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Archive for August, 2010

See You Sunday

I am leaving today, after work, to go to Cincinnati, OH. I’m going with a friend of a friend to attend a tennis tournament. We’re staying in a somewhat sketchy hotel so I will not be bringing my computer 🙂

I will be back with all of my exploits on Sunday and remember, you can always follow me on Twitter. I will try to keep the tennis to a minimum 🙂

Also, if you could think another positive thought for me at 1pm today I would be eternally grateful!

Here’s to a safe trip and seeing lots of him…

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As you read this I am on my way to a pool party at my friend’s co-op building. This is the third pool party she’s had (one last year, one other one this year) and both times I’ve made desserts with fruit.

Both the cobbler last year and the chocolate raspberry pie this year were good, but in transporting them from my apartment in Brooklyn, to work in Manhattan, to her place in NJ, there was some spillage.

I think the saddest part of this story is that I didn’t learn after the first time. No, wait, the saddest part of the story is that I also didn’t learn after the second time.

Earlier this week, when we were discussing what I would bring, I mentioned that I’ll have to be careful not to spill whatever it is. And she looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Why don’t you just make something that won’t spill?”

D’uh. So I figured I needed a recipe for cookies or brownies.

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Luckily, that same day, How Sweet Eats posted a recipe for Better than Crack Brownies. And I knew it was destiny.

My roommates and I have had a no oven rule during this hot NYC summer, but I was home alone Wednesday afternoon so I thought I’d take advantage of the situation and use the oven.

I managed to make it through most of the steps for the actual brownie part.

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I successfully got the brownies in the oven, although we don’t have a brownie pan so I had to use two smaller pans, and was waiting for them to be finished so I could top them with peanuts and peanut butter cups (I used the mini ones from Trader Joe’s) and finish baking them.

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Unfortunately this is when the locksmith, who was supposed to be there at 2, but screwed up and didn’t come until 4, arrived.

Luckily I still managed to get the brownies out and back in the oven while he was fixing our door, but my picture taking kind of fell off.

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The end result is quite good, although, honestly, not as good as I wanted them to be. I think the rice crisps I used weren’t the best choice. But the actual brownie part is amazing, I would make those again alone.

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Overall I give them a very positive review. Plus they were simple to make.

Hopefully they will transport well and my friends will like them!

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Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that I’m a very big tennis fan. Like abnormally so. But it’s fine because tennis is a great sport that everyone should enjoy. I’ve been attending the US Open here in NYC since I was a small child and during this time I’ve picked up some tips that I’m now going to share with all of you because the Open is coming up and I think everyone should attend the Open at least once.

Plus, in less than I week I will be in Cincinnati, OH watching the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters tournament so this is a mini-celebration in anticipation of that fun event.

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1. BUY YOUR TICKETS EARLY. You’ve already failed at this, but no worries, just make a note for next year. If you’re a USTA member you can buy tickets in April, but even as an obsessive tennis fan I find that to be too extreme. If you have an American Express card you can buy tickets a week before the general public. Tickets usually go on sale at the beginning of June. And they tend to go quickly. Hence my advice.

2. GET AN AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD. In addition to being able to buy tickets early, American Express also offers cardholders (do I sound like an advertisement?) 2-for-1 ticket deals during certain sessions. This includes the first four night sessions and days during second week (not Labor Day). For example, I’m going the first 3 nights and each of my tickets those nights were $11 (plus $8 in ridiculous fees). Can’t beat that, can you?

3. SPEND AS LITTLE TIME IN ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM AS POSSIBLE. Unless you’re going towards the end of the tournament the matches you’re going to see in the Open’s main stadium, Arthur Ashe, are going to be (with a few exceptions) D-U-L-L!!

4. EMBRACE THE NOSEBLEED SEATS. I’m going to assume that no one reading this blog has the means to spend thousands of dollars on tickets (but if you do remember the little people). Which means we’re spending under one-hundred dollars to be fairly far away from the action. Ashe stadium is the largest tennis stadium in the world and it shows. Yes, the players look very small, but you can still see the action from anywhere in the upper deck (trust me, I’ve probably sat in all the seats).

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5. WATCH FOR THE USHERS WITH THE COLORED TICKETS. If you’re at a night session that goes late (and even some day sessions, we’ll get to that in a minute) and the aristocracy in the lower levels need to leave before their chauffeurs start making time-and-a-half (or something), the powers that be will let the proletariat descend from the upper deck to be closer to the action. To take advantage of this as soon as possible, watch for the ushers with the colored rectangles of paper and go to them immediately. Then sprint down the stairs and line up outside one of the entrances (there will be people to direct you) and wait to be allowed into the Promised Land. I recommend shoving your way towards a seat on the ends of the court (not the side) as you will have less head turning to do, plus you’ll be higher up so you’ll have a better view of the entire court.

This is what it looks like up-close

Note I did not follow my own advice here.

