In a New York Minute

Last weekend, me and my sis took a three night trip to NYC. It was her first time, and I wanted to show her around (because, yannow, I’m basically a local at this point), and I thought I’d share some of our trip highlights with all you cuties (AKA, my mom, best frand who lived in NYC, and the two other blog readers who might have still stuck around for some gd forsaken reason).

Our trip began around 9 pm on Friday night. We stayed right in midtown Manhattan, and were fortunate enough to have a great bar (and rooftop bar) right in the hotel. So we immediately got a drink, relaxed a little, and then wandered around our neighborhood.

We awoke the next morning relatively refreshed, and headed to Ess-a-bagel to carb load for our lengthy day ahead of us.

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Requisite New York bagel shot, because duhhhhhhh.

We then took the subway up to Central Park for the morning. I’ve learned to navigate the subway system there like a mfin boss, and I’m pretty proud about it. My sister picked it up quickly too because she’s got good navigation skills due to being a seasoned traveler.

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The morning was a bit chilly, but it warmed up quickly. We wore a lot of layers and I went from jacket and hoodie to tank top in a matter of like 8 hours. Anyway, Central Park is nice and quaint, and it never gets old. I mean, it got a bit old, but she wanted to see it, so there we were.

We then subwayed back down south to Soho for an afternoon of brunch and shopping. In hindsight, we should have done the shopping in the AM so we actually had energy to try things on, but our bank accounts thanked us for not doing it correctly. We had a boozy brunch in Nolita at Pietro, where I met my awesome Instafriend @thepizzakween, AKA Jenna, and we had the nicest time. Until we got rudely kicked out because the table was needed for a reso. The food was actually so good, and the company was even better. PK is a real one, and I’m basically obsessed with her! Go follow her. She’s hilarious and genuine and so cool!

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She cute af.

After lunch and shopping, we went back to the hotel to relax before dinner and a night out. We had dinner at Koi in Bryant Park, which is the most incredible Japanese resto, with locations in NYC, Vegas and LA. Cocktails were on point, as was the food.

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Sis snapped this in front of the carousel in Bryant Park.

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Crispy rice with spicy tuna. NO WORDS.

We then head out to 230 Fifth Rooftop, because every damn tourist needs to go there for a drink to see the Manhattan skyline lit up at night. It got a little messy, not gonna lie, so here’s the requisite tourist shot and I’ll end this night here.

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Views.

The next morning, I did a quick photoshoot with the most incredible photographer, @wildnyc. I wasn’t feeling my best, but I think the shots turned out incredible. Here’s my fave one:

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On Instagram, I dubbed this one “2019 Blair Waldorf.” Outfit is entirely from Aritzia, obvs.

We spent the rest of the day exploring different neighborhoods in Manhattan, and then went to check out Brooklyn, because I had never been.

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Iconic.

Overall, it was a whirlwind long weekend, but as always, I left my heart there and will have to return ASAP. There’s just something magical about this city. I get butterflies every time I fly in, and my heart sinks every time I fly out. Thank you for the fun times NYC; ILYSM!

Cancun 2018

New year, who dis?

Happy 2019 friends! As I look back and reflect on 2018, I’m honestly so grateful I was inspired to start this blog in June. It’s opened the door to so many opportunities for me on Instagram. I’ve met so many wonderful new people, said yes to things that were waaaaaay outside my comfort zone, and even began a podcast all about self-care! Having a voice and a creative outlet has been so wonderful for my mental health, and it’s lead to me conquering so many of my fears and anxieties. I socialize and go out more often, drive downtown (where as I used to say no to things because downtown driving scared me shitless), and it’s just generally made me less self conscious in public (hello taking food photos with a ring light while other patrons stare at me). It’s also brought me and the hubby closer together, as he’s often my partner in crime on my foodie outings. He’ll take the photos (he has more of an eye for the aesthetics and plating), and then I edit and post. We’re quite the duo!

Anyway, this post isn’t about my year in review. It’s about our trip to Mexico over Christmas. We stayed at a resort on the Cancun strip called Panama Jack, and it ended up being a solid choice. It was a last minute booking, and we weren’t disappointed at all!

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When we first arrived, we asked for a larger suite. The rooms are quite small, and we needed to accommodate both kids on separate beds, because we just knew they wouldn’t sleep well together in the same bed. So we opted for a room upgrade for about $50 USD a night. Pricey, yes, but worth it I think. It was still a smaller room, but we fit two beds in for them, had an ocean view, and also had 24/7 access to a VIP buffet that served tons of delicious food and top shelf alcohol. The room itself was super clean, modern, and had solid amenities. The only downside was it didn’t have a bathtub, so the kids had to shower, which isn’t their favourite, but it was massive and we made it work.

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The food and the drinks were amazing. Generally speaking, the staff at the resort are very eager to please and provide amazing service. Everyone seemed happy and friendly, and the chefs were really into presentation of the food. Most of the food tasted as good as it looked. I mostly had omelettes made every morning for breakfast, and tacos for lunch. I drank mango margaritas mostly, but they also had this drink that I think is called a Miami Vice or something and it’s green, red, and yellow, and it was delicious as all heck. My daughter ate relatively well, but my son did not. He survived on fries, boxed cereal, ice cream, and mac and cheese. Some things they just couldn’t do, like Asian food night. It wasn’t working for me. Also, full disclosure, we did get food poisoning one night, which is pretty common in Mexico at an all-inclusive where the water can be contaminated, buffets have lots of hands touching things, and food might not be kept at the required temperatures. My other complaint is they only had 2 a la carte restaurants, neither which took reservations, which meant long line ups if you didn’t go as early as 5:15 pm! Other all-inclusives we’ve been to have had upwards of 10 a la carte restaurants with ample seating. But on the plus side, this was a smaller resort, with everything in close proximity, and we liked not having to walk far to the pool, restaurants, our room, etc. Especially because our bellies (okay just mine) were constantly full of tacos and margaritas, so frankly we were lazy af most of the time.

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They also had an amazing coffee shop in the lobby where I was able to get hot coffee and cold brew daily. This might’ve been my favourite feature of the hotel. The weather wasn’t great (extremely windy, overcast and rainy some of the days), so I’d often just sit at the coffee shop or get over-caffeinated and work out at the indoor gym.

The best part of this resort was how kid-friendly it was. EVERYONE there had young children, and those who didn’t chose the wrong hotel. They had so many amazing activities geared towards kids, and there was an amazing water park with tons of water slides that my kids had a blast going on. The kids club was for children 4+, but we lied about our 3 year old son’s age (let’s pray no one from the hotel reads that), and they took him along with my daughter. So every afternoon between about 1 and 3 or 4 pm, we’d drop them off and have some time to ourselves by the pool. They’d come back from the place with candy, face paint, arts and crafts, and other awesome things that made us confident with our decision to drop them off daily.

Overall, despite our illness (there was a doctor visit in there too in addition to the food poisoning, because my son got a high fever for a couple of days), we had a really great time. Because he was ill, he was pretty sleep deprived and miserable for a lot of it, and badly behaved, but we made the best regardless. Going to all-inclusives with kids isn’t easy, but I’m glad we did it, and I think we’d probably go back to one…

….without them.

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Thankful.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving friends! I know I haven’t blogged in forever, but the reason for this is threefold:

  1. I’ve been bogged down with planning and marking at school.
  2. I’ve been focusing on our podcast (episode 2 about food and nutrition as self-care is now available on the podcast app! Just search “Self-care with Lauren and Blair” to listen!)
  3. Aaaaand I just haven’t been inspired to write, unfortunately, and I didn’t want to blog for the sake of blogging.

But here we are, and damnit, I’ll try to write something relatively coherent and engaging for all of y’all, because I know my 5 loyal followers want it.

What am I thankful for this year? Like, a lot. It’s been a really good time both personally and professionally, and I need to make a list because I love lists and lists are awesome.

1. My health. Always first and foremost. How lucky am I that my body is healthy enough to allow me to do high impact exercise 3 days a week? To run around with my children? To get out of bed every day and live a productive life? I will never ever take this for granted. When I sit on that spin bike, I thank gd for my health multiple times. I also thank gd I’m not pregnant, because being in that body really freaking sucks, but that’s a whole other blog post.

2. My family. I mean, duh. I’m eternally grateful that my children are happy and healthy and not the spawn of Satan. I also feel so blessed to have a wonderful husband, the best parents, and the cutest of sisters eva.

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Apple picking when it’s still hot out is fun too. (TB to a few weeks ago…)

3. My friends. I tightened my inner circle A LOT this year and it’s been very liberating. I have the world’s most patient friends, because for the last four months, my conversations, meals, and life in general have revolved around Instagram. They don’t get to eat until I’ve photographed (or rather, they’ve photographed because I’m a shitty photographer) their meals, and my conversations with them are a steady stream of follows and unfollows, podcast plans, and asking which picture to post. I’m sorry guys. I really truly suck. You’re all amazing for tolerating me.

4. Impromptu weekend trips to NYC. The fact the most incredible city in the world is just a one hour flight away is nothing short of amazing! I don’t want to live there, but every few months I just feel the pull of the city and gravitate towards it. It’s an addiction, I suppose, but the energy, food, nightlife, and shopping are beyond magnetic.

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5. My job. I have the best students this semester. We have the most interesting class discussions, and they’re all so engaged and participatory. It’s rare to get a group where the majority of the students have strong opinions, so this is pretty much English teacher heaven for me! Also, in case people think teenagers are rude and disrespectful, I want to tell you that every morning, my students come into my class and greet me with a “hello” or a “good morning.” When they leave the class, they say “have a good day miss,” or “bye!” They’re such mensches! I really appreciate their warmth and kindness, because it keeps me in a good mood and sets a really positive tone for the day.

6. Refined carbohydrates and gluten. Pizza. Donuts. Tacos.

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This maple bacon donut from Dipped Donuts in Kensington Market is pretty much the epitome of fall in Canada, amirite? I think I am most grateful for this donut. Like, I love my family and stuff, but…donuts win.

Mommy Blogger for a Day

Let me preface this post with two things:

  1. This is the post where I officially give up on censoring my kids’ faces. That was fun while it lasted, but I’m two months into my blogging journey and now I’m too lazy, so like…meh. Enjoy their faces.
  2. I promise after this parenting post I’ll resume normalcy with my lifestyle, food, exercise and fun content.

So last week we went to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls for two nights to celebrate my daughter’s 6th birthday. Wait. Let me pause for a second. SIX!? How have I been a mom for so long? Good lord I’m old.

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As you can see, the kids had the most amazing time! As for the adults, there are certain things you must accept if you’re going to go:

  1. The place is a cesspool of germs. I feel like all the chlorine in the world can’t kill the gonorrhea that likely exists there. Sorry to alert you all to this, but it’s a reality. So make your peace with it before you go.
  2. You can’t look cute here. Due to humidity and all activities being water related, you need to embrace looking like a homely dirtnugget for the duration of your stay. I threw my hair up in the rattiest top knot (see above for evidence) and didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. I looked like a troll for 48 hours and frankly, it’s okay. I’ll be okay.
  3. The margs at the pool aren’t strong enough. Ask for a double, because #sanity.
  4. The talking animals are scary as shit.
  5. Get comfortable dancing to Taylor Swift and doing the Cha Cha Slide in public. Likely sober. The struggle was real.

Anyway, this was my token mommy blogger post. How did I do? Now I’ll leave you with something more fun, because of course the second I got home from the trip, I needed to do some serious adulting and went for a night on the town.

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Unapologetically living my best life this summer.

