The Covid Christmas We Should Have Seen Coming

Christmas Day was surprisingly joyful, considering what came before and after …

As the final days of 2021 wind down, I’m hoping that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Our trip to New York for the holidays got disrupted by an outbreak of Covid within our family (extended family, at least, so far the five of us are still Covid-free), so we ended up cutting it short by a week. Still, we managed to pack in a lot of celebrating before things turned ugly.

While I’m grateful for the positive things that came this year — vaccines, three healthy daughters who turned five, four and one, a husband who loves me and takes care of us in this roller coaster of a life, a career that I really love, and so much more — I also won’t be sad to see it go.

Here’s hoping there’s even more to look forward to in 2022. Bis bald, friends … and happy New Year!

The “Calm” Before the Storm

The week heading into our trip was crazy for us, as well, with my stepdad flying in for a visit, Grace turning four and Emilia turning one. We managed to get in a lot of partying before we even boarded the plane.

My sweet, sassy middle daughter. I hope you never, ever change <3
She insisted on having her dinosaurs with her in this picture. Just one of the many reasons I love her so.
My last baby. Emilia turning one has been bittersweet for me. It’s the most fun to watch her grow, and also the saddest to leave the baby phase behind.
Never. Not. Happy.
We took the family to see the holiday lights at Chatfield Farms before we flew out to New York, which ended with freezing cold kids and lots of tears … but it was pretty while it lasted!
Early Christmas at home before we left meant another excuse to wear our matching Christmas pajamas … not that I ever need an excuse.
Thank you, Denver Airport, for having all the fun holiday entertainment! Emilia hadn’t met Santa yet, so this helped me tick that item off my bucket list 😉
As a surprise to no one, Emilia is a champion traveler.
At Grandpa’s …. pre-Covid confirmations :/

New York City for a Day

We had always planned to head into the city for a day during this trip, but we got spooked by Covid numbers the morning we were meant to catch the train. So we ditched the public transport idea and decided to rent a car, instead. I’m so glad we did, because it ended up being a highlight of the trip. It was the first visit for Emilia, and seeing the city we love all decked out for the holiday … well, there’s really nothing quite like it.

We stuck to the touristy parts of midtown — Grand Central, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays — and seeing these things through the kids’ eyes, for the first time, was so much fun.

Ah, the allure of a mini-van. I won’t lie … it was definitely nice having this extra room! We love our Highlander, but a mini-van … let’s just say I get it now.
There is nothing like that skyline.
This is the building where it all started for me. My first real job in magazines — an internship at More and then a full-time gig at Parents — was right here, and I must have walked these streets hundreds of times. To be back there, taking a photo with my girls, really meant a lot to me <3
Of all the places in the city to visit on a holiday trip, Bryant Park is my absolute favorite.
And of course no NYC trip is complete without a big ole’ street vendor pretzel!
Times Square was freezing! But the ball was up, and the girls thought the craziness was so much fun!
Grace was very excited by the Rockefeller Christmas Tree 😉
We spent a lot of time in front of these window displays, and Lotte would have stayed even longer! She was so thoroughly entranced by them, and it was the cutest thing in the world to see.
We ended our visit with a trip to Grand Central, where Chris showed the girls the parabolic curve (where you can talk to people on opposite sides!) and the pretty main hall.
And the Grand Central Market for treats, of course!
Love ya, NYC. Until next time …

Christmas and the Days Before It

We learned the day after we got back from the city that my stepdad had Covid, so we hightailed it out of his house and went over to my sister’s (after we all got negatives on our rapid tests, of course). This ended up being futile, since our Christmas morning tests were negative again, and by the next day my brother-in-law and then sister had it, as well. Still, for those couple of days, we continued on, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Chris and I had already decided that we would be leaving early, and we had already cancelled our Airbnb trip to a lake house in PA (THANK YOU AIRBNB FOR ISSUING A REFUND!) and had moved our flights up by a week to return home (THANK YOU SOUTHWEST FOR ALLOWING US TO DO THIS FOR ONLY THE COST OF THE FLIGHT CHANGE, A MEASLY $150!). We figured if we’re going to get sick, we’d want to be at home when that happened.

Plus, we had nowhere to stay. We officially had Covid cases in both of the family homes where we could go.

I know a lot of people had their holidays ruined or changed due to Covid this year, and I can only hope that by next year, we’ll be in a better place. Who knows, really, but for now, like I said, I’m counting my blessings …

At least there was snow on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Eve gifts from elves, courtesy of my sister <3
At-home manicures were a big hit!
The cutest.
Also the cutest!
Christmas morning cuties!
Grace’s face pretty much says it all … does it not?!

And that was our trip in a (shortened) nutshell, friends. We made it back home in one piece, which is pretty much all that I can ask for at this point, and we’ll be ringing in the New Year together as a family of five <3

See you all in 2022 … and BIS BALD!

Keep the drinks coming!

Back in the Borough: Go Shopping in NYC

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Well here we are friends — at my final entry in this ‘In NYC’ series. Chris and I officially leave the apartment on Saturday, and we fly out to South America on Sunday to start our new journey.

