Down By The Docks

Another weekend has come and gone and the list of places to go and see in NYC never seems to get any shorter.

I’m a huge fan of starting off Saturdays with a home-cooked breakfast. Last weekend was pancakes, oranges and “choose your own meat like thing” (veggie sausage for me, bacon for him).

Brunch places have nothing on us.

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Finished up a few crossword puzzle answers before heading out the door to catch a bus to Red Hook. It’s a neighborhood not easily serviced by the subway so the easiest way is to hop on a bus and enjoy traveling above ground for once.

In Red Hook there are some fantastic views of the water, city and the statue of liberty! It was the first “warm” day in quite some time. I think it hit 40 degrees! That felt pretty much like summer so we were happy to be walking around and outside.

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It’s a very industrial neighborhood as IKEA is there, boat docks, warehouses, etc. Makes for lots of interesting architecture. They are turning one of the piers into a park of some sort with displays and information posted around so that’ll be interesting to check out in a few months.

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On the rear side of the Fairway (a giant grocery store) there are all of these old train cars to peek into. Pretty neat!

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After a brief shopping trip to Fairway (one in which we had to promise ourselves not to buy the whole store), we headed to a nearby bakery for some whoopie pies! Jon’s from PA so it only makes sense to go try them out. Super tasty looking baked goods and a cute shop tucked in the neighborhood – would definitely be worth a trip back!

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Once we were sufficiently hopped up on sugar, we headed back home to start preparing dinner. Jon was going to be working the Super Bowl so we went with a football party inspired dinner menu to make up for him missing it.

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Three types of cheese, guac & chips, kale/arugula salad for appetizers. Then while watching a movie we got some veggie lentil chili on the stove to simmer away. It turned out super well – ate leftovers for lunch for the beginning of the week, I’d definitely make it again!

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Snowy Weekend

This weekend seemed to pass all too quickly. Sunday evening and I’m sitting in a clean apartment with fresh laundry and new pillows. Achieved big kid status this weekend when Jon bought his first scarf (HOW did he go to school at RIT…) and I bought much needed new pillows.

Nothing too crazy this weekend – started it out on Friday with pizza at Peppino’s. Chosen both for it’s insanely hot interior and delicious pizza. Friday was so chilly! Actually it’s been cold for quite some time. We had snow both all day yesterday and little flurries today.

Watched The Intouchables on Netflix on Friday – highly recommend the movie!

Saturday morning I got ambitious and made cinnamon french toast from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook (the one that Jon got me for Christmas – genius). It turned out really well and was especially delicious with some veggie sausage that I picked up.

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After some newspaper reading and coffee drinking (this time from the comfort of my living room with a snowy view), we headed into Manhattan to run a few errands. The errands ended up taking about 4 hours which is usually the case when looking for something in NYC. Especially when you enter the vortex that is Macy’s. Never again. That place is out of control.

We did make a pit stop at the Ace Hotel to visit the coffee shop that is in their lobby. Cool view of the Empire State building while we were sipping our drinks and watching taxis pass by. Unfortunately, the rest of New Yorkers also had the idea to go there so there was no seating to be found.

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Dinner was leftover pizza and appetizers after coming back from the exhausting outing (that we didn’t really accomplish much in..). Finished the rest of Zero Dark Thirty which we had started a few weeks ago. Super intense even though I knew the ending!

This morning we woke up early for a church service in Manhattan. The church that we’re apart of in Brooklyn is actually part of a much larger network of churches and they had the first semi-annual all city gathering at a high school. Over 1,500 people were all gathered together – it was pretty insane! Definitely a cool way to start off the morning. We ended up running into a ton of people from the church in Long Island City that we went to all of last year so it was great to catch up. A group of 15 of us (which later turned into 40) all headed to grab food afterwards at Heartland Brewery in Union Square. I think the waiters were a bit alarmed to get a group that large in there so early. Fitting 40 people into 1 restaurant in NYC is nothing short of a miracle. Delicious food and great to catch up with everyone!

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Jon headed off to work and I wandered a bit more around in Manhattan. There’s something so nice about walking the streets with snow flurries in the air and no real place to be. Of course, it was quite chilly!

