Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow - January 27, 2011

What was predicted to be a 5-8" snowstorm ended up dumping 15 inches of snow on NYC, pretty much overnight. That snow piled up on top of the snow drifts that have been around since Christmas and made for a beautiful, but difficult, commute to work. Here are some shots from outside our apartment.

Goodreads Review: Everything is Illuminated

Everything Is IlluminatedEverything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The novel is told in three different manners: From the voice of a young Ukrainian, letters from the same Ukrainian to a young American, and through the American's writings for his first novel. The format made for a slow and somewhat disjointed start, but by the end of the novel I appreciated the different perspectives and writing styles.

I think that the recommendations from others lead me to expect more. I kept looking for a deeper meaning in it all, when that really wasn't the point.

Anyway, it's a good read and I would recommend it. I particularly enjoyed the whims and quirks of members of the shetl described in the sections written by the American.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chopped Mediterranean Salad

There have been so many times when I have ordered a meal in a restaurant that was so delicious that I wished I could make it at home. My favorite restaurant dish is Carrabba's Chicken Bryan. Years ago I tried to replicate it, but the white wine/butter/basil sauce is just a bit too much to deal with on a regular basis. Every now in then though, we are able to easily replicate meals eaten in restaurants to a satisfying quality.

This is our version of a salad that Chris had for lunch last summer.

Chopped Mediterranean Salad
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 Tablespoon capers
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 can chickpeas
1 cup spinach, chopped

The measurements are rough estimates, so adjust according to preference. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

21 Books in 2010!

I have never been much of a runner or a reader. So two of my goals for 2010 were to run a 5k and read 20 books. I honestly didn't think I would be able to do it, but I'm proud to say I slashied a half marathon and read...wait for it...21 books.

Rebekah had recommended Goodreads to me a couple of years ago and it really was life-changing. It helped me to organize my list of books to read, made it fun to look for new books, and enabled me to see what my friends had read and enjoyed. I highly recommend Goodreads to anybody that wants to read more and just needs that extra push. My books (top 5 bolded) for 2010 were:

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling
2) Franny and Zooey, JD Salinger
3) The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
4) Why Do I Love These People?, Po Bronson
5) The Djinn in the Nightingales Eye, AS Byatt
6) The Man Who Was Thursday, GK Chesterton
7) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
8) The Help, Kathryn Stockett
9) Nine Stories, JD Salinger
10) Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
11) The Reason for God, Timothy Keller
12) The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
13) Brooklyn, Colm Toibin
14) Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
15) Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin, Paula Deen
16) A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
17) Whatever It Takes, Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, Paul Tough
18) Hunting and Gathering, Anna Gavalda
19) UnSweetined, Jodie Sweetin
20) Lucky Man: A Memoir, Michael J Fox
21) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam

For 2011 I'm going to try to read 3 a month for a grand total of 36 for the year. Recommendations are welcome and appreciated!

Master Tara!

Tara surprised our parents with a very special Christmas present. She completed her master's degree!!! They had absolutely no idea that she was planning on graduating. Dad was so thrilled that he made us call her "Master Tara" the rest of the weekend. Congrats Tara!!!

Christmas 2010

We had a great Christmas 2010 and were fortunate to spend it with family and friends...and a bit of snow too!

Our Christmas Tree 2010

Chick-Fil-A in NYC?

So, there is no Chick-fil-A in NYC. It's true. The closest Chick-fil-A is in Jersey. Sigh.

While there is a Chick-fil-A express in the NYU food court, Chris and I have refused to go there for the past two years. It's not a real's like the one we had at Clemson. They may sell nuggets and waffle fries, but you're not guaranteed polynesian sauce and you know they're not going to say "my pleasure."

Well, the two weeks before Christmas my coworkers had "bake off and beef up." Every day somebody brought in a baked good and we all gained 20 pounds. After a bit too much sugar, I decided my contribution needed to be salty...and then I broke down. I broke my rule and went to the fake Chick-fil-A to order a party platter for my coworkers, many of which had never tasted the deliciousness that is Chick-fil-A.

I stick to my original stance that it's not a real Chick-fil-A, but it did come very close. Polynesian sauce and all. Well done, NYU, well done.

Kiawah Marathon & Half Marathon

This summer, Eric and Keith decided that they were going to run the Kiawah half marathon and asked Chris to join. Having run a couple half marathons already, Chris decided to go for the full marathon. And somehow he convinced me to run the half.

So on December 11 Eric, Keith, Ross, Hager, Chris, Tara and I set out to run the half/full marathon. We were so fortunate to be able to stay at the Garrick's beautiful beach house. It is truly one of my favorite places.

Chris trained so hard, getting up to 19 miles but unfortunately hurt his leg. He tried to run the day of the marathon, but his leg just wasn't ready. I'm really proud of him for stopping and not hurting it even worse. He's hoping to get to try again soon. While I trained, I still had to know run/ a little bit, walk a little bit. Tara was so sweet and stopped to walk with me whenever I needed to. I can't believe I freaking slashied a half marathon! And most impressive was Hager, who ran the FULL marathon in under 4 hours, sprinting at the end to win a bet with his coworkers.

