- Rachel Reynolds
Our Quick Trip to New York
First things first, I just have to say it’s snowing outside right now and I’m warm and cozy inside with a coffee, blanket, and Leo by my side. The ultimate supreme writing weather. I know in a few months I will curse the snow, but for now I warmly welcome it, as it’s giving me all of the cozy, creative feels.
So, some of you may have noticed that I didn’t publish a blog last week.. whoopsies! But I swear, I have the best excuse: the most last minute, impulse trip to NYC. We were there for less than 24 hours, but no matter how brisk the time spent there was, I left feeling creatively rejuvenated!
One thing about me: if there’s a chance to go to New York, I’ll be there. I’m pretty sure that people either feel the exact same way as me, or they don’t - they either get that razzle dazzle or they think it’s overwhelming and gross. I took my first trip to New York when I was 8 years old with my sister and grandparents - it was August 2001, and we obviously had no idea the devastation that would happen just 1 month thereafter. It was really the only time I got to travel with my grandparents, and it was my first time on a plane - I ate too many peanuts and I threw up. We saw The Music Man. It was magical.
And while I definitely missed you last week, I’m so excited to share more about this recent NYC adventure, or what my sister-in-law Alex cleverly named the Manhattan Minute. Because it all happened so quickly, I thought it would be fun to break it down by time :)
Wednesday, November 9:
Curtis finds out he needs to go to New York tomorrow to meet some people for work. (This is his super crazy busy time with work, so you never know what could happen!)
We jokingly talked about me tagging along, but I had just gotten my Covid Booster that day, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel in the morning. Best to stay home! Sad though, because I love New York, and I wanted to spend time with Curtis.
Woke up feeling tired, but nothing a coffee (or 2) couldn’t fix! Take Leo for his walk.
Start packing up Custom Pet Ornament orders, Curtis starts his meetings.
Text Curtis that I actually want to go (since he is in meetings). He replies that he can get my last minute ticket with airline points, but we need a plan for Leo! (also shoutout to Susan and Rachel, who I was texting with and encouraged me to go!! <3)
My friend Kylie confirms that we can drop Leo off at their place - yay! They're the best. They have the show-stopping bernedoodle Lincoln (who you’ve probably seen me paint!), and it’s so nice that we always feel comfy dropping off Leo at their house, and they feel the same about dropping off Lincoln at ours. Between them, my grandma, my parents, and my cousin (who all also graciously watch Leo), we feel very lucky! It just gives total ease of mind for traveling.
Drop Leo off and the packages that need to be mailed.
Back at the house - need to pack in 10 minutes because not sure how busy O’Hare is! I packed jeans, a nice top, pajamas, leggings, shacket, a quarter-zip pullover, and a raincoat.
On our way to the airport!
At O’Hare with plenty of time to spare! That rhymed. Our flight didn’t board til noon. We got through security and then noticed the line at Starbucks wasn’t too long - a rare treat! I decided it was time for my first holiday drink of the year. Random side note, but Peppermint Mocha season is my absolute favoritee of year. Goodbye pumpkin, see ya later! I got a shaken espresso with no classic syrup, 2 pumps of peppermint and chocolate powder on top (what I think is a somewhat healthier peppermint mocha) and egg white bites - delicious. Also another random side note - the barista at O’Hare had my favorite sense of humor: dry. When I asked for the 2 pumps of peppermint, he very seriously asked if I wanted the pepper and the mint. In the midst of feeling a little frazzled, it just caught me off guard and made me laugh. I live for moments like that.
At our gate and we’re both getting some work done! I send out my Ornament Launch email, and Curtis has a few calls. We actually run into his coworker who happens to be on the same flight - yay!
I remember one of the artists I’ve been totally fangirling over the last several months, Sara B. Yo, lives in New York! I found her account when she did a collaboration with Estelle Colored Glass, and I’ve been obsessed with her bright, expressionist pop-art ever since. I ran to instagram dm and said ‘Hi! This is random - but I’m going to be in New York City tonight, would you like to meet for a drink tonight or for a coffee in the am?’ to which she said yes to and gave me her number! Yay! Friend artist date set up.
Board flight to New York! I never usually buy the plane’s wi-fi, I actually really enjoy the rare opportunity to disconnect - but because I had some research to do, I went ahead and got it.
