Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Welcoming A New Household Member

Last minute shootings, big production in Los Angeles, audit moved to next year...lots to catch up on when I catch my breath...but just wanted to give you all some exciting news in the meantime.

We rescued one of the many little kitties from our Long Island City 'hood. Here is the little boy who was living down the street in a concrete lot...Booboo has a new friend. She is yet to be thrilled about him, but hope springs eternal. His name is Thelonious as in Monk, aka Little Guy, aka Street Kid, aka Hood Rat. He is very very "street" & wild but he is also a mush kitten at 5mos old.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Attempts at Audit Survival

Years ago, the first time an envelope arrived with a return address from the IRS, I panicked- turned out to be estimated tax payment vouchers. I learned to stop panicking because they kept sending me innocuous information letters, vouchers, etc. So when yet another nondescript letter from the IRS arrived two weeks ago, I didn't even open it. There it sat on my desk for a few days, unopened without any air of urgency.

Let's call it my October surprise (yay that there was none for the election this year- whew!), but yes, when I finally got to that letter on very last day of October, I was pretty damn shocked. It stated that I had been selected for an IRS examination. Yes kiddies, that meant the most dreaded thing ever, an audit (cue in screams & shrieking banshees). Not particularly surprised considering how bad the economy is, makes sense that the government is trying to find money wherever they can. Those of us who are self-employed are at much higher risks for audits. Well, I paid a lot of freaking taxes for the year that I am being audited- they are going to be sorry that they picked me because I have decided that the IRS will probably end up owing me money when that audit comes in four weeks. Paws crossed!

How am I preparing for my audit? After calling my accountant in a state of sheer distress and then digging up paperwork from 2yrs ago, it was time to sort through and basically recreate my financial life for 2006. With some sage advice from Fcat (who went through this yrs ago), "Focus, be methodical, not emotional." (oh that was good!), I was ready to get to it.

Well, I would have been ready if I wasn't in the midst of a hellish shoot where I was still frantically casting for models and about to start a huge casting on another big project shooting soon. Not good to be audited, but much worse when you are completely swamped...

So after ordering a 2006 moleskine date book from Ebay, because I should have been keeping a business journal all this time...off to ashtanga for some balance. Stress affects your body in unimaginable ways, I was so tightly wound & off balance- it was as if I had never practiced yoga before, but I was able to get through the grueling feel-good class. Next stop had to be Whole Foods...where vegan goodies, stress-relief mist, sandalwood oil for centering and a vial of Hornbeam from Bach's Original Flower Essences awaited- this stuff is fascinating.

There are 38 Bach Flower Essences and all are quite specific. The Hornbeam label reads:
"Restores energy when you are mentally weary, procrastinate and doubt your ability to face the task ahead." Hey, that's me with audit & work! Bach's Rescue Remedy was a life-saver for both Booboo & I during the move, so there's no doubt the flower essences work. I've been taking the Hornbeam daily and seems to be working.
Here are my audit necessities:
I love me some vegan rugelach.
And since I am officially stressed, I have allowed myself a little too much vegan junk food...like my new fave, Kettle Death Valley Chipotle Chips and glazed blueberry donut holes from Nutrilicious, also available at Whole Foods- love that big Vegan sign where the vegan desserts are!
Let's see yummy delicious catering at the shoots not quite hitting the spot since it wasn't so veg friendly this time called for my lovely assistant to run downstairs to Two Boots Pizza for their vegan "Earth Mother" slice- yummy garlicky saucey slice on sicilian crust without any cheese. It's really good despite the bad pic.

