Thursday, September 18, 2014

One year ago

Andrew and I like playing this game. One year ago, we weren't even engaged. We were each living in our own one-bedroom apartments. The single lifestyle.

One year ago, our Brooklyn pad was in the middle of renovations. We were packing up and paring down, but our new home was nowhere near ready for us.
One year ago, we weren't married, but the truth is, we were pregnant. I miscarried very early. It's not a pleasant memory, but it's important not to forget. Our happiness throughout 2014 is that much sweeter and more exciting because of all we've been through to get here, including the early bumps in our relationship, the long, arduous buying process, the wild renovations and even sad occasions like the miscarriage. The truth is, we are so lucky to be where we are to have what we have, and that's something to remember and acknowledge every day. xo

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Vegan Monday

Oy. If only we could control time like a remote controlled movie. The days and weeks are ticking by, which, with a three-week-old backache, is a good thing. But I’ve never been one to wish time away. It’s so precious. There is so much to do and see, in life in general, never mind when your days of freedom are finite. Our baby girl will be here in less than four weeks. Eek!

But it’s been an exciting time. I had my baby shower last weekend, which was a lovely day of lounging and laughing with a great group of girlfriends. My new sister-in-law generously hosted and went all out, creating a French-inspired menu of tartines, vichyssoise, quiche, macarons, éclairs, chocolate ganache cake, boatloads of stinky French cheeses, and much, much more. It was beyond.

 And my dad came down this past weekend to help us set up a nursery—though I use the term lightly. We moved my desk out of the second bedroom, but kept the sleeper sofa in there along with setting up a new crib and dresser/changing table. I have to say, it looks great (photos to come soon).

And in between those weekends, I’ve been working of course, but also washing all our girls’ clothes. We got some adorable outfits as gifts  (I think my mom started shopping as soon as I hit the second trimester. Maybe before.) and lots of awesome hand-me-downs. It’s actually pretty incredible how much stuff we have and, I have to say, it was fun putting all those mini-mini-sized socks and onesies away. I can’t believe I’m going to have a living, breathing daughter who will wear those things in mere weeks.

So all is going well with the baby. We are slowly getting more prepared. We are “test-driving” names. We are both excited and in disbelief. We have been so lucky and hopefully everything will continue to go well. I will be very happy to not have a backache anymore and to get my ankles back. Milo will be happy to have a lap back.

In the meantime, life marches forward. It’s feeling autumnal in New York. Work is busy. There is shopping and preparing to do. We cram in good meals when we can and my sweet tooth has not abated. Life is good!

Coffee with almond milk
Green juice: kale, apple, celery, lemon juice and frozen banana
Toasted cranberry pecan bread

Bagel with almond butter, banana and honey
Peanut butter smoothie

My husband’s (yep, still getting a kick out of saying that) kickass tomato soup

Hoping you’re all well, happy, finding adventure in life!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Vegan Tuesday

I didn’t do Vegan Monday yesterday. It was Labor Day and we were in Pennsylvania and every time I’m not at home, in my routine, I forget all about it. By 9 a.m., I had already had cream in my coffee, homemade yogurt, plus all the dairy in my delectable muffin and scone. (I’m loving this “eating for two” business.)

But that’s what happens when you stay at a nice country inn that has a great restaurant and bakery. You linger over the morning paper with a beautiful breakfast.

You linger on the porch with a beautiful man.

You linger in the fields under beautiful sunshine.

It was a beautiful weekend. And today, it was back to a summery hot reality in the city. So I treated Tuesday like Monday and ate more piously.

Coffee with almond milk
Overnight oats with blueberries
Mixed nuts

“Deep dish pie” from Lifethyme – a layered concoction of veg and quinoa. Delicious
More nuts

Peanut butter and jelly

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer's setting sun

Summer always seems to pass to fast. Until you look back and realize all the beautiful little moments you've had.
Like traipses through the park.

Rooftop drinks and concerts in the park.

Baseball! The minor leagues and the real deal.

Lobster rolls and DQ in Connecticut.

Daydreaming in bed.

Oh yeah, getting married and going on your honeymoon.

So it's Labor Day weekend. Seize summer's last days! Let loose! Act like a kid! Have fun! xo

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Holy season of good reading (and cooking)

Have you heard about the crop of delicious cookbooks coming out this fall? No? There are a few in this month’s Bon Appetit, but Eater really did it up, selecting a whopping 43 titles, divided into geographic regions. Brilliant. At the top of my list: Dominique Ansel, Prune, Baked, Fat Radish and a new one from Ina Garten – hooray!

