Wrap It Up. August 23 2013.

Jasper in Box Hammock

Aww, it’s Mr. Jasper.  I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the ways of cats, but this orange tabby has never met a box that couldn’t be lounged in. This particular box was approximately 1/3 too small for his husky build, but he assessed, wiggled and found a way to make it work, hammock-style.  The world is a nap surface.

It’s been a busy week, and I’m looking to forward to some quality putzing time on the New York City streets and my couch.  Earlier this week, I applied for yoga teacher training, which I have been thinking about for a long time.  And then I got in!  (Yay me!!) Plus ten grownup points.  And then I accidentally paid for it twice and threw my finances into a tizzy.  (Boooooooooo.)  Minus ten grownup points.  Rules for the weekend: Less money spending and less alcohol drinking.


Animals jumping on trampolines.  My favorite part is the Shiba Inu, who is analyzing the trampoline so hard he can’t possibly enjoy himself. Like, ugggghhh, if I only had the right tools, I could only fix this gosh darn broken floor and everything would be fine.

Have you guys seen Maisy and Lennon Stella on Nashville yet?  Their rendition of Ho Hey by The Lumineers is just the best, I can’t get over how talented and adorable they are.

Guys with fancy lady hair.

I’m trying to get the family to go to a new place in Flushing for dim sum.  I love our standby Dong Yi Feng, but sometimes you just want to try something new.  Any suggestions?

Have an amazing weekend! (Can you believe that summer is almost over??! Go outside!  Fly a kite! Tan!)

Love, Grace


Wrap It Up. August 16 2013.


It’s Friday afternoon and the weather has been seven shades of gorgeous for the past few days.  This weekend, I’m off to DC to visit some friends, go for a nice long hike, and hopefully eat and imbibe many delicious things.  What are YOU doing?

Some things:

Eid, the last day of Ramadan, was this week and our office celebrated with a Middle Eastern feast, complete with live musicians.  The flavors, the spicing, and the general luscious smell that hung in the air for most of the day made me just want more.  I ran into The Pomegranate Diaries, and feel the need to try everything especially the Adas Polow, the Persian version of lentils and rice.  You know I love lentils and rice.

I’ve had four burgers in the past two weeks.  They were delicious but I feel terrible about it.  Thisthisthis, and this.

“It’s possible to obey all laws & conventions & still be a jerk. Success lies in rebellious love, unconventional kindness & defiant decency.”  Love that Cory Booker.  (Did you catch The Atlantic article about him?  I super love the idea of having ideological capital.

The National.  Underrated.

Happy weekend!



Ix-nay On…Brains?


I was listening to this American Life the other day, as Ira and gang meandered through an episode on doppelgangers.  First up, (or should I say Act One) was a piece on passing off sliced pig rectum as…dum dum dum…imitation calamari.  (By the way, pig rectum is officially known as BUNG a.k.a. funnest word ever.) Initially, yes, I was horrified, but when I stopped to think about it, I was really just horrified by possibly being lied to.  NOT by the bung eating.

I’ve had this bung you speak of.  And I liked it.

Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t – Chinese people think everything is edible.  Like everything.  Color the world in shades of cold jellyfish salad, braised chicken feet, sea cucumbers, swallow spit, fish eyeballs, congealed pork blood cubes, duck tongues on a stick, fish head stew, and spicy tripe casserole.  On the less esoteric end, meat is always with bone in, fish with head on and everything with skin on.  Growing up in a Chinese household, within the ethnic food buffet that is New York City and being lucky enough to do a good amount of global traveling, food has always equaled adventure without the defying of death and threatening of life.  When confronted with a new, exotic dish, the question has always skipped right past the yes versus no to ‘is it good?’.  If you’ve come to conclusion that this also called being greedy, you are so correct.  Being overly confident in this particular sector of life, I thought there was nothing I could eat that would faze me.

Cut to the former M.Wells Diner in Long Island City, winter of 2011.  We had a bunch of good eaters doing what they do best, with a table of raw seafood, escargot, foie gras, maple pie, and veal brains.  Veal brains.  They tasted much like what I had envisioned – silky like a slightly toothsome tofu, with an undefinable sweetness.  In the moment, I felt fine about but for weeks afterwards I felt guilty and terrible, with a nightmare or two thrown in for a good measure. I decided that this was a food boundary I would not be crossing again.  It made me a little sad, as I like to think of myself as a person who eats everything, but this particular food has quite effortlessly punched through my imaginary armor.

Which made me wonder, adventurous eaters, what’s your food kryptonite?

(Thanks to my cousin, Peter, for the in-action shot of pork blood/rice cake on a stick at a Taiwanese night market.  Good job with the eating.)

Welcome to the future.

East River Ferry Ride

Dear loyal readers,

For the longest time, 2012 just sounded like the distant future, and I had to keep reminding myself it was the now.  Now we’re in 2013, and we might as well be strapping on our jetpacks.  (Btw, have you heard this band?  I am heads over heels over their name. )

The last half of this year has just blown by, with barely a post from me in the last few months.  I’ve missed you so. I’ve changed jobs, gone to India, got stranded in Austria, found myself waist deep in a relationship, gained some friends and misplaced some others, and generally have been lucky enough to be good, happy and healthy.  I hope you have too.

First, guys and girls, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading.  It means so much to me that you read Smartest Cleverest.  Second, I’ll be making some exciting changes to the site.  In the process of writing on a more regular basis for Smartest Cleverest in the past year, I’ve noticed that the posts that I get most excited about writing are the recipes.   They are fun. (Please say you think so too.)  For a while there, I had a pretty big mental block against being a food blog.  “The world is awash in food blogs.”  “Who doesn’t have a food blog?” “No one one cares about what you ate last night.”  (That was my brain mocking itself, by the way.)  But I’ve decided it will be fine, this is what I’ll be doing.  Check out my new About page and the slight name change. New categories, and posts will follow shortly.  Stay tuned!






And to make up for the recent temporary lull, a list of things that have inspired me in the last year.  May it spark a light in you.

  1. Have you read Steal Like An Artist by Mr. Austin Kleon?  The bit about how blogging is learning what you want to write about?  And yea, all those other really brilliant bits.
  2. Penelope Trunk.  Yes, she’s craaazy and arrogant, but damn smart.  And also unapologetic about cutting to the chase.   Like this.  And this.  And this.
  3. This quote by Woodrow Wilson, a reminder to look above the fray: “You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with great vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.”
  4. Jiro and his bone-deep commitment to his craft.
  5. This poem by Kathleen Lynch I ran into on Swiss Miss.  It is currently being transferred from my (paper!) planner 2012 to planner 2013.
  6. Beyonce at the United Nations belting out ‘I Was Here.”  Girlcrush forever.




I wore my Obama tube socks all night, and they totally worked.  You can thank me later.  Or now.  Or never.

I lucked onto this little gem yesterday morning on Neatorama by Mumford & Sons, and now just can’t stop playing it on repeat.  Pretty video, pretty song.


Which made me think of this Black Keys song.


Which is also on my repeat playlist.

You should smooch anyone who plays you this song.  Or at the very least lick their face.  Love.

And then I thought of this classic Wilco song.  Bob Dylan much?


What can I say, my mind works in categories.  Pretty, pretty, little categories.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: