Daily Delights (Look-back Sept ’19 until Feb 2020)

I was working on drafting an article for something else I’m working on and was having a hard time recalling dates and I couldn’t find any reference on my fav social media platform, Instagram, either which made me realize that I don’t post often (though I do post a lot of stories but then I forget to save them and they’re gone foreverrrrr).

Therefore, I’m recapping some of my fav moments over the past several months:

I love my friends. From whiskey tasting at Single Barrel Social in Brighton with Becca, to dressing up for Halloween and going to the bar to watch a boxing match with Tiffers, to getting fancy for cocktails at Saks, we always have a blast.
Two recent Broadway shows we’ve seen are Moulin Rouge and Jagged Little Pill. We saw Post Malone perform at MSG. We went to a few basketball games including the Nets vs. Lakers to watch Lebron crush it. We also got to see Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy show.
Kev’s Aunt Kat directed a documentary called Animation Outlaws on Spike and Mike, the OGs of animation, that was shown at the Woodstock film festival, so Kev and I made a weekend trip out of it to support her.
Our friend Lauren got married so we made the trip to SF to celebrate.
Right before the start of the Philly Half Marathon and after.
Kevin completed his first Half Marathon in the 2019 Philly Half and I finished my second and got a PR! Kev and I crossed the finish line holding hands, clocking in at 1:45:38. Our average split was about 8:03/mi. The last time I ran the New York Half Marathon was in 2014 and I finished at 1:46:36. It was a very proud moment for the both of us.
ABC’s annual skating party at Rockefeller. I got a pic with my favorite meteorologist, WABC’s Lee Goldberg this year!
This year I got involved in the organization Girls on the Run which provides a physical activity based positive youth development program for young girls. I was a SoleMate for the Philly Half a raised money for the organization. I also participated in their end-of-the-year 5k run as a “Sparkle runner” running alongside and cheering on the girls. It’s nice to give back while also doing something I enjoy.
I had a summit for work in Orlando so Kev joined me for the weekend to go to Disney World Park. We went to Epcot and had a nice day running around–it was my first time at the park as an adult! It was also a good excuse for me to get a Mickey shirt from Gucci’s latest collection 😉
Kev and I have had fun trying afternoon tea spots around the city. From left to right: Pembroke Room in the Lowell Hotel, BG Restaurant at Bergdorf’s, and Gotham Lounge at The Peninsula
I wanted a Cartier Love ring to wear on vacations instead of my engagement ring, so I got one with a single diamond and wear it every day. A few months later, Kevin read a biography on the Cartier family and was impressed so he wanted something from Cartier as well. We upgraded his wedding band to a simple white gold band with a subtle Cartier engraving which he now wear every day as well. I also splurged on a panther ring that I’ve had my eye on for the past several years. It’s a statement piece but I plan to wear it as often as possible. I LOVE it and feel very proud that I was able to buy it for myself.
I have been obsessed with the Orbicular Burrfish since the first time I saw it almost four years ago when we went diving in Indonesia, but after seeing my little dudes again this past Christmas on our dive trip, it further reinforced that I wanted it as my next tattoo. Mr. K at Bang Bang did my octopus tattoo back in 2018 and he is one of the best tattoo artists in the world, so I wanted him to do my next sea critter. I shared pictures of the Orbicular Burrfish with him and he turned it into a cuter version. I love it!

2019 Holiday in Indonesia

Three years after our last trip to Indonesia for one leg of our honeymoon, Kev and I returned to spend Christmas 2019 and bring in the New Year. Normally we like traveling to different places, but since we wanted to go scuba diving again and Wakatobi’s Pelagian has been the best dive yacht we’ve ever stayed on with the most abundant and diverse small, colorful critters to see, we were both down to go back. We felt like we were back home in a sense because most of the same crew were there as well as our dive masters!

We were on the yacht for a week and we did 22 dives over a week, being underwater cumulatively for about 25 hours. We did 3-4 dives every day. Our days consisted of waking up around 5:30am, having coffee, going diving, having breakfast, doing some light yoga on the top deck, doing a second dive, having lunch and a light nap, doing a third dive, having a snack, doing a night dive, and then having dinner.

