6 Year New Yorkiversary!

Each year it’s become a tradition to blog on my New York Anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years and the amount of big life changing events that have happened. It make me so fortunate for this life path and makes me think of how everything could have been so different.

Last year I completed my first half marathon and got engaged on the same day. Went to Ireland, Savannah, and lots of trips back to Florida. Got a new job. Was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade again. Still have the cutest cats on the planet.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the past year.

Every year, I try to take away an important life lesson that I’ve learned. This past year it’s tough. I’d say being at my old job was very challenging. I had no management or guidance, the commute to the city everyday was exhausting. I also felt that I wasn’t achieving my full potential, only pushing paper. In my new job I absolutely love that it’s not only closer to home but I’m doing event planning which is my dream job. Yet, maybe it’s the timing of things, but I’m currently taking on multiple responsibilities at the moment, leaving me back to feeling exhausted.

My lesson here is to try to listen to the signs. When I had one of my biggest meltdowns at my old job, I was on the phone with my dad, taking my usual commute and had heard gunshots behind me. A drunk man welding a knife at a police office was shot right outside my office. If I was literally a minute earlier I would have been in the crossfires. It was a huge sign, and I then took every ounce of energy to looking for a new job. I’m much happier where I’m at but again very tired. I’m hoping to get back into more meditation, reading, writing, walking. Things that will bring me more joy and calm.

As for this year, I’m excited for more trips, brunches, seeing friends and family, and marrying my best friend. xoxo

Taste the Rainbow for New York Pride Week 2016

Anyone who knows me knows I love food, photography, and exploring. With the NYC Pride Parade weekend with week I wanted to find the best rainbow themed foods out there, and NYC did NOT disappoint.

Having gone to school in Orlando the city holds a special place in my heart – with all the tragedy surrounding the shooting and all those innocent victims; I tried to find as many restaurants as I could that donated their proceeds to good causes and organizations within the LGBT community.

From doughnuts and cookies to ice cubes and burger buns, here’s my top picks:

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Pride doughnut at Doughnut Planet

Doughnut Planet – 220 W 23rd St, New York, NY

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Rainbow shortbread cookies at Rex Coffee

Rex Coffee – 864 10th Ave, New York, NY

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Rainbow Latte (Not from New York, found in Las Vegas – but still it’s beautiful!)

Sambalatte – 3770 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV

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Rainbow bagel from The Bagel Store

The Bagel Store – 754 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY

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Special edition Rainbow Doodle half pound cookie from City Cakes. They will be donating profits from every cookie sold to the victims and families of the Orlando tragedy.

City Cakes – Lower Level, 251 W 18th St, New York, NY

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Rainbow bun at Joe’s Bar NYC. Back for pride week, and available by request.

Joe’s Bar – 480 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY

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Pride Margarita with a Rainbow Ice Cube at Quality Eats. All proceeds will go to the One Orlando Fund @oneorlando to help the families of the Orlando shooting victims.

Quality Eats – 19 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY

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Pride Flag Packs Cupcakes from Baked by Melissa. 100% of net proceeds will be donated to @lgbtcenternyc.

Baked by Melissa – Various locations in NYC.

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Rainbow Jello shots from Mekelburg.

Mekelburg – 293 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

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You can follow along @WomenWhoBrunch‘s Instagram for more food finds

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5th Year Anniversary in New York!

This past Thursday, January 21, 2016 marked my 5th year anniversary living in New York!

5 years ago I remember packing my bags and making my way to the big city. As my cab drove past Central Park, I looked out at the beautiful park and horse-drawn carriages.  I remember locking that moment in my memory. Not only was it my first day living in NYC but it was the first time I’d ever seen snow.

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Flash forward as I look back on the past year, I’m flooded with so many wonderful milestones. Last year I started working at WebMD, I moved into a new house upstate in Suffern, NY with my boyfriend, I bought a car, and adopted two of the cutest kittens alive – Earl and Lady Grey (like the teas). I also traveled to Iceland and was the first Monahan to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Photos of all these adventures below.

Every year I write an anniversary blog post. Each year I like to reflect on one thing that I’ve learned, and last year involved an overwhelming amount of change.

