Nights

Happy Saturday, O-HI-30 readers!  I am currently waiting on my dear friend Cullen (and fellow spin instructor!) to arrive from Cleveland.  We are going to the OSU game tonight, a somewhat annual tradition that we’re both really looking forward to.  I’m not sure if we’ll meet up with friends for a beer on campus before the game, or enjoy a nice red wine dinner like the 31-year-olds we are 🙂  Either way, it’s sure to be fun!

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I don’t have much time, but thought I’d try quick blogging as opposed to the 1.5-2 hour posts that I’m accustomed to.  Something is better than nothing, right?!

I’ve been working nights this past week.  My shifts at Northstar Cafe are either open (7-4, in theory) or close (3-12, in theory), and are typically varied throughout the week.  But sometimes I have a string of days or a string of nights in a row, as I did this past week.  Tuesday – Friday I closed, which means my days looked something like this:  wake up around 8:30-9, exercise, run an errand or two or meet a friend for lunch (I had lunch with my old co-workers on Wednesday!), and go into work around 2:30.  Get home around 12:15-30, eat, and go to bed around 1.  Repeat.  Basically, everything I used to do in the evenings after work I do in the mornings before work.  Not too shabby.

Since I’m eating a meal around 1-1:30 before I go into work, it’s no surprise that by the time I get home after midnight I’m starving.  We don’t take formal meal breaks like I did in the corporate world, which is something I’ve adjusted to easier than I expected (future post).  We simply can’t stop serving dinner to our guests just because we want to eat our own!  Of course, there is always time to step away after the dinner rush to drink a quick smoothie (we make them fresh) or house a granola bar – or one of our amazing, butter laden cookies (I had more than my fair share this week).  But even so, I’m always ready for something more substantial when I finally get home after a long day.

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Enter this grilled cheese sandwich.  And I’m not talking just any old grilled cheese.  I’m talking grilled cheese, Laurie Chait style – I could write a whole post on my Mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches!  But I have Bobby Flay to credit with this idea (sorry, Mom).  On Wednesday morning when I was getting ready for work, rather than watch CNN as I should, I watched Cooking Channel’s “Brunch at Bobby’s”, one of my favorite shows.  Bobby Flay’s (or as my dad pronounces it, Filet) food always looks SO good.  On Wednesday, he made a grilled cheese sandwich with apples and brie on cinnamon raisin bread.  Sweet & Savory!  Brilliant!

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So when I got home after work on Wednesday and was contemplating what to eat, I realized that I actually had cinnamon raisin bread, thanks to my Mom who brought me some from a local bakery (they make the BEST bread.  The cinnamon raisin and english muffin bread are my favorites).  And I also had cheddar cheese.  And honey crisp apples!  And this amazing grilled cheese was born.

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Just thinly slice up half an apple or so, butter your bread, and layer on your cheese and apples.  I also added a very thin smear of mustard, because everything is better with a little mustard.  Grill over medium-low heat for ~5 min per side (patience is key here), until the cheese is melted and the bread toasty but not burnt.  Enjoy while catching up on your favorite blogs (O-HI-30, perhaps?), then crawl into bed full and happy.

What’s your favorite late-night snack?

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SATC

SATC = Sex and the City!

Sex and the City TV series (1998-2004) starring Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, Kristin Davis as Charlotte York and Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes - dvdbash.com

I’ve been planning on writing this post since day one – a post about my favorite television show of all time, Sex and the City!  If you have never seen the comedy that aired on HBO from 1998 – 2004, I implore you to stop reading this post immediately and instead, curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and all six seasons, now available to stream free with an Amazon Prime membership (which, if you don’t already have, you should also get pronto).

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, I’ll give you a very short background.  The show features four strong, independent, single women living their lives and searching for love in New York City.  It is narrated by Carrie Bradshaw, the protagonist played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and follows her life as well as the lives of her three dearest friends, Miranda Hobbs, Charlotte York, and Samantha Jones.  Miranda, my personal favorite character, is a Harvard Law grad, cynical, jaded, and has a dry sense of humor. Charlotte is a hopeless romantic who is the epitome of a WASP, and Samantha doesn’t-give-a-f*ck what anyone thinks of her and sleeps with most of Manhattan.  And then there’s Carrie, everyone’s best friend, a writer who somehow can afford her closet full of $400 shoes.  Each episode attempts to answer a question that Carrie poses for her column in the New York Star – questions like, “do you have to play games to make a relationship work?” and “can you ever really forgive, if you can’t forget?”. It’s both laugh-out-loud funny and can make you cry, sometimes all in the same episode.  In short – it’s an amazing television series.

