There's no denying the magic of New York City during the holiday season.
Bryant park, awash with artisanal vendors showcasing their wares, horse drawn carriages parading around Central Park, the glitz and glamour of Broadway and then of course the Christmas tree and ball drop in Times Square.
Been there, done that, and still, love all of it by the way. But during my most recent trip to the Big Apple, I think Brooklyn may have captured my heart. And, I ain't even mad about it.
It's just like Manhattan, only lower key, a little more hipster, a little less polished. Just how I like it. And I'm still trying (unsuccessfully I might add) to get over A.) the cafe mocha at Stumptown Coffee and B.) the design marvel that are historic New York brownstones.
AND shame on you, if you go to Brooklyn and don't explore 5th Avenue.
It all started with the outrageous Manhattan hotel prices and an AirBnB --> click to check it out.
Located in the Crown Heights area less than a five minute walk from the subway, Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Public Library, the Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Park Zoo, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Brooklyn Doughnut Plant etc, etc, Althea's place is just the place to go if you want a laid back, yet characteristic New York feel surrounded by plenty to do, see and explore.
When we arrived on Friday we spent much of the afternoon exploring the Park Slope neighborhood. Love one of kind, vintage pieces at discount prices (who doesn't?), but hate the monotony of digging through piles of moth eaten sweaters and dingy t-shirts (me too!)? Have I got the place for you. It's called Beacon's Closet and if you thought online thrifting wasn't a thing, well then you're welcome. There's more than a few diamonds in the rough when it comes to thrifting in park slope and I ventured into as many as time and my budget would allow.
After we had checked into our AirBnB for the evening we took the subway into Midtown and risked the masses at the MOMA for free admission (Every Friday 4-8pm). I never realized how many fabulous artists works were displayed here, Van Gogh's Starry Night, Three Musicians by Picasso and works by Gustav Klimt.
After that we hit the streets in search of some Irish Pub food, a cocktail and some well deserved rest.
On Saturday morning we hit the pavement bright and early, no solid plans, we stumbled across wine bars and mini markets and bagel shops (because seriously what is New York without mile high cream cheese?). Then made our way to Williamsburg where we ate queso and choriso to our hearts content at Carino and then stumbled down the street to North Brooklyn Farms. A picturesque little treasure nestled in what used to be the Domino Sugar Refinery, North Brooklyn Farms is parallel to the Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty. A green space for the community, it features a skate/cross trek bike track as well as picnic benches, gardens and (added bonus) a close up of the East River.
From there we hit Swords-Smith fashion, where the sweaters are a bit pricey but the perfume is to die for and the company is pretty sweet. They were even nice enough to give us a map of Williamsburg with all the best places highlighted, it came in handy just in time for a caffeine break at Oslo coffee.
From there we found our way back to Manhattan where we ate some pho-on-the-go and wandered the usual prospects on Broadway.
Heading back to the AirBnB that night, we sunk into bed dreaming of bright lights and cowboys in tighty whities :)
Sunday was a day full of sunshine, doughnuts and pups in the park (Prospect Park that is). If you're vegan, Brooklyn Doughnut Plant is the perfect place to grab a bite. We boxed up a half dozen, sipped on a delectable mocha from Stumptown and meandered to Prospect Park. Full of sugar and a bit sun-drunk we found ourselves some prime real estate and parked it on a bench happy to observe the children playing and pups running.
And just like that the trip was over and it was time to head home. But what an amazing trip and needless to say! We will definitely be back!
I found myself in Ithaca, New York a few weekends ago on family holiday, wanting to see what all the fuss was about while simultaneously laying legitimacy to the infamous claim "it's Gorges". Located in the Central Finger Lakes Region of New York State, at the southern most tip of Cayuga Lake, Ithica is home to population 30,000. Nestled neatly between Ithaca College and Cornell University it has all the usual trappings of a laid back college town i.e. coffee shops, thrift stores and breweries, OH MY! All of which we were eager to savor and explore!
