Monday, June 25, 2012

wine-filled week

Vino and I have spent some quality time together lately. I'm always up for a good celebration.

The biggest cheers of the week went to Kurt and I celebrating three years of dating! Can you believe it?! I really can't sometimes :) We always celebrate on the summer solstice and have adopted this tradition of soaking up all the long evening sun we can at Erie Basin Park next to Ikea in Red Hook.

This year I wanted to do something different. I almost wanted to abandon Red Hook because I feel like it is something we would do any other day of the week. It just didn't feel all that out of the ordinary or special for such a noteworthy day. I really do enjoy all this bike riding and beer drinking but I can't claim to be anything other than a girly girl at heart. And sometimes you just want to get dressed up and do something NICE for a change, right?! (I claim Kurt is handicapped in this department because he never had a sister. He claims I have a whole other slew of issues because I don't have brothers. I guess it's all relative.) So I cut him a deal: we would do the Ikea thing but he had to plan the whole event and make it fancy or special in some way. In return, I would plan a surprise weekend trip.

You would have thought I asked him to cure cancer by his reaction to this "impossible feat" I'd laid before him. After much personal turmoil, Kurt pulled out a lovely evening and we had a great time. Still working on our definition of fancy though....

We started a Botanica and both had a glass of prosecco. Kurt got me those lovely yellow flowers (which I promptly let wither in the black hole that is my apartment). 

Next we ran by the Good Fork to pick up some food to go and took it to our park. We even occupied a new area this year. BIG changes happening over here :)

We shared Oxtail Ravioli (yum) and a Salad with White Balsamic Dressing (double yum). Kurt brought a couple bottles of New Zealand wine and real silverware and plates and glasses. He was a trooper to carry them around on his bike all day!

While my gifts for Kurt are lost in Amazon/FedEx land somewhere, Kurt was right on time and got me this gorgeous bottle of vodka. He is single handedly helping me build my bar and knows I have a soft spot for pretty labels. This one is made nearby in Brooklyn even!

We technically missed the actual sunset but it was nice to enjoy the warmth and long glow of the evening before heading back to the Good Fork for dessert and grappa. It was such a good evening! I'm going to put Kurt in charge of planning date nights more often! Happy 3 years!

Later in the week, I went to a wine tasting fundraiser for Architecture for Humanity NY. Remember I took my parents to one last summer? Fun and for a good cause!

Wine, knowledge, and space provided by Moore Brothers Wine Company. Snacks by Fresh Direct :) 

Then for my half of the anniversary deal, I planned a weekend trip for Kurt and I out to the North Fork of Long Island. They are known for their awesome wine trail, so we definitely knocked back a few glasses. It was so fun! I cant wait to take everyone who visits me in New York (tempting, right?). All the details to come soon!

Friday, June 22, 2012

and the winner is...

The winner of my very special blogiversary giveaway is...

Erin from Bourbon Trails! Erin is a dear Brooklyn friend who found her way here via Kentucky. Sadly, she is leaving NYC soon to see where the wind will blow her. I hope she enjoys the tea towel and has fond memories of the Big Apple when she uses it. I was planning on shipping the prize to whoever won, but now I am holding it hostage to ensure that I see Erin before she leaves us (sniff, sniff).

Thanks to everyone who entered and anyone who reads. I wish I could give you all prizes! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

fishing trip and other random happenings

I can't even keep my weeks straight these days. Enjoy the photos I could round up since my last dump!

New sandals! These tootsies just need to find some SAND now! The beach is calling my name....

Jenn and I recently attended an Apartment Therapy Design Evening at ABC Home. The guest this time was the Novogratz! It boggles my mind how they have a bagillion kids and still manage to design and flip houses and host TV shows. You know, small stuff. I'm a sucker for peoples' country mouse to city mouse stories, so I loved hearing about their Southern roots and how they found their way to New York City.

Jenn and I have been to many of these events and have perfected our wine/time ratio to a T. All it really involves is getting two glasses before even finding a seat so a) you don't have to get up during the middle of someone's interview and b) you escape the danger that they run out of wine or stop serving at a random point--real scientific, right? I've even gone so far as to pretend like I am grabbing a drink for my "friend" so the bartender doesn't think I'm a complete lush. I doubt they even care. Regardless, our method impressed the girls we were sharing a couch with and they tried out the system. Needless to say, eight glasses of wine later we were all best friends and even had a lady date this week! Points for double fisting!

Kurt and I had a fabulous tennis date this week. After searching around for open courts for a while, we got down to business in Fort Greene park and I was reminded how much a love that game. I hope we go more often! To reward our serious match skills (wink wink) we got tacos at Habana Outpost afterwards. I felt like I was cheating on my beloved Cuban sandwich but their catfish tacos are pretty solid as well.

I joined Kurt on a fishing trip with one of the contractors his firm works with occasionally. It was the 15th annual outing. We even got t-shirts! The night ended up being a bit more rough and tumble (shield your eyes later if you can't handle blood!) but it was still a great evening. How often do I get to hang out on a boat in the middle of Long Island Sound? Never. That's when.

