Z is for Zipcar

Zipcar is a very popular rental car company...or as they like to call it, a car sharing company. It's a super easy way to use a car for just a day trip. Use it for an hour or 12, whatever you need, and return it at the end of the day. It's perfect for those of us who live in New York and don't bother to have a car, but would like to be able to drive out of the city for...oh I don't know...Chickfila, maybe?

Zipcar isn't the only company. Hertz has it's own form of car sharing with less fees. I've never actually made use of any of them, but probably will one day. The convenience is well worth it.

It's the last day! I can't believe it. I'm a little shocked that I managed to do this every day...and it was so great to meet so many new people is the blogosphere!


Y is for Yummy Takeout

I've told my husband multiple times that if we ever move to a different city, what I'll miss most are the takeout options. There are so many options here! We have pizza, yes, but not just Domino's or Papa John's. We have several menus for local pizzerias where we can get pizza or pasta. I'm sure you've all seen TV shows or movies showing people eating Chinese takeout, which is so delicious. But on those nights that we're tired of Chinese, how about Japanese instead? Sushi delivered right to your door! Other options are burgers, wraps, Italian, milkshakes, Mexican food...oh the Mexican food. We order Mexican food almost every week - the restaurant we order from knows our apartment number by heart (to my delight but to the embarrassment of my husband).

What kind of food would you like most to have delivered right to your door?


X is for X-Walks

You like what I did there? Yeah, I know. It's impressive.

Crosswalks are simple. You stop when you get the red hand and you go when you get the little white man. But have you ever thought about how crosswalks could help you learn a city? When I first moved here, my husband almost immediately got hired to go on a children's tour. I was left in a big new city all alone where I basically only knew how to get to my job. So what did I do? I invented the game "Follow the White Man." (I mean to have no racial connotations here, I promise.) On the weekends I enjoyed taking the subway to a random point in the city and whenever I came to a crosswalk at an intersection, I'd go wherever I had the go sign. It really helped me learn the city (well, that and my iPhone, of course).

Could this game help you explore where you live?


W is for Winter in NYC

Let me remind everyone that I grew up in middle Georgia. For 24 years I lived through winters where I would sometimes wear a heavy jacket (not a coat...a jacket) and occasionally have to scrape some ice off my windshield before I could drive anywhere. I can remember having one blizzard when I was little and then every once in a while we'd get a snow flurry. That's pretty much it.

NYC winters are SO DIFFERENT. Y'all, this little Georgia girl had to quickly acquaint herself with coats, scarves (there are so many different ways to wear them!), hats, gloves, thick socks, long underwear...it was all so foreign! Earmuffs are what I have discovered I can't live without - cold ears are absolutely the worst. And guess what? You wear rain boots and carry umbrellas for snow, not just rain!

We went home to Georgia for our first Christmas and when we came back, we drove back along with my sister and brother-in-law. That was the night of the biggest blizzard we've had since moving here - we ended up getting stuck on the interstate and having to sleep there until morning. Not on the side of the interstate...we were stuck on the lane we had been driving in. And we had no heat because we had to reserve the gas. It was crazy.

I will say though that I love NYC winters. It helps that I don't have to worry about shoveling any of it and sometimes the snow lets me go home early and get an entire day off. I also prefer being cold to being hot, so this whole winter lasting into spring is totally working for me. :-)

What are winters like where you are? Do you love or hate them?


V is for Views

There are multiple ways to get a great view of the city. The 3 big ones (for now) are the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and the Brooklyn Bridge. Now in my opinion, I know it's historic and all, but the ESB is my least favorite. It's cramped, it has walls you have to peer over, and although it has a higher upper deck, it costs extra to access it. Plus, the Rockefeller building blocks your view of the park.

It's an excellent idea to walk the Brooklyn Bridge right before sunset. By the time you get to the first viewing area, you can see the city bathed in sunlight, take some great pictures, and enjoy the views. Then by the time you're ready to return, voila! You can see the city all lit up. It's amazing.

