Coffee and Classics All By Myself

The past weekend was AMAZING and super busy. We did something fun and awesome everyday, which means I have some fun and awesome events to review for you. I’ll start with Friday… Friday morning I got to review the Nashville Symphony’s (Schermerhorn Symphony Center) Coffee and Classic’s series. I had planned on going with Husband, but turned out he was the only one who could watch Luna. So, I got all dolled up and headed downtown all by myself.

coffee and classics

At first, I felt slightly apprehensive about attending the symphony alone. I’m used to being with someone pretty much all of the time, being alone seemed a little scary, at first. Then, it wasn’t scary. It was awesome. From the quiet car ride to the single chair and hot cup of coffee, it was nothing but awesome. I have never been to the symphony (minus the one time I took my 2nd grade class on a field trip), so I really didn’t know what to expect. I learned quite a bit during this first experience of mine and I became a forever fan of they symphony

The first thing I learned was to arrive early. I left with enough time to arrive 30 minutes early, but after driving through downtown traffic, searching for a parking space, paying and walking to the theatre, I barely had enough time to scarf a blueberry muffin and add a little creamer to my coffee. Thankfully, they allow you to bring your coffee inside. Otherwise, I may have missed the first number. I joined the crowd of senior citizens and found my seat which was located at the end of an aisle and an empty seat next to it. Yay! I expected a crowd of Moms and kids, but I guess there are lots of elderly people who prefer to drive during the day and not hangout downtown at night. I get that.

coffee

Before the show began the conductor gave us a history lesson over the composer, Rachmaninoff, and symphony No. 2 in E minor. It was lighthearted, humorous and interesting. The whole setting was laid-back. People dressed more casual, drank coffee and laughed at the composer’s jokes. As soon as the show started I was transfixed. The way the strings moved up and down simultaneously and the fantastic facial expressions each violinists made was mesmerizing. I didn’t know if I could appreciate the classical music the way it should be appreciated, considering my lack of knowledge when it comes to symphonies, but holy cow, it is impressive how instrumental music can arouse such a wide array of emotions.  And, come on, who doesn’t love watching the conductor? It’s amusing and stunning at the same time.

Honestly, the coffee and classics experience was the exact kind of peaceful break I needed. It was as relaxing as a stroll in the park, as soothing as a coffee break at Starbucks and as magical as an hour trying the new products at Sephora. Not to mention, it finally gave me an opportunity to dust off the real clothes hanging in my freshly cleaned and organized closet.

symphony

The symphony reminded me to do three very important things, three things that we should all do more often.

Be still.

Listen.

Reflect.

Scratch that. There’s a fourth thing; enjoy something beautiful.

Shouldn’t we take the time to do that everyday? I guess that’s why I enjoyed being alone so much that morning. It gave me the opportunity to sit still, listen without needing to respond, reflect on things I enjoy and appreciate the beautiful music being played for me by such talented musicians.

I am already planning my next trip to the Symphony. On October 28th they are playing Phantom of the Opera and it will be accompanied by the Concert Organ. There will be trick-or-treating, costume contests, street performers and more! Can’t wait!

To check out info. on the Coffee and Classics series and the many other events hosted by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, click here.

Cheers!

A Day in Gatlinburg

On New Year’s Day we were staying in a cabin with friends in Pigeon Forge, TN (where the Great Smoky Mountains are), and after sleeping very late (thanks New Year’s Eve!), eating a large breakfast and debating whether or not we even wanted to leave the cabin, we eventually decided to check out downtown Gatlinburg, which I have never explored.

day in gatlinburg

Downtown Gatlinburg is a very touristy cheesy small town full of souvenir shops, gimmicky shows and over the top attractions. So, basically, it was right up our ally. We started off the day in a little village that offered a ridiculous amount of free moonshine samples (“First legalized moonshine”). There was also crazy amounts of free jams, salsas, sauces, dips, pickled things and hot sauces. I stuffed my face while everyone else got tipsy.

free moonshine samples

Someone is enjoying their moonshine
Someone is enjoying their moonshine

sauce samples

You’d think that everyone would need a chaser for the moonshine more than anything, but turns out there’s one hot sauce that had everyone (well the boys mostly…girls were much tougher) begging for milk or more pretzels.

