Exploring New York: Brooklyn Bridge Park

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On one of our first dates, Todd and I met up at City Hall Park in the Financial District and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. On the other side of the river, we stumbled upon Brooklyn Bridge Park, which seemed like a hidden gem amid crumbly brick buildings and a quaint ice cream parlor. On Saturday, we revisited the park as part of Todd’s birthday celebration in the city. Although some things have changed since our first visit, it remains a peaceful getaway where you can view the city from afar.

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Recipe: Coffee & Cocoa Steak

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Although I love experimenting with stir fry dishes in the kitchen, sometimes I like to keep it simple and prepare a delicious meal that’s also really quick! This cocoa and coffee steak recipe is just that. And as a bonus, you probably already have most of the ingredients you need to make it: salt, black pepper, ground coffee, baking cocoa, and thick slices of steak (I like to use prime rib for this, but you can really use any type of steak you want). You’ll also need a broiler pan (shown below).

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Overcoming My Fear of Biking

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I enjoy running in 5k races around the city, such as the NYPD Memorial Run or the Roosevelt Island Ice Cream Social. I also love jogging on my own or with a running buddy around the neighborhood, exploring little-known trails or picking a destination like the miniature golf course. It’s especially rewarding to reach new milestones: this past weekend, I managed to jog five miles! But running is easy: one foot in front of the other, slowly at first and then building up to a faster pace once you’ve trained enough to handle it, the comforting feel of the asphalt always beneath your feet. Running feels safe. Biking, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

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Growing My Green Thumb: Italian Parsley

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I almost forgot that along with my purple basil and pineapple sage–the two herbs I rely on most from my garden–I’m growing flat Italian parsley, which is “probably the most commonly used herb in the world!” (One day soon I’ll share with you a healthy and delicious pasta recipe that relies primarily on Italian parsley, roasted tomatoes, and cottage cheese.)

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Learning Yoga: Camel Pose

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Here in New York City, it’s a beautiful day to grab your yoga mat or a blanket and head to the park. Unfortunately I have to finish up some homework for an online media class I’m taking, so I can’t go enjoy the sunshine. Instead, I’ll do the next best thing and share some photos of last weekend, when I actually did go out to Central Park with my friend Beyza to practice yoga on the Great Lawn. One of the poses we tried out that day was Ustrasana, or “camel pose.”

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Poem: The Space between Words

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I used to know how to write
a poem about anything
rain patter on the window, lanterns
strung up in the garden, breathing
and listening and
aching
inside there is a space
that longs to be filled
o words!
miles logged on hot asphalt
will take you far away
from that stark void
that glimpse into the Real
but eventually you have to come
back home and I will be here
waiting

Book Review: The Story of a Soul

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We’ve all had moments where we feel so stressed or anxious that we aren’t sure how we’re going to make it through. During one of those times recently, I lay in bed and closed my eyes and imagined my grandmother (who died in 1995) standing before me. Many in my family have associated my grandmother with roses, so I said to her, “Grandma, just let me know everything is going to be okay. Show me a rose.” I eventually drifted off to sleep.

The next day, I decided to go to confession before mass since I hadn’t in some time. As I talked with the priest, he suggested to me that I read The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of the Little Flower, written by St. Therese of Lisieux. When I looked up St. Therese on Google, I realized that she went by a number of names: St. Therese the Little Flower, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and St. Therese of Roses. According to the Society of the Little Flower:

As she was dying in the convent infirmary, Therese could look out and see the rose bushes blossoming. She loved roses. She had thrown rose petals as a Child before the Blessed Sacrament. … Roses are Therese’s signature. It is her way of whispering to those who need a sign that she has heard, and God is responding.

Whether that’s a coincidence or a sign that my Grandma is up there in Heaven and heard me, I’ll leave up to you to judge. On the priest’s suggestion, I purchased St. Therese’s book, and ultimately was glad that I did.

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My Garden, One Month Later

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On June 12, one month had passed since I last updated you on my garden, just after planting. I spent part of this weekend weeding and pruning and watching and watering. Then I blended some purple basil (1 cup), Italian parsley (1 cup), and thyme leaves (0.5 cup) with olive oil (1.5 cup), vinegar (0.5 cup), lemon juice squeezed from half of a lemon, and a teaspoon of sugar to make a tangy yet flavorful salad dressing. Later, I helped my dad plant some more seedlings he found in the shed; I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if they grow. For now, I offer you a mini photo tour in celebration of my garden’s one-month birthday.

