How did I get here and what next?

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I think there is something about the hustle and bustle of New York that just keeps you moving from point A to point B. It’s refreshing at first. I remember one of my first solo trips on the subway. I traveled from NYU’s campus in Greenwich Village to the Museum of Natural History. The subway ride didn’t leave a lasting impression, but I can still remember exiting the subway into central park. It was a cool January day, the trees were bare, and across the street I could see the beautiful neo-Romanesque building. Similarly the first time skating at Rockefeller Center underneath the huge tree or even skating in Prospect Park in Brooklyn was like something out of a movie. However, the day to day navigation through traffic with the incessant honking can leave one mentally and physically exhausted.

I’m not sure if it’s the west coast, or the decisive point in my career, or the fact that my head is currently spinning (do I need more coffee or have I had too much), or the loss of loved ones this year, but I feel like I’ve been doing a lot more self reflection over the last couple of months. It could also be that the whole turning 30 thing hit me about 6 months late…but that’s for another post.

Last week while scanning over facebook, looking for inspirational post-after the immediate upset of the election many friends posted plans for action and messages of love; I came across a post from an old friend’s sister. She was posting details about this old friend’s memorial service. I was confused. What did she mean memorial service? Scanning down her page I realized I missed the original post from a couple weeks prior announcing her death in a plane crash. I was shocked! I then spent the next couple of hours looking at this old friend’s facebook page and came across her blog and found out that she had been suffering from mental illness which led her to  a suicide attempt. Again, shock! This was a close friend from elementary and middle school. We grew apart in high school, in part due to her family moving away, but would continue to message from time to time. In college we completely lost touch. In the last few years we reconnected and caught up over email. The last time I heard from her was right before my wedding. We were going to try and connect the day of the rehearsal dinner but at the last minute she wasn’t able to come. Not sure, why we didn’t speak again after that missed meeting…minus me feeling too wrapped up in my own world.  It’s definitely a reminder that we don’t know how much time we are given on this world and to A) make the most of it; and B) don’t forget to call or just reach out to a friend and remind them that they are loved for being their incredible selves.

I need to run and get in a quick workout before heading into work for the afternoon. I’ll leave you with my workout schedule from this week, my one constant as it definitely helps with my mental health. This week many workouts were short due to time commitments but I still made sure to sweat 5 out of 7 days.

Sunday-25 min Hiit

Monday-20 min Hiit, 20 min zumba

Tuesday-Off

Wednesday-20 min pilates, 35 minute whole body strength

Thursday-Urban row class (mixture of row machine and weights)

Friday-walked, nothing intentional but skipped a bus and walked to the max (rail system here in Portland)

Saturday-45 min Hiit and strent

 

Portland, Oregon

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Why hello, you’re still checking in on this page? Well, I’m glad you are because I do still think about this blog. I stopped by today because my mind is spinning and this blog has always been a good space for me to get out random thoughts…although in the last couple of years it has been more of a photo dump. Today my thoughts are not clear and I’m not sure I have a singular message to share. Actually I have lots of news to share, but I don’t know where to begin. I think first and foremost I showed up today because I wanted to write.

How are you? It’s been quite the week no? Wow!, actually I can’t believe it was a week ago that this country selected an internet troll to be our 45th president. Sigh. Well I have taken the advice of John Oliver and subscribed to a reputable newspaper (New York Times)- time I go beyond my allotted 10 articles/month and support honest journalism. Second, I have applied to be a public official. Nothing big, a member of a council board which is an appointed not elected position, but it is a start. Once the paperwork goes through (bureaucracy ;)) I can say that I am playing a larger role in our government.

Now the big news. I moved to Portland, Oregon! Yes, the city that is going all crazy with protest. Let me tell ya, it’s not that bad. A neighbor spoke directly with her Portland police friends and they are well aware of the anarchist group that is responsible for the riots. 99% of protesters are peaceful and want to keep this country moving towards an all inclusive, equitable land.