Now Top of the Rock...it's by far my favorite. It has multiple decks and you don't have to pay extra to get to the highest one. You're enclosed by glass through most of the viewing area so nothing inhibits your view. I particularly enjoy being able to see both the Empire State Building and Central Park.

I leave you with some of my favorite views I've managed to capture.

Taken from Top of the Rock

Taken from Top of the Rock

Taken from Top of the Rock

Taken from the Brooklyn Bridge


U is for Union Square

Union Square isn't quite as popular as other squares in the city. It's kind of small and a little out of the way from the all the hustle and bustle. However, it has some great spots you should know about. Right on Union Square is some great shopping: Burlington Coat Factory, DSW, and Forever 21 are all in the same building. There's also a Best Buy. Also, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, there's the Union Square Greenmarket, where 140 regional farmers, fishermen, and bakers come to sell their wares.

Then you've got some of the spots on the outskirts of the square. Here's a list of them:

828 Broadway
Strand is a bookstore. An awesome bookstore. They advertise having 18 miles worth of books. New books, used books, rare books...all can be found here.

24 East 12th Street
This is a burger restaurant, but not your average burger spot. They're famous for their milkshakes. They have a toasted marshmallow milkshake that is to die for, as well as alcoholic milkshakes (let's add some vodka to that marshmallow milkshake!). Their burgers definitely aren't bad either.

841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th Streets)
Max Brenner is a genius with chocolate. His restaurant not only has good food, but also sells his chocolate. Plus a lot of his dishes use chocolate...for example, his waffle fries are dusted with chili and cocoa powder. Delicious! You can also get fondue for 2, which is really fun.

A Mug Addition for a Mug Addiction - The Last Five Years

Last night, after loving the show and calling it my favorite for years, I finally saw The Last Five Years. And it was amazing. I won't bore you with all my critiques and the things I loved about it (which far outweighed the critiques), especially since most of you would just be lost and that's ok. Suffice it to say, I was great. Really great. Oh and if you ever get a chance to see Betsey Wolfe in anything, do it! She was phenomenal.

I leave you with a behind-the-scenes look of Jason Robert Brown (the composer of the show, which is based on his life, and also I just want to point out that he retweeted me on Twitter last night!) giving a little direction and working with the actors through my favorite song in the show. It's the one song that they sing together and it's when he proposes and they get married. It's gorgeous.


T is for Tap Dancing

I know what you're thinking. What the heck does tap dancing have to do with New York City?

Well, I'll tell you.

The story starts in Georgia. My family was visiting Stone Mountain one December day and we were all having a good time and you know how high levels of happiness can make you act silly...right? I'm sure you do. So at some point we were standing around waiting for a show to start and I started "tap dancing" for the family. It was stupid and actually barely resembles tap dancing at all (I should point out I have absolutely no tap training), but it cracked my family up and since then they will randomly tell me to tap dance when we're out.

The following January JP and I took a trip to NYC so I could go to a job interview and we could hunt for an apartment (little did I know it would also be the weekend we got engaged). It was my family's wish to tap dance in front of famous NYC places so...I did. Enjoy.

I really should get back into it and film some more. ;-)


S is for Souvenirs

No vacation is complete without souvenirs. In NYC you can find them on carts just about anywhere - Times Square, 5th Ave, Wall St, etc. And there are tons of stores to choose from but I'm her to point you to the best one.

This store is located right in Times Square across from the TKTS store/red stairs on Broadway. It has 3 floors the main floor has all of the NYC souvenirs and apparel, the upper floor has sports apparel and the kids section, and the basement has all kind of fun pop culture stuff, shoes, and even a great $0.99 section! If you love mugs like me, they have the biggest NY mug selection I've come across.

You can also order from them online, just so you know. :-)


R is for Real Life in NYC

Real life in NYC can be very different from what you see on TV and in the movies. This is a concept that's hard to accept for some non-New Yorkers. Especially in that first year or so of living here, I would get so many texts from friends and family saying stuff like, "I saw in Us Weekly that Kim Kardashian was in Times Square - WHERE WERE YOU??" People...I was working. At my job. You know...that thing you have to do in order to pay your rent every month? Yeah that.

