Monday, October 5, 2015

Read, Seen & Consumed

Santa Barbara, CA. What a difference 72 hours makes...
Hello friends and happy Monday! I am finally back in NYC after an outstanding 9 days on the west coast, having worked in LA and attended a stunning wedding in Santa Barbara since I last checked in. Things are a bit of a grind here with my move to Brooklyn just 4 days away (EEK!!!!) but I have some very share-worthy items from my travels so here goes!

(1) Read
While I was traveling, I read Mindy Kaling's newest book Why Not Me? and I lurved it. I am a huge Mindy fan and this follow up to her first collection of short stories, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, was even more touching, personal, honest and funny. Mindy is not just a tv superstar (producer, writer, actress... not just the dark skinned chick from the Office!) but she's also truly a role model for anyone (but especially women) who want to work hard and achieve great things. Mindy tackles everything from her body image and confidence to dating and Hollywood with no fear and it's simply a great read.

(2) Seen
I watched three airplane movies during my travels and I would recommend them all highly. In order of viewing:
I. St. Vincent is a touching film starring the always amazing Bill Murray, an impressively dynamic Molly McCarthy, the funnier-than-expected Naomi Watts and superb child acting by Jaeden Lieberher. The story was at times very sad, but generally uplifting and it made me shed a few happy tears at the end. 
the greatest invention since airplanes themselves?
II. Magic Mike XXL requires no description other than "HOT". It's incredibly cheesy but very worth seeing. MMXXL will make you want to fist pump and scream "hell yeah women are sexual creatures too!" and then it will make you want to do something that I don't need to get into on this blog... hehe. See it. Trust me. 
III. Me Earl and the Dying Girl was a critically acclaimed indie movie I had wanted to see over the summer (because its cast included Tammy Taylor and Ron Swanson) but any film involving a teenager with cancer isn't always at the top of my date night movie list. Nevertheless, this was a seriously charming and at times deeply sad film which led to some unembarrassed public waterworks by yours truly. A commentary on friendship, human nature, illness and adolescence, I highly recommend you grab a box of tissues and tune in.

(3) Consumed
I ate with the tenacity of 500 lb man deserving of my own reality show during my travels, but 2 culinary experiences stole my heart during this past week in California: a trip to Malibu Farm on the Malibu Pier and the 29th Annual California Avocado Festival.

Malibu Farm is such a gorgeous spot that they could have fed me rocks and I'd probably have been happy, but thankfully the stunning view and gorgeous decor are matched by totally tasty farm fresh fare, prepared with lots of flavor, but a "light" vibe well suited for the beach. Everything from the cauliflower pizza appetizer to the burger and salmon sandwich pleased the pallets of our entire group and the cocktails were pretty darn tasty too!

This is a real thing that exists and for 2 avocado lovers like Dr. H and I, it was nearly heaven on earth. Avocado everything to eat (did you know there's a type of avocado with a soft skin meant to be eaten!? There is, and we brought 5 of them home!) avocado paraphernalia and more. We just might have to return to Santa Barbara next year for another fix :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pleasure, Work, Pleasure (plus donuts)

Hello friends and greetings from some massive altitude above the western side of the USA! I’m en route from Portland, OR to Los Angeles, CA almost at the midway point of my pleasure-work-pleasure west coast travels. Since I suck at sleeping on airplanes (you’d think the 5am wakeup would have been sufficient to knock me out!) I thought I’d take this time to tell you all about why Portland is an awesome place to visit.

1) Portland is awesome because OMG the food.
Recently I’ve noticed Portland popping up all over as an “it” restaurant city. This is not a lie. The food in Portland was so tasty and I consumed so much that I worried Delta was going to slap a “HEAVY” sticker on me as I boarded this morning’s flight to LA (where I assume I’ll eat nothing for the week, as most LA women do). Where did we eat you ask?

Locally sourced/farm to table is kinda the vibe of all of Portland, and this restaurant did it really well. Dimly lit with an open kitchen and industrial chic vibe, Clyde Common served up an impeccable charcuterie board and several unique share plates of the octopus, lamb, pork belly and pasta variety. I also discovered that “share plate” meals are way more affordable when you’re not in NYC. NICE.

I selected this spot in Portland’s Division neighborhood because Joanna of CupofJo fame called it one of the best meals of her life. High expectations officially met. This meal was DELICIOUS (and not just because we were starving and drunk off 2 tasting flights from Deschutes Brewery.) We ate SO much at this meal and one item was better than the next from the fresh salads and small plate appetizers (Dr. H declared the chicken liver toast one of the “top 7 foods I’ve ever eaten in my life”) to the fresh pasta in shapes and sauces too tasty for me to coherently remember. If you go to Portland, go to Ava Genes.

