Here are some photos from my recent trip to the desert. I’m already looking at the calendar for Christmas 2019. I need to get back there again to spend time with someone I dearly love and to soak in more of this beauty.
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A new year is probably the ultimate holiday gift, don’t you think? Receiving the chance to try again to get things right, to attempt something new, to do something better, is a luxury not everyone gets and while I’m not a devotee of the typical new year’s resolution, I do get a little jazzed by a clean slate on which to write a fresh chapter.
I’ve decided that my task for 2019 is to work on accepting what others give me with grace. Whether it’s a physical gift, a kind word, or an opportunity to experience something, I want to be able to receive and accept it with openness. That may sound simple to you, but it isn’t always easy for a person who is accustomed to meeting their own needs and prides themself on being fiercely independent.
This grace to which I aspire is something I probably should have begun working on long ago – like that time a friend’s family took me to Florida with them for vacation and I attempted to pay for my meal* at a rest area on the Jersey Turnpike. My friend’s father spoke to me quietly, with kindness in his voice, and told me they had invited me with the expectation that they would be paying my way, unheard of (and unimaginable) in my world. Just like seeing Florida for the first time, his generosity will be something I’ll never forget.
On New Year’s Eve I had my first chance to start practicing being graceful. I was presented with a thoughtful and unexpected gift, a gift that I might have been inclined to resist because it was generous and felt like too much after having been hosted as a houseguest for nearly a week. Instead of immediately declining though, I paused, took a breath and accepted my present with a sincere thank you. I love the gift and will use it frequently and I know that my thoughtful and dear friend was happy giving it to me.
How about you? Is there something you’re hoping to find or create in your own life this year?
*I had $50, given to me by my brother, for a 10 day vacation. I was poor – and clueless.
The other afternoon I hit the hills for a hike/run. The sun was warm and I was comfortable in a tank top and capri length pants – a treat to someone who has been layering up in UnderArmour for the past couple of months.
I made it up the first long, steep hill without pause, using my technique of only looking up to the top of the hill once before training my gaze to the ground more immediately in front of me. I find this A. helps me to not get intimidated by how much farther I have to go and B. limits my likelihood of tripping and falling down.
The next hill leveled me. Hands on knees, gasping, I took a moment to look around. The San Jacinto mountains divided the horizon between sky and desert and I was struck by my incredible good fortune. I got to be here, right now, stretching my legs and challenging myself by running up a friggin killer hill in the sunshine. How lucky was I?
As my breathing evened out, I considered that in 2018 I’ve run surrounded by some pretty incredible mountain views – Vesuvius, the Austrian Alps and now these brown mountains dusted with snow in the distance. My eyes welled up and a tear leaked out before I burst out laughing. What a gift, what a life, what a day.
I took a deep breath and started running again.
When you make plans with your two favorite running partners more than a week in advance, it isn’t possible to predict the weather. No surprise then that the evening arrived with a pissing rain that would inspire most folks to skip the 5 miles and head directly to a restaurant for some holiday cheer. But, we luna b*tches are a hearty breed and despite a moment’s wishful thinking, we were committed. We headed out at about 6:30 and, surprisingly, the rain wasn’t nearly as bad as we had anticipated. I mean, we got soaked, but it wasn’t particularly cold, and the holiday lights decorating the homes along our route provided a warmth of their own.
Following our run, we cleaned up and drove to our dinner destination – Capital City Gastropub. I hadn’t been there in a few months, the menu is always interesting, and their burger is consistently dynamite. We arrived a bit after 8:00 and were immediately seated in a comfy corner. After selecting drinks (the Cremant I wanted wasn’t available, but I was happy with my Sauvignon Blanc) and an order of Brussels sprouts, we made some decisions about what to eat.
My go to order here is the Kilcoyne burger, rare, no bun but with cheddar cheese and carmelized onions. Fries crispy, please. Without fail, my burger arrives exactly as requested with a great sear, beautifully seasoned and always perfectly cooked. The fries, such a seemingly simple side dish, are burn-my-mouth hot and worth every fatty calorie, something that is far too frequently not the case when I order them at other places.
The Brussels sprouts arrived, firm and bright in a light sweet and sour sauce filled with umami. So different than the usual fried or bacon garnished preparations seen around town. We finished them up and shortly afterwards, our mains arrived. My burger was prepared precisely as ordered and the other two plates were also well received. K went with the New Scotland Hot Chicken sandwich, a riff on Nashville style hot chicken and was really happy with her choice. The spice level was balanced and not blazing and the portion was generous without being overwhelming. C’s Grilled Squash Sandwich was nicely presented and seemed to satisfy the need for a solid, but not too heavy meal. We shared a Bibb lettuce salad on the side which was the ideal accompaniment to our plates and tweaked K’s fondness for citrus and greens.
