Discovering What Really Matters

Hello loyal followers, it's been a long time since I've written. In some ways, I've missed the blog but in others the break felt right.

I'm back today to share a not so great update. Over the last several weeks I have been going through one of the toughest times in my life. I've debated whether or not to share my feelings about this experience on the blog and have even opened a new page several times, written a few sentences only to delete them and close the window.

On May 9th 2015, my grandma had a stroke. While to some this might not seem monumental, to me it has turned my world upside down.

A little backstory... my parents had a very difficult time having children. They went through many miscarriages, a lot of tears and some doubt before I came along. A few months after I was born, my parents decided to have another baby (cue: Dori!) but in order to do so my mom was told she would be on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. Since my sister and I are only 21 months apart, that meant she had a one year old to look after while not being able to move around. Enter, my grandma. For 9 months she did everything with me. Took me to mommy and me, played with me, took me sledding for the first time (we've got video evidence to prove this and let me tell you, I was not a coordinated snow bunny in the early years), and much more. Even after Dori was born our bond remained. When I was 5 years old we moved a mile and a half from her house and nearly every day, we did something together. She was at every family dinner, every school assembly, every swim meet, lacrosse game and birthday party. She picked me up from school, we had sleepovers, she came to visiting day at camp and even to college my first few years. There is not a single life event that I can think of where my grandma has not been there. As I prepare for my biggest life event yet, my wedding, it seems unthinkable that she won't be there, at least not in the way I wanted her to be.

As I've grown from a child to a teenager to a college graduate to someone in her late 20's, my relationship with my grandma has remained constant: she's been my best friend, my rock, and frankly the only person in the world who has always known what to say to make me feel better. No matter how bad of a day I was having, what kind of fight I had gotten into with my mom or with a friend or with Josh most recently, she was always there with her sweet, singsong voice telling me it would be ok. About 3 years ago she and my grandpa sold their house in White Plains and moved to Florida full time (see the related post here) and while it was a difficult transition, even then our relationship remained. We emailed about everything from boys, to work, to diets (we were always scheming) and talked on the phone multiple times per week. I flew to Florida every several months and tried to maximize the time we had together. While somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I wouldn't have her forever, I don't think I ever really believed (or wanted to believe) that the day would come when she would be gone, or different than she had been.

About a year and a half ago my family started noticing little slips, she'd forget a birthday, be late sending a card (something she NEVER was) or get confused about the day of the week. She seemed to stop emailing and had more trouble with technology than she had the year before. She was approaching 90 so we chalked it up to old age but somewhere deep down, we knew something wasn't right. For the last year, she has had several falls and has been having more and more difficulty maintaining a cohesive conversation. She knew something was wrong and was on a quest to find out what it was. She had been going to specialist after specialist trying to figure out why her balance was off and why she "didn't feel right". Everyone in our family listened to her and tried to help her figure out what was wrong, but we didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle. What we know now is that she was probably having small TIA's, warning signs, and that some time in 2014 she had a mini stroke.

Now, as I sit here on June 16th 2015, one month and 6 days after hearing my sister say "Grandma had a stroke" I can honestly say I'm beside myself. I'm living a new reality. A reality in which my grandma cannot walk and cannot talk. I've been down to visit twice and while she's definitely still in there; the happy, bossy, caring, knows how to do everything better than anyone, grandma I remember, is gone. The therapists tell us that in time we will see more and more come back, but it's hard to see and honestly, hard to believe. We have to stay positive for her, which we do, but every morning, I wake up sad. Every morning I'm reminded of the reality and every morning I wish I could close my eyes and make it go away. The hardest thing has been the suddenness and finality of it all. The last time we spoke, she was normal. She was talking and asking questions. We were planning for my wedding and looking to the future. And then in an instant, that was taken from me. In the aftermath I find myself asking the same questions over and over again. Why her? Why us? Why now? I know it's a normal reaction and while everyone has told me this is life, this is natural, these things happen, I can't help but blame myself. What more could I have done, why didn't I see it, why didn't I save her? I don't think I'll ever get the answers to those questions.

The *good* news is that my grandma is now home, after 10 days in the hospital and 3 weeks in rehab she is back in her own familiar environment with her husband of 68 years. She seems to be making small amounts of progress, although it feels a bit like two steps forward, one step back.  She doesn't want to eat and is extremely sad. While I wish she would perk up and decide to fight, can I blame her? I'm extremely sad too. Not a day has gone by since May 10th that I haven't cried, broke down at work, on the subway, at the grocery store, on the phone (totally appropriate places) and felt utterly broken.

This is the first time in my life I've had to go through a loss like this and it's taught me a lot. It's made me empathetic for others in similar situations and it's made me realize how precious life is. It's made me re-evaluate my priorities and re-align my goals. The perfect shoes and that pre-wedding diet I was so focused on are now of no significance. It's been interesting to see how different people have reacted to my new reality. How some friends have rallied around me, making me feel loved and like no matter what I have a shoulder to lean on, while others have been absent, or unable to understand how real and deep my sadness goes. It's been amazing how my family has become closer than ever and how for the first time, we are all able to see just how much my grandma has given each of us.

While I wouldn't wish this kind of thing on anyone, I am grateful for the perspective.

I love you, Grandma. I hope that one day soon we'll be dancing at my wedding.





                                

The Future Mrs....

WOW! It's been a while. It's not that I don't think of my blog often, or even write posts and leave them in draft purgatory, it's just that life lately has been more go-go-go than write-write-write.

It's not for a lack of excitement or inspiration, there have certainly been exciting and inspirational things happening (a promotion, weddings, getting engaged COUGH) but all that aside, the time hasn't felt right to sit down and write...pun definitely intended.

As we dive headfirst into the wedding planning process, I couldn't think of a better time to share an update: our engagement story! 

As many of you know, Josh & I met at Ogilvy just over two years ago and started a typical New York style romance. A little emailing, a little dating, a lotta uncertainty. For those who'd like a refresher feel free to take a peek at posts 1 and 2 which give a pretty comprehensive look into our fairytale romance. All joking aside, over the past two years Josh and I have grown as a couple and I couldn't feel more ready to take the big leap into marriage with him.

Before we walk down the aisle, let's take a trip down memory lane and find out how I became the future Mrs Leavitt...

