“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” - Jawaharal Nehru

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmastime In The City

Here are a few Christmas festivities Nick and I have had the last two weeks...

Last weekend we went to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn to see the crazy, all-out Christmas lights. This Italian neighborhood is always featured on HGTV, Travel Channel, and all the other TV shows showcasing the top towns for Christmas lights.

We took the long subway ride into Brooklyn. On the subway there we were reminded that it was Santa Con. Santa Con is where people dress up as Santa, elf's, reindeer's and basically get wasted the entire day at tons of bars. Not my kind of fun but there are a lot of people that participate. At one of our stops three girls and one guy got on our subway. It was obvious they had a long day of drinking. One girl in particular was finding it hard to stand on her own. She eventually slid down and sat down. Mind you... she was in an extremely short Santa skirt. You get the picture. She also proceeded to say how incredibly nauseous she was. That's the last thing Nick and I wanted to hear. If someone gets sick on the train it has to stop and you are pretty much stranded for a while. We didn't want that to happen. So, we crossed our fingers - luckily she did. But as she got off the train and stumbled up the stairs I wondered if she would make it to her apartment.

We made it into Brooklyn and walked a little under a mile into Dyker Heights. We stopped for some pizza at a local restaurant before making our way to the neighborhood. On our way we made a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for some hot chocolate and what else? Yep, donuts!

Dyker Heights goes all out for Christmas. This 4 block radius is just crazy with the lights, decorations, music, and anything else you can imagine. It was crowded too, but not so crowded that you couldn't enjoy it. Now, if we had been in a car then it would have been awful. Traffic was horrible. I definitely recommend walking through the neighborhood if you decide to go.

And now is a look at the crazy Christmas lights...

Nick and I had a really great time. It's one of those things that you have to do once. We made our way back to the subway to head home. We took the same line that we took to get to Dyker Heights. We waited and waited and waited... no subway train. I kept thinking what is taking so long. Eventually we see some people go back to the main area and then come back down and tell us that there is no train at this station. There has been some sort of blackout and we will have to take a bus to another stop. Really nice of the man who was sitting up there to come down and let us know so we didn't waste 20 minutes waiting on a train!

We made our way to the stop with tons of other people and then proceeded to watch the bus go by because it was already full. Nick and I started to think we would be stranded in Brooklyn. No point in standing in the cold only to wait for another bus to go by... we started walking! I think we walked about 30 blocks in the blistering cold and were finally able to find a subway stop that was functioning.

That hiccup added an extra hour home to our trip it was still worth it. It was just a little more colorful than expected!

Friday night was my office Christmas party. We had dinner reservations at The National at Lexington and 51st. The group was quite eclectic but it was really nice to have everyone outside the "office." People were really able to relax and it was a nice feeling. And the food was amazing! I had the pork chop with broccolini and cheese grits. It does not get any better than cheese grits. Amazing. And the pork chop was just as good. I seriously would go back to that place.... and that's saying a lot since we have thousands of restaurants in NYC.

Saturday night we went to Lincoln Center to see The Nutcracker. Nick and I decided not to do any Christmas presents for each other. We do that a lot... save the money for our trips we love to take. But I wanted to do something special for Christmas. So about 2 months ago I bought tickets for The Nutcracker. I haven't been since I was a child and Nick has never seen it (or he has and he has no memory of it). And what better way to see it than in Lincoln Center with the New York ballet.

We had dinner reservations at The Nook. It is on 9th Avenue and 51st street. Nick had found the restaurant and it had amazing online reviews. It's like this really cozy, hole in the wall place. We decided to take a cab to the restaurant. Big mistake... or the cab driver was a complete idiot. He tried to take us through Midtown... I mean literally right through Midtown (past 5th Ave, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Tree). Complete idiot. Of course traffic is going to be horrendous in that area with all the tourists! I was not happy. We eventually got out at 51st street and Madison and made the walk.

