27 November 2019

Countdown to Christmas with GLTC

The countdown to Christmas is such an exciting time but it can feel like a long wait until Christmas day if you're a child. Something our children look forward to each year is opening their advent calendar, which as well as providing a little treat each day helps them count down the sleeps until Christmas morning.

Great Little Trading Co Wooden Advent Calendar

This year we have been very kindly sent a beautiful Wooden Advent Calendar by Great Little Trading Co to test as part of our testing team role and we love it for several reasons:
  1. It's incredibly well made and doubles up as a decoration too. The girls love the cute little characters on top!
  2. It's plastic free and reusable making it a sustainable option as we can keep it forever. I love creating Christmas traditions for the girls and really like the idea of using the calendar year upon year and it becoming something they'll remember when they are older. 
  3. You can fill it with whatever you like! The girls love chocolate coins so I'll be filling ours with those, but you could also put in stickers or little Christmas notes with festive activities on. GLTC have a brilliant set of printable ideas over on their blog which you can download HERE
  4. There are 24 easy to open doors and behind each door there is a hidden message telling you how many sleeps there are until Christmas.
  5. It's well sized with a small footprint, but with enough space behind each door for me to include three little treats meaning the girls can share it. 
Great Little Trading Co Wooden Advent Calendar

I can't wait to fill it up this year and every year after and I know the girls will love opening it each morning. You can find this calendar and a whole host of gorgeous Christmas decorations and gift ideas over on the Great Little Trading Company website.

Me x

*This is a collaborative post.
We were kindly gifted the calendar as part of our GLTC Testing Team role*

1 November 2019

Three Days In New York

Last November I spent a long weekend in New York with two wonderful and much treasured friends. The three of us met when we had our first babies and have formed a friendship that has gone from strength to strength over the last seven years -  even when one of us emigrated to Australia!

The view of Brooklyn Bridge from DUMBO

Together we booked and planned our trip in just two weeks. This is most unlike me... I am one of those people who likes to research my trips and have a detailed itinerary. I guess when we're travelling with three children in tow I do that for peace of mind but a girly trip was entirely different. The main purpose was to see each other and everything else became a bonus, albeit in one of the most incredible cities in the world! Between us we simply made a list of places we'd like to go and things we'd like to experience, then roughly made a plan each day after a quick look at the weather and a map. 

The view from our apartment in New York

Staying in an apartment in Midtown Manhattan we were pretty much able to walk everywhere. This gave us a real feel for the city but also meant we were able to chat while we walked from one place to another. Jet lag meant we were up and out pretty early having had a quick breakfast in the apartment. The whole time we were there I felt like I was in a movie - even thought it was my first visit to New York it felt so familiar. I felt like we saw so much in the short time we were there as well as ensuring we stopped to take it all in. We undoubtedly only scratched the surface of what this amazing place has to offer, but I wanted to share our 'itinerary' with you in case you find yourself in New York for the weekend so here it is:


Day 1 


Tiffany's

We couldn't walk past Tiffany's and not go in... numerous floors of iconic jewellery and even a restaurant on the top floor where you can have 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. (Apparently there is at least at 30 day wait list so you definitely need to book this in advance, rather than attempt to walk in like we did!)


Brunch at the Plaza

We found ourselves feeling rather peckish as we arrived at the corner of Central Park and right next to the Plaza Hotel, so we nipped down into the food hall below for some brunch. It's full of gorgeous places to grab a quick bite to eat including cheesecake, cupcakes, pancakes etc. We opted for avocado on toast, smoothies and coffee sitting at the counter of the 'Tartinery'

Me enjoying the sunshine in Central Park


Central Park

I could have easily spent a whole day here. It is an amazing place of calm, surrounded by skyscrapers and all I had imagined it to be and more. We took a tuk tuk tour in order to see as much of it as possible in the short amount of time we had. Our guide was funny, took us to several famous spots and pointed out lots of interesting sights that we might not have found otherwise. It was a good whistle stop tour, but it was very expensive for what it was so I think I'd prefer to wander at leisure if I ever go back.

John Lennon Imagine Memorial in Central Park

Times Square

Times Square was much smaller than I had pictured but no less amazing. It's not somewhere I'd want to spend any length of time but the bustle and all the lights on the billboards, combined with the steam coming up from the subway are a must see sight even in daylight. 

Times Square New York

We got a bit carried away with excitement when we were here and popped into one of the Broadway theatres and booked tickets to see School of Rock the following evening... it turns out that New York is a great place to be impulsive!


Rockefella Centre

We didn't go up the Rock as all three of us aren't great with heights and we'd planned to see the skyline one night from the comfort of a rooftop bar! Wandering around the bottom of with the iconic Christmas tree and ice rink at the front of it was pretty amazing in itself.


Saks

Saks is right across the road from the Rockefella Centre and their Christmas lights show is amazing if you happen to be there over the festive season. We popped inside too but as it was Black Friday it was a little manic!

