Five Years in New York

Today is the fifth anniversary of my move to New York.

First NY apartment
First NY apartment

When I used to talk about moving here, I would always add that the official plan was to move here for ten years, and then probably head west to California.

Now that I’ve made it halfway through that timeline, I’m less confident in my ability to stick it out the full ten years (it’s hard living here, yo), but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

My sister and I on one of my first trips to the city.

New York is the city where I met, dated, and married my husband. It’s the first place I lived entirely separate from my family. It’s where I’ve made some of my dearest friendships. It’s where I had my first (and second, third, fourth, and fifth) real, grown-up jobs. It’s where we started our life with the Boges.

ahhh the dating days
ahhh the dating days

New York City is a city like no other in the world. Where “only in New York!” moments happen literally every day. I mean, yesterday during work, there were Broadway show previews happening in the alley behind my building. Just because they can.

In this place, I’ve almost been hit by a car, encountered traumatizing wildlife, and survived a hurricane. I’ve eaten amazing food and celebrated anniversaries and gotten to do things I couldn’t done have pretty much anywhere else.

In short, as much as I rag on the NYC, this city has been pretty good to me.

And whether I’m here for another five years or not, it’s safe to say a part of me will always heart New York.

Advertisements

The Top 10 Posts of 2013

Similar to my annual sum-uppance, I also like to share a round-up of the top ten most-read posts of the year every December. (Last year’s winners here.) It’s usually fairly amusing — I mean, without this list, we would never have known how much people like reading about narwhals, right?

Let’s do this.

10. How to: Baby Gender Reveal Party
I loved writing this post almost as much as I loved planning my friend Megan’s baby gender reveal party, and apparently my readers have enjoyed it as well. You’ll also be happy to know that Bill and Megan had a healthy, adorable little boy that we all adore.

9. How to: Throw a Mad Men Party
So apparently I need to plan more parties? Our houseapartment-warming party was one of th most successful party I’ve ever thrown. I themed it (because I’m me), and the results were pretty fab. This post shared what I cooked, what we wore, and how I decorated.

IMG_4326-600x600

8. Get Your StitchFixMy post from the first time I used the service. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote a follow-up about my other experiences with the company here. I actually did find something in the subsequent fix that I liked, which I have completely forgotten to blog about. But they made things up to me.

7. What Guys Should Wear for Pictures
Listen, dudes. I’m looking out for you. This will hopefully be helpful for any newly engaged folks out there.

6. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate
Another repeat from last year. You just can’t argue with Nutella.

5. How to: Plan a Bachelorette Party in Chicago
I still think this is one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever written — and one of the best parties I’ve ever planned. I stand behind all of my recommendations, and people who attended have told me that people forward them this blog post when they come across it while Google-searching bachelorette party ideas. That’s some good SEO right there.

4. How to: Create “Disney Princess” Curls
I often joke now that my target audience is little girls between the ages of one and seven because of my cartoonishly large eyes and long blonde hair. But turns out that little joke was a great way to drum up some blog traffic. Go forth and learn how to curl your hair.

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 3.26.21 PM

3. So…this happened.
So…this one is weird. I mean, the post is funny. It was a funny thing that happened to me. But this post NEVER got any serious traffic until November 28th, when suddenly it exploded in popularity, getting about 5,000 page views in two days. (A sizeable amount for my little blog.) I know the traffic came from Facebook, but I have no idea why or where in the social network. If anyone knows why, I would love to have this phenomenon explained.

2. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet
The tale of how my father-in-law and I took a rusted out file cabinet and restored it like new. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll buy spray primer. Everyone wins.

1. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for Six DaysIt’s like the little post that could. Thanks to a hefty dose of Pinterest traffic, this post has risen from the fourth most-read post last year to the most-read post of the year. Round of applause (and dry shampoo) for everyone!

IMG_20120608_151922

Thanks for another great year! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.

New Year Sum-Uppance, Vol. 5

Hey-o! It’s time for my fifth annual end-of-the-year sum-uppance. For those of you just tuning in, every year at the end of the year, I answer roughly the same questions. It’s a fun way to look back on where I’ve been. You can read last year’s post here for reference, but you get the idea.

