I am a sucker for pumpkin spice (yep, I am one of those ladies who love pumpkin spice lattes and anything pumpkin flavored) so after seeing many posts and reviews about the pumpkin bread from Smitten Kitchen, I decided to make some of my own — and it did NOT disappoint. So delicious and yummy, and so easy to make. I will definitely make this throughout the fall and winter seasons and highly recommend that you all do the same, as well!
* 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
* 1/2 cup neutral cooking oil or melted butter
* 3 large eggs
* 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* Two pinches of ground cloves
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Crunchy, refreshing, tasty, light, and nutty. So good, so good. The salad is great on its own, or combined with other Asian flavors. The creator of this salad, my-sister-from-another-mister, likes to add this with her miso salmon, rice, and scallions. I love it alone or with anything. And even better — it takes only a couple of minutes to make!
Mini cucumbers are delicious plain, but even better with this sesame asian dressing.
I am all over the place with masks — some months I love cloth masks and some months, disposable masks. Current state — I am all about disposable masks. Maybe it is because in NYC, we are constantly wearing masks 24-7, so I want something I can wear and then never see it again…but I don’t love the basic blue disposable masks because they are *TOO* basic. So when a friend introduced me to al-shield disposable masks, it was the perfect combination. They are perfect – a little bit of fashion, but disposable. I don’t feel bad if I lose them (which happens way too often) and I can stuff them in many different pockets and jackets so I never am left without one.
Dots and flowers — how cute and fun are they?
Nothing says pajama party more than luxurious silky pajamas! So last week when a friend was visiting from out of town, she received a pair of Natori Odessa PJs to hang out in. They are bold, jewel toned colors and oh so pretty.
Look at her! So chic and glamorous walking the puppy in these glamorous Odessa pajamas! And of course, she’s the most fashionable person ever, so that helps, too.
Every Wednesday, I drive several hours to visit my sister-from-another-mister for the day. Despite my distaste in driving, I absolutely love and cherish our time together and wouldn’t miss this time in the world. Therefore, I have begun to embrace the time spent in the car. During these hours in the car, I have renewed my love of podcasts and cry / laugh / feel while listening to them. Here are my recent podcasts I have listened to and have *thoroughly* enjoyed. It is never too late to listen to them, they are all so good.
Truly family. I feel so fortunate that our family members are all bonded and glued together and the love is deep. There have been moments when all four of us are on separate calls with each of them — all at the same time. So my weekly drives to visit are essential, a no brainer, and worth every second.
I know you all have probably read a bazillion reviews on hand sanitizer (because I have) but on the off chance you have NOT or don’t know about it, then this post is doing it’s job. DS & DURGA “Big Sur After Rain” Hand sanitizer is the best best best best and there is absolutely NO COMPETITION. It smells delicious, does the work, is a sleek bottle, and even makes you want to use more.
I have always loved the Big Sur After Rain candle — so it was the reason why I tried the sanitizer in the first place. Well, that, and because it got great write ups in the NYTimes.
One of the ways that my husband, Ken, has dealt with the restrictions of life due to COVID, has been playing music outside in Central Park. Once a month over the summer, Ken would organize to gather in Central Park with 1 or 2 musician friends (one being my best friend from childhood, David) and jam out together. He would text a couple of friends that he was going and if they wanted to swing by and bring their own wine and food, or just to drop by. As I was out in Oregon during these “performances,” I never had the privilege of attending the concerts, but it was clear how much happiness, joy, and life it gave Ken. He lived for these evenings as it renewed a sense of hope in him — cheesy as it sounds, it gave him life. The small interactions with strangers, outside (and safe) encounters with friends, and the music itself, made a huge difference to him. So last week, he put together a last minute park gathering and I finally was able to attend.
Ken has “a spot.” It is where he always gathers to play music. It is near Sheep’s Meadow and The Mall. Not too far away from our home, but still a delightful walk nonetheless.
Not that I get much time to read during the school year, but it is a goal of mine to read more this year. So here are the 10 books I would love to read right now!
1. Born a Crime
It sure feels like Fall in New York! Chilly, brisk, windy — aka no longer summer. I always think of the “You’ve Got Mail” quote “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” There is something fairy-tale like about NYC in the fall…so here is what I am currently loving September 2020.
Super Diva — YES!
Doesn’t your heart hurt with the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing this past Friday night? What a legend, a role model, an inspiration, truly a super hero. I can’t stop reading all her quotes and feel sickened and sad by America’s loss. If you haven’t watched the documentary, RBG, available on Hulu, now is the time to do.
Last Thursday, we welcomed the newest member of the Natori Family, Stevie Nicks Natori. Our little 11 week old Cavapoochon pup is so cute and a warm, cuddly, wonderful fun addition to the family. She is also SO MUCH FLIPPING WORK AND OMG I AM SO SICK OF RIDING UP AND DOWN THE ELEVATOR but I know, I know, it will all be worth it. Here are some pictures of her — because puppy pictures make everyone smile, right????
