Fall/Winter ’17 Reads

I read quite a few books the end of 2017 many which I recommend to others looking for a good new book to read. Below is the list from my most to least favorite:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I loved this book. I liked the plot and the author’s style of writing and how all of the characters were connected leading to a domino effect of events. Ng did a really great job with character development, especially with so many characters involved. It was one of the best books I read in 2017.

My Rating: 5/5

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Once I got a few chapters in I couldn’t put this one down. I sped through it and was entertained throughout. It didn’t have as “sophisticated” style of writing as Little Fires Everywhere, but I enjoyed the story.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I read Ready Player One per my husband’s recommendation. Science Fiction isn’t normally my top genre pick but I actually really enjoyed this novel. It was interesting and not so far out there that I couldn’t imagine. It brought me back to my college days when I had to read books like Neuromancer for one of my Communications courses. I got through this one pretty quickly too and I really liked the protagonist in the story, Wade (/Parzival ;). I’m glad I read the book before the movie comes out in March.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

This was on my reading list for a while and I’m glad I finally read it. I liked the main character, Anna, a strong-willed young woman who was determined to become a woman diver in the Navy Yard during WWII. Although I didn’t quite get Anna’s attraction to the gangster Dexter luckily that was only a sub-plot to the story. Overall it was a good feminist novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan

Interesting and unlike anything else I’ve read is my best way to describe Sourdough: A Novel. It was weird but in a good way.  A smart, kick-ass woman engineer ends up with a delicious tasting sourdough bread starter with a mind of its own. It’s a fun, light kooky novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

I thought it was cool that Stephen King worked with his son on a novel and it was one of my Book of the Month club books so I read it. While it’s not my favorite book it was entertaining and what I would expect from a King novel.

My Rating: 3/5

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I thought I liked In a Dark, Dark Wood which was Ruth Ware’s last novel and it was on the NYT Bestseller list among many other book club recommendation lists so I thought this was going to be good but it was only so-so. (Also, I’m shaking my head at myself because if I would have looked back at my own old book review blog post I would have seen that I did not actually like her other novel that much.) It was a light, easy read but I was annoyed with the main character the majority of the time.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Another thriller/mystery/suspense novel that winds you up and leaves you a little disappointed at the end. Is there a secret sauce to all thrillers where the women protagonists are weak and annoying for 3/4 of the novel and then miraculously are brave and solve the mystery at the very end?

My Rating: 2/5

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

This thriller/suspense novel was forgettable too.  Maybe this just isn’t my genre?

My Rating: 1.5/5

Trip to LA

I have been wanting to visit LA for a while so when Kev said he had to go for a business trip I jumped on the opportunity to accompany him. Since I didn’t want to take any actual vacation days and I’ve been meaning to visit the ABC LA office where my counterpart sits, I made it into a little work-fun trip for myself as well.

We flew out on Wednesday night and we lucked out because we were one of the last flights out before the East coast was hit with a snow storm. I worked on Thursday and Friday and was able to do a few fun things after work and on the weekend. My highlights were going to The Getty Museum, The Broad Museum, and brunching at The Ivy. We stayed at the Viceroy in Beverly Hills which was really nice. Kev’s cousin works there so we got the hook-up.

On Friday night we went to The Getty after work and on Saturday morning we went to The Broad. They both were amazing museums and I’m glad we went to both of them because they served a different purpose for me. I enjoyed The Getty for its architecture and the view. It was also really cool seeing the fog roll into the city below at dusk.  I enjoyed The Broad for its contemporary art. There were SO many good pieces including Andy Warhol’s Single Elvis (I of course had to send my Grandma a pic of that one), Roy Lichtenstein’s Non-Objective I, Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, Balloon Dog (Blue), and Tulips, a few pieces by Takashi Murakami, and many others. Even though we got to The Broad a half hour before it opened, there was still a long wait for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room so we weren’t able to see that, but I still had a great time and I absolutely loved all the different pieces. I felt so uplifted by the time I left both museums and I’m really happy that we went to both.

We ended our trip with a boozy brunch with friends at The Ivy in Beverly Hills, which walking distance from our hotel. It was definitely a scene.  The Ivy is one of the TMZ bus route stops to try to spot celebs which frequent the restaurant. The menu was amazing though and the ambiance was nice so I kind of get it. There were beautiful, fresh, colorful roses on every table, and the cocktails were fruity and delicious. We even splurged and got the dessert platter. We had a great time and it was a good way to end our trip. Overall we had a blast in LA and I will be back!


2017 Look Back

2017 was a pretty good year. Below is a quick recap of some of my favorite moments and trips.

