Saturday Small Talk

It’s Fourth of July weekend! What are you up to? The 4th rates pretty high on my list of favorite holidays. Every year, we spend the weekend at a cabin with friends. We eat and drink with abandon and spend an afternoon floating down the river. It’s the ultimate in leisure time, and we all look forward to it!

This year, we’re starting a jello shot making competition. Check back next week for our attempt and the results!


In case you missed it…changing pizza up with a yummy calzone recipe and our first I Love Where I Live–a local’s take on site seeing Washington, DC.

The best of the United States. MICHIGAN WINS!!!! Finally, an objective source recognizes my state’s awesomeness. While you’re at it, 7 Michigan day trips.

If you jump through a bunch of hoops, you could wind up with a home on the island of Sicily for FREE.

Do or don’t: keeping your maiden name.

What I learned leading tours at a southern plantation.

It’s not your job to help everyone.

“Perceptions of mate value change the more time that people spend together.” Which is to say, people can become more or less attractive based on many factors beyond a 6-pack and a symmetrical face.

Is our obsession with CrossFit and boot camp type workouts good for us?

Garrison Keillor is retiring, and a new voice will be at the helm of A Prairie Home Companion.

Tweaking your cookie recipe ever so slightly could give you the exact results you want. More crunchy, more chewy, fluffier, flatter, etc.

Enjoy your weekend!

I Love Where I Live: Washington, DC

When I’m traveling, I think it’s so fun to hear locals describe what they love about where they live–their description offers a better, more personal insight than the best travel book ever could. Since we can’t gallivant the world interviewing people from far flung places (unfortunately), they are going to come to us. Today begins the series “I Love Where I Live,” an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the places we call home.

Our first post is from Lindsey Frederick. I had the privilege of living with Lindsey for 2 years in Winona Lake, IN, while we both worked for the same non-profit. I so loved being Lindsey’s roommate–we had such great fun!

Since our days in Indiana, Lindsey moved to the Washington, DC area. She is a marketing coordinator at a DC-based international nonprofit, where she helps tell stories of redemption and transformation. She is also a regular contributor to New Identity Magazine and, where she writes about life, art, faith, and career. Her articles have also been featured in, FamousDC, Christian Communicator, Winery Weddings, and many others.

Here’s Lindsey:

When Rachel asked me to share why I love my city with Balance and Blueberries, I was immediately excited. And then completely overwhelmed. There are so many fun things to do in the DC metro area, I hardly know what to highlight. So I’ll stick with my staples: art, food, shopping, coffee, and dancing.


When I visit a city, I’m more interested local dives and hotspots, than site seeing. But there are a few sites you shouldn’t miss. If you’re short on time, but you want to see it all, you must visit the Lincoln Memorial. After you’ve paid your respects to Honest Abe, linger on the steps to take in the sweeping view of the National Mall in all its glory from the Reflecting Pool, to the Washington Monument, to the Capitol. If you have more than a few hours, you can stroll to the nearby Korean and Vietnam Memorials, and soak your feet in the WWII Memorial fountain pool.

If you have all day, head to the Sculpture Garden at the opposite end of the Mall on Constitution Avenue and 9th. This park makes for a fun and quirky little side venture, with just enough modern art to appreciate, but not make your head spin with sheer absurdity. The foundation in the center of the garden is another favorite cooling spot in the summer heat.



A few block beyond the Capitol in the Southeast quadrant is Eastern Market. This flea market is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. Metro accessible (orange line), and just across the street from quaint bakeries and coffee shops, and a dusty old used bookstore, you can purchase fresh meats, cheeses, flowers, and art from local vendors. In my opinion, there’s nothing not to love about this place.



If you find yourself in the Eastern Market area around dinnertime, check out Harold Black Speakeasy. This snug and dimly-lit prohibition-era lounge is accessed through an unmarked door and secret sliding wall.The craft cocktails and snacks are tasty, but over-priced even for DC. Still, it’s fun experience and truly feels like you’re part of a secret.

 I love the variety of ethnic food in the area—Indian, Thai, Lebanese, you name it! But my go-to will always be the humble taco. I frequent a little hole in the wall called Taco Bamba in Falls Church, Virginia, just 15 minutes outside DC. You can get a tame Americanized taco, or if your tastebuds are adventurous, try more traditional fillers like cow stomach, intestine, and tongue—mm mmm! I love the tasty fish taco called the Black Pearl.

