barrio

This is the very yummy black bean soup, guacamole and Corona Light I had the other night at Barrio in Park Slope. Yelp shows mixed reviews of this place, but I really enjoyed it. First of all, there’s a huge outdoor seating section in the warm months. And I live for outdoor seating. It’s my favorite way to dine.

Plus, they have unlimited tacos and sangria on Monday nights, and I think they do unlimited quesadillas on Wednesdays. Did you hear me? UNLIMITED!

Sitting outside, eating Mexican food – that’s what I want to be doing right before I die.

vinnie’s pizza omg

I had some of the best pizza of my life last night from Vinnie’s Pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I don’t know what drew me into the little shop, but when I walked out with this slice of sun-dried tomato, bacon, beef, jalapeno, cheddar, RANCH PIZZA (!!!!) I was in heaven. It was SO. GOOD.

I ate it on the subway platform because I couldn’t stand waiting any longer.

Apparently Vinnie’s does amazing Vegan pizza too.

a sunny monday!

I woke up this morning to see the sun streaming in our front door, and I instantly turned the TV on to check the temp. Mid-fifties and rising! I could not be happier about this.

It was a beautiful weekend here in NYC, sunny and warmer than it’s been in recent weeks, but to wake up on a Monday to bright blue skies and temps even warmer than the weekend – well, that’s my jam right there. I hate to think that I’m so impacted by the weather that I lose a solid two months at the beginning of every year to the doldrums, but that’s just the reality. This spring-like weather makes me ridiculously happy. I feel hopeful, I feel inspired, I am focused on what’s possible rather than on what needs to get done. It’s amazing how that works.

I plan to go for a walk/jog in the park in a few minutes, after I finish this post, finish the Fanny & Jane books (I do the books on Mondays) and throw on some exercise clothes. But when I woke up, I knew I couldn’t wait until I was finished with those tasks to get into the sunshine. So I had breakfast on our stoop.

The sun shines down onto the front of our house for most of the day, which is a lucky thing for a girl who likes to sit on her front stoop. It’s not even 60 degrees out there, but I had breakfast wearing only a tshirt and jeans. It was heavenly!

Fair trade coffee from Trader Joe’s…

And a spinach smoothie with banana, soy milk and flax seed.

And look who joined me for some sunbathing!

Chawser LOVES to hang out on the stoop with us when it’s warm out. We’ll open the door a bit and he’ll venture out at his own pace. We’ve (miraculously) trained him to only stay on the stoop, not to go off onto the driveway or the surrounding gardens. I’m sure if we weren’t out there to regulate him, he’d dart off in whatever direction, but he will sit right next to me for as long as I’ll let him. It was so nice to have a breakfast mate.

My other breakfast mates were two succulents that I have managed to make ill with my incredibly inept green thumb. I was hoping the sun would inspire them back to health. I thought you weren’t supposed to be able to kill these things!

Nothing whatsoever is perfect in my world and I have constant stresses and worries, but this day makes it all seem a little bit simpler. Also? Days like this are why I quit my job. Because I would wake up back then, and head into work, enjoying the heck out of my commute for its amazing views of the city from the Manhattan Bridge, for its ten-minute walk from the subway to the office through a bustling, energizing midtown Manhattan. And then I’d always feel my heart sink a little as I walked into the dark, gloomy office, knowing that I wouldn’t re-emerge for nine hours. And as much as I loved the salary, I always thought, This is not a reasonable trade-off for me. This is not good enough.

Today, even though I have a To Do list ten miles long, a budget to worry about, a bank account I’d love to add a few more zeros to, and an all-around imperfect life, I’m thrilled to get to go for a jog in the spring weather, on MY schedule, when I feel like it. Imperfection is perfect today.

food

Remember when I was “learning to cook?” Yah. I’m not anymore.

I’m sure I’ll cook more someday, but today is not that day. We’ve been eating, you know, easy food in our kitchen (like PBJs, egg and ham scrambles, beans and rice – the basics), or food at cheapeats places around the city like we always have, Kevin and I.

So I left some onions in a bowl next to our toaster oven. And one or two of them STARTING GROWING OTHER ONIONS. OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

It was gross.

Seriously, I had to take photos because I was so disgusted by it.

In other food news, Kevin took me out to Rosa Mexicana on Monday night. Never been there, love Mexican food, always wanted to go there, like to drink margaritas: Score.

We had fun and it was yummy. (Thank you for that nice date, honey!)

resolution #2

A few days ago, I shared one of my four resolutions for the year – to take loving care of myself.

