Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eatin' in the ATM... Keepin' it Classy

If you've ever been to New York, you know that on every corner of Manhattan there is at least one street food vendor. Typically they either offer hot dogs, pretzels, and Snapple or they are serving some type of Mediterranean/Mexican/Anything-else-that-can-be-served-from-a-cart cuisine. You never really know what you're going to get or if it's going to be tasty, but the food carts can be your saving grace when you're starving and on the run. On the other hand, sometimes the food carts are so tasty that they can be worth a journey into the city specifically to partake in the tasty treats they offer. The latter was the case last Sunday as Angie informed me of "The Halal Guys"- a well-known food cart in midtown near Rockefeller Center. She told me it was the best chicken and rice she'd ever had in her life. I already had my coat half on after she said food cart, so we were soon on our way.

It was raining outside so we hurried into the city as quickly as possible. We arrived at Rockefeller and realized we didn't have any cash so we began the search for an ATM. We went into the Apple Savings Bank (Anyone ever heard of this?? It looks super fancy but I swear it's the only one of its kind) and tried the ATM there, but it was out of order. We had to search for a bit but were finally able to get some cash and scurried back, following the scents of wonder and awe that were being emitted by The Halal Guys food cart.

We didn't exactly think through the fact that it was raining outside and our dining destination was a food cart. This wasn't fully realized until we were standing holding our umbrellas with one hand and our chicken and rice with the other, sandwiched between holiday shoppers and Rockettes spectators. We slowly shuffled over to a nearby Starbucks hoping to eat in there after purchasing some type of beverage to earn our spot. However, there were no available tables. So much for frequent customer perks. We looked at each other with looks of panic, as we realized we had no idea how we were going to enjoy the feast that was so close, yet SO far away from being consumed. My eyes wandered over to the Apple Savings Bank and I felt the empty ATM booth calling our name. Why not? I mean the ATM was out of order. It was just this big empty room that no one was using! So yep.. we wandered on over and settled onto the ledge and consumed what was correctly described as the best chicken and rice EVER.

Do I think it was wrong? Nope. Do I have any regrets? Nope. Will I eat street food again in an ATM? Highly possible. We made sure to wave to the security cameras to express our thanks and we cleaned up our mess so I think the Apple Savings Bank people will be pleased to know that even though their ATM was useless at providing people with cash, it did provide a very effective shelter and dining experience last Sunday evening. Perhaps more ATM booths should take note and start adding tables and chairs and put in a cafe. Just a thought-- perhaps I'll make it a business venture if this whole social work thing doesn't work out. :)


Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas... Maybe Too Far??

Well they weren't lying -- all those Christmas movies that portray NYC as being beautiful and magical during this season. EVERYTHING is decorated! Each neighborhood has its own lights throughout the streets and ALL the storefronts are decorated elaborately. So it wasn't too much of a shock that PriceWise (picture a trashier CVS/Walgreens) wanted to join in on the fun and display its products in a festive fashion. But I'm not sure that this was the best plan...

Really?? Of ALL the products... you decide that stack the Tampax boxes and decorate them as a Christmas tree?? I'd venture to say almost any other product would have been a better choice. Wheat thins perhaps? They're nice and rectangular. How about oreo packages? They have seasonal colors. ANYTHING really. But thank you for the laugh, PriceWise. I salute your window dressers for their bold choice. I mean really, I think they're on to something here. I can't think of a more practical stocking stuffer!

I finally got to go see the tree all lit up and beautiful! It really is huge. Although, I do think it looked bigger on Home Alone 2.... just sayin'. Maybe cause Kevin was short. Anywho-- what you DON'T see is the four previous photos that were taken of me and Angie because I asked like four old women in a row to take our picture with my iPhone. Disaster. This was literally the FIFTH take.. in a crowd of like 8 million. Whatever-- I needed that pic!

(Don't judge the hats-- it's so COLD!)

It's so BIG!!

And now I'd like to make a special bday shout-out to my roomie, Leticia! Love you roomie!

We took this little pic before we headed out with friends for a birthday dinner in the city. I know, I know- you don't even need to say it- we should make this into a Christmas card. Too bad I just spent my pay check on a high dollar burger and dessert! I'm not sure when my brain morphed to the point where I believe $25 is an appropriate amount of money to spend on dinner. But hey-- it was a HOLIDAY! Doesn't count :)

On an entirely separate note... there are only TWO WEEKS until Christmas and more importantly, only two weeks until I'm back in TEXAS!!! It'll be short... but I couldn't be more excited. Don't get me wrong... this city is festive, but there's no place I'd rather be than HOME for Christmas! (Please excuse the excessive capitalization in this paragraph-- there are only so many ways to express my excitement in written form.)

