Bigger Fish to Fry

When it comes to getting away (from it all and for a decent stretch of time), how often is too often, if there even is such a thing? How much is not enough? I just returned from a week-long vacation after having not been on one for over three years, so, to answer my own question: three years might be too long to go without getting away.

This trip was pure bliss, not just because I was traveling with my honey, but because I’ve been so bonkers with school and business responsibilities, I promised myself I’d embrace the feeling of doing nothing. Being ever the planner, though, I enforced a strict dress code of “nothing with buttons or zippers!” and made sure everything we packed fit into carry-on luggage only so we could whiz through the airport as we pleased. Nothing will hold me back from bliss!

Thankfully, I’m not the outdoors-y, adventurous type to begin with, and the bf accommodates my lackadaisical ways, so it was easy to forego signing up for excursions and saying no to the local tour vendors who marched up and down our beach every hour, trying to lure us from beneath our umbrellas and onto a parasailing boat.

TCI Beach Umbrellas

I’m fine right here, thanks.

Grace Bay Beach ranks every year as one of the best beaches in the world and is located on the island of Providenciales within the Turks & Caicos Island (TCI) chain. We’ve been to Grace Bay three times and it was our second time back to Alexandra Resort (the same spot we booked the last time we took a vacation), which just turned all-inclusive and lost on us because we don’t eat a ton while we’re away, I’m a teetotaler, and see above regarding excursions. Meal prices onsite seemed a little exorbitant for us as a pay-as-you-go couple and TCI imports almost everything, so, while we made a point to go grocery shopping as soon as we landed and most of the items at Graceway Gourmet were equivalent to what we’d find shopping at home, quality-wise, it was a little challenging sticking to our food budget.

Version 2

“Ugh with this view,” said no one ever.

I think it goes without saying that when you’re on an island getaway, you’ll be eating a ton of fish (if pescetarianism is your thing). In TCI, though, most of that fish is in the form of conch fritters or fried grouper, so we were happy that our supermarket haul allowed us to give our tummies a break every few meals.

Version 2

A delightful veggie platter from our grocery trip.

Toward the end of our stay, we ventured back to have a meal at Lupo (you can’t really take me anywhere without me having a pasta craving at some point), a delightful rustic Italian restaurant that we found during our last stay on Grace Bay three years ago. I was thrilled to see they were still open for business and thriving.

Version 2

Enjoying Lupo leftovers (with a handful of greens thrown in, of course) on the balcony.

Now that we’ve returned from our getaway, I think I’m still in vacation mode and hope this feeling lingers a little longer. Being in New York City, it’s easy to get caught back up in the whirlwind of this environment and forget all about riding that wave of rest and relaxation. But, I’ll tell you this much: there is no way I’ll be letting another three years pass without giving myself another proper vacation. After all, what’s more important than to empty out your brain every so often, visualize amazing things, and take in some of the beautiful gems that nature and life have to offer you?

Bite me

I am not a math whiz, but…

During my cross-country road trip in March, I prepared and planned my meals so as not to rely on any fast or junk food for sustenance while driving.
Total pounds lost while in a car: 7

After contracting a stomach virus in April, I was left incapacitated, in bed, and with an inability to digest any solid foods for nearly two weeks.
Total pounds lost while lying down: 4

While on vacation in Italy in May, I took every precaution not to overdo it on pasta dishes alone and incorporated chicken, fish, and fruit at every meal while drinking glasses and glasses of water.
Total pounds lost while eating gelato as a reward for my good behavior: 0

Over the course of the past few days in June, I simultaneously mourned the loss of my co-worker (who left to pursue an alternate career) as I organized our department for our upcoming seasonal sales meeting while training our new temp.
Total pounds gained while working fourteen hour days, running up and down nine floors of my office building, procuring vast amounts of paper cuts, and overactivating my sebaceous glands: 11

Stress doesn’t stop me from consuming buckets of chocolate. Eleven pounds worth, apparently.

Spaghetti westerner

Saluti, amici!

Sono eccitato che sto andando per un meraviglioso viaggio a Roma per visitare mio cugino. Tornerò in una settimana e avrà alcune fantastiche foto da condividere.

