Touring the North Fork

Recently, on a perfect fall day, I decided to drive out to the North Fork and visit some of the local wineries.  I say some, because there are sooo many of them, I really don’t think it’s possible to visit all of them in one day – I mean, I guess you could try, but one, you would end up so drunk that you wouldn’t remember a lot of it, and two, if I was going to do that, I’d rather just do a bar-crawl.

So, with a list of wineries in hand, and pages of directions from google that didn’t always help me after all (when did google start making their directions confusing?), I headed out east for a day of fun and adventure, with not a care in the world.

My first stop was all the way in Greenport.  It is the most eastern winery on the North Fork, but it also is known for its view…and can I just say that the view was absolutely worth it even though I did not walk out of there with a bottle of wine.  You could take a glass (bottle) and walk out across an expanse of lawn where you were greeted with Adirondack chairs, picnic tables/benches, and a gorgeous view of the Long Island Sound.  Having grown up on Long Island, and being acquainted with some parts of the Sound’s beaches, I was amazed by the beauty of it.  Kontokosta Winery is a must.

Another winery that I really liked – although again, their wine wasn’t the best (I know, I’m a wine snob) – was Duck Walk Vineyards North.  What I especially liked about this place was that they had live entertainment and a lively attitude.  Also, you were able to walk through the vineyards with your beverage of choice.  I put my wine glass down on the grass and frolicked.

There were a few other vineyards that I visited that day, where I did end up taking home a bottle from, but the two I mentioned above were definitely the most fun ones.  All in all, it was a fun day, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and do it again.

Are You Ready for Winter?

Like it or not, it seems that winter is hitting us full force and ignoring the fact that it is about a month too early, and that the temperatures today are usually reserved for the middle of winter, you know, February. I don’t quite remember the temps from this time last year, but I know that they were definitely higher than this. Despite the big snowstorm we had last winter, and only a short period of plunging temps, I feel that it is inevitable that this year it will be bad…especially if today is any indication. So, how are you preparing?

Normally when it gets cold I get in a baking mood. Using my oven both warms up my apartment on a chilly day, and fills it with the delicious aroma or cookies or muffins. I envision cozy nights in watching movies with friends, red wine, fireplaces. I think of warm comfy pjs and furry Uggs, phone conversations that last forever and winter adventures just to prove to yourself that a little chill (frigidity?) doesn’t scare you.

What is your favorite winter memory? Is it with a best friend, a significant other, family, or a night you did something just for yourself? I have a few favorite winter memories, ones that I keep close to my heart, that fill me with hope and warmth and love.

Being ready for winter isn’t just about buying a new coat or scarf, and it isn’t just about the parties and the cheer. Winter is the time for reflection and improvement. It’s the time when you look deep into yourself, see how you’ve grown as a person, how life has changed you and determine what new improvements can be made.

What is your favorite winter memory? Are you ready for winter?

Panda Obsession

A few months back, I was watching the news as I was getting ready for work and I saw the cutest things ever.  Twin baby pandas were born at Zoo Atlanta; the first ever twin pandas in the US.  Also, twin pandas in general are not very common, more often than not, one of the twin cubs doesn’t survive.

Ever since then, I have been obsessed.  I followed the pandacam for a bit, but was never satisfied with what I saw – because really, there wasn’t a lot going on on the pandacam (so sad).  Zoo Atlanta keeps a blog about the twin baby pandas, and with every picture I see, I love them more and more, and want one of my own.  Or at least to hold one of them.  Did I tell you already that I’m obsessed?!

I am well aware that, although they are cute and fuzzy right now, and easily cuddleable, one day they will be huge.  I am also aware that it is probably illegal to have a panda for a pet, even if it is just a baby.  For about a week I was considering adopting a panda from one of the wildlife websites, and getting a t-shirt with a panda on it.  I haven’t done either of those things yet, but I’m still thinking about it.  What I do have in my possession though, courtesy of my friend Melissa, is a panda pillow-pet, which arrived last week.  It’s not a real baby panda, but it’s cute, cuddly, and it won’t get any bigger.  And.  I love it.  I know, I am a huge dork…but I don’t care!

To Tattoo, or Not to Tattoo?

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you the same thing: I am not a tattoo girl.  Sure, I played around with temp tattoos when I was a child, putting them on with a damp sponge or cloth, as per the instructions.  But, the last couple times I did that, I remember wanting to get the temp off of me asap, going insofar as using rubbing alcohol to get it off, only to leave my skin pink and sensitive.  I’m the girl who has never done anything permanent to her body with the exception of getting her ears pierced once.  I could never have been okay with having multiple holes on my ears, and aside from that, the only other thing I had ever thought about doing was a belly ring.  I didn’t do that because I have a birthmark slightly above my belly button, and felt that that was decoration enough for me, and I am completely happy with my decision.

