Winter Moments to Relish

I’ve been in my new apartment for a little over two months. I must say I’m in love with my place and my neighborhood. I feel as if I live in a different city, yet I’m only twenty-one blocks from my previous living space. My perspective is different on where I live now, as opposed to when I simply visited this part of town on a pretty regular basis. Being immersed in it every day brings unseen elements to light.

unnamed-4

I took a stroll over to Central Park on a recent weekend afternoon. I almost forgot that I am in close proximity to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m also a stone’s throw away from one of my favorite running paths in the park, the Reservoir. Not to mention I’m right near the Great Lawn, where I have fond memories of picnics with friends listening to the Philharmonic during hot summer nights.

Since the weather is a constant state of cold this time of year, I enjoy cozying up in my apartment reading good books and watching endless episodes of Burn Notice on Netflix, my latest TV obsession.

unnamed-1

I truly want to get back into a cooking routine. My schedule has been quite busy work-wise, so rather than stress myself out, I promised myself to keep things light and easy in the kitchen this month. There’s always February for pulling out my cookbooks. I have an idea for keeping things interesting on the daily menu which I will test out next month. I’ll be sure to share details if all is a success, or even if not.

I hadn’t baked in ages and sensed a craving for chocolate cake. This is unlike me as I’m usually vanilla all the way. A box cake caught my eye in the grocery store tonight. I contemplated it for about ten minutes. Then I went for it. Nothing wrong with a little devil’s food cake for no specific reason at all.

unnamed

This past weekend I made headway in the book I’m currently writing. I had a breakthrough moment with a storyline that began to come alive. I wasn’t sure I wanted it to go in the direction it was headed, but who am I to stop my imagination. I’m going to let it run and see where it leads. That is the beauty of fiction. On the flip side, the plot of the book and some of the experiences and characters are actually pulled from real moments of mine in New York.

I saw something that Kara Goucher posted recently that resonated. I always trust myself. I want to be sure I’m always betting on me when it comes to the lifestyle I want to live and the career I want to lead. It’s a good reminder for all of us.

unnamed

Have a great week ahead.

Advertisements

Dream Baby Dream

“Come on, we gotta keep the light burning…”

I woke up this morning without an alarm and it was glorious. I proceeded to the kitchen to make myself breakfast. I promised myself a few weeks ago that I would have more “breakfast in bed” moments on the weekend when possible.

unnamed

Once I was set up back in bed with my tray and laptop, I got myself situated to begin writing more pages of a first novel I’m currently writing. As per usual, I browsed Spotify for the perfect playlist to provide me with background music. I went with the ‘Early Morning Rise’ compilation. The first song to play was “Dream Baby Dream” by Bruce Springsteen. It couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. I like to work on interests outside of my day job to keep me well-rounded. Outside of my job (which I’m lucky enough to adore), writing a book is on the list. Eventually moving down South and embarking on a new adventure could be on the horizon. Another thought is planning a vacation to somewhere I’ve never been in 2014. Becoming a travel writer…now that sounds fantastic.

Dream baby dream.

Home Cook

unnamed-13

I used to cook and bake all of the time for my then boyfriend who preferred to stay unemployed for a living. Boy how times have changed. Have no fear, I’ve grown out of that phase a few years ago. I’m now a realistic human being who knows what she deserves in a partner. But one thing holds true, I like to cook for others and I thoroughly enjoy entertaining. This past holiday I cooked on Christmas with my Dad and my parents and I hosted a dinner party for seven a few days later. It’s a ton of work, but always worth it when all is said and done. It’s a nice feeling seeing the fruits of your labor. Back to the Christmas dinner, it was legitimately inspired from one of the Stuart Woods novels I was reading. The main character was making veal chops and risotto for a lady friend who was visiting.

Prepping dinner

I have a collection of cookbooks with recipes I want to experience. After recently reading Apron Anxiety it’s fueled my fire even more. This was one of my favorite memoirs I’ve read to date.

unnamed-1

Christmas dinner

I think I’ll start small. I’ll make plans to have friends over in the upcoming weeks for dinner. I’ll experiment with recipes on weekends while I’m in town. I’ll keep it light and stress-free. I’ll begin to flag recipes and jot down a running list of necessary ingredients needed for my pantry.

unnamed

Home is where the heart is.

A Start

unnamed-1

I’ve been putting off writing a novel for a few years now. It’s something I’ve yearned to do, but never had an idea of my plot and character development. I always vowed to participate in National Novel Writing Month each year since 2008, but it’s yet to happen. I’m not beating myself up as it is not as if I’ve been sitting around doing nothing for years. I always have plenty of things I would like to accomplish. Sometimes things get pushed to the side to make room for other aspirations. My Mom kept telling me to just start writing a little each day and see what happens. It will come to me. My friend who just finished writing her first novel, which is outstanding by the way, wrote at least 500 words a day. That was the deal she made with herself. So, I finally hunkered down and began writing on Friday, taking account of the advice provided to me. Low and behold, my story came to me after about a paragraph. I suddenly knew what I had to write about.