The drive took about five hours (give or take) and ended up being the perfect amount of time for an extended weekend trip! We rented a cozy AirBnB and within minutes of putting our bags on the floor, we were off gallivanting, eager to scout out the nearest craft brew spot and a decent margarita (spoiler alert, I'm a sucker for tacos and tequila anytime, anywhere so I generally try finding my favorite in each city I visit). Turns out that Viva Taqueria was within walking distance so we settled down for a quick bite and sip. With prime real estate right on the corner of N Aurora St & E State St, this little taqueria had a lot to offer. Color coded tables queued carry out or dine in service and allowed both parties the opportunity for indoor and outdoor seating. We opted for outdoor dine out service and ordered our drinks to go but enjoyed them seated right outside the carry out door, a perfect spot for people-watching (another favorite past-time) and a chance puppy/dog encounter. The sky became ominous with each passing sip and so before long, we packed up, said our goodbyes and vowed to be back before end of trip.
Heading back to the apartment under threat of rain we made it just in time to see the sky blacken and thick black drops begin to fall. Turns out a night of Netflix, adult coloring books and Capital Corner chinese was just what the doctor ordered. And in typical Rowe fashion we braved the torrential down pour to avoid delivery fees. With a getaway car and two accomplices to weather the storm, not a single rain drop found its way into our brown paper carry out bags, I think it may have even tasted a little better due to our efforts.
Monday morning weather was still uncooperative but we powered through. First stop, Robert E Treman State Park, where we hiked the Gorge trail through a veil of mist hitting the lower falls, cliff staircase and overlook, Lucifer Falls and the upper Gorge. Between the glossy stone staircase etched into the side of these incredible natural landmarks and the moss covered bridge traversing both sides of the path it was enough to conjure up visions of elves, fairies and trolls, think "Lord-of-the-Rings" -esque. All-in-all there and back didn't take us too long, and within two hours we were piled back into the car. A piece of advice, if you've ever been to a state park then you may or may not be familiar with the park office. I'll let you in on a secret, they have all the the knowledge. I'm talking maps, restaurant reviews, concert and event schedules, brew/wine tours, the whole nine. You won't be disappointed AND if you're the kind of person who often leaves trip planning to fate, it's an easy way to get a handle on your trip. IF you're super motivated you can even contact park offices in advance and request these be sent to you. I promise it will give you a local's leg up on everyone else.
Meanwhile, back to the car ride. I've always been a huge proponent of your common farm stand. Turns out Ithaca doesn't disappoint. We stopped by Early bird farms roadside stand on the way home to load up on local fruits and veggies, a few corn stalks, some blueberries and a half dozen peaches later, we were set. We headed home to cook up some grilled cheese and veggies, crack open a sour beer (I've been on a sour saga lately, try: Sour Monkey by Victory Brewing Company, SeaQuench by Dogfish Head or Old Pro Gose by Union Craft Brewing) and cook up our next dinner adventure.
We decided on Hammondsport for an evening jaunt. It's a little over an hour away from Ithaca and the perfect spot for some genuine Italian food, an outdoor grill, a cheap beer and burger or one of a kind trinket shopping. I'll warn you, the entire town is probably about the size of my pinky finger so if you're looking for more than a unique shop or two this probably isn't your cup of tea but very picturesque and right on a lake. We hit up the beer and burger spot for a whole lotta fried stuff and a local beverage, we found both with time to spare for exploring. A good way to spend the evening.
By Tuesday the sun still hadn't made an appearance so we decided to head back into town. Along the way we stopped to snap a few choice photos of a monarch butterfly that had landed nearby (good luck apparently), before wandering into Waffle Frolic for a potentially lethal dose of sugar-coated waffles in every shape, color, flavor and size imaginable, treat yo-self. My favorite part of the day happened to be completely unintentional when we stumbled upon Mockingbird Paperie. I literally wanted to get my hands on every single thing this little store had to offer from scented candles to die for, gorgeous hand crafted wrapping paper from Italy, calligraphy pens and just the most amazing cards, books, trinkets, etc imaginable. I could have spent hours there and nearly did. I barely made it out with my bank account, but tried hard to practice some self restraint, it's the kind of store where you find things you didn't know you needed and you really need them. Tuesday being the day before my very last in Ithaca I was dying to try out the new paddle boards my parents had toted all the way from home so rain or shine, we headed out to find a spot to put out the boards, and spent the remainder of the day racing each other around. We considered it a win when only one of us ended up in the water.
