365 Days and (Roughly) 900 Miles Later

Beginning October 26, 2016, everything that I knew to be “normal” drastically changed. City life is noisy and busy ALL the time. Even something as simple as falling asleep to new sounds — like the hissing of the radiator — proved to be challenging. Then you add in more complicated challenges like learning to adjust to street parking and the street cleaning schedule, figuring out the subway system, and locating the best spots to get your groceries.

As you can imagine, these changes quickly started to overwhelm me; however, the one piece of advice that I continued to receive from previous as well as current New Yorkers was to give yourself time to adjust. This truly is the best advice anyone could give for transitioning to the city, but what they didn’t tell you was what a fight it would be to allow yourself to learn and adjust. I wanted to feel comfortable and know what I was doing right away, but obviously that was an unrealistic expectation which led to frustration. It took a solid 3 months for me to begin to feel comfortable with the nuances of city life, but by no means did that mean I was completely adjusted in that short amount of time. The more I learned how to be patient with myself and my adjustment, the quicker things started to feel “normal.” I still have my days where I get fed up with living in such a big, crazy city, but for the most part I have accepted these things as normal and can take them in stride.

Jessica’s Year One NYC Fun Facts:

  • I now know what a good bagel tastes like. If you have never eaten a NYC bagel then you are missing out! I can honestly say that I have not had a bad bagel since I moved here.
  • One of the benefits of living in such a diverse area is trying new foods! One of the best foods I have tried here is a banh mi sandwich, a Vietnamese sandwich with meat and a mixture of fresh and pickled vegetables.
  • My definition of “within walking distance” has changed dramatically. The first few times we went out after we moved everything seemed so far away. Now if something is less than a 30-minute walk, it feels like nothing.
  • Living more simply due to smaller spaces can be a challenge, but it can also be enjoyable. Finding space for everything in our one-bedroom apartment was just the challenge for my organizer brain.
  • Christmastime in NYC lives up to all the hype. It is simply magical.
  • I lose track of how many car horns, sirens, and car alarms I hear on a daily basis. Some days the noises can seem incessant.
  • Living in NYC has boosted my confidence. I struggle with directions, but if I can find my way around the city by myself (with the help of my iPhone, of course) than anyone can do it!
  • New Yorkers aren’t patient, except when they are waiting for an elevator.
  • I have walked roughly 900 miles* since moving to NYC, and I now keep a log of how many miles I walk each day. (*mileage based on info from my health app for iPhone)

Moving to the city wasn’t exactly in my plans, but 365 days later, I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity I have to call NYC my home. I have found many things that I enjoy about city life, and I am looking forward to what this next year holds.

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Favorite Fall Nail Colors

One of the first things people tend to notice about me is that I LOVE to paint my nails. The obsession started in college with another polish-obsessed roommate. She had a whole shoe box full of different nail colors and let me borrow whatever color I wanted. It was then that I really started to experiment with different nail colors and found the whole process of painting my nails very relaxing. Now, painting my nails is something I look forward to each week.

All that being said, this time of year is the perfect time to wear some of my favorite colors. I start to phase out the lighter, brighter colors of summer and transition to the deep, rich jewel tones of fall.


Here are a few favorites from my own personal collection.

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I like to try and mix up my favorite neutral shades with some bolder colors, like blues and purples. What are your go-to colors for fall?

Menu Monday

Panicking about what to cook for dinner this week? Let me help! Try out one of these recipes that we are having this week.


MondayOven Baked Chicken Fingers with sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli

Tuesday Slow Cooker Hawaiian Shredded Chicken – We like to eat it in a bowl over rice with all of the toppings piled on top.

WednesdayTurkey Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats **NEW Recipe Alert: This is a new recipe for us this week, and I am anxious to see how it turns out!**

ThursdayJerk Chicken with Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice and steamed broccoli – To make the cauliflower rice quicker and easier to make, I pick up a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s!

Friday – Breakfast for Dinner! – Some of our favorites are scrambled eggs with diced bell pepper and tomatoes, pancakes (our favorite mix is Kodiak Cakes) or toast with almond butter and sliced banana, fruit, and plain Greek yogurt with granola.


