Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Heart

We've had two gatherings of the photography club and one lesson. I'm (now) all manual all the time so I'm very slow and meticulous with each shot (not because I'm good but because it takes me five minutes to figure out the shutter speed, ISO speed, aperture, etc).

Anyway, I asked Michael to be my male model and he begrudgingly obliged. Here's a few unedited shots from this evening. I'm not in love with them but I am in love with the subject so that counts for something right?

(This is not Michael but Miss Begonia in our front yard.)

What a crotchety old man! :)

Photography fans--any advice? I need all the help I can get!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NYC - Day 5

(Last day, I promise. I'm hoping my NYC posts have convinced you to visit and not made you hate the city, or even worse, hate me....)

Day 5

It felt like the last day of our honeymoon. So happy for the experience, so sad to be going back to the real world. We weren't flying home until that evening so we left our bags with the concierge and hit the pavement one last time.

We stopped at a cheap cafe for breakfast. Right above our booth was a choking instruction poster (of the food variety, not the "I am going to kill you" variety), so I felt very safe while consuming my chocolate croissant and sprinkled cookie. Breakfast of champions.

Today's adventure was visiting the Meatpacking District.

Let's pause for a second, shall we? I've heard people talk about the Meatpacking District dozens of times and I always did one of the following: a) snicker b) gag c) snicker and then gag. It just doesn't sound like a pleasant place whatsoever. But! Several people told us we had to see it and I am so glad we did. I LOVED this area. It felt like a less exposed Soho. The neighborhood was gorgeous--so many streets were filled with trees and eclectic decor. People were out walking their dogs (almost all were French bulldogs) and it had such a cool vibe to it.

We visited Chelsea Market and immediately regretted our decision to stop at the cheap cafe. Chelsea Market had so many great restaurants but we were both so full. We will eat there on our next visit. :) We walked up and down several of the streets (Charles, Bleeker, Hudson and Perry to name a few) and loved the cute neighborhood parks. The Apple store was fantastic, as was Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenburg, and my personal favorite, Theory.

We saw our next "celebrity" at Cynthia Rowley's store. She was in the back of the store meeting with a client and I leaned over to Michael and said, "That's her!" I patiently waited for her to give me a few pieces from her fall collection but that never happened. :)

We had lunch at Corner Bistro, which was a complete DIVE--very dark and mellow. We'd been told they had terrific burgers and I'm so glad we knew a little bit about the place because they did not offer us a menu and the only information we gave the waiter was how to cook the burg. Well worth the initial panic of "Holy cow where ARE we?" because it was great! If you're not a huge burger fan, skip this place because it is not known for its ambiance or friendliness (or plate size). But if you're like the Haynes' family, a great cheeseburger (hamburger for the mister) is one of the quickest way to our hearts.

We walked east so we could see the Flat Iron District and then it was time to head to the airport.

Once we got in the cab we noticed Mickey Rourke was in the car next to us. He really is one ugly man. I'm sure he has a stellar personality so that's good.

And so ends our fabulous trip. We weren't in the airport five minutes before I turned to Michael and asked when we could go back. For those who love Manhattan it is an absolute addiction. I recommend it to anyone that is willing to put aside everything they know and open their eyes to something completely different. Each day we felt like we were in a different city so I truly believe there is something for everyone (and in our case, everything for someone).

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce. Now go book your own trip and tell me all about it. :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Take On A Popular Nursery Rhyme

This little boy is the brother...

This little couple is grand...

This little couple is aunt & uncle....

This little (big) girl doesn't understand...

And this little couple yelled "wahoo wahoo wahoo!" all the way home!
Baby Besancon due early April, 2011! We are so excited!
Boy or girl? Find out in approx. 28 weeks. :)

NYC - Day 4

Monday was one of my favorite days of our trip. We started the morning by grabbing more coffee and visiting Macy's, which was only a few blocks from our hotel. We quickly learned that it's not really fun to shop when stores are that big. Actually, it's horribly intimidating. I did enjoy the entire floor of shoes--no surprise there.

