Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Feel Like A Vampire

Maybe they ought to switch Halloween to December up here in the Northeast because it seems to be a ripe time for vampires. When I wake up, there is a smidgen of light peeking through my building windows. Off I trot to school in the light, but as a leave school, even at 3:45, the sun is setting. At 4:15, it's completely dark. Not dusky friends, pitch dark. Should I eat dinner or have an after school snack?
It's craziness this 9 hours of sunlight I am seeing each day! I never quite feel like the sun is out shining brightly either. It's always in-between rising and setting. During this point in the year, I never know whether to set up a coffin or a Christmas tree!?
Looking forward to warmer, sunnier days when I am cruising with my family over Christmas break in the Caribbean. I will tell the sun then how much I appreciate it's warmth, light, and cheery face each day! Until then, it's viles of blood and classic black capes for me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ear Assaults

I have been thinking about noises quite a bit lately. There is no doubt that in NYC I hear a multitude of sounds each day, and night for that matter. Trash trucks at all hours, sirens, more sirens, car honks people moving about in my apt building, rain falling onto my window AC, and I consequently have bought a white noise machine to whisk me off to sleep each night by drowning it out.

However, there are some sounds one can't avoid. Just today I was walking from the shuttle to the 2 train in Times Square. As I made that 30 sec walk, I experienced five assaults on my eardrum. They were: a rock band jamming, a Santa ringing his bell, a man literally shouting about Jesus to me, another man shoving a flyer in my face, and the all too familiar sound of a train screeching to a halt. I needed a drink by the time I reached 72nd street.

Another intriguing sound is the radiators in NYC apartments. They are in a league of their own when it comes to heating devices. Mine sounds like crickets, it's just like camping in the summer. All I need is some mallows to fire up. However, mine is a melody compared to my boyfriend's radiator. His sounds like someone is coming through the wall with a jackhammer. The sound is somewhat like a hammering on metal pipes. It makes the typical steaming and hissing sound like an absolute symphony. Apparently, this is a common problem among apt dwellers. Click here for a sound bite of the noise:

All these noises are a bit crazy but they are just part of this wonderful city's charm!
I love this little monkey staying warm next to a radiator. Hopefully, it's not a loud one! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Veggin' Out

Apparently I have been veggin' out lately because it's been more than a month since I blogged. Geez, sorry about that! The fall has been a bit of a blur. It's almost Turkey day? How did that happen?

Speaking of turkey, I have been doing some serious listening on my subway rides to a book called "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Forre. And let me tell you, learning about the ways factory farms raise and abuse animals, the environment, workers, and even the consumer has been eye opening. It's not easy to listen to fun facts about chickens getting drug through electric shock baths half alive while you're trying to remember to switch trains. Whew, little stressful!

I know what you're thinking. Ugh yeah yeah, got it Katie, heard it and don't want to know one more thing about it. I know, I didn't either. It took me a few months to get up the courage to read this book that my sweet friend Elodie suggested to me. But I did and it confirmed many a concern I had at a young age about McDonalds Chicken nuggets. Its really shocking that all these horrible things are happening to the meat we are consuming everyday, and no one is talking about it.

So I am officially a vegetarian. Its big, I know. But I am ready, and it really only means I can eat everything, except meat. I have already survived a BLT party with success! So don't worry about me! In the mean time, if you have any good veggie recipes, send them my way, please!!

Fun Factory Farm Fact: 99% of meat sold in the US comes from a factory farm, even when it says "farm raised" or "antibiotic free." Don't let that fool you.

I won't turn this into a crazy, meat-eater hating blog. Promise.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sandie Spirit

I found that I am on a two week lapse of happenings, so two weekends ago was the Hampton's Half Marathon. My good friends, Susanna & Jay, from high school cross country, and I decided to have a little reunion! It had been 9 years since we all ran together at Amarillo High School, home of the Sandies. (Yes, that is a frightening tornado of sand above, very intimidating figure.) So we ventured out on the Long Island highway on Friday evening. After a few hours of stand still traffic and catching up, we arrived in Riverhead. The next day, we awoke to the soothing sounds of Jay's alarm at 5:45 am! We put on our matching outfits and ventured through East Hampton to our race location.

