{ 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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{ The City of Brotherly Love }

One of our goals for 2017 was to finally begin exploring the cities on the eastern seaboard. 2016 was a year of acclimation to the city and really exploring Manhattan so this year we wanted to explore outside the city limits. As West Coast kids we are limited in how much we’ve seen on the East Coast, so we comprised a list of every available weekend of the year and the cities we must see. We corresponded available weekends with the cities we wanted to see. My work schedule can be a bit tricky as I work one weekend day every week but with planning ahead we can sometimes get things switched to make getting out of town a little easier. Two days after we made the calendar I realized I had a last minute opportunity to switch some shifts around which would allow us a little less than 48 hours to get out of town. Philadelphia had been at the top of our list for awhile, plus it is so close to NYC. It also looked like an easy trip whose fun-factor would not be weather-dependent. So two MegaBus tickets and a hotel reservation later, we made our way to Philly!

We had a short list of tourist-y things we wanted to see so we tried to plan the limited time accordingly. Zach really likes to have a specific plan when we travel (no surprise to those who know us well!) and I really enjoy the walking around, “living like a local” type of travel, with a little taste of the tourist-y stuff. Priorities: The Rocky Balboa Steps, the Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal (like the Pike Place Market or Chelsea Market of Philly), and the LOVE sculpture.

We kept saying throughout that first day how much the city reminded us of Seattle. The people are friendly, the buildings are a mix of either rich history or modern flair, and it was a very walkable city (we only used an Uber twice the whole weekend!). There was snow on the ground but the temps were in the 50’s so it didn’t feel so bad. Note: I can’t believe my SoCal blood is saying that 50 degrees was not so bad. Face palm.

The Rocky Balboa Steps lead up to the Philadelphia Art Museum which we sort of peaked our heads into before we stumbled upon a statue of Rocky. There was a line of people waiting to have their photo taken with the statue and a random citizen was offering to take photos of the groups of people. When in Philly! We also just had to run up the steps to live out the Rocky experience. I mean, c’mon. We couldn’t leave without doing that!

The city has such great signage throughout that you really don’t need Google Maps to figure out what there is to do near you or around you. We walked back towards downtown and saw signs for the Franklin Institute of Science.  Lots of interesting exhibits and interactive areas, but I most enjoyed the statue of Benjamin Franklin.

Day two we set out with a few more missions of tourist excursions before we eventually settled ourselves at a sports bar to catch some of the March Madness tournament. First, we went to see the Liberty Bell which, truthfully, I expected to be so much bigger. I don’t even know WHY I thought it was going to be big but it was certainly not as grand as I expected it to be. There was a really informative and expansive exhibit about the history of the bell, how it wasn’t actually a “liberty” bell given the injustices of slavery and women’s rights at the time it was created, and how it wasn’t really rung the day the Declaration of Independence was signed.

After the bell we took a walk across the street to see Independence Hall where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were debated and signed. It was pretty remarkable to see how these buildings have survived over hundreds of years. We decided to forego the tour and just walk around to explore the site.

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We made our way to Reading Terminal which was very cool but a TOTAL ZOO. We took a ten-minute walk through it and looked at each other and immediately realized that was all we needed.

After a long lunch and some college basketball we made our way to the final item on our list, the AMOR sculpture. Upon researching on the way to Philly, we discovered that the LOVE sculpture was removed and being renovated to make its reappearance in summer. In its place is the AMOR sculpture. We arrived with only one other couple there and the rain was starting to fall. We agreed to get a quick selfie and make our way back to the hotel. However we quickly realized that the guy had just proposed to the gal and moments later a huge group of people, their friends and family, crossed the street to surprise the gal with a celebration. So while it was so cute to witness it was kind of crushing our quick photo plans. We eventually made it work and got out of the rain!

On our last night in town we spent the first half of the evening at Moshulu, a large ship in the harbor near the city, with a full restaurant and bar. Great recommendation from Dorothy and Cole! We ended the evening at this darling jazz bar recommended by my coworker, Sarah, called Time, with live jazz music and different clocks throughout the entire bar. Besides the amazing ambiance the bar had a list of Washington state wines that made me feel right at home!

