Let the Count Down Begin!

“The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands pointing at each other’s chests: then, recognising each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and set off, side by side, in the same direction.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

We have been waiting for this moment.

So on November 19th, 2010 we will finally stop waiting. We will get to start watching!

142 days my friends!

Brunch

I am a huge Brunch fan. If there was a contest for the best meal, brunch would win by a landslide in my book. Not only are you allowed to sleep in, but you can do so and not miss all of the wonderful delicious breakfast options. However, if you want to wake up early and eat a small breakfast first, that is ok because there are lunch options at brunch too! And if you want to just go crazy and have two breakfasts, GO FOR IT! You can start out with a nice cup of coffee followed up with Bloody Marys and Mimosas. You can eat brunch at 10am (Upper West Side family crowd), 12pm (Midtown and tourists) or 3pm (West Villagiates). There are no rules at brunch.

I, first and foremost, love breakfast food. Growing up, family dinners were a nightly occurence in our house. Most of the time my mom did the cooking, but we were expected to help out with the planning. I was a VERY picky eater growing up, which my parents learned very quickly. So instead of constantly fighting with me to eat the food put in front of me, my mom came up with a better solution. Every week before we did the grocery shopping, we all had to suggest 1-2 meals that we wanted to have for dinner. I had 3 “go tos”: spaghetti, hamburger helper and waffles. Breakfast was great in the morning, but breakfast for dinner – as a kid it doesn’t get any better than that (well maybe ice cream for dinner, but that, as we all know,  is an anomaly). Working in a school, I have the “benefit” of eating lunch in the cafeteria for free. It is funny because the most dreaded day of school lunches for our office is “breakfast for lunch” day. Clearly, as a kid, I would have loved that. Another sad reminder that I am old!

In college, brunch changed from being all about the food, to all about the company. Sitting around the dining hall tables with my best friends, we would catch up on the gossip from the night before. We could make brunch last for hours – especially if we had a paper to write or a test to study for. I miss my college friends the most when Sunday mornings roll around.

Living in New York, you have the opportunity to eat at amazing restaurants. While I certainly eat our for other meals, eating out for brunch is my all-time favorite. Just like a band’s performance of the song “Don’t Stop Believing” is my way of judging their ability level, a restaurant’s brunch menu (and the quality of those dishes) is the best way to rate a restaurant.

On Sunday Matt and I visited Sarahbeth’s on the Upper West Side. I had been there once before with my parents and Abby, but it was Matt’s first time. The menu has a great selection and I was torn on what to order. Last time I ordered the eggs benedict, so I decided to change things up a bit and I ordered the lemon and ricotta pancakes.

Being fron New Hampshire, I am a complete maple syrup snob. While I love pancakes, french toast and waffles, I hardly ever order them at restaurants because they always come with Aunt Jemima or some other nasty immitation syrup. When I was younger I used to bring a small jar of pure maple syrup to sleepovers so that I was prepared for whatever food came my way at breakfast. (Yes, I was THAT kid.) Sarahbeth’s serves all of their “sweet breakfast” dishes with organic maple  syrup. Score one in my book!

The food was great and the atmosphere almost made you forget you were in New York City. I highly recommend this restaurant for anyone looking for a good brunch spot in NYC. Just remember to make revervations because the Upper West Side crowd certainly gets after it early on Sundays.

And if you aren’t planning on visiting the Big Apple anytime soon, don’t worry! They have a location in Key West Florida and an online store: http://www.sarabeth.com/ Sarahbeth’s for all!

Book Club

As a child I was always under the impression that I was a bad reader. Not only was I slow, but I enjoyed reading books that were “young.” As a result, I often found myself choosing other activities over reading: doing art projects, riding bikes outside and cleaning my room. These were activities that I liked and ones that I believed I was good at. It wasn’t until I reached 5th grade that I realized I was a very good reader. I was just living in the same household as someone who was a prodigy reader, my sister.

Abby is an amazing reader. Not only does she read books at a mind-blowing pace, but she also started reading very advanced books at an early age. She read the entire Nancy Drew series before she hit 3rd grade. She finished over 100 of the Baby Sitters Club Books by 4th grade. And she blew through the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by 5th grade. Very quickly, she moved from the “young adult” genre to reading the same books as my mother. While I was working my way through the Goosebumps collection, my sister was reading Mary Higgins Clark novels. On one trip to visit my grandparents, Abby finished all of the books she brought with her for the trip by the second day, so she decided to pull something off of my grandparents’ shelves.  After Abby read more than 100 pages of The Clan of Cave Bear my mother caught on to Abby’s book choice and quickly ended it.  To this day, I still think of that book as “too mature” for me and steer clear of it when I browse the isles.

