Labor Day at The Brampton: On Video

A week and a half ago, I packed my bags again (although they were mostly still packed from my recent trip to Texas) and headed upstate to a luxury cabin called the Brampton with a group of my closest friends. It was largely the same group that took over the Bahamas last winter, so we knew we’d travel well together. To be honest, it wasn’t my ideal sort of trip – lots of time in the woods, hiking, adventure sports – but the quality time with friends is always, always worth it.

Here’s a video of our adventure, featuring a bonfire, a swimming hole, and my newest love – a speedboat. Enjoy!

Labor Day at The Brampton from Leigh Anne Zinsmeister on Vimeo.

A trip to Texas Hill Country

Although I already reached my goal of taking 12 trips in 2016, I just can’t seem to stop travelling! Two weeks ago I packed my bags again and hopped on a plane (weirdly my first flight since March!) and flew out to visit my sister in the hill country of Texas.

Although I lived in Texas for six years and have visited frequently since leaving in 2008, I had only been to the small city of San Marcos once before, for a wedding many years ago. I was so excited to explore with a local and see what this place has to offer.

Brunch at The Root Cellar, San Marcos, Texas

Our first order of business, naturally, was brunch. Ally and her best friend Angelica took me to their favorite spot, where I scarfed down as much French toast as I could handle and then marveled at the $13 check. Definitely not in New York anymore!

Texas State University

A tour of Texas State University was necessary, and I have to say it was really fun being back on a college campus! Especially because classes just started THIS week, so there were very few people around as we explored, and the clearance section of the bookstore hadn’t been raided.

San Marcos, Texas

Seriously, San Marcos is just the cutest place – we kept coming back to the square for more food, coffee, shopping and ice cream.

Donuts from Shipley

As usual, this trip was all about the food for me. I demanded trips to Torchy’s for tacos and Shipley for donuts, much to the amusement of my sister and her friends, who eat these delicious treats on a regular basis.

San Marcos River

As you  may have noticed, it was overcast and rainy for my entire trip. A real bummer, since San Marcos is very much an outdoor town! I wanted to go tubing in the river but the weather never cooperated, so I settled for a walking tour on my last evening in town. I seriously felt like I was in a country song!

Greetings from San Marcos, Texas

San Marcos, you’ve won me over. Until next time!

P.S. You can read A’s take on my home on her blog today!

Books I read in June and July

Whoops! This post is coming to you late, mostly because I’m ashamed at how little I’ve been reading! There’s a weird combination of settling into a new work routine (although it’s been two months, so I probably can’t use that excuse much longer), and having the hardest time getting into anything. I’m not sure I’ll be able to hit my goal of 52 books this year, but who knows! All the more reason to be glad I hit my travel goal, to be honest. The reading has picked up a bit lately, but for now, here are the books I finished earlier this summer…

The Nightingale and Warby Parker sunglasses

The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

This is literally the only book I read in June. To the surprise of nobody, it’s World War II historical fiction set in France – aka my favorite very specific genre (I read All the Light We Cannot See while lying on a beach in the Bahamas in March). I was thrilled that The Nightingale focused on the women “left behind” while their husbands were at war, and shed light on everything women did for their families and their countries. I highly recommend it. Four stars

Eleanor & ParkRainbow Rowell

My best friend suggested I read some Rainbow Rowell when I said I was struggling to find anything, and I remembered reading and loving Attachments several years ago, so I got Eleanor & Park on audiobook and listened to it. It’s young adult, sure, but a great, realistic story. And it was SUCH a nice change to read a book with an ambiguous ending – and no promise of a sequel. Sometimes things should be left up to the imagination! But if that would bother you – this isn’t your book. Three stars

Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer

After so many novels in a row I went on a non-fiction kick, specifically non-fiction written by journalists. There’s a bit of controversy over how accurately Under the Banner of Heaven portrays modern-day Mormons, but I found at least the historical pieces to be extremely educational. This book is part history, part crime thriller, and 100% journalistic. Three stars

The End of the Perfect 10, Dvora Meyers

This book came out in the lead-up to the Olympics and I bought it right away. I’m a huge gymnastics fan (and not just every four years!) so it was fascinating to get an in-depth look at how scoring and the sport have changed over time. Even though I already knew the basics of the changes, I loved reading exclusive interviews and getting different perspectives. Highly recommend if you’re a sports fan in general, and if you loved watching Team USA dominate in Rio! Four stars, due to an overabundance of unnecessary pop-culture references

So, that’s where I’m at! Including August so far, I’ve read 27 books this year (52% of my way to 52!) I’m clearly in desperate need of suggestions, so fire away in the comments, and follow me on Goodreads here.

