Last night, a fun nighttime construction project started outside my window.  Jackhammers and those crazy bright white lights all gleaming and daytime-like at 3am.  I’ve been up since.  I know when I’m tired when I start working from my bed, laptop on pillow on blanket.  I’ve been here for 2 hours.

While I sit here on a conference call (being tired also makes me honest), a few updates.  It’s the fourth quarter.  In work it’s all we’ve been talking about for months (revenue, revenue!), and in life, I kind of dread the end of summer.  This is the first year I’ve made it through an honest to god sticky, smelly mid-Atlantic summer mess since college.  In more recent years, I’ve reveled and bragged about the days of perfect Maine summer weather.  So, I suppose I’m more prepared than normal to buck up and face the cold.  And I do have some cute jackets…

The end of the quarter also means I evaluate some of the goals I’ve set for myself for the year.  So, here we go, shall we?

Thus far, I’ve fully completed 12 of my 26 goals (just under 50%).  These have included visiting my sister in San Francisco, taking a class, and putting a savings in plan into place for my future travel goals.  There are several goals that will take all year to complete (i.e. read 75 books) that I’m still working toward.  It’s looking like this year that I will get to maybe 20 of my 26 goals.  I’ve also realized that some are not very measurable and therefore difficult to measure success.  I will try and work on that when I think through next year’s goals.

In addition to my ‘normal’ goals, I had a list of things I wanted to do in NYC this summer.  I’ve been updating my progress here, but basically the only things I didn’t do were kayaking on the Hudson and seeing Gotham Girls roller derby.  They’ll be at the top of my list for next year!

Oh, and I also walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was on my Life List – and it only took an hour (not bad for a life goal)!

P.S. As an avid reader (at least this year!), here are a few new recommendations if you’re itching for a great book: The Art of Fielding, Salvage the Bones, The Imperfectionists.  Only 15 more books to go before I wrap up this crazy goal (of course, the one I’m reading now is 500 pages…).



I recently spent a lovely long weekend in San Francisco.  I have been before but it’s been 5+ years since I went for fun (not work) and, as always, the experiences diverge wildly.  San Francisco has something for everyone.  It’s very difficult to condense all the city has to offer into one perfect weekend.  But.  It’s a Sunday and I’ve got the time, so I’ll give you a little lowdown on how to work SF to your advantage!

Arrival: I have only flown to SF.  Obviously, if you can drive, skip this.  I have flown to both Oakland and SFO, and am very, VERY, partial to Virgin America as my airline of choice.  I adore V.A. anyway, and there are these fabulous direct flights across the country, so according to me, it’s the only real way to do this trip.  Virgin does not appear in Expedia or Priceline or Kayak searches, so you need to go directly to the airline’s site.  Go there now.  Buy ticket.  I’ll wait.

When you arrive in SF, it’s fastest to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, according to my seatmate on the train) into the city.  The BART doesn’t work like ‘normal’ subway systems.  Instead, you type into the ticket machine your precise destination, and the ticket price is calculated (from SFO to Powell, a major downtown stop, is $8.25).  The ride takes about 30 minutes.


Most major downtown hotels are close to one of the BART transport stops, and if this is your first time in the arena, it would behoove you and your stress level just to pick a hotel that’s near one.  Why bother with the expense of a cab, or the confusion of lugging your stuff around a new city to find your out-of-the-way hotel?

The first time I went to SF, I did a little research via TripAdvisor, and found a funky boutique hotel which is now a college dorm.  Weird.  I’ve also stayed at a Hilton (for work) up near Fisherman’s Wharf, which was great, but not quite in central tourism world.  For my recent trip I stayed with my sister in her spare room.  Definitely the cheapest option if you’ve got a connection.  Given that SF is funky hipster town of the world, it is probably also a great source of fun hostels and Couchsurfing hosts, but I can’t personally vouch for any.

To Do:

This is where planning gets personalized and difficult.  To suit my interests, I quickly search for fun free/cheap stuff to do, and follow that up with some restaurant research.  Given that SF has the most restaurants per capita in the country, you should be able to satisfy any palate.

The most well-known tourist attraction are covered in any guidebook or article, but if you have somehow missed the memo, here are the highlights.