The west coast has been amazing. One hour to the west I’m at the coast and 2 hours to the east I’m at Mt Hood or Mt St Helen. I’ve seen 2 bald eagles, one flying above downtown Portland the other sitting on a stump by a lake (I think?) near Mt St Helen. The latter was like something out of a National Geographic magazine. I just needed to see a bear grabbing salmon out of the water. Last night, while on a drive, we saw coyotes!  Ryan was like, are those baby wolves. Lol, no, but coyotes are just as interesting!

We’ve gone on a few hikes and explored volcanic tubes. I need to work on my leg strength so we can tackle Mt St Helen.

Be back soon.

Hugs,

Nicole

Music in my ear-2016 Firefly

Hey readers,

Ryan sent me St. Martin pictures so that post will be coming sooner than later!

For now I’m sharing the artist I’m excited to see at this year’s Firefly Festival.

Cleopold

Vince Staples

Fetty Wap. I’m so annoyed that he’s performing at the same time as the Neighborhood, but I’ll be at the Fetty stage. Truth be told I’m less likely to go and see Fetty in a solo concert setting.

Jack Garratt

Elliot Root

Saint Motel

The Wombats

Night Riots

Boy and Bear

Later,

Nicole

Weekly workouts

I’m back from Sint Maarten and still blogging! Will update on the trip and my 30th birthday once I get a few more pictures from Ryan. In the meanwhile continuing with accountability and posting workout plans.

Sunday-sweaty hike in the sun

Monday-snorkeling/swimming and shoulder/back once back to the hotel

Tuesday-30 min cardio and total body circuit workout

Wednesday-20 min yoga and long walk

Thursday-total body circuit and cardio

Friday-yoga and cardio

Saturday-leg and cardio

Later,

Nicole

A different kind of Lancaster

Continuing to play catch up!

Back in March, during my sister’s spring break I headed down to Pa to spend the day with my mom and sister. My mom decided on a day trip to Lancaster County, and instead of purely going to Amish Country to take a horse and buggy tour we ventured off the beaten path.

First stop, Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first hard pretzel baking company in the world. Indeed Julius Sturgis invented the concept of a hard pretzel after leaving soft pretzels in the oven overnight.

Growing up in the Philadelphia area pretzels were my go to snack. After moving to New York and studying abroad in London, I was amazed that others did not share my love of pretzels. After our visit to the factory it become a bit clearer why Pennsylvanians love their pretzels, it’s the pretzel state capital!

I learned lots of little facts about pretzels and pretzel making during our tour. For one, the original concept of a pretzel (soft) came from Italian monks who used them as treats for children when they learned their prayers. The Italian word for pretzel-Pretziola.

Our tour guide describing how to make a pretzel and how the shape originated:

A few other pretzel fun facts:

-“tying the knot” =getting married, came from twisting of the pretzel

-the 3 holes in the pretzel=the 3 trinites

-original pretzel makers at sturgis made 10 cents per hour, in the 1860s that was the second highest paying gig in the area

After pretzel making and tour we visited an alpaca farm per my sister’s request.

The veterinarian was in the middle of giving vaccinations when we pulled up but they told us to hang around for a little so we could see a few potentially pregnant alpacas get ultrasounds. How cool is that! Another fun fact learned, pregnant alpacas will spit, kick, or run away when re-introduced to the stud male. The ultrasound just provides clear evidence.

We then used yelp to find a local place to eat and then made it in time for the last ice cream making session at the Turkey Hill Experience.

Apart from making our own ice  cream flavors there are so many chances to eat ALL THE ICE CREAM and sample Turkey beverages during the tour.

For the ice cream making session we started with a base of vanilla then added base flavoring and various add-ins. We ate a serving or two and then attempted to save the rest with ice. Of course it all melted by the time we made the two hour drive home, but it was still cold so we put it in the freezer and it was fine the next day. That said, if you ever go bring some dry ice or be prepared to eat >1 pint of ice cream ;).

