Adventure, Food, FUN!, Life, New York, Road Trip, Spring

Road Trip: Beacon, NY

How quickly things are changing.

A few weeks after Captain Clam and I moved, we started talking about buying a pick-up truck. We didn’t want anything fancy, just a little clunker that could make it to Virginia and back a half a dozen times a year. We started stalking Craigslist for a few days just to daydream about what our options were. Then the dream faded and we got on with trying to finish organizing our new apartment. Eventually, we forgot about the truck, but the wish was already released to the universe.

At some point, my dad called asking us if we wanted his old pick-up. And just like that, we are drivers again. We named our Little Mazda “Dino Gadget”, and have been whipping all over the place lately (especially the laundromat). A few weekends ago, Le Clam scrawled an invitation on a torn envelope. He wanted to take me to the DIA: Beacon and stay overnight in a hotel yet-to-be-chosen (his treat). Our first road trip had been planned!

My first course of action was to go shopping. I needed an awesome springtime outfit for our 2 day extravaganza. So I bought 4 different outfits and 6 pairs of shoes. A girl needs to be prepared! I “modeled” my clothes for the Captain and he said I looked like I was from Connecticut. What an outrage! I wore crazy Chevron Shoes and green eyeshadow, just in case anyone thought I was a CT resident (I am still insulted and completely grossed out that he even said that).

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The road out of the city was almost painless. We got turned around before we even made it back to the apartment with last minute necessities (like cat food and kitty litter). Once were were all set, there was one more small directional panic, and then we were off.

Once we reached Westchester, we cheered out hearts out! We had made it out of the city on our first grand adventure. As we headed North (avoiding all tolls) the scenery started to change; the air became fresher and warmer. We followed the hand written directions from the Clam, and eventually ended up on Route 9D. The scenery was unbelievable. I had almost forgotten what the mountains and the sky looked like. My ears popped like crazy and we cheered yet again as we entered Beacon, NY on the back roads.

Then we exited Beacon and headed through all sorts of other lovely towns in search of a cheap hotel. We ended up on Route 9, and found that this was a place that looked like it could be anywhere in America. Strip malls with chain stores and a ton of car dealerships full of cars that will never be sold. I hate places like that.

Low and behold, we finally found a hotel. You would think that a place with the name “Mercury Grand Hotel & Convention Center” would be, well, grand. It was everything but. The place was falling apart. I was almost excited about there being a bar and kitchen, since I have never eaten at such an establishment at a hotel before, but the bar was closed (GASP!). The place looks like something that would have been nice in it’s heyday. We booked a room for the night and wandered down a hall lined with books and large empty conference rooms. It was as if the place itself were the ghost.

And there it was. Room 217. What a fucking beauty. It was a double queen with typical hotel art. The bed closest to the door had been made rather poorly, and I wondered if someone had taken a nap in it on their lunch break and had forgotten to straighten the comforter. The room was alright, but had some gross stuff on the ceiling above the shower. The toilet was about 8″ from the floor and tucked under the sink, which is okay by me, but Captain Clam has long legs. Eek! Nevertheless, the room was livable for one night.

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Sleep in me…. just for one night-prepaid.

After we dropped our bags off, we hopped back into Dino Gadget and sped off towards our big date at the DIA: Beacon. We snacked on $14 Turkey Sandwiches and $12 hummus while drinking $4 water from fancy glass bottles (which we kept for a future art project, of course). It was more expensive to have lunch than to get into the museum. Next time, we bring a picnic with us. And a tent.

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This place is cool. The museum is situated in an old Nabisco Printing factory near the Hudson. The gallery spaces are huge and roomy, allowing for 360 degree visuals of the sculptures. The first gallery we walked into was inspiring, with twisted metal pieces by John Chamberlain (check it HERE & HERE). That’s where we encountered THEM. The know-it-all-artsy-fartsy-late-20-something-art-history-minors. Those people who just don’t let you enjoy the museum. For me, a museum is like a library. You should keep your mouth shut and absorb what is in front of you in peace.

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Captain Clam at peace.

There were, however, a few large groups with professors trolling about. Those groups were interesting to eaves drop on, especially at the Sol LeWitt exhibit. One of the installations has inspired a little project for the wall above our bed. Anyway, being around the field trip crew made me realize just how much I miss school and being surrounded by creative people and new ideas.

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Fred Sandback String Installation

Captain Clam and I adventured all over the museum and grounds. We made sure to kiss inside each of Richard Serra‘s overwhelmingly huge metal sculptures and explore the simple elegance of a string connected from floor to ceiling. It was important to walk around and view the pieces from all angles. I have got to be honest. Some of the art was crap. It wasn’t even aesthetically pleasing. Some of it was just penises. It made me uncomfortable just how many penises were in this one piece. Where did they come from? Who did they belong to? Why were they at all? I just didn’t get it.

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Penis Art

Crappy art is not uncommon, especially with Modern Art. A lot of the time art isn’t about the visual aspect of a piece. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the piece, but rather the viewer or the artist’s process. Like, maybe they made it with their eyes closed while they were drunk or sad? Who knows. Modern Art as pure expression is hit or miss for me, and I assume for most people.

