The Early Arrival of Gabriel Xavier Witek

My last post left off at the 3rd Trimester. In true Brielle fashion, even with the best plan in place, nothing went according to it. I’m convinced life has to be dramatic for me otherwise I will never learn or be as grateful as I am for what I have. Life doesn’t give us what we want. It gives us what we need. In my case it was a little boy named Gabriel Xavier Witek.

Chapter 1: The 3rdTrimester (that never happened)

I had the shortest pregnancy. Remember, I didn’t know I was pregnant for the first trimester, suffered tremendously during the second with gestational diabetes, a thyroid issue, endometriosis, preeclampsia, sciatica, feet that were swollen beyond belief (I won’t horrify you with those pictures), inability to walk 2 blocks without getting out of breath, cystic acne and weight gain on a 5-foot frame that was very painful. I guarantee Gabriel realized I was not the vessel he needed, took the necessary nutrients and decided he was going to take his chances and come early.

On June 31stmy mother and I visited my father at the nursing home. We were having a lovely Italian lunch and watching Ronaldo play (how does he always find his way into my life – haha). Keith and I joke now that it was him that caused my pre-mature labor.

I developed awful cramps and decided to just get back to Jersey City so I was at my home base.

Long story short, I wound up in the ER at Jersey City Medical, my water was ruptured, I was in labor and having the baby within 48 hours, took the epidermal like a champ (didn’t even feel it), they got my skyrocketing blood pressure under control and my son was born early (surprise) on July 1stat 12:46am. He was only 3lbs and 2.5 months early.

 

Looking back at everything that happened, it really feels like a dream. I don’t think Keith or I fully grasped what was happening. We were going through the motions not necessarily feeling the emotions because everything happened so quickly and there was a lot at stake. In the end, Gabriel proved to be the toughest guy I know and is thriving. He has shown me true courage and strength and for that I not only love, but have the deepest respect for the him. Here is our story:

Chapter 2: The NICU

I had no idea what a NICU was until Gabriel came into this world. The NICU [pronounced NICK-you] is a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Gabriel was high risk because he was so early. He lived in an incubator for almost 2.5 months. The NICU road is bumpy and, frankly, scary. Whether your baby is in critical condition or just needs to grow a bit more it’s a vulnerable time for parents. Gabriel had a ton of tubes, wires, needles – you name it, plugged into him.

Everything needed to be monitored to ensure he could breath and develop. We visited him every single day without fail and let me tell you, just sitting there watching him and praying for hours at end was exhausting. Knowing I had little control over the circumstances and could only watch and wait killed me emotionally. What I did to help me get through was compile a NICU survival tip check list for parents that find themselves in similar situations.

  • Be a presence. Make yourself known. Introduce yourself to the doctors and nurses and even to the orderlies and desk attendants. Make sure they know which baby yours is. It’s human nature to feel more accountable if one is feeling accountable. You want the medical staff to know that your baby has actual parents who will want to keep up on the progress. The best decision we made was to have one of us there for the doctors’ rounds each morning so we could meet with the actual doctors and discuss how Gabriel was doing.
  • Do not move into the NICU. Your baby is likely in an incubator, which presumably reminds him/her of exactly one place: the womb. The temperature in an incubator mimics that of the womb, and smaller babies are even given eye coverings. YOUR BABY WILL NOT KNOW IF YOU SLEEP AT HOME OR KEEP BEDSIDE VIGIL. So go to sleep in your own bed, whether during the day or at night and do not feel guilty. Trade off shifts with your spouse or go there together a few times a day. But make sure to ground yourself in your own house or room. Look at it this way, you are getting something few postpartum mothers get: time in your own home, your own shower, your own bed, and with someone else caring for your baby. Spending at least a few hours a day on your own turf will make you feel like yourself. I realize some mothers resist this because they don’t want their babies to bond with the nurses instead of them, but I looked at those nurses as his second mothers. They cared for him in ways I didn’t know how to and provided him the resources he needed to survive. They also patiently taught me how to change a diaper, feed… basic things that I wasn’t comfortable with on my own. I owe them so much and will be forever grateful to them.
  • Your baby knows you. Your voice and smell are intimately familiar to your baby; he’ll know who you are.

  • Accept offers of help. If friends and family offer to make dinner, say yes. I was surprised (and blessed) that many of my friends and family came to support us without us even asking. Their love and encouragement during a really uncertain and scary time will never be forgotten. Keith and I are the luckiest to have our framily.
  • Familiarize yourself with your baby’s care and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I have no medical background at all and the array of monitors and medical terms can be confusing. If the nurse tells you that “his pulse is 96” and this sounds like a foreign language, stop the nurse and ask what this means. Clarity is key, and don’t be afraid to advocate for your child.
  • Don’t be afraid of your baby. Many new mothers are afraid they’ll ‘break’ their little ones; this anxiety increases tenfold when your little one is tiny and/or hooked up to monitors. Be assured that the nurses would not let you handle your baby or leave the room if they didn’t think you could handle it. In fact, most NICUs encourage “kangaroo care,” which consists of putting your undressed baby on your bare chest for skin time. This is of great benefit to the baby, and again, you would not be given the opportunity to do this if the baby were not well enough.
  • Take advantage of the education offered. At our NICU, the nurses were extremely focused on parent education. We learned how to feed, burp, change and bathe. We took Gabriel’s temperature and (sorry) learned what normal stools looked like. Everything. I’m very grateful for this; I even took some phone tutorial videos! There is a wealth of knowledge there. Embrace it.
  • You will experience a post-NICU guilt: You’ll find yourself thinking things like, “Since I didn’t hold my baby much during the first 2.5 months of his life, I must now pick him up at every whimper.” Resist this. This might be enjoyable at first, but trust me: it becomes less and less enjoyable. Your baby is now home with you; anytime he needs something, you’ll be there. But if he needs to learn to sleep on his own or suck on a pacifier, now is the time for that too. Your baby is now able to have a normal home-life.
  • Remember, we are human and worry so don’t freak out about the parent anxiety. It’s real, just remember and repeat after me: a team of doctors have unequivocally determined that your baby is ok enough to be home. You have discharge instructions, the internet, common sense, but above all, this unimaginable love that will get you through.

Chapter 3: The Shower

Our Combo 10-Year Wedding Anniversary and Baby Shower still happened even though Gabriel was already in the world. It was a beautiful day with family and friends – so much so that we forgot to take pictures. Thank goodness for friend’s cameras. The outpouring of love and generosity was overwhelming.

 

We were blessed to receive all our registry items and had a hell of a time trying to figure out where to put everything.

