my New York Diet

I love nymag.com and their weekly The New York Diet section is one of my favorites. Basically, celebrities (mostly foodies/chefs) dish on their culinary consumptions of the past week. It’s like a food diary for the famous, which I find utterly fascinating. Mostly because I like the way it’s presented. It’s very sparse (no pictures) with the entries candidly dictated in each person’s own voice. Also, you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat, and I’m just nosy enough to care.

When someone like Mario Batali or Anthony Bourdain writes, it’s a foodie’s paradise (hotdogs at Papaya Grey, mozzarella tastings, 14 course menus) but when the occasional actress/model writes something like ‘I had a salad and a handful of dried fruit for lunch, then I got home and was so tired I didn’t have dinner’… the commenters go crazy!! What’s worse is when a model says ‘For breakfast, I had McDonald’s and then later a huge cheeseburger and chocolate shake for lunch.’ Man, those comments are golden…

So inspired by this, I thought I’d write my own NY Diet. Because I may not be famous but I do live in New York and I eat, which to me seems like enough criteria. Here is my completely candid New York Diet:

Tuesday, February 28

Every morning, I’d love to have a nicely prepared hot breakfast. But you know what I love even more? My bed. I am NOT a morning person so I tend to keep it super light in the early hours. Plus I walk 25 minutes everyday to work so I prefer waiting to have something more substantial once I get there. This morning I had to get up even earlier to stop by the post office and mail my brother Ben’s birthday present and card (his birthday is this Friday). It’s hard being his favorite sister.

When I got to work I had a bottle of ‘green juice’ (that I get at Trader Joe’s) and an oatmeal applesauce blueberry muffin (I’d made a dozen the night before

). A little later I had a tiny square of a pecan bar that one of my coworkers had made. I try to only indulge in work treats when they’re homemade and delicious. This was definitely both. Later for lunch, I had brought leftovers from the night before: teriyaki salmon with quinoa and asparagus. Also a blueberry soy yogurt. I was pretty hungry.

After work, I went to the gym and then ran some errands. Ok, not really errands. I went shopping at the new Anthropologie store that just opened three blocks from my apartment. I needed to check it out. Another lie. I had already gone to the store the day before… this is getting to be quite confessional. When I finally did get home (did I buy anything or not? oh, you’ll never know), I prepared a tofu taco salad with some blue corn tortilla chips which I ate while watching The Biggest Loser (no new episodes of Glee or New Girl?). I also had a pink grapefruit and another oatmeal blueberry muffin before calling it a night.

Wednesday, February 29

Another morning, another green juice at work. Then later another mid-morning muffin (3 down, only 9 left to go). This week has been quite busy with different surveys and events going on in the museum. It’s a bit more chaotic than usual but honestly I’ll take being over-busy than underwhelmed any day. But I’m a nerd.

For lunch I had a veggie burger (Trader Joe’s masala burger with edamame hummus– a winning combo) and water of course, lots of water throughout the day. I try to pack my own lunch to work, not that our staff cafeteria is awful, just that my coworker found a bug in her escarole that one time. It’s just safer this way.

Later in the afternoon I had a cup of Lady Grey tea by Twinings- basically Earl Grey but with a hint of citrus which I guess makes it for ladies. After work, a few coworkers and I went to City Bakery to celebrate the last day of their February Hot Chocolate Festival. The Hot Chocolate of the Day was Leap Day Chocolate aka “Black Strap Rum reduced with Cinnamon.” Um yes please, I’ll take a wee shot-sized cup of that. It was super rich and decadent but the homemade marshmallow is what made it!

After my hot chocolate shot, I headed to my friend Anne Larimer’s to watch the Top Chef Finale. On my way there, I stopped by Whole Foods in Columbus Circle to get dinner from the salad bar (which is the best). I got what my sister Christine calls ‘frou-frou’ foods, you know, super healthy, hippie things like farro salad and kale with lemon zest and shredded beets with sprouts. While I was there I also stopped by Bouchon Bakery to pick up a few French macarons (which have become ‘the new cupcakes’) to share with Anne Larimer. Bouchon’s macarons are my favorite cause they’re so much larger than the usual dainty ones. Plus I love Thomas Keller. I got the pistachio, caramel, passion fruit, and coffee. General consensus: pistachio was the winner.

Thursday, March 1

You know the drill. Green juice and Mr. Muffin.

Lunch was what I call a ‘vegetarian cobb salad’: romaine lettuce, chickpeas, hard boiled egg, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, basically whatever else I had in my fridge with balsamic vinaigrette. The day was pretty hectic so I had a very quick lunch but it was just what I needed! Late afternoon I also had a Luna bar (Nutz over Chocolate).