 

Abby was never without a book and when she was reading you couldn’t pull her away from the stories found within the bound pages of these books. She would get lost in the stories of Billy Coleman and his dogs, Jo March and her sisters, and Anne of Green Gables was one of her most kindred spirits. Trying to entice her in a game of Candy Land or Monopoly became an impossible task if there were unread books around.

Thankfully, I was able to realize that my reading abilities were strong as well. I found friendship with the Box Car Children and the Hardy Boys. I cried alongside Jess Aarons when his best friend Leslie Burke died after slipping off the Bridge that lead to Teribethia. I fought, alongside Annemarie Johansen, against the Nazis to save her best friend in Number the Stars. And I got into trouble with Ramona Quimby and Pippi Longstocking.

    

I have been forced to read more mature books as I’ve grown up; however I am happy to say that I have read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, all 7 Harry Potter Books, and the entire Twilight saga.

Matt has a very different sense of style when it comes to prefered literature than I do. While I will read a Sophie Kinsella novel (author of the Shopaholic series), Matt’s literary preference is anything that has to do with finance. Our bookshelves at home are lined with biographies of Warren Buffet and “thrilling” tales of the stock market’s past ups and downs. Last year he decided to branch out (only slightly) and read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. While it took him months and months to complete this novel, he raved about the stories of Dagny Taggart and Rearden Metal. Eventually he finished the book and convinced me that this was something I had to read.

Reluctantly I put down my “beach books” and picked up the 1,100+ pages of Atlas Shrugged. I lugged the book, which weight close to 10 pounds, back and forth to work.  I started reading the book at a good pace, but slowly lost interest. The story of extreme government control didn’t hold my interest and the fascination of Dagny, the only female character in the novel, wasn’t as appealing to me as it had been to Matt. It was a struggle to continue to read, what I thought was an unrealistic, extreme version of governing, when I knew there were countless other books I would rather be reading.

I plugged along,  knowing that I had promised Matt I would finish this novel. Thankfully, last night at 12:45am, after months and months of reading, I finally closed the pages on Dagny, Hank, Francisco and John Galt for the last time. I have come to two conclusions after reading this novel: 1. I really want a bracelet made out of the blueish green Rearden metal and 2. Matt owes me, big time.

So while I am happy that I finally finished this book, and can move on to more interesting book, I feel as though I lost precious reading time. Oh well, who is John Galt anyway?

 

Sucked in by the Sap

I blame my parents for my addiction to crappy tv. Growing up, not only did we not have cable, but we only have 4 channels on our tv. I grew up on ABC, NBC, CBS and far far too much PBS. While other kids were watching Punky Brewster, 90210 and Melrose Place, Abby and I were watching Mr. Rogers and Square One. We had a limit of 30 minutes of tv each day during the week and an hour or so on the weekends. Reading, playing games and swimming took up most of our time. In truth, I was blissfully unaware of all that I was missing and honestly didn’t mind, or realize, that my childhood (and teenage years) were lacking the quality tv time of my peers.

When I went off to college I started to hear stories about Dawson’s Creek. I felt left out as I never got to meet Dawson, Joey or Pacey. Thankfully, the DVD box set came through for me. I started to form relationships with people my friends had known for years. Rory Gilmore and I became fast friends as we shared the stress of college. The parents on 7th Heaven taught me many life lessons. And I partied with Salinger siblings.

Over the years, my obsession with tv has changed from classic 90s family shows to reality shows. I now spend countless hours watching shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, the Next Food Network Star, and Toddlers & Tiaras. Recently, I have become hooked on to two new shows: Losing it With Jillian Michaels and America’s Got Talent. Both of these shows have one thing in common – they play up the sap.

On the surface these shows are not good. One show follows a family struggling with obesity for 1 week of their lives. Watching over weight people learn how to eat appropriate sized portions and visit a gym isn’t a great plot for a show. The other show scours the country for marginal talent. I think that Winter Follies, the annual talent show at my high school had much more talents acts than this show is able to find. Really the acts are more bizarre than talented. But what draws me into to these shows are the sappy stories. The story of a family overcoming the evils of southern cooking. The story of a boy suffering from epilepsy who has found peace in indoor kite flying. The story of an old watch maker who shared his love of playing the harmonica with the world.

These stories of people, from the most obscure places around the world, I am embarrassed to say, have moved me to tears more than once. So I thank you, sappy reality tv, for allowing me to continue my quest in making up for lost time. Ironically, I do this by sitting in front of the tv, losing time from reality.

My Webmaster

In 2005,  I got the idea in my head that I should start my own company. Armed with my sewing machine and yards and yard of grosgrain ribbon, I started upon the journey now known as “Prep By Molly.”

I turned my parents’ basement into a sweat shop and spent all hours of the day (and night) sewing belts, watches, dog collars, and bags. I would sell these preppy creations to my mother’s friends, my team mates and of course, my sister (who was a frequent buyer). I didn’t create the booming business that I dreamed about, but it was fun and kept me busy (which is hard to do in Bedford, NH).