   

Another thing I learned from all this is to absolutely register, but there are certain items that are mission critical and others that are simply nice to have. Your baby will also determine what they like so don’t be disheartened if certain things are/aren’t working. Just from my experience here are my top 10 items that I cannot live without – all can be found on amazon.com

Chapter 4: Brielle’s Top 10 Life Saving Baby Items

  • A travel stroller set (thanks Mom). We are fans of the Uppa Baby Vista. Many mom friends have validated, the reviews are terrific, my mom generously got it for us, and I have tested it every single day! I love it.

 

 

  • Great Diaper Bag (find one you are comfortable with and that fits your style) with Insert Organzier (thanks Mel)

 

*Listen to any recommendations from mothers and fathers you trust. They have experienced it firsthand. If it worked for them, it most likely will work for you! The timing of Gabriel’s birth was terrific because all my closest friends have kids/are having kids so we can relate and speak the baby language together. This support system was invaluable.

Chapter 5: GXW Comes Home

Gabriel started his life as a critical care patient and worked his way out of the NICU in a little over 2 months.

On Friday, August 24th he was discharged. By the way, he was early…again. Now my son, Rambo and I have ‘coming home anniversaries’. We ordered pizza that night to celebrate…typical of us.

  

On a side note to all of this, I was very lucky that work/my boss accommodated this unique situation. I was able to take my 6 weeks disability immediately after birth which allowed me to be with him in the NICU. I went back to work August month so I could be home when he was home and had my official maternity leave Sept. 1 – today, Nov 26th. It flew by but I realize how important and necessary this time is to bond with your newborn. While the tasks aren’t hard, they are tedious, tiring, all hours and sometimes so simple you feel like your brain is turning to jelly. Late nights, crying fits, insecurities of being a new parent, etc. There were definitely very low moments and some post partum depressive scenarios, but that is not what I’m focusing this post on.

Chapter 6: The Adventures

I am adamant about Gabriel being social. He wasn’t allowed visitors for the first 2 weeks home because of germs, but once he was cleared, we made it a point to do a daily ‘adventure’ whether it be grocery shopping, family/friend visits (which we had a ton of and it was so much fun for him to meet everyone), coffee talk time, shopping, lunch dates, errands… anything to get him out, give me practice on getting him out (all the gear!) and keeping us both sane.

  

 

There were many epic fails and survival mode moments. To start, the lack of sleep beats you up big time. I thought I could function with my over a decade training of partying, late night road crew moments, traveling around the world, etc. This was nothing compared to lack of sleep due to a newborn.

  

You are in pure zombie mode and becoming delirious is real. The cry-fests at 3am and then every 2-3 hours after causes insanity at times. But you just repeat, This too shall pass. Once you think it will never end, things change/get better and you move to a new ‘stage.’ Next up: teething, potty training, day care…

We were advised to do tummy time with him over the course of an hour each day to strengthen his back and neck muscles. What does Gabriel do? Stretches, does a superman for a hot second, and passes out. It was and is very hysterical.

   

We were able to get him to one Rutgers game to meet the crew. He had his own parking spot in our beloved purple lot tailgate and insisted we bring champagne to celebrate.

 

In the midst of all this maternity activity, we had to get our floors in the condo completely redone due to a flood. What a fiasco with a newborn. Thankfully I was able to stay with my mom who did an incredible job helping me with Gabriel and Rambo, and joining us on daily ‘adventure’ activities.

 

We also had to baby proof the condo. Thank goodness for professionals as they educated me on things I never would have thought of. We gated our precious bar area to keep it safe from the little man. Those are very valuable items and took years to accumulate.

There were some really priceless moments like when Rambo met his little brother. This picture melts my heart.

Rambo continues to be very protective watching over him during tummy time, and when he sleeps. He follows me around to make sure Gabriel is ok and takes strolls with us. He also snuggled Gabriel’s NICU blanket.

  

We enjoyed our first snowfall recently. Gabriel was exhausted when we got back home.

 

In the past month, Gabriel has gotten even more expressive. People have called me an emoji. I guess I passed that onto him. No poker face whatsoever. That prison looking picture in the upper left is me as a baby in Korea. I have a mini-me.

  

…and he’s vocal. I have convinced myself we are having conversations. Every morning we discuss what we are grateful for and the goals of the day. Yes I’m sure you must think I’m absurd but it’s part of our bonding moments.

Keith and Gabriel truly enjoy watching the morning news together. And college football.

Keith and I began a ‘date night’ tradition since we got married 10 years ago, and were determined to continue with Gabriel. It’s currently evolved into a new type of bottle service and we have to include him, but it’s been fun to have him join in good food, drinks and broadway show tunes.

His first Halloween was so much fun. We celebrated at the Jersey City Medical Center Annual NICU party for all the graduates. He went as Superman because he really is our little super hero.

On actual Halloween Day he had some costume changes. In tribute to my favorite band, Queen, and the movie that was released around the same time, he started the day as Freddie Mercy, and ended as Captain America. Rambo assumed the role of Super Pug.

 

We recently celebrated Thanksgiving. He visited my sister, Nicole, who passed away in 2011 this time of year.

There are always bittersweet memories associated with this holiday, but this year there was a lot of joy because it was not only Gabriel’s first, but we were able to celebrate with both families: The Caruso’s and The Witek’s. We all survived so I’d say it was a success!

With Christmas approaching, Gabriel had to visit Santa. We discovered the Express Line at Short Hills Mall (amen!). What did Gabriel do? Slept.Through.Everything. Some kids scream, some kids cry. Mine couldn’t be bothered.

  

Chapter 7: The Weight

Unfortunately I was unable to breast feed. Here’s a shot of my breastfeeding graveyard, which I donated to a dear friend.

I had all the gear and pumped for 6 weeks before throwing in the towel. My valiant effort resulted in 2 tear drops of fluid. So sad. Because of this, I also have not lost the baby weight as quickly as I hoped for. Breast feeding burns 800 calories a day. I, also, swear my fat cells have a mind of their own. This is how I feel.

  

Chapter 8: Divide and Conquer

I don’t know how people can parent alone. It’s a production, requires all your time and energy and quite honestly is an exhausting experience. I wouldn’t have had a child if I didn’t think Keith would be a responsible, helpful father but he turned out to be a super hero. Because of Gabriel’s early birth, I worked the month of August. Gabriel came home a week before my 2nd maternity leave. Keith stepped up and was Mr. Mom handling the changing, feeding, and newborn activity. Now that I am returning to work, he took the month of December off to watch Gabriel until day care begins in January. He’s proven to be an exceptional and doting father that wears Gabriel’s spit up like a little badge. Watching him interact and seeing how Gabriel is enamored by him melts my heart. All of this reiterates that I made the right decision choosing him to be my partner in crime. There have been bumps in the road but we remain a team and I cannot wait to raise this little nugget with the greatest man I know. (Love you Keith even though you aren’t even on social media and probably won’t read this.)

