My Thanksgiving Plans

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This year, Todd and I will be hosting Thanksgiving in our apartment for the first time. Well, my mom is going to be helping us a lot since we live in a two-family house and she’s right upstairs, but it’s the first time we’ll have both sets of our parents and a few family friends gathered around our table for the holiday. It’s really exciting to plan the menu and figure out the logistics of who’s going to sit where, but it’s also a lot of work trying to make sure there’s something for everyone and plan out my baking and cooking schedule. Luckily I’m off from work on Wednesday, so I’ll have an extra day to get things ready.

One great thing is that everyone is going to be contributing: Todd’s mom, Rachel, will make her famously delicious glazed corned beef; my mom will bring a ton of supremely yummy dishes, like Italian lasagna and meatballs, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and a few other Thanksgiving classics; and Todd and I will make a few Thanksgiving-with-a-twist dishes, like coconut-sesame green beans, cranberry-fig chutney, and bruleed sweet potatoes. We’ll also be making an apple-cider turkey. And I’ll be baking too: a pecan fudge pie, a pumpkin pie, and a few mini fruit pies. My brother’s girlfriend, Megan, will be making a sugar-cookie cheesecake, which sounds so good!

I’m excited to see how the evening turns out, and to take plenty of pictures of family and food (if I don’t eat it all first).

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Bryant Park Holiday Market Food Photos

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Since I’m swamped at work and don’t have much time for philosophical literary musings (or NaNoWriMo—I know, I know, that was supposed to be my Wednesday blog topic), I’m going to share some food photos from the Bryant Park holiday village instead. Every year, the winter market features small shops and food stands, as well as an ice rink. Todd and I visited recently to browse for some early Christmas gifts and get dinner; we tried so many places, and there are still others on our list for next time (cookie dough hot chocolate, I’m looking at you). Here are some photos:

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One section of the Bryant Park winter village, all lit up and glowy after work.

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Roberta’s small pizza, with sausage, onions, basil, and a drizzle of honey. Deliciously crisp yet chewy crust, only I wished there had been more cheese.

 

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A “bing” from Mr. Bing; it was like a thin pancake stuffed with duck, egg, crispy wontons, scallions, a delicious mystery sauce, and probably other ingredients I’m forgetting.

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Amazing fried chicken! With a chicken bun and a beef bun, both of which were good but not anything to write home about. 

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One of my favorite meals ever: a crunchy baguette filled with ham and pickles and lots and lots of gooey raclette cheese.

 

Countdown to Disney: 45 Days

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20953500_10106693311536829_1695517932177272958_n.jpgMy Disney obsession is no secret. I first visited with my parents and brother in 2001, and thought I don’t remember much of the trip—to those who know me well, it’s also no secret that I have the worst memory in the world—I know I had a good time. Todd and I visited together early in our relationship, then again in 2012 when he proposed. And on our recent trip to California with my parents, we visited Disneyland for the first time (right). But every time we’ve gone to that magical place, it’s been warm and sunny—until now. This year we’ll be in Disney World for New Year’s Eve, so that we get to experience all of the holiday decor plus a special celebration to welcome 2018.

There’s only 45 days left until our trip, and we’ve planned it down to the tiniest details. We know which day we’ll do which park, we’ve made restaurant reservations and plotted out which shows we’re going to see, and we’ve booked fastpasses for the rides we most want to experience. I know it’ll be crowded (read: completely and utterly mobbed), so I think all of our planning will serve us well. Of course, we’ll still be spontaneous here and there, and I’m sure we’ll have tons of impromptu photo sessions. I also can’t wait to see what kinds of holiday snacks we’ll find; I’m trying not to do much research in advance so that I can be surprised while we’re there.

So now I’m just counting down the days, and in the meantime, I’m looking back at photos from all of our previous trips. Here are a few gems from our trip last summer:

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Todd, Dad, Nick Wilde (from Zootopia), me, and momize-full wp-image-10066″/>

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The fam on Splash Mountain.

