Big City Living | NYC tips & favorite things

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetSo, I used to post a lot of recipes. Currently, however, our master bedroom is serving as our kitchen  while most of our first floor is under construction. Though it is complete with mini fridge, microwave, toaster, panini press and espresso maker, even with all of these fabulous amenities, my cooking repertoire is limited, to say the least. So, the recipes will be coming…. but I’m gonna give it a few more weeks… (unless you want to know how to grill a sandwich without catching your bedroom curtains on fire. I’m pretty good at that. ).

In the meantime, as I eat cheese, crackers and apples for lunch again (totally under-rated, by the way. Like an adult lunchable, and who didn’t love those?!), I thought I’d share a few of our favorite things about our brief Big City life!


2015-02-08_1423417429We moved to Jersey City, NJ in freezing early February for a short-term assignment for the Husband’s job. In a small apartment in a tall building along Hudson river, there were a lot of adjustments to make.   Of course, having all of NYC literally at our feet for three months was pretty spectacular. But, there was a bit of a learning curve involved…

 

At first, I was frustrated. The sparkle of those famous lights was so near, but it was roughly -24 degrees, and I had a 9mo old and the trains were crazy, the Husband worked and had a long commute during the week, and I was sure I would only get to admire the sights from afar. Humph. But, after careful observation of the city-savvy parents that surrounded us (and watching every episode of Friends), we realized that the cold + baby + subway was not an impossibility. And, though the weeks were long, we filled every weekend to the brim. A challenge, yes, but a zillion people traversed the snow and crowds every day, little ones in tow, and we found that we could, too!

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Some of Our (more obscure) Favorite Spots

We visited Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Gardens, Grand Central Station, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, made lots of trips in and around Times Square, the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, The New York Public Library, Bloomingdales, Macy’s  and dozens of other shops  and attractions that you already
know are gorgeous. But, here are a few less common stops that should be on your list!


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Hoboken | On the Jersey side, this spot is hopping! Yes, you can visit Carlo’s Bakery, but there are a ton of fun restaurants in this up-and-coming community on the banks of the Husdon. We loved this stroller-friendly biergarten! Tip: Jersey is a super quick ferry or train ride away from the city, and it can be far less expensive to stay on this side of the river if you’re planning a visit. You also get one-of-a-kind views of the city, and easy access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! Quick Facts: Also Frank Sinatra’s birthplace, and the filming location for the classic movie, “On the Waterfront” starring Marlon Brando.

Jason BatemanTriBeCa | Short for the “Triangle below Canal street” we visited this area for the first time during the Tribeca Film Festival, and I fell in love! Perfect for celebrity sightings (like Jason Bateman –>) and ahhhhmazing brunch, strolling these streets make you just FEEL like you belong here and could totally make this city home, and have a “squad”, and walk to the gym in heels and stuff like that. Or, you could just go to Starbucks and people watch.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetUnder the PlazaThe Plaza itself is the kind of place that childhood dreams are made of… perched at the edge of central park, it’s everything that our Eloise books and Home Alone 2 told us it was. The Husband and I enjoyed drinks at the Palm Court on a date night, but the real hidden gem of the place is what’s under it! Perfect with kids, get a casual plaza experience with the dining options, and even pack a picnic to take to the park (like we did for T’s first birthday  – complete with cupcakes!).

2015-04-13_1428889454Momofoku Milk Bar | I had a LONG list of places we HAD to visit when in the city, and Milk Bar was near the top. And it deserved it. The cereal milk ice cream with cornflake topping is as good as they say, and the cookies and bars are even better. You just HAVE to go!Uniqlo | This shop is spreading like crazy, and is well-established on the East Coast and here in CT where we live now. But, for us midwesterners, it was awesome! Like a funky-industrial mix of the good parts of Gap, JCrew and H&M, their clothes are fun, functional, and perfectly priced. They have things for littles, too!

IMG_1186The Gansevoort Market | It’s a good idea to cruise instragram for fun locations to visit when you’re in a new spot. That’s how I discovered this gem! Etheral, historic and packed with good things to eat, this was a fun destination for casual lunch in a beautiful atmosphere!

 

 

 

2015-05-02_1430577185Bemelmans Bar | If you want to feel like you walked onto the set of Mad Men, this spot is a date night MUST. Nestled on the Upper East Side, and named for the artist that created it’s fabulous murals (the illustrator of the beloved Madeline books!), it’s just to die for. Tip: The King Cole Bar is another NYC classic with vintage vibes, and a secret hidden in its mural.

