All Posts By

CiCi

Uncategorized

Review of Koala Crate by KiWi Co.

January 22, 2018

** This was not sponsored by KiWi Co. And all opinions are truthful and my own. Have a wonderful day folks!

One of my best friends, Max and Loggie’s Auntie Bonnie, bought us a 3 month subscription to Koala Crate for Christmas. This was one of the most thoughtful gifts we’ve ever received. I am a stay at home mom with very active toddler twin boys. Without saying, it’s absolutely necessary to find activities to keep my boys occupied or my house will explode from their unspent energy. I am a crafty kind of mom and enjoy doing artsy things with my kids. However, I hate having to think of different activities and then going out to get specific supplies for it. This box has everything ready and makes life a whole lot more convenient. I am a mom of twins, I am all about convenience.

Kiwi Co. is a company that specializes in subscription boxes that provide arts, crafts, and science projects for kids to do at home. There are 5 product lines geared towards kids of different ages. Max and Logan are 3 years old and are in the Koala age range. These boxes are educational, creative, convenient and fun. I opened the boxes and the paperwork that came with the activities alone were already so beautiful. Hence, my initial impression was a very good one. Each box comes with a storybook and an instruction pamphlet that also has additional craft ideas you can do with your children beyond the activities included. The instructions are thorough and easy to follow. I appreciate how well thought out and carefully curated the boxes have been. I also find the quality of materials really good and impressed by the creativity behind it all.

I am sharing several of the activities we got to do so far! I am not sure if the box repeats it’s activities but this will give you an overview of what they offer. And with confidence, I will be renewing my subscription once the one my girlfriend bought us expires.


Jellyfish Game

Likes: Wonderful for fine motor skill development. A lot of the components required the boys to thread string through holes. i.e: ribbon through little holes on the jellyfish body to make tentacles. String through small foam buttons.

Difficulty Level:
 Moderate difficulty. There were a lot of steps in this activity but the boys only needed help with tying a couple knots but everything else they managed to do on their own.

It also was a really fun little game in the end. After they complete their jellyfish, it sticks to a window. By pulling on the strings, the jellyfish moves and dances around like its swimming. Super cute and they had lots of fun making this one!

Mushroom Lantern

Continuing the first box’s theme of illuminated nature, we are making a glow in the dark mushroom!

Likes: They kids loved how you have to “charge” their lanterns in the sun and then run into a dark room to see it glow. They also liked the activity’s painting component.

Difficulty: Easy. There weren’t to many steps, larger components made everything easy for them to handle. They needed help with pushing the foam disk into the mushroom stem but everything else they did themselves.

Glowing Firefly

Likes: This activity had the boys stuff a glow-in-the-dark sock with batting and taught them the use of elastics. The motion of stuffing a small sock helped with their hand movement. Taught them to be patient and stuff a little at a time.

Difficulty Level: Moderate. Logan needed help with opening the sock to insert his stuffing. They both needed help attaching the wings and they didn’t know how to hold open the elastic with one hand to put it over the body of the firefly. I intervened a lot more with this activity.

Rainbow Tote Bag

The second month’s theme was rainbows. This was our first activity. The tote bag was soaked and rung out. The kids placed coloured tissue paper squares all over the bag. With an eyedropper, they added water to the squares. We left the bag overnight and the colour from the squares leaked into the bag, creating a rainbow dye effect.

Likes: Loved the use of the droppers! It helps develop Max and Loggie’s fine motor skills and finger movement. We used our own droppers as the ones that came in the kit were a too stiff for their little fingers.

Difficulty Level: Super easy. They placed paper squares everywhere and dropped water on them! As I said, love love love the use of droppers!

Rainbow Cloud

Quite possibly the cutest craft we’ve ever done. A cloud pillow with a rainbow on it?? C’mon!! Too cute!

Likes: Once again, the motion of stuffing batting into a pocket helped them with their finger movement which I love because Max and Loggie’s fine motor skills aren’t the best. Peeling the backing off the felt stickers were also good practice for finger movement.

