The Noble Trip To York

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While planning our trip to the United Kingdom I knew I wanted to start in London and end in Edinburgh, but I was not sure where we would stop in between. In fact, I basically looked at the map and thought, York looks about halfway…okay, done. My handy dandy  Fodor’s travel book, as well at the Internet, helped me outline an itinerary for York while staying in London. I knew NOTHING about York prior to our trip, so I needed all the help I could get, especially since I was the designated tour guide.

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Our first stop was Grey’s Court, which is a magical country cottage hidden between the Minster and the city walls. It’s a home that is over 900 years old and is now a restaurant/hotel. We had lunch and coffee and it was oh.my.gosh. amazing. Great food. Great service. Great ambiance. And, a great view. Everything we ordered was delicious and when we finished our waiter offered to give us a tour of the rooms and the property. Let me just say this; if you ever find yourself in York, book a room at Grey’s Court.

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No high chairs, but Luna enjoyed eating on the comfy couch
No high chairs, but Luna enjoyed eating on the comfy couch

Next stop was the York Minster and I swear to you this was the most interesting church I have ever visited. St. Peter’s Basilica is unbelievable, but there was something so captivating about the Minster. Maybe it was the lack of tourist, the stain glass exhibit or the underground rooms… whatever it was, it kept us there for hours. The boys got to climb the spiral staircases to the top in capture some amazing views, but it was “too dangerous for children” so Luna and I stayed down below.

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There was on room with dozens of these heads, each one different and so detailed.
There was on room with dozens of these heads, each one different and so detailed.

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poor baby was terrified to walk on the glass floor!
poor baby was terrified to walk on the glass floor!

We spent the rest of the day walking and touring. We went through the Shambles (old narrow street that was once all butchers and now touristy unique shops). We naively hiked to the top of Clifford’s Hill, only to learn that the tower was closed. We drank beer and cider at the Trembling House of Madness, a cozy pub adorned with dozens of stuffed animal heads and is apparently haunted, and did some shopping, of course.

The Shambles
The Shambles

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Day 2 we did some extreme walking. As soon as the sun was up we walked through the Museum Gardens before having breakfast in the gardens. After our huge meal, we spent a couple of hours walking the full loop of city walls. After that long walk (with a stroller) we earned a coffee break at the Perky Peacock, which is inside an older bridge tower. Then, off to the National Railway Museum! (Somewhere in here we went to the Yorkshire Museum..it lead much to be desired.)

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I am not typically interested in trains, but these trains were so very cool! We saw royal trains with complete designer bedrooms, living rooms, offices, kitchens, dining rooms and bathrooms. Fancy overnight trains for very wealthy people. (Why can’t we all travel by train these days?), bullet trains, very old mail trains, enormous engines and so much more. Every single person told us that the museum was “must-do” in York, and I now agree.

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Our last night in York was topped off with one of their famous ghost tours. Yes, York is apparently the most haunted city in Europe. The tour was cheesier than I had hoped, and we froze our butts off, but whatevs, we did it. Next stop, Edinburgh!

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Cheers!

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Shopping at BG’s

I mentioned in a previous post that one of the “must do again before I leave NY” activities is to try on more shoes at Bergdorf Goodman’s. I decided the perfect time to shoe shop was during the days of rain while Husband was visiting. We shopped all down 5th Avenue, but the cherry on top of our shopping trip was the pinnacle of all stores…Bergdorf’s.

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I am a teacher, so I cannot actually afford to buy things at Bergdorf’s, but it doesn’t hurt to look, or try on a few beautiful pieces!

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My favorite floor in BG’s is level 2, the designer shoe salon. My Mom thinks I’m crazy, but if I could afford it, I would snatch up a pair of either LouBoutin’s, Prada flats, Chanel boots, Jimmy Choo heels, or Charlotte Olympia crazy shoes in a minute. I know they are all ridiculously overpriced, by my God, they are beautiful. They are tiny little works of art that you can wear on your feet. I want my own masterpiece!

