Tourist Tuesday: Raleigh, NC

Ryan and I just got back from four days in Raleigh, NC! We went for the wedding of our friends Sarah and David, who Ryan knows through work. And actually he introduced them to each other! Sarah and David are the most warm and generous friends and when they lived in Arlington we used to hang out with them all the time. Every time I see them, I wish we were neighbors again. But, anyway, enough gushy nostalgia. Look how pretty and happy they looked! It was so nice to be at their wonderful wedding, but I’ll talk more about that in a bit. First, let’s talk food and shopping.

Sarah and DavidIt was fun being back in the US but also sometimes weird. Here’s why. It was nice sounding like everyone else. I knew that the words, phrases, and structures of my sentences sounded were the accepted vernacular and if I said “pants” no one thinks I mean “underwear.” That might sound silly, because yes we all speak English here, but it was nice really fitting in. It was great to see things that were familiar, even if it was just a highway or a Target. Also the weather was so lovely! Bright blue skies, warm sun, and temperatures read in Fahrenheit. Just kidding, I’m totally getting good with Celsius, but the weather was truly to die for. I loved the changing leaves the sunny weather!


Pasta with Garlic Sauce, Arugula, and Walnuts

Pasta with garlic sauce and arugula

It’s Monday and my goal today is to get life in order. Or, as close to order as I can. I know, that’s a big goal. But see, in the two weeks since I started working, Ryan and I haven’t yet adjusted to the dual-working family. To get specific with you, our laundry is mountainous, the bathroom needs cleaning, the fridge is bare, and we are jet-lagged and exhausted from a quick and wonderful trip to Raleigh, NC (which I’ll tell you more about tomorrow for Tourist Tuesday). We need to get organized and we’re both home today, so this is our moment.

And sometimes, getting it all together, starts with a good meal.I can’t function when I’m hungry, so I need something yummy to pep me up for my chores. I heard about this recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen podcast and I was intrigued. I love garlic and I love pasta. Pasta is my favorite food and my favorite “I just can’t do anything more complicated after work” dinner. But sometimes tomato sauce gets old, so a new sauce spices up the routine. (more…)

Tourist Tuesday: The British Museum

Sometimes there are things on my to-do list that I could do now, but don’t need to do now, so I put them off. That’s what happened to me last night. I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas watching a Swedish TV show on Netflix when I thought to myself, “write Tourist Tuesday.” But I was tired and I thought, “that’s a problem for future Mariel.” Future Mariel, now present Mariel, is feeling guilty that past Mariel is lazy. So I’m posting late, but I hope you’ll still enjoy these photos from the British Museum. I went a few weeks ago, before I started my new job, when I had all the time in the world.

Anyway, one of the last things I did before starting my job was go to the British Museum. I had been there before, but this last time I went on a tour with London Walks. If you live in London, or are just visiting, I highly recommend doing a walk with them. You’ll get to see nooks and crannies in the city that are hiding in plain sight. They tell you amazing stories and some of the guides are hilarious.

rosetta stone

The Rosetta Stone. Did you know they also have a copy you can touch?


Cornbread Muffins with Mashed Potatoes

Cornbread Muffin with mashed potatoes

Today’s recipe is all about the sides. Sometimes the sides are the best part of the meal. I love that in those home style American restaurants there is often a vast array of sides to choose from. If you don’t know what I mean, there are some restaurants where you order something like chicken, and then the dish comes with something like 2-3 sides and the options are numerous. Apple sauce? Green beans? Biscuits? Mashed potatoes? Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.

