Words of wisdom, courtesy of the movie "Elf"

"There are, like, thirty Ray's Pizzas. They all claim to be the original. But the real one's on 11th."

"Oh, by the way, don't eat the yellow snow."

"Oh, I know that."

"You see gum on the street, leave it there. It's not free candy."

"And if you see a sign that says 'Peep Show', that doesn't mean that they're letting you look at presents before Christmas."


NY Times Op-Art: Service Advisories

Click to view full-size since you probably can't read it (my picture embedding skills are lacking).


Save the Ta-tas.

Yesterday was the fifth annual cut-a-thon at Elaine Hayes' salon Special Effects in East Hampton, in honor of my fiance's mother. We broke all previous records raising $30,000, bringing the 5-year total to over $102,000. All proceeds go to Breast Cancer Help, Inc. We had a great time selling raffles and helping the stylists, and I'm very proud to be a part of it.
This year: $30,000
2006: $27,000
2005: $20,000
2004: $15,000
2003: $10,000


I think it's fitting that I spent yesterday helping people and this morning discussing the environment. I've read a bunch of feeds this morning discussing creative ways to be more mindful of the environment, so I'm going to take the elementary route.

1. Conserve water. Whether you turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth or wait for more dishes before running the washer, every little bit helps.

2. Recycle. We're all consumers. Take your old stuff and bring it down to the Goodwill or whatever you have in your neighborhood. Someone will appreciate your old sweatshirt.

3. Buy local. If you have a farmer's market or co-op, use it. Not only are you supporting the local economy, but your purchases are made at locations where a gas-guzzling delivery truck didn't have to sit in traffic for hours on end to deliver your vegetables.


New York Islanders Recognize Bloggers

SI.com: New York Islanders Recognize Bloggers

The New York Islanders are the first NHL team to integrate bloggers into their media corps. I think it's awesome. Let me also mention I'm a huge fan of the Islanders and my fiance is one of the charter bloggers. It's nice to see hockey getting more attention this season.


I'm not explaining it.

Here's what I do, I know it helps someone.

5th Annual Special Effects Cutathon
Sunday, October 14
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
1 Osborne Lane, East Hampton, NY



When Mike Met Sam

I'm loath to admit this, but we met online. There's a stigma attached to relationships that "began" over the internet, and honestly, I tend to agree. There are exceptions however, and I'd like to think we're one of the many.

I probably wouldn't have met Mike if I had decided to buy a compact car. In mid-2002, I traded my five year-old Chevy Cavalier for a 2003 F-150. It was a 5.4 liter, V-8, 4x4, and brand new. I was tired of my Cavalier, as well as the Dodge Neon before it, may she rest in piece. So there I was with this big ass truck and no one to drive through puddles with. As a side note, I had just moved to New Jersey from my last assignment in Georgia after being stationed there for almost 7 years. My only local friends were my fellow Army recruiters and the bartenders and old guys at the nearby pub. A very nice maintenance man in my apartment complex suggested an online truck club that had local chapters. He had been a member for some time and enjoyed the people who participated, so why not give it a shot? I believed I logged on for the first time in January 2003 with very low expectations. I was looking for inspiration for modifications to the truck and perhaps a local car show.

Within a month or two I found myself checking in every day to say hi, tell jokes, etc. Being a new truck owner, I was pretty shy in the "real" forums. I didn't realize it then, but one of the moderators had greeted me the first week I was a member and would eventually play a much larger part in my life. Skip ahead to April, where I had my first opportunity to "meet" my new friends. A popular Spring car show/swap meet was coming up and our chapter was planning a big get together to hang out, drink beers, buy some crap, and stare at other people's trucks and cars. In the spirit of expanding my social circle I decided to go for the afternoon. I met Mike for the first time that day, and I'd be lying if I said it was remarkable moment of stars and butterflies. He was a nice guy from Long Island, pretty cute and had a very nice truck, but I had just gotten out of a debacle of a relationship and wanted no part in anything resembling male/female relations. Not that he hit on me. At all. I met a few dozen people that day and went on my way. At this point, I had a new friend named Mike. No phone number, no last name, no flirting, no problem. I could have cared less. I wouldn't have known the difference until a few weeks later when we happened to hang out again.

to be continued...


Possibly the best $150 I'll spend this year.

I received fantastic news by email this afternoon. Here it is:

Dear Samantha L_:

A premium Stadium Parking Permit, valid only at the Stadium and Commuter Lots, has been reserved for you to purchase, provided that you still qualify for this permit type. This permit, if you choose to buy it, will be valid until September 30, 2008 - there are no other expiration date options available for this permit. All outstanding tickets and obligations, if any, will have to be paid before you can order this permit.

Please log on to the Stony Brook Parking Permit System to place your order:


After you place your order, a $150 fee will be charged to your student account. Once charged, there will be no refunds.

IMPORTANT: The deadline is September 18, 2007, close of business day. Any permits that have not been purchased by then will be forfeited and offered to other people on the wait list.