  1. Getting Married!!! And our kick-ass honeymoon in Borneo, Bali/Indonesia, and Fiji
  2. Fall trip upstate including our stay at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and Halloween activities
  3. Trying new things in the city like the Aire Ancient Baths and going to our first professional soccer game
  4. Visiting beautiful, fun and spooky Savannah for the first time during 4th of July weekend
  5. My bachelorette party-Having my closest friends and family with me in NYC for a fun weekend to celebrate was awesome
  6. Ski trip in Aspen – It was my first time to Aspen and it was absolutely beautiful and so much fun!

I of course made a few resolutions for 2018. I feel strongly about continuing to learn and trying to improve myself, so setting New Year resolutions is just a cliche time for me to set aside time to put all of the goals–both career and personal–floating around in my head down on paper though I would do it throughout the year regardless to make sure those goals are identified and to hold myself accountable. Cheers to hopefully another great year full of travel, fun, trying new things and accomplishing things, and memory-making!

I had a great time bringing in the New Year in Times Square at the ABC party!

Christmas 2017 in Honduras

Kev planned an amazing Christmas for us this year in Roatán, Honduras. He was specifically looking for dive resorts and came across Anthony’s Key Resort which had good reviews. At first we were nervous because there is political unrest in Honduras and we weren’t sure how safe it would be but then we figured we would stick near the resort which would be fine. We stayed in Roatán which is one of Honduras’s Caribbean Bay Islands and we definitely felt safe there.

The resort was really nice but the diving was even better. We did three dives a day, usually at 8am, 10:30am, and 2:30pm. One of the days we did a 7am shark dive instead and a 5:30pm night dive. We saw so many incredible things: tons of fish (including my favorite pufferfish and box fish), crabs, lobster, octopus (on the night dive),  sharks (on the morning shark dive), spinner dolphins, and many sea turtles. December is Honduras’s Winter so while it was in the 70’s the whole trip it rained almost every day with intermittent bouts of sunshine. It didn’t really matter that much though since we were on the boat and under water for a good portion of each day.

We were pretty exhausted each day after three dives even diving with Nitrox the entire trip but it was also fine because we were able to go to bed by like 8pm every night. I quickly established a routine and after our last dive of every day we would head poolside to read and drink cocktails during happy hour.

The resort was beautiful, the diving was great and the food was pretty good too (and vegetarian friendly!!). Overall we had a fantastic trip and Kev and I had a really nice time together. I would definitely recommend Anthony’s Key Resort to other fellow scuba divers. Below are some of my favorite video clips from the trip:

Happy Thanksgiving 2017 – I am thankful for…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Not to get too sentimental but there are a few things that I am particularly grateful for this whirlwind of a year; in order of priority–Kevin, Pants & Boots, NYC, and subscription services.

I was lucky enough to marry Kev earlier this year. Everyone has been asking how married life is and it’s the same/great. We knew what we were signing up for and we’re both very happy with one another. We have a lot of fun together and I appreciate that, though I am typically the mastermind behind all of our adventures, he is always game and open minded to try something or go somewhere new. More importantly though, I love that he is my true partner. I am currently reading a book called Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu in which she describes her struggles during marriage of working a full time job in addition to running the household and baring the majority of the responsibilities and I feel lucky that Kev is willing to meet me halfway–he cooks, does dishes and laundry and is constantly doing sweet things. Thanks for being an awesome, progressive husband Kev Kev.

Pants & Boots
It is crazy how much I love these two fur critters. We got Pants as a kitten about five years ago. He was an amazing kitten and we had a lot of fun with him (lots of stories to share including him being obsessed with water and accidentally falling in the toilet and always perching on the edge of the tub whenever I’d take a bath) but he is also a sensitive little guy and truly loves attention and companionship, so when Kev and I started traveling more and more he literally became depressed. That’s when we got our girl Boots aka Botas aka Botalinas 🙂

Right away we could tell that Boots had a personality of her own. Truth be told, she was not quite as cute of a kitten as Pantsies (but according to the breeder Pants is actually close to show quality) but she was more playful and mischievous. Though she is a year younger than Pants and much more petite, she is the ruler of the two. And I feel so lucky that not only are they both sweet and have their own unique personalities but that they’ve also become the best of friends. Getting Boots as Pants’s companion was the best decision. They play with one another by chasing each other around the apartment and they sometimes cuddle next to one another. Wherever one is, the other is never too far.

