Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Only in NY: subway ninja

Monday, October 12, 2009

strike a pose.

jared and i headed out with our total rock star photographer this past weekend for some engagement photos at storm king sculpture park.
i made a nerdy little slide show for your viewing pleasure. don't pay attention to the depressing lyrics of such an upbeat song (beck's always good for tricking you into thinking a song is happy when it is sad) we just wanted an upbeat tune to go with the upbeat photos.

video

hopefully the video worked...it's my first time making one of these things!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

cheers to better health and crazy kittens.

ok, so here we are a mere seven months before getting hitched and i am sick. and not just flu or cold sorta sick.... i have lyme disease. and let me tell you it sucks. it sucks because i am not sick enough to stay at home and really rest and yet i have a hard time reading a long document and coming up with the right words to say in the middle of a sentence. it's really bad when you are explaining that you have a bunch of stuff that needs to be thrown out of that....that...what's the word --- oh yeah file cabinet. i mix things up and get tired really easily. last night i went to whole foods for coffee and totally forgot what i was there for -- ended up coming home with soy milk, tempeh and flowers.... and no coffee.

luckily i now have a reason why i have been so out of it and feeling so crappy. and it is definitely consoling to hear after multiple drs visits over at least the past year that i did not make up this stuff in my head. i am also lucky that wookie pushed me to find a new doctor and go in when my hands and feet were all pins and needles (read: called and made the appt for me). he takes that in sickness and in health thing very seriously!!

it's been two weeks of super duper antibiotics and all i have to show for it is a little more stamina, a lot less sleep and a growing addiction to probiotics. but i am on the mend!! one more week of antibiotics to go then a visit to the neurologist and infectious disease doc (i am that cool). i have my wookie and my little man, heathcliff (look at how cute and big he is!!) to keep me company and make sure i take my meds.

in the meantime, life goes on. work is totally picking up! i haven't been able to do much yoga but it's a good time to reflect and still teach. we also are still full steam ahead with the wedding planning. we even got to go to a sip and scan event at macy's where jared got lots of glutinous goodies while i scanned more items onto the registry. then when we were ready to leave, we got a gift of two nice wine glasses!

so.....cheers to better health.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Omg Diana Ross!

The golden blob in the foreground is her.

Two words: total diva.

The party.

They have people on fucking stilts juggling!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

bake fail.

the first time jared came to visit me in nj, i was waiting anxiously for him to arrive and decided to have a go at making what in my mind was a gluten free version of apple crisp. substituting quinoa for oats and wheat flour.

unfortunately, i decided that all the quinoa needed was some water and it would cook just fine. So he arrived and there was the smell of yummy apple crisp -- i looked like the perfect girlfriend who was cool and could bake!! we had awkward conversation, since this was our first time seeing each other after only meeting twice in chicago a month before and communicating with each other every single day via phone, chat, im, text and email.

i nervously checked the damn stuff about 50 times -- adding more and more water hoping for some magic change. the quinoa never popped. jared was really antsy to try it, and i thought it got sort of mushy so we ended up trying it. at first taste it was all yummy but it had a crunch that suspiciously resembled uncooked quinoa -- or in layman's terms uncooked rice -- and not in a good way.

jared brings this up whenever he says something about my cooking, as in, you always cook great stuff except for that time when i first came to visit and you made that apple stuff -- that sucked. and i laugh, because i totally agree -- it sucked.

regardless, there really hasn't been another time where i had a repeat of that failed attempt, except this sunday when i had a bake fail from a box mix. it happens, people. it usually happens when you don't follow directions (note: i don't really like to follow directions).

anyway, we were out of butter so i substituted smart balance in the betty crocker gluten free chocolate chip cookies box mix (which i might add, i got at the lackawana pathmark in montclair). the damn things wouldn't come off the cookie sheet and true to gf baked good form they were crumbly. BUT -- they tasted damn good. we scraped them off the sheets and ate the cookie crumble out of a plastic baggie.

my review -- follow the directions and you can be reminded of why chocolate chip cookies taste so good. it was easy and i am sure they will work with real butter. i did put some in a small loaf pan and they came out fine.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Food shopping just got a lot more fun.

I spotted these in my local Pathmark!! Gluten-free nerd that I am
just did a search a week or two ago to see when these bad boys would
be in a local super market -- it told me they were only at wegman's!!
They were wrong.

Monday, August 24, 2009

day trippin: lucy the elephant

a while ago jared and i decided we should do some day trips to really enjoy the weekends. since he hadn't lived in nj since 1990-ish, there were a lot of things to see -- even for myself, living in nj for a better part of my life, there were definitely things i haven't seen and places to go just within my home state. in the interest of saving some money to pay for the wedding, saving for a house and to just get by, we thought day trips would be fun and economical. a while ago we went to ringwood manor and then to paterson falls, which is now in the spotlight since it may be deemed a national park. i'll post some blogs about them later. (to the left, the view from lucy's haddock)

this weekend, while down visiting my family in little egg harbor we got to see one of the nj sights that i've been itching to go to for a while. i actually first heard about lucy the elephant on that weird and slightly disturbing show called life after people. it highlighted how we spend a lot of time maintaining things so they don't fall apart. funny enough the story of this gigantic elephant structure on the shore of margate, nj definitely needs a lot of maintaining. and this girl gets around. she's been moved a few times as you'll learn from her history. can you imagine moving something that is so big??

above is a weird nj video of lucy.

the price of admission was a bit steep ($6 for adults, $3 for children) but the experience was pretty cool -- plus you know the money is going to maintain the lovely lucy. first off you get to climb up into a freaking elephant... look out it's eyes and see the ocean... and did i mention that the elephant has windows on it's butt?? the best part is that you get to go out on the top of the elephant to its hassock and see the jersey shore in all it's glory. there is a tour guide who brings you up as well as a gift shop with lots of elephant themed items.

all in all i think it was a great little day trip. while we were there it was a hurricane warning so we steered clear of the beach. but our tour guide mentioned that you can get a pass for the beach. check the margate website for more info. the town itself was pretty cute. lots of old homes that were well kept. beach bars and restaurants -- very family friendly. we took my 9 year old cousin and he really had a great time. he loved the elephant butt windows (who doesn't?)!!

note, you do have to pay a $1.50 toll coming and going on the bridge.

