Apple Maple Holiday Cocktail

Good morning, friends! You’re probably just starting your day with a steaming cup of something warm and energizing as you begin your Friday morning, but today I’ve got you covered with an evening drink that will help you sail into the weekend and give you some ideas for a simple, yet delicious cocktail to serve at various holiday gatherings. This Apple Maple Holiday cocktail tastes festive, looks beautiful, and warms from the inside out. TGIF!

Holiday Maple Cocktail-2

You’ll Need:

  • 1.5 oz Laird’s Applejack
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz apple cider
  • .5 oz pure maple syrup (or a little less if you prefer less sweetness)

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes and add all ingredients; shake well.
Using a thick piece of lemon rind, rub the inside of a martini glass to release the oils of the lemon.
Leave the rind in and strain drink into glass.

Apple Maple Holiday Cocktail

CHEERS! Have a beautiful weekend!

Coffee Break

Happy hump day! This week is a craze of finishing up Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, seeing friends before the holidays, and balancing it all with work and other responsibilities. It’s a busy season!

So, I invite you to join me for a little coffee break and a couple of good reads from around the interwebs.

coffeebreak

  1. This is apparently the best health tool we’re NOT using. It’s actually one of my favorites and even though my gym does offer it in several different forms, I don’t use it often enough.
  2. The holidays are synonymous with sugar-loaded treats. Luckily, this one will fulfill cravings AND keep the fat and sugar to a minimum. Definitely making these this week!
  3. Visiting NYC this holiday season? Here are 10 awesome things you can do. I’m excited to try #4!
  4. Do you spend way too much time deciding which movie to watch on Netflix only to realize you’re out of time to watch it? Time to stop procrastinating because these movies are on their way out in January. Guess now would be a good time to catch You’ve Got Mail.
  5. I’m pretty terrible at planning posts way ahead of time. Hopefully, this handy organizer will help!
  6. There are 15 days left until 2015. Here are 30 things to let go of before the new year begins.

Have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you on Friday with a delicious holiday cocktail recipe!

Do You Have Imposter Syndrome?

A couple of weeks ago I was catching up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and the conversation turned to a topic that I find myself most frequently discussing these days: career goals. I like talking to others about how they navigate the job world because it serves as inspiration for my own decisions as I figure out exactly where I want to take my career. It’s also likely that I am subconsciously measuring myself up to other people my age. This sounds kind of unhealthy, but it isn’t about competition. It’s about a little something called Imposter syndrome, an unfortunate condition that many of us have experienced at one time or another.

Imposter syndrome, most simply put, is “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to see their own accomplishments, dismissing them as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

impostersyndromeFor as long as I can remember and all the way to today, I am always convinced that I am an expert at nothing and in times when I’ve been granted an opportunity, I was sure that the person entrusting me with it didn’t realize just how little of an expert I am, or I concluded that it must have been given to me because there were no other options. I’ve convinced myself time and time again that any idea I have can’t possibly be a good one, and I’ve passed up jobs and various other opportunities because I couldn’t bear the thought of someone realizing that I am, indeed, a fraud.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when I was researching actual famous imposters at a former job, that I came across an article about Imposter syndrome. That made me think back to all the times I’d been convinced of my inability to accomplish something in an above average way, and I realized that I, and so many others, suffer from this phenomenon.

In college, a professor in a design class told me that I need to allow myself to think outside the box. That really got me thinking because it was true – I was afraid to walk into class with a design that was too out there, too weird, or too anything that wasn’t just plain average. I settled for a lower grade on multiple projects and was sure that I just wasn’t a designer by nature and that “thinking outside the box” was impossible. I never did reach what my professor felt was my true potential in that class, but I walked away with a B and his statement, which I often think back to.

Many of us have an innate need to be everything to everyone, all the time. We hate to think that someone might not like us or find us ordinary, so we try to suit everyone. But that’s just not possible. Inevitably, there are times when we feel we can’t do something because we actually don’t have that much experience with it, and that’s okay. But, what about the times when we are as good as someone thinks we are?

