my new favorite blog

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Daily Coyote.
Seriously, it is possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen.
I always thought I'd want to adopt a tiger, but this little guy totally wins.
Thanks Heather for directing us all to it!

7 + 8

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Leila tagged me about a century ago - I need to list 7 random things about myself. I've done something similar before, having been asked by Elizabeth to list 8 random things about myself. Thankfully the number of items requested is scaling down, so I will squeeze my brain for some information you might not know about me. That might be tough. Because I tend to talk a lot and share random tidbits about myself which, quite frankly, you probably have no interest in knowing about. Oh well...

1 - I can't remember a time when my parents' didn't pick us up or drop us off at the airport. If I accompany family and close friends to the airport, you can usually expect me to be standing at the security check point, waiving at you until you clear security, until I can't see you even if I squint, and hopefully, you are totally embarrassed. And if the situation is reversed, and I am the one departing? I will judge you if you leave too soon. What's the matter? You don't love me enough to stand there and wave? LOVE ME! WAVE!

2 - Some of my favorite books as a kid where a series called Il Manuale Delle Giovani Marmotte
. They were boy scout books of sort, but they featured Donald Duck's three nephews. They are called Junior Woodchucks Guidebook in the US, but I don't think they were actually ever published in English. I loved them and I carried them everywhere. They were so useful, with tips on how to make things, snippets of world history, how to survive in the wild, etc etc... Sadly I couldn't find them when I went home this summer, so either my mom threw them away (not a totally impossible scenario) or one of my sisters' stole them (yes, *stole* them!). I picked up this book the other day to replace them. I spent some time leafing through it with my Sunday morning coffee and I am so happy with it. It doesn't have the same sentimental value of the Marmotte book, but the content seems good to me so far. Now all I need is the boys' edition and I'll be set!

3 - I have a very unhealthy obsession with kitchen supply stores. I could spend hours in there, browsing through pots, measuring cups, knives, rolling pins, plates, glasses, high-tech gadgets, cookie cutters, spatulas, blah, blah blah...
If it were up to me, I would buy every single item available. Thankfully Shamim's around to talk sense to me.

4 - My mom believes very strongly that if you are not feeling well "nature will take care of it". Thanks to her aversion to most traditional medication and her knowledge of all things homeopathic and natural I have only had antibiotics once in my life, after some very nasty oral surgery.

5 -
When I was in primary school, my dad and I used to drop my two big sisters off at school and go have breakfast together, since I started an hour later. We'd go to a little bar a couple of blocks away, and that's a bar in the Italian sense of the word. The place were you go to have you "cappuccino e cornetto" (that's the Italian equivalent of a croissant), to read the daily paper, to chat with the usual patrons, to watch the morning news, where old men play cards and order un caffe' corretto (espresso with a shot of grappa). I sometimes had some variety of pastry with a big glass of fruit juice, but more often than not I'd opt for a tuna sandwich. When I think back at that now, I can't believe my dad never objected to this choice and that I actually had friends in school.

6 - I grew up surrounded by carpets and I've loved them ever since I learnt to jump from pile to pile in my family's shop. Persian, Chinese, Afghan... you name it. Because I can't. With the exception of Gabbehs, I cannot for the life of me correctly identify any type of carpet. And it's not like my dad and uncle didn't try and teach me, because they did. Like this carpet, you see? I have no idea what it's called, but I like it! Does that make up for my ignorance?

7 - At the beginning of November I seriously considered taking part in this. Considering the kind of month this has been and the fact that it's taken me the whole month just to write this post, I am very glad I decided against that.
Maybe next year?

Japanese Made in Chinatown

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One of my favorite stores in the whole world finally opened in New York City, and I've been waiting patiently to go visit since the doors opened last Friday. I've had a secret love affair with this store since my days in London, when I used to head down to their High Street Kensington location to browse through their home accessories, clothes, and stock up on school supplies. The design and packaging of their products is so clean and simple, and I've always found the quality to be really great. It seems to me to be pricier here than it was in London, but it's still worth visiting in person if you live close by. If not, check out their online store. In the meantime, here are some picture to tide you over...

Elizabeth, look away right now - as I know you take issue with the store's name, I left the picture with its name till the end...

Oh, and they are opening another location in the city in 2008. It seems like it will be much bigger that this one and be located in the new New York Times building.

hello, lover!