Eat, Nap, Dive, Repeat

We saw so many amazing critters including: sponge crab, decorated crab, scorpion fish, squid, octopuses, frog fish, sea horse, hairy lobster, shrimp, box fish, cuttlefish, many species of nudibranchs, flounder, spotted sting ray, clownfish, horned fish, mandarin fish, and of course my favorite orbicular burrfish.

Here’s a note in my journal that gave me a chuckle re-reading. Maybe I was slightly delirious or I was still in awe of everything I saw that day being underwater for over 4.5 hours – “I keep thinking how underrated fish are. When I see them underwater they are all unique and special in their shapes and colors, so that I think they’re all beautiful. However, when you take a fish out of water, they look dull and they all look the same.”

Wakatobi does not disappoint, we had amazing dives and great muck diving. Magic Pier is probably our favorite dive site ever to see the mating madarin fish which we recognize is rare and very special to see so many congregated in one area. The dive is almost overwhelming because there is so much to see including cuttlefish, crabs, eels in addition to trying to capture the madarin fish mating and making sure not to get pricked by a sea urchin. That’s my idea of an adventure!

After scuba diving for a week, I was looking forward to spending some time on land. Last time we stayed in Bali, we stayed at the Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali which was a beautiful resort, but we were there for such a short time that we never left. This time around we wanted to actually explore more of Bali. Kevin did his research and put us up in the most amazing luxury resort, Amandari, part of the Aman resort group.

Not only was the resort beautiful with amazing service, what I liked even more were the activities that were included with our itinerary. The first morning we were there we woke up at 2am (no joke) and climbed Mt. Abang. It was an hour drive to get to the base and then we hiked for 5 hours total to see the sunrise. We took the General Manager of the resort’s dog with us on the climb which was a lot of fun. She was a big, well behaved dog and she made me feel safe.

We were too tired to stay up for the New Years celebration that night but we got up early the next morning for another activity and I got to learn more about Balinese culture. We went to a family temple which I had never seen before. In America, many people have backyards with trees, bushes, or flowers but the Balinese people are very spiritual and have their own customs so their “backyards” are family temples filled with statues to pay respect to their Gods.

We went to an art school for children and bought some very pretty art to being back home. They paint everything free-hand and the proceeds of the art sales goes to the respective child who created it (hopefully). After we went to Kumulilir that had luwak coffee which is a coffee that consists of partially digested coffee cherries that have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. We were walked through the coffee making process and then got to try a tasty sampler of various flavored coffees and teas in addition to the luwak coffee. Our last stop that day was at a community temple which was very beautiful.

The next day was our last day before flying back home. We started the morning with a walk around the Amandari property and surrounding properties, through local neighborhoods, and through some rice fields. We made a spontaneous decision to check out the Ubud Monkey Forest before grabbing our stuff and heading to the airport. I’m really happy we squeezed it in because it was pretty cool. It was definitely a tourist trap but there were so many monkeys everywhere, it was awesome. They can get kind of aggressive so visitors are advised not to get too close, but you can still get pretty close to them since they’re used to people always being close by. They’re practically domesticated because there are large crates full of food so it’s like an all-you-can-eat 24/7 buffet for them. I got some great shots with my camera.

The flight to and from Indonesia was the worst, but it was SO worth the lost 2 days of travel to have the adventure we did. I love it there and can’t wait to go back and explore other parts.

Here is a link to view all of our Wakatobi pics.
Here is a link to view all of our Bali/Amandari pics.
(Though Kev would like to take credit for all of the good ones, these galleries are the compilation of photos that both Kevin and I took throughout the trip.)

Wellness Retreat in Nicaragua

Earlier this month, I went on a wellness fitness retreat in Nicaragua through The Taylor Cut. I heard about it from one of my favorite Y7 yoga instructors, Sarah, who led the yoga portion. The founder, Michael, teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp, which is one of my fav workouts, so that in addition to the fact that I trust Sarah and always love her challenging classes, I’d never been to Nicaragua, and the dates of the trip worked with my schedule I thought, “why the hell not?!”.

Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work for Kev though. I was bummed that he wasn’t going with me (I literally had anxiety about it leading up to the trip because I haven’t vacationed without him since we’ve been together for over 8 years.), but it ended up being completely fine. There were nine of us total, including the two instructors. It was a good sized group; it was large enough to not get sick of spending so much time with any one person, but small enough that we all got to get to know one another. No one knew one another prior to the trip, outside of one of the instructors, and we surprisingly all got along very well despite different personalities and being in different stages of life.

