Parents Weekend

My parents made the trip up to Brooklyn this weekend now that the weather is finally nice enough to enjoy walking around outside! Like always, it’s the eating and walking tour of Brooklyn.

Started off Friday night with dinner in Williamsburg at Zi Zi Limona for Mediterranean food. Delicious food and wine all around. We had a bunch of plates to split was a perfect way to go. This was actually a repeat visit after going there when Remy was in town last week. We loved it that much!

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Saturday morning started early with a trip to Colson’s (it’s not a parents weekend without it!). Croissants and coffee.

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After breakfast we walked to the Grand Army Farmer’s market and then to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. The official cherry blossom festival was last weekend but the flowers seemed to be out in full bloom this weekend.

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We, like everyone else, proceeded to take a lot of pictures 🙂

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Usually on Saturday mornings, Jon and I work on the NYTimes crossword puzzle. By work on, I mean we look at it, can usually guess 1 to 2 words and then give up. A fantastic weekend is 5 words. Apparently we just need to invite mom up every weekend because she finished it all. Can we count that as a win?

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Lunch was at Bierkraft, a restaurant in Park Slope with craft beer and sandwiches. They have the most delicious vegetarian sandwiches there and really different craft beer choices. I ended up with a cherry flavored beer. Sounds weird, tasted great.

Of course, in between all of the eating we covered over 7 miles of walking and wandering.

Saturday afternoon we made it back to DUMBO where they were staying (!) to hang out for a bit. Grabbed pizza from Juliana’s down the street and brought it back to eat on the roof. Holy amazing views. Unfortunately, part way through, it started raining. But the apartment had pretty amazing views so we didn’t mind heading back inside to hang out.

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Sunday morning involved more paper reading and another trip to Colson’s for breakfast! This time we happened to be eating at the same time (2 tables down) from the mayor of NYC. That’s the 2nd time I’ve seen him there so pretty cool that our neighborhood spot is also his!

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Went to church followed by an excellent brunch at Fonda, a Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. That too was a repeat from Remy’s visit last week. It was that delicious and worth going back!

Post lunch walk through Prospect Park and the neighborhood before a late afternoon gelato and coffee break.

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So happy that they were able to make the trip up for the weekend. Loved having them around and it’s fun to have excuse to go back to delicious neighborhood places 🙂

Having a quiet ending to another great weekend. Thanks for coming mom & dad!

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March Moments

Somehow one thing led to another and here we are just over a month since I last blogged. “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow night” turns into 30 some days later. Whoops.

It’s been a big start to the year and I cannot even begin to fathom how I’ve found myself here on the night before April 1st. Here are some highlights:

I attended a talk at a company in lower Manhattan last month. The talk was by a famous illustrator who told stories of where he had come from and how he ended up where he is now. I was pretty amazed by the building that the talk was in. Somehow, it’s easy to forget the history that we’re surrounded by every day while we walk around.

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One unexpectedly warm Saturday, Jon and I headed to the High Line in Manhattan to walk around. Found ourselves in Chelsea Market for a quick lunch (crepes, of course) and I found these lights still strung up from the holidays. Christmas lights never cease to make me smile.

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On that same warm day, we walked uptown towards 34th street and found ourselves across the street from MSG where there is this terrifically large and old post office.

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Along the High Line, we happened upon this construction site. Apparently I have some 5-year old boy interests because I made Jon stand and watch them for a good 15 minutes. I made him wait until the cement truck started pouring cement and I figured out how it was delivered 2 stories down.

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One of the most fantastic habits that we’ve created is always having a delicious Saturday morning brunch. This particular week was homemade biscuits topped with mozzarella, arugula and eggs.

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Shot in Red Hook, a neighborhood close to mine in Brooklyn.

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Creative Mornings, a monthly series featuring a speaker, was held in Red Hook. Which is how I found myself wandering through this artist’s fantastic studio and art space early one Friday morning. Seriously amazing work.

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And a pretty sweet, four floor space.

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A few months back I signed up for Google Experts. It means you write 50 reviews of restaurants or businesses online and then you’re invited by Google to a party in whatever city you’re a “City Expert” in. This month’s party was held in midtown and was mexican themed.