from left to right: Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha

from left to right: Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha

I, for one, did not watch the show when it originally aired.  I was in 8th grade when the series started, and my Mom barely allowed me to watch Felicity, let alone SATC.  We also didn’t have HBO.  I discovered the show in college thanks to our college friend Rita, who was ahead of the curve on both designer jeans and designer television.  But it’s Jackie whom I have to credit with making me fall in love with the show.  She purchased some bootleg DVD’s from China that we started watching when we became roommates junior year of college.  Since then, I’ve seen each of the 94 episodes an average of 20 times each – some many more.  I would be remiss to not also mention Caitlin, another SATC diehard fan who’s impersonations of Samantha are dead on – I can’t help but think of her and crack up almost every episode!  One of my favorites: “F* me badly once, shame on you.  F* me badly twice, shame on me”.  If that’s not a motto for life, I don’t know what is.

Although I’ve spent hundreds – no, thousands – of hours watching Sex and the City, it’s worth noting that I rarely give my undivided attention to the show anymore, and haven’t for years.  Instead, it serves as a background as I clean and fold laundry – and as a mantra for my life.  Just last weekend, I was cleaning and listening to one of my favorite episodes (see below) when it hit me.  Carrie turns 35 in the episode, which means that when the series started, Carrie was likely in hear early 30s – 31 or 32, assuming she ages a year each season.  And then it hit me.  No longer am I watching a show about four women older than me, to whom I can relate but only distantly – at least I am in my 20s and have plenty of time to date and find my husband, right?  Except now, I AM Carrie Bradshaw and all of her friends – early 30s, single, and looking for love. When did that happen?!

For those of you who haven’t seen the show or are only casual watchers, what I’m about to say might seem silly to you.  Sex and the City means so much more to me than just entertainment.  The themes explored throughout the six seasons, questions discussed, and situations encountered are a reflection of my own life.  I cannot express the number of times that I’ve experienced something in my real life and thought to myself, “there is a SATC episode just like this!”  As ridiculous as it may sound, the show has provided me with a bit of free therapy.  Although the characters are fictional, the ups and downs of their lives are based on the lives of real women like me, and knowing that I’m not alone in my struggles – even if only through the television – is very cathartic.

I thought it would be fun to share my top five favorite episodes.  Although there are many that I love, these five consistently rise to the top on my most-watched list!

Sarah’s Top Five Sex and the City Episodes

#5: The Real Me [season 4, episode 2]
Season-Four-Real-MeThis episode is Jackie’s favorite (at least it used to be…but maybe that has changed?!).  In The Real Me, Carrie is asked to participate in a fashion show that features a mix of real models and regular people, of which she is the latter.  The episode attempts to answer the question, “No matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?”  Despite not seeing herself as a model, Carrie agrees to walk the runway – and becomes “fashion roadkill” when she falls and Heidi Klum has to walk over her.  I also love when Miranda says that she can’t believe a man finds her sexy, and says that “sexy is what I try to get them to see me as after I’ve won them over with my personality”, to which Carrie replies, “you win men over with your personality?”  It’s a fun, lighthearted episode, and anytime I hear the song “Got to be Real” by Cheryl Lynn, I think of it and smile.

#4: Plus One is the Loneliest Number [season 5, episode 5]
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Now we’re getting into the serious stuff.  I chose this episode because it hits a nerve with me, as I imagine it does with many single women.  Carrie has a party thrown in honor of her new book release, and although her career is going as well as ever, she can’t help but be saddened by the fact that she doesn’t have a “plus one” to her party.  Carrie muses, ” In New York, they say you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend, or an apartment. So, let’s say you have two out of three, and they’re fabulous. Why do we let the one thing we don’t have affect how we feel about all the things we do have?  Why does one minus a plus one feel like it adds up to zero?”  This is also the episode in which Samantha gets a chemical peel that goes wrong, and tells Carrie, “it was an impulse purchase”, to which Carrie replies, “GUM is an impulse purchase”.  Makes me laugh every time!

