Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A raw macadamia cacao & coco tart to toast to changes


There were pancakes and apparently there will also be this.

And just like those decadent pancakes were fit for a Tuesday morning, this tart is manna for a random weekday afternoon.

But first I should probably explain why both of these are possible.

Remember that trip we went on? And then, that rough first day back? Well, turns out lots of things manifest when you write them down, not just cacao hotels in the Caribbean. If you've been popping by here for any amount of time, you know that I'm a little unsettled on the work side of things, that I'm still trying to shape that portion of my life, trying to figure out how to marry corporate J and crafty J, negotiating J and nesting J.

I'm a little less unsettled now, though, since on that first day back from St. Lucia I got a swift kick in the tush when I was laid off.

But it's okay! It's happened to me before—moving back to NYC when the economy is about to go to hell and providing a service that clients generally see as an "extra" doesn't make for rock-solid job security. This is actually the third time I've lost my job in the last six years, so I know what to do. I saw it coming, actually, as work had slowed way down, but I thought it would pick up again in the fall. Turns out, not so much.

While Day One found me a little shell-shocked, by Day Three my ex-colleagues / now-friends had come to my help armed with contacts, leads, and support and within a few days I already had some (really!) exciting freelance projects lined up to tackle on my own.

Now despite me really enjoying my old office and office mates (and office location for that matter—Soho really is the best neighborhood when it comes to excellent post-lunch strolling and after-work dining!), I have to say, I do not mind at all that I no longer have to be in the same place from 10AM-6:30PM every weekday. Rather than huffing my way into an office Monday to Friday at the same time, for the same amount of hours, I decided to be the boss of me and work when I want, where I want and how I want by finding projects to do on contract, versus joining another firm full-time.

It really makes the most sense given our general state of having absolutely no clue where we'll be next year and my own personality / work style. I was the third grader asking for homework on the first day of school because the thought of sitting at my little desk between my bedroom windows to complete an assignment in the peace and quiet of my girlish room made me giddy. The seven-year old that sat for hours by herself, hidden behind one of the couches in the formal living room, drawing maps of my dream farm on poster board, complete with the precise eastward-situation of the farmhouse and the complementarily-situated animal paddocks, hen house, and orchards with lengthy lists of the species for each area thanks to our set of burgundy Encyclopedias with gilded letters on the spines.

My father must have had stock in those marble composition books from Mead, because my brother and I were never without one...or three. On the first day of summer, if not sooner, I had my official Summer Schedule drafted, redrafted, and finalized on the first page of a new one, with salient points like, wake up at 7, walk dog at 7:15, make breakfast at 7:45, off to swim practice at 9, home for lunch at noon, studious reading (e.g., Dale Carnegie or Word Perfect texts) or Spanish Muzzy video watching at 1, reading for fun at 3, walk the dog at 4, go for a bike ride to the library or to see friends at 5, do laundry or help with dinner at 7, family time until 9, and then another dog walk.

It's not at all surprising that I live for routines, for the order of things. It's partly that I like to have control, but another part of me also likes the anticipation, the lead-up. Its why as soon as dinner is cleared and the kitchen is clean and we settle down to read or watch something (or knit) in the den that I'll glance at the clock and formally announce that we'll have tea and dessert in thirty minutes. Why I keep endlessly detailed appointments and to-do's in my Google calendar. For the anticipation and the archive. I want to know where I'm going to have brunch with friends next week and where I had dinner that one spring eve with that one friend four years ago.

So to say I'm excited about the idea of creating my own freelancer schedule and working mostly independently is putting it absurdly mildly.

I still get up early, but rather than rushing around to fit in a nice ease into the day, my workout, getting cleaned up and housekeeping odds and ends before rushing off to the subway or up the street for the walk in, I can linger over that cup of coffee and bout of knitting for a bit before settling down at the computer. Or, I can head out to work in a new location every day (stay tuned for some of my favorite laptop-friendly places around the city). I can make nice breakfasts and full-on dinners more often than just the weekend. I can be more productive because I can work my way—head down, fast and furiously, with no distractions.

Aside from my elation at this newly-untethered situation, I'm still a bit scared. It's a lot to balance, this unknown about where we live now, if we're moving abroad soon, and if I'll have projects to work on after this one (by the way, this first one is with a start-up, so it'll involve me working in their office more than I will remotely, which isn't what I wanted, but, it's worth the compromise to work on the type of project that I had hoped for (experiential branding), for some international travel to a really good place, and for some European connections given the way the team is set up for this project). But, given where we are with our timeline right now, it might actually come together perfectly.

