This summer felt very long, which makes me worry fall will be short. It’s already getting a little too chilly for long evenings outside. To make this fall last as long as possible, I’ve listed a few things I am doing or want to do to savor the moment.
– Sharing the bed with two snuggly cats.
– Opening all the windows and
– Listening to Chvrches – Buying tons of sweaters. (this and this)
– Drinking dirty chai lattes. My favorite is from Gregory’s. – Also, dark roast coffee.
– Riding horses in the park and
– Taking Long walks listening to podcasts. Have you started Limetown yet?
Would you visit an adult ball pit? When I first heard the U.K. exhibit was coming to NYC, I was thrilled and made a reservation immediately.
Then the date of our reservation rolled around and I started to wonder if it would be lame or if I’d find it boring. I was even feeling a bit embarrassed I dragged my up-for-anything friend to it.
But once I walked into Pearlfisher, the organization hosting the exhibit, I immediately realized this was going to be a blast. The pool was beautiful with 81,000 white balls meant to resemble snow.
Everyone in the pit was smiling and laughing, including my friend, who had the biggest grin on her face.
And that’s really what the exhibit is about – encouraging us to play and have fun without thinking about anything else, just being present and experiencing the pool. Experiencing something new changes your thinking and sparks creativity.
Warning there will be lots of photos of cats and cat-shaped things.
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.
This is an ottoman with a cat bed inside. Brilliant.
Our trip wouldn’t be complete without some excitement.
There was lots of drama over the toys.
Sleeping in the toy box because #yolo.
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!
It was all very cute. And tasty!
The whole cafe was super cute and calming. It had everything you’d find in your favorite coffee shops, plus cats!
Yesterday, the weather was perfect and Ryan and I decided to tackle the West Side Highway. We’ve been saying we would bike it since we moved here. Two years later, I’m wondering what took us so long, because it was a blast.
The West Side highway is part of Manhattan’s Waterfront Greenway. I was a little skeptical about the waterfront aspect, because the waterfront route I take in Brooklyn isn’t on the water, not really. But this route followed the Hudson River and we were on the water the entire time.
I’m always invigorated when I get near water. I was surrounded by it growing up and absolutely love it.
So our bike date started in Brooklyn. We biked over the Manhattan Bridge, through SoHo, and eventually met up with the West Side Highway. It was crowded, of course, but especially so because of Fleet Week. The bike path touches all of the piers and ports. There were a few times when we had to dismount because of the crowd.
Once we got past 55th street, everything cleared up. We made our first stop at a little park (or possibly part of Riverside Park?). I was excited to see some wildlife (always). Baby geese!
I know these babies are going to grow up to be monsters, but they were so cute! And the mama was surprisingly nice and let me get pretty close. Also, we ran into a mallard and his lady. He was looking very handsome.
My grandma instilled a love of mallards in me.
We ended up biking up to 125th street and cut across to eat at Seasoned Vegan in Harlem. After some fried “chicken” and pancakes, we felt fueled enough to head back.
We didn’t have a clear path back to the West Side Bike Path so ended up biking around Morningside Park and then through Riverside Park. After a few miles of biking, we stopped at a helipad to watch a huge helicopter take off. That was a first. Then we continued biking in silence until we stopped at a park south of Chelsea to take pictures of the flowers.
The park had a nice view of the water and downtown. Can you spot Ryan and our bikes?
I love my bike. It’s kind of crappy (it’s a Wal-Mart bike from the 90’s), but it’s been wonderful to me. It’s not fantastic for every-day commuting. It’s slow and weights almost twice as much as Ryan’s bike, even though his bike is much bigger than mine. But I think it’s super cute and fits my personality. I mean, I’m slow, and heavy for my size, and super cute. Right?
We then headed down to South Manhattan to finish our ride biking the southern tip of the peninsula. We were pushed off the trail because of some construction and found this weird stone and plant structure by the water in the Battery.
It turns out it was the Irish Hunger Memorial. I thought it looked really out of place surrounded by hotels and concrete and that’s because it’s designed to reflect the scenery of rural Ireland.
