{ MIAMI }

When Z and I were in the pre-moving phase of our transition to New York, we discussed many of the things we wanted to do and goals we wanted to achieve while we lived on the East Coast. We talked about the bucket list items to accomplish in the city as well as the cities outside of New York we had to visit. Miami was one of the first we ever discussed and it has been on our minds since we moved. After our first year in New York came and went, I knew I wanted to plan a surprise birthday trip to Miami for Zach’s 32nd birthday. While we both enjoy the fact that we are both planners, sometimes it prevents us from truly living in the moment. We oftentimes find ourselves in conversation about the future, post New York life, when do we want kids, what’s the next step for our careers, etc. Because I knew Miami was on the top of our lists for places to visit and, let’s be honest, it’s a city for silly, adult fun, it would be a perfect place to celebrate exactly where we are in life; fairly newlyweds, childless, and a will to see new places. I was determined to not only make the trip happen but to keep it a secret from Z for MONTHS. I have never kept a secret that long in my life and I still can’t believe I did it. I booked the trip in February and I didn’t tell him until we were at the airport on May 4!

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I spent the majority of my twenties working in the hospitality industry which means while I am an excellent resource for all things travel, I can be a bit of a hotel snob and will spend HOURS researching to find the perfect place at the right price. This was true of my Miami hotel research but I couldn’t be happier with my find. The Confidante Hotel, formerly a Thompson Hotel and now a Hyatt Unbound Collection hotel, was perfect for the intention of the trip. Steps from the beach, two pools, four bars on property, and easy access to South Beach and Downtown Miami. One of our favorite spots on the property was Nina’s House. Best known for their drinks with made to order fresh pressed juice cocktails and 2 for 1 happy hour. A perfect welcome to Miami!

During the time when Z had no idea we were going to Miami I was asking friends and acquaintances in the city (i.e. my hair dresser!) for recommendations on great restaurants and bars in Miami and Miami Beach. We hit up South Beach the first night in town, which honestly was like a mini-Las Vegas. Fun for a few drinks at an open-air, outdoor bar, but also a gamut of characters walking around that were fun to “observe”, to put it mildly. It was very different from what we envisioned which was classic beachfront restaurants, people dressed in their Miami-chic attire, and overall just a bit less seedy than what it was. This is not to say it wasn’t a great time it was just very different than our expectations! It was entertaining and more casual which ended up being nice to lay low and not feel like we needed to be super dressed up every time we went out. We’re always up for a little exploring, being in new places, and embracing the environment around us. Hence, why we love to travel. A few notable places in South Beach that we loved, some recommended by friends, some by Yelp: The Clevelander, the Naked Taco (for Cinco de Mayo!), and Havana 1957 for some authentic Cuban food.

Friday morning we were pumped to get our toes in the sand and swim in the ocean but the weather in Miami Beach had other plans. We got a solid hour in before a torrential downpour made its appearance and lasted for four hours. After we ran off departed the beach we enjoyed some Cinco de Mayo festivities in South Beach and then made it back to the hotel for some afternoon sunshine before the sunset.

Saturday was the PERFECT day. The day began with another surprise I coordinated for the weekend. One of my coworkers and her husband, Angie and Mike, became fast friends of ours when we first moved to New York. However, they snowbird to Florida every winter so we were only able to spend a couple months with them before the moved to Tampa for the fall/winter season. Angie and I have kept in touch while they have been away and when I mentioned we would be in Miami and that they should join us, they were all in. It was AWESOME. For people we have known less than a year to drive across the state of Florida to spend 24 hours with us was remarkable. Originally they were supposed to come for the whole weekend but last minute work commitments changed their plans. But the one day they were with us was wonderful! I mentioned to Z about an hour before they were set to arrive that “some other people are going to be joining us” and he was wracking his brain to figure out who was coming. He was equal parts surprised and touched that our new East Coast friends had made such an effort. Heart happy moment! We spent the day on the beach and swam in the ocean for HOURS!

