Posts Categorized: Life in New York

Nov 30 2011
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Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving this year was a bit less eventful than last year without mum, dad and Matthew here… but it was super relaxed and we had a lovely time away.

We got up to Albany in the dark and checked in to our usual hotel… just in time for Bill to head out for his own Thanksgiving tradition – dinner with the guys.

I headed to Denny’s for dinner – I couldn’t wait for turkey any longer so I got their holiday special Turkey sandwich with a strawberry thickshake. It was delicious and a great way to unwind after all the stress packing up our stuff, getting the car and the horrendous traffic getting out of the city.

Our contributions for lunch was a new mashed potato casserole dish (it was great!) and homemade cranberry sauce. Earlier in the week, we made some Thanksgiving favors for everyone. Homemade salted caramels and white chocolate bark. I was meant to make the bark but had a nap on Sunday afternoon… so Bill made it instead. Awww! I did all the candy wrapping and bark breaking and bag stuffing.

Here I am wrapping our caramels –

Thanksgiving 2011

The White Chocolate Bark –

Thanksgiving 2011

The end result –

Thanksgiving 2011

On Thanksgiving morning we slept in and headed out on a drive around town before heading over to the Blevins Homestead. With my Dunkin’ Donuts Hot Chocolate in hand, I had to leave it for a good 20 minutes as it was piping hot. I then went to lift it out of the cup holder and some spilt on my top… then we went over a bump and more spilt. It was still SO hot so I told Bill to quickly pull over… he zipped into a slanted driveway that made me spill it even MORE. I cracked it SO much that I hurled the stupid drink out the car to save me getting burnt any more – sticky hot chocolate was all over the inside of my door and all over me. A less than stellar way to start Thanksgiving… and I have sworn off their Hot Chocolate now until they realize that boiling hot isn’t really necessary for that drink!

When we got home I was able to fix myself up a bit and we could start setting up for lunch. Sister-in-law Pauline cooked two 20lb turkeys so we would have enough for lots of leftovers. We had sweet potatoes, different stuffings, our dishes,’broccoli stuff’ and Eileen made a delicious brussel sprout and pancetta dish.

Thanksgiving 2011

Some of the Turkey –

Thanksgiving 2011

Pauline’s Broccoli stuff –

Thanksgiving 2011

Bill loves Thanksgiving –

Thanksgiving 2011

Newly engaged… Emily and Brian!

Thanksgiving 2011

Desserts were then served and we ended up back at the hotel at 5.30 and I was sound asleep by 8.30!

We were up super early on Friday.. not for the sales but for a little trip up to Saratoga Springs.

As with last year and we now think this is our own Thanksgiving tradition, we ended up at the Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Here are some photos to tease mum and dad –

Cracker Barrel

I love the Cracker Barrel!

Cracker Barrel

Blurry self timed photo –

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel

I loveee the Cracker Barrel shops –

Cracker Barrel

We then hit the road. First we went to Warrensburg to check out Oscars Smokehouse – one of Bill’s favorite places! If you like smoked meats and cheeses, this place is amazing. Warrensburg was a gorgeous little town as you can see here –

Warrensburg

View from Oscars –

Warrensburg

Then we drove down to Saratoga… first we went to the train station. Because we love Amtrak!

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

We visited the closed racecourse. It was really creepy seeing everything closed for the season –

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Some of the houses… gorgeous!

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

The main street –

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

We then went and did some shopping, spent the afternoon with Pauline, then had more leftovers with everyone for dinner and then headed out to do a bit more shopping.

Here was the beautiful Fall sunset that night –

Sunset

On Saturday we did some more visiting, ran some errands, picked up our first anniversary gift to each other (more about that later!) and then hit the road. With a stop in New Jersey for dinner we were home by 8pm! It was a great Thanksgiving and it is awesome knowing that it is only a few weeks and we’ll be up there with everyone again.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

Nov 29 2011
1

Living here…

Means that I have to pay attention to Holiday Tipping.

