Setting Intentions This November

Ahh, November first. You hit us in Denver with beautiful weather and even better leaves falling everywhere. Last night’s candy is still fresh in my mind and the smoke from a fire at our friend’s Halloween party still hangs in my hair while I crank up the crock-pot for a Chicken Pot Pie dinner. Love this time of the year.

The coming two months will blow by as they always do and 2016 will be here. But today, I want to set some intentions coming into this holiday season to ensure I enjoy it, take it all in, and not feel like I got spit out on Jan. 3 by some evil holiday creature. Working in marketing for a retail company means there are big weeks coming up, certainly potential for a few long days, but I’m not worried about those. So long as I can keep a positive outlook and be mindful of the following, well, I think I’ll come out all right.

House: I say this probably ten times each year. And twelve times in November/December. I will be more organized at home, including putting things away when I use them and staying on top of stuff like laundry and magazine piles. My mood is always better when my house is in order, so this is a top priority. Much of today was spent cleaning my cabinets and doing laundry. Add in there some existing post-vow renewal clutter removal, and I feel good about my Sunday. Need to keep this going each Sunday for the remaining months of the year.

Food: When I cook, I smile. When I make something Leo loves, I smile. When I absolutely butcher a recipe, I smile. There’s a theme here. Food, namely cooking it, makes me smile. More smiling means more cooking. I also am more mindful of what I put in my body when I make it myself. So more of this, for sure.

Sugar: I’ve been a straight fiend for the white stuff this past month. Rarely do I put restrictions on any one food, but it’s gotten out of control. So, for November, I’m going to cut back drastically on my sweets consumption. Tootsie rolls to brownies to the holiday cookies that will be in the office in the next few weeks – this one is going to be tough. But my mom’s doing it with me for health reasons, so here’s to motivation and teamwork! Thanksgiving (pie included, and delicious sweet potatoes with marshmallows) will be a pleasant treat that I will be indulging in. But getting a grasp on my sweets habit is going to be a key focus for the month.

Shopping: Tis the season!! Oh my favorite season to shop for my family, my Leo, myself. “Only buy what you love” is a quote I’ve been thinking a lot about as of late. We have so much, and we’re moving in the next two months, so more stuff is not necessary. For November, I’m putting a one-in-one-out policy on top of only buying what I love. If I buy something, I’ll be donating something. Hell, I’ll donate two things for every one thing I bring home. Let’s do this.

Christmas Cards: We’re still cranking through thank you notes to everyone that joined us two weeks ago for our vow renewal (ahem, wedding) party. So it is extremely ambitious to consider doing Christmas cards as well this month. However, if I turn 30 without ever doing Christmas cards…oh that’s just embarrassing.

Writing: I’ve been working on a project (a few actually) that involve some solid writing time. And focus. Focus can be tough to come across for me, especially with so many glorious distractions that I have to pass the time. But this November, my goal is to get through 25,000 more words in these projects. That’ll put me around halfway through one of my projects, and I’ll be pumped to get there.

So, those are my November intentions. Here goes! What are some things that you’re trying be mindful coming into the wild holiday months?

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Heaven is a Place on Earth 

  
Colorado. I could write you a love note every day. In my head, I do. And with my camera I try. Each weekday, each weekend, I fall a little more in love. I look past your flaws, ahem, insane housing market, and sing you song. It starts with a tune and includes the line, heaven is a place on earth. I don’t see this song ending anytime soon. 

Thank you for letting me live. Live fully. Live happily. Live wonderfully. Live blessed. Thank you, Colorado.

    
    
   

Same spot, different times of day. Twin Lakes, Colorado. Fourth of July weekend, 2015. Heaven.

We went up with a few friends, canoed to this spot and relaxed to celebrate America. A lot of beer later, we returned home thankful and refreshed. 

Pike’s Peak and Other Adventures in Colorado

I just went through all my pictures from 2014 when I was writing my year in review post and realized I have some major catching up to do! A favorite memory of the past year? When my girlfriends from college rugby days, Keebler and Audrey, came out to visit me! We hiked (and got lost on – scary) a 14er, ziplined, danced the night away to country music, and sampled tons of fantastic food.