I truly look forward to seeing them when I come home from work every day and they’re the best companions. When I am home they are never far from my side and whenever I am in bed they are quick to come lay beside me. <3

New York City
I love living in NYC so much but it is the times when I’m feeling frustrated with work or other things in my life that I feel even more grateful for the city. It can certainly be a tough place to live but it also helps bring me sanity. It provides so many opportunities–from work, to networking organizations, to being able to try so many cool new things like different boutique fitness gyms and different vegetarian restaurants–but it also keeps me entertained and stimulated. A bored Kayla is an unhappy Kayla and even if I’m bored or frustrated at work, having so many things to get involved in or to do in my spare time is what keeps me inspired and driven. So thank you NYC, you dirty but beautiful and inspiring, eclectic concrete jungle for challenging me, inspiring me, and opening my mind.

Subscription/Rental Services
This one may seem odd, but I am extremely grateful for subscription services for saving me both time and money. I want to give them a shout out and not take for granted the convenience they’ve brought to my life. Although some are concerned that Amazon is taking over the world, I am grateful for Amazon Prime for making it so easy to have all the little things I don’t necessarily have time to pick up during the week to be shipped to our apartment.

I am also thankful for clothing rental services like Rent the Runway Unlimited and Le Tote. I love clothes and I used to love shopping but it was taking up so much time and it was a waste of money going to a bunch of stores, wearing the item a few times and then donating it to Goodwill. I still do my fair share of shopping but I’ve definitely cut back on the amount of time spent shopping by just renting clothes through RTR and LT. That gives me more time on weekends to do more important things like spend more time with Kev, Pants & Boots, do activities around the city, and work out.

I have a lot to be thankful for and I will try not to take it for granted. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with their loved one.

Spooktacular Fall 2017

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The temperature is cooler so I can start wearing sweaters, booties, and my beloved leather jackets; trees look pretty with their changing leaves; it’s fun to visit Cider Mills for fresh cider, sugar doughnuts, and caramel apples; and there are a plethora of new and classic scary movies to watch leading up to the most fun holiday–Halloween! It is the BEST time of the year.

To kick off Fall this year I flew to Michigan for a weekend. On Friday I took the day off and my parents, Kev and I went to Spicer’s Cider Mill. We did a bit of wine tasting and bought a bunch of goodies. Spicer’s makes the best caramel and chocolate dipped apples. I bought  an assortment–one that had blue and yellow sprinkles (Go Blue!), one that looked like a mummy, and another that looked like a cat with caramel corn cat ears.

I also got to visit my grandma on Friday who just got home from the hospital after several weeks. It was really nice to see her and visit for a while, especially since I don’t make it home that often anymore. For dinner on Friday night I was glad I was able to see my bestie Becca. She made really good vegan enchiladas and I enjoyed being able to catch up with her.

Kev and I stayed with my bro at his new house in Canton. On Saturday morning we all went out for brunch and my cousin Randi who lives nearby came too. I feel lucky that I was able to see so many people in my relatively short visit. After a little catnap, we headed to Ann Arbor to hang out a bit before the Michigan vs. State game. We had dinner at Pizza House before going to the game. I bought the tickets for my parents for their respective birthdays and I splurged on really good seats for the game. Some of my cousins and about half of my high school went to Michigan State, so there is some fun rivalry there. The seats were in fact awesome but what wasn’t awesome was how horrible Michigan played. It was an embarrassing game and Michigan lost but me, my mom and Kev were troopers and stayed for the whole game, even when it started pouring rain (thank you mom for being prepared with ponchos).

A few weeks later Kev rented a sexy BMW i8 and we went upstate for the weekend. We stayed at the Catskills Animal Sanctuary Homestead bed and breakfast. It was our third visit to the Sanctuary but our first time staying at the Homestead. I really love that place. We took a tour on Saturday morning to see all of the animals and learn more about the cruel ways in which they are treated at factory farms (and even cage free farms) and alternative, vegan food options. We had a little bud named Oreo who followed us on our tour as well who was a cutie.

After our tour we went for a little hike at a nearby trail. It was only about 2 miles and it ended by the river which was extremely windy, but the foliage was still pretty. After our hike we stopped at the Homestead to quickly change and then we were off again. We drove about 90 minutes South to Sleepy Hollow for Horseman’s Hallow at Philipsburg Manor which is a haunted trail. It was fun and I jumped once or twice. After the haunted trail we drove about 15 minutes to Croton-on-Hudson for The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze which has a great display of jack o’lanterns. I actually liked the Blaze a little more than the haunted trail because I had never been to anything like it before. I thought the displays were very well done. My fav was the statue of liberty followed by the dinosaurs but the carousel, sea dragon, and sunflowers were really cool too.