"We're running together, we declared." "Just think of it as a long fun run," Susanna said. The gun went off and the "fun run" began. Let me confess that I had only run 10 miles at the peak of my training, which had pretty much ended two weeks before the race because school was back in again. So...off we went to try to run 9 minute mile pace and beat two hours. "Ha, a lofty goal, I will be running by myself by mile six," I thought. And when mile six came, I was feeling the 8:45 min/mile pace. Susanna & Jay were the most encouraging race partners one could ever ask for! Susie even ran ahead EVERY mile to take a picture of Jay and I. It's interesting to watch the progression of those pictures, a little more tired each time.

I hit the wall several times, and thankfully, to my partners, kept running. They never left me, even after many encouragements from me to run on ahead so I could lay down and play dead. Such sweet friends! We all finished under 2 hours! My time was 1 hour, 59 min, 57 sec. On the dot!

We headed back to the city to celebrate our run with naps, cuban food, and an early bedtime. Susanna literally laid her head down at the bar, so we called it a night! What a sweet weekend with friends that I couldn't hold any more dear! So thankful for running memories past and present with them!

mile 1, feeling good!

mile 9, not so peppy anymore


all cleaned up after the race

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

original plans for the house, written on a linen scroll

obsessed with these floors!

This Old House

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my boyfriend's friends, Dave & Liz and their twins, in Massachusetts. They live in a small town, population 5000, in the middle of the state. We arrived really late Friday night and when I awoke, it was fall. For reals fall. Changing leaves, crisp temperatures, and the smell of pine in the air.

As I lay in bed, I began to take in my surroundings from a somewhat hazy climb into my bed the night before. I saw a beautiful study, filled with light that danced off original wall paper, and two french sliding doors. Above me was a multi-domed light fixture that must have been original to the house.

I began to hear stirrings above me and the little feet of their 2-year old twins, Will & Ted. They came down for Cheerios and toast while the guys got Liz & I giant chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins from the bakery down the road. I began to wonder around the house and realize I was not staying in a new one. Everything was so beautiful and old and authentic. We took a tour of the two story house complete with two attics and a basement, which holds a twenty foot well, original to the late 1800s when the house was built. I will let the pictures speak for themselves. It's hard to describe it's magnificence with words.

After the tour, we went apple picking, toured a colonial village, and headed for home. There we feasted on apple pie (with cheese & icecream), hamburgers, & sweet potato fries. It was wonderful! The next day, we woke up for more pie and then took a walk through this gorgeous New England town. It was a memorable weekend and a great way to begin fall.

old fashioned pantry, maybe my favorite room

original wall paper

love the light here

apple pie perfection

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Only in New York...

After a relaxing and wonderful Labor Day weekend of lounging at the beach and watching the US Open, I had a rough start to the week. It began on Monday evening after my guest had gone home, and I had cleaned up and was resting before the first day of school the following day. I was lazily reading on my bed when out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. A bed bug. Yes, the bug that all urban dwellers dread worse than the smell of August garbage or spotting a rat on the street. I knew immediately it was a bed bug because there are pictures of those little monsters plastered all over the subway warning us.
I quickly picked up said bug and put him in a tupperware container and then inside a gallon ziplock. I called my boyfriend, freaking out as usual about bugs, and explained the harrowing situation. He calmly instructed me to look under my mattress, inside the sheets, ect. I checked and saw nothing. Could it be that this was a rogue bed bug? I guess I would know in the morning. "Don't worry he said, they don't come out until they sense a warm body." Very comforting thought.
I went to sleep, itching already, dreaming about bugs and awoke pleasantly to find not a bite at all. No sign of bugs under my mattress or in my sheets. I went to school after checking the freezer where I had stashed said bug to kill it dead, which I did. Everyday last week, I checked for bugs and still have not seen another one. Maybe, just maybe, I escaped the beagle smelling bed bug dog...hopefully. I will keep you informed.
The next night, I awoke at 4 am to the sounds of my passionate neighbors. Not pleasant, but not unheard of in pre-war apartments with thin walls. Whatever, I put my pillow over my head and drifted back to sleep. Then, I heard a banging noise outside my window and opened my eyes to see a man standing outside my window on the fire escape. (This is one of my biggest fears that someone will break in and kill me or rob me from that window, even though I keep it locked tight.) My heart started beating a million miles an hour, I grabbed my phone to call 911, flipped on my light, and heard a loud banging sound and laughing into my adjoining apartment. Yes friends, that was my crazy neighbors, having sex on my fire escape at 4 am. After my heart slowed down, I sort of chuckled at how strange and yet typical these things are in this crazy city.
Hopefully my nights will settle back down this week! :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