Text Alex all the updates on where we’re staying. She used to travel to NYC a lot when she lived in Connecticut (now they live in Seattle!). She gives me dinner and breakfast suggestions that are close to our hotel (which is in Tribeca) - bless her. I cannot express how much I was craving a lox bagel. I mean, I’m always craving one, and I do visit Taste of New York in Chicago quite frequently, but I was so excited to actually get one in New York. We went to Sadelle’s last summer and I still think about it probably once a week. I knew we wouldn't have a lot of time for traveling around the whole city (luckily we got to do that last summer!), so these recs came really in handy. She recommended Zuckers for lox, which was right next to our hotel. Booked a reservation for 8:45 pm at Locanda Verde - Italian!
Land in New York! Damn you time change! Still, the city was absolutely glowing during golden hour. We took an uber to our hotel and I took all the blurry, touristy photos one could imagine.
Get to our hotel! Curtis booked it on Hotel Tonight, and when you actually book it to get a hotel tonight (as the name says), you can get some crazy good deals. Ours was almost half-priced - we stayed at The Smyth Tribeca and it was absolutely lovely!
Walk around to take some pics - so pretty!!!
Shower, eat some snacks, and get ready to meet Sara! Curtis has some calls and we just chill for a minute. I love a good hotel robe more than anything!
Leave to go meet Sara. Have a ‘what is life’ moment as I’m in the elevator of a shiny hotel in my (second) favorite city about to go meet an internet stranger, when 24 hours ago I was eating chipotle on my living room floor. Right when I walk out of the hotel, there’s 2 ladies in front of me who want to cross the street. The no-walk sign is on, but we all know people don’t really pay that any mind. I watch as one lady walks out to see if there are any cars coming, but simultaneously forgets to look at the bike lane (which had the green light). A biker screeches to the fastest halt I’ve ever seen and barely avoids hitting her. The lady instantly gets mad and starts cursing at the biker for speeding, even though he had the right away and did nothing wrong, and all I thought was wow - I love this crazy city.
Arrive at Weather Up, a cocktail bar that has recently blown up via TikTok. Apparently, blown up a bit too much, as there was barely any room to stand let alone sit. I text Sara that it’s a bit busy, and she says she’s outside and found a cute little Italian restaurant where we can sit at the bar and chat - yay!
Drinks with Sara! Have you ever made an instant friend? It is truly quite magical, especially one that understands your struggles and occasional loneliness as an artist / small business owner. We clicked instantly and talked about all the things - from how we got into art, working on finding our style and confidence, to boys, to crazy past jobs, to friends. She’s even lovelier in person, which I just think is really special - because you never really know who someone is via the internet. Also, her art is incredible! We both talked about our art dreams and wanting to build a community. The whole experience was just such a breath of fresh air, and I’m so thankful to have a new art friend.
Side note: I also just ordered this phone case from her site and I can’t wait for it to be here! She has a ton of fun phone cases and prints.
Ah! Time flew - got to power walk to dinner!
Arrived at Locanda Verde - so cute. Curtis and I peruse the menu for a few minutes before I need to launch my new Christmas Ornaments!
Ornaments launch! Chicago Hot Dog Ornaments sell out almost immediately and I wonder if I should have made more. You’re never quite sure what might sell (and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out), for me I just found a lot of joy in painting this colorful, eclectic collection. I think that’s important as an artist.
We order dinner! Wow, feeling like a total cool new yorker having dinner so late! We ordered the beet salad, lamb sliders, pappardelle, and grandma’s ravioli. Everything was absolutely delicious!
Time for bed!
Wake up, Curtis leaves for his meetings and I get ready.
Off to get coffee! I went to Blank Street and it was sooo good. I got a big pistachio latte with half the syrup. I’m mesmerized by all things in a morning of New York. The green and white street lights, the subway, the parents trying to get their kids to walk fastly to school, the dog walkers with multiple dogs in hand, the hustle of it all.