Overall, we really loved Philly. Every restaurant, bar, or social interaction we had with people was friendly and welcoming. The first restaurant we went to gave us a round of beers on them as a welcome to the city. Our hotel cafe gave us free breakfast sandwiches, just because. It was starting to get a little weird! We are so used to the rough, angst-filled New Yorkers that we were startled by the friendliness at times. A reminder of why getting out of the city is so important! It was a cool town with an authentic culture that really explains their motto of brotherly love.

Check that one off the list, Mr. Harris!

{ 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!

{ 2017: Bury & Carry List }

Happy 2017! I can’t believe we are already halfway through the first month of the new year. I was recently inspired after reading this article by Maria Shriver about what she wants to “carry” and “bury” in 2017. I have found the idea of resolutions to be daunting especially because it diminishes what you learned and maybe even mastered the previous year. It begs “what more can you do?” instead of also validating your successes. Furthermore it challenged me to really consider what I am proud of from 2016, what I want to continue through 2017, and what I can truly leave behind.

What I Want to Bury:

  • Self-Doubt. There is nothing that handicapped me more in 2016 than self-doubt. When I began the year I was a successful Business Development Director at the height of my career, newly married, and about to move to New York. I arrived with confidence that I would find a sparkly new job and conquer wifehood with ease. Unfortunately it didn’t work out at all how I planned. Months flew by, what felt like hundreds of job applications had been submitted, and I was alone a lot during the day until Z got home from work. The loneliness was a perfect incubus to cultivate a cloud of fear and doubt that I was not good enough. Who was I without a successful career? Why would a man as wonderful as my husband, meanwhile blossoming and thriving in his career, want a pathetic woman such as myself who couldn’t find her way in New York? Self-doubt consumed my every day. Eventually I realized it was me who was holding me back. I had complete control of realizing my happiness and as soon as I worked on what it was that made me truly happy, outside of a career woman and being Z’s wife, I was set free from my doubt. I was a lot more than just those two things. It was finding ways to energize and inspire me. I am not perfect and battling self-doubt will always be a dynamic of life but for the purpose of this list, I am committed to continuing to pursue my happy and diminish the doubt.
  • Us vs. Them. While I don’t really want to get into the political arena on this blog, I have to acknowledge my approach to interacting with friends, family, and strangers whose political opinions are different than my own. This past year was a tumultuous and distressing time for everyone regardless of the candidate you supported. As the President-Elect is being sworn into office as I type this I am a gamut of emotions. For the purpose of this bury list, I want to work on diminishing this idea of Us vs. Them. This mentality is what got us here, divided. It’s not the first time in our nation’s history but for those living it for the first time it is painful, a state of disbelief. I look back on 2016 and interactions with some of my friends and family who I considered to be them. They supported the candidate I did not. As frustrated as that made me, I am certain my support of the other candidate made them equally so. My regret is that I didn’t engage in an adult, open-minded conversation with them. Instead I steered clear, avoided it, and judged them. Us vs. Them. I could have listened, shared passions, seek understanding in a constructive way. We are never going to be a united nation until both sides really examine the other side. It will continue to be two teams. Of course I am not naive to believe I could have actually changed those friends or families’ minds but maybe we would have understood each other better and learned something. I also know there will always be two teams but I don’t believe it has to be as harshly divided and vicious as it stands right now. As I avoid my television today I am not doing so to perpetuate the #NotMyPresident or anything like it. I’m not happy about it, not by any means. But instead of opening my social media and perpetuating the drama, today I choose to establish how I will carry into the new year, this new regime, and how I can control my piece of the world and influence positivity. How can I help to bridge this large gap that I helped build along with the other millions of us? I will continue to be authentic and steadfast in my beliefs but will not use it to shut out the other side.
  • Living in Future Tense. Planning is a way of life in the Harris household. Neither one of us are fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people and we are always looking ahead. That’s not to say making plans and being intentional about life are a bad thing but in our current circumstance it has hindered us. Our life in New York has always been temporary with the plan to move back to our West Coast home. At some point, however, it felt as if we were biding our time. And when I say we I mean mostly me. Anxiously planning and awaiting the opportunity to start planning our move home. Z has been a great reminder for me as I have had a harder time settling into our life. He reminds me and recommits that we want to make a life here. If we’re just watching the months tick by and counting the days until we get to go back to the West Coast we won’t really be giving our opportunity here a chance. We took a lot of trips back west last year, Seattle in particular, and we got used to seeing those friends and family every couple of months. It meant a whole year went by without an official honeymoon like we had originally planned. We sacrificed vacation days we could have used to travel the East Coast as we intended. While those trips were mostly for weddings and well worth the time and money spent we cannot do the same this year. We need to invest in our life in New York just as we set out to do. I want to miss this place when we leave it, not relish in the joy that we finally get to leave. I want to bury this living in the future and pump the breaks to live presently. Grounded in our New York life and cherishing this once in a lifetime experience. It will be gone before we know it.