So, back to tattoos.  Other than the fact that they are permanent, and removing them is a painfully long and expensive process, another reason that has always stopped me from getting tattoos (other than just not liking most of them) is the needles.  I have a fear of needles.  When I was younger, my mother would take me to the doctor for a checkup, and when it got to the point where they would administer my yearly shots, I would run away, literally.  I would run out of the room as fast as my little legs could carry me.  I would run under the nurse’s desk and reception.  I would just run.  Of course, eventually I would be found, picked up and taken back into the room to get my shots, but I wouldn’t be happy about it.  Today I no longer run away from doctors, but I do always almost pass out while getting a needle or when having blood drawn.  I wish I wasn’t so squeamish, and I know that it is a mind-over-matter thing, but at my age, I still have not been able to master this.  I even have sat in while other people were getting tattoos, and got the same feeling in the pit of my stomach and had to turn away.  It’s kind of embarrassing, but I always warn people ahead of time.  Blood and needles are soooo not my thing. 

Why am I considering a tattoo all of a sudden?  Don’t worry, it’s not because I’m going through a mid-life crisis: I’m way too young for that!  I guess it is more of a, if you see something that you really like, then you allow yourself the possibility of changing your beliefs for this one exception.  I am a firm believer that nothing is written in stone, and that just because I’ve said for years that I dislike something doesn’t mean that I am never going to change my mind about it.  My friend Melissa and I were talking about this last week.  We both have been thinking about getting the same tattoo, in the same place.  We have a couple of reasons for this: we think that the area that we are considering is sexy and we both really love the symbol not just for the physicality of it, but also for its meaning: perfection, equilibrium, long lasting friendship or relationship.  Melissa and I both think that is beautiful.

Instead of running to the first tattoo parlor that we see, because I have been a non-tattooer for as long as I can remember, I went onto Amazon last week, found the symbol that we want and ordered it for us to try on together, as a sort of test run for the real thing – if we happen to do it.  The temp tattoos are a bit bigger than either of us would like to have – if we do decide to go permanent they would be significantly smaller – but I think that they are a great way to see if we really are willing to do this.  I think that I definitely am, but as I said before, I always hesitate to do anything permanent to my body, so I will wait and see.  When you have a bff who is as good to you as mine is, sometimes you end up doing things that you would never expect yourself to do…and have a blast while doing it.

Vitamin C Facial Radiance Capsules

On my most recent trip to The Body Shop, I was in search of a facial serum that had an extra boost of moisturizer. With the impending winter upon us, I know my skin looses moisture. I’ve tried all different things, even slathering a little vaseline on dry areas. Vaseline works, only I have always been afraid that using it too much on my face would be more detrimental than good – after all, it seals in the skin and doesn’t allow it to breathe, so for as much good as it does, I think using vaseline on the face is only a once in a while option.

Hence, The Body Shop. Of course, before going I had done a little research. I was torn between a normal serum, and one in the form of capsules. After speaking with a sales associate there, I was convinced that the capsules were for me. They ensured an exact dosage so as not to put on too much at one time, they were more concentrated in vitamin c so they would be more efficient, and they were capsules which I thought was cute. So, I bought them: Vitamin C Facial Radiance Capsules.

The way to use this product, is after showering and under your normal moisturizer; they’re supposed to act as an extra moisturizer, and also draw yours into your skin more. The first night that I used the capsules, I was in love. They did exactly what I was told they would; made my face velvety smooth…and I saw a little glow too.

I used the product two more nights in a row, obsessed with getting that velvety smooth feeling again and again, but I, who hardly ever breaks out, ended up with two visible pimples. Defeated, I retired the capsules for a few weeks, not knowing what to do with them. Then, Sunday I had a brilliant idea: I could still use them, just not multiple days in a row, and a bit sparingly.

I know my skin. Yes, it sometimes needs a little extra moisturizer, but there’s only so much concentration of a good thing it can take at once. The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Facial Radiance Capsules are amazing, but you need to know how much or how little your skin can take of them at a time. But one thing you will always get, is the velvety smoothness. Well worth the trials of calculating the percentage of use you need.