What is it exactly?

Read this Holiday Tipping guide and find out.

We don’t have a doorman so we just have to worry about our Super and the two maintenance staff. We lucked out with them so we don’t even blink at the thought of a holiday tip of gratitude for them.

Tipping has been probably one of the biggest issues I had to get used to since I moved here. I know it is a real issue for many Australians from the minute they arrive in America. I remember on my US Study Tour when I was at RMIT, one group of students did their whole end of tour presentation on the shock and etiquette of tipping! I can say now that I am so much better than I used to be. I can still picture myself grimacing at handing over tips to the guys at the supermarket back in 2008 and now I don’t even think twice.

In so many instances now, I do see and also appreciate the difference in service so I don’t mind a bit. It is only group dinners that I find I need to use my Tipping app on the phone and before we go away, I make sure I get a stack of dollar bills from the bank so we are always covered as I have found as we operate mostly cashless, the feeling of dread of having to use loose change as a tip is something that I like to avoid!

Nov 19 2011
2

One little confession…

I love Days of our Lives. I have got back into it after being off the bandwagon for some time – a few years ago I was absolutely obsessed. To the point of getting Soap World magazine and Soap Opera Digest.

A little heads up – if you want to start watching it OR you did watch it once and gave it away, you should start watching it now. Aussie readers, I know you are a little behind but you have lots to look forward to.

Carrie and Austin are back.
John Black and Marlena are back.
Bo and Hope are still happening.
And… stuff is happening again between EJ and Sami!

The only thing I would LOVE NBC to do (and I know I am not alone) is to bring back the original theme –

At the moment, this is what we get. It is not the same. 🙁

I actually spent a good part of last night watching EJ Wells fan videos I found on You Tube.

Now I think I have shared enough! 😉

Nov 19 2011
0

Two Aussies, A Geordie and An American….

… walk in to a Texan BBQ place in New York City.

It really did happen!

This week Chris, one of my footy pals from Melbourne (who is now going to be living in the UK) was visiting New York so we caught up for BBQ with him and his bride-to-be, Deb, who is from Newcastle in England. It was an interesting mix of accents at the table that was for sure!

Last time Chris was in New York we went to Rub BBQ in Chelsea, this time we went to Hill Country on 26th. I had been there before and really liked it. The staff are great and the smell of the place is amazing.

We got piles of meat and sides and it was such a fun night that continued when we got home because we couldn’t escape the smell of the BBQ. All of our clothes had to go straight into the washing basket – we smelt like we had been right in the smoke pit!

It had been a couple of years ago that I first went there and really enjoyed their BBQ – it has a kick to it so you get a bit of spice happening but very easy (actually too easy) to eat. They’re cutting up meats right in the middle of the restaurant. You order by the weight and you pick what you want – it really is like you are in the middle of a BBQ market.

Here we are – looking like we are being bbq’d by the neon lights!

Hill Country BBQ

Here I was back there with Deb, Alice and Josie back in 2009 – you can see how you basically eat out of paper, with your hands and it is totally fine!

Hill Country 2009

Nov 14 2011
1

Foo Fighters at Madison Square Garden

Last night we went to see the Foo Fighters at Madison Square Garden. In 2008, before I even moved here, Bill went to see them at the Garden and I saw them in Melbourne with Frannie. How things change in a few years! It was also milestone as I was finally seeing my first concert at Madison Square Garden.

I was looking at the stage thinking I am sitting in the place where this happened –

And this –

And this –

And this –

It is pretty awe-inspiring!

Thinking they would start at about 9, we got there just in time. In the end they came on at 9.30. With a two hour show we would be home at midnight and I’d get in enough sleep before my alarm would go off at 6. Memo to concert promoters – Sunday night concerts HURT!

