NYC Vacation


With good ole Winter Storm Nemo in full effect Thursday night, E and I were a little nervous about actually being able to get out of town on time. Luckily, our flight wasn't delayed except to de-ice the plane, and we made it to NYC around 10:00 or so at night.

Upon exiting the airport to find a cab, we were approached by a lady asking us if we wanted a ride to Manhattan for $40. It seemed like a decent deal, and we didn't see any cabs in our immediate vicinity, so we accepted. She led us to a nearby parking garage, loaded our luggage into the back of a large, black car, and told us to get in the back seat while she left to find us a driver. Thankfully, my creep meter kicked in while she was gone, and we collected our luggage and scurried off to find a cab. Back at the airport, we easily located the line to get a taxi, and got a legitimate ride to our hotel for $40 including tip. That was our only close call of the weekend.

We checked in to the Madison Square Garden area Hampton Inn, took the elevator up to the 18th floor (second-to-top floor, so close!), and settled into our room, the size of which reminded me of the small rooms in Paris. But the fact that we each had a very comfortable bed to sleep in was enough for us as we watched a little TV and fell asleep.


Friday was our early day since I wanted to get to Lincoln Center by 9 to watch the arrivals for the Project Runway show at 10. On our way to the subway, we located a Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks for an easy breakfast. I had Dunkin's new brownie batter doughnut - sooooo good.

Before leaving for NY, I had mapped out most of the subway routes we needed to take, so I wasn't too apprehensive about it. Once we purchased our Metro cards, I realized the only challenge was figuring out in which direction we wanted to go on our train of choice. I took a guess and guessed right. Thanks to Google maps and the maps in all the stations, the subway system was not too hard to conquer, and I didn't mess up once! As far as knowing which way to turn once we got outside, that was another story. I probably turned the wrong way every single time. Thanks again to Google maps; otherwise, we would've walked by where we needed to be far more often than we already did. No thanks to my Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone for dying on me halfway through the day...I keep thinking I've had this phone for three years, but it's actually only been a little over one. It feels like ages. But I digress.

After getting turned around a couple times, and staring at maps on our phones, which were quickly covering with wet snow, we finally saw the hallowed building, and I became giddy.

To my surprise, there wasn't a huge crowd gathered, which shouldn't have been a surprise at all considering the weather. Only a dozen or so people stood under the covered walkway, waiting to spot a celeb or well dressed showgoer. Before I was fully prepared with my camera out, Jay McCarroll, winner of Project Runway Season 1, walked by. I'm not as familiar with the first three seasons, and I wasn't used to seeing him dressed so tamely, so I was completely caught off guard and didn't have time to do anything really. I was a little more prepared when I saw Casanova (Season 8 and All Stars Season 2) walk by. My camera was still not in hand, but I was able to get out a "Hi, Casanova" as he passed. He said "hi" back and continued out his way. Then, I finally got my camera out and handed it to E while I tweeted excitedly on my phone.

Our area near the entrance began to get more crowded, so E suggested we move closer to the street where people would be entering the walkway. While we were moving, I walked right by Seth Aaron Henderson (winner of Season 7), but again, didn't have my camera on hand. In our new location, a lady with a camera approached me and asked if she could take a picture of my outfit for her website. I of course consented to that, and she handed me her card. The photo later showed up on

No, that coat was not at all practical in the wet rain/snow mix, but it sure did get a lot of attention!

We hung out until 10 when the show was scheduled to start; and although we saw a lot of people that looked important, the only other one I could identify was Viktor Luna (Season 9), who was the only PR contestant I snapped a picture of that day. And unfortunately, it was blurry. His studded leather jacket was awesome, though.

On our way out, a man from asked to shoot a few pictures of my outfit and asked where each of the pieces were from, and I gave him my blog URL and stuff since I'm a loser and didn't print out business cards. Feeling pretty exhilarated from all the morning happenings (more me since E's not a PR fan), we headed to the meeting place for our TV and movie sites bus tour. Since we were early, we stopped in briefly at Ellen's Stardust Diner so that I could charge my phone. It appeared to be a pretty fun establishment with a singing waitstaff, who seemed to favor Disney songs while we were there. I can't speak to the food since we weren't in there long enough to eat before we boarded our bus waiting across the street.

Our bus tour guide Gary led the trip and pointed out iconic locations, such as Central Park, Radio City Music Hall, Wall Street, and other locations seen in movies and TV shows such as Seinfeld, FRIENDS, Spider-Man, I Am Legend, HitchGhostbusters, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sex and the City, and many more. He also showed clips in movies and TV of some of the locations we drove by. Along the way, we were able to get out of the bus and walk around at the FRIENDS apartment building, Ghostbusters fire station, SoHo for some shopping, and the arch in the square whose name escapes me. Unfortunately, we had picked probably the worst day for this tour - it was raining pretty much the whole time. The earlier wet snow had turned into rain, and would turn back into snow and sleet later. It was freezing and pretty miserable to walk around in, but we pressed on. The upside of it was that the city was relatively desolate as a result.

