rockefeller center

mar & dar’s christmas train

Last week, my mom and I played my favorite game of tourist and took a ride into the big city to see the tree and the lights of midtown. It wouldn’t be Christmas around these parts if I didn’t have at least one post with pictures of crowds of people, lights, over the top decorations and probably a taxi or two. This time you aren’t getting any taxis, but I think I got everything else covered.

We wanted to hit Macy’s first and work our way up to Rockefeller, but for whatever reason we decided to forego 34th Street and go straight to the epicenter of Christmas. the tree, if you didn’t know.

Saks was the first stop on the Mar and Dar Christmas train and, without being too dramatic, I was in awe. Maybe it’s the kid in me, maybe I get distracted too easily by bright colors and sparkly things (true and true), whatever it is, Saks made me smile immediately.

No trip to 5th Avenue would be complete without a stop at Saint Pat’s so that’s where we headed next. They weren’t all Christmassed out yet but SPC is a beaut with or without poinsettias and greenery.

By the time we lit some candles and doused ourselves in holy water it was time to get a move on. The sky was a bit ominous and we weren’t prepared for rain. The tree was our next stop. Tourist central. We felt right at home.

The best thing about going so early in the season is that even though there are crowds, they’re not unbearable. Last year I was walking down 5th Ave with my mom, my aunt and my cousins. We got sucked into the crush between 47th and 50th Street. Behind me, in the throng, a woman say, to no one in particular, “This must thin out near the tree”. this poor tourist, I thought. I turned as much as the crowd would allow, chuckled and said, “um. try 52nd Street.” She gasped. I smiled. And another Christmas memory was made.

Our final stop was Bryant Park. I love Christmas in Bryant Park. There’s so much going on but it’s not crazy. The shopping, the eating, the skating- you can’t go wrong. Even if you’re like me and only eat and shop. I wanted to get to Bryant Park because I saw on Instagram that Melsy’s Illustrations was going to be there and I wanted to check out her stuff in person.

My mom and I walked around, checking out the other booths, trying to get some giftsipration and because try as we might, it’s been tough getting into the Christmas spirit this year. For me, it’s no other reason except it’s all going too fast. There’s only 16 days until Christmas, guys. 16 days. i can’t.

Finally, we found the Melsy’s Illustrations booth. I love her Instagram, but I loooove her stuff in person. It’s all so me. Anyway, her booth was busy and space is at a premium so my mom and I waited outside until it calmed down a bit. While we were waiting a woman came over to tell us that all of the available illustrations were in the binder near the door, if we wanted to look while we wait. We started talking and it turns out that nice lady was Jamel’s mom. She told us that this was her passion and she finally took the plunge, quit her 9-5 job and starting doing this full time. #goals. 

I seriously loved everything in her shop, but I finally decided on this one. I’m going to hang it over my computer for inspiration. blogspiration, if you will. follow my passionspiration, if you also will. 

Mine is a brunette, because after I eventually get my grays covered and highlights toned, so am I.

I also fell in love with this one because a bun is my go-to “I want to feel like a Kardashian” look. And my “get this mop off of my neck” look. It’s so versatile.

 

Her mom was so nice and had the best Boston accent. My mom mentioned my love of photography and, in true mom fashion, they started talking about us and how it’s great that we have things that we love to do and do well at.

click this photo to go over to the Melsy’s Illustrations Etsy page! she didn’t ask me to link it or anything, i just really like her stuff and wanted to share!

The booth traffic finally let up enough for me and my mom to go in and meet Jamel. She couldn’t have been nicer, seriously. I told her I follow her on Instagram and she was so appreciative. As we were leaving, they mentioned getting the truffle fries from the homefrite booth. Naturally, the Mar and Dar Christmas train had to make a pitstop. 

I told my mom I needed to incorporate these and the lemon garlic aioli into my everyday diet. She gave me THE LOOK, I rolled my eyes and another Christmas memory was made.

Our last stop was Lord and Taylor’s windows. These are usually my favorites but this year, I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t impressed. It was an enchanted forest theme (yass!), which when done right, could be amazing. I’m not sure if the windows weren’t totally done or what, but there were some things that were lacking. Mainly, they had “The Enchanted Forest” written on the bottom of each window, but on at least one of the windows, it looked like it was either coming off or it wasn’t put on correctly. Either way, they were really cute and Lord and Taylor still wins in my book. I’m sure they were super concerned about my opinion and couldn’t wait to get my verdict.