Thank You,

Parking Services
254 Administration Building
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-2001
Phone: (631) 632-AUTO
Email: parking@stonybrook.edu
WWW: http://www.stonybrook.edu/parking
Hells yes, I want one! If you've ever experienced the misery of commuter parking at a large university, feel my pain. I reserved it before writing this sentence. Mine, all mine. No more stupid parking tickets. Life has meaning once again.


Back to school

A brief, before I hit the hay. Back to school today, pretty jazzed. I like school. I'd like to be a career student, but there's very little income in that. Still working until 2:30 am most days, yay. We're also in the process of moving. I'm looking forward to that being over. I'll catch up and elaborate later in the week.


Hvala, Danke, Merci, Köszi, Grazie, Spasibo, Mahalo, Gracias, Thank you.

*Bosnian, French, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Hawaiian, Spanish, English. "'Thank you' in many languages"

I'm trying very hard to get my thank you notes before the holiday. I was going to buy card stock and stamp them, but my suggestion for a 28 hour day hasn't been approved yet, so I bought some simple blank thank you cards and have begun to address them. I have around 50 gift thank you's and maybe 20 "thanks for coming" thank you's. I needed some inspiration on what to write without sounding impersonal or cheesy and I found a great essay/advice column on Thank you etiquette. Here is a summary, for your viewing pleasure. This article was originally published at The Morning News.

"...I will also grudgingly tell you the hidden secret of thank-you notes: They improve the frequency and quality of the gifts you receive. People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to give an encore performance.

1. Greet the Giver
Let them hear their ow name and see it in ink. No typing or pre-printed.

2. Express Your Gratitude
Avoid the "just writing" trap. You are not ‘just writing to say’ as in I am just writing to say; that's stating the obvious. Write as if whatever you say is happening in the moment.

Never directly mention money. All cash denominations become ‘your generosity’ or ‘your kindness.’ If you feel the giver overspent, the farthest you can go is appreciated: ‘Your generosity is appreciated,’ or ‘It is such an extravagant gift—your kindness is appreciated.’

If you’re writing to thank someone for an intangible (such as them putting you up at their place while you were in town for the weekend), first define what the intangible thing is, and then make the gift sound as attractive as possible. Don’t say: ‘Thanks for letting us crash at your place.’ Instead say: ‘Thank you for your hospitality.’ The point of writing the note is to create a simple expression of a heartfelt sentiment.

3. Discuss Use
Say something nice, but don't lie, find something positive.

4. Mention the Past, Allude to the Future
Fit the giver into your life.

5. Grace
Say thanks again.

6. Regards
Wrap it up.

A thank you is for thanking the giver. It isn't a life achievement newsletter.

Don't forget to mail it.

-Leslie Harpold, 1 October 2003

I think there is incredibly sound advice here. I was clueless what to write in each, but I actually feel a bit better now.


Planning Advice

I've always loved planning things. I'm a bit exacting (read: anal) at times, so planning events or activities is my idea of a good time. I'm finding that one the most important factors in planning is others' opinions. I definitely have my own vision, but it's so helpful to hear stories from friends and coworkers about venues and vendors. I realized last night that I've heard one thing over and over again:
"If I did it over, it wouldn't have been so elaborate."
It's so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of wedding planning. I remind myself constantly not to lose focus. I want to have a wonderful party with good food, booze, and music. I'd like it to be pretty as well, but the first three are truly the most important.


Engagement Party Recap

What a great day we had Sunday. So many people showed up, many stayed a while, some for a quick hello, but we had such a blast. The first guests arrived around noon (while I was still in shorts, trying to unfold chairs), and the last few party goers got going at 10:30 pm or so. I'm pretty sure I said no more than hello and thanks for coming for the first 3 hours. We decided to cater and cook, which worked out wonderfully. Mike's dad and sister ordered a sheet cake and we also made some sweet plates. Even though we've been engaged since Christmas Eve, it's strange how I feel "more engaged" now. 2 more years to go before the big day, or sooner if my money tree starts blooming.
From top to bottom: Mike and Sam (Me); Me, my sister Erica, and my future sister-in-law, Lauren; brother and sister


It's My Party

We're heading over to the house in a minute. I'm anxious about the weather. It's pretty damn gloomy outside. Oh well, we'll just get 'em all drunk and no one will notice. I made the icebox cake last night. I thought it came out well, I guess we'll see who vomits first. See you in a few hours.


Location, Location

I do intend to review each of these and probably more locations in detail, exciting, no?

As our wedding is slowly becoming a sporting event, I've realized we need to reserve the reception hall as soon as possible. We're estimating 200-250, so we're narrowed down by that, as well as the fact that we aren't independently wealthy. It's going to be on Long Island, preferably eastern Nassau/western Suffolk County. I'd like a venue that isn't too stuffy or closed in. We want August in the afternoon so I'd rather not have chandeliers be the only source of light. Also only one event at a time. Of course the places I like are over $100 a plate. I think I almost threw up again. So I'm on the hunt. I have ideal and realistic choices. The money estimates are from a few sites. Here are a few:

Oheka Castle
135 West Gate Drive, Huntington, NY
Gorgeous. Holy expensive. The only way would be if I learned how to manufacture money.

