Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Happenings

Ever since I was little, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. (This could be because it's always the same time as my birthday though lol.) This was my first Thanksgiving away from home and I couldn't have been more thankful my brother James came to visit me. 

Since I had most of the week off, we were able to spend lots of time together. I was so excited to not only show him around the city, but my neighborhood as well. I wanted him to see what it was like for me living here. We went grocery shopping, ate at my favorite pizzeria, walked down Fifth Avenue, saw the Plaza and the Apple store, took the subway, walked around Chelsea Market, went to the Upper West side to see all of the balloons that were going to be in the parade and went to one of my favorite bars, The Stumble Inn. And that was all in his first day here. 

My friend Jill moved to D.C. about a week ago and came up Wednesday evening to spend Thanksgiving with us. I was so excited to see her since it has been way too long! She is so chill and amazing that it seemed like the three of us could have been childhood friends. On Thursday we all hung out around the apartment, watched the parade on TV (we agreed there was no way we were waking up that early to go wait in the cold), watched football, cooked, drank and had fun. 

Since there ended up being eight of us for Thanksgiving, we had it over at Erica's boyfriend’s apartment. The food was absolutely delicious and we had more than enough. Erica's dad came in town, so it was nice to have a parent there. He gave a very sweet toast about our new lives and all of the "firsts" we would be experiencing. I hadn't given it much thought, but I realized how right he was. It made everything that much more special. I passed out on the couch from a food coma, so James, Jill and I went home to watch some more football.

Friday afternoon we went to a beer garden in Astoria called Studio Square. It wasn't the one I wanted to go to (the original one is 100 years old) because it didn't open until later that night, but we figured this new one would be just as good. I haven't ever been to the original, but I have a feeling it must be better. Granted we went on a Friday afternoon, but the place was almost completely empty. We decided to eat, hang out and watch some more football while James drank his beers. Eventually Jill and I got bored, so we left.

 Afterwards we were feeling semi-touristy and went to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree. The whole area was already decorated for Christmas, the giant tree just wasn't lit up yet. Afterwards we went down to Bryant Park by Grand Central and walked around the Christmas shops they have set up. There is also an ice skating rink that I plan on skating at some point this month. James is really into trying unique types of beer, so we went to some cool pubs/bars in SoHo and Greenwich Village. 

Unfortunately Jill had to leave Saturday. Alexa took her to the bus at Penn Station and then met up with us. While she was doing that, James, Shaina and I went to Eataly. It's the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world owned by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich. There are about five different restaurants and a complete market. It has everything you could imagine. One of the best things (besides the food) is you can walk around the entire market with a drink in your hand! I had probably one the best glasses of wine I have ever had and ate delicious pasta. Afterwards we went to the Baylor bar and watched the Bears beat Tech (Sic'em!). 

James and I decided to take it easy on Sunday since we were both so exhausted. We slept in, ate yummy waffles for brunch, watched lots of football and a few action movies like the old days. Sadly James left at 3:00am Monday morning to catch his 5:45am flight back to Houston. 

Overall my Thanksgiving week was wonderful. I was able to spend quality time with my brother, see old friends, have time off from work, and go to new places in the city. I couldn't have asked for a better holiday in the city. I will say that I can't wait to go home for Christmas though!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Year Older

As many of you know, I turned 23 years old last Tuesday. While some people would freak out about getting older, I actually prefer it. That could have something to do with me always feeling like the youngest/a child because all my friends are older. Or the fact that I hate telling hot, older guys how young I am. Either way, I was excited to be turning 23. 

While normally I am always prepared with some sort of birthday celebration, this year was different. I'm in a new city with new friends and a new life. I felt almost a little foolish making my birthday a big deal to people who had only known me for a few months, so the only thing I planned was going out to dinner on my actual birthday.

Little to my surprise my friends had something else planned. My friend Jess had planned a surprise party for me down in the Flatiron District. I was absolutely shocked! I couldn't believe that they had been planning this all along and I didn't have a clue about it. I was so surprised and happy to see them all. I instantly knew this was going to be an amazing birthday.

My friends had a drink ready, balloons, a birthday sash and tiara. They tied the balloons to my wrist, put the crown on my head and the sash on me. I tried to protest, but they wouldn't allow it. Every time I took it off, Shaina kept putting it back on so I gave up fighting her (until the last bar when she stopped noticing). I also ended up loving the balloons (until some rude girl popped them) because they got me free drinks and birthday wishes all night!

After Flatiron we went down the Lower East Side to a place by my friend's apartment called Dark Room. It is everyone's favorite place to go at the end of the night. It was so much fun! There were tons of cute boys (some had foreign accents so that's always a plus) and great music. We danced, laughed and had an amazing time.

The entire weekend was filled with amazing birthday activities. We went to brunch on Saturday and shopped for a dress for me for my birthday dinner. Sunday Alexa and I went to brunch in the Lower East Side at NoLita House. On the weekends they have live bluegrass music and a boozy brunch special. The music felt a little like home and the food was delicious!

At my new job our office was only open Monday and Tuesday so my brother flew into town Tuesday night for my birthday and Thanksgiving. We were all supposed to go out to eat in Greenwich Village at the tapas restaurant Alta, but long story short, it didn't work out. Instead I picked a bar down in Alphabet City. It was listed as the best place to get group drinks online, but it ended up not being that great of a bar. Luckily my friends are chill and didn't even care (or at least they said they didn't). We still had fun hanging out before everyone left for Thanksgiving. 

My friends throwing me a surprise party and buying my drinks all weekend was more than enough. To top it all off though, I got some excellent presents as well. Alexa gave me two AMAZING cookbooks, a Christmas cd and a Christmas ornament. Erica got me some pretty Bobbi Brown makeup. My parents bought me new clothes while my mom was in town and then sent more gifts with my brother. They send a gift basket with another great cookbook, an electric wine opener, two bottles of wine and more amazing goodies. My brother flew here to see me, so that was more than enough. 

While I started out with low hopes about my birthday, I ended up being more than thrilled with it. The surprise party was more than I could have asked for. The fact that they even took the time to plan it meant the world to me. They could have stopped right there and I would have been happy, but they continued. I couldn't have asked for better friends or a better first birthday in New York!