After 2 hours, we hit the gift shop and bought the mandatory DIA: BEACON post card to send my parents (as I promised them post cards from all of our adventures with Dino Gadget). Then we gallivanted around Beacon and perused a few shops along the longest Main Street I have ever driven down! We popped into a bunch of junk and antique shops just to browse. Not looking for anything in particular can be a dangerous game to play. We ended up buying a $5 white marble doorknob with the hopes of replacing the gear shift knob in Dino Gadget. Not too bad of a price for a quick and easy project.

We eventually went into Hudson Beach Glass, which was having an artist reception in their upstairs gallery space. The space featured four artists, whose works complimented each other quite well. We wandered around a bit, pretending to be hoity-toity, unsure if we were being pretentious or if it was just everyone else.

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Since it was too early for wine (as if that is such a thing), we went back to the glass gallery to see if we could afford any of the beautiful pieces on display. Some of the pieces were quite exquisite. Even Captain Clam was commenting on some tall and sexy vases. If I had $230 to start a new collection of something, this piece might be my inspiration:

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Dodeka Bowl

Captain Clam had a great idea for the next part of our adventure: Newburgh. He read somewhere that Newburgh is the sister City to Beacon, just on the other side of the Hudson. Apparently, crossing the Hudson to Newburgh is like crossing the train tracks to the bad part of town. We live in the South Bronx and kinda understand what a rough neighborhood might feel like. Newburgh was a little scarier. As Captain Clam is quoted as saying, “Newburgh is like being in Tijuana on a bad donkey night.” I have never felt so uneasy in a place. Perhaps we made a wrong turn somewhere. Nevertheless, we got the fuck out of there as soon as we could. Newburgh sucked, as did the surrounding area. After we successfully fled, Captain Clam told me that he just wanted to go there so we could see the view from the bridge. I made him pay the toll back.

After a small stint in a place I hope to never go again, we decided that we needed to eat. We found a “mexican” restaurant with live music. Cascadas Mexican Restaurant was certainly not authentic, but it was good enough. All I can say is, thank the stars for BEER! The food was so bland that it was hard to believe the restaurant thought it was making Mexican Food. Regardless we ate until we couldn’t move and then adventured off to buy discount Beer and Tobacco at the Discount Beer and Tobacco Center.

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I have never seen so much beer in my life. They had every kind of beer in the universe (well, except for the one beer that I wanted). So we picked up way too much beer and a package of cigarettes, as well as 2 lotto tickets. I have since misplaced the lottery tickets, which makes me certain that they are million dollar winners.

Upon arriving back to the Hotel and Convention Center, we settled into our cozy cave and I went in search of ice. The ice machine was from 1972 and did not work. Of course I stood there holding the button for a minute before giving up and heading for the front desk. I don’t normally go to the front desk to complain, but I also don’t like to drink warm beer. As I approached the counter the gal in charge said “I LOVE your shoes! Do you need ice?” What!? The Chevron Shoes were a success!! It was now clear that I was not from Connecticut.

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Creek View Suite.

While waiting for her to return, I noted a giant leak in the ceiling. The entire ceiling was covered in dark orange water spots, and the carpet had old stains on it from previous damage.  I thought, “what the fuck happened here?” She returned and  handed me the bucket of ice and I asked her “Are you renovating the hotel?” She laughed and said “Oh no. The hotel is actually foreclosed and owned by a bank. They are just waiting for someone to purchase it.” I wish I could remember the joke I cracked, because it was awesome and we laughed and laughed…. sigh.

I returned to our room 20 minutes after I departed for the ice machine. My original plan had been to retrieve enough ice to cover a large portion of the bathtub so we could ice down all of our beer. Of course now I had a tiny bucket of ice and too many beers. We thought the garbage can might be a good cooler, but it was so disgusting! So we opted for a few beers in the bucket and the rest in a plastic bag with some ice.

Then we  proceeded to drink. We played a drinking game to a news program covering the Missing Malaysian Flight. We drank whenever anyone said “Ping” or “Black Box.” Needless to say, the beer disappeared rather quickly. Looking back on it, I do believe that game may have been a little insensitive.

After a few beers, we decided to rearrange the furniture. It was a great idea that quickly backfired. After we moved the desk and lamp and chair, we discovered that when we turned the heater on, we disturbed the stink bug family that was living inside. There were stink bugs EVERYWHERE. Ok, I am lying. There were only about 3 or 4. But still. It was gross. We quickly moved our suitcase off the other bed and checked anywhere else there might be bugs. After monitoring their activities for half an hour, we realized they were probably just as scared as we were. Or they were dead.

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The next morning, we woke up refreshed and happy that some of the beer never made it to our lips. The shower was just like home, with irregular water temperatures and varying pressure. We packed up our belongings (beer and all) and headed to the dining area for our free continental breakfast. We went to the food service area and there it was: a Waffle Machine. It was so awesome. I made my own waffle at a bank owned continental breakfast!

So we feasted on free breakfast and checked out. I felt bad about stealing the toiletries, but it is a tradition for all hotel patrons, so I did it anyway. We headed back to Beacon to peruse the Sunday Flea Market behind the post office on Main Street. What fun! We bought a whole bunch of crap that we didn’t need (including a mask, a wooden box, a jump rope, some stained glass, a compound miter saw, and a pewter whale key chain that reads “I ❤ Whales”). We must have gone into Rite Aid to get Cash back at least three times.

We eventually wandered in to this amazing little shop Lord of the Strings, where we met the proprietor, John Vergara. He was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. His insights were smooth and important. He talked to us about how he got involved in making musical instruments, how precision was important in all parts of life, and how mistakes need to be made so they can be lessons in learning. He was much deeper than I can articulate, but you get the point.