Friday, August 21, 2009

going down the shore.

we have this weekend set aside to go visit family down the shore for a family bbq. it's our attempt at salvaging the family tradition of summer bbq's that my grandmother upheld for years. hopefully it didn't die with her.

it's interesting that the passing of your grandparents really shifts the shape of your family structure. there are certain things that always bring you together -- like grandmas -- and sometimes you have to really work at keeping those traditions alive.

it's been a rough year for the michaelsons, but as you can see we are freaking tough. the pic to the left is shows my dad, my uncle kevin and my uncle paulie. one of my faves. imagine my poor grandma with three boys so close in age wreaking havoc on their small town. poor woman had to get a job as a police officer to keep them in line!!

when i say 'down the shore', if you're from jersey you understand that's our terminology for going to the beach. sort of like 'going to the city'. you don't mistake that for any other city than nyc. ha! i love jersey for these sort of nuances.

luckily both my uncles and aunts have houses down in little egg harbor just a hop skip and a jump from AC. so it's road trip weekend!!!

not so lucky for us is the fact that there's a freaking hurricane making it's way up the coast as we speak that will pound the shore with wild waves. maybe this is my chance to learn how to surf???

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

dresses, dresses and more dresses!!!

ok, so everyone wants to know about the dress....of course you do.

i may or may not have one at this point.

i also may be addicted to trying on dresses. who knows. it's just so fun. i can't stop myself. trust me, when you are in this position you will probably do the same!

head over to my bridal blog at the Wedding Chicks to read my post about the dress decisions!! please leave me some comments and suggestions on the wedding chicks page!!

and jared, you are NOT to look at that link. it's nsfw (not safe for wookies).

Monday, August 17, 2009

bridal blogger!!!


woo hoo, i was chosen to be a wedding chicks bridal blogger!!

i will be posting some wedding-related blogs over at weddingchicks.com. check it out, it's a very swank site that has lots of cool wedding ideas and planning tips!!

my posts can be found here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

the yoga of the bbq.

Long weekend of yoga-ing and bbq-ing.

After a heavy (read: groovy) sanskrit workshop -- the path of luminous shabda -- I arrived home to find Jared practicing his own yoga.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Only in NY: fashion statements

i was walking behind this lady on ny way to the train. couldn't help
but take a pic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

real housewife advice.

everyone offers their advice. i take it usually with a grain of salt.

but, i do wonder what kind of advice the real housewives of nj have for a future real housewife of nj (a girl can dream, can't she)???

we noticed while walking in town the other day that the housewives are appearing at the wellmont theatre just a mere hop, skip and a jump from our place. i have no idea what those ladies could possibly be doing at the theater that garners a whopping $27+ entrance fee. but you have to know that i really freaking want to go!!!

have you seen this show? it's OUT OF HAND. and i've only seen like three episodes!!!

anyone want to join me?? i mean if not for the great entertainment of the ladies, there will be endless amounts of amusement from the choice nj cliches that will attend!! i hope it's an open Q & A session.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the name game

i just read a funny article about the whole taking on of the husbands name issue.

apparently, it's not gender neutral to take on your new huzzies last name. but, a bunch of women in middle america believe it should be mandated that the ladies take on the husbands last name. i don't know if there needs to be a government mandate -- that's a bit much.

i don't really consider myself to be a very strict feminist. though i have some strong views, i seem to fall back on the 1950s housewife model which seems in all honesty to be a pretty sweet deal, minus the misogyny.

being one of two daughters to carry on the michaelson name, i definitely considered keeping my last name, i might even keep it as a middle name. no hyphen though, i don't think i am progressive enough for that.

i mean, what happens to your kids if you don't change your last name? what name do they get? do they have to use a hyphen??

Sunday, August 02, 2009

bridesmaids -- jersey style.

there's no doubt that when new jerseyans do something, they really do it with gusto. this goes for wedding planning and the like. i am sure that people in other states have their own standards to live up to, but in new jersey there is a lot of pressure to perform. trust me on this one.

i arrive this afternoon at 5 minutes to noon at the david's bridal store near my house -- there's a line. now, i've been here more than a few times being that my sister and best friend got married a few months ago and the first place i went to try on dresses for my own wedding was at this exact spot. the girls in line are a motley crew of total jersey ranks. there's a lot of long straight brown hair, overexaggerated makeup and the distinct markings of tanning beds, coupled with the ubiquitous accent that puts us on the map for being just tough enough to be referred to as jersey girl (emphasis on the jerz). cue the bon jovi.

i strike up a conversation with some other girls who are out there waiting with me. we are already complaining that the sales poeple all see us and are not letting us in. i find out that the one bride in the group is there with her bmaids checking out dresses. she's getting married at some wedding place in bergen county which, i just googled, looks lovely and actually a little less wedding-factory than i expected.

the doors open and like a scene from the shoppers on black friday, the mad rush ensues.

since i've been here before, i already have a sales person who is very sweet and helpful. she greets me and asks me about some details. my sister arrives and we then start our rummaging through the dresses. i find a feather hairpiece and adopt it at mine, at least for the trip so everyone knows that I AM THE BRIDE, dammit. ;) and we do rummage they have tons and tons of dresses for every size.

the thing with being a bmaid in a wedding is that there are only about ten different possibly wearable dress styles that you can pick from, no matter who the designer. david's bridal just seems to have them all there in different sizes so you can actually see how they fit. when i went with my sis to try on dresses at other stores they had all the dress styles in size 2. right -- have you seen us jersey girls??? we could eat you for breakfast. and also, as if you don't feel bad enough that you have to be a bmaid, the damn dresses are sized so poorly that you have to go about two to four sizes up -- total boost of the self esteem.