1. Ride a trolley

2. Walk around downtown (wear good walking shoes…remember that this place is super hilly?)

3. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf (where I can watch the sea lions for an hour easily, which is free!)

4. Alcatraz (give this 2-3 hours at least…)

I’m a big audio tour fan, and this one is not-to-be-missed. Comes with admission onto the island.

5. Telegraph Hill (near that crazy curvy street, look for the Telegraph Hill parrots)

6. Haight/Ashbury (hippie love, now home to expensive thrift stores)

7. Golden Gate Park

Me and my sister chillin’ in front of a park Sphinx.

8. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge

Finally did the big walk this year (about a mile each way…)

If you have time and transportation, the city is a mere hour or 90 minutes from Napa/Sonoma, and you can also explore Berkeley and Marin County easily.

Quick note on transportation within the city.  I have a very good sense of direction (within my family it’s one of my two key strengths…the other being ordering well off of restaurant menus), and I find the SF metro system very confusing.  The major stops downtown are easy to navigate and well-marked, etc.  However, once you start heading into actual neighborhoods, the train is above ground, stops are not well marked (if at all) and many stops are not marked on maps either (they’re indicated by a little hatch mark).  So annoying!  This is one reason why I haven’t ventured far away from downtown on previous trips.  This time, I had a local to help me navigate, but I seriously don’t know how you would figure it out otherwise.

I think I’ve talked enough.  But, in case you had a burning question about my food preference, my primary tip to those who care is to eat lots of Asian food – the city is amazing for all types (I had Vietnamese twice in two days…my personal favorite).


An Ode to Canada

My parents have owned a summer cottage in Pointe Au Baril, Ontario since 1999.  It is the source of many, MANY folkloric family stories, a great repository of Christmas gifts for my dad (another wooden duck?  something moose-themed?  Sounds good!) and our family’s home away from home for over a decade.  It’s also in the middle of nowhere.

Nowhere: Middle of,

Because my parents’ bought their abode after I was already out of the house (and it goes without saying that this fact meant I no longer had to be dragged for 12 hours in the car by them for family vacations as I was an independent 19-year-old adult thankyouverymuch!), my visits were a little more sporadic than my sisters’, and as of last month, I’ve been there 8 times (Alice, who was young enough to be forced into the 12 hour trip multiple times per summer has double that under her belt).

But, it is gorgeous up there.  And now that I’m much older, the whole middle of nowhere thing is suddenly very appealing …

Canadian cottage love

After spending this summer with the loons in Canada, my dad was approached by a family asking if he’d ever considering selling the place.  They had been looking for one of their own for two years with no luck and it was the perfect house for them.   And that’s that.  Next month, the house with the name “SMITH” blazoned in red on the side will go under new ownership.

One of our favorite Canadian hobbies – puzzles!

Photo evidence of our last full family trip – 2009

One of my favorite nights ever – Lisa teaching us the proper rugby stance.

I’m happy that my folks have found their home a good home.  I’m happy that we have so many entries in the “Up North” journal from every visitor that has ever crossed its threshold.  I’m happy that we were all old enough to really appreciate and enjoy this house and have so many memories that will last and last.  The Canada house will surely live on as the place with the scary seaweed forest, white bread and unlimited cookies, bunk beds, improv games, mosquitoes, fires, the Baileys, our crap boat that lost its steering wheel once when we were all in it, Belle the rowboat, bats in the rafters, Euchre and lots and lots of chatty family time.

Miss you already Canada.  xoxo.

Since I moved to NYC, two frequently asked questions that keep heading my way:

1. How long will you live in NY?

2. How hard is it to live in a small apartment?


1. I don’t know and it would be weird if I did

2. I love it

After we bought our house (smallish but plenty big for 2 people) I realized that most of our space was unnecessary.  In our house I spent 90% of my time in 25% of the house (and when I started working from home, it was 90% in 30%).  I literally never went in our guest room unless we had a guest arriving or leaving.  I had an extensive cookbook collection that I referenced rarely.  I had all the back issues of my favorite travel magazine for 5+ years that I referenced literally never because I could find anything I wanted from any issue online for free.

Truly downsizing out of that house into 500 square feet was liberating.  I have a penchant for getting rid of stuff, feel nearly no connection to anything I own (which I admit sounds harsh), and love the idea that in a small space every single item must be chosen specifically and with a purpose.  No new clothes unless some go out the door.   No knick knacks.  I saw a cute coffee mug the other day, but NO!  There is no room.

