After Caroline's wedding, Matt and I headed up to the cottage for the week for some R&R, and it was great! Sunny days, pretty sunsets, great food and wine, and cozy fires all with the husband. Here are a few iPhone shots from the week:
Next stop? Vegas!
Matt and I decided to go to Montreal after my brother Adam and his wife Jessica mentioned they were going to go, and that they go almost every year. So we pretty much crashed their trip. After we had booked it, we realized it was the weekend before their anniversary, so we were also sort of anniversary crashing. We only spent an evening and brunch the next day with them, though, so we didn't do everything together. We decided to take the VIA to avoid weekend traffic on Friday night and Sunday evening, which was a really great decision. There was a seat sale and we ended up going business class on the way there because it was cheaper than the economy seats (which we had on the way back - no sale there...so weird). Here is a mix of Canon and iPhone pictures I took throughout the weekend.
Ohhh the selfie. I took this as it decided to be ridiculously humid and raining about a half hour before I left, and I knew that even with an umbrella, there is no way my hair would have looked like this by the time I reached union. I was correct. I sent this to Matt as proof I did try and look decide for my first VIA train ride.
Train food in business class - actually not too bad!
Arrived - Notre Dame at night - so pretty
The only view really - Saturday there was a wedding and Sunday was mass - didn't get to go in.
Late night snack and drinks at Dolcetto & Co. - great tapas place
Day 2 - Le Cartet for brunch - delicious
Matt "you match that bridge, stay still", Me "I'm soooooo hot, hurry up!"
I told Matt we could just go to Sugar Beach to get a shot like this, but he liked it
Little tug boat!
Just meant to shoot the background but Matt framed this power box beautifully, haha
Not sure if this is used anymore, but there were no barriers...
Matt loved these buildings
Churches and beautiful architecture everywhere
Science Centre - I immediately sent this to Marta, haha
Old Montreal along the cobbles (sooooo hot)
A print we were going to go back and get before we left...but forgot
Stereotypical...but sad we didn't actually eat any here!
Concrete and flowers
Who lives here?
Love all these different buildings attached together
Notre Dame in the day
Just beside Notre Dame
This was the only thing I remembered about Old Montreal...
Watching some afternoon jazz
Haha, these kids were so funny. I don't think this fountain is actually meant to swim around in...
Now this is a great version of Street Meat
Stumbled onto Montreal's version of Caribana
Trois Brasseurs for a refreshing beer (I picked the girliest one)
Being real for a moment - this is what melted off makeup, pulled back hair, and sweaty from walking around in 40 degree weather for 6 hour ME looks like....not pretty.
We were about the cross the road and then passed hundreds of naked bikers...yeah...
In Adam & Jessica's Lobby at Le Crystal Hotel (beautiful boutique choice)
Cheers! Sorry these next few are a bit dark...
Dinner at Bocata - they had the most amazing food and wine ever - highly recommended!!!
Cheers to family and great wine!
Some late night jazz for Matt (this guy's piano technique was awesome)
Adam drinking espresso like the queen
Last stop of the night? Schwartz's Deli (boys loved smoked meat)
Day 3 - I honestly was not posing for this, I think I was looking at something...
Adam decided to love the other end, haha
Jessica - always looking pretty even after a night out
Breakfast at Le Gros Jambon
(all looking a bit tired this morning)
A very cool gallery wall
Haha, great menu pic
Piggy plate filled with delicious french toast
BIODOME!!!! Hey, I really wanted to go to the science centre too...
Parrots cleaning each other = love
A bit blurry but such a happy penguin!
Emperor penguins (looks like a vignette but really is just foggy glass, haha)
They really know how to pose!
Love the crazy art along St. Laurent
**Not featured - lunch at the Ice House - such good mexican food!**
Pretty boutique filled with vintage finds - Hope would have LOVED it!
Overall an amazing weekend and I can't wait to go back next year. So much we didn't do - like go to any of the nice parks, take a bike ride, go to the science center (haha), eat poutine, and more old Montreal side street wanderings for nibble and wine. We stayed at the Marriott Chateau Champlain which was central and the room was nice. Adam and Jess stayed at Le Hotel Crystal which was amazing! They had their own DECK (not just balcony, but an actual cedar deck). Best restaurants were Bocata and Dolcetto & Co for food, and Le Cartet for brunch. Ice House was really good too - just more a casual place with lots of fresh ingredients plus a little deep frying, haha. Note to ladies - heels and cobblestones are tricky!
