Filed In: Travel

Photo Diary: Key West

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(What a BABE!)

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PS: How cute are my friends!?

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Not pictured: 3 hours of motion sickness, and getting wildly sick off the back of the boat

ūüôĀ¬†

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HEART EYES FOREVER WITH THIS ONE AROUND

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Recommendations:

Where to stay? Casa 325

Where to eat?¬†The Cafe, Bagatelle, Caroline’s Cafe¬†

Coffee? Cuban Coffee Queen

Dessert? Better Than Sex, and Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shop

Where to party? All of Duval Street… duh! But specifically Sloppy Joe’s for their live music

Play Tourist? Conch Train, Hemingway Home, Mallory Square, Fury Water Adventures

Top Cocktail Bars from our LA Trip:

What’s vacation without a few cocktails, am I right? LA is FULL of beautiful cocktail bars, and we were only able to visit a few. But here were our top picks:

Upstairs Bar at the Ace Hotel

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Gracias Madre (plus, they have an amazing plant based menu!) 

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The Garden Bar at Montage Beverly Hills Hotel:

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Mama Shelter’s Rooftop Bar¬†:

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Bonus: 

Going to San Diego? Do yourself a favor and check out Polite Provisions. Absolutely amazing.

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Top 5 Coffee Shops from our Trip to LA

If you haven’t noticed already, Jason and I are coffee people. When we go on vacations, coffee shops and stops are build into our itinerary.

So our trip in LA was not any different.

Here are our top picks:  

(In no particular order)

G&B Coffee: Grand Central Market: 

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Verve Coffee: Downtown LA

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Lord Windsor Coffee:  Long Beach

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Go Get ’em Tiger – Larchmont

IMG_0585Intelligentsia: Abbot Kinney (Venice)

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Travel Diary: LA: Hollywood and LACMA

Day two of our LA Adventure mostly consisted of playing tourists. Coffee, museums, and taking pictures of every Hollywood Star we recognized the names of.

We started off the day in¬†Larchmont, where we grabbed a bite to eat and coffee at¬†Go Get ‚ÄėEm¬†Tiger. Jason said this one definitely one of his favorite stops¬†in LA, as far as coffee goes. The shop was small but the coffee was EXACTLY what we needed. Plus, they had a really great staff who were willing to chat with us between serving their line of customers. Highly recommended.

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Larchmont was a really cute area and had a lot of offer. There were tons of little shops and restaurants to eat at. We spent some time that morning strolling down and window shopping, truly taking in the atmosphere.

After that we headed to LACMA, where we spent most of our day.

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art was huge, and beautiful. We honestly could have spent two whole days there looking at everything. IMG_0644 IMG_0636 IMG_0705IMG_0639

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We spent so much time there, that we forgot to eat lunch. This made for a very grumpy Meg, so we quickly headed to our next destination: FOOD.

We went to Mama Shelter, a hotel with a great rooftop restaurant and bar.

IMG_8963 IMG_8965The decor of the hotel was super funky and cool. When you walk into the bar downstairs, the ceilings are covered in art and there are huge foosball tables to play at. If we ever go back to LA, I would probably consider staying at this place because the atmosphere was awesome!

The only downside was that there was a LONG wait, and we were STARVING! So by the time we got to the table, we weren’t very happy campers. (If you ever try to get in anytime near sunset, get there EARLY!) ¬†Once we got some food, a glass of champagne or two, and took in the view… our moods quickly changed. This place was beautiful, and the food was amazing!

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After getting some much needed energy, we headed into Hollywood to do the typical touristy thing. We saw¬†the Hollywood Stars, Chinese Theatre, stuck¬†our hands and feet where the stars did in the concrete… you know.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.56.26 PMThe moment I saw Audrey’s Star, I ran over, sat down and put my hands right on it. I couldn’t believe she was actually right there at one moment in time. Audrey Hepburn is someone that I have looked up to since I was a little girl. Not only was she beautiful, but also beautifully kind and generous. I definitely had a moment right there on that star… and I was so incredibly happy to be there.

