Finding the Perfect Pumpkin

Union Square Farmer’s Market

One of the very best things about Halloween (maybe the best thing) is carving a pumpkin. Husband and I have made some pretty kick-ass pumpkins over the years. Two years ago we carved an all green Albanian pumpkin with our friends in Albania. One of which had never carved a pumpkin!

We each carved a side of the pumpkin. Mine’s the puppy face in the upper left corner.

The year before that we had a contest in Tennessee to see who could carve the best pumpkin.

I obviously won this contest…

This year, I plan on trying some new tricks, but first I had to get a pumpkin. I did not want to take the easy route and pick one up at the grocery store on the corner. Instead, I drug Husband down to the Union Square Farmer’s Market bright and early to pick out a fresh locally grown perfect pumpkin!

I’ve walked through this famous farmer’s marker a few times, but this was my first shopping experience. I’ve got to say, it was a little overwhelming. There are organic fruits and vegetables, pickled veggies, jarred jams, cured meats, farm fresh eggs, cheeses, flowers, wine, syrups, and honey. Some of it is a pricey, but most of it is reasonable.

yellow cauliflower
black soy beans
fresh artisan bread
purple broccoli

The market was full of restaurant owners, chefs, students, and regular people like us. We bought a fresh donut, some hot apple cider, and test tasted ripe cherry tomatoes. There was even a cooking lesson in one booth. The chef was showing us how to cook sweet potato greens. I didn’t even know sweet potato greens existed! He sautéed garlic, fresh ginger, and the stems until they were soft, then added the leaves from the greens. He was also making boiled peanuts, one of my most favorite things! Everything smelled so good that I bought the greens and the peanuts.

brussel sprouts

The market was fun, and even though we had a giant bag of veggies and a pumpkin, I wasn’t ready to go home. We decided take Belle to the dog park in Union Square. Its too bad Belle hates other dogs and dog parks. I did a poor job socializing her when she was just a pup. She spent the entire time in the park on the bench shaking, and I ran around playing with the other dogs.

I tried so hard to get Belle to befriend this cute chihuahua.
This man LOVES his pug….

We went home and cooked up some greens, but have yet to carve our pumpkin. Hopefully, that post can be written some time this week!

Our produce pickings



A Magical Monday Morning

I never look forward to Fall because it means saying good-bye to Summer. Also, where I grew up Fall was not a pretty season. I grew up in Southeast Texas were the leaves just turn brown and drop to the ground, leaving every branch bare, and the city looking dead and colorless. Even after years of living in Tennessee, were Fall is always gorgeous, I still forget that the changing leaves are something to look forward to.

This year, I tried to remind myself that Fall will bring beautiful foliage, but it’s almost November, and the park has yet to look like a postcard!

We woke up this morning to take Belle on our weekly no-leash walk in Central Park. We both had less than 3 hours of sleep last night, but our Monday morning tradition has become so vital that we still managed to get up at 6:30am. Zombie-like, we threw on our coats, staggered out the door, and BAM…. overnight every leaf and tree had magically transformed to orange, yellow, and red!

We spent the early morning hours taking pictures, playing with Instagram, and guzzling hot coffee to try and keep warm.

Walking through the mall
The boat pond with a view of the Upper West Side

Mommy and doggy

Oh, how I love our Monday morning ritual! Hopefully, these picturesque Autumn scenes will stick around until the snow falls. Then, hopefully, the snow only sticks around for about a week because I WILL be ready for summer at that point.

Time for more coffee…that 3 hour snooze is starting to take it’s toll.


“Hello Brooklyn B-B-Baby”

Even after a 45 minute train-ride home on Saturday night, we still managed to get up and make the trip back to Brooklyn again on Sunday. And while were on the subject, I’d like to point out that the absolute best thing about using the train as my primary form of transportation, is the free time it gives me. I used to consider these long rides as time wasted, but now I see it’s value.

If I was driving in my own car, I would only be able to listen to the radio (and maybe put on some eyeliner), but the train gives me “hands-free time”…well not hands free, i guess…more like “hands…utilized time”? I can read, freshen my make-up, fix my hair, play on my phone, and still listen to my music. The PROBLEM with these free time options is that 90% of the time I forget my Nook, book, headphones, make-up, brush, and I never put anything on my phone except solitaire. This weekend I managed to play 32 games of solitaire…BUT I did beat my record 3 times, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss.

Anyway, we started our day in Brooklyn at Atlantic Antic, supposedly New York’s biggest street fair. It’s “a mile of food, music, and fun;”…and basically the same as every other New York street fair. If you are like me and LOVE fried food, lemonade, corn-on-the-cob, and lots of cheap homemade crap for sale, then these fairs are right up your alley.