Gulp.

But we won’t go into that just now. For now, let’s talk about something fun … like shopping in New York! There’s no better place to do it, friends. Here are a few of my favorite haunts.

Where to Go Shopping In NYC

1. Chelsea Market [for any and everything]: Especially around the holidays, Chelsea Market is one of my all-time favorite places to shop (and even just hang out) in NYC. They have some seriously delicious eats, dozens of retail stores and, as an added bonus, it’s close enough to the High Line to hit up both in the same day. That would be one of my ideal ways to spend a shopping day in Manhattan.

2. Union Square Farmer’s Market [for produce]: Check out amazing produce from local farmers every Monday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Union Square at the Greenmarket. In peak season there are around 140 regional farmers, fishermen and bakers, selling their goods smack dab in the middle of the city. It’s a pretty fun experience.

3. The West Village [for a picturesque stroll]: With its cobblestone streets and nooks and crannies, nothing says old-timey New York quite like the West Village. Go for a stroll here and you’ll happen upon tons of boutiques, cafes and other gems. (Or get a feel for the lay of the land ahead of time with this guide on the best places to shop in the West Village.)

4. Century 21 [for discount clothing]: For great clothes at knock-out prices, my husband swears by Century 21. You’ll have to do a little digging here (and have a lot of patience), but if you can handle the crowds, you’re bound to score some pretty awesome finds.

5. The Strand [for books]: If you’re a book lover, plan to spend hours in this literary Mecca. Chris and I just hit up The Strand a few days ago to sell back some of my old books that we won’t be taking to Denver (hello $30!), and I was reminded of how awesome this place is. Their tagline is ’18 miles of new, used and rare books’ … don’t you want to see that?

6. Grand Central Market [for treats]: I’ve mentioned the Grand Central Market before on this blog (most recently regarding the awesome cheese options they have there), but it’s worth mentioning in the shopping section, too, because it’s just that awesome. With about a dozen individual sellers, anything your little heart desires, you can find it here. Candy. Breads. Cheese. Fruit. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. While it’s relatively small in size, the Grand Central Market is a treat-lovers haven.

7. Gotham West Market [for a smorgasbord]: If you’re with a group of people who just can’t agree on what to eat, Gotham West Market is the place to go. I’ve talked about this place before here, but with their eight artisanal food options, there’s something for everyone. It’s also close walk to the Hudson River Park, so you can eat a little, take a little walk, then eat a little more. My favorite things in life.

And that concludes my ‘In NYC’ series, friends. I hope you found something that piques your interest, or that inspires you to add to your ‘must see’ list the next time you’re in town. I know these places will always be on my list when Chris and I make our way back to the city to visit (which we plan to do a lot). 

Bis bald, friends. I hope everyone’s having a great week.

Back in the Borough: Get Cheesed in NYC

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Welcome, friends, to the 8th installment of my In NYC series, wherein I discuss the most amazing places in the city to eat cheese. I know that sounds odd (it felt odd just typing it), but cheese is something of a thing here in Manhattan. People have their own favorite places, we’re all about the artisanal cheeses, and you absolutely do not show up at someone’s place without bringing a block of your stinkiest findings along.

So, friends, here are some of my favorite places to load up on this tasty treat.

Where to Get Cheese In NYC

1. Murray’s Cheese: With monthly clubs to join, classes to take and an entire section on their website dedicated to simply teaching about cheese, Murray’s is about more than just tasting cheese — it’s about learning everything is there to know about this delicacy.

2. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: I’ve mentioned Beecher’s before on this blog, so I won’t go into too much detail here again, but I’ll just say that I love the fact that you can actually watch them making the cheese at Beecher’s. [And their downstairs cafe and wine area helps bring this place to the top of my cheese list, as well.]

3. Lucy’s Whey: Granted this is a neighborhood fave and maybe a bit out of the way for your average tourist, Lucy’s Whey (located at Lexington and 93rd in our hood, or 425 W. 15th St.), has a lot going for it. The staff is always super friendly at the store in our neighborhood, and have been very helpful when I’ve stopped in. Plus their little cafe is a great place to grab some lunch.

4. DTLA Cheese [Grand Central Market]Mostly because of its fun and fabulous location in the Grand Central Market, DTLA Cheese makes a great pit stop when you’re heading in or out on Metro North.

5. The Cheese Counter at Fairway Market: If you don’t have the time to seek out a dedicated cheese store, hop on into a Fairway Market and hit up the Artisanal & Gourmet Cheese Counter. With over 600 types of cheeses available and classes to boot, the Fairway Cheese Counter can certainly hold its own against an actual cheese store.

6. Vitner Wine Market [dying to try]: Along with everything else on the menu here, the cheese plates sound out of this world. [Hey Cow Plate with Brie, Teleggio, Raclette and Aged Gouda … I’m coming for you.]

And that’s it for the cheeses, my friends. My last ‘In NYC’ category [which I will justbarely squeak out while we’re still actually living in NYC] will be Shop In NYC.

Bis bald, friends!