The 52 Project: October 6

_DSC7284^^ This past weekend we celebrated our fifth (and final that we can actually attend) wedding celebration. This one was for my freshman college roommate, and it was held at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Tarrytown, NY. Although the day started out gloomy and rainy, by the time we all made it back to the Country Club for the outdoor cocktail hour and photos, the skies had cleared and the sun was glorious. It turned out to be a beautiful day! Congrats to Carla & Ryan — we love you guys!

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A Day Trip to Phoenicia and Otter Falls

This past Sunday, Chris took me on a little day trip to Phoenicia, New York [which is about an hour away from where my mom lives in Newburgh] and then to Otter Falls, where he and a bunch of his friends run a relay every year.

But first, we stopped for pancakes at Sweet Sue’s Restaurant, which has a 24 Zagat rating for food and a seriously slammin’ menu of pancake options.

_DSC5808^^ Gotta love a town that puts on a rubber duckie race.
(And clearly reuses the sign year after year — so economical!)

_DSC5809^^ That’s a pretty spectacular backdrop for the Phoenicia Pharmacy, if I do say so myself.

_DSC5810^^ Cute little, awesome Sweet Sue’s Restaurant.

_DSC5811^^ Holy pancake menu!

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_DSC5814^^ These were my — wait for it — carrot. cake. pancakes.
With cream cheese sauce. ‘Nuff said.

_DSC5815^^ Chris went the savory route and got fresh corn cakes — equally delish.

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_DSC5819^^ As of 2014, Phoenicia was home to 299 residents. I seriously love that.

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_DSC5822^^ Mystery spot indeed.

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_DSC5829^^ This eagle originated in Grand Central.
Here’s how it ended up in Phoenicia.

After loading up on pancakes, we headed to Otter Falls, which is about a 20-minute drive from Phoenicia. Here’s what the Hudson Valley Visit Vortex has to say about this swimming hole:

Located on state land, a small, but adventurous, side trail leads to the spectacular falls cascading down about 30 feet to a large deep basin measuring about 20 to 30 feet in diameter with a center depth between 6 and 8 feet. With recent rains it should be like a giant, cold-water Jacuzzi, say the locals. Otter Falls is only about a half-mile from the popular Giant Ledge trail parking area, making it an excellent stop after a hot, sweaty hike. Sundown, lat=42.0314, lon=-74.4201

Directions: From I-87, get off at Exit 19, Kingston exit, RT 28. Go northwest on RT 28 about 25 miles to Phoenicia. Then:To get here from RT 28 in Phoenicia: Continue west on Rt 28 through Shandaken to Big Indian. Turn south (left) on RT 47 (set odometer) and go about 6.6 miles to a telephone pole with mile post #167 1/2 on it. Other things to look for are the state land signs (the yellow ones with the DEC logo). This state land is the only State land on the west side of Route 47 in Big Indian Valley. (If you come to the “hairpin turn”, an extremely sharp right hand turn, on RT 47, you have gone about .5 mile too far.)

To find it after you park, you walk along the highway and search for the tree with the 111A 167 1/2 numbers on it [which was my ‘Photo of the Day’ photo from yesterday]. It’s a pretty fun, secluded little spot — definitely worth checking out.

_DSC5840^^ It’s only about 500 meters from the highway to the waterfall so,
you know, my kind of hike!

_DSC5842^^ Ooooohhhh — pretty!

_DSC5858^^ I kept this photo because that black and white blur at the bottom right of the photo is a butterfly that was buzzing all around me. I snapped this one shot quickly, not hopeful to actually capture the little booger, and this is what I got. I kinda love it.

_DSC5859^^ We played around in the water leading into the waterfall for a bit.
And when I say “we”, I mean “Chris”.

 And that’s about it, ya’ll! I’d highly recommend a trip to the water hole on a hot summer day — nothing beats it.

Bis bald, friends!

An Anniversary Trip to Saratoga Springs, New York

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Hey friends,

This past weekend Chris and I borrowed the little Matrix that we’re planning to buy off my parents and took her for a spin up to Saratoga Springs.  The whole idea for this trip came out of a deal for a Saratoga hotel on TripAdvisor that then led to me the Saratoga Arms hotel. (It’s ranked as the No. 1 hotel in Saratoga on TripAdvisor.)

