23. Make or bake one thing from 10 cookbooks- Vegan Brunch

12 Aug

I like brunch.

The issue is, 88.7% of Manhattan likes brunch, too.

I don’t like long lines. They give me time to think about the fact that I’m going to spend $18.63 on eggs, coffee, and if I’m lucky, a Sunday-morning acceptable cocktail. All of which I could have made at home. I try not to think about how many bottles of Andre that $18.63 could get me.

But brunch is fun! You see friends! You get waited on! If it’s nice weather and you’re willing to wait 42 minutes, you sit outside! Sigh.

Not to rub it in, when you don’t work in the summer, you can have brunch every day. Especially when you don’t wake up until mid-morning. Because, even if you call it “breakfast,” let’s face it, it’s still brunch.

The sad thing is, you’re eating brunch by yourself.

I look pretty cool with a book at a restaurant by myself. And heavens! I’m not above that at all!

But maybe I could save some money and make brunch at home. Because then I can stay in my PJs and watch “Real Housewives of New York” while I eat. Leaving the apartment is overrated.

[keep reading! there’s more here!]


5. Go to the Brooklyn Museum

12 Aug

I have to admit, I don’t leave my neighborhood very much.

Something happens when you live in the same area building that you work. And when there’s grocery stores and restaurants, and clothing stores nearby.

You don’t really…leave.

Every now and then I venture downtown (or on the rare occasion, acrosstown) for visiting purposes, but that’s not a regular occurrence.

And Brooklyn? Forgetaboutit. That’s like, once in a blue moon. Which is a shame, because it seems pretty nifty.

I’ve got Manhattan figured out. It’s a fairly easy to navigate and the numbers make sense and it’s a grid and I can tell whether I’m going East or West.

I headed to the Brooklyn Museum yesterday, fully aware that, should I try to go anywhere after the museum, I was most likely going to get lost. And I did. But at least I made it to the museum!

Things I realized while at the Brooklyn Museum:

-I really like those “period rooms.” You know, the ones where you step into this little enclave and see a room decorated the way would have been in a house in the 1800s.

-If there’s a lot of text on a sign explaining the exhibit, I skim. Then, halfway through the exhibit, I forget what I was actually looking at. Sometimes I go back to re-read the sign. Sometimes I don’t.

-Egyptian art is cool. No matter how old you are and how many times you’ve seen it. It’s still cool. There. I said it.

-If there’s a “wrong way” to go through exhibits, I do it.

-If a piece of art looks like it would be fun to touch, some kid will touch it (hello, summer camp field trips). And then will be painfully honest when the teacher gets mad. “It looked like it would be fun?”

-Visible storage=cool in a museum. Visible storage= a mess in your apartment.

-It’s really frustrating when you can’t find the elevator.

11 days until 26

3. Sew and wear a dress

9 Aug

I haven’t always wanted to be a teacher.

Oh no, I went through a plethora of possible professions (hey there, alliteration) before landing on teaching.

I moved from my “doctor during the day, ballerina at night” idea (not realistic because what if I was performing Swan Lake and there was an emergency? bummer.) to various others, including the desire to own/operate a recording studio, and a brief stint wondering how I could be hired to be the person who finds music for TV shows. Even now, in a job that I love, I secretly want to open a bakery.

Never have I ever wanted to be a seamstress. Or a fashion designer. Ever.

I have a sewing machine that was purchased when I was in high school. I took a sewing class and produced a very boxy, unattractive dress that no one would ever wear. To this date, I’ve made a skirt, a bag, and some curtains.

When it comes to sewing, I don’t have the same perfectionist tendencies that I seem to have with everything else. When I first typed “seem” right now, I actually wrote “seam.” Pretty punny, no? Just go with it.

I get crazy frustrated when fabric doesn’t cooperate or when I have to do a lot of pinning and I can’t, CAN’T cut in a straight line. Get that? Not even close to a straight line. And usually, right before the project is done, something happens like accidentally cutting the middle of the skirt, or sewing a seam that goes way the wrong way. And that’s the end of that.