On July 31st 2014 we boarded a plane to Norfolk Virginia embarking on a nearly 2 week long vacation with our families (yes, both of them) to the Outer Banks. We had with us, in addition to our clothes, bathing suits, toiletries, sunscreen, hats, power chords, books and e-readers- cards & presents for a big "August birthday blowout" set to take place that Saturday (remember that for later).

Upon landing, Josh's dad and his friend Larry picked us up and away we went (right after a quick stop at Burger King for dinner, hey it's vacation!). Since it was late I pretty quickly stretched out on the back seat and lay my head in Josh's lap in preparation for the hour + drive to the house. A few minutes into my nap I felt something sharp and uncomfortable beneath my head (don't get any ideas people). Thinking it was Josh's belt, I went to move the buckle aside... 

HEY! he said, what are you doing?
Um, moving your belt? It's hurting my head.
I'll do it, he replied.
Ok, weirdo.

With the belt buckle gone, I closed my eyes & woke up as we were pulling into the driveway.

The next few days passed without incident. Unless you consider 5 straight days of torrential rain on your beach vacation an incident (which I obviously did). On the 5th day, Saturday, the rain continued & party preparations were well underway. 

Once everyone arrived, we gathered to give toasts and gifts to the party honorees- those with late summer/august birthdays (please note: this "everyone" includes 30 of Josh's immediate and extended family all of whom own or rent houses on the same strip of beach in Nags Head plus me, my parents and my sister). After a few toasts (and roasts) it was time for me to give Emily (Josh's sister) her gift. The unwrapping went as unwrapping usually does and then we were told to show the gift to grandma Betty (seated behind us). To be honest, this seemed odd to me, why couldn't grandma Betty see the gift later? It wasn't exactly a groundbreaking gift, but hey- what do I know.

When we turned around, we found much more than an excited grandma... there was Josh, down on one knee with a huge smile across his face, holding out a ring box. I have absolutely no idea what he said, nor do I recall saying yes (I was told I said "of course" before falling into a ball of tears). After a few minutes and a lot of cheers, Josh whispered to me: so are you going to put the ring on?! 





As the party unfolded, I was told that the whole thing was ruse and had been crafted to throw me off (because let's face it, I'm not easy to surprise).  While I can't say I didn't have some suspicions- I couldn't have imagined a better way to kickstart our married life together.




And for all those who are wondering, that "sharp object" I mentioned earlier was in fact the ring, hiding safely in Josh's wallet for the trip, and not an ordinary belt buckle.


Xoxo,
The Future Mrs..

Drumroll please...

Friends! It's such an exciting day.

First of all, the weather has turned from that bone chilling "make me tea-turn on the space heater-all I want is mac & cheese" cold, to the "ditch your coat-let your hair frizz-wear FLATS-change your comforter" warmth that can only mean one thing...Spring! Who wouldn't be excited about that?

Now in true New York fashion I'm sure just the writing of this post will be the impetus to a noreaster which will dump 6-10 inches of snow on the area causing all news outlets to declare it "the coldest pesach yet" but for now, i'm reveling in it.

Ok, back to the real reason of this post: cupcakes. Delicious, perfectly frosted, individually portioned, can't get enough of them cupcakes. As promised, I've been dashing around town trying cupcakes (it's been terrible) and have my first score card to share with you today.

This score card is from one of my favorite bakeries, Amy's Bread. For anyone who knows me, you know it's where I've gotten my birthday cake for the last 3 years, and where I will continue to get my birthday cake for the foreseeable future. Their cupcakes are a staple at in-office birthday parties and while great, they sadly don't hold a candle to their cakes.




The overall verdict? The contrast between the dark chocolate cake and sweet vanilla frosting is a good one. The cupcake was beautifully decorated and the ratio of icing to cake was great. On the flip side, the cake was a bit dense and the icing overly sweet (which for me to say, takes a lot!). I'd recommend trying these cupcakes if you're in the area but they aren't worth a special trip!

The Search For the Perfect Cupcake

I know it's been a while since I've posted (forgive me) but I'm so excited to tell you about, and launch, my new project.

All over the blogosphere you'll see people reviewing food, fashion, restaurants, neighborhoods- the works. One blogger whom I follow pretty regularly, Erica's Sweet Tooth, has been doing a bakery tour of the 5 boroughs where she visits all sorts of bake shops and samples everything they have to offer ranging from cookies, cake, bread, rice krispie treats and even cronuts. Her posts are wonderful and they've inspired me to hit the streets.

While I'm a big fan of everything dessert, my weakness is cupcakes (duh). This morning on my way to work I gazed longingly at rows of perfectly arranged cupcakes in some of my neighborhood's bakeries. And just like that, it hit me! I needed to try all of these cupcakes, figure out which was "best" and more importantly I definitely needed to share my findings with you. Voila! The Search For the Perfect Cupcake was born.

This isn't a revolutionary project, nor is it likely the first one of it's kind, but as a lover of icing, cake and the perfect balance, I knew I had to take this on.

I'll be starting this week and will be visiting the following bakeries over the course of the next several months. I'll test one cupcake every other week (gotta be mindful of the waistline) and will post its score for all to see. At the end of my travels, I'll decide on a winner and will hopefully inspire everyone to try some cupcakes along the way.

Bakeries to be visited
You may notice that two well known NYC cupcake shops are missing from my list: Magnolia Bakery & Crumbs. The reason behind this omission is that I've already tried both of these and don't think they are anything special.

Magnolia is probably my least favorite cupcake in NYC. The cake is dry and the frosting is overly sweet- and that's saying a lot from a self proclaimed sugar addict. Crumbs is a different story. I'm actually a fan of their cupcakes and think their specialty flavors really set them apart. However, their size is just a turn off for me. They are so big that it's almost impossible for me to even buy one without feeling guilty, and their large scale distribution makes it feel more corporate than cozy. 