There are also some things that a lot of people don't think about when they're like, "Omg after visiting for 2 days I want to live there too." For one thing, I'm sure your hotel was really nice, but if you moved here you will most likely be in a building that does not have central a/c. "Oh but it's cold up there right?" Well yes...in the winter. But in the summer? Those buildings act like an oven and I can assure you that being in an apartment with no a/c SUCKS. We have two window units and two fans and we're still not as cool as we'd like to be...plus all of those electronics make your electric bill double. Apartments here are tiny (again, unless you make a crap load of money) - less space for a family, less space for pets, usually no space for a washing machine and dryer, which means you have to take advantage of laundromats or hope your building has a laundry room somewhere.

Another thing: taxis vs subway. A lot of tourists love to take taxis everywhere because they're fast and you don't have to be confused by the subway. However, unless you live in Manhattan (which is more expensive) or have a job where you're making a crap load of money, you're not going to want to throw away your money on taxis all the time. You need to learn the subway system and take advantage of it. Not having a car payment and insurance payment is fabulous, but it can also feel constricting knowing that you're confined to NYC and however far the MTA will take you. For example, in order to get Chickfila I have to take a subway and bus ride into New Jersey that lasts at least 2 hours! Wanna take a weekend trip? You'll have to find a train or rent a car first.

Don't get me wrong...living in NYC can be glamorous if you take advantage of all that it has to offer and have a great group of friends that can resemble the ladies on Sex and the City or Ross, Rachel, and the gang. In fact, this past month or so has been so busy and so fun that I did kind of feel like I was living out a movie or TV show. However, the majority of the time my life is a lot like yours - I wake up earlier than I want to, go to work, and come home to try and figure out dinner. The main difference is that instead of driving to work I take the subway.

NYC is not for everyone. It's one of the greatest places to visit, but not everyone will want to live here. My husband likes to say that the city will chew you up and spit you back out if you let it and I tend to agree. But boy if you can manage to make it work here, it will really change your life.


Q is for Queens

Queens is actually a pretty fun place to visit if you so choose. I'm gonna keep this nice and short. I'm sure some of you A to Zers can understand.

Shopping: Taking the M or the R to Steinway St will get you to some great and cheap little stores. I found a shoe store there where most shoes are under $20 and they're stacked all over the place.

Eating: One of the best pizzerias (that I forgot to mention in my pizza post) is Nick's Pizza down at 108-26 Ascan Ave in Forest Hills (a Queens neighborhood).

Relaxing and/or gaining a little culture: Flushing Meadows Park is where it's at! It's really big and, like I've mentioned before, contains the Unisphere at the site of the old World's Fair as well as the Queens Museum of Art.
This was taken almost 3 years ago (I can't believe it's been 3 years!) when we first visited the park after we moved her (we live within walking distance). As you can see, I'm really awesome.


P is for Pizza

I mean, when you're talking about places to go in NYC, you have to mention pizza places. Am I right? New York pizza is so good! Fortunately for all of you, I know the really good spots because I love pizza and all my friends/visitors love pizza so...let's just say I've made the rounds.

Under the Brooklyn Bridge
1 Front Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Yep, our first stop is actually in Brooklyn. Patsy Grimaldi learned the art of pizza making from his uncle when he started working at his pizzeria at the age of 10 in 1931. When he finally opened his own pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge, it drew the attention of the mayor and even Frank Sinatra, who allegedly had pies flown to him in Vegas. Now when you visit there's a constant stream of Sinatra music playing. The crust is famous for its crispiness, thanks to the handmade coal-fired brick ovens.
Cash only and whole pies only, no slices.

32 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
Corner of Spring and Mott Street

Lombardi's is definitely my favorite pizza spot. It was founded in 1905 and credited as being the first pizzeria in NYC. In fact, the man who founded it, an Italian immigrant, is credited for creating "New York style" pizza. I'm not a big sauce person - I usually prefer minimal sauce. But I love Lombardi's sauce. A friend of mine once said she could swim in a tub full of the sauce...ok maybe that's a little extreme, but seriously. It's good. They also have excellent sangria and plenty of seating room.
Cash only and whole pies only, no slices.

