Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weekend Highlights

The weekend went by quickly, as all long weekends tend to do.  It was uneventful for the most part, and we didn't even attend a barbecue (I actually kind of missed that but am anxious for a day when we can have our own barbecues).  Some highlights:

  • I received several emails from Anthropologie about their 'Huge Holiday Sales' so on our way to Greenwich on Saturday to see Anthony's mom, we stopped.  Not only didn't I get anything, but we banged into a table that had about 100 mugs stacked high and managed to knock a few off so that they crashed and broke into a million pieces.  Major props go out to the salespeople--we felt so badly and offered to pay for the merchandise about ten times (four broken mugs=$32), but they were calm and collected and wouldn't take our money. I'm not sure I can ever go back to that store though. 
  • Anthony's mom took us to a new place that opened in Portchester called BarTaco for lunch.  It was right on the water and even though we all got a bit more sun than we expected, the food and company were really great.  They serve mini tacos and tamales in fresh corn tortillas, and I almost felt like I was in San Diego, which is a wonderful compliment.
  • Speaking of San Diego, all I've been thinking about is going on vacation.  Just a day or two near the ocean would be ideal.  Anthony and I aren't able to get time off together until August but maybe I can find a last-minute deal and we can actually take a trip this summer.    
  •  Last year at this time, I was planning a surprise trip to Baltimore for Anthony's birthday, but this year, I still don't have any concrete ideas.  I'd love to take him on a day trip to celebrate, but I can't decide on a location.  Any ideas?
  • There were a few moments this weekend that were perfect.  On Saturday night, we spent time with my college roommate and had a great time, talking until we were the only ones in the coffeeshop, and then moving outside to talk by our cars for another two hours.  Some of the best times we've ever had have been when we are doing nothing of importance, and I forget sometimes how much I miss that.  
  • I also sat out on our balcony for the first time and was able to almost finish a story I've been working on while balancing my laptop on my knees.
How was your holiday weekend? Did you enjoy the sun and humidity, or did you feel like you were melting like I did?

Image courtesy of weheart it/yourhousecat.tumblr.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

White Walls No More

Growing up, my room was plastered with posters.  Any picture or card that I liked was attached to the wall with some kind of tape, and it basically stayed there until I moved out after college.  My dorm room walls in college were covered too.  The Muppet posters and certificates from elementary school were replaced by postcards and author quotes.  Since I've always decorated in some way, it's weird to think that the apartment that I just moved from, the one I lived in for four years, had nothing on the walls.

At first, I was too busy.  I wasn't able to take time off from work when I moved initially so I wound up unpacking at night and on weekends.  I put a few things aside that needed frames before they could be hung, but I never got around to buying any.  Then, for some irrational reason, I was worried about putting holes in the walls and getting charged for it by the landlord.  And now, I'm in a new place, an adult apartment, and I plan to actually follow through this time.

I've been collecting postcards for years, back to when I was eight or nine years old and bought a few in a hippie/bead store in Brattleboro, Vermont one weekend (yay, Beadniks!).  I have this idea of creating awesome collages with the mostly black-and-white postcards, along with framing some pictures of my family and Anthony.  And I have some photos from past vacations that might look nice if they were enlarged.  The goal is to make sure that people know that Anthony and I live in this place, and to make sure it reflects our personalities and the things we love at least a little bit.

I've had my eye on these Paris pictures for a long time.  I love Nichole Robertson's blog, Little Brown Pen, and her posts are always so wonderful, whether about France, traveling, her family or cheese (one of my favorite topics!).  Her photos focus on the little things that I love, the details not everyone notices but that add character and make a place special, like chairs, bicycles, sidewalks, coffee cups.  Now that her shop has these color collections in postcard-size, I think it's time to go ahead and buy them for our new home.  They remind me of the three days I spent in Paris and how, even though it was snowing and freezing, everything I saw was beautiful.  If you have time, check out Nichole's blog--it'll truly make you want to visit Paris.

Images of Color Postcard Collection from Little Brown Pen

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lunch-Hour Netflix

Lately, I've been trying to take a break for lunch.  Work gets busy for some reason right around the time I'm supposed to leave for lunch so more often than not, I wind up eating my sad sandwich at my desk while typing contracts.  At a certain point, it became clear to me that I may actually need to take that time to re-group.  In the past two weeks, I've watched three movies on Netflix while on my lunch break at work, using the iTouch that Anthony bought me in January.  I think that I've definitely underestimated the benefits of a 30-minute midday break.  I'm not only refreshed for the remaining five hours of the day, but I'm also watching movies that I know Anthony wouldn't want to see, including:

Brief Conversations with Hideous Men: a John Krasinski-directed adaption of a short story by David Foster Wallace which was dark, scattered and extremely intense and was probably better as a short story, no offense at all to John Krasinski, who bravely cast himself in a very unlikeable role against type. 

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: although I did feel like much of this documentary was scripted, parts were quite raw and emotional.  I had no idea that Rivers' husband had committed suicide, I didn't know much about her relationship with Johnny Carson, and this was an interesting view into the life of a true legend, a female comedian doing things in the 1960's that no one else was who is trying to stay on top as she gets older. 

Please Give: I really enjoyed this movie about a New York City family and their elderly next-door neighbor. To me, the characters were all flawed and 3-dimensional, and overflowing with emotion and guilt, although they couldn't always explain why, which made the film even more realistic.  Catherine Keener is wonderful, as always, and I appreciated what the film was trying to say (money isn't everything, but if you have it, it can't always make you happy, etc., etc.) even if there were uneven moments.

