Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's a Birthday Blog!

Since it's been over a month since I last blogged, I decided what better time to redeem myself than on my 28th birthday. Holla!
And it's been a memorable day, I must say!

My mom made me breakfast and my parents and I had a quick celebration this morning, complete with my mom telling me my birth story again. I was born almost a month early and weighed just over 5 lbs and ended up dropping just under 5 lbs a few days later. The preemie diapers were too small and apparently I was carried around on a pillow because I was so small, such royalty for a King!

My coworkers took me out to lunch at one of my favorite spots-Cafe 336 (Bakers on Main) downtown Guntersville. I received some beautiful gifts--cross bracelet, picture frame, earrings, gift card to Baker's, and gorgeous flowers from friends, as well as numerous phone calls, texts, hugs, and wishes on social media, all of which I love and has truly made my day! I am one very blessed girl!

 
My friend Lauren Cothran challenged me to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last night---so on my birthday--I did this:

video

It was incredibly cold, but you endure because you're another year older, stronger, and ready to take on whatever life brings you--including social media viral challenges for a good cause--yes, I will donate to ALS! :) 

I'm excited about this age and have some goals and adventures planned coming up. All in God's plan of course. I saw this story trending on the internet and it made me smile! Fist bump to all of us "choose-to-be-singles right now!
#TBT Birthday Edition:


 




 This was my 20th Birthday with my sweet Maw-Maw!

Lots of stuff has been going on this summer...

My coworker and sweet friend Beth got hitched at the Lake Guntersville State Park!!! She is a beautiful bride! Look at that watermelon!



Selfies with this cute boy! I heard you can "take selfies until you have kids." Simba's not my kid, so I'm good...right? Selfies are so controversial. Either you love em or you hate em. I like to think Simba is a fan.












The first part of August, I went back to college--for a week! I received a scholarship from Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association to go to Southeastern Tourism Society's Marketing College, held once a year on the campus of North Georgia University, a military college in Dahlonega, Georgia. It is a three year program to earn your CMP degree (Certified Marketing Degree).

Check out my dorm room!
On the first night, we went to Wolf Mountain Vineyards on opening night--beautiful view from after the rain. My "freshmen" class had about 100 classmates from all over the Southeast.
 Here's some of my sweet friends I made--Kellen, Ally, Morgan, and Cecelia!
 We had class from 8-5 each day, and covered all kinds of tourism marketing tools and trends.
 Here's the view I had each day walking from the dorm to campus. So pretty!


And here's the view at night, when I would attempt to walk/run off all the yummy foods they fed us during the day. We had a cupcake bar one day during break, among other tasty foods, and I was determined NOT to gain the freshman 15 in one week's time!
I was in good company on the evening runs,though, as the military students would be running all over campus reciting their drills in unison.

The best part was there was no homework or tests and I had a lot of great ideas to implement on my job once I got back home. It was so fun to explore Dahlonega and it's "rich" history, meet new friends, and I'm looking forward to doing it all again next year!

 

 On August 9, Mom and I worked the Main Street Music Festival gate--in the rain, but we had a fun time, counting clicks as people walked in. Did you know they totaled around 28,000 people for the two day FREE music festival!?! How awesome! Great job Albertville!
 
 I loved hearing one of my favorite 90's bands, The Gin Blossoms! They rocked hits like "Hey Jealousy," "Found Out About You," and "Found Out About You," and "Alison Road." 
God painted such a beautiful sky last night as I was on my evening walk at home.
Living Out the Plans:
So, God has really been teaching me lately. Things like how much I need to die to myself daily and put myself last. How often do we take "selfies" of our heart? It would surely be a scary selfie sometimes. As I turn another year older, I can't help but realize how little this life is really about me. The world tells us thousands of times each day how to make life about us and that it's really rewarding, but I disagree. When we turn away from ourselves and focus on our Savior, only then do we see life's big picture, that we are meant for more, glorifying the Father and living out love in this broken world. I'm not perfect and I'm thankful for Christ's forgiveness and my salvation is my greatest gift I've received. I don't want to take life for granted because who is really guaranteed tomorrow? Instead, I want to make the most of each day and focus on what I have now and how the Lord wants to use me for His purpose.
 "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Phil. 3:8-10
 