The Score Card

I will assess these cupcakes on a set of serious qualities. 
  • Cake- this is obviously a key component in the perfect cupcake. I like the cake to be moist but still have a nice crumb. Anything too dry completely ruins a cupcake for me and too dense, I get overwhelmed quickly. I'm like the princess and the pea and I make no apologies.
  • Icing- I think we all know my dedication to icing. In my opinion, the more the merrier. But it has to be more of the right kind. Too many times I have delved into a slice of cake, or a cupcake, only to be met with fake buttercream (the kind that leaves a waxy coating along the roof of your mouth) or GASP whipped topping. Real butter is the only way to go, and lots of it.
  • Icing Ratio- There's nothing worse than getting to the fifth bite of your cupcake and realizing all that awaits is a tower of cake, just as there's nothing worse than being left with a blob of icing. I tend to lean towards the latter, but the perfect cupcake leaves nothing to be desired. Perfection is a cloud of icing piped high atop the cake.
  • Taste- this is an obvious one. Do they leave you wanting more? Make you want to lick the paper? Or do they make you shrug and reach for a glass of water. I'm looking for the former. We don't eat cupcakes for their health benefits.
  • Presentation- while this may seem like a no-brainer, the way a cupcake looks is not always spot-on. Sometimes the frosting is too thin, or sloppy, or the cake is lopsided or even burnt (major no-no). Sometimes the cute decorations are not edible, say what? and other times they look so divine you can't wait to dive in. The perfect cupcake will dazzle my eye and make me want to jump the line.

Let the games begin!

Halloween and Homemade Candy

I know it's been a while. I've been slacking on my posting but sometimes I just don't have anything to say, or I do and then I don't have time. Between work and travel, family and friends, and a minor self-induced health panic life has been mildly bananas the last few weeks.

It's no secret that Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and Halloween plays a big role. The fun-filled holiday always creeps up on me and reminds me of days dressed in homemade costumes as an M&M, Hershey Kiss, or box of Corn Flakes- see a theme? Clearly I was obsessed with dressing up as giant versions of food. Normal.

This year, when planning a costume, Josh shockingly agreed to get on board. Last year I tried to have him wear a giant money sign and was met with what I'll kindly down play for the sake of this blog as resistance. So, in planning this year, I knew it had to be something easy and something we could make from our own closets. As any costume planning process goes, we had a few plans before we landed on the winner. First we were going to go as robbers and have Josh's nephew dress up as a bag of money. Next, once our bag of money declined to be a bag of money, we decided to build our costumes around his (a dalmatian)  with me going as cruella deville and josh as a dognapper. Well, the trick with kids is that they grow and as our luck would have it, our dalmatian grew out of his dalmatian costume and decided to be an elephant. But since our wigs and masks were already purchased- cruella and a dog napper we shall be, minus one adorable dog.

Our costumes came out really well and everyone seemed to dig my red lips and black & white 'do.


And here's a few of our elephant, because let's face it, he's the cutest and I'm a ridicuously biased pseudo-aunt.



Now, onto the candy...

In preparation for our night of trick or treating, I tackled a baking feat that I've been staring up at for a while: homemade candy. I've always wanted to try it but have been mildly afraid of melted chocolate, molds and failure. With the perfect excuse, I took the plunge. Since my favorite candy combination is chocolate and peanut butter, I opted for homemade peanut butter cups.

It took two attempts to get them just right but the final product was out of this world. If anyone is thinking about trying them I highly encourage it. I've included some tips I learned along the way and hopefully, armed with this guide- you won't need two attempts to get them right.

Sari's Homemade Peanut Butter Cup's

Ingredients
1/2 cup JIF peanut butter (do not use the natural kind, this was discovered in attempt 1)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more to taste)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp butter (very soft but not melted)
1 tsp salt
12 ounces (or 1 bag) milk chocolate (I used semisweet the first time around and they just didn't have the real peanut butter cup taste)

Directions
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. I used a standard muffin tin but a mini muffin tin would work as well. This recipe yielded 12 full size cups.

In a microwave safe bowl melt half of your chocolate (half a bag or 6 ounces). I melted mine in the microwave and put the chocolate in for 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds. It took me 3 rounds to get the chocolate fully melted.

Spoon about 2 teaspoons of chocolate into each cup and using the back of a spoon or a paint brush, spread the chocolate up the sides of the paper liner. I used my finger because it gave me the best control and allowed me to ensure the chocolate was even. You want a thin layer of chocolate but not so thin that it will break. The idea is to create the base for which the peanut butter filling will sit so the chocolate should be about midway up the sides of the cups. Once all of your cups are filled, place the tray in the freezer to set.

While your chocolate sets, make the peanut butter filling. Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl. With the paddle of an electric mixer, mix well until incorporated. Add salt and mix again.

Check on your chocolate (mine was hardened in about 5 minutes) once ready, remove from the refrigerator and fill with peanut butter filling. I found the most effective way of doing this was to make little balls of peanut butter filling and flatten them out with my hand. Then i placed them inside the chocolate cups. Once all cups are filled with peanut butter, melt the remainder of your chocolate the same way you did last time.

Fill each cup with 1-2 teaspoons of chocolate ensuring that you smooth the chocolate out so that it fills the space between the side of the cup and the peanut butter filling (you want to create a chocolate seal so you get that authentic peanut butter cup). Once all of the cups have a chocolate top, place back in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes and voila!

I didn't get the chance to snap a photo and in truth I didn't even get to eat one, that's how popular they were but this is what they looked like (picture from pinterest). I'll definitely be trying these again in the near future!

Fall Flavors...Chili!

Josh and I are on a big money saving kick. I know, I know- NYC living and money saving- an oxymoron.  While we're not packing our things and leaving the big city just yet, we've been trying to pinch pennies wherever possible in an effort to grow our little nest egg (insert aww here).

One easy place we identified big savings was: lunch. Both working at Ogilvy, we easily racked up big (and unnecessary) lunch bills. At $8-$10 a day the Ogilvy slopateria just wasn't cutting it. Lunch was not only expensive, but we didn't even enjoy what we were eating- hello, that's the whole point of eating! So a few weeks ago we decided to try cooking on Sundays, and packing lunch for the week. The first weeks have been great, and I even got us matching lunch boxes (double aww).

Now that we're packing lunch we try to think of cost effective recipes that will travel well and also make a decent number of servings. Yesterday, we were craving something epically Fall, and decided to try our hand at chili. I don't have a chili recipe in my arsenal so I called my mom. She always makes a big batch around the Super Bowl, and there is never enough to go around. I substituted beef for turkey and halved the recipe (which my mom had already halved before giving me the measurements so in essence, I quartered it!) and ingredient list in hand we headed for Trader Joes. $29 later, were headed home; $29 for canned tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 packages of turkey meat, chicken sausage, parsley, scallions, olives and kidney beans...Trader Joes for the WIN.