#3: They Shoot Single People, Don’t They? [season 2, episode 4]
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“Single and Fabulous?  That question mark is hostile!”  Ah, what a fabulous episode.  Carrie and the girls go out for a night on the town, which turns into an all-nighter, causing Carrie to arrive late to a photo shoot looking like shit.  The cover was supposed to read “Single and Fabulous!” but instead swapped the exclamation point for a hostile question mark.  The experience makes all of the girls question their single status and reach for the company of men whom they are only so-so about.  Carrie stops short of sleeping with a man, “I realized if I went home with him, it’d be the only time I’d ever had sex to validate my life. The question mark would no longer be a question, it would be a fact.”  The episode poses the question, “is it better to fake it than to be alone?” – a question that I’ve explored myself on this very blog.

#2: The Agony and the “Ex”-Tacy [season 4, episode. 1]
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I LOVE this episode, largely because just like #4, it hits close to home.  This is the episode I referenced earlier in this post, in which Carrie turns 35 and no one shows up to her birthday dinner due to unforeseen circumstances.  Carrie admits to her friends later that night that, ” I hate myself a little for saying this but… it felt really sad not to have a man in my life who cares about me. No special guy to wish me happy birthday. No goddamn soulmate… and I don’t even know if I believe in soulmates.”  The scene is so real, so raw, that I can’t help but get emotional almost every time I watch it.  A truly great episode that epitomizes what the show is really all about – not just sex and men, but real friendship – and the relationship one has with one’s self.

#1:  Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda [season 4, episode. 11]
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And, finally, my all-time favorite episode.  There is just so much good stuff in this episode!  The main storyline is that of Miranda finding out she is pregnant with Steve’s baby and deciding to get an abortion.  Charlotte, on the other hand, wants to be a mother but is having trouble conceiving.  The emotions between the two characters are raw, and the effect the story line has on Carrie is very real.  Ultimately, after much agonizing debate, Miranda decides to keep the baby.  I love the way the writer handles these complex topics in a way that makes them very relatable to the viewer.  To balance out the heavy storyline, Samantha comes to the rescue with a classic Samantha story line.  She uses her status as Lucy Liu’s publicist to get herself a Birkan bag, which, just like most Samantha story lines, is hilarious.  “How the fuck long does Lucy Liu have to wait for that Birkin? If they’re so hard to get, maybe you can explain why I just saw a fucking nobody in a track suit carrying the exact one we want!”  Love it.

 

So, tell me – are you a Sex and the City fan?  What are your favorite episodes?!

 

Alive

I’m alive (barely).  Thanks to lots of this:
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Yes, O-HI-30 readers (if there are still any of you…), I’m alive.  It’s no coincidence that my last post on this once twice-weekly blog was the day before I started my new job five and a half weeks ago.  The fact is, I simply haven’t found the time or the energy for this space until today.  But I’m here now!

I knew that making a change as big as the one I made was going to be hard.  I knew I was going to be challenged in ways that I hadn’t been before, that I was going to be working longer and harder hours, and that at times I’d question why the heck I made such a crazy decision.  I took three and a half weeks off of work between jobs so I could mentally decompress and rebuild.  But despite all of this, I still couldn’t fully prepare myself for the enormity of this change.

Perhaps I’m sounding a bit dramatic.  Afterall, plenty of people work a lot and change jobs often.  But the fact remains that justified or not, this change has been harder than I expected.  The transition from a cushy ~40 HR work week to a ~60 HR one has been a real butt-kicker.  Hence the reason it’s taken me 5.5 weeks to figure out how to fit my beloved blog back into my life (and hopefully not temporarily)!  The learning curve in a completely new and foreign to me industry has been steep (although not unsurmountable).  And of course, there’s the new people.  Often the most overlooked of challenges, navigating the dynamics of an organization and building new relationships is never easy, even for an outgoing person like myself. Combine all of these changes, and needless to say, it’s been a rough month and a half.  When faced with unknown challenges, I think it’s rare that we can ever really prepare ourselves for the road that lies ahead.  All we can do it attempt to keep our heads held high and our feet moving forward.

I taught spinning this morning, and post-class I mentioned to my loyal spin student, blog reader, and friend Lindsey that I was thinking about blogging again today.  She made an excellent point:  that even though my life is crazy and hard right now, there is still a lot of good in it, and maybe posting about those good things would be a helpful reminder of all that I have for which to be grateful.  Wow!  What thoughtful and insightful words.

So with that in mind, I’d like to share some recent happenings, big and small.