Thanks for reading y'all! Peace out on my first day of being 28th!
It's been a wild wet day but I've enjoyed every minute of it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Constant Cravings Confessions...has always been..the 3 C's

So I know it's supposed to be summer but I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that July is NEXT week--which means a 3 day weekend! Whoo hoo!
If you and I were to sit down with a cup of coffee, (reference for later), I would tell you this on what's new with me as we sip:
I am:
1) sometimes cheap, sip the non-Starbucks coffee, see: Starbucks Raising Prices Story
2) (hence) still living at home, sip
3) known as Boomerangers since we are cohabitating (again) with our baby boomer parentals, sip
4) working on some kind of tan (side note: I helped with some junior interviews this spring at the schools and no joke, the question was casually asked "What are your summer plans?" and the response was "work on my tan and that's about it." What can I say except in the real world, that does not exist, but wow, what a response. I also wanted to scream "Open a book, volunteer, DO something besides subject your skin to the sun all summer long or at least say you will to your board of working adults who are holding your ticket to get in this important program!" but I resisted.  Life lessons. Some we have to learn the hard way. I'll drink to that and shake my head.
5) missing the beach and these photos on Instagram and Facebook aren't making it any better, sip
6) regretting the bright idea to "splurge" on a 10' blow up pool like I remembered so fondly from my tween years staying at home by myself and wasting away the summer with a Kool-Aid or Capri Sun in hand and boom box blowing out the speakers with random CDs like LFO and Vitamin C, not knowing how good I had it, sip
7) still laughing about it saying in LARGE print on the side "NO DIVING IN POOL." Who doesn't like to risk diving in shallow water? Then watched as the pool filled with leaves, ants and other creepy crawlers within seconds, sadly, sip
8) BUT wait, there's more--then we discover there's no drain plug on this supposed "new and improved" inflatable pool which means, ladies and gentleman of the 21st century, that one must either hire Paul Bunyan to come to your house and lift the blow up pool, sitting in not even a foot of water to empty it OR if Paul's not available, you must then get a gallon bucket and scoop all the creepy crawler water out, gallon by gallon--warning: may cause back injury if done more than 5 times. So yeah, that was loads of fun as it suddenly turned dark and stormy and I just knew I'd be the girl struck my lightening emptying her overpriced Wal-Mart special pool, double sip.
9) Returned deflated blow up pool Wallyworld, along with my deflated hopes and dreams of achieving any summer color, just kidding, but kind of not. Sip.
10) Will have to resort to bumming off people with a real pool for my tanning days or get a plastic baby pool that's just big enough for my legs. Off my soapbox, and the cup is empty anyway.

So I'm headed to Atlanta this weekend with my mom and mawmaw to visit my aunt and uncle. They are fabulous. I have good memories of visiting them during the summer and them spoiling me and taking me to all the best places in the city, which usually involved my choice of Six Flags, movies, zoo, Coca Cola Museum, a ride on the Marta for culture, Disney Store, bookstores, toy stores, and malls. Now it's more like "Let's go to Ikea or a walk around the neighborhood and go to church"...my how priorities change.

Confession 1): I didn't cry during "The Fault in Our Stars." Yes, I have a heart and for some reason, maybe it was because after reading the book, I knew what was coming, but honestly, it just didn't do it for me. If there had been a dog involved...that'd be a totes different ballgame.

Confession 2): I have watched 0.0000000% of the World Cup games. I'm at peace with this and enjoy getting updates on our winning/losing from my twitter followers. While I'm 100% American, I understand very little of soccer. I'm so glad it could unite Americans for weeks of intense soccer playing watching and cheering but I'm still confused by the sport. How can there be a tie and it be ok?? It's ok because I'm sure if I have any children (another reference for later), they will probably play soccer and I'll immerse myself in it then.
Until that point, I'll happily settle for watching Wimbledon, which is also going on.





My sister and I said that when we come back to London, we will stay in Wimbledon, probably not Centre Court mind you, but the city itself is the perfect balance of trendy, quaint, and urban without so much hustle and bustle like so much of London is. Although we probably won't get to see Roger Federer and Venus and Serena again.





Confession 3) And while we are on confessions, 3 things I'm currently obsessed with:
* COFFEE--in the hot or iced version with lots of cream and Splenda
* Chocolate--in the form of chocolate chips
* Cherries--in their original cute form, frozen, fresh, dried, flavored, i.e.-I don't care
(not always in that order and not always together, but I do think it'd be a winning trio.

Soooo thanks to Pinterest for allowing you to fulfill all your needs, habits, hobbies, addictions, and cravings with a search box and hundreds of choices, I made these:
 Say hello, Chocolate Chip & Cherry Bars.

 They aren't very shy.
Can you see the berries peaking out? Make these...like yesterday. 
 
 

They are seriously so easy and soooo good! I used frozen berries and cherries. Next time I might add some quick oats for more texture but they are divine just the way they are. And topped with some Limited Edition Edy's Summer in the City Cheesecake ice cream. And it's pretty much my favorite ever so I guess it's a good thing it's only available for two more months...














And I have had coffee every morning for the past week or so, which signals to me that I am officially an adult, as if there was any question before. WHHHAAAAHH. But like one of my sweet blogger friends so eloquently tweeted recently: "Anyone else get excited that it's almost bed time because that means you can wake up and have coffee soon?"
I feel ya, 110% arabica beans, Rihanna.








                                                          And another great tweet:
                                                "The only World Cup I care about:"

So I'm learning to deal with these cravings. And lastly on cravings--why oh why must we as women have dreams where we are pregnant? I've never been so relieved to wake up! Maybe it was the combination of baby showers recently I've been to, nursery duty at church Sunday, or people I know that are having/had babies recently. In my recent dream, I didn't feel I had anything really inside me until someone pointed it out in my dream and I caught a glimpse in the mirror and boom, baby boom!
Do men have dreams/nightmares they are ever pregnant I wonder? They would probably never admit to it. It is a truly awesome thing and a blessing from God that I look forward to one day, but for a single twenty something year old--it scares the living dirty diapers out of me!
And so I had to get to the bottom of this--I had to know what was really going on in my body to make me have these dreams every now and then. If you or someone you know has these dreams, too, forward them this story:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/13/dreams-about-being-pregnant_n_891547.html
Research found in a Huffington Post article which may or may not be so accurate, but still, it reassured me that it was more my creative side and something new on the horizon, not baby related. Ahhh....deep breathing now...



On a side note, Happy Anniversary to my wonderful parents on 39 years!!! My parents met when they were both at Snead State. They dated six months and knew they were a match!











I am so blessed to be their daughter. My dad is the hardest worker I know and my mom is the sweetest person I know. They have taught me so much and I am so thankful for them supporting and loving me unconditionally.

They are a sweet pair and I wish them 39 more years!








And Happy 9th Anniversary to my sister and bro-in-law, Lauren and Drew--wish you many many many more years of happiness! They met at UA, both working for the Crimson & White campus newspaper. They have the cutest little mut, Dalton.









                              

I adore this...from bird seed to rose petals, 30 years between the two weddings and almost exact expressions! So sweet!

Living Out the Plans
Let's go back to cravings. I titled this blog "Constant Cravings Confessions, etc." from that 90's hit with the same title. Do y'all remember it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXqPjx94YMg
Anyway, cravings...What do they signal? Something you are not getting that you want/need. How much more so than anything like a certain food, drink, hobby, person or thing, should we crave to be in the Lord's presence. Every single day. Not just on Sundays as we worship Him, but through the week in our daily quiet time, small group studies with other believers, or alone out in nature. God is always with us, so how much more so should we crave that intimate time spent with Him, in prayer, worship, and in His Word. The incredibly awesome thing about it, is that the more time we spend with Him, we grow in the depth of our love for Him and crave more and more time spent with Him, which there is no better place to be. I want to crave The Lord more and more each day.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6
"God is the most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."John Piper