What I Want to Carry:

  • Gratitude. We post about it on social media, we talk about its importance, but how often are we actually putting this into practice? I have learned and posed questions about ‘marriage’ this year and what does and doesn’t work for our marriage. One of the biggest things that we practiced this year which has become an integral part of our day to day is the act of being grateful. A simple ‘thank you’ goes such a long way. When Z has worked a long day and he comes home to a clean house, he acknowledges the work and says thank you. On date nights when we’ve just enjoyed an evening out, I share with Z how much I appreciate all his hard work to provide the ability to live in this amazing city and indulge in these experiences. Even something as simple as watching Sunday football together, he will thank me for creating our home and taking care of the things that make our life full. I may be overloading you with anecdotes but the point is I think we grossly underestimate how much our partners need to be appreciated and thanked. Out loud. Not carry it with us as an assumption that they “just know.” How good does it feel to hear that acknowledgment and gratefulness? Whether it’s a simple act or a grand gesture we all need and deserve affirmations for who we are and how we show up for each other.
  • Spin & Yoga. One of the best roses that came from the garden of thorns of being unemployed was discovering an active lifestyle. I tried countless fitness studios and different workouts until I found the classes and teachers that felt like home. Nothing clears my mind and makes me feel as good as leaving a class sweaty and strong. SoulCycle & mang’Oh yoga have changed me in mind, body, and spirit and I can’t imagine my day to day life without them.
  • The Lust to Wander. One of the most exciting parts of living on the East Coast is traveling to new places. It is remarkable how close these states are to one another and in a three-hour train ride you can cross over five states. Just thirty minutes north of Manhattan are forests and rivers that provide great relief from the concrete jungle. We dipped our toes into a few new places in 2016 and we’ve committed to seeing a handful of more cities and areas of New York this year. I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful coast.
  • Team Harris. I don’t particularly agree with people who say things don’t change all that much from being engaged to married. Maybe it’s because Z and I made such a drastic change to our life with a cross-country move. I still believe that the stakes are higher once you call someone your husband, not just your boyfriend. My life is no longer about just my wants and needs. I have to consider Z’s needs sometimes even before my own. What I’ve come to learn over the past year, a big lesson taught by my husband, is that when one of us is making decision they are ultimately our decisions. Z is better at change than I am. That’s just a fact in our marriage. He is level-headed and makes choices with carefully thought out logic (excel spreadsheets!) and I wear my heart on my sleeve and make choices with my gut based on the way something makes me feel. Whenever he presents a new idea, like moving apartments for example, he knows I am going to be resistant. “The market has changed, we can save money, we will experience a new neighborhood, etc.” It’s not my idea of a good time. I love our home in Murray Hill. I immediately classify it as his idea. He is doing this to me. Pushing me into this idea. But after I let the dust settle on my reaction, I always realize the same thing. It is the best decision for us. Z has seamlessly been able to change his thinking about what he wants into what’s best for us. True, it is his idea but my husband to date has never proposed something that has only been for his benefit or because he wants to do it. I am always a large factor in his consideration. We are always at the forefront of his decision making. It’s not easy to admit when you’re partner is right, especially when you want to be right. But I am happy to carry this ideology that Z seems to have adapted to so well and patiently waits for me to realize. It’s not about what I want or what he wants. It’s about what we want and what’s best for our life together. It doesn’t mean we will always agree or see the other person’s side but it’s about remembering that neither of us are ever selfishly making decisions. I want to carry this faith of partnership with me into this year and all the years ahead of us. Thanks for the lesson, babe. Even as much as I detest some of your new ideas, I am proud to be on Team Harris.

What do you want to carry and bury into this year?

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Top of the Rock – 1.12.17

{ 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!

{ Autumn in New York }

As the seasons fly by in this new city of ours we learn more about the traditions and “must do’s” of the present season. Amongst coworkers and friends we learned that heading upstate to visit apple orchards and pumpkin patches is amongst the things you must do in the fall. A coworker of mine told me about Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm which not only has pumpkin patches and apple and peach orchards but it also has a wine tasting room and state famous bakery with apple cider donuts. Umm did you say wine tasting room?

After a few convincing conversations to persuade Zach into this plan, we picked a Sunday in October to make the trip. One hour long train ride from Grand Central and a fifteen minute cab ride later we arrived at the farm. It is a family owned estate where the family home actually resides on the property, and boy was it bustling with people!

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We made our way to the tasting room first which was FULL of twenty-somethings and parents who were gettin’ their drink on while the grandparents played with the kids elsewhere on the grounds.

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Alright, I’ll confess. I am not a huge fan of New York or Northeast wine. I’m not actually sure how to explain it in words but it lacks something rich and full-bodied in flavor like Washington and California wines. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we drank the wine (c’mon, it’s me we’re talking about!) but we definitely skipped purchasing a bottle to bring home like the original plan.

One of the hooks to Zach agreeing to come to the farm was learning that they had a corn maze. After wine tasting we made our way over to the corn maze to see how long it would take us to get through it. A few steps into the maze and Z was quickly disappointed to learn it was a very easy maze to get through. Thus began the Harris off roading game through the untamed areas of the maze to create our own way out.  It was actually pretty fun despite my hesitation and bizarre fear of really getting into the corn maze. I’m used to mazes being around Halloween with scary dressed up monsters inside! But this was playful and silly and it ended up being a very fun part of the day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the grounds through the pumpkin patch, Christmas tree fields, and farm gift shop. I’ll use the work pumpkin patch loosely. The “patch” was more an area where pumpkins were set up after they were taken from their actual patch so people could shop more easily. While we intended on bringing a pumpkin home we realized we didn’t want to carry a giant pumpkin back on the train for an hour and then during the walk back to the apartment. Oh well! The farm was gorgeous to walk around and it certainly put us into the autumn spirit. It was so NICE to be out of the city and just absorb the quiet and calm of the country. It just reminds us how important it is to get out of the city every once in awhile to ground and calm yourself in the great outdoors.

Oh and those famous apple cider donuts? Well the line at the bakery was constantly 20 people deep outside the shop so we gave up before we even jumped in line. It turned out to be a very cold and windy afternoon so we headed back into the city for dinner. We both agreed it really was such a fun outing despite the hiccups in the day (no wine, no pumpkin, no donuts) and we loved being in the country for the day. It might just be a seasonal Harris tradition!

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Mr. Harris. I am grateful that you are willing to humor me when I come up with some of these more Joey-centric adventure ideas that may not always be your cup-of-tea. Your playful nature and silliness throughout the day gave me belly aches from laughing all day and your attitude about embracing the day is so appreciated. My partner in crime always, I love exploring this vast state with you and learning more about this new lifestyle we’ve entered into. It makes me happy that your open mind led you to being glad we did it. I’m making a mental note for next time we embark on a Zach-centric adventure!

And thanks for sacrificing your normal Sunday on the couch with the NFL. That doesn’t go unnoticed. I know that’s a pretty big deal 😉

{ September in Seattle }

I am almost caught up to present day on the blogs – woohoo! This post was particularly fun to put together as it included so many of my favorite people in one of my favorite places on earth. Zach and I had committed to a 10-day trip in the Northwest (for what felt like almost ALL of September!) and we packed A LOT into this trip. While it felt like we barely had a minute to spare, it was incredibly fulfilling to see so many people that mean so much to us and to squeeze us into their very busy schedules. My heart is full of gratitude for each and every moment.

Boats, Baseball, & BBQ. From the moment we landed on the West Coast we jumped right into a full and fun itinerary. We had a handful of people that also travelled great distances to meet us for our first weekend in town. Zach’s cousin, Autumn, flew in from San Jose, his Aunt Donna and Uncle Mark drove in from Ellensburg, some of our closest friends, Ryan and Tiffany made the trek across the state from Kennewick, and Z’s oldest friend Becca and her husband Leonard and their kiddos Laney Belle and Graham changed their entire weekend schedule to make it to Seattle to spend the weekend with us. We are grateful beyond words for each of you!