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Snapshots of some of the delicious food we had during our visit!

Restaurant Review: The Beehive

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Some of my favorite Sundays are the ones when Todd and I meet up with my cousin Nikki for brunch. She planned my bachelorette party and was the maid of honor at my wedding, but we’ve been super close since childhood, when we used to make costumes out of our grandma’s excess sewing material. Because Nikki lives upstate from me and Todd, we usually try to pick a brunch spot that’s midway between our towns. Recently we tried out The Beehive in Armonk; it had gotten great reviews, and we wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.

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A side of bacon, a chocolate-chip pancake (what’s with the sole orange slice?), and a side of ham.

The breakfast menu, served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, was pretty expansive, and the dishes ranged from simple (oatmeal with brown sugar, homemade pound cake) to more complex (french toast stuffed with cream cheese and apricot jam, topped with a berry reduction). The prices varied, too. I thought that $11 would be a reasonable amount to pay for that french toast, but $5 for a fruit bowl seemed crazy. I could buy a whole tub of fruit for that price! I almost didn’t order the side of ham I wanted when I saw it was $4.50, but I bit the bullet and ended up being pretty happy with how generous of a portion they gave me. Todd’s side of bacon (also $4.50) was another story; you can see from the photo above that he only got three pieces, and they had a weirdly burnt taste to them.

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Corned beef hash eggs Benedict.

Nikki ordered the corned beef hash Benedict (right) and Todd ordered an eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and avocado. The hollandaise sauce in both was light and airy, and the eggs were cooked right: slightly runny on the inside but firm on the outside. The hash was plentiful and delicious, salty and savory in all the best ways. The Benedict, while satisfactory, wasn’t anything special; it could have used more salmon and maybe a small salad on the side. Then again, it might just be a pet peeve of mine when egg dishes don’t come with a side salad.

So, this wasn’t a flawless brunch, and clearly there are improvements that Beehive can make. But one thing was kinda close to perfect: my brioche french toast baked with macadamia nuts and fruit, topped with fresh berries and raspberry sauce. True, the pineapple was likely from a can, there were only four strawberry slices, and the raspberry sauce was nearly nonexistent. But sometimes less is more, and what this dish lacked in fruit quality, it made up for in french toast goodness: golden, buttery, crispy but chewy, sweet yet yeasty. I’m not even a french toast girl, but this one was the stuff that dreams are made of.

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Brioche french toast.

 

List It or Skip It? My Recent Reads

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Here’s a quick rundown of some of the books I’ve read from spring to fall, and a recommendation on whether you should add them to your must-read list or not even bother. (Goodreads Reading Challenge progress: I’ve completed 49 of the 55 books I pledged to read this year!)

List It…

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware: Ware has quickly become one of my favorite thriller writers, and this latest slow-burn thriller didn’t let me down; my only complaint is that it had a similar premise to In a Dark, Dark Wood (old friends get together and something terrible happens) but wasn’t as well executed as that earlier novel.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak: What happens when a British family is placed under quarantine for the Christmas holiday? You’ll have to read this engaging, funny, lyrical novel to find out. Spoiler: It involves two unexpected guests and innumerable shocks and surprises, most of them not so full of cheer.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy: A parent’s nightmare comes to life: two couples’ kids go missing during a cruise-ship excursion and are subsequently kidnapped. Though some details feel overly dramatic and frankly unbelievable, the book is a page-turner that will keep readers hungry for more.

The Epiphany Machine by David Burr Gerrard: This literary novel combines storytelling with interviews and “news” articles, all centered around a tattoo machine that writes on a person’s arm the one thing about themselves they’re too scared to admit—or is it all one big hoax, a self-fulfilling prophecy? The suspense keeps us reading, but the downside is that we never find out for sure.

Skip It…

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: Despite this book’s hype and the author’s clear grasp of the writing craft, I felt no connection to the characters: a rather lecherous aging wanna-be rockstar, plus all his high-school friends, and a kleptomaniac woman trying to figure out her life.

