Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writers I Love

Today I saw a post on facebook asking people to list their 15 favorite authors of all time who have had an impact on and influenced their lives. Over the weekend I was debating taste in novels with my book club, and reminiscing about favorite authors of my past. I tend to have a rather random taste in books ranging from high "classic" literature to the most scandalous romance novel you can imagine. Some I loved in the past. Some I love now. So here's my list:

  1. R.L. Stine: Goosebumps anyone? I'm pretty sure I own every one ever written, and then graduated to his scarier novels for slightly older kids
  2. Tamora Pierce: The starring character in her novels was a female knight who had purple eyes and magical powers. Need I say more? I believe I was in her fan club at one point
  3. John Steinbeck: My love affair with him started after I read East of Eden. His themes are timeless.
  4. Roald Dahl: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the only book I've read more than 5 times.
  5. Mary Higgins Clark: This was another "scary book" phase I was going through. I read every mystery I could get my hands on. Hard to believe with what a wimp I am today about scary stuff!
  6. Margaret Atwood: LOVE.
  7. E.E. Cummings: Poets count, right?
  8. Maya Angelou: For whenever I need a dose of girl power or a kick in the pants to stop feeling sorry for myself.
  9. Nora Roberts: Guilty pleasure. What can I say? My aunt just keeps passing along bags of her novels.
  10. Terry McMillan: Hello?! She wrote How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Waiting To Exhale, and NOW almost 10 years later, she just came out with a sequel to WTE called Getting to Happy. Color me excited.
  11. Louisa May Alcott: Because sometimes reading one book by an author is enough to make me love an author for life. Little Women. Enough said.
  12. Jane Yolen: She writes the cutest little story books about beautiful faeries and elves, which would not be complete without illustrations by Lauren A Mills.
  13. Carolyn Keene: Because Nancy Drew taught me how to love books. I used to make my mom read me her novels until she fell asleep, and then I'd pick them up and read out loud until she woke up.
  14. Chelsea Handler: I don't typically laugh alone on the subway to myself like a crazy person, but she made me. Several times. I have to admire someone who is funnier in writing than live.
  15. F. Scott Fitzgerald: Epic.
I always find it interesting to find out what people I know are reading. Their taste never fails to surprise me. There is nothing like a good novel to take your mind off your troubles, transport you to another place, or pass a peaceful day. I know a number of other writers/bloggers read my posts. What are some of your favorite authors?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ladies. Go. Vote. A. Week. From. Today.

Yes, I'm sick of hearing all the election jibber jabber on tv. And yes, I'm also sick of being accosted by political canvasers on my way to the subway every morning. But I'll still be voting on November 2nd. I would never give up that right, no matter how annoyed I get by candidate bickering. You shouldn't either. There is a rising complacency among young Democrats that might risk flips in senate majority, and major changes if voters don't get out, get to the polls, and vote for what they believe in. Republicans, I respect your views. I just don't agree with most of them.

One of the things I love most about the Obama's (among many) is their crusade for health, and against child obesity. It's an affliction our nation needs to take drastic steps against that is compromising the health of a generation for life in many cases. Marie Claire magazine interviewed the Health Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, who is in charge of Obama's widely disputed health care reform bill. Here are some reasons to motivate you blue loving ladies to DVR an episode of Glee, and go wait in line to cast your ballot for liberal minds and women's rights.

 In Obama's ideal health care reform world:
  • Being battered by an abusive partner and reporting it to the police is no longer considered a detrimental pre-existing health condition to disqualify women from benefits
  • Chain restaurants must post calories on their menus (with the goal of cutting down the 1/3 of women in the US who are obese)
  • Pregnancy, or having children with health problems is no longer considered a detrimental pre-existing health condition to disqualify women from benefits
  • Birth control may be categorized as a preventative health care measure (and will be subsidized as such)
  • Women will no longer be charged more for non-employer sponsored insurance than men just because they are female
  • Women will no longer have to pay higher deductibles for life saving screenings for breast and cervical cancer
Like what you hear? Get your lazy bum off the couch, and have your say in who gets to make the laws that control women's bodies and health care options, or set them free. Suffragettes fought for you to have the right. Go out and make them proud!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Secret Romance

Just when you thought that Tiffany Keys or $30,000 watches with hundreds of tiny diamonds floating across the face were the only way to a woman's (OK my) heart, Stella McCartney went out and found you another way in. She debuted a line of 14 karat gold disks that ranging from prices of $3,745 to $2,265 will certainly be less expensive that some extravagant jewelry with a message that says "I deeply care about you" more than, "I want to buy your affection." Literally.