Nash BACH in Nashville!
My dear friend Laura Nash (aka Nash) is getting married three weeks from today!  A couple of weekends ago, Nash and 18 of her closet friends hit the skies and the roads from all over the country to congregate in Nashville, TN for her bachelorette party!  If you’re like most people, your reaction to this is, “NINETEEN people?!”  Yes, indeed, Nash is one popular girl, with many close friends who love her dearly and wouldn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate such a momentous occasion.
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As her maid-of-honor, it was my honor (and duty:)) to plan Nash BACH, along with her sister and matron-of-honor Libby and her four other bridesmaids.  Special thanks to Libby, a Nashville local, with who’s help this amazing weekend could not have been pulled off.  So how does one plan a bachelorette party for 19 girls?!  A daunting task indeed, but one made much easier by Airbnb.  A number of months ago, Libby and I found this spectacular 5 BR / 5.5 BA Victorian, located just a couple of miles from downtown and perfectly suited to our massive party.  Rather than spilt the group into overpriced hotel rooms, this beautiful home allowed us to all be together under one (very spacious) roof.  It’s as beautiful in person as the photos on the website, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the space.

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IMG_2799Per usual, I failed capture photos of every aspect of the weekend, but suffice it say we ate well, drank well, and danced even better!  The live music in Nashville is all it’s cracked up to be, and this coming from a girl who doesn’t even like country music!  We even took a “redneck bus tour” Saturday afternoon, which while far from the best sightseeing tour out there, was a fun and humorous way to spend a couple of hours together.
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It’s not easy to plan a weekend for 19 girls, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easy everything came together.  Kudos to Nash’s friends for being so easy-going, just like Nash herself!  And most importantly, the bride-to-be had a wonderful time.  Next up, WEDDING!

TAILGATE!
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If you know me at all, you know that my favorite day of the year is not Christmas (and that’s not just because I’m Jewish) – it’s the TAILGATE!  Ash’s husband Johnny and his brother Warren have been hosting their annual tailgate for a whopping ten years, and every year it’s gotten bigger and crazier!  Recall that last year I actually missed the tailgate when I was in Spain, (a fact I am still upset about), so needless to say I was very excited to be in Columbus and off work last Saturday!
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The day started as it always does – with a five mile run with Ash in the crisp fall (more like winter – it was 30 degrees!) weather.  What followed was pure debauchery!  We piled on the layers and the drinks and partied all. day. long.  I had to work early the next morning, so the night ended early for me, but I still managed to squeeze in about nine hours of tailgating.  We missed you, Pam!  Till next year – GO BUCKS!

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Spinning Love
One of my spinning regulars is a kind, quiet, older gentleman named Alan.  Alan is a hardcore marathoner, having run numerous marathons including Boston.  A few years ago, Alan credited my spinning class with helping him set a new personal record (PR) for himself in the Boston Marathon.  Well, it appears that PR is no longer valid anymore – he set a new PR a few weekends ago running the Chicago Marathon, with a whopping time of 3:01:41 – a ~6:50 min/mile pace!!! After my class on Monday night, Alan handed me a piece of paper – his official results from the marathon, with a hand-written note thanking me for his new PR.  I hardly think my once weekly spin class is to credit for his stellar record-breaking performance, but I’m honored to have contributed even a little to his physical and mental preparedness.  I was so touched that he not only took the time to tell me this, but to print out his results and hand write a note.  It was incredibly thoughtful and made my day!  Congrats, Alan!
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Greek Salad Dressing
I have my friend Sarah to credit with finally transitioning me away from bottled salad dressings to homemade ones!  I started making this greek salad dressing after she brought it to Memorial Day weekend at the Ash’s lake house, and I’ve been obsessed ever since.  What has me really geeking out, though, is the new tool I bought to make it even easier to make: a juicer!  Nothing fancy, just a handheld manual juicer.  And I have work to credit for that discovery.  After working the “bev” station for a few shifts, I discovered how freaking amazing this simple kitchen tool is.  No, squeezing lemons is not a difficult task, but it’s made infinitely faster and easier with this tool.  I highly recommend!  I bought this $12 one on amazon and while it’s not as nice as the one we use at work, it does the job.
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As for the dressing, it’s very simple: equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, oregano, and kosher salt.  The amount of the latter two depends on how much lemon and oil you use, but for reference, to one cup of liquid (1/2 cup of each), add 1 TBSP of oregano and 1.5 tsp of salt.  I squeeze the lemons directly into a mason jar with measurements etched into the side (love), so that way I just add  an equal amount of olive oil and modify the seasonings as necessary.  These two lemons made a little less than 1/2 cup of juice.  The dressing keeps in the fridge for a week or two and is super yummy!  No more bottled dressings!

