Scenes from the E train

subway

One of most frequent questions I get about this blog is “Who is the Holly and who is the Folly?” It is usually accompanied with a little smile because everyone seems to assume that I’m the folly. Humph.  That’s not necessarily true. However considering the inspiration that Danielle’s latest post, SCENES FROM MAISON KAYSER, provided seems to point in that direction.

Last Friday I met up with some old coworkers. We had a really fun time. I tried to finally forgive them for moving on and getting fun new jobs and also making me come to east side. Wine helped with the forgiveness process.  Happy hour was long over by the time we left the bar but that was when the real adventure began.

It all started on the E train around 1ish AM. The first encounter was with a middle aged woman, who was definitely on something hopefully wine, trying very unsuccessfully to make it down the escalator alone. To her defense it was an unusually long and steep escalator. My coworkers were a little scared. The normal protocol for drunk strangers is a solid ten foot radius but in the spirit of we’ve all been there I offered her my help, linked arms and somehow made it down the stairs.  When she started to ask for help getting to NJ that was when I started to get scared.  I had to point her in the right direction and hope for the best, the escalator was all the help I was willing to offer.

Once I split from my friends I was on the platform waiting patiently when I started to eavesdrop on the couple next to me.  NYC is the best city to people watch hands down.  One of my favorite people watching game is trying to decide whether it is a first date or not.  Major flirting was happening but no touching. I was choosing between first and second date when out of nowhere she dropped the boyfriend line in the middle of the conversation.  Another we’ve all been there moment.  Poor kid.

The train finally came and I realized how amused I was and started thinking about everything that I’ve seen on the subway in the past years.  Once I saw a girl faint and completely face plant on the platform, I saw a guy with a huge tree branch that he refused to take off a seat, a kind stranger informed me of a “medical incident” and told me that I might want to pick another seat, baby carriages filled with everything but a baby.   It was only three quick stops to Hell’s Kitchen.  I put on my headphones and power walked home to the new Fitz and the Tantrum’s “Hand Clap”.   All in all Friday was a quiet NYC subway ride.

&t

Scenes from Maison Kayser

FullSizeRender

Yesterday, my conference ended mid-afternoon and I had a couple of hours to kill (read: work) before my dinner plans.  I headed down to the West Village, which is one of the most charming neighborhoods in NYC, and found Maison Kayser.  MK is one of my favorite NYC mini-chains.  An adorable little French Bistro, it was the perfect non-Starbucks option for a few hours of typing away.

All the waiters are French, the menu is traditional Parisian fare, and it has an amazing little boulanger in the front to grab something yummy for later on your way out.

I ordered a Quiche Lorraine and a Vanilla Roobios tea, and started responding to the backlog of email that had built up after being out of the office for the past three days.  In between emails, I took in some good people watching and listening.

Behind me were two female friends, debating everything from refugees, to politics, to fashion.  They were cursing at high volume for about two hours straight.

  • “I do think there are f*ing smart people in the world, I just don’t think Bernie Sanders is one of them.”
  • “I look at my neighbor with four kids and I’m like ‘What the f**k are you doing living in the West Village?!”
  • “I thought this tea would taste like s**t, but it’s f**ing delicious.”

Entertaining.

Next to me was a group of editors of some fashion rag, all polished with bright red lipstick and tight black buns.  It was like a scene out of Devil Wears Prada.  They were discussing their salaries and how they deserved to be making more money because they totally brought back flannel.  It made me want to sell out for just a minute.

In front of me were two tech-start up guys with laptops open in front of them.  They didn’t speak to each other, except to argue back and forth a bit out loud about a conversation they were clearly having with each other through email or chat on their laptops.

Then there was my waiter, who ended his shift and went to change in the bathroom and came out in drag to head out to his evening plans.  Amazing.

I love this town.

&d

image1 (1)

Sunday Detox: Organic Easter Egg Dyeing!

image1 (2)

A few weeks back, Taryn and I took my mother out to lunch for her birthday.  We went to Tom Colicchio’s “low key” restaurant Craft Bar, and I ordered a salad.  When it arrived it had a pink hard-boiled egg on it.  Curious.  It was pickled, the waiter told me.  I was intrigued.

