Monday, October 31, 2011

on new beginnings.

champagne is the best send off.
this past weekend was my friend amy's last one in town. she's off to houston, where her fiancee lives, to find a new job, a new home, a new life.
amy and i first became friends in nyc. during our first year of school together she kept a small group of friends. her boyfriend lived far away, and she rarely went out. i have a distinct memory of her answering a question in one of our classes, sweater tied over her shoulders, pearls gleaming. she was, i thought, not my cup of tea. and, i assumed, i wasn't hers. so the year continued. we never spoke, probably never though much of one another. just another classmate.
shortly before the fourth of july, in the first half of my summer internship, i got an e-mail from amy. a girl who i have rarely said boo to. she wanted to know if i was going to be around that weekend, would i be going out, could she join. it was going to be my only weekend off all summer, so with a shrug and a perplexed smile, i e-mailed her back and said, sure, why not. i was going out with a couple of other classmates, also in nyc for the summer, who weren't abandoning the city that weekend. amy arrived with wine and cupcakes, and we talked for a few hours before heading out. i heard about how she recently broke up with her boyfriend. how she avoided meeting new people because she thought she was being loyal. how she regretted it. but mostly we laughed. about our jobs. about new jersey. about all the things we would do when we went back to nashville. by the time we had our first alabama slammer at the bar, we were inseparable. we went back to nashville, attached at the hip, and in march i will stand by her side as she marries that boy she's moving to texas for.
amy said that when she told her mom how lonely she was that summer, and her mother encouraged her to e-mail me, she balked at the thought. we weren't friends. we never talked. i'd think she was weird. and her mother said
"amy - to have a friend, you have to be a friend."
and with those words, amy e-mailed me, and a whole new chapter of our lives began. she put aside her anxieties and put herself out there. because that's the thing about new beginnings. sometimes we have to do more than meet them halfway. sometimes we've got to meet them all the way. i know amy is nervous about going to texas. i know she's scared that she hasn't found a job yet. i know she's nervous about where she's going to live. about how it's all going to work out. but maybe, it's like her mother said, to have a friend, you have to be a friend. well, to have a new beginning, you gotta be the new beginning.
all in.

"Fear plays an interesting role in our lives. How dare we let it motivate us. How dare we let it into our decision making. Into our livelihoods. Into our relationships. It’s funny isn't it? We take a day a year to dress up in costume and celebrate fear." -- The Office

Thursday, October 27, 2011

on a halloween costume.

so i'm not that into halloween. it's not that i don't love it. as a both a kid and ad adult, it's a fabulous holiday. you dress up, eat lots of candy, and now go to parties with adult beverages. wonderful. really, i'm just waiting for it to be over so i can start playing christmas music and feel a little less guilty. so it always kind of falls to the back of my mind, and here i am again. no costume. (my only idea is leslie knope, and it's basically wear what i wear everyday to work). my favorite costume, worn four (!) years ago, was that of an irish lass. not too hard for me to pull off.
picture has been cropped to protect the innocent.
since then i have been a devil, a cowgirl, and a cop. most of these aren't internet appropriate.
except the cowgirl, which wasn't a costume.
i was working a hundred hours a week,
so i just put on a plaid shirt and cowboy boots
and went to my friend's apartment for 30 minutes
so i could stop feeling dead on the inside.
and then i went back to work.
so. i'd like to hear from you dear readers. what are you going to be this year? do you come up with new and exciting ideas every year? any suggestions for me? i've already gotten margot from the royal tenenbaums, and i kind of like it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

on my first dish.

