Month: May 2015

Counting the Clouds

Clouds

Over Memorial Day weekend, I did something I haven’t done in years. No, I’m not talking about returning all of my recent purchases, skipping the trip to get ice cream, or beginning to tackle my lengthy to-do list that I swore to myself I would start. What I did was simple — it involved no money or material things.

While catching up with a friend and spending some time in the good old outdoors with her dog, I laid in the grass and just looked up at the sky. It may sound silly, but it is something I used to do as a child. Remember those days? When life was easier and the highlight was getting to play tag with your friends after school? I miss those days. And while sitting on the beach comes close to evoking the same feelings, there was something about laying on the grass and watching the sparse cloud pattern that brought back a certain peace for me. I could have stayed there for hours — my face under the warm, bright sun and my hands gliding over the sharp blades of grass. In those moments under the sky, I let my mind go blank and my thoughts wander. It was probably one of the most relaxing things I have done, and yet I never would have thought to do it as an adult.

So, now that another weekend is upon us, how will you choose to unwind from the week? Even if it is only a few minutes, do one thing that brings you joy. See an old friend you’ve been meaning to call, spend some time reading that book you’ve been reaching for, or do nothing but watch the clouds pass.

Whatever you do, I hope you have a great weekend!

Diggin’ the Dirty Burger

Dirty Burger - Plainview, New York

What could be more fun than trying a new burger joint out on a holiday like Memorial Day? Especially when the place is named Dirty Burger. My friend Linda had little convincing to do to make me realize that I needed to try this place. And, boy, was she right! I may be loyal to a few (okay, you got me, many) burger places, but dare I say this was the most delicious burger I’ve ever tasted?

It’s true. In terms of uniqueness, Dirty Burger in Plainview, New York wins the award hands-down. I knew when the server came over to explain the concept of their burgers to me that this was going to be an experience. First off, no explanation can prepare you for that initial bite, but let me try to recap it for you. The Dirty Burger consists of an 8-ounce, hormone-free, 100% beef patty that has been perfectly seasoned with a blend of spices called “Dirty Dust.” No, it’s not what you are thinking. Chef Ian Russo has combed the world to concoct the perfect blend of spices to season the beef. And if you really like it, you can purchase Dirty Dust for your own cooking needs. The combination of Dirty Dust, honey and the freshest meat makes this one mouth-watering burger.

Dirty Burger -- Plainview, New York

Linda suggested I order the Original Dirty Burger with cheddar cheese, which comes dirty-dipped and honey-grilled with a side of Dirty Fries. I also couldn’t resist a vanilla milkshake. But for the adventurous types, the Cookies ‘N Cream and Dirty Caramel shakes sounded pretty tempting, too.

Original Dirty Burger - Dirty Burger - Plainview, New York

I can say with absolute certainty that the first bite won me over. This burger was seriously juicy, with a taste unlike anything I had ever had before – it was sweet with a mild kick. To be honest, this plain Jane likes her burgers simple – with no condiments, so I wasn’t sure about the addition of spices and honey. But, wow! I was blown away at how the additional flavors enhanced the burger and made it taste so extraordinary.

And, if the burger doesn’t excite you (you might want to check your pulse), give the Dirty turkey, lamb, bison, chicken, or salmon a try. This place has something for everyone and will definitely melt your heart once you try it.

Insta-instants

Happy Friday! I always look forward to Memorial Day weekend, which is the “unofficial” start of summer. This year is no exception. I am attending my second kickboxing class on Saturday (let’s hope I’m not sore for four days again!) and will end the day with a baseball game and fireworks. With any luck, the weather will cooperate and there will be some beach time and a little rest and relaxation over the long weekend.

I hope you all have nice plans and enjoy your three-day weekend!

Cherry Blossoms

{Beautiful blooms}

Do What Makes You Happy

{Sometimes happiness is a cup of Starbucks}

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Buns

{A morning treat on my favorite Anthropologie plate}

Kickboxing

{Think this will be me soon?}

Pink Punk Cosmo

{Pink Punk Cosmo from TGI Fridays}

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Summer Splurges

Since technically the season still is spring, this post may seem premature. But with the onset of warmer days (we’ve been blessed with a few hot ones so far…and I’m not complaining!), I’ve gotten slightly carried away thinking about what I’ll need for my favorite three months. I’m looking forward to a summer spent wrapped in floral prints, one-piece suits, stylish sandals, and a new nail polish shade, of course. Here are a few things I’ll be splurging on!

