Erin Zammett Ruddy - Author. Writer. Blogger. Survivor.
  • August 7th, 2020

    Here are the details:

    THE LITTLE BOOK OF LIFE SKILLS: Deal With Dinner, Manage Your Email, Make a Graceful Exit and 152 Other Expert Tricks coming September 15 from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette.

    The book is full of really useful, easy-to-implement how-to tips for streamlining your day and life. For each of the life skills in the book—which range from waking up and getting out the door on time to prioritizing your work day to supporting a friend through a tough time and…making a great cheeseboard—I spoke to top-of-their fields experts. I have Rachael Ray, Arianna Huffington, Hoda Kotb, Gretchen Rubin, Dr. Oz, Bobby Flay, Jim Kwik, Sarah Potempa, Jasmine Roth, Jimena Garcia, Hilton Carter and so many more giving their best advice to help us all stress less and enjoy this stuff more. I chose to focus on the simple skills that most of us need in an average day/week…because what’s the sense of learning how to host Thanksgiving or paint a bathroom if you don’t first know how to make your bed. These are the tasks that can make the biggest difference with the smallest adjustments, the things that we do over and over and over again but rarely stop to ask, “Wait, am I doing this right?” (Perhaps some of the daily to-dos we realized we could use a refresher on after being stuck at home for months!)

    I can’t wait for you guys to see it. You can pre-order a copy now which would, of course, be awesome. And it will be out September 15!

    Thanks!

     

     

  • March 17th, 2020

    You guys! It’s been a while and I apologize for my absence; I’ve been off the grid because I’ve been writing a book! It’s actually pretty much written (hooray!) and now I’m in the final stages of editing and gearing up for getting the word out about this baby. Here are the details:

    THE LITTLE BOOK OF LIFE SKILLS: How to Deal With Dinner, Manage Your Email, Make a Graceful Exit and 150 Other Expert Tricks for Doing Things Better.

    It’s being published September 15, 2020 by Grand Central Publishing (a division of Hachette) and I am so freaking excited.

    For the book I compiled 150 basic life skills, the things we all do day in and day out (making our beds, emptying the dishwasher, sending a work email, driving to the store, arguing with our partner, watering our plants) but rarely stop to say, “Wait, am I doing this right?”

    And I asked big-name, top-of-their fields experts to share their tips on doing those things more efficiently/with less stress, angst, cursing. I packaged their tips in super simple, easy-to-implement steps; little tweaks that anyone can make to have a big impact on your daily routine and overall well being. Because who doesn’t want to feel more on top of their game and less stress and frustration throughout the day?

    I have learned SO MUCH from researching and writing this book and I plan to be a fully functioning adult by the time it’s published. We will see! Can’t wait to share it with all of you. More info coming soon!

    xo,

    Erin

     

  • January 18th, 2018

     

     

     

    Below is an invite to a big fundraiser my family is throwing on Monday, January 29 to celebrate my 40th birthday. As some of you may know, I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was 23. At the time we didn’t know if I’d live to see 30, let alone 40, so needless to say we have a lot to celebrate. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I was able to get on a targeted therapy that had just been approved by the FDA. That drug brought the survival rate for my form of leukemia from 50 percent to 90 percent. I am definitely one of the lucky ones and have spent much of the last 16 years raising money and awareness for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the organization that helped fund the lifesaving medication I still take every day. I’m marking my milestone birthday by trying to raise $40,000 for cancer research—to fund more miracles so more patients can count themselves among the lucky ones.

    If you can join us for the event, that would be awesome (there will be great food, music, raffle and auction items and a top shelf open bar). If not, but you’d like to make a donation, that would also be awesome. You can read more about my story and buy tickets/make a donation here: http://bit.ly/2AtEV8X  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

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  • June 29th, 2016

    “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”—Isak Dinesen

    FullSizeRenderFor 31 years the Rusty Belles provided a short-cut to that cure for our entire family. A lot of sweat, a lot of time on the sea and, in the past few weeks, a lot of tears as we mourned the end of our incredible run. Less than 24 hours after her launch on Memorial Day weekend, a glitch with one of the stern lines on our new dock caused her to be held under as the tide rose. The image will be forever burned in my memory.

