Copperwood Tavern

I have no shame in saying that I love brunch. Any excuse to eat decadent things in the morning works for me. I’m not much of a cereal or bagel eater. I honestly could eat (and have eaten!) spaghetti or steak for breakfast. So brunch is my jam.

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After what should have been a fun morning at the dog park (pitbull owners, you feel me) we left hungry and a little cranky. Luckily brunch on the patio in Shirlington at Copperwood Tavern cheered us right up! They allowed dogs at the outdoor seating and it was a nice morning. Instead of leaving bread on the table, they left yummy seasoned popcorn. I love freshly popped corn!

Everything on the menu sounded so good we couldn’t make a decision. Everyone wanted everything so we went ahead and shared all of it. My choice? Fried chicken, sausage gravy, and biscuits (*cue eyes rolling to the back of my head*)

Everything we had was perfect and I definitely want to go back to try everything else we missed…and maybe more of that sausage gravy!

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Copperwood Tavern
The Village at Shirlington
4021 Campbell Ave
Arlington, VA 22206

 

Luke's Diner Pop Up

I am a Gilmore Girls fan. So excited about the revival this Thanksgiving. When I heard (Thanks Vitya!) that my local coffee shop was going to host a Luke’s Pop up (sponsored by Netflix) I had to be there. It was meant to be. Because really, there were no other Northern Virginia locations (plenty in DC!) and it just happened to be on my way to work. YAS.

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The breakdown. To be honest it wasn’t much. They had a Luke’s diner sign out. They had his famous “No Cell Phone” sign around the shop. And other signs with a Luke-esque feel to them. The baristas were wearing flannel and blue backwards caps, along with aprons with Lukes on it. I think being surrounded by other Gilmore Girls fans was part of the fun. And of course Grounded Coffee has awesome coffee and delicious food, so that was a plus. If you’re just a “meh” fan of the show, it might have been a waste of time. And there were plenty of people who dropped out of line (CLEARLY NOT HARDCORE ENOUGH). Which only made the line go faster for me!

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It brought a little ray of sunshine on my rough couple of weeks. Thank you to my husband who despite not watching the show, his disdain for the theme song, being cold and hungry was a great sport in wanting to share this moment with me. Can you believe this show started 16 years ago (the age Lorelei had Rory!). I’m excited to see all the characters grown up (hello, Lane had kids!) and where they ended up in life.

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I remember watching the series on my maternity leave, and hoping my daughter and I would be that close, despite our age difference. Thanks Netflix for bringing back all the feels.

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Soup-a-Palooza Kick Off!

Those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile know that around this time of year I go crazy for soups. Let’s be honest. I go crazy for soups all year round. But at least now, other people will join me in eating comforting soups and stews.

I used to organize my blog posts with Soup-a-Palooza headings, but since then have cleaned up and categorized differently. It’s still all the same, though. Yummy, warm goodness for your belly. Let’s kick off soup season with a few of my favorite soup posts!

Chicken and Rice Soup

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Butternut Squash Soup

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Crab Bisque

What are some of your favorite fall/winter recipes?

5 Year Anniversary

Wow! Five years, who would have thought I’d have this site up for so long? I for sure didn’t. I started blogging as a way to share pictures and updates on my life with my cousin in Paris. That blog was under another name and from another time. Then after my mother passed away, it completely changed me, and my life. I started this new-ish blog to document my new outlook on life and published it two days before I signed the paperwork for my first home. Another big life change.

In the five years that miemonster.net/.com existed a LOT has happened. This blog was my journal to my cousin, my travel diaries, my cooking notes and my creative outlet. Somehow other people started reading it, and I have made blog friends who have become IRL friends. I’ve grown my relationship, my family, my career. And even though I haven’t been as active this year, ya know being a mom and starting a new job, I am so thankful for the handful of you who still stick with me and read along when I do post!

This blog has given me opportunities to explore my passion for food, life, and traveling. There’s still a lot of growing to be done, slowly but surely, and I truly thank you, dear readers, for your kind words, support and letting me know when you find my writing relatable or helpful! Because even though I’ll happily write for one reader (my cousin) it’s definitely more motivating to have more!

I will be sipping, and clinking glasses with a friend tonight to celebrate a wonderful milestone! Cheers to five and many more!

xoxo
Miemo

Hot Pot at Home

It’s finally cooled down this year! And to start off soup-a-palooza, we are making hot pot at home! We recently spent a day off at a local shabu shabu joint. For those of you that have no idea what hot pot is, it’s basically a big pot of broth that everyone dips meat and veggies in. My husband LOVES it when the weather is cool, and I wanted to give it a try at home.

