Thursday, September 26, 2013

New York part 2

Tuesday morning we started off the day with our first subway ride.
We bought a 7 day unlimited pass which worked out wonderfully for all the trip and we hitched a ride to Penn Station to meet up with our Food on Foot tour (NYP).
We were the only Americans on the tour and with all the walking we got to know a few people from the group and became fast friends. They were Scottish, an older gentleman, his daughter (a doctor) and her husband (a cop). We learned a lot our their culture and their traveling and they learned our crazy utah gun lovin' culture. It was a good ol' time talking, but on to the food!!

Our first stop was some of the best pizza I've ever had! NY Pizza Suprema, remember that name and go there!

 It was so good we went there again!

Our next stop was a little taco joint in the middle of Hell's kitchen. The tacos were mouth watering, the best I've ever had!
That was our tour guide in the orange. He was so very good at his job, telling us about the restaurants, the city and his passion for the food. The girl in the corner was our Scottish friend :)
If we could have found the taco joint again we would have gone there again. Of course we would have used google, but sometimes it's nice to find a treasure only once.

The next place we went to was a delightful little bakery and we all got ourselves large pastries and went into a sugar coma.
You can see John and Mary in the window paying and the two gentlemen on the bench were our Scottish friends. 

Next we went to a sandwich joint that was so narrow that only two people could stand shoulder to shoulder so I waited outside while John ordered our sandwich.Defiantly go to that link and read about the owner, it was the most interesting sandwich shop! 
 We had a sandwich called the Todd, if you go to New York find this sandwich shop and get it, yum yum yum! The owner was so nice and even came outside (too squishy for our group of 35 to eat inside) to thank us and asked us all individually if we liked our sandwiches. 

We then went an authentic Greek bakery that has been around for 90 years. It was melt in your mouth delicious! 
We learned a Scottish phrase here that I'll be using from this day forward. "Eat this and Die!" meaning it's so good you'll think you have gone to heaven above! 

Our last stop was a chain and our tour guide frowns on chains, but he allowed this one since the chain started in New York. Or course for us Utahns we had never had it before.
We went for the custard, but I'm sure the burgers are good too. 
Our tour guide also gave us recommendations to other places to eat while we were in the city, more on that later though!

After our food tour we went to The Top of the Rock and Rockefeller Center (NYP). It was a hazy day, but its hard to find a clear day in New York. On our way there we were stopped by an Asian lady wanted donations for her religion. It was a sneaky way, she forced a card into John's hand and then wanted him to write his name in her little book which she explained in broken english. She then expecting him to give her $40 for the card and his name. When we all forcefully turned her down, she angrily grabbed her card back and stormed away.
We also got a tiny bit lost trying to find the Rock since no one wanted to look it up, we only happened to stumble upon it :)

 Central Park, hey I think I can see our apartment from here!

Tuesday was also Broadway night!!! WOOT WOOT! We went back to the apartment to eat some din din and then headed to the Gershwin Theatre
We were all Wicked virgins and we all LOVED it! We caught ourselves quoting lines and mannerisms the rest of the trip. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

We then walked to time square to see it all lite up at night...which we did like 4 other times too.

 Here is a terrible cell phone picture of John and I in our Broadway garb. My poor phone was beyond broken and the picture quality was just a joke, but this is all you get since John throw a fit just getting this picture and wasn't about to pose again. Can't you see how thrilled he looks?

 No picture of time square will give you the effect of being there. It's so bright it's like the middle of the day, it's also very busy no matter the time. It's just one of those places you have to see for yourself even though you think it's much bigger than it really is.

Then we got lost on the subway. There are many trains that go on the same track, but some numbers don't stop at every stop so we watched our stop pass us by. We then had to get off the train and wait for a train to take us back down to the right stop. Since it was past 1 AM it was a tiny bit nerve racking as we watched some shady looking characters come to the platform. We only messed up the trains that one time though and we did make it back safe and sound though to fall into bed for our next days adventures!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New York, the first few days

When I got settled in to type this I opened my account and started reading all the blogs that I haven't read for 2+ weeks, bad idea! Two hours later I have finally started this long process.
New York was more than a year in the making with so much time spent budgeting, planning and booking things. My sister hopped on board the NYC train a year ago when I told her that if she saved enough money she could come with.

New York costs a lot of money so I really didn't think she'd come, up until I bought the plane tickets in late February I kept thinking she'd bail. Instead that girl surprised me and with me being her savings account for the necessary stuff and her saving her own spending money she had more than enough money to come on an adventure of a life time. I am very proud of her.
I am so very glad she came with, as much as I love traveling with John it was so nice to share with one of my other best friends too.

Anyway on to New York. The day before we were to leave I took the dogs to the groomer so they'd be nice and clean for my parents. While picking them up the groomer said that Enna ruptured an anal gland, truthfully I think there was help in the rupturing since she was fine when I dropped her off. Of course most live sources and the internet told me to take her to the vet, only problem....we were GETTING READY TO LEAVE FOR NEW YORK!!!
If you know me at all you know that I'd do anything for that little dog which usually involves large amounts of money, but this time I went with my gut (and a holistic site that said that really only 25% of dogs need the antibiotics for a ruptured anal gland) and didn't take her to the vet. Of course my head usually disagrees with my gut so I still worried a ton when we left the Littles with my parents. I gave them a credit card and instructions to take her to the vet if she gets bad.

