Category Archives: Jessie

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

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

Business As Usual?

Hi lovelies!

I know it’s been ages since I’ve written, and that stinks- I no longer have a right to give any of you a hard time 😛

So much has been happening on my end. I traveled to Providence, RI about a month ago on an intern recruiting trip for work with my boss, which was awesome. I think I might have mentioned it in my last post, actually, but it bears repeating- the students were so talented, so it was a really wonderful and fulfilling trip. We are now gearing up for intern season, meaning we are coordinating student visas, finding housing, extending offers, etc. Plus, school fashion shows are coming up- RISD on May 10th, SCAD on May 18th, and Graduate Fashion Week in London from May 31st-June 3rd (not sure I’m going to that one, but I am coordinating show and gala invitations, as well as the whole trip). It’s a lot of work on top of my normal, job-filling workload.

In terms of the “normal workload,” I’m in the process of trying to fill somewhere between 10 and 15 jobs. I am SO stressed, but every time I meet with someone talented and see their work, I leave the interview feeling like I don’t have a care in the world. That is absolutely what keeps me going when it’s as crazy busy as it is these days. My job has changed somewhat drastically in the last few months- the responsibility, scope, and exposure. I have in the past found it challenging to view myself as an adult…I was not raised to think of myself as anything other than a child, someone who will always have to defer to someone else. I was raised to give excuses when things don’t go right, because that is what children do. I am needing to hold myself beyond my stature now, and that is both so terrifying and so rewarding. It’s hard for me to move towards growth vs immediate success, but I am learning more and more that when something will ultimately be fulfilling, I am going to “fail” more than once along the way. My biggest hurdle, I think, is going to be in viewing my failures as opportunities, rather than letting them deflate me as I have a tendency to do. I am getting better at this! Hopefully the mindset change sticks. 🙂

On top of all of this, as you all know, i have started hanging out with someone whose company I quite enjoy, I signed up for a choir- whose next cycle starts in May, and I am doing preliminary research on Abby’s bachelorette (I know I have been saying this for a while now, but I mean it this time!). I have also been running more, but only when it’s nice out- now that I actually enjoy running, I don’t want to do anything that can jinx that!

I am trying to be more thoughtful about adding elements into my life that take me beyond a day-in, day-out approach. I feel like so many people have this mentality towards life that “the best is yet to come,” myself generally included, and I’ve started wondering what that really means…like, is that really the best way to look at your world? Why should I wait for the best to come when I can try to make the best today? I realize it’s meant to be an optimistic phrase, but I have started to find it quite depressing, so I’ve been pushing myself to do better. I’ve gotten frustrated in recent months- dating, weight, work, just the overall buzz and overstimulation of the city. In those moments, all (and I mean ALL) I want to do is curl up on my couch with a tub of neverending Ben & Jerry’s and watch Grey’s Anatomy on a loop. Some days, that’s exactly what I do…except the ice cream eventually does end. But I’ve been trying to just keep pushing…push through that awful first date with the guy who bragged about smoking a 10 joints a day by continuing to go on dates with different guys. Push through that day at work where I forgot to do something HUGE by focusing on another work challenge and being more thoughtful. Push through that weight barrier by hitting the elliptical and letting myself sit still and actually *enjoy* the feeling I get afterwards, rather than focusing on weight.

I feel like it’s happened suddenly, but things are just..coming up roses. Work is amazing. I’m enjoying my dating life. Spring is upon us (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! because clearly this is the best thing happening now.). Everything is just lovely and amazing and, while I know eventually something will not be perfect, I’m thinking that maybe my definition of “business as usual” has to change a little bit based on recent events. And I’m ok with that.

Blasts from the Past, Engagement Parties, and Heartbreak

Hi all!

I have been AWFUL at keeping up recently, so I owe you girls a milllllion apologies. Please forgive your favorite Jessie?

Life has been just nuts, and I feel as though I’ve sped through the last month entirely without really stopping to appreciate how fun it’s been. I’ll give you guys a somewhat quick round-up, and pause for the really interesting stuff (like Abby’s engagement party #1)!