I LOVE hearing from YOU so if you have any recipes/advice/suggestions on any of the above topics, and rantings, comment below. I need, or shall I say, CRAVE interaction on this blog. Just please and thank you. Even a hello. Bye. Sip. Sip.
 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Home Buying 101, Book Signing, Baby Shower, Dog Diagnosis, and Other Lessons in Life

New York is still just a blur. It feels like it was yesterday and yet it was three weeks ago. A part of me will always feel I belong there. I honestly don't think I could ever live there though. Rent would eat up my entire paycheck, but it's always nice to visit!
Here's my list of things to do when I do go back:
1. The Highline
2. More Central Park exploring
3. Century 21 for retail therapy
4. Silvercup Studio Tour
5. Levain Bakery
6. Sky lift to Roosevelt Island
7. Billy's Bakery
8. Cafe Lalo from "You've Got Mail"
9.
10.
(TAKING ANY AND ALL IDEAS FOR 9-10, PLEASE! THANKS)

I would like to think I'll decide on a whim to hop a plane and go just myself. Would it be just as magical if you were by yourself? I don't know. I'm positive I would enjoy a beach trip by myself but you kind of want someone with you for big city trips.

For now I'll happily settle for evenings walking on my family's land seeing sunset after sunset just like this...surrounded by lightening bugs and gazing up at the stars at night. I love being in the country.
You can't take this for granted, y'all.

Did you know that "Napoleon Dynamite" celebrated it's 10th anniversary this year?! That makes me feel old. I remember being in high school and rushing over to my friend Caitlin's house after church one night to watch it on DVD--a big deal, and getting my first speeding ticket, another big deal. That was traumatic.
I still blame it on getting caught up in Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" song. You try belting out one of her power ballads and not go over the speed limit. Ugh! Tickets...back to Napoleon!


I have so many beloved quotes from that movie.



Napoleon: "I like your sleeves. They're real big." Deb: "Thanks. I made them myself."
"I want that!"
 
Tina, Pedro, Uncle Rico, tots, Kip, the infamous dance scene at the end...I could go on and on. What are your favorite quotes? I think people either love or hate that movie. For me, it's right up there with "Dumb and Dumber" for a hilarious movie that I can watch again and again.
 
Last week, our Young Professionals group hosted a "Lunch & Learn" networking luncheon at Hospice of Marshall County. Thomas Moore from First Bank Mortgage gave us all some great tips about home buying/selling/renting. It was very educational to know about how to get approved for loans, what levels you should look for when buying, etc. These luncheons are coined to "teach us everything we need to know as an adult but they didn't teach us in school."
 
I had an early meeting in Tuscaloosa last Friday so my mom and I drove down on Thursday and shopped, ate, and walked around campus. I'm always amazed at the changes, new buildings and apartments, etc. that have came in the five years since I've been there. It was a beautiful and surprisingly cool moonlit night for a walk around the Quad. Ahhh...memories.
 
Friday, after my meeting, we met my sister for lunch in Homewood and then went to meet one of our favorite authors, Emily Giffin. She has written seven books and you might remember her first book, "Something Borrowed" was made into a movie. I forgot how many times Shake Shack was featured in all it's gloriousness in that film. It has to be a record. Anyway, for all you fans of the movie, the sequel "Something Blue" is coming out next year, set in my other favorite city, London. Whoop! Anyway, Emily was in Homewood for a book signing at the cutest little bookstore, The Alabama Booksmith
Every book in there has been signed by the author and so many famous authors and personalities have done signings there over the years. Check it out if you are in the area and a bookworm like me.   Emily was really nice and down to earth. She talked informally to the forty or so groupie gals who had gathered inside the little bookstore.
She answered questions and then took photos with us and signed copies of her new book, "The One and Only." I haven't read it yet but it's set in Texas and revolves around college and football. She asked me and Lauren if we talked on the phone everyday. Does texting count? I told her we travel together and like to swap books, haha. I told her she writes in a very thought provoking way. If you haven't read her other books, put some of them on your summer reading list. They really do make you think what you would do in certain situations in life.
 
