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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

I recently attended a friend’s wedding on the coast of Italy (the town was called Rodi Garganico) and really wanted to share the photos as it was stunningly gorgeous and just so much fun! My friend married an Italian (they met in New York City on a co-ed soccer team…Cue the collective ‘Awww’ here) and believe me when I tell you, Italians know how to party in the best way.

*A lot of these photos are courtesy of our friend Arvind, who is kindly letting me use them here. You can tell when they’re his using this simple equation: Good photos = Arvind’s, Bad photos = mine.

Bling and coral bridesmaid’s dresses (JCrew’s Arabelle)

A close-up of the bride’s gorgeous dress and sash, along with her double-strand of pearls.   Dreamy.

Ah, yours truly along my yummy hubby.  My dress was Diane von Furstenburg but I got it at a consignment store for $40.  Score! I love the print and the color combination.  Plus, you can’t see it in any of the photos but it had a very low (sexy) back.

Since there were both American and Italian guests, there was one basket of programs in English and another with programs in Italian.  In case you couldn’t figure it out, you’re looking at the American ones 🙂


The ceremony took place in the hotel’s courtyard and garden area.  The weather was perfect and with the afternoon sun slanting down and the strains of a string quartet in the background, my friend made her trip down the aisle, arm-in-arm with her proud papa.

She later said she had to look down for almost the entire walk to keep from sobbing.

She carried a bouquet of white peonies surrounded by wisps of greenery and had a white rose pinned in her hair.  I thought her whole look was classic and gorgeous.

 One of their readings (in both Italian and English) was from The Velveteen Rabbit, the chapter titled “What Is Real?” Here’s my favorite line:

“…It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

      -Margery Williams

The ceremony was short, simple and sweet. And then they were married!

After the ceremony, the couple took the time to take photos with almost all the guests in various combinations.  No running off for a moment to themselves here. I guess this is an Italian tradition but I could tell after about 45 minutes, my friend had had enough.

She did, however,  happily smile for a photo with all our college friends though.

After all the family and guest photos were taken, they moved to the hotel’s pool area to take a few portraits, just the bride and groom.  They are a seriously attractive couple.

And then, it was time to eat.  And eat.  And dance. And then eat some more.  All in all, including the cake and coffee served at the end of the night, there were seven (you read that right, seven) courses.

Apparently, Italian weddings typically have up to 10 or 11 courses but our friends felt that was a bit excessive, so they scaled it down to 7.  And of course, since we were in Italy, everything was amazing!

First, appetizers were served, including cheese and crackers, puff pastries filled with cheese and various versions of fried cheese.  I think Italians like their cheese 🙂

The antipasti course included this tower of prosciutto e meloni, along with seafood salad, mussels and more cheese.

 There was lots of hugging and kissing on both cheeks (which I always seemed to mess up.  Never could figure out which side to approach first!) Here’s the bride with her father-in-law, who was as warm, charming and gracious as anyone I’ve ever met.

Gummi candy in the shapes of various sea creatures decorated with these lovely little  tags served as escort cards.  My friend’s mom told me how they brought over 5 lbs of candy from the US  in their luggage and then assembled everything here.  I think between the four of them, they had something like 10 suitcases, can you imagine? Oy.

I loved how the bride and groom sat with their parents during the reception, I thought that was so sweet.  Here’s their table, all set up.

After eating our way through the appetizer and antipasto courses outside on the pool and patio are, we made our way into the reception room and took a break from eating to dance! The couple’s first dance was to Phil Collins’ “A Groovy Kind of Love” which was such an adorable choice and perfect for them.

After a few more dances, including a traditional tarantella (to which all the Americans gamely hopped along and flailed our arms around, much to the Italians’ amusement), it was time for…more food! *Surprise, surprise

Out came huge platters of cavatelli with lobster (pictured above), followed by a duet of filled pastas (lasagnas, both red and white. YUM.)

Then came some of the freshest, crispiest calamari I’ve ever had, plus whole langostas (shrimp) with the heads still on!

In case you’re keeping count, that’s course number five.

You better believe after those courses, we needed to digest and dance.  Given that the bottles of wine at our table kept being magically refilled every time we emptied one, it was safe to say that we were all feeling good and ready to get our groove on.

I’m not sure if we’re doing the tarantella or the YMCA here.  Take your best guess, they looked pretty similar 🙂 There were also several Conga lines that took place.  I have no idea why but Italians seem to love Conga lines!

