Browsing Category

Featured

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Food Kids

Max and Logan’s 3rd Birthday Party!

August 14, 2017

Steve and I were debating forever if we were going to throw the boys’ a birthday party this year. As fun as they are, they are lots of work! We kept it to family and some of Max and Loggie’s best friends. We didn’t do a themed birthday like previous years. The loose “theme” was “Everything Max and Loggie Love”. Included was everything they loved eating, such as Oreos and popcorn, donuts and even cookie monster made an appearance. We wanted everything bright and colourful, essentially, fun! I did end up doing a dessert table and a cake (c’mon it’s me we’re talking about here). The dessert table may look impressive but it was very easy to set up with a lot of store bought items, just spruced up.

Dessert table: Here are a few ideas for your next party!

  • Oreo cookies dipped in chocolate and dunked in sprinkles.
  • Cookie Monster Macarons – This item is more of a specialty item. You can find your local Macaron maker and see if they will make a specialty kind. Or give it a go yourself with my tutorial here.
  • Birthday Cake Popcorn – Max and Logan love popcorn, this birthday cake version was a special treat! Recipes here and here.
  • Shortbread Dino Print Cookies – I used this recipe here (without the earl grey tea). I took a toy dinosaur and stamped its feet into the cookie before baking.

  • Store bought Timbits (donut holes), put them on a lollipop stick, dip in chocolate, dip in sprinkles. It was a favorite!
  • Little party cups filled with mini chocolate chip cookies and m&ms.
  • Cheesecake pots – Used this recipe, these pots can be made a couple days in advance, top with cherry the morning of the party and voila!

Decor: I used a lot of items we already had in our house to decorate the table. It was more of a rustic theme. Here are some decor ideas that are a bit more subdued but still kid friendly.

  • Toy Dinosaurs: I had them scattered here and there on the table for visual interest.

  • Tree cookies that we borrowed from my sister. Gave the table a more rustic edge and were neutral.
  • Dollar store stems of leaves. I cut them up and placed it around the tree cookies giving off a jungle, rustic vibe.
  • Wooden crates as risers to add height and dimension. I flipped them upside down and placed whatever I wanted on top.
  • Mason Jars, continuing the rustic theme.

Viola! Use what you have and make it work!

Entertainment
To keep the children entertained we rented a single bouncy castle for 5 hours and that alone kept the kids (mostly toddlers) happy for the entire party. Who doesn’t love a bouncy castle? Max and Logan still talk about it! We also had a piñata and lots of balloons to throw and kick around. We opened our sand pit with buckets and had water balloons as backup.

Food

  • To keep it simple, we had two camp coolers left out, one with adult drinks and one filled with water and juice boxes.
  • The main was a Taco/burrito bar. We smoked shredded pork shoulder and barbecued tex mex beef flank for the protein. There was a table with all of the fixins: shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, onions, grilled veggies, bell peppers and onions, Pico do Gallo, Peach and strawberry salsa, tortilla wraps and various hot sauces for everyone to assemble their own plate.
  • I also made a half a batch of Pioneer Woman’s Queso Blanco, threw it into a crockpot and had a bags of tortilla chips. This was my favorite food item! So so so good! Who doesn’t love melted cheese?!

Party Favorurs
For treat bags, we didn’t go with a “bag”, it was more of a treat jar. Continuing with our theme, we had mason jars filled with the following items Max and Loggie love.

  • A toy dinosaur
  • Two packaged Oreo cookies
  • A individual pack of fruit gummies
  • Avengers and Peppa Pig Tattoos
  • A mini container of PlayDoh
  • Starburst and Rocket candy to fill gaps
  • A toy car
  • We used a mason jar as a container because it kept with our theme and parents could re use the jar again!

And of course that day was so busy I forgot to take a picture of one!

Cake

I have been baking semi professionally for years. So no matter how big or small a birthday is, there will always be a cake made by me. This year to keep with the theme of “everything they love”, I made a cake with just that: everything they love. I kept the colors light but bright and all the elements on the cake are all the things Max and Loggie care about in the world. 🙂 So some trivia below for anyone who is interested!