Hard to top getting to meet one of your favorite authors, but we headed to a bakery Lauren had been raving about called Dream Cakes. They were voted the #1 bakery in Alabama and I instantly fell in love with this Curious George banana peanut butter cupcake! A sweet ending to an already great day.






On Saturday, my good friend and former college roomie, Malarie, had a baby shower. It was outdoors, hosted by one of her and Shannon's good friends, Monica Dooley, who is a professional photographer. Look at the half moon prop behind us. And a lemonade stand for drinks and cake, a quilt covered table, and a house full of props to browse through. So fun! Malarie is just glowing, along with Kelli and Ashley who are also expecting.
So good seeing Cara, Lori, Shelley, Delaney, and all other ladies as we celebrate Mr. James David Allen's arrival next month!

This week, we found out my 11 year old pug, Cuddles, has an enlarged heart and a collapsed trachea. She had been coughing for a few weeks and medicine wouldn't cure it. The enlarged heart and collapsed trachea are both manageable with medication thankfully, but it still makes me feel so bad for her. There is really nothing we could have done to prevent it, but I still hate seeing my baby girl have to take medication everyday for the rest of her life, but hopefully that will be many more years.
The bad news: no exercise or heat exposure. Um...problem #1: She LIVES to eat and problem #2: We live in Alabama. We love to get her out to walk but it looks like that will do more damage to her health, so I guess she'll just be on doggie Weight Watchers now and limit her time outside, especially in the summer!

It's incredibly hot for June. I've had flashbacks to January and February when we have snow for days.
I went walking on my lunch hour one day this week because I wanted to workout--but all I had was tennis shoes in my car. Sooo if you passed by the trail by the lake and saw a girl with a bright turquoise dress and socks and tennis shoes huffing and puffing, that was me. I honestly didn't care what I looked like. I wanted exercise but in 90 degree heat, it's probably not the best thing to do unless you have the rest of the afternoon to crash. Heat exhaustion. Bleh.

All I can think of now is going to the beach! Ahhh...the sand and waves are calling to me.

Has anyone besides me noticed the random lists put on any social media nowadays--especially sites like Buzz Feed, Twitter, Thought Catalog, etc. They are so addicting. What did we ever do without these lists telling us things like: 59 Things You'll Only Understand If You Were a Teen in the Early 2000s, 28 Problems You Have Now But Didn't Have 10 Years Ago, How We've Been Cutting Cake Wrong Our Whole Lives, 20 Things You're Taking For Granted Without Even Realizing It, and 27 Things You Won't Regret When You're Older.
I could spend hours reading these and yelling "AMEN!"and "Aww" at my screen. What has been your favorite list you've read???


Living Out the Plans
I have been thinking that age 27, while not always a good age for celebs, as it's seen as an omen for untimely death, is actually an age I've come to like. I feel like I'm finally settling into my own skin and not afraid to just simply be me. I know what I want in life, and really see more of the big picture now. Most of my 20's have been about trying to discover what I want, who I want to be, where I'm going, etc. While my style, preferences in relationships, and tastes continue to evolve, I feel established, happy and content. I am trying to live without regrets and so over the past few years, I've tried to be more outgoing and take more risks. That's what your 20's are for, right? Nothing that would damage or pose a threat or get your a speeding ticket, but more personal risks that get your out of your comfort zone, grow a little deeper and try new things. I have made a list of things I want to do while I'm in my 20's/Early 30's and will try to work a little harder each and every day to see those goals/wishes come true. Yesterday, I was driving home thinking about these deep life things--a rare thing indeed, and jotted down my thoughts on life's journey we are all on:
We shouldn't fear the journey. The lessons we learn from the challenges we face along the way strengthen us and allow us to face each day stronger than the day before, with more love, peace, hope and joy than we thought possible.
Let's not have regrets. Let's not forget to tell the people closest to us how much they mean to us. Let's not be glued to our phones and miss out on the beauty right in front of us. Let's not back down for what we know is the right thing. Let's live in the now, not yesterday or even tomorrow, but simply be in the present.









 
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Heart NYC-Part 2: Manners, Manhattanhenge, Movie Spots, Macy's and More!

Picking up from where I left off after the last entry, Mom and I had already seen and done a lot in the day and a half in the City. After walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and taking the subway back to the Times Square near the hotel, we changed and got cleaned up for high tea at the Plaza, a Mother's Day gift for my sweet Mom.
I have loved this hotel ever since "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," "The Great Gatsby," "The Way We Were" "Barefoot in the Park" "Bride Wars" and the lists goes on and on. The hotel is over 100 years old and was purchased by Donald Trump in the 1980's for a measly $390 million. Plush hotel rooms and apartments make up the 20 story prestigious building. There is a Betsey Johnson designed suite, known as the "Eloise Suite," a bright pink and animal print decorated fantasy, perfect for any girl. There are many boutique shops and even a food court on the bottom floors.
We took a taxi and arrived at 3:00 to the historic Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue. I had made a reservation a few weeks ago and we were greeted and seated at a cozy table in the elaborate Palm Court.

Our waiter presented us with the tea menu and after looking over the several options, we made our choice: The Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages. How very Gatsby! We settled in for a delightful and restful afternoon after our full morning and midday of touring. We laughed and talked about the highlights of the trip thus far as course by course, the hot tea, clotted cream, jams, and tower of savory and sweet sandwiches, scones, and sweets came out. Mom's favorite was the warm scones and my favorite was the hot tea with cream and sugar. Such a treat that really spoils you into now finding ways to incorporate afternoon tea into every day! If only...

 
So much fun getting dressed up after touring in tennis shoes and jeans all day! The doors to the right led to the apartments and we kept our eyes out for famous celebrities that might be coming in.
After a delicious and filling tea time, we walked (in heels) the 10 blocks back to the hotel. It was during rush hour and there were no cabs-HA!

We changed clothes and took a cab to Pier 83 for the Circle Line Sunset Harbor Cruise. We climbed aboard the boat for "a 2 hour tour" around Manhattan, Ellis Island, New Jersey, The Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn. It was a windy but relaxing ride.


We sat up top and were just turning by the State of Liberty when it began raining. Hard. Luckily we were sitting under the covered awning but those at the bow were not so lucky. People were screaming and scurrying to shelter as we turned and the boat began to tilt sideways!  A teenager in the back yelled "Man overboard!" and we all thought he was serious! It was a wet ride for a while as we were still catching splashes from the large waves from the river. It stopped raining thankfully after about 10 minutes and we kept cruising right along.
  

New Jersey skyline before the downpour
 
Once we all found hope that our little boat that could was going to make it and we were not going to be on the 10:00 news, the sun was setting and it was incredibly visible through the streets seen even on the boat. This is known as the Manhattan Solstice or Manhattanhenge — it occurs twice a year, during which the setting sun aligns with the east–west streets of the main street grid. Very pretty to see that night and the sky turned so many different hues.
 

I highly recommend seeing the city by boat...just don't forget an umbrella and a jacket!

The night was far from over. We had big plans. Since we technically only had pizza and afternoon tea sandwiches and such, we were beginning to get hungry when we exited the cruise around 9:00, so we climbed in a black Excursion with an Asian man named Tony (not as sketch as it sounds) who said he could take us to Union Square. He was nice and the best driver by far. We chatted about our love of Chows, where we were on 9/11, kids, the weather, southern culture, and summer traditions. He dropped us off at Max Brenner, where I had made reservations after hearing from several different people how good the food and chocolate was! We got Tony's card in case we needed a stylish and safer ride in the immediate future, ha!
The place was buzzing, as most of the city doesn't eat or do anything until at least 8 pm. We ordered some hummus as an appetizer and for the entree--chocolate banana sugar waffle with Choco-crispies. We hated it...as you can tell...This was so worth the drive and fare to see a different part of the city. It's like a modern Willy Wonka inspired restaurant.  

We hopped in a cab when we saw someone exit and this driver was out of control. He was by far the worst driver I've ever seen. We were not in a hurry to get back nor did we want him to murder anyone on the streets. But we couldn't communicate this to him...oh well. We survived somehow and even asked to be let out a few blocks early!