First up – Pike’s Peak! From a late start, to getting lost driving to the trailhead, to rude guys at the trailhead (very un-Colorado-like), to getting lost on the hike up, to deciding we’d better take the train down instead of hiking due to timing – we made some mistakes, but we learned so much. This was our first real hike. Go big or go home, right? It is a relatively easy hike in that no technical gear is required. But it is 13 miles and 7,400 vertical feet up and no small feat if you ask us! The guide sites all say to avoid the trail at all costs the third weekend of August due to heavy trail traffic, but it wasn’t bad for us. We really only saw people during the first 3 miles, at the Barr Camp area and the last two miles. Some shots from the adventure!

Hit the trail an hour and a half later than planned, but got to see a great sunrise at the trailhead for Pike's Peak!
Hit the trail an hour and a half later then planned, but got to see a great sunrise at the trailhead for Pike’s Peak!
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And we’re off! To the rude gentleman that doubted us… pfsshhh! Get out the way.

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First of many breathers. You can still see the town below, we weren’t too high up yet.
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One more mile to go! The huge smiles were because this was after we got lost for almost an entire mile. The last mile is also one of the toughest, but after trekking 12 of the 13 total miles, this felt like a win!
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Golden doesn’t mean nice. Or enjoyable. And not sure where the 16 comes from. But it was awesome to see this sign close to the end.
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Those switchbacks didn’t seem like a big deal until we got up higher and realized how far we’d walked in about 45 minutes.
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We’re still smiling on the 16 Golden Stairs!
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Strained muscles were slowing her down!
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We made it! 14,115 ft above sea level. 13 miles up. #nobigdeal
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The joy of summiting a mountain is something the three of us ladies have talked about almost weekly since hiking this.
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Calm and collected as always. Success!
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Pike’s Peak was a good 14er for us to start with because the top is a total tourist destination. You can take a train up there instead of hiking, so we knew that if we got too tired, or the weather turned, or we got really lost, it is a popular trail. And there’s a way down. Oh – and donuts and hot cocoa at the top.
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These are the faces of three proud, happy, tired novice hikers who can’t wait do their next hike!

A quick drive through Garden Of the Gods on our way out of the area was a nice relaxing way to watch the huge storms that rolled in as soon as we can down off the mountain.

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So, the next day, to be sure we weren’t too sore, we went for a jog around a park here in Denver and visited the Denver Botanic Gardens. Sadly, the Chihuly exhibit is now gone, but it was such a neat experience!

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My unsure face says it all… these two are healthy as can be, and I’m dying after our jog!
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We don’t mess around with our picture perfect skyscapes here in Denver.

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We hit the Larimer Square dining on the square event that evening and enjoyed a bottle of champagne under the lights with dessert. Followed by a ton of dancing to country music and making up for our healthy decisions with beer!

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Retired rugby players clean up quite nicely if you ask me!

The next day, Keebler organized a zip lining trip. So into Idaho Springs we went! I highly recommend this for a fun family activity – we laughed a ton, had a great time with the guides and other families and generally enjoyed it.

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The weekend came to an end, and off the girls went back to Chicago and me back to my regularly scheduled Denver existence. But it was such a special weekend with these ladies! It also completely inspired me for the new year. More adventure, more nature, more getting uncomfortable.

When they first asked to hike Pike’s Peak because Keebler (real name Amanda, don’t ask) had a strange wish do it, I was skeptical. But, with a book in hand and a lot of reading online, I sucked it up. Thank goodness I did! We learned a ton about hiking, preparation, each other, and how to push ourselves. Can’t wait until the next one!

Fall in Aspen, or, Perfection

One of the most incredible places I’ve visited since moving to Colorado? Aspen. We headed up to Aspen to visit friends this fall, and I can’t get it out of my head. A few snaps of the weekend exploring.

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The drive to Aspen is incredible. On the way up, it was already dark, but Sunday was such a surprise!
Aspens!
Aspens!
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We pulled off the road to take in more of the view. This hardly does the scene justice.
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If one day I can live in a forest of Aspens, I’ll be very happy.
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While on the trip, we headed up the mountain on a lift and went for a hike. A must-do if you visit Aspen.
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This ragtag bunch made the trip!

