Archive | August, 2012

Ocean front property…for the afternoon

31 Aug

It took ALL summer but I finally got to the beach today!  With my final summer Friday away from the office, a girlfriend and I hopped on the LIRR and made our way to Long Beach armed with nothing more than a beach towel and sunscreen.  I dipped my toes in the ocean between naps (check!), took a few walks along the water, and people watched / gossiped all afternoon.  What a perfect beach day!

Didn’t pin a damn thing Tuesday

28 Aug

I’m taking a brief hiatus from Pinned it Tuesday today.  After being away for the weekend and crawling into bed at 9 pm on both Sunday and Monday night, there was just no pinning to be had at my apartment this week.  Oh, and tonight I attended a phenomenal seven-course  beer dinner instead of actually attempting to cook myself.

Kudos to two of my friends, the culinary masterminds behind this extraordinary dinner.

Now, try not to drool…

Mozzarella Balloon filled with roasted garlic air, Heirloom Tomato, Strawberry Dunkle Balsamic Glaze, Basil Olive Oil (Paired with Weyerbacher Slam Dunkel)

Blue Point Oyster, Lychee Bubbles filled with Sage and Grapefruit Vapors, Fleur de Sel (Paired with Weyerbacher Merry Monks)

Butter Poached Main Lobster, Crenshaw Melon, Lemon Chili Sauce, Nasturtium Flower (Paired with Weyerbacher Verboten)

Confit of Pork, Five Pepper Jelly, Buckwheat Crepe, Basil (Paired with Double Simcoe IPA)

Herbed Colorado Lamb Chop, Vitilette Potato Gnocci, Tomato Fondue, Rosemary Powder (Paired with Tiny)

Saffron Creme Brulee, Coffee Foam, Hazelnut “Marshmallow”

And a jelly doughnut with strawberry soda shot to boot…

So what did YOU have for dinner?

TV, video games, and the world wide what?

26 Aug

Spending time in Shelter Island reminds me of my childhood.  No, not because I grew up clamming or traveling home via ferry but rather because every time I visit, we generally wake up early and spend all day “playing” outdoors.  I remember as a kid waking up early during summer vacations and almost immediately heading outside to play with my brother and our friends.  We ran around the yard, rode bikes, played games, and eventually had to be coaxed back in for dinner each night.  Growing up we never thought to turn on the TV or play video games during the summer; and, growing up in the 80s, I didn’t know anyone who actually had access to the “world wide web” in their home.  Even when it rained, we played made-up games in our converted basement/playroom with our friends  or spent the afternoon at the library with my mother.

In a similar technology-free interest, I was for the most part “off the radar” this weekend in Shelter Island.  I didn’t watch TV or turn on a computer all weekend.  I checked my phone a few times (RIP Neil Armstrong and cue the comment “I didn’t even know he was sick!”) but other than that, it was all friends, outdoor activities, and relaxation.  I’m getting pretty good at this unplugging thing, right?!

Midnight swimming, beer pong, kayaking to the boatyard (and having a cup of coffee with Jim who was in from CT – yes, we can make friends anywhere), clamming, BBQ’ing, sunbathing, vodka slushies, pool volleyball (“Watch out, Misty May coming in!”), an incredible dinner of clams on the half shell, baked clams, and clams linguine (someone didn’t bring their EpiPen…), our live fantasy football draft, biking around the island, and laying poolside.

Here’s a quick glimpse of my latest (seized) opportunity to unplug (check!):

All is right again

24 Aug

Up until yesterday, my week had looked something like this:

Only more painful.

So last night I slipped into leggings and a tee, uncorked a bottle three bottles of wine, and settled in with a friend to scratch Scarface and Casablanca off my movie list.

After sleeping in this morning (wink, wink), I treated myself to unnecessary necessities: a massage and a mani.  And all is right again.


Pinned it Tuesday: baked broccoli macaroni and cheese

21 Aug

Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

  • 12 oz high fiber or whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 tbsp butter (I used light)
  • 1 tbsp light butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup fat free chicken or vegetarian broth
  • 8 oz (2 cups) shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar (I used fat free)
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 12 oz fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Directions: Cook pasta and broccoli together in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions for al dente.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 375°.  In a large, heavy skillet, melt butters.  Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes, add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined.  Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs.  Spray a little more cooking spray on top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.

Key learning: I don’t like broccoli.  I try to like it, and even pretend to like it because I think adults are supposed to, but honestly I just don’t.  To the excitement of my inner 8-year-old, I’m officially giving it up.  

(original recipe here)

A spirited step

19 Aug

When I rounded out my summer bucket list with “Something spontaneous!,” it wasn’t because I needed one more  must-do to make an even 20.  (I live in New York; I can bang out a list like this within minutes!)  What I did want was something, then unknown, that would entice me to try something new and take me out of my comfort zone.  I don’t know exactly what I expected “Something spontaneous!” to ultimately mean however I got my answer this past Friday… with my body harnessed to a zipline hundreds of feet in the air, and my destination barely visible over half a mile away.

