Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: What I Ate, Part 2

Remember that time I wrote a whole post about all the anti-inflammatory-diet-friendly food I ate in one day?

Well, here we go again!

I apologize in advance that I write a lot about food... in Little Happies posts, in travel posts, and especially in these "What I Ate" posts. Seriously, I should rename my blog Blessed to Be Eating or something.

If you want to know more about the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and how long it took me to finally get the hang of it (hint: it took a good long while), check out this post.

And now for some LIVE ACTION news. Here's what I ate TODAY!

Water, water, water
Grapefruit sage kombucha

I don't always like kombucha. It usually tastes like salty armpit to me. But someone recommended this exact make and model (errr, brand and flavor) online a few days ago. And it was on sale. And I was thirsty. So I went for it. It was actually quite delicious! Now, perhaps one of you could explain to me why kombucha's good for me?

(almond milk + coconut milk (from the can!) + blueberries + fresh lime juice + honey + ice)

Black bean and sweet potato enchilada + avocado slices
(I would have showed you the whole thing, but forgot to take a picture until this point. It was that good.)


Salpica cilantro green olive salsa

Alright, so these nachos were probably my biggest fail of the day. I can't seem to quit you, dairy. Especially cheese. This hunk of leftover monterey jack was just chilling all lonely in the fridge, so I did the nice thing and made nachos out of it. Plus, I had to try out the new salsa I bought. (It was amazing.) At least I didn't go too crazy on the cheese, right? Sorta win?

Quinoa tabbouleh salad

No, I didn't eat that whole bowl. That's about 4 servings.

That's all she ate, folks!

Questions about the Anti-Inflammatory Diet? Think I'm still doing alright? Think I failed miserably today? Wanna share some Anti-Inflamm recipes with me? Hit me up in the comments.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Little Happies -- Nachos and Go-Karts and a New Blog Header (Check It Out!)

Hi, friends! And welcome back to Little Happies... the happiest little link-up on the planet, in which we share all the itty bitty exciting things going on in our lives currently. Now, what could be happier than that?


Earlier this week, we had some dear friends over for dinner. As we all know, little social gatherings are almost always happies. But what made this hang-out session even happier was a NACHO BAR! We each piled tons of personalized yummies on top of our individual pyrex dishes full of tortilla chips and baked to perfection. We may have eaten just a bit too much, but that's what loose fitting pants are for, folks.

Also, that large bowl of salsa you see in the middle of the table is my currently my favorite salsa recipe. Check it out.


Upon returning from work one day, I was greeted by this. Stephi Refreshment Station, or SRS for short.

The husband had some spare time, apparently, and used it to make me these tasty treats. 

Strawberry Moscow Mule and a fresh Caprese salad. Don't mind if I do! 

How thoughtful, husband! Can this be an every day thing, please?

Also, take a look at his handwriting. It isn't as bad or unreadable as you'd expect. Actually, that reminds me of a funny thing...


You're laughing, right?

I wonder what they're so mad about. The world may never know. 


We rode some go-karts! (And John insisted I snap this fun photo while we were waiting to launch.)

I may or may not have also taken a 5-second video while driving. Is it still considered illegal if you're driving a very miniaturized vehicle (powered by a lawn-mower engine, btw) while on your cell phone?

The go-karts were part of our Saturday morning, spent at a golf and game center with my youth group kiddos. It was actually a barrel of fun! Go-karts, mini-golf, arcade games, and laser tag! I felt like a kid again!


Have you seen my blog's new cuteness? 

A HUGE thanks goes out to my friend, Katie, who digitized my calligraphy and then designed the whole banner with flowers thang around it. It's my new favorite thing to stare at!! Eeeee! Do you like?

When we were still trying to figure out which direction to take the new design in (flowers or polka dots?), Katie sent me the above image via email. I figured it'd be fun to share a snippet of the designing phase with you, so there you have it!

Have a beautiful week! Ta ta for now! 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And Then There Was Progesterone

Well, three months have come and gone since our last NaPro follow-up, so we went for another one. I was pretty bummed that our last plan didn't work. Womp womp. But perhaps these new adjustments will do the trick?

