December in NYC (hello, Magic)

so this December 1st post was obviously a fail — i realized as i was falling asleep last night that i’d forgotten to publish it. whoops!

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is it possible to not love December? i don’t know about you, but for me, the word just immediately conjures up all sorts of things merry-&-bright in my mind. sure, it can be really cold, and that can certainly be a bummer…but it’s all part and parcel with the Christmas season. (and anyway, it’s 50 degrees on December 1st here in NYC this year, sooooo there’s that.) i, for one, am really excited about December. i love all things Christmas spirit-y.

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so, to get us into the festive mood, my Chicago blog friend Suzy over at The Suzlyfe posted her December Chicago Bucket List today, and i decided to follow suit and post my own NYC version of a December Bucket List. December is a huge tourist month for NYC, and it’s not hard to see why: the city is absolutely transformed into a holiday haven, and you can’t help but feel festive just walking around this town.

My NYC December Bucket List

1. Bryant Park Winter Village. NYC has several of these little pop-up holiday shoppe villages, and while i enjoy them all, this one is my fave. i’m such a fan of Bryant Park. i’ve actually already hit up this annual Winter Village twice this year (as it opens Halloween weekend, because Christmas can never come to early in NYC) — once with the BFF and her baby, and once with the boy — but i’d love to go back and see it at night, and maybe ice skate or have a drink at Celsius, the modern ice castle/igloo-ish restaurant/bar. tonight is actually the Tree Lighting Skate-tacular, featuring some famous ice skaters (and obviously the lighting of the tree). i’m hoping to swing by briefly, as i have to pass the park on my walk home from seeing clients anyway.

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2. Rockefeller Center. this is an iconic NYC Christmas must-see, so although i doubt i’ll swing by tomorrow night for the tree-lighting ceremony (thousands of eager people packed into one square holds zero appeal for me at the moment), i’ll definitely go see the tree & the skaters & all the holiday fun at some point. i prefer to visit at night — it’s just the prettiest. i actually saw the tree the weekend it went up in November — this year it’s a 78-foot, 10 ton tree from Gardiner, NY — but it clearly was still in the packaging and hadn’t been cut or decorated or anything. it was kind of neat to see it like that and then be able to juxtapose that with the final product in all its glory! i personally really like the angels they put up each year as well. reminds me of what Christmas is really all about. #jesus

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3. Snowboard. okay, so this won’t actually take place in NYC, but it’s definitely on my December list so i’m counting it. my inner snowbunny is so annoyed to have to admit she didn’t make it onto the slopes once last year (i don’t think, at least). not proud of that fact, considering i used to ride several days a week when i was living in Colorado and absolutely love to snowboard. granted, i have to make a real effort to get myself to the slopes living in NYC, but i have no excuses for my weekends home upstate, and this year i’m going to make sure i go as often as possible. the boy’s winter goal is to learn to board (and judging by his athletic ability, i foresee him being Olympic caliber in like 2 days…ugh some people! :)), so hopefully we’ll get on the slopes fairly frequently this year.IMG_0322
4. Make festive cocktails. it’s no secret that i’m a wine chick, but i enjoy a good cocktail now and then, and ever since i read Sarah’s post about an almond “nog”/milk holiday drink, i’ve had it on the brain. i think a good holiday cocktail making sesh is in order at some point and i’ll have to make an effort to find some low-cal/healthier options — something cinnamon-y or gingerbread-y or vanilla-y. mmmm.no clue what this dream of a concoction might be but i’m determined to make a healthy version of it!

5. Walk 5th Ave/ See the Window Displays. this is another iconic NY at Christmastime experience that i don’t want to miss. there’s even a map laying out the stores that are known for their fabulous holiday window scenes! my favorite is always Bergdorf’s — consistently intricate & extravagant & just such a “WOW” factor. i walked by in early November and saw the windows all boarded up, which heightened my excitement for this year’s reveal. i’ve yet to see it in person, but the photos of this year’s dazzling partnership with Swarovski are breathtaking and i’m stoked to see them up close.

here’s a glimpse of one:

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i love it, in all its chaotic, colorful glory. there’s just something so timeless New York about walking up 5th Ave on a December evening and taking all of this splendor in, and i’m looking forward to doing this soon.

Happy December, friends! hope this month starts out wonderfully for you and brings all sorts of holiday goodness & all the warm feelings your way.

What’s on your December bucket list for your city?
What do you love most about this month?
Any good holiday cocktail recipes?

Friday Five: Favorite Winter Activities

linking back up with these Friday party gals for today’s theme:

fridayfiveplease take note of the fact that this is pic i took a few weeks ago near my parents’ house. love it up there in the snow.

