The Christmas trees of New York City

By now, most of you know that I love New York City. I also have a slight obsession with Christmas. Luckily for me, those two things converge beautifully, and every December New York City becomes the most magical place on earth.

The trend is to put a gigantic tree in the middle of every public space and deck it out for the holiday. Everywhere you turn in Manhattan, you find yourself face-to-face with another Christmas tree. While the Rockefeller tree is by far the most famous, complete with a live televised lighting every year, all of the trees are truly phenomenal. This year, I’ve made it my mission to seek out as many as possible.

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The tree at South Street Seaport is decorated with a classic Christmas theme: tiny gold bulbs, silver and gold ornaments, the occasional snowflake. This was my favorite tree to visit due to the lack of crowds on a weekday afternoon.

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The tree at Bryant Park – which also features the annual Winter Village – has a more patriotic theme, featuring blue bulbs. It seems a little out of place with the season, but the weather has been downright balmy, so I could easily be tricked into thinking this is a Fourth of July tree.

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The tree at Madison Square Park is the ugly duckling of the bunch. It looks like it was hastily decorated by someone throwing leftover wrapping paper at it – sorry not sorry. I’m not even quite sure what they were going for here, but the view in of the Flatiron building is worth the visit anyway.

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I love the way the tree at Washington Square Park is framed by the arch – and although I grumble about the early sunsets, it’s lovely to walk past this one every afternoon on my way to the late shift.

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Of course I can’t post about the trees of New York without including the one at Rockefeller – especially since Rockefeller Plaza is my favorite place in the city. There is a reason this one is famous, and it’s worth squeezing past millions of bodies on a Saturday evening to get the perfect photo – once.

What’s your favorite tree in New York? Did I miss any?

The world-famous snickerdoodles

I’ve always been partial to cinnamon-flavored treats, ever since I was a kid grabbing cinnamon sugar pretzels from Auntie Anne’s (still my favorite). I also love Christmas, and all things associated with the holiday. It’s no surprise, then, that my favorite cookies are snickerdoodles!

Four years ago, when I moved into my own apartment with a huge kitchen (ah, Phoenix, I miss you sometimes), I started dabbling in baking. Although most of my creations came out of a box, I found a snickerdoodle recipe on Ambitious Kitchen (still one of my favorite blogs!) and just had to try them out.

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Let me just tell you how wonderful these cookies are: They’re soft and fluffy, with just the right amount of crisp on the bottoms. The snickerdoodle flavor is strong and delicious. And best of all? They’re easy to make, even for a baking rookie. Ever since that fateful day in my Phoenix kitchen, I’ve made these cookies at least a half-dozen times a year (sometimes even outside of the Christmas season!) I even get requests for them at parties – they made an appearance at Friendsgiving this year, as well as a cocktail party last weekend. I’m so glad to have an easy way to trick my friends into thinking I have a knack for this!

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You’ll have to pop over to get the recipe (and stay on Monique’s site a while; it’s lovely!) but let me tell you a few of the secrets (shhh!): brown butter. Greek yogurt. Chilling the dough. It takes a couple days to make these properly, but I assure you: They’re worth it.

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What’s your favorite Christmas treat?

Catching up via Instagram: 12/13/15

The theme of my life lately has been Christmas in New York City – one of my favorite themes, as this place is pretty magical this time of year. The weather has been warmer than usual – even breaking some records – which, depending on who you ask, is either a miracle or a travesty. I’m firmly on Team Miracle, and have spent the (all-too-short) warm days outside as much as possible. Here’s a little peek (with more Christmas-themed photos to come this week!)

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As I said, the days are all too short lately, but that does mean there are more sunrises in my life – sometimes from the office on busy mornings, sometimes from my bed on lazy ones.

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Downtown Manhattan can be way too crowded with buildings and shadows for good views – but then sometimes a landmark peeks out from the concrete jungle and reminds you just where you are.

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I’m already knee-deep in planning 2016, and actually bought this beautiful Joyce Meyer planner while I was in South Africa and had some rand to burn at the airport! It matches my journal and complements all of the other bright colors in my life, and I can’t wait to use it to organize my life next year. It’s also got daily scripture and other little reminders to keep God first.