Our last night in town we went into Downtown Miami to this restaurant I found called The River Yacht Club. I read about these restaurants that were right on the Miami River (which I had NO idea Miami even had a river!) where yachts of all different shapes and sizes can coast through and park to get off the boat and enjoy a meal. Some of these yachts are 100 ft. long and this river is NOT big by any means. We even saw one pull away from the restaurant after a group of diners had finished their meal and got back on their yacht. It is a whole new level of wealth we had never seen before! It made for a unique atmosphere for dinner. The River Yacht Club also had a dance floor and live band while you dined. Warm winds, fresh, organic ingredients, and the sunsetting while we ate made for a stellar last night in town.

After dinner we headed across the river to another spot I had heard lots of good things about called Seaspice. It was a bit overpriced for us for a meal but it was a perfect nightcap. They, too, had giant yachts parked alongside the restaurant, but instead of a dance floor and live music they had a long, large couch that encircled the bar area as well as a swing by the hostess stand which was one of my favorite parts of the restaurant. How could you leave without sitting on the swing?!

Angie & Mike. I said it in Miami but I will say it again here. It meant so much to have you join us for all the festivities! Your open hearts, appetite for adventure and trying new things, and generosity of your time and friendship are just a few of the reasons why we feel so grateful to have met you in New York and even more touched that we now have this trip to cement our friendship. We can’t wait for you to be back in the city for summer and for more good times ahead!

Z. Here’s to a new year in this great, big city. Being with you and observing the way you’ve embraced our new normal, growing your role at work, evolving your look (just a hair! 😉 ), and living each day with intention has been an exciting time in our married life. I am in awe of you and all you’ve accomplished. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring for you or rather what you’ll bring to your 32nd year of life!

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{ From Eastern WA to East Manhattan }

The first quarter of the new year has proven to be so fast and furious that I have already failed on my new year’s resolution of updating this blog once a week! Welp, it’s never too late to redeem yourself so let me start from one of our first wonderful weeks of the new year.

Ryan & Tiffany have been dear friends of ours since the moment Zach & I met. Ryan was with Zach when he first came to San Diego and Ryan witnessed the inception of our relationship. Though Tiff was not with him on that trip, he had just proposed to her a month prior. 2011 was the start of so many beautiful beginnings to our respective relationships and to still be close friends in 2017 is a treasure. In those years, we each had our weddings, Ryan and Tiff have had a little baby girl, Eva, and obviously Z and I have moved our life to New York. Ryan and Tiff live in Eastern Washington and had one heck of a commute to get to us, not unlike Devin and his trip to visit a few months earlier. It was Ryan’s first time in New York and I think we showed it up right!

The Lion King & Top of the Rock. One of Ryan’s Christmas gifts to Tiff was tickets to a broadway show of her choosing. She had a long standing dream to see the The Lion King so it was a no brainer when it came to choosing the show. Zach, Ryan, and I had seen the show when we were very young so we were all excited to see it again, as the memories were great and we knew it would not disappoint!

After the show we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. We walked from Times Square to Rockefeller Center to have drinks at Top of the Rock, a bar on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center that overlooks the entire city. It was the first time for all of us, with the exception of Z who had been there for a work event. It. Is. Spectacular. There is an outdoor viewing deck that takes your breath away, and despite the freezing cold temps and wind, we stood out there for quite awhile. Ryan and Z met a guy who had an app on his phone that controlled the lights and color of the spire on top of the H&M tower. He literally pulled out his phone, asked the guys their favorite color, and then hit a button on his phone, and then they all watched the top of the tower change color. Whaaaat?! Tiff and I missed it while we were getting drinks inside at the bar, but still to this day Z regrets not asking that guy how/what/why/”can i get that app?!” of the color changing super powers.

9/11 Memorial & Museum. One of the activities that is unanimously at the top of all our visitors’ list is to see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. While Z has done both already, I have never been to the museum. He mentioned that it is a several hour event as the museum is pretty massive with many exhibits we will want to spend a lot of time in. So we made a day of it! Our friends, Parv and Andy, who also went to college with Ryan, Tiff, and Z, had brunch at their house, and our friend Cort was in town from D.C. who joined us for the day as well.

