NYC in a Nutshell

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Our quick trip to the Big Apple was so full of plans and adventures that we are still recovering a week later. (Quite literally, thanks to catching some nasty colds.) As you know, we attended Comic Con, but before, after and in between the convention we hung out with friends, visited Zoey, ate some NY staples and showed Luna around our former stomping grounds.

The first night was a late one for us, and after flying and a full day of Comic Con-ing, we ordered in from our favorite Indian restaurant. Holy crap, how I miss that place and REALLY miss having dinner delivered! I forgot how easy and wonderful it is to have meals delivered and no dishes to wash.

The next day I had a bit more free time and got to join some of my best friends and their baby for a long walk though Central Park and a shopping trip through FAO Schwartz. We just had to spoil our babies with something from the iconic toy store. We didn’t stop walking there either… We finished up at Time Square and perhaps bought another special gift at the Disney store.

We saw not one, but SEVEN raccoons playing together at Central Park.
We saw not one, but SEVEN raccoons playing together at Central Park.

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Saturday, we took the babies to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and let them okay and explore for a couple of hours. They loved the hands-on exhibits and play areas, but the daddy’s had the most fun.

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Sunday, we spent all day in Brooklyn with Aunt Zoey!!! Zoey allowed us to relax in her new fancy pants apartment and bask on the even fancier rooftop. She showed us around her favorite Brooklyn hotspots (which consisted of the waterfront, ice cream and Artists and Fleas). And, we even made an appearance at the wrap party for the latest show she wardrobed (A Crime to Remember).

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Our last day in the city was the slowest and most nostalgic. After coffee with my former coworkers, whom I miss all the time,  Husband, Luna and myself spent the day doing our favorite things: shopping down 5th and Madison, eating chocolate at Vosges, drinking Starbucks, getting sandwiches at Lenny’s, window shopping in Bergdorfs and soaking up everything NY has to offer before hopping on a plane back to Nashville.

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It was a really great trip. Luna was an awesome little trooper. Her favorite part of the city was how it lulled her to sleep all day…

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I may just have to invest in a “noises of the city” CD to play her at night. Time to start planning our next adventure.

Cheers!

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Ice at Opryland!

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Alright, alright, it’s that time of year. That super busy time when it’s so hard to get everything done, and right now I am lacking in the writing and sharing area. Tonight, though, I finally have some time to share a review of our trip to Ice at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville! The very nice people who work for Gaylord were kind enough to have come and check out their show that we just love so much.

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Years ago, when we first lived in the Nashville area we went to “Ice!” every year. The Opryland Hotel always puts up an amazing exhibit of Christmas themed scenes all made of ice. This year’s theme is Frosty the Snowman (awesome…one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies). They used over 2 million pounds of ice to create the very colorful and very large scenes! It took over 40 talented artisans from Harbin, China to create the show. It’s very impressive.

Look at Frosty go!
Look at Frosty go!

The master ice carvers actually travel all the way to Tennessee to create their sculptures. They work in 12 hour shifts in the 9-degree freezers to get the job done! The sculptures are then set-up and put together in large rooms for all of us to tour, but these rooms are also kept at 9 degrees. The guests are provided with long hooded warm parkas, but I’d say it is still VERY necessary to dress warm. I had a gloves, close-toed shoes and a scarf and still felt chilly.

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The scenes from Frosty were just adorable. The characters were flawless and dialogue from the movie played as you walked from room to room. Even before entering the exhibit we were entertained. The que was lined with big screens TV to entertain us while waiting. We were then ushered into a large room that gave the played a short film on the history of “Ice!” and ended with “snow” falling on us.

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wait room

snow!

Besides the cute characters and scenes there is also 4 large slides made of ice to enjoy, but beware: lines are long. There are also tons of opportunities for cute photos around all the ice scenes.

slides train

When Frosty’s story ends there is a bonus NYC room this year! Because we are cheesy and sentimental we were especially excited about this section. We are really missing New York this time of year, and all of its holiday glitter and fun. It was nice to walk around a fake New York made of ice. It had all the iconic Christmas in New York attractions…Rockefeller Center’s ice skating rink and giant tree, Broadway, Time Square, 5th Avenue and the Statue of Liberty.

