Goodbye Forever (21)

NYC hates closets.  I know that this is a well known issue but it doesn’t make it any easier.  The fact that I have to somehow transport and store an entire season’s worth of clothes in my parents attic in Staten Island is enough to drive a girl a little crazy.  Then I recently overheard a solution- one in one out.  The idea is simple and effective, every time you bring home a new article or clothing you get rid of an old one .  But can I really do it?

I needed to start with clearing out my closet.  I realized very IMG_0230quickly that I am bordering on hoarder status.  I had things that I haven’t worn in years.  Things with the tags still on from who knows when.  Things that were bedazzled.  Listen I love my polyester neon I heart Ibiza tank that I’ve haven’t worn since I bought it in 2013 but its taking up very valuable drawer space.  My main offender- Forever 21 clothes.  The two biggest problems with F21 is that they are so incredibly cheap that I buy things that I do not need and only about 20 percent fit well.  I could return it but usually I’m lazy and it just sits in my drawer waiting for the time when I will somehow find a way to wear it (which NEVER comes).  Okay so for 2016 F21 is done.  This takes care of half of my problem.

 

The other half is what to do with clothes that I’ve decided to get rid of.  I am broke and some of these pieces in here are really nice but I haven’t paid it forward in a while, so I’m going donate them.  I happen to have a Housing works that accepts donations on 49th and 9th, a half a block away from me!  Here is a complete list of donation centers in NYC.

Now that my shopping is in check and my closet is nice and neat I can implement one in one out.  This could be the start of a much more functional relation with my closet and my wallet.  However it is only February.

&t

 

Girls Night! Brooklyn Navy Yard Edition

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Kellie provided the ticket hookup, Rooftop Reds provided the wine and the Brooklyn Navy yard provided the location for one of the most fun Saturdays I’ve had in a while.

The event was an Ice Wine Festival. Thrown by the brand new Rooftop Reds, they are vineyard that has recently taken up residency on the Navy yard’s rooftop.  I’d never heard of them but I’ve been dying to go to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for years so I jumped on this event as soon as Kellie invited us.  I mean a rooftop with wine is the only way I ever want to spend a Saturday, ever.

So to get there was a bit of a hassle but not a deal breaker.  It was a 10-15 minute walk from the subway and once we got inside the navy yard it took us a minute to figure out what building it was.  However once we got there it was amazing.  This place is soo Brooklyn.  The old school freight elevator, exposed brick, amazing views, its the perfect setting for a BK rr3rooftop vineyard.

I don’t fully understand how they can grow the grapes up here but it was because I was distracted by all the delicious wine.  Danielle is the one who really knows wine and I usually just drink what I like (whats available) but the wine was very good.  Even the Chardonnay which I usually do not like was very smooth and light.  My favorite was rr2Rooftop Reds Cabernet Franc (I now own a bottle) and Finger Lake‘s Riesling.  The wines paired with the finger foods and music and the raffle, it was just a great party.  One of the founders told us that they have a bunch of events that they will be hosting in the upcoming months.  Join the mailing list because this will be a venue that you need to go to.

 

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Now that I’ve done the rooftop vineyard at Brooklyn Navy Yard I’m determined to visit the Kings County Distillery which makes Bourbon and visit the museum somewhere in there as well.  And of course I’m bringing the girls 🙂

 

 

 

 

&t

Sunday Detox: Handwritten Notes

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I’ve lived in NY, Boston and New Haven over the past ten years, and have been lucky enough to build up a cadre of awesome lady friends along the ride up and down the east coast.  They’re all badass, brilliant, and caring.  But as life and work consume more and more of our time – and takes us to separate cities – it’s hard to find quality time with those ladies, and our long, restorative chats over lattes, yoga sessions or nights out with one-too-many cocktails (in that order…).

While it’s easy to stay connected these days with a smart phone attached to each of our hips, there’s nothing that really replaces being in the same place and a part of each other’s daily lives.

