I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Detroit again this year — something I’ve worked hard to be able to do each year since moving to New York. Some traditions have changed — especially since the passing of my grandmother — but it’s still nice to spend time with my mother’s family, especially over the holidays.
I grow nostalgic during the transition from summer to fall. To help get me through, I pilfer through a series of movies that I associate with this season only because there’s a certain coziness to them:
- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
- The Great Outdoors
- Home for the Holidays
- The Holiday
- Love Actually
- Home Alone and Home Alone 2
- The Addam’s Family
- Problem Child and Problem Child 2
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Julie and Julia
- Something’s Gotta Give
- It’s Complicated
- It Runs in the Family
- French Kiss
- In Her Shoes
- The Odd Couple
- National Lampoon’s European Vacation
- Curly Sue
- Father of the Bride (the Steve Martin version)
I started feeling real impacts from the storm around 7 pm — lights flickering, doors shaking from the wind. Lights still flicker, but at this point, I do have power and am actively online. Around 8, I decided I was hungry and that it was safe enough to cook. I made a delicious dish from my poorly chosen provisions — mostly perishables because I’m a damn fool! — and have named it Spinach Smash a la Sandy.
Simple, quick, and hearty — all you need is 2 cups of fresh spinach (baby spinach will do, but I used regular), 3 baby Yukon potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon smart balance, and a pinch of sea salt.
Start by boiling the potatoes for about 20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork or knife. While the potatoes are boiling, slice the cherry tomatoes in thirds, peel and mince the garlic. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, and spinach. Once potatoes are ready, add them directly to the vegetable mixture. Add Smart Balance. Use a smasher or a big fork and start mashing this mixture until the ingredients combine, the spinach wilts, and the Smart Balance melts.
Finally, finish with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Voila. Delicious, not so unhealthy, and hearty enough to help you through the storm.
I’m from the midwest, a place where natural disasters are rare. Sure, we had tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but nothing super catastrophic — not in my day, anyways.
Since moving to New York, I’ve experienced — though I say this lightly because I didn’t actually feel anything — an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and now Hurricane Sandy is hours away from making a major impact on the greater New York City area.
For Hurricane Irene, I camped out for a couple days at my friends Jen and Patrick’s, about a mile from my apartment. I left a few hours before the storm was supposed to hit, wheeling a shopping cart full of three different pasta dishes, bottled water, hard cider, my computer and iPad. We spent the entire time eating — Jen makes a men blue-box macaroni and cheese — watching the weather channel (and flipping between No Reservations and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding), and drawing in coloring books. The storm didn’t have much of an impact besides some wind and rain in Astoria, but I felt comfortable to be amongst friends.
This year, reports trickled in on Friday that people should begin prep. By that time, my local drug store was out of flashlights, so I made my way to the grocery store to pick up shabbos candles and yarzheit candles. Baruch hashem!
I have plenty of food and bottled water, and as of this morning, a few bars and restaurants are still delivering within Queens. Winds are picking up, as is rain.
I’m thankful to have power at this point, and continue to charge my phone and my iPad just in case that changes. I’ll spend the rest of the day working, and have made provisions in case power is lost — my iPad is loaded with some games (Jeopardy, Crazy Taxi, and Monopoly!), I have a few Nora Ephron books on-hand, and if all else fails, I’ll use my gas stove to do some cooking.
Stay safe, and stay warm to all those on the East Coast. For up-to-date coverage on the storm, head to The Weather Channel site.
My general thoughts on being under glorified house arrest?
I have a farkakte sense of style. Mismatching for the sake of comfort has become my shtick. Thankfully, to enjoy the new Diana Vreeland documentary, one does not need to understand fashion so to speak, but must instead appreciate it with a thirst for self-expression and originality. It’s not about being the first, but it’s about recognition of the greats.
A trend-setter in every which way, Diana — and her memory as it has been sustained — was an inspiration to women, climbing to the top-most editorial ranks at publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue — the quirkier Anna Wintour. Wintour is veiled by the same bob and sunglasses, we see little life behind her. Vreeland lived through each role with — what was explained by icons like Angelica Huston, Manolo Blahnik, Hubert de Givenchy, Diane von Furstenberg, Missoni, Oscar de la Renta, and Simon Doonan — an energy so dynamic that everyone wanted to be part of her “in” crowd.
The one-liners delivered in this just-over-90 minute documentary are worth the $13 ticket alone, but the wisdom and the inspiration are beyond value. I left the theater — my usual City Cinemas 1, 2, 3 — feeling energized and motivated to do something and be more of a someone. To share, with less of a filter — but let’s face it, I’m in PR — my opinions on my industry, on the tools and my predictions of where it’s all heading. Unapologetic, raw and yet so refined, Diana Vreeland set the example of culture and class, and so this film is a must-see. Her life, even after her death, is an ode not just to fashion, but to culture ongoing, and to love of life and New York.
I travel back to Detroit often, and had to fly back unexpectedly this past weekend. Confronted with the exorbitant last-minute fares of most airlines, my cousin suggested I not fly my normal Delta — despite the draw to build miles for my next trip (thank you Delta AMEX!) — and instead opt for Southwest Airlines.
I haven’t flown on Southwest since I was a kid. In fact, I’m almost certain that the last flight my family took on Southwest was to Baltimore to visit my dad’s brother when he was still there. I’ve always heard good things about the airline, but the best thing was that it had a wonderful flight change policy — no fees, as long as the flight you wish to take in place of the original is of equal value — and a ticket price that was well under price of Delta ($472 vs. $313).
Southwest boasts two free checked bags, open seating, complimentary soda and small snacks (pretzels or nuts), in-flight WiFi ($5 for all day, same device), and some of the friendliest gate agents I’ve ever met.
I wasn’t overly impressed with the in-flight crew on any of my three flights with Southwest. They weren’t welcoming, but they weren’t rude, either. My flight from DTW to BWI was a bit messy, but an overall pleasant experience. My flights from LGA to MDW and MDW to DTW were very clean, and very quick to board. Now, the real kicker was that the flight from BWI to LGA was delayed by 5 hours. Normally, this would send my temper through the roof. Southwest, however, made the experience rather delightful.
I received calls each time the flight was delayed or bumped back, and when I finally decided to instead take the Amtrak for $122 to New York Penn Station from BWI, I called Southwest to see how they would accomodate. The lovely phone agent explained that the bulk of the funds for my trip, because it was multi-leg, were applied to the first leg from DTW, but that she could still accomodate a small (teeny tiny, really) refund of $15. Hey — I’ll take it!
I made it to the train station in just a few minutes thanks to the nifty airport shuttle, and am en-route to Penn Station as I type.
To Southwest, and to the fine folks of Amtrak, thank you for being so accommodating and otherwise lovely. Much appreciated.
One of my favorite parodies of the season: