Tag Archives: Memories

The Girl That Didn’t Win a Pulitzer Prize

16 Apr

…That’s me. I know, guys, shocking, I know. That video I posted about the penguins on an airplane at least deserved some recognition… but somehow I’ll get over it.

In all seriousness Pulitzer time has always been something I’ve admired. Even as a kid in the library my weird little mind would take me directly to Pulitzer Prize winners before anything else. When I would write short stories in class I would imagine that shiny gold sticker stamped over the corner of my story

Not mine.

about *NSYNC or Crazy Bones or whatever it was I was in love with at the time.  This year the Philadelphia Inquirer by me has had some winners of their own, which is very exciting because Philadelphia is better than everywhere else in the world.

Having winners so close to me also makes me wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to do something that monumental. I mean, it’s a big deal. It’s what every writer that has had something published aspires to earn; basically a big shiny medal that says “You Da Best.”

I hate to toot my own horn, but I know I’m pretty good at what I do. The thing that concerns me is that I don’t think I’m motivated enough to earn what these guys have earned, which I think can be the case for a lot of people in a million different careers. Entry level can kind of suck. Doing the bottom rung work all day, not earning any money for it, and not getting much credit: that’s pretty much entry level in a nutshell. And I think that kind of kills my motivation to go forward and do more. I guess that’s what makes it easy for people to settle into a career they don’t love and lose sight of bigger goals. But there’s still that little twang of jealousy every time I hear of Pulitzer Prize winners, so maybe hope isn’t completely lost.

Maybe in a few years I’ll be celebrating with my own gold sticker on my own children’s book for little nerds like my childhood self to pick up. But this year, I think I’ll just go through the pages of this blog, watching videos of talking animals and pictures of cute animals.

Go Greek! Lamb Kebabs and Tzatziki Sauce

5 Apr

Three years ago, around this time, I was touring Italy and Greece with some really wonderful friends. Ah, I love saying that, it makes me sound like some spoiled rich girl

Me in Mykonos

Obligatory show-off photo

when in reality most of my travel time was spent eating Nutella sandwiches, drinking 3 euro bottles of wine and sleeping in hostels.

So many things stick with me from that trip. Landscapes that I sometimes still can’t believe I actually experienced. I’ll think of scaling cliffs in Mykonos and get chills. Priceless, precious memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. And then of course, there’s the food.

Since visiting Athens and Mykonos I have become obsessed with Greek food, particularly lamb kebabs which were also a big meal in England. They are the ultimate form of perfection. I can’t even do them justice with words.

Since I am unfortunately not Greek, I don’t have the secrets of Greek cuisine. But Alex and I have put our heads to the cutting board and created an Americanized  version of the lamb kebab that is really simple and really delicious, especially in the summer. Opa!

Lamb Kebab with Tzatziki and Grilled Potato Wedges

Ingredients (feeds three-four)
Tzatziki Sauce
1 tub (16 oz) plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 large cucumber
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Kebabs
1 1/2- 2 lbs ground lamb
1 large egg
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Cavender’s Greek seasoning
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons diced white onion
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
Large pinch of dried rosemary, chopped fine

Potato Wedges
3 large baking potatoes
Kosher salt
Pepper

Olive oil, for grilling
Pita bread
Lettuce, tomato, white onion, cucumber for garnishing

Recipe

Tzatziki
Straining the yogurt
1. Strain the liquid out of your Greek yogurt for about two hours. Now fancy Food Network stars will tell you to do this by purchasing $4 worth of cheese cloth for a two hour little blip on your radar. If you’re cheap like me, you’ll realize this is a crazy thing to do and refuse to do so. So do what I do. Take three paper towels, lightly dampen them, and rubber band them around the top of a bowl. Then use that to strain your yogurt. Use what you got, and feel like you’re in a Bounty commercial in the process. You can also use a very fine mesh strainer.

Chop your cucumbers
2. When all the liquid is out of the yogurt, it will almost appear crumbly, more like Play Dough than yogurt. While you wait, take your cucumber, remove the skin, dice it and then run it into a pulp through a food processor. The cucumber is extremely watery, which is okay. That’s why you’ve strained your yogurt!

Mixing Tzatziki ingredients
3. In a large bowl, combine your yogurt, cucumber, hot sauce, garlic, lemon juice and seasoning. Stir and season to taste. Cover it and let sit for about a half hour, or however long it takes to make the remainder of the meal.