Here are the deets:

Switch Clomid to Femara. Dr. G said that Clomid is most effective in its first 6 cycles of use, so since I've been using it longer than that, it's time to change things up.

Switch HCG injections to progesterone in pill form (Prometrium), but not taken orally (if you catch my drift). I'll take, or I guess insert, one pill each night for P+3 through P+13. He recommended switching it up because, like Clomid, I've been doing the HCG thing for more than 6 cycles now. I'm a little confused by the switch to progesterone because I don't have a post-peak progesterone issue. In fact, aside from a little dip in progesterone and estrogen on P+7, my progesterone and estrogen are both in the normal range post-peak, at least according to the one cycle of labs we did about a year ago. So, what exactly is this progesterone going to do for me? Is it another trick-your-body-into-thinking-it's-pregnant-just-long-enough-for-a-baby-to-implant kind of drug? 

(Yes, I know. I probably should have asked Dr. G all these questions. But I had already asked him a million questions at this point and I could tell I was holding him up. Oops.)

Dr. G also said I could stop the extended release B6 and the Robitussin (both taken for mucus production) since Femara typically doesn't cause mucus to dry up like Clomid does. I will NOT miss the taste of that Robitussin, thankyouverymuch.

We also have plans to repeat the seminal fluid analysis, but that's the last time I'll mention that since it's super awkward and such. More awkward, in fact, than putting progesterone pills in my girl parts, ifyouknowwhatImean.

And I'll be visiting Dr. G again next cycle to do a hysteroscopy, so he can really take a look at my uterine lining and that pesky infection that won't go away. I imagine he'll see a little infection monster just lounging on a beach chair, sipping a pina colada out of a coconut, saying to Dr. G, "Oh, you want me to leave? But it's so cozy and relaxing here." Infections are rude. And don't get social cues. 

So, that's it! I'm still on the Biaxin to treat the endometritis, which I take with a very strong probiotic, but everything else has been adjusted. 

Since I got tons of helpful advice when I mentioned starting Biaxin, I figured I'd throw this all out there to get some feedback again. And also just to keep all you curious folk in the loop about our NaPro treatment. 

Anything I should know about switching to Femara? Or taking progesterone? What crazy side effects should I anticipate? What do you think of these adjustments overall? 

Thanks for your help, friends!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Little Happies -- We Had an Anniversary! But More Importantly, Who Sells the Best French Fries??

Hi, friends!  And welcome back to Little Happies... the happiest little link-up on the planet, in which we share all the tiny joyful things going on in our lives currently! Now, what could be happier than that?


John and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary this past week. Weee woooo! Go us!

Instead of our usual celebration vacation, we had to stay put this time around. Both of us were working. (Laaaame.) 

To put myself in a more festive mood, I got my nails done all pretty for our date that evening. Since I rarely get my nails done, this was a maj treat and I absolutely enjoyed the stink out of it. Totally digging the glitter accent nail right now.  

After we both wrapped up at work, we went out for the fanciest meal of my life at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. Two words I would use to describe the meal are mmmmmm and MMMMMMM!

Happy anniversary, sweet doodle love! 


Do you see the heart?

Sometimes you just want french fries. 

And then other times, like last night, you don't just want any french fries. You want the best french fries in town. For me, those can be found at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. 

(Life hack: Tear the bag open like you see above to create a big ol' placemat for your greasy treat.)

Who do you think sells the best french fries around? Don't be shy! My taste buds appreciate your suggestions!



John's been jonesin' for some of these sweet copper mugs for a while, so we went ahead and bought some earlier this week. Custom says you're supposed to drink Moscow Mules out of 'em, which we've been hooked on since the Russian Winter Olympics. Obvi.

The mugs are especially neat because they get suuuuuper cold and all condensationy on the outside while your drink stays icy cold on the inside. It totally changes your drinking experience. For the better.

Even if you don't have these cool mugs, you should still make yourself a Moscow Mule, recipe above. Muddle some blueberries with it for an even tastier adult beverage.