Let’s go!

Age: 26, but can pass for a high school student if I don’t wear makeup. (Or at least that’s what my tailor tells me.)

Location: New York City

Occupation: Senior Manager of Engagement Marketing. (GASPS FOR AIR BECAUSE THAT TAKES FOREVER TO SAY.)

New favorite food: I’m changing this one a bit because I always say roughly the same foods. Instead, let’s focus on something new I discovered I like: Manchego cheese. Seriously. It’s the only kind Joey and I buy anymore. It’s delicious.

Music I like right now: This hasn’t really changed from last year. Folksy-pop? Is that a thing?

TV shows I watch: Similar to last year. Joey and I also recently got into Arrow, which is working for me.

Book I’m reading: Ready Player One, a recommendation from my brother. HIGHLY recommend if you’ve got a nerd streak.

What’s my hair doing right now: Sort of a joke, but also sort of serious since I talk about it often enough on this blog. It actually looks about the same as last year. Quelle surprise.

How I did on my goals from last year: Just to remind you, these were last year’s goals, along with how I did:

1. More travel (here’s a hint: AFRICA. Okay, so that’s not a hint. That’s me telling you. But it’s happening.)
Welp, this didn’t happen. But we did travel a bit within the states (okay, within the Midwest) and we’re going to PARIS in April, so there’s that.

2. Moving to Brooklyn
Change that to Queens and I nailed it.

3. Paying off the last of my credit card debt
DONE.

4. ACTUALLY GETTING A DOG
In the works…

5. Running a full marathon
See above response re PARIS. Checking this bad boy off in April as well. And I did run a Tough Mudder and my first half marathon after almost a year of being injured, so that’s pretty neat too.

6. Staying happy.
Pretty good? I think my biggest sign of growth in the last year has been my ability to separate things that matter from things that don’t. I don’t let stuff mess me up like I used to.

Goals for next year: I’m reusing travel/marathon/dog. I’d also like to pick up at least 20 freelance assignments in 2014, and hopefully get closer to figuring out where we want to settle.

Overall opinion of my life: I should probably just erase this question because I’m not sure I would be honest even if things were not going well, but I can honestly say that I’m happy. And what more do you need, right?

Check back tomorrow for the top most-read posts of 2014. Should be a doozy.

What to do in Des Moines

Is there anything better than going home for a visit? Not if you’re me.

Joey and I spent a long weekend over Thanksgiving with my parents, and it was exactly what I needed. I’ve loved living in New York these last (almost) five years, but sometimes a girl just needs to get out of the city.

Besides, going home means so much more than a change of scenery. If you’re me, it means your mom cooking you breakfast every morning and making your favorite dinners most evening. And if she’s not cooking, your dad is taking you to your favorite local restaurants, as well as a few new spots. So now, I’m sharing the wonder with you.

Here’s a quick guide on what to do (and, let’s be real, what to eat) should you ever been lucky enough to spend a weekend in DSM.

First, a few things you can’t eat unless my mother is also your mother:

Our first night home, my mom made my favorite soup IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, Italian Wedding Soup. But trust me, it’s so much better when my mom makes it.

The next night, we had a family dinner. FEAST YOUR EYES (since you can’t feast your belly):

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Dinner featured a few of my favorites, like my mom’s sweet potato casserole, butternut squash casserole, and corn bread. (My name is Justine, and I like carbs.)

The next day, I hit the gym with my dad (to work off the aforementioned carbs), shopped with my mom, had ANOTHER delicious dinner by my momma, and then hit up downtown Des Moines with a few of my oldest friends. If you’re in town, I recommend El Bait Shop if you like beer, The Lift if you like hipsters and creepy art, and Fong’s Pizza if you’ve gone to the other two places and need something to soak up all the incredibly inexpensive drinks you ordered.

Because, guys? I didn’t pay more than $6 for a single drink all weekend. And the $6 one was fancy.

The next evening, my mom had a party for some of our family friends, so we got dressed up and ate fancy apps for a few hours.

Aren’t my parents cute?

Processed with VSCOcam

The next night, we had another family dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Des Moines, Centro.

