The Big Apple: Part I

Really, I should be titling these posts “The Weekend That Gretchen Didn’t Eat Any Vegetables” or just “The Weekend that Gretchen Ate Her Weight in French Fries”, but I decided to go with something a little simpler. That’s right, folks! I’m back from New York City and had an amaaaazing weekend with Steve exploring the city, quenching my nerdtastic love for Harry Potter & Broadway all at once.

IMG_1681.jpg

Oh my gosh, where to start, where to start… so much happened in this one little weekend. Phew! So I guess I start at the beginning, eh? Steve and I took Friday off of work to hit the road (we took the Bolt Bus – $17 each way!) We checked into our hotel (the Residence Inn Times Square) and immediately set off to explore the city a little before meeting up with some of Steve’s friends later on like we had planned.

We walked and walked, down past Union Square and into St. Mark’s Place. We had our eyes set on a couple of the restaurant recommendations that you amazing people gave me! First up: S’mac:

IMG_8135.jpg

This tiny little hole-in-the-wall is dedicated completely and solely to mac ‘n’ cheese. Awesome, right? I opted for the Napoletana, which had fresh mozzerella, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and fresh basil. Sound familiar?

IMG_8140.jpg

It. Was. Amazing. Steve opted for the Cheeseburger mac, which was also delicious but I think mine was the star. They have sizes that range from “Nosh” to “Partay!” (love the names) and I’m so glad we went with the Nosh. It may be the smallest size offered, but it is more than enough cheesy goodness.

IMG_8141.jpg

After sating our appetite a bit with that, we had to move onto the second place on our list, which was conveniently located right around the corner. Pomme Frites!

IMG_8144.jpg

Like S’mac is a tribute to the great art of mac ‘n’ cheese, Pomme Frites does the same for the classic french fry. Belgian fries, to be exact!

IMG_8157.jpg

They have a list of about a gajillion different dipping sauces for your fries, and various sizes you can get. Steve and I split an order of the smallest size and opted to try the sweet mango chutney mayo (my fave by far!), the roasted garlic mayo (Steve’s pick – good, but VERY mayo-y), and the horseradish mayo (super strong on the horseradish.)

IMG_8147.jpg

There was some regular ol’ ketchup in there somewhere too, and I was a very happy bear.

IMG_8159.jpg

And so began what would end up being an entire weekend of absolutely atrocious eating habits. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty! Well, I guess I feel a little bit guilty. But it was still totally worth it. 🙂

After getting our noms on, we met up with Steve’s friend Greg and his girlfriend Ellen to head over to Brooklyn for the opening reception of an art show at a sweet little studio, Cotton Candy Machine. Steve is friends with artist Brian Ewing, so it was really cool to meet him, as well as the other artists there!

IMG_8165.jpg
IMG_8163.jpg

I walked away with the following t-shirt:

Cotton Candy Machine T-shirt

And felt so cultured and hip! So of course, in order to balance that out, we had to go see a superhero movie afterward, hahaha.

IMG_8167.jpg

For the record, X-Men: First Class was awesome. It was so well done. I think I may have liked it better than the first and the second X-Men movies, actually… and I obviously thought it was far, far, faaaar better than the third, haha. It was so good. The thing that wasn’t so good? Actually having to see the calorie counts of movie theatre food:

IMG_8169.jpg

Nuts, right? Didn’t stop me from getting a hot dog anyway though… oops. I really think it’s great that they post this info though. Especially given this little nugget of informational gold in particular:

IMG_8170.jpg

An additional 760 calories for extra cheese!? On top of an already ludicrous 1390 calories, just for nachos? The nacho servings at movie theatres aren’t even that big! Yeesh.

And after the movie got out at like 1:30 in the morning (staying out later than I have in a loooong time — in true New York fashion, haha!) we hit the hay, knowing that we’d have to have our energy for the following day. I had Broadway tickets to score, and Harry Potter exhibits to geek out over, after all! But you guys’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the next chapter in this epic weekend’s story.

Also, to answer the question that is probably forming in your mind right now, I have made the executive decision not to weigh in this week. Or at least, not to weigh in today. I might do a little spot-check later in the week, but I just really want to try to ride the high from my awesome weekend as long as possible, and I know it will only be bad news bears. So! Judge me if you want, but it’s happening. Or rather, not happening. Heh.

Okay, okay. So you will have to tune in tomorrow for the full update on our second day of New York adventures. But! I will give you the following sneak peek of exactly what said day entailed (in case you didn’t already see my Tweets and Facebook updates about it! Hehe!)

IMG_1715.jpg

Yeaaaaaah roooooooyyyy! See you tomorrow for all the deets! 😉

Empire State of Mind

Hey guys! Happy Thursday! Thanks for all your sweet comments and concern regarding Daxter’s emergency trip to the vet hospital. I am happy to report that he seems to have recovered 100%!

 

IMG_8027.jpg 

With the crisis averted with my little one, now I can finally get excited for my New York trip that is happening… tomorrow! Yayyy! This trip has been planned for a while and I’m really excited to take in all that the Big Apple has to offer, hehe. The last time I was in New York was last summer when I went on a very quick, very awesome whirlwind trip (we were there for less than 24 hours) with some of my old coworkers.

 

CS Team NYC Trip! 