The fried chicken with gravy biscuit sandwich (with egg!) to the right was so good it almost made me forget that calories are I thing I care about. Almost.

This place started as a food truck and became a brick and mortar restaurant likely because the sandwiches are just that damn good. Dr. H and I worked yesterday from a picnic table outside using Lardo’s free wifi while enjoying amazing fresh tuna melt and pork shoulder sandwiches. The bread was crispy and perfect, the insides were flavorful and unique. Gotta love a good sandwich AmIRight!?

2) Portland is awesome because DONUTS (and coffee)
Turns out this city has a thing for donuts and that’s a thing that’s a-ok with me. We started our adventure with “Voodoo Doughnuts” and ended it with “Blue Star Donuts” which are for two distinctly different types of donut lovers (and I’m not just referring to the spelling). Voodoo is ridiculous… decadent, silly, excessive are just a few words that came to mind over the 3 days it took Dr. H and I to polish off our box of 4 insane doughnuts. As opposed to Blue Star which was simply the tastiest glazed donut I’ve ever eaten (in one sitting. While Dr. H watched. Because he has respect for his body and I do not.)

Also, the original Stumptown Roasters is located in Portland and is just one of the many many small(ish) coffee shops in town (peace out Starbucks!) Stumptown has a serious "to go" selection which included chocolate milk chilled coffee. Be still my heart.

3) Portland is awesome because NATURE!
This place knows a thing or two about keeping it clean, green and beautiful. Not only is Portland itself a generally clean place with a river in the middle and lovely, simple architecture, but just outside the city limits are some amazing hikes, mountains, forests and waterfalls. Dr. H and I spent Sunday driving around the scenic byway, hiking Multnomah Falls (we went all the way to the top and I have the quad/ass-ache to prove it!) and generally appreciating how beautiful the Pacific Northwest is. I only wish we’d had more time there (possibly during summer weather) so we could have done more hiking, river floating and site seeing

4) Portland is awesome because SPORTS!
One of the unusual things Dr. H and I have done for 4 years running is visit a random college with a great football team and attend one of their games. It’s probably some sort of subconscious way of making up for the fact that our college (GDUB!) didn’t even have a football team. This year we drove about 90 minutes from Portland to Eugene to watch the Oregon Ducks take on the Utah Utes (it's a Native American tribe). This game did not pan out well for the Ducks, but I’ll take any excuse to drink beer, watch football in the mountains and be represented by a mascot that’s essentially Donald Duck’s football loving brother.

5) Portland is awesome because it’s a little WEIRD
The slogan is “keep Portland Weird” and the show Portlandia pokes fun of its weirdness with pride… I would agree – Portland is a little weird. Portland has funky food truck communes, a great weekend market (check out the “Saturday Market” and Saturday or Sunday!), super friendly people and a bizarre lack of bustle even on weekdays. The stores all sell the unique sorts of home goods you want but don’t need and people drink beer with every meal, even on Mondays. Portland is great and you should definitely visit.

Now off to LaLa Land!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

My husband is awesome (but sucks at grocery shopping)

There's a surprisingly awesome quantity of stock-photo
images to be found when you google "man grocery shopping"
This post is for all my homegirls who have awesome husbands who chip in at home, but who for the life of them, cannot manage a successful trip to the grocery store. For those of you who make painstakingly detailed lists which include package coloring and shelf location but still end up with a phone call from a confused hubby in aisle 3, this rant is for YOU!

Dr. H is awesome about sharing the burden of "home work", but one task I always hesitate to pass off is going to the grocery store. No matter how hard I try, it is as though a blind man consumes products in our home and then he becomes a bewildered little boy when trying to locate anything resembling the items on his list inside the store. Somehow a pre-dinner shopping list which includes "1 lb chicken breasts" turns into 1 lb of my favorite chipotle chicken breast deli meat and the store being sold out of shallots (which later morphs into a confession of "I don't really know what shallots look like"). 

