when friends come to town

When friends come to town, you decided to check out all the restaurants and plays that you have had on your list for ages, but just haven’t gotten around to.  You walk all over Manhattan in search of nothing in particular, but just a means of catching up and seeing all the sights. This last weekend I had one of my good college friends, Alexis, fly out from California to spend some time soaking in the amazing east coast fall.  While she arrived in a storm (no literally, there were rainstorms and overcast skies for two days), the sun came out and we managed for two glorious days in the city.

Friday turned out to be surprisingly packed, so I had to scrap the leaving early on-time plan.  Since Alexis is always good at sampling different cuisine, I decided to take her to Jeepney, a Filipino joint in the East Village.  I had been there once before and really decided on it because they served Ube ice cream for dessert, which was one of Alexis’s favorite.

When we had arrived, the hostess said there was supposed to be a 90 minute wait for a table.  Since my hunger levels would have turned to hanger levels in that time frame, we opted for bar seating and may have had more fun in doing so.  There we could watch as the bartender whipped up drink after drink, topped with various orange peel and berry art.  I wasn’t in the mood to drink, but really should have at least asked about their virgin selection.  Those juice combinations would have tasted mighty fine.  Ah well, all the more reason to go back.

IMG_3466 ^^ One great thing about friends, especially good friends, is that they are generally open to ordering and splitting a couple different items.  This means sampling more of the cuisine at half the price and still leaving room for dessert.  Entree #1 Bicol Express {slow-roasted pork shoulder, coconut milk, sili, bagoong sauce, vigan longganisa, pickled chilies and baby bok choy} and a baby pot pie.  Double thumbs up for the bicol express with the savory sauce and tender meat.   I wasn’t as much of a fan of the pot pie or bao buns we sampled, but such is life.

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^^ The real reason we ate there.  Because it’s normal to center a meal around dessert.

On Saturday we slept in (try 9.5 hours of sleep!!! unheard of and evident that my body was still recovering from Monday’s red-eye), I went for a run, and then it was off to explore Manhattan.  I took her down to one of my favorite bagel shops (since Ess-A is no longer close by) Tompkin’s Square Bagels, where we drooled over the selection of sandwiches and spreads.

IMG_3471 ^^ Whole wheat everything w/ cream cheese + lox for her and whole wheat everything with blueberry cream cheese for me.  Deeeeelish and not to mention beyond filling.  Thank goodness we were banking on walking the rest of the day.

IMG_3470  No cookies were purchased on this venture, but it makes me smile when I see black-and-white cookies in every store.  Such a symbol of New York.  The rest of the day was honestly spent walking all around the city and if my FitBit were working and syncing properly with my phone, I would be able to tell you all the steps we took, miles we walked, and calories burned 😉

IMG_8191 IMG_8195 IMG_8201 ^^ Both of us agreed that the west village is where it is at, especially with the quaint looking brownstones and lovely fall leaves.  Alexis was just glad that she could wear a winter coat and dress up for cooler weather since cooler weather is rarely a thing in California.

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Who wants to even guess how much it would cost to live in one of these apartments?  Maybe my life savings?

IMG_8211^^ Since we had eaten our bagels around brunch time, we skipped out on a full lunch meal and decided to regroup, warm our hands, and charge my phone inside a Starbucks. This happened to be my FIRST red cup of the season (despite the changing temps, I have always gone for the good ‘ol iced cold brew) and don’t see what all the controversy is about.  Anyways, a new favorite combo >> skim peppermint mocha with only 2 pumps peppermint and make it extra hot 🙂

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Got to love me some Snoopy and Macy’s 🙂 Avoiding some of the chaos, we made our way through Herald Square (NOT my favorite place in town) and up to Bryant Park where the ice skating rink and holiday shops are already open for business.  Luckily for us we managed to take a picture right before the sun set, then continued to walk around and decide on a place for dinner.  Oh if we weren’t planning to go eat a full meal later, I would have taken to buying a snack or two from the vendors because the smells were so inviting.

IMG_8216 IMG_8217 ^^ I still don’t know what that delectable concoction is/was but I will make it my goal to get someone to go back to Bryant Park with me and split one before the holiday season is over.

IMG_8220^^ Not the best quality photo buuuuuut we ate ETHIOPIAN FOOD!  I have never been to an Ethiopian restaurant and was actually baffled at the selection on the menu.  I let Alexis do the deciding and we ended up with a meat combo and veggie combo, all atop this spongey pancake.  They don’t even provide utensils and the trick is to use the pancake in order to scoop up the toppings.

So.darn.tasty and I have to say, it’s pretty cool to explore the different cuisines in the city.  After all, that is something NYC is known for and I tend to stick to my Chipotle and Bareburger.  Once we had digested a bit more, we set off in search of the musical theatre by Lincoln Center.

IMG_8222Though this is a true classic, I had never seen it, not even the movie, so this was quite the treat!  We had picked up tickets at the TKTS booth by South Street (lower Manhattan) so the tickets were 50% off and right near the orchestra!  Originally we had tried to see “An American in Paris”, but all the Saturday tickets had been sold.  Anyways, who knew they had broadway productions outside of Times Square and at Lincoln Center?  (Don’t answer that.  That may have just been me…)

IMG_3472 Since we were watching the musical at Lincoln Center, we decided to drop by Magnolia’s to complete a day of eats with a little sweet banana pudding.  Because when in Rome New York, right? I probably should stop using that excuse since I live here and work right by a Magnolias.  Or not.

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.” – Khalil Gibran

Lilly Pulitzer Love and Chaos

Confession: I woke up early to attend the NYC’s opening of the Lilly Pulitzer Target line at Bryant Park. Ok, not super early, just my normal 6:20 alarm but still.  Woke up to stand in line.  Some people arrived at 5am.

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Confession: I waited in line for 75 minutes with tons of girls who looked oh “so New York/East Coast”.  Most of them were dolled up and some decked out in Lilly gear head to toe (as if that helped you move up in line…not).  You had pearls, Sperrys, designer sunglasses (at 7:30am), Tory Burch flats, and Louis V purses.  (guilty on the Sperrys but not guilty on the vast amount of makeup some had on).   I felt a little out of place.

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~ It was actually more fun to see some of the artists painting Lilly prints than standing in line waiting for the mad dash into the store. ~

Confession: I have a love/hate relationship with brands.  I love Lilly and Tory Burch and Kate Spade.  I love the bright colors and unique patterns, but so many are one of a kind outfits and I never really have the forethought or desire to put all of it together.  Let’s just say style has never been my “thing”.  Honestly, I tend to roll in with the “California casual” as my go-to style.  That or relying on the “I just worked out” look.  Hence why all my pictures lately seem to be me running around (literally).

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Confession: We didn’t actually make it into the Lilly store.  By the time we would have crossed the threshold, it would have been 9am and about 30 minutes past the time I should be at my desk.  Rumor was that items were flying off the shelves and being snatched out of the assistant’s hands.  I have a strong feeling that people will be ready and armed with their credit cards on Sunday morning, grabbing every single item  and immediately re-selling them online for a profit.

IMG_9312Realization: the other side of Bryant Park is where the fun is really at.  They had/have (from 8am-6pm) a huge area filled with hammocks, chairs to relax in, free manicures with Lilly Pulitzer-Essie polish, and a free juice bar.  What we really should have done was just arrive to soak up that experience and leave the shopping to another time (or to people who don’t seem to have work and can stand in line all day).  But still glad I stopped by because only in New York.

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Confession: This dress is still on my mind.  Fingers crossed my mom is or I am able to find one at a Target and that it actually fits.  Rumor is that the sizing is a bit out of whack, but that’s what you get for cheaper material and cheaper prices.  First world problems.

Are you a Lilly Pulitzer fan?  Did you (would you?) brave the masses for Bryant Park?

