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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Almost a White Christmas

We experienced our first official Christmas as New Yorkers. We were one day shy of having a white Christmas. Now we have enough snow to last us for the remainder of the long winter ahead. My Hero and I joked that we moved to the north to finally have a white Christmas and that's precisely what ended up happening in the south.

Before the snow hit and Santa pulled up in his sleigh, both of us had an unconventional Christmas Eve Day...we worked. Bah Humbug! Well, not actually. My Hero had a long day of work, but he was able to help both Sarah Jessica Parker and Holly Hunter find the perfect gift for their stockings hung by their chimney with care. How amazing! He managed to make it threw each meet-up and keep his jaw off the floor. Hee! Hee!

I, on the other hand, worked by choice and volunteered my day to work as an "Ambassador" (a.k.a Greeter) at the Tiffany & Co. on 5th Avenue. The store always needs extra help this time of the year and I thought it would give me a greater appreciation for the products I promote in the catalogues I help produce. I showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed that morning and had a wonderful day of assisting some customers find the perfect piece or just gave others my best Vanna White smile as they ooh'd and ahh'd over the gorgeous settings. All in all, it was a great day.

We both made it home and decided to start our own tradition of building a gingerbread house.
It all started off fine and dandy until Rocky stole the roof and devoured it like a ravenous beast.
(He eyed the piece...look at the intensity and focus...)
(In one swoop, the roof was gone)
We finally made it to the end result...Rocky was a great Supervisor.

We took Rocky to Central Park Christmas Day.
The little guy had such a great day that he literally passed out when we got home.
We ended the evening with a fabulous Christmas dinner that we enjoyed cooking together. Here's the menu:
  • Appetizer - Shrimp Cocktail
  • Main Dish - Roast Beef with Carrots and Stewed Tomatoes
  • Sides - Crescent Rolls and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Dessert - Apple Cobbler and Coffee
The next day, we ventured out into the first blizzard of the winter. We are still digging out, but the good news is that we got our new snow boots just in time and were able to break them in. We got nearly two feet of snow.
(This is our courtyard just as the snow was beginning to can't even see the plastic chairs now.)
(The Atlas statue on 5th Ave. stood tall as the snow came down)
(We finally made it to Rockefeller Center to take a picture in front of the tree...instead it looks like we are sprouting a lit bush from our heads. HAHAHA! Oh well, we'll try again next year.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Tree, Toys and a Sweet Tot

We've been trying to soak in every moment of living in NYC during the Christmas Season this year. We've been spending as much time with each other as possible, being super-happy and learning to fall in love with our new city.

This week, we thought it would be a good idea to see the window displays on Madison Avenue at Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany and Saks 5th Ave. Well, that didn't really work out too well. The crowds on the sidewalks resembled that of a mass of cattle being herded to another pasture.
We managed to sift through the crowds and make our way to Rockefeller Center to see the greatly misplaced, but stunning tree.
It took nearly 35 minutes to walk roughly 80 yards because the crowd was so thick, but the close-up view was well worth the wait.
My Hero took an amazing shot of Rockefeller Center as we got closer.
We then made our way to Madison Avenue to check out F.A.O Schwartz. My office building is literally across the street from this magical land, yet I had never been in the store until this past week. I was blown away by the eye-candy that knocked me over with every turn. The floor-to-ceiling displays were stunning.

This candy covered soldier stood nearly 15 feet high!
The life-size snowflakes dangled from the ceiling was covered with blue lights.
The plush display of Noah's Ark would make any child want to
cuddle-up and learn their Bible stories.
My Hero even displayed his "love"...
...and "hate" for the New York baseball teams on these cute stuffed bears.
I managed to find the complete section of Princess Belle dolls and dresses. Too precious.
I didn't lay a finger on the $25,000 Barbie Foosball Table. Apparently, there were only 10 made in the world which caused the price to be out of reach for the everyday man...or woman...ummmm...right.
We finally made our way to The Big Piano & I caught this sweet picture of a dad with his daughter tapping out of tune.

After the grand finally displayed above and the skyrocketing temperatures inside the store, we managed to escape with just ourselves into the "fresh" New York City air and made our way home.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Our big night finally came this week! We saw The Rockettes!!! It was even more spectacular than I remembered. I think that My Hero really enjoyed it as well. We had perfect seats where we could see the line formations and fabulously famous high-kicks.