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer: In her first novel for adults, the Twilight creator seems to have hit a new low; when the narrator isn’t droning on about guns and tactical plans, she’s mooning over a totally predictable crush. And somehow Meyer’s writing manages to be even more atrocious than ever, with cliches and bad metaphors galore.

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson: Having just reread Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express in anticipation of the upcoming movie, I had high hopes for this fictionalized account of an unexplained period in Christie’s life when she went missing. Unfortunately, the book was hard to get through, with a stilted voice and dull scenes.

A Runner’s Dream

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Yesterday, for the first time in 40 years, an American woman (Shalane Flanagan) broke the finish line tape of the New York City marathon! I’d been following her career with interest, so I was especially excited to watch her succeed in what she’s called a childhood dream. Her unofficial time was 2 hours and 26 minutes—only one minute and one second faster than that of the three-time defending champion. It’s so crazy to think that had she taken a slightly slower pace, she might not be celebrating victory today. It’s something that strikes me every time I run: whenever I want to slow down, I remind myself that even a few seconds can matter, though my races are nowhere near as high stakes as the marathon was for a four-time Olympian like Shalane.

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View from the Pelham Bridge in the Bronx. #nofilter

I’d never dreamt of running a marathon. In fact, a few years ago, I couldn’t begin to contemplate completing a 10K. But somehow, the sport takes hold of you, and once it does, you find yourself pushing farther than you’d ever believed possible. And in 2018, I will race the NYC marathon, even though racing double the amount I’ve ever run before seems intimidating at best, impossible at worst. About half a year from now, I’ll start looking into which training plan Todd and I should follow (yep, he’s doing it with me; I have the best husband ever) and I’ll focus on things like pace and gear and timing and energy gels and how to run 26.2 miles without having to pee.

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A perfect postrun snack: Cocoa-topped coffee accompanied by a homemade, whole-wheat, pumpkin olive oil bread with walnuts and fresh ginger!

Until then, though, I’m going to just bask in the run: short two-mile morning jogs under the few stars I can see from my neighborhood, long runs in the Botanical Garden or to the cemetery to visit my grandma and grandpa’s headstone. My running dream is to appreciate each experience, even if it’s hard or I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV instead. This weekend, Todd and I did a run to the beach and back home, seven miles in all. We didn’t worry about how fast we were going, we just took in the scenery and walked when we needed to and ran just to enjoy the run. For me, that’s the best part. That and and the post-run coffee (accompanied by carbs & protein!) I like to have when I get back.

Restart & Refresh

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I just finished taking a short, unannounced hiatus from blogging. I felt overwhelmed trying to figure out what to write about each week, plus it’s kind of crunch time at work right now as we finish up the January issue of O. Next week will be even busier, but this morning I realized that if I didn’t start writing again soon, I might never return. It’s so easy to let this passion project get swept aside to focus on things that need to be done—but sometimes it’s just as important and soul-affirming to focus on the things I want to do.

During my time away, I realized I need a better posting schedule to keep myself more accountable, rather than just blogging when I feel inspired. It’s the same tactic I’m taking with personal writing projects: I’ve decided to do National Novel Writing Month again this year and have set a word count goal for each week (today’s day 3: I’ve got 1,794 words so far and am going to need to do some catching up over the weekend). So, with that in mind, I’m going to try to post as follows: Mondays will be for miscellaneous thoughts, whatever random things are on my mind to kick off the week or a recap of what I’ve been up to over the weekend. Wednesdays will be for posts about books, writing, reading, philosophical musings. Fridays (starting next week) will be all about food: recipes, restaurant reviews, gardening progress, etc. And I’ll try to intersperse those with holiday blurbs, follow recommendations, and anything else that pops up that seems worthy of blogging about.

Of course, I might not end up sticking to that schedule, but I’ll at least try it out to see if it leads to more frequent posts, or even just more ideas. When one thing isn’t working, it always helps to experiment with something else. Hope you’ll all still follow along on this journey!