A Year of Yes.

Last year, when I turned 24, I made myself a promise: Say ‘Yes.’ to everything. To dates and parties and concerts and camping and festivals and museum exhibitions and spontaneous airline tickets and haphazardly planned weekends away. To long lunches and late nights and early mornings and the blurry, unintelligible hours in between. To new friends and old friends and boyfriends becoming just-friends and just-friends becoming…um, nope, not boyfriends, actually… ;-)

To everything.

I didn’t realize how alive I could be.

[additionally, I didn’t know how tired I would be.]


And it wasn’t all grand adventures — it was as much internal as external. Saying yes to being needed; being available emotionally and physically when emotionally and physically needed (or wanted). Also, saying yes to feeling and needing and — often the harder bit for me — expressing what I’m feeling and needing (or wanting).

I didn’t realize how much I could feel. How much I could love or how deep I could hurt; how very hard I could laugh or how my whole body could hum with emotion.

[again, I didn’t know how tired I would be.]

I know I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been documenting or photographing or making lists or perfecting new recipes but I promise, I have absolutely been living.

I was 18 when I was diagnosed with cancer. This year I learned I was officially clear. Remission. I cried at my desk. I jumped for joy. I called my mom and heard her smile through the phone. I rejoined the living. The world works in mysteriously intentional ways; I can’t help but think there’s a reason it didn’t happen until this year.

I haven’t really had time to process what my ‘Year of Yes’ has meant. More honestly, I haven’t taken much time to process, but there is one thought I’ve had regularly since last September: It all adds up to something. We are always in the process of becoming. The shitty low-paying jobs. The year spent with three jobs (all low-paying…). The four years with him. Dropping out of grad school. Accepting that job, you know — the one I really wanted. Leaving him. Choosing me. It’s all something. It all becomes you/us/me; even when it’s just the teensiest, tiniest, littlest part of you/us/me.

Thank you for all your birthday wishes. Thank you for still stopping by on the irregular occasion that I post. For my 25th birthday, I wish us all a grand adventure and another year of ‘Yes.’

[additionally, a few nights of sound sleep.]


If we lived close by, or if I had the plans or means to be in your kitchen this weekend, I would undoubtedly be scouring the internet for a series of delicious recipes to (*fingers crossed*) perfectly prepare on Sunday.

[Or, like, making a reservation at the Club for brunch but PLEASE, in the name of this blog give me a break on this one.]


You see, it was from you I learned to communicate the, uh, ‘matters of the heart’ (oh hell, let’s be sappy today) via homemade dishes.

Fresh loaves of bread to welcome.

Cookies to congratulate.

Dense brownies to soak up tears.

A jar of homemade preserves for the hostess.

Bags of spiced nuts during the holidays.

And, in the darkest times, a warm casserole to say, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Your hugs always come with wafts of black Lipton tea and, if we’re being honest, a hint of butter. Sometimes, a touch of brown sugar. On Saturdays, the lure of bacon.

It’s certainly because of you I can’t show up, not even to Angie’s Pizza & Movie Birthday, without a tray of crudities and fresh hummus. What’s a pre-game without baked brie? Do I dare to ask someone over for coffee and not bake muffins?

No, I don’t.

Because, more than the physical act of feeding someone, you give people a piece, slice, nibble or taste of your home. People open up, calm down and let loose around you because you’ve spread your home far and wide — it lines their fridges, shelves and, almost immediately, their stomachs.

You brought home with you to my college house, to my college roommates when you’d show up with bags of chocolate bark and plans to have everyone over for dinner.

You leave a little home with me when a pot of soup simmers on my New York stove as you go.

Every time you email a recipe, to me or my friends, it’s a bit of home lighting up our screens.

So this Sunday, when I’m in New York and Frankie’s in South Carolina and Ally’s in St. Louis and you and dad are driving through the rolling hills of the Carolinas and your sniffing your flowers and opening your card, know that we all love and miss you — and, if we could have, we would have found a way to bake those flowers and cook up that card ourselves.





The Journey

I’m changing jobs, again. I know it seems like it hasn’t been all that long since we last chatted about switching companies, but when an opportunity comes your way and you want it, well, I’ve learned to take it.

