Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmastime in the city

I love being in NYC during Christmastime! The city lights are even prettier with the holiday glow. At my previous job, I used to time my trips to meet with reporters for this time of year so I could see the tree at Rockefeller Center and buy gifts at the Bryant Park holiday market. I used to always stay in Midtown, so they both were nearby. Now that I stay in TriBeCa, not sure that I'll get out that way.

Since this trip is my first one to NYC as a mom of two, it made it extra special that my hotel left me some welcome back gifts (I crushed all of those yummies after dinner)!

I got to my hotel close to 8 p.m. so I was STARVING. Checked the menu at Locanda Verde and I could not stay away. Place is so busy that even the bar has a waiting list for seats. Got one pretty quickly and feasted on burrata (my most favorite cheese!) with butternut squash, leeks and truffle dressing followed by an amazing pumpkin agnolotti (mini ravioli). Divine! Tried a gin inverno holiday drink with rosemary and prosecco and practically skipped back to my hotel.

Last night was the first time Phil and I used FaceTime with the Pickle and he loved it! We spend a lot of time looking at photos on my phone before bedtime anyway, so it was perfect (I hear, "Mama, look at pictures?" A LOT).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sundance, here I come!

Yesterday, I booked a work trip to the Sundance Film Festival in January! When I was considering taking this job, Sundance was dangled as a potential destination, and I can't believe that it's happening!

I'll admit, I approached this trip with mixed emotions. Traveler Christina was fist pumping when I got the okay, while Mom Christina's stomach lurched thinking about how long I'd be away from my babies. I had the option to go for all 11 days, but my team and I are tag teaming, so I'll be gone for six days, which I think is a fantastic compromise (not so sure about Phil's take).

Of course, I've been preparing my wardrobe. When considering all of the parties etc., I wondered how many suitcases I'd have to pack with wardrobe options for cold weather and evening wear, but thankfully, I've learned that everything is pretty casual. So, I've got the essentials:

My boots

My coat
My muffs

I really wanted the Kate Spade tech gloves below, but I couldn't justify the price (and I worried that they wouldn't be warm enough), so I'm going to Jo-Ann it up and make my own.

I'm so excited for the films, the parties, the food, the scenery and hopefully, some celebs! I did a day trip to Park CIty when I was in Salt Lake City for the Olympics in 2002, and I'm excited to see all that's been added.

Anyone spend time at Sundance or Park City? Films you're excited about?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tips for visiting parents of a new baby

Man, my friends have it nailed! Just like with our first baby, they’ve been so generous with encouragement, help and food. If you’re like me -- I made an ass of myself many times over by not “getting” baby etiquette until I became a parent myself – here are some tips for that first visit.

Chill – Don't put pressure on too early for a visit even if you’re really excited (or family). If you’re a close friend, give it a few weeks. Even if you’re close family, realize that you’re not the only one who wants to visit, which can make that first week home even more hectic than it needs to be.

No hospital visits – Dear God, don’t even think of visiting if you’re not immediate family. If you do fall into that category, please don’t stay longer than 30 minutes unless you’re begged to stay. Medical staff pop in the room on the hour every hour and there’s a new baby, so parents really don’t get much resting done in the hospital. Also, please remember that Mom is a patient, not at a hotel.

Food is welcome New parents don’t have a lot of time to prepare (or eat) meals, so they will love you forever if you bring something edible when you visit, particularly if it’s easy to eat with one hand (baby will be in the other).

Hold the baby – Give mom and dad a chance to eat said food you brought and let their arms stop going numb for a few minutes. No worries if the baby cries in your arms because no one expects you to be a baby whisperer. Just attempting the feat will go such a long way.

Don't stay too long – When you do visit, keep an eye on the clock. Thirty to sixty minutes is plenty unless you’re begged to stay (which usually will only happen if you've been cleaning the kitchen or holding the baby while mom naps :))

Acknowledge an older child – If baby’s got a big bro or sis, remember to compliment him/her too on cuteness. If you bring a gift for baby, a small token for the sibling would be such a nice gesture.

