Home for the Holidays

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This theory may not hold up in a court of law, but I believe there is only one way to truly, truly appreciate the magnificence of New York City and that is to be from somewhere else. You have to have gone without to know how much NYC is truly offering you. And since I am an NYC import, I traveled home to Buffalo, NY for the holidays and to catch up on some hometown treats.

To avoid the assumption that during the the week I was home I had to take a sled of dogs from location to location, I will reveal there was actually no snow on the ground, even though we somehow got the reputation for always being covered in inches upon inches of snow.

Christmas traditions are the salvation to the holiday and for as long as I can remember my mother has decorated her house from head to toe, (she gave me an official tour of the decor setup upon arrival), there is a fresh tree with homemade decorations from her younger days and I suppose technically mine as well and Christmas morning begins with breakfast casserole and blueberry muffins. These days however we are including mimosas for the now mature attendees. We exchanged gifts and in true “my mother” fashion, whom you never need to tell what you want, she always knows just what to get, she presented me with a frame of photos from my blog, one of my cherished accomplishments of 2014. The day also included several stops to see family members I wish I could see much more often with a quaint dinner at my Aunt Pamm’s house where I chose my own homemade ornament.

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A post about Buffalo, NY has to include the the consumption of some Buffalo wings and I took advantage of Mommy and Me time at the Bar Bill Tavern in East Aurora, NY for wings at one of my favorite wing establishments in the Buffalo area. We reviewed my karaoke rendition of Santa Baby (now booking performances) and the antics of our Chocolate Lab Goliath.

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The week also included my father mentioning an unborn child in the form of a grandchild that I owe him, coffee with a dear friend at the local Spot Coffee and making stops at places that most certainly feel like home and laughter with friends that I without a doubt miss.

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I would be lying if I said that I don’t miss home, where everything seems familiar, but on a six hour drive home, I reminded myself that there was a reason that I moved to New York. There is some course in history that needs me to be here and if that reason is simply to add a chapter to my story that makes me better able to conquer the world, then I will take it. Because as they say, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” Until next time.

The City to Save Christmas

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There was a point around the end of November, when I was feeling a bit like the Grinch. Solely because I once again would have to go through the routine of figuring out a list of gifts to disperse at the end of the upcoming month, a routine that has been haunting me for years now. I had lost my holiday spirit. After a particular rant to a friend about gift shopping,  I realized I was in desperate need for some more joy and cheer and something reminiscent of childhood christmas adventures.

On a typical train ride along the A line, I decided to start my day at Columbus Circle and once I hit the top of the stairs, there it was, the beginning of Operation Save Christmas. Santa Claus himself was not waiting for me at the top of the stairs in a shiny red sleigh with his reindeer ready to take me to the North Pole to help me believe again. (#christmaswish) It was however, a quaint holiday market nestled in Columbus Circle with Christmas music playing low, local food vendors and a plethora of homemade gift possibilities. It was just enough to kickstart what has become a string of reasons to believe again. Every day since, there have been decorations and the smell of fresh Christmas trees on the busy streets of Manhattan, even a few in Queens, specifically a one eyed Santa hanging near a Starbucks by his neck to inspire the countdown to Christmas.

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If there is anywhere to make you feel like a child again, and eager to write a letter to the man of the season it starts at the infamous Rockefeller Center and spreads out like a web. I avoided Rockefeller Center for the first week after the tree lighting specifically to experience the moment with my brother, which makes sense since I share 23 years of Christmas memories with him. So I stuck to 6th Avenue and overdosed on 15 feet tall Nutcrackers, larger than life Christmas ornaments, lit up reindeers and department store windows.

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On the Sunday that my brother Gylan and I chose to see the Norway Spruce at 30 Rockefeller center, he jokingly asked if i had googled tourist trap. We did have to share all 45,000 LED lights with about a thousand other people and a marriage proposal on the ice, but the 85 feet tall Christmas wonder had enough cheer to go around and Xmas had found its way home to me.

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 The books have closed on my first quarter in New York City and things are ending in the Red, but not in the disastrous, have to sell off stock options sense. The city is known for being expensive, fast paced and demanding, but all that is requested from you, will be given back tenfold. For the low price of my imagination, the streets of New York opened up the floodgate of childhood memories with it’s Christmas Splendor and the main reason is because this city tries. New York puts in the effort that we all want from anything we involve ourselves in. The right amount of light and love that can sweep you off your feet. Happy Holidays to All! Until next time.