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Shopping at BG’s is a comforting exceptional  experience. They have comfy designer chairs every ten feet or so, the sales clerks will wait on you hand and foot, everyone is friendly and happy and all dogs are allowed! It’s the sort of classic department store where you imagine every glamorous classic movie star shopped (probably because they all did). We even ran into Sofia Vargara on the elevator!

It’s a great place for people watching too. Spend half an hour in the shoe department and you are sure to see tourists, Moms and daughters, old ladies with too much plastic surgery, rich men, fancy little dogs, large mutts, teenage heiresses and everyone in between. It’s perfect.

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Once, while window shopping, I tried on the most remarkable heels ever (the purple wedges from the 111th anniversary, remember?) While trying them on I noticed an older woman watching me. She was being waited on, and had a stack of about ten different designer shoes next to her. I looked back at her, and she said “Those look fabulous on you”. Without a thought I replied “I can’t agree with you more”. She then looked to the young lady helping her and asked for a pair in a size 8 to try on for herself. The young lady brought the beautiful purple shoes to the older woman who said “Forget it, I’m tired of trying on shoes. I’ll just buy them, and all the others I’ve tried on”.

I sat there, jaw on the floor, for a good ten minutes. She must have spent over 10 grand. I was secretly waiting for her to come back and offer to buy the pair I tried on. After all “they look fabulous” on me, right?

My favorite shoes during my most recent visit weren’t too shabby either.

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Bergorf’s also has a restaurant on the 7th floor. It’s lovely, has great views of Central Park and the Plaza, fancy delicious dishes and is exactly where I wanted to take my Mom for lunch. We had a roasted beet salad, seafood pasts, tea and coffee and it was all wonderful. We ate next to the window and talked and talked like Mothers and daughters do.

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It was the best last shopping trip I could have had at Bergdorf Goodman’s…at least until I come back and visit!

Cheers!

Tea For Two

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m a bit coffee fan…like a huge coffee fanatic. I choose coffee over basically any beverage, but I’ve tried to be a little less dependent lately and have ventured out of my coffee comfort zone to tea. I have been drinking a cup of hot decaf tea every night before bed, and I LOVE it. It’s so warm and comforting. It’s also becoming part of a “bedtime routine”: reading a little, drinking tea and watching Friends. Having a routine has really helped me sleep better.

The last day Husband was visiting me here in NY it rained all day and was freezing (so unfair this time of year). All I wanted was a hot cup of tea and a place to relax. Husband decided to treat me to tea time at Harney and Sons.

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Harney and Sons is a tea shop in Soho with a tasting room. They offer hundreds of teas, all flavors, and allow you to select two to taste. They also have a tea cafe where they serve so many delicious drinks and snacks. We had Bangkok tea,   a combination of green tea, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut and ginger, and scones. Their scones were mmm mmm good.

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After warming up, we shopped through their variety of teas and tasted the Chinese flower tea, tropical green tea and Paris black tea.

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We decided that “Paris” was the best of the lot and bought a few ounces to take home…although, I can’t help but think the name (my favorite city) had a bit to do with that decision.

Can’t wait to sip on my Parisian tea as I read on the deck of our new house in a couple of weeks!

Cheers!

Star Struck for the First Time

Husband’s Grandparents have been in town visiting with us all week. Unfortunately, I had to work everyday so I did not get to spend near as much time with them as I would like, but I did enjoy the little time I got to visit. Most days I just had time to join them for dinner. By the end of the week we started playing a new out-to-dinner game.

We realized we were spending more time checking our phones than we were speaking to each other so we played a little game that has been trending online. The rules are simple: You stack all the phones on each other, and placed them in the middle of the table. The person who picks up their phone first pays for dinner.

We added a rule: “If no one picks up their phone Dad-in-law pays for dinner”.