i have wanted to share this recipe with ya'll for a long time. see, it's not just any old recipe. it holds a tiny little piece of my heart. this was the first dish i ever cooked that i made a real effort for, back as 19-year-old colleen in college. i bought a bag, a whole bag(!), of frozen peas (what does a girl do with all those peas?!) i scoured the shelves for arborio rice. i sliced an onion, and as any novice would, it took me twenty minutes. so this recipe means something to me. let's start with the ingredients of the one, the only, red wine risotto.
but of course, we're missing the real star of the show - the red wine. the best varietal to use is amarone - found in any italian section of your wine store. you can always keep the wine out if that creates don't/can't drink wine. don't worry. i'll drink your share.
as the years have gone on, i have perfected making this dish. i don't read the recipe before starting. i don't need it written it down. i know it by heart. it doesn't take me twenty minutes to cut the onion anymore. i've made it for many people i've loved, some still here, some gone on from my life. but everytime i make it i go back to my college kitchen, fumbling my way through my first recipe without my mom to assist.
my favorite part of the recipe is putting in the garlic before toasting the rice in the pan. it smells ah.mah.zing. it's the best thing in the world. all these years, and i still wait for that part with bated breath.
as you add in the wine and stock you'll know it's time to add in more once the rice starts sticking to the pan. this is the first sign that the liquid is evaporated and absorbed. after all the stock is done, it's time to add the peas and parm. and, as i learned back in college, frozen peas, rice, parm and wine all keep. when you want to make this just remember to pick up some stock and an onion. if you don't have garlic and butter permanently in your kitchen and on your grocery shopping list - yikes. get it together.
enjoy your dinner with a nice glass of amarone, and call it a night. i promise this is one dish you will make over and over again. i know i have.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

on pasta carbonara.

i'd like to think that the one benefit you can get out of reading this old thing is that i have an italian mother. and through my italian mother can come lots of italian recipes and tips.
i'd *like* to think that. it's not true, but whatevs. i'll keep thinking of it.
so i present to you, pasta carbonara, based off of this (old standard around here) food and wine recipe. the typical cast of characters are found below.
and the starring guest: a cup of cream. traditional pasta carbonara is not made with cream. ever. ev. ah. so we're getting weird here by adding it in. and also upsetting my mother. killing two birds with one stone. but i wanted to rebel and try a carbonara with cream, so without further ado, let's saute pancetta.
pancetta, or any thinly sliced meat (prosciutto, mortadella, etc.), is very hard to cut into cubes. trader joe's sells cubed pancetta - look for it at your local grocery store. if it's nowhere, just buy normal bacon and cube that. while still a bit frustrating (fat doesn't cut cleanly like muscle, and most of bacon is fat), it's much easier to cut since it's thicker, vs. a thin slice of pancetta. also, ask your butcher for help. in case you didn't know, your butcher is your best friend. use him or her extensively for help or questions. best. resource. ever.
now, let's get creamy after adding the garlic and shallot. i know. exciting stuff. keep it in your pants people. (also, i used linguine because i had no bucatini. bucatini is basically a hollowed out piece of spaghetti, so any thicker noodle will do). 
and then the finished product. with a cream-based sauce it's important to keep, and add, those few tablespoons of pasta water (we've talked about the starch left in pasta water and how it helps). mix the pasta in the skillet with cream, than transfer to the large, empty pot in which you cooked the pasta. add in water, yolks, parm and pepper - swirl with vigor. then, when you spoon it out into bowls or plates, leftover sauce that couldn't find it in itself to stick to a noodle is left behind. this creates a non-soupy plate of of pasta, in case you were worried about adding in the pasta water.
and now you have the best dinner ever. pasta carbonara is a great, old school, heart-warming recipe to try in the depths of winter. and if i'm making it in october, imagine what i do in february.

Monday, October 24, 2011

on my weekend in pictures.

big weekend here guys, big weekend.
obviously, that's a lie.
saturday found me heading to jersey early in the morning for the bridal shower.
the shower was very italian. and very jersey. this warmed my little sequin loving heart, of course. sunday morning i found myself at the gym as i am a glutton for torture, and therefore i rewarded myself all day long. first, the pound of sushi i had for lunch.
followed by a pound of pasta carbonara (recipe coming tomorrow), on one of my new(!) vintage plates.
as this was not enough to replenish me, i really brought it home with dessert. i present, pumpkin ice cream sprinkled with chocolate covered potato chips.
did i just blow your mind? i'm sure i did. give yourself a minute. relax. compose yourself. and then head to tradee joe's and pick up both of these items, immediately.
so, like i said, big weekend. hope yours was as delicious.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

on dreary weather.

