adventure awaits

personal, Travel

In November I came across an advertisement for a floral scratch-off map of the United States from Etsy with the title across it “Adventure Awaits.”

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This isn’t my map, trust.

It’s pretty self-explanatory.  It starts out completely gray, then you scratch away states as you’ve visited them.  It got me thinking about how many places I’ve been to in the country I live in – which, admittedly, isn’t as many as I would like – but I would love to see more states bloom from the gray this coming year.  So, I ordered one for myself to frame on my wall – where it will become ceremonious to scratch away once I’ve returned.

This is, by all means, not a New Year’s Resolution.  I’ve placed zero expectations on what this year has to come, and I plan on keeping it that way: moment to moment (see The Year of the Moment).  But I do have many travel plans this year – most of which to states I’ve never been to – so this will be a beautiful representation of where I’ve been.

Stay tuned, y’all.

cold spring – I mean -autumn

lifestyle, personal, Travel

When your day off falls on (what feels like) the first day of Autumn in New York, you take to the road with your best friend, throw on a well-crafted playlist, and drive along the Hudson River towards a new destination. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, all you need’s a light jacket! (Name that movie).

We were both in desperate need of some small town air, mood music, and good adventuring together; all of which were successfully executed and can be watched below:


the güd eats & dranks

We brunched at Hudson Hil’s Market & Cafe on Main Street where I had one of the best breakfast burritos ever crafted. G sipped on their Hot Apple Cider Buttered Rum — which can only be described as Autumn in a Cup (I drank most of it and was not sorry). We sat on the porch, looking out across the small streets of Cold Spring and drooling over the well-behaved cockapoo sitting under the table across from us; silently devising a plan to fit him in my backpack and take him home.

I caved and got a PSL at this little coffee shop called CupOccino Cafe (I’ve been holding out for The Chipped Cup’s PSL, but I think they’re hesitant to give into the seasonal drinks). Maybe I said decaf, maybe I didn’t, but either way, this latte kept me up until 4 A.M., so here we are. It was worth it.

Not an eatery BUT we did step into Cold Spring’s new bookstore Split Rock Books — whose narrow walls were filled to the brim with books I’ve been dying to read. I walked out with The Artist’s Way; which I could have easily purchased for a few bucks less on Amazon.com, but I believe in contributing more to local businesses, especially bookstores in this digital age, up and running.

If you’ve never been to The Cheesecake Factory, you need to do some self-reflection because you’re severely missing out. I opened this particular CCF in 2011 and worked there all the way up to the day before I moved to New York. We met my sweet mama there for Happy Hour and indulged in the seasonal Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake, which, even after sharing three ways, was enough to roll me back to New York.

Our final stop was to my favorite bar in Connecticut – Rosy Tomorrows. Tucked away off of Exit 2 on Interstate84 (right near a Trader Joe’s – score) stands a haven of many, many Tara Llewellyn memories. I grew up at Rosy Tomorrows. I had my first legal (and illegal, oops) drink at Rosys. I have shared many laughs and developed many friendships around the fire pit on the back patio. To continue making memories there with people who matter to me – whether they’ve been with me countless times or for the very first time – makes it all the more special.


the roadtrip tunes

Last week, I asked some close pals to share with me some music that reminded them of Autumn. I’d venture to say that as the seasons change, so does our taste in music. Most specifically, there are many songs that invite that feeling of Fall for me filled with nostalgia from seasons’ past.

Here are the ones that accompanied us on Monday’s trip:

Roll Away Your Stone

by Mumford & Sons from Sigh No More

I could go on for days about Mumford & Sons.  Their albums are the soundtrack to my Autumn season (except for Wilder Mind — didn’t dig that so much.  I have hope for Delta, but Babel and Sigh No More will always have my heart).  You can read more about my feelings and faves here.

The Ballad of Love & Hate/February Seven

by The Avett Brothers from The Carpenter

My sweet pal Lilian Sun told me to listen to The Ballad of Love & Hate by The Avett Brothers, and I just continued to fall for their music.  February Seven was my pick.  Here’s what Lil had to say about “The Ballad of Love & Hate” —

There’s something so satisfying about listening to it because it’s so serene and comfortable.  It feels like I’m coming home, which is how I feel about Fall as well.  Despite it having heavier subject matter, love wins in the end and everything is right in the world.

City

by Sara Bareilles from Little Voice

Sara B is just simply the greatest.  She will forever be on my playlists year-round.  Her song City feels like a narration of my nights in New York.  I listened to this song on repeat when I first started feeling comfortable here; about eight months into my chapter here in the fall of 2014.

The A Team

by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran — another staple.  His earlier album + brings me a lot of peace, which is something we all identify with so heavily with the fall season.

Somebody More Like You

by Nickel Creek from Why Should The Fire Die?

This was a G pick from his favorite album.  He told me on the car ride home that when he was in the fifth grade, he heard this album playing in a bookstore and marched right up to the cashier to ask who they were.

The lyrics “you said you’d love me always, truly; I must have changed” have such a sense of loss and a sense of gaining a new perspective and understanding.  The same goes for the feeling of summer into fall.  The loss of one season, and the gaining of something new.  Ever changing weather, ever changing humans.