We kicked off the weekend with a family dinner to celebrate Autumn’s birthday at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Serafina. It was so important and incredibly special to spend our first evening with our family. We hadn’t been altogether since we moved to NYC in February so the whole evening meant a lot to us. A smorgasbord of food, wine, and fun was had by all! So much fun that with the three hour time change, Zach and I realized we had actually been awake for a full 24 hours since we left New York. Totally WORTH IT.

The next day we coordinated an even bigger group of friends and family to attend the Mariners’ Game. All eighteen of us occupied the bleachers in Center Field for beers, hot dogs, and good ol’ fashioned Seattle baseball. The view from the cheap seats was actually perfect and the game turned out to be a great one! We were particularly jazzed that our friends, Erica and Jon, brought their two-year-old Finley for her first ever baseball game. Thank you for braving it so we could spend time with you, Rayments! So glad Fin ended up loving it (AKA distracted herself with her iPad and only stopped for dance party breaks with her Auntie Jojo) and that you two could enjoy the game, too!

Sunday! It’s now been a full 48-hours since we’ve been back and the fun bus was still full speed ahead! Most of the folks that joined us for the game met us in the morning at Zach’s parents’ boat, Big Gin, to spend the morning out on the water in the Puget Sound. It was supposed to rain and by some miracle it turned out to be an absolutely stunning day. Thank you Captain Chris and Dorothy for hosting such a fabulous morning!

We wrapped up boating and headed back to the condo to meet the Lundgren family and we all watched the Seahawks game. Sadly, the game didn’t end in our favor but the afternoon was still a blast with kiddos, pizza, beer, and belly laughs. There is never a dull moment with this group! It was also the first time Zach and I were meeting Becca and Leonard’s baby boy, Graham, who was born the month we moved to NYC. What a babe! We couldn’t get enough of him!

Graham’s big sister Laney and I had a bit of fun with all the lipsticks and glosses I hoard in my purse. Every time she put on a different color she insisted we take a selfie. How can you say no to this cutie pie?!

After the miserable end to the game, we rallied and headed to our dear friends, Augie and Laura’s house, for a BBQ. They offered to host a get-together at their home while we were in town and it was such an incredibly kind gesture. After a weekend of hosting I was happy Dorothy and Chris would be able to relax and that we could have an intimate evening with some of our best friends in their gorgeous home. Augie and Laura has just gotten married weeks before so it was so nice to be able to see them and spend quality time with them after their whirlwind wedding weekend. I WISH I would have taken photos of this evening but I didn’t take a single one. I’m chalking it up to the fact that I was so wrapped up in the moment I couldn’t be bothered to grab a camera. I was fully present. Instead of photos I am left with memories and moments of one of my absolute favorite nights from our trip. It was one of those evenings that reminds you what life is truly all about. Family, friends that feel like family, good food, and big laughs around the dinner table. We were so touched by the impeccable meal Augie and Laura prepared and the overall evening they put together. Augie and Laura – You two are the real deal. Your thoughtfulness in hosting such a beautiful evening touched us all that night. Can’t wait to come back and do it all over again! Thank you times a million!!

Friends, Colleagues, and Babies. The following week was a whirlwind. We visited our friends Heather and Brit and their precious toddler Jackson at their new home in Bryant Park, went out to dinner with some of my oldest college friends, Kelsey and Kyle, had lunch with Zach’s college buddies Lars and AJ, and we somehow found time during the day to visit with old colleagues from our former roles in Seattle. Zach’s grandmother, Thelma, was also kind enough to take the bus from Ellensburg to spend a few nights with us. Thank you to everyone who squeezed in time to see us. We loved the short but sweet hours you were able to share with us!

Weekend in Portland/Vancouver. Our last weekend in town we headed to Vancouver, WA for our friends, Mitch and Kylie’s wedding. Mitch is a friend of Zach’s from college and fraternity, so per usual, the wedding felt like a WSU college reunion. Most of our friends were staying at the same hotel so it felt like a 24/7 social affair. Zach and a few of his friends were in the wedding so on the day of the ladies headed to Portland for a workout at YAS Portland for spin and yoga followed by beers at 10 Barrel Brewing. By some twist of fate one of my mom’s best friends (and basically a second mom to me!) Helen was visiting her son Max in Portland the same weekend. They joined me for drinks before I went back to Vancouver for the wedding. So happy I got to see you both!

Kylie & Mitch’s Wedding. The big day was beautiful! The weather couldn’t have been better and it was such fun to see these two tie the knot with some of our closest friends. The bride made her appearance and she looked like a Marilyn Monroe look alike! Simply gorgeous, Kylie! The day was filled with food trucks, corn hole, good music, and a stunning Northwest sunset. And it should come as no surprise that as soon as the DJ started playing music we all tore up the dance floor.

It was a very bright and sunny day…had to include this blooper…!

We are so happy for you Mr. and Mrs. Angus! We hope the day was everything you hoped it would be and more and that you’re loving the first few months of newlywed-hood as much as we did!

Last Day with the Hawks. The day after the wedding we headed back to Seattle for my final day in town. Z had a few extra days left in Seattle for an annual corporate work retreat so before I headed back to New York we managed to squeeze a Seahawks home game into our schedule…despite my red eye flight home that evening. I know, we’re crazy right?! We are big Hawks fans and season ticket holders and it was our only opportunity to go this season so we jumped on it. It was an awesome game against the 49ers and we took home the W! It was a sad departure to leave a few minutes before the game ended with tearful goodbyes between some of our best friends (miss you already Malia, Jeff, Laura, and Augie!) that we share our season tickets with. So glad we got to have those last few hours with everyone at the CenturyLink!

Dearest Seattle. Thank you for spoiling us with your last days of your sunshine season. You continue to take our breath away and we miss your green backdrop and your beautiful waters terribly. The concrete jungle of NYC pales in comparison to your natural beauty. Thank you for housing some of our favorite people in the world. It always warms our heart to come home and find them thriving and growing their careers and families. Our hearts ache when we have to leave you and especially those people we love so much. We’re so grateful we got to spend as much time with you as we did this summer. See you in 2017!

 

{ The Novaks Take NYC! }

This summer has come and gone and I have so much catching up to do on the incredible summer we’ve had!

July kicked off in the BEST way with some of our very closest friends, Kyle and Kelsey Novak, visiting us for the Fourth of July! We did so many things while they were here from brunches to dinner dates, to playing in Central Park and Broadway shows, we did New York and we did it up right.

drive-in

Bocce Ball in Central Park. One of our favorite wedding gifts from our friends Jeff and Cathy was a bocce ball set from Crate & Barrel. We had yet to christen it and with the Novaks in town it was the perfect time to break it in.

bocce

We split up the couples and played Z and Kels versus Kyle and Jojo. Despite that Z and Kels are cheaters strategic players and that Kyle and I did our best, the uneven ground of Central Park created a whole new level of challenge to the game. Z and Kels took the ‘W’ and we had an absolute blast! So many onlookers were trying to figure out what game we were playing, it was slightly entertaining. We kept thinking “do they not have bocce ball on the East Coast?”

cab

Sunset Cruise. When my parents were in town we took them on a boat cruise of the Statue of Liberty and the southern tip of the island. It truly is the perfect way to see Manhattan from the water so we knew it was a ‘must’ when the Novaks were in town. We decided to change it up and do the sunset cruise which could not have been more perfect. The July sunset proved to be the ultimate part of the cruise, reflecting on the city and Lady Liberty to the point where it took your breath away. Kelsey took some incredible snapshots that I’ve posted below. It was definitely one of everyone’s favorite parts of the trip. We hit the Brass Monkey afterwards for some rooftop cocktails to end the night!

sunset liberty

Fourth of July: Coney Island & The Beach Boys. We all checked off a major bucket list item with our holiday plans. We had found out months earlier that Coney Island has a summer concert series at the Ford Amphitheater on their boardwalk and that The Beach Boys would be playing on Fourth of July. It was a unanimous decision to go to the show. I mean, does it get more American than that?!

We decided to get to Coney Island a few hours earlier to jump on some of the rides and grab some dinner. Kelsey was a total sport despite her fear of some of the roller coasters (way to go, girl!) and we got to make it on two rides before the show.

roller-coasterconey

We played our Spotify and Pandora Beach Boys playlists leading up to the concert and we were shocked at how many of the songs we actually knew the words to. We were rocking out, dancing in the aisles, FaceTiming parents to sing along, and singing our hearts out all night long. It was hands down one of the best shows we’ve been to. If you ever have the chance to see them DO IT. Feel good, happy music, a crowd of all ages, and no shame in the dancing game amongst any concert-goers. The night was capped off with fireworks on the boardwalk. God bless America!