Last fun fact, as of 2015 Butter Pecan took over as the number one ice cream sold nation wide. Vanilla had previously held the spot forever!

Catch you on the other side of 30…that is my 30th birthday!

Nicole

A weekend in Portland, Maine

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3rd post this week, wahoo!

Last weekend Ryan and I drove up to Portland, Maine to celebrate his parents’ birthdays-April 1 and May 1.

After ~5 hours in the car we arrived, checked into our hotel and walked over to Portland Flea-for-All. I was rather disappointed with the market based on reviews. I was expecting it to be larger and many of the items seemed overpriced. There were a few good furniture pieces but nothing to write home about.

We headed back to the car and drove over to Allagash for our 4pm tour and beer tasting. Allagash’s brewery is located near a few others so a quite a few people had been making their rounds. Over the weekend we only checked out 2 breweries but Maine currently has >50.

Not pictured here, but my favorite room housed old Jim Beam barrels used to make their Curieux beer. As our tour guide stated, they need to replicate the smell of that room in the form of a candle.

At the end of the tour we had the opportunity to taste 4 different beers including the Curieux.

After the tour we headed to a seafood heavy dinner at Eventide Oyster Co. Unfortunately no pictures. We ended up sitting outside in order to be seated in an hour instead of two, but despite jackets and a heat lamp it was still quite chilly. As a result I was only thinking about eating quickly so we could return to warmth. After dinner we headed over to …for a little jazz before calling it a night Blue.

The next morning we grabbed brunch from Sprouts. I ordered an egg scramble with nitrate free bacon-it was the best bacon I’ve ever had, and home fries-also the best. The home fries were crispy on the outside with a soft inside and flavored perfectly. Also with my meal I had a glass of their homemade ginger kombrewcha and grabbed this chocolate peanut butter vegan cupcake for later. I’m ready to drive back to Maine for both!

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving and walking around to see the many lighthouses of Portland. I believe there are 17 that are in the vicinity of Portland,  we hit about 7 of the 17. Unfortunately, we came to Maine a week before the tourist season began  so we were unable to go inside any. Similarly all the historical houses were closed. Thankfully 4 of the lighthouses we could visit are on park land and thus the grounds were open.

On the hunt for a nice slab of slate.

This mansion was built in the 1800s, shame it wasn’t better preserved.

Since we had a late lunch we opted to keep it light with some cheese, hummus, crackers, and fruit. Eaten in the car because it was too cold for us outside. That said, for New Englanders it was clearly summer because many were already in shorts and flip-flops despite only being 48*!

After our snack and another short walk, Ryan surprised his parents with a paint night. I had so much fun when I took my mom to a similar night for her birthday, Ryan wanted to share in the enjoyment.

Then we headed to Central Provisions for dinner. Again no pictures because I’m out of practice of taking pictures of my food :(.

But I did take pictures of the street which was so cute. And the food, by the way, was also amazing. Everything was delicious!!

For our final morning, we went to a mead tasting before heading to lunch. I wasn’t so interested, I’ve had mixed experience with mead (a fermented honey) in the past. In the end, so glad we stopped by, it was delicious! Better yet, unlike a bottle of wine, once open, a bottle of mead can last a long time so we can leisurely sip.

Before dropping the parents off at the airport we headed back to lighthouse #1 where we spotted the Lobster Shack.

We ordered a medium shrimp basket and a crab roll, which came with fries and coleslaw. Everything was delicious minus the coleslaw which was oddly sweet. Mom also ordered a huge slice of strawberry rhubarb pie which we shared, well I took a few bites. The first was yummy but then it became way too sweet.

After saying our goodbyes, Ryan and I started making the way back to New York. After about an hour drive we got out to stretch our legs and walk around the town of Newbury, Ma. The old port city was on just about every list of places to visit in New England. While quiet, again it’s definitely the off season, the town was cute and I loved seeing all of the well preserved old buildings.

Including the Customs House. Just wish it was open :(.

