Back in the Borough: An Epic New York Weekend

Hi friends,

So besides the helicopter tour Chris and I took on Friday (which I talked about yesterday), we also purchased Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets to check out the amazing Garry Winogrand exhibit (if you’re in town before Sept. 21, you should seriously check it out!) on Saturday, as well as The Cloisters on Sunday. (Tickets to the Met also get you free admission to The Cloisters in the same week.)

I’ve been jonesing to see the Winogrand exhibit since I read about it in New York Magazine about a month ago, and checking out The Cloisters (which is located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan — kind of a pain to get to) has been on Chris’s Manhattan bucket list for a while so, you know … two birds with one stone ;)

The Met is one of my all-time favorite places (it’s a very close second to The Museum of Natural History), and The Cloisters turned out to be totally interesting and beautiful. So it was a good NYC weekend, my friends. A very good one, indeed.

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photo 21^^ Views from The Cloister’s terrace were spectacular.

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photo 14^^ The garden with all the medieval herbs and flowers was definitely my favorite part of the visit.

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Photo 6^^ The walk from the subway to The Cloisters is actually quite steep, so visitors beware — don’t wear heels!

photo 5^^ Saturday after The Met we stopped off at the Third Avenue Ale House and then Kaia Wine Bar, both in our neighborhood. At the Ale House we asked to sample some of the beers, and they came in these adorable teeny, tiny little beer mugs. How could we not take a photo?!

And a few from The Met:

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Bis bald, my friends! I hope everyone had a swell weekend, as well!

 

Back in the Borough: A Helicopter Tour High Above NYC

Hi friends,

So Chris and I finally cashed in on an amazing wedding present from one of Chris’s friends in Australia — a helicopter ride high above this beautiful city. We booked with HeliNY Tours (which is pretty pricey at more than $300 for two people, but totally worth it, in my opinion).

Here’s a bit of what we saw …

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It was, without a doubt, one of the most fun experiences I’ve had since living in good ole’s NYC.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the Borough: When Old Friends Come to Visit

Hi friends,

So I just had one of my dearest friends come to visit me in NYC, and oh the fun we had. She was here from Friday through Tuesday, and because she used to live here, there was none of that usual pressure of checking out all the touristy spots or rushing around to do as much as possible. Instead, we could pick and chose which activities meant the most to us, and isn’t that just always the best way to do things?

Anyway, I miss her a ton, and I was going through some of the photos I took while she was here and thought I’d post them to share a bit of what we did since, you know, I thought it was so much fun ;)

Just some food for thought!

01Me_and_Lise^^ I met Lisa at Penn Station on Friday (I was coming back to the city from my parents’ in Jersey, she was coming from Virginia), and before we even dropped our bags off at home we stopped at Blockheads, an amazing Mexican restaurant with even more amazing drinks called Bulldogs. (Tiny Coronas mixed in with Margaritas — yum.) Anyway the combination of Bulldogs and the beer we drank when we did finally make it back to my apartment may or may not have contributed to the silliness of this photo.

02Refinery_Rooftop^^ Granted this isn’t the best photo, but the next night we met some friends for drinks at the Refinery Rooftop, which is a pretty lovely little spot in midtown to grab a quick drink.

03Times_Square^^ After drinks we walked over to Times Square to catch a play …

04Our_Youth^^ Which was This is Our Youth, with Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson, now in previews at the Cort Theater.
05Me_and_Lise2^^ While we had every intention of walking the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday to meet up with friends at their apartment on the other side, we were lazy for the first half of the morning, and instead ended up grabbing a cab …

06Brooklyn_Bridge^^ And taking photos out of the window of the back seat.

07Empire_View^^ After dinner at El Cantinero in Union Square, we walked down to Washington Square Park and caught a glimpse at the Empire State gleaming in the background through the Washington Square Arches.

08Fountain_View^^ And we sat by the water fountain.
09Me_and_Lise3^^ And we took selfies.

10Hudson_River^^ The next day we walked all the way from my apartment on the Upper East Side to the Hudson River all the way as far as  you can go on the West Side.

11Boat_Basin^^ Which is where the Boat Basin is, a cute little outdoor cafe that sits right overlooking the water.

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And that, as they say, was that, my friends. You know — in case you’re looking for ideas for when your own bestie comes to visit you in NYC ;)

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: The Mansfield Hotel and Long Walks Home

Hey friends,

With all that’s been going on this summer, I haven’t had a lot of time to just wander around NYC. Last night, though, I met a friend for drinks at The Mansfield Hotel bar (aptly named M Bar) in midtown (drinks here are expensive, but the atmosphere is laid back and subdued, which can be really nice (and hard to find) in the hubbub of midtown. If you do find yourself here, you simply must try Violet’s Blue Martini with fresh blueberries and pineapple juice. To die for.)

Anyway, the bar is on 44th, and as I started walking to the subway I thought … why not walk home? I haven’t done that in forever, and the night was cool and breezy after the rain, so I just went ahead and did it, my friends.

And you know what? It was lovely.

Public_Library^^ Even on a wet and dreary day, the New York Public Library is still the most lovely.

Pretty_Buildings^^ If this photo doesn’t scream New York — with its lights, tall buildings and taxi cab — then I don’t know what does.

Radio_City^^ If you squint really hard, you can see the red Radio City lights shining away in the background.

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Rockefeller_Center^^Rockefeller Center, in all its glory.

St_Patricks^^ It’s kinda hard to tell from this photo, but St. Patrick’s Cathedral is getting a massive facelift.

Street_Vendor^^ I have an unhealthy obsession with street vendors — particularly of the large pretzel variety ;)

54th_St^^ 54th Street ya’ll! Only 40 more blocks to go!

Sky_Clock^^ I couldn’t tell you why, but I think there’s something eerily beautiful about this photo …

Birdcage_Women^^ Birdcage women? Interesting display.

Fall_Clothes^^ Anyone else as purely ecstatic about the fall weather clothing making its way to window displays? No? That’s just me? Okay then.

Okay friends. Well I promise to be back at some point to talk more about Gallow Green, the rooftop garden where we celebrated my sister’s engagement last weekend. It’s seriously a sight to be seen.

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: A Sunday Visit to Gotham West Market

Hi friends,

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend! Chris and I spent the holiday watching soccer, celebrating good friends at their wedding in the West Village and checking out Gotham West Market, which I have been wanting to visit for a while now.

photo 1^^Our first stop was Ivan Raman Slurp Shop for some ramen noodles.

photo 2^^I had the veggie noodles and Chris got the Tokyo Shio with pork belly.  Both were super delish.

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photo 4^^ After lunch we moved on to El Colmado for some wine on their outdoor bar stools.

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photo 7^^Finally, at Cannibal we took advantage of their 3 o’clock happy hour to grab some beer and cocktails. It was the perfect ending to the day.

photo 8^^ Except that I wasn’t done yet, because I had to grab some ice cream from Jeni’s. A triple scoop with three different flavors. Do not come all the way out to Gotham West Market (which is pretty far out of the way if you live where we do) without picking up some ice cream. This alone would have made the trip worth it.

photo 9^^ We had some time to kill before 3 o’clock happy hour at Cannibal, so we walked the two blocks over to the Hudson to partake in the view — which includes the Intrepid.

photo 10^^ A seriously true sentiment.

photo 11^^ Kayaks, just waiting to see the light of day.

photo 12^^ This guys was teaching paddle board lessons to a small group of people. I could not partake in this activity, even if I wanted to.

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And that was about it, my friends! A very good 4th of July weekend, indeed. Next weekend I’m off to Atlantic City for one of two bachelorette parties there this summer, then it’s on to Rehobeth Beach for a week with the family directly from AC.

Bis bald, friends — and happy July!

 

Back in the Borough: Grab Some Sweets in NYC

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Welcome, friends, to the delectable part of my Weary Wanderer ‘In NYC’ Guide that is ‘Grab Some Sweets in NYC’! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate sweets — and even more so in the summer, for some reason. There’s just something about the warmer weather that says fro yo and candy in the park to me.

Anyway, there are a lot of places to get your sweet on in NYC, but I’ve compiled a list of my six all-time favorites here, along with one ‘must try ASAP’ option. So, without further ado … you no longer have an excuse for not sugaring up when you’re visiting Manhattan.

Where to Grab Some Sweets in NYC

  1. Baked by Melissa for cupcakes: Sure, you could hit up Crumbs for the most gigantic cupcakes of your life that will totally spoil your dinner and, trust me, there is a time and a place for that — but on any given day, you can hop on into a Baked by Melissa shop and eat multiple of the most delectable, delightful, teeny tiny cupcakes you’ve ever had in your life. I mean, July’s ‘Mini of the Month’ (how adorable is it that they call them that?) is the Root Beer Float cupcake. Ummm … ’nuff said.
  2. Dylan’s Candy Bar for candy: There isn’t one stinkin’ stankin’ thing that I don’t love about Dylan’s Candy Bar. (Well, maybe the prices, but hey, it’s Manhattan.) OHMGEE you guys. Back in my days as a staffer at magazines, I used to attend events on the top floor of this candy wondershop, and I always hopped at the chance to go. The decor is adorable. They have every candy option under the sun — I mean, they even do Candy Cocktails. For candy, Dylan’s can’t be beat. [Oh and by the way, "Dylan" of Dylan's Candy Bar is Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph, inspirer of all your little kid candy-covered dreams -- so that's cool.]
  3. Corner Cafe & Bakery for cake: Okay you guys, I’m not gonna lie — this is a bit of a shout out to a neighborhood joint. I’ll admit it — Corner Cafe & Bakery holds a special place in my heart. This little cafe is in my neighborhood [on the corner of 3rd and 92nd, to be exact], and many, many, many a night I have walked home past an appropriate bedtime [sorry, Mom and Dad], past this tiny little bakery, to the sweet smells of the night staff making all those delicious treats fresh for the morning. Plus, this is pretty much where we get our birthday cakes every single year. They’re kinda the best. [They make a mean Chai Latte, too!]
  4. Tasti D-Lite for frozen yogurt: Frozen yogurt is kind of a huge thing in the city, my friends, I’m not sure if you know that. But while the 16 Handles and Red Mango’s and Pinkberry’s of the world are trying to inch their way in, I’m still a Tasti D kinda gal all the way. There used to be one on our block — the kind that only served three variations — chocolate, vanilla and a flavor of the week. But it’s closed, and now I have to, sadly, walk all the way to 86th street, to a much larger Tasti D with many, many more options (phooey) to get my fix. The best frozen yogurt is a very personal thing to Manhattanites — but if you want this girl’s opinion, I’ve tried ‘em all, and you can’t go wrong with the classic D-Lite.
  5. Li-Lac Chocolates in Grand Central Market for chocolate: When a place has been around, in NYC, since 1923, you just know it’s got to be great. Li-Lac is conveniently located in the Grand Central Market, just perfect for picking up a delicious little chocolate treat in between tourist stops at the Chrysler Building and Bryant Park. Go on … you know you want to.
  6. Macaron Parlour for Macarons: Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese. Elvis. Honey & Cognac. S’Mores. Oh, Macaron Parlour … you just get me. Located in the East Village [which is so fun], and conveniently next to the Hummus Place [which I adore], the Macaron Parlour is the perfect place to stop in for a sweet treat in NYC — although I dare you to try eating just one macaron. I maintain that this is a physically impossible feat.
  7. Dying to try: Levain BakeryThe Levain Bakery seems to have everything I love and more: from cookies and baguettes to brioche, sticky buns and apple bread. I want it, I need it, gimme, gimme gimme! Levain is most definitely on my dying to try list.

And that’s it, friends! If this list doesn’t get you sufficiently sugared up, well I just don’t know what will. Up next on my ‘In NYC’ list … amazing places for photographs in NYC.

Bis bald friends — and to all, a happy Independence Day!

 

Back in the Borough: Caffeine Up in NYC

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Happy Thursday, my friends! Today I’m talking about something that is near and dear to my heart — awesome places to caffeine up in NYC. I absolutely love a good cup of coffee, and a bad cup of coffee just makes me so, so sad. I’ve scoured this great city of mine for awesome spots to grab some coffee [and tea!], and this list, I think, is sure to make any caffeine addict happy.

So drink up, my friends!

Where to Caffeine Up in NYC

  1. Alice’s Tea Cup for tea:  Herbal. White. Red. Organic. Green. Black. Name a tea, and Alice’s is sure to have it. Tea arrives in your own personal tea pot, and be sure to throw in an amazing scone with your drink for good measure. [P.S. There are three Alice's locations in the city: one in midtown, one in the UES and one in the UWS, so you know, it's pretty convenient.]
  2. Cafe Mocha for lattes and cappuccinos:  Chris and I hit up Cafe Mocha after seeing STOMP at the beginning of this year, and it quickly became one of my faves. This East Village gem is charming around the holidays with its cute little twinkle lights, and the cappuccinos are fantastic. If you happen to be hungry, as well, try a tasty crepe — they come in so many varieties, you’re sure to find one you like.
  3. The Palm Court at The Plaza for the atmosphere: About two years ago now, Chris’s parents were visiting from Australia and had a hankering to try out the fancy tea service at The Palm Court in The Plaza hotel. If you’re looking for a place where you can wear your fanciest duds and sip on extravagant teas [extravagant in both presentation and price], then this is the place for you.
  4. Dean & Deluca for convenience: Felicity may have made it famous for kids my age, but Dean & Deluca has been delighting caffeine lovers in NYC since 1977. With locations in the Rockefeller Center Plaza, SOHO market and the Madison Market and Espresso Bar, this is truly a busy tourists coffee dream come true.
  5. Crumbs for a quick, tasty to-go option: Although Crumbs is mostly famous for its insanely humongous cupcake options, I personally have found the coffee there to be mighty tasty as well.
  6. Dying to try: Stumptown: I’m hearing good buzz about Stumptown, my friends, but I’ve not yet been able to try it for myself. If anyone’s been, I’d love to hear how it compares!

So that’s my caffeine list, my friends, I hope it helps! Next up on my NYC tour — amazing places to grab some sweet treats!

Bis bald!

 

 

Back in the Borough: Bee-Bop in NYC

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I’m back today with a guide to fun (and somewhat funky, I’ll admit) places to listen to music in NYC. Of course there are plenty of concert halls and traditional places to catch your favorite band, but again, I’ve gone for a bit of the unconventional here. Some of these places offer live music as a backdrop, for others it’s the main event, but either way, listening to music at any of these “venues” will definitely give you something to talk about the next day.

