Archive | October, 2012

Harlem globetrotting

26 Oct

I was in an unusual and uncommon place (for me) this past weekend; boarding the 4 train at Grand Central.  The last time I found myself in a subway station was Labor Day weekend for a “trip” downtown to walk the Brooklyn Bridge (“for mom!”…on my summer bucket list).  Yes, I realize that this was over six weeks ago, and a long period of time in a city that runs on public transportation…but you’re digressing…

Anyway, this past weekend I headed uptown to meet a girlfriend at 125th and Lenox for brunch and a neighborhood scavenger hunt in Harlem.

First up – much to our surprise as there was only a 20 minute wait for a table and we had expected at least an hour – was brunch at Red Rooster.  We lucked out with an absolutely gorgeous, sunny fall day, and the perfect outdoor table for two.  After repeatedly catching pesky bees in our cups of coffee, we refocused our efforts on a pitcher of white peach sangria and warm cornbread with honey butter and tomato jam.  Oh. My. God.

My girlfriend and I were definitely seated next to the most popular table in the place- next to chef and owner Marcus Samuelsson (not that I knew who he was, awkward…).  After watching several people ask the famous chef for a picture, my girlfriend and I finally figured it out (several of you are probably rolling your eyes at me, horrified that I actually had to – gasp! – google Marcus Samuelsson…)

Now, I’m sure that Marcus Samuelsson will agree that even he played second fiddle to the heavenly dishes that escaped his kitchen.  My girlfriend and I contemplated the many possibilities for brunch before finally settling on two dishes to share, both of which were phenomenal: bunny chowder, which was lamb stew on a sesame bun with ricotta and fried egg; and hearth baked mac & greens with gouda, New York cheddar, comte.  Delicious!

By the time we (tried to) finish both plates, and made our way to the bottom of the sangria pitcher, we were in dire need of a long post-brunch stroll.  As we waited to pay the bill, my girlfriend received our first clue from Stray Boots, which coordinates interactive, self-guided scavenger hunts in New York neighborhoods and other major cities.  For the next few hours we were sent clues and challenges, and had to solve riddles, take pictures and answer trivia with our phones.  The clues took us to points of history and interest in Harlem and provided tidbits about the location after each solve.  So off we went to count the number of rings Sammy Davis Junior wore in his picture at the Apollo; to discover the color of the “Nile” fragrance sold by multiple street vendors along 125th; to uncover the name of the artist who created a beautiful outdoor tile mural; to determine the youth sport played on the field at Marcus Garvey park; to check out the iconic Lenox Lounge which first opened in 1939 and is one of the only original art deco buildings in New York City.

Next up, our afternoon of “discoveries” clearly deserved a beer!  We headed over to Harlem Tavern on 116th and Fredrick Douglas Blvd, just four blocks from my first post-grad school apartment on 112th and Fredrick Douglas.  The tavern, and many other shops, restaurants, and condos, were new to my former ‘hood but I still saw remnants of the area circa 2007….but damn, that tavern would have been key!  Oktoberfest for everyone!

Still full from brunch, which was made even worse by several pints of Oktoberfest, I decided to walk my Harlem globetrotting ass home.  I made my way without even realizing it through my other former ‘hood, the Upper East Side.  I felt a slight pang as I made my way across town on 86th Street.  But in case you’re thinking it’s because of that, PUH-lease.  Seriously though, Sephora, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Fairway, Shake Shack, Pinkberry all opened blocks from my UES apartment after I left the ‘hood?!!  I guess some thing really aren’t meant to be!


Pinned it Tuesday: homemade lip gloss

23 Oct

I’m perfectly content with several very inexpensive lip glosses and balms (Eos, Burt’s Bees…the list goes on) but with only three ingredients (the fourth is optional), I thought this homemade concoction might be worth a “pinned it” try.

Homemade Lip Gloss

  • 1/4 cup fresh berries (the original recipe called for raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries but also suggested cranberries, which is what I used)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 drops vitamin E (optional—it’s apparently good for moisturizing lips, but I didn’t have any)

Directions: Bring ingredients to a boil, smashing the berries as they heat up (be careful as the oil will “spit” if you let it get too hot – ouch!).  Allow to boil for about 5 minutes, let cool, and strain fruit seeds/skin.  Easy!