Wanderlust – My NYC Roundup

Hi friends! I’m home! My four days in New York City were the most magical days I’ve had in years, so I’m obviously here to share my time with you. Please enjoy a post written by a late 30 something who lived like an early 20 something, and try not to judge me too hard, okay? Give a middle aged mother of two some freedom in the best city in the world, and it’s a given that she’ll go a little crazy. #noregrets

So we got into NYC Friday around 2 pm. Our flight was delayed because of some insane thunderstorms and a flood warning, but we got there, and decided to take public transportation to our hotel in Times Square. Also, ew, don’t stay in Times Square, okay? Do yourself a favour and book yourself a pricier boutique hotel in SoHo, so as to avoid the chaos, STIs, and various other gross things that exist in Times Square. This is now the second time I’ve gone and made this mistake, and no matter how magical it is there at night, when the sun rises and you see how truly revolting the place is (you’ll smell it too), you’ll want to run like hell. But you won’t be able to, due to hoards of tourists, naked body painted women, terrifying characters, etc.

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This matcha churro was literally the only good thing to come out of Times Square. And believe me when I say I earned it, after hauling an extremely heavy piece of luggage up and down the subway system to get to the hotel.

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After bathing in the stink of Times Square for a bit, we ventured out to Soho for dinner at La Esquina, a super authentic Mexican restaurant on Kenmare St. From the outside, it’s an unassuming little store/taco stand, but then you go down some stairs into this cavern and it’s all just like…mood. I tried to film it, but the bitch hostess yelled at me, “no video!” Welcome to New York. Anyway, the place was pretentious AF and straight up, the food and margs were mediocre. It’s super hyped up and I think rated very highly, but we were underwhelmed. I mean, they couldn’t even make us some chips and guac. WTF? Don’t call yourself a Mexican restaurant if you don’t serve guac.

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Excuse the taco bloat in this pic.

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Saturday we decided to do touristy stuff. We went to the 911 memorial, and it was so sombre and hit me so hard. I was particularly upset seeing the names of women with unborn children on the plaques, which stuck with me the rest of the day.

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We then walked down to Battery Park to stroll and see the Statue of Liberty. I love this shot that I took (almost as much as the other shots I took later that night), because to me, it really encapsulates the city.

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After we had our share of sightseeing, we decided to subway back to Soho for lunch and some shopping. I made a pitstop at Cha Cha Matcha, obviously, and then we had the most incredible brunch at Seamore’s, on Broome St. in Nolita. After lunch, we shopped, and I bought myself obnoxious festival-esque sunnies from Madewell, because I secretly think I’m still 18 years old.

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We had dinner that night at Koi in Bryant Park. I LOVE Bryant Park so much. It’s just steps from the filth of Times Square, but it’s so picturesque. This meal was much better than the previous night, and the crispy rice spicy tuna pictured here was out of this world. It was my second time eating here (third or fourth if you count the times I’ve been to Koi in Vegas), and it did not disappoint. Delicious cocktails and amazing sushi. It’s pricey, but very high quality. After dinner, we chilled in Bryant Park, and then ventured back to the hotel to get ready to hit up a real, actual nightclub.

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This, friends, is the Park, in Chelsea, and yes, it’s just as magical as this picture is. Somehow this beautiful venue, combined with the music and the drinks, compelled this old lady to stay out welllllllll past her 9 pm bedtime. I won’t tell you what time we stayed here until, but I’ll tell you that last call is 4 am in New York.

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Aaaaaand then this was me Sunday morning. I believe the kids call this “ratchet,” yes? I’m never staying out all night again. 9 pm bedtimes FOR.EVER.

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I don’t have a lot of photographic evidence from Sunday, because I was in a special kind of state, but in the morning we wandered through the Upper East Side. I don’t know why. I guess it felt good to get some fresh air after practically pulling an all-nighter, but I felt like garbage. We had lunch at By Chloe, a vegan restaurant I was looking forward to trying, and it was pretty delish, but my stomach wasn’t having ANY of it. In the afternoon, we saw Book of Mormon, and I legitimately laughed straight through the entire 2 and a half hours. It was so ridiculously offensive. Right up my alley!

Sunday evening we laid low, and just grabbed a slice of ‘za and wandered a bit, and Monday we grabbed a bagel for breakfast and ventured out to Central Park for our last morning before our flight home.

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Carbs with a view. The best!

And there you have it! We had the best time, and can’t wait to go back again!