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!

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Rolling With Your Veggies

Sorry for the cheesy title but the more catchy the title the more readers I get. Always thinking ahead. 

Jon and I went to a sushi making class at our local Whole Foods last night. It was very basic but a lot of fun.

They gave us basic ingredients (veggies & cooked shrimp) and materials.

We also got some cool hats and gloves.

We made several types of sushi including nigiri, hosomaki & temaki (hand rolls).

The class was a lot of fun and I had no idea Whole Foods had so many different classes.

I just wish we were able to make “real” sushi with fish rather than veggies.  Since we got to take home the mats we might have to try to make some at home now. Hmm…..Maybe…..

Have you taken a cooking class?

Pasta Machines

I know it’s hard to believe but there were pasta vending machines in Florence.

Lots of variety, cheap and fast.  I really wanted to try it but I was too grossed out.

Would you have tried it?

New Additions In Florence

So much has changed in Florence since I was there 6 years ago.  Here are a few:

This is te lobby of my old apt.  It never looked so nice!

My old school is now a beautiful hotel.  The school was so run down and rickety that we kept our jackets on in class because the heat did not work. They completely renovated the building and it’s gorgeous!!

Ben & Jerry’s across from the Duomo just seems weird.  The city is so old and historical I don’t think common day eateries like this work there but clearly I’m wrong.

They cleared the locks from years ago and started over.  This was completely full 6 years ago.

The Oil Shoppe is closed?!?!  Turns out its closed on the weekends so I missed out on eating for my sandwich shop in the world. 

H&M was a treat for us when we traveled but now it’s in Florence.

The Coca-Cola cans are tall and thin.

There are multiply tour companies now.  They don’t go into the center of the city but they hit major spots.

We walked by several sushi restaurants which were non existent 6 years ago.

The one company that is still missing from this is Starbucks. They are still not in Florence or anywhere in Italy for that matter.  STAY STRONG FLORENCE!!!

 

Florence, Italy: 6 Years Later – Day 3 in Pisa

In case you missed it:

Day 1

Day 2

We flew out of Pisa airport so we hopped on a train from Santa Maria Novella to Pisa for the day so we could explore the city.

Here’s a video of the view from the train going from Florence to Pisa.

It was raining in Pisa for the first 2 hours we were there so we headed to a restaurant to eat lunch and hoped the rain would stop by the time we were finished.

It stopped raining and we made sure to see all the important sights.

The Cathedral.

The Baptistry

We walked through a flea market as we were on our way back to the airport.

Then it was off to the airport to head back to London.

Florence, Italy: 6 Years Later – Day 2

If you missed my day 1 post you can read it here.

On Saturday we woke up and had a plan for the day so we wouldn’t miss any of the important stops (did you think I didn’t have a plan…c’mon you know me by now).

The Plan.

1. San Lorenzo Market

Inside the market there are fresh fruit/veggie stands, butchers, fish shops, and that sort of thing.  Outside the market are leather stands and little souvenirs.

2. Accademia Gallery to see The David

We snuck a video of the statue but obviously I’m not putting it up here.  The David was so beautiful and very cool to see in person.

3. Lunch for Jon

Pizza of course.  Fun/sickening Fact: We had pizza with every meal over the weekend.

4. Santa Croce

There was a chocolate market in front of the church so we walked around and tasted everything.

5. Lunch for Ashley

Vegetarian sandwich which was heaven.  Funny story: I was waiting for my sandwich to be made and 5 American girls walk in and start chatting it up with the guy behind the counter.  I was intrigued so I had to talk to the girls.  Turns out they were studying abroad in Florence and eat lunch there everyday.  I was so jealous that they were studying abroad and still in college but it was good to see that Americans still take over Florence every spring and go to the same places.

6. Pitti Palace

7. Piazzale Michelangelo

The most gorgeous view of Florence.

8. Glass of wine outside

9. Nap time

10. Dinner at Il Ghibellini

 

We licked our plates clean!

Our last day in Italy was spent in Pisa so you’ll hear about that next.

 

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…

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