Chapter 9: What’s Next?

So today is the last day of my maternity leave. What a year. My son has taught me so many more crucial life lessons in the 6 months than I learned in my 37 years.

  • Feeling good is finally feeling comfortable being ourselves in our messy, perfectly imperfect lives.

  • Real luxuries are turning ordinary experiences into treats. A shower, a non-rushed meal, a full night’s sleep…
  • Life happens and you can let it beat you down and break you, or you can heal yourself by refusing to belittle yourself and recognize how strong you actually are.
  • Accept your quirks entirely and sincerely. They are solely your own and make you you.
  • The old you might not be charming anymore. You have evolved and it’s ok. And maybe (gasp) embarking on an odyssey of moderation and simplicity is the next step.
  • You will post pics of your kid on social media.

  • Your kid is annoying and will drive you nuts, but maybe they have the potential to be a superstar?! See a resemblance?

  • You are not perfect and will annoy your kid. I had to dress him up like the Where the Wild Things Are character.

  • Never expect perfect circumstances. Use what’s at your disposal to keep moving forward. Take a tip from MacGyver and learn to make the best of the situation with the tools you’ve got. Especially the ones in your diaper bag!
  • I had a misalignment of priorities and got stuck. Having a kid forces you to re-evaluate everything. It’s not about you anymore.

  • We are good enough. We just need more practice at times. Instead of thinking ‘I have to be better’ change it to ‘I will do my absolute best today.’

It has been one hell of a journey and chapter of my (and Keith and Rambo’s) life. I am excited for this next installment: the work-life balance. I believe it’s possible to have a fulfilling career, marriage/partnership, friendship, family time, be a mom, maintain emotional and spiritual health, travel and still be a spitfire. This will be an ongoing challenge as life changes and you have to maneuver with it, but I hope to surrender to how dynamic life can be and embrace that no day is the same and we have the ability to just make the most of it.

I truly believe you only learn by actually experiencing something. I’ve often asked why has so much happened in my life? Maybe it’s to fully understand life circumstances, successes and tragedies first hand so I can be a better person for others. I know that is why I had and will have this experience with Gabriel. I feel blessed for the love and support I received during this journey. I simultaneously feel a little ashamed that I wasn’t always there for other moms. It was partially due to the fact that I was not equipped but I also didn’t understand the dynamics and challenges of motherhood. I am going to learn from this and not make certain assumptions or judgements. You never know what others are going through and should show compassion and support, and pay it forward when/if you can.

And I’ll end this with the adventures of being a parent are super scary and exciting. Every day is like a clue, not a conclusion. There are no black and white scenarios to this. It’s all gray territory where gnarly, messy, fabulous truths exist. If you keep your heart and mind open and your expectations reasonable, the outcome will be remarkable.

@Gabriel, I want you to live a life of originality, confidence and authenticity. You will always be legendary in my, Keith’s and Rambo’s eyes. I can’t wait for the rest of our life together. Thanks for helping me write this post.

Love,

Brielle

 

 

Should Brielle Caruso Have a Baby?

Should Brielle Caruso Have a Baby?

Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are solely my own, and based on my personal experience.

I always put myself in the camp of “I am not having a baby” Why have one? I’ve lived a very independent life, consciously made and owned up to my good/bad choices, had epic failures and successes and worked very hard to create a life that made me happy.

I’m an overly detailed, slightly neurotic, decisive, out-spoken, organized control freak. Why do something of such uncertainty?

This decision wasn’t based on religious or family obligations. I’m very fortunate my husband, Keith, and my parents never pressured me because if you know me, when people provide their unsolicited opinions or tell me what to do, I tend to retaliate, shut them out and do the complete opposite – very mature, I know.

You told me what?!

But one day, the question of Why not have a baby arose? Is there something that everyone else seems to know that I don’t?

In classic Brielle form, I made a list of everything I worried about:

  • Finances: Kids are expensive and I like to have control over my money and how I spend it.

Items Munchkin Must Have

  • Time: For me, this is the greatest currency. I use all 525,600 minutes of the year as wisely and efficiently as possible.
  • Sleep: I don’t get enough now and somehow function. How will I function on less? And, Keith and Rambo love sleeping, too.

  • Love: I love Keith because I want him, I don’t need him. He’s a complement to my crazy and he chooses me every day, too. It’s a joint decision to be with each other. Do I really want someone depending on me?

  • What If:  I don’t like this kid?

We always joked this is what we’d produce – recognize those facial expressions?

  • What If: We become parents that fall off the face of the earth and never see friends again?
  • Work: How will this impact work? I truly love my job. As crazy as it can be, it brings me joy and I’m so grateful to be in the role I’m in. I don’t like when things/circumstances take me away from it.

Munchkin’s picture is on my desk

  • Physical: I am not a baby vessel by any stretch. I have hypertension, scoliosis, osteoporosis, endometriosis, Keith thinks I have sleep apnea, I have the worse sinuses (it’s the flat nose) and my intolerance to lactose is up there. I’m also 4’11’’ without shoes, so additional weight on my joints is killer. I do have a high tolerance for pain though. Last year I walked around with 4 broken ribs and didn’t know it.
  • Retiring: My 17 year old belly ring.

It was removed May 18, 2018

  • Eliminating that glass of wine or champagne: I personally don’t see a problem with a glass  every once in a blue moon, however eliminating liquor was the one thing Keith asked me to do.

Keith has to drink for both of us.

  • Fear of Missing Out On…. My late teens and 20’s were the party, accumulate material goods and beginning of travel years. I was also in the best shape of my life. I was doing everything with no set direction.

  • My 30’s were when I started to focus on career, relationships, realizing what to be grateful for. I was humbled by my sister’s death and other family circumstances. I literally travelled around the world and saw new cultures and ways of living I had no idea existed. Truly the best education I ever received. I learned how to fall in love with life again.

  • Now that I’m closer to 40 than 30, I had to ask myself: What was the next life discovery/adventure to embark on?

I went through this list with Keith and he simply looked at me and said, it would be nice to create someone with you. I love you, and we could teach them a lot. In that moment, all my lists and trying to rationalize this went out the door. For the first time in my life, I felt mentally ready to embark on this unknown journey with a partner that I trusted and knew would support me through it.

This journey, as expected, was unexpected and certainly didn’t turn out the way I planned. I am blessed to have a little boy arriving this Sept who I have nicknamed ‘Munchkin’ cause he has me loving dessert and all things sweet (like him!).