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Alright, folks, that’s all – for now.  Time to make guacamole and head over to Caitlin and Zane’s for an outdoor football watching party – they are projecting the game on their garage!  And if any of you are reading in the Columbus area, I work my last front-of-house brunch shift tomorrow, so come visit the Beechwold location and get yourself a Big Burrito!  Next up: back of house – aka, trial by fire 🙂

5776

On Sunday night at sundown, the Jewish calendar moved from year 5775 to 5776.  For those of you who don’t speak Jew, that’s also known as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
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Lest you think I’m some sort of expert, I’m not.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s the proof:
IMG_2691Thanks to my new Jewish friend Carly, not only did I know when Rosh Hashanah was, I actually had plans for it this year other than dipping some apples in honey at my desk at work!  She very generously invited me to join her parents (who were visiting from Nashville for the Holiday!) and her boyfriend’s family for Rosh Hashanah dinner on Sunday night.  It was quite the crowd – Carly, her parents, her boyfriend Ben, his parents, his two brothers and future sister-in-law, and….me!  Despite it being a family affair, they all made me feel so welcome and right at home.

Ben's family!

Ben’s family!

This was Carly’s first time hosting Rosh Hashanah dinner at her own home (one that she shares with her boyfriend), and it was quite the celebration!  The table was set for the ten of us beautifully.  I felt like I was attending a meal hosted by our temple friends back in Cleveland!  I know she made her mother very proud 🙂  Although Carly is Jewish, Ben and his family are not (remember my post on JDate?  ‘Nuf said.).  As someone who grew up as “the only kid in town without a Christmas tree”, I completely get what it’s like to be a Jew in a Christian world.  Ever since I was young, I’ve chosen to embrace this difference and educate my non-Jewish friends as much as possible (see this and this).  Carly appears to share this philosophy, and made it her mission to educate Ben and his family on the Holiday and its customs.  She even went so far as to create a two-page guide (ignore the blue tint)!  I love it!
IMG_2690I knew I was in the presence of a real Jewish family when the feast began.  There was SO MUCH FOOD.  Carly and her Mom made an entire spread of Jewish foods!  We started with an appetizer of crostini with goat cheese, apples, honey, and pomegranate seeds, symbolizing a sweet new year, and enjoyed some Challah courtesty of Katzinger’s Deli in German Village – yum! We were then served some homemade chicken matzo ball soup, minus the matzo balls (technical cooking difficulties), which was so flavorful.
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The main course consisted of the following:  honey mustard chicken, noodle kugel (a traditional jewish dish), roasted potatoes, salad, and my personal favorite – brisket!  There was so. much. food.  Had to show the non-Jews what Judaism is really all about: food!
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And don’t forget about dessert!  Carly made an amazing apple honey cake (seeing a theme here?) AND a birthday cake to celebrate her father’s recent birthday!  And my contribution…a simple fruit salad 🙂
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We all left stuffed and happy and ready for bed!  It was such a fun evening – Carly and Ben’s families are so warm and welcoming and fun.  I felt right at home!  Thanks, Carly, for looking out for your sort-of-Jewish friend 🙂

As I wrote in last year’s Rosh Hashanah post, I love that the Jewish New Year is in early fall.  It always feels like the start of something new – a new school year, new cozy fall clothes, the change in leaves.  And this year, a new job!  I can’t think of a better way to start year 5776 than with a refreshing, challenging, and somewhat terrifying career change.  Today is my last day of “staycation“, and although I’ve very much enjoyed my time off, it’s time to start earning a paycheck again.

L’Shanah Tovah!  Here’s to a sweet new year.

Brunch

I love brunch.  I mean, what’s not to love about a meal that serves as two, and is thus justifiably large and filling?  And almost always (or in my case, always) includes bacon?  Not to mention drippy eggs!  I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

But to me, brunch is more than just a tasty meal.  It signifies a state of relaxation and leisurely-ness that is rarely captured by other meals.  My love of brunch dates back to freshman year of college.  My girlfriends and I would gather at Kennedy Commons at 11 AM on Sundays to linger over somewhat inedible scrambled eggs and toast and discuss the juicy details of last night’s debauchery:  who made out with whom, who didn’t make out (me), and who drank too much (usually the person still sleeping).  Studying and exercising could wait!  Post college, brunch took on a new meaning; with no homework hanging over our heads and more money in our pockets, my friends and I could afford nicer brunches.  And if we weren’t too hungover, those brunches might include cocktails!  Brunch is also my favorite meal to enjoy when visiting other cities, like this BLTE bloody mary at Jacob’s Pickles in NYC (and Nash’s fancy mimosa of some kind).
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I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for new brunch spots.  My rotation frequently includes Northstar (duh, can you say Big Burrito?), PhilCo (excellent baked eggs and grits), and Tasi (healthy-ish), with the occasional Union buffet mixed in.  But I get tired of those, so when I recently had the opportunity to explore two new-to-me cbus spots, I jumped at the chance (and actually remembered to take photos for once!).

