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Happy Mother’s Day!!! I hope you all are as blessed as I am to have a mother that you respect and love as much as I do mine!

Speaking of mothers–guys, I was like a blinking baby coming into the world on this eighty-degree, crystal clear New York weekend!

I think they’re called shadows?

In the last few weeks, we’ve had a few scattered shots of sun and warmth, but nothing that felt and smelled like summer; nothing I trusted the way I trust a Summer day to keep its cozy arm around me morning through night.

This weekend a dead-ringer for the bliss that is summer and more, because of the sheer giddy NEWNESS of it all!

Before heading into the light on Saturday, I fueled up with a dee-licious breakfast:

Kodiak Cakes: I used almond milk instead of water, added 1/3 c cottage cheese and a dash of cinnamon, and smoothed out the mix with my immersion blender! Bananas and maple syrup to top it off. Spectacular!

I also reinstated my habit of covering any healing scars with band-aids before puttin’ my gams in the sun. Keeps the scars from darkening and staying dark.

The real question is, why would anyone buy normal nude band-aids when there are infinitely better options?

It’s generally a safe bet that I’m nursing some kind of injury, but currently things are a bit out of control. There are two other unpictured band-aids on my knees right now. My office swivel-chair is at the same level as my hazardously-sharp desk handles, and I haven’t yet learned to navigate the combination. Actually, yes I have. Elmo + Neosporin + Mederma.

On Saturday morning, I economized my time by doing 30 minutes of incline walking WHILE completing the arms portion of my Monster Strength Workout [can’t believe cap’n coordination pulled it off either]. Highly suggest!

Lunch was a picnic in Central Park with Audrey and Frances. Love that I even have a reason to use that word! PICNIC PICNIC PICNIC.

Auds, Frank and I soaked up rays AND each other’s company while we dined. The friend-luv didn’t cease when we parted ways though! At 5:45, I met Kathleen (in town briefly from Richmond) and her parents for an early dinner at DB Bistro Moderne. They had theater tickets for an 8 pm show, and I was more than happy to join them for a scrumptious early-bird special.

The food and service and Bistro Moderne were top-notch, and I enjoyed every bite of my meal! A few highlights:

Kath’s mom ordered the BLACK SEA BASS Tomato Confit, Roasted Artichokes Black Niçoise Olives, Lemon-Anise Emulsion Shaved Fennel

My MAINE SEA SCALLOPS Glazed White & Green Asparagus, Warm Herb Vinaigrette, Fumet Emulsion. Ever since Emporio, I’d been jonesing for scallops, and these did not disappoint!

Kath and I split this fantastic recommendation from our waiter: CHOCOLATE CARAMEL PALET Spéculoos Sablé, Caramel Fondant, Meringue Cherry Compote, Goat’s Milk Ice Cream.

We also received a complimentary order of warm, freshly-made Madeleines!

I had a leisurely walk home from the restaurant and spent the rest of the night relaxing and doing laundry (another seemingly incongruous combo that I managed to accomplish).

Sunny Sunday was just as lovely! It began with a coffee run to the Financier with Carina and another incredible breakfast:

Overnight Oats: 1/2 c oats, 1/3 c Greek yogurt, 1/3 milk, 1 tbs chia seeds–covered overnight; peanut butter, FROZEN bananas and cinnamon stirred in Sunday morning. Cool creamy heaven.

The next and most CRUCIAL order of business was a call to my sweet amazing mama on Mother’s Day :). My mom and I are quite close and she indulges many calls from me, but I was sure to get one in first thing today!

Soon thereafter, I joyfully found myself back in the park for a walk with my childhood AND current friend Laura.

Brothers Sisters from another mother!

Laura and I grew up together in Baltimore, and thankfully our lives have managed to coincide since :).

I said goodbye to Laura mid-morning to head home and get ready for a Mother’s day brunch at Dos Caminos Mexican Restaurant with Frances and her parents! Frances’s mom is basically my surrogate mother in NYC, and she graciously took me under her wing for some food and family time on this special day.

Forgot to snap pics so here’s a still life courtesy of the ‘net:

The coy avocado half really brings it all together.

Brunch was a blast and I can’t thank Frannie’s parents enough for including me.

Afterwards, I had to do a quick turnaround to head downtown for my final activity of the weekend–my 2nd volunteer sesh at Animal Haven!

But not before I indulged a monstrous craving for this NYC summer staple:

Vanilla cone: quick to eat, quicker to satisfy.

My 2nd time volunteering was another two hours of pure, stinky, noisy joy!

Left my heart with this lil’ guy.

I defy you to take yourself seriously when looking at a picture of a puppy with its tongue stuck out.

I concluded my Sunday with another luxuriously chill night at home, radiating heat happiness from the last two days!

As I think back on this weekend, I’m again that blinking baby, reveling in the love and beauty that I have been so fortunate to experience. And yet, something about this weekend tugged at a darker, more complicated place in my heart–a place that is just as part and parcel to the New York experience as cones and puppies and the Park. And I want to share my thoughts with you–I just need some time to articulate it.

