Living by the beach provides the ultimate outdoor space for getting fit...mentally and physically. Eldest daughter and I have been running/walking together lately. Our town, Long Branch, has a two mile long boardwalk which was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. It's still a beautiful route, but just not the same as the old boards...there's a chain link fence now (to keep people off the now-exposed sea wall) and just an asphalt road to run upon. We drove out to Sandy Hook last Sunday and enjoyed the change of scenery. The first photo below is of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse (the oldest working lighthouse in the country), the second is looking over from Sandy Hook to Manhattan, the third is North End Beach in Long Branch, the fourth me stretching in Pier Village and the rest are vintage shots of Sandy Hook/Fort Hancock. I was pretty lazy all last winter and gained the weight to prove it. By cutting waaaaay down on carbs (my drug of choice) and getting back out to exercise, 12 pounds dropped off pretty effortlessly. Now to get back to fighting weight I'll have to work a little harder. Remembering how good it feels after running should help a bit. Remembering how good it feels to fit in my clothes should help a lot.
As a goal, Daughter and I may do the Deal 5k in October. I'll never be fast but at least I can be consistent...
The Mister and I headed in to Manhattan Friday...according to weather reports, it "felt" like 106, but that didn't stop us from taking a 12 mile walk and enjoying the day. Three weeks ago I cut grains and sugar from my diet as an attempt to a.) lose the weight I started packing on when SuperStormSandy held me hostage for a week with a full-though not functioning-fridge and b.)to try to get my stomach issues under control. After reading a great amount about wheat and it's supposed multitude of evils, I figured it couldn't hurt, so here I am...3 weeks in on a low carb eating plan. Twelve pounds down and my former gut problems have miraculously ceased and desisted. So, seems to be working. And, no, I don't only eat bacon and eggs! Veggies are my mainstay. Went to dinner at Copper Canyon in Atlantic Highlands last night with the Mister, my brother and his beautiful wife. Ordered Shrimp Fajitas, simply omitted the tortillas. Had a tequila (Copper Canyon is renowned for their tequilas)and enjoyed every bite and sip. I'm fairly sure I breached every possible point of good etiquette when I ate guacamole with a fork-but it was entirely worth it. The whole sugar thing is a beast of another color, but so far so good. My birthday is mid-August, so I am looking forward to the piece of amazing coconut cake I'll allow myself to have from either the Flaky Tart, also in Atlantic Highlands OR Smith & Wollensky if we have my birthday dinner in Manhattan. Either way, I am innately grateful for what I have and where I'm at. Life IS good...
Took the week off from work and am enjoying every second of it! The temp is kind of high-mid 90s-but that didn't deter me and the Mister from driving out to Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ. What a great place to spend a day. We used their bike-share to get around, which was a fantastic way to see as much of the grounds as we chose to...there is also a tram and walking trails, we biked about 6 miles (he with very little effort, me with a LOT of effort) and just kind of reveled in a day which had no structure, no schedule, no stress!!!
You can't help but marvel at the sheer size of the estate...as the Mister noted, it would be like owning your own Central Park. Doris Duke lived a most extraordinary life, and her passion for the land is our gift to treasure.
Our library has an e-book borrowing system, and though I never thought I'd enjoy reading this way, I've become a SmartPhone reading fiend! It's just SO damned convenient...log on, download what you'd like, read away...added bonus is I can read at night without turning on a bedside lamp, thus sparing the Mister the annoyance of trying to sleep with the light on.
In any case, I've been ripping through memoirs the past couple of weeks. Here's a brief list of what's been read:
"The Girl's Guide to Homelessness" by Brianna Karp Not only has Miss Karp faced a ridiculous amount of turmoil in her short life, she was also thrown for a loop in love. Though it's a memoir, parts of it read as a mystery/thriller.
"Found" by Jennifer Lauck. Beautifully written tale of her search for her birth mother, after some daunting and brutal life experiences.
"Everything Is Perfect When You're A Liar" by Kelly Oxford. She's gorgeous, funny and unrepentant. Everything I like in a girl.
"All I Can Handle:I'm no Mother Teresa" by Kim Stagliano. Kim is the mother of three daughters. All of whom have autism. Her take on life will buoy you no matter who you are, where you're at or what you've gone through. She's funny, smart and grounded and unflinchingly shares her experiences as a Mom and wife who has had a lot to contend with.
She's also taken on the role (after some harrowing experiences of her own) of being an amazing advocate for people with autism and their families.
"What I Thought I Knew" by Alice Eve Cohen She was 44, in a great romantic relationship after a tough divorce, and raising her beloved daughter in Manhattan. What could go awry? Throw an unexpected, almost medically impossible pregnancy into the mix. Ms. Cohen's bravely written story stuck with me long past the last page.