Note: I suck at pregnancy. There is no way around it. It’s not pleasant, I’m constantly uncomfortable, the swollenness – baked bread feet and cankles –  lack of sleep and snoring like a bear, heartburn, gas, epic exhaustion, pregnancy brain (it’s so real, and if I don’t write it down I’ll completely forget), joint and back pain, and just feeling like my body is out of my control has been a real challenge to adjust to. I love to live fast and furious and run at rapid paces. Gone are those days till he arrives. Munchkin is the only man that can tire me out. That’s how I know this was meant to be.

What I really look like pregnant. Not a pretty site. 

How I wish I felt

First Trimester

Skipped through it completely. Sounds crazy but I didn’t know. I had an ectopic pregnancy in November and had to remove my right fallopian tube in an emergency surgery. I had post-surgery symptoms and no actual pregnancy symptoms the following months, coupled with personal family issues that distracted me. It wasn’t until I was in Miami in March for work that I got terribly ill and ran through tests to discover that I was almost 3 months pregnant. I almost fell off my doctor’s table in shock.

The look on my face when I found out

It also dawned on me that this little guy had been to LA, Miami, Montreal, Savannah and Paris before I knew. Lucky well-traveled kid!

Second Trimester

“Experts” say this is when you feel vibrant and alive. Not me. Thankfully I had no morning sickness and my cravings were for desserts which I never eat, but the level of fatigue, mind fog and swollenness hit hard. I also learned I had a thyroid issue in addition to my other ailments. I literally felt like my body was just breaking in every way. Actually, I had a small fracture (again) in my right foot in May. Everything took longer – thinking, breathing, physical activity. The struggle is real. It sounds completely vain, but seeing my body change made me feel so unattractive and unlovable. I am not one of those beautiful, vibrant, glowing pregnant women you see in pictures. Why couldn’t I be like them?

How I wish I looked

 

The reality – I’m really trying to look decent

I think Keith is having physical sympathy pains

Another big change occurred in May. We realized it was probably a smart idea to get a car. Keith was all about a Suburu for safety. I can’t believe we own a car…All of these changes are for the greater good, though.

Coming out of my second trimester, I am in awe and admiration of every single woman that has gone through this – biological, adoptive, foster, spiritual, communal. Women are so strong because this is a physical and emotional experience in every way possible.

Third Trimester

The final chapter. Admittedly, I’m scared of how I will manage physically this summer. My goal is to simplify, not stress and ensure that Munchkin gets all he needs before he arrives into this world. I keep repeating “Move slower to go faster” and “Respect your limits.”

Keith and my 10 Year Wedding Anniversary Party has morphed into a combination with Munchkin’s Shower. Excited for that celebration with our loved ones.

I have been beyond blessed to have fellow mothers and friends help with registry items – the necessities – keep it simple! The love and support I have received has been tremendous and I know that it will get me through these remaining 3 months. My framily is one of the things I am most grateful for in life. Home stretch.

So, after 6 months, what has pregnancy taught me?

  • Rushing through life is a surefire way to miss the gifts that only come when you are aware and give 100% of yourself to.
  • Pregnancy tired is unlike anything I’ve experienced

  • Never say never and always is not always right.
  • Waddling is real.

  • Challenging moments generate positive outcomes. I hate the gym and eating clean, but it makes me healthy. All my business, family, friendship and life failures have led to a better understanding of what I needed to do to be successful. The pain of honest confrontations with my insecurities, weakness, anxieties and limitations generated a stronger version of me and gave me perseverance and courage to continue and truly be grateful for the life I have. It’s given me a humility that I am thankful for.
  • You are defined by what you struggle for. Stairs have become my nemesis. I see them, take a deep breath and pray to sweet baby Jesus I’ll make it

During our Babymoon in Greece I had to climb these rocks to get to the restaurant. Keith’s caption: Have you see Old Bri Kenobe?

  • We don’t always control what happens to us, but we always control how we interpret it and how we respond.
  • I really gave up liquor. Miracles happen.

  • Every child begins the world again.

  • The heartburn / integestion is real.

  • The weight gain is real.

  • Munchkin loves all sweets, pizza, lobster pasta, steak, hamburgers, chicken gyros, fruits and most veggies. He does not like Chinese and Vietnamese food (no Pho! I’m so sad) and sausage.

At more than my halfway point in this pregnancy, I am not trying to out-pain any other woman that has experienced this. If anything, I have spent 37 years of my life measuring myself against many of my old values. This experience is frightfully beautiful. It’s made me re-learn life, change priorities, change my metrics of what love, happiness and success is. I feel completely uncomfortable and that’s exciting because it means a wonderful change is coming and I will soon be in a place far more important and worthy of my time, energy and love. Life really is about not knowing and just doing it anyway.

So, Munchkin, I am not going to be perfect at this thing called Motherhood. I’m sorry for the million mistakes I will make, but I promise that my actions will come from a place of love and respect and I will do my best to give you a better life than I had and impart whatever knowledge I have to make you a good man that I know will change the world for the better.

I hope you have a great sense of humor, a taste for adventure, a healthy glow. I hope you keep your mind and heart open, have confidence, but balance it with humility. If you’re a product of Keith and I, I suspect you will have a hearty appetite, a deep intuition and have smart-ass comebacks with a little taste for wanting to be center of attention. You will have a presence, a quick wit, and a beautiful soul. You will know who you are and not pretend to be anything else because you will have principles and values.

I know with all my heart you will transform my, Keith and Rambo’s life in ways we never knew possible and we will have the permission to live a new life through your innocent and precious eyes.

Happiness and true love, I believe, comes from caring about something greater than yourself and somehow believing you can still contribute to it.  Keith and I love you and can’t wait to begin this adventure when we see you in person come September.

 

PS: Rambo can’t wait to be a big brother.

2017: A Year In Review

The key takeaway from 2017 – NOTHING MAKES SENSE!

Everything I thought would happen didn’t, and the unexpected – good and bad – happened in full force!


The Different Moods of 2017

This is how I started the year feeling. I was all over the place.

By mid-year this mood kicked in…

And by the end, this is exactly where I’m at (thanks Suzy).

BLC Communications

I landed what would be my favorite consulting gig at MKTG in Q1…creative and passionate people and a very fun project to work on. How many times do you see branded soda machines with adorable little super hero characters?

A Return to Moet Hennessy 

I worked at Moet Hennessy, USA in my twenties. What a ride! I began on the Hennessy brand, worked on 10 Cane Rum, Glenmorangie Scotch, and Belvedere Vodka. I left to work at Serralles, USA and eventually opened my own consulting firm but had the amazing opportunity to return as the Hennessy V.S Brand Director. Going back to where it all started….