We made pickles!!

But not your traditional pickles. Nope, not a single cucumber in there. Instead, we pickled carrots, red peppers, and cauliflower. The recipe is super easy and the result, super tasty. And the longer they sit, the better they taste! John likes the carrots the best. I totally think the cauliflower wins it. 

Basically, it's my favorite go-to snack right now. Puts a smile on my face every time I open the 'fridge. The mason jar makes me happy too.


I was heading back from the farmer's market by myself and was afraid Mr. Watermelon was going to make a run for it. So, I strapped him in. And then I giggled at myself for a solid 5 minutes.

Ahh, it really is the little things, folks!


Hi, my name is Stephanie and I'm addicted to calligraphy.

Helllloooooo, Stephanie!

Welcome to my new hobby! It's the best trick I have right now for keeping my mind off of adoption and boy does it work. I started an online calligraphy course about two weeks ago, so that's where all these mad skillz are coming from. I'm still in the beginner phase, most definitely, but it's getting better each day. And honestly, it's super peaceful. I kinda feel like I'm back in 3rd grade learning cursive, but that's probably the best part. Oh, to be young again. :P

Have a great week, lovelies! Can't wait to see your Little Happies!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Liebster Award, Take 2

My blog buddy Davy over at Sea of TTC honored me with a lovely Liebster Award, the award that likes to hop, skip, and jump around the blogosphere! I not-so-secretly actually love it. Thanks, girl!!

Since I did a Liebster Award post a few months ago, I'm just gonna stick to the basics on this one. Looking back now, I definitely went on waaayyy too long with my random facts, so this time, you'll get 11 super-short facts about me. And then I'll answer Davy's super-fun questions. And then I'll tag some of you to answer my questions! Weeeee, this is fun!

The Facts

1.) I live in Tennessee.
2.) But I was born in Rhode Island.
3.) My whole family still lives there. (Yoohoo, hi, family!)
4.) My red hair is au naturel. (Thanks, Mom.)
5.) I'm a Catholic youth minister.
6.) I'm a little obsessed with three things right now: calligraphy, the Glide app, and adoption.
7.) I'm a nerd. Evidence: I love math and Star Wars.
8.) I'm an introvert, or more specifically, an INTJ.
9.) My husband and I live in an apartment and are saving up to buy a house.
10.) My favorite color is green.
11.) I eat my boogers when no one's looking. (KIDDING, that's nasty.)

Sorry, I thought I was playing "10 Truths and a Lie" for a second there.

The Questions

1.) Why do you blog?
I blog for two reasons: because I love the support of the Catholic IF community AND because I have good friends and family that I want to keep in the loop about the goings-on of my life. Ok, and maybe a little because I like writing stuff. 

2.) What is your favorite book?
Wow, this is tough, especially since I don't really read many books anymore. (I shouldn't admit that publicly.) I guess I'd have to say one of the seven Harry Potter books, but I'm not sure which one. They're all so good!

3.) If you could live in any other country, which one would you choose?
Probably Ireland or England or France. But I've never actually been to any of them, so I'm basing this off of how much I liked these countries when I went to Epcot. 

4.) Do you know any foreign languages? If so, which one(s)?
Nope, but I did take Spanish in high school and German in college. Not that I can speak any Spanish or German currently, but it felt like I needed to answer with something other than, "Nope." So there you have it. 

5.) How many states have you visited?
I made a pretty map for you:

I've visited all the ones in red. I didn't include states I've only driven through or only had a layover in. If I counted correctly, that's 26 states! A little over half! It's pretty obvious which half of the country I've hardly explored. Oops. I'll visit you one day, western half of the U.S. 

6.) What was the best class you ever took?
Here comes the nerd. I took a great course in college called Mathematical Rigor, which sounds rigorous, but was actually really fun. We learned how to play around with numbers and such. I also took an Ear Training and Sight Singing music class which was fantastic. 