These adorable jewels came right in time for you to start saving up for Valentine's day, and would be perfectly paired with a box of conversation hearts. Each mature looking charm mounted on a swing top pendant has a hieroglyphic like message on one side, and flips to read a mushy little love note on the other. Be Mine and I Love You were featured in the October issue of Vogue. Hey, I was just reading my old School Days notebook, where each year I was asked to describe myself in my own words. At age 10, in the fifth grade, I self identified as having "expensive taste." I might as well live up to it, right?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spooktacular Time of the Year

Halloween is my second favorite holiday (Christmas is first-duh). And it's officially one week from today!!

I look forward to it every year, and start brainstorming costumes months in advance. I love the excuse that it gives me to eat way too much candy, and dress up in a ridiculous outfit for a night or two. Add pumpkin carving, haunted hayrides, and spiked cider, and it's nearly a perfect holiday. Last year, I was the Hamburglar one night, and Glinda the Good Witch for the second night of celebration. I didn't think I could top those costumes this year.

Then I came across the Nintendo section of Ricky's. I'll be visiting my sister for Halloween weekend this year, and we are going to live out the Nintendo characters we've played our whole lives for the evening.
I'll be going as Princess Peach.

My sister will be going as Yoshi. I cannot wait. What are you going to be for Halloween?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Gems of Augusta

This week I had a series of firsts. I rented my first car, I stayed in a hotel by myself for the first time, and most importantly, I visited the capital of Maine for the first time eva. Going in to the trip, I had mixed expectations. I hadn't heard great things about Augusta (Disgusta as some Maineiacs like to call it). I heard it's the land of chain restaurants (true) and that everything closes around 9pm (true). Compared to NYC, it's snooze town. But there were some gorgeous little nooks I discovered in my travels. First of all, the leaves. So pretty, and the fresh air. It just makes you want to step out and take a deep long breath. The country side is gorgeous. Then, in the midst of Applebees and Arbys, the star of lunchtime emerged, Bay Wrap. It's a wonderland of salads, vegetarian wraps, and health.
Then there's Water Street, overlooking the valleys of the Kennebec River (which I had white water rafted a couple summers ago through Northern Outdoors) surrounded by banks of changing trees.

I visited the Capitol Building, which is really quite majestic, and the State museum.

Look at all that open space! And blue sky!

And last, but most definitely not least, I sampled the famous Lobster Stew at Hattie's Chowder House in the neighboring town of Hallowell. It is a must have. It's basically a giant bowl of lobster meat with cream poured all over it. Best served with oyster crackers and a large pint of Allagash.
Just in case you need to have some now, you can order lobstah stew, and all kinds of chowdah to your door online at this site over night express. You can thank me later.


There comes a time in all of our post-college lives when we realize that it's time to ditch the tattered Bob Marley poster, the room dividing beads, and the empty keg in the corner that "adds character" or that we were just too lazy to return in favor of "adult" decorations.

I was on a cleaning spree lately, and I threw out a bead curtain, a Bob Marley poster, and a giant print of Johnny Depp playing the piano. A while back I framed a couple prints, so now my room displays Dali's Space Elephants and Gustav Klimt's Life and Death (though my print is cropped just to show the life part).

I felt the need to have some real art looking classy on my walls, matted and framed. It is peaceful to be able to gaze at a pretty painting before you go to sleep.  No, I haven't gotten rid of my foam finger, or my graduation tassle. That stays. It's school spirit! And there are some things from college that should just stick around--like your BFF's.

