Thursday, June 30, 2011
I have a habit of giving Peter gifts that benefit me as well. One of the best in this category was his wedding present. I purchased this one year ago today, and kept meaning to tell you about it, but then I'd have to chat about sewing or pizza or some other nonsense. So today is the day!
Over the years, I had given Peter a watch and monogrammed cuff links and such -- traditional, easy wedding presents for men. I put my thinking cap on, knowing that I had to avoid flasks and embroidered handkerchiefs (What was I going to do with those?!).
During planning, I heard a fun idea for an engagement gift: a bottle of wine for the couple to celebrate with now, one for the wedding, and one for the first anniversary. Brilliant, no? I basically just expanded on this idea and got Peter a case of wine -- one to have around our wedding, and then for anniversaries 1-10 and 15.
If you want to see a very happy and excited wine store employee, tell him that you need a case of wine with a mix of things to drink at varying times in the next 15 years. This is like an awesome puzzle for them to put together!
Make sure you tell that happy wine store employee the price you want to stick with for the total cost. When we buy cases of wine, we typically stay in the $10 to $15 range per bottle. But the wines you want to age will be quite a bit more expensive than the ones you'll drink during the first five years. Go cheaper for the early wines, and expect to spend a fair amount more for the wines you'll age.
I'm so excited that we'll get to drink our first bottle this weekend! We're going to pay the corkage fee and take it to a fancy dinner at Eleven Madison Park. Anniversaries are so fun!
P.S. It's sort of turned into a mini anniversary week around here -- sorry about that! I'll back to normal next week :)
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Instead of giving each other a book or concert tickets, I convinced Peter that we should pick out a new painting for our first wedding anniversary (less than a week away!).
This post by Emily Henderson led me to Linda Donohue's pretty shop. Oh, how I love her work!
These two abstract paintings were among my favorites, but the few pieces of "real" art we own have this kind of look and feel. And I kind of wanted the painting we chose to feel a bit more wedding-ish, since it's to celebrate our anniversary.
This lovely floral painting was the winner! I love that it has lots of pink and blue -- our wedding colors. I'm so excited to have it in our home for years to come!
Monday, June 27, 2011
I think we've been in New York for a record amount of time these last two months. Typically, one or two weekends a month are spent out of town -- sometimes more. But because we've known that our time here is limited, we've been sticking around and treating our weekends like fun summertime staycations!
We went on two epic (for us...) dates over the weekend to a fun mix of old and new spots.
East side date:
1534 is a great spot to grab a drink. It's in a basement, so it doesn't have that summertime outdoors thing going on. But the drinks! The drinks are so good. And they do a good job of not taking themselves too seriously. One of their rules (printed inside every menu) is that when an awesome power ballad is playing you must sing along. Ha!
Prune is an old favorite. I was a little worried that it would be impossible to get into after the book and award, but we were able to make a late reservation the day of. It was as wonderful as we remembered. Also, proof that NYC can sometimes be very small town: we ran into one of the sweet ladies who was at our food and wine pairing class!
After dinner, we wanted cheese instead of something sweet. Since Prune doesn't offer that, we headed to Terroir. One of the most wonderful things about New York is that when you want cheese for dessert (or whatever the thing is that you desire) you almost always have easy access to it.
It was 2 AM at this point, but gosh darn if it didn't feel like 4 AM. I'm counting it :)
West side date:
Sockerbit was everything I hoped for. I like gummy candy a bit more than your average Jane, but I still think this is one of the happiest shops around. I'm still working through my bag of treats, but my current favorite is the raspberry Swedish sailboats.
Taim is another old favorite, so this really pains me, but it just wasn't as good as I remember. There's no specific complaint, but it just felt a little less...delicious? Lame analysis, I know. I still think the fries with saffron aioli are a gift from the gods.
Amorino was a fantastic way to follow up our slightly disappointing falafel. I had amaretto, cherry, chocolate chip and salted caramel. The amaretto was the definite winner for me. I'm already trying to figure out how to get back there a few more times before we leave. Like, maybe go every night on my way home from work? Just a thought.
Friday, June 24, 2011
On the agenda this weekend:
I am super-crazy excited about one of those items in particular -- can you guess which?!