    We got her up and out quickly but the experts ultimately agreed it wasn’t worth putting in the time or money to get a 31-year-old boat (even one that was so impeccably maintained by my dad) seaworthy again. And so we had to say goodbye to our beloved Grady White. We are all devastated by the loss. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. It may seem silly to say, but the Rusty Belles was a part of our family. A big part. The glue, in fact. No matter what was going on in our lives, or where we were all living at the time—Knoxville, Boston, San Diego, New York City, England—we always found a way to get home and get out on the boat. Because once we were underway, everything else seemed to fade away. We could leave our worries in our wake, if only for a little while.

    We were out on the boat on September 12, 2001. We went out during the thick of our cancer treatments, we had big talks out there and celebrated anniversaries and birthdays and engagements on the water, brought all of our newborns for a ride, we water skied and tubed and clammed and barbecued and fished and camped out with friends and watched countless 4th of July firework shows and, perhaps my favorite memory of all, we danced to Paul Simon’s Graceland album under the spotlights as we drove back into the harbor so many summer nights when we were just little rusty belles.

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    Before she had a hard top or a name!

    Anyone who ever went out on the boat with us—and there are a lot of you—knows how special she was. And how much she will be missed. The Rusty Belles was our cure. Thank you to our parents for bringing her into our lives in 1986 and for raising us as boaters and for helping us raise our children as boaters. There is no greater joy, or solace or escape than being out on the water. And we will be back out there very soon. RIP, Rusty Belles.

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    June 15, 1986; The first season on the Rusty Belles

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    May 1, 2015; the last season on the Rusty Belles, with the original crew. We didn’t know it would be our last summer on the boat but fortunately we cherished every trip out there–and we always knew how lucky we were.

  • March 22nd, 2016

    FullSizeRenderLast year, my sister Melissa (a two-time hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor) got a chest X-ray for a particularly nasty cough, and her doctor saw a spot she didn’t like. She suggested Melissa go to Sloan Kettering to have her oncologist check it out, which sent Melissa into a major panic spiral. She called me right away, told me she was certain her cancer was back, then sent me this text late that night:

    “You should never go off your meds Erin. Maybe this is all happening so you understand how awful it is to always wonder when it’s going to come back. You are so lucky you take a pill to keep it away. I wish I could!”

    The spot turned out to be nothing—the oncologist took one look at the slide, knew it was scar tissue, and told Melissa not to worry. Still, it was a reality check. And a reminder that once you’ve received the call where your life comes screeching to a halt, you’re never quite the same. You get a whiff that something could be wrong and your mind immediately skips to “shit’s gonna hit the fan” mode because you’ve lost the ability to not assume the worst. Because the worst has happened before. In our case, more than once. I’ve tried to retrain my brain but it isn’t so easy.

    As you know, I went off my life-saving cancer medication despite Melissa’s plea. Last November I joined Sloan Kettering’s discontinuation trial to see if my remission will hold without treatment. I have been off Gleevec for four months—and am now in the exact place Melissa warned me about: Wondering if my cancer will come back. I’m particularly concerned since my last two blood tests were slightly positive (very slightly, which you can read about).

    Am I lying awake at night obsessing about the results or cataloging all the what-ifs and worst-case-scenarios? Not at all. Trust me, I already did that while I was weighing the pros and cons of joining the trial in the first place. Good times. As a writer, I often find myself thinking in headlines—usually the click-bait kind you see splashed across your homepage. The ones I drafted during my decision-making process: “Cancer survivor makes risky decision that costs her remission, possibly her life.” OR  “Mom of three dies of cancer…because she ‘didn’t feel like’ taking her medication anymore.” (I was writing a lot for Yahoo! at that time, what can I say?) I imagined my friends and family reading about me and it was almost too much to take. But that’s not where my head is now, I promise.

    Once I’d done all the research and officially joined the trial, I quieted those melodramatic voices. Truly, deeply, I do not feel like I’m putting my life in danger here. Nor do my doctors. As I said in a previous post, I don’t want my cancer to come back simply because I like how I feel off my medication and I don’t want to have to go back on it. But, of course, it’s more than that. It’s about feeling like a failure. Crazy, right? Well it’s not just about my own need to succeed, it’s that I don’t want to let down other CML patients who have been following my journey, hopeful that they may someday be able to enjoy a treatment-free remission. And I don’t want to let down all of you, the people who have been rooting for me for so many years. I put myself and my story out there in a major way and I don’t want to disappoint, or to look like a fool for trying. Even if the headline is a benign “No biggie, back on your pills you go” it will make me feel like I couldn’t hack it. Ridiculous, I know, but it is a biggie to me.