Instantly, we lost Husband and his friend, which, of course led to lots of jazz hands (our signal for being lost/finding each other).

Once together again, we walked through the streets, but as we walked, booths were literally being picked up in front of us. We had to basically run down the street to reach anything before they pulled down their curtains, or folded their tables, and said “sorry, we’re closing.” Upon seeing our disappointed faces, one vendor informed us that the whole festival had to close early due to the Jay-Z concert.

The Barclay Center, a multi-purpose arena, just opened in Brooklyn, which is like, BIG news for this borough. Not only will it bring more tourists, money, and  jobs (hopefully), it’s bringing the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn. Jay-Z, a Brooklyn native, is a partial (like a miniscule amount) owner of the Nets and has apparently been dreaming of moving his team to his hometown forever.

Jay-Z has been such a strong supporter of the Barclays Center that he is giving eight (yes eight!) concerts in a row to christen the grand opening! Every single show is already sold out; that’s one heck of an opening. I don’t know how we missed or ignored all the advertisements for his shows, but I’m sure they are/were amazing.

We stood and gawked at the center for a while, hoping to somehow run into Beyonce and baby Blue Ivy before we went to dinner at The Rose Water.

At our dinner, we were so famished that we just ate and ate and ate and drank and drank, never once thinking to snap a picture (I know no one is tired of seeing my dinner pics yet, right?). Just trust me that it was beautiful and delicious.

Brooklyn, you were a fun weekend fling, but to be honest, I’m not looking for anything serious. It’s not you…it’s me. So, maybe we can just be friends? I’ll give you a call some time.


Christopher Columbus: Up close and personal

Thanks to this blog I am always looking for something new and exciting to do. I often feel like I should write more about my “excited outbursts”, but that tends to take more time and often causes more anxiety, so I usually put it off and write about a play or a new exhibit instead. The problem is that I am constantly having to find something innovative and interesting to see and do…this often takes research, a few train tickets, lots of picture taking, and then the blog writing…. woah.

I just this second realized that if I sat down and wrote about panicking instead of researching, traveling, watching, and reviewing I’d probably save a lot of time… oh well.

Anyways, the good news is that I live in New York and there is always something new and fun to write about! This week a new art installation opened at Columbus Circle.

View of Columbus Circle from the Time Warner Building, pre-art installation
view of the art installation

Columbus Circle is a landmark on the Upper West Side, on the Southwest corner of Central Park. In the center of the circle is a 70-foot column with a 13-foot statue of Christopher Columbus on top. This statue is basically impossible to see next to the skyline. It most often looks like a silhouette. I only noticed it because I was reading a tour book that described it while I was sitting in the circle.

A famous Japanese artist, Tatzu Nishi, has come up with a plan to fix this viewing dilemma. Nishi is known for recreating our experience with well-known monuments and statues. His idea is to allow people to get up-close and personal with our environment and even change how we look at these famous memorials. The Christopher Columbus statue is his first public project in the U.S!

His installation, “Discovering Columbus”, puts the statue in the middle of a modern 800 square foot NY apartment. You can very easily get free tickets for a designated time, walk up 6 flights of stairs, and then find yourself in the middle of a fairly cozy air-conditioned New York apartment. There are comfy chairs, a long couch, large windows with incredible views, a flat-screen TV, and leisurely reading material.

A little conversation piece in the living room

view from one “living room” window
The wallpaper was covered in American icons.

The idea is to combine New York’s modern style with the historical monument. Visit it, relax in the living room, take it all in, and let your imagination run free in this surreal world. We loved the installation so much that we considered moving in permanently; it is twice as big as apartment after all.

Thanks for reading and keeping me motivated to get out there and explore the world! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


Off The Grid in Greenwich

Lovely Day

Monday was a beautiful fall day here in Manhattan, and we hate to waste beautiful days so we decided to take a tour from our book of “Great Walks ”. I chose a tour through Greenwich Village because I think it’s a neighborhood we tend to neglect and I wanted to get to know it a little better. After all, it IS the hometown of Princess Mia Thermapolis!

We started the tour in Washington Square, which entertained us for about an hour before we had to force ourselves to leave. This little square/park is always full of the most creative, fun, and entertaining people. Last time we were here we talked to a film crew as they were preparing to film a shot for their TV or movie. The only thing we could find out was that it was a show being filmed for Fox. Being the jaded New Yorkers we sometimes are, we thought “Pfft whatevs…. Just another TV show, can’t walk anywhere without running into a film crew!”

Turns out that crew we chatted with were setting up for a scene for the first episode of Glee!!! We are such idiots!