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Can you find Husband on the big screen in "time square"?
Can you find Husband on the big screen in “time square”?

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The final room in “Ice!” is the traditional and always beautiful Nativity made of ice. This room uses all clear glass (no color) and is always the grand finale.

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Afterwards, we defrosted and let our hands regain feeling in the guest shop right outside of “Ice!”. They sell a bazillion souvenirs, hot chocolate, kettle corn and what-not. This year, there was also a special Gingy room. Gingy is a character from Shrek and they had an entire gingerbread house set up where kids can get their photo taken with Gingy, buy a stuffed Gingy and pay to create an entire Gingerbread house. It looked like fun…maybe when Luna is here and a toddler we can actually try this part out!

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If you are interested in seeing Frosty and his friends all carved from ice then head over to Opryland by January 1st!  Check their site for prices and times here.

Cheers!

Hands on a Hardbody

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Last Friday, Husband and I had the pleasure of seeing and reviewing a new original broadway show, Hands on a Hard BodyI was especially curious about this new musical because it is not only set in Texas (Longview to be exact), but is also based on true events. It is based on a 1997 documentary of the same title. Here’s the lowdown…. a car dealership in Longview, TX used to host an annual competition for people to win a new truck, aka hardbody. Each contestant had to keep at least one hand on the truck, and whoever lasted the longest without leaning on the truck or squatting, won the brand new truck!

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What a unique idea for a Broadway musical, right?! Going in I was a little nervous that the characters would be gross exaggerations of people from Texas. The characters turned out to be right on the money. I felt like I was sitting in 110 degree Texas sun on the black asphalt watching a group of hearty dream chasers do their best to win their new ride. The only thing I needed was a foldable lawn chair and a cooler full of beverages. I was right at home.

The characters/contestants were full of southern charm, but were each on a very different journey. There was one character who was a grumpy old sourpuss and put every single person down every chance he got. There was an older man trying to prove he was still capable of great feats. A young Hispanic boy who needed to sell the truck to help pay for his tuition at Texas A&M. A girl who needed the truck to become independent from her parents and make something of herself. A mother who needed to take her kids to school and her Husband to work. One very religious woman who believed this was God’s answer to her prayers, and a few more lovable, and just as worthy, characters.

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The character I related to most was a young girl who sang about leaving her small town life and seeing the world. Even though she loves Texas, she dreams about what life is like beyond its borders. Winning this truck will give her the transportation she needs to hit the road and begin her adventures. I had this same yearning my whole childhood. I love where I grew up, but God, all I ever wanted was to travel and see all the mysterious places I read about constantly.

Husband and I had mixed feelings about the music. It was good, but some were a little too hokey. One song, “Joy of the Lord”, was PHENOMENAL. One of the best songs I have seen on Broadway. I have looked all over the Internet to find a video for you with no luck. So, take my word for it, this number was amazing.It was like being in a gospel choir, STOMP and a Broadway show all mixed together.  Another song, “If I had this truck” explained just how necessary it is for a Texan to own a truck…which is true, very very true. I’ve never seen as many trucks on the road than when I’m in Texas.

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This best part of the show was the story. I loved seeing ten people from all different walks of life being forced together for days and days. These people were forced to get to know one another, share and hear each other’s stories. Getting to know people different from yourself is a powerful learning experience. It teaches compassion and gives us a chance to walk in another human’s shoes for a bit. I left the show with a reminder to stop judging other’s too quickly. Sure, that guy next to me on the Subway was a complete jerk, but it’s possible he just had the worst day of his life, and maybe what he really needs is some compassion. I should remember to show more love to the grumps of the world.

I also left the show without my favorite black lace scarf. I realized about 45 minutes later, and luckily we were still in Time Square. We ran back to the theater to find the doors locked and lights off. We tried the stage door too. As we were pulling on the locked door it flew open. A tall man who obviously worked there and was on his way out looked at us like we were crazy, so we quickly explained why were tugging on the stage door. The worker told us he was the last person in the building and we were lucky we caught him. He allowed us to walk backstage, and out into the audience where I found my scarf lying across my seat.