At first we were skeptical about how much chili our quartered recipe would yield, but about an hour later, we were skeptics no more!  For our $29 investment we will likely get around 10-11 lunches, do the math folks that amounts to less than $3 a pop.

If you're looking for a chili recipe for your football crowd, roommate, boyfriend, family or just you-yourself-and-I, give this one a whirl, I highly recommend it! It's hearty, spicy and full of my favorite thing- OLIVES. Next time I would add less chili powder (I went a bit overboard) and would try it with real beef, but for our first time, I think we did great! Try it out and let me know what you think, I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

Indredients (I halved this recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil.
1 bunch scallions
1 pound sausage removed from casing (I used chicken sausage)
4 pounds ground chuck (I used turkey meat)
1 12ounce can tomato paste (I used 1 6 ounce can)
1.5 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp ground pepper
2 ounce cumin
1 ounce chili powder (do this to taste, mine was a bit heavy handed)
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup dijon mustard (I didn't half this)
1/4 cup burgundy, or any dry red wine (I didn't half this)
1/8 cup lemon juice
3 cans plum tomatoes (28 ounce cans)
2 15 ounce cans of dark red kidney beans
2 12 ounce cans pitted large black olives
1/4 cup parsley

Instructions

In a large pot, heat olive oil and saute scallions until soft. Add sausage and ground chuck and cook until browned. Spoon off any excess fat/oil and discard. Once the meat is browned, add tomato paste, garlic, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, basil and salt. Stir until combined. Add in tomatoes, dijon mustard, burgundy, lemon juice, kidney beans and parsley.  Stir well and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Stir, add black olives, let simmer for another 5 minutes.


Enjoy!

PS. This turkey version comes in under 220 calories per serving and is packed with protein and fiber!

Gates A to E and Everything in Between

What's it like to be in multiple airports a week? Let me tell you.

It looks a little bit like the beginning of Home Alone when the whole family runs through the terminal to the theme song "runna runna ruda". When you finally sit down, you have that nagging feeling that you forgot something; And while I've yet to forget something as monumental as my son...I've definitely left little bits of sanity along my way.

This week I was in: JFK, Charlotte, Charlottesville and LGA airports all within a span of 24 hours or less. I became an expert at sleeping sitting up, walking on conveyor belts, eating CIBO express and packing and unpacking a bag in under 10 minutes. Rental car agents looked at me like I was insane (mishearing their questions, handing them my AAA card instead of my credit card- nope that won't work, and leaning slightly to one side as a result of permanent laptop heavage). I touched down in New York yesterday afternoon, have a few days at home and then I'm back on the road.

While life is a pint sized version of MADNESS, this past trip brought me to my all time favorite collegetown- UVA. While I had less than a day to explore I made my way around and managed to enjoy a stay at the Boars Head Inn, dinner at the downtown mall, coffee on the corner, and breakfast at hidden gem Cafe Cubano. I saw family, Josh's family, students and a former intern. It was a jam packed day but one that reminded me of my major #collegecrush on the orange and blue alma matter. Charlottesville- i'll be back.



Holiday Hiatus

Apologies for my MIAness. With labor day and the first of the Jewish holidays both hitting this week, I've been running a bit ragged. So, in lieu of my 3 weekly posts i'm going to give you the abridged version: reciperoundup-trending-lifemusing all wrapped in 1.

Recipe Roundup

Challah....duh.

Rosh hashannah means a few things but to me, most importantly a fresh start. But who are we kidding it also means no fasting, apples dipped in honey, and doughey bready goodness.

This year, Josh and I decided to bake the challah for our Rosh hashannah celebration. We have made challah before but were not quite ecstatic with the results, so in an effort to improve, I decided to look for a new recipe. After an evening at temple with his parents in Queens (which started with my car being dead, yay for cars from last decade) we made our way to Westchester and at 11pm set out to try the new recipe. I found the recipe on a challah baking forum #holllllla and after mixing, whisking and kneading we let it rise, punched it down and put it in the fridge to rise again over night. In the morning it had risen so much that it was pushing the top shelf of the fridge up and off (yeast SUCCESS). We once again punched it down, put it back in the fridge and when we came back from temple set to work shaping it. We researched how to create a traditional woven shape and twisted and pinched our dough to perfection. We included golden raises and finished with an egg wash (with a dash of sugar). Now, given our last challah I wasn't sure what to expect so when I say we were wowed, I'm not exaggerating. We were WOWed... this challah was moist, sweet, salty, doughey- AMAZING. Turns out we made 4x the amount needed (that's what happens when you begin bread making at 11pm) so we froze half and made two loaves. I think what made it so killer was the rise over night. From my challah research (because i'm an expert now) this long, slow rise gives the dough a chance to truly develop its flavor. Either way- I'm a convert. I will never again attempt another challah recipe and I will always let my dough rise over night. Get kneading people, it's worth it! And for those who are just dying to try, the recipe is at the bottom of the post! Keep in mind this makes 4 CHALLAHS, yes 4. So divide accordingly, or plan to make a lot and freeze half.

Trending...or lack there of

Patterns are in. Plaid, stripes, checks you name it people are wearing it. Unfortunately for me, I'm not a pattern person. I've never felt truly comfortable decked out in something as loud and distracting as a pattern. If you look in my closet, almost everything I own is a solid. A true solid, a color block, and occasionally a solid with piping (now we're really getting crazy). While I'm all for adopting trends and stepping out of your comfort zone, patterns are just not something I can get behind. Peplum? Sure. Leather? Oh hell yes. Booties? The more the merrier. But patterns? sorry Vogue, you're on your own with this one.

Musings

I love my car. I've had her since I was 16. I learned how to drive with her, hit my first garbage pail with her, went to countless first dates, football games, road trips, and crew races with her. I've even slept in my car when other options seemed less appealing. She's been a getaway car, an air conditioned retreat and even the scene of a few crimes (cue: running over the animal, halloween 2003). My car and I are a team. She is old, often doesn't work "right" and has countless quirks that only I understand. I.e. at the valet when I have to say "oh she wouldn't start...that's ok i'll do it" and 9 times out of 10 i'm able to get it started while the guys who work with cars all day stare at me in disbelief. Lay off me people- she's special. She's a 99 jeep grand cherokee with 120,000 miles on her. Many people don't understand how she's still running- let alone accompanying me on 300 mile road trips. But she is. Every few months something happens. Something that makes me question if I'll have her around for much longer or if our run together has finally come to an end. Yet after every trip to the mechanic, she's patched up and ready to roll. 