We finished up our trip in Manhattan by going down to Battery City Park. I will not do this again. Sure you can see the Statue of Liberty and all of the ferries, but it’s a nightmare. There are people everywhere and the bike lanes are merged with the pedestrian lanes causing frustration for all. There’s also a lot of construction and confusion as to where the bike lanes are.
The whole trip was almost 29 miles and we were out for about five hours, so we were pretty exhausted by the end. The distance wasn’t as long as our trip on the St. Mark’s trail, but it definitely took a lot longer due to congestion.
During the past couple of days, Ryan and I have really picked up our biking. This ride put us in at around 70 miles this week, which is the most I’ve ever done!
As my last post mentioned, I started a new job and am happily assimilating to a career working and commuting into midtown Manhattan. So what does that mean for me? Well, a lot less free time. Mostly in terms of the long commute, which I try to make the best of, but it still takes almost two hours out of my day.
I’ve been biking to work pretty regularly to stay active. My legs are feeling stronger, but I miss running a lot and am hoping to incorporate a run or two on top of 80 minutes of biking every day.
I’m also struggling to get creative with meals at home. Lately, dinner consists of salads and sandwiches. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted and am not in the mood to cook something elaborate and even less in the mood to set up my mini-photo studio and take pictures of it for the blog.
Which kind of has me thinking about the direction and future of my blog. I’ve thought a lot about incorporating more personal content – something I’ve always been too timid to do. In so many ways, I’m exhausted of the rat race that so often accompanies blogging. I love blogs, and in particular, I love feeling inspired to create new things. But if I create something that isn’t exactly photo worthy, or “pinnable,” I can’t stop questioning “what’s the point?” Even worse, I hate the feeling of failure that I happens when I’ve created something amazing (in my opinion) and it doesn’t get pinned a lot or I don’t get a lot of social hits. This is the dark side of blogging. Your blog’s value sometimes only feels like a metric.
I can’t stop thinking of how I felt when I first started blogging. I miss a lot about who I was and how I blogged at the beginning, back when I used a point-and-shoot with flash all the time and all of my images were blurry (so blurry…sigh…). I didn’t spend nearly as much time on posts. I did what I could with what was available to me – a cheap camera with a built in flash and some dim lighting. Although I wanted to improve (and did, thank god), I didn’t let my perfectionism get in the way. I boldly posted those blurry photos or that terrible photoshopped image and didn’t think twice about who would pin it. Now, on more than one occasion, I’ve done an entire photo shoot and spent hours arduously editing photos before my perfectionism gets the best of me and I end up trashing the entire project. Since I don’t have a strong enough following to promote my content for me, I spend just as much time promoting a post as I do creating its content. Post frequency is down drastically, but quality and engagement has increased tremendously.
But in the beginning, I always felt like I was blogging for me. Or, at the very least, my audience agreed with my notions of “Well, no one has time to spend six hours a day blogging while working a full-time job and juggling fitness, relationships, and mental health.” But now, some of my favorite blogs are the ones with entire teams and studios, and I feel like I’ll never be able to attract people with my puny blog. Does anyone else feel this way?
Even now, I think to myself, what type of image should accompany this post? And the thought crossed my mind (I’m sure you’ve seen this on Pinterest) of some moody background image with the words “The Dark Side of Blogging.” That’s just not me or my brand.
Lately, maybe because I’ve been spending so much time writing at a computer, I’ve been journaling voraciously with a pen and paper. In general, I’m finding I need to spend more time away from computer and phone screens. This includes spending much less time on social media. Self-promotion has always been hard for me. And since the thought of visiting Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest is something I am absolutely uninterested in, you might see fewer interactions on the social front. It upsets me that this feels so much like blog suicide, or worse, giving up. It shouldn’t be that way.
Do you know any bloggers who have great blogs and a successful following, but don’t have a social media presence? Please share them with me.
As far as the state of the blog goes, Ryan worked to make the DIY and recipe pages easier to navigate. Now, you can see everything in that category all on a single page accompanied by an icon. I’ve also added a “travel and adventures” category to my menu. Without visiting new places and seeing new things, my life would be incomplete.
I wanted to share a few photos of our Saturday Trip to Finback Brewery in Queens.
The weather was nice, the beer was solid, and the light was gorgeous. I had to take out my camera.