The Nook was absolutely amazing. It's a wonderful feeling when you can find a gem in the city. And this was a gem. The restaurant was really small. It had maybe 10 tables in it. The decor was beautiful and they had Christmas lights all around the restaurant. It was just so warm and inviting. I mean it couldn't get better... oh, but it did. You can bring your own wine which I love and the food was delicious! We started with the mushroom cigars (which I didn't think I would ever like but I loved them) and the tuna tartar. It was so good I completely forgot to take a picture! I ordered the filet mignon with rosemary fries and Nick ordered the cheeseburger with fries. It was one of the best meals we have had. Then came dessert! Of course I ordered the warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream and Nick had the peanut butter chocolate cake. To die for! Go to The Nook!!!

We made our way to Lincoln Center. We haven't really been there before now. We've walked passed and everything but at this time of year it is so beautifully decorated for Christmas. We snapped a few pictures and made our way inside. The building was gorgeous and inside the David H. Koch theater was breathtaking. It was a beautiful venue.

Outside Lincoln Center

They had these cute snowmen on the bars and I adored them! I want one too!

We had seats on the first balcony towards the left... couldn't have gotten better. The ballet was so wonderful. I mean The Nutcracker has a place in everyone's hearts. The dancers were exquisite... so graceful. Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. We even decided that we would have to look into more shows as well as New York Opera.

Sunday was a nice relaxing day, of course. I finished our Christmas cards and mailed them. A little late but it's okay. Read and watched some TV. Also, started thinking about getting everything ready for our flight back home to Dallas on Friday. I cannot even tell you how excited we are to be going home for the holidays! Bring on the family, friends, traditions, Mexican food, and everything good that goes along with being home.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Shopping

Christmas has officially begun in the city! Holiday music playing, tree in Rockefeller Center, Christmas lights, hot chocolate! Oh... and the thousands of tourists that inundate the city at this time of year.

This past Saturday I spent some time Christmas shopping while Nick was out with his bike. We had ordered a few things online during Cyber Monday but still needed a few items. On a side note - online shopping is so incredibly easy. I mean... search, click, and buy. Plus free shipping!

Obviously I can't tell you where I went because that would give away the presents I bought. I did enjoy walking along 5th avenue seeing the beautifully decorated store windows. I have to say Bergdorf Goodman knows how to do it. Their windows were absolutely beautiful!

I eventually made my way down to Rockefeller Center and saw the tree. It wasn't as exciting in the daytime. Plus this was the most crowded area. I could hardly walk... so I snapped a picture and got the hell out!

It was a lovely day of shopping and the best part I was able to finish my Christmas list! Now I can enjoy the presents under the tree before I have to ship them home!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Nick and I stayed in NYC for Thanksgiving this year. Our first holiday just the two of us. Kind of special.

We decided this was going to be the year we experienced Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Nick was on board until he realized he would be waking up at 5am. It took a little more convincing after that. The night before I made some yummy blueberry muffins and cut up some fruit for our snack bag.

I woke up about 4am. Yeah, it's been a while since I've been up that early. I have no plans to do it again anytime soon. I decided that I would be breaking out my thermal underwear to keep me warm! I think I got ready in record time. I cooked up some cinnamon rolls for breakfast and yelled at Nick every 5 minutes to get up and not make us late!

At 5:40 we were out the door. The city feels different that early in the morning. It was so very quiet. The breakfast food carts were just setting up, newspapers were being delivered, and we saw very little cars on the streets. Absolute peace in a hustle and bustle city. Not to mention the very few people we did pass on the street said hello and good morning. If you live in New York City you know that is not the norm.

We walked over to the West side and found a nice spot on Central Park South near Columbus Circle. It was 6am and it was already starting to get crowded. Even better... we found a front row spot. Perfect viewing! We ended up next to a family from Tennessee who were incredibly nice. So friendly and generous. It was 6am and we had another 3 hours to go! A few chats, snacks, and short naps later the parade started!

I really think everyone should experience the parade just once in their life. It's quite the experience. I mean... it not only puts you in the holiday spirit but it's just so much fun! You almost feel like a kid again. Well I did... not sure how Nick felt. He kept saying he expected the balloons to be bigger! Go figure!

What really surprised us was the street performers. They were so incredibly happy and just really kept up the energy. I don't think that is something you can really see or feel through a television. They made the parade a lot of fun. I can't tell you how many times I was hit with confetti!

The parade lasted about 3 hours... and it was 3 hours of fun! Enjoy the pictures...

Macy's Band

Turkey Day!