Where to Listen to Music in NYC

  1. The Subways: One of the most amazing things about this place is that music is absolutely everywhere. You don’t always have to pay for it — you don’t even always have to want it! — but it’s there, all the same. The subways here are seriously alive with the sounds of music. From solo singers to Mariachi to 10-piece bands, you might be surprised with the talent you’ll be subjected to just when trying to get from one place to another. If you’re seeking out the music, try some of the big stops like Grand Central, Union Square and Times Square. Those are always happening.
  2. Terminal 5: This place is also somewhat sentimental for me and Chris [as was The Highline on my 'Things to Do in NYC' list] since it’s where we met and got engaged, and it’s also the only traditional music venue I’m putting on my list. Besides the amazing artists that perform here [we've seen Gogol Bordello, La Reux, The Gaslight Anthem and many others], they also have a fabulous rooftop where they sometimes throw parties or sponsor events. I particularly love the open floor plan of this place, and the two levels make it really easy to get a good spot to watch all the action.
  3. Fat Cat: Oh how we love Fat Cat. Come to this awesome little bar in the West Village to play some pool, scrabble or ping pong, drink some PBR (it’s so cheap!), and listen to some really amazing jazz music.  Plush couches and chairs make this venue so comfy, too.
  4. Philharmonic in the Park: Of course you could listen to the Philharmonic play on a stage … but where’s the fun in that? This event is seasonal, of course, as it takes place only a couple times of year, outside, under the stars in Central Park (and a few other parks in other boroughs). If you’re visiting during the summer, I highly recommend looking up the schedule for performances (found here), and grabbing a picnic to camp out on the lawn and listen. It’s an experience like no other. [Read more about our own experience with Philharmonic in the Park last year right here.]
  5. Cafe Wha: In Greenwich Village there sits a small and dark little venue called Cafe Wha … that is absolutely amazing. I have to admit that we haven’t been back here for years — maybe since Chris’s sister was here a couple years ago because she absolutely loves it. If you’d like to check this place out, you might consider calling ahead of time and making reservations, because it gets pretty packed. [Also of note: this place and Terminal 5 are the only places on my list so far that charge.] Another thing to keep in mind — this isn’t a place you come to chat. It can get pretty noisy once the band starts playing, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something to provide a more low-key atmosphere.
  6. STOMP at the Orpheum Theater: Okay — if my other options here are somewhat unorthodox, this one takes the cake. Technically, STOMP is so much more than music — it’s performance art. The theater is located in the East Village [you may recall, Chris and I took in a performance as part of our one-year anniversary celebration], and the performers act out the entire “story” using props like trash cans, brooms, mops, etc. It’s honestly pretty amazing, and totally worth seeing. The things they can make shopping carts do — I can’t even use a shopping cart properly when I’m not trying to make music with it!
  7. Dying to try: Jazz StandardIt’s not that I’m totally in love with jazz or anything, but this city has such a rich history of it [and Carrie and Big make it look so fun on that Sex in the City episode!], I’d really love to try out a jazz place — and this one looks amazing. They’ve got two earlier sets — one at 7:30 and one at 9:30 — and then a later one for the real jazz fans that starts around 11:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Check out the site ahead of time to buy tickets.

And that about sums it up, my friends — my list of amazing places to take in some music here in the city. Hope it helps! Up next week: some of my favorite places to caffeine up!

Bis bald, all!

Back in the Borough: Do in NYC

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Welcome to the third installment of my Things to Do in NYC series. This time I’m comin’ at ya with a list of some of my favorite activities in NYC. You don’t have to be a tourist to love these things — Chris and I partake in most of them on the regular, even though we live here.

There’s really no limit to the number of things you can do in this city, and this list is maybe a bit unconventional. I didn’t include things like taking in a Broadway show (always worth it) or visiting the Empire State Building (an ancient tradition). Some of these things might take some planning, and a couple of them are seasonal, but to accomplish some or most of the things here will, I promise, make you one very happy person.

What to Do in NYC

  1. Bike in Central Park: Whether you rent your bikes from one of the many stores available near the bottom entrance of the park, or just pick up a couple of Citi Bikes, biking through the park will still allow you access to some of the most beautiful areas of CP (although be cognoscente of the areas where you are supposed to walk your bike, and not ride it),  and it might just save you a little bit of time in the process. Be warned, though — biking around the outer loop of Central Park is not all fun and games. There are some pretty tough hills to tackle, my friends, especially in the northernmost  section of the park (otherwise known as the Harlem hills). Don’t be embarrassed if you have to get off your bike and walk it up in this area … I certainly did.
  2. Walk The High Line: The High Line will always hold a special place in my heart, since Chris and I stayed at The Standard Hotel overlooking The High Line the first night that we were married. But even without a sentimental reason to visit, The High Line is still pretty amazing. This public park is actually built on a set of old freight rail lines elevated above the city on the West side. It’s free to enter, and there are tons of snack and drink vendors along the walk. There’s also a fun seated section with a huge window overlooking the street where you can sit and watch the cars drive by as if from right underneath you.  After you’ve walked The High Line, stop off at the The Standard Biergarten for some drinks and pretzels [my fave!]. Another warning for you: this place gets packed, so if at all possible, I would make your High Line walk as early as possible, so that your visit to the Beer Garden is on the earlier side, as well. [Check their hours to see what suits your schedule.]
  3. Watch Shakespeare in the Park:  So this activity definitely takes some planning, but if done correctly, it can really be a spectacular day. The hardest part about this suggestion will be actually getting the tickets for admission. There is an online ticket lottery, but the chances of actually getting tickets this way are slim-to-none. In my opinion, your best bet is to camp out for them — and camping out is half the fun! As you may recall, I did this one day last summer with a friend [and I'm hoping to do it again this summer], so I won’t go into a ton more detail here.  You have to get there super early  [I'm talkin' 4:30 a.m. early] to even have a shot at getting the tickets, but you can camp out and read, and local restaurants send out delivery men to take food and drink orders, and park performers stop by and serenade you while you wait — it’s all part of the experience. Tickets are handed out at noon [they're free!], and the performances start around 6, so after you get your tickets you have the whole afternoon free before you have to come back for the performance. [Perhaps a nap will be in the cards?!]
  4. Visit DUMBO: Brooklyn has its own set of fun adventures to partake in, so I’m only going to include this one thing here, since visiting the DUMBO [which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass] section of Brooklyn provides you with the most amazing view of Manhattan, as well as access to a ton of other activities, like pop-up pools in the summer, Jane’s Carousel for the kids, lots of shops and restaurants and ice cream, etc. Check out more about DUMBO in this post that I wrote about my visit there last year.
  5. Ice skate in Bryant Park: If you know me at all, you’ll know that ice skating in Bryant Park is absolutely one of my favorite pasttimes. [So much so that my husband's first ever Christmas gift to me was a pair of skates and a lock specifically to use for the lockers at Bryant Park.] Anyway, it’s not just the skating rink at Bryant Park that makes it so special, it’s the entire Winter Village. The pop-up shops surrounding the rink provide the most festive ambiance for a late-night skate, and they play old-timey music and you can stop by Celcius afterwards for a hot toddy. The rink usually opens in November and closes around February (although the shops close right after the holidays), so that’s plenty of opportunity to dust off the old skates and go for a twirl! Skating is free here if you bring your own ice skates and lock.
  6. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: I mean … enough said, right?
  7. Dying to Try: A Visit to The Cloisters: A visit here is definitely on our NY to-do list. The Cloisters are technically a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although they’re actually located in Fort Tyron Park (check out directions here). I’ve heard that the grounds are beautiful, and the extension is used to exhibit the museum’s collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe. Pretty cool.

