The Exodus

2 Oct

Car packed, saying our goodbyes.

Road trips are like boxes of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get. In our case, we were embarking on an 8-hour version, broken up over two days (with an overnight stay in DC), equipped with a toddler in tow and all belongings necessary for a one-month “temporary” housing stay strapped to our roof.

All I can say is, OY GAVALT. This has been quite the 48 hours. We might as well be in a foreign country. In the last two days I’ve:

  • Eaten Chick-Fil-A (despite my very vocal protesting, whining, and dragging of feet all the way to the counter that these people are all crazy religious zealot homophobes, I have to say, their chicken is dope-tastic and the kind, little old woman who comes around and offers to refill your sodas and teas is a pretty sweet fast-food touch.)
  • Signed up for a Harris Teeter loyalty card. The hubs could not be more thrilled that his new, local grocery store can be referred to simply as “the Teet.”
  • Listened to a rendition of “10 little monkeys” in which the monkeys fall out of a tree and are eaten by alligators. I suppose this is the southern version? Our northern tale has the monkeys simply falling out of their bed and bumping their heads and calling their pediatrician for advice.
  • Been told that in order to transfer to a NC driver’s license, I will have to retake the road and written tests. Seriously, NC? #FML
  • Driven past more Romney bumper stickers than I care to count, leading me to shout obscenities through my windshield.
  •  Experienced a Target twice the size of the one back in Mount Kisco. TWICE. I didn’t think that was even possible, but it is. This Target? Stocks everything from produce to wine to craft beer. If ever I had trouble in the past leaving Target without spending under $200, I am in serious, scary, take-away-the-Target-card territory now.
  • Realized that toddlers don’t adjust to change as well as you might think. They are acutely aware of their surroundings, and a move like this can (and has) resulted in a reverting of many manners, rules, and behaviors we thought we had left in the rear view. Like biting. And falling on the floor and writhing around like a lunatic. And not napping. The latter of which is going to be a deal-breaker for my productivity this week. Any tips on handling this transition with the Little? I’ll pay for this advice in dry goods. See previous bullet: I’ve got a Target card and my Target sells wine…

What I will miss most about New York.

28 Sep
  1. My house. I know this house has been on my “what I dislike most” lists over the years. It’s old. It’s creaky. It’s been a labor of love. But man, it’s a cool house, on a cool piece of property, in a cool neighborhood, in a cool town. It is the first “house” I’ve ever owned. It’s where we brought our son home from the hospital. It’s where I hosted my first Thanksgiving. It’s where I grew my first garden. It’s our HOME.
  2. My Kisco crew. You know who you are. You make this town colorful and interesting. I will miss our fun dinners, evenings at Pour, and Tuesday mornings at Starbucks.
  3. The landscape. Getting in my car and just driving through pretty parts of the county is seriously one of my favorite things to do. I could get lost on back roads in Bedford and be happier than ever, just daydreaming and winding my way on pretty roads with horse farms and big gated houses. I truly love the beauty here.
  4. Homages to Italian at Cookery and Tarry Lodge. I’m guessing it will be harder to find real deal Italian grub in the south. Pizza… don’t even get me started. Oh, how I will miss you…
  5. My bestest girlfriends. My bestie Keren, who I’ve known since we were 16, when we trekked through Israel together for six weeks. Laura, who I met at my very first ad agency job in NYC and have been BFs with ever since. Erica, who came into my life in such an interesting way, as our husbands are best friends and we just hit it off – the rest is BF history. And Maria, who I’ve known the least amount of time of all and yet I feel like I’ve known for life (my sista from another mista!). Oh girls, how I will miss our dinners, date nights, coffee dates, weekend getaways, kiddie play dates and time together just being… us. (#sadface)
  6. The pride I feel in being a New Yorker. I came here with nothing; in a U-Haul truck with my girlfriend Marisa, immediately following college graduation. I had no job, no apartment… we scrambled and scrapped and figured it out, as almost every New Yorker does. I overcame a lot my first year living in the big city… and a lifetime’s worth in the coming decade. I worked for great companies, alongside brilliant people, I traveled, I became independent, I grew up, I learned a lot, I built up a thicker skin, I witnessed the largest terrorist attack on America’s soil, I bonded with my fellow New Yorkers and became stronger. I discovered ME. All in New York.
  7. Jack’s daycare. We were insanely lucky – and I feel so fortunate – to have found a daycare as fabulous as Kaleidoscope. They have been instrumental in helping shape the awesome kiddo Jack is today. He’s been there for 18 months now, and moved through 3 classrooms. Each teacher has been so caring, so devoted, and so genuinely interested in the kids and families and lives outside of school. Jack has a great group of friends he’s made while there, and we both will be sad to leave them behind. Today is his last day there, and this morning as I was dropping him off I broke down in tears, as the realization hit me just how much I’m going to miss this place.
  8. My smart, classy, sassy, savvy New York friends. All my blogging friends, my creatives, past co-workers, small business owners, biz partners, and acquaintances. I’m going to miss our chats, our coffees, our Serious Shit meetings, our brainstorms…
  9. Our collective family members. Including my brother, our cousins, my dad (in New Jersey), various aunts and uncles, my sister in law (in Philadelphia). We love having family nearby, and we hope they aren’t just saying it when they tell us they’ll be down to visit. We’re seriously holding them to it. Seriously.
  10. My in-laws. They live 20 minutes from us, and have been such a major part of our lives in every way, especially since Jack was born. We get to see them often, have impromptu visits and dinners together, and call on them for sleepovers with the Little. We are SO going to miss them and their unconditional love and support. (Can you see my heart bleeding as I type? I really, really love my in-laws!!)