Here’s what life looks like now.

All of our pens, and one pair of scissors.

Our DVD and video ‘collection’


Our scaled back cookbook collection – about 2% of the original group!

My casual summer clothes – 4 bottoms, about 8 shirts, 2 belts. I wear these all…the…time…


All silverware and kitchen utensils. We have one teeny drawer so they’re on the counter.

Basil – how did he get in here? Well, proof that he now does like his own bed. I’m using my 50MM lens now, which I love when I have the patience for manual focus.


Back in June, I put together a bucket list of all the fun things I wanted to make sure to do in New York this summer.  Now that the summer is eeking out its last weeks of crushing humidity, I took a look at the list to make sure I was still on track to do it all.

The list:

1. Go kayaking at Pier 40 – not done yet.  It’s been more difficult than you’d think wrangling some company on this excursion, and I really would prefer to not do it solo.  This is staying firmly on the list!

2. Brooklyn Flea Market – not done yet but on the plan for a visit next week with an old friend

3. Coney Island – DONE!  Alice and I went a couple weeks ago on a Friday afternoon.  I sucked it up and went on the Cyclone with her, even though I’m not a huge fan of roller coasters.  From the ground it looked small enough…

Scarier than it looks…

4. Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game – DONE!  This was a lot of fun.  Tickets are cheap, the field overlooks the water, and there’s plenty of Carvel ice cream on site to satisfy me.

5. Rent a bike – not done yet.  I’m considering taking this off the list given the high cost (almost $50 for 4 hours).  I would have gone with my mom, but we never did, and it’s just so freaking hot here.  Keeping it on the list for now…

6. DeKalb Market – going this weekend!  Finally 🙂

7. US Open – still on the list.  Drew is a huge tennis fan, so it’s a no brainer.  We will be there!

8. Gotham Girls Roller Derby match – Today is the only day this summer with a match and I have other plans. Boo!  I’m taking it off the list.

9. Gay Pride parade – DONE!

10. Attend one outdoor movie – DONE!  Outdoor movies are super popular and crowded, but that’s the fun!

11. Attend one outdoor concert – DONE!

12. Have at least one proper picnic – DONE! On the 4th of July, we met up with some friends for a picnic before fireworks.  Which were insanity.

I didn’t take this picture, but it captures the size of this city’s display…

13. Go to one Broadway show – sadly, not done yet, but next week with one last visitor for the summer I hope to check this off the list!
That’s it for the summer list.  Now Drew and I have a new list of 10 of the best pizza places in the city and we’re trying to check them all off – 2 down, 8 to go.  And they’re amazing.

Last weekend I was browsing a local bookstore and came across this book:

I didn’t buy it (because I love the library and who has room for another book?!?!), but I did flip through it.  All the major neighborhoods in Brooklyn are covered, and frankly my overall knowledge of that fantastic borough is sadly limited.  So, thanks to an extra day off this week, I went looking online for good resources to help me plan an official walk in Brooklyn.  I quickly stumbled upon this site which is a great resource.  I settled on the Williamsburg walk, wrote out directions in excruciating detail and headed to the Lower East Side to walk across the Williamsburg bridge.

Here are a few photos of my time:

A quick stop at the nearby stock exchange to pay homage to American capitalism.

A little street art on the bridge

What a nice way to spend a morning.  And I think I clocked about 5 miles, so now I can spend the rest of the day eating and drinking like a proper Independence Day reveler!

Now that I’ve lived in ye olde Big Apple for nearly four months, I feel expert enough to make a sweeping observation.

Skateboarders don’t land their tricks.

In front of our building is skateboard paradise – a wide, sweeping sidewalk, lots of cement benches and tables for tricks, and endless rails.  In the evening, the high school age boys congregate, decked out with fancy video cameras and spotlights as they zoom around and capture each other on film.

Haven’t seen any compound fractures yet.

I think I saw this kid yesterday…

I watch this every day.

And here’s the thing.  I’ve never actually seen someone land a trick.  Ever.

So, either, our sidewalk is where bad skateboarders go to rot, or most 16-year olds who take up the hobby are in for a rude awakening.