Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Pack Jewelry For Moving (or Traveling)


On vacations, my packed earrings and necklaces always seemed to get twisted and knotted so many times that I’d have to pull out tweezers to work them loose.

What would happen, I wondered, during a cross-country move, when all these chains, beads and hooks were bunched together? I didn’t want to find out. Fortunately I found a great tip online for necklaces–and discovered another solution for earrings while cleaning.

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Grandpa Dale’s 1930s train adventure West

The journalist in me wants to cut this video down to 1:30, add some B-roll and voiceovers where the story isn’t the strongest. But the granddaughter in me wants to watch my Grandpa Dale share a tale I’d never heard before, about his visit to his buckskin-wearing Uncle Bert, who left home at the age of 12 and stayed a bachelor who grew flower bulbs and garlic in Oregon City. My grandpa’s father gave him a train pass when he was 14 and told him to go visit his uncle, and somehow, in 1933, he survived.

Grandpa and I talked for a good hour on Veteran’s Day, when I was in Roanoke for the day (for a bizarre eye appointment where outer eyelashes that relentlessly tickled my eyeballs were burned off–certainly an interesting experience). I’m hoping to film my grandpa–my mom’s 94-year-old father–telling stories of his life over the next few months, and share them both as shorter clips on YouTube for relatives and save them for my own kids one day, so they can learn about what life was like in the 1930s and ’40s. (I’m fairly certain I won’t be giving them a train pass as a teenager and letting them explore the West alone, with just $30 in a pocket.) I learned a little about my grandparents’ lives at my Grandma Betty’s passing: They met at the University of Illinois, but moved to Washington when the war broke out. Dale broke codes for the Army, and then for the National Security Agency. And if you ask, he’s got some strong opinions about the NSA’s role today.

A bonus in this video: An appearance by Winkie the cat and some nifty animated iMovie maps. Soon, I’ll share his story about growing up in the tiny, flat town of Dana, Illinois, the two-room schoolhouse and how he could deliver 50 newspapers without once touching the handlebars on his bike.

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‘Cupcake Wars’ lures me back to competition shows with local competitor

Update: Sweet Reasons placed second on the Miss-America themed episode of ‘Cupcake Wars.’

I’ll say it: Food Network’s competition shows aren’t my favorite. They’ve been good for revenue, of course, but I’d prefer to actually learn about cooking. Like from Sara Moulton, who used to host a live show where viewers could cook along (after buying the posted ingredients beforehand) and call in with questions. My family frequently watched “Cooking Live” and once even made dinner with Moulton as our guide. Weekend mornings are now the “prime time” to learn about cooking, unless you’re able to get the network’s sister channel. Most of the rest of the day, judges are just as important as cooks.

But I’ll make an exception this Saturday night to watch one of our local cupcake shops compete on “Cupcake Wars.” Sweet Reasons will face three other shops in the Miss America-themed episode, airing at 8 p.m. Saturday. When I wrote about the announcement for this week’s Food section, I knew the owners would be able to say very little about the actual experience. It’ll be quite interesting to see what snippets of conversation will be used for the 60-minute show from what they described as a marathon baking-filming day back in June; I’ll certainly follow up afterwards to see how realistically the competition was portrayed. You can find my article here: Sweet Reasons to compete on Saturday episode of ‘Cupcake Wars’ Continue reading

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Taste of DC: Tasty bites and brews

Food festivals: an answer to a weekend devoid of plans, a drain on a wallet, but also a way to experience some of the best-tasting morsels around.

On Saturday, I met up with Emma and Chris at Taste of DC, a five-block food festival along Pennsylvania Avenue featuring dozens and dozens of restaurants, wineries and craft breweries. What fun we had together, despite constantly changing weather conditions and long lines.


Restaurants sold bites priced from $1 to $5, while craft breweries offered samples for $2 or full pours for $7; we had several of both sizes. Lines deterred us from samples of wines and other fairly popular restaurant booths.