For the 5-day trip we stayed at an eco-lodge, Eden on the Chocolata in San Juan del Sur. Eden prepared all of our breakfasts and dinners, all of which were vegetarian and were delicious. I definitely did not go hungry on the trip. I was pleasantly surprised how good and vegetarian-friendly the food is in Nicaragua. What I loved most about Eden though, other than the vegetarian meals, were the family pets who kept us company the entire time. There are two sweet, friendly dogs and two sweet, chill cats who live on the property and were literally always hanging out nearby. It made me feel more at home!

As far as the workouts, every day we did a HIIT workout and yoga. There was a private beach close to Eden, so we did the HIIT workouts there most mornings which I loved. Yoga was held at Eden in an open-walled space overlooking the forest, so we had amazing views throughout practice.

Other than getting two good workouts in each day, we also visited the colossal Christ of the Mercy Jesus Christ statue and explored the town of San Juan del Sur. My personal two favorite activities were surfing at Playa Hermosa and the catamaran cruise. Playa Hermosa is a beautiful beach and was not crowded, so it was perfect for surf lessons. I had never surfed before, so being a part of a group was helpful since we were all learning together and encouraged one another. I had so much fun and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. I even got up a few times! My other favorite was the catamaran cruise that we went on the last day of the trip. It was a perfect activity to conclude the trip. We set off mid-day and had a few hours of boating and then anchored for beach/swim time before heading back and catching a spectacular sunset. I loved that as soon as we set foot on board, we were offered cocktails, and our group essentially had the whole front of the boat to lounge around.

I had such an amazing time on the trip. It went by super fast, and because we had a fairly jam-packed itinerary and enjoyed each other’s company, I hardly thought about work or anything else really. Despite working our butts off exercising, it was actually a mentally restorative trip as well. I also took some good habits back home with me. I’ve started journaling a little every day to get my thoughts and feelings out, I’m continuing to be mindful about being present and spending my time and energy on things that actually matter, and I’m holding myself accountable to small goals (i.e. catch up on writing blog posts, sign up for MasterClass, spend more time reading over mindlessly watching shows, etc.). I may need to make a point of going on a wellness retreat at least once a year from here on out! Cheers~Namaste.

My Favorite Workouts in NYC

In addition to my favorite vegetarian restaurants, I’m also frequently asked about my favorite workouts around the city, so below is a list of my go-to studios in no particular order. Most of the below have multiple locations, but I usually go to the ones closest to my apartment in Soho.

I have a ClassPass membership since I love variety with my workouts and most of the below boutique studios are on ClassPass. I work out around 5-6x a week, so I have the highest credit plan of 130 credits for $199 per month. I usually use all of my credits each month so I supplement ClassPass with class packs purchased directly from specific studios as well.

Lastly, if you’re interested in joining ClassPass to have access to classes at most of the below studios, here is a referral link.

  • HIIT
    • Barry’s Bootcamp
    • Switch
    • Fhitting Room
    • SolidCore
  • Yoga
    • Y7
    • Bode NYC (formerly Bikram NYC, it’s the traditional 90-minute class with twenty-six Hatha Yoga postures in 102-105 degrees)
  • Running
    • Mile High Run
    • Precision Run
    • Peloton Tread
  • Boxing
    • Overthrow
    • Grit Boxing
  • Cycling
    • Monster Cycle
  • Rowing
    • City Row

Happy Sweating!

My Fav Veggie Spots in NYC

I get asked about my favorite vegetarian restaurants a lot, so below is a list of my favorite veggie/vegan restaurants in Manhattan in no particular order. I’ve also indicated if the restaurant is vegan (ND-for “no dairy”) or just vegetarian (V).

West Village
Urban Vegan Kitchen (ND) – Everything is good but my personal favorites are the breakfast sandwich and the avocado ranch salad with buffalo fried seitan.
Le Botaniste (ND)
West-Bourne (V) – My go-to is the Mushroom Reuben with a Kin non-alcoholic cocktail.
Greenwich Village
Quantum Leap (V) – They have a robust menu but my fav is the Vegan Pineapple Up Side Down Pancakes.
Red Bamboo (ND)
Go Zen (ND) – My favs are the wonton soup, curry noodle soup, and the sweet and sour divine (which is sweet and sour fake-chicken and the bomb). Go Zen is right next to Red Bamboo so it’s easy to go to either if there is a wait to be seated.
Sacred Chow (ND) – My go-to is the Tempeh Reuben and Black Olive Seitan.
Kips Bay
Marty’s V Burger (ND)
Murray Hill
Franchia (ND) – Everything is good here but some of my favs are Spicy Kimchi Pancakes, the soy ‘duck’ wrap, and Singapore Curry Angel Hair.
Upper West Side
Blossom (ND)
East Village
Double Zero (ND) – This is one of Matthew Kenney’s restaurants and it’s my favorite vegan pizza spot.
Bar Verde (ND) – This is another Matthre Kenney restaurant (he has three right next to each other in East Vill). I love the vegan nachos.
Lower East Side
Jajaja (ND) – Best tacos and frozen margs.
Petisco (ND) – kitty-corner from Jajaja, Petisco is one of my all-time fav vegan spots. I love everything on the menu.
Orchard Grocer (ND) – I love this place so much and wish they had a location in Soho. They have daily sandwich specials that are amazing.
Hangawi (ND) – I love the ambiance of this place. Be prepared to take your shoes off at the door before being seated at a traditional Korean table.
Herald Square
Cinnamon Snail (ND) – Located in The Pennsy, I fell in love with the Cinnamon Snail several years before when they just had a food truck. They have great donuts and sandos.

The following are not solely vegetarian or vegan restaurants but they have some good options as well:

  • Vandal – Amazing ambiance with fun art and robust veggie options.
  • Saxon & Parole – They have one of the best Impossible Burgers in the city.
  • Umami Burger in Brookfield Place is another one of my fav spots for a good Impossible Burger.
  • Grey Dog – My favorite is the spicy caesar salad with tofu.
  • Blockheads – Surprisingly they have a whole vegan section on their menu.
  • Taco dumbo – The vegan chorizo tacos are bomb.
  • 12 Chairs – Good spot in Soho for nice sit down with Mediterranean food. They have the best hummus in the city.
  • Counter/Chef’s Club in Nolita- Though the chefs and menu changes every few months, there are always usually great veggie options.

Happy Eating!!

Why We Eat What We Eat -Book Recap

I’ve been on a challenging journey to try to cut back on sweets and curb my insatiable sweet tooth, so I downloaded Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food by Rachel Herz on my Kindle to learn a thing or two. Below are my notes/key takeaways:

  • One reason why food that looks artistic, interesting, and attractive is enjoyed more is because the appearance of food affects our expectation of how it will taste. We assume that the better food looks, the higher the quality and the more delicious it must be.
  • Translating calorie information into meaningful real-world energy expenditure has the greatest likelihood of success in reducing calorie consumption and encouraging healthier purchases. (i.e a soda or fruit juice of 250 cals takes 50 mins running or 5-mile walk to burn) – Yikes that’s a lot of expenditure for relatively little fulfillment!
  • Even though companies like Coca-Cola are advocating a “don’t eat less, just exercise more” lifestyle, it takes an unrealistic amount of activity for most people to counteract the American diet (i.e 2-hrs of working out to burn off a Big Mac).
  • All senses are involved when we eat. Tomato juice tastes better when flying because the pressurized cabin makes it hard to hear and hearing and taste are connected. It’s the same with loud music; it’s harder to tell how much alcohol is in the drink. Another takeaway is that dimmer lights have restaurant-goers taking their time and ordering more. Music can impact wine choice. Weight, shape, and color of the dishes that the food is served in effects our taste perception as well.
  • The shorter the distance between us and food, the more of it we eat. (Out of sight out of mind is actually true!)
  • Labels that downplay healthiness are often better for your health. We trick ourselves into eating more when labels say low fat or healthy.
  • The more common cause of endorphin release is the learned connections to comfort and pleasure that we have associated with certain dishes through our past experiences.
  • Stress makes high-calorie food more pleasurable and decreases the ability to make prudent decisions.
  • For young adults, just one bout of thirty minutes of moderate physical activity can improve mental capacity which may instill the willpower needed to resist food passions.
  • Be fully present while eating without other distractions to pay attention to flavor of food, how much you eat, and feeling of fullness.
  • Interacting with products that are ethically branded has the counter-intuitive effect of making us feel entitled to be greedy and immoral (this point was interesting to me–let me be kind to others!)
  • Food is more than taste or nutrition, it’s emotion.