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There was dancing.

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I also had a 5 day run in with hives. So a trip to an allergist was in order. They poked me with hundreds of little things I could potentially be allergic too. Which gave me more hives. But came back as being “severely allergic” to grass as well as minor ones for trees, coconut, cats and dust. So that taught me nothing. But I felt like a pin cushion for a morning.

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And the allergist trip allowed me to head to a new area in the morning for some coffee.

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Made peanut butter powder, whole wheat pancakes topped with raw honey for Fat Tuesday (now you can see how old these pictures are). I don’t believe whole wheat pancakes is exactly what they had in mind for Fat Tuesday celebrations. But when in Brooklyn…

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Jon and I went to a vegan restaurant one afternoon for one of our Groupon dates (thanks Eric & David!). The Groupon special was for 2 empanadas and 2 beers each. It was a delicious and a fun Sunday afternoon date.

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During one of the really cold weekends we made cast iron macaroni & cheese with old bay and kale chips. Yum.

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Some lunches are just leftover baguettes with melted cheese and tomatoes.

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And, of course, Saturday breakfasts. The most important meal of the week. This time was homemade biscuits (we were on a roll for a while) with mushroom gravy and bacon (for Jon).

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Of course, there were lots of little moments in between. Lots of eating, cooking, design talks, hours at work, NY Crosswords left unfinished and miles walked. Looking forward to some of the warmer months for more outdoor time!

 

 

Cooking Without a Recipe

This post, much to my Uncle Dan’s dismay, lacks a recipe. The title alone is probably enough to cause anxiety.

I’ve never really been one to follow recipes. I have lots of cookbooks, pin numerous recipes on Pinterest and always make grocery lists with the intent of cooking a full recipe. Somehow I get started and substitutions start happening and before I know it, nothing is similar to where I started.

I lived for a summer in college for a month without measuring cups. Normal people just wouldn’t bake for that month. I decided to make cookies and instead googled “how to judge tablespoons in your palm.” It worked.

Whenever we cook on the weekends, Jon mistakenly asks to see the recipe so that he can help out. Recipe? What recipe?

On this very night, I set out to make cornbread. We have a group through church that meets every Wednesday night and one of the girls was bringing chili so it fit perfectly! I picked up the milk and eggs on the way home from work and for once actually was determined to follow a complete recipe. Until I realized that I was running out of cornmeal. Slightly crucial for the whole “corn bread” thing to happen. I googled a bit only to find answers like “can’t make corn bread without corn meal” or “doesn’t work.” Undeterred, I was determined to make this cornbread.

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I noticed a container of grits and decided that seemed close enough to corn for me. So 1/2 cup of grits and the remaining 1/2 cup of corn meal later, I had corn bread!

The picture isn’t that great but it tasted just fine! So lesson learned.. if you have no corn meal just use grits instead! It adds some crunch but tasted just fine.

The problem with me submitting things in a recipe and it coming out fine is that it just furthers my desire to follow actual rules. I’ve always heard that you’re supposed to use exact measurements in baking but eye-balling seems to be good enough for me. Whoops. Maybe someday I’ll stop breaking the rules.

Monday Eats

Different kind of Monday. We moved into a new office space at work today! It wasn’t quite done this morning so I worked from the comfort of my couch. Somehow I’m infinitely more focused and productive if I start working right away. Made an extra delicious breakfast while I worked. Oatmeal with anything and everything I could find in it!

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The new office space is just one floor down from where we are currently but somehow the views seem to be even better. Brooklyn Bridge in one window, Manhattan Bridge in the other and a clear view of World Trade. Kinda crazy.

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Dinner was Spicy Thai Curry Noodle Soup. It turned out quite well. Tasted even more delicious than it looked and was just what I’ve been craving for weeks now. I mostly followed the recipe – didn’t blend the ingredients (because I don’t have a food processor) and did vegetable broth instead of chicken.

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My bowl of noodles didn’t quite live up to the photo on the blog where I found it.. but not too shabby for a Monday night and no food styling! The hardest part always seems to be having the right ingredients on hand and actually starting to cook. After that it’s easy & delicious.

