NYC Meow Parlour Cat Cafe

Warning there will be lots of photos of cats and cat-shaped things.

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NYC Meow Parlour is part cafe and part cat heaven.  The idea came from crowded Asian cities with small apartments that wouldn’t allow pets. These cafes let you interact with cats in a homey environment, without having the responsibility of being a full-time cat mom (or dad).

It’s kind of perfect. If I didn’t have two cats of my own, I’d probably live at a cat cafe.

The best part, they’re adoptable! But I can’t imagine the cats wanting to leave. The cat cafe was  glorious – so many places for them to climb, sleep, and play!

We went in the middle of the day, so the cats were doing what they do best.

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Sleeping.

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This is an ottoman with a cat bed inside. Brilliant.

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Our trip wouldn’t be complete without some excitement.

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There was lots of drama over the toys.

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Sleeping in the toy box because #yolo.

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My friend Sara and I booked our visit to the cafe months in advance! That’s how busy it is! So as not to exhaust the poor kitties, they limit the amount of people who can visit the cafe in a day.

You can also purchase coffee and treats at the cafe across the street and bring them into the cat area. Are you ready for this?

So many cat shaped sweets!

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It was all very cute. And tasty!

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The whole cafe was super cute and calming. It had everything you’d find in your favorite coffee shops, plus cats!

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New Year’s Recap and Looking Forward

If I can describe 2014 in one word, it’s “hustle.” Ryan and I were reflecting on this past year and came to the conclusion that we just couldn’t take a break. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. We went through the painful experience of apartment searching in New York, which was emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Ryan launched his own business and we’ve been adjusting to spending much more time together since we both work from home. And we’ve spent much of this year hosting visitors almost every month, traveling, and carving out new paths for our lives.

A fun mural while visiting my sister in Miami.
Displaying gifts from Ryan’s aunt

I’ve also been dealing with sick cats, with no real understanding of what’s making them ill. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem life-threatening, just uncomfortable. But this whole experience has been crushing and I feel like the worst cat mom. No matter how much money we spend or how many tests we run on them, nothing seems to be conclusive. There are bouts of a few weeks where they both seem well, then it starts up again. I worry that it’s environmental, since it started when we moved into this apartment, but my vet seems to think that’s highly unlikely. Regardless, this has never been more true for me.

Watson-in-Chair

Ryan and Riley

Each New Year, I have a blog tradition of looking back at my old New Year’s posts and looking at how much I’ve done. It’s overwhelming a bit, since so much has changed. Despite feeling stuck in the mud all of the time, each year I’ve grown and moved forward immensely. So much so, that I hardly seem to recognize who I was just a few years prior.

Recap of Last Year’s Resolutions:

  • Learn a new language – I did take a Spanish class and was using Duolingo with some regularity, but that’s slowed down and I’m nowhere close to proficient.
  • Run a half-marathon, hopefully two. – Yep, only one, in February.
  • Visit a New England state I’ve never been to. – Nope. Maybe this year?
  • Go to the beach (specifically in NYC). Done. It was gross.
  • Ride horses again.  – Yes, somewhat. I rode five or six times this year, which was way more than 2013. Still, I wish I could do it every day, but it’s impractical in NYC.
  • Celebrate holidays – Slightly better, not a 100% effort. We were asleep by midnight on NYE (I know, we’re such grandparents!). But we were really enthusiastic about Thanksgiving and Christmas. We even got a tree!
  • Document more – on the blog, my private journal, instagram, and in my food/exercise journal on myfitnesspal.  – I did blog much more than I did in 2013. I also did much better on instagram, joined facebook, and have been mostly consistent on MyFitnessPal.  Still working on the personal journaling part.
  • Practice kindness. – Yes.
I fell in love with this handsome guy.

In 2014 I:

  • Moved in with Ryan into a wonderful apartment in Brooklyn.
  • Struggled more with money than ever. This new apartment is pricey.
  • Took a fashion class at the Fashion Institute of Technology and loved it.
  • Took a few brainery classes and had a ton of fun: Doomsday Cults, Improv for Professionals, and the Dip Candle Workshop.
  • Gained more weight than I anticipated.
  • Ran/walked 197 miles, which is down more than 50 miles from the previous year and more than 100 from my peak.
  • Started taking really long walks just for fun.
  • Learned how to do a real push up and can now do approximately 30 or so.
  • Went skiing (and miserably failed!).
  • Learned how to loom knit and found my yarn-calling. I knit a hat!
  • Visited the MET, Natural History Museum, and the Intrepid (twice!)
  • Saw the following on and off-Broadway Shows: Cabaret (dream come true!), Violet, A Dolls House, Murder for Two, and possibly a few more I can’t remember
  • Saw the stunning Christmas lights on 5th Avenue. It was extraordinary.
  • Had some really wonderful times with friends. I love you guys!
  • Came out of a bad fog and fell more in love with so many things.
  • Redesigned my blog (thanks Jaime!) and started guest blogging (thanks Becca!).
Going to see Cabaret
Rooftop Garden at the Met
At the Finishing Line of the New Orleans Half Marathon
At the Finishing Line of the New Orleans Half Marathon
Visiting my best friend in Chicago

