Thursday, February 24, 2011

a visit

Our good friend Mona was our first visitor in the city.
We managed to do a lot in a little time.
How 'bout a review?

we got up early, very early to go see our friends at The Today Show

and we managed a great spot in line

 we met these adorable ladies

Before Mona & I knew it, my husband had formed a fan club of his very own!
these ladies were all from Alabama & one of them even taught at J's high school

we met Al (whom Justin addressed as Mr. Roker) & Matt

I need you to know that Meredith's talent is not just limited to the screen, folks.
She owned those heels. Ran in them. You rock, Mere.

Next up, we visited the world of M&M's
my high-school-year-old-self would have been in high heaven... why did we have such a thing for M&M characters? Was it just me?

 I caught this chick eyeballin' my man

 we met the Statue of Liberty

and then we had our M&M energy read
Justin looked kinda scared, but his reading was golden
Me? I'm electric green which interpreted means that I have a creative flair that's inspiring to others...
I kinda dig it. Mona, where were you during the reading?

 We saw the Washington Square Arch
took in a couple shows

 visited The Flatiron Building

the Sherman monument

Dylan's Candy Bar

Mona told me I'd love this place... and I did
their branding is simple, but I dig it
I really loved that sign on the floor, too

Next up... Serendipity

I think this place has been on my NY list since I saw the movie One Fine Day
my high school bff Jessica & I knew every line to the movie & owned the soundtrack, thank you
jmg, I wished for you to be with us so badly!

 the largest menus in NYC

the infamous frozen hot chocolate did not disappoint me

We ended up the trip with a nightcap at the Campbell Apartment

and gave a New York farewell to our Alabama friend
with a proper Ottomanelli breakfast & a nice blanket of snow on the ground

who's next?

Monday, February 21, 2011

venturing out

No, life cannot be understood flat on a page.
It has to be lived;
a person has to get out of his head,
has to fall in love,
has to memorize poems,
has to jump off bridges into rivers,
has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath...
We get one story, you and I, and one story alone.
God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and resolution.
It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?

Donald Miller // Through Painted Deserts

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lauren + Sean

Lauren & Sean

Remember our friend Lauren? She was one of Justin's patients back in Dallas. The girl who stole our hearts as she fought for her life? The girl whose boyfriend proposed after she awoke from a medically induced coma for three weeks because he couldn't wait another moment to call her his own?

Lauren is still fighting, but she is a strong, beautiful & determined young woman. Her man Sean wrote a beautiful story of their love for a chance to have a dream wedding sponsored by a local Texas news station. If you feel so inclined, read their story and cast a vote for them.

But be prepared, you will need a tissue.

We love you, Lauren + Sean, and we wish you many, many happy & healthy years to come!

read their love story & vote... here

Monday, February 14, 2011

my back popped

It was 2005.

Justin and I had both graduated from college in the Spring. He took his first job in Troy, Alabama, while I prepared to move four hours away from home to begin grad school at the University of Alabama.

We had known each other throughout college, but had not begun to date until just after graduation. We actually graduated on the exact same day although I am three years his junior. Perfect timing.

The summer after graduation I only lived one hour away from Justin. He kept the pavement hot between his work & my parents' house visiting as often as possible and winning my heart a little more each time.

It's as simple as this... I fell in love with him that summer.

However, Fall was fast approaching and while I was excited to move to a different city & begin grad school alongside my bff Sassy, I wondered how our brand new relationship would progress.

Moving day came. My parents, Justin & I made the journey to Tuscaloosa. My new home. We spent several days exploring the city, getting furniture in it's rightful place & stocking up on groceries before my folks returned home.

With my parents' blessing (& Sassy's too), Justin stayed over a couple more days to help us settle in & unpack. His schedule at that time was 8 days on/ 6 days off so he could afford a bit more time with his girlfriend.

He even bought us a grill as an apartment-warming gift. The perfect thing for us two 21-year-old sorority girls! It would prove to be an awesome gift especially when J would come into town & grill us up some steaks.

I remember the following sequence of events as if it happened yesterday.

Sassy and I had our sweet new apartment together. I think she had run an errand most likely to pick up that one last cord she needed to get her computer set up.

Meanwhile, I was most concerned with getting my new Pottery Barn bedding fixed just so (did I make the right choice on the window treatment? Is it the look I'm going for?). Priorities, I tell you. Hooking up computers was not on my list of Most Important Things To Do. What? We were only starting grad school. Computers could wait!

Justin was helping me unpack the myriad of boxes filled with all manner of essential items one needs like picture frames and lamps and throw pillows. I bent over to pick up one particularly heavy box when it happened...

There's no two ways about this so pardon me, I will just have to say it...

I farted.

It was loud and unmistakable.

Bare in mind we were in that state of young love where one simply does not do Pass gas? Wake up with morning breath & unruly hair? I must be the only woman in the world that doesn't happen to, Justin! Aren't you a lucky, lucky man?!

Clutching my lower back as I jumped into the air, I exclaimed...

"Oh, my goodness! My back just popped!"

With that, I turned on my heels and ran into the bathroom Sassy and I shared. Locking the door & turning on the faucet so maybe the running water would drowned out my utter embarrassment, I placed my hands sternly on the vanity and looked at myself in the mirror.

I mouthed the words over again. My Back Popped.

Your back popped?!?! Who says that? You farted! And it was loud. So very, very loud. Horror of horrors, what if it smells?!

Knowing I couldn't live in the bathroom or die there, I knew I had to return. Willing my face to look as normal as possible & come off about ten different shades of scarlet red, I turned off the water, took a deep breath and opened the door.

