Monday, March 14, 2011

Best Sick Day Ever

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I have had a slight distaste for the winter weather here in NYC and its determination to wear out its welcome. One chilly February evening as Leticia and I were thawing out after our day's trek through the ever-present mounds of snow, we somehow found ourselves researching tropical weekend getaways. Within a remarkably short time, we unearthed a plethora of affordable options to make our dream vaca a reality. We determined that Miami would be our best choice, and that we'd save the Bahamas for when I make it big as a social worker. My ship's coming in, I just know it. We booked the tickets and began the countdown!

Our journey began on Friday morning at 4:00am when the first of my four alarms (I know- I have an issue) began going off. By 4:30, we were out the door, bags packed, listening to the Dominican music in our taxi. Our flight took off at 5:45 and we landed in Miami at 8:40... just in time for me to huddle into a corner of a book store in the airport and let my supervisor know that I just wasn't going to be able to come in to work today, and needed to take a sick day. The man next to me buying a book gave me a look of judgment and a smirk. I smiled and rolled by bag out into the sunshine to begin my "recovery".

We went outside to get a cab and had this conversation:
Taxi Dispatcher: Where you girls goin?
Me: North Beach
TD: (Look of confusion) North Beach? You sure it's not South Beach? That's where the party's at!
Me: Oh definitely North Beach-- we're not here to party. We're here to lay on the beach.
TD: Oh ok, ok, well there's definitely a beach there don't worry!

He obviously doesn't know us and how much of a party can be had while laying perfectly still in a beach chair. We arrived at our resort and it was located directly on the beach and the view was awesome! We stored our bags since we arrived before check-in and began exploring. The feeling of walking outside without tights, scarf, coat, and gloves was incredible. We found a nail salon across the street and treated our poor, haggard feet a much needed pedicure so that we could be fully prepared for our beach debut. Our next stop was the CVS (which we would visit four more times that day... I mean it has everything!) where I had to purchase some sunscreen so that I could return from my "sick day" without having to explain how I got a sunburn during a rainy 30 degree weekend. By the time we returned to our hotel, we were able to check in to the room, put on our suits, and venture out into the glorious 80 degree sunshine and relax on the beach.

For the first time ever, I was on a vacation where there was absolutely no agenda. I think this is actually what a vacation is supposed to be! Who knew?? Leticia and I are both huge planners, but we kind of just got on the plane and figured things out as we went along! We turned off our phones for the weekend and just relaxed. After we exhausted Friday's sun (and I exhausted half of my sunscreen supply, reapplying on the half hour) we decided to put on some summer dresses and wander around to find some dinner. We ended up taking the valet man's suggestion and dined at a Peruvian restaurant where we had some super tasty plantains.

We decided that after dinner, we naturally needed to find a sweet treat- as is our style. We soon learned that Miami has a serious disrespect for the need for sweet treats. There was none to be found! No cupcake shops, no creperies, and restaurants without dessert menus at all! The shock was overwhelming. So I once again channeled the inner-Sue Beth and said, "Leticia, we can MAKE a sweet treat!" We found the local grocery store and picked up a Betty Crocker microwavable molten brownie cake and a pint of... wait for it... BLUEBELL ice cream! We returned to our room, magically made a brownie in the microwave in 45 seconds (Easy Bake Oven style) and got to work on our beautiful concoction. All for $4.35. It doesn't get better than that.

The next day we woke up late, dined on Einstein Bros. Bagels and headed out to the beach again! And I won't lie to you-- I finished that bottle of sunscreen. As Leticia tanned before my eyes, I fought the good fight against those UV rays. And except for a small neglected section on my upper thigh, I won. Thank you Neutrogena, SPF 70. That night, the Baylor/UT basketball game was on, so we ate some fajitas and hung out in the room watching the stupid longhorns win again. WHATEVER. It was still fun though not having to huddle around the laptop a day after the show aired to watch TV!

