Thursday, February 28, 2013

Turning the corner...

Good moods are blooming...
What's that feeling in the air you ask?! It's sunshine and energy and the lightness of spring.  21 days until winter is officially behind us and don't even get me started on the gloriousness that is daylight savings... we've made it over the hump MONTH (seriously, December has the holidays, January you can endure, but by February you're like "F this shizz, gimme some spring") and now we say au revoir to our winter blues. In celebration of the end of February, here are some light-hearted, light-tasting and smile worthy biddies from around the web.

Veggie Quesadilla
Veggie Quesadillas are usually tough for me because I don't like bell peppers, but this unique recipe is filled with yummy spinach, goat cheese, caramelized onions and tomato. Sounds delicious (and easy!) Craving a bit more protein? I think grilled chicken or shrimp could be an excellent addition to the meal. Click HERE for the full recipe.

Justina Blakeney wearing 31-Bits
The gorgeous Justina...

One of the best things about reading blogs is how easily you can stumble upon something awesome that you'd never have discovered on your own. For example - 31bits, a totally amazing jewelry company making some totally amazing jewels. Featured on Justina's blog, 31Bits is currently providing 108 women in Gulu, Uganda with English lessons, finance  and vocational training, community groups and health education via their gorgeous bauble business. So when I add THIS stunning piece to my collection I can look and feel great.

So simple and so sweet. Help usher the brightness of spring into your home with THIS adorable craft or THIS "why didn't I think of that!?" use for those little spice shakers you can pick up cheap at Container Store or that you already have sitting empty at the bottom of your spice rack (am I the only one who has these!?)
Spring is coming. Yippee :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

Hellllooo hump day! Today is a "why bother" sort of hair day in NYC if you know what I mean (rain, wind, general gloom) so I'm absolutely ripe for distraction. For those of us not lucky enough to "snail it" in bed all day long, let's get over the hump together:

* I want to go to there. Now.
* Bed Bath and Beyond is a palace of lies.
* THIS is definitely getting added to the lunch rotation asap (sounds amazing!!)
* Taking the art of water-sliding to new heights (literally) and a "free fall slide".
* I have had this exact conversation at least a half dozen times.
* Studying up before I see my favorite novella come to life on the Broadway stage!
* A very long, but insanely interesting article on why we really are addicted to junk food.
* The windows of NYC. Totally Cool.
* Sometimes a dog just has to groove to the music.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My door is always open...

The door is open...
Today I'd like to have an extremely high brow conversation with you (she said sarcastically). Today we are takin it (back) to the bathroom, which is easier for some than others, because some of us leave the door wide open. You see, I come from a long line of door-open potty users and though I get that bathroom business is "private business" in the comfort of my home I just don't feel there's anything to hide! While I know not everyone shares my "pee freely" mentality, I recently discovered that people are staunchly divided on this topic and some actually find the prospect of using the bathroom without complete privacy appalling, especially when it comes to significant others (read more HERE). One commentor writes: "...Door closed, faucet on. Number two preferably when he's not home." Door closed, faucet on!?! Have you ever thought about your environmental impact lady!? (And maybe you need to read THIS literary classic?)

On my first day of college, I knew my roommate and I could be bff's when she walked into the bathroom, left the door ajar and continued our conversation (maintaining eye contact of course) throughout her time on the toilet. There I was, my first time living on my own, relieved (ha!) to discover that my home's bathroom door policy was a-ok. I guess some of us are comfortable leaving it all out in the open while others could never... There are two camps of bathroom users in this world and a firmly closed door stands between us.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar Roundup (aka, taking the easy way out today)

Like a sucker, I tuned in for all 3 hours...
Did you all watch the Oscars!? They're going to be my excuse for 1) not preparing a post last night; 2) not having time to bust something out this morning (someone has to provide web traffic to every "what they wore" list on the internet today!) Far from a fashion, tv production or cinema expert, I'll just leave you with these thoughts:

* Watching the Oscars is pretty damn boring. I get that sound mixing, digital effects and costume design are vital to making a good film, but I don't watch awards shows to see those people give acceptance speeches. Give me more starlets in gorgeous gowns please.
* Apparently if you want to successfully work behind the scenes in Hollywood, you must be a man with flowing locks. I'm not the only one who noticed this trend.
* The objectification of women in film is funny (I'm allowed to think this because I'm a woman)
* A great roundup of outfits HERE and HERE.
* Some of my personal favorites from the night:

* Kristen Stewart - get out of my eyesight, get out of Hollywood. You are the worst. (Also, style your damn hair)
* Melissa McCarthy - have your people talk to Octavia Spencer's people. Glamour is possible at any size.
* My beloved Brit Brit has gone brunette. Sure, why not?
* The Oscar victory I agreed with most.
* Excellent commentary on the fashion and overall production HERE.
* After the show it's the after party...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Healthy Habit of the Month II.