Necessarily, me being me and all, this has prompted a week of reflection. I think the recent-college-grad classification dissipates post-first job, which means that as I have just accepted my third job I am now, officially, a working-girl (is that slang for prostitute? am I imagining that? have I watched too much Mad Men? whatever the way, I now feel the need to clarify, I am not a prostitute).

My third job.

How did that happen so fast? Am I old enough to now shake my head, furrow my brow and mutter the likes of “where has the time gone?” without sounding ridiculous?

I think, unfortunately, I am.

Where has the time gone?

Screen shot 2014-03-04 at 4.04.14 PM

Life, since graduating from Wake, has been an all-out sprint. It has been long days in various offices. Long nights on various dance floors. Bustling afternoons in various coffee shops. Harried mornings between various subway stops.

It has been heartbreaking; it has been rainy days, tear-stained cheeks, solo pints of ice-cream and sitting alone in the movie theater kinds of heartbreaking.

It has, much more often however, been…can I say euphoric? That’s not exactly what I mean but I’m not entirely sure there’s a word for what I mean. ‘Happy’ is too trite. ‘Joyful’ is lame [sidenote: now that I think about it, I hate the word joyful; makes me feel like a rosy-cheeked cherub — which, incidentally, I am not.]. Whatever, we’ll go with ‘happy.’ I’m happy; unbridled and selfishly happy. It has been happy.

Also, I have, for the last year and almost-one-half, been single — singularly responsible for that happiness. I take a sort of pride in that.

My first reaction to singledom / not having any friends [literally, none] in the city was to book every minute of every day. I took two jobs, one internship and enrolled in a Masters program at NYU. During the 6 hours each day I wasn’t occupied at those posts I was pretty much drunk [ mom and dad, read: classily buzzed! flushed-cheeks, but totally not slurring my words, k? thanks.] I don’t really know how else to make friends other than meet someone at the gym/work and casually mention that we should go out for drinks sometime. So that’s what we/I did. [oh, and sometimes I slept, but never enough.]

As a result, I made some friends. Good ones. Keepers, for sure.

[also, I was tired.]

By the time I left Sports Illustrated last April (yea, we’re only on April 2013 folks, didn’t see that coming I bet!) and dropped out of my Masters program (oops) I had settled a little. I was living with close friends from home. My ex and I made the arduous, bumpy and dangerous leap from being exes to being friends. More new friends came along. More old friends moved nearby. Etc., etc.

Summer was full of champagne glasses, sunny days, music, picnics and travel.

Fall took a few dark turns but, having come out the other side, afforded me the chance to re-evaluate my priorities and goals in ways I otherwise (almost definitely) would not have.

Winter has been cold and while I have, more than once, felt the terrible claustrophobic and suffocating sensation that comes with spending so much time indoors, it has been much better than last year.

I’ve taken more time to myself. Uncluttered my life. Learned what I want, professionally and personally, and taken the steps / risks / chances / opportunities to move in those directions. I came along, I grew. Obviously I wasn’t aware at the time — can’t really grow up if you constantly put yourself under a microscope, checking to see how much you’ve grown up…but I did.

And while I would love to keep this abominably and unapologetically self-indulgent, that wouldn’t be very mature, would it? Instead, I want to note that it has be a privilege beyond compare to have had the same best friends for so many years. To see Taylor come into her own and really hone her own voice, to watch Caroline radiate happiness, to see Annie and her unrelenting selflessness — to see these women; strong, sure women after having met them all as the awkward 12-year-olds we were — it’s been special, humbling, inspiring.

[oh, I’m heading over to Entertainment Weekly, for my new job and couldn’t be more excited.]

Blueberry Nut Couscous Salad

You know what I want to be when I grow up? No, no I’m (almost) over that CIA-agent thing.


I want to be a lady who lunches. Not just eats lunch, but lunches — pink wine, crusty bread (that I, without temptation, refuse). Lunches that last until 4 in the afternoon. Lunches where you come so super close to running out of gossip to share or stories to tell.


We would definitely eat a salad at these lunches. A salad like this one. I know couscous and blueberries, off the top of your head, go as well together as peanut butter and pizza, but I need you take my hand and leap into the fruit-and-couscous pool with me.