U.S. Preppy

This past weekend my sweet friend, Megan Frazee, came to visit for the long weekend. We had a blast! Being a foodie herself, we checked out the Green Market in Union Square and bought beautiful things for dinner. We made fried goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms, no words for how fun those were to make and eat! Then we had an heirloom tomato & fresh basil pasta dish to accompany. Fresh peaches, pretty flowers and tasty pretzels were all enjoyed from that little market of goodness!

Then, the next day we went to the US Open @ Arthur Ash stadium. (This is what I set out to write about, but got sidetracked by those squash blossom memories.) The US Open was my first ever tennis match to watch and it was quite delightful! Reading "Open" by Andre Agassi is as close as I got to the pros before.

Here are some of my take away points on the evening:

-There are preppy guys EVERYWHERE! I have never seen so many popped collars and Sperrys in one place. Girls, if you're looking for a date, I have got a killer recommendation for you.
-It's a very calm crowd, no enthusiastic chanting in tennis. You can hear the generators in the stadium, its so quiet! If it gets too loud, the ref says, "thank you, thank you" aka shut up!
-Preppy sponsors: Want water? Have an Evian! Want ice-cream? Ben & Jerry's is there to serve you. Want a souvenir t-shirt? The Ralph Lauren store is open for biz.
-It took me two years of tennis lessons and a U.S. Open match to understand how they score that silly game!

Great weekend of eating & preppy sports!

US Open!

Chinese food in Flushing before the match...very authentic!

Time to go home...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

prep-thank you Aunt Lisa for my creme brulee torch!

walking through the city with all our stuff

meeting other diners in the subway

Claire & me

meeting spot
Diner en Blanc

Mid July, as I was sitting in Lynchburg, Virginia, I noticed a NY Times article on my coworker's Facebook about Diner en Blanc. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and read about it here (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/dining/a-pop-up-paris-picnic-is-coming-to-new-york.html?pagewanted=all). The short version is that it's like a flash mob WHITE picnic in the summer that is studded with elegance. It's been going on in Paris for thirty years and is quite the hot invitation. They have had dinners at Notre Dame, the Louvre, ect, but the location is always kept secret until the night of the dinner. Over 10,000 people attend each year, but for the first ever NY Diner en Blanc, only 1000 guests were invited.
Being that I am a foodie, love the French, and am always game for anything New York, this was right up my ally. I had to go! Luckily, my coworker was the head honcho organizer, and put me on the friends/family list. I was quite surprised and delighted by that because I didn't even ask her. (Although my sweet friend Claire was begging me too!)
Anyway, we got into the big event and it occurred this past Thursday. It was amazing! Claire & I planned our little hearts out. Not only do you bring your own picnic dinner, but you have to bring a table and chairs. (Along with a white table cloth, white glass dishes, wine glasses, water goblets, candles & flowers for the table, and an umbrella for the 70% chance of rain that we had evening.)
So we hauled all those things to the meeting place downtown, my least favorite part. Walking in humidity, hauling chairs on the subway elevator that smells like death, all while wearing a white dress and heels, not so fun. BUT we made it to the meeting spot and then walked to the secret location. It turned out to be in the World Financial Center Marina in Battery Park and was just wonderful. And by some miracle from God, it didn't rain! The pictures sort of speak for themselves, but being there was incredible. We set up our table, ate our delicious food, and made friends with other diners in our group. The played great jazz & handed out white balloons for our chairs. Here is what we had to eat:

First Course: Tomato tarts with creme fraiche & Caramelized onion tarts with gorgonzola cheese
Second Course: Roasted Chicken with herbs, rosemary & lemon risotto, roasted summer vegetables, and baguette
Third Course: Raspberry creme brulee with coffee
And of course...Wine!