Potato Wedges
Boiling potatoes
1. While the yogurt strains, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heavily salt the water, then add your potatoes whole with the skins on and par-boil for about 15-20 minutes.

2. Allow the potatoes to cool, then cut then into 1/10 wedges, or as big as the typical steak fry. Drizzle them with olive oil.
My man grilling
3. Grill wedges until crispy on the outside, then place in a warming oven and season with salt, pepper and malt vinegar if desired.

Kebabs
Shaping the lamb kebabs
1. In a large bowl combine the lamb, egg, panko bread crumbs, garlic, onion and spices. Shape the mixture into a shape about the size of a sausage link and slide the kebabs onto metal skewers. You should get about 9 kebabs from 2 pounds of meat.
Opa!
2. Drizzle kebabs lightly with olive oil, then grill for about ten minutes on each side or until the lamb is cooked through. Serve with tzatziki, potato wedges, pita bread and toppings and enjoy!

Click here for printable recipes!

A Message to College Girls, from a Girl that’s Been There

2 Feb

As a recent college grad, I have been looking back on my days at school and I have come to a realization: I lived those four years well. However, I didn’t walk into college on day one and party until graduation day. My first semester of college was filled with a lot of uneasiness, weekend trips home, and desperate attempts to fit in. But through that I somehow found a really amazing group of friends, including my awesome boyfriend, and I ended up without any regrets.

So I thought I might share a few solid life lessons I gained during my time at college for the other amazing ladies out there in college or about to head off to school, lessons that carried me through my education with astounding success. They’re short, they’re sweet and they’re guaranteed to keep you happy.

1. Ditch the ducky face
You know what ducky face I’m talking about, ladies. Every girl has a picture with a bunch of other girls all making that weird “kissy” thing with their lips. People make fun of the duck face for a reason, because it looks weird! I know you’re trying to look cute, but you’re cute enough without making some twisted face. Just smile, it’s worked for the last few generations!

2. Keep the photos off Facebook
All of your professors tell you this, your parents say it, your RA, pretty much everyone of authority tells you to keep your party pictures off of social media, and it’s with good reason. Come on, girls. You are future educators, nurses, doctors, lawyers (and in my case, underpaid journalists that accept freelancing work… winky face). One day I will be turning to you to teach my children and heal my wounds. Do you know how terrifying it is to see you drinking out of a sack of Franzia in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon!? Facebook is full of people who only know each other based on what is posted online, and as much as it stinks to admit it, those people will judge you based on how you behave on your profile page. Make them jealous of your accomplishments, not your alcohol intake.

3. Avoid boys who think it is acceptable to wear lacrosse jerseys as every day clothing
This same rule applies to boys in neon, those who wear shorts past mid-October and guys who wear “Family Guy” t-shirts. You are a woman on the path of higher education. You need a man, not boy, and I guarantee that these poorly-dressed creatures will end up being a disappointment in the long run. You can only watch a guy play Halo and drink Natty Light so much.

4. Wear UGGs and North Faces… as much as possible
They are crazy comfortable, and once out of college you can’t take advantage of them as much as you once could. These two staples of college wear aren’t really acceptable in the workplace. I mean, let’s face it, they don’t really match a suit. I know that UGGs and North Faces are a typical “college girl stereotype,” but they look cute and they really are the most comfortable things you can rock.

5. Throw a party for every possible occasion
Halloween, the Super Bowl, Thursday night television, passing a hard test… these are all acceptable occasions to get as many friends as possible together to eat good food and make some drinks. When you graduate you will no longer have your best friends living 10 feet away, or down the hall, or in the house next door. Take advantage of being overly accessible, and celebrate having it all!

6. Try not to live up to college stereotypes
When I got to college I expected to see kegs flying out of windows, a new crazy party every night, and all that scandalous insanity that you see in any modern “National Lampoon” movie. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed when my first week at school didn’t match that. Now looking back I can say that some of my best memories of college are sitting on the couch with my room mates and a bottle of wine watching “Barefoot Contessa.” Make your college experience exactly that: your experience. Find people that like the same things you like, stay in on the occasional weekend, and don’t pressure yourself to have too much fun. You’ll miss out on what’s right in front of you.

Happy LonDay!

