Sunday, October 30, 2011

all hallow's eve

Tonight, I'm going to bed "early." Tomorrow, I'm going to the Village Halloween Parade. But yesterday, yesterday I celebrated Halloween on my own terms.
The day passed peacefully enough--I ate a leisurely breakfast, submitted my first Pravassa blog post, read a new book, and straightened up the apartment. Then, six o'clock hit. Catherine came home with Halloween excitement and the sailor hat she had so graciously picked up for me. We encouraged Dave to figure out a costume, and helped him into character when he did. Wine and beer flowed freely.
I also prepared myself a quick dinner: whipped butternut squash and a spinach and goat cheese omelette. I may have had some candy too, just to be festive.
Before long, it was time to head downtown to a friend's party. We mingled and danced, chatted and drank, and had an all around good time. These helped:
Hope you all had a fun weekend as well. And if you too are getting excited for the Foodbuzz Festival, please let me know. I can hardly wait to meet you in San Fran!

Friday, October 28, 2011

rich, happy, and hot

Last weekend, around this time, I was at the Urban Zen Center. The Urban Zen Center is a beautiful event space for "a multitude of forums" that explore the initiatives of Donna Karan's foundation: to preserve cultures, sustain wellness, and empower children. I spent a total of 26 hours of three days there while volunteering for Marie Forleo's Rich Happy & Hot Live.
A few months ago, I couldn't have told you who Marie Forleo was. I became aware of her existence while working with The Well Daily, and the opportunity to help at her event came about soon after. To be honest, I was turned off by the name, "Rich Happy & Hot." It sounded too gimmicky and superficial, and so unlike the priorities that I hold myself to. Upon further investigation, however, I learned how amazing Marie is. She is more than just a life or a business coach; she's fun, and smart, and kind, and she certainly doesn't take herself too seriously.
With that said, I still didn't know what to expect with Rich Happy & Hot Live. All I knew was that Kris Carr was going to be there, and I adore Kris Carr. She is one of the most luminous women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Not only does she teach others how to take care of themselves, but she inspires them to do so in the sweetest of ways. I really believe she's a revolutionary.
Anyway, as I was saying, RHH Live... I figured if Kris Carr considered the event worth speaking at, then I sure could spend a weekend soaking up the goodness in, while doing a bit of good myself. It exceeded my expectations. If you don't already know Danielle LaPorte, or Ramit Sethi, or Regina Thomashauer, you should. The way they share may make you feel uncomfortable, the ways they deliver their genius may be unfamiliar,  but the essence of it all is valuable beyond belief.
I'd have to say that my favorite speaker was Simon Sinek though. A "visionary thinker with a rare intellect," he is the author of Start with Why.  I had never heard of him, but I had chills the entire time he was on stage. 
His message: "You have to know why you do what you do; You have to hold yourself accountable; Every decision we make in our lives is a piece of communication; The most basic human desire on the planet is to feel like we belong; Nobody is inspired by your plan, they're inspired by your dreams." 

He explained how, "when people love you, you don't have to be the best, you don't have to be perfect," but, "we have a natural capacity to find those who believe what we believe." That is exactly what made Steve Jobs so incredible; "He didn't invent any Apple products, he just gave people a reason to go to work," and to buy.
Late on Sunday night, I stumbled into a small Indian restaurant in the West Village with a new friend of mine. I was hungry, exhausted, and hungry. I devoured a vegetable simosa, red daal, naan, and rice while we shared more about our lives and reflected upon the phenomenon that had just taken place.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it. Unlike many of the women in the room, I wasn't an entrepreneur. I do not want to create nor sell products, and I doubt I ever will. But I was inspired. I still am. Plus, I got a brand new blog profile picture out of it, and change like that is always fun.