1. running.
you can take “Winter” out of this post and it’d still be at the top of my list. fave every season activity. i’m especially loving running outside this (almost) Winter so far, now that i’m braving the dark and it hasn’t been super cold yet.

one of my best memories of Winter running: stopping to pose with my bro as i ran the NYC Half in March 2013. still love him extra much for getting out of bed way earlier than he likes to come cheer me on.

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2. snowboarding.
although i haven’t had a single regret over moving back to NY from Colorado, i do miss CO snowboarding like crazy. one of my fave things to do. i’ll still go on the East Coast, but it just doesn’t compare.

some of my best riding days ever: March 2012, at Copper Mountain (look at that sky!!)

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3. red wine. does this count as an activity? i think so, especially if you’re enjoying lovely conversation with your girlfriends or mom or a boy over some nice wine. i tend to be a seasonal wine drinker: more white/rose in the warm weather, more red in the cold (but let’s be honest, i drink all of it all year ’round)…so yes, i consider this a Winter activity, Hundo P.photo
4. going warm places. NY is cold in the winter. nobody likes to be cold for months on end (‘cept maybe penguins). i like to have a few warm trips sprinkled throughout my winter to give me something to look forward to. and to motivate me to get into bikini-ready mode way before Summer. oh and to mainly remind me that i won’t die before Easter.

on the radar for Winter 2015 so far: Austin, TX in January for my cousin’s bachelorette, and Boca & Miami, FL for my girl Alex’s birthday. prettttty dark stoked about both.

5. napping & reading. (because i love reading, but let’s face it — it usually ends up turning into a nap, sooooo they have to go together.) to be fair, i don’t do a whole lot of napping these days, but i love it. i’m a great napper. i could nap every day, for who knows how long. and when i go home to my parents’ house, forget it — it’s part of my daily routine. sleep 10 hours, go work out, take a 2 hour nap, repeat. it’s, like, a Shawna thing: my friends and fam all know i love to sleep. at night, during the day, in a car, on someone’s shoulder on the couch watching a movie…i’m good to snooze, anytime.

i’ve sent these two images to my bro and two close girlfriends within the past 24 hours and am pretty sure i wrote them when i was asleep and posted them on the internet:

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photo 2so true, so true.

happy Friday, my faves!! xo

What are some of your fave Winter activities?
Anyone snowboarders/skiers? If so, what mountains do you like best?

WILW {2/5/14}

i’ll tell you what i DON’T love on this Wednesday: waking up to a slushy, messy, sleety, rainy gray day with mini lakes hugging all sidewalk corners and hearing from my friends and family upstate about the beautiful, powdery snow they’re getting.

like, why can’t this just be my life all Winter, frolicking and sliding in a pristine flufferland? i’d like to just slap this on my door and call it a season:

goneboardingsigh. a girl can dream.

but i DO love:

*feeding the wanderlust. i’m headed to Boca Raton, FL bright and early tomorrow morning with girlfriends to stay at a fabulous hotel through Sunday night. totally stoked for a few days of beach, sun, warmth, flip flops,  celebrating one of the bff’s bdays, and outdoor workouts. yessss. maybe even find a place to salsa dance while i’m down there??

photo: Shadetree photography

photo: Shadetree photography

 

*inspiration. amazing article about switching up your life to focus on what counts.
my little inner hippie heart leaps at stories where people my age suddenly realize what’s important in their lives and drop everything to pursue it at all costs. i struggle every single day with living in the tension between “that which i must do” and who i am innately, organically, at the very core of my being. the two are in constant conflict (especially lately), and articles like this just send my mind soaring. i’m not saying this is for everyone — i’m saying, when you aren’t living in your “sweet spot” where your life reflects your individual passions and dreams and you find yourself trying to fit into a lifestyle that just isn’t quite you, the sense of being unfulfilled and chasing the wind is quite wearisome.

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but don’t worry, friends: if i sell all my possessions and move to the country to write and snowboard my days away, i’ll still blog about it. 🙂

*prayer. i’ve found myself thinking about prayer quite a bit the last few days, and how little i do of it — effectively, at least — and how much more i’d like to do of it. that which we pray about, we focus on, and we deem important in our lives. my prayers generally revolve around certain things or people or aspects of my life, and when i take a step back and look at that, i realize that those people and areas are usually where i’m most content or engaged or see the most discipline and change. so if i started praying more about that which i would like to act upon, or like to see changed, or what frustrates me the most, well, that certainly can’t hurt — and probably will do a great deal of help, especially in changing my mentality and perspective on situations. so the point is, i need to pray more, and not just reduce my prayer life to little wisps of fragments i manage to get out before falling asleep at night (in those 10 seconds i have between when my head hits the pillow and i’m completely done for). i’ve found that i’m pretty good at “thank you” prayers, which at least means i know how much i have for which to be grateful, but i don’t spend enough concerted time really delving into prayers about my future direction, or utilizing my passions, or the actions i would like my dreams to take.

and that, my friends, should be my 2014 resolution. because i don’t have these dreams and hopes and desires and stirrings for nothing…and they’re not just mine.

