Monthly Archives: November 2011

New York City: Day 2

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We started Day 2 with a delicious breakfast at a diner in the Meatpacking District called Hectors.  (Look at me using the proper neighbourhood names!). While most of the buildings are now shops/lofts/studios we did walk by a place where some actual meatpacking was going on. Or else those gentlemen wearing long white coats with dubious stains in the front were up to some shenanigans!

While the food at Hectors was your standard bacon and eggs the most amazing thing happened while we were eating: someone ordered breakfast to go and the waitress put the coffee in a paper bag.  This is something that I’ve wondered about for years!  In TV and movies when ever someone “brings coffee” to their ladyfriend after a night of  sweet, sweet..um…wholesome conversation and tickle fights…they proceed to open up a paper bag and take out to-go cups of coffee out of it.  It’s perplexed me for ages.  Were people actually bagging their coffee? Didn’t it spill everywhere? Seeing the waitress actually put the coffee and muffin into the bag and give it to the worker who probably had just clocked out from his night from working next door was about as New York as I was going to experience.  I proclaimed to Nick that this was the best city in the world and I was having a fantastic time!

We walked off our breakfast by going through the High Line.  This was an old rail system that they converted to an elevated walking park.  Since you’re above the streets it makes for a very pleasant and picturesque trail.  I guess it’s quite a long trail but we only walked a little bit because we wanted to hit Chelsea and the Donut Plant.

The Donut Plant is right next to the Chelsea Hotel: no big deal! (it’s was a super fun deal to me!).  

While Nick was adventurous and got the seasonal donuts: chestnut and cranberry. I went more traditions: vanilla bean and coconut.  All four donuts were tasty and we enjoyed them with a Stumptown coffee in the lobby of the Ace Hotel.

Moments like these just made my trip.  Eating things I had been reading about for years while enjoying them in grand New York style.  The Ace Hotel is posh and comfortable and the lobby is a great way to sit and relax, meet and chat with friends. 

Through my Dad we arranged lunch plans to meet his highschool friend on Broadway and 39th street and lo and behold on the way there we passed by Macy’s and the holiday window displays were out!  It’s hard not to feel Christmassy when there is magical music playing, sparkly ornaments spinning and flying around and kids pointing and smiling at what they see. 

Ann, Nick and I at her office. She was a delight!

We met Ann at her work and she was so welcoming to both of us even though it was our first time meeting.  After asking if we liked spicy food (yes). She took us to Szechuan Gourment.  We ordered Ma Paul tofu, chilli chicken and green beans with garlic mince.  Delicious!

Then we took a spin through Bryant Park where I was squealing inside because I love Project Runway (note: I don’t know if that’s actually where anything happens, but they sure talk about Bryant Park all the time).

Next stop was Momofuku Milk Bar.  One of the main reasons I wanted to come to New York!  I asked Nick not to judge me before I went in because I wasn’t sure how I was going to react.  He smiled reassuringly in the way only your greatest friends can do which said, I know you’re crazy and I love you for it and if you pee your pants I promise I will never tell a soul.  I carefully selected a Corn Cookie, Compost Cookie, the Marshmallow Cornflake cookie and….

CRACK PIE

My precious

Oh yeah – and a fabulous Milk Bag tote which might trumph my Marc Jacobs bag (just a few months)

The crack pie is a bit like tarte au sucre only served in a buttery oatmeal cookie crust.  You would be crazy to try to eat such a large serving as the one above in one sitting and it actually took me a few days to finish.  The Corn Cookie was like a butter cookie but with delicious corn undertones and probably cornmeal.  The other two cookies I saved for my husband  who graciously shared them with me (both were yummy!).

Wait, did I tell you we enjoyed these treats in Central Park?

And did you know that Central Park has a little zoo?

With sea lions!

And this thing!

And Little Red Pandas!!!!!!

To wake me out of my sugar induced coma we walked from Central Park to Grand Central Station.  Nick thought it was something that I should see and I reckoned that it was something he wanted to see again.  So we walked in that direction with an occasional window shopping break.

Grand Central Station is pretty impressive.  It is chokerblock full of people going off in many different directions.

My feet had had almost enough by this point and when Nick scouted a bar we sat down for a drink.

