Trigger-Warning Friday Night Thoughts

It’s Friday night, and I’m out for a walk because I have nothing better to do.

I see all of the couples and groups of friends headed out for happy-hour drinks; I’ve also passed by several bar windows where a solitary person drinks alone at the bar.

I am craving a celebratory, end-of-the-workweek drink, or five. The “five” part is why I’m on a break.

How is it that some hours pass by so slowly, but some weeks, months or even years fly by in a blink? I was out for a walk earlier this afternoon, and it seems like a lifetime ago. This afternoon I spent sedentary, working at my laptop while the sun went down in a spectacular fashion that I nearly missed. I ran up to the roof when I saw a red glow in the windows of the high-rises across the street and knew the sunset must be amazing. It seems like the hours in between my two walks were an entire week’s worth of time.

I gave a homeless man $10 tonight, but only because he had a dog sitting on his lap.

I’m entertaining thoughts of xxxxxxx and Xxxx but instead I corral my train of thought to the units of Botox I’ll be injecting into my forehad on Monday morning, and exactly how much that’s going to cost me. When did I become this person? When did I get this old?

I decided not to cross under the BQE and walk through Greenpoint tonight, as has been my go-to walking route for the last couple of months. I walked earlier today, and I don’t need to go that far. But then again, how am I going to pass the time once I’m back home?!

I would love to cook something extravagant, but my fiance won’t eat it all, and I am also on a diet: trying to lose the same 10 lbs I’ve lost and gained, and lost and gained, over and over again for the last eleven years of my life. The same ten pounds that determine whether I look skeletal or curvy, at my height.

My fiance keeps asking me what I want for my birthday next month: I want snow, and I want the thigh-gap that I had in Fall of 2018. Simple things, really – but two things he cannot possibly wrap up and hand to me come February 18th.

The warm weather fucks with my head much like the malfunctioning bathroom scale does. As a person who spends a lot of time living in my own head and imagination, it is hard to conjure up pleasant winter memories of the past or even future winter scenarios when it is a balmy Spring day in January. Global warming will destroy us all, and we deserve it. Humanity has been a scourge on this earth for the last couple of hundred years.

What am I going to do when I get home?! I have the energy to walk another 8 miles, but I’ve walked these same streets on a loop for the past 11 years, and I’m bored by the same sights and smells.

I’m bored with life sometimes. That is my problem. I honestly think this is why people have kids – boredom. I would be lying if I said I haven’t considered what life would be like with a child in my advanced age – having a kid. But there is no way in hell I am ever going to survive being pregnant for almost 10 months. I also don’t want my future child dying in a water war or nuclear holocaust or wide-spread famine. I also do all of the household work and emotional labor now, and can’t imagine having a kid on top of all of this work I already do. I’d be doing all of the child-rearing.

If I had one super power, it would be to eat whatever I want and never gain weight. Right now, I’d eat an entire, large Margarita pizza from Rome to Brooklyn. Those of you who doubt I could do so, clearly don’t know me. This is why I don’t have a thigh-gap right now.

I really, really want a cocktail. A cosmo would hit the spot, or that purple gin drink that they do at Citroen in Greenpoint. I’m jonesing…

At least I’m not tweaking.

I am really considering going to the liquor store. One drink. One, celebratory, end-of-the-workweek cocktail. Drugs have no calories though…

My mind is not normal.

These are the thoughts I entertain daily. How many calories are in a cosmo? Too many. Maybe a vodka seltzer would be a better option.

I am home now, listening to the Dandy Warhols and reliving ages 21-22. Funny how music brings you right back to where you were and who you were with when you heard it. What you were feeling… I love music. It is one thing I have always been and always will be passionate about.

Depeche Mode concert is in t-minus 4 months as of tomorrow. Must get skeletal.

I have a new record player and five new records. Maybe I can take up record shopping in used record stores as a hobby. I need a hobby that is healthy and not expensive though. All of my hobbies are expensive and/or not healthy; or they straight up bore me. Maybe I’m boring…

Isn’t that what they say? “If you’re bored it’s because you are boring”?

Orange Soup and More Boredom

Last weekend I visited a friend in Shelter Island; it was a brief but much needed 24-hours spent out of the city. We made an amazing dinner and had a very cold walk along the beach. If I was rich, I’d definitely buy in Shelter Island before buying in the Hamptons.

My friend is now out of the country for a few weeks so she gave me all of the veggies in her fridge to use up in her absence. Last night after my walk, I needed to cook, so I decided to make soup using all of the veggies I had, which all happened to be orange. I puréed the soup, and it turned out to be one of the best soups I’ve ever made – using a random mix of orange veggies. So here is the recipe for what I call “orange soup”. It’s also healthy and eats like a meal if you throw in some bread or croutons (I’ve also been on a focaccia making kick this week).

What I am calling “orange soup” – fucking excellent, if I do say so myself. For those of you on diets, it’s also healthy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots (chopped)
  • 2 orange bell peppers (chopped – make sure to strip seeds and white ribs)
  • 2 large stalks of celery (finely chopped)
  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled, and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 large Idaho (or white/yellow variety potato) (peeled and cut into cubes)
  • 1 box organic and free-range chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 TBS curry powder
  • 1 TBS turmeric
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika
  • 2 Tsp cumin
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar or honey
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup oat milk or dairy alternative of your choice
  • enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your large soup pot (1/4 cup?)
  • OPTIONAL (to serve): finely chopped spring onions and/or small dollop of sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

  • Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil and turn to low heat
  • Add in minced shallot and celery and saute on low heat for 4 min., stirring occasionally
  • Add in minced garlic and bay leaf, cook over low heat for another 2 minutes
  • Add in chopped peppers and cook over low heat for another 3 minutes
  • Add in entire box of stock, plus 1-1.5 cups water and turn heat to high
  • Add in curry powder, smoked paprika, and turmeric
  • once water is boiling, add in chopped carrots and potatoes and boil over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft (you can either test with a fork or sample one to make sure it’s soft)
  • Once all veggies are cooked through, remove bay leaf
  • Blend entire contents of pot in a blender over medium heat (you’ll likely have to blend 1/3 of the soup at a time, and add blended mix back into pot as you use a ladle to scoop out chunks to blend) ***It’s OK if the soup has some chunks – texture is good, mmm’kay, class?***
  • Once the soup is blended, continue to cook over medium-low heat and add in sugar, oat milk, salt/pepper, and pinch of cayenne
  • OBVIOUSLY you’ll want to taste your soup to see if it needs more of any ingredient
  • Once the soup tastes to your liking, remove from heat and serve in a bowl with finely chopped spring onions and/or a small dollop of sour cream
  • Enjoy 🙂

I love soup, but you all know this if you know me. I am a soup junkie; I could live on it. Maybe I would lose weight if I lived on soup…probably not though – that’s my luck.

Mushroom Barley

I made mushroom barely earlier this week. I fucking love the combo of sour cream and dill (must be the 1/4 Pole in me) so I topped it with that. I am also a sucker for any soup that contains loads of fiber, because I basically consume 1/2 a jumbo-sized pot at a time, and need to make sure I’m going to lose the weight the next day (if you know what I’m saying). Barley and lentils are my go-to ingredients for soup. I’ve been itching to make a seafood chowder or bisque, but unfortunately dairy substitutes don’t cut it for those (in my opinion). They are also high in fat and calories due to the butter-flour roux and heavy cream content. In a perfect world, I’d be eating a thick, seafood chowder every day. Now I am sitting her dreaming of crab corn chowder…

I feel slightly better than I have been feeling since I finally have some fresh hair. My roots and whites were coming in strong. My natural hair is basically dirty blonde at this point in my life. I don’t know how I went from a red-headed child to this, but I don’t like it. I finally squeezed in a couple of hours for my fiance to dye my hair (yes, he’s better than most of the hairdressers I’ve been to, and free LOL).

I’d also like to thank E-Salon, for nailing my color

My natural color at this point is the color of my eyebrows but with heavy white thrown in around the temples. Not a good look for me. Also, why the fuck are the white hairs a totally different texture than my other hairs? Like, they’re coarse and unruly… pubes coming out of my scalp. Sorry for that graphic image.

I really need someone to cook for. Maybe I should open a soup kitchen LOL.

The Most Depressing Time of Year

My aunt and uncle’s Victorian tree is always a highlight of the season

I am sitting here on the night of January 4th, sober, bored out of my mind, hungry and depressed. Why can’t the beauty and magic of the holiday season last until at least February? January is the dreariest month…. the festive decorations come down, there are no more get-togethers and family dinners to look forward to (although not all of these functions are ones you may necessarily look forward to…); no more copious amounts of freely-flowing booze and platters of cookies and cheese. No more classic Christmas tunes and holiday cheer, no more pretty lights, and seasonal bouquets and boughs of holly to brighten up the ordinary and everyday spaces we inhabit. The fact that today was 64 degrees in NYC does not help – it just hits home that climate change has fucked everything up and we will likely never have real winters again. Don’t get me started….

My tree, which was purchased at Home Depot despite the fact that I vowed to cut one down myself this year. Dead as disco upon arrival (it literally sucked up no water at all), and now just a straight-up fire hazard in my living room. I will take it down on Saturday; I can’t bear to part with it yet

I am going to try my hardest not to consume any alcohol until my birthday in February. It’s only been a few days without now and I am so fucking bored I am jonesing for a glass of wine right now (yes – being bored is an absolutely TERRIBLE reason to want to drink, which is why I needed a break). I also want to eat because I am bored. I don’t even think I’m really hungry right now… just fucking bored. I couldn’t go on my usual 2-hour walk tonight because of foul weather. I did start a new painting tonight, but it’s not bringing me the joy I anticipated it would; also, I needed the paint to dry before I could continue. Even my cats are bored. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing as a cat mom because I don’t get down on my hands and knees and play with them as much as I should. What I/they/we really need, is a house and a yard. This would surely keep all of us much more entertained and occupied.