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At the top of mountain is a little cabin which we paused at for a bit to rest and take in the view.
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The weather changes in a second. See the clouds in the picture above? Always on the lookout for storm clouds.
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Love having this guy home from Mexico!
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These two. Look at those smiles. Aspen is beautiful. So are the people.
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Remember when I said Aspen is beautiful? ❤ the mountains.

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Driving! We took Independence Pass instead of the main highway. Highly recommend it for the views.
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That said, it is not a drive for the faint of heart…
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Cheesing at the Continental Divide. By cheesing, I mean freezing. SO cold.
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Always thankful for tourists who swap photographer duties. Especially when they know how to use my camera better than I do.
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Very different scenery without the sun. Worth the pull off and quick walk on the path to see.

Can’t wait to go back to Aspen in 2015. It is a must. And now that Leo is back home for good from his international work adventure, we can plan it!

St. Mary’s Glacier and Lake

Good friends say yes when you text them all but begging to go for a hike on week three of your husband being away on business. And then you get lost, drive like a maniac, take beautiful pictures, and enjoy a few hours of beautiful fall day in Colorado. So thankful that my Colorado community is so wonderful.

Beautiful, no?

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Just a quick hike up a nice path and the view opens up to this.
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Alex and I trying to get the pup to pose with us. Because when the scenery is this pretty, you have to take a picture!
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This girl. Love her and her perfect pup!
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These trees are straight Dr. Seuss on a twisted hillside. So creepy. But amazing at the same time. Such a great morning with these kids.
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Greg, Alex and Elliott… and Bailey! Great friends who I am SO grateful for joining me on a Saturday morning hike.
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Here’s the beach at St. Mary’s Lake. This lake is absolutely the coldest body of water I’ve ever felt. My hand lasted in the water for about two seconds.
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Colorado does clouds right.
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One more for prosperity.

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That, my friends, is a glacier. With people skiing on it. In 70* weather. Normal.
That, my friends, is a glacier. With people skiing on it. In 70* weather. Normal.
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When you lose your keys, drive an hour and then find them… you take another hour to drive around on dirt roads by yourself . And then you found the most perfect little serene spot. This is heaven on earth.

Dropping my keys at the trailhead was part of the adventure. We got back to Denver, I dropped everyone off, got home, ready to walk in my door, and realized my house keys fell off my keychain. No bueno.

I felt completely defeated. So I drove back up to the trailhead – an hour away – and just kept saying, “they’ll be there. I’ll find them.” And I did. Thanks for playing a little trick on me world, I appreciate it.

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Travel Wishes (on Sale)

Kate Spade sale with lots of travel goodies ends tonight! Just a few days after I learn that I’ll be traveling to Mexico City in the next couple months. Coincidence? I think not. If only the Playing Hooky bag was available…

The cross-body bag feels right for museums. This necklace may be coming home with me, too. And the casual skinny wallet that’s perfect for tossing in a bigger day bag with my camera, sliding into the cross-body with my museum guides and little memories (napkins, matchbooks, tickets, etc.) or carrying by itself for an evening out!

Excited to start planning my visit to the beautiful country of Mexico in the next few weeks!

(links are to the sale .. which expires in 4 hours. that’s probably annoying. sorry. hopefully I’ll update them later this week!)

 

Bon Voyage Necklace, Kate Spade
I’ll take one.
Santa Roalia Scout
Versatile for exploring, safe cross-body, great details.
A wallet for all the time, a stylish clutch for nights out!
A wallet for all the time, a stylish clutch for nights out

Living for the Moment

I had five weeks off of work. Ten days during that time were spent in Georgia with my family. And for the first time in a while, my camera never came out of my suitcase. And my iPhone camera was almost entirely unused as well save for one sunset. I enjoyed every minute with family and enjoyed Georgia, but I didn’t document every second.

Call me a twenty-something, but I’m all about having time where I’m just living. Not trying to capture the best Instagram shot or photos for this here blog. It went great – I had a great time. And on another recent travel adventure, I brought my camera only for a select activity. I’m digging this living thing.

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Why I Write

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With five weeks off of work, I’ve had plenty of time to think about what I love and why it makes me so happy. One thing that sticks out is writing. Sure I write a lot in my job, but this is a different kind of writing. Writing for fun, for joy! Maybe the best part of writing for me is that I can go back and read, especially my memories from travel.

