Friday, May 28, 2010

Long weekend!

Long weekends are wonderful.  I love that feeling on a Sunday night when you realize that even though the next day is Monday, you still have a full 24 hours to enjoy yourself.  We have a few things planned but mostly, I want to spend time with Anthony, take advantage of the weather and do some things that I've been looking forward to for months. 

Activities for tomorrow include lunch plans with dear friends and looking for tag sales in search of the perfect nightstand that I can paint and decoupage to my heart's content.  For the rest of the weekend, there are trips to donate clothes and other unwanted household goods, attempts at re-learning how to sew (the last time I sat at a sewing machine, I was twelve!) and hopefully, there will be time to see a movie or two. 

Memorial Day usually symbolizes the start of summer (along with remembering and thanking the troops who fought and died for our country) and summer is usually the season when people slow down and try to relax a bit.  I always try to do that but it never seems to happen.  The last few weeks have been busy and the next couple will be hectic too, with weekend trips planned for the next two weeks, so I will definitely enjoy this break and I hope you all do too!

(Photo courtesy of weheartit)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Books: The Help

A few days ago, I finished reading The Help and I have mixed feeling about it. Mainly, I wanted and expected more from the ending.  This is Kathryn Stockett's first novel and it was a 'sleeper hit' of last summer.  A friend loaned it to me and I decided to give it a chance.  There was something about the cover (and I know, don't just a book by it's cover, but...) that had deterred from buying it.  After diving in, reading 400 pages and becoming completely obsessed with the beautifully-written story and well-developed characters, I could sense where the story was headed and I started to get nervous. 

I don't need a happy ending; in fact, in most of my own stories, the endings are ambiguous to a certain degree.  As a reader, I like when stories aren't totally wrapped up at the end--that means that the writer trusts his or her readers enough to figure out where the characters are headed after the last page of the book.  The Help seemed to be gearing up towards a big ending but it never came.  When I was done reading the last page, I flipped over to see if there was more.  I was sure that there was another chapter.  The ending felt like just the end of another chapter, not the end to a story that spanned several years in these characters' lives.  Two of the three main chracters have horrible things happen to them in the last chapter and the reader, who has come to know and care about them, is left in the ditch with them with no clue as to whether they prosper or fail, live or die. 

Stockett's story of African-American maids in 1960's Mississippi is touching and gets to the emotional core of the time.  I hated the villains, I loved the narrators, I empathized with everyone that was put in a compromising situation.  But in the end, I wanted some closure.  The Jackson, Mississippi community during this time period, as Stockett's writes it, became so vivid to me and I'm sure there are more stories to tell.  I can only hope that Stockett decides to write a follow-up to The Help using some of the same characters so that we can get to peak into their lives again. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Take Me Underground, Please.

(Photo I took last summer on our way uptown)

I love the subway.  For $2.25, I can ride underneath the great city of New York all day if I want, traveling anywhere from Coney Island to Harlem.  I'm used to driving everywhere, battling traffic and looking for spaces in huge parking lots so letting a train carry me from one part of the city to another is a treat.  Even when we were in Washington DC this January, we adored the metro and took it as much as possible.  Subways are just a great way to explore a city quickly and efficiently, and an added bonus is getting a taste of life as a native citydweller. 

No matter how much I enjoy the subway, it does scare me a bit.  Looking down onto the tracks always makes me feel like I am falling, like when I look down towards the ground from the top flight of stairs and get a touch of vertigo.  Also, and I know this is a girly thing to say, but the threat of rats along the tracks creeps me out.  You can only imagine the thoughts rushing through my head when I read this article from the New York Times online about jumping down onto the tracks for dropped items.  Three people have recently died trying to rescue things like a gym bag and a women's coat and it's come to light how many individuals actually try to rescue fallen belongings.

Frankly, there is very little that I would jump down from the platform to retrieve.  But if I did decide to make the leap, I do think that I would at least ask for help so that someone would be there to help me up again.  The article is a lesson for even the most savvy riders.  The trains come regularly and they are fast, and it's best to remember that at all times. 

