Back in the Borough: Do in NYC

NYCBackground_Do

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!

Happy Early Father’s Day — NYC Style!

Hey friends,

As I mentioned yesterday, my dad and stepmom came into the city this past Saturday for a little early Father’s Day celebration. We had an epic day. We started at our favorite local Upper East Side brunch place, Uptown,  then took them for a tour of pretty much all of Central Park. We started at Engineer’s Gate and hit up Delacorte Theater, Turtle Pond and the Belvedere Castle, as well as the Brambles, the Bethesda Fountain, the Boathouse, Conservation Waters, the Reservoir, the Great Lawn , Shakespeare Garden and the Alice In Wonderland statue.

Phew!

We topped off the tour with rooftop drinks at the Met, which has about the most amazing view of Manhattan I’ve seen yet. [Top of the Rock is pretty amazing as well ... but this was a close second.]

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^^ From the top of Belvedere Castle.

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^^ A birds-eye view of the Great Lawn.

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^^ That structure over to the right of this photo is Delacorte Theater,
where they put on Shakespeare in the Park productions.

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^^ Tiny Judy, down in the bottom right of the photo. I love this one ;)

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 ^^ Sweeping skyline views from the Met rooftop bar and cafe.

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^^ Happy Father’s  Day everyone!

 

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!

Life Recently: Early June Edition

Hi friends,

So … it’s June? How the heck did that happen?! We’ve been having a lot of fun at baseball games, with friends and family visiting, etc., etc. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to lately, courtesy of my iPhone.

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photo 2^^ Some of the prettiest things in Grand Central are only visible when you look up.

photo 3^^ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Bryant Park is my favorite.

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photo 6

photo 7^^ These adorable little kids were competing against each other in chess. Can you say smarties?

photo 8^^ Sections of Times Square are now closed off to traffic for the summer.
It’s only slightly more bearable this way.

photo 9^^ FIrst iced coffee of the season for Sheral.
[That's not how you spell my name ;)]


photo 10^^ NYC: The only place in the world where you’ll see
a cab, a car and a horse-drawn buggy lined up like they’re about to race.

photo 11^^ Poor horses — you make my heart hurt.

photo 12^^ Ahh! It’s a Christmas lights murder!

photo 13^^ I simply love this brownstone-lined street right next to ours. Swoon.

Bis bald, friends! Here’s to summer right around the corner!

 

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!

 

Should You Fly a Budget Airline? (Like Spirit Air)

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Hi friends. So back in the day when we flew out to Denver for spring break, we flew this little airline called Spirit. You may have heard of it, since it’s been in the news a lot lately for its horrible, terrible, no good very bad customer service. And for its fees. And for its delay record. And just about every other complaint you can throw at an airline.

Anyway, me and Chris, my sister and her boyfriend, we all flew Spirit for the first time when we flew out to Denver, and with all the uproar lately surrounding the airline, I decided to throw my own two cents in. You can read the whole post over here, but here’s a bit of an excerpt:

I fly a lot.

In the past seven months I’ve flown Qantas to Australia, Icelandair to Iceland, JetBlue to Florida and … drum roll, please …Spirit to Denver.

In case you’ve missed the news recently, Spirit isn’t exactly a luxury airliner – nor are they No. 1 in customer service. In fact, they’re dead last – drawing complaint rates that were more than three times higher than the second-place airlines from 2009 to 2013

Here’s the thing though: The price was right. The available times worked out … and I had yet to read all the awful reviews the company consistently racks up. (And, for the record, has chalked up to simple misunderstandings.)

So, was it worth it? In my own personal opinion — yes, and here’s why. “

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, take ‘em or leave ‘em, I’d love to hear your own thoughts on the budget airline?

Bis bald, friends!

 

Paddling in the Potomac

Morning friends! Exactly one week and one day ago (aka last Monday), I hopped on a Tripper bus out of the city headed to Arlington, Virginia (a suburb of the D.C. area).

Here’s a little tip from a bus rider know-it-all: If you’re on a bus (or in a car or any other form of automotive transportation) out of the city heading through the Holland Tunnel, be sure to sit on the right-hand side, because you’ll be privy to this beauty of a view:

1NYC_Skyline

Anyway, as I mentioned in a post last week, when this particular friend and I get together, we generally do a whole lot of nothing. (Which is actually quite wonderful, as I’m sure most of you know.) I mean sure we eat and drink and chat and binge watch shoes (last week she introduced me to Revenge … why have I not been watching this all my life?), but there’s generally very little by way of activity, other than a walk here and there.