To be honest, I’m still learning to just accept compliments when I receive them, work on the things I want to improve at, and not over-analyze everything. I often feel like a fraud, and despite knowing that it has held me back from being the best I can be (or at least trying), I continue to think this way. Upon closer observation, Imposter syndrome actually helps us confirm that which we are afraid of: incompetence. This negative thinking does actually get me down and I end up performing worse, thus confirming my fears, which in my head registers as a confirmation that I was right all along and that I was never capable to begin with. It’s a vicious cycle.

When I told my friend about all this, she was surprised and told me that she sees me as a pretty accomplished person with a clear path, and that she feels like she has no idea where’s she’s headed and how to get there because of how mediocre her experience is. Naturally, this is not my perception of her at all, because I see her as a successful, capable person who seems to make all the right decisions and find the best growth opportunities in her field.

So what are we going to do about this?

Slowly but surely, I have been working on getting rid of this ridiculous notion that I’m not actually a professional in my field, and sitting down to think about what my goals are and how I’m going to achieve them. When I have a clearer idea of what I want to accomplish, I can plan out the steps that are necessary to get there, rather than focus on time-wasters that will only delay me and fill my mind with the negative thinking that never gets us anywhere.

Accept that you’re pretty darn good at certain things, can learn the ones you want to be good at, and that being good at everything is not only impossible, but not necessary.

I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences with this, so please do share in the comments. :)

Red Berry Smoothie

It is officially winter outside. The days of scarves, sweaters, foliage, and pumpkin spice lattes are all but a memory, and the red cups full of (sugar-laden) peppermint syrups are in. With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s tough to say no to the sweet treats that tempt us at every turn, let alone put work into finding better alternatives that taste good.

The good news is that smoothies are always in, and the red berry smoothie I have for you today will fulfill your cravings, won’t have you crashing by midday, and is a breeze to whip up.

Red Berry Smoothie-1

I love smoothies so much because there’s a ton you can do with them, and at any given time there are at least two ingredients in everyone’s fridge that could be turned into a smoothie. My personal favorites are the ones that taste creamy and delicious and don’t require more than five minutes of my time.

Recently, I’ve added a new ingredient into my smoothie making repertoire: cherries.

Cherries, besides adding a delicious twist and helping to balance out the tartness of the Greek yogurt in this particular recipe, also have numerous health benefits. They have tons of antioxidants, which are super useful at a time when everyone around us is sneezing, will soothe your sore muscles after an especially difficult workout, will help keep your blood pressure stabilized, and might even help you sleep more soundly at night.

As far as I see it, there really are no excuses.

You Need:

  • 3/4 cup of fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp honey, or more to taste

Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy, like a milkshake.

Also, as a side note, does anyone ever follow recipes when making smoothies? I don’t think I ever have, other than for testing purposes. It just tastes better when you throw it all in!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Healthy NYC -> Candle 79

Way back when, I started a little series called “Healthy NYC,” where I planned to chronicle the healthy eats available in New York. It’s been a while, but today I’m back with a review of Candle 79, the favorite restaurant of many people, vegan and otherwise.

It is true, Candle 79 is all vegan. It’s practically down the street from me and after living in the neighborhood for two years, I only just ventured in there last night. And I’m so glad I did!

The menu is incredibly inventive, creative, and original, and while I don’t completely agree with the opinion that “you can’t even tell it’s vegan” expressed by many, I will say that even though I did – it really didn’t matter. The dishes are well seasoned and interesting, and the selection is so big that we got a little excited with the ordering and left with a doggie bag.

We tried their famous polenta fries, which were large and delicious, their soup special – which was a heavenly tomato, lentil, guacamole concoction, the angel nachos, the grilled kale salad, and a chipotle seitan dish (another special). All the wines they serve are either sustainable or biodynamic, and we paired our meal with a glass of Malbec and Syrah. They also offer original cocktails, which looked amazing, as well as tons of juices and smoothies. Unfortunately, we didn’t save room for dessert.