Well, it was bound to happen. You can't help but get a little cheesed by the characters hanging around in Times Square. Not the characters of our youth (see: "Taxi Driver" for reference), but the knock-off Muppets and Mickeys which have taken over and attempt to shake down all the unsuspecting tourists they can by taking photos then asking for tips.
Cookie Monster Assaults Child
Disturbing, to say the least. And of course NY is claiming there is little to be done about them. Ah well...much as the "Windshield Cleaners" of the 70s, and smokers of the 90s, the Skeevy Costume Pandhandlers are sure to fade away eventually.
Keep Calm poster can be purchased at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/KeepCalmShop
Awesome NYC and many other decals are available at: http://www.etsy.com/people/FactoryFarmhouse?ref=owner_profile_leftnav
Necklace is available at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/plastique
Fashion items aren't available for purchase. Boo.
Already planning our next weekend in Manhattan. I LOVE that we live so close and can pop in for a day or-much better-grab a hotel for a few nights and spend more time there. But, in lieu of going, I found the above goodies to gaze at while I try to figure out an affordable way to stay at the Bryant Park Hotel-in that gorgeous "radiator" building!
...the best is yet to be...
Visit Advanced Style~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~such beauty, such energy, such inspiration!!! Ari Seth Cohen=Genius.
Came across a story in a magazine this morning about a woman who wasn't feeling so good about her aging self. She would look in the mirror, not recognize the woman looking back and felt mournful about the changes her face, skin and hair have undergone. Is this very common? It seems to be, from what I read and see on tv. So...is it weird I don't feel that way? Granted, I'm 45, not 95 but still! It took me a very, very long time to be ok with myself physically, perhaps it's better to struggle with one's younger self- then relax and be at ease with what we look like as we age. No one ever said this journey would be easy, but we certainly don't need to look for ways to make it harder! So...here's to sunscreen, happiness and self acceptance!! xoxo
My wonderful friend Sandra took me to see Grace Potter and The Nocturnals last night at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. What a great show. Audience was interestingly wide-age-ranged. From fluttery fingered grooving hipsters to us forty somethings on up to....I dunno, 80ish? GP is one amazing woman. She rocked it hard. And looks amazing doing it. After watching and hearing her give it her all, I'm inspired to...do something. People with that much energy AMAZE me. Shows like that are such a positive experience...how 5 people on a stage can instantaneously uplift an audience of thousands is pretty powerful. Live music is one of life's true, spontaneous pleasures.
Sometimes I can get lost in BlogLand, other times it can annoy me to distraction. I'm not a very invested blogger. Meaning, I post sporadically and am definitely more free-form/unstructured than many bloggers. Those who manage to post every day amaze me. Spread the discipline, people! How do you do it?
The holiday crowds were gone, the weather was agreeable (though it rained Friday night at least the temps were in the high 40s/low 50s and there was a miraculous lack of wind)the teenagers were agreeable, the hotel was given high marks by everyone...I'd say our weekend was a success. Eldest daughter chose to stay home and enjoy the company of her friends/the peace of a quiet house, so our party consisted of me, the Mister, our 18 year old and our 15 year old. We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison and 45th. I'd scored 2 rooms at $90. per night per room. The rooms were immaculate, well sized and very comfortable. Both rooms had King sized beds generously piled with pillows and topped with some sort of magical, sleep inducing, fairydust filled featherbed. Bath products are Bath and Body Works (which made the offspring happy and the Mister's hair smell like Rain Fresh Leaves or some such scent.) Staff was lovely, friendly and efficient. Location is perfect-it's located right near Grand Central Terminal. (Side note: if you're planning a trip to NY and reading a lot of patron reviews, you'll notice a lot of people are super harsh on hotels. If you've not stayed in NY before, I suppose the smaller sized rooms can be a surprise? Along with other negative comments, I've found you have to temper them with the fact that NYC is unlike any other place in the country...and hoping to get a mid-west size and priced hotel room is just not gonna happen.)
Second to getting such well priced rooms in Manhattan, I am most proud of my packing prowess. For our Friday-Sunday stay, I basically packed everything I needed in a tote bag. Not a jumbo one, either. I stuck to what I'm comfortable in...tights or leggings, boots, skirts and black 3/4 length cotton shirts. Wore a denim jacket under my winter coat and brought gloves, a giant scarf and knit headband/ear warmer. Felt polished yet comfy. Actually brought a dress which I wound up not wearing at all. I just didn't feel like dealing with a suitcase, no matter how small. My girls were on the same wave length and also packed totes.
So, quick overview of what we did: Got there in the afternoon. As we're walking through Penn Station, we run into a lovely woman I know who comes into the library. We chatted for a minute, she told me she works at 2 Penn Plaza and they have a second house at the shore, which is why they use the library down there. One of my girls commented as we were walking away, "Leave it to Mommy to know someone every place we go."
