Tuesday, May 10, 2011

April Book Review: The Paris Wife

I realized, as I neared the end of last month, that while I was reading the epically long "Team of Rivals," I hadn't actually read an entire book in the month of April as my New Year's Resolution dictated. So I picked up "The Paris Wife," which Brad had given me for my birthday, on a Friday morning & couldn't put it down until late Saturday - luckily for me May 1st wasn't until Sunday!

Wow. What a book. The writing is beautiful & moving & crass & honest. This book tells the story of Ernest Hemingway & his first wife, Hadley. They meet, marry & move to Paris in just a few short months. Hemingway has not yet made a name for himself as a writer & the book tells of his struggles with his own ego & desire to be a famous writer & her struggles to make their difficult marriage work. Set in the roaring 1920's, fictional characters based on writers from that time appear throughout the novel - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein. You may already know that Hemingway had a love for drinking & women, both of which paint a less than desirable picture of his character in this book. You're rooting for Hadley by the end, even though you know things are going to turn out badly.

If you're a Hemingway fan, this book is definitely worth a read. If you enjoy historical fiction &/or Paris, you'll enjoy the descriptions of the vibrant city in this book. If you enjoy good writing & easy reading, this book is worth picking up.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Six Pillars Century

Last weekend, we took a little road trip over to Cambridge, Maryland so Brad could ride in a century bike event. This is his second century (100 miles) ride. While they've both taken place on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, this one took place in a little town nestled right on the shore amongst beautiful marshland. He did the entire ride, including several rest stops, stops for road construction & fighting a fierce headwind, in six hours. As someone who can't ride their bike more than a few blocks without my butt hurting, I'm incredibly proud of him! As I told him on Saturday on the way home, I never thought I'd be married to an endurance athlete!

Buckle up!
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

Headed to the start line
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

Beautiful start line at Great Marsh Park
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

Ready to go
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

Beautiful start/finish line
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

See you in six hours!
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

A fist pump as he heads to the finish
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

All smiles after 100 miles
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

Crossing the finish line!
(C) Christina Saull Photography - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh, hello there!

Wowsers, it has been a long time since I've written on this blog! I'm hoping that you're all over reading my travel blog, View from the Middle Seat, which has really taken off since I started writing it in January. I promise new, fun, original content there every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! PROMISE!

So, lets see... what to update you on? How about a list? I love lists...
1. We went to Barbados in March to celebrate my birthday. I firmly believe now that all birthday's should be celebrated on a tropical island. Or at least by taking the day off of work. Really, life is so much better when you're not dealing with work email on your birthday.

2. While in Barbados, I kept up on my book reading New Year's resolution. My March book officially was My Life in France by Julia Child. It was excellent - well written, very descriptive of daily life in Paris and reassuring to those less-domestic like me that if Julia Child didn't start cooking until her mid-30s, well, maybe there is help.

3. My April book is going well, but slowly. I'm reading A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns. It's fascinating. It's also 955 pages, so it might end up being my April/May/June book. Perhaps I'll have to plow through a short book this week so I can read a whole book in April as promised.

4. As I said at the top, my blog/Twitter/on-the-side-travel-thing is going really well. I'm meeting so many fantastic people in the travel industry. So many, in fact, that I decided to bite the bullet and attend my first travel blogger conference. So I'll be heading out to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia in mid-June for a long weekend of blogging fun. I'm SO excited to visit this beautiful part of Canada (and excited for a six hour lay over in Seattle before I catch the train to Vancouver - just enough time to hit up my favorite restaurant there!).

5. Speaking of traveling, we finally decided on and booked our summer vacation. We're headed up to Maine for nine-days of coastal road tripping. We'll be using Portland, Camden and Bar Harbor as our "base camps." We can't wait to get out in the cool, fresh air and bike, kayak and eat our way up the coast of this beautiful state.