So those should keep you busy for a while! Up next: Bee-boppin’ around NYC. [AKA, the best places to listen to some music!]

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: Drink in NYC

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Hi friends — welcome to the second installation of my ‘Things to do in NYC’ series. Today I’ll be taking on an uber-important category … drinking. We tend to do a lot of going out where drinks are involved. When you’re hanging out with friends, when you have people in town, when you’re celebrating something — all of these occasions tend to lend themselves to the drink.

Does that sound bad?

Anyway, Chris and I love a good classy cocktail as much as we love beer as much as we can get behind a tasty glass of wine. Essentially, we’re not picky. When it comes to places to grab a drink, though, well that’s a different story. A great place to kick back with a drink can be hard to find. And it doesn’t always have to be fancy — I love a good dive as much as the next guy. I’ve been taking mental notes throughout my past almost-seven years here, remembering those bars that seem great for certain occasions, and I’ve come up with a list that, I think, covers most of the bases.

Let’s see what you guys think.

Where to Drink in NYC

  1. The Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel for the trendy set: I’ve talked about the Ace Hotel bar on this blog before, but it’s worth repeating on this list. On any given night here you’ll see drag queens hangin’, actors still in costume from the plays they just finished performing chillen’, boys and girls canoodling on the comfy couches — just a whole bunch of really amazing stuff you can pretty much only find in Manhattan. Plus, the bartenders make a mean Mojito.
  2. Brooklyn Brewery for the hops lovers: Having been to the brewery a handful of times now, I can honestly say this is the place to go for a relaxing afternoon with your friends. While it’s a bit out in the middle of nowhere, and it can take some time to get there if you’re traveling from Manhattan, it’s worth the trek. The beer is delish, the atmosphere is festive, and you can order pizza from a nearby restaurant and get it delivered right to your table. There’s just something so fantastic about that.
  3. Little Town for a taste of New York state: NYC is relatively small, right? So there’s not a whole lot of room to brew our own beers here. The entire state, however, is quite large, and amazing little breweries have been popping up all over for some time now. You don’t have to travel the length of NY to try them out, though — Little Town will bring them directly to your table. The last time I was here I talked about the map on the wall, which points out all of the locations around the state from which they gather their brews, including places like Ithaca, Rochester, Syracuse and Binghamton. It doesn’t hurt that their appetizers are amazing, as well.
  4. The Raines Law Room for an old-school feel: If sophisticated swilling of fine, fancy cocktails is what you’re looking for, look no farther than The Raines Law Room. Knock on the front door and see if you’ll even be allowed in — fanciness comes with a bit of attitude, my friends. If you are indeed let in, you’ll find that It’s dark, quiet and comfy with all of their soft, plush couches. And there’s no rushing the bar, here, either — just click the hidden buzzer at your couch and the waitress comes to you. Now that’s service.
  5. 2nd Floor on Clinton for speakeasy seekers: Another hidden gem (you have to walk to the back of a raging Mexican restaurant and politely ask the bouncer at the back stairs if you can go up), 2nd Floor on Clinton is the polar opposite of what you’ll find downstairs. Decorated as if you’re at home in a good friend’s apartments, you’ll find fireplaces and dim lighting, small tables, comfy chairs and couches and quiet music. The cocktails here are pretty $$, but they’re delicious, and I would highly recommend ordering the chocolates infused with different liquors.
  6. The Campbell Apartment for classy convenience: Let’s say you’re in midtown, and you’d like to grab some drinks, but you’d rather not head into a dive bar or spend hours trying to find a place that’s good and not crazy expensive. The Campbell Apartment is conveniently located right inside Grand Central Station, and their cocktails are cool and sophisticated (if also somewhat $$). There’s a dress code here, though, so if you walk in off the street in your jeans you may feel a bit out of place.
  7. Refinery Rooftop for the view: One of my favorite things about New York is rising above it. You’d be amazed the difference you’ll feel after a 10 second elevator ride brings you from concrete jungle to awe-inspiring vistas. The Refinery Rooftop is a new find for us (friends just recently brought us there earlier in the spring), but it’s bound to be a go-to place over the summer, especially when we have visitors.
  8. The Guthrie Inn for Manhattan lovers: This suggestion comes to you from the hubs, who prides himself on trying out Manhattans at every single bar we go to. He’s had ‘em at every single bar on this list, as well as countless others, and he swears, my friends, that in his expert opinion, The Guthrie Inn is the place to go for a slammin’ Manhattan in its namesake city. To be honest, this bar is a bit of a hole in the wall, and at Park and 97th St., it’s pretty out of the way of anything touristy — but the drinks make it worth it!
  9. Dying to try: The Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar at the Met: The rooftop at the Met can get pretty insanely crowded, as I’m sure you’ll imagine, so we have yet to brave the visit. Still, I’m hoping to hit up this hot spot during the early evening in the near future when I have a friend in town … I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Bis bald, friends! Next up on our tour around NYC — DO in NYC!

Back in the Borough: Where the Characters Are

Hi friends,

The other weekend when Chris’s uncle was visiting we took a little stroll through Times Square, and the characters were seriously on display. I mean, everywhere we turned, someone was in costume. So of course, I started snapping away:

photo 2^^ Look closely to the left and right of this photo and you’ll see Mickey and Minnie.
Mickey kept checking his phone, which I thought was hilarious.

photo 3^^ Wonder Woman!

photo 4^^ Batman!

photo 5^^ Elvis was taking a rest.

photo 6^^ I have no idea who this is. Flash? Iron Man? Who knows.

photo 1^^ This Golden Man got on the subway with me at Times Square
and got off at Grand Central. I love those two ladies on the left
trying to sneak a peak!

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the Borough: A Trip to the New 9/11 Memorial

Hi friends,

So today’s post is somber, to say the least. This past weekend when Chris’s uncle was in town, we decided to head over the new 9/11 Memorial, which had just opened the weekend before. We purchased our tickets ahead of time online, so we got to skip the lines, which was great.

I’ll start by saying I had mixed feelings about visiting. I didn’t necessarily know what to expect or how to prepare for it. Of course September 11 is never far from any American’s (and especially any New Yorker’s) mind, but to be confronted with it so full-on — I just didn’t know how I’d react.

The museum is laid out in a pretty open format, with timelines and some personal stories and a video on how the memorial was made, along with other odds and ends, scattered about. The guts of the memorial, though, lies in a separate showroom that you line up to get into. A sign outside warns that images may be too scary or sad for kids under 10, and they aren’t kidding — the images were too sad for me at points.