I told Kurt this picture could be on the cover of a Bible :)

Eventually people broke out the rods and got down to business. There was a pot of money for "First Fish" (which I think later progressed to "First Bass") and "Biggest Fish".

People started catching fish left and right! The dead bodies kept piling up on the deck next to their owners and I was forced to dodge blood and fish guts ever time I went to get a drink or use the bathroom.

Kurt and I decided to try our luck late in the game, but sadly we both lack the patience to fish and came away empty handed.

The first bass came late and was immediately sliced up into sushi. Can't say I dove right into that. Although I did get a chuckle watching grown men cry over a little wasabi :)

While one of the crew members was helping set me up with a rod, he said "aren't you a little too clean to be doing this?" Obviously I didn't get the memo about wearing your crummy clothes. In my delusional mind, I had imagined fishing on a yacht. The boat was perfectly fine and nice but was definitely a fishing vessel lacking life's finer details. Thank God I didn't wear the sailboat dress I was planning on. Probably would have been laughed right off the ship!

The aftermath. Ick!

Over the weekend, I hit up the Brooklyn Flea. As always, I came away empty handed. There are just so many people there. I don't have adequate space to agonize over a purchase, so instead I just bounce from booth to booth. It's still pretty entertaining.

Kurt and I grabbed lunch at the Flea too. It was hard to choose from all the delicious options, but we settled on grilled cheese and lemonade. 

Kurt is obsessed with the European Championship these days and wanted to watch Poland take on the Czech Republic. He roots for Poland and thought it would be fun to cheer along with other fans in Greenpoint, a Brooklyn neighborhood with a super high Polish population. We ended up at Red Star and grabbed a table just before the match started. Poland lost, got eliminated from the tournament, and I fell asleep a couple times during the game. I try to like soccer. I do. It just bores me to tears. Sorry, Kurt :(

When riding our bikes to Greenpoint, it has become a tradition to get ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory way at the northern tip of the borough. There is a pretty sweet view of Manhattan as well.

Later that evening, we enjoyed some burgers and drinks in the cute backyard at Sea Witch. And then I was exhausted and went to bed at ten. I'm so cool.

In other news, I passed another exam! Three down, four to go! Almost half way there. I've been a taking a little it's summer, I don't feel like studying break but I need to get back to it soon. The sooner I can get them over with, the sooner I can move on with my life!

Kurt and I have a big week planned that concludes with a super secret surprise trip I have been planning over the weekend. I can't spare any details but I will share lots of photos when we return! Have a great week!

Monday, June 18, 2012

happy 2 years!

Two years (and 352 posts!) ago I started On Board the Gravytrain to record all the ins and outs of life in NYC. It sprung out of the desire to stay connected to all my friends and family in far flung places and has been a constant reminder of how incredibly lucky I am to live in this phenomenal city, enjoying my twenties. One of my first posts was about my new bicycle. That trusty Schwinn and this blog have definitely covered many miles with me! It boggles my mind to go back through the archives and re-read all those moments. Whether you are a veteran or a new reader, thanks for stopping by! I hope to keep up the posting and look forward to seeing where this Gravytrain takes me!

In honor of this special blog-iversary, I'm going to pretend like I'm a real serious blogger and do a GIVEAWAY! Surely you all know that I have no sponsors. No businesses are sending swag my way (although I will graciously accept if they want to start! :) ), so I just popped out after work to get something small to say thanks! to anyone who takes the time to read the nonsense I put out there. Without further ado.......

New York City tea towel from Fishs Eddy! This place always has such cute, quirky kitchen things. I've had my eye on this towel for a while...although the Brooklyn one is really my favorite :)

How to enter: Leave a comment on this post by Friday, June 22nd, at 12pm EST and I will choose a winner at random. (Make sure I can access your email address to get your shipping info etc!) Good luck!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

weekend bike rides and such

Wow, guys. It's been a while. The summer has this way of filling my days with so many blog worthy things but no time to actually recount them. Who wants to sit in front of a computer when the weather is lovely anyway? So bear with me as I catch you all up on the last couple weeks!

At work we finally had a photo shoot for the first project I worked on in the office. The clients have tons of stuff, so it took me forever to clean all their junk out of the kitchen for a good shot. Who needs eight types of salt?! 

Kurt got me a sewing class for Christmas and I finally got around to attending. It was a great, incredibly basic introduction to sewing. I can finally wrap my head around bobbins and all the knobs and levers. It even inspired me to break out my dusty machine and get it all set up. Now I just need a project! (The class I took was the "Beginners Basics" from the Sewing Studio in Chelsea. I would highly recommend it!)

Jenn, Kurt, and I attended the Architecture League's First Friday happy hour at the office of Grimshaw Architects. Kurt was not happy about the "green wall" but it was such a good backdrop for a photo!

After the happy hour, we celebrated Andrea's birthday at the Brooklyn Tap House. We rode our bikes there only to be stranded by a rainstorm and had to take a cab home!

After retrieving our bikes the next morning, Kurt and I got ambitious and planned a bike ride all the way to 79th Street on the Upper West Side from Brooklyn.