Brunch was a perfect time to reminisce and catch up before the somber afternoon at the museum. It is so well put together. It’s full of incredible and astounding information about that day, the events leading up to it, and the aftermath. Honestly, you could go back for days and still not absorb everything. They offer an audio book via free app with Robert DeNiro as your guide narrating the exhibits within the museum. As a group, we all split up and walked the museum individually and met up several hours later at the end. It is brutal at times but so worth the visit. If ever you are in the city it should not be missed.

Anybody Hungry? One of my favorite things about this city is all the incredible food and drink that inhabit every neighborhood. There is a reason it is a pretigious culinary achievement to have a successful restaurant or bar in New York. Rent is high and there is great food everywhere. Choices are limitless and the expectations are high. Over the last year, Z and I have really honed in on some of our favorites which have become staples for us to take our visitors to. Uva, Fat Cat, and Gallo Nero, to name a few!

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One of our favorite culinary excursions was Serendipity. Ryan and Tiff had given us a gift certificate to the famous restaurant as a wedding gift (along with a DVD of the movie!) and Z and I still hadn’t used it. The sentimentalist in me was secretly saving it with the hope that Ryan and Tiff would visit and we’d get to use it altogether. I loved that it actually came together the way I imagined. It was a perfect way to end the trip on their last night in town.

Besides being a romantic and darling place, the menu is massive as are the portions of food. With the certificate covering most of the meal, we decided to go big!

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The frozen hot chocolate IS as good as it looks! It takes a team to drink it but thankfully I had a good partner-in-crime.

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Tiff & Ryan. I love that our friendship knows no span of time from when we see each other and that we always pick up as if we saw each other a few days ago. I love that our conversations can go from big belly laughs to serious discussions on life and love and back to playful banter. The hours fly by as there is never a dull moment. The cameos from Eva on FaceTime were the best and made us ache for her and miss her more! We are so grateful for your friendship and your commitment to seeing us in our new home. THANK YOU. It means so much especially when you’re far away from our comfort zone. No sooner you asked us about dates to visit, a flight itinerary was in our inbox days later. We miss you often and can’t wait for our next adventure! We love you, babes!

{ December in the City }

The last month of 2016 was a busy one for the Harris household. With my new job at lululemon athletica we were limited to our travels and were not able to head to the West Coast for any of the holidays this year. Instead of focusing on what we’d be missing out on,  especially time with our families, we pursued a LOT of items on our NYC and East Coast bucket list to really dig deep into our life here.

Instead of writing a bunch of different blog posts I thought I would include all our adventures into a picture story of what life has looked like for the past month. Although, Thanksgiving was technically in November I’m including it here for good measure. It marks the beginning of our holiday season which ended the same way it started; new traditions with just us two.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & Thanksgiving Dinner. 

 

Museum Day: The Guggenheim & The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Empire State Building Observation Deck.

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First Christmas Tree Purchase* in the City. 

*There was a great debate on how this whole Christmas tree purchase thing would work in the city. This city girl, who formerly purchased her Christmas trees from a lot at her local Target in Southern California, said they would probably have similar lots in the city. The country boy, who formerly went to chop his own tree down in Eastern Washington, thought we’d have to go to upstate to tree farms to pick it out and chop it down. Clearly, we can see I was more or less sort of right haha.

The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.

Evening Ice Skating in Central Park.

Day Trip to New Canaan & Stamford CT.

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Our First Christmas in New York. 

New Year’s Eve at Cipriani. 

 

Whew! It was a jam-packed end to 2016 and we are SO ready for 2017!

{ Dana & CJ’s Visit }

It is embarrassing how long it has been since I have updated the blog. Gah! But we are back in action and I won’t leave ya hangin’ anymore! Pinky promise. In the past month we’ve had two sets of visitors, a trip to Southern California, and I’ve started a new job and career venture. Woohoo! I’ll post about each thing separately, but for now, I’m going to take you back to early June.

My dad and mom, Dana & CJ, were our first official family visitors to NYC! Ten full days of sharing our 700 square feet apartment, touring the city, walking an average of 11K steps a day (thank you iPhone Health app), and spending uninterrupted, quality time together. And boy, did we have an AWESOME time.

