Catching up via Instagram: 2/21/16

Believe it or not, between my little getaways to DC and Dallas and San Francisco (right now!), I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time hanging out in NYC this winter! The weather has been weird – record-breaking (and pipe-breaking) cold followed by 50-degree days the same week. It’s made getting dressed every day an adventure, to say the least. Alas! I’ve been having tons of fun this winter (weird, I know), and here’s a little peek!

Donuts from Holey Cream NYC

My roommate’s cousins recently stayed with us and treated us to donuts from Holey Cream in Hell’s Kitchen – delicious! This spot is actually known for donut ice cream sandwiches, which I’m dying to try out in the summer time!

Books and magazines

I’ve slowed down on my reading a bit, but there’s still so much I’m excited to dive into, and I just loaded up my Kindle with books I’m itching to read (including my own copy of All the Light We Cannot See – the physical copy from the library was just to cumbersome to carry around and I didn’t finish it before the due date!)

Cheesecake from Mayfield, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

In a desperate attempt to catch up in between our travels, my best friend and I grabbed dessert one night at our favorite neighborhood spot . To be honest, the cheesecake wasn’t the best, but Emmie loooooved her brownie ice cream sandwich!

Galentine's Day in Queens, NYC

Speaking of Emmie, by some miracle we were both free the night of our friend group’s annual Galentine’s Day celebration! We braved the cold, split a couple cabs and spent a night eating, playing games and taking pictures with our girlfriends.

The Painted Pot, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

On Presidents Day, a few of us were going to visit the Transit Museum, but were disappointed to find out it’s closed on Mondays. Instead, we headed to the Painted Pot in Carroll Gardens to channel our inner children! I’m anxious to see how that bowl looks once it’s been finished at the studio…

Snow in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

After painting, we walked to dinner – even though we could have taken the train one stop, we wanted to admire and take photos of the snow! (OK, OK. They wanted to. But I did get a good picture, so whatever.)

Beer in a stein from Strand Books, NYC

This week was National Wine Day, but I’m more of a beer girl myself. My friend Kelli got me this stein for Christmas from the Strand, a famous bookstore here in New York. I love how it combines my love of beer and books!

Golden Hour in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Finally, we’ve been enjoying some spring-like weather, and I couldn’t help but admire the morning light on my walk to the train this week. Really I’m just excited that it’s light out when I’m commuting now!

What have you been up to lately? I’m in San Francisco until Thursday, then I’ll be back in NYC for some more adventures at home!

 

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Central Park in the winter

I’m no stranger to Central Park: I’ve admired the springtime blossoms, sweltered under the summer sun, frolicked in the autumn leaves. But somehow, in nearly two years of living in NYC, I had never been to Central Park in the winter – until last week.

Tavern on the Green, Central Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winter

Honestly, I never saw a reason to visit Central Park in the winter. It’s freezing cold, for one, and I don’t do winter well. And without leaves on the trees (or on the ground), and it being too chilly to hang out with a book, well, I just didn’t see the point. But my sweet friends Nicole and Parisa visited recently, and Parisa had never been to Central Park before – so off we went, taking the C train to 72nd Street and working our way downtown.

Central Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winterCentral Park NYC in the winter

And I was so surprised by how beautiful it was! The trees were bare, yes, and the sky was cloudy this particular afternoon, trapping us in cold air, but there was something just really lovely about the gray of nature against the gray buildings against the gray sky. For about 30 minutes, until we couldn’t feel our toes and ducked into the shops at Columbus Circle for warmth.

Columbus Circle NYC in the winterColumbus Circle NYC in the winterFriends at Central Park NYC in the winter

What’s your favorite season to visit Central Park – or any park?

A most delightful snow day (and photos from Snowstorm Jonas)

Something about snowfall makes us all like children again.

An umbrella in Crown Heights after Snowstorm Jonas

Much to the surprise of many who know me, I actually did live in snowy climates as a child. I spent the first twelve years of my life in Ohio and Colorado. Even Dallas, where I went to middle and high school, gets an annual ice storm that shuts down the city. So I’m no stranger to snow days.

