Ordinary, Extraordinary New York City

Our apartment is slowly starting to fill with more STUFF than ever. Two cribs (regular and travel), a co-sleeper, a stroller that I wish I could just push around without a baby because I love it so much, clothes, baby books, accessories…and there is still so much more to come. But I’m also more allergic to stuff than ever, especially given that we live in a lovely but small Brooklyn apartment. (I still order way too many shoes.) It somehow still doesn’t even seem real that we’re having a baby. I feel her kick all the time, and hear her heartbeat, and we have one final scan next week, but…still doesn’t feel real. I am told this is normal.

I feel like I need to take advantage of every New York City moment before she gets here (and then I get to show her around!). We had this sort of ordinary weekend in NYC, a moment of calm before the chaos of the wedding next week and the baby. But, like most days in NYC, they still somehow feel really special.

I started out the weekend wedding dress shopping on the Upper East Side, and walking all the way down to the East Village to meet Alex. Because I will not be my skinniest ever on my wedding day, we went to Danny Meyer’s fast-casual pizza place, Martina, and then went to ChikaLicious Dessert Bar a couple blocks away. I have literally wanted to come here for ten years and it’s so worth it. The owner, Chika, is a former Wall Street banker, and she works with such grace and precision on these insanely delicious but light and airy desserts. There’s champagne with raspberry ice cubes, wine, coffee, and a general jazzy, fresh vibe. It’s been open since 2003, and now they have outposts all over Asia. But it still feels so perfectly New York. And get the “cheese cake” - it’s always on the menu, and it’s the perfect creamy, sweet, and tart balance.


On Sunday, we met friends on the Upper West Side for a very early breakfast (their tradition that we crash every few months, at Cafe 82 on Broadway), and walked down to Meatpacking to check out the massive new Restoration Hardware complex in the old Pastis space. (I miss Pastis, the French fries, and the French-y vibe.) It’s impressive, with a ladies-who-lunch-feeling fifth-floor restaurant, a little coffee shop on the third floor, and huge pieces of furniture, all in shades of “fog” or “sand.” This isn’t where you come for bursts of color.

On the way down, we walked the entire High Line, from 34th and 12th Ave. Trudging through the rain, it was like watching an entire city transform, as Hudson Yards becomes built up with gleaming apartment buildings and offices above the train tracks, and installations like “The Vessel” come to life. Of course, there will also be a massive shopping complex, including NYC’s first Neiman Marcus. Where so much of New York feels crumbling and in need of repair, this part feels alive and new. And soon we were in Chelsea and Meatpacking, familiar old neighborhoods.

I hope for a few more weekends like this before baby girl arrives. (We can’t wait.)

In Praise of the Egg Sandwich (but not MORNING SICKNESS)

We just spent almost three weeks in Switzerland, a country I love and have now visited nearly 30 times. I always miss NYC immediately, until we get back and I remember how awful the subways are, and how nothing works, and the entire city is turning into a Duane Reade. But it's still magic. And one of my greatest loves is the egg sandwich.


I'm now 26 weeks pregnant, but the first four months were awful. Not only did I have terrible morning sickness until 18 weeks (THANKS A LOT, everyone who promised it would end at 12 weeks), but I had a stress fracture in my ankle, and was on crutches and a boot for six weeks. I went to Istanbul and Cappadocia for work, and could barely choke down white rice on most days. Of course, I love her (her!) already. We want her (desperately). But walking around in a jetlagged, puking, hazy, half-of-myself state was not fun.

HOWEVER, something that I was always able to eat in NYC was the egg sandwich.

Every deli has their version, but my favorite has always been from Lassen & Hennigs on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Plain toasted roll (you might like a sesame seed roll, I don't), scrambled eggs, one slice of cheese (they normally put two on - personal preference), salt and pepper (must request!). It's the holy grail of simple egg sandwiches, the best ratio of egg/cheese/roll (unlike a bagel - too much dough).

Get yourself an egg sandwich, eat it on the Brooklyn Promenade with that killer view over lower Manhattan, and know you're experiencing one of New York's best (and cheapest) morning thrills.


Topsail Beach


My dear friend Misty always told me that Topsail was her happy place. Huh? Where? What? Topsail? Turns out it's in North Carolina, south of the more "famous" Outer Banks.

This year, she and her family invited us down to spend a long weekend with them. Despite the forecast of 100% gross rain, we had a beautiful weekend.  


I've spent a lot of time on Kiawah Island in South Carolina but this was a totally different feel - undiscovered, relaxing, not a single ounce of pretension. The days felt long in the best kind of way. Of course, I woke up early on Saturday to watch as much Royal Wedding coverage as possible. 

We flew into Raleigh, drove to New Bern (because it has Swiss roots and was the birthplace of Pepsi, even though obviously Coke is better), and then to Topsail. If you drive straight there, it's almost three hours. One of the reasons it has maintained its hidden gem status is that it's not easy to get to. 

We did spend a few hours in Wilmington (an hour from Topsail) because Dawson's Creek was filmed there and my high school self wanted to freak out a bit. It had that beautiful southern college town feel (complete with weird tattoo and incense shops). 




Updated Rome Guide


Alex and I recently went to Rome on a last-minute trip. From Switzerland, we took the high-speed train down to Italy – something I will never STOP feeling giddy about. It's just so glamorous for someone who dreamed endlessly of Europe, especially when I was in high school. 

Though I wanted to tack on a day trip to Orvieto or the beach, we decided to just stay in Rome for five full nights and really get to know the city again. 

Rome is another one of those cities, like Paris, where it took me some time to fall in love with it. Again, like Paris, I was broke and overheated the first time I went. It's not enough that you're "in Italy" – visiting the Colosseum in July can be miserable. 

My best tip is to go in the off-season. You'll still be surrounded by tourists, because it's Rome, but it feels so much better. 

Guide to Italy and Rome (including places I didn't like!) 

The Lucerne Carnival

I can't escape Donald Trump anywhere I go. He's everywhere, including the Lucerne Carnival in Switzerland, flailing around, looking orange. He's on that stage in the picture below, hiding behind Kermit the Frog.


We happened to be in Lucerne this year during Carnival for (very sad) family reasons, but I am happy I got to experience something that meant a lot to Alex - and most locals in Lucerne - growing up. There is a long history, and today families spend months getting ready, making their costumes, planning their Carnival look. Think Halloween, but calmer and nicer, on the whole. Think dad and kid as matching giraffes. 


For all the costumes and merriment, my favorite discovery was Fasnachtschüechli, which is the typical Swiss carnival snack - bites of lightly fried dough topped with crunchy bits of sugar. 

But us non-Swiss, non-German speaking folk can't really say it. 

Here, Alex tells you how to say it. 

So there you go. Practice a few times, and you'll be ready to pick up a few little boxes at the local Migros or Coop grocery stores. 



 Beautiful, wintry Lucerne

Beautiful, wintry Lucerne

Next year's carnival is Feb 28-March 5, 2019.