One of the worst things about winter is the light. It’s partially why a lot of my blogging slows down in the winter. I hate struggling to find good shots when everything seems dark and grey. It takes a lot longer to shoot and even longer to edit, since I’m such a perfectionist. One of my major criticisms about my blog photos is they’re all pretty dark. I’m building a lightbox/lightroom setup to combat that, but since I’m DIYing it (naturally) it’s taking some time.
But back to the beer. I was obsessed with the brewery’s logo. When my friends suggested we go to the brewery, I went to the website and saw their logo and immediately was in. What can I say? I wish all sea animals could be my friend. Plus, of course, I just liked the design.
Finback self-distributes in NYC only. We sampled all of their beers and they were all very good. Their wit beer was one of the best I’ve ever had. Most of the group agreed that “comforting” was the best way to describe their beers. I could sip them all day.
My favorites were the Double Sess(ion) wit beer and the Starchild sour (photographed below). They had a huge selection of IPAs, black and reds, but sadly, I’m not an IPA fan.
If you’re in New York or Queens, it’s a little off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit.
I’ve taken quite a long break from blogging as I embarked on a few changes this past month.
(Photo of Ryan and me on our six-year anniversary)
I’m excited to announce that I’ve been offered a communications position at an incredible company. I left my old job a few weeks ago and have taken some time off. I didn’t talk a lot about my old job on the blog, but it was incredibly draining and wearing me down. I knew for a while it wasn’t a good fit. I felt like I couldn’t make things happen, which is really important to me, and eventually started losing confidence in my abilities, especially as I interviewed and applied for other positions. I’ve always considered myself very employable, but New York’s scene is highly competitive. I promised myself I wouldn’t compromise on my salary and my criteria for my next job, so it ended up taking months to find something.
Eventually it all paid off! I was offered a manager’s position (a promotion!) at one of the best companies to work for in NYC. I can tell immediately that this is a much better fit. The interview process itself was refreshing. I was challenged and critiqued in ways that I never was at my old position. I’m excited to learn, grow, and thrive and hopefully it will carry over in other aspects of my life. Career success has always been very important to me. Knowing that I wasn’t thriving in my old position really affected other aspects of my life and left me depressed and unmotivated.
Anyway, I start Wednesday.
This past month, I haven’t been motivated to take any photos. I fell into a creative rut with any and all photography. Everytime I look at my iphone photos and instagram, I am disappointed. I’m sure the cold, snowy days had something to do with it. Taking photos of white and grey things grew tiring and with the short days, it’s hard to get any natural light.
In early March, Ryan and I took a trip down to Philadelphia to see a Punch Brothers concert. The concert was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, as we left the venue, it was starting to snow. Philly was hit by a terrible snowstorm that shut the city down. Our bus back was cancelled and we ended up staying another night in our AirBnB. Not a lot was open, except a bar or two, so Ryan and I walked through a few feet of falling snow to grab a some drinks. Then we walked back to our rental and snuggled up for the night. It wasn’t all that bad. It was good to get away, to be snowed in, and really only have each other to focus on. The only photo I took in Philly was of this very snowy historic graveyard.
We also took a trip with a Meetup group to visit the Lakota Wolf Preservation in New Jersey. They had the usual cast of wolf packs: arctic, timber, and British Columbia wolves; along with red foxes and bobcats! Of course, I forgot my DSLR, so I am stuck with iPhone photos.
(just taking a nap)
All animals were healthy and happy with a good amount of space to roam, which is always great to see. I love most wildlife, but wolves usually make the top of the list. This isn’t the first wolf preservation I’ve visited. When I lived in Florida, we had an incredible time at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve, where I got to play with wolf puppies!
We followed the Wolf Preserve with a visit to a local winery for a very cheap and delicious wine tasting. They have two wines dedicated to the wolf preservation and all profits from those two wines are donated to the wolves.
Since I’ve had some time off in between jobs, I’ve spent the sunnier days visiting parks and the colder days at museums. I took a trip to the Museum of Arts and Design to see the Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin exhibit. We see mannequins every day, and it’s interesting to remind ourselves that someone designed these. These mannequins serve a purpose beyond holding clothes. They are meant to evoke emotions and convince shoppers that their face and body belong with that dress or shirt. Ralph Pucci did some great work and really broke away from the standard faceless mannequin stereotype.
