Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of...

Just back from a very happy few days in NYC. I was in Connecticut for the week for work, but had a few days on either end in NYC. What a treat. Aside from the mobs of tourists clamoring for glimpses of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and the windows at Saks and Barney's, the city was perfectly pleasant (as long as the touristy areas were avoided-- which I did with the exception of a tactical error which took me right through the middle of Rock Center just before the start of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular matinée. Rookie mistake). But man, do I miss that City. I was lucky to get to spend quality time with my dear Lynn and Cam-- how lucky I am to have been "adopted" by them so many years ago when I lived there and to still have a close friendship with them today. Plus my Daves were visiting with lots of their friends but I was able to see them and finally meet my beautiful goddaughter Sophie Ladurée. And even better?? Montu and Casey came in for the weekend with their gorgeous littles Kieran and Maya. We had such fun hanging out, and I loved spending time with their delightful kiddos. I told MRN that he now has competition-- my new boyfriend Kieran is giving him a run for his money.

I hung out with my dearest of dears, Jes, who is kicking some serious bootie on Broadway (sort of literally). I seriously love this girl, and am so proud of her. We don't see each other often and talk even less often, but when we do it's like no time has passed and we just pick up where we left off. She took me backstage of her show "Warhorse" and I got to see her dressing room. And of course I had to take a photo. Yes, I'm so that girl. But I'm thrilled for her and had to document the moment!

Also spent time with my wonderful Mary, who's honesty and generosity never fail to amaze me. She effectively kicked me back into reality and also introduced me to an incredible facial product line that she swears by (it had me at dozens of masks-- my favorite facial product). She knows all the tricks.

I had a few nostalgic moments, as I am apt to have when visiting my favorite City. Yes, even after all these years, it's the City I love most, and the one that I'll always regret leaving (though, I do have pangs of nostalgia for Chicago too-- especially my wonderful neighborhood and the convenience of city living). The first was sitting in the bar lounge at the W Hotel in Union Square in the late afternoon with Montu, Casey, Lynn, the Daves and all the kids. I was on the floor playing with all the kiddos while the grown ups sipped sparkling water or champagne and was struck with the oddness of it all-- 10 years earlier we would have been there late night, enjoying a night out. It was surreal. Next came Christmas Carols at Brick Church, where they shut down a portion of Park avenue and everyone comes out to sing and to see the lighting of Christmas trees that line Park Avenue from 45th-95th streets. That brought back lots of memories of friends and adopted family, and a new one of holding my goddaughter and singing in her ear. The final was having a late dinner at Brother Jimmy's with Mary. Brother Jimmy's was the site of many a gathering back in my early 20s... birthday parties, graduations, nights out... lots of celebrations and good memories with good friends forged there. At one point Mary had gone to the restroom and I was distracted by a table filled with 20-somethings next to us... they were very jolly (drunk) and excited (talking at the same time) and singing. I got a pang of nostalgia, thinking, "that used to be us." It made me miss those days and my old friends. (Oh-- but they have an expanded menu that includes a buffalo chicken chopped salad... can we say to die for??)

Of course, life goes on and even though you have fond memories of the past, you realize that the present is just as good, if not better. Even still, sometimes I wish I could go back to those good times and relish them a little more thoroughly... time moves too swiftly for my liking, and I miss the girl I was then, especially because I feel like I've just begun to get to know her.

P.S. Shake Shack. If you haven't been, you must go. I can't believe I'm going to say it, but I think it's better than In and Out. Admittedly I had a cold and couldn't really taste much... but the part I did taste... man. It was worth the 20 minute line. Man, and if New Yorkers are queuing for food? It must be freaking good.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brought to my senses

So, I am a little obsessed with Sting. Have been since I was about 16, and can't see that ending anytime soon. Not obsessed in the stalker kind of way, but in the way that I think he's a musical genius; a brilliant song writer, lyricist and musician; in the way that I'd never actually want to meet him for fear the bubble could burst and my hero worship eradicated. My dad met him once-- he (my dad) was playing at a wedding, and Sting was a guest (it happened to be Don Henley's wedding; yeah-- it took a bit of coercing to get that story out of my dad because 1) he doesn't really know who anyone famous is and 2) he's not really bothered when he is around famous people--unless they are his heroes, which are decidedly not of the pop/rock genre). In any case, he was impressed by Sting because he said he pulled up a chair right in front of the band and was totally grooving with them, and extremely personable. It's probably about as close as I'll ever get to meeting him, and a good story at that. Why ruin it?