I got to join in the ranks of these extraordinary folks.

My first day was my birthday, March 27th, and I must say it was pretty amazing. The day started in Las Vegas with a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon and VCP Champagne. A pretty incredible way to meet my team.

There was an amazing trip to Cognac to see the Hennessy distillery and experience the history first hand.

I even had the privilege to meet Roch Hennessy.

…and see the archives.

Back on US Soil, I organized a team building day at the DogPound where we boxed out our aggressions. Yes, I have a boot on…

I also had the honor of participating in the launch of Hennessy V.S Limited Edition with Jon One.

Had another fantastic trip to Champagne in June. I’m still in the boot!

And in the summer I enjoyed an educational market visit to Florida.

By the end of the summer, I moved into the role of Experiential Marketing Director for the Hennessy Portfolio.

In November, I was thrilled to have Hennessy participate in Hopeland’s annual gala. The organization finds loving homes for children, a cause very close to my heart.

Year end dinners were celebratory, although some were bittersweet as some people left the Moet Hennessy family.

And I had the great fortune of closing out the year with the Hennessy team at our delicious holiday lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant in NY, Carbone.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

My best friend, Linda, had her fabulous NY Bachelorette Party in March and we danced the night away! (Eddie the Eagle?)

She married Adam Ponsi in April and her wedding was epic on every level. Linda, thank you for making me your made of honor. It was my honor to be by your side! Love you.

*Food*

The story of my life…

Keith and I experienced the chicken parm pizza at Quality Italian with Cristina + Ralph Racanelli. We loved it so much we went back with Linda and Adam.

Can’t say enough about the bagel at Nur. This was a delicious experience with Linda and John.

Who says you can’t have it all? Champagne, pizza and a pierogi!

4 Charles’ 40oz Prime Rib – MEAT, MEAT, MEAT!

Discovered the best duck in NY at Decoy (thanks Orit!)

Although I love Carbone, there is nothing like a home cooked Italian meal with homemade red sauce. Cristina, thank you for this amazing meal.

Ayurvedic Cuisine at Divya’s with Orit.

I had my 2 extraordinary moms – Karen + Diane – come together for a cook off where they made their famous recipes and I took a ton of notes! The output = 3 days worth of delicious meals my dad got to taste test.

The Grill – Keith and my 9 year wedding Anniversary meal.

Beyond proud of Simon Kim, my brother from another (Korean) mother. What a tremendous year. He closed Piora, opened Cote, won another Michelin star, had a baby girl and serves some of the best steak I’ve ever tasted.

Pu Pu Platters and Wonton Soup with sliced pork. The way it’s supposed to be.

The NoMad’s Chicken with Cooper.

Hillstone – Trish and John 🙂

Emmy’s: Burger, Detroit-style pizza and the rice krispy treat dessert.

Love useful food pairings!

I’d like the dover sole. He’ll have the branzino…

My Family: Keith and Rambo

Rambo and Paulie – Grumpy old men.

Our trip to Aruba. We didn’t get to do a lot of personal travel this year but this vacation was so relaxing and a good mid-year reset.

Keith and I continue our broadway nights where we usually start with wine, then move to champagne, then scotch and if ambitious tequila. Over the course of 5 hours, we sing all our favorite show tunes, dance around our apartment with Rambo, or if warm, sing on our balcony. We usually end with an order from our local 24 hour diner.

Keith’s Bday with polish cuisine.

Rocking out at Linda and Adam’s wedding!

Date night for my 36th birthday.

Keith’s Christmas Decor – Disco lights in the apartment surrounded by ‘spirits’

My handsome 13 year old dog child.

Our annual holiday tradition of fancy cocktails in our favorite NY Hotels. He still fits in his tux from our wedding (9 years ago) and I rocked my mom’s dress (the one that as a daughter I use to think she was a princess in).

Rutgers Tailgating and Football

Yeah, we’re still tailgating with the greatest crew.

Things That Made Me Smile in 2017

Leaf cookies, walkman (felt like Star Lord), the baby boys, and this Christmas card.

Love you, mean it!

JLC.

Being able to work and play in this extraordinary city.

The JC Crew.

Powered by Pizza!

The ability to leave freezing NY for sunny Miami.

The BNBs.

Housewarming Parties.

Coffee & Wine.

The Eclipse.

The DogPound – best workout on the planet.

The Caruso’s – this was quite a Q4 for my family but it was a reminder that you will do anything for your loved ones. I truly have the craziest, but most amazing parents. And Nicole, we just need you to continue to watch over us.

The Witek’s – I am truly blessed to have such supportive and loving in-laws. Thank you for all your help this year.

What I Learned

Because I’m an obsessive, hyper-detailed type A personality, I had quite a wake up call this year. I questioned the way I was leading my life and what I was prioritizing. Was what I considered success a few years ago ‘success’ now? By conventional definitions, you could say I was successful but when you had a year filled with health mishaps – 4 broken ribs and a broken left foot forcing me to wear a very sexy (insert sarcastic face) boot for 4 months, 2 ER trips for my hypertension, and a surgery, I would say I didn’t feel that way.


I will admit, up to the age of thirty, I needed conventional successes to create structure. After thirty, everything I’ve learned has been from failure, rejection, humility, and vulnerability. I think that’s how your soul expands. Admittedly, I don’t always like it, but I realize the acceptance and perhaps surrendering to it makes me realize how strong I actually am.

There were a few key learnings I took away this year that I hope in my sharing helps you.

  • Sometimes you need to simply listen.

  • When people become multi sensory, they become more aware. That’s why I love traveling to new places because it forces me to engage all my senses and I actually feel more alive and alert, no longer operating on auto-pilot.
  • It never hurts to see the good in someone. They often act better because of it. Make people feel valued, seen, heard, and treat them with reverence and respect. You will bring out the best in them.
  • There is power in vulnerability and trust.
  • We live in a scarcity culture – nothing is enough. We are not good enough. We are not thin enough. We are not safe enough. I challenge that now. I think we have enough if we allow ourselves to enjoy the moment

  • It’s ok to surrender to the hurt, loss, resentment and disappointment. Accept it because it did happen, and now it’s done.
  • The energy we put out is the energy we get back – the law of attraction.
  • Get rid of the disease to please. Not worth it cause you’re never going to make everyone happy. You must make yourself happy.
  • You are in control of 2 things: how to prepare for what might happen and how to respond to what just happened.
  • Success is being healthy, living a life you admire and finding inner peace.
  • When I have a comparison moment, I now ask: What am I trying to prove, to whom and for what?
  • Nothing Makes Sense 

My hopes for 2018

I have a lot of ambitions for 2018 and hope for a healthy, balanced year.

introduce

I don’t want to let a moment pass without my acknowledgement and full experience of it. I plan to stay mindful, grateful and hope to entertain, enlighten and uplift those around me. #3QT

Stay inspired and cheers to 2018.