For now, I'm focusing on the freeing part of my new arrangement. The ability to choose projects that interest me, the ability to better balance work and life, and the ability to perhaps be in a better situation if and when we move (by which I mean, making connections now that will help on the work and potentially social front later).

All of which make me think that this is definitely something to celebrate. In honor of that shocking, yet mostly-welcome change, make this tart and have yourself a hefty helping!

+ + +


This was inspired by two Angelas: Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows and her No Bake Elvis Bars for the crust and Angela Gallardo of Bare Root and her Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Fresh Strawberries for the filling. Here's how I combined pieces from each of them to make my own dessert:

// Raw macadamia cacao & coco tart
Makes one 9-inch tart

crust:
1 1/2 cups whole, raw macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cashew butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste

filling:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

+ Crush the macadamia nuts to a nice crumble in a food processor, then add the rest of the crust ingredients. I sprinkled in a little water at the end, too, to make it all come together.

+ Press the crumble crust mix into the bottom of a cake/pie pan, keeping it as even across as possible, then place the pan into the freezer to set.

+ Meanwhile, blend the filling ingredients together–if you layer them in the order above, you won't have cacao powder flying everywhere. Once it's nice and mousse-y, smooth it over the chilled crust and place the whole shebang in the fridge to set.

+ Cut yourself a generous triangle and enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Welcome!


Hello, hello!

Looks like you made it over from *sparklingly! Come on in and have yourself a cocktail.

It's still me, but with a fresh new URL. Everything's about the same, just in a new place and with a very slightly tweaked look. I did update my About, though, if you'd care to have a gander.

More to come soon...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A wee shuffle

Change of address on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
I thought I would refresh this whole space once I left NYC, but I've gotten a little antsy and my impatience got the best of me. With the weather cooling down, changes elsewhere (more on that soon), and a general feeling of blahness with *sparklingly, I wanted to make a move sooner rather than later, even if it means a fairly subtle one, given my lack of design/HTML coding skills.

But first I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to call this new place. Since my day job involves similar queries (what space can this "brand" own? why would anyone care about it? what's its reason for being?), I employed similar strategies to figure this out—I asked a few people what they think I write about and why they like reading and there was definitely a clear thread:

J/*sparklingly = a place filled with homemaking, simple pleasures, balancing city and country, how to indulge graciously and elegantly, tweaks for a gentler life, real/whole foods and living, plus a little snark. Which to me all mostly boiled down to my favorite thing to do ever:

Feather my nest.

I love making something prettier, cozier, homier and more welcoming. Whether it's my apartment, a hotel room when I'm traveling for work, my desk when I'm working at a client site for the day or even an hour, or a little nook at a cafe nearby for a weekend coffee. My thinking is consumed by ideas of how to make my surroundings sweeter, softer, more sacred—which goes for my physical surroundings as well as my physical self.

Thus was born a feathery nest.

But of course I'm still shy and prone to anonymity, so I needed another little handle to sign off with and use on Instagram and things. I created a rationale for *sparklingly before, but it really annoys me now, so a new one had to be made. This time, though, I decided to just use a nickname I already have (General J / Gen J / il Generale) thanks to my particular, some-say-bossy, ways, plus a little finessing to make it better encapsulate me (and my puritanical, modest, hostessing ways), hence ladygenj.

Everything will switch over later today / tomorrow, but just in case my ability to understand complicated code is less stellar than I imagine it to be, I'm posting this last post here on *sparklingly with a breadcrumb trail so you can still find me after today if your feeds and things don't automatically update:

site
http://www.afeatherynest.blogspot.com

feeds
RSS
Atom

readers
Feedly
Feedspot
Bloglovin'

I've also switched my social media accounts over to my new handle, so if you follow me on those, you'll notice my shares under a new name.

Hope to see you on the other side!

Xx,
J.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Autumnal oil concoction

Autumnal oil concotion on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
For the transition from Summer to Autumn, and before I need to turn completely to the spiced yumminess of my Winter Oil Concoction, how about one to ease us in to this frostier time of year?

The cool weather we're experiencing in NYC now means gloves and an easier subway ride for germophobes like me—so nice to not play the balancing game I do to avoid touching anything in the subway during the nasty, muggy hotness of the city from April to September.

