Monday, August 29, 2011

I Love Me Some Dinner Parties

Honestly, we all know how much I love going to dinner whether it's out to a new restaurant or over to someone's home. Dinner parties of all types are awesome and I get excited just thinking about them. My friend, An, knows how much I love cooking and she'd recently told me about her friend, Daniel, and how I'd go bananas if I ever saw his kitchen. Well, it just so happens that he decided to throw a dinner party for some friends and he warmly extended the invite to me through An.

First off, Daniel's apartment is just gorgeous. I'd never seen something like it before in how unique the architecture and design was. An was definitely not joking about his kitchen, either. It was amazing. I am waiting ever so patiently for the day when I finally have a big, open kitchen. Oh, to dream... Anyway, Daniel was really gracious in welcoming me into his group of friends and it was truly so generous of him to throw this dinner party for everyone.

During his travels to New Zealand recently, he'd befriended the chef of a restaurant he loved and they've stayed in touch since. He actually hired him to cook for us since he was going to be in town and I thought it was such a fun idea. While Chef Michael got things started, we all mingled and got to know one another over fabulous wine:
I had fun taking some photos of Chef Michael while he worked. Just check out that meat:
I mean, yes please.
We had such a nice time over the course of the night. It turns out Daniel is from Atlanta and two of his friends there grew up with him so it was fun talking about our old stomping grounds. It was really neat hearing different stories and getting to know some great new people:
 Love me some An:
When it was finally time to eat, we were presented with tremendous prime rib, pan potatoes and roasted tomatoes with homemade onion jam:
It was all delicious and such a treat. For dessert, Michael had done a fresh cherry tart that was so light and summery:
What a lovely evening with lovely people. I felt so lucky to be invited and I really hope I'll be asked to come back sooner than later. ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Summit

Being fresh off my trip to Colorado, I can't seem to keep my head clear of I want to be back in the mountains thoughts. I had the most wonderful weekend and I won't soon forget how amazing it is out there. That's all for another post, though. I'm actually writing today because I read a devotion that ironically coincided with my mountainous thoughts and I thought it was just awesome:

The Summit

See not the small trials and vexations of each hour of the day; see the one purpose and plan to which all are leading. If in climbing a mountain you keep your eyes on each stony or difficult place as you ascend, seeing only that, how weary and profitless your climb.

But, if you think of each step as leading to the summit of achievement from which glories and beauties will be open out before you, then your climb will be so different.

Simple, yet profound, words. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Power Of Word Of Mouth

It's tough to believe that I'm into five weeks of marathon training already. I started a little earlier than my marathon pro friends due to a knee injury last December. I wanted to be smart and take each run slow and steady. I was actually quite worried about my knee training in new shoes as I haven't deviated from my one brand for years. I think that's why I have an elevated level of excitement about how amazing my 890's feel. I am genuinely thrilled to have found such an awesome shoe that also does not poorly affect my knee.

All of this said, I've been raving about the 890's to anyone who will listen and not get sick of me, ha! Well, it turns out that the power of word of mouth can be pretty darn effective when you reach the right people. As an aside, I'm quite lucky to be plugged into a solid community of very active people which keeps me both challenged and motivated. I'd wanted to be involved in a group like that for a long time because the same old routine of happy hours and the like gets pretty old. I've always been a very determined individual and, after adding serious cycling to my list of activities, I met several people that have been amazing and become close friends of mine. We try to get outside weekly with each other to bike or run and we even have a variation of a "pushup club" that we do daily which has been awesome. Of course, this crew was my first target when I wanted to share my excitement about the new shoes!

I told them all the specifics of the shoe but I stressed that the lightweight nature did not at all affect the support. That's the most important thing, in my opinion. It turns out a couple of my cycling friends were in the market for new running shoes so they hit the store to try them on and, next thing you know, I get this photo:
My friend, An, took the photo from my original post and did a little adjusting, heehee. She and our friend, Angie, each bought a pair almost immediately after trying them out. I got so excited and had to share that with you all here today. What's really great is that An will be running the San Francisco Nike Women's half marathon in October in her flashy New Balance kicks. I love it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Legendary Levon Helm & Emmylou Harris

I think it's pretty safe to say that New York City's where it's at when it comes to awesome summer events. There is so much going on here all summer, it's tough to pick exactly what you want to do! One of the most fun things, in my opinion, is the Central Park Summerstage series where performances of all kinds are going on all over the city. There are so many interesting events and artists of all genres participate. One of the coolest spots to see live music is outside at the mainstage right in the middle of Central Park. It's really neat because, even when you're out for a run in the park and not attending a show, you can clearly hear the music as you pass by and it's kind of a cool "NY" moment.

