Say cheese, er, leaves

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We had the crazy idea to try to take Christmas photos at a park on a Sunday afternoon when the weather was pretty darn spectacular. Sounds good, right? And it was good except that everyone and their brother decided it was a lovely day to spend at the park, too. I felt a little silly trying to set up a family photo with oodles of people in every direction. Not to mention, corralling Fig. She happens to love crunching on leaves and chasing after any the wind decides to kick up. Autumn is basically heaven for her. (And walking her during autumn is basically the opposite of heaven as she yanks your arm in every direction trying to pounce on all the tree carnage around her.)

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We ended up taking a bajillion photos as fast as we could until she got restless. Then we’d let her chomp on some leaves. Then we’d give it another go. This cycle repeated for a while. I’m sure we were some high quality entertainment for everyone around us.

But I think we came out with a winner … well, it’s definitely not a loser at least. (:

We’re saving that sucker for its holiday card debut, though, especially after all the work it took to get it. The upside of the downside (which would be having an unpredictable, energetic squishy-faced puppy to try to trick into holding still and looking somewhere remotely close to the camera lens—we used leaves for this, I kid not): We have some truly remarkable outtakes.

And I believe laughs are better shared, so here you go …

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The top right happens to by my personal favorite. I can’t not laugh when I look at Figgy with her teeny tiny (really bad) toupee. Hehe. (:

We walk … it’s our new thing

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Every Friday afternoon my co-workers ask one another if anyone has any fun weekend plans. Some go to concerts and things like Oktoberfest. Some go apple picking and bike to the farmers market. Lee and I used to be more like the second group (minus the biking), but ever since we’ve had Fig in our lives, a good chunk of our weekend revolves around her. First, because we love that little rascal. And second, because she spends most of the weekdays at home, so we don’t like leaving her to go do things like pick apples on the weekends. It’s just not fair to the pup.

The list of things you can do with your dog is considerably short. The park. The few dog-friendly farmers markets. The trails around the city. … aaaaand that’s pretty much it. We also go visit family quite a bit, so she comes, too. Because (hello!) YARDS! Those are always a good time.

So every Friday when someone inevitably asks me what I’ll be up to over the weekend, I usually say the same thing: “Not much. Hanging out with Figgy. Going for a walk somewhere.” They never look very impressed, but I’ve gotten used to it. I whole-heartedly love my life with the Mister and the monster (that’d be Fig) … even if it looks “boring” on the outside. It’s lovely on the inside, take it from me.

So that’s exactly what we do. We find a new trail to explore, pack up our bottles of water—one for the humans and one for Fig, who prefers drinking straight from the spout as you pour it, and hit the road. It’s nothing fancy. It’s usually free. And we all get some exercise. Wins all around.

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Four things

… and only three are about Fig. My bar is way low, like knee-high low.

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One:: Our little Figlet celebrated her half-birthday not long ago. We gave her extra cuddles, a schmear of cream cheese on her milk bone, and a day of playing with her pup friends at daycare. So it was almost like any other day. (;

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Two:: It is officially fall, even though half the time it doesn’t feel like it down here in ATL. (Take a hint, summer, and scram.) We’ve already shoved a bushel of apples in the oven, but we didn’t get even the teeniest taste because they were for a bake sale. On the plus side, all four of my apple braids sold without the least bit of haggling. (You’d be surprised how much of that you get at small-town bake sales. “But I bought a cookie AND a cupcake.” Yes, you did, and good for you.)

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Three:: There aren’t monsters under our bed, but there is one under our couch. We don’t mind Fig’s latest go-to spot now that we know she won’t pee while she’s down there, which is why we had it all blocked off with boxes of ramen and tool kits. Really classy.

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Four:: The Newtons took a hike (I use that word very loosely) to spy some changing leaves and give Figgy a round two at exploring bodies of water. She didn’t take to Lake Michigan over the summer, but she actually got her paws wet at the creek—without treat bribery! Her favorite part was without question the sand. It was her first time in a really sandy area, and she couldn’t contain herself. She’d run and chase after what she kicked up as she ran, which only kicked up more. It was hysterical to watch … until she started trying to eat the sand by big heaping mouthfuls. Oy.

Traded my peach for an apple

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When work sends you to NYC (for a measly one-hour meeting), make the most of those miles and extend it to include a weekend with one of your favorite ladies … at least that’s what I did.

I can’t believe I haven’t hugged this girl since my wedding day! That’s just too long and crazy silly (and makes me feel like an old married lady). Thankfully distance and time are nothing when it comes to a solid friendship like ours. (;

Instead of writing out a super long post on the many things we did, which was a ton x three days, I’ll just share a few of my favorites. There wasn’t a single disappointment on our itinerary, so these are just the absolute must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats (let’s be honest, most will be the latter) lest you find yourself in New York.

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// Má Pêche

One of David Chang’s Momofuku clan, this spot is where you’ll want to meet friends for brunch. Their small plates are delicious and ideal for sharing (so you can taste more stuff, duh). Get the breakfast noodles and softshell crab buns. Bonus: The dessert cart is filled with Milk goodies, including the famous compost cookie.

// MOMA

We lucked out and got in for free, but it’s easily worth the ticket price. I didn’t realize that Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Dali’s Persistence of Time were here, so that was a pleasant surprise. My favorites were Warhol’s Soup Cans and the room of Monet’s. Lee and I were fortunate enough to see his water lily collection when we were in Paris last March, so that brought back some much-loved memories.

P.S. The (free!) audio guides are fantastic. They’re iPods, so you can take photos (and save your phone battery!) and track your walk through the museum. When you’re done it emails a summary of everything right to you.

