Close my eyes and see the crowd

So this is it, eh? The end of 2014! In keeping with the rest of this year I'll end December with my favourite song from the month, despite my initial plans to post my favourite Christmas song (what with it being that time of year and all), I have decided instead to go with the song that has been on repeat in my head since it's release date... because who isn't loving McBusted's new song?!

This month we moved in to our Brooklyn apartment and spent a lot of our first few weeks painting a wall, building flat pack furniture & unpacking our things; it's finally starting to feel like home, we just have to wait another few weeks for our sofa to arrive, then it'll be perfect!

Happy New Year!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

For the last three Christmases that we spent in London we had a very basic 6ft artificial tree (I blogged about our tree last year here). We found it on Amazon for £25 at a time when neither of us were earning enough to justify buying a real tree, no matter how much we wanted one, but that tree did us well. This year, however, we wanted something special - we wanted a real tree! And oh how wonderful it is! That smell. Mmm...I think it'll be real trees from now on for us (sorry artificial tree).

Sadly we had to leave the majority of our Christmas decorations behind but we did bring a few special ones, as well as any new ones we acquired since putting our belongings in to storage. We (ok, it's probably more me...) like our decorations to have a story, or be something a little quirky, so we will often buy one when we go somewhere special. I like to think of our tree as a memories tree!
The top left decoration is one I made myself to mark our wedding this year, whereby the other 3 (Mr. Octopus & the two penguins) were impulse buys in Crate & Barrel last month, on a day when they had a promotion. As soon as I spotted them I knew I couldn't leave them behind!
As I mentioned in this post last year, every year since we've been together we (ok, more me again!) have visited Harrods' Christmas Shop to treat ourselves to a new decoration. Sadly, the selection this year was pretty dire but we did manage to find some good ones - a plush Santa & one with a Routemaster bus, because after all, 2014 was the year of the bus! The two underneath were from (left) the V&A and (right) the British Museum.
These next two don't really require much explaining: they were purchased from the Empire State Building during our first week here. We bought a similar one last year in Washington, D.C so there's a mini theme going on on our tree now! The bottom two were gifts from Momma P - apparently I have "Special Daughter" because they didn't have my name...and hopefully because I'm a Special Daughter!
This year I also (finally) made the pom pom wreath I had planned to make the last two years, and I must say, I'm pretty pleased with it! It took forever but it was totally worth it. And below is one of the poinsettias Andrew surprised me with and my Davids Tea advent calendar. I missed out on this last year so I ended up buying it in early November, just to be safe!

What sort of decorations do you have on your tree? Do they tell any special stories?

South Slope's Holiday Light Spectacular 2014 - A Tiki Christmas

A short (roughly) 7 minute walk from our new apartment is, what can only really be described as, the most wonderful Christmas light display I've ever seen!

On 22nd Street, between 6th & 7th Ave, is the Holiday Light Spectacular which is now in it's 7th year. Each year, Ryan & Chris (the creators) come up with a different elaborate display of lights that flash in time to Christmas songs. And this year's theme is "A Tiki Christmas", which features two Tiki totems that talk and sing, rotating flamingos and palm trees fashioned out of string lights - fantastic!

This is only our first year witnessing this marvellous event, but you can be damn sure that we'll be visiting again next year, and the year after that, for as long as we live in this neighbourhood (and of course they continue to do it...)!
My iPhone pictures really don't do it any justice but luckily the creators have a video, and I highly recommend giving it a watch...
Mele Kalikimaka!

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

As soon as we had our move date for New York I knew that there was one thing I definitely wanted to do for our first Christmas here - the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!
The Christmas Spectacular is an annual musical stage show, and a New York Christmas tradition, presented at the Radio City Music Hall since 1933. The show attracts more than a million visitors a year and features over 140 performers!

The show combines dancing, singing, stories and at one point even a 3D feature, with Santa himself as the host. But the main event of the show are The Rockettes - an incredible women's precision dance group founded in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri. Their style of dance is a mix between modern dance & ballet and the things they can do with their legs are... wow!
The whole thing is wonderful! It's very cheesy at times (sometimes sickeningly so), but overall it's enjoyable. On entry in to the (amazing*) Radio City Music Hall you receive a free Santa hat and badge too, which makes it extra special! I would definitely recommend seeing the show at least once, but I think that'll be it for us now, until such a day that we either have guests at Christmas or maybe a small person to enjoy it with :-)
Watch the video below for a little taster:

* See second picture

The 6th Avenue Christmas Decorations

Yes, the rumours are true: Christmas in New York City is incredible - crazy! - but incredible. Despite the manic crowds you have to battle from time to time (cities, eh), the magic of Christmas really kisses NYC all over it's pretty concrete face at this time of year.