I mixed up a batch of this Autumnal Oil last weekend, trying a few new blends together, and applied liberally before heading uptown to meet friends for brunch and a stroll to see one of the gal's new apartment on the Upper West Side. As we walked off our massive (and delicious) meal I kept getting a whiff of something mysterious and toasty, but I chalked it up to the lightly-spiced nip in the air. Imagine my delight when I realized it was actually me!

But before I share, I have to tell you how nice it is to rediscover something charming close to home. I always wrote the UWS of the city off, but meandering around its brick townhouses with honest-to-goodness front "yards" (okay, stoops), with gardens and harvest bounty displays, and peeking through windows to see fireplaces and chandeliers and bannisters wrapping around and around was so foreign and homey and intriguing, all at the same time. And now that I have a friend living on the top floor of one of those townhouses (complete with mahogany wood paneling, window boxes, a skylight and a view over the sidewalks where children are skipping), I'm sure I'll indulge in its neighborhoody goodness a bit more.

Autumnal oil concoction: lovely as an after-shower moisturizer, face wash, perfume, and/or massage oil
+    1 1/2 cups of coconut oil (or your favorite carrier oil)
+  20 drops vanilla for warmth, comfort and fresh-out-of-the-oven coziness
+  15 drops germ-fighting/thieves (lemon, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary) for spicy cleansing
+  10 drops orange for zest and freshness

Melt together and store in a glass container.

P.S. Previous oil concoctions: Winter and Lullaby
P.P.S. My essential oils are all from Plant Therapy—love their quality and value!
P.P.P.S. Why I use coconut oil and how I use it

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumnal things: walks and more knits

I know it's been a bit quiet over here. Everything's okay—just working through a few things. But, I haven't been too busy to enjoy my favorite season of the year. I'm practically giddy with the weather right now. Well, the theoretical weather. The leaves have changed colors and fallen a bit in some places, but the temperatures keep fluctuating between mid-50's and low 70's. No matter, though, because the air smells fall'ish and the foliage looks it, so I'm happy!

Last week R and I explored the nether regions of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, a place I'd only skirted around the edges of after brunch in Caroll Gardens. Turns out, if you wend your way deeper toward the southeastern borders, there are wooded paths, lakes and ducks and swans swimming in formation.

Like the North Woods of Central Park, the Ravine section of Prospect Park has lots of opportunities for "off roading". Meandering through woodsy paths, hopping over fallen trees, kicking through piles of fiery leaves. Nothing makes me happier than stomping through the underbrush and taking huge gulps of air in before whoooshing them out. I'm like a child with a rain puddle.

I've also been reserving pockets of time for my ever-calming knitting habit. The last few things I've finished are another Purl Soho Pebble Tank (same as this one, but more flowy/loose-fitting), a few more knit goodies for "Dante", including a matching set of mittens and booties and another hat, plus a little coffee/cell phone doily from leftover yarn. I hate to have scraps hanging about, so I used the very last bits of coral cotton from my myriad of napkins to crochet something Downton Abbey'esque (albeit much more colorful) to rest my coffee cup and saucer or phone on while typing away on my computer at the dining table.

After all that crafting for the baby and selfish knitting for myself, R finally insisted that I make something for him again. He has a whole drawer full of socks, scarves, ties, and pocket squares, but now I'm (gulp) starting a full on sweater for him with a fancy collar and stitch pattern. The biggest, (he's 6'4"), thus scariest thing I've tried so far. I've already started and re-started a few times, so you might not see any pics of it until next year.

Hopefully will be back soon with some updates for you on that, though, and things in general. Until then, get outside (if you're in the same hemisphere) and breathe in some smoky, spicy fall air! I also highly recommend crunching through a few piles of leaves—it does wonders for a stormy soul.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The international travel essential we forgot

Funny story for you. Remember that time R became an American? And then we left the country 3 weeks later? And remember how long it takes to get a passport (hint: about 6 weeks)?

Yep, we had a bit of a situation on our hands.

