September 29, 2010

(Mis)Adventures in NYC Part 2

Yesterday I promised pictures from the weekend of misadventure; today I will deliver. 

I never like to see tons of pictures of people I don't know from a trip I didn't take, so I will TRY to keep it to a minimum in case any of my readers are as cantankerous as I in this regard. 

Now, keep in mind that ALL of these photographs that I or my friend are pictured in were taken while we were still having fun during, like, the first 6 hours after our arrival - hence the bright and hopeful smiles. 


The accommodations...

The Mansfield Hotel
Our room was clean and well appointed, but TINY. 



I've never seen such an itty bitty pedestal sink!  So cute!

Us...

 A pretty door on the side of an old church, 5th Ave

 Megan at Tiffany's - "that one right there!"

 LOVED this brick and that awesome sign in the background! 

In Central Park

 In Central Park (notice the cords and layers - yeah, it was like 87 degrees and humid as hell)

Met up for breakfast with an old friend living in the city... Shout out to Andrew!  It was great to catch up with you!

There were street performers everywhere we went...


This guy was playing the percussion, Stomp style

This dude had a creepy humpty dumpty puppet

 And this was a jazz band in Washington Square Park beside NYU

I wonder how many crustaceans we drank?  Click here to find out exactly what I mean by that.



My favorite things about New York City? The architecture, the history, the living, breathing ART that's all around you...

A faaabulous vine-covered building on the Upper East Side



The Metropolitan Museum of Art





Almost every single thing is PURE MARBLE in The New York Public Library on 5th and 42nd.  It will take your breath away.

This is how New York dogs roll...

Yes, it is peeing right in the middle of the sidewalk.  I watched it toddle out of the door in the background and pop a squat post haste, as if it does this every single day of its life.  Poor dear has maybe never seen grass.

Ahh, the open air markets...




 


And last but not least, The Magnolia Bakery cupcakes...


How divine.

J

September 28, 2010

(Mis)Adventures in NYC - Part 1

***DISCLAIMER: If you are reading my blog for the first time, feel free to skip this post as it is uncharacteristically whiny and seriously lacking in material of any real value.  Unless you're planning a trip to New York soon, in which case you should definitely read it and take notes on what NOT to do.***

I know you're all just dying to hear about my fabulous trip to New York, but to be quite honest, I am almost at a loss for words to describe the disaster that was this weekend.  I thought about writing this post in the form of a Tuesday Ten list titled "Ten Reasons Why You Should NOT Be Envious Of My Weekend In New York" but, in actuality, I could only come up with nine reasons and, even though I make the rules on this here blog, a list of nine is seriously so not feng shui.  And we cannot have that, now can we.  

But really?  This picture pretty much sums up the entire weekend:


The trip started out OK, but things went from bad to worse fairly quickly.  First of all, the weather kind of totally and completely sucked and my dreams of wasting away hours in a breezy Central-Park-in-Autumn quickly gave way to the reality of a New York I had never experienced: a hot and humid city that read 85 on a thermometer but felt more like 95 in the breezeless corridors between skyscrapers and 100 in the Subway tunnels beneath the city. And speaking of the Subway, some of the train lines were closed for repairs, causing tourists like ourselves that little extra bit of anxiety to throw into the mix.  Awesome. 

On another note, many of us may think of THIS when New York City comes to mind:

For my less cultured readers, that's Carrie from Sex & the City 
Now mind you, this was actually my FIFTH trip to New York, but somehow I always seem to forget the pain and fall under the spell of my illusions that involve looking cute in stylish clothes and shoes while walking BLOCK UPON BLOCK UPON BLOCK of merciless concrete.  The picture above, my dears, does not reflect reality.  If you want to look cute like Carrie while vacationing in New York, plan on hiring a personal chauffeur or you WILL be in ridiculous amounts of pain for the duration of your stay following the first several blocks of walking in said "cute" shoes.  The blisters are also very unattractive. 

Basically, just find the ugliest but most comfortable pair of shoes you can find, and they'll probably be just perfect.  Trust me on this one.

So now you may be thinking, OK, big deal. The weather wasn't the greatest, the subway system was on the fritz, and you brought the wrong shoes - shut up, you were in New York. 

I might think the same thing if I were you, but let me just tell you a little bit about myself before we go on.  I am a bit of a control freak - I like to know what's going to happen to me well before it happens; I print out Map Quest directions to supplement my GPS; I carry an enormous purse because who knows when I might need a mace gun or a notebook or a camera or an assortment of over-the-counter meds.   And I truly DID study maps of Manhattan before leaving on this trip because it would be my first experience in New York without a big strong man and his so-called "man compass" to lead me anywhere I'd like to go. 