I can’t even cook right now, which is my very favorite thing to do. My fiance is on a diet, the diet to end all diets. He’s not eating anything fun – no pasta, no carbs, no fatty sauces. How much time and effort does it take to make a salad or omelette, you know? Those take no time and effort. What I need are the challenging and time-consuming dishes. I can’t cook these meals I love to cook since he’s not eating them, and neither am I. His diet regime and fitness regime have put me into a very competitive place and now I am also determined to lose weight and get back on track. It’s all so boring… very, very boring. And the scale is fucking with me… I won’t go into details about my weight, but it just has to be wrong and it changes every time you step on it, even seconds apart. It’s whack. Also, I wear the same clothes as last year and they fit the same way they fit last year, and the scale is telling me I’ve gained 15 lbs since last year… this can’t be possible. I feel like I’m going crazy. I weighed myself on January first and almost needed to be committed due to the meltdown that ensued after weighing significantly more than I’ve weighed at any given point in the last ten years. A new scale arrived tonight, but it doesn’t work, so for now I have a cursed bathroom scale that clearly wants me to go mad. Maybe a frienemy I don’t know I have has done some voodoo spell and the possessed bathroom scale and my ensuing insanity is the result.

I had THE most boring NYE of my entire life this year. I stayed in, sad, lonely, depressed, and bored out of my mind. As usual, and for the 9th consecutive year that we’ve been together, my fiance had to work. I didn’t feel like going out and getting plastered or spending $300+ to get into a venue and buy party favors just so I could wake up hungover and poor on January 1st. Perhaps waking up hungover and poor would have been worth it though, because I sat home alone feeling sorry for myself. I was asleep before midnight, and my fiance came home from work at 3AM exhausted after a 15 hour shift and dealing with all sorts of drunken wrecks at his job. I don’t know how we used to go to after-hours at 7AM back in the day. I mean, at least back then they were actually worth the effort, the parties were way better and the party favors were way better. Everything today is a shell of its former self. Nothing has been good, fun or worth the expense since 2016.

Peeper checking out the snow

I spent the week leading up to Christmas at my parents’ house with my cats (naturally, my fiance was working; maybe some day, before we are geriatric, we can have a single, fucking holiday season together…). I love being home and I love my family, but I think 8 days with my parents/family was just a bit too much. I know that said I wouldn’t, but of course I did end up binge-eating the entire time I was home. I ate from 9AM until I went to bed at 10:30/11PM each night, and this is not an exaggeration. I’m thankful to be back in my apartment with no snacks available or cookies of boxes of chocolate.

We had a white Christmas upstate, which was amazing. You know me and my love of snow. I wish the entire duration of winter could be filled with snow storms and a white blanket covering the bare trees and ground; winter is so ugly without snow. It was freezing cold for several days running (11 degrees), but that didn’t stop me from getting out for a daily walk! The sunrise on Christmas Eve was beautiful – mornings at my parents are just like I remember them as a kid: pink skies in the morning, snow on the ground, deer and birds in the backyard every morning and evening… It’s pure magic and peace.

Christmas Eve sunrise
Check out my Instagram for more snow videos and wildlife videos
11 degrees on this day. I had wind-burned cheeks when I washed my face that night
Tuna, taking in that fresh winter air
Tuna was my bed-buddy each night, in absence of his father
Back in the city, depressed the holidays are over, fatter than ever (according to my scale), poor from buying Christmas gifts, and sober, so the pain of it all is very raw and real

I purchased a mini elliptical in early December, thinking it would help me achieve my fitness goals, but it made me gain muscle weight. My ass is like a horse’s ass right now. Like I can crack nuts when I clench my butt cheeks. Now, this is not me trying to brag, because if you know me at all, I am NOT into huge asses or boobs. That is not the body that I strive for or idolize like most of my female compatriots. I returned the machine to Target on New Year’s day, after the scale got me all sorts of fucked up in the head. When the cashier questioned why I needed to make the return, I told her straight up “I thought this machine would help me slim my butt and thighs, but I’ve gained muscle weight.” I’m sure her and her coworker talked shit after I left, but it’s true: not every woman wants a donkey-sized derriere! New Year’s day was my last day of drinking, since it was my day to celebrate the New Year with my fiance. We had a couple of drinks at Ludlow hotel (amazing and lovely, will definitely go back), and then we had dinner at St. Anslem. St. Anslem used to be great, but they switched chefs and it was a disappointment this time. I will just go to Quality Meats next time, which is what the original plan was that day, but then we decided we wanted to stay in Brooklyn. The prices at St. Anslem are the same as Quality Meats, and they don’t even have my favorite dish, steak tartare. What kind of self-proclaimed steak house doesn’t carry a staple like steak tartare?! The mushroom appetizer we had (because the one we wanted was sold out) was over-priced AF at $25 for 7 mushrooms. The mushrooms were gritty from being cooked on the grill and had no seasoning what so ever. They were tasteless. They also did not have any sort of steak sauce, but instead offered chimichurri… um, no thanks. The steak is now sold by the ounce there, and the giant T-bone in our steak was definitely the bulk of the weight. From now on, I am sticking with Quality Meats.

Ludlow Hotel has an awesome bar area and fireplace (albeit being gas and not real)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s off to a good start…

(Fake) Chicken and Dumplings & Emotional Derangement

*** This blog previously appeared unedited and under the influence of wine. It has since has been edited (whilst sober and in a better state of mind)***

PREFACE: The current state of the world has been wearing heavily on my mind and my emotional well-being for quite a while now (CLEARLY), but things really came to a head after several glasses of wine a couple of weeks ago. Naturally, I decided this was the PERFECT time to write and publish a blog here on The High Heeled Cuntessa (and to be totally unhinged in my IG stories). I woke up at 6AM the next morning and quickly un-published the blog and then deleted all of my psychotic IG stories, as I lay awake in a state of regret, mortification and hanxiety (“hanxiety” = hangover induced anxiety). I am such a mess (and not even a hot one) sometimes.

I have decided I need to not drink anymore. Alcohol does nothing for me, and it never has: it doesn’t make me thinner, it doesn’t make my skin glow, it doesn’t make me happier (maybe for a moment, but then I have hanxiety for the next several days), it definitely does NOT improve my relationships…it is literally the Devil’s drug. If it is a special occasion (ex. a holiday or birthday celebration), I will allow myself 3 drinks maximum, but only if I am with people I know I will be controlled around (i.e. my family). Anyhow, here is an updated version of my unhinged post, complete with full recipe, which I was too sloppy to write out before.

Because I have finally realized how annoying it is to scroll through a bunch of bullshit when you just want the recipe, here is my recipe for fake chicken and dumplings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil and/or butter
  • 1 bag of Morning Star Fake Chicken Nuggets
  • 2 Potatoes (Yellow or White), washed and cut into cubes (no need to peal)
  • 3 Stalks Celery, diced
  • 1/2 Small Onion, finely diced
  • 3 slender carrots (or 2 large ones), diced
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Better than Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 – 1.5 Cups Whole Milk or Dairy-milk alternative
  • Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS Fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE DUMPLINGS (because I’m too lazy to re-type):

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/6900/dumplings/

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Make dumpling batter and set aside
  • Microwave frozen Morning Star nuggets for 2 minutes and then roughly chop each nugget into quarters and set aside
  • Prep broth by heating 3-4 cups of water in pot or sauce pan and adding in 2 TBS of Better Than Chicken bouillon; set aside for future use
  • Heat oil (or butter) over low heat in large sauce pan and add in onions; cook until they start to become translucent
  • Add in celery, granulated garlic, and fresh herbs and cook another 3 minutes
  • Add in flower (and additional oil/butter, if necessary) and stir for about a minute over low heat or until all oil/grease is soaked up by flour
  • Increase heat to medium and add in broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly (you’ll likely only need about 2 – 2.5 Cups of broth + 1.5 cup milk)
  • Add in 1 – 1.5 cups milk, depending on desired level of thickness
  • Add in chopped carrots, potatoes, bay leaf and frozen veggies, and season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring to a low boil over medium heat and boil until carrots/potatoes are tender
  • Add in dumpling batter, 1 tsp. at a time (I suggest making only 8-10 dumplings and saving/freezing the rest of the batter)
  • Cook covered and over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until dumplings are done
  • Gently stir in Morning Star chicken pieces
  • Serve and enjoy!

[INSERT LONG-WINDED CATCHER IN THE RYE TYPE, NIHILISTIC RANT HERE ABOUT HOW THE WORLD IS FUCKED AND EVERYONE IS FAKE AND HOW I’M NEVER HAVING A KID] (that sums of the gist of my prior blog…)

Me, with Mac in Cancun: My emotional support TY Beanie Baby. For Mac content, please follow @macandthefunkybunch on TikTok

Halloween has come and gone (I dressed up for myself and stayed home), my cousin’s wedding has come and gone, and now Thanksgiving has come and gone. I am on the straight and narrow until after the New Year (sober, eating healthy, getting 8 hours of sleep per night). Work has been slow given the current state of the economy and I fear for the recession and job cuts that are inevitably going to happen next year. Oh well, it’s out of my control; I can only work on myself, and that is exactly what I intend to do. I want to take Italian lessons in the new year so I can finally have a basic conversation with my in-laws. That will be my present to myself when (and if…) I receive my holiday bonus. Watch me get a Jelly of the Month gift certificate instead…. if you know you know, and if you don’t, please go watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation NOW.

Axl Rose, Circa “Patience” Music Video for Halloween. I have a soft spot for Axl Rose.

Came close, but my nose isn’t small enough…

I wish I could fix this world, but I can only fix myself and do good where I can do good. I will not let this world bring me down (I can do that myself with the help of alcohol and low self-esteem LOL).

I will continue to donate what small sums of money I can afford to donate to cats/rescue organizations in need and buy Christmas presents for underprivileged children, since I have no children of my own. I guess not having a mortgage or kids of my own allows me the financial freedom to help others, however small/insignificant my contributions may be. It feels good to help others, especially when I feel like I can’t help myself 😀 I certainly cannot help the world.

Had the whole plunge-pool suite to myself… just me and Mac. How romantic….

Thanksgiving was great, minus my four-day binge. I lose all self-control when I am home. I am now back in Brooklyn and determined to be the best me I can be… which means no booze and no binges, also plenty of walking (which is increasingly difficult to do, now that it is dark by the time my work day ends).

Looking forward to milking the holiday season for all it is worth. I already did my Christmas cards, although I haven’t yet started my holiday shopping as I am awaiting my bonus (or Jelly of the Month Club certificate…) to determine my budget.

I wanted to get a tree while I was upstate this past weekend, but that didn’t happen since my fiance left the day after Thanksgiving for work and I had to ride back with my sister’s family. Hopefully we can go cut down a tree this Sunday… I’m not sure where, but I refuse to buy a trash tree from the trash Home Depot near me this year, which is what we did last year.