That night, we decided we would take the city bus (kids stuff!) and go to the mall where we could go see the Liam Neeson movie, Unknown, and eat at the Cheesecake Factory. We went out to wait for the bus where we read the phrase "Bus comes every 20-60 minutes". What kind of range is that? It's like saying "The bus will come at some point.. probably?" So we waited. And the range held true... because 53 minutes later, that bus arrived. That experience will definitely give me a little more grace with NYC transit next time I feel like I've been waiting forever! We arrived at the nicest mall I've ever seen and wandered around in awe before buying our movie tickets and putting our names on the list at the Cheesecake Factory. The dinner was fabulous and the movie was entertaining (even though it was not the best thing ever), and we determined it would be best to take a taxi home to avoid the dreaded "20-60" minute wait.

This cardboard cut-out was at the movie theatre. Obviously, I had to pose with it. No idea what it's advertising... but kinda funny!

We headed back to good ole NYC on Monday morning, at our new favorite time-- 4:30am. The flight was quick and gave us enough time to take a cab home, pack our lunches, and head to work. Sunburn free! However, I did actually acquire some type of upper respiratory infection while I was gone... so I was coughing all last week. I guess I earned that sick day after all! Stupid karma.

The trip was a HUGE blessing and one of the most fun weekends I've ever had thanks to my fabulous roommate, amazing weather, and the opportunity to be still, recharge, and praise God for His beautiful creation. I'm already starting a 2012: Get The Heck Out Of NYC Fund in preparation for next winter. Donations are welcome!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fun With The Vegans

A couple of weeks ago my dear friends, Katie and Jamy, came to visit me in the Big City. I fondly refer to these girls as "the vegans" or for short sometimes, "the veges" (pronouced veegs). During my time in Austin, Katie and Jamy introduced me to a way of life in which you don't eat any animal products: including meats, dairy, eggs, etc. This was all a shock to me since I can't really even think of a meal on the spot that doesn't include some type of animal product. But as we continued to be friends, I sampled some of Jamy's delicious vegan-style cooking and I was convinced that one could actually eat normal-ish food that is tasty without having some animal parts sprinkled about. SO, I was excited to have them come to New York where we could sample some of the vegan-specific cuisine that is scattered through the city. Thankfully Leticia is a restaurant-searcher extraordinaire and she quickly compiled a list of places to go that promised pure vegan cuisine. The trip was amazing and the time spent with these girls was such a huge blessing. They're such awesome women of God and were such an encouragement to me during their time here! I'm going to let the pictures tell the rest of the story...

We started out at Milon- our favorite Indian restaurant. Yes, that's a Happy New Year sign in the back. It's awesome.
We then found some vegan ice cream-- made with cashew milk which was TA-sty! It was seriously some of the best ice cream I've ever had-- don't knock it until you try it!
Waiting for the subway... SO chilly!!
We took them to donut plant because I was convinced that they were vegan donuts. But then we got there and it turned out they were only vegetarian.. meaning they didn't contain eggs, but they still had milk. Soooo Leticia and I just ate our donuts in front of Jamy and Katie. Oops! Come on, we couldn't just not eat them! And it was fine, because there was a vegan bakery around the corner-- of course. So everyone won!
We went into Brookstone to play with the gadgets-- and Katie was alarmed by the massage chair. This is her real-time face when she turned it on - HAHA.
We went and saw James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway and it was so great! Hooray for Half Price Tickets!
We went to the Met and admired some art...
And then went for some more vegan cuisine!
Probably 75% of this picture is soy-- but man was it tasty!
Katie's hot chocolate-- we think maybe the barista signed his/her creation?
Trip to Central Park.. not as cute as the snow starts melting.
Don't judge the fur.
All in all, the trip was so much fun and it was so wonderful to have more fellow Texas up here in ole NYC. There can never be enough really! So thanks Katie and Jamy for making the trek!