Let me start by repeating what I heard on the news the other day: Most New Year’s resolutions are broken by January 17th.  So, I thought it was a good time to quickly check in on mine – a sort of first quarter check-in.  I am a person of goals and once I’ve made them, giving up doesn’t seem to be an option.

Learning French is not going so well - mainly due to time constraints.  But, upon realizing this I’ve created a new tactic to help me succeed: on Sundays, I don’t go running because I consider it my “day off.”  (I suppose this means I should be going to church…) So instead, I’ll devote at least one hour every Sunday to my Rosetta Stone.

Running a marathon – I’m on my way!  I recently completed the NYC Half Marathon with my best friend and fellow runner. Not only was this a super cool course (they shut down Times Square for the runners!) but the sense of accomplishment at the end is like nothing else in the world.  Plus it gives me confidence that I have what it takes to train for double the distance.  

NYC Half Marathon Finishers

NYC Half Marathon – Complete!

And so … my first announcement is that I have officially been accepted into the NYC Marathon!  I was accepted through the lottery so I guess I’m pretty lucky.  Now, I have to get running and work up to 26.2!  I’ll wave to you on TV as I run the five boroughs on November 2, 2014! 

Be happy – my most challenging, truly. I’ve been examining the practice of “simplification” and applying it to my life – what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong – so that I can better my own goals and maybe help guide some others in the right direction.  I’ll probably mention more about that in the future, but one thing I’ve done right this year, especially with my goals, is make it about me. I want to run a marathon for me, learn French for me, and be happy for me.  And with each goal and each step completed, I feel a sense of accomplishment that brings me new, undiscovered happiness.  

So last but not least, I can announce a major accomplishment, at least for me.  My close friends and family know my ridiculous, unwarranted, inexplicable fear of eyes. Ommetaphobia is a real thing and I’m not sure if I should’ve been diagnosed, but I think I am cured.  I finally got laser eye surgery!  A fear of mine for so long, it took three years of building courage to finally make the appointment.  My brother and sister both successfully had the surgery years ago, and with some help from them, I was convinced this was a good move for me – and my vision – and that it may just be another major life goal to consider completed.  And I have to say, I was expecting excitement about my near-perfect vision, but the feeling of accomplishment wasn’t one I was anticipating.  I’m actually proud of myself for letting the amazing professionals at Diamond Vision take a laser to my eye.  Although I was probably more terrified than I’ve ever been in my life, after the surgery (which was literally about one minute on each eye) I had instant gratification.  ”I did it!” was ringing in my head for days.

And now I will be another happy customer and proud endorser of laser eye surgery! The staff at Diamond Vision was phenomenal – they even talked me down for a while and made me laugh as I sat in the waiting room, shaking in fear. My procedure was PRK – no flap in my cornea required (and that statement no longer gives me the creeps and makes me want to pass out like it used to) so although my surgery was more comfortable, my recovery to 20/20 vision is a bit longer. But already I am quite literally seeing the world through a whole new lens – and I’m loving it.

And now, I’m off to use my lens allowance from my vision insurance to get myself some free designer sunglasses! (Yep, you can do that …)

Fig & Olive [Review]

In the culinary playground of Manhattan, it seems every restaurant I finally get to try is replaced by 10 more that must be added to my list. I finally made a reservation at one that I’ve been wanting to check out for a while thanks to the rave reviews from both the media and friends. So, on the last day of NYC Restaurant Week, Tom and I had a dinner date at Fig & Olive.

The Meatpacking location was, well, packed and we couldn’t get a reservation, so we ended up at the midtown restaurant near my office. While Restaurant Week isn’t always a great deal (it’s up to $38 per person now), for a classy establishment like this it was a slight discount from the otherwise pricey menu.

Fig & Olive

Fig & Olive

The Restaurant

The restaurant was much bigger than I had originally thought from the outside, and we were taken straight upstairs to our table despite being very early for our reservation.  The service overall ended up being subpar, but that’s mainly because we noticed how attentive the servers were to other tables with older – and presumably richer – clientele.  I suppose that is one thing about New York I won’t get used to while in my 20′s.

Fig & Olive | Cucumber Cosmo

Fig & Olive | Cucumber Cosmo

The Food

Of course we started with cocktails – Tom went all James Bond and had a dirty martini and I opted for something a little different – a Cucumber Cosmo. After a hard day at the office, it was refreshing without being too strong or sweet. The bread at the table came with four types of olive oil – FOUR! I love quality olive oil – it’s a weird thing to obsess over – but those of you that are with me on this know there is nothing better than some high quality evoo with fresh bread.

Fig & Olive | Mushroom Croquettes

Fig & Olive | Truffle Mushroom Croquettes

From the Restaurant Week menu, Tom and I share two appetizers – Truffle Mushroom Croquette and Crab Cakes. Both were super tiny and super delicious. The crab cakes were some of the best we’ve ever had, and the croquettes were the epitome of why truffle is so wonderful a flavor.

Fig & Olive | Crab Cakes

Fig & Olive | Crab Cakes

For dinner, I had a Chicken Tajine decorated with all sorts of vegetables AND figs! I haven’t had figs in quite a while, and I’ve never had them cooked. It seems like the place really lives up to its name – the flavor combination was unexpected but unexpectedly good. My only criticism was I found a few small chicken bones which made me nervous …

Fig & Olive Chicken

Fig & Olive Chicken Tajine

Tom had paella which was some serious seafood. It was an ocean of sea creatures worthy of a Bourdain episode. It’s not my preferred meal but he loved it, so for seafood lovers it was a winner.

While I don’t usually indulge with dessert at restaurants, it’s part of the standard Restaurant Week menu and, given the small portions of such a fancy place, I was actually excited for the pot de creme and pistachio mascarpone crostini with cherries that arrived.  These are the desserts worth ordering – not too big and just perfectly sweet to end the meal.

So, overall, if you have a few bucks to spare Fig & Olive is definitely a place to try.  If your wallet and stomach are feeling empty, it may be best to save this one for another day.

Check out their menu here.

Arugula, Chickpea, & Pear Salad

When my family gathered to celebrate for my grandma’s 85th birthday, we met for brunch at Grain House – the restaurant that’s part of the Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge.  The brunch buffet was phenomenal – I ate breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert all in one sitting.  

One of my favorite items on the menu was an interesting salad that I (of course) decided to recreate.  Arugula and chick peas were a deliciously healthy combination, and the pears and craisins add a little bit of sweetness.  The dressing was very light, so I used my basic recipe for red wine vinaigrette. I also added some goat cheese because I think everything is better with cheese. :)  

Arugula, Chickpea, & Pear Salad | J'ai la vie

Arugula, Chickpea, & Pear Salad | J’ai la vie

Arugula, Chickpea, & Pear Salad
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  1. 5 oz. arugula (washed and dried)
  2. 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas
  3. 1 small red onion (chopped and sliced thin)
  4. 1 Bosc pear (cut into thin slices)
  5. 1/2 cup craisins
  6. 2-3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  1. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  2. 1 Tbsp. honey
  3. 1/4 tsp salt
  4. 1/4 tsp pepper
  5. 1/8 cup olive oil
  6. 1/4 cup red vinegar
  1. Combine all salad ingredients.
  2. For the dressing, first mix Dijon, honey, salt, and pepper until well combined. Slowly add olive oil, stirring until combined. Add vinegar and mix well.
  3. Toss dressing into salad and serve.
J'ai La Vie