Also

I reactivated my own blog. So I can not post things in TWO places.

Anthology out on August 4th!

Hey Superfriends, I know I already spoiled it by telling you my story had been accepted (SPOILER ALERT), but now, (almost) hot off the press: Rozlyn: Short Fiction by Women Writers (Rozlyn Press) featuring my short story “Separation” and lots of other exciting things will be coming out on August 4th. If you’re interested, you can order a copy from Barnes&Noble(s), Amazon or rozlynpress.com

((((Sorry there are so many parentheses in this post. ))))

2-day Summer in Berlin

Breaking news: we finally had summer this past weekend and temperatures got up to 100°F, which is obviously like Death Valley for Germans. Since it was finally warm enough to go swimming without getting hypothermia, we spent Sunday at Lehnitzsee, which was nice except for the random patches of aggressive algae (or octopi, it was hard to tell). Not much of a tan to speak of, but it’s a start. Of course, you can’t expect summer to last forever, so no one was too surprised about the violent gusts of wind and hail that lasted all night and left Berlin a slightly cloudy 73°. But that’s okay – hopefully Germany’s just saving up some really hot weather for when we got to the Baltic Sea later this month.

Sunday spring outing or Kat’s first post with pictures

And now a post that seems really frivolous after Abby’s… But since I only post like once a year I thought I’d go for it anyway (glad to hear things are settled down! The U.S. is insane lately).. Since it’s finally really spring, we capped off the classic spring activities like the Werder Blossom Festival and the MyFest May 1st Street Festival (free concerts and a lot of good Turkish food before the scheduled vandalism starts) with a Sunday bike outing. From Romantica, one of our favorite brunch locations in Schöneberg, we headed to Berlin-Steglitz to visit the Botanical Gardens I’ve always planned to go to never made it to until now. We had perfect timing for the end of tree-blossom season and the best of tulips, etc., plus all the greenhouses, which ranged from prehistoric plants to “useful” ones like coffee and ginger. Saw the lovely old half-timbered house from outside, but the weather was much too nice for a museum, so we skipped that part.

Here are some pictures of the gardens, if I can figure out how to post them…

IMG_2102 IMG_2103 IMG_2104 IMG_2105 IMG_2106 IMG_2107 IMG_2108 IMG_2109 IMG_2110 IMG_2111 IMG_2113 IMG_2114

 

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From there, we got back on our backs and passed a couple of the beautiful lakes on the outskirts of Berlin, Nikolasee and Schlachtensee, then biked into the woods surrounding Wannsee lake, where we parked our bikes and took the ferry out to Pfaueninsel, where Friedrich the Great kept his peacocks and romantic trysts.  We saw blue and white peacocks in full splendor, plus 2 of the 3 mini-castles, one of which F. the Great had built to look like a romantic ruin to entertain one of his mistresses. I was pretty hangry by this point, so we took a coffee/cake break at a meadow in the middle of the island, where they luckily happened to be selling coffee and cake (and water!) The weirdest part of the island is of course the constant peacock shrieks, which sound kind of like a very loud cartoon cat.

Anyway, it looks sort of like this:

IMG_2163 IMG_2164 IMG_2165 IMG_2166 IMG_2172 This peacock was just chilling outside of the peacock area, apparently eating bugs?

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IMG_2186This one is the fake ruin. It wasn’t very convincing, but good effort.

 

I was a lot less motivated on the way back to central Berlin, especially after the cake break and then getting caught behind a really large (in number, not weight), slow family who managed to block both the bike lane and the entire sidewalk so we couldn’t pass them for ages, but we made good time once we finally escaped from behind their incredibly wide baby bike-trailer and were back home by dark. The whole trip was 41 km, a small step on our plan to bike to S’s hometown, which is more like 200 and some, but a great outing for a sunny Sunday in spring.

 

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One Baltimore

Hi superfriends,

Many of you have texted/emailed/gchatted/called to check on me this week and I really appreciate it! The violence and rioting that occurred on Monday was fairly contained about three miles from us and I haven’t felt unsafe at any point this week.  I am still wrapping my thoughts around everything that has happened and my facebook feed has been flooded with articles, opinions and, from a few, ignorance. I try to keep politics and controversy off facebook but I thought a blog post could help me adequately sort through my feelings.

