A few days ago, I came across a photo on the Internet that I feel best sums up what it really means to live a congruent life. The picture states:
Make a list of things that make you happy.
Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists.
I truly believe that the happiest people are the most congruent, the individuals whose thoughts and actions are in perfect alignment. Every day, the constantly strive to marry what they say with what they do. When they set their alarms at 6:00am to exercise, they make it happen even when they don’t feel like it.
I think the quote above can also be applied to the relationships in our lives. This past weekend, I reunited with an old high school friend who vented to me his frustrations about being surrounded by toxic people in his life. The pressures and stresses of regularly dealing with unreliable and unmotivated individuals truly weighed him down. He sighed, “You have friends now that you’ve known for more than a decade. That friendship and bond you have with your best friends Justine and Nikki and the Vaklas… I don’t have that in my life.”
After our meeting, I reflected on our conversation and couldn’t help but feel extreme gratitude for the deep relationships and friendships I have in my life. At this point in my life, I can say with certainty that there is absolutely nobody in my life who I don’t want in it, and it has taken me 24years to realize that it is one of the most hard-earned prizes of adulthood.
A majority of people live their lives settling for shallow relationships and connections with other people they know do not contribute to their growth, emotional vampires who suck life and joy and bring pain and heartache instead. I believe that cutting ties with toxic people in our lives is simple, but not easy. Just like the quote above, I think one of the most efficient strategies is to create two lists:
1) Make a list of standards that we admire in others and aspire to, standards that add value in our lives
2) Make a list of people that we surround ourselves with
The ultimate goal of list #2 is to be in alignment with list #1. If individuals on list #2 do not possess qualities and traits listed on list #1, have the courage to take the leap and cut ties with them. Disconnecting ourselves from toxic people is never easy, but postponing or making excuses out of fear implies that we’re not functioning adults capable of making our own decisions regarding who can and can’t be part of our lives. We are more powerful than that.
When creating the itinerary for this New York City trip, I tried my hardest to plan our days conquering one section/neighborhood of the city at a time. For our second day, our target was Lower Manhattan.
The New York City subway system is by far the most intricate subway system I’ve ever encountered. Their map looks like spaghetti! So many trains and subways going in all directions. In fact, they have so many that they had to use alphabets AND numbers to name them. Los Angeles’ subway system is nothing but mere fart to New York’s.
With the island of Manhattan only being 13.4 miles long, the subway is one of the most convenient, fastest, and cheapest mode of transportation to get around the city. The fare for one subway ride alone is $2.50. My friends and I knew that this will quickly add up considering our vacation was 10 days long, so one of the most important things we researched prior to our trip was to find a way to minimize our expenses as much as possible.
Perhaps one of the best things we spent our money on while in New York was a 7-day Unlimited Metrocard. The Unlimited Pass was a total of $31.00 ($30.00 for the pass and $1.00 for the Metrocard). It’s valid for 7 days and can literally be used in any subway or train, unlimitedly. This not only saved us so much money, but time as well! We didn’t have to constantly buy one-way tickets every time we entered a subway station. Instead, all we had to do was swipe the card at the turnstiles.
Another purchase that I highly recommend is the New York CityPass! The cost is $109 for adults, and it includes admission to 6 tourist attractions and landmarks all throughout the city.
For our second day at the city, our first stop of the day was Lady Liberty herself. Because of our hotel’s prime location, we only had to take one subway (Subway 1, Red) all the way to Battery Park, which is located at the southern most tip of Manhattan.
We purchased our CityPasses in advanced, and we traded our email vouchers for the actual booklets at the ticket window in Battery Park. For our first attraction, we had a choice between Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. This was a no-brainer.
The ferry itself was only a 20-minute ride away. Our CityPass gave us admission to the ferry and to Liberty Island. It did not include entry to Lady Liberty’s crown, but we didn’t really think it was necessary.
