Do This Today: Fantasy of Lights

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Well, it’s here! It’s Christmas Eve and my “do-this-today” suggestion is to put the family in the car, fill the thermos with hot cocoa and load up on cookies as you check out The Fantasy of Lights in Lighthouse Point Park.

Event:  Fantasy of Lights (event link)
Location: Lighthouse Point Park, 2 Lighthouse Rd, New Haven CT
Time: December 24, 2014, 5-9pm
Cost: $10 per car at the entrance

Merry Christmas 2013!

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Merry Christmas everyone! I just wanted to share this photo of my lovely grandma Gertrude opening her presents this morning. It had been tradition when I was growing up to head to my grandparents house for brunch. As of course circumstances have changed over the years, we still wanted to spend that time with Grandma so we went to see her at 11a this morning. She looked so regal with her red jacket and matching nail polish. It was a treat, as I’ve been home for several days but I’ve been too ill to visit her facility. She was just as sweet and upbeat as always.

A Snowy New York City

Well, I’m writing this to you twice as WordPress just lost the post I spent hours on (#wordpressFAIL).

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I arrived in Connecticut late last night after spending two full days in the blistering cold of NYC. I always try to start my holiday vacation by staying in NYC for a few days visiting with RISD friends and getting in the holiday spirit. I normally take the redeye to JFK, so this marathon visiting of NYC is also filled with exhaustion and time adjusting. This visit was no exception to that. After dropping off my 50lb suitcase at my friends office (a Graphic Design firm called OneThread– check them out as they’re awesome), I headed to Columbus Circle with my friend Diana. We hopped from the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) to Whole Foods to the mall to the outdoor market to back in the warmth of the mall.

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This view is from MAD looking out on the snowy streets. It was beautiful to look at but made being outdoors difficult. Columbus Circle was a great place to go because it has so much all within the circle, so we never had to be outdoors for too long.

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MAD also has some fun exhibits going on right now. We saw several floors of work made with 3D printers. They had a fun exhibit on costume jewelry and also one floor with a very murderous theme… lets say I ran through that with my hands over my eyes. It was a great place to spend a few hours and we enjoyed ourselves.

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That night I stayed at my friends new place in Irvington, NY. It’s a 40 minute train ride north of the city and is super adorable. Above is her train stop. The town is a hillside along the Hudson so every view is a good view. It was fun to spend time here with her and her husband. We enjoyed a game night of Pandemic too. Super fun.

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The next day we went back into the city where I visited the Museum of Math and learned that 2nd graders are smarter than me. I also spend several hours walking around the West Village. Thankfully it was a sunny (but cold) day so being outside wasn’t brutal. I always love walking around the West Village and just moseying around into cute small shops. Once the sun started to set I made my way to City Bakery where I sat listening to my John Mulaney comedy albums while sipping on some of the best hot chocolate in the city.

I met up with more RISD friends for dinner at Crispo (get the brussels sprouts!) and had fun catching up with them before heading to Grand Central to hop on my train to New Haven. And like that, I’m back in CT getting ready for Christmas. Im currently in my huge comfy white bed, blogging while looking out at a snowy landscape with horses and cute farm houses decorated for Christmas out my window, and Im sipping on a mug of warm coffee. Ahh, happy to be home.

Well I leave you with this holiday treat from Craig (Reno 911):

Ninja NYC

I haven’t talked too much about my holiday in NYC / Connecticut / Cape Cod, but more of that is coming, I promise you. While in NYC just before Christmas, I met up with friends and got to experience the restaurant Ninja.

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This restaurant is completely Ninja themed. The waiters are dressed as ninjas and the decor feels like something out of a movie. The experience begins by taking an elevator to the dining area. We were then led to our table, as all of the tables feel very secluded and private. When you order from the menu, it has symbols on it indicating which meals come with Ninja presentations.

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These presentations are in the photos above. They lit food on fire, and used weapons to serve the dishes… and much more.

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My sushi (above) came with a magical fog (dry ice) which added to the presentation.

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Above is a photo of the dessert we ordered. It looks like breakfast but it was a tasty dessert. All the dishes were fun and the night was enjoyed by the whole group. It’s a pricy meal, so save if for a special occasion and it’s fun with groups (as the more specialty meals ordered, the more ninja magic you get to see). Check it out if you get the chance in New York City.

