BAGGU Nylon Backpacks

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My fiancé and I have been riding bicycles all over Brooklyn the last few weeks, which is a wonderful joy. However, neither of our bikes have baskets yet. This nylon daypack from BAGGU would be a great solution for carrying a few belongings while cycling. It's super-lightweight and it folds up into a pouch, so if you only need to transport something one way, you could fold it up for the ride back. Also, I'm a sucker for stripes, so this hits on a weak spot in my scope of desires.

Love: 99 Thank Yous Cards

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oooooh, I love, love, love these 99 Thank Yous cards from Kate Spade's stationary line. Aren't they just the sweetest? They're $20 for ten cards and envelopes.

Pasta With Roasted Zucchini, Almonds and Basil

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday night before running the half-marathon, I wanted to eat some healthy carbs, and I figured it would be a good excuse to try out a new recipe. (Plus, we were having friends over, one of whom is a vegetarian.) Back in October I had clipped an article from the New York Times about whole wheat pasta, but I'd never gotten around to trying any of the recipes from the article.

We tried the Creamy Pasta With Roasted Zucchini, Almonds and Basil and it's a winner. I doubled the recommended lemon zest and the almonds, and added a sprinkling of fresh, chopped basil on top. I might add even more of all those things next time to boost the flavor.

Creamy Pasta With Roasted Zucchini, Almonds and Basil
Adapted from the New York Times

2 medium zucchini, cut into
1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons slivered almonds
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 sprig basil, with leaves and stem
3 tablespoons goat cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or linguine
4 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Toss the zucchini and oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Arrange zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until golden and tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
3. Simmer the cream and basil sprig in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 7 minutes. Lift stem out of sauce and remove the leaves from the stem and put them back in the sauce.Whisk in the goat cheese until the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and keep warm.
4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well. Toss the pasta with the cream sauce. Serve topped with the zucchini, almonds and fresh basil. Add a few grinds of fresh pepper to taste.

Yield: 2 servings

Brooklyn Half Marathon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon. It was the longest I had run since I ran the New York City Marathon on November 1, 2009, and it felt great. Or rather, it hurt, but it was the best kind of hurt. I wasn't super-speedy, but I'm really happy with how fast I ran considering how much training and preparation I had done for the race (which was almost none).

I'm planning to run New York again in the fall, and today gave me a taste of what it will be like to be training again. A few months back, I interviewed Mark Bittman for a story about running and he told me, "I run marathons to train," and I knew exactly what he meant. The race itself is icing on the cake. The training is the part that is deeply gratifying, that rewards you little by little each week. The tiredness that comes from long, endurance running is the best kind of calm I know. I love it. I wish I'd spent more time running long distances in the last year and a half, and I'm ready to get back into the habit.

And yes, for those of you wondering, I am going to plan a wedding and run a marathon at the same time. Training for the race won't be too much extra time on top of my usual running schedule (the long runs each weekend will add a few hours, but that's not much), and I looked at the calendar and our wedding date will fall a prefect amount of weeks out from the race to make it a rest weekend, so I won't have to clock 15+ miles on my wedding day -- though let me tell you, I will run on both the morning of our wedding day and the day after.

Wedding Postage

Friday, May 20, 2011

Okay, this is my first official post about wedding planning. These days brides' wedding details obsessions includes not only the invitations themselves, but the actual stamps you place on the envelope. I know many brides opt to create personalized stamps for their invites through companies like Zazzle, but it seems like this costs almost double what it costs to buy a regular 44-cent stamp, so that is out of the question on principal alone. The U.S. Postal Service has also graciously created some wedding-themed first-class stamps with either white roses or a pair of godl wedding bands, which frankly, make me want to barf.

So, what to use? I'm currently working through my stock of Katherine Hepburn stamps for my mailing needs, but it seems weird to use a stamp commemorating a person or an event for a wedding. Right?
Then there are the love-themed stamps, which are decidedly less puke-y than the wedding ones. Both the king and queen stamps above and the flower love stamps below seem like palatable options. There are also some very simple, tasteful pine cone stamps (bottom) that I believe must have been a holiday offering. It's not seasonally appropriate, but our location is sort of woods-y and the reception will be outside, so these seem somewhat fitting. What do you think? Which stamps should we use?

Dorothy Draper on Weddings

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I cannot believe I have not mentioned it before, but I adore Dorothy Draper's Entertaining is Fun!: How to be a Popular Hostess. I believe this cheerful tome offers advise that is often surprisingly relevant today, despite having been written in 1941. Plus, reading about 1940s entertaining is a hoot. With my impending nuptials on the horizon, I decided to re-read Ms. Draper's thoughts on weddings and other special occasion. Here are some gems:

"A wedding in the family -- your own, your sister's or your child's -- is a very special sort of occasion. For one thing, even in these practical times, a wedding gives you a perfectly good opportunity to be as sentimental as you like. It allows you to satisfy all your love of romance." Permission to be a sap -- I love it!