So, a few years ago, I started writing handwritten notes and greeting cards to my girl team to let them know that I’m thinking about them – that I miss them – through more than the periodic thumbs up of a Facebook like.

They’re not long notes.  It’s hard to find time for that.  It’s hard to spend hours on the phone catching up and recounting everything significant that has happened since we last connected.

But they’re funny little cards that remind me of them.  They’re Valentine’s Day cards celebrating my girl-love.  They’re one liners that remind me of our funny moments together.  They do the same – sending back fun little surprises every time I’m sorting through the catalogs, bills and junk mail that come through snail mail.

When we ARE together – even if it’s just once a year – we pick up right where we left off, thanks to keeping the lady-love alive the old fashioned way.

&d

Thursday Cocktail Night: Butter

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It’s been a long week, and this particular Thursday has taken an especially long time to come around.  So, for those of you who are with me and may be on the hunt for a way to unwind with a good cocktail, I have a recommendation for you.

NYC delivers up some solid cocktails and as long as you stay away from Times Square and Murray Hill, you’re usually able to get a really quality libation.  One of my strategies for getting a good cocktail (i.e. yummy, smooth and won’t floor you in one sip) in the city has always been to visit the bars of upscale restaurants or hotels.  They usually have some of the highest quality bars and a quieter atmosphere.

It’s usually hard to get the Mr. to go out in general, but this weekend Ben and I were in midtown for a show (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – P.S. GO!) and stopped by Butter for dinner before heading home.  Butter is one of my favorite restaurants for a nice dinner (the work of master chef Alex Guarnaschelli).  But after seeing and sampling thier cocktail list, I’m definitely going to start frequenting the bar section of the restaurant even if I’m not sitting down for a full meal.

Some pluses:

  • It’s not crowded:  Most people are there for dinner, so  are just waiting to get their spot at the table.
  • It’s a non-scene scene:  It’s got the swanky atmosphere and touches of comfort that I need to feel good about a $17 cocktail, but without the scene-loving people (read: hipsters and tourists) that makes scenes so annoying.
  • The winter cocktail list is delicious:  I’m usually more of a wine girl, but Ben and I devoured their savory cocktails.

My recommendation in The Holy Basil, which is a delicious combination of gin, muddled cucumber, basil, canton and black pepper.  For those who fall on the whisky and bourbon side of life, I tried Ben’s Tall, Dark and Handsome and it was one of the smoothest drinks I’ve had in awhile.  Ben refused to order it by name, but liked everything else the drink had to offer – a combination of aged bourbon, chocolate bitters, stout, and carpano antica.

For those who work in midtown and are starved for a bar with personality and without crowds, Butter should be your jam.

See what I did there?

&d

 

My Superbowl Spread

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February. The most hated month of the year. There are really only a couple of bright spots and one of them is Superbowl. Even if you aren’t into football or your team never makes it (goddamn Jets), the Superbowl is more about good food, fun commercials and of course the puppybowl.

My friends had their annual Chili Cook-off last weekend. This is easily one of my favorite parties of the year. These people are from Kansas and take their chili very seriously. They get really creative and always delicious and lucky me I get to be a judge :). This year I am taking my favorites from the Chili Cook-off parties and translating it into the perfect Superbowl menu.

Last year’s chili winner, a White Chili,  is hands down my favorite chili ever (sorry Mom). I am obsessed!!  Kellie kicked it up by using ghost peppers and made it amazingly spicy.  So delicious. Great now I’m hungry.  I’ve been threatening to make this chili for the past year and never got around to it.  This weekend is the perfect time to finally make it and really impress people.

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This year for the party I entered my Buffalo Chicken meatballs in the sides competition.  Buffalo anything is usually a huge crowd pleaser.  These meatballs are no different and they are a healthy and easier version of wings.  That is until you dip the whole thing in ranch.  This is my go to recipe because it has about 3-4 ingredients and takes a little over two hours.  Just make sure to make enough because people love them and 24 meatballs go quick.