IMG_0246IMG_0248Okay! You’re with me! Lunch!

Let’s boil up some couscous — let’s say just a cup this time, it’s just you and I for lunch anyway. Once it’s boiled (2 cups water, 1 cup couscous, boiled until the water burns off; about 8 minutes) we’re going to mix it with some herby goodness and crunchy nuts and plump berries and BAM!

IMG_0247Everyone benefits from lemon (juice of 1 whole lemon), parsley (handful), salt and pepper.

Oh heeeeeeey new flava-frands. Capers (2-3 tablespoons) and dijon mustard (2-3 tablespoons) — you taste mighty fine together.

IMG_0249Drizzled with good olive oil (3-4 tablespoons).

IMG_0251I wish life could be drizzled with good olive oil.

I added roasted, salted almonds today (1-1 1/4 cups) roughly chopped, though I’ve seen recipes with pecans as well. Almonds and blueberries (1 1/2 cups) just felt…right.

IMG_0252 IMG_0253 IMG_0255And there you have it — a salad that will probably get an eyebrow raise or two (ladies who lunch love to raise their eyebrows in suspicion) at first, but I promise it will swiftly be followed by a wink and a pat on the tush after the first bite.

Bon Appetit!


How’s 2014 going? Did anyone do that resolution thing? Yes? No? Anyone still doing that resolution thing?

I did. And, I am.

(You already know one — to say “yes.” It’s going well, ‘preciate ya asking.)

Ringing in 2013, now a little over a year ago, I told you that I was excited for 2012 to end because it had been “hard.” I have never had my words kicked back at me the way 2013 shamed 2012. The second half of 2013 was full of new, previously unfamiliar heartaches; a bit like a constant stream of salt being poured in a perpetually open wound (if I might be a bit callous with life).

A lot of sickness. Loss. A few too many brushes with mortality by a few too many important people.

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 5.18.57 PMIf I have learned only one thing from the past 7 or 8 months (don’t want to over-exert myself here, clearly), it is who to keep near. Who to go to for giggles. Who to go to for tissues. Where to find a sleepover party. When to call. How to ask for help. How to offer help.

I have been humbled by kindness. By laughter sneaking up my throat, even in the midst of crying. By the generosity of friends I had probably been taking for granted. By love.


946891_4970217815666_1328311837_n 1003174_10101373587770909_538406454_n 1069826_10200476581019482_1881119667_n 1170930_10200693156393731_886607329_n 1231679_10200815539053221_296972542_n 1234703_10200987115622528_1910032701_n 1374046_10200987116062539_562433262_n 1450143_10201509853570650_310622746_nThere has been much love.

So my resolution, aside from practicing a year of “yes,” has been to allow myself to bask in love. Accepting, giving, recognizing, feeling, being in love with all the characters in my life.

I’m not a romantic and I’ve certainly never (ehrmehh…nope, never!) been accused of being mushy / sentimental / sensitive / let’s not continue this list — but, so far,  it has felt pretty nice despite the fact that most of you (c’mon you know) are equally brash / crude / sarcastic / dirty-humored / okay, we can stop again, as myself.

So, even at the risk of 2015 spoon-feeding me my words once more, cheers to 2014, really, we can only go up from here!

Love you all, mean it.

Appetite for Seduction

Remember Ali? The little cuppycake I make a bin full of chocolate bark for earlier this week?


Well, she has a pretty adorable boyfriend (don’t let that go to your head, Sully) who, knowing our inner gourmand, found Shani Delamor and her “Appetite for Seduction” cooking classes and booked us for a surprise Girls’ Night to kick off Ali’s Birthday Festivities.

Perhaps there was a bit of self-interest in his choice, dreaming of future sultry meals with his lady, but regardless, he rounded up us girls, bound us to secrecy and plotted the surprise — an evening with food, fun, private cooking lessons (which we all need), several bottles of wine and hours of giggles.

IMG_0285Annie and I were in charge of leading a very confused Ali “to dinner.” She’d clearly thought I’d chosen somewhere quite posh and bothered me for hours about what I was wearing. I smirked, texted back maddeningly ambiguous things (“uhh leggings and, like, a top” …”flats but maybe heels”…”denim, but nice”) and told her to meet me “on the corner.”

