Author: Heather

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

Off to Another Beach Weekend!

blue crabs

I’m taking a summer Friday today (woohoo!) and heading back to Maryland. It’s going to be a sibling weekend, since Peter’s older brother, Paul, will be there, too, which only doubles the fun/ridiculousness. So I’m looking forward to more beach, sun, blue crabs, summery drinks–and maybe another slice or two of Smith Island cake.

And here are my fave links from the week:

Where’s your happy place?

The cool journalist’s travel kit (of course there’s booze in there!)

200 dance moves in 200 seconds

Lykke Li’s awesome cover of “Silver Springs” (I’m not a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, but I’m so loving this)

…and always remember: “Stressed” is “desserts” spelt backwards (I definitely needed that perspective this week!)

What are you up to, this weekend?

How Do You Pass the Time on Long Car/Bus Rides?

When it comes to physically getting from place to place, I don’t necessarily think the journey is just as important as the destination. I love spending weekends at my sister’s place. But since I don’t drive, it’s not easy to get there. I have to take a torturous six hour bus ride or five-hour train/bus trip.

I don’t mind the train. Amtrak is pretty comfy and I can work on my laptop when the WiFi is functioning. The bus is another story. I get carsick reading or typing, so the only thing I can do is plug into my iPhone. For six hours straight. I’ve found that listening to This American Life and audiobooks is the only thing that makes the trip doable.

I first started listening to This American Life when I needed to pass time in a similar fashion. A few years ago, I was working a freelance gig that involved lots of, um, mindless busy work. To motivate and entertain myself, I queued upВ TAL–and what a difference that made! I was flying through my assignments and TAL episodes. Within a week, I’d listened to a year’s worth.

TAL makes long trips go by just as quickly. I love how Ira Glass and his correspondents put a quirky spin on every topic they tackle. I’ve yet to come across an episode that isn’t fun, accessible and heartfelt. It’s reporting and storytelling at its best. Not everyone could make the Brazilian financial crisis so entertaining. (I loved that episode–and I usually glaze over/can’t understand anything that involves economics.) Or decide that in order to write the perfect break-up song, you’d have to get Phil Collins’ advice. Or make a story that you’d find in a small town paper (about a school maintenance man on a power trip, for example) way more compelling than any movie that’s been produced recently.

Audiobooks work just as well. Since I was one of the few people on earth who hadn’t read or watched The Help, I figured I might as well listen to it. The audiobook was very well done, with four women, including Octavia Spencer, narrating as the characters–and, at a 18 hours, it lasted several trips. Now, I’m finishing up The Lost City of Z, by David Grann, one of my favorite New Yorker writers. He attempts to retrace the footsteps of Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who went missing trying to find an ancient city in the Amazon.

How do you pass the time on long trips? Are you an audiobook or TAL fan, too?

(Photo via Swiss Miss)

The Tutu Project

Last week, I stumbled upon an amazing exhibit via Canadian Art Junkie. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the National Ballet of Canada is presenting “The Tutu Project,” a display of 60 original tutus. Some are iconic costumes from renowned ballets; others are whimsical creations from artists, ballet fans and even the dancers, themselves. The exhibit is running from July 11 through September 2 at Toronto’s Design Exchange.

While I’d love to see it live, that’s probably not happening. But on the upside, the National Ballet has a very nice online gallery showcasing many of the tutus, as well as photos of ballerinas wearing them in action:

Kitri, Act III from Don Quixote. Designed by Desmond Heeley. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Gizella Witkowsky in Don Quixote. Photo by Barry Gray.

Wilis from Giselle. Designed by Desmond Heeley. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Artists of the Ballet in Giselle (2009). Photo by Bruce Zinger.

The Firebird. Designed by Santo Loquasto. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Jennifer Fournier in The Firebird (2006). Photo by Dale Dong.

The tutus created for the exhibit are just as gorgeous as the ones designed for the stage. Two of my favorites:

Designed and built by Krane Design. Selected by the Fashion Design Council of Canada. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Designed and built by Louise Yu. National Open-call for Artists selection. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

What’s your favorite ballet costume? Most recently, I was pretty dazzled by the new costumes City Ballet wore for “Symphony in C” this season.