 

Now that I have my menu down the only thing to do is decide between Panthers or Broncos.  The Panther colors are much better but I love Peyton! Decisions, decisions.

&t

Sunday Detox: Imperfect Spring Cleaning

I tend to have an all or nothing approach to the world.  There are many things that I don’t do, but if I choose to take something on, I work as hard as I can to do it really well.  Most times, this serves me really well – both professionally and personally.  I’m selective in what I say yes to and then bring my best to whatever I’m doing.  There is a shadow side to this go big or go home trait, though.  It pops up every once in a while (read: every other day or so) and makes activities or opportunities that come my way all-consuming when they don’t have to be.

Spring cleaning is one of those activities.  I tend to wait until I have a full weekend to just stay home and overturn every nook and cranny, clean every corner of every shelf and fill multiple garbage bags with clothes to be donated.  Once I dive in, I have a hard time coming up for air or settling for any part of that task that’s partially done.

But for a few weeks, this has been staring at me:

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We’re hurting for closet space in our condo (along with the other 2.6 Million people that live in Brooklyn), and my bedroom closet tends to get cluttered pretty quickly.  This disaster has slowly been building up, and I’ve been waiting for my annual spring cleaning event (nightmare) to really tackle it.

But this morning, with an hour to spare between getting home from the gym and heading out to Manhattan to catch a show, I decided to do it – half way.  I knew I wouldn’t have the time to do it exactly in the way I wanted, but I was sick of having the first thing I saw in the morning be a messy closet.  I threw myself into the closet and started flinging out shoes, hair dryers, broken hangers (32…seriously), and clothes that I haven’t worn in a year.  Since I only had an hour, I made quick decisions about what I was keeping and tossing (R.I.P. teal heels that never quite fit and my old 5K jersey).  I repurposed my suitcases for extra storage to hide eye sores like hiking boots and travel toiletries.

What didn’t I do?  I didn’t dust the shelves.  I didn’t mop the floor.  I didn’t take the scuff marks off of the wall.  I didn’t neatly refold the sheets on the top shelf.  I didn’t go through the box of winter hats, gloves and scarves and throw away mismatches.  I didn’t organize the toilettries (there are SO many half bottles and THEY NEED TO BE COMBINED).

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But in an hour, I got the closet to something that I’ll be excited to see in the morning, something manageable and clean.  And not perfect.  All of those things that I didn’t do will be there for me when I have another quick hour.  And, if I keep this up, I might be able to reclaim that spring cleaning weekend for something much more fun.

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It was so refreshing to tackle this in a way that I would usually consider half-assing it and end up with a result that felt just as good.

Well, almost just as good.  I’m still thinking about those toiletries.

I’m getting there.

&d

 

Girls Night! Russian bath version

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Every now and then this city provides one of those fun Sex in the City moments.   I had one last Thursday when my girlfriends and I went to the Russian Turkish Baths in the East Village. Well a much less glamorous and a bit more grimier moment to be specific.

When the idea came up to go I have to say I was a little nervous. I had this picture in my head of a big room filled with old sweating Russian men with towels that were too small. My coworkers definitely made some old balls jokes that did not help. Equipped with my bathing suit and water bottle I made my way to E 10th.

Now this place has a story to it.  Apparently the two Russian families who own the bath had a major falling out years ago and rather than sell to one or the other they decide to run the business on an alternating basis.  Its so old school and for some reason it makes me think the place is more legit.  And I read it on the internet so it has to be true.  Now one thing about this place is that it brought out the OCD in me.  I expected a spa feel to it but when you walk in you kind of feel like its 1977.  The locker room is tiny and old, and besides the anxiety of being in a bikini when I’m this pale and haven’t gone to the gym in weeks, I also had to fight the urge to go get some Clorox cleanup.  Not the best start.  Once we got downstairs we had four rooms to choose from, two steam rooms and two saunas.  First we picked the aroma steam room. After I got acclimated to the heat, around 120 degrees,  I started to get it.  You seriously just sit there and sweat everything out.  I stopped caring about my hair or my butt, its just too hot to.  We all started to relax into it.  We caught up and spoke about recent trips and engagements.  We took much needed breaks in between rooms.  People were walking around in mud treatments and the veterans could tell we were newbies and would give up little tips.  We managed to do all the rooms, some of them twice, but by the two hour mark we were done.