Woodbury Country Club
884 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY
They can have 2 events at a time, but the place is huge. $75-$150 a plate.

Carlyle on the Green
Bethpage State Park, Bethpage, NY
My favorite so far. Unfortunately $100-250 a plate.

North Ritz Club
7150 Jericho Turnpike, Syosset, NY

The Cottage at Milleridge
585 N Broadway, Jericho, NY

The Pavilion at Sunken Meadow
Sunken Meadow State Park, Kings Park, NY
$75-85. This one might be a sleeper, owned by the Lessing family.


A few more days...

I've become completely obsessed with the weather for Sunday. We have a tent for the backyard, but I really don't want rain. Please? Can't it be partly cloudy in the mid 70's so I can blow my hair straight and not have it morph into Roseanne Rosannadanna?

I'm getting more and more into adding "personal touches" lately. Now that the decorations and favors are bought/made, the future sister in law and I decided to make a few side dishes to add to what's being catered. Lauren makes a great taco dip and cookies, and I'm going to make buffalo wing dip and icebox cake, or what I've always called "fat cake". I hadn't had it in years, so I was jazzed to find the recipe, if you can call it that.
I enjoy cooking, but I don't want to go overboard when I know I'll already be anxious, so this is a great dessert to satisfy my need to make something.
photo courtesy Smitten Kitchen
3 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (9-ounce) packages chocolate wafer cookies
Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)

These proportions are for 6 servings apparently, but here is the breakdown for making it bigger or smaller:
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon sugar for every cup of cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract for every cup of cream
Just under 1 (9-ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers are awesome)
Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings) for garnish

In a cold, large bowl (preferably metal), beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. The cream should whip to about twice its original volume.
On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center. (I'll make it bigger than that to serve more people.) I'm also thinking of using a trifle bowl instead of a serving plate.

Spread with 1/2 cup whipped cream, making a circle covering the first wafer layer. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making 11 layers of cookies (or however many you feel like making) and ending with a layer of cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. This is where the magic happens. The wafers will absorb the cream while it sits, resulting in a cake-like dish with layers of chocolate and cream.
To serve, dust top lightly with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.

Of course there are other ways to make icebox cake. I know a popular shape is a log, but I like this way, I find it easier to assemble.

After reading a few experiences with the cake, I started worry I wouldn't find the Nabisco wafers since they aren't even on the Nabisco website. Happily my local Stop & Shop was very well stocked, so crisis averted. I need to stop worrying about cookies, it isn't healthy.


Getting Ready for the E-Party

I'm a reluctant diy-er. I enjoy the intimacy of hand crafted items and I get a kick out of seeing the fruits of my labor, but it's also a pain in the ass, and I have little to no personal time most days. I did decide to make favors for the engagement party, and I think they turned out very well.
I bought blue and brown m&m's from their website. I also bought small plastic bags, personalized stickers, and card stock from a favor website. After putting everything together, I found a basket in the basement, and voila. We expect to have around 100 people so I made @ 70 favors. Let's be honest, most people don't care about the favors. We aren't going crazy on decorating, so I wanted to add a few details here and there.

I'm not thrilled with the last picture. I'll take a better one this week to show what each favor looks like. Most pics here are taken with my cell phone, btw. That's my excuse.
Cingular 8525
M&M's 22 Colors
wedding FAVORites


Monkey Thursday

I was searching through Google News for the story about the gentleman who smuggled a marmoset under his hat on his way to Laguardia, and apparently my search for "monkey hat" wasn't specific enough. Lo and behold, there were two featured articles. Who knew monkeys were such a hot item?

Wanted Monkey in Madison, Wisconsin
Man Flies with a Monkey Under His Hat


Mmmm, cupcake.

I saw this gem on one of the dozens of blogs I subscribe to. It's a giant cupcake. It arrived today, and I can't wait to make one. Yum, yum, yum.
Want one?
Right here: Sur la table - Wilton Giant Cupcake Pan


Here is one of the ways I'm blowing money (preparing) for the engagement party:

Mini paper lanterns with cherry blossom design. We're hanging them above the deck. Precious, aren't they?


Money, That's What I Want

It's a good thing my father and future father-in-law are kind and generous. I've spent a bit of my own dough already, and this is just for the engagement party. We wouldn't be eating if they weren't helping. I've spent @ $160 on dishes, cutlery, tablecloths, and so on. $150 has gone to favors, which I have to say, are damn cute. I just spent $70 on lanterns to hang in the backyard. I spent @$40 on invitations and another $50 on stamps. The food, chairs, and tables aren't coming out of our money, for which I'm eternally grateful. Tables and chairs with 1 tent is going to b @$300, thanks to a wonderful friend of the family. That leaves food and booze. Good lord.

160-cutlery, etc
=$470 (I'm dry heaving)

300-chairs, tables, tent
?-food, booze


Makin' an honest woman outta me

So now that I'm betrothed, I'm thinking of keeping track of things and thoughts here. Not too fluffy, I promise.


prodigal daughter?

I'm casually entertaining the the thought of resuming my babbling. We'll see.