Godetevi la settimana!

Basta, pasta.

Greetings from Rome!

After landing here on Wednesday morning and suffering a nasty bout of both jet lag and a head cold, I’m finally starting to gain lucidity and enjoy all of the wonderful sites this city has to offer.

I’ve been taking pictures diligently and promise to post them and a link to the slideshow on the blog when I return.

Grazie mille to my fantastic cousin for letting me use her computer while I’m here! Tanti baci, cugina!

Amuse bouche

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

Originally, I believed that, so help me, dog, if I heard this frickin’ adage one more time, I was going to swallow my own tongue and/or rip it out of my mouth and smack silly with it the next person who dared speak these words to me. However, I’ve recently had time to really think about what this means and have now decided to interpret this in an entirely different way.

It’s not often a thirty-eight-year-old woman takes off on the interstate with no pre-arranged plans of where she’s going, where she’s sleeping, and when she’s coming back unless her name is either Thelma or Louise, but that’s exactly what I decided to do a month ago when I felt my life was crumbling around me and the only way I knew to escape was to plow through the wreckage in a rental car.

Three years ago, after changing careers and landing a job at a prestigious (albeit poorly paying) publishing house in midtown Manhattan, I decided to move to this great city, but, over the course of as many years, I started to realize that it takes a certain person to live here and that person might not be me. After all, I’m known to hug strangers, not push them out of the way to get into a subway car before the doors close on my heel/purse/earring, so I knew something was amiss when I found myself yelling to a group of people on the sidewalk in front of me one day to “get the hell out of the way!”

It was time to leave the city…even if only temporarily.

Armed with a road atlas, my cell phone, a handful of self-help audio books, a small suitcase of matching separates and toiletries, my driver’s license, and my keen sense of direction, I set out to shake the New York off of me in hopes of coming back rejuvenated and ready to face the city again with a whole new attitude. And if that didn’t work, I would become a truck stop diner waitress in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and change my name to Pearl.

I ended up covering nearly a dozen states in just under a week, from Pennsylvania and Indiana to Missouri and West Virginia. My mission was to make many stops along the way to breathe in the clean, fresh, Midwest air, shop at the local farmers’ markets off the highways (I actually lost seven pounds by eating mostly produce on this trip), chat it up with the attendants every time I stopped for gas, and, most importantly, answer the burning life questions that I had brought along in my head with me like, “What else is out there for me and does it have outlet shopping?”

Overall, I clocked about 3,300 miles of nothing but alone time with myself and the sprawling country in front of me. To some, that might be the scariest thing ever and, at some points, it was; but I learned that, while I may not have the answers to all of my questions (yet), I have a natural ability to make people feel comfortable around me, I can assimilate into most any situation, and I am fearless. I enjoy being in the company of me and I’m happy to take her wherever I go.

And if she ever gets on my nerves, well, there’s always Wyoming.

See food.

どうもありがとう to the wonderfully chatty sushi chef at Teppan Hibachi Steak House for keeping me company—despite his very broken English and my inability to hear over the din of all the hibachiness going on in the next room—during dinner the other night. I had been on a week-long, solo, semi-cross country road trip (my “journey of self-discovery”) and was craving sushi on my way back east. After driving nearly ten hours, I was thrilled to come across Teppan in a small strip mall called Dorneyville Shopping Center (across from this farkakte monstrosity) in Allentown, PA.

I kept it simple and ordered two pieces of maguro (tuna) and two pieces of sake (salmon) sushi with a side of miso soup. A mini seafood salad was presented to me “on the house” by the chef. The fish was fresh, the rice sticky, and the wasabi hot. The small meal hit the spot and I was glad to have some conversation to keep me from falling asleep in my dish before hitting the road again.

Back in the city, Marc & I enjoyed some light fare at Schiller’s Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side where, again, I kept my meal simple and ordered an arugula salad with roasted butternut squash, pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan cheese as well as a bowl of the tomato-white bean soup of the day (bringing back comfy and aromatic memories of the fall/winter). Marc enjoyed the pan-roasted sea bass served over a tomato and fennel coulis. The portions were actually on the small size, but at least we came away, for once, with room in our bellies for more.