Memory Lane

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

When I moved to New York, I gave my parents about five boxes to store. Those boxes included irreplaceable things that I didn’t feel comfortable shipping to myself, including my collection of photo albums from the pre-digital camera days. I wouldn’t look at those old photos too often when I had them, but thinking about something happening to the only physical copies of these memories gave me so much anxiety! So this Christmas, while I was visiting my parents, I managed to scan about 300 old photos.

It’s so funny to see how I’ve changed throughout the years…

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A New Years Trip To Paris

January 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

To top off the busiest travel month I’ve ever had, Nick and I flew to Paris on an overnight flight on the eve of December 28th. We had heard that it was a great place to celebrate New Years Eve and thought “why not?”.

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We decided to splurge on a nicer, more comfortable hotel since we wouldn’t be spending quite so much time outside. We settled on the wonderful Hotel Relais Saint Germain, located in the 6th arrondissement of Saint Germain. There was a view of a tree with books hanging from its branches from our room (above) and even free wifi!

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Like Stockholm, we crashed as soon as we got to our hotel (red eye flights are awful) and woke up later that afternoon to get some dinner and walk around a little.

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We were both obsessed with Shakespeare & Company and decided to see Notre Dame again since it looked so pretty at night.

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The next morning, we got up in time to enjoy our hotel’s free breakfast. This is no Best Western continental breakfast. We were given a basket of very fresh croissants and baguettes, fresh juice, a cup of orange slices, amazing cheese, and ham sliced right off of a pig’s leg on display at the bar. And of course, amazing coffee. After this deliciousness, we walked along the Seine to Musee D’Orsay.

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This museum is made from an old train station and is so beautiful. Unfortunately, a gazillion other visitors to the city had the same plan as us, so we didn’t spend too much time inside. It was very cool to see some Van Goghs, Monets, and Renoirs in person though!

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It’s hard to tell, but this room was absolutely PACKED. You’re not supposed to take photos here, which I just don’t think is right, so I did anyways. Someone was poking me on the shoulder to scold me as I walked away. But look, that guy’s doing it too!

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Walking down along the left bank, we found more visual treats, like some Arago Line markers. AKA Rose Line, if you’re a Dan Brown fan or a conspiracy theorist.

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I guess I was supposed to stop in here, but didn’t!

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The view of the Louvre from across the river.

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I see you, Nick!

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One place I wanted to make sure we went was Les Deux Magots, a cafe that used to be an old literary and arts hang out. Hemingway, Wilde, Camus, Picasso, Sartre. Think: Midnight In Paris.

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Nick The Coffee Hater even drank a cappuccino here!

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This visit, we spent most of our time in Saint Germain and didn’t even get on the subway. It’s such a great neighbourhood with so many shops, cafes, restaurants, etc, we didn’t even have to. On another note, look how generously they fill your glass of wine in Paris!

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Of course, we also had to go back to curiosity and taxidermy shop, Deyrolle!

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And see the Louvre at night.

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Such a beautiful place.

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The following day included a visit to Saint Sulpice church and much more cheese, bread, wine, and coffee.

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That night, we had New Years Eve dinner reservations at Pinxo, so we got dolled up to celebrate right.

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Our prixe fixe meal was 5 delicious courses, including my favourite, dessert with macaroons!

After dinner, we walked to the river so we could watch the Eiffel Tower’s light show for the countdown to midnight.

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Once, it was 2013, we walked back to Saint Germain over the Pont de l’Archevêché bridge to add our love lock. This was by far the most romantic New Years Eve I’ve ever had!

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We spent New Years Day, our last day in Paris, with more walking and eating. A walk through Jardin Du Luxembourg was absolutely beautiful on this warm, sunny day.

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We spent our last night in Paris at the movies! We’d been meaning to see Argo for months and it was playing around the corner from our hotel. Who would have thought we’d finally see this American movie in English with French subtitles?

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Thanks for a lovely time, Paris! Such a magical city that we hope to return to someday for more coffee, bread, wine, and cheese!