Because you make it to your own taste, there really isn’t any specific recipe that I used. I made myself two stocks as a base. A shrimp stock from the shells of shrimp that I was using for the meal, and a beef stock. We like the spicy broth, so to save myself some time, I just bought a jar of Tom Yum paste. To compliment that flavor, I made my soup stock with lemongrass, galangal, onion, kefir lime leaf and garlic.

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After simmering the stock for quite a few hours (shrimp stock takes waaay less time) I strained it and set it aside. Now it’s time to set up the hot pot!

I washed and cut napa cabbage, watercress, a variety of mushrooms, and some sliced celery. You can use whatever vegetables you like. For meats, I had thinly sliced chicken breast, rib eye steak, shrimp, squid, fish balls, pho style meatballs, and puffed (fried) tofu. We also used clear bean thread noodles.

With the portable cooktop, I set up the broth pot. I poured in some clear strained stock, then stirred in Tom Yum Paste to taste. I also added fresh galangal, lemongrass, and garlic. But be careful. Garlic pods in the hodge podge of items in the soup can look a lot like a little piece of squid…when you are expecting to bite into squid but get garlic its an unpleasant surprise!

Overall it was so yummy, and comforting to do on a cold day. I would do it again and again! My husband loved it. He even makes his own sauce to dip. I personally just eat it like a noodle soup plain.

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Bring on the cool weather. Note that I said cool, not cold. I’m not on team snow.

Small Business Saturday

Have you made your list? Checked it twice? Or are you super proactive and already completed your holiday shopping? (Who are you, you magical wizard?).

As much as I love this time of year, family, holiday parties, food, decoration…I also REALLY dislike the period between after Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is when every store, grocery, wholesale, department…TARGET is super packed and everyone is going ape shit over shopping for presents. It’s super stressful for me since I don’t like crowds of people.

But we’re not here to talk about my anxieties. Hah. While everyone gets hyped over black Friday deals and Cyber Mondays, I just wanted to remind you of SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY! I love to support small businesses and appreciate the time and love put into them. You can always find unique non-mass produced things, which are perfect for the gift giving season. I love etsy for that reason. But if you are lucky enough to live in an area where there are local small shops, don’t forget to check them out! This year, Small Business Saturday is November 26. Read about why it is important for the U.S. Economy.  The added perk is they are less likely to have crazy crowds of people pushing and breathing on you.

Do you have a small business? Leave your site in the comments and I’d love to check it out. I love having a small business side hustle, whether it be slinging my macarons + other baked goods, hand lettering/modern calligraphy services, or graphic design, I always feel appreciated by the people who support me by purchasing my goods.

Looking to start your own small business? Fundera offer small business loans to help business owners fund seasonal workers and increased inventory during the holidays. I haven’t used them personally, but the site is full of resources.

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Disclaimer: I was contacted by Fundera to help with their promotion. I have not personally used their services, but do read their blog!

Armpit Detox

Things are about to get intimate. And possibly smelly. Well smelly if you are in my bubble…maybe. After becoming a mama, I find myself trying to look for natural ways to do things. I’ve switched all our household products over to the Honest brand after we got Bawse, in case he licks random stuff. I now use natural skin care products, and am being conscious of the ingredients in my makeup. Your skin is the largest organ, so you have to think twice about what you’re putting on it!

So prior to this crazy heat wave/dome whatever you want to call it, I was using natural deodorants, just because that was what I was doing when I was pregnant. But then after sweating and being funky through this heat/working out again I had to switch back to commercial strength deodorant to spare those around me. But then I noticed how dependent I got on it and how funky I smelled without it so I wanted to go back to natural deodorants. But when I did… it wasn’t working as well as when I was using the antiperspirants!

So I had to research. In order to get the best smelling you, you have to detox the built up aluminum in your pits if you want the all natural deodorants to work. Plus it’s just good in general to rid your body of potential cancer clogging toxins. I don’t have any science facts to annotate in the footer for you, this is just my general belief because I’m secretly a crunchy mom. But then I read this article and I’m like YEAH. I should stop.

However, I don’t have time to make a paste and all that jazz. I literally have to coordinate shower times and chores with my husband so that everything can get done before the end of the weeknight. So I tried my own version of the quick busy mama armpit detox.

Week One: Witch Hazel
So for the first week, while I was waiting for the armpit detox soap to come in, I would wipe down with witch hazel at night and in the morning. I figured I should start asap, and my friend looked up ways to help detox and she told me to try that. It’s also one of the main ingredients in the Honest Deodorant Spray that I was using, so I figured why not. I happen to already have some at home since it is a great multi-use product. I actually don’t smell myself yet. I’ve read that it’s because I probably have enough aluminum built up in my clogged pores that it’s keeping me from funking up the joint. I fear for the second week.

