New Year Gift Exchange and Link Up

Meet my new friend and Los Angeles resident, Lauren!

A few weeks ago, I read about a gift exchange on a blog I read and I decided that I definitely wanted to participate. I'm not really a "send a stranger a gift" type of gal but I figured why not? A week after submitting my information (to yet another stranger) I got an email with Lauren's information and we started emailing. Lauren blogs over at and I would definitely suggest that you all click on over.

Ways Lauren and I are alike:
1. We both love us some Happy Hour
2. We both want Mindy Kaling to be our best friend (seriously she sounds awesome)
3. She got a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas and holy crap do I want one (its one of the main reasons I'm excited to get married)
4. She loves to read

Ways Lauren and I are not alike:
1. She is running a marathon in March...I am not
2. She actually uses her Kitchen Aid mixer whereas I am basically sure I would just look at it and pretend to use it

Clearly (refer to above list) we have more alike that not alike, so I'd say that this was a pretty successful meet a stranger endeavor! Not to mention the totally awesome package I received (I didn't even tell her my love of Pez dispensers but I got one anyway!)

That is a bag of bath salts! And a container of glittery puddy! And post-its! And a cutey watch, which I am wearing today. Best package ever.

Lesson learned: getting paired with a stranger sounds real strange but sometimes it works out! 

Lauren will absolutely be receiving a RUN LIKE THE WIND package in March. In the meantime though, you should all seriously check out her blog.

Book #7: Infidel

My friends, Book #7 was deep. So deep (and dense) it took me almost 10 whole days to read (plus or minus some sleepy train rides). Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel has been on my To Read list every since I saw her two years ago on The Daily Show.

Infidel chronicles Hirsi Ali's life from her birth in Somalia through her years in Kenya, Medina and Ethiopa to the United States after a short tenure as a member of the Dutch Parliament. In addition to being a compelling personal memoir, Infidel  also serves to chronicle Ayaan's journey from devout Muslim to secular atheist.

Infidel was a powerful book and despite what seemed at points to be a slow slog, I'm definitely glad I finally got to it. At the end of the book though, I did wish that more time had been spent on her time in Parliament, the development of her film Submission, Part One and her relocation to the United States. At times, Hirsi Ali's writing was slow and seemed almost repetitive however overall I would say it is a must read for anyone interested in women's rights, religion and the process of refugees to become citizens. 

Reasons to Love New York: The Chinese Dissident Edition

Have you guys heard of Ai Weiwei? He's a Chinese dissident artist, who in addition to his work is known for his " tongue and criticism of the Chinese Communist Party."

One of Ai Weiwei's most well known works, porcelain hand painted sunflower seeds, is on display at Chelsea's Mary Boone Gallery until February 4th. Ai Weiwei's entire exhibition includes 100 million hand painted seeds (which took more than 1,600 people to create), but the exhibition at the Mary Boone Gallery is only some of these seeds

My Mom and I have been basically obsessed with these sunflower seeds ever since we heard about them a year or so ago. Earlier this month, I saw an article on the Huffington Post about how they were coming to New York and my Mom and I nearly exploded from excitement (because clearly I called her immediately). We decided that clearly we must go and yesterday we did!

The coolest thing about this (and by cool I mean cool if you're total dorks like us) is that you don't even need a ticket! You don't even check in when you get there, you literally walk through the door on West 24th Street, walk past a man at a desk, hang a right and there they are! Right on the floor! The Mary Boone Gallery's Ai Wewei exhibit is this week's Reasons to Love New York.

The next picture is my new absolute favorite picture of me and my Mom. It was taken mere minutes after she touched the seeds and got in trouble. Seriously. She bent right down and touched them. And then we got in trouble from the cranky man at the desk.

Mary Boone Gallery, you are awesome! Best Saturday Ever, thanks New York!

One of the MOST Offensive Things

Guys, this is absolutely going to be a rant-y post. I'm not really prone to these on this blog (minus that terrible, terrible book I read a few weeks ago) so hear me out.

On Wednesday night, I got home from work (after falling asleep on the train, which has happened to me three times this week and is seriously impacting my ability to read effectively) changed, and got my butt to the gym. On my way there, I found myself behind a black Ford pickup truck for about three quarters of the 20 minute drive.