So let me sum up my feelings at this point.  I was sitting in Grand Central Station having a vodka gimlet with one bag full of donuts and the other bag full of cookies.  Life was good.

But it was about to get even better:

We had dinner at Shake Shack

It’s not just a burger stand.  It’s like a burger mecca.

…and you can get beers and eat your dinner in the park!  I’m sorry – I have to say it once: I LOVE NEW YORK!

I had the double cheese burger, fries and the Brooklyn Ale.   The meat was juicy and the bun soft and buttery.   Nick didn’t think the fries were anything special, but I’m a girl, fries are always special.  It was worth the many blocks we walked.  I may have teared up a little.

That evening we decided to find some nightlife.  While browsing what was near our hotel we came across the BEST YELP REVIEW EVER for a place called Marie’s Crisis. (hint: the second one down).  Marie’s Crisis is a gay piano bar that plays only showtunes and Disney songs.  It was a lot of fun! People were belting out tunes at the top of their lungs and everyone was laughing and cheering. We stayed long enough to recognize a few songs and then headed back out to enjoy some more window shopping along Bleecker St, or Greenwich St, or Hudson St…not sure where we were actually.  

Day 2 was another successful day in proving that NYC is a great city and around every corner there is something interesting, pretty, cool or tasty.

Day 3:  Tribecca! Century 21! MOMA! And more!

NYC Day 1

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New York City: Day 1

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I’ve broken down my New York trip into a few parts for easier reading (and writing).  Here’s day 1!

Over the last year my friend, Nick, has encouraged me to visit New York City.  He said I wold love it. I was skepitcal because I had seen many shows depicting NYC to be sort of dangerous, gross, busy and uninviting. But he convinced me it was otherwise and we were on a plane to JFK early morning, November 17, 2011.

We arrived in New York around 7:30 and slowly made our way  to our hotel via the train.  Taking the train is very easy, cheap and only costs $5 and takes about an hour. But when you go during rush hour be prepared to be OVERWHELMED WITH PEOPLE.  

We stayed at The Jane (113 Jane Street). A very cute boutique hotel where the rooms are like train berths and the bellhops wear those bellhops uniforms and caps! Our rooms were ready when we checked in which, if you’ve traveled anywhere, will always make your day.  

My little berth for a few nights. Just a bed, TV, and a place to throw all my things.

The other half of the room. Despite it's small size there was loads of storage space. But I did have to stand in the hall to get this shot.

Complementary water (the bottle was NOT free)

We ate breakfast in the hotel at Café Gitane.

 

Nick had the Avocado Toast which I was a little jealous of.  Until I tasted the Bruschetta on Foccacia I ordered.  Loads of tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinagerette, olives and capers.  It was fresh, herby, salty and I yes, I actually ate and enjoyed the olives.  Don’t tell my husband!  I loved how the little sugar cubes were wrapped individually.

Unbeknownst to me, our first destination was Tiffany’s.  And even further unbeknownst to me was that Nick had devised a plan to get croissants and eat them in front of the window a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It was a dream come true and I was completely timid and in culture shock.  However, 10 minutes later I was walking down 5th avenue with my blue Tiffany’s bag in my hand.  Trip = MADE!

Here I am feeling both overwhelmed and excited with my cheeks full of croissant.

This began the first of many long marches across Manhattan.  We walked all the way up to the Flat Iron building. 37 blocks.  It took a few hours and we made some detours like Bergdorf Goodmans, The Apple Store, Rockerfeller Centre, the NBC Experience, Empire State Building.  Around every corner I looked I was seeing scenes from TV and movies!  Everything was everywhere!

This was the holiday display in Bergdorf Men’s.

Even minotaurs love Christmas!

Our goal was Shake Shack at Madison Square Park but by the time we had walked 40 blocks and twenty of those was in the rain eating outside in the rain  just didn’t seem very attractive. But it just so happens that across the street is Mario Batali’s Gourmet Italian Grocery/Restaurant, Eataly.  This place is amazing.  It’s full of everything good that you want to eat: bread, cheese, fruit, pasta, wine, desserts, cheese – wait did I say cheese already?  There are a lot of restaurants to choose from but we went for familiarity: La Pizza & La Pasta. We both got the house specials because they came with a glass of moretti bionda.  After walking 10 miles we needed a drink.