Yup, that sounds about right.
This post is the second installment of SeektobeMerry's "Healthy Habit of the Month" series. Sourced from my bff's at Weight Watchers, online articles and my own efforts to keep fit and trim, throughout 2013, I will attempt to integrate one new healthy habit into my life each month. Join me!

So we meet again impending spring... With March just 1 week away, I'm trying to overlook the lion and focus on the lamb. Before we know it, warmer weather will allow us to shed our bulky sweaters and full-coverage outfits for spring apparel, meaning it's time to get serious about our healthy habits people!!! How are we doing with last month's pledge to eat a fruit or veggie at every meal? Full disclosure, I've achieved only moderate success. I'm definitely eating WAY more of the good stuff, but for me every meal is a major change and requires a lot of advance planning. I'm getting there. Baby steps right? 
This month we're going to shift gears from food to activity.
Healthy Habit of the Month #2: Schedule a workout. Just one. EVERY week.
We all have the best intentions, but fitting in exercise can be a real challenge. You have to physically get to the place you're going to workout, you have to have energy to do your workout and then you have to clean yourself up (with the sweating and the hair and the re-dressing...) For me a 1 hour workout can take nearly 2 hours if I include travel and cleanup times. And we're all busy (and lazy and thirsty for a cocktail) so some weeks I get in 3 or 4 workouts, other weeks, nada. For this month's challenge, I'm going to look at my calendar every Sunday night and schedule in 1 workout for the week. I'm going to treat it like an important meeting - it cannot be cancelled or rescheduled for anything short of a true emergency. No more excuses, just a better ability to make time for working up a good sweat. Game on exercise!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

No need for Little Italy...

Another West Village Gem (located off Abingdon Square)
To dine at Piccolo Angolo is to be invited to dinner at the home of the Italian grandparents you never had. From the moment you speak to Renatothe (adorably charming) patriarch of this family run spot to make a reservation, until you stumble out the door, totally stuffed and carrying leftovers, Piccolo is going to have you smiling.

When you step into Piccolo Angolo, prepare for sensory overload. The brick lined interior is small, packed and operating with the volume turned all the way up. The single room with open kitchen in back greets you with delicious smells as you survey the surrounding tables for visual assistance selecting your order. I highly recommend making a reservation in advance to avoid a long wait if you're planning to dine during peak hours.

Order the meatballs. Seriously. Do it.
The (very reasonably priced!) menu at Piccolo is impossibly awesome and even better is that the kitchen is happy to get creative. You want to share one of their ENORMOUS meatballs as an appetizer? No problem! Sub the side order of pasta for linguine with clam sauce? For a small additional cost, Dr. H's wish was their command. The meats and cheeses on their antipasto were legit some of the tastiest I've ever had and I'm pretty sure you could drench anything in their red sauce and it would be mind-blowing (it's that good!) Homemade pastas, fresh seafood, decadent alfredo... I recommend heading to Piccolo with a group if for no other reason than to have more plates on the table to share.

Complimentary garlic bread. YUP!
And perhaps even more than the food (perhaps!) the thing I loved most about Piccolo was the family run charm. When your waitress is yelling "Dad!" to the waiter at the table next to you and she sends her brother over to talk to you about your wine selection, you remember that delicious meals need not come with a side of pretentiousness. 

I can't remember the last time I went out to eat with a group of people, all of whom left the table absolutely RAVING about every single bite. Next time you're looking for an Italian feast, Piccolo Angolo is the spot for you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

I'm feeling a bit "off" today... not sick enough to stay at home, not healthy enough to be cheery at work. Blegh. Let's get right to the distractions!