We’re in the 48 hour stretch. Moving sucks. I don’t recommend it to anyone… unless of course you’re thinking of packing up and following us down south, which I welcome! More to come soon…

Goodbye, Westchester.

21 Sep

I’m out of here.

And I’ve struggled with how to share this news with my readers. I guess also because truthfully, I’ve been struggling with the news myself.

Westchester Life is moving… to Raleigh.

As some of you know, I’ve grappled with the “should we stay or should we go” conundrum for years. New York has a way of sinking its gritty teeth into you, and making you its bitch. But we got a get out of jail free card: a job offer for my hubby in Raleigh, North Carolina.

When the offer came, it was that moment in the game of chicken where you are forced to actually make a move because the other party is charging at you, full force. Sure, we had talked about leaving New York. I’ve shared with you my love/hate feelings before. But never was it a real, tangible option… at least not one with a real, tangible job offer attached to it. This time was different.

So we flew down, we did some recon, we ate some food, we talked to some people. We drove through neighborhoods, we checked out some pre-schools. And the verdict? A unanimous “It’s just easier in Raleigh.”

So I’m leaving, on a jet plane… I don’t know when I’ll be back again.

And I’m ok with it. I’m viewing this entire move as “an adventure.” The adventure of our lives. Moving somewhere else, experiencing something outside of this bubble we live in in New York is both scary and exciting. We won’t know anyone there. We won’t know our way around. We won’t have our go-to “spots.” We’ll have to start over, and make new friends, and find our favorite local places. But that’s kind of fun, no? The discovery of it all? The newness?

I write this as I come down off a high from a very inspiring coffee date this AM with Sheri Silver, bloggess and adventurer and free spirit and awesome mom. She asked me if I was going to continue WestchesterLife. I told her I didn’t know, that I hoped to… but I didn’t know how to transition this thing that was so location-centric to.. .well, a new location. She told me that my blog was more than that. She reminded me that I write about my experiences as a mom, as a self-employed writer, and as myself, and that people (apparently) like to share those experiences with me — the location is secondary. So if you’re glad to hear that I’ll be continuing this blog from Raleigh, you have Sheri to thank for showing me the way.

So, when does this madness happen? Next week. That’s right. I’ve let denial shape this long enough. It’s going down in Chinatown in ONE WEEK. One week! I’ll keep writing from here, before I transition this sucker over to RaleighLife. Eek, ya’ll!

So, what to make of packing it up and moving down south? Well let’s see… here are the things I’m actually looking forward to:

  • Milder weather. Longer falls and springs and a shorter, milder winter. Bring on the boots and sundresses, donate all 45 of my winter coats. Sweet.
  • Lower cost of living. It’s going to be an eye-opening exercise realizing how much money we’ve been pissing away living here in New York. It may require therapy to get over , actually, given how much less it costs to live in other parts of the country. From gas prices to childcare to home costs, it’s just cheaper outside of this crazy Big Apple bubble.
  • Living somewhere that celebrates FAMILY. Raleigh is famous for being a very family-friendly place to live. That means an abundance of parks, trails, activities, festivals, fun weekend jaunts, outdoor movies, markets and more.
  •  Less “have-tos.” Living here in the 914, in my 1904 fixer upper, has come with its challenges and obligations. We are constantly working on our house, my husband  can easily spend an entire weekend in the garage, and we’re always running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It’s always just been chalked up to, well… that’s life. But there’s something semi-refreshing about going somewhere no one really knows us. No plans! And renting a brand new, pristine house? No laboring over bathrooms and B.S.! AHH, the freedom!
  • Taking it down a notch. Just a hair. A sliver, really. Because I am truly a worker bee, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’m hoping some of the slow Southern nature will rub off on me a little. I want to relish in reading a book. Or linger a bit longer over a cup of coffee. And maybe do both without my iPhone dangerously close by.

Well there you have it. You’ll be hearing more about my adventures, trials and tribulations in the coming weeks, as we begin our sherpa trek down south.