I have tickets to see his "Back to Bass" tour in Manchester next March-- 8th row floor! Whoop-whoop! I've gotten to see him several times in concert, including the sold-out Police Reunion World Tour which ended in Hawaii, and my wonderful sister and brother-in-law went with me (also amazing seats-- 4th row, floor thanks to my Aunty Julie!). Ahhhh! Once in a lifetime experience, indeed!

This is (dare I say?) my favorite Sting song; and perhaps one of the most overlooked. It's from Mercury Falling, which wasn't as huge a success as other albums (Ten Summoners Tales is hard to beat), but it has one of his most beautiful songs: Brought to my Senses.

Alone with my thoughts this evening
I walked on the banks of Tyne
I wondered how I could win you
Or if I could make you mine
Or if I could make you mine

The wind it was so insistent
With tales of a stormy south
But when I spied two birds in a sycamore tree
There came a dryness in my mouth
Came a dryness in my mouth

For then without rhyme or reason
The two birds did rise up to fly
And where the two birds were flying
I swear I saw you and I
I swear I saw you and I

I walked out this morning
It was like a veil had been removed from before my eyes
For the first time I saw the work of heaven
In the line where the hills had been married to the sky
And all around me
Every blade of singing grass
Was calling out your name
And that our love would always last
And inside every turning leaf
Is the pattern of an older tree
The shape of our future
The shape of all our history
And out of the confusion
Where the river meets the sea
Came things I'd never seen
Things I'd never seen

I was brought to my senses
I was blind but now that I can see
Every signpost in nature
Said you belong to me

I know it's true
It's written in a sky as blue
As blue as your eyes
As blue as your eyes
If nature's red in tooth and claw
Like winter's freeze and summer's thaw
The wounds she gave me
Were the wounds that would heal me
And we'd be like the moon and sun
And when our courtly dance had run
Its course across the sky
Then together we would lie
And out of the confusion
Where the river meets the sea
Something new would arrive
Something better would arrive

I was brought to my senses
I was blind but now that I can see
Every signpost in nature
Said you belong to me
I was brought to my senses
I was blind but now that I can see
Every signpost in nature
Said you belong to me...

Thursday, November 24, 2011


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Another Thanksgiving away from the fam. And seeing as I'm more homesick than usual this year, I'm especially missing them today. Fall is my favorite season... the crisp weather and changing leaves dotted by celebrations (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas), makes it even better. Alas, my adopted English home does not celebrate Thanksgiving (or Halloween for that matter-- at least not with the same gusto as the Americans), so it's just a regular Thursday, which makes it all a little sad.

That being said, I have lots to be thankful for this year. A wonderful family who are healthy and happy; an amazing husband who is one of the kindest and most generous people I know; incredible friends who are the family that I choose; and a comfortable life, which is a very good thing in a bad and uncertain economy. Oh-- and that I picked up some canned pumpkin at Whole Foods in London last weekend. I just might make two pumpkin pies.

Even though it's not a holiday here, I've taken today and tomorrow off as a nod to my cultural roots. My wonderful English family is hosting Thanksgiving dinner for me at their house on Saturday, so I'm cooking along with everyone in the U.S. today to get ready for the big (delayed) day. Soup and pie crust today; Pies, stuffing and cauliflower gratin tomorrow; Then all the other trimmings on Saturday. My lovely brother-in-law has volunteered to make the turkey. Whoop-whoop! Here's what's on my Thanksgiving menu... what's on yours?

Curried butternut squash and apple soup

Main course
Cornbread and sausage stuffing
Maple sweet potato puree
Mashed potatoes
String beans sauteed with shallots and garlic
Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon
Cauliflower gratin
Green salad
Cranberry orange relish

Pumpkin pie
Maple pecan pie
Caramel apple pie

Welcome to the world baby Isaac!