I really enjoyed this book. It definitely made me more aware of my relationship with food.

Spring/Summer 2019 Reads

It’s been a while since I last posted about the books I’ve read but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading whenever possible! Below is quick recap.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer – This was cute. I’m a little surprised it won the Pulitzer Prize but it was lighthearted and funny. Lesson: Be who you are and don’t always fight things because they may be meant to be.
Rating: 3.5/5

Maid by Stephanie Land – Not a huge fan of this one. I get it that it’s really hard working as a single mother without a degree or family support and the system is broken in supporting those people but it seemed like a sob story I’ve heard before. Rating: 2/5

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt – It was your typical psychological thriller. It was a quick read and entertaining enough but nothing too deep or unique. Rating: 2/5

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – Another psychological thriller but I liked this one more. It definitely twisted unexpectedly at the end. Rating: 3/5

Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food by Rachel Herz – I don’t read a ton of non-fiction but I really liked this book. It was interesting to me. I took a bunch of notes and key takeaways, so I’ll do a separate post on this one. Rating: 5/5

Old Baggage by Lisaa Evans – I bought this book when I was in London because I really like British humor. It was a cute book and had enjoyable, strong women protagonists with personality. Rating: 3.5/5

Normal People by Sally Rooney – I LOVED this book. I felt like I got to know the two main characters and the whole time I was rooting for timing to align and for them to be together. Rating: 5/5

Circe by Madeline Miller – I liked mythology in high school so I figured I’d give this one a shot since it was high on the best seller list and I also surprising really enjoyed it. I got pretty into it and sped-read through it. Rating: 5/5

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak – It was another psychological thriller but of the other two above, I like this one the most. The first half or even three quarters of the book was really good and I didn’t want to put it down, but then it lost its momentum and the ending was only so-so. Overall still a good book though. Rating: 4/5

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins – I’m pretty sure my mom loaned me this one that she got from Book of the Month club. It is a thriller but personally I thought it was a little slow-going and somewhat uneventful. Rating: 1.5/5

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – Hmm I guess I’ve read a lot of psychological thrillers lately though it’s not my fav genre. This one was actually pretty good but it did seem to draw on a bit towards the end. Rating: 3/5

Recursion by Blake Crouch – I loved Dark Matter by this author so I was really looking forward to this one. I still really liked it though it dragged on a bit at the end. I lent it to Kevin to read since he likes Sci-Fi, but he wasn’t impressed. He said it was too much like a combination of 2 or 3 other plot lines we’ve already seen like Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Rating: 3.5/5

Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson – I listened to this one on audio book while we were on a rattling bus for hours at a time in Madagascar and I really enjoyed it. It made me feel motivated to go running and to push myself hearing about all of the studies and personal stories Hutchinson covers throughout the book. Overall it’s a great book on pushing the body to its limits and how a lot of it is mental strength. I know with science it’s all about experiments and theories but that’s the main thing I didn’t like about the book; a lot of the conclusions were like it worked for this person but not proven for everyone kind of thing and I personally love firmer conclusions/takeaways. Rating: 4/5

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – Wowzers. This book was a lot. In more than one way. Not only was the book super long (814 pages to be exact), but it was filled with so much trauma. It was heartbreaking reading it (I literally had a pit in my stomach half the time) and the author did an excellent job of unpacking what happened to the main character, Jude, in his youth and integrating the reader with his very tight-knit group of friends. Despite being a heavy read, I highly recommend it. At one point I did think that the continuing tragedies Jude faced were almost too far-fetched (or maybe he’s one of the most unlikely people out there), but overall still a great novel. Rating: 5/5

Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself – My She Runs It mentor recommended this one. Not all of the articles were relevant but overall I’m really glad I read it and I think I took away some valuable lessons/insights. I think almost anyone could take away some good nuggets of info from it so, Rating: 4.5/5

Where did the first half of the year go!?