27 Jan

If it was actually 10 a.m. in London three years ago and not today (I know that’s a stretch but it’s how I see it) my plane would have been landing in Heathrow airport for the beginning of my 5 month stint living in London. Which is why every year I celebrate today, LonDay, by being as English as possible. Last year I made bangers and mash, this year I’m going a cheaper route with a Dairy Milk bar and some English Breakfast tea.

I would define myself as an Anglophile. That means someone who is totally obsessed with English culture and England in general. If I had a guaranteed job and some money there would be nothing stopping me from living back in London again. It’s the best place on earth, and I have so many wonderful memories.

Katie, Me, Lizz and Laura outside of the Colosseum in Rome with our European boyfriends

I owe a lot of who I am to my time studying abroad at Kingston University. First of all I would have never really bonded with my boyfriend Alex if it wasn’t for our long, late night talks after trips home from the bar. I mean about 90 percent of the foundation of our relationship began based around my time in London and the fact that he was always there when I needed someone to talk to at 3 in the morning. He was the first person who reached out to me when I landed in London and the first person to reach out to me when I got off the plane in the United States five months later. And then, when he went to London exactly one year later, as much as it hurt, I made sure to be there every night for his trip back home. And I’m not going anywhere.

The friends that I made while studying abroad are an amazing group of individuals that I feel so lucky to have met. People that I never could have imagined deserving to know, and people that made the entire semester the amazing experience that it was. Honestly, I look at the people I met while in England and think “Jeeze, how do these people actually like talking to me still? They must still be buzzed from study abroad.”

Jump shot in front of the Louvre with Sara

I’m lucky to have such adventurous friends. Let’s face it, college-goers, sitting around your friend’s dorm room drinking Natty and watching guys play XBox all weekend isn’t fun. Getting a group of 8 people to hop a bus with you to Edinburgh, Scotland for the weekend? That’s fun. Studying abroad gave me the chance to meet people like me, people who couldn’t sit still long enough to be bored. I’ve never done so much in such a short time, and I loved it. I could have never imagined getting on a boat in the middle of the Greek Islands to go meet up with your friends in Mykonos. Oh what did you do this weekend? Oh, just met up with my friends who were hanging out at a tropical island in Greece. No big dealio.

Camden Town in Greater London

I’m really thankful for London. When I came there for the first time in 2007 I fell in love. I never knew I could have such an emotional attachment to a place, but I did. The city is so amazingly diverse, the people are so genuinely interesting and unique, it’s a place I was meant to live in. When I returned in 2009 I really had no idea what my life was about. I was in between majors and generally tired of being stuck in New Jersey doing the same thing every day. I’m not the type of person who can just settle into a place and sit still, I have to get up and go. London gave me that opportunity every single day. From Central London and Westminster to Notting Hill and Camden and, of course, Chelsea, there were so many different places, all more wonderful than the last. It helped me figure out who I am. Being alone in a new place without the glare of people that thought they understood who I was helped me realize that I wasn’t what everyone just assumed I was supposed to be. It gets harder to see that now, being back in the same situations, but days like today remind me not to give up on who I really am.

If you are currently a student in college, one about to go to college, or a student considering college I cannot stress this enough: study abroad. I guarantee that it will change your life. I have become a more-grounded, understanding and tolerant person because of my time overseas. The world is full of different and unique people that aren’t going to change to fit your standards, and the best way to learn that is by getting on a plane and seeing all that the world has to offer. You don’t get many opportunities in life to just pack up and go, and when you do you better get up and do it. Step away from the frat parties and “Family Guy” reruns for a semester and go meet new people. Make new friends. See sights that you never thought you would. Experience the world. Experience life.

Today’s Earthquake!

23 Aug

I’m sure there were a ton of interesting stories of where people were during today’s east coast earthquake. I mean, how cool is that? An earthquake on the east coast? I mean, when does that ever happen? I wouldn’t actually get to know these stories, however, because my entire life is currently consumed with the “boop, boop, boop” sound my register makes as I ring up a never-ending line of goji berries and dinosaur kale.

When the earthquake hit I was standing there, ringing and ringing as usual. I had a particularly cheery- if not totally phony- disposition because corporate guys were in the store and I wasn’t trying to get a bad report from those dudes. All of the sudden I felt like my head was bobbing back and forth, then I felt it in my feet. I asked if anyone else was feeling this but everyone is so in the zone in their own minds no one answered me, so I thought I was literally losing my mind. I thought that the six days of working in a row had finally done me in and I was going bonkers. I looked around and saw the hanging lights and signs in the store swaying as well and looked outside to see people running into the parking lot, and realized, ‘oh crap, this is an earthquake.’

