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A little of this, a little of that—this week's Blogger Beat chats with Endless Simmer's Stefanie Gans. By Emily Leaman

Endless Simmer might be a cooking blog, but persnickety cooks should beware: The writers post recipes, but they never include measurements—only ingredients. “To us, one of the best parts of cooking is being creative and a little dangerous with ingredients,” says Stefanie Gans. "We like to explore, even if that means messing up every now and then."

Gans—known as Gansie to readers—is one of the blog’s founders. She and her former coworker Brendan Spiegel started the site in June 2007 as an outlet for their growing obsession with food and cooking. “It started as a bunch of coworkers bringing in the previous nights’ dinner to share tastes, recipes, horror stories, and successes,” says Gans. “A blog was the next logical step.”

Spiegel, who still contributes to the blog, has since moved to New York City to pursue food and travel writing, so Gans holds down the fort in Washington; she’s both a writer and an editor. In addition to original recipes, the site includes entries on local restaurants, cooking shows, celebrity chefs, breaking foodie news, farmers markets, and seasonal cooking. “We’re basically somewhere between regular consumers of pop food culture and total snobs,” says Gans. “We can just as easily enjoy offal or destroy a Dunkin’ Donuts egg-and-cheese croissant.”

We convinced Gans to take a timeout from her busy eating schedule to answer our cooking questions. Favorite recipe? Biggest disaster? Advice for novice cooks? Read on for her answers.

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Posted at 01:56 PM/ET, 12/07/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, vintage-clothes queen Lora Reuther gives us a closet spruce for spring and summer. By Emily Leaman
Lora Reuther sporting one of her neat hats. Photograph by Chris Leaman

First things first: Lora Reuther’s boyfriend, Josh Suprenant, calls her “Bug.” So that explains one part of her fashion blog’s title, In Bug’s Drawers. But the rest? “I’m taking you into Bug’s Drawers—take that as you may,” says Reuther.

She started the blog last June, a few months after being laid off from her job. After a bit of prodding, she got Suprenant on board as resident photographer, and together the pair do fashion shoots, of sorts, at locations throughout Washington. The model? That’s Reuther, of course, who usually dons her best vintage-inspired outfits.

“Growing up, I was obsessed with the fashion I saw on The Monkees, Gidget, I Dream of Genie, and The Dick Van Dyke Show,” she says. “It wasn’t until I got older that I realized I could wear clothes like that.”

Reuther took a break from her never-ending quest for the perfect vintage garb to answer our questions about style in Washington. Best vintage store? Closet basics? Creative accessories? Read on for her answers.

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Posted at 07:03 AM/ET, 04/21/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
Psst, did you hear? This week’s bloggers—a duo of eavesdropping pros—share their favorite overheard moments in Washington. By Emily Leaman
Eavesdrop DC bloggers Dwain and Erin. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Remember that one time you said something stupid? Out loud? On the Metro? At rush hour?

You’re not alone—and this week’s bloggers can prove it. Erin and Dwain of Eavesdrop DC have been documenting people’s most boneheaded moments for more than four years. With the help of readers who keep their eyes and ears on high alert for your most embarrassing gaffes, the pair have built an entire blog dedicated to eavesdropping on the Metro, at monuments and museums, parks, street corners—practically everywhere.

So exactly who’s in on the joke? Says Erin: “DC office workers and college students putting off working or studying are our biggest fans.” In other words, expert procrastinators.

We couldn’t resist an interview with some of Washington’s best eavesdroppers. Read on for their funniest moments on the Metro, their pet name for tourists, and their pick for best college students for blog fodder.

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Posted at 07:11 AM/ET, 04/14/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we strap on a helmet, squeeze into some Spandex, and go for a ride with bicycle blogger Gregg Deal. By Emily Leaman
District Cycling's Gregg Deal with one of his bikes. Photograph by Megan Deal

Gregg Deal has been riding bikes since childhood, and he raced mountain bikes in the ’90s. Then he took some time off—and he put on a few pounds. And then a few more. So what did it take to get him back in the saddle? “My wife would regularly poke my stomach,” he says. “I think she was expecting a Pillsbury laugh or something.”