The powers that be also allow the proletariat down to the front if the day session goes late. In this case they just make an announcement, there aren’t tickets, so keep your ears open.

6. CHECK OUT THE TWO OTHER STADIUMS. Besides Ashe Stadium there are two other main stadiums: Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand. Louis Armstrong is nice, but still quite big. The Grandstand is, in my opinion, the perfect-sized stadium for tennis. There’s a covered area on one side but that’s almost impossible to get a seat in as people flock to any shaded area. I recommend sitting on the corner of one of the non-shaded parts. Keep in mind that it’s bleacher seating (no backs) so it can get uncomfortable. (Note: Lines to get into both will appear extremely long, but once there’s a change-over (aka a break in the action) they move everyone in (and out) quickly.)

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7. VISIT THE OUTER COURTS. There won’t be any big, big names out there, but during the first week of the Open this is where all the action happens. The top players will have (in most cases) fairly easy matches on the stadium courts so you should head to the outer courts to see more competitive matches. Look out for players like Nicholas Almagro (hits the ball as hard, and a personal favorite of mine), Ernests Gulbis (a real character and a great player when he’s “on”), Richard Gasquet (has an amazingly beautiful backhand), Theimo de Bakker (up-and-coming young guy), and Taylor Dent (the hardest serve I’ve ever seen, it’s terrifying in person). I’m not recommending any women because (as much as it pains me) I can’t stand women’s tennis.

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8. EAT THE FOOD. The food court at the Open, located outside of Ashe Stadium, has some delicious (given the setting) food. I highly recommend the burritos from the Mexican place and the meatballs from the Italian place (the pasta is kind of gross but the meatballs are surprisingly delicious). Both are very reasonably priced (or I’ve lived in NYC for too long), the burrito, which comes with chips and salsa was $9 last year (cheaper than Chipotle!) and the pasta and meatballs was around $11. Also, Ben and Jerry’s also has ice cream stands all over the grounds and there is nothing better than a Half-Baked bar as you’re boiling in the heat.

9. CHECK OUT THE PRACTICE COURTS. The practice courts are a great place to see the big stars up close. Most of the time they’re pretty packed but if you can shove your way to the front or get a spot on one of the bleachers that overlook the practice courts you’re all set. Or you can hide under the trees that surround the courts (I’m not kidding, you will have a great view). Also, if autographs are your thing, the practice courts are the place to be.

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10. GO TO THE QUALIFYING ROUNDS. Like all tournaments the US Open has a qualifying round. Basically the top players get into the tournament automatically, the tournament has a few wild cards to give away as it sees fit (to up-and-coming players mostly), and then there’s a mini tournament before the main tournament where players outside of the top-100 can play three rounds to make it into the main draw of the tournament (how many times can I say tournament in once sentence?). The qualifying rounds, which are free to go to the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before the actual tournament starts, are where you see players truly fighting it out. Why are they fighting it out? The prestige is pretty great, but if a player makes it out of qualifying they are guaranteed $18,000, even if they lose in the first round of the main draw. And who doesn’t want $18,000?

Anyone else a big tennis fan? Anyone else planning on going to the Open?

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Wish Me Luck

I’m doing something big at 1pm today so if you could just like a minute, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, and think a positive thought for me I would appreciate it.

In the meantime I bring you some pictures I like.

My tattoo when I originally got it:

Compared to how much it’s faded more than 6 years later:

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When I used to make an effort to do really cool things with makeup:

My room my junior year of college

My room my senior year of college

And that’s my random post.

Like I said, let’s think positive things. And hopefully, sooner rather than later, I can clue everyone in to what I’m doing.

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The Dog Park

My very great NYC weekend ended Sunday with a great brunch with two great friends and trip to the dog park.

I met my two friends at Buttermilk Channel for brunch. There are not enough nice things I can say about the food. I had the sausage, onion, and pepper scramble and it came with toast, a salad, and a hashbrown patty. Plus a bellini. For $11. In case you’re not a normal bruncher that’s a pretty great deal. My friends and I also split the coffee cake (very good, but had a very strong coffee flavor) and I tried my friend’s cheddar waffle (delicious).

After brunch one of my friends and I headed to the dog park with the very cute dog she was dogsitting for.

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We walked along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade where there are amazing views of Manhattan.

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And then we made it to the dog park. I love dogs, I especially love my parents’ dogs, but ever since I got attacked by the two dogs while running I’ve been very freaked out by stranger’s dogs.

I actually told my roommate and her boyfriend, when we were walking home from the concert Saturday night and passed two dogs, how I don’t feel comfortable around dogs any more.

Luckily all of the dogs at the dog park were super friendly.

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I really, really, really wanted to take the Basset Hound home.

I wish I had a dog so I could go hang out at the dog park. The dogs were all really cool and so were the people.

Later that night, after I collapsed on my couch, there was a fire on the roof of the building next door to mine.

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My roommate and I were watching TV and we heard all these sirens, then we looked out the window and saw firemen staring up at our building, then one came into our building, then we heard them running up the stairs.

