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.

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A self-guided tour of Lower Manhattan’s ice cream shops

During the dog days of summer in NYC, it feels like there’s a new ice cream shop opening every weekend, and they all have a gimmick: They roll their ice cream, they shave their ice cream, they serve their ice cream with marshmallows or gold flakes or potato chips. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and you can let that feeling drive you to the bodega for a classic pint of Ben & Jerry’s – or you can dive right into the world of New York’s boutique ice cream shops.

When Emmie and I realized our list of places to try was growing exponentially, we decided that the only way to make a dent was to visit more than one at a time. So on Sunday, we put on our loosest clothing, feasted on carbs in preparation (it soaks up the dairy, probably) and ventured out in the rain to five of the trendiest, most Instagram-able ice cream spots in Lower Manhattan. Here’s what we discovered.

Magnum bar at Magnum Store in Soho, New York City

Magnum NYC Store

In this beautiful space – it’s seriously so bright and classy – you can customize your own Magnum bar. For only $7, you get a chocolate or vanilla bar dipped in chocolate (dark, milk or white), sprinkled with three toppings and drizzled with more chocolate. And then you can blast it on social media using the decorated light boxes that are everywhere you turn. The Magnum Store knows what the people want.

I opted for a vanilla ice cream bar dipped in milk chocolate, covered in mint chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and gold flakes, and drizzled with white chocolate. In case you were wondering.

Strawberry balsamic ice cream at Morgenstern's, New York City

Morgenstern’s

Our next stop was perhaps our most traditional of the day. Rather than crazy concoctions and presentation, Morgenstern’s is known for their adventurous flavors. I had the strawberry balsamic (strawberry is my favorite flavor, but I knew I had to branch out a bit here) and Emmie had green tea pistachio – both of which we highly recommend!

Mango ice cream at 10Below, Lower East Side, New York CityMango ice cream at 10Below, Lower East Side, New York City

10Below (Lower East Side location)

If you’ve been on Instagram in the past few months, you know 10Below. Here, cream and toppings are transformed into ice cream before your very eyes, and then rolled and placed into cups, just waiting to be Instagrammed. It was fascinating to watch the employee beat nothing but cream, mango chunks and strawberries into what became a creamy and delicious treat. I can speak highly of the mango flavor, and Emmie loved the Oreos variety, although another friend mentioned she wasn’t a fan of the Oreos when she visited. This place is a MUST if novelty is at all important to you when picking an ice cream spot.

Shaved cream at Snowdays, East Village, New York City

Snowdays (East Village location)

Snowdays specializes in “shaved cream,” which as far as I can tell, is ice cream with the texture of shaved ice. The portions here are HUGE, so Emmie and I decided to split a regular (small isn’t an option!) We opted for NY cheesecake flavor with rainbow sprinkles and blueberries (because it seemed like a good time to start caring about our health). The shaved cream was delicious, but the absolute highlight for both of us was the spoons: They change color when they’re cold!

Soft serve and friends at Chloe's, Union Square, New York City

Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.

I admit, this was a nostalgic choice for us rather than an adventurous one: Emmie and I met here in July 2014! This whole day was a celebration of our friendship and the shared love of frozen treats that brought us together. Chloe’s is one of my absolute favorite places, bias aside: It’s delicious AND healthy! I ended our adventure with strawberry soft serve – no toppings, because my stomach was DONE – and Emmie had mango with kiwis. Wonderful, as always.

Some notes:

  • This ended up being an excellent order to go in: Not only is it a relatively sensible walk (straight east, then straight north), but the ice cream really goes from heavy and extravagant to simple and light.
  • Sunday started out as a rainy day, so we got lucky and didn’t have to fight crowds. Some of these places – particularly Magnum and 10Below – are notorious for lines that wind around their blocks. We didn’t wait more than five minutes anywhere.
  • Eating ice cream all day makes one crave salt. We ended up at Friterie in the East Village shoving fries into our mouths, in between 10Below and Snowdays. Don’t judge.
  • We really, truly loved all of these spots! For more dessert and NYC recommendations, check out my delightful guide to New York City.

What’s your favorite ice cream spot in New York City?

Currently: June 2016

Breakneck Ridge, New York

Reading: I just started Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey for this new season of community groups!