Today Matt and I headed to Leslieville to meet up with Jamie and Hope to wander around. We wanted to enjoy the sunshine and somewhat warm weather and get out of the house. Hope bugged me with multiple text messages of whales and elephants (her version of whining) to send her some pics, so that's why I'm so on the ball for editing, uploading, and blogging all about it - thanks sis - you should do it more often to keep me on top of things!
First stop - Te Aro in Leslieville
Great coffee (or so Matt says) - I usually get hot chocolate, but last week the barista asked Matt "do you want it lukewarm", and Matt says "no, why?", and they responded "well we usually only serve it to children so it has to be lukewarm", after which he laughed and then came home, told me, and laughed at me for ordering a child's drink. Coffee makes my stomach hurt...next time I'll get a tea latte...
Antique shopping...pretty sure Hope now has lice from that fur hat
Despite that comment, she tried on another in the store...double lice
(Notice the HBC in the background - it's probably a real one!)
No one could doubt that they are brothers
On their way to The Burger's Priest
Boardwalk wandering at the Beach
Lifeguard station - the prettiest spot
Awww the soon-to-be-married
Such a beautiful day
Would be really cute...if only the graffiti was gone...
Ohhh love the awkward photo shoots
Ohhh this looks like it will be good...
He twirled her around for a while, but I chose not to put up the pictures directly of Hope's butt
The most delectable-smelling place on earth - Moo Milk Bar - got milk and cookies!
Came home to the first blooms of my Easter tulips!
Once Christmas was over, I pretty much went into hibernation mode - I caught up on sleep, ate way too much food, and just lounged around like a sloth. It was bad. I am slowly coming back to life, haha, but here's what did happen the past few months.
Started off 2013 with a Harry Potter marathon - thoroughly enjoyed by both Matt and I!
This happened. Ugh snow.
Mmm delicious meal of shell pasta, white beans, sausage, and kale with lemon and parmesan.
Morning stroll and shop in St. Lawrence Market
Just one of the few flower selections from The January Cure (plus the weekly flowers are still going strong!)
This is when I hate Canada and want to move to South America.
Matt's speaker mounting plans
7 Year anniversary dinner at Fare Bistro
Family dinner with both sets of parents - drinks in the Shangri La hotel, dinner at Reds Wine Tavern
Moms and vintage barbie collection - including Midge!
Found a bourbon chicken recipe..without bourbon...so we fixed that!
Big hunk of pork shoulder covered in chipotle-coffee dry rub
And the finished product with some coleslaw and Mill Street Coffee Porter
One lazy Sunday of catching up with some home decor friends
Day of closet-cleaning
Dress shopping with Hope at Sash & Bustle
Matt got an iPhone and I lost him to a world of distraction
Delicious breakfast quiche in the making
Brunch with my work wives Marta and Dawn
Matt re-painting our pretty story board
Me showing the world what an in love geek I am...
From today - starting the kitchen prep - tore apart some bubbling plaster and patched the resulting spots
Coming Up this Month: birthday celebrations in a week, kitchen painting and re-grouting of backsplash tile, March Break fun, World Skating Championships with my mom, and Easter! Should be a great month!
Since Matt has a huge hand in our home projects, I thought I would give him a voice (whether he wanted one or not) to talk about our house and life in general. I did this as an interview, as there is no way he would just ramble on the way I do about stuff. So one New Year's Eve day while he watched a hockey game, I asked him questions on commercials and intermissions about our home.
Matt last June
1. How do you feel about being interviewed for the blog? Be honest.
Ummmm, it’s not how I intended to spend my morning (he’s watching the world junior game versus Russia). You have 20 minutes for intermission time.
2. What was the first home project you remember? Doesn’t have to be for our house. *Reminder that my husband has a bad memory so this may not actually be the first one*
I did the bunkie at the cottage when I graduated university.
What did you do?
That one was pretty easy – everything was pre-bought – the carpet was torn out of another room, the plumbing was done, and the fixtures for the bathroom were already bought, so for that was mostly just tearing out an old laminate floor, putting down a new subfloor (I didn’t know you did that much), painting – painted over the wood panel walls, tore out the wood covered doors, and replaced the trim. Painted all the windows (old fashioned window panes – ranch style), and then it was all the finishes – put in the padding and the carpet, put in new baseboards, new light fixtures, and blinds.
How did you know how to do all that?
Ummmmmmm….most of it was just instructions, my dad told me what he wanted done and I went and did it.
Yeah but how did you tear it out without damaging?
Ohhh I damaged a lot. The floor needed to be chiselled out, and it was rotted so I had to replace some of the subfloor. There’s probably a bit still there…but it’s all finished over…so you can’t tell, haha.
Any more recent projects in your own place?
