Tag Archives: Westchester County

Americans do it all wrong.

27 Jun

Vacation is over. As we pulled into our driveway on Sunday night — after a 9-hour drive from the Outer Banks — it hit me: American “vacations” are a sham. That’s right… this whole one-week holiday is a bunch of B.S. One week is hardly enough time to unwind from the intensity and obligation and responsibility of life, let alone actually enjoy the time and relax and de-stress.

In Europe, the standard for many is 5-6 weeks vacation. And often, employees take four of those in succession during the summer, so they can go on “holiday.” Meaning, they close up shop and just head off to Croatia, or the south of France, or Sydney, or to their villa in northern Italy, so they can live an alterna-life for long enough for it to count, spending loads of time with their families, hosting guests and boisterous dinner parties, riding bikes into town, reading novels (plural)… all the things we Americans don’t have time to do during our measly one-week away, because we’re trying to make the most of every minute; which inevitably means activity planning and organizing and  stressing when we’re supposed to be “off duty.” And while many of us get more than one-week vacation for the year, who among us could actually take 2+ weeks in a row away from our job duties and responsibilities without fear of everything falling apart, or our job being in jeopardy? Not this girl.

Certainly many would argue that as an American, with the freedoms and opportunities available to me, I shouldn’t be complaining. And I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. Except that I’m not one for living the status quo — I like to ruffle the feathers and spark the conversation.

This all comes at a time when my hubby and I are re-evaluating our life and where we live and trying to decide if it’s where we ultimately want to be. Overwhelmed by the stress and necessity of New York, and the strain this frenetically paced lifestyle puts on people… it just gives me pause. I don’t have solutions or answers. I just know I would love me some 4 weeks of uninterrupted “holiday!” Why is that concept so obscure to us Americans!? Aren’t we the same people who created the Real Housewives enterprise? Those crazies vacation all year round! (When they’re not paying someone to slap their name on a Pinot Grigio label or tacky pocketbook.)

How do you feel about all of this? Do you think we work too hard for too little? What would you do differently if you could be fully in control of your life and your destiny?


Words of Wisdom Wednesday

27 Jun

Yes. Yes there is.

Random Thoughts.

2 Jun

1) Is bathing suit shopping EVER fun? No. I need to understand why bathing suit bottoms always nip in and pinch my skin and make me look muffin-top-y, but regular underwear does not. I think I will start wearing my underwear to the beach.

2) Speaking of the beach, did you know it now costs $12 a person to get onto it at Long Beach, NY for the DAY? Seriously. What a racket.

3) I’m feeling ‘meh’ about Westchester again. Quick, someone name 3 awesome things about living here.

4) Dieting is a cop-out. It means you couldn’t hack it as a foodie. I refuse to lose.

5) Twitter is starting to feel like a boring old advert. I used to feel so inspired! Now everyone I know has 14 Twitter accounts, and they just repost all their content on each, so I see the same things over and over again in my stream.

6) My favorite thing in the world today is the deliberate way my 22 month old says the word “gahbage.” I spent all morning looking for things to give him to throw in the trash, just so he could say it again. Yes, it’s Saturday, and yes, that’s how I spent my morning. Don’t judge.

7) So zombies? They’re real. And apparently, they’re starting in Miami. Sweet, I’m really glad my worst nightmare is coming true.

8) I asked hubby to get me a pastrami on rye sandwich for lunch. He did just that. I ate the sandwich. And then I was annoyed, because I felt really full afterward. So in my head, I blamed him. That’s normal, right?

9) My summer vacation is three weeks away. I’m already packed. Again… normal, right?

10) Bruce Willis? Bill Murray? Wes Anderson? Francis McDormand? Ed Norton? Tilda Swinton? Amazeballs.

Local Getaways, On the Cheap

13 Feb

Ah, what a luxury a true vacation sounds like to me. You know, the kind where you actually pack a week’s worth of “another season’s” clothing, board a plane, and arrive hours later in a completely different climate, ready to relax and shed the stress. These days, I’m lucky if I can get an overnight “vacation” with the hubby. It requires organizing sleepovers at “Ammy and Papa’s” house for both baby and dog, and with life’s have-to’s being what they are, often one-nighters are the most we can pull off without throwing everything off it’s axis. Thus I’m a huge fan of the “daily deal,” which often offers great deals on 1-night stays within a 3-hour or so drive of Westchester. Perfecto!

Here’s my personal go-to list of online sale sites I frequent. I’m a picky traveler, so I’m very excited to say a lot of these feature 4 and 5-star properties. All hail luxe, Italian cotton sheets and fancy shmancy bath products!

