Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Favourites

First of all a big Happy 1st Birthday to our big boy Q!! He came into this world bright and early on September 29, 2016.  He quickly adopted great eating and sleeping habits along with a good-natured attitude about whatever comes his way.  Q loves his big brother and can't wait to start chasing him around.  What a blessing he has been in our lives, we are truly thankful that he is part of our family.  He is a joy!

Now, onto some Friday Favourites.  Linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci.

When I was in New York on the weekend, I didn't do a lot of shopping.  Our dollar isn't at a great exchange rate right now and the prices weren't good enough to justify a lot of spending.  I did get a couple of nice things though:

These grey jeans from Bloomingdale's.  They are stretchy and I wanted something a little different from typical blue jeans.  I think our weather has finally cooled down so I will get to wear them soon.

I also love the Madewell brand that we can find at Nordstrom's in Canada, but they have Madewell stores in the US.  The price was right for these two long sleeved shirts.  I also picked up another blue t-shirt.

I am a sucker for Starbucks mugs so I could not resist this mug.  The yellow cab really sold me on it.

And just on the New York trip again, you really must see Come From Away if you get the chance.  I don't even like theatre and I loved this!!  It will be in Toronto on February...

The Invictus Games are in town this week.  I was at the Law Society on Monday for a conference and right next door at Nathan Phillips Square (City Hall) they were holding the wheelchair tennis events.  I was so close to seeing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first public appearance together!  I walked through the square about 30 minutes before they arrived and then by the time I knew they were out there, they were gone.

The landscaping in our backyard wrapped up this week and it looks so good!  Below is a sneak peak.  More pictures to follow once we tidy up the trampled gardens, hose down the furniture, and get it all set up again.   (If you're friends with Dave on Facebook you would have seen more than a sneak peak, spoiler)

Happy Fall Weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Monthly Goals - October

My goals for September were:

Clean out my drawers and closet.  I really have a hard time getting this done every time I put it on my list. This weekend!! I swear it!

Get a haircut.  I have one booked for tomorrow!

Finish writing in Q's baby book.  No luck on getting this completed, but soon.

Bake more for breakfast and lunch.  Done.  I made these cookies and these muffins, and both times I had plenty to put in the freezer.

Bring my lunch to work instead of buying it.  I only bought my lunch once this month so I think this was a success.  I'm making a lunch for E anyway, so I may as well make the same for myself.

My goals for October are:

1. Decide what credit card I want to get.   My current one expires this month and I want to try a new one.
2. Plan E's birthday party.
3. Make a workout plan.
4. Organize our linen closet.
5. Plan a Christmas budget.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What's up Wednesday

Linking up with ShaySheaffer and Mel for What's up Wednesday today.

What we're eating this week...
Monday - Rotisserie chicken, green beans, roasted potatoes 
Tuesday - Butternut Squash and Sausage Pasta
Wednesday - Marinated chicken, vegetables
Thursday to Saturday - not sure yet, being away on the weekend threw off my menu planning

What I'm reminiscing about...
My trip to New York! It was so nice to be away and exploring new places and eating yummy food.

What I'm loving...
The fall colours are making their way out.  I love seeing the pretty reds and yellows while I drive back and forth to work.  

What we've been up to...
September was a blur of getting back into a school and work routine and taking a few weekend trips. Staying afloat has been our main goal ;)

What I'm dreading...
Darker mornings and evenings.  I find it so easy to get up early and get stuff done in the daylight.  When it is dark, I just want to hibernate.

What I'm working on...
Getting ready for Q's birthday party on the weekend.  It's not complicated but I need to make a cake, pick up a few decorations, and prepare some food.  

What I'm excited about...
Our backyard has been undergoing some landscaping over the past couple of weeks.  It is close to being completed and it will be so nice to have some grass back there. 

What I'm watching/reading...
I have recorded Alias Grace and This Is Us to watch sometime this week.  We have a couple of episodes of Narcos left, and then we will start Ozark and House of Cards.

I'm reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  It is in my top five favourite books of all time and I am enjoying reading it again.
(I'm slow, I've made only a little progress since our camping trip)

What I'm listening to...
A lot of opinions on the whole "Take a knee" stance.  Most of the people I follow on Twitter are either politically minded or from the sports world.  I like to listen to various points of view so I can be informed and then I try to be more eloquent in my own opinion.  

What I'm wearing...
Still wearing my summer clothes! We have had very hot weather this week so the shorts, tank tops, and sandals are still in rotation.  I'm sure we will be wearing jeans and sweaters soon enough.

What I'm doing this weekend...
On Friday night Dave and I are going to see the comedian Mike Birbiglia at the Sony Centre, Q's birthday party is on Saturday morning, and on Sunday we are going to relax!
(in his #1 shirt, Mike B.)