two other bmaids arrive and it's on. i had put a bunch of dresses in the dressing rooms and basically it's total chaos. i came into this day thinking i'd be all, you can wear whatever dress you want. and after an hour of dresses that were less than flattering i thought, damn, i'm going to have to play the bridezilla card and mandate one dress to end the madness. then we spied another bmaid trying on this two piece number. it was actually a hit amongst all that were in attendance. it even can handle some major boobage and still look hot.

now in jersey while shopping for bridal dresses, you get the experience of seeing the girls that want to be a freaking princess on their wedding day try on dresses right in front of you....full on big ass dress with tiara and enough satin to let you think they'd never have a tramp stamp to cover up -- but they ALL do. this may be the best part.

i know everyone has a different style but it's so comical to see the girls with their poofy dresses and accoutraments. oh the accoutraments. i am all about accessories, don't get me wrong. but some things should have died in the 90's (see the gloves in the pic to the left). and those dresses with pick-ups for you and your bmaids. we actually saw one girl try one of those cake-topper bmaids dresses on and go -- this is it!!! i thought cinderella and belle cornered that market, girls. i am pretty sure prince charming, i mean guido, isn't going to really going to save you from your wicked stepmother and step sisters either -- but he will be driving a camaro and possibly even wear a cavaricci tux -- hmmm, do they even make those??? (ha, it's nice to see they actually have a website, complete with trance music!!)

luckily i have five awesome girls in my bridal party. all super-cool and totally fun, they'd have my back any day, as i would theirs. all but one are jersey girls, born and bred, and the non-jersey girl i am now inducting into the jersey girl hall of fame. i can do that -- that's how jersey i am.

Friday, July 31, 2009

only in NY: flipping out.

my coworker and I just enjoyed a very tasty and yet VERY expensive burger lunch at the new burger joint in bloomies.

don't get me wrong, it's no hundred dollar burger but it's definitely a pricey lunch -- even for midtown/ upper east siders. no bun, lamb burger with olive tapenade, feta and skinny fries -- mmm.

TGIF.

The weekend can't come quick enough. my little alpha-kins arrives tomorrow and there will be parties and free haircuts and bridesmaid dress hunting!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

instant gratification.

on this super rainy day, we came home to a big box on the doorstep. our first wedding present arrived!!!

We just registered last week!!

Very exciting times over at the apartment. Even heathcliff is enjoying the cardboard box it came in.

Friday, July 24, 2009

gluten free date night: candle cafe NYC.

I've heard about this place and it's more upscale companion since I first uttered the words 'gluten free'. The yelp reviews claim it to be the best vegan restaurant in the country. All I have to say is believe the hype.

After work Jared and I met up by my office and walked over to crate and barrel to start registering!! So much fun. Then we headed to candle cafe for vegan and in my case gluten free goodness.

I am so full - it was awesome. The ambiance wasn't much to boast about but the menu was great and definitely drove home their from the farm to the plate mantra.

All I have to say is quinoa crusted tempeh.....mmmmm. And the rice pudding was amazing. Definitely worth the trip uptown and all the traffic out of the city right now as I sit and blog.

that's one hell of an entrance.

i just watched this video which at the same time made me laugh out loud - literally (loll) and tear up a bit.