Love,

Brielle

8 Delicious Gluten Free Recipes from Positive Health Wellness

It’s been almost half a year since I’ve posted. So naturally, what do I write about? FOOD! The love for all forms of consumption continues, but I have learned there needs to be a balance.

In an effort to find delicious recipes that are easy to make, I came across a great site: Positive Health Wellness.

Not only does the site address diet + nutrition / recipes, it includes beauty, fitness and pain relief advise. It’s a great resource.

Back to the food…. Here are 8 delicious, unique, gluten-free recipes that will be a hit at any social function! I just made the pineapple and ginger pavlova. It certainly satisfied my sweet tooth!

Enjoy and #stayinspired!

Guide to Charleston, South Carolina

This post is dedicated to Jonathan Libutti. He fueled my interest to visit this city and I am forever grateful for the recommendations he gave me.

The food has a distinct flavor, the weather is warm, and the people are charming. Charleston has been voted best city in the U.S. numerous times in numerous publications and secured #1 in the world in Travel and Leisure. So what is it about this city that beats New York, Paris, Hong Kong and the other behemoths?

1) The Lowcountry Cuisine: Charleston’s restaurant scene is gaining national attention for its distinctly southern flavors, uniquely modern restaurants, and talented newcomer chefs. Local ingredients have always been a point of pride for area restaurants, and in recent years Charleston’s finest have rallied behind a standard of using only fresh, locally sourced foods. Charleston is known for comfort foods with a Gullah influence, and famous for such dishes as Shrimp and Grits and She-crab soup.

2)  Historic Homes: Early in Charleston’s history, the city collected property tax on the street width of the house, rather than the length, creating a preference for the long, narrow houses that are signature Charleston style homes today.  Almost every home on Charleston’s peninsula is historic. Beautifully colored antebellum mansion homes can be found on East Bay on Rainbow Row, and at the Battery on Murray and South Battery streets. Most of these picturesque dwellings also contain shady secret courtyards and black ironwork gates.

3) Southern Hospitality: A town raised with “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am,” Charleston demonstrates its southern hospitality in every aspect of life.  Hotels in Charleston go above and beyond the usual amenities you’d expect, with many offering complimentary wine and cheese receptions in the afternoons, and cookies and milk in the evenings.

4) Beaches: While Charleston’s downtown itself is a harbor town, three beaches are located just a short drive off the peninsula. Isle of Palms, the furthest beach from downtown, is full of upscale beach condos and remains relatively uncrowded most of the year. Sullivan’s Island, only about 15 – 20 minutes away by car, is a flat sand beach with beautiful homes and rentals, unique bars and restaurants, and is the home of Fort Moultrie, a defensive fort used in both Revolutionary and Civil wars. Folly Beach, a 20-minute’s ride away on James Island, is most popular with college students and Charleston vacationers.

5) American History: Called the Holy City for its many church steeples and historically early religious tolerance, Charleston’s great tale begins when King Charles the second of England chartered Carolina to his 8 Lords Proprietors. Established in 1670, Charleston fell victim to attack in the centuries to come by Native Americans, Pirates like the “Gentleman Pirate” Stede Bonnet, and throughout the War of 1812, and American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Visit historical sites like Ft. Sumter in the Charleston harbor, to stand where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

Hotel:

  • Planters Inn: Elegant, with a southern style and amazing amenities. Located in the Historic District, it’s in the middle of everything (read: you can walk everywhere)

Dining – Respect the Food:

  • Hank & Hyman Seafood: The She-crab soup is a must. It’s Charleston’s signature dish made from the sweet meat from the female crab. The Carolina Delight takes grits to a new level – fried, cheese, more cheese. And the build your own platters are magnificent.

  • Jestines: Old southern cooking. Always a line. Classic soul food: fried everything, cornbread, and the blue collar special (peanut butter and banana sandwich with potato chips)

  • Anson: The crab and brie fondue, fried green tomatoes, catfish and chicken under the brick are delicious!
  • Husk: The bar serves Pappy! The focus is ingredient-driven cuisine and was 2011’s Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit Magazine. The menu changes but get the corn bread. The Carolina Heritage Pork is very flavorful and the Short Rib is succulent.

  • Hank’s Seafood (next to Planter’s Inn): Located in a turn of the century warehouse, the ingredients are as fresh as they come and the seafood is divine.
  • Peninsula Grill @ Planter’s Inn: Totally romantic with flickering lanterns and a historic brick alleyway. To start, you cannot go wrong with the lobster 3 way (ravioli, tempura, and sautéed) and the she-crab soup. Their steaks are outstanding with an assortment of beautiful sauces of all flavors to accompany the decadent meat. (Ginger-Lime Beurre Blanc?) And where else could you get a wreckfish? Although I’m not a dessert person, their Ultimate Coconut Cake is off the hook.

  • FIG: Local, fresh eatery that services a Provencal fish stew and a roasted tilefish! The rabbit pie is also a distinct dish.
  • McCrady’s Tavern (George Washington Spot): This was Keith’s favorite. A favorite of notable Charlestonians before/during/after the American Revolution, this establishment hosted a grand 30-course dinner for President George Washington in 1791. The calf’s head soup is one to try.

  • Hominy Grill: With a James Beard award winning chef, the entire appetizer menu is worthy – jalapeno hushpuppies, fried chicken basket, fried green tomatoes, okra & shrimp beignets… where do you stop?

 Drinking:

  • YoBo: “Healthy Mexican” with the legendary Mason Jar Margarita: double shot of gold tequila and margarita mix.
  • Charleston Harbor Resort’s: Blended mudslide cocktail
  • Mercantile & Mash: All about American spirits. 120 whiskeys, including limited releases and single-barrel and cask-strength offerings.

 

Must See / Excursions:

  • King St – For all your shopping needs

  • Rainbow Row: Window shop for mansions

  • Museum of Charleston

  • Meeting sweetgrass basket weavers at the Charleston City Market – yes we bought one and I store my chargers in it

  • Horse and Buggy Tour: Historic District, Ft. Sumner/Park
  • Boone Hall

  • Candle Store across street from Planters Inn Hotel (can’t remember the name!) – the most amazing scents.
  • The Holy City Salt Scrub @ Hyman Seafood – best salt scrub ever!

  • Hug a really big tree!

