Shopping on Newbury Street

Yes, once again, another post on my travels! I know this sounds strange to say, but I’ve been feeling a little homesick for New York City these days. It’s not like I don’t already spend five days a week here, but between all the travelling and difficulties with storm Jonas, I’m looking forward to a weekend in my city!

This past weekend, we ventured up to Boston and New Hampshire for a quick getaway to visit Fabian’s sister! We decided to head to Boston Thursday night, and spend Friday morning exploring. Our version of exploring ended up being a walk around the Copley Square area, with a quick peek at the Boston Public Library, and a delicious brunch at Joe’s American Bar & Grill.

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The beautiful Boston Public Library

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They even had my favorite St-Germain cocktail!

We only had a short time after brunch to walk around, and the Jack Wills store was calling my name. Unfortunately, New York City is missing on this gem from over the pond, and I was in desperate need of a warm winter coat. By desperate, I mean my lips were literally turning purple the other day. Time for an upgrade.

One parka and a little “light” shopping later, we walked out to a perfectly chilly Boston day. Luckily, it was warm enough that I could get away with a layered combo of a gingham button up and my favorite L.L. Bean Fishermans sweater.

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Sweater. Shirt. Hat. Purse. Jeans. Shoes (similar).

It was the perfect start to a great weekend!

A Weekend in Saratoga Springs

Fun fact: I may love birthdays, but I love birthday surprises even more.

As I mentioned in my last post, it was my boyfriend’s big 2-6 and the planner in me wanted to organize it to perfection. When Fabian’s sister suggested a surprise birthday trip, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.

We ended up going to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. It was an impromptu romantic getaway, but our horse and carriage came in the form of a super fancy Adirondack Trailways bus. Vinyl wood flooring and leather seats.

Need I say more?

I honestly did not know much about Saratoga Springs, other than the fact that I had been dying to go to one of the famous horse races in the summer. But hey, no harm in having a quick winter preview!

Honestly, it ended up being amazing. Saratoga Springs has so much history, great hiking paths, natural springs, and delicious food. We arrived Saturday afternoon, determined to accomplish as much as we could in the 24 hours we had there. We walked around the town, tasting the natural springs with cups, courtesy of the visitors center. The water was sweet, delicious, and filled with minerals. This hypochondriac was convinced that it could heal anything… a little cold I had went away overnight!

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When I travel (and in life in general), I am a complete planner. I love to research ahead on the best restaurants, bars, and shops in town. To me, a short trip should never include any subpar meals. You only live once (and this girl loves good food)! Luckily, Saratoga Springs in particular was full of endless options. I could hardly decide!

The next day for breakfast we woke up early to be sure to make it to the best bakery in town.  I had read a lot about Mrs. London’s Bakery online, and it did not disappoint. The sandwiches were made to perfection.

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Better yet, the scones and almond croissants were to die for. Finished off with a cup of coffee, it was the perfect pre-hike breakfast.

MRS LONDONS

 

Saratoga Spa State Park was next on the list. It seemed as if the whole town was out and about and enjoying the chilly morning. Us New Yorkers walked off the path a bit and acted like we had never seen snow before!

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The grand finale was at Druthers Brewery. I had read great reviews online, but expected it to be the type of place you had a beer flight (small samples) and an appetizer. Two large casseroles of mac and cheese later, I was proven wrong. Their mac and cheese section on the menu was irresistible. I went with a veggie tex mex medley.

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It was the perfect weekend getaway. My only regret is that I wish we were there longer! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to experience the mineral spring baths at the famous Roosevelt Baths. Lesson learned, make an appointment ahead of time. There’s always this summer!

Any suggestions for our next Saratoga Springs adventure?

XO

-J

 

 

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Anyone who knows me can tell you this: birthdays are my favorite. Whether it’s my birth-week (yes, I get an entire week), or celebrating the birthday of a friend, I get so excited! This upcoming Saturday, it’s a birthday I’m more excited about than usual. My boyfriend Fabian will be turning 26, and I wanted to make sure his year started out extra special. Needless to say, I have been driving both him and myself crazy trying to prepare and make everything perfect.

I decided that for his friends dinner tomorrow night, I had to make him his favorite cake. Of course, his favorite isn’t something simple like chocolate or vanilla. Nope, my man wanted himself a red velvet cake. A RED VELVET CAKE. Do I look like Betty Crocker?! The perfectionist in me was by no means going to buy a Duncan Hines cake in a box and call it a day. I was going to make him the best homemade red velvet cake he would ever eat.

After a google search, I found a great recipe from the blog Divas Can Cook. It was simple, and had great reviews. What happened next is in no way her fault.

New York City kitchens are tiny, definitely not meant for cooking, and in my case outdated. Mixing the batter was easy, minus a run to Duane Reade to pick up more vanilla extract halfway through the recipe. But when I had gone to check on my cake in the oven, it started burning way before the recommended 30 minute cook time. I quickly took it out, put it in the refrigerator and decided to give it a day before I would try to frost it. Note to self: My oven temperature is really off.

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Today, in order to attempt to save the cake, I cut around the edges, and made the two layers about an 8 inch round instead of 9. Burning problem, solved.

Next, I moved on to making the frosting. Once again, halfway through the recipe, I realized that my newly bought bottle of vanilla extract was missing. After a frantic search in my poor little kitchen, I decided the only thing to do was run out to Duane Reade (again) to grab a new bottle.