The beginning of 2019 started off with a bang with a lot of traveling. I spent the first few weekend traveling, and things never really slowed down from there. I’ve been trying to write this damn blog post for months now. Seeing as it’s almost July now, I’m just going to do a summary of what I’ve been up to.

After my awesome holiday in the Amazon (which already feels like a lifetime ago), I started the New Year with a work sales summit in Orlando the end of January, a trip to London, Vegas, and work trip to Philly. I also had a work trip in LA.

Highlights of LA – Kev and I visited both Y7 studios in Melrose and Silver Lake, we ran 5 miles up Griffith Observatory, went to the LA County Museum of Modern Art (LACMA), and had brunch at two amazing spots, Crossroads and Little Pine. I of course had to balance a lot of work out with some indulgences, so I had ice cream at Salt & Straw and Kiddos Creamery which were both delish.

A few weeks later in February, Kev and I spent President’s Day weekend in Aspen with friends. We had a blast skiing. On April 4th Kev and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary and he took me to see To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway with Jeff Daniels. It was SO good.

We celebrated my 31st birthday in Mexico. It was just for a long weekend but it was a blast. We stayed at Mi Amor, a Colibri Boutique Hotel. One day we went scuba diving and one day we explored old ruins.

Over Memorial Day weekend I visited my family in Michigan. It was nice because I got to have dinner with my immediate family to catch up, my dad and I played golf one morning and I went running at the newly redone High School track with my mom, and we celebrated my grandpa’s 88th birthday with the extended family at the lake.

The beginning of June we celebrated a friend’s birthday in Sea Island, Georgia. It was my first time to Sea Island and I LOVED it. He rented a cabana at the adult-only pool one day and we had two nice 3-course dinners. We stayed at The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, a luxury 5-star resort. Not only was our room huge, they brought large fresh baked cookies by our bedside every evening. One evening we also did a boat ride that left at The Cloister and I’d love to stay there next time.

We’ve also been enjoying the city while we’re in town. We went to a few vegan festivals in the city and tried new foods and products, we’ve been trying out new fitness studios including Precision Run, SolidCore, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Hackd, and 4U Fitness, we went on a graffiti and street art tour in Brooklyn with Graff Tours, and I took Kev to a show at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn to see Cillian Murphy in Grief is the Thing with Feathers which was weird but his performance was great.

Gaga in Vegas

A few weeks ago at the end of January, I fly to Las Vegas for the weekend with Kevin to meet up with my parents. We were only there for less than 48 hours so we had a jam-packed weekend of activities. Kev and I stayed at the Encore in Wynn because it’s nice but also because we wanted to go to the Encore which is our favorite spa.

We landed in Vegas on Friday night and had one night cap with my parents. We had an appointment at the Encore spa bright and early the next morning. We had an amazing, relaxing time. Not only was the massage great it was also nice having my mom there so I had some company while soaking in the Jacuzzi pool. It was also just as rewarding to see how much my mom enjoyed the whole experience.

My mom hamin’ it up

On Saturday night we saw Lady Gage perform at her Enigma tour. That was the main reason we went to Vegas–I bought my mom the concert tickets as a Christmas/Mother’s Day gift. We were general admission but there were seriously the best standing seats in the house because we were so close. Lady Gaga is such an amazing performer and she’s just as good live as on her album or on TV. I feel especially lucky to have gone to her show on that particular night because Bradley Cooper was there and he went on stage at the end to perform “Shallows” with her!!!

On Sunday morning we slept in, had lunch, then walked around for a bit before Kev and I headed to the airport to fly back to NYC. I’m not a huge fan of Vegas because I’m not a gambler and I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but it is definitely fun for a weekend. I was there for the right amount of time and it was nice catching up with my parents.

London – Jan 2019


Kev and I spent a long weekend over MLK weekend in London this year. We flew to London after work on Thursday and got there on Friday morning. I knew we were going to be tired so I intentionally planned a day light on activities, so we just had a relaxing afternoon tea at The Wolseley. The Wolseley was recommended to us by a few people so I was really looking forward to it, but I actually wasn’t very impressed. We’ve been to a lot of afternoon teas that I’ve really enjoyed but I can’t say I’ll go back to The Wolseley. The afternoon tea there wasn’t particularly good–there weren’t many tea selections and the pastries and sandwiches weren’t anything special, and the ambiance was noisy and not particularly inviting.