  • Adjusting to a new job involved change.
  • Living with my boyfriend, being a homeowner in a new town and having a new commute involved change.
  • Visiting Iceland, a country I’ve never been too – change both change of cultures and changing me as a person.

It’s been a rollercoaster of adapting, mixed with stress, and just trying to figure it out. For the most part I think I’ve learned that change is exciting and you never know where it will take you.

The best thing to do is to keep an open mind. Eventually you’ll get into a flow, and even if you’re not comfortable with that person, place, or thing that’s changed you, you can either embrace it or learn from it and move on.

Over the next year to come I’m excited to see where life takes me. I’ve already booked a trip to Ireland, Florida, and Charleston. I’ll also be running/speed-walking the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February.

Finally my main focus this year is to make new friends in my area and to focus more of my time on my passion for food. This means a lot more cooking, blogging about health and fitness, and of course continuing to eat my way through NY.

UPDATE:

While this blog post was sitting in “Draft”, I found out some very heartbreaking news that my grandmother passed away on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at the age of 88 years young.

I want to include her in my post because she means everything to me and who I’ve become as a person.

On Sunday my dad sent me this photo of the hotel bill from my grandma and grandpa’s honeymoon in New York. The date (1/21) is my NYC anniversary – only 60 years prior. I thought that was very serendipitous.unnamed-2

 

I miss you terribly but you’ll never be forgotten. I will continue to take you with me through every journey and milestone. Rest in peace grandma, love you.

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My Journey in Trading in New Year’s Resolutions for 30 Day Challenges

We’re probably not thinking about or sticking to our New Year’s Resolutions by mid-March, but I am.

This year instead of making that infamous New Year’s resolution list, I decided to break down my goals and made 30 day challenges. Here’s what I’m on track for this year. [Will be updated each month]:

January: Work the Brain.

Practiced French lessons via Duolingo and trained my brain with Elevate app. Along this journey I was also introduced to NPR’s Invisabilia and National Geographic’s Brain Games, both are fascinating and have kinda changed my life.

February: Photography. Take a photo a day and share it on Instagram.

I love this challenge because it reminded me of when I did the 100 Happy Days Project last year and countless of Project 365 Challenges I used to do in college. It makes me excited to find something new or unique or something that makes me happy in the everyday.

Potluck Brunch with friends
Potluck Brunch with friends
Art Inside 1 World Trade Center
Art Inside 1 World Trade Center
Tenement Museum
Tenement Museum

 

Made My First Acai Bowl
Made My First Acai Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March: Talk to Strangers.

This 30 day task was especially hard. Who actually wants to talk to strangers in NYC?  However one encounter with a stranger I met at an event really stuck with me. I was in the process of moving, a major change and next chapter in my life. This woman gave me a great analogy for life. (I know, that escalated quickly!) She had said life is like driving from the East coast to the West coast at night. You know you’re going to get to your destination, but with the headlights at night you can only see 20 feet at a time, that’s life. You’re going to get there but can only see or do so much at a time.

April: Cook More, Try New Recipes, Eat Healthy (No Junk, Less Sugar)!

Here are some of my favorite new recipes I tried from April’s challenge:

Blueberry Banana Bread
Blueberry Banana Bread
Brown Butter Spaetzle
Brown Butter Spaetzle
Banana Bread
Banana Bread
Skinny fettuccine Alfredo
Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo
Hazelnut Crusted Salmon
Hazelnut Crusted Salmon

May: Catch up with friends, family, and acquaintances.

Caught up with a bunch of old friends. I was most surprise when I tried to reach out to acquaintances from NYC. Everyone seems “too busy” with lots of loaded excuses and “let’s try in a few weeks to get together”, which never happened. Nothing short of a surprise with New Yorkers though. :-/

June: Yoga / More Mindfulness

July: Learn a new skill. Coding, calligraphy, or storytelling are on my list.

August: Read everyday for an hour.

  • Books read: Big Little Lies

September: Write/Journal every day for an hour.

October: Practice happiness and start a gratitude journal.

November: Finances & Savings. $$$

  • Have already started a 401K!

December: Random acts of kindness and giving. Donate blood, volunteer, make someone smile.

