Yesterday I had some time to kill between getting new tires on my car and a yoga class. So on my way to yoga I decided to stop in to my local Barnes and Noble for a
cup of coffee
As you walk in the new store, it feels like you’re entering the MoMA. The design is really great (but I’ll let you see for yourself). You take the escalator one floor down, and as you enter, the bar is directly to your right. There’s seating for about 10 people at the bar and there are about 20 tables for dining, half of which are in the bar area and the other half in a quiet, more intimate space in the back. Menu items include appetizers, like fresh guacamole with chips and salsa, mini meatballs, and burrata crostini. Entree salads included a chicken caesar, kale, and a chopped veggie salad. There are also a few sandwich and entree options, such as grilled cheese with tomato soup, a brisket burger, chicken, pasta, and salmon. I ordered a glass of the Bouchard Père & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé to start for $10 USD. It was a slightly dry, yet crisp white wine which was perfect for early evening sipping. My friend and I split the guacamole which was freshly made with with big chunks of avocado, a little sea salt, and olive oil served with warm tortilla chips and a chipotle salsa. It is a generous serving that is perfect for sharing. I also ordered the grilled cheese and tomato soup- perfect to warm the soul in these chilling temperatures. The grilled cheese was a perfect combination of cheddar and havarti served on thick white bread with just the right amount of butter. The tomato soup was creamy and flavorful. John, the bartender, was very attentive, described all of the food options we were thinking about ordering, and even let us taste a few of the wines before we ordered. There’s a selection of local craft beers as well. I was surprised at how yummy the food was and will definitely be going back for more! Check out the menu here.
There are lots of freshly baked goods such as, you guessed it: croissants(!), scones, cookies, monkey bread and sticky buns. The coffee menu is pretty standard with lattes, cappuccinos, cortados and macchiatos. Next time I go I will be indulging in the sweet side of the Barnes and Noble Kitchen.
The space and layout of the store is great. I found it very organized, not at all crowded or messy, and all of the different genres are clearly labeled and easy to find. There’s a great, big children’s section where you can bring the kiddies on a Saturday afternoon. The vinyl section is extensive. Love that vinyl has made such a big comeback! Located next to the vinyl section is one of my favorite sections, the New York books (although somehow a book about Connecticut managed to sneak in) Wishful thinking I guess. The young adult section is one of the best I’ve seen in a B&N because it isn’t overwhelming and it’s very visually organized. As a teen I always got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books available and would want them all! You can peruse this section more leisurely and make the right decision about the book you really want! Finally, my soft spot: the paper section. As you line up to check out, there’s a great selection of Rifle Paper Company and Kate Spade journals and stationery as well as beautiful Papyrus greeting cards. This could be a bit of problem, as I like to linger in this section, but very convenient if you’re buying a gift and you need to grab a card on the way out. Speaking of cards, maybe you should send a special card to a special friend this week! Cards are so special. As I approach the register, I get excited because I get to use my teacher discount! Yay! The cashier was a very friendly older man, a retired teacher himself. He was talking to me about how all the teachers came in with their christmas gift cards and spent all of the money on their classroom libraries. Not surprised! But teachers, do yourself a favor, spend that gift card at the bar instead this year and treat yo’self to a good book and a glass of wine. You’ve earned it!
I hope you get to visit the Barnes and Noble Kitchen very soon as a little getaway from the hustle and bustle. Keep your eye out for more locations coming soon! In the meantime, go check out the Eastchester/Scarsdale location. You won’t be disappointed!
Planning a trip to sunny Aruba? Well you’ve come to the right place! It’s true what the locals say, “Aruba is one happy island”. From eating fresh seafood, to enjoying the simplicity of an island oasis, I have some really great recommendations for the trip that you will want to take this year! I knew I wanted to go away somewhere warm during the holidays, and last year I promised myself I’d be in Aruba before the new year. Lucky enough, it happened! Here is a roundup of where to stay, where to eat, and how to simply relax on your island getaway.
