'Tis the Season . . .

I have been so neglectful of my blog this past week. And shamefully I don't even have a proper excuse, other than 'tis the season, which I'm not sure really counts. I've been really caught up in the holiday hustle, but who isn't this time of year?

Image via PrettyStuff
In Santa Barbara now, but before I left I got to pack in my final December days in the city with a last bit of New York Christmas cheer ... from a festive dinner at Park Avenue Winter to a seasonal snow storm, a holiday housewarming party and creative cocktails at Little Branch, to a cozy evening at The Lion and a Love Actually viewing with the girls, even a snowy sendoff flying out. 

It is lovely to be home though. It's been four years since the last time I was home for Christmas, and just because the sun is shining and the temps are in the 70s does not mean that the festive fury is any less than in the East. 'Tis the Season is California as well. Not even here two full days and I've already had a night of tree trimming, Champagne by the fireplace, a holiday pizza party, and shopping galore. 

I will do my best to fit in some posts here and there with holiday updates from SB and keep up my Instagram (which I've also neglected) with pretty pics of all the festivities. Hope all your holidays are happy and merry! 


On Location: Holiday Lights & Movie Sights . . .

Remember when I went on the On Location TMZ Tour
I had mentioned that I'd love to try the Holiday Lights Tour, and lucky me! I got to go on it last weekend. It was fun and festive and a wonderful way to dive into the holiday season. 

This tour was quite different from the TMZ Tour. It had four stops where we actually got to hop off the bus - Lincoln Center, Bloomingdales, Barneys, and Macy's. Great for taking photos and getting an up close look at the holiday sights. 

Our guide, Lou, was an actress in the city and the perfect person to be leading the tour. She was fantastic - always keeping the bus engaged and super knowledgeable on New York film facts. She played corresponding clips with each holiday movie sight we passed and gave us the back story (with some behind-the-scenes secrets) to go along. We hit everything from locations where Elf and Home Alone 2 were filmed to scenes from Serendipity and Family Man

I have to say, apart for a few traffic issues, I really enjoyed this tour! I would recommend it to any Christmas movie buff or visiting tourist - it's the perfect way to see all the holiday buzz around the city, tying it in with the films we've all come to know and love. Get your tickets HERE before the season ends. 

For the ultimate tour experience, try some of these Resident Tourist Tips: 

* The bus picks up is right by the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, 
get there a few minutes early to load up on gingersnap cookies and hot cider for the ride. 

*Bring a camera, you'll want to take some pics at the stops along the way. 

*Grab a seat in the front, easier when getting on and off the bus. 

*Take a weekday tour, Saturday crosstown traffic is no fun. 

*Finally, sit back, relax, and enjoy. 

A giant thanks to On Location Tours for letting me ride along! 

PS. Ladies, I heard that our fab tour guide also leads 
the SATC Tour - which I bet would be worth checking out! 


Home Remedies for a Cold . . .

Hi there! Sorry for the slow posts, I've been stuck in bed with a bad cold for the past few days and am just now getting back to it. Ever since I've had heart issues, it's been really tricky when I get sick. I'm not allowed to take any cold medicines, which makes managing symptoms extra tough. As a result I've put in my fair share of research on the best at-home remedies. Thought I'd share, just in case you find yourself picking up a little sniffle during this chilly season.  

Here are some easy ways to soothe,
sometimes even stop a cold without visiting the doctor or pharmacy.

Drinking plenty of fluids and keeping hydrated is super important when fighting a cold. 

Squeeze some in your water or tea for an easy detox and a boost of Vitamin C. 

Peppermint Tea
Sipping warm peppermint tea helps soothe your throat, calm headaches, and relieve congestion. 

Apart from soothing a sore throat, this sweet syrup also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. 

Another tasty anti-viral and anti-bacterial. 
RT Tip: For two in one, check out my recipe for Cinnamon Honey. 

Warm Salt Water
Gargle a teaspoon of salt in warm water to bring down pain from a sore throat. 

Chicken Soup
Proven to be one of the most beneficial hot fluids to consume when you have a cold, chicken soup clears nasal congestion and acts as an anti-inflammatory. 