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John Vergara, Luthier http://www.johnvergaramusic.com/

 

A few minutes of chatting made it quite clear the we were not from Beacon. We told him we live in the South Bronx, which is apparently where he is from. He actually grew up about 5 blocks from where we currently live. What are the odds? We finally excused ourselves, as he looked very intent on getting back to his beautiful woodworking.

On our journey down the back roads, we came across this quaint little furniture shop that we just had to visit. By the time we had driven by it 3 or 4 times, we knew a few markers that indicated we were almost there. Most of the markers, however, were dead animals. If you see the dead deer, you’re almost there, but if you pass the splattered raccoon, you have gone too far.

At last, the deer directed us to At Home in the Woods, this great little country furniture showroom. Captain Clam and I are self proclaimed furniture nerds, which made this place a tiny nook of heaven. We felt the need to have to buy something, so we opted for the $11 cutting board. It was on sale.

Beacon and her surrounding towns were quite charming (except Newburgh, of course), but we were ready to move on…. or shall I say up? We headed towards Bear Mountain, hoping to get a bumper sticker for Dino Gadget. We headed around the loop and up the mountain. We went higher and higher until we could drive no more. And what a sight! Part of the drive was a tiny bit scary, since I thought we might fly off the mountain at some point, but it was all worth the fear. We weren’t able to stop at the gift shop because $8 is too much to spend to park long enough to go buy a $5 sticker. No thanks! The bumper stick was not meant to be.

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After a successful drive up and down, we started to head home. We kept to the scenic route, hoping to find a cute little somewhere for lunch. We found THIS cute little place in Peekskill, which boasted a zillion Craft Beers and a delicious looking menu. Clam wanted a burger and I opted for a grilled cheese. After what seemed like forever, we received our food. My sandwich looked amazing, but Captain Clam opened his burger, and the entire patty was made of beets. BEETS! I still have no idea why he ordered it (he claimed he thought is was just going to be a topping). The Captain HATES beets in mass quantity. Since I don’t mind them (even though I wanted a grilled cheese since I saw the sign for Craft Beer), I took one for the team and traded lunches.

At first the burger was alright, mixed with goat cheese and a little homemade honey mustard on the side. Then I almost threw up. It was just too much beet! I hated it. I stole some grilled cheese while the Clam as blinking. It would have not been such a bad experience if we could have actually had a few beers, but one of us had to drive and it would have certainly not been fair to the other. Of course having to eat the beet burger wasn’t fair, but there would be beers in our immediate future. So I suffered.

We continued on the scenic route, not knowing our way home. We kept the Hudson to our right, knowing full well that the River would bring us safely back to the Bronx. Ultimately we made it to Yonkers, which is not the coolest place to be on a Sunday evening, but we were almost home and were exhausted from our weekend adventure. We finally found the highway, and were climbing the stairs to the homestead in no time.

The weekend felt so long. It was a perfect weekend, with weather in the upper 60’s. The trees had yet to bloom, but it made way for the imagination. I learned a lot about people. While everyone was nice, most people were so self-involved and important. I kept thinking, “Wow, I really dislike most people.” And that might be true, even if I don’t truly believe it. Captain Calm and I would definitely go back to Beacon, NY. I think we might even stay in the same little shit hole, requesting room 217, just for fun. And now to go find those scratch offs. I am feeling lucky.

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Adventure, Food, Life, Recycle, Rules To Live By, Save The World, Simplify

Things You Can Live Without

My sweet Clam and I have been going through a transitional phase lately. Well, actually, I have been going through a phase and have been relying on my Clam to guide me, since he is almost an extreme minimalist. When he first started working his clam charms on me, I lived in a 2000 sqft loft in the South Bronx that was filled with 7 years worth of accumulations; things that came from the trash or street, from friends and family,  things both purchased and made. Le Clam lived in a one bedroom apartment in Bed-Stuy and owned a tv, a bed, a coffee table and a night stand. I had 6 coffee tables, 14 tons of clothing, a lamp collection, among other bric-a-brac (I’m not a hoarder, I’m a collector!).

Needless to say when I left my cluttered paradise, I learned to live without a mound of shit and have been transitioning to life without many of the things I thought would be impossible to live without. I am feeling more aware of the things that fill my life and am being more accountable not just as a consumer or junk collector, but I am also being socially responsible as well as environmentally aware… well, I am trying to be, at least.

Designer Clothing

I don’t know about you, but I hate being a walking Billboard. I hate those big ugly handbags with logos all over them and their buckles and tassels and unnecessarily high price tags and terrible plastic knockoffs. I see no reason to have to buy clothing or accessories that are overpriced and will only be worn a few times before I realize just how ugly that “trend” is. Call me a Plain Jane, but a high maintenance lifestyle is not my type of back alley. I also hate the idea of spending money on something that gives free advertising for a brand. If I am going to be advertising for you, then shouldn’t I get paid? Sorry, no logos for this gal. Also, my ass is juicy enough, I don’t need a general announcement that states a quite obvious fact.

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Bottled Water

I visit friends and family and everyone is all about the individual 8 oz bottles of water. Have my friends and family never heard of a Brita Water Filter and a re-usable water bottle/canteen?  I also notice that the biggest culprits of the bottles water sin-fest don’t recycle. Why is that? “Designer” water has a 280,000% markup (read more HERE) than tap water filtered through a state of the art Brita, and causes disgusting amounts of waste and litter. Bottled water is wasteful for both the environment and hard earned money. Get a filter and get on with life.