Thank You Broadway

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I am going to apologize upfront. Even a day after seeing the Broadway production of Kinky Boots, I am still on a theatre high and I am hoping this post isn’t full of too many extravagant theatre similies and the overuse of jazz hands.

The real secret to taking in a Broadway show without having to pay the price of miniature horse is a theatre lottery. Two and half hours prior to the show, you place your name in a lottery and if chosen you are allowed to purchase tickets with a partial view for a lower price, which in this case was $37.50 compared to $85 and up. It was a crisp New York City night so the odds were in our favor and on the tenth pull my name was called.

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Our seats were in the top left balcony, which was so close to the performance, the urge to hop on stage to improvise, hit me a few times. I guess they have to categorize these seats as partial view, because well if they called it anything else how would the full ticket purchasers know they were a part of the elite.

The theatre itself was intimate, the stage full of simplicity and charm, the actors overwhelming talented and because I would like to just get to the point, the play was spectacular. The story of Kinky Boots is one of two men taking their different paths to the discovery of the person we all want to be, which is really just the assurance that we are meant to be ourself. And it is the help of a pair of kinky boots that help them to accomplish that. The most amazing moments for myself came from the singing and stage presence of Billy Porter, who plays Lola. He may have played a Drag Queen on stage, but beyond the costumes, it was his voice that gave me goosebumps.

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In an effort to be honest with my audience, I will admit, I did shed a couple of tears during the round of applause at the end and it was for good reason. This play was a wonderful reminder that there are ways to escape the constant demand of the modern world we live in. It also made me reminisce of all the wonderful theatre experiences with my Aunt Jinx as a young girl. We would sing tunes from Showboat like we were understudies waiting to be called in. But most importantly that this city can feed every part of our soul that needs to be nourished. I felt alive after that play and after singing every shuffled song on my iPod in the car like it was my final appearance on Broadway, it all kind of came full circle. This is the city I was destined to be in, where I would be assured that I am the person I was meant to be and for that New York City deserves a Broadway bow. Until next time.

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Brooklyn Bowl

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Slowly, but surely I am turning into my mother or just possibly getting reaffirmation that I am a product of her womb. I would best describe her either as Google or CNN since she is full of information and always has breaking news. She either cuts out articles for my brother and I, emails YouTube links or saves show clips for us to watch while we are in town and has notes written on a small piece of paper so we can have reference material for later, mostly of NYC treasures she suggest we try. So on a lazy Saturday morning I caught an episode of Weekend Fix on Bravo and they happened to be in Brooklyn, which gave me a few things to add to my “Conquer New York City” list. I took notes, contacted my partner in crime and we made plans to reserve a lane at Brooklyn Bowl. Daughter see, Daughter do.

Located on Wythe street, Brooklyn Bowl is nestled next door to Brooklyn Brewery and surrounded by an abundance of street art. The wait ended up being shorter than anticipated, but that provided a window to grab a early dinner and the fried chicken did not disappoint. Note to my mother, my #1 blog fan, this fried chicken is not better than yours, I know you will ask. It would have been rude to not try the featured Winter Ale from Brooklyn Brewery, it being less than 50 feet away and it turned out to be a nice reminder of my love for the local brewery.

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Our lane was ready and the venue revealed a fun atmosphere with leather seating, a stage which hosts live acts, large screen televisions for dual entertainment and 16 lanes of pin possibilities.  This post will not be featuring the scores of the two games we played or more so that I attempted to play, but fun was had by all and I helped participate in quality control to make sure that the gutter lanes do in fact still work on Lane 15.

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I had one last must do for our Sunday agenda and that was to see the buzzed about plexi glass installation by Tom Fruin located near the Brooklyn Bridge. Night time turned out to be the perfect time of day to see the art piece lit up against the backdrop of Manhattan and in true Lacey fashion, known to be slightly dramatic in some crowds, I took the moment to appreciate another reason to fall in love with New York City.