Eucalyptus Bath
A few drops of Eucalyptus oil in your bath will ease congestion and open up your bronchial tubes. 
Plus it smells wonderful. 

Extra Pillow
Using one more pillow under your head will make it easier to breath through a stuffy nose, 
it also helps with nasal draining. 

I know I've been guilty of not adhering to this one, but the most important thing you can do when sick is rest up - it gives your body a much needed break and helps direct all its energy toward fighting off the cold. 


To Tao or Not to Tao . . .

I may have written about this before, but my mom and I have a little tradition after my doctors appointments: we go to Tao on 58th for Lychee Martinis and Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice. We've been doing it for almost three years now. I don't remember how it started (and I realize how weird and random the restaurant choice is), but it's become the perfect little ritual - the drinks and food are tasty and at the hour that we go (6pm on a week night, hah) the place is quite and pleasant, nothing like the crazy club scene it turns into after hours and on weekends. Last night after my doctor's visit, we did as we always do. And as usual, I thought it was a great. 

Image via NYTimes
This morning on my way to work I was reading through the latest restaurant reviews and came across this terrible review of the new Tao Downtown. I actually laughed out loud on the subway a few times it was so bad. From what I read, it seems that the downtown location is even more over the top and overpriced than the uptown one. But still, I couldn't help questioning my choice in post-doc dining. I've thought about it though, and traditions become traditions for a reason. I like Tao, and I like the way I do Tao - I know what to eat, I know what to drink, I know when to go, I know where to sit.

I never really considered going to the new Tao Downtown, didn't think it'd be any different than the first one. But now I'm curious. Could it really be as bad as the review says? According to Sutton (who I trust) I'd be wasting my time, money, and taste buds. Naturally, I want to check it out for myself. Only because I'm a fan of the original. So with that said, we'll see if I find the right night to throw away money on a meal that I will supposedly mostly hate. If and when I do - I'll be sure to tell you all about it here, from my perspective as an unabashed Tao (Uptown) devotee. 

Until then if you've already been, please, do share!


Brew York City . . .

Last time I was in Dallas we went beer tasting at this really neat spot called Craft and Growler. If the name doesn't already give it away, it's a craft beer bar that also acts as a filling station.  After sampling a slew of unique beers, you can buy or bring your own growler to fill up to bring some of those unusual brews back home with you. I was totally into it and determined to find a similar concept in NYC.

Image via Jeff Raulie
Fast forward to a week later... I was picking up some toothpaste at Duane Reade and you won't believe what I saw: Brew York City. Maybe I'm a bit behind the times on this one, but did you know that Duane Reade has its own growler station? I was shocked and intrigued to see a beer bar in a pharmacy. I would have never thought that my search for a New York growler bar would end right there at Duane Reade.

So here's the deal: There are four DR locations in the city with Brew York City bars (two on the Upper West, one in Union Square, and one in Brooklyn). You can take your own growler for filling (I love these West Elm ones) or purchase one on-site. If you're curious what beers each location is featuring, check out an updated list on BeerMenus. Also, stop by your nearest location to find out when they have complimentary beer samplings.

Talk about two birds with one stone.
Craft beer and toothpaste all in one trip, I was instantly sold.



Hello December . . .

Image via InspirationStation
Hello! I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings filled with food, fun, family and friends. December is here and the holiday season is already in full swing. 

Last night my family and I got into the spirit at the Radio City Music Christmas Spectacular. We go to it every year, and every year it's equally cheesy as it is festive, and I couldn't imagine a better way to bring in the the first day of December. If you love New York and Christmas, you should try to catch a show one day this month. In fact, if you get tickets today and use code EMMONDAY - you can get 50% off which is a pretty good deal. 

And from one celebration to the next, tonight is Winter's Eve in Lincoln Square (featuring holiday food, shopping and entertainment - it's really fun!), tomorrow is the Bryant Park Tree Lighting (which will have live music and skating performances alongside the Holiday Market), Wednesday is the lighting at Rockefeller Center, and the list goes on. Visit HERE for a full New York Holiday calendar. 

Enjoy & happy December!