The next morning after having vegan pancakes at the Homestead, we spent a little time saying goodbye to the animals (we met another little kitty that followed us on our walk that I’ve names Smores), and then we packed up and headed back to the city. On our way we stopped back in Croton-on-Hudson at Thompson’s Cider Mill. It is a small barn without much room to walk around or much to see so we were a little disappointed but we still picked up some cider, apples, and doughnuts for the road.

Those trips definitely got us in the Halloween spirit, so we were ready for the big day by the time Halloween rolled around. Kev and I dressed as Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas and Pants and Boots were a pumpkin and pirate (they were supposed to be dressed as characters in Nightmare Before Christmas as well but we have Kevin to thank for the costume change). Pants and Boots did not enjoy dressing up, however, Kev and I had a blast. teheh. After dressing up we went downstairs in our apartment building to the mezzanine to watch the Halloween Parade. Then we ended the evening perfectly with Stranger Things Season 2.


NY Experiences (Summer/Fall 2017)

I’ve gone to a few cool events over the past several weeks in the city. Here’s a quick recap:

Sam Hunt Concert – Kev and I went to a Sam Hunt concert at MSG in September. I really like his music and he puts on a great show. His voice is just as good in person as on his album.

– I dragged Kev to Brooklyn with me for Refinery29’s 29Rooms. Overall it was a pretty cool experience but it was pretty crowded (and hot) and apparently it was more organized this year than last. Some of my favorite rooms were Dunkin Donuts where they had tasting for three of their new Bakery Series flavors, Dyson where they had a room full of blow dryers and pinwheels, and Ulta who had a small carousel.

National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
– Nat Geo created a cool, immersive, interactive digital experience in Times Square. My favorite part was the maze of mirrors. There was also a cool interactive seal experience using motion sensors to get the seals to turn right or left or flip. My other favorite part was learning about the “Red Devil,” a jumbo squid that lives 200-700m down in the ocean. I can’t wait to go diving again.

Richard Branson TimesTalk
– I’ve been wanting to go to a TimesTalk for a while but was looking for one that I not only was available to attend but to also hear from someone I’m actually interested in, so I jumped at getting a ticket to hear Richard Branson. He is a pretty cool dude and I like how he credits his success to putting smart people in the right places. He also surprisingly hardly uses a cell phone and always brings a notebook to jot down notes during meetings.


Summer Reading

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water is a psychological suspense.  It was a decent novel but with as much hype as it got I thought it would be a little better. I give it 2/5.

American Assassin by Vince Flynn

I saw the trailer for American Assassin with Michael Keaton and Dylan O’Brien (the guy from The Maze Runner) earlier this summer and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to read the book beforehand which was a little surprising even to myself since manly action thriller novels aren’t usually my thing, but I’m glad I read it. It was an enjoyable read and like most books, it was better than the movie. I give it 3/5.

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

I really enjoyed White Fur which is a “gritty reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet.” Some of the scenes made me feel uncomfortable but I liked how raw and uncensored it felt, just like the main character Elise.  I would recommend this novel to others; I give it a 4/5.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is a collection of essays based on the thoughts and experiences of Scaachi Koul, who is also a writer for Buzzfeed. She touched on a lot of different topics from being Indian, racism, family, dating, alcoholism, growing up. It was a good collection of essays to read on my Kindle during my commute. Some parts were funny and/or interesting but there were definitely some points when I felt she was preaching a bit yet she is still ignorant about some things as well.

Overall, it was entertaining enough so I give it 3/5.

The Idiot by Elif Batuman

This book is pretty slow going throughout the duration of the novel and I kept waiting for something big to happen which never did, but for whatever reason I still enjoyed it. True story–I literally read reviews afterward to see if I am in fact the idiot which is why I missed the point but then I read this article from NPR which confirmed that there really is no point because that’s Batuman’s style of fiction. I like how they described it as “a long wander, a vague rummage.” This is definitely not a novel for everyone, so I would only recommend it to my fellow book nerds. In my opinion it is a 3.5/5.

Final Girls by Riley Sager

This is another novel I read pretty quickly on my Kindle to and from work. I liked Final Girls better than Into the Water which were both compared to Gone Girl although I don’t think the guy who turned out to be the killer makes much sense. I give it a 2.5/5.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

I picked up The Sympathizer at The Strand bookstore in Union Square when I was in the spirit after having recently seen Miss Saigon on Broadway. I liked it for the most part. Some chapters I got really into but then it would be brought to a low, slow simmer. It was hard to get a sense of time too; one chapter the main character is going about his day-to-day life and the next he mentions in passing that X amount of months/years had passed.