It hasn't been a junk fest everyday, I did make some swiss chard ala V'Con in peanut oil & sesame that was extremely tasty with quinoa, Field Roast apple sage sausages & roasted butternut squash.
How about something not junk but still comforting like swiss chard & pinenuts pasta- so satisfying...got to get those carbs in.
Exciting things besides nasty audit letters come through the mail too, like my order of V-Pure Omega 3's- the only veg omega 3's with both DHA & EPA. It was back ordered on Vegan Essentials and the other online veg shop sites, so I bought direct from the source Water4Life
not thrilled about the shipping from overseas part, but started taking it the other day and waiting to see if I feel any differently.
Lastly, everyone should take on more than they can chew- in the midst of the crazy work project and audit, there are the strays that live down the block from us in a lot that I worry about on a saily basis. They are young cats and my bff has decided to rescue one and hopefully, with a whole lot of coaxing, Fcat & I will also welcome a rescued Booboo friend. The cutest thing is that the two that are the friendliest are apparently best-friends and my bff & I had spoken of them separately & had no idea that they were best-friends. Will try to get better pics and wish us luck that we catch them soon!
Okay, forging ahead and back to audit prep. Hope everyone is well and will try to visit blogs when I take a breather!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008...Anxious Much?

As you can see, Booboo is waiting for election results and yes, she will be waiting on the edge of the bed all day until this evening, hoping to celebrate her candidate's win once those Eastern swing states close...she is much calmer than I am to say the least. She wasn't even born yet when we had an election stolen from us- the heartache & depression that followed, I think NYC was ready for secession after that loss...paws & fingers crossed that all goes smoothly this year.

Election anxiety aside, I have been blessed to have a ton of castings & shoots going on. Giant casting sessions can be hard work, so I definitely need a sugary pick me up! My new favorite, I-hearts-it-the-most vegan cookie is The Essential Cookie from Cindy Klotz Productions- 100% vegan and sold in delis around NYC. The ingredients are all natural and just the tastiest cookie around. I know two delis that carry the cookie that usually don't even carry vegan products. Hurray!
Other ways to quell election anxieties? Food. My other new love is the cutest little place in Greenpoint, Brooklyn: Papacitos Brooklyn- Mexican Street Food & Beer Garden. They have a great vegan selection!
My favorite: Grilled Seitan Asada Burrito...yes, I say OMG, it's so damn tasty...
Pictures do the tastiness no justice. My bff & her husband took me- we biked over from LIC to Greenpoint just over the Pulaski Bridge. I was a nervous nelly on the bike because I have never biked in the city ever (except as a kid around the block, doesn't count...), but it was all worth it and the traffic was almost nonexistent. Get there whatever way you can for that seitan asada...
Except for the occasional foray out, we have been quite good about cooking at home- a fabulous kitchen with fancy appliances does make it much more enticing...made a brunch of baked tofu scramble with broccoli, FYH Monterey Jack, peppers & onions with a side of roasted fingerlings.
Fcat made a delicious kale, portobello, tomato pasta. Hands down, he makes the best pasta dishes. We have been cooking while watching talking heads go at it dissecting everything from percentage points to Bradley Effect to "You Bet'cha" (oh don't get me started on that...). Love watching the pundits talk it up.
Tonight, will settle back & have Purely Delicious Coconut Milk Line- Mint Chip on a cone...so good.
Looking forward to tonight and watching it all come together. Praying for the best and at worst would consider moving to Canada or Italy...hope springs eternal.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Order Amidst The Chaos

In these days filled with economic anxieties & dread, we need order in this chaotic din. Days of random worry call for some discipline. Discipline focuses the scattered mind to ground itself like a big old slap in the panicked face. Whatever order we are able to bring into our daily lives should bring us a sense of calm, right? well, that's the case at least in my anally retentive brain...

I will be embracing self-discipline in various aspects- first & foremost, fiscal discipline but also exercising physical discipline by literally exercising. That means getting my procrastinating behind to ashtanga yoga which happens to also be a very precise & disciplined yoga form. I am also imposing some much needed blog discipline which means that I plan to blog every Monday & Friday. Life functions better with some order in place...

