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There are a billion reasons to travel.

I won’t list all billion here because my blog is not the cause of anyone’s eyestrain! I want you to use your eyes for very important things - like booking a trip to Iceland. Pronto!

Really.

Iceland is the kind of place that imagination and research can’t do justice. When I read up on Iceland, I learned the Gulf Stream moderates the temperature so the island’s northern location doesn’t mean sub-zero misery. But I had no clue what it was like to spend an afternoon in a sun-hail-rain-snow-sun-storm. I didn’t know that going up a few feet, really just a few feet, could change the world from dry to snow-covered and stormy. Without making the trip, I wouldn’t have learned that the weather is changeable and brutal and beautiful and works to form not only the character of the landscape but of the people.  As we walked the streets of Reykjavik, sun smiling on our faces and hail biting our cheeks, our guide told us that “… Iceland doesn’t have weather, it has examples of weather.”  He also told us that there isn’t any bad weather, just bad clothing. (My damp, loose weave wool mittens that begged the wind and rain to turn my hands blue proved his point.)

These people can really roll with change … except when they can’t.

If you live in Iceland, 50% of the calories you consume are imported.  That must take some planning. While the geo-thermal power is impressive and gives heat and electricity to the majority of the country, it doesn’t make it cheaper or easier to buy a car or a camera or any of the other goods and services that come cheap and easy to someone living someplace other than Iceland. Lots more planning!

So go to Iceland! Expect the people to be lovely and happy to see you. And expect a quick “No” if you ask for something that strays outside the norm. (In our case, it was a late-night bottle of wine in the hotel bar and the need for a detour around a snow-closed road that caused a reflexive “No” but we worked it out.)

And when you’re there, order a margarita (or two). You’ll enjoy them because the food and cocktail scene in Reykjavik is alive and well.  Eat a lot of lamb and fish and absolutely have dinner at Dill and Grill Market (both in Reykjavik). Dill has a tasting menu with wine paring and is an experience you’ll never forget. Grill Market has amazing food served in a very cool space. I had “Red Fish.” It was described as a very ugly, angry fish that can make you sick if you come in contact with it while it’s alive. But they promised me that when they cook it, they get the ugly out and it’s delicious. And it was.

If only we had another few nights in Iceland I feel sure we’d have seen the one thing we missed: Northern Lights. For now, I have to settle for pictures on the Internet. But I feel pretty sure I’ll be back someday so I have another chance.

Thanks for reading - If you go, you should also expect to be blown away by the landscape. I hope you enjoy my pictures!

 

I think what I liked best is that the people seem to have their priorities straight!

And they have a sense of humor! Reykjavik is full of street and public art.

And the landscape is like nothing you’ve ever seen.

And finally, one of my favorite signs ever!

Do you think Iceland is used to dealing with silly tourists?

Do you think Iceland is used to dealing with silly tourists?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor Required!

Yes, it’s winter.

It happens every year but this winter is extra dreary because it’s actually cold and snowy and icy and grey … and did I mention it’s really, really cold? Since anyone who resides in the ever-widening snow belt has to slog through it every day, we also endlessly talk about the weather. There’s no escape, even in our conversation, and that’s making winter even drearier.

So while New York City is likely running out of road salt, budgeted overtime hours for plow drivers and possibly patience the good citizens are, thankfully, funny as ever.

Since the weather for drove me inside for the little exercise I get, I can report on SoulCycle’s hilarious request that clients practice good hygiene (they call it doing laundry).  The bikes are close together and they worry that when your neighbor takes a deep, cleansing breath, they might choke on your odor.  Flywheel’s attempt to be hip and cool with everything down to the locker instructions is also worth a chuckle as they dare you to lock up your Blackberry.

NYC, you’re doing great! Let’s keep up the humor and keep our heads on!

Greensquare Tavern, 5 West 21st St, NYC, is holding up their end in the humor department.

You should go here, not only because the signage is funny but because the food is fresh, organic and good.

If you order a margarita, the joke is on you so please steer clear. This is more of a pull of beer, pour of wine kind of place.  We ordered meatballs and being New Yorker’s, expected a single meatball centered on a giant white plate to be set between us.  But instead of gingerly cutting tiny food in half and wondering what else we’d eat, we got a bowl – and not a single meatball in a giant, but an actual bowl of meatballs!

We left Greensquare tavern nourished by the food and connected to the restaurant through our mutual dislike of Jury Duty Justin Bieber.

And we are warmed by the promise of Spring!