The bride and groom were also lifted into the air several times.  Kinda like the Horah at Jewish weddings, only minus the chair (which would’ve scared me even more!)

At one point, the groom’s friends dragged a chair out onto the center of the dance floor and had the groom sit down, tied his hands behind him with a napkin and placed a spoon balancing a lit candle in his mouth. My friend had to stand about 5 feet away and try to extinguish the flame using water from a bottle.

We all thought it was hilarious (and I have no idea of the reasoning or tradition behind this, try Google if you’re really that curious) but the bride told me later she was actually kind of pissed that this happened (apparently, she had been warned it might) because she didn’t want to get him all wet.  Luckily, the flame went out after a few quick splashes so it all ended up fine.

After more dancing, it was time for (you guessed it), more food.  Veal and potatoes, cooked beautifully and seasoned perfectly.  Delicious!

And finally, dessert.  The dessert buffet was massive, stretching from one end of the room to the other.  It included Jordan Almonds (traditional Italian wedding gift and happen to be one of my most favorite things ever), chocolate-dipped oranges and pears (OMG these were SO good!), many variations of puff pastry filled with cream, cannolis, fruit torts, fresh fruit, chocolate torts and so on.

If you know me, you know I love dessert so, clearly, I was in heaven.

And then, finally, after more dancing and general merriment (including some very sweet toasts in both Italian and English), the cake was cut around 2:15 am.  I don’t usually care too much about the cake at weddings but I thought this one was quite pretty (and tasty).




Woof, I’m tired just writing this whole thing out. Things didn’t wind down until almost 3:00 am, which definitely goes down in my book as the longest wedding ever attended (ours ended around 1:00 am, which I thought was pretty late) as well as the most food ever served.  It was epic, it was glorious and we were thrilled to be a part of the celebrations of a couple we know and love.

This was my first destination wedding and I am (obviously) quite keen to go to another.  It was a wonderful mix of culture, food and genuine joy while creating life-long memories.  Thanks for including us, Sarah and Michele, in your absolutely fabulous wedding!

Have you ever been to a wedding in another country? Was it different from weddings in the United States?

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In New York City, celebrity sightings are not uncommon. although they certainly don’t happen as often as I’d like them to! Or maybe I’m not hanging out at the cool famous-people places, I don’t know.  Now, I will be the first to admit that I am definitely more celebrity-obsessed than the average American so I usually have my eyes peeled and am on the hunt for a good ol’ fashioned star spotting.

So, just for the heck of it I thought it would be fun to look back at a few of the better ones I’ve had during my three-year tenure here in the Big Apple. My top five include:

1. John Stewart having lunch at the New York Times Cafeteria.

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This is a cooler place than it sounds, I promise, and my friend spotted him as we were walking by, so bonus points for her eagle eyes and mad celebrity radar.  I think everyone knows this already but he’s pretty short.

2. Bruce Willis on the Upper West Side.

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Bizarrely enough, I’ve seen the Brucester three different times, all within about the span of a year (I think he had an apartment in the neighborhood while he was filming a movie.) The first time, he looked relatively normal, walking hand-in-hand with his then newlywed wife (sidenote: are they still together? Must look that up).  The second time, he looked only slightly douchey, rocking a fedora and riding a vintage Schwinn down on Riverside Park.  The third time, he looked extremely douchey, wearing a Russian fur hat and fur coat, walking down the street.  Blech.

3. OJ Simpson, buying running shoes.

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OJ did not look like this when I saw him…

Alright, to be fair, this one was not in New York City but (true story), I once sold him a pair of sneakers at the specialty running store I worked at in Miami a few years ago.  I think the entire store stood completely still, barely daring to breathe during the 10 minutes he was inside.

4. Michael Jordan, riding an elevator.

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Fine, this one was not in NYC either, but it’s still kinda cool.  We rode up in an elevator with Mr Jordan at The Cove at Atlantis in the Bahamas while on vacation.  Unfortunately, he lived up to his reputation for being a jerk.  My Father-In-Law is a huuuuuge MJ fan and after a few minutes of shocked silence once we realized with whom we were sharing an elevator, he excitedly told Mike about his massive Jordan collection, only to be met with impassive silence and a gesture for the bodyguard to step in between us.  Talk about obnoxious, eh?

