Oh New York, it is so hard to leave you. After 15 years together, I’m still as giddy as a school girl when someone mentions your name. You’d think after all this time I would just be sick of you.
Well…to be honest…I was sick of you for a bit. When you are lucky enough to live in what you consider your favorite place on the planet, it does not change the fact that you live there.
Life has certain inescapable daily responsibilities: work, appointments, errands, children, etc. So when you move in down the street from some gorgeous museum or fantastic restaurant and you think, ‘I will go there every week,’ it says something when you realize you have been to said museum/restaurant once, if at all, in the past several years.
When you realize all you really do at the end of a day is lie down on the floor exhausted while you eat the left over Chinese food you lazily ordered the night before, you begin to feel as though you might appreciate that beautiful museum and fantastic restaurant more if you could just come to visit New York City one day.
Absence does make the heart grow fonder, New York, and now that you have been set in relief for the last 3 months I can take this opportunity to romanticize the idea of you again.
But what I discovered during this week long visit to NYC was something very different than what I had expected to find. Yes, I miss Fairway (a dream of a grocery store, if they would just let me live in a storage closet there, I would leave my family to do so), I miss a good plop down in Sheep Meadow with the Sunday Times (although, I’ve missed that since G was born), and yes, I even miss the potentially frustrating hustley bustley way of life.
But what I miss the most are our people, our fabulous friends who we have known for years, who we’ve watched grow and change, who have cheered for us when we’ve reached
huge milestones, and who have scooped us up when we’ve hit dicier times. Modern technology does provide the reassurance our nearest and dearest are always a click or two away, but it’s really no substitute for that spontaneous coffee or that walk around the block when you just need someone’s ear or they need yours. You know what I’m talking about.
So, when we went to New York City for just one week we planned all sorts of touristy adventures, but instead we ditched all those plans and broke bread every day with people we love. That is what makes it hard to leave you New York. I’m sure Sydney has its charms, but I know it does not have our people.
The next post contains all the photos of dinner with friends and will be password protected by order of the Queen to protect the innocent…or something like that. If you forgot the password you can use the form below to email me. There are some goodies in there.
We came down to St. Martin for a vacation. We don’t go on “vacation” vacations. Michael and I are very similar in our tastes and we’d always much rather explore a place for its culture, food or history, rather than just plop down on a beach somewhere.
But our life currently feels like a constant vacation and from that we needed a vacation. There is something to be said for the all inclusive resort tucked away on a Caribbean Island. It’s not our style (for reasons I will spare you from), but in the end we all decompressed with no internet, phones, or errands…just a pool, a beach, an ocean, a book.
St. Martin is in the Caribbean, it’s half Dutch and half French and that was all I learned about it. There was also this spider. G checked on him twice a day to be sure he was alright.
The whole week Michael kept asking me if I was ok, he said I had a look on my face he wasn’t used to seeing and it concerned him. We finally decided it was just how I looked when I was relaxed.
Our next stop was New York City.
Click here for the full story of the Traveling Gnome Calendar.
Husk – Famous chef (Sean Brock) who is using nothing but local ingredients, right down to the chocolate and flour… He had a huge profile piece in the New Yorker. It’s the place to go in Charleston. Go there for lunch, brunch or dinner. It’s in an old Victorian home in the historic district and is utterly charming. And the food is delicious.
Of course I took for granted that it is the best place in town and was never able to get a table. Meow.
Cypress – Where Husk is old school, this place is modern. Very cool restaurant conveniently located in town. I recommend getting the patty melt. It’s a burger sandwich type thing that’s totally addictive. Oh my goodness so good. Rich and filling. Best to share. Of course there are a hundred other things on the menu that are winners too.
WildFlour Pastry for sticky buns on Sundays! They are out of control. Go early, people literally line up for them. The woman who runs this place, Lauren Mitterer, is awesome and usually covered in flour and butter. It’s tiny and they have yummy pastries and pot de crèmes, key lime pies, but the sticky buns – on Sundays only — are to die for.
You could actually die from them if you had one every Sunday. But boy oh boy are they good.
Sugar Bakeshop– charming, wonderful wonderful bakery for cookies, cupcakes, etc. Even little mini bite-size tarts that are fantastic. Everything inside this tiny space feels like you’ve stepped back in time. From the glass cookie jars to the old apothecary cases filled with treats. In a residential neighborhood, run by two fun guys (an architect from NY and his partner who is originally from Charleston).
Hominy Grill – fantastic place (near Sugar Bakeshop) for all that southern food – shrimp, grits, amazing biscuits, etc. It’s a lovely fun place to go for breakfast or lunch. Yum!
Are you kidding? Tomato pudding. That’s all I need to say, plus they are really kid friendly.
Peninsula Grill for a slice of Coconut Cake. They are famous famous famous for their utterly decadent Coconut Cake. And if you are downtown, it’s walking distance from everywhere.
If you are looking for old school cocktails (read: they take 5-10 minutes to concoct your cocktail, right down to the perfect ice cube) try the Gin Joint. On the same street as Cypress.
If you have time and a car, try heading out to Bowens Island (they open at 5pm) for the ultimate seafood shack experience. Super fun!
NOOOO!!! They are closed on Sundays so we missed this spot too. It’s well worth planning ahead when you dine out in this town, it’s small so places fill up fast.
But not to be defeated we found a new spot called The Ordinary where we indulged in all kinds of expertly prepared seafood and fresh oysters. The space opened in 2012 and is in my favorite phase of a restaurant—the extra hospitable phase.
The beautiful, open space was full so we sat at the oyster bar where you can see inside the kitchen to watch the chef and staff at work, a very methodic ballet.
Chef Mike Lata spotted G at the bar and asked us if he’d like a little something special which his young son enjoys. He brought out amazing, smokey baked beans and mashed potatoes you could frost a cake with. It was a terrific experience.
We spent our time in Charlotte, North Carolina in constant deliberation as to whether or not we should take G to Urgent Care for a persistent, week long fever of 104 (!!!). BUT—we were able to visit a playground to see this ladybug…
the Discovery Place to see this octopus…
Sorry Charlotte. That’s all we had time for. We hear you have a lovely NASCAR museum. Maybe next time.
But then we were off to Charleston, South Carolina (where of course I got sick—but are Moms really allowed to be sick? No…not really).
Charleston. Oh Charleston. Of all the towns we’ve visited in the United States, Charleston has thrilled me the most. This is not just because I am sort of an old fogey who signs her name like she just signed the Declaration of Independence, but because it took me by surprise. I paid attention to boys in high school when I should have paid attention to my history teacher, so I was shocked to learn that Charleston is steeped not only in Civil War history, but in Revolutionary War history as well. It rivals Boston, New Orleans and even New York City for its beautifully preserved, historic architecture.
I wish I had the time to write a fully detailed post about the many incredible sights, but alas…not only do I not, we also didn’t have the opportunity to explore nearly as much as we would have liked. It is definitely a spot Michael and I decided we would visit for a long weekend again one day when we can take the proper tourist horse and buggy ride.
Of course, not only is Charleston full to the brim with history, it is also full of incredible food…most of it sweet. In fact, one hot afternoon I ordered mint iced tea from a man who asked if I wanted sweetened or unsweetened.
‘How sweet is sweet?’ I asked.
‘This is the south,’ he said.
From the Archives:
I’m exhausted and starving.
I sit with G in a corner booth at a hamburger joint on the Upper West Side while I contemplate the purchase I just made at a posh cosmetics outlet next door. I’m pretty sure the saleswoman up sold me. Yep, I’m pretty sure I let that happen. I know I don’t NEED this NARS blusher in ‘orgasm’. Why didn’t I just say NO when she said the word orgasm. This is why I don’t run errands when I’m hungry. I went into the store just to pick up the one facial moisturizer on the planet with SPF 30 that doesn’t make my face break out and I walk out with a NARS blusher called orgasm. I know, I’ll stop saying it.
As I replay the events in my head of how that saleswoman bamboozled me, I suddenly hear G squeal with delight. I look up to see him practically hurl himself over the top of the booth to get to the table next to us.
‘Whoa mister!’ I laugh as I grab his thick little waist, ‘Where are you going?’
And then I see her. She’s about 6, maybe 7. She’s wearing a darling little marinière dress with a tousled mess of dark curls and a devilish grin on her face that’s missing a couple of teeth. G is trying to get to her table. I pull him down.