The first new-to-me spot was The Whitney House in Worthington with my cousins Katie & Pete and their adorable son Edward.  They live in Worthington, and since I rarely venture outside the comforts of the Short North, I was happy to make the short drive north to a “cool” ‘burb.
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The menu at The Whitney House was a bit on the small and unusual side.  If I had to choose between diner-style brunch (think 3-egg omelettes with greasy home fries and toast) and fancy schmancy-style brunch (think salmon salads), I’d always choose the former.  I really love a low-maintenance, classic brunch that is as big as my head.  But everyone once and a while, a fancy schmancy brunch place is a nice change of pace, and The Whitney House fit the bill.
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Keeping with my theme of unhealthy brunch food, I opted for the Chilaquiles, which are basically nachos on steroids.  And let me tell you – they were GOOD!  I loved the chips that had become a bit soggy in the sauce.  I even liked the pork shoulder, which is unusual for me seeing as I’m not much of a “weird meat” person.  They were pull-apart tender and melted in my mouth – none of the chewiness I dislike about many cuts of meat.  And as mentioned earlier, what’s not to love about drippy eggs?!
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By contrast, Katie went the healthy lunch route, opting for matzo ball soup (a homage to her Jewish relatives) and a nice salad. She said they were both good, but I’m pretty sure my meal wins 🙂  Thanks, K, P, & E for getting me out to the ‘burbs and into a new restaurant!
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A couple of weeks later, I brunched at another new-to-me spot, this time south of the Short North in the Brewery District.  My yoga instructor, Jill, got a group of her students together for her 10 AM class followed by brunch.  Sweat fest followed by food?  Count me in!  Post class, the group of us toweled off and headed to Westies, a “gastropub” that I had dined at before, but only for bar food during sporting events.

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Right off the bat, Westies earned bonus points by serving these mini biscuits on the house (the photo doesn’t do them justice).  To a group of hungry yogis, it was heaven!  I also ordered a bloody mary that had antipasto as a garnish – yum! (seeing a theme here?).
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The brunch menu at Westies was my speed – I had a hard time choosing between all the greasy options!  I ended up going with the burrito, which was good but not quite as flavorful as I expected.  #brunchsnob
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The irony is, come Wednesday and my first day at Northstar Cafe, brunch will never quite be the same.  Largely because most of the time, instead of being the slightly disheveled person enjoying brunch, I’ll be the very put together person serving slightly disheveled people brunch!  On the rare occasion that I am able to enjoy a leisurely mid-morning meal, I’ll probably be too critical of the food / service to fully enjoy it.  Ignorance is bliss?  But alas, this is the path I’ve chosen, and so for the time being I’ll throw myself into making and serving YOU some of the best brunch in the city!

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So next time you wake up hungry (and maybe a bit hungover), stop in to the Northstar Cafe in Beechwold and get yourself a Big Burrito.  You won’t regret it!

What’s your favorite brunch spot?

 

Staycation

Hello O-HI-30 readers!  Long time no write.  It’s been over two weeks since my last post, and mostly for good reason.  Two good reasons, that is!  First, Pam’s wedding two weekends ago, followed immediately by vacation in Florida!

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As soon as Pam’s wedding was over, I wished it wasn’t.  I had such a fabulous time dancing my heart out with the dearest of friends from all over the world (it was a very international wedding!).  I knew so many people that it felt like my own wedding – I even made the “rounds” from table to table!  As you can see above, Pam was a stunning bride, and Reinhardt a very handsome groom.  Unfortunately I don’t have my hands on a lot of photos yet (per usual, I didn’t take any), but I did manage to get my hands on a couple that I think sum up the weekend fairly well.

First, this photo of the bridal party and family from the day before the wedding following a couple of hours of pampering at the W Nail Bar – manis and pedis, yes please!  As you can see, we had quite the group!  We had the entire salon to ourselves, and I can’t say enough good things about our experience – we were even given champagne on the house!  It was a great way to kick of a whirlwind 48 hours (which technically got kicked off the night before with a girl’s dinner at Nada).
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And second, this photo that Johnny captured of Jackie and me in the limo following the wedding ceremony.  #bridesmaids
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Thanks, Pam and Reinhardt, for including me in such a special way in your special day.  It was truly a wonderful weekend!  Enjoy the rest of your time in Hawaii!