I want to start by saying I clearly can’t begin to imagine how Freddie Gray, his family and the residents of Sandtown-Winchester feel or what they have gone through, however everyone in the city is definitely feeling the impact of Gray’s illegal arrest (as just charged by the Maryland Sate’s Attorney) and death and the subsequent unrest throughout the city. The sound of choppers overhead has been a constant since Saturday as 4-6 media/police helicopters are constantly circling. My office has been closed since Monday afternoon when they sent us home after word of the planned protest/riot/”purge” was circulated. They played an O’s game two blocks from our apartment in front of zero fans. We’ve obeyed the 10pm-5am curfew which feels particularly surreal. Aside from all of that, the story has just been top of mind and the first thing everyone is talking about. We’ve briefly touched on it during every conference call as we work remotely, we’ve heard bartenders and restaurateurs discuss it in terms of closing early and economic impact, and we’ve had our own debates on whether or not we think the officers will get indicted.

We’ve heard from CNN/MSNBC/Fox News, local news, the mayor, the governor, the police chief, city council members, Chris Van Hollen, Martin O’Malley, Hilary Clinton and President Obama. Baltimore tweet

I was particularly impressed with President Obama’s statement and his call for institutional change. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s statement and the charges they are filing against the six police officers involved also call out the issues that have been seen between the Baltimore police and the residents of the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of the city: unlawful arrest and callousness/disregard for human life (read this NPR article for information on the charges). I in NO way think this reflects the actions/opinions of the entire police force, BUT I do agree that there needs to be systematic change. Read this investigative piece from 2014 by the Baltimore Sun for more information on the history of undue force used by Baltimore Police.

It was tough to watch criminals wreak havoc on the city Monday night – looting, attacking police, setting fires – and tough to know that viewers at home across the country and the world were passing judgement on Baltimore based on those actions.  What they did was wrong, illegal and incredibly hostile. However, it is with pride that I have seen the city come together and repair over the past few days. I just saw a couple interviews on local news with two men in Freddie Gray’s neighborhood who in the same statement thanked the State’s Attorney for bringing charges against the officers, thanked the police officers for maintaining safety in the neighborhood and encouraged everyone to stay peaceful over the weekend. Yesterday, Jeanette and I dropped off gatorade, fruit and granola bars to police officers who were working in the harbor since they have been working pretty much around the clock since Saturday to make sure our city stays safe.

Baltimore's Beautiful Inner Harbor

Baltimore’s Beautiful Inner Harbor

Christmas lights on 34th Street - Utz girl and Natty Boh man - Baltimore staples!

Christmas lights on 34th Street – Utz girl and Natty Boh man – Baltimore staples!

The emergency curfew has impacted local businesses.

The emergency curfew has impacted local businesses.

I still love this city and while this was a tough week, I did many things that reminded me of how great this city is. I went for a run around gorgeous Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor, Jeanette and I did some traditional Baltimore stoop-sitting for a pre-curfew drink and chat with our neighbors, and we walked into the neighborhood for early dinner/drinks to show support for local businesses.

Adam and his groomsmen at our wedding

Adam and his groomsmen taking photos in the Harbor before our wedding

The above photo is of Adam and his groomsmen at our wedding. To me this photo illustrates a couple things 1. Adam is totally badass and 2. clearly the cordial relationship we have with the Baltimore Police is not the same relationship other residents have elsewhere in the city. Hopefully everything that happened this week is a a wake up call and the start of change and healing- even after the national media stops shining a light on it.

Much love to Baltimore, our residents, our police, and our sports teams! One Baltimore.❤

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Mawwiage is what bwings us togetha today!

As a long time lover of the Princess Bride, it seems only appropriate to dig out that piece of cinematic excellence to watch on the eve of my wedding and that is exactly what Jessie and I plan to do this coming Saturday night. I have forced Jessie (and all of the other superfriends) to watch the Princess Bride countless times over the past 15 years to the point where they had to physically retrain me from quoting every line. It is the BEST story: full of silly humor and jokes, friendship, adventure and true love (which is the greatest thing in the world, besides a nice MLT) – all things that also describe my relationship with Adam. Adam makes me laugh even more than Vizzini and I am so excited to face life’s adventures with him and to be his [princess] bride (and I promise not to try and kill myself when I reach the honeymoon suite!).  Anyway, I guess this is just a round about way of saying EEEEEEE I can’t wait until Sunday!!! And in case you’re interested in learning some fun facts about the Princess Bride, check out this great Buzz Feed listicle- 43 Inconceivable Facts About the Princess Bride.

