Holidays in the City

Unless you find yourself amidst the holiday markets in Europe, there’s no better place to be during Christmas time than New York City.  From the countless trees decked with lights to the window displays along Fifth Avenue to the ice rinks found around the city.  Hey, most of the time we even have the crisp air that allows you to bundle nice and warm, because who isn’t about that boots and scarf look?

Having lived here now through four Christmas seasons, I do agree that the Big Apple does it best – it’s been a treat to wear jeans, sweaters, and scarfs on a regular basis but I also have been fortunate to go home for a sunny and 70F Christmas morning.  I have made it my goal to experience as much Christmas cheer as possible and have a list of things that you certainly should check out one or many years down the road.

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Life of Late ~ 12.16.16

Ho ho ho, the holidays are in full throttle with less than 1 week to go until Christmas Day. I must be losing it because I originally published this as the 15th not 16th.  That has been updated. Well, I personally like the build up to the actual day of Christmas best but that’s just because when Christmas is over, we enter this dreary season of January and February chill.  Anyways, both Christmas and  Hanukkah happen fall around the same time period, which means celebrations at the same time for most people in the city!  Our apartment is all decked out with a baby tree, stockings, Hershey’s candy, and pine-scented candles (though my mother does not approve). 😉  Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on in NYC this week.

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A Very Cali-Christmas

When you expect the weather to be warmer than the northeast…but it’s not…you still have a good time because come on, it’s CALIFORNIA!  This last week has been filled with running outside along the palm trees, some working from home (because traffic sucks and isn’t worth wasting valuable work time), and lots and lots of family time.  I’ve missed my buddies at NP_NYC but have since made a few out here in Los Angeles, which makes things a little more enjoyable.

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^^ With a few hours of sleep after my flight home, I made it out to Baldwin Hills for one of the traveling Friday workouts.  Though it sounds crazy to drive 40 minutes (sans traffic) for a workout, I somehow feel more accomplished having made one or two more friends.

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^^ It’s also pretty funny that they call me “New York” and some of my friends back east like to call me “Cali”.  Oh, and no, we aren’t choking one another, it’s the Star Wars grip…ok it still looks strange.

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^^ Thanks NP_LAX for a sweet Christmas Eve Eve workout (candy cane consumption optional but highly encouraged) 😉

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^^ Working out at a coffee shop in Santa Monica meant dealing with 60 minutes of traffic and ultimately treating myself to a good acai bowl and iced coffee.  So hipster, I know 😉

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As mentioned, family time has been plentiful with a trip down to Laguna to see Dad’s side of the family (hooligans below) and a trip up north to see Mom’s side.

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^^ Giving TFred (aka Dad aka the photographer) a hard time and making funny faces. This may have been best of the bunch.  Christmas Eve was filled with songs (most of which were sung off pitch), chit-chat and and so much good food.

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^^ Found these gems around the house.  Aren’t we adorable?  What happened? 😉

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^^ Doesn’t that just scream old-school beach? The VW van, palm trees (and other trees) a plenty and sand and surf just around the corner.

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IMG_4228 ^^ Couldn’t help myself.  If there wasn’t a picture, it didn’t happen, right?  Of course my timing with the full moon wasn’t exactly planned right and I managed to make it around town and to the water just in time for high tide.

For once in my life I haven’t made any concrete plans for the week ahead.  But, between workouts and family lunches, golf and a couple movies, I’m sure I won’t be too bored.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!

Sharing a Bit of Christmas Cheer

What a bright time, it’s the right time to rock the night away and write a little survey.  Inspired by Hayley’s blog post last week and filled with all the holiday cheer that comes at this time of year.

Christmas Survey

Eggnog or hot chocolate? – Hot chocolate all the way.  I tested out eggnog on Saturday (along with some smog not) and it just wasn’t my jam.

Multi-color tree lights or white? – White is quite nice because it carries a calming aesthetic but since we’ve grown up with the multi-colored lights, I have to go with tradition.  Obviously.

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Do you hang mistletoe? – No, no, no.

When do you decorate for Christmas? – We try to get our tree the second or so weekend in December, just so that it lasts the entire season and doesn’t dry out.  As for decorations, they usually go up after Thanksgiving – depending on when we have time – or rather when my mom has time since my sister and I haven’t been living at home for the past few years.

 What is your favorite holiday dish? – Hmmm. Popovers? They are rare but delish.  Or peppermint bark.  I’m a new fan of the Holiday Flat White but that’s a commercialized dish.

Favorite holiday memory? – I love walking around Manhattan and seeing all the street lights, store windows, and decorated trees.  A new one is the NYC NP_Carols where we dress up and gallivant around the city singing carols (and even making the NYC Snapchat story)

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What’s on your Christmas wish list? – I would really like an updated phone, especially since it’s my lifeline, my camera, my planner, etc.  Although, I’m not too picky.  Just time to relax and workout with the fam and no drama.

Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve? – Since we spend the afternoon and evening with my dad’s side of the family, we generally exchange a gift or two or open PJ’s from the Christmas Elves.

How do you decorate your tree? – This is my very first personal tree! I have a tradition of collecting ornaments on every trip that I go on or every year that I live in a new place.  For the past three years I have picked out a turquoise glazed ornament from the Union Square Christmas Market – each one depicting one of my favorite places around town.  So far I have Flatiron District, the East River Path, and the Williamsburg Bridge/One Tower.

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Snow: love it or hate it? – Just for a little bit 🙂 I’m more of the sunny and 70 on Christmas morning kind of gal.  What can I say? I grew up in Southern California.