Wishing you a lovely first weekend of summer!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I can be a little gossipy at times, but I typically like to keep the drama quotient in my life near zero so I can float merrily along. A cup of coffee in bed, hosting friends for a little dinner, going out for ice cream in the evening. Maybe a little shopping, some chatting on the phone. Little ripples of activity with happy, easy-going types.
In books though, there is sometimes something irresistible about stepping into life with a main character who is a complete and total drama queen, brat-head cuckoo. Readers, meet Undine Spragg, the leading lady in Edith Wharton's charming book The Custom of the Country. She is selfish and conniving and utterly vain, but I love her. I do! I think you will, too.
Further incentive? It's free on Kindle!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The food and wine pairing class we took over the weekend was taught by the charming owner of Vine Wine in Williamsburg. Here are a few bits and pieces from notes taken during the class:
- Everyone has a dominant nostril that's better at sniffing wine. To find yours, tilt your head to the left and breath deeply into your wine glass. Then do the same with your head tilted to the right. Kind of an odd thing to know about yourself, right?! I'm a left nostril lady.
- It's easy to fall back on the same old descriptors when tasting wine (citrus, floral, earthy, etc.). Here are a few of the fun new-to-me wine descriptions we learned: fig, red cherry, rose, juniper, black pepper, asparagus, mushroom, hay, mint, wet leaves, walnut, cedar, wet wool, buttered toast, tar and marmalade.
- When in doubt about what to pair with a wine, think about the region it's from. An easy example: Italian Chianti pairs well with rich tomato sauces.
- Avoid sweet wine with sweet things. Dessert wines are best paired with a cheese course, not a cup cake.
- And finally, if you are looking for a new get-the-party-started wine, I'd like you to meet Blanc Pescador. This was the first wine we tasted that afternoon, and I loved how crisp and effervescent it was. It's the perfect $10 bottle to celebrate the start of summer!
Monday, June 20, 2011
(Brooklyn Bridge Park)
When I told my sister that we were officially moving to Boston, one of the first things she said was, "I bet you're really going to miss your book club."
That probably sounds very strange, given how many major things go into a move, like apartment hunting, new jobs, leaving behind a great city you've lived in for years. But it was also a fairly accurate assessment of what I anticipate missing the most as a result of our move.
Most of the women I know talk about how difficult it can be to form friendships as a grown-up person. Perhaps you're lucky enough to work in a fun, young office and you've made a few friends there. Maybe you also make friends with your spouse's colleagues. Or through a neighbor, or at a party, or during running club.
But forming a group of girlfriends, like the one you probably had in your college days, is far more difficult. I feel so lucky to have been a part of one for the last couple of years. My book club is made up of eight super-smart, super-gorgeous ladies. We give each other advice on our careers and what to put in our Netflix cues and dating and the best new boots to invest in. And of course we have long, intellectual discussions about literature. Of course!
Thank you, book club ladies, for being such a fabulous group of girlfriends to me. I adore you all so much, and can't wait to drink lots of wine and have a Tarot reading on my first visit back to NYC. XO!
Friday, June 17, 2011
List makers are always quite proud of their status. We love crossing things off! So satisfying. Hence, the NYC list has been making me twitchy lately. There's still so much we need to do!
This weekend we are attacking that thing with a food and wine pairing class at Brooklyn Kitchen, a picnic in the park with my lovely book club (last meeting, sob!) and a brunch visit to Diner and/or Marlow & Sons. Have you been to both? Please vote for your favorite, in the event that our stomachs can't handle both in one day!
Hope you have a fantastic weekend!
Thursday, June 16, 2011
This is a completely self-indulgent post, but that's the kind of awesome power you get when you take life by the reins and have a blog of your very own!
I would like to present my birthday wish list:
1. ASOS watch with horse print. This will help me win every $2 bet I place at Saratoga.
2. Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. Perfect stuff, and I'm nearly out.
3. Kate Spade Aeryn. These! I just really need.
4. Kodak Easy Share. Peter's iPhone would like resign from its duty as primary picture taking device in our lives.
5. Arpella tablecloth. This will look so pretty in my new dining room (that has a built in hutch, just wanted to share).
Let's pretend your birthday is July 13! What do you want? I promise to fully support your wishes, if you can support my desire for a magical horse watch that I believe will make my life more lucky.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
(Waiting in the rain...)