Trying to hang a shelf in my first condo. Unlike the bunkie, I had access to very little in the way of tools and had no idea the difference between drilling into drywall versus the concrete fire walls in a condo. So I started by using the drill that I had (probably from 1960 given to me by my dad and shocked you every 30 seconds or so), but it only made it about a ¼ inch through the plaster before it stopped and started smoking. So my first idea was trying to hang it with short screws into the plaster, and after the shelf fell down once I learned you can buy special drill bits and screws that go into concrete. Problem solved!
Bunkie on the outside
Bunkie on the inside from the bed- the only picture I have of the inside when I was trying to take pictures with my phone for the first time last summer...it didn't turn out so well.
3. You moved around a lot as a kid, and your mom is very crafty and your dad is pretty handy too – do you think you get all this home project desire from them?
Maybe, my dad was a lot like me in that he has no real experience in any of this, just figured it out as he went. He did work a few odd jobs in landscaping and contracting stuff when he was in high school, so probably knew more than I do. He’s also a better electrician because my grandfather was one.
So what do you get from your mom?
I believe the phrase “queer eye” comes up. I think just a sense of style, and knowing what I like in a house.
4. We lived in a condo before we bought our first house – did you know that you wanted to buy a fixer-upper then?
I think this place is pretty live-in ready – we just had to do little things. Remember that one place on Coxwell I wanted? That one was detached, triplex, that could have easily been opened up but would have required some professionals to remove 2 of the 3 kitchens and the place needed a complete gut from top to bottom.
And the basement was scary.
Then there was that other place that had the cheap kitchen reno.
The one that smelled like mothballs?
But it had a lot of potential – it was pretty big for a semi, but needed a lot of work.
Our first condo together
5. What made you want to buy our current house?
The more we thought about it, the idea of a COMPLETE reno seemed a bit daunting, so we wanted something not necessarily finished, but liveable. This one had a finished bathroom, the kitchen worked (although tiny). It had a lot of character – the original wood floors, the beautiful backyard, and it was a good size (3 bedrooms, in the city, finished basement).
Our current house on the left way back in November 2010
6. What are some challenges with working in an older home (90 years this year!)
Lath and plaster walls – it pre-dates drywall – it’s hard to drill into and secure things too. You have to be careful not to crack them – one crack and there goes a big chunk of your wall. Almost every fastener at Home Depot is for drywall, so you have to get special hollow wall plugs that aren’t exactly easy to work with.
Nothing is square. It looks it, but there are no 90 degree angles anywhere – either on the floor or the walls or anything.
So what do you do?
Most cuts are trial and error with wood – to get the right fit. Filler and shims to fill gaps - you just have to work with it.
Troubles with lath and plaster walls...
7. We’ve done a lot of projects over the past few years – which one was your favourite and why?
I think the guest bedroom.
Yeah, getting that rounded moulding around the corner was a lot of work and I like the way it turned out.
I also like stair guard, because it was the most structural work I’ve ever done. It went from a rickety not-to-code post to a strong solid rail. (Pause) Oh wait, I forgot about the side board (in the dining room). I really like the way that turned out.
Do you want to develop on that at all?
Oh, well, even though most of it was from Ikea, finding a good solid piece of wood that big, and staining it and polishing it to what it looks like now really makes the room come together – it looks good. Wiring the light into the staircase was good – I don’t know about electrical work, and it hasn’t burnt down the house yet, so it’s pretty good.
Curved chair rail on the left
Stair guard project
Wiring this little light to turn on with the regular basement lighting
8. Which project drove you crazy the most and why?
Stripping the stairs was a terrible task. It was monotonous, physically exhausting, and very dirty. Plus, after about an hour of those fumes you developed a pretty bad headache. (Pause) The shelving unit in the basement made out of plywood was pretty difficult – it had to be built into a wall where nothing was square, so every cut was custom, and made it very difficult. In hindsight, I would have purchased a unit that was close to the size, and made it look like it was built into the wall. Live and learn. But we did do it for a quarter of the cost if we had bought one, so there was one benefit to it!
Refinishing the stairs
Working on the office shelving unit
9. There are never any pictures of me doing things. Can you please explain how I contribute to home renos around here?
You…..ummmmmm….what do you do? You paint. Because I hate it. You are generally the chief designer….and you’re also the, haha, chief photographer and documentarian, hence you are always behind the camera and not in front of it. Documentarian’s a word right?
I don’t know. You’re generally opposed to anything Ikea or anything that involves an allen key. Seems to get the better of you.
I helped with the Pax wardrobe.
You did, you assembled two drawers, one of which was backwards, so you had to do that again.
I’m trying to think of other things I did.
