Fun Day Numero Uno

Today was rainy…boo. AND, I had to babysit… double boo. I was still determined to enjoy this first day of the last day of summer so I searched really hard for the silver lining in all of those thick gray clouds.

When the heavy rain began to pour this morning, I decided to use my time inside to try a new curling technique I picked up from Pinterest, via YouTube.

This girl (Karmin) is super pretty, has great hair, is a really good singer, and makes this tutorial look easy. It’s not BTW. It took me at least a half hour to curl my hair with her technique, and by evening it looked like this…

 

To be fair, it was 110% humidity today.

When babysitting time came, I accidently arrived 20 minutes early, so I stopped for a pick me up at Our Little Brown Chocolate Bakery and Cafe. I love this cute little coffee shop, and I am rarely closer to it than Starbucks, so I took advantage of my proximity and extra time, and ordered a shaken iced pomegranate tea.

 

While babysitting, in the uber-fancy Upper East Side apartment, I got some time to myself (thanks to nap time). I got to take a minute to enjoy their amazing view that I will forever envy.

 

I made it to Central Park for about a half hour today and got to walk around with Husband, Zoey, and Belle before meeting Grandma-in-law for dinner.

We ate at the ONLY Burmese restaurant in Manhattan, Café Mingala. It’s the first time I have ever eaten Burmese food, and thanks to our friendly waiter, I learned a lot about Burma. For example, it’s nt longer called “Burma”, it’s now called Myanmar. It also has an amazing site called The Golden Rock, that I am now determined to see up close and in person one day.

This is a mural of the golden rock in the restaurant… looks like a lemon wearing a hat about to roll off a cliff.

The real one.

The Burmese/Myanmar food was delicious, and seemed to be a slight cross between Thai and Indian food. They had lots of vegetarian options, so I am an instant fan.

dessert!

It’s now 11pm, which means I only have 2 hours left before I have to get in bed at a decent time!

Cheers!

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Summer Lovin’

It’s official, there is one week left of summer break. My full time hours start the day after Labor Day which means I need to squeeze in as many fun-in-the-sun activities as possible into the next seven days. It also means that I have a ton of little jobs to get done, but of course I procrastinated all these tedious to-do-before-school-starts lists, and allowed them to pile up.

Summer has always been my favorite season. I would be perfectly content living somewhere along the equator, dressed in flip-flops, a bikini, sunglasses, and braided hair everyday. I love the hot sun on my skin, the relaxed attitudes, the vacations, and the swimming. No other season can compare. Typically, I go into a slight depression this time of year, when Autumn starts blowing in, but I am determined to have a new attitude this year.

I am going to welcome Fall with open arms. I am going to get excited about my new work responsibilities coming up. I will even prepare myself by going to bed early and getting up early this week. I MIGHT even start cleaning out my summer wardrobe….probably not though… I will, however, look forward to the many great opportunities Autumn surely has waiting for me. Right?

Of course, I am only telling you this so that you will each hold me accountable. I expect lots of emails and phone calls this week checking in to make sure I am pumped about the seasons changing, and getting into bed before Talk Stoop comes on the TV.

Between trying to prepare myself to be a responsible adult again and getting organized, I am also going to wear my shades and flip-flops everyday, explore more of the city, take Belle to the park as much as possible, eat an entire watermelon, and hopefully make it to the beach one more time.

The goal is to do at least one super fun/relaxing activity every single day for the next 7 days. For day number 1, we went all over Manhattan hitting 5 different flea markets looking for a large ornate picture frame for my Betsey Johnson print. Zoey and I each purchased a Betsy Johnson print from one of her local stores before they closed recently. So sad…I still can’t believe she went bankrupt.

Anyhow, we bought these with the intentions of buying old frames, spray painting them black, and hanging up our prints in style. Zoey, however, did her little frame project without me, but it’s okay because I forced her to take me all over town today searching for my own. We even accidently found a farmer’s market full of  locally grown deliciousness.

mmm, I love fresh focaccia bread

AMAZING!

We had a good time foraging for antique, used, and recycled goodies….

Check out the Albanian Leke we found. One booth was selling bills from literally every country. Who knew I could have made cash off my Albanian cash?

…BUT, we could not find one suitable frame. Boo.

We did find run into a Pakistani parade though. I can’t ever go through the city without running into a parade.

I didn’t make it to the park today, but I did get some quality time with some lovies. We all snuggled on Zoey’s couch all evening to watch every episode of Bunhead’s (AKA Gilmore Girls: The Sequel).