I’m no fool and realize this will be a long journey and very grueling at times. It takes focus and dedication. I like the idea of writing a little each day and seeing where it leads me. It makes the overall, immense goal feel that much more manageable. I also gave myself a deadline of when I would like to complete my first draft, and you can bet I’ll be toasting with champagne. If I want to be a published author, why not work to become a published author? We should all become what we choose to be in this lifetime. It’s simple a waste not to do so.

Has anyone reading this ever written a book? Is there any advice you would share?

Brunette Ambition

My days over the past holiday week have been filled with home-cooked breakfasts, Billie Holiday on Pandora, hosting a dinner party of seven, reading a great memoir, watching multiple episodes of Burn Notice, laughing with family and new friends alike. Today we’ll take a trip to my favorite beach spot on the Gulf. Moments like these I would like to capture in time.

‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions and fresh starts. I find myself chasing goals and dreams throughout the year. I don’t necessarily save beginnings for the new year only. That being said, I vote for whatever makes people happy and makes them feel good about themselves. We all move to a different beat.

Every year of my life is special and unique. I’m eternally grateful for what my world has to offer me and I constantly take it all in. Even stumbling through hard times always brings us a stronger perspective and sheds light. For 2013, in particular, I tried to pull back and live in the moment when possible. It turned out to be calming and refreshing at the same time.

Facing 2014, I plan to not get in my own way. I would like to become an even more confident a person to unabashedly go after what I want in life. I may have gotten away from that mentality a little over the past few years. After all, there are certain ambitions I hold within. Here’s to making them happen.

Happy New Year.

xo

In Good Company

When I wake early in the morning dreaming of my cup of freshly brewed coffee, the first thing I aim to do is drink a large glass of water. I want to immediately start hydrating my body. Lately while I’ve been away on vacation, I’m also trying to fit in a green juice or smoothie first thing. This way I’ve already treated myself to delicious nutrients to kick-start my day.

This morning’s concoction was thrown together with ingredients available to me: handful of fresh kale, leftover green juice from Whole Foods, heavy splash of coconut milk, a banana, and crushed ice. It was tasty and did the trick.

During this holiday, I’ve been meeting all sorts of new people and reconnecting with family I haven’t seen in years. Upon seeing aunts, uncles, and cousins yesterday, it was as if a day never passed that we’ve been together. Funny how that works, isn’t it? It was a feel good day making me warm and fuzzy inside being able to contribute, give of myself, and help those in need.

In spending time with newer friends of my parents, I’ve selectively picked up words of wisdom that resonated:

See the world while you can now. You can always visit unseen areas in the United States when your older and less mobile.

There will be a time when you’re not single any longer, probably within the next five years. Truly remember to enjoy your freedom. You can workout whenever you choose, cook whatever you want, take a trip whenever the time suits, relocate and go after your dream job without having to consider your partner. Now is the time to relish in the beauty of this freedom. Don’t lose sight and get lost in the grind.

Let the noise go away. Find your quiet place and listen to what your heart tells you. Go where you visualize being rooted in your life. Lean on your networks and get to that next place. There is never a inconvenient time.

Decompressing

I’m fortunate that my family decided to pick up and move to Southwest Florida almost two years ago. It was a strange adjustment at first, as I wasn’t sure how much we would see each other with me living in New York. We are a close family. It turns out we see each other just as much if not more. It has worked out nicely and I’m not one to complain about taking a beach vacation, whether it be for a weekend or a week. We’re always planning some sort of adventure together in Florida, New York or elsewhere. On tap for 2014 may be a trip to Wyoming, marking my first time in that neck of the woods. My main goal is to see a moose or a grizzly bear from afar, very far.

In the meantime, I’m soaking in all of the holiday bliss. This was our first year celebrating Christmas in the warm climate. I adjusted quite well. Sitting poolside and/or beachside is therapeutic. So is cooking together with my parents. Tomorrow my Mom and I are taking a yoga class with this great instructor, Ellen. It’s apparent she is a good soul. Secretly I want to pick her brain about living in the Sunshine State.

Cruel Intentions

View from my hotel

While I was away in Chicago this past Sunday evening, I found myself browsing through the TV stations once I settled in for the night. I came across the movie Cruel Intentions. I hadn’t thought about that film in ages. It came out the year after I graduated college. I remember downloading the soundtrack and listening to it on repeat. It was my anthem for the year 1999. I suddenly became nostalgic just thinking back to that time in my life. Just seven months before I had moved back to New Jersey to live with my family after school and started my first job in the real world. I worked in marketing and event planning for a distributor of IBM. I remember when my boss told me I would be planning my first event and traveling to Orlando for the trade show with the sales team. I was so ecstatic upon arriving home that evening that I actually crashed my car into the side of my parents garage while quickly attempting to park my car before running inside to announce the good news. I could have been described as young, full of life and excited for the unknown adventures laid out in front of me. I didn’t have a fear in the world.