Week Two: Witch Hazel and Charcoal Coconut + Clay Bar Soap
As if my body was following this chart, Day one of week 2, I took off my blazer and smelled BO. DAMN IT. I thought perhaps I was a lucky unicorn. Nope. I’m human. And I smell like a raw onion by midday. The night before I washed with this charcoal, coconut and clay bar soap, and then used witch hazel like I have been. To spare my officemate, I used the Honest Deodorant spray I had at my desk. I no longer smelled myself.

Week Three: All of the above plus a natural deodorant
I’m not outwardly smelly. Meaning I don’t smell myself, and husband and friends SAY they don’t smell me. I asked them not to be nice. They said they weren’t. Not too shabby. The pit area on the insides of my blazers still reeks, though. Nothing a spray of alcohol and airing out couldn’t fix. All right!

Week Four: Just trying to live my life
I am now at the point where this is second nature to me. Washing with the charcoal soap, witch hazel twice a day. Natural deodorants. Sniffing myself. But I think I am at a point where I am okay with wearing natural deodorants and not caring what other people think. Sorry if you smell me. I want to say, detox complete. The stinkiest days are behind us!

Types of Deodorants I’ve used:
Crystal Rock: Can only use on clean pits, so at night after a shower, or after witch hazel and dry.

Schmidt’s Twist Up: Smells decent, apply like regular deodorant. I like it and I feel like I’m using “regular” deodorant, but then the twist up stopped working. And I don’t know if it’s because I have a bad one, or because the formula for the natural deodorant just doesn’t hold up in traditional stick form. Most of the ones I’ve seen come in a paste form or a spray form.

Honest Spray: Love. I like the bergamot sage one, and I keep the lavender vanilla one at my desk. Haven’t tried the 3rd scent yet. I like this because of the refreshed feeling I get after using it, but it definitely does not last all day and you will need a mid-day spritz.

What about you? Are you using natural deodorants? If so, which ones and what do you think?

 

**I purchased all these items to try on my own. No one paid me to write a (though brief) review. Using affiliate links from me won’t cost you any more than it normally would, but you would be contributing to keeping this site running! Or realistically, fund me buying more deodorants to try.

Cleaning Cast Iron

Cooking with cast iron can be fun. It’s versatile, you can sear something off and then finish it in the oven. Or you can bake directly in it. Which is always good because… less dishes.

When I became a “big girl” I went ahead and bought myself a couple of Le Creuset cast iron items, a grill, and skillet. I had already bought another brand, red dutch oven, and it’s still holding up great at half the price. Honestly after having them for all these years, the quality is about the same. I definitely won’t be splurging on Le Creuset anymore. Despite all the cute colors they come in! Plus I am so worried that I am going to “ruin” them all the time that I half want to buy a “cheap” set of cast iron cookware to go H.A.M. on. But I’m trying to minimize shit I don’t need so I won’t.

It may seem like I haven’t cooked lately because I haven’t posted anything on Instagram (other than my cute baby) or written any blog posts about food. But I have. I actually cook at least 3 times during the work week. It’s just not anything to “write home” about. After working all day, we just pick up the baby and go about our “regular” chores.
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The not fun part about cast iron is cleaning it. They are supposed to be super durable and last forever. But the scary part is if it isn’t seasoned right, or “washed” properly it could rust. I think that is the biggest fear for most people when using or owning a cast iron. I know it was for me!

But then I came across a tip on twitter, via Alex Guarneshelli about how her friend cleans his with table salt and a little heat. W.T.F. My life is forever changed. I’m pretty sure I used the cast iron at least twice a week for the past month after that. Clearly, I’ve been living under a rock, did you already know this?

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Basically, after you are finished cooking, you just pour salt in the skillet, enough to put a thin layer on the bottom, over low heat. Then you use a towel (folded thick, don’t burn yourself please!) to push the salt around to “scrape” off the gunk you’ve built up. The salt will absorb the grease and scour the skillet without being too abrasive. Then you dump the salt in the trash, wipe it clean then re-season it!

Cook with no fear.

Glossier Pt. 2

They are back in stock! I check my email every day in hopes of seeing that pink circle with a subject line that will scream that the skin perfecting tint is back in stock… Then it finally happened. I was on the fence about whether or not I was “dark” or “medium”. I went for medium. Mama didn’t get any sun this year.