Difficulty Level: Easy. There weren’t many components to this activity and not many steps. Made it go quickly and smoothly. And the end product is so damn cute!   

Stained Glass Windows

Making the classic stained glass windows! Do you remember making these as kids? I loved making them and it brought back so much nostalgia. It was also a bit surreal doing it with my own kids.

Likes: The nostalgia made it such a special activity for me. The kids could care less how happy I was. Ha. They boys loved punching out the black construction paper shapes. It was neat to be able to show them their finished product up against a real window, to show them the translucent nature of the paper and how the sun could shine through it.

Difficulty Level: Moderate. Logan had a hard time with this activity. He couldn’t get pass how sticky the “window” part of the activity was. The tissue pieces didn’t stick on straight and because it was already stuck on, he couldn’t adjust it and got frustrated. I had to help him quite a bit. The black shapes that came with the activity also confused them. They needed a lot of guidance to combine the shapes to make a “pictures” of mountains, the sun, and clouds. 

That’s all the activities we did thus far. As you can tell, I LOVEEEE this subscription box! Its such a wonderful way to do screen free activities with your children. I recommend it to everyone, especially stay at home moms with children who might not have the opportunity to do crafts like children that attend daycare and school.

I am all for non-toy gifts and truly feel a subscription to an activity or science box would be so appreciated by parents. Hope this review helped and gave you some craft ideas to do with your children!

 

 

Lifestyle

25 favourites.

January 10, 2018

I have a thing for lists. Writing them, following them, reading them. Lists everywhere! Here is some of my most used and loved items of 2017. Which is now being posted in 2018… Apart from lists, I also have a thing for procrastination. This list is very telling to where my life is currently at. It’s a mashup of beauty items, books I loved, to the toddler potty we prefer. Ah, the life of a young mother! Without any further ado, here is my list for 2017!

Well, here it goes!

 

1 Anker Elite Dual Port USB Charger We have so many apple products in our home, there are charger ports and cables everywhere. This dual port makes it convenient to charge both boys’ iPads at the same time. And when we travel we only need to bring the one. I got mine off Amazon.

2 North Kinder Tees – There are many local shops we love. North Kinder is one of them. We adore our striped and light grey tees from this brand. Lightweight, stretchy, great fabric. If you are in the #yeg area, Max and Maude sell the brand or you can get it online.

3 Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – A book of poems that destroyed me. Broke my heart and yet, uplifted me. Easy read but so good.

4 Splendid White Tee – I am a white tee and jeans kinda girl, through and through. Splendid tees are my absolute favourite. So soft and has a great drape. I recently got this new deep V Neck one at their boutique in New York. But check them out online here.

5 Toddler Nike Free – We love these sneakers! Flexible and super lightweight. It’s a great everyday shoe for active boys. My boys have the older model and I actually prefer it to the newer one. But we will be getting them the new model once they outgrow these.

6 Little Blue Truck – One of the boys’ favourite book of the year. I’ve read this a million times and can probably recite it in my sleep…

7 Kit and Ace – What can I say, as I am getting older I like pricey basics. ha. Yes, Kit and Ace is expensive. But yes, they are so worth it. I’ve never been so impressed with a line of clothing. Their technical cashmere fabric is so unbelievably soft and wearable but you can throw it into your washing machine. Chasmere and washing machine. What! To this date, none of my pieces have warped or gone pilly. Mind. Blown.

8 Batiste Dry Shampoo – Bastiste has been well known for their affordable but good dry shampoos. It’s one of my favoties, I like the scent, it removes all oil without being sticky. Great affordable product. I like the dark/brunette colour.

9 Heart in a Bottle by Oliver Jeffers – My pick for kid book of the year. This book will keep kids happy and destroy parents… just sayin’. Poignant and heartbreaking all at the same time.

10 Madewell’s Slouchy BeanieI have the oatmeal colour and its been my go-to winter headwear. I got mine in New York. But you can shop them online.

