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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Catching up via Instagram: 7/17/2016

In between getting settled at a new job and taking a slew of day trips (to Philadelphia of course, and to the beach pretty much every weekend), I’ve also been having a lot of fun hanging around New York City! There are always a million options for things to do in the summer, and I’m trying to take advantage of as many of them as possible. Here’s a little glimpse at the start of the season…

Fourth of July at Rockaway Beach

For the Fourth of July, I booked it out to Rockaway Beach for the day with a big group of friends and an even bigger American flag to stage photos with. It was the very first holiday since I left the 24-hour news industry, and I loved being able to celebrate without half a mind on work.

Cookie from Momofuku Milk Bar, New York City

My friend Sara came to visit from Chicago, and somehow our casual lunch turned into a food tour of the East Village. This cookie is from Milk Bar, and we also ate at S’mac. Other NYC suggestions here! 

Freedom Tower at nightSunset from the Upper East Side, ManhattanMidtown ManhattanFreedom TowerWashington Square Park archRainy sunset in Crown Heights, BrooklynGrace Church, New York CityUnion Square, New York CitySunset over lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge

Sorry not sorry that I’ve been here over two years and I still stop to photograph pretty buildings and sunsets.

Cocktails at Please Don't Tell, New York City

When my friend Chelsea wanted to spontaneously drop into the speakeasy Please Don’t Tell, I balked – it has a reputation for being impossible to get into. But to my surprise, we didn’t wait long on a Friday evening and enjoyed some delicious cocktails!

New York Philharmonic at Central ParkSummer sunset at Central Park

One of my favorite summer adventures so far was going to see the New York Philharmonic play in Central Park. They do a summer park series every year and it was great to picnic with friends, watch the sunset, hear the music and even see fireworks after.

 

25 delightful things I did while I was 25

Today, friends, is my twenty-sixth birthday. And for some reason, that fact has me completely freaked out. Twenty-six just feels so much older than twenty-five. I don’t know why. It makes no sense. But instead of dwelling on this, I decided to compile a list of delightful things I accomplished whilst 25 – big and small – and to think about all of the delightful things ahead! Here are some things that have happened in the life of Leigh Anne over the past 366 days…

Brunch at Egg, Williamsburg

Brunching on my 25th birthday

  1. I launched my delightful city guides, a huge project that I put – and continue to put – a lot of heart and soul into
  2. I took my first completely solo trip to Boston, and loved every minute
  3. I visited three new countries (South Africa, Swaziland, the Bahamas) and a new continent (Africa!)
  4. I read 44 books (thanks for the stats, goodreads!)
  5. I had my photos featured by Strand Bookstore, The New York Post, and more cool brands
  6. I drove a car for the first time in two years (this was less than delightful itself, but the ease of getting around was amazing!)
  7. I explored more of my own neighborhood, Crown Heights – after a year of not venturing much beyond my block, I now have a favorite independent coffee shop, burger joint and cocktail bar
  8. I went to and volunteered at the first-ever She is Free gathering
  9. I saw three Broadway shows (Mamma Mia!, An American in Paris, and The Lion King)
  10. I went to Sleep No More, which is officially my favorite thing I’ve done in New York
  11. I discovered a bus that’ll take me from Trader Joe’s to my apartment (you’ll only understand how delightful this one is if you’ve lugged groceries around NYC)
  12. I spent a week watching MLB spring training in Arizona
  13. I was asked to be a bridesmaid for the first time
  14. I went to the top of the World Trade Center (twice!) and Top of the Rock
  15. I spent a weekend helping designer Jennifer Adams with events in Manhattan, which lead to a regular (paid!) freelancing gig for her blog
  16. I met my brother’s cat and my best friend’s second pug
  17. I upgraded to the iPhone 6S and it completely changed my photography game
  18. I went behind the scenes at the New York Public Library
  19. I started running my church’s Twitter account
  20. I spent an entire day inside during a crazy blizzard
  21. I surprised my mom on HER birthday
  22. I launched my mission to Make Mondays Magical
  23. I went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  24. I saw a ton of Christmas trees in the city
  25. I started sponsoring a little girl in Swaziland and got to go visit her

… and I could go on and on! Truly, I know that 26 is going to be just as delightful as 25 – and I’m excited to face it, head on. Here’s to another year of adventure!

