Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reasons why I need a new camera

Because if you find yourself strolling through Central Park on a lovely sunny Sunday, and you happen upon an ice skating competition, naturally you will want to document it for all time.

And you look at the pretty balloons swaying to the music, of course you will feel compelled to zoom in. 

But you can't. 

Of course there will be times when you peer out of your kitchen window to find the moon glistening from above and clouds hastily painted across the sky. 

But the camera on your phone fails to capture it's beauty.

Then there may come a time when you rationalize to yourself that it is ok to stop in the middle of the street before oncoming traffic to photograph the Empire State Building at dusk.

But was the outcome really worth laying down your life for?

Oh how I want a real camera!  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stream of Thought...

I was out of the house by 5:30 am this morning, which means I was forced to arise far earlier than anyone should ever have to. Nothing is right at 4:45 am. Nothing. 

So here I am at work, unable to fully concentrate on any one thing because the dull ache of tiredness resides behind my eyes rendering me incapable of thinking on a productive level.  However, I do seem to have a consistent stream of random thoughts, which are not necessarily connected to the other, and in an effort utilize this little blog space of mine to share my thoughts, no matter how irrelevant, I am going to list them here. In no particular order:

-I have a penchant for Moleskin journals off all sizes, and while doing some morning blog reading I came across this one which I now covet.

-I will also continue to covet an in-home inversion table.  The idea of being able to hang from my ankles and strech my spine make the knots in my shoulders relax just thinking about it.

-I find myself desiring to learn how to take pretty pictures of pretty things. I have no idea how to use a camera aisde from pointing, clicking and zooming (and I am a photographers daughter! the shame!) but should I learn on a film camera or a digital? Help...

-I think having two frisky one year old kitties is somewhat akin to having a toddler in the house. The constant need to explore, knock things over and put undesireable objects in their mouth can be trying at times. Except a toddler doesn't look at your with a furry face and no ability to understand what you are saying. But then they get all cuddly on you and you forget you had to yell at Stanley who was chewing on the metal end of a power cord.

-I recently got a burger from the NYC Buger Joint, The Stand which is supposed to have some of the Big Apples Best Burgers, and I am here to totally debunk that theory and tell you it's all lies.  My burger was totally underwhelming, chewy and not seasoned. The fact that it cost $12 only added insult to injury.

-To me, I will know I have succeeded in my life when I can end each day with a glass of good wine and a plate of some nice cheese. I think this goal is attainable.

-I wish I did a better job at keeping up with a day planner, I am sure it would help make me a better person.

-We still haven't done our taxes, crap. Although between the two of us I think we have over ten w-2 forms, which still confuse me despite the number I have had to fill out.

-We recently began making bread in our shiney, new bread machine. However it appears to be flawed in all it's shiney-newness and we have to send it back. Blast.

-The idea of making my own greek yogurt intrigues me, although I wonder if after you spend the money on yogurt and cheesecloth it really saves you any money?

And with that, my time here at work is wrapping up. Isn't being inside my mind wild and fanciful?  Clearly I spend a lot of time thinking about food, which may be something worth looking into. Also I thought I would share with you this little fun fact about my time here in NYC so far,

I have encountered a grand total of five celebrities since I moved to NYC: Goldie Hawn, Mariska Hargatay (she is super nice), Maggie Gyllenhall and Peter Saarsgard, and Emma Roberts (niece of Julia Roberts, and all she did was make out with her boyfriend the whole time. Very uncouth).  I will let you know if I ever encounter the ULTIMATE in celebrity sightings...Sara Jessica Parker. I heart her.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring in your Step

There are many things I miss about Chicago, however there is one thing which surprisingly I do not miss one bit: driving.  Yes, it would have been convenient during the monsoon on Saturday do be able to hop into a vehicle and save the life of an umbrella, but for the most part I am quite happy to rely on my two feet and the NY Subway System.  I do love the car that waits patiently for me back in Chi-Town, it's sleek, fuel efficient, I bought it all by myself, and heck I even knocked a brick wall down with it just to see what would happen.  It's a good car, but I am happy to be apart from it, for now anyway.