On Saturday, we took the subway to what I thought and had googled to be Chelsea Market. So we got off and started walking. I didn't see anything according to my phone GPS that looked like it..so after walking in circles, we finally asked a young person and she quickly told us what street it was on. Turns out Chelsea Marketplace and Chelsea Market are two different places! And soooo we then begin our 15 block walk rather fast. Sure we could have taken a cab or even got on another subway, but it was a nice morning and we decided to laugh it off and enjoy seeing parts of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.  Once we arrived at the Market, we soon got to see first hand why it is one of the greatest indoor food halls of the world, with more than 35 vendors purveying everything from soup to nuts, wine to coffee, cheese to cheesecake. Attracting 6 million national and international visitors annually, it is one of the most trafficked, and written-about, destinations of any kind in New York City. And we came hungry. It did not disappoint. One place on the list: Amy's Bread. It was so yummy! We were there early on Saturday so there was no wait and the food was so fresh! I opted for an iced coffee, a low fat applesauce mini bundt cake and a black and white cookie for later. You can't go to New York and not get one. That would be such a crime!
Another spot to check out: Fat Witch Bakery! They specialize in brownies, of all different shapes, colors, and flavors!





By 10:30, the place was getting crowded! It has an urban feel to it, with all kinds of different smells from fresh fish, cupcakes, lobster, breads, Asian, etc.


We would have loved to stay but we knew our time was limited. So we hailed a cab and were dropped off at 66 Perry Street.

Recognize it?

 
 Yep, it's "the stoop." Home of Carrie Bradshaw in the HBO series "Sex & the City." I was in love. Who wouldn't want to call this brownstone home? Our cab driver was a little puzzled as to why were getting out here. We were the only ones for a while as we snapped some photos and then a few fans like myself came pouring in and doing the same.
 

After that famous stop, we knew the next on our American TV quest:  
 It's the "Friends" apartment & coffee shop. But not really. Ha! It's not "Central Perk," like in the show, but rather "The Little Owl." But the apartment upstairs looks the same, doesn't it? This iconic friendly spot is off the beaten path on Bedford Street, and we ran into one of the same groups we saw a few blocks north at the SJP Stoop! We got another cab to take us to North Moore Street for another movie site:
 
 This one is a little more obvious! "Who ya gonna call?" Our cab driver was a different one than before, but was still just as puzzled as to what our business was here. We didn't want to lose our cab (it was windy and I was wearing a dress and our next stop was on the lower east side), so we asked him to wait while we took a photo. We tried to explain about the movie "Ghostbusters" but I'm not sure if he got it. He was from Dubai and was passionate about two things we learned quickly: 1) pastrami and tongue from Katz Deli and 2) country music! He was more than happy to drop us off at Katz and told us where he had lived in the world, how much money he made as a cab driver in the city ($125,000 a year and 12 weeks vacation), and where he likes to take his "lady friend" on dates. He explained how Katz Deli worked--hold on to the ticket they give you when you come in and order at the counter. That's what we did but we were still lost and confused by the ordering process.
 
We expected a crowd of people waiting outside, it being noon on a Saturday, but surprisingly we walked right in and up to the counter. We were so clueless on what to order. I don't eat pastrami, salami, and didn't want to risk tongue. I tried to order a Knish but I didn't understand what the guy at the counter said...so I walked down and ordered fries, ha! Mom ordered a burger and we split everything. It was more about the experience. There are photos of the famous people who have eaten there all around and the decor hasn't changed since the 1970's. The restaurant itself was founded in 1888 by immigrant families. Years later, they had three sons serving in World War II and coined the slogan "Send a salami to your boy in the army!" and it stuck. It was of course made even more famous by the 80's movie "When Harry Met Sally." We were sitting behind the table that states "Hope you had what she had!" and I'll leave it at that! ;) The food was ok and we even spotted the owner, wearing baggy clothes and walking around like he owned the place, lol!
 Feeling full and ready for more adventures, we decided to take the subway to Macy's for some shopping. It bothered Mom and I that we had been to New York several times but never to the original Herald Square flagship store. This original Macy's is America's largest department store, covering an entire city block and 10 and a half stories! The original escalators (over 100 years old) are still in operation. We fought the Saturday shopping crowds, rode the escalators to each of the floors and I found a cute maxi dress, my only purchase of the trip. We decided not to waste anymore time inside on such a beautiful day and headed back to the hotel to change and head to Central Park. 

