A Tour of My New Spring Garden

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I’ve been weeding and planting and nourishing and coaxing for the past several weeks, and now I’ve taken the first photos of this year’s garden. To my surprise, some of the herbs from last year’s garden grew back on their own—and the thyme persevered throughout the entire winter beneath the snow! Others I discovered at Home Depot and knew I had to try out, like chocolate mint and swiss chard (one of my absolute favorite leaves to use in a salad).

Without further ado, I introduce my garden for 2015. In the photo below, the back planter bed contains varieties of lettuce, and the front has a mixture of herbs and veggies. The tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi—along with eggplant, broccoli, and strawberries my dad planted—are on the other side of the house because it gets more sun.

Garden 2015

You can see that the basil plant in the lower right-hand corner already wasn’t faring too well when I took this photo. Yesterday I went outside and it had all but crumbled after a few very cold and rainy days here. I’m hoping that maybe what’s left will revive; I’ll have to do some research to see how to best help it gain some strength.

Garden 2015

I’m most excited to grow some swiss chard, so I also planted a bit on the other side of the house to see which spot it will grow better in.

Garden 2015

We made sure to have a ton of parsley this year so we can experiment with pesto, and Todd wanted us to grow dill as well. (I have since gotten more dirt to cover that dill pot a little better!)

Garden 2015

Exploring New York: The Bronx Botanical Garden Orchid Show

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I’ve been so busy planning for my move into the apartment downstairs with Todd in May and getting back into my editing career that I haven’t had much time to blog lately. But I did squeeze in a trip to the Bronx Botanical Garden, located only one convenient mile from my house. Once there, I saw that the orchid show was in full swing. I had never visited the collection in the past; why pay $25 just to see orchids in the conservatory, I wondered, when the rest of the grounds offered plenty of flowers and exhibits for free? But with the sun shining, the temperature inching toward 80 degrees, and the poem The Orchid Flower by Sam Hamill in my mind, I decided to just pay up and find out what all of the fuss is about—and I don’t regret that decision one bit.

Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Walking into the conservatory feels like stepping into another world. At once, the sweet scent of dirt and leaves and growth fills your nostrils, and your eyes aren’t sure where to settle because every angle offers new colors and patterns and displays. There, a star-shaped yellow orchid with red streaks like a sunrise. And there, purple with blue veins like a bruise. The backdrop to the displays are rainforest plants, adding even more color and mystery: strange curled fruit and cocoa beans, multicolored ferns and hanging vines. Most of the orchids grow straight out of the trees or from hanging planters; this is how they grow in nature, according to the exhibit, and they suck water from the tree to survive. Most of the orchids displayed are hybrids, some saved from certain death in the wild, and all are breathtakingly beautiful.

Botanical Garden Orchid Show

Although the conservatory was filled with people, it didn’t feel too crowded. We all flowed through at a similar slow pace, and people glided smoothly around each other as we all stopped to take photos or examine a plant more closely. The rainforest collection led to another exhibit of desert plants, where we saw various cacti, a venus flytrap, and plants that had evolved to look like rocks as a form of camouflage. And the hanging orchid displays continued to amaze us, with Todd and I quickly agreeing that the show was more than worth its price. As we finally found our way out of the conservatory, I couldn’t help but think about my own little garden, and my excitement for its second year just continued to build.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the show. If you’re in the Bronx while this exhibit is going on, I’d highly recommend attending.

Botanical Garden Orchid Show Botanical Garden Orchid Show Botanical Garden Orchid Show Botanical Garden Orchid ShowBotanical Garden Orchid ShowBotanical Garden Orchid ShowBotanical Garden Orchid Show

Happy Easter! (Or Passover, or Anything Else)

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Easter EggsYesterday, Todd’s sister invited me and my parents to a delicious seder meal at her house to celebrate Passover. We had a great time with his family! When we got home, we dyed our Easter eggs to get ready for our own Easter celebration today, which includes eating our dyed eggs for breakfast, going to mass to honor Jesus’s resurrection, eating a ham, and finally opening the platter of struffoli (honey balls) that we bought! Maybe next year I’ll try to make my own. For now, I just want to wish everyone a happy Easter, Passover, or anything else you might celebrate. I’m so thankful for all of you.

A Promise of Patience

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There’s no doubt that I had a great weekend. Todd and I sampled delicious small plates at The Stanton Social; I jogged 5.5 miles at an average pace of 11.5 minutes per mile, my longest run so far; and we walked with a friend along part of The High Line in Manhattan. As good as it was, this upcoming weekend promises to give last weekend a run for its money. I might get dinner with two close friends on Friday, I’ll spend Saturday with Todd, and Easter Sunday will be filled with family and laughter and irresistible desserts. But as the end of Lent approaches, I think it’s important to evaluate the progress I’ve made on my Lenten promise to give up impatience.

Trees on the High Line

Trees on the High Line

One of the things that tests this promise every day is the slow arrival of summer, and it hit hardest while walking the High Line. In summer, the elevated park overflows with colorful flowers and blooming trees, but in winter, their bark is pale and their branches spindly. I’m waiting for the trees to sprout leaves. I want to run in shorts, with sweat dripping from my skin. I want to walk outside without a coat. I want to start planting in my garden and watching it grow. I want to eat street foods and walk through street fairs and sit in Central Park and write poetry. But each time I feel that itch for summer, I try to take a deep breath and repeat a mantra: Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue.

