Just book it

One of my favorite past times is planning trips I never take. Day dreaming about the beaches of California and looking at NYC hotel deals. I’m always down for the talks of taking a vacation, always say “yeah, let’s go!” to anyone who wants to go anywhere. Juuuust about till we get down to specifics. And everyone’s asking for dates, hotel prices and plane tickets. That’s around the time I take a look at my bank account and bow out.

So last Thursday when the boyfriend texted me “let’s go to this music festival”, I said “yeah let’s book it!” With the expectation that this, much like other vacations we’ve day dreamed about, would fall through.

And then Friday night rolled around. We had just enjoyed a great dinner at Ocean Prime for our one year anniversary and were enjoying some time with two friends/another couple. All of a sudden, we were looking at hotel/ticket packages and plane tickets. Talking about how many days we should take off work, etc. And then something amazing happened, with the pain of trying to get Coachella tickets after they were sold out still fresh on our minds, we actually booked it!

So, ladies and gents, I’m going to the Osheaga Festival (still trying to figure out how that is pronounced..) in Montreal, Canada in August! I’m so far past being excited. First of all, the lineup for the festival is beyond amazing. 

So I was already pretty pumped. And were able to get a sweet hotel package that includes our festival passes, metro tickets and hotel stay for like $400 each. Beautiful. Today, however, I’m speechless. I Pinterest searched “Montreal” and can’t even handle what I’m seeing right now. Quant brick townhomes, amazing architecture, beautiful landscape and bonus, they speak French. I simply can’t handle this. I feel like an overly hyper child who was fed too much sugar.

Was visiting Montreal anywhere close to where I thought I’d visit this year? Nope, not at all. It wasn’t even on my bucket list. For me, that’s what makes the trip even more fun. A little spontaneity is good for this over-planner 🙂

Montreal2 Montreal3 Montreal4 Montreal1Montreal5

A perfect New York weekend

I’m ba-aaack!

One, I’ve returned from a week and a half vacation reuniting with my long-time love (New York City) and discovering new ones (basically all Turkish people, ever…it helps that they fed me. Very, very well.) Two, it’s time this little month-long blogging hiatus came to an end.

It’s been a crazy last month that on my end only involved 7 – 7 work days trying to make time for The Great Turkish Adventure. But it’s not all work over here – Finding Tiffany’s Lydia was busy becoming a published author (by someone other than ourselves)! It being a story about Italian food only makes it that much more exciting…just imagine all the delicious “research” this piece entailed. Congratulations, Lydia!

As for New York and Turkey, I could probably write a whole novella. For now, though, I thought I’d at least share some of the highlights. Up first, New York City:

This is what a perfect start to vacation looks like.
This is what a perfect start to vacation looks like.
Brooklyn Soda Works. Yes.
Brooklyn Soda Works. Yes.
Gnocchi at Smorgasburg.
Gnocchi at Smorgasburg.

Smorgasburg. Um, delicious. Picture walking in sunny 70 degree weather through tents of fresh food, sipping a refreshing Apple Ginger soda then picnicking along the banks of the East River admiring the skyline. Highly recommend. Plus, I always love me some hipsters, and Williamsburg is basically their home base.

Found it! What a show.
Found it! What a show.

Newsies on Broadway. Dream come true. Even though you can’t see my fangirl Google search history, the occasional Newsies reference on FT might have already given me away as a long-time proponent. I was a little worried this cast couldn’t live up to Christian Bale and co., but I was blown away by their voices, dancing skills and how completely magnetizing this Jack Kelly was even when just in the background of a scene. New goal: go back and pay for the very front row of the mezzanine. Worth it.

The beginning of one of the top five brunches of my life...so far.
The beginning of one of the top five brunches of my life…so far.
New York patio in September? Don't mind if I do.
New York patio in September? Pass the prosecco, please.
Jalapeno sliders...and The Fries.
Jalapeno sliders…and The Fries.

Brunch at Hudson Clearwater. You know when you look up directions to a restaurant and the only ones that come up are from a blog including the words, “When facing North, take fifteen paces to the left and you should find a small, unmarked green door” that this is going to be a food adventure. This place had all the trendy makings to be as pretentious as they wanted to be, but I’m happily surprised to say they were some of the most welcoming servers I’ve met. Sean didn’t even look at us that funny when we told him we were writing a haiku about their french fries because they were so good they tasted like poetry, which, let’s face it, he totally would have been entitled to.

Walking the High Line...beautiful.
Walking the High Line by the Hudson…beautiful.
View from the High Line.
View from the High Line.
Tried to get a shot of my People's Pops and got these precious ones kicking each other instead. #notmadaboutit
Tried to get a shot of my People’s Pops and got these precious ones kicking each other instead. #notmadaboutit
Stocking up on coffee for an afternoon at Central Park
Stocking up on coffee for an afternoon at Central Park
Just a small stop on the way...
Just a small stop on the way…
Central Park.
Central Park. Made it!
Taking a break...deliberating over Instagram filters can be hard work.
Taking a break…deliberating over Instagram filters can be hard work.

We also got to spend some fantastic time catching up with friends from high school and college, without whose hospitality this trip really couldn’t have happened. Let the saving begin for Round Three!

Chicago, finally

I know you’ve all been doing absolutely nothing besides wait for me to post the long-promised pictures from Chicago, so I’m happy to tell you…the wait is over.

In all seriousness, I do feel badly for leading you on for so long. I also hope you do have many better things to do, but if you’re looking to escape from a particularly stressful work day or kill time waiting in line or traffic, I’m happy to oblige with the below stream of photos. (Except the traffic part. Do what I don’t and put. down. the phone.)