The memorial to the actual day (and the aftermath and lead up to the attacks and to the victims … this section goes on and on and on) doesn’t allow photography, but any and everything you can think of that might have to do with 9/11 — it’s here, in this showcase. Voicemails left on family member’s phones from people who were on the doomed flight that crashed in Pittsburgh. The police and fire dispatch from the day. Recordings of firsthand accounts from both First Responders and survivors from both of the towers. Photo after photo after photo of the destruction.

To be honest, at times it was too much, and I had to pause to catch my breathe.

We spent the better part of three hours here, and still I can’t say I saw everything they had on display.

World_Trade5^^ The very first thing you’ll see when you come in is this flight map showing
the trajectories of all of the planes, along with a quick timeline.

World_Trade6^^I realize this photo is dark and blurry, but I just thought it was so poignant
that I caught the revolving quotes from survivors and victim’s family members
on one that captures the entire event so completely:
“I couldn’t wrap my head around how anyone could do this.”

World_Trade7^^ This touched me perhaps the most out of everything I saw. The quote in and of itself
is powerful, and the blue stickies, each a slightly different shade, are artists’ renderings
of what they remembered the color of the sky to be from that day.
Remains from unidentified victims lie behind the wall.

World_Trade8

World_Trade2^^ Outside, two beautiful waterfalls are surrounded
by the names of those who lost their lives that day.

World_Trade4^^ When we left, the sun was just setting, and mixed with the skyscraper buildings
and the clouds in the sky, I don’t know … whether you believe in a God
or not, I think we all can agree that the friends and family
who lost loved ones all deserve something to hold on to.

 

Back in the Borough: Eat in NYC

NYCBackground_Eat

Welcome, my friends, to a new series I’ve decided to start! (A few of my fave bloggers have been doing similar things lately, so I decided to steal the idea from them and make it my own.) For the next few weeks I’ll be using a couple of different posts to share some of my absolute favorite places in this beautiful city with all of you. Whether it’s food, drinks, activities, shopping — I’ve got you covered.

Of course no NYC guide can be that comprehensive. This September will be my 7-year anniversary calling myself a Manhattan-ite, and I feel that I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what this city has to offer.

Having said that, I’ll give it my best shot! Today we’ll be starting with EAT in NYC. So enjoy — and if you’re ever in town, please feel free to stop by some of these places because, in my humble opinion, they’re pretty stinkin’ awesome.

Where to Eat in NYC

  1. Jane Restaurant for brunch: Head to this SOHO gem super early, because day-um she gets packed! But for good reason, though — this place is seriously amazing. The Sunday brunch comes with your choice of one free complimentary cocktail, and their vanilla bean french toast is to-die-for.
  2. Eataly for lunch: A trip to Eataly is as much about the people watching and ambiance as it is about the food … but the food is not to be missed! If you can tear yourself away from everything that’s happening in the store (pastas and truffles and meats … oh my!), pick from the nine different restaurant options [we've only made it to La Piazza so far, but I hear Birreria, the rooftop restaurant and brewery, is pretty amazing as well] to relax and have a lovely glass of lunch wine. Who doesn’t love that?
  3. The Fig & Olive for a simple dinner: If you like Mediterranean food, you’ll adore the Fig & Olive. They bring a sampling of olive oils and breads to your table before your meal, and the food is so pretty, you almost won’t want to eat it.
  4. Monkey Bar for a fancy dinner out: I’ve waxed poetic about this place before, so I won’t bother you again except to say that if you’re looking for some place so old-school Manhattan you’ll feel like you’re back in a black-and-white noir film, this is the place for you. [And the food's fantastic as well!]
  5. Jacob’s Pickles for Southern food: Sometimes a gal just has to have a big ole’ plate of biscuits and grits, and while Jacob’s Pickles is relatively new to our list of haunts, it definitely fills the void that’s been missing in my diet since I left college in Virginia. You might come for the comfort food, but you’ll stay for the pickle sampler plate — at least I do! [Just call me a Southern Bell! Actually no, please don't do that.]
  6. Landmarc at Columbus Circle for the view: Forget the food (the food’s fine, really, but that’s not actually what matters) — you’ll be too busy looking out the window. The floor to ceiling windows overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park will keep you occupied for hours … you might even forget to order.
  7. Dying to try: Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: I’ve read about it. I’ve seen Instagram photo after Instagram photo of it. Now, I just need to try it. With dozens upon dozens upon dozens of vendors, this Brooklyn Flea Food Market seems like it has a food option for every taste. [I'm particularly interested in Blue Marble Ice Cream and Noodle Lane ... I would like to try those, please.]
  8. Pizza and bagels: I know what you all are thinking. I can hear you all right now. “What the hell kind of NYC eats list is this without pizza and bagels?!” Well I left ‘em off on purpose kids, I left ‘em off on purpose. The thing is, every single New Yorker, if you were to ask her, will tell you her own favorite bagel and pizza place. Of course I could point you down the traditional, touristy route ["Hey, have you tried H&H Bagels ... so good!" "That slice of pizza from Grimaldi's was killer!"], but I just can’t stomach it. Instead, I’m going to be honest — both my favorite pizza in New York City ever and my favorite bagels in New York City ever are (or I should say were) right here in my neighborhood, probably because they’re easy and I’ve eaten them the most. The bagel place we frequent doesn’t actually appear to have gotten good reviews lately [it's like our own hair band in the soup incident from Seinfeld — "Paco must be cooking!" Only true die-hard Seinfeld fans will probably get that], and Zesty’s Pizza, I tip my hat to you. This delightfully delicious pizza parlor lived on the corner of 95th and 3rd for six of my seven years here, only to have recently been shut down by a very ugly building owner who wants to turn that whole block into a high-rise condo [as if we need any more of those]. I’m still in mourning, and I haven’t found a good pizza substitution since. Sorry if those categories are so lame, my friends, but what can I say … them’s the breaks.

Bis bald, my friends! I hope you all have fun weekend plans — and get excited, because DRINK in NYC is up next!

Back in the Borough: Baby’s First Baseball Game (and More Memorial Day Shenanigans)

Hi friends,

Hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! We spent it giving the apartment a seriously thorough cleaning (we’re talking moving the couch, picking up the living room carpet to vacuum under it cleaning …), visiting with Chris’s uncle who’s in from Australia, watching a Mets double-header with said uncle, our nephew (his first baseball game!), my sister and bro-in-law, and having a picnic/strolling around Central Park.

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photo 3^^ When you bring a one-year-old to a baseball game, there’s not a lot of baseball watching happening.
There was a lot of crawling around on the floor and pushing toy trucks and trains around … and it was the best ;)

photo 4^^ Not going to be interested in baseball any time soon, I don’t think.

photo 5^^ Chris’s uncle is visiting from Australia — wahoo!

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photo 7^^ My shoes are Mets colors — that’s how die-hard of a fan I am.
(Actually, it’s a coincidence, but a fun one nonetheless.)

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photo 11^^ Happy Memorial Day! Love, The Turtles from Turtle Pond

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photo 14^^ Obligatory selfie on the rocks near the lake.

Our crazy, busy summer hasn’t quite kicked in yet, and it was really nice to spend a couple days lazing around the city. She sure is a beaut.

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: Rainy Night Drinks at the Dream Hotel

Happy Tuesday friends — I hope everyone had a smashing weekend. On Friday Chris and I cashed in on a Travelzoo voucher for six drinks (Say what?! That’s a lotta drinks!) at the midtown location of the Dream Hotel. (According to Chris they have a lovely penthouse bar with awesome views of Times Square. This was not for that particular bar. It was for the bar — aptly named The Bar – attached to the ground floor of the hotel.)

