Author: Heather

I love travel, ballet, cats and my hometown of NYC.

Continent-Shaped Cookie Cutters

feed the world cookie cutters

I’ve done very little cooking or baking this year, but now that it’s fall (which means cooler weather and the holidays) I’m getting inspired to spend some more time in the kitchen. Especially if I had these Feed the World cookie cutters, which are shaped like all the continents. How cool would it be to make your own sugar cookies and ice all the places you’ve visited? Or draw stars on the destinations you’d like to see next?

Plus, part of the proceeds benefit hunger relief. I suppose that’s a good enough reason to pick them up and indulge!

Happy Friday!

(Photo of Feed the World Cookie Cutters via Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store; $20)

Weekend Farm Fun in New Jersey

Just like river tubing is an annual summer tradition, every fall, my friends and I hit up a farm for an afternoon of rural ridiculousness. As a city person, it’s easy to romanticize the idea of living on a farm, surrounded by pretty scenery and fresh produce—every time I’m near one, I debate whether I could transport my life into that setting. But I know how much hard work and uncertainty goes into that lifestyle and know I could never really do it. However, an autumn afternoon filled with farm-lite activities like apple or pumpkin picking and cider doughnuts? That’s really more my speed—sign me up!

This Sunday, we headed to Ort Farms, located in Long Valley, New Jersey. It was quite a ways from the city, so we stopped for brunch at Salt, an awesome gastropub, on the ride there.

While we were still a few miles from the farm, we hit traffic and joked that everyone was headed to the farm, too. And once we arrived there, we saw that it pretty much was true. The parking lot was packed and hordes of people were wheeling wagons laden down with pumpkins or waiting on lines for hayrides and Monster truck rides.

“It looks like we hit the hick jackpot!” my friend exclaimed.

Ort Farms

We decided that the corn maze was the most appealing of all the attractions, so we paid our admission…

corn maze

…received our very accurate “map” to help us get through it….

corn maze map

…and set off on our way.

corn maze

We got a little lost and attempted to consult the “map” for help…

consulting the "map"

…but in the end, it didn’t take us very long to find the way out. (Little kids helped us out a few times—they seemed perplexed as to why four adults were in the maze, sans children.)

corn maze

And good thing, too, because by that point we were ready for cider and doughnuts from the farm stand. They were delicious—though I unfortunately didn’t get any shots of them, because I was too eager to fight my way to the trays of fresh doughnuts to remember to take photos!

What’s your favorite fall tradition?

So Ready for the Weekend!

shen wei's "rite of spring"

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some downtime this weekend! …though I do have a few things planned. Tonight, my mom and I are catching the last program of City Center’s annual Fall for Dance Festival, which includes Shen Wei’s “Rite of Spring,”В a piece I’ve been wanting to see. (I’ve been making an effort to see more dance, this year—there are always so many great shows and I learn a lot from watching the pros.) And tomorrow I’m going to a dinner party and planning to make this.

What are you up to? Whatever your plans, enjoy!

(Photo of “Rite of Spring” via Shen Wei Dance Arts)

A Where-I’ve-Been Globe

where i've been globe

In my office, there’s a “free shelf” where people can leave and take items. The other day, I found the best thing ever: an inflatable cloth globe covered with outlines of all the countries. I immediately took it back to my desk.

Apparently, it’s a Seedling Color the Earth ball meant for kids. I decided to make it my “Where I’ve Been” globe, so I colored in the countries I’ve visited—and was immediately humbled.

I have a lot of the world to see.

All of Africa and Antarctica are untouched. I’ve only been to a few countries in Europe—and not particularly huge ones, either (Iceland, the U.K., Norway and Denmark). Asia is pretty blank, save for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Australia and most of Central America are pink. But I only have two countries blocked out in South America. And yes, it’s also kind of sad that I’ve never been across the border to Canada—not even to “bullshit Canada,” i.e. right by the Niagara Falls, even for a few minutes, as Peter asked me.