As much as I wanted to push my mom to either Uber down to Macy’s or up to Bergdorfs, I was ready to go home, get in my pajamas and finish the Gilmore Girls revival – which is exactly what we did.

weekend update: food, friends and billy joel

It’s weekend recap time! Let’s pretend I do these almost every weekend instead of almost never. So, it was a lot of nothing/lot of everything kind of weekend. I mean, the usual.

Friday: Billy Joel has a residency at Madison Square Garden. He does one concert a month, which he said he would do until people stopped coming. like that will ever happen. I got tickets to the May show. I’m going to take a sharp left here and not ramble for a million hours about this concert. i’m going to try to, anyway. I’m going to take another left and just put it out there that I do not have tons of pictures to share from the show. gasp! Actually, I DO have a ton of pictures but they’re mostly blurry, colorful dots. My seat was close enough to watch but not close enough for decent pictures. If I wasn’t so nervous about it being confiscated, I would have brought my new mirrorless camera. It’s for the best because if I did, the whole post would have been Billy’s bald head.

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What I love about Billy Joel is he’s all about New York. Like Springsteen has Asbury Park, Billy has Oysta Bay, Lawn Guyland. (Oyster Bay, Long Island – for the non-natives). He still lives out there and can be found out and about around town. He seems like a truly nice guy and very down to Earth. He never forgot where he came from (maybe because he never left), which is big in my book. Since it is Fleet Week, there was a group of sailors at the show. Bill had them all come up during Goodnight Saigon and then thanked and shook each one of their hands. Coincidentally, the best pictures I took that night were from this moment.

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It turns out that Carson Daly was also at this show. So, you know, typical Friday night, hanging with Bill, Carson and 18,000 of our closest friends. Speaking of our 18,000 friends, I think one of the coolest moments of my life was standing there, listening to Billy Joel sing Piano Man along with all of Madison Square Garden. I mean, I’ve sung along to I Want It That Way with 4 of 5 Backstreet Boys and all of Nassau Coliseum, but this trumps it by a loooong shot.

Saturday was a whole bunch of nothing. I went to work, came home and emptied my DVR. the roller coaster of life, my friends.

Sunday I worked again then came home and got ready to go out for Nicole’s birthday. Her birthday was Friday but I was indisposed and she had family plans so Sunday it was. We went to a beer garden in Park Slope with the best tater tots I’ve ever had. They were shaped like Tetris pieces – a party for the eyes and mouth! We played a rousing game of cornhole, where the most un-athletic person in the place (me) was on the winning team.

To round out the weekend, on Monday, I took a trip with Lisa to the city. She had to drop something off for work and after we just walked around. The city was empty, which was amazing. Summer is definitely on its way because the humidity was high, which brings out all the best city smells.

I can’t say I’m ready for work tomorrow, but are you ever really ready to go to work? Nah.

What did you do this weekend?

Fill me in!

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photo dump: better late than never!

How has Christmas come and gone already? I hope everyone’s holiday was great. Filled with lots of love, food and presents. I just wanted to share two things. One is a really quick “aww” moment and the other is a collection of pictures I took before the holiday that I hadn’t gotten a chance to post until now. Better late than never, right?

So, the aww moment happened on Christmas morning. My mom’s aunt, who is either in her late 80’s or early 90’s called to wish my family a Merry Christmas. After my mom filled her in a bit on her siblings and asked for her cousin, Aunt Margie asked about me and my cousins. Being the cute, little old school Italian lady that she is, she wanted to know if I had a boyfriend. Normally I’d have to roll my eyes at this question. Except when it’s from an adorable aunt. She didn’t ask my mom outright if I had a boyfriend or if I was seeing somebody, the way she put it was “Is Martina keeping company with anybody?” Is she not the cutest? First of all, I love older phrases like that. Like pillbox hats and ballgowns with gloves; very vintage. Second, it’s so to the point. It’s not like the term “hooking up”, which means 100 different things depending on who you ask. Anyway, I just thought it was cute and thought I’d share.

Next are some pictures I took last week when I was in the city (yes, again). Basic stuff. Bryant Park, the tree, candles at Saint Patrick’s (i have to go back. i got kicked out because a mass was starting), a Christmas Village in the basement of an ornament store. Good stuff. sidenote: what better place for a Christmas village than an ornament store? this year was the first year and i really think they should keep it going. until it gets mobbed and noone could breathe or move down there.

The village was really cute. I got tickets on Groupon for $15. Totally worth it. They were originally $30. I probably wouldn’t go that high. Or if I paid full price I would have been a little disappointed. I mean, it was cute but it was literally in the basement of an ornament store. It wasn’t a show or anything, just a quick (or slow) walk-through.