More Paris:

2012: A Year In Review

January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

2012 was “The Year Of Yes” for Nick and I. We wanted to make it the best possible, doing what we wanted when we wanted, within reason, of course. This attitude led to some pretty great moments and incredible experiences. I also fell even more in love with yoga, specifically Ashtanga, and turbocharged my practice into a 4-5 times a week affair which led me into new poses I never expected to be able to do. There were sad moments this year too, especially in February, but overall, 2012 was the best one I’ve had in years.

JANUARY

– On Friday the 13th, Nick & I went to see/experience the incredible Sleep No More.

– That same morning, I danced my heart out before 10am at Creative Mornings with Girl Walk All Day.

– Filed for an LLC and made my business official. No more freelancing for me!

FEBRUARY

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– The beginning of the month, my family faced a tragedy. Jenn’s nearly full-term baby suddenly passed away a week before her due date. We’ll always remember Everett, even though we didn’t get to meet him.

– Nick and I met my parents in Jamaica for a sunny vacation.

MARCH

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– I flew to Canada for a week-long visit, where I stayed with Jenn and her family. This included lots of playing with their new puppy, Biscuit.

– I tried an incredibly challenging Soulcycle class – right after Jake Gyllenhaal worked out in the same room.

– Mad Men season 5 premiered and I fell in love with the show all over again.

APRIL

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– Flew to London for a long weekend. We got to see Nick’s client Frank Turner headline his first arena show and Abbey Road!

– I helped set a record at the World’s Largest Rainbow Parade RecordSetter Event.

– Finally bought a bike worth more than $100. What a difference!

MAY

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– Spent a weekend in Ohio for Alex and Erin’s lovely barn wedding.

– Started a subscription to Lancaster Farm Fresh weekly vegetable share and farm fresh eggs. Best decision of 2012!

– Had a quick trip to Toronto to see Frank Turner and Baroness, along with some friends and family.

JUNE

Kate, Jenn & Lisa at Risotteria

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– Saw an amazing Radiohead show in Newark.

– My sister Jenn came for a weekend visit!

– The first Long Island beach visit of the year with Kate.

– Gave a sweaty-faced testimonial in a video for my favourite yoga studio.

– Went to the Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island solo, but met up with many ex- & current TAG friends and my good Torontonian bud, Travis Bradley!

JULY

Kate, Bryan and Nick

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– Took a weekend road trip to Baltimore with Kate and Bryan. Survived the worst thunderstorm driving conditions on the way there so that we could see fish in their aquarium, go to a baseball game, and eat at a Brazilian steak house.

– Celebrated our second wedding anniversary with Nick by getting massages. So goooood.

– Rewrote my NYC + Brooklyn City Guide, complete with different categories, to appease all the NYC visitors!

AUGUST

Me, Mike, and Nick

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– Went to Massachusetts to visit Nick’s best friend Mike, but we also went WHALE WATCHING! I saw humpback whales for the first time and it was one of the coolest moments of my life.

– Finally upgraded from a Blackberry to an iPhone.

– Collected a ton of paperwork and “proof of relationship” to renew my green card and have the conditional status of my permanent residency removed. Filed it myself and felt very accomplished.

– Flew to Toronto for a 10-day visit that started with a Bachelorette Party Cottage Weekend for Julia! Was so incredibly happy to spend 4 days in a cottage with some of my best friends that I only get to see a few times a year.

SEPTEMBER

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Julia and Jay got married! I was so happy to be able to celebrate with them and stand up for Julia as a bridesmaid. I was also pretty happy to partake in the best dance party in years at their reception.

– Finally succeeded in doing headstand in the middle of the room! I have still never fallen (knock on wood).

OCTOBER

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– Celebrated a great 31st birthday.

– Helped Nick celebrate his birthday and had our first joint birthday dinner ever with some of our best friends.

– Went to Chicago to see Smashing Pumpkins in their hometown!

– New York got hit by Hurricane Sandy. We hunkered down, but were very very lucky to not have any damage.

NOVEMBER

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– My parents came to visit us for the first time since we got married!

– Went to a special Creative Mornings talk by George Lois at the Met.

– Kate and Bryan got married at city hall!!! They were engaged for over 3 years before finally tying the knot at Manhattan’s city hall and now they are pregnant!

DECEMBER

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– Saw Neil Young & Crazy Horse with Patti Smith at Brooklyn’s new venue, Barclay’s Center.