Avoid visiting during nap time (for baby or an older child) – Peeps, that’s either when patents sleep, get shit done or spend some precious time together. Right before bedtime is another no no since little ones need time to wind down before being coerced into bed.

New(ish) parents – what tips would you add or challenge?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mama-and-me trip - success!

The girls are back in town! As the Pickle said when we got home, “No girls. Just guys.” He was glad to see his little sis.

Thankfully, Sienna is a good little traveler too. She was an angel on both flights just like D was when he was two months old and we flew to Dallas to meet up with Sarah and her girls. I was a little nervous before we left since I thought she might be getting sick, but we lucked out. 

Sienna sleeping like an angel in my arms on the flight home. Thankfully, my seatmate let me use the arm rest!
She definitely had her share of overwhelmed moments (see pic of the back of Sarah’s car below…three car seats of kiddos is a lot for anyone to take).

Sienna did not like being the monkey in the middle. Lots of noisy car rides.

It was lovely to travel with so much less gear than my last solo mama trip as evidenced here. Since Sarah had all the baby gear a gal could ever need, I just brought a diaper bag and a carry on (and baby, of course).

We kept this trip low-key and I felt much less exhausted coming home vs. Dallas. We had lots of yummy meals in Minneapolis restaurants and took walks with all three girls in Hudson, Wis., right by the river where Sarah lives. Before the airport on the way home, we visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Sienna’s first museum (we’ll be going to CMA when the Cassatt exhibit – perfect! – opens later this month).

One of my favorite parts of the trip was finding out that Sarah and our fam’s vacations in Hilton Head next year will slightly overlap so we know when we’ll see each other next!

I’m expecting to travel for work in the not-too-distant future, but not sure if we’ll head anywhere with the kiddos before next summer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First girls' trip!

My babydoll dreaming of her first trip!
So, long travel blogging break, but for good reason. I'm now a mom of two, which means vacations just got a whole lot more expensive! Little Sienna was born in July, and per the photo above (!), she is just aching to go on a mommy-and-me trip. Already, I can't say no to her so I just booked flights to Minneapolis to see visit my dear friend Sarah and her girls in Hudson, Wisconsin, in October.

I was landlocked late in my pregnancy, so I haven't been on a flight since May. I took a trip with The Pickle when he was two months old and he was an angel on both flights, so I'm hopeful that his sissy will follow in his footsteps. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Moroccan and meatball magnificent meals in NYC

Katelyn and I met a colleague at Café Mogadore, a charming, delicious Moroccan restaurant in the East Village Wednesday night. At our colleague’s urging, we tried the best halloumi skewers ever (sorry Nighttown), chicken tangine, a strawberry rhubarb crumble and a pear and cranberry pie. Everything I tried was sooo good. I’m not a huge chicken fan, but the chicken that was roasted in the tagine was incredibly flavorful and tender. It also was free-range and organic…yay! I ordered the casablanca sauce, which featured chickpeas and raisins, and the dish was served over cous-cous. There were other meat, sauce and grain options – I was happy with the choice my server recommended.

Chicken tagine with casablanca sauce and cous-cous
Strawberry rhubarb crumble
Pear and cranberry pie
A friend from work in Cleveland (thanks JHo!) made me promise to try one of The Meatball Shop locations during a NYC trip, so I had it on the brain on Thursday. This place grinds their own meat, sources their ingredients locally and also makes homemade ice cream sandwiches, using different cookies (you can mix and match!) for the sandwich.
Meatball smash with spicy pork balls, pesto and mozzarella
I tried a Meatball Smash, which includes three balls with your choice of meat (or vegetarian option), choice of sauce and cheese on a yum bun. A light side salad comes with it. I ordered spicy pork balls with a pesto sauce and mozzarella. The serving size was perfect – not too big and not too messy and YUM!!!