In the evening, there was an event at the Met in celebration of the new Islamic Galleries that opened last November. My co-worker friend Katherine has been hard at work organizing the event and I was working part of it as well. Also, I just love attending any party at the Met whenever I can– it’s one perk I always take full advantage of! There was some food at the event but by the time I was done working, the vultures had already had at it. So I basically had a couple glasses of red wine for dinner, which is not as sad as it sounds (Yes it is). The event was fantastic though! Afterwards my friends and I got drinks at a nearby pub.

Friday, March 2

Green juice, banana, and… yep you guessed it. Muffin-town.

Lunch was the salad bar at work (no escarole that day). Mostly mixed greens with lentils, orzo and a yummy parmesan polenta square. And some fresh pineapple on the side. Then later in the afternoon I was feeling particularly ladylike so I had a cup of Lady Grey.

Friday evening was a bit hectic. I had plans to go see the play War Horse at 8p but I didn’t leave work until about 7:15p. Luckily, Lincoln Center is not far from work so I just zipped in a cab and crossed Central Park. I ate a Luna bar (Chocolate Dipped Coconut) while waiting in the lobby for my friends to get there. Afterwards, we went across the street to P.J. Clarke’s. I was starving so I ordered the moules frites. It was exactly what I was expecting, just classic.

Saturday, March 3

Sleeping in is a luxury I enjoy thoroughly on Saturdays. Woke up closer to lunchtime and had a banana and apple cinnamon oatmeal with a splash of soymilk. Ate this while rewatching the Season 4 finale of Mad Men (I’m highly anticipating the new season).

It’s such a beautiful New York day today. Maybe I’ll head down to the farmer’s market in Union Square… or maybe I’ll just watch some more Mad Men. Who knows, regardless muffins will probably be involved.

For a truly hilarious The New York Diet, read The Daily Show Wyatt Cenac’s entry here.

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Christmas crafting!

It all started with this picture my sister Christine found on Pinterest…

Over Thanksgiving, we were not only busy with Pie-fest (evidence found here and here) but we also decided to take on Black Friday shopping and a Christmas craft project. One of the three had a serious consequence on my bank account (I’m that sucker that equates 50% off to mean ‘I can buy twice as much!’). Most good people see Black Friday as a chance to swipe deals on Christmas gifts for others… I am a heathen.

After our early morning shopping, we decided the best thing to do would be to change into our sweats and commence the Christmas decorating/crafting! This project is a Martha Stewart creation so of course, I immediately loved it. We adapted the instructions a bit, though, because my parents prefer not to have too many holes nailed into their front door. Here’s the step-by-step process of our Christmas crafting… with the final beautiful result at the end!

Door Wreath Trio (all supplies bought at Michael’s)

  • 3 18-inch wreaths
  • 5 ½ yards (3 inches-wide) ribbon (2 yards reserved for bow)
  • U-pins
  • 3 medium Command Strips
tools:
  • scissors 
  • clear packing tape
  • measuring tape
  • felt tipped marker
  • stapler

(1)  Attach a 6-7 foot (depends on height of your door) ribbon length at top of door with a strip of tape. Fold the bottom end of ribbon in half lengthwise, and snip at an angle to create a notch.

(2)  Hold wreaths up to ribbon to determine desired positions. Mark positions on ribbon with marker. Attach each Command Strip at each mark, behind the ribbon. Gently cut a cross-shaped slit at the marks made on the ribbon so that each hook can poke through.

(3)  Cut three 1-foot ribbon lengths to wrap around the top of each wreaths.

(4)  Fasten at back with U pins. Cut a horizontal slit on the back of each ribbon.

(5)  Take 2 yards of ribbon and make a bow for the top wreath. Sadly, Martha does not give very good directions for this. I just kinda folded the the ribbon back-and-forth and stapled the center. I then took another 6-inch piece of ribbon, wrapped it around the center and stapled it twice in the back. Once the bow is made, attach to a wreath, securing with a U pin.

(6)  Hang onto the hooks through the slit cut on the back of each wreath. Look back and admire your instant Christmas cheer!

So, WHO WORE IT BEST??



because a thankful heart is a happy heart…

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I hope that like me, you find yourself surrounded by the company of friends, family and the scent of wonderful aromas from the kitchen. I feel I have been so blessed this year… overwhelmed but blessed!

In addition, I came home Tuesday to a new toy: this dSLR Canon T2i camera! Quite a splurge for myself but I’ve been shutter happy ever since. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the pics I’ve taken so far… more to come after the holidays!

xo Margaret

bedroom makeover!

For the last several weeks, I’ve been hard at work redesigning my new bedroom. It’s been quite a process. After sleeping on an air mattress the first week and living without any furniture for the next two, I am proud to say that my bedroom is now complete! It’s no Extreme Makeover, but I’m quite proud of the transformation that came from these two tiny hands.