– Nick and I flew to Sweden for a long weekend to see his band Ghost. We were so happy about this opportunity, even though it was a whirlwind trip!

– After a few months of practicing, I was finally successful in doing a real Ashtanga back bend!

– Celebrated Christmas with my family in Oshawa and Fenelon Falls.

– Flew home from Canada on Boxing Day then flew to Paris less than 2 days later! Celebrated New Year’s Eve by adding a love lock to Pont de l’Archevêché. Romantic!

If you finished this post, I applaud you! How was your 2012?

Happy New Year From Paris!

December 31, 2012 § 2 Comments

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After staying in and watching When Harry Met Sally for the past four New Years Eves, Nick and I went out with a bang this year. First of all, we’re in Paris. Second, we had a delicious, rich 5-course meal at Pinxo tonight where dessert was the best part.

Third, after walking over the bridge from the Left Bank to the Louvre last night, I was reminded of all of the love locks on the one foot bridge. After doing a bit of research,  we found out that by placing a padlock on the bridge, it is a sign of a couple’s everlasting love. (We also found out that the Parisians hate it, but what else is new.) We decided this morning that this would be our New Year’s celebration rather than going to the Eiffel Tower, which was sure to be packed with people.

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After watching the countdown with the Eiffel Tower from across the Seine, we walked over to the Pont de l’Archevêché and put a brass lock on the bridge with a billion others.

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A very romantic start to 2013! Happy New Year, everyone! xoxo

Christmas 2012

December 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

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It wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Canada to see my family. Nick and I flew up very early, a 7:45 am flight, on Saturday and headed to my parents’ place in Fenelon Falls.

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We spent the first two days of our Christmas visit in the woods, on the river, which was lovely and quiet. It was great to catch up with my parents, just the four of us. On Sunday, I scanned about 300 photos from my old photo albums that are still being stored in their garage (stay tuned for a post from that later!) and that night, we went out for a really nice dinner at Pane Vino in Lindsay.

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On Monday, we all drove down to Oshawa for the Christmas celebrations with the rest of my family at the Martin’s house.

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I hadn’t seen Ryan and Suzanne since May!

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And it was so good to see my cute little niece and nephew.

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We all hung out, eating and drinking and talking until it was time to eat. Lucky for Jenn, my Mom still makes the turkey even when dinner isn’t at her house.

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For the past couple years, my family has celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, which means eating our big turkey dinner and exchanging presents that night.

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Ben and Jillian got their first Alfie toy this year and they fell in love with him.

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When it was time for bed, Ben was so sad that Alfie had to go back to the North Pole that he kept getting choked up, telling us it “pulled on his heartstrings” that he had to leave until next Christmas.

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He’s pretty much the sweetest little boy there ever was.

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On Christmas morning, the kids actually slept in until almost 8:00!

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Ben was thrilled to get a Polar Express train and Jillian was so happy just to get her “baby seal named Pearl” from Santa.

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That day, we relaxed, visited, and ate even more.

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I love my family!

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I hope you all had a great Christmas too!

A Weekend Trip To Sweden

December 17, 2012 § 7 Comments

Sure, it sounds a little crazy to take a weekend trip to Sweden, especially the weekend before we fly to Canada for Christmas, which is followed immediately by a New Year’s Eve trip to Paris, but we did it anyway! Why? Because there’s only a few weeks left in The Year Of Yes and we’ve got to make it as incredible as possible.

Nick and I took the 6pm flight from Newark on Thursday, which landed us in Stockholm at 8am Friday, Sweden time. We took the very speedy and enjoyable Arlanda Express train from the airport to Stockholm City and enjoyed a 20 minute ride with views of snow and snow-covered trees.

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We immediately checked into our hotel which was walking distance from the train station, and after barely sleeping on the plane ride there, fell asleep for a couple hours. When we woke up around 2:00, we realized from the amazing view from our room that the sun had begun to set. Apparently the sun sets at about 2:45pm in the winter there! This was an interesting addition to our bodies’ confusion of what time it was.

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We decided to venture out and find some lunch/dinner/breakfast/whatever meal it was supposed to be at this point, and found this great area full of shops.

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Oh, Conor Oberst is big there too.