7.) What is your favorite gadget and why?
I think I'm gonna have to go iPad here. But, if you want a less predictable answer, I'm totally digging my spiralizer right now. It's that gadget you use to turn zucchinis into zoodles (aka zucchini noodles)! 

8.) Who is your biggest hero?
Can't really narrow it down on this one, so we'll just go with Jesus, because... how could I not? 

9.) What was your favorite vacation?
ARUBA! For our honeymoon. 

10.) Do you prefer shopping in person or online? Why?
Well, goodness. You're talking to the queen of Stitch Fix here. But, aside from that, I do like shopping in person just a bit better than online since I can try things on before buying them. 

11.) What is your favorite family tradition?
My dad, errrrmmmm, I mean, the Easter Bunny used to hide our Easter baskets for a basket hunt on Easter morning. Out of all my siblings, the Easter Bunny liked to hide mine in the hardest, most hidden places. After several years of me being the last one to find her basket, it became quite the family joke. One year, Easter Bunny actually hid it under the garbage bag in the garbage bin!! That tricky fella! Anyway, I love this tradition and especially love that it was carried over from when my dad was a little dude.

The Nominations

Amanda & Jonathan @ True, Good, and Beautiful 
Prayerful Journey @ Living God's Will
Em @ Mama Holi
Polkadot @ Making God Laugh

... I don't mean to leave anyone out! I tried to pick a handful of blogger friends that I didn't pick last time around. And now for the questions the above folks should probably go answer on their blogs right now...

Your Questions
aka the same questions I used last time

1.) Why do you blog?
2.) What is your favorite smell?
3.) What would you have as your last meal? Include appetizer, main course, and dessert.
4.) If you could master any skill overnight, what would it be?
5.) Who's your favorite Disney character?
6.) What movie did you most recently watch?
7.) What song are you currently listening to on repeat?
8.) Cupcake or slice of pie?
9.) If you could have an miniaturized animal as a pet, what would you pick? (For example, John tells me he wants a mini-bear.)
10.) If you just found out company was coming over in a few hours, what dish would you whip up for them?
11.) Summarize yourself in 4 words. GO!

And that's a wrap! If I tagged you, there's no pressure to post your own Liebster post. But you should probably do it. :) And if I didn't tag you, feel free to still join in on the fun! Answer the questions in the comments or just write your own Liebster post and pretend I tagged you. I won't tell anyone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

While We Waited, Part 2

Still waiting for adoption to happen, so the series continues...

Let's talk about waiting, 'cause...

I'm starting to see a pattern here.

When you start working with a NaPro doctor, things are a little crazy for a while. Do this test, now this one, ultrasounds, blood draws, try new meds, more blood draws, how about surgery?!

It's a lot to do and take in all at once, or even over the course of a few cycles. But after you've gone through that initial work-up, things settle down for a bit. You're still working with your doctor, still actively "trying," but as the unsuccessful cycles pass you by, follow-ups with your doctor and tweaks to your treatment happen less and less.

At this point, we're only meeting with our NaPro doc once every three cycles. And I'll tell you what that feels like. Lame. Definitely lame. It's no fault of anyone's, except my stupid uterus. But to be given a little tweak to your treatment and then given the instructions to "try it out" for three months before you come back, it's a bit of a bummer. It makes things feel like they're moving slowwwww as molasses. But I get it. That's just the nature of the beast. Getting pregnant doesn't happen overnight, at least from our perspective, so it's really just one big waiting game. And if that treatment didn't work, well, then it's on to the next one for three more cycles. Waiting, waiting waiting.

So, when our adoption adventure really took off, I thought, "Thank goodness, the waiting is finally over! We'll be matched in no time!"

Yep. I really thought that.


Go ahead. You're allowed to call me crazy on this one. I just really thought I'd have more control.

Just like NaPro, when you first pursue adoption, it's busy busy busy. Fill out this form, now fill out a hundred more, get some background checks, find some references, let us inspect your home, now how about you make a profile that details exactly who you and your spouse are in 10 pages or less?

