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!”

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

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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]

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.

The Next Chapter

Love does funny things to you. Sure, I’ve been in love in the past. And each time I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. We broke up, and I moved on.

I’m in this position now where things keep changing, and I am perhaps the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

When I first moved to New York, I struggled. I’ve worked too hard for what I have to not brag that I’ve since earned four promotions in less than three years. I’ve had two apartments (one for one year, one for two), many friends — some good, and some bad with whom I’ve parted ways — and a whirlwind of experiences in between.

I leave this apartment behind next week, all in the name of love.

I never imagined that in less than 6 months after we first met in December, and had our first date at the MET, we’d be moving in together. But we are, and we picked up our keys today.

I’m not sure about a lot of things, and if history is any evidence, I’m wrong about almost everything, but I’m pretty certain in this case that things are different. His family is wonderful, his intentions are the best, and 97% of the time (save the 3% when he’s in former frat boy mode) I’m having the best of times.

He’s been my right-hand for a series of firsts: first time at the MET, first time in several states (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California), first time trying sole (and I liked it, kind of), first time in a Manhattan ER my own injury (I hurt my neck on the drive back from MA).

This post wasn’t supposed to be about love, but instead about moving. And maybe it still is, because I love New York, and moving within one of its boroughs  When I moved here, what I knew of apartment living came mostly from sit-coms like Friends, Mad About You, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, Will & Grace, etc. Unreasonably priced, unrealistically beautiful Manhattan apartments that were coveted.

The same is not entirely true for Queens. Some people have found places to covet, but others are drifters. From pre-war, to luxury low-rise, new things pop up that stir curiosity in long-time Astoria residents and newbies alike.

When I found this place, it seemed perfect. I was moving in with a friend and it seemed much more stable than where I had lived when I first moved. We’ve had our ups and downs here, but it hasn’t been half-bad.

I always thought my next move would mark the beginning of the chapter of me. A studio or a one bedroom of my own. But, fate changed, and I’m really excited for the next chapter, and a new corner of Astoria to explore and call home with the man that I love.

Spinach Smash a la Sandy

I started feeling real impacts from the storm around 7 pm — lights flickering, doors shaking from the wind. Lights still flicker, but at this point, I do have power and am actively online. Around 8, I decided I was hungry and that it was safe enough to cook. I made a delicious dish from my poorly chosen provisions — mostly perishables because I’m a damn fool! — and have named it Spinach Smash a la Sandy.

Simple, quick, and hearty — all you need is 2 cups of fresh spinach (baby spinach will do, but I used regular), 3 baby Yukon potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon smart balance, and a pinch of sea salt.

Start by boiling the potatoes for about 20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork or knife. While the potatoes are boiling, slice the cherry tomatoes in thirds, peel and mince the garlic. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, and spinach. Once potatoes are ready, add them directly to the vegetable mixture. Add Smart Balance. Use a smasher or a big fork and start mashing this mixture until the ingredients combine, the spinach wilts, and the Smart Balance melts.

Finally, finish with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Voila. Delicious, not so unhealthy, and hearty enough to help you through the storm.

Frankenstorm Frenzy

I’m from the midwest, a place where natural disasters are rare. Sure, we had tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but nothing super catastrophic — not in my day, anyways.

Since moving to New York, I’ve experienced — though I say this lightly because I didn’t actually feel anything — an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and now Hurricane Sandy is hours away from making a major impact on the greater New York City area.

For Hurricane Irene, I camped out for a couple days at my friends Jen and Patrick’s, about a mile from my apartment. I left a few hours before the storm was supposed to hit, wheeling a shopping cart full of three different pasta dishes, bottled water, hard cider, my computer and iPad. We spent the entire time eating — Jen makes a men blue-box macaroni and cheese — watching the weather channel (and flipping between No Reservations and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding), and drawing in coloring books. The storm didn’t have much of an impact besides some wind and rain in Astoria, but I felt comfortable to be amongst friends.

This year, reports trickled in on Friday that people should begin prep. By that time, my local drug store was out of flashlights, so I made my way to the grocery store to pick up shabbos candles and yarzheit candles. Baruch hashem!

I have plenty of food and bottled water, and as of this morning, a few bars and restaurants are still delivering within Queens. Winds are picking up, as is rain.

I’m thankful to have power at this point, and continue to charge my phone and my iPad just in case that changes. I’ll spend the rest of the day working, and have made provisions in case power is lost — my iPad is loaded with some games (Jeopardy, Crazy Taxi, and Monopoly!), I have a few Nora Ephron books on-hand, and if all else fails, I’ll use my gas stove to do some cooking.

Stay safe, and stay warm to all those on the East Coast. For up-to-date coverage on the storm, head to The Weather Channel site.

My general thoughts on being under glorified house arrest?

Courtesy of ReactionGifs.com

Table 4 Writers Foundation: Annual Writers’ Grants

Elaine Kaufman

Elaine Kaufman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re a New York City resident — 21 and older — and an aspiring writer, consider applying for a new grant announced this week by The Table 4 Writers Foundation. The Foundation was formed in honor of legendary restaurateur Elaine Kaufman.

The Foundation will give several grants of $2,000 (or gifts in kind of up to $2,000) to promising writers as part of an annual competition.

Grants will be announced at a gala to be held in February 2013, marking what would have been Kaufman’s 84th birthday. Kaufman, known for nurturing writers and other creative people, died in December 2010 after running the world-famous Elaine’s restaurant on the Upper East Side for more than 47 years.

“What we want to do is reach writers who are struggling in their careers,’’ said Jenine Lepera Izzi, the foundation’s chairwoman. “Maybe it takes the place of a few months of part time work,’’ she said. “Maybe it pays a portion of their rent.’’ The goal is to give the writers time to focus on their work, and possibly allow them to do a little networking through the foundation.

Rules and application forms for the grants, which will include both fiction and nonfiction writing, are available at www.table4.org.

All entries must be postmarked by Oct. 15, 2012.