My very first nephew was born on the 18-November. A healthy 6 lbs 8 oz, he is the delight of the family! He is named for my Poppy, his great grandfather. He even has my grandpa's beautiful hands. What a lucky little one to be born into such a loving family-- he will be adored! And how lucky are we to have our newest addition! Congrats to my sister, K, husband J and my adorable niece Charlotte!
Baby Isaac
Proud sister, Charlotte
Helping out
Sibling love

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Monday, November 07, 2011

Birthday Boots

Boots are becoming somewhat of a birthday tradition, well, as a gift to myself that is. It's the third year running that boots have been one of my favorite gifts. Granted, last year they were gifted by the sweet MRN, who had been hearing me hint about wellies for several years. Alas, they were the wrong size, and I had changed my mind about the color (pink) and wanted purple. Plus, I decided to upgrade them to a fancy neoprene-lined riding version... which meant more $$ (or ££ if you're being really technical). So, in some ways, it was still a present I bought for myself.

This year was no different-- and with knee-high boots getting even fancier with the trend of wearing them over skinny jeans, I had lots of styles to choose from. But when I saw these from Bertie, how could I resist? I mean, all those wonderful buttons (and we all know my affinity for buttons). Thankfully, they're only decorative, and there are zips on the sides. Yes, yes-- purely decorative and not at all functional (unless you count style as functional... which, come to think of it, I do). But lovely all the same. As per usual, clothing is now being planned around these babies. Yes, the exciting life that I have.

On a related note, what a beautiful sunshine-y day my birthday was!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Green lentils salad
I am not a fan of left-overs (left-handers however, big fan). I try to master the art of cooking exact serving sizes so not to have to wrestle with re-heating and re-eating the same food a few nights later (with the exception of soups and stews... I'm okay with that). However, being the imperfect perfectionist I am, undoubtedly there is always a left-over to deal with. In this case: lentils.

You may remember my last battle with lentils, and having to hide them in MRN's lunches to try to get rid of all the left-overs. This time I cut down the serving size and changed up the recipe (basically-- guessed on amount and made something up). It ended up being a much bigger hit (though, considering it wasn't a hit at all the first time, the only way for it to go was up. But I'm nothing if not persistent. It may be because I added bacon... but hey-ho; anything to get some veggies on the plate).

Alas, even with the doctoring, we still had left-overs (that I knew I would have to eat; because while I won a battle with the beans, I knew not to push my luck by hiding it in MRN's food). So I decided to add cold lentils to a salad. I'm a big lunch-time salad fan. But I don't love making them at home. It's one of the (many) things I miss from the US-- all those lovely entree-sized salads. YUM. I have to admit, though-- this home salad was pretty good and hearty. I mean, it's not a Cheesecake Factory chopped salad (I love me a chopped salad), but it was a fair substitute. What I've found with home salads is it's all about the dressing-- and I'm not talking from the bottle; I'm talking the easiest home-made salad dressing in the world, adapted from my grandmother's soy-vinaigrette concoction that she's been making since I can remember. There's many varieties of this recipe (you can make it thicker and creamier by increasing the lemon to olive oil ratio to mustard; or add some minced garlic for a extra kick), but the real benefit is that you simply can't mess it up. It's a real, grab what you have in the fridge, whisk it up and voila yummy dressing.

For the lentils:
  • 1/2-c Green puy lentils
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3/4-c Chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Diced, crispy bacon (optional)
Place lentils in bowl and cover with boiling water; Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While lentils are soaking, heat olive oil in pan on medium-high, add onions and cook 5-7 minutes until start to get translucent. Add carrots, spices and cook about 10-minutes, until carrots are soft. Toss in garlic and cook for 2 minutes (until fragrant). Stir in lentils and chicken broth and reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. If you're using bacon, dice and fry, stir into finished lentils. Great with pork or salmon, or (as I've used it), on salads!