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My weekend also included a mix of kale, apple, carrot and wheatgrass from Grassroots Juicery on Graham street in Brooklyn, two early morning jogging sessions on and along the Brooklyn Bridge (jogging being more of a mindset than continuos physical act) and a quick jaunt on some swings. But the best lesson of the weekend would have to be, if you wake up early enough you can indeed have New York City all to yourself. Until next time.

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Chelsea Charm

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New York City has this subtle way of introducing you to new parts of herself and they seem to be placed perfectly in your path, like a freshly found love note or an unexpected text with a sincere note of affection. The different parts of New York City are things you are never looking for, but after you will realize it is something you are always going to need.

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After a disappointing loss by my hometown football team, my dad was in town and I wanted to give him a a chance to fall in love with a NYC sunset. The High Line Park, located on the West side of Manhattan, is an elevated park beginning in the Meat Packing district and former home to a railroad track. Prior to being a city resident and only being able to be labeled as a visitor, I always tried to make it in this direction. There is something majestic about this park, a botanical garden surrounded by the concrete and glass, that makes up most of NYC. We circled around for parking, but found a spot just in time to see what could only be described with an exhale.

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I picked up a piece of street photography before a High Line exit and with a thirst for something more to do, the Chelsea Market welcomed us with open arms.

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It will take several visits to fully conquer the Artist & Fleas Chelsea Market. After putting a cap on my excitiment for this discovery, we began to explore and found vintage clothing, organic beauty products, stationary and a handmade jewelry stand by the name of Brooklyn Charm. The time seemed appropriate to support a local vendor and I invested in a small bracelet with my blog name hand stamped on the blank plate.

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Beyond the flea market, there are restaurants, bakeries and other stores in the market including Lobster Place with every piece of fresh seafood you could possibly think of. There is a cup of Lobster Bisque with my name on it and I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn’t return soon.

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Who the hell knows how long this blog or my NYC adventures will last, but my new piece of jewelry will be a nice reminder to take advantage of every opportunity this city has to offer, fall in love with as many NYC sunsets as possible and stumble upon new things that I never knew about, but am always going to need. Until next time.

Brooklyn Heels

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I only had one agenda for my Sunday and it was Brooklyn. I owed my brother a Birthday feast and the Buffalo Bills were not playing for the week so no appearance on a Manhattan stool with a beer in hand this week for me. I only wanted exploration and I found it in the pheromones of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I specifically wanted to conquer the “Killer Heels” exhibit now being featured until February 15th. I met Gylan two hours before closing time and insisted he handle the negotiation of the entrance donation. These situations suit him much better and we entered at a donation of $10 a person versus the suggested $16. Rebels I know. (You can enter the museum for free every first Saturday of the month.) “Killer Heels” is an exhibit filled with heels dating all the way back to 1600 and their role in the lives of women via high fashion, pop culture and day to day transformations into a body of confidence, sexiness or whatever role a shoe may play, even a source of pain. Portraits, short films and shoes on display give the onlooker a variety of connection points.

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An interactive part of the exhibit allowed attendees to describe their relationship with heels and the result was a wall of expression and interactive art.

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The five floors of the Brooklyn Museum house more than just an exhibit of shoegasims and stops on a few more levels off the elevator gave Gylan and I more art to digest.

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The Brooklyn Museum, like many other museums, is a time machine, a capsule full of the past and present and whatever interpretation may find its way to you, is a break, an escape from any email, text or Facebook post that can find you. Not to mention the horrible cellular service in the museum, which is hopefully by design. The day was just as I pictured it to be and on our way to a restaurant insisted upon by our mother, (one of her true callings), we both took a look back and agreed to pause time and take a break from the world at another museum soon. Until next time.

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The Little Things

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The best thing by far would have to be all the little things that add up to make this city charming and give me a burst of energy and over the past two weeks a collection of moments have added to this city’s resume of reasons to stay and fall in love. Most of these “things” may be food, but how else will I have the strength to dart the fast paced pedestrians. Walking to the train one night, I looked up to see Grand Central Terminal staring at me under the perfect weather of a sky full of stars. This city has the power of turning buildings into friends, streets into runways and train rides into reasons to dream forever.

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Waffles & Dinges makes Belgian waffles with a variety of toppings.  I keep my snacks simple and ordered just syrup out of the food truck, but I may mix it up at my planned next visit to the kiosk nestled on 6th and 35th.

