is one of those terms I don’t think you can really self-proclaim. It seems a bit pretentious to say, “Why yes, Sir Grey Poupon, I am interested in the fine masterpieces of the culinary arts.” So we went through a checklist of endeavors that might indicate that one is a foodie.

Townhouse menu
  • And, if you got genuinely upset when you discovered that said young chefs had left that restaurant before you’d had a chance to eat there again, you might be a foodie.
  • If you own a Big Green Egg and consider it one of your most prized possessions, you might be a foodie.
  • If you’ve roasted a 25-pound suckling pig on your brick patio, you might be a foodie.
Roasting a pig
  • If your boyfriend owns a beginner molecular gastronomy kit, you might be a foodie.
  • If you’ve spent an entire day (6.5 hours to be exact) making Rick Bayless’ mole (Project Mole 2009), which required about 26 ingredients gathered from eight different stores and four pages of instructions, you might be a foodie.
  • If you won’t buy pasta and only eat homemade pasta, you might be a foodie (and a real snob on top of it.)
  • Ditto on barbecue sauce. Actually, anything at all related to barbecue. Double points if you’re best friends with your butcher and ask him not only for fine meat products, but also vacation tips.
Texas style BBQ Ribs
Can you hear the angels singing?
  • If you, while in the throws of a 10-day bout of food poisoning during a vacation in Northern Italy, insist on honoring your lunch reservation at a three Michelin star restaurant for the 12-course tasting menu, even though the price of said lunch is about the same as a hand woven Turkish rug and you go to the bathroom and throw up after every other course, but still insist on tasting everything, you might be a foodie. And, it goes without saying, you might be insane.
Lunch at Le Calandre, Italy
“If I throw up the 3-Michelin star, 12 course luncheon, we don’t have to pay the bill, right?”
  • If the majority of your souvenirs from overseas trips are food-related (ie: ceviz walnuts and sahlep from Turkey; Thai curry and dried lime basil from Bangkok; mustard from Paris; smoked paprika from Spain; wine from Australia. And Italy), you might be a foodie.
  • If you sweat each time you go near Customs because you’re genuinely concerned not that you will get caught with the food items and have to pay the fine, but instead it will get confiscated and you’ll never get to enjoy the item, you might be a foodie.
  • If a chef’s kitchen and a place to store your Big Green Egg and gigantic grill and wine fridge are considered non-negotiable criteria in your house-hunting efforts, you might be a foodie. Or, at least a kitchen with the potential to be turned into XFE’s Stadium Kitchen Headquarters.

So, are we foodies? I don’t know. But we’re definitely crazy. And it tastes so, so good.

Food Porn: Eating South of the Border in Old Town

I was going to do a Food Porn post on my brunch at the Breslin in New York last weekend, but the food that XFE has churned out over this past weekend, has put that post on hold. I’ll probably write up the Breslin tomorrow, but today, it’s all XFE all the time.

We’re actually celebrating the end of a major work project for XFE. Basically, over the last month, thanks to our travel and work schedules, we have not seen each other. He was gone by the time I got back from my morning run at 6:30, and came home after I went to bed at 10:30 or so. Weekends included.

Since XFE is the big chef around these parts, home-cooked meals were pretty scarce over the last month. So, I’m very glad to have my personal chef for eternity back in the saddle. And his return was quite triumphant.

It started on Friday with a simple dinner. We tend to rely on this a lot. Peel and eat shrimp boiled in Old Bay, french bread and Irish butter, and a side salad. Since we’ve got tomatoes and basil growing in the front, we go with caprese this time of year.

A little caprese and prosecco to kick things off.
We went shell-less this time. Made the eatin' easier.
On Saturday, XFE went big and ambitious — pork carnitas. Only, he wanted to smoke em on the Big Green Egg. And, if you’re going to do carnitas, you need pico de gallo and guacamole. So we did. It was a full day of cooking, with a few cocktails interspersed, including a cucumber-basil cocktail I came up with that, unfortunately, sucked. I was pretty disappointed. It was too sour and not at all refreshing.
Pork marinating in orange juice and garlic.
Soaking our pecan and mesquite wood chips.
Mixing a rub of coriander, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, chili powder, black pepper, salt.
Big Green Egg time - for six hours. Drink time.
A little pico time. Where's that drink??
Ah, there it is! Annnnd, it sucked. So not as tasty and refreshing as I envisioned. Back to the drawing board.
Guacamole on my toe. Maybe that drink was better than I thought......
Six hours later, smoked carnitas. XFE stoking the fire.
Look how well everybody gets along! So, so amazing.
Then, to top it off, we had some awesome chorizo, cheese and egg breakfast tacos this morning. Does anything make me happier than a breakfast taco? I don’t think so.
Chorizo breakfast tacos. Yes, XFE styled and shot that while I was waiting upstairs in bed for my breakfast. He kills me.
So that’s it! A weekend of eatin’. We’re having leftovers tonight and for once, I’m excited for leftovers. Did you eat anything good this weekend?
Yeah, I don’t know what the hell is going on with my formatting. So weird.