Besides watching the Princess Bride and marrying Adam (duh) there are about a bajillion other things I am looking forward to this weekend. I am excited to have all of my friends and family and Adam’s family in one place – and to see everyone mix and mingle. One of my favorite things about the weddings I have been in has been to spend time with my friend’s families and to meet the groom’s family. I can’t wait for Krolls and Wolfs and superfriends to come together! I am excited to see all of the elements of our wedding pulled together to capture the “spring garden” feel that we wanted. Even though it will be too chilly to have the wedding outside, we hope that our wedding brings a taste of springtime to Baltimore. I am excited for what I hope will be a relaxing morning of pampering with the bridesmaids while we get ready for the wedding. I looove to have my hair and make-up done professionally (seriously this is something that’s on the top of my list of things I’d splurge on if I was super wealthy) and I picture us sipping mimosas cool as a cucumber the morning of the wedding (HA – remind me I wrote this on Sunday when I am a ball of nervous anticipation). I am excited for a meaningful ceremony conducted by the same Rabbi who Bat Mitzvahed me at age 13 and finally, I am excited to break it down on the dance floor all night long!!

And because the Princess Bride and superfriend reunions always make me nostalgic, here are some throwback pics…

Abby and Jessie, twinsies, age 7?

Abby and Jessie, twinsies, age 7?

Superfriends at the beach, summer 2005

Superfriends at the beach, summer 2005

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Baby Watch and Bachelorette!

Helloooooo superfriends! Baby watch 2015 is in full swing over here. My future sis-in-law is due on the 21st but we’re hoping baby comes a little early. I mean, it’s a three day weekend, doesn’t baby know how convenient that would be? Not to mention I’m heading to Miami for Bachelorette part 2: The Cruise on the 22nd and I’d love to be close by when baby comes to see he or she when nice and fresh! I am so excited to be an aunt!

Speaking of Bachelorette part 2: The Cruise, I am SO ridiculously excited!! As Jessie wrote about earlier, my amazing bridesmaids threw me a fantastic bach in Baltimore which was a great chance to celebrate with some of my favorite people who can’t make it to Bachpt2 and some of my favorite people who love me enough to celebrate TWICE! It was such a great night and it was awesome to see how friends from every step of my life got along so well together. Represented were my two different elementary schools (holler Jess and Sarah), middle school (Sash), high school (Linz), college (Jeanette, Jannette, Chel, Anu, Ilana), Kastles (BVP), MBA (Richa) and my new Kroll family (Dorina). I am so lucky to have developed these amazing friendships and am loving the fun times my girls are showing me before I become a boring old married woman (JK THOUGH RIGHT?).

Baltimore Bachelorette

Baltimore Bachelorette

Though we (the superfriends) have traveled together for Sasha’s bachelorette in Austin and to Rehoboth for Lindsay’s bachelorette, I feel like we haven’t really gone on a trip trip together since Vegas back in August of 2010. Here we are a solid 4.5 years later and I am ready for another AMAZING trip with my best friends. There are 11 of us going on the cruise (superfriends + Maryland friends + Kastles friends) which is crazy awesome and I am SO ready to soak up some rays with these girls. I know the warm weather will be incredible, but the quality time together will be even better. I have only been on cruises with my mom (which were great – love you mom!), and I am extra excited to experience them with a group of friends. I imaging us laying by the pool, enjoying frozen drinks, dancing our butts off and maybe even partaking in some karaoke. In honor of this upcoming vacay, I’m posting some oh my favorite photos from our Vegas trip – where we ate, drank, danced, explored and maybe even gambled a little. Can’t wait to do it up with guys again!!

Is this the real Caesar's Palace?

Is this the real Caesar’s Palace?

Get itttt

Get itttt

Vegas...or Paris? No just Vegas.

Vegas…or Paris? No just Vegas.

Being sillyyy

Being sillyyy

Frozen drinks! I hope to see a few of those on the cruise :)

Frozen drinks! I hope to see a few of those on the cruise🙂

So tan...

So tan…

Will there be sexy men on this cruise? I mean, it is a bachelorette!

Will there be sexy men on this cruise? I mean, it is a bachelorette!