In the past year, I’ve had a daily planner that I make valiant efforts at jotting a sentence or two down in about the day. While it isn’t a lot, it turns the mundane existence of daily life into little nuggets of memories. So, I write to remember. To feel the moments past. I post pictures to remember my favorite pieces of the places I visit. I write for myself and that is a darn good feeling.

2013: Year in Review

What a year it has been! This is about to be the longest post ever, and I’m writing it mostly for myself and my memories, so bear with me.

We started January of 2013 with good friends here in Denver who came to celebrate the New Year here. In February, we enjoyed cozying up in the cold of the month. I visited Chicago for work a few times and for Valentine’s Day, Leo I bought each other the same sweet gift – a half dozen chocolate covered strawberries. A favorite Valentine memory.

March brought us to Beaver Creek for some skiing/snowboarding with good friends. We celebrated Leo’s birthday with skiing and a great steak dinner in Denver (a must in our family).

At the beginning of April, my best friend in the whole world proposed to me at Red Rocks Park and I said YES! Certainly one of the best days of my life and no hike will ever top that one!

A weekend in Kansas City and a Saturday spent in historic Weston, Missouri with Leo’s dad and his girlfriend rounded out a great month of travel weekends.

The first weekend of May I spent time with family in Georgia for my grandmother’s birthday. We threw her a party and all of her kids that could were there to celebrate with her. The joy of having family to celebrate a birthday, especially for my grandmother, was immense. Seeing her that happy was a once-in-lifetime moment for sure.

The second week of May we were off to Miami for our five year anniversary. A work trip for Leo midweek turned into the perfect opportunity for me to fly out for the weekend. And what a weekend it was! That city is in my heart as a favorite destination in the entire world and I can’t wait to go back. I believe in pied-a-terres and pray one day my wallet can afford this belief in Miami.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a quick cruise into the mountains to spend the night with a good friend from Chicago and his now fiancee. Grand Lake always ranks high on our lists of great weekends in the mountains, and I much prefer it to the busy slope towns! The last week of May, and I was back in Chicago for work and then some more family time with my cousins.

The first week of June saw us in San Diego. My first few days in the great state of California were spent on an amazing business trip in LA, and then I took a gorgeous drive down the coast to San Diego to meet Leo, his mom and her husband. Off to a high school graduation with visits to a historic town in SD, dinner with old friends from Chicago overlooking a carnival and horse racing track and frequent stops to dip our toes in the cold ocean under the foggy skies. I fall in love with California every time I visit. San Diego was no different.

A quick trip to Chicago, and then down to Michiana (was it Michigan or Indiana? I have no idea) for a wine festival and bachelorette party rounded out a packed June. Over the last weekend of June, and into July, two of my college girl friends came to Colorado for some R&R – hiking, horseback riding, drinking and brunching were all we did for four fabulous days.

July started off at Lake Wawasee in Indiana for an incredible long weekend with one of our best friends. The house, the food, the company – all absolutely top notch and over the top, but in the most unpretentious way. My birthday came and went with good food and the love of my life treating me like queen! Kid Rock tickets – a favorite of mine – were the perfect gift!

August was another busy month with another bachelorette party in Chicago, and then 12 more days in Chicago at the end of the month for two extra special weddings of two wonderful girlfriends. The honor of standing up next to them as they start this next chapter was such a blessing for me, and we all had a great time!

August was almost a blur with all the excitement that carried into September. Tons of good friends came from Chicago to Denver for a whirlwind weekend of concerts and catching up. Then, another wedding, this time in Michigan City, Indiana, and another adventure. After flying in late Friday night and learning we couldn’t get the rental car we’d reserved, we hopped in a cab into Chicago and had a fabulous night out with friends. 7 a.m. came mighty early, but back to the airport we went to grab a car and drive down to Indiana for the wedding festivities. More drinking. More eating. More celebrating love with friends. A perfect combo.

Rounded out September in Georgia with my family. Kayaking, antiquing and cruising the old roads was just what the doctor ordered to close up shop on a super busy summer. I found my wedding dress that last weekend of September and waited to hear if Leo and I would be relocating to Mexico City. We aren’t (exactly) relocating, but the push to find the perfect dress with my family all around was well worth the initial stress.