As a youngster, my snow days were spent curled up inside, wearing my pajamas all day and plowing through a stack of library books (usually Baby-Sitters Club, let’s be honest). I’d read all morning, take a nap, read all afternoon. Maybe I’d watch a movie, or some episodes of Lizzie McGuire I’d already seen dozens of times. Basically, my snow days were spent indoors, warm and content.

My siblings, meanwhile, would be out in the yard with the neighbor kids. There would be snowball fights and snow angels, and if they were really lucky, someone’s dad would lug them around in a sled. I’d watch from the window, glad they were having fun but even more glad no one was forcing me to join in.

Dean Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after Snowstorm JonasSnowstorm Jonas aftermath in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

When snowstorm Jonas hit last weekend, I couldn’t have been more excited to relive the snow days of my youth. As soon as the snow started falling, I headed home for an early night. I spent all day Saturday holed up in my apartment, watching the snow fall out my window and questioning (to myself and to others) why anyone would want to be outside. I got a lot of work done before finishing the book I’d been reading (Gossip Girl), and the show I’d been binge-watching (Veep) and again turning in early.

The patio at Berg'n in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after Snowstorm Jonas

Meanwhile, as usual, the “neighbor kids” (otherwise known as my friends, all in their mid-twenties) were outside, hurling snowballs, making snow angels and throwing themselves into snowdrifts, which I suppose is the adulthood equivalent to sledding. I watched them from Instagram and Snapchat – the windows to our modern world. I was thrilled that they were having a wonderful time, and more thrilled to be warm and cozy, surrounded by fictional friends and a mug of tea.

The next day, when the snow had stopped falling, I met up with one of those friends to watch football. He expressed regret that I hadn’t been around – that I had “missed the whole weekend.” He felt sorry for me! But even then – hearing the stories to complement the photographs, listening to the brand new inside jokes that I wasn’t a part of – I felt no regret.

Washington Square Park after Snowstorm JonasWashington Square Park after Snowstorm Jonas

I had the most delightful snow day I could have had, one that was true to my character – and to the child Leigh Anne, who still lives inside of me.

Related: A night in

Catching up via Instagram: 1/24/16

Hello from WINTER! It took weeks longer than expected, but for the past few weeks it’s been downright cold here in New York City. We were told to expect 6 to 8 inches of snow this weekend – and instead were walloped with twenty-six, making it the second-biggest winter storm in NYC’s history. Needless to say, I didn’t leave the house.

Until yesterday, though, I had been going a million miles a minute all winter. It’s been a busy one. Here’s a little glimpse of what I’ve been up to!

A pile of blankets

Reading the Genesis plan from She Reads Truth

Sipping ginger tea on a cold winter day

When I am at home, I’m typically buried under ALL OF THE BLANKETS. All but one of these were made by my wonderful mother. I can usually be found reading, writing and sipping ginger tea.

Union Square as seen from DSW

One of my favorite NYC secrets: You can get killer views from the shops south of Union Square. This was taken from DSW! Shoes and views.

An Eiffel Tower lamp from World Market

I recently popped into World Market “just to look around” and left with this gorgeous Eiffel Tower lamp (you know, because I’m obsessed with Paris).

The Flatiron Building, New York City

I’ve started taking long walks on my lunch breaks: I get some exercise, it keeps me warm, and it’s free! Last week I found myself near the Flatiron Building, which blows my mind every time.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

This is as close as I got to going outside yesterday! While my friends were at the park hurling snowballs at eachother, I was curled up with those blankets, reading and finishing Veep.Snowstorm Jonas aftermath in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Today, however, is a different story! I trekked to the market for breakfast supplies, and I have to admit – now that it’s warmer and the snow is no longer falling, it is kind of beautiful. And since everything (even church!) was cancelled today, I’m looking forward to a Sunday of reading, cleaning and watching football. Go Cardinals!

P.S. Did you notice the new City Guides page? Now you can access all of them on the left side of the homepage.

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!