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Thursday, July 31, 2014

biking at governor's island

we've owned our bikes for a while now.  like 2 years or something like that.  but we've only rode the bikes a few times! maybe it's the fact that the first 3 times we blew a tire, no big deal.  i vowed to make this year different.  now that our bikes sit in the landing of our building stairway that leads up to our apartment, we have to pass the bikes every time we leave and enter the house.  it's like a constant reminder that, yeah, maybe we should take them out.

one weekend we decided to do it.  we took the bikes down to grove street bicycles, got good tune-ups (and a new tire for hung's tire that kept breaking every time he rode it), and just did it.  we rode the bikes down to the exchange place ferry pier, and got ourselves over to manhattan.  did you know that the ferry is just $2.50 to ride on the weekends now that the world trade center path train is down on the weekends?  it's so nice! the ride is super quick, more comfortable (helllloooo personal space!), and while it does cost an extra dollar to bring your bike with you, the ferry drops you off at a prime bike-riding spot anyways.

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we, however, did not use the bike path.  instead we wanted to go to governor's island, a small island south of manhattan that's a part of new york city.  with all of the tourists and construction going on in battery park, it was mild chaos getting over there.  once we got to the governor's island ferry terminal (the small one next to the staten island ferry terminal) though, a $2 round-trip ticket got us over to the adorable, doesn't-feel-like-your-in-the-city island.  there's very few cars on the island, and bikers everywhere.  big grassy areas make it perfect for picnics, and the coastline wraps around the entire island (well that was an obvious comment, it's an island after all!). while food vendors fill up one corner of the island, the open space on the rest of the island is amazing.  it almost feels like a college campus in the summer time, with its big grassy open fields, plenty of art sculptures scattered around, and beautiful old buildings and houses. 

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for those of you without your own bikes, you can rent them on the island, and they even have those "family" style ones where everyone hops in to the buggy and everyone pedals!  also, you can rent the bikes for free for 1 hour any weekday morning from 10am-noon! it's like one of the few things in new york city that's free.

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it's definitely a good place to see if you want to get away for the day.  the island is SO small though, we were only over there for MAYBE 2 hours.  if we wanted to relax with a blanket and a picnic though with some music and rood reading material, i could have stayed all day.  instead we just packed sammiches and cherries in the backpack, ate on a park bench, and biked.

besides the hotdog that hung got as we passed through the food vendors (he's such a sucker for hot dogs!!) the trip was such a cheap outing: $2.50/ride and $1/bike on the exchange place ferry, $2/round-trip on the governor's island ferry = $18.  for less than $20, i'd call it a pretty good day (with some exercise thrown in too.  i gotta at least try to look good before i become mrs. phan :P)

from that day, we decided that we should take out the bikes at least once a week (or weekend). besides the trip to the farmer's market a few weeks ago, they haven't seen the sun again.  meh, we tried.  maybe this weekend.  maybe.

cheers.
jenn

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

jersey city on july 4th

in case you forgot what the 4th of july was like this year, my procrastinater-blogger-self can remind you today ;)

it rained, and rained, and rained, and everyone got depressed that it was raining.

then.... it stopped... and then....  if you were in liberty state park in jersey city.... you witnessed what was probably the most epic fireworks show in the country: you saw two shows in one. 

do you guys know the macy's fireworks that are always nationally broadcasted live on tv?  the ones we have been lucky enough to see on the hudson river in person for the past few years?  everyone near us was bummed that the fireworks were back on the east river this year.  jersey city stepped up its game, and talked budweiser into sponsoring a big celebration in liberty state park, including a food festival, concerts, carnival rides, Clydesdales, and, of course, fireworks in new york harbor.

hung and i stayed in all day, being lazy and being bummed that we had to spend our long weekend inside.  we didn't get to ride bikes, we didn't get to picnic in the park, i'm positive we sat on the couch while hung played video games and i perused wedding websites.  when the rain stopped, we corralled our friends, and convinced them to walk to liberty state park with us to just barely snag a spot just before the fireworks started. 

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while it's no short hike over there from where we live, we got there in about 20 minutes, and were surprised to see how much open space there was for us to find a good spot to see the show! i think the rain scared people away.  we landed in a spot between the two barges with identical shows, the southern show shining with the statue of liberty in the background and the northern show with the manhattan skyline in the background.

if that wasn't cool enough, about halfway through the show, we were able to see the macy's fireworks on the east river more-than-peeking through the skyline buildings! it was one of the coolest things i've seen in a long time.  as much as i want to say "i'm over fireworks, i've seen them enough in my life" i still get mesmerized everytime i see a good show :P

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perusing through the food trucks on our way home, we snagged truffle fries, onigiri rice balls, and lobster rolls.  post-show we all walked back to our house for box wine, indian snacks, and mario kart on the wii-u.
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we couldn't have asked for a better 3-day weekend!

cheers.
jenn

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

as new york as it gets, as jersey as it gets, all in one weekend

we were definitely thinking ahead when we purchased our condo with a "spare" bedroom.  for a couple who doesn't plan to have kids for at least a few years, it seemed a bit excessive considering the area we live in.  however, it's certainly been put to good use since we moved in and got the bed set up!  we've hosted hung's friends from high school, my friends from high school, my parents, our friend who lives in brooklyn (and stayed over past the point of ridiculous nightly train schedules), and most recently my friends from college.

my friend from college texted me sometime last week and asked if we would be in town the upcoming weekend.  the conversation went something like this

"no, we won't be home, but you can stay in our apartment if you need to."
"we have 4 box seats for the yankees game, and wanted to invite you."
"well in THAT case, we'll stay home friday night then!"

with the added bonus of seeing their just-under-3-month-old baby, we were definitely glad we stayed home for another night!  hung was able to cook dinner for them, make egg sammiches for breakfast, and make scones the next morning for them too, so he was a happy man too (and, obviously, we got to see another yankees game with great seats and free food.  who can say no to that?)

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the next morning we headed out for long beach island to see our jersey city friends who have a house down there.  gosh is that a cool area! nearly every home has waterfront access, with little canal-like waterways reaching through the neighborhoods in finger-like patterns.  while the weather didn't fare well on saturday, we still enjoyed staying in our cozy clothes on the porch eating junk food, reading trash magazines, and talking wedding talk.  it was like a girls weekend away, except the boys participated too (you guys are troopers with all the wedding talk :P). dinner at old causeway steak and oyster didn't disappoint, i learned that my new favorite drink is gin and grapefruit juice, and we still got to catch a few breezy hours on the beach on sunday before heading back to jersey city.


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(see, i said "cozy clothes". i didn't say they were cute)

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(we tried REALLY hard... but... i think we need more practice :P  next time we'll get more than 2 packs of sparklers, especially if we're going to insist on doing this after a few drinks!)

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hung and i drove up through some of the beach towns on the way home.  those houses are amazing.  i could do that drive everyday!

i can't be thankful enough that we have such great friends.  for some, we might not keep in touch as much as we would like, but we can always pick up again when we do see each other.  and for others, a weekend away together is the perfect way to relax and get to know each other better.

cheers, friends!
jenn

Monday, July 28, 2014

not a sit-down concert

....but in my FAVORITE music venue to date! have you ever been to bowery ballroom?  being in the back at bowery ballroom feels the same as "getting there early" to a show at terminal 5terminal 5 is big enough to get those crazy fans who get there insanely early just to snag the front row, so when you go thinking you're there "reasonably early", you're already 20 heads back. 

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with that said, if we never went to the naked and famous concert at terminal 5, we never would have discovered the colourist! their songs are catchier than i'd like to admit, and after seeing them open for the naked and famous, we couldn't get enough of them.  when hung told me they were playing at bowery ballroom, i couldn't say no.

opening for the colourist was first a local nyc band called mainland.  these guys... they're going to make it big soon, i can feel it.  their stage presence feel like they've been at it for years, and the lead singer has such a strong energy you can't help but dance.

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chatting with the lead singer after the show? sure!

when the colourist came on though, the crowd went nuts.  it's so fun going to these kinds of concerts.  you tell you're friends you're going to see "the colourist" and they have no idea who you're talking about, but when you go to the concert, everyone knows all the lyrics, and just. goes. nuts.  i mean, you would too if you saw the GIRL drummer at the front of the stage playing her heart out AND singing lead much of the time. 

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(can you tell our obsession with the drummer?)


The Colourist - Bowery Ballroom, Manhattan NYC from jenn @ beyond the stoop on Vimeo.

this concert was one of those "fuck it i'm already out late, lets get tacos too" nights.  who cares that it was a week night and i had work the next day. (ok i DID care the next morning when no amount of coffee could cure my sleepiness). but when you're just a few blocks from the corner deli, you gotta take advantage of it!

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(when i spotted elote on the menu, it totally trumped tacos that night)

sometimes you gotta live it up and be adventurous.  that's what new york city is for, right?

cheers.
jenn

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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