    And then there’s this: For the past decade or so, as test after test came back undetectable, I’ve felt like I don’t really have cancer. No one can find it! And if it starts to really come back, even though we can control it again no problem, it will be a reminder that I do have cancer, and, hey dipshit, cancer is serious so stay on your damn medication this time, OK? 

    My father, who was an air traffic controller in the 80s, always told me to “make a decision and make it work.” I have taken that advice on so many occasions. And I thought about it a lot when weighing the risks of stopping my medication. I made the decision and I have absolutely no regrets. But in this case “making it work” is out of my control and for a control freak like me, that just may be the scariest thing of all.

  • March 15th, 2016
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    Yes, I have Playboy magazine in my house. Also Splenda, apparently! But that trash is going in the trash right now.

    I stopped putting any kind of sweetener in my coffee when I was 20 years old but it wasn’t for health reasons. It’s because I was too hot. Seriously. It was the summer of 1999—I was living in New York City and interning at Playboy magazine. BEST SUMMER EVER but also one of the hottest on record (we’re using my records here—I’m not actually looking it up). Anyway, I lived with three other students in an apartment on Gramercy Park South—right next to the National Arts Club.  The Playboy offices were on Fifth and 57th—nearly 40 blocks away—but I usually walked to work because it was easier than learning how to use public transportation. Also, it seemed too hot to go underground.

    Every morning on my way uptown, I’d pick up a large coffee from a little deli a few blocks north of my apartment. I liked my coffee with skim milk and sugar and at this place they put the milk in for you. But you had to do the sugar yourself on a tiny table with other sweaty people sweetening their coffees. Seems simple enough and yet that one extra step turned me into a literal hot mess—and this is before the term hot mess even existed. After a few thick, 80-degree days of fumbling around with my work bag, my shoe bag, my sunglasses, a steaming cup of coffee, my still-wet hair stuck to the sweat already dripping down my neck, I just said %&*@ it and stopped putting the sugar in**. And I never looked back. I had intended to look back but once I got used to the unsweetened stuff—it happened quickly—I completely lost my taste for sugary drinks. 17 years later, I still just put a splash of milk (whole now) in my coffee and nothing else. Thank you, Playboy!

    I’m sharing this anecdote with you as an intro to the news about Splenda (I could have just said SPLENDA IS GONNA KILL YOU! like some other blogs but dropping in that I used to work at Playboy seemed way more fun). The Splenda news, which you may have already seen: In a recent study, researchers found that the sweetener (in high doses) caused leukemia in mice. Given my history with that particular disease I was particularly disturbed. I have family members who can’t live without Splenda and I’d like them to do just that—live…without it. More testing has to be done, of course, and Splenda is fighting back saying their chemically-made sweetener is totally fine, of course, but…I’m dubious. This is not the first time Splenda has been called out and it probably won’t be the last.

    Please follow the story as it develops. Even if the leukemia stuff turns out to be a false alarm, maybe use it to rethink what you put into your daily drink—and to read labels more closely. Splenda (and other sugar substitutes) can be found in A LOT of processed foods and drinks, marketed as “healthy” or “low calorie.” As with most things in life, if something sounds too good to be true—a chemically-made sugar substitute, zero-calorie anything—it probably is.  The good news: if you like your coffee or tea sweet there are many great natural options. Now that I’m off Gleevec I’m taking a closer look at everything I put into my body and will be writing more about that here. You’ve been warned ;)

    **This was pre iced-coffee craze otherwise I would have stayed cool by ordering an iced latte and still sweetening it–probably switching to Splenda at some point and probably would have had leukemia by now. Oh wait….

    P.S.  Working at Playboy was the best experience ever ever ever. Ask me about it sometime!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • March 2nd, 2016
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    Have I mentioned I hate getting my blood drawn? Even after all these years I have to look away when the needle comes out.