Anyway, we’ll get to that later.

I had done some research on Saratoga ahead of time, and last weekend in Vermont my cousin recommended a couple places to us as well. (She lives in Albany, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Saratoga.)

I think I should preface this post by saying that we had a deluge of snow the day before we drove to Saratoga, and pretty much every place looks magical in a snowy winter wonderland … am I right? Even without the snow, though, I know I would have fallen in love with Saratoga. The downtown area was so charming (and of course it was still decorated for Christmas with twinkling white lights and red bows everywhere … that certainly didn’t hurt it), the people were so friendly and every place we went had really great food and drink.

Our first stop was a recommendation of my cousin’s — Ravenous, for their crepes and Pommes Frittes. They come with all different kinds of dipping sauces. We tried the Aioli, Cajun Spicy Mayo and Mango Chutney. Seriously delicious.

photo 1^^ My warm apple cider with orange wasn’t too shabby, either.

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After stuffing our faces, we decided to check out the town for a bit before checking into our hotel.

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photo 10c^^ This hotel was closed for repairs, but I thought it was just so beautiful.

After our little introduction to the town we headed to the hotel.

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So about the hotel. I feel like I should start by saying — it was perfectly lovely. Seriously, very lovely — charming even. I mean look at those cute horse wreathes that greet you at the front door! The building is kept locked at all times, and the friendly innkeeper lets you in when you arrive. There’s a warm fireplace and classic, historic decorations — everything about this place is cute and cozy and nice.

I just have a small but. The thing is — we paid a lot for our room. Like … a lot. (It was $300 after taxes, and that was the lowest priced King room available.) And for some reason I had convinced myself that I booked a room with a jacuzzi tub, and you know how when you think you’ve done something, and get your hopes all up for it — well I just really wanted that jacuzzi tub! And I mean, the room was fine, people. Honestly, it was quite nice. Perfectly pleasant. Very well looked after. I guess I was just … expecting more. What can I say. I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of hotels up to this point in my life, and I’ve spent a wide range of money on those hotels. All I’m saying is … besides location (and the seriously scrumptious breakfast that’s included in the morning!), I’m just not quite sure this place was worth the price. That’s all.

But moving on! Despite the disappointment of not having a jacuzzi (!), we still had a whole night ahead of us. Our first night stop would be to The Wine Bar — another of my cousin’s recommendations. A huge plus of Saratoga Arms — all of our stops were within walking distance, even though it was about 0 degrees outside!

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We sat by the fire and the white lights twinkled and our waitress was lovely. And we ordered the warm olive appetizer and Chris a Manhattan and me a glass of white wine. Then we both ordered another glass of wine — red this time– and here my friends is where I’ll share a little something with you. It was here at The Wine Bar in Saratoga Springs, New York, that I had — ready for it? — the best wine of my life. I mean … seriously! This friggin’ wine was so. amazingly. delicous. Even Chris was jealous. I had the waitress give me my menu back so I could write down exactly what it was, which was a Santa Julia Malbec from Argentina/Menoza. It also was organic, which I honestly think might have made a difference.

If you are in Saratoga and find yourself at The Wine Bar (which you should … thanks for the recommendation Alyssa!), you must, must, must try this wine! You’ll thank me later, I promise.

Anyway, after warming up with wine, we headed back out into the cold to our dinner reservations at Mouzon House. Here’s where I have to give Saratoga Arms another big shout out — about two days before we were meant to arrive I received a welcome email from them with parking instructions, town and weather information, as well as a list of local restaurants that they recommended, Mouzon House being one of them. They even called and made the reservation for us. (Am I being a hotel snob about this place? Probably. The more I write about it the more charming I feel like it was.)

Anyway, the Mouzon House. Another massive, humongous hit!

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photo 18^^We were a tad early for our reservation, so we sat at the bar and ordered some drinks first. Our bartender told us she was also a realtor, and she had helped her friend purchase the restaurant. The building had formerly belonged to the Mouzon family, and the woman who they bought the house from was the first African American woman to graduate from the local community college. She said the fact that they wanted to keep the family name in the name of the restaurant was a big reason why she thinks they were given the deal in the first place. The majority of the house had been left as is — even the rooms upstairs were still in bedroom form. Oh, and there was a ghost. The ghost was a friendly ghost, Mrs. Bartender told us, but she didn’t even have to say that .. Chris and I have a feeling about these things, and we already knew.

photo 19^^ Somehow the restaurant knew it was our one year anniversary — I guess the hotel told them when they called?Anyway, they gave us our creme brûlée with a candle in it, and that was super cute.

For dinner I ordered the vegetarian jambalaya, and Chris had the steak. We also ordered the asparagus appetizer and another bottle of wine, and everything was to die for. Perhaps even more amazing, though, was the fact that the couple sitting directly across from us was celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary — and they could not have been cuter. At one point I looked over and the woman was fixing her husband’s shirt. When they left he helped her put her coat on.

If only Chris and I can get that lucky to be as in love as day one at our 56th anniversary.

So at this point in the evening, I had also wanted to check out the 9 Maple Ave. jazz bar, but unfortunately all the wine I had already consumed started to make me feel like the warm hotel was calling my name, so we called it a night.

The next morning we were up early though. Breakfast is served between 8 and 10 in the dining room, and it’s a sit down, order type of breakfast. I got the oatmeal (remember I wasn’t feeling well!), and Chris had the chef’s special mushroom omelet which, in his words, was “the best omelet I ever had in my life.”

Okay fine — so Saratoga Arms was quite lovely, I get it. It’s just that when you’re spending that much money, you might as well splurge an extra $50-$60 and get a room with a jacuzzi or a fireplace. That’s just my opinion. Noted for next time.

After breakfast we packed up and checked out, and headed back into the town to check out a couple of other stores we had seen the day before. We even ended up finding an old vintage New York City map for $6 — the best find!

I also wanted to check back on this house we had passed when trying to find the parking garage for the hotel. I mean … check this place out …

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Our googling has yet to turn up what this place actually is. Is it someone’s home? Is it a business? Whatever it is, I envision this will be what my next home looks like. That’s reasonable … right?

And that, my friends, was Saratoga. It was the perfect little getaway for an anniversary weekend, and I cannot wait to get back there at some point to explore in warmer weather!

Bis bald, my friends! Only only month until Iceland — I simply cannot wait!

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.

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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.

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Walk1

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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.

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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.

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^^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!

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^^ 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!

My Second Super Secret Birthday Trip of 2013 — Complete!

Hi friends,
So this past weekend myself and Chris, my mom, sister and her boyfriend, my uncle, aunt and cousin, all surprised my stepdad for his 50th birthday with a trip to Syracuse (his alma mater) for a basketball game.
It was a pretty amazing trip — if I do say so myself! And while I’m not totally convinced that Robert didn’t see much of the surprise coming, at the end of the day we all had an amazing time, so that’s really all that matters, right?

photo 1^^ Surprise! We’re kidnapping you and taking you to Syracuse!
At least he had already dressed for the part ;)

photo 2^^ We couldn’t take our pooch Ranger with us,
but he supported the cause.

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photo 6^^ Shenanigans will most definitely ensue when my mother is drinking!

photo 7^^ Awwwwwww!

photo 8^^ Auntie M and my cousin Nikki. Two amazing ladies.

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photo 12^^ I think Robert was excited about our awesome seats (thank you StubHub!)

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photo 14^^ The big 5-0!

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Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, we also won the game ;)

We visited Faegan’s Pub afterwards, which was fun, and we stayed at The Parkview Hotel, which was a seriously short cab ride to the Carrier Dome, and a very good price (plus free breakfast!).

Surprise birthday celebrations are pretty much the best.

Anyway, up and coming this week:

We’re off to Vermont the day after Christmas for some snowboarding, and we’ll be heading to Iceland in February, which I seriously cannot wait for.

