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if you’ve been paying any attention around these parts, you may have figured out that i’m not exactly a big fan of the summer months; i favor cooler, crisper weather. so, it’s no surprise that fall is, by far, my absolute favorite season. i love everything about it. whipping out my scarves and my sweaters, my beanies and my gloves, layering up the wazoo and throwing on a leather jacket atop any outfit and calling it a day. i love baking with pumpkin, and picking fresh apples to turn into apple pie. i love cinnamon spiced cider and steaming hot chai, air so cool you can see your words freeze in the cold after you speak them. there’s really nothing like fall, is there? 

here are some of the things i’m currently loving for autumn – what i’m eating, wearing, buying, cooking, baking, and painting on my nails. all images, my pinterest page. 

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next month, my little sister moves into her first apartment, all on her own – to say my heart is swelling with pride would be an understatement. she and my parents are fixing up an old house in an adorable little town next to my hometown, and while some of the features are so dated i can’t even look at them without squinting my eyes to blur the ugly, the place actually has great bones. think wide panel oak floors and crown molding and crystal doorknobs and pillars between the living and dining areas. we’re on a pretty tight budget in terms of decorating, but that doesn’t mean a gal can’t have fun on her pinterest, now does it? i’ve been enlisted to help pick paint colors and do what little interior design can be done on our dime, and i am having SO MUCH FUN. anyone who knows me knows i love a good DIY project, and i spend a good chunk of my free time perusing design blogs and bookmarking ideas for my “someday home.” Image

for the living room/dining area (which she’ll be using as a combination reading nook and study space, as she doesn’t entertain and hence, doesn’t need a formal dining area), we went with the lovely sidewalk gray by ben moore on the walls, complemented by a crisp clean white on the molding, wainscoting and doors (THERE IS WAINSCOTING. interior design happiness). she’s taking my old ikea couch, which, while not gorgeous, is comfy as can be and is easily spruced up with a few fun pillows (i’m eying etsy for a few ikat and suzani printed ones), and we’ve installed the ikea maskros as her chandelier in the middle of the space. we’re sprucing things up with a few fun table lamps and maybe a tripod-style standing lamp to add extra light, but what i really can’t wait to do is make her some framed prints.

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remember how i said i love DIY? one of my favorite things to do isn’t even really a DIY. it’s more of a print and frame. my own living room “art” is a marilyn minter photo that i blew up via wizard prints and framed in a white ikea ribba frame – the whole project cost me under $50; a true minter piece would have run in the thousands. thank you, high res google images.

for my sister, i’d like to frame a series of prints in both her little reading nook and her living room. both spaces will be done in shades of blue gray and white with some pops of turquoise and yellow for brightness (and maybe even some coral and red if i can convince her). my favorite print – the one that i think the room can’t live without (in the study area, that is), is this one by julia kostreva. because everyone needs a little encouragement sometimes, and you know what? it’s true. you’re gonna be a big success. i just know it.

if interior design strikes your fancy, you can see a few other living room pieces over on my pinterest page. 

wouldn’t you like to be here right now? it’s steadily climbing to 100 degrees and humid here in new york, and while i’m happily cocooned in an air conditioned office whose decor is straight out of the eighties, i’d much rather be here, sitting on this little hot pink folding chair, eating a plate of grape leaves with a tall glass of white wine, oversized sunnies perched atop my nose. 

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greece is on my list of places to visit – something about water that blue calls my name – but in this weather, i’d take any beach over the stifling concrete jungle.