You’re a level when I’m trying to hold things – like hanging a painting or mirror.
So you don’t really need me?
No, I need you. (Pause) Yeah you do a lot of the painting. I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a power tool.
I stripped the first stairs.
You did – you stripped the first four stairs. You came up with this wall thing (points).
That would be called a gallery wall.
Yes, that thing. You’ve selected all the paints and painted most of the rooms.
I did the entire basement without you at all.
How would you want me to help in the house?
That’s a good question. I actually prefer doing a lot of these things. Because I typically learn by doing, it’s hard to give instructions. I’m also…selfish, and I don’t like giving up control on projects.
That’s funny, most people would say that about me.
The little evidence I have of me doing work...
10. What are some projects that you are looking forward to for 2013 (short-term)?
What’s on the list?
No, I have my own post for that. What do you want to do?
This summer I want to build a big table and bench for the backyard to custom fit the deck. I’ll purchase chairs – I won’t try to build those, haha. With my new compound mitre saw!!! And a big chunk of cedar.
Anything in the house you want done?
I want to sand down the floors in the middle (unmentionable name - *cough* - baby) room.
Well right now it is a construction area and it needs to be well cleaned up. I may have also put a hole in wall when I was doing the railing.
Yeah…there’s a hole. When the saw piece broke it shot a piece of wood next to the dresser right into the wall. A perfect little square. Haha.
It’s also parquet flooring.
Yeah, but I still think I can strip/sand it down. Rent a big floor sander for that. Make it a lighter colour to match the floors. Won’t change the floor completely. I still don’t know why it’s parquet though. So do you think it’s worth redoing it with hardwood?
I’m more worried about how it will be to pull out the parquet.
It’s glued down – you’ll have to chisel it down piece by piece.
Something to think about.
Current backyard furniture
The "baby" room
11. What are some longer-term projects you want to tackle?
I think we eventually want to do the kitchen. Knock out the wall between the living room and kitchen to open it up a bit.
My mom’s worried that we’re going to put a lot of money and time into the kitchen and then move.
That’s something to consider, although they say that the kitchen is the place where you get your money back on the investment, if we do sell. You always have to consider in any project if you’re doing it for yourself or for resale. I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to pack up and leave in the next year or so.
Yes, but we won’t get around in the kitchen in the next year either. Any other projects?
There’s talk about expanding the bathroom downstairs and refinishing the wood floors throughout the house.
How long do you think we’ll be in this house before you get the itch to move again and start all over?
I don’t know, haha. It’s hard to put a date on that. 5 years maybe? 10?
Well you’d be surprised at how quickly 5 years will go by!
Current tiny kitchen
Basement bathroom (well before we moved in)
12. What things would you be looking for in our next house that you may not have considered in this one?
A bigger kitchen for sure – this one is quite small. Less creaky floors? One of the things I love about this house is the character of the old floors, but one thing I hate is how creaky they are. I don’t think there’s a way to fix that, though, without tearing them up.
I can think of a million things I would change.
Really? I don’t know. A fireplace – preferably wood, but gas would be okay too.
I want a mantle – so many décor magazines decorate mantles.
Does the fireplace matter at all?
I can put in a mantle for you if you really want.
What about detached?
Ummm, I don’t mind the semi-detached because we’ve always had quiet neighbours. But detached would be better for more natural light in the house.
Agreed. Would you consider getting a house that needs more work next time?
You mean, like, gut the main floor?
I don’t know.
I don’t know if I’d want to do something with more work, I think we would need help – hire someone to tear out walls and major structural stuff requiring a contractor.
You don’t think you could tear a wall out on your own?
I think I could tear out a wall on my own, I don’t know if I could put back a wall on my own. There’s very little room for trial and error – it’s not something you want to get wrong.
My brother has a mantle...
13. So you also have a pretty good eye for décor. How does it make you feel when I call you Martha Stewart?
Laughs. I think I get a little smug satisfaction because I know you’re just saying it because you’re jealous.
Why am I jealous?
You wish you had the same eye.
Matt painted that...
14. You’re also a really good cook – what’s your favourite thing to make?
I really like doing pulled pork or slow-cooked lamb. The dutch oven makes cooking easy and delicious. Add beer/wine/some sort of alcoholic beverage to meat, and cook for hours.
What’s for dinner tonight (New Year’s Eve)?
It will be a beer-braised duck, pulled, served over homemade duck-fat fries with cheese. A pulled-duck poutine if you will. Not exactly healthy, but New Year’s Resolutions start tomorrow.
We’re having salad too.
Although the salad contains goat cheese – pomegranate and apple and goat cheese baby arugula salad.