Groupon Getaways – take the awesome, often too-good-to-pass-up  Groupon deals on things like bowling and laser hair removal and apply them to travel. Yes, Groupon now features hotels and inns in their daily deal roundup. Today features overnight stays at The Westport Inn (Fairfield County, CT) for $89-99/night, Barton Hill Hotel & Spa (Lewiston, NY) for $99-129/night, and The Dormer House (Cape May, NJ) for $89/night.

Living Social EscapesLiving Social, the more level-headed little sister to the Groupon, also now features travel deals under the title “Escapes”. Current deals include a 1-night stay for 2 with brunch, champagne and strawberries, 2 inclusive spa-treatments and spa credits at Anastasia’s B&B (Hempstead, NY) for $224. You’ll also find two NYC boutique hotel deals.

Gilt Jetsetter – If you aren’t familiar with Gilt, you might be living under a rock. In which case I say, please come out and meet Gilt, your new online addiction. Gilt has carved a niche in the high end, making deal shopping not only a chic experience, but an incredibly addictive, rewarding one. Their customer service is second to none, and their daily offerings across every category are diverse, distinct, and well, deal-licious… Jetsetter is their travel deal arm. You’ll find awesome global digs here, but you’ll often scout some pretty cool “local” deals, too. Right now they’re featuring The Bedford Post Inn for $295/night (regularly $495). How’s that for a local getaway?!

While you’re on the Gilt site, pop over to their City tab and take a peek at some awesome NYC restaurant deals. Gilt City is my go-to site when I’m on the hunt for an interesting date-night itinerary. Today I found a dinner for two package at Tartinary for $68 (regularly $108), and a Make-Your-Own-Mimosa Brunch for two at Trix Restaurant for $42 (regularly $80).

TripGramTripGram’s tagline is “Exclusive last-minute getaways near New York City.” And that’s exactly what they are. With current hotel and B&B offerings in Boston, MA and Newport, RI, this is a good place to have on your radar when you’re willing to hop in the car for a 2-4 hour drive.

SniqueAway This site is affiliated with TripAdvisor, which means it’s synced up with those super-helpful user reviews, which makes decision-making that much easier. While they offer deals globally, there almost always is something within driving distance of NY. Right now, for instance, you can book a room at The Standard Hotel in the East Village from $209/night, or head down to D.C. for a weekend and stay at posh The Normandy Hotel from $109/night.

JauntsetterJauntsetter is technically a newsletter, not really a “deal” site per se, but they often aggregate travel deals that are great for New Yorkers, from other sites. So sign up for their email newsletter, and see what they’ve got cookin’.

Savored – If you haven’t signed up for Savored, hop to it. You’re missing out on saving 30% off your restaurant bills. Sure, they are still limited in restaurant inventory, especially in Westchester County. But they are also still in their nascent stage. In the meantime, book a rezzie through their website at partner restaurants like Crabtree’s Kittle House or X2O. The way it works is you pay $10 to book the reservation through Savored, and then when your bill comes at the restaurant, 30% of all food and drink will have automatically been deducted from your check. Yes, you heard me correctly – the discount is good on wine and liquor too! There are no coupons to redeem, no QR codes to scan on your phone. It’s discreet discounting at it’s finest! On a recent visit to Crabtree’s, we saved $90 off our $300 bill – NINETY BUCKS! If that’s not worth the $10 reservation charge, I don’t know what is.

I was not paid for this post in any way. I just LOVE a good deal, and in honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I’m sharing the LOVE with you all… 

2012 To-Do List

3 Jan

Generally, I try to avoid resolutions. They’re just a recipe for disappointment — at least in my experience. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t know anyone who’s told me of their resolutions in January and actually followed through on them by December. (Yes, I’m talking to all you friends who swore to lose 20 lbs, stop drinking so much, start a hobby, and have more sex.) Last week, with 2012 looming over the horizon, I realized there are many things I’d like to do (in my own backyard, specifically) that I’ve yet to experience. So this year I decided to make a Westchester To-Do list:

1) Visit Rye Playland. Hubby and I got married in Rye, at The Wainwright House. It was a beautiful location, and every time we visited Wainwright for tastings and rehearsals and to look at table linens and layouts, we passed the signs leading to Rye Playland. And every time I said, “we should go there.” Alas, we never did. Fastforward to the present, and now I’m a mom. If I never had a reason before, I certainly do now.

2) Explore towns outside of my 3-town radius comfort zone. Ok, so this is kind of a broad statement, and one that’s not entirely true. Obviously I’ve explored towns outside of my 3-town comfort zone (which for me consists of Mt Kisco, Chappaqua and Katonah). I’m also fairly savvy about Irvington and Tarrytown, White Plains and Bronxville. But I mean really explored. As in, visit the museums, the old historic houses, the parks, the theaters…you get the gist. I’m lookin’ for culture, people!

3) Explore Port Chester’s cuisine scene. I’ve been to bartaco, Nessa, Arrosto, Sonora and Lolita Cucina. But there is still so much unchartered territory for me, a pseudo-foodie. I am dying to get to Tarry Lodge, in addition to some of the more authentic Mexican spots in town. Any reco’s? Send them my way!