The sad reality is I haven't fallen in love with any novels as of late. I just finished The Goldfinch, which came after Delicious!, and Gone Girl. All entertaining, but not as earth shattering as anticipated (damn anticipation). My most exciting books, in fact, have been non-fiction.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation – My idol, Michael Pollan’s, treatise to making that final connection of sourcing and eating food through… cooking.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time – An essential examination of having a balanced, fulfilling life in America’s always-on, 50-plus-workhours-a-week culture by Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte. Love.

Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness – I thought this was going to be more empowering, an ode to women who have created really cool, fulfilling lives that don’t include having babies, but it’s more of a lament. Still, Melanie Notkin’s book makes for fascinating reading, diving into everything from the contemporary New York dating scene (god help us) to the new generation of women who are freezing eggs (planning for it in their 20s, no less).

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage – A foodoir about Molly Wizenberg and her husband opening their first restaurant together.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t StopTalking – Susan Cain’s thoroughly cool look at being an introvert in relationships, the workplace and life.

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves – Beautiful, moving, compelling – it’s a simple book about life’s big themes by psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz. I read it twice in a row.

And speaking of books, we have a winner of the Gag giveaway! There were 20 wonderful, thoughtful responses to Melissa’s question: What activity is the most transporting for you and/or makes you lose track of time?

But we liked this lush, sensory (not to mention humble) response from Diane:
Oil painting is the most transporting for me. Smelling the paint, mixing the colors, and applying the paint on the canvas. After finishing, wondering, did I just create this wonderful painting?

Congrats, Diane! For anyone who missed the giveaway, you'll definitely want to check out this incredible novella and read about her Seymour Projects.

And happy reading and cooking to all!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New York or Paris?

Whichever city you find yourself in this month...
may it be filled with sunshine, chilled wine, good friends and that not-a-care-in-the-world feeling.
Bon vacances!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gag: the must-read Parisian love story of the summer—a giveaway

I like to consider myself a cheerleader for my friends: rooting for their success, impressed by their achievements, by their sides to lend an ear and toast their efforts. But some friends have such extraordinary talent, it boggles my mind. 

Melissa Unger, Mel, was my soul sister from Day 1 in Paris. She’s the friendliest, brightest, most outgoing person you’ll ever meet—one of those people who makes you feel at ease, talking the day or night away, all the while, passersby stopping to say hello because she’s friends with seemingly everyone in the neighborhood. She’s that person: remarkably smart, witty, thoughtful, curious, gracious, with a keen sense of smile and a wicked laugh.

Turns out, she’s a kickass writer, too. One day when I was still living in Paris, she shared the manuscript for a novella she had written, and it blew me away. I’ve always been in awe of fiction-writers: Where do their stories come from? How do they let go of their minds and trust their instincts to create these characters that draw us in? With Gag, Melissa did just that. She created this world that felt so real and alive. It was surreal but poignant, charming but crazy—I loved it from start to finish.

This summer, Gag was finally published. I read it again, I still love it, and I want to share it with someone. To receive a copy of this offbeat love story, a mind trip set in Paris, answer this question in the comments box before Friday, August 22:

What activity is the most transporting for you and/or makes you loose track of time?

In the meantime, learn more about Melissa’s mission with Seymour Projects, the organization she founded to help individuals cultivate and express their own creativity and authentic voice and get to know her a little bit here…

What inspired you to write Gag?

Well, it’s kind of a wild story. I had never written a book before but in 2004, while on a walk around Paris, soon after I had arrived in town, a single sentence popped into my head: Peter never ate. Insistent, it kept coming back again and again; in an effort to dissipate it, I put it to paper.

The three words called out to me from the page. The short sentence was like some sort of motor, of magnet, I touched my pen back to the paper and let it lead me over the course of a few months, sentence by sentence until many pages had been written. I didn’t have a plot or outline, characters sketched or any idea at all what I was going to write about. I would just get myself to a quiet place, read the last paragraph I had written and then just pick up where I had left off and keep writing until it felt natural to stop; sometimes it was an hour, sometimes it was 8 hours. 

It was a strange, invigorating, and somewhat frightening experience. It was as if my conscious had brain clicked off and something else clicked on. I tried to explain the sensation to a friend, and the closest I came to expressing it correctly was by saying that it felt like I was driving in a car on a dark road with no idea where I was or where I was going, but I had the headlights on and could just see enough to stay on the road. I would look ahead into the little illuminated patch of ground and keep inching forward. My sense of time was completely altered when I was writing, a whole day could go by in what felt like an hour. Words gushed out of me like an open faucet. I eventually realized that I had experienced the elusive ‘flow’; that I now believe is an innate source of creativity that exists in us all.

Both main characters have specific reasons for moving to Paris. What about you - what brought you to the City of Light? 