In the spirit of redecorating, I was perusing my dad's college BFF's photography. He just started selling his gorgeous prints on this website that he just launched at extremely reasonable prices. My favorites are the balloon festival, and the Grand Teton National Park. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Words of Wisdom

" A diamond is just a piece of coal that stuck to the job."
-Michael Larsen

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Search Underwhelmed

Is anyone else sick of these obnoxious Bing! commercials? I mean hello?! We've all used Bing when it just happens to be linked to Internet Explorer. It really doesn't work well AT ALL. If these commercials are trying to advertise the random content, totally unrelated to what you are looking for? Then yes, they may be accurate. If they are trying to advertise how wonderfully Bing works as a search engine? Well, that's just wrong, and inaccurate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Up in the Air

I really enjoy flying. I've never really understood people who are scared of it. Taking off and landing are my favorite. It's like a little roller coaster ride involved in getting you where you're going. Then there's the views. I always request a window seat so I can get a first glimpse of the new city I'm flying in to, and watch the one I'm flying out of turn into a patchwork of roadways, waterways, and quilts of fields. In the middle, you're surrounded by a blanket of puffy white clouds. And, it's an excuse to chew lots and lots of bubblicious to help keep your ears from popping too much. Can't beat that. Enjoy the view.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh You Fancy Huh

A couple weeks ago I got a raise and lots more responsibilities at work (Yay me!). As a result, for the next few weeks I'll be traveling for work Monday through Friday around New England. When I got my first check with my new pay rate this Friday, I decided it was time for some celebration and a some special treats. So, I scheduled a facial and have spent the past couple days picking up some accessories to make myself a real lady traveller.

For the facial (my first ever) I went to Mario Badescu  salon. They proclaim they have the best facials in NYC. I can't say it lived up to that, but it was relaxing. My beautician massaged my face, neck, and shoulders, put my hands in special hand warmers, and misted my face with steam in between treatments. I fell asleep a couple times to the tune of relaxing music with cucumbers on my eyes. Sigh. If only every Saturday afternoon could be like that. As a bonus, I scored some travel size samples of Mario Badscu's own Super Rich Olive body lotion, Botanical Body Wash, and Citrus cleanser. It's like they knew I needed mini products for my trips. I came out refreshed with a glowing complexion.
Next stop was Sephora to pick up travel size perfume. I will not go several weeks without smelling pretty. I chose Stella McCartney Rose Absolute, my go-to fall scent an a .33 oz roll-on.
While I was there I scored some travel size make up removing cloths and supported endangered animals with Josie Maran's Bear Naked Wipes. A portion of the proceeds from every sale goes to NCRD's Polar Bear SOS Initiative to keep the animals from becoming endangered.
Final stop was TJ Maxx for some lady luggage. I do not want the hassle of checking a bag every time I run through the airport, so I picked up an adorable mini hard side carry on by Travel Concepts in Fuchsia.
Lady traveller package complete. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Song I'll have on repeat all weekend

NYS Latest Plan to Cut the Budget?

WIC is a federally sponsored program to provide nutritious food to pregnant women and their infants and children. It provides vouchers for specific supermarket items like cheese, fruit, and formula. I worked in a grocery store in high school. I rang up many of the vouchers. Lately I've been seeing all these WIC commercials extolling the wonders of breast feeding. Now, I agree that breast feeding is a wonderful thing for those who think it's right. It burns a TONs of calories for the momma, and can boost babies immunities. However, it seems like WIC sponsoring all these commercials is a thinly veiled effort to cut back on the formula vouchers they have to provide. Breast feeding is a very personal choice, not something the government should be pushing on mothers as the "right" thing to do. Is this how bad the federal budget has gotten?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't forget to get your Flu Shot

It's that time of year when everyone around you is dropping like flies. I've seen it my office already. I came down with a nasty cold myself, and countless people have been in and out of the office for colds and stomach bugs. Unfortunately viruses aren't all that preventable. I wash my hands regularly, I take airborne when I start to feel sick, and in general I'm a pretty healthy person, but sometimes I still get sick. That's just how it is.

