Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Home Sweet Philadelphia!

Our Apartment and the Restaurant Below
I am kind of sort of in love with the neighborhood we are staying in while in Philadelphia. We are smack in the heart of Rittenhouse, two blocks from the square and every corner you turn there is something to charm the pants off of you; architecture, remnants of history or the quaint urban gardens.

The apartment itself  has these giant windows that flood the place with light, making everything bright and the open concept is great at hiding the smaller living space. We have landed in yet another walk up, no elevator, but Tom and I are becoming expert movers at this point and quickly handled the move into our new place while barely breaking a sweat. Although part of the easier moving might be due in large part to my continually sending things back to Utah; I am pretty sure Staci is starting to curse my monthly packages of shoes and clothing, I have now realized I didn't really need to bring the 20+ pairs of stilettos with us on the journey. I'm having moments where I wish I could go back in time and tell past Bonnie what future Bonnie knows now and maybe packed for our wanderings a little differently.

One of the cobblestone streets right around the corner from us
The high ceilings and crown molding add so much character to this place, it makes it easy to come back to after a day of walking and exploring all the rich history this city holds and just relax. Plus I have a dishwasher once again, still no washer and dryer, but the building has one, so I only have to trek down one floor in order to have clean clothes versus the three block excursion that we experienced in New York! I know, New Yorkers would just tell me to send it out, but I couldn't get past the idea of somebody else handling my delicates.

Parking in the city is a little crazy at times; everything in the area is either metered or you have parking garages galore if you aren't a resident; Tom and I had planned on going the parking garage route, but I was able to work my charm and get us a temporary parking permit for the month. Although charm might be pushing it, I really just had to ask and I figured the worst the city could do was tell me no. So I marched myself down to the city offices, Ethel in tow, with the lease for the month and low and behold, a glorious parking permit was bestowed upon me and completely reaffirms the mantra, it never hurts to ask!

Rittenhouse Park
Rittenhouse is hopping with great restaurants on every corner, and there is a cute little Italian place, La Fontana, right outside our door, people literally eat at the outdoor tables right below us; which is pretty awesome! We are also close to Philadelphia’s City Center and pretty much anything and everything we could want to see is in easy walking distance from us, not to mention all the fabulous shopping up on Walnut Street. Biggest plus is the park right around the corner; Ethel loves being able to visit the park a few times every day, it is almost like having a yard again. The area is a bit quieter than our New York neighborhood and she seems to be quite a bit happier here than she was there, which is good for us, because a happy dog, keeps me happy!

This apartment doesn't have a television, which might be a breaking deal for some, I find it to be a little slice of heaven. But I am not a big one for TV anyway, back home, it was maybe on for two hours on the weekends when Tom was home and that was it; plus if I find myself lacking entertainment, one can stream via the internet or better yet read! Who needs television when there is so much going on to experience, it’s like throwing moments of life away! Although it is easy to say this now only because the Game of Thrones withdrawals haven’t set in yet, so you know, if anybody wants to lend me their HBO Go account, I wouldn't object! 

So here she is our lovely Philadelphia and perfectly located apartment, rented again via Airbnb

Love, Friends and Everything Else New York

Love, love was in the air in New York City as Tom and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage; the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs and all the adventures in between; needless to say the good times far outweigh the bad times and I feel lucky to call him my husband.

So how did we celebrate, well in true New York fashion of course! Tom surprised me with tickets to Wicked at Gershwin Theatre, not knowing where we were going until coming up upon the theatre, I was just told how to dress, and eager to see what he had planned and ecstatic once I knew; the show was phenomenal and the music spectacular! Then finishing off our anniversary at the most romantic place in New York City, The Boathouse in Central Park for dinner, it was a dream and I truly felt like a queen in a fairy-tale and I can't wait to see what the next fifty years holds for us! 

