Big Times in the Big City

Marc and I arrived back in Indy on Monday night from our NYC trip. And let me just say that I am still trying to recoup from my time spent in the city that never sleeps. We headed out with little to no expectations of what we might actually do while we were there. Last time we visited — a couple of years ago — we did a lot of the “tourist-y” things like Time’s Square, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, etc., so there really wasn’t anything that just had to go on our agenda. Plus, we were there for a wedding that Marc was officiating (more later on that one), so we knew that we might have some obligations surrounding the festivities. In order to encapsulate our long weekend, here’s a play-by-play of the day-by-day…

Thursday, July 5th: Leaving on a Jet Plane

Thankfully our flight wasn’t a super early one, although Marc made a nice long day for himself by getting up at 6:00 AM to work out before dropping the B-monster off at the kennel. Then we were off…we got into NYC just after lunchtime and headed to Caleb & Maria’s — our gracious hosts during our stay. When we arrived, Caleb was still at work, so we settled in and caught up with Maria for awhile. Their apartment was spectacular…very cozy and comfortable, exactly what we needed for a quick getaway from Indy. Once Caleb got home, we headed to the vegetarian Thai restaurant just down the street for lunch. The restaurant was very hip (with an especially cool bathroom), but the funniest part was the menu, which allowed for your choice of chicken, tofu or vegetarian on most items. When we asked about why there was a chicken option at a vegetarian restaurant, the waitress informed us that it was actually soy chicken. Aha!

After lunch, we took a stroll around the neighborhood and ended up at Thompkins Square Park, where we came across Mo Rocca doing interviews for his AOL newsblog, 180 degrees. We wandered back over to the park later that afternoon to try to get in on the interview action, but we soon realized that they were looking for certain types of people — or at least that what we told ourselves to feel a little better about not attracting their attention. Marc ended up finding the interviews online…you can check them out here. Scroll down a little, and you’ll see two separate posts — one about Buying Tofu from Dennis Kucinich and another about Fantasy Baby Mamas. Next stop was a German restaurant — Zum Schneider — for pretzels, apple spritzers, and delicious potato salad along with just about as much sausage as a table of nine could handle. From there, it was on to our friends Lee & Asa’s apartment for a quick trip up to the roof to catch a beautiful view of the city and a little bit of voyeuristic site seeing in the form of watching a guy in the condo across the street trying out his super stylin’ dance moves. Marc still swears that the guy was on drugs. Then, thank goodness, back to the apartment for some well deserved zzz’s.

Blurry Photo of Mo Rocca at Thompkins Square Park

Asa, Caleb & Matt at Zum Schneider

View of the Skyline from Asa & Lee’s Roof

Friday, July 6th: Walk Until Your Feet Fall Off

Of course, anyone who has been to NYC knows that you walk…a lot. But by the end of the day, I literally thought that I just might die if I walked one more inch. Unfortunately, my RA decided to go crazy in my ankles, so by day’s end, I looked quite a bit like Little Miss Hobbley Pants.

First things first…we started out with breakfast at the Moonstruck Cafe followed by a quick walk to the subway to catch a ride up to Chelsea to visit Eric’s photography studio (a/k/a the wedding venue). It was our first time to meet Ujin, Eric’s wife, and check out the surroundings so Marc could get his bearings for the wedding ceremony the next day. We were sworn to secrecy regarding the set-up and decorations, as Eric was hoping to lock-in the “wow factor” for others who wouldn’t see the space until Saturday. But I can tell you now that it was gorgeous! Ujin’s best friend from home is a florist for a hotel in Korea, and she masterfully crafted the flowers in a way that didn’t overwhelm the small space but instead perfectly complemented the ambiance that Eric and Ujin were going for. After we met with Eric and Ujin to nail down their expectations of Marc for the service, we headed to SoHo for one of the best parts of any NYC trip — the shopping!

Ujin’s Sister & Friend Starting the Decorations


We were mostly on the hunt for a dress for me for the wedding Saturday (found it!), shoes to go along (called off the search), and shoes to go with Marc’s outfit for Saturday, which we found at Aldo (yes, I know, we have those here). Once we wrapped up the shopping, it was time to head back to the apartment so we could get ready for the “rehearsal dinner” (if you will) at Eric and Ujin’s apartment in Brooklyn. We were so thankful to be invited to share in the events of the evening since it was mostly family in attendance — it was especially nice to get to know Eric & Ujin more as a couple since we hadn’t had the opportunity to meet Ujin and hang out with them together before the trip. Marc commented to me later that it was like Eric was a different person — in the very best way — around Ujin…and that’s saying a lot since Marc has known him since junior high.