Do, do, do, driving to the gym, rockin' out to Rhianna's "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place" (seriously, how does that song NOT get old) psyching myself up to do some serious elliptical-ing and the hills program on that machine that is not a ski machine but also not an elliptical. Happily driving along I was and THEN I saw it. There, below the truck's rear bumper was one of the MOST offensive things in the world (see title of this post):

Testicles. Hanging from his rear bumper. As big as Michael Phelps' very large hands.

This was not the first time I had seen these flesh colored, plastic appendages hanging from someone's vehicle (I am almost positive that they have only ever been on pickup trucks) but I found myself terribly appalled. Not even Rhianna could pull me out of my shocked stupor.  Perhaps this entire post makes me a prude, but if being a prude means that I don't want to see gigantic balls danglin' from your car, I'm OK with being a prude.

After really thinking about my balls filled drive, I have a few main questions/observations:
1. Where does one purchase such things? (Please note that I am not even featuring a photo of said objects in this post because I am SO against them and also because I know people read this at work)
2. Who makes them, and how does the company recruit workers? "NEEDED: gigantic testicle assembler. Must be comfortable handling sacks".
3. Do you buy yourself the balls, or do you receive them as a gift?
3a. What kind of weirdo buys himself balls
3b. Do you receive them as a gag gift or as a serious "I saw these and they reminded me of you" gift (ew)
4. Has a mother or father driving behind, next to or around these morons ever given them the finger? If I had a child in my car and I had to explain to them what those giant things were, I would want to cut a bitch.

Thoughts? Opinions? Any readers have these awful things on the tail end of their car (if so, I'm not even going to apologize if this post made you offended...sorry I'm not sorry).

End Rant.


I'm forgoing Embrace the Camera this Wednesday because life seems to have caught up with me a little bit this week and I had no time to snap a photo (or post yesterday...sorry!).

Just a quickie post today regarding the picture below.

I saw this advertisement on my train ride home last night. Did this show really happen? Did anyone watch it? I'm thinking I probablly would have loved it but I'm thinking that it most likely got canceled?* Does anyone know for sure?

Also...I can't find TV Land on my television. Sadness. 

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing a post with the title "One of the Most Offensive Things". How excited are you? I know how to keep you on the edge of your seats here at Ummm Now What!
*AMENDMENT: My very good friend (and loyal reader) just told me that NO this gem has not been canceled. Paul, you are the bee's knees.   


Friends, I love the State of the Union Address. A lot. Except for last year when the beginning of the semester made me exhausted and I accidentally fell asleep. Whoops.

I also love Bingo (insert Grandma jokes here). In fat, we're a Bingo lovin' family...we even play it on Christmas Eve. What? Don't you play Christmas Eve Bingo? You probably should because it is awesome (most times).

This is how it works. My mom downloads "Christmas Bingo" sheets from the internet (because apparently there is a national cadre of weirdos who participate in this tradition). She also buys prizes which she puts in a big bag.

Then after Christmas Even dinner, "The Men" (read: my dad, uncle and grandfather who was still alive the last time we played) get up from the table and go inside to watch television...have I mentioned we're a family comprised of basically all women? Out come the Bingo cards and we (me, my sister, grandmother, aunts and two little cousins who are at this point 12) pick our cards, get a big pile of pennies (our ink blotter things) and get to it. My Mom acts as Bingo caller.

Then, someone wins. Let's just assume its me, OK? OK so I win! I have a whole row underneath the T in Santa (which is plastered across the top) that includes: stocking, present, reindeer and mistletoe. Everyone agrees that I won. HOORAY I won I get a prize! Except I do not. My cousins do. What gives, Mom? Clearly this is just a fluke so we play another game and 20 minutes later we have another winner, my Aunt! She calls out her list, everyone agrees that she has won and SURPRISE! Little cousins get a prize. Seriously this happens every year. Someone wins, cousins get prize. Cousin wins, cousins get TWO prizes. So disappointing, yet clearly we are the idiots as we continue to participate.

Despite my traumatic experience with Bingo (my cousins stealin' my Bingo Thunder), I still think I really love it. Which is why this morning when I heard that State of the Union Bingo was a thing, I nearly keeled over and died of excitement. I've been clicking around the internet for about 15 minutes, and I think this one below is my favorite because it includes the square "John Boehner shown misty-eyed" (which is also my absolute favorite).

I am currently trying to convince Fiance that we should forgo the gym tonight and invite our friends over to play. I'm not sure how he feels about Bingo though...I'm thinking that's something I should find out before we decide on a date for the wedding.