    As many of you know, I’ve been off my life-saving cancer medication since November. You can read all about that decision—and why I’m not nuts—in the feature I wrote for Dr. Oz’s The Good Life magazine. Quick recap: I’m enrolled in Sloan Kettering’s discontinuation trial for chronic myelogenous leukemia patients who’ve achieved a deep and lasting remission on Gleevec or other Gleevec-like drugs. Researchers believe that certain patients, like me, may be able to maintain longterm remission without popping their daily pills, achieving what they call “treatment-free remission.” Will we be cured? Well…that’s tough to say. With CML there is likely always going to be some cancer cells lingering. But the thinking is that whatever low levels remain will be too weak to rise up. Or possibly (and I find this fascinating) that our immune systems have kicked in and will control any resistant leukemia, like a vaccine.

    Here’s how Michael Mauro, my beloved doctor of 14 years and the one heading up the trial at Sloan, explains it: “CML at diagnosis is like a fast car with a full tank of gas right at your doorstep and it just wants to go. CML in deep molecular remission is the hull of that car with no engine and no gas and it’s far away. You might be able to see it but with time you realize it’s not going to go anywhere.”

    The problem is when you see cancer, even if it’s not going to bother you, it still bothers you. Particularly when you’re not taking your medication anymore. I’ve been off for three months now and, as part of the trial protocol, have had three major blood tests. The first one came back negative. Wahoo! The last two came back ever-so-slightly positive. Dr. Mauro and I mostly communicate over text and email—and sometimes just in emojis ;-) . It’s a shorthand we’ve developed over years of him relaying near-constant test results that never required explanation. Because they were always negative. When my phone rang and his number popped up last month and again last week, I knew it meant there was explanation needed. My heart sank, of course. And, full disclosure, I cried when he said, “so, it wasn’t undetectable….” “Undetectable” is the gold standard for CML patients—it means, quite literally, that they couldn’t detect the cancer. Fuller disclosure: I also said a few internal F-words. But wait—before you feel bad for me or worry about me (please don’t!), the news isn’t bad! In the words of Biggie Smalls, I went from negative to positive and it’s still all good. Seriously.

    The positives we’re talking about are .001 in January and .0008 in February. I realize those numbers will only really mean something to my CML friends, but anyone can see they are super low. And way below the point where I would get kicked out of the trial and have to start Gleevec again. (That number is .1, which, P.S., is still way below any danger zone.) And, as you can see, the number went down from January to February. That said, it could go back up next month and still mean nothing. Here’s the thing that’s hard to grasp: It is entirely normal for CML patients in a deep, safe remission to fluctuate from positive to negative, sort of skipping along that undetectable line like a stone on the surface of the water. I haven’t told many people about my results because, as you can see, all of this is way too hard to say in a Facebook post—and if not explained correctly would set off alarm bells that don’t need to be rung.

    Dr. Mauro is not worried. He says I do not have to worry. Am I not worrying? I’m trying my best. His explanation helps: “The numbers are so low they wouldn’t even be detectable on most tests in the U.S. You are a victim of really good technology!” As part of the trial, we’re shipping my blood sample to Seattle where it’s being run on the most sensitive equipment out there—meaning it’s able to find those residual cells where other tests couldn’t. These numbers don’t mean my cancer is coming back, it means on those given days with those given samples, the test succeeded in finding some leukemia. Leukemia that has always been there. 

    Does it mean I’m in the clear for good? No. Could those residual cells still stage a come back? Sure. Anyone who’s dealt with cancer knows that anything is possible. But here’s the important thing: I’m not concerned about my cancer coming back because I fear we won’t be able to get it under control. That is really far outside the realm of possibility, I promise. As all of the other stoppage trials have proven, if my cancer gets above that .1 threshold and I have to go back on Gleevec, it will work again and I will be fine. I’m going to repeat that for my mom: I will be fine. I’m mostly anxious about those numbers creeping up because I don’t want to have to start taking my pills again. Because I LOVE being off treatment. I’ll elaborate on that in another post but it boils down to the fact that I feel better physically and mentally and emotionally. Who wouldn’t want to hang on to that? My next blood test is in three weeks and I am hopeful. Truly. Yes, seeing those numbers has been annoying but hopefully that’s all they are. That damn hollowed-out jalopy sitting on the horizon trying to freak me out. I’m not going to let it. You shouldn’t either.

  • January 28th, 2015
    Making good use of all that snow...