After a massive freak out (right on the heels of that morning's sprint), I ended up staying late at the office to see how the heck we forgot to account for this timing snafu. What happened was, we were told of the oath ceremony date 3 weeks ahead, and sometime between getting that notification and the day of the oath, we booked our St. Lucia trip. What we hadn't considered is that when you get your Certificate of Naturalization, you surrender your Green Card. Meaning that the only proof R had of his new status was a piece of paper. A piece of paper that must be handed over when you apply for your passport. And in doing so, he'd be essentially proof-less of his citizenship. That plus the fact that once you become a citizen it is illegal to leave or enter the US on any other passport (making his Italian and Swedish ones irrelevant), meant he couldn't leave the country.

But, praise be that we live in NYC. The land where everything can be had: pierogies at 2AM, a wedding dress tailored in an afternoon, and, most relevant to us, a passport applied for, processed and returned in a day (!). After some Googling and Yelping I found a government agency called the NY Passport Agency. Now when you think of filing bureaucratic paperwork (as sadly, I know all too well), you immediately think of the DMV and the rampant lack of efficiency, right? Well, if Yelp was to be believed, apparently this office (located conveniently near us!) not only processed SAME DAY passports with a smile, they also only charged the ridiculously low sum of $60 for this service.

If you Google "expedited passport service" you'll find a whole slew of shady internet companies that (1) cost upwards of $300; (2) tack on more fees for overnight shipping; and (3) aren't really even done overnight anyway.

So of course I was skeptical, but I sent R over there with a printout of our confirmed travel itinerary, his certificate of naturalization, a passport photo and the passport application. He got there at 12:30PM, took a number, waited less than 10 minutes, handed over his documentation, and was told that since his trip wasn't within the next 7 days, they'd mail him his passport (if it was for a same day flight they would turn it around immediately and for a flight within 7 days it's ready the next day). Regardless of timing it all cost $60.

He came home and two days later a little Express Mail envelope followed him with his beautiful new American passport and his returned Certificate of Naturalization.

Incredible service.

Which, likewise, rendered us incredibly grateful, especially given our non-refundable vacation and my non-moveable birthday!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The notion of home

The notion of home on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
Now that we're back home after the most amazing of trips, bumpy re-entry included, I've realized I'm at the point where I'm completely sick of our apartment. I've lived in it so long that its last refreshing was years ago, so the walls seem a bit crusty, the floors need refinishing, and the whole thing needs a good scrubbing. And everything about it now irritates me: the way the walls soak up cooking splatters and no amount of scrubbing seems to get rid of the telltale signs. Same goes for the bathroom walls and doors where dust combined with flying oils from my overzealous applications have created an impenetrable barrier.

Then there's the floor, a horrid parquet—I should say faux parquet—comprised of uneven pieces, meaning dust and wayward hair and fluff gets embedded around each splintery piece, making sweeping a futile exercise and walking barefoot painful. Not to mention the ear-splitting creaking that echoes every single step we take from March through November, thanks to the humidity. Speaking of humidity, it's impossible to keep the shower, especially the grout lines clean because of the dampness in the air (we're not quite at fall weather yet) and I'm so sick of cleaning so often only to have the whole place still feel dumpy.

And why is there an inch-long gap between the stove and the counter? Do you know how many crumbs and onion slivers and who knows what else have dropped into our own personal Grand Canyon? And have I mentioned our hyperactive smoke alarm? Anytime we barely sautée a bit of garlic in oil the damn thing goes off and we have to take our positions as door-waver, window-opener, frantic-pillow-beater and dish-coverer to disperse the hot air before the whole system starts spraying water every which way. You don't want to know the hysteria that ensues if God forbid one of us is alone and has to pull off all four with just two hands amidst the pelting whine.

The notion of home on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
I just want to leave everything behind and start fresh.

Somewhere with clean walls, a tiled bathroom, a functional kitchen and some outdoor space that will help us feel slightly more civilized. Most people that move abroad from NYC do so because of their jobs, so they've got sweet expat deals lined up: door-to-door shipping of all their belongings with comprehensive insurance and a safety net to handle permits and taxes and connectivity and everything else that comes with getting settled in a foreign country where one doesn't speak the language.

We two are either fools to do it all on our own, or sane to do it by our own rules. I haven't decided which one just yet.

Originally I was not to be swayed from the idea that I absolutely have to take my bedroom furniture and my dishware with us. My bedroom set was a gift from my parents on my fifteenth birthday, a beautiful blonde solid oak canopy queen bed, with matching bureau, night tables, a large mirror and a bookshelf. I added on to it with a matching stand-alone jewelry armoire secreted behind a full-length mirror when I set up my first apartment, but other than that—and aside from the removal of the lace curtains hung off the canopy rails and a few scratches on the bureau and nightstands—it's remained untouched since my largely un-angsty teenage years.