First night with Stevie. And Ken pre haircut.
Sadly, one of my favorite flower companies in New York City is no longer in business. The Groh, which was hands down, my favorite flower place that delivered fresh flowers to my apartment every Monday, has shut down, a victim of the effects of COVID on the economy. I know it sounds silly — but The Groh was phenomenal. Everything about it — it was set up to be a middle man, so instead of me trekking down to the flower district, The Groh would go, and then bundle them up and deliver them to my house. It was waaaaaaay cheaper than a typical florist, and waaaaaay easier than me doing the leg work (yes, spoiled). I loved it so much and miss it already. So after hours searching for some kind of replacement for my Monday joy, I came across Blossr. It is a minimalist flower delivery service that sends flowers on (and only on) Friday. There are not many options, but man, are they gorgeous. I love them so much and I can’t wait to use them again.
Pink Anthuriums. Don’t they look fake???? So gorgeous and unusual.
Thanks to Instagram, I tend to find random and small lines of clothing that I fall madly in love with. The most recent discovery is a pair of shorts from Kas Maria. She has no website, no email, I just DM’d her saying I loved the shorts and voila, transaction. Kassandra (Kas Maria) sews her own designs and I love everything about them. These vibrant, colorful, ever so joyful bright floral shorts made me smile the minute I saw them on Instagram and I love them even more in person.
Patchwork floral shorts — a different fabric on each side of the shorts. Drawstring and high waisted. Comfortable and oh so cute.
As Summer comes to a close and we get ready to go back to NYC (in just a little less than a week), I can’t help but look at all the thousands of photos from picturesque Oregon. Although we do the same thing everyday — run, hike, bike, explore, repeat, I am ever so thankful that we get to do it in such a beautiful state. If you have never visited Oregon before, put it on your states of places to visit. It is truly beautiful — lush forests, vibrant greens, rivers, creeks, Ocean, dunes, sand, hills, mountains. ExplOREGON and adOREGON. Truly. Here are some pictures:
Fall Creek. A little slice of heaven that the kids like to explore, and never anyone there.
This summer, I have spent hours needle pointing — even though I have a love hate relationship with it. It is meditative, creative, and gets my mind off of everything (COVID, NYC, school this fall, being away from friends, etc…) — but it is also incredibly frustrating as it takes FOREVER. That said, after I finished three projects, I didn’t know what to do with them. Do you frame them and hang them up? Make a boring pillow? Just felt incomplete and missing the final touch. SO I MADE THEM INTO BOOKMARKS. They went from boring to full on FUN PIZAZZ LIFE OF THE PARTY BOOKMARKS. They took forever to sew the edges, put on a backing, whip stitch it all together — and they don’t look perfect — but I really love them! They are truly a labor of love!
The three final products. The next project is in the mail arriving tomorrow — Veuve Cliquot Champagne! Can’t wait to start that and make yet another bookmark!
As an activity, we went apple picking and brought home 18 pounds of apples — not very much in comparison to the 40 pounds of peaches from a couple weeks ago — but still enough that I knew I had to do something with them before they rotted. I know, seems backwards, buy to get rid of ??? Right, like as soon as I bought the apples, first thought was HOW AM I GOING TO GET RID OF THEM? The best trick is to make dried apples — so super duper easy — but it requires time — almost 12 hours in a low heat oven. A lot of time.
The apple of my eye, holding an apple.
Sometimes I think it is May, sometimes I think it is August 2021. Basically, I have no idea what day or month we are currently in. So here is what I am currently loving RIGHT NOW. Apparently it is August 2020.
1. LoveShackFancy x Bandier Bike Shorts
I am jumping on the bike short trend…fell in love with these super girlie floral workout shorts. I personally love them. My kids on the other hand keep telling me that my behind looks big and why I am wearing them……gotta love their honesty…..and I still love them.
This past weekend, we finally completed the mural. Originally, we were only going to do the center part of the cement wall, but with the abundance of time and the fact that the cement wall is quite ugly, we thought it would be fun to complete the whole wall.
Late Spring, I went on a mad search for the perfect summer hat — I wanted something practical, comfortable, chic, and unique. It was way harder than expected as I didn’t just want a simple straw hat. I wanted something with a little more flair, personality, and character. So when I came across Teressa Foglia — I instantly fell head over heels. The first one has some embroidery details, straps, cowboy vibe. I loved it so much that when I was in LA, I made an effort to go to her Malibu store and fell in love with Teressa (holy cow, chic and beautiful as ever) and ALL OF HER HATS. I walked away creating another summer straw hat — with some leather, flower ribbons, and more of a hipster attitude. After weeks of wearing both hats daily, I purchased TWO MORE straw and basic hats that the kids and I have been using on all of our hikes, bikes, river, water adventures.
