Friday, February 26, 2010

This Will Put Some Hair On Your Chest

When Ben and I stayed with my grandma and grandpa in Florida, we visited a nearby town that boasts "sponge docks". The sponge docks are where boats go out and bring back sponges from the ocean to sell. The industry started around 1900 when experienced divers from Greece moved to Tarpon Springs to dive for sponges.

Now, the area boasts many Greek restaurants and bakeries in addition to the sponge shops. Although the need for sponges isn't what it once was, men still continue the tradition.

We browsed one shop and really liked the young guy who showed us the different sponges that he had gotten from the ocean. If we bought one, he said, we got a free shot of ouzo.

"Ouzo?" I hesitantly replied.

"A Greek liquor," he said. "90 proof."

He needn't tell us twice - when in Rome, do as the Romans do! We bought the sponge and he poured us little plastic cups of ouzo. I sniffed it. My bravery wavered. It smelled like liquified black licorice. Uh-oh!

Ben nodded his head and without thinking twice, we downed our ouzo (I chased mine with a cup of water). Whew! If anything is going to put hair on your chest... THAT will.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

$ Deals $

In New York, prices are sky high. Everything is more expensive – rent, groceries, restaurants, toiletries – everything! You name it, and I guarantee costs more with the exception of two things… Subway’s $5 foot long sandwiches and Domino’s $5 pizzas.

Subway and Dominos are only a few of the national chain restaurants that don’t exclude New York City in their promotions. The deal that you can get in Duluth, Minnesota or Owensboro, Kentucky is the same deal that you can get in New York City. We, New Yorkers, thank the fine establishments that give us a break. Well, at least, we “transplanted” New Yorkers are thankful. “Born-and-bred” New Yorkers often look down on Dominos because their “taste buds are too evolved” for mass produced low budget food. Whatever, we LOVE it!

Most chain restaurant ads we watch on TV – Red Lobster’s “All You Can Eat Lobster Fest” for example – exclude New York City. Applebees, Chilis, and Outback deals never apply to New York City. Watch the disclaimer at the end of the commercials. You’ll see it.

But, we would rarely eat at these chains in New York even if the deals did extend to our zip code. Especially since we have some of the best restaurants in the world within an eight-mile radius. We wouldn’t trade our local joints ‘round the corner for chains. Snobby, yes. But, with the selection we have, we can afford to be that way.

Still, Ben and I hold Subway and Dominos near and dear to our hearts. There is no beating their prices. It’s quality and quantity rolled in one. Nothing, nothing is more delicious than a $5 foot long Italian BMT toasted to perfection or a slice of thin-crust Hawaiian pizza.

Hey, everybody appreciates a good deal now and then.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I took this picture of Ben on a nice sunny day in Florida. A day that we haven't seen in NYC for quite awhile. We craned our necks toward the sun every chance we got with the hope of catching a few rays to tan our white skin. In Florida, we needed no parkas or winter boots. There was no fear of catching hypothermia when outside for extended periods of time. Ah, it was so nice.

In the picture, Ben must have been thinking... "Man, it'd be nice to move my lovely wife somewhere warm and tropical that always feels like a vacation. She deserves it." Yep, pretty sure that was it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First Class

We visited my grandma and grandpa in Florida this past weekend. My mom, dad, and brother were supposed to meet us down there, but their flight was cancelled because of bad weather in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ugh, winter storms on the east coast… when will they end?

At least Ben and I made it, even if the rest of the family did not. And, boy, oh boy, did we ever enjoy the flight! It was, hands down, the best flight EVER thanks to Ben’s “Medallion Elite” member status with Delta airlines. As a Medallion Elite member, he upgraded us to first class. Ah, the perks associated with marrying a frequent flyer.

I quickly learned that first class is the ONLY way to travel. There is no comparison. Zilch.

I realized this as soon as we settled into the extra comfy oversized seats and the (first class only) stewardess offered me a glass of (free) wine and an unlimited supply of (free) name brand candy bars and chips. All before the plane even fired up the engine! I can’t recall the last time that happened when flying coach.

The view in first class was pleasant; everything behind us was sooo pedestrian – crying babies, crammed seating, limited overhead space, bland snacks, and agitated passengers. Who needs any of that? Not us. No siree.

As our plane sailed down the runway I told Ben, “I can’t wait until they close the curtain to coach because I am so tired of having to look at the commoners when signaling my stewardess for another glass of (free) Minute Maid cranapple juice.” Awful, I know. My mindset totally changed when included in the elite group. I never knew that moving up an echelon would change me so much. I am not who I thought I was.

But, oh, first class, how I love thee!

I loved Ben’s (free) pesto pasta. I loved my (free) cod and chicken wrap. I loved the plethora of (free) snacks and drinks and spot-on service.