    Making good use of all that snow…

    When your kids experience their first snow day, it’s pretty special. You hunker down and get pumped right along with them. No school! Let’s eat everything in sight! Where are the sleds?! Yay for cozy family time! It brings you back to when you were little and snow days were a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, not part of the Common Core curriculum like they seem to be now. My kids are so used to school being canceled that if there’s more than a dusting when they wake up they just assume–and start demanding hot cocoa. And when the novelty has worn off as it has in my family (we’re on our third in a row here on Long Island) you may go through what I like to call the five stages of a snow day…

    1. Denial. “They’re definitely going to have school tomorrow, right?” you ask your spouse the night before, even as the weather people use words like “nightmarish,” “treacherous,” and “do not go out unless you have to” to describe the morning commute.  You check The Weather Channel incessantly. You look to Jim Cantore for some sign that it’s all going to blow right past you. As the snow starts dumping down, you see cars slide around in front of your house and think, “well, the bus could definitely handle that hill. I mean, why would they cancel school?”

    2. Anger. You get the robocall at 5 a.m. And then the email. And then the text. Why the $^*&# do they do this? Despite your best attempt at number one, you and everyone else knew they were going to call it so why couldn’t they have done so at a human hour? Your brain scrolls through the list of all the things you will not get accomplished today and your heart begins to race.

    3. Bargaining. Your kids wake up at 7 a.m. and immediately want to go outside. But it’s 8 degrees and blowing like a sonofabitch out there. You negotiate. You make up chores. You have your seven-year-old feed your one-year-old so you can go to the bathroom alone, but then your five-year-old storms in asking if she can have a cookie for breakfast (because her brother already did). You let them play Doc McStuffins with all the BandAids in the house while you get breakfast made and immediately regret it. You beg them to entertain themselves but it’s a losing battle because it says right there in the kid code of snow day conduct: “you will not be able to entertain yourselves for more than 30 seconds at a time alldaylong.” You hear yourself say things like, “I will give you a cookie as soon as you brush your teeth.”

    4. Depression. It’s only 11 a.m. but your kids are already bored. You find a video they made on the iPad made up entirely of different words for poop, including that one and you feel like a terrible mother. After bundling them up to play outside, they last 10 minutes before one of them bangs on the door in boogery tears and the other turns a scary shade of frostbite. They’ve built forts using all the blankets and couch cushions in the house and decorated your entire kitchen with stick-figure art. You’ve stepped on Legos and Barbie limbs and an old grilled cheese the baby found, sampled then discarded. They do not want to watch TV, despite the fact that you spent $5.99 to rent The Boxtrolls. They start fighting over things like who saw the bigger icicle out the window. They ask questions like, “Mom, can you die when you’re in heaven?” and “I know how baby’s come out but how do they get in?!” and, the most disturbing: “How do you spell sexy?” You’ve cleaned your kitchen for the eighth time but now it’s time for lunch. You start to feel trapped. You wonder if spring will ever come. You think about Global Warming and fear you might cry.

    5. Acceptance. You catch your seven-year-old watching a show called “Pit Bulls and Parolees” on Animal Planet and realize it’s game over. Screw it, you are officially not getting any work done today and the house is going to remain a total sty. You have a dance party with your kids to inappropriate Top 40 music and remain unfazed when your five-year-old busts out every word to Shake it Off (you’re also not stressing about the fact that you kind of love a Taylor Swift song). Let’s make banana bread! Oh, the hot chocolate spilled all over the floor?! It’s OK, it’s a snow day! Yes, I want to build a snowman. Yes, we can go sledding at the golf course even though there are four million people there and it’s still only 9 degrees. Yes, to cookies for lunch. How about a side of ice cream? You text photos of the fun to your mom friends with captions like “is it happy hour yet?” You are in the trenches and you’re going with it. You might even break out the damn Easy Bake Oven you’d been considering returning to the North Pole.

    And then, at five o’clock, the bonus stage kicks in, the one you’ve been waiting for all day: Intoxication. If you’ve made it this far without pouring yourself something adult, now’s the time. And if they’ve already canceled school for tomorrow, make it a double.

    *A VERSION OF THIS WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED LAST YEAR ON YAHOO SHINE, WHICH SADLY NO LONGER EXISTS. THANKS TO THE BLIZZARD OF THE CENTURY, I DECIDED TO REPOST HERE.

