Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Blow out, Ballet, and The Bistro

This past weekend I had the opportunity to work with my friend Mary from High School.   We've been in the same industry for years but this was the first time we got to work together.   The tasks were pretty simple and we were able to share a glass (2 for me, one for Mary) of wine at the end.   It was great to catch up with her.

One of the things I've loved about my job is the fact that someone else pays me to travel - sometimes to a place I would never go otherwise,  sometimes to a place where I can see someone I love.     It's an extra treat when that happens.

I spent the weekend working in Saratoga.  I've never been before and I can't wait to go back.   I really have no excuse.  Mary has lived in the area for years.   Work gets in the way of life.   Life gets in the way of work.  

I am a believer that we do too much work and not enough living.  (More on that later...)

Anyway - when I first started Meeting Planning I spent many a night in Ritz-Carltons, Four Seasons and the like.   I was spoiled beyond belief.

I have to tell you though - in recent years my assigned accommodations have been more of the Courtyard Marriott variety.   And I'm not a hater.

Marriott's in general are my preferred hotels and the Courtyard has a cute "restaurant" of sorts called the Bistro.  They have appetizers, flatbreads and burgers.   Basic fare that you could get with room service but you can sit by the fire or on a patio or in a cute little booth with built in TV like I did watching Property Brothers on HGTV.     I couldn't decide what I wanted so I order the hummus plate and a burger.

Prior to this I took Mary's recommendation and had my hair blown out at Pin Ups.   I had a mimosa, read a magazine and was very relaxed.   I also tried to take this selfie without anyone seeing a thing, hence my face.

During my after pampering walk I found this pointe shoe hanging out on the sidewalk.   I danced from age 4 to 16 and then again in my mid-20s.    The New York City Ballet and specifically Balanchine's Nutcracker will forever be my favorite.   I hope I get to Lincoln Center at some point this season.

All and all - things are good around these parts.   I'm working hard, exhausted but it's a good exhausted.      It beats the alternative I guess.

I have said in the past that I wish I could do something else and the truth is I want to do what I do under my own terms.   Freelancing - though not my chosen path - something I was more forced to do out of necessity seems to be really working out for me.   If I get to see more of my friends more often it will truly be the best of both worlds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Weekend in New England

Time in New England took me away.

To long rocky beaches, and you by the bay

We started a story, whose end must now wait....

Aaand now you know I secretly love Barry Manilow.   Actually you'd only know that if YOU also secretly love Barry Manilow.   So there's that!

My incredibly generous mother gave Dave and I a weekend away for our anniversary.  We went to the Shelter Harbor Inn.    It's a lovely, homey inn - more than just a bed and breakfast (though breakfast is included).  

The weather was ideal.  Dave and I took a walk to the end of the road till we hit water.

Later in the day we took a drive to Newport where we had the dinner I described below.   I once did a meeting in Newport and it was nice to be back and not be working.

Who brought this guy?

We didn't get a chance this time to check out the mansions.    Dave's ideal vacation spot is somewhere in the mountains.  Way before we met I had envisioned a destination wedding in Newport.   I grew up on Long Island but there is something about New England that feels like home to me.    Dave would argue I don't seem to like the beach much and I admit - I'd much rather lay by a pool but I do love the way the sun sets on water and the sound and smells of the beach.  

We got to relax and just sit and be quiet - something we don't get to do too much and something we should do more of.    I can't wait till the next time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What I ate....Newport Edition

Dave and I went away for the weekend.   More on where we stayed, what we celebrated and some other pics of what we saw (which included Gone Girl)  but I wanted to mention the delicious dinner we had in Newport at the Clarke Cooke House.

Fresh sourdough-y rolls served warm to start.

When in New England you must have Clam Chowder.   This was not too rich but full of clams.  And the Oyster Crackers were homemade.

I was in the mood for a steak.  I ordered the filet mostly for the sides.    Wood grilled with green onion, leek and potato puree, asparagus and red onion marmalade with bordelaise sauce.


And a delicious Pinot Noir.

Dave had the seafood pasta (unpictured) which had an Asian, gingery sauce.    Like upscale lo mein is my easiest comparison.

Dessert was a shake from Ben & Jerry's - also unpictured.    Chocolate Therapy mixed with Candy Bar Pie.  

It didn't last long.

Lest you think I'm a food snob, tonight I'm making this for dinner.

More to come.   Happy Tuesday to you!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Just be a good person.

My grandmother was a lover of soap operas.   She moved in with us when I was around 15 and some of my fondest memories were sitting on the edge of her bed watching As the World Turns.     She also loved true crime novels and I am going on record to say that she plays a part in my current Dateline addiction.

These days my soap opera fix comes courtesy of my TV soulmate Andy Cohen.   If there is a show on Bravo that I don't watch you can be sure it is of the truly lowest quality.   Because I literally watch other people watch TV on that channel.

Yesterday my soulmate in life kept asking me for updates on the Teresa Giudice situation.   And I admit - I'm fascinated both on and off the screen.   Their story is a true study in excess.    As someone who moved into a house where my husband used to live with his ex I can appreciate the desire to start fresh and new.    But I'd be ok with a house strangers lived in - not so skeeved out that I'd need to build one from scratch.   

I don't feel sorry for either one of them.   I feel sorry for their kids, especially the one who has learned it's "cute" to be rude to every adult she comes in contact with.    But their actions definitely warrant the punishment they were given.

Teresa in many ways reminds me of a spoiled teenager.   I happen to live with a houseful of them.  The lessons she should have learned are the ones Dave and I try and teach everyday by our own actions.   Our kids for sure have other influences outside our home but the underlying message remains.

Just be a good person.

Just do what you're supposed to do.  Study.  Clean up after yourself.   Be responsible.   Be courteous to others.   Treat people like you'd want to be treated.   Think before you act.     Think of others sometimes before you think of yourself.  Don't lie.

Obey laws and the rules of our house.    They are there to protect you (and others).

Teresa and Joe just weren't being good people.   They were out for themselves and sought to gain as much as they could without being responsible for working hard or paying back.   When they got caught they lied and played dumb.  If there is one thing I cannot stand it is someone who thinks I am dumb enough to buy a lie when the truth is staring me in the face. 

I admit I will watch all this unfold with a sense of fascination and enjoyment.   Because someone finally told them to just - stop.   I have no doubt that Teresa and her people are thinking she can spin this a la Martha

Fifteen months is a lot longer than five and you, Teresa,  are no Martha Stewart.

I think our kids are slowly getting it and I in no way expect any of them to end up on Bravo.

At least, not before me. ;)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How this planner is changing my life. (Erin Condren Life Planner)

There were many times, since I have started this new life of mine, where a child would waltz into a room and nonchalantly exclaim that their concert, practice, parent teacher conference was....tonight.

It drove me completely insane.

We tried a dry erase calendar on the wall in the kitchen which only works when someone updates it and that someone is often...me.

But the problem with the wall of the kitchen is that I can't bring that with me.

Back when I was in High School there was a moment where my parents had to have a conversation with me about my grades. The story goes that I flew into hysterics. The fact that "I don't have a desk!!!" was the entire problem.

My father got me a desk that weekend.  That shut me up...until I thought of a better excuse. ;)

I have ALWAYS been this way.  I tend to go a tad overboard when I have a problem to solve. If I want to organize my room I need all new bins and baskets and hangers. If I need to organize my time I need a crazy expensive customized and personalized planner.

It was more than I really needed to spend but the truth is the money this thing cost is really buying my sanity. I've tried to use iCalendar or pushing entries from my Outlook at work to my phone. Those serve as great reminders but I can't see my whole life in a glance.

Now I can.

I saw someone on Facebook post about having to wait forever to get their Erin Condren planner. I took a look at the link and that was it. I was going to have a planner and it was going to be one of these.

This planner runs from October 2014 until the end of 2015.    The cover is sturdy and laminated and you can choose from a ton of different styles.   You can see each day at a glance with sections for morning, day, and night.   I can put work stuff in the day section and practices and such at night.

Or I can look at a month at a glance and see everything in one place.   October is going to be busy.

There are stickers!   And you can buy customized ones as well.    I had a set made with each kid's names so I can keep track.    They have not arrived yet but I can't wait!

There's a pocket and a little plastic ziploc case in the back.   The planner comes with a bunch of gift stickers that you can put on a package or wine bottle when giving a gift.

And I love the quotes sprinkled throughout.

Granted - a planner is only as good as how you use it.   Garbage in, garbage out.    I'll fully admit in the past I've kept a desk diary which languished as soon as things got busy.    But my sanity is worth the few minutes a day it takes me to keep track.    I can remind Mora of her cheer practice and Dave that Financial Aid Night is on a Tuesday at the high school.

To be completely fair - Staples has planners that are colorful and half the price.   You don't have to spend a lot to get organized.    But if you fall in love with the Erin Condren planners like I have you can use this link to get $10 off.  (Full disclosure - it is a referral link and I'll get $ off my next order too.  Win/win!)

My mother always told me the time it takes to organize saves you a headache later.     Keeping track of all of us has taken it's toll.   In the last month I've worked hard to get things in order and it immediately has made me much less stressed. 

It's a lesson I hope I've learned for good.*

(* this does not mean I am giving up my Massage Envy membership)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Everything old is new again.....

Moose and me, riding in style.

I can't even be sure that anyone is checking in here at all.     It's funny how sometimes the things that annoy you become the exact things you do yourself.   I know that when I follow a blog I get impatient (and disappointed) when the blogger stops...well, blogging.

Guilty as charged here.

My personal hiatus was about a bunch of things. 

When I started this blog I was a single girl living in NYC.    Once I finally was honest with myself I realized my excuses were just those.    I DID have time.   I COULD eat better if I just chose to.   Once I did - I was able to lose weight.

And meet someone.

Which had the opposite effect!

My life has taken a roller coaster ride in the past four years.  I've lost a parent, gained a husband, child, and 3 teenage stepchildren.   I've moved from a 350 sq ft room in the best city in the world to a 6 bedroom house in the suburbs.    I've lost a job I had for almost a decade and moved on to another.   I have a whole new set of challenges and responsibilities and it's hard to simply function sometimes.  But what I am learning is that as much work as taking on all of this is if I make some time to get organized and more importantly take care of ME and do the things I enjoy the hard days don't seem quite so hard.

“Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful.”
Annette Funicello

Wise words from a woman who shared my love for peanut butter.

Hope some of you are still around for the next phase.     This may include a change of venue so stay tuned!!