Our flight was at 8AM so we had to be at the airport early. While sitting at the terminal my sister nudged me and excitedly pointed out a lady who was Audra McDonald. Of course she got a blank stare from me while I sipped my Jamba Juice because I don't watch Private Practice, but it was the first of our celebrity sitings and Mary seemed pleased.
Once we were in New York we took a taxi to our home for the next 10 days. Taxis are just how they seem in movies, they don't care about basic traffic laws or lanes and if you get motion sickness easy I suggest taking a dramamine.

That skinny, five story, white building was our quaint little home that I rented from a site called homeaway. This was such a cute place, take a look for yourself. It was 5 flights up and exhausting after a long day, but the place was so cheery that you forgot the hike. I'd totally recommend this place to anyone and it was a great price.

It was located about middle of central park on the west side and with the subway it was a perfect location.

After we arrived and got settled in we tried to find a grocery store to buy our dinners for the next few days. Easier than it sounds, after a lot of walking we found a grocer and experienced New York shopping. It looked like the bottom floors of multiple buildings were converted into the store, but besides from breaking down connecting walls, they didn't change the layouts. Some of the food was stored in coat closet type locations. The aisle ways are so narrow that only one skinny person can make it down, good luck if you have a hand basket. Food prices really didn't seem anymore different than utah prices and I could have set up a cot and lived in their cheese aisle.
It was the cutest place ever, but I'm sure it would get old fast on busy days with lots of people shopping.

After putting away groceries we went out for dinner and thought with the name "Hot and Crusty" the pizza had to be good, um that was a no. More like warmed up Little Ceaser's. We then called it a night and went back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.

The next morning we started off at the Natural History Museum since it was close to our apartment. We had bought the New York Pass where you can get into 80+ attractions for a much cheaper price. With everything we did we saved over $200 a person, from now on if we used the pass to do the activity I'll write NYP next to it.
Well the Natural History Museum (NYP) web site said to plan an hour there, but when we got there the guy checking us in said it would take 3 days to see everything. We took our time for the first hour, but we were running out of time so we booked it through the rest of the museum. Oh and P.S. the museum looks nothing like it does in the movie Night At The Museum. Turns out that only the exterior was used for the movie, the rest was shot on a sound stage in LA.

This was what the lobby looks like, two dinosaurs across from each other, not just one big T-Rex and not round. 

Out of everything different from the movie the jungle room is what upset me the most :( no Capuchin monkeys hanging from vines. The elephants were the closest thing to the movie, the rest of the animals were in glass displays around the elephants.  

After the museum we walked through Central Park to the Central Park Zoo, which is also isn't like the movie. No lions, zebras or giraffes, but there were lemurs that sang, "We like to move it, move it!" every hour on the hour...okay I made that part up, but there were lemurs. 
I'm sure this looks familiar to everyone. If you happen to be in New York and want to go to the zoo, to see this you have to go through the park to the entrance and not just around the park....I'm sure that made no sense, but it will if you go to the zoo. 

 The zoo had the coolest bird and small mammals house, it reminded me of the reptile house at Hoogle Zoo, but it didn't smell and was cooler. The center room, the bird enclosure, was huge and all the small mammals were around it under waterfalls and in dark caves. Every enclosure blended in seamlessly.
They even had my most favorite primate of all time, the cotton top tamarin! I adore these little creatures and was so happy to see them.

The zoo only took maybe an hour to get through and after we stayed for the sea lion feeding and show.

After the zoo it was time to find Tiffany's & Co. and spend some money! I bought some earrings and Mary bought a ring. It was a crazy building with 4 floors full of jewelry, china and purses! 

We also saw the crazy apple store that's all underground. 

We also walked down to time square, but with how many times we saw it I'll save that for another time. 
We walked back up to our apartment after and had dinner so we could turn in for the night for our next busy day!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Crock pot Chicken and Rice Soup

Fall is around the corner, I have a love/hate relationship with that thought. I always hate summer coming to a close, but look forward to the cooler weather and sweaters.
Here's a yummy, easy soup to look forward to for cooler weather...or you could eat it now, what's stopping you?

Crock pot Chicken and Rice Soup (makes 4+ servings)

2 - 3 thick, large chicken breasts
1 - 2 medium onions
6 stalks of celery
2 14oz. cans of fat free chicken stock
2 cups of water (optional)
1 - 2 cubes of chicken bullion
1 Swanson chicken flavor boost packet 
1 large carrot
1 cup instant rice, not cooked or 1 cup cooked rice added at the end of the soup
1 1/2 T dill weed
1 T garlic power
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken, flavor boost and stock in crock pot. Add the spices and the veggies.
Cook on low for 5 hours.

Shred chicken into bite size pieces once five hours are up. If you're using instant rice then add the rice. Cook on low for another 1/2 hour to hour. If using regular rice, cook using regular method and add before serving. Taste to see if more spices need to be added. To make soup go a little further and thin it up after you add the rice you can add the water, I usually add 1 1/2 cups. Serve and enjoy!

I couldn't get enough of this soup when I made it and I've wanted to make it again ever since, it's that good!!