On that note, I bid you adieu to let my mind wander and shut down for the night :). I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

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Butter Believer

My mom is the most incredible woman that I know–One of the most incredible people that I have ever known.

She manages to execute an outrageously demanding job, while continuing to love deeply, listen attentively and be available as a mother and wife.

ON TOP OF ALL OF THIS, I would take a meal in my mom’s kitchen over any Michelin-star restaurant in NYC. Honest as the day is long–every ingredient the woman touches turns to gold.

Pure alchemy

Many of the gourmet masterpieces that my mom whips up are far too complex for the likes of me and my florescent shoebox ignore the bowl weevil aftertaste NYC kitchen. So, I was delighted when I realized that the Shrimp and Brown Rice dish that we had for Easter dinner was something I could actually accomplish on my own!

This is a particularly special meal,  because it’s an adapted version of a recipe from my mom’s childhood, which reminds me of my grandmother and makes my heart ache in the best kind of way!

PLUS, this dish is super easy, requires few ingredients and is  so delicious that my mom, dad and I were literally portioning out how many shrimpies we were each allotted!

Stop crowdin’ me!

Could take a lesson from the eggs.

Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up in canoodling Snuffulufugus and soaking up fam-time to take many pictures, but I hope the above do this meal justice!

The two key ingredients in this recipe are tried and true culinary warriors, having stood the test of fads and time.

The first may surprise you…

40’s survivor

That’s right! Wishbone Original for the win.  Somehow, the combination of spices and hint of sweetness in this sawce pairs perfectly with the lil’ pink guys!

The 2nd key ingredient? Well, I surely hope this is no surprise. I hope this ingredient has coursed through your veins since childhood, warming your soul and making life that much butter better 🙂

Grandfather Time

Oh.YEAH.

Now, I am not suggesting that having all of your meals smothered in butter is a great or healthy idea. But a small chunk smeared on hot toast, melted on a heap of mashed potatoes, or wrapped up nicely in a chocolate chip cookie?

Sometimes there’s just no replacement, and with its intoxicating combination of nostalgia and flavor, I think this recipe is one of those times!

MOM’S SHRIMP OVER BROWN RICE (serves three)

  • 1 lb peeled deveined shrimp (after shelling)
  • Boil in bag brown rice
  • Butter (1.5 sticks)
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbs Wishbone Italian (original recipe)
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • A little hot sauce (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For sauce: melt 1 and ½ sticks of butter over low heat. Add ½ of the minced garlic, 2 tbs wishbone dressing and 2 tbs  worchestershire sauce and a couple of drops hot sauce. From this point, adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.

Peel and devein shrimp—place on cookie sheet. Rub with olive oil, ½ the minced garlic, salt and pepper. While rice is boiling, roast in oven for 5 minutes or until done. Place in sauce and spoon over individual servings of rice.

Bon Appetit!

Apples that like to stay close to their tree.

Thank you for the recipe, Mom!

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Candy

The windows are open, the streets are alive and I’m filled to the brim with that NYC Spring joy!

My favorite high-school teacher and mentor used to always describe positive life STUFF as “CANDY“, and that description felt so apt this entire weekend!

First things first though, a birthday shout-out to my AMAZING older brother Jack :).

We done grow’d up!

Jack–you’re a son of a gun, a true gentleman, and (believe it or not) I adore ya :).

Happy Birthday, Old Man!

To pick up where we left off, my Sunday was magnificent, punctuated by many small pleasures and the great pleasure of time with some of my closest friends, Rachael and Carter! The three of us had a gym and lunch date that started off at the faaancy celeb-saturated Soho Equinox.

A few days ago, I came across a challenging but fun-sounding at-home workout on the Women’s Health Magazine website. I am always looking for routines that can be done anywhere, without equipment, and I brought it with me for us to test out!

WOMEN’S HEALTH AT-HOME WORKOUT

SUPERSETS: Do each of the following moves as many times as possible in 60 seconds. Repeat two more times.

FORWARD LUNGES

(alternating legs)

 JUMP SQUATS

 PUSHUPS

 BURPEES

 PLIE SQUAT

 JUMPING JACKS

 T-STABILIZATION

 SEATED ROTATION-

(also known as Russian Twist)

If you’re not familiar with some of the moves, check out the Women’s Health video tutorial. Very helpful.

I LOVED this workout–broke a solid sweat and felt the burn! The nice variety of moves also helped the time fly by (aided by some chatter). I will absolutely be incorporating this workout into my overall regimen. [Carter told me that she completed this again tonight! Atta girl!]

After a solid cool-down stretch, we hopped right across the street to a casual eatery called Hampton Chutney. I have come to rely on HC to perfectly execute my favorite sandwich in NYC every time I stop by!

Brick House

The #21: Avocado, fresh mozarella, cucumber, tomato & romaine lettuce (I sub arugula) with Tomato-Basil dressing (I sub cilantro chutney) on whole-grain bread

Hampton Chutney is primarily known for their Dosas: a fermented crepe or pancake made from rice flour and black lentils, which they fill up with fresh, yummy local ingredients!  They also offer a variety of absolutely delicious chutneys, desserts and beverages (The Chai is slammin’).