Four Years in NYC! A Recap on the Anniversary

Big day, ladies and gents. Today marks my 4 year anniversary living in New York. Ironically, I’m also traveling back to Florida today (where I’m from) and will be visiting my alma mater, UCF this week for the first time since graduating. So meta.

What I enjoy about writing these posts is the fact that I can take this time to look back at some of the highlights I’ve had throughout the year. Let’s begin here, seems like a good place to start.

The Big Egg Hunt:
Year four included this really wonderful Easter Egg hunt presented by Faberge which featured tons of local artists. Each artist would create their own egg and were then hidden throughout NYC. It was a fun twist on the game while catering to adults, plus it was a great excuse to explore the city.

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Our Women Who Brunch “Breakfast for Dinner” one year anniversary party. This is something I was truly proud of this year. We were able to execute a sold out 100 person event with over 15 sponsors including Wix.com, Rent the Runway, and Lyft. A good 80% of which were women run businesses. It’s always rewarding to help fellow ladies!

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My birthday was pretty epic this year. Not only did Women Who Brunch run a brunch giveaway in partnership with Food Network’s New York Wine and Food Festival, but also happened to score tickets to Trisha Yearwood brunch we helped promote. To top that, I waited in line for hours to snag broadway tickets to The Book of Mormon, only to be rewarded with winning their lottery giveaway and scoring front row tickets for $32! Lessoned learn, there is such a thing as karma.

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Got to see my spirit animal, Mindy Kaling at the New York Festival.

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Saw the New Jersey Ballon Festival

NJ Ballon Festival

Visited the Domino Sugar Factory and Kara Walker’s exhibit before it shut down.

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This year I made trips to Savannah, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco, and St. Maarten. Proving that I both love to travel and need breaks from the NYC chaos.

Savannah, GA

SCAD Chalk Art Festival
SCAD Chalk Art Festival
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SCAD Chalk Art Festival – Oscar Selfie
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Savannah Crawfish Broil

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Portland, OR

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Seattle, WA

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St. Maarten

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Lessons I’ve Learned from Year 4:

Last year I departed from Digital Dumbo. It was a fun year and a half journey, but what leaving has taught me was that I needed to go even if the decision was hard. Ultimately, I learned that I deserve more out of my career. It’s ironic that even as I say this now, it has still taken me six months after leaving to truly realize this. After leaving I spent months trying to figure out what I want… Did I want to continue freelancing? Take on Women Who Brunch full time? Or did I want a full time position? It turns out to be the latter. The overall lesson here is don’t settle for less in your career, especially when you have the skill sets. Ask yourself, where did I see myself in 3-5 years? I know, it’s a typical interview question, but I’ve recently realized that I’ve always blocked it out and ignored the question. It wasn’t until I actually thought about the answer that I realized that I want to work for a company that continues to challenge me in my professional and personal growth everyday, where I would like to eventually lead and mentor my own team and projects.

Bonus lesson learned is I need to keep negative people out and let more positive people in. This is actually something I’ve be trying to practice in the New Year. Life’s too short to surround yourself with negative people.

New Challenges and Milestones:

Last year, and even now, I wanted to make public speaking a priority. Although the act still freaks me out, I know I want to really learn the art of speaking my truth, hearing my voice, and telling compelling stories. I am happy to report that last year I took major strides in this goal by taking a storytelling class and speaking at my first event at Pace University!

This year I’d like to write and blog more in the professional aspect. Also, this year I’m working on 30 day challenges instead of New Years resolution, more on that in a separate post.

I’d like to say there were more milestones, but this year was equal parts failing and learning — it happens. I will say that my career focus is clear and can’t wait for what’s ahead for year five!

Side note: It snowed today in New York. My NYC anniversary– snow streak continues! I’m just glad I’m in Florida this time.

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Planning and Selling Out My “Breakfast for Dinner” Women Who Brunch Event

Earlier this month on September 4th, I celebrated Women Who Brunch’s One Year Anniversary the only way I knew how, with a “Breakfast for Dinner” party. I can proudly say that we sold out the 100 person event and had 15 amazing sponsors. I am also honored to say that the majority of these companies were women run businesses! Here’s a snap shot of all of our wonderful sponsors from the event.