A few days later – and because she’s particularly in tune with the universe – my dear friend Rebecca send me this.  A recipe to make pickled eggs of every color, just in time for Easter.

So, today, in an ongoing journey to reduce the chemicals in my cooking, I took a stab at making organically dyed Easter eggs.  It was super easy, with one minor (but fun) bump in the road in the form of a baking powder-induced dye explosion (see video below).

I know Easter is winding down, and your egg dyeing is coming to an end – but if you find yourself with a few extra hard boiled eggs this week, try this.  I am now riding the pickled egg train, and I want you to hop on.

You can check out the recipe for detail on the process and colors, but essentially you boil water, vinegar, salt and sugar, and then add the veggies and spices that create the dye color of your choice (beets for pink, purple cabbage for…you guessed it, tamarind for yellow, and so on).  Pour that mixture over hard boiled, peeled eggs placed in heat proof jars, and let them sit for a few hours.

image1 (1)

And the result…

image1 (3)

I’m going to throw them back in the dye overnight to make the colors a little deeper. Process improvement:  I’ll do this the night before next time…!

Now that I’ve got the base down, I’m going to try to get creative and make different colors.  If you’ve got any bright ideas on how to turn these eggs teal or lime, let me know.  Happy Easter to all who celebrated today!

&d

The Kings Theater with the royalty of Motown

 

kings4

Saturday I had  the pleasure of celebrating my mother’s sixty-second birthday. There is always something special about my Mom’s birthday. For one thing it is on St. Patrick’s day so everyone around us is celebrating too. It also kicks off our family’s consecutive monthly birthday procession. This year we decided to celebrate by going to a concert.  Now my parents have always loved music and dancing. I never had to wonder where I got it from. So when I saw a show for the Temptations and the Four Tops at the newly renovated King’s Theater in Brooklyn, I knew it would be the perfect night. It did not disappoint.

kings1    kings5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This theater is beautiful. There is really no other way to describe it. It was opened in 1929 and has all the detailed decadence of that era. Apparently is was a big player in the music scene in the 70s and I even heard a reference to it in Vinyl! It has been closed for years but the restoration was done perfectly and I couldn’t even tell that it sat empty for the past three decades.  A few practical benefits is that there are a million stalls in the ladies room.  Mom and I went during intermission along with the entire rest of the theater and the line was crazy quick.  Also the drinks are the cheapest I’ve seen at a concert in forever. Love it.  The one downfall is that it is far out in BK.  Its not convenient to public transportation and I wouldn’t want to walk alone at night for twenty minute to get to a train.  But we Uber’ed there (is that the right term?) from D’s apartment and it worked out seamlessly.

 

The music was the only thing that could have outshone the theater.   I don’t think I realized how much I loved this music.  I knew that I knew the hits, My Girl and Aint too Proud to Beg, but I didn’t realize how many songs I would be singing my heart out too.  It was so much fun.  The crowd was diverse in age and ethnicity but we were all having the greatest time.   You should have seen my mom, it was the funniest thing.  I have to give a shout out to the older lady in the second row who refused to sit down and was hands down having the best time in the entire place.  My Dad has seen both of these bands multiple times so for him it was a bit bittersweet to see them without so many of the original members.  But for me, it was a special night.

 

kings2

After Saturday I’ve decided on a couple of things.  I need to go see these bands again, my mom just got bumped up to my favorite concert partner and as for the theater my plan is to become a regular.  Also I cannot get Just My Imagination out of my head.  Someone help.

 

&t

International Day of Happiness!

Lucy Ethal in kitchen dancing

In 2012, the United Nations established March 20th as the International Day of Happiness as a catalyst for people to try to create a happier world for themselves and for others.  Bhutan has embraced the idea and developed a Gross National Happiness metric that’s looked at alongside GDP as a way to measure a country’s economic success.  We dig it, and are hoping that other countries will follow suit.  In the meantime, we’re spending today taking this concept seriously and thinking about a few of our joy-inducing tricks.  

Kitchen dancing:  We did a lot of hosting this weekend, and in the middle of the inevitable chaos of navigating a small kitchen together, Ben and I amped up the music to do a little kitchen dancing.  There’s something about dancing with abandon in the kitchen that brings full on happiness back into any room.  We tend to break it out if we’re starting to get irritated by the lack of counter space or simultaneous chopping, washing, and cooking that has to happen within a two foot radius.  This weekend our signal was me holding a knife in the air and shouting “You’re always in the EXACT wrong spot!!”  Time for a kitchen dance.  

