Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ms. Bear's Mini Guide to NYC Dining

Hello again for another installment of Ms. Bear's Kitchen! Before I went to NYC last week, Melissa told me to take pictures of all my food and talk about the culinary experience one can have in NYC. Most of the time, I remembered to photograph my meals, except on the rare occasions that we were starving or that a fantastic looking dessert came...then I forgot all about taking a picture...LOL! So, here is a rundown on some of the restaurants and meals I had while on the Upper West Side of New York! There is a lesson to be learned from my culinary adventures, which I will share with you at the end!
The first day I got in, we went to Shake Shack, which is one of my favorite places! Their food is remarkable. Unfortunately, the calories are right on the menu, so there is that bit of a shock, which we got over quickly! We had cheeseburgers, fries and ice cream, washed down with Diet Coke! We were pretty full that night, so we had cheese, bread and salami from a little deli around the corner from my niece Mona's. We also had a nice bottle of imported beer to wash it down!

The next day started with bagels and fruit in Central Park while walking Howie, Mona's dog -- he is so cute that he has been stopped and petted by Martha Stuart herself! For lunch, we went to Lenny's, a nice NY deli, and had sandwiches and salads. Funny salad was super expensive because I didn't know they charged for each separate ingredient! They also charge for pop refills, just a good thing to know if you ever go there!
Mona made great steaks for dinner that night!

The third day, we went out to a restaurant called Boulud Sud. It was Restaurant Week, and there were lots of specials at the high-end restaurants. Imagine my surprise when my tuna appetizer was raw! We had a phenomenal dessert there too.

The last day we met my sister-in-law, Barb, and went to Sarabeth's. We had a lovely lunch of soup, salad and dessert. Then we went to the famous Zabars deli and stocked up on black and white cookies -- a NY tradition!
I learned a couple of lessons on my foodie trip. First, I am really a plain eater, nothing fancy for me! When we got to the tollway oasis on the way home, I had a slice of pizza and a salad and was very happy! Second, it wasn't the food that made this trip so special, even though it was delicious -- it was being with my family and sharing good times.
And, lastly, if you ever go to NYC, make sure you go to Shake Shack, Magnolia Bakery (cupcakes, cupcakes and more cupcakes!) and visit some of the great delis and street-side fruit stands that they have there. Most of all, enjoy the company you are with. Until next time.....

My Diaries (The Remix): Reading #45

Dream Home Do or Don't: Transparent house

Whoa! This house looks like something straight out of The Jetsons, doesn't it? Swedish architecture studio Elding Oscarson intentionally constructed the three-story house with an opposite design in mind, with the top covered in Douglas Fir planks and the bottom completely transparent.
Bonus: At night, the light from the ground creates a radiating effect. The house is located in Mölle, Sweden, and offers stunning views -- naturally! -- of the surrounding landscape and coastline.

"Our ambition has been to recover Mölle's dormant architectural tradition, extrapolating it into the twenty-first century, while providing a house for generations to come," the architects said.

What do you think, friends? Is it a do or don't? Too transparent? xoxo

P.S. A new My Diaries (The Remix) and Ms. Bear's Kitchen is coming up! :)

[Via My Modern Met]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anata Jewelry Cat Pendant Giveaway!

Today's giveaway is from Anat from Anata Jewelry, the beautiful Etsy shop full of everything from necklaces to bracelets to earrings to rings. Anat lives with her three children in Israel and worked in finance before taking a career turn toward the creative side in 2011. I love her specialty: Handmade jewelry in gold, silver and gemstones. "It always makes me happy to see people wearing and enjoying my jewelry," she says.

She's giving this silver cat pendant ($34) to one lucky reader. Made from a sterling silver sheet using silversmith techniques, this necklace is one of Anat's favorite pieces in her shop. Isn't it cute?

For your chance to win, simply visit Anata Jewelry, and leave a comment below, telling us what you'd wear with it if you won. You can also LIKE Anata Jewelry on Facebook and GET INSPIRED on Pinterest for extra entries -- just make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry and include @melissablake if you tweet about this giveaway! A winner will be chosen at random next Wednesday, August 6th, so you've got a whole week to enter! Good luck, friends! xoxo

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.