At this point, some customers and cashiers still had no idea what was going on. I didn’t want to cause a big commotion but it only takes one or two overdramatic people yelling about how traumatized they are to  get everyone’s attention and, well, the rest is history I guess.

I had been in one earthquake before, when I was in Rome, Italy, with my friend Lizz in 2009. That one was a lot more intense then this one, but it brought back the same feelings: excited and surprised, but also concerned and confused. My first thought is to where the big quake is, and what is happening there. In Italy it resulted in some deaths, so I was even more concerned today. Most importantly, no one was hurt during the earthquake, so I feel like I can call it cool and interesting. I also feel lucky, because the whole situation could have gone in the opposite direction. But since it didn’t I am more interested in hearing everyone else’s stories…

 

The London Riots

9 Aug

Riots in one of my favorite parts of London: Camden

In the last few days my favorite city in the world, my home away from home, London has turned into total chaos, as rioters have come in and began slowly destroying the city. In the last 24 hours the London police have stepped up their game, but copycat riots have spread into other areas in greater London and things are getting crazier more terrifying.

The news has made it clear as to what is happening over there, so there’s not much more need for me to explain more. I am just beyond appalled at how petty and maniacal people can be when in pushed in a crowd. There’s a million reasons that the news circuits and tabloid sites have come up with behind what is going on: recession, racial tension, some apparent police brutality, all of this stuff that I don’t believe. I believe that a crowd mentality influenced a bunch of young idiots looking to steal and be obnoxious to do exactly that… steal and be obnoxious. The issues that are apparently the cause of this won’t be solved by looting stores and burning buildings down, and it certainly won’t be solved by a bunch of kids that can’t support themselves.

I love London so much, and I hate to see it taken over by a mass of angry idiots. Knowing that children are being influenced by this event is even worse. I just want a safe and fast end to this so my wonderful city can go back to being as beautiful as it always has been.

Reunited and it feels so good…

25 Jul

Two years ago I decided to study abroad in London at Kingston University for a semester. I didn’t have a ton of money, I was completely terrified of being alone and I was almost entirely unprepared but I made the plunge anyway, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made.

It was so hard to choose just one picture!

The friends I had made while studying abroad are still some of the most important and influential people in my life. Being thrown into a country with 50 other Americans just as confused and scared as you are creates a bond, kind of like a family. When one of us were hurting or upset, the rest of us were there to fix whatever was going on. I’m usually not this sappy and emotional, but I can’t quite explain how much my study abroad trip shaped me into who I am today, and I have my awesome friends to thank for that.

So anyway, I haven’t seen any of my Kingston friends in two years. It’s pretty much unacceptable, seeing as some of my closest friends live as close as New York City, but college and schedules and still paying off debts from one too many London shopping trips always left us promising to meet up later. Finally, finally I got to see two of my absolute best friends in the whole world, Shana and Lizz. And I can say ‘whole world’ pretty seriously since I have literally travelled the world, so suck it.

Shana (left), Lizz (middle) and me in Florence, Italy, 2009

Shana and Lizz traveled all over Greece and Italy with me for a month, and Shana and I had way too much fun (and a little too much beer) on a trip to Scotland. They were also my constant dinner, shopping and studying companions. All day and night I knew that if I needed someone I would always have those two remarkable people to call and bitch to. They are some of the first friends that I could be completely weird, goofy and ridiculously embarrassing around, but, more importantly, they are also people that would accept me when I didn’t feel like my usual crazy self. 

... and in Philly, 2011!

Not having them around for the last two years totally blorfed, especially knowing that we actually lived so close by. So getting to see them this weekend was like Christmas and the 50% off sale at Lucky Brand combined. It was also totally kickin’ to have them come to Philly (especially since Shana has never been here), my wonderful city. We went out to some bars at night, walked around, saw some sights headed to Love Park for a swim since it was ridonculously hot out and just caught up on life. It felt like we have never been apart.

Here I am, with a crummy part-time job at a grocery store, no car, no money, no prospects, living at home. It’s pretty easy to lose hope with life as its going on around me. Then I get to see these two awesome people, both of whom are such important influences in my life, and things get a little brighter. I guess that cliche is right: simple things in life are what matters.