When my close friend, Johnny, saw that Levon Helm and Emmylou Harris were coming to town, he jumped at the chance to get tickets for us and I was SO excited. Two legends on one stage, YES. We decided to get there a little early to get a good spot, have a few beers and catch up before the show. Both of us were seriously psyched:
The opening artist was a guy named Hayes Carll and I immediately fell in love with his rich, raw voice. He had such a genuine nature and his tone was significantly unique and soulful. I really enjoyed him (despite Johnny's advice of "never trust a man with two first names"):
Hayes played for a while and then finally it was time for the unforgettable Emmylou Harris:
First off, damn that woman looks good for her age. On top of that, she was lively and energetic which made for such a fun performance. There's truly nobody like her and I was thrilled to see her in such a perfect outdoor setting. Shortly after, Levon Helm and his team of incredible performers came out and it was awesome. I'm sad ol' Levon is covered up by the drums here:
Throughout the show, I became more and more obsessed with his daughter, Amy (the pregnant gal who freaking rocked it up on that stage), and I really think I want to be her. She's a part of the band, Ollabelle, which is absolutely tremendous. I dunno man, she is one talented lady and I could've listened to her all night. I definitely have to note that oh, maybe a quarter into the show, it started downpouring and didn't stop until it was over. I guess that might put a damper on the evening for some folks but definitely not for Johnny and I. We danced and sang like crazy and it was honestly fantastic. How great do we look:  
That was definitely an evening I won't forget. Not only do I still feel giddy that Johnny lives here now but I feel so happy that we have these opportunities to do things like this together. It's really special and adds to my NY memories in a very treasured way.

PS - On an ironic side note, I just realized that I'm writing this post about Johnny and today is his birthday! Happy birthday, my dear friend. I can't wait to celebrate you tonight! :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Balance Knows What They're Doing

So, I've already written about my exciting New Balance sponsorship but I haven't really given an update since then. Part of my sponsorship is to write weekly posts for so I'm actually just taking what I wrote from there and sharing it here with you. It's from August 1st but better late than never, right?

I'm excited to introduce myself as one of fifteen people chosen to be a New Balance Digital Ambassador for the 2011 NYC marathon. I'm so thrilled about this opportunity and I'm really psyched to be part of an awesome online community through I'll be here to answer questions, offer tips, share my training journey and bond over all things running. This will be my first marathon and, being that I truly fell in love with running here in the Big Apple, it means even more that it's New York. What a spectacular race to be a part of and how cool that I get to represent a brand I've loved for years.

One of the most important parts of my sponsorship is to train for/run the marathon in the latest New Balance trainer, the 890 with REVlite. I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my shoes and finally got them yesterday. As I'm already a week into marathon training, I was looking forward to switching up my shoes and hitting the road this morning in my new kicks:
Can I just mention that I normally do not like black sneakers and I seriously love these...! Back to the point. As with any new shoe, it takes a bit to break them in so you can imagine my surprise when my legs felt awesome the entire run. I mean, holy light. These shoes felt like I had nothing on my feet yet I had full support, cushion and stabilization. I'd read all about how the shoe weighs only 9.7 ounces but I was honestly shocked at what great performance they delivered while being so light. I must admit I felt pretty spiffy too out on the road as I kept my eyes peeled for anyone else that might be in the 890's. Nobody caught my eye so I think that sense of pride added a little extra bounce to my step on this super hot day.

I'm very excited to keep you updated as my training journey continues. All I know is day one in my new shoes was great and New Balance sure knows what they're doing. I'm psyched to represent them and I intend to make them proud.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smorgasburg Shenanigans

Nothing says summer like outdoor markets and local produce. If there's anything I miss the most about GA, it's the plethora of farmers markets you can find almost anywhere. Baskets brimming with fresh peaches and corn, rows of tomatoes and squash, piles of just screams summer and I love it. Here in NY, we definitely have our share of terrific markets with staples like Chelsea and Union Square Market or the rise of specialty shops like Eataly, but nothing beats the down home feel of a little makeshift farmers market stand.