Yesterday, I had enough time to meet them for a show on Broadway. We saw the new show Grace starring Paul Rudd and Ed Asner! I LOVE both of these actors and could not wait to see them in person. The show was great! There were only four actors, all very talented.

I went in knowing nothing about the play, and was very surprised when it started with every single character dying in literally the first five seconds. Needless to say, it was a very depressing story. I still enjoyed it, but I can’t shake some of the saddest scenes from my mind.

On the bright side, I got to meet the actors after the show! Woo! AND, for the very first time I felt star struck! I have been in love with Paul Rudd since he played Mike Hannigan (AKA Crap Bag) on FRIENDS.

Paul Rudd!!!!!
Ed Asner!!!

It’s always a little exciting to meet a celebrity, but I couldn’t even form sentences when meeting Paul Rudd. I got all flustered and shy and said something like “uh…Paul…um…picture…oh…thanks…um….you’re so great!” He was very nice and seemed happy to take pictures with absolutely anyone before speeding off in his getaway car.

Then, because I am the luckiest girl, I got to go see Once today! Once is the new #1 show on Broadway. It won the most Tony’s last year and I have been dying to see it since I saw the commercial over a year ago. The music is incredible. Watching the show was more like watching a really cool concert in your favorite dive-bar. The set is a bar and before the show, and during intermission, everyone is allowed on stage to order drinks.

It turned out to be sad too, but was like watching Full House compared to watching Grace. You can watch a few of the highlights below.

Now, the Grandparents have returned home safely, and we are left to fend for ourselves as Hurricane Sandy approaches. Looking forward to a stormy day inside with lots of junk food, movies, books, and wine!

Cheers!

Husband’s Birthday Surprises

I love ALL holidays, especially my Birthday. My Birthday is in November, and I always declare November “Birthday Month”. This means that all month whenever I want to watch a certain show, get Starbucks, or eat chips and salsa for dinner, and Husband does not…I simply say, “But its BIRTHDAY month!”

The week of my Birthday is even better. I can usually convince Husband to make dinner, clean house, take me out on a date, and shower me with little surprises, all because it’s “Birthday week.” Husband is a good sport about all of this because he knows I love to celebrate, and he knows I’ll be sad and disappointed if he doesn’t share my enthusiasm. He’s learned over the years that it’s much better to go along with my festivities than to ignore them. I do not take disappointment well.

I may sound bratty, but I can’t help it. I tend to build up every special event in my life so much that I am easily disheartened if occasions aren’t as I imagined. I don’t mean to set myself up for disappointed; I just like to have something big and positive to look forward to, like waking up to a room full of balloons and breakfast in bed on my Birthday.

To make up for being a Birthday Brat, I try my best to treat Husband the same during his Birthday month/week. The tricky part is that he never uses the phrase “but, it’s my Birthday week!”, so I never know exactly what he wants. Even after questioning him on what he’d like for dinner or what movie he would like to see, I just get his typical “Whatever is fine with me” answer.

He doesn’t ask for much, and he owns basically everything he wants, so gift buying and little surprises are hard to choose. This year I decided to make a list of special little things I could do all week to show him I love him, and that his Birthday is special too…almost as special as mine.

While making the list I tried to think of things he would appreciate, but also things I could afford. If I could surprise him with extravagant gifts everyday I would, but I don’t have a credit card anymore so I’m forced to think realistically these days. After lots of brainstorming and doodling I came up with this final list of special little surprises….

This List:

Do the dishes. It is typically his job to do the dishes, but I decided to give him a break a few days this week and take on the task.

Walk the dog. This is another chore that Husband does. He doesn’t mind walking the dog, except in the mornings, so I took her for a walk before work.

Special notes. I left little post-its around the house with sweet messages to remind him how sweet, hot, and wonderful I think he is.

Favorite candy bar. I bought his favorite candy bar (Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit Bar) for dessert one night.