Spring And Margarita Magic

This weekend, New York opened its slushy, crusty coat of winter to give us a glimpse of the blue sky and heart-warming hope of spring.  It was a spectacular February weather weekend.  It was also National Margarita Day. Coincidence?  I think not.

Spring and Margaritas have a lot on common.  In their best form, they both have a pleasant hue.  Both can make you forget your troubles.  Both can inspire love and adventure.  Both can change your perspective.

I can’t say which had more influence this weekend – spring-like weather or Margaritas.  But the good citizens of New York City were out in force and in the mood to celebrate.  I think of their numbers and zeal as an unofficial parade in honor of National Margarita Day.

There was a man on the sidewalk, tucked into the shadowy crevice of a building.  Usually this kind of beginning would have a bad ending – but not on National Margarita Day!  He was air-swinging a “golf club.” He had a cigarette perched between his lips.  He inhaled on the back swing and exhaled on the forward swing so his hands cut through his giant puff of smoke.  He smoked with no hands and golfed with no club and looked thrilled.

The grifters, dressed as your children’s favorite characters, had an extra spring in their step.  Elmo and Cookie Monster gave exuberant high-fives as they stuffed tips in their fanny packs.  Their costumes could harbor margarita sippy cups.  I picture a hat with two cup holders and straws under those furry heads.  Or maybe it was just the sunshine?

Coats were off and skin was out.  Ladies on the way to the gym let their calves loose and left their coats at home.  Grateful faces sat on benches, cheeks turned to the sun, soaking up Vitamin D.

And love was in the air.  I sat, sipping a margarita and eavesdropping on the people next to me.  Eavesdropping is a New York City hobby.  In more polite moments (or when we can’t get close enough to listen) we call it “people watching.” But I was flat-out listening to a couple on their first date. as he explained that he isn’t rich and isn’t successful but he’s glad about that because he really likes to scramble.  His ex-wife is a vindictive person and he’s in a good place about their break-up. He views it as a blessing because had they stayed together, he would have killed her.  Oh, and he cries in therapy weekly.

I tend to think that first dates need better game.  It’s wise to keep murderous thoughts to yourself if you’re hoping for date #2.  But thank the margaritas – either overconsumption or the magic in the air … she was leaning in.  I wish them well! And, I’ve taken a mental snapshot of his face if he ever comes up in an online dating match.

I went a little crazy too.

At Quality Italian, I turned down Aprile Super Oakville (2010) from Gargiulo Vineyards in favor of a margarita. Super Oakville is Gargiulo Vineyards version of a Super Tuscan or Brunello and Brunello is my favorite wine treat.  But margaritas are well, margaritas.  And I’m nothing if not dedicated to my research.

We had Chicken Parmigiana for Two (which is really enough for six).  It’s a giant, round chicken parm disguised as a pizza.  The chickens I’m used to eating doesn’t come flat and round so I’m sure a lot of manipulation (I don’t want to know) goes into this entrée.

We shared Dry-Aged Porterhouse Agnolotti and a bunch of sides.  If you go, bring your appetite.  Quality Italian is a steakhouse and the dinner menu is protein-heavy and priced to match.

And if you go, bring a lot of friends.  Even the best restaurant is helped by good company and on this night, the company was really good.

The weather here in New York has turned cold again so we tuck our skin under coats and scarves and bend our heads against the wind.   But the sun is out and hints of spring linger … and margarita magic is still (always) in the air.  I hope you can all feel it and I hope you had a wonderful National Margarita Day!

I joined because everyone is doing it.

And when I say “everyone” I mean over 600,000,000 people have signed on to Twitter.  On average, 58 million tweets are sent each day – that’s about 9,100/second. (Data Source)

That means about 8% of the world’s population is on Twitter and they’re very, very busy tweeting.  

I was still a doubter.  140 characters to get a message across, counting spaces, is a recipe for confusion or at least bad grammar.  I’m more of a long form communication kind of girl.  I couldn’t imagine what I’d tweet or how I’d fit tweeting into my day.  But it was time.  My job demands some social media ability.  And, as you all know, I am a world-famous margarita drinker with lots of things to say and 600,000,000 people can’t have it all wrong….

My Twitter take-off was rough. 

Sometimes I’d come up with what seemed to me, an award-winning tweet and it would fall flat.  Or, better yet, I’d simply forget to tweet it.  Maybe I’d get one good tweet out and then forget to log on for a month.  I quickly figured out that you have to either Tweet something that people wish they’d said or give them information they need but I couldn’t seem to do either.

And then I made a few Twitter friends.

@WarrenBobrow1@Create_Daily@MacCocktail were kind enough to follow me, chat with me and throw in a few favorites and retweets.  And slowly I gave a little more energy to Twitter and Twitter gave a little more back … and the magic emerged!

22 reasons why Twitter is awesome:

1. Trending in Twitter at the same time on the same day was #CleavageAppreciationDay and #WaysToGetSlapped

2. My job revolves around marketing to consumers and social media is the hot topic in the industry so I don’t have to hide my computer screen when I tweet at work.

3. I am now the social media expert at my company.

4. I get to make up words.

5. Bunches of other people have already made up words like “Narcissitwit” or “Tweep” and I can use these words or not.

6. Twitter is a good model for real life relationships, minus the “real life” part.  Concepts suggesting you treat people as you’d like to be treated play out quickly on Twitter  – pay attention, be polite, be supportive and it will come back to you.

7. I get to chat with people I’ve never met and who in the normal path of my day, I never would meet.

8. I root for the people I’ve come to know and they root for me. When @foodista tweeted my blog post about Anticuchos to their entire following,  @WarrenBobrow1 wrote to congratulate me.    @MacCocktail told his twitterverse I’m funny enough to follow and many have participated in my Twitter polls, sharing opinions on what Big Bird was drinking when the was the subject of a political hit to what Congress was drinking when they decided to shut down. 

9. When someone favorites one of my tweets, retweets or replies to me, I feel special and amazed that in all the noise, they found me.  It’s sort of like finding the people who want to sit with you in the cafeteria on your first day in a new school.

10. And things take off! I have no idea why, but this week, my January 29th “THANK YOU” to @HolidayBakerMan for sharing that chocolate is just like salad caught on and was retweeted and favorited over and over and over.  It was like watching the cherries line up on a slot machine and I was rewarded for recognizing @HolidayBakerMan’s humor.

11.  Shrinking a long thought into 140 characters is like doing a puzzle so by tweeting, I’m warding off Alzheimer’s.

12. I know that #hashtag jokes have #JumpedTheShark but it still makes me #LOL

13. Chris Christie and other scandals, on Twitter, are gifts that keeps on giving. Twitter is where I first saw the New Yorker cover of Chris Christie playing in traffic. It’s where I read the feelings of rabid supporters and detractors.  And generally put me in the know about all things Bridgegate … or Beibergate … and I know Twitter will come through on the next scandal.

14. Twitter (and social media) helped breathe life into the Arab Spring.  Even if you never tweet ever in your life, you must think that’s pretty cool.

15. When I post a blog on Twitter, people actually click and read (Thank you!)

16. Twitter is a great equalizer. Anyone can influence anyone.

17. My Klout score is 47, putting me in the top 30% of all social media users.  I’m an influencer (as I should be) in “Beer, Spirits, Entertainment, Cocktails and Wine.” I have no idea how Klout works but I’m inclined to believe them since these stats make it seem like I know what I’m doing

18. My Twitter persona has an excellent life, is carefree and often very drunk.

19. Every time I get a follower, I’m thrilled. Really. I consider it a compliment and an achievement. (So here’s where I say, “Follow me!” @margagogo)

20. The downside of taking my following personally is that I’m bummed when someone unfollows me but that just makes me try harder.

21. There is no ad stalking on Twitter so when I log in, I’m not met with a banner offering “fun and flirty plus size fashions” or a picture of the area rug I clicked on six months ago.

22. I learned, on Twitter, about the first frozen margarita maker! (Thank you @TrueBlueNectar)

And here is where my Ode to Twitter ends.  To all my readers, followers, clickers and tweeters and friends, THANK YOU!

At the end of each year, my friends pick a theme for the year to come.

Finding a few words to set a tone for the days ahead is tricky business.  Add in the wish to balance humor with momentum and the need to come up with a single idea that will gain mass acceptance and you get an idea of the care that goes into each theme choice.

Despite our best efforts, some have been more successful than others.

The Year of The Hard Body:  We gave ourselves latitude on this one. We could meet the goal by improving personal fitness or by dating a hot guy who already had a hard body.  This was a spectacular failure on both counts.

The Year of Amore:  I think this was the year I dated a guy with a cheese phobia. Amore? Not quite.

The Year of Giving:  What I gave must have been brain cells because I really don’t remember how we followed through on the theme’s intention.  I do recall an attempt to be giving of spirit.  I gave a second, third and fourth chance to the guy I was dating and as a result, I have the distinction of being broken up with four times in four months.

The Year of the Bitch:  This might have been an over-correction after The Year of Giving.

The Year of No Fear:  Awesome because it rhymes, this theme was about going after dreams.  I wrote a novel.  I didn’t get it published before the theme expired so fear set in. Maybe this theme should be renewed.