The Formidable Dosa and a Mango Lassi

Rachael and Carter both ordered the Breakfast Dosa: 2 eggs, spinach, roasted tomato, and the option of cheese, avocado, meat etc. for a small charge.

We were all seriously happy campers digging into our lunch, and I’d highly encourage anyone to make this a stand-by of their own! (There is also an Upper West location)

Afterwards, Rach and I said goodbye to Carter and headed out to amble! I was having a MAD craving for something cool and sweet, and like a seasoned veteran, Rach turned us immediately towards Aroma Espresso Bar in Soho and their ICE AROMA LIGHT.

A Beacon: “This house special is one cool treat – without the guilt! Made with our special mix of coffee, cocoa powder, skim milk and sugar substitute, blended with ice for the perfect sinless frappe.”

Perhaps my unbridled enthusiasm was the result of such a strong craving on a hot day, but boy, did this taste good! Plus, all of Aroma’s coffee drinks come with a free piece of chocolate (Is the addiction written on my face?) 

[NOTE: I am not a huge advocate of artificial sweeteners, and I’m picky about the ones I use (Splenda, Stevia), but in moderation and for the occasional treat, I think they can be a great alternative to an aggressive sugar spike.]

We slurped our way to Union Square, where we chatted for an hour with our faces in the glorious sun. Eventually errands parted us, but I left our day-date feelin’ fulla Friend Love :).

On my way home I made a pit stop at Whole Foods to stock up on some of my favorite goodies that the week just doesn’t feel complete without!

A juicy batch! UNSULPHURED dried apricots from the bulk bin

Totally addicted to this–a spicy ginger kick and bonus teabag-tag mantras to make you ponder. At this very moment “All Knowledge is within you”?!

Last of my Nashville packets. Whoops. Apologies for the bulbous protrusion; I got impatient.

I also popped into my favorite local health food store The Health Nuts (45th and 2nd location) to grab a few samples of different Spirutein flavors for my awesome co-worker Anne-Marie, who just got engaged this weekend! Congrats, AMP!

I picked up a few for myself, since my ‘naner flavor is running dangerously low, and I wanted to see if anything else might make the cut.

Uhhh, this will not.

Taking one for the Tein.

I blended this with a frozen banana and a cup of almond milk, to let the flavor shine. Unfortunately, that flavor was downright medicinal.

No pain no gain, eh? I know the chocolate and vanilla are decent, at least, from past experience.

To mitigate some of the disappointment from my faux-Strawberry disaster, I took my booty ’round the corner and indulged myself with a $10 manicure. Talk about small things that yield maximum reward! (picture above taken post-mani)

Strawberry Improvement

I chose the Essie color Mini How High and was delighted! Nothing wrong with a little Barbie World :).

By the time I got back from ze salon it was time for bed and diving into my new read, The Book Thief. I am really enjoying this so far, and will post a review when I’ve finished! Has anyone else read it?!

Overall, this weekend truly was just one piece of candy after another! So much fun and warmth, and what I can only describe as true life satisfaction. Not that it’s all perfect–far from it–but when you focus on the good, it feels pretty darn close!

Have a lovely night, all!

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Happy Easter!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend, no matter what you were celebrating!

I done good

I always look forward to my trips home to Nashville to be with my family on the holidays. This was a particularly poignant Easter for me, however; because in two weeks, this house is officially no longer ours.

The five of us have relished every year in this beautiful home, but with time has come different needs for our growing family, and we have found a house closer to the heart of Nashville that is much more practical for the future.

I knew all of this going into the weekend, and was worried that I would be too emotional–too caught up in the “last time”-ness of each ritual to to enjoy my weekend at home.

Breakfast: Frothy coffee; toasted fruit and nut bread smeared with almond butter; berry, spinach and yogurt smoothie

Lunch: Toasted multigrain, cherry preserves, melted gruyere, over-medium egg; arugula salad with reduced balsamic;....sneaky carrot with sea salt; chocolate avocado mousse as needed

Easter Dinner: Lamb chops with rosemary marinade; creamy mashed potatoes with peas and mint; bibb lettuce salad with feta, garden-grown asparagus and grapefruit

Ginger cookies and cocktails for dessert

But I realized something over the course of the day.

These aren’t really last anythings.

As long as I can remember, my family has sat down together for dinner on every single night possible. Those first memories didn’t take place in Nashville, however. They took place in Baltimore, MD, where I was born and spent the majority of my childhood.

Boy, did those firsts and lasts feel like mountains at age twelve. And boy, did I NEVER want to feel that sense of displacement again.

Thankfully, today carried not even the faintest hint of that sensation.

Because at age 26, as I watched and participated in my family’s pure joy–pure absorption in one another

And as we sat down together once again at the dinner table, so many years and rituals later after that wrenching move

I knew with a fill-up-your-lungs deep conviction that we’ll be taking everything precious with us when we go

Yes, that includes the bourbon.

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