Last week, though, we got creative. On the heels of our very active trip to Marathon Key at the beginning of April, we were eager to try one activity in particular all over again in a new spot — kayaking.

So we headed into Old Town Alexandria (which is about the cutest little place you’ll ever go) and down to the Belle Haven Park and Marina, where we took a double-person kayak out on the Potomac River.

Let me tell you friends — it was something splendid, for sure.

2Kayak_Equipment

3In_Harbour^^ The water was pretty muddy after the torrential downpour we had the two days prior,
but it was still pretty splendid all the same.

4Kayak_View^^I have to admit that this kayak adventure was harder for me, for some reason,
and I may not have been a ton of help when it came to rowing. Thanks for taking the lead, Lisa!

5Log_Turtles^^ We saw so, so, so many turtles on this trip!

6Osprey_Nest

7Paddle_View

8Mischief_View^^ We may have ventured off the beaten trail into a tiny little area secluded by trees.
So peaceful.

9Mischief_View2

10Mischief_View3

 

So Lisa and I have pretty much decided this is our thing. Hopefully when she comes to visit me here in the city we’ll take some kayaks out on the Hudson as well. It’s always fun to have an activity to look forward to on a trip.

My time with Lisa was so fun, but it also went by so fast, and before I knew it I was back on a 2:30 bus on Saturday afternoon headed back to the city. After being dropped off near Penn Station around 7:30, I grabbed a ticket on the Long Island Railroad and headed back out, this time to meet up with Chris to spend the night in Long Island prior to his running the Long Island Marathon Sunday morning. My dad met us out there in the morning to watch, and we walked a grand total of 10 MILES around the course to catch Chris running at three different spots.

Oh, and Chris did pretty well, too ;) I mean, he broke his own personal record with a race time of 2:49:26!

I could not be more proud of him.

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LI_Marathon2

Bis bald, friends! Warmer weather is headed our way, and I hope everyone is getting excited for whatever plans you’ve concocted for the summer …

 

The 52 Project: May 5

Potomac_Kayaking

^^ Welcome to May, my friends! We kicked off this month with a bang!
I spent all of last week through Saturday with a friend of mine in the suburbs of D.C.,
then hopped on a train as soon as the bus got back to NYC on Saturday
to head to Long Island to watch Chris run the Long Island Marathon yesterday.
(More on that later!)
For now, here’s a picture from the day Lisa and I
went kayaking in the Potomac. Something about it makes
me feel so at peace. Anyway, happy May, friends!

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Life Lately: April Edition

Hi friends!

So this year is flying by, is it not? With trips to Saratoga Springs, Iceland, the Florida Keys and Colorado behind us, we can start to concentrate more on our 5,000 weddings throughout the summer and fall (it’s not really 5,000, but it is nine, which feels like 5,000 …), and our bigger travel plans for October and November.

In the meantime, though, I look forward to visiting with my friend in D.C. this week, and I love going back through old photos from the past few weeks. Here are some of my favorites …

1Guggenheim^^ I can’t get enough of the architectural gem that is the Guggenheim 

2Shuffleboard^^ Playing cards and shuffleboard at the new Royal Palms Shuffleboard bar in Brooklyn. 

3RoryCraft^^ Crafting for my nephew’s first birthday party.

4RoryBabysit^^ I spent a week babysitting this little man with my stepmom in Pennsylvania. So. Much. Fun!

5BusRain^^ Rainy city views from the local bus.

6PoopPaper^^ My husband has taken to making me personalized birthday wrapping paper every year.
This year’s version featured the poop emoticon, because apparently I use it. A lot.

7LisaKeys^^ Smiley happy faces in sunny Jupiter, Florida.

8BlueHeavenKeys^^ Dinner and drinks in Key West with some friends.

9Bridge^^ Gorgeous views on our trip to Marathon Key.

10PelicanKeys^^ Pelicans.

11JerseyLawn^^ Dad’s home from Saudi Arabia, and we spent a lovely day celebrating in Jersey.
(Including lots of time out on the grass in the front yard. That’s not weird or anything, right?)

12JBC^^ Some of my closest magazine friends. We met for some long overdue
drinks at The Campbell Apartments (remember that place?) a couple weeks ago.
Love you, ladies!

13ColoradoSquare^^ City views on our trip to Denver.

14RedRocks^^ The splendid, glorious Red Rocks.

15MeChrisColorado^^ Silly photos after what was probably our 10th brewery visit.
(Not in the same day, but still.)