So what else makes New York great? Friends, we have a bunch of friends in and around the city that truly made our trip here phenomenal! Honestly, Heather and her adventures were a dream and I am seriously missing them now that we are in Philly, I have contemplated driving back to Brooklyn and kidnapping her for a day or two. I am going through her friendship withdrawals! But we also, got to catch up with so many others that we haven’t seen in ages the Dolan’s, our college friends Jed and Clark and brunch with Tom's boss, Whynde. 

The Adorable Herky
The Dolan’s I mentioned in prior post, they were kind enough to save us from the parking game and let us utilize their driveway for the month of May and then on top of that, Aaron and Anne had us out to New Jersey for a BBQ over Memorial Day weekend. We had such a great time catching up with them, reminiscing about life before they left Salt Lake and all that has had happened since, not to mention their kids have grown like weeds; I wouldn't have recognized them if they weren't spitting images of their parents! Plus Ethel got to meet their dog, Herky, and while they both just ignored each other, Ethel was beyond joy with the idea of being off a leash and having a yard to roam; seriously after being held captive by a leash and concrete, freedom to roam and grass on her belly where just what the pup needed to give her back a little bit of normalcy!

Tom and Aaron
Our college friend Jed and his husband Ben, hosted us for a delicious dinner one night and even invited Miss Ethel to come along. It was a perfect evening; great food, wonderful company and the best part, just catching up on all the important life events that have happened over the years; from the good ol’ Cedar City days to current day life; the success and the happiness of where we all are now. Plus we finally got to meet Ben, who is a perfect match to the charismatic Jed! It was such a great night and we were overjoyed that we got to hang out with them both, seriously, a New York trip wouldn't have been complete without seeing them!

The Guggenheim
Now I didn't have the pleasure of meeting Clark, life kept getting in the way as it sometimes does; however Tom did make it out to Brooklyn for a “man” night and was able to meet up with Clark for a bit before catching up with Willy for concoction of booze and good times. The booze I am only aware of because I saw the state of Tom when he came home, and from the looks of him, they had a fabulous time! So thank you Willy and Clark for showing Tom a great time and giving him a much needed guy’s night out!

China Town
Friends and meeting up with those from our past were the most important part of our trip this time around and although we did do some touristy things, for the most part we avoided the regular places we've seen numerous time. Times Square, Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral weren't really on the list this time; we really just wanted to see a more local aspect of the city, which I feel was accomplished. Although I still got to throw in some touristy fun by visiting the Morgan Library and New York City Public Library, you know if books are involved, I will be somewhere near the premises. Plus the Guggenheim, even though it tends to give me a bit of vertigo once at the top and looking down, is still worth the price of admission, especially when while you’re there and an exceptionally kind gentleman lets you know that in his opinion you are out shining the art; he might have been my most favorite New Yorker! Plus one must take a stroll through China Town, Little Italy and then be introduced to Knish by the best city guide ever, Heather! So thank you to all of our friends who made our trip to New York a success and kept me sane through all the craziness of adapting to full on city life!

The Guggenheim
City life was amazing and having access to fruit stands, fresh flowers and wine stores at every corner while awesome, was a bit overwhelming at times. Ethel hated it! She had to learn that concrete was an appropriate place to use the restroom, the copious amounts of people she wasn't really a fan of and not to mention all the sounds took quite a bit of adjusting for her; needless to say, Ethel is not a city dog! For me, the smells and the garbage were a bit rough, in fact I think NOLA was cleaner than the streets of New York, which is saying a lot; I never once saw a rat in New Orleans, but saw way more than I ever wish I’d seen in New York. Living in an apartment in the city was an entirely new side of New York than staying in a hotel in Time’s Square and while I agree there is no place like New York, it didn't quite win me over like I thought it would; I was prepared to visit this city and be all “This Is The Place” for us, but I was left wanting, now maybe if they can remedy the trash solution, I'll change my tune!