My parents made an incredible collage/list of each day in detail but I think to spare this blog post from being ten pages long, I will tell the story of their visit through photos with highlights of my favorite parts.

Central Park. Early in the trip we walked through Central Park and I showed them all my favorite places and spaces in the park. We eventually made it one of my favorite restaurants on the Upper West Side, Jacob’s Pickles, where we dined and dad found a new fav cocktail, the Bees Knees.

Wall Street Bull.  The infamous statue in the heart of Wall Street attracts many tourists. I’ve written about it in a previous blog but to remind you, oh dear reader, that people often take pictures holding the bulls (ahem) balls which is actually quite dumb to watch people do over and over. My dad’s response to this was to take a different pose with the bull…

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Yes. You’re welcome for that. Dana is never one to shy away from an “opportunity” to add a little shock and hilarity to a situation. The reactions on people’s faces in the background is my favorite!

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. To say my mom is obsessed with Stephen Colbert would be an understatement. She is in LOVE with Colbert. If my parents had a hall pass list Colbert would easily be in the top three. One of our family friends, Cami Thacher, works for Colbert as a copy writer and was able to get us four VIP tickets to a live taping. The guests were Laura Linney and John Leguizamo who were both wonderful. Stephen comes out to speak to the audience before the live taping to meet & greet as well as answer questions from the audience. Mom had prepared a question ahead of time but as soon as Stephen opened the floor for questions she got school girl crush nervous and couldn’t bring herself to even raise her hand. It was both precious and hilarious. We had a blast and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. Thank you, Cami!

Mom’s Birthday. For the first time in many years I got to celebrate my mom’s birthday with her. It was by far one of the best days of the trip. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge and had pizza at the infamous Grimaldi’s, and then headed to the Brooklyn Brewery. Mom loves a good brewery and a dark stout! Later in the evening, Z and I treated my parents to dinner at The Flatiron Room, known for their live jazz and vast library of whiskeys. We ended the night at Don’t Tell Mama, one of my top spots in the city, a piano bar where the servers and bartenders are aspiring broadway performers and sing all night long. Per my dad’s request they played my parents’ wedding song (Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are”) and of course, a “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long from the entire bar. It was a top night!

There are so many other precious moments and memories made throughout the 10-day visit. It was an emotional departure when they left for LA but I am so incredibly grateful the intimate, uninterrupted time with my parents. Being roommates again ended up being a very good time! Life is so short and I miss being away from them but by choosing to be present in each moment of every day we were really able to cherish our time together, as opposed to dreading the impending goodbye which is something I typically do.

Mama & Dad – I feel so blessed to be your kid. You fill my soul with calm and confidence in this crazy new city I live in and my heart is full that you were able to come visit so soon after our move. You inspire me and love me unconditionally. Most of all, you are the BEST people to share a good laugh with. And I love that we laugh A LOT in our family.

I’ll leave you with more photos from other adventures in our trip. Can’t wait for the next visit!

 

 

{ Yankees vs. Mariners }

Last Saturday we checked an item off our New York bucket list and headed to Yankee Stadium! The Seattle Mariners were in town for the weekend and it was too great an opportunity to pass up. We had a crew of 10 people, combined of old and new friends, and headed to the Bronx to take over almost an entire row in the grand stand seats.

I’m not a huge baseball fan but I do love the atmosphere and energy of baseball games. Though this Yankee Stadium is not the original, it is still packed with historical memorabilia and fun artifacts.

We caught an especially warm day but we all endured our impending farmers’ tans together. All together in the front row of our section, we had a perfect, unobstructed view and were able to catch the pre-game festivities. One of which was the starters line-up announcement on the jumbotron. We got a kick out of the fact that the played the Darth Vader theme song while they announced the Mariners’ starters. Our first Mariners’ away game was off to a running start!

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The whole game was a blast. Half of the group were Mariners fans while the other half wore their Yankees gear accompanied by lots of playful banter (Lots of boos from the whole Yankees crowd whenever ex-Yankee, current Mariner, Robinson Cano was up to bat!). Craft beers, Nathan’s famous hot dogs, different domestic and imported beer at every other concession stand were perfect additions to the day. The cherry on top of the awesomeness was the Mariners 3-2 victory!