In front of the FRIENDS apartment building

The tour ended at McGee's, the Irish pub that inspired MacLaren's from How I Met Your Mother. E and I went in to enjoy some lunch and themed adult beverages. To drink, I ordered The Marshmallow, which was hot chocolate spiked with marshmallow vodka. E got Robin Sparkles, a fruity mix of Crown Royal, cranberry, and apple pucker. E fully enjoyed her drink and the burger she ordered, and my crab cake wrap was pretty good as well. The Marshmallow hit the spot and was just what I needed to warm up.

After lunch, we took the subway right back to SoHo for more shopping. With the weather being less than ideal, we only hit up the stores where we knew we'd probably find something to buy. Neither of us had been in a Uniqlo before, so we started there. I found a cute, shiny chartreuse skirt and a yellow sweater to replace the one I had to donate, and E bought a gray waterfall cardigan. Oh also, I forgot to mention earlier that the only store we had time to go into during the bus tour was Topshop, where we each bought some socks. Random, but they came in handy. Back to this shopping excursion, we next popped into Zara but didn't find anything. I also wanted to be sure to visit the Michael Kors and Christian Siriano shops, which were in opposite directions. At Michael Kors, I bought this bracelet, and I found a deeply discounted blouse that is admittedly a smidge too small but I'm going to make it work for me at Christian Siriano. I later learned that the flagship Kate Spade store was in the same general area, but we ended up going to the 5th Ave location the next day.

Let's see, after shopping, we were waterlogged and exhausted and decided to go back to the hotel to change clothes and charge our phones before finding dinner. We didn't want a big production for dinner, but we did need food in our stomachs before heading to the Empire Hotel next for drinks, so we asked for advice at the front desk. The woman working there suggested we try the food court/buffet/cafe/convenience store-type establishment across the street. How convenient! I was starving, so EVERYTHING looked good to me, and they basically had everything to choose from...except for the burrito that I was craving. E, still full from lunch, wasn't as enamored with the place as I was, but she did find a sandwich to eat while I ordered some General Tso's chicken. My local Chinese food place at home is so good that it's hard to compare, but this stuff was OK. It did the job of filling my stomach.

Lincoln Center was a lot more hopping when we arrived the second time that day - around 8 PM. Instead of hanging out there, we ventured across the street to the Empire Hotel, which appeared in Gossip Girl and served Gossip Girl-themed drinks. I'm only on Season 2 and didn't get the reference, but I sure appreciated the drink I chose! We both went with Dorota's Secret, which was basically pear vodka and champagne. So ridiculously good. I have to try recreating it at home. Although we could've sat there all night enjoying tasty cocktails, the price and our general fatigue caused us to stop at one and call it an early night.


We had a lot that we wanted to get done on our second and last full day in New York, and we must've been excited about it because we woke up at like 7 even though we planned on sleeping in. Our first stop of the day was the Empire State Building, which we could walk to from our hotel. In fact, we almost walked right by it. The side of the building doesn't look like much from street level; plus it was under construction. We stopped at the Starbucks next door to caffeinate and eat breakfast, and then paid to go up to the 80-somethingth floor because it was less expensive than going all the way to the top. On our way up, I couldn't help but be reminded of the Tower of Terror attraction in Orlando. When a man behind us in line started whistling the Twilight Zone theme, I knew I wasn't alone on that. Once at the observation floor, we took in an impressive view of the city, mostly standing inside because it was so bitterly cold and windy outdoors. But we did venture out to get a few pictures.

For a couple years, I've been hearing about the elusive Dry Bar, a salon that only does blowouts. It sounded like a fun thing to do before a special event, but the concept hasn't fully caught on in Milwaukee that I know of. Dry Bar was definitely on my list of to-dos while in NYC. With plans to go see a Broadway show later that night, we scheduled blowouts for around lunchtime to give us time to get there after the Empire State Building. To kill time, we did a little souvenir shopping and then stopped at Macy's so that I could spend my gift card. E bought a circle scarf, and I bought some red Chanel nail polish, which I look forward to donning for Valentine's Day.

Since there was no good subway route I could find to the Murray Hill location of the Dry Bar, it took us probably 10-15 minutes to walk there, and we showed up right on time for E's appointment. Except that they were running very behind with being short staffed from the storm, and we ended up waiting 10 or so minutes before we could get in. It wasn't too bad for us, but some of the other patrons had places to be, and it sounded like the wait only got longer as time went on. We kept it simple and both ordered the Straight Up style and were both very happy with the results. My blowout didn't fare too well out in the wind, but E's lasted through the entire next day.

On our way to the subway, we stopped at Pie Face and each bought an adorably tiny apple pie. I'll have to ask E how she liked hers. I thought it was pretty yummy, but I prefer my fruit pies warm. They sure were cute, though. Our next stop of the day was to Project Runway destinations Parsons and Mood.

We stopped outside Parsons long enough to get a picture of me with the building, then continued on to find Mood. I knew Mood would be hard to find since a friend had told me it wasn't at street level, but I couldn't remember anything else she had mentioned about the location. After passing it once, we finally found the address, but it was just a gate. No way to get in. A couple other fans walked by at the same time we did and gave up when it appeared the place was closed. I walked down the road a little more and spotted glass doors with the same address that opened into a lobby. We called to the fans, who had already crossed the street, and walked in. From there, we joined a bunch of other fans in a manual elevator, and went up to the third floor.