When I’m feeling down about things at any given point, I try to remember that girl and her unabashed excitement. I think it’s important for us to never stop having a certain overzealous attitude for our paths in life. Of course, I am happy that I’m now a woman in my thirties. I don’t regret a second of the youth of my twenties, and can say with full honesty that I’ve always followed my dreams. It feels nice to be comfortable in my own skin and know who I am as a person. Maybe I thought I would have it all figured out by now. But where would be the adventure in that theory?

Back to the movie, this is still my favorite scene after all these years:

A New Home

I recently moved out of an apartment I lived in for nine years. I remember going to see this apartment with a broker before moving in. My mind was filled with endless possibilities and excitement. It was about to be my first apartment in Manhattan. Cut to now and I’m in a new space and a new neighborhood. The adjustment period always takes time. I just left nine years of my life behind.

Slowly but surely I’ve been settling in to the apartment I currently call home. I have an actual bedroom. My previous apartment was a open studio loft. I do enjoy having a bedroom, more than I thought it would matter. Last Saturday I woke up and decided I would have breakfast in bed. It was the perfect luxury and a pleasure to be able to wake up and not have to be somewhere. I need to make this more of a ritual in my routine.

unnamed-2

I only moved approximately twenty blocks north. It’s funny how it seems like a different city altogether. I’ve been exploring what I know will be my go-to places: nail salon, juice bar, coffee shop, dry-cleaners, yoga studio, restaurants, and grocery store to name a few. I enjoy going for walks down my neighboring streets to explore the different exterior building structures. I am still in close proximity to Central Park, which is one of my favorite jewels of the city. I’ve spent numerous hours there and have many fond memories to accompany them.

Here’s to exploring a road yet traveled.

unnamed-2

The Windy City

Greetings from Chicago. I made a quick trip out here today for a meeting commencing bright and early tomorrow morning. I was pleased to see snow flurries falling as our plane was arriving on the runway. It enhances the festive holiday season.

unnamed-1

Aside from making one work-related research pit stop this afternoon, I left myself wide open without a plan. Once I checked into my hotel and settled in, I decided I would take a walk in search of deep dish pizza for lunch. In the lobby I struck up a conversation with the hotel bellman who used to live in New York. He seemed to question why I was interested in pizza when I currently lived in the city who covets the award for the best pie in town. I simply found myself intrigued about tasting this Chicago-style pizza I’ve heard so much about in conversation. He gave in and told me about a neighborhood spot around the corner.

He also suggested I visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. My eyes lit up. No one has to mention the word zoo to me twice. I have a soft spot for every animal on the planet. This probably should warrant me to be a vegetarian. Another story for another day. Within moments of getting directions from Edwin, I was out the door with my newfound afternoon activity. I was bundled up appropriately given the wind chill factor and snow storm happening outside, pausing for a moment during my walk wondering if this was a crazy idea. Maybe I should come back in the summertime for a walk across town and a stroll through the park and the zoo? No, not me. I was seizing the moment.

unnamed-7

After an approximate twenty-five minute very brisk stroll, I reached my destination. The walk over was quiet and serene.

unnamed-2

There was something magical about having the zoo (almost) to myself during the snowfall. I was pleased when I was able to warm up visiting the various animals in their indoor man-made habitats. I snapped a few less-than-desirable photos since I was using my iPhone and there was either glass or bars obstructing my view. I worked with what I had.

I first visited the apes. I always find them to be fascinating creatures. This particular fellow did not find it amusing that I was taking his photo. I was trying to make eye contact with him quite unsuccessfully.

unnamed-3

Next I took a stroll through the cat den.

unnamed-5

This beautiful lady was sticking out her tongue.

unnamed-6

A male lion is always my favorite. This guy was agitated and pacing the entire time. He wanted nothing to do with human visitors. I do understand his frustration. He’s meant to be in the wild, really.

unnamed-4

After the zoo and my research errand, I realized I hadn’t eaten lunch after all and it was nearing dinner time. I decided to stop for deep dish pizza takeout to bring back to my warm and cozy hotel room. Upon returning to the hotel as I was going up on the elevator to the 21st floor, I suddenly glanced at myself in the mirrored wall and thought it would be a good idea to take a selfie of me bundled up to remember this day. As I was fumbling to take my phone out of my purse with my hands full, my floor came and went. The door closed before I could get off and immediately brought me all the way back to the lobby level. This serves me right for trying to take a selfie. At least I had the time on my way back up.

I worked too hard for the photo, so I’m going to share it. Here I am, with my personal deep dish in hand.

unnamed-8