Frozen chocolate mousse trifle.
Which I made.
There you go.
Lamb + veggies + wine = awesome
15. Are you sick of answering questions yet?
I was sick about 20 minutes ago.
16. How do you feel about the blog? About being on the blog?
It’s always weird when friends and family are so familiar with stuff I’ve done around the house, even if I haven’t talked to them in months.
How do you feel about me writing a blog?
It’s kind of like your diary – I don’t have a problem with you writing it, but publishing it is odd.
I don’t put anything too personal on it.
No you don’t. I find the whole blogging, facebook, and everything else - the whole concept, way too much information about people.
17. Do you love me?
Of course. Always.
I have to quantify this? Like on a scale from 1-10? I feel it's unquantifiable.
18. Anything else you want to say to our 10 readers out there (9 of them being my family)?
Laughs. Whose the 1 who’s not your family? Some lonely guy in Russia?
My coworker, Mike. Tell him you’re not a slave in your own house.
Can I go back to watching the hockey game now?
This Christmas had the lovely added feature that I had bronchitis, and Christmas Eve was touch and go (seriously thought about cancelling at various parts of the day - the morning when I was trying to whip non-heavy cream into stiff peaks - it will not work - you need more than 18%, and when I had to dry my hair sitting on the floor in my bedroom amidst sweating and crying because I was so weak), but we pulled through! My parents, Adam and Jessica came over on Christmas Eve. Matt really did all the work because I was trying to sleep and recover for most of the days leading up to it, and if not I was cleaning the house. We made some delicious brie, cranberry, pecan crostini for appetizers, along with the chili-sweet nut mix we did last year, for dinner we had roasted duck with a maple bourbon glaze with root mash, and for dessert I made a chocolate mousse trifle (hence the whipping of cream earlier on in the day). It went pretty well - opened presents, ate good food, and enjoyed entertaining my family.
Our little tree - all owled up (there are now 3 owls on the tree thanks to my family)
Playing with my new 50 mm lens - West Elm Hedwig owl
Table ready for dinner
Runner and log votives from West Elm, Star napkin holder from Ikea!
These cranberries have now been rehydrated...I do not look forward to cleaning this out...
I added some sparkly branches and a bow to make this spring-branch arrangement a bit more festive
Planned to do a gallery wall in this room but didn't have pictures yet - so I improvised with wrapping paper
I will post more on this when I change the frames to real pictures!
The table before dinner - votives filled with candles and lots of light
Time to eat and open presents!
Taking mom to see the World Figure Skating Championships in London (Ontario) in March
Dad opening our gift (Cycling Store Gift Card)
Adam looking very scary with tinsel on his head
Lego Empire State Building - Classic present for Adam
Sisters pose just before dinner
Mmmm festive salads and cranberry juice
Mom and Dad
Ohhh those two are photogenic!
Must have been awkward lighting for me to make this B&W
Crowns from the Christmas Crackers!
Matt opened a present that night - "I Am A Pole" by Stephen Colbert (looks like a Children's book...but not so much)
Christmas morning is Matt and I time. We don't have anyone else over - we open our presents, we made a delicious breakfast, and we just relax. This year we made a french toast casserole with a brown sugar strudel glaze and apple and craisins. It was so good. The antibiotics prevented the typical ice wine drinking, but I'll make that up on New Year's Eve!
I guessed most of my presents before I opened them (and there was only 2 I didn't get - this table is a lie!)
One of my gifts - Paloma Picasso hammered ring - looks like a girly version of Matt's iron ring, but needs to be resized. I wanted this because I used to wear his iron ring when he first got it if he was wakeboarding at the cottage or any other time he may have lost it. Just a cute little reminder of those days.
Delicious baked french toast - and so easy (we prepped it the night before)
I gave George the gift of all the acorns I collected in the fall that never ended up dip-dying (I'll try again next year)
Christmas Day was spent with Matt's family, both at his parents' house in Oakville to open gifts, and then to his aunt and uncle's place in Ancaster for dinner. We only had to make a vegetable dish, so it was an easy day, and I was starting to feel better luckily! It was nice seeing the whole family (we see his dad's side far less often), and all the food was incredible! His cousin's wife is starting her own catering company and she made all the appetizers - wow! Look out Peterborough!!!
Christmas afternoon at the in-laws - what a beautiful tree!
I look like I'm in pain...I was probably about to cough...
Pete with his kids - all grown up!
In Ancaster with Buppa - great face Jamie!
