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Archive for September, 2012

Thanks For Dropping By

I am extremely excited to be hosting Fitblog this week and, if you’re dropping by because you saw that I am the host and you are curious about what I’m all about, I thought I’d give you a little background.

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My name is Maggie and I’ve had this little blog for more than three years now. I’ve taken breaks, I’ve neglected it, but I’ve always come back to it because I like having somewhere to document my life and write about things that interest me.

What are those things you ask? Well, for a long time I was all about running, when I first started the blog I was training for my first 5K and actually ended up training for a half marathon. But then I fell out of love with running and fell in love with kickboxing (with a lot of exercise trial and error between those two things).

I am also a voracious reader and huge TV-lover. I live in Brooklyn, which I love, and work in sales for a book publisher in NYC. It’s a job that has offered me a lot of really cool experiences including being a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2010 and 2011.

I like to call myself a reformed picky eater. I wrote about my pickiness when I first started this blog and did an update earlier this year. I no longer think of myself as truly picky, but I like the blog name so it’s sticking around. I love cooking and baking, but I am completely useless when it comes to making up my own recipes so I depend on other people to be creative and interesting when it comes to making up recipes. You can find some of my favorite recipes here.

What else do you need to know? I am a huge sports fan. I love mindlessly watching ESPN (pretty much the only mindless TV I watch) and for a long time my favorite sport was tennis. I still love tennis, just not quite so much. I also love football, well, the culture around football, especially college football. I not-so-secretly wish I was from the south, so that whole Saturday culture plays perfectly into my southern fantasy life.

I guess I should also mention what I write about here. Basically everything I just mentioned! This is just a blog about my life, mainly for my own sake, but I’ve been lucky enough to find a few people who seem to enjoy what I write and leave me the occasional comment. I try to keep somewhat of an emphasis on healthy living and food and working out, but, just like in real life, the rest of my life creeps in. However, my most popular post ever is my driving tour of Friday Night Lights taping locations in Austin, TX.

So there I am. You can also check out my About page, but I actually like what I’ve written here more than I like my About page and I’ll probably go back and change my About page to this in the next few days. You can also check me out on TwitterPinterstFlickr, and GoodReads. And you can see some of my most important/favorite posts here.

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you around again. If you’re reading this and have a blog please leave a comment so I can drop by and visit you, I always love finding new people to follow. And if you don’t have a blog feel free to say hi, too!

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This and That

– I’ve seriously neglected posting lately. As I’ve mentioned in a few other posts I’m having a pretty tough time dealing with a sick family member. And how the sick family member is impacting the rest of the family. September has been both an amazing month and the worst month of my life. I am really excited for October to start on Monday.

Yummy birthday cake. I think. Hard to tell after 160 proof vodka.

– My roommate Grace had a party for her birthday last Saturday night. We had a bunch of people over, drank some dark and stormies, did mystery shots (I got the 160 proof vodka, it was “burny”), and ate a wonderful coconut cake that Grace had made.

Reading on The High Line at lunch. Perfect day.

– I was having a particularly difficult time on Monday so at lunch I headed over to The Highline to read. It was a sunny, chilly fall day and it was really lovely.

Pumpkin beer at 11:30 at night. Probably a bad idea, but necessary. Thanks, @crowonthepine :)

– I had a pumpkin beer courtesy of roommate Grace Thursday night. Drinking at 11:30 at night probably wasn’t the best idea, but sometimes it’s just necessary. I liked the Dogfish Head one, but I think I’d have to go with UFO>Dogfish Head>Shipyard>Wolver’s Organic. And there will be more to try as the fall goes on 🙂

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– My favorite peanut butter was recalled. I am more upset over the fact that I won’t be able to buy it for a while than by the fact that I could have gotten salmonella. To me salmonella seems like a good excuse to miss a few days of work and lose a few pounds (and don’t say it comes back, I kept the 5 lbs I lost after having the swine flu off for almost a year). Anyway, I’ve still been eating the two jars I have since I had been eating them for about a week prior to the recall and hadn’t gotten sick. Many of my friends think this is stupid, I think I’m eating good peanut butter.

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– I’ve been cooking a lot lately but I haven’t shared any pictures. This is crock pot pulled pork that was delicious. I used pork shoulder instead of pork tenderloin and used a 20oz. bottle of root beer instead of a can. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. And I used the barbeque sauce I got from my Foodie Penpal back in July! And those are roasted potatoes with the sandwich, I’ve been obsessed with roasted potatoes lately.

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– This is crock pot chicken tortilla soup. I followed the recipe exactly except I added a zucchini because I had it on hand and I knew I’d never use it for anything else. I liked this, but I thought it needed something else. More seasoning, I think.

– I made these zucchini cookies for Grace for her birthday but didn’t get a picture of them. They were good, except they had a very soft, brownie-like texture which isn’t my favorite for a cookie.

– I’ve read 15 books in September. That’s a book every two days. Totally nuts.