Dîner en Blanc

Last night, I was having drinks in Bryant Park when suddenly, a sea of people dressed all in white took over the park.  My friends and I couldn’t help but stare in wonder and a little bit of envy, wanting to know what exactly was going on, and at the same time, wishing that we were a part of it.   It felt like it had come straight out of a movie, perhaps a Gatsby related event even.  Whatever it was, I was determined to find out: I needed to know.  My opportunity arose when, upon entering the ladies room, I saw one of those such white-clad people fixing her makeup.  She was happy to share the much coveted information with me.  The name of the event: Dîner en Blanc.

I had never heard of this event and immediately took to googling.  Dîner en Blanc is relatively new to New York, as this was only the third annual event held here.  It originated in Paris twenty-five years ago, by François Pasquier, who, having just returned home after living abroad for a few years, decided to throw a dinner party with all of his friends.  Each of his friends brought a friend, and everyone wore white.  Thus, Dîner en Blanc was created.

Dîner en Blanc is highly exclusive.  To be able to participate one must either receive an invite, or be randomly selected from their waiting list.   The events are held in public places that are usually crowded and were not meant to host this type of thing.  The locations are not disclosed until thirty minutes prior to the start of the festivities, then guests scramble from their designated meeting places in order to get there and set up.  Everyone is dressed head-to-toe in white, bringing with them everything that they will need: a table, two white folding chairs, a white table cloth, a picnic basket with food and tableware.

Last night, four thousand people were at Bryant Park for Dîner en Blanc.  Four thousand.  When I described it as a sea of people, I was not exaggerating.  I put myself on the waiting list and hopefully will be one of those people next year.

Revenge (TV series)

For months, Melissa has been talking about the TV series Revenge, how she got into it with her boyfriend and then later her mother, and how, aside from it being utterly entertaining, it is also highly addicting.  I can vouch for both of those things, since I have now become an addict, but it took me a while to realize it and get passed the title, which does not bring pleasant things to mind…I had to open my mind, something that I have been starting to do more and more as of late.

I had caught part of an episode a while ago, but could not get into it at all since I had no idea of what was going on.  So, I dismissed Melissa’s offers of loaning me the first season…until last Tuesday when she brought it with her to my place.  I put it by my TV and forgot about it until she brought it up two days later over Red Mango, telling me to as least watch one episode.  On Friday, having a relaxing weekend of nothing spread before me, I decided to give Revenge a try.  I ended up watching six episodes that night and had to pry myself off of the couch…I was hooked.

For those of you that don’t know, Revenge revolves around main character Emily Thorne, who’s real identity is Amanda Clarke.  She is the daughter of David Clarke, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for treason and later killed: a patsy.    Before he died, David Clarke put together a box of information so that his daughter would learn the truth, implicating, among many, the Graysons as having a huge part in his imprisonment; it had been their company that he had worked for.  Emily travels back to the Hamptons (where it all started) to see revenge, taking up residence at the beach house that her dad had once owned, which, coincidentally is right next door to the Grayson estate.  It is known that Victoria Grayson had had an affair with David Clarke and that she was in love with him; it is also known that she later betrayed him to save herself.

The series is labeled as an evening soap opera, and in many ways (betrayal, secrets, lies) it is, but it also resembles that of a thriller, which is why I think I like it so much (Tana French).  Behind all of the drama is a story, and although I, myself am nothing like Emily Thorne, I can’t help by root for her.  There is a vulnerability to her that she barely shows, but you can feel it bubbling underneath the surface, just waiting to explode.  Something interesting for the literaries, as I have been doing a bunch of googling in regards to this show, I found out that it was inspired by Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, the character of Emily being based on the main character Edmond Dantès (a female version of course).  I have not actually read this book, but I know people who have and they loved it.  It also kind of makes me want to add it to my reading list.  Season three starts at the end of the month and I plan on watching it, in the meantime, I’ll be starting season two by next week at the latest.

Visiting Red Hook Winery

This past Saturday, I dragged my boyfriend to Red Hook Winery for a private tour and barrel tasting.  It was a hot and humid day, and the walk was around twenty minutes each way.  I immediately regretted showering and putting on makeup before we left.  I showered not too long after we got home, but, to my chagrin, I spotted a pimple the next morning.

Upon our arrival, I was sad to see that it did not look exactly as I had expected – the word rustic in my head carved up a darker, cozier feel than the winery that I was presented with.  I had imagined exposed beams and brick (the urban rustic), and low, vaulted ceilings.  Instead, there were a few barrels in the center where a small group was doing a tasting, counters with a kitchen-like feel along the side, and ceilings that were neither low nor vaulted.