7 Carmine Street
150 East 14th Street

I used to work down the street from the original location on Carmine St and ate there every other week. The 14th St location just opened up recently and guess what? It's right down the street from where I work now. I've got some good karma! Anyway, Joe's was founded in 1975 by Joe Pozzuoli, a Naples, Italy, immigrant, and he still owns and operates it today at the age of 75! It's a little hole in the wall spot with only counters and tall tables to stand at. They sell the classic New York slice and it is delicious. The walls are also covered with photographs of all the celebrities who have come in for some good pizza over the years.

260 W. 44th Street New York, NY

Last, but not least, is John's. It's situated in the theatre district, making it a great spot to grab a bite to eat before seeing a show. I actually listed the secondary location (the original is in Greenwich Village), which opened in 1995, because it's the coolest in my opinion. The space used to be Gospel Tabernacle Church, built in 1888, and now it holds the largest pizzeria in the country. The space is beautiful and they host fancy parties there - I've seen seen a picture of a wedding being held there. Oh and don't worry, the pizza is really good too. :-)


O is for Once

Once is an amazing Broadway musical that's based the movie by the same name. When I went to see the show, I had not seen the movie and really didn't know what to expect. I only knew that it was up for a lot of Tony's and I had heard reeeeeeaally good things about it. I was completely blown away. The performances were out of this world (everyone plays their own instruments!) and the story...the whole production just makes you feel. That was the only way my aunt and I could describe it. It just makes you feel.

Check out their Tony performance, where they performed my favorite number! The two people the camera shifts focus to at the end during the applause are the two who starred in the movie together.


N is for NBC Experience Store

I LOVE the NBC store! It helps to love the shows whose merchandise are sold there...I love Friends, The Office, Psych, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Community, Saved by the Bell, Chuck, Seinfeld, Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, and Doctor Who. They have awesome bobble-heads, mugs, key chains, tshirts, etc. There's not much more to say except it's just a great place to shop.

Right now they're having a buy 2, get 1 free sale on mugs if you use the code BUY2. Go go go!


M is for Museums

 NYC is full of awesome museums. You can find a pretty comprehensive list here if you want to know about all of them, but I'm going to mention a couple of my favorites.

1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10028

The Met is definitely my favorite museum, though it may be just a personal preference to art. You can easily spend hours wandering around this giant museum and not get bored. Don't miss some amazing Van Goghs and Monets, as well as The Temple of Dendur (a 2000 year old temple that used to stand on the Nile River).

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024

There are two reasons why I love this museum. One, the life sized blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Two, the African Elephants. Besides that, they always have awesome exhibitions going on, plus there's the planetarium that I have yet to visit (it's on my to do list!).

New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368
My aunt and me at the Panorama
Now I'll be completely honest with you...I was not super impressed with this museum as a whole. However, the trip out there was completely worth it for 3 reasons: the Panorama, the fact that it's in Flushing Meadows Park, and the gift shop. The Panorama is a built-to-scale model of NYC - all 5 boroughs. It was built for the 1964 World's Fair and is truly breathtaking at first sight. I was stunned at the size of the thing and all of the intricate details. I was able to find my apartment and the building in which I work! The gift shop had a lot of adorable little trinkets, as well as fun World's Fair mementos.
Flushing Meadows Park was once the site of the World Fair and is home to the Unisphere and Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The best part about all 3 of the museums I've listed? They're all by donation only!! Yes they'll all have signs that make it look like you have to pay $20, but nope. Just walk up and say "2 tickets for $1 apiece please" or whatever you choose to pay. I know people who only pay a quarter. It's great!


L is for Last Five Years

Today I'm talking about a show that is very near and dear to my heart. The Last Five Years, by Jason Robert Brown, is about Jamie and Cathy, a couple who meet, marry, and divorce in the span of 5 years. They each take turns telling their side of their story - Cathy starts at the end of the story on the day their divorce is final, then Jamie sings about the beginning of their story on the day they meet. Their stories intersect in the middle of the show where they sing a duet on the day they get married.