11 Ikea Lockig Potty – It was the year of potty training…and pee everywhere. Boys will be boys. There are many potties on the market but this ikea one does such a good job and its under $10! Simple construction and effective in its use. Win all around.

12 Two Piece Sleepers – Our favourites are from Gap, Carters, and Old Navy. My boys sleep and live in these. We’ve even worn the ones with cute pants out to dinner. No shame.

13 COSRX Morning Gel Clenser – I started to make the effort and take better care of my skin. This cleanser is affordable, easy to use, and doesn’t dry out my skin. I bought mine off Mikaela-Beauty.com

14 Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Outlaw – I’m in love with this matte liquid lipstick! Incredibly soft on the lips, not drying and very comfortable wear. The shade outlaw is a brick red and absolutely gorgeous. I got mine at Sephora.

15 Made by Mary Double Disc Necklace – This initial necklace has not left my neck all year. Mine are the 3/8″ round discs. Dainty, feminine, and personalized, all things I love in jewelry.

16 Lodge Cast Iron Skillet – I’ve heard so many good things about cast iron. And after watching so much Pioneer Woman this year, I went and got one. And let me tell you, nothing cooks a steak the way cast iron does. The 10″ pan now has a forever place in my heart. You don’t need anything expensive, a standard, original, lodge one you can find at camping stores will last you forever with proper care.

17 Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray – Yes, another dry shampoo on my list. I am a mom after all, dry shampoo is pretty much a shower in a bottle. This one is much more expensive and higher end then the Batiste listed above. I have very silky, heavy hair that never holds its shape. This spray gives my hair volume and texture to hold buns and curls. And it smells great!

18 Custom Star Map – One of my most favorite purchases this year. These are original, personalized, astronomically accurate star maps made by an Astrophysicist P.HD. She uses her own algorithms and personalizes it to the date you choose from where you are located. This star map was made for Max and Logan’s birthdate, in the city they were born. It’s one of the coolest art pieces in my home.

19 Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat – My husband lives in Carhartt, mostly for work and function. The boys and I have slowly stolen his work gear. We love his collection of Acrylic hats, they’re ultra warm, stretchy but keeps it shape. Because of its stretchy nature they fit the boys really well and the larger fit looks really cute on them!

20 Letterboard – These are all the rage aren’t they? And for good reason, brings back all the vintage feels and they’re super cute! Mine is the informant size in black and I got it off of @shopwordsandco.

21 1/4 Sheet Pan – These smaller sheet pans are so useful! Because of their small size, its perfect for prep work, for small batches of baking. It’s simple and functional, all the things I love in a product. Many brands carry these such as Nordic Ware. You can also find them at any kitchen store.

22 Cravings Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen – I loved this cookbook! It was food you actually crave. Fried chicken wings, mac and cheese, sausage gravy and biscuits, dutch baby pancakes, seriously deadly mashed potatoes. Photos are beautiful (why else do we buy cookbooks!), Teigen’s witty anecdotes were enjoyable and most importantly, of the recipes I cooked, all worked for me. Definitely a favourite on my cookbook shelf.

23 The North Face Arctic Down Parka – My winter jacket was old and a good 10 years old. It was time for a replacement. We live in a very extreme climate, harsh winters and we do not joke about our winter jackets here. This parker is both functional, warm, and flattering due to the cinched waist. Let’s hope it’ll last me another 10! I got mine at SportChek on their boxing day sale.

24 Nickelodeon Toddler Briefs – The boys started potty training this year. They are very tiny babies with absolutely no bum and no hips to speak off. All conventional toddler underwear we found (Gapkids, Carters, Osh Kosh, Old Navy etc) fell right off them. I randomly found these Nickelodeon branded Bubble Guppies underwear at Walmart and these are made much smaller than the other ones and it fit my boys really well! And at 10 dollars a pack, they’re affordable.

25 Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick – Bold, high impact, highly saturated lipstick. Color payoff and pigmentation is amazing. The colour Beetroot has been on my lips a lot this year. I got mine at Sephora.

And that’s it! 25 of some of my most used items this year! What made your list?