At the start of the month we headed to the Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular (more on that later) and couldn't help but notice the Christmas decorations on 6th Avenue - they are fantastic! And so big! I especially loved the giant Nutcrackers and toy town train. Despite my lack of festive spirit this year, seeing these definitely made me feel a little bit Christmassy.

Pinned: Searching For My Festive Spirit

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Yesterday didn't really feel much like Christmas for me; I sadly never managed to find my festive spirit, despite my best efforts (I did all but one of the things on "My Festive To Do List")! I watched a lot of Christmas films, we bought a real tree and decorated the apartment, I made a wreath, we saw the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree all lit up, visited TWO Christmas markets, attended What the Dickens? and made gingerbread. On top of all that I searched for inspiration, pinning like a mad woman at times! But alas, with all the crazy that's gone on this month I appear to have completely misplaced it. Maybe next year, when life has been less of a whirlwind I'll get it back. Only 363 days to go...

I'd love to know - what do you do when you can't find your festive spirit?

p.s. I want to attempt to blog something Christmas related once a day for the 12 days of Christmas...so this is day 2 already. Let's see how the next 10 go, eh!

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas!


Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays* / Nollick Ghennal**

Our Christmas this year is very different; on the one hand we're three thousand miles away from our families in a new country (which is sad), but on the other hand it's our first one as a married couple in an amazing city (which is happy)! Swings & roundabouts, y'know.

We're planning to start our day with waffles (hello new waffle iron!) before getting the train to Long Island, to the home of another British family who have very kindly invited us for dinner.

I hope you all have a wonderful day! :-)

* 'cause we're in America now!
** how we say 'Happy Christmas' in Manx

Reasons to be Cheerful - November

  • Our first month in New York!
  • Exploring our new home & falling in love with it all over again
  • Pancakes & waffles galore (basically lots of brunch)
  • Visiting all of our favourite museums & galleries again
  • Going to the top of the Empire State Building (twice) & to the Top of the Rock (again)
  • Living in an incredible apartment in SoHo for free for a month
  • Going to a cinema where instead of seats you sit in super comfy laz-e-boy chairs
  • Finding an apartment to rent, without all the headache, in a great neighbourhood
  • Delicious mac'n'cheese from Macbar, that comes in a giant macaroni-shaped container!
  • The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Brunch at Bubby's with a friend from home
  • Dough doughnuts - almost definitely the greatest doughnuts in the world!
  • Andrew's birthday & even more Dough doughnuts!
Read/Watched/Listened To/Saw/Visited:
  • Interstellar and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part 1 - both were incredible movies! I waited an age for the latter and it was totally worth it.
  • Night School: A Low Brow Lecture Series for Pseudointellectuals at The Housing Works - a very fun & informative evening
  • Slate's Superfest East at the Music Hall of Williamsburg - this was more Andrew's thing but I didn't not enjoy it!
  • Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire at The Met and the Dark Universe Space Show at the American Museum of Natural History - all fantastic exhibits.
  • I finished A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it - though it did take forever to read...
  • Serial - oh my! We were late to this but we caught up pretty quick. Podcasts aren't usually my thing but I really got in to this one!
To look forward to/to do in December:
  • New York City at Christmas time
  • Going to see Radio City's Christmas Spectacular
  • Moving in to our apartment
  • Doing all the things on My Festive To Do List
  • Christmas!! (obviously)

Pinned: Interior Inspiration for a Brooklyn Apartment

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We did it! We found an apartment! A beautiful fee free apartment in a lovely part of Brooklyn. Hurray!

I am so incredibly grateful for how painless our new landlady made the whole process for us (renting in New York can be a nightmare, as in most cases you have to prove that your salary is at least 40 times the monthly rent. Yeah, FORTY TIMES!! Which is crazy I know). We started moving in last week and have been busy building A LOT of flat pack furniture (because apartments are very rarely furnished in NYC...), we painted a wall (because it was orange and we just couldn't see ourselves living with an orange wall...) and we have visited IKEA more times in the last three weeks than we ever did in the last three years. It's all been very exciting!

Since joining Pinterest I have (obviously) mostly used it for home decor ideas (and cakes. I have a pretty well pinned cake board...), giving us a wealth of ideas to delve in to! And now I'm sharing some of my faves with you here, because, well, this is m'blog! ;-)

Keep your eyes peeled for a home tour when we finally have everything finished! Provided the apartment stays clean for long enough for me to take said pictures...

