Sunday, November 16, 2014

October 2013

Friday, October 3rd: I shared drinks with the ladies of our Connect Group at the Flatiron Lounge.  We were of course proud that as married women we were successful in staying out until midnight!  What is funny is on the same day Clay went to drinks with his coworker Chris after work and he said they walked in and right out because this place was too girly and romantic.  Yep.  :)

Saturday, October 4th: We had our Connect Group leader, Leslie, over for dinner and to watch the start of that evening's Auburn game.  Her husband had gone to Scotland to photograph a wedding and we thought it'd be nice to host her since she was alone at home all week.  She was impressed by Clay's spread of fall veggie soup, scallops, and bruschetta.  I then went to my coworker's birthday at the famous Campbell Apartment in Grand Central before heading to Club Macundo cigar lounge in the Upper East Side.

I later posted a print of this picture in my coworker's cube so she can remember her birthday night of whiskey and cigars, and to celebrate her love of Mr. Duke.

Thursday, October 16th through Sunday, October 18th was Hillsong's USA Conference at Madison Square Garden.  We heard from Hillsong's founder Brian Houston, NYC pastor Carl Lentz, Hillsong pastor and A21 founder Christine Caine, and Seattle City Church's pastor Judah Smith.  It was an amazing experience having such great people of faith speak and bless our lives with refreshing words.  We also made the decision to sponsor a little boy in India named Hari through Compassion International at Conference. After Saturday's session we joined our Connect Group to celebrate Linda's birthday for dinner and then headed to an 80's club in SoHo called Pyramid Club.  We're going to Las Vegas in January with Linda and her husband Joe.


During a large urban development real estate conference in NYC I was able to go to the 54th floor of the 7 World Trade Center to set up a presentation.  It was neat because the tower is just bare bones of concrete but the view up Manhattan was amazing.  This photo doesn't do it justice.

Friday, October 25th: Clay and I attended an event called Whiskey Washback at the Bowery Hotel on Houston in Soho.  Different distributors were passing out samples of whisky while local restaurants provided foods such as chili and cornbread, mini bbq sandwiches and ribs, oysters and ceviche, and chocolate truffles made with whiskey.  There was a great live band and everyone was able to keep making rounds trying different whiskies and snacking their way around the room.  We're already looking forward to next year!

Saturday, October 26th:  We took a family trip, Mr. Duke included, up to the Hudson River Valley to see the leaves change.  We had breakfast at Art Cafe in Nyack where we've stopped each time we've rented a car.  We then headed across to Sleepy Hallow but realized it was going to be TOO crazy with Halloween activities so then stopped at Croton Point Park where Mr. Duke ran around off-leash and protected his Bird while he napped on a bench.  Duke wouldn't walk off without Clay.  We then made a quick stop to Cold Spring before having a late lunch at Texas Round Up BBQ where we eat each time we're in this area.

For Halloween I carved a pumpkin to look like Mr. Duke!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Scotland: September 12th-19th 2014

Clay and I spent a little over a week exploring the Highlands of Scotland from September 12th-19th.  Upon landing we drove 6 hours north to Tongue (1 night), the next day we passed through Durness on our way to Lochinver (2 nights), then we stopped at Ullapool (1 night), Dufftown (2 nights), and then to Edinburgh (1 night), and back to Glasgow (1 night) before returning home.

Highlights of our trip, in chronological order, include:

Castle Varrich in Tongue

Cocoa Mountain chocolate store in Balnakeil Craft Village, near Durness, where former military base buildings have been re-purposed into residences and small shops for artisans.  We also stopped at Lotte Glob's beautiful ceramic studio overlooking a loch.  

Smoo Cave in Durness:

White sand beaches near Durness;

In Lochinver we took a fly fishing lesson with Stewart of Assynt Fly Fishing.

After our fly fishing lesson we drove the Drumbeg Loop where we saw additional gorgeous beaches and stopped at the Little Soap and Candle Company.

On our way back to our B&B we had a delicious dinner at Kylesku Hotel where they focus on locally grown/raised/caught ingredients.  This was our favorite meal of the trip.

The next afternoon we walked up the majority of Stach Pollaidh between Lochinver and Ullapool.

That night we stayed in Ullapool at coziest bed and breakfast with an amazing view from the bed and breakfast table.
Ullapool in the distance
breakfast in our room, same view from bed
It took awhile driving from the west coast of Scotland to the east from Ullapool to Dufftown in the Speyside region of the country.  Dufftown, because it has 7 main distilleries, is known as the whisky making capital of the world.  

Before checking into that night's accommodation we visited the Speyside Cooperage where we were able to see casks being made by hand.  All barrels are casks but not all casks are barrels, barrel being a specific size of cask.  Wood is imported from America and the barrels are assembled by hand, after being used they are returned and reassembled and repaired.


The next morning around Dufftown we visited the ruins of Balvenie Castle and the occupied and functioning estate of Ballindalloch Castle.  

That afternoon we tour Aberlour Distillery with a nosing and tasting session at the end.

This much will make you legally too drunk to drive.
Bird in his Heaven.
That evening we joined the Dufftown Distillery Walk taking us 5 miles around town while we learned the history of the local area and the local distilleries.