But wait, maybe I should back up for just a minute…

As you have heard about a thousand times already (from me), I had the day off.  When a friend suggested we get out of the city and go ziplining, I couldn’t help but think “why not?!” (…and “That sounds spontaneous – check!”)  When the alarm clock went off at 6 am and I hit the snooze button though, I wondered if a 6:30 pick up was really the best way to spend my day off.  I eventually coaxed myself out of bed with about 15 minutes to get my act together before I had to walk out the door.  Quickly shooting the person behind the wheel a text not to use big words before 8 am, I grabbed my bag and headed for the elevator.

Conversation was initially slow; I was half asleep and he was maneuvering us out of the city.  The city eventually gave way to a gorgeous drive and, following a latte the size of my head, we fell into something comfortable until we reached our destination.  Before hopping out of the car I traded my Toms for sneakers I could actually hike in, tucked my work blackberry away, and handed him my iPhone for safe keeping.  Between the crisp, early-morning air and the realization that I had nothing more than chapstick on me, a true sense of unplugging from everything and everyone took over.  And it felt amazing.

In a group of 12, we made our way to the Hunter Mountain Summit Lodge  and  I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into as the off-road vehicle threw us around.  When “Zipline Pilot Training School” started, I really started to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  I had no idea how much of an “extreme thrill” situation I was about to find myself in…

A chill ran the entire length of my body as I took in the absolutely breathtaking view from the top of that mountain.  Equally relevant, I began to understand the full magnitude of what we were about to do.   My hands began to sweat when I realized that no matter how much I strained my eyes, I couldn’t see our destination platform which was on another mountain over 3200 feet away.  The “zzzzzzzhhh” of the actual line as two of our guides zipped across only elevated my uncertainty.  They quickly became smaller and smaller specks in the air, eventually disappearing entirely.  I just could not imagine how I was going to find the nerve to take the “spirited step” necessary to launch myself off that platform.  And if I did, could I easily get myself into the required cannonball position?  Would I pick up enough speed to get across?  Would that latte stay down?  (Unsightly, yes, but I actually thought it!)  And if I did pick up enough speed, would I be able to slow down as I approached the opposite mountaintop?  Would I lose a finger in the block-stopping contraption that awaited me on the other side?  (Jeez, and when exactly did ziplining become a metaphor for the greater uncertainty that is my life?!)

Like many things in my life, stubbornness and a competitive streak won out.  I told this person standing on a mountaintop next to me that I would go zipling and I was going to jump…err, sorry “step spiritedly.”  (That and the 4-hour hike down the mountain should I choose to back out sounded about as much fun as that 6 am alarm…)  Then we heard the words, “3…2…1…zip away!”  Within a split second, now or never became now.

Not fully appreciating that I would be 300 feet above the ground within three seconds of my spirited step, I took a deep breath and just went for it.  And it was incredible!  On that first side-by-side zipline we reached almost 50 mph and peaked 600 feet above the valley!   Quickly getting my body into the cannonball position, I set aside my concern about making it across; I was flying.  Treetops sped by; silence took over except for the sound of the vibrating line; wind was converging on me from every angle.  I quickly loosened my grip and allowed myself to relax and take in the experience, which is ultimately just indescribable.

Slightly spontaneous, right?!

At the second platform I was still shaking but it wasn’t from nerves anymore; excitement and adrenaline dominated  A total of five lines, ultimately soaring across a combined 4.6 miles of zipline (plus a 500 foot burma bridge!) and…..well, CHECK!

(And for the record, because I of course made a competition of it, I crossed three of the five ziplines first!  He’ll tell you he earned extra points for style and sheer “awesomeness” but I was watching said “awesomeness” from the ground.  Oh, and I may or may not have yelled “See ya, sucker!” as I sped by on the third line.  I’m such a lady sometimes…)

The pictures don’t do this experience justice but here’s a glimpse:

So, something spontaneous and out of my comfort zone?  Well, if you’ve been paying attention to pronouns you know I went ziplining with a guy.  Yes, this guy.  Yes, the guy my mother recently referred to as “I’ve heard that name more than once.”

I was still harnessed on the final zipline when we decided our nerves were in dire need of a beer.  At a little dive in Hunter, my hand continued to shake with adrenaline each time I picked up that coveted beer.  To my competitive relief, so did his.  It took a few beers and a bit of initial dancing around a discussion we had unexpectedly had earlier that week, but we eventually settled in for a really great afternoon.  There’s something to be said about being hours outside the city with the hustle of it all the farthest thing from your mind.  And, for myself, there’s something to be said about taking that spirited step- on and off the zipline.

Something spontaneous

17 Aug

As soon as my hands stop shaking from the adrenaline rush, I’ll blog about the leap I took earlier today.  Cue the double entendre…

PS: In my head, I obviously looked something like this: