Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Food of NYC

So I figured I'd start out by telling you about my favorite thing in NYC...food!  Hey, I have to make those pounds I put on while there count for something, right?  Although we didn't really go out anywhere that was deemed a "Best of NYC" stop, we still found deliciousness lurking in every corner.

First stop:  Shake Shack!  A Facebook friends highly recommended this place, and I'm not one to turn down a tasty burger.  There were a few different locations, but since we stayed near Times Square, we opted to make that location our stop.  The line was ridiculously long, but we waited anyways, opting for two burgers, and order of fires to share, and a custard shake.  The outcome?  For one, the shake was fantastic!  I love custard, and it really made the shake smooth and creamy.  The burgers were pretty tasty, so they also get two thumbs up from me.  I've never had a burger completely blow me away (as much as I love them) but Shake Shack burgers are definitely on par with In N Out...maybe better.

The menu of Shake Shack.
It was ridiculously crowded.
Our delicious loot.
For dessert (I know we had the shake...but that didn't count), we stumbled on the Cake Boss Bakery.  Since we were there for my birthday, we decided to pop in and try a favorite of mine...Boston Creme Pie.  The shop was fun (and didn't have a line...whoo, hoo!), and the cake was creamy and scrumptious.  It took all of my willpower not to try more of the treats they had.

Me and my loot.

For dinner, we went to a Turkish restaurant called The Dervish.  Joel has a real affinity for Turkish food ever since he lived there for two years, and St. Louis is sorely lacking good ethnic food.  Joel was pleasantly surprised how good the food was, probably thanks to the cooks and waiters actually being Turkish, and although I don't love Turkish food, it was a pretty good meal.
Joel's fave, the Iskander Kebab.
My Chicken Kebab.

Every other day for lunch, we made our way over Little Italy for some much wanted Italian food.  Like I said, St. Louis is sorely lacking in good ethnic food, and its so called "The Hill" area doesn't taste anything like the food I've had in Italy.  The first place we tried was called Taormina.  We had a place in Germany by that name, and since they looked busy, we decided to give them a try.  They did not disappoint.  This was by far the best Italian food outside of Europe that I've had.

Joel's awesome bolognese.

The next day we tried a different spot, called Cafe Napoli.  Even though the workers were pushy and loud, we thought that was pretty much how Italians are, so we gave it a spot.  My pasta was just so-so, and Joel's bolognese was good, but it didn't beat out Taormina.  So, on the last day we went back to Taormina.  They don't have the best service, and we noticed both places had the tip included already (which actually is typical for Europe), so just don't be surprised by that if you go.

My pasta; kind of bland, sadly.
Joel's bolognese.
And when you go to Little Italy, make sure you stop and get some cannoli's.  The bakery on Mulberry street is far better than the outside vendors, and cheaper.  I wish I could remember the name, but it was ah-ma-zing.

See the Cannoli's at the top?
Other tasty Italian treats.
Our loot.
Heaven in a dessert.
And what's the best way to end a fabulous trip to NYC?  With cheesecake, of course.  We went to a place called Junior's (kind of touristy, but worth it).  I'll let the cheesecake speak for itself.

You are drooling now, aren't you?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Concerts, etc.

One of my favorite things to do is to attend various musical productions, such as concerts, musicals, and other various shows.  There's something about live music that pulls me in, and I get totally caught up in the moment.  I thought I'd highlight a few shows that I went to last year (and never blogged about...bad, Kristen!) in anticipation of the shows I have scheduled to go to this year.

1.  We went Old School with Loverboy, Pat Benatar, and Journey.  Amazing!

2.  We also went to a country powerhouse show.  Even though Joel's not a fan of country, he was a good sport.  We saw Eden's Edge, the Eli Young Band, Little Big Town, and my all time favorite, Rascal Flatts.  This was my first big country show, and it definitely did not disappoint.

3.  If you don't know by now, I am a huge musical theater junkie.  I've been blessed to see many shows all over the world.  One of my favorite shows, Phantom of the Opera, has starred many a talent, and my favorite Phantom by far is Ramin Karimloo.  He held a small show for his new project, singing Bluegrass, at a venue in Chicago.  He is my Michael Crawford.  Brilliant.  He has also played Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables.  If you haven't heard of him, look him up and listen.  You won't regret it.

