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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

a "sit down" concert was just what i needed

it's been a LONG time since i've been to a "sit-down" concert.  you know, the kind with "assigned seats" and everything.  the kind where don't have to "stand your ground" if you want to keep a good view and not get pushed to the back.  the kind where, although still loud, the ringing in my ears doesn't keep me awake the rest of the night.  AND (drumroll please...) it was on a SATURDAY.  not a weeknight, not a "oops, is is 2am already? i still have to work in the morning!"

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besides her music, i also give a high five to sara bareilles for the glorious reasons mentioned above. (and now i officially feel OLD too). hung and i booked the tickets early, and decided it was going to be our july date night.  the thoughts were that it was going to be INSIDE, because last year july was unbearably hot and humid, and it was the same price of going to dinner, maybe even cheaper (well, except for the $5.25 bottles of water!!)

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maybe we were in the second to last row, but hey, it was still a great show! the theater at madison square garden is still pretty small, and every seat is a good seat. 


Sara Bareilles - Madison Square Garden from jenn @ beyond the stoop on Vimeo.

this might have been the first date night that we didn't take a single photo of each other! or even one together.  nothing! just a few shots from the show.  maybe that was a good thing? too busy enjoying each other's company to take pictures?  too cheesy? (ok, we just forgot, alright?)

it was such a great show, refreshing, with great openers hannah georgas and emily king. 

new york wins our hearts again, checking off "see something at madison square garden" from the bucket list.  well, a half check, since it wasn't the big arena.

we're almost through a year of monthly date nights, and i'm so glad we decided to do it! almost every month we have to turn down friends who want to hang out on our date night.  if we never scheduled them, we wouldn't ever spend a night out just the two of us!!

as always, looking forward to the next date night :)

cheers.
jenn

p.s. i lied. i forgot about this photo.  i wanted to forget about it. i've sort of got the derp face going on.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

hamilton park picnic

"if i didn't move here, i would probably never do anything like this."
      - the words of my fiancĂ©, who repeatedly tells me that he's so grateful to live such a fulfilling life in a smile-worthy place. 

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yesterday we set out for a picnic in hamilton park, casually organized by napoleon and belinda of e.tittlemouse and marinell and chadner of eighty magazine.  we packed up the picnic basket, filled with dinnerware, cloth napkins, box wine, seltzer water, and (of course) some homemade goodies.  we packed the blanket, the camera, and walked a whole 5 blocks to the picnic!

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our well-received contribution to the food spread was corn, goat cheese, and quinoa hand pies! as much as we would like to take credit for the final product, it was just a mix of the filling from the sween corn and goat cheese stuffed peppers recipe from thekitchn.com and the pie crust from the infinite kitchen sink hand pie from lady and pups.

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a surprise visit from milk sugar love and a generous hand-delivered bucket of ice cream, and everyone went crazy.  phones and cameras came out like paparazzi, everyone cheered.  i guess that's the sort of entrance you live for when you own an ice cream business ;)

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when we got there, we were greeted with wine, endless food options (mostly filipino), and a community of jersey-city-loving new friends.  what a group to get you inspired! a lot of the people there were entrepreneurs, designers, and creatives, all with a passion for their business and art.  nearly every sunday lately we've spent meals with friends, but this was a new and fun idea of bringing together those with a common bond (food) in a place we love (hamilton park) to form new friendships (and put faces to instagrammers i already stalk) and have a great time.

while living in such an urban environment, especially so close to big, scary new york city, i never would have thought that i would have found such neighborhood pride, so many local connections, such a small-town feel.  it's events like this that really make us feel like we made the right choice to plant our roots in jersey city.  we felt honored to even be invited to such an event with so many talented people, and can't wait for the next one!