A recurring theme in my stories these days seems to be that we go out in NYC, and then it pours!
Last night we headed to Prospect Park for the Decemberists concert. When we walked out of our apartment, it was just a few tiny drops. Nothing! On the bus, it started to get a little heavier. By the time we walked into the band shell, my hair was soaking wet and my shoes were squeaking.
We took cover under a tree and twenty minutes into the show, the sky cleared and a giant moon rose behind us. And then we got to hear lots of fun Decemberists' songs!
Those guys are quite charming. I'm always really surprised when I find myself liking music that's not featured on Jonathan Schwartz's American Songbook, but there it is, guys. Feeling slightly more hip than I did yesterday.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Despite my Dad's best efforts, it would seem that he did not succeed in making his girls care, even a little bit, about sports. He tried his very best. There were afternoon baseball games at Fenway and a trip down to New Jersey for the Women's World Cup in 1999. Tennis rackets were given as birthday gifts and he gave up many Saturday mornings trying to drum up interest in ponytail softball and recreation soccer leagues.
Instead of embracing sports, we shunned them. I think my sister and I felt like disappointments in some way, through no fault of my parents' actions or words. But we grew up knowing that my Dad was a fantastic athlete and that he loved nothing more than playing softball or soccer with his friends, even then. We were decidedly not gifted athletes, tending towards dolls and crafts and movies.
No one was more surprised than me when I started to take more than a passing interest in sports. You will not be shocked to discover that this completely coincided with meeting Peter. It began with college basketball the first winter we were dating, and then the following year we moved to New York, home of Peter's beloved Yankees. Games were on in the background in our little apartment that summer and fall, and I started to embrace a favorite player of my own. Now, I'll happily listen to Bill Simmons on long car trips, sit through entire baseball games without whining even a little and spend an afternoon hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range.
With the distance of a few years, I realize that the foundation to become a sports fan was there all along. Peter just had the (admittedly somewhat difficult) job of stepping in at the end to close the game. So to speak.
For the first twenty years of my life, I had a fantastic, close-up view of a model fan in my Dad. He loved to play, loved to watch and had a decades-long devotion to his teams, despite their (mostly losing) records. I got to learn from someone who knows what it means to play nicely with others and that life should contain more fun and excitement than sorrow and seriousness. And perhaps most importantly, I saw that much good can come from believing in things that are bigger than you and mostly out of your control -- no matter how loudly you yell at the players while watching on TV.
Monday, June 13, 2011
These baked chicken meatballs are pretty amazing. I'm usually a pork-veal combo kind of girl, but I don't know, guys. These might be new household favorites.
After I read about Molly Wizenberg's claw technique for meatballs, I've successfully avoided that dense quality so many homemade meatballs can have. I've written down what we added to the meatball mixture, but this is an incredibly adaptable recipe based on your preferences and what you have lying around. Fresh grated ginger, smoked paprika, chopped scallions or chili flakes would also be excellent additions.
Baked chicken meatballs with rice noodle salad
You will need:
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon crystallized ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley and basil
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
1 package rice noodles
1 large carrot
1 large radish
Tzatiziki (combine a large spoonful of yogurt, diced English cucumber, chopped mint, salt and pepper)
Preheat oven to 375. Loosely combine all ingredients in a bowl using the claw technique. Gently gather a small amount of the meatball mixture and toss gently between your two hands a few times until a loose ball forms. I like meatballs to be between 1 1/2 and 2 inches big. This will make 8-10 meatballs, depending on the size you chose. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked all the way through.
Soak the rice noodles in very hot water for 10 minutes and drain (you can also cook them like pasta in boiling water for a few minutes). Top with thinly sliced radishes, cubed avocado, grated carrots, a few meatballs and a big dollop of tzatiziki. Finish with a big squeeze of lime juice over everything.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Last night after work, I hustled over the far west side to meet my sister and her cute girlfriend for a drink at the Frying Pan. It's a funny little bar on a boat!
About twenty minutes after we arrived, it started getting super windy (see the girls' hair blowing around in the photo above?). We took cover under an awning and it started storming all around us. There were even little waves jostling us around!