Little did she know, the uniform was matching pink aprons.


But anyway, we got there, buzzed our way up into Shani’s home, revealed we’d be joined by her college girls, FaceTime’d Sully to show him our excitement and the fun began!

IMG_0289 IMG_0290 IMG_0291 IMG_0292 IMG_0293After a few minutes spent blushing over Shani’s “What do the asparagus look like?”-questions, learning a bit about aphrodisiacs and generally goofing off, we actually put together a delicious first course.

IMG_0297As Shani prepped the pasta (and we downed another few bottles of wine) it was time for a game. What’s a lesson in seduction without silk blindfolds and Boys II Men greatest hits playing in the background?

IMG_0300 IMG_0302 IMG_0303It was a Feel This – Taste That – Smell This guessing game and while we were right a few times, it was more along the lines of Annie guessing that her oatmeal-filled palm was a handful of sequins.

By the time we’d finished, so had the pasta.

IMG_0319We’d settled in then, Shani felt like an old friend and her home was beginning to feel quite a bit like our own.

IMG_0299 IMG_0318And suddenly it was time for dessert.

Chocolate chopping, melting and mixing with butter ensued.

IMG_0294 IMG_0296And somehow, we arrived at a dish that is certainly above all our cooking pedigrees.

IMG_0321 IMG_0322After a moment of silence, honoring the first bite of warm chocolate (it’s a girl-ritual-thing, don’t ask). We went around the table as Shani asked us about our food fantasies.

Some people were very classy, involving resorts and yachts and things like this. Annie and I, proving we’re soul-mates in more ways that one, were suddenly discussing being in South East Asia, sitting on plastic chairs, eating something from a hole-in-the-wall local place. I mentioned spicy, she mentioned seafood, one and/or both of us discussed we’d be eating with our hands.

What can we say? Some (other) people are glamorous.

And then it was time to bid Shani goodbye. We exchanged emails and promised to share recipes as we all shuffled out the door.

IMG_0323If this sounds like something you might want to do with your significant other or group of friends (which, it should!), Shani can be found here:


Yelp (if for some reason my review isn’t enough)

Happy Birthday AliCat — love you too much!

The Chocolatey-est Chocolate Bark

You know what people like?


One of my best girls has a birthday this week (Ali stop reading!!! close your browser, shut off your computer, or maybe just look away!) and while we enjoy snuggling on the couch on random Tuesday evenings or Thursday afternoons, separated only by our respective m&m bags, convenience-store chocolate simply won’t do on her special day.

No, no.

We need something more.

IMG_0281Homemade Dark Chocolate Bark, dotted with Dried Cherries, Pistachios, Salty Almonds and Malt Balls is the perfect solution.

Shall we indulge?

We need:

– 6 100g bars good dark chocolate (I used 3 70% and 3 85% dark chocolate)

– 2 handfuls roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped

– 2 handfuls milk chocolate malt balls, sliced in halves

– 1 handful dried cherries

– 1 handful pistachios

– flaked sea salt

IMG_0256 IMG_0258 IMG_0260Chop your chocolate.

And then melt said chocolate. Either put it in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave.

IMG_0262When it’s all melted and glossy, toss in your malt ball halves.

IMG_0264 IMG_0266

While they mingle, wrap a 9 x 13 baking dish with plastic-wrap.

Mix the malt balls around and pour the mixture onto the eagerly awaiting cling-wrap.

IMG_0267 IMG_0268

If you lick your screen right now, I won’t tell a soul, but I do ask that you wipe your computer off after.

Now, for the toppings. As you add them, it’s best to pretend you’re Father Christmas, or at the very least, a mid-level fairy. Sprinkle your toppings on as they would scatter snow, presents, or coins beneath children’s pillows, proclaiming, in your best boom, “And now the almonds! Next the cherries! Finally some pistachios!”

IMG_0269Well, anyway, let’s get on with it then.

The almonds.

IMG_0271The cherries.

IMG_0272The pistachios.