We returned to the mainland after lunch. Financial District was only walking distance, so we took pictures with the famous Charging Bull!
Other notable attractions in the Financial District are the famous Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.
My friends and I wanted to truly experience New York City’s food scene and not just dine at the famous eateries, so we decided to grab lunch at Korchma Taras Bulba in SoHo, which was a short cab ride away.
I discovered Korchma Taras Bulba after it was recommended by one of my favorite New York-based blogger, LoveTaza. The place offered Ukrainian cuisine, and it was unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been to in L.A.
Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences we had at Korchma Taras Bulba happened during on our way out of place. Prior to our departure, one of the friendly servers stopped us and asked if we were willing to partake in a very Ukrainian tradition — which is taking a shot of vodka, with a chunk of pickle as chaser (all complementary by the way).
My friends and I were all in the same open-minded mentality to try new things and new experiences while in the city, so we were definitely willing! Vodka shot, pickle chaser? Count us in! We cheered and toasted and it was by far one of the coolest ways I’ve ever left a restaurant. It immediately created a stronger bond between my friends and I, reaffirming a sense of camaraderie that we are all in this gritty and loud and exciting city of New York together.
For dessert, we transported ourselves from Ukraine to Paris in two minutes as the legendary Maison du Macaron, Ladurée, was only one block away!
As a person, my sweet-tooth is unparalleled. I love love love love sweets! Ice creams, chocolate, cakes, pies, give ’em to me! However, macarons for me have slowly been one of those desserts which I really stopped craving. For one, they’re expensive, ranging from $1.00 per cookie to almost $3.00. Secondly, known as the “world’s most impossible cookie,” French macarons are very very difficult to perfect. It’s very common for me to find a macaron that’s too sweet or too chewy or something else. I always find something quite not right. Which is why I initially entered Ladurée with very very low expectations. Of course, I’ve heard of Ladurée before, but I was still hesitant to believe that their fame as actually earned and legitimate. For all I know, they’re simply overhyped and their macarons overrated.
My god, was I wrong. Very very very wrong. Ladurée macarons are by far THE BEST macarons I’ve ever tasted. Ever. Ever. Ever had. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong. They run at $2.80 a pop, which I admit is a bit on the pricey side, but mother of all things holy, they are absolutely divine. Gahhh, my mouth is salivating just by the mere thought. I recall having one of those moments where upon having my first bite of the salt caramel, my eyes instantly widened as my confused tongue processed the gloriousness occurring in my mouth. They’re not overtly sweet, so it’s beyond easy to consume 10, 20, even 30 in one sitting! They’re truly an indulgence that I believe everyone should have and deserve to have every once in a while. When I die, I want a handful of Ladurée macarons in my mouth, please.
The night was young when we left Ladurée. We didn’t want to waste time being in the city and head home so early, so we decided to see Grand Central Terminal. We originally planned to see the place on a different day, but we figured we might as well cross it off the list now since we have the extra time allowance.
There’s something so romantic I find about Grand Central Terminal, or train stations in general. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that train travel is a much older form of travel than airplanes, so it echoes more history of goodbyes and reunions, tears and kisses, from individuals from all over the world.
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for day 3!
Anicka “unpaid Ladurée endorser” Nadine
Korchma Taras Bulba 357 West Broadway New York, New York 10013 T: 212.510.7510 www.tarasbulba.us
Laduée, SoHo 398 West Broadway New York, New York 10012 T: 646.392.7868 www.ladureeus.com
After 14 years of living in Southern California, I can finally say I’ve visited Catalina Island! There are a number of reasons why it took so long for me to explore this charming island merely a one hour ferry-ride away from mainland California, but at this point it doesn’t matter anymore.
We spent two days and one night on the island, which was more than enough for our purposes. We arrived early Saturday morning at the Long Beach port and rode the Catalina Express.