 

2015 in review

2015 is drawing to a close, and it has been quite a year. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how fast it went, or that I can’t believe it’s over, because you already know and everyone says the same thing. I said a year ago that 2015 was going to be a year of commitment and stability, and I was right: I’m writing to you now from the same Brooklyn apartment, where I live with the same roommate (plus one!) after a long day at the same job. It was a good year, don’t get me wrong – but I’m looking forward to some excitement in 2016. Before that, though, here’s a glimpse of the past 12 months in this delightful life of mine.

 

Winter Storm Juno 2015 in Manhattan

January & February

I’m clumping these two together because they were frankly the same: Work, schlep home in the snow, repeat. Before winter began I joked about hibernating from first snow to my mid-April birthday, and it ended up being a little more real than I anticipated. My friend Nicole did visit in February, and we ate our way around Manhattan for two days, which was a nice way to break up the monotony of the coldest New York February in nearly a century!

Also: I lead my first community group at Liberty Church, spent a day on the Upper West Side, prepared for a blizzard that never came, and went 21 days without social media.

The suburbs of Cleveland

March

In March I finally snapped out of my Brooklyn routine and flew to Cleveland for a girls weekend with my family! It was just the spark I needed to snap out of my winter funk: I reunited with my mom, sister, aunt and cousin – and remembered just how cool my birthplace can be.

Also: I celebrated one year in New York City with the best friends I could ever ask for.

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

April

With April came the spring we had all been waiting for. I spent the month cherishing the opportunity to be outside, venturing to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to soak up the sun and admire the cherry blossoms. April also brought my twenty-fifth birthday and all of the reflection that comes with such a milestone.

Also: The first-ever She Is Free conference, and Becca and I welcomed our third roommate, Faby!

One World Trade Center on a foggy day

May

May was supposed to bring a vacation, but I couldn’t get my act together in time and ended up with a New York staycation, one of my favorite things! Unfortunately, I got hit with a pretty bad head cold in the middle of it, and May got boring, but at least I wasn’t out of town when I got sick – and didn’t have to use sick days at work. Before I became bed-bound, I did see Mamma Mia!, visit One World Observatory for the first time, and pop by the Whitney – one of my favorite museums.

Also: I picnicked at Prospect Park for Memorial Day, and welcomed a slew of friends to my neighborhood as Crown Heights suddenly became “cool.”

Boston as seen from the Prudential Tower

June

In June my long-planned vacation finally fell together, and I headed off to Boston on my first solo trip. I had an incredible few days doing whatever the heck I wanted: Basically a dream come true!

Highlights included going to the top of the Prudential Tower, walking the Freedom Trail, and catching a game at Fenway Park.

The Venice Canals of Los Angeles

July

I kept up my summer travel streak by hopping over to the West Coast to reunite with some of my favorites:  I crashed with my college bestie Kathleen (also my unofficial blog adviser) met up with my aunt and uncle, and took a vow to never ever go two years without visiting California again!

Highlights of my LA trip include seeing the Venice Canals, visiting the Getty and hanging out in my favorite LA neighborhood, Santa Monica.

New York City as seen from the Top of the Rock

August

I kept still in August, but the excitement found me! My sister Ally came to visit over her nineteenth birthday, and we had adventures including a picnic dinner, a trip to Top of the Rock, and as much junk food as I could shovel into her health-conscious body. Hosting visitors is one of my favorite parts of living in New York (seriously, come visit), and I cherish getting to show off “my” city to people who have only seen the touristy parts before.

