Tuesday, December 28, 2010


¡Hola conejos, (Confused as to why I'm practicing my Spanish? Watch this.) hope all is well! I figured I'd check in once more before 2011.
Unlike last year, I have no resolutions to share with you. I've already graduated without regrets, rediscovered some passions, traveled to new places, and prioritized giving back. I have finally gotten to a point where I choose to eat healthfully without second thought, workout for pure pleasure, and do both just enough to maintain a body that I am not only comfortable with, but proud of. I am happy and I am thankful for this. And with the generous gifts I received for Christmas,  I couldn't ask for anything more. That's not to say that I don't have ambitions for this coming year however; this will be the year I live fearlessly.

"People who are truly fearless are those who 'fear less' because they're willing to confront their fears and embrace them," wrote Jennifer Goodman Linn in this month's Whole Living. This is the first year of my entire life in which the only things I know to expect are the printed holidays within my bare Moleskin planner. (Well those, plus my birthday.) I have no academic schedule nor career track to comfort me, and as such, it is up to me to make this year all that I want it to be and more. It reminds me of a quote by Proust that Elizabeth Gilbert uses often: "Our lives are journeys that nobody can take for us and nobody can spare us from, we have to do it on our own." I've appropriately placed it on my Facebook profile as a result. The personal, romantic, professional, travel, and wellness opportunities are seemingly endless right now. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
My last few days have been centered around family. My today was booked with doctor and spa appointments. The rest of my week will be filled with my other loved ones, my best friends. On Wednesday we will see the classic ballet, The Nutcracker, performed in Brooklyn. Thursday we will tailgate, cheer, and revel in Orange spirit for the Pinstripe Bowl. It'll take place at Yankee Stadium which both excites and perplexes me. (I wonder, is it a good idea to spike hot cocoa?) Then, of course, there's Friday.... good ol' New Year's Eve. Oh my do we have quite the celebration planned at Gallery Bar and beyond! As the #10 on Whole Living's 10 Thoughts says, "An ending doesn't have to be sad. It's the only way to begin something new." Smile, my dears, because we are ready for new, we deserve new. New will take us to places we never thought possible. Wishing you a very happy NEW YEAR and I'll be seeing ya'll on the wonderous flipside.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

warm wishes

'ello doves. I hope your weekend's been magical! My holiday was everything I'd hoped it be and more. 
Spending time with both sides of the family was a treat, the food was delicious in every way, and Santa was ridiculously good to me. Gotta love the Nice List.
Today, however, our focus has been on the trees (and the snow) outside. The entire northeast is in the midst of it's first real blizzard of the season. Above is the scene outside my bedroom window as of 3 p.m.; add about 8 more inches, wind, and some darkness, and you can imagine how it looks now. As a Syracuse grad I'm not at all phased by it, but the region as a whole is on high alert. To combat the cabin fever, my sister and I have been playing with our new toys: Just Dance 2 and Buzzword. To combat the chill, we've turned to our family friend's annual gift:
The best homemade hot cocoa mix on the face of the Earth. I can say that statement too, I've tried most others ;). I am enjoying it now as I do every year, each evening beginning on December 25th, and as follows...
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3

Wherever you may be, I hope you are cozy, safe, and within arm's reach of chocolate. Whether it's of the drinking or eating variety is up to you :).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

extraordinary news

'Twas just another day. Although I am certainly a visual person who prefers aesthetically-appealing things, I ate ugly food and loved it. Case in point, lunch: garlic green beans, hummus, and a veggie burger atop a bed of greens. 
Ew and delish. Later in the day I drove my aunt's car into the city--a terrifying first for me--and then subwayed myself over to Brooklyn to meet Sofia and Leslie for a  yoga class at Williamsburg's Kula. I landed my first headstand without the wall, but other than that we had mixed feelings about the instruction. Despite the fact that our dinner plans afterwards consisted of a closed Good BK, we still managed to have a fabulous time together as usual; eating good French food, drinking good cheap wine, and reveling in good conversation. It was an ordinary December day, I suppose, and I don't doubt that even though I have to run around for some last minute Christmas shopping, today will be one as well. 
Yet even then, there's announcements like this one that make it special: As of January 6th, 2011, I will be in San Jose, Costa Rica. In the days following I will be elsewhere throughout the country and Central America, including (hopefully) both Panama and Nicaragua. <- And that, my friends, is the abroad detail I've been making you wait for. Wishing you a beautiful, happy, and healthy holiday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the orient express