The notion of home on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
Despite its heft and size, I had it in my mind that the whole shebang is a heritage set, something that should go where I go. But, is it really worth the the effort of shipping, storing and moving? R likes it, however I don't think it would ever have been his first choice, nor mine if I had to select a set now as an adult (I think we'd both lean more towards a "modern" style and probably dark wood).

When he moved here he didn't bring anything but his clothes. I already had an apartment that was kitted out. Then we moved from a studio to a 1-bedrom and bought living room furniture together: a 10-person dining table, chairs, coffee table, accent mirror, media cabinet and new flatware. Everything else, though, I had bought when I was on my own or brought from my childhood home.

Growing up we had a breakfast nook and a dining room, the former for most meals and the latter for special ones. I had a habit of taking pictures (even before digital cameras and smartphones) of those meals, capturing my mom's table settings and both her and my dad's cooking as plates heaped with good things were brought in from the kitchen. And now when I visit, there's something quite special about eating off of the same plates I ate off of for the majority of my life.

I think that's why I was so careful to select special place settings when I was setting up my first home. I had just returned from that trip to Italy that decided the rest of my life, so the Deruta set I found that was painted in Italy but fired in Portugal, seemed the perfect blending of backgrounds. I wanted to take them with us, too, but maybe we don't.

The notion of home on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
Maybe we just pack our books, photographs, documents, laptops, jewelry and our family Christmas ornaments and we just go.

Unencumbered, with nothing weighing us down, so we can walk into a new home and make it completely ours. A fresh start, an easy move, nothing to bog us down.

Of course this is all premature thinking.

But, so far, I think I like it.

The notion of home on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com

Monday, October 7, 2013

Properly ushering autumn in

While some people may welcome Autumn with pagan rituals around a bonfire, I chose to wave my favorite season in with a leaf crunching walk and an afternoon's immersion into rich, opulent, amber-colored art. I convinced a friend she had to join me so we met at the northwest corner of Central Park for an autumnal afternoon. We started by tromping through the North Woods, making a few loops around dirt paths, scrambling up mini rock faces, and traipsing across bridges over wee waterfalls. There were loads of tiger-eye colored foliage on the ground which made for a pleasant crackly soundtrack as we walked, even though the temperature was more Indian Summer than October Fall.

By the time we emerged on the east side of the park at The Metropolitan Museum of Art we were a little out of breath and ready for the coolness of the museum's galleries. Every time I go I forget that there's absolutely no point checking out the exhibitions online beforehand, because no matter where you plan to go, you'll never get there. You just have to wander.

Which is how we came across a gorgeously recreated Venetian bedroom and loads of Egyptian gold. Refilling our tanks with seasonally-appropriate colored works of art? Check.

Then we made our way up to the museum's rooftop for the view and a chat in the sunshine, where another friend met us. People always rave about the Met's rooftop, but I found it to be just okay. Maybe because it became really hot up there and there was very little shade, and maybe because the current exhibition was a little underwhelming to me. The view, though, made up for it.

Around 5PM I went to meet R, who had just finished working, and we headed home together for a bit on foot before hopping on a bus. At that point I checked Moves, a new app on my phone that tracks your movement (walking, cycling, running or transport) with a really simple infographic and map. I had walked 10,971 steps, covering 5.9 miles in about three hours. No wonder my feet were hurting—and why as soon as I walked in the door I took a cool shower and poured myself a tumbler of my favorite gin with a splash of sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon. Excellent end to the day.

Sunday morning broke bright and gray and misty. Perfect strolling weather, made even more perfect because R finally had a weekend day off. We decided to go for a coffee walk through Tribeca to try a new'ish cafè—FIKA Tribeca Chocolate Factory. "Fika" means coffee break in Swedish and those Scandinavians are serious about their coffee and the sanctity of the twice-daily fika.

FIKA began in NYC with one post in Midtown and now there are five in the city, plus their products are sold at Whole Foods. Speaking of products, the Tribeca FIKA is one part cafè, one part a Willy Wonka-like chocolate factory that shares a glass wall with the dining side and a window onto the sidewalk so you get a nice view of chocolatey goodness being crafted.