The man I loved was busily working away as if my back hadn't popped at all. I took the cue from him and returned to the important task of organizing my closet.

The conversation picked right up. Is there a new place we could all go out to dinner? What sounds good? Maybe Sassy will be back soon & we can decide.

Hallelujah & Amen. I was in the clear. No sideways looks or potty humor came my way & we jumped back into our normal state of being happy & in love.

I not only had a handsome boyfriend who used his time off to help me move a thousand highly important boxes, but he was quite the gentleman, too!

He never once made a remark about my 'back.'

Fast forward a year and a half.

The date was set. The invitations sent. The menu decided. The band booked. We were getting married, my man and me! Life was golden.

One particular day just weeks before the wedding, Justin and I were in the car together returning from quite the romantic date... when the urge hit. You know the one.

I've passed gas in front of him before, right? I mean, surely he knows it happens to everybody. I don't think I can hold this in...

And just like that I let one slip out.

No big deal. It wasn't even that loud, but for good & proper measure I glanced at The Love of My Life and said, "Excuse me. Sorry."

To which he replied... with a sly grin on his face...

"Oh... did your back pop?"

He's a gentleman. He's a joker.
And 6 years later, he's still my valentine.
i love you, J.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

new friends + food + a parade + chocolate

There's a butcher shop around the corner from us called Ottomanelli Brothers.
They happen to serve the most wonderful muffins on the upper east side in my opinion.
Granted, you have to walk through a bit of sawdust to get to the desired goodness, but it's so worth it.
That's how we began our Saturday morning... with a quick trip down to the butcher shop... for muffins.
 We ended our evening by joining some new friends for dinner & drinks.
Meet La Von...

and La Von's husband, Rafael

We had some of the best NY pizza at Koronet.
To quote Rafael, it was simple & flavorful. And incredible.

A short walk across the street landed us at The Heights where we discussed college backgrounds, religion, how we each met our other half & our shared love of good food & travel.

This one's for all you Seinfeld fans... the infamous diner.

One of my favorite things about New York is experiencing the unexpected.
Like a Beatles cover band in the middle of the subway.
They happened to be playing, surprisingly well, one of my fav Beatles songs as we walked up...
Here Comes the Sun.
If you look closely you will see Yoko Ono on the bass.

The next morning this was the first billboard we saw. Hmm...

Chinese New Year Parade

Any guesses on what J was waiting in line for?

 The chicken? The shrimp? Maybe some plantains?

No, he chose the octopus.
Quite the adventurous eater. And quite my opposite when it comes to food.

Later on we met up with our new friend Nikelle for dinner before church.

Thankfully, octopus was not on the menu.

J's fresh salami sammy

Nikelle's delish salad

my turkey panini with homemade spicy pesto

after church we made our way to Max Brenner for dessert with Nikelle, La Von & Rafael

the choices were absolutely endless

chocolate cake with melty caramel inside served with ice cream & a chocolate shot
largest chocolate bars ever
Max Brenner candy shop
white chocolate + toffee + dark chocolate fondue

Nikelle's chocolate drink concoction
J's chocolate peanut butter shake
La Von & Rafael's hot chocolate in a hug mug

friends & food & New York City are all very well-suited for one another
as I am apparently well-suited for finding all things Beatles-related in our new city

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rigoletto in review & a surprise guest

A week or so ago Justin & I attended an opera. I got him tickets as an early birthday gift.
We needed a little snack beforehand & stumbled upon a great bakery... Le Pain Quotidien.
The whole night was pretty awesome. Beautiful location. Amazing interiors.
And my favorite dark, curly-headed Italian man.

I've been holding out sharing about this night because I've had a surprise up my sleeve.
You ready?
Please give a warm blogland welcome to my man... Take it away, J...

   One of the things we enjoy most about traveling is experiencing new things. Now I have the opportunity to tell you about a first for us: the opera. For those of you who know me, it may come as a surprise that it was actually me who wanted to go to an opera and I loved it! Molly graciously surprised me with an early birthday present with tickets to Rigoletto.

I will present you with an overview (my completely subjective view) of the opera...
   Not just elderly rich white folks attend the opera. You’ll see anything from a lady in a fuchsia ball gown with a dead weasel (mink stole, they call it) draped around her neck to a guy in jeans and a hockey jersey and mukluks.
The suggested business casual is what we opted for... I just didn’t have anything in fuchsia to wear.

   Common themes: Opera is sung in a foreign language and is always sung DRAMATICALLY. The simplest concept will be transformed into an extremely long, drawn-out, overly dramatic song.
   Conversations in this era must have taken forever. Don’t be alarmed if during an intense moment, perhaps someone was just murdered, people burst onto stage and break into song seemingly out of nowhere.

Beautiful Lincoln Center. The opera directly in front, the NY ballet to your left & the NY Philharmonic to your right.

   To aid your enjoyment, you will find a teleprompter on the seat in front of you giving you the lines in English. Very helpful once you get the translation off German.

You can discern a great deal by the dress of the characters, although it may be a bit counterintuitive.

   The strong, masculine hero will be dressed in a colorful, puffy shirt not unlike what you might imagine a gay pirate to wear. The most desirable broads will wear long dresses that look like drapes you’d see in a castle.

Evil characters will sing and prance about heavily made-up in ill fitting tights.

   Special note: You will be very surprised on how easy it is to find and hire an assassin: they will be the guys in tights standing on the side of the road, holding a ridiculously long sword, singing a long and dramatic song about how good they are at killing people.

   In summation, we had a very entertaining evening.
I hope these observations serve you well should you decide to experience an opera.
It’s a great place to wear your stole.