Special Birthday Dinner. I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest for Cake Pancakes. It’s half yellow cake mix, half pancake, and lots of sprinkles. Mine do not look nearly as attractive as the Pinterest recipe, but they tasted uh-mazzzzeee-ing, and I served them on my “Happy Birthday” platter!

TV time. ANY time Husband wanted to watch ANYthing, I said, “Okay” with no argument. Didn’t matter if it was football, YouTube videos found on Reddit, or Walking Dead….I was all for it.

Massage. Because, you know, who doesn’t want a massage?

Best Lava Cake in NYC. Husband’s all-time favorite dessert is chocolate lava cake, and I researched and researched to find the best in the city and ended at Cathcart and Reddy…a former dessert truck turned bakery in the Lower East Side. We got chocolate bread pudding, handmade donuts with rosemary caramel, and obviously chocolate lava cake. Everything was phenomenal. This is a place going on our list of “must-do’s” for all our visitors.

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chocolate lava cake!!!

Movies! Husband loves going to the movies, so we saw Argo. As an extra special treat, I stayed awake throughout the entire movie! BTW, if you haven’t seen this yet, you should.

The Perfect Card, I love looking for hours and hours for the right card. This year I found one that says, “According to psychologists…your favorite kind of cake can reveal your personality!” Now, read these descriptions:

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My favorite cake

That’s just uncanny.

I got him a gift too, but I think these little things mean much more. It’s fun to stretch out the celebration, and have special surprises all week. Any of you have any traditional Birthday celebrations, or sweet and inexpensive surprise you do for you loved ones? I loved to hear them!

Happy Husband’s Birthday week to all of you!

Cheers!

“Hello Brooklyn B-B-Baby”

Even after a 45 minute train-ride home on Saturday night, we still managed to get up and make the trip back to Brooklyn again on Sunday. And while were on the subject, I’d like to point out that the absolute best thing about using the train as my primary form of transportation, is the free time it gives me. I used to consider these long rides as time wasted, but now I see it’s value.

If I was driving in my own car, I would only be able to listen to the radio (and maybe put on some eyeliner), but the train gives me “hands-free time”…well not hands free, i guess…more like “hands…utilized time”? I can read, freshen my make-up, fix my hair, play on my phone, and still listen to my music. The PROBLEM with these free time options is that 90% of the time I forget my Nook, book, headphones, make-up, brush, and I never put anything on my phone except solitaire. This weekend I managed to play 32 games of solitaire…BUT I did beat my record 3 times, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss.

Anyway, we started our day in Brooklyn at Atlantic Antic, supposedly New York’s biggest street fair. It’s “a mile of food, music, and fun;”…and basically the same as every other New York street fair. If you are like me and LOVE fried food, lemonade, corn-on-the-cob, and lots of cheap homemade crap for sale, then these fairs are right up your alley.

Instantly, we lost Husband and his friend, which, of course led to lots of jazz hands (our signal for being lost/finding each other).

Once together again, we walked through the streets, but as we walked, booths were literally being picked up in front of us. We had to basically run down the street to reach anything before they pulled down their curtains, or folded their tables, and said “sorry, we’re closing.” Upon seeing our disappointed faces, one vendor informed us that the whole festival had to close early due to the Jay-Z concert.

The Barclay Center, a multi-purpose arena, just opened in Brooklyn, which is like, BIG news for this borough. Not only will it bring more tourists, money, and  jobs (hopefully), it’s bringing the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn. Jay-Z, a Brooklyn native, is a partial (like a miniscule amount) owner of the Nets and has apparently been dreaming of moving his team to his hometown forever.

Jay-Z has been such a strong supporter of the Barclays Center that he is giving eight (yes eight!) concerts in a row to christen the grand opening! Every single show is already sold out; that’s one heck of an opening. I don’t know how we missed or ignored all the advertisements for his shows, but I’m sure they are/were amazing.