* Just a few white lies we can all get behind.
* Holy CRAP this dog is freakin amazing.
* Melted cheese is the key to my heart (balsamic soaked tomatoes don't hurt either:)
* You know how I feel about concerts alone, but what about travelling?
* Was I the only person on the planet who didn't know about the Harlem Shake phenom until last week!? Well in an effort to improve my cool factor, I went on a shake binge. Check out my favorites HERE and HERE and HERE.
* Got loads of compliments on my mani when I brought this Pin to life (note: I used dark purple for the base coat).
* Did you know that this happened to Venice in the fall!? How cool/crazy/scary/nuts!
* Makes you say "whhhhhhhhat!?!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Flying solo

How do you feel about doing things by yourself? Though I have enjoyed the occasional quiet brunch, museum stroll or movie on my own, last week my solo expeditions reached new heights when I attended a concert by myself. That's right, I, Merry Meri, went to see Mumford and Sons, at the Barclays Center all alone. With several music-loving friends having seen Mumford at the same venue the week before and my bud Dr. H out of town on business, I found myself, 2 days pre-concert preparing to miss out. But Dr. H gave me a pep talk and planted the seed - "you don't really talk much to your friends at a concert anyway. I bet you'll still have a blast... you should go." So after briefly mulling it over, I decided to go for it. I purchased a cheap ticket off StubHub and excitedly ventured to what turned out to be one of my favorite live musical performances ever. Being alone was a total non-issue and though I'd definitely have preferred a buddy, I can't say flying solo made the night any less enjoyable. Mumford was incredible live and being alone made it very easy to sneak into a lower section for an amazing view (shhh! don't tell the ushers). Though some concerts are definitely meant to be a shared experience, Mumford's music can just be heard and enjoyed, no matter the circumstance.

When I told my family about my solo mission over brunch, my Dad whispered "is that something to brag about? Isn't going to a concert alone a little pathetic?" which made me wonder if maybe I was proud of something that I should find a little embarrassing (wouldn't be the first time!) But the thing is, (thankfully) I didn't go alone to a concert because I'm living an isolated life without loved ones to share experiences with. In reality, I just really really wanted to do something that my network of peeps didn't have time for and thanks to my wonderful husband's encouragement, I felt brave enough not to miss out. Because that's really all that was required - a bit of courage to get through the occasional "is she by herself?" glance as I wiggled into a vacant seat or pulled out my phone to share the song I knew Dr. H would love to hear. So next time you're choosing between flying solo or missing out, I say be brave enough to go it alone... because adventures can still be pretty awesome, even if no one is sitting beside you.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Peace out Homies.

Woop woooooop!
Hooray for Friday! Hooray for long weekends! Hooray for the Presidents!! Is there anything better than the anticipation of a 3-day weekend (followed by a shortened work week!?) I mean look at this, I'm EXPLODING with exclamation points over here!!! To kick off the holiday weekend, I thought I'd share some ideas for passing the time and celebrating the great Abe and George. Also, I've had a particularly inspiration-filled few days, so be sure to come back next week (starting Tuesday of course, bloggers need time off too!) for some awesome Merry Meri musings. Happy Friday my friends!

You guys remember how much I love me some American President right!? Well in the spirit  of patriotism and acknowledging February's most underrated holiday, HERE are some crafty ways to celebrate President's Day. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, but perhaps a Presidential Theme Party should be planned next year!?

Looking for some great movies to entertain you while you lounge around on your couch this weekend? I recently watched both of these flicks for the first time and loved them. I somehow missed Everything Must Go starring Will Ferrell when it came out, but the funnyman pretty much nails it in this dark comedy. And if you're looking for something totally different, consider the 1950s classic Sabrina which captures the charm and beauty of Hepburn and Bogart along with the simplicity of early Hollywood film.

Rich in experiences (& spare change)
What a brilliant and simple project to transform all of that spare change you brought back from overseas into a piece of decor and conversation for your home! All you need is glue, an inexpensive frame and your piggy bank (you know those foreign coins are sitting at the bottom!) to make this craft your own.

Music, drinks and tacos. NICE.

Once, way back when, a (super cool) friend took Dr. H and I to Union Pool in Brooklyn for a concert. It had totally fallen off my radar screen until last night when another (super cool) couple asked if we wanted to join them for a night of dancing at the Pool. Superb DJs, excellent concerts, and the tasty El Diablo taco truck make Union Pool one hip place to hangout. Check it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hey Dr. H..!

The best thing about having a blog, is that you can use it as one big love letter to your husband if you want to, and I want to... because my husband is the best. On Valentine's Day and everyday, love you Dr. H.