all i have to say is bridal party if you're reading this.....bring it!

~~~~~

the engagement party was a lot of fun. a LOT of people, most of which were meeting for the first time. my father and stepmother did an amazing job making the backyard look so nice and preparing food that everyone thought was from a caterer. my mom even made me special rice krispie treats (thanks, mom) since i can't eat the wheat that was in that massive cake which everyone devoured. i am still in awe that basically the whole thing was gone at the end of the night! jared and i cut EVERY-SINGLE piece! the only thing i might have done different is have name tags with how/ who people were related to as a sort of ice-breaker. regardless i think/hope people mingled and had fun.

if the engagement party is any gauge of how the wedding will be, i really need to up my game endurance-wise. it was lovely and a lot of fun, but totally exhausting! i also realized that i am usually the family photographer so there's a lack of photos. note the few photos i had to work with in the collage.



















i was playing around with picassa 3 and made this fun little collage..... sorry if i don't have a pic of you if you were there.

i'm actually totally utilizing a lot of what google has to offer and finding it very useful, esp when planning a wedding. there's the google task list, and google reader which are also two of my faves. i basically have subscribed to a bunch of wedding blogs and they get filtered into one place. i know, it's totally nerdy....but it's very useful if you don't have a lot of time to play on the net or just want to star or tag things for later.

other than that we are working on our first wedding project....the thank you cards from the e-party.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

rub-a-dub-dub.

heathcliff definitely wasn't too fond of taking a bath. fortunately,
he survived and smells much better in spite of it.

take the money and run.

last night we paid the 1/3 deposit of the catering bill for the wedding. jared picked up the check from my dad and we then went together to meet with our caterers and finalize some things. my thoughts were....really??? this is so much money.

when looking at all the costs, even from a very frugal approach, getting married costs a lot. there are lots of little things, too. little things that the boys don't think about. since we are going a non-traditional route for the site, there are extra little costs and details here and there. i like having input and even using my own two hands at creating the scene of our wedding.

when we first got engaged, jared was convinced that we could throw a pretty nice wedding for around $10k. i was convinced otherwise, but like most things concerning reality, i had to sit back and wait for it to settle in for him we are well over double that with our very modest plans. (note: the average cost of a wedding is nj is around $30k) i knew just from my sisters frugal planning that it wouldn't be easy to not spend a lot, esp with all the people that we want to invite. with family alone we are close to 100 guests!! add in some friends and it starts to get out of hand.

currently, the guest list is over 200 which is NOT happening. i think this might be the most painful part of the process. friends, if you are reading this, know that if you aren't invited, it's not bc i don't love you. jared and i have so many friends we could have a separate, grandiose wedding just with them!

i keep coming back in my mind to the scene of a friends wedding about ten years ago. we had worked together and she was a bit older than myself. the wedding was at the brentwood which is a sort of wedding-factory near where we now live. the wedding was crazy and loud. lots of food, lots of music, lots of people i didn't know. by the time she got to our table, she looked exhausted and as we hugged she whispered in my ear....when you are ready to get married -- just elope!

i still couldn't resist asking jared if we could just take the deposit and go elope in hawaii (since he want to go there so damn bad, more on that later)-- saving ourselves from some impending drama. jared didn't like that idea much. i had to try, right? the check exchanged hands and as we walked out of the restaurant we both looked at eachother with a bit of frienzy and giggled....we're really getting married!!


be prepared.
i consider myself a pretty good thrower of parties, so this should be pretty kick ass.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

getting things done.

I feel like this week should be over even though it's just tuesday. We have our engagement party on Saturday so there's a lot of anticipation for the un-official start to our engagement even though we've been engaged for over SIX months!! for some reason, my parents were very adamant about having an e-party. luckily for ours, we will be having just one, unlike the two they had to have since the 'rents didn't get along. jared's parents are flying in for the event and are thrilled to get to hang with my parents.

Anyway, it was a chill night at home with dinner on the patio. Chicken with broccoli rabe, sundried tomatoes and quinoa pasta with some fresh cucumber salad. then, we walked up the street and signed the catering contract.

Life is good. better than those cheesy shirts might have you believe. i much prefer their nemesis, life is crap. it's all about what you do with what you've got.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

meet heathcliff.

we just rescued him from a house full of cats. Let me know if you are
interested in saving any of his siblings.

I just hope cathcart can handle him.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

talk to the hand.

Last night while walking home, I got asked out by some guy on the
street. It was definitely flattering to know that I still have 'it'
but it was the first time since Jared and I got engaged that something
like that has happened.

What do you do in that situation?

Well, I just held up my hand, point to the bling, said sorry and
laughed to myself the rest of the walk home!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

the domestication of jared.

i knew back when i would visit jared in chicago that he wasn't much of a cook. he and his brother were roommates and basically, adam is a kick-ass cook and baker which gave jared no incentive to even try. so when he first moved here, i was prepared for the learning curve that he would have with anything culinary.

the thing is that i commute and an hour and half one-way (that's three hours total) each day for work. it's no easy feat, but someone has to do it to bring home the bacon, or in our case the taylor ham. jared's commute?? 12 minutes. yes, 12 freaking minutes!!!! and, when we first started living together i would schelp home and he (having been home for at least an hour, possibly more) would be sitting like a kid at the counter waiting for dinner. i am not sure where this behavior came from, but i thought to myself, it has to stop.

from that, i started to have him help me. first it was just cutting and prepping, then it might be cooking some sides. he was all too familiar with the george forman grill, and my little mini version got a lot of use as jared used it for the first few months to 'cook dinner'. we then invested in an even bigger george forman grill and for about the last two months, we (i am also to blame) have cooked almost every aspect of our meals from potatoes to veggies, to meats. it's not that bad being that it's summer and all, but i like to cook-cook. so i started it up again, letting jared grill when he can.

so today, after a long day of meetings i just wanted to eat dinner and hit the hay. i missed my yoga class and ended up on the same train as my man. he being awesome, dropped me off at the nail salon for a mani-pedi to unwind and when home to 'cook'. we had a discussion earlier in the day about how to cook the pork that i had thawed out but i expected that i would have george forman-ed food on my plate -- instead, i got a really damn good meal. pork medallions with carmelized onions, steamed peas and mashed potatoes!!! granted the mashed potatoes were instant and the peas were microwave-steamed. but, this meal was rather dee-lish. i actually am looking forward to it tomorrow.

i guess he actually learned when i showed him how to cook stuff.

love you, baby.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

engagement photos -- suggestions please.

do we need them?? no.