And finally, a good dash of sea salt.

IMG_0274Nothing brings out the sweetness of chocolate quite like a salty edge.

Now — toss the whole pan in the ‘fridge and head off for the couch. You’ve just enough time for an episode of House of Cards (we are going to have to discuss Season 2, you know).

The chocolate needs about an hour to harden.

IMG_0277 IMG_0278You’re welcome to toss it against a wall, letting the pieces break as they may (how very rustic of you!).

Or you can choose a much more organized and outlined course.

IMG_0279As we all know by now, I love straight lines and equally sized squares so here we are.

All you need now is a cute little bag, a nice card, some ribbon and a beautiful little friend to feed them to.

*If you keep them for yourself, these belong in an airtight container in a coolish place.*


You know when you and your friend come home after a night of heavy (heavy) drinking and you admit, in between handfuls of tortilla chips and gulps of salsa, an embarrassing dalliance — one you had buried in the deepest depths of your brain, swearing no one need (or could! please! the HORROR!) ever know?

You know how the next morning, when you each stumble out of your rooms towards the ‘fridge and you tense, thinking she’ll bring it up, but instead she locks eyes with you, giggles and just moves on? Buries it as deep in her as it was in you?

That’s a long, and roundabout, way of me laying the groundwork to ask you to just smile, give me a little wink, and pretend like it hasn’t been since Christmas that I posted.


And now perhaps I’ll explain myself.

Remember when I turned 24? And I promised that this would be a magical year of ‘yes’?

It has.

photo 3 copy 2 photo 4 copy 2Taylor came in town. Most the weekend is a blur, per usual. Long dinners at Cipriani, longer nights afterwards, slow and hazy mornings, huddled over hot bowls of pasta for breakfast and then heading off to the Knicks game and so on and so forth.

At some point, she and I will have to either shorten the distance between New York and Los Angeles or one of us take the plunge and relocate.


I went back to college.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 copy photo 4 copy photo 5 copyComing back to New York, for days, I felt as you do when you leave for travel, riding to the airport, positive you’ve forgotten your passport or wallet or some other seemingly invaluable item.

Except worse.

I felt like a small bit of my heart was left behind, in that one-bedroom apartment the 8 of us had crammed in for the weekend. Perhaps part of it was. I miss all my Demon Deacons.

And then Fashion Week came and (thankfully) went.

photo 2 copyOh and music! There was music, excellent music.

GUESS Celebrates New York Fashion Week: On The Road To Nashville - InsideI spent an otherwise nondescript Tuesday evening with Cold War Kids.

And my Valentine’s Day with Gary Clark Jr. and Kings of Leon.

photo 3 copy 3And in between, I said goodbye to a very good friend.

photo 4When I think of the quiet wooden hallways in our family home, with a pregnant silence filling the space where the clatter of Zeus’ nails used to prod, I can’t help but let a lump rise in my throat.

photo 3He was not just a good dog, but the best dog. I can’t tell you the number of times he’d look at me, as you see him in these photos, with a light in his eye and a cock to his head, and I’d feel positive he knew exactly what I was thinking and was on the very brink of responding in kind.

We’ll miss you always puppy.

And that, minus an evening out or a weekend in, bring us to today.

Which looked like this.

photo 4 copy 3I’ve nursed my Vanity Fair far longer than the second season of House of Cards (the same can be said for the latte, which disappeared in moments) and sworn, time and time again that in the midst of saying all these ‘yeses’ that I’ll do better to document and come back here.

I like it here, and we’ve got loads to discuss.


A Grand Cayman Adventure

I’m back in Missouri — snuggled under an extra throw blanket, clutching a mug of warm coffee with a white-knuckled death grip and donning the ugliest pair of woolen slippers I could find (but seriously, I think they sheared an entire sheep for these) trying to fight off the morning chill.

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 7.55.25 AMHow’s that going, you ask? So nice of you to care! The answer — not well.

I’m just a shade or two shy of meth addiction, running to and from our Nespresso machine all day. I wear tall Ugg boots even when reading in bed (ignore that bit, mom). Wrapping my face with scarves, headbands and the like before going anywhere is, frankly, exhausting and wearing multiple coats at once pretty much renders my upper-body appendages (uh, arms) useless.