As Brooklyn continues to skyrocket in popularity, it gets me excited when an idea such as Smorgasburg is born. Playing off the Brooklyn Flea Market on Sundays, Smorgasburg is an outdoor "market" in Williamsburg on Saturdays showcasing local purveyors of just about everything. I'd read all about it and was anxious for it to open in May so I was psyched to finally check it out. My sweet friend, Rachel, lives in Greenpoint so we decided to meet there and get a group to check it out a couple of weeks ago. What a great day we had!

The concept is a bit different than I'd originally thought in that it's more like a "taste of Brooklyn" kinda thing than it is a farmers market. We used to have those little fairs with "tastes" of different cities back home every year and I always loved it. What's cool is that so many of these folks have come up with the most simple idea yet they've made it remarkable. For example, one guy was selling his homemade ginger ale and tonic water. When do you ever think I HAVE to have a ginger ale? Probably never, right? Well, you would after tasting his incredible stuff. On a different front, this gal had homemade jams that were a mix of interesting and traditional combos like spiced beer or strawberry balsamic. We spent the entire day out there tasting things and meeting people. You don't find me much more in my element than that. It was super hot so before leaving, we all had to try People's Pops. They do fresh, local fruit pops and shaved ice which was exactly what we needed in the heat. What's so cool is that they literally shave the ice by hand. Check this dude out:
I had the strawberry rhubarb which was excellent. The guys were pretty darn cute too which never hurts a small business' cause. ;) It's also quite neat to see the city from a different perspective:
After being out in the sun all day, we were ready to sit and have a beer so we walked over to Spritzenhaus. I freaking love it. It might be one of my new favorite spots. It really was a fun, relaxing day with awesome friends.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lobsterfest 2011

It's embarrassing to be writing a post about 4th of July weekend a month late. However, it's a month to the day that I'm writing about. That ironic fact excuses things in my head. Also, I'm not sure I can even wrap my head around the fact that it's August but whatever.

For some reason, I have always loved 4th of July. I'm not really a patriotic person, I know hardly anyone in the military and I really have no ties in my family to it aside from my grandfather being a fighter pilot. I just love that it's a time where people come together with a common goal of celebrating freedom and the absolute gift that it is. We're more blessed than we could ever imagine and that underlying theme of the day makes me happy. This year is my first since living in New York that I've stayed in town for 4th of July. You can imagine how pumped I was when Suzanne suggested doing a lobster boil on the 2nd to celebrate. Sign me UP.

A couple of days before, Colleen and I went on the hunt for something fun to bring Suzanne and we decided on lobster bibs and towels from Crate and Barrel. They were so cute (and definitely came in handy)! Allison was in charge of making dessert, specifically her homemade brownies. Yum! When we got to Suzanne's, champagne was immediately opened and we proceeded to have the most hilarious and awesome night. The lobsters Suzanne had picked up were gigantic:
Color me excited. She'd done most of the prep work so we were able to visit a good bit before subjecting our lobster friends to their pot of death. Jeff put on amazing music, as usual, and we caught up on all our recent goings on. It pains my heart to think of it but Jeff and Suzanne will be moving to Chicago in the coming months so evenings like this are much more treasured than usual. I can't even talk about that so back to the lobsta. It was fun watching Suzanne do her thing:
Um, that is some plate of lobster:
Their home is really inviting and it's pretty magnificent to dine with a view of the city that's so neat:
Finally, it was time to dig in! I totally love this picture of Suzanne:
She'd also made a fabulous tomato salad and fresh corn but I'm ashamed to say that I got too full to eat any of it:
Actually, we all did. Jeff had even taken down two! Between the spectacular wine, bread and lobster, I just couldn't fit another bite in. Know what there is always room for, though? Wine. We all more than agreed on that.

We stayed until nearly 3am having the absolute best time. I can't even get into the hilarity so I will simply conclude by saying I'm not sure I have laughed that hard, maybe ever. I'll just leave you with this, Jeff: Congratulations, you're my new bitch.