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cheers to monday!
jenn


p.s. go check out these new-to-me local artists/entrepreneurs/creatives from jersey city:

eightymag
chicpeajc
sewbie
caviar noir
e.tittlemouse (not-so-new to us :P)
joan michel
eat and be mary
downtown natch
modest mind clothing
deen boutique
chadner navarro

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

urban sanctuary

have you found your urban sanctuary?

is it that big patch of grass in a park where no pets are allowed?

is it that spot that says "no trespassing" but you do anyways and you get away with it?

is it that cliff that's so high that the sounds of city life disappear?

is it smack in the middle of times square where the sounds are so loud, but strangely comforting?

last weekend we found "our spot". and it's just a short bike ride away.  we rode our bikes up (and up and up, literally) to the jersey city heights neighborhood where there's a sunday morning farmers market in riverview fisk park.  while the ride to get there was pretty intense with the steep hill and the incredibly hot and humid weather, the destination was worth it.  we picked up some cold brew iced coffees from mod cup coffee, perused the vendors at the farmers market in the park, picked up fresh vegetables for the week (including the biggest bunch of basil i've seen, purchased for just $2), snagged some stuffed croissants and perched ourselves up on a weird concrete platform overlooking the NYC skyline. 

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when scouting for a spot to eat our goods, we spotted what looked like the remnants of a really cool building. there's nothing left but just the foundation a few steps up from ground level.  do we go up there? it's so cool, why isn't anyone up there if we're allowed up there? is it going to fall apart if we go up there? my engineer mind said "lets do it! if its been here this long, 2 people aren't going to break it!"  in reality, just the edges were a bit worn out, and it was quite the nice hideaway.  hung likes sitting in the grass, but hates the bugs.  this was the perfect compromise! a picnic on the concrete :P  we had the best views though, so it really was a great spot.  it was quiet, there was a breeze, we felt alone.

yeah, we'll be heading back.  if not for the spot, definitely for the coffee, THE BASIL, and the spinach-and-cheese-stuffed croissants.

jersey city, you win my heart again.

cheers.
jenn

Friday, July 11, 2014

city lights

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some of our best summer nights are those where we make dinner at home and go for an evening stroll.  lots of times we're too busy caught up in what feels like a race during the week.  there's rarely an evening that we relax and slow down.  if we're not going to kickboxing, we're going to dinner with friends, we're working late, we're making plans with friends we never get to see enough.  if we've got a half hour to spare, it's enough time to walk to the bodega to pick up those two things we need.  it's sort of our "thing" that we're on the go with no looking back.

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but when these two came to visit,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

well hello summer!

somewhere between moving to a new position at work and jersey city having the BEST weather this summer, a whole month has flown by since my last post! it's not that we haven't been doing anything fun, it's actually quite the opposite.  our home is now dinner-party-friendly, visitor-friendly, and project-free (for now).  the weather is great for evening walks, sundays at the beach, and bike rides in the city.  hung and i spent the majority of last summer traveling, so we're trying to fully take advantage of being at home this summer.

a few weeks ago my dad and stepmom visited from florida.  they were the first family to see the new house, and what a blast it was! while hung and I are used to being on the go and walking til our legs fall off, it's pretty typical that visitors who don't live in a city get pretty zonked by the end of the first day.  it was sort of nice to be able to come home around dinner time, eat food at home, relax for the evening (instead of staying out until the wee hours of the morning) and sleeping in.  we still got to enjoy the best hours of the day and do everything on the list.  

we took a trip on the circle line for the very first time for all of us! surprisingly, this super-touristy-but-must-do adventure turned out to be pretty awesome.  i don't think i'll be doing it again, but i'm glad we did it! who knew that the northern-most end of manhattan was so forest-like? and that there are so many islands around it? i mean, really, most of the time you even forget that manhattan itself is an island!

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for lunch we headed over to brooklyn to eat outside at surf bar's back patio/garden.  you might as well call it a beach without the water, because the floor is sand, even in the inside part! what a perfect setting for one of the most beautiful days of summer.

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on the way home we walked to milk sugar love, my first time eating it! first of many, i mean.  we've been there a few times since, and are never disappointed (how CAN you be with THOSE flavors!?) i'm so in love with that place, and the idea that now i can get it any day of the week, not just on the days they are at the farmer's markets :) :) :)  they are located right on hamilton park in jersey city, what a perfect spot to grab a cone and stroll through the park!