I hope everyone (all two of you who read this + my loyal bot followers in India) have a peaceful and safe holiday season. Cheers.

Lost in New York

Montalcino at night – such a beautiful little town. I never wanted to leave.

Vacation was beautiful and I never wanted it to end… but here I am, back in NYC. Back to work, back to everyday reality in a city I have outgrown. New York is a young person’s city, or a rich man’s city. It’s not a good place for a person like me at this time in my life. I feel empty and lost here. I have a good job, but it’s not what I want to be doing. The few things I liked about this city when I was 26 don’t exist anymore. The nightlife isn’t what it used to be, the parties aren’t what they used to be, the places aren’t what they used to be, and neither are the people. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to raise a kid here, unless of course they were rich… but even then….When I moved here at 24, I thought I needed to be here in order to achieve artistically, whether it was writing or painting or whatever. Clearly, the entire world is now connected through online media, remote work, and no one really needs to be in one place to do what they love or achieve what they want with their career (unless they’re an actor or a musician maybe… but even then…this just ain’t it, kid).

When I walk the streets, there are only remnants and relics of the past that I once enjoyed and for a short time loved. Now, I walk the streets and instead of daydreaming about a future or life in the city, all I daydream about is being somewhere else. I day dream about Europe, a slower lifestyle, a smaller and cleaner city or even a small town in the countryside or mountains. I daydream about a relaxed pace of life, dinners with family and friends, clean air, a house with a view. This city has made me tired and sad.

Tonight I walked past a couple of baby/children’s boutiques with adorable winter sweaters and high-quality stuffed animals on display in the windows. It hit me that I am never going to have a kid. When I was in my 20s, I thought for sure one day I would have a kid, but now that I’m 34, I’ve realized it’s just not happening. I don’t feel sad about it; it’s my decision, after all. It’s just weird to walk around the neighborhood where I spent so many days walking around and hanging out with my then-infant niece and my sister, who was three years younger than I am present-day, back in 2012. My how the times have changed in these past ten years. How the city has changed; the world has changed. Not for the better.

I grow more jaded and cynical each and every day I am forced to live in this city. Maybe I would have had a kid if I’d been married by 30, and before the current state of world took a turn for the worst. Now I realize that to have a kid would be more selfish than NOT to. It just seems unfair that the world made my decision for me. If there wasn’t a war happening, daily threats of nuclear holocaust, and another climate catastrophe every day, perhaps I would have been happy to have a kid.

Happiest when we aren’t in NYC or working

I am engaged now… finally, after 9 years as a couple. I likely won’t be married for another 2 years. I am in no rush – I mean I waited this long, didn’t I?! My family certainly seems to be in a rush; they keep expecting that I will have the wedding next summer (which is only 10 months from now). Not happening, sorry. Although, perhaps I should have it next year, because because who knows how things will be two years from now (given the current political climate, war, nuclear threats, global warming, and advancing age of all of our parents). Maybe this world won’t even exist next year….

Beautiful Venice…my second “home” (I guess I can say that now…). I love this city and would be happy to live here. Maybe some day soon…
My beautiful ring… designed by my boyfriend with artist/jeweler/genius William Llewellyn Griffiths (metalcouture.com); the ring is modeled after the Palazzo Ducale in Venice… I guess it was worth the nine year wait….

I am lucky that I live where I do, as opposed to so many other places where life would be much worse off right now. This world is falling apart … I try to enjoy every day now, for what it is. I try to enjoy every day that I have to work, once I have some free time to myself and the work is done. I try to enjoy every weekend day I spend alone, even though my boyfriend is working – there are pleasures to be found in being alone. You never know what each new day may bring, whether that something is good or bad. So it is best to just enjoy each day as it is, even if it is not ideal. If these last few years have taught me anything, it is to appreciate the little things in life and the (hopefully good) people that you have in your life.

I could go on and on about vacation. I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate that I was able to take such a great vacation. I feel fortunate to have the boyfriend I have, the family and friends I have, and the in-laws I have. I am lucky to have all that I have in this life, even though I bust my ass for most of what I have… I am fortunate that things have somehow come together over the last five or so years to get me to the point that I am at today (not that most days aren’t still a struggle, but at least I’m not contemplating suicide as I do three nights of floor-set at Hollister every month and wonder how I am going to afford a dinner out for someone else’s birthday).

Instead of going into depth writing about my vacation, I’m just going to post a shit ton of photos that sum it up. We started in Venice, traveled to Tuscany with his parents for a week, hit up multiple wineries and medieval towns while we were there (Siena, Montalcino (the town closest to our lodging), Montepulciano, Pienza, etc.). My in-laws went back to Venice when we departed Tuscany, but we made several stops: Modena to see not one but TWO Ferrari museums, a night and a day in Milano (more on that later), and then we spent a night in Lake Como because we just weren’t ready to go back to Venice yet. It was all so fucking amazing, words cannot describe.

San Marco… never gets old
I decided to wear my Aniye By Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen” on the worst-timed day possible. Later that day there was news the queen was ill and family was flying in, by that night she had passed away.
view outside of our suite
The sun setting
View from Capanna wineries: Montalcino is the little village up on the hill
Capanna winery was across the road and up the hill from where Capanna Suites is located. The terrain in this part of Tuscany (only 25 minutes from Siena) is so much drier than the region (Chianti) where we stayed last year, which is about 20 miles from Florence… it’s crazy how much the terrain and scenery changes in Italy!
Montalcino at night: so quiet and peaceful
A winery that was part of a castle – just up the road from Capanna Suites where we were staying.
View from the upstairs of the castle where we did a wine tasting
Piazza del Campo in Siena
View from Agriturismo il Colle (aka Giovanni’s) where the proposal happened 🙂 This is in Chianti region and where we stayed last year – hence Giovanni’s willingness to help stage the perfect proposal. It was a dream…
View from the amazing Enoteca in the medieval village of Montepulciano… I’ve never seen anything like it (the enoteca, that is), although many friends said they had something similar in Chicago, South Beach, even Utah… LOL. Here is the website so you can see what I’m talking about: Enoliteca Consorzio Vino Nobile
Another stunning view from Montepulciano… the views were just!!!!!!
One of my favorite cars in the Modena Enzo Ferarri museum… anyone want to buy for my next Christmas present? Along with lessons to drive stick-shift? :p
Duomo di Milano
Ancient arches in Milano – this area gets wild at night with everyone drinking at local bars and hanging out here

I wasn’t a fan of Milan – even though we were only there for 24 hours. The hotel we stayed in was cool – very modern with lots of fun art pieces and installations. It was also super close to the city center, which came in handy for me, since I spent a day alone wandering around Milan, while Christian got a tattoo by a famous Italian tattoo artist he was able to book last minute (don’t ask – I already had my ring at this point, so if it made him happy… whatever). I did 9 miles by myself that day, and realized that I could never live in Milan. The city is a mix of very old and very modern structures – it is almost similar to NYC in that sense, but obviously much cleaner and prettier. All of the women are emaciated (and I am not lying). Most of the women also seemed to be under the age of 30… I saw mainly students and young people while I walked around that day. But, of all the women I did see, old, young, middle-age… they all had some serious eating disorders. Like, most of them looked like they needed to be in the hospital… and I am NOT exaggerating. I felt like such a cow next to these women…. and I am not a big person. I don’t think I saw a single woman/girl who weighed over 95 lbs. I get that it is the fashion capital of the world, but holy fuck. My ego took quite a blow that day, and I couldn’t really enjoy food for the rest of the trip… I’ve never felt so fat in all my life as I did walking around Milan that day. I was really happy we decided against spending a second night in Milan and decided to drive to Lake Como, since it is only about 1.5 hours from Milan, and Christian had never even been, despite having lived in Milan for several years! It was worth it:

View from the restaurant where we had dinner
The little hotel we found on Lake Como was a fraction of what we would pay even for one night at an Airbnb in the Catskills, and right on the lake! The restaurants were all within walking distance, and the hotel and pool were so pretty… too bad we didn’t have time for a swim

Before we ended up in Milan and then Lake Como, we had briefly entertained the idea of spending the last few days of our vacation in Greece. It just didn’t make sense to waste another day spent traveling or buying plane tickets just to spend 48 hours or less in Greece, when our time with Christian’s parents and friends in Venice is already so limited each time we are there. We decided to just go back to Venice so that we could enjoy the rest of our vacation and see his friends and spend more time with his parents. We made it out to Lido not once, but twice this time… both nights were a lot of fun… maybe too much fun. Thank God Lido now has electronic rental bikes, because when we were ready to leave each night, there were no Ubers to be had and we needed to get back across the Island to catch the ferry back to Venice proper.

Pic taken on the ferry to Lido one night
Pic taken on the ferry to Lido the second time we made the journey out – which happened to be the last night of the annual Venice Film Festival
View of the beach from the back of Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort
On our way back through Venice after Lido one night, I snapped this pic of the moon
I got an official Venetian resident ferry card (that I paid a small fortune for), so I can now take the Gondolas and ferry at reduced, local rates…I feel so cool haha
I love seagulls
Leo di Venezia: the city’s symbol is everywhere
Night time in Piazza di San Marco
I wish I could see this more often

I could post a million more pictures and tell a million more stories. I wish I never had to come home… apart for being reunited with my babies (my cats) and seeing my own family. I hope that some day very soon we can live in Italy or France… or somewhere else close by, where life doesn’t move at the pace of NYC and every moment doesn’t pass by in a blink of the eye the way life does here in New York.

I’ll leave you with the food highlights from the trip (since that is what this blog was/is supposed to be about):

Raw appetizer plate I had the last night of vacation in Venice
Venetian cicheti (cicchetti): there is nothing else quite like it… it’s literally my favorite thing to eat/do in Venice (drink $4 glasses of wine and hit up all the best cicheti spots)
Some awesome oysters we had at Bancogiro
Seppioline (cuttlefish) on baked polenta, a stuffed artichoke heart and various polpette (fried meatballs)… this is cicheti from one of our favorite spots: Sepa
Duck breast from a restaurant in Montalcino where we ate our last night in town… it was divine
Romantic pizza dinner right on the water from our night in Lake Como
I had so much steak tartare while in Tuscany – it’s one of the region’s signature dishes and happens to be one of my very favorites. Yes: I ate all the meat in Tuscany… no restrictions. This particular one wasn’t even my favorite or the best, but it did win prettiest plating haha
One of the dishes I really need to recreate: a tartino. This one was made with spinach and Gorgonzola dolce. It’s basically a mini souffle! So fucking delicious! I’ll be sure to post a recipe, if and when I make this
It took an hour and a half to find a parking spot in the medieval town of Pienza (also in Tuscany region) on the Sunday afternoon that we visited as a family. It was worth it in the end. The town is famous for Pecorino cheese. The cheese was everywhere! Needless to say, we were in heaven
A shop in Pienza where we bought half the inventory (JK). Seriously though, we did mail ourselves several wheels of cheese and dried sausages in addition to two or three cases of wine… hey, we needed something to live for once we arrived back in dismal NYC… can you blame us??