These men "faeries" were pretty funny

After the parade we came home for a quick shower and change and headed to North Square for our Thanksgiving meal. It was this really quaint restaurant right across from Washington Square Park. I had the traditional Thanksgiving meal... turkey, dressing, stuffing, etc. Nick had the un-traditional meal... lobster bisque, steak, and potatoes. It was delicious!

What did we do next? Only partake in another Thanksgiving tradition... well if you live in Texas. Thanksgiving Day = Dallas Cowboy's football game. We came home and snuggled on the couch and watched our team play. And they won! We relaxed the rest of the day and I am not ashamed to admit I was in bed quite early. Up at 4am makes for a long day!

I took Friday off so Nick and I had the day to play. We took it easy in the morning. A little Black Friday shopping. We headed to the Shops at Columbus Circle for some lunch. We ate on the top level at Bouchon Bakery. The view was absolutely beautiful. There was Christmas decorations in the background and a view that looked straight down Central Park South to 5th Avenue.

What a view!

Our delicious lunch

Next up... ice skating in Central Park. The line wasn't too long so I decided we should do it. It's another one of those things you have to check off. Ice skating during the holiday season! The weather could not have been better. Clear blue skies, crisp air, and the NYC skyline in the background.

A must New York experience!

Needless to say we had another very busy day and were quiet tired. We cooked dinner and watched a movie that night!

Saturday was a nice day of relaxation. Nick did a bike ride in the morning and I ran some errands. But most of the afternoon was spent on the couch. We had dinner reservations with our friends Pam and Matt at ABC Kitchen. Apparently reservations are hard to come by at this place. The restaurant was so nice and the food was absolutely mouth watering. Calamari, date pizza, salmon tartar, salmon, and sundae for desert! It was such a nice place I felt a little odd pulling out my camera. So you are just going to have to take my word for it.

What did Sunday hold? Yep, you guessed it... we kept with our Sunday tradition of doing absolutely nothing. I cooked some lunch and later made dinner. We watched some TV and read. It was a great end to our holiday weekend!

It's hard to believe Christmas is only a month away! The countdown to going home has begun!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Catch Up

It's been a little crazy! I haven't had any time to do blog posts. So I'm playing catch up with this post...

Thursday 11/10/11

It's time for mom and Alicia's visit! I can't even tell you how excited I was to have them come out. I hadn't seen mom since May.... way too long! She was supposed to arrive around 1pm. That didn't quite happen. It was more like 6pm. The city had some fog that morning which put a stop to any arriving flights into LGA. It made for a long day. But she made it!

We had dinner reservations at Balthazar at 6:30. We had to rush to make it there. I pretty much told the cab driver to drive as quick as he could. He then proceeded to tell us that he would not drive in any way that would get him a ticket, hit someone, or get in accident. Awesome. We get the one conservative cab driver in the city.

Dinner at Balthazar was really good. I think I had the BEST salmon EVER! I mean it was phenomenal. I seriously considered asking the waiter to get the recipe for me. Amazing! Everyone else had a great meal too.

Alicia was due in around 1am that night. Her train was an hour late so she didn't arrive until 2am. Let me tell you... that is the latest I have stayed up in years. This was Alicia's first time to the city and she was arriving into Penn Station. We offered to meet her there but she said she would grab a cab to the apartment. I was a little nervous... I mean I don't know if I would feel comfortable arriving to Penn station at 2am and then proceeded to navigate a city I knew nothing about. But she made it!

We chatted for a little bit and then settled in for the night... we had a very busy 3 days coming up!

Friday 11-11-11-11
We slept in a little on Friday. Nick had a NYU event he had to attend until noon so mom, Alicia, and me were on our own for a bit. We stopped by Starbucks for a little pick-me-up breakfast and then I showed them where I worked. It was nice for mom to get to see where I work... I practically call her everyday after work while I'm walking home. She now knows what I'm talking about.

Next we headed into Central Park. The park was absolutely beautiful. The colors were amazing! We walked around a bit and took quite a few different photos. It was just too pretty to pass up.

Look at that skyline!

Nick called and he was done with his event so we met up with him and headed to Luke's Lobster. Every visitor of ours is treated to Luke's Lobster. It's just so good!