After another 4 hours we stopped for dinner before heading to Bear Mountain for our lodging. We were in very suburban New York but found an Italian restaurant based on Yelp reviews. The food was delicious and the portion sizes were huge, Ryan and I ended up eating them the next night with a few more veggies thrown in for good measure.

Our original plan was to drive back to New York on Monday so we could hike on Tuesday and return the car with plenty of time to spare. Instead, it rained.  We had just enough time in the morning to make it to the main lodge for breakfast and pack up the car before the downpour.

Our lodge:

Walk to the main inn:

We were sad to see that the trash was not better maintained. I mean it’s a park, called Bear Mountain. Thankfully, we only saw vultures picking through the garbage and not bears.

On to the next adventure!

Workouts for the week

Hey all-

Big birthday milestone coming up, I’m gonna be 30 on May 9th!  To celebrate Ryan and I are taking a long weekend thanks to  a great deal we found for Sint Maarten.  I’m so excited to get some sun and layout by the pool/beach. Minus the fact that Ryan just told me it might be raining the entire time…let’s hope that changes by Friday.

In an effort to look my best as a 30 year old in a bikini 😉 and as a means to stay accountable here are my workouts for the week.

Sunday 5/1-45 min constant pace cardio and 30 min yoga

Monday-walk and arms

Tuesday-interval training and legs 

Wednesday-spin and barre

Thursday-45 min constant pace cardio and yoga sculpt

Friday-travel

Saturday-TBD

Sunday 5/8

Monday 5/9 birthday!

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Fingers crossed for no rain!

Concerts 2016

Hey readers,

Google is really trying to make it hard for me to share with you! First it changed formatting so I couldn’t directly upload photo links on chrome. Now I had to download another app to “easily” transfer photos from my photo to my google photos, to the blog. Le sigh!!

Anyhow, coming over here to share some new music that I’m loving via recent and upcoming concerts.

Andra Day at Webster Hall:

I was actually introduced to this musician via this year’s Grammy performance. I immediately looked to see if she was performing in New York and was surprised to see tickets available at Webster Hall. How!? She should be selling out much larger venues. Not that I’m complaining. I loved seeing her in a more intimate setting, and she did not disappoint…well minus not taking the stage until 10pm (I believe doors were officially at 7).

In addition to covering her catalogue of music, she also performed a number of covers.   I’ve never seen an artist give such a personal spin on popular songs. For example, she did an entire medley of Michael Jackson classics, but it was like Michael Jackson on jazz.

Next up was the Santigold performance at Hammerstein Ballroom. This was my first time visiting the venue for a concert-I had previously visited when trying out a church. Not a fan of Hammerstein, the sound wasn’t the best, and the security was THE WORST. I mean no gum? people had to throw out gum, so silly.

Santigold, on the other hand was just as amazing as the first time I saw her the summer of 2007.

The concert was one huge dance party fueled by her amazing dancers.

Next concert will be by the band Hippocampus, which I discovered thanks to Spotify’s weekly personalized Discover playlist. Probably my favorite feature of Spotify at this point, otherwise I think Tidal has my music streaming $$.

And last but not least RIP to Price. I was in utter shock when my mom notified me by text. He was one of the first musicians I remember listening to as a kid. From my dad watching the Purple Rain movie to dancing the night way with my mom to “1999.” I’m still hoping it’s not true.

Laterz,

Nicole

Hawaii

Ahh, it’s hard to imagine how I used to find the time to blog everyday! Although I spend so much more time these days commuting to and from work. Not to waste time, let’s jump right into the final honeymoon post-3 nights in Hawaii.

Funny thing, when we first planned on a quick stop in Hawaii on our way back to the states, we thought it was a 2 night stay. A way to break up the trip home (2-9 hour flights instead of one 18 hour). However, as I booked our New Zealand accommodations I realized we left New Zealand Tuesday morning but arrived in Hawaii Monday evening, which meant another hotel night in Hawaii.

