Monday, June 28, 2010

Brooklyn Book Festival, Anyone?

A couple of days ago, I was at an author's website where I saw that her next reading would be in September at the Brooklyn Book Festival.  I love books, festivals and author readings so I obviously was excited to learn more about this event.  After looking it up, I was shocked (in a good way) to see the unbelievable list of writers who have committed to events at the festival already.  I'm really looking forward to catching Jennifer Gilmore, Russell Banks, Sloane Crosley (I'm reading her book I Was Told There'd Be Cake right now!), Jennifer Egan and so many more.  I officially cannot wait for September 12th!

(Photo courtesy of office Brooklyn Book Festival Facebook page)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Perfect Dessert Displays

Last Tuesday, I went to New York City with Anthony, my brother, his fiancee and one of their friends.  It was a beautiful day.  There was lots of sunshine and a nice breeze, although it did get quite warm later in the afternoon.  We spent some time in the Flatiron district (the Shake Shack line was too long so we didn't have lunch in Madison Square Park--boo!) and bought cookies at City Bakery.  On our way down to Washington Square Park, we stopped at Fishs Eddy.  I've passed this store before but never checked it out, and I thought that this would be a great store to bring my co-travelers since they are all pastry chefs (with the exception of Anthony!).  The store has great homewares and there were so many things that I would have loved to get, like adorable saucers and small glass containers with covers. 

My favorite display by far was the table with the stacked cake stands.  The colors were vibrant and really eye-catching.  The styles all had a vintage vibe to them, like these were reproductions of cake stands that would have been used in the 1950's.  I really wanted to buy one but I knew that I would never use it as I don't make cake that often.  We're going into the city again soon and maybe we'll stop by Fishs Eddy. Who knows what I might come home with?

The bowls that I love:

The really cute plate that my brother bought:

My favorite cake stand:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Remember that trip I was keeping a secret from Anthony? Well, last week we took a roadtrip to Baltimore to celebrate his birthday!  It was a new city to us both and we really enjoyed our short, but sweet, visit. 

There was very little traffic driving south on a Friday afternoon and we arrived on time at the Inn at 2920, which is located in the Canton area just a couple of blocks from the water.  It was our first time staying at an inn and it was a real treat.  The renovated home has 5 rooms, tons of amenities, great breakfast and lovely owners and innkeepers.  I loved that the Inn was in a neighborhood with young professionals and lively O'Donnell Square was just a block away.  It really gave us a feel for what it would be like to actually live in the city. 

Baltimore reminded me of so many cities that I've been to before.  The numerous neighborhoods (I think I read there are more than 30) reminded me of New York City.  Fell's Point, with its cobblestone streets and numerous bars, felt like Boston.  And for some reason, the kitchy Hampton area, home of the great John Waters, reminded me of the Hillcrest area in San Diego.  In and of itself, Baltimore has tons of history and is really quite similar to Washington DC though, a city we fell in love with just this January. 

We were in Baltimore for less than 48 hours but we tried to see lots of different sides of the city.  In Little Italy, we had Italian ice and gelato at the famous Vaccaro's, and then went to see a movie with the locals at the Landmark Theater in Harbor East (there's a bar in the lobby so the crowd is mostly adults).  We drove through Federal Hill, spent some of Saturday afternoon near the water at Fell's Point and ate at the delicious Nacho Mama's right near our hotel. 

Two of the best things we did were go to the annual HonFest in Hampden (tons of people, tasty fair food, awesome shops and so many beehived ladies!) and take in an Orioles game at Camden Yards.  The stadium is beautiful and the crowd was really into the game (the visiting team was the Mets so it felt like all of the New Yorkers followed us on our trip!). 

Overall, our trip to Baltimore was a real success.  Anthony had a great birthday and we were able to spend the entire weekend together alone, which never happens.  I'm really looking forward to our next trip in August, although we're not sure yet of our destination. 

Some pictures from our trip:


(From Top: The Pomfret Room at the Inn at 2920, Honfest in Hampden,
Camden Yards, Anthony and I after a very long and humid day)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lady Gaga vs. Ace of Base?

I have a long history with Ace of Base, the Scandinavian band who had tons of catchy hits in the 1990's.   They were my favorite band when I was in fifth and sixth grade, and their album, The Sign, was one of the first CDs I ever owned.  When moving to my current apartment a few years ago, I even found tons of old letters that were sent to me from friends around that same time period that had sentences like, "So glad you are enjoying the Ace of Base CD."  I must have really talked it up in my correspondence, right?

And even though I have mixed feelings about Lady Gaga, I love her music.  Her songs always make me want to dance and the lyrics are interesting while still leaving a bit of mystery to the meaning.  Although her fashion choices are usually what make headlines, I think she is a fierce artist, willing to do anything to make it in the music industry. I the only one who thinks that Lady Gaga's new song, Alejandro, has the same underlying beat as Ace of Base's song Don't Turn Around?  When I first heard Alejandro, I thought it sounded familiar but it wasn't until I heard it again on the radio and actually started singing Don't Turn Around that I noticed the major similarities.