‘Tis the season for dreams, wishes and plans, my friends!

Bis bald!

In the News: A Deadly Metro North Accident

^^Views from the Metro North train from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie^^Views from the Metro North train from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie

I’ve taken the Metro North Hudson Line train from Grand Central to Beacon and back more times than I could ever hope to count. This train takes me from my home in New York City to birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases and much more at my mom’s house in upstate NY. I was on it last Tuesday, actually, as I traveled home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yesterday, the 5:54 a.m. train from Poughkeepsie flew off its tracks in the Bronx, killing four people and injuring dozens more. It’s the first time in the history of Metro-North that a passenger was killed in a crash.

Today, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is saying that it appeared that the train was traveling too fast as it hit a curve in the tracks, which likely caused it to tip over.

When things like this happen, it only makes sense to look for something — anything — to blame. A faulty break. An err in conductor judgement. An electrical issue. As someone who travels via mass transit practically daily — whether it’s on a train, subway, bus or plane — I try hard to never think about what could go wrong. Of course buses have crashed. Trains have derailed. Planes have gone down. As a mass transit traveler, you’re putting your life in the hands of someone else every single time you step on that train, bus, subway, etc.

And sometimes, accidents happen.

My heart and prayers go out to all the victims and their families. In life, we don’t get to pick  when our time is up. I can only hope that for those who lost their lives, they were able to spend a truly fantastic holiday with everyone they loved the most over Thanksgiving.

Pumpkins Galore!

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^^ Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!

If you guys are anything like me, you’re akin to a kid in a candy store the second the calendar hits October 1. Who doesn’t love the crisp fall air, the changing leaves, an extra hour of sleep, carving pumpkins, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin … anything!?

Which is why I’m ecstatic that my sister dragged the family to The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Manor upstate. I cannot tell a lie — at first I was dubious. I didn’t actually believe that walking around and looking at some carved, lit pumpkins could be cool.

I can now admit that I was way wrong.

This exhibit features over 5,000 individually hand-carved pumpkins made into pretty much everything you can imagine.

Combine that with pumpkin and cider donuts and hot apple cider — which they also had — and you’ve pretty much got my perfect fall evening.

It’s hard to take photos of carved, lit pumpkins. In the dark. On your iPhone. But I gave it a whirl. Here’s some of what we saw last weekend ….

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^^The great wall of pumpkins

^^The great wall of pumpkins

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^^Pumpkin flower fields

^^Pumpkin flower fields

^^ I think these ridiculously adorable pumpkin monsters were my fave

^^ I think these ridiculously adorable pumpkin monsters were my fave

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^^ This creepy pumpkin-in-the-box would snap out every couple of minutes. Suuupppperrrrr creepy!

^^ This creepy pumpkin-in-the-box would snap out every couple of minutes. Suuupppperrrrr creepy!

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^^ A thoroughly impressive dragon made of pumpkins.

^^ A thoroughly impressive dragon made of pumpkins.

^^ Ditto with the dinosaurs!

^^ Ditto with the dinosaurs!

The exhibit runs for another two weeks — but good luck getting tickets, because they’re pretty much sold out. Next year, however, if you happen to be in the area during the time it’s running, I would highly recommend checking it out!

On the way back into the city early the following morning (to help my friend shop for a wedding dress … she found one!), I snapped this picture from the train:

^^ Hudson River views

^^ Hudson River views

Sheesh I love this time of year. I mean … come on now.

It’s also worth mentioning that on Sunday we watched Chris’s uncle run the New York City marathon (he came all the way from Australia to run) …. and he got a five-minute PR! Way to go, Matt!

Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone is making the most of these gorgeous fall days while we have ‘em!

Back in the Borough: A Couple of Hot Spots

Hey friends!

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend. I didn’t get the memo that we were celebrating Halloween before it happens this year … silly me! Costumes were out and about this weekend! So fun!

We had a busy one ourselves. On Friday we continued celebrating the 30 years of Chris’s life with friends down at Ace Bar in the East Village.