4) Find local music worth listening to. I don’t mean to offend any local musicians…(wait, are there any local musicians?) First of all, finding a local place around here that even showcases live music is a fete in and of itself — let alone expect that the music actually be worth listening to! What’s with this county? Do people really not like going out to hear live bands, or some folksy singer-songwriters? Can I get a fist pump for cabaret licenses?! Sheesh.

5) Have a bonfire in my yard. We bought a 100+ year-old house on a big ole’ piece of land with a “charming” little fire pit in the yard. By that I mean a cute little brick patio with rock “benches” in a half circle around a sorta-fire-pit-that-looks-more-like-a-ritual-site. Minor details really. We’ve never used it because we didn’t want to scare the neighbors. So… no time like the present! Who’s bringing the marshmallows?

6) Visit Bear Mountain. I hear it’s fun. And by fun I mean scenic. And by scenic I mean it’s a reason to get hubby up to Cold Spring with me, which means antique shopping. Winning!

7) Bike the Bronx River. Ok, so I’ve done this once before. But I was pretty hungover and I was on a bike I had borrowed from a friend. So it doesn’t count.

8) Volunteer for my Planning Board. I’m feeling particularly passionate about and affected by the doings in my town. So what better than to Be The Change.

9) Utilize my library. The way I see it, if we don’t use it, we’ll lose it. Paper media is a dodo already. We need to support these institutions. Because so help me, if I have to raise my kid(s) in a world with no libraries, I might go postal. Oh wait, we won’t have those either. (Note to self: come up with replacement  saying for the next generation, involving PS3’s or iPads.)

 10) Meet more of you. A few years ago, I co-founded a local networking group  for “Tweeters” called Westchester 140. Since then I co-founded The Chat Shop and subsequently, Westchat, with my creative partner Maria Colaco, the latter which has become a robust, frequently-used hashtag for Westchester news, updates and general conversation. But life’s have-to’s and what-not’s have really gotten in the way of our social prowess. I’d love to fix that.
Happy New Year to all of you. Please share any suggestions below for local to-do’s that you think should be added to my list!

What I’ve Learned From The Real Housewives.

23 Oct

Andy Cohen's got the 411.

  1. It’s very bourgeois to drive yourself. Unless you are driving to the plastic surgeon. Or you live in Atlanta, or New Jersey – those Housewives have a product placement deal with Range Rover. If you’re in Beverly Hills, or New York, you better call up your local livery because it’s all about being driven around while you drink champagne, check your Google Alerts, and gossip-text your BFF.
  2. Housewives should eat out as often as possible, in high-visibility restaurants. But don’t ever eat. Sure, order food. It’s the appropriate thing to do to order something and have it placed in front of you, so as to appear human. But that $42 salad should go untouched. Just move the leaves around a bit and call it a day.
  3. Nothing is sacred. That means feel free to share your sex doings with the world, bash your friends in print, and wear a bathing suit (or 12) in front of the camera.
  4. Family portraits should be taken 6 times a year. Be certain to color coordinate the children to the living room, the living room to the in-laws, and the in-laws to the dog. And never, NEVER sit on the same couch twice.
  5. Holiday gatherings serve two purposes: To (1) stand in your new kitchen and brag about how quickly you’ve managed to rise out of bankruptcy, and (2) to show off how tall a tower you can make out of cannolis.
  6. It’s perfectly acceptable to be a mean girl. In fact, it’s a requirement. Don’t ever forget it. (Bitch.)
  7. The fact that someone is sitting 2.5 feet away from you should never deter you from talking smack about them. It’s a plus! At least if they’re within earshot, you won’t have to wait impatiently for the gossip mill to get to work. Consider it the most efficient method!
  8. Sunglasses should cost no less than $25,000. I mean really. Who needs college funds for their children? If you don’t protect your eyes by encrusting them in diamonds so as to repel the sun’s rays, you won’t be able to “see” them graduate anyway!
  9. Teenage daughters may be evil, but when they disrespect you on national TV, it’s recommended to buy them a new car. You know what they say…keep your friends close, keep your lazy, disrespectful teen out of the house, driving her drunk friends around in a brand new automobile. And when all else fails, throw her a big, lavish party.
  10. Speaking of parties, make sure to ALWAYS stir the family drama pot when hosting or attending a family gathering. Nothing is more genuine than the apologies that come after fists (or wine glasses) are thrown. Get it out! Air those grievances!
  11. Sing it, sister. Sure, you can’t hold a tune to save your life. But you know what? That’s got absolutely NOTHING to do with being a singer. Convince the hubby of your future in pop stardom, and introduce him to your partner – Auto-tune. Lalalalalalalalala!