The Year of Fun:  It had been a while since we had a contagious giggle. You know, when it’s hard to say the exact funny thing that sets the laughter in motion but it starts to roll and if you stop, you can’t look your friends in the eye without starting again. We had so much fun in this year that I decided to replay it because the next year was …

The Year of Yes:  I’ve come to believe all those childhood promises:  Ask and ye shall receive; You reap what you sow; I’m rubber and you’re glue ….  So it felt reckless for “yes” to be the standard for the year.  There are a lot of things that nobody should say yes to and there’s no need to invite them around.  So I went rogue and repeated our most successful theme, The Year of Fun.

The Year of Adventure:  We defined “Adventure” as anything new.  Anytime we were on the fence about a plan and wondered if we should bother with the first date or the museum exhibition or the out of the blue plans with new friends, we said, “Well, it is the year of adventure!” And we went. We also went to Turkey and Greece (and for the record, I was able to get excellent margaritas in both countries.)

This year is The Year of Well and Good.  This suggests balance and every past theme rolls into this one.  We need to be giving and bitchy, have fun and adventure, be fit in body and mind and be all around good citizens. I think we’re off to a good start. I’m mentoring a 14-year old through IMentor and if all goes well, I will mentor her straight into college. We are lending our effort to Cycle for Survival to raise money for research into cures for “rare” cancers.  Because Cycle for Survival requires getting on a bike, I’ve finally started to exercise.  And, we’ve booked a trip to Iceland with hopes of seeing the Aurora Borealis.

And the year has only begun!

My adventure to find the perfect margarita continues.

I checked out Park Kitchen. It’s brand new in the lobby of newly renovated Park Central Hotel (NYC).  The space is graciously designed though it’s impossible to forget, even for a moment, that you’re in the middle of a hotel lobby.

I didn’t have much hope for the margarita since lobby bars, even in New York City, often disappoint.  When my drink appeared, the bright yellow hue made me think I was looking at high-end mix abuse.

Park Kitchen Marg - Well & Good!

Park Kitchen Marg – Well & Good!

But it was good and strong.  The flavors well-balanced and the tequila was the clear star.

I left feeling both well and good.

My Year in Blogging

WordPress sent me a wrap up for 2013.

Wordpress

The report has animated fireworks graphics that shoot sparks to represent blog action. For those of you who follow my blog, you understand my WordPress fireworks are small but mighty and maybe closer to a small town July 4th festival and not the Macy’s fireworks extravaganza.

I wrote 12 posts last year, had over 1,200 views and uploaded 61 pictures.

What the cold data doesn’t show is how much heart, soul and liver I pour into each post.

The post I’m most proud of, and possibly the best thing I will ever write is Notice to Elected “Helpers” Everywhere.   The post that gets the most consistent traffic is 8 Cringe-worthy Pick-Up Lines. The worldwide search rate for pick-up lines that cause cringing might explain why the marriage rate is dropping.  Naked In The Shallow End cracks me up and I feel quite clever when I do Twitter polls. The latest is in Dear Congress, Have Another Drink!

Writing isn’t easy. Or maybe it would be easy if I wrote more often but I seem to have a problem with the first rule of writing: Ass in Chair!

Some of my distractions are more legitimate than others. 12 hours of high-stress work is like putting my brain in the dryer on high heat. My Muse comes out wrinkled and stained, covered in my dried and crusted creative juices. I might enjoy a drink after a long day and my liver is a team player, up-for-anything organ. My heart and soul are higher maintenance.

And my head turns for shiny things like travel or shopping or watching Episodes or taking a nap or going to the gym (Ha! Kidding! I don’t go to the gym!)

Writing is like exercising – the more you do, the better you feel when you do it. Sometimes, the words just flow no matter how undisciplined I’ve been. I suppose that’s the exercise equivalent to being a weekend warrior.  Notice to Elected “Helpers” Everywhere flowed, and like the 40-year old sedentary dad who plays football with his High School friends once a year on Thanksgiving, I felt energized in the moment and then sore for days.

For a while, I was writing a lot and my Muse was fit enough to do the creative writing version of a Triple Salchow (take a moment to appreciate the Olympic reference – and spelling. Who knew?).  I don’t write well at home, since my apartment is full of shiny things, so I carry my laptop to bars and bakeries with good drinks or cupcakes and most important, good writing vibes.  Eventually I rewarded myself with the purchase of a MacBook Air.  I’ve recently started carrying my laptop around again in hopes of recapturing my writing mojo.  I rarely open it.  I just carry it.  I’m thinking of investing in a first generation, 10-pound laptop from 1990 so I at least get exercise benefit.