Cheers!

Tranquility at Tiffany’s

Great news everybody! Husband and I get to stay in our apartment until next summer!!! After lots of looking, debating, and talking with our landlord, he finally told us to just stay until July. I think he is having a lot of trouble selling the apartment, and he’d prefer to have a tenant paying rent then have nothing at all. Yay us!

I cannot even begin to tell you what a relief it was to hear this news. Even though all of the hundreds of hours I spent trying to find a new home turned out to be in vain, I don’t care. I am just so thrilled to not have to pack and physically move…again.

All the talk of moving, got me and Husband seriously discussing our future: Where do we want to settle down? When should we buy a home? How long do we want to live in Manhattan? When do we want to have kids?

We never answered any of these questions, just thought and talked A LOT about them. We love NYC, but probably won’t raise kids here. We want kids, but I want them sooner than Husband. We don’t ever want to settle down, but it would be nice to have an actual home to care about, decorate, and fill with large comfy furniture. Thankfully, we’ve been given extra time to make these decisions.

On a related note, I just read Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I came across a great passage where Holly and Fred discuss her anxiety and her strategy for finding a home. Holly begins by trying to explain to Fred why she refuses to name her cat. She claims they are both independents; she doesn’t want to own anything until she finds the place where she belongs…I’ll let you read the rest…

“You know those days when you’ve got the mean reds?”

 “Same as the blues?”

 “No, No the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad, that’s all. But the mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?”

“Quite often. Some people call it angst.”

“All right. Angst. But what do you do about it?

“Well a drink helps.”

“I’ve tried that. I’ve tried aspirin too. Rusty thinks I should smoke marijuana, and I did for a while, but it only makes me giggle. What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.”

I never knew I had so much in common with Miss Holly Golightly. She makes a very good point of deciding that she wants her home to feel like the one place that makes her feel safe and serene. Don’t we all want that? Is this even possible for someone who suffers panic attacks?

After reading this passage I thought hard about what my “Tiffany’s” is; what specific place brings me calmness and peacefulness…if any place does.

I suppose Sephora brings me lots of happiness. I love that I can walk into Sephora looking like I just rolled out of bed, and walk out looking like the paparazzi should be following me. The ladies working are so friendly, always giving away samples and applying new products to my skin. I can spend hours playing with all the make-up, bronzers, hair style-ers, nail polishes, and perfumes; I don’t think I’ve ever had a panic attack in Sephora. Although, my pulse does race when I hear the total at the register.

Starbucks is another place that immediately relaxes me. In fact, anytime I’m having a rough day I tend to find myself ordering a tall iced soy latte and making friendly conversation with a barista. I’m sure much of this has to do with my caffeine addiction, but there is also something very comforting about being in a Starbucks, like being home…(Although, it does feel less comfy and homey since they’ve all taken out my favorite big comfy chairs.) Sometimes, I sit in Starbucks with my laptop just to get some work done. I tend to focus and work harder there than when I’m home. Even while traveling the world, we ALWAYS stop at a Starbucks, if we come across one, for a little taste of home.

Another place is the beach. How original, right? I guess the beach just makes all of us feel peaceful and relaxed. I could sit in the sand and read, do cartwheels down the beach, or play in the waves forever and ever. If I lived on the beach I’d be warm and carefree, but probably never get anything of value done.

Gilmore Girls is something else that immediately takes the “mean reds” away. I know this TV show isn’t a location, but it saves me from numerous panic attacks. If I wake up in the middle of the night sweating and in a panic I just have to pop in an episode with Lorelei and Rory to make me forget what was driving me nuts in the first place. Their dramatic lives and quick wit keeps me distracted and happy.

Then there’s dancing. I’ve never been the best dancer, but I have danced for years. I’ve taken dance since I was a little girl, and I’ve taught for about 5 years now. When the right song comes on, and I’m able to move to it, it’s like I’m free. I’m free of worry, free of to-do lists, free of deadlines, I’m just there to dance, and it feels right. I guess dancing is my anti-panic.

Like Holly, I am not really sure what I am looking for or where I’ll eventually call home. Right now, the plan is to have a house that comes with a dancing barista who can do my make-up on my private beach while watching Gilmore Girls. Husband would have to be there too. It would not be home without Husband.

Until then, I’ll be constantly reminding myself how lucky and thankful we are to stay in our teeny Upper East Side apartment (which is walking distance from 5 Starbucks and a Sephora BTW) for another year. Thankful, thankful, thankful, I love you apartment!