 

Lifestyle

1 Second Everyday

January 5, 2018

In 2017, I started a yearlong project. I would take a video every single day and compile our year in one second clips. It was a more daunting task than I expected! It was hard work to remember to take a video every single day. But I did it! This isn’t the most artistic video, hell, the whole month of January is in the wrong orientation. Sorry about that and PSA: Shoot your phone videos in landscape y’all.

Everyone should do this! No matter how bad your day is, there is always a second somewhere that is good. And that’s a good reminder for anyone going through a tough time. There is always good, always happiness to be found.

I used the 1 Second Everyday app, it’s a bit expensive. You can take video on your phone camera and upload it to the app or use the app directly to take your videos. I did the former. If you don’t want to purchase the app, it’s pretty easy to compile your own clips and splice the video together with iMovie.

A note: this video was edited and some clips removed. No one wants to see baby butts besides their own parents I think… haha.

But without further ado, here is Team Wonger’s 2017!

I encourage everyone to give this a try. It’s such a wonderful way to document your family and your year!

Kids Motherhood

our current reading list

November 23, 2017

My house is filled with a lot of crap. It’s true. My kids have way to much clothes, toys, too much stuff. But one thing I will never mind them having more of, are books. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts for the children in your life but can’t think of what to buy: give the gift of reading. No parent will be unhappy with more books. Here are some of our favorite at the time being. There are “mommy picks” but I’ve also included those cheesy rhyming books randomly bought on grocery shore shelves too. Because sometimes it’s not the educational books your kids love, it’s a book of a little yellow duck that has them truly captivated. And that’s okay too! Here it goes!

  1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, rhythmic and melodic. A book about the letters of the alphabet climbing a coconut tree. Simple, brightly coloured, good choice to familiarize little ones with letters.
  2. A Little Stuck, we love Oliver Jeffers books. Mommy appreciates the gorgeous artwork and kids will love naming random objects and the repetitive sounds. It’s simple, silly, and short. Good for toddler’s limited attention span.
  3. Little Blue Truck, the boys loveeee this book! It’s their top pick at bedtime. Great rhyme and rhythm. Good introduction to farm animals and the noises they make.
  4. Green Eggs and Ham, a beloved Dr. Seuss classic. It’s probably the longest book the boys will actually want to sit through. Max will still request this book even though we’ve read it a million times.
  5. Good Night I love You and other Caroline Jayne Church books, these were among the first books we read to the boys. Easy reads for getting them ready for bedtime.
  6. What Do you Do With a Problem?, definitely more of a mommy pick. Beautifully illustrated and a great message about turning your problems into a positive opportunity. A bit mature for younger readers but I read it to them anyways!
  7. A Cuddle For Little Duck, we found this book on a random walmart shelf. Max loves the story of a little duck going about doing little duck things. He requests this book often and even demands it be put into his bed!
  8. Peppa Pick Bedtime Box Set, another Max and Loggie pick. They are obsessed with Peppa Pig and these books are exactly like the show. Sure, it’s not that well written and borderline annoying but the boys love these books and I aim to please.
  9. Goodnight Moon, another classic. It’s calm moods and sleep inducing prose usher in bedtime. Even though as an adult reading it, the book is kinda creepy. Like why is there an old lady in the corner saying hush?? And why are there mice in the room??
  10. We Are Better Together, a cute book teaching names of various objects.
  11. Construction Alphabet, because my boys are their father’s sons and anything that has the word construction in it flies by really well with Steve.
  12. Finding Nemo and Dory, First Look and Find book, this isn’t a reading book but more of a “Where’s Waldo” for babies. The boys love pointing out items in the legend and have the other find it. And at three years old, they still open this one. To make it more of a challenge, we’ve started counting the fish and discussing what colour they are etc.
  13. Bright Baby ABC, Numbers, and Animals books, along the same vein as the find and look books. These help with building vocabulary with its large pictures and different scenes. My kids love them.
  14. Are you My Mother? I loved this book growing up and hopefully it will become one of my children’s favourites.
  15. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, another very popular kid’s book and Loggie’s favorite.

Books I plan on buying the boys this christmas:

  1. Here We Are, Once Upon an Alphabet, Heart in a Bottle – all by Oliver Jeffers
  2. A couple more of those Peppa Pig books I promised the boys.
  3. Little Blue Truck leads the way and Little Blue Truck Christmas
  4. Please, Mr. Panda

I randomly follow Eva Chen, an Instagram fashion writer and former magazine editor and she just released a list of books her daughter loves. I stumbled upon the link as I was writing this and felt it was very relatable. Follow her on IG, she has the cutest kids! Here’s the link to her list. http://mailchi.mp/evachen212/hooray-childrens-books

Happy Reading!

Home Lifestyle

diy rustic christmas wreath

November 15, 2017

Steve and I both love Christmas, we love the spirit of the holidays, giving gifts, the food. But when it comes to Christmas decorating we are as different as night and day. Over the years, I’ve slowly incorporated rustic, farmhouse elements into our decor but if Steve had his way, our home would be covered in 80s silver tinsel and brightly coloured lights. We now have separate christmas trees…because that’s necessary to our marriage’s survival. We have a “family tree” covered in tinsel, random ornaments, neon bright lights. And we have my more stylized tree upstairs looking out our bay window.

This year I remade our wreath, I wanted a simple, rustic one with only greenery and some pinecones. I was vetoed on the cream coloured bow as Steve requested “at least something red” on it. So I made a plaid bow. Compromise people, that’s how marriages work. But our joint vision worked in the end. I retained the farmhouse vibe and he got his red Christmas bow. Win!         Here is what I used to make this super simple winter wreath. I also repurposed parts of my old wreath such as the pinecones and the pine branches. Use what you have in your Christmas storage!

Supplies
– Grapevine Wreath (any hobby store will carry them, I got mine at Michaels), mine is 18″
– Faux Sprigs of winter greenery such as cedar, dusty miller, eucalyptus, boxwood or pine. I bought three sprigs.
– Pinecones, smaller ones work better for this project
– Large ribbon for your bow
– Wire Cutters
– Scissors
– Glue Gun
– Floral wire, if you really want it secure.
Steps
1. Cut off the sprigs of greenery and placed it on your wreath until there is a desired shape. I used the larger flat, cedar leaves first and then added pine and smaller greenery.
2. When the general shapes decided, push the sprigs of greenery into the grapevine branches. I didn’t want to permanently affix them so I can reuse the wreath in the spring with different foliage. But by all means, wire and glue the branches down if you want it permanent.
3. I glued the pinecones onto the foliage and not the wreath itself. So when I remove the folliage later on there won’t be residue glue on the wreath.
4. I tied a four point bow (found a tutorial on YouTube) and glued the bow onto the greenery.
  Ta da! That’s it! Super simple, super easy and super pretty! Happy Decorating!

Food Lifestyle

freshly squeezed.

November 14, 2017

When Steve bought home this Breville Citrus Press Pro, I was highly skeptical. He spent top dollar for a gadget to make orange juice? How often do I need to make freshly squeezed orange juice to even justify an appliance like this? How practical is it to have one appliance serve only a single purpose–to juice oranges? As I said, highly skeptical.


How my mind has changed. I can’t even admit it to Steve how much I love this thing. It sits on my countertop and I juice oranges every day. Have you had freshly squeezed orange juice? There is really nothing like it. It’s fresh, healthy, and a great alternative to all the sugary juices I tend to crave.

Besides my every day use, this appliance is perfect for large batches of orange juice, lemonade or limeade. The Pro version has two filter baskets for light or heavy pulp. There also is a  cheaper version of this press but I don’t own it to give it a proper review. But I recommend to check specs of both to find which suits your needs the best.