The moment I’ve been dreaming about: lox time. I arrived at Zucker’s Bagels and Smoked Fish and fell in love. Everything felt very old school as the man in the back yelled ‘good morning let me know what I can get for you!!’. Side note, I know New Yorkers have a rep for being rude, but the few times I’ve been there, everyone has always been really nice. I ordered the Zucker's Traditional on a plain bagel, and you can watch them make the whole thing right there. Y’all… I was in true heaven!! To top it all off, the cutest little pomeranian came in as they were finishing my order. SO CUTE
I found a table outside and just sat in my happy little place on earth. I had half my latte left, my bagel, and ultimate people + dog watching. I thought a lot about New York and why I love it. I think I love it so much because it never tries to be anything it’s not. It promises to be a vibrant, diverse, and dirty city - and that’s what it is. Trash bags on the streets and questionable smells and all. Paris is also one of my favorite cities, but I think a lot of people are disappointed when they get to Paris because it has been marketed in movies and art as this ultimate romantic place where you will be whisked off your feet, when in reality it is also a huge city that is real and has cigarette butts and pick-pocketers everywhere. It’s not Paris’s fault and I love her, but you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into when you go to New York.
I have 90 minutes to explore! While I would love to see so much of the city, I know I have to be wise with my selection - which is why I only choose things within walking distance. Sorry Central Park, I’ll have to catch you next time.
I start power walking to Battery Park, because I want to wave to my girl Liberty. This was the last nice day of fall, and Tropical Storm Nicole was expected to hit New York later that night - but at the time it was a beautiful day for walking.
Arrive at the park and see The Statue of Liberty! I also met this labradoodle named Benny, and asked if I could take a pic to send to Kylie because he looked just like a nyc Lincoln! Benny and his family were so nice.
I start slowly walking back, this time taking my time to take pictures and admire the city. I love the food carts.
Quiet time at the 911 Memorial. It really is so moving and powerful. During my walk that morning, I heard everything from sirens to cranes to people, but when you’re at the Memorial, you really only hear the waterfall. It is both heartbreaking and beautiful.
I collect myself and start walking around the area. Curtis’s meeting was in One World Trade, so I go get a better look at the new building (that’s around the corner from the Memorial) and all that’s going on around it. There’s a lot of construction, and a ton of bright, colorful art.
Start heading back to the hotel, I’m supposed to meet Curtis there at 10:30!
Stop into this little bakery next to the hotel to get Curtis a croissant and a water, and a grapefruit Spindrift for myself.
Pack up our stuff and haven’t heard back from Curtis, which is strange because he is usually a very prompt man! I decided to check-out of the hotel and wait in the lobby/restaurant. Everyone is very nice.
Curtis arrives - yay! He calls an uber to the airport, and I realize we have not taken one photo together on this trip, so we snap this one as we are quite literally walking to the car.
Arrive at the airport and time to fly back! I got a Wendy’s Frosty - I hadn’t had one in so long and it was so good.
Back in Chicago! We hop in a cab that is without a doubt the worst ride I’ve ever been on in my life. I was so car sick! We truly couldn’t get home soon enough.
Back home - hallelujah!
Go pick up Mr. Leo - yay! Put a pizza in the oven, and time to start watching The Crown.
And there we have it - our random, impulse, quick trip to New York! I know I will forever cherish these memories. I know we are in such a unique time of our lives where we are able to do these things with little commitment, and I also know that this time is short. I’m grateful for Curtis who supports my opportunistic attitude, even if not always practical.
Inspired by this trip, I painted this new artwork: A Glimpse of New York. I wanted to capture the vibrance of a morning in the city. My hope is that the viewers' eye keeps moving, as one's eye also does in New York - taking in the bustle of cabs, food carts, dogs, bagels, and the subway.
Also available in a mug!
I had so much fun creating this artwork, and hope it can bring some colorful and energetic NYC flair to my fellow New York fans :)
Topic shift: can y’all believe next week is Thanksgiving?? We are heading to Seattle to visit Alex and James! We leave Saturday morning, ah! It’s going to be so fun. We have a whole excel sheet on who’s cooking what, and I’m a little nervous because both James and Curtis’s mom are quite the cooks! I hope I can hold my ground - I am in charge of mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and autumn sangria. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes! I saw Babs putting her potatoes in the dishwasher and I just can’t decide how I feel about it.. James says it’s not allowed in his dishwasher, but the idea of washing 5 pounds of potatoes seems daunting… let me know if you have any potato tips :)