Recap: Overnight in NYC

Happy spring 🙂

I just got back from a whirlwind overnight trip to NYC (Saturday morning bus to Sunday evening bus). It was a really great trip. We had amazing walking-around weather, we kept our energy up by eating small normal-sized, frequent meals, and we tried to have a variety of experiences while not driving ourselves crazy trying to “do everything.” Here’s a recap of my favorite things we did:

Food
Butcher’s Daughter – This was our little afternoon snack break heaven. Organic, raw, fresh…this place offered all the healthy and delicious food adjectives. We got incredible fancy juice blends and an egg sandwich with their signature vegan cashew cheese. I immediately started wondering if I could recreate it.

The Butcher's Daughter - yummy sandwich

The Butcher’s Daughter – yummy sandwich

Brooklyn Bagels – Touted as best bagels (given the quality of bagels in the city I’m sure its a close call to call these best, but we felt it was deserved). We got a lox bagel sandwich with dill cream cheese and an everything bagel with cream cheese to split. The bagels were huge, fluffy, crispy, and all that we were hoping for.

Brooklyn Bagels - BAGELS

Brooklyn Bagels – BAGELS

Dirt Candy – A vegetarian restaurant! One that treats vegetables with TLC! We had to try. Super tiny and popular, we dined like pros and snuck into the restaurant before the reservations trickled in (tip: show up at 5:30 or a little earlier). We loved each dish, especially the mushroom one which had mushroom pate and roasted portobellos, and the jalapeno hush puppies with maple butter. So glad I’m not vegan just for that butter. Man. Delicious. Not to mention it felt like I was being pampered the whole time.

Dirt Candy - our meal

Dirt Candy – our meal

Sights
Artists & Fleas – we stumbled across this walking in Williamsburg, but loved the vintage clothes and beautiful jewelry. The people watching was great, too (NYC really is full of beautiful people).

The High Line – more heaven. I thought I knew what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of sunshine, benches, and happy people. Super relaxing up there, and a good way to go from Chelsea to midtown with a view (tip: stop off at Chelsea Market for a snack).

Arlington Darling | Brooklyn Roasting Company

Brooklyn Roasting Company – decaf mocha

Brooklyn Bridge – this is an iconic tourist attraction, so it was crowded, but totally worth it for the views and as a way to experience the great neighborhoods on either side. Stop by Brooklyn Roasting Company for a coffee (this coffee neophyte ordered a decaf mocha which I thoroughly enjoyed and was also approved by N, coffee expert) before your walk over from Brooklyn.

We did so much more, but I could write for days! Message me for more trip deets if you’re interested. I’ll give you the inside scoop :).

Arlington Darling | Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Oh, and if anyone out there has advice for how to approach a stranger who is out walking his cat in Williamsburg and you want to pet it, let us know. We were a little baffled by that one.

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Tips for Camping that No One Ever Told You

If you’re new to camping, like I was two years ago, there may be some things that catch you off guard when you go camping for the first time. Even car camping, which seems tantalizingly easy (everything’s right there in the trunk, right?) can come with pitfalls of its own.

Case in point: I recently went to Assateague Island and camped overnight. Beach camping, yay! Except…there was a thunderstorm. And not just any thunderstorm – one that lasted all night. Yes, all night. 8 hours of torrential rain and wind that battered our little tent like we were the last people on earth and Mother Nature was pissed. We gave up around 3:30am when the water started to leak into the tent and our sleeping bags were soaked from sitting in two inches of water.

All in all, it was a fine trip, but I don’t think I’m going to forget that night, ever. While there wasn’t much we could do about the weather, there are some things we could have done to make our lives a little easier. So here are my tips and tricks for having a successful car camping experience!

  • Bring plastic bags. These are useful for trash, for spreading on damp ground to protect your tush, and for re-packing wet/damp items for the return trip home.
  • If there is any chance of rain, pack each outfit (or set of clothes – such as all undergarments, all shirts, etc.) into its own ziploc bag. That way, no matter what happens with the rest of your gear you’ll have a dry set of clothing.
  • Bring toilet paper. Self-explanatory! You never know what the restroom situation is going to be. Also pack this in a ziploc bag.
  • Invest in a sleeping pad. These things seem strangely expensive (its basically a glorified pool inflatable, after all) but a good one is worth its weight in gold. I have this one from REI. You will sleep more comfortably not only because you are cushioned from the ground, but the air inside the sleeping pad protects you from the cold and helps to keep you warm. Also, if your tent happens to flood…let’s just say that the sleeping pad can help act as a flotation device to “float” you and your sleeping bag above the water and keep you dry…erm, drier. Not that I have any personal experience with this or anything…
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. Know what you are bringing to eat, and don’t try to subsist on granola bars the entire trip. Obviously this depends completely on the duration of your trip, how many people you are feeding, and whether you are car camping or backpacking…but in general, you can be more creative with the food than you probably think you can. I backpacked in the Grand Canyon in 2011 and on our third night, we had cherry cheesecake. Cheesecake. At the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Okay maybe that’s a little ambitious for most of us, but I’m just sayin’ – the possibilities are endless.
  • Pack face wipes – it’s a hassle to wash your face in camping conditions – and the wipes make it easy.
  • Invest in a headlamp. A flashlight can suffice for many situations, but a headlamp makes lighting your way so much more easy and convenient, especially for situations like finding the restroom in the dark (and having a light while you do your business – do you really want to be juggling a flashlight in one hand while you do that? Think about it).
  • And last but certainly not least…check the weather before you leave :).