It's hard to explain the relationship I have with my car to other people (other than my 3 high school friends who'v been with us from the beginning and truly understand it). Many people think she's unreliable, rickety, a headache and simply not worth the trouble.  It's just a car they say, it's time to get rid of it. And maybe they're right- but to me, she represents so much more than a car. She's been a symbol of freedom and stability for the last 10 years of my life. 10 years. At age 26, that's not insignificant. She's been there for every major milestone from my teenage years to adulthood. She's been there when I've had my heart broken (and cried so hard that I thought the steering wheel would disintegrate), she's been there on first days of school, last days of school, funerals, weddings, multiple moves, meltdowns (and there have been many), 4am crew practices, state line crossings, and even my first job.

So why am I telling you all of this? This week she gave me a hard time. She wasn't reliable. She didn't start either of the times I needed her to without a jump and because of that I felt guilty, responsible, defensive even. She may not be perfect, but I'm not going to give up on her just because she's going through a rough time. She's never given up on me. So yes, to many people she's just a car- a money pit, a gas guzzler, an unreliable mode of transportation, a collection of metal and most definitely not "a she". But to me, she's so much more than that.

*And yes- I do realize I just wrote a love letter to my car- deal with it.




Challah Recipe


Ingredients
3 Cups water
8 teaspoons yeast
1 1/3 Cups sugar
1 1/3 Cups oil
8 eggs
6 teaspoons salt
5 lb flour
Egg Wash
2 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
Directions (altered based on how we did it)
  • Combine lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil, eggs, and half the flour in the mixing bowl. (If you mix it with the regular cake beater (at this point) it kneads much better)
  • Add the salt.
  • Switch to your hands and continue working the flour into the mixture. Once it gets too tough to manage in the bowl, move onto a floured surface and continue to work the flour in until you have a soft ball of dough.
  • Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl, cover with seran wrap.
  • Let the dough rise for one hour. 
  • Punch down
  • Place bowl of dough into the refrigerator and let rise overnight.
  • Remove from fridge, punch down. Return to fridge. (*If you want to bake your challah in the morning- you do not need to return it to the fridge. If so, simply remove from fridge, punch down and let it come to room temperature).
  • Remove from fridge and let come to room temperature
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal sized pieces. Each piece is 1 challah. If you halve the recipe, you should only have 2 pieces at this step, if you quarter it- only 1- you get the idea.
  • Braid the challah and then let it rise for 1/2 an hour in it's shaped form
  • Spread egg wash onto all areas of the challah.
  • Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes
  • When you take it out, tap the bottom. If you hear a hollow sound- it's done!


Labor Day Bucket Listing

Last year, as Summer drew to a close I shared my bucket list of activities I wanted to tackle before the weather turned cold. In honor of Labor Day in just a few days (tear) I'm bringing you my 2013 list. This version is based off of last year's but only includes the things I really enoyed and/or didn't have time do accomplish. I know it's often hard to make time for summer fun with work, family and life responsibilities but with summer dwindling down, I'm making it a priority. So without further adieu...

Bucket List 2.0
  • Have a beach bonfire (a long shot)
  • Annual Lewis family trip to Rye Playland
  • Eat chocolate italian ices, the real kind
  • Go kayaking 
  • Spend a day on the high line
  • Ride a city bike along the hudson path
  • Watch a movie outside
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Swim in a lake

What have you done this Summer? Do you feel like there are still Summer activities left undone? It's not too late! Get out there while the weather is still warm and knock those items off your list!

Because you're all dying to see my summer in snapshots, here are a few that make me smile:



  



Hope everyone has a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend, see you on the other side!

#trending

As I prepared to write this post I got to thinking...what is considered a trend outside of the fashion world? That's typically where my mind goes whenever anyone mentions, tweets, or hashtags anything to do with trends, trending and the like. To answer the question I turned to my trusty advisor, also known as google, and came up with the following: Trend- The general direction in which something tends to move. Ah, that narrows it down... not! 

So, with ambiguity looming large, here are 3 trends I'm happily moving with this season.

1.  Pumpkin flavored everything. Yes, everything. From latte's (Starbucks' seasonal version can't hit stores soon enough), to candles, to muffins to pies I'm seriously lusting over this Fall Super Spice. 



 




2. Nail polish galore. For those in the know, cue anyone with eyes, nail polish has been a hit for the last few years. With Fall, comes new hues, new must haves and new no-no's. One Fall nail color I absolutely love (and wear almost weekly from September through November) is one that goes, dare I say, beyond the confines of a trend and into "classic" territory; Wine, Marroon, Burgundy (po-tay-toh, po-ta-toe). A few of my favorite shades? Wicked, Material Girl, Carry On (all by Essie of course)-  do it, it's necessary.



3.  Large frame glasses. I must say I was a skeptic. I always liked how these statement eye pieces looked on others but when it came to myself, I was jussssst fine sticking with my minimalistic banana republic specs. That is until our dog Lia had herself a little glasses snack. Lia 1; Sari 0. Needles to say, on my glasses replacement trip when it came time to check out I had a rather large frame in my hand. 

Good hair days beg to be documented


Enjoy, and remember: be a pumpkin, wear dark nails and get huge glasses. Life lessons from yours truly.

Monday Blues

After a long week, the weekend is a welcomed respite from powerpoint decks, travel budgets, event planning and timesheets. But all too often, the 2 days fly by giving way to a Monday morning that beings with one too many snooze buttons and the mumbling of "I don't wanna go".

This cliche was all too true for me this morning. Last week crawled by like a turtle with no where to go and this weekend, while wonderful and filled with family, went by much too quickly.

So, with that said, I'm rounding up a recipe for Oatmeal Cream Pies that I plan to make this coming weekend (wishful thinking much?) when Josh and I head up to the Berkshires to hang with his parents. 