I took a bit of a honeymoon myself.  At six AM the morning after the wedding (translation: from party dress to plane ride), my parents and Karen picked me up and whisked me away to our favorite place in the world, Anna Maria Island.

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Tell me, is there any better entrance to a beach than the magical, shady path that opens up to this?  I think not.

Despite that fact that we came as close as we ever have to postponing our trip because of the impending “tropical storm”, we had some of the very best conditions we’ve ever had. Not only was there no tropical storm, it barely even rained at all.  The water was crystal clear and glass-flat, just like we like it.  And because school had started but it was too early for the snowbirds to make their way south, the island was as deserted as it was in the 90’s when we first started going. Simply put, it was truly a perfect week.

We played a lot of our favorite game, rummy tile (my Mom won a whopping TEN games to Karen and my three each…), I watched at least ten episodes of The Good Wife (I’m all caught up to the current season), I read one book (but only one), and, last but definitely not least, there was a lot of this.  #bestfriedshrimpever
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Thanks, Mom, Dad, and Karen, for taking me on a wonderful vacation.  I love you guys.  We missed you, D!

On Labor Day, I attended my first of hopefully many Northstar annual picnics!  The picnic was held at Jorgensen Farms, one of Northstar’s produce vendors, in their beautiful barn (often host to rustic weddings).
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Matt joined me as my “plus one” (and a very handsome plus one, at that), and we both feasted on some of the best picnic food I’ve ever had.  Would Northstar do it any other way?!  The spread featured a mix of some of Northstar’s signature dishes (veggie burgers, slaw, pimento cheese dip, etc.) and other staples like pasta salad and fresh heirloom tomato salad.  And to top it off, the best sticky buns I’ve ever had (sorry, Aunt Margo), made in the Northstar kitchens using owner Kevin’s recipe.  They aren’t served in the restaurant, but they should be!  Everyone was so friendly to me, and a few speeches were made that made me feel really good about the company I’m joining.
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That brings me to rest of my staycation – a staycation that lasts another four days for a whopping total of 3.5 weeks!  So what the heck have I been doing with all my time, you ask?  A friend described it well yesterday – she said I was “nesting”.  Usually the term nesting is used to describe pregnant women who are prepping for baby, but in my case, that baby is my new job!  Aside from exercising and some socializing, I’ve mostly been using this time to clean and organize every inch of my apartment, and I love it.  In case you’re curious, that list looks like this:
IMG_2665When I start at Northstar on Wednesday, I’ll start knowing that my life is “in order” – a feeling that my Type A self just loves.  For now, it’s time to enjoy my last “normal” weekend for the foreseeable future!  I won’t be enjoying a typical Friday/Saturday/Sunday combo for quite some time…  Instead of lingering over eggs and coffee at 11 AM, I’ll be the one serving it.  Here goes nothing!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Talk to you soon.

Adventures

Time for another Adventures post, stay-cation style!

Goodbye
After 8.5 years at METTLER TOLEDO, I said goodbye last Friday.
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Leaving was very bittersweet.  Although I was ready to go and am excited for what’s next, it was still hard to say goodbye to the people I worked with for so many years.  I always thought it was cliche when people leaving would say “what I’ll miss the most is the people”, but now I get it.  Really, what else is there?  (Although I’m kind of going to miss excel spreadsheets…#nerd).

To celebrate, my work husband Jim planned a happy hour at the new Bar Louie across the street (side note – Bar Louie has an amazing happy hour!).  Big thanks to everyone who made it out to wish me well – I felt so loved.  And an extra special thanks to two of my favorite METTLER TOLEDO people:  Jenny, one of my very first work friends and true confidant, and my work husband, Jim, who I sat next to for seven years and who is to credit with much of my professional success and all of my daily sanity.  Everyone should be so lucky to have a Jenny and a  Jim in their place of work.

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I miss you guys!  But not that much.  🙂


Bike
On my first official day of unemployment (I don’t start at Northstar until September 16.  3.5 week stay-cation!), I did what any normal person who isn’t earning a paycheck would do:  I bought a road bike!
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Those of you who have been reading for a while know that I’ve been building up to this for quite some time, so it wasn’t exactly an impulse purchase.  But even so, when I handed over my credit card, I did have a moment of “oh shit, am I really doing this?!”  After six triathlons on a hybrid bike and countless “i can’t believe you’re doing that on a hybrid!” comments, it was time to bite the bullet and upgrade.  And boy did I ever upgrade!

