Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Season

Thanksgiving in Visalia.

Our first Christmas tree

Christmas music all the time. (New this year (not pictured): Smokey Robinson and the Miracles 1963 Christmas album. Dan is obsessed.)

Kunka's Christmas Party

Cookie Bonanza (Here are some chocolate peppermint thumbprints.)

Christmas in Visalia, my first ever.
Here's some pre-Christmas pierogi making. (Gotta show my in-laws how Christmas is done!)

iPad by the Christmas tree. One day we'll look at this photo and think, That was so 2012.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The last three weeks

After my east coast vacation ended, Pete and Jen came to LA the following week. It is my first time having family visit me, and I was excited to show them my new life here.

My first day back, that Sunday, I took them to Beach Yoga with Brad--one of my favorite things to do in this city. It's a slow, restorative yoga practice right on the sand, looking straight to the ocean. It is so peaceful and beautiful; sometimes you even see dolphins in the water! And it all takes place just down the street from my apartment.

The best part of the class is doing downward facing dog right on the water's edge. It's such an amazing perspective. It's impossible to leave class in a bad mood!

Afterwards, we went to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market to get some breakfast, and I started feeling a little strange. I was still sick with a cold, but my food didn't taste right, and my lips were tingly. I went home to take a nap, but when I looked in the mirror, I noticed my lips looked really strange and I was having trouble moving my mouth. Dan took me to emergency care, and I was diagnosed with bell's palsy, a super sexy condition where half of your face gets temporarily paralyzed....for weeks!  I was plagued with an ear ache, an eye that doesn't blink very well (which means no contact lenses for me, lots of eye drops and sleeping with an eye patch), pain in my cheek and a lopsided smile. I just did not feel like myself.

Luckily, you can't tell too much.

Well...except when I smile. (Three weeks later, the pain is all gone, but the left side of my face is still stiff.)

Worst of all, I came back to the office with a mountain of work piled on my desk, which meant long hours, working through the weekends and not a lot of time to get well and ease my stress. Let me just tell you, it hasn't been fun.

Luckily Pete and Jen were super understanding, and I tried to see them as much as I could that week. Jen's brother, Greg, who also lives in LA, joined us for dinner at The Galley on Main Street.

I hope I will be in better condition the next time family visits!

Then, of course, a few weeks later, Hurricane Sandy happened. Luckily, all of my NJ family members fared well in the storm and even had power at the end of it. Even my Uncle Henry and Aunt Stephanie who live by the beach were okay. We are very lucky. My mom said it was really scary and windy; she thought the windows would break in. The only thing that broke was the garage door.

Pete says there is a lot of trees/power lines down, and he snapped this picture of the long gas line in my hometown. So crazy to be away while all this is happening.

I am really sad about the damage that took place at the Jersey shore. My family used to spend our summers there when I was a kid, and it hurts to think about all those boardwalks and neighborhoods being destroyed. I hope they are able to rebuild soon. I can't stop thinking about it.

To end things on a positive note, Dan is participating in Movember, which means he is growing a mustache for the month of November to raise money for man-cancer. I don't particularly care for facial hair, but I gave Dan permission to grow in a 'stache (it's for charity!) I have never seen someone so excited. Here's the link to donate. If you choose to donate $25 or more, you will get a daily picture of Dan's blossoming lip fur. This is his first time growing anything on his face. You don't want to miss out on this historic event.

All pictures (except the self portraits) by Pete.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Even though my New York trip was pretty fabulous, I could not wait to go back to NJ and spend time with my family. Ten months is the longest I have ever gone in my life without seeing them (I think the most I had gone before is three and a half months, when I went to Europe!)

Lots of stuff has happened in the home front--good and bad.

The good: My sister, Annette, is pregnant and expecting a baby girl in January!

The bad: We found out in September that my mom has uterine cancer. She underwent surgery at the end of the month and was in recovery when I went to visit.

When I was there, we found out that the cancer is in the early stages. That is very promising news for a clean bill of health in the future! Mom was tired but in good spirits, and I was so happy to spend some time with her. It has been really difficult to be so far away from home during this time.

Annette had two days off from work, so she came over from Pennsylvania, and we had some good old fashioned "sisterly fun"--complete with cupcakes.

Annette, Jen and I hit Babys R Us to register for baby stuff. I couldn't get over how much stuff little ones need. Holy crap! (I think my sister is so cute pregnant!)

I got to spend some time with my brother Pete and his wife Jen. Apparently Pete hasn't had a car for a while and has been biking and motorcycling everywhere. Hence the crazy outfit.  It was cold that day! (He did buy a new car that week to take him through winter).

Speaking of cold, the fluctuating weather did not agree with me, and I got sick half way through my trip. My mom fixed up this spa treatment to help me breath better.

It was good to be back. I plan to return in February for my mom's birthday and to see the baby! (I don't want to go 10 months ever again!)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baby Parade

Dude, people in Brooklyn are making all kinds of babies.