I don't know what in our genetic code makes women so much more capable of grocery shopping than men, but my scientific research (aka, complaining to girlfriends over alcohol) yields a conclusive result that the majority of men simply cannot grocery shop. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hump Day on Delay

EXACTLY what I would have done.
First of all, thanks so much to all of my lovely and loyal blog readers for (a) still being here and (b) sending so many sweet messages of congratulations and support after Tuesday's post! A new apartment and a puppy coming to a Merry Meri near you this fall - YAY! Even though yesterday was officially Hump Day, my week is all wonky thanks to Rosh Hashanah so I figured I'd share some of the internet goodies I've been collecting today. Enjoy!

* In case you were wondering what the new "it" books are, wonder no more!
* Ann Taylor is having a mayyyjah sale right now (I'm talking 40% off your entire purchase). Get some recs on what to select from their fall goodness here.
* Want to win a beautiful piece of jewelry? (of course you do!)
* Have you ever noticed that most Disney characters don't have Moms? Here are some theories on why the house of mouse does it that way.
* And speaking of Disney, THIS looks absolutely stunning.
* An elegant, messy, braided bun in 5 minutes?! Yes please.
* Weeeeeeeeee!!! #Sheepdoglove

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Is anyone still there!?

Helllllloooo out there!!
Hi! My name is Merry Meri and I'm the chick who's supposed to be keeping things running around here. I've been slacking, I know, but I've got some great reasons... They look like this:

Game over Dr. H, I WIN!!! This adorable cavoodle was born
8.30.15 and will be coming home to NYC in about 8 weeks!
and this:
Welcome to Park Slope Brooklyn my friends...
The stuff my pre-war dreams are made of, also,
my soon to be living room/home office!
And not pictured are two of the busier and more productive work weeks I have had in a long while (the summer slow down is officially OVER!) Things are so very good and busy and filled with change and anticipation... It's stressful, but in a good way if you know what I mean. I'll take it:)

Thankfully, things are starting to level out a bit so I can get back to some creative writing, online time-wasting and of course sharing it all with all of you. And since no "I'm back" post is complete without something to make you smile:

Everything about this is SO good (thanks sis!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Just call me Dora!

Hello my 3-day weekend warriors and welcome to one of the most depressing Tuesdays of the year (#Fact). I hope you all had an amazing time celebrating the long weekend and enjoyed the end of our beloved summer season in style (#PleaseDontGo). Since today has a fall/back to school vibe for most of us,  I thought it was a good time to tell you all about my most recent "how did I ever live without this?" purchase. Introducing my new backpack (#backpackbackpack!!)

Based on my store browsing and internet searching, I think it is safe to say that backpacks are indeed "cool" again. Backpacks are also a great way to save your back and shoulders from one-shoulder/tote bag induced pain and being hands free means you can ride your bike, corral your kiddos or simply stroll with ease. Though NorthFace and LL Bean styles endure, if you're a grown up workin Dora's favorite accessory, it's important to go with something a bit more professional and sleek.

The fan favorite brand in my house is Herschel, with my choice HERE and Dr. H's slightly larger pack HERE. Both offer padded interiors for protecting your laptop, comfy adjustable straps and additional pockets for your miscellaneous items. And though there are a ton of amazing styles, colors and prints (ooh la la!) I mustered up some maturity and went with black for my City Backpack-Mid Volume since I'm often toting my laptop and work accoutrements around the city and straight into meetings. If you're looking for some other brand options (including a few that are more fashion than work-function) click HERE, HERE or HERE. Dr. H and I are also hopelessly devoted to our Roots leather backpack when we travel. It's indestructible, holds a ton of stuff and leaves our hands free for vacation essentials like taking photos and eating food:)

Now that you know where to look, channel your inner Dora the Explorer and grab yourself a backpack today!

Friday, August 28, 2015

My current favorite tv show

August can be a tough month for tv lovers... most shows are on hiatus and there aren't even many live sports options (don't you dare suggest golf. Don't. You. DARE.) Thankfully when cruising my OnDemand menu recently, I discovered the GREATEST SHOW ever invented. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Drunk History (#IfYouDontKnowNowYouKnow).

Based on a hit web series, the Comedy Central show has a simple premise: someone gets absolutely wasted and tells a famous historical story. The stories are 100% accurate, but told with all the "color" that a completely sh*tfaced narrator brings to the table.

And to make everything even more hysterical, the stories are acted out, completely via lip synching (of the drunk person's narration), by famous actors and comedians (and the casting is seriously impressive). 

This show is a history lover such as myself's dream and probably the way all history should be taught... it's that engaging and entertaining. Each episode is 30 minutes and tells 2-3 stories. With all of  season 2 on Comedy Central onDemand (for free!) right now, I think you know what I'll be doing all weekend :)