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Countdown to Disney: Olaf’s Adventures

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As of today, 50 days remain until I go to Disney World with my boyfriend this August. We’ve been planning for the trip for quite some time; we already made all of our dining reservations and picked out our FP+ options. So to celebrate this milestone of our trip-planning journey and the magic of Disney, I decided that it was time for a very silly post, which led me to dream up the adventures that Olaf must have while I’m at work editing manuscripts.

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Immersion Journalism at Its Best

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Ted Conover really knows how to craft a journalistic narrative that draws the reader in and doesn’t let them go until the very last page. He takes facts and details and conversations and experiences and turns them into a story that readers can relate to, even if you’ve never been to Sing Sing (where he worked as a corrections officer) or China (one of the roads he focused on in his latest book, Routes of Man). Even after I’ve returned one of his books to my shelf–the top one, where it snuggles against the Tim O’Briens and the Haruki Murakamis–the broader themes that he tackles stay with me.

In his first book, Rolling Nowhere, Ted stole aboard freight trains and road the rails, learning the ropes and getting to know the hobos who called that life their own. He embraced adventure and turned what could have been awkward social encounters into opportunities to learn about a little-explored phenomenon. Now, married and the author of four additional books, Ted has finally returned to the rails. And this time, he brought along his son. I highly recommend reading his latest article, “My Train-Hopping Odyssey Through the American West,” in which he introduces his son Asa to life on the rails and struggles with the twin desires to let Asa get a taste of adventure and to protect him from what is, admittedly, a somewhat dangerous outing.

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Symbols of Hungary

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I often wish that I could afford to take another trip to Hungary. I miss Pest’s Central Market Hall and the walled gardens behind Buda Castle, the sunny lawns on Margaret Island, the spires of the Fisherman’s Bastion looking out over the Danube River, the white and sea-green cabins along Lake Balaton, and even the rotten sulfur scent of the mineral-filled Lake Hévíz. I cherish any moment that lets me feel like I’m back in my ancestors’ homeland, which is why I couldn’t wait for the 39th Annual Hungarian Festival in New Jersey.

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Learning Yoga: Chair Pose

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After injuring my knee several months ago, I started doing yoga at least once per week in an attempt to stretch out my IT band, strengthen my core, and improve my posture and balance. I quickly realized that yoga is hard work! Even seemingly simple moves like downward-facing dog take effort. After several breaths, you can really feel the pull in your hamstrings and the ache in your arms from holding the position.

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Recipe: Coconut-Pineapple Stir Fry

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I love cooking stir fry meals. They’re generally pretty easy to make and they really lend themselves to experimenting with fresh flavors. In the fall, I made a chicken stir fry with apples and butternut squash. For summer, I decided to make a steak stir fry with a tropical twist. (Note that this recipe makes the amount seen in the pan below; I think it could safely serve four people, if not more.)

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Planning for Disney’s New FP+

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As part of Disney’s new MyMagic+ initiative at Disney World to give guests “more control” over their experiences–and mostly to track their movement and spending throughout the four main parks in a dual effort to lessen the crowd overload and encourage shopping. Although that’s a simplified description, it gets across the gist of the program. As part of MyMagic+, guests receive RFID-enabled magic bands to wear that act as key cards, credit cards, and more. Whereas Disney used to have paper FastPasses (FP)–slips of paper that allowed guests to return to a ride at a specific time later in the day and bypass the long standby line–the technology has all been moved online. That’s where FP+ comes in.

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My Experience at the First-Ever BookCon

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This past weekend I attended BookCon, a new series of panels and exhibits accompanying the renowned Book Expo America (BEA) at the Javits Center in Manhattan. Whereas BEA invited only publishing professionals to browse its stalls, BookCon welcomed everyone, which meant that it was way more crowded than I had originally anticipated. But all of the free autographed books that I came home with definitely made up for the long lines and more than covered the $30 ticket price.

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