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I enjoyed our date night with a taste of my old southern life. The vivid and realistic characters made the show for me. It was a version of the American Dream that we all relate to and a reminder that this dream is still alive and valid even today.

*If you want to purchase tickets to Hands on a Hardbody just click here.

**Sadly it was just announced that Hands on a Hardbody is closing THIS SATURDAY, April 13th. I’m shocked! So, if you want to see it, you better hurry!

Cheers!

P.S. During the show, one of the girls talks about how Matthew McConaughey is from Longview, and how he was voted “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine in 2005. She then mentions that the car dealership keeps a framed copy of this magazine in the lady’s room. Look what I found in the lady’s room at the theatre during intermission….

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My 15 Minutes of Japanese Fame

I got an email a few days ago from Fuji TV asking to meet and interview me. They are doing a segment on their morning show Mezamashi TV (it’s Japan’s equivalent to Good Morning America — my favorite morning show) on hadoken-ing. They found my recent hadoken photos on my Facebook, and contacted me. *If you don’t know what hadoken-ing then you must click here.

In case you are wondering Fuji TV is the largest commercial broadcasting company in Japan. They are also the producers of Iron Chef. They have a base here in NYC and their director flew in to interview us! We got up early this morning (my least favorite thing to do on Sundays) and met the crew in Time Square.

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We did the beginning of the interview in Time Square and all of it in Japanese. The director would ask us questions like “What is hadoken?” and “When did the trend begin in the U.S?”. Then, the translator would translate and we would answer the director in English. After several questions we headed back into the subway station to re-create the photos we took with Sara last week.

This is one of our original photos with Sara.

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And, here is one of the recreated photos from the News shoot.

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We continued the interview in the station. I taught the director how to do the pictures (not that it is hard), and we had to take many breaks as the train and dozens of people trampled by us.

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We also tried a new move…looks powerful…and painful.

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The crew was super friendly and so appreciative of our willingness to hangout with them all morning. We had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to becoming a celebrity in Japan. So, Fuji TV, feel free to fly me out to Tokyo at anytime to meet all my adoring fans…I’m ready.

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They’ll send me the segment after it airs, and if I don’t look and sound like an idiot then I will be happy to share it with you.

After our hard work I treated Husband to a hearty breakfast at the smallest little diner/dive in our neighborhood that we have somehow never tried.

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Mmmm I love Sunday brunch. Husband is now in Tennessee to finish up the house stuff and Belle and I are left to fend for ourselves for a couple of weeks. I plan on learning to cook one dish during this time. Just one, I’m a realist.

Cheers and Sayonara!

What is that on your phone? (Giveaway!)

I have heard this question several times a day since I received my Olloclip: What is that on your phone?

3in1 olloclip

The Olloclip is the coolest phone invention ever! It slides over the corner of your phone (the corner where the camera is) and has 3 new lens options. There is a fish-eye lens that gives this effect…

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It gives a 180 degree field-of-view and looks amazing. Then, if you turn the Ottoclip around there is a wide-angle lens which provides pictures like this…

 

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It gives double the field-of-view you would get with just your iPhone. Now, if you just unscrew the wide-angle lens it becomes a macro lens!

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The macro lens applies a 10X multiplier and focuses within 12-15mm of the subject. Pretty nifty, right?

It is teeny tiny, fits in your pocket and comes with a little microfiber bag that doubles as a lens cleaner. I keep the Olloclip on my phone 95% of the time.

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Now, I have GREAT news! Olloclip has given me an extra one to use as a giveaway! Woohoo party!

To win your very own red and black Olloclip (for iPhones only…sorry!) just follow these oh-so simple steps:

1. Follow my blog.

2. Follow my Facebook page.

3. Leave a comment below telling me what you want to take photos of with your new lens!

I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, April 16th! Best of luck to you all!

Cheers!