Our Weekend in Photos

This week was hard. Work late every night, burst into tears at your desk on Thursday, student worker felt bad for me and bought my coworker and me frozen yogurt, hard.

This weekend was the exact remedy that I needed.

Friday night, I went to my friend Stephanie's  for dinner and drinks (mmm macaroni!) and it true Kate/Steph fashion decided that we needed to go to Target for drink ingredients (note: we actually meant to go to 7-Eleven and drove past it). No trip to Target is complete without a quick (read: 15 minute minimum) detour to the shoe section and holy crap, my Target got a SHOE CLEARANCE SECTION. I got two pairs of shoes for less than $15. Seriously. I was can ask Steph, who may have wanted to smack me because I kept talking about my new shoes.

Then we went back to her place and hung out with her roommate and friend and I laughed more than I had the entire week. It was so lovely and absolutely needed.

Guys, seriously. $15!
Saturday morning it was snowing in the metro area and I had a serious hankering for some pancakes. Only problem? We had no pancake mix. So even though I woke up at 9:30, at 11:00 I cozied on up and fell back asleep, resigned to the fact that there would be no pancakes. An hour later, Fiance woke me up and I walked downstairs to find these on the table. 

Those are chocolate chip pancakes made from scratch. With caramelized bananas. Tell me Fiance is not the best future husband ever? Quote:
Fiance: "Too bad we're engaged alread"
Me: "Why?
Fiance: "Because this would be a really great way to woo a girl"
Note: homemade pancakes are much more dense than those from mix! 
After breakfast, we decided it was time to see if Dilly liked the snow (because who DOSN'T put their cat in the snow?). She did not. This picture is from before Fiance put her in it. Once she was out there, he couldn't even snap a picture she was moving so fast back to the door of the apartment.

What? Don't you have hot pink, sparkly, fuzzy slippers?
Brrrrrr it was cold! 
We cleaned a little bit on Saturday and then we braved the snow to go see Sherlock Holmes Two and go to Chiles with friends! The movie was great and so were the Sangritas we had. Have you had Sangritas? Margaritas AND Sangria. Seriously awesome.
Love me some chips and salsa

On Sunday, Fiance and I had to go food shopping. We also made the executive decision that Dilly needed some new toys. Her favorite stick toy broke a few months ago, and we tied some yarn around it which has worked OK...but seriously, the time had come to pony up for some kitty presents. She also takes all of my crocheting yarn...she needed some new fun treats.

$60 later, she had new toys. A mat that lights up when she stands on it for "the cat with a sudden burst of energy when owners want to sleep" (so says the box)? She got it. And this little gem...a magnetic ladybug that flys around its stand. She hasn't really gotten the hang of it (see biting of toy) but I think she'll like is soon enough!

How was your weekend? I hope it was fantastic!

Book #6 and My Mom the Holiday Maker

Book #6 was awesome and after reading it, I am almost positive that Mindy Kaling and I would be BFFL (that's Best Friends for Life, for the men reading this blog). Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is written in exactly the way I think I would write a book (and how I write this blog). Kaling discusses totally miscellaneous group of thoughts ranging from: Karaoke Etiquette, I Am Not An Athlete, "Hooking Up" Is Confusing, In Defense of Chest Hair, and my personal absolute favorite: Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities (which any woman with a best friend will read and scream "OH MY GOD THAT IS SO TRUE!").

I read Tina Fey's Bossypants and I thought it was OK...I enjoyed it. But I didn't laugh like I thought I would. Kaling's book though, had me laughing from page one until the very end. In fact, last night I was sitting next to a real miserly man who glared at me for the entire 52 minute train ride because I laughed the whole time. He clearly needed some joy in his life, I should have handed over the book.

I don't watch The Office but I just might start now that I know Kaling writes it. Four Stars, Mindy Kalingh!

In other news, have I told you about my love of Valentine's Day? Well, I love it. I even loved it when I was perpetually single (that's right, Fiance is more or less the only person I've ever seriously dated). Why might I love a holiday you ask?

1. Everything is pink (and I love pink)
2. Chocolate
3. My Dad buys me Sephora makeup (clearly by this I mean my Mom goes to Sephora, picks something out and gives it to my Dad.  Though I think last year they might have gone together? I'll have to double check on that)
4. I love all holidays because my Mom decorates my home. Seriously. See photos below for proof

Basically every holiday decoration I own, I own because my Mom bought it for me. Tiny framed needle point with an owl that says "Fall" and sits in a tiny easel* (which I love so much is still on my hallway table in January)? My Mom bought it. Giant Halloween glittery sign that says "Ghosts" and "Ghouls"? My Mom bought it. Decorative Thanksgiving pillows (which Fiance hates, but I LOVE)? Yup, my Mom bought them. And now, she has solidified her reputation as holiday maker by giving me these Valentine's goodies! That rug is in front of my sink and has replaced my Snowman Christmas rug. Which she also bought me. She is the best and is obviously the ONLY reason my home has any seasonally appropriate cheer.

Thanks Mom!
*My mom just emailed me and asked for an amended blog post. She'd like everyone to know that she MADE the tiny owl needlepoint. She did NOT buy it.
End post.

Embrace the Camera: Being a Grown-Up is Hard

Guys, being a grown up is hard. Real hard. Last night I didn't get home from work until almost 9:00pm and this is what I looked like upon my return. I'm surprised Dilly didn't look at me and say "Mom, you look a hot mess." Yet not surprised at all because she's a cat and you know...she can't speak.

Work is a little nuts this week. And by "a little," I mean my office-mate said the my boss last night "I'm going to come into work tomorrow in my sweatpants!"* and he said "OK." Not "Ehhhh you and Kate are both still kind of new here, maybe you should wait a full 6 months before failing to wear real pants to the office." Nope. He fully supported fake-pants wearing in the office because we're all going a little nuts-o. Fiance works 16 hour days two days a week, and I'm not really sure how he functions, let alone wears pants to his office.

And for dinner last night? Pssh, I'm so glad you asked! I ate an ice cream sandwich. Which in my opinion is a pretty balanced meal. I then got into bed and and attempted to make it to The Daily Show...and failed miserably.

So friends, this week's Embrace the Camera is brought to you by 12 hour days at the office, my running out of contact lens solution (what's up, glasses?), and my desperate desire to find dinner left-overs in the microwave like when I lived with my parents.

Being a grown-up makes me tired.

*Note: she did not wear sweatpants to work today. 

Book #5: Beautiful Boy

Before I write this review, I think its important to say that I've never been addicted to crystal meth. Or any drug for that matter. Nor have I known anyone who has been addicted to drugs. I feel like its important to mention that because it feels almost wrong to be reviewing David Sheff's book, Beautiful Boy, having had no personal experience with drug addiction.

Sheff's book chronicles the life of his first son, Nic, a child of divorced parents who is shuffled between his mother and father's homes via air planes. The first chapters of Sheff's detail a seemingly idilic life for young Nic filled with books, hikes, and surfing. Nic excels in private schools, taking on everything from the swim team to the school newspaper, and along the way gaining a stepfather, stepmother and little siblings Daisy and Jasper, who he appears to adore.

Nic starts smoking pot during high school and gets drunk on a family vacation. Then his parents send him to a summer program in Paris, where it appears that he drinks so much, he comes home with a stomach ulcer. Eventually, Nic and his father's relationship becomes more tenuous, and on the night of his high school graduation, Nic takes E.

From there the story meanders along Nic's seemingly endless journey of drug abuse and recovery, and his father's parallel journey of anguish, guilt, worry and despair. Sheff's book is heartbreaking and at points, you find yourself wanting to scream at Nic's relapses (not advisable on your morning train commute).

While Beautiful Boy is a compelling account of a father's struggle to understand his son's addiction, at times I found it to be terribly slow (which sounds awful given the serious subject matter). In the epilogue and afterword, Sheff says that Nic has published a memoir, Tweak and upon further Googling, it appears that he has also penned another book, We All Fall Down. I think that at least one of these will be going onto the 100 Book List; I think it will be interesting to hear Nic's side of things.

Impress-Your-Semi-Serious-Boyfriend Ice Cream Sandwiches

Friends, I am not what one would call a skilled chef. I can make a few things (chicken cutlets, grilled cheese, trifle among them) really well. But I am not one of those "I had a few ingredients so I threw together a soufflé" kind of gal.

But a few summers ago I lived with Fiance (then simply my semi serious boyfriend) I made us these ice cream sandwiches. And they must have made an impact, because this weekend he asked me to make them again. So I present to you, the easiest (and cheapest) Impress-Your-Semi-Serious-Boyfriend Iice Cream Sandwiches.