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I went for a lunchtime stroll with my friend Angela in Washington Square Park and was attacked by a flock of birds. Don’t let that grin fool you: I was scared for my life.

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She Reads Truth always has the  best devotionals, and their advent study is no exception.

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As usual, brunch is the name of my weekend game, and last weekend my friend Miranda hosted us, cooked all of our food, and served up mimosas. So much fun to visit with friends in a more casual environment, and to save a little money!

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Because there’s no better view that the Washington Square arch, a Christmas tree and the Empire State Building. If only this post-sunset photo wasn’t taken at 4:45 p.m.

You can keep up with my Christmasy pursuits in real time by following me on Instagram here!

Currently: December 2015

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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… but miraculously, it still feels like fall!

Reading: I just finished Burial Ritesbook 35 for the year! It’s historical fiction based on the true story of the last person ever to be executed in Iceland, in 1829. It is, as you might imagine, completely depressing – but the writing is beautiful and the imagery has me ready to pack my bags and head to Iceland (my roommate went this summer and made it seem so perfect!)

Wearing: To be perfectly honest, as I write this on Saturday night I’m wearing bright striped pajama bottoms and a pink sweatshirt. It’s been a perfectly lazy weekend.

Buying: Christmas presents and only Christmas presents. I’m on a strict spending freeze when it comes to buying things for myself, until at least the new year.

Listening to: Nothing at this moment, but Christmas music pretty much 20 hours a day.

Eating: I ate a lot of garbage today but did have a Trader Joe’s salad for dinner. My meals have been boring lately, so please suggest cheap and easy ideas!

Watching: Literally watching How I Met Your Mother on my phone as I type this on my MacBook. Also still working my way through Veep and have added The Man In The High Castle. I’ve also watched all of Master of None since last month’s update.

Planning: Eek, still all those trips I mentioned last month. I really need to book some airfare, hotels…

Excited for: NEXT SATURDAY. My two best girlfriends and I are planning the ultimate girls’ day: cookie party, Sisters viewing at the fanciest theatre in Manhattan, wine, binging the first season of The Hills, and then watching Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host Saturday Night Live. 

Wishing: Still the two places at once thing – but the second place would be Texas with my family for the holidays. Well, and Arizona. And Africa too? Maybe I need to be in four places at once…

2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

As you all know, last week on Thanksgiving I ventured solo to the Upper West Side to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live and in person. I’m so excited to share that experience with you all! As my (British) boss observed, “The parade just seems so… bizarre.” I suppose that’s true without context, but as someone who grew up watching it every year on NBC – seeing the parade in person was an incredible experience.

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I made it to 71st Street and Central Park West around 6:45 a.m. and staked out a halfway-decent spot – so many people were already packed in! I was able to see all of the balloons and most of the floats, which is really what the parade is all about. I lucked out with good weather – temperatures in the 50s! – but my feet were numb by the end anyway (I suppose five hours of standing in one spot will do that!) Final verdict: It was worth it, but never again, and certainly never in colder (read: typical) weather.

Here are some of the highlights!

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Snoopy & Woodstock

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The Aflac duck

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The Pillsbury Doughboy – this was my favorite balloon but I heard people say it looks like a serial killer?!

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Elf on the Shelf, which if you ask me is the real serial killer…

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Pikachu

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Thomas the Tank Engine

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SpongeBob SquarePants

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Kool-Aid Man

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Power Ranger

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A very random candy cane

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Sesame Street, but really I took this picture because of Questlove

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Scrat the squirrel

The parade always ends with a string of Christmas floats, and Santa Claus wraps it all up (pun intended). Santa was always my very favorite part, and so I was giddy as he got closer and closer!

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Mariah Carey waving condescendingly at the peasants

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SANTA CLAUS!

And with that, it was officially the holiday season! I grabbed a bagel, went back to Brooklyn for a nap, and then was off to dinner. I hope you all had just as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did!

What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade? Or do you just find it all bizarre?