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Thirsty?

Your Parents Money

At a certain age, it’s embarrassing to need money from your parents. You hit this age by (hopefully) 25. By 25 you should be out of your parents’ house and making enough money to support yourself and whatever habits that you might be ailed with (like working out and eating). If you are still dependent on your parents for things other than their shared health insurance and their deep wisdom and endless advice, then it’s time to stop being a spoiled brat and get your shit together. While it is alright to accept money from your parents as a gift, it’s not okay to expect it.

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Oh mom. You’re so funny.

Religion

You don’t need religion. You only think that you need religion. There are plenty of ways to find meaning and purpose in this life.  Try falling in love or starting a family. You can even (gasp) volunteer and help your fellow man. You are a good person and THIS is the life that matters… not a life after death in a magical place where the streets are paved with gold (seriously?). When you die you return to the earth, just like all other living things. Do you think a plant goes to plant heaven when it dies? No. It turns into nutrients that help other plants grow. Some of these plants feed human and animals. The stomach lining and digestive track of an animal can hardly be compared to any sort of gilded heaven that I have ever heard of.

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If you’re lost, then go find yourself.

A Car

I realize that in some situations this is not a realistic scenario, but public transportation does exist in most towns, and bicycle technologies have existed since the early 1800’s. There are also these two long bendy things attached to our lower bodies. They are called “legs” and can also be used for transportation.  While a car is difficult to live without, it is easy to afford NOT to have a car. You are not paying money on gas, insurance, the loan you took out to buy the coolest, largets, shiniest car you could find, tolls, maintenance, or any sorts of tickets, parking or otherwise. Just because you don’t have a car doesn’t mean you can’t BE in a car. You can rent a car, using car share programs like ZIP CAR. You can call a cab or car pool. And there are always those sexy little Vespa-esque scooters that can help you toot around town.

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Early bicycle built for two designed for hot dates in sexy outfits as well as car-pooling.

Plastic Disposables

Plastic forks, knives, spoons, plates, razors, bags, wrap, cups, table cloths… shall I bore you with more? We are so wasteful and don’t even realize it. There is no reason not to have an extra cup or mug at work (or bring in utensils). We are lazy and we either don’t care or pretend not to. Sometimes I open my purse and laugh at myself for having a million spoons clanking around in there. It’s more rewarding than finding broken soup spoons on the beach at Coney Island in August (soup at the beach? Seriously?).

Plastic is magic, but we use it so wastefully. I was once guilty of throwing out plastic sandwich bags, even when they just had bread in them. Since I met my Clam, it seems silly to throw a bag out just because it had bread in it. BREAD! We wash and reuse and that’s the full story. Not only do we save on plastic baggies, we reduce our human impact on the rest of the world. The same can go for disposable razors and other plastic items. Find a better alternative instead of the lazy way out.

Click here for My Plastic Free Life dot Com.

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It’s pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you’re done with it.

Sex

Just kidding.

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Pet Clothes

As adorable as it is to see a little dog wearing a raincoat and rain boots, it’s just fucking stupid. The only time I can recall ever seeing the need for animal fashion is on horses… in winter… outside. Does your dog really need a raincoat? And rain boots? You give your dog a bath frequently, right?  Does your dog use a shower cap when bating? Unless it’s Halloween, your dog looks stupid and is probably more likely to not get laid dressed in an argyle sweater vest, tie and hipster glasses.

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An excellent visual pun.

Social Media

Yes, it is possible to live in analog. People have been doing it for millions of years. There are even technologies called telephones, where you can call someone up and say “Hi. I miss you”… or share a fantastic story about how your kid said something silly or you can even describe your lunch to them… better yet, invite them to lunch so that they can see it in person. This is called interpersonal communication and is a skill that is quickly dwindling from the culture of current society and future generations. I never thought of communicating face to face as something that needed to be learned, but that is where we are heading… quickly.

There is no reason that we should live our lives out on social media for all the world to see. Seriously, most people could give two fucks about what’s on tonight’s menu or how adorable the 258th baby picture of your 2 week old baby is (although, they are probably really cute). Most of us are guilty of an over indulgence of social media, but consider this: Have you ever asked yourself “How many friends do I truly have?” I can tell you that the answer is NOT 741. Wake up, friends. Life cannot be lived while sitting down at a computer machine.

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Oops I made too much. What ever shall I do?

A Smart Phone

Get your face out of your phone. I am so sick of walking around and everyone is so absorbed by what is going on on their phone. Yes, it is an amazing technological feat that the entire world is literally at the tips of our fingers, but do we need to let such a small device run our lives? NO! Smart Phones can go to hell. As nice as it is to know where my closest bank branch is or how fast I can get from A to B on Hopstop, I do not need to be distracted by my twitter feed or Facebook messages while simply trying to read a text or retrieve a voicemail (ok, you all know I never activate my voicemail, but you understand what I mean). I have been living without a smart phone since June, and I won’t lie that it was really hard at first, but now I love it. I am not one of those people walking around with my face in my phone. I am smiling at you and saying good morning.

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Christ! Just send a text!