All of these photos are courtesy of this blog's official photographer, Steph 

1. Graham Crackers-I would recommend the chocolate version, though I guess if you prefer extra blandness in your dessert you could go with the original flavor
2. Cool Whip-Fiance and I went for the generic Stop and Shop version as it was on sale for basically no dollars
3. Plastic Wrap (not pictured)


1. Open ingredients and lay out on counter
2. Put (approximately) one teaspoon of Cool Whip on one half of a cracker

3. Put other half of graham cracker on top and smoosh together

4. Wrap smooshy sandwich in plastic wrap

5. Repeat until you have this many sandwiches. One tub of Cool Whip makes approximately one dozen sandwiches.
6. Freeze until Cool Whip is hard (at least three hours)
7. Watch your Fiance eat them two at a time 

Reasons to Love New York: The Weekend Edition

OK guys. Have you heard of The Brooklyn Flea? If you live in New York, you probably have as I seem to have been very behind the trend. But a few weeks ago, I was perusing one of my new favorite blog finds Nat the Fat Rat and she had this super duper fun post about The Brooklyn Flea . She had pictures of glasses and furniture and glass bottles and DEER HEADS! And I knew that I had to go.

So on Saturday, we went. Me, Fiance and our friends Steph and Becca drove/subway-ed our butts to Hanson Place. And friends, Brooklyn Flea did not disappoint.

See those glasses on the left? Second from the bottom? WHY won't they look nice on my face? I want them so badly to be my "fancy goin' out glasses" but they look ridiculous on me. I am destined to be un-hip forever.

I love me some old books. I had to physically restrain myself from buying all of these as Fiance and I do not have any nice book shelves yet. We plan on getting some, but only after we move in June. And who wants to buy beautiful old books, only to have to leave them in the closet? And then have to move them in June. Pssshh not me, I tell you. So in the Brooklyn Flea they remained. I will rescue them upon our arrival in our new home.

And the biggest development of our trip to the Flea? Fiance and I made a wedding decision! We want a type writer on our welcome table at our reception. It may not be a date or a venue but it is a decision none the less. The one I wanted though was $200 (not the one above) and I was not prepared to drop $200 when I don't even know what our color scheme is going to be. So back to the Flea we will have to go, clearly.

Photo courtesy of my friend, Steph 

And did you know there was food at the Brooklyn Flea? Because there is. Those are Asia Dogs that Steph and I basically could have eaten four of...each. The top one is Thai and the bottom is topped with kimchi. We restrained ourselves from eating more hot dogs though, because there were donuts. And not Dunkin' Donuts donuts. Big, dense, delicious donuts that we devoured so quickly (Lemon Poppy, Blood Orange, Brown Sugar and Dulce de Luce) that we didn't even take a picture of them.

Another Steph photo 

This is what remained. We don't mess've never seen us eat brunch, but lets just say it isn't pretty. All of this to say that The Brooklyn Flea is this week's Reason to Love New York.

After the Brooklyn Flea, we went to my Grandmother's house for a hysterical visit and dinner (seriously, we laughed a lot) and for some quality time with my puppy sister, Holly.

That's Fiance with her and ummm I think he loved her. Not liked her a little bit. Loved her! I know because when I said to him "Don't you just love her?" he said "Yup". You can't get much clearer than that.

And yesterday?  I sat on the couch and read with Dilly sleeping on my legs for more than two hours. In pajama pants. And it was stinkin' awesome.

AND I have off from work today! And so does Fiance! We plan on going to the gym and then going to Stop and Shop because they are having a Stock Up Sale (guys, Chobani yoguarts are on sale for $1!). Gosh, we are so exciting.

How was your weekend? Hope it was lovely, lovely, lovely!

Book #4: Plan B

I finished Book #4 in the Year of 100 Books this morning on the train ride into work and I am happy to say it was much better than crap-tastic #3 was! Book #4 was Plan B by Jonathan Tropper...I'm giving it three out of five stars. This was my third Tropper book (I've read This is Where I Leave You and Everything Changes) but Plan B is Tropper's debut novel, published in 2000.