Most often as I walk through the city I am usually pretty destination focused. Which subway stop will bring me closest to my desired end point? How many avenue blocks must I walk? That kind of thing.  It's a fairly common affliction here in NYC, we are busy people with places to go and people to see.  However, last week when the gods above decided to give us a sampling of spring weather, Jürgen and I accidentally indulged ourselves in a walk with no real destination.  I say "accidentally" because our afternoon didn't start out with "wandering" on the agenda.  We happened to be in the city at Macy's so I could return something, and we suddenly found ourselves with two hours of free time before either of us needed to be at work.   So we started to wander, which I wil admit didn't come naturally to me from the onset.  "What are we doooing? Where are we goooing?" were typical statements from me as we started, but thankfully I took a self prescribed chill pill and began to enjoy the crisp fake-spring air, and vitamin-D enriched sunshine.

We walked past the empire state building, stared up at it and made ourselves dizzy. We gazed into store windows, we even stopped into the NY Public Library and took in a free exhibit on maps. Yes maps. Not thrilling, but informative, and free, can't argue with that. Plus I had not seen the inside of the library before and it really is quite beautiful.  After the library we found our way to Bryant Park, which I of course knew all about (ooohh fashion week...fancy!) but never knew quite where it was.

The trees clearly aren't ready to donn their spring green just yet, but they sure looked stunning with their branches intermingling to form a canopy above the park. We sat at a table below the trees and took in the  scene, and I realized: had we not allowed ourselves to simply walk, with no real agenda, we may not have thought to stop here.

A similar thought crossed my mind a few weeks ago when Jürgen's parents were in town, when we took the subway down to battery park and spent a few hours walking. We saw:

The Statue of Liberty in all her Glory.

We walked into St. Pauls Chapel, an Episcopal (represent!) Church which was crucial to the volunteer effort at Ground Zero.  Inside the church is decorated with all kinds of memorabilia from that time:

Letters from Children offering words of hope.

Healing paper cranes from Japan

A chausble pinned with hundres of badges in honor of those who were lost.

It was incredibly moving, and I had no idea it even existed.

We also walked to water street where we saw some majestic boats,

And finally we weaved our way through the financial district and happened upon a historic federal building which housed all kinds of information about Alexander Hamilton, and this stone:

I am not sure if you can read the inscription, but this is the very piece of stone upon which President George Washington took the oath of office.  

All of this was discovered because we simply put one foot in front of the other.  I know it seems obvious, but if you are looking for free entertainment, try taking yourself on a walk! Even if you don't live in a big city, you can always find unique neighboorhoods, or some pretty trails where you can literally stop and smell the roses. It's an activity you can do solo, if you want some personal time, or you can always find yourself some walking buddies. The possibilities are endless, and so many new expierences await you!

Any other ideas for great (and cheap!) Spring entertainment? I am all ears.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

War Torn Umbrellas

Mother Nature has declared war on New york, and her chosen weapon of mass destruction: rain.  Massive amounts of rain.  She can be so cruel sometimes, and after a few days with winks of spring weather, she pulled out all the stops in the forms of fat, cold, dense raindrops coupled with gusts of wind that rival the winds of Chicago. Those winds I was more than happy to leave behind yet they seem to have journeyed East. You see the terror on everyones face as they walk through the doors from the outside: the pink cheeks, hair plastered to the sides of their faces, droplets falling from their earlobes.  Everyone wearing the same expression of disbelief mixed with frustration. Being wet and cold is no fun. No fun at all.

Then there are the carnage lined streets.  I wasn't prepared for such a sight but everywhere you turn you see the remnants of a life cut short. A life that was meant to travel miles, to serve and protect.

It was on my walk home when I chose to capture the final moments of this young ones life. I have no idea where it had been or to whom it belonged but I swear it whispered to me "please tell the plastic polka dotted angel, with her faux-wooden handle, who I met in the coat check of The Oak Room...I never forgot about her..." 

How the mighty have fallen.

My poor umbrella also saw it's demise all too soon. It was on the way to work this morning and she just didn't have the strength against the wind, not even even her darling multi-colored poly-fiber fabric could save her.

It was a rough day.  I had plans to meet up with two dear Chicago friends, their names are Jess and Cassie, but was secretly hoping we would all decide to flake out on one another in an attempt to stay off the violent streets. However none of us wanted to be "the one who flaked", so despite the danger we convened in midtown for some inexpensive thai food.  I had to seek shelter at one point while on 45th street for fear of becoming MIA.

(I wish I had a fancy camera that could capture rain falling....)