Saks department store at Christmas


MoMa

We planned to go to MoMa on Friday as it is free entry between 4pm and 8pm (normally $25). It was well worth a visit with original artwork by Van Gogh, Monet and Andy Warhol to name just a few of the iconic artists exhibited there.

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol at MoMa New York

Cocktails at Baccarat

When we came out of MoMa it was dark and across the road we spotted the draw of twinkling lights which turned out to be the most incredible bar in the Baccarat Hotel where we sat for a few hours chatting with drinks, nibbles and the most wonderful service.

Day 2 


Empire State Building

We didn't go up the Empire State building once again due to a residing fear of heights, but we did walk right by it on our way to the High Line and enjoyed looking back at it across the city. It looks particularly iconic when it's lit up at night. The whole skyline is amazing - we were lucky to have beautiful clear blue skies while we were there too providing the most glorious backdrop.

Empire State Building Street View

The High Line 

The high line is an old disused rail road which has been converted into a 1.45 mile elevated walkway through Chelsea, right next to the Hudson River. There's lots of artwork along the way and it's really peaceful spot  to wander along with some fab viewing platforms looking down long streets lined with brownstone buildings. 

Artwork along The High Line New York

We joined the walkway on West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues just by 'Think Coffee' where we had hot drinks, doughnuts and a 'Brookie'. (A Brownie and a Cookie together in case you were wondering - and every bit as tasty as it sounds.) The High Line and the area around it is great for people watching, bohemian boutiques and so many atmospheric places to eat and drink.


Chelsea Market 

Chelsea Market was one of our favourite spots where we lost ourselves in a gorgeous book shop called Posman Books, wandering past flower stalls, and admiring gorgeous interiors shops for our imaginary loft apartment! We also had a long lazy lunch with a wine flight at 'Corkbuzz' and just soaked in the atmosphere of it all. 

Chelsea Market New York

Cocktails at the Standard at sunset

We had late afternoon drinks in 'Le Bain' at The Standard at sunset - a rooftop bar with glass walls and the most amazing views of the skyline. It was a really cool place to watch the sun go down and see the city change from day to night. I would absolutely love to have pre-dinner drinks in 'The Standard' itself, which has the same views but is much more formal, you need to book and be dressed to impress though. (Which we weren't after a day of sightseeing!)

School of Rock on Broadway

We finished our day with a quick slice of pizza and 'School of Rock' on Broadway. The cast were absolutely fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed the show. I'd most definitely recommend it, although I probably enjoy the London West End theatre experience more as it just feels a more special.

Day 3 


Ground Zero

I felt like I couldn't go to New York and not visit Ground Zero. It was a very emotional few hours spent at the memorial and in the museum and an experience that I won't ever forget. The survivors tree, colour of the sky art installation and white roses on the names of those who lost their lives on their birthday will particularly stay with me. 

Survivor Tree at Ground Zero

The new One World Trade centre stands magnificently next to the memorial and is absolutely incredible.

One World Trade Centre New York

Brooklyn Bridge

From Ground Zero we walked to Brooklyn Bridge and then across it, looking back at the skyline. We could also see Lady Liberty in the distance and then the Manhattan Skyline in the other direction. The bridge itself is beautiful and a really pleasant stroll across, although busy!

The view looking back from Brooklyn Bridge


DUMBO

DUMBO Stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass and is a super trendy area of Brooklyn with some amazing spots to watch the world go by and just wander around. 

DUMBO, Brookyn, New York

We had coffee and sweet treats in 'One Girl Cookies' and then wine sitting in the window of a lovely little restaurant called 'Atrium'. It was so much quieter in comparison to the bustle of Manhattan and felt like a really relaxing place to be.

Coffee and sweet treats at One Girl Bakery in DUMBO

Jane's Carousel

You can't visit DUMBO and not go on Jane's Carousel no matter your age. It's a beautifully preserved Victorian carousel in a glass atrium with the most amazing views of the city and at just $2 each it was a wonderful bit of magical escapism!

Janes Carousel, DUMBO, New York


Dinner in Greenwich Village

From Dumbo we got a Uber to 'Pinto Garden', a great Thai restaurant in Greenwich Village which has a really intimate setting that I'd highly recommend. Ask to be seated in the enclosed garden at the back, it left us feeling like NYC locals!

Things I'd like to do if when, I go back:

I've literally thought of New York every day since my visit and cannot wait to go back, In fact, I've already starting saving!
  • Spend more time in Central Park with lunch at the Boathouse on the Lake.
  • See the Flat iron building and Washington Square Arch
  • Pop into New York Library and see the original Pooh Bear and friends.
  • Grand Central Station - we had a really quick look at this but it’s absolutely beautiful and somewhere I’d like to sit and have a drink and people watch a bit more.
  • Explore more of Chelsea, Greenwich Village and West Village
  • Have pancakes, eat a cupcake and have pizza - How I didn't get round to doing these things is beyond me!
  • Take a walk around Battery Park
  • Explore more of Brooklyn
 I'd love to know your favourite New York spots, please do share them in the comments below and I'll add them to my 'to visit' list for next time!

Me x