Another case of a lot to take in at once! I can remember looking at the checklist of what we had to do to be approved to adopt and just feeling way overwhelmed. But over time, piece by piece, of course you get through it. And then, just like the NaPro treatments, things suddenly really slowwww dowwwwn. You go from barely having time to breath between all the checks on the checklist to, "Wait, where did everyone go?"

After you hand in that big stack and you social worker says APPROVED, that's it. The lonnnnng silence, as I like to call it, begins. Days feel like weeks, weeks like YEARS. I'm serious. We'll go two weeks without hearing from the agency and it'll feel like an eeeeeternity!

Are catching the similarities here?

I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. In my opinion, the motto for adoption and, now that I think of it, NaPro treatments too, should be "Hurry Up and Wait!"

Sure, not everyone has had the same NaPro or adoption experience as us. Some folks get pregnant or adopt like that. But definitely in our case, it's all a big waiting game right now.

Or I suppose, if we want to call it what it really is... it's all about learning patience right now.

A friend of mine recently opened up to me about her struggles with infertility. She told me she just prayed and prayed and prayed for patience. And then, after quite some time of trying, she finally found herself pregnant. Though, as her little ones came along, she found that her prayers didn't change at all. Patience, patience, patience is still her number one petition to this day.

So, I suppose all this NaPro and adoption waiting has something to do with that. The "p" word. 'Cause God sure knows the need for patience won't go away once cute kiddos come along.

But still. First with NaPro, now with adoption... can't there be something happening in my life that doesn't also have to teach me a lesson in patience?


And now, let's wrap up with a "While We Waited" tradition. At the end of each of her pregnancy update posts, blogger Mama Holi answers the same 17 pregnancy-related questions to log all the changes and ups and downs of her pregnancy. Well, that inspired me to do the same, but obviously not about pregnancy. So, I tweaked the questions quite a bit (for example, adoption doesn't change the innie- or outtie-ness of a belly button, so I probably don't need to answer a question about my bellybutton every time) and made myself a cute little way to keep track of the changes and ups and downs of our adoption journey! Let's give it a whirl...

How far along? 1 month of waiting so far.
Best moment of this week? Connecting with a bunch of really great future-adoptive mamas online through a google hangout chat! It's so lovely to talk to ladies who really get what I'm going through.
Worst moment of this week? Sorry to be vague, I may post more about it later this week, but having to make a really tough decision regarding a potential adoption.
Mood? Pretty at peace right now. Trying to embrace the one-on-one time with John while it still lasts. But I also still have a little case of "hurry up already!" Normal.
Any word from the agency? Yes! The special ringtone on my phone went off and my heart JUMPED out of my chest!! We were presented with a birthmom and baby situation, but ultimately nothing panned out.
Boy or girl? We're open to either! But husband not-so-secretly hopes it's a boy.
Most excited about? Meeting our forever baby, duh!
Biggest fear? Not bonding like we're supposed to with our little kiddo. I'm reading up on it now! For sure, I want to do this right! I talked to John about it earlier this week and he said he's super excited to wear our baby around in one of those "masculine baby carriers." That made me smile lots! And made me a little less worried about bonding. Skin-to-skin contact with the baby is huge! We'll be pros, right? (Anyone have attachment advice for us?)
Distractions? Lots of good ones coming up! A hands-on Moroccan cooking class with John at Whole Foods and his 31st birthday party in the works. Distraction is my middle name right now. Let's keep piling the fun stuff on while we wait! And also, that way we'll get it out of our systems before baby arrives.
Looking forward to? Hearing from the agency again! I pray it happens soon!

(PS - All "waiting" future adoptive moms or dads have my complete permission (and encouragement!) to use this on their blog or facebook or whatevs. :) Steal away!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Little Happies -- The John Strikes Back

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Stephi Programming to bring you some Johnny programming instead.  Prepare for this to be somewhat more video-game-centric than normal.


Look at those animals!