The premise is very sad and maybe a little depressing, but it's also so beautifully done. Oddly enough, it's the show my husband and I sort of think of as "our show." I know, we may just be inviting bad kharma, but here's why. When JP and I started dating, he made a playlist of fun and sometimes romantic songs to listen to on our first date. Included was "Next Five Minutes," the song from their wedding scene in L5Y. I'd never heard of the show so I quickly got the album and fell in love with it while simultaneously falling in love with JP. (There aren't really any lines to speak of outside of the songs, so if you listen to the album, you know the show.) The little things we say to each other are often sweet lines from this show.

The reason this fits into my NYC theme is because there's currently a revival happening off-Broadway and JP and I have tickets on April 23 and I could not be any more excited!! I can't wait to tell you all about it!!


K is for Kate Spade

Kate Spade is one of my favorite designers and her shop in SoHo is really cute. Yes, she's expensive, but you can find some great jewelry that's fairly affordable (it's cheaper than Tiffany, people!). Save your money!

Here's the ring I got:

Kate Spade Flagship
454 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013 


J is for Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres is a chocolate magician. That's right, people, chocolate. Hollaaaaaa! Am I right?

Ok so chocolate makes me a little excited. I grew up eating store bought chocolate from the candy aisle at the grocery store, but now that I'm an adult I've realized it's ok to spend a little more money on the things that matter. Like chocolate. And Jacques Torres is my favorite.

So today I'd like to list my favorite flavors for you and let you know his locations (and I've been to all of them) in case you find yourself in NYC and in dire need of good chocolate.

It's actually really hard to find a list of the chocolates he makes. So I'm going to try and describe a couple as best as I can from memory.

Cappuccino (my favorite) - round and filled with this cappuccino flavored cream that's to die for

Earl Grey chocolate - infused with Earl Grey tea

Lovebug - white chocolate with a taste of key lime

I'm sorry, y'all, my brain isn't working the way I want it to, but I swear to you there are TONS of amazing flavors. Also look for chocolate flavored cheerios and hot chocolate - and if you're there in the summer, their frozen hot chocolate is amazing!


DUMBO (the original)
66 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY

Amsterdam Avenue
285 Amsterdam between 73rd and 74th Streets

Chelsea Market
75 9th Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets)

Hudson Street (the biggest one)
350 Hudson at King Street (1 block South of Houston)

Rockefeller Center
30 Rockefeller Plaza, Concourse Level



I is for Italian Food

Italian food!! My favorite (well...if you don't count my recent and current obsession of nachos)! Now, just as a disclaimer, you're gonna be hard pressed to find a bad Italian restaurant in NYC. I'm sure they do exist, but I've never come across one. However, some do stand out over the rest, so here is a rundown of some of the places I love.

The most obvious restaurants to list are the ones in Little Italy. The heart of Little Italy and all of its restaurants is at the corner of Mulberry St and Hester St. The four restaurants in each corner are Da Gennaro, Caffe Napoli, Giovanna, and Casa Bella. The only one I haven't eaten at is Caffe Napoli because it's specialty is seafood and that's not my thing. My favorite is Da Gennaro - not only is the food the best there, but the atmosphere is so great. It has such a great little cafe feel with brick walls, painted ivy, and tall windows all around. If you don't want to spend a lot of money here, I recommend going at lunch time. But please note: they will have their $10-$15 lunch specials listed outside, but if you don't ask for a lunch menu once seated, they will charge you the expensive dinner price! In Little Italy, always ask for a lunch menu. :-)

My absolute favorite Italian restaurant is Trattoria Trecolori (254 W 47th St). I'm pretty sure I wrote about them recently on here, but...it's just the best. It's not too big, not too small, the food is superb (try the chicken parmesan - the chicken is as big as the plate!), and the staff is excellent. Plus it's right off of Times Square, so have some fun walking off all the pasta after you eat!