What later became synonymous with luxury travel, the Orient Express was first the long distance train service that ran across Europe from 1883 to 2009. Although the route changed some over time, vintage posters most often show Paris - Munich - Vienne - Pest - Belgrade - Constantinople. I got a taste of that journey.
We began at French Roast.
It was mid-afternoon. I savored a croissant and espresso.
My two companions enjoyed fancier fare with a café au lait and mocha.
Next we shopped our way through the West Village before coming upon a turn-of-the-century bar car on the famous train, the Orient Express.
The menu boasted classics from the traveled regions with plates like the Red Pepper Rollatini (above) and the Mediterranean Stew (below) . The cocktails are inspired by stops along it with names such as the Sleeping Car and the Nagelmackers (the founder of the original train company).  
The wine list is limited but sufficient.
But the interiors, oh the interiors! "Beneath the curved ceiling, vintage luggage racks are stacked with trunks; oak-paneled walls give the room a warmth that Agatha Christie would have approved of," says T Magazine. It is clear that the founder, Osman Cakir, is as much an antiques dealer as he is a bar proprietor.
Then we ended our trip sweetly with cookies from Magnolia Bakery. Why did we not get cupcakes, you ask? Well, if you can believe it, I'm not too big of a fan. Not to mention that none of us had  cash on us and they didn't accept credit cards. 
It was a fun little adventure we had, Liz, Christina and I. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

by golly, i think i've got it!

The Christmas spirit, I mean. It's taken some time this year. But, after six festive parties, three hours of holiday baking, and one very special gift--Glee: The Music, The Christmas album--I finally remember why I love this season so much.
Because it is filled with so much light and love, friends and family, gifts and giving. I'm sure the Californian ornament I received in Heather's Ornament Exchange helped too :). Hope you all had a lovely weekend and I'll be sure to return to a more consistent blogging schedule before the new year begins.

Friday, December 17, 2010

for now

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings."

As for details about any upcoming travel, that time has not come yet. I'm sorry for teasing you! Please accept the photograph above, (taken almost 20 years ago!) as a hint instead. TGIF! Enjoy the weekend, my darlings. I know I will.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

guess what, url?

Danielle is going Abroad again! Surprised?! So was I. To prepare, I've been busy wrapping up the majority of my freelance work, eating out as healthfully and often as possible, spending lots of time with family and friends, yoga-ing when I can, and trying to squeeze in sleep amongst it all. I'll be back with more details soon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