Easy homemade salad dressing:
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or water if you don't have lemon)
  • Whisk together and toss with salad

If you want to get fancy:
Add a heaping teaspoon of dijon mustard (regular or whole-grain; whatever floats your boat), 1 clove garlic, minced, and some fresh ground pepper to the dressing. The mustard will make the dressing thicker, and oh so yummy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MB had a little lamb

Yeah, I know. There's all kinds of wrong with that title. Alas, I'm feeling a bit uninspired (and who am I kidding? For a marketing person, I've always been completely useless at product names and titles). But having just watched the series premier (thanks Project Free TV) of "Once Upon a Time" starring Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin, I have fairy tales and nursery rhymes on the brain (verdict: promising. Definitely enough of a hook to keep me watching next week).

All that to say, I finally started cooking again. Between travel (play and work), colds (mine and MRN's) and general malaise, I haven't been up to experimenting in my kitchen (though I did make a big dinner at MRN's brother's a few weeks ago-- yes, I've taken my show on the road). I got back in the mood this weekend when looking for inspiration (on Pinterest-- where else?) for Christmas food gift ideas and came across this lovely looking baked potato. I am not usually a big fan of baked potatoes. Too much, well, potato I guess. Don't get me wrong-- I love them mashed, roasted and even boiled (well, new potatoes, anyway). The more butter, garlic and seasoning, the better. But give me a baked potato? I'll always pass. However, the aesthetics of this thinly sliced baked potato seemed too much to pass up. I mean, come on! How pretty is this thing? So to the market I went, and I decided to pair it with herb-crusted lamb chops (yes, yes, I've posted this recipe before, but when it's good, it's good). Plus, this post is really more about the potato (well, almost).

Am I allowed to say, YUM to my own food?? The potato really turned out to be a combination roasted and baked, with the outside nice and crispy and inside mushy. You cut the potato almost all the way through (trick is to lay a spoon lengthwise along the outside of the potato so when you slice it, it stops your knife from cutting all the way through) and then "fan" the slices to better soak up the melted butter and olive oil mixture that you pour on top, and to capture the minced garlic, salt and pepper I decided to add. See, while I saw the pic on Pinterest, I actually forgot to "pin" it-- so I had to improvise with the recipe. And I was out of regular dijon mustard (for the lamb), so used wholegrain dijon, and I think it turned out even better... I'll be substituting that in the future. I also still have herbs in the garden so was able to add fresh mint, rosemary, flat leaf parsley and regular thyme to by store-bought fresh lemon thyme. The addition of mint was delightful. But really, you can use any combination of fresh  herbs you have on hand-- I usually end up with parsley and thyme because that's what's most prevalent in my fridge.

I'll definitely be trying this potato again... perhaps with more seasoning and, well, butter. Because as Julia Child always said, you can never have enough butter...

Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops with Garlic Baked Potatoes
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma's "Wine and Food" cookbook)
To get the food on the table together and hot, I put potatoes in first for about 30 minutes and then popped in the lamb for the last 15 minutes. In addition to perfectly a perfectly timed entree, your oven is also piping hot for a perfectly roasted lamb chop.
  • Preheat oven to 450 F
For the potatoes:
  • 2 med potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed (you can peel them, but I love that crispy skin)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped, for serving
  • Melt butter and olive oil in a sauce pan
  • Thinly slice potatoes almost all the way through (see spoon trick above), gently "fanning" out the slices
  • Place potatoes in a baking dish
  • Pour olive oil and butter mixture over potatoes, making sure to coat all the slices
  • Sprinkle garlic in between the slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Place in oven for 45 minutes (checking at about 30 to make sure that they're not burning)
  • Remove from oven and cover until serving
  • Sprinkle parsley over potatoes 
  • Optional: sprinkle cheese on the potatoes 5 minutes before removing them from the oven; bacon would be good too! Serve with sour cream, chives and all the trimmings, if you so desire!
For the lamb*:
  • Approx 3 lamb chops per person (depending on the size, but I usually go with that)
  • 1/2 c minced fresh herbs (such as flat leaf parsley, thyme, mint, rosemary, marjoram)
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain dijon mustard (or regular if more readily available)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
*This recipe is supposed to be enough for 12 chops-- but I usually use the entire mixture on just 6; So if you have more chops, you may want to double the recipe so you can get a good amount of the herb mixture on both sides of the chops.