6. Next weekend, Brad is riding in his first century ride of the year in middle-of-nowhere-Cambridge, Maryland. The first weekend of June, he'll be riding in the Tour de Cure, much closer to home. If you're so inclined, head on over to his fund-raising page and make a little donation. I'm so proud of him and can't believe I'm married to a guy who can ride a bike 100 miles in just a few hours.

7. It seems like everyone around us is having babies. My best friend is due at the end of August. Brad's best friend (okay, really his wife) is due at the beginning of September. And my Facebook newsfeed is filled with pregnant people. But fear not folks, we are most definitely not expecting! Too many trips untaken :)

8. Speaking of trips, we've really cut down on our traveling this year. Unlike last year when we traveled 11 of 12 months, our only real trip this year is our trip to Maine in August. It has been really, really, really, hard to cut back on traveling, but it will be worth it when we go on a BIG trip next spring. More details on that to come, I promise :)

9. Also speaking of trips, we did head to Chicago for a long weekend at the beginning of April to see some friends and enjoy a weekend get-away. Except, the flight there was a little more eventful than we had hoped it would be. Just in case you were wondering: the bag may not inflate, but oxygen will be flowing.

10. And that's about it. Our life is not very exciting right now, but that's okay... everyday life is just grand.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February book review: Parisians

I loved, loved, loved this book! At over 450 pages long, it takes some dedication, but it was worth lugging back and forth on the Metro in my work bag.

Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb tells the story of the history of Paris in 20 chapters. Each chapter is a different story, which takes place sometime in Paris's history. Charles-Axel Guillaumot's designing of the city. The building of the Metro system. De Gaulle's rise to power (and attempted assassination attempt). Hitler's first visit to Paris during the war. Francois Mitterrand's "fake" homicide attack, long before he was president. The student revolution in the late 1960's. The evolution of cycling in France today.

If you're a history buff or just love Paris, this book will be well worth your time.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A few for Friday

1. Did you all watch the shuttle launch yesterday? There is something so inspiring, so patriotic about watching them. You can't help but smile and say "Go America!" I thought in honor of the shuttle, I'd share some photos from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where the Space Shuttle Enterprise is on display.

2. The weather has been super lousy in DC lately. It was 70 degrees a week ago and now it's cold and raining. But I saw that my neighbor's tulips are starting to poke through the ground and that makes me ridiculously happy.

3. I'm really in the mood to shop. That's probably not good for my checking account balance.

4. We leave for Barbados two weeks from today. This also makes me ridiculously happy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

January Book Review: Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

I love Anthony Bourdain. I want to be Anthony Bourdain. Imagine: travel around the world with some TV cameras following you, meet fascinating people, eat incredible food. And write books. Great books. Usually.

I read my Dad's copy of "Medium Raw" while I was in Barbados over Christmas. Having read "Kitchen Confidential" at the end of last year, and really enjoyed it, I had high hopes for "Medium Raw." Which were dashed.

Reasons I loved "Kitchen Confidential":
- it was funny
- it offered true insight into the restaurant world, a world I frequent a few times a week
- it offered true insight into who Anthony Bourdain really is
- Mr. Bourdain used his usual colorful language throughout, but it didn't detract from the book

Reasons I didn't like "Medium Raw":
- it flowed horribly - each chapter was its own story
- Mr. Bourdain's colorful language showed up every two words on the page. It detracted from the book.
- it offered no insight into the restaurant/TV/cooking/celebrity chef industry, but instead offered a forum for his rants, raves and otherwise meaningless blabber.

Okay, maybe that last bullet was a little harsh. But, plain and simple, the writing was just not up to par in this book. I love a good story. I love books that I can get lost in, and read 50 pages without even realizing it. I love Anthony Bourdain in person, on TV, at Les Halles, and in his other books. I just didn't love him in this one.

Recipe Tuesday: My big, fat, Greek yumminess

I clipped this recipe out of the Parade magazine a few weeks ago. You know the free one that comes with the Sunday newspaper? What? You don't read a hard copy of the Sunday newspaper any more? That's tragic.