Plan B is the story of five friends from college who recently celebrated their 30th birthdays who discover that they are no closer to having the lives they thought they'd have by now than they were in college. The story is a little far-fetched in my opinion (Jack, the literal movie star of the group develops a cocaine addiction and his friends kidnap him to help him kick the habit)but the characters were likable and as with all of Tropper's book, Plan B was a page turner and a quick read.

I've got two more Tropper books to read The Book of Joe and How to Talk to a Widower and I'll definitely be reading them this year (I've got 96 more books to go). I'll have to buy them though, since it seems that no libraries carry Tropper's books. WHY libraries of New York City? He is awesome and I don't want to spend another $30 on two paperback books. Get on it, please and thank you.

Embracing The Camera?

I don't know if you've picked up on this yet, but I read blogs. A lot of blogs. I have a Bloglovin account and every morning I sign in and click my way around the whole wide country. A lot of the blogs (for some strange reason) are what the blog-o-sphere calls "Mommy Blogs". I'm not sure why (as I have no children) but they make me happy and sometimes, strangers' kids are real cute.

I also really like Mommy Blogs because they have great ideas for posts! Like What I Wore Wednesday (which I haven't done yet) or Embrace the Camera...which I'm doing today! OK, OK, the point of Embrace the Camera is to get Moms to take pictures of themselves with their kids and not just of their kids. And yes I have no kids (unless you count Dilly). But I say for a newbie blogger such as myself, it is always wonderful to have a little inspiration to get you going.

So I present to you, loyal and faithful blog readers (or maybe some new people because Blogger is telling me that there are some of you out there, hi, hi, hi!) I present to you my very first Embrace the Camera!

Did I mention that my parents got a puppy? While I was away in Puerto Rico? One minute you're laying on the beach and the next minute Fiance is yelling to you to come talk to your sister who has called his phone (because yours has died). You get on the phone and your sister is screaming "WE GOT A PUPPY" and you actually think something terrible has happened because the screaming plus the words "we got a puppy" plus your parents literally does not compute in your brain. Look how confused I am in that picture!

But they got one. Her name is Holly (I was pushing for Roxy, but no one really jumped on board) and she is a Havanese and she is 12 weeks old and weights four pounds. I met her last week (see photo) and she is awesome.

We don't know much about dogs, my family (we have had exactly two kinds of pets: hermit crabs and fish) but I think the general consensus is that she's a great dog. She doesn't bite, she doesn't beg, and she doesn't cry or bark (my Mom said she cried once at night but then she put one of my sister's dirty socks in her crate and Holly went right to sleep...ew). She does lick faces though, which is kind of gross but I guess she's a puppy so its OK.

She is tiny, and she likes to snuggle and you can hold her up over your head like you are presenting baby Simba to the world...our your grandmother's kitchen (details, people). I get to see her again this Saturday (Fiance is also getting an iPhone on Friday, so I'm sure there will be a lot of pictures).

Dilly might be getting a sister when we move in June. Stay tuned for further developments.

2 for 2: A Great Cause

Photo from here!

I've been a daily reader of Kelle Hampton's blog Enjoying the Small Things for almost two years. My Mom heard about her on Rosie O'Donnell's radio show after Kelle published her second daughter, Nella Cordelia's, birth story. Nella, little sister to Lainey, has Down Syndrome, a diagnosis that was unknown until her birth.

Kelle's blog gets some criticism in the blog-o-sphere, but I think she's great. She's got a ton of pizzaz, she throws a mean birthday party, and she takes great pictures of her adorable kids on the beach...and who doesn't need some good beach pictures in January (even if its not so freezing yet). She also has a sunny outlook on life (whether or not its contrived as some detractors claim) which I appreciate in a blog.

For Nella's first birthday the Hamptons established Nella's ONEder Fund with the hope of raising $15,000 for the National Down Syndrome Society...they raised more than $100,000. Nella's turning two at the end of January and yesterday Kelle detailed this years goal: 2 for 2...another $100,000, bringing the sum to $200,000 in two years.

I'm not a big pusher of causes. But Enjoying the Small Things (especially Nella) has touched my heart, and I think that if you click around the blog, she'll touch yours, too. I know a lot of the people who read Ummm Now What are recent graduates...first job have-ers, loan re-payers and the saving for Happy Hour crowd. I donated $5. $5! One and a half Trenta Iced Coffees from Starbucks (have I mentioned sometimes I drink the Trenta? That's BIGGER than a Venti. Sometimes work makes me tired).