When we got our tickets we understood they were on the side but ‘close’. They were weird as they weren’t actually on the seating chart. No wonder – they were the office chairs that the press guys usually sit in. They basically sat a few chairs at the bench on top of network cables, electrical cords and sold them as seats. SO dodgy and they were really annoying seats. Anyway we waited for the show and they came out LOUD. It was rocking and so full of energy… unfortunately for us so was the drunk feral girl in front of us. She was the kind of girl you would see in an anti-drinking special at school where you don’t want to be that girl. It was a good, solid show. I didn’t enjoy it as much as 2008 – I think being a Sunday night and I was sleepy by 10pm had something to do with it but you cannot fault them for a non-stop rock show. I wish I had their energy at 10.30 on Sunday night!

It got to 11.30 and we decided to leave. Understanding we’d probably miss 1 or 2 songs we decided to head out and grab a cab before the thousands we’d be jostling with afterwards. Yes, we were those people. I was in bed and checked my Twitter feed at 12.15 and I half groaned and half shouted “Whhhaaaatttt!!!!” They were STILL playing. Oh yes – they decided to do some epic 3 hour show and even bought out Joan Jett for the encore. $#$@%%^@&!!!!

Here are some photos –

Our seats –

Foo Fighters -  Madison Square Garden

This does not include the piles of cables I was sitting/standing on –

Foo Fighters -  Madison Square Garden

What a crowd!

Foo Fighters -  Madison Square Garden

The lighting was great… this doesn’t really capture it!

Foo Fighters -  Madison Square Garden

Dave and I.. kinda!

Foo Fighters -  Madison Square Garden

The now traditional over exposed shoddy iPhoto self portrait –

photoFoo Fighters - Madison Square Garden

Here is the setlist. The highlights for me were The Pretender, Let it Die and This is a Call.

Bridge Burning
Rope
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn To Fly
White Limo
Arlandria
Breakout
Stacked Actors
Walk
Monkey Wrench
Let It Die
These Days
This Is A Call
All My Life

Encore:

Wheels
Best of You
Times Like These
Dear Rosemary (with Bob Mould)
Breakdown (Tom Petty cover, with Bob Mould)
Bad Reputation (with Joan Jett)
Everlong

Nov 06 2011
1

The weekend I didn’t run a Marathon

I feel so bad.

Just a couple of hours of cheering the marathoners had me curled up in bed for a 2 hour nap. It was exhausting. Today was Marathon Sunday and I managed to get out of my jammies (I needed a jammie weekend!) for a few hours so we could cheer from our neighborhood just like last year. It was a gorgeous morning, with a chill in the air.

10.30am Mass was cancelled because of the Marathon so we got up nice and early due to daylight savings ending and it was perfect as the minute Mass finished we could just stand out the front of Queen of All Saints and cheer.

We were at about mile 8 (14km mark) and across from us was the Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School band who played the theme from Rocky non-stop. Yes. Non-stop. I thought they were just rehearsing when they were playing it for the first 20 minutes we were there but then they kept playing… and playing… and playing. They all deserve a medal too for perseverance and yes, the Rocky song has been in my head all day!

Here is some video footage I took –

Now for the photos. Could it be a more perfect fall day?

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

The first female runner coming through –

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

Fall foliage on Lafayette –

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

A very American car –

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

The crowd was starting to build –

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

Our local firemen came to watch!

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

So were our local policemen!

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

41 minute mark… we knew they were coming!

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

The first male runner –

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

Runners –

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

Cheersquads!

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

2011 NYC Marathon - Fort Greene

Nov 06 2011
2

Our night with Lindsey Buckingham

Oh
my
gosh.

That was all I could say at the end of Friday night as we settled into bed.

Our Friday night this week was not spent going to JFK Airport to ride the Airtrain but was instead spent on the Upper East Side.

First we had to stop in Soho where Poppy King walked right past me. After being in Soho three times over the past three weeks, my quota is up for the next twelve months. It is my most “Ugh-get-me-out-of-here!” places in the city. I cannot stand it! So we did that and then headed up town.