Memphis Zoo
This one was actually an Unexpected Little Happy, which to my estimation is perhaps the best kind.  You see, we took her youth group to the Zoo this week.  In Memphis.  In July.  For those of you who live in other parts of the country, this means that it should have been Hot.  As in walk-on-burning-coals-while-eating-a-raw-habanero-while-wearing-your-thickest-parka hot.  With a bunch of teenagers. I believe that I can be pardoned for not having this high on my list of things to which I was looking forward.  And then we went, and it was awesome.  It was warm, but not thermonuclear, the teenagers were awesome, and I got to have a heart-to-heart bro moment with a red panda named Justin (we looked at each other, directly in the eyes, for a good 30 seconds - I think Justin and I got each other, we really did).


All celebration involves food, ever noticed?  There's a Catholic theological point in there, I think

3rd Anniversary Brunch
This upcoming Wednesday marks the beginning of our 4th year of marriage, and, honestly, that's a Big Happy, which is cheating, I know.  Guilty.  I'll pick those low-hanging fruit if you leave them sitting there.  But we decided that we were going to be celebrating for several days, since I would be working on our actual anniversary, and sharing this experience with my Special Somebody provided a memory which will help buoy me through the rest of the week (if not much longer!), so on the list it goes.  It's at an old, converted beauty shop, and they do a killer brunch.  I got pulled pork and plum eggs benedict, she got upscale migas.


Defy Those Gender Stereotypes

Darkest Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Ever
So, I love chocolate and my wife doesn't much care for it.  True, somewhat sad, slightly gender-stereotype-bending story.  Why does she get up in the morning?  Probably just love in general, I guess, but it's not love for chocolate, like the rest of us.   We had a fun little get-together to go to this past weekend, and we had one job: bring dessert.  I hadn't used the ol' faithful ice cream maker in a little while anyway, so this turned into the perfect excuse to dig it out of the back of the freezer.  So of course I chose the one in the book that was entitled the Darkest Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Ever (or something like that, don't quote me).  I had never made it before, somehow, and it just leaped out, almost challenging me to verify its claim.  I honestly cannot say if it's the darkest ever (I haven't had them all yet, working on it), but I can say it was awesome.  That pic is the ice cream in question, spinning its way to a happy place in my memory and stomach.


Actually, Go Ahead and Reinforce Those Gender Stereotypes ("Boys Like Games")

This Game (Dungeons of Dredmor)

I did promise you all some video games, after all.  I discovered this little (actually quite deep) gem this week.  It's in a genre that is awkwardly denominated "Rogue-like-likes" (seriously, never have a discussion with anyone on the internet about the etymology of the name, it is a bridge to nowhere) that have a common theme of algorithmically generated levels that are never the same twice as well as usually being very difficult and usually involving perma-death of your character if you lose.  The fun in these kinds of things is not actually in beating the game (which is often exceedingly difficult) but in how you play the game - go in with a sense of adventure, a desire to understand the systems at play and how they interact in a way that pleases and challenges you, and try to get as far as you can with the things with which you're arbitrarily provided, and you'll have fun!  Kind of like life, actually - and that's probably why people like them.  It's a little microcosm.  Anyway, I had picked this up in a bundle of games a while back but never played it yet (go check out when they have a bundle going on if you never want to run out of things to play, then do that about 8 times, and you'll see what I mean).  I saw it just sitting there, uninstalled this week while I was waiting for my wife to finish something for a few minutes, installed it, and was insta-hooked.  If only it were co-op, and if only Stephi had interest in geeky PC games... work on her, blogosphere!  Also, it endears me that the male character has breathtaking eyebrows, and the female character is a redhead.

Ok, that's all I've got.  Well, it's not really all I've got, but it's all I've got pictures for.  If one of you gets hooked on Dungeons of Dredmor, my job here is complete.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hoboken & New York!

Two weeks ago, we took a little vacation out to Hoboken to visit John's aunt and uncle, who are super hip and totally rock at city living. Though they don't live in New York City, they both work in NYC and are a super short ferry ride, bus ride, or sub ride (the options!) away. If I'm being honest, I actually liked Hoboken a little better than NYC. (Don't hate me!) It's just... slower, but still with lots of great dining options and cool stuff within walking distance. However, that doesn't mean we didn't live it up doing NYC stuff: shows, delicious food, shopping, a museum... we fit in as much as we could with the 3 days we had and it was honestly perfect!