Have a fabulous weekend. No matter who or what you pretend to be this Halloween, I hope you play safely and remain true to yourself. As I tweeted, "If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

playing cinderella

Throughout the year, I've been adding photos to a Facebook album entitled "playing pretend." Sometimes it's just hard to believe that I really spent January in Costa Rica and Panama. I feel like I'm pretending to be the kind of girl that spent her summer galavanting around New York City, and venturing to Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, too. Then, of course, I receive a text from a dear friend inviting me to attend a gala held at the performing arts center where she works.
Last night, I threw my hair into a mess somewhat reminiscent of an up-do, 
I put on my mother's shoes and a marked-down gown from the sales rack,
I pathetically attempted to take a pictures of myself as I was leaving before either of my roommates came home. And wouldn't you know the only photo that came out?
The one I took holding my camera, while standing in front of the sink, with shelves of clean dishes behind me and our small stove and tea kettle in direct view.
It was a beautiful evening, truly, truly, but being as I am definitely not a wealthy benefactor, I was home by 9:30pm rather than at the dinner that followed the performance. I warmed up some eggplant parmesan, and tossed a quick salad to have alongside it. (This photo isn't from last night, but my plate looked similar.) I decided against a glass of wine as I'd already had champagne a few hours earlier. I was in bed by midnight. Today I worked, grocery-shopped, cooked, and cleaned. 

My life certainly isn't glamourous, but when I do get lucky with enchanting opportunity such as this one, I like to think it's because I'm doing something right. That, or I just have really cool friends.

Monday, October 24, 2011

real reflections

While living at home, I took my dogs on daily walks. I allowed my thoughts and feelings to flow freely with the movement, and spent more time doing so each day. In the past week, I dug deeper by combining this natural stimulation with absolutely awe-inspiring urban experiences at Meet Plan Go and RHH Live. I cannot even begin to share with you how amazing it all has been. What I can do, however, is share the photos and quotes I found to be most powerful.
"In life, nothing happens by coincidence." -Rita

"If there's one decision you will not regret making, it is taking that first step." -Amanda
"Greatness doesn't happen when you sit on your ass." -Kris

"I am so sick and tired of possibility. Possible?! My dream is a done fucking deal." -Danielle

"You cannot be a good servant if you can't take care of yourself." -Russell
"The most basic human desire on the planet is to feel like we belong." -Simon

"When a woman loves herself, and takes ownership of her beauty and pleasure, it is a privilege to be in her presence." -Gena

"You already have all the tools you need within you... everything is figureoutable." -Marie
Pretty amazing, huh? Please wish me luck as I take the fresh empowerment and apply it to the first day of my new job today :).

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Julie left for Oklahoma City this morning. Who's Julie? Why is this significant? Well, Julie is K's older sister who had been renting out the bedroom in my Manhattan apartment this past month. She is a fellow Syracuse grad, a few years older, and a current medical student who had a rotation at Cornell Hospital. Last weekend I met her and one of my roommates, Catherine, for brunch at Sojourn.
It's a shame we weren't able to do so earlier, but with the particular craziness that was this month, I just couldn't. It was so nice to catch up with them both.
Julie could've found a sublet from another medical student, but I wanted to offer her my room for convenience (the hospital is a lovely 15-block walk from my apartment) and for the chance to "get away from it all." We made the official arrangement in August; I only realize how much of a blessing it was now.
I don't know if I could've survived this month's particular craziness with as much optimistic realism if I hadn't been temporarily staying with my parents. But I was, and I did. And now, I'm more ready than ever to get back to my apartment and my life in the city. Let the brunches begin again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

summer times

Spring was my favorite season until 2008. It was that year that I spent June through December in the southern hemisphere (mostly in Santiago, Chile), and experienced two winters into spring. I literally and figuratively missed fall; So much so, that in that next year and every year thereafter, I've had a special affinity for autumn, and vibrant leaves, and apple-picking, and squash soups.
With that said, I like summer too. Right now I find myself missing the laid back, carefree, warm sunshine, and momentarily salty breeze of it all. Lucky for me, today I also discovered a missing recap of another overnight in Atlantic City
In 24 hours, K and I spent time strolling along the boardwalk, devouring local seafood, losing money at the casino (it was my first official time gambling, by the way) and lounging at the beach. It was kind of perfect. Let's re-live it, shall we?
[K and The Reserve at Bally's]
[spiced nuts, mini baguettes, whipped butter, a camera-shy California Pinot]
[seared Atlantic halibut with melted leek, edamame & crab ragout, cured lemon & sea urchin butter sauce (this was good; K's jumbo crab-stuffed prawns, better)]
[New York-style cheesecake on a graham cracker crust with fruit compotes]
[demonstrating my love-hate relationship with the addictive slot machines]
[the beauty of the real Jersey shore (and a Starbucks spinach, feta & egg wrap)]