Now that I am back in NYC and inspired by the skeletal women I saw in Milan, I am trying to get back on the straight and narrow (i.e. no meat, save for special occasions, minimal wine consumption (sure, Jan…), and healthier eating in general). Wish me luck! Venice is great since the cuisine is primarily seafood, but boy did I go to town on meat in Tuscany: you have to… it’s the Tuscan way (when in Rome, do as the Romans do, am I right?!). Anyhow. We are still waiting for a case of wine we bought at the castle winery to arrive. This is what motivates me. I’m not sure where we are going to store it in our 1-bedroom apartment, but I’ll find a way.

The beautiful infinity pool at Capanna Suites in Tuscany… we didn’t go in once. WTF is wrong with us? Every time it was mega hot we were away from the hotel, and when we did want to take a dip, it was overcast and started raining… go figure. Glad I worried about how I looked in a bikini and bought two new ones just for the trip…
Naturally, since cats always find me and I always find them, there were two farm cats that hung out on the premises of Capanna Suites… I brought them steak from Siena and doled it out each night, along with water in wine glasses on our patio for them to enjoy

Countdown to Italy: Linguine al Nero di Seppia

Sitting here in my apartment on yet another 98 degree day, waiting until the sun goes down and work is over so I can get out for walk. I had an entire entry written, including a recipe and all, but my 2015 piece of shit Chromebook refused to let me publish it when I tried hitting “Publish,” and then also deleted the entire entry, even though I had repeatedly saved it as I worked on it. So here I am, retyping it all… convinced the first version was the best and this won’t be as good as what I originally composed, since I am now angry and hurried. I make more money than I used to, and still can’t seem to justify buying a new $1,500 MacBook. So, I will continue to use this ChromeBook, a relic of 2015, a piece of technology that does me dirty every time I use it.

I am on a mission to lose 10 lbs. over the next five weeks, prior to my vacation. I WILL WEAR SHORTS and I WILL WEAR SUNDRESSES like a normal human – like a normal, average American woman – if it is the last thing I do. I am tired of hiding my lower body in black jeans on hot summer days, and I am taking action and holding myself personally accountable. I will reduce the size of my legs, and I will wear shorts with confidence.

I choose to focus on this seemingly attainable goal, since I am unable to control the political climate of this country, global warming, all of the helpless, homeless and sick animals I see on the streets of my neighborhood, and the out-of-control shootings and stabbings that happen daily here in NYC and also throughout the nation. I can only control myself. And so, I help sick animals when I see them, try not to buy single-use plastics, recycle, and try my hardest not to eat meat, which is easy to do here, but impossible to do when I visit my parents upstate, and now, I will try to lose 10 lbs. I can’t control the war raging in Ukraine, I cannot control the crimes committed in Myanmar by the national army (which I made the mistake of reading about yesterday), but by God I can call for help if I see a sick cat suffering on the street, and I can control the circumference of these thighs.

My neighborhood is trash… literally. Covered in trash and the people are trash. They get pets they don’t spay/neuter and then kick them to the curb when they get pregnant or, in the case of a male cat, start spraying. I wish I could abuse people the way they abuse animals. The sidewalks are a mean place around these parts, and the summer heat makes the psychos that walk these streets even more psychotic. I worry that I will die at the hands of a psycho due to gun violence or stabbing before I have the chance to get out of this God forsaken city. It is a legitimate fear. My fear of climate change that I cannot control is a daily undercurrent to all of my other activities and thoughts. Even when I am working or busy these days, I cannot stop thinking about how fucked the future of this planet is. There is nothing I can do though, apart from hold myself accountable for my own actions. I cannot control the people I encounter on the street though – and there are more crazies than ever before.

I want to leave this country, but mostly, I want to leave this city forever. I fantasize about going to Italy and not returning. Maybe we can buy a small property in Tuscany, and I can work remotely from another time-zone. Who has to know? Better yet, I would quit my job and just work on restoring the property and promoting it as a retreat and establishing a small farm-to-table restaurant. I can’t stay here any longer. Me and NYC are done. It has nothing left to offer me.

I wrote a recipe in my last entry that was deleted before I could publish, and now, I am too lazy to re-write it. Sorry. Here is a picture of the ingredients that I bought at Eataly though, and also a picture of my finished pasta dish:

It’s impossible to find/buy cuttlefish in this country, so rock shrimp had to do
lingue al nero di seppia (linguine with cuttlefish ink)

You can use your imagination and the picture of my ingredients above as a reference point if you want to make something similar.

I felt good about myself for .2 seconds after sweating out 2 lbs. in water weight during my 2.5 mile walk the other night.
I wish I had the confidence to actually wear shorts out of my house… I don’t like the sexual leering from men. I know I have thick legs and an ample ass…. but I don’t like people staring at it.

Five weeks until Italy. Wish me luck.

Countdown to Vacation and the Perfect Summer Snack

Country roads, take me home… I love the road that runs parallel to my dad’s land in West Bainbridge. It’s quiet, there are always tons of wild flowers, and the flowers and fields smell heavenly

The world is still on fire (literally and figuratively) and I’m counting down the days until vacation when I can mentally step away from it all for a couple of weeks (yes, I realize I am privileged to be in a position to do so). I don’t think anyone reads this blog anymore, apart from the weird Keto/fitness bots that are always giving me likes. Shout-out to all of the Keto-diet bots and other fitness themed bots out there: cheers guys!

As if war raging on in Ukraine, global warming, climate catastrophes, global inflation, impending recession, wide-spread famine, and general political discord weren’t enough, Roe v. Wade was overturned and now the U.S. government apparently doesn’t “have the power” to phase out coal. We are truly fucked as a planet and a society…. I’d say there are maybe three years left (and that’s a generous estimate) before society collapses and the world implodes. That’s why, I am looking forward to this vacation.

Work was insane the last couple of weeks – a 50 hour work week followed by 55 hours. I barely left my house, got no exercise, no fresh air, and was teetering on the verge of insanity (when am I not though….). Thankfully, I went upstate to my parents’ house for the weekend to celebrate my niece’s 10th birthday with family. I was able to get out for a decent walk each day that I was home, although I negated the exercise with all of the food I consumed.

I felt guilty leaving my cats behind in the city though while I frolicked in nature and breathed fresh air. The cats love being at my parents’ house with more space to galavant around, fresh air and lots of wildlife to watch. It was also hot AF all weekend, and our AC units shut off after about 2 hours of blowing cold air. My boyfriend was also working 13 hour days, so my poor cats didn’t eat dinner until 1:30 AM each night after being alone in the hot apartment all damn day. I feel like a bad cat mom when they’re alone for such a long stretch…. I don’t know how some people leave their cats for days at a time.

I feel like I’ve been upstate every other weekend these last few months – my mom’s birthday, mother’s day, my brother’s 30th, father’s day, my niece’s birthday party… I’m not complaining. Being home beats spending money I shouldn’t spend to stay in this disgusting city and go out drinking. I am trying to be better at saving money, and it’s easier to do when I am not in the city on the weekend.

Peeper enjoying some fresh air over Father’s Day weekend. I can’t believe we are already a week into July now!

My boyfriend and I just celebrated our 9th anniversary. It is crazy to think we have been together for nine years, even though it also seems like our first date was just last year. I was a fun, wild, 25-year old with a crappy job, creative aspirations, and probably in the best shape of my life (apart from Fall 2018, when I was in the best shape of my life). Now, I am a 34-year old seasoned veteran, with a corporate job that allows me to actually pay my bills and have extra spending money, still creative and a lot less crazy than I was at 25, and my greatest aspirations today are moving out of this fucking city and buying property in Europe (a small farm where we can have a B&B and little restaurant…. that is THE DREAM).

We celebrated 9 years by doing a sunset sail around New York Harbor, just as we did on our first date. It rained a bit around Ellis Island/Governor’s Island, but it wasn’t anything that some wine and cheap ponchos couldn’t fix! The sailboat ride was lovely – if only tickets weren’t so pricey, I would do it every couple of weeks.

After the rain: this is a nice shot of Jersey City
I have a love-hate relationship with NYC these days; mostly hate. But, there is something to be said for that skyline
A couple of weeks ago at Elsie rooftop – I was dragged to a three hour meeting and then we had to stop by Elsie on his “day off”….at least the free drinks and sunset made up for it

My hair is almost back to an acceptable shade of strawberry-blonde, although the ends remain much lighter as a result of the bleach. I’ve also been experiencing on-going breakage due to bleach damage, and everyone keeps asking me if I’ve cut my hair. All I ever wanted was a flowing mane of hair, half-way down my back, and at this rate, that sort of length seems like a fever-dream…

Obligatory hair update: I was having a good hair day and a good skin day – a rare combination

My boyfriend finally cleaned the balcony off this past weekend, while I was at my parents’. It is too late in the season to plant, which saddens me greatly because it was so nice to have fresh tomatoes, peppers, and a spattering of cucumbers and eggplants these last couple of years. My plan now, is to go to a plant nursery this Sunday, and buy herbs and flowers to pretty up the balcony. I am obsessed with lavender at the moment, and want to pot some. The cats loved chilling on the balcony these last two summers, when the plants were in full bloom, and the views of the street were obstructed by the vegetation. Hopefully, they can enjoy the balcony in a couple of weeks after I get some plants potted.

Tuna had an unfortunate incident on the leash when the neighbor’s dog started barking and he ran for his life and almost had a heart attack. Now, he prefers taking in the fresh air from the safety of the window… poor guy.
My goal in life is to have a house/yard/property for not only myself and my boyfriend to enjoy, but also for our cats. Peeper would never come inside if it were up to him….