How was your Christmas? Did Santa treat you well?

Let’s discuss!

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last leg of the tour!

Here is, as promised, the final installment of the 5th Avenue tour. I wouldn’t leave you wandering around and since you paid for it, you should get it. If you haven’t paid, let me know and I’ll give you my PayPal email.

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Anyway, this last part will be a collection of things. We have to backtrack to the tree but, like I said before, we’re saving the best for last. By now we’ve watched the light show at Saks and have somehow have been carried by the crowd and are now standing across the street from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. She’s a beauty.

They’re holding a mass, so we can’t go in for picture taking. It’s totally worth a return trip though. It’s time to turn around and get swept up in the tree crowd again. Ready? Hold on tight.

TA-DA!

It’s a real beaut, Clark. All SPRUCE(d) up and looking good!

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That concludes this tour of 5th Ave at Christmas.Please remember all of your belongings and to tip your driver. As a bonus, here’s a picture of the stars at the Shops at Columbus Circle. They aren’t on 5th but I love them and wanted to share.

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FESTIVE.

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photo dump: flatiron to fifth avenue

What do you get when you mix two single gals, New York City and a camera?

THIS POST, THAT’S WHAT.

The other night, Lisa and I found ourselves venturing into the city. Our plan was to get soup and then frozen yogurt. And, in case you were wondering, yes, we were fully aware that it was 90 degrees and humid out. We even had a conversation about how making good decisions is not on our list of marketable skills. But really, when Tomato Cheddar is soup of the month, the bad decision would be not to get the soup.

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We got off at 14th Street/ Union Square and headed off to find soup nirvana. We noticed a group of fire engines on the block of the soup place.

Lisa: Oh, that’s definitely Hale and Hearty.

Me: No it can’t be.

Lisa: Totally is.

We get closer and we notice that the fire department set up caution tape right in front of the soup place.

Lisa: I told you it was Hale and Hearty.

Me: Ugh.

For a brief second I contemplated hopping the caution tape and getting the soup anyway. Then I realized that my foot would 100% get stuck and New York City’s Bravest (and hottest, if you ask me) would get to watch me eat the pavement. not a good look.

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It turns out that there was falling debris from the top of the building. As far as I know, no one was hurt except me and Lisa because we were denied our beloved Tomato Cheddar.

After dinner we took a walk over to the Flatiron Building. From there, our excellent decision making skills kicked in again and we started to walk to Rockefeller Center. Just for a point of reference, the Flatiron is on 23rd Street and Rockefeller is on 45th. You do the math, because we didn’t.

We tried to get a cupcake and a cup of coffee before we headed home, as per usual, but Crumbs had the nerve to be in the process of closing for the night. I mean, what is this? Don’t they know that there’s a possibility that two psychos from Brooklyn may need a sugar fix at 10pm? city that never sleeps, my ass. 

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As I was going through the pictures I took I was thinking that if Taylor Swift needs some assistance in her role as New York City’s Ambassador, maybe Lisa and I could help. Sooo… Taylor, if the pressures of the job get to be too much, just know that we gladly volunteer to lend a hand. Just as long as Lisa gets to play with Olivia and Meredith and I get to meet Harry Styles. Or Ed Sheeran, at least. It’s up to you, just let us know.

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merry new york christmas!

Before I begin, I wanted to thank everyone who read and shared my last post. It was hard for me to publish because, like I said, it is such a hot button issue. Thanks again and I hope you enjoyed it.

Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve and, believe it or not, I’m still not feeling the Christmas spirit. I’m starting to think that I’m in that in-between stage where I’m not a kid but I also don’t have kids. You know?

This past weekend I went into the city with Jessica and Nicole to see the windows at Saks, Lord and Taylor and Macys. We also went to Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center. It was crowded and chilly. You would think it was Christmas time in New York or something ;).

I don’t have time to write much, but I thought I’d share the pictures of the windows in hopes of getting myself more in the mood. So without further ado, here they are!

Macys:

Bryant Park:

Lord & Taylor:

The Library:

Saks:

Rockefeller Center:

(All pictures were edited with PicMonkey)

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from our home to yours!

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merry new york christmas!

Last week I ventured in to the big ol’ city to see the Rockettes at Radio City. I haven’t seen the show in quite some time and honestly, I couldn’t remember it at all. That’s the beauty of getting old – old things become new again.

