April 30, 2012

City Scenes: Conservatory Garden

This Sunday was gah-geous, simply gah-geous! 
And I decided to take advantage of the beautiful sunshine by going on a walk to the Conservatory Garden in Central Park with my good friend, my camera. (Spencer, the bore, studied all afternoon. wah-wah.)

Here are some from that lovely walk:

This single-residence is so big that I couldn't fit it in one frame! And it's in Mahattan! What the what?!??! Who lives there?!?!?

I love ivy!

More ivy!

The park itself.

The flowers in the garden.

Who wouldn't want to sit surround by these beauties?

Tulips are my favorite flowers.

You know, I have always love living in New York.
But now that we live near Central Park, I LOVE living in New York.

Did you get some fantastic spring weather as well this weekend?

Large and in charge

My legs are big. They always have been, and they always will be.

My calves are big, so big that zip-up boots don't fit. Neither do Hunter's. So big that Spencer struggled to get his brother's ski boots to fit. And H&M skinny jeans? Can't even pull them past my knees. 

 Then there are my thighs. I have to buy my pants to fit my thighs, not my waist. Also, wonder if there is any space between those two? Fuhgeddaboudit. 

 But guess what - I love them. I love my legs. These babies are 100% pure muscle. They are STRONG. And all this training has only made them bigger. 

On Saturday, they jogged for 10 miles on Saturday and at a pace faster than my goal! Even more, at the end of those 10 miles, my legs said to me, "Erica, we are tired, but we can go a little bit longer if you really need it."

Aren't they sweet? I appreciated the effort, but I let them have the rest of the day off. 
Because I love their monstrous-sized selves.

Here they are in all their post-run glory.
P.S. Sorry if all this running talk is boring you, but unfortunately, it will only get worse. Feel free to sleep through these posts.

April 27, 2012

Sheila, mate, and other Australian things

Today I'm guest posting over at Preethi's blog, where I put together an outfit based on Australia. The movie, I mean.

Photo by Annie Leibowitz
Sigh - Hugh Jackman. Not quite as good as going to Australia on vacation, but it's pretty darn close.

April 24, 2012

DownEast Basics Giveaway (Closed)

I am HUGE fan of DownEast Basics, both skirts above are from there, and if you are too, then you are in luck! DownEast Basics is kindly offering one North Meets South reader an item of his/her choice! 

Here's what you need to do to enter this giveaway:

1. Go to DownEast Basics and choose your favorite item. (Bathing suit top plus bottom equals 1 item.)
2. Leave a comment below telling me what that item is and please include your email.

And that's it! You have until midnight on Monday, April 30th to enter.
Also, sorry, but this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
Good luck!

Update: Congrats to April G.! I'll be sending you an email soon!

April 23, 2012

Sun and stripes

Shirt: F21, Tank: Old Navy, Skirt: c/o DownEast Basics, Wedges: Urban Outfitters

I don't think Saturday could have been more beautiful. Beginning with my run in Central Park and ending with a girls' night in, the entire day was full of green leaves and sunshine and Downton Abbey. And the cherry on top of a perfect day? My new striped skirt with buttons and pockets. 

Stripes, buttons and pockets all in one skirt? I die from the awesomeness. And if you come back tomorrow, you might be able to get your own piece of awesomeness.

Side note: I finally ate my own words and made a Facebook page for this here blerg. If you are so inclined, click on this link, and we can chit-chat about clothes, food and of course, hilarious tumblrs/internet videos I will inevitably link to.

April 20, 2012

Friday Favorites

I'm not usually much of a shopper, but spring always gets that spending itch going. Here are some sweet deals I'm willing to crack open my wallet for, all under $30.
1. Joe Fresh Stripe Boatneck Tee - $14
2. F21 Nautical Ankle Pants -$19.90
3. Asos Denver Sneakers - $27.27
4. H&M Straw Hat - $17.95
5. Joe Fresh Marine Dress - $29
6. F21 Pleated Polka Dot Skirt - $22.80
7. H&M Floral Pants - $14.95

And if you want even more awesome-ness, check out Natalie's "What you should be buying at Forever 21" post. I drooled over (almost) every darn item.

April 19, 2012

City Scenes: 9/11 Memorial

1 of 2 pools
30-foot waterfalls

On Saturday, I finally went to the 9/11 Memorial. One of my best friends from high school came into town, and the only thing she specifically wanted to do was see it. I'm so glad Kathryn insisted on it; otherwise, who knows when Spencer and I would have gone?

As Kathryn and I walked from the Brooklyn Bridge to the memorial, we reminisced about that day. About September 11, 2001.
Where were you when you heard about the attacks?