Watch the remix of the two songs that someone put together on YouTube, decide for yourself and let me know!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top Chef: Washington DC

I'm not afraid to admit that I like reality television, and one of my absolute favorite shows is Top Chef.  Last night, after months of waiting, the new season, set in Washington DC, premiered.  I read a few articles beforehand that really panned the show, saying it was boring after all of these seasons.  The critics didn't like that the 'cheftestants' were so experienced (some have been nominated for James Beard awards) and that many of them spend lots of time name-dropping famous chefs that they know.  These reports worried me--has my beloved show changed so much that I will no longer enjoy it? 

After watching the first episode, I was relieved.  I really enjoyed the show and nothing has really changed. The new chefs seem to be great (and most of them have huge egos, like promised) and the previews for the rest of the season really seem like they take advantage of our nation's capital.  The first QuickFire challenge even took place on the top floor balcony of the Newseum, one of my (and Anthony's) favorite places in Washington.  Of course, the first person to be eliminated last night was someone who made dessert, a definite no-no.  After all of these seasons, the chefs should know that, right?  The weeks to come promise appearances by Nancy Pelosi and the White House chefs. 

So, I'm happy that Top Chef is back for another season.  It would be great to have a woman win this season (only one of the six former winner has been female) and I can't wait to see more Washingtonian sights in the background.

What did you all think of the Top Chef 7?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mini Roadtrip to the Shore

This past weekend, Anthony and I took his mom on a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts to visit his godmother. We only stayed one night but we had a lovely time visiting and got to spend some time near the ocean. The sun was quite warm but the wind was strong--there were even tornado warnings! Before we left, we had brunch at the Daniel Webster Inn in Sandwich, which is at the tip of Cape Cod. We sat in the conservatory at a table facing the gardens and koi pond. The meal was absolutely delicious, and the company couldn't have been better. I definitely think we'll take the ride up there again for a relaxing beach weekend this summer.

View from our host's home:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Madison Square Park Proposal

I know I am probably the last person to see this but I just came across an adorable video on one of the Village Voice blogs.  This guy proposed to his girlfriend with a choreographed performance in Madison Square Park (right near the Shake Shack!) with a crowd of onlookers.  Although I'm not sure I'd want to get engaged in front of hundreds of strangers, it is very sweet and romantic.  And, the best part: she says yes!

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Yorker's 20 Under 40

I don't know many people who wouldn't want to be on the New Yorker's new list of the top twenty writers under 40 years old.  Ten men and ten women were chosen and, as the New York Times articles points out, they have very little in common.  Many are from outside of the United States and some are already well-established writers, like Joshua Ferris and Nicole Krauss.  I recognized about half of the people on the list, and am curious about the other half.  It must have been a really difficult process to choose these twenty individuals from a pool of thousands.  Ten years ago, the New Yorker's first list of top twenty writers under 40 years old debuted and included greats like Junot Diaz and Jhumpa Lahiri (who were virtually unknown at the time).  I know this new group must feel incredible pressure now to produce the 'Next Great American Novel,' but I wish them the best of luck and am excited to see where they will be in ten years. 

(Photo courtesy of weheartit's shellysblogger--I would love this bookshelf in our living room!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Faux Barbecue

The worst thing about living in an apartment without a balcony or backyard is that we have no place to put a grill.  You would think that this would only be a big deal on holidays and summer weekends when it's natural to just through some burgers or chicken on the grill outside and eat a delicious, fast and charcoal-y dinner.  But I grew up eating barbecue food year-round.  My mom and dad were the crazy neighbors out on the deck in winter coats in December grilling steaks.  If it was raining, we would stand outside next to the grill under a huge umbrella just to have ribs.  So you can see how I would miss a grill and sometimes be out of ideas for things to make for dinner.  

Anthony and I went to one picnic this holiday weekend, but I was still craving summer food.  Last night, I decided to improvise.  I made pulled barbecue chicken and this delicious potato salad that I saw in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine a couple of years ago.  The chicken was so easy to make (although it took a little time to shred) and the potato salad was so simple too.  I don't eat mayonnaise so I really love this recipe because it uses a small amount of olive oil instead and lots of lemon peel.  The citrus really makes the meal refreshing.  I was more than happy with my improvised barbecue--now, if only I can find a way to make shish kabobs inside!

Martha Stewart's version of Lemony Smashed Potatoes:

Last night's dinner: 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hip Travel Assistance

Just a short while ago, it seemed like I was going to have a pretty low-key summer but I've taken it upon myself to fill these next few months with things that I really want to do and all of a sudden, I have lots of travel plans.  One of the best parts of traveling is the research and hyping up that I do before I even leave for the trip.  I love buying travel books and reading reviews online of restaurants, museums and parks.  I always think to myself that it would be great to have a travel blog that was geared toward my interests so that I could cut down on the time I spend searching for the right sources before I learn anything about my destination, like a one-stop travel information wonderland. 

Enter  I don't remember how I came across this website but I bookmarked it about two years ago after reading an article on their blog regarding new passport laws.  Last week, I was going through and trying to weed out some of my bookmarks when I clicked on it and started to explore the website a bit.  With a blog that is updated more than 5 times daily and a weekly newsletter, it's like the coolest chicks are writing travel advice tailored to my interests.  I found great tips for most of the places that I am visiting this summer and I haven't even delved into the archives yet.  If you are looking for insider advice before you head off on your vacation (or just a neat website to read for hours), check out for their recommendations of hidden gems and memorable places to visit.