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?
On what must have been the sunniest day of the year, Ryan and I hopped on our bikes to celebrate summer with incredible food, ferry rides, and goats, of course.
We pedaled down to South Brooklyn to the piers, where Smorasburg is held. Smorgasburg is a giant food bizarre with more than 100 vendors offering New York’s city’s finest food served under a tent. It’s truly incredible. And it just keeps getting bigger. The New York Times described it as “the Woodstock of eating,” which seems about right. Shoes are not required.
Visiting Smorgasburg is one of Ryan’s and my favorite things to do during the summer. I wrote about another trip here. This beautiful water tower overlooked the event. You can see the white tops of the food tents in this photo.
We picked up some vegan fare at the ‘burg from Chickpea & Olive. Their jackfruit pulled “pork” sandwich hit the spot.
We ran into my neighbor and ate lunch with her and her friends. They were also heading to Govenors Island.
After a quick jaunt to snag some vegan ice cream we we headed over to Pier 6 to board the ferry with our bikes. There were so many people bringing their bikes on the ferry! I love seeing a popular bike community.
Fun fact: This photo was taken probably seconds before I broke a spoke and almost ruined the trip for us. Thank god there was Citibike on the island, so you don’t even have to bring your own bike! They also have independent bike rentals.
Here’s the South Manhattan view from the ferry.
Govenors Island has a rich American history, serving as an important location in the American Revolution and the Civil War. It has more recently been occupied and then abandoned by the Coast Guard, leaving it with tons of shut down buildings that look like this:
Now it’s open for public use and it’s a great place to ride bikes with no cars! We made a few loops on our bikes and stopped at the shore to snap a photo of the lovely view of the Statue of Liberty.
Because I can’t resist a good farm, or any farm at all, we headed over to the urban farm to check out what they’re growing.
It’s a teaching garden, which educates public school kids on urban farming. There were lots of kids there helping plant seeds and till the soil.
This one even had livestock! Do you know how hard it is to take a photo of a chicken? They never stand still.
They also had some very sweet goats. I think I was more excited about them than the kids.
My gosh, how cute. Those eyelashes!
When someone first suggested that we visit Governor’s Island, we heard – and didn’t believe – that you could walk goats on a leash. It’s totally true!
Sadly, we missed the goat walk, but I definitely need to make this happen.
The island was lined with food trucks, so we stopped for some ice cream, took another lap on the bikes, and made our way home on one of the last ferry’s out.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
And of course, sampling the apples is our favorite part of the farmer’s market.
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.
We also took our bikes out for a loop around Prospect Park. When we got back, we ate some of Ryan’s homemade bread.
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?
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.
This is one of my favorite photos I’ve taken with my iPhone.
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?
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the dip candle workshop at the Brooklyn Brainery. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Brainery, it’s a Brooklyn gem that hosts all sorts of classes ranging from d.i.y., cooking, history lessons, financial education, and many other topics. They even taught me how to use my DSLR camera!
The workshop itself was a lot of fun. Our fabulous teacher, Jessica Kaufman (above), was a pro at dip candles and she gave us the rundown. We learned a bit of history, technique, and how to make patterns with the wax.
After about ten minutes of introduction, we got right to work. The format of the class is engaging and hands-on. In two hours we received instruction and technique, then spent the rest of class socializing while dipping our candles. At the end of the class we walked away with a finished product and a new skill.
Dip candles are remarkably easy to make. If you’re at all interested, there are great tutorials on Youtube and the equipment costs are low. The basic process requires dipping a wick into a pot of melted wax in a double-boiler.
Wait a few seconds for the wax on your wick to cool slightly, then dip it back into the wax. You do this multiple times until you build the shape and pattern you’re looking for.
They start off small, but eventually grow in size as you add more wax.
At the end you walk away with absolutely unique tapered candles.
What do you think? Is it something you’d try? If you’re in the New York area, be sure to check out the Brainery!
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.
There were so many creative pumpkin carvings. I really had to control myself with the photos. Sorry for the image overload.
They had a pumpkin mushroom patch. How cute is that? You know how much I love mushrooms.
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.
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.
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.
And the rose garden was blooming! How lucky were we?
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.
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.
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.
I had pupusas with pickled cabbage from Solber Pupusas. Holy yum! Next time I’m in Red Hook, I’m heading here.
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.
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.
We also rode the ferry up to Williamsburg, to peruse the flea market.
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.
I 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.
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?