New York City for Thanksgiving

This past Thanksgiving Luke and I spent some time in NYC. My cousin lives on the Lower East Side and we thought it would be fun to spend the holiday weekend with her. She graciously hosted us in her tiny (yet very comfortable and cozy apartment) and even played tour guide for us – ensuring we saw everything we haven’t already seen in the city. I’ve been to NYC a handful of times and so has Luke so our main goal of this trip was to just relax, take our time and hang out. I was coming straight off my Uganda trip, so my body legitimately had no idea what time it was or where in the world I was. It took me a solid two days to finally catch up to everyone else, haha. It was a fun trip, but my bank account would tell you otherwise.

In my eyes, New York City is always a good idea and visiting this magical place will never get old.

Where we ate:
Bistrot Leo (They had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu and it was delicious)
Russ and Daughters (My first Jewish deli and definitely not my last)
Uncle Boon’s (Some of the best Thai food outside of Thailand)
Chelsea Market (It’s fun to walk through Chelsea Market and grab a bite to eat amongst the crowds)
Egg Shop (A delicious eggy breakfast spot)
Frank (We had a fun group dinner here and some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had)
Emmy Squared (We split a Detroit-style pizza, burger and Brussels sprouts salad – and it was SO GOOD!)
Bluestone Lane (We stopped in here for some chais and ricotta-strawberry toast)
Levain Bakery (Fueled up on cookies and baked goods after a sunny walk through Central Park)

Where we drank:
Grey Lady ($1 oysters and beers from Nantucket)
Amsterdam Ale House (A cozy spot for beers after walking through Central Park)
Skinny Dennis (We stopped in here after the basketball game and was blown away by the whiskey/coffee drink)
Three’s (Amazing brewery in Brooklyn with very creative IPA’s)
Strong Rope (Another Brooklyn brewery)

What we did:
Chelsea Piers Driving Range (On our last day it started snowing during a walk so we hopped over to Chelsea Piers to hit a few buckets of golfballs)
Union Square (There was a Christmas Market going on here!)
5th Avenue Shopping
Central Park (You can’t visit the city without a walk through this beautiful park)
MoMA (We got lucky and enjoyed free admission on Friday night. Although it was admittedly very chaotic with so many people in attendance.)
Vessel @ Hudson Yards (A few years ago when I first took Luke to NYC this area didn’t even exist!)
The High Line (A walk along the High Line is always fun in my book)
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Nets vs Miami Heat game @ Barclay’s Center

Recent Reads V.6

Here’s what I’ve been reading (and listening to) lately. A friend from work told me about the Libby app and it’s been a lifesaver recently. With our stay at home orders in Oregon, all the public libraries are closed for the time being, but you can still “borrow” ebooks and audiobooks from the library and it couldn’t be easier! If you have a library card, just enter your number in the Libby app and you can start borrowing from your local library.

I read a few of the books below and then also listened to a few of them on audiobook. I find that I’m able to get through a book faster when I listen to it. Being at home 99.9% of the time now I’ve been listening to audiobooks when I clean the house, when I’m putting a puzzle together, cooking, going on a walk, etc. What a game change this has been. I’m wondering why I’m just now catching on this this though, haha!

Open Book | I read Jessica Simpson’s book in a few days, it was such an easy read. Jessica is very candid about her life and her struggles as she navigates her relationships, career and fame. It was a fun read and I found that I relate to her in so many ways.
(4 stars)

Twice in a Blue Moon | I loved the last Christina Lauren book that I read so I thought I would give this one a try! I read it on a recent vacation and it was a cute and fun YA read.
(3.75 stars)

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before | I really should have read this before I saw the movie! Although the movie and the book don’t share a lot of the same details I still found it absolutely adorable.
(4 stars)

P.S. I Still Love You | Just like the first book in the series, I should have read this before I watched the first two movies. While there still are some similarities between the book and the movie, they are quite different – it’s still adorable though!
(4 stars)

Tiny Little Thing | This is the first book that Beatriz Williams wrote in her “Schuyler Sisters series”. I had already read books 2 and 3… and loved this one as well. You don’t necessarily have to read them in order, I don’t think you’d be lost if you didn’t as the storylines focus on different characters/sisters. In true Beatriz Williams fashion she weaves in and out of different time periods and even throws a family scandal or two in there!
(4 stars)

Evvie Drake Stars Over | I thought this book was the cutest, a little predictable, but the cutest. Evvie is trying to move on with her life after the death of her husband and rents out a spare room to a retired New York Yankees pitcher who’s also trying to move on with his life after a career-ending injury.
(4 stars)

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Our visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was the highlight of our Australian adventure. We spent a long time researching different zoo’s and sanctuaries in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and ultimately landed on Lone Pine. It was important to us that we not visit a place that keeps animal in cages as merely a tourist attraction. We wanted to support a sanctuary and a place that supports the conservation of animals. Lone Pine seemed like the perfect place for us to visit.

Lone Pine first opened in 1927 as a safe refuge for injured, sick and orphaned koalas. Their goal has always been to create a safe and happy environment for their animals to thrive in. It was evident straight away that the Lone Pine staff have a deep love for these animals. They were loving, nurturing, highly interactive and even shared some fun facts with us about the koalas!

All the koalas have names and the koala keepers know them all by name and can even point out their different personalities.

The koalas are grouped by their family. If they were to try and take a koala out of their home and into a different area it would cause them a lot of stress and they might even fight each other.

Even though koalas adhere to a mostly eucalyptus diet, they are extremely picky eaters. There are roughly 800 species of eucalyptus but they’ll only eat 50-60 of those and they all have an individual preference. What one finds to be a tasty leaf one day could be completely ignored the next day.

Koalas have extra fur and a cartridge pad around their bottoms to account for the hours upon  hours they spend balancing on trees.

People often call them “Koala Bears” when in fact they are actually marsupials. The correct terminology is simply “Koala”.

In addition to the koala sanctuary, Lone Pine is also home to a variety of other animals: Kangaroos, Emu, Wombats, Dingos, Tasmanian Devils, Freshwater Crocodiles and Turtles, Platypus, Bats and different species of birds and reptiles.

Another highlight on this visit was hanging out with the kangaroos!

Can you spot the little joey’s ear peeking out of the mama’s ouch above?

There are two different fields where the kangaroos are free to roam. We purchased a small bag of kangaroo food and had the chance to interact with them and feed them. As long as you were calm and gentle towards them, they didn’t spook and were actually quite friendly and soft.

A Travel Guide to the Sunshine Coast

Our final stop on our Australian adventure was a few days at the Sunshine Coast. We flew from Melbourne to Brisbane, rented a car and then drove about an hour and a half north on the M1. Luke found us this amazing private oasis and we both agreed it’s quite possibly our favorite place to-date.

We had envisioned this part of the trip to be a lot slower and more relaxing than the week before. While we loved our time in Sydney and Melbourne, we also wanted to experience the slower pace of the coastal life. We got unlucky with a few days of rain which really forced us to slow down, haha. After the rain and I’m talking more rain than I’ve ever seen in my life!! we were able to explore Noosa and get in some serious beach time. Noosa stole my heart and I couldn’t be happier that we picked such a gorgeous place to relax on our last few days.

Brekkie at Murray’s in Maroochydore
Noosa Heads Main Beach
Can you spot the sleepy koala?
We loved seeing this little one on our walk through the Noosa National Park, near Tea Tree Bay.
We found the perfect snack – zucchini chips and a beer at Grill’d!
Very happy faces after a few Noosa beach days.

Our recommended itinerary for three days at the Sunshine Coast:

Day 1
Spend the day exploring the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands – Unfortunately we didn’t get to do this because it was raining buckets for the first few days

Day 2
Visit the Eumundi Markets (keep in mind the markets are only open on Wednesdays and Sundays)
Make your way to Noosa
Walk up and down Hastings Street popping into shops – Grab lunch at a place that speaks to you (we found a fish & chips special at Zachary’s)
From Noosa Heads Main Beach, walk the path up Noosa National Park – We walked to the Fairy Pools and back to the main beach
Relax on the beach at Noosa Heads Main Beach

Day 3
Spend the day at Noosa Heads Main Beach – Get there early and find a spot under the trees
Consider surfing lessons! If you’re not that adventurous you can also rent boogie boards on the beach
Depending on where you stay, drive up/down State Road 6 for ocean views along the Sunshine Coast – We drove from Noosa down to Mooloolaba
Dinner at The Savvy Squire the beers were amazing and the location is right on the Mooloolah River