How could I not try the homemade ice cream sandwiches? I sampled caramel ice cream sandwiched by a snickerdoodle and chocolate chip cookie. Amazing!
 We ordered takeout to make it back for a meeting despite a full house, and our order came out in about five minutes.
House made ice cream sandwich with caramel ice cream and a snickerdoodle and chocolate chip cookie

Go to both of these places. They were awesome and I’ll go back to each of them.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Out with a bang in NYC…Trump SoHo penthouse style

Since I’m 7.5 months prego, this trip was my last jaunt to NYC pre-Kabongo. It was a pretty great one! Wednesday night, we lucked out with an invitation to share a duplex terrace penthouse suite at the Trump SoHo that our colleague scored via a complimentary upgrade. Think The Hangover villa, but two stories, no tiger in the bathroom and I’m coming home with all of my teeth. This mofo goes for $7,500!!!!!!!!!

Our home away from home was the Mac Daddy of the penthouses since it was the only bi-level option with two bedrooms on separate floors, two living rooms, three bathrooms, two entrances, a kitchen, a dining area and a kickass wrap-around terrace with amazing views of the city (including a telescope focused on the Empire State Building). Oh and our couch was a Fendi.

My pics don’t do the views justice. At 2,300 sq. ft., this baby is bigger than my house. I was most excited about the ginormous tub with floor-to-ceiling views and the extra fluffy and extra- long bed pillows…both are a prego lady’s dream

Our colleague invited some work peeps over to enjoy our lux digs and the great views so this mama stayed up WAY past her bedtime. Totally worth it!

The bar has been set for hotel rooms. I challenge the universe to dazzle me at some point in my life with an option that’s even more amazing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Frequent flying tot

Our Pickle is becoming a traveling pro! At 20 months, he took his third flight and visited his fifth state.

Like San Francisco, we purchased his seat so he could be contained in his car seat. With my growing belly, I did not want to deal with juggling him back and forth between the two of us in our seats. At this point in my pregnancy, I get uncomfortable when the person in front of me reclines his seat on a flight, so imagine figuring out how to store a wiggly toddler on my lap. No thanks.

I was extra glad we bought his seat when we learned our flight home was sold out and delayed. The Pickle was a champ and slept for most of the flight home. While waiting at the gate, he was high fiving our fellow passengers and taking candy from strangers. Having a play area at the Tampa airport also helped bunches to keep him occupied since he was past his nap time.

This trip was taxing for me, but I'll treasure the memories of him playing in the sand and smiling at the surf. (Him sleeping horizontally between Phil and me with his bowling bowl head in my back...not so much.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Live music: a lifesaver when dining out with tots on vacation

The Pickle's initials are's no coincidence that DJ is part of his initials since this kid loves to dance! He particularly enjoys live music. (Maybe attending a Lady Gaga concert 9 months pregs inspired him in utero?)

On Saturday, we stopped at a little Cuban place for some al fresco dining and live music. It was past Dylan's bedtime, but since he was infatuated with the performers, he held up well.

He also did pretty well at the wedding reception last night because of other little minis running around and the steel drums. He even started a toddler congo line!

Toddler travel tip: if you need to keep the kiddos up past their bedtime for dinner, find a restaurant with live music. Works for us!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Best man and ring bearer

A bit windy, but still gorgeous.

Scored the Pickle's linen ring bearer outfit and sandals from BabyGap. Too cute, no?

Our growing fam...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mom and me morning in St. Pete

How would you like to start your morning off with this on your plate? I had my earliest brunch ever at 8 a.m. since the Pickle woke up early and Phil was off fishing with the groom and groomsmen.

I consulted Trip Advisor for yum St. Pete Beach breakfast spots and got Beverly's and Frog Pond as recs. Since they're across the street from each other, I figured we'd see which one struck our fancy upon arrival.

We ended up at Beverly's La Croisette, and I ordered the fantastic blueberry, banana and pecan pancake. It was huge and served me well as leftovers for lunch.

At the intersection next to Beverly's there was a fun fresh market on Corey Street, which houses a bunch of art galleries. We browsed and looked longingly at the gourmet hot dog food truck, but we had just stuffed our faces and definitely were not hungry.

I figured we'd save Frog Pond for another morning. The rehearsal dinner is at Mad Fish tonight, which looks fun, so I'm excited.

How often do you see a retro diner and palm trees that serves upscale seafood? Yum!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Love and beaches

My love and I are celebrating our 5-year anni during this trip to St. Pete Beach. It's also tripling as a destination wedding for our friends and our second babymoon before Kabongo debuts in July.

So fun to celebrate milestones with sun and surf!

For our honeymoon, we sunned, slept and stuffed our bellies at a resort in Punta Cana:

For our babymoon, we took it easy in Key West:

And, the view for this trip:

We've been talking about planning a beach vacay with friends and SITTERS for next summer down south and I think that would be amazing.

So far, Punta Cana is still tops. What's been your favorite beach?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Bare or Not to Bare on the Beach

I'm talking about my belly, fools, not boobs. Although I've been pondering this question so much, you'd think I was considering visiting a topless beach.

So, here's the deal. When we babymooned in Key West two years ago, I was six months pregs and we didn't know anyone at our resort. Our trip to St. Petersburg for our friends' wedding is coming up, which is also serving as our five-year anni/babymoon trip, and this go-around, I'm a very seven months pregnant. (Trust me: six months pregs with baby #1 is a very different look than seven months pregs with baby #2.) My belly feels way more out there! Also, and more importantly, we'll see our friends on the beach.

So, I have the suit I wore above and I have a black maternity tankini. We'll see if I end up breaking out the former on this trip...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mad for Momofuku

It all started on Monday when I spotted one of these cookies on a counter at work. I bit into the blueberry and cream one, moaned in delight and then read the packaging to see it was from Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. That's all it took to get a Momofuku fix. Chef David Chang is amazeballs.

I ate at the Ssam Bar for lunch a couple years ago and still remember how yum the pork buns were. I googled locations close to Tribeca and thought my coworker Katelyn and I could try to grab dinner at the Noodle Bar despite them only taking rezzies for large parties. Uh no. There was a 60-minute+ wait in the teeny tiny entrance.

Tried Urbanspoon for a backup rec and it pointed us a few doors away to Momofuku Ko. Deny #2. Although, checking the menu prices afterward, that might not be a heartbreaker.

We decided to grab some Japanese fare across the street and I had a udon dish with curry and tofu. A bit salty, but I heart udon and was happy.

When Katelyn said she could go for something sweet (this girl eats veggies all day long), I mapped the closest Milk Bar, googled the hours (open till 12 a.m.!) and off we went. I had THE BEST milkshake I ever had (sorry Michael Symon). It was the perfect size (petite), consistency (not thick) and taste (chocolate-covered pretzel...nice malty flavor). YUM!!!!!! Katelyn bought us a cookies assortment and we split the compost cookie with butterscotch, potato chips and a host of other deliciousness. I will kill her if she eats the cornflake-marshmallow one without me.

In other good news, I am back on track with manis in NYC. Even got a pedi tonight and it was warm enough to sport my flip flops to dinner (sorry wintry-mix Clevelanders). My prego tootsies are good as new!

Back home tomorrow night.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New luggage!

Mama got some new luggage!

I've had a hodge podge of bags for a while so when I saw Heys USA on Rue La La, I scored a new set of super lightweight luggage with awesome spinner wheels (these things cannot tip over). Love them so far and so does The Pickle.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm buying a condo in NYC

J.K. I've just been to NYC a lot in the past two months (5 times). I'm woefully behind in posting about my last two trips (3.14/15 and 3.28/29). I think it's because I jinxed myself in my last post about manis helping to make a biz trip awesome. No manis during my past two trips! However, I do have a gift card to use at a nail salon there next week and I did still score dinners, albeit so-so.

So, here's a quickie recap of yum dishes:

Sarabeth's Tribeca on Greenwich: The risotto was underwhelming, the beet salad was better, and the raspberry bread pudding was mmmm.

Pecan: Still my go-to breakfast spot (and sometimes lunch). I got short-changed with my sweet potato waffle last time! During my first sampling, I got just blueberries. This time I got blueberries, strawberries, bananas and nuts! I didn't think this dish could get better. AMAZEBALLS!

Bread Tribeca: Allison picked this spot for lunch on Friday, and it was good! Got the soup/panino combo (tomato soup and proscuito/mozz panino). Nom nom.

Rosa Mexicano: Disappointed with the atmosphere and eats, so I'm not posting pics. I hadn't been to a NYC location, just D.C., but a colleague had and she agreed the quality and atmosphere were lacking.

I hadn't had a chance yet to shop during one of my trips, so we played hooky before our flight and stopped at Topshop (I’ve been to both U.S. stores now…and bought nothing at neither).

Our lux dinner consisted of Pinkberry and then Auntie Annes at LGA, and honestly, they hit the spot!

Headed back to the Big Apple next week...I've only got so many potential trips left before my belly is forbidden to fly!

I love Hodges' tots so much I flew out of CAK and didn't complain

OK so the second part of that statement is a lie. I totes bitched about my 6 a.m. flight out of CAK last week. I'm still recovering, which is why this post is so late (ba da bing!).

I accepted an invite to a blogger preview dinner to Hodges before planning another trip to NYC, which Phil was super excited to attend. If you know my hubs, you know that super excited is not a state he's in often, so I could not bear to disappoint him and took a super early flight out of CAK to make a meeting since I couldn't fly out Wednesday night.

OMG. Even though I stayed at a hotel near the airport the night before, it's not really fair for anyone to be around a six-month prego lady who had to get up before 5 a.m. But enough complaining, and onto the food!

I cannot be more excited to be working so close to Hodges! Chris knows his potatoes, of course (TOTS!), and I've loved the food I've sampled. The hangar steak entrée is a winner for both lunch and dinner, and the French onion ravioli is a unique dish worth trying. Here are so picked from the two meals I've had so far:

Baked potato tots

Pork and beans app
Scallop with English peas from the Chef's Garden

French onion ravioli (lunch portion)

Cool check presentation
I'm supposed to go for lunch tomorrow, and it will be my third visit in just over a week. Yay April!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

If I can score a mani and a good meal, then it's a good work trip

True story: regardless of most other circumstances, if I can get a quick mani and eat a fantastic meal, then I'm usually pretty happy about my work trip overnights. Checked off that list when I was back in NYC on Tuesday night and Wednesday, and got a bonus hotel room upgrade to a suite with a lovely morning view (see above).

I traveled with a co-worker who drooled over my Nobu dining last trip, so I had to bring her there. I ordered more of the rock shrimp, veggie tempura and veggie roll to share and this time, we added skewers (I had scallops with a tasty sweet terryaki sauce) and dessert. Check out my fun Bento Box below (chocolate lava cake and green tea ice cream).

Before dinner, we tried a new nail place, YaYa Nails on Grand in Tribeca, and I found a new polish that I LOVE: OPI's I Have a Herring Problem from the Holland Collection.

For breakfast Wednesday morning, we went back to Pecan on Franklin Street, but this time, had time to sit and eat, so I ordered a sweet potato waffle that I had been lusting after since my first visit last month. It did not disappoint!

For lunch, we tried Peace & Love on Greenwich, and I had a yummy chicken, mozzarella and avocado panini.

Love all these places for eats and can't wait to discover more spots when I'm back next week.