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've been waiting all week for tonight's dinner. After being bossed around by a nasty stomach bug, being obliged to eat nothing but pita bread, yogurt and (cue sound of utter disgust and revulsion) apple sauce ("Amy! It's good for you. Try a little. No mind it makes you gag even when you are perfectly healthy. It's not baby food!"), I finally got to indulge in proper, real food. I was really looking forward to making something good, especially after seeing all the amazing stuff Elizabeth made last week!
It was cold, rainy and even a little bit snowy outside today, and after spending a couple of hours standing in the chill I was really looking forward to cuddling up on the couch with some warm soup. I was craving something like the zucchini soup my mom always used to make when I was growing up. It was smooth, fresh and healthy. Over the years I've made various versions of this soup, adding ingredients depending on what I had available in the fridge, or what was on sale at the supermarket or the farmer's market. That means I don't really have a recipe for it, but I am pleasantly surprised every time I make it.

Tonight's version was smooth and creamy, with a bit of a kick provided by some potent chili flakes. In the pot went onion, garlic, shallots, leeks, broccoli, zucchini and potatoes, and then a dollop of creamy greek yogurt and a drizzle of my parents' olive oil to top it off. I made enough to feed an army, so there should be some left over to store away in the freezer and come back to in a little while.
Obviously I couldn't just have soup for dinner - oh no. This kind of meal requires some olives, cheese and crusty baguette. I was eager to crack open some of the cheese my parents brought us, especially that one with the chili flakes in it (sensing a theme here yet?). So imagine my surpise when I unwrapped it to find... THIS!

Ah! I mean, this is enough mold and gunk to make anyone queasy. Want to see a close up? You know you do...

Anyhow, don't think a little bit of mold kept me away. I gingerly sliced off all the infected parts, with a precision even Jalil would be proud of. I am happy to report I was able to remove all of the growth, and the patient is now recovering in the fridge, snug in a ziplock bag. Phew. That was close.
In conclusion, my dinner was perfect.

I hope your dinner was perfect too!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

The whole catching up with life, emails, voice mails and the rest got sidetracked this week. I've been spending most of my time groaning from the couch, fighting the stomach flu that never ended. No kidding. So now it's Sunday evening, I spent a total of three hours out of the house this weekend, a wet and cold three hours at that, and now I'm feeling remarkably groggy and, mostly, hungry. Hungry for anything but plain white yogurt and pita bread.

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to post a picture of the back of my marathon jersey, with the names of the people in whose memory or honor I ran the marathon for.

I can't tell you how much keeping in mind all these people really helped me make it through the run. And thanks to everyone's generous donations I not only met my fundraising goal but exceed it significantly. Thank you thank you thank you.

Ok, so I'm off for now, I'll see you sometime next week, hopefully fully recovered.

missing this little one...

Monday, November 12, 2007


Saturday, November 10, 2007

I've been slowly recovering from the run, enjoying some time off work with the family in Boston, the dramatic color of the leaves, some of my favourite food.

I am realizing that I've been in some kind of bubble for the past month. I'm not quite sure what ever happened to October. It's done, over, gone.

I mean, it's November. November people! There are Christmas songs playing in stores. I've had to pull out my winter clothes. Starbucks has started serving their "cold weather" drinks in bright red cups. Thanksgiving specials on the Food Network. It's dark at 5:30pm! I feel like everyone else realized that fall and winter were here and I'm only catching up now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the change of season. I always feel energized at this time of year, focused, ready for new challanges and activities and projects. So here I am , making lists in my head, planning, thinking, organizing, excited about getting back in the grove of things. I have a zillion email, voice mails, facebook posts and scrabulous games to catch up with, so if you are waiting for any of the above from me, don't worry... I'm alive and you'll be hearing from me soon.

for myself

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

UPDATE: If you weren't able to view the videos, I've since fixed it...Enjoy!
I am writing this post mostly for myself, and since I already know it will be a long one, y'all don't have to stick around to read it. The reason is I want to capture as much as I can from from Sunday, from marathon day. I want to simply list all the thoughts that I had while I ran, small snippets that I might want to hang on to, that might be forgotten if I don't record them now while they are still fresh in my mind. This way, in a couple of months from now, when that itch to do something weird, crazy, challenging and somewhat insane (like say, run a marathon?) hits again - because oh, you know it will - I can have good, solid facts to base my decisions on. Also, quite frankly, family and friends are getting a bit sick and tired or hearing me blabber on about the run, so this post is also for their sake. So here it goes, a list of things I need to remember from this run, both good and bad.
  • The giggling madness and excitement at 5 a.m. in the morning on the bus ride to Staten Island.

  • Forcing down a peanut butter bagel and coffee down without gagging.

  • 4 hours of waiting, in the cold, with constant butterflies in my stomach.
  • Porta-Potties... stinky, smelly, nasty, dirty, porta-potties.
  • Being asked by two girls to take a picture of them and finding out they are not only Italian, they are from my home town of Verona!
  • A surge of pride in my gut as I tied the race chip to my shoes (or as I watched Elizabeth tie the chip because my hands were too cold and twitchy)...
  • Snipers at the start line. Huh?
  • Final freak-out.