Oh! And, what else did I love? The stewardess thinking that I was 22 years old! I don’t know if they’re supposed to say that to first class fliers, but WHATEVER! I appreciated it…

I now end this post with a love letter.

Dear First Class,

I loved you with all of my heart. Without you, my 2 ½ hour flight would have been much less enjoyable. I may never have the opportunity to indulge and revel in your awesomeness again. Just know… I will never forget you.

Itty Bitty

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day

We have a "snow day" in New York City today! An unheard of phenomenon. I now get to enjoy a relaxing Wednesday morning thanks to the predicted "blizzard" we are supposed to get. Don't mind me while I sip hot tea and pack for a weekend trip to Florida to visit my grandparents.

Bloomberg, you really came through today. Thanks, man.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Big Brother

Big Brother was alive.

He materialized, but in an unexpected form… my husband.

I ate lots of ice cream last summer. Heck, my after-school job was next door to Cold Stone Creamery, a couple of buildings down from The Lite Choice, and across the street from Haagen Dazs. There was no getting around a daily cup of frozen dairy loaded with sugar.

One day, I got a phone call from Ben as I enjoyed some mint chocolate chip ice cream.


“Hi!” I replied.

“How is work?”

“Good,” I said.

“How was Haagen Dazs?”

Wait! Whaaaat?!?! How did he know that I got ice cream? We hadn’t spoken since the morning. I scanned the sidewalks. Didn’t see him. I checked the windows of the buildings. Couldn’t find him.

“Oh, and how was lunch at Chipotle?”

Before I could respond, he continued with… “And, babe, please. No more shopping. The Gap, again? Don’t you have everything you need?"

My head spun as I tried to figure out how he knew where I had been that day. How was he tracking me? He had practically mapped out my path through the city.

“How do you know all of this?” I sputtered, incredulous of his all-knowing power.

“Well, there’s this really cool website called that sends updates to my phone every time we use the credit card. And, babe, you have used it quite a few places already. Let’s try to slow down on the spending… And, do you really need to eat ice cream every day?”

I was shocked. Absolutely shocked. I immediately thought, “I won’t be able to get away with anything!”

I was going to have to be craftier. I just didn’t know how…


I got it! I figured out a way to buy what I want without Ben tracking me. It took several months for the idea to come to fruition, but it arrived. My checks are deposited automatically for one job, but my other job requires me to pick up my checks at work. Meaning… I can skim as much off the top as I want before depositing it. Ben would never know how much I could take! Oh, the deviousness!

But, for some reason, my idea seemed so evil and devious, that I just didn’t know if I had the heart to do it. Ben is so sweet and nice. But, oh, I could feel my wallet getting fatter by the second!

I didn’t know the right thing to do, so I told Ben of my idea because I don’t like to hide things from him. He was, naturally, opposed and then became increasingly stressed about not knowing the amount of money spent on ice cream and burritos. I told him this was leverage for me. He begged me to always deposit the whole check, and if I did, he would no longer control the number of cups of ice cream I would eat. Ever. Again.

“Deal,” I said.

And, we (minus one – Big Brother) have lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cooking Catastrophe? Or Success?

Ben came home last night and was frightened by what he saw… me cooking. I cooked last night. No, I didn’t just pop a little frozen treat in the oven and voila! I cooked a FULL MEAL.

A rarity, I know, and, apparently, a little scary.

I impressed myself with my skills in the kitchen, whether it was adding a pinch of salt here or squeezing a lime there. I did well. I got into the groove. Paula Deen had nothin’ on me.

Then Ben came home. He tried to help me in the kitchen (a 3x3 foot space). He sweetly stirred the vegetables on the stove and gave me advice. It wasn’t long, though, before I started to interpret his advice as him telling me how to do things. The heat in the kitchen no longer came from the stove.

Eventually, Ben quieted down and let me cook. For a few minutes at least. I’m not sure what finally made him explode – it could have been the stream of soy sauce that hit the wall and narrowly missed him, or my chopping almonds one-by-one with a large knife, or that I opened a cabinet and almost got beheaded by a metal bowl that fell into the sink and broke a plate.

“Babe, I love you and I love that you’re cooking, but I’m worried. You’re pretty dangerous in the kitchen!”

Aw, what a sweetie. He worried about me. He didn’t want to lose me over a skillet of vegetable stir-fry and a bowl of black bean salsa.

It’s safe to say that I put my time in last night, and more than likely he’ll be back in the kitchen later this week. Thank goodness.

* Note: I KNOW that it is possible to chop more than one almond at a time, but whenever I did the almonds would shoot into the burners on the gas stove. A seemingly more dangerous option.