Top Blog Posts this Year:

2015 Resolutions:

I’m really struggling with ideas for this year, which worries me. I like to have goals, so I may update this as I think of more. I like to add a mix of achievable and fun goals with more challenging ones.

  • Visit 5 NYC Parks I haven’t been to
  • Do some hiking
  • Visit more museums
  • Write more. I’m starting slow and shooting for just two solid short stories.
  • Go ice skating.
  • Run another half-marathon. I’m not sure I want to do an actual race, but running 13.1 miles will be enough for me. I’d like to do a few smaller races though.
  • Get some plants. This house is really lacking greenery.
  • Travel – a lot of my early years with Ryan were spent exploring. Now that we are car-less, it makes traveling much harder. I really need to get back in touch with the adventurer that I once was.

The State of Other Things

I’m a deeply motivated person and am always looking toward the future. This constant pushing toward major life changes is stressful and when these events don’t come to fruition fast enough, I feel like a failure.

An example of this is my desire to go back to school. I’ve been struggling with this a lot this year. I’ve been talking about completing a Master’s degree for years. So long, in fact, that my GRE scores are about to expire (and I am not taking the GRE again). But the timing never seems right. First, I was in Florida and knew that I wanted to move, so I put it off. Now, I know I’ll be in New York for a few years, but am having a harder time deciding which school and route will be right for me. Should I go to a more prestigious school and follow an academic path? If I choose this path, it will mostly be the “follow your heart” route. My career prospects will be lackluster in terms of salary, but I might be able to justify it as “do what you love.” I’d only be pursuing this because I truly love academia. Or should I pick the  non-academic/business route and do a professional studies Master’s with the final outcome being a solid career? In considering all of these, I still have to face the obscene amount of money I’d have to spend and how I’m going to juggle a full-time job with pursuing an education and it makes me hesitant to make any decision at all.

Anyway, the subject of education is a conversation for 2015.

Drinks in New Orleans

So back to the hustle. I try to remember that I need to have the right set up to embark on any major life change and, let’s be frank, the past two years have, in essence, been nothing but major life changes. I’ve moved more time in the past two years than I have in the previous four. I ditched my car, moved to the biggest city in the states, co-habitated with my long-time love, and now, finally, have slowly started to fall into a nice groove with my life.

And even though I can say that things are calming down, I’m still working hard every day. To keep from overwhelming myself, I’ve cut my life into a few parts that I’m trying to focus on:

  • My health – I let this slack earlier this year, but am reeling this in. I’m back to running and eating much healthier. Our new neighborhood has tons of Seamless choices and it was just too easy to eat like crap.
  • My career – This has had a huge impact on my life this year and I’m trying to figure it out.
  • My relationship – Ryan and I were both really career-heavy this year and it took away from the relationship section of our lives. But we’ve regrouped and are finishing out the year solid and still very happy and in love.
  • Personal Development – It rarely seems to suffer, no matter what. I’m always taking classes, learning, creating, experiencing and exploring. I love this about me. The harder my life gets, the more I seem to reach out and find new things to do and learn.
  • My blog – When I have a good handle on the rest of the things in my life, my blog thrives. When the rest of the things in my life lose structure, my blog sadly suffers.

I know this was a long post, but that’s where I’m at. I’m honestly looking forward to this next year. I think some of the work I’ve put in last year will start to pay off this year.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year! Best wishes to all of my fantastic blog readers. Thanks for staying with me through everything.

And now I’d like to know, where are you at in your life? Do you have any resolutions? Is there anything you’d like to see more of on the blog?

PS. Since now is the time for committing to nutrition and health, you can follow me on MyFitnessPal. My username is monstercats.

around here: some last photos of winter

The first day of spring is just around the corner. I’m sitting outside at a local coffee shop and the sun is shining and I’m not wearing a sweater (or jacket).

There’s this excited energy in the air and it seems like all of Brooklyn is celebrating. Everyone is super chatty and friendly. There’s a 90’s music Pandora station on the radio and lots of laughing and singing along.

I’ve taken a few photos over the past few weeks that I couldn’t really fit into a full post. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of my camera lately and have spent lots of cold winter days editing photos that just sit in my Flickr account. Here are a few leftover from my New Orleans trip.