We took the express bus in to the city and from the minute we disembarked from the bus and on the the sidewalks of 6th Avenue, my mother grabbed my arm as if her life depended on it. One thing about my mom is, she is not a particularly nervous person so I have no idea where this came from. We got to the corner right in front of Radio City and we got separated (read: I wriggled out from her grasp). There was a huge group of out of towners on the corner being very out of town like* and I had to maneuver around them to cross the street. When I finally got across, I found my mother and the look on her face was a mix of sheer panic and relief that we were reunited. Needless to say, this will be the last time for a long time that we make a trip to the city together.

*I have to make this announcement right here, right now. If you are not from any of the five boroughs and decide to make a trip to New York City with either your whole family or the entire congregation of your church, please heed my advice. The city is an extremely busy place, where people just GO. If you are lost, or if people are missing from your group, please move to the side and wait for them. DO NOT wait en masse on the corner of any intersection. DO NOT wait en masse in the middle of any sidewalk. You all have cellphones, move over or duck into a store and make a phone call. They will find you. Also, I’m all for taking pictures and I totally understand and appreciate the beauty that is New York City, however there is an art to doing it. Do it fast and, if you can, do it on the move. hustle, hustle, hustle! Practice taking pictures while walking before you get here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy tourists. I really do think you guys are a big part of the appeal of the city. Especially when you point to the Chrysler building excitedly and exclaim how beautiful the Empire State Building is. Warms my heart.

Anyway, we make it to the entrance for ticket holders and we try to find somewhere to wait for my aunt that was coming from the other direction (read: Staten Island). It started to snow pretty hard by this point so we hugged the building and hoped she’d get there soon.

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After my aunt arrived, we headed through security and into the warmth of Radio City. It’s beautiful. It’s old and ornate and just ugh. lovely.

The chandelier was all crystal snowflakes. Each one different from the next, as snowflakes are. It sparkled like you wouldn’t believe. Honestly, I would have stood there for the hour and a half and just watched it twirl. Which I hope was on purpose because if not, someone better look in to that.

The recording that was playing outside and all through the lobby was pretty emphatic about no flash photography or video during the performance. So like the good little girl I am, I tucked my phone and my camera in my bag and waited for the show to begin. The man in front of me, however, did not. He took pictures without flash AND VIDEO of the whole show. And he had a nice, big DSLR camera so his photos were quality. I was highly annoyed. (Had this been a Disney on Broadway show, his ass would have been on the street before Santa could say HO HO HO) Finally, towards the end I noticed cellphones popping up and no wardens ushers telling anyone to put them away. I took this as my cue to whip my phone out and take some shots. don’t mind if i do.

I know they’re blurry, but had I known I wouldn’t get thrown in Radio City jail for bringing my big DSLR camera, they would have been better.

After the show ended we had some time before our reservation so we went to see the tree. I’m noticing as I write this that I’m using terms that only people from the area would use. THE city, THE tree. It almost diminishes the magnitude of what they are. (I know I must be coming off as highly ego centric or hometown centric and I apologize.) What’s so great about a tree?

THIS. this is what is so great about a tree.

She’s a real beaut, Clarke. – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

While we were at the tree my mom did the whole vice grip on my arm thing again and kept asking me if I was OK.

Mom: Are you OK?

Me: Yep

two minutes later…

Mom: Are you OK?

Me: I just tripped over a small child because you’re insisting that we literally stick together, but yea I’m fine.

two minutes later…

Mom: Are you OK?

Me: Yes, Mom. Are YOU ok?

We all ducked into the NBC Experience store because back in the day, it used to be a really cool place. They used to give tours, let you do the weather, sit at Leno’s (?) desk. Not anymore, but we made the best of it.

On our way to dinner we passed one of my favorite light displays in the city (after the windows and the tree)

The BAWLS, the LIGHTS, and those majestic looking REINDEER!

After dinner we headed back to the bus to go home. I looked up at one of the buildings across from us and saw that the Empire State Building was reflected on to the building. All of a sudden my inner Annie Liebovitz came out and I needed a picture. More regret that I was without my nice DSLR.

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The bus came and we got on, therefore essentially ending our adventure. It was a great time and can’t wait to do the same in the spring because the Rockettes are doing a new show all about New York City. Minus the tree, the lights and the other holiday goodness, of course.

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It’s Christmas Time Again!

With mere minutes left until Christmas (21 to be exact!), and the fact that I have been totally deficient in posting on here, I figured I should kill two birds with one stone and write something festive.

SOMETHING FESTIVE.

Ha! You had to see that one coming.

