brooklyn labor day weekend

I know the weekend isn’t quite over, but I thought I’d share some photos of the weekend so far. I went to three of NYC’s bigger parks this weekend – Central Park, Prospect Park and my local park Fort Greene, which is pretty small compared to the other two. It makes me want to make a trip out to the larger parks up north and in Queens.

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Ryan and I woke up on Sunday morning and made our way over to the farmer’s market in Fort Greene. I decided to bring my camera and consequently get in everyone’s way as I snapped photos, but I’m glad I did. Everything was vibrant and plump.

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My gosh, the heirloom tomatoes. The farms cut up slices of each variety and you can try them all. It’s better than free sample day at Publix.

There are so many varieties of heirloom tomatoes I would never know which ones to pick. Hawaiian pineapple? That’s a tomato breed!

Tomatos 2.jpg

And of course, sampling the apples is our favorite part of the farmer’s market.

Apples.jpg

After visiting our CSA farm last weekend and seeing the flower fields, I’ve been obsessed with flowers. I couldn’t help but snap a few photos.

Flowers.jpg

We also took our bikes out for a loop around Prospect Park. When we got back, we ate some of Ryan’s homemade bread.

Bread.jpg

We piled generous slices with the tomatoes, thick mozzarella, and homemade basil pesto. We paired it with a glass of wine and I took a nice long carb and wine-induced nap.

The next morning I embarked to Manhattan for a long hike through Central Park with the Appalachian Mountain Club. The guide knew an incredible amount about the park and I’m glad I went with someone who knew where we were going.

The park is huge and I rarely venture off the main paths. It’s possible to get lost, even though you’re in the middle of the city! I mean, who knew there was a waterfall?

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Some parts of the park are so secluded. It was nice to feel alone in a town where everyone lives right on top of each other.

Central Park 1.jpg

This is one of my favorite photos I’ve taken with my iPhone.

Central Park

For the rest of today, I’m going to get a few projects done around the house and snuggle up with the cats and The Goldfinch. It’s a great book, but I feel like I’ve been reading it for months. I’m ready to move on to another book. I think I have about 100 pages left.

What about you? What are you reading? Did you do anything fun for the weekend?

summer break

summer-breakHey friends. I’m taking a bit of a summer break from blogging. It’s just too beautiful outside to spend all of my time in front of a computer. I’ll be back in the fall, which is my favorite season and my favorite time to blog anyway.  I hope everyone has a good summer!

p.s. The photo above is taken from a hike along the Hudson a few weeks ago. So pretty!

lovely spring weekend

This past weekend was the first weekend I didn’t worry about getting things done around the house since we’ve moved. My parents came to visit and we spent out time exploring the city and taking it all in.  In a lot of ways, it was as if I was seeing the city for the first time. Winter was so long and grey. Then I wasted the first bits of  Spring in Uhauls and unpacking boxes. Walking through Brooklyn I was taken aback by how green everything was.

Flowers

I had some great adventures with my parents. We saw the 9/11 memorial and headed to the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum (absolutely recommend).  Of course, we stopped by the Museum of Natural History, which is my favorite place on Earth. On a foggy day, we walked over the Brooklyn bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge

After they left, I decided I needed some serious “me time.” I booked a two-hour long trail ride out in Long Island on the Old Westbury trails through Big River Barn.

horse Riding

Isn’t he the most handsome? I can only afford to ride once or twice a month, but I think this might be the barn for me. It’s only a 45 min. train ride away.  They focus on horsemanship, which works on communicating with horses by becoming familiar with their behaviors, instincts, and personality. So, I won’t be doing work in the ring, but I will get to experience what it’s like to be on a horse outside of a ring, so it’s a bit more practical.

I still feel very much like a beginner, so I appreciate any time on a horse. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is making sure the horse is comfortable and we’re both having fun.

horse riding

At some point, I hope to get back in a ring, but I’m not sure that’s feasible for me in NYC. This was my first trail ride, and it’s completely different from anything I’ve done before – running up hills and down valleys, through trails with fallen trees, and being the only people around for miles.

horse riding

Isn’t he just the most handsome?

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.

New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon Recap

I completed my second half-marathon! This time was a bit slower than my first one, but I felt better about this one overall. I was in good spirits the whole time, despite a rocky start that morning. So much of running is mental.

We traveled down to New Orleans for this race and rented a house for the weekend. I had two days in a row where I had to wake up before 5 a.m. (including race day), so I was mostly exhausted and worried about how that would affect my run. Since our rental house was about 4 miles from the start line, we scheduled to have a cab pick us up at 5:45 that morning. When it didn’t show up, we panicked and called every cab company around, they were all booked. Luckily, a good Samaritan saved the day and packed all six of us in his small car and drove us to the start line. We had just a few minutes to spare. There wasn’t any time for group photos, so I had someone take a picture of me while I was waiting to cross the start line.

Here we go!