September Life of Late

Day in, day out and here we are with another work week complete.  I’m currently off to explore Washington D.C. with my grandma and possibly run into some of my buddies along the way.  Sure, there’s way too much to accomplish in only three days, so I already have hopes of traveling out a couple more times.  Between friends studying abroad and friends out of town and oh this little thing called November Project – D.C. chapter.

So, while I’m exploring, here’s some more recaps of late summer and early fall in the beautiful New York City.

IMG_5861Waking up for a sunrise and a bit of teamwork with the local November Project chapter. Possibly one of my favorite photos taken by the DC chapter’s CanofSpaghetti.  Check out his epic snapshots of their tribe members working out across the city.

IMG_5868More work perks.  One of the campaigns that I run is the advertising for Redd’s Apple Ale on Funny Or Die.  Their mega campaign is currently surrounding the Oddball Comedy Festival and we had the opportunity to attend the kickoff show out in New Jersey.  Sarah Silverman and Louis C.K. were definitely a couple of my favorites!

Eataly with AshfordsWho can pass up Italian food?  I usually am not one to gravitate towards pasta and pizza but oh yes please.  Their dough and cheese combination is to die for.

IMG_5936Yoga in Bryant Park

IMG_5888Brunching at the Bluebell Cafe ~ Noteworthy Brioche French Toast with Berry Compote and Lemon Curd ($10)

Bluebell Cafe
293 Third Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets)  •  New York, NY 10010
*Like any popular brunch spot, it’s best to arrive early and with all your party members 🙂

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Checking out the Yankees and watching Jeter play in his last season.  Although the people-watching was almost as good (if not better) than the game itself. Yankees were tanking…

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My boss happened to be giving away a pair of tickets for a random weeknight game.  Who could pass up free field-level tickets??

IMG_5802Back to my running days around Central Park.  It’s one of my favorite places in the city and I sure am at my happiest when I’m all healthy and running around with that view.  For the time, New York has stolen my heart.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

NYC Summer Discoveries Part 1

When you live in a city, it’s not uncommon to wander the streets and stumble across shops and eateries you have never heard of.  Of course there are also places you seek out just because everyone else is talking about them.   I’ve made it my goal to merge my identity as a tourist with becoming a full-fledged NYC local.  Let’s give it a whirl.

~ Summer 2014 ~

Happy Bones
394 Broome St, New York, NY 10013
Mon – Fri / 7:30am – 7pm. Sat – Sun / 8am – 7pm

Happy Bones

Certainly worth the splurge for a strong latte (iced latte in the warmer months).  Since I did indeed visit on a summer morning, it was not ideal temperature to order a Flat White.  I’ll just have to make my way back when the leaves start to change.

IMG_5683A walk through Central Park.  This could be done all day every day.  You have the SE corner by the Fairmont Plaza and the Central Park Zoo, a corner that is inhabited by countless tourists.  The farther you edge into the park is where all the action and beauty really is at. From the Boathouse to the Alice in Wonderland Statue and every trail, baseball field, and playground in between.

The Highline
Around 23rd and 10th Avenue
~ Walking ~ Running ~ Eating ~ People Watching ~ Relaxing ~

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My friend Laura and I usually hit this spot around 7am when there is practically no one around.  I actually prefer the peace and quiet of the place during this time over the hustle and bustle of tourists.  Not only is it quiet, but it’s quite difficult to run when there are that many people around.  However, the benefit to arriving later in the day is that there are pop-up eateries such as Blue Bottle Coffee and People’s Pop’s.

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Once finished with your shaved ice or gourmet fresh fruit popsicle, head out to the west side highway and walk along the Hudson.  There’s one pier, closer to Battery Park, that offers a free half hour of kayaking in the Hudson!

IMG_5717 On a warm afternoon, this is the perfect place to run, walk, bike, and even sunbathe. (Can you tell I’m really into the running and walking?) There are patches of grass to sit on, tennis courts to use, jungle gyms, and even a golf driving range.