Kisses from the granddaughters
Matt probably being a smart-ass
Boxing Day we always go to my aunt and uncle's place in Bowmanville. My dad has a huge family so it is always a fun gathering. On the way home we went to see Les Miserables with Adam and Jess - it was SOOO good (although Russell Crowe really shouldn't sing). Highly recommended Christmas break movie, although very sad (hence the title). Bring Kleenex - you will cry at 3 different spots!
If you think I wouldn't post this Adam, you were wrong.
Singing Christmas carols to get gifts (although it turns out that now that I'm married Santa can't find me anymore)
Pretty much sat here the entire time
Came home to this. Merry and bright.
A few days later some of the same family ladies meet at Marche downtown for lunch.
Here are the pictures from late July to Labour Day weekend that I took on my phone:
First Row: 1 - Matt's birthday and anniversary presents wrapped up (he got a coffee grinder and gravity filter for his birthday). 2- Out for dinner at Pachuco - a great Mexican place at Danforth & Broadview. 3 - Meg's baby shower with the pool girls - such a lovely afternoon!
Second Row: 1 - Anniversary dinner - we intended to go out but after being in Vancouver for a few days, we were exhausted! 2 - Our anniversary gifts - year 2 is cotton, so we went to Banana and picked out something for each other. 3 - Rainy weekend at the cottage meant torturing Tabby a bit...put him under a laundry basket...he just stared at me pleading, so I let him out, and he just ran away. Stupid uncuddly cat.
Third Row: 1 - Figures the sun comes out just as we leave the cottage. 2- Matt ran 21 km as part of his training program for the marathon next month. It was rough on him. So of course I photographed him while weakened. 3 - More painting begins while we were in NYC!
Fourth Row: 1 - Prepping at school - beautiful quiet school. 2 - Teaching Marta how to use Instagram. 3 - Labour Day cottage weekend - this is barbequed caesar salad Matt made!
So I finally got around to blogging. I'm sorry to all my (7) loyal readers. Once we got back from New York it was back to school mode with prepping all week, actually going into school, then trying to relax at the cottage (which turned out to be somewhat hard when you have the worst cold ever - thanks to my darling husband who had it earlier in the week). Feeling better today although still a bit sniffly with a low raspy voice - hopefully for the first day of school tomorrow I am back to myself - so I thought I would do so blogging on my Labour Day off.
So this is the story of our New York City trip. We were there for 5 days, 4 nights, and did a lot of sight-seeing. We were exhausted every night! Some pictures I used the DSLR, some were on my phone. It's hard not to seem touristy when you have a big camera slung around your body, but oh well, everyone was exactly the same as us.
Day 1 - Flight, Hotel, West Village Sushi
We arrived at LaGuardia in New York around 1pm and headed to our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Mela on 44th between 6th and 7th. It's a small boutique hotel, but it was right in the heart midtown and was pretty and clean, though small. Since our hotel check-in time was 3, and the room wasn't ready, we wandered around Times Square (sensory overload) and random surrounding streets. I also forgot to unstrap my neck pillow from my purse, so though we had stored our luggage, I was the image of tourist with a stupid neck pillow, wandering New York City, for a good hour. We stopped at Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake, which was really just okay (I had red velvet). Finally it was 3pm so we could check in and freshen up.
Hotel Room at Hotel Mela
Even the bathroom was cute - great wallpaper
Our view was less than stellar, but like most of New York, it was under construction
Once checked in, we headed out for some refreshment (it was very hot outside). We found the Beer Authority, which conveniently was located beside the Port Authority, about a 5-minute walk from our hotel. We sat on the rooftop patio which overlooked the New York Times building and the bustling city below. I even had a blueberry-infused beer (which tasted more like beer than blueberry, but was still pretty good).
Rooftop view of the Times
Looking over the extensive beer menu
That night we headed to the West Village to meet our friend Kyle and his girlfriend Jillian, for dinner at a sushi place called Amber. It was really good sushi - between the four of us we had 10 rolls, some edamame, a free dessert and 4 bottles of wine. Highly recommended! We also went to a bar called Willfie & Nell, which I probably would have really liked had I been about 5-8 years younger, haha. Very loud and crowded for my taste but I can see the appeal for others. I didn't take any pictures...because I didn't want to seem like a tourist in front of them, haha. I wish I did. I think I made up for it over the next few days anyway.
Day 2 - 30 Rock, FAO, Broadway
Our second day started off with brunch at a place close to the hotel called Maison. Great prices, quick, and good French-inspired food. We then were off to live out our geeky 30 Rock fantasies of seeing Kenneth and Jack and Liz at the NBC Studio Tour and Top of the Rock. On the studio tour, we saw Brian Williams nightly set, the Jimmy Fallon set, and the SNL set (really big!). It was a typical touristy thing to do, but I still liked it. Right after we went up to the top of Rockefellar Center and saw the city from above. It was a good alternative to the Empire State Building.