“Breathe, my friend. You are not old, you are young. You are not a mess, you are normal. Extraordinary, perhaps. In the blink of an eye your life will change. And it will continue to change for decades to come. Enjoy it, embrace it…be grateful for the ride. You are not old, you are young. And faith will get you everywhere. Just you wait.” – Style Me Pretty’s Abby Larson, on The Everygirl.

when i told my friends i had lost my job, the first thing they said was, “think of all the free time you’re going to have! you can do all those things you’ve been wanting to do.” and the first thing i thought was: what things? i don’t want to do anything. i just want to get up and go to work and know that i’m getting a paycheck every two weeks. the second thing i thought was: anything i would actually want to do would require money.

for instance: i’d love to go back to school and get my MFA in creative writing. but i already have college loans and lord knows i don’t need any more, considering that money management isn’t exactly my forte. i’d also love to take a course or two in interior design, to see if my childhood habits of rearranging my furniture every six months and building mansions for my barbies in the built-in shelves of my playroom were a clue to my future. i’d love to fly to san francisco and spend a long weekend with two of my relocated best friends, both of whom i know have the power to make this whole thing seem like nothing but a little bump in the road. i’m the sappiest of saps, as anyone who knows me knows – and as i write this, i can almost feel my friend hannah’s arms around me, ensuring me that it’s a) okay to cry and b) that everything will really, truly, be okay. hannah’s the best hugger i know. i, on the other hand, am biologically averse to hugs and any sort of cuddling (though i’ve come a long way!) – but hannah taught how to hug, full frontal. and man, what i would give for a hannah hug right about now. i know that were i to arrive in san francisco, my friend kim would have a bed made up for me, and we would bake cookies and watch bad TV and eat candy in our PJs on the couch and i’d be assured that all was right in the world.

so, those are the things i’d do if i hadn’t a care in the world, and the budget to do it. but i don’t, so instead, i’m sitting in a cafe, typing up a long love note to my fear and how it’s eating me alive. that’s an expression of my mother’s, by the way – eating me alive. she’s convinced that if i don’t get myself under control, i’m going to let this entire experience eat me into a black hole that’ll swallow me and then neglect to spit me back out. and i hate to admit it, but she’s right. in fact, she’s right about 75% of the time (though she’d tell you it’s 100%), which is probably why she’s still the first person i call whenever i’m about to burst into tears (good progress sarah, you’re 26 years old and still blubbering like a baby on the sidewalk to your mother).

but my blubbering nature aside, the fact of the matter is that she’s 100% right in this case. i am scared. paralyzed, even. and really, i need to just suck it up and smack myself in the face and stop letting my fear of being a total failure in life get the best of me. because let’s face it, millions of people have been laid off. and most of them have it way worse than me. i mean, call up lena dunham and tell her i need a guest spot on GIRLS as the whiny brat who’s afraid she’ll have to move back to her suburban dream of a childhood home. i can do whiny brat with the best of ’em.

if i were to psychoanalyze myself, i’d say that my problem is the unknown. if you could tell me i’d be employed again, happy as a pig in shit in a little cubicle at a 9-5, in two months, i’d be off saving all the abandoned cats in the world and baking homemade cat treats in my kitchen to give to all my new babies. the problem is that i don’t know, and no one else does either. no one can tell me i’ll have a job soon, or ever, because no one knows. and that’s the part that’s scaring me shitless.

but you want to know something crazy? part of me feels like this whole thing was meant to be. i’m not one of those people who really buys into fate (but i have been reading my horoscope, which, i should tell you, predicted “a big work event” on the day of my layoff), but i have this weird sense that maybe this is how it was supposed to be. for starters, for the first time since i graduated college, i’m writing again…really, truly, writing. of course, most of it, like this post, is pure word vomit – but it feels good to barf that shit up! sorry, that was gross. but the point is, maybe i wasn’t meant to spend my days writing subject lines and sales promos. maybe i was meant to be a word vomiter!

when i was little, i wanted to be a lot of things when i grew up: first, i was going to be an oncologist (thanks to lurlene mcdaniel’s morbid series of YA novels), then, a famous singer in the vein of fiona apple (you can laugh at that one), but what i always sort of wanted to be, what i always thought i would be, in the back of my mind, was a writer.

so hey, fear? if you could leave me alone for a bit and let me do my thing, that’d be great. because there’s a teeny tiny chance that i’m actually, for once, in the right place.