Little Italy
It wasn't all negative though, there are definitely some things that New York provides that a girl could really become accustomed to. Take Seamless for instance, we could literally have food, any type of food, delivered to our apartment; you want a sandwich from the deli, they can deliver that, you want scrambled eggs for breakfast, that can be arranged too. I would literally never have to cook again if we lived in New York! All in all New York gets a bad wrap, but in all honesty, I actually felt safer walking the streets of New York at all hours of the night than I ever would in Utah, people are up and around 24/7 in this city and I never once was concerned for safety, even when I would take Ethel out for her four o' clock in the morning restroom break; sorry Utah, but New York wins for making a girl feel safe, hands down!

The Morgan Library
Thank you New York for letting us see a  new side to you, for all the friends that we were able to catch up with, for the amazing memories and for celebrating life and love! You will be missed, especially the banana pudding from Magnolia's!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Beautiful Brooklyn

The Princes and the Tom’s friend Clark all live out in Brooklyn so in all fairness, we took the trek across the bridge to hang out and catch up with old friends, but in all honestly it was our pleasure to escape the bustle of Manhattan for something a little quainter and with a more of a sense of community; not to mention it gave us the opportunity of eating pizza at Juliana’s!

Now we could have taken the subway every time, but what New York trip wouldn't be complete with at least one walk across that famous bridge! Of course the day Tom and I decided to conquer the Brooklyn Bridge it was during a walk-a-thon, which meant the bridge was crowded with folks in matching attire, busy chatting and in no hurry to complete their quest across the bridge; which those of you who know me, know I am a bit of speed walker, even my slow walk has a bit of hustle to it, so these walk-a-thon people made me slow down, take in the view and practice my navigational ”Frogger” capabilities. Which to give them all credit, they did have to deal with my constant stopping to photograph the experience at everything one could possibly find charming about a bridge, so as they may have dramatically slowed me down, they tolerated my tourist side with ease.

Shot of some of the locks attached to the Brooklyn Bridge
In reality I wish we would have ended up in Brooklyn, I found it so much more appealing than Manhattan, the brownstones lining cobble stone streets have such a beckoning appeal to them. So any reason to escape to the other side of the river was a good reason, especially one to channel my inner child by hopping on a carousel with Heather and her two cute kiddos is an experience that had to happen! A carousel, I honestly can’t remember the last time I hopped on one of these charmers; it was true nostalgia and then to follow it up with ice cream was pure perfection.

Heather and Her Oldest, Drake
Now Heather and I have a way of finding the most peculiar of situations when we are together, and on one adventure to DUMBO area, we ran upon a jumper on the bridge. A guy thought he had been abducted by aliens and was being talked down from his fateful jump by the NYPD, and as good fortune would have it, we watched them pull him down from his perch, take him to safety and hopefully to the nearest mental hospital. It was at that moment I felt like a true New Yorker, having witnessed a jumper seems like some sort of rite of passage when it comes to living in “The City!”  Now I am not making light of the situation, it was sad, scary and something I wouldn't have wanted to see end any other way, but the idea of making ones misery such a public display seems much more like a cry of attention to me, not to mention the vast amounts of tax dollars that went into his rescue; the Brooklyn Bridge entirely shut down to traffic for hours, the boat patrol prepared in the water, the Brooklyn police and the NYPD all in position to negotiate a safe talk down and the rescue if needed, all at the ready; I can’t even imagine the cost of this rescue, money that could have such a profound impact on so many of those less fortunate, than by saving one person from jumping.  But alas the end of the day, a life was saved.

Police Boats in the Water in Jumper Preparation
On the brighter side of Brooklyn are the Botanical Gardens, and I had the privilege of yet another fantastic Heather adventure. This time accompanied by her youngest on a rainy day through the flower gardens and cherry orchards, ah the smell or cherry blossoms! The gardens where lovely and another perfect escape from the city, especially when you virtually have them all to yourselves on account of the weather. It was perfect rainy day, not to mention the fabulous pictures and as Heather would say, sometimes inclement weather makes for the greatest photographs!