H is for High Line

The High Line is basically an elevated train track that was built in the 1930s to help get freight traffic out of the way of local traffic. It fell into misuse in the 1980s and by the late 90s there was talk of demolishing it. So in 1999, Friends of the High Line was founded in order to try and preserve the tracks. As a result of their efforts the High Line was transformed into a park that stretches up above the west side of Manhattan from Gansevoort St all the way up to 34th St.

When I went a year or two ago, the whole length wasn't open yet. I plan to go back soon and will post pics when I do, but when I first went it was really cool. It's really neat to be walking a path among grass and flowers...and also train track. There are lots of great views of the surrounding parts of the city and, kind of surprisingly, a lot of art to view along the way!

Their website is very informative and it even has different maps to download for free to help guide you as you take your walk.


Fish Paint

This piece of paint on the subway platform looks like a fish. I felt it should be shared with the world. Enjoy.

G is for Grand Prospect Hall

Ok, here's a really random post for y'all. Some of you may be thinking, "Grand Prospect Hall? What is this? I've never come across it when I've looked into visiting NYC..."

Well I'd never heard of it either until I moved here and watched TV. The Grand Prospect Hall is what seems to be a very lovely place to host events like parties, weddings, etc., and it's located out in Brooklyn. I've looked over their website and the place looks beautiful. I'd definitely look into throwing a party in there.

However, the reason I'm sharing this place with you is because of their commercial. I'm aware not everyone has the same sense of humor as me, but every time this commercial comes on I crack up when it gets to the couple on the stairs.

I'm sorry if it's not very funny to you, but I hope at least some of you get a great laugh out of it like I did.


F is for Famous People

One fascinating aspect about NYC is that the famous people don't hide from the general public! You know that idiotic section of most magazines about how "stars are just like us!" and it's stuff like "Omg, look, they blink their eyes and that means they're just like us!" Well that's what it feels like when you spot a celebrity on the street. I love to think of great captions for seeing these celebs.

My first spotting was the first week I was here. My parents were up to help us move and we were walking around Times Square when we spotted Akon. I whipped out my phone to try and get a pic, causing my parents to do the same, while at the same time saying, "Who's Akon?" "Stars are just like us! They...well they make music videos. We don't do on a regular basis." Moving on...

One day on my way back from lunch I passed Stephen Colbert as I crossed the street. "Stars are just like us! They stare down at their phones while crossing the street!"

JP and I saw Jon Stewart at Junior's in Times Square. "Stars are just like us! They meet up with their family for dinner, but then leave when they're annoyed by how long the wait is!"

As I was walking on Fifth Avenue, I spied Kelsey Grammer. "Stars are just like us! They wait for the light to turn before crossing the street!"

My brother-in-law was in the off-Broadway revival of Carrie, the Musical, and one night as I was standing outside the theatre a car pulled up and stopped right in front of me. Who got out? ALAN RICKMAN. I was not calm at out, so my thoughts were more like, "STARS ARE JUST LIKE US. OMG, THAT'S PROFESSOR SNAPE AND...OH MY GOD...anyway, stars are just like us because they go to the theatre...I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST STOOD FEET AWAY FROM ALAN RICKMAN."


E is for Empire State of Mind

Yes I'm talking about the Jay Z/Alicia Keys song, not the building (though I promise to talk about it later this month).

This song came out just a couple months before I made the big move from Georgia to NYC. I was following my dream of wanting to live in New York, a dream I'd had since my first visit when I was in 10th grade. And - bonus! - I was also embarking on the great adventure of moving in with the man I loved and chasing his dream of being an actor. Empire State of Mind became my personal mantra. I knew next to nothing about all of the many things Jay Z raps about in the verses, but I was excited to understand and to get to know the city.

You know what? I was not-so-surprised to find that this state of mind does exist. I can be in the worst of moods when I leave work, but when I step onto the sidewalk and look up to see the Empire State Building as I start my walk to the subway I'm reminded of how thrilled I am to be living here. Nothing beats that flutter of excitement in my chest when I'm able to get from one end of the city to the other without consulting my map...or being able to answer directional questions from tourists without a second thought...or being able to be the one who suggests a great place to eat or shop.