– I can’t remember if I mentioned it but I’ve completely updated by recipe page. I obviously don’t create my own recipes, but I am amazing at follow other people’s recipes and I like to give those people credit. Plus it helps me keep track of my recipes.

– Finally, I am hosting Fitblog this coming Tuesday! I am growing more and more nervous so please stop by!

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The new Mumford and Sons album…

“Lovers’ Eyes”

“Whispers in the Dark”

“Where Are You Now”

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The Lumineers – “Ho Hey”

Common – “The Light”

Ben Folds – “The Luckiest”

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Grand Central Terminal Tour

I’ve talked about how my job has some nice perks before, but today I got to do one of the coolest things yet; go on a tour of Grand Central Terminal.

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Did you notice how I called it a “terminal” and not a “station?” That’s because it isn’t a station. No trains pass through, it’s just the beginning and end of the line, which makes it a terminus or a terminal. Our tour guide really stressed that point.

We started out in the main area pictured above (but on the floor) and spent a while there while he gave us some background on the Terminal. For instance, did you know that the whole Terminal used to be covered in black dirt? I remember the ceiling looking very different when I was a child, but I don’t remember it all being black. In the late-90s they restored the whole space. Guess what the dirt was? Not diesel fuel like they first suspected…it was tar from cigarettes! How awful is that?

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But it looks pretty great now. The Terminal actually extends all the way up to 95th St. in Manhattan and has 63 tracks and 45 platforms. There is a secret underground station in the Terminal that’s used for the president to make secret escapes (and was used regularly for the president in the days when train travel was more common). There’s also a secret staircase in the information booth that goes down to the second level. Plus the face of the clock on the top of the information booth is made of opal and is worth several million dollars.

Another cool thing is their recycling program. When they started having bins to recycle newspapers it immediately turned into one of the biggest recycling programs in the country. The first year they recycled several tons of newspapers, but then the next year the number went down. And they couldn’t figure out what was causing it. Then they realized that people were going into the recycling bins and taking out the newspapers to read! The New York Times got wind of this and provided Grand Central with different bins that are too tall and the opening is too small for people to reach into. Crazy, right?

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Another cool thing we got to see was the lost and found. They have an 80% return rate for items which is really impressive (obviously). They catalog everything with when it was found, what train it was on, etc. and they keep most items for 90 days before selling them. Stuff like jewelry or photo albums are never sold, they’re kept forever. The guide actually told us people coming to claim jewelry 15 years later is really common. I guess grandkids will be looking at old pictures with their grandmother and notice a ring or something and ask what happened to it and the grandmother will say she lost it in the City and never looked for it and then the grandkids will go back and track it down.

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They had a lot of phones and a lot of umbrellas. I don’t think I’d ever go back and look for an umbrella I lost.

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These were my favorite, George Bush and Ray Charles dolls. There were also a lot of artificial limbs and crutches which the guide said are from veterans going to hospitals and then forgetting their new limbs or their crutches on the way back.

Then we went to a few places that are top secret and I can’t share online. Which is a shame because they were really, really cool. And I conquered my fear of heights.

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But after that we went back to the top of the windows, where there are walkways, to take the pictures I put at the beginning of this post. It was an amazing view.

I knew a little bit about Grand Central prior to the tour (Jackie Kennedy being instrumental in saving it, etc.), but I learned so many interesting things. It was a VIP tour, but they also have audio tours and if you’re in NYC I would suggest doing those, it’s such an amazing place. Growing up on Long Island I always came and left NYC through Penn Station which is an absolute hell hole. They say that it was once more grand and beautiful than Grand Central but then it was torn down in the early-1960s to build Madison Square Garden and office buildings. Seriously, 1960s New Yorkers? What were you thinking?

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Monday Happies

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1. The Vendy Awards. I know I did a whole post about them yesterday, but I’m putting it here again. It’s seriously one of my favorite NYC events (US Open and the Marathon probably round out my top three). If you get a chance to go to the one here, or the ones that have sprung up in other cities, do it!

2. Bringing my lunch to work. I made this one of my goals for the fall and I am so happy to say I’m sticking to it and it hasn’t even been that hard! I think after a summer of mostly going out all the time I was ready to go to work every day with a plan. Eating out is fun, but when you do it all the time it starts to lose its luster. There are only so many times you can go to Hale & Hearty/Chop’t/Potbelly/Chipotle/etc. Plus I’m saving money, woooo!

Free Thai lunch. Yumm.

3. Surprise lunches with friends. At about 12:15 Friday afternoon my former officemate Amy called to say she had just gotten out of a meeting in the neighborhood and asked if I was available for lunch. Even though I had brought my lunch (see #2) I met up with her for a cheap and highly enjoyable Thai meal. It was the perfect Friday activity.