We continued walking north and made our way to Rockefeller Center. We are both HUGE 30 Rock fans and I looked high and low for Liz Lemmon (Tina Fey). After taking several pictures we wandered in some familiar stores: Banana Republic, Anthropologie, J. Crew and the like.

Even if you're not a fan of Anthropologie, I beg you to visit their stores in Manhattan. It was a great experience. The window decorations are gorgeous and the actual store is set up beautifully. I didn't buy anything due to the size (see paragraph above) but I could have stayed in there for hours discovering the odds and ends of the store.

Enough about that. Dad, still with me? We had lunch at Tri-Tip Grill in Rockefeller Center (not bad!) and then continued walking around the area. We also visited St. Patrick's Cathedral and Radio City Music Hall.

Once we finished looking around Rockefeller Center we made our way to 5th avenue. For 2 hours we went in store after store and were ignored by everyone. I realize our appearance/attire didn't scream "rich rich rich!!!" but I figured someone would acknowledge us. Nope, not one. I blame it on my blonde hair. Regardless, the stores were incredible.

Annie told us to head over to Dylan's Candy Bar (Dylan is Ralph Lauren's daughter) because their store windows were decorated for Fashion Week--dresses made entirely out of candy. Fabulous!

On the way to Dylan's we passed a Diesel store with their latest ad campaign, "Be Stupid." Are you kidding me? I want to punch whoever came up with it. It was so ridiculous that it made me think of Zoolander's Derelicte. ("Let me show you Derelicte. It is a fashion, a way of life inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique.") :)

We also checked out Magnolia Bakery---ohhhhh glory. Those cupcakes were amazing. Definitely worth trying. I had red velvet and Michael had German chocolate.

As we were heading back to the hotel we stopped at Midtown Comics for Michael.
And then, my friends, we went to Mood (if you haven't seen Project Runway this means nothing to you). "Thank you, Mooooood."

We enjoyed the hotel's happy hour one more time and then it was time for Michael's birthday dinner.

We took the subway to Grand Central Terminal/Station (depends on who you ask) and it was gorgeous. I don't know what I was expecting but it blew me away.

I surprised Michael with dinner at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal (very good--not great). Michael is a huge fan of oysters and this place had approx 40 varieties.

Whew, this was a long day! We ended the night at the Empire State Building. The whole sharing an elevator with 5 billion people made me want to vomit but it was definitely worth it. Michael had never been to the top so I was really excited to show him. As soon as we were on the top deck I looked at his face to see his initial reaction. Michael's eyes lit up (good!), he said "Oh wow..." (better!), and continued with, "Is that a lightning bug?!" (FAIL.) I might have hit him. Once he got past the lightning bug that was 87 floors up he was impressed with the view. Not the romantic setting I had in mind but eh, it'd been a long day. We can't all be Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle (although I do know we were MFEO).

It was hard walking back to our hotel knowing this was our last night in NY....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

NYC - Day 3

Sunday morning was the exact opposite of Saturday: dark, dreary, and we both awoke with a groan. Two days of walking on concrete was enough to make both of us uncomfortable (but nothing a quick shower and bit o' stretching couldn't fix). After getting dressed we were on our way to Soho.

Our brunch reservation was at 11 but we got to Soho a little after 10 so we grabbed some coffee and wandered through a few stores. It’d started drizzling by that point so I bought a hat and had them cut the tags (my hair + rain = tragic, tragic mess).

Brunch was at Five Points and was fantastic. This place was BUSY. Most diners looked like NYU students hungover from a crazy Saturday night, which made both of us smile. The food was delicious (as were the mimosas) and was perfect for a drizzly morning.

We walked so many streets in Soho and fell in love with the area (I think it was Michael's favorite part of NY). The people were nice, the shops were unique, and it had a very cool yet cozy feel to it. We didn’t take many pictures due to the weather and what we were doing. “Take a picture of me in front of this store” seemed a bit ridiculous.

This was also the day I noticed Michael repeatedly saying "we're white" each time the signal changed and we were able to cross the street. I told him that even though I understood what he was trying to say, he might want to change his phrase or else be prepared to get smacked in the head with an umbrella.