But nothing prepares you for the streets of New York when you are as directionally challenged as I am, and this time?  There was no one to think it's cute and funny that I can't read a map to save my life.  My friend was actually considerably more competent than I was, but I still constantly felt lost and out of control and just plain stupid for not "getting it."  This paired with the fact that I am female and fast approaching "that time of the month" produced a less than desirable combination of factors.  And the icing on the cake?  Monday morning I wake up to THIS text from my husband (gray bubble is him, green is me):




That's right. Remember the first crisp day I mentioned in my list of favorite things about fall?  I missed it.  It was pouring rain and humid in NYC while back home they were throwing open windows and relishing a dry, cool, and cloudless 58 degrees. 

I never thought I'd say this, but I am SO glad to be back home in Texas.

Pictures to come tomorrow! 

J

September 23, 2010

I Really Shouldn't Be Writing This

I really don't have time to be writing this, nor will this likely be a very coherent post (sorry). Why?  Well, dearies, my mind is all a-swirl with happy thoughts and plans and panicky anticipation of the weekend to come - a weekend in which two directionally challenged (which might be the world's greatest understatement) girls will set out - alone - for a weekend in New York GLORIOUS City. 

I will be breaking out in a stress rash any moment now. 

So if you're the praying type, please send up a little request that:

1. We don't get lost and end up in a dark alley where lurks much evil and purse-snatchers

2. That we are able to exercise self-control and not spend a year's worth of income

3. That we will not gain 20 pounds worth of everything bagels and New York pizza

4. (and most importantly) That my home and dog-children will be intact upon my return as this is the first time my husband has been left to his own devices since our marriage.   

I will try not to bore you with many jealousy-inducing details about the trip, but I WILL be bringing my laptop so I imagine that there will be a braggy New York post or two.  I should at least post a few pictures of us as we bask in the sunlight and cool 70 degrees of Central Park in autumn. 

Hate me yet?   I would too. 

For your viewing pleasure, below is a picture I took in Central Park on one of my last visits, and I thought it looked cool and artsy (which was completely an accident).   



I promise to return refreshed and ready to produce many more blog posts that will be of more value to you than this one; have a fabulous weekend!!!

J

September 21, 2010

List of Ten Tuesday

Ladies and gentleman, I would like to introduce LIST OF TEN TUESDAYS!!!  (Shout out to Bryce for giving me my inspiration!)  FYI, there's really no rhyme or reason to List of Ten Tuesday - in fact, I reserve the right to write a List of Ten on ANY day of the week, or include more or less than ten items in any given list!  And ALSO, if I have other, more pressing matters to write about on a particular Tuesday, I may then choose to exercise my right to DO WHATEVER I WANT CAUSE THIS IS MY BLOG!!!!  ;)

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the first in what could be a very long line of fabulous Tuesday Tens!


Ten Twelve Things to be Super-Psyched About This Fall
(in no particular order)
(because ten just wasn't enough)
(and by the way, did you know tomorrow [Wednesday] is the first day of Fall? You do now!)


1.  The First Crisp Day
Forgive me for beginning with the obvious.
Us Texans haven't really experienced this one yet, but believe you me, when we do, we ALL bust out the scarves and sweaters.
It's actually quite pathetic.


2.On that note, Hats and Boots and Scarves
(Oh my!)

I'm aware that this picture sucks, but it's the only one I have where I'm wearing a hat, boots, AND a scarf.

 
3. Hot Apple Cider

Totally my fave thing about Fall - I kid you not.



To make some really amaaazing cider, fill a crock pot or another large pot with store-bought cider, then add a whole, large orange stuck with 5 or 6 whole cloves. Throw in a few cinnamon sticks and then let it simmer (covered) a couple hours; before long, a g-l-o-r-i-o-u-s aroma will fill your entire home.

Set some cider on before a party and all your guests will be salivating as soon as they walk through your front door!!!


4. Cuddling
Because isn't cuddling SO much more pleasurable when it's cold outside?

My moods are easily influenced by my body temperature, and consequently my husband and I don't do a whole lot of cuddling during the summer months. He grudgingly calls me a "little furnace" and always reminds me of how much he looks forward to fall when body heat from cuddling doesn't turn me into a complete crank!

PS: We DO have AC, but the bill would be about $2000 a month if we kept it as cold as I'd like!

5.   Seeing Stuff Like THIS At Grocery Stores:


Good gourd! (Sorry, I couldn't resist)
  

6.  Fall Baking/Cooking
Another obvious one, but hello?  YUM!




7.  The Turning of the Leaves
Again, no way has this has happened in Texas yet (and when it does, it sure doesn't compare to the northeast).  But we can dream.

This was in New Joisey


8. Bubble Baths
Because just when you thought a bubble bath simply could not be improved upon, here comes a chilly autumn day...
 slipping into that hot, sudsy water could NOT be more divine!

Say no more.


9. Fall Scents at Bath & Body Works
Does this really need much expanding upon? I think not.
But Click here to find out how I really feel about Bath & Body Works!