Stay tuned!

When Life Hands You Apples: reblogged from Fall 2011

19 Sep

 

 

 

 

As apple picking season is once again upon us, I am reposting this piece on my experience at Harvest Moon Orchards last year. Now keep in mind, this was a year ago, and maybe they’ve made some adjustments before this season. In any case, consider yourself warned! 

Yesterday my family and I ventured a few exits up 684 to Harvest Moon Orchards for what we expected to be a fun, relaxing, sunny Sunday of apple picking. You know, the kind that starts with empty bags and an apple picker in hand and ends with apples galore and warm cider donuts? Mmmm.

Well if that’s the experience you’re looking for, you might want to consider avoiding Harvest Moon Orchards in North Salem. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they’ve apparently done TOO much promotion. Everyone and their 3rd cousin will be there. We spent 45 minutes trying to get off the exit from 684 – all traffic was heading to Harvest Moon and Outhouse Orchards. As we crawled toward the orchard (1/2 mile from the exit), my 14-month old grew bored, and my husband’s agitation grew. I spent the next 20 minutes (to go 1/2 a mile) singing “The Wheels on the Bus” to my 14 month old and trying to convince my hubby not to turn around and leave. I joked to my husband that by the time we got there, they might be out of apples. Foreshadowing, perhaps?

After finally arriving and parking (a feat in and of itself), we headed over to the “orchard” line. Etiquette was not on anyone’s minds, as strollers and parents pushed ahead, cutting in line to get their $25 bags. Yes, you heard correctly. $25 for a bag of apples. Sure, it’s an experience to go apple picking, and you pay for the experience. I get it. But twenty five dollars? Sheesh.

They were out of apple pickers, and told us to get one from someone up in the orchard. What this meant is we had to “bribe” someone to give us theirs. They demanded $5 from us, even though they had only paid $2.50 (of which they would have gotten their money back upon return). Black market apple pickers? Check, check.

So that leads me to why the apple pickers were so necessary. The orchard was practically picked dry. Nary an apple in sight, unless you count the ones that were at the tippy tops of the trees. All of that excitement about letting my 14 month old pick apples off a tree himself was diminished. Boo hoo. We managed to find one apple that was reachable. Baby bear was thrilled. We even snapped a few pics of him reaching for it, as we knew it was the only shot we’d get.

This, coupled with the fact that it was 95 degrees at 3pm, and it was a bit of a lackluster experience. And then, that’s when it happened. I looked to my left and saw a child, squatting, pants down around his ankles, as he pooped. In the orchard. With his mother sitting next to him, not doing a thing about it.

Now, this is certainly no fault of Harvest Moon. One can’t expect them to police their every guest. No, this was purely a disgusting, idiotic move on the part of a lazy, classless parent who thought it was okay to shit where people eat. Literally.

As we left the orchard and headed back down to the farm area, the line for apple cider donuts, which an hour earlier wrapped all the way around the building, had not shortened. Kids were going berserk, parents were yelling. It was a sight for sore, hungry eyes. Apparently, this place is more like an amusement park than a low key Northern Westchester farm.

And as such, no donuts were had.

Lesson learned? Let the traffic getting off the highway be an indication of trouble ahead. And go pick your apples elsewhere. Like anywhere far enough from the city to discourage day-trippers. Consider this my PSA for the week!

Northern Westchester gems (Part 3 of 3 of my Meet Me in Westchester series)

14 Sep

When I lived in the city, Westchester sounded FAR. It was upstate. It was the country. At the time, I was talking about Bronxville and Scarsdale. I had never even been beyond White Plains. I didn’t know anything existed north of there. Except for Cape Cod. And Canada.

And then my hubby and I set out on a quest to buy a house. And it was discovered that there actually were things beyond White Plains. Nice things. Towns that had running water and electricity. Movie theaters, even. Novel, sure, but I was a big city girl… I lived in that big city girl bubble. Everything beyond Grey’s Papaya was “country” as far as I was concerned.

Fast-forward four years and I’m the first one in line to defend “Northern Westchester” to all my big city friends. They have no idea. I school them on the Bedfordisms and Chappaqua-ishness. And of course, the Mount Kisco-esque vibes. Because that’s where we bought our house.

When friends make the trek up here, by train or Zipcar usually, I feel the need to have an itinerary ready so I can show off my hood. Here’s a fun early fall weekend morning/afternoon itinerary that will leave you looking like the high-class hipster-suburbanite you are:

Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

Start at one of the many local farmer’s markets for some coffee, a fresh muffin, and some local flavor. I recommend John Jay Homestead farmer’s market. It’s on a “homestead,” for crying out loud, and if that’s not hipster I don’t know what is. Take that, Union Square Greenmarket!