I do always love coming back to Brooklyn though. Love these rows and rows of brownstones to walk home to. The snow just makes it even better!

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Work has gotten super busy lately – in a good way! Lots of new projects and pitches to work on which keeps it interesting. Feels like almost every night is planned out already too. Can’t believe how quickly January passed…

Full Weekend

Had just a couple things planned for the weekend and somehow it feels like every spare minute in between was filled up!

Friday night I met up with Jon and headed to Der Kommissar, a German restaurant in the neighborhood, for dinner. They have delicious veggie sausage options, a fun environment and tons of mustard to put on said veggie sausage. From there we were going to meet up with Jon’s roommate and his girlfriend but they were running a little behind so he had the brilliant idea to head to L’Albero Dei Gelati this fantastic gelato place. Had PA Maple Syrup and Chestnut Ginger gelato. Both were super tasty!

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Eventually met up with Jon’s roommate, his girlfriend and her friend from college. In a weird turn of events, we ended up befriending these random people at the bar who needed a place to sit down and eat their dinner. Turns out they were related to the bartender and they were all cousins so it was a giant family reunion of sorts. By the end of the night there we hugs all around and we had met all of the cousins. Basically felt like a scene out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 🙂

Headed to bed early because we all had to get up super early so all 5 of us could pile on a train to Queens for a homeless care kit packing party. We’d done a similar one around this time last year and signed up again to help out. The train ride went super fast and before long we were spending 2 hours rolling up blankets with socks, hats, gloves, food, water and notes that are then handed out to homeless people on the streets. Pretty awesome project and made even more interesting because two of the people who run it were recipients of the homeless care kits years ago. We got to work alongside some high school kids as well who were bused there from somewhere in Brooklyn as well. Definitely two hours well spent. We completed 400 kits by the end of the morning.

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Afterwards all 5 of us headed down the street to El Ay Si, a brunch place that Jon and I had been to back when we went to church there. Delicious food and even more fun to have a big group of friends to share it with.

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Saturday afternoon was spent back in Brooklyn and was pretty low-key. NYTimes reading, chatting, Downton Abbey watching (Jon at least watched.. I napped). Later that night we headed out to Jon’s friend James’s house warming party. They’ve been friends since high school and hang out a lot now but I’d yet to meet him. Of course, every house warming party in NYC involves a whole lot of “oohh.. maybe I should move…”. But I think I’ll stay put for a bit 🙂

Changed it up today and had breakfast this morning instead of lunch after church. While drinking coffee, I spotted this dog outside. So cute! Wish I had more time and room for him in my apartment! Maybe someday…

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Went to lunch at a Thai restaurant after church with three girls from church which was fun! It’s super chilly outside so I’m all bundled up and cozy on my couch for the rest of the afternoon. I have a few freelance projects to work on, some reading to do and perhaps a little cooking later.

It’s definitely felt like a very full and very good weekend. Looking forward to weekends with slightly better outdoor walking weather 🙂

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If You Build It

Hard to believe that it was just 14 days ago that I was coming back to NYC after christmas break. The days, while they each feel long, seem to be flying by. After a few snowy, cold days I was super ready to get out and explore again. Definitely miss some of the longer walks we used to take on weekends when it wasn’t so stinkin’ cold outside.

I ran across an article last week talking about this interesting documentary called If You Build It. I looked into it a little more and turns out it was premiering in NYC that weekend (last Friday)! Friday after work I met up with Jon and we headed to the West Village in search of dinner before the show. Found a cute little Greek restaurant and grabbed a seat by the window – rainy nights make being inside feel even more cozy.

The movie turned out to be fantastic! In short, it’s a documentary on two designers/architects who went to Bertie County, NC and started a design class which ended up having a huge impact on the community and students there. You can learn more about it here. They’re showing it around the country throughout the next year so I highly recommend it if it’s coming somewhere near you!

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Afterwards there was a Q&A session with the director. I have to admit, I wasn’t initially that excited about a Q&A session but it turned out to be great! Not only was it the director of the movie but the 2 teachers of the class and one of the students in their original design class came and spoke as well. It was a fun and different way to spend a Friday night!