I’ve also been trying to show less impatience in other areas of my life. I’m trying hard not to be anxious about when I’ll find my dream job or let myself feel overcome by the desire for Todd and I to move into our own apartment right now. In my daily life, I hate rushing from place to place or activity to activity, and I keep reminding myself that impatience is just another form of rushing. Everything will come in its own time, and impatience will only cause my life to pass by in a blur without true appreciation for every minute of every day.

I’m reminding myself to be mindful and appreciative of everything I do. When I eat a good meal, I try to savor all of the flavors. When I take a walk, I try to notice the scenery around me instead of getting lost in my thoughts. When I exercise, I try to feel how each part of my body reacts to my movements. I’ve been taking yoga slow, holding poses longer and using it as a lesson in waiting.

I’m not doing a perfect job of controlling my impatience—I still check the trees for blooms when I walk past the park near my house—but I think I’m making progress. And even though Easter marks the end of Lent, my journey toward patience is far from over.

Favorite Foods at the Village Voice Choice Eats Tasting Event

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A few weeks ago, Todd and I attended the Village Voice Choice Eats tasting event, where hundreds of foodies gathered to sample delicacies from more than 50 restaurants located in Manhattan and the boroughs. We expected the event to be jam-packed, but the crowds spread out pretty evenly and we didn’t have to wait in super long lines to sample any of the food—though certain crowd favorites, such as Luke’s Lobster, ran out of bites before we made our way to their tasting table. Here are some of our favorites, all from restaurants that we had never tried before but have now added to our list of places to eat in and around the city.

This Russian combo platter from Veselka had distinct flavors that merged savory and sweet. The pierogi was especially soft and tasty:

From Fort Defiance we sampled deviled eggs, which had a creamy center that melted in your mouth:

Fort Defiance: Deviled Eggs

We often had to pile plates on top of each other while browsing a row of tables, then we stopped at the end of the row to consume what we had gathered. We tried tangy yet refreshing broccoli soup from The Queens Kickshaw and a crostini with stracciatella, apricots, and roasted garlic from Brucie:

Choice Eats

Todd and I both agree that this Hot Goldie Sandwich from Untamed Sandwiches was the best bite we tasted throughout the entire event. It featured delicious grass-fed beef short rib, red onion, sweet and sour cabbage, and black pepper aioli on ciabatta bread. We enjoyed it so much that we went back for seconds even though we were stuffed by the end of the tasting:

Choice Eats

As much as I loved all the savory samples on the first floor, the second floor continually beckoned with its promise of sweets. I believe I found my favorite dessert of all time. Robicelli’s nutelasagna had lasagna noodles surrounded by cannoli custard, toasted homemade marshmallow, Nutella ganache, and roasted hazelnuts. It was a little messy, but so delicious:

Choice Eats

Here’s another plate of desserts, including banana pudding pie toped with a smoked peanut butter cookie:

Choice Eats

All in all, the event—and the sheer amount of good food—was worth the money we paid for admission ($65 each for general admission at 7 p.m.), and we are already planning to go again next year. It’s a great way to try out bite-size portions from so many great New York restaurants, and I would definitely recommend attending.

Sharing Some Blogs I Love

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My blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award… whatever that is! I admit that I am too lazy to Google search the rules of this nomination, though I am incredibly touched that the wonderful kzzinsky thought to include me in her list of nominated blogs. (Definitely go check out her blog as well; it’s filled with amusing stories and nuggets of wisdom.)

Because I’m not quite sure what the rules of this award are, I thought I’d just forego it altogether and instead just share with you some of the blogs I’ve really been loving lately. I suspect that’s the real purpose of the award anyway—to spread the word about sites that we enjoy reading and want others to visit. So, without further ado, here are some of the blogs I’ve been frequenting lately. I wish I could list them all, but I’m limiting myself to five:

Flake and Cake
Claire covers so many great topics, all tied in to the events of her daily life, which makes this blog a very interesting read! I always love her food pictures, pet pictures, and stories of her own personal journey.

Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes.
Dawn is such a lovely person, who always has a kind word and good advice. Her personality really shines on her blog, which is a meditative, thoughtful place to read about crafting, gardening, and other simple pleasures.

A Touch of Lovely
I love that Kelsey touches upon so many topics on her blog, from delicious recipes to restaurant reviews to whatever she’s most interested in at the moment. There’s always something new to find and treasure.

VeganRunnerNerd
Tammy’s blog provides great vegan recipes and, for all of us runners, lots of motivation and inspiration as she recounts her own runs and marathon training. Definitely a great blog for runners and nonrunners alike!

The Zero-Waste Chef
I love Anne Marie’s stories about her nearly plastic-free and zero-waste life, especially the “how to” posts that help the rest of us get a little bit closer to that goal. Plus, she’s just a genuine and kind person whose blog is well worth the read.

Our New Little Snowman Friend

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We received about 6 inches of snow here in New York during this most recent winter storm, and guess who went outside twice to shovel? (You can’t see me, but I’m totally pointing to myself right now.) When Todd got here, he helped as well—and then we built a snowman! I just quickly wanted to share some pics:

Our new little friend.

Our new little friend.

I stole his hat!

I stole his hat!

Todd is exhausted from too much shoveling...

Todd is exhausted from too much shoveling…