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We also had the amazing Christina Vuleta as our speaker. She’s the founder of one of my favorite websites 40:20 Vision, a resource to start conversations and facilitate mentoring between generations. The struggle of being a 20-something is very real and her advice was definitely a highlight of the evening.

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Running Women Who Brunch has taught me a lot in the past year. Such as the harder you work the more it pays off — free drinks, brunches, great partnerships and collaboration opportunities, meeting so many great people. These are all great benefits but it really all comes from building a brand and community from scratch, putting love into your attendees and client relationships. Overall, what has been most rewarding has been making a great resource for women and helping to support each other.

This experience has also taught me to listen to my inner voice and go do something that truly drives you. Don’t settle. For me, this is event planning and management. I’ve learned I really enjoy the little details that go into events, from setup, finding the right speakers, potentially partnerships, to even designing the event. For example, for this event I took up calligraphy to make cocktail mixer tags and signage. I’m passionate about making experiences memorable.

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Bonus lesson, it’s ok to #treatyoself. Events are a ton of work. Get the dress, manicure, and blow out. You deserve it and will feel like a million dollars!

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I’m excited to find out where the next year will take us. There’s so many opportunities, for now we’re planning our next brunch. I’m also going to as many women leadership events as possible and going where the energy flows.

Until next time, brunch on! xoxo

Here’s a few of my favorite photos from our event, more can be found here.

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Things I Learned From Shadowing the Marriott Marquis Event Team

marriott marquis

This week I had the pleasure of spending the day shadowing the entire events team at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Seems a little random but as I’ve said to many friends, it really did take a lot of soul-searching this year to listen to my inner passions and focus my career back to events. I’m no stranger to events. I’ve planned events with the Guggenheim Museum to digital/tech events, conferences, trade shows, panels to parties and now run my own foodie events over brunch. Yet when I first moved up to NYC I wanted to explore social media and community management. I still love the thought of blending both online and offline worlds with social and events. But what I started to notice was that every company wanted a “Community Manager” and I started to get less and less excited about monitoring tweets and more excited about curating event experiences. What brought me to Marriott was my initial curiosity of exploring of different event industries that I had never considered before, and I can’t tell you how fortunate I was to the Marriott for even having a shadowing day in place.

Having a degree in film and not hospitality made the day totally foreign to me, BUT also led me to raise my hand and ask a lot of questions. For example, did you know I shadowed people whose job it is to just manage group room blocks and just group tours and just conventions. It also happened to be known to ever other person but me that the Marquis is HUGE with 1957 rooms and 55 meetings rooms. No big deal, so naturally their events team was much larger than most.

As I bounced from cubicle to cubicle, I had to really listen to what drives me. I found I really gravitated to an event planner who showed me a sample banquet event order. I love the details and planning behind events. I also really enjoyed the group tour departments. There’s something about welcoming and interacting with groups that are in town to either sight see or just here for a short business trip. I love meeting new people.

More importantly I loved the learning opportunity. We even got a full hotel tour and got to see some stunning point of views of the city as well as learned some rather interesting facts about the hotel, such as:

Fun Facts I Learned about the Marriott Marquis:

  • It costs $6,000 for a 3 night stay during New Years Eve and $12,000 for 3 nights in a suite. And that’s not including access to their New Years Eve party or booking table service.
  • The theatre that’s inside the Marquis is separately owned and managed from the hotel. Marriott act as tenants of the building and the theatre was already there before they started building. In order to build the hotel they agreed to leave the theatre and build around it.
  • The Marriott is currently under construction. Construction plans include opening up a mall at the bottom (again separately owned and operated). Marriott is also planning to open the first outdoor patio space in Time Square and has plans to have the largest digital sign in Times Square.
  • The lobby is on the 8th floor. This is because when they first opened it was still a seedy area for Times Square and Mr. Marriott wanted guests to come up to escape everything that was going on outside.

Photos from the hotel:

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“The View” – Rotating restaurant

 

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Venue space — The ceilings are sick!

 

 

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View from hotel room

 

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Food and bar area