Between Sunday afternoon when I started this adventure and Monday afternoon when I finished it, I went from a road bike novice to…a semi-novice.  Shout-out to my Uncle Yossi for imparting some of his infinite wisdom on me, as well as the crowd-sourcing I did on Facebook!  I learned that on the most simplistic of levels, road bikes can be broken down into two things:  frame and components.  I visited two shops on Sunday, and narrowed down my choices to two bikes.

The first was a 2014 Specialized (my Hybrid brand) with a carbon fiber frame with entry level components for $1400 (tax-free somehow..).
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And the second was a 2014 Fuji with an aluminum frame, carbon fiber fork, and mid-level (good) components:
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I put both bikes on hold so I could consult various experts (see above) before making a decision.  I also wanted to check out a third shop, Roll.  I could go into a deep discussion of the psychology of purchasing decisions, but suffice it to say that Roll was the beneficiary of my desire to make a purchase that day.  If I had gone to Roll on Sunday I’m not sure if they would have earned my business.  That being said, Roll was an incredible customer service experience, and they deserved every penny of my business.  Brody, the shop manager, spent over two hours with me.  Roll focuses on bike fitting, which may be a gimmick for some, but for me and my old lady back, it’s very important.  Unlike the other two bikes and shops, I know that the bike I purchased is the right fit for me.

After test riding a mix of aluminum and carbon fiber bikes, I ultimately decided to put on my big girl bike shorts and go for the gold: Giant Avail Advanced 2 (2015).  It’s carbon fiber and shimano 105 components (mid-range), and because next year’s model is already in stock, I was able to secure a 20% discount + an additional $100 that I negotiated off the price, for a total of $1600.  There is a big part of me that still can’t believe I dropped almost two grand on a bike – say what?!  But I was afraid that if I went with a lesser bike, I would regret it in two years and wish I had gone with a better bike upfront.  So here’s to hoping this bike lasts me another 10+ years!
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I took her out for her maiden voyage today, and let me just say – it was awesome.  I really felt the difference between it and my old clunker, especially when making turns and when going up hills.  It’s so much more agile than the hybrid – I feel one with the bike.  I can’t wait to take her out on a longer ride!  Maybe I’ll become a serious cyclist yet!  Let’s hope so for $1600…:)


Brassica
My new employer, Northstar, is opening up a new restaurant right below my apartment!  Ever since Betty’s closed their doors 1.5 years ago I’ve been waiting for something awesome to go in that space – and Brassica is exactly that!
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Brassica (defintion: group of plants in the mustard family, including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) is not open yet, but as a new employee of Northstar I was invited to their friends & family meals this week!  This gives the restaurant an opportunity to test out its processes, food, etc. in a friendly environment before opening to the public.  I went for lunch yesterday, and let me just say – YUM!  The menu is inspired by owner Kevin Malhame’s Lebanese heritage, so the focus is on Mediterranean flavors.  Sneak peak:
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The food was truly outstanding – so flavorful and healthy (minus the fries!).  It’s set-up like a Chipotle – you choose the base, and then go through a line selecting proteins, toppings, etc.  I opted for a salad, half lentils, half greens, with chicken, one falafel ball, and basically every topping – pickled beets, cabbage slaw, carrots, caramelized onions, etc. etc.!  It’s also reasonably priced – you can easily get a solid meal for $10 or less.
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In my (somewhat biased) opinion, it’s exactly what the Short North so desperately needs – an antidote to the fancy, pricey, sit-down restaurants.  Brassica is accessible, flavorful, quick, and easy.  I’m honored to be a part of the brilliant team behind it!  Can’t wait to introduce it to the public – for my friends and family, likely on my (discounted) dime 🙂

That’s all for now, folks!  So starts three big days of celebrating Pam and Reinhardt’s wedding!  Tonight is a girl’s dinner (while Reinhardt has his bachelor party!), tomorrow is nails, lunch, and rehearsal dinner, and Saturday is the big day – starting with hair and makeup at 7:30 AM!  And when it’s all over, I’ll be heading south to my “honeymoon” – Florida with my parents and Karen for a lovely week of absolutely nothing.  I may or may not hop on this space during that time, so if I don’t – don’t lose faith in me!  I’ll be back for my last week of stay-cation after Labor Day.

Enjoy your adventures!