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Following a powder sugar explosion, and a bit of a mess in the kitchen, the cake was FINALLY on it’s way to being iced. At this point the hallelujah chorus was playing in my head.

The cake was a bit crumbly from being hacked at, so the icing had little red flecks in it. To hide the imperfections, I took the cake crumbs from the burnt pieces and sprinkled them around the edges. The finished product?

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I can now see why he confused me with Mrs Crocker.

But seriously. This cake faced some serious adversity and still came out pretty well. I was shocked, but also really proud of myself! It’s great to see what you can do when you put your mind to something.

For all you birthday lovers/cake enthusiasts out there, here are a few items I recommend for your baking adventures:

  1. Kitchenaid hand mixer. Pick one in a bright color to make baking fun! Mine is flamingo.
  2. Non-stick 9 inch cake pans. Perfect for making a two layer cake!
  3. Wilton Icing Spatula. I grew up watching my mother use these to ice all her cakes and cupcakes. A baking must have.
  4. Cooling Trays. Whether you’re making cookies, cupcakes, or a cake, you don’t realize how much you need a cooling tray until you go without one. After a bad Christmas cookie making experience in my apartment, I ordered myself a set right away!

 

 

When In Rome…

In keeping up with my resolutions, here is post deux of the week ! The gym has yet to happen, but let’s not focus on little details…

I’ve always been someone who LOVES to travel. While many of my friends were throwing lavish Sweet Sixteens in high school (parents, you have MTV to thank for that), all I wanted for my sixteenth birthday was to go on a school trip to Italy. I was lucky enough that my parents saw the value in a two week euro trip, and my birthday wish was granted. Over those two weeks in the hot Italian summer, I ABSOLUTELY fell in love with Italy. The people, the culture, the style, the food. Everything. I fell in love, and I fell hard.

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Yes, I am wearing a shirt that says “Good Girls Go to Heaven,Bad Girls Go To Italy.” I will also confirm that I am wearing oversized white flip flops and a pink Coach bag. 2007 was not my year.

Fast forward five years later, and I decided that I had to study abroad my Junior year. After receiving the go-ahead from Mom and Dad (currently having an epiphany that I have insanely generous parents), I signed on with the Maryland-In-Rome program. Once again, I was in love. As an art history major, my classes were taught in piazzas, churches, and museums. My textbooks came to life, paintings were no longer just seen on powerpoint slides, learning felt fun! Better yet, I had the flexibility to travel throughout Italy and Europe, exploring every inch I could. Aside from a pick-pocketing incident in Belgium, the whole experience was nothing short of amazing.

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Ok, still not sold on the headband-scarf-sunglasses combo but this photo is a LITTLE redeeming. Points for being a token Roma photo in the Vatican.

This winter, I once again had the opportunity to return to where my sixteen year self bought a “Bad Girls” shirt (poor life decisions). Bella Italia! My boyfriends family had invited me to join them for a trip through Tuscany, starting in Rome. The trip was special in itself, as I was so excited to have the opportunity to spend more time with his parents, his sister, and her boyfriend. The one aspect that really made the trip though? We were riding through the Italian countryside in style:

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Our larger than life, Mercedes, 8 person van!

The experience ended up being so fun, special, and memorable. From Rome, to Civita di Bagnoregio, Cortona, New Years in Florence, Arezzo, Verona, and lastly Bologna, each place was magical! It was even better that I got to experience it with such great people.

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Artsy in Arezzo

I could write a novel on all the great sights and delicious meals, but I’ll leave you with this. TRAVEL. It’s good for your soul, your heart, and your mind. Who wouldn’t want to see the world?

 

New Years Resolutions

Happy 2016 everyone! That sounds weirdly futuristic doesn’t it? It seems as if it was just yesterday that it was 2000 and I was ringing in the millennium. Where has the time gone?

Sixteen years later, here I am, 24 (and a half) and really feeling time fly by. Every year the reality of adulthood and the need to “find myself” becomes more and more pertinent. I know many people can agree with me here, but I seem to always make resolutions, but never keep them. This year though, I’ve made myself a list of goals that are definitely attainable.

I hope.

  1. BLOG MORE. Seriously, at least three times a week. I know, I know. I have said this EVERY year for the past three years, but 2016 IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.
  2. Go to the gym at least three times per week. I’m starting to realize paying for a yearly gym membership may not be fiscally responsible when I’m only going MAX two times…per year. Time to pump some iron people!
  3. SAVE MONEY. If I’m being honest, I have saved very minimal money since graduating college. Salaries in the fashion industry aren’t amazing, and living in New York City is super expensive. I’ve set some budgets that I am going to stick to. Loving clothes and being poor is HARD people.
  4. Find my passion. I enjoy my job, and I am SO happy in my life at the moment. Happier than I’ve ever been! I feel like I’ve figured everything out, except my passion. What do I love? What do I REALLY want to do with my life? This year will be the year to tell!
  5. Last, but not least. travel. Last year, I managed to do so many weekend trips, spent two weeks in London, and traveled throughout Italy. I’m lucky. In an effort to keep up the momentum, I’ve already planned a few small trips for this month. Have to travel while I’m young!

So 2016, you weirdly futuristic, strange sounding, scary year. Get at me. I’m ready for you!

What are your New Years resolutions?

Happy New Years y’all!

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