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xo.

 

Weekend recap in Upstate, NY

i have to say, my weekends lately have been fantastic. and having a 3-day weekend (thank you, MLK) just makes everything about the week exponentially better, doesn’t it? when Tuesday becomes Monday and Monday means an extra day to play, life just seems that much sweeter.

especially when you fill up those three days with all kinds of wonderful.

one of the best parts of spending my weekends upstate is that i pack them with activity and get my exercise in varied forms. rather than sweating it out in a gym all weekend, i’m changing things up and spending more time outdoors, doing things i love…like

snowboarding with the BFF early on Saturday morning at Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts

board: Burton Lux

board: Burton Lux

and a lovely, picturesque walk around Grafton Lake State Park yesterday, which felt a bit like Narnia, all dazzling white and brilliantly serene.

Photothis was my first time at Grafton Lake, and it was truly charming. i’m rather glad i experienced it in the snow for the first time, as most people go in the warm weather, and it was all but deserted.

the lake was entirely frozen over and we walked right across it to the other side, which was an awesome experience (after i got past the fear of cracking through the ice and drowning a horribly freezing death). the woods were beautiful, the lake was snow-covered and fluffy and dotted with ice fishermen, and a soft, quiet snow fell the entire time. it was a shiver of magic right in the midst of everyday life; one of those unexpected experiences that make life seem so pure and good and beautiful just by its sheer simplicity, and you suddenly catch yourself standing in the midst of a perfect moment entirely unawares of how it caught you up so, but infinitely, inexplicably grateful to have stumbled into it and owned it, deep in your soul.

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i also got a 5.5 mile treadmill run in on Sunday and spent all Saturday night dancing my little heart out at a Latin night, which is always one of my favorite forms of exercise and ways to spend an evening. i’m pretty sure i sweat more after four hours of dancing than i do after any other form of physical exertion, which is a bit messy, but in the best way possible.

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as if all this activity wasn’t enough to keep me buzzing, i also had the amazing experience of watching my best friend in the whole world try on wedding dresses, in the most charming, loveliest of little bridal suites imaginable: DeAnna’s in West Sand Lake.

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sometimes, it’s just so much fun to be a girl. 🙂

hope you had fun weekends, friends!

xoxo

Questions:
What’s your fave way to stay active outdoors in the Winter?
Any weekend highlights?

 

ohhh, 2014. starting off beautifully.

happy new year, friends! i’ve been suuuuuch the procrastinating blogger lately. apparently spending nearly two weeks at home with the fam and friends upstate put me on a hiatus from just about everything involving a computer. sometimes, you just need to unplug and regroup, and spend more time enjoying the magic and beauty in every day life that we so often pass by in our rushrushrush of a daily existence.

there really is so much of the beautiful in our world, and the shame is that we fail to spend enough time basking in it and allowing it to seep over the edges of our lives and into our skin. i pray that in 2014, i spend more time noticing the beautiful in all that i encounter, and embrace this charming world with an open heart and hopeful eyes.

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i woke up Saturday morning bright-n-early to spend the day on the slopes, and the friend i was riding with called me en route to my house to insist i get myself outside and get lost in the sunrise. i padded out in my long johns onto a snow-filled deck in zero degree weather…and all but had the breath knocked out of me by the intensity of such beauty.

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standing solo at 7am against a wildfire sky just beginning to break with the promise of a new day, scarcely minding the biting cold against which i hugged myself, it seemed to me that there was suddenly nothing more i needed in life than the ability to experience the wonder in the natural world around me and know that i was among the very blessed. to fall in love with a sky is one thing; to lose yourself completely in a masterpiece seemingly created just for you, in that one ephemeral moment, was something altogether different. i felt as though i were the only one alive on earth at that moment, and that this was all for me.

talk about starting the day off magnificently.

i snowboarded both days this weekend at Jiminy Peak, a short little drive from my parents’ house, and it was glorious. the days were crystalline blue, the air cold and clear, the conditions pretty darn terrific, and the company outstanding. there’s something about sitting on a chair lift, suspended between sky and earth, swinging past evergreens laden with snow and thinking, “this is as good as life gets, right here. this is true contentment.”

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and until you fall off that chair lift, nothing can infringe upon your sense of absolute belonging. 🙂

here’s to the start of another year, which hopefully grows more wonderfully inviting with each passing day. so far, so great for me. started it off with a salsa party, wonderful people, and shredding the mountains — pretty darn ideal.

happy and blessed beginning to 2014, loves. xoxo

Questions:
Are you into winter sports? Skier/boarder?

What are you looking forward to this year?