5. Jane Krakowski (Jenna from 30 Rock), walking her A. DOR. A. BUL. 2-week-old baby in SoHo.

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I don’t think this is the exact day I saw her but it’s a pretty similar shot

I didn’t even realize it was her because I was so intent on stalking her miniature bambino (What, you don’t do that too?)  I sidled up to the stroller, gasped in delight over how tiny he was and then conveyed my adoration before looking up at whom I was speaking to.  She is gorgeous and tiny in real life and was extremely gracious.  Points for you, Jenna!

Those are probably my top five favorite encounters. Other slightly less exciting and definitely more random celebrity sightings include:  Fat Joe (Twice! How random is that? Does anyone even know who Fat Joe is anymore?), Kevin from The Office, Tim Gunn, Shannon Elizabeth (of American Pie infamy) and Liev Schrieber (Naomi Watts’ husband, who, not to brag or anything, but I think a dead ringer for my husband!)

My number one dream celebrity spotting would be Jennifer Aniston, hands down.  Maybe someday it will happen.  That’s half the fun of New York City, you just never know who you’ll bump into…

Whose your best celebrity sighting? Tell me so I can be impressed, I’m a sucker for a good celeb story!

Edited to add: I swear to God, not 10 minutes after I posted this, I took my dog for a walk and ran smack in Robin Roberts, host of Good Morning America,  exiting her building into a limo! She is tall and stunning in person, wowzas!

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How crazy/funny is that?! Hmmm, maybe my next post should be about what I’d do if I won the lottery,  don’t ya think?

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My friend whose wedding we attended in Italy is also having a New York City reception next Tuesday.  Whoohoo for more parties! While we already took the couple out to dinner in Oslo as their wedding gift (by some strange coincidence, they were honeymooning in Scandinavia at the same time we were visiting our friends in Norway, so we all got to meet up for dinner, super-duper fun), I am loathe to show up at a party empty-handed.

I wanted to keep it relatively inexpensive (since, ya know, we just flew out to Italy for their wedding and all) but make it  heartfelt, rather than give them a colander or whatever.

Enter the classic ‘Framing of the Invitation’ with my own little twist.  Since my friend used a starfish motif on all her paper goods, this was the perfect opportunity to put to use all the shells I collected while walking along the beach during our time in Italy.

I bought a white frame with a matte from Pottery Barn.   Pottery Barn’s wooden frames are  almost always 20% off at the store near me (I should know because it’s only 7 blocks away.  DANGEROUS!) but of course, today I had no such luck.  Harrumph.

Still, $25 later and I had a beautiful 5 x 7 frame and matte, ready for action.

I used double-sided tape to attach the invitation to the outside of the matte, so the pretty silver edging wouldn’t be lost.

Then I dug around in my jar of shells for some that were relatively flat and in the coral color scheme of the wedding.

It took me a while to get a layout I was pleased with (and by a while, I mean 10 minutes, I’m an underachiever) but I finally worked it out.

I love an excuse to bust out my glue gun, especially now that my own wedding’s long gone and I have no reason to create mediocre crafts anymore, so I whipped that bad boy out and hot-glued all the shells and sea glass to the matte board.

About 10 minutes (and much to my astonishment) zero burned fingers later, everything was dried and I put it all together,  securing the back of the frame.  Here it is, in all it’s seashell glory…

Huzzah, am wedding-crafting goddess!

Haha, no, I am kidding with that above comment but I am pretty pleased with how it turned out (because I’m so not crafty like most of y’all are) and for $25, it certainly didn’t break the bank.

Hopefully my friend and her husband will like it. After a solid 20 minutes spent on this project, this crafting goddess is hungry and will now be crafting a sandwich, stat. Cheers!

 

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The animal below is a tapir…

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But in case you didn’t see through my corny pun, I’m going talk about tapering (but HOW perfect is that photo?!?)

Tapering (in the running world) is when the athlete lessens the distance they run each day as the race approaches.  The idea is to have your muscles be truly rested for the big event, thus maximizing performance.  In other words, we don’t want no “dead legs”!

I’m running a half-marathon on Sunday, so the past ten days or so have been “taper” days.  I ran my longest run (11 miles) about 2.5 weeks ago and since then, I’ve been gradually reducing my mileage, running 6 miles as my last “long run” just over one week beforehand.

Luckily, my spring break vacation (Ahhhh, one of the true joys of being a teacher- spring break!) coincided with my tapering week and we just happened to have a trip to Florida planned. While March in New York City is a cold, blustery wench, it was 85 degrees, sunny and (miraculously) not humid. Perfect running weather!

Here is my pre-race training, starting from 7 days out. Running in Florida was awesome.