 

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A second to make some comments about this bar. While it’s not exactly right in the heart of the craziness that is the East Village, if you’re walking here, you’ll most likely be walking through the craziness that is the East Village, which can be really fun, especially on a Friday night. Some things you just might see:

  • A really old man smoking a pipe while leaning against a tree
  • A man with a cat on a leash who is climbing up a tree
  • Throngs and throngs and throngs of people standing outside of some dumpling shop or another, just waiting to get their hands on some late-night delicious drunk food

It’s really a hoot.

Ace Bar itself is cool too, with its pool tables and Skeeball machines, darts, pinball and other game. Needless to say, lots of fun was had by all.

On Saturday my sister and her boyfriend came for a visit with their new kitten (squeee!), and we took them to Merrion Square, a bar that is literally one block away. At MS you get a free burger (or veggie burger!) with any full-priced drink, and free wings with a full-price pitcher of beer. They’re all about the games here, as well, with more pool, Skeeball machines and Duck Hunter. Plus they have 16 beers on tap, 58 types in bottles and 24 can varieties — so you know, you’re covered there as well.

Sunday we spent mostly in Central Park with Chris’s uncle, who is back in town to run the New York City Marathon this upcoming Sunday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the New York City marathon ranks seriously high on my list of favorite days in this city. There’s this feeling that everyone in the entire city is rooting for someone (or everyone!), and the crowd is so excited and happy. If you don’t need to maneuver yourself around the city by car on the day of the race, it’s really something that’s amazing to be a part of.

And that about takes us into November friends. Can you even begin to believe that? I’m off to Van Cortlandt Manor in the Hudson Valley this weekend with my family for The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, then back to the city to watch a friend try on wedding dresses (another squeeee!) and for the marathon on Sunday.

Bis bald, my friends! Happy fall!

Warwick Valley Winery

Hi friends,

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Chris and I headed upstate to visit my sister’s new place, as well as to try out a new winery — the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. My aunt and uncle met us there (they actually only live a couple miles away), and it was such a great day. By now we’ve been to quite a few wineries in the upstate area, and I’d have to say this one was by far our favorite so far. It was pretty packed, but it’s not hard to see why. They had live music, there’s a cafe with really good food and the grounds are gorgeous. They even have an apple orchard where you can pick apples in the fall [or, you know, before the fall, if you’re my family :)] and horses. When we went on Saturday they were setting up for a 6 p.m. wedding, and I can only imagine how gorgeous that would have been.

The tastings are $5, and you get 6 of their wines and you keep the glass.

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^^ Apple picking starts at the end of August!

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^^We fed some of our contraband apples to the horses.

^^We fed our contraband apples to the horses.

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^^Squirreling apples away in my pocket.

^^Squirreling apples away in my pocket.

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^^The food there was so good! You gotta try the pizza ...

^^The food there was so good! You gotta try the pizza …

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^^ Look at this adorable pair ;)

^^ Look at this adorable pair ;)

After spending the weekend away, Chris and I caught the train home from Beacon, which offers gorgeous views of the Hudson River and happens to have a cute little Farmers Market on Sundays …

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^^ Oh my goodness I love a good pickle!

^^ Oh my goodness I love a good pickle!

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And that was our weekend! I would highly, highly recommend a trip to Warwick Valley Winery if you’re in the area — you seriously won’t be disappointed!

Bis bald, friends!

A 30th Birthday Celebration for the Books: Hiking in Breakneck Ridge

Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring

Oh hey, Hudson River on a gorgeous, sunny day!

Hey friends!

So someone (ahem, me) just had a birthday, and it was a big one. That’s right, the big 3-0! So in honor of getting older, I decided to do something to make me feel younger–go on a 3-mile long, rock-climbing hike.

The place we picked was Breakneck Ridge in the Cold Spring area. It’s about 2.8 miles in total, and let me tell you — it is strenuous! 

Holy rock climbing!

Holy rock climbing!

I have some amazing friends who agreed to go on this hike with me!

Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!

Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!

We all packed some food (and my husband packed a 3 liter bag of boxed wine to carry the entire way … what a husband!) and drinks and sunscreen and took off for the day. I would say it took us about 4 1/2 hours to hike it, but that included about an hour stop for a picnic at the top.