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Christmas Eve Eve and Abby’s Local Bachelorette

Superfriends!
First of all, let me say just how blessed I feel to have spent so much time with all of you this vacation. Our time together is precious, especially as our lives expand with new families, new responsibilities, new challenges.
This year, we did Christmas Eve Eve a little differently- no potluck, no boys, and a secret santa gift exchange.
The evening started with a mini coffee date at Peet’s (formerly Caribou) between me, Abby, and Lindsay. Lindsay caught us up on her life post-wedding, her amazing honeymoon (I’ll let her dig into that one later, if she so chooses), and some new challenges facing her and her family. Abby shared some new plans and thoughts on her bachelorette(s) and wedding. I was happy just to listen.
From Peet’s, we went to Lindsay’s house to visit her fantastic parents- who have graciously hosted us each of the last 11 years- and exchange gifts.
The evening was bittersweet for a few reasons, and I know I wasn’t the only one struggling to find a way to celebrate amidst some sadness. However, as the night went on I was only further reassured that if there is a group who can always be happy when they are together, it’s ours. Lindsay’s mom echoed this during our visit, telling us what a special group of girls we are, for the many gifts we each bring to the table, but mostly because of our devotion to each other. It was an emotional moment for all of us, I think, memories from the last 11 years floating through our minds (back to Lindsay’s first uncertainty of how to gift us in the years ahead).
From there, we went to Sunflower- a regular dinner haunt for our group for some time- followed by Kat’s house. Ending the night in the Hausler’s home, where we had all spent so many years, felt comfortable and so right…I’m not sure there could have been a better way to end the evening. With everyone’s lives changing so rapidly, it made my heart happy to end with something that felt so old school and nostalgic.
Fast forward 4 days to Abby’s local bachelorette party! Abby is having her official bachelorette on a cruise to the Bahamas next month, but wanted something local to share with those who couldn’t attend. We spent a night in Baltimore, starting at Abby’s apartment (which Lindsay decorated beautifully) for drinks, dinner, and Abby stories. Included in those stories was a touching re-purposed maid of honor toast by yours truly, punctuated by a few crowd comments regarding my outfit of choice for the evening. Lesson learned- emotions are for the wedding weekend only!
We then went out to the bars in Federal Hill. I’ll let Abby delve into the details of her night, although I’ll foreshadow with a few of my favorite and funniest moments-
Piano man at the last bar, Sasha sticking song requests down his shirt, Sasha shoving various items in her mouth, Abby posing with a very sad looking santa…
The night left me feeling so excited for the cruise with most of those girls next month!!
Now, as I sit on the bus home to NYC, I am sad my vacation is coming to an end but am SO excited for the months ahead. A bachelorette, various work trips, a bridal shower, a wedding, and a half marathon. I look at all of these things and again…I feel so blessed to be experiencing all of it alongside you girls. Miss you all already, but I know I’ll see you soon!
Xoxo
Jessie

Abby’s 2014 Year in Review

Happy December my loves! Another year is almost in the books and we recently passed our one year blogiversary (congratulations to us on 88 posts over the past 14 months). Well, we are another year older and another year wiser and another year closer to being lifelong friends. This year has been full of highs and lows: we’ve seen divorce and separation, loneliness and the loss of loved ones, illness and breakups. But we’ve also seen the birth of new nieces, weddings and celebrations, the beginnings of fantastic new relationships, amazing trips and cross-country moves. I want to take a moment to thank all of you superfriends and all of you anonymous readers in the blogosphere for your love and support over the past year. And now, because it’s a little more fun to talk about the highs than the lows, I want to recap my top 6 moments of 2014!

1. Adopting Jack

We adopted our furry little bundle of joy last January and he is far and above the highlight of my year. JUST LOOK AT THAT FACE! Jack has brought so much joy into our lives it’s ridiculous. Having a dog is lot of work, but every time he greets me with just endless excitement it makes it all so worth it!

Our first picture with Jack!

Our first picture with Jack!

2. Engagement Party

Adam and I have had so many amazing times together this year and have had a ton of fun planning for our upcoming wedding, but I think the engagement party his parents threw for us in March takes the cake. Most of you superfriends were there which just added to the specialness of the event and I loved having so many friends and family on hand to celebrate with us. I also loved how it felt like I was being welcomed into the Kroll family with open arms – I can’t imagine a better family to be marrying into.

Family together at our engagement party!

Family together at our engagement party!

3. Hamptons Winery Trip

In June I traveled up to New York to spend the weekend with three incredible girls I worked with at the Kastles back in 2011 – we have stayed close friends ever since and our constant group texting allows us to keep in touch even when we’re not together. Jessie also joined us since she lives in New York and we all had an amazing day at wineries in the Hamptons (thanks to Artie for driving us around all day).

