February 20, 2017

Weekend Strolls

This weekend was one for walking. We clocked in a little over 20 miles this weekend. We checked out the street art in Bushwick. We found outdoor seating in Williamsburg. I reapplied sunscreen multiple times. We ate the greatest deviled eggs ever at Extra Fancy. I found some new shoes at Nordstrom Rack - this was a big deal because it was almost impossible to find two shoes that matched. We walked the Highline. We tried three new coffee places and were not disappointed. We sat on our balcony because it was that nice out.

It's crazy to have this weather in February. I'm terrified what this summer will be like if this is winter, but I'm happy we got to spend time outside. I miss walking around in the city with just a sweatshirt and discovering new places. More Sunday strolls are in my future.

Hope you had a great weekend and got to enjoy the weather outside.

February 17, 2017

Our Catskill Favorites

The Catskills region has become one of our favorite destinations in the northeast. It's a two hour drive from the city and there are so many places to explore in that area. We have spent many weekends in that area in all different seasons and it never disappoints. There is no shortage of things to do.

We just got back from a ski weekend up there and I'm already plotting a Springtime return. We have always used AirBNB or VRBO to rent a dog friendly place and have had the best luck, but I've read about lots of dog friendly hotels as well.

Here are 5 of our favorite places in the region:

Woodstock - This is a popular one, but for obvious reasons. It is not where the actual festival took place, but it does it's part to keep the history alive. Every store sells tie-dye shirts and incense. There are record shops, book stores and some amazing food. You can hike up Overlook Mountain or drive to one of 25 other awesome hiking spots within a 10 minute drive.

Phoenicia - This little town is another 20 minutes up Rte 28, but worth the extra drive. It sits on a river and has a tiny little main street. You can't miss the Phoenicia Diner - but be prepared to wait if you go at noon. We've always snuck in around 10 and had no problem being sat quickly. In the summer, you can enjoy tubing in the river as well.

Tannersville - This little pastel colored town in further north from the first two. You can't miss it because every building is painted a bright color. We camped near here for a weekend a few years ago and have been back many times since. Last Chance Restaurant is our favorite for a coffee & baileys or a cold beer. They have great food too and a small retail space where you can find enough candy & cheese to be happy all weekend.

Hunter Mountain - This is one of our favorite ski resorts because it's close enough to get to for a day trip (if we are ambitious) and there is a ton of variety. They also have the greatest zip line ever that is open all year round - although I would suggest visiting in the Summer or Fall for the best experience. You can read about my Tarzan experience here. The Mountain is really close to Tannersville, so that's a good place to stay if you want to get in as much skiing as possible.

Sundown - This is a tiny town that might not even show up on a map, but it happens to be where we spent New Years this year and I loved it. It's situated on a river in between a couple of taller mountains so you can zero cell service. We could hear the river running from every room in the rental house and it was wonderful. We ate food, played games and sat by the fire and it was the best way to ring in 2017.

The idea of the Catskills makes me think of growing up in Minnesota and everyone "going up north" each weekend to a cabin or campsite. This is similar. There aren't lakes, but there are mountains and rivers and quiet. It just screams Hygge to me.

If you need me, I'll just be here plotting my return. Happy Friday!

February 16, 2017

Life Lately: Trevor Noah, Flamingos & Famous Neighbors

Does anyone have a hard time just keeping up with the news lately on top of all the normal life things? There are no dull days - that's for sure. I'm going to just dump a few things onto the internet today so they are out of my brain.

Let me start with Trevor Noah. I love him. Yesterday, I was trying to find a fun date night idea that wasn't too expensive and I checked his website to find that there were guaranteed seat tickets for last night. Best luck ever. We laughed our faces off for a few hours and then stuffed our faces with the greatest veggie burger I've ever eaten at The Jones in Hells Kitchen. It was made with sweet potatoes and edamame. If you're never watched The Daily Show, it's amazing.

It was Lola's birthday this week, so we treated her to this new dog bed from Target and it is the cutest thing ever. I love the Oh Joy stuff, but it never seems to work with our apartment. I decided that I didn't care with this bed and Lola has been in it under my desk all morning. Totally worth it.

I shared a few weeks ago that I signed up to be a Beautycounter consultant. This week, they were featured as one of the most innovative companies in 2017 because of their constant lobbying in Washington DC for safer cosmetics. It's the main reason that I love the company - they don't just sell safer cosmetics and beauty products, but they fight for their industry. You can read more about them and shop using this link. I'm also happy to talk more abuot it, so let mek now if you have any questions or want to get involved.

I tweeted this on Monday night while watching Devil Wears Prada and then it got retweeted by Adrian Grenier himself. If you remember this story, this is not my first encounter with my neighbor. I feel creepy now and need to back off.
Last year, I was floating around on a giant flamingo on this date. This year, I'm counting down to our Vermont ski trip. They say variety is the spice of life, but I am dreaming of pulling out this little gem and finding some warm temperatures.

The Plastic Bag ban has been put on hold and it makes me raging pissed. While I understand where he is coming from, it kills me that this is going to take another year or so to figure out. I'm going to continue to challenge our law makers to get out on the streets and help pick up trash or attend a Surfrider beach clean up. NYC friends - if you're interested in doing a beach clean up, let me know and we can do it together!!

Reminder, I have a hashtag that I want you to use - plus I want to donate money on your behalf. Jump onboard. Read more here.

Also, I've been working with another blogger on a super awesome project that we will announce next week. It started with this post about the blogging world. I can't wait to see what everyone think.

I'll leave you with this Vonnegut quote because it struck a chord with me today.

February 14, 2017

The Bookshelf: Vol. 10

I'm definitely ahead of my game this year so far. My goal is 40 books and I've checked 7 off of my list so far. Winter is usually my best reading time because I love sitting on the couch curled up in comfortable pajamas and a book. I also can thank my obsessive library hold list. I got a little click happy at the beginning of the year and my holds have been coming up fast. I have five library books currently on my nightstand.

Here is my thoughts on the books I've checked off so far:

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty - (Goodreads/Amazon) If you've read anything by this author and liked it, then you will probably like this too. Her style is very similar in all her books. This was a good story, a little slow at the beginning, but I enjoyed it. I'm super excited for the new HBO show based on a book written by Moriarty.

A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell - (Goodreads/Amazon) I love reading people's fish out of water stories especially when they are laid out in a diary style. This reminded me of the Happiness Project because it went month by month with a different focus each month. If you're a regular reader here, you probably saw this post about my favorite Danish term, so it's probably clear that I'm diving straight into my Scandinavian roots this year and loving every minute. There was a ton of interesting information about Denmark that went above and beyond Hygge.

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg - (Goodreads/Amazon) I didn't know what I would think of this book. It gives you the history of a little town in middle America from the day it was created to today. I didn't think I would like that many characters and that much time passing, but I was so wrong. The story made me smile the entire time. It was beautifully written and it may not have been the most thrilling book, but I'm so glad I gave it a shot.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly - (Goodreads/Amazon) I wanted to read this book before seeing the movie. I wouldn't recommend that. It had so many references to things I had never heard of in the world of NASA and physics and math. I'm still really excited to see the movie, but I didn't love the way the book read.

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines - (Goodreads/Amazon) I love Fixer Upper, so I had to get my hands on this book. It was a super quick read. The story kind of bounces around a little, but you find out more of their background and how they got to where they are. If you aren't fans of the show, you probably wouldn't love the book, but if you've watched it and like them, I would definitely recommend this.

And my two absolute favorites so far this year:

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - (Goodreads/Amazon) I loved this book. It's a story about an immigrant from Western Africa. It follows his journey to try and become a citizen. There is no real crazy plot lines, it just feels like a real story and I loved following along. The ending seems more real life than I was expecting which I appreciated. I thought this author was wonderful and I hope she writes more.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - (Goodreads/Amazon) This book made me cry so many tears at the end. We got it for my sister in law for Christmas and because of my library timing, we ended up reading it about the same time. It's so fun to be able to talk about a book with someone else (I should really find a book club in NYC - any ideas?) The story was beautifully written and I loved it.

Have you read any of these? Do you agree? Again, my rating scale is all over the place on Goodreads - so I figured I would just tell you which ones I definitely recommend.