On the way back to our AirBnB we made a final pitstop at Taughannock State Falls enjoying the view and a Volkswagon Winnebago parked nearby (My Mom's dream travel van) before calling it a night.
Wednesday, my last day we decided to pop by The Corning Museum of Glass and boy am I glad we did. With only two hours to spare, we could have spent many more. With so much to do and see from the Tiffany Glass to the glass through the ages exhibits, room after room or amazing one of a kind creations and installations, each one more astounding than the last. There were demonstrations, mini movie series, tour guides and interactive exhibits. It's worth the stop. Not to mention the amazing gift shop, outdoor glass work shop and eatery. It's a mini campus in its own right and the absolute jewel of Corning.
All and all, I'd say Ithaca had exactly what we came for. The great outdoors, a small town feel and some good brews/eats. Whether you have a weekend free, you're just passing through or looking to check out the colleges nearby, I'd give it a 5/5.
Oh and thanks for checking us out too ;)
Another travel adventure brought to you by Elly Jane!
Rewind a few months back.
My mom and I were just hanging out on the couch, watching Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life, indulging in a little coffee and contemplation about the future, dreaming up inspiration boards and playing them off of each other. When all of a sudden it dawned on us, we should plan a weekend trip just the two of us, to a place neither of us had ever been but had always wanted to go.
We instantly started brainstorming. We love Manhattan but we've been dozens of times, we considered Austin but ultimately ticket prices were unimpressive and eventually, we decided we wanted something within driving distance where we could rent a reasonable AirBnB (I'm pro-AirBnB, can you tell?). Thus, the Manayunk trip was born.
For our room, we decided on something quaint and cozy, nestled high on a hill above Manayunk Main Street. The Magnolia Treehouse and Garden Apartment proved to be just what we needed and everything we were hoping for!
A short two and a half hour drive from our home base of Columbia, MD, Manayunk, PA is a recognized National Historic District centrally located just 15 minutes from Center City Philadelphia and The Main Line making commuting an absolute breeze. Featuring the Schuylkill River, Manayunk Canal and Tow Path as a back drop, Main Street is lined with a mixture of rustic, revamped Victorians and sprawling industrial chic buildings that highlight the old charm and modern hipster spunk of the town.
If you're on the hunt for the perfect weekend getaway, Manayunk could be just the one!
Friday night we arrived, unloaded our bags and made ourselves comfy before heading down to Main Street to pick up a six pack from Manayunk Brewing Company and hitting up BYOB Chabaa Thai for some curry and drunken noodles (I highly recommend by the way). It had been a while since we'd really caught up so we spent a couple hours there before retreating back to our basement apartment for a daily dish of Jane The Virgin, cracking open the crunch stout from our MBC six pack.
Saturday morning we woke up, showered, sipped some coffee and googled things to do. If you've never been to Philly or researched things to do there, then you simply wouldn't know the sheer volume of things to do on any given day HOWEVER, we did learn by the end of the weekend that had we come one day earlier, apparently Thursday's are poppin' in and around Philly. I'm talking outdoor movies, happy hour galore, food specials, festivals, etc, etc. Learn from our mistakes, leave on a Thursday.
We decided to head down to Pretzel Park for the farmers market which was a bit disappointing. The park itself would be a nice place to spend the day with your dog (there's a gated in dog area on the outskirts), lay down and read a book, bring the kids (also features a small playground) or pack a picnic and relax but I wouldn't go out of your way for the farmers market! From there we headed to the train station, literally a block a way and hopped on board (ticket-less, apparently in PA you buy the ticket once you board the train which we only learned after wandering around aimlessly trying to touch anything that looked remotely like a touch screen before finally asking an all-knowing group of millennials nearby.) Lesson learned, as I always say, when in doubt ask a millennial.
Taking the Train to Thomas Jefferson, we got off around 10th street and headed towards Penns Landing (Check out the link for other cool things to do at Penns Landing) for the Festival of India. Along the way we grabbed a chai and a muffin from Luna Cafe.