Living with Fcat, an orderly Virgo, really does bring more order into this chaotic world...over the last few weeks, Fcat has made us the most wonderful storage- making the most of what little closet space we have. I am so thrilled & proud of his handiwork that I have to share with everyone. Fcat built this great closet for our pantry & miscellaneous things like the toolbox & vacuum.
Here Fcat rigged some Ikea pullouts to fit our fancy cabinets. The Ikea ones were a lot less expensive and works well here for a spice drawer...
There is a method to the madness, the lower pullout drawer holds dishcloths, colanders & veggie washing bowls- this is adjacent to the sink for quick & easy access.
Fcat turned our tiny coat closet with one sad rack into two racks with shelves & room for my luggage underneath.
Fcat also designed & built a lovely closet for us via the Container Store. The Booboo storage above & below the shelves are temporary, but she doesn't know it yet...
And here is simply the accessories & film closet which holds just that-my shoes & bags & Fcat's film- oh and a few of his shoes at the very bottom corner...
We make a concerted effort to cook more & eat out less. With the farmer's market bounty just outside our building on Saturdays, we get lots of fruits & veggies at a good price.
I made stuffed poblanos with Lightlife Smart Ground and a yummy orzo quinoa blend from Trader Joe's. Taking the skin off the poblanos & then stuffing the cooked delicate peppers with without ripping them was so tedious, but the results were utterly delicious.
The farmer's market can easily inspire. There was gorgeous butternut squash and so we had yummy soup. I roasted the squash along with apples, garlic and onion. Then I hit it with the immersion blender & veggie broth, then topped it with apple slices, raw & fried-yum yum yum.
Also finally made the chickpea cutlets from VCon- yes, I know, I don't know what took me so long...but I am so glad I finally did.

Also made the spiced lentils with onions from VCon, surprisingly not so tasty but not so surprising because the recipe does not call for any salt which I didn't realize til much later- so added salt afterwards, but it was still strangely bland. The omission of salt was possibly a typo because there was also mention of blending in cloves but no cloves listed in the ingredients..strange. Anyway, was a bit disappointed by this one until I mixed up some hot peppers that I had marinating in sesame oil, molasses & liquid aminos- once that was in there, it was all good.
Other tasty delights, Japanese eggplant with a miso/molasses/sesame oil sauce that was pure deliciousness alongside roast fingerlings & kabocha squash...
On a beautiful brisk evening, Fcat & I took a walk down the block to the water. The bustling traffic raced down the FDR and the UN & Empire State glowed brightly. Despite the frenetic activity, the cityscape was calm and beautiful; order amidst the chaos.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sorted & Oriented

Like the box says, we are finally a bit more sorted & oriented than we were a two & a half months ago.

Yes, my dear friends- if you are still around, I am finally back. This is what I have learned in my long absence and have promised to shout it from the mountaintops: moving is indeed stressful!

I had no idea. Had I listened to Fcat and started packing earlier, I would have been a lot better off but I had nonchalantly poo-pooed any attempt on his part to get me started packing any earlier- citing that I lived in a studio apartment with two closets, which meant a lot less stuff thereby packing would take no time at all blah blah blah...oh how regretfully wrong I was. Yes that was definitely my fault waiting til the last minute and so not fun.

So yes I am to blame, but it's also just been a laundry list of crazy things beyond my control like getting our mortgage the day before the closing due to the sloppiness of mortgage coordinator- describing that as stressful is an understatement. What else, hmm, moving to grandma's last minute (moving before the real move) with Fcat & Booboo & all my things in tow was sheer insanity. Booboo's pure kitty panic, complete with panting for an one hr & meowing despair into the corners of every room was the worst- don't want to bore you with those details, but Booboo had just gone to the vet for oral surgery two weeks before, so this moving event just put her over the top.