 It began raining when we were on our way to Belvedere Castle and so we took shelter in a pavilion across from the castle to wait it out with about a hundred other people. Then the sun came out and we roamed the small castle and explored more of Central Park. It's huge and there's never enough time to see even a fourth of the 843 acres! It is the most visited urban park in the United States-- 35 million visitors each year, and also the most filmed location in the world, so of course we had to visit on Saturday along with our other movie/TV hot spots! Strawberry Fields is always nice to visit, where the Imagine mosaic tribute to John Lennon is placed. There is always singers playing his music and flowers and candles burning in his memory.

After that, we changed for dinner and met some friends in our group, John and Linda Springfield and some other people at a local Italian place, Da Marino's. After that, Mom and I decided to enjoy our last night in the City by going to the Times Square Marriott Hotel restaurant The View. It is the only revolving rooftop restaurant in New York City. We toasted to a great trip while watching the sunset over the Hudson River and seeing some of the rooftops of the city's most iconic buildings.
 
After changing clothes for what seemed like the 10th time that day, we headed out on Times Square to take it all in one more time, in the prime crowd time! People everywhere, from all different walks of life. I had scored a free shake from Shake Shack so I couldn't let that go to waste, right? We waited only a few minutes and were sipping our free PB shake in no time!
We walked around some more to burn off the shake, ha, and then spotted this famous place:
 Yep, Cake Boss Cafe. Not that we had any room left for food, but when it's the last night in NYC and the store just shows up right in front of your eyes...you can always make room for a cannoli! The cupcake was less than desirable but the cannoli was worth writing (blogging) home about! And the bobble head statue of Buddy was just priceless!
 
 
 Times Square is so crazy crowded but unlike any other place in the world! It's excitement, culture, shopping, neon lights, all different smells and sounds all packed into one central spot.  
 
And so Sunday morning came early. Too early! Always hard to say goodbye to a place you love, but I must quote a great author and friend, Elizabeth Mozley McGrady in her book about her adventure in the city, "We Share the Same Sky" when she talks about the city being beautiful and having such a love for it "but it's not home." It's always good to be back to familiarity and your roots. I'm hoping I'll get to go back sometime soon, to check off even more of the things I didn't get to do this time and things I saw I must experience next time--Roosevelt Island sky lift, Silvercup Studio tour, and The High Line park to name a few. Until then, I'm sipping my sweet tea, eating my basic pb sandwich, and getting back to normal but reflecting on a wonderful trip and lots of memories made with my Mom in a city we love.  

LIVING OUT THE PLANS
I used to want to live in NYC. And then I learned about a budget, jobs, and the cost of living, specifically in Manhattan, when rent is more than one paycheck. Isn't life always like that? We have our own agenda, our own plan of how we think things will turn out for us, but as we get older, we realize what really makes us happy and try not to look back on what might have been. There are times when I do wonder if I could have survived my first few years out of college living in Manhattan. I wonder what I would have done for work, where I would have lived, who I would have met, etc. But I am so happy with where God has me now and where He has brought me. We are all wherever we are meant to be at the here and now. God has so much planned for us and we shouldn't be afraid or worry about the what ifs, what tomorrow holds, or who we are going to meet; He has it all in His perfect plan. He tells us in Psalm 46:10 to "Be still and know that I am God." In the hustle and bustle of this life, city or country, we all are too familiar with what busyness is, it's important to just be still. I like traveling and observing different people in different places. From Grand Central, Central Park, 9/11 Museum, the airport, and just people on the street, it's always interesting to me to see how people live and interact. We are making a mark on society in what we do, how we treat people, and how we live our life. Take a breather and smile and know God has us right where He wants us.
What are your observations about where you are now and where you are going? Who or what has brought you there? What do you like most/least about traveling? These are the things I ponder...Let me know your thoughts and as always,
THANKS FOR READING! :)




                           EMPIRE STATE OF MIND...