We left Memphis Monday evening and as soon as we got to the airport, things started to get delayed, like really delayed. Our 2 hour layover quickly got gobbled up by bad weather and turned into a 1/2 hour layover, and then by the time the plane landed in Chicago, we basically had no layover and ended up being those people who had to run to their gate. Winded and sweaty, we arrived at the gate only to see our New York plane hanging out, but with doors shut. Womp womp, no luck for us. Once those doors are shut, they don't open 'em for nobody. And it was late, around 9pm, so no other flights were headed to NYC that night. Stuck in Chicago we were! 

We made the best of it by kindly talking a Southwest rep into getting us a hotel room for the night. Turns out, if you're really calm and polite with your request, they'll likely oblige! Woohoo free hotel room! I spent the rest of the night gorging myself on HGTV and the Food Network and it felt so good. The next morning we woke at 3:30am (oof) to catch our 6am flight and made it to New York around 9am. Not too bad, considering most of the time we missed in New York would have been sleeping time anyway. 

While waiting for our bags, we noticed a dressed up dude holding a sign that had our last name on it! I definitely felt like a celebrity for a second. Turns out, John's aunt had gotten us car service, pretty neat. And this guy definitely gave us a proper tour of the city as he drove us through to Hoboken. Swerving in and out of lanes, riding the bumpers in front of him, going a little too fast most of the time... it was actually a fun welcome to the big apple, no joke!

But obviously, the real fun started when we finally arrived at John's aunt and uncle's house in Hoboken! We started off our adventures right by going to the most delicious Italian sandwich shop ever and enjoyed our yummies overlooking the Hudson River in a park on the Hoboken side. Delightful!

After lunch, that 3:30am wake-up call really started to catch up with us, so we relaxed a bit by unpacking and then passed out for a few hours. Man, vacations are awesome!

Later, we headed into the city for dinner and a show and I took this panorama at the ferry station. We were still in Hoboken and NYC is across the river in the background.

Dinner was at a delicious Italian restaurant, Scarlatto's, near all the Broadway shows. The salmon and gnocchi were fantastic! (Side note -- I totally ditched the diet for this trip. Not sorry.)

And once dinner wrapped up, we made our way over to Once the Musical. It was SO good! All of the musicians were also actors in the show. So much talent! And the live music was gorgeous. Plus, the stage is a bar that you can actually go up on and order drinks from before it starts or during intermission, so that was neat! This show is a traveling one now, so if it comes to your city, I highly recommend it!

The next day, we met up with John's aunt at work on the 27th floor of a very tall building in NYC. The view was pretty neat.

And then we all walked around Rockefeller Plaza and ate lunch at a tasty French bistro place called Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe. I noticed a delicious looking bakery next door, Bouchon, so right after lunch, I popped in there and got myself some macarons and a flavored green tea. Let's just say I'm officially addicted to macarons now. It's a good thing no one in Memphis sells them. A really good thing.

With delicious treats in hand, we walked around a bit and found...

A giant bush shaped like an animal's head, right near the Rockefeller ice skating rink.

Aunt Mary, Uncle Tom, and John

St. Patrick's Cathedral, majorly under construction. Since I had my macarons and green tea with me, we weren't able to explore the inside. Bummer town. But the short glimpses we got were gorgeous, construction and all.

Uniqlo, a HUGE Japanese clothing store, now selling very affordable fashionable clothes in the U.S. We didn't buy anything. It was just a wild experience taking it all in.

And then we went for more of a walk by Central Park and landed at the Shops at Columbus Circle, where I bought a pinkish red lip treatment from Sephora and we got some drinks at Center Bar, a little bar with a sweet view.

We made our way back toward Hoboken just in time to catch an old friend and community member from my Jesuit Volunteer Corps days. We decided to grab dinner on a boat that rides along the Hudson river, the North River Lobster Company. The food was yum, the sunset was gorg, and catching up with an old friend was lovely.