This recipe comes from a fantastic blog, Kitchen Belleicious, where I often find inspiration for homemade desserts that rival their store bought counterparts. The author has recently gone gluten free, which tugs at my heart strings and makes me love her recipes even more. This Oatmeal Cream Pie recipe is pretty straightforward using classic ingredients such as rolled oats, butter, and brown sugar but when combined, are out of this world. This recipe calls for wheat flour, so to alter it and make it Sari-tummy friendly I'm going to substitute with Oat flour (fingers crossed).

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cream Pies (adapted from Kitchen Belleicious)

Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • 1/2 cup oat flour plus 2 tbsp
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour plus 2 tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cream Filling


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions


  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Whisk together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in oats. Set aside
  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and mix well. Gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring until well combined.
  • Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets (about 2 inches apart so they have room to spread)
  • While the cookies are baking, prepare the filling. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until combined. Then, increase mixer to high speed and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on pan for 2-3 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Once cool, spread about 1 tablespoon of filling over the bottom side of half of the cookies. 
  • Top with remaining cookies so that they form sandwiches and the bottoms are facing each other (and the filling).


Labor day is definitely bittersweet for me. As I previously mentioned, I LOVE summer, and while labor day brings new adventures, the promise of pumpkin spiced lattes, leather jackets and scarves it also marks the close of the official summer season. As we bid adieu to white pants, prosecco, cheap raspberries, and longer days some will be celebrating, I'll be sobbing in the corner eating one of these:


Photo courtesy of: Kitchen Bellecious 

Ramblings

10 random thoughts to carry you into the weekend.

1. This blogging three times a week thing is hard, like really hard.
2. I'm totally obsessing over these at the moment
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Sandwiches a la Erica's Sweet Tooth
3. Golden retrievers are awesome. Fluffy, friendly, amazing.
4. Josh and I are having a movie night with Velveeta tomorrow and I feel a little bit like this about it




5. Confession: I don't wear socks when I run
6. High School was the best 4 years of my life. Judge on.
7. I ate a whole roll of bubble tape by myself last week
8. I need new sneakers (see number 5)
9. True story. I'm addicted to ice cream
10. I never set my alarm to a round number. 7:12, 8:14...you get the idea



Falling for Fall

I know I'm a day late with my first ever trends post (so I'm my mother's daughter) but it comes with a snazzy blog make-over so get over it.


Now, before you chastize me for wishing away my all time favorite season, read on.

I'm a Summer girl through and through. I live for warm weather, iced coffee, sun dresses, deeply tanned skin and flip flops. Not to mention no makeup (see deeply tanned skin), weekends at the beach, pedicures, cocktails with hints of citrus, and the endless number of evenings outside.

That being said, I can't stop the changing of seasons. Trust me- I've tried. I've tried to hold on to Summer not letting the leaves change but every year without fail, Summer slips into Fall. So what have I learned with all of this hanging on i.e. denial? When Fall arrives I'm never prepared and I always hate my closet.

So in the spirit of learning from my mistakes, I'm soaking up every bit that's left of Summer but also preparing for when my sleeveless dresses look a tad out of place and my flip flops are forced to be retired.

Here are 3 trends I'm adding to my closet in preparation for Fall:
  • Leather Infused PiecesLeather made a big debut last Fall and while many were afraid of how far to take it (or how long it would last) with this year's September issues in full swing, and Leather a star, I'd say it's here to stay. I'm loving the look of leather mixed with other fabrics and textures. (1. Zara, 2. Piperlime)


                         
                             

  • Studded Flats- Flats are a Fall staple. When it's too cool for sandals and too warm for boots, I always reach for flats. My problem? I only own two pairs (ok, two I'd actually wear). I'm aiming to change that this year and I'm loving the look of studs to add a bit of an edge to an everyday shoe. (1. Gilt (Sale has ended), 2. Sam Edelman for Piperlime, 3. Piperlime)                  



  • Short mixed-texture jackets - You heard me. Everywhere I look, structured jackets stare back at me. Online, in store windows, off the pages of look books; From Gap to Nieman's, they seem to be the season's hot commodity. These jackets are the perfect way to add a flare or pop to an outfit and many are very affordable. Note to self: pick-up mom's houndstooth version from home closet.     (1. H&M for under $50, 2. Intermix for a pretty penny)


          

So there you have it, three of my must have trend for the impending Autumn season. I could go on, but frankly, my photoshop skills are not good enough to add any more trends #rookiebloggerproblems.


Check back in tomorrow for an update on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

xoxo











Recipe Roundup

Good afternoon! For the first installment of Recipe Roundup I figured I'd go with a classic. I'm an avid baker, always looking for a new recipe, new tip or trick to take things to the next level. I often find inspiration on pinterest and have collected more than a few dream worth recipes (if you're interested you can check them out on my Decadently Devine board here). Although I wish I had all the time in the world to sift through these recipes and actually bake them all (gasp, sugar overload!)... I don't. So, in deciding what to bake in my tinycrampednostorage darling kitchen, I try to go with a mix of recipes that feature unique ingredients or combinations, something with a wow factor or a basic that will improve my "classic" arsenal.

This weekend I opted with the latter. While I'm a diehard Toll House girl, their chocolate chip cookie recipe never quite does it for me. They often wind up too thin, over baked (no matter how under-time I cook them for), and a bit lackluster.

In perusing the world of pins a few weeks ago I stumbled across a recipe promising to be the most chewy and delicious recipe out there. I knew I had to try it.

Since yesterday was a rainy Sunday, it was the perfect day to give this recipe a whirl. A quick look in my cabinet revealed that I didn't in fact have everything needed for this recipe so I hopped to the store and immediately set to work.

I found the recipe on pinterest, but it's original comes from a baking blog I truly admire Sally's Baking Addiction. I doctored the recipe just a bit (duh) and the end result is to die for. The cookies are light in color, super thick, chewy but not overly so and give a nod to the best part of cookies: the dough.

Here is the recipe with my adjusted proportions.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Photo credit: Sally's Baking Addiction
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
  • Combine the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until no brown sugar lumps remain. 
  • Add in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, add the vanilla. 
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon. Cover the dough and chill for 2 hours (don't skip this step).
  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease two baking sheets- set aside.
  • Roll the dough into balls, about 2-3 Tablespoons each. Roll the cookie dough balls so that they are taller rather than wide. Put 8 balls of dough onto each cookie sheet.  Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. 
  • They will look soft and underbaked (light in color). They will continue to bake on the cookie sheet. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes.
  • Try not to eat them all! But if you do, it's ok I wont tell anyone. 

