travel

Off to MD!

beach

Surprise, right? I’m sure you knew I’d be heading to the beachВ this weekend. How could I not? I spent July 4th in the city and realized that it was my first time doing so in years. I had a very nice NYC holiday. I went to ballet and brunch and even managed to catch some fireworks–I just walked across the street to the Hudson. Though I was too far north to see the Macy’s show, I saw a few displays from different NJ towns. (One perk of living way uptown.) But now I’m craving a quick escape from the city, so I’m taking an early morning train to Mal and Peter’s. (I think we’ll skip Seacrets, this time.)

Stay cool this weekend–it’s supposed to be 100 degrees on the east coast! And enjoy these links:

Yiiiiiiiiiikes! All of San Diego’s fireworks went off at once!

Do you live in a city? Hmm, let’s find out.

Awesome: an ode to Cooper Nielson (really ABT’s Ethan Stiefel) and Center Stage (the best worst movie, ever)–at NewYorker.com

10 cool, small kitchens (I actually think my kitchen is even smaller than all of them)

Seacrets

seacrets

If I were to put Seacrets on NY Mag‘s Approval Matrix, it would be all the way in bottom right corner: It’s extremely lowbrow. But also brilliant.

Seacrets is a “Jamaican”-style beach bar in Ocean City, MD. It reminds me a bit of Rick’s Cafe in Negril, plus Rehab in Vegas–but way higher on the ridiculous and skeevy scales. The main draw is that it’s spring break for adults. You can sit and drink in giant, multi-person floats or semi-submerged tables and stools, or just dance right in the middle of the bay. On a hot summer day, that’s a pretty enticing option. And that’s why the place is always hopping, mostlyВ with 20- and 30-somethings downing cheap drinks, but also with older folks who just want to cool off–and quaff cheap drinks, too. (The margaritas are just $4.50, if you can believe. And yes, you kind of need a drink or two before going into the water so you’re not thinking about how gross it must be.)

seacrets

Since it was sibling/ridiculousness weekend, Mal, Peter, Paul and I spent, um, a good chunk of Saturday there, chillin’ on the dock, then the floats. It was super hot, so it was the perfect way to spend the day–and check off another item on my MD bucket list!

heather and mal

peter, heather, mal, paul

В What’s you favorite summer beach bar?

Premature Nostalgia

Do you ever get nostalgic for things before they’re even over? When you’re having a great time but know that the moment is fleeting and you have to squeeze out every last bit of enjoyment from it? That’s how I felt this weekend.

Mal and Peter just have a few weeks left in Maryland. They’re beyond excited to move back to New York, as am I–it was quite an adjustment (and not always easy) to have them so far away. But I’m also a little sad to say goodbye to the area that’s been so much fun to visit on summer weekends. Mal and Peter are the best hosts and always up for taking guests around the little towns on Maryland and Delaware’s coasts. I’ve had so much fun spending time with them there that I’ve come to think of the place as my second summer home.

I’m especially going to miss the beaches. They’re much nicer than any near NYC. Despite the long rides to and from Maryland, I loved getting out of the city and spending lazy days at…

fenwick island
Fenwick Island, a Delaware state park with a pretty beach…

bethany beach

Bethany Beach, Delaware, a tiny, quintessential shore town where you can walk or bike down the street barefoot and in your bathing suit without anyone giving you a weird look. The beach is also has nice, white sand, and there’s a little boardwalk. Plus, our favorite blue crab joint is there.

Ocean City, MDAnd, of course, the Ocean City beach. The sand is a little coarser and there are usually more people than at Bethany or Fenwick (though not at 8 a.m., when I took this photo). But it’s less than 10 minutes from Mal and Peter’s place.

This weekend, Mal, Peter, Paul and I decided that we need to rent a beach house around Bethany for a few days next year. We all know we’ll need an annual MD/DE beach/crab fix going forward!

Are you having any premature summer nostalgia?

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)

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!)