Anyway, always on the look out for healthy recipes, I was excited for this one. I plan on serving it tonight with grilled chicken and toasted pita for dinner.

from Molly Ringwald's recipe in the February 13th Sunday Parade (yes, THAT Molly Ringwald)
makes: a LOT
serving size: 2 TBSP (yeah right)

- 4 cups fat-free Greek yogurt, strained
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large cucumber, shredded, with juice squeezed out (which is important or it gets too watery - you can just squeeze the shreds in your hands over the sink)
- 3oz olive oil
- 1.5 oz white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt

Directions: Mix the ingredients in a bowl and let infuse for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

Store in the fridge in an air-tight glass container.

Goes great as a dipping sauce with grilled chicken, grilled pork loin, raw veggies or plain grilled pita.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The way to a woman's heart...

So I've really been slacking on this blog lately. I've been putting a lot of time and energy into my travel blog, View from the Middle Seat, (which I know you're all reading) that my blogging energies have been zapped.

Did you have a good Valentine's Day? Brad and I have never really been ones to celebrate Valentine's Day much. Sure, we watched "Will you be my valentine, Charlie Brown?" on Friday evening and gave each other over-priced mushy cards, but I generally find the whole holiday to be ridiculous.

That was until Brad gave me my present on Monday night. It was wrapped in pink and red heart wrapping paper, much too perfectly for Brad to have wrapped it himself. As I tore off the packaging, I immediately recognized the brushed-gold box. Move over Tiffany, because this box has the ability to wow me even more than your turquoise one! (Brad, you can disregard that last sentence)

Inside: Malley's heart-shaped, peanut butter filled chocolates.

I let out a squeal of joy and ignored the voice in my head saying 'You know, this is totally going to screw up your healthy eating plan you've been sticking to so religiously.'

My husband is THE. BEST. Not just because he got me chocolates on Valentine's Day. But because he got me chocolates on Valentine's Day from my favorite candy store which is located four states away.

And they say that the path to a man's heart is through his stomach - ha!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A few thoughts for Tuesday

Sorry I didn't write on Friday. 'Tis a bit crazy here!

1. Have you seen "The King's Speech"? If not, you should definitely go see it! Brad and I don't see many movies (in the theater or otherwise), but this one was definitely well worth our time and money. The acting is supurb, the cinematography is excellent and the music is perfectly chosen. I'll definitely be rooting for it on Oscar night!

2. Have you been following all the action in Egypt? I think it's absolutely facinating to watch. I can't imagine something like that ever happening in the U.S., because we just handle things differently. It has really re-sparked my love of foreign affairs and brought out the wonky poli sci nerd in me.

3. Have you ever been to Trader Joe's? If not, and there is one near you, get thee self there immediately! What a fantastic store! Last night we went in there to buy naturally dried fruit (since the stuff I normally buy for my oatmeal is full of added sugar) and came out with tons of healthy Super Bowl snacks. I also love that they have a handy guide to items that are low sodium, something that is important to me.

4.One of my new years resolutions was to read a book a month. The initial book I chose for January (a 450 pager) is taking me longer than expected, so I'm going to make that my February book. Be watching this here blog in the next few days for a review of a book I actually did read in January.

5. Are you following along at View from the Middle Seat yet? If not, well, ya should be!

Monday, January 24, 2011

City Prints by JanuaryJonesPrints

I just had to share these with you because they are SO neat. I came across JanuaryJonesPrints on Etsy in a random Valentine's Day gift guide I was reading (ironic since we're not doing V-day gifts this year). I am so in love with these, I want one for every place I've ever traveled to. I especially love, love, love the road trip map!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Five for Friday

1. I have a squirrel update, but I'm too exhausted to post it. Lets just say that the problem is still there and I came face to face with it today. And it's gross. It makes me want to move. And take a shower.