I soon took my business to the internet and created a website to support the “countless” shoppers that I anticipated.  I my mind, I would be the next J.Crew! I set up a photo shoot in the basement by draping a white bed sheet over our ping-pong table, and started taking pictures of all of my merchandise. After that point, I was stuck. I knew what I wanted my website to look like, but I had no idea how to actually create it. I needed to enlist the help of a “webmaster.”

Thankfully, I found someone who was exactly what I needed. He had the skills to create a basic html website, was used to me ordering him around, and was the right price (free!). Matt”happily” took on the role. As my own personal webmaster, Matt spent a number of weekends creating page after page of brightly colored accessories. At the end of it all, I think I received 5 orders via email. All of the other ones continued to be people who I interacted with face-to-face. While Matt’s efforts didn’t actually pay off, I loved having my own website, and even more, I loved having my own Webmaster!

Sadly, Prep by Molly is only a distance memory, as is the website.

When Matt and I got engaged, I decided that he should be given a few “wedding responsibilities” so that he could feel involved. I tasked him with finding a band and setting up our “wedding website.” Now that our band is signed off on, the role of webmaster has returned!

If anyone has any suggestions for templates or sites that we should look into, let us know! Or should I say, please let me webmaster know.

Update: Matching Donations

On Saturday I posted about my commitment to the Pan Mass Challenge. I wrote about my past experiences, the amazing things that this organization has accomplished and I asked for your support.

My commitment to the PMC unwavering. I am passionate about the ride and the cause and hope to inspire others to share these feelings with me; either through their support or participation.

As I did last year, I will match all donations that are $50 or more, up to a total of $2,000. Additionally, anyone who donates and then posts a comment on my blog, will be mailed a special “Little Things” thank you gift as well.

Thank you in advance for your support. We are “closer by the mile” to finding a cure for cancer.

Pan Mass Challenge

Pan Mass Challenge – 2010

Nearly 3 years have passed since I first decided to participate in the Pan Mass Challenge. A lot has happened to me in those three years: I moved from Boston to New York, I changed jobs two times, and after dating for 8.5 years, Matt and I finally got engaged. Our world has also seen a lot of changes in those last three years: We have a new president; Oprah announced her retirement and the economy took a turn for the worst. Our country has been forced to rethink its priorities and expectations; however, one thing that has remained constant is our desire to improve, both as individuals and as a country.

The Pan Mass is an organization that has been striving for improvement for more than 30 years. Through fundraising efforts, the Pan Mass has raised more than 270 million dollars for cancer research and treatment. Over the years, the survival rate for cancer has steadily risen as the technology, treatments and understanding of this disease has changed and increased. What sets the Pan Mass Challenge apart from other fundraising efforts is their ability to pass 100% of its donations directly on to the Dana Farber Center. With their proven track record and millions of supporters, the PMC has become the most successful athletic fundraiser in the world. It is something that I believe in whole-heartedly and something that has had a very real impact on my family’s life this year.

A few weeks after last year’s PMC my mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. They caught it early, treated it quickly and while her “battle” against cancer was a very real one, it was also a very small dose of the battles that so many other individuals and families are fighting. Although my mother was not treated at the Dana Farber Center, I am certain that the contributions that the Pan Mass, and other organizations like them, have made over the years, have led to large advances in cancer prevention, screening and treatment. Seeing, and experiencing firsthand, the good that can come from something so simple has inspired me to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge for a third year.

This year, Matt, my sister and my mom, will ride with me and we will all be riding the two-day route from Sturbridge to Provincetown.  As we pedal across the state, we will be surrounded by other riders and volunteers, whose lives have been touched by cancer as well. Some of these people will have stories with happy endings and others will have stories that are now only memories. But together, we hope to fight back against cancer. I hope that you can support me in this fight.

Please visit my profile to make a donation here: http://www.pmc.org/egifts/MB0342

525,600 Minutes

“How do you measure, measure a year?

“In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.”

One year from today, I will be marrying Matt. After more than 9 years of dating, this is a big deal! I decided that this was a cause worth celebrating and woke him up nice and early this morning to celebrate. Obviously Matt was thrilled with this decision. The problem was, I didn’t know what to call this “non-anniversary.”

when I got to work this morning I  googled “what is the opposite of anniversary.” Unfortunately nothing of worth come up in the search results. Thankfully, I have a sister who is smarter than google! Below is the text I received from her this morning:

I know that a traditional wedding gift for 1st anniversary is paper, a 10th anniversary is tin and for a 15th anniversary it is crystal. Unfortunately google doesn’t show results for -1 anniversary gifts. I think it must be something like an iPad, a puppy or a shopping spree at Lululemon! I personally think those would all make great gifts. Most couples would just now be getting engaged, and the diamond ring would probably suffice as a present, but Matt, “unfortunately you screwed yourself” and proposed way too early!