Trampoline workouts:  Turns out jumping up and down on a trampoline like a little kid serves up a serious workout.  While you need a little real estate — which runs sparse in NYC — to have one of your own, as long as you’ve got high ceilings, you’re golden.  The other option is to check out one of the many trampoline-equipped gyms in the city.  Even if this wasn’t a great workout, wouldn’t it be worth doing anyway for the pure joy of getting bounced into the air?

Poking fun at work life: We all do semi-ridiculous things in the name of workplace culture.  If I ever need a quick mid-week laugh, I pull up Justin Timberlake’s and Jimmy Fallon’s #hashtag skit that reminds me how ridiculous our social media language and engagement can be.  Another one for work-related comedic relief?  This viral skit that emulates a conference call in real life.  We’ve ALL experienced conference calls like this, and probably will again this week.  

What do you do for a quick burst of happiness or laughter?  

&d

 

Sunday Detox: Suits and Slapstick

Beautiful Little Business Woman In Jacket And Tie

We all take ourselves a little too seriously, particularly during the week when our noses are to the grindstone in whatever professional endeavors on which we choose to embark.

Earlier this week, I was invited to a gathering of “intellectual leaders” and was placed into a setting that takes itself pretty seriously.  Prestigious. Important. Exclusive.  I signed up.  I arrived.  I deflated.  

I was sick of faking it, tired of speaking for speaking sake, and tired of conjuring intellectual passion for a topic on demand. So, I opted out.  I was there in body, but not spirit.  I sat in the back, I didn’t speak, and I intentionally passed the microphone — the one I would normally grip onto — to others in the room.  

My first instinct was to be disappointed in myself.  Why couldn’t I “show up” for this?  Later on that week, as I was speaking to friends and colleagues about the experience they all responded with different versions of the same question:  “What’s really important to you?” “What felt inauthentic about that forum?”, “Why didn’t you feel like yourself?”

It’s hard for me to feel like myself in settings where the pretense is high, and where I can’t inject humor and the child-like do-whatever-you-want-to-make-yourself-completely-JOYFUL feeling.  Most professional settings (that I’ve seen anyway…) come with some level of affectation that we all contribute to in order to ensure others that we are comptent, smart, on our game. But it can stifle people bringing their true self and their honest thoughts to the table, which is bad for ourselves, our colleagues and our work.    

I bumped into an article a few days later that spoke to this same challenge, and the ways that businesses are starting to think about bringing in humor and comedy as a tool to make people more effective and purposeful in their work.  The entire article is worth a read but in essence it says:

“By using humor, we allow great ideas to come from anywhere. Humor breaks down barriers, and people end up having really creative ideas.”

As I thought about this over the past week, it helped reground me in how important it is to me to create professional situations that make people feel as comfortable as possible — that channel the humor and the child-like curiosity that we all have.  The humor that allows us to poke fun at the stiff suits we’re all wearing for unknown reasons. The curiousity that allows us to ask questions, whether or not we think we should already know the answers. The excitement for the world that allows us to truly enjoy it instead of growing tired of it, and that enables us to actually get something done together.

 

Spring Forward

IMG_0308

 

People I’m not sure if you’ve realized but spring has officially sprung. Well okay maybe unofficially. I know this mild winter and crazy early high temperatures should have me scared about climate change, and it does, but it has also just made me really happy. Last weekend I went for my first outdor run of 2016. Danielle is a big advocate of running in the cold weather but I just could never get into it. I hate being cold. So once that temperature hit 60 I put on my sneakers and hit the West Side path.

Now I haven’t always been a runner. Actually I only started doing in the past three years or so. Before that my ex boyfirend would try all the time to get me to go running with him to no avail. What I learned, the hard way mind you, was that I needed to do it on my terms. I would always try and search how to start running, different tips and the top five things real runners do. It would leave me frustrated and got me nowhere. It was only when I decided that I had do it on my own terms that I finally became addicted to it.  Once I get into my groove I miss it when I don’t go for a run, so crazy.