There is one bug this time of year that's easy to prevent with a teeny tiny shot in your arm. The Flu. As someone who has had the flu many times (once twice in a year!), trust me. Even if you are afraid of needles, the small pain is much better than the chills, fever, vomiting, congestion, and other unpleasant side effects that come along with the flu. And no, you won't get the flu from the vaccine. I don't know why people keep spreading around that nasty little rumor.

This year's vaccine protects you against 3 different strains of the flu, INCLUDING last year's H1N1 virus. And if you don't have a doctor you see regularly, or insurance, many drug stores are offering flu shot clinics with cheap shots. If you're looking for a flu clinic near you, check out the CDC's flu shot finder at this site. You can stop stockpiling Tamiflu you bought off the internet now. I'm getting my shot tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Best Playlist Ever

I'm a huge playlist person. I love making playlists on my iPod. I think my fondness for it hearkens back to the days of mixed tapes and then mixed cd's when I would have hours of fun recording songs off the radio, then a few years later burning cd's to take on trips. I'm a big believer in the idea that music sets the stage, so if I had a vacation planned, I would bring cd's to listen to while we're getting ready. If I was taking a road trip, I would make themed cd's for the ride. If I'm having an apartment party, you should be sure I have at least 4 playlists on hand to keep the atmosphere fun and dancy.

That being said, I have millions of playlists on my iPod with random names that mean nothing to anyone except me. I have them named for spring break trips (Acapulco 1-5) in a code that only my friends understood (Myrtle Bee's), named after people, mixes to run to, and then just randomly named for the mood I was in when I put it together.

Today I created a particularly genius combo of songs that I've been so happy with all day I thought I was worth sharing with you all. Here's the scenario. I was walking to work, and feeling like listening to a little Whitney Houston, "How will I know" specifically popped into my head. This is what it produced:

1. How will I know: Whitney Houston
2. Always be my Baby: Mariah Carey
3. Come on Over: Christina Aguilera
4. Manic Monday: The Bangles
5. A Moment Like This: Kelly Clarkson
6. Step by Step: New Kids on the Block (Yes, I do have them on my iPod)
7. The Sign: Ace of Base
8. Genie in a Bottle: Christina Aguilera
9. Falling into you: Celine Dion
10. Power of Goodbye: Madonna
11. Didn't we Almost Have It All: Whitney Houston
12. You Got It (The Right Stuff): New Kids on the Block
13. Fantasy: Mariah Carey
14. You Make me Feel (Like a Natural Woman): Aretha Franklin
15. Runaway: Janet Jackson

Try not to be too jealous of my fabulous 80's/early 90's music selection.

Wake UP

 John Legend has collaborated with The Roots to put together an album of soulful songs from the 60's and 70's that highlight the need for social consciousness. The aptly titled Wake Up! wants people to look around, and realize the need for awareness and engagement in the world we live in. The theme is open up your pretty eyes and take stock of what's going on. The album also features Shine, a John Legend original track that is featured in the upcoming documentary Superman.

I can't think of a better pairing. In my opinion, John Legend is one of the most talented vocalists out there right now. And, if you read this post you already know how I feel about The Roots from the solid paragraph I devoted to gushing about how FANTASTIC they were live when I saw them perform this summer with Talib Kweli.

I think the real measure of an artists talent is how they sound when they perform. The real greats of the music world sound even better in person than they do in the perfect conditions of a recording studio with countless re-do's and digital remasterings. Performers who are really good wow you every time. You can't fake that. I'll definitely be adding this album to my most played lists on my iPod.

Monday, October 11, 2010

House-Mouse Designs

As you may have picked up on, I'm a total sucker for a cute little animal in pretty much any form. If it's small and fuzzy, I love it. If it's dressed up, I love it all the more. Doing some activity that's ridiculous for an animal? Even better.

