September 18, 2012

new city, new friends.

The Dennys
     One of the great blessings of coming to New York has been making friends with the Dennys. They've been great friends and have been able to show us things we would've never thought of doing.A couple of weeks ago, Ryan got VIP wristbands from his work for Good Morning America (GMA) for one of the summer concerts in Central Park featuring none other than The Backstreet Boys. We had to wake up at four in the morning so we could find a parking spot and get a good spot for the concert. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the concert. Growing up, I was more of an Nsync fan. I had to ask Jason multiple times what each of their names was and sadly Jason knew every first and last name.
Waiting for the show to start (notice it's still dark out)
The boys with the GMA crew

     When “the boys” came on stage, I felt like a teenager again. I started picking out which guys I thought were cute and of course, I sang along to all of the songs. They sang some of their classics: “I Want it That Way”, “Larger than Life”, and of course, “Backstreet’s Back”. The four of us had so much fun jumping around and getting our faces in the camera so we could be on T.V.
I loved their dance moves haha
We had a little too much fun

     The following weekend, Ryan hooked us up again with tickets and we went to Rye’s Playland – sounds creepy, huh? It was actually really fun. This amusement park was basically like a carnival/fair that never leaves. We played games, won prizes, and ate unlimited food. Unfortunately, the rides were shut down due to the storms. These storms also caused the amusement park to close four hours early.

     Before leaving, we took a look at the boardwalk where the scene with Zoltar from “Big” was filmed. Jason and I love that movie and it was definitely surreal to see the spot where Tom Hanks wished to be a teenager again. It’s also funny that the Zoltar machine has since been replaced by a Pepsi vending machine.

     Jason and I are so grateful to have such good friends already and we are excited to plan other adventures with them.
Ryan showed Jason his mad DJ skills

September 3, 2012

a taste of new york.

    This week Jase and I took our first trip into New York City and we ended up taking part in a “Food War.” It wasn’t an official one where you check a box on a piece of paper saying which place served better food. It was more of a personal survey you did so you knew which place to return to and recommend to friends. What kind of food, you ask? The best kind: cupcakes. 

      We took a train from Tuckahoe Station to Grand Central that lasted about 40 minutes. Grand Central reminded me of the wonder and awe Harry Potter had when he arrived at King’s Cross Station in London to ride on the Hogwart’s Express. Obviously it wasn’t as fabulous and we didn’t ride that kind of train, but it was still pretty neat. People were hustling to catch their train and others were sharing a drink or reading a newspaper at one of the many eateries – none of which I had ever heard of. One of the food places was our first stop: Magnolia Bakery.
      Every day at Magnolia, they have their usual vanilla and chocolate cupcakes decorated with their beautiful icing that I have only imagined eating in magazines. I was happy to see they had the cupcake I was hoping for: Hummingbird; banana, pineapple flavored cake, with cream cheese icing and pecan sprinkles. I was also happy Jason went with the Red Velvet because that was my second choice. I wanted to eat them right then and there, but we still had another stop to make. 
      We had to take a subway to near the next bakery that was close to Central Park. This place was a little more difficult to find, but it was in yet another well-known building: The Plaza Hotel. Billy’s Bakery was just as cute as Magnolia: cakes and pastries all lined up for display that reached all eyes to ooh and ahh over. Jason immediately saw the cupcake he knew I’d go for: Banana Nutella and he went for the Yellow Daisy with chocolate frosting. We felt really awkward going up to the counter while trying to hide our Magnolia bag and we were happy to find a table to finally enjoy our cupcakes.
      We started with Magnolia’s. I thought they had an unfair disadvantage because those poor cakes were carried through the hot subway stations. Perhaps nothing can make those cupcakes taste bad because I about died and went to heaven with that first bite. I think I tasted more banana in that Hummingbird than anything else, but it was the best banana I had ever tasted and the icing? Probably the only icing I could’ve licked off and enjoyed (I typically wipe off some of the usual sugar overload of frosting). Jason’s equally enjoyed his Red Velvet. Both cupcakes from Magnolia were incredibly moist and soft. They were the perfect size of cupcake without feeling sick afterward. They were definitely worth the 3 dollars and 50 cents spent on each. 
      Next was Billy’s. With the first bite of our cupcakes, we already had our decision made. Magnolia’s won, and by a landslide. I honestly thought Billy’s would have more to it, but the only thing it had more of was weight. I have never held such a heavy piece of cake in my hand. I tasted the banana in my Banana Nutella, but it wasn’t as good as the previous banana and where was the Nutella? Jason and I both agreed that the icing was too thick and too rich, while the cake was a little dry. I couldn’t even finish that 4 dollar cupcake. Our final  verdict: go to Magnolia Bakery makes the meanest cupcake in NYC.
      To work off our cupcakes, we took a stroll within Central Park. We stopped by the Maine Monument at the main gateway to the park. We sat as we watched people pass and a man making giant bubbles with soap, a large bucket, and string. 
      We hopped on a short subway ride from Columbus Circle to the middle of Central Park where we found Turtle Pond. We walked up to a small overlook into the pond and peered into the water that was covered in little green, what seemed like, miniature lily pads. Every couple of seconds, you would see, not one, but several turtle heads popping up to the surface. I have never seen so many turtles before. It was so cool! Before making it back to Grand Central, Jason and I stopped for a hotdog and enjoyed the scenery of the park. 
Can you see their little noggins poking out?
      Back at the station, we spent some time searching for some of the secrets we learned about in the New York book I got Jason for his birthday. Somehow I spotted one right away without even looking for it. I found the envelope-sized dark spot on the ceiling of Vanderbilt Hall (the one decorated with the Roman zodiacs) that was left from the original ceiling of the station. The other secret we found (we weren’t the only ones) was in a particular part of the station where the arches of the pass were made so that two people standing at the opposing corners can whisper into them and hear the other person speaking from the other side. I was actually pretty amazed at how well it worked. Apparently these “whispering galleries” are found all over the world. 
It's the small dark spot at the bottom left where the blue and marble meet.
Jason got a little closer to the wall than he had to.

      Our trip to the city was simple, but a lot of fun. I really enjoyed finding secrets that not everyone knows about and indulging in some NYC food.