Author: Heather

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

3 Tips for Would-Be Writers

At a panel discussion at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, an audience member asked three established writers what advice they had for aspiring scribes. Their answers were so simple and so true:

“Read a lot. Read a lot.” – Magic HoursВ author Tom Bissell

“Write a lot.” – I Must Not Think Bad ThoughtsВ author Mark Dery

“Don’t expect to make any money.” –В Is That a Fish In Your Ear?В author David Bellos

I couldn’t agree more (especially with the last one).

My own advice? Believe in your writing and have confidence in your work–because if you don’t, no one else will.

And let’s not forget Hemingway’s very wise words on the subject.

What would be your advice?

(Image via Pinterest via Bippity Boppity Boo)

Off for a Girls’ Weekend!

karen, heg, reen

Happy Friday!В I’m especially excited because I’m getting out of town with Karen and Reen. For ages, we’ve been talking about having a girls’ weekend–and now we’re finally doing it. (We’ve probably been saying that since the photo above was taken…back in 2004 after we graduated from college.)

I’m looking forward to lots of great food (and drinks–it’s gonna be Cinco de Mayo/Derby Day, after all), but mostly, for the time together.

Have a good one, too!

(P.S.: A hilarious link to start the weekend–though it’s all stuff I try not to think about when I’m not at work!)

Fear of Falling Objects

falling

I had to laugh when I saw the first “Intelligencier” item in this week’s NY Mag because it addresses a distant worry that’s always in the back of my mind: being injured/maimed/killed from a falling object while I’m walking down the street.

I’ve had that fear as long as I can remember. And I always attributed it to growing up in NYC. Off the top of my head, I can recall dozens of stories–starting from when I was a kid–of freak accidents having to do with falling objects. There was the relative who dropped an air conditioner out a second story window; a man who committed suicide by jumping off a building and landing on a sidewalk near pedestrians; numerous scaffolding and crane collapses; Central Park tree branches that crushed people; ice chunks breaking off buildings and konking people on the head…you get the idea.

ApparentlyВ I’m not alone–and my “irrational” fear might not be that irrational, after all. The NY Mag piece describes it as:

an ambientВ New York fear: In a city full of air conditioners hanging out of windows and gargoyles disintegrating twenty stories up, the pedestrian is ever at risk of being bonked from above.

And then they provide a nicely packaged statistical sampling of such incidents. Check it out here.

I’m curious–is this something you’ve ever thought about, too?

(Top image via Pinterest, infographic via NY Mag)

DIY Banh Mi

Two weekends ago, while unexpectedly sitting on a runway in Philly at 1 a.m., I stumbled across a recipe for grilled banh mi in Food & Wine‘s new travel issue. In addition to looking delicious, it appeared super-simple, just requiring a few ingredients, little prep time and two steps. I immediately knew that’s what we’d be grilling at Mal and Peter’s place the following weekend.

Maryland’s eastern shore, where they live, is, without doubt, the country’s best region for blue crabs. But other than that? Let’s just say, it’s definitely not New York. Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, non-sushi Japanese, authentic Chinese and Italian are practically nonexistent. Mal and Peter have taken to getting their ethnic food fixes whenever they’re in NYC, Philly or DC–or they make it themselves. So we were all excited to try assembling our own banh mi.

The sandwiches came out great! It was so tasty and summery that we’ll definitely be grilling them all season long. And they really were effortless to make:

The marinade is just fish sauce, garlic, scallions, honey, sugar and pepper. We chopped and pureed the ingredients and poured the mixture over thinly sliced pork tenderloin.

After the pork marinated for two hours, Peter skewered the meat and grilled it to perfection–every piece was tender and juicy!

Then came the best part: assembling the sandwiches with hoisin sauce, Sriracha, pickled veggies, sliced cucumbers and lots of cilantro–and eating them. The recipe’s definitely a keeper:

Grilled-Pork Banh Mi (from Food and Wine)

Ingredients
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
Six 8-inch-long rolls or 2 baguettes, cut into 8-inch lengths and split
Hoisin sauce and Sriracha chile sauce
Vegetable oil, for grilling
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into 2-by-1/2-inch matchsticks (We also used pickled veggies in addition to the cucumbers)
1 1/2 loosely packed cups cilantro sprigs

1. In a blender, puree the fish sauce with the honey, sugar, pepper, scallions and garlic. Transfer the marinade to a bowl, add the pork and toss. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Thread the pork through the top and bottom of each slice onto 12 bamboo skewers.

2. Spread the rolls with hoisin and Sriracha. Light a grill and oil the grates. Brush the pork with oil and grill over high heat, turning, until just cooked, 4 minutes. Place 2 skewers in each roll, close and pull out the skewers. Top with the cucumber and cilantro and serve.

Breaking Pointe: Ballet Gets a Reality TV Show

Given the number of crazy reality TV shows out there (Swamp People! Hoarders! Toddlers & Tiaras!) it’s kind of surprising that there hasn’t been a ballet one, yet. That’s about to change at the end of the month whenВ the CW network launches the new seriesВ Breaking Pointe. Produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, the show goes behind the scenes at Salt Lake City’s Ballet West to show viewers all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication required to be a dancer.

According to Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute:

When the BBC approached us, their idea was to create the antidote to the movie Black Swan.В My hope for Breaking Pointe is that we can set the record straight about the dance world. I want to present the real joys and heartaches–dramatic, yes, but not with overblown and exaggerated stereotypes.

I didn’t get a clear sense of the show from the trailer–other than that it looks slickly produced and like it’s geared to a young audience. But I’m hoping it’ll live up to Sklute’s expectations. In all honesty, I’m in favor of anything that brings dance–especially ballet–to a mass audience. So I’ll definitely be checking out a few episodes (I’m hoping they’ll show a lot of actual dance and not all backstage drama!).

(One more ballet/pop culture mash-up: dancers shown in slow motion to Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place.”)

First Crabs of the Season

I had such a nice weekend in Maryland with my favorite people. As I’d guessed, it was too chilly to go to the beach (will summer please start, already?) but we did manage to indulge in our second favorite Maryland activity:

Maryland’s blue crab season runs from April through October. The best crabs are, admittedly, in September and October, after the crustaceans have had months to grow and fatten up. But the first crabs of year are always fantastic, too–I think that’s partially due to anticipating them for six months!

Last year, we tried out a number of crab joints along the Atlantic coast and unanimously decided that the best blue crabs are not in Maryland, but in Delaware. They’re at the Blue Crab in Bethany Beach. We stumbled upon the restaurant about a year ago, on another chilly, pre-summer day. Little did we know that it would become our favorite crab place in the region. The crabs are always fresh and meaty and the hush puppies are amazing.

As usual, Peter and I got the All You Can Eat blue crabs and Mal opted for snow crab. As we eagerly awaited our meals, we readied our tools…

…and tried not to eat all the hush puppies and fried chicken they bring out first in an attempt to fill you up.

Finally, the main event arrived!

It’s funny; eating crab is like riding a bicycle–it takes a minute to remember how to do it, after it’s been a while. But once we did, we were cleanly breaking those guys apart, effortlessly extracting big chunks of meat and savoring the meal for a good hour or so.

Off to Maryland!

I’m starting my weekend a little early. I took the day off and I’m headed down to the Maryland shore to see my favorite people in the world. (So excited!)

I was hoping for warm weather of 75-80 degrees so we could go to the beach–at the very least to just hang out and have a picnic. But since the forecast is looking cooler, we’re planning to grill, go shopping and running–and hopefully get my first crabs of the season!

Have a wonderful weekend!