‘Sorry,’ I smile to the girl’s father. I look down at my menu and there is the squeal again, only this time it’s in response to the little lady shoving her hand over the booth and under G’s armpit to give him a ticklish squeeze. Her tongue has popped out the side of her mouth due to her concentrated effort and I’m pretty sure I just saw an actual twinkle in her eye. G flops down on the bench as he tries to catch his breath. Then he jumps up again to surprise her and she shoves her hand under his arm again while peals of those great and pure toddler giggles come pouring out of him.
My goodness, I think. How am I going to put an end to this? I’m not even sure the iPad stands a chance against this little mouse. But then I see her father sign his credit card slip.
He looks up at G and says, ‘Bye, we have to go,’ to which our little hero responds with what we like to call, stink face.
This is a classic nose scrunch/mouth frown combo that makes him look like an 80 year old man who just accidentally passed gas and tries to blame it on someone else.
The father laughs and says…’I'm sorry! We have to go.’
The little girl’s eyes suddenly grow larger as she shoots her hand over the booth for one last armpit squeeze. With a wicked little grin she waves a playful goodbye.
As she leaves the table, G chucks himself face first down onto the bench, crestfallen. He lies there catatonic, his face is frozen in disappointment. The other patrons around us try to suppress their giggles.
‘Don’t worry,’ I say. ‘There are plenty of other girls in the sea.’
The waitress comes over to take our order and says, ‘Your son was just flirting with Tina Fey‘s daughter. They come in here all the time,’ she laughs, ‘I just thought you’d like to know.’
I had big bloggy plans for Christmas in New York. I wanted photos of the famous Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows, the Rockefeller skaters under the Christmas tree, and the giant snowflake that hangs over 5th Ave.
What happened instead was this…
…both haphazardly shot with my iPhone. My talented husband was only in the city for a few days so I had to fend for myself in all things photographic. Meow, meow.
SOOOOOOOOOO…I had to do what every modern woman of the blogosphere does and politely
steal showcase other people’s photojournalism.
And what I’ve found, continues to amaze me. As technology advances and people’s desire to document and share their world grows, beautiful photos are in abundance. In 2009, I looked for a photo of one of the holiday windows on the internet and there were none to be found, not a one. My only option to see it again was to buy a $500 coffee table book of Bergdorf holiday windows gone by. Four years later, I now have the luxury to curate which photos from the internet I enjoy the most.
We are officially on the road now with Les Miserables through August of 2013 and while we are thrilled for Michael’s career, excited to be together and can’t wait for the adventure that lies ahead, Michael snapped a few somber photos of the Upper West Side as a little tribute to the past. These 2 shots are of 73rd (looking west)…
and 74th off of Columbus (looking east)…
These 2 streets look almost exactly the same as they looked 20 years ago. The shots of these same streets from Broadway show an UWS that has been completely transformed in the last 10 years. And that’s good…life marches forward…but there’s something so romantic about these untouched brownstones…
Our next stop was Philly.
Traveling back in time again…this time to December 2012…we flew from Kansas City to Washington DC via an airplane with a fox on the wing, which we all really dug.
But I will not lie, our time in DC was not as well spent as it could have been. Things were busy and pressured and then of course, the awful news out of Connecticut…
But there is so much to ingest in DC, historically & culturally, I thought I’d take you even further back in time to our 2011 visit…where Michael officially began to Dream the Dream.
(Mind you, what you see below is FAR from a comprehensive list)
They are all free (with the exception of a few like the Spy Museum and the Newseum). This makes it easy to walk in, spend an hour, walk out, go back the next day.
The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History-Dinosaurs and diamonds make a perfect combination.
National Museum of American History-Our Nation’s preserved history runs the gamut from the Civil War to Dorothy’s slippers.
The National Gallery of Art-Just beautiful. We went in 2011 when G was just 18 months. We wandered back again one somber afternoon in 2012 to find it filled with flowers for the holidays.
MONUMENTS & MEMORIALS:
Let’s see—we have the Lincoln Memorial…
…The Jefferson Memorial…
…The World War II Memorial…
…the Washington Monument.
…and Watergate, as seen here in the background. We like to call these 2 shots—The Bourne Identity-Escape From Watergate—where G plays a young Matt Damon.
And then, of course, we have the White House. You can view it from the front…you can view it from the back…and if you look closely you can find this little button on a gate that does not work any longer, but says Welcome.
For the full 2011 DC posts, click the links below.
Next stop was NYC.