There was so much packed into the show. We reflected on it afterwards as we plopped into a cozy pizza joint and scarfed down a delicious, plain cheese pie. Here's our list of highlights from the show:
  • Ice Skaters
  • Handbells
  • Little People
  • An Abbreviated Version of The Nutcracker
  • The Story of Jesus' Birth
  • Live Animals
  • 3D - Yes, 3D glasses were provided
  • Sightseeing NYC Bus
  • Men Dancers
  • 100s of Santas
(Inside of Radio City - decorated by Martha Stewart this year)
(Here we are!)
(Here's the stage before the curtains rise)
(The finale - we weren't supposed to take picts, but everyone else was doing it)
(The End)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Week in a Box

I heard that life for a woman gets better with age and experience...I must say that I have had my doubts, but I wouldn't trade a single moment of life's trials and blessings that have carried me to where I am today. The big 3-0 has been an amazing year despite the heartache of leaving behind true friendships and being away from My Hero for 4 months while we transitioned our life from North Carolina to Manhattan. I had the courage to quit a job I was no longer passionate about...well, I can honestly say now that it sucked the life out of me. My saving grace was the wonderful and exceptionally talented people I worked with on a daily basis and the true friendships I was so lucky to have at my job. The support of these friends and My Hero continually encouraged me to pursue a job that would ignite this passion within me again.

I have taken the time this year to truly reflect on my career change and to just be thankful for it. I also realized where this drive for change was initially derived. The untimely death of a very close co-worker a few, short years ago got the ball rolling. I didn't allow myself to stop and reflect on the ramifications of Jennifer's passing...I should have...but I just kept on working...working...working. I didn't know what else to do at the time. I should've stopped and reflected. The word "passion" kept creeping into my mind. The word "passion" was talked about nearly every day in my previous place of employment. Jennifer was so passionate about her job. She lived for the next campaign, the next creative brief, the next team meeting. She had passion. Mine was growing dim. It was even pointed out to me by co-workers that my sparkle was fading! NOT THE SPARKLE! How embarrassing.

I have found passion again. I prayed for a new direction, found a new job in a new city, I am gaining new friends, building new relationships and beginning a new life with My Hero. We are passionate about this change and can't wait to see what comes next. I strongly encourage everyone to find their passion and not be afraid to discover new things. Life's too short.

Today brought wonderful discoveries. I saw this gorgeous hunk-a-hunk-burnin' love on my way to work this morning.
Christian Bale, I know you saw me. The paparazzi were crowding you. You couldn't escape them to come say hello to me. That's OK. Maybe next time.

When I arrived at work, I walked in the door the same time as our Chairman and CEO, Mike Kowalski.
This is a similar expression I got from him this morning. He was like, "Who are you?" Soooo, I introduced myself. He was kinda cornered in the elevator and had no choice but to interact with me. HA! I will be moving on up before you know it because of this interaction. Bring on the corner office!

To round out the day, I decided to volunteer my time in the Tiffany & Co...on Christmas Eve. Employees are strongly encouraged to volunteer in the store every year and I thought this would be a great opportunity to see how the store really functions. My Hero is working Christmas Eve and I didn't want to be by myself so this is gonna be a great plan...I think. I have ZERO retail experience. We'll see how it goes. I have a ton of life-saving experience from years of life guarding so I could at least resuscitate anyone who might pass out from all the gorgeous baubles.

To round out the week, I was accepted into the New York Junior League. After attending an orientation earlier this year, I was thrilled with the possibility of being a part of such a prestigious organization that is truly making a difference in this city. I am sure I will have more to report on as I begin my provisional training in late January/early February.

Phew! What a week! Happy hunting for your passion.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smells Like Teen Spirit...or Frasier Fur

My step-mother introduced me to WoodWick candles this past weekend and I am in L-O-V-E! I love the warm glow of any candle, but I find them especially soothing at night with no other lights on. They enhance the glow of the good 'ol boob-tube and I am nearly in heaven.