  • Season both sides of the lamb chops with salt and pepper
  • Stir together herbs, mustard, olive oil and garlic
  • Spread mixture on both sides of the chops
  • Place an oiled flat rack in a large roasting pan lined with aluminum foil (not essential but makes clean up that much easier)
  • Arrange the chops on the rack and roast until an meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chop (away from the bone) registers 135 F for medium (about 15-17 minutes; In my fan assisted oven, 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time)
  • Remove from oven, lightly tent chops with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes
  • Serve immediately

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teenage angst at its best

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who's Who?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Budapest-ing it up

Gresham Palace from the Funicular
Back from a fantastic trip with the Daves to the beautiful city of Budapest. It was really more of the Dempster and Mikie show since Gullino was otherwise occupied-- while we missed him, I did love my quality time with Dempster which consisted much more of wining and dining and heart-to-hearts late into the night than sight-seeing (though we did see lots of sights). My kind of vacation! We had an almost mishap in the beginning due to the Daves' plane being delayed from the outset-- they almost missed the connection (and meeting up with me!) in Amsterdam! I was told by the gate agent that they'd already been taken off the flight-- there was only 20 minutes between connections and they had to get from terminal F to terminal D, plus through customs. If you've ever been to Schipol Airport, you'll know that that is an impossible feat. I had waited in the boarding area until they all but shoved me onto the jetway-- and then hung back, hoping upon hope that they would make it. I kept glancing back and was the only one on the jetway when, TA-DA!!! Dave Gullino comes running around the corner, closely followed by Dempster! I was SO EXCITED I yelped and jumped up and down with my arms in the air. Leave it to the Daves! They all-out SPRINTED and made it to the gate and begged the agents to let them on the plane. WHOO-HOOO! Sweating bullets and completely out of breath, but they made it-- which made for an especially exciting start to our trip. (And my being ever prepared, was able to ply them with water, face towelettes, verbena hand wipes and caramel waffles-- an Amsterdam specialty that I picked up for them at one of the great food shops in Schipol, where you can also buy huge wedges of cheese and wooden shoes. I may not have been a Girl Scout, but always wanted to be!)

We were absolutely thrilled with the GORGEOUS summer weather-- low 80s, cloudless and bright-blue skies. So much sun that it actually hurt my eyes (yes-- pathetic; but so goes the woes of northern English-living). We stayed in an apartment which was terrifically inexpensive but clean, modern and best of all, had a balcony. It was a great way to settle into the city, do some cooking (well, more of putting together pre-dinner appetizers) and hang out but still have our own space.

We ate our way around the lovely city, searching for the best goulash and dumplings (which is really more like spaetzl). The BEST was found at the Budapest Central Market at the end of the Vaci Uta (the shopping street). The market is a sight to see-- with food stalls on the ground floor and lots of tourist kitsch on the second. But there are great food stands upstairs where you can sample more authentic local fare (my recommendation: avoid the restaurants up by Buda Castle. Expensive and not very good).

The BEST meal however, was in fact at an Italian restaurant along the pedestrian walk leading up to St. Stephens called... I have absolutely no idea. It was something really simple like "The Italian Restaurant." Really. But despite not remembering the name, the food was unforgettable. Being so close to Italy certainly doesn't hurt, and this modern Italian restaurant with amazing decor, great service (which is few and far between in Budapest) and delicious food (not to mention an expansive cocktail list) makes this a must-go place (especially if you're a foodie). Okay, I may have been tainted by all that heavy goulash, but I did enjoy it. Reservations are recommended (especially if you want a table outside), though we were able to walk in (though it was on the late-side). To find it, walk down the pedestrian street from the front steps of St Stephens a few blocks, and it's on the corner on the left hand side.

Another Hungarian treat is Plinka, which is a fruit-infused liquor that is a Hungarian specialty. Plum is the traditional drink though they also have sour cherry (it tastes like cough medicine) and pear. It is a little like drinking brake fluid (or what I can imagine drinking break fluid would be like). But it's worth a try just for the experience (and they serve it in little shot glasses that should be sipped so it's not like you're drinking a pint-full).