For dinner, we headed to Dorrian’s Red Hand. I am a fan of any place that has some scandal and this place has plenty. After reading the Yelp reviews, I wasn’t expecting much but I have to say, it was a really good meal for bar food. We got a small table around the corner, out of the main bar area so we could look out onto 84th Street. I absolutely loved the red and white checked cloth tablecloths as it made it feel really cozy!

Dorrian's Red Hand

Funnily, Phil Collins started playing through dinner. It was the second Friday night in a row we have had dinner while being serenaded by Phil. Due to the clientele and the soundtrack, I was expecting Patrick Bateman to walk in any second. After our 80s flashback, we then headed up to the 92nd Street Y for A Conversation with Lindsey Buckingham. There were about 200 of us in what was basically a school auditorium. We had Anthony DeCurtis from Rolling Stone as a moderator. He was absolutely fantastic! We basically sat in on a conversation between them both for an hour and a half! Lindsey talked about his new album, his old stuff, song writing, guitar playing, Fleetwood Mac, his relationship with Stevie. It was awesome. He also pulled out his guitar and sang three songs. Rock Away Blind, I am Waiting and a killer version of Big Love. It was such a great experience and so relaxed. We actually got to see him tune his guitar. One note from the show – he is totally self taught from when he was a child! I couldn’t concentrate fully though because at the start of the evening the organizers said said “He will be signing CD’s after the show…” I nearly fainted. I was going to MEET him!

After the conversation, we lined up to buy CDs (I have doubled up as I already had the album as an iTunes download… too bad he can’t sign my iTunes playlist!) We got a gift for dad for Christmas as dad loves Lindsey and the Mac too – how do you think I ended up finding out about them soooo many years ago?!

Bill lined up before me with dad’s gift and then when he signed that, Bill would go to the side and take my photo. Bill explained to Lindsey that this was for his father-in-law as he was a great fan and was in Australia. Then he moved to the side and I got to meet him. I said to him “And I am the daughter of his father-in-law!” It was my most I CARRIED A WATERMELON moment ever… even worse than when I told Craig Kelly I was a Library Monitor. But Lindsey looked at me to get the CD and then laughed when he understood what I meant.. Bill caught the moment right here!

I met Lindsey Buckingham!!!!!!!!

I then thanked him so much for his music and how much I enjoyed the evening and his performances. He shook my hand and said “No – thank you!” and I just basically died right there.

I met Lindsey Buckingham!!!!!!!!

In my opinion, this event was totally strange because it basically wasn’t publicized anywhere. I don’t know how I even found out about it but it was a buzz to know there was this tiny little event, that ended up being just pretty hardcore fans, getting to experience a very intimate and personal interview and meet and greet in a school hall on a Friday night in New York. It really was surreal! One of my life dreams ticked off – I met Lindsey Buckingham. Whoa. Whoa. WHOA!

Oct 30 2011
2

An adventurous 24 hours…

On Friday night we decided to trek out to JFK airport to take our two suitcases back as they have to be repaired after being pummeled on our trip back from Australia.. more on that to come!

To make it fun we decided to have a bit of an adventurous date night. We were going to do a trip to JFK by not paying any more than a basic Metrocard fare – $2.25. The commute went like this –

B69 Bus to Fulton Street.
C train from Clinton-Washington to Nostrand.
A train from Nostrand to Lefferts Boulevard.
Q10 Limited Bus to JFK Terminal 4.
Airtrain to Terminal 8.

Then back again.

A lot of people do not realize that you can actually skip the $5 Air Train trips and see some of Queens if you leave early enough. Once you are at Terminal 4, the Air Train is free to go around to other terminals! We worked out that this way took about an extra 15 minutes than a normal JFK trip, but that was just from waiting for the C and A trains basically. Everything else went like clockwork.

It was actually kind of funny because when we were on the A train we obviously had our cases with us. When we got to the Rockaways the conductor said over the loud speaker “Get off here for the JFK Airport Connection and we just sat there. People actually said to us “You need to get off here for the airport!” We let them know we are going a different way and they looked at us like we were very strange!

As Lefferts Boulevard is the end of the line, we got to see how the train looks above ground right near some apartments. Imagine trains pulling in and out and then idling beside your bedroom window 24 hours a day?!

The A train at Leffert's Boulevard station

We went downstairs and exited the station to a group of 10-15 men all shouting “Taxi! Casino! Airport! Taxi!” As we went over to the Q10 Bus stop we were told two or three times by these drivers where to go.. it was the strangest experience to have all these people yelling at you and then basically bossing you around to tell you where to go. I had never experienced it here before! They were yelling out “Casino!” as the new casino was opening at the Aqueduct race track that night. It was all too much!

It was so strange going to the airport and not actually going anywhere. It was so tempting just to go to a counter and hop on a flight! Now we are counting down to our Europe vacation next year, it was fun to see where we will be leaving from as the only flights I have ever taken from JFK have been Qantas ones!

We did the trip back to the Lefferts Boulevard station and decided to look for something to eat around there. It was decidedly dodgy but there were still a lot of people around. We were about to settle on McDonalds when we saw a restaurant that had an Indian food sign. It looked clean and there were some people in there so we decided to eat there and see what it was like. The restaurant was Kaieteur Express. It was trippy.

First of all, we walked in to Phil Collins singing Against All Odds at full blast and the cricket was on. You don’t see cricket anywhere here. So we sat down and opened the menu. There was chinese food, Caribbean food and then a section on the back that listed five curries. So you could basically get sweet and sour pork, a chicken curry with rice and roti or Caribbean jerk chicken. It was a weird mix!

This was the interior with cricket on the TV – it was funny how we all had flimsy plastic covering the tables!

Kaieteur Express Restaurant, Ozone Park

So we ordered a normal chinese style duck appetizer and then Bill got the lamb curry and I got the chicken curry – it was all absolutely delicious and some of the best curry I have had since moving here! Though the music did not improve. It was so strange as by the time we were eating there was only us and another couple there and some random people picking up their food and the music was pumping 80s love songs like we were in a nightclub and they played a CD that was basically a fake karaoke one with strange voices singing popular songs. I kept sitting there thinking “How on earth can I describe this place?!” I hope you get how hilarious it was!

By the time we got up and about on Saturday morning the snow for snowtober started falling. Katie’s Halloween Brunch party didn’t happen so we stayed in. When we went to Mass at 5pm and it was so awful outside. Lots of slush and the usual suspects on our block who don’t want to shovel the snow. Ugh. The ‘rain’ that was falling felt like little ice pellets hitting my face. After Mass we had to drop off some dry cleaning. We were two steps away from the cleaners when there was a huge BANG! A whole slab of snow fell off their awning and onto the pavement with a huge crash. It was like a boulder of ice and it smashed into pieces. We were SO lucky to have not been caught under it.

That nearly hit us!

Between that and fallen branches, we just wanted to get home. The snow continued through the night and yet today (Sunday) has been gorgeous outside. I am so excited to have that little taste of winter… seeing cotton wool balls fall from the sky is just too exciting!!

Oct 27 2011
1

A Brooklyn Halloween..

Our block takes Halloween VERY seriously. In fact, we even get the street blocked off. Our neighbors do a big Halloween production that gets crowds from all over coming to visit. For those in Melbourne, it is kind of like living on The Boulevard in Ivanhoe at Christmas time.

On my walk home from the library tonight I snapped some photos in the rain of some of the displays. On the weekend there will be more to go up but I thought this would be a nice change from all of the Australia posts.

Halloween in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene

Halloween in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene

Halloween in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene

Loved these little stoop decorations –

Halloween in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene

These neighbours do these ‘interesting’ headstones every year –

Halloween in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene

Halloween in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene

Last night I worked out what I will ‘go as’ to Katie’s Halloween Brunch this weekend… and I just got email confirmation that people will be dressing up. Mine is nothing crazy but easy enough from stuff I have here at home. This is the first year I have ever dressed up for Halloween. Should be fun!