"If you don't know me by now...You will never never never know me..." --Simply Red

[Photos via My Summer Twist]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


With my birthday coming up in less than one week (can you tell I'm excited, as usual?!?!?), I've age on the brain. I suppose it's only natural. And then I found the beginning of these lyrics that I started nearly a year ago, and I couldn't resist doing a parody of Taylor Swift's 22, which is one of my favorite songs. It's so interesting to compare and see just how much your life can change in the span of a single decade. Granted, my version is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but it still holds true, don't you think, friends? xoxo
It feels like the perfect night
To play some yahtzee
And bake homemade cookies
Oh yeah, oh yeah
It feels like one of those nights
To Facebook-stalk my ex and pretend I don't care

Because we're overworked, overwhelmed and overanalytical
We're still trying to figure out who we're meant to be, oh yeah
Because every time we look in the mirror, we wonder why life didn't turn out like Sex and the City

Here we goooo...

I can't be the only one who
Can't believe they're 32
Let me put my glasses on and try to find my lost youth
You can't move forward without looking back
Am I turning into my mom
Did I really just say that?
Guess I'll just keep enjoying the ride
And keep grooving like I'm 32, 32, 32

It feels like the perfect night
For a tall glass of root beer
But not with caffeine because it keeps me awake
oh no, oh no
It feels like the perfect night to have a heart-to-heart with my cat
He's the only one who's ever understood me anyways

Here we goooo...

I can't be the only one who
Can't believe they're 32
Let me put my glasses on and try to find my lost youth
You can't move forward without looking back
Am I turning into my mom
Did I really just say that?
Guess I'll just keep enjoying the ride
And keep grooving like I'm 32, 32, 32

Tonight, tonight, tonight
We'll throw caution, caution, caution to the wind, wind, wind
Everything will be alright, alright, alright
Just as long as we're in bed by 10

I can't be the only one who
Can't believe they're 32
Let me put my glasses on and try to find my lost youth
You can't move forward without looking back
Am I turning into my mom
Did I really just say that?
Guess I'll just keep enjoying the ride
And keep grooving like I'm 32, 32, 32

I can't be the only one who
Can't believe they're 32
What's girl to do
When she realizes she's really 32, 32, 32??

[Photo via We Heart It]

Aww: Vintage cats and dogs dressed as people

Need I say more? I just couldn't resist posting these adorable photos by photographer Harry Whittier Frees, who began a career in animal photography in 1906 and produced everything from postcards to children's books.

As it turns out, I guess animals were just as cute 100 years ago as they are today. I dare you not to say "Aww" a time or two. No, really, go on. I dare you to try it! xoxo

[Via The Atlantic]

Wise Words From Readers: On sibling advice...

Oh, siblings! What an interesting role they play in our lives. No matter your place in your family, what your childhood vacations were like, who's smarter or more sensitive, there's no denying the stamp your siblings leave on you. You might fight, say some not-so-nice words or even vow that you're never, ever going to speak to them ever again, but deep down, you know that vow of silence won't last long. And it doesn't. Because even when we don't want to admit it, we know we need our siblings close by. They're always primed and ready with a good dose of advice, too, as you all shared this week...

*The BEST advice I ever got from a sibling is "always be yourself" -- so simple, but so important to remember in life -- not only when you are young, but through the decades.

*Sell the big house. It will become an albatross.

*Advice on the best stereo components under $200 in 1979.

*Your life mate should be someone you can imagine yourself sitting on a front porch with when you are 85 years old.

*Go tell Mom...she's calling you!
What wonderful advice! Even though Janelle is the younger sister, I've always felt like she was the older one in a lot of ways. She's so much smarter than I could ever hope to be, and she's taught me so much about being a compassionate person -- especially during all my childhood surgeries. It's most definitely safe to say that I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for her shining example in my life. I hope she knows what a positive impact she's had on me. Anyway, here's next week's question...

Do you have a pet? What's your favorite memory with them?

Visit So About What I Said on Facebook and Twitter to share your smarts -- and don't forget to use hashtag #WiseWordsFromReaders. See you there, friends! :)

[Photos via We Heart It]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Four things I learned from not complaining for 24 hours...