As such, I've been a faithful patron of the House-Mouse designs ever since I discovered their cards many years ago. I was on a stroll down the main strip in the Village of Schroon Lake while taking a foray "in to town" after some time spend camping on Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. I was pretty little, so to break up the camping trip, my parents would take my sister and I from the campsite to get ice cream in the Village of Schroon Lake, or for some souvenir shopping. On one of these jaunts I came across these little mini cards of teeny tiny mice doing the most adorable things. They play in flowers, dress up for Halloween, or run around eating snacks much bigger than they are. Normally, when I think if mice, I think of how soon I can call the exterminator. These little guys? They can stick around. They're too cute for words.
 Does this make anyone else really excited for Halloween?

To my delight, I recently discovered that they started a new line of Happy Hopper goods featuring little bunnies running around being adorable.

Check out their website for stamps, cards, matted prints, or an illustrated book for the little kid in your life. They have e-cards for when you get sick of paying Hallmark $1.99 per electronic greeting. It's the one mouse you won't mind having sitting around your house.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Carnival in NYC

The Park Avenue Armory in NYC is opening it's doors until tomorrow night with a 55,000 square foot carnival from 11am to 7pm. The Wade Thompson Drill Hall will be transformed into a whimsical fantasy world modeled off a fair the Armory threw in 1979. There are midway rides, stilt walkers, jugglers, magicians, and contortionists. Check it out. $5 admission for adults. $20 for unlimited rides!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Words of Wisdom for the Day.

If not you, who? If not now, when?

The Snuggie Sutra

Just when you thought snuggies were for shut ins and old maids...Google it. You'll see what all the buzz is about.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rush Hour in the Subway

What is it about rush hour in the NYC subways that makes your average Joe morph into an obnoxious human being? Everyone has to do it, most people twice a day. The trains are crowded. These are the facts of life, but if people just treated each other with a little consideration instead of totally freaking out, things would go much more smoothly.

You've got your average suspects:

-The Unpredictable: This is the person who gets all deer in the headlights when going through the turnstiles or making any move. They will pause, look around fearfully, then dart out in front of you suddenly at the moment you least expect it, totally cutting you off and blocking your path. This often occurs just before you get on the train, making you miss your chance at being to work on time.

-The "Good Samaritan": This guy is the one who is pushing everyone and trying to cram himself onto an already full train, and yells, in a nice tone, could you all just move in please? He acts like he's doing everyone on the platform a big favor by speaking up and asking for more room. Well, sir. I'm pretty sure if we could move in, we would to avoid being sandwiched in like sardines. You're the problem. Step out and wait for the next train please.

-The Stinker: This person will not be afraid to reach for the overhead bars and expose their smelly smelly armpits. Often they will be unshaven, or excessively hairy. They make you wonder just how someone can sweat so much so early in the morning.

-The Door blockers: These characters just don't seem to understand that if you turn sideways people still cannot get by you to enter and leave the subway. Yes, you may be taking up less space than when you stand facing out, but you are still in the way. The whole notion of moving to the center of the train to make more space for people entering and exiting is completely over their head. Instead they would rather just clog up the path for those of us who grasp how to use space efficiently.

During this special time of day, people seem to forget people are people, and instead anyone just becomes an object standing in the way of them getting home. Why, you might wonder, as I have many times before. Well, I have an answer for you. I studied Sociology, and as such I tend to observe groups of people and wonder why they act the way they do. Here are my thoughts on the subject. The rush hour phenomenon, it all comes down to collective behavior, more commonly referred to as pack mentality. Can't you just see it now? A senior thesis entitled Pack Mentality and Rush Hour in NYC's subways?

The earliest theory of crowd behavior is associated with G. Le Bon, who said that in periods of social decline and disintegration, society becomes ruled by the law of the crowd--think looting during blackouts, and how rapes and murders tend to increase in frequency in the lawless periods following natural disasters. People follow the behaviors of other to establish who is in power, and who is the subordinate.

