Monday, August 29, 2011

House (or Apartment) into Home

So many antioxidants it makes my head spin! Late summer when stone fruit and berries collide is definitely my favorite fruit-season.

I've discovered that there are three (inanimate) ingredients that make me feel at home, no matter where that home might be. Flowers, fruit, and food! Today we did some serious, for-real grocery shopping at Trader Joe's on 72nd Street, which I am madly in love with. I already adored TJ's, but its prices are so much lower and quality so much higher than anything else in the neighborhood that I've become a little obsessed with it. And then later, I cooked my first real dinner in the apartment! I'd previously made a few things here and there (oatmeal, scrambled eggs, tuna salad), but not an actual meal.

On the menu: Indian Summer Frittata with corn, bell pepper, jalapeƱo, kalamata olives, tomatoes, and basil, homemade guacamole, tortilla chips, salsa, and August Fruit Crumble with plums, figs, black cherries, and strawberries. The frittata was so good we both had seconds...and it has so many seasonal veggies! (Frittata and crumble from Mollie Katzen's "Still Life with Menu.")

I love how the interior of a ripe fig looks like an amethyst geode or a crystal cavern.

Add some sunset-colored snapdragons, and I'm set.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Scenes from the Staten Island Ferry

So now we've officially seen the Statue of Liberty. It is indeed a lovely shade of green. We took a budget trip to the financial district on the tip of Manhattan--everything we did was free, except for the subway fare. Now, that free ferry is tricksy. You can't really make a round trip, though most people are just on it to get a good look at Manhattan and the statue. Once you get to Staten Island, you gotta exit the ferry, make a big loop at the dock, and then re-board. Still, it was pretty awesome. And breezy!

There she is!

As you can see, it was windy. An anonymous bridge in the background. Brooklyn bridge?


Surveying Manhattan from within

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lots of People Live Here: A Collection of Obvious Observations

So far, we haven’t ventured very far out of the Upper West Side/Morningside Heights, which is the area from 59th Street to 110th to the west of Central Park. While wandering around (the other day we walked 120 blocks up and down Broadway, from Columbia to Julliard and back), we have noticed a few things that many people before us have also noticed. But since we’re noticing it ourselves for the first time, they seem pretty interesting and important. Enjoy!

1. Buildings Here are Tall

And we thought San Francisco was impressive. Nope! I guess with little fear of earthquakes comes little fear of heights. Though the other day, there was an earthquake here! At first I thought for sure that it must be a giant, lumbering truck, but no, a real earthquake! Things swayed back and forth for a while, and then everything was fine. Silly New York, just trying to make us feel at home.

Devin is a pretty tall guy. I present him here next to some buildings, which, as you can see, are considerably taller than he is. Impressive!

Despite the height, there is sky!

Pretty bricks and branches.

2. People Are Everywhere

Take a look at these windows. How many different people do you think live behind them? The answer: a lot. But most of them are walking down on the street with you.

Which brings us to number three:
3. Babies in Strollers and Dogs on Leashes Coat the Sidewalks

People don’t seem too keen on having their dogs pet by strangers, which is antithetical to the purpose of dogs.

4. Don’t Eat the Chinese Food

It is bad. I had some of the worst pork and shrimp dumplings ever the other day, which left me longing for the Bay Area’s ethnic food staples. The Upper West Side is not a place to go if you are looking for numerous and delicious eats. The eats that are edible (and affordable) are few and far-flung. Soon, we will venture to Chinatown.

5. The Subway Takes You Places

So far the Subway has been absolutely awesome. It’s much less confounding (and much cooler) than the Metro in Paris or the Tube in London. It’s that lovely grid system. It runs fast and frequently, and the other day we even made a successful transfer to a line other than the 1 (which we use the most as it delivers us practically to our apartment door).

Tomorrow (if it isn’t raining. It does that a lot here.) we’re going way down south to see some Big Deal Things, including the Statue of Liberty, which I hear is supposed to be ... fairly impressive.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And There's Air-conditioning!

It is unnerving to sign a nine-month lease to a tiny apartment you’ve never seen. All the age old city-dwelling horror stories begin rattling through your head--massive cockroaches, bed bugs, mold, terrible linoleum, rusty water, no natural light, alligators in the toilet.

And then there’s our apartment. We have round-the-clock security guards. Elevators. Each floor even has its own laundry room. The hardwood floors glisten, the big windows are north-facing, there’s more closet space than we know what to do with, and even the bed is comfortable. The stove heats things up and the freezer cools them down. The entire place feels fresh and light and clean. We’re still waiting on a few boxes of things, but it’s starting to feel a lot like a home. And—even on the 8th floor—it’s always cool. In this post, I'm going to attempt to take you on a 360 degree tour of our studio.

Our security system.

View number 1 of our narrow-but-utilitarian kitchen.

The other side.

The (almost) whole shebang!

"Breakfast Nook" or "Food Corner"

Travelling left towards the window. A bit of desk.

Close-up of our California pictures.

Shoe corner.

Our pet cat, and Sunnyvale backyard ivy that survived the cross-country flight! Plus, introducing our most beloved new friend, a radiator! Right now it's working as AC.

Devin getting some writing done.

Over to the other wall/entrance to the bath and closet.

Family photos.

The alligator-less loo.

The end of our miniature home tour. Y'all will be invited back when we've filled it with a few more things!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Through Glass

The view from somewhere over Pennsylvania.

Out our hotel room window.

We are officially in the Empire State! In body, at least. Our brains are still very much in vacation mode, and it's difficult to process that this is a permanent--or at the very least two-year-long--situation. Today we ate at Tom's Restaurant of Seinfeld fame (underwhelming), signed our lease, had a New York Slice (whelming), walked two miles through Harlem to get to Target, which was soothingly similar to all other targets ever constructed, and began sorting all of our belongings out of small containers and into big ones. The apartment isn't ready for its big reveal yet as the walls are still naked, so I'll leave you with a brief video Devin shot of the view from our apartment window. Stay tuned to see was has been ominously dubbed by University Housing the "Efficiency Unit!"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Goodbye, Golden State

Our flight from San Francisco into La Guardia leaves at 6 AM tomorrow. We have never been to New York City —or to the east coast, for that matter. We don’t know what our apartment looks like, only that it’s 17 feet by 13 and probably on the 8th floor. The concept of good public transit seems ridiculous, even mythical. We’ve never experienced winter … here, sometimes things are a little gray and cold, other times a little bright and hot, but never snow. In our ocean, you can swim. Goodbye hiking in the gold-grass covered foothills, to the dark silhouettes of twisting oak trees, a messy Double-Double animal style and a vanilla shake at midnight, to our friends and siblings, parents and pets. Hello to autonomy and the unknown!

Until we meet again.