when i was a wee little thing back in high school, my nickname was “mrs. fields” – after the infamous cookie shop found in every suburban mall around the country, and supposed maven of all things chocolate chip. i loved me a good bake sale, and my a capella group always needed to raise more moolah. i spent many a first period sitting outside the library in a little nook that was positively made for bake sales, touting my brownies and cookies and things.

chocolate chip cookies are one of the first recipes i learned to bake myself (though i also make a mean no-cook peanut butter ball), but it took me years to truly perfect the art. you see, folks, there is an art to chocolate chip cookie baking. too sweet means you can’t eat much of them. too salty means they don’t taste like cookies. too flat means a crunch that simply shouldn’t be associated with anything in the cookie family, and don’t even try to talk to me about anything that comes from the pre-made area in the supermarket.

here are a few things i’ve learned over the years, otherwise known as “follow these rules if you want a perfect cookie.”

* always add a little more vanilla than the recipe calls for. don’t think, just pour.

* don’t over-melt your butter! it took me years to figure this out. YEARS, people. i’d read “slightly softened” and stick that baby in the microwave and end up with flatter than flat cookies. i have had many a meltdown over cookies that came out flat. i don’t even want to talk about it. actually, yes i do. in these situations, i freak out and through out the entire batch. i don’t do pancake cookies. can’t handle it. they make my eyes water the way onions do. when it comes to butter, room temperature means leave it out for a little while to soften. as a general rule, don’t put butter in the microwave. when you do, you tend to over-melt it. leave it out and let it do its thing. if your butter goes into the dough 75% melted, it’ll melt the other 25% in the oven – which is what makes for pancake cookies.

* keep your chocolate chips in the freezer. this way, when you add them into the dough, they’re cool – so they won’t totally melt when the dough goes into the oven.

* invest in a stand mixer. once you go kitchen aid, you never go back. trust.

The Recipe (taken from The All-American Cookie Book)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (two sticks) butter, slightly softened (remember what we learned about butter above)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (note: i like to add 3)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (i use the bag from trader joe’s)
optional: 2 cups nuts (i hate nuts. no nuts for me. keepin’ it simple.)
preheat the oven to 375. grease your baking sheets, or lay silicone baking mats (lifesavers!) on your baking sheets instead and grease those lightly. 
in a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. set aside. in a large bowl (or stand mixer), beat together butter, brown sugar and sugar until well-blended and fluffy. this may take a few minutes. once fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla. mix well. stir in the flour mixture, then add chocolate chips (and nuts if you’re one of those weirdos that likes that sort of thing). 
now, eat at least three spoonfuls of dough. consider putting aside a bit of dough for those bad days when you just need to stuff your face with something delicious. 
once you’re feeling sufficiently nauseous from the raw egg consumption, drop the dough onto your baking sheets about two inches apart. they should be about the size of a tablespoon. bake cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of your oven for 8-11 minutes. take those babies out when they’re golden brown all over and slightly darker at the edges. Let cool on the sheets a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks. 
store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 month.
 
 

as a writer, i always thought i’d find a job where i’d spend the rest of my life writing. i thought i’d work in advertising, that maybe i’d write a novel someday, that whatever i did, it would involve the written word.

that was all well and good – until i got laid off. suddenly, i wasn’t just questioning where my next paycheck was going to come from, but where my life was going to come from. it sounds dumb, doesn’t it? but losing your job makes you wonder whether you were ever really meant to do that job in the first place.

for the past two years, i’ve been toting baked goods into my (former) office at least once a week. there are few places where i feel truly at peace, and the kitchen is one of them. sure, i love to eat, but i love to bake even more. my coworkers have been asking me for months when i was going to quit my 9 to 5 and open a bakery. well, the company’s gone and done the quitting for me – but the bakery part, that’s up to me.

since i live in new york city, otherwise known as the home of $9.99 boxes of raspberries and real estate that you couldn’t afford even if you sold your soul to the devil, i’m starting here, with a blog, where i’ll feature my favorite baked goods. 

they say sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself – here’s hoping i can find myself in a big ‘ol bowl of cookie dough – preferably, oatmeal raisin.