Sunday, November 3, 2013


There was a time many years ago when the start of a new school year and the impending chill of autumn meant one main thing: marching band season had arrived.  I cannot tell you how many hours I spent on my high school's football field practicing for half-time shows. During home games, we all sat in the bleachers until the end of the second quarter when we filed out onto the sidelines in matching blue and red polyester uniforms and white plastic cowboy hats. We all swelled with school spirit.

Performing was always extremely stressful though. Our band director would tape the half-time show every week so that he could show it to us on the following Monday afternoons and critique and criticize us in front of the entire group. It was amazing how just one mistake from one person could mess up the entire formation. But my favorite performances were always the ones based on movie theme songs.  To this day, I have the urge to march in place whenever I hear the Star Wars theme.

Anyway, I really loved this Ohio State half-time show. The choreography is amazing and the band did a wonderful job. It made me miss that bond, albeit temporary, that all one hundred members of my high school band had when we were on that field together working on an intricate marching show for the entire stadium. That said, I can say with complete certainty that I will never miss wearing those scratchy, white highwater pants. xo

Via Hellogiggles 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One Teen Story Mention

So the One Teen Story blog mentioned one of my short stories today. Actually, an entire paragraph from my story "Thank You, Cleveland" is posted on there right now. No big deal (!) but check it out if you get a minute. Seriously, it's really exciting to have my words on this site. xo

Beautiful photo courtesy of  We the People

Sunday, October 20, 2013


In case you can't tell what's happening in this photo, it's a canister of crescent rolls that exploded in my fridge after a mere two weeks.  It's a bit ironic because more often than not, these tubes won't open for me at all and I have to cut into the cardboard with a knife.  Perhaps this is what I get for buying the generic brand of dinner rolls.  #busted

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's All In the Seasoning

I've always wanted a cast iron skillet. A few months ago, I used the balance on a Macy's gift card to buy a 10-inch skillet and was thrilled when it arrived (and lucky enough to have gotten free delivery--this thing is heavy!). But how do I use it? And how to do you develop the seasoning, which is the pride and joy of cast iron?

I've only used my skillet once so far but I somehow managed to commit all three deadly sins for cast iron care as detailed in this Huffington Post article.  It's going to take me a while to get used to not washing this pan with soap. I may have used a metal spatula when flipping the sauteing potatoes, and I definitely let it air-dry.  I guess I don't have an innate instinct when it comes to cookery.

This weekend, I'm going to take the article's advice and start the seasoning process on my skillet, which apparently only consists of rubbing some olive oil into the pan and then baking it in the oven for an hour.  Sounds easy enough, right?

I must say, these caramelized onions sure tasted good though.  I think it was the perfect thing to break in the new pan and welcome it to our humble little kitchen. xo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wreck It

Say what you want about Miley Cyrus but I'm really loving her new song "Wrecking Ball." It's catchy and hits home emotionally at the same time.  I actually like it so much that I'm willing to overlook the fact that she's licking a sledgehammer in the video.

Also, I know this Lumineers song isn't really new but I sang it all day at work today. The title, "Stubborn Love," really hits me for some reason. It must be the short story writer in me that makes me love titles so much. xo

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Place To Be

It may not look like it from the photo above, but seriously, Trader Joe's is the place to be on a chilly October Saturday night.

I love when the store is crowd-free and the shelves are stocked. Also, I've never seen so many seasonal treats in one place. Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin scone and muffin mixes. The selection was unbelievable. I was able to get out of there with only a box of frozen pumpkin waffles and some pumpkin breakfast bars.

I also bought an acorn squash. I really don't know what to do with it but the squash display looked so perfect. Soup, anyone?

And even though I don't have a great track record with plants, I couldn't leave without one of these miniature mum plants. The contrast between the burgundy petals and the yellow centers is stunning. My goal for the next month is to baby these flowers like it's my job.

So in case you couldn't tell, Trader Joe's is my go-to place to shop during the fall. This last visit made me want to bake pies and wear a bonnet for the rest of the month. xo

Monday, October 14, 2013


I've been kind of MIA lately, emotionally, physically and especially here on this blog.  It's weird how when things are going on, big things that mean a lot to you, it's hard to concentrate emotionally, creatively and intellectually. I've lost my focus, although I hope just temporarily.

You see, my grandmother is sick. She's been sick for a while, but it's gotten much worse in the last three weeks.  We've all been visiting daily and trying to help my grandfather take care of her. Hospice is helping immensely too.  It's so painful to know that someone you love is pain and to know that there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do.