To wrap this up and bring it back around to the song, I'll tell you about an amazing moment. Not long after we moved here, JP and I went out with some friends to one of my favorite bars, M1-5. It was a busy night and it got crowded fast. The music was blaring so everyone had to speak up to be heard and while there was a small dance floor, most people paid little mind to the music. At some point Empire State of Mind came on and I was all excited as I started bobbing my head along with the music. I was gearing up to belt it out right along with Alicia and as I opened my mouth to sing, I was shocked by the sudden noise of seemingly every person in the bar belting it out right along with me. It was an amazing moment to see everyone's drink raised and hear everyone singing about their love for their city. NYC and its people are simply amazing.


D is for Diners

I have a great love for diners. I rarely come across one I don't like. Diners have all of your basic favorite comfort foods like chicken fingers, french fries, pancakes, unlimited coffee...basically, if you have a hankering for something, a diner probably has it...or something like it.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite diners in NYC:

Tom's Restaurant
2880 Broadway at 112 St (Upper West Side)
The exterior of this diner was used on the show Seinfeld (one of my favorite shows), which is why I wanted to go there. Don't expect the inside to look the same as on the show, but you can expect good food.

JP and me at Tom's

Big Daddy's Diner
Gramercy Park: 239 Park Avenue South (Between 19th & 20th Streets)
Upper East Side: 1596 2nd Ave (at 83rd St)
Upper West Side: 2454 Broadway (at 91st)
Yep, there are three convenient locations for your dining pleasure. This diner is more of a chain, but the food is good and the atmosphere is really fun. Six words: Chocolate Chip Molten Lava Cookie Cake.

Westside Restaurant
2020 Broadway (at 69th St)
This is one of those nondescript, not famous joints that I can't help but love. It's small but efficient and conveniently located a couple blocks from my favorite movie theatre, AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13. So pop over for brunch and a movie.

825 7th Ave (at 53rd St)
Lindy's is famous for their cheesecake - it's supposedly the best in the city - and you may recognize the name from the musical Guys and Dolls. Personally, I'd rather get my cheesecake from Junior's, but I hope to go back to Lindy's just for a cup of coffee. Yes, I'm serious. If I could have my pick of coffee from anywhere in the city (including Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts) I'd pick Lindy's coffee. I have no idea why it's so good, but it is. And that's that.


C is for Crumbs Bake Shop

You hear a lot about Magnolia Bakery here in NYC, but I must say that I love Crumbs way more. Their cupcakes are huge and to die for. NYC isn't the only place you can visit a Crumbs, but NYC has the most locations, for sure, since its first shop was opened on the Upper West Side in 2003. They have more than 50 varieties of cupcakes and every Monday there's a new cupcake of the week. Here are some of my favorites:

Yes, I'm a plain jane kind of girl - I promise they have way more interesting ones to choose from. But you have to admit they look pretty tasty, right? For New Year's Eve in 2011, I got this cupcake:

One of my favorite things to do is go to the Crumbs on W 42nd St between 5th and 6th Ave, grab a cupcake and a coffee, then chill out in Bryant Park. The view is great, there's a really nice bathroom nearby, and the cupcakes are delicious.

Did you visit their website? Which cupcakes would you want to try?


B is for Bryant Park

One of my favorite spots in the city is Bryant Park. It's situated right next to the New York Library, just a couple of blocks from Times Square, but it doesn't feel as busy and touristy. It has a huge lawn and during the non-wintry months is usually littered with chairs, tables, and people spread out on blankets. During the summer, they put up a huge movie screen and show movies every week. During the winter, Citi Pond (skating rink) moves in, along with a whole bunch of holiday shops. (If you use your Citi card you get a discount on the skate rental!)

JP and me ice skating at Citi Pond with my aunt Carla
In addition to all that basic stuff, Bryant Park has a Reading Room, where they provide books, magazines, and newspapers to anyone who wants to sit there and read them. There's a carousel that's always there. They have a P├ętanque court (I guess you would call it a court?) and they have classes on how to play Monday through Friday. There are lots of games available: chess, backgammon, ping pong, quoits, Kubb, and Chinese Chess. If all of this makes you hungry, there are also several little spots to grab something to eat.