I was in 8th grade, and I was at my locker between 2nd and 3rd periods. A friend came up and told me someone had crashed a plane into the World Trade Towers, speculating it was the Chinese (haha, politics from a 13-year-old).
Honestly, I hadn't heard of the WTC and thought it was in London or something. So while I was very upset and distraught by the news, nothing can compare to the shock I felt when I learned the attacks happened in New York City.
This sort of thing didn't happen in America!! How could this happen??
The misguided comfort I previously felt that bad things only happened "elsewhere" was shattered.

Seeing the 9/11 Memorial was a beautiful, reverent and even spiritual event. Seeing the names of those who died, the size of the towers, the pictures of the aftermath - all of it was so moving.

Luckily, being the cry-baby I am, I only got teary once. As you walk through security to get into the memorial, you see picture after picture of memorials, candles, flags, flowers, etc., from around the world that people did for America. People waving American flags in France, others praying for us in Egypt. For some reason, that show of community, love and humanity just did me in.

On a lighter note, having a friend, especially an Alabama friend, in town was fantastic! Other than a brief 2 hours in 2008, I hadn't seen Kathryn for almost 6 years! (Thus is the tragedy of having parents move in college.) We talked all weekend and walked all over the city, as I tried to show her the highlights in 1.5 days. I miss Kathryn already and wish she would come back. And to all my other long-distance friends, come to NY! You have a very comfy futon to sleep on! 

April 18, 2012

Contact Paper - a Renter's Dream

Our new kitchen is white. 
Blindingly white. 
White walls, white cabinets, white appliances.
White, white, white!

And while I kind of like soothing white motifs in living rooms or bedrooms, kitchens are supposed to be colorful, crazy messes because goodness knows cooking/dinner-time is always a colorful, crazy mess. 

So slowly I attacked the whiteness. 
Put up shelves to display my bowls and cooking books. 
Displayed my colorful, patterned aprons. 
Hung up pretty prints we scored for $6 and $3 dollars. 

However, those stupidly white cabinets were still driving me crazy, but as a renter, we can't paint unless we want to lose our security deposit. No, thank you!

I begin researching alternatives by googling "pretty sticky stuff for decorating cabinets" (no joke), but to no avail. Thankfully, Meredith came along, and showed me the light - contact paper, she said. Use contact paper.

So I did. Here's our cabinets before:

And here's our cabinets after:  
While not the prettiest or most color-coordinated kitchen, I love the hodge-podge look.

All it took in-between was a few dollars spent on Amazon, a ruler, a box cutter and a Spencer to measure and cut that paper in a straight line because an Erica sure can't do that (seriously, I can't).

Couldn't have done it without him.

The quickest, cheapest and easiest DIY turned my cabinets from something I loathed to something I love.
Bless you, Meredith, and bless you, contact paper.

April 16, 2012

The Harlem Hills

The Harlem Hills aren't quite this tall, but they are close. Source.

The Harlem Hills are hell.

The Harlem Hills, so called by me due to their location in the Harlem section of Central Park, encompass the majority of the first 3 miles of my runs. Winding and ever-inclining, these beasties burn my calves and torture my quads. 
Let's not even talk about what they do to my buttocks. 

But once they are done, oh, once the path goes flat, or even - praise be! - declines, I am on top of the world!
I make it through the next 5.3 miles of my run by mentally repeating "You can do this, you can DO this!  You beat those damn hills - you sure can finish this!" What I'm verbally repeating is "*gasp, gasp* I can't *gasp* breathe *gasp* ouch"

But it's all worth it. 
Because no feeling is greater than going home and yelling "SUCKAAAAAA!" at Spencer, Mr.I-don't-think-you-will-wake-up-that-early.

Also, I hear the course for the Brooklyn Half is flat so huzzah for that!

**I find profanity, in moderation, both humorous and motivating.

April 12, 2012

Open to Interpretation: Spring

My choice for this week's OTI, and I wanted to do something springy and bright! What do you think?


I just love the color combination! And the stripes with the cardigan! Actually, I love absolutely everything about this photo, especially her hair. (My love of fros has been mentioned before.) So this is one outfit that I tried to right-out copy. This was as close as I got:

Shirt/shoes: hand-me-down, Pants: Anthropologie, Belt: Joe's NY, Headband: DIY
My new favorite hair-do for day-old hair. How on earth did it take me this long to figure it out?
While I loved the outfit, I wore this on the WRONG day. Instead of the balmy 70 degrees of the day before, it was like 50! Blerg...New York springs are so fickle.

