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My First Blizzard…That Wasn’t

Mayor Bill De Blasio predicted earlier this week that Storm Juno would be “…a storm the likes of which we have never seen before.” Now, as a West Coaster new to New York, what he said was technically correct for me. But for everyone else in this city, the storm just produced an ordinary snowy day. Storm Juno did wreak havoc in other parts of the Northeast, but it was quite anticlimactic here.

On Monday I stocked up on Trader Joe’s essentials (chocolate, peanut-butter-filled pretzels, wine, etc.) along with enough food to make several meals. It took me longer than I care to disclose to bundle up, walk to the subway, ride the subway, wait in line to get into Trader Joe’s, wait in a line that zig-zagged through the whole store, get back on the subway, ride back, and walk home. But I was in high spirits! This was to be my first blizzard! Sean got a couple candles and I charged up phones and laptops to make sure we could still watch movies during a potential blackout.

That afternoon, we surveyed our neighborhood as the snow began to fall. That night, we impatiently checked out the window to see how bad visibility was getting (it was fine). And in the morning, we got out of bed like little kids on Christmas morning to check for a fresh blanket of snow and crazy whiteout conditions. Yes, there was snow, and yes it was snowing, but we thought a blizzard might be a little stormier than what we were witnessing.

We went out into the world to have coffee with our friends at a local Italian restaurant and to watch the news. No blizzard for New York; subway back in service; travel bans lifted. Despite the lack of a record-breaking storm, Sean didn’t have to go into the office, so he got some work done at home, and then we snuggled up and indulged in some Netflix binging.

Around 4PM, our legs atrophying, we decided we needed to move. So we ventured out into the cold and walked west toward the Hudson River, south to downtown, and then back up north to our neck of the woods. (We had our first NYC celebrity sighting: Mr. Mike Myers, strolling through Soho!)

Along the way we saw New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, and the 9/11 memorial pools. I was struck by the beauty and gravity of the pools — profound reminders of the towers that once stood and the lives lost over a decade ago. To see photos of the pools, check out this gallery on Inhabitat’s website.

All in all, it was a very pleasant first Snow Day, and I’m happy to have spent it with my love.

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River Whyless in the Neighborhood!

On Wednesday night, Sean and I bundled up to walk a whole six blocks to a music venue called the Rockwood Music Hall to see my sister’s wonderful boyfriend and his awesome band playing on Stage 2. They’re called River Whyless, and they’re a quartet made up of a guitarist/vocalist (Ryan O’Keefe), a bassist/vocalist (Dan Shearin), a drummer (Alex McWalters), and a fiddler/vocalist (Halli Anderson). I would describe their sound as folk-rock with a little bluegrass sneaking in with Halli’s fiddle, and their lyrics are true poetry. If you haven’t heard them yet, do yourself a favor and click on all these links!

Fun to listen to and fun to watch — feathers in guitars, violin bows in teeth, cooking pots and bicycle rims as percussion instruments — I recommend catching a River Whyless show when they come your way. Click here for their tour dates and destinations! And check them out at the iTunes store — their two albums and a fun Christmas single are all available for purchase.

 

 

 

Two Nights, Two Pizzas

After walking from Midtown to our neighborhood one night (which is a bit of a trek), Sean and I were hungry and craving pizza. We live a stone’s throw from Little Italy, so we were bombarded with choices (rough life). One pizzeria that looked welcoming, Rubirosa Ristorante, was also one that had been recommended to Sean by our fellow NoLIta-dwelling friends. We ordered their Tie Dye pizza to-go, went home to drop off our bags and open up our bottle of wine (purchased at the exciting Trader Joe’s Wine Shop at Union Square; it’s a separate shop with all wine…inexpensive and delicious wine at that), and then headed back into the cold for the 90-second walk back to Rubirosa’s. The restaurant itself is dimly lit, cozy, and warm. Definitely somewhere we’d like to dine in at sometime.