After spending several hours perusing the shops, it was time to head further south to Battery Park and Ground Zero. After two stops on the subway I realized we were on the right line going the wrong way. I was already tired and wet (neither are pleasant and together make a lethal combo) and might have been a little snippy with one Michael Haynes. We got off at 23rd and walked around looking for food. Nothing sounded good and before we knew it we were back at our hotel and I was downright cranky. I sat on the bed for about 10 minutes, regrouped, grabbed the hotel umbrella and we were on our way again.

We hopped on the correct line this time and headed south to Battery Park. We were still looking for some food and it turns out downtown NYC is DEAD on Sunday afternoon. Every place was closed—so bizarre. We went to the edge of the park to see the Statue of Liberty and then made our way to Ground Zero. It was hard to experience but we both felt it necessary, especially since we were in NY on the anniversary of 9/11. I think we both said a silent prayer for the victims' families and, for the second time that day, I teared up.

By this point we were starving and were desperate to find something to eat. After an hour (AN HOUR!) we found a pizza shop that was actually open. Neither of us remember if the pizza was that good or if we were just that hungry. Afterward we checked out Wall Street and also Trinity Episcopal church.

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting Annie and her fiance Craig for dinner and drinks at Supper. This place was cute and the food was great. I was originally a little "hmm" about it because it was cash only and did not accept reservations but it exceeded all expectations. It was great meeting Craig and is always a treat to see Miss Annie Kate.

After dinner we decided to brave the subway at night, which we'd previously avoided. Once we were situated I looked around and thought, "What's the big deal? This is great!" As soon as I felt comfortable we came to a stop and a man hopped on that made me rethink every positive thought I'd had. He looked like he had a plan and no one was going to get in his way. Turns out his plan was to sit right next to Michael and play his keyboard for the group. If you'd given me 1000 chances to guess the song he was about to play I would have failed miserably. Because once he got the keyboard midi music going he broke into a lively rendition of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." I gawked. And smiled. And then I swayed. And then Michael grabbed my leg just a little too hard so I stopped.

Only in New York.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NYC - Day 2

Thanks for all of the positive comments so far! I realize a lot of you might prefer a short and sweet one-post-overview but this will be so great for us to have when we’re old and decrepit. Who am I kidding, I won’t even remember traveling to NYC by the time I turn 30. Stupid memory.

Day 2:

We woke up to a very bright NYC skyline and were out the door and on our way to Central Park by 9:30. We had a choice: walk 40 blocks or take the subway. Since our stomachs were already grumbling we chose the subway. We knew exactly which line to take and how long to take it, but were completely confused by the multiple pay stations for different types of passes. When I am not confident about something I lose all sense of rationale. Michael calmly took my hand and led me to a “live person” who could help us. He asked her what we needed to do and she just looked at us. Michael continued his question and was met with a glare. He finally came to his own conclusion and said, “…so I guess we should probably buy 2 passes one way…” and before he could finish she told him the amount, slid us our passes, and yelled, “NEXT!”

And New Yorkers wonder why they have a bum rap.

We hopped on the subway and were on our way. Once we reached Central Park we were in absolute awe. What a gorgeous forest in the middle of concrete and steel!

We took this exact picture on our honeymoon. Thought it'd be fun to re-live the moment. :)

We wandered around for quite awhile (halfway lost, halfway enjoying the scenery) before we found The Boathouse, a great restaurant on one of Central Park’s many ponds. I was expecting it to be a pretty laidback place but it was quite hoity-toity and, much to my delight, filled with fellow blondes. Sure they were old and the blonde was more of a light blue, but that’s neither here nor there. Great food, great service, great view. Once again, highly recommend (brunch begins at 9:30 on the weekends and they do not take reservations—we got there right around 10:30 and it was pretty full).

The flower on our table was the same as what all of the girls carried at our wedding!