Do This Today: A Very Ronna & Beverly Hanukkah Special

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I love Ronna & Beverly (formally the All Jew Review) and tonight they have a special Hanukkah edition. Tonights guests are Paul F. Tompkins, Angela Kinsey and Paget Brewster and tickets are only $5! Such a good deal. I’ve been to so many of their shows and I LOVE them. Read more about that here.

Event: A Very Ronna & Beverly Hanukkah Special (event link)
Location: UCB-LA, 5919 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 8:30pm
Cost: $5 (get tickets here)

Holiday Blues

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Now that you are caught up on the fun times of my Denver Thanksgiving, you can imagine the second part of that trip was not so much fun. Typically that Saturday after Thanksgiving is when I allow myself to start celebrating Christmas. I start writing Christmas cards and listening to holiday music. Since Saturday was spent in the hospital and then it was a mad dash to get back to Los Angeles once I was released on Sunday, that switch from Thanksgiving to Christmas never happened for me.

I’ve spent this weekend laying low (still fighting the allergy, although it’s getting much better) and I decided to let myself start celebrating. I woke up early today and went to World Market to buy Christmas cards. I dug out my old roommates mini tree (see above) and decorated while listening to the Holiday Pandora station and breathing in my cinnamon scented candle. It’s like Santa threw up all over my room.

In all this holiday cheer, I must say I’ve got a bit of the holiday blues. Maybe it’s being single around the holidays or perhaps it’s this allergy/cold issue that’s sucked away the past month of my life, but I’ve got the blues today. I’ve also come to the sad realization that I can’t finish all my Secret Stair walks by 2013. Having lost the last 4 weekends to this cold, I’ve fallen too far behind. It’s painful to admit this, but the only way to complete them by 2013 is to rush and that takes all the fun out of it. I don’t want the walks to be a chore, but something I look forward to enjoying. So that goal is being stretched into 2013, and since I’m back logged on those posts, you’ll get to enjoy those well into 2013.

This all has me contemplating my 2013 goals, as I’ve got one month to make next years list.  Have you started thinking about 2013?

Hubbard Park + Castle Craig

Despite the extremely cold day, me and my good friends Jess and Mike ventured out on a hike. It was fun but coooold (I’m still regaining feelings in my fingers). I didn’t really know about Castle Craig’s existence until I went to Hubbard Park on Christmas day to see their Christmas light display (which I blogged about HERE). Get ready for a ton of pics!

After doing a little online sleuthing, I found this MAP to the trail that I took. So we met in Hubbard park and followed the white path (as we only had 2 hours to spend here) on a pretty low-key hike. Only a 700 foot stretch up to the castle was steep, the rest was a pretty graceful incline. No hiking boots necessary and great for the family.

We began by watching the ducks in Mirror Lake. I love the mini-Castle Craig model in the middle of the lake (it’s a duck palace!)

A lot of the hike is woodsy like this image. It’s a fun change for me, especially since you can tell by the photos that it’s frigid out there. The white trail is also heavily marked, so no need to worry about going off on the wrong path.

CASTLE CRAIG! It’s a CASTLE?!

I loved this shot of Jess close to the edge over looking Meriden.

Views from the top. I hope to come back and do this trail again in the summer. This would be a great hike to pack a lunch and eat overlooking CT.

This is the steep hike back down to meet up with the white path. A little rocky, but nothing too tricky.

Continuing on the hike, there are some great views up to the castle.

“Halfway House”

Eventually the hike loops up with Merimere Reservoir (with Mine Island in the middle).

There’s nothing like celebrating a hike well done with a veggie pizza from Modern Apizza in New Haven with my cousin 🙂

Christmas Day 2011

Christmas day began as it traditionally does, opening gifts around 10am with me in pjs and my family fully dressed in nice clothes. I got my parents dog a santa outfit, which we forced her into.