We added crispy-on-the-outside-soft-in-the-middle eggplant to our Tie Dye, which features a swirled blend of vodka sauce, marinara sauce, and pesto and is topped with fresh mozzarella. The crust was über-thin and the whole combination was simply wonderful. Sean found it to be a little on the greasy side, but I didn’t understand why this was a problem. Fried eggplant on top of three sauces and cheese?! C’mon! So good!

The following night we decided to eat out at another pizzeria, just for the sake of comparison. We chose Lombardi’s Pizza, whose claim to fame is that they were the first pizzeria in America! Their restaurant has a much more family-friendly vibe than Rubirosa’s — brightly lit, vinyl red and white gingham tablecloths, white paper napkins, walls covered with posters of mob movies and Italian celebrities. Their pizza was really tasty too. The crust was a little thicker and a bit on the dry side, but the toppings were superb. We got a traditional Margherita pizza with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and kalamata olives. Great combination!

I can’t wait to try out another local pizza joint. Anyone have a recommendation?

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Welcome to the Neighborhood!

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NoLIta has been such a delight. I’ve been strolling through different Manhattan neighborhoods and have found that while each has its charms, the best one is ours! I feel extremely lucky to live in what I believe to be the best neighborhood in NYC. Everyone we’ve met has been friendly and helpful, all of the food we’ve sampled so far as been out of this world, and there is a real sense of community. Just as a way of warmly welcoming us, people working in various shops and restaurants have given us free stuff! We got free chai tea at one local eatery, a free cookie at an adorable bakery, and free coffee from the Italian restaurant next door. I feel loyal to these establishments already, and that’s a great feeling.

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New Yorkers in general have been very friendly so far. Sure we get our occasional gruff sales clerk (Sean describes customer service here like this: “Everyone who works in the stores are just living their lives; we as customers are interrupting them.”), and I have nothing good to say about our experiences at IKEA Brooklyn (don’t get me started)…but in general I’d say that people are nice. They are especially outgoing when we are. If I offer up a little bit of information about myself, we’re automatic friends. The smiles come out the second I say something like, “I just moved here!” or “I have a lot of IKEA stuff to build today!”

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Grocery shopping here is like going to war. In line (or “on line”, as New Yorkers say…which is confusing in the Digital Age), people can be chatty and friendly, but out in the store with our carts and baskets, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Especially in Vancouver, I got used to being the aggressive and fast-paced shopper. Here, however, I am the slow-moving punching bag. It’s an adjustment; I’ll have to toughen up!

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I’m happy to be in the neighborhood. It’s a joy to learn how to be a New Yorker!

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A Walk From NoLIta to Union Square

I have found that one of my favorite things to do in Manhattan is to get out the door early in the morning. I didn’t make it out super early today, but it was early enough to beat the crowds to Trader Joe’s at Union Square (we learned the hard way last night that going at 6PM is a true nightmare; needless to say, we left immediately!). But we needed some basic necessities, and TJ’s is a great place to acquire them…so off I went around 8AM today.

I walked southeast on E. Houston Street, northeast on Avenue A (in order to walk through the East Village), and then northwest on E. 14th toward Union Square. It wasn’t the most direct way, but this way I got to see parts of the city I hadn’t yet seen.

My walk was 1.77 miles, I got what I needed at TJ’s, and then took the subway home. More walks to come! Thanks, MapMyRun, for the map and tracking.

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New Year, New York!

Not only is it a new calendar year, it’s also a new age for me. I turned 29 on Sunday, and I can tell that 29 will be another one to remember!

This post featuring two of my "intense obsessions": coffee & food! Thank you, Alison, for this beautiful print!

This post featuring two of my “intense obsessions”: coffee & food! Thank you, Alison, for this beautiful print!

 

Because our kitchen stuff didn’t arrive until yesterday (we shipped it all from Vancouver), we had an excellent excuse for needing to eat out at some restaurants in Manhattan! 