For something a little more upscale and off the beaten path, try The Wine Kitchen in Old Town Leesburg, Virginia. Each wine comes with a cute, humorous description card and the food is so good you’ll lose track of everything but what’s happening inside your mouth. True story.



When it’s time for a coffee break, I highly recommend Misha’s in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. It’s just a few blocks from the Metro (yellow line), on the corner of King and Patrick Streets. Their slogan is “The best coffee you’ll ever have,” and they aren’t messing around. They roast their beans in small batches daily and make the smoothest latte I’ve ever tasted. Ever.

While in Alexandria, head a few blocks down the cobblestone streets, past dozens of boutique stores and quaint restaurants, to the Waterfront Park and channel your inner-Otis Redding by sitting on the dock of the bay. It’s a great way to refresh, and if you’re lucky, one of the street performers might even chime a little Otis on his water glasses.



I’m not much for the club scene, but I do love me some salsa dancing! It’s the best of the social scene, without the sketchy vibe. Sure, there are drunken frat boys on the prowl, but they’re easy enough to spot—and avoid. For the most part, I find the primary motivation of the dance community is the pure love of dance—and if you happen to make a connection on the dance floor, well that’s just icing on the cake. My favorite places include the Salsa Room on Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia, on Fridays and Saturdays, and Lucky Strike in DC’s Chinatown on Sundays. If you’re a little shy on the dance floor, or your salsa-basic is rusty, there’s always a beginner and/or intermediate lesson before social dancing.

So those are just a few of the things I love about my city. If you make it to the DC area, I hope you fall in love with them too.

Thanks so much, Lindsey! If you want to connect with Lindsey, You can follow her on Twitter @la_frederick, on Facebook /lindseyafrederick or Instagram /fredericklindsey.

Want to share the amazingness that is where you live? Email me at with your insider tips, tricks, and recommendations and you could be featured, too!

Sausage and Pepperoni Calzones

Have you ever had a calzone? They’re delicious! Think pizza folded in half. Only instead of your typical pizza toppings, calzones doesn’t have a sauce, and are filled with a cheesy, pizza topping mixture. The crust gets nice and crusty on the outside, and the cheese turns delightfully molten on the inside (don’t burn yourself!). Dip it in a marinara sauce, and you might even consider swearing off “normal” pizza for good.

First, make up your dough and let it rise.

While it’s rising, make your filling. Brown the sausage, dice the pepperoni, shred the cheese, mix it all together.

After the dough is done, punch it down and divide it into two. On a floured surface, roll out each half. Cover one half of the dough with half of the filling, leaving a border around the edge.

Fold the other side over the top, and brush with egg wash (a beaten egg+a Tbs. water).

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with a hearty side of marinara sauce.

This recipe is a winner and is a fun twist on traditional pizza. Give it a try!

Ricotta and Mozzarella Calzones

Ricotta and Mozzarella Calzones


    For the dough:
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (105-110 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups flour, divided
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, diced
  • 1/2 lb. ground sausage, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (about 6 small)
  • 1/2 onion, diced finely
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1 Tbs. water


    To make the dough:
  1. Mix yeast and sugar in water. Note: Make sure your water is the right temperature! Allow mixture to sit and proof for 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix water and yeast with olive oil, 1 cup of flour, and salt. Once smooth, add 1 1/2 cups of flour, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup for kneading. Dump the dough onto the counter, and start kneading. Add flour as needed. The goal is an elastic dough that isn't sticky. Kneading should take about 5 minutes.
  3. Put the dough into a clean bowl with 1 tsp. olive oil. Turn dough to coat. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, and allow to rise for an hour.
  4. To make the calzones:
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. While the dough is rising, cook and drain the 1/2 lb. of sausage. Add it to a bowl, and mix in the cheeses, pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, basil, oregano, and garlic powder.
  7. When the dough is doubled in size, or nearly so, punch it down and divide in half.
  8. Roll out one half into a circle, and put half of the cheese mixture on half of the dough. Fold and press to seal. Repeat with the second half of the dough and the second half of cheese mixture.
  9. Beat one egg with 1 Tbs. of water. Use a basting brush to coat the tops in egg wash.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, or until the top is golden brown and the crust is cooked through. Serve with marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

Recipe adapted from

Happy calzone making!

If you’re interested…homemade pizza and our trip to Florence.