Monday, July 23, 2012

My Favorite Place in DC

This weekend, I met up with two fellow Mid-Westerners and we went to my favorite place in DC, the Torpedo Factory.  The Torpedo Factory used to be an actual factory that produced torpedoes, but after WWII, it was turned into storage, and then was purchased by the City of Alexandria and converted into studio and gallery space for local artists.  Today, it houses 82 artist studios and a number of galleries.

I love the Torpedo Factory for many reasons.  First, the artists often are in their studios.  You are able to talk with them about their inspirations and how they created their artwork.  Sometimes, you can even watch them paint, or sculpt, or do whatever it is they do.  Second, there is a wide array of work to view.  You will have an impressionist painter's studio next to an oriental sculptor, next to an abstract artist who recycles everyday material, next to someone who makes jewelry.  It can be a little of a shock to your senses going from one studio with muted colors and an ethereal feel to a studio with pop art and bright colors and busy scenes, but it is so amazing to be able to see all the different work in one building.  Third, since all the art on display is for sale, it is always changing.  If I come back to the torpedo factory next year, there will be new pieces to view.  Fourth, IT'S FREE!  Need I say more?

Some Highlights:

Since I do not have rights to any of the artists' works, I will just direct you to their websites (and if you are in DC, go to the Torpedo Factory yourself and check them out).

1.  Laurie A. Fields.  Ms. Fields is hands down my favorite artist at the Torpedo Factory.  I can just stand and stare at her work forever (which is a big accomplishment given my short attention span).  I love that she uses different mediums (from ceramics to textiles, to acrylic paints) and brings them together to form a coherent end product.  I also love her color pallete (browns, beige, grays, and then pops blues or reds depending on the work).  Her studio is located on the third floor.  Check her out here.

2.  Robert Rosselle.  This is one of those hidden treasures of the Torpedo Factory, literally.  When you first enter Mr. Rosselle's studio, you are confronted with what appears to be random and rather plain spherical sculptures.  But then you notice people up close to the spheres, staring at them.  Upon closer examination, you realize there are little openings in the spheres, and inside each one, is an intricate scene.  Some have pin holes on the outside, so that on the inside it looks like stars.  Others have musicians, or fish in a coy pond.  It is always a surprise and a delight.  Mr. Rosselle, unfortunately, does not have a website (at least none that I could find in a cursory search), but here is a link to a picture of the inside of one of his works.  His studio is also on the third floor.

3.  Susan Makara.  The Torpedo Factory has a gallery in which they showcase different artists.  Currently, they are displaying a series by Ms. Makara entitled "Masks."  I cannot adequately describe how amazing her work is, and pictures do not do it justice.  I would advise everyone to go see it themselves if they can.  The gallery runs until July 29th, after which time you will still be able to view her works in her studio on the third floor.  If you cannot make it, you can still view her work here.

I hope I have convinced you all to check out my favorite place in DC.  If you go, make a day of it.  The Torpedo Factory is on the river, which provides for ample walking opportunities.  Old Town Alexandria is full of quirky little shops that are fun to explore (even if you are an unpaid intern with no money to spend).  And because of its proximity to the water, you can always find some fresh sea food at one of the restaurants (something the Mid West is definitely lacking)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hiking at Great Falls

This weekend, I went hiking at Great Falls with a friend from law school and one of her friends from college. It was great fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the DC area!!!  We went to the Maryland side and hiked the Billy Goat Trail, Section A.  According to Google (which is a totally legit source), the hike was 4 miles long.  You have to climb over rocks, but the hike was not that hard.

Here are the three of us about half-way through the hike

Here I am with a kayaker behind me.  I would definitely love to go back to kayak.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dinner with a New Friend

Last night, I had my friend Casey over for dinner.  I met Casey at Bible Study at CHBC earlier this summer.  She overheard me tell someone I am an intern for the summer, and so introduced herself.  Turns out, she lives two streets away from me, is interested in human trafficking, and loves the same music that I love!  We have quickly become close friends and I am very thankful for her this summer.  I decided to make just some of my favorite things for Casey, which was perfect, because they are her favorite things too!  It's like we were meant to be.

~ Roasted pork with apple butter and ginger
~ Fried sweet potatoes with cumin and cinnamon
~ Brussels sprouts sauted in butter and garlic

The night before, I created a marinade of balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper.  I then let the pork marinate in this overnight.  I used a boneless pork rib, but any cut could work, this just was on sale.  A little tip, if you would like, when you buy your pork, you can make this marinade and freeze the pork in the marinade.  Then, all you have to do is defrost the pork and it is all ready.

To make the pork roast, I preheated the oven to 350.  I put the pork and the leftover marinade in a glass bake dish and placed it in the oven, uncovered.  The general rule with pork is to roast it 20 minutes per pound.  Since this was a two pound cut, I set the timer for 45 minutes.  I then mixed together about 1/3 cup of my mom's amazing homemade apple butter and about 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger.  When the timer had about 15 minutes left, I spread the apple butter mixture on top and returned the roast to the oven to finish cooking.  When the pork was finished I took it out and let it sit for five minutes before I sliced it.

To make the sweet potatoes, I first peeled two medium sized sweet potatoes.  I then cut them into slices about 1/4 of an inch thick.  I put a couple tablespoons of butter in a frying pan on medium high heat.  I then placed a layer of the sliced sweet potatoes in the pan, sprinkled them with cinnamon, cumin, salt, and pepper.  I repeated adding layers until I had used all of the sweet potatoes.  I stirred the sweet potatoes occasionally, and removed them from heat once they were slightly charred and soft.

To make the Brussels sprouts, I cleaned about two cups worth of Brussels sprouts.  All this entails is cutting off the end and peeling the outer layers off.  I sliced them in half and put them in a frying pan on medium heat.  I added about a table spoon of butter and three cloves of minced garlic to the pan and sauted until the Brussels sprouts were slightly browned.

Doesn't it look lovely?  And it tasted even better than it looks!