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Saturday involved sleeping in and coffee and NYTimes reading at a (new) local coffee shop. We had an oh so romantic date to busy Trader Joe’s for groceries tucked in there too. Came home and I made Pear & Arugula soup for dinner while Jon did laundry. It actually turned out really well! I ended up leaving out one of the ingredients (a potato – Farmigo gave me moldy ones last week) but didn’t seem to miss it. Made some toasty croutons on top too.

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After dinner I headed out to Hoboken (NJ) with Casey to meet up with Ariana one of our other roommates from RIT. She’s moving down to Texas to work at a sweet new place, Mary Kay! So she had one last going away party there. Jon met up not long after. Had a good time catching up before she headed off!

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It did make for a super short night of sleep though. Sunday morning I woke up super early (6:30) to help set up at church. It ended up being really fun and I didn’t even push snooze that much (huge accomplishment when you see how weekdays have been…). We finished setting up so early that all 7 of us headed to a local diner for some food! Pancakes, eggs, coffee and chatting made for the best morning. It’s been fun getting to know those girls over the past year (!). Yikes, I can’t believe it’s really been that long. By the time church rolled around at 10:30, it felt like mid-day!

Had leftover pear & arugula soup with Jon before he headed off to work and then I set to work doing laundry and fully cleaning the apartment. Felt so good to get everything back in order before the next week started.

Of course, I started this blog post the day after and am posting it 5 days later… so clearly this week got a bit crazy! Whoops.

Street Finds

You can get a lot of excellent things on the streets of NYC. With limited apartment space, people are almost always looking to get rid of things. Books, tables, couches, beds, you name it.. you can find it. Of course, you want to use some discretion when picking items up.

On one of my walks home a few months ago, I spotted this little night stand on the sidewalk. I had been on the lookout for something to go next to my bed but I wanted it to be unique. Turns out this was exactly what I was looking for!! And huge bonus, it was free.

So I toted it home and up four flights of stairs, cleaned it off with excessive amounts of lysol and it’s sat next to my bed ever since.

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When I was home over break, Mom had mentioned that there was a store that sold non-toxic paint. So non-toxic that you can eat it and it has no fumes. Perfect for painting inside an apartment! I grabbed a little sample pot of it which was supposed to be enough to cover the nightstand.

Whipped the paint out tonight and set to work on it.

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Getting that silly drawer painted was slightly annoying but overall the process was super easy. And smelled like nothing!

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This is where I’m at right now. The left blue one is the original and the right is what I painted it to. I’m still contemplating some options for that back so it might be changing over the next few days. Looking to grab some contact paper for the drawer and touch up a few spots and it will be good to go. There is a gloss finish that I need to put on it when I decide I’m done messing with it. Pretty quick and easy Sunday afternoon project!IMG_0120

Winter Saturday Exploring

Friday I worked from home due to snow which through off my sense of what day it actually was.

Saturday morning started early with homemade crepes – filled with sautéed spinach, artichoke hearts and brie! Complete with a side of coffee and a berry smoothie. Brunch is quickly becoming my favorite meal to plan – so many options and such a good way to kick off the weekend!

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We soon headed towards Central Park for a walk. For whatever reason (read: it’s not Brooklyn) we haven’t made it up there recently. We’ve definitely slowed down on the exploring from our early every weekend must be packed rule when I first moved here. Looking to change that in 2014! So many parts of the city left to see.

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Central Park was absolutely gorgeous with the snow on the ground and bright blue sky. It was also surprisingly warm (considering the day before had a negative something windchill).

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Made our way up towards the center of the park and found a nut stand. For some reason ever since I moved here, it’s been on my bucket list to get warm nuts from a sidewalk stand. It seemed New York-like I guess. Mission accomplished! We got cashews with a mystery flavoring.

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Continued meandering our way through the park until Jon could no longer feel his toes. We made it up to the MET on the east side which I shockingly have not seen since moving here. Briefly contemplated going but decided to save that for another cold or rainy day!