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Snowy Weekend

This weekend seemed to pass all too quickly. Sunday evening and I’m sitting in a clean apartment with fresh laundry and new pillows. Achieved big kid status this weekend when Jon bought his first scarf (HOW did he go to school at RIT…) and I bought much needed new pillows.

Nothing too crazy this weekend – started it out on Friday with pizza at Peppino’s. Chosen both for it’s insanely hot interior and delicious pizza. Friday was so chilly! Actually it’s been cold for quite some time. We had snow both all day yesterday and little flurries today.

Watched The Intouchables on Netflix on Friday – highly recommend the movie!

Saturday morning I got ambitious and made cinnamon french toast from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook (the one that Jon got me for Christmas – genius). It turned out really well and was especially delicious with some veggie sausage that I picked up.

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After some newspaper reading and coffee drinking (this time from the comfort of my living room with a snowy view), we headed into Manhattan to run a few errands. The errands ended up taking about 4 hours which is usually the case when looking for something in NYC. Especially when you enter the vortex that is Macy’s. Never again. That place is out of control.

We did make a pit stop at the Ace Hotel to visit the coffee shop that is in their lobby. Cool view of the Empire State building while we were sipping our drinks and watching taxis pass by. Unfortunately, the rest of New Yorkers also had the idea to go there so there was no seating to be found.

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Dinner was leftover pizza and appetizers after coming back from the exhausting outing (that we didn’t really accomplish much in..). Finished the rest of Zero Dark Thirty which we had started a few weeks ago. Super intense even though I knew the ending!

This morning we woke up early for a church service in Manhattan. The church that we’re apart of in Brooklyn is actually part of a much larger network of churches and they had the first semi-annual all city gathering at a high school. Over 1,500 people were all gathered together – it was pretty insane! Definitely a cool way to start off the morning. We ended up running into a ton of people from the church in Long Island City that we went to all of last year so it was great to catch up. A group of 15 of us (which later turned into 40) all headed to grab food afterwards at Heartland Brewery in Union Square. I think the waiters were a bit alarmed to get a group that large in there so early. Fitting 40 people into 1 restaurant in NYC is nothing short of a miracle. Delicious food and great to catch up with everyone!

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Jon headed off to work and I wandered a bit more around in Manhattan. There’s something so nice about walking the streets with snow flurries in the air and no real place to be. Of course, it was quite chilly!

I do always love coming back to Brooklyn though. Love these rows and rows of brownstones to walk home to. The snow just makes it even better!

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Work has gotten super busy lately – in a good way! Lots of new projects and pitches to work on which keeps it interesting. Feels like almost every night is planned out already too. Can’t believe how quickly January passed…

Full Weekend

Had just a couple things planned for the weekend and somehow it feels like every spare minute in between was filled up!

Friday night I met up with Jon and headed to Der Kommissar, a German restaurant in the neighborhood, for dinner. They have delicious veggie sausage options, a fun environment and tons of mustard to put on said veggie sausage. From there we were going to meet up with Jon’s roommate and his girlfriend but they were running a little behind so he had the brilliant idea to head to L’Albero Dei Gelati this fantastic gelato place. Had PA Maple Syrup and Chestnut Ginger gelato. Both were super tasty!

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Eventually met up with Jon’s roommate, his girlfriend and her friend from college. In a weird turn of events, we ended up befriending these random people at the bar who needed a place to sit down and eat their dinner. Turns out they were related to the bartender and they were all cousins so it was a giant family reunion of sorts. By the end of the night there we hugs all around and we had met all of the cousins. Basically felt like a scene out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 🙂

Headed to bed early because we all had to get up super early so all 5 of us could pile on a train to Queens for a homeless care kit packing party. We’d done a similar one around this time last year and signed up again to help out. The train ride went super fast and before long we were spending 2 hours rolling up blankets with socks, hats, gloves, food, water and notes that are then handed out to homeless people on the streets. Pretty awesome project and made even more interesting because two of the people who run it were recipients of the homeless care kits years ago. We got to work alongside some high school kids as well who were bused there from somewhere in Brooklyn as well. Definitely two hours well spent. We completed 400 kits by the end of the morning.

