Monday, December 26, 2011

First Christmas...

 Yesterday was our first Christmas in New York.
The first Christmas day we've spent in the same place as each other in 10 years together.
The first Christmas for either of us away from home and family.
A very different Christmas!

Of course we missed home but we managed to make it pretty festive. 

We bought a lovely tree and squished it into our tiny elevator.

We regretted the decision to pack all our Christmas decorations into the boxes we have in storage in Dave's Dad's loft in the Borders. But managed to find some shiny things to put on our tree anyway. It's amazing how when the tree lights go on you can't help but feel Christmassy.

In the run up to Christmas we escaped the city for a day to visit some very old friends in upstate New York. I stayed with Anna and Kim on a school cultural exchange trip many years ago and it was so fun to see them, go back to their house, meet baby Abigail and have a great pre-Christmas party with their friends and family.

Christmas Eve tradition means that I really should have been brunching with these lovely ladies in Edinburgh. I was very sad not to be there.

Instead we went for a very yummy brunch at Community Food and Juice round the corner from our flat. One of my favourite places in Morningside Heights so far.

The rest of Christmas Eve was a fun flurry of shopping and cooking and baking to a brilliant soundtrack of Christmas songs. Oh, and some frantic last minute Ebay bidding on a great sideboard. We won!

Dave's night before Christmas job was to prepare the Turkey Wellington for the next day (inspired by Jamie Oliver of course).

And I made some American-style festive and sparkly cupcakes (with the edible glitter I was super excited to discover in the supermarket!).

A very New York Christmas morning breakfast of blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and mimosas.

Which was followed by lots of festive Skyping with both our families (thank goodness for video calling!) and a lovely, sunny walk along the river. Sadly no snow to be seen so far. But I wore wellies anyway just to get in the right frame of mind.

We enjoyed plenty of classic American candy.

And a delicious three course Christmas dinner. Was quite impressed with our efforts actually!

And then a very cosy evening of classic Christmas films (including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York) and of course the brilliant Downton Abbey Christmas Special.

Boxing Day today (not that it exists here) and we're off to Greenwich Village for the afternoon followed by an evening screening of It's a Wonderful Life at the International Film Centre.

Merry Christmas!!x

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Round the fleas

We seem to have spent a fair bit of the past few weekends exploring flea markets and scouting out local vintage stores in an attempt to furnish our apartment fairly cheaply and in a style we like. 
Luckily this is definitely my idea of fun! The hardest bit has been trying to stay focused on furniture when there has been so much amazing other stuff everywhere we've been.

Hell's Kitchen Flea Market is split over several locations. Some indoors and some outdoors.

The best section is definitely the Antiques Garage which is housed in a huge car park every weekend. Sadly not much furniture but I will definitely be back for clothes, knick knacks and lots more. So much great stuff!

This weekend we made our first trip to Brooklyn for the famous Brooklyn Flea. Apparently it's even better in summer when it moves outdoors. During winter it's in a huge old bank building and there was so much i wanted to buy! But sadly once again very little in the way of furniture. Seems second hand furniture is harder to come by here.

We also did some initial exploring of Brooklyn which seems great. It's funny how different it feels to Manhattan, was sort of like being back in the real world. Need to go back and see more soon.

Defrosting with hot chocolate in a Swedish cafe in Park Slope after some very chilly wandering.

Greenflea, our local market on the Upper West Side has proved the most fruitful on the furniture front so far. Lots of good stalls and close enough to go back to each week to see what's in stock. It's housed in a Junior school and is within walking distance of our flat.

Our favourite purchases so far...

Some very reasonably priced champagne bowls from Hells Kitchen (5 for $10). Yes we're still lacking essentials such as a kettle and coffee table but at least we can drink our Prosecco in style.

And a desk made of lovely old wood we will use as a work area in the living room (from Greenflea).

 Lots more shopping still to be done. I'm off to stalk some coffee tables on Ebay...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank you King's

For the best leaving presents ever, including a years membership to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I ventured across town for my first visit there last week and it's brilliant. Kind of like the National Gallery, British Museum and V&A all rolled into one. So much to see I'll definitely need the full year.

One of the nicest things is that as it's on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side so it's about a 40 minute stroll from our flat almost entirely through Central Park. Perfect!

I spent a good few hours in there completely engrossed in the Egypt and China galleries and feel like I barely even scraped the surface. Members get to wear a special 'line-skip' pin too so no hanging around. The gift shop was pretty much my idea of heaven!

After a combination of fresh air and culture I definitely needed a snack. 
Luckily New York never fails to disappoint on that front!

All in all a pretty perfect afternoon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting festive

New York really is magical at this time of year. This is definitely a city that knows how to do Christmas without a hint of cynicism. Almost every shop makes me feel like a small child (Kevin in the classic Home Alone 2!) Pretty much every street corner has one of these lovely Christmas tree stalls so the whole place even smells festive. Looking forward to getting our tree up later this week!

Columbia even has it's own Christmas tree lighting ceremony (which sadly we missed) and the campus looks so sparkly now!

Walking around the city on Saturday we kept seeing loads of people in full Christmas fancy dress too. Initially thought they were just getting in the spirit, then it became a bit odd. Then we got home and googled it and turns out it was Santacon. What a weird event!

The famous Rockefeller Centre tree is pretty enormous but so packed with people you can't even get close!

The departments stores really go all out with their Christmas windows which are so pretty. I had a lovely sunny walk round midtown on Friday just soaking up all the magic.
(Apologies - it is quite hard to photograph windows in bright sunshine!)

Saks fifth avenue had a snow filled window selection.

Henri Bendel had some spectacular indoor displays too. It is a lovely old-fashioned department store and was apparently the first place in the US to stock Chanel.

Carousel themed windows at Tiffany & co.

Pretty wreaths at Bergdorf Goodman.

Who also have my absolute favourite windows with a spectacular animal theme. 

Look at the crowds!

Not that Christmassy but I just liked the circus at Louis Vuitton.

Lady Gaga designed the windows for Barneys (involving a lot of frankly quite creepy hair).

 Classic New York Christmas at Macy's!

Couldn't quite face the crowds at Macy's to get proper photos of the actual windows as it was a manic Saturday morning and Dave was waiting patiently for his brunch!