This is my first hat — but most recent picture (yesterday at Crater Lake). It has a cowboy look but I love the detailing and the straps.
I spend a lot of time in Oregon on designated runner’s trails, which have lots of signs (other than keep 6 feet away and maintain social distancing) that are little inspirational quotes. Throughout my summers in Oregon, I always smile and laugh when I see them. To some they are just words, but to me, they are motivation and inspiration. No matter how silly or short they are, just knowing someone out there is cheering us on, makes all the difference.
I love this quote. It definitely brought an extra bounce to my run that day I read it for the first time.
My COVID hobby of needlepoint is back in to my life again, thanks to the coolest and hippest needlepoint company, Pip and Roo. After my first two designs, I started googling “hip needlepoint” and sure enough after many duds, I found Pip and Roo. Unfortunately, as everyone and their mother started needlepointing during COVID (along with baking banana bread and bike riding), it was impossible to find one of their designs as they were sold out everywhere. Thanks to a notification, I finally was informed when they were back in stock so I jumped on it. I made the Rose (Whispering Angel, but of course) over the past three days and I just ordered the Aperol Spritz and I can’t wait to start on that. They are funny, cheeky, cute, and well designed. So many other companies make cheesy and flat out lame and uninspiring drawings….so if you are on the lookout for cool and hip needlepointing, take a look at Pip and Roo!
Night one. I love it — and hate it at the same time — I can’t put it down which is good and bad.
My newest obsession, thanks to my sister-from-another-mister, is “The Last Great American Dynasty” song in Taylor Swift’s newest album, Folklore. It is a song that no matter how many times I listen to it (I am annoying and have listened to it on repeat since I first heard it — in attempt to learn every lyric), I still get goose bumps. GOOSE BUMPS!!! Yup. It is an incredibly gorgeous song with an even richer story behind the words. Taylor Swift created this soothing, sappy, happy, and beautiful song during Quarantine (the whole album!) based on her home in Rhode Island. It is the story of the previous owner, Rebekah Harkness, the heiress with a wild life story who owned Taylor Swift’s home, who lived a big grand life and was unapologetic. She sees herself in Rebekah and sings about it.
Taylor singing away….
Holy shmollllly it is almost August! I feel like it was just February. But nope. End of July here we are! Here is what I am currently loving, enjoy!
1. Exile by Taylor Swift and Bon Iver
Bon Iver has been one of my favorite singer song writer for quite some time — I love absolutely everything he does — whether it is his own music or songs he produces, writes, or is featured in. And this song is exactly that — so good, beautiful, touching, melodic, and I LOVE IT.
This past Saturday, I did something I never thought I would do — I ran a 50K (31 miles). It wasn’t just any ultra — it was an unofficial one. Originally, I had signed up with a childhood friend, CJ, to run the Mt Hood 50K at the beginning of July. But due to COVID, it was canceled. We both decided that even though it was no longer happening, that the two of us would run together creating our own date and route. So for the past several months, I have been training for this ultra. Most ultras happen on trails, hills, mountains, and are flipping hard. And this proved to be true. It was incredibly hard and challenging — all the trails, hills, and long distance — but thankfully I had CJ who is a veteran ultramarathoner (who runs 100K, 50 miles, 50Ks all the time), to help me through it all.
The route. 31 miles in Eugene covers a lot of territory. We did 3 major loops — each ending at the “aid station” aka my parent’s home. Which is where we had our food, refill of water, and bathroom. These stops lasted 2-5 minutes and were crucial. There is no way I could have done it without refilling my water and fuel.
My parent’s house in Oregon has an alley on one side of the house (a great big cement wall) which is an eye sore — especially when there are no plants that hang down on it. So this summer, my dad asked if my niece, Alagna, who is a very talented artist (at the ripe age of 12) could draw a mural on the wall. Since YOLO and I thought it would be a fun project to do with all the cousins, I decided to help with it. It has been SO fun and a lot of work. And god bless my parents who had faith in us to create something fun and pretty!
The night before we started, we went to Home Depot to get the paint and primer. It took WAY longer than expected because someone actually mixes and makes the colors? WHO KNEW?????
Sadly, my favorite undies of all time (I still can’t believe it) will no longer be sold. This loss feels huge to me — feathers undies have been a part of my wardrobe staple since they first came out over a decade ago. I have tried many other undies (all Natori, but of course)…..but have ALWAYS come back to the Feathers ones– they were absolutely perfect in every single way and nothing compares. But now that I can’t find the undies anywhere and have to adapt to this new reality, I went on a search for a new favorite pair. After a lot of trial and error, my new love is the Natori Calm Cotton Brief. They are super cute, light, airy, shapely, and one of a kind. I like how even though they are cotton and briefs, they have a VA-VA-VOOM appeal to them as well. No, they aren’t Feathers hipster undies, but these are my new go-to undies, and I think you should try them, too!