Monday, June 30, 2014

weekend in review: dog sitting edition

Kurt and I spent most of the weekend dog sitting our new four legged friend, Zazu. He is an 8 month old Lab mix and a whole lot of puppy fun. I am a big dog lover and have been pining for one of my own for ages but it just hasn't really seemed to align with my schedule. I was looking forward to this weekend as a test drive of what dog ownership might be like and it was a very interesting experiment. I'm not completely turned off from the idea, but I think I will have to realign my expectations when it comes to city dogs vs country dogs in terms of size, schedule, lifestyle, allergies, stress etc. If only Aubie were more cuddly...

The rest of the weekend was spent watching ALL of the soccer and a backyard barbecue. Check out that jungle in progress! I'm such a black thumb that I'm in awe of people who grow things--edible things. Kurt has our window boxes full of herbs and greens and has been harvesting bunches of kale from his garden plot recently. I'm very happy to be on the receiving end of all that goodness :) I stole that last image from our friend Will's instagram of us hanging out in his revamped backyard. Keep it coming, Summer!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the belmont stakes

Early in June, Kurt and I took a day trip to see the Belmont Stakes hoping to watch California Chrome make history and win the Triple Crown. Apparently half of NYC and Long Island had the same idea because it was incredibly packed. We knew it would be a crazy day with no chance of watching the horse race from the track, so we packed some sandwiches and did lots of people watching in the backyard area behind the grandstand. So many hats! We learned how to place bets ($10 to win on horse #2!) and watched the exciting race from one of the many outdoor screens. Sadly, California Chrome didn't win but it was still a lovely day to spend at the race track. Don't ask me about getting home on the LIRR. That was a completely different story...

I got several of these race day photos from Kurt and I just want to say he is killing it with his photography these days! I really love that last one. It really captures what it was like once it was pretty clear there wasn't going to be a Triple Crown. Keep up the good work, Kurt!

Monday, June 23, 2014

five years

Kurt and I celebrated five years of dating on the summer solstice this past Saturday. Wow! Five years! It's a pretty big deal, so I thought we should devote several days of festivities to the occasion and instituted "Anniversary Week". I wasn't so on the ball and the "week" didn't really commence until Tuesday.

Our first event of the week was a picnic spread in Prospect Park while listening to Phosphorescent and The National play at the bandshell for Celebrate Brooklyn. [Our picnic neighbors had a huge inflatable birthday cake with them.]

On Wednesday, we had other plans but were offered free Yankees tickets, so we made an impromptu trip to the Bronx after work and watched the game with Erik and Silvia.

On Thursday night, Kurt was put in charge of finding a nice place to go out to dinner. He was so good at keeping the secret and after a lovely Citibike ride through Chinatown, eventually surprised me with The Mulberry Project in Little Italy. It took a little advice from friends but I was very impressed with his research skills. We had some tasty cocktails and small plates in their cute backyard space.

Kurt usually makes 90% of our meals, so on Friday night I volunteered to make a nice dinner for us at home. I decided to try my hand at mussels and they turned out pretty well. I used this recipe which was surprisingly simple and actually really filling. Plus, mussels are not that expensive. It's going to be my new seems fancy, but isn't meal to impress guests :) We finished out the night watching Pitch Perfect on the couch.

Saturday was the official anniversary day, so we carried on our tradition of packing a picnic and watching the sunset at Erie Basin Park next to Ikea in Red Hook. We picked up lobster rolls and key lime pie from the Red Hook Lobster Pound and popped a couple bottles of champagne we had recently been gifted by friends. It was a gorgeous evening to relax by the water reminiscing about the last five years and discussing what the next five might look like. Thanks for a fantastic evening, week, and half decade, Kurt! 

It's really interesting (probably to no one but me) to have this blog and be able to look back at all our past anniversary celebrations: Four, Three, Two, and One!

[last 2 sunset photos and any I am in are thanks to Kurt]

Friday, June 20, 2014

recent readings

Considering I only read on my commute, I've been burning through books lately. I've really mastered the art of balancing on the train and instinctively knowing when my stop has arrived so as to maximize head down, reading time. Also, I've recently signed up for Good Reads which helps me keep track of what I've finished and figure out what is up next. 

I recently finished Eleanor & Park, a really sweet story of teenage romance against the odds. Makes me thankful I never have to go back to high school.  // I'm currently working on Rules of Civility and really enjoying the story. It's a juicy look at wealthy society in 1930s NYC. Makes me wish my life was a little more glamorous! 

I'm trying to stay ahead of the curve of books that are being made into movies, so I dutifully read The Fault in Our Stars. I timed the really emotional parts so I could read them at home (instead of a very public subway train) and have a good cry in private. I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie soon and will be bringing wads of tissues with me for sure. // It's probably been 15 years since I read The Giver and I hear it is also getting it's moment on the big screen, I decided a refresher was in order. It was more simple than I remember (good to know 28 year old me is a tad more complex thinking than 13 year old me) but still tackles some interesting concepts. 