trying to be positive in the face of adversity.
today was pretty dreary in nyc. and it got me thinking of a story i could tell you. of when the weather was also dreary.
naturally, ohio came up.
now i know we're all from different places and have different feelings and opinions about our homes. and some of you may be from ohio. so i won't exactly say what i think of ohio. but let's review the facts, shall we?
at the beginning of my second year in grad school, we decided to take a boys and girls trip to ohio. a car filled with boys. a car filled with girls. one boy was from ohio and we were going to do fun things like go to put-in-bay and ride roller coasters at cedar point. it was ambitious, i'll admit, but we were just kids with dreams. what actually happened was:
it rained the whole time
one cab driver drove a large van, and his seat was held in place by bungee cords because of his size
the other cab we found at put-in-bay was a powder blue limo from the 1980's, and hadn't been cleaned since that time
a man wearing a t-shirt saying "single-ish" tried to spank me with a paddle
i lost my license (see picture. i happened to have my passport on me. only me folks, only me.)
a tornado hit on the way home
we ran out of gas
the financial system collapsed
ok. fine. ohio is not responsible for the last one. but still. today may have been dreary. but it was not that dreary. i feel better, don't you?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

on a fall bridal shower outfit.

so it has finally arrived. the last wedding event of the year. a bridal shower. my favorite.
wink wink. nudge nudge.
i'm headed to jersey on saturday for this wonderful affair, where i will eat enough italian food to make the trip worth it. however, i have been having difficulty coming up with an outfit. i feel like i have many more night dresses than day dresses in my winter wardrobe. let's be fun and call them lady of the night dresses. you know, to make mom proud.
i'm trying to put together an outfit and scouring the sale racks, but we don't have to live in reality on the internetz and deal with things like "budgets", so let's have some fun. if i could wear anything, no matter the cost, it would be one of these outfits. i think they would make victoria beckham proud, which, let's face it, is pretty much my number one goal in life.
fall bridal shower

1. Zac Posen pleated dress - $1,850 -
2. Dorothy Perkins red dress - £30 -
3. Christian louboutin pumps - £495 -
4. Giuseppe Zanotti high heels - $695 -
5. Yves saint laurent handbag - €1.498 -
6. Yves Saint Laurent envelope clutch - $645 -

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

on being morbid.

heeeeeeey ya'll! i'm back!!! did you miss me? i missed you. so. much.
these past few days have been hectic with work and travel, along with a friend staying with me last minute on sunday. aaaaaaaaaaand since my blog is a secret (except to you!), no posting happened.
now, this worried me for a hot minute. a very, very, hot minute. because when one of you doesn't post for a day, and i'm a daily reader, by about 5'o'clock i'm pretty sure you're dead. you've usually perished in a car accident, in case you'd like to know. and since your husband, or boyfriend, or roommate, doesn't know the password to your blog, we'll never know what happened. i really do get a little upset and anxious. no need to hide how type a i am here. it is my blog. and then the next day you post about, like, how ohmygod fall is like ohmygod so amazing and ohmygod did you see the leaves and ohmygod lattes.
and then i feel better.
but don't feel weird - this happens in all areas of my life. when i text the boy and he doesn't text back in like, give or take ten minutes, he's dead too. also a car accident. i suppose living in the city makes me think that the only reason someone would be unavailable is a car accident. i know you didn't just lose signal in the subway. amiright?
so, sooooooooo, you can imagine my joy when a daily reader reached out to me to make sure i was ok. because let's face it people, i post everyday like clockwork. and no posting on friday or monday should cause some worry. it looks like my readers have a morbid streak, just like me. and she was basically like, hey, i wanted to make sure you're ok, and that, like, nothing drastic happened with your tit or something.
oh man, i was so happy. you guys worry about me AND my tits! could a girl ask for more?
anyways, i'm proud to report that i am fine and my tatas are still hanging in there and doing their best to fill a small to medium-sized bra.
now, shall we look at the things i ate this weekend?!
we shall!
pumpkin pancakes. i know you guys love this stuff.
spaghetti with clams!!!!
gnocchi!!!! carbs dominated the weekend.
in other news, i got an iphone. this blog is about to cray cray. i hope ya'll are ready.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

on long-awaited moments.