We munched and walked until we got to Penns Landing where we wandered around checking out vendor tents before finally grabbing some simosas and a mango lassi and taking a seat to watch a few of the performances. We spent a few hours watching the performers before deciding to head back towards the train station to get back to Manayunk in time for dinner. Just a heads up, buying tickets at a legit train station in advance is about $1.50 cheaper than buying on board the train, so if you're looking to literally save a buck or two than grab a couple before heading back on board.
We stopped into a couple shops along Market Street on our way back! Smak Parlour is right on the outskirts of Penns Landing and features one of a kind unique clothing line made in the USA "Smak" alongside other trendy and vintage pieces you'll eat right up! We loved sifting through the racks at Smak. Next up, Artist & Craftsman Supply near and dear to my artist's soul we could have spent hours here too and nearly did. We escaped with a couple supplies for crafting, a hand made wooden stamp and ink, blank thank you notes for stamping and a postage book for coloring but there were so many other neat things we passed up!
The way home was pretty quick and simple and before we knew it, we were back wandering the streets of Manayunk, in the rain which instead of dampening my spirits generally makes me feel a little more one with the earth, it's weird, I know, but I can't help it. We happened upon Manayunk's funky book store, The Spiral Bookcase and sat around leafing through craft and photography books, Scandinavian housing decor and murder mysteries, not to mention the resident cat asleep on a nearby armchair that stayed so still as we entered the book store that I wasn't even sure if he was real!
All that wandering really worked up an appetite, and wouldn't you know it, right at that very moment we stumbled upon Taqueria Feliz. Take notice, this is no coincidence folks, as noted in past posts my obsession with Mexican food is very real and unlikely to slow down anytime in the near future. It is probably only fair that at this point I disclose the sheer volume of chips and salsa I consume on a weekly if not daily basis. It's unhealthy. And my margarita to water ratio is about 70/30 with 30 being the amount of water as compared to 70 the amount of margaritas AND I would even go as far as to say that ratio is based on a monthly average. I would be surprised if tequila didn't run through my veins, I consider it a large part of who I am as a person and I make no apologies for that.
Now that we got that out of the way, back to Taqueria Feliz. Amazing. From the vibrant neon retro decor to the Mexican tin hanging lamps and the liquid appetizers, I'm only telling you for your own personal benefit that skipping out on this restaurant would be a true shame. Instead of an entree, mama and I opted for a couple apps. Can't go wrong with the guacamole and chipotle salsa, the crazy corn was like crack and we couldn't even get to the taquitos after all that. I have to be honest, I could have done without the shrimp ceviche, nothing wrong with it but it was marinating in a sauce that can only truly be described as ketchup-esque, a mexican cocktail sauce if you will, I just wasn't digging it. But the shrimp itself was good and we even ate it leftover the next day if that's any indicator.
As women often do, we spent hours there, the service was impeccable, we talked and talked and talked. Then we climbed the steepening hills back home to our treetop retreat and spent the rainy evening indoors enjoying another round of Netflix.
Sunday morning was surprisingly beautiful. Couldn't have been more than 70 degrees and sunny. We packed up our things, loaded up the car and headed for Main Street once again. The nice thing about Main Street in Manayunk is that there is always something new to discover. we were there three days and still could have done more exploring. After watching an episode of Manayunk Mornings (Episode 13) we strolled on over to Pilgrim Roaster's for a dirty chai and a croissant. Another great place to stop! There's no food yet as it's pretty new and they're still working out the kinks but the chai was awesome and the atmosphere was pretty cool too. We really enjoyed the little outdoor tables and watching other families with their kids or their dogs. The feeling of community is truly alive in this little town.
One of my absolute favorite parts of this trip was the tiny vintage clothing store we happened upon near the end of Main Street and right next to Taqueria Feliz.