  • The sound of that cannon blast at 10:08am.
  • Seeing the first wave of runners on the Verrazano bridge, and feeling the crowd around me explode.

  • Everyone discarding the extra layers of clothes (don't worry, they are sent to charity).
  • Crossing that start line... finally.
  • The calm quiet on the bridge, with only the noise of thumping feet and breathing accompanying us.
  • Catching the first glimpse of the City's skyline, visualizing the route ahead and that finish line in Central Park.
  • Being surprised at how quickly mile 1-2-3-4 zipped by.
  • People along the route, holding up signs in memory of Ryan Shay.
  • Turning onto 4th Avenue in Brooklyn and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people shouting and cheering us on.

  • Seeing Kari and then Matt on the sidelines on 4th Ave.
  • Constantly hearing "GO AMY! GO ELIZABETH!" being shouted by complete strangers and every time in completely different accents.
  • Seeing Gillian run by us with a great big smile on her face.
  • Seeing Mallory as we approached Atlantic Avenue and then nearly bumping into Ramin's giant lens.
  • Seeing Mom, Dad, Shamim, Sharim, Matisse, Ash, Naishon, Neda for the first time - TNT caps, cow bells and all.
  • Being totally surprised by seeing Sahba, Kapono and then Lucas in Clinton Hill.
  • Making the wise decision of turning on our iPods at about mile 10.
  • The odd feeling of running in a music video - loud music in your ear and people mouthing words at you around you, but you can't hear what they are saying.
  • Andrea Bocelli at mile 11 (sorry, the video is just cheesy, but it's just about the song really).
  • Bumping into yet another "Veronese" - running his first marathon at 60 years of age. He tells me "Now that I'm nearly half way there, I think I'll be able to finish". I'm inspired.
  • Feeling a sudden and unexpected bolt of pain in my lower back and knowing immediately that it would be with me till the finish line. It was.
  • Approaching mile 13 and the halfway point.

  • An awful mile 14 in Queens - dead, silent, empty industrial area. No one cheering us on.
  • Looking for Alex and Shamim Maani as we approached the 59th Street Bridge and being blown away by seeing our family and friends there as well!
  • Getting rid of my camera.
  • The pitch black lower level of 59th Street Bridge - mostly uphill.
  • The madness of First Avenue.
  • Josh&Sophie spotting us in the crowd, screaming and running after us.
  • Seeing Shamim et al, again, eagerly awaiting us.
  • Mile 18 and 19 flying by thanks to the buzz on First Avenue.
  • The Bronx, the drums, the temptation of a pretzel and thankfully the quick return to Manhattan.
  • Stomach pain at the thought of another Gu, Marathon Jelly Bean or Fruit Gusher.
  • The physical inability of downing any more Gatorade.
  • A tingling feeling in my arms, hands and fingers that I just can't shake away.
  • The beeping sound of the check point as we cross the 35km post.
  • Finally being back on 5th Avenue and at the same time basking in the crowds and trying to drown out the noise from my head.
  • Being refused Tylenol at the medical station and consequently being on the verge of tears.
  • Hearing Elizabeth mumbling prayers to herself and me, praying silently in my head that I can make it through.
  • The excruciating length of miles 22 and 23.
  • Coach Christine running up to me, grabbing me a Gatorade, talking me through the rest of the course, telling me the entrance to Central Park is just a few blocks up and then, well then... "You're nearly home".
  • The curve into Central Park - tears stinging me eyes, and struggling to choke them back.
  • Shamim on the side line, walking as fast as we are running, shouting something about jacuzzi and slush puppies.
  • Seeing our cheering team on the side line -- Sharim, Neda and mom running beside us.
  • 59th street - an insane amount of people cheering.
  • Elizabeth speeding up, and me, begging her in my head to slow down, just please, for God's sake, slow down.
  • Re-entering the park at Columbus Circle and seeing ourselves on the jumbo screen.
  • The sudden realization that it's nearly over, that I can actually SEE the finish line.
  • The "100 yards left" sign.
  • Sprinting.
  • Crossing that finish line, stopping bent over and just sobbing because it's really, really over.
  • Realizing that both Elizabeth and I are smiling and crying and in shock.
  • Swearing on all things holy that I will never, EVER run a marathon again.
  • Walking ahead, getting our medal and blanket, posing for pictures and then starting the long long long walk to the trucks to collect our stuff.
  • Seeing coach Steve, getting a big hug and then walking some more.
  • And then, more walking.
  • Exiting the park, finally ... and seeing family and friends.
  • The long ride home on the subway.
  • The fully-clothed, teeth chattering, ice bath I had to take.
  • Food. Finally, real, good, proper food.
  • The excruciating pain in my back, legs and feet.
  • The fact that I made it to the end with all my toe nails intact.
  • The amazing feeling of accomplishment that is still pushing strong, getting me through the pain which is also, still, lingering. Can I have some more drugs please?
So, in a couple of months, when that urge hits, to do something mad, here is a list of alternatives that I might like to consider, you know, just because I do have options, and really, who needs to run 3 marathons anyhow? So I could, for example...
  • Learn a new language.
  • Make all the recipes in my cook books, like these ladies are trying to do.
  • Weave a carpet.
  • Watch all the Star Wars movies back to back (as you once did with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended edition).
  • Read and memorize the Bible, cover to cover. Or the Kitab-i-Iqan.
  • Do a triathlon (wait a second...?)
But these are just a few ideas...there are hundreds of other things I can think of.
For anyone still reading this - there are more pictures here and here.