I can’t wait to come back for more games! Especially because my new favorite part of going to a Yankees game is the 7th inning stretch…

Oh yes, snaps and spin moves and all!

{ From Winter to Spring }

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the Harris’. While our apartment has finally come together we’ve had more free time to get out and enjoy the end of our first, albeit brief, New York winter, to the first couple weeks of spring.

Miller Time. Our friends that feel more like family, Parv and Andy have returned to their home in NYC from an extended vacation in Iran visiting Parv’s family, and with their return we’ve been exploring new places in the city together. While in the short time they’ve been back we have done so many fun things together, one of my favorites was our first go at a NYC rooftop bar. The Millers had purchased a Groupon to a rooftop bar in Midtown South as a welcome present for Z and I. 230 Fifth has a fantastic indoor and outdoor rooftop space that has 360 degree views of Manhattan. A walk-up bar with food & drink and red robes to keep you warm made for a fantastic Saturday afternoon. While the robes were more of a novelty than necessity (especially once we discovered they don’t wash them between wears…) we loved the vibe of the rooftop bar scene and can’t WAIT for summer to explore more rooftop bars as they open closer to end of spring, early summer. Thank you, Millers, for a perfect “official” welcome to the city!

The view wasn’t so bad either…

Manhattan Beach to Manhattan, NY. One of the many perks of living here is friends that travel for work often find themselves traveling to NYC. Last week one of my hometown friends since junior high, Miranda, was in town for a quick work trip. We were able to have wine at the apartment before meeting up with one of her girlfriends from business school and one of her best friends from college, both of whom also live in NYC. It was so fun meeting her friends from three seasons of her life and an enjoyed a delish dinner and drinks in the Upper West Side, quickly becoming one of my favorite neighborhoods. Loved seeing you and catching up Miranda! Can’t wait for the next trip, whether here or seeing you in Detroit! Thanks for squeezing me in!

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Easter Sunday. While Z and I spent most of the weekend “adulting” and building/unpacking/cleaning/hanging frames in the apartment, we spent Sunday morning with the Millers and our friends, Hayley and Damien. We hosted mimosas at our place then headed to a spot I have been itching to try, mainly because of its eccentric name and darling, country home interior design, The Flying Cock. It did not disappoint! All you can drink mimosas, bellinis, and bloody Mary’s for only $15 and breakfast items that were to die for. I would have taken more photos had I not been consumed in the good eats, better company, and a hilarious and friendly Irish restaurant owner who only cemented the notion that The Flying Cock would become a regular spot for us and any of our future visitors. After brunch, Z and I walked The High Line to burn off our meals and drinks. It used to be a railroad for manufacturers many years ago but has since been restored to a walking path with unique views of the West Side and pieces of the railroad throughout. There are public benches/chaise lounges and local vendors along the path, my favorite of which was a local artist who had a blank canvas on the ground with paint and brushes, simply inviting people to paint for free. Afterwards we braved and bumped our way through the crowds and hundreds of tourists leisurely walked through the Chelsea Market. I had previously been on a weekday which was an entirely different experience but despite the crowds it was still fun to explore it again and share it with Z.

From LMU to San Diego to New York. One of my closest friends, Kim, whom I lived with in college, lived with in San Diego post-college, and most recently a bridesmaid in our wedding, has been living in Baltimore for two years. We have been anxiously awaiting my move so we could finally see each other in our new homes on the East Coast. Kim was in town for the day after Easter, as she and her boyfriend were headed to Montreal the following day. We spent the day exploring the Upper West Side, taking in a Southern meal at one of my new favorite places, Jacob’s Pickles, and a long walk through Central Park.IMG_6497

As we walked back to the subway we had to stop at Kim’s most favorite place in the city, Laundrée, the place that invented the macaroon. Not being a fan of macaroons myself, I was skeptical, but one bite of a salted caramel macaroon later, I understood Kim’s obsession. They taste unlike any other macaroon I’ve ever had, they are more like a soft cookie with the most intense and decadent flavors. Needless to say I’m glad this place isn’t close to our apartment! Thank you for the wonderful day, Kim! I can’t wait for so many more!

