Snowed In

Growing up in New Hampshire, I am no stranger to blizzards. Nearly every winter, we would get a handful of big storms and if we were lucky,  a snow day or two would result. My family would often take advantage of the snow by heading up North to ski. And for the days where we reminded at home, we would spend at least half of the day playing outside, building snowmen, making snow forts and sledding. In preparation for these activities I would spend hours bundling up before heading outside. I assembled the perfect snow outfit, complete with the trick of pulling my wool socks OVER my pant legs to ensure that no snow would touch my skin! After time in the snow, we would warm up with hot chocolate and, more often than not, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Blizzards in New York City are a little different. People freak out leading up to the storm, but then once it comes even though this city is a little quieter, things continue on as normal. Restaurants still deliver, Starbucks remains open and Broadway shows still go on.

I took advantage of the quite weekend to stay in a do a little baking and crafting. Unfortunately, I don’t have completed projects or blog posts to show you so hang tight.

That's right - the sewing machine came out this weekend!
That’s right – the sewing machine came out this weekend!
Some exciting things went down in the kitchen this weekend. More to come!
Some exciting things went down in the kitchen this weekend. More to come!

What did you do this weekend during the storm? Anything fun?

Holiday Mystery Trip

When Abby and I were younger, our parents used to take us on mystery trips. Sometimes things were trips that we earned (I sort of remember earning one for reading a certain number of pages over the summer one year) and sometimes they were completely random and spontaneous. Sometimes they were big trips, like to Boston to see The Secret Garden, The Nutcracker or The Red Sox; while other times they were small, like a trip to McDonald’s for Happy Meals or to King Cone for ice cream and the Merrimack playground. Needless to say, the trips were always a lot of fun so it is no surprise Matt and I have taken this Brethauer family tradition and incorporated it into the Englehauer family.

So what’s better than a mystery trip? A mystery trip that has a holiday theme – that’s what! So I was really excited when I found something fun and a little different for Matt and I do to this holiday season.

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On Saturday night Matt and I took the Metro North into the Bronx to go to the Botanical Gardens  – a place neither of us had visited for the Holiday Train Show. The trip started off pretty great – Metro North leaves from Grand Central Station, which is seriously a beautiful NYC landmark, and one that Matt and I don’t visit too often. When we take the train to Boston or the Long Island Railroad to the Hamptons, we leave from Penn Station (a not so beautiful landmark). Walking through the giant concourse, I will immediately transported to Harry Potter’s King Cross Train Station and Matt to Taggart Terminal from Atlas Shrugged (and yes, that statement pretty much sums us up).

It was a quick train ride and we were transported into a much darker and quite neighborhood. The grounds at the Botanical Gardens are beautiful and walking over to the train show, I was happy. That’s when things started to go wrong.

I had been to a train show before with my dad. It was in our hometown in the cafeteria of the middle school. There were probably 50 – 75 train collectors who brought their train sets and created incredible landscapes for their trains to run through. The level of detail was amazing, speaking with the owners was actually really interesting and after we left, my dad went home and got out his old train set and set it up. So when I found out about the Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Gardens I knew it would be just as good — and assumed it would probably be even better since, this is New York after all. Well – I was wrong.

There were probably 6, not more than 7 trains at this show. And while there were some pretty incredible things there, sadly they weren’t the trains.

The main feature of the show were the replica buildings, all New York City historical landmarks, that were made from plant parts.

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Don’t get me wrong, they were impressive, but when you go expecting trains, it is hard to really get excited.

Thankfully, Matt was a good sport about everything and we ended up having an ok time. Mat said it best “even though it wasn’t the best mystery date ever, it was definitely better than no mystery date!”

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10 Pounds Later

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE Panera. In high school I worked here for about 6 months and to this day, it was probably my favorite job. Unfortunately, when I moved to New York, the closest Panera was over 6 miles away, outside of the city. As a result, whenever I would leave the city of go home for a weekend, a trip to Panera was always on my list of things to do.

So when it was announced that Panera was coming to Manhattan – I freaked. The first store opened earlier this year at on 7th ave between 28th  and 29th. This is about 15 blocks north from my office and 3 avenues west (i.e not very close) but that didn’t stop me. On opening day, I trekked over to the store for lunch. I was so excited I could hardly contain it – well, the fact is, I didn’t. After ordering a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup with a massive grin on my face, I announced to the cashier that “I used to be you! I worked at a Panera once. It was awesome.” I thought she would join in on my elated state however, she responded by saying “So does that mean, one day, I will get to be you?” Clearly she didn’t understand that I thought, by working at Panera, she was the lucky one.

While the experience of eating Panera that day was fantastic, I had to come to terms that it wasn’t going to become a daily experience. The store was just too far away.

But then, I saw they were opening another Panera in Union Square – a 2 minute walk from my work. Nearly every day for months, I would walk by the site and peer in the windows to see how far along the construction was coming. Sadly, with union protests the work was slowed. And I was denied my “fresh” bread, soups and sandwiches.

Last week, after returning to the office from a nice lunch out with some co-workers, another one of my colleagues asked me if I had been to Panera yet? I freaked out – not realizing that it was opened. I was so upset that I had already had lunch that day – for a second I thought about making myself throw up just so I could go and eat another lunch but then decided that wasn’t a good idea, not to mention gross.

The next morning, I happily left my apartment without breakfast so I could stop at Panera for a cinnamon crunch bagel and a caramel latte. I know, not the healthiest of choices, but boy did it make me happy. I practically skipped into work.

Needless to say, it was delicious and I can’t wait to go back. So in honor of the 10 pounds that I will inevitably gain from all of the food I will eat from Panera, I am running my very first Giveaway on my blog. Leave a comment with your favorite menu item at Panera and you will be entered to win a 15 dollar gift card to your local Panera! The winner will be announced on Monday.