In the face of all this, Bach's Rescue Remedy was a true life-saver. Basically, herbal flower essences as Xanax, good for pets & people. A drop on Booboo's nose & two spritzes in my mouth saved me in the midst of several nervous breakdowns, not to say that it was that fast-acting- took a a few days to kick in, but once it did all the random sobbing stopped and trust me, there was a ton of random sobbing when getting my old apartment renovated to be rented, random sobbing at new apartment that was getting prepped & painted, random sobbing at our temporary stay at grandmas...on the night before the final move to the new place, I reikied and with the rescue remedy full kicked in, everything went off as smooth as can be. Reiki & rescue remedy will always be the pre-req for any move we ever do again! I am never leaving home without it: www.rescueremedy.com

Through the tears & the anxiety, I did manage to squeeze in some smiles:
Had to make time to meetup whenever blog friends are in town! What a wonderful treat to meet Amanda & to see Bazu again. Happy brunch smiles after a yummy meal at Cafe Blossom on the Upper West Side -Amanda from Walking The Vegan Line and Bazu from Where's The Revolution.
It was also thrilling to find vegan sugar cones, I haven't had an ice cream cone since going vegan- trust me, I was way excited.
Fcat brough me a cupcake from S'Nice which went perfectly with a cold glass of soymilk. This helped ease the anxiety of "thinking" about packing, not actual packing mind you...

Booboo acclimated to grandma's in a day or two- once she got over her panic, she was loving the old house with tons of stairs & rooms & the possible the scent of mouse, just to remind you Booboo has always lived in a studio apartment...and then the real move to our new place, Booboo spent some time in the closet, mushed into a corner- it took her a week or so but she finally was out & about and was soon hard at work sitting in front of my computer. We had quite a few boxes to get through and it took us some time, after awhile I stopped seeing the boxes...but glad to say there are only boxes of books left waiting for shelves to be built!
Booboo had been spending the days squished into the closet corner because there were workers in and out & construction noise going on. She did come out to eat one meal a day & use the litterbox, but we suspected that she was out at night when it was quiet. Evidence of that were suspicious paw indentations on the couch every morning...
More smiles to be had when I discovered that Pain Quotidien had not only vegan bluberry muffins & soymilk, but vegan meal options like a black bean hummus plate- hurray! There are a few of these bakeshop/eateries in NYC and in Paris, so I know there's at least one other place to get soymilk in my coffee in Paris besides Starbuck's.
A much needed outing to the Greenmarket in Union Square where I discovered a vegan baked goods- yum yum yum.
A dreaded errand like returning the cable box & modem to Time Warner at 23rd street turned into a lovely excuse to stop by for delicious raw foods at Bonobo's. Coconut water, nutmeat salad and kale salad- that did my body good.

What was crazy is that finally my little sister, SKO moves to NYC and (yes, we helped her paint her room in the midst of our move...) I hadn't seen her in a weeks. So she and I had a lovely sojourn to Teany in the Lower East Side- scones for her & vegan beans & tomatoes on toast for me!
Can't be down on the Lower East Side for Teany and not stop by Babycakes for some vegan baked goodness like those brownie bites. They are just so damn good. I am way excited in this pic because I just picked up a vegan chipwich which I adored in my pregan days...well, the cookies that held the ice cream was delicious but the ice cream itself was was too heavy, almost like butter frosting that made me ill- not happy at all, but glad that they tried.
Fcat and I made the prerequisite visit to Ikea to look for some temporary counter stools, we decided to check out the Ikea in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The location was way too cool, felt like a different country...until we saw a guy with his pup in a bag at the subway, only in NYC do chihuahuas go to Ikea by subway.
Now that we are settling in, we are loving the our new 'hood. Our Long Island City neighborhood is called Hunter's Point and we just got our own whole foods-like supermarket called Food Cellar.
They have yummy vegan buffet offerings like soba noodles, vegan dumplings, seaweed salad and BBQ tofu.
They also carry quite a bit of vegan goodies like Sweet & Sara's Smores.
I got some gorgeous beets from Food Cellar and baked it in the oven for no-mess beet deliciousness.
The beets went into a salad with some heirloom tomatoes from the Greenmarket right outside our building every Saturdays til November. Also made some tofu & kale & quinoa for our very first cooked meal in our new fab kitchen. I love love love all the counter space.
Here's Fcat's first meal that he cooked- a tasty pasta dish.
We are thrilled with our new place and we absolutely love living in Long Island City. Can't wait to share more with all of you now that I am back in the swing of things...Have a great week!
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