I was traveling last week, and it was so wonderful to come home to SNOW! New York is just such magic this time of year:
Thanksgivukkah: Hanukkah + Thanksgiving. A lot of bloggers started prepping for this one early: recipe testing pumpkin spice challah, taking photos of dreidels with fall leaves and cornucopias, honing their graphic design skills with turkey feather menorahs.
I, however, did not; this is what I came up with:
When I was shooting my sweet potato appetizers on Sunday, I added a glass of water in one of my Rabbi glasses. It looks so, so silly – but I kind of love it anyways. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving is a hilarious holiday overlap, and I think that the best way to celebrate it is with a lot of laughter and silliness.
Last night, I celebrated Hanukkah with family, then came home and celebrated a mini Thanksgivukkah with my roommate, Margaux. We lit the menorah again, made guava margaritas, and ate pumpkin cupcakes that Margaux had just finished making for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
I remember my mom telling me when I was young that all she wanted for Christmas/Hanukkah/her birthday/Mother’s Day was something I had made myself. Since I was such an artsy kid, this worked out great; I decoupaged boxes and knitted scarves and beaded jewelry, then proudly wrapped up each creation to present to my mom.
Eventually though, I started running out of ideas; now, every year, Christmas is a burned cd and Hanukkah is a photo calendar and her birthday is a printed 8×10 photo and Mother’s Day is just a card. Recently I’ve started buying stuff whenever I travel, and though I know my mom likes these gifts I still feel like I am breaking the cardinal rule of daughter-hood: make Mom’s presents.
So when I got an email last week about the site Pinhole Press, I felt a renewed inspiration for holiday gifts – and not just for my mom, for the rest of my family and friends, too. I feel very lucky that I now get to partner with Pinhole Press via Champagne for Ducklings – which means that I get to share their cool photo gifts with all of you, too.
Here are a few of the things I am most excited about from their site:
1. This hanging photo calendar will be my mom’s annual photo gift. (Sorry, Mom. It’s hard to balance having a blog and keeping a surprise.)
2. Men are tricky to buy for. I think these beer bottle labels would be hilarious. They also make wine bottle labels, which would be great for friends.
3. Return address labels are great for recently-married friends, or younger siblings.
4. For extended family: Photo Puzzle – 252 Pieces
5. And for the littlest ones: Memory Game.
Enjoy Pinhole Press, everyone!
This post is in conjunction with Pinhole Press’s affiliate program. Above photos ©Pinhole Press.
All opinions expressed are my own.
It’s a New York truth that some people move to Brooklyn and are never heard from again. This is an exaggeration, obviously. But still something to worry about.
Two weekends ago, I had my first all-Brooklyn weekend: I explored new neighborhoods and bars and brunch places, and didn’t go into Manhattan once. This weekend was different and I ended up in Manhattan a lot, but I carried with me my new appreciation for Brooklyn – an appreciation that I hope to pass on via this week’s Photo Monday:
Happy almost Thanksgiving! Every year I make batch upon batch of sweet potato appetizers; I start making them for friends leading up to the holidays, and then they get requested so often that I make them time and time again – well into the new year. I posted the recipe here on Champagne for Ducklings back in my blog’s first summer, and over the years it has remained the site’s most-visited page – so I thought I would give this dish the attention it deserves with a brand new updated post.
These are the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer or holiday party side; they look fancy but are actually incredibly simple to make, they are bite size, and they taste delicious. I highly recommend adding them to your holiday menu.
Sweet Potato Appetizers
6 sweet potatoes (as skinny as you can find, so the finished product is bite-size), sliced into ½ inch coins
1/3 cup pecan halves, measured then broken into smaller pieces
1 4-ounce log of goat cheese
3 celery stalks, sliced twice lengthwise then diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat your oven to 450˚.
2. As the oven is heating, toast the pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat until slightly browned and fragrant – about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a plate or cutting board so that they stop cooking.
3. Coat a baking tray with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Then take them out of the oven, flip each piece over, return to oven and roast for 10 more minutes.
4. In the meantime, make the topping; in a bowl, combine the goat cheese, pecans and celery. In a separate cup, make a simple vinaigrette: olive oil, red wine vinegar, and dijon mustard. Pour the vinaigrette over the other topping ingredients, and use a fork to stir it all together.
5. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, then arrange them on a large serving platter (or a few smaller plates); it’s important to put them on the dish you will use before you add the topping, as the finished product tends to be rather precariously balanced.
6. Use your fingers or a small spoon to pinch/scoop up spoonfuls of topping; drop a bit of topping onto each sweet potato.
7. Serve immediately. The appetizers will also keep in the fridge for a few days – but I bet you won’t have leftovers.
Welcome, readers, to the second installment of my Manhattan Restaurants series, through which I have chosen to share some of my favorite places to eat and drink in NYC. This week: TriBeCa – home to the iPhone’s most ridiculous autocorrect (tribeca to TriBeCa) and some truly wonderful restaurants.
I do love a great wine bar, and this is a particularly charming one.
This Mexican restaurant has $5 margaritas every Monday during the summer, and therefore it became my go-to post-weekend catchup spot with my friends.
Putting this on the list almost feels like a cheat, because it’s not unique to TriBeCa; there are a few Sarabeth locations around the city. However, having been to all of them, I can say that this location is my favorite. It feels larger and more open than the others, and the wait time (even at 11am or 1pm for brunch!) is never too terrible, whereas you can often find yourself looking at a 45+ minute wait time on the Upper West Side. Also, their salmon eggs benedict is delicious, so if you like lox, get that. This is the kind of place you could totally bring your parents – or your boyfriend’s parents – to; it’s nice but not too fancy, and quiet enough to hear everyone at your table speak, but not awkwardly quiet. It’s perfect.