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In general, Jason and I were not huge fans of this area. It reminded us of Times Square, but we liked it a lot less..  There were lots of people, it was kind of dirty, and a little overwhelming. Once we saw the sights, we quickly headed back home for some rest.

Next Up, Day 3 in Venice and Santa Monica, and couple of ghost stories… ūüėȬ†

All for now,

xoxox

Meg

 

How to Disney

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Yes, I am one of those people. I love Disney! Being a Florida resident has its perks. The parks are not too far away, and I¬†am fortunate enough to have an annual pass. I have most definitely been to Disney more times than I can count. So, here’s a couple of recommendations from an expert ūüėČ

1. Pack food.

Most of the time, we go to Disney on a tight budget. Because we have annual passes, our tickets are already paid for, and parking is included. Often times we will go on a whim, knowing that it won’t be too much of a financial burden if we do it right. To stay on budget, Jason and I usually pack our own food. We grab a backpack that’s insulated, pack up some sandwiches, snacks, and waters. That way, you’re not spending as much money in the parks. Plus, it’s much healthier! My favorite picnic spot in Magic Kingdom is actually on Main Street. There’s a great little pocket that has a few tables with umbrellas on the right-hand side. (And yes, you’re allowed to bring food into the parks. Make sure any drinks are sealed up though!)

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2. Schedule your fast passes (and well in advance)

Fast passes allow you to¬†plan your day out ahead of time, up to 30 days in advance. If you want to get on really popular rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom or the new Frozen ride in Epcot, you’ll want to schedule that exactly at the 30 day mark, otherwise you’ll be waiting an hour or more for these rides. (PS- you’ll want to make dining reservations too if you want to have any sit down meals. Often times sit-down restaurants are all booked up by the time you get in the parks.) Better to plan ahead!

3. Know the photo spots.

Two things: The best place to get a photo by the castle? Go all the way down Main Street, hang left, then turn right up towards the castle, you’ll find a great, clear spot to take a photo. Epcot? Head towards guest services, it’ll be easier to get a photo with the great big golf ball back there than in the front. (Also, you can get a good one by the bridges in Italy while you’re in the World Showcase!)

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4. Remember, there is more to Disney than the parks

Disney is full of awesome activities and places to see, even outside the parks. There’s Disney Springs, The Boardwalk, ESPN Wide World of Sports, lots of spas, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Golf Courses, and even the resorts. You can go spy some animals at the¬†Animal Kingdom Lodge, or head over to Chip ‚Äėn‚Äô Dale‚Äôs Campfire Sing-Along show is at Disney‚Äôs Fort Wilderness Campground. You can even watch movies under the stars at multiple Disney resorts. Imagine afternoon tea at The Grand Floridian? A Kitchen Sink sundae at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop? Yes, please!

5. Character Dining

If you have little ones, I highly recommend doing Character Dining.¬† There’s multiple options across the parks, with various characters. Make sure you look up the characters ahead of time, the last thing you want to do is book a character experience with characters you aren’t really that fond of. (And YES, you must book this in advance, and make sure to get there early, even if you have a reservation.) Character dining is a little more expensive, but great one-on-one time. You don’t typically get a lot of that by simply waiting in line for a photo with the characters.

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6. Magic Bands

If you’re going to Disney multiple times or for more than just a day, do yourself a favor and get some Magic Bands. They are so much easier than digging out your ticket every time you want to use a fastpass. Also, set up your photopass (free for annual pass holders) and link it to your band. Some rides have special videos that link to your band/app automatically. Don’t miss out on capturing the memories!

7. Eat a dole whip.

Just do it.

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8. Fireworks

Yes, Magic Kingdom has some magical fireworks with the the castle in the background. However, some of the other parks have amazing firework shows. Some of my favorites are are Fantasmic in Hollywood Studios and Illuminations in Epcot.