Eric & Ujin — The Happy Couple

The highlight of the evening was the gift exchange that took place between Ujin and Eric’s families. According to Korean tradition, there are certain gifts that are to be exchanged between the bride and groom’s families before the wedding. Eric’s mom, Jane, presented Ujin with a wooden box that was filled with many gifts — including a carved wooden loon for her family (since loons mate for life), a Beanie Baby duck for Ujin (which reminded Jane of the duck in Eric’s favorite book as a child), a pair of earrings that once belonged to Eric’s grandmother, and a pair of earrings specially designed by the jeweler who created Ujin’s engagement ring to match her wedding set. Then Eric’s dad presented Ujin’s family with a gift to represent his “village” — photo books of the places he has lived. Jane presented Ujin’s family with a beautiful stained glass piece; and finally, Ujin’s family presented Eric’s mom and dad each with an amazing handcrafted vase from Korea. Finally, Ujin’s family presented Jane with a lovely traditional Korean wedding outfit that she would wear during the ceremony. It was all so thoughtful and heartfelt! If you asked Ujin, though, she might tell you that the best gift of the evening was the Chanel purse that Eric gave to her as a wedding present!

Ujin’s Family Unwrapping Gifts

Ujin’s Favorite Gift

Saturday, July 7th: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Marc woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and took off in search of a place to pen his “words of wisdom” for Eric & Ujin’s ceremony. As he tells it, he first grabbed a coffee and headed to Thompkins Park, but it was still kind of early and just felt a little sketchy. Knowing that wouldn’t do, he hiked on up to Washington Square, but again it was so early that the park was empty and felt a little weird. So he got up and did what anyone would do…walked all the way up to Central Park. While there, he came across Lincoln Karim — a photographer featured in Vanity Fair for his work in capturing photos of the hawks near Central Park. You can see the photos that he took while Marc was there that morning by clicking here. Pretty cool! He also got to witness some firsthand peer pressure when several parkgoers and the photographer accosted a woman for smoking in the park, chased her off, and then heckled her into coming back to pick her cigarette butt off the ground to put it in the trash. Power in numbers!

Meanwhile, Caleb, Maria and I were getting cleaned up back at the apartment and wondering where in the world Marc was since it was actually time for him to be at Eric’s studio. When we finally got in touch with him, he took Caleb’s advice and hopped at cab back to the apartment to get spruced up and changed into his wedding garb. Once he was out the door, the three of us made our way to Tiffany & Co. to pick up a wedding gift….fancy schmancy!! Caleb told us that in the interest of time he would be willing to go to Tiffany & Co. by himself, but Maria informed him that if there was going to be any gift buying at Tiffany, we were going to be there for it. We decided to go with a beautiful crystal rose bowl that, of course, looked smashing in the trademark blue Tiffany box. The only problem was that we forgot a card — so, with no card stores in sight and necessity being the mother of invention, Caleb stopped into a convenience store and bought a Lotto ticket, which we emblazoned with a nice little note for the bride and groom. I wish I had a picture of the Lotto ticket tucked under the ribbon on the box…quite a contrast!

The ceremony itself was wonderful and touching, and Marc’s “sermon” was perfect! You never would have guessed that he was nervous, and his words were so appropriate. A couple of people told him afterwards that they even teared up during the ceremony. I have to give Marc big kudos for coming through in a big way with such short lead time. I was very proud!

The reception immediately followed the ceremony, and I’ll just say this about it — absolutely wonderful food, trays upon trays of sushi, and 36 bottles of champagne (which I think would average out to about one and one-half bottles apiece for each attendee when you take out us non-drinkers and the children. I’m sure that a few folks had a rather rough morning the next day. Once the last bottle was drained and the final bits of sushi were thrown out, we headed back to Caleb & Maria’s. Somehow, I made room for a slice of pepperoni pizza before bed!

Eric & Ujin in Traditional
Korean Wedding Clothes

Sunday, July 8th: Lazy Sunday

After all of the hullabaloo of Saturday, I can pretty much sum up Sunday with the following — slept in, Mexican for lunch, lounged on a blanket and a played a mean game of Scrabble in the park, Italian for dinner, watched Little Britain, and went to bed. We were all feeling a bit green from the Italian food, which was a little too heavy on the nutmeg, so we scarfed down some Malox and crashed out. The original plan for Sunday was to go to Coney Island to people watch, but that plan was stifled by the three cases of champagne the night before.

Monday, July 9th: Home Again, Home Again

It’s always a little bittersweet wrapping up a trip, especially when it’s a really good one. But, alas, all good things must come to an end I suppose. On Monday, we headed to Balthazar for breakfast. We were there the last time that we were in New York on the last morning of our trip, so we thought we would make it a little tradition. The food is pretty good — I’ve gotten the French toast both times — and the atmosphere is fun. Afterwards, we strolled through SoHo for a bit and then started a walk towards Chelsea in hopes of finding a gift shop that Marc had stumbled upon on his previous day’s jaunt (Marc woke up early each morning for a walk through the City). The temperature on Monday was about 97 degrees — no exaggeration — so we tried to take it easy, stopping off for lunch at the Esperanto Cafe in Greenwich Village. The longer we walked, the more we realized that we should have brought along the address to the gift shop since we were obviously not going to find it on our own. While moseying about, we did stumble upon The Magnolia Bakery, famous for it’s cupcakes. Read it here, though, folks…I was too stuffed from lunch to get one and doubted the viability of the cupcake in the heat should I have decided to eat it later. (I guess I’ll just have to go back again….) Finally, we decided that it was getting too late and we were too hot to look any further, so we grabbed a taxi back to pick up our things and head out. The flight back was a smooth one, and we touched down just after dinner time. I had Marc drop me of at home before he drove up to his parents’ house to pick up Kelso, but I begged him to pick up Donato’s on his way home….which I ate in bed. Shame, I know. But what’s a girl to do? I was/(am still) so tired!

Marc at Balthazar for Breakfast

Happy About my Full Belly

That’s a Wrap!

Well, now you know way more about our NYC trip than you probably ever hoped to, but I guess this breaks the blogging fast. When it rains it pours! Enjoy the stories and photos, and if you haven’t been — or haven’t been for awhile — get your booty out there soon, and bring me back some cupcakes!


9 responses to “Big Times in the Big City

  1. Sweet Magnolia Goodness!

    I was at a retreat at a United Methodist conference center about a half-block from Magnolia Bakery a couple years ago. It was only my second time in NYC, so I didn’t know how world-famous the cupcakes were, but Oh. Em. Gee! Delish!

    Sounds like you had a great trip — welcome back to Indy and welcome back to blogging!

    Peace out! ~ SSS

  2. Wow, what a wonderful trip. I have always wanted to go to Balthazar and Magnolia Bakery. I have the Magnolia Bakery cookbooks, everything is yummy. We must have the same food tastes.

  3. Welcome back! It sounds like a fabulous trip – I feel like I was there after reading about it. Sounds like there was some yummy food involved!

  4. I love the picture of the happy couple bustin’ a move in traditional Korean dress. Very sweet and so New York. They are so cute! Maybe we could order some Magnolia Cupcakes to be delivered for our next birthday celebration at work, at least the next one that is my birthday, hint, hint.

  5. Dear Karen — thanks for sharing this trip. New York City is my birthplace and favorite city to visit (including my favorite bookstore in the world at 12th and Broadway). It’s great to see pics of y’all and your life while we are here wandering around in South Africa. Makes me long to get home even as we are enjoying our time here.

  6. You should be a travel writer. Great write up of your extended weekend. Sounds like a blast!

  7. Karen,

    We are leaving on Saturday for a jaunt to the Big Apple for 4 days…Clay’s 21st birthday celebration 6 mos. late. We must look for Balthazar & Magnolia, can taste it now. Tell Marc I’m so impressed with his marriage wisdom, has he been stepping in for Mike in his absence?

  8. Loved your weekend recap! It made me want to leave right this minute and get you some cupcakes. So sorry the RA flared up during your weekend of walking. : (

  9. It looks like you all had an AMAZING time on your trip. 🙂 VERY COOL!!

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