 

Honorable mentionsCheeky Sandwiches – Chicken and biscuits and ginger ale, thanks to the New York Gebert kids for introducing us :) | Eileen’s Special Cheesecake – The Husband doesn’t like cheesecake, so I bought him one and ate both. duh. | The Boathouse restaurant – A very popular spot in Central Park, but they have a less-busy causal outdoor area perfect for sitting with a glass of wine and a toddler!

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Tips & Tricks for Parents

Especially if you visit during the colder months, here are a few ideas for parents planning to visit NYC or any big city with a little one!

IMG_0396Rain cover + Bundle Me | Your stroller rain cover isn’t just for rain, and you have to buy one of these. No blankets falling off every five seconds, no howling wind, and all of the sudden our brunch date with friends when it was 12 degrees was on the table again… Titus and hundreds of other kids we saw each day were cozy for all-day city outings for months with this combo! This has been great for our new adventure here in CT, too. No need to stop enjoying long walks because of the weather!

IMG_0220Stairs + Strollers DO Mix | You’ve just gotta be ok with hauling your stroller up and down stairs for the subway. We were pretty appalled at the lack of accessible subway stations, and figured out quickly that to be efficient, you’ve just got to use the stairs. Though, you could call a cab and hold your child on your lap, and stow your stroller, it’s a lot of effort! We didn’t use a cab once when out with the baby, and never had any real issues. Baby wearing also helps, particularly if you’re trying to train solo!

IMG_1262Pack Small | I didn’t understand the concept of an “urban jungle” until we had this
experience. Dressing for the weather and the tired feet, plus packing the snacks and toys and diapers necessary for 6 hour day in the elements makes you look more prepared for an arctic expedition than a chic day in the city. BUT, everything in the city is tight – small restaurants, small sidewalks, crowded subway cars. We brought our big jogger stroller with us and didn’t touch it! We also opted for a backpack style
diaper bag, and a back carrier for museums. Anything that can be efficient and compact is a game changer (another reason the bundle me was so great)! It can be hard to do with littles, but economize any way you can.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBabies are babies, even in NYC | It’s ok to feed, change and tend to your baby virtually anywhere. We nursed and changed in museums, at sporting events, in restaurants, on busy streets and subway stations. There are WAY weirder things going on in the city. Trust me. Just go and see what you wanted, go and eat great food, and bring the baby along to (almost) everywhere with you.

At the end of our time in the city, we were ready for some of the more familiar comforts of home – a yard for the baby, peace and quiet, no crowds… but, we’ll always treasure our New York adventures! And fortunately, our new home is just about an hour away! So, if you’re making a trip to NYC, give us a call. We’d love to have a reason to visit some of these amazing spots again, or try something new :)

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Our Friends {Up} North

You know those times that you feel like you could say “Thank You” a million times, and it still couldn’t begin to explain how blessed you feel?

Our weekend adventure left me and the Husband in just that state: Reeling with gratitude for friends, hospitality, surprising excursions, epicurean delights, wise words and the road we have ahead.

We trekked up to Ancaster, Ontario to visit our good friends, Gordon and Selena, and their son Harrison. Another set of friends, Phillip, Josie and baby Gabe, met us there over the weekend as well. (Note: Gabe was the most beautifully well-behaved child I have ever met. SUCH a sweetheart! And, he gave me kisses…)

We’ve known these wonderful families for a while, but have been itching to get to spend some real time together hanging out and having fun. This was the perfect opportunity!

We talked babies, education, faith, food, the arts, and…. TRAVEL. One of the many reasons we make the trip up was to get Selena’s world-class European travel advice. Yep: The Husband and I are planning a special trip to Italy in the spring….. and have been hopelessly at a loss as to where to begin.

No more! We think we might have a start, some ideas for a middle, and end. Details will emerge as we solidify them. Already can’t wait! {May 2012}.

Besides talking and eating Selena’s fabulous meals (seriously delicious pork & applesauce, jams, cheeses, steak & potatoes, pate, soup, salmon sandwiches and salads!… and her tea was fabulous as well.) and getting a new appreciation for wine and spirits from Gord, we visited the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), shopped, and ended our visit with a trip to the Falls and Niagra-on-the-Lake.