And then I ball the fabric up and shove it into a plastic bag and pout. I’ve gotten quite good at pouting at the sewing machine since I started this project.

But then! Lo! I finished my dress! I used this tutorial that I found online. I have to admit, shopping for the fabric was the best part. I got a little fabric crazy and bought enough other colors to make two more dresses. No biggie, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Dress success! I only wore it for a few hours because then the torrential rains started and my rain boots don’t really go with the style.

Please excuse the less-than-desirable quality picture, the dirty mirror, and the cluttered sink. Basically, I’m a hot mess.

14 days until 26

17. Take a new dance class

7 Aug

photo via this website

I hate to brag. I really do.

Bragging makes me feel gross inside. And awkward outside. And I don’t really think I need to be more awkward. I clearly haven’t learned how to pull off the “casual brag.”

But allow me this rare instance of bragging: I can kind of dance.

I don’t mean shake-it-in-the-club dancing. That’s a whole differerent thing. But years of ballet and jazz instruction have translated into a basic understanding of rhythm and movement. Which means it’s relatively easy to learn a new style, even if it does take a few minutes to pick up.

So I signed up for a super basic intro to Argentine Tango, led by Strictly Tango. $5 for 45 minutes? Absolutely my kind of class. In order to dance, I’ve come to realize, you have to be willing to shell out a lot of money, be it for classes or clothing, so it was nice to find a place where I was encouraged to try before buy(ing).

No need to worry that I was swept off my feet by a handsome Argentinian. We were a motley crew of an instructor, 4 inexperienced ladies, and 3 semi-experienced men and there’s nothing like dancing with complete strangers to make you wonder if you brushed your teeth enough that morning.

I could do it. I picked up the steps pretty quickly. There wasn’t any spinning or fancy footwork, but I got the basics down pretty well. The instructor said I was a “fast learner” and suggested I attend the 2-day, 6-hour “Tango for Fast Learners” (catchy title, eh?) workshop next weekend.

The hardest part? Letting someone else lead. I wanted to be in control. Anyone surprised?

Watch a video of the dance here.

16 days until 26

10. Take an art class

2 Aug

Let’s get philosophical for a minute, shall we?

Don’t get scared. We’re not gonna get that intense. And the I promise to return to our regularly scheduled programing after.

What is art?

I have a family member who could speak far more eloquently about this topic than I ever hope to be able to, but bear with me here. Is it self-expression? Do you have to share it? Is it still “art” if you do it just for yourself? Where’s that line between creative output and “art”?

I took a cake decorating class, and as I was dabbing color onto my (AWESOME) poppies that I made, I realized I was making a form of art. The colors I used reflected how I was feeling, how I arranged the flowers on the cake probably had some deep-rooted link into how I feel about myself at this point in my life, AND I shared it with others! At least the others at my table.

My art was short-lived. 90 degree heat and buttercream icing aren’t always the best of friends.

But the flowers survived, because gum paste can last forever. They might not be the most amazingly beautiful pieces of art ever created, but they can be on display in MY Louvre.

21 days until 26

8. Go to an acupuncturist

28 Jul

I love my acupuncturist.

Is that weird? I really like this person whose job is putting needles into me.

But seriously, I think a lot of what makes visiting an acupuncturist scary is putting your life (ok, skin?) in the hands of someone you don’t know.

Turn me into a pincushion?

We just met!

Can we have coffee first?

This seems intimate.

Not gonna lie, I was a little nervous. Cue scene of me running around the doctor’s office, protesting getting a shot. Two stickers if the receptionist didn’t hear me cry? Only on a good day.

I’ve progressed slightly since that point, but the idea of lots of needles in various joints and pressure points kind of intimidated me.

Silly Katie. No need to be scared. My acupuncturist was cool, calm, and collected. And more importantly, she felt like a real person. There’s a certain amount of skepticism people have if they’ve never experienced acupuncture… I understand, I had it also. But she didn’t do lots of “acupuncture talk” that I didn’t understand, and when she did reference my energy moving and it’s (lack) of fluidity, she explained like I was a friend, rather than a patient. Love.

After doing a really long “getting to know you session” which included health history and living habits, we came to the conclusion that a lot of the issues I have stem from anxiety, stress, and control problems.

Who me?

So the focus was going to be on getting the stress and anxiety under control and re-teach my body and mind how to rationalize situations and be more flexible. This includes a series of acupuncture sessions, some minor lifestyle changes (taking time to do focused meditation at the start of the day), and some Mantras. And some patience.

Then! Needles!

I lay down and she put needles in my ankles, the tops of my feet, my inner wrists, under my knee, my upper and lower stomach, my ears, the top of my head, and in between my eyebrows. Serious pincushion. But the needles were super thin, and the most I felt was  tiny pinch (ankles and ears the most). Then she told me to relax.

So I did. And I waited. For something. I could have felt any number of things, I was told. Warmth, tingling, anything.

At first, I just noticed that my muscles felt heavy, more relaxed, and my energy felt like it was sinking. I felt really still.

And then!

Tingling! Almost a throbbing. In my inner right wrist! I later found out that this is the “heart” area… specifically this point touches on emotional issues, anxiety, and worry… interesting.

And then!

The top of my left foot went numb. But not a scary “where did my foot go” numb, just more of a pleasant feeling.

By the end of the session, I felt like I had woken up from an excellent sleep. Seriously, I felt more relaxed and better than after a massage. No joke.

We can skip the coffee. I can see this is going to be a long, prickly relationship.

26 days until 26 (eek!)


12. Figure out my favorite kind of wine

25 Jul

True confession time: I like wine.

Wait… I guess that’s not too big of a confession.

Even bigger confession time: I usually pick wine based on what the bottle looks like.

The prettier the bottle, the greater chance that I’ll like the wine, right?

Sadly, that doesn’t always work. And I’m tired of looking ridiculous when I’m asked by a store clerk what I’m looking for and I say, “Um… the one with the nicest label?”

Then they definitely ask for my ID. Who is this kid?

Enter: The Wine Tasting.

7:00, Sunday night, the besties and I head to New York Vintners to attend a class called “Blind Tasting: Discovering Your Palate.” Tickets were purchased through Living Social, and oh-my-gosh if I gushed about how much I love Groupon and Living Social and all of those deals I spend way too much money on, this post would never end. Sidetrack done.

Awesome space, cool instructor, and people get surprisingly friendly the more wines they taste! There were 3 whites and 3 reds that we were “blind” to, and we had to asses the wines on body, aroma, acidity, etc. Basically it was to get you away from the notions you have about certain wines and open you up to new types based on what you already like. We took notes and smelled and sipped and swished.

Things I learned:

1. I am really awful at coming up with words to describe aromas. Sorry, still don’t know what “wet rocks” smell like. And why in the WORLD would you describe a wine as “farmy” smelling? Gross.

2. I tend to like off-dry/medium-dry, medium + acidity, creamier (oak), with mild fruity aromas. Wow, look how cool I sound!

3. Thought I didn’t like red wine, but there actually was one I enjoyed!

4. The wines I liked the most were the most expensive. So much for being a cheap date.

If you’re wondering, we tasted the following wines:

The Whites

Piuze 2009 Chablis Terroir de Chablis (my fave white)

Vercesi 2009 Pino Nero Bianco

Berger 2010 Guner Veltliner

The Reds

Occhipinti 2009 Frappato (my fave red)

VRAC Cotes du Rhone

Brun, JP 2009 Fleurie

Do I know what my absolute favorite one yet? No, because I think I would have to do a lot more taste-testing. But at least I got a little closer to knowing what types I like, which hopefully can lead me to my all-time, one-and-only, forever-after wine.

P.S. Want to listen to a fun podcast about wine? Check out The Crush. I lurve it. And don’t pretend you don’t listen to podcasts. You totally do.

29 days until 26