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GPS

GPS is making us dumber. It also takes the adventure of going on an adventure. While it is helpful, it also makes you feel reliant on a machine to solve your problem. This thing tells you where to go and what to do in a British accent. You don’t have a problem with that? Because I surely do (of course if it were Samuel L. Jackson, I’d be okay with that, Mother Fucker).

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Fast Food

When I say “Fast Food” I am talking about nasty gross McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC — those processed fast food mega giants. You know, there are other places to get food fast, that is healthy and yummy and nurturing, but those corporate slow suicide eateries are not it. In a blatant effort to toot my own horn, I have not had fast food in about two years. I did sample a bite about a year and a half ago and realized just how disgusting fast food is. Seriously, it’s not even delicious. There is nothing more satisfying than a gorgeous, juicy burger, but only if it’s home made (that’s what we are having for dinner tonight, don’t worry, I’ll facebook a picture of it). Make your own menu and learn how to cook. You’d be surprised how talented you can be in the kitchen (or the bedroom (read more HERE).

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Of course I’ll have fries with that!

Cable & Television

Go TV Free!! You don’t need that machine rotting your brain. Cancel your cable and throw that damn contraption out (or donate it (or sell it)). You don’t need it. There are way better ways to unwind and actually make contact with other people, like your mate or your children. You can play games or read books. You can go play outside (gasp!) or have a real conversation. The TV sucks up way too much quality time to be of significant value to relationships or quality time with the people you love. Even Netflix and Hulu are dangerous luxuries that take time away from the stuff that matters and can form habits of laziness (as well as drinking too much beer and eating too many tortilla chips or letting the TV babysit your kids). HERE is an excellent post on living without TV.

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I am working on embracing this list as a set of goals towards living a simpler life. None of us are perfect, and since the dawn of the modern era of technology and convenience, it’s second nature to participate in waste and want. While some of this list ridiculous to most of you, it’s not impossible. I am adding to my life by subtracting from it, hoping to live more by having less. Simplicity, just like Captain Clam taught me.

What kinds of things could you subtract from your life to make it better?


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Drink, Food, FUN!, Hosting, House Party, Party

Playing Host

And here is the complement to by last posting. Instead of being the stellar guest, you are the perfect host (or hostess, if you’re a pragmatic bitch stuck in the 20th century (how last century of you)). And by perfect, I mean somewhat above and beyond amazing.

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I’ve gotta be honest here, most of my hosting skills have been learned from a lovely woman named Linda Jo. She is my former boyfriend’s mom, and I still send her letters to this day just to say hi or because it’s her birthday (tomorrow, actually). What a joy of a person to know. I want to take minute to gush over her sparkling personality, generosity and pure wisdom. What what an amazing person to have had in my life, and I am truly thankful to know her and to benefit from the effects of her presence. And my goodness could this woman throw a party!

Now, with all that said and all the gushing gushed…. Ladies and Gents, get your fucking aprons on. You want to know how to throw party? Here are the ingredients…

1. Space

Pick a space that fits one to one million people. No. I’m kidding. We’d all like to think our parties would have one million people at them but in all likelihood the best we might be able to do is 30 people… and that’s without a DJ. Lighting is crucial and depends on the type of party you are hosting. Dinner parties should involve candles and high lights so people can see their food and other guests. House Parties should be dimly lit with (maybe) a disco ball or some sort of colored lighting that is low lighting, but still makes everyone feel like they are all hot as shit and looking good to everyone else in the room. Sometimes you have to sacrifice class for a little bit of ridiculousness.

Lighting is crucial. So Be sure to get it right.

If you don’t have your own space or an apartment/home that can accomidate the amount of people you are having, then either cancel the party or find a place that is close to home or comfortable, like your friend’s house. You can still be host even if it’s not your home, so don’t ever fret!

2. Food/Booze

My general rule of thumb is to spend $100-125 per party. You can definitely ask people to bring food or drinks to satisfy the masses, but cheap vodka or a million cheap beers do the trick when you want to get a party started, especially if you are expecting 20-30 people. A small crowd for a dinner party or picnic can afford a nice bottle of whiskey, or a higher end product. You want to have fun, but definitely don’t want to go broke. And if any guests have read my previous blog post, they already know that they should bring something to share. It’s to be expected of them. They know. And if they don’t know, have them read On The Guest List.

Unless you are serving dinner, keep snacks simple. Fruit, chips and guacamole/dip.

And don’t be afraid of vomit. You are going to have to clean it up every once in a while. It will be sobering and vomit inducing. That’s the way of the world.

3. Music

People LOVE records. It’s important to put one person you trust in charge of the music. You need to trust their musical tastes as well as their ability to focus on keeping the records playing. Nothing kills a party quickly like a silent room (which is something you should keep in mind when you want everyone to leave).

Make sure you set ground rules if people are touching your records. They MUST go back into her sleeves as soon as they are done playig. At a certain point, it’s safe to just put an iPod mix on and not say anything. No one will even notice.

If you are hosting a dance party, you will need the basic necessities for some killer dancing:

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Anything Michael Jackson, but especially Man In the Mirror (everyone loves that song because it is the best MJ song that was ever been made (I love you, Michael Jackson Dance Parties))

Beyonce: All the Single Ladies

Jay -Z Black Album

Biggie

Bob Marley

And of course, Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby (Duh).

Do not EVER play the following music:

MJ: We are the World (This song seriously NEVER ENDS)

90’s Slow Jams, unless you are running a brothel.