But all was ok, I don’t think they even had to put anything out. However it’s probably not the best idea to barbecue on the roof…

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Cooking for a Picnic

As I mentioned yesterday my friends and I had a picnic in Prospect Park for the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings concert.

My one friend is a vegetarian and I’m trying to be mostly a vegan so I thought I’d whip up a great vegan dish.

I stopped at the Greenmarket on the way home from my run and bought basil, corn, and a red pepper. Then I stopped at the grocery store and bought couscous.

The first thing I did was make pesto. I love making pesto. In fact, it was one of the first things I made on this blog.

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Since I didn’t post the recipe last time, and I couldn’t find the recipe I normally use, I decided to make up my own.

Maggie’s Pesto

– 4 cups packed fresh basil

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– 1 cup olive oil
– 3 tablespoons pine nuts
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 6 cloves garlic

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. I put in about half the basil and drizzled in the olive oil 1/4 cup at a time, but I was just going along to see what would taste best. But I see no reason why you couldn’t just combine it all at the start.

Like last time I made frozen pesto hearts to use in the future.

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Then I got to work on my salad.

I made the box of garlic and olive oil couscous I bought and then put it in the fridge to cool off.

Here’s what else you’ll need:

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– 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes cut into quarters
– 1/2 red pepper
– 6 green onions chopped

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– kernels from 3 ears of corn

Combine all of the above and then mix with about half a cup of pesto or more to taste.

Of course I didn’t take a picture of the finished product but I can assure you it was delicious.

I might be making more soon (there were no leftovers) and if I do I’ll take a picture then.

All the food my friends brought to the picnic was delicious. There was a watermelon, feta, and mint salad and a black bean, corn, tomato, and lime juice salad.

Plus jumbo pretzels and a container of Nutella. Delicious.

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Sunny Saturday

I had an outstanding day yesterday.

It started with a 3 mile run around the park. At about mile 2 I really felt like I couldn’t go on, but I told myself I could and that I’d never be able to do it until I just did it, and what do you know, I did it!

On my way home from running I stopped at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket to buy some produce for the picnic my friends and I were having in the park later on.

I came home and spent the rest of the morning cooking (more on that tomorrow) and got ready to go to the Met.

Even though my friends weren’t meeting me until 3, I got to the Met around 2 so I had more time before I have to leave at 5.

The first thing I went to do was to see the Big Bambu on the roof.

It did not disappoint.

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See the people in the Bambu? For extra money you can take a guided tour. I want to go back and do the tour.

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If you’ve never been up to the roof of the Met and you’re in NYC I highly recommend going. They do really cool stuff up there (although this is my favorite) and it’s open from May (I think) through October as long as the weather is good.

I still had some time before my friends got there so I looked around at some other stuff.

The Picasso exhibit.

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He just doesn’t do anything for me.

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Then I made my way to the newly (a year old) renovated American Wing (it also doesn’t do much for me).

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I guess I just don’t think it’s very American looking? I don’t know. We’ll see how it is when they’re fully finished and the paintings are back.

I do like the lights though. And look how cute the couple who ended up in my picture?

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And because I’m a 13 year old boy inside I really like this statue.

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Seeing as my friends ended up being an hour late I has plenty of time to kill. I decided I’d go look at all my favorite paintings.

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Marsden Hartley’s Portrait of a German Solider. The soldier was his lover during WWI.

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Charles Demuth’s The Figure 5 in Gold. I can’t express how impressive this is in person. I remember learning about it in art history classes and then being totally blown away when I saw it in person.

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Edward Hopper’s The Lighthouse at Two Lights. I love Hopper and my parents have had a print of his in their house since I was born.

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Charles Sheeler’s Water. I always liked his work and then I saw a retrospective at the National Gallery in DC a few years ago and really enjoyed seeing all of it together. Plus he collected Shaker furniture which I’m slightly obsessed with.

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Grant Wood’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. I never thought about Grant Wood too much until I saw a retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian and I was totally taken with it.

Finally my absolute favorite…

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Thomas Cole’s View from Mount Holyoke.

Here’s what the view looks like today (well in the fall of 2005)

Actually here it is in the fall of 2008, I forgot I’ve been up there twice (hiked once and drove once)

I wandered around for a bit until my friends finally came and went to see what we came to see

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It’s the sister exhibit to the fashion show at the American High Style exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

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That’s the only picture I got before the security guard (you can see her coming towards me) got to me. Overall I thought the Brooklyn Museum exhibition was much better. I liked the arrangement of the clothes much better in Brooklyn and I thought it was much more extensive.

After the fashion exhibit I hurried back to Brooklyn for my evening plans: seeing Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in Prospect Park.

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The bandshell was absolutely packed. They made an announcement there were 20,000 people!

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It was a really great concert. Plus she did I Learned the Hard Way and This Land Is Your Land so I was happy!

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