Thanks to Claire, Levi, & Pat for making it a great night! Such an amazing experience and memory. Those French really know how to throw a party!

table set up

the waving of the napkins meaning, "it's time to eat!"

first course

my sweet date

@ night

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kiersten, the okra frying expert!
Southern Picnic

My sweet friend Sarah Beth moved to England last week to be with her boyfriend, and our whole community group was sad to see her go! So, in her honor, my friend Claire threw her an indoor picnic. It wasn't just any picnic though, it was a southern spectacular! I walked into Claire's apt to the smell of okra frying and champagne being popped. About 20 of us gathered around a picnic blanket on the floor and ate our hearts out. We had fried chicken, TWO pounds of fried okra, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and pasta salad. Then we had banana pudding and key lime pie for dessert! Amazing feast!
The only uncomfortable part was that when you pack 20 people and 2 pounds of frying okra into a New York City apartment, it gets a bit spicy! The AC was a popular meeting spot! It was funny to watch guests migrate to Claire's high powered AC. :)
Hats off to Claire for pulling off another spectacular shindig with all the bells and whistles! There is nothing that girl forgets from flowers to toasts! And goodbye to sweet Sarah Beth, you left with a bang girl!
AC love!
Fried Okra! Mmmmm!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Attention Readers! I have got a book for you!! My mom recommended it to me this summer and it's been enlightening to say the least. It's called "Columbine" by David Cullen. The book chronicles the story of the shootings at Columbine High School, from day 1. Cullen was a reporter that studied Columbine for ten years. He interviewed hundreds of people, studied reports, the boys' journals, and lived through it himself. I learned so much about this event that I thought I knew everything about. So many myths surround the shooting and it's incredible to discover what was going on inside the minds of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. A little bit of a downer at times, but so interesting! Read it, you'll love it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sarah & Eric's Wedding

After 26 years of knowing, growing up with, and loving Sarah Halsey, I got to see her get married yesterday. What a beautiful day!

As you may know, I am on my summer whirlwind tour. I last blogged in Lynchburg, VA, and whew, am I glad that segment is over. Two weeks of intensives in that town about killed me, but thankfully I got to spend the last week in Wyoming with my mom’s family. We first stopped in Castle Rock, CO at my Aunt Andee’s house and had a lovely evening. The view from her porch is one of my all time favorites, and it was a real treat to be in some cooler temps. Next, we drove up to Cheyenne, WY for a visit at Aunt Gay’s house. I spent a couple weeks in Cheyenne every summer growing up, so it was fun to visit after a five-year absence. I have lots of wonderful memories of grandparents, cousins, and Frontier Days. Gay’s son, Scott, has two little ones and we spent some fun time with them at the pool! Scott and Christy are amazing parents, I have never seen such a polite three year old. I think her manners are better than most adults.

On Wednesday, we headed up to Wheatland, WY aka Wheaterville, population 3500. My cousin Sarah planned a beautiful backyard wedding for Saturday. So, we spent the rest of the week visiting, setting up, buying ice, and watering plants. The Halsey’s yard was gorgeous! We had a big party on Friday with live music and lots of catching up. The wedding was at 10 am the next morning. My brother Ben officiated the wedding. He is known to be a bit of a family clown and my cousin wanted the person marrying her to be someone she knew and loved. So, Ben, recently ordained at the American Fellowship Church, did the wedding. He’s available for the next year if you need his services for weddings, funerals, or even vow renewals. J He was perfect, except for one little slip. He said, “Sarah and Erica, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Everyone got a chuckle out of it and it was great! A lovely brunch complete with lots of Prosecco ensued and it was a blast! Sarah & Eric are a great couple and I see nothing but happiness in their future. It’s fun to celebrate a couple like them!

Headed back to Amarillo today and then Dallas next weekend before I head north. Looking forward to getting back to my beloved city. Going to have to change the name of my blog if I stay away too much longer!

Rev. Ben

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Virginia is for .... Intensives?