Monday
Lunch: Leftover chili casserole
Dinner: Pulled Pork
Workout: Rest day

Tuesday
Lunch: Bean burger
Dinner: Pulled Pork
Workout: Kickboxing

Wednesday
Lunch: Bean burger
Dinner: Pulled Pork
Workout: Kickboxing

Thursday
Lunch: Bean burger
Dinner: PB&J sandwich
Workout:

Friday
Lunch: Bean burger
Dinner: Pulled Pork
Workout: Kickboxing

Saturday
Lunch: Bean burger
Dinner: TBD
Workout: Kickboxing

Sunday
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: TBD
Workout: Kickboxing

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Vendy Awards 2012

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Another year, another Vendy Awards (see previous years recaps: 20092010, & 2011).

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First up we stopped at Phil’s Cheesesteaks which claimed to be authentic Philly cheesesteaks. I’ve never had an authentic Philly cheesesteak, but I thought this was pretty damn good. This was the provolone and mushroom one. We also tried the Wit Whiz which was good, but I liked this one better. Ultimately they won for rookie of the year, which I was more than ok with.

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My problem this year was my beer consumption. I had three of these boys and that was just way too much heavy beer. I haven’t made that mistake at the Vendy’s in a while (and usually I’m not a big drinker), I don’t know what got into me.

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Next was the most heroic vendor, a Halal cart from Bay Ridge.

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It was pretty phenomenal Halal food.

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Next was Baby Got Back Ribs. Best name ever. And pretty good ribs, apple coleslaw, and jalepeno cornbread.

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The Kelvin Slush truck which won best dessert finalist two years ago, was serving special slushie belinnis and slushie sangria. We didn’t get to try the bellini but the sangria was very good.

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Next was Chinese Mirch, the veggie and pork dumplings were good, but the black sesame noodles were really great.

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Next were Melt ice cream sandwiches. These were one of my favorite things that we tried. We had the regular chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate cookie with rum chocolate malt ice cream, and red velvet with cream cheese ice cream. The chocolate one was fantastic and the cream cheese ice cream was really different and really good. And they won for best dessert!

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These lassi pops were fine, nothing really special, in my opinion. They did have very funny signage though.

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Next came a vegan truck. The savory dishes didn’t taste bad, but they were so heavy. And the desserts kind of tasted bad and were so heavy. I don’t understand how they won the people’s choice award.

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Next was Pestle and Mortar which serves lobster ceviche. It was good, but you’re not going to win with ceviche.

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Next came these kebabs which were really well seasoned, but the meat was just so, so, so fatty.

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These Italian ices were great. Less creamy than some of the fancier Italian ices, they were super traditional.

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Next were these tacos which ended up winning the Vendy Cup (the third Red Hook vendor in five years to win). They were pork, goat, and carne asada. I thought the carne asada was great, but they were all pretty good.

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Next were these New Orleans-style sno-balls. I had the king cake, which was great, and we also tried the tiger’s blood and the blackberry. Plus they were serving those delicious dill and ranch oyster crackers I loved as a kid.

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This was a really good prime rib sandwich from Mayhem and Stout.

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This was an ok chicken and egg dish from Morocho, I also had one of the tacos, but I guess I didn’t get a picture of it.

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Next was Uncle Gussy’s Greek food. This guy was really funny and the food was good, but it didn’t really distinguish itself from the other similar food. The french fries were pretty great.

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Cannoli and chocolate cookie from a La Bella Torte Dessert Truck.

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These Lumpia springrolls were good, especially the mushroom one.

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More Halal food. I felt bad for this guy because no one was waiting on line for his food, but it wasn’t very good. The falafel had a very odd consistency and the Halal food from the heroic vendor (who was at the front so probably where most people stopped first) blew this stuff out of the water.

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The only thing we got from this Japanese cart was this piece of fried chicken. It was good, sweet, which isn’t my favorite, but still good.

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Next was a torta place where we got this fried sandwich thing. It was ok.

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I guess I didn’t get a picture of this Indian food? It was good. The chicken roti was definitely better. I also liked that they had hand sanitizer.

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Next was Coolhaus, I had had their ice cream sandwiches before, but it was nice to end on a sweet note.

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More drinks.

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And finally there was the awards ceremony. I noted who won above. The only bad thing about the awards cermony was the MC, he was so annoying. He dragged everything out and made lots of stupid jokes. I kept yelling for him to get on with it.

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Pretty ferry ride back to Brooklyn.

This was my fifth year attending the Vendy’s. I really love the event. I’ve watched it grow so much, the first year I went there were only five finalists and then three dessert people. It was also like half the price it is now. It’s great how much it’s grown, but it’s a daunting event. There is a lot of food (obviously) and a lot of pressure to try everything. If you go to the NY one, or the ones that have started up in cities like Philly and LA, I recommend going with people you’re comfortable sharing food with. We just one plate between the three of us I was with and all took pretty much one or two bites of everything. I was still really full, but I didn’t feel sick and it was manageable. I don’t feel so great today, but I think that has to do more with the beer.

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