Summer Splurges

Kickin’ It in Kickboxing

Victory Mixed Martial Arts - Kickboxing

Over the weekend, I tried my first kickboxing class. Let me just say — I might be hooked. It was such a great workout (even though I thought I was going to pass out after five minutes of rigorous exercise).

My friend Fran, who has been taking kickboxing classes for a while at Victory Mixed Martial Arts (VMA) in West Islip, New York, invited me to join her. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, so needless to say, I was excited.

Victory Mixed Martial Arts - Kickboxing

I knew I was in for a workout, but really wasn’t sure how intense it would be. Our instructor, Charlie, had us begin by running around the perimeter of the studio to get our heart rates up. Loud music got my feet moving fast, and within a few minutes I realized that I was fairly out of shape. After our “warm-up” run we did a series of jumps, squats and push-ups before securing our spot with a free standing punching bag. We started off with some right-left punches and gradually added in upper hooks. Next we incorporated kicks into the sequence. This works your whole body, and midway through, I could feel my arms and legs becoming sore.

For the last part of the class we worked with a partner on the punching bags and each took turns punching or kicking for ten reps while the other person spotted the bag. Lastly, we used a resistance band around the base of the punching bag and did sit-ups while our partners gripped our legs. The final minutes were spent on working and maintaining a strong core through leg-lifts and scissor kicks.

Victory Mixed Martial Arts - Kickboxing

{I survived my first class!}

If you’re new to kickboxing, here are some things to keep in mind:

Bring water. I forgot to remember this helpful bit of advice that applies to 100% of fitness classes. Thankfully, Fran was kind enough to think of me and brought along an extra bottle (thanks, Fran!). I chugged a lot of water throughout the class, so it would be wise to have one or two on hand.

Wear comfortable clothes. Kickboxing works your entire body, so wear something that moves easily and is lightweight.

Bring hand sanitizer. Unless you own boxing gloves, chances are you are going to have to use the ones at the studio. Just in case there is no hand sanitizer provided, you might want to have your own supply.

Wear sticky socks. Since there are no shoes allowed on the mat, I opted to wear my socks, which made the run part a bit challenging (especially around the turns). You might want to wear socks with some grip so you don’t slip on the mats if you opt to leave them on.

Do what you can. This was a small class, but there were clearly people well more advanced than I. It’s easy to want to give it your all, but listen to your body if you feel you need a break.

As a workout, this class was fabulous. There was so much energy in the room that the time went by quickly. Charlie did a great job going through the sequences and motivating us throughout the class. I am looking forward to getting fit with kickboxing and making this class a weekly occurrence.

On the Hunt in My Hometown

Honu Kitchen & Cocktails

When Eventbrite, a global marketplace for events, told me that they had a project called Hometown Hunt, showcasing the best places to visit for entertainment, I knew I had to write about a real “hunt” — that is, Huntington, New York. It is my old hometown, but also still a place that is near and dear to my heart. Whenever I crave a great restaurant, want to go to a concert, or need an afternoon of retail therapy, Huntington is my one-stop shop. I am not alone in thinking this. Day or night, Huntington Village never sleeps, with lots of events for singles and families alike.

One of my favorite spots is Honu Kitchen & Cocktails. A friend introduced me to the establishment years ago, and in no time it earned a permanent spot on my list of best places to dine. It’s location is ideal, right across from The Paramount for those inclined to do dinner and a concert, and it has just the right ambiance to make every meal feel elegant and special.

Paramount, Huntington, NY

Whether you are looking for a place to have a casual evening with friends or you need to host a more elaborate dinner, Honu has you covered. If the weather is nice, enjoy your meal seated next to picturesque windows that retract to bring the outside in (and offer a great vantage point for people-watching!) or just go ahead and dine al fresco entirely. For larger formal affairs, take a seat in one of their over-sized booths or head upstairs to the second floor. From wherever you are seated, don’t forget to admire the beautiful chandeliers down the center of the main dining area.

Honu Kitchen & Cocktails

Honu Kitchen & Cocktails

And now, for the reason we all go out to eat…the food. I think Honu has one of the best menus. It’s simple yet satisfying. Start off with one of their specialty cocktails — the coconut martini is a good choice. Then make your way over to the menu. Their wide range of appetizers and entrées will keep your mouth watering and your mind second-guessing your decision. Whatever you choose, you will be pleased. My favorite is their half-pound cheddar burger with applewood smoked bacon. I’m not sure if it’s the burger or the presentation of fries in a mini deep fry basket that keeps me ordering it every time I stop in, but both are delicious.

