Reclaim the Morning

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6:45 A.M. I abandon all hope for a morning run and instead open my eyes just wide enough to hit “Snooze.” We’ve all played that game: Snooze Russian Roulette, where each button press comes with added risk of running late to work. Then there’s the mad dash to the subway, balancing a to-go cup of coffee (a drop of which will inevitably find it’s way onto the white blouse I threw on). But every time I manage to drag myself out from under my mess of covers, I end up thankful that I did. Waking up early means that instead of rushing out the door ten minutes late without breakfast, I can actually enjoy my morning ritual – it’s often the only time I’ll have during the day to enjoy a moment of calm serenity. Here are some tips to reclaim the morning as something to be enjoyed!

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Prep as much as possible the night before. Check the weather, pick out your clothes for the next day, and set them out by your dresser. Pack your briefcase or purse (consider workout clothes, an umbrella), and set it by the door for a quick exit. Make lunch (either transfer your leftovers to a lunch-size container or pack a sandwich). I also love to make coffee the night before – I transfer it from the French Press into a glass bottle I keep in the fridge so I can pour it over ice or microwave it in the morning.

Go for a run. (And I don’t mean the gym.) Unless it’s your thing, I can’t stand going to the gym in the morning. It’s always packed with people, and the last thing I want to do at 7 A.M. is wait in line for a treadmill. Instead, I hit the trails (or pavement) outside – everywhere looks it’s best in the morning, and it’ll give you time to organize your thoughts before a hectic day. Added bonus: you can check off your daily dose of cardio by 8:00 A.M.!

Make breakfast. A real breakfast! If you insist on eating cereal, add some berries and yogurt on top. Otherwise, turn on the stove and serve yourself a hot breakfast. I usually fry an egg over-easy and add it to honey-drizzled toast with a dollop of pesto on top (the sweet and salty combination is perfect, and it’s easy to eat). Or, if you’re feeling extra-indulgent, make yourself some French Toast with fresh berries while they’re still in season!

Read the news. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about reading The New York Times that brings to mind a relaxing, enjoyable morning to me. But, let’s be real, I usually only get to newsprint on Sunday and even then I flip to the Food and Dining section. During the week, I prefer reading the news on my laptop, via e-newsletters (I love The Skimm) and Nytimes.com.

Indulge on Monday morning. Mondays are, well Mondays. But a great morning can turn a manic Monday into something to look forward to! To take (some of) the woe out of Sunday night, I’ll throw in some perks for Monday: Splurge and take an early morning yoga class to salute the sun and find some Zen before the week. Keep croissants in the freezer (either from a local bakery or from Trader Joe’s) then put them in the oven right before you shower. By the time you get out, you’ll have freshly baked pastries in your own home (then go rogue and add butter and honey). Could there be a better way to start the week?

Stirred, Not Shaken: Batchable Summer Cocktails

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After years of ordering anything on a cocktail menu that contains egg white or the words “pisco” and/or “sour,” I declared myself a qualified at-home mixologist. I can cook eggs every which way, so I should be able to mix them into a drink. Right?

When my boyfriend supported this insane idea by buying me a home cocktail kit, I got set creating the drink of my dreams with the works: bitters, egg, crushed ice, and fresh herbs. In the end, my concoction better resembled a muscle man’s badly blended breakfast shake (read: drippy raw egg, everywhere) than the foamy, minty goblet I’d envisioned.

Taking a few steps back, I decided to create some cocktails appropriate for my level of experience (somewhere above a rum and coke, but below anything with egg or vigorous shaking).

Here are four cocktails that are easy to make at home (but clean up nicely with a wedge of lime and a salted rim). Oh, and the best part? They’re batchable – just in time for Labor Day!

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Out with the Old

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Life has been a little crazy this summer. In May, I graduated college (along with over 1.5 million other students), moved to New York, and am currently interning at an online food magazine while interviewing for cookbook editorial positions (I am as “foodie” as they come). While I’ve had several other blogs, I want one that will capture all of the controlled chaos that comes with being a post-grad – and all of the food I eat and make! And with the summer ending, what better a time than now? I hope you enjoy it!