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After six excruciating months of no international travel, we have officially booked our next trip.  Amen.  How about a lovely October week spent in…

Istanbul, Turkey!

And, to answer the questions I have already been asked: Yes, I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey, No, we did not specifically plan on going there this year, Yes, we book trips solely on the basis of airline fares and got a good one with a direct flight.  Done and done.

I read an 800 page book in college about Ataturk (guy who founded modern Turkey), so it’s about time I go to see what the fuss is all about.  Oh, and that Ancient Art History class that focused an entire week on the Hagia Sophia?  Two college classes put to good use.  Thanks Mom & Dad!

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Since moving to NYC a few months back, I have made an effort to try new things, especially if they’re free or cheap.  Fortunately, as this city may be the center of the universe, there are lots of resources that help me do this.  This weekend along, I was able to attend two free events, which I heard about online.  For those who are visiting or live here, check out the Skint newsletter, and Nonsense NYC.  Also, Time Out is a great resource (oh, and the NY Times, but the events advertised there are not always particularly budget friendly).

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to list good websites, but instead to discuss my new list that is posted prominently on my fridge.  Over Memorial Day weekend, when all the fun lists of “Don’t Miss Summer 2012” and “NYC Best Things To Do 2012” came out, I sifted through and made my own Summer 2012 bucket list.  I have actually already made tweaks to this based on feasibility (very difficult to take just ONE sailing lesson…they’re typically sold in packages).

Without further ado:

1. Go kayaking at Pier 40 (free!)

2. Brooklyn Flea Market (free!)

3. Coney Island (cheap-ish)

4. Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game (going on June 25th!)

5. Rent a bike

6. DeKalb Market (free!)

7. US Open (I used to go every year when I lived in the area – now we really have no excuse…though  you could argue this is after the summer…in September)

8. Gotham Girls Roller Derby match (only two weekends available for this, and I can’t go to one, so looks like this will be for August 11th)

9. Gay Pride Parade (free!)  The parade was today!

A tame photo from the parade. No nudity in this PG-rated blog!

10. Attend one outdoor movie (free!)

11. Attend one outdoor concert (free!)

12. Have at least one proper picnic (cheap-ish).  I didn’t move my perfect picnic blanket all the way here not to put it to use!

13. Go to one Broadway show (using tkts booth…NOT free!)

Looking forward to a fun summer!

 

Each year, in December, I do a review process where I think about what’s happened over the year, what went well, what didn’t, and what goals I want to make for the following year.  One of the goals I’ve been working toward all year is to read 75 books in 2012.  Of those 75, I am also hoping to read all of the New York Times best books of 2011, and five more books on the TIME best book list.

Even as an avid reader, this is a lofty goal but I’ve been plugging away at it.  As a new month is upon us, I calculated my running total for the year.  I also have some great recommendations for great reads, if you’re so inclined.

Goal:

Read 75 books in 2012

Average books per month: 6.25

Tracked Progress:

Books read: 33.5 (the 0.5 is a book on tape I was listening to on a trip and never finished)

Average books per month so far: 6.70

Remaining books: 41.5

Remaining books per month required: 5.92

(Prior to May I was falling behind on these metrics, but read 10 books in the month – thank you Hunger Games trilogy which I devoured)

Of the books I’ve read, I’ve managed to finish four of the 10 NY Times recommendations and am in the middle of the fifth.  I’ve also read one of the books on the TIME list (Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson).

Amazingness:

I keep track of my books and note the ones that I love.  Here are a few recommendations.

Blood, Bones and Butter

I Was Told There’d Be Cake

The Weird Sisters

The Leftovers

Room

The Hunger Games (all)

The Art of Fielding (still in the middle of this one but I’m loving it)

Hello World.

My absence from the blog has once again been marked by major life upheaval – last June-December I was changing jobs and commuting 4 hours and during this hiatus, we moved to the Big Apple.  It also isn’t really in my vocabulary not to be perfect, so the more I didn’t write, the more I didn’t want to write and admit that I hadn’t wrote, and the vicious cycle continued.

But a few days ago, a co-worker asked for tips about traveling to Asia, and I directed her here.  That night, I also sat down and re-read through our all of our Asia trip posts from Jan 2011 and what a hoot that was!  I kept hitting Drew, saying ‘we are so funny!’ And, of course the inevitable, ‘when are we doing a trip like that again??’

Well, until that time comes, it seems a little silly to let a perfectly good space on the Interwebs sit idle.  Even though we’ve been busy moving from Maine to NYC, downsizing, adjusting to city life, and working our butts off, I have still found time to pursue my yearly goals, and knock a few items of my life list.

Our beautiful picturesque new digs in NYC

Also, now that we live in what many people consider to be THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, it seems only fitting that I fill some space talking about what our life is shaping up to look like.  I mean, who doesn’t want to hear about how it took me 2 hours today to go to the farmer’s market, grocery store and drug store.  Because I had to walk.  In 85 degree heat.  Ok, I’m totally not complaining about weather – figure I should be done with that after moving away from the Arctic – but it just comes so easily for me!

Our new view – of New Jersey.

In order not to derail to quickly, I’m putting a few rules in place for myself to encourage regular writing.  First, carry my camera with me.  Not my fancy DSLR, but my little point and shoot.  The more pics I take, the more likely I am to want to share them with someone other than Facebook.  Second, write on the train.  I commute (I’m the queen of commuting, though this is my shortest in many years!) via train, so I have about 5-6 hours per week of uninterrupted time.  Sometimes I do have to do ‘real work’ but other times, I’m plowing through books or watching other wearing commuters.  Add this to the list!