I guess it all starts post-New Year’s Eve. As far as work goes, January and February are the height of recruiting season for our global design internship program. We make final selections on local interns, review projects for domestic schools that aren’t as local, and choose which international students will be interviewed in person (by my boss, who travels to Europe for this purpose every February).

This year, we are involved with a bunch of non-NYC domestic schools, and I’ve been the counterpoint for those relationships. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get everyone on the same timeline! Totally rewarding though. I really like working with college kids, and I love how excited they are when they realize they’ve earned this amazing opportunity.

In the midst of this, I’ve managed to make a new friend. There is a redhead who shall remain nameless (you never know who will happen on this blog; I’ll email you all who it is privately) from our Woodson days who hit me up somewhat recently, suggesting we get drinks since we both somehow ended up in New York. He planted the seed a couple of weeks ago, and we met up on Valentine’s Day. More on that in a minute.

I took a break from intern stuff for two mini trips over the last couple of weeks. The first was to Wisp in McHenry, MD for a few days of snowboarding! I was so excited, as I hadn’t been on a board in a few years, and remembered really enjoying it. I went on this trip with my friend Kayla, her fiancee Tony, and a group of their friends (most of whom I ended up liking immensely).

We arrived at Wisp on Thursday morning (I’d taken a couple of days off of work), and exited the car- it was -3 degrees *before* windchill, you guys! BRRRR!! We headed right into the house and started unpacking all of the snacks and booze we’d brought with us.

approaching the gorgeous mountains

approaching the gorgeous mountains

That first night, I won the drunkest-person-here award, falling asleep with my head on the kitchen table in the middle of a game of Jenga. Apparently Tony bent over to double check I was still breathing more than once, I was sleeping so soundly! I told him later that that trait in particular had nothing to do with my drunken state, actually- it’s a gift! I also was apparently holding hands under the table with this VERY cute single guy who was also on the trip. Wish I remembered that part.

I actually felt great the next morning (my lovely friends had been forcing water down my throat), and I managed to hold it together the rest of the trip. I did my first beer bong, went snow tubing for the first time, and spent a looooot of time in the hot tub. The girls didn’t end up boarding at all the whole weekend though, it was so cold. I was ok with it, and had such a blast regardless.

After returning to the real world in good ol’ NYC, I more than made up the time I missed- I stayed extra hours at work, dedicated more than a few hours to the gym, and spent hours at home just relaxing. I knew I’d need it, since I was in the process of adopting the newest addition to my small household- a 6-month old kitten named John!

GIMME MAH COFFEE, MAM!

GIMME MAH COFFEE, MAM!

me and my cute-en

me and my cute-en

He's so sweet when he's sleeping.

He’s so sweet when he’s sleeping.

I brought John home a couple of days after that trip, and he is just a ball of energy. I had been planning on renaming him, but that little ass hole exited his case as soon as we entered my apartment, looked up at me, purred, and then started jumping around my apartment examining everything! We’re not talking like the normal, meek, exploration associated with young cats, but the I-own-the-land demeanor of an already-spoiled child. Seeing this, it was very clear that my cat was more human than animal, and so John he remained.

He’s settled right in, and as he gets more comfortable, it’s like his energy builds rather than subsides. I love him, but I’m in the process of learning how to discipline him when he bites and bats at humans rather than toys. My favorite of his more recent habits? He whacks at my face (claws retracted- thank God my kitten knows his mom) to wake me up every morning at 7:30 or 8. He’s young still, so he’ll learn.

I picked John up on a Friday evening, and spent the entire following weekend with him. I thought this was a great plan…until I went back to work on Monday morning. By Wednesday, he’d be nice for 10 minutes when I got home after work (until I’d snuggled, fed him, and he’d come back for a minute) until he’d nip at me. Took me a couple of days to realize he was mad I’d gone back to work! He’s very playful and active, so while I love him, I can’t wait til his cute little butt calms down a little. I’m trying to spray him with water when he does something bad, and it seems to just be making him afraid of me, which I hate! Intro to being a parent, I guess.