but our awesome photog/friend is all about them. and secretly, i kind of love the idea.

since we met in chicago, and then jared moved to nj, we decided that nyc was out. instead we thought of doing photos up by the west milford/ringwood area which is ironically where we both grew up. any ideas? we definitely want something out of the box, with a vintage charm to it.

i just did a search for 'west milford attractions' the first link was to
West Milford NJ Romantic Attractions and Things to Do for Couples. seriously?? McKeages? i used to tap dance on the bar as a child to get shirley temple's with my grandfather.

ha!!

it just occurred to me that we could do them in front of the 'flowerhead' (see pic to the right). ok, maybe not.

anyways, here are some real options:

greenwood lake airport

ringwood manor
or just somewhere near the mountain with my schwinn.


please advise!!!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

you are not alone.

i took a yoga class last night and at the end the teacher played a version of somewhere over the rainbow by Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, which brought me to tears as i layed in svasana. it was a song that i connect with the death of my grandfather. i know, it's sort of weird to say that, but upon his death, i was compelled to make a mix cd for the funeral home which is now part of everyone in my family's cd rotation filed under 'pops forever'. but for some reason this song in particular has some memory and emotion attached. music can do that to you.

i started to think about how the teacher from whom i received my training was very against playing music in class. i thought for a minute that she just was anti-music, but after visiting her home and seeing her extensive music collection, i thought otherwise. music has so much tied to it -- you know it does. there are songs that remind me of friendships, road trips, ex-boyfriends, specific periods in my life and even people who have passed away. i definitely like to play music in my classes, but i try to keep in mind that what i find hip or fun doesn't always work for others. the power of silence in a class can be just as strong.

on my recent vacation out to california, with alpha the great, music definitely played a big part. about halfway through we found out michael jackson died. wtf! michael jackson died. his music was some of the stuff i listened to and rocked out with my parents to in our living room.

driving through the streets of la, we heard lots of celebrity responses about his passing. one stuck out:
John Mayer said, Dazed in the studio. A major strand of our cultural DNA has left us. RIP MJ...Michael Jackson, like James Brown and Prince, are nearly uncoverable. The tunes were about his innate talent and can't really be replicated.

my sentiments exactly. right now on the radio, we are the world is playing. and as i hear it, i hear familiar voices. voices that i grew up with; they gave me advice, they cheered me up, they cheered me on and they kept me company when i was depressed.

for me, music is something that shaped who i am. my favorite childhood memories are the ones in which we would hang out in the living room and listen to the record player. luckily my parents had pretty cool taste in music. they taught me to appreciate music in a wide array of genres which i still hold to this day.

as i sit here and write this, my coworkers daughters are dancing around to michael jackson's thriller, giggling and knowing distinctively who he was....like his music was a sound found in nature.

rip michael j.


Friday, June 19, 2009

next up.

now that my sister's wedding is done, the attention and hysteria has shifted to me and jared. even at becca's wedding, about every other person made a note that, 'youuuuuuu're next!!'

our engagement party invites went out earlier this week and so, i am sure there will be lots of unexpected nagging and prodding -- it's already started over what cake-topper, serving set, type of candles, color of dresses, types of flowers, number of guests and anything else you can think of.

overall, i am pretty psyched. jared is even getting really excited. we met with our caterer last night to go over the menu and it's going to be awesome. we are even going to have a french fry table!!! a freaking french fry table with different dipping sauces.

since we are having the wedding at a non-traditional place we get to do all the planning. and though i opted to not have a planner -- luckily our caterer handles all the coordination on the day of-- the details can be fun but also time and $ consuming. being a frugal and creative person, i plan on diy-ing a lot of the wedding. luckily i have a mother, a sister and a mother-in-law-to-be who are all crafty.

here are some ideas on my diy projects:
  • sweets/candy bar. this one is pretty straight forward. we are going to get some cool retro-esque candy, i will bake some choc chip cookies and then i thought we could also get some mini-cupcakes to serve along with those. i found two really cool old glass jars that will give it a candy store sort of feel. if you have any you can lend us, that would be great!
  • diy flower bouquets and boutinieers. this seems pretty easy. i just watched a video on the process which really took a lot of the mystery out of it. this is something i think the bridal party could do together the day before. having five girls in the bridal party can definitely add up with all the bouquets, corsages and boutineers. i have to scope out the flower market and then decide whether i should go that route or one of the many online bulk sites. again, reccommendations are totally welcome.
  • favors. not sure what these will be, but i have a whole bunch of ideas bookmarked. this will be a fun project for the family to help me with.
so i am excited.... we have 309 days of fun planning and projects left. for now, we are looking forward to the engagement party at my dad's house in a few weeks!!

btw, we did pick some colors. since i really wanted jared to be a part of this we ended up going to look at invitation colors for inspiration. he really liked the silver and navy combo, as did i. we ended up picking those colors. i was inspired by this martha stewart pallette (see pic to the right).

i've already picked up some ribbon in that cool mossy aqua color. and my dress will not be blue, but i am sure there will be something blue involved. i also think that creamy white and peachy pink flowers will really compliment this combo. that means that the ladies will get to wear either a dark gray or navy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

going to the chapel.

This weekend, i watched my little sis walk down the isle and then say
I do. This was promptly followed by the best night of her life. I've
never seen her have so much fun!! And that made me very happy.

Congratulations Becca and Frank!!
xoxo

Monday, June 08, 2009

local lovin.

one of the great things about our new apt is that we live within walking distance of downtown and get to keep things really local. about two blocks from our place is the montclair farmers market. i was inspired to get some veggies for a light and and minimal cooking dinner. i picked up some cherry tomatoes, a big eggplant (for a buck!) and then some romarsi pesto, which is made by a local woman whom i yoga with. i've had it before and it's super yummy. here's my recipe(or just directions) for whipping up some dinner with those goodies plus some rice pasta.

easy pesto veggie pasta:

  • cut egglant int 3/4" cubes;
  • cobmine a container of cherry tomatoes and the eggplant and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper;
  • here's the part that makes it really easy: put all the eggplant and tomatoes on the george forman grill;
  • cook until the tomotoes get golden and shriveled;
  • bring a pot of water to a boil and add about 16oz. of rice or quinoa noodles (i used trader joes rice spirals bc we were out of my fave quinoa ones);
  • once done, add all the veggies and noodles, then add about half a container of the pesto and serve! salt and pepper to taste.

super easy, super yummy. i think that jared could even make it (think). its good hot or cold as left overs. i tried to take pics but on saturday, my iphone needed a break, that is i forgot to charge it the night before and it died.