the neverending story

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. For her first few years, both of her parents worked while her grandmother babysat. Before long though, her mother worried that she would become too spoiled and so she switched careers to stay at home and return to her first career-love, children. 
The girl spent almost every weekday with her mom from then on. They would drive one town over to another family's home as her mom babysat and she made one of her first real friends. The girl's name was Katie and they were inseparable, probably because Danielle was a bossy little one and insisted upon it. At first they played only with each other but then the time for preschool came and three days a week they went their separate ways. To make up for it though, their moms signed them up for dance class together.
Eventually, Katie moved on in her extracurricular life, and so did the little girl. They went to different schools and Danielle's mom got a new job. Yet the occasional play date, writing class, and summer art camp kept them friends. Nonetheless, by the time high school hit, they'd all but lost touch. Then chance happened. In her first few weeks of college, Katie realized her randomly chosen roommate's best friend went to Danielle's college. She messaged her and the two started keeping in touch again. Though it wasn't consistent, throughout the next few years, the emails and Facebook-stalking kept them informed about the other's lives.
After college graduation, they were eager to connect again. Throughout the summer of 2010, they made, cancelled, and re-made numerous plans for drinks and dinner. Katie was excited to hear about Danielle's road trip plans and reconnected her with her own brother who was going to school in New Orleans. When Danielle came back, they caught up once more, this time with more recent stories of family, career, and relationships over full-bodied wine and coincidental reliefs to their Turkish food cravings.
That would be the history of Katie and I :). We had dinner together last Thursday. I'd proposed a few eatery options conveniently located near my office and on her ride home (because apparently I still have control issues) and she chose Beyoglu. I was pleased.
Despite having been to Istanbul, I really haven't had a fair taste of Turkish cuisine. Acquiring a horrid intestinal infection within 24 hours of being there didn't really allow for one. For my meal, I ordered a glass of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Vegetarian Platter including hummus yalanci dolma (stuffed grapes leaves), kisir (a cracked wheat salad), ezme (spicy chopped vegetables),  patlican salatasi (mashed eggplant salad), cacik (a thick homemade yogurt) and a few other things I couldn't quite identify. 
Scooped up with three fabulous chunks of their fresh bread, each bite was absolutely divine. My dear friend, Katie, on the other hand, went in the entirely opposite direction and enjoyed the Meat Special platter. She liked hers a lot, too. Gosh, I had a wonderful time and cannot wait to meet her again for coffee before I leave. ("Where am I going?" you ask. Stay tuned later this week to find out).
The next day at work, I was greeted by Ottoman-inspired fare again. The office, you see, was having their annual holiday party lunch and had ordered platters from that same Beyoglu. It was delicious. Lamb and minced beef may be popular, but believe it or not, vegetable platters are often the star of midday meals. Afterwards, we enjoyed a much more American dessert; the same cupcakes my beloved ex-coworker, Shirley, had bought for me on my last day at Quirky. I probably had a dozen by the time I left that evening.
The brownie, peanut butter and jelly, chocolate chip pancake, and pb cookie varieties are fantastic. Oops? As if.
I'll have you know that I haven't craved sugar since then. I'll also admit that I, once again, ate a Turkish veggie mezze the following day. Yes, that would be my third in three days. Between the leftovers from my restaurant meal and from the overestimated order at work, I had no choice. Thank God for that! I guess some things--like good food and great friends--don't really ever change.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

how to holidaze (the friend crush way)

Good morning, sunshines. Hope you all slept as well as I did! By the chance that you did not, and would like to try again later tonight, make sure to have a day like my week. For instance, see a Broadway show with your family, get drinks with a new friend (read: boy), work, blog, work, have an editorial meeting, work, go out to dinner with friends (read: guys and gals), work, have a money-related meltdown, work, work, make enough soup to last you until the end of the month, work, run grown-up errands, work, work, work, meet a friend for dinner (read: girl), work, celebrate the holiday spirit at the office with Turkish food and American cupcakes, work, work, attend your cousin's apartment-warming party, and then work. On the other hand, if you'd rather focus on seizing the day, today, may I suggest a look back at yesterday's musings. Either way, definitely make sure you prepare (and RSVP) for the influx of holiday parties in the days to come. Remember: eat your greens, don't skip meals, move often, stay hydrated, rest enough... oh, and let us not forget about these fantastic tips too:

P.S. Bridgette Dale is my favorite blogger this season. I have a serious friend crush.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