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Even though I felt like I should be eating meatballs and lingonberries, we ended up eating fajitas. 500 dollar fajitas! Just kidding, it was 500 kronor. $1 USD = roughly 7 kronor. Which means these fajitas were still pretty expensive.

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We left our meal and decided to explore the shops. Then it started snowing!

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Big, fluffy, pretty snowflakes.

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Found a mall with some great stores, including an awesome designy-type, full of fun trinkets.

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Including the “i-Woody” wooden iPhone for kids. Made by “Donkey”.

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Chocolate balls are huge there. Like giant donut holes, covered in crunchy, minty things. Yum!

I loved being able to shop at Vera Moda! As soon as I saw a giant photo of Alexa Chung outside the store, I knew it would be good.

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We relaxed in our hotel room that night – our very Swedish, subtly well-designed hotel room.

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And enjoyed being dressed in matching flannel.

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Saturday’s outfit. I was so glad I packed my Tretorn boots. We got up fairly early to say goodbye to Stockholm and take the train to Linkoping.

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The train stations and airports in Sweden are awesome. Very clean and modern, with great and subtle design. This room was designed to be an “oasis” to relax in while you were traveling. It played bird noises from speakers so it sounded like you were in a rainforest.

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Maybe we could go to Uppsala instead to visit Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist?

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Nope, we are going to Linkoping to see Nick’s band, Ghost!

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They were debuting their new stage show with the new (but equally terrifying) priest outfit.

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Hard to see, but the “white Papa” priest was saying goodbye to unveil the new “black Papa”. Their fans went bananas. It was interesting to experience a show in Sweden. Although a show full of metal heads, everyone was pretty respectful and well-behaved. Swedes are awesome. And also really good-looking.

Some backstage doodles in Ghost’s dressing room.

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After the show, we went to the after party, but only after hanging around the venue after the show had ended for way longer than expected. We both knew we weren’t getting a decent sleep since we had to leave our hotel at 5:30am to head back to Stockholm for the airport. We just went with it and ended up talking Batman with the singer of Watain while he tried (unsuccessfully) to get me drunk on gin.

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(Beer can-filled snowbank in front of the venue)

And just as quickly as we arrived in Sweden, we left it, landing back in New York around 1:00pm. Nick and I are both so grateful for the opportunity to visit, even in our overtired state. We would love to visit again someday!

Kate & Bryan Get Married

December 9, 2012 § 4 Comments

After being engaged for over 3 years, two of my favourite New Yorkers finally tied the knot last month at City Hall!

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It was a surprise wedding, so there was no talk of it before and even after for a few days. Kate told me about their plan to get hitched the Monday before the Friday they had both taken off work. I was very impressed by their secret-keeping abilities!

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I felt so honoured to be one of only a few guests. Bryan’s Mom, Dad, and brother came, then also a few friends of Kate’s since her family lives in Kansas and Colorado. Of course, I offered my photography skills to them for their last minute wedding – just because you’re only spending $65 to get married doesn’t mean you can’t have photos to remember it!

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We all met at City Hall around 2:00. Bryan’s brother was their witness.

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The place was packed so we entertained ourselves for an hour. It was much busier than when Nick and I were married around noon on a Thursday. As always, it was so fun seeing all the other people getting married, especially what they all chose to wear. Check these guys out! I hope they were marrying each other in those suits.

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Kate looked stunning.

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The groom and his Dad didn’t look so bad either!

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Finally, it was their turn.

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The ceremony at City Hall is about 2 minutes long. Just long enough to make it official with a bit of sentiment and about 10 seconds to tear up in happiness for the lovely couple.

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Bonus: They were married by the same officiant as Nick and I!

It’s official, the Vastanos (or Vastanleys, as I like to call them) are finally married!

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After the ceremony, our group walked around the neighbourhood to take some photos. Only in New York, will you get some wedding photo gems like this.

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But also, this.

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Kate is still Kate, even on her wedding day.

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Lots of walking was done.

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When we snapped enough photos, they decided it was time for one last surprise.

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Bryan and Kate gave his parents a card with a sonogram in it.

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They both agreed, it was one of the best days of their lives.

Congratulations, Kate and Bryan!

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