My Festive To Do List

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I love Christmas, I really do, but with only 15 days until "the big day" I'm still sadly not feeling very festive. So to try & get myself in to the Christmas spirit I've compiled a list of some of the things I want to do over the next few weeks:

1.    Go and see Radio City's Christmas Spectacular - I kind of already did this last week...
2.    Bake some gingerbread cookies
3.    Buy our first real tree!
4.    Decorate our new apartment
5.    Make a wreath
6.    Bake a (non-fruitcake) Christmassy cake
8.    Visit a Christmas Market
9.    See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree all lit up
10.  Watch all of the Christmas films! Especially...
          A Muppet's Christmas Carol*
          Love, Actually
          Elf
          Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
          Jingle All The Way
          Die Hard and Die Hard 2
          Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
          The Holiday
          The Nightmare Before Christmas
          It's A Wonderful Life (I've never actually seen this all the way through...)

*Christmas only actually begins in our house after we've watched this (Christmas traditions, y'know)...so I should probably get this watched soon right?!

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What activities are on your festive to do list?

Hey (Hey) What's The Matter With Your Head?

Tomorrow will be our one month anniversary of living in New York and by 'eck it's been a crazy one! We've eaten a lot of great food (doughnuts, mostly doughnuts. And brunch. Lots of brunch), visited our favourite museums and galleries, been to the top of the Empire State Building (twice) and just walked the streets in awe of this incredible city.

Tomorrow is also the day we start moving in to our Brooklyn apartment and I can't wait! We'll finally be able to unpack and get properly settled in to our new home. We'll also be able to start preparing for Christmas, but first, today is a certain someone's birthday so excuse me while I go stuff my face with (more) doughnuts and cake!

This month's song choice simply comes down to the fact that this has been stuck in my head every day since we re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy last week...and now I hope it's stuck in yours also ;-)

Happy Turkey Day 2014

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This year is our first Thanksgiving in America, and despite not being able to go all out with a big Thanksgiving feast (we're still in temporary accommodation), we are determined to embrace this much loved holiday of our adoptive country as best we can! We'll start the day by getting up early to join the huge crowds watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, before we head home to start cooking our simple turkey roast dinner. For dessert we'll pig out on pecan pie and pumpkin donuts before ending the day snuggled up in our pjs with hot tea and Netflix - perfect!

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Today I am thankful for the kindness of strangers

  • I'm thankful for the lady at the check-in desk who kindly let us off the bulk of our excess baggage charges, saving us lots of monies.
  • I'm thankful for a new friend who has kindly let us live in his beautiful SoHo apartment for free for a month - such a surreal experience!
  • I'm thankful for our new landlady, for making renting an apartment in NYC less painful.

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What are you thankful for today?

Reasons to be Cheerful - October

So this is incredibly late...but you know, moving to a new country can be kinda distracting ;-)
  • Quality time back on the Isle of Man
  • Visiting Niarbyl for what may be my first time (I'm so ashamed)
  • Queenies and Davisons ice-cream and chips, cheese & gravy - all my fave Manx foods!
  • The Douglas Steam Railway Workshop tour (we are a train mad family!)
  • Seeing Momma P's new shop & trying on fascinators
  • Getting m'hair did & feeling good about it!
  • Precious Poppy cuddles and meeting up with good friends
  • Afternoon Tea at Beas of Bloomsbury
  • Spending a day with my baby brother in London
  • Lunch with my Great Aunt, siblings & brother-in-law
  • The awesome cake my sister baked us!
  • Attending the Tatty Devine parakeet workshop and buying lots of Tatty goodies! (oops)
  • Dunking countless Rich Tea biccies in endless hot cups of tea
  • Amazing pancakes at The Breakfast Club (twice)
  • Fantastic food (pies) at Putney Pies & a delicious meal at Café Rialto (that gelato!)
  • Essentially bulk buying tea bags & Tatty Devine - both necessary for a move to America.
  • A nice, but little bit sad, last day at work
Read/Watched/Listened To/Saw/Visited:
  • Gone Girl - we actually went to the cinema to see this one and wow! So good.
  • The new series of The Apprentice - equally as cringey as every other series.
  • I finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and finally made a start on A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • Grayson Perry's Who Are You? exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum - both fantastic!
  • The poppies at the Tower of London was an incredible (but very busy) experience
To look forward to/to do in November:
  • Errr moving to New York!!
  • Spending a day with Momma & Poppa P before we board our flight
  • Our first Thanksgiving in America
  • Living in an apartment in Soho, for free, for a month
  • Seeing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay pt1 - I can't wait!
  • Andrew's birthday (cake, cake, cake)

Pinned: New York City Dreams 001

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We've now been in New York for just over two weeks and I still can't quite believe it! Are we really going to be living in NYC now?! Aside from making long lists of all the things I want to do - and foods I want to eat - now I'm back here, I've also been busy pinning pictures of my dream apartment.