The plane ride from New York City to Oranjestad is about 4 hours. I recommend getting an early morning flight via JetBlue out of JFK so that you have the whole day to lounge on the beach and relax before your night out on the town! There are three main tourist areas in Aruba. The closest town to the airport is Oranjestad which is more of a commercial downtown area. It is very family friendly with high-end shopping and a great resort called The Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The next area is Eagle Beach which is more serene and quiet, with an adults-only vibe (my personal favorite).
Finally, there’s Palm Beach where all of the high rise hotels are located. The beaches here are a bit more crowded, but you have a lot of bars along the beach and places to do water sports such a parasailing, jet-skiing, and snorkeling. The beaches are public and you can rent lounge chairs for about $5 USD a pop. A bit more inland from here is the town of Noord where I wouldn’t have gone to since it’s away from the beach, but one of my favorite yogi’s, Rachel Brathen, recently opened up her new studio, Island Yoga, and I just had to pay her a visit! Getting around from one area to the next is about a $9 USD cab ride. It’s well worth it and a responsible way to get around after all of those Mango Margaritas!
My boyfriend and I started our vacation in Eagle Beach where we stayed at The Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa (he is really great at planning these things!) The resort has such a friendly and accommodating staff, great ambience, three great restaurants on the premises, and most importantly the bar is a stone’s throw away from the oceanfront. As you arrive you’re greeted with a homemade mojito (very nice touch), you catch a glance of the picturesque palm trees, the mint green water dances in the distance, you hear the waves crash, you feel the perfect Aruban breeze kiss your skin, you plop yourself down on a lounge chair, drink in hand, and ask yourself, “is this paradise?!” After a few cocktails, you jump in water that’s just the right temperature, and then you answer yourself, “yes it is”.
After two days of exploring Eagle and Palm Beaches we headed over to The Renaissance Ocean Suites in Oranjestad. We wanted to get a feel for all of the different areas, but we stayed here mostly because the resort has its own private island where you can hang with flamingos! This was the highlight of the trip for me. They are such beautiful creatures and look a lot like yogi’s doing tree pose. There’s a boat that leaves the resort every 15 minutes from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. and takes you directly to the island in 10 minutes.
The first night we ate barefoot with our toes buried in the sand at Passions on the Beach. They had the most incredible ceviche I’ve ever tasted and a really great wine list. Passions provided a romantic ambience that included tiki torches and a steel drum band playing in the background. Another great place that was recommended to us was Madame Janette: seafood with a french flair. This place is really popular with Americans who frequent the island, so make reservations in advance. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu; just eat to your heart’s desire!
Lastly, Iguana Joe’s was a no frills Aruban staple with lots of Caribbean food options. We enjoyed their jerk chicken skewers, mini Jamaican beef patties, Shrimp Josephine, an award-winning dish, which was served in a coconut cream sauce (to.die.for.) and “the best ribs in the caribbean”! This place was really fun, with a laid back ambience. Don’t forget to order a potion from the “Proceed with Caution” drink menu. These really yummy cocktails are served in half carafe glasses. You will only need one! We got the iguana mama and the lethal lizard. Variety is the spice of life! Don’t you agree? Lastly, grab a bottle of their medium hot sauce as a souvenir for your friends!
I hope this post inspires you to take that island trip you so deserve! If you have any other Aruban go-to’s that I’ve left out, please leave a comment below. I’m already dreaming about my next trip! Where are you headed this year?
2017 is the year of no limits! In the past I’ve held myself back for fear of failure or just intimidation of commitment. This past year has given me the confidence and strength to know that if I put my mind to something I really want, I can accomplish it. So the end of 2016 was very telling for me as I made some of the most important decisions and goals for 2017 within the past 4 months. One is the desire to start this blog. I’ve always loved reading blogs because I feel like a lot of the ones I read are very authentic and give the authors an opportunity to be their true selves to their online community, with or without the judgement that comes with publicly sharing your life. So with all of the judgment, criticism and commitment that comes with writing this blog, I’m ready for it because I am finally at a stage in my life where I am listening to myself and trusting my intuition. I am letting go of a lot of the fear and trying to truly embrace my own skin and my decisions and letting God guide the journey. I hope to document that here for you and create a space where you can come to when you need inspiration or support!