So let the countdown begin!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"What's with all this walking??"

Well I definitely had one of the best Thanksgivings EVER. Don't get me wrong-- I love family Thanksgivings in Temple complete with watching the parade in front of dad's fire while Mom slaves away in the kitchen-- nothing can ever replace that for sure. However, what I experienced last week was probably the closest second there could be!

It all started last Monday when my favorite sister arrived after I got off work. She arrived in a cab and I had a gourmet tortellini dinner waiting with a lovely Thanksgiving bouquet I had just purchased from the local florist. Who am I?? Those flowers are awesome though... I'm just sayin'.
So Stacy arrived and it was a beautiful sisterly reunion. We went to bed and then she promptly left me to go on a five hour (one-way) bus ride to Washington DC -- the place she has always wanted to visit-- while I slaved away at work. Stacy spent a full three hours in DC and then headed back to the ole city. We ate some fabulous thai food and headed to bed. I forced her up the next morning to go stand in a freezing line to get us tickets to the Broadway show "Memphis", again while I slaved away at the office. She endured the cold and got us front row ("partial view") tickets to the show. Lemme tell ya-- it was AMAZING. Definitely my favorite show I've ever seen. I also introduced Stacy to the beauty of Shake Shack that evening and her life will never be the same.

The next morning we left bright and early (slash an hour and a half later than planned due to the excessive "five more minutes" we alternately plead) and settled into our spots for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade at 42nd St. and 6th Ave. The spots were perfect and we were prepared to strong-arm the crowd when Meme and Aunt Janet arrived from the airport so that we could all enjoy these coveted standing spots. So I went to go meet the Meme and Aunt Janet while Stacy guarded the spots. As I promptly left the street to find them, a cop puts up a barrier and yells after me "You know you can't get back in here now, right?" Of course I didn't know that. We had a short discussion (my sassy attitude repressed since he was an officer of the law) and I made the call that Stacy would need to be meeting me and the fam at our new not-so-incredible-but-still-good standing spots. All in all the parade was a lot of fun! Chilly and crowded, yes-- but I'd definitely do it again!

On to Thanksgiving dinner-- which I thought I was thoroughly prepared for due to the success of the dry run! After we get home, I put on my apron with confidence and go to start stuffing the turkey. Only one problem... the turkey that I had been thawing for over a day was still FROZEN in the legs! I started to sweat a bit but Meme came to the rescue and did some magic with hot water and years of turkey-experience. I couldn't have done it without her. She also displayed some impressive gravy skills. The turkey ended up coming out fine and everything else tasted delish-- so I consider it to have been a success. Stacy and Aunt Janet did some helping as well-- generally in the form of "sampling" and "testing" for the "sake of the group"... something along those lines :)

After dinner we had to take a little nap in preparation for our midnight shopping extravaganza at the Queens Mall! (Don't judge- it's not ghetto! I promise!) We went to sleep around 7:30pm and planned to wake up around 11:00pm to head out with our cab. I was put in charge of the alarm. Mistake #1. The next thing I know, I roll over and it's 12:30am. Oops! Did I rush out of bed and sound the alarm? Nope-- I continued sleeping! Stacy and I can really convince one another we need five more minutes for a WHILE! We finally got up around 1:00am and headed out with our driver. Yep, I have a driver, no big deal. Sure, he's different every time and charges me different amounts but I think I'll continue to say I have a driver. We found some fabulous sales at the mall and decided to celebrate with an IHOP breakfast. (Feel free to judge-- cause that IS ghetto!). We took a car there too. And then one home. And then this conversation ensued:

AJ - "Sara, these cars are expensive!"
Me- "Yep."
AJ- "I mean is there any other way we can get around?"
Me- "Well yeah- we could take the bus home- it will take about an hour, but that's pretty normal"
AJ- "Hm.. I guess I don't need souvenirs-- call that car!"

Alright-- car was called. But after that day, we calmed down with the taxis and Meme, Aunt Janet, and Stacy learned to love the Subway. I'm going to continue this blog via pictures with captions-- I feel like the pictures really capture the experiences more! So I present to you-- the rest of our adventure, in pictures... Are some of them awkwardly tiny? Yes. Are they in any particular order? No. Should I be spending my time reading "Blogging for Dummies"? Yes. But since I'm not-- you're just gonna have to take it as it is!