all this local lovin made me really want to make my own pesto and really grow some herbs. so we trekked over to home depot for a little window box to start our own recession garden for herbs at least. hopefully in the coming weeks we can start composting. for now we have basil, tarragon, oregano and mint growing on our windowsill. the pic above is me at the home depot, which according to my married friends, i will learn to loathe. for now, i get a little bit excited when i go there, even though i only have use for about 5% of what they offer.

growing up, my father and mother planted fairly elaborate gardens from which we got most of our veggies and even pickled and canned things to eat throughout the year. i have always wanted to continue with that. there's something to be said about really getting what you can from what you have. we grew our own veggies, and even raised some chickens at some point for eggs. my parents taught me a lot about being frugal and getting the most out of things. thinking back, as i was growing up, i never was for want. and it was great bonding time to go into the garden with my dad and see what had sprouted up each day. i might not be able to grow much on my little apt porch, but at least it's something. and something is really what you make it to be. thanks mom and dad for the life lessons. xoxo.

Friday, June 05, 2009

only on NY: livestock

i ran out for chinese food at lunch and was quite startled to see this
little guy hanging out by the soy sauce.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

to whit -- twit?

why not.

i now twitter, though i am not sure what that means exactly.

follow me @nixiemarie.

Monday, June 01, 2009

wedding bells.

Congratulations Jamie and Steve!!!

this past friday was an exciting trek into the city via the ferry and a cab to experience the nyc city hall in all it's glory -- then
back to the chart house for an amazing meal.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

maid of honor.

in the next two weeks i will be maid of honor in two - count them - two weddings. not sure how i feel about this; one is pretty chill, and the other is not so chill. tomorrow i get to chill, and by chill i mean take a ferry to city hall and watch my bff get hitched to a pretty stellar guy. she's going all out full wedding dress and her two daughters as flower girls. i just hope the predicted thunderstorms hold off a bit.

i am having 5 girls in my wedding party -- is that too much? is it bad that i want them to wear black? what if i morph into a bridezilla and mandate pink taffeta -- what if? and what's up with having to 'pick my colors' now? why do people have to make this whole wedding planning thing a pain in the ass? i will remind you that i am getting married next april, not next week!

also, tonight my rents meet jared's rents. hopefully cathcart will behave herself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

louder than bombs.


jared and i attended church (this was the first time as a couple). i am conflicted on many levels about the whole world of church, but that's a subject for another blog entry. at the first reformed church of pompton plains, nj, the church of choice for my late grandmother, we joined my father and stepmother for the memorial day service. we were also there to meet with the pastor -- a woman, with hippie and Buddhist tendencies-- who we've asked to officiate our wedding. getting married brings up lots of life questions, and though jared and i are open, spiritual people the question of who could marry us was a bit of an enigma.

i met pastor kathleen the day of my grandmother's funeral; it was a sad day. i am inclined to be a crier, have been since i was a child, so this day was sure to be a doozey. here i sat with my father, my uncles and their wives. i felt like i got asked to the adult table for the first time and i wasn't going to screw it up. but then again we are talking about death and dealing with it, and let's face it all my fears and insecurities are rooted in the fact that one day all the people in the room, whom i love dearly, are going to pass on and usually just thinking of that mere possibility sends me into hyperventilation-mode. anyway, pastor kathleen was calm, cool and collected -- much unlike myself, but she definitely helped to calm me down.

she went through the motions of setting up and personalizing grandma's funeral service and then when we were all left with an unsettling silence/sobbing, she went on to explain death in the most simple and eloquent way ever. it was clearly (to me) a Buddhists perspective which explained a constant pulsation of painless perfection that is in all of us, that gets littered by the weight of the world to the point that we feel pain and suffering. and death, she explained was an ultimate letting go of that baggage, that pain and suffering.

i was impressed. my experiences of people who are christian are usually contained and textbook, that is, they would not be able to hold such a perspective and call themselves a christian let alone be a pastor. it was refreshing and encouraging to someone who never had any example of someone that could hold such beliefs at the same time. so it was a natural choice to ask her to perform our ceremony, and as an added bonus, it will honor my grandmother who would have been tickled pink that we are getting married there.

back to the service. it was full of olds. not even the type of olds i work with, but older olds. the ones who during the memorial day slide show practically stood up and saluted the flag. i have to say, it was moving -- but definitely not the type of folks i could see stepping outside of a sort of white evangelical christian perspective. there was a lot of talk of freedom coming at a price but overall i thought it was fairly restrained, suburban and conservative. i began to question if i totally misread the pastor. after the service we went up to talk to her, and then my mind was put to ease. she explained that though she was anti-war, the congregation was very old school.

upon leaving, she told us to check out her silent protest out in front on the church lawn. out in front there were about 50 flags stuck in the ground. they had signs on them with names of boys, their ages and hometowns. they represented all the boys (and i say boys bc the average age was 22) that lost their lives fighting for our country over the past few years in Afghanistan and Iraq. it was heartbreaking. we have to choose our battles, but we also have to remember the mistakes of our past. it brought a new meaning to memorial day for me.

every freaking day.

i get (verbally,mentally and actually one time physically) accosted by these street people under the guise of Children's International. they work the small block across the street from Bloomingdale's which happens to be the block i work on. admittedly, i have never actually given them my time so that they could goad me into giving some money to children in a third world country (think sally struthers but with a blue smock with CHILDREN'S INTERNATIONAL plastered across it).

they are there every freaking day. with their chipper smiles and sneaky ways. the thing is, that when i walk past them it is either to run and grab some lunch, which - mind you - i have to bring back to either eat at my desk or at a communal table with coworkers who eat and talk with their mouth full, or they catch my running on my way to catch the subway in hopes of escaping manhattan at the mercy of nj transit.

and they are out there in rain or snow, hot or cold; i just wish they could spread their love around to other blocks. there have been times that i had to forgo my chinese take-out of choice bc i just couldn't handle dealing with them. i have even resorted to pretending to talk on my cell when passing them. it's pathetic, i know. i guess that's what you get for working in the city.

Monday, May 11, 2009

grape escape.

along with all the craziness, there's always fun sprinkled in.

this weekend, with the help of family and friends, i wisked my bff jamie anderson out for a bachelorette party. we decided to forgo the usual debauchery and opted for a more adventure/learning party. the first stop was to a local wine making school which was way cooler than i could have imagined.

after a lot of surfing the net and conversing with jamie's sister and finacee, it was decided to go with the wine making project. the thing was, i had found this place on the web and really couldn't be sure if it was legit or lame. the first impression was a bit sketchy since it was located in an industrial park, behind a korean church. luckily we got legit and totally cool as opposed to lame. when we arrived at the grape escape (i can't decide if that name is hip or terribly unfortunate), in dayton, nj the owner greeted us and immediately handed us the scheduled printed up on a magnet. we were there for the first set in a four part process. today's mission = crushing. after about 2 minutes of introductions and overview, we were handing some of the homemade vino which was very good. nothing like a litte wine to start out your wine class!