Needless to say that none of us could move for the next 24 hours. But it was so much fun. I kind of want to do it again next year...

Yes, Tara and I wore matching pink fleeces, because we're AWESOME!

Kitchen. of. my. dreams.

Real Simple Pop-Up Shop

One of the great things about living in New York City is the cool things you read about in magazines and hear about on tv...usually happen here. I was reading Real Simple one day on the subway and saw that for one week in early December they were going to have a pop-up shop in Rockefeller Center. The pop-up show would sell all of the gifts they recommended in their December issue. So of course I had to check it out.

Just on the other side of the craziness that is the plaza at Rockefeller Center during Christmastime was this cute little shop. When I walked in, somebody greeted me and said "free makeovers upstairs." Um, yes please. After my free makeover, I was handed a gift back of goodies and coupons. LOVE Real Simple.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The day before Thanksgiving, Chris and I went up to the 81st street to see the balloons being prepped for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was insanely crowded, but we did get to see the balloons up close, which was pretty awesome.

Then on Thanksgiving we went out to watch the parade. Honestly, I didn't think I was going to be that into it. It was kinda chilly and I had never really made a tradition of watching the televised parade. I didn't think it was going to be that great. But I was wrong. It's amazing how contagious the excitement of a 5 year-old yelling "Here comes Snoopy! Here comes Snoopy!" is. I loved every minute of it. And really, there were so many people there that it wasn't cold at all.

My favorite part was seeing people that live on 7th avenue peak out of their windows, sit on the fire escape, or watch from their rooftop. What an experience that must have been.

Here comes Buzz! Here comes Buzz!

After the parade we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with our neighbors and 8 of their friends. I was so impressed that they were able to set a 12-person table (with their nice china!) in a 600 square foot apartment.

DiFara's Pizza

Everybody has their own opinion on what the "best pizza in NYC" is. Many say it is Lombardi's, many give that title to Grimaldi's, and others swear by Ray's. There's also a constituent of Brooklyners that claim the best pizza in NYC is in Midwood at DiFara's Pizza.

Our neighbors had let us in on the secret of DiFara's last year but we had yet to make the trip. With the threat of cold weather creeping nearer, we decided it was time. Turns out, there's an MTA bus that pretty much goes straight from our neighborhood to DiFara's. We waited about 15 minutes to order, and then another hour to actually get the pizza, but I have to say it was worth the experience.

The pizza rivals Grimaldi's, my personal favorite, in taste. But what is so special about DiFara's is that every single pizza is made by one man. One precious old man named Domendico De Marco. He's been making pizzas at DiFara's every day for the past 40 years. Watching him make the pies, you can see the care he puts into each and every one. It's heart-warming really...and delicious.

Scott and Nicki on the bus

 Chris and I...and his mustache...on the bus

Makin' pizzas

A double rainbow...what does it mean!?

A double rainbow, as seen from my office window:

Rebekah and Elizabeth Visit!

Rebekah and Elizabeth came to visit Halloween weekend! Chris went to visit Ross in Charlotte, so we got to have a little girls weekend. It was Elizabeth's first time in the City and it's always fun to show people around for the first time.

On Sunday we spontaneously decided to go see the off-broadway production of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. Max McLean is one of those people that is just blessed with an incredible voice. It was an incredible, and very convicting, performance. It also made me want to read more C.S. Lewis.

That night we handed out halloween candy to the kiddies of Windsor Terrace. It seemed like every other kid was dressed up as Mario, but they were adorable nonetheless.

I REALLY enjoyed getting to catch up with these girls that I love so much!

Aunt Gwynn and Kellie Visit!

In October, my Aunt Gwynn surprised my cousin Kellie with a trip to New York. Kellie didn't even know where they were going until she got to the airport...good thing Aunt Gwynn pulled out the sundresses she had packed!

We had so much fun together and got to spend time with Gwynn's good friend Beth as well. We saw the sites, walked around Central Park, ate Grimaldi's and saw In the Heights on broadway. I can't wait for them to come back!

Boston with the LaForces

In September, Chris and I took a bus up to Boston to spend the weekend with Eric and Emily. We had fun roaming around the city. The LaForces had the fantastic idea to stay at an apartment found on VRBO. I highly recommend doing this. Having an apartment was so much cozier than being in a hotel room.

While we were there, we rode the metro out to Cambridge to see Harvard and MIT and our friend Josh. Being the dork that I am, I made sure that we saw the recently renovated Palmer Street and Winthrop Street shared streets.

We saw a bunch of high school kids playing their version of Quidditch in the park...

We went to dinner and then to a bar to catch some football...

 And on our walk back to the apartment saw this adorable basket of apples that somebody left on their stoop to share. How cute is Boston?

September 11, 2010

On September 11, Chris and I went down to DUMBO to view the annual Tribute in Light. Searchlights are shown straight up into the sky from the World Trade Center Site. Very beautiful and humbling.