This sushi place is phenomenal. It’s expensive, so if you’re a twenty-something you probably can’t go there on a weekly basis, but let me tell you, this place is worth budgeting for.
This is my favorite place. I go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I think I have eaten half the menu at this point because I go there so often and always try something new. It’s not really the kind of place you should bring a date you’re just getting to know, because it’s decorated like a very pink diner – but it is perfect for groups of friends for brunch or a weeknight dinner. Yum.
Mulberry & Vine
This is one of TriBeCa’s newest places; it opened this past spring. Their food is all local and organic, and always very seasonal and creative as well. When it was nice out, this was a great place to pick up a salad to take out and eat by the water. Even now that it’s too cold to eat outside, the place is still worth a visit; sit upstairs for a quieter/calmer dining experience.
Check back soon for more Manhattan neighborhoods! Happy weekend, everyone.
A few weeks ago, as I was crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on my way to work, the song “Counting Stars” came up the Pandora station I was listening to. Old, but I’m not that old; young, but I’m not that bold. I heard this and something in me clicked and I thought to myself, Aha.
Twenty-five: Some days we feel old and capable and accomplished and other days we feel so young and lonely and lost. Sometimes we are mature and wise; other times, we are most certainly not. We may feel old, but the reality is that we are only twenty-five; we are not that old.
So then, we must be young. We dance until the morning hours, we drink whiskey on a ridiculous whim, we laugh an absurdly high percentage of the time; we are fun and exciting and young. But bold? We are not that bold. We used to be – in the days before anyone actually expected us to be grown-ups when, wanting what we couldn’t have, we boldly chased after anything that would make us appear older. Held captive by youth, we fought to be bold.
Eventually we grew up, got real jobs and joined the real world and somewhere in there people started treating us like grown-ups. And we started taking each other seriously, too; started seeing our friends and peers as real adults. Without maturity to prove, we lost our need for bold.
For a while now, I have known it was coming. This blog’s first critique. I could feel that it would hit, and had I really thought about it I probably could have even figured out what it would say:
Uneven. The blog is uneven.
This is the absolute truth. Sometimes my blog is about the thoughts that pass through the old-yet-young-but-not-bold brain as it heals from trauma. Sometimes it is about the thoughts that, rather than pass, stick. (And man, I love those days – complete clarity.) Sometimes it is a blog about heartbreak. Other times, it is a blog about love – so many loves all at once, like a love for this crazy beautiful thing called life. Sometimes, it’s just a blog about brunch. Or nail polish. About riding a camel in Israel. Sometimes it is about nothing at all.
Uneven. Yes. But not just the blog; life – crazy beautiful thing that it is. More specifically, twenty-five year old life.
And me, in it. I am uneven.
When I was in Israel, which was only three months ago, I felt younger than I had in a long, long time. I stayed up all night, every night, shared stories of hurt and heartbreak, treated every day as an adventure, made friends faster than I ever could at home. Inside jokes abounded and so, somewhere along the lines I ended up with a joke alter ego: Sassy Ebbe.
I don’t know how sassy that alter ego of mine actually was, but she was bold. Not that old, and not that young, just bold.
Some time ago, I started laughing about Sassy Ebbe. And, I said, I miss that girl. It slipped out of my mouth before I could let it turn it over in my mind first, and when I heard it I thought it would be met with a laugh and a joke about my clearly demonstrated complete insanity. But it wasn’t at all, just: So be her.
I think that everything that matters lies somewhere between the uneven and the bold.
I took this photo. But I never really thought about it, or even really looked at it, until my dance professor framed it for me during my senior year of college. She gave me the frame at a dance dinner before I flew home to San Francisco to have surgery, and told me that until I came back the dance company would be like this picture: missing a piece of the circle. The whole time I was in San Francisco, this message stuck with me, and even now, years later, I keep the framed photo around. It lives on my dresser, and it gives me a little dose of perspective every time I see it.
This photo reminds me – when I feel frustrated about a canceled photo shoot, a few days of writer’s block, and the subsequent fluttering fear of not succeeding at all – to keep working. Reminds me that one day of shooting or one article that I have been fussing over are not the whole picture; the whole picture is so much bigger than one moment – so much bigger than myself.
I am a piece of a much bigger circle.
Lately I’ve been thinking about a lesson my mom tried so hard to teach me as a kid: the importance of picking your battles. Despite her efforts, I never really got the hang of this one; I was either yelling about everything or quietly over-thinking everything else: fighting the battles I should have let go and letting the worthwhile ones pass me right by.
Now that I am a “grown-up” – whatever that means – I have really been working on this whole choosing my battles thing. And it is not easy; it is really not easy for me to stick up for myself when I need to and to drop the things that aren’t worth anything but that still, despite my very best efforts, bother me. These two things can be such struggles that sometimes I feel like they represent two very different lessons to be learned, but as they dance together down the path to grownuphood and sense of self to which we are all pulled like helpless little magnets, I cannot help but see them as one and the same.
All that I really know is that I am still learning. To speak about the things that upset me and trust that I will still be loved anyways. To not yell at the woman in the laundromat just because she yelled at me first. To pick my battles and to stand by them knowing that I picked them with reason and care.
It’s a learning curve. It all is.