Monday, November 30, 2009

home is whenever I'm with you

I'm back from 9 days at home in Chicago for an extended Thanksgiving visit. The day-of was pretty standard, but the trip over all was great. It was oddly like stepping into a Twilight Zone version of my life in highschool because so many of my friends are living at home or in the area these days. We spent a lot of quality time together--pretty much every day that I was there--and did a lot of greatly nostalgic things.

Had all of the requisite foods for a visit home: Lou Malnati's pizza, Pita Inn, Buff Joe's (I'm so full just thinking about it). Went bowling at our old standby, Classic Bowl in Morton Grove. Also went to play Laser Tag at a place down on Fullerton which ended up being SO much fun! Played pool and darts, and I realized that I'm not 100% terrible at either one - just mostly. There was a semi-traumatizing throwback game of Kings/Circle of Death, which was probably the point at which we really felt like we had stepped back in time.

The highlight of my throwback week was watching some old home-movie footage that I took during the summers between junior and senior year of high school. It was hilariously charming to watch, and kind of startling to see the ways that we haven't changed. So many of those conversations could have taken place this week and not 6 1/2 years ago. I sadly can't upload any video because it's all filmed in analog (so old!) and, I barely took any photos all week long.

Air hockey pre-Laser Tag. Oh yes.

A nice candid shot from bowling...I didn't even take this

And to close this out, here's a little mix from my Thanksgiving week:

Thanksgiving 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Into the Woods...of Westchester

As I mentioned, this weekend I went camping up in Westchester for my friend's birthday. Despite some early rain, it turned out to be really great and the weather was nice and warm on Sunday for some hiking around the park! We were at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, near the Katonah stop on the Metro-North - which is how I got myself up there.

The prospect of "cold" fall camping + the rain made us all very glad that we had these 3-walled stone shelters in which to set up camp. There was a great little fireplace inside of the shelter, which kept us warm through most of the night. We had been so toasty with the fire that inside of our sleeping bags, most of our warm layers had been discarded, leaving us vulnerable to the chilly air once the fire died out. Brr!

Our little home: shelter #14!
Our savior...mostly

I'd say we did pretty well for ourselves. Most of our food was pre-cooked, so it just had to be heated up, which we managed to do in the outdoor (read: wet) firepit. Hot cider with Goldschlager, drumsticks, mac & cheese, and roasted veggies...and of course, s'mores. Camping perfection!

The next day, three of us went on a fun hike around the park. It was suddenly clear that Fall is coming to an end, though, as we wound up walking/slipping on all of the fallen leaves, and there was not much foliage to be seen on the trees. Not to worry, however, because that meant we could actually see all of the trail markers - phew!

View from the top of an Overlook

A little light enters into "Leatherman's Cave"

It had been ages since I last went camping, and I definitely won't let there be such a long gap again! will at least have to wait until after winter ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

wait, when did it become mid-November?

It feels like it was just Halloween, but suddenly it's mid-November and Thanksgiving is right around the corner...weird! This past weekend I went camping(!) up in Westchester for my friend Ilana's birthday (photos to come). In honor of said birthday, I whipped up this little mix which gathers some of my favorite songs and bands of the year to share with Ilana, and now, to share with you:

November 09

As it turns out, Passion Pit just released their music video for "Little Secrets," which is sort of like a super intense screensaver. They turned off embedding for it, but you can see it here.

I've got to say, I still prefer the video for "The Reeling" -- some of the early street scenes are filmed around this area of Brooklyn, which I didn't realize when it first came out (because I didn't live here yet...)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cafe Esperanto

Last night was the 10th Anniversary party for the East Village's Cafe Esperanto. To celebrate they were offering up free caipirinhas, plates of feijoada and yucca fries, and chances to win a trip to Brazil! Sadly I didn't win the raffle, but we did enjoy all of the other goodies.

Ilana's plate of rice and yucca garlic

We *may* have taken the plate of scrappy bits of fries from the buffet...