A week after John’s first weekend in my apartment, I was back in DC to throw Abby’s first engagement party! As you all know, she will have two- one meant for just friends, hosted by myself and Abby’s other MOH, Jeanette, as well as one meant for bridal party and family, hosted by Adam’s parents.

The “friends” party, as it will from here on it be referred to, was hosted at a wine bar/coffee house in the Federal Hill section of Baltimore. It’s called Metropolitan, and it has tons of personality! I’m so lucky Jeanette knows that area so well, because I don’t know what I would have chosen location-wise having as little knowledge of the area as I do.

Abs, Brit, and me

Abs, Brit, and me

Jeanette was unfortunately unable to make it to the party itself, as she had a family emergency come up a few days before. Everyone missed her a lot, but I did express her desire to be there in a mini-speech I gave while kneeling on a bar chair halfway through the party. Now, I know you all are thinking “A speech in public! So un-Jessie-like.” Well, don’t you guys worry- I did manage to almost fall over, so I had the Jessie-like bit COVERED.

Abby’s other bridesmaid, Carrie, was super helpful in setting up an hour before the party. I brought sparkly string, photos of Abby and Adam together, photos of them with friends, and little hearts to hang up! The space was already so cozy and homey, but I wanted it to feel quirky and personal too.

photos and hearts

photos and hearts

engagement2

Abby and Adam fo-eva

Abby and Adam fo-eva

I added in a couple of extra surprises- I baked these banana funfetti cake tarts, and topped them with the chocolate mousse I like so much, and Carrie made these AMAZING Oreo cupcakes. You guys, when I say amazing, I mean ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I think I had 3, and I was still craving more as I left the party. I also brought a ceramic pug bowl (we put heart-shaped chocolate candy in it!), and a big pink scrapbook. Knowing Abs, I left the book empty- we all know how she loves chronicling her life, and I thought this would be a nice place for her to document her wedding planning journey!

banana funfetti chocolate mousse tarts...I was too busy eating Carrie's cupcakes to take a photo of them.

banana funfetti chocolate mousse tarts…I was too busy eating Carrie’s cupcakes to take a photo of them.

When I got back to the city, our old Woodson friend was back in touch with me to grab a drink! We were supposed to go either today or yesterday, but ended up meeting earlier than planned- Valentine’s Day Night. He’d been out for a couple of hours already and was presumably a little tipsy, while I had just finished a workout. I figured “why not,” and met him at a bar next door to my first NYC apartment.

I had a good time! This particular gentleman was in the “in-crowd” in high school, and I’d actually never spoken a word to him before this past Friday! We had a blast telling each other how our DC group of friends are the same as they were 10 years ago, and how grateful we were for that.

Our New York experiences have been a little different, in that I grew up a little before moving here and lot afterwards. Any growing up this kid has done…well, it seems like it hasn’t really happened in the city. He paid for my drinks and flirted a little, and I assume there will be an extension to this story at a later date; I promise to keep you all posted. It was interesting, to say the least, and I’m curious to see where it goes.

I know this all sounds fun, but the last few weeks were unfortunately not without their downfalls- my other friend who was engaged- I was in her bridal party as well- her fiancee left her on Thursday morning. Apparently, he told her that there were too many things they don’t see eye to eye on, and that they shouldn’t be together…then he packed up his things and left. He followed up this revelation with an email to tell her that his move was permanent.

While they *had* been having small tiffs regarding the costs of certain things associated with their upcoming wedding, this was largely out of nowhere, and my poor friend- who has dated this guy for 8 out of the last 10 years- was blindsided. They were about to move into a new house with a friend, they owned a car together, and he makes considerably more money than she does. I can’t even begin to fathom the devastation she is feeling, much less the accompanying necessary complications that only add to it.

I want so badly to be there for her…and yet, what can I really do? I’m totally helpless, and this poor girl’s life is just in tatters. It’s amazing how things can change so quickly, and it makes me so grateful to be self sufficient. I can’t guarantee myself that I will never endure another heartbreak, but I can guarantee that I will always be self sufficient enough that the complications won’t be *quite* as complicated.