I also came across this really interesting post about how the subway was free to ride on New Year's Eve in 1984 and 1985, something I never knew.  So much has changed in the past 25 years, right?   

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hello, Monday!

I feel like I accomplished a lot this weekend.  I was busy the entire time, with everything from running errands to scrubbing the kitchen floor, but unlike other hectic weekends, I actually feel rested.  While I was cleaning, I watched one of my Netflix movies (Margot at the Wedding--definitely an interesting movie with characters that were rather unlikeable but still kept me captivated.  The film was only 90 minutes but felt much longer, which could be a good or a bad thing!) and I read through a ton of old magazines I've been keeping around, tearing out interesting articles for future inspiration. 

My favorite part of the weekend was spent watching one of my favorite television series, Gavin & Stacey.  A lot of people haven't heard of it but it's a British sitcom that ran for three seasons and just ended recently.  A while back when it debuted, I read somewhere that it was hysterical and I put it on our list to check out.  When we finally watched the first season, I was instantaneously in love.  I don't ever remember feeling like this after watching a show.  The episodes are short, maybe 30 minutes, and there are only 7 or 8 episodes per season, so in 3 hours, you can watch a third of the complete series.  I've been patiently waiting for the second season to come out on DVD but Anthony took matters into his own hands and downloaded the rest of the series.  I was so excited and I spent last night watching episodes that were new to me but had aired in Great Britain in 2008!

The basic premise is the journey of two 20-somethings that meet, fall in love, merge their families and get married, all while trying to figure out how to make their relationship work.  Gavin is from Essex, right outside of London, and Stacey is from Barry Island in South Wales so they come from different backgrounds and are always trying to make the relationship work logistically.  The show is co-written by two of the supporting characters, Nessa and Smithy.  The writing is sharp, quick, funny, honest and, if I must be honest, I love how different the humor is from American television shows (No laugh track!  No bodily function jokes!).  These characters are modelled after real people and even in a large ensemble (there are about 8 people that are in every episode), the show never feels bloated and each adds something so special to the final result. 

I'm anxious to watch the last and final season but I know I will be sad when it's over.  I think I will ration the episodes, perhaps watch one a night.  If you ever get the chance, watch an episode or two of Gavin & Stacey. It'll make you wonder what other great shows you are missing on BBC.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

So Long, Clark's Dairy

Today, it was announced that Clark's Dairy is closing after more than 75 years of business.  Just a short block from my office, Clark's is a diner-like restaurant.  It's casual, the food is decent, the waitresses are Irish and know everyone's name, and the ice cream is delicious.  The place was updated in the 1960's and hasn't been changed since, but it's this type of establishment that makes New Haven feel authentic to me.  The restaurant will truly be missed. 

I'm reminded of one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail, which is actually a remake of Shop Around the Corner from 1940 with Jimmy Stewart.  Anthony teases me because I have seen this movie hundreds of times and will still stop to watch if it's on basic cable on a Saturday afternoon, but the details of the film ring true.  When Meg Ryan's character has to close her bookstore because of the economy, she's not only sad because this store has been her second home for more than thirty years, but also because she knows something generic will move into her once-sacred space, like a Baby Gap clothing store.  It's hard to forget all of the years of hard work that went into running a business like Clark's Dairy.  And in a few months, the old counters will be torn out and something new will move in.  Hopefully, it won't be a Starbucks. 

Until then, I will make sure to order my favorites from Clark's one last time and make sure to tell Mary, our wonderful regular waitress who always calls us 'love,' that we will miss her come May 30th. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unusual Centerpieces

I just came across this lollipop topiary that can be used as a centerpiece or even as a way to display lollipops at a candy buffett.  I absolutely love it.  If you use small lollipops, like dum-dums, you can coordinate the colors so that the ball looks like an actual flower bloom.  So festive!

