Monday, January 20, 2014

{Uptown Swirl}

This past weekend, some friends & I went to the "Uptown Swirl" in downtown Brenham.  You walk from store to store and sample a variety wines.  There were 29 stops, 50+ wines and even live music at the courthouse square.  I mean, what could be better than shopping, drinking wine & spending an evening with great friends?!?  We had a blast!  If you didn't go this year, definitely make plans to go next year!! 
After 4 hours of wine sampling & supper, we ended the night at The Kenney Store.  Here are a few pics...

Living in a small town definitely has it's disadvantages at times, but I really do love it here. This weekend was a perfect example why.  I honestly can't see myself living anywhere else.  My friends & family are here.  My job is here.  As much as I love traveling to NYC, Chicago, & Washington DC - I think Brenham, Texas will always be where I call home! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

{It's Christmas time in the city...}

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!  It's hard to believe 2013 is over already.  It was a pretty eventful year...I sold my first house & moved back in with my parents in May.  Can you believe it's been over 7 months already?? And that we haven't killed each other yet?!? =)  Just kidding.  Besides the 20 minute drive, it really hasn't been that bad.  But, I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting the start of my new house {which is taking WAY longer than I anticipated}.  Hopefully construction will begin in February & I will be moved in no later than June or July.  I told them I was moving in then - finished or not!! 
I ended 2013 on a fabulous note with my trip to NYC!!  This was my 7th time there.  People always ask why we keep going back year after year & it's simple: because we LOVE it!!   There is so much to see & do and the city is simply magical at Christmas time.
Most trips consist of myself, my friend/coworker Brenda, and her daughter Taurie.  This year, Taurie was going with her boyfriend Tanner & his family {their trip overlapped ours} so we grabbed a new travel buddy - Lisa.  This was her first time to go to NYC so we spent most of our time seeing all the usual "tourist" sites of NYC.  Let me just say, Lisa got her money's worth out of this trip because she saw almost EVERYTHING.  We went nonstop for 5 days straight.  But, it was worth every mile walked {and I am certain we walked at least 50} & hour of sleep lost because we had a blast!
Since I am about to start building my new house, there most likely won't be a trip to NYC this year. So, when this December rolls around, I'll just have to look back at the pictures & pretend I am there.  Thankfully I took LOTS {you are shocked, I know}, so I figured it would be best to recap our trip by day.  So, be prepared for picture overload.  =)

{NYC 2013: Day 1}

Early morning flights always seem like a great idea until the alarm clock goes off at 2:30am.  And then I ask myself what in the world were we thinking?!?  But, an early flight means an early arrival time & a whole extra day in NYC!
By 4am we were on the road & headed to IAH!  We had an uneventful flight & landed in NYC right on time.  We got a taxi & were at the hotel shortly after lunch time.  We stayed at the Park Central Hotel which is on 7th Avenue between Times Square & Central Park.  We have stayed there several times & absolutely love it. 
Once we got checked into the hotel, we didn't waste any time.  Brenda's favorite thing in NYC?  Getting a hot dog from a hot dog cart on the street.  So, that was the first thing we did. I mean, who wouldn't want that as their first "meal" in NYC? =) 
I am a planner & organizer so we always have an itinerary before we go. You almost have to if you plan to do & see as much as we do in 5 days.  But, I also know that generally, the itinerary goes out the window on day 1.  This year was no different.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day {although VERY cold...temps in the 20's} so we decided to head to the Empire State Building.  GREAT decision because the visibility that day was 25 miles & the views were amazing. 
We headed to Macy's next.  All of the large department stores in NYC decorate their store front windows for the holidays.  They spend all year planning & putting them together and have a huge unveiling a few weeks before Christmas.  The decorations inside are also stunning.   
After a little shopping, we headed to John's Pizza in Times Square for's our favorite pizza in NYC!  The building is an old church that has been converted into a restaurant.  They even make the pizza in the middle of the restaurant so you can watch.  After supper, we grabbed some cheesecake to go from Junior's & headed back to the hotel and enjoyed it in bed.  It had been a LONG day & was going to be an early morning.
Day 2 is next! **Kelly's Korner readers - be sure to check out Days 2-5 in the January Archives!


{NYC 2013: Day 2}

Day 2 in NYC was my favorite day by far.  The weather forecast was calling for an 80% chance of snow on Tuesday so I was thrilled!  When we were in NYC in 2009, a blizzard hit & we received 18" of snow.  It was unforgettable.  Central Park covered in snow is indescribable.  So, my fingers were crossed!
Our alarms went off bright & early Tuesday morning.  Like at 5:00am {weren't we supposed to be on vacation?!?}.  When I looked out the window - it was SNOWING already!! 