The early days I was very goal oriented.  I would set distance and time goals.  My first obstacle was to get over the guilt of a bad run. Some days you can run forever and never get tired. Some days one mile seems impossible. I decided that if I had a bad day running it was still a day that I got up an ran and that was more than good enough.   Once I accepted that I found that my excuses to not go for a run were disappearing and I became so much more consistent.

A couple seasons ago I downloaded the Nike Running app following Danielle’s recommendation. I love this app. Download it now.  It tells you when you reach a mile, your speed and time. It keeps track of all of your past runs and its really motivating to see your progress spelled out like that. The other benefit is that you can have “friends” and see how they are doing for the month. I never considered myself a competitve person but when I see that Danielle is four miles ahead of me for the month it pushes me to do another mile. I’ve became a little obsessed with beating her and some months I actually do, hehe.

One of the best things that has ever happened to my running wardrobe was finding workout pants with pockets. I don’t know if everyone knows about this and never told me or if I have just discovered the best thing ever but I love them.  I hate that bulky arm band that holds the phone and I still have to use it sometimes but the pocket is just so convenient and easy.  I only have two pairs so far, one from Forever 21 and one from Lululemon, but I am not going to buy any new workout pants without pockets.  Its all about the small goals.

race IMG_0357

My other little tip is the Black Eyed Peas.  I make sure to put them on right around my last mile and Fergie always gets me through it.  I also love to schedule a 5k to get me into it, competition baby.  I use NYC Runs and they usually run about $35.  Whenever Danielle and I run one we always reward ourselves with a carb-tastic brunch.

Anyway thats how I get into my running schedule.  I hope that helps! And if anyone has any good suggestions for new songs let me know🙂

&t

The Five Things I’ve Learned This Week

f067cd08-9516-4b91-90c9-7a7f9314cf26

 

This week I have been battling a pretty nasty cough/cold. It has made my productivity pretty low this week but has enlightened me on the few points below.

PEOPLE HATE SICK PEOPLE    I feel like I have always known this, me myself being a person who gives the side eye to the person coughing on the subway. But since I haven’t been a sick person for about four years I found that I didn’t know how to act. I tried to just suck it up and go on with my daily routine which did not turn out well.  In the future I will call out sick, stay home, watch tv and go to bed at 9:30. No exceptions. I will not care if that big project is due on Tuesday or if my friends birthday party is two blocks away and just pop in for an hour. No. Noone wants you at work/subway/bar anywhere. Stay home and go to sleep. End rant.

S’WELL BOTTLES ARE THE BEST    I know that I’ve sung the praises of this bottle before, but it saved me by keeping my hot water hot for hours! Seriously when I refused to stay home this water bottle keep my tea almost too hot.

ZAC EFRON saved my life this Monday.  When I couldn’t call out sick from work but needed a mental break every now and then, I could just stop and count Zac Efron’s abs.  Click the link and you will too understand.

FOLLOW TRAVEL BLOGGERS ON SNAPCHAT    These people have better lives than we do, we might as well take advantage of them documenting it.  It was actually a lot of fun to watch their stories when I was a zombie on the couch.

JUST A KIND REMINDER    Popup Dinner Brooklyn 2016 tickets are coming out tomorrow people.  They usually sell out and its a really fun time.  This will be my second year and all you have to bring is your dinner and your wine and wear white🙂

&t

 

Sunday Not-So-Detox: Austin’s Food Trucks

IMG_3749

I was down in Austin this weekend for a friend’s wedding, and spent the entire weekend in beautiful 75-degree weather reconnecting with Austin’s awesomeness.

The strip of outdoor cocktail lounges on Rainey Street, the beautiful running path along the Colorado River, and the line of craft fairs and antique shops on South Congress are enough to fill a weekend.  But, the food trucks made the biggest impression on me.  Unlike NYC where the food trucks are aplenty but typically organized into particular days or parking lots (think Smorgasburg), Austin’s food trucks are peppered throughout the city in the most accessible and delicious of fashion.  While there are a lot of great restaurants in Austin, I was really digging the food truck culture that seems so rampant.  Grab your food from a truck, grab your beer from a bar, and chill out on a picnic bench for the afternoon.