// High Line

We did a lot of walking, so I didn’t think I’d enjoy a place where you go solely to walk some more. But I did. This stretch of park was the city’s way of revitalizing the old railroad lines, and it turned out beautifully! We happened to catch the sunset behind the Hudson—stunning. The people watching here was pretty top-notch, too.

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// Smorgasburg

The Brooklyn Flea Food Market was perhaps the best decision we made all weekend. I swear, everything I ate was like the best thing I’d ever eaten, which makes no sense logically. But it was good. Very good. I think we squeezed in five or six stops. We sampled crispy scallion pancake wraps (I wish I had gotten seconds!), duck confit dumplings, boardwalk fries with vinegar ailoli, a lobster roll, and the most refreshing (and massive) coconut ice cream cone I’ve ever laid my lips on. Mmmm. Seriously, go here.

// ACE Hotel

I didn’t stay here, but it was a nice little rest stop in the middle of our busy day. We got a tasty cup of Stumptown coffee, snagged a seat on one of the massive leather couches in the lobby (which seemed to be THE place to hang out), and chatted each other’s ears off while putting our feet up. Don’t leave without hopping in the photo booth! (These always end up being my favorite souvenirs, so I don’t mind going a little out of my way to find one.) A little tip: Sit THEN swipe your card. Flashes are faster than they appear. You’re welcome.

// City Bakery

Everything looked delicious, but I went with three chocolate chip cookies (one for me, one for Lee and one for my sweet hostess/tour guide) because I heard they were the best in the city. I could only eat half in one sitting, but holy bananas it was good.

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// Shake Shack

I was a little too excited to eat here. It’s been on my burger bucket list for a while now (I love me a good cheeseburger), and it did not disappoint. Go to Madison Square Park—the original and the only location with crinkle fries, which hold just the right amount of cheese sauce. I recommend the coffee shake for dessert!

// The Strand

Set aside a chunk of your afternoon to explore this bookshop. Trust me, you’ll find books but lose hours. The $2-or-less carts outside always have some gems, and the staff recommendations on the first floor are fun to read.

// Joe’s Pizza

This place has been tossing and turning out pizzas since 1975, and I must say, Joe makes an exceptional slice. I’m not the only one who thinks so—apparently, it’s been rated best slice in the city by NY Magazine and a few big-time bloggers. Fast, easy, scrumptious and quintessentially New York.

// Eataly

Half-market-half-restaurants, Eataly is a guaranteed delicious destination. There were so many things I wanted to taste that I just could find room for (fresh pastas, baguettes, meat and cheese boards), so I’ll just have to go back someday. You CANNOT leave without sampling the tiramisu!

Goodnight and good morning

It’s late … or early, depending on whether you’ve been to bed yet and how you take your 3 a.m. camp outs on the couch. I’m taking mine with a mug of tea, which probably means “Good morning!” for me—a really depressing thought when all I want to do is sleep. But this silly cold/cough just ain’t havin’ it.

So here are some random recently enjoyed things because it’s early (as we’ve clarified), and my brain can only think in lists. Who am I kidding? My brain always thinks in lists.

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^^^Good golly those red rocks! I only saw them for a few minutes from the plane, but they left quite an impression. The mister and I are already planning a desert adventure for 2015! (:

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// Racking up the Skymiles. My Bihn bag hasn’t had any time to get dusty lately. I was in Las Vegas last week for a trade show (my first business trip, which made me feel very old and very young all at once), and I’ll be headed to NYC in just a few days. I miss Lee and the beast, our lovely nickname for Fig when she’s being especially monster-like, but I am also (strangely … and madly) in love with packing for trips. I think my brain sees it as the ultimate test of all of my planning and organizing skills, so I take it all a little too seriously. We’re talking outfit planners and packing cubes and the whole shebang.

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// Room service … crème brulee … in bed … while watching Netflix. Yes, please.

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// Coming home to a Fig who can’t contain her excitement after not seeing me for three whole days! The hyperventilating and shaking lasted 20 minutes, I kid not.

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// Testing one of those meal delivery services for work (I love my job!), and getting three free meals dropped at our doorstep. Honestly, it isn’t THAT much easier than our usual dinner prep, but what is nice is the mindlessness of it all. Everything for one meal is in one bag (minus meat), all the ingredients are measured out to exactly what you need, and the recipes have, at most, five steps with photos. I don’t have to figure out what to cook because it’s already decided for me … I guess you can’t be a picky eater. We’ve only made one, but so far, so good!

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// This face.

Here’s hoping for a stunning sunrise, so my empty sleep tank isn’t all for nothing … because the last one I saw wasn’t half bad. (;

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And a happy Saturday to you, too!

Four things

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ONE. This is Fig and her new best bud, Al-the-gator. (See what we did there? (;) They take turns chewing on each other. We call it love.

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TWO. You know, I just love how the mister and I were packaging jars of homemade pickles to send to friends last week, and then the universe turns around and sends us fancy Siracha sea salt in return. (By universe, I mean my rad BFFs.) That’s some good juju, and I’m happy it came right back boomerang-style … because we had turkey burgers and fries for dinner, and my fries were salty AND spicy. Bam.

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THREE. Speaking of, let’s have three cheers for vintage dresses! This beauty is everything I adore in one darling frock, so I couldn’t resist. (Sorry, mister!) Oh, and pockets! Three cheers for those suckers, too.

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FOUR. These two. I’m so grateful that they’re mine. Pinch me.

This is your dog on drugs

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I couldn’t help myself.

Figgy is back to her old hoppy, snorty, farty self (she could be all seven of the reject dwarfs rolled into one), but this gem was a few hours post surgery. Poor thing.

She doesn’t even realize she’s in recovery, which makes it that much harder to keep her from getting too riled up. But thankfully we’ve only got a few more days to go.

Oh, the squish!