And this one is for the ladies...
To all my readers, my family and my incredible friends - may your day be filled with reminders that you are wonderful and you are loved. Happy Valentine's Day. xox, m

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

So true.
The hump is here!! Are you ready to distract yourself with a whole buttload of interesting, adorable, funny, tasty and pointless-yet-awesome links? Enjoy!!

* Brings new meaning to "rise and shine"!!!
* THIS is pretty much a checklist for my junior high school existence.
* Always wanted to take a crack at homemade tzatziki.
* Not so humble brag - Did you watch the Grammy's? Well remember this post about this Lumineers from May and this post about Mumford's new album Babel from November? Merry Meri, musical taste maker at your service :)
* No real purpose, but definitely adorable.
* As a chronic "run late-er" THIS was an interesting read.
* Taking "princess for a day" to the extreme (I love Disney and all, but THIS is... wow).
* As usual, turtles say it best.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Loving goodies.

Pinned Image
Filled with love.
Even though Valentine's Day shouldn't be all about gifts, gifts sure are lovely aren't they!? And what better way to show someone you love how much you appreciate them than by sending a surprise goody their way!? Here are some great gift ideas for you and all the Valentines in your life. Happy (last minute!) shopping!

Love in Bloom.

Gentlemen, in my opinion you can do no wrong with flowers. Skip the 1-800-Flowers generic bouquets by searching Google for a local florist and I don't think there's anything wrong with having them arrive tomorrow to avoid the holiday markup and delivery crunch (they'll still be lovely on February 14th!) If you're in NYC, Sprout has a stunning collection of pre-designed bouquets at a very reasonable price point. Pre-order now!!

Love PoemsShadowy Heart Posts

Dr. H and I received Pablo Neruda's collection of love poems as a wedding gift from a very thoughtful friend (who's also an English teacher!) and I think it would also make a beautiful Valentine's Day gift. Inscribe your own note in the front cover (maybe wrap with these adorable Anthropologie heart earrings!?) and let the woo'ing commence!

Nostalgia Retro Hot Dog Roller
Butcher Shop - Our Peter Luger Steaks
Dudes may not be into sentimental gifts the same way the ladies are, but that doesn't mean you can't have a little fun with them! If your guy won't enjoy more standard gifts like nice cuff links, a new golf club or sports team apparel, consider this awesome hot dog roller (with bun warmer!), a box 'o deliciousness from the infamous Peter Luger's or perhaps a set of these hysterical Jack Spade "Stop Talking" cards (Dr. H, would you like to put in a request!?) 

Plan a date night somewhere unexpected.
Never been kissed at the top of the Empire State Building? Always wanted to ride through Central Park in a horse drawn carriage? Dying to see the Knicks in action!? Whatever the activity, think of something you and your Valentine love and do it together. Silence your cell phones and enjoy a few hours of old fashioned quality time for two.

And if you need more inspiration, here are a few great gift lists from around the web:
* Via CupofJo
* And a few more ideas for the dudes via ThePostGame.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Will you be my valentine!?

Hooray!! Valentine's Day is almost here!! As a girl obsessed with hearts, fresh flowers, date nights, special friends and my wonderful beyond imagination hubby, you know I'm ready to get down with cupid. Despite the overly commercial nature of Valentine's Day and Hallmark's emphasis on romance, I look at v-day as a chance to celebrate all the wonderful relationships in my life and to remind all the people I love, just how much they rock. To kick off our lovey week, here's a roundup of fabulous goodies for all the valentine's in  your life.

Heart Attack
If you put it in the mail first thing tomorrow, your "heart attack" should arrive just in time. Or maybe you need to leave it on your love's doorstep! Whoever the recipient, full inspiration for this adorable idea HERE.

DIY Valentine, king of hearts playing card
DIY Valentine, matchbook
Want to make a homemade card instead of spending forever in the greeting card aisle at CVS? How about "King of my Heart", "Queen of my Heart"? or maybe "Perfect Match"? More homemade holiday inspiration HERE.

you are my fave: valentine smash cake
A smashing good time!
There are lots of sweet treat ideas out there for Valentine's Day, but my favorite is this "smash cake" from You Are My Fave. Waayyyy easier to make than I would have guessed, this adorable dessert could be a perfect surprise for the chocolate lover in your life!

"You're the only fish in the sea for me!"
Holy cow cute! Whether you're sending your kiddie to school with Valentines for the class or want to make your co-workers think you're the craftiest colleague on the planet, these printables are for you! Available for purchase on Etsy HERE, you just purchase and print the template, then cut and package these fantastic fishies at home.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The weather man it saying...