Loved, loved, loved seeing two of my favorite people and continuing our adventures around Europe. Next year we're talking Spain. Ole!

We made it!!

Home Sweet Home

Budapest Central Market

PAPRIKA! (and fresh produce- yum!)

Goulash and dumplings

Goulash, brats, cabbage and beer

St. Stephens Cathedral

St. Stephen

Interior dome of St. Stephens
FUNicular FUN (to Buda Castle)

Gresham Palace from the funicular

Parliament from Castle Hill

Matthias Church at Buda Castle

Buda Castle

Fishermen's Bastion at Castle Hill

Vivaldi at St. Michael's on Vaci Uta

Bye-bye Budapest!

See you at Christmas!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My how you've grown

When I went to college, I had these:

LL Bean Duck Boots

Now, there are these:

Steve Madden Mallard Boots

I still prefer the original ducks. What about you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Shoe-a-palooza

little bit of thor?


modern oxford

we know how much i love buttons


love me a wedge rainboot

peacock swoop

argyle laces? awww-yeah

you had me at wooden wedge
All available at anthropologie (as if you had any doubt).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


...about the mold problem in our bathroom. So much so that I couldn't bring it upon myself to take a before photo. Okay, so it's not that terrible... but gross enough that it has to be dealt with. Stat. Because, of course, house guest number 2 is due to arrive in December.

So this weekend was spent cleaning the walls (thankfully the worst of the issue is isolated to one area near the ceiling in the bathroom) with some gross cleanser called Zoflora. Quite a challenge considering our ceilings are 10+ feet and I am not the most proficient on a ladder (ummm... gigantic klutz, let us not forget). Unfortunately there's patches of mold all along the wall just adjacent to the ceiling. So it's been quite interesting trying to sort that out. Then came the great "seal" with what I'm sure is toxic paint that is oil based and has a slight sheen, meaning impossible to clean brushes. And finally, the "mouldtec"- and condensation-resistant bathroom paint (conveniently available in the same color as the rest of our house: Natural Hessian). I've only managed to "cut in" on all of the edging and corners around the room (so, all the mold-affected areas). This weekend will be a second coat on all the edging and then a full coat on the walls. Man, do I hate painting. But not as much as mold. Hopefully this will solve the problem... but living in the dampest of all damp places, I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

"Over the great bridge, with sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world." F. Scott Fitzgerald

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years. It seems like a lifetime ago...I guess in a lot of ways, it really was. I've moved twice (first half-way across the country and then to a whole new country). But no matter where I am living or what I am doing, every year when this day comes around, I always stop and remember.

I imagine it's the same for people who were living during the Pearl Harbor attacks. The fact that there could be a terrorist attack, on American soil, is unthinkable. We're lucky, though-- no foreign war has been fought on American soil since the Mexican American War (though that was only because Texas became a state during the War); and we are privileged to live in a place where there isn't fear of daily bombings or genocide or constant threat of terrorist attacks. Well, for the most part at least.

I've written about that day before; it's still not one that I like to dwell on and I still can't really watch the coverage or the specials or the memorials. Even ten years later it's too raw. So instead I thought I'd touch on the days after the attack-- how the city slowed down; How everyone banded together. It was remarkable, really. In a city where you keep mostly to yourself, you don't make eye contact, and you certainly don't talk to strangers, it was the complete opposite. People were kind to one another-- exchanging smiles, words of condolence or lending a helping hand. The donations were overwhelming-- money, food, clothes, offers of housing, cell phones. I, with a co-worker, delivered boxes and boxes of food and clothes to a salvation army center downtown where hundreds of volunteers were cooking meals for the emergency workers assembled at "Ground Zero" and providing a place to rest. And the volunteers-- they came in droves. So many volunteers that they had to turn us away. From around the country-- from around the world. It was amazing, really, to see how quickly everything mobilized. But it was the City's emergency services first and foremost that were incredible. I've never seen a force that big (40,000 police officers alone) assemble so effortlessly and in such a coordinated way. I think as laymen, we all knew it wouldn't last... that as the weeks went on, we'd eventually get caught back up in the hustle and bustle that is NYC. But for that brief time we were united... and for those there that day-- and I think every American who lived through that day, deep down, we always will be.