Day 7- Run 1:00, Walk 1:00 for 30:00 total

Day 6- 15:00 Water Aerobics (in the pool, yeah!) and 20:00 Walk

Day 5- 4-Mile Run

Day 4- Rest

Day 3- Run 1:00, Walk 1:00 for 30:00 total (same as Day 7)

Day 2- 30:00 easy Elliptical

Day 1- 20:00 easy Jog

RACE DAY!

I’m very much looking forward to this race, probably because I have no goal time and plan on just enjoying myself.  It’s the first race I’ve ever run like that and I think it’s going to be fun.

Have you ever run a half-marathon? Do you taper before a race?

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Pete and I threw a little holiday shindig this weekend.  In an effort to mimic Martha Stewart’s homemade hospitality, I spent the entire Friday night beforehand baking, crafting, wrapping, cooking, bedazzling, hanging, cleaning and making things by hand.

HA! That’s a joke, my friends.  Instead, I went to Duane Reade to pick up a few bags of holiday candy to serve as snacks (Oh stop, I had other food too.  In fact, I actually did bake peanut butter cookies, so boo-yah!)

I made my way to the special “holiday candy” aisle (which is separate from the regular candy aisle…And yes, I know this because I make frequent candy runs to Duane Reade, don’t judge me, monkeys.)

Anyways, I found the holiday candy aisle and picked out holiday-themed Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, holiday-themed Hershey’s Kisses and what I thought were holiday-themed M and M’s

Sidenote: How come all the candy is Christmas colors? Where’s the blue and white M and M’s for Hannukah? Or um, whatever colors represent Kwanza?

Well, it wasn’t until I got home and busted into all my candy (I had to test it for my guests to make sure it wasn’t poison!) that I realized that Duane Reade had sneakily snuck (you see what I did there?) FALL-themed M and M’s in with their holiday candy, complete with a scarecrow and bats on the packaging (but in my defense, the main color of the bag was green! Hence my mistake…)

So instead of red and green peanut M and M’s to match my red and green kisses and cups, I found orange, brown and red M and M’s!

Not cool, Duane Reade, not cool at all.  My OCD-Martha Stewart complex had a heart attack for about 10 seconds before I remembered that all M and M’s taste the same, regardless of their color and promptly popped 5 (or 25) in my mouth. Mmmmmm…

Oh yeah, and the party was still a raging success, in spite of the mis-matched, autumnal chocolate treats.  Go figure.

 

 

PS- Just to prove to you that I’m not a total failure at life, here’s my two “decorations” for the party, which I thought were actually (miraculously?) somewhat pretty (plus they both include wedding things and we all know how much I like to talk about my wedding *winks)

I bought a bunch of holly from the bodega on 72nd St, plus a bunch of white mums.

Paper snowflake decorations strung above our ketubah (plus the dried roses from when he proposed! And a mason jar from the centerpieces!)

 

 

PPS- Play “Spot The Puppy!”

 

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…with the sound of me panting while running up them? Hmmm, not quite as an attractive mental picture as Julie Andrews spinning around in Switzerland but you get the point.

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Or do you? Well, folks, my point is that hills are important to run up and down, especially if you’re training for a race or making an effort to become a better runner.

I was born running hills.  Erm, that sounds silly but you know what I mean.  I grew up in the foothills of the Berkshire mountain range and where I live, we count the miles by the hills.  As in, going up and down a hill is usually about one mile.

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You wanna run up and down dees hills? Yeah, that’s what I thought! On a side note, photos  like these make me desperately want to escape the urban decay landscape of New York City and head for the…Well, you know.

Anyways, my track and field attempts in high school were punctuated by running up and down hills.  When I went to college in Central New York, it was the same deal; hills, hills and more hills.

So now I live in New York City, where hills are few and far between.  My favorite running route is on Riverside Park, since it’s mere steps from my door.  But the route is completely flat, with almost no incline to speak of (that’s what happens when you run down by the river. At least I’m not livin’  in a van down by the river, right?)

So yesterday I put my money where my mouth is and hit the hills in Central Park.  I had a session with a client and we did the simplest workout ever.  I picked out a hill on the north side of the park and we ran up and down it without stopping for 25:00.  Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t bad but believe me when I tell you my quads were feeling it afterwards.

So, moral of the story? Throw a hill or two into your usual run.  If you can, pick one or two days a week where you focus on hills.  As much as they suck to run, getting up and down them makes you a stronger, faster, better runner.

How do you feel about hills? Do you avoid ’em like the plague or tackle them with gusto?

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