Yep, it's tall!
NBC studio tour - no pictures allowed so this is all I got!
View from the Top of the Rock
Needed to Instagram of course
Central Park - crazy that there is a huge park in the busy city
We could see the New Year's Eve Ball
A random Italian guy took my phone and insisted on taking a picture - thank you random!
Did not see Kenneth, but still a good 30 Rock experience
After the 30 Rock stuff, we decided to walk up 5th and Park Avenue a bit and headed to FAO Schwarz. It was busy but a lot of fun seeing all the tops and acting like 5 year olds for a few minutes. We saw the Lego land and the giant piano and tonnes of stuffed animals. They had a Harry Potter area too, but since there were no magic wands, I was not impressed. I almost got a geeky science puzzle as well, but figured it would be hard to get back to Toronto with it.
My two favourite men
FAO Schwarz view from above - so many stuffed animals!
Haha, so geeky Matty
He did love his Lego
Didn't mean to be a creeper taking pictures of random kids, but this was so sweet
Tiny brownstone sandwiched between the concrete
That night we had some Italian food before our night on Broadway. We went to a place called Scarlatto, which was in the basement of another building but surprisingly bright and best of all, it had great pasta. Dinner was quick, and then we headed to Eugene O'Neill Theatre to see The Book of Mormon. It. Was. Hilarious. I was laughing so hard I was crying at some points. It is very off-side (makes sense - the guys from South Park wrote it), definitely Rated R, but it was really funny. Not recommended for any sensitive Christian people - it offends pretty much everyone but it was all in good fun. It is coming to Toronto in 2013! Once it was done, we had a quick walk around Times Square at night (even more sensory overload, but pretty spectacular), had a drink at the pub beside the hotel called The Long Room, and called it a night.
Book of Mormon!!!
Was not supposed to take a picture of the stage...I did not know this at the time...
We were at the VERY BACK of the theatre - it was small, so the view was still great!
Times Square at night
It was packed even at midnight!
Day 3 - Highline, Greenwich, SoHo, Natural History
Our third day we decided to wander around all the neighbourhoods. We started off with brunch at Pastis in the Meatpacking District. Really good brunch, and it was really busy. I had some brioche french toast - yum! From there we walked along the High Line, which is an old railway track that has been converted to a garden pathway that goes from the Meatpacking north through Chelsea along the west side. We then found Greenwich Village and wandered around that area, and then got to SoHo, and did some more walking. We had lunch there at a place called Cipriani. It was expensive, and we didn't know that beforehand - Matt's rash decision, haha. We just had some sandwiches, which were good, but expensive for what they were.
Waiting for coffee
Appropriate picture for the Meatpacking District
Along the High Line
I look very fat here, but it's just windy and my dress is billowing...
Moving along through Chelsea
Matt taking some arty pictures
Random sign...I bet they judged my flip flops a lot...
Lots of random art
Matt liked all the old water towers
At an old church - good background
And here's the church
Colourful Greenwich houses
Once we couldn't take the heat anymore, we decided to head uptown to the American Museum of Natural History. We got there just over 2 hours before it closed, thinking that would be more than enough time. Then I discovered Matt has never been in a planetarium, so we had to do the Hayden Planetarium which took up a half hour of seeing the stars (although it was quite educational), and then we quickly looked at the dinosaurs, some apes, and of course the big WHALE!
Hall of Biodiversity - the 11 U bio classes would love this!
Pigwidgeon and Hedwig were stuffed I think...
Apadasaurous - my brother liked these ones when he was little
Main foyer of the AMNH
Spiders have taken over the museum?
For dinner we went to Murray Hill to have dinner at Les Halles, which is where Anthony Bourdain used to be the head chef. Since Matt and I watch No Reservations whenever it is on, we figured we would try out one of his places, and it didn't disappoint. Great french food and excellent wine.
Brasserie Les Halles
Day 4: Central Park, Upper East Side, Grand Central, Met Opera
We saved Sunday to wander around Central Park. We started off with breakfast at a little diner called The Flame Restaurant. We didn't know it was a diner, but it sort of looks like a Denny's, but the food is a lot more fresh. I had a waffle with loads of blueberries, bananas, and strawberries (called the Red, White and Blue Waffle). It was cheap and quick, and then we were off to the park. We actually wanted to ride bikes around the park, but it was a beautiful day and every one was rented out. So we walked a bit and saw Strawberry Fields, the row boat area, lots of little bridges, the little sailboat pond, and some turtles.