hot sauce

We ate lunch at Bubba Gumps (I know, I know…but God their seafood hush puppies are SO good), shopped, got more free samples, drank very hot coffee to warm us up and took photos all over town. It was really nice to just be on vacation with friends, which I think is a rare opportunity for most.

downtown the group new year's day the girls

Two of our favorite stops were the Jerky Shop and Doc’s Magic Shop. The Jerky Shop had deer, beef, boar, ostrich, alligator AND vegan jerky. Of course, the shop owner offered samples of his jerkys because that’s apparently the rule in Galtinburg. It works by the way, we each left with a bag of jerky. Doc’s Magic Shop doesn’t have free food, but they did offer free magic shows which we soaked up and ooh’d and aww’d over for far too long… and many of us left there with a bag of magic tricks as well.

jerky shop magic shop

Right as we decided it was time to go home (i.e. back to the cabin) we passed a whisky shop offering a big round of free whiskey samples. Once again, I had to sit out on the activity, but I made my own fun…

Worst cowboy faces ever!
Worst cowboy faces ever!

Everyone must have been feeling reeallllyyy good after their round of drinks because this photo session happened minutes later…

love

It was a really good first day of 2014!

gatlinburg

Cheers!

A Good Idea…Being Thankful

There is a great blog I follow, that I can often relate with, called Artful Anxiety. The girl who writes this blog recently wrote a post where she decided to write about 10 things she is thankful for as soon as she wakes up in the morning. She tried it, and it had a positive effect on her. I love this idea!

I used to be in the habit of “counting my blessings” before going to bed each night (a habit created partially from a religious upbringing and partially from one of my favorite movies White Christmas) . However, I have recently fallen out of this habit. This morning, I woke up before everyone, and decided to check my email while laying in bed. Lucky for me, Artful Anxiety wrote a new post about being thankful. Right then and there I decided to open up a new page on my laptop and start my own list.

Here it is…

1. My parents are here with me all weekend.

2. Fiance is snuggled next to me.

3. I have the cutest little dog.

4. I am (for the most part) healthy.

5. The wedding is EXACTLY 21 days away!!!!

6. Zoey lives a block and a half away.

7. I had a full night’s sleep. (First time this week)

8. The opportunity to write whatever I want, post it online for the world to see, and have other’s “like” it.

9. Air conditioner.

10. Coffee.

That’s it. That was the first ten things I thought of while laying in bed. Of course there our HUNDREDS of more things and people I am thankful for. In fact, here’s are some pics of several events I am thankful to have experienced with my parents yesterday!

Exploring the MET with my parents
More MET
A crazy organ in the music exhibit at the MET that we got to watch being played.
Time Square had a free Abu Dhabi exhibit where they let us try their local snacks, coffee, perfumes, henna tattoos, and even take pictures with live birds.
the perfumes
Mom and Dad at Grand Central Station
Having a little too much fun waiting for the train
At this point, one lady looked at us, and said “you obviously aren’t from here…”
St. Patricks Cathedral

Rockefeller Center
yummy appetizers at Max Brenner
And of course dessert at Max Brenner! That bald man makes some amazing chocolate goodness.

Their first full day in the city was definitely a success! I can’t wait for more adventures: SOHO, Brooklyn, Broadway, Chelsea… you will see us soon!

Cheers!

 

Mom and Dad

My parents are here! My parents are here! I am so excited that they’re really here! This is the first time that BOTH have them have come to visit me in two years. I have BIG plans to take NYC by storm. They are here until Monday, and I’ve made a full detailed itinerary for every second of each day. Hope they weren’t planning to relax!

They arrived the exact same time that Peter arrived from his bachelor party, so luckily they could all take a cab together from the airport. I was excited for Belle to see her grandparents, and excited for my Dad to finally see where I live, and excited to have an apartment full of people I love again. Dad was actually really “impressed” with the place…or at least pretended to be. (I’ve been heavily exaggerating the size and stability of the place to prepare them, so it was probably better than he expected.)

After settling in, we had a really nice Italian dine at Uva, a cute little place that reminds of Albanian restaurants right near our apartment. Then we had dessert at Fresh Fruit Co. (My favorite dessert place…it’s all Vegan ice cream! And, it’s fabulous and crazy delicious.) We always try to fatten up our guests from the moment they arrive.