Yes, I am in Virginia. Not Virginia Beach mind you, but right smack dab in the middle of the state, in Lynchburg. The birthplace of Chapstick, J. Crew, and Liberty University where I have been studying the past few days. I am working on a master's degree in school counseling at Liberty, and must complete some intensive classes for my license. So, I am here taking two classes, each a week long.
I flew in last week to the booming airport, picked up my bags at baggage claim one, the one and only, called a taxi and headed to the Extended Stay America. Not the fanciest digs for sure, but it's close to campus and has been ok. There is this sketchy recycled air smell that I can't quite shake though.
The first week was pretty successful. I got a lot of classwork done and met some sweet people. Thats the thing about teaching classes, always nice gals to hang out with. I got to visit some of those food chains we don't have in NYC like Chick-Fil-A and Arbys, which was fun. I even found friends to take me to Target and the J. Crew outlet store. I have no car here so I feel a bit like a prisoner in the Extended Stay, but people are very kind to drive me around. I try to walk places too, but that just seems strange outside of New York.
As I enter week two, I would say I am more than ready to be done. The hours spent in the Extended Stay typing assignments, eating crappy food, and sleeping on non-feather pillows are starting to get to me. I was so happy to blog just so I didn't have to use APA format for a minute.
There are so many unique things about NY that you take for granted when you live there. Not being able to walk to amazing food, hop over to the Hudson for a run, or jump on a subway to get around has been difficult to say the least. Although there is a Golden Corral down the block, so why should I complain?
I leave next Saturday to fly to Denver for a week in Wyoming and my sweet cousin Sarah's wedding! Then back to Amarillo for a few days before a weekend in Dallas to finish up this summer odyssey. I will be back on August 2nd, one day before my year anniversary with NYC!
Although this hasn't been the most thrilling way to spend a piece of my summer, it's a good thing for me to remember how blessed I am to live in a city with such diversity, tolerance, opportunities, kind friends, and most importantly, great food at your fingertips! Stay tuned for more updates from the Commonwealth!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Fleeting Phases

As my school year ended today, the word, fleeting, came to mind. Every year things end and they change. Kids advance to the next grade, colleagues move, principals come and go, and it becomes apparent how fading a year can truly be. There are people that you spend everyday with, eat lunch with, laugh with, and share your life with and then bam, it’s over. Sure, some people will be there next year and you’ll see some of your old students in August, but it’s not the same. You can never get that feeling back again.

I know it sounds strange, and maybe it’s a unique feeling to teachers, but it happens every year. You can’t recreate the rapport you had that year again. It’s impermanent and passing and short-lived and vanishing. Maybe that is why it’s such a sweet thing.

Every year of teaching, I have worked with wonderful students and teachers. And I have felt that small drop in my stomach each year, around the beginning of May, when I realize it’s all going to end soon.

I was sure lucky this year to have worked with some beautiful students and teachers. I am so thankful for that family, even though it can’t last forever.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Subway Sweating

An unfortunate incident occurred this past week. I got on the train at 42nd in my normal afternoon commute and almost croaked. The train was crowded but it was 5 pm, so like any good subway rider, I scooted to the middle. To my right, a kid was eating a hamburger. (Fyi-you're not supposed to eat on the train) So, I pivoted to avoid that smell but in return I ran into a very large person that hadn't showered in a while. I was trapped. I thought I might be able to side step the smell, but no, I was stuck. I began to hold my breath but then I couldn't do that for 30 blocks, so I had to keep quietly gasping for oxygen, which in turn caused the chinese gentleman next to me to keep turning around with looks of concern. It was a looong 30 blocks, to where I quickly hopped off and jumped onto another car!

Beware summer tourists, it's super hot on the subway platforms. Large and small, you've got to shower and invest in a mini fan! I have a pink one and use it with pride, those stranger's looks are just looks of jealousy. I am sure of it!

Happy sweating!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The beach!


Nature's Classroom

A couple weeks ago, I boarded a bus full of teary-eyed first graders, and headed off to Long Island for the week! Is it crazy to snatch six year olds away from their parents for a week to frolic in the wilderness? Probably! But my co teacher, Elodie, and I were determined to get these kiddos out to discover nature. Being Manahattanites, they aren't exposed to much nature besides rats and pigeons. So, we coerced all of them to sign up and headed out for a week of learning and experience in the great outdoors!

Our camp was on the North Shore of Long Island next to the beach. The program has camp counselors that do all the classes, so the teachers just chaperon and hang out with the kiddos between activities. It was great! My friends and I took walks on the beach and enjoyed watching the kids in a new environment. I felt like I was on a mini vacation! The kids loved getting dirty, making rockets, doing shark dissections, searching in the woods for bambi, and experiencing Smores! They learned so much! We had a dance party the last night and all the girls dressed up. It was so cute.

It was a great week and made me thankful for all of my camp experiences growing up at Girl Scout camp and Ceta Canyon Methodist Church Camp! You can't ever replace that special time!

correct 7th grade dancing with Michael! full arm extension please!

box turtle-so cute!