Want to know who isn't fickle? Kayla and Amy.

Updated: Heather joined us this week as well! Head over to her blog to her interpretation.

April 11, 2012

Health Nutty

Spencer can be a bit of a health nut but only about very specific things. 
Por ejemplo, he freaks when I buy 1% milk, scolds me for loving cheese and bread too much, frets if we watch more than 2 hours of tv a week, and tells me I bake too much when I make cookies once a month. 

But oh! OH!

He bought 4, count them - 4!, bags of Reese's eggs because "they were on sale,"
He took one to school, leaving just 3 for me to photograph.

and took ALL of his sister's Easter candy (don't worry - she offered it freely) on top of what we got from both sets of parents.

This doesn't even include the stuff Spencer's mom gave us. We already ate it.

And then he has the nerve to tell me I shouldn't eat sweets! 
Goodness knows I love him, but my gosh, I can't even.
And yes, Spencer, I am eating the Cadbury's mini-eggs while typing this.
In yo' face!

April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Minus a few. :(

How was your Easter weekend? 
Spencer and I went up to my parents' house in Massachusetts and spent the weekend playing games, relaxing and spending as much time as possible with my darling nephew:

This picture just melts my ice cold heart.
And guess what I got in my Easter basket (yes, I still get one)
Season 1 of Downton Abbey
I've never seen Downton Abbey (I know, blasphemy) and was dying to jump on the bandwagon. If my blogging is little bit spotty the next few days, know that I'm busy fraternizing with the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey and her fancy entourage.

April 6, 2012

First Quarter Review

Practicing with my fancy-pants camera in Central Park. There were so many blossoms it looked like it had snowed!

Remember this post on my 2012 goals? Well, my friend Megan suggested that I do a quarterly review of those goals, and I thought that was a fantastic idea! So here's how I did on my 2012 goals during January through March:

Run a half-marathon: In progress. I've signed up for the Brooklyn half-marathon on May 19th and am in the midst of training. So far my longest run has been 6.7 miles, which is my longest ever. Go me! I am so excited for this race, but I don't think I could do it without my running buddy Kiasa. She makes those long runs go by so quickly!

3 months without any soda: Mostly done. I went 2 months without any soda and then the move happened. Moving while simultaneously working and going to school is rough! Caffeine was needed. And then the hacking cough that kept me up to 3 am happened. Caffeine was needed again. So March has been more spotty with the soda, but I am off my caffeine addiction, so yay! (Note: I never, ever buy myself soda. It's just free at work. If it weren't for that, I would never drink the darn stuff.)

Go 1 month without sugar: Haven't started. I'm starting this one on April 18th, one month and one day before my half-marathon. (Guess who's pigging out on Easter!) Even though I'm not officially off sugar, I've been a lot better this year in general and am eating a lot more produced and unprocessed foods, so I feel confidant that I can do this.

Eat raw again: Hasn't happened. This has to happen in the summer time because I need my warm food when it's cold! I'm thinking I will do this after my half-marathon.

Read my scriptures every day: ALMOST! I missed ONE day! Curse you March 24th!!!! I woke up the next morning swearing because I realized I hadn't read my scriptures.

Be happier: YES, a hundred times YES. This one was tough for the first 2 1/2 months of the year, but now that I can see the sun on a daily basis (3 cheers for daylight savings!) and go out on my lunch break (3 cheers for 60-degree weather!), I am SO much happier. I love the sun!!!! But even before that, once I made a conscious effort to be happier, I was. I got over the bad and focused on the good.  

So there is my progress report. I had another goal that I wanted to add, but I can't remember it now. Blast. Couldn't be "be ridiculously good-looking on a daily basis" because we all know I have that one locked down. ;)

How are your 2012 goals going? Care to share your progress report?

April 4, 2012

Vanity at its finest

I was hoping to get a close-up of my truly heinous nails. And I have the hands of an 80-year-old. Le sigh.
Want to know what feature of mine I'm most proud of? 
My nails. 
That's right, my fingernails. 

Strong, flaw-free, and perfectly colored with tips so white people routinely asked if I had a French manicure. They were my one true beauty! And winter destroyed them! DESTROYED!!! For the past three months, my nails are constantly chipped, broken, flaky and unable to grow a millimeter! Just as Amy mourned the loss of Jo's hair, I've been mourning the loss of my beautiful, beautiful nails. 

So this is where I turn to you, interwebbers. What do you do to have healthy nails? Someone suggested pre-natal vitamins, but then I died at how much they cost. Any other (cheaper) options? 