Heavy

by Birdtalker from One

My best friend Danielle gave me this song to add to my Fall Playlist.  It is my new obsession.  I have been listening to it on repeat, and you should too.

It speaks a lot to change and the process of letting things go, which has always been synonymous with fall for me.  It makes you feel like you’re being hugged by a good friend.

There are so many more songs to come as we continue through this new season — stay tuned.

providence in pictures

Travel

I spent about 30 hours in Providence, Rhode Island this weekend visiting one of my best pals who moved out there six months ago.  Life without her in New York has been a strange adjustment, but seeing pieces of her world was really special (even if it was raining almost the entire time…).

B   A   Y   B   E   R   R   Y

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We started with Saturday brunch at Bayberry Beer Hall, which was kind of a fluke and a little bit perfect.  Bayberry is fairly new but well-populated.   It’s cafeteria-style seating but we sat at the bar and split a decedent cinnamon roll then ate a farmer’s breakfast and seasonal frittata and sipped on an amazingly-crafted sangria.

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B   O   L   T     C   O   F   F   E   E     C   O.

If you know me, I’m a sucker for a mean latte (the nice ones are too sub-par for me).  I also have a new-found obsession with Oatly Oat Milk — it’s very hard for me to have any other milk since trying it.  Their website rocks and they have this nifty feature where you can find out what cafes in your area serve their milk.  So naturally, we went to the nearest one after brunch.

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I was really impatient and kept trying to guess what sentence these very large wall words spelled out, but all of my guesses were incorrect.  It reads, “For a long time, I went to bed early.”  (I always aim to go to bed early, but instead I go to these cafes and get lots of lattes with Oatly Oat Milk, so here we are).  We didn’t stick around, but the inside was super quaint and had a giant pink neon sign reading:

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P   L   E   A   S   A   N   T      S   U   R   P   R   I   S   E

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Let me introduce you to the shirt I will be sleeping in for the next month.  Pleasant Surprise Providence truly lives up to the name.  It’s an amazing novelty shop equipped with hilarious books, trinkets, and clothing with “Providence” written on it in real big letters for the people in the back.  Must-go, must-see, must-visit Pleasant Surprise.

B   R   O   W   N     U.

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The Brown University campus is stunning.  Even in dreary weather, I was captivated by the beautifully-aged architecture and that in the midst of this adorable city, exists a college campus you could pluck straight from a suburban town.

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The bookstore was a very compact version of Barnes & Noble (duh) supplied with real cozy Brown U. garb (I’m still waiting for a tee that reads, “Brown is the new Black,” but whatever).  We stepped in only to use the restroom and I still saw at least five books I want to read over the next month.

My favorite sight on our trip to Brown were these aluminum men who were holding hands and dancing in a circle.  Someone was super responsible and put a beanie on one of them because, let’s face it, it’s February.

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P   A   S   T   I   C   H   E

Danielle and I probably sat at Pastiche Fine Desserts Cafe for at least two hours.  I sipped on English Breakfast tea and we had lengthy girl talk over a Chocolate Cheesecake Brownie and Dutch Apple Pie (literally the taste of fall disguised in a dessert).  We discovered what crème anglaise is (it is so delicious) and I probably then-and-there gained four pounds.

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D   U   C   K     &     B   U   N   N   Y

I absolutely did not take the photo below because it was pouring my second morning there, but The Duck and Bunny’s forty-five minute wait was extremely worth it (Even if we did have to spend the first twenty minutes of that wait sitting next to nine insufferable Brown U. freshmen girls, we survived).

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We shared two pancakes stuffed with chocolate and bananas, and each got a Crêperito; a breakfast burrito wrapped in a crêpe rather than a tortilla stuffed with egg, cheese, brown rice, onions, spinach and topped with salsa, guac, and sour cream [insert several heart-eyes emoji here].  I also had their Strawberry Basil Mojito and HELLO it was perfect.

T   H   E      S   H   O   P

Up the street from The Duck and Bunny lives this little coffee spot called The Shop.

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Obviously, the very first thing I spotted was a carton of Oatly sitting next to the rest of the milks and I was in literal heaven.  This coffee shop was the only spot (get it, The Spot? I crack myself up) besides Bolt Coffee Co. in Providence that serves Oatly Oat Milk and we inadvertently stumbled upon it.  The sugar was labeled, “YES I AM SUGAR,” so needless to say, I would recommend this place just purely for how direct they are.  Danielle and I sat ourselves in that little nook on the left for a bit to avoid braving the rain.

Despite the weather, my trip to Providence was very brief but filled to the brim with wonderful conversation, exploration, and real good food.  I cannot wait to go back once the weather is warmer and see what else the city has to offer.

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skyline

Travel

I am thousands of feet above the earth – floating over Manhattan as I watch the skyline get smaller and smaller. It’s interesting to think I used to cross over bridges, glance to my right, see this skyline, and marvel at its beauty as we passed by. All for a moment and then it was gone.

