Summer Fruit Salad

A few days ago, I made the most deliciously summery fruit salad! It tastes great after an hour in the refrigerator, but even better the day after (or even two days after). The combination of lemon, fresh mint and honey contribute to the tanginess and sweetness. Please see below for ingredients.

One apple

One banana

Half a grapefruit

Eight strawberries

Two hand fulls of blueberries

Fresh mint leaves

Half a lemon

One tablespoon of honey

Cut apple, banana, straweberries and grapefruit into small pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add blueberries, honey, chopped mint leaves and lemon juice. Combine and chill for at least an hour. Serves four people. I eat this fruit salad for breakfast and also as dessert or a snack in between. Yummy!

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On the Staycation

I am on a ten-day-long staycation. This is a time for me to rest and play, but also a time to catch up on stuff at home and continue to focus on physical training. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind just hanging out on a beach in the Caribbean, but I just didn’t plan things right. So here I am, on a vacation at home. Sam and I are taking long walks in Central Park in the mornings and lingering there a little longer than we usually do. Then I go home, eat something and take a nap. I have dinners, a movie and at least two beach visits in mind. I also got three books, which I am rapidly getting through; Crusoe’s Daughter, by Jane Gardam, The Lilac House, by Anita Nair and The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo. When I am not indulging in these activities, I am catching up on things like cleaning, getting my AC from the storage place, etc. I thought I would dislike doing these things, but no. It feels good to catch up. I go to the gym three days in a row and take one day off, the again three-day on and so forth. I’m hoping to maintain this exercise pattern once back to work. So it is all working out beautifully. But, let me tell you, on day three, unexpectedly, I felt at a complete loss. I was restless. I had nothing to do and I didn’t know what to do with myself! I laid down to take a nap, but I couldn’t stop thinking and I had to get up. Noooo, what was this? I spoke to a few friends who all seem to agree that this was a common phenomenon that they had all experienced themselves. We all lead such busy lives that relaxing simple does not come that easy, it takes a couple of days before we will feel completely at ease with the notion of not having to work. The following day I somehow miraculously overcame my restless phase and all is now good again in the Sitwell household.

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On Cleaning

I used to love to clean. I would scrub my floors, vacuum carpets and polish silver with great joy. I would wash and fold my laundry with pleasure; the fresh smell and the softness of the clothes made me smile. This all changed a few years ago, don’t ask me exactly when or why, perhaps the strain of graduate school finally got to me. Cleaning became a chore, I even contemplated getting someone to clean for me at some point then, but I couldn’t afford it. Soon thereafter, I figured out that dropping off laundry was just as expensive as doing it yourself at the laundromat. I have been giving away my laundry to the cleaners around the corner ever since. What is the story with these laundry stores anyway? They advertise same day cleaning, but if you drop off your clothes after 9 AM this advertisement apparently no longer pertains! And free delivery and pick up? What about the five dollar tip each way? That’s $10.00! Don’t get me wrong, I have a very good relationship with the people in my laundry store, but I wonder sometimes about this not completely truthful advertisement. But back to cleaning. This weekend I finally decided it was time for spring cleaning. With all my windows open, a gentle breeze through my rooms, I suddenly felt overcome by a desire to clean. As I turned on my new banana-yellow Miele vacuum cleaner I even caught myself singing! I cleaned the apartment in four hours and felt extraordinarily satisfied with myself. The thing is, if you no longer love cleaning, you just have to somehow bring yourself to do it. Don’t spend days, or even weeks, wasting time thinking about it. It’s like pulling off a bandaid; just pull it off already. Then it is over.

On Apartments

I have always lived in old apartments, meaning they were built some time around the 1900s, perhaps even earlier.  The reason for this is at least two-fold; one, I love the detail of the older apartments and 2) it is all that I can afford.  When I move, which I rarely do, I find an old apartment in dire condition, but usually a good deal financially, and I fix it up. I have lived in my current apartment for about 10 years now. It is a one bedroom on the fifth floor, there is no elevator. It is a corner apartment (very quiet) with high ceilings, a huge closet, six tall windows, facing west and north; I get fantastic sunlight in the afternoon. When I moved in, the state of the apartment was a disaster. After spending a week cleaning, I painted every surface. I stripped the floor and wallpapered the kitchen and the bedroom. I think I did a pretty good job, but there are still old nails partially sticking out here and there and some surfaces are crooked. I love my place, but I will not lie, sometimes I dream of a brand new place in an elevator building.

The coolest thing about a new apartment is that if you like it to it can come with a fantastic view. Kitchen and bath appliances are brand new and the place is easy to keep clean. There is probably an elevator! There is a doorman! There might be a gym! And a place to store your bike! Ugh, I could go on and on and on. But on the flip side, a contemporary apartment is costly. Who wants to spend an arm and a leg on monthly rent? The walls are thin, not substantial and solid like in an older place. They might not take dogs, which, of course, would be deal breaker for me. But ultimately, and I don’t say this because I am not in a position to pay high rent, I would prefer an older apartment, simply because of the fact of the beauty of it. Old apartments have history. But, having said that, would I love to live in an old apartment building with elevator and a view? I would, indeed I would.

On Easter

When I was little girl I loved Easter, my younger sister did too. We would wake up early, really early, on Easter Day, sometimes at 5 AM and storm down the stairs to the kitchen. This is where the hunt would take place, we had waited for this for days. The night before my mother had hidden easter things and candy and trinkets in the kitchen area. It would take us about 20 minutes of feverish searching and then we had gathered all of our finds. Jubilant, we would then run upstairs to our parent’s bedroom, wake them up (this was the only day of the year, except for birthdays, when this was allowed) and explain where we had found things (as if my mother didn’t already know) and thank them. We were then sent away, told to go back to sleep; we went back to our beds, where we would sit quietly, red-cheeked, and inspect our findings. My favorite thing was always the painted cardboard egg that opened up into two halves. In it was candy, chocolate, perhaps some lip gloss or hair clips. There was something about these eggs that I adored; the shape, the skinniness and the old-fashioned images.

Our family was Protestant, but not particularly observant. I think throughout my entire childhood, perhaps we went to church once or twice over Easter. But my mother would always make fantastic food for Easter Day, usually lamb. Easter was clearly considered a holiday. In preparation for the holiday we would paint eggs with water color. Coloring eggs involved a complex egg-preparation procedure; with a needle one would make a small hole on each side of the egg, then, into a large glass bowl blow the entire content of the egg (these eggs were later used to bake cakes). The egg would now be empty and ready for painting. We all gathered around the kitchen table, wearing aprons, merrily painting. Once the paint on the eggs had dried, one would put a thread through the two holes, which would then serve as a hook of sorts. We would hang all of our eggs, probably around fifteen or twenty, on Pussy Willow branches that my mother had picked in our garden and placed in a large vase. I clearly remember that we were all proud about having put in effort into making these eggs. It had been a joint creative effort.