A tasty assortment of goodies, including homemade baked cookies by a good friend from college and Trader Joe's brownies with a birthday candle from a former co-worker.

A tasty assortment of goodies, including homemade baked cookies by a good friend from college and Trader Joe’s brownies with a birthday candle from a former co-worker.

The 3-liter bag of wine that Chris took out of the box of wine he purchased, which he carried the entire duration of the hike. That's my man.

The 3-liter bag of wine that Chris took out of the box of wine he purchased, which he carried the entire duration of the hike. That’s my man.

There were many points of the hike that provided awesome and amazing overlooks of the Hudson, and it was the perfect day to hike—sunny and in the low 50s. Here’s a little bit of what we saw:

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We envisioned this point being somewhere near the end. It was not.

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And so, we all made it through, all the way to the end, and I was so proud of everyone…

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After the hike, before catching the train back to the city, we stopped at the Cold Spring Depot (which is walking distance to the train stop) for beers:

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And so that’s about it, my friends. I had such an amazing time. It felt nice to be outside, we had an amazing group with us and I’d recommend this hike for anyone who’s game for some awesome, strenuous rock climbing.

One other word of note: If you’re planning on catching the train from New York City to Breakneck Ridge, I’m told you can alert the conductor to the fact that you want to get off at Breakneck, and that sometimes they’ll stop there for you (otherwise there are only two stops directly at Breakneck a day). We thought we’d get off at Cold Spring and walk to the trail, but it turns out that’s about a 4+ mile walk. We were not game to do that before even starting the hike, so we had parts of our gang who were driving pick us up. Just something to think about.

Bis bald, friends! Off to London week after next! My lovely in-laws have purchased Les Miserables tickets for us for Friday night when we get there. I love London theater, and I’ve never seen Les Mis, so I’m really looking forward to this!

A Valentine’s Day Trip to Tarrytown

ImageHey friends,

Chris and I just arrived back from our Valentine’s Day trip to Tarrytown, a quaint little town about 45 minutes north of the city, and I have to say–I loved everything about it. Since it’s winter it was obviously a bit freezing outside, and some of the stores in the town and some of the historical sites were closed for the winter months, but still, we managed to have an awesome time just the same.

Here’s what we got up to.

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A Valentine’s Day Weekend Retreat

Hey friends!

So Chris and I are about to leave for our first Valentine’s Day weekend as old marrieds ;) We are heading to the Tarrytown House Estate, and I’m super excited! Post soon to follow with the details.

Hope you’re all having a lovely Valentine’s weekend … bis bald!

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I made this tasty treat for Valentine’s Day….yum!

Click here for the full recipe.

A Quick Newburgh Catch-Up

How could a town so beautiful be so crime-ridden?

Hi friends,

So I don’t have a ton of time, but I just wanted to give ever-the-quickest of updates as to the weekends’ activities.

If I’m being totally honest here, I would have to say that the town where I spent most of my young adult life growing up is, as they say, a bit rough around the edges. Newburgh, New York, has seen its fair share of crime (I mean, New York magazine had an in-depth profile on it almost exactly one year ago entitled ‘Welcome to Newburgh, Murder Capital of New York.’)

What I can say in all honesty, from having grown up in Newburgh and having spent four years attending high school there, is that this town is what you make of it. My friends, for the most part, were awesome, amazing people who, on occasion, managed to find trouble, sure–but what high schooler doesn’t?

Then, of course, there was the other side of Newburgh–the gangs and high school drop outs and high poverty rates. These were part of the side of Newburgh that I tried not to get to know too intimately.

Now, having not fully lived in Newburgh for more than 11 years, what I can say is that every time I go back, I’m impressed by all the improvements that it seems like the city is really trying to make–especially when those improvements are in and around the city of Newburgh, where the crime is at its worst.

And that, my friends, is really the point of this post. Yesterday was my younger sister’s birthday, and so Chris and I hopped the train to Beacon yesterday afternoon (after having stopped off for a late lunch at Junior’s because, let me tell you friends, I still maintain that they have the absolute best veggie sandwich in the world, and I love, love, love the free bowl of pickles, beets and cole slaw that you get) to hang out with Steph and her boyfriend.