We paused at the Pier I Cafe for a drink and some food.

Cruise ship setting sail down the Hudson.

Battery Park City

Tear Drop Park

World Trade Center progress

Hudson River

Irish Hunger Memorial

We had time to kill before our evening plans, so instead of riding back to Brooklyn, Kurt suggested we take the water taxi which picks you up at the southern tip of Manhattan and drops you off at Ikea in Red Hook. Thank God. I'm not sure my little legs could have handled another bridge after all those miles we logged.

Once safely back in Brooklyn, we stopped by my new favorite bar, Botanica, for a glass of wine. It's always lovely there.

Then we decided to grab some pizza at Two Boots for dinner before meeting up with some friends for a birthday party at Franklin Park. Too bad being fashionably late also means that there is nowhere to sit at the bar :( so Kurt and I had the bright idea to take a stroll through the neighborhood while waiting for the crowd to thin out.

We came across this lovely little wine bar called Little Zelda in Prospect Heights. It's really teeny but has an awesome vibe. Kurt and I have continually been on the lookout for places that are coffee shops during the day and serve alcohol in the evening. We like to pretend we are European sometimes most of the time and it's just nice to not have to yell to talk at the person sitting next to you like you have to do at most bars. {image thanks to Kurt}

We ended up talking to the owners (nicest people ever, live in the neighborhood, named the place after their adorable baby etc) and learned that they have been operating the coffee shop for a couple months and just got their liquor license in the last week. Do we have good timing or what?! I can't wait to go back and hang out on a gorgeous evening sometime soon.

On Sunday, Kurt and I visited some friends down the street. Kurt wanted to share his photo slide show from his trip to Samoa/New Zealand (I've been bugging him for a guest post for here of these days) and we had yet to see their apartment. It sounds creepy but I love seeing other people's homes. It's always so exciting to explore a new place. These two have a cute little 2 bedroom in Kurt's neighborhood. The layout it a bit quirky but they have a small balcony plus this awesome roof deck, one and a half baths (trust me, no one has more than one bathroom), and I think I may have spotted a dishwasher in their kitchen. It doesn't take much, but this visit may have rekindled my moving urge!

Cookout in Kurt's backyard. This is a regular occurrence during the summer months. It's not quite a jungle back there yet, but it's only a matter of time before the plants (mainly cucumbers) take off.

Jenn and I attended a happy hour event a the New York Design Center during the week. You could mingle through several showrooms on one floor who were serving drinks and snacks. We love a good party.

My favorite was this little cup of crème brûlée. Delicious and oh so adorable.

Door knobs by our host, S.A. Baxter

During the week, Kurt and I decided to grab dinner at Alma in Brooklyn. It's located along the Columbia Waterfront and the rooftop dining area has an amazing view of Downtown Manhattan. We rode our bikes because Kurt assured me it would not rain locked our bikes up moments before the bottom of the sky fell out. 

Once the clouds cleared, there was a gorgeous view of the nighttime skyline.

New stairs are going in at the UWS townhouse! Exciting progress!

Jenn and I measured an Upper East Side apartment as a new project this past week. I almost stole the clients' dog. She was so cute.

After measuring for several hours, Jenn and I rewarded ourselves with lunch at the new Food Hall at the Plaza Hotel.

We went with sandwiches from No. 7 Sub. Not sure you can see from the picture, but my sandwich had crushed up BBQ chips on it. Loved. It.

Remember when I checked out our chocolate shop progress? Well it turned out quite nicely!

After enjoying our sandwiches, we just couldn't pass up all the delectable sweets offered at the other counters and both got a cupcake from Billy's Bakery to be enjoyed back in the office later. Oh, and who knew flavored marshmallows were a thing? We both got a sample of a Passionfruit square from Three Tarts NYC and it was heavenly.

Women in Architecture breakfast discussion at the Center for Architecture

Friday post-work, pre-mani pedi drink at Qi

The Weather Channel is dead to me. We had planned on going to the Belmont Stakes this past weekend (even thought my beloved I'll Have Another scratched out) but wimped out because the forecast called for rain. Instead, it was a gorgeous afternoon and I was kicking myself all day for not going. Next year!

Instead of having a blast at the horse race, we had a cookout at Kurt's and played Monopoly. I can honestly say I had never played it before and now I remember why. It's awful and boring and takes forever. 

I cleaned out my closet! It's been needed for a very long time. Somehow I was able to purge an enormous pile of stuff and my closet is still full. How is that possible?! Now the question is what to do with all the cut items. I plan on taking a lot to Goodwill but would like to sell a few pieces. Anyone up for a group stoop sale?

I had purchased a coupon to Fonda in Park Slope a while back and Kurt and I got around to using it this weekend. Despite suggestions from our waiter, we shared a few small plates and some beers. I was heartbroken that they were out of the Avocado Cheesecake for dessert, but the Tres Leches cake was a suitable substitute. I have a feeling we missed out on the margaritas and guacamole because every table around us was having that exact combination. It's a little on the pricey side for Mexican food, but I guess we will have to go back and try!

Phew! I'll try to check back in more often. Have a great week!
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