Engagement Trumps Birthdays

The first 24 hours in NYC were epic. It started out at dinner with Jon to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary and ended with a Saturday brunch with the besties celebrating our engagement.

From this:

to this:

to this:

Rewind to the beginning…we got into NY around 4pm.  We were staying at a hotel because Jon’s parents were “painting” the apt (which turns out wasn’t true).  We got to the hotel and I immediately ran off to get a mani/pedi because I was in desperate need of one (anyone that lives in London understands). I knew I had to be ready early but  I thought I had enough time to get both a manicure and pedicure but I was wrong.  I wound up getting a pedicure and half a manicure (no polish).  I headed back to the hotel to shower and get for the dinner.

We met Jon’s sister, Erika, at the restaurant for some drinks before dinner.  We caught up, laughed and everything seemed totally normal.  Jon and I went upstairs for dinner to enjoy delicious sushi.  He decided he wanted to give me my birthday present after dinner and I wasn’t going to say no so we went back to the hotel.

I walked into the room and there were rose petals, flowers, presents, candy, champagne, and some other things all over the room!  I was in shock! I turned around and Jon was down on one knee.

After spending time together we headed down to the lobby where I was surprised to see my family and his family. We celebrated with toasts and drinks and then headed to a bar where I was surprised again by all my friends.

After a crazy night out which ended with dancing to a cover band we woke up to meet the girls for bunch at barmarche which I highly suggest you visit if you are in NY.

I still can’t stop smiling and can’t believe I’m engaged!

I keep forgetting that my birthday was on Saturday too.  I don’t really care though because the engagement definitely trumps the birthday.

Let the wedding planning begin!

Yelp! Event: AvoHotel

Sara was invited to a Yelp! event on Monday and asked me to join her so we headed to Dalston to check out a new boutique hotel.

Avo Hotel is located on a main street but seemed to be in a residential area. It is family run and was actually the family’s house before they turned it into a hotel.  I love that the space has a story behind it.

The actual event was a lot of fun.  The food was all homemade and beyond delicious.

Pankora – fried bliss

Spicy peanuts which weren’t that spicy.

Beer & wine of course:

That’s Sunny….her family owns the hotel and used to live in the space!  They also cooked all the food which was so flavorful.

They were also offering mhendi which Sara and I signed up for it.

And the final product:

So beautiful!

Here is a tour of the hotel:

I love reading so I couldn’t stop looking at the titles they have.

The penthouse:

Brand new, modern bathrooms:

Very narrow stairs:

Overall, the event was so much fun.  We hung out, ate, drank and chatted with other Londoners.  Can’t wait for the next Yelp! event!

Florence, Italy: 6 Years Later

I have been putting off this post because there is so much to say I’m not sure how to say it all and not bore my readers. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that this weekend will have to be broken up into several posts.  Hope you enjoy them!

I studied abroad in Florence in 2005 (wow 6 years ago!) so I was very excited to go back to Florence since living there.  I wondered if I would remember the streets, if restaurants would still be there and how much the city had changed over the years.  The minute I stepped off our Ryanair flight (side note: baggage was a perfect carry-on size) it all came back to me (except the Italian unfortunately).

We started our weekend by getting lunch at Osteria dell’Agnolo which was a spot you could find us at all the time 6 years ago. I even ordered the same dish I always did, Ribolitta.

After lunch we wandered around the city. First we walked to the Duomo.

The Uffizi.

The Ponte Vecchio which was full of jewelry shops.

Along the Ponte Vecchio there are padlocks that symbolize the unbreakable bonds of true love. This tradition started many years ago and it actually didn’t have anything to do with love at first.  Men leaving for the service would put the lock there with a promise of coming home. There are so many and each have initials and dates on them.  To be honest, I wanted to put a lock on there but we didn’t know where to find one.  Cheesy or not, I wanted to do it. 

Wandered around a little more.

For dinner we went to one of the best restaurants in the world, Ristorante la Giostra. I didn’t take any photos of the meal but I’m still thinking about the delicious ravioli stuffed with pear and pecorino.  You can tell the pasta was fresh and it melted in your mouth.  For the second dish we shared sea bass cooked in tomatos.  I don’t think this is on the menu but the owner offered it to us after we couldn’t decide (or read b/c the menu is in complete Italian) what to get.  The tomatoes were roasted to perfection and blended with the sea bass perfectly.  Now I want to go back…  If you go to Florence and do not eat at La Giostra then you wasted a trip because you missed out on the best part….for real.

 

That was day 1.  On to day 2…

New Zealand Day In London

Yesterday I left the flat to run errands and was surprised to see a mob of drunk people in costumes.

Just realized there aren’t any people in costumes in this photo but just wait for the other photos. I’m not lying.

I asked one of the people dressed up as a cow what was going on and he screamed “IT’S NEW ZEALAND DAY!!!!” I googled it and this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 February 1840, in a marquee erected in the grounds of James Busby’s house (now known as the Treaty house) at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The Treaty made New Zealand a part of the British Empire, guaranteed Māori rights to their land and gave Māori the rights of British subjects. There are differences between the Māori and English language versions of the Treaty, and virtually since 1840 this has led to debate over exactly what was agreed to at Waitangi. Māori have generally seen the Treaty as a sacred pact, while for many years Pākehā (the Māori word for New Zealanders of predominantly European ancestry) ignored it. By the early twentieth century, however, some Pākehā were beginning to see the Treaty as their nation’s founding document and a symbol of British humanitarianism. Unlike Māori, Pākehā have generally not seen the Treaty as a document with binding power over the country and its inhabitants. In 1877 Chief Justice James Prendergast declared it to be a ‘legal nullity’, and it still has limited standing in New Zealand law.[1]

 

New Zealand Day

In 1971 the Labour shadow minister of Māori AffairsMatiu Rata, introduced a private member’s bill to make Waitangi Day a national holiday, to be called New Zealand Day. This was not passed into law. After the 1972 election of the third Labour government under Norman Kirk, it was announced that from 1974 Waitangi Day would be a national holiday known as New Zealand Day. The New Zealand Day Act 1973 was passed in 1973.

For Norman Kirk, the change was simply an acceptance that New Zealand was ready to move towards a broader concept of nationhood. Diplomatic posts had for some years marked the day, and it seemed timely in view of the country’s increasing role on the international stage that the national day be known as New Zealand Day. At the 1974 celebrations, the Flag of New Zealand was flown for the first time at the top of the flagstaff at Waitangi, rather than the Union Flag, and a replica of the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand was also flown.

The election of the third National government in 1975 led to the day being renamed Waitangi Day because the new Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, did not like the name “New Zealand Day” and many Māori felt the new name debased the Treaty of Waitangi.[2] Another Waitangi Day Act was passed in 1976 to change the name of the day back to Waitangi Day.

Sorry too much reading I know.  I’m a visual person myself so here are more photos.  You can drink on the streets in London so there were drunk people everywhere with open bottles.  The police were there to keep them off the streets but couldn’t really do anything else.

This just proves that you never know what you will encounter when you walk outside your door in London.

 

%d bloggers like this: