NYC digressions

*I think helping a neighbor’s son with his common college application essay may have prompted this post. Hmmmm…

Ahhh, the BIG apple! This infamous city has grown on me.

The first time I set foot in Manhattan in 2004 I wasn’t smitten. I found NYC to be overwhelming, smelly, crass, and packed to the seams with people, honking taxis, and obnoxious sounds. It kinda frightened me; it was sensory overload. I sat on the red double decker tour bus, amazed at the sights yet feeling incredibly small under the soaring buildings we passed. A vivid memory from the trip was a taxi ride. I recall jumping in a cab near Central Park during an intense thunderstorm one hot August afternoon. The welcome relief from the humid, wet air was short lived; the driver roared the car toward a massive puddle, and the water shot up like a tsunami to soak a dozen smartly dressed professionals waiting to cross the street. The driver deviously laughed as the people yelled obscenities at us. I sat back, silent, as I watched horns pop out of the driver’s temple. I was horrified.

Okay… I may have exaggerated one part. Regardless, it left a lasting impression.

In retrospect, I have realized something (call it self-reflection): I was young and naive and uncultured. No that doesn’t excuse the taxi driver’s actions…. New York City was nothing like my innocent Disney-esque hometown Orlando or any “biggish city” that I ;had ever been to. Heck, I was a naive young 20-something living in the middle of New Hampshire at the time! I had a bubble complex. I was unaccustomed to the “hard knock life” of big cities.

Since then, however, I’ve blossomed into a foodie, obsessed with farm to table cuisine and international dishes; I consider myaself an adventurer who longs to travel and embrace the change and tastes of unfamiliar places. I have since seen and experienced much more of the world. In short,  I now have an intense curiosity: I am a wanderlust.

Perhaps my 2004 NYC trip was the turning point?

Since then I’ve visited  other true big cities like London, Rome, Florence, and Barcelona. I’ve become more confident in foreign situations, like navigating large unfamiliar airports by myself in Japan (where they temporarily lost my bag), Spain (where I had to practice using my Mexican sounding Spanish to find out where to go), and South Korea (where I had to spend the night … and HAD to locate the next book in the Twilight series- in English of course).  I’ve learned how to deal with language barriers on public transit systems in Paris, Monte Carlo, and Naples; how to “fit in” at community mess halls in remote parts of Yukon, Canada; and the importance of not taking a nap as soon as you arrive on the other side of the earth. I’ve learned to embrace unusual travel activities such as Zorbing down a hill, jumping backwards off a waterfall into a dark New Zealand cave filled with glowworms, snorkeling with sting rays in the Caymans, ziplining in the rainforests of Belize, or landing on a glacier in Alaska. Additionally, I’ve learned to appreciate different varieties of food, customs, and appearances. Nothing beats a warm croissant from a Parisian bakery, or champagne with a splash of Kir from a French bistro, or the smell of fresh lavender in Provence, or hot chips with a splash of vinegar in a dark London pub, or figuring out how to eat noodle soup without a spoon in Japan, or  receiving shot of limoncello with a glass of free champagne courtesy a cute Italian restauranteur in Italy, or accidentally ordering a huge seafood meal with oysters and shrimp in Barcelona (btw, I hate seafood), or being reminded to take off your shoes before sitting on the floor at your table at a restaurant in Tokyo.  Ahh, but I digress…..

New York City, the international mecca in all her beautiful glory, overwhelmingly appeals to me now, and I can’t wait to see her soon.

394996_10151100415835401_939674270_n

Advertisements

{Trip Report} Southern Caribbean Cruise

Warning: This trip report is rather long! It’s nearly 6400 words, in fact! I mostly detail my experiences in the ports of call rather than the cruise ship experience. I’ve cruised numerous times to the Caribbean and even to Alaska and the Mediterranean. I now have diamond status on Royal Caribbean, so for me, the ship is a means of transportation. It is not the destination. I do love food, so I will take note of that in my report. The purpose of trip reports, in my mind, is to help future travelers and to document the vacation experience so the memories are never forgotten. We traveled with our neighbors: Sal, Meow and their two little kiddos.

Day 1: PRECRUISE

The Sleep Inn of Buffalo, NY is where I laid my head the night prior to our trip. We had enough points to book two free flights to San Juan (a 400-odd dollar per ticket in savings), but we had to fly out of Buffalo, a two hour drive from home, at the crack of dawn. We like the Sleep Inn because they offer modernized rooms and an excellent sleep and park package (my opinion changed later… more on that at the end). My alarm went off at 3:45 a.m., announcing the beginning of our vacation. Xander popped up exclaiming, “See, I’m not cranky!” We had a quick breakfast, before meeting the shuttle. We texted our travel partners (who were flying out of a differ airport) with a pic of our exhausted, yet excited faces, and they returned the favor. Our uneventful Southwest flight took off at 6:15 and landed on time in San Juan, Puerto Rico at noon.

Ahh, hello San Juan. It’s been 10 years since I’ve seen you last! And how I have missed you!

Continue reading

{Trip Report} Long weekend in Vermont

{Trip Report} Long weekend in Vermont

We have officially been married 10 years. I give mad props to Nick for dealing with me. For our anniversary, we will be celebrating for a couple weeks. Why not, right?! The perfect gift for me will always be… a … Continue reading

The first ever Baldwinsville, NY farmer’s market

Today marked the first ever Baldwinsville, NY farmer’s market. It will be held every Wednesday from 3-6:30 p.m. in the Village Square– aka the middle of the village between the Diner and Sammy’s. It will run from June 5 through Oct. 23. It will feature locally grown foods from nearby farms such as Abbott’s and Reeve’s, food vendors, and handmade products.

Xander and I rolled up around 4 p.m. and found a parking spot in the packed lot by the Baldwinsville Diner. The increased traffic was noticeable. Approximately 20 tents were set up in the square and live music was playing. The market had a nice showing and many people were milling around. This first market, though, was mostly handmade goods and food vendors. You could buy soap, soy candles, earrings (including Bud Light bottle cap earrings) or garden decorations; in addition, you could buy flowers (like snapdragons or marigolds) or vegetables/herbs to plant. We saw a cheese tent and a visiting winery. The only produce available was strawberries. I bought the last box from Reeve’s for $5. Xander opted for a small cup of cherry Italian ice for $2.50. We sat at a picnic table so he could eat it. Overall, it was an enjoyable way to spend 30 minutes and support local businesses.

Image

Hopefully with time, it will grow to include more produce and vendors… and they will get some trashcans.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GreaterBaldwinsvilleCommunityFarmersMarket

Very Hungry Caterpillars

This year marks the 3rd  time that we will “raise” butterflies. I started doing this because 1) Xander loves animals and bugs, 2) It’s educational, 3) I love butterflies, 4) The Very Hungry Caterpillar book is cool, and 5) I “raised” butterflies when I was a kid. So… yep, I love doing this just as much as Xander. If not more.

One of our butterflies in 2010

Every year we order our 5 caterpillars from InsectLore.com. The shipping via USPS is a bit steep for one little cup of caterpillars ($12!!!) so order more and split it shipping cost with a friend (that’s what I did).  The first year you will need to buy the pavilion to house the butterflies and those can be bought at Target or Amazon.com. They come with a caterpillar coupon. In total, the caterpillar to butterfly process is fascinating and doesn’t take long: “watch them eat, grow, and after seven to ten days, form their chrysalides and begin their transformation into butterflies.” Xander and I love checking them every day and watching them grow. Each year it is very tough letting them go into the wild; Xander considers them “pets.” But imagine his excitement when the mail lady handed him a box this morning that had a big butterfly label on it.

Our cup of caterpillars

Three of our “pets”

Spring Awakening…. two years later!