So anyway, I'm here. I'm alive, and I'm slowly getting it back together. Happy Monday, dearies--I hope it's a wonderful week for us all. xo

Photo courtesy of KernowLight via Flickr

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Poor Quality Photos of High Quality Drugstore Finds

Three things:

1. I love this Essie display. It says, "I'll be using my maiden name. It has such a beautiful ring to it." How adorable is that slogan while still being progressive and quasi-effective?

2. I want to buy all of these colors.  There's no way that I could possibly pick which one I like the most because I adore them all.

3. Have I ever taken a worse photo? I know it was a quick photo in a drugstore but I'm appalled at the atrocious quality.  I need to work on my iPhone picture-taking.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fairway Fieldtrip

I know that buying groceries isn't supposed to be glamorous, but you might think differently after a visit to a store like Fairway.

After lunch with friends last week, Anthony and I stopped into the nearby Fairway grocery store. It's new-ish, which mainly means it's new to us. The aisles are filled with gourmet selections in every category (there were like twenty-five types of rice, all with gorgeous packaging), making this market seem almost like a department store. Yes, I'll say it: this is the Bergdorf Goodman of food shopping.

I wanted one of everything. Those sacks of specialty flour? The wall of bins fills with freshly-made bagels and bialys and flagels (a flat bagel concoction)? The gigantic section of mushrooms, and only mushrooms? These people who opened this store thought of everything.

So even though I can't afford to shop at Fairway regularly, it's kind of fun to visit every once in a while. We bought just a few things but what we did purchase was more than worth it. The vanilla-almond coffee is fantastic, especially since it was freshly ground, and I would whole-heartedly recommend the fresh baguettes.  Also, I'd like to one day move into the store's cheese section, if that gives you any idea of how lovely it is. There were seven varieties of Havarti. I think that says everything you need to know. xo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Starting the Week with a Never-Ending Cold

Anthony and I share everything. Last week, he was sick and this week, it's my turn. Although, if I was really being honest, everyone in my office has been sick so I guess I actually am sharing with all my co-workers as well. What a generous bunch we all are.

When you feel like you're living in a virus-infested cloud, time seems to stop, or at least slow down. It's only Tuesday but the weekend feels like it was ten years ago. I can't recall much of what I did except for this awesome checkerboard cake I made for my father's birthday. This project was advanced beyond my baking skill set but I still managed to make a super-impressive dessert. Just imagine how much better it would have been if my head hadn't been pounding.

Now, I'm headed back to the couch for a little more rest before I go back to work tomorrow.  Hopefully, you're making it through the week happy and healthy. xo

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's All in the Details

I've started to organize our wedding photos, making prints and photobooks for our friends and family. It feels so weird to mail people a stack of photos since everything is digital now but I know I would be thrilled to receive prints from a friend so I keep sending them out. When you attend a wedding, you pose for an unbelievable amount of pictures and never see the results so it's been awesome to share these memories with our loved ones.

Our photographers captured every little part of our day in April. The random shots that I loved the most were the ones of our gift table and the tables. I spent a lot of time (too much, I will admit now) painting the table number frames and making our guest book, but from the photos, it looks like these personal touches really turned the venue room from generic into a fitting location for our event.

The unofficial theme for our wedding was chalkboards. I used them as table numbers and as signs on the gift table and sweetheart table. 

I actually made this envelope box for my bridal shower and decided to use it for the wedding as well. It's a modern take on a wedding cake using square cardboard hat boxes.

It's kind of 80's but we had matchbooks made up with our names and wedding date. They are adorable and I'm happy there were a bunch leftover so we can use them in the future.

I used our engagement photos to create the guest book. Bonus: because our guests tucked the little cards into envelopes, their messages were kept private until we read them the next day.

Our favors were small glass jars of candies in navy and pink. I made the labels and then used gold baker's twine to secure the tags.

There were a few other things that I wanted to do but at the end, I ran out of time. Our dinner was a buffet, and I planned to write the menu on a framed chalkboard so I could place it on an easel at the start of the line but the project never came together. Also, our reception venue didn't allow place cards but I used them at the rehearsal dinner instead. No one knew that I was planning on these things so they weren't missed at all.

The details are what made our wedding different from everyone else's wedding--our DJ sucked (he forgot our names several times throughout the night, among many other things), but I'll always cherish those few seconds after our first dance ended and the next song began. Anthony and I chose to morph right into "Tongue-Tied" by GroupLove and didn't tell anyone; it was mostly because we wanted that communal happy feeling right after the official 'first' stiff slow dance. Our guests didn't expect the upbeat transition but it definitely got everyone on the dance floor right away. And Anthony and I were able to dance carefree in the middle of all our favorite people.