What I'm looking forward to next month...
E's first track meet for the cross country team (the grade 1's run a 1K), Thanksgiving, E's birthday, and Halloween!
(from the Ottawa 2K in May)

What else is new...
We're switching our family doctor.  The one we've had for years was near my office but it wasn't convenient for Dave and the kids to get to.  This new one is very close to our house so it will be a lot more convenient going forward.

What TV show are you most excited about this fall?
This is Us

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New York Recap

Last Thursday I flew to New York with my friend Cindy for the weekend.  We flew into Newark and took the train into Penn Station.  It seemed to take forever and it was hot but we finally made it to our hotel.  We stayed at Cassa Times Square Hotel (which is actually in Hell's Kitchen, not Times Square).  It was a good location, close to most things, and although the rooms were small, it was comfortable and fine for our needs.  Anyone who has been to New York knows that the price of hotels will limit your choices but there are options.

After we checked into the hotel, we walked down to the Chelsea Market to get something to eat and explore for a bit.  There are a lot of cool things to eat and buy here.

We chose a slice of pizza and it was so tasty!

After we left the Market, we headed up to the High Line to walk back toward our hotel.  This is such a cool space in the middle of the city.  

We got a popsicle from a cart along the way.  I had pineapple mint and it was very good, especially during the hot afternoon.

There is a lot of construction around this area, Hudson Yards.  I am amazed there is still space in New York to build, but it sounds like this was more an industrial/stockyards area that is being converted to condos and retail.

We went back to our hotel briefly and then we went over toward Times Square.  

We had a reservation at Carmine's Italian Restaurant.  It is a family style restaurant which I just thought meant suitable for families, but really it means that they only have family sized portions and you can't order individual meals.  There was no way we could eat our entire meal, but it was very good and exactly the type of restaurant and food we wanted.

Cheers!! Rookie mistake ordering a beer before a huge Italian meal!

We had about 8 slices of garlic bread, 6 huge meatballs and a platter of pasta.  We thought we should have found a couple of people in line to share a table and our meal with!

Then we walked over to Come From Away.   I am typically not a theatre fan but Cindy wanted to go so I said I would go too and this was a musical I was interested in.  After seeing this show, I think I may be converted to a theatre fan.  It was an amazing performance and experience.  If you have a chance to see it, you must!  It's apparently coming to Toronto in the new year, so I will have to go again.

The next morning, Friday, we got up early and went to Rockefeller Plaza to see the Today Show being filmed and then to go to the Top of the Rock for some views.  We also picked up some coffee and pastries at Bouchon Bakery.

The Lego version of Rockefeller Plaza.

Across the street is St. Patrick's Cathedral so we went in there to walk around.  It was lovely.

Saks 5th Avenue

We continued down 5th Avenue to the New York Public Library.  It is so beautiful inside, worth the visit, although we were hard pressed to find any books.

Then we walked over to Grand Central Station.  This was another amazing building, and another icon of New York.  We wanted something to eat and opted for fries from Shake Shack :)

From Grand Central we took the subway downtown to the 9/11 Memorial.   The subway exit led us through the Oculus.  This is part of the retail area down there and of course the photo doesn't do it justice, so look it up to see the true effect.

When Dave and I went to New York a few years ago, we had to wait in line to get to the memorial pools.  Now they are just open and available to everyone to just walk up to them which I think is great.  It was still a meaningful experience when Dave and I were there, but that people can take a moment to reflect whenever they want, without having to stand in line, I think is so important.  On the birthdays of each victim, the memorial staff will stick a flower into the engraved name of that victim.  I think that is so special to know that time is spent for each person on their birthday; they won't be forgotten.

The museum was not open when Dave and I were there so I was really looking forward to visiting it this time.  We downloaded the audio guide beforehand rather than getting the guided tour.  The audio guide is narrated by Robert DeNiro and includes audio of people who were there on that day.  I would recommend doing this if you go.  The museum is really well done and it stands on the site of the buildings, the foundations are exposed and you can touch the slurry wall that was built when the towers were constructed.  We decided not to go through the room that had the audio/video/images of the day.  We have seen a lot of that stuff before and it was a pretty heavy visit already.   

From there we stopped in at Century 21 but like last time I was there we weren't in the mood to really shop and dig through the supposed bargains, so we didn't stay long.   We instead hopped back on the subway to Greenwich Village.  Cindy wanted a real slice of New York pizza so I took her to the spot Dave and I visited on our Greenwich Village food tour.  The line up was out the door and the guy behind us confirmed it was the best pizza (and then took our photo).

After our pizza we went back to our hotel for a little break before heading to Chelsea Piers for a boat tour.

Quick snack at 'Wichcraft- wine in a can and chips :)

Cindy's boss had recommended this architecture boat tour and it was a highlight of the trip, I would definitely recommend this to others.  We chose the Lower Manhattan tour which was 1.5 hours but we could have easily done the 3 hour tour that goes around the whole island.   The boat was relaxing and comfortable, we had wine and a cheese plate, the tour guide was knowledgable, and it was a beautiful evening on the water.   