It’s Been a While

Since my last post A LOT has happened…I came back to NYC, an amazing friend has stayed with us the last 4 days, we had a spontaneous trip to D.C., got “kidnapped”, and so much more. I hated to miss writing to you, but between running from city to city and figuring out some major life choices I just couldn’t do it. I am thrilled to be back tonight, and plan on sharing all my crazy adventures, secrets and hosting a few giveaways in the next couple of weeks!

But first, meet my very fun friend Sara.

Strolling the High Line.
Strolling the High Line.

Sara and I met while working together in Albania. She taught first grade, I taught second grade and we both kept each other from going insane while working for some not-so-nice people at a brand new international school. I cannot even begin to describe the wild and crazy times we had while living in the Balkans… there were road trips to Croatia, ski trips in Kosovo, hitch-hiking across the borders, late night dance parties, costume making, party planning and top-secret bunker painting adventures.

It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen her and I couldn’t have been more excited to have her stay with us the past weekend. It’s been a while since she’s been to NYC so we wanted to give her the grand tour.

We went to Time Square at 1am and found it to be virtually empty. I guess tourists go to bed early on Easter Sunday.

Time Sqaure
Time Square

We spent hours exploring Central Park, which has yet to bloom. Belle was desperately trying to be included in every photo.

Central Park
Central Park

If you are ever in the city and want to see the Statue of Liberty, but avoid spending $25, then take the FREE Staten Island Ferry. You get a great view of the Manhattan skyline and of Lady Liberty.

Staten Island Ferry
a Staten Island Ferry

We have habit of taking all of our guest on the top of a hotel roof to get a view of the city. This is probably (definitely) not allowed in most hotels, but it’s just so darn easy!

Illegal roof-top gazing
Illegal roof-top gazing

We shopped, ate and drank WAY too much this weekend, but how often do you get to live it up with your friends from Albania in New York?! Besides, Sara did all the shopping, I just got to live vicariously through her purchases.

FAO Schwarz shopping
FAO Schwarz shopping

The weather has yet to improve here, but we toughed out the wind, rain, and cold weather every single day.

Sight-seeing in the rain while looking like Russian babushka's.
Sight-seeing in the rain while looking like Russian babushka’s.

Even though we haven’t seen each other in years we didn’t skip a beat. We even managed a road trip to see another Albanian-friend in D.C. during her short stay! That story will have to wait for another day. Looking forward to getting back in touch with all of you!

Cheers!

My Weekend Through Photos

We have had one busy weekend! My in-laws, some friends of the family, and some very close friends have all been in visiting since Thursday. We had dinner reservations every night, tickets to three different shows, many museum outings and lots of sight-seeing. Even sick ol’ me managed to hangout and spend time with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite cities. The only thing I missed was writing to you guys!

It’s midnight now, and I am finally feeling a bit better and excited to get up and go to work tomorrow so I’m going to make tonight’s post a photo post! Here’s the story of my weekend in phone pics!

Saw Matilda on Broadway and LOVED it!
Saw Matilda on Broadway and LOVED it!
Visited Alexander Hamilton's "country home" in Harlem.
Visited Alexander Hamilton’s “country home” in Harlem.
Saw Cirque Du Solieil "Totem".
Saw Cirque Du Solieil “Totem”.
Snuck onto the roof of Le Parker Meridian to get a great view of the city.
Snuck onto the roof of Le Parker Meridian to get a great view of the city.
Time Square
Time Square
View of Time Square from the Marriot Bar
View of Time Square from the Marriott Bar
Obviously enjoying the famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.
Obviously enjoying the famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.
Taking the tram to Roosevelt Island.
Taking the tram to Roosevelt Island.
A nice walk on a very cold day.
A nice walk on a very cold day.
Happy Hour at Duke's!
Happy Hour at Duke’s!
Snow, snow and more snow...
Snow, snow and more snow…
Kinky Boots! Hilarious!
Kinky Boots! Hilarious!

Now, we have 3 more awesome friends visiting us all week. Looking forward to a fabulous time and lots of adventures to share!

Cheers!