This time I made sure to search high and low for Rachel and Kurt mingling on the park benches or dancing in the fountain, but I failed to find them. Boo.

I did, however, find MANY other “characters”.

This beautiful little girl danced for at least an hour straight to the beat of the drum circle performing behind her. When she wasn’t jiving on top of this column, she was doing cartwheels around the fountain.

I never did see her parents…

I was almost as excited to see this Waldo as I would have been to see a Glee character!

Where’s Waldo???

This pianist is famous for playing his piano all over NYC, but most famous for playing right here in Washington Square Park. His name is Colin Huggins and before playing in parks he was playing for Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre. Obviously successful, but not exactly content, he decided to begin playing outside in the city simply to bring others happiness. He has now managed to make a career out of his lovely idea.

Finally, we left the park to explore the tiny, winding, and very confusing streets of Greenwich Village. (Did you know that several streets have the same name, and at one point 4th and 10th –normally 6 blocks apart– intersect each other???) Anyhow, I LOVE this neighborhood. It feels like a cozy suburb; it’s almost like being transported outside of Manhattan. The streets are narrow, the buildings are much shorter, and it’s much quieter.

We got to see a few cute little courtyards between apartments that are adorable and pretty rare these days. Originally, these areas were for lower-income families and individuals. Others knew that poor people lived here because wealthy people preferred facing the streets to show off the front of their homes. Of course, now these former modest homes are now prime real estate!

Across from The Little Owl is Manhattan’s most narrow apartment. 75 ½ Bedford St. is a record-breaking apartment that was also formerly occupied by the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.  It’s for sale now if anyone’s interested….just a mere 4.3 million dollars.

A few blocks later we learned all about The Stonewall Inn. This is the birthplace of gay rights in America. A riot broke out here in 1969 leading to a year of political movements, and on the one-year anniversary the Gay Pride parade began at this same spot.

The park across the street, Christopher Park, is very small and shaped like a triangle, but appears to be pretty popular in the neighborhood.

hmmm, where to go next??

While standing at the tip of the triangular park I spotted a scene that seemed to be straight out of a movie.

I immediately ran over to introduce myself to this guy and his adorable triplets. He was happy to let me take pictures, and even handed me an ad for a movie that will star his three babies. (BTW the dogs are actually a Mommy, a Daddy, and a baby!)

At some point, the sun went down, and we found ourselves wondering the Village streets. We kept trying to get home, but somehow ended up in bookstores and other tiny shops. We did eventually make it home. This weekend was ideal, full of art, food, and exploring, I couldn’t have asked for a better time!


The Weekend Photo Album

Our recent weekend was full of lovely fresh fall moments. Besides spending all morning in the park with Belle, we did some sight seeing and people watching.

While relaxing in Central Park, right above Bethesda Fountain, we found two very young girls playing the violin. I am going to assume that these two girls are Juilliard students making some extra money for fun because they were phenomenal! They ended up drawing a very large crowd of people who sat and watched forEVER (hello! free concert!), and they each dropped cash in their violin cases before finally walking away.

Quite possible the most beautiful music I’ve heard on the streets (or sidewalks) of New York.

After listening and watching for a while we walked through the Mall and towards the Sheep’s Meadow.

Can’t wait until the leaves change colors

Near the volleyball courts we found a soccer match, and I was fixated on this intense looking goalie.

Later, we walked to Ward’s Island Bridge. This is a walking Bridge that leads to Ward’s Island (named after the large psychiatric ward located on the island) that Husband has been dying to check out. It was a nice walk, but the island itself was a little boring and slightly creepy. We couldn’t help, but think about Shutter Island and fear that we would never be able to leave.


Next stop was the Lower East Side to check out the preview of the highly anticipated LowLine. The LowLine is an innovative park being planned by a creative team in NYC. They want to transform an abandoned trolley station into and underground park, basically the opposite of the HighLine. The preview was a small replica of what to expect from the LowLine put together in a large warehouse. It was interesting to read about the plans for this future park, but it will be MUCH cooler when it’s actually completed.

I can’t wait to see the finished project with real plants growing under the city!

The cherry on top of our weekend was getting to enjoy the FABULOUS view from the top of a friend’s building (46 floors up)! His rooftop is complete with potted plants, small trees, and lounge chairs.

3 more days until my next weekend begins!



Off The Leash

I am getting better and better at this whole “waking up early” thing people keep talking about. My weekend this week consists of Monday and Tuesday (Happy Rush Hashanah!), and I have actually got out of bed at 6:30am BOTH mornings. For anyone keeping track I’ve done that 3 times in the last week. None of which were on actual workdays, but whatever. It’s so much more exciting to get up for a day of fun than it is for a day of work.