IMG_5715Within an hour we have seen the Freedom Tower and dropped into the 9/11 Memorial to pay our respects.   This must have been the 3rd or 4th time since I have seen the memorials and I still am in awe every time.  This time however, the surrounding barriers had been lowered and we were able to enter the grounds without the long lines or obtaining tickets ahead of time.  I have yet to see the museum itself, but need a solid 3-4 hours to do so.

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Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

Ready for a snack or maybe even dinner?  Momofuku Noodle Bar is one of my favorite touristy places in the East Village.  I’ve bounced between the momofuku ramen {pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg} and chilled spicy noodles {sichuan sausage, spinach, cashews}.  No joke, you better be ready for your mouth to light on fire.

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Take a walk or subway ride up to Bryant Park for some Thursday night yoga, a movie in the park on Monday, or simply a casual game with your friends.

IMG_5730The game section is located on the south end of the park (closer to Le Pain) and they have pretty much every childhood game you could imagine!  We found ourselves thoroughly entertained by Scattergories for almost 2 hours!

By then, it is probably late afternoon or early evening.  If you are interested in gelato, check out the Talenti pop-up shop at Bryant Park.  However, for a more authentic New York experience, take a trip back down to SOHO and check out Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

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It’s almost like a mini-trip down memory lane (if I lived during the time of soda shops and creameries).  I’ll certainly have to invest in a large sundae, maybe even the “Good Morning Vietnam” in honor of the wonderful Robin Williams.  But really, the name of a product is often the most crucial selling point (right behind the ingredients) and they seem to have it all figured out.

With that, it’s time for bed or another walk about town to check out the night life 🙂

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” ― Tom Wolfe

Coffee Talks

If we were going out to grab a cup of jo, I would have oh so much to say.  Of course I would be an excellent listener as well and you would have my full attention for as long as you need to chat, vent, reason, etc.  We might be there for hours, but here with go with edition #1

Let’s chat about The Bachelorette – First, I’m impressed by how much the men analyze their surroundings and situation. Sure, we women are usually known for being the queens of “reading into cues” or just jumping to conclusions.  Boy do those men win the prize of reading into the date cards, body language, and more.

Second, it’s great to know guys get just as nervous about dates and first impressions as gals do.  Just saying, putting yourself out there can be tough!

Third, I laugh every time someone says they are looking for true love on that show.  Um, you know you are dating someone who has 25 other prospects and you have to watch them interact 1×1?  Yeah, good luck with that.

The fact they filmed in Santa Barbara got me yearning to go back and visit.  Love the biking, hiking, and walking through waves.

Let’s chat about my kitchen experiments – This weekend’s attempt to make horchata (slight fail? It might be salvaged with some cold brew coffee) and first go-around with coffee ice cubes after seeing my friend’s success on her blog Sweet & Salty.

Let’s chat about running injuriesRunning Winging a half marathon with some heel pain may not have been my brightest moment.  It’s turned into heel spur, which leaves me limping around.  Likely causes:

  • Running too often or running on hard surfaces such as concrete (Welcome to NYC)
  • Tight calf muscles (I’m terrible at remembering to stretch!)
  • Shoes with poor shock absorption (My work flats probably don’t help)

Now it’s time for the Internet’s tips on recovery –> ice, rest (ugh), stretching, and maybe a massage?

Let’s chat about the upcoming Blend Retreat – Nervous and excited seem to round up my emotions.  Nervous that my heel, which has been acting up (heel spur possibly?) will not be 100% and impair some activities.  Nervous to remember so many names (I may not have done the best of research and blog stalking…good thing there’s still a few days to go).  Excited to make some new friends! Excited to be outdoors and exploring a new area of the country.

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Let’s chat about Bryant Park’s list of summertime activities – From movies in the park to dancing lessons, from yoga to musical chairs – they have it all!

What would you tell me on our coffee date?