I have to say that shower when I got home was one of the best in my life.  After I washed away the sweat of it all I realized how great I felt. Seriously every pore was clean and my skin felt amazing.  Corny words like revitalized come to mind.  It felt ten times healthier than after I did that stupid juice cleanse.  I get why people are addicted.

Some tips.
-Water is essential.  I was never so happy to have my $35 S’Well water bottle because it really did keep my water ice cold even in that crazy heat.  They don’t have a refilling station but everyone uses a sink that tasted fine.  They do sell water.
-Make sure to bring your own flip flops.  I didn’t and they have free sandals there but they were dingy.
-A change of clothes to go home.  We all came directly from work so changing back into my tights and skirt was less than comfortable.
-Bring a plastic bag to transport your bikini home in.  You were just sweating in it for hours and you don’t want in touching everything else.
-Read the yelp reviews.  They will give you a good idea of what you’re walking into

Usually when we go out for a girls night there is a lot of wine involved and the next day I have a massive headache.  Not only did this feel awesome after, it was really fun to mix it up.  But I think my favorite part was getting out of my comfort zone with my friends, definitely.  I know I’m getting corny again.  I’m not sure if I’m going to become a regular but I am definitely going to do it again.  Next time I’m getting a mud bath 🙂

&t

 

Heels and the City

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There are days when I have deep insights to contribute to humanity.  This is not one of those days.  Today, I’m mostly focused on the dissonance in my love for NYC and my love for heels.

Unless I’m at home on the couch, I’m usually wearing heels.  For some reason, I just feel more human in heels — more prepared for the world.  It may be some weird result of me starting my professional career in the presence-focused world of financial services, but regardless of where it came from, it’s here to stay.  My particular jam is brightly colored patent leather heels.  Can’t get enough.

Over the years, I’ve developed a pretty strong ability to navigate NYC’s terrain — cracked sidewalks, potholes, angry pedestrians and chaotic cabbies.  The one thing I haven’t mastered completely is snow, slush and ice.  And I haven’t tried all that hard to go about my usual heel-laden business when NYC gets hit with a snowstorm like last weekend’s Jonas, because it’s just kind of asking to fall on your arse.  But I’ve had to developed a few methods to keep my little friends with me and appearing my version of presentable once I arrive wherever I’m going, snow or shine.

Bookstore pit stops:  If I’m dragging my heels around with me in a tote bad, I try to find a bookstore or coffee shop on the block that I can duck into and change.  The NYC sidewalks are usually pretty clear, so walking down a few doors with heels is pretty safe and bookstores typically have pretty nice restrooms for their customers – and aren’t as grimy as Starbucks.  Bonus:  I’ve picked up the last two books on my reading list using this method.  There’s more than one benefit to sneaking into the rare books section at the Strand to make a costume change.

Chunky heels and platforms:  I’m a stiletto gal, but chunky heels are making a comeback (hello 1996 Doc Martens!) and on less blizzardy days, you can get away with wearing thicker rubber soled heels in the snow.  You need to really want it and be slightly crazy to make it worth it – two categories I fall squarely into.

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Heel lockers:  As a last resort, I’ve started sprinkling my shoes throughout safe storage places in the city — my office, my friend’s apartments and the various locations of collective working spaces.   Neutral colored of course to fit every eventuality.

Ahem.  Well, it has taken writing this down for me to realize just how ludicrous this obsession has become, but I’m embracing it.  Bright, pretty heels make me a little bit happier every day.  And that makes all the effort involved in making sure we’re united worth it.