Totally different Carla trip (she comes every 6 months) enjoying some Crumbs cupcakes.

Seriously, y'all. Bryant Park is awesome. You can easily spend all day there just doing nothing but laying on the grass and staring at the sky surrounded by skyscrapers...is it spring yet? I'm ready to go!

A nice view of the park.
My youngest sister Mallory's first visit.


A is for Ashlee

Let's start this alphabet challenge off with a conceited post, shall we? I know I talk about me a lot...after all, it's my blog. But I thought I'd answer some basic and not-so-basic questions about myself so you can get to know me (Ashlee) better!

1. Nicknames?
Ash, Osh Kosh, Ash-hole, LeeLee

2. Age and sign?
27 and I'm a Libra.

Shawna Herring Photography

3. Marital status?
Happily married!

4. Favorite band or singer?
Michael Buble...no, Harry Connick, Jr....no Michael Buble. We'll go with Michael since I own every single one of his albums. That's not the case with anyone else.

5. Favorite movie?
The Holiday. It was no big blockbuster, but man that movie makes me feel good. I think it's the awesome mix of Kate Winslet, little girls speaking with a British accent and saying adorable things, and the musical stylings of my favorite composer Hans Zimmer. It can make any day better for me.

6. Favorite color?

7. How many siblings?
Six - 3 brothers and 3 sisters. We're all super close and I couldn't imagine a life without them. And our group text messages make my day great.

8. What kind of phone do you have?
I have an iPhone 4s. I bought an iPhone pretty early in the game when it was ahead of all the other phone companies. I admit that everyone else has caught up and that there are now phones just as good as or better than the iPhone, but I can't seem to make the switch. For one thing, I wouldn't be able to live without my group texts.

9. Pepsi or Coke?
Coke all the way. Pepsi is too syrupy to me.

10. Did you ever fake being sick?
Ugh yes. I only did it once. Honestly, I think the only reason I did it was because I wanted to see if I could get away with it. I was in lower elementary school - maybe 2nd or 3rd grade? - and I told my teacher I was sick so my dad came and got me. We got home and he told me to go lay in my room to rest. At some point I got up to use the bathroom and when I came out my dad came back to check on me and to see if I'd thrown up and that's when the guilt hit me. I felt so bad for making Dad worry about me! I never did it again.

Rockin' Band Pic

11. Do you play any instruments?
I took piano lessons when I was young, so I know the notes and can pick out some songs, but that's about it. I played the clarinet throughout middle school and high school.

12. Morning or night person?
Morning all the way. I don't love waking up early, but once I'm awake I'm WIDE awake - there's no transition period of waking up. And usually at night, once it hits 10:00, my body starts to shut down, no matter if I'm at home or out on the town. Ten o'clock is bedtime!

13. Favorite book?
This is so hard to say because I have so many. Gone with the Wind may be my all time favorite and I read it at least 6 times during middle school and high school alone. Then I love any book by Francine Rivers, but I especially love Redeeming Love and her Mark of the Lion trilogy. I've read all 4 multiple times. Her book And the Shofar Blew is also a good one, especially since I can relate to it after experiencing similar church issues. After Francine is, of course, Harry Potter. I've also read them all multiple times. Oh and who can forget Chain of Command by Colby Marshall? Like I've said before...I love to read.

14. Do you have a collection of anything?
Yes - COFFEE MUGS! It is such an addiction and I hope to one day build appropriate shelving for them. I've tried to stop just buying random pretty mugs at the dollar store and only buy mugs that mean something - mostly souvenir mugs from various Broadway plays or from trips I take. But of course I'll except any and every mug given as a gift!

15. Are you a different person now than you were 10 years ago?
Ten years ago I graduated from high school and the answer is god yes. Some things haven't changed. For example, I've always been slow to anger and quick to laugh. I tend to be a happy person the majority of the time and have always loved being around people. But I've become more outgoing and more extroverted. In addition, my beliefs have changed a little and become a more open-minded person. My language has also become a little more...um...colorful. I like who I am today a lot more than the me from 10 years ago.