So, won't you consider donating? $1? $3? Maybe $10? Click here to donate!

Book #3: An Object of Beauty

This blog is not The New York Times Book Review. Because of that fact, I have no problem writing the following sentence:

This book was a total piece of crap and may have ruined Steve Martin for me.

Notice how there are no stars up there under that picture? That's because I am giving this book a resounding ZERO stars. Which is unheard of in my reading career. I even gave The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao one star on my Goodreads review and that book took me almost two weeks to get through (I kept falling asleep on the train). Martin's An Object of Beauty though, gets zero stars. I would throw the book in the garbage if not for the fact that I spent $14 on it (granted it was a gift certificate but still) and that I told my friend she could read it. But I am going to seriously suggest that she not read it.

I knew An Object of Beauty was going to be a hard sell for me from the get go since it is about "...the notoriously demanding art world of New York City," (so says the book's jacket). I'm not really an art person (one Art History course in college was enough for me, thank you very much) but I'm a sucker for books set in New York so on to my To Read List it went. Major mistake.

I think my biggest problem with Martin's writing is his descriptions of Lacey Yeager, the book's main character who apparently "...charms men and women, old and young rich and even richer" (totally deceptive book jacket). I'm not really sure who Lacey charmed because it seemed to me that she annoyed everyone (including me) and wrote off the people who (or person as it seems to be only one) who really loved her. I'm also really bothered by the fact that Martin has her sleeping with people left and right. An FBI agent in charge of a case where she is a suspect stops investigating because she sleeps with him? Sorry, Steve Martin that is just dumb.

The book was also terribly my count 180 pages in with no real plot other than Lacey's wearing of tight sweaters, eating in French restaurants and sleeping her way around three neighborhoods of Manhattan (not "zipping all over" as the description claims).

Steve Martin, puhlease stick to being a cutie actor who I love in Cheaper By the Dozen and Its Complicated (have I mentioned Fiance loves Meryl Streep?). I will try my hardest to overlook the fact that you wrote this crap-tastic book AND that apparently you are an art collector (so says my Mom) thus making me think that you are as pretentious as the characters in your book.

Rant over.

A Weekend of Miracles

This weekend was lovely, lovely, lovely. Relaxing (read: accidentally slept until 12:30 on Saturday morning), filled with lots of friends and laughing until near embarrassing bladder situation (OK not really, but you get the picture!).

Friday night I went to dinner with friends from college at The Meatball Shop. Have you heard of it? I found it through a blog I read (I legit cannot remember which one and I even searched...still no luck). We went to the Greenwich Avenue location, which just so happens to have a fun little bar right next store...a great place to spend the 90 minutes you will most likely have to wait for your table! Dinner was totally worth the wait AND the hostess texts you five minutes before your table is ready so you can start walking over (or close your tab) and then again once they're ready to seat you! High-five, Meatball Shop, that is excellent make people wait etiquette!

I would wager a guess and say that all five dinner goers would absolutely recommend that you grab your friends and walk your butt downtown ASAP. They have hundreds of mix-and match balls and sides to choose from and everything was delicious. I had the special of the day, chicken meatballs with Frank's RedHot (their take on a chicken wing, the waitress told me) with blue cheese sauce and the pear lemonade. We also each got an ice cream sandwich for dessert. If you go to The Meatball Shop, and the waitress says "leave room for dessert," you should listen to her, because she works there and I'm thinking she sees a lot of people who are too full (read: sad) from an excess of balls. What you see below is what you'll get...homemade cookie and homemade ice cream. Its really a win win. Another win? The five of us ate dinner and dessert for $96, which I think is relatively unheard of in NYC. Moral of this little Meatball synopsis? You should definitely go. 

Photo from here

Saturday I slept until 12:30 when Fiance called me from his out of town excursion. "You're still asleep?" he said. I wanted to tell him to shut the heck up...but I missed him and was happy he called so I did not. I was out until past midnight on Friday, which is unheard of post entry into real-life adulthood, so I was pooped! Saturday night a few of my girlfriends had dinner at a friend's new apartment. Apartment? Lovely. Dinner? Lovely. Dessert? MORE ice cream (see below)...Lovely.