16BethesdaFountain^^ Walking past the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on my
way home from the doctor.  Not too shabby.

17Nugget^^ Happy belated Easter! Love Nugget, our bunny.

Bis bald, my friends!

 

Our Final Days of Spring Break 2014: Denver, Colorado

Denver. Ah, Denver. Our third and final stop on our short little tour of Colorado.

You see, we’ve heard lots of amazing things about this city. We have a handful of friends and family members who live here, and they just seem to love, love, love, love, love it.

Like … really, they love it a lot.

So we had high expectations, to say the least.

We started our tour of Denver with a quick drive around the city to familiarize ourselves with it. We drove through Cheeseman Park (so cute!), and stopped off in the Capitol Hill area to take in a few of the more touristy aspects …

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3^^ Cheesy tourist photos — they’re kind of a must … am I right?!

After hanging around on our own for a while, we met up Thursday evening with my brother-in-law’s sister and her fiancee. (Did ya catch that?) Anyway, Rachel and Steve have lived in Denver for a bunch of years now, and they are two of those people I mentioned before who just love, love love it there ;)

They took us to the Vine Street Pub & Brewery for dinner, which was super chill and relaxed. We went outside with beers from the bar and watched people playing Cornhole while we waited for our table … it was that relaxed.

And that was about it for Thursday, since we didn’t get into Denver until around 1 anyway. Friday, however, we had quite the touristy day. We woke up early so that we could head out to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which was simply stunning.

Photo 4

Photo 5^^ We were shocked  at how much exercising went on here!
Seriously, people everywhere running up and down the stairs,
jumping the rocks, running every single row … fascinating!
I guess if you have to work out, you can’t have a
better backdrop then at Red Rocks, right?

Photo 6

Photo 7

 

Red Rocks was about an hour outside of Denver, and we spent a couple hours there just taking it all in. So by the time we made it back into the city, we were starving!

Thank God for Mexican food when you’re starving … am I right?! And  Rio Grande in the LoDo section did not disappoint.

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We sat outside under umbrellas in the 70-degree weather (hello, summer!), eating our burritos and drinking our margaritas. [A word to the wise: Watch it on the margaritas here. A single drink contains 3.5 shots of tequila! That's why they have a three drink maximum on the margs, particularly. We should know, we asked ;)]

After lunch I headed across the street to buy an outrageously expensive tee from Patagonia (I was desperate! I hadn’t read the weather beforehand and was wearing two long-sleeved shirts … and I was sweltering!), and then we caught the free 16th Street MallRide shuttle over to Commons Park, where we hopped on bikes from the Denver Bike Share program and rode over the South Platte River to the section of Denver known as The Highlands.

And oh my goodness did we love it here, my friends! And it wasn’t just because of Little Man Ice Cream (although that did help a lot ….)

Photo 9

This whole area had a very relaxed, young, happening atmosphere. It was very cool, to say the least.

So after scarfing down some ice cream (don’t ask me how I did that after eating a ton of Mexican for lunch … I have a superhuman stomach, this is for certain), we hopped back on our bikes and rode as fast as possible back to the LoDo section to meet up with Chris’s old boss for drinks at Freshcraft before heading off to the Washington Park section of Denver to meet up with our cousin and her husband and baby.

Sheesh we really crammed a lot into one full day, didn’t we!?

Anyway, Courtney and Charlie’s place was adorable, and they were so lovely to get a babysitter for the evening so that they could come back out with us for dinner at the Ale House and a couple of brewskies afterwards at Denver Beer Co. (Which, by the way, might have been my favorite brewery of all the ones we visited. It was late when we arrived — in fact we stayed until closing at midnight — but the big garage doors that make up the front of the place were thrown open from the warmer weather earlier in the day, and everyone was hanging out on picnic tables with their dogs. Very fun.)

And that, as they say, was that, my friends. It was a lot  to do in one day, but I’m really glad that we got to fit in as much as we did on Friday. I wasn’t convinced that we had seen everything Denver had to offer on Thursday (I mean that’s a stupid thing to even write, because of course we didn’t. It’s impossible to see everything any city has to offer in one day), but Friday gave me a better look at the Denver that I had heard so much about.

And that I really, truly, look forward to going back to.

Okay friends, so I’m off again next week — wahoo! This time I’ll be heading to Washington, D.C. to spend the week with a friend for her birthday. This is the friend I went to Florida with, and the one who when I visit we generally hang out and do nothing but eat and drink and chat. (Except for when she has me crafting like crazy for her sister’s baby shower)  — but this time we’ve promised each other that we will get out and about into the city to actually do something historical. Or fun. Or both.