I know I haven’t included a recipe on here in a while. Unfortunately, when I have a crazy work week or I am upstate for the weekend, I don’t make the elaborate meals I like to do when I have time on my hands. Now that summer is in full swing, there are lots of parties, picnics and celebrations to attend. No one wants to have to turn on the oven or stand over a stove-top for hours at a clip when it’s 90 degrees outside, so the below is the perfect recipe for a Summer get-together!

SMOKED TROUT CICCHETTI:

So easy, and so damn good…. I could eat half a platter

INGREDIENTS (the hardest part of this recipe will be procuring the ingredients if you live in a rural area):

  • 1 lb. of smoked trout
  • 1 container (half pint) of crème fraîche
  • Good quality mustard
  • fresh dill (rinsed and dried)
  • 1-2 fresh baguettes

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Cut the baguette(s) into thin rounds; toast in the oven at 375 degrees for 5 minutes if you prefer toasted
  • Smear mustard over-top of all of the baguette rounds
  • Top with general chunk of smoked trout
  • Top all with a teaspoon size dollop of crème fraîche, and garnish with a frond of fresh dill

ENJOY! These were a party favorite when I brought them to two different BBQs over Memorial Day weekend. I picked up the trout at the Scandinavian cured fish counter at Essex Market. Some large grocery stores carry smoked trout, but not all. I keep meaning to stop by Essex Market next time I plan to go upstate to pick up more smoked trout – my family loved it…. as do I…. and so do my cats.

Thank you, Tuna

Speaking of cats, I haven’t had an uninterrupted night of sleep in years. Tuna’s newest thing is waking me up at 4 AM for food…. it is literally impossible to ignore him. I also can’t shut him out of the bedroom or he will still wake me up by scratching at the door. It’s futile. I just get up and feed him so I can go back to sleep for a few more hours. I’ve tried giving him a snack right before I go to bed, but nothing has worked. One night, I was knocked out after taking NyQuil, and he actually scratched my back for so long that he left marks. He must have been going at it for upwards of two hours while I was basically comatose.

Since the world is inevitably on its way out, I have been shopping and treating myself to new shit far more than I know I should. After all, another recession is coming and I could lose my job at any time as a result…I should really be more careful with my consumption and spending habits. I am just so incredibly excited for Italy and Greece that I am stocking up on clothes to wear on vacation. Vacation is so close I can taste it, and I am savoring these few weeks bin the run-up to the actual travel. I am trying to buy less impractical mini dresses and crop tops in my advanced age, and more sensible sundresses and tops that are family appropriate.

That being said, here is my favorite $12 Forever 21 romper, that is not family-friendly (yes, I know I previously swore off fast fashion, but I couldn’t help myself)
Felt good about myself this day…. haven’t felt good about myself since, and this was now like a month and a half ago.

I need to start prioritizing my health at all costs. I haven’t been feeling very good about my body lately. I always thought it was bullshit when people in their thirties and forties used getting older and a slowed-down metabolism as an excuse for gaining weight, but I am finding out now that it’s real. I used to be able to eat one meal a day for a week and drop 8 lbs. Now, I fast for a day and gain 5 lbs. I honestly need to stop eating late at night, drinking alcohol, and pushing myself to get out for a walk even on a 15-hour work day (yes, I had one of those last week… not OK). I am the youngest I will ever be, and there is a lot of untapped potential in my current body. I want to tap into this potential now, so I can rock the string-bikinis I bought on sale from Calzedonia with confidence on my vacation…. I better get cracking. Time is not on my side and all of these weekends spent upstate recently have not been kind to my thighs.

The World is on Fire and She’s Fixing her Hair

Does everyone else realize this world is doomed and the end is near? I think some people are blissfully oblivious to the severity of humanity’s current situation. I know it’s a pessimistic outlook and a morbid one, but between the war Russia has waged against Ukraine, the grim realization that Putin is unhinged enough to use nuclear weapons, and the ever growing threat of global warming wiping out the entire living world, the future of earth and life on it is not looking promising…

You can only go to so many protests and donate so much money (especially in my income bracket), and none of seems to make a difference. I have so much pent of anger and aggression I wish I could take a leave of absence from work and go fight or volunteer on the front line

I wish there was more I could do to help. I wish I didn’t need to work in order to afford rent, pay bills and feed myself. If I was independently wealthy or had enough money in the bank for the future, I would devote my life to rescuing animals or working for a non-profit that helps refugees. The sad reality is, I need a job that pays money to afford my life. Although I’m over everything… living in this city, working at a law firm, paying bills and still just somehow getting by despite working non stop. I don’t think I’d mind working so much if I was benefiting some cause or helping people…. instead, I help the rich get richer as I continue slaving away at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. I’m not complaining – I’m grateful my country is not at war and I have a secure home and food on the table. But it seems so pointless most of the time…. working to pay rent and bills…. not helping any specific cause or the world around me as it crumbles day by day. I can’t do this forever… but I am so over working for other people and corporations. I want to work for myself but I’m not sure how to start without going into debt… and that is scary when you have no money.

Every since the pandemic started in 2020, I’ve seen an array of people selling their artwork and somehow making a profit. No offense to anyone – but some of this art work is nothing I’d ever consider “good” or anything I’d would think would ever sell for more than $50 (SIDE NOTE: art is totally subjective and in the eye of the beholder, like beauty – so my opinion counts for very little). Anyhow, it made me realize that perhaps I can also sell my art… why not? There’s a market out there for everything, CLEARLY. If you or anyone you know is looking for a grunge, “colorful” portrait of a woman, please feel free to contact me here or on IG. I’ve also listed my work on Saatchiart.com.

GRUNGE GIRLS: The Collection

* This one is my newest piece and is not finished*
I started this one in 2020 and sadly also have not yet finished
The one big snow we had in NYC this year: perfect opportunity to wear my ski suit and earmuffs

It’s been five months since I went off the deep end and decided to bleach my hair. I regretted it immediately, but after a few washes, the blonde looked OK for a couple of months. by Mid-February, I was over it. Blonde just is not my color or my personality… at all. I desperately want[ed] to return to red/stawberry-blonde, so I made an appointment with my hair dresser upstate, so I wouldn’t have to fork over a month’s rent to dye my hair again. Who knew that you couldn’t go from bleached blonde to red in one process/sitting?! I sure as hell didn’t. My hair dresser had to let me down when she told me I would risk my hair turning pink or orange if she tried to go from bleached to red in one day. I was devastated when I realized I will basically be a brunette until I can go see her again to complete the process. I mean, the brunette is actually a refreshing change from the blonde, but my hair has never been this dark, and it gives me kind of an emo vibe with my fair skin. I’m counting down the days until I see her again at the end of April. In the meantime, I am jealous of every redhead I see on the street….

I read so many books since the pandemic started in 2020 – more in one year (2020) since I’ve read altogether since college. I’m glad that I rediscovered my love of reading and books and have continued to buy/read more books since the first lockdown. In the last two weeks, I read “Not Dead and Not for Sale,” Scott Weiland’s memoir, and then, because I enjoyed that so much, felt compelled to buy and read his ex-wife, Mary Forsberg’s memoir “Fall to Pieces.” I must say, her memoir, which was published two years before he wrote his, was way more interesting and also better-written (she had a co-author/writer, whereas I am quite sure Scott Weiland did not). I literally did not put the book down and finished it in two days, even though I worked both days. I spent every free minute and both evenings reading it – I was sad when it was over. I love books like that – when someone tells a story in first-person and you feel like you are there/have been there with them. I love when people are honest and relatable. I need to find more books like this.

The only other books that I have enjoyed so much recently are of a similar nature. I really loved “My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell. I plowed through that in the first few days of quarantine in March 2020. Then I also plowed through “How to Murder Your Life”, by Cat Marnell a month later. I also loved “Meet me in the Bathroom,” by Lizzy Goodman, about the late 90s/early 2000s indie/rock scene in NYC. Like I couldn’t get enough – first hand accounts, places I remember, bands I loved, sex, drugs, rock and roll. It really makes for great reading. If anyone has any suggestions, please drop a comment or reach out via IG. I am desperately seeking a new book that I can’t put down.

Curried Lentil Soup, Rescuing Cats, and Self-Improvement (or Sabotage?)

First and foremost, throwing this out here (more on my latest rescue mission below):

PLEASE HELP WITH THE RESCUE AND VETTING OF THE VARET ST. CATS!!!

For the first time in a long time, there is an actual recipe featured on this blog (scroll down, if you don’t believe me). I love cooking and I love writing as two separate pastimes, but writing down the recipes from my head is frankly, rather tedious and time-consuming, and I find no pleasure in it. I wish I had someone to take notes as I cook and then translate the process into instructions and a list of measured out ingredients (I don’t use measuring tools when I cook, and this is why I hate baking – precise measuring is required).

Christmas has now come and gone (how many other blogs have I started with these exact words?), and it’s almost February – one of my favorite months of the year. Christmas this year was pretty great for me – I was able to work from home the entire week between my nephew’s birthday on the 19th, right up until a couple of days after Christmas when I decided to curtail my binge eating and head back to the city (I ate non-stop for an entire week while I was at my parents’ house… and you could certainly tell). We had snow before Christmas, and after Christmas while I was upstate, but not ON Christmas, unfortunately. Christmas day was about 53 degrees and rainy (thanks, global warming!). I took both cats out for a stroll on their leash in my parents’ backyard to test out the snow – Peeper loved it and didn’t want to come back inside (despite the fact that it was cold and windy), and poor Tuna hated it.

Peeper enjoying the snow on Christmas Eve – I can’t wait to have a house and backyard some day so he can ejoy the pleasures of nature and the great outdoors more often

Christmas Eve dinner took place at my sister’s house. I made a delicious cocktail with a limited edition Hendrick’s gin, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and fresh thyme. After we came back from dinner, I helped my mom finish up some gingerbread man cookies and chilled. I did a whole lot of chilling for a week, which was exactly what I needed (maybe, without the sedentary days and non-stop potato chip consumption). I truly love being home – although maybe not for periods of longer than four days. Despite hating life in the city, I was itching to go home after a full week under my parents’ roof (no offense to my parents).