Anyway, I wanted to do something nice for her and couldn’t quite figure out what. I wasn’t sure just how much good chocolate or flowers would do on Valentine’s Day- felt hokey and like it might make her feel worse- so I put together a care package of new clothes and some baking stuff. I’ll see her in a couple of weeks when I’m back for Abby’s engagement party #2, and make sure she gets some extra TLC.

I didn’t manage to get a photo of Snowmageddon 2014 2.0, but it was about 1.5 or 2X what Abs showed in her photos. I got pelted in the face with ice (ICE) on my way into work on Thursday, so, there’s that.

I miss you all, and I’m SO excited to see [most of] you in March!

Things Jessie Hates- the New Yorker Edition

Hi, Superfriends!

It was really so great seeing all of you during my crazy-long (but felt like a blip!) vacation, but I must admit, it’s made me a bit nostalgic. Add in Abby’s 3945930480578 photo albums and all of the wedding talk and I’ve basically been a weepy pile of goo for the last two weeks.

That said, there were some old-school things that made me less nostalgic than they did appreciative of the really mature- but still exceedingly eccentric- women we’ve all become. A prime example- the notebooks left over from our middle school and early high school days.

Abby pulled out some *serious* gems over which we perused on New Year’s Eve, including one whose highlights ranged from Kat’s Health Class countdowns (“75 minutes left. This teacher is yammering about something I am not entirely sure is in English. 73 and a half minutes.”) to my own musings on the cuteness that was Josh.

Everyone’s favorite throwback of the evening, however, was the “Things Jessie Hates” list, a derivative of said Josh being too “sick” to hang out with me on the designated day (and I was SO EXCITED for him to sit in my Spanish class next to me and do nothing while I learned another language! How could he have possible bailed on THAT?!). Golden nuggets included “Being sick, but feeling fine,” “Being bailed on,” “Cute boys not liking me,” and other variants on the EXACT. SAME. SENTIMENT. It was everything you pray to whatever higher power you believe in that you never were…but everything you’re fairly certain that you did, at one point, embody. You all only have this unsettling thought to rest on…I, however, have written proof that those days happened. You’re welcome, Superfriends, for the chuckle.

However, I have chosen to embrace the comically emo teenager that I was, and honor her by compiling a list of things that I, the hardened, spinster, fashionista (don’t judge me for assigning myself said label) New Yorker hate currently.

Here, I present to you- Things Jessie Hates, circa 2014

* Being yelled at on the subway for pushing. I’m sorry lady, are you aware of the fact that you’re on the busiest train in the city during Monday morning rush hour, or were you somehow transported here in the time travel portal you were smart enough to create but too dumb to figure out how to use correctly? It’s everyone ELSE who is pushing; I probably brushed you lightly with my Brillo-pad Jew fro. My bad.

*Enterers shoving past the exiters. I don’t care if you’re on the train, in a cafe, a store, whatever- if that lady is trying to exit the storefront through which you are attempting to enter, SHE HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY. Unless you’re having a heart attack the only cure for which is entry to Bloomingdale’s, back the eff off.

*People with babies being horrified when they realize childless pedestrians don’t have eyes in the backs of their heads. You bumped into my heel with your stroller? Yeah, that’s your fault, not mine. Don’t look at me like I just shook your baby.

*Cold espresso drinks. Starbucks is the only shop I know whose just-steamed beverages are the ones that are somehow served the most lukewarm. It’s basically an art form.

*Vagueness. There is nothing more irritating in a city of straight-shooters than the one person who refuses to give you the real talk.

*Chocolate. Hah, PSYCH! Just wanted to make sure you guys were still with me. I’m eating a mountain of peppermint chocolate bark as we speak. Tell me you’re shocked.

*Designer clothes. They sit there in the Bergdorf’s window, just taunting me with those price tags. Jerks…but damn are they pretty…

*The realization that someone likes you way more than you like them. Letting people down in a way that’s kind but firm is basically one of the least fun things in the world. No, scratch that- least fun thing in the world.

*Bills. Yeah. This one is self-explanatory. WHOOO, ADULTHOOD FTW.

