25th Birthday in Michigan

I’m not a huge birthday person anymore. Growing up my parents always planned a special day for more whether it was a surprise party with friends or a nice dinner followed by a dozen presents. After entering college, I stopped really caring about celebrating my birthday. I remember I didn't even want to do anything for my 21st birthday because it was around finals and I was too stressed

studying for my exams and wrapping up the school year. I was excited to be able to legally drink, and that was about it.

This year, while I didn't mind turning a year older on my birthday, I didn’t really have any desire to do anything so I decided to use my birthday as a reason to fly home to spend some time with my parents. I flew to Michigan from NYC on Friday evening. For the rest of the weekend we drove all over the place from outlet mall shopping at Frankenmuth to dinner to more shopping at Twelve Oaks. I even got to go back to my alma mater, The University of Michigan, to walk around before going to the movies to see Oblivion with Tom Cruise in IMAX.

Overall, it was a great weekend and I had a happy 25th birthday. I wasn't home long enough to meet up with any of my friends still living in Michigan, but I got to spend quality time with my parents which was nice considering I hadn't seen them in a few months.

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Million Dollar Quartet

Last week I saw anoff-Broadway musical, Million Dollar Quartet. It’s about Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins who on December 4, 1956 for the first and only time play together in the same Sun Records recording studio (hence, “”the million dollar quartet””). The show was at New World Theater in NYC (though Million Dollar Quartet is showing in Chicago and touring the rest of the U.S). It was my first time at New World Theater and I really liked it because the theater seemed more intimate, and it didn’t matter where your seat was since it only allows for a relatively small audience anyway. It was also the perfect stage to hold the eight or so performers who shared the stage for the duration of the show. Because it was a small cast, each actor holds importance and contributes to the dynamic of the group which in turn also allows the audience to really take notice of their individual roles.

I also like that Million Dollar Quartet is only an hour and forty minutes long without an intermission. Sometimes I get a little antsy sitting in longer shows. In addition, there wasn’t a fancy stage or wardrobe changes–the entire show took place on a static stage. But what came from the stage was anything but static. The performers were really great musicians. Going into Million Dollar Quartet, I didn’t have high expectations–I didn’t really have any

expectations–so I was pleasantly surprised that the show was

so good. I thought Eric Stang who plays Jerry Lee Lewis was particularly talented. He could rock out playing the piano with his hands behind his back all while laying on the hood of the piano.

The live music played during Million Dollar Quartet is great and the impersonations are good. You didn’t have to grow up listening to Elvis, Johnny Cash, et al. to enjoy the show even though you are bound to have heard at least a

few of the hit songs played. In a short period of time the audience is brought up to speed on the careers of the rock ‘n’ roll legends.

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see Million Dollar Quartet and I highly recommend it to everyone. I was really surprised I could be so entertained with a play based on the events that took place in a single night and that didn’t have set changes or elaborate costumes. I also liked how at the end of Million Dollar Quartet they show the original picture ofElvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins at the studio. It makes the whole show feel more authentic and special as if capturing an incredible moment in time. If you’re looking for a more affordable but equally as fun show, I recommend seeing Million Dollar Quartet off-Broadway. I brought along two friends with varying tastes, and they surprisingly both really liked the musical too, so I think it’s safe to say almost anyone will enjoy Million Dollar Quartet.

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Guide for Guys for Valentine’s Day

What should a guy get for a girl he’s not in a serious relationship with yet or for a girl he’s just recently started dating? And no guys, the answer isn’t nothing. Pretending to forget Valentine’s Day definitely won’t get you any brownie points.Whetherwelike it or not, February 14th is hardwired in most female brains.

I nostalgically think back to elementary school when I’d receive handmade valentine’s with scribbley boy handwriting confessing their love, stuffed animals, chocolates, “”candy grams”” in middle school in which you could buy holiday shaped suckers and have them delivered to your sweethearts home room, candy hearts, red, pink and white decorations, etc. Although it’s been a while since I’ve had puppy dog crushes and received valentine’s from secret crushes, I still can’t help having a soft spot for what some like to refer to asa “”Hallmark Holiday.””

Therefore, if you’re having trouble thinking of a good gift to give, I’m here to help. In addition, I don’t think you need to spend a fortune. If the girl likes you you’d be surprised how even a little something can light up your sweetheart’s face. I’m being honest when I say thoughtful gifts often surpass costly gifts. So every gift I’m about to list below is under $50. One of the keyways to getby with spending relatively little is to actually pay attention to your significant other’s hobbies and interests. Practical things will always be appreciated and put to use.

