{ 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!

{ 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!

 

{ Visit to SoCal }

In addition to being back in LA for Allie and Eric’s wedding we had several days to spend time with my family and friends. It is likely our only trip to SoCal this year and we cherished every minute of time we had there.

Jess & Newport Beach. My soul sister and best friend Jess lives in Orange County and we had to make a visit to see her darling beach bungalow apartment and show Zach Newport Beach and the Peninsula. Jess and I have spent a lot of time there over the years so it was a blast to reminisce and visit some old bars and restaurants we used to frequent. The visit was not without a stop at a real deal Mexican restaurant. The Mexican cuisine is SoCal has yet to be matched in any of the other cities I’ve lived in so I always make a point to eat a local spot when I’m home. And of course, we had to make a trip to the beach to put our toes in the sand and ocean. I miss it so much! Thank you for hosting us for the day, Jess! We loved seeing your digs!

Parents Night Out. My parents wanted to show me and Z their favorite new spot at the Hermosa Pier, Greenbelt, so we made it a night out and had dinner and drinks by the beach. Dinner was followed by one of our go-to’s that makes the BEST speciality cocktails, La Pamilla. Even though we had just seen my parents in NYC it felt so good to have the more quality time with them to pick up where we left off from their visit. Big laughs and strong cocktails!

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Family Friday. I am so lucky to have a family that will go above and beyond to make time to see us when we’re in town, even for the short window of time we had to spare. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, and the kiddos came out to spend the day in Manhattan Beach with us at the house. It was such a wonderful day with good eats, cold drinks, some neighborhood games of Horse, and quality catch-up time.

I insisted on getting a group shot of everyone. The first pic was the best version and the one below it is an example of what the other shots looked like haha. We were just missing Jords & Rick, Uncle Gary, Brooke & Clint, Greg & Nicole, and Jon & Voula!group-shot-nicegroup-shot-prep

One of the highlights of the day was that Papa drove my car, Pearl, from Glendora where he has been keeping it for me. Crazy stupid how much I miss that car! The subway is not nearly as enjoyable as driving your own car. It was so fun to see it again. It feels like I haven’t had my own car in years! Thanks for taking such good care of her, Papa 😉

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The kiddos eventually took off with their GG/my aunt and the adults made our way to a couple of local breweries in Torrance. Loved all the belly laughs and beer tastings with each of you!

So incredibly grateful for all the quality, albeit brief, time I had with all of my family and closest friends. I miss each of you everyday and Z and I can’t WAIT for our next visit! We’re missing California like crazy. Blessed to call such a wonderful place HOME.

Mom & Dad. Miss you everyday. Grateful this long distance life is only temporary and soon we will be back on the same coast! In the mean time, thank you for always being the most gracious and FUN hosts a daughter could ask for!

{ 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.

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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!

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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!

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{ Our Wedding Film }

Our hearts are exploding. We received our wedding videos last night from our talented film makers, Forestry Films, and we spent HOURS watching them. We watched each video at least a dozen times. We have a highlight film, a full edit of the ceremony, and a full edit of the toasts.

Thank you to the entire Forestry Films team for this incredible highlight film. We will treasure it forever!

{ 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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{ This one is just right! }

We found an apartment! After 3 days, 20 apartment viewings, and 4 different neighborhoods we found the ONE. I’ve never experienced anything like the NYC real estate market. It is truly uncanny!

Before I get into the details of our search and the winner, I have to give a huge shout out to our broker, Eric, at Douglass Elliman. He has been in the business for 20+ years and his knowledge and candor about neighborhoods, building management companies, and market pricing was invaluable. Not to mention he was a class act with a great sense of humor that we took to quickly. After we decided on our place, he even made a point to text us on a Sunday to check in and see how we were feeling about our choice. Z and I both agreed we’d totally grab a beer with him and keep in touch in the future. It’s the exact feeling you want to have with someone who is helping you find your home. Should you or someone you know ever be in need of a New York City broker we’d be happy to share his info!

The Skinny on Our Big Fat Search. Eric taught us before we left Seattle that picking an NYC apartment should rely a bit on where your work place is located. For example, Z’s office is located on the Eastside so we should really focus on neighborhoods on that side of the island. This is mainly due to the subway system which is very efficient North to South but it is much harder to commute East and West. It’s not impossible but it does take much longer to get to and from work if you live on the Westside and work on the Eastside. Thankfully, most of the neighborhoods we were interested in were on the Eastside anyway. We narrowed our search to Gramercy Park, Murray Hill, and the Upper East Side. Not only did these areas fit our budget but we also loved the vibes that were unique to each ‘hood. I spent two days with Eric while Z was at work so I could familiarize myself with all three areas but so I could also create our short list for Z to see when he could look with us on the weekend. House hunting in Manhattan is fast and furious and when you’re only looking at one bedroom apartments you pretty much see the same layout over and over. The only real differences being the (a) condition of the building and unit (b) amenities included like fitness center, doorman, etc. (c) the neighborhood. The last item seems obvious, right? Of course, where a house/apartment is located obviously affects the price. However, in NYC the price can be different from one apartment to another by an additional $500-$1,000 and the latter apartment may only be 10 blocks away. And the trendier the neighborhood, the smaller, older, and more expensive the apartment. It still stupefies us and we may never understand it. But that’s just another thing we’re learning over here!

Home Sweet Harris. The apartment we picked was the very last place we saw. Towards the end of our day, Eric mentioned this particular building and thought it would be worth it for us to add to our search. And my, are we glad he did!

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Our one bedroom, one bathroom home looks out onto the entire south end of Manhattan. It took our breath away when we first saw it! It sits in a fantastic building in the Murray Hill neighborhood, which we’re very happy with. Central to our other favorite areas, close to major subway lines, and within walking distance to Z’s work. After days of seeing apartments that were too small, too old, and too expensive, this one was juuuuuust right!

We officially move-in next week and we couldn’t be happier! This makes things so official and REAL. Really friggin’ real.

Special shout out to my husband for enduring the intense application approval process. You’re a stud. Cheers to Eric for really getting to know us, hearing our needs, and finding us our new home!

And a little pat on the back to me for doing the legwork of seeing 20+ apartments before we landed on the one. *Boop*