I think we will spend the weekend celebrating with a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond to start our registry. I just hope that after that, we are still planning on getting married!

Pleasurable Pain

As an athlete you often find yourself craving the feeling of soreness. After a hard practice, having the inability to lift your arms above your head without wincing in pain is a wonderful thing. Junior year of high school I began lifting weights for swimming. While my coach was well-respected in the world of swimming, I am not sure I totally approved of the weight training that he had us doing at 15 and 16 years old. We would spend 3 days a week in the weight room curling 40 pound weights with our arms and we instructed to add three 45 pound plates on each side of the leg press. We would lift until we failed, and as a result we would spend the follow day limping around. My high school had 4 floors and students were not allowed to use the elevator. There were days when I literally cried as I climbed the stairs to French class, which was housed on the 4th floor.

While my muscles “bulked up” far more than most teenage girl would want and my swimming suffered as a result of the constant muscle abuse, a small part of me loved the physical torture of lifting. The aching muscles and complete physical exhaustion was the direct result of my efforts. I felt good about the hard work I put in and had the soreness to prove it.

Now a days, I do not experience muscle aches and fatigue as much as I used to. The amount of time I spend working out has drastically decreased and even when I do visit the gym, my intensity is not what it used to be. While I enjoy the “freedom” that comes from workout out on my own terms, and I certainly don’t miss waking up so insanely early, I do miss the feeling of sore muscles. The validation of a hard days work is hard to find these days.

Over the weekend, I spend some time at my parents house. Both of my parents spend the better part of Monday working, so I was left home alone without a car. I decided that I would do some chores around the house and hopefully cross a few things off my father’s “To Do List” as an early father’s day present. I spent the morning spreading bark mulch around the flower beds and the afternoon cleaning the screens from our porch. At the end of the day, I felt good about the work I put in. I am hoping that now, my dad will spend the majority of Father’s Day weekend riding his bike or on the golf course, instead of doing “things” around the house.

Not only do I feel good about myself for helping my dad, but when I woke up the next day, the familiar feeling of soreness had spread across the muscles in my back and legs. While this brought a smile to my face and a sense of satisfaction from the work I put in, it quickly faded when I realized how pathetic it was. I was comparing sore muscles that I got when training, on a fairly elite level, for swimming, to a few hours of yard work. How quickly things change…

Apartment Therapy

I am not sure if I should thank my friend Jessi for introducing me to the blog Apartment Therapy or if I should blame her for getting me hooked onto another blog with amazing decorating and cooking ideas. Either way, I have wasted away my entire morning and much of my afternoon searching through the site and I am now sufficiently jealous of anyone who:

1. Owns their own place, allowing them to have free reign over their decorating abilities. I am stuck adhering to apartment rules and temporary designs.

2. Lives in the suburbs and has SPACE. My 850 square foot apartment can’t hold all of my creative ideas, much less the products of those ideas and inspirations

3. Has more than a small desk and a sewing machine to create amazing works of art. I am still trying to figure out how to bring more “craft supplies” into the apartment without Matt noticing.

Here are a few of my favorite things from Apartment Therapy:

If only I had a garage with a work bench. Matt has it in his head that when we register for wedding gifts he is going to get all sorts of sweet tools. Considering that we live in NYC, and most likely will live there for at least 5-6 more years, I think tools and a workbench are out of the question! However, I am willing to let him register for them and store them for that length of time if he promises to make me this!

Honestly, who wouldn’t want an all pink kitchen? It would be like living in the Barbie Dream House!

This reminds me of the forts that Abby and I used to make out of blankets in our living room – only it is the grown-up version. I still think that I should move to Africa so I can justify hanging a mosquito next over my bed (which I did in middle school). In my mind, the more things you can do to make your bed resemble a cocoon, the better.

I can not imagine having this playhouse in my backyard. Not only is it bigger than my apartment, but it is in a tree! My father promised to build Abby and I a treehouse when we moved to our “new” house when I was 4 years old. My parents still live in that house, and there is still no treehouse. Adding to the list of things my dad promised but never delivered on: tire swing, sky light for Abby’s room and swimming pool… Ok, I don’t think he promised the last one, but Abby and I REALLY wanted a swimming pool (like we didn’t spend enough time swimming without one!) We found a solution to this problem by filling a huge plastic trashcan with water from the hose and “swim around” in it. The water never got above 65 degrees and you couldn’t do anything besides dunk your body. For some reason, we thought this was a good substitute for a pool (clearly Abby and I were very “special” growing up).

Anyway, I would like to cash in on my father’s promise of a treehouse. I have a nice spot picked out in Central Park, so Dad, whenever you are available please bring your tools to NYC and get started!