Jag-U-Are

When I was a kid, I envied my Bubby Cryille’s personality. She was warm and welcoming, but also outspoken. She knew everyone — and everything about them — and she loved life. I remember her beauty routine most of all — second only to my memories of her Entertainment Books. She went weekly to a salon called the Magic Touch in Oak Park, where she went for her hair, her brows, and her nails. It was like Bubby HQ. Bubbies here, bubbies there, bubbies everywhere. Bubbies doing nails. Bubbies doing hair.

Her hair was standard Bubby — brushed back curls — but her nails…her nails were her creative outlet. My dad’s mother is much more tightly wound, but my beloved Bubby Cyrille – she went for red.

Jag-U-Are by Essie was her signature shade. For years, I thought she was simply mispronouncing the name “Jaguar.” It took years, and four years since she passed away, for me to realize I was wrong.

I spent Christmas in Westchester this year — a slight break in my “Jewish Christmas” tradition of movies and Chinese food in Michigan and Amagansett.

We made our way up with Adam’s father, but on the one condition that I could get a mani/pedi before going to the house. Adam and his dad dropped me at the salon before heading to the gym. I walked past its hair styling section to the mani/pedi room, and the first color I picked up was the shimmery red “Jag-U-Are.” It was at that moment that I canceled my shellac mani in favor of a regular manicure with this color as an ode to my late Bubby Cyrille.

The rest of the holiday was lovely — good food, future family, and we even squeezed a movie in there. Most of all, it was nice to have memories of my Bubby with me, even if just on my nails.

Jag-U-Are

American Hustle

I fell in love with David O. Russell over Silver Linings Playbook (they did an awesome job using social media to promote the movie, too!), and so when I heard he was banding Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale together for a new film called American Hustle, I was beyond geeked.

This movie had everything I was hoping for. Christian Bale (Irving) played a lovable conman, caught in a dysfunctional marriage with the wildly talented — and in the film, wildly delusional — Jennifer Lawrence. He meets Amy Adams’ character, and falls in love, and into a whole lot of trouble. Bradley Cooper was pretty good, but Bale and Lawrence really stole the show.

I really feel that Jennifer Lawrence is the modern Meryl Streep. She was so committed to her role as Rosalyn, the nail polish-sniffing Long Island housewife whose husband, a conman with a comb-over, spent his days making money with his mistress.

The movie had pieces of romance, adventure, and grit…enough of each to make it a great choice for date night with my non-moviegoer fiancé.

Cameos by Louis CK and Robert (I want to call him Bob…) De Niro were great, and while the movie did feel a bit long — longer than it actually was — the plot twists were well worth it.

See, there, I told you how I felt about the movie, without really saying very much about it. Even if you really want to see Anchorman 2, go see American Hustle first.

From Pinterest to Proposal

I work in social media, and so, it’s reasonable to assume that in addition to cataloguing my every move religiously on Foursquare and documenting my life through Facebook and Twitter, I plan my future with equal attention to detail on Pinterest.

My boards are appropriately segmented from recipes and home-goods, to beauty tips and generic lifehacks. And then, of course, there’s my wish list. This particular board has been so specially curated; I’ve dedicated several blocks of minutes — maybe even hours — to ensure that each pin reflects my taste, and things I’d actually use.

There’s a point to this prose, I swear.

You see, I got engaged on Saturday.

My boyfriend fiancee and I have been together for just about a year, and marriage had been a looming topic. We moved in together quickly, and so marriage felt like the logical next step.

That said, it seemed a proposal would only happen if Adam — said fiancee — had full creative control.

Had he met me? I’m controlling, type-A+, neurotic…the list goes on.

As the one year mark drew closer, I suspected he was up to something. Since when was he in a rush to do yard work in the suburbs on a Friday?

Hint: he was buying a ring.

What role does Pinterest play in the whole scheme of things, you ask? It all goes back to my wish list.

When my friend Janet got engaged, she mentioned to me BlueNile.com. And while Adam didn’t get my ring from BlueNile.com, I spent countless lunch hours and late nights perusing their selection of loose diamonds and settings, dreaming up what my sparkler would look like.

I settled on a simple, pave setting with an emerald-cut center stone. And it was from that pin, that had been sitting there stale for months, that Adam drew inspiration to have my ring designed.

The ring, however, was only half of the proposal.

We had dinner at Piccola Venezia in Astoria. He started with a caesar salad, and I had the minestrone soup. For his main course, he had a veal parmesan-type dish, while I opted for fresh pappardelle in olive oil with roasted garlic and eggplant. (HELLO DELICIOUS!)

After dinner, there was this lull of time where I wondered if a proposal was on the horizon. And, at the cusp of my wonder, the waiter placed a dish in front of me. I remarked that we didn’t order dessert, and then I looked down to see that “Will you marry me?” was etched onto the plate in chocolate.

Cue hysterical tears.

In the midst of my emotional eruption, Adam kneeled on one knee, and asked me formally to marry him. The entire restaurant was our audience, and the moment I said yes, the entire room trumped my tears with applause, and the waiter announced proudly, “SHE SAID YES!”

Image

I am so glad I gave up snooping, as now I enter into Thanksgiving with something even more special to be thankful for.

Never Forget

It’s 12 years later, and I now call New York my home. I’ve been here for almost 4 years, but 12 years ago, I had no concept of the city. I’d never been. The tall buildings, the vibrant communities. They meant nothing to me, because I didn’t know.

But now I live here.