Pop-Tarts World-- Nuff said.
Just some sisterly engagement photos
Stacy was throwing leaves on my face for effect... she's such an artist.
We conquered Alice AND her wonderland.
And then we brunched at Alice's Tea Cup. And took awkwardly small photos.
Not the bouquet. It's lovely, right??
This one's for you mom. We wanted to buy them so you could have them all on the tree but with these NYC prices, I was only able to afford the Middle Child one-- hope that's okay! :)
So ominous!
Rockin' the mitten-gloves-- it was so CHILLY!
Meme enjoyed every minute of the subway rides-- it's written all over her face.
Only the Southerners can truly appreciate the euphoria experienced when we spotted the "Daisy's Grits" kiosk. Brilliant-- educated them Yanks, Daisy! Grits are so TASTY.
Lego Santa!
At the parade in Times Square
BEST SISTER EVER! Thanks for coming to visit me!!!

I love my family and am SO thankful they were here - can't wait for the epic Christmas fun to come in less than three weeks!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Once Upon A Time... We Carried A Christmas Tree To Queens From Manhattan

Okay so I know I was supposed to blog each day about Thanksgiving this week to share all the awesomeness that was had ... but I had to insert the experience I had this evening with Leticia and Angie. We first went and had some awesome Indian food at the place with the crazy lights ...

Then we had some amazing cheesecake at this Italian bakery. On the way to the bakery, we spotted the Christmas trees outside of a little grocery store. I have been telling Leticia for weeks that I was determined to get a real Christmas tree this year. She always responded with looks of doubt and a slight smirk, as if to say "Okay, that's a cute idea... I'm not carrying a tree up those stairs!"

So as we passed by the trees I stopped to assess the prices and sturdiness of the little guys. I consulted the salesman and a conversation somewhat like this transpired...

Me: "How much is the tree?"
Salesman: "Tree?"
Me: "Yeah, these trees, how much are they?"
Salesman: (Funny look... then proceeds to flip over the pricetag that's in front of my face)
Me: "Oh okay, great. Then what happens? Do I need a stand?"
Salesman: "Stand?"
Me: (Excessive hand gestures) "Yeah, a stand? Right?"
Salesman: "Stand?"
Me: (Realizing I may need an interpreter... good thing Leticia speaks fluent Spanish)
Leticia: ammused silence
Me: (Continued gestures) "A stand- like to hold it?"
Salesman: (Grabs the stand) "Oh yes- $15"
Me: "Okay... I'll take it. Angie- hold this tree. Come inside the store and hold the tree- it's fine!"
Angie: (Look of hatred) "For real? We're taking the tree in the store? Is that allowed?"
Me: "It's fine! I'm a customer! Bring the tree!"
Angie: (Holds the tree inside with continued look of hatred)
Me: (Excessive happiness)
We then proceed to carry the tree seven blocks and stop at the CVS (naturally) to pick up some decorations. They didn't make the cut for the big move!

Me: "Angie- hold the tree inside, we have to get decorations!"
Angie: (Same look- I'm sure you're getting the picture now) "We are NOT taking the tree into CVS!"
Me: "It's fine- it has an automatic door- let's go!"
Angie: (Holding the tree in CVS- in disbelief)
Woman in Wheelchair: (As she rolls by Angie) "If only I had a camera"
We purchased our festive decorations and proceeded on home. Did we shove the tree in the back of our suburban and turn the radio and heat on as we journeyed back to the apt? NOPE-- we surely did head on down to the L train with tree in hand. Were people a bit surprised? Perhaps. Annoyed? Probably. Was the train completely packed? Of COURSE. Here's a little idea of how cool we looked:
There was a lovely man (slightly intoxicated) who helped us brace the tree for the ride and informed us that we should add aspirin to the water for the tree. I think maybe he just had a headache. Who knows? I didn't add any aspirin-- cause really, who owns aspirin??

Anyway- we trekked the half mile home after the subway ride, mounted the three flights of stairs, and finally got back to our humble abode. We proceeded to decorate to the crooning of ole Frank, Dean, and Sammy on the Rat Pack Christmas CD. Does it get better than that? Nope- don't think so!

All in all-- one of my favorite nights in the city! I promise to tell about Thanksgiving soon-- this just had to be shared!

Hooray for the Christmas season!!!