The author was also very descriptive at some parts. For example, he described a vivid scene from his youth involving sexual things he performed with a squid which was very disturbing but imaginative nonetheless. Unfortunately it’s the perverted scenes like that that I’ll probably remember the longest. Overall I give it a 3/5.

Goodbye Summer ’17

This summer came and went quickly.  Things were busy at work all summer and we couldn’t really go anywhere, but we still had a great summer doing activities in the city. Below is a quick summer recap.

Summer is the time of baseballllll! I went to my first Mets game with my friend Kelly and I went to a Yankees game with Kev.

Kev and I ran the New York Road Runners Retro 5-Miler. We had fun dressing up for it too with our knee high socks and matching arm and head bands.

We took many many walks along the West Side River throughout the summer on our way to our favorite movie theater in Battery Park. It’s so pleasant walking by the Hudson River in the summer when it’s not cold and windy.

As I mentioned, my summer was busy with work. We had a National Television Sales team softball game one Friday afternoon and I also went to our Chicago office for the first time for some meetings. Luckily I was able to stay with my friend Tiffany while I was there. We went on an architecture boat tour, walked around the city, and had an awesome brunch in the Chicago Restoration Hardware.

I got a preview of the Penthouse in our building which was amazing.

I had a fair share of desserts including ice cream from Taiyaki and cough dough from DO.

Kev and I discovered our favorite place for burgers, Saxon & Parole, which carries the Impossible vegan burger.

I finally made my way to Gilligan’s to try their frozen watermelon margarita.

I went to my first professional soccer game which was a lot of fun. We watched the New York Red Bulls play the NYC Football Club. I will definitely go to another game.

We celebrated our friends Jim & Kristin’s wedding at Meadowood in Napa Valley.

I volunteered through Disney VoluntEars. They partnered with the Central Park Conservancy and I helped weed in Central Park. It was the perfect day to be outside and do some good.

There was a Smorgasboard market close to our apartment. My favorite thing there was a churro ice cream sandwich.

(Okay, now I’m realizing why I lost zero weight over the summer even though I was physically active–literally half of my pictures are of me with dessert….)

Of course what better way to close out Summer and welcome Fall with the start of football season…kind of. I am trying to become more active with the University of Michigan Alumni Club of New York, so we’re starting to watch Michigan games at Barleycorn in Tribeca. Go Blue!

Labor Day 2017

Labor Day came upon us quickly this year, so Kev and I didn’t have a trip planned. We were actually looking forward to staying in the city though because we had both been busy with work and stuff and just wanted to relax. We had a great weekend though and ended up doing quite a few activities. Below are the highlights:

Friday – I got out of work early so Kev scheduled a personal boxing session at Overthrow in the late afternoon. We had a good workout and learned some cool new combinations. Then I dragged Kevin to the movies to see a scary movie, Temple. As you can see from the reviews, the movie wasn’t that good.

Saturday– On Saturday Kev and I had a spa morning at Aire Ancient Baths. It was the coolest experience ever. There were six thermal baths (a hot bath, ice and cold plunges, a warm pool, a flotarium– salt water pool, and the jet pool) as well as a steam room with aromatherapy infused with eucalyptus aroma. After an hour of relaxing in the different baths, Kev and I had an hour couples massage, and then got to hang out in the baths for another half hour. My favorite bath was by far the flotarium and my second favorite was the eucalyptus aromatherapy steam room.

After our relaxing morning, we then got dressed and went to Barleycorn’s to watch the Michigan vs. University of Florida game. From there we went to the movies and I made Kev see another scary movie with me, Annabelle. Luckily Annabelle was better than Temple.

Sunday – On Sunday Morning Kev and I ran a few miles at Mile High Run Club. We had lunch at Smorgasboard Market which is conveniently close to our apartment. We got an array of items to share including an authentic spinach mushroom quesadilla with homemade tortilla, edamame dumplings, and  a tofu sticky bun. To top it off I had a unicorn ice cream churro sandwich. It was a great combo of options to try.

 Later that evening we went to the US Open. We saw Petra Kvitová vs. Garbiñe Muguruza and Sam Querrey vs. Mischa Zverev. It was a lot of fun to watch and of course I had to get a Grey Goose Honey Deuce.

Monday – On Monday morning Kev and I went to 60 minute Bikram then took our time walking home and stopped by our favorite Brooklyn Bagels on the way back. We relaxed and read outside (literally the first time we’ve used our building’s mezzanine all summer) for a bit before going to the movies. We saw The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds which was pretty funny. When we got home I got a second wind and did some end-of-summer cleaning and got rid of a ton of clothes and shoes. I’m ready for you Fall!