After brunch we took some more pictures in the park before heading west to Levain Bakery. Kaitlin had seen something on television about this place so we made sure to stop and purchase the amazing cookies. They were huge, they were gooey, they were life-changing. I packed them in my bag and we continued walking to Lincoln Center. We were originally going to skip this area but Fashion Week moved here (from Bryant Park) and so it became a must on my list. I’m so glad—we absolutely loved this area. After finding a sitting area we enjoyed 1/3 of our cookies. I kept my eyes peeled for celebrities and designers but no luck.

Look at that cookie!!

Pretty neighborhood in the Upper West Side

We left Lincoln Center and walked south to the Modern Museum of Art (MoMA). I’d wanted to go to a museum and this one came highly recommended. Let’s start with the positives—it was a fabulous building and two of the floors made the entire museum worth the visit. (While most fell asleep during my 20th Century Art History class in college, I fell hard for Kandinsky, Dali, Miro, and Van Gogh.) The other floors, however, were just a little too “What IS that?” to us. The longer I stood and tilted my head, the more confused I became.

This brings me to a typical “Meredith moment.” Michael and I wandered into a smaller room and on one of the walls was a plaque with the artwork’s explanation. I was more than a little confused because there was no art. Blank wall. The plaque began with, “Please do not touch.” I paused and glanced at the wall again. Um… touch what? Was this like one of those 3D images where I needed to cross my eyes until something leaped out? Just as I started to walk away one of the museum guards yelled, “Get off the art.” I looked over to see who he was talking to and he loudly repeated (to me), “Get OFF the ART.” And then he pointed to my feet. I looked down and I am not kidding, I was standing on a blob of white paint. Only it was not a blob of white paint, it was art. I jumped off the blob, grabbed Michael, and fled the room. While I was completely embarrassed, I was also annoyed that the man was so rude (seriously—put something around the stupid thing if you don’t want people stepping on it) and more than that… that was ART?! WTF.

After checking out the rest of the museum we ventured outside to see the structural art and sat down to continue eating our cookies. We were both pretty tired so we decided it was time to walk back to the hotel and change before dinner and the show.

On the way I had a run-in with one of my TV crushes.

As we were leaving the hotel I asked the concierge to take our picture. He was sweet enough to tell me I looked nice and needed to “work it” for the picture. I told him I refused to do the whole hand on hip phenomenon, so he told me to stick out my leg. I think next time I’ll just stick my stupid hand on my stupid hip. I look ridiculous. It didn't help that he actually sat on the ground while taking our picture so we both look 20 feet tall with miniature heads. Whatev, it is one of four pictures of the two of us (that was not taken by us).

We had dinner at Sardi’s, which is near Times Square. We both really enjoyed it. It was one of my favorite meals of the trip, although I’m not sure if that’s the restaurant or just a lucky dinner choice on my part. Michael enjoyed his food but not nearly as much as me.

After the meal we grabbed some coffee before making our way to Longacre Theater to see La Cage Aux Folles. As soon as we rounded the corner I was face to butt with a 6’4” woman with the most beautiful legs. I actually gasped. And then she turned around and hellooooo… not a woman. S/he was one of the many dancers in the show and told us we were sitting in the “gay section” up front (as opposed to the “homosexual section” near the back). After we sat down s/he walked around the theater and made small talk with all of the attendees. Absolutely hilarious. Minutes before the lights went down, Patricia Heaton and her husband took their seats next to Michael. She and I made eye contact and I’m sure my eyes grew because she gave me a slight smile. I wasn’t completely sure it was her until moments later when she laughed--that gave it away.

The show was incredible. Kelsey Grammer was good, but his co-star Douglas Hodge stole the show (and this was his broadway debut)! Michael and I laughed the entire time and I can’t wait to see it again. If you haven’t seen the Birdcage, check it out (it’s a movie based off of the musical).

Look at those legs! And that waist! And holy cow I'm still so jealous!

As we were leaving the theater s/he was already out front again saying goodbye to the group. One couple brought their three kids (oldest one couldn’t have been more than 7) and s/he put his/her hand on the middle kid's head and said, “I bet you have a lot of questions...” HA!!

And that brings me to the end of day 2. I really meant to make this a 2-day post but I’m tired (my sincerest apologies). Thanks for sticking with me!


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