Here’s a sample of the menu:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.40.30 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.40.52 AM

While the place isn’t cheap and does require a reservation, I highly recommend it if you visit NYC and want not just a great meal, but also an experience. We sort of felt like we were doing a tasting menu with all that we ordered, and it was completely worth it, especially since we’re set for lunch today!

The deets:

154 East 79th Street, at Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10021

http://www.candle79.com/

What are some of your favorite healthy restaurants where you live? I love to eat and travel!

Thanksgiving Eve

Hello, my friends! It is Thanksgiving eve, and what better way to ring in the impending food coma than with a little bit of reflection on the things I’m so very thankful for this year.

Thanksgiving-2

Thanksgiving, for me, is just simply a time to slow down, break some bread with various family and friends, and enjoy the warmth and comfort of waking up to a day off, cozying up on the couch with a steaming cup of delicious coffee, and watching the parade on TV in my pajamas.

This year, and every year, I’m grateful to be surrounded by many incredible people who are there for me unconditionally, a job that offers me the flexibility to make creative decisions and pursue additional interests (like this blog!), and, of course, this blog and the people reading it! Thanks to all of you!

Have an amazing Thanksgiving, everyone!

5 Tips For Working From Home

I’ve been working from home for over a year now and the commute from my couch to the desk often gets me thinking about the things I need to do to stay on track and actually get work done, rather than spend the day watching Netflix and raiding the refrigerator.

Don’t get me wrong – I do find myself doing just that more often than I’d like to admit, but on my best, most productive days, I’ve found what works for me. It’s so easy to take an extended lunch break and get distracted with social media when there’s nobody standing over you to make sure you’re getting things done. It’s very easy to go stir crazy and become  starved for human interaction when you are your own boss, coworker, and employee. Here are 5 tips that work for me when I need to break the cycle of procrastination that results from weeks of working from home:

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

  1. Relax. Yep, you read that right. The first step is to NOT do work when you wake up in the morning. Everyone is different, but for me, waking up only to immediately get to work is hard to swallow. I want to relax, watch a show, read a book, drink my coffee and enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then start my day happy and not rushed. I wake up earlier and do these things, so that by the time I start my actual work, I feel like I’ve also worked on taking care of myself.
  2. Organize. At the end of each work day, make a to-do list for the following morning and stick to it. Plan ahead which tasks you’ll do during which hours (and how long you anticipate them to take), and you’ll be more inclined to actually get them done. It’s also important to keep hours – it serves as a reminder that you’re still at work and gives you an end time. One of the toughest things about working from home is never leaving the office. Though I am guilty of that myself, it feels like I’m doing too much and not enough all at once when I do.
  3. Tidy up. This is a common piece of advice, but it bears repeating because you can’t sort the thoughts in your brain if you can’t sort through the crap in your workspace. Keep things neat and where you can find them, and going from task to task will be that much easier.
  4. Take breaks. Sometimes I stare at the computer for so long that when I finally snap back to life I realize that my vision is blurry, my back is slouched, and my muscles have contracted. If you’re in the zone and don’t want to stop, try to wiggle your toes and stretch in your chair until you can take a break. Keep a drink next to you so you stay hydrated and comfortable, and try to set an alarm for 5 minute breaks. I’ve started to use this time for squats, planks, and one-song dance breaks, which are much more motivating when I need to get back to work than snacks.
  5. Tackle small tasks. Finally, use times when you can simply can’t be productive for small tasks, such as answering and sending emails, organizing your calendar, or any other little thing that is of lesser importance but hangs over you daily. I have an issue answering emails right away for some odd reason, but when I fight the urge to delay, I feel like I’ve taken care of the small things that are bound to be forgotten, which works as a chain reaction and encourages me to continue working on my bigger projects.