For Christmas I bought myself a present.  Some would say this gift is not only entirely impractical in this day and age, but frankly a waste of paper among much more finely tuned online resources.  Bah humbug!  I love me a good planner.  And this one is laminated and has my name on it – enough said.

I found this designer online, though now I can’t remember exactly what led me there.  It must have been fate.  If you are like me and have very little willpower when it comes to office supply stores, cute new Post-It products and you bought that 20+ pack of multi-colored Sharpies, be careful on this website.  And don’t, by any means, watch the video here.  You will be sucked in.

Multi-colored amazing font goodness!

Look – now I have a purpose for all of my multi-colored pens!

Don't forget to call Michelle on her birthday!

Actually, my sister Michelle, whose birthday is featured in the photo above, could probably use a planner like this since she has hard time remembering birthdays in our family (no joke, my dad called this past Saturday to reminder her to call our mom on her birthday).

Excuse me – I think I need to Post-It something!

 

The New Year is officially four days underway.  I wonder how many people have already made and broken their resolutions…

As a self-proclaimed goal freak, I love this time of year when I get to build my goal-tracking spreadsheets, Google “cool goals” online to see if anything sparks my fancy, and think ahead about how I’m going to make the coming year the best year ever.  I’ve followed the same process to make and track goals for about five years.  I certainly don’t have all the answers where this is concerned (for that I just turn here, where I was originally inspired) and I admit my methods change slightly from year to year.  But here are the basics if you’d like to try it yourself!

  1. It’s always helpful to have some reflection on the past year before you begin.  This can take many forms – I like to think about it while walking my dog.  And, to be honest, it’s not usually difficult for me to summarize what went well and didn’t go so well in a given year.
  2. Divide your life into meaningful categories.  I like to have categories around Health, Fun, Career, Finances and Travel.  When I was in grad school I also had one for school.  Again, these change and should mean something to you!
  3. Within each category, brainstorm what you’d like in your life in that particular area.  For example, last year in my Health category, I wanted to be more knowledgeable and discerning when it came to food.
  4. Once you have an overarching idea or theme, think about what specifically would help you get there in your life.  For my food goal, we joined a CSA, and I mostly bought meat and dairy products that came from reputable local farmers.  I also started frequenting the farmers’ market, which I love.   My actual written-down goals were:
    1. Join a CSA
    2. Only buy happy meat
    3. Go to farmers’ market each weekend from June – October
  5. I pick goals that are measurable whenever possible.  Read 52 books, do something fun with friends once per week, go to one new state, etc.  After picking goals, I put them somewhere where I will access frequently (on my desktop), and I create various forms to help me track my progress.  If I want to work out 4 times per week, I make little checkmarks on all the days I do – and then I average it out at the end of the month.  I also only pick goals I actually want to achieve.  This sounds weird, but I find it very easy to pick goals that I think I should have but I really dread (like reading The Economist…boring).

This year, I have about 30 goals.  They range widely from some hard core savings goals, to visiting my sister in San Francisco, from taking Basil on a walk every day to reading 75 books, which will definitely be a challenge.   My spreadsheets are all ready to go and I finished my first book!

I finally (finally!) took these photos off of the camera…two months late.  But, my birthday is definitely worth a quick post, even if all you get from it is a great hotel review.  So, last year was my 30th, which was celebrated in a hazy mess of tequila and sprained ankles.  This year, in order to stay far, FAR away from that disaster, Drew and I took off for a quick weekend trip to Boston.

It is great living so close to Boston – an hour and a half in the car, and you’re in a huge city that is walkable, has fantastic restaurants and good friends.  During business school days, when I was commuting down once or twice a week, going to Boston for fun just wasn’t an option – I was going too much not-for-fun.  Enough time has now passed where having actual fun in Boston is back on the agenda.

For this trip, we scored an amazing deal on Priceline at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge.  We have heard a lot about this hotel from a friend who goes to Boston regularly to wear the crazy bathrobes the Marlowe provide guests – leopard and cheetah print.  We almost booked a room directly with the hotel, but took a chance at the last minute with the name-your-own-price feature on Priceline and ended up there anyway!  Thank you hotel gods.

Hotel Marlowe - Cambridge, MA

Our short time in town was spent mostly wandering around Cambridge.  Boston is a walkable city, but I haven’t spent much time across the river.  We went into some buildings at MIT, had a beer at a Harvard Square bar, looked in a few bookstores and goofed around.  We had big plans to go to dinner in the South End at Toro, a well-known and extremely busy tapas restaurant that doesn’t take reservations.  We figured we’d just get there at 5:30, have an early meal, and crash at the hotel in the fun bathrobes.

Wandering around Boston

MIT

Well.

After all that walking in the chilly fall air, we came back to the hotel for a quick one hour break.  And because it was my birthday and that means I get to do whatever I want for a day, that short break turned into one long 18 hour break. Drew ran down to a local wine store to score some wine, we ordered room service, and I sat in that crazy bathrobe for six hours.  We watched two terrible made-for-TV movies and one nature show about some guy who walked through the Amazon.

My post from the bed. Wine? Check. Movie? Check.

Nope, still haven't moved...

And it was awesome.

Follow that up with brunch at Craigie on Main with good friends?  That is a birthday I’d be willing to repeat every year!