Cheers!

Waffles and Dinges

Ever heard of a Dinge? Me neither. Here’s a description of a dinge.

Did that help? Me neither.

Waffles and Dinges are incredible food carts/trucks that are located in a few different spots around Manhattan, but almost always can be found at the south end of Central Park. The first time I tried them I couldn’t believe how scrumptious these waffles were. They are baked to perfection with a slightly crispy coating (of what I guess is syrup) lightly coating them. They are then topped with powdered sugar and either fruit or ice cream.

Not only are the waffles really warm and tasty, but also are served by very friendly guys who are smiling and listening to jazz and swing style music. The cooks are so friendly that they even gave me a free “wafleini” after Belle knocked mine out of my hands.

 

Oh, what’s that? You’ve never heard of a wafelini? Well let me explain. A Wafelini is a mini waffle on a stick surrounded by pieces of banana and strawberries and topped with powdered sugar.

 

Hungry for more? A “Brussels Waffle” is a large light and crispy waffle. It is “the mother of all waffles” and first came to New York for the 1964 World Fair.

Then, there’s the WMD. This Waffle of Massive Deliciousness is a waffle topped with basically any toppings you desire: ice cream, walnuts, bananas, nutella, strawberries, chocolate fudge, maple syrup, and much more.

This food truck isn’t exactly a healthy snack, but trust me, it’s worth the extra calories. Plus, you can just take a nice jog through the park after. No? A walk maybe? Well, there are always other modes of transportation conveniently waiting next to the Waffles and Dinges cart.

 

 

Cheers!

Yoga in the Park

NYC offers a lot of free activities during the summer. There are movies played on big screens in the park, puppet shows, dance shows, theatre shows, and numerous classes. The majority of these events take place in the big city parks. I had planned on taking advantage of all these free events this summer, but I did not consider the fact that I was going to be out of town over half of the summer.

All of a sudden it’s the end of July and another school year is creeping up on me. ( I swear that summer vacation is much more fun as an adult….although, they also fly by much faster.) Today, I decided to take advantage of the summer in the city before it’s gone and time to break out my Autumn wardrobe. My first venture into free park-classes was a yoga class at Bryant Park. The only thing I knew about this class is that it starts at 6pm, it’s free, and yoga mats are provided. I was worried that either a) no one would be there and I’d be stuck in a one-on-one instruction with a yogi, or b)  that a million people would be there and I wouldn’t have space or a mat. I decided to get there a half hour early to check out the scene.

When I arrived, there were about 50 people spread out among a couple hundred mats. Lucky for me, there was an empty mat in the very front row and center. I sat down next to a middle-age woman who was also trying the class for the first time. She was actually on vacation, and it turns out she works out every day no matter what, and especially on vacation. I told her she was crazy, but I admired her dedication.

Class began when a petite guy with a ponytail picked up a microphone and began telling us how beautiful it is to being doing yoga on the grass in the middle of the city. “Open your ears to the sounds of the city while connecting your body to the Earth and show your love for both.” This guy was a really good yoga teacher, but used a little too much “yoga-ese” for my taste.

My serious face

I love yoga because it makes me feel relaxed, happy, and like I’m doing something really wise and mature, but often I wish it was silent yoga. The corny phrases are just so ridiculous that I often laugh out loud. I’ll look around expecting others to give me that “I know right?! Who talks like that!”  glance, but instead I get the “What the hell are you laughing at?” glare.

Some of my favorite phrase used today were… “Soften your skin”, “Melt your bones into the Earth”, and “Spread the wings of your heart.”

I mean…seriously, that’s funny. Right?

About halfway through yoga…somewhere between downward dog and chair pose… I glanced around the park and realized there were about 400 people in the yoga class! In front of me, there were hundreds of people taking pictures, or just sitting in the park chairs watching. Who could blame them? The whole thing looked pretty impressive and bizarre. It would be impossible for any tourist or local to walk by the park and not notice hundreds of people chanting and moving in sync.

By the time we bowed our heads and said “namaste”, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. It’s rare that I feel calm any given day, but to be laying in the grass at 6 pm, one block away from Time Square, eyes shut, and have nothing but positive thoughts running through my mind is an incredibly unique experience. I’m positive I’ll try this again, and hopefully some other classes too. Maybe tai chi? Painting in the park? Or Kub!?!?!

