Marathon Weekend, Marathon Post

This week has been a little rough. I intended to share my wonderful marathon weekend of family fun on Monday or Tuesday, but instead I attempted to sleep away Laryngitis and a nasty head cold on my first ever sick day from work. I am starting to feel better and am thankful to finally have this post up and ready after my relaxing Saturday morning at home with lots of Guster and hot coffee. So, here it goes, the events of last weekend...

My parents arrived on Friday for a weekend of sight seeing and Christmas shopping before the big Minneapolis blizzard hit on Saturday morning. My mom flew in from MN early Friday night without a hitch, and Chuck made it into the city from Newark with only an hour delay. We started our fun-filled weekend in Astoria. After seeing my Christmas tree and adding some new ornaments that my mom brought from home, we walked over to Five Napkin Burger for dinner. They are not joking with the restaurant's name; the  burgers are delicious and juicy enough for several napkins. We caught up over spinach artichoke dip, burgers, an array of fries and onion rings, and a couple shakes. Yum.
On Saturday morning, we met up early at one of my favorite holiday spots in the city- the tree at Rockefeller Center. I usually go at night, when you can see the lights twinkle and barely move in the sea of tourists and locals standing shoulder to shoulder trying to get the perfect view of the tree. I was pleasantly surprised when I met my parents at 9:30 to find the area calm, quiet, and far from crowded. We took our time walking around the tree, watching skaters circle around the famous rink. We also got to walk up the angel-lined sidewalk, which is usually too crowded to even attempt at night. It was a really great way to start the day.
After walking around the tree and the angel-lined walkways around Rockefeller Center, we continued our NYC holiday tour up 5th Avenue. We admired the brightly lit bows covering Cartier and Tommy Hilfiger and the beautifully decorated store front windows of Henri Bendel's and Bergdorf Goodman's. And with each new store and holiday inspired window, we took a quick peek inside to see the decorations elaborately placed above jewelry counters and around holiday-themed displays. The ballerinas in Henri Bendel's were definitely my favorite.
After hours of holiday enjoyment uptown, we headed down to the lower east side for breakfast. Destination: Donut Plant. Rated one of the top donut shops in the city, Donut Plant does not disappoint with its unique flavors and square yeast donuts. We patiently waited in the line that wrapped around the small store and outside as we picked out the six donuts we wanted to try. We picked a cinnamon bun and five donuts: pomegranate, peanut butter with blackberry filling, coconut cream filled, blackout (lots of chocolate), and gingerbread. We sat tucked in the front corner of the store sipping hot coffee and trying our assortment. They were all delicious, but my favorite was definitely the peanut butter and jelly. Donut Plant definitely lived up to its rave reviews, but I think Peter Pan is still my favorite donut shop in the city.
We walked straight from Donut Plant to Babycakes, a vegan bakery also located in the lower east side. We had wanted to check out the bakery for awhile, but were too full from our donuts to eat anything once we got there. So, we stocked up on some gluten-free cookies for later. The girls working there were so nice, and the bakery was filled with the delicious smell of fresh baked cookies and cakes.
Instead of walking back to the F train, we decided to try to walk off some of our donuts as we wandered through neighborhoods until we reached the 6 train on the edge of Little Italy. We stumbled upon Papabubble, a small candy store that makes all of its products on the premises (and in front of you). We watched as cinnamon candies were stretched and cut, and got to try a piece that was still warm.
We took the 6 train uptown to Union Square, where we browsed jewelry, art, and other unique gifts at the holiday market. I make a point to go here every Christmas, and am always delighted to see my favorite vendors and new booths with original, handmade gifts. After walking around and seeing some potential presents, we walked up to Fishs Eddy on Broadway. I had never been to the store before, but had heard great things about it from co-workers. After a few minutes of browsing the dishes and kitchenware, I knew I would have a huge wish list of glasses, mugs, vases, and serving trays. I am in love with almost everything in the store! I will be purchasing many gifts there in the future.
Our holiday shopping continued in Bryant Park, where we looked in the booths circling another beautifully lit tree. From there, we walked to Lord & Taylor's to see the famous holiday windows. As we waited in line to get a front row view of the picturesque scenes, the smell of roasted chestnuts drifted towards as the waves of holiday shoppers strolled by.
True to form, Chuck stepped out of line to buy a water and came back with a hot dog and a guilty look on his face.
By the time his dirty water dog was consumed, we made it to the front of the line and got to take in the 12 magical Christmas scenes in the holiday windows. Lord & Taylor asked its fans to submit their favorite New York City holiday memories, and then selected their top twelve and recreated them for their 2010 windows. Ohs and ahs were heard as each scene appeared, and the women next to us quietly sang Christmas songs as they looked at each of the displays. Reading the captions and watching the mechanical dolls snap pictures, open presents, and decorate fire escapes reminded me of the years my family and I went to the Dayton's 8th floor auditorium at Christmas time to see the magical scenes of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, and countless other childhood favorites. All I needed was a big gingerbread man cookie with Red Hot eyes and a mouth at the end to make my recreated memory complete. The windows were not quite as magical as my family traditions from when I was younger, but the fact that I was looking at them with my mom and Chuck in such a magical city made them pretty damn close.
We had one more market to browse before calling it a day. We went back downtown to Chelsea Market to stock up on some gifts and check out their holiday sale. We tasted samples of homemade chocolate, browsed hand crafted jewelry, and found one of a kind gifts. I don't know if it is the community of artists, the thrill of shopping, or the purchasing of gifts for others, but the holiday markets in the city make me so incredibly happy. And to get to check out three in one day made me pretty high on the Christmas shopping, gift buying life.
After our busy day Saturday, we decided to start Sunday with a late brunch at Rocking Horse Cafe in Chelsea. Rain was pouring down in monsoon-like proportions throughout the morning, so I was nervous as I ventured from my borough back to Manhattan in my Hunters. Luckily, my parents and I made it to the restaurant without getting wet. Brian, who arrived ten minutes later, was not as lucky. He walked in soaked, aside from the six inches of his pants that were covered by his coat and his shirt. Literally, soaked. We felt so bad! He slowly dried  off sitting on napkins with his shoes off as we dined on delicious Mexican food and sipped large cups of coffee.
After Brian finished drying off and our plates were scraped clean, we walked to Limelight to... (can you guess?) shop. I found a new pair of Hunters that I love, we sipped hot coffee, and snacked on a peanut butter and chocolate Rice Krispie treat with sea salt. Our Sunday shopping continued at the Grand Central Holiday market, and concluded back in Union Square where we stocked up on our final gifts of the weekend.
The weekend was perfectly chock full of family, good food, and plenty of holiday cheer (and shopping). It was everything I could ask for. I am always thankful when friends and family come to visit me in New York City because it allows me to be a tourist in a place that still amazes me after seven years. I would gladly trade my normal weekends of the gym, grocery shopping, and laundry for ginormous Christmas trees, shopping, delicious food, and most important, time with the ones I love.


  1. Too funny - our paths crossed all day Saturday!! I'm hoping to post some pics today :)

  2. I thought they might, especially since I took my parents to all the big holiday spots! Can't wait to see your pictures and hear more about your trip!


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