Not crowded at all, and you could sit inside or out.  The windows opened all the way if you wanted to get a clearer photo from inside, or you could walk around outside too.

Our guide - we actually saw him at the cafe when we were getting our snack and I said "if that guy  (wearing pink pants, loafers, and clear framed glasses) isn't going on an architecture boat tour, then I don't know who is!" and then he was our guide!  He was legit. 

One World Trade

Ellis Island

The Queen Mary was there!

Brooklyn Bridge

This is where the Titanic would have docked if it had made it

Hudson Yards, the place I said earlier is undergoing a lot of construction

After our boat tour we walked down to the Meatpacking District for supper.

Chelsea Market at night

We ate at Dos Caminos.  Dave and I went to this restaurant (different location) so I knew it would be good, and we were able to get a reservation which was even better.

Margarita and guacamole - my favourites

The next day was Saturday.  We woke up early and set out for another beautiful morning.  We walked up 9th Avenue from our hotel to a Starbucks near Central Park for some coffee and a yoghurt.  Then we walked into the park.  Since it was Saturday it was busy - we saw so many dogs and runners and others enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures.

The Sheep Meadow.

The Bethesda Fountain

The Loeb Boathouse where Dave and I ate brunch on our visit.

Croquet players, because of course people are playing croquet in their white clothes.

We had brunch reservations at Tavern on the Green, an iconic New York establishment.  It was all very lovely - the food, the sparkling wine, the music, the patio. 

After our meal we meandered through Central Park to the East Side. 
I took a photo of this dog statue...

We just walked around, looked at the apartment buildings with their doormen, the architecture , and went to a few stores (like Bloomingdales where we both bought jeans).  We went through Times Square on the way back to our hotel, but quickly left.  There are just too many people and we don't even know what they are all doing, just walking around?!  We grabbed a couple of slices of pizza at 2 Bros Pizza on 9th Ave. It was not as good as the pizza we had the day before but it was good and cheap.

After some TV and a nap, we took the subway down to Washington Square Park.  It's a really cool space, lots going on and a lot of people.  They had a neat playground and fountain that I know E would have loved! It was all I could do to stay out of the fountain myself!

Thanks crane operator for leaving the crane there to ruin the shot of the arch.

From there we walked into Greenwich Village for some photo ops.

This is a tapas restaurant where Aziz Ansari went on his show Master of None - Tertulia.

The Friends apartment

Carrie's apartment from Sex and the City.

Then we met up with Cindy's friend for drinks and supper.  She and Cindy went to high school together and she has lived in New York for a few years now so it was a good opportunity to visit and we really appreciated having someone familiar with the area to suggest places to go to eat and drink.

First stop - Wilfie and Nell for a drink.

Second stop - Suprema Provisions for supper.  We were so lucky to get a table right away and the food was so good.  I had the lasagna made with pulled pork and a b├ęchamel sauce. 

Third Stop - The Spaniard for some drinks.  I ordered "Straight to Hell", delicious!

On Sunday morning we went to SoHo for brunch.  I just googled best brunches in SoHo and found this place - The Dutch.  I thought I had made reservations but then we realized I had mixed up the AM/PM, but it was fine.  We arrived 15 minutes before it opened so we had no issue getting a seat.

From there we walked around and did a little shopping - some Madewell shirts and treats from Dean and Deluca.  We also found this delicious yoghurt place where we got a smoothie.  Cindy knew of this brand from previous visits to the US but didn't know they had bricks and mortar stores.  It was delicious. 

We also spotted a few celebrities.  Debi Mazar was shopping with her daughter at the Nike Store.  Louis C.K.  was walking down the street with his daughters (see below).  And when we went back to Joe's Pizza to get a slice, Kal Penn was there.  I tried to take his slice of pepperoni by mistake, and then I apologized and when I turned and saw it was him, I said "I hope you've been enjoying Toronto.  I'm from there."  (He films Designated Survivor here.)  He said thanks and yes he has been.  The friend that was with him seemed pleased that I mentioned it, so it was kind of neat.  Unfortunately Cindy was waiting for me outside during all of this, but she did see him when he left the pizza place.

So that was it,  we went to our hotel to grab our bags and then we took an Uber to La Guardia to get our flight.   We really didn't know how lucky we are with our airports in Canada, but EWR and LGA leave a lot to be desired!  The TTC is also head and shoulders about the NYC Subway.  I know it's extremely less complicated to run the TTC lines than the NYC lines, but again, I didn't really appreciate the cleanliness of the TTC until I rode the NYC Subway, no offence.

While I was gone, Dave kept the boys busy with trips to the splash pad, a ride on the High Park train, a bike ride to the Lakeshore bike park, a visit with my cousin Emma, and lots of yummy food (I'm waiting for him to write his own weekend recap post...).

Phew!! Thanks for sticking with me through that marathon post! If you have any questions, let me know!