We headed to Bryant Park next. They actually already had their holiday shops up. It put us in the holiday spirit... the shops, hot chocolate, ice skating. All that was missing was the big Christmas tree. It will be there soon enough. We walked around for a bit and then started to make our way back to the apartment with a few stops in between.

Ice skating rink at Bryant Park

Bite size cupcakes... yum!

No visit to NYC is complete without visiting Times Square! I realized why I never come to this area. People, people, people! You can hardly walk on the sidewalk without getting jabbed in the stomach. Not my idea of fun... but Alicia had to see it. There is nothing like seeing Times Square for the first time.

We made our way up to Rockefeller Center and saw the tree getting ready to be lit. It wasn't that pretty. Mom and Alicia thought it should be bigger... Nick and I were like, "It's huge!" Of course it will look different once all the lights are on.

I know, it doesn't look like much... but it will!

While we were hanging out at the ice rink we were treated to an unexpected event.... There was this couple that were skating on the rink by themselves. Everyone else was off the rink. We couldn't figure out why this couple was so special. They continued skating for a little bit and then stopped in the middle. The guy then proceed to get down on one knee and propose!!! How special is that. I'm glad she said yes to because there were a couple hundred people watching!

What a special moment!

We made our way back to the apartment to get ready for dinner at the Hurricane Club. One of my favorite restaurants in the city. Another must eat at restaurant for our visitors. Mom and Alicia loved it!

Saturday 11-12-11

Nick had some school work to do on Saturday so it was a girls day. We had brunch at Friend of a Farmer. Love this place. It reminds me of home... a great Southern, homey feel to it. And the food is great.

We caught the subway to Canal street. We were off to Chinatown and Little Italy. Touristy, yes. But a must for a first time visitor. We didn't spend a lot of time there ... just walked through, really. Mom and Alicia did buy some knockoff sunglasses and we were practically turning down women whispering, "Louie, Prada, Coach handbags" to us.

Streets of New York City

We made our way through SoHo and into Washington Square Park to show Alicia Nick's school. We took a little break in the park and watched some of the street performers. Oh, not only street performers but many protestors protesting whatever they wanted to protest.

Washington Square Park

After that we caught the subway to Herald Square. A trip to Macy's is a must. Boy, was it crowded. But not as crowded as it will be in the next few weeks. Alicia treated herself to a nice Coach handbag and even better it was on sale! You can't pass up a good sale!


Decorations inside Macy's

We headed home to get ready for our dinner reservations and our Broadway show, Wicked. We had dinner at Basso 56 down in the theater district. It wasn't my favorite Italian restaurant but not the worst either. All of us were really excited to see Wicked. Mom, Nick, and I had seen it when the show came to Dallas. It's just such a classic Broadway show that I thought it would be the best one for Alicia to see. And it did not disappoint. It was even better than I remember. Love that show!

Inside the Gershwin theater

Sunday 11-13-11

We grabbed breakfast at EJ's Luncheonette. Mom's favorite and one of mine too. Amazing french toast... which we all ordered! Nick had another meeting for about an hour so the girls headed to Bloomingdale's and H&M. Surprisingly, H&M did not have much success this time. Every time mom comes here we go there and she leaves with a few items. Not this time though.

Nick called and said he was done with his meeting so we decided to meet him at the beginning of the Brooklyn Bridge. Nick and I have only walked halfway and then turned around. We decided to go all the way and eat at Grimaldi's pizza. Apparently one of the best pizza places around. The walk was really nice...about 30 minutes in total. We got to Grimaldi's and the line was fairly long. We all took a bet on how long it would take... Nick won at 25 minutes! The pizza was very tasty. Probably in my top 3 of favorite pizza places in the city.

Alicia and Mom on the Brooklyn Bridge


We took a subway back into the city to Ground Zero. We had reserved tickets to see the memorial site. It was a somber feeling. The memorial was beautiful. It's really hard to believe it has been 10 years since that awful day. It makes you thankful for your life and the men and women who are serving to protect that life for you.


By this time all of us were exhausted. It had been a busy but awesome 3 days! I had an amazing time with mom and Alicia. I couldn't have asked for anything more!!!

Now the countdown begins for Christmas... a little over a month and we will be home!