Share: Do you have any movies that you think I should add to my Netflix queue for lunch-hour enjoyment?

Monday, May 16, 2011


I think every person has that one thing that he or she does really well, like sew or garden or repair cars.  Me?  I'm still trying to figure out what my 'thing' is.  I know what I want it to be, but I'm not so sure my writing is good enough to be considered the best thing I do (in the running for my 'best thing:' making funfetti birthday cakes, writing thank-cards, finding awesome sales at Target, and reading maps).  It doesn't look like applying to MFA fiction programs is possible right now, so the plan is to writewritewrite and then writewritewrite some more and actively try to get my work published. 

It occurred to me lately that I don't have any friends or colleagues who are also writers. I think that being part of a community would be really helpful and encouraging, and maybe that's what I'm missing.  When I see programs like OneStory's summer workshop, I get unbelievably excited at the prospect of one, having great writers work with me on my fiction, and two, surrounding myself with like-minded peers who could teach me so much.  Maybe not this year for me, but perhaps next year, and it makes me feel better to have something so great floating on my horizon. 

Share: Have you attended a great writing workshop?  And what's the 'thing' you do best?

Photo courtesy of weheartit's odessa

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Currently Hearting...

Some of my current loves...

Sugar Baby by Gesine Bullock-Prado: I want to learn how to make those fluffy spun-sugar lollipops.

Jennifer Haigh's Faith: Haigh is one of my favorite authors (I saw her interview Richard Bausch at this year's AWP and it was a highlight for me) and her newest book looks so good.

Bridesmaids: I'm determined to see this movie this weekend.  I hope I laugh until I fall out of my frickin' seat.

Crazy Stupid Love: This movie comes out in a few months but post-Office Steve Carrell with hot Ryan Gosling and super-favorite Emma Stone cannot fail, right?

Smorgasburg at the Brooklyn Flea: This weekly food fest/flea market is a must-do for the summer (the picture below is of Brooklyn Salsa's large variety).  CAN'T WAIT.

Share: what are you loving right now?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brunch Etiquette

Sunday is Mother's Day and we've invited our families over for brunch. It'll be the first time that they've seen our new place and I'm a little nervous considering about 40% of what we own is still in boxes.  Originally, I thought that I would just serve a 'tea party' kind of spread with homemade muffins, fresh scones, coffee, mimosas and some kind of cake (maybe layered, maybe coconut?), but now I'm having second thoughts.  When people are invited for breakfast, are they expecting eggs, bacon and potatoes of some sort? My initial idea is very carb-heavy, too--the more I look at it, the more I feel like it desperately needs some protein.

Here are a few items that I might add:

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits from the Pioneer Woman

I've made these once before and they were delicious.

Cinnamon Baked French Toast from the Pioneer Woman

I've never made french toast like this but it looks fast and easy so it may be worth a try.

Home Fries from Smitten Kitchen

I've also made these before and other than cutting up ingredients, this is the fastest way to make great-tasting home fries.

Brown Sugar-Glazed Bacon from Martha Stewart

Bacon makes every meal better, right?

Croq-Télé (Almond Cookies) from Dorie Greenspan/CHOW

I love bite-size cookies.

Add to this list a berry salad and scrambled eggs.  Now, what do you think? Too much or too little?  Nice variety? Any suggestions?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Relief, Finally (and Review of Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen)


This weekend marked the last day in our old apartment.  I thought I'd be sad; it was my first place on my own, and later, my first place with Anthony.  But as Anthony and my brother loaded the last of our junk into vehicles and I finished scrubbing the refrigerator, I realized that after four years, I was mostly happy to leave.  There was mold in several places and we started to feel like it wasn't extremely healthy to be living in that environment.  Our new home is nicer and a little bigger, and we finally have a little balcony for a grill.  I'm a little farther from work, Anthony's commute is a little shorter, and we're living very close to my wonderful brother and sister-in-law.  We are finally starting a new chapter in our lives and I'm excited.

In the midst of moving, packing, unpacking, hauling, cleaning and donating unwanted items, I started to read Sarah Pekkanen's new book, Skipping a Beat.  I loved Opposite of Me, which I talked about here, and couldn't want to get my hands on Pekkanen's new book, especially after a friend highly recommended it.  I finished it in just three days and even though I liked it, I didn't love it as much as I thought I would.  The ending was my favorite part but it took a long time to get there.  The main character, Julia, was a bit whiny and guarded for me to actually identify with her.  That being said, the story itself was interesting.  In the first few pages, Michael, Julia's husband, who is the head of a huge company, has a heart attack and dies for four minutes.  When he is revived, he is a completely different person; he wants to give away their millions of dollars and he wants to spend more time with Julia, even though it's an understatement to say they've grown apart.  She resists, then comes around, and when I was two-thirds of the way through, I knew what was going to happen at the end. 

Since Michael and Julia were high school sweethearts in the book, it was scary to think about what I would do if Anthony came home one day and was acting like a stranger (we didn't meet in high school but we've known each other since we were eighteen).  For a fun but thought-provoking read, I'd recommend Skipping a Beat.  It took my mind off of the monotonous task of moving that was at hand, and made me appreciate what was around me other than boxes, namely Anthony.

I hope you all had a great weekend; happy Monday!

Image from Sarah Pekkanen's Official Website