Which brings me to my next big endeavor of 2017 which is… starting my 200 hour yoga teacher training. I have been practicing yoga pretty consistently for over 5 years now and I have always felt my best on my mat. It has not only helped me to feel good about my body, but even better, it clears my mind and opens it up to all the possibilities in life! The decision was not mine alone, it really did come to me by the grace of this universe and trying to open my heart to what was my next move. I was always being asked “when are you going to get your certification?” and told “you should start teaching yoga” and that is all very flattering, but yoga school is not something you do because someone says you should. This decision and commitment has to come from within and because of my passion and desire for more mindfulness in my life. So one of my passions is teaching, and another is helping others feel good about themselves while building each other up. Yoga school seems to be the next step since it was what built me up to become more mind and body centered. It gave me the confidence to push the limits beyond what I think I can do and what I can actually do. Side note: This decision finally came to me while at a leadership training at the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute during one of the last weekends in December of 2016. This training was truly life changing, but more about that in another post.
So taking on the launch of this blog and an intensive yoga teacher training while still working 2 jobs may seem crazy, but it seems right and manageable for me right now as I try to manifest this “no limits” attitude and approach to this one and only life I have. So with that, I challenge you to take on something new, scary, intimidating or simply different. Many times we need that push to grow and to find our true purpose, but if we keep putting off our dreams and goals for another day, that day may never come. And most importantly, do it with a gentle and humble heart. Nothing good will come out of your journey if you don’t welcome the struggle, the hardship and mistakes that come with taking on something new.
Thank you for visiting the blog and reading the very first post right here. I am excited to share this journey with you.Please comment below if you have any intentions or goals you’d like to share. If we share them with others, they become more real and we tend to hold ourselves more accountable. Xoxo Ashley
plural noun: departures
the action of leaving, typically to start a journey.
The past year and a half has been one of many blessings on so many fronts. This latest journey began in the summer of 2015, when by the grace of God I reconnected with a dear friend whom I had not seen for a long time. One day in early summer, Patricia called me out of the blue to hang out at the beach with her, and her sister who was visiting from Brazil. There I came to learn about the struggles that were turning her world upside down. Over the course of the next few months we became a team in a fight to get her back on her feet. We also became determined to reconnect with God, the One who had initially drawn us together as friends when we first met many years prior.
In the previous years I had lost contact with God, my church, my spirituality as well as many of the people and activities that I loved. I had allowed the drudgery of everyday life and the outside world to sweep me up without much regard for others, and myself. Patricia arrived just at the right time with an attitude that filled me with hope, excitement and a sense of purpose.
It was through an online search for a new church that I arrived at AC in early 2016. There I learned about the life group for runners that was just about to begin. I joined without hesitation, and with little knowledge of how much of a blessing this group would become in my life. Running has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid. Initially an activity to keep in shape, it became a haven where I could consolidate my thoughts, clear my mind and expend built up energy. Through this love of running I have met this special group of people whom I now care so much about. Because of these individuals I have a newfound passion for fellowship, spiritual life and above all, God. I have also located the old me, the one who loves to run, play guitar, hike, travel, try awesome foods, and butcher the French language. (I thought I was a huge Francophile till I met Ashley!) In addition, I also found the old me that likes to share life, and be there for those I love.
When my awesome running partner-in-crime, Ashley approached me to join in the launch of this blog, I didn’t know exactly where to begin. What is there to talk about? The truth is that the departure from a past life in the summer of 2015 has allowed me to learn so much about life and about myself. It’s easy to dwell in the past and recount life experiences because of all that one learns through struggle. Yet as I write, I also feel a sense of excitement for what’s in store not only for me, but also for the great people of this life group that I now call family. It’s this excitement and passion for life that I hope to share through this platform in the days to come.
Are you starting a new journey this year? Care to share some comments with us? Add your thoughts below!