There were no pictures taken of the food because we were too busy eating and talking and laughing to pause for anything beyond this little selfie.
Dinner – an appetizer, a salad, three sandwiches, 3 glasses of wine and a soda totaled $96 pre-tip, a small price to pay for the satisfaction we got from running 5 miles in the rain and rewarding ourselves with simple food made from quality ingredients. You’re welcome to skip the run, but don’t miss eating here.
Do I look like a desert girl to you? I said desert, not dessert, folks… As a fair skinned, half Irish person, I never imagined that I would be so captivated by the desert, specifically Palm Springs, but I absolutely love it there. There’s something about the dry heat, spectacular mountains and clear, cool nights that keeps me coming back for more and I’m excited to be visiting a close friend who lives there soon.
Have you been there? It truly is a desert oasis – gorgeous homes, beautiful people and a climate that during the winter and spring months offers fantastic running in the hills surrounding the city. Palm Springs is the place where I ate my first Mexican food and drank my first margarita, which obviously makes it forever special. I’ve also taken the aerial tramway to the top of the San Jacintos for a “hike,” spent a significant amount of time hanging out poolside, and, way back in the day, went as close to clubbing as I’ve ever been. It’s a fun, cool town and I’m looking forward to getting back there this winter.
Now, here’s where you come in – beyond the experiences I’ve already enjoyed in PS, what should I do when I’m there? I’ve been drawn to a mid-century modern aesthetic in recent years and am thinking that an architectural house tour might be fun. Have you ever done that there? The last time I was in Palm Springs I found a nice little hot yoga studio that I may hit up again, but maybe you have a recommendation for a place for a challenging class or two, preferably not Bikram? There seem to be hot springs in the area and I would love to soak outdoors in some hot and bubbly water. Suggestions? And, lastly, maybe you’ve been to the surrounding area? What else should I try to see when I’m there?
You know that credit game? The one when you transfer an outstanding balance on a credit card to a new bank which promises zero percent interest for a limited amount of time, which gives you enough time to pay off your debt at a minimal expense? Well, back in the day, I was a champ at that game. My recent experience with Rent the Runway provided me with a similar sense of totally–getting–over–on–the–man accomplishment.
To recap, I purchased a one month unlimited subscription which provided me with 4 garments at a time with an unlimited number of swaps for new items. There was no charge for shipping, cleaning or insurance. All this came for a special offer price of $106, a great discount from the usual $159+ tax charge.
Here’s how I maximized my rentals:
I’ve placed my membership on “hold” rather than cancelling it, which gives me the option of simply restarting my subscription. This courtesy is available for 3 months at which point I’ll need to either restart or cancel. I’ll see what kind of deals I’m offered in the next 10 or 12 weeks and will consider reactivating if the price is right and my social life demands an infusion of new outfits.
Overall verdict – awesome. If you’re interested in giving it a whirl, leave a comment and I’ll try to share a code that will give you $30 off your rental.
*even $150 is more than I’ve ever spent on a garment other than a leather coat.
I’m more a wine or cider girl, but I’m smitten with Amaro, an Italian liqueur. There’s something about this herbaceous, syrupy elixir that I really enjoy when I’m looking for a nightcap of just few sips of something alcoholic. I picked up a bottle of it last winter when I was coming home from Rome and every so often it’s exactly what I’m looking for at the end of a night.
Flipping through the November issue of Bon Appetit last week, I came across a super simple (2 ingredients and a citrus garnish) cocktail using Amaro and just knew it would be the perfect cocktail to offer my guests at our family Thanksgiving dinner – the Fall Spritz. It’s four parts of dry, hard cider to one part Amaro. Talk about two of my favorite things! As I finished the food preparations, I handed the magazine and the task to my trusty neighbor and he mixed us up a batch.
It was a delicious way to start a festive night – fairly low in alcohol, not overly sweet and with a bit of effervescence from the cider. Yummy! It was a unanimous verdict and that round of drinks, I expect, will not be the last time we enjoy that particular libation together.
I stopped downtown the other night at dp’s, intending to indulge in one of their well crafted cocktails from the current list, however, I stopped in my tracks when I read the ingredients of an appealing cocktail. There was one made with Amaro! I cheekily asked the bartender if he would go off menu and make me a fall spritz. As ever, he accommodated my request and made two versions using different styles of Amaro. It seems there are many varieties and they range in color (and taste, I imagine) from light to dark amber.
My preference is the darker version and that was the cocktail I selected – and thoroughly enjoyed. I may need more Amaro.