Truth time: I can get going on a good complaining kick with the best of 'em. In fact, given my competitive nature, if I'm provoked, I just might turn the whole thing into one giant sport. So maybe that's why I challenged my mom a few weeks ago to go a full 24 hours without complaining. I was up for the challenge (who couldn't benefit from a little less negativity in their lives?), but I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. Could we do it? Would we even last a day? A morning? Breakfast?

Well, I'm happy to report that we, indeed, did last the whole day, without too much under-our-breath huffing or pulling our hair out in sheer frustration. In fact, just yesterday, my mom remarked that we could probably benefit even more from doing the 24-Hour No-Complain Challenge again, and I can't help but agree. I've been thinking about the big lessons I learned from this seemingly little exercise. Here are four of those big lessons that stand out...

You have more control over your life than you think
True, there are just some things in life that are out of your control, and you just have to come to terms with that. But how you react to the things that happen to you? A lot of that is well within your control. You control how you look at it. You chart your own course, and no one can do that for you. I'm always telling my mom to "take back your power" when she gets herself all stressed out, and I think the same thing applies here.

There is a fine line between observing and complaining
Several times during the day, my mom and I found ourselves on the verge of uttering a not-so-very-positive sentence, so to try and rein ourselves in, we tried to re-frame said sentences as mere observations. Why? Because it's a very slippery slope from an observation (i.e. "it's hot outside...") to the black hole of complaining (i.e. "I hate this hot weather. I think it's going to kill me...and my day us ruined..."). See what a fine line it is? You want to stay on the right side of it, obviously.

Turns out, Abe Lincoln was right
Our 16th president was famous for saying that "folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be" and if you think about it, there's a lot of truth in that. If you choose happiness in one aspect of your life, chances are that it will carry over into other areas. It's almost like the ripple effect -- one teeny, tiny pebble of happiness could be felt all around you. Can you feel the calm yet?

My shoulders felt noticeably lighter
When I let all that complaining go, I felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. You don't fully realize how much extra useless baggage you're carrying around until, well, you're not carrying it around anymore. It's one of the rare moments in life when simply not caring is quite possibly the greatest feeling in the world. When it comes to complaining, never underestimate that!
Did you take part in the No-Complain Challenge? What was the experience like? Was it what you expected? What did you learn? Will you be doing it again? Here's hoping you're relaxed and calm on this summer Monday, friends! xoxo

[Photos via We Heart It]

Sponsor Spotlight: Anata Jewelry

There's something so special about jewelry, isn't there? It's like you get to carry around a story with you wherever you go -- both the story behind the gorgeous piece as well as the story behind the talented designer who created it. And the story behind Anata Jewelry is such an inspiring one. Anat, an Israel-based designer, opened her Etsy shop three years ago, after having worked in the financial sector for 12 years. Her shop is full of beautiful pieces from necklaces to bracelets to earrings to rings. Read on for more of her exclusive story and her need-to-know shopping tips! xoxo

Keep in touch...
Official Web site: Anata Jewelry
Become a fan on Facebook
Get inspired on Pinterest
Tell me about Anata Jewelry. What's the inspiration behind its launch?
My name is Anat and I am a goldsmith and jewelry designer. After working for 12 years as an analyst and a manager in one of the leading financial institutions in Israel, and after having 3 beautiful children, I have decided to make a change in my life and began learning goldsmith’s work. I love working with metals -- it’s a great feeling, transforming raw material into a piece of art, and it always makes me happy to see people wearing and enjoying my jewelry. All my jewelry is designed and handmade by me. I create everyday jewelry made of sterling silver, gold-plated brass and gemstones. My jewelry is for women and girls of all ages. My designs can fit any event, day or night and great for the working woman that can wear them the all day. My work is either one-of-a-kind or limited-edition.

Your shop features so many inspiring finds. What inspires you the most?
I get inspiration from nature and the world around me. I love clean and simple design, but my collection is eclectic. You can find oriental jewelry too, which is very trendy these days!

What are your top 3 tips for shopping online and finding great deals?
*Check the shop policies, learn about the customer service, return and exchange policy, read the reviews and feedback.
*Learn about the item: Read the item description, what materials are used, the size of the earrings or pendant.
*Check out the owner of the online shop.

What is your favorite piece in your shop and why?
It's so hard to say my favorite item because I love them all. The cat pendant necklace is so cute (you can find it in gold plated too), and the flower post earrings are so unique.
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