  • Blue bus: They scream “blue bus” EVERYTIME there is an ETS bus around
  • Dump trucks: Because, well, boys. 
  • A green shower cap: Loggie has an odd obsession with shower caps
  • A bowl of random stuff: Max will make “soup” every night, he puts fake food into a bowl with a specific silver spoon and then puts it next to him to sleep…weird. We know.
  • Peppa Pig: Their current favorite.
  • Logan’s blankie: Because he will have this to the end of time.
  • Minions, Buzz Lightyear: Because they’re like every other kid.
  • Orange and Banana: Loggie and Max’s favorite fruit, respectively. 
  • Happy Meal box: Clearly, we eat there tooooo much.
  • An elephant: Logan’s favorite animal
  • Two JellyCat bunnies: Max can’t sleep without them.
  • Chocolate drip on the pastel cake as a subtle homage to Ice Cream which is their favorite food group. 😉

And there you have the cake that means so much to me!

That was their party this year. I swear it was only family and a handful of their best friends and I still went slightly overboard haha. Next year, Chuck-E-Cheese and call it a day! 🙂

Hope this gave you some ideas for your own birthday party! Team Wonger hopes you have any amazing celebration!

Featured Food Lifestyle

throwing a bridal shower

March 28, 2017

Many of my closest girlfriends are married and we’ve become pretty good at throwing Bridal Showers. We just hosted one for one of our best friends. It had a  slight Parisian flair and these are some of our tips for making your event go smoothly and less stressful!

-Planning-

1. Decide on a theme. If you decide to go without a theme (which is totally fine!) then decide on a general colour palette. Our shower had a underlaying Paris theme. We kept it vintage-y and subtle with blush pinks, beiges/creams, little black accents and lots of white. Having a dominate colour will help with decor decisions and keep everything consistent and unified.  Continue Reading

Featured Lifestyle

current favorite toddler tees

February 7, 2017

If you follow us on Instagram (if not, come join the party! @wongertwins), we have an obsessive love for the graphic tee. It’s stylish, comfortable, and wardrobe staple. To be fair, our favorite big box stores such as H&M, Zara, Carters offer very good prices on children wear, so we purchase the bulk of our clothes from them. What frugal mama doesn’t?? However, we are a big supporter of small shops, local stores, and ‘mompreneur’ companies. And when it comes to our graphic tshirt collection, we take the oppurtunity and support the small guys. Continue Reading

Featured Motherhood

our current favorite toddler apps

January 27, 2017

There are always debates revolving around technology and kids. But I’m for it. Sometimes I need to make dinner and not have them touch the oven. To do a load of dishes and not have them throw the knives around. Sometimes I just need them to be still and quiet so I can rest for a few minutes. Mom life, it’s a struggle. I also feel there are positives to regulated screen time and no, I’m not saying it to make myself feel better. Continue Reading

Featured Motherhood

mommy confessional: when you see your flaws in your children

November 17, 2016

Look at how cute they are there. Let me tell you, explain to you, ASSURE you they are not always cute. Sometimes they are monsters, borderline insane even.  Honestly, some days they make me question why I wanted children in the first place. Why would I give up my job, my life, my sanity to be stuck at home with two pint sized tyrants who seemingly want to make my life a living hell. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. ALL mothers have these moments. So let’s take a moment to remember all those moms who have come before us, who survived and lived to tell the tale…okay. Now we’ve got that out of the way.

Continue Reading

Featured Lifestyle

my favorite pieces of jewelry

November 15, 2016

I’ve slowly traded in the rings that turn my finger blue and invested in jewelry pieces I hope to wear forever. When I had Max and Logan, I gave up wearing jewelry. My fingers were swollen from pregnancy, the boys are young and I didn’t want to accidentally scratch them with metal or have them tug on something that was attached to my ear. Ouch. But when I do get the chance to go out, it’s a treat to put on something a little shiny, a little pretty. Continue Reading

Featured Motherhood

our toddler airplane essentials

August 23, 2016

Traveling with a toddler (or two!) is hard work. Its an anxious, nerve wracking, and cumbersome. But hey, you can’t let that stop you from living life and showing your toddlers new things or places! Because it’s stressful traveling with young children, your first line of defence is to be prepared. Almost borderline over prepared.

Continue Reading