4. Games

Everyone loves a good game. Group games can include Apples to Apples and a home made version of Charades. Rock Band is also an excellent item to have, and can often take the place of music, if the singer is halfway decent. A Karaoke Machine is also a good investment, but that might not bode too well with the drunks or the bitch neighbors.

One year, for my birthday, I held a raffle and gave away prizes to the crowd, which included a dance with me, a painting, and a few swings at a pinata. Grown ups love a good pinata party!

5. Fire Hose

In case of a fight, cool everyone off with a blast of high pressure water and then ask them to leave.

6. Patience

Plan your House party 2 hours before you actually want it to begin (but prepare for anything). If your party starts at 10, don’t expect it to start until midnight. No one comes on time, unless it’s a wedding or a funeral. Most people are home pre-gaming and getting ready for ungodly amounts of time, or they are out at another event (keep in mind you are not the center of their universe until they actually show up).

7. Blankets

Be preapred for people who are too drunk to leave or have already crashed in a chair somewhere. Cover them up and nurture them like they are babies. They are uber vulnerable and need the love. They will not forget it (and hopefully will fold the blanket before they leave in the morning).

Being a host/Hostess involves a ton of grace and organization. Make sure everyone has a drink in their hand, including yourself! It’s hard work taking care of everyone, so be sure to take care of Numero Uno first, and don’t be afraid to be the center of it all. What’s the point in throwing a party if you aren’t gonna have any fun? That’s right, there is none! Enjoy!

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Adventure, Employment, Food, Unemployment

Captain Clam Goes to Work

Captain Clam Joins the Clam Race!

Captain Clam Joins the Great Clam Race!

YAY! One of us is gainfully employed! Of course the cats are just lazy little heffers and don’t really budge from their queen size throne all day, so we count very little on them for financial support (although the bugs are kept at bay (Squirrel likes to eat them as an afternoon snack)).

Squirrel: Captain of Bug Patrol Services.

Squirrel: Captain of Bug Patrol Services.

So, Captain Clam, after a long job search has finally found work worthy of his immense talents. He had been working freelance for a few years as an industrial designer (mostly furniture and all that sort of interesting stuff that design nerds feast on), but the market has proven to be too awkward and fluxuated for guaranteed survival. It’s either a million dollars a week or $150 a month.

Once he began his search, Clam realized just how hard it is to find a job, especially in the summer when everyone is hiring interns. Or they are hiring overly qualified, desperate people for mid level jobs. It’s a sad sob story (See Adventures In Unemployment).

Anyway, The Clam has been heading off to work at an ungoldy hour since Tuesday. The job is growing on him. The commute, however, is not – an hour and a half each way. uggh! He is commuting to the Bronx from Brooklyn, which wouldn’t be too bad, but we live kinda deep in the Brooklyn, and his job is really deep in the Bronx. We are now looking for apartments closer to his job (Hopefully my old stomping ground of Mott Haven.

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Shameless Plug for my pal, Jamie Jones and New York Graphics Studio. BUY THIS SHIRT HERE: http://www.nygstudio.com/

I feel bad about his commute time and keep telling him about this awesome book that I have read and love… it’s a Roald Dahl Short Stories book (for grown ups like me (it’s so awesome!)) Check it out at Best Of Roald Dahl. He told me if I don’t shut up about it, he’s gonna hide the book and no one will ever read it again! So I gave him a different book this morning. I will, however, revisit the Roald Dahl discussion in a few weeks (I can be very persuasive).

I have been getting up with him at 6:20 every morning, packing his lunch and even leaving little love notes in the “bag of yum.” Today’s note was from one of our cat’s Wee (he insisted on writing Captain Clam a letter in regards to the greasiness of his lunch). The Cap‘n used to do the same for me when I was employed, but too poor and fat for take-out everyday.

He Loves Me!

He Loves Me!

Of course, I take a 14 hour nap after he leaves for the trenches and then get up and am completely besides myself because I have no idea what the day (or afternoon) has in store for me.

So I clean (kinda). And I cook. And then I clean from cooking and then cook some more (I love to cook!). I prepare a few blog ideas, work on a few projects, eat, check facebook and blog stats every 10-15 seconds (I have twitter, but find it kinda boring. Follow me anyway! @yourmommasmomma), and maybe sweep a little and pet the kitties. I go on a beer run around 4, since I feel like there is a happy hour somewhere. When Captain C. calls me around 5, I slap my apron back on, start the oven and begin cooking all the food I prepared for first half of the afternoon.

Yesterday I made the mistake of going grocery shopping alone. I thought I could do it all in one trip. Normally The Clam comes with me and carries all the heavy stuff. I thought, “Well, I’m a tough bitch, I can do this!” Ha! Tough Bitch my Ass! All of my canvas shopping bags were full and I had about 6 plastic bags (that’s what you get when you go to the store hungry). I went to four different stores and was stupid enough to buy 10 pounds of kitty litter. Although I was only three blocks from my apartment, I had to stop four times to rest. No one helped me, although my rear end received numerous shout outs along the way.

Today, my arms hurt.

And now I give you BAG LADY by ERYKAH BADU (she is the shiz on a shiz sandwich)

Tonight we are eating spaghetti in a garlic/olive oil sauce with shrimp, brocolli and fresh tomatoes. His new co-workers are gonna be so jealous tomorrow. I hope he brags about his little home-maker (AKA unemployed) girlfriend and her phenomenal cooking abilities (he better!). I should stop (but should I?). He once called me a “short order chef.” And that, my friends, is a cold hearted Captain Clam Compliment! Of course, I am the queen of making something out of nothing, and making it DAMN GOOD! I also make things sometimes that are just plain gross and inedible. We try to eat them and then just laugh and throw the meal out and order a pizza. The true test is to see if MR T. (one of our other cats) will eat it (She will seriously eat anything).