But we’ll just have to wait to see how that goes ;)

Bis bald, friends!

 

 

Spring Break Day 3: Breckenridge, Colorado

On our third day into our trip to Colorado last week, we loaded back into the car in Boulder and headed on the two hour ride to Breckenridge. (Thank you for always saying that you would drive, Brian! I absolutely did not love driving that tank of a car we got from the rental place!)

Anyway, the road into Breckenridge is a long, windy, at times hazardous one, and we’ve been told by the locals that during peak seasons, the traffic can get pretty backed up.

Which makes sense, because Breckenridge is amazing! Simply put — it’s gorgeous. And quaint. And if you love snowboarding or skiing (which both Chris and my sister’s boyfriend do), then there’s almost nowhere better for that.

We checked into our hotel —the DoubleTree by Hilton … I love how they give you warm cookies when you check in! — and immediately turned the humidifier on in our room.

So a note about Breckenridge — it’s high up in the air, friends. At 9,600 feet above sea level, lots of people (my sister included) tend to get altitude sickness here. You may get a headache or feel lightheaded. It could be difficult for you to catch your breathe, you might feel like you’re breathing through a straw or your mouth and nose could get dry. Steph’s altitude sickness wasn’t too bad (just general tiredness and a headache), so that was lucky, and none of the rest of us seemed to feel it at all, which is great, because I was worried. Chris and I are heading off to climb Machu Picchu in the fall, so I was using this as a sort of test for how I might do in those high altitudes.

So far so good, friends. Phew!

Anyway, as the boys headed to the mountains (they could ski there directly from our hotel!), Steph and I hit up the outdoor hot tub at the hotel, then headed into the town (there was a free shuttle service both to and from our hotel as well, although it really wasn’t all that much of a walk to get into town, anyway), for lunch and a little shopping.

01^^ So cute — and look at those mountains in the distance!

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03

03A^^ Meanwhile, the boys were here …

03B^^ Gorgeous views.

03C

 

While in town Steph and I stumbled into one store in particular with a salesman who I can really truly only describe as curmudgeon-ey. He was an older gentleman — perhaps in his late 70s, early 80s — and when we told him we were from New York (he asked!), he proceeded to regale us with stories about how you can die from altitude sickness within 24 hours, and how the local doctor recommends drinking 8 ounces of water every hour, and how we really, really needed to be careful because it’s actually quite scary ….

Thanks, Mr. Curmudgeon. We didn’t actually ask you for that info … but thanks for sharing?

Anyway, it was pretty much right after that store that Steph decided she had had enough of the town and wanted to head back to the hotel to rest.

Coincidence? I think maybe not ;)

Anyway, I was happy to oblige. So off we went, back in the free shuttle (same driver. He was a young kid just out of college who had spent a semester traveling around Africa and his first winter break as a college graduate working the slopes at Breckenridge. His next plan was to move to Florida for the summer and get his license to work as a deckhand. Nice life, buddy!) to the hotel, where we chilled in the swampy, humidifed air until the boys came back. (With beers, of course!)

That night we headed back into the town to the Breckenridge Brewery, sans Stephanie, for dinner and drinks. The brewery was very chill, totally relaxed, and exactly as we had by now come to expect from the plethora of Colorado breweries.

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We didn’t hang out too long in town after dinner, since Steph was back at the hotel, but we did manage to talk the little one into coming back down to the hot tubs to hang out with us for the evening, which turned out to be quite lovely.

An outdoor hot tub. The setting sun. Some Colorado beer and your hubby. It’s a pretty happy scene — am I right?!

The next morning we were checking out to make the approximately 90 minute drive to Denver, but first we headed to the Blue Moose Restaurant for breakfast. (And Bloody Mary’s and coffee, of course!)

And that, my friends, was our Breckenridge experience. It was short, but oh so very sweet! (For those of us who didn’t feel sick, of course. I think it’s safe to say Steph may never be going back …)

Tomorrow it’s on to Denver, my friends! Bis bald!

 

A Spring Break Trip to Boulder

Hi friends,

So … we’re back! Last week Chris, my sister, her boyfriend and myself all took off on Spirit airlines (hold onto your hats, friends, because I plan to write an article about the notoriously low-rated airline and link to it here!) to head to Denver. Our itinerary for the week included trips to Boulder, Breckenridge and Denver. This was a particularly important trip, my friends, because Chris and I are planning a potential move to Colorado in the winter — but we had yet to actually visit the great state.