Since both of them have been around Newburgh a lot longer than I have, and more recently, they tend to know the new, best places to hang. And so, the first place we went to celebrate Steph’s 24th year of life was to the Newburgh Brewing Company.

The Brewing Company can be found on the outskirts of the city of Newburgh, in what I’m pretty sure must have been an old factory building. It’s got those great tall, beamed ceilings, and ample open space for a live band (which we were privy to when we arrived) and some game tables.

A note from the founders on the site reads:

“Honor. You’ll find a good deal of it in everything we do here at the Newburgh Brewing Company. We honor the natural goodness of our ingredients, by working hard to make them shine through in every sip. We honor the rich history of Newburgh, a tough-minded town that’s still as hardscrabble as it was when General George Washington stationed his army here more than 200 years ago. That earnest, pull yourself up by your bootstraps energy still abounds in Newburgh and it’s reflected in the simple, honest flavors you’ll find in our beer. People have been brewing beer in Newburgh since before America was America – it’s a tradition we’re proud to be a part of. Most important, we honor you. We love making beer. We pour our passion into this brewery every day and we are deeply honored each time you choose to enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

Should you find yourself in Newburgh sometime in the near future, might I suggest a trip to the Newburgh Brewing Company, where I would highly suggest the Saison beer, especially if light, wheat ale beers are your schtick.

After the Brewing Company, we had dinner at Il Cenacolo, an adorable little Tuscan restaurant on South Plank Road. There we shared two bottles of red wine, stuffed mushrooms and tomato and mozzarella appetizers. Then I had the Farfelle alla pumate for dinner, which was pretty awesome, too.

Our last stop of the night was to Billy Joe’s Ribworks, on the water. To be fair, the Newburgh Waterfront has always been a point of interest for our little town, and within the past few years the restoration effort really picked up pace, and you can see a vast difference down there from what I remember growing up in Newburgh. It’s now home to tons of bars, restaurants, spas and salons.

Billy Joe’s itself is right on the water, with an open floor plan inside and a humongous deck outside, perfect for another live band to perform. (Nuts in a Blender. I’m not being gross. That was honestly the name of the band that performed last night. Surprisingly, they weren’t that bad.)

Anyway, all of this is to say–I’m proud of all the energy that has been put into building up Newburgh. In only a few short years, they’ve managed to really make a difference in many of the abandoned buildings and old storefronts.

Newburgh really has a lot of potential–and I think people are finally starting to put in the valiant effort needed to reach it.

Image courtesy of Umbra Newburgh

A Last-Minute Labor Day Trip

A row of sunflowers on the drive back from New Paltz. I made my stepdad pull over so I could take a picture. He obliged. Good man.

Hi friends,

So after a full week of dealing with some seriously hard-core jet lag (I mean, we’re talking serious jet lag here!), I’ve finally managed to drag myself out of the foggy haze.

It’s always worth the jet-lag in the end though, isn’t it? I can’t believe my trip to Italy is already a thing of the past. So sad.

Anyway, after pulling myself through the haze, I was facing a 3 and 1/2 day weekend, and I was feeling … antsy. Chris and I had plans to head to Far Rockaway with some friends for one last beach-filled weekend, but I bailed at the last minute. So instead, as Chris caught the subway to meet up with our friends, I hopped the train and headed upstate to my mom’s, where we took in a wine and crafts festival in New Paltz (which has seriously become my new favorite place to spend my falls, with its wineries, hiking trails, breweries and gorgeous fall foliage), ate dinner at The Gilded Otter and just generally chilled out.

I even managed to wake up early Monday morning and drag myself out to the back porch swing with my blanket, coffee and the book I’m currently reading.

I truly believe that only if you actually live in a city can you really appreciate what it means to get out of the city every now and then. I mean, I spent my entire high school career living in this same house, and never found as much solace in its back yard as I do these days.

So that was my Labor day! What did you guys get up to?