Living with death: Part 2.

As you may recall, when we first moved in a year ago we had an incident in which some birds decided to nest and lay eggs in our air conditioning slip. Though I was kind (especially considering how much I loathe winged things) and let the egg-laden nest stay when our maintenance guy uncovered it, it ended up biting me in the ass because some weeks after a swarm of mites cropped up in said nest and infiltrated our apartment.

We heard the birds hatch, grow, and fly away and I’d felt I’d done enough kindness towards the species to last me the rest of my life – so when those suckers started popping back up on the side of our just-installed AC unit, I had no qualms about letting them know they HAD TO GO.

For the past three mornings I’ve been hearing the skittering and fluttering of wings and could see shadows through the white duct tape that rims the part of the AC slip where the AC itself doesn’t expand to. I would bang on the AC and they’d fly away…only to come back again minutes later.

This morning, Boy came to me with a brilliant idea to keep them out, one he remembered thanks to his grandfather’s genius. After a brief shopping trip to the Dollar Store, we were ready for war.

Today we took the tape off the side of the AC the birds were favoring and, lo and behold, there were the makings of a nest. No eggs yet, but the telltale dent of a place to lay them was there, so we quickly swiped all the leaves, branches and other foliage into a garbage bag. Then came the singular object of attack.

I can’t even believe this.

20150530_192611Yea. A rubber friggin’ snake.

AND IT WORKED. Not a half hour later we heard a shrill chirping sound and looked at the tree outside our window to find our bird friend perched there next to another, fluffed up, pissed off, and scared as hell.

They haven’t been back since.

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Did you ever have the feeling…

…that everything just somehow fell right into place where it was supposed to, and without you even realizing it?

That’s precisely how I’ve felt since mid May. After jumping from job to job and never feeling like I quite fit, I miraculously stumbled upon an agency here in Western Mass that works with culinary talent in doing literary agenting, media training, consulting, and spokesperson work, among many other things (and also sometimes with non-culinary types, though culinary topics are the main focus). I’m the newest literay and marketing associate, so I’ll be helping to hone cookbook and culinary non-fiction proposals, writing pitch letters for said books, sending them off to editors for consideration, doing social media, pitching consultation and media training to potential clients, and just a bevy of other things – it’s a world that fuses literature and food, my two absolute favorites. There are several times during each work day that I stop to ask myself how in the world I became so fortunate.

The office is also in a re-done barn, the company run by a woman who I’m already learning bucket-loads from, with her daughter as a literary agent who is just so cool to talk to, as are the other three girls who work there (one whose place I’m taking and who has been training me and another who was hired the same time as me as a part-time employee who will do more administration work). It’s an environment that I just fit so seamlessly into.

I look forward to waking up every morning and going. I look forward to the challenge each day brings and I look forward to starting the path of a career I never even considered until now! When Sally (the literary agent) tells me about things she does, meetings she has, people she works with, I get so excited and think of those tales as something to shoot for.

Life is so very good. It feels like things have flipped around completely in the last couple of days, and I could not be happier.

Sweet Sunday morning.

There is a bike trail by our house that stretches through three towns. Ever since I got Suzy (yes, I named my cruiser), I’ve been dying to ride it. Yesterday morning after two hours and 11 miles, I can say I accomplished that goal.

And today, I can also say it feels like someone took a baseball bat to my ass and thighs. Not only does my body hurt from biking, but also from the deadlifts, lunges and squats I did during my Saturday morning workout. POOR LEG DAY TIMING.

The trail was charming, as is pretty much every part of the Pioneer Valley to me. I just love how biking is such a huge part of the culture here. I think every Sunday morning I’ll get up to do this – except next time I’ll pack snacks and a book!

For you, some sights!

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Where I stopped, after riding almost an hour into Northampton.

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The bridge right next to aforementioned sign that runs over the Connecticut River and parallel to Route 9.

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The bridge!

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The entrance to the underpass going into Amherst that takes bikers under Route 9.

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Pretty lil poem in Amherst.
Snapchat--8656354152567691444This adorable gate is housed in the back of The Quarters, an awesome bar in Hadley with classic arcade games and insanely good mini hot dogs called “pups.”

 

Francais, part deux.

 

 

 

If you recall, a while back I sunk my teeth into some French cuisine via a place in Northeast PA called Southside Bistro, accompanied by my best friend Kelley. We had escargot and blood pudding sausage, among other scrumptious eats. We promised we’d go back whenever I was home and we could – and then the restaurant closed. The woman who ran it fled back to France and, from what I understand, left the whole thing tied up in legal and money problems. Thankfully it was all sifted through and the restaurant  is now named Le Manhattan Bistro and run by Gwen Le Pape, who formerly served as chef.