During these few weeks off, I’ve been reading nonstop. It’s amazing I’m even leaving the house. I’ve already finished three books this month, and it’s not even half over. I expect this pace to slow down, but I hope it doesn’t.
I’m spending the last of my unemployed days in Florida visiting my family. It’s nice to see them, but of course I miss Ryan and the kitties like mad. I’ll be back in a few days to give them all plenty of kisses.
This past week was a busy one. We got a lot of snow and it was below freezing for much of the week, so navigating even the simple everyday tasks has been challenging. I’m in desperate need of clean laundry, but with the weather like it is, nothing gets done until you reach desperate level.
On Tuesday, Ryan and I ventured out to the theater district to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I knew almost nothing about the show, but wanted to catch it while Michael C. Hall was still playing the lead. It was fantastic. I thought the show had a lot of energy, even though the audience seemed asleep (probably all in winter comas). We got day-of tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square, which is always a crapshoot. But I was thrilled when the only tickets they had available were 3rd row! I was sitting so close, I could see Michael C. Hall’s smoothly waxed…well, everything.
Wednesday was when my week took a turn for the worst. But first, I’ll start out with the positive. I got my hair dyed by my stylist friend at the salon where she apprentices. She did beautiful hand-painted highlights and it was only $30! If you are interested in getting high-end work done at a professional salon at a steep discount, definitely schedule an appointment with an apprentice. She recommends salonapprentice.com. If you’re in the New York area, email me and I’ll give you her name.
Now on to the negative. My skin had a terrible allergic reaction to the dye she used and my face broke out in a horrible red, itchy rash. I pretty much cancelled all of my plans for the rest of the week and sat inside eating ice cream and moping over episodes of New Girl. Fortunately, it was snowy and freezing out, so I didn’t feel like I was missing much.
On Thursday, I went on a run and locked myself out of the house. Fantastic.
On Friday, I had to venture out of the house with my ruddy, bumpy face to the Brooklyn Brainery. Ryan bought me a loom weaving class as a Christmas gift. I learned how to dress a loom and somewhat mastered a few weaving techniques. I’ve been interested in loom weaving for years, but have always been intimidated. Now I’m seeing weaved pieces everywhere, it seems like everyone is doing it. I can’t wait to create my own.
Speaking of looms, if you follow me on facebook or instagram, you may have noticed that I’ve picked up another hobby – loom knitting. For those of you who can’t knit or crochet (me!), I definitely recommend loom knitting. It’s very simple and, most importantly, quick. I don’t have the patience to spend days killing my fingers knitting a 3-foot-long scarf that doesn’t even look that good. But with loom knitting, you can knit a hat in just a matter of hours. Hours! And it looks wonderful. I made Ryan a hat for Christmas and this week I finished my own. I followed this pattern for both hats.
On Saturday, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or maybe it was just the renovations that are going on upstairs. Everything that could go wrong, did. It’s not that interesting of a story, just a ton of small things building on each other to put me in a bad mood, but the highlights were a broken phone, dropping my french fries all over the floor at lunch, and having a CO2 tank explode in my living room. I’m glad that day is over.
We ended the week on a positive note by inviting some friends over for board games. It feels like my weekend flew by and I’m definitely not ready for today to be Monday. But oh well. Here’s to hoping the laundry gets done today.
PS. Thursday is my two-year anniversary for living in NYC!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hey everyone! Instead of sharing a Weekender today, I’ve got something even better – a new site design!
Can you believe in the four years (four!!) that I’ve been blogging, I’ve never hired anyone to re-design my site? I used to dabble in web design and as a DIYer, well, I tried to do it myself. It didn’t always turn out so great. So, I was thrilled to hire Jaime to give A Week from Thursday a much needed face lift. I love her work and the new design. Jaime is a long-time friend, a wonderful person, and amazing food blogger. Check her out.
If you’re reading this post on a feed reader, head over to the site to take a look at her awesome work.
I’ve got even better news for you social media fiends out there. AWFT finally has a Facebook page. It was inevitable and a long time coming, I suppose. I personally don’t have a Facebook account, so that caused a big delay. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that most of my traffic comes from Facebook when I don’t even have a page of my own.