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NYC Labor Day Weekend 2009

Wow.

First, we must thank American Express for having great bundled hotel/flight deals (Expedia, you had them, too, but your sales kept ending too quickly for us), Paramount Hotel for the great location, Paramount Hotel for your comfortable – – yet so not really – – double-sized bed (you liars!), City Sights tour buses for showing us the city (I think it’s safe to say that you live up to your name), Circle Line for showing us Lady Liberty, American Airlines for keeping us safe and for $40 less in our pockets (I shake my fist at you baggage fees!), TKTS for getting us in to a real Broadway show for “cheap”, Mary Poppins the New Musical for allowing me to relive my childhood in an incredible way, 9th Avenue for having amazing restaurants, oh and the house cleaning lady who did not know what “Privacy Please” signs really meant and gave us a clean room every day – – even when we didn’t want one.

We arrived in New York City the Friday before Labor Day.  We checked into our room at the Paramount Hotel, made a pseudo plan for the evening, then made the short one block trek to Times Square.  Our goal was to just explore Times Square, find some New York style pizza, and possibly get discount tickets to a Broadway show.  We wondered up and down Times Square, taking it all in, hoping to run into TKTS and score some tickets.  After about an hour, we finally stumbled across one (Broadway and 46th maybe?!).

What happened next led to probably one of my favorite moments at NYC.  We scored majorly discounted tickets to Mary Poppins for that night, about 20 rows from the stage.  Definitely one of those wow, I feel blessed moments.  And because of our new found plans, the evening took on a bit of a different plan.

New York style pizza was still on the list for supper, and there just so happened to be a delicious looking place right next to our hotel, Patzeria.  Off we went, folding our pizza in half, eating it in this cute little restaurant only big enough for four bar stools, the giddiness growing in my everyone moment for what was in store, and then we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before the play.

Seeing a Broadway show was incredible.  Disney renovated what is now known as the New Amsterdam Theater, and it is gorgeous.  We actually got to take  pictures inside, but they do not do it justice.  One of the most unbelievable things for me about the play was the set on stage.  They actually constructed an almost life-size doll house for 17 Cherry Tree Lane, and they would roll it back and forth to the front, as well as raise and lower the third floor (where the children’s room is) for certain scenes involving just Mary Poppins and the children, or when they would run into Bert up on the roof.  I am doing a horrible job that does not do the set justice, but I promise it was incredible.  It was something that I’d think real architects would have to had build!

Besides the set, the dancing, acting, singing, all of it was incredible.  It may be a silly little kids story to some, but it really isn’t.  It was amazing.  I have not stopped thinking about the experience.  I am not as cultured to theater as Jeff, him being a thespian once, but it is something I’ve grown interested in over the past few years.  Between this experience and seeing the touring Broadway play Wizard of Oz in Nashville in January, I am now hooked.  I cannot wait for my next Broadway show!

Saturday was one of two days we spent on a double decker tour bus.  We got a package that gave us 48 hours to use the buses, and we could hop on and hop off at stops as we pleased.  Places we saw included Downtown Manhattan, many of the villages, Macy’s (and we shopped, too), Empire State Building, New York City Museum (we got off here, too, but I don’t know that I really enjoyed it), Central Park (more to come on this later), Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center, several of the Broadway and Off Broadway theaters, and the night tour took us over the Manhattan Bridge to give us a good view of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn (beautiful).

While on one of the tours, we were told that 9th Avenue was the place to eat.  So we ate a couple times over there.  We ate at 5 Napkin Burger (yum!) and Amarone (Italian and also delish!).  Other eateries included the Carnegie Deli (wasn’t a huge fan), Roxy Delicatessen for some delicious New York style cheesecake, and a pizza place over by Central Park.

Sunday night, after a day of touring on the bus, we made our way over to Pier 83 to hop on Circle Line and drive (boat?) by the Statue of Liberty.  That was a beautiful sight.  Monday morning we checked out, boarded our bags at the hotel, and then headed over to Central Park.  We saw most of the southern half, and it was gorgeous.  The building that John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived in (apparently she is still there), and also where John was shot, is right across the street.  It is a beautiful building, and in Central Park, by the building, is where Strawberry Fields is and the Imagine tribute.  The Plaza Hotel isn’t too far from there, and in the center by the hotel is the location of FAO Schwartz and a rather interesting Apple store.  We visited both. We also took a hop, skip, and a jump (well, quite more than that) over to Serendipity to try the Iced Hot Chocolate.  It was good, but I think it would’ve been awesome hot (defeats the purpose, I know).  But I was bummed to discover, when rewatching the movie Serendipity after we got home that Monday night, that the scenes filmed in the store were filmed upstairs, which is where we did not go.  So close!