*Watching your friends grow. Hold on, don’t get mad yet! This is actually bittersweet. I LOVE watching you all grow…but part of that is often a physical distance that keeps us apart. That makes me really sad!

*Forgetting to be completely, authentically myself. My biggest new year’s resolution for this year is to get better at being unapologetic about being myself…while still challenging myself. It’ll be a tough balance, but I’m up for it.

That last one said…that list completely encompasses who I was as a high schooler…and this one, I think, pretty well encompasses who I am now. A little snarkier, a little wiser…and maybe more cynical than emo. Hey, it’s a step in the right direction. I’ll take it.

Annual Potluck- Jessie’s Take

Happy Christmas Eve/Chinese Food Day Eve, everyone!

Last night was a VERY special potluck dinner- for a few reasons- so today seemed as good a time as any to post.

First of all, it was the 10th anniversary of a tradition that began when Lindsay asked the question “…every year?” (love you Linz!) Funniest to me was the thought of how different we all are now than we were then…and yet how very much the same.

Sarah still has pretty hair-ah (and is incredibly photogenic).

Abby still takes photos of EVERYTHING.

Kat still hug-attacks EVERYONE.

Lindsay still hosts in beautiful fashion.

I still burn the dishes I cook and fail to wrap my presents.

Obviously we bear other similarities to our former selves. But it was amusing to me that we are leading such wildly different lives both from our high school selves and from each other, but we are still the same girls with the same friendships. It’s a rare common thread through all of our lives that really is something special.

Also making this year a little different and unique- we used to use that night to talk about crushes…and this year it was weddings! Half of us are officially on lockdown, with Sasha married and Abby and Lindsay now engaged (…but not to each other, I find it important to point out). I’ll leave out some details since Sasha was unable to make dinner this year and I don’t want to spoil it for her, but I teared up a bit once or twice. I warned the girls that 2014-2015 is just going to be a blur of Jessie-is-crying-again episodes.

Other highlights, as always, included the food, as well as the boys joining later in the night.

We were joined by the usuals- Stephen, Adam, and Bud. (Lindsay’s fiancee, Abby’s fiancee, and an old friend of the group, respectively). Also enjoying the festivities last night, however, were Daniel (pronounced “Dah-nyel,” he is Kat’s Swedish chef (HAH!) man friend), Brian (a close friend of Stephen and Lindsay with whom we also went to high school), another Stephen (another high school friend), and MATH!

Math being present really blew my mind. Most of us hadn’t seen him in over 4 years, and for the 4 years before that we were not social so seeing him in a social context for the first time in almost 10 years was crazy! Last time we hung with him really, he was a nutty smart kid with energy and eclectic music/wardrobe choices. Now, he’s a 10th grade English teacher. And a dad. Thrice over. I think my head is still spinning.

We also got some great date stories from some of the single folks. Those stories of course have dwindled over the years- as they should- but with the appearance of myself as well as a few single boys, it was nice to hear about some silly dating antics as well amidst the stability some of us are finding. It was just a really fantastic mix of life experiences conjoining last night, and I need to stop my yammering about it now, otherwise I’ll just go on forever 🙂

We all know my favorite bits are the food, so I’ll give a brief rundown of what everyone brought, as well as my recipes-

Sarah- [cheese] ball covered in nuts. We all know this was my favorite. She also brought tapenade and Ritz crackers but those are way less funny to say.

Abby- Roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, with maple glaze. Abs also brought 2 bottles of pink bubbly!

Kat- a German gingerbread thing (really fresh gingerbread, the technical German name for which I do not recall at present).

Linz- Tofu loaf with carrots and onions, and wheat thins with horseradish hummus.

Me (Jess)- Curried spaghetti squash, and a layered Kit Kat chocolate mousse pie. Recipes below!

Curried Spaghetti Squash (from Food Network)

Curried Butternut Squash

Curried Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 3/4 pounds)

1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter

2 teaspoons finely grated ginger

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 teaspoons honey (start with 2.5 teaspoons, and add more to taste)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

Directions

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the cut-side down in a microwave-safe baking dish (the halves can overlap one another a bit) and add 1 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until very tender and a knife easily pierces the skin of the squash, 15 to 18 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Carefully uncover and let stand until cool enough to handle but still warm.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet. Add the ginger and garam masala until fragrant. Stir in the lemon juice, then pour mixture into a bowl. Add first couple of teaspoons of honey as you continue to stir, then 1 teaspoon of salt. Add remaining honey and salt to taste; the sauce should be sweet and sour.