My second resolution is – get this – to only weigh myself once a month.

I weigh myself too much. Period. I actually don’t *feel* like it’s negatively affecting me. But I do know that if I had my druthers, I’d probably weigh myself at least once a day, on average. And part of me thinks that’s too much. Once a day seems like too much. For ME.

So I’m gonna give a whirl, this year, to only weighing myself once each month and to see how it helps or hinders me.

As many of you are well aware, when I was in my late teens/early twenties, I weighed 265 pounds. I’m 5’5. I was so heavy, and it felt so miserable. When I was 21, I started to lose weight and over the course of two to three years, I lost 115 pounds. I’ve maintained my weight loss, more or less (within ten pounds) since then. That was seven years ago.

I certainly struggle with occasional overeating. I have to always remind myself to listen to my body and my hunger and to avoid simply consuming too many calories without burning enough off. At parties where there is food, I’m challenged. After dinner when I’m feeling snacky, I feel challenged. On a daily basis, I eat healthy foods, stuff that’s good for my body and my immune system. I also, probably once a day at least, eat something that’s not that healthy. No big deal. Gotta have a cookie sometimes.

I exercise regularly and I live in New York City, so even when I don’t consciously workout, I’m still moving around. The intensity of my exercise routine waxes and wanes in the course of a year. Sometimes I’m gung-ho, getting something in six times a week. Sometimes I can only fit in three or four workouts and sometimes a couple of them are mediocre. For years my routine was a combination of cardio, weight training and pilates. For the last year or so though, I have almost exclusively run/walked and done yoga. My yoga practice has become a key part of my weight maintenance. Plus, I like it a lot more than lifting weights or doing pilates.

As a soldier and survivor of a major weight loss battle, I have a ton of tools, tricks and rules that I use to help myself stay on track, and for the most part, it all works pretty well. I am convinced that I could never return to a lifestyle that supports morbid obesity. When you are that overweight, you live a lifestyle that supports it, otherwise you wouldn’t be that overweight. Fast food was often a staple of my diet. Oh yeah and I felt like shit all the time. Seriously, you guys. Ugh.

I now know that that was a phase I went through. And although I will always want nachos, I will never have a bad weight problem like that again in my life.

A couple times a year, I gain a few pounds, but I always lose it. And I’ve recently heard that that’s natural, that women especially will do that throughout their lifetimes, fluctuate between a 10-20 pound range.

A-duh.

So my goal is to finally get that through my head this year. To finally live the truth that even THINKING ABOUT THAT STUPID NUMBER is such a waste of brain space for me. At least that’s what I anticipate I’ll learn about myself at the end of the year – but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll realize weighing myself often was the way to go all along.

We’ll see!

good pizza, good life

I love not having a traditional job anymore!! I just had to tell you that. I went to see a movie around 6:30pm tonight, a time during which, had I still been at the desk job, I would have still been at work.

The first few days of January have always been historically hard for me ever since I became part of the working world. I have always struggled with returning from the warmth and comfort of the holiday break to come back to whichever office job I held at the time. I just felt blue. Lonely, sad, missing my family and my freedom. It would usually last, in some respect, into early Feb. I’m sure part of it has often been due to the cold weather, the lack of sunshine. But it’s also because I felt a general bleakness about the day to day routine I was returning to. That very feeling was part of what made me decide to quit my job and follow my bliss to begin with. I didn’t want to feel bored and totally uninspired ever, not even in winter.

When I said in a post a few days ago that I’d be easing back into a regular routine during these first few weeks of 2010, I meant it. And oh boy, have I eased. I’ve certainly done some work every day, but I’ve also taken some yoga classes, spent time with some friends, and relaxed. And my “day” tends to end around 6pm or so, when I end up making a simple, healthy meal (lots of that going on at our apartment lately – loving it!) and camping out on the couch for the evening. It’s been a pretty spectacular way to start the year. For me personally, it fits. Because my busy season just ended, I don’t currently feel pressured into any insane workload that I might not be mentally ready to tackle, I can take some time each day to be with myself and focus on feeling good – take a yoga class, sit in a sunny patch in the park, and I feel like I’m really taking care of myself. It’s nice.

In other news, because both Kev and I are trying to be frugal and healthy right now, eating out regularly isn’t something we’ll be doing for a while. So as a last hurrah for the time being, I thought I’d regale you with tales of our anniversary dinner at Franny’s pizzeria in Park Slope.