The machine is powerful and juices citrus fruit at lighting speed. You cut your fruit in half, put the section onto the stainless steel cone. Pull the handle down, the pressure will start the machine up. It whirs and squeezes every drop out. Its crazy how it leaves practically an empty shell behind and it’s so fast! If your a fan of fresh juice, you know it takes a lot of oranges to make up one cup–it takes three to four to fill a standard mason jar. It’s a lot of work! But with this baby, there is no more killing your arm juicing a million oranges, this thing does it in the fraction of the time and effort. After it’s done, throw all the removable compartments into the dishwasher!

This would make a wonderful, luxury Christmas gift for that special someone in your life. It’s an appliance someone wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves but would love to have. And like me, they’d probably come to use it a lot!

Happy juicing!

Kids Motherhood

’tis the season of holiday pjs!

November 6, 2017

Ahh, its that time of year, there’s nothing quite like it! I’ve compiled a quick list of comfortable items for your little one this holiday season. Weather its a for a casual photo session or you’re looking for a cute and unique pj set for Christmas morning, here are five small shops for you to check out! Support small and local business, makes the spirit of the holidays even more special! Happy Shopping!

Avenue G’s #CookieThief and #MilkThief Pj sets, $38

Bear and Roo Christmas Tree and Hipster Deer Pj sets, starting at $41

Little Navy’s Personalized Leggings (Christmas-y print I recommend would be “Plaid Forrest”), $40

Whimsical Fox’s Milk and Cookies Romper, $42

Whistle and Flute’s Kawaii Snowflake Sweatshirt, $40

Happy Shopping friends!

Kids Motherhood

developing Max’s fine motor skills

October 20, 2017

Max is very easily frustrated when he can’t figure how to do something with his hands. Coupled with the fact that it’s hard to understand him through his whining, has made for a difficult situation. I don’t take developmental milestone charts too seriously. Kids are kids, they are learning at different rates, some will be faster, some will take more time. It’s unhealthy to get wrapped up the percentages your kids are supposed to be at or comparing them to other children who seem to know much more. But, with that said, I have noticed Max’s fine motor skills aren’t quite up to speed. When I recognize a “problem”, I will try to find ways to help. If he is frustrated all the time, it’s not fun for anyone involved.

Here are a couple fine motor activities we’ve been working on at home and that he enjoys. Hope this gives some ideas to help develop fine motor skills. Even if there is no reason for concern, these are fun activities to add to your playtime rotation! As always, if you are concerned about your child in any way, little or big, contact your Pediatrician and start the conversation. No worry is ever invalid when it comes to your own babies. Continue Reading

Food Kids

sugar cookies with toddlers: tips and recipe

October 16, 2017

Baking with toddlers. It’s going to be messy, might even be frustrating. However, if you learn to let go of expectations, accept that your kitchen will be covered in flour, it can be a great time! It helps nurture their creativity and improve their fine motor skills. Being in the kitchen with my kids are some of my fondest memories. Here are some tips to make the activity more seamless and sharing one of our favorite sugar cookie recipes!


This recipe comes from my dear friend Emma. What are the odds of meeting someone who lives next door to you, is the same age as you, who has the same hobbies and has a child the same age as your own?? Those odds are slim friends and I hit the freaking jackpot. My neighbour is better than your neighbour. Just sayin’.

Emma’s sugar cookies are thick, fluffier and has a cake like texture due to the sour cream. Another thing I like about this recipe is it’s not very sweet. I find sugar cookies use a lot of royal icing and that alone is very sweet. A cookie base that is less so makes for an overall more balanced cookie eating experience. I will also share a thinner, crispier sugar cookie down the road but for now, try these!

Emma’s Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Variations
1) No sour cream – use 2 1/2 cups of flour
2) Substitute 1/4 flour with 1/4 cup cocoa or add 3 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate

Method
– Mix dry ingredients, flour, salt, baking powder. Put aside.
– Cream butter, sour cream, and sugar.
– Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.
– Add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Mix until soft dough forms.
– Divide dough into two batches. Mould into two round discs, cover with plastic wrap.
– Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400F
-Flour table surface and rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/8″ or thicker. Thicker cut makes for nicer cookies.
-Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 6-8 minutes or until edges start to lightly brown.