//instagram.com/p/hZgrw4Suzf/embed/Do yourself a favor and order the Lemon Sage Martini.

The next day, my sister took some picture for my for my blogger style swap, but not before a quick lunch at La Mie.

//instagram.com/p/hbkT2EyuyN/embed/

I got the Avocado Tartine, and I wasn’t disappointed.

And that night, Joey, my parents, and I stormed downtown Des Moines, grabbing dinner and drinks at The Continental (so many cheap cocktails and apps…) and playing a few rounds at the arcade bar Up-Down (I own at skeeball).

Our last day, we had lunch at Zombie Burger (the one place Joey requested) with my family and a few friends we hadn’t had time to see yet. If you go, I highly recommend getting one of the milkshakes. (Spiked, of course.)

//instagram.com/p/heIFnWyu-4/embed/

Sadly, then it was time to pack up. And while it is nice being back at our home, I’m already looking forward to our next trip back to Des Moines.

The quietest milestone

As my friend Gabby kindly pointed out, I have been slacking a bit on the blog.

My deepest apologies.

To be fair (and as Gabby pointed out), I’ve been a little busy. Mostly with going on the first real vacation Joey and I have taken since our honeymoon.

vacation

(Get more pics as they happen by following me on Instagram.)

It was, in a word, lovely. And relaxing. And warm. (Okay, if you know me at all you should know I usually need more than one word.)

Now, though, we’re officially back to real life and real jobs and real blogging. (Well, me at least.)

The only other semi-important thing that happened over our trip was that I turned 26. Obviously I didn’t make nearly the fuss this year that I did last year, but 26 isn’t all that much of a milestone, really.

The head of my department says it was her favorite age, though, so maybe I’m wrong?

I’ve said it before, but getting older doesn’t really freak me out that much. I mean, I’m not ruling out the chance that it will someday, but for now, I’m okay.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve felt roughly 26 since I was about 13. If anything, I’m just relieved to finally actually be an age appropriate to the way I act. I’m married, have a full-time career, and am starting to think about buying a home and having kids in the next couple of years. Let’s hope I’m in my mid- to late-twenties, right?

I do wonder what will happen when I start to be in my 30s. Will I feel younger than my age? Or will I (*gulp*) actually have that house and kids, so feel appropriately 30s?

Guess you’ll have to wait and see with me, huh?

It does make me curious, though, what age do you feel?

How to: Memorial Day in New York

The unofficial theme of my Memorial Day weekend was “the time we ate and drank our way through New York City.” And I have no regrets about that.

Two of my oldest friends visited Joey and I with their significant others, and we spent our time strolling (a fairly rainy) Manhattan and exploring my favorite places (so far) in Queens. These are those stories.

Thursday: Erik and Alison arrived around noon on Thursday. I had to work from home that afternoon, so I sent them off to a nearby bar to unwind until six. When Joey got home, we headed off to the city for dinner at Bocca di Bacco, which my super hip-and-in-the-know co-worker Lauryn had recommended. If you like traditional Italian (I had the Ravolini di Pesce) and extensive wine lists, you will like this place.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.37 AM

Then we sent E+A off to see Once, which, as you may recall, I adore. They ended up getting drinks in the city and then heading back to our apartment.

Friday: The next day, Joey and I had both taken off from work, so we started the morning with brunch at my favorite breakfast spot in Astoria, Queens Comfort. It was predictably delicious. (Word to the wise: Get the tater tots. If you’re feeling especially crazy, get the Disco Tots. You will thank me.)

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.29 AM

Next, we headed into the city for a few touristy things (it was Allison’s first time to New York), including a peek at the park, a stop in Grand Central, and some serious window-shopping on 5th avenue. We tried to get into the MOMA during the free hours, but a line around the block combined with seriously unpleasant weather deterred us.

Then it was time to head back to Queens. We grabbed a quick snack at Martha’s Country Bakery (AMAZING…I usually get a chocolate chip cookie or cannoli, but Joey swears by every flavor of their cheesecake) to revive us before we went to pick up Annie and Al from the airport.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.20 AM

Once we had acquired an Annie and Al, it was time for dinner! We took everyone to one of our favorite Astoria restaurants, the newly liquor-licensed The Thirsty Koala. (I highly recommend clicking that link if you enjoy photos of adorable things.)