Linking up with Steph and Jana for their monthly book link up. Happy Valentine's Day. Share the love. Also, check back on the blog later this week for a chance to share the blog love with each other. I've been working on a little idea for a while now and I can't wait to share!!

February 10, 2017

Insert Hygge Here

If you've been on Pinterest or Instagram this year, you've probably seen the word Hygge. Maybe you've even read this blog for two years and you remember the original post I did on this magical concept. Maybe you're wondering what in the hell I'm talking about.

Hygge is a Danish word that doesn't really have a translation. That makes it a little more magical for me. It's a feeling, an atmosphere, an environment. In my opinion, it's everything that winter should be, but it's not just a cold weather thing.

What you see on the Letterboard there is the definition I like the best. It pulls together phrases from a few different people. Imagine your happiest Saturday and Sunday mornings. If you're like me, they involve books, dogs, comfy pajamas, long walks, brunch/coffee with people I love and not much "screen time." It's about slowing down and taking it all in - the little things and the big things, the people that make you happy, the moments you love.

Sometimes pictures capture these moments better than trying to describe them in words. I'm sharing ten different words that follow the Little Book of Hygge's Manifesto so you get another description of this magical concept.

Truce - No drama, just happy memories - kind of like spending a weekend morning celebrating the Lunar New Year with confetti everywhere and a whole bunch of strangers dancing and smiling.

Pleasure - All of the wonderful things in small portions so you can really enjoy them. These were chocolate chip cookies made with cake batter that we enjoyed right before Christmas. Being on this sugar detox, I feel like I can smell them in this picture.

Presence - Be here right now. I remember the big blizzard we had last year, we just sat in our pajamas and drank coffee and watched the snowfall. No TV, no phones (other than to snap a photo) and the feeling that we lived in a snow globe.

Shelter - Having your comfort zone and your little family close by. There is nothing better than having both dogs laying with me while I read in the early mornings.

Gratitude - The simple moments where you notice the wonderful in very smallest things and really take time to appreciate it. Like the way that snow sits on the green needles of a tree. I love when there is fresh snow.

Harmony - Those moments were no one is racing to be the best, they are just working together and enjoying each other. This snowman was made by a couple of kids in our old neighborhood and they spent hours getting it built just right. It was impressive.

Comfort - Surround yourself with things that make you comfortable. For me, it's good blankets, sweatpants, twinkle lights, candles and books. Clearly, I'm on a deadline with these books because I went a little crazy at the library.

Equality - More "we" and less "me" - however you accomplish this feeling, it's important. We spend a lot more time in crowds like this one, but it's a powerful feeling because you are reminded that it's so much bigger than just you. It's humbling and empowering all at the same time. I'm so proud to be part of this "we."

Atmosphere - Almost anything you read about Hygge, you will find references to fireplaces and candles. We aren't lucky enough to have a fireplace (#lifegoals), but we enjoy them anytime we can. I always seek out fireplaces when looking for a place to stay for ski trips or weekends out of the city. We have tons of smaller lights in our living area so that when we have a scrabble night, we don't need to have the overhead lights on. It just feels cozy.

Togetherness - Building memories and relationships is easy to do when you are focused on others and harmony and living in the moment. One of the best nights we had last year was the night this picture was taken. We found a fun rooftop spot that had outdoor spaces and one was a tent with a canoe inside with big fluffy blankets. We drank wine and all four of us shoved into the canoe and just enjoyed the fact that we were there - on a boat, on a rooftop, in the middle of Manhattan in December.

One of the things we've been working on lately is spending less time on our phones and in front of screens, but I don't mind taking a quick picture if the timing is right. And you know what they say, a picture is worth one billion words.

So, with that said, I have a challenge for all of you and there's a prize involved. Any time you share a picture on Instagram that feels cozy, happy, magical - use the hashtag #inserthyggehere so that I can enjoy it with you. I'm going to share a few of my favorites on the blog and at the end of this winter season, I'll choose my favorite Hygge pictures and I'll be giving away the book I talked about earlier in this post and donating to a cause of the winner's choice.

You can see what's been added to the hashtag already to get some inspiration by clicking here and follow me on Instagram if you don't already. I can't wait to see your photos. We are heading north this weekend to FINALLY ski and I'm already looking forward to hot drinks next to the fireplace. Cheers to the weekend!