Still, six drinks for $30? I’ll take it! It was a rainy, foggy night, which was kind of fun to be out in. So you just know  I snapped some shots, right?

01TheBar_Drinks^^ We tried so many drinks on their menu. The first one I ordered
came with that little tumbler, which made me feel very special.

Cab_Catching^^ Catching a cab in the city on a rainy night is next to impossible.
The teeth really come out in these situations.

Foggy_Night

Glasses_Graphic

Star_Burst

Wells_FargoWagon^^ You guys, it’s the actual Wells Fargo wagon! I saw this and had to take a photo,
and then of course the song was stuck in my head the rest of the night. Ah well, what can you do.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the Borough: A Happenstance Stroll Through the Park

Hello from gorgeous Colorado, my friends!

Today we’re in Boulder. Tomorrow it’s on to Breckenridge for a night, then Denver for our last final few days. I can’t wait to blog all about it, but right now, though, I want to talk about something else. It’s a little something I like to call fate, my friends, and it involves a fateful walk through Central Park that I had last Friday.

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I love when unplanned strolls through NYC turn into something a little extraordinary. This past Friday, an attempt to meet a friend and her son at Turtle Pond in Central Park turned into just that. After having gotten off at the wrong subway stop, I ended up needing to backtrack through Central Park for about 15 blocks to get to them.

But the day was a glorious spring one [and though the clouds threatened rain, it never actually did rain. Fate ;)], and I ended up walking right through what I truly think is one of the most amazing parts of the park.

Here’s a little bit of what I saw …

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photo 3 (65)^^ How beautiful is this area of the park, where the trees overlap to create a canopy? Gorgeous.

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photo 4 (57)^^ How funky is this tree?!

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photo 5 (52)^^ Loved these school kids, performing beautiful songs both out loud and in sign language.

First_Egg^^And of course, there were the eggs! The Faberge eggs that were part of The Faberge Big Egg Hunt —
I finally found some!

Mouse_Egg^^ I adore this mouse one! So cute!

Not pictured: All the adorable little kids running around, the tons of canoe-goers near the Boathouse and the proposal that I saw near the Bethesda Fountain.

All in all, friends, I’d say fate brought me to the wrong subway station stop that Friday afternoon so I could take in the wonderfulness of the park that day.

Or else it was just my bad direction. Either way — it was fun all the same.

Bis bald, friends!

 

Back in the (Different) Borough: A Night in Carroll Gardens & Gowanus

Hi friends,

This past Saturday Chris and I met up with some friends in their neck of the woods — Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn — for some whiskey tasting at Char No. 4, followed by some shuffleboard at the new Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus.

So the whiskey first. Char No. 4 is this cute little whiskey bar and restaurant. According to the site:

“The name refers to the practice of aging bourbon in charred new oak barrels, which gives bourbon its characteristic sweet, caramelized flavors and its beautiful amber hue. Char No. 4 features over 150 American whiskeys and serves a menu of American fare with a focus on smoked meat. The American whiskeys are augmented by an extensive list of whiskeys from Europe and beyond as well as a selection of all-bourbon cocktails.”

You can check their events page for updates on their whiskey tastings (they also have soft shell crab Wednesdays in June, Barbecue nights in July and Rye revival classes, among others).

Whiskey_Tasting

Our whiskey class was about $40 per person, and it included four different types of whiskeys (see above), as well as three different appetizers (deviled eggs, a delicious fried cheese and some sort of meat nugget which I obviously couldn’t eat).

So I’ll let you in on a little secret — I don’t particularly love whiskey ;) And having a tasting didn’t really change that. But it was fun to do it, and it was really interesting to learn about the history and how it’s made and all that. Overall, I would highly recommend this little outing — it’s perfect for group get togethers and dates alike.

After loading up on whiskey we took the short walk from Carroll Gardens over the Gowanus Canal into Gowanus, an up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood with not too much going on — except for this brand new Royal Palms Shuffleboard bar. It literally opened about 3 weeks ago, which is why the owner still cares enough at this point to come outside and address the growing line of would-be patrons. They don’t want a line simply to make the place “look cool,” he assured us. It’s just that the fire department says they’re only allowed to have 300 people inside at one time — and he’s really afraid of the fire department.

We only waited about 10 minutes though, and inside was a gamers dream. Shuffleboard (at a price of $40 per hour — which isn’t too bad when split between four people), Connect Four, cards and other games await, along with a seafood food truck, cozy cabanas and beer.

And not for nothing, but this place is a huge warehouse, and the 300 people or less fire code keeps it super airy and spacious, meaning there was absolutely no bumping into people or sloppiness, no long lines at the women’s restroom — basically just the way I like my bars!

Bar

Card_Playing

^^ We plopped ourselves at a shuffleboard-side table and played cards and
drank some beer while waiting for our turn to play shuffleboard.
Maybe the popularity of this place will die down eventually, but for now,
in its newness splendor, it took us about 2.5 hours to get to our turn.

Flag_Wall

Royal_PalmsFloor

Shuffle_Board2

^^ Shuffleboard courts run the length of the middle of the warehouse. So fun to watch!

I wasn’t sure we’d be able to wait long enough to finally get to play, but we occupied our time with the seafood food truck, as well.

Lobster_Menu

Lobster_Roll

^^We grabbed a lobster roll, shrimp role, cole slaw and some bags of chips
from the Red Hook Lobster food truck (which is located inside the bar).
Holy cow they were so. delicious! 

RedHook_Food_Truck

After stuffing our faces with seafood and playing cards for 2.5 hours, we finally had our shot at shuffleboard.

Shuffle_Board1

Shuffle_Board3

Shuffle_Board4

Shuffle_Board5

Shuffleboard_Rules

^^ The owner came over to give us the rules ahead of playing.
We played boys against girls, and although the boys tried to
hide the evidence, this happened …

We_Win
 ^^ Ummm, 43 – 96 = the girls beating the boys — awahooo!!!

I mean, it would have been an awesome night without the win … but it certainly didn’t hurt ;)

Bis bald, friends! If you happen to be in the area, get thee to Char No. 4 for some whiskey and to the Royal Palms for some shuffleboard afterwards. It makes for a lovely Saturday night.

Life Lately: Late Feb 2014 Edition

Two months down in this new year of ours, my friends — unbelievable!

Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in our neck of the woods …

Iceland_Views

^^ The views in Iceland were astonishing.

Hut_Climb

^^ Climbing the fish hut to take photos in Iceland.

Northern_Lights

^^ Chasing the Northern Lights

WAter_Fall

^^ The Gullfoss Waterfall.

Geysir_Iceland

^^ Watching geysirs (that’s how they spell it in Iceland) erupt.

Grand_Central

^^ Walking through Grand Central to the subway after our Valentine’s Day drinks at The Campbell Apartment.

Central_Park_Snow

^^ How much did I love this man and his dog in snowy Central Park?

Toy_Fair

^^ I checked out the annual Toy Fair at the Javits Center for a story I was writing.
It’s so much fun seeing all the new toys for the year!

Penny_the_Cat

^^ This face. Kills me every time.