10. Soup
Because somehow, delicious soups and chilis just don't have the same appeal when it's 103 degrees outside.  A few of my favorites?
Plain old Campbell's Tomato Soup (with fresh or dried Basil added), chili like the first one listed here (sub or add whatever you'd like; that's the beauty of chili, you can do whatever you want!), or Potato Soup like the one pictured below (from Cooking Light magazine).



11. Family Get-togethers
If your family is anything like mine, you're sprinkled all over the continent and tend to only see each other once or twice a year around the holidays.
Another fabulous thing about fall is getting to catch up with those loved ones you don't always get to see!!

12. Finally, and this one is most obvious,
Starbucks Holiday Drinks

No caption necessary.


Hope this list gave you something to get excited about!  Can you think of anything I missed??  Leave me a comment with your own ideas (or just tell me how awesome mine are).  Have a great Tuesday and a have a happy first day of fall tomorrow!!!

J

September 19, 2010

(Some Of) The Best Things in Life Really ARE Things

Matthew and I have the following framed quote above the entrance to our master bathroom... but I must say, I don't entirely agree with message:


Now before you get all judgy, allow me to explain myself.  I understand the sentiment behind this saying, and I suppose to an extent I agree.  The point behind it is that non-physical things like love and life and health and family and togetherness are better than anything money can buy. BUT, in the past days and months since Matthew and I were married, we have received some pretty AMAZING, thoughtful wedding gifts that totally challenge the accuracy of the little adage above.  The following three gifts, though they may fall into the category of physical "things," were created with so much thoughtfulness, creativity, talent, and love, that they become representative of so much more.

And just for a quick disclaimer here: Matthew and I TRULY appreciated each and every one of our wedding gifts, all of which we love and most of which we use every single day.  But the gifts pictured below are the few that transcend being just a useful kitchen gadget or houseware item, and fit more into the category of something to simply be treasured.

1. Quilt that Matthew's mother, Chris, made for us 

She sewed this message into the fabric.

Some of the pieces have this beautiful, faint reminder: "love is...."


During the week when I first met Matthew's mom (after he and I were already engaged), she took me to a fabric store and I picked out all the colors and patterns that I might like to see in our quilt.  This makes it that much more special to me, since I had a part in creating this fabulous work of ART!

Notice the heart-shaped stitching incorporated here and there throughout the quilt.  If you know a thing or two about quilting, you may already be aware that part of the art in a quilt is in the stitching itself! How beautiful.

I just adore all the little hearts and dainty flowers in this lovely, aqua colored fabric.  I remember picking the two fabrics in this picture, but I never imagined how fabulous it would look once everything was complete!

I picked these fabrics as well... more of all my very favorite color combinations!

Love the hearts and flowers and polka-dots!!!

Here we were after receiving the quilt at our rehearsal luncheon... all smiles. :)
A big thank you to mom Chris for all the hard work and love that went into making this fabulous quilt!  No doubt this will be a family heirloom!

2. Scrapbook from Jennifer, one of Matthew's sisters

Matthew and I just received this gift a few days ago, and it was actually what inspired me to write this post.  Jennifer is a hardworking, single mom and wasn't able to make it to our wedding.  However, she's been working on this scrapbook for our wedding gift, and it came in a package with  a loving letter and a CD to listen to while looking at the album.  We were so touched by her thoughtfulness, and yes, tears were shed!

She used pictures from our engagement and bridal photo sessions, as well as from the wedding.

She also must have been in cahoots with the moms to get these childhood pics of us! How clever!



Some of these photos she got from our Facebook pages... SMART! And how GREAT is she at this scrapbooking stuff?!  I'm impressed!




I am just in awe of all of the hard work and creativity and love that went into making this scrapbook.  We will cherish it always!  Thank you Jennifer!!!

3. "Jenni's Cookbook" made by Monnie, one of Matthew's aunts

Last but certainly not least, pictured is another gift into which was poured so much TIME, creativity, thoughtfulness, and love. 

Monnie wrote me a long letter and also included notecards with extra notes and helpful tips.

She created each page on her computer and included fun, colorful graphics! She even added a few of her own typed recipes in every category!

Love the pictures on every page!


How thoughtful to include this section!!


So much work and thought went into this.
 
There are even extra pockets in back, and I've already started filling them with articles I've torn out of cooking magazines!  :)

Monnie, thank you for being so thoughtful and kind, and for knowing just what a newly married young cook would need!  I will treasure this always!

And those, my dear readers, are the best of the best when it comes to "things."  I know that time and life don't always allow us to give these sorts of gifts often, but by golly, if we have the opportunity to, we sure should take it.  We miss so many chances to make someone feel truly special and loved enough to get a gift that really says "you are worth this much to me."

Hope you were as inspired as I am by these beautiful THINGS. :)

J

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