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Afterwards all 5 of us headed down the street to El Ay Si, a brunch place that Jon and I had been to back when we went to church there. Delicious food and even more fun to have a big group of friends to share it with.

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Saturday afternoon was spent back in Brooklyn and was pretty low-key. NYTimes reading, chatting, Downton Abbey watching (Jon at least watched.. I napped). Later that night we headed out to Jon’s friend James’s house warming party. They’ve been friends since high school and hang out a lot now but I’d yet to meet him. Of course, every house warming party in NYC involves a whole lot of “oohh.. maybe I should move…”. But I think I’ll stay put for a bit 🙂

Changed it up today and had breakfast this morning instead of lunch after church. While drinking coffee, I spotted this dog outside. So cute! Wish I had more time and room for him in my apartment! Maybe someday…

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Went to lunch at a Thai restaurant after church with three girls from church which was fun! It’s super chilly outside so I’m all bundled up and cozy on my couch for the rest of the afternoon. I have a few freelance projects to work on, some reading to do and perhaps a little cooking later.

It’s definitely felt like a very full and very good weekend. Looking forward to weekends with slightly better outdoor walking weather 🙂

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If You Build It

Hard to believe that it was just 14 days ago that I was coming back to NYC after christmas break. The days, while they each feel long, seem to be flying by. After a few snowy, cold days I was super ready to get out and explore again. Definitely miss some of the longer walks we used to take on weekends when it wasn’t so stinkin’ cold outside.

I ran across an article last week talking about this interesting documentary called If You Build It. I looked into it a little more and turns out it was premiering in NYC that weekend (last Friday)! Friday after work I met up with Jon and we headed to the West Village in search of dinner before the show. Found a cute little Greek restaurant and grabbed a seat by the window – rainy nights make being inside feel even more cozy.

The movie turned out to be fantastic! In short, it’s a documentary on two designers/architects who went to Bertie County, NC and started a design class which ended up having a huge impact on the community and students there. You can learn more about it here. They’re showing it around the country throughout the next year so I highly recommend it if it’s coming somewhere near you!

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Afterwards there was a Q&A session with the director. I have to admit, I wasn’t initially that excited about a Q&A session but it turned out to be great! Not only was it the director of the movie but the 2 teachers of the class and one of the students in their original design class came and spoke as well. It was a fun and different way to spend a Friday night!

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Saturday involved sleeping in and coffee and NYTimes reading at a (new) local coffee shop. We had an oh so romantic date to busy Trader Joe’s for groceries tucked in there too. Came home and I made Pear & Arugula soup for dinner while Jon did laundry. It actually turned out really well! I ended up leaving out one of the ingredients (a potato – Farmigo gave me moldy ones last week) but didn’t seem to miss it. Made some toasty croutons on top too.

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After dinner I headed out to Hoboken (NJ) with Casey to meet up with Ariana one of our other roommates from RIT. She’s moving down to Texas to work at a sweet new place, Mary Kay! So she had one last going away party there. Jon met up not long after. Had a good time catching up before she headed off!

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It did make for a super short night of sleep though. Sunday morning I woke up super early (6:30) to help set up at church. It ended up being really fun and I didn’t even push snooze that much (huge accomplishment when you see how weekdays have been…). We finished setting up so early that all 7 of us headed to a local diner for some food! Pancakes, eggs, coffee and chatting made for the best morning. It’s been fun getting to know those girls over the past year (!). Yikes, I can’t believe it’s really been that long. By the time church rolled around at 10:30, it felt like mid-day!

Had leftover pear & arugula soup with Jon before he headed off to work and then I set to work doing laundry and fully cleaning the apartment. Felt so good to get everything back in order before the next week started.

Of course, I started this blog post the day after and am posting it 5 days later… so clearly this week got a bit crazy! Whoops.

Winter Saturday Exploring

Friday I worked from home due to snow which through off my sense of what day it actually was.

Saturday morning started early with homemade crepes – filled with sautéed spinach, artichoke hearts and brie! Complete with a side of coffee and a berry smoothie. Brunch is quickly becoming my favorite meal to plan – so many options and such a good way to kick off the weekend!