Our guests might not remember any of these things, but they are surely the things that I remember. As of now, our envelope box, cake topper and guest book are displayed in our apartment and hopefully, we'll keep them out for a while. Anthony and I will never forget our wedding day but I love how all of these momentos remind us of it daily. xo

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Scoop

How convenient is it that on the day I was planning to post about our visit to UCONN's Dairy Bar, I came across this article which names the University's ice cream parlor one of the best in the country? It only took me two years to get up to Storrs but, seriously, it was so worth it.

Yes, this is the cone that I ordered, with the required rainbow sprinkles (I have standards). I don't think I've ever ordered a waffle cone but they were freshly-made and I couldn't imagine a better time to go all out.  Despite the hole in the tip of my cone, it was one of the best desserts I've had in a really long time.  I highly recommend the Jonathan Supreme and the Toasted Almond Amaretto, but since all of the ice cream is made from fresh milk, cream and other ingredients, I'm sure all of the flavors are just as delicious.  With its chill vibe and plenty of outdoor seating (good for summer, not a selling point in winter, obvs), this would be a perfect 'last stop' on a Connecticut food crawl.

I forgot how beautiful the University of Connecticut campus is. It's changed so much since the last time I visited but it's a great place to walk around and enjoy a late summer day. On this particular Saturday, there was such a wonderful mix of students and local families exploring the grounds and, of course, stopping for Dairy Bar ice cream. xo

Sidenote: For lunch beforehand, Anthony and I met our friend at Corey's Catsup and Mustard in Manchester.  I enjoyed my burger but the real stand-outs were the french fries and accompanying dipping sauces. We shared a couple of orders and still didn't finish them all. And when they say 'Garlic Parmesan Fries,' they really mean it. The coating was beyond impressive.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekend Reads


Short weeks always seem like the longest weeks, no? Yesterday, my day started with logging in to pay my credit card and finding a bunch of fraudulent charges in my account. I was less than pleased, especially when I was told my credit card had to be cancelled. Perhaps that's just the price I have to pay for living in a technology-driven world (I ironically state as I blog about this incident).

Anyway, today I had to put on a cardigan on my way to work because it was a bit chilly and that made me happy. And I'm gearing up for a bachelorette party tomorrow that's entitled "Sex on the Table: Aphrodisiac Cooking."  As long as they don't feed me raw oysters, I'm set.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep thinking about a visit to Bantam Bagels to try these amazing-looking bagel ball concoctions. Four of them equal a whole bagel. Let's just grab an entire box and eat a casual breakfast in the park one Sunday.

And now, some of my favorite links from the week. Have a lovely weekend! xo

  • The new panda at the National Zoo is a girl. How cute is she going to look with little bows in her fur? Cute enough to make me want to jump on a train and visit, that's for sure.
  • Splitsider featured comedy in television and movies for the fall. I'm really excited for some of these. 
  •  I want all of the products featured in this DailyCandy slideshow about drugstore beauty must-haves. I wish CVS let you try things out before you buy them though.
  • Once is going to be at the Shubert in New Haven next year. I predict now that we will wait way too long to purchase tickets but will then snag really good, inexpensive ones last-minute. Optimism is my friend sometimes.

Photo of bagel balls courtesy of Bantam Bagels

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Report: How I Spent My Summer

It's the Wednesday after Labor Day and there's Halloween candy at the grocery store already so it's obviously the perfect time to recap the summer. The season seemed to rush by.  I wish we had barbecued more and we never did get to play mini-golf, but autumn might just be the perfect time to do all that.

Some highlights from the last few months:
So, not bad. Also, I feel like every food blogger had a 'Popsicle Week' this summer. Are ice pops the new thing? I'm still stuck on s'mores. xo

Photo from our weekend in New Hampshire; we took a quick rode into Maine for lunch.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Picnic Improvisation

Sometimes, you plan a picnic but not everything goes as planned so you wind up cleaning off your tiny balcony, pushing two chairs together to create a makeshift table and enjoying the spread at home.  Our leisurely three-hour lunch consisted primarily of cheese and crackers, but it was the perfect thing to do on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

Sidenote: I love how the cashiers at Trader Joe's never judge the contents of my cart, even when it only contains four blocks of cheese, a bag of pita chips, unsalted sunflower seeds and celery hearts. The man that checked out my order complimented my cheese selections and I totally felt validated. He was right; the New Zealand vintage cheddar is amazing. xo

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer DIY Project That I'm Keeping Year-Round


I don't think there's a list-lover out there who doesn't love chalkboards, not only because they provide unlimited list-making options but also because they are aesthetically pleasing (or maybe that's just me).  I'm totally into all of the tutorials that design and craft bloggers have out there using chalkboard paint but they almost always involve cutting wood or making your own frame or painting entire walls. Here's the problem: we live in an apartment. We do not own power tools. We cannot paint our entire kitchen or refrigerator or floor in blackboard paint no matter how cute I think it looks. Let's just file this under S for Sad but True Realities of Being a Renter.