So you see — important!

Anyway, we were contemplating both Boulder and Denver as potential new cities for us, and Breckenridge was thrown in there so the boys could ski/snowboard for a day. We hit up Boulder first so that we would end the trip back in Denver, where we would be flying out of on Saturday.

I think probably the best way for me to tackle this trip is to take it by city — so Boulder today, Breckenridge tomorrow and Denver the next.

So Boulder first it is!  After landing at the Denver airport and being conned into upgrading our rental car to an SUV (well maybe not so much conned — having the sturdier car to drive in the mountains to Breckenridge turned out to be not so much of a bad thing …), we hit the road for our 50 minute drive to Boulder.

Boulder is …. so many things. It’s beautiful and open and entertaining and relaxing. It’s a lot of things all rolled into one — it’s just not a place that Chris and I can necessarily see ourselves living just yet. So as much as we liked it, I think it’s safe to say Boulder was ruled out as a place for us to take up residence in a few months.

Here’s a bit of what we did …

1^^ The Twisted Pine Brewery is an absolute must if you’re in Boulder.
For as many breweries as we ended up visiting, Chris and I both say
this was our favorite. We got the sampler for starters, which had so many
amazing beers for tasting. The food was pretty fantastic, as well.

2

 

3^^ Yummmm … beer!

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5

Okay ya’ll — here’s where we have to discuss the big ole’ elephant in the room, and that elephant, my friends, is marijuana. So as anyone who’s from the U.S. and doesn’t live under a rock will know, weed is now completely legal in the state of Colorado. This is of course infinitely amazing to some, completely annoying to others, and neither here nor there to even more. Whether or not it’s amazing, annoying or neither here nor there to me wasn’t really the point (although I guess if I were forced to pick a category, I’d have to go with neither here nor there …), because I’m pretty intrigued by it. Like, how does it work? What’s it like to buy a drug that has always been illegal, legally? How much does it cost? How do they sell it? What kind of people go to these stores?

I had to know! So … we found one.

The experience of buying weed is, I guess I would have to say, a bit weird. For this particular store, we walked into the front room and were greeted by “security.” (I use the term “security” loosely and with quotation marks because these guys were so friendly and chill, I can’t imagine them ever actually getting security-ish about anything …). So we showed our IDs (you do at least have to be 21, after all), and headed into the small room where the weed was kept. There were, for lack of a better term, salesmen behind the counters whose job it was to point you in the right direction. How much were you interested in smoking? What type of weed were you interested in smoking? When was the last time you smoked, and how much do you think you could handle?

Completely and totally intriguing.

5A^^ Weed in the form of edibles. I still can’t get over it.

Our entire experience lasted maybe 15 minutes, and we were out of there. We went in. We saw.

I’ve had enough ;)

That night we drove downtown to check out the Downtown Boulder area and the Pearl Street Mall, which was very adorable. We ate at West End Tavern under heat lamps in their upstairs, lofted area. It was super cute, and very tasty — I’d very much recommend it.

After a long day of traveling we were pretty exhausted, so we went to bed early so we could rise early for our  amazing hike of the Flatirons Vista Loop.

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The trail was amazing. Obviously very scenic, not too difficult and only somewhat muddied from the recent snow. I’m really glad we did it, though. After the hike we headed over to the Boulder Beer brewery, where we shared an appetizer and drank what turned out to be $1.50 beers.

ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS, PEOPLE! I’m not sure you can get gum for that much in the city, anymore.

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We ended our last night in Boulder with another trip to the downtown area (to include the amazing Boulder Bookstore where I purchased two recent releases for less than $20!) for dinner and then drinks and Yahtzee at West Flanders Brewery.12

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13A

13B^^ Yahtzee!!

And that was about it for our Boulder experience, my friends. Breweries, hikes and weed. I’d say that’s a pretty good summary ;)

The next morning we were off bright and early to Breckenridge, and I’ll update you all about that tomorrow.

Bis bald, friends!

P.S. In case anyone was wondering, we stayed at the La Quinta Inn that was actually in Louisville, Colorado, about a 10 minute drive from Boulder. The price was infinitely cheaper than anything we found directly in Boulder, though, so if you don’t mind doing a little driving, I would highly recommend it.

 

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 …

photo 1 (69)

photo 1

photo 2 (72)

photo 2 (73)

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

photo 3 (66)

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

photo 4 (58)

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!