Happy Cooking 🙂

NYC Essentials

One of the things we love about NYC is the ease of getting around by walking or taking public transit; however, this change of lifestyle came with a serious learning curve. Here are some of our daily essentials for our new on-the-go life in the Big Apple:

  1. A good bag (or two) – I have two bags that I switch between on a regular basis. The main bag I use is a larger tote bag (similar to this bag). I normally try and keep very limited items in my bag in order to be able to throw smaller purchases in my bag as I shop and walk. A zipper closure is the key feature for me in a bag; it helps to make me feel that my valuables are protected as I walk around NYC. The second bag I have is this smaller crossbody bag, which works perfectly for exploring the city. Once again, the main thing I looked for was a zipper closure, but I was also searching for a crossbody bag that was large enough to store a few extra things besides my wallet and glasses case.
  2. A grocery cart – One of the first things I noticed after moving to NYC was the number of people pushing around little carts. It didn’t take me very long to realize the necessity of having a grocery cart mainly due to the unpredictability of street parking. Despite all this, it still took me months to finally break down and purchase my own. Now, I don’t know how I survived without one!
  3. Good listening materials – Podcasts are my new favorite thing! With all of the walking we do on a daily basis, it is so nice to have something interesting to listen to in order to help pass the time. In a later post, Ryan and I will share some of our favorite podcasts.
  4. Good shoes – It didn’t take long after moving to NYC for me to realize that some of the shoes I owned were not going to cut it for city life. I quickly began the search for comfortable and durable shoes that were also cute. One of the best options that I have found are these slip-on Keds. The rubber soles are perfect for long days of exploring in the city.
  5. LOTS of hand sanitizer – When your main form of transportation is the same for millions of other people as well, you learn to carry hand sanitizer with you at all times AND apply often. Need I say more?

This list is not exhaustive by any means, but I hope that it gives a little glimpse into some of the adjustments we had to make as we began to navigate city life for the first time.

Menu Monday

Tired of cooking the same recipes? Give one of these a try this week!


 

Monday Enchilada Skillet – This recipe comes together so quickly AND is even better reheated as leftovers for lunch the next day!

Tuesday Asian Turkey Meatballs with rice and snap peas – I roast my snap peas in the oven following this recipe from a Trader Joe’s fearless flyer. (to find the recipe, read to the end of the article.)

Wednesday – Spaghetti served with broccoli and bread

ThursdayBell Pepper Egg Boats with chicken sausage and toast **Disclaimer: This is a new recipe for us this week, so I am unsure of how this recipe will turn out**

FridayPulled Pork with sweet potatoes and green beans – Remember those pulled pork sandwiches from a few weeks ago? I froze the leftovers and will simply warm them up for a quick dinner!

 


 

Happy Cooking 🙂

Pumpkin Picks

I am going to be honest with you all; fall is not my favorite time of year. Now before you break out the pitchforks and storm my apartment, give me a chance to explain myself. The beginning of fall marks the end of my favorite season, summer, and is a reminder that winter and cold temperatures are coming. However, there is one thing that helps to excite me about the cooler autumn months — Pumpkin. Ryan and I aren’t obsessed with ALL things pumpkin, but we do enjoy getting our fill this time of year. Here are some of our favorite pumpkin flavored items we like to enjoy each fall season.

  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix – This is by far our absolute favorite pumpkin item of all time. It is so good that we continue to eat these muffins as long as Trader Joe’s continues to carry the mix — which last year was well into the winter months.
  • Pumpkin Pie Larabars – Larabars are our favorite, so when we saw this flavor in stores a few years ago, we had to give it a try! This seasonal flavor will only last in stores for a limited time, so make sure to grab a box soon. I have seen Target stores carry the pumpkin pie flavor in the past, AND for those of you looking to save a little money, coupons.com occasionally has a free printable coupon for $1.00 off a box of Larabars.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Swirl – For us coffee lovers, nothing is better during the fall than a pumpkin spice latte.  Unfortunately, Starbucks famous PSL doesn’t cut it for us, but with the discovery of Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Swirl flavoring, we are now able to enjoy the cult favorite. We simply ask for a dark roast coffee and add the pumpkin swirl flavoring instead of opting for the latte. The latte can be a little too sweet at times, but this alternative is the perfect balance between the naturally bitter flavor of the coffee and the sweetness of the pumpkin.
  • Pumpkin Pie Bagel from Panera Bread – Being a MyPanera rewards member has its perks, for instance getting a free bagel every day for the entire month. I was offered this reward for the month of September, which just so happens to be the time when Panera Bread releases their pumpkin pie bagel. Ryan and I usually like to wait until October to partake in pumpkin flavored products, but this year we HAD to make an exception in order to indulge in a few pumpkin pie bagels.
  • Trader Joe’s October Fearless Flyer – Now I know this is not a food, but Trader Joe’s offers a plethora of new pumpkin products each year. If you are looking for something new to try, just read through their flyer. I found dozens of new products that I want to try!

These are a few of our current favorites. Considering that pumpkin seems to continue to grow in popularity each year, we are always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy it. This year we are hoping the pumpkin spice flavored cereals are really as good as they look! What pumpkin flavored foods get you excited about the fall season??