It was a little bit of bummer to be mushed up against a bunch of people that looked like they got lost on the way to one of these events. But the change in the air was fantastic! And it was so neat to see the storm roll in over the city.
Happy Friday to you all! Hope you have a relaxing, fun weekend.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
(Via Real Simple)
After our first apartment hunting visit in Boston a few weeks ago, we found a place that we loved. Sadly, someone rented it just before we sent our paperwork in. During that visit, we only saw a few places, but I loved all of them. Finding a fun apartment would be so easy!
You know where this is going, right?
We went back on Saturday with a giant list of appointments. Starting at 10:00 AM, we bopped all around from rental agent to rental agent looking at one crazy-town apartment after the next. There was the one where the backyard served as a dumping ground for old lawn mowers, garden tools and children's toys. There was the one with the baby blue painted brick walls in the kitchen and the almost black paneled living room. And then there was the fully carpeted one where the tenants supposedly had one cat, yet there were three massive, quite full litter boxes in one of the bedrooms. Gah!
Around 4:00 PM, I was (embarrassingly) near tears. Peter sweetly tried to give a pep talk, but I was having none of it. The situation was dire! We had only one appointment left!
You know where this is going, right?!?
That last apartment was absolute perfection. Beautiful hardwood floors, gorgeous built-ins in the living room and dining room, a kitchen pantry, a pretty backyard with a hammock (!). We applied immediately, and found out last night that it will be ours!
* * *
As a somewhat related aside, we have agreed to help our current landlords with their search for new tenants. If you know of anyone looking to rent a lovely apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, email me at fresh.basil.blog AT gmail.com. I'd be happy to send along the details and a few photos!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Peter tried to convince me last night that we should install our air conditioner in anticipation of the 95 degree days heading our way later this week. He'll probably win this one (even though I hate air conditioning so).
Here are a few no cook (or almost no cook!) meals I've bookmarked lately:
- Asian noodle salad with shrimp
- Grilled chicken salad with feta, fresh corn and blueberries
- Quinoa with Currants, Dill, and Zucchini
- Roast beef summer rolls
- Smoked trout and cucumber salad
- Spicy tuna bowl
I'm always on the look out for ideas that fall outside of sandwich territory -- those don't really feel like dinner to me. What do you make when the thought of turning on your oven is too much to bear?
Friday, June 3, 2011
A few weeks ago, I ordered tickets to Anything Goes through HipTix, a very cool site designed to make Broadway shows more affordable for the under-35 set. They came to $22 each -- pretty good deal!
We went last night and it was so fantastic! On the way out I told Peter I need tap dancing lessons. Also, more super-twirly dresses and hot rollers. I think we both developed a bit of a crush on Sutton Foster. She's kind of awkwardly awesome to watch (that probably makes no sense -- you should just go and see if you can resist her charm!).
I'm going to miss this amazing access to Broadway shows so much when we leave. It's provides an excellent reason to return often, though.
P.S. I joined Twitter this week so that I could finally start Pinterest. I've been trying both out this week to see if I like them and I'm having so much fun! Are you on either? Let's be friends!
P.S. I joined Twitter this week so that I could finally start Pinterest. I've been trying both out this week to see if I like them and I'm having so much fun! Are you on either? Let's be friends!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
This was a whirlwind weekend, taking us from Philadelphia to Delaware to DC and back again to NYC! Oh my. On the way down to DC on Saturday, we stopped at The Wellwood in Charleston, Maryland for a giant basket of crabs. They set up a sheet of kraft paper on our table and gave us tiny knives and wooden mallets. Then we got to smash those crabs! I'd never done it before, and it was so fun. I'm sure there are lots of great places to visit for crabs in this part of Maryland, but the Wellwood was excellent!
On Monday, we went to the Battery Park movie theater and got to hang out in lovely air conditioning for the afternoon. By the time we came out, the weather was cooler and a little breezy. We took a walk all through Battery Park City. In our four years here, I don't think we ever visited this part of the city. It was so nice to see the sail boats in the water and pretty gardens along the path. I almost forgot how mad I was at NYC earlier that day when I hauled my laundry down the street and then discovered I was one quarter short and had to go back home for more change. Almost.