it's kind of been wedding week around here. i'm a little sorry about that, but then again it's my blog, so i suppose i'm allowed to do whatever i want. and here we are.
when katey and i grew up, we rarely talked about our future weddings. we weren't really those girls. but what we did know is that we would be one another's maid of honor. and i'll admit, i thought about that a lot. helping her get dressed. arranging her train and veil. giving her a speech. i couldn't wait. these were moments i really wanted to remember and savor once they got here, which is the funny thing about weddings. you plan them for months, maybe a year, and the day goes by just as quickly as the other ones. it doesn't stop, waiting for you to take it all in, it just keeps on going. so as i got katey into her dress, and arranged her train at the back of the cathedral, and gave my speech, i kept telling myself to embrace the moment and live it as fully as possible. sometimes our lives changes so quickly in little moments that we're not able to fully remember, that when we can be conscious of the significance, it helps.
how do you hold onto your moments? and which ones meant the most to you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

on my tunes.

via here.
i love dead jazz singers. there. i said it. as if you didn't already know that, but at least i have formally acknowledged it. and every now and then i'm going to plug them. so this time it's eva cassidy. perhaps i have special place in my heart for her since she's from the d.c. area, but either way she is amazing. she was starting to get big, really about to make it, when she got ovarian cancer and quickly passed away. and along came norah jones and no one every really heard that much about eva. perhaps you know her song used in "love actually" (which i'm about to start watching again!)? perhaps you don't? but i'm here to tell you she's amazing. and i would start with "you take my breath away" or "i know you by heart". either of those will hook you.
have you heard about eva? or have some new music to pass on that you feel is underrated?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

on my best friend's wedding.

and finally, some pictures. lots and lots of pictures!
the beautiful bride in her amazing dress.
philadelphia basilica.
walking down the aisle!
man. and. wife.
walking back up as a mrs.
cake topper from etsy, of course.
cake time.
ladies from virginia with the mother of the bride.
i hope you all enjoyed the photos, and thank you for your comments yesterday. i love ya'll too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

on getting to know you.

i'm sorry i didn't post on friday, but i was running around getting all sorts of stuff done for the wedding. luckily, i have quite the story for you.
the more you read a blog, and the more one writes, readers get a truer sense of who the person behind the keyboard is. and i prefer to think of myself as someone who always, always, has my friends' backs and doesn't bite her tongue when put in a spot to defend them. so to all the people who read this blog everyday and comment - if someone messes with you, now you know where to go. right here.
so without further ado, here's a story that should give you a sense of the type of person i am.
on saturday night, as the speeches began, so did the cat-calling. and the heckling. from the groom's very inebriated brother. as the bride's father struggled to give his touching welcoming speech over the din he was creating, i told a bridesmaid next to me that i wasn't sure i'd be able to hold my tongue if he was still yelling during my speech.
when my turn finally came, and i started my speech, it was going really well - the bride was crying, other people in the audience were tearing up, and i was still keeping my composure. all the time the groom's brother had been yelling a few things here and there, but then, right as i was about to bring it home, he yelled "let's go flyers." and before i knew it, i turned and said
"dude. shut the fuck up."
the place erupted into cheers. even the priest was clapping. to say the least, the rest of the speech went off without a hitch.
and that, my internet friends, is my best story from this weekend. pictures to follow tomorrow. and other stories that don't involve quite so much colorful language.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

on risks.

taken on the move from philly to nashville.
the biggest, craziest thing i have ever done with my life was move to nashville. the spring before i graduated from college, i toured law schools in california. by fall i was studying for the gmat and applying to business school. actually, i only applied to one business school. it was that one school, and nothing else. i did all of this for a boy. we had finally decided that after years of toying with the idea, we should be together.
i saw him twice after moving to nashville.
i moved to nashville for him. i moved to nashville because after not going there for college, i promised my 17-year-old self i would. (and i actually followed through.) i moved to nashville because i had to be anywhere but philadelphia. i moved to nashville because i was young, and free, and i could.
since my years in nashville, and the ones following, my life has been filled with pinch-me moments. brought on by jobs, people, cities, travel, and pretty much anything else in between. moments where i have felt so lucky and fulfilled and giddy and happy. and i wonder - what if i didn't move to nashville? what if i never met that boy? what if i never promised myself i'd go there? what if i never told myself, you've got nothing to lose?

" Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." -- Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

on the neighborhood.

completely irrelevant picture. it's just awesome. picture and video via here.
after living in a new york for a few years, probably one of my favorite things is feeling like a part of my neighborhood. when you first move here you wonder - will i know my neighbors? will anything stay consistent? will anything feel familiar? and as more time goes on you find that you become a regular. at very specific times and in very specific places, you see the same people and they see you. sometimes neighborhoods in nyc can last a block. sometimes, even that block is filled with different neighborhoods, a different one occurring every hour. eventually you find out who the regulars are, you become one yourself, and you start to feel more at home everyday. it's not just the suburbs that breed familiarity.
my favorite regular in my neighborhood is a man and his bulldog. when i come home from work, depending on the time, they are doing either one of two things.
they smoke a cigar outside their apartment building. the owner is a new yorker, through and through. italian, tan, yankees fan, waiting to talk to the next person who will strike up a conversation with him. he sits on the ledge outside his building, smoking his daily cigar, and his bulldog sits up on the ledge next to him, as if he was just another old pal.
later in the evening, they move down to the tiny italian restaurant around the corner from me. the owner always sits at the last table on the left, outside, and his dog always sits on a chair. just another guest at the table. the owner drinks a glass of red, maybe has some dinner. his trusty old bulldog just sits in his chair, watching everyone walk by. today, just like me, the bulldog was wearing his first coat of the season, announcing the official arrival of fall.
i love this man and his bulldog. they are my regulars, my neighbors, my familiar. the daily nod we share knows we're both in on the secret that we're not just passing through. this isn't just some random street, or some random restaurant that we've happened upon. it is, in this big mess of a city, our home. and we love it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

on a fall harvest recipe.

another one from food and wine, and a perfect way to use all the wonderful vegetables that fall gives us. it called a layered vegetable casserole, and we've got three main ingredients.
the hardest thing about this recipe is all the slicing and dicing you have to do. and since we can all cut vegetables, i presume, that means it's pretty easy. slice up two eggplants and three zucchinis, which you roast in the oven.
you can roast them at the same time, unless your oven is literally - - a quarter of the size of a regular oven. then you have to do it in two batches. like i did.
while they're roasting, saute a shallot or two for a few minutes, and then saute the diced tomatoes with the shallot for a couple more minutes. to put the dish together i used a bigger pan than the recipe calls for so i had fewer layers. one layer of eggplant, then a layer of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, a layer of zucchini, and then the rest of the tomato, mozzarella and basil before topping with bread crumbs. and yes, i used mozzarella instead of feta because all cheese is disgusting except for like two kinds. and one of them is mozzarella.
and twenty minutes later it came out delicious, hot and wonderful.
this dish is great for a light dinner, or paired with a side of pasta for something heartier.
i will absolutely be eating this as long as these three are sold at my farmer's market. a perfect way to warm up at the end of the day from the chill that has officially come to new york.

Monday, October 3, 2011

on clinton st. bakery.

clinton st. bakery is quite famous in new york. it's known for it's pancakes and biscuits, and after being lauded by everyone from martha stewart to bobby flay, the wait for a table is usually between one to two hours. after living in new york for two and half years, i decided this past saturday was finally the day to go and just get it over with.
we put our name in and were told the wait would be 90 minutes. just what we expected, so we took some time to wander the lower east side, checking out the different restaurants and little boutiques. by the time we got back we were down to thirty minutes. and by the time we were seated i was officially crazy with hunger. blueberry pancakes for me...
served with maple butter, which is so much better than maple syrup.
and huevos rancheros for him.
and let me tell you - wow. this place is amazing. i'm not sure if i'd ever say waiting 90 minutes for something was worth it, but i can confidently say this is. the pancakes are to die for. the huevos rancheros was incredibly tasty - the salsa was great, the guacamole was tasty, the chorizo was fantastic. the side of bacon was some of the best bacon in the city. how does one place do all of these so well? the anticipation was completely worth it.
this is easily one of the best brunches in the city. if you come prepared to wait with a willingness to wander around the neighborhood for a bit, your efforts will pay off. definitely no hype here as everything was fantastic. as opposed to being something i had to cross off the list, i know i will be coming back here many times.
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