My favorite place for sides is Cracker Barrel. For a little while while Ryan and I were dating we lived about an hour away from each other. Half way in between us was York, Pennsylvania and at exit 16A off of I-83 was a Cracker Barrel. If you’ve never been to Cracker Barrel please stop there sometime during your next road trip. It’s well worth it and, I think, an important example of Americana. Anyway, I’d drive north into Pennsylvania and he’d drive south towards the Maryland border and we’d meet at Cracker Barrel and have dinner and then go to the movies. We’d get raspberry lemonade and then something like a roast beef dinner or chicken ‘n dumplings (that’s ‘n not in). Those meals come with a choice of bread and two sides. Yum. (more…)

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Cranberries

Pumpkin Oat Cookies Remember when I made a pumpkin swiss roll and I told you that I couldn’t get enough pumpkin? Well since then I’ve had a ton of pumpkin spice lattes, I’ve bought a felt jack-o-lantern garland to hang in the window, and now I’ve made these pumpkin oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and cranberries. My recommendation, buy one can of pumpkin puree and and you’ll have enough pumpkin for both this recipe and the roll. That’s the perfect way to get your fill of pumpkin flavored foods! (more…)

Tourist Tuesday: Vagabond Wines

Vagabond Wines

Have you ever used Since moving to London I have used it as a way to get out of my flat, explore the city, and make some friends. I’ve gone out with an expat spouses group a number of times and the women I’ve met have been just lovely. (I know men can be expat spouses too, but I haven’t met any yet.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to Vagabond Wines on Charlotte Street (there is more than one location) with the expat spouses and had a blast. Wine and girl talk is always a lot of fun, but having friends to go out with also helps make London feel more like home. The surrounding area is really cute with lots of other shops and restaurants. Vagabond itself has large wooden tables, fat leather chairs, and a cozy vibe. This location isn’t too far from the British Museum, so it is a perfect place to go to unwind if you’re tired after sightseeing.


How to Make an Easy Beginner Chicken Dinner

Easy Beginner Chicken Dinner

When I made corn chowder, I told you that I liked to go to Zumba on Mondays. That means Monday dinner kind of gets short changed because I need something light and quick. This recipe fits the bill. Last Monday, I made this simple chicken dinner with broccoli and rice. As we were eating it I said to Ryan, “this is college Mariel dinner,” and he chuckled and nodded.

This was the meal I made all throughout college. It is the first real meal I ever knew how to make. It is probably the first meal I ever made for Ryan. In college I would’ve made this with defrosted frozen broccoli and a box of Near East rice pilaf, but over the years I’ve stepped up my game and now I can make everything from fresh ingredients. (more…)

Bloody Mary Soup with Old Bay

Bloody Mary Soup

I recently came by a recipe for Bloody Mary soup in a magazine and I was really excited about it. I love Bloody Marys, but it isn’t always appropriate to have one. Soup, though, I can have any time of day. But when I made the recipe it came out really thick. The recipe called for pureed beans and celery, which gave it a chunky and stringy texture. I was not a fan. So I decided to try my hand at making a soup recipe all my own. I’ve never made up a soup recipe before! I did a bunch of research, used a bunch of recipes as inspiration, tinkered a bit, and then I came up with something brand new that I really liked. (more…)

Abraham Lincoln & the Most Marketable Skill

Abraham Lincoln ZoomAfter writing about visiting the Science Museum to prepare for a job interview, I was asked to participate in Webucator’s Most Marketable Skill project to help recent graduates as they search for jobs. I was excited about the topic, but wasn’t sure what I would write – there are just so many useful skills to have. Then last week I was leaving Westminster Abbey and on my way to catch the bus I ran into an old friend and he gave me some inspiration. It was Abraham Lincoln.  (more…)

Pumpkin Spice Mix Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Last week when when I made the Pumpkin Roll recipe I told you I was making my own pumpkin spice mix, but I didn’t tell you how. So today, here’s a quick post with recipe for pumpkin spice.  Now, you might be thinking, why would I make my own spices? Here are three reasons:

  1. You can’t find it in a store
  2. You already have the spices you need and don’t want to hit the store
  3. Sometimes DIY is fun

This recipe is from You could subsitute cloves for the all-spice if you already have that on hand. This makes about 4 tablespoons, increase the recipe as needed. Mix the ingredients below and you’re done. Now let the fall flavors flow.

Pumpkin Spice Recipe


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