One of many monuments in Central Park
Skywriting - only made out the "United We Stand"...it could have said anything else for the rest...
Strawberry Fields Forever
Dedicated to John Lennon
Row boats (wanted to do this too but the line was really long)
Also it had many fountains
Random family and band singing Andrea Bocelli - it was beautiful and the area had great acoustics!
Really just wanted to rest my feet
We have very few pictures of the two of us
Lewis Carroll "Alice" statue
I really liked staring at the turtles...
Once we were done in the park, we went for lunch on the Upper East Side at Serafina - more Italian - we split a pizza and had a drink. By then my new boat shoes were pinching my toes so we wandered back to the hotel. Along the way we saw some incredible (and very expensive) apartments, and The Plaza Hotel. Once I changed into some flip flops, we went out to see the New York Public Library (yay books), Grand Central Station, and the Empire State Building (just the outside, we didn't go up). We just looked around the basics of all of these, the library was closed but we originally planned to go in the following day (didn't end up having time, sort of).
Upper East Side apartments
The Plaza Hotel - Fairmont run!
Teacher at the library
It's a much larger Union Station
The ceiling had zodiac signs on it
Empire State building
For dinner we went to the Upper West Side to Rosa Mexicano. They had the most incredible guacamole served in a giant bowl. I could have eaten it for hours. The best part was that it was right across from the Lincoln Center, and there was a Metropolitan Opera playing on a screen for thousands - we could here it throughout the meal. Of course afterward we walked over there to see a bit of it. We grabbed a cab back to midtown, and saw a bit more of the Times Square area after grabbing a coffee at Caffe Bene.
Outdoor opera night at the Met
Real dark hot chocolate
Day 5: World Trade Center, Stock Exchange, Rain, 6-Hour Airport, Home
Our last day started off with Dean & Deluca - remember that's where Felicity worked? We then headed downtown to see the World Trade Center (lots of rebuilding is occurring), Wall Street, and the Stock Exchange. We wanted to walk around TriBeCa, but it started to pour rain. So we grabbed a cab to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and ran in the pouring rain to the front door only to find it was closed. By that time I was soaked and was no way going into it anyway in a wet sundress and squeaky shoes. So we ran back in the rain to the bottom of the stairs to get a cab and back to the hotel. We had actually checked out at this point but had stored our luggage, and changed in the gym area into our airport clothes. We had to be there around 3pm anyway, and it was one, so we had lunch at The Long Room, and of course, the sun came out and it was a beautiful day once again. So with an hour to kill we again wandered around Times Square, and went to M&M's World (so many colour M&Ms). Finally we headed to the airport, only to find out our flight was cancelled, and we had to wait an extra 3 hours - 6 hours later we were off - it was the LONGEST WAIT EVER, but we made it home safe, and spent the next day recovering from our crazy busy few days.
No Felicity or Javier in sight, but still good coffee
New World Trade Center tower
Downtown New York - Financial District
TD Banks have infiltrated NYC
NYSE - very few Occupy NY people around now
Matt called this the cow, I corrected him.
More subway art
Overall it was a great trip. Really REALLY busy, and we could have spent another week there easily and taken our time with things. This is definitely a city where we will return multiple times, and hopefully explore new places each time!
Here are just a few more that were on my camera (not my phone), and aren't directly wedding-related.
Catch 122 in Gastown for brunch
The birthday boy!
Random photo moment on a brick wall, haha
Picture that Emily took of the post-wedding brunch
A few of many coffee places around Vancouver (Matt wants to make some sort of arty collage out of them)
Last night we had both our parents over plus our siblings (minus Meg, she had to work and we missed her!). Just wanted to have a simple barbeque with everyone, and celebrate Matt's birthday last week, our anniversary, and here all about Adam and Jessica's honeymoon and Jamie's wedding planning and house hunting. Lots of things going on with both of our families, and it was nice to catch up. I didn't really take any family pictures (I was busy playing hostess I suppose), but took a few pictures of the decor - had a little Olympic theme going on.
Medal count as of yesterday (although today's soccer bronze puts us at 15!)
Olympic Ring M&Ms...I ate all the orange ones that were left over...
Canada loves hummus
Flag of flags
Even the condiments were in the Olympic spirit (there is really very few blue foods...)
I also cleaned the house (except for the basement)...
Two year anniversary cards
Olympic fruit (kind of sad rings, haha)
Dessert table, including the stout cupcakes
(pretty much basic spice cupcakes with Guinness used instead of water, and the glaze is icing sugar and beer)
Dining room shot with the anniversary flowers Matt got me (love the late summer sunflowers)