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9. Ladies:

You can get SUPER cute¬†ears on Ebay, and don’t underestimate the power of a dress in a theme park as far as breeze goes.

10. Staying on property with little ones?

When you check in, ask for a wake up call from the man Mickey himself! (totally free)

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PRO TIPS:

¬†Pack hand sanitizer that smells good to make you feel good. Take an Emergen-C, and an Echinacea pill each day to keep from getting sick. Pack sunscreen, and a first aid kit… you don’t want to pay park prices for those necessities. Stretch each morning and night before and after you do a ton of walking. If you’re staying overnight, bring Epsom salt to soak your feet in at night.

You’re welcome.

All for now,

xoxoxo

Meg

Travel Diary: LA: West Hollywood & Beverly Hills

Hey folks! Jason and I finally made the big trip out to the West Coast, and I am finally sorting through our photos from May.  (Sorry! Life happens!) So here it is, our California Adventure:

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While in California, we stayed at a friend’s cute little studio in Long Beach. (Shout out to Dana! Thanks, girl!)IMG_8815

Before hitting the LA traffic, we wanted to find some much needed coffee and ended up finding our favorite coffee spot from our whole trip. (We came back multiple times!)

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Lord Windsor had a super friendly staff, and a beautiful atmosphere. And the coffee? top notch.

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After that, we headed off to eat some breakfast with Dana at this cute little spot called The Attic. We needed some good comfort breakfast food after such a long flight, and The Attic was the perfect spot. Great outdoor seating with a fire going, and good company. We couldn’t have asked for a better morning. (PS- LA was cold. Like… in the 50s.¬†For a Florida baby, it was a little too cold for my liking. Isn’t it supposed to be SPRING?!)

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After that we went over to get our rental car. (Just about the only thing exciting about turning 25 is that you can rent a rental car without extra fees, and Jason actually got to do it! His birthday was on the day we flew out to LA)

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Jason had to catch up on some work the first day, so we went to another coffee shop in West Hollywood.

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Alfred Coffee (In the Alley) was really adorable and was a great little work space, but we have to admit… the coffee wasn’t all too great. This was one of the shops that was highly recommended when researching¬†coffee spots in LA, so we were a little disappointed.

IMG_8824 IMG_8821 After that we headed to Beverly Hills to see the sights:

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Highlight of our daytime adventures: Having lunch at The Beverly Hills Hotel with our friend Riley!Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 11.59.30 AM

This place was actual paradise. Seriously, when I immagine my dream tropical getaway hotel, this is exactly what it looks like. Lots of pink, lots of greenery, a beautiful pool, a tasty lunch…¬†The Beverly Hills hotel had it all.¬†¬†We ate outside by the pool and had a delicious lunch with a great friend.

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I was so excited we were able to see a few friends while we were in town… So happy I got to see this beautiful girl!

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After lunch we hopped over to Montage Beverly Hills Hotel for Happy Hour drinks at The Garden Bar. This place was just about as gorgeous as the last, and the cocktails were amazing!

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For sunset, we made the trek up to The Griffith Observatory. (And you bet we played the La La Land soundtrack all the way up the mountain.)  This was actually one of the most magical parts of our whole trip. The view and the sunset made the whole hike from the car worth it.

Best date ever, to say the least

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If you’re wondering, yes it’s worth it to stand in line to look through the telescope. Super cool experience.

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If you’re planning on going to The Griffith, get there early! This will help make your hike a little shorter. (But also make sure you stay for sunset because, like I said, it’s magical.)

To end the night, we had dinner at this delicious plant-based Mexican restaurant called Gracias Madre. ¬†If you’re in the area, I would highly recommend checking out this restaurant, and their cocktails.

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And that was Day One of our LA adventure.

More to come,

xoxoxo

Meg

New York City: Day Seven

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Today was the best way to start the morning. We grabbed coffee at Ralph’s (Located in Ralph Lauren’s flagship store)

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and then ordered to-go for breakfast at Tiffany’s! If you know me,¬†you know that I am pretty much in love¬†with Audrey Hepburn, so this was absolutely a dream come true!