Afternoon tea at The Wolseley

We stayed at Le Méridien in Piccadilly which was a great location fairly central to all the activities we had planned throughout the weekend. After afternoon tea we headed back to the hotel but stopped in Waterstones Book Store first which is across the street from the hotel. I LOVE Waterstones. It’s seriously the best book store ever because it’s spacious, has a huge selection, and it’s well organized. We had fun browsing and even picked up a few books.

Afternoon tea in Hotel Cafe Royal’s Oscar Wilde Lounge

On Saturday morning we went to find coffee and ended up finding a good doughnut spot called Crosstown in Piccadilly that had tasty vegan doughnuts! We spent the rest of the morning having a blast shopping. I got a nice outfit from Max Mara and a beautiful scarf and corset belt from Alexander McQueen. After our little shopping trip we walked to Hotel Cafe Royal for afternoon tea in the Oscar Wilde Lounge. I originally picked this spot because they’re all about pairing the scents with food but it ended up being my favorite spot because not only was the ambiance amazing with the gold ceiling and mirrored walls and a feeling of regaleness and intimacy, but the tea selection was amazing and the food was good. I even got a little Diptyque candle to take home 🙂 The Celestine was some of the best tea I’ve ever tasted. It’s made of Madagascan vanilla pods and roasted cocoa nibs in a velvety Chinese black tea. I still dream about this tea! It was so good that Kev got a pot as well.

On Saturday night we saw True West on West End starring Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) and Johnny Flyn (Beast). The play was okay. I think the acting was good but the story line wasn’t that exciting, and frankly, I was confused about the ending. I actually heard during intermission that a few people were nodding off because of the slow start. Johnny Flyn surprisingly stole the show in my opinion but that may have been due to the character he played. Kit Harington redeemed himself more in the second half.

One of my fav social commentary artists, Kai

On Sunday morning we took a spin class at Another Space via Classpass which was a nice way to feel like a true Londener while also getting a good workout in. After our workout we sprinted back to the hotel to shower before heading to Shoreditch for a walking street art tour. The street tour was awesome and I liked our guide. London has a lot of street art and it was interesting learning more about the key players and how in certain areas the artists have to pay the property owners to put art on the wall of their buildings (some of the art is so good I feel like it should be the other way around!) Kev and I saw one of Banksy’s more recent street art pieces when we were in Paris last year, but it was still really cool to see some more of his stuff in London. We got to see two of his pieces of work which was exciting.

Afternoon tea at Rosewood London’s Mirror Room

After our street art tour we booked it to afternoon tea at Mirror Room in Rosewood London. I intentionally booked afternoon tea at Mirror Room after the street art tour because their pastries are inspired by famous works of art. As their site says, the “Retro-inspired afternoon tea includes a selection of mouth-watering finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and loose leaf teas accompanied by the creative pastries. Be prepared to discover a sense of nostalgia inspired by Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup can, Malika Favre’s retro twister, and special retro wall art. In addition to the iconic cakes, enjoy a modern take on the classics, such as Ferrero Rocher and Jaffa cakes.”

The pastries at Mirror Room were creative indeed but they weren’t the best tasting. However, their finger sandwiches were the best I’ve ever had–so much so that we ordered seconds which I’ve never done. We also had a special tea pairing option which was fun. After afternoon tea we met up with one of my girlfriends and her husband at Soho House to catch up which was a nice way to end the trip.

Monday morning Kev and I took another class at Another Space but this time a yoga class. It wasn’t as good or challenging as the spin class we took the day before, but it was still good to stretch before our flight back to NYC.

Overall it was an amazing trip. London is one of my favorite places in the world, so I always have a blast there. To me it’s like a more laid-back version of NYC. One of my fav parts of London is the afternoon tea. Of the three new spots we tried on this trip, I would rank Hotel Cafe Royal first for its ambiance and tea, then Mirror Room second for it’s sandwiches, and then far behind The Wolseley. I can’t wait for our next trip back already to try some other spots!