two-time marathoner

Monday, November 5, 2007

I cannot believe it's over, and I finished. I ran those whole 26.2 miles. It was amazing, and awful, and painful, and emotional, and exciting, and exhilarating, and stressful, all at the same time. I will take some time later this week to post some pictures and to write down some thoughts about the race before the memory starts to fade (I've been jotting down points in my trusty moleskine note book), but for now I just wanted to say that you can see some pictures here (thank you R&M) and you can see my results here.
Thank you Elizabeth, for being by my side throughout the race. There is no way I could have done this alone.
And thanks to every single one of you that cheered us on from the sidelines, through phone calls, emails, text messages, prayers, positive thoughts and more. We felt your support every step of the way.

I think she's losing it...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Today is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday. Sunday IS MARATHON DAY. I'm stressing out. I feel aches and pains everywhere, I'm convinced I have a fever, a sore throat, or at the very least some kind of virus. I have permanent butterflies in my stomach. OH MY GOD I AM RUNNING THE NYC MARATHON ON SUNDAY. Forgive the break down, but do you see how long that thing is? THAT LINE? I AM RUNNING THAT WHOLE LINE!

As you can probably tell, I'm losing it. Thankfully I've got supporters in town. Support is good. Very good. So
if you are in the big apple and feel like coming out and cheering us on on Sunday morning, come out and show the love!
Elizabeth put together some good tips for spectators, so you might find this info useful:
  • We will be wearing purple tank tops that say Team in Training on them. That is the group we trained with and fund-raised for--an affiliate of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Even if you don't see us, please cheer for our purple-clad teammates!
  • You can find the course map here -- so you can see where we will be going. Mile markers are identified but unfortunately streets are not, so here are some potentially good spots to watch from:
    • BROOKLYN: Anywhere on 4th Avenue--we basically run all the way up it from 90th St. to Flatbush (miles 3 to 8), or on Bedford at 7th Street (about mile 11).
    • QUEENS: Just south of the Queensboro Bridge on Crescent St. (mile 15)
    • MANHATTAN : 1st Ave between 59th Street and about 125th Street (miles 16 to 19.5).
    • BRONX: Around 132nd St. and Willis Ave (mile 20)
    • MANHATTAN AGAIN : 5th Ave. from about 130th St. to 90th street (miles 21 to 23)--then the runners enter Central Park and circle the southern end of the park to finish on the west side on West Drive and 65th Street.
    • FINISH LINE: It can get pretty crowded at the finish line and you might not be able to see us cross it, but if you want to try it's inside the park, on the west side, right next to Tavern on the Green.We plan to run the entirety of the course on the RIGHT side of the road (from the runner's point of view).
  • We plan to run the entirety of the course on the RIGHT side of the road (from the runner's point of view).
  • When you see us run past, we'll probably just give you a smile and thumbs up (saving energy for those later miles)--but know that on the inside we are jumping up and down with excitement because it is thrilling to have you all out there supporting us!
  • New York Road Runners offers the option to sign up for email alerts – this means you will get an email sent to you every couple of miles to update you as to our position. If you are interested in this, please send me an email with your preferred email address and we can sign you up! It's a great way to track us!
  • You can also find the official spectator's guide to the Marathon here.
  • Finally, a heads up that the streets will get pretty crowded on marathon day, especially in Manhattan on 1st Ave. and near Central Park. Leave yourself extra time if you're planning on walking anywhere in that area! Fortunately for everyone, we run slowly, so the crowds may have thinned out a bit by the time we get into the later miles.
See you on the other side!!!!