The most lovely part you may ask? We watched a whole lot of DVR'ed OWN programming (do you watch? I did not until Saturday, but I think now that I might) AND a new show called "Billy on the Street" (on Fuse...did you even know that was still a channel? Because I did not). My friend Stephanie told me about the show a week ago and RAVED. I thought "How funny could this really be?". Lesson learned, I shall never doubt Stephanie again. We watched three episodes and literally laughed the entire time. I would highly recommend (this post has a lot of recommendations) that everyone watch it immediately. Stephanie would suggest so, too (click the link above!).

BEST part of Billy on the Street? A SEGMENT HE DID WAS TAPED ON MY BLOCK. Seriously. Four steps away from my office. New "I work in New York" Goal: Get on Billy on the Street. I am more determined to do this than I ever was to get into the Cash Cab, because even though the host of Cash Cab is totally adorable, I think I would pass out from laughter if I ever met Billy in real life. Billy was so awesome that we didn't get home until after 1:00am! That's twice in two days, people...MAJOR miracle.

Yesterday I had breakfast with friends and then drove to Brooklyn to visit my grandmother. We took down her Christmas tree, which involves putting what seems like hundreds of Swarovski snowflakes back into their designated boxes. Have you ever tried to do this? It is NO small task and toward the end you get the overwhelming desire to stab yourself if the eye with one of said ornaments. But we got them all in their boxes and put away! Yet another miracle! AND I successfully made macaroni and used the toaster oven to re-heat pizza for dinner.

All around, it was a lovely weekend filled with miracles! How was yours?

Reasons to Love New York: Where Christmas Goes to Die

In this post I resolved to follow New York Magazine's footsteps and make "Things to Love About New York" a weekly thing here on Ummm Now What?. This week's is: Where Christmas Goes to Die.

It's no secret that New York does Christmas up big. And that even if your the biggest Scrooge in the world, you can't help but smile when you see the tree at Rockefeller Center (or its smaller counterpart in Washington Square Park), or you pass an advertisement to the Christmas Spectacular or some old lady who has their poodle in a Christmas sweater.

What I didn't know about New York is that the week after New Years, there is literally a purging of Christmas spirit. On Wednesday night, I slept at my Aunts' apartment uptown (after my grandmother's birthday celebration AND the meeting of the puppy...more to come on that later). Yesterday morning, I walked the five or so blocks from their apartment to the 2 train (which was legit the worst train experience of my life) and was met by Christmas vomit on the street (see photos).

Look at all those trees! And that beautiful wreath (have I mentioned I'm a sucker for a good wreath?)! I was moderately depressed as I walked past the Walgreen's filled with angst about whether or not I needed to buy a new Chapstick (mine has VANISHED at work).

Christmas is OVER, I thought to myself! Woe is me, no more JOY! Then I thought that I have never before seen the above mentioned Christmas vomit.

Maybe I've just never noticed before (or maybe where I grew up everyone just had fake trees like us) but New York provided me with actual closure about the end of the holiday season. The decorations didn't just vanish, no, no NOT in the Christmas capital of the world. The decorations died a painful and crushing (in the back of a garbage truck I saw on Amsterdam) death right in front of my very eyes!

Am I moderately traumatized after my first Christmas purge? A little. But I think New York knows that we're tough enough to handle it, and that in the end its probably good for us. Also, the Christmas purge makes it nearly impossible to be lazy and keep you're tree up until March, because everyone on your block will judge you as you drag it to the curb on St. Patrick's Day.

So thanks New York, for closing the 2011 Holiday Season and for preventing your residents from being lazy, slothful embarrassments.

Book #2: Commencement

Book #2 in The Year of 100 Books was J. Courtney Sullivan's 2009 debut novel, Commencement. I read her second novel, Maine, over the summer and while I didn't love it, I thought I'd try Commencement anyway.

Sullivan's novel follows four best friends, Celia, Bree, Sally and April through their time at the all-women Smith College and beyond. The story is a nice, fast read and the characters are likable, which is more than I can say for the characters of Maine. There have been some comparisons of Sillivan to Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and First Wife. While both authors write about women, I would say the comparison ends there. First Wife is the not-so-fictional account of a First Lady (based loosely on the life of Laura Bush) and is one of my favorite novels. That book, along with Sittenfeld's Prep (also good) have characters that (I think) are more developed that Sullivan's, which I think makes for a better read.

Overall, I'm giving Commencement three out of five stars. I thought the ending was a little far fetched and that it would have been a much better book if she had continued the plot in the direction assumed by readers (I won't discuss more for fear of spoilers).

On to book #3!