I should also mention that John Stamos was the guest drummer, guitarist, back-up singer and bass player. I mean Uncle Jesse is lookin’ pretty good. It’s like the man hasn’t aged. He only added to the epic-ness of the entire evening!

School of Rock Musical. Our last night came way too soon but we weren’t slowing down. Despite how tired we were from our day at Coney Island we decided to put on our date night finest and head to the Theater District to see School of Rock: The Musical. We picked it after seeing a performance from the Tony Awards and it also fell within our last minute ticket purchase budget. We went in with minimal expectations and we left blown away. The cast includes a number of pre-teens that are required to play musical instruments and they actually do! The talent and the energy was palpable and the theater nerd in me was especially excited to hear Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music composition in rock form. For those who don’t know he wrote the music for The Phantom of the Opera. We had such a ball and were so happy we decided to see it! Four sets of two thumbs up!

Kyle & Kelsey, thank you for being our first friends to make the cross-country trek to see us in our new home! You will always hold a special place in our hearts and this visit meant so much to us. If there’s one thing I can say about you two, is that you know it’s never going to be a bad time hangin’ with the Novaks. Thank you for sharing your energy and adventurous spirit with us and helping us check off some of our own NYC bucket list items off the list! We love you! Can’t wait for the next adventure!

{ 9/11 Memorial Walk 5K }

Sunday was another bright day in the city which made for a perfect backdrop for our first community event. The Millers invited Z and I to join their team for the annual 9/11 Memorial Walk 5K, benefitting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Before living here, I had not visited NYC since July 2004. Back then, the area where the Twin Towers used to stand looked more like a construction zone, a somber site of what it used to be. Now the Memorial has incredible twin reflecting pools each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools.

memorial names

It is without a doubt one of the top tourist attractions in the city but I’ll admit it feels strange to take photos and observe the other tourists who lean up against it or have their kids sitting on the edge with their parents. It feels a bit inappropriate given the reason for the structures but at least people feel it’s important to visit the site and remember all that was lost and what has since been rebuilt. The long term plan is to eventually have 7 towers, all of unique architectural structure (see Wings structure below).

My favorite part of the Memorial is the “Survivor Tree.” The Callery pear tree is the only tree to survive the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. It doesn’t look like any of the other trees which makes it presence so much more powerful. Pretty cool, eh?

Anyhoo, the 5K had hundreds of people for an 8:00am start full of runners and walkers alike. It felt amazing to be a part of our first community event to make us feel even more like a part of the city. It was an honor to be a part of and a great way to give back.

At the end of the race there was an array of food trucks, kids’ games and face-painting, booths from local sponsors, and a live band comprised of Army soldiers, by far one of the best parts of the day.

Thank you Parv and Andy for inviting us to join you! Looking forward to making it an annual event!

tower with trees

Editor’s note: Although a very serious cause and event, we did have a bit of fun during the walk. One of Zach’s best friends had done a Spartan race in Seattle the day before (it’s one of those 9-mile intense, mud-run, obstacle course type races) so Z felt the need to show him that he was equally “challenged” on his 3.2 miles of walking. Sorry dear, had to share!

zach collage

 

{ Central Park }

New York has been particularly warm and bright over the last week and we took advantage of it last Sunday. Zach’s sister, Sally, her husband Nathan, and their boys Jaxson and Carson got us the most awesome picnic backpack from PicnicTime Inc for our wedding present specifically with NYC park outings in mind. It has all the essentials which means all that is required to prep for your picnic is packing up the food and wine.

picnic wine

Central Park is absolutely massive which is great considering it felt like half of Manhattan had the same idea as we did. The park is great for people watching (“Do you think they’re a tourist or a local? Do you think we look like locals?!” “Totally, we’re not wearing leather in 80 degree heat and we don’t have giant Canon cameras around our necks”), dog watching, and guesstimating how expensive the luxury penthouses are that overlook the park.

central park boathouse

Thought we’d be missing all the Seattle greenery but Central Park is an incredible lush, colorful, and peaceful escape from the city, right in the middle of it all.

Excited for more days like this one!