Enjoy! If you try them, I'd love to know what you think, what you liked, didn't like etc. I'm always looking to improve "perfection".



Structure...we all need it. We don't always like it.

Happy Monday loyal followers. Over the weekend I started to think about all the ways my life (and I) have changed over the course of the year and half that I've been writing. I've moved twice, I'm no longer single, I've changed careers and I've officially entered my "late" twenties. With these personal changes, it seems only fitting that my blog make some changes as well.

With that being said, I've decided to add a bit more structure to my posts. I'm going to try and post 2-3x per week on a variety of topics. The schedule I'v landed on is as follows:


  • Mondays: Recipe Roundup. Food inspiration that's got me itching to cook.
  • Wednesdays: Trends I'm Trending. Fashion, food, exercise, decorating..you get the idea. All things trendy that I'm hitching my wagon to (and think you should too)
  • Fridays: Weekly Musings. Life happenings, trip recaps, family drama...the works.

This will be the best kind of structure, I promise.


Can't wait to see you all later for this blogs first installment of "Recipe Roundup". 


Xoxo,
Sari

Summer Book Round Up

Every summer I get the reading itch. A desire to lounge by the pool, on the beach, or in the house to get lost in the land of make-believe.

So far this summer I've been slow- I've only read two books, but Josh and I (see I didn't even call him the boy) are leaving on Thursday for vacation for 10 days (yes 10 whole days, canyoubelieveit!?!?! Clearly I'm not that excited) down on the Outer Banks in Nags Head. His family has been vacationing here for years, might I even say decades, and this will be my first summer joining.

In preparation of our trip, I've scoured the internet, tapped my book sources and compiled a list of must-reads. I have 4 shiny new novels en route to our apartment and I can't wait to sink my teeth in. Here is my reading round up for the summer.


What I've Read So Far

  1. The Last Original Wife-  A classic beach read. This newly released page turner by Dorothea Benton Frank caught my eye in the Penn Station book store en route to Fire Island. It was hard to get started but once I did, I couldn't put it down and wound up finishing it during our weekend trip to Newport.

    2.   Firefly Lane- This one totally caught me off guard. Josh and I were up at my
          parents house this weekend house sitting for the dogs when I realized, GASP,
          I didn't have a book. Resorting to my ultra lazy ways, I decided to scour the house
          for hidden gems (aka please don't make me go to the book store). Right in my
          room, underneath my high school yearbook and Camp Watitoh scrapbooks lay
          this paperback. I remembered trying to read it in years past with little luck, so I
          was reluctant, but upon digging in- I was hooked. I read all 479 pages in 2 days.


What's On My List

    3.   The Widow Waltz- With a place on the "Best Books of 2013 So Far" this classic
          beach read had me intrigued from the moment I heard about it

    4.   Revenge Wears Prada- The devil is back and better than ever. Or so I've been
          told. The sequel to the much-talked about 2004 page turner, is supposedly better
          than the original. When my good friend and book confidant suggested I read this,
          how could I say no? Start your engines people.

    5.   Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger- Called off engagements,
          second chances, and high school sweethearts- say no more. When a girl leaves
          her perfect fiance for his less than perfect brother, I want a front row seat.

    6.   Summer People- Family drama and the island of Nantucket, what every beach
          read is made of. A friend of a friend said this was a "must read". I don't often hear
          that and like what i see in the synopsis. So when the stars aligned, I added this
          one to my cart.


I can't wait to get on the plane on Thursday, arrive at the house and totally disconnect. I'm planning to turn off my phone, I know big moves, and avoid Facebook, email and Instagram to the best of my ability. While the sound of drama, status updates, make-ups and break-ups won't be keeping me company, these books definitely will.

What are you reading this summer? I'd love to know!


Introducing...The Boy

I know, I know...it's about time! Given the fact that the boy and I have been dating for over a year and now live together, I figured it was time I gave him a proper introduction.

While many of you know him personally, and others feel you know him through this very blog, several loyal readers have nudged me to formally introduce him. 

So I give you, "the boy". The one I have so affectionately referred to on this blog in many posts, most notably here, here and here, the one whose dating life has been splashed across the tabloids social media (this is not exactly E! news, people) and the one who has made my life better in ways I never imagined, is officially unveiled. 

Profile of "The Boy"

Name: Josh
Age: 27
Hometown: Sunnyside Gardens
Profession: Art Director (duh, that's how we met)
Favorite Sport: Hockey
Team: Rangers
Favorite Food: Velveeta (leave judgement at the door)
Passion: Music
Pet Peeve: Moldy towels, unlocked doors, poorly folded shirts



So there you have it, a quick glimpse at the guy I love who puts up with me, supports me, laughs at my jokes, massages my feet and takes tons of road trips even though he'd be perfectly content staying home, ah love (I do plenty for him too, it's not completely one sided).

From now on, he will be referred to by name and not affectionately as "the boy" as has previously been the norm.  It's been a good run, but everything runs its course. 


Happy Tuesday!

Battle of the Sexes...Sort Of

I can't believe it's been nearly two months since my last post. Hellooooo abandonment!

I promise I have a good reason for my absence, or a few reasons at that. But first, we'll focus on the big one.

The boy and I moved in together. We had been planning it for months; talking about it, anxiously awaiting it, organizing for it, discussing it and then finally- it happened! We packed up our apartments (in a few more trips than either of us expected), loaded the moving van and departed for our new home. All I will say is this: nothing prepares you for moving in with someone, except actually doing it. We had boxes labeled, furniture picked out, lists on hand and several "we're together all the time anyway, it won't be any different" conversations behind us but the truth is, living with someone is different.

It's the joining of two lives. Two styles of living... and yes, that means all aspects of living, not just those you want to compromise on (which is where maintaining separate apartments totally leads you astray). Eating, sleeping, alarm sounding, towel hanging, cooking, food buying, remote controlling, bed making, schedule adjusting- everything. The sudden realization that the way you've lived for the last 5 or so years is going to take a hit, in order to compromise (key word) to accomodate for another person, is not always easy. You've made your bed a certain way for years, allowed your alarm to go off endlessly (probably a bit too endlessly) and left the apartment door unlocked because you have some false sense of security in new york, without impacting anyone but yourself.