Snowy night ahead!!

In honor of winter storm Nemo (we name winter storms now apparently?) here's a fabulous montage of winter weather insanity. So fire up the Netflix, stock up on booze and frozen pizzas and enjoy the beauty of a fresh blanket of sparkling snow. Stay warm my friends!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Getting Grown-Upy

"No one looks stupid when they're having fun" - Amy P.
(aka, my kinda grown up)
This morning I worked out before work. It's a new trend and one I'm not the biggest fan of, but it's necessary. The evenings just seem to get away from me more often than they used to and even on nights when I don't have plans or errands to run, often I'm just freakin tired!! Am I getting old!? Does the fact that I feel the need to vacuum weekly and wear more sensible shoes signal that the practicalities of adulthood have started to defeat the free-wheeling fun of adolescence? 

Apparently, your late 20s are a funky time. This isn't groundbreaking news, but when you're living it, you really understand it. I have friends with kids, friends that own homes, friends back/still in school and friends that party into the wee hours on weeknights (God bless 'em!) The lack of uniformity, for a control freak like me, is nuts. I'm all "but how am I supposed to be acting!?" Thankfully, it appears that there really are no rules anymore. If I want to rent in the city when many are buying in the suburbs, that's a choice I get to make. If I want to drink with friends past midnight on a Wednesday, that's a-ok too (though there's a 50% chance I'm going to hate myself Thursday morning!) When life requires you to start acting grown-upy, you must acknowledge new responsibilities (you mean I have to clean those dust bunnies off the moldings myself!?) but you also have the freedom to make your own rules (the dust bunnies will still be there next week!) And even though waking up before the sun to workout totally blows, at least on weekends I can still sleep until noon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hump Day Distractions

"How will we survive another 2.5 days?" asked the adorable baby walrus....
Hallelujah! Hump Day is HERE!! Somehow I'm still suffering from an awesome weekend hangover (celebrating your niece's second birthday with her and your fabulous fam will do that to you) and my upcoming weekend plans (GWU alum returning to her stomping grounds for 2 nights only!) still seem a million years away. So along with basking in the warm winter sun (I will shake you if it kills me Winter Blahs!) here are a few distractions to make the day go just a little faster. Happy Humping!

* Legos are just so damn cool.
* In case you were wondering, THIS is the definition of fierce.
* Fashion meets function, of the winter warmth variety (gots to get me one!)
* This link contains words like "triple cream" "cheese" and "bacon". Click at your own risk.
* I'm still learning how to apply everyday makeup (great tips HERE) but it sounds like it's worth the effort.
* Beware, jumping gay walrus.
* Perfect for that "Spring has Sprung" cocktail party I've been thinking of hosting.
* These parents are my heroes. When I grow up, I want to be just like THEM.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Winter Blahs.

Spring, I'm packed, dressed & ready for your arrival.
Today I've got a serious case of the Winter Blahs. It's not quite the "ho hums", because I'm not feeling glum or hrumphy, but I'm completely uninspired, super unmotivated and mostly looking for an excuse to curl up in sweatpants and avoid mirrors which reflect my pasty-pale complexion. Winter Blahs for sure.

Since nothing soothes the soul like a sweet treat and a cocktail (and because it's already noon and I remain completely unprepared to share any of my writing, rants or musings!!) here are some of my latest favorite finds of the sweet and alcoholic variety.
Cookie monsters, literally!
These cookie treats look RIDICULOUS and so easy to make that they're a no brainer for your next "I'll bring dessert" moment (or maybe your kid's school birthday celebration?) Cookies on the outside, frosting covered with sprinkes in the middle and then two dabs on top plus m&ms for the eyes (and a nose if you feel so inclined)... Something tells me kiddies and grownups alike will be fans of these monsters.

This sweet and savory treat is made of bread, brie, berries and chocolate. That's my kind of sandwich! Full recipe with a few simple details (pinch of salt!?) HERE. Stop reading, go to the grocery store... toaster... mouth... belly. YUM.

The Salty Chihuahua.
Low in calories, sweet and boozy, just how I like em. Try this combo of grapefruit juice, tequila, and orange liqueur for a refreshing Margarita alternative.

The Dirty Shirley
Another sweet one for the ladies! Combine cherry vodka, grenadine and diet sprite. I think this one will have my mind at the beach in no time.