Here's to hoping that next year's summer is just as fun and adventurous. Until then, I will gladly enjoy the remainder of another beloved and beautiful fall...

Monday, October 17, 2011

eleven in autumn

My cousin celebrated his eleventh birthday yesterday. The weather was perfect for pumpkin-decorating, playing an adults versus kids basketball game, jumping on the trampoline, and chasing their dog Junior through the wooded backyard.
But, it was only after my aunt's apple crisp with vanilla ice cream that it really, truly felt like fall. On the other hand, the sugar headache that followed (and the fact that I remember the day Jake was born as if it were yesterday), just made me feel old.

Friday, October 14, 2011

heidi's house by the side of the road

If I were to open a restaurant, I would want it to be like this: small, friendly, quaint with an impressive collection of spectacular wines and beers. I'd be an integral part of running the service operation, ensuring that my customers, most of whom had become regulars, were not only satisfied, but happy. I'd make sure we served high-quality food from organic and local sources whenever possible.
If I were to open a restaurant, I would want it to be exactly like Heidi's House by the Side of the Road.
I had been to this neighborhood gem a few months ago, and it immediately became one of my favorite places. It is both intimate and unpretentious, always crowded yet welcoming, and never too loud. So, when Anna was coming to town, and Katie suggested we use a ScoutMob deal, deciding to wine and dine at Heidi's House by the Side of the Road was easy.
Being as I only had appetizers last time, I was excited to discover that the silverware was served in cloth napkins (made by Heidi herself). I was also excited to try more of their menu. Since I wasn't exactly starving, I opted for Shrimp Salad served on mixed greens with cilantro and light dressing. It seemed simple enough but was anything but boring. The salad was dressed perfectly with just enough kick from the cilantro. The mixed greens really were mixed with a variety of mesclun and butter lettuces. And the shrimp were fresh and flavorful.
Anna seemed to thoroughly enjoy her Gnocchi, and Katie, her Shrimp Tacos as well. Comfortable as we then were though, we couldn't help but be intoxicated by the smell of their seemingly fantastic Macaroni & Cheese. Oh my gosh, I can't even tell you. I just know that next time I stop by, I will definitely bring my appetite. As far as this past visit is concerned, I'm so glad to have shared the experience with two of my best blogging friends. (And then to have continued the friend date night at the super romantic Pil Pil).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

plans for one wild and precious life

Having recently applied to dozens of jobs and gone on numerous interviews, I've also been pondering "my career" quite a bit. So much so that I went back to read one belated note to self, a letter I wrote to my formerly graduating self, for inspiration. Then, I picked up a book that has been sitting on my shelf since the summer of 2008: Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word
It had been on the Fitness Magazine giveaway table while I was interning there and looked interesting. But upon bringing it home, I decided it wasn't for me; I am not driven by money, I don't wish to be an all-powerful CEO, and I never want to be known as a bitch. With that said, thank god I gave this book a second chance. I read it in under 24 hours and now feel more empowered than ever before. I am ambitious and, considering we spend most of our lives working, I do want to make sure I am as satisfied with my career as I am excited by it. This morning, I started my day with my favorite quote and a passage from one of my new favorite books:
"I promise, there is still opportunity to contribute something new to the world. It happened the day you were born and it can happen every day thereafter."
"You deserve to love your work, to be as ambitious as you wish, to earn your worth and to find fulfillment. Give yourself permission to be true to your ambition, to make choices you deem appropriate without pause, without second-guessing yourself. This means you need to check in with yourself daily, tuning in to what you want in your heart of hearts, staying true to your ambition as you define it. When you build your life's work from that place of sanctuary, you'll be richly rewarded with lifelong intellectual and creative curiosity, evolving opportunities, and healthier, happier relationships with loved ones. And you will earn your worth." -Dr. D. Condren, Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