It feels like forever since I posted a blog entry. Oh wait. It HAS been forever.  Like two years! My bad… We’ve been busy, I swear. Okay, I’ll admit it’s pretty lame that I’m a writing teacher, yet I never write. So, here I go!

Hmm. What to write about………

Still thinking.

Oh, I’ve got an idea! I’ll talk about my garden.

One of last year’s sunflowers.

Last year I had Nick construct two above-ground gardens in our back yard: one made with organic materials and the other made with regular materials. I also used some small planters, and one bricked garden to grow our loot. We successfully grew bell peppers, jalapenos, spicy peppers, blueberries, Italian parsley, carrots, broccoli, basil, mint, lavender, chives, oregano, and  sunflowers. Cucumbers and squash were also planted, but they failed miserably. The broccoli also gave me problems: it attracted a variety of pests and did not like the hot, sunny days we experienced. I was most successful with the herbs and the peppers. In fact, I had more bell peppers (green and red) and spicy peppers than I knew what to do with!

Fast-forward to spring 2013.A couple weeks ago on a sunny, yet brisk Saturday afternoon, we weeded and tended to the gardens. Then, later in the week, Xander and I picked up some seeds and new soil, and we got to work planting. For our spring loot, we planted:

  • Alaska Peas seeds
  • Bloomsdale Spinach seeds
  • Matador Spinach seeds
  • Heirloom Danvers 126 Carrots seeds
  • Cauliflower plants from Lowes

We’ve seen some sunny, warm days since we planted these in our organic box, but we’ve also seen some very cold days. Today I took a look at the progress of our plants and seeds. The spinach and peas have sprung, our cauliflower isn’t dead, and our carrots are still hiding (as expected). Last year the carrots took many weeks before making an appearance. I also noted that the mint has sprung…. ALL OVER! It’s like a weed! It’s growing in new places, even. My chives have also come back and are standing tall. We are still undecided what else to grow. Xander wants to grow pumpkins. I want to grow peppers. Nick doesn’t care. So, we shall see.

bright green chives

Profusely growing mint. Mojitos anyone???

Cauliflower still surviving

I spy a baby bean plant!

Spinach? Or weed?

Pre-Easter Pics

Here are some pics from recent days! Xander is really into Easter this year and thoroughly enjoyed dying his Easter eggs. Soon there after he dropped his basket on the floor and only 2 of the dozen eggs we made survived the fall. Ugh!! So this morning, after a Easter Egg Hunt at a neighbors house, we made 10 more eggs 🙂

dying some eggs

his 1st batch of eggs

Can u find Xander?

there he is!

hunting for eggs at the neighbor's house

I spy an egg

time to eat candy!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Xander is ready for Santa! He’s been a good boy says his elf friend “Zip,” aka The Elf on the Shelf! Santa’s cookies have been baked and put out along with some carrots on a plate. In addition some special ‘reindeer food’ (oatmeal & glitter) has been sprinkled on the front lawn. Merry Christmas Eve!

Our tree pre-presents

So excited for Santa & Christmas!

Sprinking out Reindeer Food on the snow

Xander made Santa cookies & made him & the reindeer a plate!

Snow days…

We’ve already had over 70 inches of snow this month here in central New York…. awesome right? NOT for this Florida girl! Xander and Kali however are in hog-heaven.  They both thoroughly enjoy playing in the cold, wet stuff. Here are some recent pictures of their adventures.

Kali is a snowbunny

Look, a snowball!!

 

 

When Leigh & Xander are away…. Nick will play?

So during my last trip away (for a girls weekend), I wondered what the boys did when I was away…. well, this past weekend Xander and I went away on a trip so I got to wondering what Nick did when I was away. I wonder no longer!!! He took some pictures to document what he does when he has the house to himself…. it wasn’t pretty.

He eats healthy

with plenty of Cholula

He catches up on his reading over morning coffee

He shaves his legs?!!!

AND his arm pits?!!