Coconut Martini - Honu Kitchen & Cocktails

Cheddar Burger - Honu Kitchen & Cocktails

If by chance you have room for dessert after a decadent meal, then go ahead and check out Honu’s tasty assortment of treats. I had a chocolate cake on one of my visits that was simply too much for this choc-o-holic to handle…and that’s saying a mouthful! Should you get off unscathed by the dessert menu but are still in the mood for something sweet, Herrell’s Ice Cream is the ultimate destination. Located right across from the movie theatre, this Huntington treasure is a must if you crave ice cream and want a plethora of flavors (they have over 200!). If it’s summertime, you can be sure that I am cooling off after a long beach day with some delicious ice cream in their shop. Whatever flavor is for you, it will be at Herrell’s. Feel free to create something unique with one of many delectable toppings. My guilty pleasure is their peanut butter paradise, which has chunks of broken peanut butter cups.

Herrell's Ice Cream

After dessert, take a stroll around the Village and browse some of the quaint boutiques. It’s home to LOFT as well as local stores such as Vine & Roses. And if you’re lucky, maybe there will even be an event at Heckscher Park while you are there!

Huntington is such a vibrant town. It has an energy and excitement that are palpable and it always offers lots to do. Visit Eventbrite’s site to see what fun events are coming up and go try something new! Eventbrite is also a great place to check out if you’re looking to organize or sell tickets to an event.

Hats Off to Spring

Hats Off to Spring

Let me start off by saying that a hat person, I am not. Don’t get me wrong — I adore them. But finding the right one has been a challenge. However, after getting a nasty sunburn in California, and with new sundresses in my closet, I have decided that the search for the perfect hat is on!

Over-sized floppy hats always seemed elegant to me. With polo season upon us, and the Hampton Classic not too far off now, I decided to curate some of my favorite looks. I have a feeling more than one of these beauties will make the cut!

Do What Makes You Happy

Do More of What Makes You Happy

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy, both personally and professionally. The above photo is from a small jewelry dish that I picked up in a boutique in San Francisco last month. Its message resonated with me, and the cheerful colors put a smile on my face. Ever since I got home, this dish has had a permanent spot on my desk, and the phrase in my mind. How often do you think about what truly makes you happy? And how often do you do things that counteract this goal?

One thing that brings me happiness is my (almost!) daily stop at Starbucks. You probably have your favorite morning rituals — and, perhaps, a morning beverage that helps you start your day off right. For me, that drink is a tall White Chocolate Mocha, which I have been ordering for longer than I would like to admit. Recently, the indulgence has extended and the coffee must be accompanied by a bacon, egg and Gouda breakfast sandwich. Now, I realize spending $8.04 a day (yikes!) on breakfast may sound excessive to you. And, Suze Orman, if you happen to be reading, I know you would give me a “smackdown” and deny me so fast!

Let me explain. I am fully aware that my Starbucks habit is an indulgence…and I would save a lot of money if I made coffee at home — or stopped at a cheaper place. But my morning visit to Starbucks, and drinking my cup of deliciousness on the way to work, make me happy. Sure, there are days where I settle for making an iced coffee at home, or skip caffeine altogether. Then there are the days that the struggle to get out of bed is all too real and the thought of my morning coffee is just what I need to help my cause. There have also been times in my life where I have kicked the habit and gone months, even years, without a single stop at Starbucks.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I’d like to stress the importance of finding what makes you happy. It may not be a sugary beverage, but whatever it is, enjoy it…be true to it, and to yourself, because at the end of the day, life is short — so go ahead and order the Starbucks!

Happy Monday!

Spring Has Sprung

Circle-Skirt Dress - H&M

Circle-Skirt Dress - H&M

Circle-Skirt Dress - H&M

It’s official! Spring has finally found its way to Long Island and I couldn’t be happier. With warmer temperatures in mind, and time to stroll in Georgetown last week, I surveyed a few stores for a new spring look. What I found was a blue and yellow circle-skirt dress in a printed pattern at H&M that was too cute to pass up. The bright color, which didn’t resemble anything in my closet, caught my eye.

This vibrant dress is sure to get a lot of mileage this spring and summer. I’m already putting it to good use today and dressing it up with gold accessories and my Franco Sarto wedges (which are still comfy and have been on major repeat!). Paired with a navy blazer and perhaps a muted pump, it makes a great office ensemble. For a casual feel, wedges or sandals will keep this look comfortable and chic. Either way, this fitted dress with a playful print is a welcome addition to my wardrobe for spring.