I mentioned in a Hilton Head post  that our family LOVES to play a Swedish game called Kub. Much to our surprise, Kub classes and games are offered right in the middle of Bryant Park! NYC is constantly surprising me with the many adventures it has to offer.

No one can ever complain about being bored in this town. Money or not, there is ALWAYS something to do.

Cheers and Namaste!

The Perfect Vacation

Look who finally came back from Costa Rica!

Husband and I love traveling more than anything, and as I keep mentioning, we always travel to a new place so that we will one day reach our goal of traveling to every country in the world. These trips are so adventurous and fun, but are rarely relaxing. As much as we enjoy hopping around the globe, our favorite destination (yes, even more than Disney…well maybe….) is a place we visit every summer…Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Hilton Head is an actual vacation for us. Husband’s family has taken an annual summer trip to Hilton Head since the beginning of time. For the last 400 years (give or take a few) the entire extended family has rented one huge house together, and done basically the same exact things they do each summer. It’s a beautiful tradition.

 

This years annual group picture

 

Each Hilton Head morning I wake up early, not because I have to, but because I want to get up. I am so well rested and so excited to start the day. A few mornings I actually woke early enough to take a walk on the beach before dawn, watch the sunrise, and search for turtle tracks. I wasn’t lucky enough to find baby turtles making their way to the ocean, but it was still fun to walk around the nests in hopes of seeing them.

 

 

Then, by the time I return to the house the coffee fairy has made a fresh pot of coffee, just waiting for me. It’s magical. For breakfast I have the option of walking about two blocks to pick up fresh croissants from “The French Kiss” bakery with Grandma, or making myself some eggs and toast. I spend the next hour reading and drinking my coffee in the comfy living room, wrapped in cozy blanket, (I just love central air conditioning!) waiting for everyone else to get up.

Around 8:30am a group of us normally want Starbucks and we often take about a mile bike ride to the closest Starbucks together, because one coffee at 6am is certainly not enough.

By the time we get back with our coffees and 3 copies of the New York Times, the rest of the family is up and it’s time to hit the beach. Our beach routine goes like this: swim, see how long we can volley the ball to each other (I think the record was 42…we aren’t the most athletic family), get out and either build a giant sand castle or play a crazy Scandinavian game.

 

 

Our Finnish family/friend lady introduced us to a really fun game that is similar to bowling called Molkky, which we’ve played for years now. Last summer, while visiting other friends in Sweden we were taught to play another game called Kub, which is unlike any game I’ve ever played.

 

 

Lots of us are really competitive and these games become very intense. We scream, argue with each other, makeup team names, cheer for our teammates, attract a crowd of strangers, finish by saying “We can’t play this stupid game anymore!”, but always play again the next day.

After everyone is sunburnt and starving we head back to the house to cool off in the pool and make enormous sandwiches with potato bread for everyone. (Hilton Head is the one time of year where everyone forgets the healthy 100% whole grain bread, and indulges in the yellow soft potato bread.)

 

 

The afternoon is spent either going on a very long bike ride through the shady tree-lined sidewalks decorated with tons of Spanish moss, reading by the pool, or more swimming. Also, the coffee fairy shows up again each afternoon and makes large glasses of vanilla flavored iced coffee! It miraculously appears next to me as I sunbathe in a beach chair with a book in my hands. What could be better?

 

 

Each night we wash all the saltwater, sand, in chlorine off to pretty ourselves up for a nice dinner in town, or sometimes a homemade dinner at home. Once everyone is stuffed and maybe a little tipsy, we force the whole family to play games together.

 

 

Our favorite games are charades and Scattegories, and we introduced half the family to “murder” this year. These games are all played in a similar fashion to the games played on the beach, but no one takes the yelling or competition too seriously, just serious enough to loudly announce your score, jump up and down, and dub yourself the “Scattergories queen”.

And, the whole day ends so perfectly… each night I lay in my comfy large bed with the AC turned way low, the fan on high, and the cable TV on E! Coming from our hot loft, window-unit AC, non-cable Television, teeny-weeny apartment, I feel like I’m in the lap of luxury and fall asleep to the sound of the Kardashian’s planning their next family trip. Perfect.

 

 

The only downside to Hilton Head is that Husband and I are sad that it has to end. I’m on the way home now, typing away as my ears pop on the plane, and already looking forward to Hilton Head next year.

*I had every intention of keeping up the blog while on vacation, but it somehow kept slipping my mind. Damn coffee fairy, I blame her for distracting me. Hope you all had a great week!

Cheers!