First, I headed to Brooklyn Heights for some Polish eggs and kielbasa brekkies AND to meet the newest member of the Prince family. Here we all are!

Pleased to meet you, Grant!

And look who's all grown up!

Next stop: Dan and I trekked to Fort Greene and hung out with Nell, Adam and Theo. I really enjoyed catching up with them around their big kitchen table. Just like old times!

 Matching hair-dos ROCK!

The next day, Meagan and I headed to Julie's sweet new apartment in Park Slope, where I saw Luca!

I was super impressed that this new mom (of six weeks?) made us a home-cooked meal. Lasagna! Like, seriously?

I also had lunch with my former co-worker, Carrie, who I befriended at one of my old freelance jobs. We did not meet in Brooklyn, and she does not have a baby. But I think she likes babies (and baby parades, naturally), so her inclusion makes perfect sense in this post.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New York Groove

Three things I wanted to do in New York.

1. Eat my heart out (on the must-have list: cupcakes, bagels, pizza, Peruvian chicken...preferably not all at once).

2. Get around town...I wanted to see it all.

3. See as many people as humanely possible (did the best I could but still missed some peeps - bummer).

I think I did pretty well. Some highlights:

Breakfast with Brian and JP (no photos), who recently moved back to New York from Colorado. I remember an especially important conversation about the lack of delis in the Los Angeles area and how I should probably open up my own New York style brick and mortar deli called (what else) Everyday Ham.

Michele and I had a lovely afternoon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where we embraced our inner hipster with instagram photos and lunch at Smorgasburg, the Brooklyn Flea's food market.

More New Yorker Festival happened: Dan took in events all weekend; I checked out out Sarah Silverman and Portlandia Live.

Yeah, this bagel was the bomb. I had so many bagels, it should last me until I come back.

 I checked out the old neighborhood (see my old apartment building? And is that Bill Cunningham behind me?) Danielle and I had cupcakes at Two Little Red Hens (the Brooklyn blackout is my fave!)

Gotta love an impromptu firework display on the walk to dinner. (Yes, we WALKED and took the train everywhere!)

Also gotta love how terrible everyone looks in this picture. Taken at Grimaldis! Legit pizza!

Loved every minute! Oh, New York, you do not disappoint!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My 34th Birthday

We decided long ago that we would spend my 34th birthday in New York City. It made sense. I love to travel on my birthday; it was the weekend of The New Yorker Festival and we are planning to spend the holidays on the west coast this year. Fall is the best time to visit New York anyway, so it all fell into place.

It had been 10 months since I have visited the East Coast, the first time since the big move. I was a bit nervous about it. I just got over being homesick about NYC merely a few months ago. Would this trip revive all those old feelings again? Would I come back, wishing I didn't have to return to California? Plus, a lot of stuff was going on with my family, and I was anxious to see them.

Dan and I took a red-eye to JFK and crashed at Kayleen and Justin's place for a few hours. Despite lack of sleep, I forced myself to wake up and spend the day outside. It was a glorious, 80-degree day with powder blue skies and lots of sun. Rare for my birthday. Immediately I felt overcome by a combination of happiness and sadness that made me smile and weepy at the same time. You know, the months before leaving NYC, I never really mourned the place or thought too hard about leaving it, but being there again, I felt incredibly nostalgic and overcome with lots of feelings. Also, it kind of felt like I never left. Everything was immediately comfortable and comforting.

I decided that NYC is like a first love to me. The love is young and passionate, a love with abandon. I know it will never go away. That is not to say I don't like Los Angeles, too, but it's a different kind of love. It's more reserved. Less showy. Slower. I am growing into it.

With all those warm, fuzzy feelings, my birthday in New York was really one of the best. Here's what I did:

Breakfast: Egg and cheese sandwich on a roll, bought from a legit east coast deli. Miss those.

Pedicure at Galleria, my favorite place (I nearly dozed off in the chair, I was so tired). 

Shopping on 5th Avenue at my favorite stores (Anthropologie, Madewell, J Crew, Kate Spade). Yeah, we have these stores in LA, but they are so much better in NYC. Seriously. Of course, I stopped for a chocolate chip cookie at City Bakery, an old ritual. (Should I have bought that red dress? It looks cute in the picture. I got a few pairs of jeans instead).

That's me and the Empire State Building. I am a tourist now after all.

Dan met up with me half way through and bought me some "Y" cards as my birthday present.  

We hit The New Yorker Festival and saw Tales out of School, where New Yorker writers told stories about working for the magazine.

I loved that The New Yorker Fest crew (yes, Julien flew in from LA!) came together once again for another weekend of "dork fest." They joined me for dinner at Bubby's...just like old times. I was so happy seeing everyone.

We ended the night with some birthday peanut butter pie. Naturally!

I have three birthday wishes for this year. I will let you know when they come true.