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We ended up spending so much time in Tiffany’s! It was HUGE! Jason and I also enjoyed playing and trying on wedding bands too ūüėČ

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-2-47-57-pm screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-2-48-07-pm screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-2-48-24-pmThe best part? They served us hot chocolate with Tiffany Blue marshmallows !

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After Tiffany’s we made our way over to Times Square to get ready to see Waitress!

We grabbed a bite to eat at Dos Caminos, right near the theater.


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We had a wonderful view of Times Square, so we enjoyed people watching.  Plus, the food was GREAT, and had lots of vegetarian options!

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After that we saw a matinee performance of Waitress!

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Jason and I were so excited to see this show. When we decided to go to New York, this was one of the first things we said we HAD to do.

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We have been listening to the soundtrack for some time now, and we were more than excited to actually be there. I was a tiny bit disappointed because Jesse Mueller (who is the original Jenna) was out and her understudy was on. However, I will say that her understudy, Stephanie Torns, was PHENOMENAL!

Pretty much cried through the second act, no big deal.

Oh, also, they had pie. Pie smells through the lobby, pie whirling around the stage, and pie to eat! So, of course, we got a little pie and a glass of wine to share.

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We were on a musical high after that show, and we were supposed to go to¬†to ABC Cocina for dinner at 7. (Thanks to JamieLynn for¬†the reservation!) But as we were walking out of the theater to go to dinner, we noticed that TKTS had Chicago on sale for 50% off…. so we went with it and saw another show! (ABC Cocina next time we’re in the city for sure!) Sometimes you just have to do what feels right.

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I am so fortunate to have been able to see TWO shows on Broadway in one day! We were so stoked. Chicago was a totally different feel than Waitress (obviously). I wasn’t sure what to expect because I have actually never seen a live version. ¬†No sets, no crazy costumes. Just music, dance, and jazz.

It was a pretty awesome show to have seen.

We definitely weren’t ready to head home after that, so we checked out a spot that we missed out on earlier in our trip.

We went to The Back Room. 

At first we weren’t sure where to go…. it was a speakeasy, and definitely hidden.

First we saw a sign like this:

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And then you walk down the stairs…..

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-3-13-49-pmand then down a long (creepy) alley…

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Then you come to a door with no markings and only an eye hole.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-3-14-14-pm¬†and if you’re courageous enough to open it up… you’ll find one of the only two remaining speakeasies still operating in New York City.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-3-13-40-pmThis was seriously such a cool experience. So many famous theater and movie actors, ¬†and gangsters have flowed through these doors. We’re talking Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, people.

They still serve beer in paper bags and cocktails in teacups too! (Just in case the fuzz comes by ūüėČ )

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It was such a fun environment! They played lots of different kinds of music, and people were all dressed up, and dancing in different old-fashioned styles.

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It’s hard to see, but that bookshelf there? Leads to a secret room.

We were so happy we made our way over to see such a great spot in NYC!

After that, we went back to our Air BnB and ended our last night in New York.

We had such a beautiful time in the city, and we definitely want to visit again. We really only got to do a fraction of what this place has to offer. But we are so thankful that we had the opportunity to travel here! 

New York City: Day 6

Today was a beautiful day because when I woke up, it was SNOWING!!!!!!! We laid in bed and watched it fall from our window for a little while before going out in it. It was so pure and pristine.

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I had never seen snow fall before. I have seen it once, in little piles on the top of a mountain in Austria, and another time in sludgy tiny melted piles in Philly. But I have never actually seen it fall from the sky. So this was SORT OF A HUGE DEAL FOR ME!

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After soaking in the snow, we headed over to Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in America.

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(Not going to lie, I mostly wanted to go there to see Alexander Hamilton’s grave. No shame in my game.)