Instead of the usual “everyone opens one gift at a time, then we all look at the gift” (aka 24hr gift giving) we tried to mix it up by having everyone open a gift at once. Thankfully this saved us a lot of time and we all still got to see what everyone was opening. One highlight from the gift giving was grandma receiving a little purse (for an ID + cell phone) and her response of “this is so when Im at the bar and pass out, they can identify the body?” hahaaa.. she’s 93 and hilarious! It gives me hope for 93 year old Bethany. Around 1p we finished opening gifts and my mom prepared a delicious brunch. After that it was nap time!

Later in the night we went to see the Hubbard Park lights, which was a great activity to do with Grandma, so we could all enjoy it from the car. They had a ton of lights, my favorite being the globe of lights.

After dinner we (minus Grandma) went into the center of town to walk. I’m from a charming Connecticut town with historically old homes all dressed for the holidays. It was a beautiful walk and thankfully the temperature was bearable.

We made it an early night, seeing as Erica and I had a train to catch to NYC the next morning.

Christmas Eve

I’m back from NYC and now in Cape Cod, where I will stay with my family until the new year. NYC was a blast and that will be explored in another post in the next day. I’m a tad backlogged, as it’s a hard balance to stay in and write as well as go out and explore. But now it’s time to get up to speed before the new year! I have told you about my “trains, planes and automobiles” adventure of getting to Connecticut, which put me in my childhood home around 2pm on Christmas Eve.

Our family Christmas Eve is very traditional, and unfortunately my late arrival meant we lost some activities (cookie baking, wrapping gifts with care, listening to Christmas songs, visiting old friends). Instead, we all rested and showered while my Mom was working hard in the kitchen to prepare the perfect meal. Around 5:30p, we gathered in the kitchen for a buffet of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, dips, and of course crab cakes and baked stuffed clams. So delicious. We also do something on Christmas Eve that is extremely special in my family, we eat by the fire in the family room. Only on this night are we allowed to eat in the family room, and I love how intimate and special it makes this meal. We sit by the Christmas tree and the fireplace (although un-lit this year due to warmer temperatures).

Our stockings were laid out around the tree. Grandma, Erica, me, Mom, Dad and the Doggie (from left to right).

I added this photo purely to show off my gorgeous grandma 🙂 Grandma Trudie (my Dad’s 93 year old Mother) spends Christmas Eve at our house so we can all wake up together and get the most out of Christmas. She is such a cutie and it’s so much fun getting to celebrate with her.

The family went off to church while I stayed home to wrap all the presents I had sent directly to the house. By the time I finished, they were home and it was time for dessert and a little egg nog. Here’s a tip, courtesy of my mother, for those of you who like egg nog but can’t handle the calories (because it’s a ton!) try buying a carton of soy eggnog which tastes the same (maybe slightly less thick), add a little nutmeg and Captain Morgan and you’ve got a great healthier nog. We put on the Sound of Music while eating our treats and before we knew it, it was time for bed. My favorite day of the year was complete, and boy was I jet lagged!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas… or Happy Sunday, if you don’t celebrate.  I made it to CT in one piece and with enough time to celebrate.

This was taken fresh off of the red-eye. NYC in the morning.

After just missing the first bus, I waited for a second bus into Manhattan.

Then into Grand Central for the packed train ride to CT. I got home around 1:30p on Christmas Eve. After a lovely night of good food (crab cakes and baked stuffed clams, yum!) I wrapped gifts and caught some of The Sound Of Music with the family before I had to bid them ‘adieu. There will be a later post about Christmas when I upload my images, but lets just say that my family is so thoughtful and generous. Also, 2012 is going to kick-ass. I got new hiking boots, a sleeping pad, camping pillow, headlamp, a sleeping bag compression bag and seven free camping passes. I’m SO pumped for the new year.. so pumped. I also think Im ready to find a male camping companion… so if you know any single outdoorsy-men, send them my way 😉

Well, tomorrow I’m off to NYC for 2 days of fun. In the summer, when I went to NYC last, I came with a full list of activities and this time I’m going with nothing. But, I’m seeing good people and I’m confident enough that we will find fun things to do. I’ll of course recap it for you when I get back. After NYC I head right out to Cape Cod for a week of amazing New England adventures! I plan to break in my new hiking boots. Cape Cod may not have mountains but it’s awesome to hike in places so controlled by the tides. It really puts you in touch with nature. I’m signing off for the next 2 days!