I absolutely love this Mardi Gras themed house. I’m pretty sure they decorate like this year-round.

A pretty fire house.

Amazing street art.

And handsome men.

A few photos we snapped while we were drinking hand grenades…

This one really captured the essence of the place.

A few weeks ago, I hosted a craft night and we made felt balls! I dyed the wool and everything. It was a success.

I took this photo from outside my window because I thought it would be the last snow we’d get this winter. Sadly, it seems like I was wrong. We’re expecting more snow later this week.

I guess that’s ok, because when it’s cold outside this little man is more cuddly.

He has the cutest darn paws. Look at those spots and the tufts of hair between his toes. I just can’t…<3

I also had a birthday part last weekend and it was completely love. I have some pretty great people in my life. I made my own birthday cake and it was a hit. I absolutely loved the color.

So I took like a million pictures.

For the cake: Martha Stewart’s Yellow Butter Cake Recipe, Sprinkle’s Buttercream Frosting Recipe, and this tutorial for how to perfectly frost a messy cake.

life updates on a winter day

Who else is sick of these winter days? I promised myself I’d feature fewer photos of my cats, but I haven’t left the house in days (this is almost an exaggeration), which means the only thing I’ve had the opportunity to photographed is my cats.

Riley Cat

Despite the cold weather, I’ve been doing aqua aerobics and aqua boot camp at my gym. It seemed like a good, low-impact workout until my hair froze walking home from the gym one day. Who knew?

In cooking related news, I tried to use my new food dehydrator do dehydrate daikon radishes. It was an awful idea. They turned out horribly. I do not recommend.

I’m on week three of my Spanish class. I’ve been using  Duolingo, a free iPhone app, to help me with my studies and it’s amazing. You can also use it to learn French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and English, so check it out.

I just ordered this book from amazon. I’ve given it as a gift twice, but never bought it for myself. It’s only $5 used!

This weekend I’ll be in New Orleans for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I am pretty darn excited to complete it. I’ve come a long way since last winter, where I stopped running for about six months. I’m a little under-trained due to the weather, but I’m also feeling pretty Zen about the race. My longest run so far has been 11.6 miles. Then we were hit with snow, followed by sub 30 degree weather, followed by more snow and sub 30 degree weather. So, I’ve taken the last two weeks off, which might make the race more challenging for me. Regardless, I can’t wait for some Southern sun and warmer weather. Wish me luck!

halloween cat costumes!

In short, these Halloween cat costumes are the best. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I became when I saw them.

Witch Hat Cat Halloween Costume

Witch Hat Cat Costume

I tried to show them to my cats, but they ran in fear.

Wizard Cat Costume

Wizard Hat Cat Costume

These are all hand made by Etsy Shop Owner I Heart Needlework. She custom makes them to fit your cat’s head. She also makes costumes for dogs and guinea pigs. How cute is that?

Pilgrim Hat Cat Costume

Cat Pilgrim Costume

I love the Thanksgiving ones, which would be perfect for both Halloween and Thanksgiving. I’m all about re-using costumes.

Turkey Cat Halloween Costume

Turkey Cat Halloween Costume

Oh, and how great is her cat? What a perfect model.  We bought our cats a dinosaur costume. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well.

p.s. This cat mermaid costume is my favorite.

design your own cookie cutters

My dreams may have just come true. Now you can design and print your own cookie cutter shape. Well, only if you have one of those super-fancy 3D printers (so, that’s what they’re for!). This is the moment where technology and my kitchen finally meet.

(image from Makerbot)

The project is open source and you can download the software from Thingiverse. It looks pretty neat.

(Image via Thingiverse)

How sweet would it be to bake someone a batch of cookies cut out with your own designs? What would you make? I know what shapes I’d make. Cat shapes, of course.

the weekender 5/4/2013

Hello friends. This weekend, I’m spending a lot of time at home. I just moved my cats into the new apartment and I want to keep an eye on things. My roommate also has a cat, so we’re spending a lot of times doing cat introductions. They can be such grumpy creatures. But it’s so worth it, especially when they take naps with you.

Sleepy Cats

(photo by ryan)

It’s a beautiful weekend. I hope to get a little bit of baking done and a little bit more unpacking. I hope to show you the place, when it finally comes together.

Erik Klein Wolterink takes photos of ethnic kitchens. There is so much to look at. How do they differ from yours?

This Anthropologie Plate Wall D.I.Y. is such a pretty way to decorate a wall.

I must have had a major sweet tooth while collecting links this week. First, Salted Caramel Ice Cream Cake Shots, and then this banana cake. I couldn’t decide!

I’m in the process of decorating the apartment, and this bean bag roundup has inspired me.