My week off work for the Wisconsin wedding and Chicago visit was 100% the re-energizing, fulfilling, fun, relaxing and all those other awesome adjectives that vacations are supposed to be. One major takeaway was the revelation that Madison, WI is quite the cool city with a Portland/Austin vibe: adorable painted houses, two lakes, bike-friendly, focus on local food and businesses, lots of live music and probably more. Who knew? I would completely go back, if only to participate in the (genius) Brunch & Bike event.

As for Chicago, we didn’t make it to a Cubs game, but we did do everything else I hoped for and more including a sunset architecture boat tour through the city, Second City improv show, Hot Doug’s for a real Chicago hot dog, drinking coffee and checking out record shops and bookstores through Wicker Park / Bucktown (the “hipster” neighborhoods, can’t you tell?), a leisurely walk through Lincoln Park and the beach and rooftop swims at our downtown place.

I also found my favorite place in all of Chicago, a cafe called Fabcakes where I enjoyed the most delicious lavendar latte and vegan and gluten-free oatmeal cookies. It wasn’t until after making insta-friends with the lovely people behind the counter and going back for seconds that I saw it – the neighboring restaurant’s hugely printed name next to the cafe’s shaded outdoor patio, “Prosecco.” If that’s not a sign of perfection, I don’t know what is.

school grounds coffee WIwisconsin flowerswisconsin school grounds coffeemadison sourdough bakerymadison sourdough bakery breadWicker Park Bucktown ChicagoView from our downtown Chicago apartmentDowntown Chicago BuildingsLake Street Chicago RiverChicago River architecture boat tourChicago architecture boat tourChicago Skyline at NightSprinkles ATM Chicago - My first dessert of 2013!Chicago BeanWrigley Field and Chicago CubsFabcakes Chicago PatioProsecco Chicago RestaurantChicago Beach and BikesChicago - Lake Michigan

Family ties

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Maryland looking ravishing

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This past weekend I spent a grand total of 26 hours in Baltimore, Maryland.

We had two big events going down. My brother and his fiance’s engagement party/BBQ and my Grandma’s 90th Birthday Brunch. As my trip grew nearer and nearer, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I found myself going on and on to my poor boyfriend’s ear about why my family was so awesome. But really it takes an afternoon of QT time with my family to fully understand.

I have a huge family. With 5-6 Aunts and Uncles on both sides, each having 2-5 children, and many cousins starting their own families.. and it just keeps getting bigger. Growing up, I spent a ton of time with cousins. They are your immediate best friends. You come out of the womb and it’s like, yep I have about 4-7 BFFs lined up. Unfortunately, my family and I left Maryland when I was in 3rd grade, 16 years ago. It’s always kind of a bummer watching from afar as everyone grew up, got older, and did things with their lives. I saw second cousins that I hadn’t seen since they were babies. Now all of a sudden they were up, walking around and were these little adults. And they’re are hilarious. There are cousins who underwent growth spurts and voice changes that I can’t even begin to comprehend. Especially since I’ve remained the same age…(ha)

Whenever I am about to embark on a treck up North, there’s always a little anxiety. An anxiety stemming from seeing a large group of people you haven’t seen in so long. But without fail, this slight anxiety is immediately washed away and filled with an immense feeling of pure love. The entire 20-something hours I was there, I was in rooms full of laughter among family members with people that I would do anything for. No matter what.

I had the gift of the opportunity to reconnect with cousins, meet second cousins, and simply learn about their lives. It was really amazing. Like, my cousins are awesome. I left that weekend on a cloud. I just..I just love my extended family. When we all get together, no matter if it’s my Mom’s or Dad’s, I leave with my sides hurting from laughter. It’s simply always a good time.

In his speech at the engagement party, my brother made an amazing point. The best part about family is that when we come into town, no matter how long we’ve been gone, we have this huge base of support. We might not pronounce “tournament” correctly and overuse “ya’ll” but when we land at BWI in Baltimore, we know we’re home. No matter what.

Today I’d Rather Be….

getting-back-to-meg beachvespa travelingstanding in the ocean

If you can’t tell by all these pictures of other places I’d like to be, I’ve been feeling a little restless lately.

I realized, after months (and months) of getting settled and exploring, I feel like I can finally say I know Dallas. I know how to get where I’m going…although my apartment is still the first location to auto-populate in my Google Maps search thanks to all too frequent direction searching. I’ve explored a lot of the major neighborhoods, eaten at a different restaurants, gone out to some different bars, even managed to find multiple different coffee shops, which is quite a feat in a world now overrun by Starbucks’ on every corner. Some people might find all this comforting, but I was always the kid shoving furniture around my room every couple months to have “new” surroundings, living vicariously through often multiple book characters a week, and asking to go to a boarding school so I could have some adventures of my own.

Adjusting to life in one place and without the limitless flying privileges I used to be privy to while still a student is definitely, well…an adjustment. So to me this feeling means it’s time to a) go somewhere new and/or b) get creative.

Luckily, I actually do get to go somewhere pretty soon. Like Lydia, I’m also “planning” a trip, albeit much shorter and not quite as exciting as Europe…I will be celebrating my birthday weekend in Washington D.C. next week. The word planning is in quotation marks because (to my boyfriend’s chagrin) my idea of trip planning involves quite a lot of vague, general ideas about activities and destinations. I’m happiest when I’m just wandering around somewhere new, soaking it all in and stopping at places based on a providential mix of happenstance and locals’ recommendations. I’ve found countless great coffee, cupcakes, shops, and even some celebrities this way. All that said, I am quite excited to be somewhere I have to get on a plane to get to, and I would love any recommendations for cool, must-see (aka must eat or drink) local places.

As for the getting creative, I’m sure there’s plenty of new places in Dallas…now I’ll just have to find them.