the crushing process was very cool; we had 756 lbs of chilean malbec grapes to crush (see pic above). they were super-sweet and a dark inky color. unfortunately, we didn't get to stomp them with our feet - i love lucy style, but they said it can be done, if you do an entire barrel full -- oh and it takes about 3 hours. we moved the grapes into the crushing machine and watched them get pumped and tranformed into a big vat of pulpy grape juice. to the right is a pic of me dropping the grapes into the crusher.

after the juice (i believe in the wine-making world it's called concentrate) was made sure that the pH levels and sugar content were up to snuff. the sugar content converts about 2:1 to the amount of alcohol content in your finished product. there were some organic solvent sort of items added to assure the best color and flavor gets pulled from the juice. we mixed some more, sipped some wine and just enjoyed the whole experience. we got a tour and a taste for the other steps to come. the process goes: crushing, pressing, racking and finally bottling and labeling. you even get to design your own labels! they also offer wine tastings and bottle your own olive oil. some other people that were there making wine mentioned that the tastings are excellent and allow you to try the same wine from different barrels to actually taste the difference.


here's a pic of us all with the future hootch!
becky, kelli, pat, jamie and myself.

overall it was a great alternative to going out for a debaucherous night on the town! after the wine making we went back to my place, had some wine and cheese and then walked up to table 8 for an amazing dinner. the culminated with an adventure that involved a shopping cart, some bachelorette party decorations and a bunch of drunk girls. somehow you can take the girls out of 'the mountain' but you can't take 'the mountain' out of the girls!! best wishes jamie and steve!!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

polarized.

the past six months or so have been a jumble of craziness. some good -- most bad. my uncle paulie was diagnosed with cancer, my grandmother took a turn for the worse as she passed away, a friend was killed in a motorcycle accident and just this week my father suffered a heart attack. there's always a silver lining, or so they say. he was lucky enough to survive. but it begs the question -- when will all of this crap stop piling up on us? i guess it never really does. the thing with life is that it's never really static, there's always something changing.

when writing to a friend this week, i wrote about how i felt like i was the sand at the beach and the ocean was lapping over me again and again. somehow i am resilient, crumbling slightly and yet maintaining some form from the other sand around me.

back to that silver lining... somehow jared and i decided that nj would be a better place for us to live and with all this drama, i got to remain surrounded by friends and family for all the crap. things like my father's heart attack are also a wake up call not only to live life fully but also to be aware. aware of how you take care of yourself and all the little things that come along with living. the fact that my uncle is now in remission reminds me that no matter how glum the outlook, things can always turn around.

i read a really great article on huffpo yesterday about just these sorts of situations. in a way, it's like the world is falling down around us all. but at that same time good, albeit beautiful things are happening. for instance my sister and i are getting married. but we all experience these rough times. these times allow us to turn within and what the article calls 'incubate'. i teach this stuff every week in my yoga classes and i hope to exercise it in my own life. it's funny how you can so easily offer something out to someone when you barely can fully experience it yourself -- but that happens.

there's darkness and there's light. we have our assumptions about which is good and which is bad. but from a tantric perspective good and bad aren't as important. the importance comes from gathering fullness in both. incubation occurs in darkness and it is in that darkness that development and transformation happens so the individual can emerge into the light stronger and fuller. a better version of they already are (possibly).

i've felt this sort of anxiety over the last few months, like when will the other shoe drop...what else can go wrong?? i try not to get caught up with it but when so many tough things keep coming your way you start to almost expect more. we all wait for things in the darkness: answers, signs, disasters and even miracles. allowing the darkness to be a comfort changes things. try it.

in the meantime, i wait not for just the bad, but also the good changes. and i think tomorrow will be a mental health day to just chill out and enjoy the light. maybe someone can pray for the rain to cease for just a little bit.

Friday, May 01, 2009

gluten free date(steak) night.

Outback - who knew? Well, actually I read somewhere that outbak had a
gf menu. Luckily meat and potatoes are naturally gluten free so there
were many choices -- including a flourless brownie. Overall pretty
tastey. The menu had one thing that was suspect, it said that rice is
not gf. I beg to differ but maybe they put something in it to make it
glutinous.

thanks to uncle kev and aunt carol for our gift card. we definitely enjoyed all of it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

just be.

When I try to recall the girl I was decades ago, at my high school graduation, I seem to have as much in common with her as I do with any stranger I might pass in the doorway of a Starbucks or in the aisle of an airplane. I cannot remember exactly what she wore, or how she felt, or what she said, or ate, or read. But I can tell you this about her without question: She was perfect....

Trying to be perfect may be inevitable for people who are smart and ambitious and interested in the world and in its good opinion. But at one level it's too hard, and at another, it's too cheap and easy. Because all it really requires of you, mainly, is to read the zeitgeist of wherever and whenever you happen to be and to assume the masks necessary to be the best at whatever the zeitgeist dictates or requires. Those requirements shape-shift, sure, but when you're clever you can read them and come up with the imitation necessary.

But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitations. What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the world of becoming yourself.

More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Terrifying, actually, because it requires you to set aside what your friends expect, what your family and your co-workers demand, what your acquaintances require, to set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain, and its disapproval, about how you should behave....

Begin with that most frightening of all things, a clean slate. And then look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am.

This is the hard work of life in the world, to acknowledge within yourself the introvert, the clown, the artist, the homebody, the goofball, the thinker. Look inside. That way lies dancing to the melodies spun by your own heart....

Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted....

Give up the nonsensical and punishing quest for perfection that dogs too many of us through too much of our lives. It is a quest that causes us to doubt and denigrate ourselves, our true selves, our quirks and foibles and great heroic leaps into the unknown. Much of what we were at five or six is what we wind up wishing we could be at fifty or sixty. And that's bad enough.

But this worse: Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A berm overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed.

And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be.

I don't want anyone I know to take that terrible chance. And the only way to avoid it is to listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. George Eliot wrote, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." It is never too early, either.

"Being Perfect," Anna Quindlen

