On the wagon

11 Feb

My name is Rachel, and I’m not an alcoholic. Still, it has been 182 hours since I’ve had a drink–and it will be another 400+ until alcohol crosses my lips.

For a combination of reasons (part challenge, part health, part just for the hell of it), Dan and I have sworn off drinking for the month (yes, we started with the shortest month of the year and didn’t start the challenge until after Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s close enough). I’m not not drinking as a way to change my long-term drinking habits, or to lose weight, or to detox my system. There’s no real point to doing this besides seeing if we can.

What I’ve realized this past week is how much easier it is to come up with something to do when you drink. Bored on a Friday evening? Go grab a drink at the Gin Joint. Mid-afternoon lull on a Saturday afternoon? Go walk through the zoo and grab a drink outside at Zoo Bar Cafe. You have to be a lot more creative when you’re not drinking, otherwise it’s easy to get bored.

I haven’t minded abstaining while out to dinner (although the meals seem to take far less time) or enjoying a girls’ night at book or Bunko club, but it’s been more difficult to come up with things for Dan and me to do. We’ve contemplated hobbies we could take up during our month on the wagon (he’s growing an “on-the-wagon” beard), but knitting isn’t really up our alley.

I think it’d be easier in the warm weather, when we could go on hikes or go to the pool. But so far, we’ve been relying primarily on movies, books, TV, straightening up the apartment, going out for non-boozy brunch, and cooking. On our list for the upcoming week and weekend: non-boozy birthday dinner out; yoga; non-boozy Valentine’s Day dinner at home; and Union Market.

What else should we add to the itinerary? What hobbies and activities should we take up this month?


Craigslist Finds – Quick Money

16 Aug

Lifestyle TV viewers needed for website study

$85 for a one-hour study during regular business hours. Media Barn is a good company that I’ve done a focus group with before. Right by the Courthouse Metro.


Online psychology survey – $50 raffle

Five minute online survey for the University of New Hampshire. Probably not great odds of winning, but what’s five minutes?


Night life survey for $50 gift certificate

Another short survey, another small chance to win.


$100 for vehicle safety focus group

Two hours in Rockville. Must be 18+ with at least 2 years driving experience.


Seeking focus group participants – $70

Two hour focus group in Dupont Circle about international issues. Must be 21+ and have lived in the USA for at least 4 years.


Seeking locals to write a few reviews about your neighborhood

Spend a few minutes writing about what you like or don’t like about your neighborhood, help out a start-up, and get paid $20. Worth finding out more information about the company.

Craigslist Finds – August 7 (part 2)

7 Aug

I’m posting a second part today because there were a few great finds that popped up since I first posted. The lamp, in particular, won’t be around for long–so I wanted to be sure that folks saw it and could email the seller before it was sold.

Sports Drink Needs Reps for Promotion

Embarrassing confession: when I first moved from DC and was funemployed/interning on the Hill/making an entry level salary, I was a Coors Light girl. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as people think–and it was always fun to meet the other girls and people out at the bars. We were running a promotion for Madden 2010 at the time, so there was plenty of beer drinking and video game playing to be done. This gig isn’t for a beer company, so there’s that. Plus, it’s on a weekend–so easy to do if you have a full-time job and just need some extra cash.


Modern Arc Floor Lamp

I LOVE arc lamps. In fact, I just bought one similar to this the other day. $50 is a steal. Get this while it’s still there.


Participate in NIH Study! (For Women)

You have to have a certain BMI to qualify for this study, which is looking at how people’s brains work when they are hungry–comparing average weight women to overweight women. I think it’s $50 compensation if I remember correctly from some email correspondence with the researchers. Metro accessible in Bethesda.


2 cb2 chartreuse bar stools

Chartreuse is one of those “in” colors right now. And at $120 for 2, you’re probably okay keeping these for just a year or so and then replacing them. Can’t lose with cb2’s modern designs.

Craigslist Finds – August 7

7 Aug

Red Loveseat

Red can be a tough color to pull off (both in terms of clothes and furniture), but if red is your jam–then this is a beautiful piece! I love the unique shape and the subtle pattern. If this were in cream, it would already be in my living room by now.


Registration Assistant – Conference on 8/20

Do you get off work early? If you can get to Georgetown by 4pm on a Monday, this is a solid gig that will leave you with $100 in your wallet for 5 hours of work. Easy work registering doctors for a trade show.