We just talked and caught up on each other’s lives in our teeny apartment the rest of the night. I am so glad that both of my parents are here to spend time with me and Fiance (and Zoey!). It’s going to be a great weekend, I am even off of work Saturday AND Sunday (for the first time ever!) but I cannot promise I’ll keep up with my blog (especially since this one is already being posted a day late!).

So, if you do not here from me much this weekend, just know I am spending quality time with the family, and preparing to tell you all about it.

I have a feeling the phrase “You can take the parents out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the parents,” may come up.

Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

West Side Walk

Finally! Finally, we have more than one nice day here in Manhattan. Miraculously, these days are all falling consecutively on the weekend! Ever since October, sunny/warm days have been very sporadic. I think my mind, body, and soul has a hard time adjusting to this New York weather.

Up until now, the coldest place I’ve ever lived was Nashville, (which I personally think has the best of all four seasons). We had a really mild winter here, or at least that’s what everyone keeps telling me. Apparently, I got off easy for my first winter in NY. However ‘easy’ it has been, it has not gone away! I was wearing scarves, hats, and a coat last week. It’s just not right.

So, when Mr. Golden Sunshine decided to make an appearance this weekend, it was impossible to stay in and actually finish that dang ol’ seating chart I keep putting off. Plus, Fiance and Belle were both excitedly waiting for me to get home from work so they could go for a walk. They may not have to work, but I guess they are starting feel a little stir crazy after 6 months of winter.

Fiance had made big plans to take one of our walking tours.

A week after moving here, I found a book called 24 Great Walks in New York. I bought it immediately knowing that this would be a fun and inexpensive way to get to know our new home. We started using the book right away (which turned out to be a perfect combination of popular destinations and lesser-known interesting spots). We were getting a taste of cultural neighborhoods, historical homes, and famous hotspots all while learning how to get around Manhattan. We did about 5 of these walks before Fiance took a 3 month job in Nashville. Walks over. By the time he got back, the weather was cold, and I was already too comfortable with my life here to be excited about taking a walking tour.

Fast forward to sunny today, and we are both more than happy to talk a nice long walk.. Yup, sunshine aaannnddd double fisting coffee definitely makes you want to keep moving. Did I mention it’s half price frappacino week at Starbuck’s from 3-5pm?

We took our little dog with us and started our walk at Central Park.

We exited the park on the West Side and started our walk at Columbus Circle. From here, we walked north to the Lincoln Center. The Lincoln Center is America’s premier theatrical complex and is home to the New York City Ballet, City Opera, Philharmonic Symphony, and the American Ballet Theatre. It is so big and so beautiful. We took a break at the fountain in the middle of the complex and people watched for a little while.

We took a little stroll even further into the Lincoln Center and discovered that it also houses a couple more theaters were Broadway and off-broadway shows are held. There is a really nice infinity pool, sculpture, and, and a really odd elevated park area all meshed together in this small outdoor area. Behind the above ground park we could see the famous school of the arts, Juilliard, and some of their students playing and rehearsing in the grass.

The next stop on our tour was ABC studios, which happens to be located in a really old castle. True Story.

After walking around the long block of ABC studio’s building, we strolled over to Hotel des Artists which was the former home of several famous artists (Norman Rockwell, Charlie Chaplin, and Howard Chandler Christy …just to name a few). We read a few interesting facts about the artwork found inside the hotel’s cafe before continuing on down Columbus Avenue.

The Pythian Apartments were next, its history must have been boring  because all I remember is that it has lots of Egyptian symbols (lions and pharaohs) adorning the front of the building, and that the song “Rock Around the Clock” was written here.

There were a few more statues, parks, and historical buildings for the next half hour, until we ended our walk at The Ansonia. This apartment building opened in 1904, and offered the best amenities the West Side had to offer… telephone service, artificial refrigieration, maid service 3 times a day, and of course…live seals in the lobby fountain.

Three hours and three miles later, we were done, and Belle couldn’t walk one inch further. We took the bus home, made (re-heated) soup, and here we are. I hope everyone has a great sunny weekend and takes the time to enjoy it!

Cheers!