Neighborhood Vibes. It has been so fun learning more about our neighborhood and taking the time to just walk around and pop into new restaurants and shops to figure out which places will become “our places.” Like most of New York, our neighborhood has an incredible mix of pre-war and modern architecture. Never have I lived in a place where you can stumble across so many different types of shops and cuisine within a couple blocks walk. It’s easy to just pick some cross streets and explore rather than seek out a shop or restaurant online before you go. We’re really learning to just let the city take us by surprise instead of planning our every move. The city is blooming into spring more and more everyday.

I’ll post some updated photos of the apartment in the next couple days. For now, I will leave you with last night’s sunset from our living room.

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{ Northwest Comes to the Northeast }

We got so lucky over the last week and a half with visits from familiar faces and some expert New Yorkers. Being the newbies has its own fun but learning so much from people we love and have called NYC home before was awesome!

The Future Mr. & Mrs. Angus. We were so thrilled that our friends’, Mitch and Kylie coordinated an overlap of their pre-planned vacation with our move date. Our new city had an immediate warmth of familiarity. The BEST part of their visit? They got engaged! Congrats, again, friends! We love you both and can’t wait for your wedding!

Kylie lived in NYC for 6 years and has resided in Portland with Mitch and their baby boy, Axel, for the past few years. Not only did Kylie know so much about so much, but she introduced us to some of her closest friends, Amy and Charlie, that we clicked with almost immediately. Z and I got to explore Brooklyn for the first time by dining with them and their friends at the Two Door Tavern in Williamsburg. The food was delish and the vibe reminded us of a Seattle-esque bar and restaurant. The night ended at a karaoke dive-bar in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn which couldn’t have been more perfect. Kylie and I were the only ones to rock the mic but there were a plethora of, shall we say, very special locals that kept the evening incredibly entertaining. The rest of the weekend included a visit to the bar Kylie used to bartend at in the Upper East Side, Gael Pub, where they let her behind the bar for old times sake, a quick pop-in and hello/introduction to her Uncle Frankie who owns this classic NY Italian restaurant, Campagnola, and then right across the street to (by far, my favorite part of the weekend!) The Banshee Pub. Kylie is very close friends with one of the bartenders, she knows the Irish musician who plays 90s’ cover music on guitar, and before the night ended Uncle Frankie brought an entire fresh, hot, cheese pizza from his restaurant into the bar. Is this girl the Mayor of NYC or what?! Thank you for the awesome playtime, Mitch & Kylie! We loved meeting all of your wonderful friends and NYC family and thank you for showing us the city through your eyes! Come back soon!

My One Day with Renee. My sweet and adventurous friend Renee has one of the craziest schedules I’ve ever heard of. Working for an international hotel & restaurant design firm keeps her travel schedule packed and I was humbled that she squeezed in a day in NYC to see me on her way to Philly for a new hotel opening party. Despite this particular Tuesday being one of the rainiest days of the year, we were determined to make the most of it. We dined at the famed Central Park restaurant, The Loeb Boathouse, and it did not disappoint. It was definitely a “fancy pants” place but the view of the lake and Central Park is worth the extra expense. The food and wine lived up to our expectations and overall it was just a perfect NYC moment. We caught a movie after lunch to avoid the rain and shared some vino the rest of the afternoon and evening. The next morning we squeezed in a brunch at the Blue Dog Kitchen which was one of the tiniest restaurants I’ve seen in NYC yet. But the food, fresh-pressed juices, and grilled avocado benedict were worthy distractions from elbowing your neighbor while you ate. It will definitely become a staple breakfast place for visitors. Thank you for making the time and effort to come visit, Renee! So glad you have a job that allows these impromptu visits! Looking forward to the next one!

Writing about all of these restaurants and eating and drinking should serve as a great example of how much Z and I are splurging in the New York cuisine scene. And subsequently how much we’ve increased our frequenting to our building’s fitness center. Totally. Worth. It.