"If you're having a dancing party whatever else you may decide to economize on don't let it be the music." What would Dorothy Draper think of an iPod loaded up with all our favorite songs? I suspect she would approve.

"It's entirely a matter of personal choice. Which one you choose depends on the size of your house and of hte church (if you plan to be married there) and on the amount of money you are willing to spend on a wedding. You also have to take into account the size of your family and his and the number of friends and relations you decide must be invited." Must is the operative word here. My fiancé and I had originally drafted a list of 80 people who must be invited. After consulting with our parents, that number quickly grew to more than 100.

Photo Campagin for Chance

Chance is a new brand designed by Julia Leach, who was the creative director at Kate Spade for many years. I love the simple clothes (I'm always a sucker for a striped t-shirt), and I really love the photographs that Chance commissioned of the line. If anyone knows who the photographer is, please let me know. The vibe of these shots is the perfect amount of nostalgia without turning into a caricature -- and the light, oh, I love the light.

Bookmarked Recipes: May

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Two springtime recipes I have bookmarked to try are this Chickpea Cake with Fava Leaves and Arugula Salad from Gather restaurant in Berkeley, CA, from Sunset magazine and a Rhubarb Strawberry Compote from Food52. I'll let you know how they turn out once I have made them!

Going to the Chapel...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I apologize for my long blog silence, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of work, out-of-town guests and some big news. I've been debating whether or not to mention on this blog that my boyfriend and I are engaged to be married. Ultimately I decided that yes, it's something I might like to blog about. While I feel that our wedding is a very private matter, there's lots about planning a wedding that I would love to share.

First, I'll say that we are having a short engagement. My lovely boyfriend asked me to be his wife a month ago and we are planning to wed at the end of September. Many people have seemed shocked (truly: Shocked!) that we intend to plan a wedding in just a few months. I know many people who spend more than a year planning their weddings, but for us, we wanted to capture the excitement of the moment and not drag things out for months on end. Plus, in the end, it's just a big party and there's no reason it should be that hard to pull together.

Second, it was my turn to be be genuinely shocked when I discovered how much my peers spend on weddings. My mother always said that we could plan a wedding for $10,000, which, frankly, sounded like an awful lot to me. I've since learned that many women spend that much on a dress and that the average wedding in New York costs more like $40,000. That is a LOT of money, and I can't imagine spending it on one day. I'd rather pinch my pennies on the wedding, and save to buy the house I hope to someday own. There are some costs that are unavoidable: Food, wine, a tent, but there are many that can either be eliminated entirely or cut down to the bone.

Now don't think I am a wedding Scrouge. I am so thrilled and ecstatic to be getting married, and the idea of a party with all my nearest and dearest to celebrate the occasion is nothing short of thrilling. I just know that there's a way to do this that keeps costs to a minimum and still leaves us with a beautiful celebration to remember for the rest of our lives. I'll tell you more about it as we plan.

The Gardens at the Cloisters In Spring

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

On Good Friday my family and I made a late afternoon visit to the Cloisters. I hadn't been up to the museum in more than a decade, so it was almost like going for the first time. While the art was, of course, impressive, I was most captivated by the gardens, which were just starting to show signs of life.

It makes sense that the gardens are stunning, the word 'cloister' actually refers to an open-air courtyard surrounded by covered passageways in a monastery. The museums name essentially means "the gardens." Plus, the museum's literature notes that the gardens were one of the main attractions when The Cloisters opened in 1938. If you get a chance, it is well worth a visit. Here are some of my photos from the day we visited.

 This unusual flower looked like it could be  some rare kind of tulip.
 A view of one of the gardens and the covered walkways beyond.
 Another unusual flowering plant growing in the cloister.
 A young espalier tree was just beginning to bud when we visited, and its older counterpart was more fully abloom.
This espaliered tree is just about the most amazing things I have ever seen in a garden. Ever. Really. It floored me.
 A closer detail of the tree's blossoms.
 One of the garden's quince trees is surrounded by a medieval style wattle fences.
 I loved the brickwork in this garden and the upright bricks as edging -- major inspiration for my imagined renovation of our front garden.
 A wider view of the wattle fences and brick pathways.
An attractively groomed shrub (I believe a box tree) that reminded me of something out of Doctor Seuss.

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