  • August 26th, 2014
    Gotta love a good feetie

    Gotta love a good feetie

    Earlier this summer I wrote a feature for the August issue of Redbook on how not to sabotage your vacation. One of the main saboteurs, of course, is staying too connected to our devices. In the piece I covered how to avoid getting sucked into work emails and tricks for honoring your out-of-office status but also the importance of taking in the scenery not just tweeting photos of it. One of the experts I spoke with—Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D, a psychologist at Stanford University and author of The Willpower Instinct—felt strongly about not having a camera in hand the whole trip. “Part of the joy of a vacation will be savoring it later on so taking pictures is OK but limit it,” she said. “People mis-experience things by trying to document them.”

    And here’s her kicker: If you’re truly looking to disconnect, don’t post photos publicly right away. “Give yourself an embargo on your photos and share them when you get home,” she said. “Then it’s part of the savoring experience instead of interfering with the direct experience.” She added that you don’t want to be scrolling through your phone at night to see if people liked your sunset selfie. “That’s a pretty toxic process,” she said. Especially if how many likes you got—or didn’t get—will affect your mood.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like being connected. I like social media. I am not a facebook hater. If you’re reading this you likely follow me so you know I am an avid oversharer. I post vacation photos and I enjoy looking at friends’ vacation photos. But since I’d done all this research and wrote a story about it I figured I should actually take the advice I was spewing. So last week while I was on vacation with my family I didn’t share anything on social media. The place we stayed—out on the North Fork of Long Island—had wonky wifi and no cell service so that encouraged me, too. And you know what? It was pretty freeing to leave my phone in the room most days and to never say to my husband “Do you like this photo? Should I post it?”

    It’s hard to resist hitting share, I get it. Especially when we sit in our offices day in and day out seeing shots of our friends with their toes in the water and their asses in the sand. We scroll through the requisite “feeties” (see mine above, which I took for the sole purpose of this post) and drool at the food-and-umbrella drink shots. When we’re finally in our own heavenly locale, we want our moment in the sun. Of course that competitive, braggy mindset is not why you should be posting things on facebook in the first place. McGonigal mentioned research showing that if you engage in social media with that intention it actually makes people like you less (there’s a beach in France that has banned selfies for that reason).

    I am certainly not accusing any of my friends (or myself) of this type of motivation. And I know there are plenty of people who post quickly and never think twice again, typos be damned. That said, I do have some overthinking tendencies when it comes to what I post and the point of the vacation was to think less so this little experiment was perfect for me. Does it mean I’ll never upload another shot from vacation again? Heck no. Does it mean I don’t want to see your ass-in-the-sand photos? Definitely not! Keep ‘em coming! It makes me happy–not a hater–to see beautiful locales pop up in my newsfeed.  But it was a pretty cool experience for me to be off the social media grid for a while.

    I didn’t post and I didn’t look at anyone else’s posts for six days straight which allowed me to be completely present with my family. This was especially helpful since having three kids on vacation requires a lot of presence (and patience). I’ll be the first to admit that I’m sometimes distracted by my device and the second I look down at my phone, all hell breaks loose. Or all three swarm around me like gnats. But as long as I’m engaged with them or looking in their general direction, my kids tend to be cool. Cooler than they would be if I were examining my bathing suit photos for cellulite or scrolling through ALS bucket challenge videos. At the very least, this taught me to be more mindful of my technology use and for that I’m grateful. And now, stay tuned for a ton of vacation photos that will  feel really old since they were taken last week….

     

  • August 12th, 2014
    Cruising by the Huntington Harbor lighthouse always tops my list

    Cruising by the Huntington Harbor lighthouse always tops my list

    You may have noticed some chatter about “the end of summer.” My friends in the south have already sent their kids back to school and posted the requisite first-day photos on facebook. That crazy Halloween catalog arrived last week (yes, Nora wants to be Elsa). Pottery Barn is so desperate for me to buy monogrammed backpacks for my kids that they email me three times a day. I suppose it all makes sense since it is mid-August but here on the north shore of beautiful Long Island (and in my semi-delusional mind) we are still in the thick of the lazy days. With no end in sight if I shut my eyes really tight.