Wearing: I’m in shorts and an old t-shirt from when my high school won the football state championships in 2012. It’s Sunday morning and I haven’t quite got my day started yet!

Buying: I finally picked out prescription sunglasses from Warby Parker, and they should be in the mail this week! That was my only major purchase in May. Looking forward, I’ll be booking flights to Texas this month for August, and I have my eyes on a pair of white Ked-style sneakers for summer.

Listening to: Nothing at the moment! Just the hum of my fan. (Didn’t even have to change that answer from May!)

Eating: I haven’t eaten yet today but I’m planning on chicken teriyaki with rice for lunch, followed by an afternoon of grazing on junk food at church.

Watching: Last night I rented Brooklyn from Amazon, after plowing through the book earlier in the week. I liked it! I was skeptical when it felt like it was 75% of the way through the book plot in the first half hour, but it all came together and it was definitely fun to see the words come to life.

Planning: Not much big stuff – little summer adventures here and there, and a potential weekend trip to DC (my DC friends were going to come here, but they just got a puppy!)

Excited for: All of the summer adventures! A big group is heading to the Yankee game tomorrow, and in general I’m excited for rooftop bars and picnics  and loooooong days.

Hoping: A lot of my hopes lately have come true (!) and I’m finding it hard to think of ways for life to be any better!

Books read: 21/52- ON TRACK

Trips taken: 6/12 – Thanks to a little getaway this month for reminding me of the spirit of this challenge, which is having adventures even if I only have a day to spare!

How last month’s challenge went: Horrifically bad.

This month’s challenge: One hour of screen-free time every day. So far so good!

And how is YOUR June going?

Hiking Breakneck Ridge: A video

Yeah, you read that right. I went hiking. On a mountain called BREAKNECK Ridge. My neck is not broken, for the record. I could have broken my friend’s neck, though, when I discovered that this “hike” I had been lured on was in fact more of a vertical rock climb. The phrase “blood, sweat and tears” has never been more real.

Breakneck Ridge from Leigh Anne Zinsmeister on Vimeo.

But you know what? I’m ridiculously proud of myself. I didn’t turn around and get on the next train back to the city. I didn’t give up and require a rescue team (apparently a common occurrence at Breakneck). I powered through, I wasn’t afraid to have my friends literally pull me up at some parts, and by the end of the day I had climbed a damn mountain. I had a very delightful day, and though there are photos and details to share later on, I just want to share that and bask in it for now.

So, enjoy!

Catching up via Instagram: 4/17/16

Subtitle: Let us rejoice, for it is finally SPRING!

Spring in New York CitySpring in Brooklyn, New YorkNew York City on a sunny daySpring in New York CityDowntown ManhattanBrooklyn BridgeCity of Dreams mural, New York CitySpring in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New YorkWashington Square Park, New York, on a rainy dayProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetGrand Army Plaza, Brooklyn

Not much necessary in the way of captions for these. I’ve been in New York City for the past three weeks, having made the conscious decision to stay put in April and cherish my favorite month. We’ve had very classically spring weather: Sometimes it’s 70 and sunny, sometimes it’s 40 and rainy. I’m just very, very glad we haven’t had any April snow this year. The city is alive and gorgeous and I am loving every minute!

At the Transit Museum, Brooklyn, New YorkCheering on Syracuse at Houston Hall, New York City

Staying in town on the weekends this month has meant some New York weekend adventures I’ve been putting off: Emmie and I visited the Transit Museum (something we’ve been wanting to do for months) and then watched her alma mater, Syracuse, play in the Final Four!

Sleep No More

This week I joined my friend Amanda at Sleep No More. It’s a totally immersive, interactive theatre experience where the audience dons masks and moves through the (enormous) set at their own pace as the action takes place around them. I had the BEST time and am already itching to go back to see more of the set and piece together more of the story!

Avocado toast

I got fancy with my breakfasts last week when I had mornings off. Nothing special here, but I was proud regardless!

Reading My Paris Dream by Kate Betts

The best part about the above photo? The book’s author, Katherine Betts, re-posted it to her own Instagram and Twitter accounts! You’ll read about it in my April roundup, but I highly recommend My Paris Dream.

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