I take full advantage of the life that fills these streets. The energy that is New York — the people, the places, the adventures to be had — is the biggest show of recovery. America, and especially New York’s “concrete Jungle” are proof that we are a nation, we are a community, and we shall overcome as a united nation, people working together toward peace and happiness. Every year on this day — and honestly, every single day in between — is a reminder to live life, because we are lucky enough to be here, and to have a life to live.

Today I not only remember and pay tribute to the victims of September 11, 2001, but I celebrate the great strides New York City, and the United States of America have made ever since. We are a work in progress, but it is our calling to keep on keeping on.

[THIS POST ALSO APPEARED ON MY OTHER BLOG, BIGAPPLEBITE.COM]

Aubergine Dreams: An Ode to Eggplant

Before Mark Bittman penned his praise for eggplant via the New York Times, I became acquainted with the fantastic fruit.

Sometime after I lost interest in microwaving spaghetti squash, I picked up a beautiful Italian eggplant at Whole Foods. Like my foray into egg poaching, I was intimidated by this purple-skinned ingredient.

Nerves were lifted when I pulled my first attempt at baked eggplant out of the oven. Lightly sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and other fresh herbs, I had successful made juicy, tender eggplant steaks. And I ate all of them. In one sitting, without regret.

Fast-forward a year later, as I live happily with my boyfriend, a confirmed carnivore. Eggplant is our unity fruit — the one ingredient we can agree upon as the star of a meat-free meal. Whether it’s his stewed eggplant and tomatoes, or my eggplant with cherry tomatoes, lentils, and spinach, together we enjoy it, and Mark Bittman was right, it does make me happy, as I do eat it everyday.

Sliced, lightly battered and fried with a honey drizzle on-top, or char-grilled and topped with a dollop of skordalia, I can’t think of an eggplant dish I would want to pass up. Most recently, my boyfriend grilled up eggplant steaks that I proceeded to eat for one week straight, often topped with a slice of ovaline mozzarella and a poached egg, I’ve spent some time collecting a series of eggplant recipes I cannot wait to try on my own:

  • Fried Eggplant with Molasses Recipe – Berenjena Frita con Miel de Cana: This recipe reminds me of a dish I tried at Tapas Adela in Baltimore (their dish was called Eggplant Fritas, and was served with a lavender honey). It’s like an eggplant donut, and makes this otherwise healthy ingredient just a wee bit sinful. Remember: no regrets.
  • Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Feta: I love eggplant, but I especially love eggplant with tomatoes. The acidic sweetness of the tomato mixed with the hearty earthiness of the eggplant work so well together, and the fresh bite of feta adds a nice touch. I might add mint to this recipe for kicks.
  • Mediterranean Eggplant Salad: I love a good eggplant salad, and the prep is so fuss-free, that there’s no excuse not to try this one at home. Another added benefit? This recipe comes from Weight Watchers, so it’s inherently PointsPlus-friendly.
  • Black Bean and Red Pepper Burgers: Where does the eggplant come in? You see, that’s the genius behind this recipe. As a fan of any opportunity to ditch the bun, I was so pleased that this recipe replaces the simple carbohydrates of a bun, with the ever-loved eggplant.
  • Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta: Like I said, I like to ditch unnecessary carbs. And with eggplant acting as the base of this bruschetta, the flavors of the other fresh vegetables will be better blended, also allowing the textures to shine without competing with the toasted baguette.
poached egg

The Perfect Poach

Poached eggs were, until recently, a mystery to me. I was unsure of how to order them (over-easy, over-hard?), and was intimidated at the thought of preparing them. This was all true until last week.

Adam and I went to Costco and for some reason — cholesterol not on the mind — he purchased a huge container of fresh eggs.

I’m not really an egg person, but I do like a good poach every now and then, served over steamed spinach, cherry tomatoes, and feta. And while brunch is over-accessible in New York and neighboring parts, I decided to save money one afternoon by making my very own poached eggs.

I watched several tutorials — finding the Serious Eats one to be most helpful — and quickly poo-pooed the idea of vinegar, saran warp, a spoon-induced whir in the water. Nope. All you need is a pot or deep non-stick pan, a slotted spoon, water, and fresh eggs. Fresh eggs are perhaps the most important element, because the whites will form beautifully with fresh eggs.

The process turned out to be super easy, albeit suspenseful as I waited for the whites to cook fully over the yolk. As the poaches perched up to the surface, I knew they were ready, and waited with anticipation to cut into the oozy yolk.

I captured a Vine video of my perfect poach, and snapped this photo to share.

The Peter Horowitz Experience

Moving is stressful. There’s no way to avoid the stress, but choosing the right realtor is definitely a strong step in minimizing the it.

I stumbled upon Peter’s website one year ago. I was having issues with my current apartment, and honestly lusted after his listings. They seemed relatively flaw-free.

Throughout the year, I stayed focused on his blog and social, looking for apartments to get an understanding of what I could afford, and tallying the factors that were negotiable, must-haves, or all together unnecessary.

Nudging from my boyfriend convinced me that a May 1 move was a smart idea, and that it’d be less stressful.

It wasn’t.

Until I contacted Peter.

He was able to get an April 15 lease to push to May 1, and he set up a viewing within 24 hours of my phone call.

Hyper-reachable, and able to answer almost any question thrown his way, Peter truly took his time and did not rush us through the leasing process.

The best part about working with Peter has been that it is not a one-and-done experience. He keeps tabs on the tenants he works with, because their happiness is his reputation.

Visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and check out his images on Instagram.