Since the Christmas Season is upon us and My Hero and I haven't purchased our miniature tree to adorn our humble abode as of yet, we love to burn woodsy sented candles to mimic the live trees of yore. The WoodWick candle not only provides this fragrant function, but the special wick adds a crackling sound to the mix so you feel as if you are near a fire. The sound isn't as intense as I would like for it to be, but it is still very soothing.

I selected a candle from the trilogy collection. Instead of just one sent in the jar, there are three! I selected the Alpine Woods jar which is a combination of Frasier Fir, Mistletoe Magic, and Woodland. It smells fabulous! It's like Christmas in a jar.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanks, Giving & Blessings

I've recently been over the rivah (river) and through the woods to visit family. What a fabulous mini-vacay it was. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that time continues to move in my realm, but think that it stands still everywhere else. This is sooo not true. My nieces are growing like weeds and really coming into their own. Their personalities continue to amaze me. Eva is so sweet, considerate, thoughtful and a busy-bee. On the flip side, Madeline is determined, detail oriented and definitive. We are all so interested to see what personality the newest Darden addition, Cora, will have. I am sure they will bring all their powers together for good and to torment their parents when they are teenagers!
(Madeline, Cora and Eva)
The rest of the weekend was spent celebrating my grandfather's birthday, visiting with my grandmother, having a quality (and delicious) lunch with Daddy and Jane (many, many, many thanks for driving into Chester to see me), re-learning how to drive a manual vehicle (Thanks Johnathan and Danielle...please let me know if I owe you a new transmission! Dad, I'm pretty certain the Miada is OK), eating my mom's amazing homemade food and searching for new snow boots. My Hero and I are so blessed to have so much family that love us. We are so grateful for everyone's support as well.

We truly miss our family, but My Hero and I are making it work. We spent our first Thanksgiving as just the two of us which was a tremendous change from being with a lot of family surrounded by even more food. Actually, it wasn't that different. We were still surrounded by tons of people while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, we had a delicious Thanksgiving Day pizza for lunch and ate dinner at a French restaurant for dinner. We wouldn't trade our experiences for the world. As much as we miss our family and friends, we are confident in that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Happy post-Thanksgiving and early Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I know...

It's funny to see the things around you if you just open your eyes. I thoroughly enjoy watching people and often get caught doing so...WHOOPS! Oh well. Here's what I learned this weekend by watching others:

1) Playing video games is inherently innate in boys - I watched a boy that was only 4 years old, at the most, play Super Mario Cart on his Nintendo DS with great ease. He didn't need any help turning it on or getting it started! The only flaw was that the game wouldn't get started right away so he took out the cartridge and blew on it! HAHAHAHA! Does anyone else remember doing this with their regular Nintendo games as a kid? I do! Blowing on them was the magic trick to making them work properly again. Who came up with this genius idea?

2) There are extremely talented musicians and vocalists that perform in the subways in NYC - I witnessed an 8 to 9 year old boy playing a keyboard in the Union Square station with such proficiency that he's surely destined to be a star someday. I couldn't help but to wonder where his parents were though. I didn't see anyone who looked like they were his parental figures.

3) Maintaining southern charm and manners in this city is a MUST - I noticed an elderly woman who was impeccably dressed searching for something on the sidewalk this evening. I will admit that I passed her by at first, but I felt a tug on my soul so I turned around. I found out that the woman had lost her hearing aids. My heart sank for her. She said they must have fallen out of her purse and onto the sidewalk. She was able to find one, but not the other. I will say a prayer for her tonight that the other one appears.

4) The leaves remain on the trees much longer in the city - I haven't noticed any leaves on the ground until this past week. The sidewalks are fairly clean at all times for the most part, but the leaves suddenly appeared on them one morning. Rocky is thrilled since he has something to do his business in. He makes a bee-line for a small pile of leaves like no one's business. I haven't seen this much enthusiasm out of the dog in days.

5) It's nearly THANKSGIVING!!! This is the start of the holiday season for My Hero and I. We usually wait until Thanksgiving Day to watch our favorite holiday movie, but we only made it to the first of November this year to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. My favorite quote from the movie is the scene where Clark Griswold (the dad) failed to get the light display to work on his house. One of the grandmothers says, "Talk about pissing your money away!" Audrey (the daughter of Clark) says, "He worked really hard, Grandma." The grandfather pipes up and says, "So do washing machines!" END SCENE. HAHAHAHA! Oh, Chevy Chase, I heart you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday...that's my fun day!

As promised, here are a few of the other pictures from our afternoon together a couple weekends ago. My Hero looked so dashing that I just had to capture the moments. We are trying to get outside as much as possible before the weather gets too cold and bitter to enjoy it.
(We found a shoe store with my name on the window)
(We attended a Dooney & Bourke event put on by Lucky magazine.
Sadly, we walked out empty handed)
(My Hero loves Times Square)

Sunday, November 7, 2010


My Hero and I had so much fun this weekend. It was the first weekend since July that we've been able to spend all Saturday and all Sunday together. We did so many random things. Here's a taste of just one of them.

We decided to take advantage of the extra hour that we gained this weekend by living that hour twice...the first hour was in Times Square and the second was curled up on our couch watching bad movies on TBS.

Times Square never goes dark so we headed out there around 1:00 AM Sunday morning to walk around, get some hot chocolate and just enjoy being together. I've mentioned it before, but we also like to act like tourists even though we live in the city. This was a great opportunity to take pictures just like all the other people in Times Square! Here's a small taste of what was an impromptu idea so it's not perfectly executed, but we had fun doing it!

Here's the original shot...

Here's our attempt at recreating the moment...

Here's one more fun shot just for good measure. I love My Hero.

Friday, November 5, 2010

In a New York Minute

Happy Friday, All!!! Here's a great thought to get you through your day that's appropriate for any location in the world, but I found it especially appropriate for New York City since there are SO many people here that NEVER seem to be walking at my pace. I am either getting run over or slowed to a snail's pace at the most inopportune time.

"Have you ever noticed...any one going slower than you is an idiot? And anyone going faster than you is a maniac."
-George Carlin

Saturday, October 30, 2010


It's nearly Halloween and I am not a huge fan of this holiday although I do enjoy the cute side of it...i.e. children dressed up in precious costumes and trick-or-treating. I do not enjoy the haunted side of the holiday at all. Scary movies and haunted houses/farms/hotels do NOTHING for me. Thank goodness My Hero feels the same way. Ghostbusters is about the scariest thing we can stomach.

In light of Halloween, I started thinking about costumes and how they've changed, or haven't really changed that much, over the years. I mean, you see princess costumes, pirates, ghosts and goblins every year. Now, Lady Gaga is thrown into the mix, but isn't she really just a concoction of all the aforementioned Halloween characters? Long story short, this got me thinking about how fashion trends have come and gone and come back again. Maybe they are a little more bedazzled than the year before, but the concept is still the same. With that having been stated, have you noticed that Varsity Jackets are back in style???? WHHHHAT?!??! Seriously. I couldn't believe it.
My Hero has encouraged me to leave behind my high school letterman jacket with each move, but I just couldn't do it. A lot of hard work and hours went into creating my masterpiece and there are a few pins that never made it onto my trendy outerwear. Sadly, my research of this trend shows that this is now a more fitted garment. When I purchased my jacket, styles were big and baggy. I also believe that the only size jacket available to everyone was large, extra large and King Kong. In hindsight I think that my alma mater purchased these size options for the football team not really thinking that anyone on the varsity field hockey team or varsity track team who was female would want this article of clothing. Clearly, none of the female student body was consulted about this merchandising effort.

Anyway, I reminisced quite a bit this afternoon as I pulled out my jacket. In short, it consists of a varsity letter for both field hockey and track, 3 district champion patches and 1 regional champion patch for field hockey, 5 varsity bars, 2 running pins, 2 hockey pins and 1 orchestra pin (Yep, I was an orchestra geek...Concert Mistress. What. Can you play an instrument? Didn't think so.) I know you aren't supposed to live in the past, but this was just the boost I needed to get me out of the slump I've been in lately. I accomplished a lot in life just during high school. I used to run circles around myself. Don't get me wrong...I don't want to be that busy again, but I have given myself strong encouragement for future endeavors with this trip down memory lane. What did you do in your past that made you proud of who you've become today and given you the encouragement to go the distance?