&d

 

 

 

 

 

January’s goal-done and done

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Resolutions. It just about the time that we all start forgetting about them.  I always had the same generic ones, lose weight, find a boyfriend, no more french fries.  However a couple years ago I switched my focus from practical resolutions to fun ones.  One year it was to teach myself how to cook, the next year was to make sure I visited a city I never had before. Even though last years was a bit of a failure (the guitar is still sitting in the box) I am going to make sure I have fun with 2016.

This year I’ve decided I will try and do something I’ve never done each month.  The inspiration for January came in the form of an email from my friend Maggie.  She has been taking an oil painting class that her friend teaches and wanted to know if I were interested.  Oil painting?  Well I kicked ass at Paint Nite so how hard could it be right?  Um wrong.  Its really hard.  It will be my third week this Wednesday and although my painting looks like a big brown blob right now, I love the class.  I’ve never done anything like it.  I’m still just grasping (using that word generously) the basics of shading and mixing but its three hours of focused meditation that doesn’t allow for any distractions.  I’m trying to get over the fact that Maggie’s painting already looks like a pretty pastel fairy land.

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I love this resolution!  I probably never would have signed up for this class if I didn’t have this resolution in mind.  And I don’t love it because I’m good (I’m not) but I love it because its new and different and takes me out of my routine.  Now I’m really excited for February.  Rock climbing maybe?  If only I could give up those french fries.

&t

ps- for any New Yorkers that are interested, the classes I take are at the Manny Cantor Center on East Broadway right by the F stop.  Its a great class for beginners.  Let me know if you want more info!

Sunday Detox: Oatmeal Pancakes

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If you’re anywhere on the east coast today, you’re probably snowed in thanks to the weekend blizzard Jonas.  Brooklyn got more than 30 inches of snow, and I broke out my snow pants and Ben’s snow goggles and trounced around in it yesterday.  I looked super cool.

All this snow put me in the mood for a hearty homemade breakfast.  I decided to pull out my recipe for oatmeal pancakes and blueberry syrup.  I know that pancakes and syrup don’t really sound like detox – and they’re not – but this recipe does take out all the refined, processed ingredients, and packs in much more fiber and nutrients than the classic white flour version.

Also, I promise that not all my recipes for detox involve oats, but that last bag of oats I bought was just so damn big…

Oatmeal Pancakes:
4-6 servings

4 cups of classic oats
3 cups of buttermilk (low or full fat)
1/2 cup skim or low fat milk
4 eggs + 1 more egg white whipped
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of melted butter

(If you have a sweet tooth you can add a tablespoon of brown sugar, but I like to keep them on the savory side to balance the blueberry syrup coming up….)

Place the oats in a food processer, and grind them down (to a flour consistency if you want pancakes that are classically smooth, or slightly coarser if you want a thicker nuttier pancake). Pour in the buttermilk and let them soak for 45 minutes – 1 hour.  If you’re going with the coarser version, I tend to throw in a little extra skim milk to make sure the consistency is griddle-ready.

Preheat your griddle or skillet.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and whisk together.  I use a mixer to get really smooth batter, but old fashioned-elbow grease works well here too.  Throw them on the griddle and cook them for about 2 minutes on each side, if that.

 

Blueberry or ANY-berry Syrup

4 servings

 

2 cups of Blueberries (or your berry of choice)
1 cup pure maple syrup

 

In a small saucepan, heat 1.5 cups of the berries and the maple syrup until the blueberries have burst (about 4 minutes).  Strain the syrup to remove all the solid berries, and stir in the uncooked berries.  I like to throw blue poppy seeds in for a little crunch.  This is a tart and sweet syrup, so you just need a drizzle…

 

Nutty, sweet goodness that’s perfect for a snowy day. Or any day, really…

 

Happy snowstorm, friends!

 

&d