Scrape the flesh of the squash into a bowl, using a fork, to make long noodle-like strands. Toss with the sauce and cilantro. Season with additional salt.

*note- the above should create enough sauce for a relatively flavorful dish, but I had to make a second batch of sauce to adequately saturate the amount of squash I used, so pay attention to your portion size!

Layered Kit Kat Chocolate Mousse Pie

Kit Kat Chocolate Mousse Pie

Kit Kat Chocolate Mousse Pie

Ingredients

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (I crush 15 wafers with a rolling pin inside of a Ziploc bag)

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels, divided

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided

2 teaspoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 mini Kit Kat bars

Directions

Pour wafer crumbs into 9-inch pie pan. Drizzle melted butter onto crumbs and stir gently with a wooden spoon until crumbs are evenly saturated. Pat firmly against bottom and sides of pan.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Microwave 2 cups morsels and 3/4 cup cream in large, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Cool to room temperature.

Beat remaining cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in chilled small mixer bowl until soft peaks form. GENTLY fold 2 cups of your whipped cream mixture– LITTLE BY LITTLE-  into chocolate mixture.

Next is my favorite part- the Kit Kats! You can either crush the candy bars and then put the now candy crumbs on top of the cooled crust, or you can break the Kit Kats into smaller chunks and add them as a layer that way.

On top of the Kit Kat layer, spoon mousse mixture. Gently spread so that it’s even, then refrigerate for an hour or two. Voila- delicious candy-themed mousse pie!

*When I have the time, I like to make extra whipped cream and put it in a Ziploc bag to decorate the pie- cut away the bottom corner of the bag and squirt mixture on top of pie at your aesthetic discretion!

I’ll post photos later, promise 🙂

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New Year, New Goals

Hi all!

I know I haven’t written a post of real substance in a while, so a sleepy Friday night seemed as good a time as any! Plus, I’ve been inspired recently…mostly by you guys. But I’ve been thinking a bit the last few days about an article I read last year as well.

This article was about how people go about getting or attracting all of the things they want in life, and it focused mostly on relationships- friendships, romantic partnerships, etc. It highlighted nothing surprising…and yet I walked away kind of shocked. The emphasis was on, what do *I* bring to my relationships? What do I bring to the world that I can speak to? Like I said, nothing overly surprising, but phrased in a way I guess I hadn’t thought of it. I started thinking of my days in terms of, “what am I creating? How would I be adding value to someone/something else with the things I’m doing?” Whether it means writing a blog post, volunteering at Boys and Girls Club, or going on a run (creating a better me!), I’ve been working to focus on me rather than the things I want or lack.

I have not been able to do this every day (hey, life gets in the way sometimes!), but it is part of the reason I have somewhat kept up with this blog (versus every other blog I’ve started…oops.). It’s the reason I am signing up for the Philly Half Marathon next year (hopefully I can get in!). It’s the reason I’m starting to volunteer at Boys and Girls Club…as well as Gap stores during the holidays. It’s no secret to you all that, while I love my job and my city, it’s been really difficult for me to find my footing in terms of a personal life. When so many folks move here with a group of friends already in place, I need to give new people a reason to invest their time…and that’s what I walked away from this article thinking. It did take a tough love approach, but it’s a tough love approach to making myself better, whether it does attract other people or not.

Now- you all. You guys have so inspired me to be the kind of person that this article advocates for…but in such a different way. The five of you live passionately and approach the things you do with a conviction that I often lack. You decide you want to climb a mountain, get an MBA, write a book, shove an entire choco taco in your mouth in public (I’m sorry, I had to), ride a Mardi Gras float…you guys just do it. There’s an energy that our little group brings to each of its individual relationships, and I constantly cross my fingers that I have been able to take that energy with me as well.