Christmas Eve cocktails: Hendrick’s Lunar gin, fresh lime, pomegranate juice, seltzer, maple syrup and a sprig of fresh thyme

I feel like every time I write a blog here I extol the virtues of being surrounded by nature and quiet, but if you are living in a major city and haven’t left your urban metropolis recently, I encourage you to do so. Especially if you’re stressed or suffering anxiety (or anger issues, like I do from time to time) – getting out of the madness of the urban jungle and listening to the sounds of birds chirping and silence at night is what we all need for a hard reset sometimes. Find the cheapest hotel or Airbnb you can and just spend minimal time there; take advantage of your family or friend’s offer to let you stay with them if that is an option. Even if it isn’t the “nicest” or “coolest” small town (lord knows my hometown in Chenango county certainly is no Woodstock or Hudson), getting out of the city is better than not getting out at all. I am hoping to go home next month, maybe after my birthday. I also think I’d like to go to a salon while I’m home and go back to red hair without paying a fortune in order to do so (I am so over being this blonde – it just isn’t me).

Mornings at my parents’ house

I am thankful that I spent as much time at home as I did this year. Usually, work and the combination of my boyfriend’s work schedule mean that I am never home for more than three days and do not get to see all of the family I hope to see while I am home.

My aunt and uncle’s Victorian style tree – always my favorite

My plan was to return to the city so that I could celebrate NYE here properly, since everything was cancelled last year. However, my plans were once again foiled. My boyfriend, who assured me he would be out by 12:30AM at the latest, did not get home from work until 3AM. Naturally, I was passed out on the couch, and he was exhausted from having worked a 15 hour shift. It sucks since we bought tickets to a party that only went on until 5AM. We decided to go out the next night, but that also turned out to be a dud. It was pouring rain, and the party we decided to check out at The Good Room in Greenpoint, turned out to be a gay party. We stayed 20 minutes before peacing out and going back home. Nothing against the gays, but it’s not really fun to be at a gay party unless you’re a gay man looking to get laid.

Before wasting more money on party tickets for another party we wouldn’t stay at, we had dinner at Maison Premiere. That was the highlight of the weekend for me. They reopened a few months ago, having been closed for all of 2020 and most of 2021, and I was so happy to be back for the first time since February 2020 – it is one of my favorite Williamsburg staples. The atmosphere, small plates, and cocktails are the best (although the prices are not).

We sat at the bar – super cozy, although the service sucked on this particular night. I’m pretty sure the bartender/our waiter was drunk on the clock. I mean, I don’t care and I don’t blame him. Who TF wants to work the day of New Year’s Day? At least of the food was great!

The food was just as great as it has always been. I had the steak tartare (It’s my weakness and uncannily enough, my favorite food ever, despite my best efforts to NOT eat meat….). We also had oysters, mussels, and the cod toast (another favorite). This place is such a gem – I am so happy they’re back in business! Would definitely not recommend if you’re on a tight budget and very hungry though… there are much better paces to go if you’re ravenous or want to get lit (cocktails are too expensive to get lit here).

I try not to eat meat and usually succeed. The only exceptions: steak tartare is on the menu or I am at my parents’ house for more than 3 days…..

I am honestly kind of relieved that our NYE and NYD were so low-key. Every time I party now, I basically need a whole 48 hours to recover. Partying honestly isn’t as fun as it used to be – the prices they charge for tickets these days should honestly include a gram of the drug of your choice, since they are so fucking steep. I also think I have an allergy to alcohol. If I have more than two glasses of wine, I wake up looking like Charlize Theron as Aileen Wournos in Monster. I digress ….

My aunt and uncle gifted us a certificate for a shop in Greene, NY, that I had never heard of: Hymn & Hawe. I was expecting a gift store or some sort of country store akin to the Masonville general store (which I love), but my expectations were far surpassed upon entering the store. Not everything was necessarily my style, but they had a lot of very nice furniture at what seemed like very reasonable prices. They also had a really nice selection of art from estate sales, and we ended up buying both a print-on-canvas, and also a small painting of Venice! I definitely am looking forward to going back to this store, and highly recommend to anyone living in the area.

Snapped one final picture of our little tree before taking it down. The painting on the right is one of the purchases from Hymn & Hawe! Also, don’t judge the scratched up couch…. this poor couch is now 16 years old and has seen better days, but we are not buying a new one until we move. I will also make it a point to train the cats to NOT scratch the couch, once we have a new one.

I must say, I am very sad I no longer have my little Christmas tree to brighten up the apartment. I milked it for all it was worth, and left it up until a few days after epiphany. The poor thing was dry as a bone and shedding like crazy. I was truly tempted to buy a light-pink fake tree and decorate it for Valentines day, but let’s face it – this apartment doesn’t really have room to spare or storage space. Plus, I am against buying more plastic, if I can help it (although I think the concept of a pink tree is really cool, and the idea of a Valentines tree is still tempting).

Work has slowed down to the point where I am once again questioning the security of my position. There is truly no in-between for this industry: it’s either a balls-to-the-wall, 55-hour grind of a work week, that makes me feel absolutely psychotic and explosive, or it’s a radio silence, bare-minimum 35-hour week, that I treasure, since I can actually live my life, but also makes me worried I’m about to be “let go” at any given minute. A happy medium would be nice. When work is slow and I fear losing my job, I just make sure to tell myself to enjoy each day, since I am still able to get out for walks, cook leisurely meals, and chill after 6PM without my email notifications blowing up all night. Thankfully, the week of Christmas wasn’t crazy and I was able to enjoy my time home.

Snapped this picture from my apartment building’s roof one night between Christmas and NYE. There is something magical about a burning/vibrant sunset when it’s otherwise so cold out in the Winter season. I call this shot “Sunset over the Projects”

I truly love that week in between Christmas and the New Year – even though I haven’t had that week off since I was a college student of 20. I love that everyone seems to be in a happy, laissez-faire mood. No one at work is in a rush to get things done, everyone is happy and satiated from Christmas celebrations and the abundance of high-fat foods, sweets and chocolate in their lives. People are jolly and good-spirited. I wish every week could be like this week generally is. The world would certainly be a better place. I am happy January is almost over – it is the most depressing month of the year, once the Christmas decorations come down and everyone resumes work and daily life again. It’s also so dark and dreary in January – snow would definitely help to brighten the situation, but we haven’t really had any that has stuck so far in NYC. We had a snow the week after New Year’s Day, but it had melted almost fully by the second day after the initial snowfall.

Tuna, enjoying the fresh snowfall from the comfort of his favorite day-time sleeping spot

I am hoping that we have some more snow in time for Valentine’s Day (not that I celebrate) and/or the week of my birthday. I’m sure If I am able to go upstate following my Birthday, there will be snow – there usually is in late February/early March.

Other than working my day job (that’s how I like to think of my job… as a “day” job – it helps put life into perspective), I am currently focused on getting healthy (when am I not?) and also rescuing four cats that are trapped across the street. I’ve been coordinating with Greenpoint Cats and a couple of other local cat rescues to set things up, and we will be trapping them this weekend. Long story short (because I could certainly go on a rant of epic proportions right now), the cats are not and spayed/neutered and have never seen a vet. They are not exactly spring chickens either. These poor cats do not get direct sunlight and have lived their entire lives in the shade of a building and the confining walls of some shoddy courtyard where they are confined. I have no idea what the bottom/ground of this courtyard looks like, and I am kind of scared to find out (I hope it’s not cluttered with litter, garbage, broken bottles, trash, etc., but something tells me it is). They’ve also had litters of kittens that have died from lack of care and exposure over the years, and the worst part, is that they have to climb a 6-story fire escape (in all kinds of inclement weather) in order to eat. The guy who has been feeding them isn’t the one who brought them in – apparently the building super brought them in as rodent control for the basement of the building. I’ve been told that they have “access to the basement” (whatever that means), but I really do wonder how they get in and out and if it is at all warm in the basement. I highly doubt the poor cats have bedding down there.

Anyhow, we will be trapping them this weekend and then they’re off to see the vet on Monday. I started a GoFundMe to raise money for the cost of their vet visits/spaying/neutering surgeries, which will undoubtedly add up fast considering they are senior cats and have had no preventative care up until this point. If you’d like to donate, please see below link. All leftover donations go directly towards helping other cats in need.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE:

HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF THE VARET ST. CATS (GoFundMe)

Here is one of the four cats that we will be trapping, vetting, and finding a foster home for
The very top fire escape (six stories up) is where these cats are fed. I’m not even sure how they make it up these iron ladders, but it pains me to know they have to make this dangerous climb in order to stay alive. Imagine if they were sick or injured and couldn’t make this climb? They’d sadly starve.

The shittiest part about living in a low-income neighborhood surrounded by projects, is the abundance of strays and the neglect/abuse of animals that seems to be rampant. I don’t care about the mentally ill, possibly dangerous homeless men smoking crack on the street, or the fact that gangs sell drugs on the street corner two blocks down, or even that someone was stabbed to death in a local deli a couple of years ago. I’m a grown woman with pepper spray, a taser, and a hot temper, and I can and will fend for myself. What I care about, are all of the animals suffering on the streets here, without a voice, with no choice in the matter of their circumstances, and their daily suffering, which is overlooked by almost everyone passing by. I know it hard for people to care about animals when they are struggling to feed and house themselves and their family and living in poverty. But it blows my mind that these people, the same ones who struggle to put food on the table for their kids and themselves, think taking in a kitten is a good idea. These kittens are the ones that end up un-spayed or un-neutered on the street 8 months later, when the family decides they can no longer afford to take care of it, or they abandon their 6-year old cat in a crate in the middle of winter, when the cat keeps peeing on the couch because it has a UTI they left untreated (don’t even get my started on the people who hoard animals, or get dogs they keep confined to a kennel). I know that people of all income brackets are capable of animal abuse and neglect, but it is way more prevalent in neighborhoods like mine, where the majority of families struggle to live day-to-day life and keep their human kids clothed and fed. There are stray cats all over my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and most people do not bat an eye at their suffering, because they just don’t have the time, energy, or resources to care or help. Oftentimes, they do not even know that sources are available to help, at no cost of their own. Sorry… I could keep going, but I’ll stop.