Let’s go somewhere, shall we?

IMG_2528Throw some swimsuits in a bag, hop on a flight and leave winter far behind?

Last week my parents took the kids away to Grand Cayman for a dose of sun, sand and a few choice adventures.

Days were spent in a sunscreeny-haze of swimming, reading, sunbathing, a few rum drinks, scuba-diving and hours upon hours of staring at crystal-clear blue water.

IMG_2565IMG_2329IMG_2546IMG_2535 IMG_2384IMG_2527 IMG_2563We grew up going to the Caribbean each winter and while on Grand Cayman you have to work a bit to escape the touristy districts that cloud its British-West-Indies-flavor, we settle into Island life pretty seamlessly.

Waking each morning as soon as the first sun rays color the horizon. Throwing on a swimsuit, grabbing a banana and wandering barefoot out to the beach for a walk before the rest of the island wakes.

IMG_2346IMG_2405 IMG_2404You pick up stones and seashells along the way, thinking of someone at home to give them to — momentarily feeling your tether to “real life” — before tossing them back to the sea, heeding the pleas of locals to not take any free souvenirs.

On a particularly sandy corner you stop to breathe in the sunrise and watch the tide wash your footprints away. So often, the marks we leave on this world are scars. It’s refreshing to feel the impermanence of your presence here. It washes us away as soon as we walk more than a few yards.

ImageBy now, you’ve made at least one sandy friend (this one, perfectly captured by Ally is our friend Harriet) and convinced yourself that the Island life is the life for you!

All you need now is a roof over your head and you’d stay forever! You’d live off of fresh coconuts and fish, letting your skin turn salty and your life grow simple. Ally and I, one morning, came to the same conclusion and began scouring the beach for something to call home.

One thatched-roof really spoke to us…

IMG_2537 IMG_2538 IMG_2539Unfortunately, this fortress is too hard to infiltrate and, eventually, after more than a few tries, we shuffle along.

We meet the rest of the family to settle onto beach chairs, head off for sailing, plot a snorkeling adventure or, in the case of Father Vain, plan a misbegotten trip into the jungle.

IMG_2556But I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s a tale for tomorrow.

I hope you’re all looking forward to your various holiday festivities and that someone near and dear has picked out the perfect gift to tell you they love you!



A Thank You, For My Grandmother

Thank you for raising three healthy children. Because of you, I have uncles, aunts and cousins that I truly adore. 


Thank you for letting us play in your enormous bathtub and overflow it with bubbles — even after we were probably too old to be doing that. 

I know Grandpa passing was hard. Thank you for marching on and teaching me strength. 

For telling me to stop arguing with my sisters. Only you could tell me that in a way that I would actually listen — also you threatened to hit us with a wooden spoon and that was pretty effective.

photo-3Thank you for loving your daughter — my mother — and taking her husband in as your own. 

Thank you for telling me that the painting of the flower vase I did was beautiful; only revealing that you too noticed how crooked it is years later. 

Thank you for trying to take me and my sisters to church. Thank you for still trying to take me and my sisters to church. 

Image 45Thank you for marrying my Grandfather and showing me that true love is kind and generous and meant to last beyond a lifetime. 

Thank you for ruining your new sneakers and jumping in after me when I rolled my walker right into your pool. 

Thank you for letting me ask you millions of questions — about your life and your loves and your beliefs and where you and they came from. It will never not fascinate me. 

photo-30Thank you for coming to my volleyball matches, especially for the one time you walked on the court, tapped my bum with your cane and told me good luck — my teammates have joked about that for years. 

Thank you for watching The Sandlot with us each time we came over. You must have sat through it tens, if not hundreds, of times without complaint. 

Thank you for setting the bar so high for marriage, it has passed on to your children, into their own inspirational love stories. 


Thank you for making jello salad every Christmas and not getting mad when all I eat is the whipped cream from the middle. 

Thank you for praying for me, every day. For teaching me the patron saints of travel, lost things, and all the like. 

Thank you for being and letting me be. My mother, aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters would not be who we are, had you not been who you are. 

I can’t wait to see you this weekend.