Rarely do we as New Yorkers get to see the skyline; for we exist in its corners and crevices. The small speck of light you see in a building is someone dancing around their apartment to their favorite artist with all their lights on. The dim one next door is a mother trying to take some time to herself after putting the kids to bed. And the little pockets of darkness are the ones who are wandering the wild city; lest we forget this is the city that never really sleeps.

This skyline is a story within a story within a story – and that is what makes it so divine.

The Year of Travel

lifestyle, Travel

Each year on January 1st, we list off a myriad of resolutions and positive promises to ourselves that will hopefully manifest change in our lives. And whether they stick or they don’t, twelve months later, we reset and do it all over again.

I rang in 2017 with a dear friend of mine, Hailei Call, who begins each year by proclaiming what she hopes it will be with one title: “The Year of…”  It’s much broader than a checklist of endeavors we set out to accomplish or the number of times we vow to visit the gym in a week.  The concept of naming your upcoming year simply promotes what you hope will manifest itself the most, not necessarily how you’ll get there.

At the start of this calendar year, I predicted this would be The Year of Travel.  The travel didn’t need to be anywhere exotic or distant, I just wanted to explore places outside of Manhattan; even if they were in states I’d been to over and over again.  I spent a solid part of this year in a long-distance relationship that had me on many midnight trains to, from, and through my home state of Connecticut.  I also spent most of this year helping my best friend plan her wedding, which, in turn, brought about planning-travel, shower-travel, bachelorette-travel, and wedding-travel to various places.  I was brought to Long Island for family holidays, baby showers, and alike.  And I’m rounding out the year on my first regional contract at White Plains Performing Arts Center where I’ll travel for rehearsals and performances.

This year, for many reasons, was my year of travel without even trying.  I’ve been lucky enough to share those adventures surrounded by lovely people in lovely places.  Here are some of my favorites to share with you.

O   R    L   A   N   D   O ,    F   L 

One of my closest pals plays Nemo in Finding Nemo: The Musical at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  I started my Year of Travel on the second week of January flying down to see her for a couple days.  Despite the fact that I had been there before, being in Disney World as an adult was still just as fun as it was twelve years ago (except for the fact that Epcot wasn’t nearly as exciting when I was thirteen and couldn’t drink around the world).  I’m looking forward to kicking off 2018 the same way!

B  O  S  T  O  N ,   M  A  S  S .

Three friends and I took an amazing weekend trip to Boston together in April.  I fell madly in love (see BeanTown) and know in my soul that something will take me there someday to live for a moment or two.  I was lucky enough hit Boston twice this year and go to my first Red Sox Game at Fenway in June.

S  A  R  A  T  O  G  A    S  P  R  I  N  G  S ,   N  Y

I’ve been visiting Saratoga Springs almost every summer since I was born.  I’ve missed a couple years here and there since moving to NYC, but it’s a place that lives in a very special corner of my heart, and I was lucky to escape there for a couple days over the summer.  My mother has been going every year for the last 40 years. FORTY YEARS. It’s such a sweet and special town. Stewart’s Ice Cream: No words. It is the best.

P  O  R  T  S  M  O  U  T  H ,   N  H

Along the way to an overnight getaway in Ogunquit, Maine, we stopped in the sweet little town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Honestly, we wanted to stay and nix the next half hour of driving! It was so beautiful — a quainter version of Boston. Our visit was short but so worth the pit stop. Portsmouth Brewery is a must-go!

O  G  U  N  Q  U  I  T  ,  M  A  I  N  E

Ogunquit was a great end-of-Summer escape.  It was such a wonderful little town, filled with cute shops and gorgeous views.  I tried lobster for the first time and we spontaneously went kayaking.  It was totally worth the drive!

W  I  L  D  W  O  O  D  ,   N  J

My bride-to-be’s bachelorette party was in Wildwood, New Jersey.  It was a perfectly inexpensive weekend getaway.  We landed an amazing Air BNB, located near a ton of restaurants on the water, and only a short walk to the boardwalk.  We rode the go-karts, Escaped The Room, and made breakfast each morning equipped with Costco bagels and lots n’ lots of mimosas.

N  E  W     W  I  N  D  S  O  R  ,   N  Y

I can’t say New Windsor, New York is the most exciting destination ever; but it’s special for the simple fact that I got to watch my best friend get married there.  It was about an hour west of where we grew up together in Connecticut, so it was definitely familiar, but still a new adventure.  The venue (Anthony’s Pier 9) was beautiful, and the rehearsal dinner was held at Newburgh Brewing Company; which is so charming and has a stunning view of the river, especially in the Autumn!

P  R  O  V  I  D  E  N  C  E  ,   R  I

Though it was only a glimpse, I took a spontaneous road trip to visit my best gal who recently relocated to Providence, Rhode Island to get her MFA at Brown (she is a rock star).  The journey was short but sweet — we got brunch at The Grange Providence, an adorable little restaurant down the street from her apartment that serves brunch all day.  Yes, all day, every day.  While we didn’t explore much, the road trip itself was a new adventure, and it was undoubtedly the first of many more visits to come!