Valentine’s Day Gifts forWomen (all under $50):

  • Flowers die. Buy a potted plant.
  • Candles are always useful. I love having candles lit in my room at night while I’m reading. Make sure to get a good smelling one (may help set the mood too ;))
  • Chocolate covered strawberries. Yummmm.
  • If the girl has a sense of humor and also enjoys writing (and using cool stamps<–see Stamp Store blog post) you can get her the “”Uncensored True Love Cards& Envelopes“” at Urban Outfitters for only $12.50
  • Dinner and/or the movies. But not just any dinner and not just any movie. Be creative. Find out what her favorite food is and do your research to find a restaurant that received good reviews. As far as the movie, maybe take her to an independent film or a play.
  • Wine tasting
  • Most girls love dressing up, so take her to a fancy jazz club.
  • A pre-paid massage–yes

    please! Nothing is better than a day of relaxation to pamper yourself.

  • Beer-of-the-Month Club or Wine-of-the-Month Club if you know what she likes to drink.

Here are some things I recommend NOT getting your girl:

  • Roses.I know many girls may not agree with me on this one, but I personallythink that giving roses as a gift on Valentine’s day is taking the easy way out–They’re SO typicaland boring! If you have to get flowers at least mix it up a bit. Buy the girl roses bedazzled in glitter or something…
  • No bath stuff, Victoria’s Secret perfume sprays or lotions–too easy and overdone
  • No sex position books, body oils or flavored condoms. That’s more like a gift for yourself, not for your girl.
  • No clothes unless she specifically points out something she wants (How embarrassing would it be if you got her the wrong size too? Eek!)
  • Jewelry. For some reason, regardless if it’s an actual diamond or not, guys often freak out and get anti-commitment-phobia at the thought of having to choose jewelry for a girl. So save yourself theworry guys, and unless you’ve been dating for over a year or two, don’t fret about the bling.

Remember guys, Valentine’s Day only comes once a year, and even if you know the one you’re currently with isn’t “”the one,”” just think of this gift giving guide as practice to come up with unique ideas of your own in the future.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day all you love birds out there (and try not to hold hands and kiss in front of us single people, it makes me sick ;)) <3

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Alexander Hamilton House and Bear Mountain State Park

This weekend I took a trip upstate to a charming bed & breakfast, the Alexander Hamilton B&B, in Croton-on-Hudson. Kevin and I left on Friday right after work, and luckily we didn't hit much traffic. It took us a short hour and a half to get there, and the was pleasant. Thirty minutes out of the city I was surprised to see so many trees. Living in the concrete jungle, I forget that the rest of New York actually

has grass and trees and stuff.

Compared to the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Hudson which was kind of creepy, we really liked the Alexander Hamilton House. We stayed in the Victorian room which had a little room off the bedroom with a daybed and a big bathroom with a little boudoir. There were several other bedrooms on the second floor and the first floor has a few sitting rooms, the kitchen, and the dining room. The B&B also has a pool. While it was a little too cold to go swimming, it was the perfect temperature to keep our windows open at night. It was peaceful not hearing cars zooming by and sirens and cars honking. Instead we could be lulled to sleep by the soft chirps of the crickets.

For breakfast on Saturday morning, we had coffee, juice, fruit, chocolate chip muffins, and french toast. After breakfast I took a little nap and then we headed to Bear Mountain State Park to go hiking. We used AllTrails to help us select a trail. We chose the Major Welch Trail loop which was about 4 miles and took around 3 hours to complete. Difficulty: strenuous. I'm in pretty good shape, so I figured I'd have no problems climbing the mountain, but I was definitely breathing hard and sweating profusely climbing up the steep incline. That mountain is no joke. In fact, Kevin admitted he was a little sore in the morning. On the way down we took the Appalachian trail because…well because going up a steep mountain is one thing, but without hiking shoes, the descent is a little scary and I had visions of

losing my footing and injuring myself as I bounced down the mountain.

I'm not the only hiker who took that route. A commenter on the trail page wrote,

“”It is a very steep incline up mostly rock on the Major Welch trail. Going

down this way would be difficult. The Appalachian Trail section makes for pretty much the easiest descent you can ask for. The views of the Hudson in both directions are stellar. I wish there wasn't a road to the top though. The bikers like to ride up there and the traffic noise is present through some of the hike. I recommend this for anyone who is looking for a challenging hike that doesn't want to spend all day out on the mountain.””

Once we got down the mountain, Kev and I had a late lunch at the Bear Mountain Inn restaurant. I've been wanting to stay at the Bear Mountain Inn for a while, but they recently underwent renovations and with the nice weather and wedding season madness, all of the rooms were booked every weekend I looked into staying there. There were a lot of people at Bear Mountain State Park and in the Bear Mountain Inn restaurant and gift shop this past weekend. It was a gorgeous day out and perfect weather for hiking, so it was no surprise many others had the same idea.

On Sunday morning, we had an early breakfast at the Alexander Hamilton House before driving back to the city. Breakfast consisted of coffee, juice, blueberry muffins, and an egg casserole. We left full and satisfied. The inn keeper at the Alexander Hamilton house was extremely nice and welcoming, and I'd definitely go back. Kevin and I had a really good weekend. If anyone is looking for a little retreat, I definitely recommend staying at the Alexander Hamilton house and driving to Bear Mountain State Park. The fresh air and time spent in the “”wilderness”” was definitely something I needed to ease my mind before getting back into the daily grind.

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