#stayinspired

First Aid Travel

After all my travel experiences, I have learned bringing a first aid/prevention kit is imperative for any length trip. I’m known to carry my little ‘pharmacy’ pouch in my purse on a daily basis. There is no way I’m going away without the proper precautions when traveling domestic or abroad.

firstaid

Essentials:

  1. A list of your prescriptions (in case you lose them). If you are traveling abroad, translate them in advance to the language.
  2. Pain and fever reducers (Advil, Tylenol)
  3. Hydrocortisone cream for bug bites / rashes
  4. Bandages
  5. IF you have heart problems, a copy of your most recent EKG – yeah, I bring mine
  6. Antihistamines for allergies
  7. Tweezers, small scissors, adhesive tape, alcohol wipes
  8. Rehydration powder (I like packets of Adventure Medical Kits’ oral rehydration salts)
  9. PH Drops
  10. Back up power battery which can juice up your phone or camera battery on the go
  11. Sunscreen
  12. Imodium in case you have a run-in with the porcelain god

Depending on where you travel, you should consider the following:

  1. Travel Insurance
  2. Antibiotics
  3. Wet wipes and toilet paper
  4. Emergency contraception
  5. Iodine tablets in case you have to purify water in an emergency
  6. Dramamine for when you get queasy on those bumpy roads or rough water

Enjoy your travel adventures and #stayinspired

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Life has handed us all lemons…so what do you do when it happens?

lemon-slices

Put A Sliced Lemon Next to Your Bed At Night:

  • Few scents are as refreshing as a lemon.
  • Slice it into quarters and sprinkle some salt on it. Done!
  • Put those slices on your nightstand and brace yourself for these benefits:
    • Stress Relief: The smell of citrus relaxes one’s brain waves and emotions.
    • Increased Focus: If you’re an insomniac whose brain tends to race all over the place – like me – a good night’s sleep is dependent on focusing on positive things and relaxation exercises that will get you to a state of rest. That’s where the focus-boosting lemon fragrance does its job!
    • Better Breathing: Let the gentle scent of that anti-oxidizing, anti-bacterial fruit waft through your nostrils and sleep.
    • Buh-bye Insects: Tired of mosquitoes making a meal of you at night? Or maybe it’s that fly buzzing around your ear that’s got you going insane. Fear no more! Lemon repels all sorts of insects!
    • Increased Energy & Positivity By Morning: I know, morning is the last thing you want to think about as you climb into bed. But those slices on your nightstand will make wake-up time a lot less painful. That’s because the smell of lemon boosts your brain’s serotonin levels.
    • Improved Air Quality: When’s the last time you thought about your home’s air quality? Not sure? Lemon not only smells great – it also purifies air. It’s so powerful you can use it to draw paint fumes out of a room.
    • Blood Pressure Reduction: Considering many American’s suffer from high blood pressure – myself included – this little lemon comes in handy.

Make Warm Turmeric Water with Lemon:

Tea cup with lemon on a wooden table

Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Curcumin or the active ingredient of turmeric is a powerful antioxidant which can provide many health benefits. Try turmeric water – which has numerous healing properties – and combine it with lemon juice.

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ lemon
  • Organic honey
  • Warm water

Directions:

You need to squeeze the lemon juice into a glass and pour the warm water into it. Then, mix it along with the turmeric. Add the honey and make sure to mix them well. Enjoy!

Benefits of Turmeric Water:

  1. Keeps Diabetes in check

Turmeric has the ability to regulate insulin resistance and to prevent diabetes type 2. It is very important to consult your doctor before using it because when it is combined with certain medications, it can cause some side-effects such as hypoglycemia.

  1. Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant properties
  2. Relieves Arthritis
  3. Prevents Heart Disease
  4. Prevents Cancer

Drink Lemon Water Every Morning on an Empty Stomach

There are numerous health benefits to this daily practice due to the fact that water keeps the body hydrated and removes toxins while lemon contains essential nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, A, and B-complex, pectin fiber, carbohydrates and proteins.  Lemons also have the powerful antibacterial, antiviral and immunity boosting properties along with citric acid. The most important benefits from this simple practice are:

  • Boosts Immune System
  • Cleanses the Urinary Tract
  • Improves Digestion
  • Increases Skin Health
  • Helps Weight Loss
  • Controls High Blood Pressure
  • Boosts Energy
  • Balances pH Levels
  • Treats Throat Infections
  • Treats Bad Breath

New Leaf Wellness’ 31 Paleo-Friendly Crockpot Freezer Meals

These meals get me through the gloomy winter season! I usually have 2 crock pots going at a time every Sunday to prep for the week.

New Leaf Wellness made a list of Paleo-friendly crockpot recipes that are:

▪ Freezer-friendly (they can last up to 3 months)
▪ Dairy-free
▪ Grain-free and gluten-free
▪ Soy-free
▪ Sugar-free (with the exception of honey)
▪ Free of processed foods (except canned tomatoes)

Here’s the link, and list – enjoy and #stayinspired. Steve Skladany, I dedicate this post to you!

http://newleafwellness.biz/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/31-Paleo-Crockpot-Freezer-Meals-Recipes-Grocery-List.pdf

crock-pot

1. Chicken Tortilla-Less Soup from Paleo Hacks
2. Beef and Sweet Potato Chili from One Lovely Life
3. Pot Roast with Carrots (YUM)
4. Italian Pork Roast
5. Garlic Honey Chicken with Peppers and Zucchini from Paleo Parents
6. Pineapple Salsa Verde Chicken from Mangia Paleo
7. Banana Pepper Shredded Beef
8. Hungarian Beef Stew from Perchance to Cook
9. Beef Picadillo from Rubies and Radishes
10. Seafood Boil
11. Roasted Pumpkin Coconut Soup from PaleoPot
12. Cool Ranch Shredded Chicken
13. BBQ Ribs from Ditch the Wheat
14. Pulled Pork Chili from PaleOMG
15. Stuffed Peppers
16. Hawaiian Pork Burrito Bowls from With Salt and Wit
17. Chicken Fajitas (serve on a salad instead of tortillas)
18. Chicken Vegetable Soup from Multiply Delicious
19. Paleo Mississippi Roast from Plaid & Paleo
20. Green Chile Chicken and Lime Soup from My Paleo Crockpot
21. Garlic-Mint Pork Loin
22. Simple Chicken from Paleo Leap
23. Chicken Curry (our fave! substitute cauliflower for peas)
24. Beef Fajitas
25. Beef or Turkey Chili from Paleo Newbie
26. Italian Chicken from my ALDI freezer prep session
27. Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce from my October healthy crockpot post (add homemade meatballs for extra protein)
28. Beef Stew from Once a Month Meals
29. Chicken Soup with Mexican Seasonings
30. Apple Pork Tenderloin from Clean Eatz
31. Jalapeno Popper Chicken and Beef Chili from Skinnytaste

Guide to Savannah, Georgia

This post is dedicated to Forrest Gump (His famous bench is in Chippewa Square).