2. Have you been reading View from the Middle Seat? If not, then you've missed: my witty thoughts on customer service in Barbados restaurants, a post on the most awesome interior design store ever, and why I'm on a first name basis with one of our founding fathers.(Is founding fathers capitalized?) Also, if you read my blog, you should officially follow it - I'm giving away free 5x7 prints to the first five followers and every 10th follower after that!

3. Have you been following View from the Middle Seat on Twitter at @MiddleSeatView. If your answer is no, you're probably beyond help at this point.

4. In extremely sad news for my sweet-tooth (but great news for my wallet and muffin top) our favorite custard store in Alexandria, the Dairy Godmother (our current president is also a fan), is closed for a month. Something about sales being slow due to the winter, needing to defrost freezers, take a vacation, blah blah blah. We anxiously await the reopening on February 10. I'm thinking Malia, who wisely chose the brownie sundae during their visit two years ago, will be in line with us.

5. I realized that I never posted some fun family photos from our Christmas trip to Barbados. So see below. We will be back in Barbados in 50 days. Not a moment too soon.
Washing off feet after the beach. Notice all the beach essentials: W's book, local beer, floppy hat
Dad and David at Animal Flower Bay - an amazing place on the island
lookin' good!

Touring the George Washington house. Don't we all look excited? (It actually was a great tour)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recipe Tuesday: HEALTHY Corn Chowder

I know what you're thinking: no way! That's what I was thinking too when this Paula Deen recipe landed in my in-box. Yet, here it is.

Full disclosure: I have not tried this yet. But it sounded good enough to share. It's on the meal calendar I've planned out for the week I'm thinking about making it this weekend.

Lighter Corn Chowder
Recipe from Ms Paula Deen, y'all!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

3 strips center-cut reduced-fat bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (32-ounce) container chicken stock
2 russet potatoes, cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) package frozen baby gold and white corn kernels (3 cups)
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

DirectionsSpray a large nonstick saucepan with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, 2 – 3 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Add the onion and jalapeno to the saucepan. Cook, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour; cook 1 minute. Add the broth, potatoes, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Add the corn, milk, half-and half. Cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and cilantro; sprinkle with the bacon.

Yield: 8 cups
Nutritionals: Per Serving (1 cup): 167 Cal (15% from Fat, 23% from Protein, 62% from Carb); 10 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 1 g Mono Fat; 27 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; 5 g Sugar; 117 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 668 mg Sodium; 6 mg Cholesterol

Friday, January 14, 2011

Five for Friday (brought to you by a large cup of coffee)

1. The squirrels. Remember them from last winter? Well the little buggers are back, probably with some raccoon friends as well. This has been going on in our attic, and the attic of the lovely people across the hall from us, for at least 11 days now (it was a fabulous thing to return to from a relaxing trip to Barbados). Thus, I have not had a full night sleep in 11 days. Thus the reason why today's Five for Friday is brought to you by a heavy dose of caffeine. We're going on a stay-cation for the long weekend tomorrow, so I'm hopeful for a critter-free hotel that I can actually get some sleep in.

P.S. Remember how I was concerned about the squirrels welfare last year? Not so much this time around.

2. Have you all been reading my new blog, View from the Middle Seat? I know you have. Posted yesterday about a new fabulous place we discovered in Barbados over Christmas - but you won't read about it here! Don't forget to officially "follow" my blog for the chance to win a free print!

3. Did you know my new blog is also on Twitter at @MiddleSeatView? I'm just going to go ahead and say it: tweeting about travel is much more fun than tweeting about public health.

4. Like much of the rest of America, I have taken the occasion of the new year to get myself back to the gym & back to eating healthy. I will honestly say that I can't wait for February to roll around so all the people who bought new gym memberships on January 1 go back to sitting on their couch and there won't be a line any more to use the chest press machine. Along those lines, keep an eye out for more healthy Recipe Tuesday's.