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Instead we continued walking down from 8o-something street to 63rd to get espresso and a cappuccino at Bel Ami a little coffee shop we had found last year. We were wildly underdressed – must have forgotten my fur coat and leather snake skin boots at home. But fun and cozy anyway!

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Plus the streets seemed like a movie set with all of the steam vents from the subways!

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From there we hopped on a subway and made it down to 42nd Street where we fought our way through Time Square to the AMC Theater! Jon got movie tickets for christmas from Aunt Barb & Uncle Joe and he decided he liked me enough to take me with him 🙂 We’d both been wanting to see Her so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for it! The lines were crazy long to get the tickets so we had to rush across the street to Five Guys for a quick grilled cheese and burger lunch before the movie. By the time we made it back it was 2 minutes until movie time and the theater was PACKED! Not that I go to movies often but I’ve never seen it so full! We ended up having to sit in the very, very front row with our heads looking straight up at the screen. Despite some of the characters looking rather large from below, it seemed to work out and we both enjoyed the movie. Guess I get to check off “sit in the front row at the movies” from some life bucket list!

Headed back to Brooklyn just in time to make some dinner. I’d had two meals planned for Saturday night to get us enough leftovers for Sunday which is usually the goal. However, after making the first we quickly lost stamina and quit at that. The soup is still unmade.. guess that is tomorrow’s task.

We did make Smitten Kitchen’s Butternut Squash and Onion Gallette along with a Kale Salad (recipe courtesy of Mom). It seemed to work out well and didn’t even take that long. We did cheat on the dough though. Between brunch and this, it was a lot of cooking in one day!

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Don’t be too impressed though. There’s a pretty decent chance that these photos your seeing were taken on a cardboard box 🙂

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Sometimes apartment life isn’t as glamorous as one might think. But I think we get points for innovation and creativity. Next time, I’ll try to locate a table cloth – tshirts work for that, right?

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King’s County Distillery

On the Saturday before Christmas, I surprised Jon with a tour of the King’s County Distillery in Brooklyn. Somehow, I managed to keep it a complete secret for a week until we showed up at the guard tower in the Navy Yard (where it’s located) and had to tell the guard where we were headed.

(pictured below is what we made for brunch: sweet potato, goat cheese and kale fritatta with rye bread)

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It was the one surprise warm day of the winter so the tour started outside where the Master Blender gave us a rundown of the history of Whiskey and Bourbon. It was interesting to hear how much history was behind it. We were shocked to learn that they only got their official license to make and sell whiskey in 2010!

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The tour continued into the main room where they make it. Lots of big distillers where they put the fermented wheat/grains into big barrels (we actually got to stick our fingers in and taste it. Way more chemistry goes into the process than I ever imagined. It definitely made you appreciate all of the hard work that went into it and explained the price of some alcohol!

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We made our way into a sunny room on the top floor where they stored all of their barrels of bourbon while it was aging. The picture below doesn’t even do justice to what the room looked like. It was gorgeous with the sun pouring in over the rows and rows of barrels.

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The tour ended with a mini tasting of the moonshine, bourbon and two flavored variations (spiced and chocolate). Overall, it was more than an hour of learning about the process and I think we both walked away with a greater appreciation of how they make it. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has a slight interest in learning more about what they’re drinking and how they make it.

Ending 2013

Crazy how fast 2013 came to a close. It feels like Thanksgiving just ended but it’s already January 3rd!

December was a blur of cookie eating, holiday parties, catching up with friends and family time. My apartment was modestly festive. Decided that a 4th floor walkup was not a good place for a Christmas tree, especially if I was leaving for Christmas.

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Had a good time at the Carrot Holiday party which took place at Fornino in Greenpoint. Filled with fresh mozzarella balls and delicious pizza!

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Had another holiday party with some friends from church complete with expert level cookie decorating, lots of cheese and hot apple cider. One of my friend’s boyfriend’s mom (confusing!) made 96 cookies for us to decorate along with frosting and instructions on how to decorate them. I think we all decided we’re not ready to open a bakery anytime soon.