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Perfecting Skin Tint
Let’s keep it real. And by that, I mean your skin. This is SUPER light. And basically no coverage. It’s a liquid texture that you squeeze drops on your fingers (or directly on your face, but I wouldn’t). It is similar to having a hazy filter over your skin. It is blendable and is supposed to even out your skin tone if you have redness. For me, the first time I used it, I think I used too much. I felt like I looked terrible. So did the commenters on snapchat. But the people in real life said I looked super radiant and not like I was wearing makeup. I guess it was the lighting in which I took my picture? The next day I tried less and blended more. It worked. Smoothed out my skin and blended in really easily. They list this under skincare, and not makeup. Honestly, you could probably go without. It’s less coverage than my cc cream. I thought that I wouldn’t re-up on this, BUT each day I use it, I like it a little more. Go in with the skin perfecting tint, and then finish off with the stretch concealer (WHICH I LOVE). P.S. I only use 6 drops and it does what I want it to do.

Boy Brow (in Black)
I was a little worried that black would be too intense. I usually buy brown pencils for my eyebrows. Cece also bought brown. But all the models that had similar skin tone as I used black so I bought black. Not bad. But I think I will still try the brown next time, though. This comes in a little tube with a tiny brush. It’s not wet like other brow stuff. Kinda waxy, or a pomade. It wasn’t dark and Grouch Marx-y like I was worried it would be. Once it was on and dried, I didn’t notice any flaking or color coming off on my fingers when I touch it. I will still use it in combination with my pencils because this doesn’t fill in brows, it’s meant to tame unruly (yet fabulous) thick “boy” brows that are all the rage. I wonder if I should grow them out sometimes. But I’m scared to know the truth of my natural brows.

Priming Moisturizer
Love this. This is the staple. It has replaced my Too Faced Hangover Face Primer. If I can do two in one, I’m all about it. It’s buildable, so you put on a little if you are already moisturized, or add more if you still aren’t feeling juicy enough. It makes it a smooth surface for my makeup and I don’t see any caked up concealer midday. THOUGH I am using all Glossier(link) products and they probably just work well together. I haven’t tried it under other brand makeup.

Face Mist
Ok face mists. Who uses this? Really. I mean I’ve used my Evian one for traveling because I always feel dried out and need the refreshing pick me up. But other than that the only face mist I use daily is my makeup setting spray.  Because I have it, I’ve been using it regularly and now it’s found itself part of my morning routine. I spray it on before the primer and then again after I finish my face, to set it. Damn you Glossier for making me realize I was missing this in my routine.

 

**All opinions are my own and I don’t even think Glossier knows I exist. I bought all products with my own money and was not paid to share this honest review. But you can help pay for my addiction by making your first order with my link. You get 20% off and I get a little somethin’ somethin’ too.

Kapnos Taverna

I love to try a little bit of everything, without putting myself in a buffet situation. Dim sum, tapas, hot pot, Korean bbq, forcing my dinner mates to order something so I can have a little bit of theirs…I clearly don’t like to be stuck with one entree. At Kapnos Taverna, they have mezze, which is the word that refers to Mediterranean small dishes. Perfect! I love small plates.

I stopped by for lunch one day with the hubs. There seems to be two levels, which creates an open air vibe full of plants (dead, fake, alive?) and very modern. Definitely liked the vibe there. The staff is very attentive, and our server was very knowledgeable, he even took the time to bring over someone to explain one of the dishes. Unexpected but appreciative. He knew it was our first time there and wanted us to really get a feel for the food.

They’ve got quite a selection of house made sodas. My husband went for it and chose the 5 Spice Ginger beer. I wanted to try to passionfruit one, but I’m not that big of a soda drinker and didn’t want to NOT finish it.

We chose the tzatziki and flatbread spread and the half spit-roasted chicken to share. Lunch is quite like and there was a generous portion for both.

The tzatziki was creamy, flavorful and was well, perfect. I’ve never had it like that before and I love it. Usually when I have it, its watery and yogurt-y and this was definitely a spread. It’s served with fresh hot flatbread. Like literally fresh. When we asked for another piece, it takes 4 minutes because they have to roll it out and throw it in the fire. Worth the wait.

The chicken is smoky, tender and full of flavor. It’s served over barley cooked with spinach in a risotto style (STYLE, not risotto). It was very lemony, and bright but paired with the chicken perfectly.

My husband thought it was too expensive, but I think it’s well worth the price. They also have “express” lunches which include a gyro a side and a drink for $15. I’m told it is a lot of food, but I prefer a bunch of small plates.