Mr T laughing at my attempt at cooking. You think this is a joke? jerk!

Mr T laughing at my attempt at cooking. You think this is a joke? Jerk!

I hate to admit it, but I am growing less bored each day with Captain Clam out of the house. It’s nice to miss him! After spending 3 months virtually glued together, we actually have stuff to talk about that isn’t cat related or laundry-argument focused. Of course now I have to do laundry! He told me to wait for him to do laundry, but I know he didn’t mean it!

Oh, Captain Clam, I love you!

I made him wear this tie on his first day (no I didn't).

I made him wear this tie on his first day (no I didn’t).

 

This post was approved by Captain Clam.

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Contraceptive, Drink, Food, Weight Gain, Weight Loss

I Miss My Body

When I was 26, I was 105 – 110 pounds. I thought “Hey, I look damn good. So good in fact that If I gained a few pounds, I’ll look even better because I am SO skinny.”  I would see larger people and be grossed out thinking, “I could NEVER let myself get to be so big.” Well, here I am about 40 – 50 pounds heavier, thinking about my mid-twenties and pining for the days of physical activity, eating anything I wanted to,  and being completely comfortable in my skin and bones.

The story beings when I was 23. I moved to NYC to go back to school at FIT (three of the best years of my life so far). At the time, I was so poor that all I ate was pickles, popcorn, and dry Cheerios. I was always thin and athletic, but not in a disgusting way. I lost 15 pounds over the course of 3 years and was loving it! I loved that I could wear anything I wanted and be whistled at in the streets and be asked to “model” by Photography Club Pals. My jawline was fierce and my high cheekbones stuck out like a chiseled statue. I did, however, hate that my rib cage that would show on my chest. That was gross. Oh, and I was also starving ALL THE TIME. As you know pickles and Cheerios and popcorn aren’t all that filling. Someone asked me once why I didn’t eat a cheeseburger. I replied ” Well, shit. I would if you’d buy it for me.” Of course they didn’t oblige (jerk!).

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Lunch.

The last semester of school was the hardest. I was having all kinds of stress from work and school and then discovered I had an inguinal hernia. That’s the kind of thing boys usually get. It’s discovered when the doctor grabs their balls and makes them cough. I found mine in the shower… a small lump where my body meets my leg. I seriously shit a brick.

After surgery, I was, naturally, a hot mess. Then came finals and then the total freedom of graduation followed by the empty sadness of having to get a real job and wear dresses and fancy shoes. I found work at a production company doing this and that. After work we’d all go out for a beer and that’s when it happened… I started drinking beer.  I always hated beer, but now I love it. I need it with pizza, or on a hot day, or on a cold day….  I just love it (except Guinness. ew) and it’s cheap!

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Beer, will you marry me?

Once I started receiving health insurance, I went to all the doctors for all the check-ups and decided to get back on birth control. I opted for the Mirena IUD, since my plan would only cover contraceptive “devices” and not oral contraceptives, making the pill about $75 a month after insurance (Gotta love the American Health Care System).

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If it were only this easy!

Since the application of my contraceptive device, I have gained about one million pounds. To top off the Beer and Birth Control, I love pizza, bagels, tacos, pasta, and Netflix. I am eating a hunk of cheese as I type. I also worked a desk job for 3 years and hardly ever moved all day. So, there we have it. I am becoming a true American: lazy, fat, and unhappy.

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Anyway, once the pounds started to find their way onto my bones I was like, “Oh hey! I have boobs again!” And now I am like “Wow, I am using my belly as an arm rest!” Something has got to give, friends! I have recently switched to Light Beer (so gross) in the hopes that a difference might be made. I am also switching to imbibing only on the weekends and taking long walks in the park as well as bike rides (and teaching myself the fine art of arm circles and hoola hooping). I have switched to salads, too, but then run the risk of devouring half a bottle of dressing! YIKES (ok, that was an exaggeration, although salad dressing is delicious)! I may even join the gym, but the thought of a stranger taking my weight is just horrifying… and then having to work out with other strangers who obviously work out all of the time? Gross!

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I don’t even wanna know!

All in all, the biggest problem I am having is not being comfortable in my skin. I am so uncomfortable! I feel sweaty and smelly all the time, I even have knee sweat! I have a gigantic ass (which I’m actually okay with). My boobs are great as long as they hang out past my belly, but I’m now growing boob rolls. BOOB ROLLS!

I didn’t even mind the first few pounds that I gained because I was starting to look like a real person and not a skeleton in a skin costume. Captain Clam reassures me a thousand times a day that I am not fat, but I have “gained a few pounds.” I’d say I’m chubby, and these days I am so worried that my arms are fat. Imagine… of all the things. ARM FAT! Oh arm fat, I love you! NOT!

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Armpit Vagina.