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And then you turn the corner and there is a market full of fresh fruits and vegetables, ripe and ready. I have found the only spot to purchase produce and the aroma and colors of the location screams fresh. Thank You Astoria.

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Mini cupcakes Baked by Melissa are spread throughout the city and while the note may suggest cupcakes are for sharing, these Red Velvet, Tie Dye, Chocolate Carmel and Triple Chocolate cupcakes were not shared.

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Every culture of food is represented in NYC and a breakfast sandwich may not be anything to write home about (or blog about), but a Cuban restaurant on 1st avenue makes it like no other and it was nicely, no perfectly complimented by a Cafe con Leche.

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It only took me two months, but there it was, the infamous blue Greek cup featured on so many episodes of Law & Order that I had been trying to enjoy some coffee out of or actually any liquid, as long as it was in this cup. The cup officially called Anthora was designed in 1963 to appeal to Greek coffee shops. The original design features “We are Happy to Serve You” in Greek design font and the colors are those of the Greek flag. The cup is synonymous with NYC for me and thats why I am officially upgrading myself to a new status of “New Yorker.” Until next time.

New York Newbie

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Anytime you bring a set of fresh eyes into a new circumstance it is actually as if you yourself are experiencing something new all over again. A coworker turned good friend came to visit this past weekend and had never been to the big apple before (enter gasp). My agenda was to hit all the major must do areas and while we covered a couple of basics, it was the adventurous side of me that decided to give Nikki a “Hell Why Not?” experience for her first visit. So we winged it on the train, (I have to admit I really was not sure if we were getting on the right train, thank goodness that worked out for street cred purposes) got off at DeLancey street and stumbled upon Los Feliz, a taqueria and tequileria on Ludlow and tried some rather unique cuisines before the final mission.

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We began with a “Everyone loves a Ginger” margarita followed by fresh ceviche, a butternut squash quesidilla topped with caviar and finished with crocodile and pork belly and octopus tacos. All to die for and perfect for a pleasant anecdote to back up the “Hell, Why Not?” experience I was shooting for.

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After having a wonderful dinner and roller coaster ride for our tastebuds, it was time. Time to go through the sketchy red door that would lead to what I hoped would be a nice surprise for Nikki and an experience that lived up to the stories that I had heard of the place. The place, Menhanata’s, a Bulgarian bar, featured hookah, swings as seats and the reason for our journey, an ice cage. An ice cage where you must put on a uniform with your choice of heavy jacket and headwear and then use a ice shot glass to take six shots in two minutes of vodkas from around the world. Let me preface the pictures by saying, we weren’t falling down drunk and this isn’t binge drinking, its just one of those stories that you tell your out of town friends and they all give you that expression of surprise because New York City is as crazy as they thought it to be.

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So there it was, a Friday night of “we just happened to do this” moments followed by a stroll through times square, a weekend of drinks around the city and the viewing of our hometown football team at one of my favorite bars. She even got to experience the worst of what NYC has to offer, that is New York City traffic. Until next time.

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Dumbo Arts Festival

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Your Saturday in New York City has the potential to be anything you want it to be, whether by choice or by chance. A whim to stroll in Brooklyn Bridge can turn into a visual explosion of art. The Dumbo Arts Festival, Dumbo standing for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, was a three day festival showcasing exhibits of every magnitude. I can’t think of a better back drop for art then the Brooklyn borough and each exhibit lent itself to an open connection for any person willing to indulge. Below are some pictures of the festival and some reasons to stop for a moment and get lost in the art. Until Next Time.

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New York Water Taxi

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I wish I could say that I didn’t want to pinch myself everyday, but the truth is I still wonder how I got here. I still wonder how the universe came together and put everything in its place to make the perfect circumstance for me to move to a city that has always been on my bucket list. An overwhelming feeling of pinching hit right at the moment when I could see the Brooklyn Bridge in its full length from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the New York Water Taxi. There I was on the top deck, with my brother, benefiting from a Groupon deal on a day with the most beautiful weather. The boat left from Pier 16 and for an hour every window in Manhattan stared back at us and before returning back we danced with Lady Liberty herself. A tour guide muffled on and on about every history fact he could remember, but even with his background noise, the waves, the views and a long island tea created moments truly pinch worthy. Until next time.

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