It took a few minutes for someone to attend to us, and my vision of the experience started to falter, but thankfully, it ended with that.  The guy who did our tasting and tour was very knowledgeable about the wines and the different processes of how they were made.  The wines that we tasted were chosen mostly to my preference, with a few others mixed in for comparisons (each time he gave us a comparison, it ended up being a wine that I didn’t care for).

After tasting seven different wines, he took us on the tour, showing us the machinery they used, explaining how the grapes went from being on the stems to being separated and crushed (sometimes with feet), to being in vats and barrels (French oak and steel).  He explained how they had faired last year after the hurricane had hit, since they are directly on the pier.  They had just finished their harvest and the wines were already in barrels, but they are not sure how those will fair and it is too early to tell.  Then, we went to the barrel room, where we tried three different wines directly from the barrels (my favorite part!).

I ended up purchasing a slightly buttery chardonnay (of which I was first introduced to the likes by Billy’s parents and now love) and a cabernet franc, although sadly, my favorite wine had to be left behind as it was sitting in a barrel.  It was a fun thing to do and I definitely plan on doing it again, but perhaps when it is a little cooler out.

Cheating on the Body Shop

I am a Body Shop girl through and through, completely addicted to an array of products from there, however, my last couple of makeup purchases have not come from my belov’ed store.  They’ve come from Sephora.  It started with a lipstick…let me explain.

s1006840-main-heroI recently have given up lip gloss in favor of lipstick (don’t fret lip gloss, I will be back!), and have been into shades of pink that add noticeable color without being too much: I’ve always favored the natural look.  And it seems that I have sped further then the Body Shop.  Basically, I was waiting for their new lipstick line to come out, and I couldn’t wait anymore.  It is available online, but won’t be in stores until after Labor Day (which isn’t that far away now, but it was a few weeks ago), and makeup really is one of those things that should not be purchased online unless it is a color that you’ve already owned before.  So, I walked to Sephora, and with the help of one of their employees, picked out the perfect shade of muted coral from Givenchy’s Rouge Interdit Satin collection (No 03 – secret pink).  It has become my go-to lipstick for now, but I will be returning to the Body Shop next week to check out their new collection.

s1520352-main-heroWhile there, I spotted Bobbi Brown’s limited edition Navy & Nude eye palette, which has beautiful nudes and a very dark navy blue.  Initially, I left Sephora without it, thinking that I only line my eyes with a very dark grey or black and that navy would be too much color for me (did I mention that I like to stick with natural colors when dealing with makeup?).  Then I read the reviews for it, and it seemed that it wasn’t as noticeable a blue as I had thought.  After toying with the idea for a couple of weeks, I ventured back to Sephora, testing the colors on my hand and eventually purchasing it…and I’m glad that I did.  Honestly, you can’t really tell that the shadow (or in my case liner) is blue, it just adds a little something that you wouldn’t get out of my usual black or dark grey.  So, if you’re in the mood for a strikingly obvious pop of blue, this palette unfortunately is not for you, but if you’re like me, then it’s perfect.

As for the Body Shop, perhaps it isn’t a bad idea to branch out a little with my makeup, but I still will predominantly be making my beauty purchases from there.

A Winery in Brooklyn


About a week ago (a week from yesterday to be exact), my boyfriend and I set out with friends on a twenty-something minute walk for delish key lime pie from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, located near the water in Red Hook.  If you have never been there, it is definitely worth the trip.

On our walk over there (basically right near it) I saw a sign that said “winery” with an arrow pointing to the left.  I forgot about it for most of the week until Friday, when I googled “winery near key lime pie place in Brooklyn.”  A few wine/liquor stores came up, and then I found it.  Red Hook Winery.

Started in July of 2008, Red Hook Winery brings in grapes from fifteen different vineyards in New York.  For $12 you can have a tasting of six wines, your choice, and there’s a $5 option as well (tasting of three wines).  What I’m really excited about are the tours.  For $15 you can do a tour (weekends only) and choose five wines to taste.  The best offer though (I feel) comes for $25: you get a private tour and barrel tasting of six wines of your choice…and for only $10 more, a cheese plate is included.

The decor has been described as rustic, and they do private parties (fyi).  I spent the weekend convincing my boyfriend to go with me, using key lime pie as a bribe, and it worked!  Now, to pick a date…sooner rather than later would be preferable seeing as how Red Hook Winery is located on the water and they open their doors (during good weather), allowing you to taste wine with a spectacular vie of NYC…I guess I will have to start liking Brooklyn 🙂