BEFORE

Mama Choo said: 'That room IS small!'

don't you like my luggage nightstand? so chic.

What I did:
  • paint room– color: Benjamin Moore Excalibur Gray 2118
  • took down wall shelves
  • assembled furniture (headboard, bookcase, dresser all assembled by yours truly. thank you college degree.)
  • hung curtains
  • hung up mirror, picture frames, wall hooks
 
What I bought:
  • IKEA mattress
  • Target headboard, dresser, bookcase, curtains (Target has such AMAZING shipping! I may write them a thank you letter.)
  • Martha Steward duvet cover
  • Martha Stewart quilt
  • pillow cases (white: Martha Stewart, purple: Hotel Collection)
  • I ♥ Martha Stewart
  • IKEA mirror
  • posters/pictures (all from art.com) & frames (Target and IKEA)

and with a little pixie dust… Voila!

AFTER

So what’d ya think?! Here, I’ll take y’all on a little tour…

bed and vanity area

opposite wall (yes, that's a monogrammed lunchbox.)

just to the left: on top of my dresser

 

to the right of my bed, probably my favorite picture.

I think my taste is rather simple and minimalist. So while I may eventually hang a couple more pictures or add a vase of flowers, for the most part I’d say my new room is quite cozy enough for me. And for a month’s span of time, I’m pretty darn happy! This bedroom makeover certainly had its highs and lows, but as I lie on my comfy bed finishing up this post, I realize New York City is slowly starting to feel (and look) like home…

bedroom inspirations

channeling my inner-Nate Berkus. unfortunately i don’t have his access to Oprah’s checkbook. as i find myself moving around quite often these days, i’ve gotten used to revamping my place. but since i’m setting roots in this new apartment for a while (hopefully) i really need to get some stuff that i’ve been putting off. for instance, things like… a bed.

it’s been a fun process of planning and shopping. i’m calling the theme of my new bedroom French Lavender, an amalgamation of soft grays, purples and whites with accents of fun colors. very simple yet plush.

the challenge is that my bedroom is small even by Manhattan standards and thus everything in it needs to be beautiful yet extremely functional. i’ll be updating you on a post of the BEFORE and AFTER (and the entire process inbetween). anyone wanna join me for a painting/assembling furniture party?

blair waldorf's room on gossip girl. this is how every room should feel.

wish me luck!

fun fact: did you know the only difference between the words gray and grey is that the former is the American spelling while the latter is the English spelling. fascinating huh?

update: Bedroom Makeover post can be found here!

i ♥ nashville

dear nashville,

if ever i were to truly call a place home, it would be nashville. a beautiful city full of all the conveniences of a big city and the warmth of a small town, nashville encompasses the best of the south. while known for its country music and fried chicken, there’s so much more to nashville than that. and now that i don’t live there, my recent visit made me miss it even more. so if you’ve never visited this wondrous city, here are some of my favorite spots.

hope y’all enjoy! xo
 
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prime 108 in union station hotel
1001 broadway
(615) 726.1001

my sister promises that when we grow up she will buy this hotel just so we can have brunch here every day. set in an old railway station in downtown nashville, the architecture and interior of the building remind you of setting foot into a gothic cathedral. it’s a great way to treat yourself or someone special to a high class experience at a relatively low price (most dishes are under $15).

my favorites are their crab cake benedict and silver dollar blueberry pancakes.

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sambuca
601 12th avenue south
(615) 248.2888

for a swanky meal set in the swanky gulch, sambuca fits the bill. i’ve celebrated both my past birthday and graduation at this restaurant and at each occasion both the food and service were top-notch. the menu is heavily seafood based with latin and asian influences but there’s something for every palette. dishes such as the shrimp & crab dip and miso sea bass are amazing but i always wait to hear the specials of the night. they’re usually just too good to pass up. if the food wasn’t enough, every night there’s a live band that is guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.

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monell’s
1235 6th avenue north
(615) 248.4747

if you (and your stomach) are in for a good home-cooked marathon, look no further than monell’s. the atmosphere is family style which means you’ll find yourself at a large table passing baskets of biscuits and bowls of banana pudding with strangers. but by the end of the meal, you will all share the kindred bond that can only come from making beautiful food babies.

each night monell’s features weekly specials ranging from spinach lasagna (my favorite) to bbq ribs along with the everpresent fried chicken. but make sure to save room for the banana pudding. it’s beyond blissful.