Several weeks before we left for NYC, I received an email from the show The Chew that we had been selected to be in the studio audience {we have also been to the Katie Couric Show & Live With Kelly}.  We were on our way {in the now HEAVY falling snow} by 7:00am.  There wasn't a huge celebrity on the show & we didn't get any sort of free giveaway, but the whole experience was a blast.   
Snow day = slight change in plans again.  After The Chew, we grabbed lunch at Gray's Papaya {yes, a hot dog again...Brenda was in heaven} & then decided to take a carriage ride thru Central Park in the snow.  Yes, it was the most picturesque thing ever. 
After a quick trip down 5th Avenue to FAO Schwarz, Tiffany's, & to see the Rockefeller Tree, we headed back to the hotel. We were wet & freezing.  The snow was fun for the first few hours, but after awhile - enough was enough.  We were over it & ready for it to stop.  It turned to sleet for awhile & then luckily, by late afternoon - it stopped.  Tuesday night, we had an early supper at Carmine's {AMAZING Italian food} & then went to see Cinderella on Broadway, which we LOVED!  The costume changes were phenomenal!  
After another VERY long, exhausting day - we headed back to the hotel after the play & called it a night. 

{NYC 2013: Day 3}

Thankfully, the weather cleared up & the sun came out on Wednesday because we had another full day planned.  After grabbing breakfast, we headed back to Macy's to take our picture with Santa.  What would a trip to NYC at Christmas be without a picture with Santa?!?  Macy's Santaland is really neat, but the wait to see Santa is normally hours long.  We hoped that by getting there early - we would avoid the crowds & we did!  And, apparently early mornings are for all the "big kids" because the line was mostly adults. =)
While Brenda & Lisa shopped for fun stuff at Macy's, I had to make a trip to B&H Photo to buy a new lens for my camera.  Monday afternoon, I dropped my camera & the lens broke.  Thankfully, the camera was ok & it was only my small lens.  So, $200 later - I was good to go.  I met back up with Brenda & Lisa and we headed back uptown to shop at Bloomingdale's & have lunch at Serendipity 3.  We have wanted to try it every time we are in NYC, but the wait is always 2+ hours long.  Fortunately, by getting there right when they opened, we only had a 15 minute wait.  They are known for their frozen hot chocolate...and WOW!  It was amazing!! Yes, it was as good as it looks!! 
After lunch we headed downtown to the Financial District to see the bull at Bowling Green, Wall Street, & the New York Stock Exchange.  We also had tickets to the 9/11 Memorial which is incredible.  I went to NYC for the first time a year after 9/11 happened.  They were still in the process of cleaning up and all of the memorials & pictures were still hanging on the fence around it.  It was the most moving thing I have ever seen & something I will never forget.  
Our original plan was to go to Brooklyn that night & walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge.  But, temps in the 20's and 20+mph winds changed that.  It was freezing!  So, we headed back to the hotel & got ready for supper.  Taurie, Tanner, & his family had made it to NYC on Wednesday so we had plans to meet them at a Mexican food restaurant that we went to last year called Tortilla Flats.  The food was good & the atmosphere was great {this is where Taurie hula hooped for tequila shots}.  Unfortunately, when we got there, the wait was 2 1/2 hours long so on the advice of someone there, we went to a "similar" restaurant a few blocks over called Suenos. It was so not the same as Tortilla Flats. The food was very pricey & not traditional Mexican food at all...everything was made from either goat or duck.  Seriously?!? What happened to cheese enchiladas??  I decided the mini beef tacos on the appetizer menu were the safest bet & let me tell you, they were mini.  They were the cutest little tacos ever. =) 
After saying our goodbyes, we headed back to the hotel for the night...without hula hooping or having any tequila shots.
WooHoo!  I am over halfway done for those that are still reading! =) 


{NYC 2013: Day 4}

We decided to sleep in on Thursday since we didn't have much planned for the day.  After breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts, we did a little souvenir shopping and then met up with Taurie & her group at Central Park for ice skating!
I do not ice skate.  I haven't actually ever tried, but I figure that on vacation, thousands of miles from home - isn't the place to discover that I can't & end up with a broken bone.  I pay my $5 spectator fee {yes, they charge you to watch} & Brenda ice skates.  She loves it.  We did manage to talk Lisa into making one round around the rink & she did great {with a little assistance of Taurie & Tanner}.   
Afterwards, we headed to see St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, & Lord & Taylor.  We also picked up the cutest little mini cupcakes along the way at a place called Baked by Melissa.  They were about the size of a quarter & so delicious! 
That evening, we took the subway to Brooklyn & then walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge {after we finally found the entrance; I may have gotten us slightly lost.  Oops.}.  But, the views were incredible...especially at night. 
Unfortunately, Thursday was our last night in NYC so we headed to a little restaurant on the Upper East Side called JG Melon for drinks & supper.  We love the atmosphere & they have the best burgers in NYC!  After supper & one last stop at the Rockefeller tree, we headed back to the hotel to pack.  By some miracle, we managed to get everything in our need to visit FedEx the next day after all. =) 
**Be sure to click "older posts" at the bottom of the page to see Day 5.



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