Yesterday, was truly a miracle, because not only did I get up with the sun, but so did Husband! We decided to wake up and take our one and only child/pup to the park for “off-leash” hours. Central Park allows dogs to be off their leash before 9am and after 9pm. I’ve done this with Belle once before, but Husband has yet to experience the awesomeness of no-leash hours.

NYC may be a concrete jungle, but it is also a city of dogs. Take one walk around our neighborhood and you are likely to find all sorts of fancy breeds, rescued mutts, enormous pooches, and tiny ones pushed in strollers. Zoey and I both have a (bad?) habit of loving on all the dogs we see. We can’t help but cuddle all the furry balls of cuteness being walked all around us. Being at the park before 9am is the holy grail of dog watching/petting/loving.

Belle grew up in both Texas and Tennessee and had the luxuries of large backyards, deer filled hills, and fields of grass to wildly chase bunnies and squirrels. In the mornings we could simply open the door and allow her to unleash her energy in the countryside. She still adored going on leashed-walks around our neighborhoods, but was also free to roam the yard leash-free (if raccoons and skunks were nowhere in sight).

For the last year Husband and I have felt really guilty about keeping Belle in our tiny apartment and only allowing her outside if she’s on a leash. Being attached to a leash makes playing fetch in the park a lot less fun, for both of us. So, yesterday, when we arrived at Central Park before 7am and immediately took off her leash I was 50% thrilled to let her run free, and 50% afraid she’d keep running and never turn back.

The entire park was filled with hundreds and hundreds of dogs roaming free. We saw poodles, Dalmatians, Mastiffs, Chihuahuas, German Sheppard’s, Corgis, Terriors, and tons of mutts and mixes. Every dog and owner were happily running around, playing fetch, and chatting to other dog lovers. It was so nice to be around other people who get it.

Dog owners relate the same way parents relate. We see another dog shoving his nose up our dog’s arse, and before their owner can apologize we give them the knowing “don’t worry, we get it look”. Then, when our dog turns around bears her teeth and begins loudly yipping at the butt sniffer, we receive the same knowing look. We’ve all been there. Our dogs are our loves, but we know they are often disgusting, misbehaving messes.

We walked Belle until 9am, when all the leashes were instantly latched on again. We bid farewell to our new doggy friends and walked home. I imagined Belle would pass out from exhaustion and we would use the quiet time to be productive. (i.e Husband will read Reddit and play Black Mesa, while I work on lesson plans and write blogs)

Belle immediately grabbed her favorite toy and excitedly jumped up and down, ready to play fetch over and over and over again, I fell asleep while watching Kelly and Michael, and Husband actually read Reddit and played Black Mesa.

We are looking forward to many more early mornings in the park before the weather starts getting too cold.

Also, if you have a dog, you must must absolutely must read this.


No Longer Hate Mondays

I don’t do Mondays…any longer.

Starting immediately, my weekends now consist of Sunday and Monday. Meaning, my new work schedule is Tuesday through Saturday. Even though I have been really excited about my 5-day work schedule (last year I worked Monday through Saturday, and often Sundays too), I have been a little apprehensive about having non-traditional weekends.

Today is my first Monday off. It’s only 9am and I already love it! For the first time in weeks I managed to roll out of bed at 6:30am on a non-workday. I was tempted to fall into my normal routine of curling up on the couch with Belle and going back to sleep, but recently a friend reminded me how “mornings are cozy”, and I decided to stay up and enjoy the alone cozy time.

It’s always nice to be off of work, but I’ve got to tell you, there is something even nicer about being off of work when EVERYONE else is at work! Teachers know what I’m talking about…summer mornings, snow days, and spring breaks are SO much better as an adult. You can really appreciate the fact that you get some time to relax or be productive at home, and secretly revel in the idea that most of your friends are still getting up early to commute to work. It makes you feel special.

This morning, I took my time sipping my hot coffee, made a yummy vegetarian egg and bacon breakfast burrito, and actually watched ALL of Good Morning America. I may not have gone back to sleep, but I am currently wrapped in my Snuggie as Belle sleeps next to me.

Love my Mary Poppins mug


The sun raises right outside our large living room window and slowly illuminates the living room perfectly every morning, so I don’t even need to turn the lights on as I putter around our quiet apartment. Writing and working in the natural light while wearing my pj’s and finishing my now room-temperature coffee is going to be my new favorite way to spend Monday mornings.

It’s currently only 61 degrees and very fall-like outside, the sky is as blue as ever, and I’ve already checked 3 things off my to-do list! I think this is the beginning of beautiful new relationship with my former foe, Monday.

This view never gets old.


Hope everyone else, whether you are work or at home, has a great Monday!