Happy October! I may or may not have listened to a few Christmas songs this weekend — I am really looking forward to the holiday season, and already can’t wait to spend time with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I’ve never been a huge Halloween person, but until we’re in full blown holiday mode, I’m enjoying these fall days. The leaves on the trees outside of my apartment are turning beautiful colors, the crisp mornings yield into warm lunchtimes, and daylight fades away a little bit earlier with each passing day. I truly don’t mind — and actually quite enjoy fall — I just wish we could skip the dark days of winter in January, February, and early March. One day I’ll have enough money to be a snowbird!
Q4 is always my busiest time at work, so other than a quick trip to Edenton, North Carolina weekend before last — which I am so excited to recap for you soon here on the blog! — I’m planning on being at home here in Arlington ahead of the holidays. It’s been a busy month, and I have some fun things to recap today’s post. You can also read other recent life lately posts here: July, August, September.
A WORK TRIP TO NYC —
Last month, I went on a work trip to NYC — and as a reminder, I shared everything I wore on my trip over in this post! Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time in New York City, and one of the things I love about visiting is that no matter how many times you go, there’s always something new to explore. Because the UN General Assembly was happening while I was there for work, hotel prices were absolutely insane, and to top it off, many of the hotels I typically like to stay at were already sold out. As such, I stayed in Lower Manhattan for the first time ever, at the Marriott a block away from the World Trade Center. While I definitely prefer to stay in either Union Square, Soho, or up by Central Park, it was a great experience to mix it up.
I was in town from Monday afternoon through Thursday, and while there was a lot of work to be done, I also made some time to explore the city — especially new-to-me-restaurants. On Monday night, my best friend, Emma, and I were able to do dinner together at Quality Italian, which had been on my list for years — it was so good, and I also loved the atmosphere. Even though it was a Monday night, it felt like it was a Friday night in there. We did a whipped ricotta and bread to start, and then for my main dish, I had to do pasta and went with the paccheri amatriciana — y’all, it was so good! Needless to say, I was stuffed when we closed out the check.
On this trip, I also made it to Sant Ambroeus for the first time, and actually ended up dining there for lunch on two different days at two different locations — the West Village location and the SoHo location, both of which were great. I thought the food was excellent — I tried the avocado toast, chicken salad sandwich, and burrata caprese across my meals — and the decor was super charming. Plus, they have matchbooks, which I love to collect from restaurants I’ve been lucky enough to dine at. I will say, I see this more of a lunch + daytime place vs. dinner place, even though it’s open for both, just something to keep in mind if you’re planning at trip to NYC and want to go.
Another night for dinner, my boss and I went to Tiny’s, which was a very cute and cozy spot — and another place with matchbooks! The food was excellent — I did meatballs and a kale salad, and loved both. This would a be a great date night or girls’ night spot in NYC.
After work, when I had free time, I went on some long walks to explore Lower Manhattan in a way I hadn’t in years. When I spent a summer interning in the city, to live in an air conditioned dorm at NYU, you had to be a student — so my sorority sisters and I found a loophole where we could enroll in a one-credit course called ‘Walking and Talking NY’ where each week, we met in a different part of the city for a guided walking tour. That class was so much fun and taught me so much about the city, so on this trip, I walked by Hamilton’s Grave at Trinity Church, by the NYSE, and down to the South Street Seaport to enjoy the water at sunset. Because I also was a block from the World Trade Center, I made a point to visit the 9/11 Memorial one morning before work — I’ve been several times before, but it’s always such a somber and moving place to be, especially in September.
My NYC bucket list is always growing, and I hope to get back to the city soon!
MY SECOND THERAPEUTIC PHLEBOTOMY —
As I shared earlier this year, I was diagnosed with a hereditary hemochromatosis, which is a genetic condition characterized by absorption of too much dietary iron. Over time, this condition may lead to iron overload, which can cause damage to the joints and certain organs, such as the liver, skin, heart, and pancreas. The treatment for this condition is what’s called a therapeutic phlebotomy — essentially, I donate blood to lower my ferritin, which is the protein in your blood that stores iron. About a month or so after this is done, I go to my hematologist to get bloodwork done to check in on my ferritin, iron, and iron saturation levels, with the hopes that they’ve all decreased.