    There are many years, I’ll admit, when I am big-time ready for September to get here. Last year I wrote an ode to the end of the summer with versus like: “Goodbye oppressive heat and goodbye grilled processed meat. Goodbye crickets, goodbye sand. And goodbye to the ice cream man who I really can’t stand.” But this year is different. There are some obvious reasons: We’ve had gorgeous weather—not too hot, not too humid, very little rain (I’ve rocked the glorious flip-flops-shorts-hooded sweatshirt combo many nights) and the simple fact that I’m not pregnant. But there’s also been some special seasonal stuff that I want to highlight here—many have links, so check them out before it’s too late! Here goes…

    Paddle boarding, sunsets, swimming (in the ocean, the sound, the bay, the pool), staying too late at the beach, Swallow restaurant: Hate the name, love the food (and the chef). They serve only small plates and they’re all delish. My recent order: skate wing with chorizo, clams in curry broth and pork buns—wow! Next: Eating outside on my new deck. We have a pretty small kitchen which we eventually want to redo but in the meantime, we put a deck off of it which has transformed our living space and made dining al fresco a daily occurrence. Iced lattes (I run on Dunkin, not Starbucks in case you’re wondering). Skinny Pop Popcorn. I buy the jumbo bags at Costco and always have it close at hand. Sometimes I dip it in hummus. I know you can eat popcorn in the fall too but this is a new snack obsession–and great for the beach–so I’m including here.

    Watching Nora learn how to dive, watching Alex reel in big fish—then happily cook and eat them. Watching both of them boogie board in the ocean, watching Molly eat sand (really, I’ve come to adore it). Robert Moses. Despite living only 40 minutes from this gorgeous south shore beach, this is the first summer we’ve frequented it as a family. And thanks to a surfer friend’s tip, we know where to go to avoid the crowds. We’ve even taken our paddle board and paddled in the ocean waves which is intense but amazing.

    My Havaianas. Spin classes at Breakaway Fitness. More on that place soon but nothing rights the ship better than an hour of fun jams and sweating so much I have to clean the floor after. I’m in love. Running on the road (instead of a treadmill) and shamelessly listening to Katy Perry. Running longer distances than I thought I could—or would ever want to do.

    Greenport, NY. I went out there for a girls’ weekend in July; heading out there again with the fam. We have a reservation at North Fork Table and Inn for dinner one night (sans kids) and I can’t wait. Never been! I also want to try to get back to The Frisky Oyster (um, also sans kids since they don’t allow them!) and to Bedell Cellars for some wine tasting and live music.  We’ll see…

    American Ninja Warrior. The bar is set pretty low when it comes to summer TV and I rarely tube out but I can’t help watching those crazy people try to summit mount wanttohockalugey or whatever it’s called. I did also binge watch season 1 of Below Deck on Bravo and it is the best thing I’ve experienced in a long, long time. And by best I mean it’s trash but the really good kind. Mazzar Grill, a new middle-eastern kebab takeout place that makes everything fresh to order and everything I’ve tried is fantastic. The Purple Elephant, Kerber’s Farm (check out my friend’s story on them—then definitely check them out before they stop serving their delish lobster rolls and roasted corn), drinks at Prime (what can I say, I’m like a fly to the light with that place).

    My garden, of course, which has provided us with an abundance of fresh and delicious produce for the past few months (created by the fabulous Elizabeth Rexer Leonard of Earl’s Kitchen Gardens). The highlights: Enough garlic to get us through fall and zucchini the size of baseball bats because I always forget to harvest them before they get huge. This zucchini bread, which is about the unhealthiest thing you can do to a zucchini but man is a treat.

    The Northport Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. I go because Imperial Empanadas (my brother-in-law’s company) is there. I stay because of the view of the harbor and the laid back vibe and Nina’s Fresh Batch Granola (I get the pistachio golden raisin), Blind Bat Brewery and pickles, which the kids get on sticks to snack on while we’re perusing the goods.

    OK, I do realize that the majority of this list seems to be food related. First, I don’t go out to eat that much but when I do I make it count and the places above are the places I go. Second, there is lots of exercise and fresh air sprinkled in throughout, I swear! I have also worked a ton the past few months (for Redbook, Glamour, Dr. Oz’s The Good Life and the no-longer-with-us Yahoo Shine, which I feel kind of lost without) but that’s not what this post is about. Or what this summer has been about! Hope yours has been lovely too and that you plan to see it through to the bitter end like me. Which, PS, isn’t technically until September 21 so we really do have time to pack in more good times. Enjoy!

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