(Photo Courtey of Kara's Party Ideas)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Around the World Together

It's hard to keep secrets from a person to whom you tell everything.  For Anthony's birthday in mid-June, I've planned a weekend getaway to a place we've never been but can drive to in less than 5 hours.  I'm trying my best to keep it a surprise until right before we leave on June 11th but the more excited he gets, the more excited I get, and I just want to tell him.

The last few years, we have been trying to visit many of the bigger cities in the Northeast.  Last year, we were in Philadelphia for two days, and this winter, we spent time in Washington DC.  It's amazing to think that I've lived most of my life mere hours from these great cities but have always looked toward the west coast when it comes to vacation destinations.  Next on deck (maybe): Montreal or Chicago this summer, two places that we have been dying to check out for years!

What North American destinations are on your list?

(Photo courtesy of 1000scientists on

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tulip Fields for Miles

Five years ago, I was in Amsterdam for a brief 24 hours.  It was February and there had been a snowstorm--all of the public transportation was stalled and the streets were icy and slushy (not that the cyclists were deterred--the bicycles were slipping and sliding everywhere!).  I distinctly remember how beautiful the city was.  I promised myself that I would return during the spring someday when the tulips were in bloom so that I could walk around without wearing five layers of clothing.

I haven't made it back yet, but looking at these pictures taken in the northern Netherlands, I'm about ready to book my trip now.  These overhead photos of tulip fields are gorgeous.  On a day when millions of mothers are receiving bouquets of tulips, it's easier to appreciate how far some of those flowers traveled to grace our homes. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Favorite Things: May

I'm a little late with this month's favorite things.  The warmer weather has been inspiring me and even though some of my summer plans fell through recently, I'm going to push myself to find great things to do, see and accomplish in the coming months.


(Photo courtesy of Swami Stream via Flickr)

Ever since Easter, I have had fresh flowers in our apartment.  Every time I pass a flower vendor on the street, I want to buy a dozen bunches and spread them all around. 

(Image courtesy of Apartment Therapy)

This is the time of year when the windows can finally stay open permanently and the fresh air does wonders when finishing up spring cleaning. 

(Photo courtesy of

I love graduations.  There is this accomplished feeling that mingles with sadness, which is sometimes overwhelmed by happiness, at least for me.  At any rate, it symbolizes a new era and I'm all for that. 

(Photo courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine)

I have been craving angel food cake with the perfectly sweet and fluffy inside and the sugary, crusty outside.  Maybe I'll try making a homemade one for Mother's Day this weekend.

(Photo of the Pacific Coast Highway in California courtesy of cleverdam107 via Flickr)

Summer always gets me thinking about the future and all of the things I can and should be doing.  I think I will take the next few weeks to think about the endless possibilities that exist for all of us.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer Lightning Storms

 (Photo from phatman via Flickr)

Yesterday was hot and humid, one of the first days this year that really felt like summer.  We fell asleep with all the windows wide open but at 3:00am, I woke up to pouring rain, thunder and lightning.  The rain was beautiful, sheets of water flying by the windows with light flickering behind it.  It took me a while to fall back to sleep but the rain was comforting.  Living right near the beach, I'm tempted to jump in my car one night and drive towards the water to see the lightning bolts above the ocean.  Does anyone else like storms in the summer?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Empty Walls

I was under the weather this weekend and spent many hours on the couch.  We've been living in this apartment for a little over three years and most of our walls are still bare, a fact that I've been able to ignore for all this time because I have limited time to sit around staring at the walls.  After a few minutes on Etsy, I found so many things that I would love to buy to decorate our place.  Perhaps a project for the summer?

I love these dragonflies for our entryway
(Photo courtesy of ChuckEBrydWallArt on Etsy)

I think that I would copy this picture and put these adorable blossoms around our bed. 
(Photo courtesy of byrdiegraphics on Etsy)

This clock made from a map of Paris would be perfect for the kitchen.
(Photo courtest of giftedpapers on Etsy)

This was made for the wall between the couch and the window. 
(Photo courtesy of cheeseandbeans on Etsy)

And even though my bed sometimes looks like this, it's never this pretty.  I'd love to look at it everyday.
(Photo courtey of jkldesign on Etsy)