My friend and old JVC community member, Katie!

Unintentionally photo bombed.

After dinner wrapped up, we headed back into Hoboken via ferry and felt very proud of our independence, figuring out the transportation system on our own. So, it was only natural to treat ourselves to some froyo once on the other side of the river. We relaxed on a bench on the pier, froyo in hand, NYC as our backdrop... it was a lovely way to end the evening.

Breakfast the next morning was at a fantastic Cuban place in Hoboken, La Isla Restaurant, a restaurant featured on that Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I wish I had gotten a picture because it was probably my favorite meal of the whole trip. Tourist fail!

We spent our last afternoon of vacation at the Cloisters, a museum in northern Manhattan, and branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum was put together by Rockefeller himself, and what makes it super neat is that the building is made up of parts of 5 different Cloistered abbeys from various countries that he purchased over time, shipped over to the U.S., and rebuilt, brick by brick, in NYC.  The museum also features approximately five thousand European medieval works of art, mostly Christian artwork.

The little outdoor spaces, called cloisters, tucked into parts of the building, were my favorite. 

This doorway was pretty neat. And old!

Then again, the old statues were wonderful too!

And the old stained glass windows.

Entire chapels transported over from Europe.

John acting like a monk in the recreated monastery gardens. 

Actually, maybe the gardens were my favorite part. They had all the plants in different sections (kitchen herbs, plants used in brewing beer, a medicinal garden), and it was fun to see what types of plants they used for various things. There were even some poisonous plants in the mix!

And apparently, they would grow fruit-yielding plants like you see in the picture below in order for the branches to all receive the best sunlight and therefore produce the most fruit. It required meticulous grooming of the plant. I love the geometricalness of it. 

The boys found the hops plant and then hung out underneath it.

More artwork, including a gorgeous tapestry there on the left.

Another gorgeous chapel.

Another little outdoor walkway.

Seriously, yet another gorgeous chapel.

And a beautiful view of the Hudson River from an outdoor patio. Apparently, in addition to the space he purchased to build the museum, Rockefeller also purchased all the land across the river from the Cloisters so that it would have a perfect, uninterrupted view. See? Nothing behind us! That type of empty space is unheard of in NYC!

Oh, look! A bridge!

And a view of the Cloisters from the outside.

After our museum trip, I obviously had to make one more stop at my favorite Italian deli, Vito's. And pose for a picture.

I know I've posted this before, but LOOK AT THIS SANDWICH AGAIN!!!

Roasted red peppers, fresh (made in-house) mozzarella, pesto, that bread!!

We took a pre-dinner break and just chillaxed for a while. I may have napped. It was probably glorious.

Then, we headed back into the city for our last NYC meal at Marseille, a really fun (and, of course, tasty) French Bistro.

And our uncle had bought us tickets to a jazz club, Birdland, so we headed there next and saw Tierney Sutton do her jazz thang. She covered lots of Joni Mitchell music, even one heart wrenching song about Joni Mitchell choosing to place her daughter for adoption. Whew. Barely made it through that one without a tear. It was wonderful.

And that was it!

We made our way back to Memphis the next morning, tummies full, hearts happy, and adventure accomplished.

Pretty much everything you see here, all of our NYC adventures, were suggested to us by John's aunt and uncle, so we really have them to majorly thank for such a fantastic trip! Good food, brilliant shows, a very Catholic museum... let's just say they know us well.

And, of course, his aunt and uncle have already invited us back for another visit because we hardly saw a fraction of a fraction of what the city has to offer. I mean, I didn't even lay my eyes on the Statue of Liberty. I know!! Crazy, right? But also a great excuse to return.

They also invited us on a joint Caribbean vacation, so I suppose we'll just have to do that too.

But for a good while now, we'll just be spending our time at home in Memphis, adventuring around town, relaxing when we can, staying put so that we're ready as soon as our adoption agency calls.

And that's all good. Because honestly, stay-cations can be just as awesome as vacations. And I'm thinking adoption is worth staying put for. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...