I am so excited to see some shows this year!  Have anything your looking forward to this summer?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Answering Tough Questions

So, I saw this little meme floating around from Erin, and now that I'm almost 30, I thought it might be something great to reflect on.

1. If you could do one thing differently in your life, what would it be?

This one is tough and easy all at the same time.  The crazy path I've traveled on has led me to my husband, who truly is my soul mate, and led to this journey that I wouldn't change for anything.  But, I guess I would have changed my direction in college.  I had always wanted to be an attorney, and so I got my B.S. in Political Science, and eventually double majored in History, which are two subject that I love...but I have done nothing with my degree.  It was so hard getting those to work for me once I decided that I just couldn't afford to go to Law School right away.  I didn't know then what a passion I had to help people, so I really wish I would have gotten a degree in social work or SLP.  I'm trying to fix it now with my Master's Degree, but I wish I knew that what I know now.

2. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Honestly?  No idea.  In the military world, you never know where you're going to be.  Hopefully we are stationed either back overseas or in a big U.S. city, still madly in love, and still traveling the world.  Professionally, I hope that I am more satisfied with whatever I am doing, which hopefully involves helping/teaching kids with special needs.

3. Do you honestly want kids?
This is such a crazy, tricky question.  I've never felt the need or desire to have my own kids.  I'd happily remain child-free, but at the same time, I know Joel really wants to be a dad someday.  We've talked about adopting, and that is much more appealing to me.  There are so many kids in this world who need a good home, and I really think we could be that family.  It's an on-going discussion, but at this point I'm not ruling out any possibilities.
Image found here.
4. What has been the best moment of your life so far?
The cliche answer would be the day I married Joel.  I truly believe God put the two of us together, and my world has evolved and grown with him by my side.
But, I think and answer that really defines me as an individual would be when I made the decision to take a risk and move overseas.  I never knew I could be so brave and accomplish so much.  I had the time of my life traveling, learning about new cultures, learning a new language...it just really made me grow as a person.

5. What is your life theme song?
I think I'm going to say God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts.  It brought me to Joel, but the "led me straight to you" part, for me, is the story of my life.  I could tell some crazy stories about growing up and in the early years of adulthood, and needless to say, they were sometimes broken and scary.  But it led me to "you," which is the life I am living, who I am.  I am nothing without God and I know he leads me down that broken road to all of my experiences, good and bad.

6. What is one thing you have yet to accomplish that you want to do before you die?
I really want to be confident in myself and my abilities.  Before I do, I really want to learn to love myself.
7. If you could choose one thing to be known for, what would it be?
The ability to make the lives of those that need it just a little better.
8. If you could do anything you wanted right in this very moment (no consequences, no fear, etc), what would it be?
Throw caution to the wind and move somewhere I've always wanted to.  Somewhere like London, where I wouldn't care how broke living there made me.  As long as I was happy.
Me at Hampton Court Palace in London.
9. What has been the most challenging moment in your life?
Ok, this is a shocker for most of my readers, but I am going to be honest and put it out there.  I got married at the ripe old age of 18, and the man I married had an affair and got the girl pregnant.  I was devastated, broken, confused, and really down on myself.  Getting through that and moving on, learning to love again...all that was tough.  Divorced at such a young age...was I really that girl?  But I moved on, fell in love, and learned a lot about myself.  He didn't cheat because of something I lacked or wasn't.  He simply didn't love me and respect our marriage.  I survived.  But it was definitely the most challenging time in my life.
10. Summarize yourself in one word.
I'm going to go ahead and steal Erin's word:  Evolving.  I hope to always evolve and grow as a person.  The world and our lives are always evolving.  If we don't grow and change with it...well, what kind of a life is that?

Spring Favorites in the Lou

So it's officially spring in St. Louis, and even though we have had floods, tornadoes, and snow storms already this spring, I am secretly dreaming of sunshine and all of the things I love to do.

One of my favorite things to do on a beautiful, sunny, and warm day is to head over to Soulard and visit their farmers market.  They have all kinds of vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, and even serving up some tasty Bloody Mary's.


And you can't go to Soulard without visiting Bogart's for some famous St. Louis BBQ.  I love some good BBQ, and St. Louis has no shortage of delicious options.  Even though PM BBQ in Chesterfield is my personal favorite, Bogart's and Pappy's (St. Louis) are always vying for the tastiest BBQ in the Lou.  I personally think you can't lose any way you go.


What are some of your favorite things to do when the weather warms up in your town?