Every day I feel compelled to bring to my own life, as well as my relationships, the ambition and humor that you guys seem to so easily. I’m muddling through finding my own way to do it in a city that always feels new- I’m sure tripping up stairs and crying over spilled milk will be involved- but I’m thinking 2014 is the year.

P.S. it seems over the course of this post that it’s taken on kind of a Thanksgiving vibe, so I’ll just say it- I love you guys, and you really are my role models. So excited to see you all in just a few weeks!

FRIDAY!

Did anyone else get a little teary-eyed after reading Linz’s post??

This really is the best time of year. It’s just when my brain needs a little bit of a recharge, and spending time with my oldest friends tends to do the trick every time.

While I don’t have any exciting travel or nostalgia-based tidbits, I can certainly give a bit of an update on my life in general-

I went on a date Tuesday with a boy I’d met over the weekend. Very nice, but I don’t think we’re looking for the same things…as in, when it comes to dating, his philosophy is “whatever happens happens.” I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I do think it’s a way of saying “I have no idea what I want.” I’m not marrying the next guy who plops down in front of me or anything but I *do* know what I want, and I am not all that tempted to bide my time dating another ambivalent NYC bachelor.

Work is great, as always. We spent the last 2 days interviewing students at one of the city’s design schools, which is incredibly rewarding, as well as draining beyond belief. I’m still exhausted after 8 hours of sleep! It does get me really excited for the program though; we will interview at 3 more schools in the coming months for a program that starts in June. So much heart and soul goes into this program- from our end and the students’- and I am just honored to be a part of it. It’s easy to feel jaded being in the midst of the working world, so it’s really refreshing to see how excited these kids get just to meet and have the opportunity.

Yesterday and Wednesday completely drained me, so I’m looking forward to a weekend of doing pretty much nothing. Do any of you have any exciting pre-Thanksgiving plans?

Dating in NYC

P.S. You all should read this article; it highlights- to a T- everything I have ever said about dating in New York City!

http://www.refinery29.com/single-women-nyc

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I don’t travel…but I Do Drink Wine!

Welp, seeing as my most exciting, most recent adventure was to Austin for Sasha’s bachelorette party (STILL one of the best trips EVER), I will pass on discussing it since half of the Super Friends were actually there.

That said, I *am* doing something kind of travel-related- I am starting a wine blog with two of my coworkers! It is travel-related because yummy wines come from fun far-off lands. Totally the same thing.

I’ll be heading up the partnerships/tech-research piece- how do we acquire followers, advertisers, interested parties, etc. from Twitter, other blogs (AHEM.), Facebook, tumblr, Pinterest, what have you. I’m super excited! We’ll be including a lot of experiential commentary, which is really what we hope to focus on most…other than the wine itself, of course. I want to add in food pairings for some of them, but you know me and my love of food. Mostly meat. Which I save for last (for those of you who read this and are not one of the original Super Friends, please reference comments under Lindsay’s last post).

Speaking of food- I did make some delicious stuff last week! Most notably, kale chips.

For those of you who have never created homemade kale chips, they are the stuff of DREAMS. Drizzle baking pan with olive oil (seriously, you guys- a drizzle is more than enough! These things become super greasy super quickly.), cover with 1 inch tears of kale. Spread kale evenly; do not double layer. Drizzle (!!!) with more olive oil, and sprinkle with crushed black pepper and sea salt.

Bake in oven on 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (check on them after 10). Take out and lay on a double layer of paper towels; when cool, you can store in tupperware.

I definitely housed what was left of mine last night in a fit of salt craving. So good. I’ve also crumbled them on top of salad before as a healthier substitute for croutons, and they definitely do the trick!

So, in other Jessie news (outside of kale and wine), it’s been an INSANE week. Between big Super Friends news (I’ll leave that one to Abs), 12 hour work days, and my friend Megan telling me she’s 3 months pregnant, I don’t think I’ve been able to slow down for more than a second. I think the most exciting thing- other than those listed- is that I can’t find my iPad in a post-move world. Not really exciting so much as quite upsetting, actually. But whatever.

How are your weeks?!

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