So anway, here is a look into our little weekend getaway.  I hope you enjoy…

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My husband is the Director of Marketing at Adventures In Missions (AIM).  AIM is located in Gainesville, Georgia, but Jeff primarily works out of our home, traveling to Georgia every other month or so for meetings.  He also travels to train missionaries during training camps and even leads a mission trip or two.  But in his day-to-day role, it is hard for me sometimes to remember how important of a guy he is (he is Director after all, that’s big stuff!), because I see him at home all the time, working from the couch one day, the dining room table the next, and sometimes out of his actual office… and even sometimes in pajamas (don’t tell him I told you).    I wouldn’t be surprise if some of you have gotten an email from him while in the bathroom.  Again… I didn’t say a word.

One of his tasks as Director of Marketing is working with media outlets.  He’s helped get AIM into magazines like Relevant, on some radio stations and just recently on CBN News.  The latest, with CBN, was in regards to this photo contest AIM did.  They set up criteria that had to be met, allowed anyone to submit photos that met them, and then awarded cash prizes to winners. These photos were about ministry, many from people that had been on an AIM trip and some that had not.  They were amazing, beautiful, and heart wrenching.  I cannot imagine being a judge for this contest.

CBN had heard about this from a press release and contacted AIM, wanting to do a piece about it.  Jeff did a video chat with them.  I tried embedding the video CBN put together of their chat and some of the pictures that were submitted, but I had lots of trouble, so please take the time and visit the article here.

Is August really over?  Yikes!  Hard to believe. 

The other weekend my parents came to town.  We didn’t do the typical Nashville things (they’ve been here enough times, I’m running out of things to show them!), but we did have a blast.  They got in on a Friday night, just in time for supper.  We made yummy home-made tacos.  I love this meal. Love. It.  Guacamole, limes, flour tortillas.  Wow.  After supper we watched Henry Poole is Here.  Jeff and I had already seen it and loved it, but the parents hadn’t.  So we showed it to them.  I think they liked it.  And man, what a soundtrack!

That Saturday Jeff took Dad to our YMCA.  Dad has always wanted to see it, so they went, only to have their time cut short because someone set off the fire alarm.  So while they were finishing up their workouts at the apartments’ fitness center, Mom and I did what could almost be considered the complete opposite… we made cupcakes.

You see, for awhile now my mom has talked about learning how to decorate cakes.  Then that talk turned into maybe starting a cake business.  If you know her and see her around, you need to encourage her to do it!  She’s always been artsy in regards to being able to draw, so I know she could handle the detailed cake decorating part.  And she is a great baker, too.  Her cookies, both sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, are famous.  Famous, I tell you!  She also makes a mean chocolate cake with chocolate icing.  Now, I’m a white cake with cream cheese icing kind of girl, but this chocolate cake is divine! 

So I think she should do this.  And in trying to help her along, last time Jeff and I were in Illinois, we got her a cupcake book (only because we couldn’t find a cake book at Shopko).  It has some adorable creations in it.  Mom had apparently been experimenting with the puppy dogs, and she brought the supplies here for us to try.  I got to help her make some puppies, and then all four of us devoured the creations.  They were adorable and delicious.  So I continued on, feeding this idea of hers, by taking her to Borders and “making” her buy some awesome cake books.  I use the word “making” loosely, because I didn’t have to twist her arm very hard at all.  Well, actually, there wasn’t even twisting.

Puppy Cupcakes

Mom's is obviously on the left (the pro) and mine on the right (the amateur).

So, we had cupcakes for dessert after another one of Jeff’s infamous meals:  BBQ chicken and corn on the cob. I also love this meal.  The corn on the cob has been amazing this summer, too.  Amazing.

We then spent that Saturday afternoon in downtown Franklin browsing through the shops.  Downtown Franklin is so charming!  Then we headed over to Buca di Beppo for supper.  This is the same thing we had for my birthday, and I really wanted my parents to try the place out.  It was amazing as usual.  Then that Sunday we went to church and hit up Cozymel’s before they hit the road to head back North.  It was a great visit, and a filling one.  Literally.

After they left, Jeff and I went to (500) Days of Summer.  This is a must see movie.  Zooey is adorable in this, and the story is just too cute.  Well and aggravating at times, but cute. 

As for other new things… we’ve been working on the ballroom dancing!  We are really enjoying the lessons.  We have learned the beginnings of the Cha Cha, Rumba, Waltz, Swing, Salsa and Fox Trot.  Before our next lesson, we have to pick two or three that we will continue on learning and add about 15 combinations to our playbook.  We are anxious excited! 

Van Gogh's Almond Branch

Van Gogh's Almond Branch

We also took a stab at painting.  A new place called Sips n Strokes opened up in Cool Springs, and we had a date night there the other night.  Each night, they have a different painting, and there is someone there to teach you how to paint it.  We did a Van Gogh, which I wouldn’t recommend if it’s your first time because of all the details!  I should’ve picked something a little less complicated.  But it was fun, and I’m looking forward to trying it out some more.  If you live in Alabama or are in the Atlanta or Nashville area, you should try it out!  It does not matter your skill level, I promise!  I am the worst ever, and I was surprised at what I could do as an amateur.  It was no Van Gogh, but still…

L-R:  Jeff, Ashley

L-R: Jeff, Ashley