There were more than 10,000 people running the half-marathon, so I actually had about a half an hour to spare. My corral was toward the back, meaning I’m slow and I was one of the last groups to cross the start line. You can see in this picture all of the people ahead of me in my corral. The starting line was about 1/4 mile ahead of this.

New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon

After waiting for the other corrals to cross, I could finally see the starting line and was ready to go!

Rock n Roll Start Line

It was a beautiful run down the historic streets of New Orleans. I loved seeing the Southern trees and houses with wrap-around porches. I miss the Southern aesthetic so much sometimes. The race itself was really wet. It was very humid (I don’t miss that about the South) and, at times, rainy. The roads were a little slick at some points too.

I was excited for the bands that the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series is famous for, but they were a bit of a let down. There weren’t a lot of them and there weren’t even people standing around watching them, which is what I hoped for. I guess it’s hard to find a race where people cheer you on the entire way, but there were parts of the race where we didn’t have any spectators. At those points, you really have to rely on your internal motivation to get you through the run.

Finishing was, of course, the best part. My friends were waiting for me and Ryan was there.

Finishers! I’m so glad that Ryan and I did the race together.

Post-Race Selfie

After we finished, we cheered on the marathoners while I enjoyed my post-race free beer.

Free Beer

I run for free beer, of course.

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!

new year’s recap: last year and this year

Each year on this blog, I take a look back at my life and the goals I’ve made for myself.  It’s refreshing, since, as I’ve mentioned before, I do get caught up in the day to day, and it’s hard to see how my life has progressed.

This year has been a particularly rough one. It was hard to look at my 2012 recap and read about how happy 2012 was for me, knowing 2013 didn’t compare. But 2013 was a year of change, and people aren’t necessarily happy during times of change. I know everything I went through this year was for the best and I feel like things are on the upswing.

New York Trains

This year, I left my home and friends in Tallahassee and moved to New York with Ryan. (My one-year NYC anniversary is next week!)

Career-wise, it was certainly a challenging year. I worked as a temp for a long time, which made me feel like I was just out of college again. The job market in NYC is rough and super-competitive. I faced a lot of rejection. I eventually got a full-time job that lets me work from home. So, it’s pretty exciting and it’s a relief to be going into the new year with some job security.

This has also been a challenging year for me and Ryan as we figured out who we are in this new environment. We grew and adjusted to New York in different ways, which wasn’t always easy. And we also leaned on each other more than ever, since we had fewer friends and a less than stellar social life in our new home. Although a lot changed around us, I think we’re still the same people at our core. We’re both really driven and talk about the future a lot. We were also really patient with each other as we figured things out. I am so thankful we’re capable of this type of patience and understanding.

Bronx Botanical Garden

As for this blog, well, I did a pretty terrible job at keeping up with it. I don’t know if I’ll be any better about it next year, but it’s still fun to have around and I’m pretty proud of all of the work I’ve put into it.

Hiking in the Catskills Mountains

2013 Recap

(You can view my 2013 resolutions here.)

In 2013 I:

  • Moved to New York City.
  • Lived in three different apartments.
  • Got a new job after a brief stint of unemployment.
  • I went sledding for the first time
  • Went camping three times and did actual mountain hikes, which are totally different from Florida hikes (the picture above is from one of these hikes)
  • Took too many months off from exercising, but picked it back up.
  • Opened a Roth IRA
  • Embroidered some, cross-stitched more.
  • Ate some of the best food of my life (Smorgasburg!)
  • Learned how to use my DSLR.
  • Met lots of new people.
  • Ran a total of 243 miles
  • Took far too many pictures of my cats.
  • Did some incredible New York things like visited the MoMa Rain Room, walked through tons of gardens and parks, and saw Macbeth on Broadway.
  • Gained a few pounds, but eventually lost them.
  • Sort-of redesigned my blog.
  • Continued taking monthly pictures with Ryan, mostly.
  • Cooked a lot, shopped at the farmer’s market often, and signed up for a CSA.
  • Signed up to complete a half-marathon in Feb. 2014 and started my training.
It feels really good to see all of those things I did last year.

Looking Forward in 2014

It’s hard for me to envision what 2014 will look like, because 2013 was just unlike anything I could possibly have expected. I do think my adjustment period is over and overall things are looking up. I hope to get a lot more done in 2014.
In 2014 I will:
  • Learn a new language (my first class is Wednesday!)
  • Run a half-marathon, hopefully two.
  • Visit a New England state I’ve never been to.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Ride horses again.
  • Celebrate holidays (Ryan and I sucked at this in 2013)
  • Document more – on the blog, my private journal, instagram, and in my food/exercise journal on myfitnesspal.
  • Practice kindness.

carved pumpkin inspiration – Haunted Pumpkin Garden

I am such a sucker for a good carved pumpkin. So much so, that I dragged Ryan and my sister to the New York Botanical Garden to see their Haunted Pumpkin Garden. It was a two hour trip, one way. Talk about commitment

Haunted Pumpkin Garden Carved Pumpkins

I soon realized that the Haunted Pumpkin Garden was a children’s exhibit – I guess when I think Haunted, I thought adult, but it didn’t spoil the fun. Haunted Pumpkin Garden

There were so many creative pumpkin carvings. I really had to control myself with the photos. Sorry for the image overload.