Shrimp_N_Grits

^^ Shrimp and grits for dinner, inspired by our brunch at East End Kitchen,
which serves shrimp and grits as well, but they’re pre-made
with bacon so I couldn’t have them. Our take was better ;)

Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone’s having an amazing year so far! I’ll be heading to Marathon Key with a friend for my birthday in a few weeks. With the winter we’ve been having, I could definitely go for a little bit of sun, that’s for sure.

Back in the Borough: A Day Date (and new fave coffee place)

Every single time Chris and I walk past the Orpheum Theater in the East Village one of us says, “We’ve really got to check out STOMP some time.”

What’s STOMP, you ask? It’s over an hour and a half of awesome fun, is what it is! No but seriously, the cast of nine runs around the stage in perfectly choreographed movements, making insanely awesome music with the most ridiculous of objects. Trash cans. Lighters. Brooms. Mops.  Shopping carts. (Chris and I later marveled at that last one. I mean — have you been to a grocery store lately? It’s practically impossible to get those things to go in a straight line, let alone swirl them around the stage like these guys were doing!)

So for our anniversary, I bought us tickets to check it out, which we did this past Saturday.

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photo 3 (47)^^ You aren’t supposed to take photos inside, but you know me … I’m a rebel!

This is a really fantastic show, friends, especially if you have kids and are looking for some entertainment cheaper (and more thrilling, I dare say!) than Broadway. Seriously — the little kids in the audience were eating it up, giggling away the whole time! There was a lot more humor than we expected, actually. It’s now high on my recommend list for visitors.

After the show I really had to pee, so we ducked into the little coffee shop on the corner of the street — Cafe Mocha.

photo 4 (41)

I’m so glad we did, because it was the cutest little place! They still had their twinkling Christmas lights up, it was pouring down rain outside and we squeezed into our seats and ordered a cappuccino (me) and a latte (Chris), along with a seriously delicious banana and chocolate crepe.

photo 5 (38)

[They had a great selection of wine, espressos and tapas, too!]

Not a bad way to spend (another) anniversary date my friends! Bis bald!

P.S. The Iceland planning (only a little more than three weeks away now!) has begun in earnest, and I get more and more excited the more I read about this place!

One Final Note on Christmas … and Happy New Year!

Happy 2014 friends! I cannot believe I am typing up a post for 2014 right now. I feel like Christmas was about a million years ago, but we were so busy running around I didn’t get the chance to blog about something we managed to squeeze in right before we headed out of town for the holidays. It’s been an item on my Manhattan Bucket List for a while now, and we finally made it happen — Celcius, at Bryant Park.

photo 1

As we all know, I have a slight obsession with Bryant Park during Christmas (I’m not ashamed to admit it), so Celcius provides me with an outlet to be as gluttonous with this obsession as possible. The bar/restaurant provides a completely open view of the skating rink, shopping village, Christmas tree and even the Empire State Building from a certain angle. The drinks were tasty, the atmosphere was festive and the snow was falling — it was basically the perfect way to spend Christmas Eve Eve. [--> not a typo, we went the night before Christmas Eve ;)]

photo 2^^ You can kind of, sort of, maybe see the Empire State Building peeking out at the top of this photo.
In real life she was spectacular.

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photo 7^^ Bryant Park in the falling snow. There’s nothing more beautiful.

For New Years Eve (AKA our one year wedding anniversary! And our 7-year anniversary in total!), my husband surprised me with brunch at Landmarc in Tribeca (they also have a location in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle), and we saw these crazy kids play again at Terminal 5. (Which is where we met. And got engaged. So you know … it’s sentimental for us to say the least …)

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Bis bald, friends! And cheers to a fabulous and fun-filled 2014!

The Year 2013: A Review

Hi friends,

Well it’s that time of year again — the one where everyone takes a couple minutes to take stock of how the past 12 months have gone? This year has been a particularly important one for myself and Chris. It was our first year of married life. It was a year spent celebrating our marriage around the world with family and friends. It was a year that we made some pretty big decisions about our future (not yet shared here!), and one that had a lot of amazing traveling in it …

February
In February we took an amazing weekend trip to Tarrytown for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, where I had one of my absolute favorite meals of this entire year.

Groundviews

snowyfield

Irvington

my dessert

handsomehusband

March
In March I took a relaxing trip to visit my best friend in D.C., where we practiced wedding makeup for Chris and my upcoming wedding party in April.

walk2

Walk1

makeuplist

April
April was a holy-cow-of-a-month for us! First, I turned 30 (ah!), and we celebrated with a gorgeous hike up Breakneck Ridge with friends.

Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!

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Holy rock climbing!

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Then Chris’s parents came for a visit, and we all took a trip to London so that Chris could run the 5th race in his World Marathon series.

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Geared up!

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We also celebrated our marriage at Magnanini Winery in upstate NY with friends and family in April, but I didn’t blog about that because I didn’t have photos for a long time. I have them now, though! Here are some of my faves.

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June
In June we celebrated our wedding in Jersey with some close friends and family. Here are some of my favorite shots from that party:

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July
In July we took a trip out to Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona to visit an old, old friend of mine.

^^Bloody Mary's in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.

^^Man and wilderness.

^^Cheers to you, Arizona!

^^Bye-bye Sedona. It's been real.

^^Canyon Breeze views.

^^Sedona hike--unbelievable.

^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.

^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.

August
In August I took another trip back down to D.C. for a “sprinkle” baby celebration …

^^The beginning stages of lemon bars. Can you say yum?!

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^^ Blueberry Crumble for the dessert bar.

^^We also made these to-die-for apple crumble bar with cinnamon. The sign in the back was a piece of corkboard that Lisa painted with chalkboard paint and strung some twine across. People wrote notes on little cards and placed them on the twin for Alison and her new baby boy.

and we visited what has now become our new favorite upstate winery — Warwick Valley Winery.

wine_bottles

cheryl_chris

cheryl_steph

apple_wine

baby_horse

fresh_apples

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Glasses

Summer Happenings
I feel like I should take a moment to pay homage to all of the activities we took part in this summer that were right here in New York City, like seeing Shakespeare in the Park, hosting my nephew’s very first trip to NYC, riding bikes through the park, seeing the NY Philharmonic in the park (are you sensing a “park” theme?!), checking out the Met, going for a sail from Pier 25 on the west side and strolling around DUMBO, Brooklyn … to name a few.

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^^ I seriously forgot how many hills there are in Central Park. I had to take a break about 3/4 of the way through.

Rory.AmsterdamAleHouse3Delacorte_Theater

^^Stolen from Istagram, thank you very much.

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^^ So -- what's the theme? Can ya tell? Hint: I'm wearing a red wig!

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^^ Freshman year JMU roommates -- go Dukes!

September
September was another busy month for us. First we took the ferry out to Governor’s Island to go exploring.

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^^ Carousel ahead!

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We also headed to St. Augustine, Florida for the Gentleman of the Road Mumford & Sons tour for Chris’s Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip … (also talked about here)

^^View from the Beachcomber. Not too shabby.

^^Chris with the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the background.

^^Check out all the wrist tags we needed! Shuttle. Concert. Drinks. Boat. Check!

^^This last photo was actually from Saturday night's show when Mumford was playing and it was lightning in the background. But we'll get to that ...