Deal started riding competitively three years ago. He joined a racing team, Dominion Cycling, and last year rode in the Tour of Washington County. He started his blog, District Cycling, in 2008, posting on everything from local races to rants on Craiglist bicycle scams. He also does a regular podcast with contributor Adam Austin; the pair have aired 14 episodes.

We caught up with 35-year-old Deal to find out more about the Washington cycling community. We also got his best tips for city-cycling novices and his favorite bike path and found out which he fears more: Maryland or Virginia drivers.

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Posted at 06:42 AM/ET, 04/07/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we take a look at what’s been shaking in DC’s lively U Street Corridor with local resident and neighborhood blogger Catherine. By Emily Leaman
U Street Girl—where else?—on U Street, Northwest. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Catherine dubbed herself U Street Girl in December 2008 when she launched a blog of the same name. The twentysomething writer, who keeps her full name under wraps, had just been laid off from her job and was looking for an outlet to keep her creative juices flowing. She landed on a blog about her neighborhood—where she’s lived for three years—when she noticed that few people were writing about it.

“I don’t know a ton about my audience other than my mom, who claims to account for every view I get,” she says. More likely, Catherine’s cadre of readers includes fellow residents and wannabe neighbors who are looking for insider information on what’s happening along U Street.

Catherine keeps them informed with lots of useful content. She stays on top of building renovations and new businesses scouting the area and occasionally falls into historian mode with posts on the neighborhood’s rich past. Regular features include Gourmet on a Budget, in which Catherine posts wallet-friendly recipes, and a local-travel series called Hello From.

We caught up with the neighborhood know-it-all to find out what’s new on U Street. Best takeout? Best roof deck? Best off-the-beaten-path boutique? Read on for Catherine’s answers.

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Posted at 06:44 AM/ET, 03/31/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we dive into Asian-inspired home design with blogger Beth Connolly. By Emily Leaman
Blogger Beth Connolly in her Alexandria home. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Before we begin, a quick language lesson: “Chinoiserie” is a French word that means “Chinese thing.” According to this week’s blogger, Beth Connolly from Chinoiserie Chic,“It refers to the West’s centuries-old fascination with an imaginary and exotic China.” Noted.

So where can we see the influences of this fascination? All around us, says Connolly—everything from garden stools to bird-and-flower-printed wallpaper bears the mark—and “there is not a home anywhere that would not be improved by a touch of chinoiserie.”

Connolly should know: She’s posted more than 300 blog entries on the subject in just the last year. A lawyer by training, Connolly has had a passion for home design all her life: “I was rearranging my parents’ furniture at age five and had the best Barbie dream house around.” Her first brush with chinoiserie came from a black-and-gold-lacquered secretary that belonged to her grandmother; Connolly was hooked. Today her Alexandria home is filled with chinoiserie touches.

We caught up with Connolly to pick her brain about our own design challenges, such as her tips for making small spaces look bigger and an easy do-it-yourself chinoiserie project. Read on for her answers to those questions and much more.

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Posted at 07:18 AM/ET, 03/24/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we talk fashion do’s and don’ts with Janice, the self-proclaimed Capitol Fashionista. By Emily Leaman
Janice, the Capitol Fashionista. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Fashion blogger Janice—who prefers to keep her last name off the Internet—started her site last year. It wasn’t her first foray into blogging; she’d been maintaining a bridal blog for three years. “I would discover some amazing fashion finds that didn’t really fit in with my bridal posts, so I decided to start the Capitol Fashionista,” she says.

Fashion has been a longtime passion for Janice: “When I was in high school, my dad told me that if I wanted to be cute, I had to get a job because he was not going to subsidize my clothes and shoes habit.” She got a job at a thrift store, where she found designer clothes at a fraction of the retail price. Janice says she was a particularly well-dressed high-schooler.

On Capitol Fashionista, Janice writes about everything from local and international designers to upcoming fashion events to her own sartorial wish list. On Mondays, she posts her Fab Vintage Finds feature, in which she spotlights vintage clothing and accessories and includes links for where to buy them.

We caught up with this Washington native to get her best advice on accessorizing, her favorite spring-fashion trend, and, of course, her biggest fashion pet peeve. Read on for her answers.

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Posted at 06:51 AM/ET, 03/17/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we save some serious coin with coupon-obsessed blogger Laura Harders. By Emily Leaman
Blogger Laura Harders taking a coupon-clipping break to pose for a photo. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Okay, we know it isn’t exactly the sexiest blog of all time, but there’s something to be said for a site that can help you cut your grocery bill in half. Or better yet, walk out of a store with a bag full of freebies. Interested? We thought so.

Frugalista Laura Harders knows all the tricks. Each week, she scours Web sites, newspapers, and circulars for the best deals in town and posts them on her blog, Frugal Friends in Northern Virginia. She also alerts readers to freebies at area restaurants and special store promotions—such as double-coupon days—and posts tips on how save hundreds of dollars a year on groceries. “I’ve always liked the thrill of finding good deals,” says Harders. “Now I have a place to share my frugal finds.”

We caught up with this Manassas mom to get her best pointers for boosting your bottom line. Read on for where to find coupons online, the best Twitter deals, and how to score free grub on your birthday.

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Posted at 06:33 AM/ET, 03/10/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we tack on a flag pin and go political with Cosmopolitan Conservative blogger Adrienne Royer, hitting everything from climate change to fashion. By Emily Leaman
The Cosmopolitan Conservative herself, Adrienne Royer. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Adrienne Royer’s love affair with politics started in first grade. The class was learning about the 1988 Bush/Dukakis race when six-year-old Royer thought, “This is so cool. We get to pick our leaders!” She wore pro-life buttons in elementary school and a handmade T-shirt that said, “A person is a person no matter how small!” A right-leaning political junkie was born.

In college, Royer traded in her puffy paint for a blog. She started her first site, Girl From the South, as a way to keep in touch with family and friends back in Tennessee. Two years ago, she decided to delve into politics. “Cosmopolitan Conservative sounded like a fun name,” she says. “I knew it worked when I told a liberal former colleague at happy hour one night, and he burst out laughing.”

Royer writes to a mainly conservative audience but sometimes receives e-mails from liberals who keep up with her writing. She tends toward topics such as feminism and gender politics—from a conservative perspective, of course—and writes about everyone from Sarah Palin to Michelle Obama.

We caught up with the 28-year-old to talk shop about elections and politicos. But we couldn’t resist some lighthearted questions, too: A GOP cocktail? Olympic sports for members of Congress? Best and worst dressed Republicans? Read on for her answers.

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Posted at 06:33 AM/ET, 03/03/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we’re dining out—and in—with Capital Spice bloggers Mike and Elizabeth Bober. By Emily Leaman
Elizabeth and Mike Bober at Hill's Kitchen in DC's Eastern Market neighborhood. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Capital Spice wasn’t Mike and Elizabeth Bober’s first name choice for their dining-and-cooking blog. They wanted to use Hill’s Kitchen, an ode to their neighborhood, but when the blog launched in 2008, the name had just been claimed by a local kitchen-supply store. “It’s become one of our favorite shops,” says Mike.

Nearly two years later, they’ve cultivated a following among Washingtonians who, like themselves, love to eat and cook, enjoy exploring Washington’s dining scene, and aren’t afraid to try new things. They write about everything from news and gossip about local chefs to their favorite recipes. They also post restaurant reviews, but they adhere to a simple rule: “If we don’t have primarily positive things to say about a restaurant experience, we don’t write about it,” says Mike. Why? Because restaurants have off nights. And since the Bobers don’t have a bottomless dining budget, they have to chalk up bad experiences to anomalies. Says Mike: “We don’t think it’s fair to slam a place on the basis of one meal.”

We caught up with the almost-trio—their first child is due in June—to check in on Washington’s dining scene and find out what they’ve been cooking at home lately. Read on for the Bobers’ favorite cheap eats and chefs, what they drink to keep warm in winter, and what they’re looking forward to, food-wise, for spring.

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Posted at 06:22 AM/ET, 02/24/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()