Something about Millay Shop just sort of set my soul on fire. A secret (or not so secret anymore) dream of mine has always been to open a shop just like Millay one day when I decide exactly where it is I'd like to settle down. The romance of this little shop is enough to blow you away. From the twisting iron staircase to the gorgeous molding and the sleepy, tumbling arms of each carefully selected botanical in the room, the ambiance was truly refreshing. I felt like I'd been let in on a wistful Parisian secret. The best part is, they're also online so even if you can't make a Manayunk pit stop, as long as you're wifi enabled you're all set! I practiced a lot of self discipline and left Millay with only a vintage bohemian midi-skirt (30% off might I add) and a feeling of inspiration. What a fun little business.
That's pretty much a wrap! We also hit Dwelling Home furniture store because we like to do that sort of thing for fun. We wandered around, dreamed about re-furnishing and picked out a couple dream pieces. We also really liked browsing at Nadeau! If you happen to be weird like us and enjoy that type of thing OR you're actually on the hunt for a certain piece then I recommend spending some time in one of these shops if for nothing other than to get ideas.
That's Manayunk in a nutshell! We truly had a wonderful time! And stay tuned because there are a ton of cool festivals and happenings in Manayunk all the time! We'd love to go back for the Sippin by the River festival in October (unfortunately...fortunately? I'll be in San Francisco, can't wait to share that adventure with you!) but there's no shortage of upcoming events and hopefully you can make your way there too!
Camping essentials for beginners
Every vacation I ever took before the age of 11 involved the large ten person tent my parents had inherited from their parents, my father's coveted Coleman propane stovestop, and oversized cooler and a full family of five - suitcases and all packed tight into the back seat of our Honda Odyssey.
Those were some of my very best memories. Although it never failed to dim my appreciation for vacations that involved a key card, an over-chlorinated hotel pool and some down pillows.
But in those days we didn't need much! A campfire, some marshmellows and soup out of a can was truly a feast, we spent our days hiking, roaming, swimming and our nights tucked cozy behind the mosquito net dining tent, reading, listening to books on tape or talking.
As I've gotten older, time becoming an increasingly precious commodity, I've been wanting to create some memories of my own, disconnected from the busy world I live in, indulging in some of the same small pleasures I cherished as a kid.
SO, my boyfriend and I hopped on Amazon, googled camping gear and ordered our very own tent, sleeping bag and backpack for under $150.
1.) Coleman Sundome 2 Person Tent - $42.25 with Amazon Prime - Coleman has a pretty good reputation in the industry and I trusted it based on what my family had used growing up :) This particular tent had A.) great reviews, B.) was known for being more water resistant than other tents, C.) was small about two feet or less in length & probably 5" wide/high, meaning it could fit into our Honda Accord but also had just enough room for two people and D.) light, only 7 pounds meaning we could potentially carry it at the bottom of a day-pack or tote with us to a more remote location!
2.) SleepingO Queen Size XL Double Sleeping Bag For Backpacking, Camping, Or Hiking - $57.95 with Amazon Prime - Okay, so call us corny if you want to but we liked the idea of a double person sleeping bag! Of course we will be bringing extra padding, another blanket or two and our own pillows but this one came with built in pillow and is big enough to use as a blanket as well.
3.) Hiking Backpack Daypack with Waterproof Rain Cover - $36.99 with Amazon Prime - It's basic, but it's all we need! Light-weight, relatively stylish this pack offers extra pockets, straps that offer extra capacity for your gear and keep the shape of the pack, a waterproof rain cover, a main compartment with room for organization and a padded and breathable back panel that allows back and shoulder air circulation, etc etc.
Other items you may want to consider if you plan to cook at the site:
1.) Coleman Cooler - If you plan to bring things like alcoholic beverages, perishables like fruit, meat or cheeses you'll definitely want an airtight place to keep them that you can lock or keep out of the way of hungry animals!
2.) Propane Camping Stove - Something small like this or the one I linked to above is really all you need! Make sure to bring a lighter with you as well!
3.) Camping utensils - Also, not featured here but something to consider is forks, knives, spoons and cups! You can check these out on Amazon as well!
4.) Dish soap, and dish bucket - to wash your dirty utensils, etc.
5.) Paper plates and plastic bags - for eating and throwing out
That should be about all you need!
Set out on your own adventure and we'll be sure to fill you in on ours!
Also, if you have any other suggestions or feedback from your own experiences please share! We'd love to hear about them!