eureka! the new way to set goals as twentysomethings in the 21st century

I've always been the "wanna be enlightened" type. Self-help books, meditation, inspirational stories, and mindful positive thinking have appealed to me since my pre-teen years. Recently I picked up The Art of Non-Conformity as per a Pour Café & Wine Bar recommendation. I haven't finished it quite yet, and I couldn't summarize the conventional yet all the while brilliant content if I tried, but there are a few of Chris Guillebeau's points worth sharing.
Three to be exact. Of the the four things he lists in an interlude as to what you really need to be successful in life, I believe only three are necessities. They are as follows: passion, vision and a task, and a commitment to stay the course. The tips aren't anything groundbreaking but I feel as though societal and economical pressures and norms keep us from pursuing them all at once. 
For example: If I had complete freedom to choose the way I wanted to live the life I love, my success would be illustrated as follows... I would already have multiple residences around the world. They wouldn't be extravagant, just simple, and big enough to entertain myself and one to two friends. There'd be apartments in Paris, Santiago, and Montréal, a quaint townhouse in San Francisco, and a home in Australia (city tbd). I'd be fluent in Spanish and French and visit all of the continents often. Oh, and a loft in the Manhattan would be much appreciated as well. But I couldn't just galavant around the world. Oh no, that would not be satisfying. I would need a part-time position on the editorial management staff at a website I was truly passionate about. When I wasn't on a conference call, responding to emails, managing social media, or editing articles, I'd be doing research for my book series. The research would consist of eating out, window shopping, taking fitness classes, and attending cultural events. And meeting and talking to different people. Lots and lots of that. Traveling would not be a constant however. I'd spend three quarters of the year with my family, including my boyfriend, who will be just as adoring of me and of his career as I would be of him and mine. Eventually we'd get married and have children, but not before growing and learning together for a few years. When that time did come we'd wed at a small, intimate and beautiful affair. A few years later, we'd start a family (preferably two kids) and raise them with love, kindness, and awareness of the beauties of culture and diversity. And let's not forget that throughout the journey I'd also have figured out a way to consistently volunteer my time, efforts, and skills for a cause I believed in. Somehow, someway, it would all work out. I would be healthy and happy and my life would be more full than ever before.
Oh, dear me. There's no way all of that would ever happen! But bear with me, because it isn't because I'm not capable of making my dreams a reality, nor because I do not desire to make them into one. Rather, my successful life will be unique from the one I described above because life isn't a planned itinerary. We cannot dictate the things that happen around us nor the people that we come into contact with. As such, if we are going to truly empower ourselves to reach success, we must begin and end with our personal being and existence. Trust me, it even sounds a bit too "new age" for me when phrased like that, but I believe it anyway.
All I'm saying is that we will truly be successful if we are able to define and then redefine what our success is. We can achieve it, we deserve to do so. Looking at my own imagined story, I notice a few key things to be apparent, 
  1. I am primarily passionate about travel, relationships, wellness and communication in a global scale.
  2. My vision, or shall I say "personal mission statement" is: To help the world better understand each other.
  3. I have no idea what my task is but I have prepared myself well to actively work towards finding out.
  4. Dedication, hard work, and self-motivation are always required. It's a great thing that I've embodied these three in some way or another already.
And as such, it seems that I am well on my way to success. Well, probably. Now I just need to sit down and work on quite a few S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) objectives that will ensure that I get there. I hear it's even nicer than the Eureka, California I visited 2 months ago :).
Not everyone aspires to become a trilingual, health nut, globetrotting foodie and eventual wife/mom (a cool one, by the way), and I don't doubt that that's a good thing. Success means something different to everyone as it should. What does your successful life look like? Have you determined/how will you determine what you will need to believe it and make it happen?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

balancing dough

In the past 48 hours, it has come to my attention that--I have lost more money than I can afford to lose. I have been a victim in a financial scam. And, for a responsible and intelligent human being, I can make some pretty idiotic choices... yhe last part of that is actually not true at all. The first two parts, however, unfortunately are. I almost wish I could reveal more, but I can't.
I am far too familiar with feelings of doubt, inadequacy, and fault in situations that I have very little control over. But being financially-conscious? Now that has never been my strong suit. Honestly, I simply do not like to give money too much value, I am neither a spender or a saver, and I don't mind being generous. Nonetheless, these recent events have been making me question my attention to detail when it comes to keeping my bank account as healthy as I try to keep my mind and body. So, I've acquired a few tips from scouring Women's Health:
  • If you need to dry-clean often, make sure to shop around for the best price. Also, try to alternate visits with home dry-cleaning products like Dryel.
  • Cut out ATM fees, they add up.
  • Buy restaurant gift certificates and make a dining out vs. eating in schedule. I set up one for myself earlier last month.
  • Set-up an overdraft account by linking your savings to your checkings.
  • Always go to the grocery store or farmers market with a plan. And, whenever possible, buy generic.
  • If you don't use something and no longer need it, sell it. Use sites like ebay, craigslist, or geoli.st. 
Despite my disappointment, sadness, and fury, there's no way I'm going to completely overhaul the way I think about and use money, but it's probably a good thing that I pay closer attention from now on. Pun most definitely intended. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