I wasn't ready to give up on the trend though. About a month ago while I was at a craft store, I thought, "Why can't I just spray-paint a piece of poster board and create my own temporary chalkboard?" I experiemented on our balcony with a small can of blackboard paint and the poster board, and was pleasantly surprised with the results (fyi, breezy conditions will totally ripple the paint as it's drying but additional coats will smooth out the area).

I wrote my summer to-do list on our new board in chalk markers and then using two temporary, easily-removable plastic hooks, I hung it on the wall opposite our stove. 

I couldn't be more into this project. It's really a cheapo diy hack but it doesn't really look that way when it's up on the wall covered in vibrant chalk markers.  And once summer is over, I'll just replace this list with another.

Perhaps this means that there is a way to overcome any design obstacle that our small home presents. If anyone can figure out how we can legally have a small fire pit on our balcony, let me know. xo

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Astrologically Speaking

I never read my horoscope but on Sunday, I came across the Gemini and Cancer reports for the week and couldn't look away (Anthony's sign and my sign, respectively). What followed was a forecast for greatness. We were both going to have wonderful, productive, prosperous weeks, but Tuesday in particular was going to be fabulous. Something great is going to happen on Tuesday, I told myself. Be prepared.

So if I don't really believe in horoscopes, why was I more than a little disappointed when yesterday, the aforementioned Tuesday, was less than spectacular? Other than an after-work trip to Target where my hair mousse just happened to be on sale, nothing out of the ordinary occurred. There wasn't even a little cupcake miraculously waiting for me when I got home.

Now I remember why I don't routinely read my horoscope. The letdown is too much to take. xo

Photo courtesy of bymildred

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Recap: Fairs Galore

Mid-August is high season for festivals and fairs in Connecticut and I feel like we put in some pretty good effort this week with partaking in the activities.

On Saturday morning, we drove over to the Milford Oyster Festival and walked around the green for a while. We got there right when it started and there were already tons of people walking up and down the aisles. My favorite purchases were two small bags of homemade gummi candies. I don't think I've ever come across homemade gummi bears before and it was easy to see that they were time-consuming to make. I was super-impressed with them though and now kind of want to try making them myself. I'm a bit impressionable when it comes to food.

I wish we had a place to put one of these cheerful birdhouses.

Gorgeous lazy susans and cutting boards made from local trees.

 Homemade gummi candies. The sour cherry rings were amazing.
I usually hate these balloon carts but how cute is that giant blow-up popsicle?

We headed back up to New Haven on Sunday morning to check out the Pop-Up Shop set up in the Broadway parking lot downtown. The first Pop-Up Shop was a couple of months ago in Fairfield, and I was bummed to miss such a cool event right in our backyard so we made an effort to check it out this time. I really love the idea of this nomadic independent fair; it's like a smaller, local version of the wonderful Renegade Craft that takes place twice a year in Brooklyn. Again, we were there right when the vendors opened for business, but there were already lots of people walking through and checking everything out.

The food area was really great with a combination of about ten trucks and stands, mostly from the surrounding areas. Craft Butchery from Westport was serving these amazing pork green chile tacos, and Anthony and I wound up splitting an order of the philly steak fries from the Fryborg truck. The band was awesome too; it would have been great to have a few more tables and chairs in the center but all in all, I couldn't have asked for a better event in New Haven. We can't wait for the next Pop-Up in the fall.

I love when sidewalk chalk is in use.

These Connecticut cards and pins were really cute. 

 Best pork green chile tacos from Craft Butchery.

Philly steak fries from Fryborg.

Obligatory armshot photo in front of the usual Yale scaffolding.

Did you guys visit any fairs or festivals this weekend?  Happy Monday! xo

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Trailer Session

You know how sometimes all you feel like doing is watching tv? And what I am referring to when I say 'watching tv' is that weird state of semi-consciousness when you sit in front of the television but aren't really watching it, just zoning out in front of it while you hold your almost-dead iPhone in one hand and a half-empty bag of sour patch kids in the other. I don't do it often but when I do, it's a pretty great treat.