I only had so much time to make the most of the chill vibe, so I spent some time (perhaps more than I’m willing to admit!) finding the best food trucks in town.  Here’s my newly developed cheat sheet.

Paperboy:  My favorite, hands down.  A simple and delicious breakfast menu with sunnyside up eggs, sweet potato hash and chorizo.  A few picnic benches out front.  Sunshine.  Morning complete.

Gourdough’s Doughnuts:  We were chasing this homage to all things doughnut all weekend, and made the mistake of thinking it would be a nice dessert to top off the evening.  It’s more of a full meal — or two — but worth every calorie.  I’ve got a savory palate, so I went with the Mother Clucker (fried chicken with honey butter) but each concoction on the menu looked delicious.

Masala Dhaba:  On the popular Rainey street, Masala Dhaba is tucked inside a few of the craft breweries on the strip.  Delicious authentic Indian food (order the goat curry and garlic naan) on the cheap.

I’m heading back to the east coast bright and early tomorrow morning and already having a little bit of separation anxiety – this food and this weather is going to be tough to leave.

&d

On the Road Again…

 

529197_10151594364419993_796790769_n

My gig usually has me on the road about 60-70% of the time.  By some strange twist of fate, I’ve been on home turf in Brooklyn for about three straight months — punctuated by only a few quick trips to Boston.  But I’m heading back to business as usual and packing my bags for a heavy stretch.

On the docket for the next few months for work and fun — Austin, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit — with a few more trips that will likely be slotted in between.

I do really love traveling, and have been at it enough that I’ve learned how to not have it disrupt work and life.  But what I still need to work hard at is not letting the extreme travel wreak havoc on my physical health.

Here are some of the go-tos I’ve developed over the past few years:

ClassPass:  I promise you that this blog is NOT a walking advertisement for Class Pass, and Taryn already shared its joys.  I’m with her.  And while it’s getting pricey in NYC (at $125 a month), I hang on to it because it’s fantastic when I’m traveling.  Each city I mentioned above has CP, and I can continue my mixed routine of yoga, barre, boxing, gym time, etc. while I’m on the road.

You gots to hydrate:  I’m not a big fan of bottled water, but when I’m traveling I grab one of the 1L smartwater bottles (and pay the ridiculous $5 price).  I don’t have a preference for the water itself (we all know it’s tap — sorry smartwater) but I LOVE the bottle.  It’s light and skinny, which makes it possible to carry around when I’m also lugging a suitcase and laptop bag.  I refill it and refill it and refill it, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes in keeping me going.  Better and healthier than all the caffeine in the world.

Buddies:  While it’s sad that not all of my closest friends live in NYC with me, one of the huge benefits of work travel has been being able to catch up when I’m in town.  I get home cooking and some quality down time with friends in other cities in between the crazy meeting packed days at work. And it’s usually during the week, so I get to be part of the evening family routine, which for many of them now includes running after little ones.  Nourishing for the soul.

SkyMall:  Whoever invented SkyMall is my personal hero.  The comic relief this catalog of ridiculousness (squirrel busts, tree faces, waterfalls for your cats) that you find in the backseat pocket of airplane seats has literally added years to my life.  No matter how stressful or busy a trip has been, flying back home with SkyMall and a glass of wine is an instant remedy.  P.S.  To everyone who I’ve sent too many pictures of my most desired items on SkyMall…it’s about to pick up again.

skymall-08

Eat yo vegetables:  It is really hard to find anything that’s not a processed carb when you’re grabbing food on the go, particularly in an airport or train station.  And I’ve struggled through one too many Amtrak salads (iceberg lettuce, one cherry tomato and carrot shreds) to count on what they do have. So, I’ve started scoping out the farmer’s markets and grocery stores close to where I’m staying and the stops I’m going to in between in order to stock up.  I’ve also tried packing fruits and veggies with me in my luggage, but I got a little gun-shy last year when TSA took away my box of Brussel sprouts.  I know this one sounds like a lot of effort (and maybe a little nutty…?) but it’s probably one of the things that keeps me feeling most balanced and healthy while I’m traveling.

Off I go!  Let me know what you do to keep your health on track while you’re traveling. I need to keep up my game.

And let me know if you’re going to be in one of those cities, so I can cook some veggies with you on a week night…

&d