5. Did you hear the recent news that they have messed with the zodiac signs? Changed the dates and even added a 13th sign. Luckily, I have remained a Pisces. Unbelievably, Brad is now a Pisces instead of a Aries. It's ridiculous. There's no way Brad is a Pisces! Others in my office are similarly distraught about the change... in fact I heard one coworker yell out yesterday "I don't care, I'm still going to be a Leo! I'm all Leo!" Yes. Yes, you are.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The only constant in life...

The times, they are, a changin'!

I'm happy to announce some big changes, both here & at Christina Saull Photography.

As of today, all fans of:

- funny travel stories
- cheap, good eats at far off destinations
- tips on how to squeeze three weeks of clothes into a carry on bag
- musings about the travel industry
- Christina Saull Photography

should head over to my new blog, View from the Middle Seat.

I will continue to post on this blog; however, I will not be cross-posting. Meaning: if you read it here, you won't read it there. If you read it there, you won't read it here. This blog will become more of a personal, family & friends blog, with a continuation of some of my favorite weekly posts, including Five for Friday & Recipe Tuesday.

I am excited to take my blogging in a new direction & hope that you all will continue along with me on this journey!

Sending all the best,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe Tuesday: Healthy Football Snacks

Last Tuesday, the Ohio State Buckeyes played in the Sugar Bowl. Instead of going to a bar filled with tempting, unhealthy food, we decided to stay home & watch the game. I whipped up some healthy "snacks" to have as dinner during the festivities. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the food, as we were both starving by 8:30pm when we finally sat down to nosh.

In addition to the great guilt-free potato skins below, I also made baked chicken fingers (I dip the chicken in bread crumbs without using an egg wash), a hot ricotta cheese dip (using part-skim ricotta cheese), & some phylo dough wrapped cheese triangles. It was all a lot more satisfying than having the usual high fat, high calorie chips & queso!

Guilt-free Potato Skins
recipe from the awesome Hungry Girl

3 medium-sized potatoes
1/2 cup shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. imitation bacon bits
1/4 cup chopped chives and/or fat-free sour cream and/or salsa (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prep potatoes by washing & drying to remove dirt & piercing them several times with a fork to prevent bursting while cooking. Place potatoes on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 4 minutes. Turn potatoes over & return to microwave for 4 more minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a fork, gently scrape out the bulk of the flesh. Place potato skins on a baking dish spritzed with nonstick spray. Cook for 8-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your potato skins.

Evenly distribute cheese and bacon bits onto potato skins. Turn off oven, but return skins to the oven until the cheese has melted (for crispy crunchy cheese, leave the oven on).

Remove and top with chives. Cut skins in half. Serve with fat-free sour cream and/or salsa. Makes 3 servings.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas in Barbados

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

I wanted to share some photos from our Christmas celebration in Barbados. Having never been there at this magical time of year, we weren't sure what to expect. But, in true Bajan (&Dad) style, we were not disappointed.

We stay at my Dad's condo while we're there. When you walk in the front door, this is the view you are greeted with:

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Not exactly a bad way to start your vacation.

Dad had all his holiday decorations out, including his collection of nutcrackers:

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Decorations definitely made it feel more "Christmas-y"... even though it was 86 degrees out.

A real Christmas tree costs a couple hundred dollars in Barbados, but I thought his little fake one looked real enough to me!

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Love this little guy

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

The sunset was beautiful, as always.

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Our gifts had both a Bajan and French-Canadian flare to them. This little lady bug chocolate is apparently very popular in France.

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 7, 2011


The sunsets were cloudy, but amazing, this trip.

Photo (c) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The last sunset...

... of 2010!

Photo (C) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, my lovely blog readers!

We had a wonderful time in Barbados. It was sunny & relaxing & great to be with family & friends. I'm still sorting through photos of our trip, but in the meantime, here's a spirited new year's greeting right from Crystal Beach.

Photo (C) Christina Saull - All Rights Reserved