As a small addition, I’d like to share a sixth tip that I recently adopted after reading an article called “Twice, Then Quit.” I love that this idea can be applied to any facet of work and life; if you have the urge to go on Facebook, resist it. Then resist it a second time. If you find that you simply cannot concentrate until you take the break, give in. I’ve applied this to my own social media and useless email checking tendencies and have found that it works like a charm. Chances are, it’s more habit then necessity that is making you feel like you absolutely must check social media, and once you allow yourself to stick to the task at hand, you probably won’t want to stop.

Working from home, while a blessing in so many ways, can also be very difficult. It’s not easy to resist taking half the day off, surfing the internet, and just giving up when there’s nobody there to tell us no. I often experience stir-craziness, cabin fever, and restlessness, so I’m always looking for ways to stay on track and be productive.

For those of you that also work from home, what have you found to be effective tools for staying focused? Please share!

A Weekend in Boston

Boston is hands down my favorite city. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s due to the same kind of chemistry that we experience with our favorite people. When I’m in Boston (or almost anywhere in New England for that matter), everything feels right with the world.

Recently, several of my friends moved there, and this weekend we went to visit one of them to ogle at his apartment (which can fit about 7 of our NYC apartments into it with some extra space left over), explore the city by foot, and eat at some really tasty restaurants.

We started on Friday evening with dinner at Steel & Rye, a trendy restaurant in Milton, MA. They serve cocktails, which were quite good, and new American cuisine, in a cozy atmosphere that was perfect for a few hours of catching up.

Saturday began with a trip to the Museum of Fine Art, and we spent a couple of hours checking out several galleries. The tickets are pretty pricey if you’re not a member ($25/person), but it turns out it’s worth it. Besides the usual art that you might expect, there are tons of galleries featuring interesting and often hilarious modern art, videos and new media, and the best gift shop/book store I’ve ever encountered at a museum. The galleries are laid out in such a way that visitors aren’t overwhelmed after several hours of browsing, and there are plenty of spots to relax (including on some of the art), and interesting things to see everywhere you go.

For lunch, we walked the 40 or so minutes to Chinatown, via the residential part of the Back Bay, and had some amazing dim sum at the Winsor Cafe. It’s a very no frills spot, and you’ll likely have to share a table, but the delicious food is worth it and will cost you practically nothing. Afterwards, take your pick of bubble tea places and wash everything down with some black milk tea.

After lunch, we continued our Boston trek into the North End, the Italian section of town. It’s known for its many adorable restaurants and bakeries, as well as the Old North Church and statue of Paul Revere. This is an area that should not be missed. It’s always happening, and there’s tons of history and cute little side streets to last you a couple of hours. We were hoping for a cannoli from the famous Mike’s Pastry, but the line was far out the door and it was way too chilly to stand in just for dessert. I do recommend it though!

Luckily, Boston is a pretty small city and can be explored by foot if you have the time and desire. From the North End, we walked to the Boston Common and the Public Garden and then through Newbury Street, the gorgeous strip that is home to Boston’s best shops and boutiques, and plenty of restaurants and cafes. I call this the Madison Avenue of Boston, and it is definitely one of my favorite areas.

Newbury Street will lead you back to the Back Bay, where you’ll find the Prudential Center – the tallest skyscraper in Boston and home to the Top of the Hub, a restaurant and bar on the 52nd floor. We had dinner reservations elsewhere, but we stopped here for a pre-dinner cocktail. Though you won’t get a window seat if you go for drinks only, you’ll easily be able to catch the view. The cocktails were surprisingly delicious and the cost (~$12) was way lower than I expected. You may have to wait downstairs for a while as they do fill up, but the visit is worth it and they have excellent crowd control, so you won’t be squished between tons of people fighting for a glance out the window.