I don’t think it’s bad to be big. In fact, I have a lot of friends who pull off a full figure very well and the absolutely adore themselves (as they should). It’s really about being comfortable and relaxed in your body. I know that’s ridiculously cliché, but after being a stick-thin starving artist and now being labeled as a “bold figure” by the gal at the Levi’s store, I am realizing that the skin on my body is not mine. There is a much happier person locked away in here somewhere, like I’m a sculpture that needs more chiseling (Wow, that was mad cheesy (I love cheese)). I seriously go out and am always thinking about how huge I feel and wondering if any notices just how fat my arms are. Some days I refuse to leave my house. It’s not abut the weight or the size, it’s about the flip and the flop; all that flab jumping about. I can feel it and it just feels wrong.

Thanks Goodness Gracious that I clean up pretty well when I slap on some make-up and hair-do, a dress, and what I like to call my “bike shorts.” I don’t feel that bad about myself when I’m in “costume.” Now if I could only get my thighs to have a fight and stop hanging out so much. I am learning the big girl tricks, like never leave home without baby powder… and just give up on wearing a belt entirely! I have also shunned bathing suits (that may have something to do with bad tattoos as well). All in all, I am ready to get my shit together… just in time for the end of bathing suit season.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, because I know that you care.

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Food

I Heart Sandwiches

Universe.

I Heart Sammys. Truth.

I Heart Sammys. Truth.

Hello.

I have missed you for some time now, although I fear that you have not missed me.

You see, I have been in need of a sandwich since, um, FOREVER. It’s been a long time since anyone has made me one… maybe about 4-6 weeks. Dang.

I like sandwiches with mayo and hot sauce with some fresh green peppers, freshly ground black pepper and some black olives. It’s really not too much to ask for. Oh, and if there are tomatoes, please take all seeds and gross juices out before applying to said sandwich. If black olives are not available, I will gladly take the green ones instead, even though they are sometimes far too salty. But that’s what beer is for….

I myself am a queen of sandwich making. I love sandwiches and I am so good at making them. Too bad I am just lazy at the moment and want someone else to go and make me a damn sandwich.

I wish I had brie so I could caramelize some onions and make a grilled cheese sandwich. Those are my favorite. Mmmm…. Grilled cheese….. I seriously just went and made myself one.

So distracted.

My boyfriend (Captain Clam) and I are making a cookbook for poor people who also like food and eating. I think there will be a sandwich section. There must be! And also a soup section and a chicken section and a hamburgers made from tofu and turkey meat section.

Yet I digress… as always. What can I say? I fucking love food! Cooking and eating- an all inclusive love of food. And damn it to hell, I am good at it. Try one of my tacos. Another digression… still. Sorry. But not really.

Sandwiches. Focus.

I need one as badly as I need a job. And at this point, like any job, I would take any sandwich to sit its pretty open or closed face in front of me. Wow. That ‘s a lot of information. But I am serious about my sandwich craving at this exact moment in time. All sandwiches deserve to be destroyed and turned into energy inside of my body.

Sidebar: Even though I just ate a grilled cheese, I still want a sandwich…. it happens. Seriously. Pretty sure we’ve all been there.

One of the best sandwiches I ever consumed had those pickled red peppers you get from Fairway on/in it ( you know the fancy fresh olive section where you can help yourself to “free samples”). OHMIGOD, that sandwich still makes me salivate. Those pepper are seriously the shit and any sandwich worth eating should have those on/in it. Also, adding some slices of the garlic stuffed olives from the same section at Fairway will make you melt. Garlic anything is the shit and there is no such thing as “too much garlic.” Rule 1: Live by it.

I am best known for what I like to call “GOURMET GRILLED CHEESE SAMMYS”. That will definitely be a section in my cookbook. I basically use a roll or hero bread and a potato masher. The secret is to smoosh the hell out of the roll and to burn the bread a little bit (for flavor of course) and don’t skimp on the butter.

NEVER SKIMP ON THE BUTTER!

NEVER!

It’s one of those Paul Dean Diabetic mishaps. But Julia used butter too, and no one can say shit about her. Plus, butter is amazing, and paired with cheese (melted/hard/soft/whatever!)? LIFE IS GOOD! My bestie Elise taught me about cheese and butter sandwiches. At first I was like “what?” and then I was like ” Can you please make me another one?” DIGRESSION. Rats! ( I like to say “rats!” around kids because it’s cute and they learn from us grown ups. And it’s better than saying “FUCK!” although sometimes the f-bomb clearly gets a point across… to be used around children selectively, of course…).

And here I go digressing even further….

Hi. My name is Stephanie and I am a cheese-a-holic. A quick digression on my love of cheese…. I won’t even get into it. You get the point. I know you also love cheese. And if you don’t? Well, then, too bad for you! You are surely missing out.

Cheese is the shit.

Although, cheese sandwiches need meat or funsies- like peppers or carrots or hot sauce covered romaine lettuce. Green peppers are the best. The flavor and crunch makes the sandwich a mysterious adventure. What flavor is in store for my taste buds?

DELICIOUSNESS! Get it and put a patent on it.

I have, however, recently discovered yellow peppers, but have yet to try them on a sammy. I am also interested in experimenting with snow peas and hummus, although I have no idea how to pair them with my fine cheese palette. Please keep in mind – I am a cheese addict and not a cheese snob. THOSE people are the worst. I also have a tendancy to make things up, so please don’t EVER believe anything I say. Unless it’s about food and cat health. Damn! Digression! Again! How do I get to this place?

I will keep you posted on my findings on the yellow pepper sammy situation. In the meantime, go buy one and cut it up and eat the shit out of it. You won’t be mad.

I love you.

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