I know I’m lucky to have visited the places I’ve been to. But seeing how many more I’ve yet to experience just makes me want to pack my bag and head out on more trips.

Are you going anywhere exciting, soon? I could use some inspiration!

(And I did have a good time at the Grand Canyon, earlier this week. Photos and highlights to come!)

Off to the Grand Canyon!

grand canyon

 

Happy Friday! I’m still feeling a tad under the weather, but definitely not bad enough to ruin my vacation. Tonight, Mal, Peter and I are flying out to Phoenix and then driving to the Grand Canyon on Saturday. (And meeting up with Peter’s brother along the way—nothing like sibling weekend trips!) Once we’re there, we’re hoping to get a few good hikes in.

Every single person I’ve spoken to in the past week has already been to the Grand Canyon and says that it’s just amazing. It’s taken me nearly 30 years to make it there, but I’m excited to see it for myself. And if you have any tips to share, please let me know!

Have a wonderful weekend!

(Photo viaВ Grand Canyon NPS’ Flickr)

It Wouldn’t Be a Vacation If…

…I didn’t get sick before or during it.

I don’t know why, because I’m generally a healthy, active person, but I have a wonderful track record of that—I think I’ve had a bad cold, stomach bug, food poison or seasickness on more trips than not.

Earlier this year, I spent my last two days in Panama in bed with a bad cold. A few years earlier, I hiked a volcano in Nicaragua while recovering from an awful head cold. (And felt like I was going to die—when Mal and I finally finished the 9-hour trek, I cried for about 15 minutes straight because my body ached so much. I also missed an amazing sunset, while doing so, apparently.) I’ve gotten seasick everywhere from Colombia to the Great Barrier Reef. And I’ve kicked off many vacations while battling a cold of some sort.В (It’s actually amazing that I made it to and fromВ GuatemalaВ unscathed!)

In keeping with that theme, Mal, Peter and I are flying to theВ Grand CanyonВ tomorrow. And both Mal and I have been sick for the past few days. Somehow we both have sore throats and the headaches and fatigue that go along with them. I’ve been trying to rest up and fight it in hopes that it’ll be gone by the time our flight leaves tomorrow night.

And if not, I just tell myself that a rocky start to a vacation only means the trip can be better from there, right?

(Also: Tips for how doctors stay healthy on vacation, from a story I wrote a few years ago. I should follow their advice better, huh? ;))

(Image via Ed Nacional)

Wise Words from Junot Diaz

The best book I read this year, and probably ever, was Junot Diaz‘s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. (Yes, yes, I know it came out a few years ago—I go through phases of devouring books, then not reading any for months!) From page one, I was floored by Diaz’s use of language. His voice is incredibly unique and authentic, and he puts words together in rhythmic ways that I’d never heard before, let alone could conceive of doing. As a writer, I can’t even be envious of him. To me, Diaz exists on some other level, one that I—and, quite honestly, most other writers—could never even strive to achieve. (It was no surprise to me that he was just awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant.)

Diaz’s new book, This Is How You Lose Her, came out in September and it’s at the top of my reading list. Accordingly, he’s been in the press a lot, recently. But of all the things I’ve read about him, one quote has stuck in my mind. It’s from a Real Simple piece in which famous authors were asked to impart the valuable life lessons they learned from other works of literature. Diaz’s answer was:

I grew up dirt-poor in the Dominican Republic, and when my family moved to the United States (I was six), my new home felt very hostile and cold. As a kid who wanted protection, I read Watership Down, by Richard Adams. It’s about a group of rabbits who are forced from their home and encounter another warren of well-fed rabbits. The displaced animals realize that their fat kinsmen are safe because a farmer has turned their burrow into an outdoor refrigerator. At just eight years old, I realized that security is sometimes too high a price to pay for your freedom. Kindling bravery is a daily challenge: not hiding away in safety, not settling for whatever is just good enough.

Those are such wise words to remember at any time. But right now, when I’m in the middle of a time of change, they ring especially true.

What quotes have motivated or inspired you, recently? I’d love to hear!

(Photo via Jezebel)