First of all, it was delicious and wonderful and I loved it. We’ve been wanting to go there for a while, especially since it’s relatively close to our apartment, voted one of the best pizzerias in New York and sources all of its ingredients consciously and many from local vendors.

We went there for dinner on the evening of our third anniversary, after spending the afternoon seeing Sherlock Holmes. The ladies who own our house and live on the top two floors gave us a generous gift certificate for the holidays so we figured an anniversary dinner would be the perfect occasion to use it.

It was packed when we arrived but after we enjoyed some lovely glasses of red wine at the bar, we were seated pretty quickly. Let me first say that the service was delightful and attentive – we really noticed that. Even the bar service was great, which is hard to do in a small, busy restaurant where everyone is “grabbing a drink at the bar” while they wait for a table to open up.

Look at the flame inside that pizza oven!!

Once we sat down, we drooled over the small but impressive menu and decided to order the special appetizer, which was brussel sprouts with onion and bacon (omg), another small appetizer which was a crostino (one big piece of toast) with white beans and something else I can’t remember on top. They were both divine and we enjoyed every single flavor. The wine (second glasses for both of us!) complimented the flavors perfectly. We were very happy.

Then the pizzas came out, one for each of us. Just entree-sized portions, but still plenty of food. We shared these.

Picante parmesean with red onion. And buffalo mozzarella with sausage. SO. GOOD. It was heavenly. Together, we ate all of it.

And then we got dessert! Ah!

This photo does not do justice to the perfection of this dessert. This was a panna cotta, something I’d never had before. Our kind and knowledgeable waiter told us that he loved panna cotta, but this is some of the best he’s ever had. It was cool, refreshing, light, delicious, flavorful – amazing. The brown sauce was a balsamic type thing – who knows – but it was also delicious.

This was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. And I got to share it with this guy, who’s just as sweet and funny as can be.

And who just now absentmindedly scraped his fork like nails on chalkboard on the bottom of his rice bowl while watching TV on the couch next to me. And I’m going to kill him. RELATIONSHIPS!

Har har.

back to work!

Being home for the holidays was really nice. I actually feel mentally prepared to return to a working lifestyle tomorrow morning. I wouldn’t turn down another week of vacation – I’m sure I could find some way to fill the time – but I’m looking forward to returning to a bit of structure too.

It’s currently Sunday night, and we’ve been home since New Year’s Eve. We’ve done next to nothing during this long weekend back in Brooklyn and I, for one, have enjoyed that very much. Kevin and I have watched movies, gone to the movies, gone out to dinner, met dear friends for brunch and laid around the house. SO. GREAT. And I have a loose plan for tomorrow, a to-do list in place, and a plan to hit up a middle of the day yoga class in the city. A wonderful way to ease out of vacation, if you ask me.

As I said, being home was lovely. It wasn’t perfect. There was some minor family drama, about which I’d never go into detail here because a.) who cares and b.) you don’t blog about family drama, minor or major. I love my family very much and sometimes it’s challenging to all be together in a big group for a bunch of days at once. That’s okay. That’s how families are. Beyond the expected stress that the holidays can bring, I had a carefree trip.

We ate a lot, for one thing. And in keeping with one of my new year’s resolutions, I am not going to get all over my own case about that, because that’s silly. I simply state it as a fact. I think I met my quota of red meat, fast food and lack of nutritional value for a while. And I did so pretty joyfully. This guy didn’t seem to mind either.

I introduced him to some essential midwest cuisine including Culvers, where the cheese curds are world-famous. He liked ’em.

We did a lot of driving too, which is something we never get to do in New York because we don’t own a car. We drove five hours down to my grandparents house in Quincy, we drove down to the city of Chicago a couple times, and we drove all around Crystal Lake, up and down the roads where I learned to drive, where I dropped high school friends off at their houses before curfew, where I became independent. It was a blast.

I read a lot, got to spend some time with my mom’s cats and my cousin Trisha’s dog, watched a lot of bad TV and basically left the crazy baking weeks that led up to this vacation behind me. There was even a point surprisingly early on in the trip when I actually felt like spending another day baking and packaging and being on my feet all day might not be so bad. Truth be told, there was never a time when I swore off the whole experience entirely. I learned a ton from all the work we did – what I want, what I don’t, when I need to ask for help, how to potentially grow this little business. It’s very exciting!

The lovely thing about making your own schedule is that when it’s not an overwhelmingly busy time you can give yourself a little leeway and take things as they come. Still, I am looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning and putting my vacation goggles away for a little while.

january 1, 2010

Happy New Year, all!