I used this icing recipe for my cookies. Its a straightforward royal icing for sugar cookies. Click here.



Tips on decorating cookies with toddlers

  • To minimize mess, use different containers for sprinkles, decorative candy, and sanding sugar. Use one container at the time.
  • Use shaker bottles for sugar and sprinkles. Keeps the flow slower and hopefully, more clean.
  • Have them decorate their cookies on cookie sheets (I used two small quarter sheets). It helps catch stray sprinkles. Afterwards you can dump leftover sprinkles into a container and reuse.
  • My kids were too young to pipe their own cookies, so I piped the icing for them. But you can buy ready made icing in tubes that they can squeeze onto their cookies.
  • Alternately, you can also put little bowls of icing, give them a spoon and help them spread.

Their cookies won’t be the prettiest but it will be made with so much love. And they will be so proud at their creations. Let go, expect a mess, and have fun! Enjoy!

 

Featured Lifestyle Travel

New York State of Mind

September 29, 2017

It took me 32 years to visit but alas, here we are! This trip was a special one, we were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary and it would be the last big trip without children for awhile. Because we were travelling without children, we took the opportunity to go somewhere that wasn’t very child friendly. A big city, with restaurants that didn’t just serve chicken nuggets, a place where we could be adults again. New York seem to fit the bill.

Despite its rats, piles of garbage, and the occasional wafts of urine, there was something so special about New York. Its tall skyscrapers, yellow cabs, cobblestone streets, and bricked town homes are what my dreams are made of. The constant energy, hustle and bustle, its cool vibes are intoxicating and infectious. I cannot wait to be back! Until then, here are some highlights of our trip and our New York City travel guide!

If you’re looking for our New York Eats, click here. We ate so much, it warrants its own post.

– Tips on visiting Attractions –

Purchasing an attractions pass can save you some money if you plan on seeing a lot. There are several official options such as the New York CityPass, New York Pass and many others. Do your research and find which option suits your travel needs. We bought the New York CityPass; a booklet which included 6 attractions and expires within 9 days. This was perfect for our weeklong trip. We didn’t feel rushed and could take our time spanning the sites over the course of the week.

A note on the CityPass Booklet
When these Discount Pass companies say you can bypass all the lines and skip the wait, it’s not necessarily true.
– The lines that we were able to “bypass” or were “fast tracked” were: Empire state building, we bypassed the long ticket line, they scanned our booklet directly right before entry. Bypass lines are also available for 9/11 Museum as they also scan the book directly.
– For Top of the Rock and Statue of Liberty, we had to wait in the regular ticket line to transfer our booklet coupons into official tickets before entering the attraction.
– At The Met, we skipped the line and went to the round info desk. They changed my ticket quickly and got me into the museum without the wait.

Our Favourites
We loved the Top of the Rock and preferred it over the Empire State. Top of the Rock had better views that weren’t obstructed with a concrete wall (I’m short). Also, from the Top of The Rock, you can see the Empire State building which made for a better skyline.

I also really enjoyed the Statue of Liberty. Its as touristy as it gets but really worth the trip for first timers. If you want to save money, you can take the Staten Island Ferry and go around the Statue.

I also enjoyed The Met. If you are really into museums, this one is amazing and HUGE. Plan your day around your visit and even then, you won’t see everything.

I could’ve skipped the Empire State Building, it was older, busier, and as I mentioned above, the views at Top of the Rock were better. There were long lines and wait times for the elevator. However, we did go around sunset peak time. We went to this attraction to use up our CityPass booklet.

Out of all the attractions we visited, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was my favourite. It was an eye opening journey. Not being American and a bit weary of the whole ”MERICA IS THE BEST!” subculture; I had a preconceived notion that this place would of been very biased and very Pro-America. And to my surprise, it wasn’t the case. The museum had a wonderful flow, carefully curated and you can feel the thoughtfulness that went into preserving and memorializing such a horrible time in history. It was subjective, insightful, instructive, and incredibly sad. It is a solemn place, filled with so much memory and loss. It made me respect New York so much more. I can’t say enough about this memorial, the stories I read, the videos I watched, it was so well done and well worth the visit. And revisit.