Happy eating!

Welcome to Summer

I love Memorial Day as it is the unofficial start to summer. Time for cookouts, white pants and eating as much ice cream as possible. I kicked off this season of sun and fun in a big way, but more to come on that later…

Today in New York it is hot. Summer is definitely here. As a way to celebrate, my work-twin and I walked to the lower east side for some mid-day BIG GAY ICE CREAM!

And boy was it delicious. We both had the salty pimp – yup, the name says it all!

I can not recommend this place enough, especially on a day when the “real feel” temperature is over 100 degrees. And if you aren’t near by, look out for their big gay ice cream truck, which is frequently parked in Union Square during the week and in Mid-town during the weekend. Or, for their exact location, just follow them on twitter @biggayicecream

Favorite Things, Mother’s Day Edition

This post was inspired/request/demanded from a loyal blog follower. I was thrilled to received a request for two reasons:

1. It shows that I am becoming a source for trust information (look out Google).
2. It makes blogging much easier as coming up with ideas is 75% of the work.

So here is my list Mother’s Day Edition of My Favorite Things

DIY GIFTS

Candles

I love candles as presents. You really can never have too many because are things that you use up (much like food of bath products). While candles aren’t super expensive, there are a lot of fun and easy DIY candle projects.

Dipped Candles

Tea Cup Candles

Scented Soy Candles

Decoupaged Candles

Diptyque Candles

Totes

A girl can never have too many tote bags, especially if they are cute! And with eco-chic being all the rage, mom can use this for her grocery sopping and farmer market trips.

Cherry Branch Tote

Basic Tote

Minimalist Tote (for the most advanced DIY-er)

Doily Tote (we did something similar for the “welcome bags” at our wedding)

Vases & Pots

Flowers are a solid go-to option, but after a week, there won’t be much gift left. Why not add a little something to your bouquet of flowers with a DIY vase or pot?

 Swirl Vase

Decoupage Pot

Rainbow Drip Pot (good options for kids)

Colored Pencil Vase

Neon Rope Vase

THINGS TO BUY

Nothing like a cute quote to make her smile.

Print (could be a DIY)

Key Chain

Sign

Jewelry is usually a safe bet. Here are a few that celebrate motherhood.

Morse Code Necklace

Fingerprint Charm (perfect for new moms!)

Dogeared

Simple XO Necklace

Name Necklace (another good one for new moms)

Let’s be honest, moms spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Get her something that will make it more enjoyable.

 Agrate Trivate

Mini Colored Colanders

Colored Spatulas

Medallion Table Cloth (DIY? I dare you.)

Recipe Box w/Card Holder

DIY – Dish Cloth

And if you are lucky enough to actually see your dear mother over Mother’s Day, here are a few resources to help you host a Mother’s Day brunch.

 

Mother’s Day Brunch via Cup of Joe, Delish, Real Simple, Epicurious and Martha Stewart (it wouldn’t complete without MS)

And for those of you who break out in a cold sweat at the idea of hosting a brunch, here are NY Mag’s top restaurant picks.

And last, but certainly not least, surprise mom on her special day with a new tattoo!

Girls

Does everyone else there agree with me that the new HBO show, Girls is 100% awesome? I honestly can’t get enough of this show.From the fact that it is set in New York City to the incredibly accurate portrayal of the early 20-something year old female – I love every angle of this show.

It is like a realistic  version of Sex and the City. The girls don’t wear manolo blahniks – not because they aren’t fashionable but because they are in their early 20s and can’t afford a pair of shoes that cost over 500 dollars (I am still trying to figure out how Carrie could afford so many pairs on her writer’s salary). And they don’t live in enormous apartments like Rachel and Monica on Friends, but in small apartments in Brooklyn.

I salut you Leah Dunham. It is like you have tapped into the voice in my head and made it into an incredible tv series. Let’s grab a drink and talk about some of the ideas I have for season 2.

The Benefits of Marriage

Sometimes I think marriage is man’s ploy to enslave women.

Since getting married I have had to clean up after two people instead of just one. I spend twice as much on groceries and toiletries. I wash double (maybe even triple) the number clothes and dishes. And I have half the amount of space in my closet. I am really not seeing the upside.

But like all things in life, it is easy to focus on the negatives.

This weekend I got to see a lot of the upsides:

Friday

Matt took Abby, her friend and me to the Rangers hockey game. Not only did he provide the tickets and purchase our food and drinks, but he also sat quietly while Abby and I communicated in the way that only sisters truly understand.

Saturday

After morning swim practice (just like the good old days) Matt let me crash his “boys brunch” at Daddy-O’s, home of the best bloody mary ever. Afterwards, I met up with two of my favorite Harvard swimming teammates and then went for a manicure. When I met back up with Matt and the boys, they all complimented me on my newly painted pink nails. It was like having 3, somewhat feminine, husbands.

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Sunday

After a quick workout, Matt and I met up with our third-wheel for a lovely Hell’s Kitchen brunch at Eatery. Afterwards, we went to the movies to watch the highly anticipated Hunger Games. It was awesome – I absolutely loved it! On the way home Matt and I stopped at Columbus Circle to purchase new running shoes. After getting fitted for a lovely pair of black and hot pink New Balance shoes – I proceeded to aimlessly walk around the store.  As I was walking around the store, Matt went over to the cash register and paid for our shoes. Although Matt and I have joint checking, we each have our own credit cards for which we have tried to set a budget. As a result his budget will be taking the hit for this purchase – if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

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When we got home, Matt decided to get our taxes in order – a process that is so much more time consuming and complicated than you think. I thought about making some cookies but then proceeded to lie on the couch watching terrible reality tv.

Suddenly married life doesn’t look so bad.