I was in town this weekend to not only belatedly celebrate my birthday but also see my cousin Emily in her spring play, which was “Beauty and the Beast” this year. Since I was around and Kelley and I have birthdays two days apart, we decided to hit up Le Manhattan again and see how it fared.

Oh. My. God. MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm.

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My beautiful lady date with her Menage A Trois (Or-G, Canton Liqueur, Blue Coat gin, Champagne) and my Mr. Manhattan (Bourbon, Apple Jack, house-made smoked bitters, sweet vermouth) in the forefront. The decor in the bistro hasn’t changed a bit, but that’s ok – that was part of its charm.

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For an appetizer we decided to split La Frisee Aux Lardons, which is bacon, croutons and a poached egg over greens drenched in a sherry vinaigrette. 

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For my brunch I chose Kodiak Eggs Benedict, which was crab cakes on an English muffin with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. I also sprung for truffle fries. Listen, I love me some eggs benny – but holy crab. This dish was beyond flavorful and I wish it had never ended. 

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There was simply no way I could ignore creme brulee on the dessert menu. This thing was ENORMOUS. I expect a typical 6 or 8-ounce ramekin. No, no. This was a little plate of creme brulee. That crack of crust was superb, the custard below a perfect sweetness. I was stuff by the time I was halfway through, but there was no way I wasn’t finishing it.

 

I’m so glad we had the chance to re-visit the Bistro, and with such stunning results.

My trip home was altogether wonderful. My mom and dad continued my birthday celebration and LOOK AT THIS LOOT. A culinary lover’s dream.1429319567861 1429319578284

That professional chef will now serve as my bible.

“Beauty and the Beast” was a blast; my alma mater always gets it right when it comes to theater. Emily made an adorable townsperson/dancing fork, and the entire cast was spot on. Cogsworth and Lumiere were highlights (those boys had great comedic chops), Mrs. Potts was adorable (and the poor girl held her arm up almost the entire time she was on stage to elicit the look of a tea pot), Gaston was perfectly played and I, all around, forgot what an emotional roller coaster “Beauty and the Beast” was for me as a child – why would Disney do that to a kid?!

I also got to bring two wonderful friends along, and I totally made them buy and wear princess crowns there.

It’s my birthday weekend. What I say goes DUH.
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Feelin’ fine…

…at 29! A couple days ago I took one step closer to 30 and it didn’t freak me out nearly as much as I thought it would. I did, however, for the first time in my life think to myself, “Huh, you will never be in your twenties again after this year,” which scared me a little. But I think 29 and beyond is going to be just wonderful, so my worries don’t run too deep.

Also? Got an amazing birthday present from Boy: a bike! A lime green and white Panama Jack cruiser. I’ve been saying since we moved here that I want a bike to ride to farmers markets and such, and here it is! She’s gorgeous and has a water bottle holder, front basket affixed with leather strips, rear rack to hold goodies and even a bottle opener on the side! Riding it makes me feel so free, and young, and just all-around great.

Also, it’s really frickin’ hard to ride up hills because it’s a one-speed. Strong legs, here I come!

 

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I’ve also begun an experiment where I take a picture every day, for this whole year of being 29. I just want to see what changes. YOU, however, will not see that until the end. 🙂

Oh, hoppy day!

I haven’t been home since Christmas, so to say I was excited to go back for Easter weekend is a severe understatement. I felt like I did the night before the sixth grade field trip to an amusement park. I was jittery in bed, restless, willing the minutes away.

Then the time to go home came.

And the weekend simply went.

I hate how quickly the time flies in such situations. I feel like I hit the ground running once we got in and didn’t stop until we left, yet I spent no time with people!

I did spend three hours in a salon chair with this AMAZING hair cut and color as a result:

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A redhead, AND with bangs. BOOM.

I spent the most time with not only my parents but also my twin cousins, who I have missed so so very much. They’ll be turning 17 soon (a week after me, actually) and I just can’t even believe it. I keep telling Emily she reminds me of Taylor Swift but she is just noootttt having it.

I asked them for a picture with each for the holiday and you will see the stark contrast – and how each photograph is so very fitting of who they are as individuals.

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Happy Birthday, boys!

You should know by now that I am completely obsessed with my dogs. They’re my children. So does it surprise any of you that I bought a cake mix specifically for puppies for their birthday?

Oh yea – we just realized they were born on the same day, though Piper will be 1 and Link will be 5. Weird, no? So of course it’s cause for a celebration!

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Sidnote: Can I just say that, in icing this cake with the weird powered shit you had to add water to to make icing, I licked my finger when some got on it out of habit? Yuck.