Our neighborhood, NoLIta (North of Little Italy) is full of little eateries, cafés, and bakeries. So far, we have tried:

La Colombe: Stark walls, industrial lighting, excellent drip coffee (dark enough for Sean), rich/silky/creamy hemp milk latte, decent croissants

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Café Gitane: Quaint French café, nice staff, male staff in matching blue collared shirts, old-fashioned cash register, delicious avocado toast with chilli, lemon, and olive oil, good soy latte

Soho Park: like eating in a picnic in a greenhouse, trees inside, park benches, plastic cups and cutlery, yummy fried pickles, inexpensive but tasty veggie burgers

Hampton Chutney: best dosas ever, non-traditional (mine had red onion, portobello mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese; Sean’s had butternut squash, potatoes, and mustard seed), variety of tasty chutneys, sweet soy chai, super nice staff who welcomed us to the neighborhood

On my birthday, we walked down Broadway to the TriBeCa neighborhood and had brunch at Tribeca’s Kitchen. The omelette and benedict were fabulous, and who doesn’t love free coffee refills? Then we took the subway up to West 72nd Street to enter Central Park by the The Dakota building and Strawberry Fields.

 

After a lovely, but chilly stroll, we walked north along Columbus Avenue until we happened upon Café Frida between W. 77th and W. 78th. I adore Mexican food, and it’s a bit of a tradition for me to have Mexican food on my birthday (Chevy’s or Alberto’s Cantina in Pleasanton as a kid; Coyote and La Monita in Bangkok).

Café Frida was out of this world, particularly, their guacamole and the side dish,chiles toreadas (sautéed jalapeños and caramelized onions with queso fresco). We were in spice heaven. Their fish tacos were great, though we’ll admit not as great as Tacofino‘s in Vancouver! We sipped on Mexican hot chocolate for dessert before slipping back out into the cold to ride the subway home.

Happy Birthday to me! And Happy New Year to everyone!

[Here are some photos from around NoLIta, early yesterday morning]

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December Happenings

Happy New Year, readers! I have been MIA for the last month or so because life has been hectic. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and that 2015 is off to a good start for all.

Let’s see. Since I last wrote, December happened. Check out the slide-shows below!

We visited to NYC with Sean’s aunt and uncle. His aunt and I visited Sean’s cousin’s husband’s sister (got that?) in Brooklyn. She has an amazing store called Brooklyn Collective.

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The husband and I went on a very delayed mini-honeymoon…and by mini I mean 18 hours! But it was worth it to spend even just a day in beautiful Whistler

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Sean and I got to see some dear friends while in Los Angeles at Christmastime.

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We also got to see the USS Midway and the San Diego Maritime Museum with my parents. Exploring the Midway was fascinating (especially with my dad, who was in the Navy), and the highlights of the maritime museum were the Russian submarine and the HMS Surprise. Oh and the weather was obviously a perk too!

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My mom did a fabulous job making the house extremely Christmas-y, and both she and my Aunt Becky made millions of Christmas cookies. We had fun eating Thai food on Christmas Eve, opening presents, and spending time with my sister and her family too.

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We also enjoyed having mini-Christmases back in Vancouver with Sean’s mom and his sister, his dad and stepmom, his aunts, uncles, and cousins, and with our friends. We spent New Year’s Eve with our dear friends/neighbors and their adorable new Beagle puppy!

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Hello, Rocket!

 

Just before leaving for New York, Sean’s dad and stepmom hosted a lovely farewell party for us. It was a sweet send-off that meant a lot to us.

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We also got to have dinner at The Acorn in Vancouver with some close friends.

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And as of January 9, we’re in Manhattan! My birthday was on the 11th, so we took a break from unpacking suitcases and buying IKEA stuff to explore our new city. Stay tuned for my birthday post and some thoughts on NYC thus far!