So far, my bloodwork is trending in the right direction. I’m meeting with my hematologist again in December to check in on everything, and prior to that visit, I am also having another MRI done on my liver to check in on the two lesions they found this summer. They want to monitor these lesions to ensure they aren’t changing in size or shape, and if all looks good on this MRI, I likely won’t have to have another for a year.
All things considered, this is a very manageable condition, which I am extremely grateful for, however, I absolutely dread going for a therapeutic phlebotomy. I am the type of person that nearly always passes out or feels weak when they take my blood at the doctor’s office, so needless to say, giving a unit of blood is quite the ordeal for me. Last time, I was so anxious before that I was miserable. Then, once I arrived, the phlebotomist doing my donation didn’t get the needle in correctly the first time and I felt really weak + nauseous throughout the whole process. They preemptively gave me ice packs and someone from their team sat with me throughout the whole process to help distract me and give me juice and snacks (~am I the drama?~), but I was so relieved when it was over.
I am hoping that my ferritin levels are low enough when I go back to my hematologist that I will only have to do this two or three times a year — fingers crossed!
A FUN DINNER WITH THE ITALIAN TRADE AGENCY —
Because of my blog, over the years, I’ve been invited to a lot of really cool events in and around DC. In late September, I was invited to a dinner hosted at Cafe Milano by the Italian Trade Agency that was part of an educational series they were doing across the United States for those in the wine industry and media to raise awareness around Italian food and wine. Similar to how champagne can only come from a certain region in France, Italy has products that can only be labeled as such if they follow certain protocols. As such, all of the food and wine we enjoyed at this dinner called the ‘DOC’ or ‘DOCG’ label, which signifies the products were made under strict protocols that the Italian government monitors — and the products have to pass a taste test to receive the label. So basically, whenever you see the ‘DOC’ or ‘DOCG’ label, you know it’s going to be good!
When I RSVP’d to this dinner, I didn’t know anyone else going — but I decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone and attend solo. I arrived a few minutes late because of DC traffic and Georgetown street parking, but luckily found an open seat at a table near some great people. Most people at the dinner came alone or only knew one or two people, and because we had plenty of food and wine to enjoy, there was plenty to talk about. While I was definitely a little bit nervous walking into an event where I didn’t know anyone, I am so glad I went — otherwise, I would have missed out on an amazing meal and great conversation. A good reminder for me to my comfort zone!
2023 SISTERS’ TRIPS —
I can’t believe it is almost the holiday season again (!) and we are just a few short months until 2023. I love having trips on my calendar to look forward to — and my sisters and I already have two on the books for early 2023 that I am really looking forward to:
Over the long weekend for MLK Day, we are going to The Greenbrier! I was invited to The Greenbrier on a media trip back in winter 2018, and it was truly one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. My sister, Jennifer, came with me, and from the moment we checked into the resort to the moment we checked out, it was so much fun. While The Greenbrier does have a beautiful infinity pool and golf course, we loved heading to The Greenbrier in the winter months as there is plenty to explore inside without having to brave the elements — I am obsessed with the Dorothy Draper decor and there are great restaurants on-site, not to mention the spa and indoor pool. Lindsey has never been before, and Jennifer and I have been dying to get back since our trip five years ago, so I think it will be a great weekend getaway.
Then, during the first week of March, we are going to an all-inclusive resort in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic! Last year, I went to Hawaii around this time and it was the perfect escape from the winter blues. So, when Jennifer, Lindsey, and I started tossing around ideas for our sisters trip in 2023, finding an all-inclusive in the Caribbean in late February or early March quickly bubbled to the top of the list. We looked at quite a few all inclusive resorts in several countries — Jamaica, Mexico, Aruba, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas — but ultimately landed on the Dominican Republic given the flight times and flight + resort prices.
Unsurprisingly, getting to the Caribbean in the winter is expensive, and flights were between $700-$1000 for all the aforementioned locations. Given that, we started looking into what flight times were the most convenient from DC and how much an all-inclusive would run us for four nights. Dominican Republic was the mid-tier option — we could have got somewhere cheaper in Cancun, but when we found Sanctuary Cap Cana, an adults-only resort and part of the Marriott Luxury Collection, for just slightly more, we were sold. (Y’all know I am a Marriott loyalist!) I have been to the Dominican Republic once, back in 2017, and had a great trip, so I am excited to get back!