It's also got that swanky, industrial vibe going on, with lots of light since they have a prime corner spot. But, all my happy feelings about the place and space evaporated when our bill came to $22 for two cappuccinos, a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) for R and 4 teensy chocolate truffles for me.

To be fair though, it was all delicious.

I had a hankering for some more creamy, cappuccino goodness, but didn't feel like another at FIKA, so we took a walk deeper into Tribeca to Laughing Man Coffee & Tea—a teensy to-go spot with a cozy vibe, a nice manifesto at the door, and handsome pictures of Hugh Jackman on a coffee plantation tucked onto the retail shelves. He started the place—which now has three locations downtown—so it's fitting. While I did like the clean white, unbranded to-go cup, my coffee wasn't as good as at FIKA (not quite creamy and rich enough). But, it was still nice to tote along and sip while we walked home.

We had an hour at home to relax before one of R's friends picked us up and took us to the Polish section of Greenpoint in Brooklyn to join him and his daughter at Amber Steakhouse. Amber is R's man-date restaurant of choice. He and his friends meet there often for carnivorous, wine-fueled and vodka-finished extravaganzas before going for espresso and a rum baba at Fortunato Brothers—it's their little tradition, so it's quite the thing that I finally got to inhabit their manly space.

Amber had some more of that opulent (though muted), dark-wood, Eastern European autumnal tones going on, perfectly fitting into the weekend's theme. We shared a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, and I tucked into a steak tartare to start and then a bone-in rib eye with a side of broccoli and mixed mushrooms. It was so intense and delicious and I had to take a walk around the block afterwards while the men ordered another bottle of wine.

Of course I still had room for an affogato at Fortunato's with scoops of bacio and nocciola gelato.

Seems like a fitting end to the weekend, no? I thought so, too, until we were coming over the Williamsburg bridge and the sky exploded into color. The annual Diwali festival at the South Street Seaport was just wrapping up with a firework show and we literally had a front-row seat to a 20-minute spectacle. I've never seen fireworks that colorful, intense, and filled with purply-gold, peacock-feathery wonder (better even than any July 4th display I can remember!) Hand it to the vibrant-hue obsessed Indians to have the most fantastic fireworks. And to see it all against the backdrop of the East River bridges and the antique ships docked in the port? Incredible.

{ via, but lightly edited by me }
Welcome back, Fall. I've missed you.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One year later

NYC East River Esplanade  |  One year later on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
When I first decided to start writing this wee blog here, I had no intention of ever sharing it. I just wanted a little place to keep track of what I then hoped/thought would be my last year in NYC and play around with coding (I should say "coding"). I also thought it was only fair that after so many years of listening in to others share their stories, that I reciprocated, especially when it comes to people I've been following for years.

Right now, as far as I know, no one in my family (apart from R), nor people in my life here know about my corner of the Web—two friends that live far away do, as well as all the people I've "met" through the blog world, but that's it. And my reluctance to share is not because I write anything scandalous (as you know), but just because I started quietly and to be honest, after two aborted attempts previously, I didn't think it would stick around this long. So after thinking about it for a few weeks last year, I just powered up Blogger and gave it a go.

I didn't give much thought to the context or the "lens" through which I write (as you might have guessed from the somewhat flimsy name/address I post under). But now that it's lasted this long, perhaps it's time for a little dusting? A bit of updating and re-skinning? I've got some ideas, but haven't had a chance to think them through all the way, but perhaps in a few weeks (or, months) you'll find me in a new place. A place you'd be most welcome to join me.

But, I do have one teensy favor to ask of you.

Soho - Downton NYC Skyline  |  One year later on *sparklingly  |  http://sparklingly.blogspot.com
While I'm so grateful to see the sweet gals that take the time to leave an encouraging word or funny note, I'd love, love, love if the rest of you would chime in, too. Nothing fancy or detailed, but just a hello. I can see your electronic footprints tracking here from all parts of the country, and few from other countries (!), but that's not a proper way to make one's acquaintance, now is it?

How about you leave a little "howdy" down below in the comments and maybe tell me how you found your way here if you remember and...your favorite cocktail (or, tea/coffee drink for you teetotalers).

Pretty please? It can be your birthday/anniversary gift to me.

PS. I'm going to be so mortified if y'all don't respond.
PPS. I'm hitting publish anyway. Eeeek!

One year ago: Turning the page