Funny/creepy/Jesus-ish-looking wall of heads

I would definitely go back some other time! Their caipirinhas and mojitos are very reasonably priced for the city at $6 each, and the yucca fries were delicious.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

small highlights of the weekend

I have a Netflix subscription that I often forget about for weeks at a time--usually until I get my monthly payment withdrawn from my bank account and suddenly realize that I've had the same DVD for an entire month without watching it. This weekend was one of those times. According to Netflix, I've had this copy of Jules and Jim since the end of September. Oops. So after watching it and sending it back in the mail, I remembered to check what was going to be coming next in my queue, which only led to me spending the next several hours looking at what was available for streaming.

...All of this is what led me to watch the first season of This American Life. As a fan of the radio version--and Ira Glass in general--I surprisingly had never watched the show, minus one episode that was on the flight from Amsterdam to Chicago. I was very pleased to find this funny little excerpt available to share, as it was one of my favorite parts:

I know, beards are not the same as mustaches, but I bet you could make a similar "chart"...

Also, this weekend I fell in love with this pair of slippers, went out and bought them, and have more or less lived in them (while in the apartment) ever since. They have this inexplicable quality of making me giggle every time I look down at my feet. I feel like I should be in a cozy ski cabin instead of watching This American Life on my futon...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This gives new meaning to a "Tree House"

This article in the NY Times yesterday showed these amazing houses that a man named Roald Gundersen makes using entire trees. Needless to say, I want one!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Fall Feast

My day-after-Halloween plans were ambitious. I began my day rejoicing in the reopening of Community Food and Juice, and had my favorite brunch of theirs (or perhaps, in all of NYC). However - I was not a fan of the Mexican coffee (coffee with cinnamon, kahlua, and tequila), which I got with whipped cream...this turned out to be its downfall. The whipped cream eventually dissolved, but left an oddly congealed, fatty layer on top of the coffee, which was as unappetizing as it sounds.

On a more positive note, upon returning to my apartment, I began cooking up a feast of dinner party foods in an array of fall-inspired flavors. I had six friends over (pretty much the maximum number that will fit around the table!), and this is what I served them:

Spinach and artichoke dip (paired with triscuits and pita chips)

Chicken and buttermilk+chive dumplings, Zucchini+Pesto Orzo, roasted sweet potatoes, and cornbread.
For drinks I served a hot spiced cider spiked with whiskey. And for dessert I served them the pumpkin cupcakes from earlier this week (still delicious!) with some ice cream that my friend Ilana brought over: brown sugar, and oatmeal cookie. I think it was a success overall! The chicken and dumplings was a little on the salty side for me, but I think I let the stock reduce a little too much? Definitely something to try again :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween was a fox

Happy (belated) Halloween! I had a great time making my costume this year - everything from the dress to the was like my own personal Project Runway challenge. I modified a sleeping eyemask to make the mask, covered a headband to make the ears, and made a large tail to match! The dress has a subtle polka dot pattern to mimic the dress in the new Wes Anderson movie, with the necklace to echo the red of her actual dress. If you haven't seen the trailer, check it out! The movie comes out around Thanksgiving, and I'm very excited.

Here it very own Fantastic Mrs. Fox!

Most of the night I wore the mask flipped up like this, worn like a visor. It worked out great, because it still looks like a fox! You can't see it in these photos, but the belt is also holding on a tail.

I hung out with these finely dressed folks: (sexy) Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I think they look lovely in this sepia filter:

Prior to our Halloween adventures, we made a pair of delicious pizzas! Yum!

Halloween was great - I went to a party at my friend's place in Williamsburg, and then we went off to a few places in Manhattan. We placed bets on what the most common costume sighting would be - I bet on Max from Where the Wild Things Are, and I saw 10! The big surprise of the night was how many gnomes we saw...never would have even guessed that one! And, a shocking lack of Michael Jacksons.