This dress is currently for sale on my Poshmark, if anyone wants to buy. I bought it used on Tradesy, thinking it would be perfect for a NYE party, but clearly that didn’t go as planned. I also have a sensitive neck, and the choker-collar feels really restrictive ;p

Onto the recipe! Sorry for the very long-winded diversion…

CURRIED LENTIL SOUP (to feed the soul)

The soup so good, you’ll finish the pot in 2 days (at least that’s what I do… and then pay the ultimate price in bloating from the lentils)

Warning: lentils are high in fiber and therefore can make you extremely bloated (especially if you’re like me and finish the entire pot of soup in two days). I would not recommend eating this soup if you have a hot date the night of, plan to wear a body-conscious dress or crop top, or plan to have sexy times (if you know what I’m saying). The great thing is, that because of the high fiber content, this soup will also make you go to the bathroom (I don’t need to get into specifics), and you’ll have the flattest stomach ever after your morning coffee the next day. LOL.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of dried red lentils (green lentils or French lentils could also work)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 of a large white/yellow onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 1 pack of frozen spinach, or 1 box of fresh spinach
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pot)
  • Approx. 4 cups of chicken, vegetarian chicken, or veggie stock (I use the “Better Than Chicken” bouillon and just add it to the boiling water!)
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 TBS (yellow) curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp granulated/powdered garlic
  • a generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste (salt usually isn’t needed since the curry powder is salty and the stock may be salty if using bouillon as the base)
  • **Feel free to add in the following if you have on hand, or need to use up: Mushrooms, potatoes (1 or 2 max), arugula, any other veggie you think might go well!

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prep the veggies – Wash veggies where applicable and chop the onion, carrots, celery and mince the garlic (carrots and celery do not have to be chopped finely)
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over low heat, add in the onions stirring occasionally and cooking over low-heat until translucent and yellow.
  3. Add in the celery and garlic and continue to cook over low heat for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add in the dried lentils, the carrots, all of the veggie/chicken stock, and raise temperature and bring to a gentle boil.
  5. Cook at a gentle boil until the carrots and lentils are almost tender – about 10-12 minutes (I think?)… occasionally sample a lentil or two to see how tender they are..
  6. Once the lentils are softened, add in the crushed tomatoes and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted (or, in the case of frozen, is no longer frozen)
  7. Turn down the heat and add in the spices – tasting as you go along to make sure everything is coming together nicely. You may need to play around with the ratio of spices (I do not measure with measuring tools – just taste testing)
  8. Continue to cook over low heat until the lentils begin to break apart (that’s how soft they should be!)
  9. Finally, add in the can of coconut milk, stir in so it’s incorporated, and if necessary, add 1-1.5 TBS of sugar and any additional spices you think it might need to reach its best potential
I usually use frozen spinach, but my local deli only had fresh
The onions and celery take way longer to soften than carrots or potatoes, so always saute these a bit before adding the others!
Seriously though – this soup is one of my favorites. It is rich and flavorful and vegan (without trying to be) as long as you don’t use chicken stock!

In other, more superficial news, I am so over my blonde hair. I thought it would bring me joy – it brings me none. I thought it would make me feel pretty – it makes me feel trashy. It’s been almost 2 months now since I bleached it. I think I will go back to a nice strawberry-blonde shade sometime soon. I just worry that my hair is not healthy enough to fuck with right now, since I’ve been experiencing a lot of breakage since the bleach. I was warned – I should have listened. Live and learn I guess, right?

I spent a good two hours trying on a number of dresses that have never seen the light of day in preparation for NYE. These poor dresses – won’t someone please take them out and show them a good time???!
Blonde, crispy hair, not a good look for me…I really miss my red hair. Also, be careful who injects you – I tried lip fillers for the first time in November, and had to have lumps dissolved this month, even though I paid standard pricing and went to a reputable place. Thankfully they look much better after they dissolved the lumps, but I would recommend a Dr. as opposed to an RN, even if all they do is inject… Dr./Board Certified Dermatologist pricing is really the same, as I’ve recently found out

I feel like having COVID and living through 2020/2021 in NYC had added years to my face, aesthetically speaking. I was tired of looking tired, even when I didn’t feel tired inside, so I decided to take time back (at least, aesthetically speaking, since we can never get that time back), and so I tried botox for the first time in November at the age of 33. It’s a decision I am happy I made – I no longer wake up with lines on my forehead that don’t go away during the day. And, despite the fact that I used to talk mad shit about girls with obvious lip fillers (*I regret having this attitude*), I also decided to take the plunge and try lip fillers in November. The real deciding factor in both of these decisions? EVERYBODY’S DOING IT. That sounds terrible – and who the fuck wants to be a follower?! Not me, although, I guess now I am to some extent… Honestly though, I live in NYC (I assume this is the same scenario with any major city) and *almost* EVERYONE from the age of 27 on is having work done, if they can afford it. Most people just don’t talk about it openly, but if you scroll back a few years on their IG account, you can tell.

I have always liked the shape of my lips, but in recent years (maybe the past 5), I feel like they’ve deflated significantly (kind of like how a helium balloon looks, 5 days after the party has ended), and they look perpetually dry, even when I am quite hydrated. The only time my lips have looked truly luscious in recent years, is after a night of drinking and/or high sodium intake – I would wake up and hate that the rest of my face and body was bloated and puffy AF, but I’d admire how full and pouty my lips were. I feel like it’s still taboo to some extent, to talk about shit like this (that’s why I’m writing about it here, where only a select few will read). But, if you know me and see me regularly, you can probably (scratch that: DEFINITELY) tell when you see me (in person), that they’re bigger… so I thought I’d just throw it out here (for anyone who reads this). It was actually kind of another spur of the moment decision (kind of like this blonde hair… I told you, I am clearly going through some sort of crisis…), but one that I do not regret. I had them done at JECT when I got my botox.

I should have taken into account how long I’d be bruised from the ordeal – I had them done the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and they were still bruised and swollen AF when I had to go home and face my family five days later. Naturally, I had to admit what I had done to my sister and my brother, who both separately confronted me. My parents played it cool, but my sister told me that my dad separately brought it up to her and my mom, saying “I think she may have had her lips enhanced.” Apparently my mom, ever oblivious, replied “You know she always likes to over-line her lips, Tom.” This actually makes me chuckle, because that much is true. I spent the ages of 19 – 28 over-lining my lips in an attempt to make them look bigger, before I realized how obvious it looked in broad daylight, and then stopped doing any sort of lip color altogether until now. Side note: you can totally get away with over-lining and clever lip gloss placement in a dark restaurant or nightclub, or even a photo, but in real life and in natural light, it looks not-so-good (especially up close).

Anyhow, after the swelling went down (which literally took a full 2 weeks for me), I had a couple of unsightly lumps which were a dead give away that I’d had injections, and also made me super self-conscious when talking with people. I went back to JECT and they dissolved the lumps (free of cost, since it was their fault), and I am now completely happy with the results. I am happy that my top lip no longer completely disappears when I smile (which is honestly probably part of my endearing charm to those who know me (JK), but also something I’ve been self conscious of for most of my life). I am also happy I no longer feel self-conscious when my face is in its natural, resting bitch face, which always gave my mouth a particularly stern and thin appearance.

Anyhow, I feel lucky to be in a place in my life where I can finally afford to finance these endeavors… I probably would have done this years ago if I wasn’t struggling financially. I hate myself for giving into the pressure, but at the same time I feel so much better when I wake up and assess my face each morning. I wish I didn’t care so much, it goes against all of my feminist ideals… but I always have cared and sadly, I always will.

Another beautiful (to me) dress that has never left the confines of my closet. Won’t someone please think of the dresses?!
This For Love and Lemons dress is still waiting for its moment to shine. I wish I was a kept woman or a lady who lunches – someone who never had to worry about going to bed to wake up and work a corporate job ever again. I already help people and animals in my spare time. Imagine all the animals and people in need I can help if I’m not depending on a 9-5 job to pay rent/bills??? I think that is my true calling – that and somehow combining my love of food and cooking. Maybe I can open a restaurant where half of the proceeds go towards local rescue groups. I just need the initial funding…

A Much Needed Vacation, New Beginnings, and Fish Chowder

As per the norm, it has been far too long since I wrote a blog (not that anyone gives a shit or looks forward to these blogs…). My vacation has come and gone, and it was honestly the best vacation I’ve ever had. I wish it had never ended and that I was still in Italy, but here I am – back in Brooklyn and back to work. On the upside, I came home to a new Job lined up, and which I have now been at for almost three weeks – so things are improving for me in that area of life.

It was so nice to be back in Venice and to see my boyfriend’s parents after three very long years, as well as his friends. It was also nice to be able to travel, after not being able to do so for over a year and a half as the result of COVID restrictions. It certainly was a hassle getting multiple COVID tests before flying out and again before flying home, making sure the carrying around our vaccine cards, negative test results, passports, and the additional documentation required (something akin to a “Green Pass”) in my purse at all times, but it was worth it.

Wishing I was still here…
The Grand Canal at night: so beautiful it seems like a fairy tale

While we were in Venice, the highlight (apart from seeing his parents and friends) was the cicheti and affordable wine. We went to town on both… how could you not?! I think the hardest thing since returning to the US, and more specifically returning to NYC, has been the memory of such affordable food and drink when a glass of wine here will set you back $15. We drank good-quality wine for 3 Euros a glass, and filled up our stomachs on delicious food for less than 10 euros a piece. It is a travesty that dining out or drinking in NYC will set you back over $100 on a night out.

First cicheti stop of the trip. This picture is from the first cicheti bar we went to the afternoon of the day we arrived, and it did not disappoint!
Wenice is another one of our favorite cicheti bars – the ambiance isn’t the greatest since there is limited seating, but the food cannot be beat. The Seppie al nero and seppie in umido (pictured to the left above) are out of this world.
Seppia on polenta squares at another of our favorites: SEPA. I think we must have gone to this bar 5 times over the course of our time in Venice.

I developed a bit of an obsession with seppia (cuttlefish) this time, if I wasn’t already slightly obsessed before, and I don’t just mean eating them. I bought a little cuttlefish (seppia) pin from SEPA, and, as Venice is known for the Murano glass, an adorable little glass seppia. I saw it in the window of a shop and just couldn’t resist!

My new seppie friends

As Venice is on the water, there is no shortage of seafood everywhere you go, which suits me well, since it is what I love to eat. There are cuttlefish dishes galore, mantis shrimp (which are different and more delectable than regular shrimp), prawns, fish, sardines, scallops, octopus, clams, etc. offered on every menu. It is food paradise for a seafood lover like myself.

This plate had a bit of everything and was so good that it cannot be put into words. The owner of this bar ^ is actually the son of the owner of another restaurant on Murano that Christian’s parents love, and which we went to for lunch one day.