I walked in with E trailing behind while I tried to understand the basic layout of the store. I had a project I needed fabric for, so I had a general idea of what I was looking for, but the store is huge and overwhelming. One corner was particularly crowded, and I quickly saw why - Michael Costello (from Season 8 and All Stars Season 1) and Kooan Kosuke (Season 10) were in there shopping! I hung back and took a few pictures, but then got the guts to ask Michael for a picture when I walked right by him a minute later.

Ew, I look terrible. Good thing this picture is blurry.

E and I continued to wander around the store. Eventually, in the upholstery section, I found the toile-patterned fabric I had in mind for this dress, but the $35 price tag turned me off. I didn't find anything in the sale section that jumped out at me, so I headed back up to the printed cottons and dropped $70 on 5 yards of Marc Jacobs fabric (which I didn't realize was Marc Jacobs until after I had picked it out). Now I'm super nervous about this dress turning out. Luckily it's supposedly an easy pattern. For reference, here's how the same pattern looks on Jessica of What I Wore. Oh I also picked up a Mood T-shirt.

With my increasingly heavy shopping bags, we next took the subway a stop or two to Times Square to stand in line at the TKTS booth for Broadway tickets. We arrived almost an hour after the booth opened, which would've normally been a problem, but apparently the bad weather had scared many people away. There was still a big line, but it moved very quickly. We snatched up some Rock of Ages tickets in almost no time.

The frigid temperatures were wearing on both of us, and neither of us really wanted to take a stroll around Times Square. Even though it was relatively not busy, it was still packed with tourists, and I don't know that I would've had patience for all that with my giant shopping bags and freezing extremities. However, before heading back to our hotel and finding dinner, I still wanted to check out the Kate Spade store, so we did that first, not really caring that it was out of the way. That's the great thing about the subway. I'm definitely a fan of public transportation now.

Back at the hotel, we didn't have much time to relax before we had to change for dinner and the show. Although there were a couple restaurants friends had recommended to us, we didn't have enough time for a sit-down place. We ended up at a small food court place for a quick bite right down the street from the theater. We also spotted the Intercontinental Hotel, where Nev from MTV's Catfish had posted a video of earlier. We had a little bit of time before the show, so we hung out in the lobby but didn't see any sign of Nev or Max. Bummer.

Rock of Ages was a very entertaining show, and it was held in a small, intimate theater. Even though we were in the back row of the balcony, I still felt like they were excellent seats. It was cold in there, though. But yeah, the show was good, if not kind of racy, and I enjoyed the 80s rock. There were quite a few times where I busted out laughing at some of the antics and randomness. I'll have to watch the movie version on Netflix sometime.

We were pretty beat after the show, but we decided to back to the lounge bar of the Intercontinental to see if we could spot Nev. I tweeted him, but he never showed, not that I realistically expected him to. E and I each ordered a very strong but very tasty sangria (can you really go wrong with sangria?) and then rode back to our hotel a little tipsy.

Waiting in our room were the tiny cupcakes we picked up earlier in the day, and those were a nice little snack to end the night with. The cookie dough flavor was delicious! As was my cinnamon one. I can't remember where we bought those cupcakes. E?


Sunday, we woke up way too freakin' early again even though we could've slept in. With our last day there, we decided we needed another good sit-down meal in NYC and located a brunch place in TriBeCa called Jerry's Cafe. I wanted to get down there since I heard a lot of celebs live over there, including Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly. Well, that was true up until a year ago, which I learned while sitting at brunch.

Another thing we learned while at brunch was that the state of New York does not serve alcohol on Sundays until noon. For us Wisconsinites, who are accustomed to such brunch staples as mimosas and blood marys, this was some disappointing news. However, my eggs benedict and cappuccino were delicious.

After breakfast, we walked along the water for awhile, froze, and ducked into another cafe called Kaffe 1668 for some hot chocolate and biscotti. We couldn't believe how many strollers we saw around TriBeCa. It definitely struck me as a family area. I could totally move there. Ha. Not surprisingly, no celebrities sightings. Yes, sometimes I'm creepy, but I don't think we were being that creepy about it.

Anyway, then it was time to make our way to the airport, so we subway-ed it back to our hotel to collect our luggage, and cabbed it back to the airport with plenty of time to spare. The flight back was bumpier than I would've liked, but my cray-cray pills kept my nerves at bay. We had no delays, and left sunny New York and came home to Wisconsin to find rain.

All in all, it was a fun and busy trip, and it solidified the fact that I am indeed a city girl. I can't wait to go back!

What we wore:


  1. Have you ever heard of I wasn't sure what toile fabric was but I just did a search for it on and it came up with 85 results. It may be a place to keep in mind for future projects. They e-mail coupons sometimes if you are on their mailing list. I've only bought fabric from them once, but plan to again.

    1. Wow and most of them are like $6 a yard! Methinks I'll have to make this dress pattern twice. Thanks for the tip!