With a full belly we were ready to get back to shopping and perused the shelves of every kind of dried pasta imaginable, sauces, pantry items, kitchen gadgets, liquors. When we left I totally held the door for Peter MacNicol!  It was my first (and maybe only) celebrity sighting.  

Dinner that night was at Cafe Habana on Prince Street in NOLITA.  I don’t know why I didn’t take a photo but I can assure you that it was probably the most fantastic meal I had had in a while.  Fish tacos with a spicy slaw, rice, beans and a smokey salsa.  Perfection.  But what you also need to do when you come here is have an order of corn.  Corn? Yes corn.   Grilled corn (which I suspect from its hammy undertones is boiled in hot ham water) slathered in a mayo/butter mixture, sprinkled with chili powder, lime and a dried salty cheese.  It is very very very good.

After Cafe Habana we detoured to Baby Cakes for a take home dessert.

Red velvet and carrot spice cup cakes. Vegan and delicious!

With 10 miles under our belts and a belly full of tacos and cupcakes I declared our first day in New York a success!  

Day 2: High Line! Donut Plant! Szechuan food! Macy’s!! Piano bars and more!


Weekend Roundup

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This weekend I learned a few things

1.  Remembrance Day is for honouring the fallen and kicking hippies out of muddy tent shantytowns.

Our Mayor and City Council gave final eviction notice to the OccupyNS folks in Victoria Park. On Remembrance Day.  The same folks who left Parade Square after a month so that the Cenotaph service could go on without any disruptions.  Needless to say it left a bad taste in many mouths.  I would like the city and the Occupy movement to come to a reconciliation so that they can protest and so I don’t have to hear about them every 10 seconds.  Oh yeah – shame on the mayor

2.   In car maintenance, a left tire rod should not be placed on a right tire rod.

And when it happens the car makes a crunching, grinding, scraping noise and the wheel seizes up. I learned this because it is the sound our car made coming back from the mechanic.  It’s going back tomorrow.

3.  I play a nerdy video game with an excellent community of players

4.  SPOILER ALERT: Harold and Kumar are only in Guantanamo Bay for like, 10 minutes.

And here I’ve been thinking all this time that it was going to be a movie about torture, war criminals, water boarding and the hilarious hi-jinx that ensue.  I watched it on Netflix while decorating for Christmas…

5.  It is not too early to decorate for Christmas.

I can prove this because there is a decorated tree in the corner of our apartment.   It’s super sparkly – and now so is the entire living room.   My husband is super happy about that!

And here I am at another Sunday night – but meals are done for tomorrow and the laundry is folded so I’m feeling good about that.

Only three days until NYC!  Getting very excited!

The Girl Who… [embarrassment filter]

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Two weeks ago I decided to join a gym that opened up around the corner.  It’s a boxing-based circuit that you do in a half hour.  It’s pretty fun, quick and a great way to get some intense exercise into my routine.  Because when you eat buttered donuts constantly like I do, being active is pretty vital.

On my first morning there the trainer(s) took me through it step by step.  They were (are) fantastic, really positive and helped me get reacquainted with things like my abs and my flabby flab arms.  It was a struggle to make it through the training as I haven’t been to the gym regularly for well over a year.  At the end of the half hour I was pumped! I signed up for a year and I picked out my boxing gloves.  I was going to be a freaking boxer!

Then something strange happened. Things were going fuzzy, there were lights where there shouldn’t be lights and I was sweating over my sweating…

…And that’s when I barfed in the gym.  Right in front of the trainers that I told flat-out that I was okay to do some rigorous exercise, that I didn’t have any illness and that I was generally in good health. It was during my second heave that I thought to myself, I need to get out of here as fast as possible! But I was so mortified I could do nothing but stand there and apologize and hope that eventually the floor would open up, swallow me whole and erase my existence from these two kind folks’ memories.