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

We ended the evening with an incredible tasting menu at Asta. You’ll need reservations relatively far in advance for this one (we were on a waiting list and got a call that afternoon because there had been a cancellation) but the experience is well worth it. We added the wine pairing onto the tasting and loved every single one. I’ll share a couple of my favorite picks in a later post!

On Sunday, we woke up and headed to the Seaport for a tasting at the Harpoon Brewery. You can opt for a tour (highly recommended if you’re a beer fan) or just order a flight and relax and chat with the friendly bartenders. It’s an airy space with tons of tables and seats at the bar, so it’s perfect for a laid back Sunday morning!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

After our beer tasting, we realized that the dim sum from the previous day had made a little too much of an impression on us, so we went back to Chinatown for more at Gourmet Dumpling House. Just as good, just as cheap.

Afterwards, we strolled around the beautiful Beacon Hill neighborhood, which is a combination of dream homes and blocks of coffee shops and boutiques. We grabbed some coffee at a local cafe to warm up, and continued walking until we were by the Charles River. Despite the cold and cloudy day, there were lots of joggers out and the water was sparkling with the light of an early winter sunset.

Boston-5

And that’s 48 hours in Boston! We headed back towards the center of the city and over to South Station to catch our Amtrak back to NYC, clocking in at about 12 miles of walking over the course of two days. If walking isn’t for you, the subway is easy to navigate and will take you anywhere you need to go.

All in all, it was a great weekend!

Let’s Catch Up

Hello, friends! It’s been quite a while since we sat down and chatted, hasn’t it? A lot has been going on around these parts, so let’s catch up!

  1. The thing that’s been dominating my thoughts lately is our move to New Hampshire! It’s been in the works for almost two years now and after some serious decision-making and lots of planning, we will finally be New Englanders this coming April! I am beyond excited to finally be where I feel I belong.

christmascookies

  1. I’m getting pretty riled up for the holidays. It’s just such a festive and cozy time and I love envisioning fireplaces, warm mugs of tasty drinks, happy people, and heartfelt Christmas movies. Sometimes it can also be stressful, and this year I plan to avoid that by not losing sight of my workout goals or eating habits, and preparing all my gifts early. :) I’ve already started thinking about everyone on my Christmas list because this year, I really, really hope not to be shopping on Christmas eve. (I totally said that last year)
  1. This weekend, we’re headed to Boston! It’s one of my favorite cities (see #1) and I haven’t been there in a couple of years. I’m excited to see some friends, try a couple of great restaurants, and enjoy a cocktail on top of the Prudential Center. Now let’s just hope the polar vortex expected on the east coast will come after we leave.

boston

  1. I FINALLY finished reading Gone Girl. What an incredibly well written story. Do you ever get so emotionally attached to a good book that you feel like a chapter of your own life has ended when you finish it? What else should I put on my reading list for this winter?
  1. I am currently addicted to this. I’m not necessarily raving about the benefits of Kombucha just yet, but I do love the taste and variety, and hey, tea and probiotics can’t hurt. I’ll get back to you on whether or not it’s a magical elixir at a later date. ;) For now, it’s a nice, low sugar option to enjoy with lunch or dinner.

Kombucha

  1. I’m fantasizing about a brief escape from the cold this coming year with a mini-vacation to somewhere warm, like Costa Rica. Most of us hate those post-holiday months of January, February, and March that seem to exist only for cold, short, and depressing days. I always try to fill them with weekend getaways and get-togethers with friends to help pass the dreary evenings, but it sure would be sweet to spend a couple of days on a warm beach.

costarica

And that’s about all the updates I have for you! Tell me what’s new with you.