Anyway, in the spirit of the season I thought I would write about some of my favorite things. Without further ado here are

Martina’s Favorite Things : Christmas Edition

1. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)- How perfect is this movie? First of all, it’s a John Hughes production. I know, I should stop right there- but there’s more! Second, it’s set in New York (where else?) AT CHRISTMAS TIME. Third, two words – DYLAN MCDERMOTT. And finally, well two things actually, there are old fashioned taxis all over the place. Where did they come from? And can we have them back? Also, can we talk about Mrs. Walker’s ring at the end? Way to go Mr. Bedford.  One last thing (I promise!), the head of makeup for this wonderful Christmas gem was Ben Nye Jr. Perfect.

2. Rockefeller Center- Ok I know, the crowds suck. They really, really do. But that’s all the more reason to practice your New York strut. Getting through the crowds like a New Yorker doesn’t mean to push or get crazy. You have to be agile and take every open opportunity. Basically, don’t be an animal. Also keep in mind that in this case the ends will certainly justify the means.

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BAM!

3. Chocolate Chip Cookies – I try to make them every year. Then I try not to eat them all.

4. My Christmas tree – A few years ago I challenged my mom to decorate our tree with only lights and bows and those sparkly stick things. To no surprise of my own, she totally skilled it. So now, we only decorate with lights and bows and sparkly stick things. Sometimes I miss our ornaments since they all had meaning but then I turn on my tree and see the whole living room light up and sparkle and it makes me happy. I could always visit the other ornaments in the basement.

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LOOK AT MY TREE!

4.5 Speaking of trees,

5. Like I could really limit myself to 5 things. The food, the friends and family.My aunt’s cookie tray, the meatballs, the manicotti, and antipasta. The sparkle, the magic. The gifts, the traditions. The movies, the songs. The Christmas specials of my favorite TV shows. The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime movies. The surprises, the wrapping paper. The good cheer and the warm fuzzies.  You get the idea.

It is now officially Christmas! I guess I should get to bed or else Santa won’t come. 😉

On an unrelated note before I go, does anyone know how to personalize these posts? I just learned how to download fonts and would love to use them on here but I don’t know how to do that. If nothing else, is there a way to change the color of the letters? Let me know!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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The only way to get pictures of Central Park in the snow is…

It’s a well known fact that I hate snow. I am a summer baby who lives for the 3 short months where jackets and long pants are not a requirement. So can someone tell me why I decided to accept and invitation to trek into Manhattan in a snowstorm? I was lured by the beauty of Central Park, the freshly fallen snow, and the many photo opportunities that lie within those two things. I received a DSLR camera from my parents for my college graduation, which was four years ago -yikes!, and I haven’t really flexed it’s muscles.

Anyway, I decided to go. I got ready, made sure everything was charged. I can’t tell you how many times I go out with every intention to take tons of pictures and 10 minutes later my battery light is blinking (Backstreet Boys 2010 concert, for example). I picked up my friend and off we went.

For some reason I thought, and I tend to do this often being an only child, that the city would be cleared of snow. Wrong. We came out of the train and were pelted with those small, sharp snowflakes that always seem to get you right in the eye. These are not the magical, floating, fluffy snowflakes that winter dreams are made of. Walking the 5ish blocks from the train to the park was not easy. I am one of those people who are in complete denial that the winter brings cold weather so I am totally unprepared for it when it comes. I have a nice warm jacket and tons of decorative scarfs but that’s where it ends. So, there we were trudging towards the park through the wind and snow, me in just a jacket and EMU boots. Needless to say, it took about 10 minutes for my feet to be frozen and wet and for my jacket to be covered in sharp snowflakes. I wish I got it on video; I’d be a Youtube sensation.

The park was packed with children and their parents on sleds and those frisbee things (Tobogans? I don’t know, I think I’ve played in the snow once.), runners (that’s dedication), and people doing exactly what we were – being there just to be there.

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My camera is a Nikon D3000 in case you were wondering. I really like it but I kind of wish it had video capability just because but it’s fine. I’ll live. Admittedly, I kept it on Automatic mode but considering I was getting pelted with death star snowflakes and it was the first time I was using it for something other than family parties and holidays I don’t think I could have handled playing around with the other settings.

I wish we could have done more in the park but it was getting dark out and we decided that it was time to move on. Since we didn’t want to go home yet we got back on the train and headed for Times Square and the tree. Times Square was, thankfully, not the mob scene it usually is. Snow- 1, Tourists – 0.

The tree was fantastic. If you’ve never been, go.

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We didn’t get a chance to do Bryant Park or the windows which was a bit of a bummer but I could always go back. I have tons of time, right?

Hope you enjoyed my second official post. Ciao for now!

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