A bit eerie that I wrote about being at the mercy of the weather yesterday when catastrophic tornadoes were swirling around Oklahoma. Completely and utterly heartbreaking, especially the children. But we can help, and I’d like you to help me if you can. We’ve joined the NYC Food Community For Oklahoma fundraising team to support Team Rubicon‘s disaster response efforts in Moore, Oklahoma. I’ve seen how our local food biz community can rally together in the face of disaster to directly help our community and our city during Hurricane Sandy, and though we are over a thousand miles away from Moore, we can raise money for those who can help. If you aren’t familiar with Team Rubicon, please visit their website to learn more about these group of military veterans, trained and experienced in disaster response. I became familiar with the organization during Sandy and they are the real deal. I think you know how I feel about donating to the Red Cross from my Hurricane Sandy posts, so if you are looking for an alternative organization to donate, please visit our fundraising page and help us meet our modest goal of $1,000. Our team goal is $15k and every little bit helps. I know these are tough times for many people (and believe me, man, can I relate to that right now), but despite all that goes on in the world, I have to believe that we can still make a difference in the lives of those who need it. You never know when we’ll find ourselves on the other end.
Posted by Jenna | 12 Comments
I didn’t think we were supposed to get this much rain this weekend. A few sprinkles or the possibility of rain was forecast, but not such a washout like the kind of rain we had on Sunday. May is a busy month for outdoor events; it signals the start of the outdoor summer season and there was a lot going on in the city this weekend. The weather just wasn’t on our side. Some events, like the Brooklyn Flea and the annual street fair held in our neighborhood are rain or shine, but there was another big, 3 day event held in Prospect Park this weekend that was cancelled at the last minute on Sunday.
As an event goer, a cancellation or rain might be an inconvenience and derail weekend plans, but as a vendor, the weather can make or break us. When the festival at Prospect Park was cancelled, we immediately thought of all our food biz friends who had worked all week prepping food, only to be left with so much of it before the day even got started. It’s an expensive loss. As a business that relies on some of our income to be generated at outdoor markets, we know how frustrating it is when the weather doesn’t cooperate. As luck would have it, we sat out of our usual markets this weekend because of an event on Sunday where Mark was one of the participating Pastry Chefs (The Manhattan Cocktail Classic). But he was out there at the Flea last Saturday in cool, rain threatening weather himself until the clouds finally broke and he had to break down early. You just never know with the weather.
Despite the steady rain, the girls and I pulled on our rain boots and rain jackets to wander around the street fair that they look forward to every year. There were a lot less crowds and there were plenty of empty booth spaces that should have been filled as it is every year when the weather fares better. As a vendor of markets ourselves, it’s hard not to recognize the disappointed faces of vendors as we were walking around. On days like this, you hope that you break even and just cut your losses. Maybe you make a little money, but most likely not enough to cover material and labor costs for the days preceding the event. This would be the best case scenario, to break even. The girls and I did our best to support the vendors who were set up by spreading our money around – a grilled corn on a stick at this booth, a taco at that booth, a corn dog here, a bubble tea somewhere else. There will be other street fairs and outdoor events and while you might win at some, you might lose at others; we’re at the mercy of the weather. Hopefully it won’t rain on Saturday when Mark goes back to the Flea.
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Have you ever used a ceramic knife? I think my friend Nichole was the first to tell me about the ceramic knife when I spotted it at her house. Mark and I later saw a Kyocera knife for sale at one of the stores at Chelsea Market and we decided to give it a try. They’re lightweight and super sharp, but the claim that it actually prevents cut fruit from getting brown (which supposedly happens when metal interacts with acidic juices) was the thing that sold me. I pack the girls apple slices nearly every day for lunch, and in the past those containers of cut fruit would sometimes come back untouched at the end of the day because the apples looked “too brown”. Now, I will say that it doesn’t prevent all browning as it claims, but it does a good enough job that I definitely do see a difference and the apples get eaten every day. Besides, that white blade! It really is a fun knife to use.
I think you all know by now that the girls wear Salt Water sandals almost exclusively as their summer sandals, but have I told you why? (Miss C got these gold pair this year). Aside from the reasonable price (yes, there was a time when I got sucked into all the adorable, yet pricey kid sandals when the girls were toddlers), they are durable and have even lasted us 2 summers depending on how much their feet would grow during the winter. Those more expensive, adorable brands? They would be trashed by the end of summer sandal wearing season, absolutely trashed. One of the reasons why the Salt Waters survive is because you can get them wet and they won’t get ruined in water. If you live in NYC, you know what a big deal this is. With sprinklers open at every playground in the city, and with a playground every 7-10 blocks (at least in our neighborhood), it’s hard to avoid the sprinkler in the summer, especially when all your kid wants to do is get wet. Before I started buying Salt Waters, I’d have this conversation with the girls almost daily:
Me: “Wait! You’re wearing your sandals and we don’t have your crocs or flip flops. You can’t go in the water with those sandals”.
Girls (as they run towards the water): “But…SPRINKLER!!”
Me: “Did ya even hear what I said?? You can’t get those shoes wet. They’ll get ruined.”
Girls: “Can we go barefoot then?”
Me: “Do you see where we live? This is the city! With rats and glass and god knows what else.”
Girls (as they run into the water anyway): “But…SPRINKLER!!!”