Next, head over to Caramoor for a walk through their magical gardens. I finally got to explore Caramoor and its grounds a few weeks back with Westchester County Film & Tourism as part of their Meet Me in Westchester blogger tour. I was left wondering why I’d waited so long. This place is minutes from my house, and offers a robust calendar of musical events, including their annual Jazz Festival in the Venetian Theater, a Dancing at Dusk series, fireworks on the 4th, and much more. But what I didn’t know is, Caramoor is also home to these ridiculous gardens, and most times of the year, you can just drive in during the day, park, and walk around. This is such a peaceful place to come for some inspiration, or to snap some Instagrams of the kids running through an English garden. We also were treated to a special tour of the Rosen House which uncovered more treasures than you could shake an Antiques Roadshow stick at, and just pretty much blew us all away in opulence. The house isn’t currently open for tours, but they do host musical events in the courtyard, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

That’s a gold bed, ya’ll. If you don’t know, now ya know.

After you’ve high-classed it up in the gardens, sate your hunger at another high-class spot: Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua. Crabtree’s is a special occasion kind of place. It’s just in the air. Don’t get me started on their wine cellar. 60,000 bottles. That’s six-zero. We got a tour, and let’s just say, I’m going to live with shame every time I crack open a $10 bottle of Pinot Noir from here on out. I touched a bottle of wine worth $10,000. I’d choke. I mean, who drinks $10,000 wine?

Don’t drop it, ya heard?

The food here is fabulous. To keep it casual and still offer up a memorable experience, they do a Sunday brunch buffet which would totally work for your day-trippin’. It’s served from 11:30 to 3pm ($34.50 per person, includes dessert, coffee, soft drinks and one mimosa), or you can choose from an a la carte brunch menu on Saturdays from 11am to 2:30. Best kept secret? They also happen to be a participating restaurant on Savored, which if you haven’t used yet, you’re missing out. You basically get up to 30% off your bill, just for booking your reservation through them (for a small up front fee). The best part is, the discount is automatically reflected in your check. You don’t have to pull out a cheesy Groupon or remind your server you “have a discount.” Keep it classy, Westchester.

Seriously delish ricotta gnudi which I inhaled.

After all of this, your out of towners are going to clearly be exhausted, so I suggest you take them over to Oriental Foot Reflexology in Mount Kisco for the best hour of their life (at $35!!), and then send them off on a train home to their teensy weensy apartment, where they can dream about all the awesomeness in good old, suburban Westchester.

The Nail Artists trailer

5 Sep

Love this whole nail art thing? Can’t understand why your 30-something girlfriend is rocking candy corn on her nails? Just click the image above. You won’t regret it. LOLs for the day are covered, thankyouverymuch.

 

A farm-to-table restaurant you should know about. (Part 2 of my ‘Meet Me in Westchester’ series)

5 Sep

It’s called Härth, and it’s the newest addition to the Westchester dining scene.

The funny thing is, it’s also the newest addition to the Westchester hotel scene. Because it’s set inside a hotel. And it’s a hotel you wouldn’t expect to find yourself in for an amazing, locavore-inspired feast.

It’s inside the Hilton Westchester. (Gasp!)

Those folks at Hilton are up to something. They’re doing their research. They’re reading the Yelp reviews. They’re spying on celebrity chefs. They know that it’s high time Hilton emerged from the shadows and put itself on the map in some way – not just as a reliable, heritage brand of hotels that offers solid accommodation, but as a… wait for it… a dining destination.

In Westchester, you say? The Hilton in Rye Brook? Hmm.

I know, it’s easy to be a skeptic. I was. But then the bottles of Veuve Cliquot were popped. And I was led to a table that was beautifully set. And I had views of the open “kitchen” concept – which centers around the “hearth,” where the crux of the cooking takes place. And I met Chef Rafael Velasquez who has an impressive background working as executive chef for St. Regis, W Hotels and more. And did I mention he’s super cute?

Hey ladies! THIS is Chef Rafael! ; )

And then they brought out a charcuterie plate. Like, the longest, wooden platter I’ve ever seen, with beautiful slices of duck prosciutto, and pate, and soppresatta, and sautéed mushrooms, and cheeses…oh the cheeses!

It is the charcuterie plate that never ends… it just goes on and on my friends

We ate course after course of food that was thoughtfully prepared and paired with fabulous wines. We ate, and we ate. And then someone mentioned going to a tiki bar in Rye and I just about rolled off my seat. What?

But DAMN was it a good meal.

Härth restaurant officially opens this month. You can ‘like’ Chef Rafael’s page on Facebook to receive up-to-date news and info as to its opening.

I was not monetarily compensated for this post, however I was plied with very expensive champagne (I’m not complaining) and a 72 course meal (I’m only slightly exaggerating) compliments of Hilton Westchester, Westchester County Tourism & Film, and The New York Mom. So am I biased? You’ll have to go see for yourself.