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the next day we headed to pier 13 in hoboken, where we enjoyed gorgeous views of manhattan, the hoboken waterfront, and ate brick-oven pizza from a food truck (practically hung's dream).

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the rest of the time was spent cooking at home and re-watching the entire first season of orange is the new black (now i've got THEM hooked on it too!) because i needed a good refresher before i started in on the second season (who's finished with it!? omg the last episode was good!)

of course when family visits they can never stay long enough, but at least we get to see them again in august.

cheers.
jenn

p.s. can you tell we got a new camera lens!? we're loving the low aperture if you haven't noticed already :P

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

reduce reuse recycle

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just a friendly reminder of how precious this fragile world of ours is, and that finding clever ways to reduce your consumption, reuse goods and packaging, and recycle everything you can make a bigger impact that you will ever know...

bouquets and baskets flower shop has two of these beauties lining their corner store front, and i'm in love with them!  instead of sending that big chunk of metal to the scrap yard, junk yard, or worse, the landfill, these claw foot tubs were recycled and repurposed for a beautiful, fitting-for-the-brownstone-filled-neighborhood sidewalk garden (that dogs CAN'T relieve themselves in and kill the flowers).  and hey, it makes the neighborhood pretty too and gives someone a reason to smile when they walk past :)

cheers.
jenn

Monday, June 9, 2014

supper club date night

june is an action-packed month for us, with no more weekend time to ourselves.  a few months ago i planned a DAY date exploring williamsburg and we loved it.  although I wanted to plan another adventure date, this month just wasn't going to give us the chance.  last tuesday i saw sam a.m. cafe's supper club menu posted for thursday (see it on their instagram, twitter, or facebook), and the lightbulb turned on in my head... supper club it is!

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last week's menu included lamb ragu. two of hung's favorite foods in 1 dish: slow-roasted lamb and pasta, so i knew it would be a win.  what i didn't know was how good the REST of the meal was going to be! lamb ragu was just the fourth course of FIVE.  i thought that because there would be 5 courses, the portions would be itsy bitsy.  hung ate a sammich before we left the house, and i had a few bites too.  i could have been rolled out of the place that night i ate so much.  normally i feel zero guilt asking for a box to take food home, but for some reason (i.e. the food was so good) i couldn't leave anything left on the plate.  i even consulted hung to take up the last bites when he knew i looked miserable but still eating.  first world problems? absolutely. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

look up, jersey city.

if you live an urban life, look around you.  look at the people.  look at the ones walking the streets alone.  how many of them have their heads in their phones, their minds on other things, possibly trying to navigate through tourists or slow walkers, possibly making sure to avoid stepping into dog poo (it's incredibly disgusting.  reason #1 i will never have a dog in the city. i don't like to pick it up either. but i would if i had one. ok. rant over.)

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sometimes though, it's worth it to pick your head up, and look up.  a lot of cities are old and have amazing ornate details in the buildings, the sun shines on the buildings in the most beautiful way during sunrise and sunset, and the diversity of people will astound you.  i had a doctor appointment yesterday on irving place in manhattan.  the street is just a few blocks long, and picks up where lexington ave would continue south if gramercy park wasn't in its way.  with a few minutes to spare before the appointment, i took my time taking in all the new views of this just-east-of-union-square street i had never seen before.  it made me think that if new yorkers just slowed down a bit every once in a while, they would grow an even greater appreciation and satisfaction for living in this wondrous place.

taking in irving place with my own eyes, and not a lens, was beautiful.  last night i decided to "look up" while on an evening run.  i made a point to go down by the water to catch the last bit of sunset reflecting off of the financial district's glass-covered skyline, and see the colgate clock lit up.  taking a moment to see the beauty just in my own neighborhood put a smile on my face (well, perhaps that and the endorphins spewing out from my run). sometimes it's fun to document these smile-worthy scenes too ;)

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cheers.
jenn