If you're bored tonight, check out these trailers of upcoming movies that I'd really love to see. If you have a half-eaten bag of candy, feel free to chomp down as you view. Do any of these films look theater-worthy to you? I actually think Austenland has potential to be one of those movies that you can watch over and over again, like in about three years when Lifetime is showing it on loop. xo


Drinking Buddies

The Spectacular Now

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Finding the Humor

There's definitely some humor in the fact that I took a humor writing class this weekend. Could you really learn how to be funny? Even after this 7-hour Gotham Writer's Intensive, I remain relatively unconvinced but it's never a bad thing to learn new techniques and to practice with some writing prompts and to surround yourself with other writers.

My biggest issue is that my humor is dry and subtle, benignly snarky perhaps. This doesn't usually translate well on the page for me but I really loved the hand-outs and suggested readings that structured the class. The instructor, Ryan, was really low-key, informative and focused mostly on contemporary writers, which I appreciated. These are the people who are currently shaping and re-shaping the literary world; these are the people who are doing readings all around the city.  We talked a bit about Sloane Crosley, one of my favorites, and we read Lorrie Moore's famous How to Become a Writer, which reminded me of how much I love Lorrie Moore, which was then followed with a strong urge to read Birds of America again.

All in all, the class could have easily been condensed into four or five hours. However, I did leave with a bunch of ideas for short stories and essays, including a romance/adventure revolving around pieces of IKEA furniture that fall in love because, let's be honest, bookcases deserve to find love too. 

I think my new plan of action is to just write. I just need to get the words on the paper (or screen, my technology-loving friends) and then revise until there is some semblance of a humor essay in front of me.  In any event, there are plenty of worse ways I could have spent a beautiful Sunday in August than learning about writing on the Upper East Side.

Photo taken at corner of Lexington and 72nd Street.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Travel Diary: The Berkshires, Massachusetts

I know most people wouldn't consider the Berkshires a destination for your typical 'girls' weekend,' but that's where my friend and I headed last week for a couple of quiet days in the mountains. We're not hikers and we didn't attend any Tanglewood performances but there were plenty of things to keep us busy in the forty or so hours that we were in town.  The region is a mere two-hour drive from us, but with the surrounding mountains serving as a gorgeous backdrop, we felt like we were much farther from home.

We wasted no time and headed to the Furnace Brook Winery in Richmond as soon as we arrived in town.  Apple orchards surround the country store with plenty of walking trails for exploring. It was only noon but we started off with a wine tasting.  The wines were all so light and refreshing, most made with grapes from Long Island. The hard ciders were delicious, barely tasting alcoholic. We purchased a bottle of the Sweet Muscato (and a bottle of their French Cidre for later) and headed out to the picnic tables with a half-dozen fresh cider doughnuts. Yes, we had wine and cider doughnuts for lunch. It was fabulous.


From there, we headed through Stockbridge to the Norman Rockwell Museum, located in a little white house on manicured grounds. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this museum. Rockwell's works when viewed up-close are true wonders. His brush strokes are so delicate and strategic that his paintings almost look like photographs. There were several Civil Rights era paintings that were achingly beautiful; these were projects he worked on in his spare time because there weren't any publications that would buy them. The images are still poignant fifty years later.

"Gossip," my favorite Rockwell painting.

Driving through Lenox on the way to our hotel, we stopped for a walk around the center of town and found ourselves drawn to Najaime's Wine, which is essentially a liquor store with a huge selection of fancy cheeses and crackers. We each picked two cheeses (how could I pass up horseradish cheddar spread?) and several boxes of crackers, which wound up being our dinner the next night. Did I mention that it was a low-key trip?

Horizontal apple tree branches at the Great Barrington Co-Op.

The next day, we explored Great Barrington a bit, visited the life-size Stations of the Cross at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy and relaxed at Lenox Coffee for part of the afternoon, but our evening was spent at The Mount, the estate of Edith Wharton, one of my favorite writers from the last century. The grounds are beyond lovely with lush flower beds and wooded paths. Modern sculptures are scattered around on the edges of the trees and there was a live show of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" being performed as we explored the grounds. As we walked through the manicured gardens, it almost felt like we were transported back in time.

Those two days went by so quickly but we really enjoyed the Berkshires.  It reminded me so much of Southern Vermont (my family used to spend so much time in Brattleboro when I was growing up).  I'd love to go back again to visit MASS MoCA or even to make the drive up to Mount Greylock State Park.  I may be wrong but this really seems like a region that's beautiful in all seasons. xo