Also: I took a cruise around New York Harbor with my besties, started using Vimeo, and celebrated one year of A Genuine Delight!

New York City as seen from One World Observatory

September

The beginning of fall brought more visitors, with my parents and cousin overlapping their visits – and my best friend Jordan following shortly thereafter! There was a lot of sightseeing, including a one-day whilrwind, and catching up with loved ones. Bonus that I didn’t have to leave New York to make it happen!

Also: I launched my delightful guide to NYC!

A giraffe at Kruger National Park, South Africa

October

October was the defining month of my year: I took my first trip to Africa, mainly to do missions work with Children’s Cup, but ended up having the most transforming week of my entire life. From hitting the plains on a safari to getting to know my sponsor child in person, I am absolutely not the same person I was when I left, and I have a suspicion this trip was really only the start of a journey for me.

No “alsos” here. Africa defined October – and 2015 – and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Santa Claus at the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

November

I was worried November would feel like my life screeching to a halt, but luckily I fell right back in love with New York City – and even with fall! I spent the month jumping in piles of leaves, eating tacos in the neighborhood, and celebrating Thanksgiving surrounded by loved ones – even if we don’t share blood.

Also: I checked “Go to the Macy’s Parade” off my bucket list, and tricked my travel bug into thinking I’d left the city by trekking out to Queens County Farm.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

December

December has been blissfully, blessedly uneventful. I spent lazy days with friends, had some freelance work published for the first time in years, and celebrated Christmas in Brooklyn for the second year in a row. I really cherish getting to slow down when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy!

Also: I ate my weight in snickerdoodles and saw a lot of Christmas trees.

Other highlights of 2015 include reading 38 books (on a goal of 30!), having my photos featured on Instagram by @travelmail and @nypost, and becoming a little more comfortable with commitment (to the city, to my job, to a blog). Tomorrow we’ll look to the year ahead – but for tonight, I hope you have the loveliest time celebrating all we’ve done in 2015.

Happy new year, friends!

Christmas in NYC

Although the trees are (mostly) spectacular, my favorite thing about Christmastime in New York is that everything gets into the spirit. Every store window is decked out, every plant is draped with lights, every spare space is filled with a decoration. And the result is nothing short of magical.

Angel decorations at Rockefeller Plaza Christmas trees on Rockefeller Plaza with Saks Fifth Avenue in the background

Rockefeller is known for its main tree, yes, but it wouldn’t have an impact without the other decorations on the plaza – the backup singers, if you will. Smaller trees and angels line the walkway, and at the end is Saks Fifth Avenue – a spectacle all its own. The palace motif is fabulous, right? Well, at night…

Saks Fifth Avenue, Christmas 2015

…it not only lights up, but in tune to musical accompaniment.

The Union Square Holiday Market 2015 The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park 2015

The holiday markets – pictured are the Union Square Holiday Market and the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park – are the best places to pick up Christmas gifts. Not only do they feature local companies with products that can be hard to find the rest of the year, they have that Christmas vibe made famous by the markets in Europe. Bryant Park’s is my favorite. In addition to shopping, the center of the park becomes a skating rink (it’s free if you bring your own skates!) and features one of those famous trees.

Close-up of the Christmas tree at Bryant Park 2015

Although the big picture is obviously amazing, every little detail that goes into these trees, as well as all of the other decorations, is mind-blowing. And I’m thrilled that this snowflake is the closest thing I’ve seen to actual snow this season!

Grand Central Terminal decked out for Christmas, 2015

Grand Central is one of the most iconic parts of New York City anyway, and its decorations are classic and understated: wreaths, red ribbons, and not much more. Inside, you’ll find another holiday market, the perfect place for commuters to pick up gifts!

The New York Public Library at Christmas 2015

And because not a single opportunity should be missed, the statues at the New York Public Library are decked out in the holiday spirit as well. Maybe it’s just me, but this lion looks pretty darn happy to be celebrating!

Which photo is your favorite? For more, see my 2014 Christmas photos!