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^^ More of the Christmas Eve view but you get the idea.  Hard life living in Southern California 😉  Remind me why I’m living in New York?

Real or fake tree? – Real!  We pick our tree out from the local YMCA lot every year.  This is probably more work than it needs to be since my mom spends most days worrying if it has enough water but we love doing it and it helps out the YMCA.  This year my mom surprised my sister and I with our own little fake tree from Crate & Barrel so that we could decorate it with our own ornaments and take it with us when we move.

Favorite Christmas movie? – Christmas with the Kranks or White Christmas. I have never been one to re-watch TV shows or movies but boy those two can play on repeat and I would never grow tired of them.  Also, Tim Allen is simply the man.  So darn funny.  I could also see my dad pulling a move like that, so it makes it even more hilarious.

Favorite holiday tradition? – Our traditions or schedule has been relatively unchanged over the years >> driving down to Laguna Beach on Christmas Eve to spend time with my dad’s side of the family, spend Christmas morning with a jog (usually Meghan and I roaming the streets), and then driving up to Santa Barbara to spend Christmas night with my mom’s side of the family.

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^^ Lately we have been playing games on Christmas Eve and with a family of athletes and competitive individuals, it’s a hoot!

Favorite Christmas carol? – Mele Kalikimaka.  Because in my heart I live in Hawai’i.

Christmas morning tradition? – As mentioned above, my sister and I usually wake up and head off for a jaunt about town.  Something about working out in the morning, especially when the town is completely quiet makes the day special. Before setting out, we prep homemade cinnamon rolls and let it sit and rise.  Once back, we shower and usually jump back into pajamas, sit around the tree and open presents and eat our way through the cinnamon rolls.

IMG_7704_1024 ^^ Not a selfie around town but workout partners in crime.  We used to runt together on Christmas morning but our speeds have changed greatly so it might end up being a solo jaunt. 

Do you write Christmas cards? – I guess you could say we send them as a family and I often take charge of the writing the family letter.  There were a few years that my sister and I would send silly cards out simply because my dad wouldn’t let us take those goofy pictures.  We might pick up the tradition again if we live together down the road, but for now, it’s a family affair.

What are some of your favorite traditions??

Life of Late ~ Secret Santa Blogger Goodies

One of the best parts about being a blogger is access to yet another wonderful community of people.  So many started with just a little wordpress site and while I’m still over here plugging along, many of my new “blends” have cultivated a phenomenal website and following.  Hearing their tips and tricks about link-ups and photography and recipes has been quite the fun and always nice to rub elbows with some knowledgeable folks, right?  I’ve been one of those silent followers on our group messages, just reading and soaking in all the advice, waiting for the right moment to jump in.

Well, thanks to Georgie over at In it for The Long Run and Christina at The Blissful Balance, many of us have been able to read one another’s blogs, make some new friends, and this year, send a little holiday cheer to one another across the country.  Many of us decided to hop on board the Healthy Living Bloggers train for a Secret Santa gift exchange.  Names were drawn and emails distributed and it was off to the races.

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I happened to be the recipient of a goodie package from Priya at Marsala Girl Travels.  I am always open to trying new things and the box included some of the most interesting products for me to sample.

IMG_8305^^ Whole food love all around.  I’m a huge fan of trail mix and loved checking out a new variety, especially with all those vibrant colors and nuts and seeds.

IMG_8307 ^^ An adorable little box from India AND papadum from an Indian store.  I’m so excited to pop this in the microwave and test it out 🙂

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^^ All three happen to be finds that I’ve spotted at the local Trader Joe’s but never indulged in.  I’m especially curious to see how TJ’s has paired the usual saltiness of edamame and the bitter deliciousness of dark chocolate.

As for the lucky blogger I got to send to, I received Kerri at Kerri’s Kitchen and sent here a cute little planner because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love to journal and write all their to-do lists down?  At least we bloggers do 😉

Have you participated in foodie or gift exchanges? What’s your favorite item from Trader Joe’s?

Fifth Avenue’s Holiday Glitz and Glamour

The next four or so weeks are bound to be the busiest time of year for the city of Manhattan.  There are lights adorning every street and garlands galore.  The Rockefeller tree has been decorated and lit and you can battle your way for a skating spot at either the Bryant Park bazar or 30 Rock rink.  My friend Lindsay and I adore all the glitz and glamour as much as the next and felt like taking our own little tour of all the festive decorations along 5th Avenue and throughout Manhattan.

IMG_8245We took the subway up to 59th and started inside of Bloomingdales, winding upstairs and through the various booths, out and down the street until we reached  out to Central Park and past the Plaza Hotel (Fairmont) and onto 5th avenue.

IMG_8249 IMG_8251IMG_8253 Can you believe the vast amount of people on the street?  It was quite the scene to move from one window to the next, but well worth the view.

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IMG_8258 ^^ From Tiffany to Harry, Manhattan has your diamond needs covered.  I love that each of these stores decks out their window displays with seasonal stories, bedazzled mannequins, and so much sparkly garland.

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^^ Smiling but just about ready to be out of the Rockefeller zoo.

While I certainly love my city, I certainly don’t care for the overload of tourists and ultimately avoid most of these areas.  🙂  But, having lived here a little while, I’ve picked up on some tips and tricks to enjoy the holidays my way.  Try waking up early and taking a jaunt along 5th avenue before people have eaten breakfast or even woken up.  Then you can catch a glimpse of all the gorgeous displays sans crowds.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

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“May your holiday be as bright as your spirits are light”