Friendly Carved Pumpkin

Sun-Shaped Carved Pumpkin - NY Botanical Gardens

Carved Pumpkins

They had a pumpkin mushroom patch. How cute is that? You know how much I love mushrooms.

Mushrooms Made out of Pumpkins

Mushrooms made out of Pumpkins

This exhibit was produced with the help of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. They sanction all of those giant pumpkin contests. They’ll be displaying the world’s three largest pumpkins in Grand Central.  I couldn’t get a date, but I’ll be sure to keep a look out. It should be soon.

Spider made from Pumpkins

Snake Pumpkin

So, if it isn’t obvious, all of the pumpkins are fake, When I realized that, it was sort of like telling me there is no Santa Clause. I guess it makes sense. The pumpkins have to sit out for more than a month. Regardless, the entire exhibit was still magical.

Scarecrow Pumpkins

Spooky Bush

The gardens themselves are stunning. They have paved paths and more rustic trails, which are great for taking a stroll or going on a run. The Bronx river even runs through it, so we walked along the water for a while and tried our skills at tree identification (our new hobby). It was hard to believe we were still in the city.

Waterfall

And the rose garden was blooming! How lucky were we?

NY Botanical Garden Rose

Ryan and I in the Rose Garden

The quiet paths and Autumn’s trees were exactly what I needed on a Sunday. Even waiting for the train ride home seemed peaceful and magical at dusk.

Train at Dusk

horse riding adventures in the Northeast

I was back in the saddle, guys! And it was perfect.

Horse Riding Adventures

I missed riding so much. It’s been five days and my saddle sores still haven’t healed and I don’t care! My last ride was more than six months ago and it was a horrible experience.  (I only briefly mentioned it here.) I stopped riding regularly back in December. I still am facing challenges getting to a ranch for lessons. It’s mostly my lack of money and lack of access to a car.

This horse’s name is Hudson and he was such a sweet guy. I rode at My Saddle Brook Farm, and I highly recommend them. They were nice people, encouraging trainers, and had happy horses. Also, they were the lowest price in the area for a private lesson. They’re located about an hour and a half outside of Brooklyn.

Before I mounted Hudson, I was shaking with the fear of my last ride. But once I got in the ring, everything started coming back. It was seriously like riding a bike. My legs were a lot weaker, but I was still able to get in a decent amount of trotting. Hudson was a patient horse for putting up with my rusty maneuvers. Thanks Hudson!

And it was a gorgeous day for riding. I couldn’t have asked for a better day in the foothills of the mountains.

Horse Riding in Walden, NY

brooklyn summer weekends

It’s tempting to wait out these hot summer days in my air conditioned room, but for the past few weekends I have been entertaining guests. So we’ve endeavored up and down Brooklyn and enjoyed the sunburns that come with soaking up the last days of summer. Here are a few photos of our adventures. Some of them you might recognize from my instagram.

I took my guests to DUMBO for Smorgasburg, an amazing outdoor food market under the Brooklyn Bridge. The food served is some of Brooklyn’s finest. It’s right on the water and you have a nice view of Manhattan.

Under the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

And needless to say, the food is incredible. Here are a few poorly snapped photos of what we were eating.

Ryan is devout to the fried chicken and cheddar waffles. He gets them every time.

Fried Chicken and Waffles

I had pupusas with pickled cabbage from Solber Pupusas. Holy yum! Next time I’m in Red Hook, I’m heading here.

Pupusas

Since it’s so hot, there are a lot of refreshments. I had a strawberry basil lemonade. Ryan always goes for kombucha at Kombucha Brooklyn.

Kombucha

We’ve also had doughnuts, iced coffee, sweet potato tater tots, and a variety of sweets. They have a vendor who only sells giant black and white cookies. I think that’s next on my list.

After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, we walk the Brooklyn Bridge and headed down to the Summer Streets festival, where they close some of the roads in Manhattan. Here’s our obligatory picture on the bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge

We also rode the ferry up to Williamsburg, to peruse the flea market.

Ferry Ride

During the Summer Streets, we hopped over to the Lower East Side to visit New Beer Distributors. We were stunned with their overwhelming selection of craft brews. It felt like we were there for an hour before we finally made our decisions.

Aisles of BeerI took my friend Baker on a walk through Prospect Park, where we got caught in the rain. We took shelter in the beautiful tunnel there. I thought it was romantic. He thought it was a creepy tunnel.

Prospect Park Tunnel

And when my friend Amy was here, we soaked up some rays and dipped our feet in the Washington Square Park fountain. It was so refreshing. Also, it was the first time I have ever been barefoot in NYC. Gross, huh?

New York has some great things to do in the Summer, but I’m pretty excited for Fall. Once it gets a little cooler, I want to take a bike ride to Central Park with Ryan. I always feel like Fall is “my season.” What about you? Do you have a season that you absolutely love?