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Had a few days in Brooklyn to hang around with Jon before my parents came through on Christmas Eve to drive me to New Jersey (way easier than attempting to carry things on the train!). Jon unfortunately had to work Christmas Eve but he joined us in NJ around 1am when he got off. Such a cozy place to spend time with family. It was a packed house but so much fun! Funny because even with 10 people there it felt absolutely huge compared to my tiny little apartment. Lots of intense games of Euchre were played.

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There was no shortage of delicious food (not all photographed unfortunately – I think Jon and some others have those on their phones which I’ll have to track down). Mushroom risotto, various meats that I don’t remember (oops), bean and cheese filled peppers, cheese plates, frittatas, ebelskivers, homemade muffins and bread. So delicious! Thanks for all of the cooking, Aunt Barb!

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One of the top things on my list is homemade ebelskivers. It’s a danish pancake type thing. Delicious and fun to make!

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And then there were the cookies. SO many cookies made by Mom, Dad & Sarah (I didn’t get to help in the cooking baking this year, unfornately). I’d pick a favorite but that’d be too hard. Almond tarts, Cranberry White Chocolate, Molasses, Biscotti, Nutella Filled Chocolate Chip, Paper, Thin Sugar Cookies. Yum.

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On Friday after Christmas, we headed down to Maryland (through Brooklyn which added lots of hours to the ride 😦 ). Got to spend about 4 days at home hanging out and eating even more delicious food! Vegetable pancakes (from Smitten Kitchen), peanut sauce on soba noodles, spaghetti squash and black bean enchiladas, homemade bread, taco dip, etc. Not all photographed (due to lack of phone space) but all oh so delicious.

Good news, new phone this year which means OODLES of space for food documentation. Get ready.

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On Wednesday morning it was time to hop back on the train and head back to NYC. Felt so weird seeing the skyline come back into view after being gone for just over a week. Definitely was a much needed break and time with family!

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Happy New Year!

 

Snow Day

Absolutely nothing is better than leaving work with flurries in the air, only to arrive home to a fully covered street.

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Woke up at 5am this morning. Something that other than on snow days, NEVER happens. There’s something peaceful about listening to the beeps of the snow plows on the streets while it’s still dark.

I’m currently curled up on the couch enjoying chai tea and excited about the fact that I get to work from home today! The fantastic thing about working on a computer almost 100% of my day is that it’s quite easy to just continue from the comfort of the couch. Feeling slightly guilty because despite the freezing temperatures and wind, I have my windows open. My apartment is pretty much a sauna for the entire winter apparently (something I didn’t know moving in last September). On any given night, I usually find myself in a tank top and shorts. The other night, the fan was busted out to be placed in the window. Can I share some of this heat?

The snow is still whipping away outside but is expected to stop late morning. I imagine I’ll venture out a bit later in search of a toasty coffee shop with wifi and a window to see the snow.

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Of course, the beauty of snow in NYC is only really appreciated on the first day. After that it becomes a slushy mess.

But oh that first day.

New York City Moments: Laundry

Sometimes in the hustle of pushing your way down the stairs to get to the subway, or walking through block after block of dirty winter slush that the romance of living in New York seems like a joke.

Carrying a heavy laundry bag that won’t properly close down four flights of stairs and then an avenue down seems like a huge hassle.

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But then I’m greeted by the local Greek man who runs the laundromat.   He sits on a perch by the window, eagerly opening the door for anyone walking in. Despite his broken English, we always manage to have some kind of conversation. Usually around the number of dollar bills I want turned into quarters. If you look confused or something doesn’t work he’s immediately at your side to fix it. He once gave me a tour of the inside of the dryer when mine wasn’t working- who knew there are flames inside!

Sometimes on Saturday afternoons, lots people gather to do laundry. Often 4 or 5, all part of the Greek community, and all watching whatever the soccer game of the day is (with commentators loudly yelling in Greek, of course).

These are the parts of NYC that you don’t often hear about. The neighborhoods.

Before moving here it was likely my biggest misconception. I figured moving to NYC meant living near Time Square, constantly fighting with crowds of people and knowing no one. Instead it means a normally private task, like doing laundry, is suddenly a public affair.

So, as much as I complain about doing laundry, it’s actually a highlight of my week. It makes me feel ever so slightly, more like a New Yorker.