January 31, 2012

So this is what wedding planning stress feels like...

I basically spent all weekend bundled inside looking at wedding blogs, wedding colors, wedding magazines, wedding cake, wedding dresses, wedding websites, wedding videos...well you get the picture. Fortunately the wedding isn't until late 2013 (all part of my master plan...don't worry, I'll reveal that eventually) so we have time and my twin sis loves planning weddings :).

The best part of this planning process stress is knowing that I'll be be marrying my handsome guy by the sea and under the sun in Mexico! We'll be gettin' hitched in a small fishing town and at the same hotel (see below!) I stayed at when I was 4 years old...when they had monkeys and lions roaming around the hotel (no really!)...its a fave among my family and I still order pina coladas from the same bartender who served me virgin pina coladas ones when I was 4! (Confession: I still love virgin pina coladas, now I just take my rum on the side...)

Family, friends, sand in our toes and tequila...I mean what else do we need? For now, I'll keep staring at this picture to alleviate the wedding stress...so far, it's working :)

January 30, 2012

New York, now I'm Obsessed with You, your Bagels and your Outdoor Movies!

Two words: ABSOLUTE BAGEL. We didn’t find this yummy bagel spot until one of our last days in NYC but we managed to squeeze in two breakfasts here. Christian went for a sesame bagel with chive cream cheese and me (aka garlic queen) got a garlic bagel with toasted garlic and herb cream cheese—YUM! I have tried to find bagels equally as delicious in Amsterdam, but no dice, even at Amsterdam’s Tony’s NYC Bagel place...still satisfies the craving but never fully keeps the craving at bay! Awwww boo hoo...last 2 days in NYC! We were having such a great time and its already time to leave!? Well we were only 2 days away from me attending my sister’s bachelorette party and Christian attending her (now) husband’s bachelor shindig, so we had things to look forward to. 

On our last full day we went down to the site of the World Trade Center to pay our respects to the victims who lost their lives 9/11. No matter how many years go by, the thought of the terror of what happened on that day always leaves me so emotional...so visiting the church near ground zero strewn with artifacts on the walls left me gushing with tears. RIP brave souls :(. Christian lifted my spirits by singing the Ghostbusters theme song over and over and over...so we wandered over the firehouse from the Ghostbusters movie...Christian was like a little kid on Christmas morning...he loved it! A friend told me about place that was not to be missed-The Highline. Highline Park is an old elevated freight yard converted into a modern, flowery garden. There are places to lounge around, grab a shaved ice or popsicle (I went for the mango & chili one!) and be lifted above the streets of Manhattan.

Christian loves the show The Big Bang Theory so he was dying to visit a real American comic book store. We decided to take one last look at Times Square en route to Midtown Comics...Christian was a happy camper—Ghostbusters AND comic books all within one hour? I think this is when he started saying he could easily live in NYC for a year...hahaha. Well now it was my turn...that night, our LAST night in NYC was a movie in the warm open air at Bryant Park! We capped off our excellent long weekend in NYC laying in the grass watching a pre-showing of Looney Tunes and enjoying Cool Hand Luke while the sun set with the twinkling lights of the city all around us...this is why I love outdoor movies! After a Chinatown dinner of chow mein and the most delicious fried potstickers I’ve ever had, our 5 days in NYC came to an end. Although this was our first trip to NYC together, we both agreed that it would most certainly be the first of many return visits...NYC is too magical to resist!

January 28, 2012

New York, I really, really Love you!

Our next two days in The Big Apple started in and around Central Park. We were exhausted from walking the day before so we tried to keep it a little bit relaxed but I’m a wanderer, when I’m on the go, I just go!! And Christian was pretty excited to make use of his Foursquare check-ins. We strolled through Central Park and into the Museum of Natural History just in time before the heat of summer set upon the city and we simultaneously got our fix of dino bones and ancient artifacts. We’re not museum people but we loved the Museum of Natural History. This is a place not to be missed! Once we stepped out of the museum...what was going on outside? ANOTHER STREET MARKET..hehehe. This time it was a Farmers Market and ofcourse I had to take a walk around.Christian finally managed to peel me away from the food stalls and we caught the subway to Brooklyn where I finally got to introduce him to the wonderful world of food trucks. He’d seen them on TV before but never actually experienced—I grabbed a taco and he scarfed down a hot dog...maybe 2 hot dogs actually :). 