Most of what I watch is probably set in NYC, so I've had an idea of the sort of place I'd love to live before even getting here. I have no visions of living in a penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side, with views over Central Park; as incredible as that sounds, sadly I'm not Blair Waldorf (I'm missing a vast array of expensive headbands for one thing). No, my dream place would be an apartment in a beautiful old building, on a quiet street in Brooklyn (because the West Village is a little out of our price range). It'd be big enough for the two of us, be filled with gorgeous natural light & have hardwood floors with a kitchen that consists of more than one counter. And if we get really lucky there would also be access to a roof or fire escape, with a fantastic view - oh how wonderful that all would be!

Having paid London rent for 3 years, we're no strangers to the big-bucks-for-little-space thang that NYC has got goin' on, so we're fully prepared for whatever this city has to offer - whether it be an apartment the size of a shoe box or one the size of a small house - let's just hope Lady Luck is on our side eh! (And that we can dodge the realtors and their 15%-of-the-annual-rent fee. Errr no thanks.)

The Poppies at the Tower

So it's now the early hours of the 12th in the UK, but here in New York it's still the 11th, which means I'm technically not late sharing these pictures I took of the poppies at the Tower of London last month.
The installation, entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, was to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with each poppy representing a British military fatality. There are 888,246 ceramic poppies in total, with the final one put in place on the 11th November to mark Armistice Day. Seeing the poppies was a truly incredible experience, despite the crazy crowds you had to navigate through to get a good view, and it really brings home the level of sacrifice that was made.
The ceramic poppies are the creation of artist Paul Cummins and the setting was designed by stage designer Tom Piper. They were gradually added to the moat surrounding the Tower of London throughout the summer and will now be picked by volunteers to send to their new homes. All the profits from the sale of the 888,246 ceramic poppies - in the millions! - will be split between 6 service charities.
p.s. can you see the little robin hanging out on the poppies in the 3rd picture? He kept hiding underneath them and hopping out occasionally to say hi!

Start Spreading The News, I'm Leaving Today (Tomorrow)

As of right now I am both unemployed and of no fixed abode. If there wasn't a legit reason for this I would be seriously questioning what direction my life is going in. But as it goes, I leave Blighty tomorrow for a new life in America and by 'eck I'm excited!

So I'll leave you with the most obvious song choice for this month (because I want to be a part of it, New York, New York!)* while I try & pack a huge chunk of our belongings (and 1200 teabags) in to four suitcases without exceeding the weight limit... wish me luck!

*please accept my apologies for the sheer amount of cheese in this post.

NYC: Central Park, MOMA & LOVE

So this is it: our last day in NYC (from forever ago...). Although it took me ages to actually start blogging about this trip I was still determined to finish before we go back & now I finally have - hurrah!
As our flight wasn't until the evening we still had a full day left in the city, and so once our suitcases were packed we headed over to Central Park again to see the Alice in Wonderland sculpture. I luckily managed to nab 30 seconds of no other tourists to take a picture with it (seriously, there was a huge school group just after us who just seemed to consume the whole thing). The sculpture, by José de Creeft, was unveiled in 1959. It was ordered by George T. Delacorte Jr. to honour his late wife, Margarita, and also as something to give to the enjoyment of the children of New York.
After Central Park we headed over to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in Midtown Manhattan. A mix of crazy queues and a busy schedule forced us to push visiting MOMA back again and again until the very last day, when luck was on our side and we didn't have to wait more than a minute to get in! To have left NYC without a visit to MOMA would have been an awful shame, because it very quickly became our favourite museum of the trip.
The museum first opened in 1929 and was primarily the idea of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D. Rockefeller), Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan, who were all collectors of modern art. It moved to it's current home on 53rd Street in 1939 and is one of the most influential museums of modern art in the world.
In the museum's collection are some of the most incredible, most recognisable works of modern and contemporary art from some of the world's greatest artists. There are works by Claude Monet, Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh, and my personal favourite, Frida Kahlo - just to name a few! Seeing a world-renowned piece of art in the flesh and not in a book, is a truly fantastic thing to experience!
After an incredible day at MOMA it was time to make our way back to our Airbnb apartment to pick up our bags before heading to JFK for our late night flight back to London. First, however, we headed further up Avenue of the Americas to see the iconic LOVE sculpture which was created from a pop art image by Robert Indiana. His design was first used as a MOMA Christmas card in 1964 and the original sculpture from this design, made in 1970, is on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indiana.
So that's it! Our first American adventure is all blogged. Man did that take longer than it should have!? Oops. It was a fantastic trip and I am so excited to be going back to NYC on a more permanent basis. It's truly one of the greatest cities in the world!

You can expect a butt-load of (hopefully interesting & definitely not boring) current New York related posts coming very soon! ;-)

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NYC Part 1
NYC: The Met & The Upright Citizens Brigade, NYC: Grand Central Station & The Rockefeller Center, NYC: St. Patrick's Day Parade 2013, NYC: Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry & Wall Street

Washington, D.C.

Boston, M.A.

NYC Part 2