Pennsylvania, Brooklyn & NYC — A Tale of a 5-day Trip

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^^ Gussied up in our fanciest for a very pretty (if somewhat cold!) Central Park wedding.

Hi friends,

Well we just returned from a super quick and very fun trip over to the east coast. We headed out last Friday, arriving in Pennsylvania around 10:30 p.m. for a second Christmas with my dad and stepmom, sisters and their husbands and Rory and Jude. Nan and Aussie Poppa came, too, which made the trip a super lot more fun.

Second Chrissy was only one of our objectives with this trip — we also rented a car and drove to Brooklyn on Monday, where we stayed with a friend of mine in her gorgeous brownstone and attended a wedding in Central Park on Tuesday and the reception at the Wythe Hotel.

This was Lotte’s second trip out to the east coast — a trip that followed quickly behind her trip out the mountains at the end of last year — and she was nothing but a wonderful pumpkin full of smiles the whole time.

Something tells me we got super lucky with this kid of ours.

Anyway, here’s what we got up to, in photos 😉

01_flyingout^^ Super pumped for her second trip out east!

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^^ These two together … it seriously always warms my heart.

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^^ My family has a little tradition of doing a taste-testing competition for one holiday (usually it’s Thanksgiving), and although we’d already done wine in the past, we decided why not do it again 😉 After what was meant to be a tie-breaker using beer between the three wine-tasting winners (my dad and both my brothers-in-law), both of my brothers-in-law won the beer round. This was not in the least surprising 😉

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^^ Steph and I chipped in to get Rory an actual excavator toy that he can ride, and I think it’s safe to say he liked it. (Thanks Uncle Brian for setting it up!)

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^^ The chef — aka my brother-in-law — hard at work.

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^^ My delicious dinner plate. These shrimp with Kev’s homemade barbecue sauce were to die for.

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^^ At the sports bar the next day with the fam!

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^^ A poopy diaper explosion meant Lotte was taking photos with her cousins in pjs instead of her super cute daytime outfit. Oh well, still cute, though!

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^^ Yup. Parenting is tiring.

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^^ Sleeping on the ride from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn.

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^^ The gorgeous setting for Tuesday’s wedding in Central Park.

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^^ Almost four years ago, exactly, Chris and I stood under those very same arches and sat on those very same steps, taking photos of our own after we had just been married 😉

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^^ Meanwhile, my friend Carla manned the fort back in Brooklyn with both of our babies … and her dog Simon helped.

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^^ After a short hiatus, the reception took place at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, which was nice because I had never been before. The views of Manhattan were spectacular, and the food was super delish. All-in-all, it was a very fun wedding.

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^^ At one point during the night Carla sent me this picture, which I seriously adore. She even said Lotte went down super easy that night, which may have been because of …

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^^ This amazing sleepsuit! Have you heard of this?! Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit is, as promised, magic! Lotte simply loves it, and although I’m pretty sure I’m not meant to be using it anymore since she can roll over, for now I’m just grateful it’s helped get her to sleep after the disruption of her routine over the past couple weeks. Thanks Carla, for letting Lotte borrow Fiona’s!

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^^ Fiona and Lotte the morning before we left to fly back to Denver. It is my sincere hope that these two become good, lifelong friends. At least I know Carla and I will do everything in our power to help make that happen.

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^^ Home. There’s no place like it.

And that was our trip in a nutshell, friends. We’ve got a pretty busy couple first months coming up, with trips planned and visitors coming out. But busy is how we like to be 😉

Until next time – bis bald!

An Ode to Home …

Well friends, as I mentioned on Monday, I made a quick (surprise) trip back east last week for my nephew’s second birthday party. It was the perfect time to head home for a bit, since I’ve been feeling a bit wishy-washy about Denver. I even made it into the city one day and managed to catch up with some friends and an old boss — it was just the shot in the arm I needed to head back west and take on spring!

Here’s a bit of my trip in pictures …


1Irish_Coffees^^ Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day — the day of my arrival — in the best way possible with Irish Coffees

2Times_Square^^ Glorious, glorious Times Square. This city always has a way of making me feel alive.

3Coffee_Bean^^ I hit up The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for the first time ever with a friend while I was in the city. It was pretty good, but Dunkin’ Donuts, you still have my heart …

4Central_Park^^ I had a little bit of time in between friend meet-ups, so I took a solitary stroll through Central Park. She’s a beauty. 
5Rory_Bus^^ This little guy — the whole reason for my trip. Happy 2nd birthday little man! Love you so, so much!
6Spring_Snow^^ Happy spring?! To be honest, I’m kind of glad it snowed like crazy the Friday I was home (although it did make the drive from Jersey to Pennsylvania a bit treacherous.) I’ve been watching via social media the crazy winter the east coast has been having, and I’ve been more than a little bit jealous, so this was nice.

7Rory_Counting^^ Don’t worry, we’re not upset. We’re just counting to 10 with our eyes closed while Mommy hides our toy bus. It’s a pretty fun game.

8Swim_Lessons^^ I attended Rory’s swim practice Saturday morning before his party, and it was the cutest thing. He doesn’t too much love the idea of putting his head under water yet, but he’ll get there!
9Rory_Gift^^ The aunts and uncles all put in to get Rory a bus/slide combo for his birthday present … and I think it’s safe to say he pretty much loved it.

10Bday_Cake^^ Two whole years in the books.
12Sun_Set^^ And the sun sets on my trip back home (and in my parents’ yard). Till next time, family … 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!

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: 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!