One office chair – vintage – shiny chrome legs – tweed fabric

I love the lines of this chair, though it’s another piece that I’m not sold on the fabric. I can picture this re-upholstered with a fun print. Perfect for a desk chair.

Craigslist Finds: August 3

3 Aug

3 Piece Bistro Table Set

Can’t you just picture yourself sitting at this table at a Parisian cafe? I’m not 100% sold on the intricate bubble pattern, but the ribbon-like trim on the table is adorable. All you need is a bottle of wine.


Current Boutique PT/WE Sales Associate

Current Boutique’s Logan Circle location is hiring! This is more of a time commitment than a two hour focus group, but what a fun opportunity for a fashion-lover (I refuse to say fashionista). They don’t say anything about it, but I bet there’s an employee discount 🙂


Vintage Oval Brass Tray w/ Gold Cup Set

Yes, this is totally random. Who sells a single tea cup and plate? I guess this could be good for a food blogger–and I know there are some of you out there. But what I really love is the tray. How perfect would that be with some nicknacks or a few candles?

Vindale Research

Craigslist is a beautiful thing, but not everyone out there is going to be honest and forthright. Of course, anytime you go by yourself to pick up furniture, you should let someone know where you’re going. And before signing up for any studies, be sure to do a quick Google search on the company. It turns out that Vindale research, which is now advertising a study on potato chips, is probably a company that you want to avoid. While you may end up getting paid what you are owed, there appear to be a lot of hoops to jump through and a lot of ways that they try to trick you into spending money. Moral of today: be alert.

Craigslist Finds: August 2

2 Aug

Streit Shakespeare Theater Seats

These theater-style chairs would be awesome as extra seating in an antique-style living room or in a study/office with an old globe between them. While the wood needs a little refinishing, the unique look makes these a one-of-a-kind find. $79 each or $155 for the two.


DC Shorts Film Festival Volunteer

This is an unpaid gig, but you do get a free shirt, a free movie voucher, and an invitation to the Volunteer Party. The DC Shorts Film Festival is coming to town September 6-16, and needs people to set-up, sell tickets, bartend, serve food, and much more. I just added my name to the list–and you should too!


Zebra Print Pier One Chair

Patterns and pieces that “pop” are all the rage right now. This probably isn’t the ideal chair if you live with a boyfriend like I do, but what a fun addition to your living room for a single woman who is looking for something different. At $100, this is a great price for a Pier One chair.


Books not included

Anthropologie-style Dresser

Distressed wood and shabby chic are all the rage, but they can take a lot of effort to DIY. For $100 and no labor on your end, this distressed dresser can be yours. I also love the three small drawers at the top, which are perfect for jewelry or your intimates.

Hopefully whoever buys this doesn’t live in a third-floor walk-up like I do. Let me tell you, getting a dresser up stairs is no easy feat.

Craigslist Finds: August 1

1 Aug

I’m hoping this is the beginning of a fun new feature. Because let’s be real–my DC includes a lot of second-hand finds from estate sales, garage sales, and Craigslist. If you buy any of the furniture I list or sign up for any of the gigs, I’d love to know!

Mini Serving Cart with Drawers

What a beautiful vintage piece! Great for a bar cart or for a kitchen island/cutting space. For $125, the cart is yours.

And according to the seller, “I specialize in Danish / Scandinavian and American modern designs and other teak and walnut furniture from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. I also have an array of vintage decorative objects available, including barware, tableware, pottery, art glass, and very cool lamps.”

Bridal Shop Inventory Director – Organize-aholic Needed

Volunteering + bridal gowns. Sounds like a pretty great gig for any fashion-minded philanthropist. The Maryland Bridal Center at St. Anthony’s provides free weddings gowns and other wedding needs for brides who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. They’re looking for a Type A person to help manage and organize the dresses that come in. Commitment: 2-6 hours per week.


Online UCLA Brain Research

Not only do you get to contribute to important scientific research, but you get a $30 Amazon gift card in exchange. Approx. 45 minutes of online tests and then you need to send in a saliva sample (they’ll send you the materials and instructions).


Cream Baker Chair

I can’t get over how beautiful this chair is. At $300, it’s more than I want to spend right now, but someone should snatch it up before it’s gone. Located in storage on NY Ave. No delivery available.

I hadn’t heard of Baker Upholstery before, but it’s certainly on my radar after browsing their inventory. It’s hard to tell how much they sell for, but I’m guessing a lot if this one is marked down to $300. Does anyone know more about the company?