The next morning we had a falconry lesson at Huntly Falcony Centre where we were able to handle owls, hawks, and falcons and learn the process of how to train them.  Our course was just the two of us with a trainer for 3 hours, you can hear her Scottish accent in the videos.




Our final stop was a few hours in Edinburgh the day after the vote for independence.  We walked from Edinburgh Castle down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse which sits across the street from the Scottish Parliament.  #DelightedToBeUnited 
Top: Edinburgh Castle & Palace of Holyroodhouse
Middle: Media village covering the referendum
Bottom: Scots voting, Scottish Parliament
We truly enjoyed our time here and were amazed about how it hardly seemed real 2 days later when we were back at home with Mr. Duke preparing for another workday in New York City!  Amazing memories were made!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

August 2014

The first weekend in August Clay and I went on a forging tour of Central Park with two of my coworkers.  Foraging as in searching for wild renewable natural food resources will Wildman Steve Brill in New York City!  It was a fun hands-on learning experience about the environment and getting back in touch nature.  I wrote up a post about what we learned here.  This happened to be during the first weekend of our Daniel's fast and we took a couple of the plants we found and added them to our juices and salads.

The second weekend of August Wednesday-Friday we attended Hillsong NYC Summer School in the evenings and were ministered to by Pastor Krist Wilde from Boise Idaho, he preached on the Beatitudes and brought it!  We're looking forward to Hillsong NYC Winter School where our favorite Hillsong pastor, Robert Fergusson, will speak.  That Saturday I had brunch with two friends at Jacob's Pickles in the Upper West Side then went home and cooked some seasonal vegetables I picked up at the market before heading to Loy Ann's apartment in the Finance District for a Connect Group Girls' Game Night.  Since it was during the fast I had my casserole of yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes and a sweet potato while they had pizza before we played Nertz, a fun card game Clay is terrible at playing.  :)  That Monday night I also attended a going away dinner party for Michael and Loy Ann as they're moving to Florida to have their first child.

The next weekend was the last weekend of our Daniel's fast and Clay juiced for that Saturday and Sunday.  We stayed at home and chilled as it was one of our only quiet weekends until the 3rd weekend in October.  We watched Ms. Doubtfire and the Grand Budapest Hotel on Friday and Saturday then Sunday after church we headed up to 125th Street on the Upper West Side to look at Grant's Tomb and the Riverside Church.

For my birthday weekend that Saturday we went to the Bronx Zoo with Joey and Linda from church for 6 hours before going to a fun beer garden in Astoria.  We then picked up Mr. Duke on the way back to their apartment and taught them to play 2 games of beer pong before watching a comedian's dvd. Sunday we went to lunch with Joanie, Brooke, and Baby H at Cheesecake Factory and walked around a mall.

On Monday, August 25th we attended the US Open with 5 other people and were able to see Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic.

For Labor Day weekend we headed to East Hampton to spend time with Mary, Joanie, Brooke, Harrison, and Harrison.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

July 2014: Clay & Gina Visit NYC

We really enjoyed our weekend with Clay and Gina.  On Thursday Big Clay, Gina, and I shared lunch at the world-famous Carnegie Deli.  Their sandwiches are so large the three of us only shared ONE $28 Reuben and one slice of strawberry cheesecake.


That Thursday evening after work Clay and Gina met us at our apartment and had a chance to meet Mr. Duke and see our little piece of the Big City.  We then enjoyed dinner at Atlantic Seafood Grill with a Scottish server which got us even more excited about our trip to Scotland next month.

On Friday while I was at work Clay took Clay and Gina to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  They shared lunch with Parker at Bryant Park and met me at our UES (Upper East Side) train stop to head to the Yankees Stadium.  

One of H. Bruce’s friends, William, works at the Yankee corporate office and took us on a tour we’ll never forget.  First we got to see the private suite level before meeting the curator of the Yankee’s museum and receiving a private museum tour from him.  He explained in depth the current exhibits and how he was able to put them together.  Near the end of the tour he asked the museum staff to hold off on letting fans in so that our group could be alone in the room.  He asked us to put on white cotton gloves and we ended up holding autographed bats of Mickey Mantle's and Babe Ruth's (his was used during 1922-1923 and had baseball stitch marks indented into it!)  

photo taken from one of Party City's suites
Rachael wearing 2009 World Series Ring

Mickey Mantle's bat
Babe Ruth's Bat
2009 World Series Trophy
our seats were in the Delta Sky Lounge area
Saturday we met Clay and Gina for a breakfast of New York bagels before heading to the High Line.  We began at the north end of the High Line at Hudson Yards, stopping to check out Chelsea Piers Driving Range along the Hudson River, before finishing the High Line and walking through Chelsea Market.  We headed back to the UES for lunch at Penrose, one of our favorite weekend haunts, then we spent the next few hours resting.  We met back at the 77th St train stop to head to SoHo where we walked through Little Italy and Chinatown before dinner at Peasant, an authentic Italian restaurant where they only cook by burning wood and charcoal.

on the High Line

Chelsea Market
on the bus
Sunday we took Clay and Gina to Hillsong NYC before eating brunch at Uva, an UES Italian restaurant where we’ve also taken Joanie and Da.  After brunch Clay and Gina headed to the airport.

What a great weekend!!!