The Life Of An Aspiring Lawyer

I’m really excited for this first post in a new series featuring people who are still on the road to achieving their goals (you can read all about it here). Today, my friend Marina is here to answer a couple of questions about her career journey. She recently graduated from law school, passed the bar exam, and is currently in that lovely stage we all have to deal with at one point or another: the job search. Check out what she had to say about being an aspiring lawyer:

marinashubName: Marina
Age: 25
Career path: Law

  1. When did you first become interested in law as a potential career?

Freshman year of college, I took a course on immigration law in the United States. The course itself was pretty dry; we learned about visas and immigration procedures. However, we did on occasion discuss immigration policy and immigration reform which was very interesting and made me want to learn more. I felt that by becoming an immigration advocate, I could make a positive change in our immigration system.

  1. What do you love about this field?

There are two things that I love about the field:

  • The mental challenge: working as a lawyer is like solving puzzles. The law is constantly changing and the job of the lawyer is to make that law malleable and work in your favor.
  • The knowledge and ability to help others.
  1. Did you have any work/volunteer/internship experiences that have been instrumental in helping you achieve your goals? How did you find these opportunities?

Right now I am volunteering at a legal services non-profit and working on a variety of projects for a small law firm. I have been continuously looking for new opportunities and networking. In order to achieve my goals, I think I need to reach out to more members of the legal community.

In the past, I have worked for a non-profit, the government, large and small law firms and a private company. These experiences exposed me to the legal field and showed me what it means to be a lawyer.

  1. Have you had to make any compromises in order to stay on track?

Truthfully, I feel like I’m “off track” more often than I am “on track.” But otherwise, I think I did make some sacrifices: I avoided getting into romantic relationships during times when I really had to study (first year of law school, during finals my second & third year). I didn’t go out as often and I couldn’t devote as much attention to ballroom dance as I wanted to.

  1. What have you found to be the most helpful resource(s) as you work your way up?

Talking to my colleagues and staying away from my colleagues. The people that you work with and study with are some of the best resources for the future. You can discuss your troubles, sympathize, complain, ask questions, get advice, and learn from others’ mistakes and achievements. But I also found that you shouldn’t immerse yourself in that environment; colleagues can give bad advice, stress you out and bring you down. Only you know what you want, so it’s important to take all advice with a grain of salt.

  1. What is the most useful piece of advice someone has given you?

I have two pieces of advice that I found to be useful. One was given to me by someone the day before I had 20 on-campus-interviews with major international law firms: “there’s no reason to be stressed; you’re going to end up doing what you are meant to do. If you don’t make it tomorrow, that means that that is not the right path for you. The most you can do is try your best. This is an opportunity, have fun with it.”

Another one was something I read on a law school forum written by another student: “First of all, it’s just physics that if you ever want something, there will be stress about it. Having goals means that you aren’t what you want to be right now. That’s uncomfortable.”

I interpreted this as, anybody who wants something is stressed about it, it’s just nature.

  1. What advice do you have for someone considering a career in law?

Since I don’t have a career in law yet I don’t think I’m qualified to give this advice. But for people who are considering law school, they should first think about why they want to do it. Then they should think about the reality: most law students graduate $150,000 in debt and only about 50% of them find employment in the legal field within a year. Only 10% find a job that pays a traditional “lawyer” salary.

  1. What are your other passions and interests?

Ballroom dance, Photoshop, reddit, reading about interesting research in psychology and nutrition. Helping others build their resumes and cover letters.

  1. Talk about a time when you’ve felt like giving up or switching career paths. What made you decide to stick with it?

Don’t have an answer since I’m only sticking with it because I have no other choice.

  1. What is your dream job?

    I have a few: working for an immigration law firm, working in-house at an innovative company, or having my own practice.
  1. How do you stay motivated?

I talk to others and find out about their journey: what keeps them going or what’s keeping them back. Knowing that others are fighting the good fight makes me want to be part of the battle.

  1. Anything else you’d like to share?

I think that people who are trying to achieve their goals and haven’t reached them yet are bound to have bad days. It’s important to know that. Sometimes things just suck, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you failed. That’s how I see my journey at the moment.

Thanks, Marina! Feel free to leave questions for her, and comments, feedback and suggestions for me as I seek out the next great candidate for the series!