Jury Research

This isn’t a ton of pay ($65 + snacks for five hours), but it could be an interesting experience. When I do focus groups, I am also fascinated to hear other peoples’ opinions. If you have nothing planned in the afternoon on August 5th and you’re over 28 years old, may be a fun way to make some extra cash.


$75 Paid Opinion Interview

Trek out to Rosslyn to chat with an interviewer about a new website. Based on the qualifying questions, it looks like the site has to do with travel and foreign languages. I’m guessing the commitment isn’t more than an hour and a half.

Craigslist Rockstar

1 Aug

ImageToday, my friend Nikki called me a Craigslist rockstar–and I am both humbled and proud of the moniker. Over the years, I’ve honed my skills to find amazing furniture finds, random gigs/jobs, and plenty of focus groups. When my brother was looking for part-time jobs in California, yours truly was able to point him towards a couple awesome options.

Unfortunately, both my apartment and my spare time are limited–so I can’t always buy the pieces I’d like to buy or take the odd jobs that I’d like to do.

And so, the lightbulb went off today. Not everyone has the same limitations as I do. Maybe you have space in your living room? Or you have afternoons free? Today, I start posting some of my awesome Craigslist finds that I can’t take advantage of–and hopefully my loss is your gain.

Stay tuned for fun finds!

Kitchen antics

4 Jun

With our new CSA from Smucker Farms of Lancaster County (PDF about the CSA), our kitchen has been exploding with fresh produce–and with fun new recipes to take full advantage of our bounty! We’re only two weeks in, and it’s already clear that buying this CSA was a fabulous decision. So far, we’ve made: quinoa “fried rice” with kale and tofu; kale chips with chipotle olive oil; spring onion and leek focaccia; navy bean salad with radishes and peas with a garlic lemon vinaigrette; broccoli, spring onion, and leek quiche; and fresh pasta with garlic space pesto and roasted tomato sauce.

I have a feeling that this spring/summer/fall is going to be full of fresh produce and lots of new recipes!

Broccoli/leek/spring onion/pea quiche

Spring onion and leek focaccia

Pull-up bar turned pasta rack

Root beer isn’t just for floats

17 May

Since an old co-worker left town, I’ve been in charge of baking for office birthdays. She let me know when she left that it was really important to her that someone carry on the tradition of each person getting baked goods on their birthdays–no birthday month baking or shared treats allowed. So for the past two years, I’ve diligently baked 35ish times per year for office birthdays.

But sometimes you forget someone’s birthday. Oops.

I woke up this morning at my usual 6am to do clips for a client and get an early workout in. It was then that I looked at my calendar and saw that there was a birthday today. Shit! See, I keep flour and sugar and eggs around–but I was low on butter, had to no baking powder, no chocolate chips, no cream, and limited time.

So I tabled my workout and started scurrying around the kitchen, trying to figure out if I could whip something together.

Luckily, the BF and I went to Taste of the South this past weekend–an event filled with lots of swag. And luckily, Missouri had a table loaded with Fitz’s Root Beer, one of the BF’s childhood favorites, that we then piled into our swag bags and stocked in the fridge. <<Lightbulb>>

With that, a birthday treat was born: mini root beer cupcakes with a bourbon/root beer frosting.

Not to pat myself on the back, but I think I did pretty well for an impromptu 6am baking adventure.


Ingredients: Cupcakes

  • 2 cups root beer
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 heaping scoop chocolate topping (most recipes call for cocoa powder, but I was all out)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt

Ingredients: Frosting

  • 1 cup butter (or shortening, or half of each)
  • Powdered sugar – to taste
  • Bourbon – to taste
  • Root beer – to taste
  • Vanilla – to taste

Directions – Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350

1. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and root beer on medium-high heat until butter is melted. Mix in sugars and stir until dissolved.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl

3. In a small bowl, beat 2 eggs

4. Remove root beer from heat and cool; once cool, add eggs to mixture

5. Slowly add root beer mixture to dry ingredients; mix together to get rid of any lumps

6. Grease your mini cupcake trays or use mini cupcake liners; bake for 15 minutes or until done. Note: the cupcakes will be a bit sticky because of the root beer

Directions – Frosting:

1. Use a hand mixer to whisk butter/shortening until creamy

2. Slowly add in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time

3. Add bourbon, root beer, and vanilla to taste