Checked into the Roosevelt. It's quite beautiful, and has a rich history...from Guy Lombardo to Mad Men to Man on a Ledge, it's worth taking a peek: http://www.theroosevelthotel.com/ I loved it immediately, not in small part because it was vaguely reminiscent of the "Overlook Hotel" from "The Shining". At least in my mind it was. Kind of eerily formal.
First evening: Walked over to the majestic Grand Central Terminal and had dinner in the Dining Concourse. It's such a beautiful building, so many people say it feels as though you're in a movie when you're there. There are sit-down restaurants and of course the famous Oyster Bar, but the lower level is casual and inexpensive. It's pretty much the ideal place if you're visiting NY with children of any age...it's busy, fairly loud and there's a good variety of foods to choose from. We got a few slices (mine with mushrooms, roasted pepper sauce and onions, daughter chose Sicilian and we split a piece of white pie which had nice big slices of garlic on it) from "Two Boots". The Mister and other daughter had delicious sliced steak sandwiches from "Tri Tip"...tender, flavorful beef on perfect rolls accompanied by thin, crisp fries and a side of au jus. Enjoyed a bit of dinner theater presented by a group of adult ragamuffins threatening to fuck each other up over some perceived and, evidently, long standing slight.
Strolled around for a while after dinner, 18 year old daughter is a hard core Sephora junkie, so we hit 3 of them. Yes, three of them. Younger daughter is not so enamored of the art of cosmetology but she was happy to be out of the rain. Side note: while Times Square is now tame as a kitten, if Bloomberg could do a little sumthin' about the Comedy Club pimps and the roaming characters decked out in dingy, second rate costumes well...that would be ideal. I'm starting to think the bedbug epidemic which seized Manhattan probably began in one of those hideous, matted Elmos (replete with fanny pack in case you actually wanted to have your photo taken with said character. Then you are evidently expected to tip them, thus filling the fanny pack with cash. I got a tip for you...drop that shitty costume off at the nearest dry cleaner. Or landfill.) Headed back to the hotel and enjoyed the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes we'd gotten at Grand Central.
Next day, Saturday: The Mister walked over to Ess-A-Bagel and brought us back breakfast. We finished eating, walked over to Central Park and headed uptown. Hit "Shakespeare And Co." book shop http://shop.shakeandco.com/ which greatly appealed to our 15 year old. She loved the selection, was very appreciative that the YA section did NOT consist of a zillion "Twilight" series books (she's not a fan) and wound up buying 3 books which left her in a happy mood. The Mister wanted to see "740 Park Avenue" as he is currently reading the book by Michael Gross http://www.amazon.com/740-Park-Richest-Apartment-Building/dp/0767917448/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358359931&sr=8-1&keywords=740+park+avenue and, hey, we were in the neighborhood. 18 year old fulfilled her wish of hitting "Laduree" for macaroons. What a gorgeous shop...what incredible macaroons. We ordered: coconut, coffee, hazelnut and vanilla. They're heavenly. http://www.laduree.fr/en/maisons/monde-details Walked back down Madison Avenue and window shopped the fancy stores till we got back to the hotel. At this point I lay down on the magic bed "for just a minute". Just a minute turned into a deep, dreamy nap. The Mister and Casey walked over to Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park. Maeve stayed in the girls' room and read. We headed over to Smith and Wollensky for dinner. We eat on the "Wollensky Grill" side. The Mister and I have developed a huge fondness for this place. It was the girls first time eating there and it didn't disappoint. Filet mignon sandwiches with hand cut fries for the Mister and Maeve, the "Horseshoe" sandwich (filet, cheddar, onion, horseradish on a buttered u-shaped roll) for me, lobster tail and filet for Casey (who later said, "I think that was the most expensive meal I've ever eaten" Yes, my love, it probably was. But worth every penny.) Side of crazy-good, creamy, perfectly broiled top macaroni and cheese and dessert for all. I will spare you the details of my obsession with the Coconut Cake. I dream of it. Anyway, the dinner seemed to be the highlight of the trip for everyone...it felt relaxed and comfortable, and just a really nice family outing. Service is polished and charming, the food is exceptionally good, what more can I add? http://www.smithandwollenskynyc.com/
After dinner we walked over to Bryant Park. The holiday kiosks were gone, but the skating rink was full and the night was a little foggy, beautifully so.
The next morning we again had Ess-A-Bagel for breakfast then headed out. Time flew far too quickly. Walked through Macy's (God, those wooden escalators!!! LOVE them.) and headed to Penn Station to catch the train home. It's a weird feeling leaving Manhattan after a weekend...I'd love to have the means for a place there someday.
The only things we didn't do, which were more my wants than anyone else's, were to see a show and to visit the Matisse exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the Mister and I can head in and do that stuff another time. This trip was more about spending time with the girls.