#take12trips: Complete!

Back in January, I set the audacious goal of taking 12 trips in 2016 (an idea I borrowed from Clare over at Need Another Holiday). It felt absurd for a number of reasons, including the fact that I have a full-time job with limited vacation time, and the memory of only leaving New York City four times in all of 2015. But I set the goal anyway. The guidelines I set for myself were pretty simple – if I left New York’s five boroughs, it counted – and that certainly made it easier to accomplish. As of the end of last month, I’ve taken 12 trips – and there are more to come! Here’s a look back…

The Washington Monument on a foggy day, Washington DC
1. Washington, D.C.

I started the year by jumping on a bus to visit my friend Courtney in her new home, and we had a great weekend hanging out, eating and sightseeing – despite the rainy weather and the fact that we both had horrible colds.

Sunset in Allen, Texas
2. Dallas

Trip number 2 came somewhat unexpectedly when I found dirt-cheap flights to Dallas on my mom’s birthday weekend. It was my first trip to see them in about a year and a half, so we had a great time shopping, visiting museums and just hanging out!

Marina Green, San Francisco
3. San Francisco

My best friend and I decided to meet up in her favorite city for once – bonus that I had never been and had always wanted to go. It definitely lived up to the hype!

Sunrise on the beach in Nassau, Bahamas

4. The Bahamas

Another spontaneous long weekend away because of a cheap flight, this one motivated by the miserable New York winter.

View of downtown Phoenix, Arizona
5. Phoenix

I re-ignited an age-old tradition this year by spending a week in Arizona for MLB spring training! Bonus that I have a ton of friends and family there, and my parents joined me as well.

Breakneck Ridge, New York
6. Breakneck Ridge

My friends somehow tricked me into climbing a mountain upstate, but I was well rewarded with ALL THE FOOD in Cold Spring after.

View from One Liberty Observatory Deck, Philadelphia
7. Philadelphia

I didn’t love Philadelphia, true, but I was thrilled to take advantage of a transitional period and squeeze in an adventure!

Long Beach, New York
8, 11. Long Beach

I have, as you know, become quite the professional beach bum this summer. It’s just too easy to take advantage of!

Mural in Jersey City
 9, 12. Jersey City

I haven’t written about Jersey City at all, because I’ve just been hanging out at my friend Ashley’s apartment, but hey – the walk through Little India is cultural and the street art is on point.

Jones Beach
10. Jones Beach

Not my favorite beach, if only because it’s so hard to get to, but hey – can’t beat a day trip.

I’m excited to see just how many trips I can cram into 12 months – I’m off to Texas again on Wednesday, and I’m thinking at least one more beach trip before summer ends. But as I’ve learned – some of the best vacations are spontaneous!

Currently: August 2016


San Francisco-style building on the Lower East Side, New York City

I love this building on the Lower East Side – it reminds me of San Francisco!

It’s August! I’m actually really excited for this month – some people I love are celebrating birthdays, the summer excitement is still in the air but the promise of cooler weather is looming, and I have some exciting travels coming up – more exciting than New Jersey and Long Island, I promise. Here’s what I’ve been up to for the last 30 days!

Reading: I finished Americanah this morning, and I loved it, but was super disappointed in the ending. I have a couple “easy” reads lined up next.

Wearing: It’s been too hot and humid lately to wear anything but shorts (or skirts, to the office) and cotton tops.

Buying: Just ice cream, mostly. (See: Way too hot outside. I’ve definitely become a hardened New Yorker!)

Listening to: I recently discovered the Best of Friends podcast and have been listening to old episodes on my commutes, especially when election coverage sends me running from NPR (I love NPR and their coverage, but sometimes you just need some humor in your day!)

Eating: Lots and lots of salads and fruit. I was REALLY proud of this fruit tray I put together for the opening ceremonies!

Watching: Mostly re-watching old shows for the summer (FriendsGrey’s Anatomy, Parks and Rec), and getting SO excited for the Gilmore Girls revival in November!

Planning: My sister is doing most of the planning for this, but I’m going to visit her in Texas NEXT week! And then I’m heading upstate for Labor Day – but again, letting my friends do the planning. I think I wore myself out planning trips earlier in the year!

Excited for: TONS of travel, my best friend’s birthday this week, seeing my sister for the first time in over a year, picnics, my best friend from college visiting in October, etc etc etc

Books read: 25/52

Trips taken: 12/12 – That’s right, I’M FINISHED! But not really. I can’t wait to see how high this number gets before January!

And how is YOUR August going?

World Trade Center, New York City, at sunset