Now, that's all changed. Everything you do, and say, impacts another person.  I think I was more surprised than the boy was at the amount of compromise that would be coming our way. He's been great- super accommodating and understanding of my control freak need to have the bed made, and perfect, all day every day (thanks Mom) and very willing to compromise. I was the one who had a bit more work to do.

All in all, moving was more of a transition than I anticipated but once we had some conversations to straighten me out- it's been smooth sailing and we are loving day to day life together. Everything from cooking dinner to commuting to work together is definitely more fun now that we're under one roof.  We had our first dinner guests last night and the boy cooked an amazing meal- it was nice to entertain in a space that's ours.

This weekend we're off to Newport! I've never been and I'm excited to spend the weekend by the water in a new place.

More to come on work, pictures of the apartment and other daily musings. And I promise it won't take me two months to post....really, I do.

Confessions of a perfectionist


Ok, ok...it's been a while. I've sat down to write a few times. I've even queued up some posts that still sit in my draft folder, begging to be published, yes, I'm aware posts don't talk. But for one reason or another, the posts didn't seem important enough, funny enough, good enough.

That whole notion of enough, got me thinking about life in general and the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect, or pretty darn close. Maybe it's where I grew up, where I live, where I work or just who I am...but there is this constant pressure to make it. To dress the best, have the most plans, go to the best places, have the nicest things, to summer at the beach. These are all luxuries that we'd be lucky to have just one of, but for some reason, if and when I don't do them, I feel like I'm falling short.

It's hard not to get swept up in the the race. It's easier to accept the craze, to fall victim to the idea that wearing the same dress to three weddings in a row is uncool, or that your jeans (which are perfectly good) are last season's cut. It's harder to stay rooted in who you are and what you believe, and to do what works for you, especially when everyone around you seems to have life in the fast lane down pat.

There is a lot of change happening around me, and in my life. My best friend from high school got engaged, my roommate graduated from graduate school, in less than a month I'm moving out of my "all girls" apartment and in with a boy, my other best friend will be married by the time the clock strikes July, and my grandparents who have always been summer staples in my house- won't be coming up from Florida this year. While many of these changes are exciting, they're also unsettling. That's what change is- it's flipping things on their head and waiting for them to land. Flipping them on their head- i'm good at, the waiting part- not so good.

I've found myself feeling worried over the last few weeks and getting bogged down by little things that didn't go exactly the way I had hoped, getting upset in comparing myself to someone else, and even freaking out that I was having these feelings. Freaking out over a freak out? Tell me about it! Long story short, I wound up having a long talk with a good friend in which I realized that it's ok to freak out every once in a while, as long as it takes you to a better place.


Greetings from said better place.... now on the other side of my "everything is changing, what is going on" meltdown, I'm very excited about the changes in my life, and I'm looking forward to living more in the moment. To accepting that there are things I can do, can achieve, can afford- and things that I simply can't (even if everyone else around me can).

As we head into Memorial Day Weekend I'm looking forward to savoring the little things I have planned. The first day of packing (eek!), a girls day with my PIC in White Plains, camping out in my backyard with the boy (yes we are that cool), a barbecue with my family, and s'mores by the fire pit.



Thanks for reading my musings.

Happy almost official-start of summer weekend blogobites.

Sure...why not? Let's apartment hunt again

Life has been crazy lately. Between work, friends, family and travel- it's been a whirlwind and I can't believe it's already April!

Spring is probably my least favorite season (I know, everyone thinks I'm nuts) but there's something about it that just rubs me the wrong way. The positive side? It mean's we're one step closer to my all-time favorite season...Summer. 

Meanwhile, as we wade through April and May in pursuit of June there's lots on the agenda. My best friend from college, Martha, is coming into town this weekend. We're going to have a girls weekend and catch up and I cannot wait! It's almost been a year since we've seen each other but since we talk almost daily, it feels like it was just yesterday.

Halloween Circa 2008
Summer 2012 on Martha's Vineyard


We had a wonderful first few days of Passover in Florida last weekend. We had a few Seders- first a BIG one with about 30 people, at my grandparents house in Florida on Saturday night (a few nights premature), a second smaller one, still in Florida on Monday night. And finally, a belated celebration with my dad's side of the family, last Saturday night up in Carmel.

They were not without drama (when is it ever with my family?) but it was wonderful to spend time with family and get to celebrate another holiday with the boy.

Speaking of which...The boy and I are apartment hunting! Big news for this blogger as I've never lived with a boy. The PIC and I will be vacating our apartment at the end of June and moving on to the big girl world of cohabitation.

My return to apartment hunting has been just as stress-inducing fun as last time around. Agents to the left of me, brokers to the right.... it's as if the market waits for potential renters, baiting them with words like "pre war" "sunsplashed" and "steps to Central Park" all the while looking to pounce with completely unfounded broker fees, condo approvals, application fees and absurd meeting times. "No I cannot meet you 85 blocks from my work at 1pm. Yes, that's right I do have a full time job" how were you expecting me to pay for this overpriced nugget of NYC real estate? In hugs? Great talk.

I will say, going through it with the boy has been great. He's been so supportive and we've been on the same page every step of the way, which is a great omen for what lies ahead. We've had the same thoughts on what we like and don't like in each place we've seen. We align on our budget, our "wish list", and even on our thoughts of the crazy brokers who bare the overwhelming burden of opening the door for us (i'm not bitter just bewildered that a key-turn gets you 15% of some poor unsuspecting soul's annual rent, maybe i'm in the wrong profession...).

We are focusing our search on 1 bedrooms on the Upper West Side, preferably with a doorman for a price that won't break the bank, ok at least not the WHOLE bank (tall order I know). I get a weird rush each time the door is about to open on a new place. A feeling inside as if this will be the one gem of a new york city apartment that no one else has seen, that is significantly under market value but huge, filled with sunlight and looks exactly like Carrie Bradshaw's Sex and the City digs....right because that's how it works.

For the most part we know what we're getting into before we see a place, but sometimes the only thing that can prepare you, is being there in the moment. Here's a sneak peek at what we've been through the past week, welcome to our roller coaster friends, buckle up.

Our reaction to the view from an 86th street apartment












The result of misleading photos of a place on 93rd












When the dream prewar condo on 95th lacked a condo fee




















More to come as we get closer to our move in date, the glory days of packing, organizing and the big one- deciding on furniture.