I also taught Harrison how to use a rubber-band wrapped around his hand as a gun (see upper left corner). I’m sure that made Selena happy. And no, I wasn’t kicked out the country for possessing firearms ; ) (Sorry guys…I had to use one Canadian joke. Just be proud I refrained from using “Eh?” in the title).Toronto was such a progressive, fun city – Lot’s of fabulous European influence and green living!

After breezing through several exhibits – (The dinos were our favorite!), we were treated to lunch at Crystal 5 (c5), a restaurant at the top of the museum, overlooking the city.

So beautiful. So delicious. {Goat cheese & beet salad  and pulled pork tacos, cappuccino and re-imagined french toast for dessert…}

Fortino’s was an amazing grocery – a little like Whole Foods, and packed with an amazing selection of produce, cheeses, prepared foods and products I hadn’t seen before (it takes me forever to shop at home…let alone when there is soooo much to see!).

The Falls were breathtaking. I’ve seen the American side, but I have to say our friends up north have a better view : ) LOVED the rainbow!

Lunch at the Oban restaurant at Niagra-on-the-Lake was perfect. Have you ever had a Caesar? A Canadian tradition, it’s like a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato juice. Doesn’t sound delicious… but it was actually pretty refreshing.

Such a pretty afternoon.

But I have to say, the Tiramisu & Bacio Gelato was the highlight of the day. (Think icy Nutella!). The spot on the top left is where Selena and Gord were engaged

A wonderful trip with wonderful friends. We’re already looking forward to the next get-together!

It’s the season of Thanks. What unusual thing are you thankful for? (Canadian friends and Goat Cheese are already taken…sorry).

A {Happy} Harvest

Happy Harvest!

Our weekend involved music, friends, a race and far, far too much pumpkin fluff. In other words, it was great :)

We woke up on Saturday for a “Pumpkin Run” at a local park. Proceeds from the two-mile trail run went to benefit a Youth Leadership program. It was c-c-c-cold early in the morning, but our two miles through trees, puddles and over bike paths warmed us up in no time! We dressed up (keepin’ things festive) and had a fun time with a few friends that joined us. I placed second for women, and one of our friends took home the first place prize. It was for a good cause, but the race was also a great reason to go to a fun breakfast out :) We didn’t meet anyone famous this time, though…MMMMM… Oats!

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out, watching movies, and getting ready for one of our FAVORITE seasonal traditions. Danny & Halley’s Annual Pumpkin Carving Party! Danny works with the Husband, and his lovely wife Halley is the queen of all hostesses, She always makes every party delightful with her attention to detail and fun, crafty decor. I could have taken pictures all night!

I brought Pumpkin Fluff that I made using this amazing recipe (I just switched out the whipped topping for marshmallow fluff, and used a little less sugar. It was good on everything…. including pancakes the next day!) and an old favorite, Spinach Artichoke dip (from Cooking Light! Try it…it is easy and so, so yummy. Just use the whole box of spinach instead of half : )

We actually had to leave the party a bit early to make it to our next event, but Halley and Danny had a special announcement for their guests that they shared with us before we left:

Congrats on the ‘lil punkin’ (to arrive May of 2012)! And thanks to good friend Heather for the beautiful photo. We can’t wait to meet him or her!

After the party, we made a quick change, and went to a brand new venue for a special throwback concert – The Contours. Their big hit was, “Do you love me? (Now that I can dance)” recorded in 1962. I adore music from that era (I have a stash of my parents’ records and have seen Paul McCartney (Beatles), Paul Simon (Simon & Garfunkel), Bill Medley (Righteous Brothers), Don McLean (American Pie), Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits) and Mickey Dolenz (The Monkees) in concert!) They sang a ton of great hits by other Motown artists, and Alexandria’s – a new tapas bar and event space downtown – was breathtaking.

Look at that lighting…and those sparkly suits! We danced the night away, enjoyed fun cocktails and got autographs… Loved every groovy minute of it.

Because we had to leave a little early from the pumpkin party, I didn’t get to finish my carving. But, I loved the design I had picked out so much (and my white pumpkin) that I rounded out my festive weekend by carving it on Sunday!

Loved the finished product! Super easy, too (yay for stencils!)

All of these activities put me into full-fledged harvest/crunchy leaves/thanksgiving/just-double-digits-until-christmas mode. So, for dinner I HAD to whip something up that matched my autumnal-hued mood…

I have something special for you coming soon!

Sorry -But this little post is a book already. Get the recipe next time!

{In the mean time, visit Halley’s blog – The Halley Daily!}