Walking back across the Brooklyn Bridge towards lower Manhattan was definitely one of Christian’s most favorite parts of the long weekend and I must say the views are amazing! As the days closed in on us, we still squeezed in a wander around Wall Street, a trip on the Circle Line with views of all of Manhattan’s burrows (& of Lady Liberty herself! My Irish ancestors DID pass through here long ago!), enjoyed the music of a baby grand piano right in Washington Square Park and stopped in Greenwich Village for dinner. I love risotto...I’m actually OBSESSED with risotto so you can imagine my delight when I saw that The Village was home to a place called the Risotteria..excuuuse me? RISOTTERIA?! SOLD! Risotto with sun-dried tomatoes, gruyere, and arugula? Yes please :)...
Risotteria in Greenwich Village = a very happy girl :)

January 25, 2012

New York, I Love You

This Friday I’ll be saying ‘au revoir!’ to my current job and start a new job next week. The company I’ll be working for is a world-wide entertainment company with their headquarters based right in Manhattan...to say I’m excited is an understatement!! Although I’ll be working at their Amsterdam office and not in NYC, I couldn’t help but think about our trip to NYC 6 months ago. When Christian and I fly to California for a visit, we always try to see if we can squeeze in a few day’s layover somewhere so we can make a quick city trip of it—well this time we decided to stop in ‘New Amsterdam’ (NYC was founded by the Dutch! Christian was excited to reclaim his city..silly Dutchman) for 5 days before we went to Cali for my twin sister’s wedding. Summer in NYC was HOT, but so fun, with an endless list of outdoorsy things to do in the summer. 

Fortunately, jetlag meant our first couple of days in New York started at the crack of dawn...we hit the streets and made it to a diner before 7AM! Because of the astronomical prices of hotels in NYC, we decided to use AirBnB for the first time (we'll be using it again to rent an apartment in Lisbon this summer) and it was a decision we most certainly did not regret! AirBnB is a cool concept, people can rent out spare apartments or rooms to avid travellers looking for a little touch of home-iness instead of a hotel...its also a great chance to meet the locals. We had a pretty affordable room in a super cute apartment of a German expat living one block away from Central Park—the location was perfect and thanks so this guy’s apartments, I seriously want black and white stripped walls with red accents and photos of Audrey Hepburn in our future home :). After breakfast we picked up a booklet of New York City Passes and let the full-fledged tourist side of NYC take over—Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Little Italy, Times Square...we did some serious walking that first day! I’m a FREAK for street markets so I dragged Christian around the Hell’s Kitchen Street Market for a lil looksy. After he spotted some old boxing gloves and some good ol’ Amuuuurrrrrican license plates, he got a bit closer to understanding why street markets are AWESOME because of the random loot on display (see babe! Told ya street markets are cool!).

We retreated from the heat of high noon with a super delicious ham, cheddar and pear chutney panini from 'wichcraft in Bryant Park—which was by far the place we visited most. Bryant Park is small and cozy but has so much to offer—yoga, interpretive dance, ping pong, chess, children’s book readings, a couple little cafes, twinkly lights strung in the streets and my ultimate favorite OUTDOOR MOVIES in the summer. We couldn’t stay TOO long at Bryant Park that day since we had a date with Grand Central, Central Park and Little Italy for dinner, but don’t you worry Bryant Park, we’ll be back :)...we were back pretty quick--we decided to stop by Bryant Park for a beer in the park before bedtime. Oh and NYC and its numerous cupcake bakeries are EVIL...I liked the miniest cupcakes ever at Baked by Melissa..the tie-dye and peanut butter and jelly mini cupcakes were delicious! And the cookies & cream one, and the peanut butter cup one and the red velvet...ah hell, all of them were sinfully good!
Hammy, cheesy, chutney deliciousness at 'wichcraft, Bryant Park
Miniest cupcakes ever!!
Mass crowds at the newly opened Apple store on 5th Ave.
We hopped over to Brooklyn to check out the Video Game Film Festival...
Nightcap in Bryant Park