But now when we enter a playground with the water on, it’s like…sure, get wet, whatever. By the way, there are 2 types of Salt Water sandals – the ones that have stitching on the foot bed and the ones that don’t. The smooth, slightly higher foot beds without stitching seem more durable and hold up best in water.
And finally, this dress. Yeah, it totally looks bleh and boring on the website and I would have never even looked at it twice past these photos because I don’t particularly like the way it hangs on the model, but the dress is actually pretty nice in person. I bought it as a late birthday present to myself (and I’m all about dresses with pockets these days).
Posted by Jenna | 16 Comments
I will confess, I have never been to the Hamptons. Not once in all my life long years as a New Yorker. When we think of Long Island beaches, we usually head to Robert Moses or Jones Beach as it’s a quick drive from my parents’ house, but when we want to spend a day tootling around the island for some peace and quiet, we head to the North Fork. It’s kind of like the anti-Hamptons and it might just be one of our favorite places to go. Things are quiet out here. Yes, you might hit some traffic as there really is only one main road going all the way to the end until there is no more land, but by and large there are less people on the North Fork as there is on the south. There are a ton of farms and farm stands, wineries, and places to picnic. The one challenging thing is to find a public access beach as many of the parking lots are by permit only for residents and house-renters, but it’s not impossible. And when you do, it’s not unusual to have the entire beach to yourself.
We haven’t been back to the beach by the house we rented since we stayed on the North Fork 4 years ago in 2009. This was before we were going to Seattle every August, so it does stand out as the year we spent August a little differently. Claudine doesn’t remember the house at all, nor anything else from that summer, but it did make a strong impression on Mia and she talks about it now and again. We did a lot of fruit picking and farm visiting and when I think back to that summer, I think of the lavender fields; I can almost smell them again.
One of my favorite memories was stumbling on a boat race on our last evening there and meeting some of the town people who live there year round. While in town this last weekend, we visited the fish market where we would often buy fresh seafood for our dinners. Mark picked up some oysters and bay scallops and we recreated one of our favorite dishes from that trip for dinner that night.
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Some photos of our day at a farm on the North Fork of Long Island last Sunday. Picking season isn’t nearly here yet so we wandered the grounds, tasted wine at the winery, smelled the flowers, watched a border collie herd some geese and ate some crepes. A quiet day out in nature seems like the best way to end a busy week.
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When I was younger, I remember my mother climbing the stairs to our upstairs attic where she would head after dinner nearly everyday for 2 years. My mom was earning her college degree long distance from a small private college in Maine and she used that little 8′ x 8′ room at the top of the stairs as her study. I don’t really even remember how old I was and I certainly didn’t understand what a big deal it was for my mom at that age; I just remember helping her sometimes with the grammar on her papers because English wasn’t her first language and even though she was a fairly fluent speaker, writing was a whole other story.
Of her 4 siblings, my mother was considered to be the “smart” one and the one that had the most ambition. She always wanted to be a doctor, but opportunities were scarce back then in Korea, especially for girls, so she went to nursing school instead and came to NY in 1971 soon after she graduated, seizing the first opportunity that she could find. But she always wanted a college degree. When she finally completed her studies sometime during my high school years, she traveled up to Maine for the graduation ceremony alone. I remember seeing photos of her trip to the college, but I always later wondered why we didn’t go up to the ceremony as a family.
When I think about my mom being the age that I am now, I think about her with a daughter who was 19 and already gone from the house and a son who was 13 and ready to enter high school. I think about how she switched careers at this age after 18 successful years as a nurse to real estate because she realized that her career was taking a physical toll on her health. She also knew that she had 2 kids to send to college and she couldn’t do that on a nurse’s salary. I don’t remember with clear details her transition from one career to the other because I had already moved out of the house at that point and quite frankly, was too busy trying to live my own life. But I do remember that my mom would cook and leave dinners wrapped up for my brother as her new work schedule had shifted and she was no longer home by the time he got home from school. My brother’s high school years in that respect, were different from mine.
I remember many years ago having a talk with my mom when I wasn’t feeling any validation from her, or praise, or whatever I was seeking at the time. After all those years, the approval from my mom wasn’t any less important than it was when I was 10. I don’t even remember what the conversation was specifically about, but I do remember her response. She asked me where her validation came from. Who was telling her that she was doing a good job? Who was telling her that they were proud of her? Maybe that is why she went to her graduation alone. She never expected validation from her family because she never received it before, from her parents or siblings growing up or from us. Maybe she learned to accept that ultimately, the only person she needed validation from was herself.
It’s ironic that I wrote that post about validation from strangers a few weeks ago, because I think about my mom’s response often. It wasn’t the response I was expecting, but it holds truth. We often expect so much from our mothers – the basic needs for survival, food, shelter, unconditional love, praise, and security. When we’re younger, our mothers are our mothers, beacons of love and protection, and we don’t necessarily think about the people that they are separate from that identity. But there comes a point when we realize that our mothers are people too – fears, insecurity, frustrations and all. Maybe you come to understand this when you see your mom cry in front of you for the first time or when you witness a vulnerability that you never saw or understood before.
As my girls get older I think about this more and more as we start having conversations not just as mother and daughters, but as people having discussions with our own opinions. I think about the message that I send out to the girls with my actions as well as my inactions. I think about the relationship that I have with my mother and the role that I have as a mother to my daughters. Whatever shortcomings may have happened in the past doesn’t have to be irreparable in the present, and I just want to say to my mother today that I am very proud of her.
Posted by Jenna | 26 Comments