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October
We headed to Australia (also here) at the end of September and into October to celebrate our wedding with Chris’s side of the family, as well as to take a honeymoon trip to The Great Barrier Reef.

^^What bride gets to wear her wedding dress three times? This one, that's who!

^^ Mom and baby. Man I'll never stop loving it when I see these guys!

^^ W

^^ The Sydney Harbour's a real beaut - isn't she?

November
I headed to the suburbs of Philly in November to visit an old friend and her family, and we took a trip out to the Philadelphia Zoo while I was there …

^^ I was about to delete this photo of the Clown Fish because I had better ones, until I saw the Fish Photo Bomb.

^^ This little guy is a Red Panda, and she'll be making an appearance in my children's book very soon!

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^^ Rhino!

and we celebrated Thanksgiving in both Newburgh and New Jersey.

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December
This month we surprised my stepdad with a Super Secret weekend trip to Syracuse, his alma mater, for his 50th birthday.

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And we took a Christmas trip to Stowe, Vermont with some family

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And that about sums up 2013, friends! On the docket for 2014 so far is …

  • A trip to Saratoga Springs the first weekend in January to celebrate our one year anniversary. I’m particularly excited about the hotel where we’ll be staying — Saratoga Arms it’s gotten amazing reviews.
  • Iceland in February!
  • Denver in April with my sister and her boyfriend
  • A trip out to Cape Cod for a friend’s wedding (not to mention lots of other friends’ weddings scattered throughout the year!)
  • A potential 1.5-3 month trip in South America at the end of the year. Lots more on this to come.

Bis bald, friends! And may your new year be filled with fun travels, great friends and awesome experiences!

Back in the Borough: Yayoi Kasuma at David Zwirner Gallery

Wow — that’s a lotta hard words in the title of this post, huh?

Well friends — in life, you win some and you some lose some. I’m going to call my little adventure to the David Zwirner gallery to see Yayoi Kasuma’s “I Who Have Arrived In Heaven” exhibit (and more specifically the infamous “infinity room“) both a win and a loss, making it what? A draw?

It was a lot more than a draw, though, I’ll tell you that much.

Let me start from the beginning. When you spend weeks reading about an exhibit in The New York Times, Time Out New York, Smithsonian Mag and New York Magazine, you know two things immediately:

  1. I must go to that.
  2. I am an idiot if I try to go to that.

Yesterday, I chose to be an idiot. Because let me tell you friends, if there’s anything I’ve learned in my almost seven years living in this wonderful city, it’s that New Yorkers will line up for hours for something they deem worthy. Worthy things include:

I can tell you this much — I wasn’t waiting that long in a line, in frigid temps, no less, simply for a selfie. (Which, if the last article link is to be believed, is why most people are doing it.) I was doing it because I’ve read the reviews, and based on what people say immediately coming out … well, I guess I just will repeat myself here … I really wanted to go to that.

I showed up around 10:20 a.m. (the gallery opens at 10), hoping that the randomness of it being a Wednesday might play to my favor.

Not so much. I was pretty much immediately approached by someone who worked at the gallery who told me that I probably had about a five hour wait based on where I was in line, and might not even make it in at all before they closed that day.

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Massive bummer. Besides the fact that it took me about 45 minutes to get there in the first place, I was not properly prepared for the cold weather (yes, Chris, I know you told me to dress more warmly before I left), and my throat was already hurting me.

What’s a girl to do?

I tried waiting it out, friends, I really and truly did. I stood in line for a little over an hour before I decided that I treasure my fingers and toes too much to lose them while standing in line to view some art exhibit. For 45 seconds. (Oh yeah, that’s the other thing. You only get 45 whole seconds in the infinity room. But come on! If people are willing to stand in a FIVE HOUR line in the FREEZING COLD to spend 45 SECONDS in a room!!! You just know you want to see that!)

Anyway, needless to say, I did not see that. I gave up and decided to check out Yayoi’s painting exhibit, which was completely line-free:

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How gorgeous are those colors? Her work is so interesting and full of life — I really enjoyed it. (The heat of the gallery made it infinitely more enjoyable, I’m not going to lie. At that point in the morning they could have literally been showing me photos of poop, and as long as I was warm I would have swooned.)

On my way out I noticed another, smaller line at a third entrance to the gallery. I had read about these, for lack of a better word, “tentacles” that were a separate part of Yayoi’s exhibit, and I was wondering where those were, but my brain was too frozen to ask. Luckily, this was the magic door that let me to that exhibit. So I braved another 10 minutes outside (teeth chattering the entire time), and was ushered into the “tentacle” exhibit. You have to take your shoes off to enter, and you get one whole minute in there.

Totally worth it.

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photo 7^^ This is Yayoi herself. In a room adjacent to the tentacle room, there was a video
playing on loop of the artist reciting a poem, followed by a brief glimpse
of the infinity room.

photo 8^^ So beyond cool. 

photo 9] photo 10^^ This is the poem that is being read aloud by Yayoi in the tentacle room.
It’s hard to read, so I’ll pull out my favorite line here:
“Was the beauty of the end of one’s life nothing more than an illusion?
Would you give me an answer to this?
Devoting all my heart to you, I have lived through to this day
Hoping to leave beautiful footprints at the end of my life …”

All-in-all, I’d give the exhibit as many stars as one possibly can. Unfortunately the exhibit ends this weekend. I was contemplating heading back really early Friday to see if I can make it inside the infinity room, but I’ll have to play that by ear.

(P.S. I could go into detail on the exhibits, but explanations of how Yayoi put together her work are much more beautifully explained in the articles I link out to above. For more info on how she made everything, I’d recommend checking those out.)

On the way home I took the opportunity to stroll through the Chelsea Market, one of my favorite places in New York, and finish up some Christmas shopping. (Do I say that too much? I can’t help it! I really do love everything that much!) You could spend hours here and not see everything there is to see.

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photo 22^^ Can I get this beautiful book display in my apartment? Too much?

Alright friends — that’s my Wednesday story for ya. If I ever do make it back to the gallery and actually make it into the infinity room, I’ll be sure to grab at least one selfie I can share here, since apparently that’s the thing to do. (I wouldn’t hold your breathe, though.)

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: The Quintessential Christmas Place in NYC

Hi friends,

So about three or four years ago now, I attempted to visit Rolf’s German Restaurant around Christmas to see what all the commotion was regarding their holiday decorations.

I don’t think we even made it in the door that night it was so packed … and last night wasn’t much different. I made plans with a friend to try to get there as soon as she could after work (we were there by 5:20 at the latest) so as to try to skip the crowds.

Of course that didn’t work out. It was seriously packed even at that early hour. So here are my Rolf’s suggestion.

  1. If you’re visiting NYC during the holidays, you should at least go inside to check out all the decorations. Christmas threw up in here … and it’s wonderful.
  2. Try as hard as possible to go during a week day at an off hour — like maybe as soon as it opens, or around 2 p.m. or something. I assume it’s not as busy as then, but really can’t be sure.

So anyway, we stopped inside for a couple minutes last night, took some photos and dipped out to a nearby bar, instead.

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And the 2013 Christmas Craziness continues! Bis bald, friends! Hope your season is filled with just as many amazing decorations (and snow!) as mine has been so far.