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fido
1812 21st ave south (hillsboro village)
(615) 777.FIDO (3436)
 
i cannot tell you how many times i’ve sat at fido proofreading a term paper or cramming for an exam. but the truth is i usually tried to find an excuse to ‘study’ here just to eat their delicious goodies. it’s part art gallery, part hipster hangout with a coffeeshop core. from breakfast to dinner, they offer a variety of first-class nosh, including many veggie friendly dishes. make sure to indulge in their unique bakery selection as well which offers goods such as beet-chocolate chip muffins and bagel concoctions. 
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the stage
412 broadway
(615) 726.0504

if i am downtown, i will inevitably find myself at the stage at one point of the night. it’s mostly filled with out-of-towners and tourists but i love the place. the band is ALWAYS amazing and the openness of the two-story bar keeps you from feeling like you’re sweltering in a smoky dive. if the line at the front is too long, go to the somewhat-dark, totally safe alley behind the bar and get in through the back entrance. there’s usually no wait, and you’ll just feel so darn honky-tonk cool.

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big bang
411 broadway suite 201 (upstairs)
(615) 747.5851

with employees wearing t-shirts that say ‘bang this,’ this dueling piano bar provides a really low-key environment with tongue-and-cheek humor. the two pianists who sit face-to-face behind grand pianos will take any song request from beethoven to lady gaga mixed with their own comedic riffs in between. unlike most downtown bars, there is a cover charge of $6 (which is completely worth it). but on a slow night around 1am, i’ve gotten in without paying.

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frist center for the visual arts
919 broadway
(615) 244.3340

nashville is not known for its art scene but the quaint venue of the frist center hosts many traveling exhibitions. this means that there’s always something new and interesting to see. on my last visit, they were showcasing an exhibit solely dedicated to the hindu god vishnu. the building itself, once a post office, is a renovated art deco structure and a work of art itself.  i had the chance to volunteer here during college and can say that the people who work here are truly dedicated to enlightening your experience with art free of any pretense or formality.

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belcourt theatre
2102 belcourt avenue
(615) 383. 9140

i love films. and when i’m in the mood to see something a bit off the beaten path, i always go to the belcourt theatre. an intimate space that showcases indie and foreign films, there’s always something to stretch your cultural knowledge. another plus, they serve booze at the concession stand!

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jack daniel’s distillery
280 lynchburg highway, lynchburg, tn
(931) 759.4221

when in paris, you take a day trip to see versailles. when in nashville, you take one to the jack daniel’s distillery.

found about 1.5 hrs south of nashville in lynchburg, tn, the jack daniel’s distillery will make a whiskey lover out of you. the tour is completely free and walks you through the entire process, from water to whiskey. the tour guides are always hilarious, just don’t mention the cursed words: jim bean.

        

it’s not easy being green

i admit, living green is not something that comes easy to me. i like long, hot showers and eating off-season strawberries year round. but anyone who has spent time in another country can attest to the fact that americans waste resources. a lot. and i think we can all agree that making an effort of conscious living helps us appreciate the many luxuries we often take for granted.

the problem with many green-living tips is that they can be inconvenient, expensive and overall annoying. some are relatively easy (switching to energy saving light bulbs), while others are a nuisance (the sudless natural, organic dish detergent i bought at trader joe’s). here are some green tips that have been both easy and effective for me:

1) travel mug.  anytime you bring in your own tumbler or travel mug to a participating Starbucks, you get 10 cents off your drink every dayhttp://www.starbucks.com/responsibility HOLLA! plus travel mugs keep your favorite morning pick-me-up hotter for much longer.

2) unplug those unused chargers! i’m guilty of not doing this on multiple occassions. my brother, the energy warden, is always scolding me for leaving my chargers plugged in, sucking out what he calls ‘vampire energy.’

3) byob. your own bags of course. reusable bags are so convenient. not only do they hold much more, they’re cheap and don’t leave plastic lashings on your arms and hands. pretty much every store sells them now– the hardest part is remembering to take them with you on your shopping trips! make sure to keep them near your purse/keys or stash them in your car so you’ll always have them ready to go. i usually keep one in my purse at all times, just in case.

4) vegetarian-for-a-day. while i’m a full-time vegetarian, i understand this is not realistic for everyone. so pick one day a week (meatless mondays, tofu tuesdays), or even just one meal devoted to a veggie-friendly lifestyle. there are so many great vegetarian recipes out there; some of my go-to dishes are eggplant parmesan and tofu tacos. who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself a new favorite recipe!

5) send an e-card! written letters and cards carry a certain nostalgia with them, but they use up lots of paper. on that someone special’s special day, send an e-card and save both money and a tree. many sites such as http://www.hallmark.com/online/product/ecards/ and http://www.bluemountain.com/ have free e-cards for all occasions that are interactive and can be personalized with your own photos!

feel free to leave some of your own green living tips!