This gloss is actually perfect for a quiet evening in with a man friend…it gives your lips a slight hint of color without the obvious try (aka color and shine of your usual lipstick/gloss)…and if you decide you’re not in the mood to talk, it has a great natural berry flavor.  Wink, wink.

(original recipe here)

Good lord, HOW is it Monday already?

22 Oct


Hello, first day of my work week.  I guess.

MY new pillow

21 Oct

Technically it was my mom’s but as one of our girlfriends will tell you, “possession is 9/10’s of the law.”  So when my mom kept losing track of her my pillow on a trip a few weeks back, my new best friend took it and sent it to me!  She knows I’m more responsible with Buffalo Bills pillows anyway.

(At least I have something to cry into after today’s game…)

Unexpected pieces of my past

19 Oct

Every now and then I find random pieces of my past floating around, often in the form of a note or small gift that at the time was just too painful to deal with.  Instead I had tucked it into a box, or drawer, or some other “secret” hiding place (pretty much whatever was immediately available before the waterworks started…) until I was ready to appreciate it.  The problem with this strategy of course is that I have absolutely no idea where these items are (or that they even exist for that matter!)…so they stay hidden until I accidentally stumble across them.  Most recently it was this short note, which I think I probably received in June or July of 2010 (with lord knows what) but that slipped out of a folder of old student loan statements a few days ago.


Fun to run into you last month.  You look beautiful and happy.  The right guy is going to be be very lucky!

– E”

For the record, I was still living on the UES when I ran into “E”, which means it had been at most six weeks since my engagement ended.  NO SHOT I looked happy or beautiful when she saw me.  But it was a lovely note nonetheless…

Separately…IT’S FRIDAY, YOU GUYS!!

Pinned it Tuesday: spinach lasagna rolls

16 Oct

Lately I’ve really been trying to bring my own lunch to work (for a few reasons but mostly because it physically pains me to fork over $12 for a salad).  Anyway, this recipe seemed like a good idea because it’s easy, fat-free/low-fat ingredients can be substituted, and it can be frozen for future individual meals (have you ever tried to cook for just one person?!)  Enjoy!

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked (I used whole wheat noodles)
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used reduced fat)
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz tomato sauce
  • 9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.  Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles.  Make sure noodles are dry.  Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle.  Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish.  Repeat with remaining noodles.  Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese.  Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts.

And I’m bringing back Pinned It Tuesday key learnings!

1.  In cooking lasagna noodles for the first time (yes, you heard that correctly), they’re definitely more “delicate” than I expected.  Unfortunately not every noodle survived the boil and drain process.

2.  Set a timer!  I may have baked my lasagna rolls for 52 minutes instead of 40 minutes.  Hey, I was watching TV and drinking wine.  I’m not a miracle worker.

3.  I truly will never learn to follow directions.  The recipe calls for 32 oz of pasta sauce, a lot of which is for when you actually serve the lasagna rolls.  Nope, instead I just dumped all that sauce into the baking pan and threw it in the oven.  I say this way more than I should when I cook, but “oops.”

Oh well, I’ll just keep repeating this mantra to myself:


(original recipe here)

Don’t deny it

15 Oct

If you’re female and live in the city don’t even try to deny it.  You know you’re guilty.  We all are.  We play the female card and conscientiously flirt with men in certain roles considered crucial to our day-to-day strictly to get something out of them.  For one of my girlfriends it’s with the guy behind the salad counter at her favorite deli spot; she charms her way into extra avocado every single time.  For another it’s the extra shot of espresso in her morning cup of joe at one of our local coffee joints, compliments of her perfected hair toss of course.  One of my colleagues spent a year on her “come hither” look because, quite frankly, she doesn’t want to wait in line for a bagel when she’s hungover and already late for work.  And in yet another instance, we’re all a bit touchy with the bouncer at our favorite sports bar because it gets us priority attention, friends through the door after the bar reaches max capacity, and seriously…what line?  And come on, let’s not forget about the cable guy.

Recently I found a new target…and have been smiling just so at the 50-year-old man who is in charge of flowers at the bodega on 38th and 2nd.  Flowers from a florist in the city are so expensive and well, sometimes a girl needs to treat herself or a friend.  So I like to visit my bodega boyfriend, select three or four simple $5 or $6 bouquets, and flirt with him just enough that he doesn’t think twice when I  ask him to take each bunch apart and create a lovely arrangement for me.  Wala!