I must say, even with a strong stomach like mine, I found the ferry ride quite uncomfortable. The open water was so rough and wavy that I constantly felt my stomach dropping! Wave after wave after wave slammed against our vessel, making it difficult to even stand up.
Nevertheless, the ride was worth it because it felt like arriving to paradise once we docked in Avalon. We definitely got lucky escaping the gloomy and foggy weather back in the mainland!
Upon arrival, we immediately checked in at our hotel, The Catalina Island Inn, which is conveniently located in the heart of their main town center. I highly recommend staying here! Our room was clean and updated, and the staff were extremely helpful. Plus, the location is unbeatable, only a 5-minute walk from the ferry port.
Their main town square was incredibly charming. It had Santa Barbara’s beach town vibe! It completely felt like we were way farther from Los Angeles than we actually were.
We spent the next few hours relaxing [and dodging seagulls] at the beautiful Descanso Beach Club. The weather was a bit on the chilly side and the sun came out of the clouds sporadically, so getting in the water was out of the question.
Next item on the itinerary was biking! There were a few rental areas, and we scored ours for only $8 per hour! We stayed primarily in the main town since the rest of the island had steep inclines! Nevertheless, it was a fun and relaxing way to explore more of Catalina Island. Through biking, we discovered that they pretty much only have one of everything: one school (from K-12), one church, one hospital, one fire station, one gasoline station ($6.20 per gallon gas yo!) and such. We were definitely NOT in Los Angeles anymore.
Sunday was spent relaxing as well as more biking! My friends and I dined at Bluewater Grill, a restaurant overlooking the ocean. It was only fitting we devour shrimp tacos and fish and chips!
After lunch, we toured the island like locals — with golf carts! We managed to rent a 6-seater for a few hours, allowing us go up the hills and see the island from up high.
We cruised all over the island, waving and saying “Hi!” and “Hello” to every one we encounter: pedestrians, other tourists, locals playing golf… and surprisingly, everyone waved back! They were so friendly. We even waved at the captain of the submarine (pictured above). He not only waved back at us, but even honked the submarine!
We eventually reached the top of the hill overlooking Catalina. The view was beautiful!
After riding the golf carts, we decided to rent bikes again since we had a blast biking around the town the day before.
I definitely recommend Catalina Island for a weekend getaway for those who want to disconnect and unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life in the mainland. I am most definitely coming back!
Click play below to watch our video diary. Make sure to watch in HD!
Last Saturday, my two best friends and I got together over brunch with an old friend of ours from middle school. As brunch enthusiasts, we all agreed to meet up at Salt’s Cure in West Hollywood. Granted it was the weekend, the wait for a table lasted for about 45 minutes. All of us have heard great things about Salt’s Cure, so we stuck around.
Also, we ran into Andre 3000 from Outkast! We noticed him walk in with an older lady. All of us recognized him immediately, but none of us were brave enough to actually approach him.
Unlike most brunch places in Los Angeles, Salt’s Cure is very unpretentious. Their exterior design is so simple I almost missed it driving by. In the same token, their interior is modest and charming.
The place itself is fairly small, only seating about 30 people or so. The kitchen/griddle itself occupied about half of the space.
Each one of us ordered the All-Star 2x2x2, which wasn’t on the menu. The dish consists of 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 sausage patties, 3 pancakes and 1 biscuit.
The meal itself look incredibly simple, but my god, that plate is what dreams our made of. It was probably the BEST brunch meal I’ve ever had in Los Angeles. Hands down. Everything was perfectly cooked and balanced and proportioned. There was sweet and there was savory.
The bacon slices were thick just the way I like them as well as the sausage patties. Their eggs could star in their own porn movie. Their biscuits were fresh and fluffy. Their pancakes were in the league of their own. I seriously don’t think I can eat regular pancakes again after having tried theirs. They were accompanied by maple butter, which melted upon encounter with the soft warm pancakes, oozing into its crevices and making sweet love to ’em.
Heavenly! Needless to say, I cleaned my plate off.