I really enjoyed reading the Hunger Games books last year but decided I needed a little break from 'post-apocalyptic young adult fiction' before starting on The Divergent Series. I'm glad I finally got around to it just in time to see the first movie. I think I prefer the HG story (although Divergent is really similar) but the books were still very entertaining. I must have gotten emotionally invested in the characters because I was noticeably sad when the books were finished! I will just have to miss my "friends" until the other movies come out.

The Goldfinch was long and exciting and interesting and sometimes unbelieveable. I wish I liked it more but after all that time reading, I needed more resolution and tied up loose ends. I recommend it but I can't say I looooved it as much as other people. // The Circle is about society letting technology going a smidge too far. I could barely look at phone without being creeped out for a few weeks! 

Honestly, I picked up Beautiful Ruins because I liked the cover. The story that spans half a century is kind of sweet and fun. Light beach reading. // The Interestings wasn't my favorite. It's engaging but not really exciting. It moved slow and took me forever to read and in the end I found it kind of depressing. I'm a happy ending kind of girl.

Next on my list is The Vacationers. It might make me very jealous of those with beach plans but I need something to get me in the summer vacation spirit (even if I do sit behind a desk all week). // I'm also looking forward to reading The Opposite of Loneliness. The author was killed in a car crash just days after graduating from Yale, but I hear her writing is excellent and reflective of her generation.

I'm always on the lookout for suggestions! Anything I should be reading?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

weekend in review

Visitors! World Cup! Food! Cocktails! All the makings for a good weekend. I was so happy to have Jessica and Eric in town from Alabama. They've both been to the city before, so they weren't too concerned with sight seeing at landmarks and museums which left lots of time for eating and drinking. Eric is a bartender extraordinaire/cocktail genius, so he had a long list of bar recommendations. We braved a monsoon on Friday evening to test a few of his Manhattan options.

Attaboy. No sign, no menus. You knock on an unmarked door and, once admitted, tell the bartender about your tastes and they craft something for you. Would you believe we ran into three other people from Alabama there?! Shots and War Eagles were shared all around (even though they were from that other school) and lots of commenting about the smallness of the world. 

As much as we try, one cannot exist on cocktails alone, so we grabbed dinner at Back Forty West. Pork belly and cheesecake rejuvenated us a bit to continue on to our next stop of the cocktail hit parade.

Pouring Ribbons. In contrast to Attaboy, there was an extensive menu at this place. Luckily, there was also a handy graph/matrix to help you pick your poison, directing you towards Refreshing/Spiritous/Comforting/Adventurous. I went with a Champagne something or other before Kurt and I poured ourselves in a cab to head home.

The next day was Brooklyn's time to shine. There are few things I love more than showing off my favorite borough and the weather absolutely killed it. Take that, Manhattan! Our first stop was at Shake Shack in Downtown Brooklyn. Guess what? The line was manageable, our burgers, beers, and cheese fries were awesome, and we got to sit outside in the sunshine. Win, win, win!

Next, Kurt and I were really excited to show off Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Drink pit stop at Pier 6

Ice cream pit stop at the brand new Hay Rosie in Carroll Gardens. Whatever ice cream you get, you HAVE to get it smothered in the sea salt whipped cream. Amazing!

A quick stroll by the Gowanus Canal. What, you don't take out of towners to your toxic waste sites? Weird.

Cocktails at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. It was really quiet for a Saturday, but it must have had something to do with the incredible weather.

Jessica and I in our cabana :) It was so fantastic to see old friends and catch up on all the gossip happening down south. Thanks for helping us explore our own city, Jessica and Eric!

After we bid farewell to our visitors, Kurt and I met up with a hoard of Italian fans to watch the Italy vs. England soccer match in Fort Greene.

Four years ago I lived two doors down from this place, so it was fun to watch a match in my old neighborhood and relive World Cup 2010. It was especially great because we were joined by our friend Michela who is from Rome (and getting married there in the fall!). She and all the other native Italians in the bar were incredibly passionate throughout the match and overjoyed when Italy clinched the win. Emotional Italians, who knew?

We had a post victory dinner at Habana Outpost. It got so chilly that Kurt and I had to drape ourselves in Michela's Italian flag to stay warm. I guess full blown summer isn't quite here yet.

I spent all day Sunday cleaning our badly neglected apartment and making ice cream. Kurt gathered a bunch of service berries from nearby parks which I mixed into some goat cheese ice cream (all credit goes to Jeni) and a yummy cocktail. Maybe I will get around to posting some recipes instead of just lame weekend recaps one of these days.... 

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