holy crap....this was so encouraging and true. i was never perfect, never even a bit close -- but inside i was beating myself up bc i thought i would never get anywhere near that said perfect. little did i know how much it really didn't matter. i emerged from my early 20's with poor self esteem and depression so deeply rooted that it actually affected the way i stood. like i was an old lady. it hurt to stand up straight and be me. there were a lot of nerves and insecure thought that pumped through my head and entire being like blood pumping through my veins.

life seemed to get a whole lot easier and fuller when i actually let myself just be.

Monday, April 13, 2009

grace is there to push you along

things keep moving. grace comes and gently pushes you forward, even though you long to linger in the sad memories.

this easter was our first holiday together, in our apartment. we entertained and ate lots of good food. new, happy memories.

we make them to remember during the sad times.

Friday, March 13, 2009

tonight in jungleland

it's bee a rough couple of weeks.

my grandma passed away on March 4th and i am still trying to process it. i wrote a few blog drafts but never felt quite right. there was all this commotion leading up to it, during the funeral and then even after.

jared moved to nj and it's going really well with the exception of his mean cat. i am so lucky to have someone who loves me so much that he'll move to another time zone to be with me.

then... yesterday i found out that my friend, steve king, was killed when he was struck on his motorcyle after a guy ran a stop sign in LA.

i guess this is life... really tough stuff and then really great stuff mixed in. either way, i feel really sort of numb. it's like sensory overload. i want to crawl back in bed and cry but then again i am not sure i actually would.

alpha found his obit online here - and yes, alpha, it doesn't do him justice.

it's not quite how i would explain steve.
there was never a dull conversation.
never a dull moment.
there was something restless and yet embracing about his spirit. all my memories of him are intense; that's just how he was.

last night on my way home i listened to Born to run. it was an album i think i introduced him to when i first met him three years ago on my birthday. we were in the car on the way down to AC. it's like i could see it change him. we listened to it on vinyl when we got back to montclair. the album always meant a lot to me since i remember listening to it with my dad... but now it just makes me think of him.

this song in particular....

The rangers had a homecoming in harlem late last night
And the magic rat drove his sleek machine over the jersey state line
Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
The rat pulls into town rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear down flamingo lane

Well the maximum lawman run down flamingo chasing the rat and the barefoot
Girl
And the kids round here look just like shadows always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand down in jungleland

The midnight gangs assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night
Theyll meet `neath that giant exxon sign that brings this fair city light
Man theres an opera out on the turnpike
Theres a ballet being fought out in the alley
Until the local cops, cherry tops, rips this holy night
The streets alive as secret debts are paid
Contacts made, they vanished unseen
Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted explode into rocknroll bands
That face off against each other out in the street down in jungleland

In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
Inside the backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the d.j. plays
Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners
Desperate as the night moves on, just a look and a whisper, and theyre gone

Beneath the city two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender in a bedroom locked
In whispers of soft refusal and then surrender in the tunnels uptown
The rats own dream guns him down as shots echo down them hallways in the
Night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light

Outside the streets on fire in a real death waltz
Between flesh and whats fantasy and the poets down here
Dont write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of the night they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand but they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in jungleland

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

let me bring you up to speed.

jared was here for valentine's day - our first as an engaged couple (i know, barf-city). he took my yoga class and totally kicked butt (there's a pic of us to the right just before he took class). then we went to the awesome table 8 in monty-clair for a romantic dinner. i seriously can't wait for him to be living in nj already.

so getting engaged was like a total whirlwind. all i know is that since my trip to florida for the holidays, life has blown by. there are some things i have noticed as a newly engaged person that are both pleasing and totally irritating.

ok...first off, i love the way people react when they hear i am engaged. i mean, i guess i knew they would react like this before. when i was single people would get upset for me that i didn't have a special someone...but the usual reaction is something along the lines of, 'you deserve all the happiness', or a sort of welling up congratulatory hysteria. it's awesome. and yes, jared and i are really excited. i am also realizing how many wonderful people are in my life that i get to share this happiness with from friend and family to coworkers and students it's a great experience to share.

the most exciting thing is that jared is moving here like in less than 2 weeks!! so that in itself has been a lot of work. i found us a new apartment (so long ann frank room) -- and it's awesome. i am so happy to have a real oven and a real kitchen for the first time if forever. i have already been cooking and baking more. moreover, the new place has a big bedroom, lots of windows, a dining room and an outdoor deck. plus it's right in downtown montclair. i really scored on this one. to the left is a picture of a blueberry pear pie i baked. it's gluten free - the crust is actually store bought, but i promise to make it from scratch next time. the pie filling was made with organic blueberries and agave nectar and topped with pears in the shape of a lotus flower, it was simply scrumptuous! i will definitely be experimenting with my baking expertise and other gluten, dairy and sugar free goodies! i can't wait until jared arrives with a dining room table so my entertaining can move from cushions on the floor to a proper table.

i am a 'person of action' as jared's grandpa says. all the while we have been trying to figure out the details of this whole wedding process. the day after we got engaged, we went to the book store and got a planner and it was really helpful to go over all the expectations that each of us had for a wedding before actually starting the planning. initially, we wanted a fall wedding but since my sister is getting hitched this summer, we are pushing the date out to spring 2010. that gives us lots of time to come up with fun and unique things for our big day. btw, our big day will be april 24, 2010.

that answers part of the burning question on everyone's mind. that's one of the things that kills me. seriously, can't people be engaged for like a month or two without having every possible detail planned (esp if your fiancee lives in another time zone??)?? now, the other part -- the location. we knew we didn't want a wedding at a big hall or as well call them, wedding factories. i do see the ease to doing this, since there is a lot of things to plan that a place like that covers. i wanted to have something more intimate and unique. we went through a list of places that could possibly work from wineries, to museums to whatever else anyone reccommended. our final choice was a women's club. they seem to be pretty popular out in these parts. i never really heard of them until i was planning a wedding. we looked at three: maplewood, montclair and glenridge. we decided on the glenridge women's club because it is just lovely and full of light.

so there's a lot of change in the air. i turn 31 tomorrow. i just realized that 21 was 10 years ago!! wow, time flies. 31 is decidedly better than 21. along with that comes a whole new phase to life which is at once scary and exciting. i'll keep you posted. xoxox