a stream of consciousness

Coffee is a wonderful thing. I have mixed feelings about the fact that it's snowing outside. Article deadlines make me stressed out. I can't get enough of the thrilling adrenalin that I get from my new writing schedule. My hair looks better on the second day after washing. How have I not made pumpkin oatmeal yet? I need new jeans. I hope people like my gratitude journal as much as I do. I'm tired of commuting in and out of New York. The world really is filled with good. I have yet to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. I don't know if I want to. Why am I the Grinch this year? Now is a brilliant time to start dating. I find it flattering that guys are interested in me, but I wish I didn't care so much. I can hardly wait for K to visit me for New Years. Someone should figure out what we're doing. No matter how many times I use Western Union I still feel like it's illegal. Hopefully I can make it out of the country in 2011. I should stop by City Bakery for hot chocolate today. If only C could join me. I have to text her. I also have to text/call about a dozen other friends. Sometimes I'm hard to get in touch with and I don't like it. I must send out a batch of snail mail soon. All of my readers and blends should subscribe to Well+Good NYC My mom makes the best soups in the entire world. Why do I take taxis like I can afford it? I'm glad I saw West Side Story yesterday with my grandparents and family. Practicing my Spanish needs to happen more often. This week is going to be a fantastically busy one. I wonder why there weren't any comments on my last post. What would you like to see more of? I don't feel guilty for missing pilates this morning. The Art of Non-Comformity is kind of an amazing book so far. Going out on a Sunday night makes me feel rebellious. That's probably pathetic. Coffee is a wonderful thing. Wouldn't you agree?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

pão, pão!

Two years ago, I almost went to Portugal for spring break. I had the entire week planned out: fly into Lisbon, venture into the eastern countryside, then take the train south to Faro and beach town-hop before venturing back to Alsatian France. I never did take that trip. Instead, Liz and I galavanted from Ireland, to Hungary, to Italy. It wasn't the worst of alternatives ;). Since then, however, it's been at the top of my still must see European destinations, similar to Prague, Iceland, and the Nordic region, amongst others.
Last night, I experienced a little teaser. After Leslie and I enjoyed complimentary glasses of wine at City Winery, (and then got a reminder as to why we've decided not to go back again, 'tis an unfortunate story that will not be shared) we rounded the corner to another ScoutMob delight. Pão! is Portuguese for "bread" and the name of a small, unassuming yet fantastic restaurant on the edge of quiet Tribeca.
Behind a heavy wooden door, the warm, authentic atmosphere was a welcome change from the evening chill outside. We sat at a communal table and was greeted by the waiter, manager, owner, waitress, and busboy. Not all at once, of course, (that'd be odd), but throughout the meal. In two words: great service.
I had read about the vinho verde before, and both of us were equally as intrigued to try it. Unfortunately, it was a white derivative--youthful, light, and fresh, and totally inappropriate for a winter dinner. We enjoyed our tasting, however, and then promptly ordered glasses of  full-bodied reds. I hope to return in the heat of summer, then, and only then, will I risk a headache for Portuguese green wine :).
The Pão! menu boasted Iberian specialties: fish and meat. We settled on seafood fare with Peixinhos Da Horta, or "little fish from the farm" fresh breaded green beans over black eye pea salad, and Vieras Em Tomatada Com Xarope De Porto, or sea scallops on tomato compote with port wine syrup. We also requested Esparregado on the side for the green factor and for our curiosity towards the broccoli rape mousse. Unfortunately, they were all out, and so we settled on sautéed spinach instead. I wish I knew the Portuguese word for that one.
As we enjoyed our meal of fresh ingredients and simple flavors, we discussed the complexities of our lives. It wasn't particularly dark and deep, but it did match the familial, broken in, and comfortable ambience. It made me happy we were friends.
I've never regretted taking the chances I've taken. Not by the big ones like spending a year abroad or falling in love at the wrong time, nor the smaller ones like experimenting with a different cuisine or attending blogger events. It was at a Beam Green one that I met Leslie, a girl could relate to my passion food, health, and travel, and continue to inspire me to pursue them all.
We ended our meal sweetly with a dessert of "Chocolate Salami." Captivated by it's name? So were we and we inquired about it's contents before ordering. Graciously, we were offered a sample of the rich chocolate fudge with sprinkled with pieces of Maria cookies, in addition the special of the day, a warm chocolate cake with homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Both were delicious. And, the entire dinner came to a total of $18 each. Did I mention I love ScoutMob?
Living life in itself is a risk I suppose, yet that should never deter us from living it to it's fullest. Yesterday I took a chance with Portugal, tomorrow I might take a chance on a date, but tonight, tonight I will play it safe, cautious, (maybe even boring,) and stay in. Sure there are experiences to be had and people to share them with, but even I cannot handle constantly living on the edge of excitement ;). Take care, my darlings. I'm taking a well-deserved night off.