These D.I.Y. marquee lights look so professional, yet so easy to make.

This is really the best way to end the post. This giant sleeping cat couch is perfect.

perfect weekend: brooklyn botanical gardens

After spending the past two weeks moving and painting my new apartment, I really needed a relaxing weekend. Ryan and I woke up early on Saturday Morning and scoped out Tom’s Restaurant. It’s one of the few diners in our neighborhood, and still a mile away, but Yelp promised it would be worth the walk. When we got there, the line was wrapping down the block. The 30-minute wait was made pleasant by a server who brought us coffee, water, oranges, and then french fries, in that order. It was worth the wait. Tom’s makes their own flavored butters and serves fries for breakfast (with horseradish sauce!). Incredible.

Then Ryan and I walked over to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Sadly, I misplaced my DSLR camera battery during the move, so I had to snap all of these photos with my iphone.

The gardens were filled with rows and rows of tulips. I couldn’t stop staring at them. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I immediately longed to sleep in a bed of tulips a la Alice in Wonderland. I see the appeal.

More Alice in Wonderland flowers! I was on such a literary kick at the gardens. We walked through, and loved, the Shakespeare garden.

The gardens had an excellent Bonsai exhibit, and I fell in love. I hope to grow my own Bonsai soon, but what a commitment.

We really embarked on this trip with the intentions of seeing the Cherry Blossoms. Unfortunately  we picked a bad day. There were tons of people celebrating a cultural event. It sort of felt like Disney World. There was even a giant tent set up underneath the blossoms, so it was hard to get a good idea of how spectacular they were.

We mean to come back later this month. But, we were lucky enough to snap a pretty great picture in front of them.

And a few more, just to show you how genuinely happy and excited we get about gardens.

It really is like we’re at Disney World. Like, this photo below was taken solely because we found a willow tree.

Then we finished up the trip with some shared FroYo.  Pretty perfect.

Other highlights of the weekend are: cheap pedicure, baking, really great conversations with Ryan, watching the Roomba sweep while I drank my morning coffee, and this guy:

Always. <3

life moves fast

The past few months have been quite a struggle. I’ve been dealing with pesky medical issues and snags in my relationships, stress at my job and less than average performance with my personal goals. All the while, I’ve been trying to make a tough life decision.

I’ve been riding horses for nine months now. I’m finally getting up to a canter – a movement that scares me. It’s a different pace with a faster rhythm and makes me feel like I am no longer the one in control. The horse’s body bolts forward thrusting you back. Its breathing changes, the hooves pound loudly and quickly and your whole body sways, struggling to stay on. And when this happens, I desperately want to pull on the reins. I want so badly to pull back.

My trainer yells, “Let her go! Just let her go!” And I just let the horse go. And for a few seconds,  our bodies are moving in sync and beautifully fast and it’s simply exhilarating. I forget about the fear. I’m just cantering.

Like the natural rhythm of the canter, my life is trying to move forward, and I’ve been pulling on the reins for too long.

And it seems everything is falling into place and things feel right again. My life is moving forward. With monumental happiness, I’m ready to share my exciting news.

I’m moving to New York City! Ryan and I bought our one-way tickets. We depart January 15.

Letting this settle in feels completely right. My cheeks hurt, I was smiling so much today as I shared my news with my coworkers.

And my life is moving forward in other ways. I just bought my first DSLR camera, which takes fantastic photos (for the blog!), I’m learning photoshop, and my coding skills are slowly improving.

I have my first horse show this Saturday! I can’t wait. I’m only competing in a walk/trot, but still. It’s so much fun.

Christmas Lights

And I’m so ready for this holiday season. This week Ryan and I put up our Christmas lights.

Ryan with lights

And Watson wanted so badly to help.

Watson and Ryan

And this weekend, we ran in the Jingle Bell Run, which is my all-time favorite.

Jingle Bell

Everyone runs with a jingle bell on their shoe. I wore a light-up santa hat and a light up necklace.

Pre-Jingle Bell Run

And Adrienne joined us, to celebrate her one year running anniversary! I’m so proud of her.

Adrienne

I’ve got a lot of great crafts planned for this Holiday season. I can’t wait to start sharing them.

I’ll also be documenting how I plan to move to New York. Right now, I’m just concentrating on what (craft supplies) I’m taking with me. We’re getting rid of most everything, and basically only taking what can fit in our suit cases on the plane. It’s hard to part with stuff, but I’m excited for a fresh start.   I also got confirmation today that I’ll have a place to live when I get to NY. I’ll be staying with one of my best friends. And I found out I will be able to keep my job! Temporarily. They’re letting me work remotely for a few months. Now, all I have to do is find a stable.