You may have noticed that I took a little vacation from the blog. Truth be told, I took a vacation from everything. And I’m still riding it out. I return to “work” on Monday, January 4, like much of the rest of the world will. The last two weeks have been many things, but they’ve mostly been blissful.

First, I have to mention that this blog turns 1 year old on Tuesday, January 5. That fact has been on my mind, along with the memory that this time last year found me finally making some concrete decisions about what the next 12 months would bring into my life, and deciding to write a blog about it. It’s amazing what can happen in a year.

That bit aside, there are so many things I want to tell you guys about my journeys over the last two weeks, but I’ll save them for upcoming posts. I got lotsa great pics I’m excited to share too.

I will tell you that Kevin and I left our apartment to head to the airport at 5am on Saturday 12/19. We hadn’t slept a wink when we got in the cab to make our 7am flight. A snowstorm was about to hit the East Coast and our Saturday afternoon flight had been canceled. So we spent all Friday night and early early Saturday morning cleaning the house and preparing to leave on an earlier flight that might beat the storm. It was a most appropriate end to the insane two weeks (er…two months?) that had just graced our lives. In retrospect, it was almost ridiculous to have assumed that anything other than a crazy late night of rushing around and never sleeping would have occurred.

Still, we arrived in Crystal Lake, Illinois, my hometown, around 9am Saturday morning and in one piece. I was so grateful for the huge, warm bed my mom made up for us, the delicious breakfast she prepared for us, and the amazing nap we took all afternoon. When we woke up we were finally – FINALLY – on vacation. And I didn’t look back.

Flash forward to last night, New Year’s Eve, when Kev and I arrived back in New York late at night and barely made it to our apartment in time to grab some late night take-out and catch the ball dropping on TV. I crashed into bed shortly after that, and woke up today eager to greet the new year, and excited to celebrate Kevin and my three-year anniversary.

Now that we’re home, I’m planning to ease back into my normal life. Although traveling isn’t always stress-free, I ate up every moment of this two week break. I haven’t been out of the city for that long in over seven years.

Today, January 1, 2010, was a wonderful day in my life. I told Kevin last night that I’d noticed a yoga place in Park Slope was holding a detox flow class at 12:30pm on New Year’s Day, and that I was going to go to it.  Luckily, he didn’t mind, which was very good of him considering it was our anniversary. After my yoga class we met up for a movie and a nice, long dinner. We saw Sherlock Holmes, which we both loved, and then went to dinner at a popular and critically acclaimed Brooklyn pizza place called Franny’s. We’d gotten a generous gift certificate for Franny’s, a place we’d been dying to try, from our landladies for Christmas and we figured this was the perfect night to use it. The food was incredible. We literally oohed and aahed over each dish. And I can’t wait to tell you about the whole experience. Soon!

We’re now tucked onto the couch watching Lord of the Rings and doing computer stuff. And I could not have asked for a more perfect day. Also, I love this guy. He’s my best friend.

The yoga class I took today was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed to mentally and physically feel like I’d made a good choice on this first day of the year. On my way there, I remembered the first ever yoga class I took at Bend & Bloom, the simple little studio a few subway stops from our apartment. It was almost a year ago that I timidly walked to their studio, unsure what to expect. I hadn’t been practicing yoga for very long and I certainly hadn’t been to many (if any) formal classes beyond the ones my gym offered. My friend Jen was going to be teaching the class and I was also eager to ask her some questions afterward about her experience as a yoga teacher. I had just begun my search for What Would Come Next in my life, and being a yoga teacher was near the top of the list of things I wanted to explore.

That day a year ago, I snapped a photo of the classic Brooklyn street I walked down on my way to the class and I wrote this short blog entry afterward. And today, almost a year later, I took a photo from a similar perspective.

I knew the streets themselves, just a year apart, probably wouldn’t look very different. But my perspective has changed. I remember walking to that class a year ago feeling a sense of sadness and uncertainty. I was sad to have returned to work after the holiday break, I was facing the gloom of January as best I could and failing, and I just felt like discovering a new direction was going to be tough.

Today when I took a photo of the street I walked down on my way to class, I felt peaceful and content. My life isn’t perfect, but as 2010 begins, as the first day of the year draws to a close, I’m happy, healthy and looking forward to what this year will bring. What more could I need?

I hope you all had a nice holiday season and are gearing back up to return to real life, if you haven’t had to already. Enjoy these last few days of relaxation, if you can. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to take loving care of myself and my body whenever possible (and it’s always possible). I hope you will spend some time doing the same. It’s important to make yourself your first priority.