We stood and gawked at the center for a while, hoping to somehow run into Beyonce and baby Blue Ivy before we went to dinner at The Rose Water.

At our dinner, we were so famished that we just ate and ate and ate and drank and drank, never once thinking to snap a picture (I know no one is tired of seeing my dinner pics yet, right?). Just trust me that it was beautiful and delicious.

Brooklyn, you were a fun weekend fling, but to be honest, I’m not looking for anything serious. It’s not you…it’s me. So, maybe we can just be friends? I’ll give you a call some time.

Cheers!

Fun Day Numero Dos

Today is dubbed Brooklyn Day! Our trio (Husband, Zoey, and myself) spent the whole day discovering what Brooklyn has to offer. Brooklyn is SOOOO far away from our apartments. It takes 45 minutes by train to get to this borough, which is just not worth a frequent visit.

Our first stop was the Dekalb Market. This market is created by Urban Space and is made from old shipping containers (old train cars). They made a small community from these containers and created several little shops, a performance space, and little eateries. It’s a little pricey, but it’s worth a trip to walk around this crazy recycled space full of really nice hand-made products.

After shopping, we took a couple more trains deeper into Brooklyn to get to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. This place is enormous and beautiful; it reminds me a lot of Cheekwood in Nashville. They have a really large field full of cherry trees that I am dying to come back in visit whenever they are in bloom. We spent hours walking around the floral exhibits and stealing fruit and veggies off the many low-hanging branches.

This tree is so beautiful, but hundreds of people have carved their initials into it.

They actually had a sign up that basically said they do NOT use the produce they grow, which to us was an open invitation to help ourselves. We weren’t the only ones either. While trying to reach some very high kiwi growing on the terrace over our heads we somehow convinced two male strangers to climb the lattice and the vines and pick several kiwi for us to share.

After all the walking and illegal snacking, Zoey got bored and left us to fend for ourselves. Husband and I hopped yet another train to get to the most trendy and hipster neighborhood in Brooklyn…Williamsburg.

There is a make-your-own jewelry store here called Brooklyn Charm that I just adore. I had a special jewelry project in mind that would require their help.

While visiting my Grandma last week in Texas I found an old coin that belonged to my PawPaw. It’s not of any value, it’s just a Grand Master’s coin from the Mason’s Lodge he was a member of back in the day. I do not have anything of my PawPaw’s so I politely asking my Grandma if I could have it to make a necklace with, and she was happy to give it to me. I spent a little while coming up with a design for the necklace (with Husband’s help), and when I finished, the awesome girls at Brooklyn Charm put the whole thing together for me in a matter of minutes. The finished product only cost me $15!

Before saying good-bye to Brooklyn, we decided to have dinner at Fornino’s Pizza.

my mouth is watering just looking at this…

We arrived in our own hood right as the sun was setting. We weren’t ready to call it a night so we grabbed Belle and headed to the roof to watch the sun set. We laid on the warm rooftop gazing at the city lights and skyline for a while, and I realized how similar this was to laying in the grass gazing at the stars in the country. Both are beautiful, relaxing, and make you feel so small and in awe of the world around you.

Husband and I often have conversations about where life has taken us. We both had dreams of living in a big city and traveling, but when we met over seven years ago did we imagine living in Manhattan? Together? Snuggling on our rooftop? Of course not. We know we are lucky ducks, and love these special moments together.

I have not written about anxiety lately, but I should mention I’ve been on the verge of panic lately. (I’ll have to write more on this later.) Lying on the roof with my favorite person and favorite dog, taking in the city that never sleeps was comforting. There is something about this city, knowing that there are so many people around; working, playing, eating, shopping, living, that is calming. It’s soothing to have busyness all around me. I guess if I’m not busy, it’s nice to know that some people are. It’s kind of like they are keeping things productive and making up for my down time.

Thanks God for these summer nights, and thank Brooklyn for it’s trendy attractions. We had a great day.

Cheers!