After that we made our way south to see Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. 

The snow was not as pretty during this walk… as there were HUGE puddles of water. I don’t think either of us had the proper footwear for this! Plus… it started actually raining.

After major security, and taking off all our coats, hats, scarves, gloves, just to put them back on again, we finally found seats on the warm ferry.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-05-11-amWe grabbed a pretzel and a coffee, and the boat left for the islands.screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-04-57-am screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-05-03-am

We stopped at the Statue of Liberty, but we did not climb it because our bodies are quite tired by this point in the trip, and my leg is still not feeling so well.

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But we stayed long enough to snag a few pictures.  screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-09-28-am screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-09-44-am screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-09-36-am


I was mostly interested in going to Ellis Island to see where my ancestors came through when they got to America from Sicily.

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I remember going there as a kid, and doing a wax trace with a green crayon of their name from the walls lining the museum, and I am so happy I came back as an adult to do it again.

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My Italian name is Pollara. My great grandmother married a Faulconer, and so I gained a bit of English in me, but I still have roots in the Pollara family. img_5147

I was so happy to be in my history element, and we took our time through the museum to really learn and absorb our history.

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Once we got through the museum, we boarded the ferry back to New York, and decided it was time for lunch. We went over to Wo Hop in Chinatown to see what my family has been raving about.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-17-11-am screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-17-21-amWo Hop is a tiny little restaurant in a basement, with wall to wall decorations from past customers.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-17-32-amAnd let me tell you… the food was amazing!!!

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If you’re looking for great Chinese food in Chinatown, look no further. Plus, the service was great, and it was super cheap.

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After that, we walked around Chinatown for a little bit, and checked out Canal Street. We weren’t interested in buying knock-off designer bags, so we didn’t stay long, but I am glad we got the experience.

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Next on our list was the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Bring on the waterworks.

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The first (and only) time I had visited New York, it was around a year before the towers went down. I remember going all the way to the top, and my ears popping in the elevator.

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A year later, I remember my principal announcing what had happened over the intercom. My 3rd grade teacher immediately turned on the news, and she began to cry. I remember being the only person in my class that even knew what the towers were. (Growing up in Florida, not many kids I knew had made it to NYC quite yet.) The moments and days following that were a blur. I remember watching the news non-stop, and I remember my grandfather being especially upset, because he had actually laid tile in those very buildings. I also remember hearing stories about good family friends who had barely escaped the tragedy.

That was a time I will never forget. Suddenly America wasn’t safe anymore. This great country we called home was threatened, but it also allowed Americans to come together as one. The world I know today, and the country I know today was shaped around these two towers coming down.

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Going to the memorial was something I felt like I had to do, as an American. It was beautifully done.

Unfortunately we didn’t group to the observatory because it was so foggy, we wouldn’t be able to see anything.

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After that, we went home with heavy hearts and tired feet.

We rested a bit, and then got dolled up to go celebrate our engagement at The Rose Club at the Plaza Hotel. (Which also has a Champagne Bar… count me in!!)

Thanks for the suggestion Michelle! 

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This place was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We decided to let go, and actually splurge on a bottle and a great meal.  We got to talking to our bar tender, and a really nice couple next to us, and we were really having a great time in their company.

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We realized they were closing, and we said goodbye to the couple next to us as they left the bar. We asked our bartender for our check, only to find out that the couple next to us took care of everything! (We were so shocked!) We wanted to say thank you, to reach out to them, but the bar tender told us not to worry about it, and that the couple didn’t want us to realize until after they left.

WHAT A SURPRISE! There are beautiful people in this world. Seriously?!

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-10-33-15-amAfter getting over our shock, we headed down the street to this club that our bartender recommended.

It was through a restaurant, down the stairs, through the kitchen, and into the basement.

It was called Boutique. There was no cover charge, and the space was really cool. They had champagne sparkler fireworks going off, crazy lights, and awesome dance music.