Thankfully we all made it, despite Cassie's train being shut down halfway through her commute, and we managed to ignore the events outside and focus our attention on being three ladies living it up in New York City.  It's hard to believe that I met them almost five years ago, when were all performing in a production of The Wild Party.  We had all recently graduated and danced and sang our tails off in a tiny Chicago storefront, with no air conditioning, in the middle of August.  Oh the days of being young, sweaty and performing in your underwear (I didn't let my parents see that one).  I am so glad we are still friends.  We gabbed about Chicago, New York, theatre, the brilliance of Sex and the City, being in our late twenties, high school reunions*, and many other topics.  It was incredibly lovely and worth fighting for.  Plus we were able to pay only $15 for a prix-fix dinner menu of chicken coconut soup, thai salad, veggie spring roles, chicken pad-thai and coconut ice cream! I didn't even touch my pad-thai, I boxed it up and plan on savoring it tomorrow during my lunch break.  Victory is mine!

Go to Yum-Yum Bangkok on 9th avenue. Go now. But be kind and leave your umbrella at home.

Also, while waiting for the train I caught site of this colorful fellow:

His sign read: Let us not forget that in this great big beautiful world that there are only two things that are really worth living for and they are love and happiness. Spread Joy

You hear that Mother Nature? Make Love. Not War.

*I had a mild panic attack while at work the other day when I thought my 10 year high school reunion was approaching this fall.  However I was comforted to know I was a year off, which means I have until the fall of 2011 to become wildly famous and successful.  I will get right on that.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Homemade goat cheese. And oven roasted tomatoes. And Crostini. And Other lovely things.

Every Tuesday (since early February) I wake up with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning, because Tuesdays bring something no other day of the week can bring: a new episode of LOST.

I jumped on the LOST train about a year and a half ago and have never looked back, not even during this season when the writing gets a bit clunky and deliberate, no not even then, and I suggest you do the same.  It's quite a ride, I assure you. Thankfully Neill has been a passenger on the train as well, so we are a content party of three, who gather in front of our tiny  TV, mouths agape (in fascination or disappointment...) for a full hour followed by at least thirty minutes of discussion about what we just witnessed.  Good times indeed.

                                                    (Stanley is a fan too!)

Of course we can't just get together and watch TV, no no no we need to drink.  So we have decided that our drink of choice during the duration of this season will be Absolut Mango as sort of an ode to the fruits they may find while on the island.  Also, eating is helpful, and Jürg and I do our best to put some sort of food on the table.  Some nights (like last) we don't have our act together and it ends up being pasta, but other nights, like last week, we hit a home run, and we make our very own goat cheese.

Yes you read that right, we (well, I) made cheese.  It may very well be one of the most thrilling things I accomplish all year (I aim high), and I simply had to share this with all of you so you can experience the excitement for yourself.  You don't need a must see Tuesday night show to inspire you, goat cheese can be consumed any time, and in an ideal world I would have some every day. I'm serious. There are few things I love more that goat cheese in all its creamy, tangy, sometimes herby splendor.

I never realized that making my own would be so easy, until I came across this incredible blog.  I found it one Sunday evening when the blog creator made a comment on my first Sunny Side Up post, making her the first "stranger" to comment on my blog. Which was thrilling in and of itself, but find the recipe for goat cheese, and so many other delectable dishes was the real prize.  Thank you Giao!

She does an incredible job of teaching you how to bring the pleasure of homemade cheese into your kitchen, and beautifully depicts it in photographs, so I will simply provide you a link rather than recount it here.  However I will tell you that a quart of goats milk cost me $3.50, which is the same price as a typical "log size" goat cheese, and this recipe yields at least two "logs" worth.  Not only do you get the joy of becoming a novice cheese maker, but you save money in the process! Love that!

We paired the goat cheese with some homemade oven roasted tomatoes, homemade crostini, and homemade potato leek soup (not pictured).  The soup was also from the same blog, and simply wonderful.  We already had enough potato's on hand so all we needed to buy was a few leeks and some chicken stock.  Dear friends, I tell you it's possible to eat like a gourmand on a tight budget.

Oh yes! The drinks! How could I forget?  So far we have tried three different types of Mango drinks, one of which does not bear repeating, and we continue to search for more. There are ten episodes left this season, so we have plenty of time to find a favorite.

They are the Absolut Caliente and The Absolut Firefly, which certainly don't lack in either flavor or color.  You would pay $14 a pop for these in Manhattan, but here in Queens we shake and stir to our hearts (and wallets) content.  The Absolute Drinks site has all kinds of great recipes, take a gander for yourself!

Tuesdays are the new Friday's in my book, well for the next ten weeks anyway.