It was a great trip, but this time I’m looking forward to being able to spend a little more time exploring the city with Steve and meeting up with some old friends:

 

Taiwan 3zbs! 

How’s that for a blast from the past? That picture is from junior year of high school – in Taiwan! Oh, the good old days. I’m also looking forward to hopefully getting to see the following cutie patootie in action:

 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying 

But… I’m trying to appropriately temper my hopes. We’re hoping to get some same-day tix from the TKTS booth in Times Square, but I know it’s still a relatively new show so there’s no guarantee. Getting advance tickets would have been $$$ though, and certainly out of this girl’s broke budget! So hopefully fate is on our side with this one.

I know I’ve written about what I’m dying to do in NYC before, but just to recap for you, the following definitely WILL be happening:

 

Harry Potter Discovery Exhibit 

The Harry Potter Exhibit at the Discovery Museum! Eeeeeee! I do love me some Harry. I mean… hello?

 

Harry Potter Nerds Unite! 

Hehe.

And we’ll also be taking in an art show for an artist that Steve is really into but I forget exactly who (Brian Vaughn?) and meeting up with a couple of his old friends who live in the city as well. It’ll be a pretty busy weekend, I know! But if any of you big city dwellers are going to be around, let me know and maybe we can try to meet up!

Since this is only my 3rd visit to NYC I’ll need your expert recommendations, since I’m sure most of you are far more cultured than me, haha. What are your New York must-sees? Restaurant recommendations? Lay ’em on me! As an avid Food Network watcher and Top Chef fan, naturally all the restaurants I want to try are in the upper echelon of expensiveness and exclusivity, haha (Craft, anyone?) So I think it’s probably a pretty safe bet that ain’t happening.

Posting will likely be sporadic at best while I’m gone, but fret not! I’ll be back with an awesome recap in no time.

<3

Poor, Poor Daxter

Yesterday started out as a normal enough day. I worked, then I braved the ludicrously hot weather to take my little pup Daxter to the vet for his yearly checkup and vaccination boosters.

IMG_1678.jpg

Seriously. Ridiculous. Anyway!

Everything was hunky dory at his 4:30 appointment as he braved getting multiple shots, blood drawn for his heartworm test, and the ever-pleasant taking of his temperature (you know what that means.) He was on his best behavior, and didn’t even shriek when they cut his nails!

Fast forward to 10:15 PM, when all of the sudden he runs into my room, starts pawing at his face, trying to dig to China in his doggy bed, and flops around my bedroom floor. Granted, I have a strange little pupster, but this was odd behavior even for him. So I pick him up, look into his face and…

IMG_8125.jpg

His entire face was swollen up like a balloon. You probably can’t tell very well in this picture, but the rims around his eyes were puffed up to the point that he looked drunk. And Asian. Which normally, you’d think I would be all about, but in this particular instance I was just a little concerned. He was also really hot (to the touch!) and kept panting.

EDIT: Here’s a picture that Ben took where you can really see how pink and swollen his eye is:

Day 149 - Pink Eye

What a trooper. 🙁

I quickly went and asked for my roommate‘s opinion about whether his face seemed swollen (it did), then called my simultaneously-least-favorite-and-most-favorite place in the whole world: The Hope Center for Advanced Veterinary Medicine.

IMG_8129.jpg

This emergency-only, 24/7 veterinary hospital in Vienna, VA is seriously amazing. They saved Daxter’s life when he had a freak choking accident at only 14 weeks old, they diagnosed Harry’s symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (a rare condition where his nailbeds were literally rejecting his nails, and they were falling out) after my regular vet had no idea what was happening. In short, they are just, flat-out awesome.

IMG_8134.jpg

They told me on the phone that it sounded like he was having a reaction to his vaccinations, and that I should bring him in to have him looked at. I wasted absolutely no time in doing exactly that. And 15 minutes later they had taken my brave little soul into the back to give him (more) shots of steroids and antihistamines to counteract the reaction.

IMG_8130.jpg

After a little more waiting, the doctor came in to explain everything to me, get a little more background, and said that he would be fine to go home tonight but I should monitor him for worsening of his reaction. I also got a tiny bottle with a single Benadryl in it to give him this morning with his breakfast.

IMG_8131.jpg

He did look much, much better this morning (after waking up pretty much every hour throughout the night to check on him too, hahaha) and I can now officially breathe a sigh of relief. Never fun to be in that situation though! If you are a pet owner and in Northern Virginia, make sure you know where this place is (for your reference, it’s in Vienna off of Main St. if you turn left where the Chipotle, Noodles & Co., etc are.)

And my other piece of advice for pet owners is also to GET PET INSURANCE. I use Embrace Pet Insurance and they’re awesome (and I’m not just saying that because some of their amazing customer service team reads my blog, hehehe.) Seriously, yesterday would have been almost a $600 day for me with everything that happened, but with pet insurance I know I’ll be getting a lot of it back. Plus, Harry & Daxter’s pictures are scattered all throughout the site!

Anyway, that’s my “exciting” adventure from yesterday for you. All’s well that ends well, I guess! Obviously you guys see a lot of my dogs here on the blog, as well as how much I love them (to say the least!), so now I want to hear about you! Do you have a pet? What kind? Are you a dog person? Cat person? If you don’t have a pet, but want one, what’s keeping you from doing it?