I wrote this passage five years ago, and I feel very much the same today. New York is something that gets into your blood and takes over your consciousness. If you're lucky enough to have lived there, no matter where you go or what you do, it will always be yours.
People think I'm crazy because I love NYC so much... "Why would you want to live there?" they ask. "It's so expensive, dirty... people are so mean." The reality? I can't believe that I ever left. It's the only place that I've ever felt was mine; a place where I belong; a place that I almost feel guilty for leaving. But in my heart, I know that I'll go back. Despite its faults, expense, general craziness, NYC is a place where so many people, of varied backgrounds, sensibilities, and, well, homes, come together to find a common ground; a place where all of these people who strive to be, and accomplish being, "individuals" can still come together and rejoice in being a single thing: A New Yorker.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting my Buda on

Buda Castle

I'm off to Budapest in a few weeks to meet The Daves. MRN is opting out of the hols (as they say in England) because he's not into the city vacations (and he thinks that I'll have more fun without him... not true!!). All the same, it's my first time in Eastern Europe (well, I've been to Austria, but Salzburg which is decidedly west...), and I'm super excited. I've been listening to Learn Hungarian! podcasts (I have absolutely no chance of speaking Hungarian despite my daily lessons, but it's fun to try) to prepare for the trip, and reading up on the history of the fair city (I like to know my history before traveling). Mostly I'm excited about the seeing the beautiful Neo-Gothic architecture and to walk along the Danube (on both the Buda and the Pest sides). And of course visit a medicinal bath (not for the swimming part because I'm super not into being in a bathing suit in public, nor am I a big fan of public pools). But I've been told that it's what you do, so I'm going to suck it up and give it a go-- because I'm not anything if not someone who will try anything at least once (well, so far...).

The fabulous thing? It's a quick 2 hour flight (as opposed to the poor Daves' nearly 15...). I'm meeting them in Amsterdam and we'll fly together to Budapest. Seriously-- I need to be taking better advantage of living in Europe.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

You can never have enough shoes...

...right? Don't tell the girl who refinished a china cabinet for her shoes if you think otherwise. Of course I'll have to rearrange to accommodate my latest treasure: my first acquisition of a pair of Chie Miharas. *Sigh.* Of course, they're waaay too expensive for my wallet, but these beauties I found on eBay-- in my size (39.5!! impossible to find!! It was fate!!-- so said the self-justifying devil on my shoulder), for £75- almost 1/4 of the retail price. Soft, supple leather, a sweet scallop detail on the toe, retro with a disco twist... how could I possibly resist?? Not to mention (well, I did mention in my previous Chie post), they're super comfortable given the brand's affinity for comfort without sacrificing style. You can bet I'll be trolling eBay for more deals... and maybe a second china cabinet... (kidding... just kidding).

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

If you've ever had a broken heart...

Monday, September 05, 2011


One of my FAVORITE movies. I actually own it on DVD... and watch it when it's on TV (which was quite recently in fact). Released in 1985, it was Matthew Broderick's 3rd feature film (followed War Games); Michelle Pfeiffer's 7th (how she went from Grease 2 to this role, we'll never know...); and Rutger Hauer's, well-- he had far more under his belt. And although many predating Ladyhawke were Dutch, let's face it folks, he was probably the big star of this film.

Even though the story is still a great one (come on-- star-crossed lovers, cursed and destined to live their lives together, but never as humans at the same time? Action, adventure, comedy and heart-crushing love story? Tale as old as time!), the music-- oh, the music-- is SO, SO BAD. Seriously... 70s porn music is never a good idea for a non-porn movie (not that I have first hand experience with porn music, but all the same, the synthesized goodness that floods all of the action (and otherwise) scenes of this movie really takes away from it).

My wish? That someone would not remake the movie, but simply re-score it. How freaking awesome would that be? Any movie music gurus out there willing to take on the challenge?? PLEEEAAASSSE??? Maybe for a 30 year anniversary party? Who's with me??

Oh, Matthew and your comedic genius

Navarre and Ladyhawke

The beautiful Isabeau telling the evil bishop to shove it

The three stars and the drunken priest