NYC & The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

NYC Taxi

There are few things I love more than visiting New York City during the holidays. To be honest, I love visiting New York any time of the year, but between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with the city dressed in its holiday best, it’s even more breathtaking.

Central Park turns into a winter wonderland with millions of twinkling white lights blanketing the trees and red bows and mini wreaths adorn the horse-drawn carriages. The department store windows on Fifth Avenue are dressed for the holidays (literally!) and food carts sell roasted chestnuts on every corner. Rockefeller Center transforms into a magnificent display with trumpeting angels illuminating the path to the enormous ice-skating rink and iconic 80-foot Christmas tree below.

In short, it’s magical. And I was over the moon to take an impromptu weekend trip to Manhattan earlier this month.

Below are some of the highlights of my visit. I will share more details in the next post. Hope you enjoy!

Plaza Hotel

Plaza Hotel TreeThe gorgeous tree in the lobby of the iconic Plaza Hotel gave the entire room a soft, golden glow.

We stopped by the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel for a cocktail before dinner at Gramercy Tavern. The Palm Court is a beautiful dining space near the front of the Plaza Hotel with a domed back-lit stained glass ceiling, plush seats, and a round marble bar in the middle.

Cocktails at the Plaza Hotel

I had a glass of Seven Falls Winery Merlot and B had the House Cider Rules with Don Julio Reposado tequila, agave nectar, lemon juice, fresh apple cider, and cinnamon powder. The House Cider Rules tasted exactly like autumn in a glass. Delicious!

The Winter Village at Bryant Park

The Winter Village at Bryant Park includes a large ice-skating rink and pop up collection of 125 boutique holiday shops featuring artisans who offer everything from local foods, handmade jewelery, and decorative items throughout the holiday season.

Bryant Park Ice Skating RinkThe ice skating rink at the Winter Village at Bryant Park.

We walked by on our way to Rockefeller Center and I couldn’t resist a peek in the holiday shops. Then we took a break on a bench near the Bryant Park tree with a cup of hot chocolate and a full view of the skaters and shoppers whizzing by. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Bryant Park TreeThe 50-foot tree at the Winter Village at Bryant Park


Holiday Window Displays on Fifth Avenue

Hands down, the department stores’ holiday window displays are one of favorite things about the holidays in New York. Anytime I am in the city between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, a walk along Fifth Avenue is a must.

One of the highlights for me this year are the Tiffany & Co. windows. Tiffany’s created various winter scenes inspired by 1950s/60s New York City, complete with moving figures and meticulously placed iconic Tiffany’s robin egg blue boxes.

Scenes include ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, enjoying a roaring fire in a high rise with views of the Chrysler Building, and a vintage yellow taxi brimming with the spoils of a Tiffany’s shopping spree (of course). Here’s a peek at a few.

Tiffany's Holiday Window

Tiffany's Holiday Window_1

Tiffany's Holiday Window_2

Van Cleef & Arpels created its own version of winter scenes.

Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels_Castle

Bergdorf Goodman’s one-word theme for its holiday window display this year is Inspired. The retailer features a series of windows inspired by the fine arts, performing arts, and applied arts. Each window showcases a different aspect of the arts including literature, architecture, theater, painting, music, dance, sculpture and film.

These windows were some of the most extravagant. Among other things, each one featured gorgeous designer clothing and incredible attention to detail.

Bergdorf Goodman_1

Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman_2

Bergdorf Goodman_5

Bergdorf Goodman_3

Bergdorf Goodman_4

Bergdorf Goodman_6
That’s it for now. More from my NYC trip to come soon. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

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Hot Cocoa: Happiness in a Cup

Creamy Hot Cocoa | On Mill Road
The extreme cold weather is continuing its run in the DC area. It’s not all that bad though. Earlier this week I used the snow as a convincing excuse to spend an entire afternoon in yoga pants binge-watching Downton Abbey (the best part of signing up for Amazon Prime, in my opinion).

Also, the recent snow days and temperatures hovering around 11 degrees inspired me to make this winter treat. I’ve never made hot chocolate from scratch and, now that I’ve tasted this, I don’t think I will ever go back to the little Swiss Miss packets.

I had most of the ingredients already and decided to include some additional flavor by using one of the remaining vanilla beans from my Vanilla Infused Vodka project.

Hot Cocoa Ingredients | On Mill Road

Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • Marshmallows

Prepare

Place the milk (I used almond milk, but you can use a combination of your favorite milk and half-and-half or cream) in a saucepan over medium heat. While it’s heating, split one vanilla bean lengthwise into two halves and scrape the inside of the pods to get the vanilla seeds. Add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk and mix to incorporate the vanilla flavor.

Once the milk begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Add the dark chocolate chips (bittersweet or milk chocolate will work too) and cocoa powder and mix to combine. Once the chocolate chips are melted, add the sugar and whisk together.

Place over low heat and reheat gently before serving. Pour into your favorite cup, top with marshmallows, and serve immediately.

Weekly Wish List [Winter Edition]

If you live in and/or near the U.S. you have probably heard of the subzero temperatures and extreme snowfall much of the Midwest and Northeast has experienced this week apparently due to a polar vortex.

Though those are the areas with the lowest temps and wind chills way below zero, I read that all 50 states experienced freezing temperatures on Tuesday, even Hawaii, and it was so cold that Anana, the polar bear at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, had to be housed indoors.

We didn’t get much snow in the Washington D.C. region, but it is still bone-chilling weather with temperatures down to 6 degrees. So I’ve been staying warm by bundling up and daydreaming of cozy winter wear this week.

Also, I realized I really like cable knit any thing, especially in neutral colors that are named after breakfast items like oatmeal and wheat.

Weekly Wish List 2

1. Calvin Klein Two-Tone Infinity Scarf | Overstock.com | $32.99 (on sale)

2. Cable Knit Throw | Pottery Barn | $79

3. Basketweave Hat & Mitten Set | L.L. Bean | Currently sold out

4. Satechi USB Portable Amazing Humidifier | Amazon | $34.99

5. Classic Cardy Ugg Boots | Ugg Australia |  $160

6. Shawl Cable Knit Cardigan | Gap | $44.95