(Photos via the National Ballet’s Tutu Project; and thanks to BoomerOntario for first posting about this at Canadian Art Junkie)

Smith Island Cake

Red Velvet Smith Island Cake

I’d been wanting to have a slice of Smith Island cake since I first read about it in the NY Times about a year ago. Mal and Peter had recently moved to Maryland and I was seeking interesting things to do in the area. Not surprisingly, much of my research revolved around local food and drinks, and this cake intrigued me.

Smith Island cake is Maryland’s official state dessert. It’s constructed from six to 12 super-thin layers of cake and just as many layers of icing. The cake is “native” to tiny Smith Island, which measures just eight by 12 miles,В the only inhabited island in the Chesapeake. No one knows who created the confection–some say it was born from a torte recipe Welsh settlers brought to the island in the 1600s. But it’s beloved there and across Maryland’s eastern shore.

And after having a few slices this weekend, I can understand why.

We didn’t have time to go to Smith Island, so one of my sister’s co-workers recommended that we pick up the dessert from the Original Smith Island Cake Company, located in West Ocean City. We purchased two mini cakes: one red velvet, one original.

Smith Island Cakes

We had the red velvet cake as part of our breakfast on Sunday. (I mean, what else would you eat when you’re spending the day in a bikini?) I knew the cake would have many layers, but I was still amazed at just how thin they were. Mal and I ate our slices layer by layer; I thought the cake was really good, but wanted the frosting to have more of a cream cheese tang.

red velvet Smith Island cake

Later, after our day at the beach, we cut into the second cake, which was golden cake with chocolate frosting. That slice wowed me–the chocolate frosting was so rich andВ fudgy. Since myВ opportunitiesВ to have Smith Island cake are limited, we may get another one this weekend. We’re thinking of trying the strawberry shortcake…

original smith island cake

Off for a Chillaxin’ Weekend!

chillax

I’m super-excited to be heading to the Maryland shore this weekend. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been feeling a little fried and in need of some lazy beach time. And it’s been so freaking hot in NYC!В It’ll be a relief to cool off amid the waves. Plus, my best friend is joining us and giving me (a non-driver) a much-appreciated ride. She wants to tick off my entire Maryland bucket list, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen in one weekend. рџ™‚

Here are some links I’m loving this week. Stay cool!

Grilled fruit cocktails? Yes, please!

The perfect summer cookout playlists

4 themed road trips from NYC

The world in superlatives

Cat nail art!

11 avocado sandwichesВ (I’ve been on an avocado kick and eating 1/day for weeks now!)

East Nashville’s food scene (I ate my way through that city on a weekend trip, a few years ago–and I can vouch for the paletas being the perfect summer treat!)

It’s NYC Dance Week (Take Classes for Free!)

ballet

I love that I work in a low-paying field but have a super-expensive hobby (at least from a writer/editor’s standpoint). Ballet is one of my biggest expenses–a good chunk of my take-home income goes toward classes. To compensate for that, I have to be extremely frugal in other areas of my life (like going clothing shopping once, maybe twice, a year). But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get so much happiness from ballet that it’s 100% worth it.

So I’m thrilled whenever we dancers can score free classes. NYC Dance Week–which actually runs 10 days–starts today and goes through June 30. About 25 studios around the city are offering free classes, including the Ailey Extension, where I go. (In fact, my awesome teacher, Kat Wildish, is holding a free ballet class this Saturday.) And if ballet’s not your thing, there’s a free class for almost every style, from hip hop to tango to Pilates. I think it’s a great way to try a new style or get back into dance if you’ve been meaning to for years. (Believe me, I’ve been there!)

(Photo via Pinterest)

Hello Summer!

Wow, it was pretty freaking hot in NYC today! The temperature was in the sweltering, sticky 90s, but I was thrilled to usher in my favorite season on a day that actually felt like it. Even though I’ve already been in summer mode for ages, I’m looking forward to spending more weeks savoring my favorite hot weather activities: spending weekends at the beachВ (and ticking off my Maryland bucket list), going to free outdoor concerts, drinking on roofdeck bars, having picnics in the park, tubing on the Delaware River, watching the summertime crop of reality dance shows in my un-air conditioned apartment while eating dinner on ballet nights…

What are you looking forward to this summer? (And stay cool, fellow New Yorkers!)

(Photo via Rachel Maddow’s Facebook page)