The leaves turned and we were off to NYC for a quick weekend in October. Fall is a great time to travel – the colors, the energy of the upcoming holidays, the nostalgia of getting into the swing of the school year. We happened upon some great friends who had left Chicago for NYC and enjoyed catching up and seeing as much of the city as possible in two days, with a nice trip upstate for some army football.

The looming news of the pending relocation to Mexico City made October a blur, but we made it through. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to two more weddings of good friends (one in Chicago, one in Dallas) at the end of the month. And then November was upon us. Before the Thanksgiving holiday, which we spent in Kansas City, I decided to leave my job for a new position here in Denver. A bit nerve-wracking leaving the comfort of your first job and certainly scary, but mostly thrilling and intriguing.

Our lovely Thanksgiving holiday with family (new and old) and old friends was perfect. And now it is December. A mere 20 more days until the new year, and plenty of time for reflection on a great year that is passing. December, thus far, has been about grounding myself in what matters. Relaxing with hardly a worry in the immediate hours, and spending as much time with Leo as possible before the Christmas holidays and the new year.

2013 was the best yet! Leo and I traveled the country together, spent time with family and friends, celebrated love (ours and many other couples) and enjoyed every minute of it. Feeling absolutely lucky and blessed this holiday season to have enjoyed such a spectacular year!

Travel: New York in the Fall

Does it get prettier than this?
Does it get prettier than this?

Leo’s company invited us to a West Point football game in New York a few weeks back and we stayed in Manhattan at the Omni Berkshire. I’d always thought that I wouldn’t like NYC because I don’t love big cities after living in Chicago for 7 years, but I was mistaken. I adored New York City. Everything about it had me dreaming of moving there right away.

After meeting Leo outside of the city when I flew on Thursday night, we took an early morning cab into Manhattan. Coming into the city, I had the same butterflies I have when I see the skyline in Chicago. A curious excitement. As we drove, I couldn’t take my eyes off all the little shops, the traffic, the people, the clothes, the energy of such a huge city. Hour 1 in NYC = hooked.

After checking into the gorgeous hotel, we only had a few hours before we had to start getting ready for dinner with the company. Never the one to shy away from touristy things, we hopped on a bus to drive around and see as much as humanly possible in three hours. It rained a ton, but there we sat on the top of an outdoor double-decker bus and took everything in. Seeing the neighborhoods fly by just made me more excited for my next trip! We will be exploring a few select neighborhoods next time instead of trying to see everything.

Look up. Always look up.
Look up. Always look up.

We had dinner at Carmine’s, and then grabbed drinks at the hotel before calling it a night. Had to be up early the next morning for some football! We drove out to West Point on a coach bus with Leo’s company and napped most of the ride up, but the view we woke up to was incredible. That campus is a stunner. The game was great, hanging out with Leo’s company and meeting all the folks I’ve heard so much about was great. Everything was great!

West Point's campus in the fall is a picture of perfection.
West Point’s campus in the fall is a picture of perfection.
We cheered loudly for the West Point team, such a great east coast college experience.
We cheered loudly for the West Point team, such a great east coast college experience.

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Docks on the river.
Docks on the river.
Really, this place is incredible.
Really, this place is incredible.
The colors of the fall in the hills of New York would make any summer baby fall in love.
The colors of the fall in the hills of New York would make any summer baby fall in love.
<3
❤ this picture – bummed it is a bit blurry!
The train station on campus with some of the incredible fortress-like buildings in view.
The train station on campus with some of the incredible fortress-like buildings in view.
A little pre-game tailgating in a tent on the water.
A little pre-game tailgating in a tent on the water.

I can’t wait until our next trip to NYC, which I imagine will be upon us in the next year. We spent Saturday night on the lower east side, and then headed back that way for Sunday brunch before I hopped on a plane home. Leo had a few more days of work in Connecticut, which gave me plenty to time to dream about living in that glorious city before we settle down. I’ll be back soon, NYC, and missing you until that time!

Lower east side breakfast: gruyere, egg and spinach skillet, perfect bloody mary, and bacon.
Lower east side breakfast: gruyere, egg and spinach skillet, perfect bloody mary, and bacon.
Freeman's - the cutest restaurant in a perfect little alley. Lower east side.
Freeman’s – the cutest restaurant in a perfect little alley. Lower east side.