Jason and I grabbed a couple of drinks, danced, and had a blast. We even caught our bartender on the way out!

Overall, we had an amazing evening.

 

 

New York City: Day Five

We slept in a little today, but not too much! Once we were up and moving, went over to The Butcher’s Daughter for brunch, which was absolutely delicious.

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The decor was adorable, modern, and fresh, and the food was exactly what we needed.

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Despite the name, The Butcher’s Daughter, it is a completely¬†vegetarian restaurant, which works out great for us!

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(Yeah, that’s black bean “bacon”)

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After breakfast we went to grab coffee at Happy Bones, and I sat to do a little bit of work.

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Yummy coffee, warm, and really neat space. screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-12-02-51-am

After my work was done, we wandered around Nolita for a little while, and we fell in love. <3

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Time for lunch! We were so happy to be able to meet up with some great family friends for lunch at The Modern, right outside of MoMA. Oh my goodness, it was utterly amazing! Every bite was beautiful, and it was such a great experience.

Jason and I both had a great time savoring our lunch and having great conversations with my Uncle Kenny and Aunt Debbie.

After that, we made it to MoMA. (PS- MoMA is free on Friday’s after 4pm). This was another thing on my bucket list, and I am so happy we chose MoMA. We knew we didn’t have time to do all of the museums in the city, but we definitely wanted to see MoMA. Klimt, Warhol, Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, MONET, Dali, Pollock, Mondrian, Willem de Kooning, AND MORE, where can you go wrong?

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Seriously, MoMA was amazing, and I wish we had more time to really explore, but we were on a time crunch because (surprise!) we left our Nutcracker tickets at the Air BnB, so we had to go allllll the way back to get them.

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THEN WE SAW THE MOST MAGICAL THING THAT EVER WAS! THE NUTCRACKER!

I have never seen The Nutcracker,  but I have always wanted to. The New York City Ballet was beautiful and everything I could have dreamed of.

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I’m just going to stop here and thank Sue Vaughan for the tickets! <3 ¬†You’re absolutely the best!¬†

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After that, we were feeling a bit STARVING, so we went to grab some Mexican food from Burrito Box, just up a couple of blocks.

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-12-04-59-am screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-12-04-50-amIf you’r e looking for a quick bite to eat, this place is great! (and super filling!)

 

Well, that about wrapped up our day.

All for now,

xoxoxo

Meg

New York City: Day Four

Let me start out by saying, today was the coldest I have ever felt in my life. It was 25 degrees, plus wild wind. (I almost couldn’t stand straight at some points!)

We started out at Best Bagel and Coffee this morning. 

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Now, normally my motto is that if a place has to name itself the best, it’s probably not the best. However, we got some recommendations from our friends, and we were told that we had to go.

NO REGRETS! This place was EXCELLENT! It was super crowded and busy, which was a little annoying, but it was worth it. (Thanks Ryne and Sharon!)

After that, we headed over to Chelsea Market, where we spent more time than we thought we would.

img_4967 img_4964 img_4962 I was thrilled because we found a little shop that sold chains. I was able to get a chain to put my promise ring on, since ¬†I have a new one in it’s place. ūüėČimg_4959 img_4960 img_4963

 

and here is Jason being a tourist ūüėČ

 

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After Chelsea Market, we wandered through Chelsea and took a short walk on The High Line because it was FREEZING (literally)!

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After that,  we went back to our Air BnB to get ready for dinner and to rest a little.

We went over to Rosemary’s ¬†for an early dinner. The place was gorgeous, and was honestly the best food we have had yet. They grow most of their vegetables right there at the restaurant. You can taste the freshness.

img_4955 This place was beautiful, and warm, and Christmas-y, and oh-so romantic. I would HIGHLY recommend going here. img_4941

Then we headed down to see Avenue Q! Such a hilarious show!! I have known the music for years, and have always wanted to see it. We scored pretty cheap tickets and got great seats!

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After that, we headed home for some much needed sleep.