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We soon headed towards Central Park for a walk. For whatever reason (read: it’s not Brooklyn) we haven’t made it up there recently. We’ve definitely slowed down on the exploring from our early every weekend must be packed rule when I first moved here. Looking to change that in 2014! So many parts of the city left to see.

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Central Park was absolutely gorgeous with the snow on the ground and bright blue sky. It was also surprisingly warm (considering the day before had a negative something windchill).

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Made our way up towards the center of the park and found a nut stand. For some reason ever since I moved here, it’s been on my bucket list to get warm nuts from a sidewalk stand. It seemed New York-like I guess. Mission accomplished! We got cashews with a mystery flavoring.

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Continued meandering our way through the park until Jon could no longer feel his toes. We made it up to the MET on the east side which I shockingly have not seen since moving here. Briefly contemplated going but decided to save that for another cold or rainy day!

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Instead we continued walking down from 8o-something street to 63rd to get espresso and a cappuccino at Bel Ami a little coffee shop we had found last year. We were wildly underdressed – must have forgotten my fur coat and leather snake skin boots at home. But fun and cozy anyway!

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Plus the streets seemed like a movie set with all of the steam vents from the subways!

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From there we hopped on a subway and made it down to 42nd Street where we fought our way through Time Square to the AMC Theater! Jon got movie tickets for christmas from Aunt Barb & Uncle Joe and he decided he liked me enough to take me with him 🙂 We’d both been wanting to see Her so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for it! The lines were crazy long to get the tickets so we had to rush across the street to Five Guys for a quick grilled cheese and burger lunch before the movie. By the time we made it back it was 2 minutes until movie time and the theater was PACKED! Not that I go to movies often but I’ve never seen it so full! We ended up having to sit in the very, very front row with our heads looking straight up at the screen. Despite some of the characters looking rather large from below, it seemed to work out and we both enjoyed the movie. Guess I get to check off “sit in the front row at the movies” from some life bucket list!

Headed back to Brooklyn just in time to make some dinner. I’d had two meals planned for Saturday night to get us enough leftovers for Sunday which is usually the goal. However, after making the first we quickly lost stamina and quit at that. The soup is still unmade.. guess that is tomorrow’s task.

We did make Smitten Kitchen’s Butternut Squash and Onion Gallette along with a Kale Salad (recipe courtesy of Mom). It seemed to work out well and didn’t even take that long. We did cheat on the dough though. Between brunch and this, it was a lot of cooking in one day!

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Don’t be too impressed though. There’s a pretty decent chance that these photos your seeing were taken on a cardboard box 🙂

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Sometimes apartment life isn’t as glamorous as one might think. But I think we get points for innovation and creativity. Next time, I’ll try to locate a table cloth – tshirts work for that, right?

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Ending 2013

Crazy how fast 2013 came to a close. It feels like Thanksgiving just ended but it’s already January 3rd!

December was a blur of cookie eating, holiday parties, catching up with friends and family time. My apartment was modestly festive. Decided that a 4th floor walkup was not a good place for a Christmas tree, especially if I was leaving for Christmas.

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Had a good time at the Carrot Holiday party which took place at Fornino in Greenpoint. Filled with fresh mozzarella balls and delicious pizza!

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Had another holiday party with some friends from church complete with expert level cookie decorating, lots of cheese and hot apple cider. One of my friend’s boyfriend’s mom (confusing!) made 96 cookies for us to decorate along with frosting and instructions on how to decorate them. I think we all decided we’re not ready to open a bakery anytime soon.

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Had a few days in Brooklyn to hang around with Jon before my parents came through on Christmas Eve to drive me to New Jersey (way easier than attempting to carry things on the train!). Jon unfortunately had to work Christmas Eve but he joined us in NJ around 1am when he got off. Such a cozy place to spend time with family. It was a packed house but so much fun! Funny because even with 10 people there it felt absolutely huge compared to my tiny little apartment. Lots of intense games of Euchre were played.

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There was no shortage of delicious food (not all photographed unfortunately – I think Jon and some others have those on their phones which I’ll have to track down). Mushroom risotto, various meats that I don’t remember (oops), bean and cheese filled peppers, cheese plates, frittatas, ebelskivers, homemade muffins and bread. So delicious! Thanks for all of the cooking, Aunt Barb!