We ordered kangaroo sliders, lamb chops, prawn and steak tacos, crostinis, and a host of other things. Plus, of course, a few drinks to celebrate our reunion.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.11 AM

Saturday: After a few bagels from the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company on our street, we headed back into the city Saturday morning. We visited the 9/11 Memorial (which I had never done) before grabbing some coffee and strolling The High Line. The weather wasn’t great, but the views were still pretty nice.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.13.50 AM

After a quick dash home to freshen (and warm) up, we returned to the city for dinner at A Voce, another delicious Italian recommendation by Lauryn. I had the pea-stuffed mezzaluna pasta and a Kir Italiano – delish.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.57 AM

After some low-key drinks at The Guilty Goose nearby, we were ready to head home to bed. (Oh, right, we’re kind of old.)

Sunday: For everyone’s last full day in New York, we decided to hit a few more of our favorite Queens spots. We started with an incredible brunch at MexiBBQ (unlimited drinks from noon to three-ish). I had the Eggs Benedict and a mimosa, Joey got the Challah French Toast and a mimosa. No. Regrets.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.36 AM

Next, because the weather was actually nice for once, we were off to the Astoria Beer Garden. There was some kind of celebration going on, so we joined the party with a few pitchers and some flower crowns. As one does.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.46 AM

Afterward, we took a quick group nap before heading to dinner at Watawa, my favorite sushi place near our apartment. (Everything is good.)

Monday: The gang had to roll out around noon, so we grabbed a quick breakfast at Martha’s before heading home to pack. (Total disclosure: Alison and Erik ate at Martha’s no less than three times during their visit. It’s THAT good.)

After dropping everyone off for their flights, Joey and I headed to Astoria Park for a few hours of sunshine (I’m sufficiently pink now) before joining our local friends for a backyard barbecue.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 9.12.19 AM

Basically, I got everything I wanted out of the weekend, including time with my oldest friends, a little color, and some really great memories. Can’t wait for our next reunion!

 

Nostalgia tour.

It’s official, you guys — we’re in moving mode.

Last night, we had a couple friends over for what we had already agreed was going to be our last entertaining venture in this apartment. Starting March 1st, we’ll begin looking at apartments, so we’ll want to be as ready to go next month as possible. Meaning we have to start packing. And selling anything we don’t want to bring with us.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, that includes our china cabinet.

IMG_3414

IMG_3416

She really is a good ol’ gal. It’s kind of amazing given the amount of dishware/glassware we have (occupational hazard of working for a dinnerware company) we have that everything fits. Plus we can use the hidden compartments in the server to hide a bunch of other random stuff. If you live in the Long Island area (or are willing to make a trip, I guess?) and want to give it a good home, info is here. (By the way, how much do you love my product description? Can you tell I was a professional copywriter for six months???)(Ugh…at least the pictures are nice, right?)

Speaking of which, I guess I must be getting a little nostalgic because I actually took a bunch of pictures of our living room/dining room to share with you guys. A belated apartment tour of the only rooms I really feel comfortable showing people. (Well, except the bathroom…I let people see that. But it looks the same as it did in this post. Minus the weird yellow tinge. I mostly mean that I’m still not showing you our bedroom because it never stopped being a disaster. And the kitchen is clean, but just not that pretty in photos.)(OMG LONGEST DISCLAIMER EVER. JUST SHOW THEM THE PHOTOS.)

Here we go!

{living room, facing the gallery wall}
{living room, facing the gallery wall}
{living room, facing the TV}
{living room, facing the TV}
{living room, facing the windows}
{living room, facing the windows}
{living room, facing the dining room}
{living room, facing the dining room}
{dining room}
{dining room}

So there you have it. All in all, it was a pretty great first apartment. Sure, the outlet in the bathroom didn’t work, the thermostat was super sensitive, the kitchen cabinets were miniscule…I could go on about why it wasn’t perfect. But I’m pretty sure the first place isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s supposed to give you memories.

Job well done, apartment. Job well done.