The owners could not have been nicer or more comforting to me.  Once things were cleared away and I had given as many apologies as I could I scampered away as fast as I could.  As soon as I got home I did two things:

1.  Make a promise to myself to get to that gym every day. I might be the girl who did that embarrassing thing that one time but I also want to be that super badass girl who can throw some fierce punches; and

2. Order them flowers to say “Thank you for being so nice”.

Two weeks later and my right hooks are pretty killer.  Ain’t no one gonna mess with the girl who barfed now!

Sunday Night Pains

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Sunday nights, for me, are the worst nights of the bunch. Mondays and Tuesdays are okay because it means those days are over. Wednesdays and Thursday are great TV nights and Friday and Saturdays? Well, regardless of your social calendar or lack thereof, they are still weekend nights and are enjoyable, particularly when the next morning means you don’t have to rush in the morning.

But Sundays.

Ugh. Sundays.  As a kid I would dread each and every Sunday afternoon because it mean Sunday night was coming.  Going to school, trying to be prepared and generally over-thinking how terrible the up coming week was going to be.  It’s odd when I look back and tell people I really didn’t mind school and was a happy person (I still am!). But on those Sunday evenings I would be teary and dreadful to be around.  My mother called them “Sunday Night Pains” but what I think she meant was that I was a pain in her behind.

In high school/university we would call it Sunday Night Angst.

I still find Sunday nights to be awful.  I don’t know why. I love my job – look forward to going in and helping my bosses every single day. I have a short and easy commute and other than a little stress here and there, things are splendid.

I just feel that between the hours of 7-9 PM I must PREPARE FOR THE WEEK.  Right now, the dishes are cleared, the dishwasher running, a pot of oatmeal for breakfast is bubbling and laundry is waiting to be folded.  I do all these things out of love for my husband and our marriage and to keep me from thinking about the fact that it’s Sunday night and another weekend is over.

Plus the time changed and now it’s dark early which makes me sad.

On a lighter note, next to the laundry basket is a bag of Halloween candy. Sometimes these chores need a bit of sweetness.

Another bit of preparation for the week that I’ve done is plan out the week’s dinners.  It’s just so much easier to come home to your kitchen when you have a plan of attack in mind.  Just because I like writing about food, here it is:

Monday: Roast chicken and potatoes, Greek salad

Tuesday: Slow cooker chili

Wednesday: Baked haddock, rice and salad

Thursday:  Chili garlic pork tenderloin, roast sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli

Friday: What ever that container of stuff in the freezer is (I think it’s beef stroganoff but *crosses fingers*) served over mashed potatoes.

Here’s to a great week ahead! Next week I’m going to NYC and I’m getting pretty excited/nervous!

Today I Look Like a Girl!

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Breakfast: Toast with butter and peanut butter. Because together they are magical and my mother isn’t around to purse her lips together and say, “there’s already “butter” in peanut butter”.

It’s a lovely Fall morning made even lovelier by a tunic dress, tights, pink pearls and pointed black Mary Janes.  Seriously – sometimes I feel bad looking so adorable. #modesty.

Also? I managed to apply two very thin and very neat lines over my eyelids. Eye makeup (makeup in general) is not my strong suit but lately I’ve been feeling like I should look a little more professional and less like my own age.  The only problem is that all my makeup: eye shadow, lip stick, gloss, mascara, powders, shellacs – they are all filled with sparkles.   So as much as I try to be an adult, I cannot get away from glitter. And really, why would I want to?

Last night I went to the gym and sweated it out.  I wish I could have a proper 80’s montage of me boxing down street, my knuckles raw and bleeding from the punching bag and me, in leotards and sweat bands and then suddenly I would be thin!  But in the meantime I’ll just be the gal flailing her arms and legs in all directions while her tummy shows in unfortunate ways.

After the gym I made a gorgeous beef stroganoff with lovely mushrooms, shallots, chicken stock, wine and sour cream. It was dead easy and I’ll share with you later! (the recipe, not my leftovers).

Wednesday is a very good TV night: Modern Family, Happy Endings and South Park.  If you aren’t watching Modern Family, why???? But maybe you haven’t given Happy Endings a try. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s a very good ensemble cast (with Eliza Cuthbert being the weakest link), full of fun pop culture and general wackiness.

Okay all I’ve done today is eat toast, write a blog entry and made a lunch date, time for actual work!