The original plan was to spend the last four days of our trip in France: we were going to fly from Venice to Nice, rent a car, and drive to Paris over the course of three days. That was going to be one hell of a hassle, with days that would require 5-6 hours of driving in order to get us to the towns we wanted to visit and eventually put us in Paris the night before we flew home. We decided to nix this plan, and instead spend a couple of days in Tuscany. This made way more sense since we already had plans to visit a friend in Bologna. We changed the plane tickets to fly from Venice to Paris on the last day of our vacation, since we still needed to fly out of Paris.

My boyfriend’s parents were nice enough to let us borrow their car, and we drove to Bologna to visit our friend, before driving to the Chianti region of Tuscany for two nights. It was so good to see our friend in Bologna and catch up, even if it was only for one night. The hotel we had was amazing – a huge suite with a full kitchen and a huge bath tub in the bedroom. It is a shame that we didn’t spend more time in the hotel room, as we were out most of the night! After one night in Bologna, we set out for Chianti.

We are definitely going back to Giovanni’s place in Greve in Chianti – it is hands down the best Airbnb we have ever rented (and for the most affordable price too). This is the charcuterie board he bbrought us upon or arrival, together with the two bottles of Chianti that were produced from his vineyards!

We are now ruined for life after paying only $135 for a night at Giovanni’s agritourismo (farm/vineyard/lodging) in Greve in Chianti. I was expecting we would be staying in a small cottage, but the 300 year old stone house could have easily accommodated 10 more guests. There were four bedrooms, and three full bathrooms – I think my jaw dropped open when I walked in and saw the place…

We were on the upper level of this 300 year old stone building.
The view out of our kitchen window

Not only was the house itself amazing, but the property was situated on a hilltop, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. There were only a handful of other guests, so it was super quiet and peaceful. Giovanni gave us a tour, the history of his vineyard and the property, and was beyond accommodating and gracious. He gave us recommendations for dinner as well as suggestions for how to spend our short stay in Tuscany.

The vineyard towards sunset
The pool, which overlooked the rolling hills and vineyards
Hot tub with a view!

I don’t think that I have ever felt as relaxed and at such peace as I did during my time in Tuscany. The land, the scenery and the local way of life are such that it is impossible not to live in the moment and to appreciate all that surrounds you, in terms of nature, beauty, and good food and wine. I am considering moving to Tuscany in the next couple of years, if I can save enough to buy a property. I have never felt so inspired to GTFO of NYC as I did while in Tuscany.

More sunset views

My only complaint about my time in Tuscany, is that there are no options for vegetarians or really even pescatarians. And if you happen to be a vegan? Fucking forget about it! When in Rome do as the Romans do, right? While in Tuscany, eat as the locals eat. I went TO FUCKING TOWN eating meat while I was in Tuscany. I mean, how could I not? I ate more meat in three days than I had eaten in the past three years while I was Tuscany. Popular dishes were bolognese, ragu, rabbit, wild boar, beef (and tartare… my favorite), pasta, pork, etc. There was nary a vegetable to be found on most menus, apart from ordering as a side dish. I ordered a salad one night as a side, hoping to get some fiber into my system, and the salad consisted of three leaves of lettuce, a pickled slice of pepper, one cherry tomato, and a smoked herring and huge piece of goat cheese. Needless to say, my digestive system was beyond fucked up after a few days of living on meat and carbs and wine. I was severely bloated and uncomfortable for the remainder of our trip.

The trattoria we ate at on our first night in Tuscany. This was located in a tiny, little hillside town. They had outdoor seating across the street, which is where we ate, and the food was incredible. I didn’t want to be the asshole American taking pics of their food, so we have no pictures from most of our dinners.

After our first night in Chianti, we did a short day-trip to Siena. I loved this little city, and the few hours we spent there were not nearly long enough. I definitely need to go back!

The main square where they do the Palio di Siena horse race each year (apart from the last two years, thanks to COVID – way to break 400 years of tradition…).
Sadly, we did such an abbreviated tour that I didn’t go into any of the museums or churches or even read up on them.

Siena is truly a beautiful and small medieval city. I absolutely must return, hopefully sooner than later.

A foodie’s dream… and also a meat-eater’s paradise! Was eating meat and breaking my practice of *mostly* avoiding it worth it? Hell yeah it was… even if I ended up unable to go to the bathroom and looked 10 months pregnant.
I think I had tartare three days in a row. This one from a small restaurant in Siena was by far the best out of all of them. It was so incredibly good…. that just seeing this picture and remembering it makes me want it right now.
Me, in my element on the streets of Siena.
We saw this little yellow Fiat coming and had to snap a picture. The guy driving even slowed down for me to take the pic! ha!

We originally planned to stay just one night in Tuscany, but while we were in Siena, we decided to book another Airbnb and stay a second night, as we were loving it all so much. The second Airbnb, while still cheap compared to American standards, was slightly more than the cost of our first one, and not nearly as nice. It was still beautiful – don’t get me wrong. I guess our standards were set too high by comparison of of Giovanni’s place! The second Airbnb was also an agritourismo (working farm – lodging situation), not too far from the first place. It was much more rustic, and a lot smaller of an apartment, but the views were (once again) breath-taking.

View from the second Airbnb in Chianti. The pool was lovely, but way too cold to actually swim in… not to mention all of the mosquitoes hanging out in the shrubs surrounding it! I got so many mosquito bites on this vacation….
Had to take a self in the bathroom of our first Airbnb… the lighting was too good not to. I also ended up living in this dress for the rest of the vacation after my time in Tuscany (wherein I gained 10 lbs of bloat in my stomach from my all-meat diet).

After our trip to Tuscany, we headed back to Venice for a few more days with my boyfriend’s parents. I finally visited the INSIDE of St. Marco’s cathedral. This was my fourth trip to Venice, and the first time I saw the inside of the cathedral, as opposed to just the outside. Needless to say, my mind was blown by the beauty, the history, and the age of the artifacts.

San Marco’s cathedral in San Marco (St. Mark’s) Square.
Inside the cathedral
These are the original bronze horses that adorned the outside of the cathedral. They were built in the 1st century BC… over 2000 years old. Isn’t that nuts?! Apparently, when they were new, they were so bright when the sun hit them that they blinded people who stared too long. They were scratched up intentionally to prevent the sun’s glare bouncing off of them!

As our last few days in Venice grew close to ending, we became sad at the prospect of returning back to NYC, but determined we needed to make the most of the time we had left. This included nightly walks and wine, more cicheti and dinner with my boyfriend’s parents.

Last cicheti crawl of our time in Venice. I will have to go back to this place – it was so SO good.
Also from our last day in Venice, the canal was a bit smelly, but very picturesque. haha

As always, it was very sad leaving Venice and leaving behind Christian’s parents. I hope we can go back early next year to visit. We flew to Paris the day before our flight back to the U.S., so we still had one night in Paris to look forward to, even though the post-vacation blues were settling in fast and we weren’t even done with our travels yet….

The sun coming up over the Laguna as we booked it in a water taxi to the airport. I think it was like 6:15AM…

When we arrived in Paris, we were exhausted from our early morning flight and general lack of sleep. I was also bloated AF and unable to go to the bathroom, which put me in a rather sour mood. I’m sorry if that is TMI, but my diet of wine, meat and not enough water or fiber truly had me fucked up. The hotel room in Paris was more than our Airbnb costs combined, and so tiny it was a joke. We put our stuff down, refreshed, and headed out for a full day and abbreviated tour of the city.

I had seen the Eiffel Tower the last time I was in Paris (also a 24 hour stay), but I did not go up. This time, we climbed the stairs to the second level! The views were incredible and it was great exercise, to say the least.
View from the second level

Paris is a beautiful city, but it is huge and clearly impossible to thoroughly explore in such a short time frame. Prior to our flight from Venice to Paris, we were on the fence about how to spend our very short time there. We did the Louvre last time (which takes up a full day). Versailles is on my list of things to see, but unfortunately that would have required a FULL day. I also considered the catacombs, and dancing on Jim Morrison’s grave. I think next time I’ll have to dance on Jim Morrison’s grave….

After our second abbreviated tour of Paris, I decided I much prefer Venice, although as my boyfriend kept pointing out, they’re two totally different cities and vibes and therefore cannot really be compared to each other.

Naturally we were both miserable to return to disgusting NYC and our even more disgusting Brooklyn neighborhood. I also returned to a life in which I am still helping the two street cats I rescued back in May. Somehow I am still involved fundraising and bringing them to vet appointments. The end does seem to be in sight, however. Gracie (the more feral cat that went to live with her feeder), is going for her dental extractions next Wednesday. Naturally, I somehow find myself (once again) responsible for catching her from under the bed at her home, taking her to and from the upcoming appointment, and for raising the funds to cover the appointment. All of this after I threw down my own cash and time for the vet appointment I brought her to this past Saturday.

Honestly, I cannot wait until she is done with this appointment. I hope that not only will she feel much better, but maybe she will become friendlier and happier in general. I’m also hoping that this is the last I will ever have to be involved with either cat.

If anyone reading this has it in their heart (and pocket) to kindly donate $10 or $20 to her upcoming appointment, it would be BEYOND appreciated, and you will go on my list of real-life heroes. Below is a link to her GoFundMe:

DONATE TO GRACIE’S DENTAL:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gracie-get-a-dental

I did have a couple of great things to keep me motivated and to look forward to after returning from my vacation. Apart from my new job, which has been great so far, I went home the first weekend of October to attend my Aunt and Uncle’s annual “family picnic.” It is always so nice to see my family – at the end of the day, I always know my family has my back and wants what is best for me. I am thankful that I am so close with my family…. they are not perfect (who’s family is???), but they are supportive and they love me (I think…), and sometimes in this crazy fucked up world, their love and support is what I need to feel OK when shit hits the fan in other aspects of my life.

Anyhow, I digress. Here are some pics of my aunt and uncle’s cozy cottage on the Susquehanna river, and shots from the BBQ.

Would it be a blog if I didn’t throw in some selfies? It would be, but not my blog. Here you go:

vintage shirt stolen from my boyfriend (ex?)
This was taken before vacation. I was really feeling good about myself. I wish I felt this good every day….but then it would be all over for you bitches (JK)
My dad sent some haddock home with me last time I was home, so I made this awesome chowder.

FISH CHOWDER

I’m too sad to write this recipe right now, so I’ll have to get back you in my next blog. Stay tuned.