While I haven’t been a prolific blogger, I assure you that when it comes to research, I’m on it.  In 2013, I drank margaritas in at least six states and two foreign countries.  I ordered margaritas in Irish bars, Italian eateries and friend’s kitchens.  I expanded the margagogo team adding a Brooklyn Editor and I launched a recruitment program for future margagogo leaders.  My five and eight year-old nieces show great promise.

I would tell you I resolve to blog more in 2014 but I can’t tell you about my New Year’s Resolutions until April.  If I’m still with them by then, they’re resolutions and not passing thoughts.  I can tell you that I’m looking forward to a 2014 full of fireworks – both inside my blog and out.  And I hope your year is full of fireworks too!

Happy New Year!

Stay tuned for more margagogo – chocolate & churros, great things about Twitter, lemons of life …

Not being Santa Claus frees me up to do lots of stuff.

I’m not responsible for delivering gifts to the 1.9 billion children of the world.  Be thankful for that.  Logistics isn’t in my wheelhouse.

The Santa Operations Center at NORAD reports that Santa had an on-time departure.  He’s following his usual route, starting in the South Pacific, hitting New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Asia, Africa, Europe, followed by North America and South America.  At the time of writing this post, Santa is about to deliver to Kenya. NORAD says they aren’t responsible for planning Santa’s route – they just track him!  Which is good for NORAD because that frees their staff up for other things too.

Here are 5 things I’ve done with the free time I have (from not being Santa):

1. Travel to Seattle.  I made my way to Seattle to spend the holiday with margagogo’s Marketing Director and North West Correspondent, as well as margagogo’s two biggest non-margarita drinking fans and margagogo’s future Investigative Reporter and Managing Editor. (Tracking how people move around so gifts can be delivered properly must be time-consuming and a giant pain in Santa’s tuchas.)

2. Win all Tickle Fights.  Since the future margagogo employees are only 8 and 5, I can still take em. Size and a team approach makes my future standing in tickle fights uncertain. My nieces are getting bigger and getting organized.

3. Manage Amazing Feats of Athletic Prowess.  Ice skating and rock wall climbing topped off with cartwheels are what it takes to keep up with the margagogo team. I made it to the top of the rock wall (in the children’s section), never left the ice till skating ended and after years of considering my body a no cartwheel zone, managed impressive cartwheel form. Christmas is an endurance event for everyone. I’m a little tired now so I can’t imagine how Santa feels when he parks his sleigh back at the North Pole on the 26th.  He is an endurance champion. But as crafty as he is about getting down chimneys, I’m certain he can’t pull off cartwheels.

4. Eat and Eat More.  Evidence indicates that Santa makes this a priority and everyone celebrating is doing the same.  So I won’t dwell on food. I’ll just say that I’m stuffed full and can’t imagine eating again at least until dinner.  Thank goodness I only have to wait a few hours.

5. Drink Margaritas.  Santa needs to be sober but since I’m not driving a sleigh tonight, sobriety isn’t a priority for me.  My future Managing Editor and I invented the song “The 10 Margaritas of Christmas” and I’m ashamed to say that actual events don’t live up to the lyrics.  But, I did manage to taste test at three different venues:

La Catrina.  Seattle, WA. Nothing says “Christmas” like a mural with a skeleton.  And nothing says “Christmas” to me like a pint-sized margarita that’s actually good. What a gift!  So if you’re in Seattle, check out La Catrina. It’s in Georgetown – a hip and gritty neighborhood. (For you East-Coasters, it reminds me of Hoboken of ten years ago.)

The Whale Wins.  Seattle, WA. I made a mistake by not asking them where the name came from but going here was a genius idea (credit to my Marketing Director).  They’re serious about their drinks and take great pride in the mixing.  And the bartender was happy to share his margarita secret – Dry Curaçao instead of Triple Sec or Cointreau to give the drink zip without syrup sweetness.  It worked.  I had two.  If you go to the Whale Wins, make a reservation or go at lunch.  I hear they get quite a crowd.

The Big Picture. Possibly the best place in Seattle, WA.  It’s a theatre and a bar.  A bar and a theatre.  If you give them your seat number they will deliver drinks to you as often as you direct.  They too serve a margarita in a pint glass (scary sign) and they too pull it off!  And they’re serious about their mixing.  They also serve popcorn in champagne buckets and give out Hershey’s Kisses with the tickets.  I love this place.

The Big Picture

Merry Christmas!  I hope not being Santa gives all of you time to focus on the important stuff too.

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