– A Note on Transportation –

Subway
The most cost effective way to get around NYC is their Subway system. It is super intimidating to look at on a map but once you get the hang of it, it’s generally easy to use. Note to travellers: the train you’re taking will designate uptown or downtown, this is not reference to a geographical location like “downtown” or “chinatown”, it means you are going North (uptown) or South (downtown) from PRECISELY the location you are. Never go by the color of the train on a map, go by the letter and number of the train. Another good thing to remember: there can be separate entrances to the subway designating uptown or downtown, if you go down the wrong entrance, you’ll be on the wrong train.

Here are some useful Subway Guides here and here. And many subway apps to that have offline maps which are useful underground.

Downside to the subway? You see many uh…interesting…people. And by interesting, I mean crazy. So crazy.

There was a dude, emptying his suitcase frantically to the left of us. He was screaming over and over that he didn’t want to go to jail again…

Uber or Car Hailing Companies
Initially, we were intimidated by the subway system so our main mode of transportation was Uber. The app is very convenient. I liked how it showed our route and had the full fare posted. It was convenient to pay and tip with the app. It was also nice that we weren’t running on a meter which made New York traffic more bearable. TIP: There are many of these hailing companies available in NYC and for some of them, first rides are free. It’s also cheaper to “share” rides, so your driver will do pick ups and drop offs along your route. This is a good option for longer, more expensive rides.

We personally used Uber and not once got in a iconic yellow taxi, but hailing a cab from the street is incredibly easy.

Walking
Arguably, the best way to see New York is to walk it. We planned our trip to certain sections of the city per day. Once we got to our general area we just walked everywhere. Bring comfortable shoes and turn that FitBit on! You’re gonna get some city miles on ya!

    

Trip “Itinerary”
I find it very useful to see other travellers itinerary. It helps me get a feel of how long things will take, how people separate their week to make the most of their time in certain places. It also gives me an idea of what to see and what to do. I’m including our very loose guide. We split Manhattan up into sections and our time revolved around what we planned on eating (true story, we love to eat). We also diverged from our schedule to see other things along the way. But I hope this helps those planning a trip to The Big Apple!

Note: Steve had food poisoning for the first two days and kind of slowed our plans down slightly. We crammed a lot into our last day. I wouldn’t suggest doing all of that on one day but we did manage it!


– 6 Nights in NYC – 


Wednesday/Day 1:
Land, Uber to hotel. Dinner at at Totto Ramen, walk Time’s Sqaure at night.
Thursday/Day 2: Top of the Rock, Rockafeller centre, Byrant Park, New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, Shake Shack
Friday/Day 3: Anniversary Date, Walk Central Park, Loeb Boathouse Lunch (Resos needed), The Met Museum, back to Hotel, change and get ready for early dinner at Daniel.
Saturaday/Day4: Explore Lower Manhattan, Dominique Ansel Bakery (cronuts!), Little Italy, Chinatown. Soho shopping, Greenwhich. Grab subway uptown to Yankee Stadium, ball game. Back to Midtown, dinner in Koreatown.
Sunday/Day 5: Flatiron, Eataly, Chelsea Market, Meatpacking District, Highline. Back to Midtown. Go to Empire State Building. Hotel, change and get ready for Broadway show. Book of Mormon at Eugene O’Neil Theatre. Walk around broadway and theatre district.
Monday/Day 6: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, 9/11 memorial and museum, Brooklyn bridge and explore Dumbo, Brooklyn. I wouldn’t do all three of these things in one day, you’ll feel a little rushed, I would allot around 3 hours for the 9/11 museum and a whole morning for Statue of Liberty.

That concludes our trip! What a wonderful way to celebrate our 5 years of marriage, happy anniversary Steve, how lucky and I to be doing life with you! xx

Click here to see what we ate in NYC!