Yes, I know he’s a fictional character but he’s been a beloved character to millions of people. What I love about him is that he attains all of his successes through his innocence and his imperviousness to contamination by the business of living. He never negotiates his spirit regardless of his fears or insecurities. He remains authentic through and through and that is beautiful. His goal isn’t to live happily ever after, it isn’t to finish the plot, resolve the conflict and roll through the credits. He realizes there’s more to life – life is a process that we will always work on.

Savannah is an enchanting southern escape. Defining it is difficult because it has the classic southern charm with a quirkiness mixed with grace and hospitality. There is also a romance to this city that cannot be explained until you walk (this is a perfect walk anywhere city) through the beautiful squares.

*This is Keith’s favorite US city. He equates it to a classic Hollywood starlet.

1) Historic Squares: Savannah has 22 breathtaking squares with grand live oak trees and ample green space. All of the squares are located within walking distance of one another, so seeing them all in one day is doable. If you’re pressed for time, limit your journey to the picturesque squares along Bull Street.

  1. Live Oak Trees: I’m not a nature person, but these trees are massive, magnificent and hauntingly beautiful.

  1. Cemeteries: There’s no better place to learn about Savannah’s history than in her cemeteries. Colonial Park Cemetery, located in the center of the Historic District, features gravesites that date back to the mid-18th century. Laurel Grove Cemetery, on the city’s west side, is a haunting reminder of Savannah’s segregated past, with separate sections for whites and blacks, along with a Civil War burial ground for Confederate soldiers. Bonaventure Cemetery, on the city’s east side, boasts breathtaking views of the Wilmington River.

  1. St. Patrick’s Day parade: The parade, the second largest in the nation, is held every year on March 17 (except when the holiday falls on a Sunday), but expect the party to get underway a few days prior and continue until the last pint of Guinness is chugged.

Hotel:

  • Kehoe House – Exquisitely restored 1892 Renaissance Revival mansion in the historic district, this luxury bed and breakfast is quaint and beautiful. We spent our anniversary weekend here. It’s in walking distance to everything.

 

Respect the Food:

  • Huey’s: Cajun-creole cuisine that is SO good. I was obsessed with the gumbo and the crawfish etoufee.

  • Wilkes Dining Room (closed on weekends + month of Jan / cash only / no reservations): There is always a line but it’s DELICIOUS Southern home cooking. Family-owned since 1943, the lunch crowd finds seats at one of the large tables-for-ten shared by strangers. By the time the meal is over, you are no longer a stranger. Located in the same building as the original Wilkes House, the Wilkes Pied-A-Terra property is a perfect place to stay during your visit to Savannah.

  • The Olde Pink House: We had our anniversary dinner here. Savannah’s only 18th Century Mansion, the Olde Pink House was named for the beautiful shade of “pink” stucco, which covers its old brick. Food standouts? Reynolds square platter, mac and cheese poppers, pulled pork, blackened oysters and crispy fried lobster tails. Wow!

  • River Street Inn: Gorgeous for a cocktail at sunset. Was an old converted cotton house.

  • Clary’s Café: Wonderful breakfast – The Elvis! The Victorian! Country fried steak! Also, a great post-drinking morning meal.
  • Back in the Day Bakery: Fresh-baked bread, cupcakes and fork-ready pies – hearty portions at this vintage bakery & espresso bar.

Drinking:

  • Just do a bar crawl on the waterfront

Must See / Excursions:

  • Hit the cemeteries – Its strangely beautiful and peaceful
  • Forrest Gump’s bench (Chippewa Square)

  • Horse and buggy ride tour to see the city – so romantic!
  • Pop into any antique store.
  • Take one of the bus tours (if you don’t do horse and buggy) because you get to see all parts of the city and can journey back to your favorite spots. Remember it’s a walking city.

  • SCAD Museum of Art is part of the Savannah College of Art and Design, and housed in an 1853 train depot.
  • Just walk around and see what you run into!

#stayinspired

My Favorite NY Ramen Spots

This post is dedicated to Renee Iselin, my Ramen partner in crime, and Sats Gawa, a world-renowned ramen expert hailing from Japan – he knows the real deal!

It’s in my blood. I love soup, and I especially love Ramen. For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food. I have sampled some amazing ramen throughout Manhattan and wanted to share my favorites.

Zundo-Ya: The soup base has integrity. Pork bones are simmered in a special pot called a zundo (hence the name) for twenty hours, creating a thick, creamy liquid. To ensure the results are as close as possible to the broth found in Japan, the team “softens” the water using a closely guarded technique. The blend incorporates some dried fish into the sweet and salty mix, adding more umami flavor than most compounds have.

Ipuddo: In 2008, this was the place that made me fall in love with Ramen. It’s authentic Hakata tonkotsu pork soup. You cannot go wrong. Expect a wait.

Takashi: I stumbled upon this gem when my girlfriends and I wanted to try premium Japanese and American beef. The selections are delicately prepared and served raw to be grilled right at your table (yakiniku). Note: they serve a variety of very decadent meats (raw liver and flash-boiled achilles tendon). I discovered through my friend Simon Kim, owner of Piora restaurant which happens to be down the street (more on his place later!) that Takashi served a LATE NIGHT BEEF BROTH RAMEN!!!! Pure ramen heaven. Here’s the info!

Mei Jin Ramen: Hip Japanese place for ramen & izakaya-style small plates with an adjoining cocktail & dessert bar. The chicken spicy miso ramen and curry beef ramen are exhilerating.

Totto Ramen: You simply cannot go wrong with any of the ramen varieties. The assortment of additional toppings is ridiculous, and they even serve ‘specialty’ ramen. Be experimental and play with your noodles!

Hide Chan: The Tonkotsu Ramen is a rich creamy pork bone soup with thin long noodles. Tonkotsu, which means pork bone, usually has a cloudy white colored broth. because it’s made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours. The result is a hearty pork flavor and a creamy consistency that rivals milk, melted butter or gravy. The ramen is hearty and delicious.

Mr Taka: The ingredients are carefully selected and there is a lot of care that goes into these slurp worthy noodles. One of the owners ramen restaurant in Japan, Bigiya, was listed on Michelin Tokyo in 2015. It was the first year for Michelin Tokyo to list a ramen restaurant and there are 5000 in Japan. It’s worth a trip here.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list as more ramen joints open up, but for now, these are my staples. Enjoy – slurp up and #stayinspired.