Girls at a winery

Girls at a winery

All giggles on the beach

All giggles on the beach

4. Graduation

In may I graduated from business school with my MBA. It was a pretty special moment and the culmination of two years of hard work! To get some additional insight into what I learned at b-school and my passion for marketing, check out my other blog – Brand Loyalist!

Some of my favorite people at b-school

Some of my favorite people at b-school

Happy to be graduating!

Happy to be graduating!

5. Lindsay’s Wedding

There’s nothing more special than getting to see your best friend marry the love of her life. Lindsay’s wedding was beautiful, emotional and so much fun. The ceremony was so special and I loved spending the weekend with Lindsay’s and Stephen’s families and with all of the superfriends. I think the absolute highlight was closing out the reception with a big dance party to Shake it Off. Sasha and Lindsay – you have set the bar HIGH for superfriends weddings and I hope mine can live up to it.🙂

Superfriends celebrating

Superfriends celebrating

A special moment with the bride

A special moment with the bride

6. Thanksgiving in South Carolina

Since I’m not working and had some extra time on my hands, I went down to South Carolina with my mom for the whole week of Thanksgiving. It was really great to spend some quality one-on-one time with my mom in addition to all of the warm happiness that comes from spending the holiday with my extended family. Since most of my mom’s fam is in South Carolina we usually only see them once a year which makes Thanksgiving extra special. My mom and I rocked our matching dresses, enjoyed amazing food cooked by my Aunts Diane and Julie and had a blast on our traditional post-dinner walk to the park. We also took a private yoga class taught by my cousin, Rachel, and visited my Aunt Becky’s farm, met her donkey, sheep and miniature horses in addition to having delicious fresh egg salad from her chickens and lettuce from her garden.

Twinning with mom

Twinning with mom

Cousins pic!

Cousins pic!

I can’t to see what next year brings (marrying Adam!!!!) and still have much to look forward to as 2014 wraps up with more quality time with the superfriends. What were your top moments of 2014??

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A Bittersweet Thanksgiving

Hi pretties!
I know it has been ages (and for that I apologize!), and I have missed this blog!! But, I am back! Upon Abby’s urging…and also because I missed this page, I promise!
I spent the last 6 days in VA, which was an amazing break from the day to day here in NYC! I left the city last Tuesday prepared for food, friends, fun, and SLEEP. The perfect recipe for a solid vacay, right?
I saw a ton of long-last pals (some exes included…more on that in a less public forum 😇), and my mini-family as well. Every holiday for the Leimans is similar- 3 women eating store-bought food and…catching up. We eat with my gramma at her apartment in McLean, and generally leave in less than an hour and a half. We are a really tiny family, but doing holidays this way is our “thing,” and has been for a long time, so I’ve never questioned it.
This Thanksgiving was different, though…still store-bought food eaten at my gramma’s, and the visit itself was still short. However, this year I saw my mom look at me with pity when I told her I was wearing Spanx under my dress (she’d asked, “don’t you want to wear tights, or SOMETHING, under that too-snug dress?”). I heard my gramma tell my mother she didn’t want me to turn out like her, alone (she thought I wasn’t listening).
They were profound moments for me, listening to the only two people who truly love me unconditionally, bicker between themselves and with me about how I’m not quite good enough. And yet I am sadder still because I know that someday, when my mother is gone, my family will consist of no one.
I’ve never had a holiday that meets the “normal person’s” definition- celebration, laughter, a real GROUP of people enjoying each other’s company for an extended period of time. And I want that desperately for myself.
In that evening I realized that adulthood really is overtaking me…in looking for a partner I’ve tried to convince myself that love and attraction are enough. But now, it’s about more- it’s about a real family and support system, and it’s about what I will leave behind. I love my family, as dysfunctional as they always are, but they will not be around to see my children grow up. If I’m really lucky, my mom will be around for 15 or 20 of those years. And I keep thinking not just about *my* desire for a big family, but a bigger wish that my kids have a large family to support them if/when I can’t.
So anyway…I realize this is a somewhat sad post in light of the recent holiday. But I see this as a sign that I am growing up to see what is truly important to me, rather than just seeking “available male in his 20s.” Growth!
So with that, I enter the dating pool for the last month of 2014 with a revised understanding of what I’m really looking for in a mate…and life as a whole, I guess.
Rabbit rabbit, ladies!
Xoxo,
Jessie

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