better with beantown

Between the train, subway, and bus, I commuted 9 hours on Friday, for this:
I haven't been sharing much lately, but I've been going through a challenging time. It's been made clear to me that the phrase "when it rains, it pours" is not an exaggeration. I've been trying my very best to remain optimistic, to tell myself that "everything happens for a reason," to embrace the changes with an open mind and heart, and yet, all that "stuff" still gets to me. So, I ran away from it all... and into the open arms of friends that live a mere hop, skip, and jump away from New York (of course, that's on days when there isn't rush hour plus weekend traffic).
[photo courtesy of Tim Sackton]
I arrived to Davis Square at nearly 9pm and was soon greeted by smiling faces and pizza. My friends and I ate, drank, and spent time being merry in their new neighborhood. The following morning, I awoke to a glass of water, fresh brewed coffee, and donuts from around the corner.
They look delicious, don't they? I haven't had a donut in so long. Or rather, hadn't. We leisurely got ourselves ready for the outside world and headed over to one of the few places in Boston I'd had yet to wander in recent years, the harbor.
Katie and I paused momentarily to have a late lunch and refreshing beer at The Whiskey Priest. We sat in the shade while thoroughly enjoying the warmth. I couldn't have gotten luckier with weather this past weekend. Perfect for touristy photos, long walks, and dining al fresco.
We then strolled around more (on and off of The Freedom Trail) before going back to her apartment to get ready for dinner in Harvard Square. 
Our party of twelve waited for an hour and sat for two with more than twelve amazing margaritas. Considering my late lunch, I only had a salmon salad, but couldn't keep my hands away from the chips and salsa. Our experience at the Border Café was thoroughly delightful and not just for the food and atmosphere; these college friends I'd surrounded myself with are just great. 
So great, of course, that the night didn't end at a responsible 10pm. We stayed out laughing, dancing, and having lots of very intentional fun. 
Although Katie, Kate and I obviously slept in the next morning, we had caffeinated, hydrated, and walked off any semblance of a hangover by noon. We had a fabulous destination too, the SoWa Open Market. Between the artists, craft vendors, farmers, and food trucks, our wonderful Sunday afternoon was all but consumed by Boston's "original art and indie design market." 
We also stopped into one of the most incredible vintage stores in New England, or so I think: Bobby from Boston. The boutique had such beautiful vintage clothing for men and vintage menswear for women, and is a must-visit if any of the above is even just somewhat your kind of thing.
To continue our active afternoon, we meandered over to the Boston Common. And upon arrival, found a nice spot on a hill to lie back and people watch. Our relaxation only lasted an hour though. Before long, we were on our way farther into South Boston to meet other friends for the Pats game. For the record, I am so not a Patriots fan, but I do adore summer-style cookouts in the fall.
And all that brings us to this morning. My weekend host, Katie, had to work, so I had a leisurely solo breakfast of eggs, toast, and a borrowed book from her roommate's room. Afterwards, I packed up my things, hopped on the "T" and made one last visit to Harvard Square for one very important reason:
The phenomenal human being that is Mackenzie. She introduced me to her favorite tea shop and her favorite place to enjoy it and despite it being the first time we'd met, I'd been excited for our date all weekend. She is such a talented writer and is as cool as a person as she seems. Time flew by as we shared secrets and stories. I actually nearly missed my bus back to New York, though I didn't.
To be perfectly honest, again, this weekend was everything I'd hoped it be and more. I felt more carefree than I have in a long time, and even with all the fun, was still completely relaxed. Thank you, Boston, and the absolute best of friends that just happen to reside there, for reviving me.