Here’s a taste of what we shared:

A roasted winter squash taco with chili, queso and mint, from Chaya, a farmers market stand that sells tacos that are “seasonally inspired, mostly plants.” If I lived in DC, this would surely become a favorite option. Continue reading

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Ferragosto: Italian summer holiday comes to San Diego

Ferragosto, a charity gala for Little Italy’s schools and a church, was the big event for my long weekend in San Diego, the reason to fly west that particular weekend in mid-August.

Sequins and pearls, vests and hats–we donned our ’20s best before hitting the red carpet with Tom’s coworkers on Saturday night. Admiring everyone’s themed outfits may have been my favorite part of the night, as boas, fringe, pearls and headbands filled the designated city blocks. Though, we certainly got some stares on the trolley as we made our way downtown.


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L.A. day trip includes Pizzeria Mozza, La Brea Tar Pits and Hollywood

One of my beach books this summer was Bill Buford’s “Heat,” part memoir, and part biography of Mario Batali, the New York chef made famous by Food Network. A girlfriend loaned it to me, along with some light chick lit, but a bright yellow cover drew this particular book to the top of the stack. I’d seen the old episodes of “Molto Mario” a few times, but knew little about the red-haired pony-tailed chef.

This isn’t going to be a story about Mario’s journey as a chef, because you should just read the book or use Google for that.

What I do want to share is that on my latest West Coast trip, I had the chance to eat at Batali’s newest restaurant venture, a partnership with baker Nancy Silverton, in Los Angeles, Calif.

A two-and-a-half hour drive up I-5 from San Diego, L.A. itself is overwhelming, meaning that Tom and I would have to pick and choose just a few things to do. Visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, a walk along Hollywood Boulevard, and a drive through Beverly Hills seemed like good starting points. But with more than 20,000 restaurants, I wondered how we’d choose, and how we’d avoid getting caught in a tourist trap, though we seemed to anyway for a quick dinner at Venice Beach. Continue reading

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Exploring Boston during a long, hot weekend

If your significant other is on the same coast of America, you should make all efforts to see each other.

That was my thought when Tom said he’d be in Boston in July working a conference, since Boston is only 490 miles away, rather than San Diego’s 2,700 miles. My research quickly turned to planes and trains, and what you may call “apartment b&b’s” through the growing site; I was determined to make the trip work, and ecstatic to be in the same time zone, not worrying about family get-togethers and holidays, as we so often do when we see each other. Instead, the weekend was just about the two of us (and a few friends), and exploring a new city.


The only snag in our fun long weekend getaway was Mother Nature. Boston may usually be a temperate city, but when a heat wave strikes the East Coast, the city is not ignored. 100 degree days didn’t mar our trip, though the heat slowed us down and necessitated plenty of extra water, and maybe a few fewer historic stops. And the heat also could be blamed for us missing out on a tour and tasting at Sam Adams? Though, perhaps our negligence at planning ahead could be the culprit. (But really, why would the largest craft brewery close at 3 p.m. on a Saturday?! Still makes no sense to me.)

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A morning get-away to Culpeper

Sometimes, you just have to get away. Go on an adventure. Leave your everyday responsibilities behind.

Even if that adventure ends at 2 p.m., when the newsroom beckons.

This week, Robyn and I were both feeling the pressures from everything around us. It was time for an escape.

Culpeper is just a tad less than an hour away on Route 3, a straight shot with little traffic usually. I’d only been once, to sit in a courthouse for a few hours, but had always heard that the small town was full of great finds.

The day began and ended at Knakals Bakery, with donuts for breakfast and treats to take home. While the service isn’t great (the women behind the counter seemed particularly rude), the donuts were fresh and hit the spot, fitting in with our day of splurges. A dozen donuts disappeared off the calorie counter literally within seconds from Robyn setting them down. Hungry reporters and editors swarmed to the white box Wednesday afternoon; I hadn’t even made it into the building by the time they were gone. Guess we should have picked up two! But my favorite purchase from Knakals, in business since 1935, was the cinnamon raisin sticky rolls. Not cloyingly sweet, but incredibly tender, I could probably eat these for a midmorning snack everyday if allowed. Perhaps it was smart to split the six rolls with Robyn.


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