This was my first time in Hawaii-we stayed at the Westin on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. It was beautiful but full of tourist and extremely humid. Made me appreciate the quiet pool and beaches of Bali. I wanna go back!

Hike to the rim of the extinct volcano at Diamond Head.

Once back to the hotel we showered, it was so humid, and changed for a free hula show at Waikiki‘s Kuhio Beach Park (free show every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings around 6/6:30).

On our last full day in Oahu we attempted to avoid some of the crowds at Waikiki beach and drove to Waimanalo Beach. Unfortunately the first spot had too many jellyfish and a warning to stay out of the water. Although we ended up on the beach a little further down the waves were too rough for my liking.

While the immediate eats along Waikiki beach are pretty commericial, a little driving gives lots of yummy options.

Koko Head Cafe-for brunch, I had the Breakfast Bibimbap.

‘Ai Love Nalo vegan restaurant with some of the best smoothie options near Waimanalo Beach.

Our final dinner was celebrated like one of the first in Bali-a little fancier, at MW Restaurant.

Special dessert to congratulate us as newlyweds. They also gave us some yummy banana bread (brown bag on the right) to take home. It made for the perfect breakfast the next morning.

Highway Inn-traditional hawaiian food featured on diner, drive-ins, and dives. Our last meal before heading to the plane.

I had the grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich on a taro root bun.

Ryan had a hawaiian combo plate.

See ya soon!

New Zealand-the highlights

Hey all-

This is the second part of the New Zealand post, aka go back and read the other first if you have not yet done so :).

As mentioned in the previous post after landing in Auckland and grabbing food we returned to our hotel to prep for the next 24+ hours with limited food options. And we got creative, hard boiled eggs in a teapot (the kind that plugs in).

Then it was up with the sun and on the road for our first destination…

Rotorua.

After walking around to stretch our legs and eat some breakfast it was back on the road. Driving in New Zealand was the best, little to no cars on the road once we got out of Auckland and animals running freely.

After about 2 hours of driving on a dirt road winding through mountains we arrived to Lake Waikaremoana.  We quickly checked into our tourist cabin-for a few extra dollars you are given a fully equipped kitchen, towels, and linens-and then went for a hike before the sun set. I knew we were given linens but wasn’t aware of the fully stocked kitchen, otherwise we would have brought more substantial food items. Instead we had hardboiled eggs, pb and jelly sandwiches, etc. C’est la vie…

The next morning we slept in a little and then got back on the road for the next 3 hour stretch of driving to wine country-Hastings.

From mountain to coast.

We stayed in an area about 20-30 minutes outside of Hastings- Napier: an area known for it’s art deco inspired architecture.  In 1931 an earthquake and the following fires destroyed the town, which was later rebuilt in Art Deco and Spanish Mission styles.

Hotel-Art Deco Masonic:

Direct access to the patio.

First black beach experience!

After 2 nights and 3 days relaxing in Hastings/Hawkes Bay/Napier area we were back on the road for a night in Lake Taupo.

Day hike:

The view from our room thanks to B and B:

Another day, another location:Whitianga for a scallop festival. This would have been a great area for watersports and we did see quite a few people kayaking but it was too cold for us.

So we ate and sampled a few more wines instead.

We missed the memo but apparently the cool thing to do was group themed costumes.

Shells everywhere.

So plentiful that everyone can fish, but with limit to preserve the populations of shellfish. Probably the thing I loved most about New Zealand, respect for the environment and future generations.

Wild turkeys.

View from the back of our accommodations.

Evening walk.

Morning walk. Waters so blue.

Luck ran out and we finally had a day of rain. We had planned to stop in Hamilton region on the way back to Auckland, but with rain that seemed less ideal so we headed to the northern region of Auckland to checkout a few other wineries.

Brick Bay Sculpture: sculpture garden, winery, restaurant.

Around sunset we headed back to the downtown region of Auckland where we would stay for our final days in New Zealand.

Hawaii, final post to come.