I was 36, recently single, living in New York City and leading a perfectly normal and generally happy life. And yet, something deep inside me kept flashing: is this all there is?

One day, I got a call from the friend whom I had been renting my apartment from, telling me that she wanted to put it on the market for sale. It was like a window opened into other possibilities. Once I started gazing into those possibilities my eye was drawn to ever-increasingly distant horizon lines…new apartment, new neighborhood, new city, new state, new…. country?

I eventually chose Paris because my mother is French, and I had gone there regularly as a child. It felt challenging and yet not totally terrifying.

I suppose that on a conscious level, one could say that my coming to Paris was fueled by a desire to explore something outside the confines of my everyday existence. On a subconscious level, I think it might have been a search for self.

Do you think you have to be a certain kind of person to have the faith to move to a foreign city, or do you think anyone with enough moxie can do it?

Well, I still have stuff in storage in the states so you could say, that a decade later, I still haven’t actually ‘moved’ here! I personally have a huge issue with commitment (obviously!) so I just took it step by step, day by day, week by week and year by year… sometimes that is less daunting than making a drastic, seemingly irrevocable decision.

I tell people who are considering moving abroad or doing anything that feels ‘scary’ to them, that action, activity, motion – no matter how minor, is the key component to accomplishing everything. There’s a train metaphor that I like to use: Just “get on the train”—any train. I mean, you can always switch trains at the next station. You can even take a train back to where you started. But standing still on the platform gets you nowhere in life.

As for faith or moxie, in my case, I didn’t consider myself particularly brave at the time, though now I do feel that I have gained in confidence. And that added confidence is perhaps a direct result of the adventure of having had to adapt to a new culture, to push past certain social boundaries, to stand up for what I believe in—I’m not sure those traits would have developed in me if I had remained in more comfortable/familiar surroundings where most people did things the same way I did.

Living abroad is a great opportunity for lifting the veil off your rote behaviors and engrained reflexes. Being exposed to opposing perspectives and new ways of doing things really helps you to explore and ultimately define what makes you, you.

What books have inspired you?

These days, I mostly read non-fiction on a variety of topics related to Seymour’s mission (psychology, neuroscience, consciousness, etc). That said, I love autobiographical texts: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Patti Smith’s Just Kids stayed with me a long time.

I also love fiction that makes the ordinary extraordinary—John Irving, J.D. Salinger—and am also very inspired by poetry: Walt Whitman, T.S Eliot, ee cummings, Sylvia Plath. I also enjoy historical fiction or books of a philosophical nature like the writings of Hermann Hesse, Peter Matthiessen, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

This is tough question to ask an English major and an only child to boot!!  Impossible to pick just a few! Books have always been a huge part of my life!

Do you think you’ll write another book?

Indeed. I eagerly await the whisper of its first sentence.

What’s your favorite journey?

Into the unknown.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Vegan Monday

Eating is getting a little funny now, in the third trimester. My appetite vacillates between being ready to eat my hand off and not being able to fathom eating, ever again. My insides are just so compressed it gets uncomfortable. And then there’s the occasional heartburn, and the constant consideration of nutrition and pull of indulgence. I’m all over the place.

This past weekend, we had wonderful brick oven pizza with honey and truffle oil. Went to the farmer’s market and bought fresh corn, tomatoes, squash, peaches and a little basil plant, which we’ll hopefully manage to keep alive. Out of that bounty came a summer squash frittata, a peach upside-down cake, and a beautiful tomato-corn salad, found in Molly Wizenberg's Delancey, that my *husband* made. (Still think it’s funny to say that).

We had organized a picnic in the park on Saturday and friends brought Ample Hills ice cream and since we were immediately rained out of the park and wound up back at our apartment, we inherited both pints of ice cream. Dommage. I think I can count on one hand the number of days I have not had ice cream in the past three months. It’s one place I’m definitely giving myself a ‘pregnancy pass,’ figuring if nothing else, the calcium is good for her little bones.

I’m also trying to up the omega 3, iron and protein intake this last trimester. I’m having salmon a couple times a week, started adding walnuts to my yogurt and oatmeal, eating lots of eggs, avocado, fresh fruit, hummus and chickpeas… it all sounds so pious but there are lots of sweets in there, too. As for today…

Coffee with almond milk (I’ve maintained ½ cup of coffee, just a little caffeine, all pregnancy)
Overnight oats with dates, walnuts and banana – sooo delicious

Veggie burrito, no cheese – sounded good at the time but made me feel not so great all day
But good enough to have a little bit of a Mast Brothers chocolate bar
And some almonds

Rounded up the rest of our tomatoes, corn and eggplant from the farmer’s market to make an orzo salad
Ginger Ale - trying to conquer that stomach ache