 In the case of the subway, when groups of people are all engaging in the same action, the individual consciousness becomes subordinate to the collective mentality which radically transforms individual behavior. In other words, when a couple people start to rush the train to squeeze in, people lose their typical conscientiousness for the comfort of others and become obsessed with their need to be on the train too. Everything else falls to the wayside except the crowd's behavior. You can witness this same phenomenon crossing the street. A couple people jaywalk because there's no traffic coming. Then suddenly there's a crowd in the crosswalk despite the fact that the signal says don't walk, and there's oncoming traffic. Like a herd of cattle, everyone is just going with the pack. Next time you're on the subway, try standing alone, being courteous, waiting for the next subway. It would be interesting to see what happens if the pack mentality becomes one of friendliness and concern for others.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Oh the knish, the first food I ever ate on the streets of NYC. Though I still don't know how to pronounce it properly--is it kah-nish, is the k silent? I just don't know! Knishes hold a special place in my heart.

I tried one for the first time when I was on a 5th grade field trip to NYC. I was in line to go to Ellis Island. An appropriate place to be introduced to knishes if I do say so myself, since they were brought to the US, specifically the Lower East Side by Russian immigrants to this fabulous city. Now they're practically symbolic of typical NY fare. Many a day on my walk home from work I found myself veering into central park to grab a knish for the walk from the vendor in my path. They come in all shapes and flavors, and are best with a little yellow mustard to dip in if you ask me. The little potato pockets are perfect for a cold fall day with easy to eat, hot, stick to your ribs sort of food.

Conveniently, NYC food crawl is hosting a Knish crawl tonight. It's free to attend, you just pay as you eat. The dollar tag is only dependent on how many knishes you can put away. It starts at 6:30pm, and the meet up spot is on the Southwest corner of Tompkins Square Park. You can taste and rate your favorite knishes. Potato, spinach, and buckwheat are on the list of flavors available. Check it out, and nosh on some knishes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brow Paradise

InStyle magazine has come out with it's yearly black book of the best places to get the best beauty treatments in major cities across the US. They singled out Hibba NYC as the best brow wax for your buck in NYC. Brow grooming starts at $15, and if you mention InStyle you can get the treatment for $12. The best part is that the waxer pencils in the shape you'll get before she starts removing hair. I've had my share of bad brow treatments. I've had waxers spread hot wax across my hairless forehead to try to take off an imaginary unibrow. The week of my sister's wedding, aka an occasion for thousands of pictures, a careless beautician removed a huge chunk of one brow, making them uneven and one too thin to shape any more. The comfort of seeing a pencil outline is immense. The outline is followed by a careful threading to create the optimal shape, and your session ends with a temple massage, and cold compress soaked in rose water to soothe the skin. Sounds like bliss to me.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Leaf peeping and apple eating weekend

I'm heading upstate for the weekend, and I have 3 main things on my agenda:

1. Go apple/pumpkin picking at Samascott Orchards (here's to hoping we don't get attacked by chickens like last year. You can read the full story on that here). And by apple picking I mean pick a lot of Golden Delicious apples and eat at least 2 cider doughnuts washed down with fresh apple cider.
2. Go to Albany's Oktoberfest with my hometown girllfriends
3. Take in the fresh country air, and maybe do a little leaf peeping.

We upstate folk tend to use leaf peepers as somewhat a dorogotory term meant to refer to all the city people who clog up the northway on long drives to view the changing leaves of the adirondaks as whole mountains change from green to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. I must admit, it really is quite a site to see, and growing up I took it for granted. Since moving to the city, I value my chances to leaf peep much more. Even in Central Park, it's just not quite the same feeling as seeing rolling hills of leaves, and listening to them rustle around your feet as you walk through your back yard. I'm hoping to fit in a little hike while I'm there if time allows, maybe through Thatcher Park.

Here's a little peek at what I have to look forward to, and what is making my workday drag on and on as visions of home dance in my head.

Yay fall! Hoodies, pumkins, Halloween, hot cider! These are a few of my favorite things.

This picture makes me hum, "Take me home, Country Road, to the place I belong" by James Taylor in my head.

Close up leaf peeping.

Thatcher Park


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