Happy camping!

Recap: San Francisco

As you know, a few days ago I returned from my first trip to San Francisco! I went with my bestie, who introduced me (erm, forced me) to a relaxed vacation approach that did not involve planning or having a strict agenda. I was nervous at first, not knowing what we’d be doing every minute of every day, but I can wholeheartedly say that I enjoyed it in the end. We may not have hit everything the Bay Area has to offer, but we did what we wanted and we had a ton of fun. Isn’t that what vacation is all about?

For those of you planning your own trip (whether real or imaginary) to the Bay Area, here is my recap of the top restaurants and attractions that JJ and I enjoyed when we visited.

  • Tacolicious. This was my favorite meal of the trip, by far. Arlington Darling | San FranciscoI know, I know – it’s “just” tacos, right? Yes. But I’d fly back on that horrible redeye flight just to have these fish tacos again. Buttery, flaky, fried fish with creamy dressing and crispy cabbage…mmmmm. JJ loved her meat tacos, and the margarita was decent, too (not too sweet). Total “A+” in my book. Plus, outdoor seating!
  • Cable Car Ride. This was one of my favorite activities! We caught the cable car in Fisherman’s Wharf and took it all the way back to our hotel. It was exhilarating going over the hills, although the wait to board was a little long. I recommend going earlier in the day or trying to pick up a ride at one of the stops vs. the origination points.
  • The Ferry Market Building. For you DC folks, think of this as a combination ofArlington Darling | San Francisco Union Market and Eastern Market (a.k.a. foodie heaven). The Ferry Market Building itself has adorable, if expensive, shops and gourmet food vendors. Then, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays the building and surrounding pier also hosts a vibrant farmer’s market. We bought all the things (see picture of our sourdough bread, cheese, and dried fruit), then took our picnic to Golden Gate Park!
  • Nob Hill. Cutest SF neighborhood ever. We stumbled upon it when wandering around on our first day, and I’m so glad we did. The area hosts the city’s “Little Italy” and adorable tiny streets. While you’re there, check out City Lights bookstore.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea. I highly recommend a trip down the 101 to Carmel. It’s aArlington Darling | San Francisco gorgeous little town with more art galleries than homes (at least, that’s what it felt like). Brad Pitt has a house there (sadly, we did not see him). If you’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean before, this is a good place to see it! Plus, there is easy access to the 17-mile drive from the town. OH! And I almost forgot – make sure you rent a convertible for the drive. That was a definite highlight for me (thanks to Zipcar for keeping things super simple and for working across cities!). When you put the top down, just put the heat on and bring a sweater or two, hah.

That’s my list! It is not comprehensive by any means – for example, I also enjoyed our wine tour to Napa and Sonoma, our visit to the Japanese Tea Garden, seeing and being seen at Fisherman’s Wharf, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and SF skyline from the Berkeley Hills, and sipping iced coffee in Yerba Buena park.

What did I miss? I could be persuaded to go back… :).

Back from Vacay

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back in DC, and thus, back into the blogosphere. Sorry for the prolonged absence. Pictures from my San Francisco trip to barter forgiveness?

More detailed list of SF activities and my recommendations for attractions and restaurants to come. Also, get excited for food truck news, summer activities, and reviews galore. Happy almost-summer, DC!

Packing List: San Francisco

I’m going to San Francisco with my bestie in a few weeks – an epic (well, scaled-down epic) trip that we have been planning basically since we met 10 years ago. I’m so thankful that we’re both in a position where we can just get on a plane and go! No muss, no fuss.

The trip planning is atypical for me, so far, in that the trip is less than 4 weeks away and all we have booked is the plane ticket. Eep! Plus, all that I have researched to do is…restaurants. So we know where we’ll be (California) and what we’ll be eating (hopefully here, here, here, and here, among others) but not where we’re sleeping, how we’ll get around, or what else we’ll be doing when our bellies are full. Meh, I might not care! Seems like I have the important stuff down, right? 🙂

Today I made some progress in another critical area of trip planning, namely, the wardrobe! In the spirit of jet-setters and aspiring jet-setters everywhere, I’ll share with you my tentative San Fran (which I’ve heard is referred to as SF, by locals – true?) 6-day trip packing list:

  • Sweater dress (navy and white striped)
  • White jeans
  • Dark skinny jeans
  • Skinny/tailored slacks (red, navy, or black)
  • Solid long-sleeved v-neck tees for layering (grey, white black, and striped)
  • Sweater (tan)
  • Tank top (dressy)
  • Navy blazer
  • Bright, flowery-patterned rain jacket
  • Comfortable but trendy walking flats
  • Boots (brown)
  • Heels
  • Tights (polka-dotted and navy)
  • Scarves, scarves, and scarves!
  • Earmuffs for the walk across the Golden Gate bridge
  • Barre3 ball and grippy socks so I can do Barre3 in the hotel room (the socks serve double duty on the chilly airplane)

Note: I’ve left off things like underwear and toiletries since you kinda have to bring those no matter what. Only things that make this list special and exciting are noted :).

Any recommendations for SF welcome!