Thanks a bunch,
She Who Is Absurdly Vain

P.S. In other vanity news, thanks to Kayla's recommendation, I'm now wearing lady-part gel as makeup primer. And it works!

April 2, 2012

Thoughts on politics and parties

Have you ever felt the need to talk about a topic so strongly that it seems like you are bursting out of your skin? Your fingers tingle, your stomach flip-flops, and you just can't concentrate until you get it all out? That's what I'm feeling right now.

I want to talk about politics. Not about political beliefs; I don't think this is the place for that but about our current political prediction. So bear with me.

I've been seeing a lot of political "art" (for lack of a better word) on my Facebook feed, and I get physically ill every time I see it. Here are some examples:

Each of these pictures and the million others floating around are an example of the deep, deep divide we have between our political parties. Yes, there is a divide due to the differing beliefs and ideologies, but the gulf is widened with name-calling, slander, blame games, insults and an all-out refusal to talk, or heaven forbid, LISTEN to each other. Conservative and liberals; Republicans and Democrats. Both sides do it; both sides try to blame the other. And I am sick of it. Absolutely sick.

Yes, my political views do tend to align more with one party over the other (Democrats, if you really want to know), but I will happily throw my hat in the ring for anyone, anyone, who is willing to wash his hands of both political parties, to work and to compromise in order to actually achieve solutions. We have so many problems, vast, terrible problems, with our country, but I think our greatest and most debilitating problem is our unwillingness to work together. 

I am not the only one that is against this system. 

George Washington, in his almost-prophetic presidential farewell address, cautioned our country against political parties, saying that these parties will become more focused on exacting revenge on the other party than helping the country.That these parties will distract the government from its duties, create jealousies and divisions among groups and regions, and eventually lead to despotism.

James Madison, in the Federalist Papers (No. 10), also warned against factions, whose destructiveness could bring down the republic. He wrote that the most dangerous factions where those born out of differing political opinions. 

Richard Bushman, a Columbia professor and renowned Mormon historian, spoke recently to NYU's Mormon law students, and thanks to Spencer, I got to hear him as well. He spoke of how the Church  needs to serve the world, but not just in the way we think. Not just in missionary work, not just in humanitarian aid, but in healing our broken political system. No, this was not an endorsement for Mitt Romney (if anything, Bushman expressed disappointment that Romney had become entrenched in the mud-slinging and name-calling that is quid pro quo of any election. More on that below)

Professor Bushman spoke of how Mormons can be great examples of cooperation and working together for the greater good. That we should lead this country in reaching across party lines. Those readers who are LDS know what I mean. Think of any committees or presidencies you have been a part of in your wards/branches. You didn't agree with everyone in that group. You didn't like everyone in that group. But you respected them and you worked together in a timely, reasonable manner to solve issues and to achieve various goals. This is how our political system should be!

All people, not just Mormons, do this. In our offices, our schools, any forum where we interact with others, we know how to lay aside our differences and work together. Then why can't we do this in our political process? Instead of respect and cooperation, we employ hatred and stubbornness. We teach our children from the youngest age not to name call, not to fight, but somehow as adults, these rules of decent society don't apply within the political realm.

And it's not just the politicians. Oh, they do deserve a hefty amount of the blame. But when their constituency gets up in arms at the first sign of "wavering" in their beliefs, what are these career politicians to do? In a perfect world, politicians would be politicians out of a desire to better this country and would act accordingly, no matter what the voters back home thought, but I'm realistic enough to know this isn't the case. They need to please the home base, and the home base won't accept compromises. Why must we revile politicians who negotiate and who reach across party lines, and glorify those who "stick to their guns" and, in effect, get nothing accomplished? Politicians have to become involved in the slander, the hatred, and disgust of "the other side" if they want any dream of being elected. We cheer on those who spout words of hate and ignore those who follow that ages-old adage from Bambi "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." How on earth did we let our country get this way?

Now, I don't want you to think that I'm hating on America. This is the greatest country on earth! I love it here, no matter what political party is in power, and would never say "well, guess I'm moving to such and such country." (Although, I did have a hearty laugh at the people who said they would move to Canada after Obama got elected because he was a "socialist." That's like jumping out of the kettle and into the fire, socialistically speaking.) I just want to heal our country, to make it better, and that can never happen while we are entrenched in this party warfare. We are our greatest enemies.

Ok, there's my spiel for the day. Again, this isn't meant to be about any particular political ideology. I think both of our political parties are equally to blame. And if you've made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I barely made it myself. 

source for pic 1 and 2 unknown. 3 / 4