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One of the top things on my list is homemade ebelskivers. It’s a danish pancake type thing. Delicious and fun to make!

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And then there were the cookies. SO many cookies made by Mom, Dad & Sarah (I didn’t get to help in the cooking baking this year, unfornately). I’d pick a favorite but that’d be too hard. Almond tarts, Cranberry White Chocolate, Molasses, Biscotti, Nutella Filled Chocolate Chip, Paper, Thin Sugar Cookies. Yum.

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On Friday after Christmas, we headed down to Maryland (through Brooklyn which added lots of hours to the ride 😦 ). Got to spend about 4 days at home hanging out and eating even more delicious food! Vegetable pancakes (from Smitten Kitchen), peanut sauce on soba noodles, spaghetti squash and black bean enchiladas, homemade bread, taco dip, etc. Not all photographed (due to lack of phone space) but all oh so delicious.

Good news, new phone this year which means OODLES of space for food documentation. Get ready.

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On Wednesday morning it was time to hop back on the train and head back to NYC. Felt so weird seeing the skyline come back into view after being gone for just over a week. Definitely was a much needed break and time with family!

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Happy New Year!

 

Second September

Fall is definitely my favorite season. What makes this one even more awesome is that it’s my SECOND fall in NYC! Suddenly things that felt unfamiliar seem to be habit and I’m slowly checking off that list of “NYC To do’s”. It’s so crazy to me that I’ve been here for just over a year now. Moving did have a way of making everything feel new all over again. It’s weird how moving just 6 blocks away changed the feel of the neighborhood that I’m in. Technically the same neighborhood but it feels much more lively since I’m in the middle of the streets with all of the shops and restaurants. The move made my walk to the train in the morning twice as long – but that wasn’t hard to do considering I used to live just half a block from the train! Don’t mind the extra steps at all.

Here’s a little peek into what September has looked like:

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Sarah and her volleyball team stayed in a hotel just a short 13 blocks away from my apartment so one morning when they were here I got up early before work and walked over to meet her! Definitely loved having her within walking distance so that’s something to think about for the future (hint hint).

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Work has been pretty busy. Sometime’s I move around the office to get a different vantage point and it breaks the day up. Also gives me weird things to look at.

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Two weeks ago I went to Fornino (a new outdoor brick oven pizza place in Brooklyn) three times in 1 week. It’s amazing and definitely worth the 20 minute walk after work to see the sunset over Manhattan. The view below is just looking back up at Brooklyn Heights.

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When Sarah was in Brooklyn playing volleyball, my mom & dad came up as well. We went to Fornino the first night they were here for the awesome views and pizza! The next day was followed by many flights up and down the stairs to get the rest of my stuff moved into my new apartment. Then watched Sarah for the rest of the day!

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We did discover a new cheesecake place called Junior’s. We got to pieces to go to share between the four of us and they were AMAZING. Carrot Cake/Cheesecake mix & a black forest one. So so good.

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Also had the opportunity to celebrate the beginning of fall with an outdoor dinner with work friends! A coworker has a sweet rooftop in Manhattan and she invited us all over for an early Sunday dinner. She cooked SO much delicious food: pumpkin cream cheese roll, brussels sprouts, 2 types of lasagna, butternut squash mac & cheese. Delicious!

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Sunsets around here are particularly fantastic. Here’s one from a random night walking home from a work event.

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One of those 3 nights at Fornino was a blogger/news event. They just opened about a month ago and are trying to spread the word. They had a special menu planned and a cheese demonstration!

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Lots of picture taking happened that night along with a whole lot of delicious pizza eating.

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Best part was the mozzarella demonstration where we each got a huge chunk of fresh, warm mozzarella. Yum!

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I have eaten things other than pizza this month but they weren’t eaten with such an amazing view.

It seems like more often than not every night during the week is booked with a work event, dinner, seeing friends or errands that need to be run. Organizing my room took up a fair amount of that as well. It’s still pretty hot around here so it doesn’t fully feel like fall but I’m looking forward to going apple picking next weekend with a bunch of friends!