New Year, New (Old) Me

Standard
15727034_10105767151633699_5816091365761933334_n

Our first picture of 2017, just before our midnight run through the neighborhood.

While reviewing last year’s list of resolutions, I was happy to see that I achieved many of them: I lived healthier, ran a half marathon, and attempted to be more appreciative. But the year also came with some disappointments. I learned a few basic language skills, but failed to really improve my Hungarian. I tried a few new things, but not as many exercise classes or out-of-the-box activities as I would have liked, and I’m still anxious about going to those kind of events on my own. I read 50 books, but basically failed to do any of my own writing. So, in 2017, though I have a bunch of new goals, I also want to especially focus on those old ones and familiar ones that have stuck with me.

Learning
love increasing my knowledge, whether it’s by reading National Geographic on the subway or downloading a dozen apps I think I’ll use. But often I take on too many learning projects and some of them end up falling by the wayside. In 2017, I think I need to prioritize which mean the most to me, and which I’ve been trying to achieve for the longest time. My Hungarian is at the top of the list: I’d like to find a way to improve my fluency, even though I have no one here to speak it with and don’t know when I’ll visit the country again, since I just went on my honeymoon. But it’s important to me, to how I define myself, and I don’t want to lose those skills just for lack of practice.

Experiencing
I’ve always felt that part of an experience’s joy comes from the people you share it with; that’s why I try to pack my schedule with as many hangouts with friends and as much time spent with Todd and family as I can. But time alone is also a blessing; it allows you to better know yourself and to allow yourself a little space and a little quiet to think and breathe and just be. In 2017, I want to venture out on my own a little bit more. To take that ballet class or go to yoga even if I don’t have a companion. If I don’t start proactively doing things, I’m never going to try anything new. That said, I am still going to treasure my experiences with other people, like going to a French pastry-making class with Todd (it was one of his Christmas gifts to me) and training with him to run the New York City marathon in 2018.

Writing
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. The urge to put pen to paper lives inside my muscle memory and aches when it goes unfulfilled. And yet, I often don’t write. The litany of excuses is endless: I’m too tired. I don’t have enough time. I can’t get my ideas in order. I have other things to do. But my word of 2017 is focus, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. Focus on one idea, on the words, on the Hemingway quote I had inscribed in my iPad when I first bought it: “The writing is the only progress you make.”

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and goal-crushing new year! What are some new resolutions you’ve made? Are there any old ones you’re still working on achieving?

Exploring New York: My Top 5 Coffee Spots…and 1 Bonus Pastry Shop

Standard

Generally, I’m a tea girl. Give me an apricot black, coconut green, or blueberry red in one of my many cute Disney mugs, and I’m set. But lately I’ve been trying out espresso-shot lattes: piping hot, iced, or somewhere in between after I’ve left it on my desk for a couple of hours. One factor driving my foray into the world of coffee: New York City boasts endless coffeehouse options, and I’m not talking about Starbucks. Here are some alternatives actually worth your five dollars. Continue reading

Recipe: Hungarian Plum Dumplings

Standard

I can’t remember the first time I tasted a Hungarian szilvás gomboc. I must have been only five or six years old, perhaps watching wide-eyed as my nagymama sliced open the thick breadcrumb-dusted potato dumpling to reveal the sticky purple plum inside and sprinkled it with cinnamon-sugar. I don’t know if I loved or hated it at first bite, whether I needed time to acquire the taste. I don’t know how many my mom let me eat, though now I can practically inhale five or six of them if I don’t stop myself in time.

Plum Dumpling Continue reading

Exploring New York: A Taste of Hungary

Standard

I’ve been meaning to put up a full review of The Dandelion, my favorite brunch spot in Philadelphia, but between my freelance editing gig for O, The Oprah Magazine, gutting and painting the apartment, and figuring out how to deal with Cercospora leaf spot on my Swiss chard, I just haven’t had the time. And now that the weather is warming up, I’ve also been trying to soak up the heat outdoors as much as possible: jogging, strolling aimlessly, meeting up with friends in the city. One such get-together led me to the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side.

Continue reading

Symbols of Hungary

Standard

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.

Continue reading