- each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, with the fresh yes of an adventurer -

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bellini Birthday Brunch

We are big fans of weekend brunching here in New York. Big fans.

When Caroline decided to celebrate her 26th birthday with a west village brunch at Nero last weekend, there were definitely no complaints.

This place was absolutely adorable! Exposed brick, pretty windows, perfectly cozy atmosphere, unlimited brunchy beverages, what more could you ask for in a birthday gathering?

We had such a perfect day. The snow decided to lay off for a lovely 40 degree weekend. And the afternoon sunlight in Nero was so fantastic that I just couldn't resist a mini photo shoot.

An example of why I cannot purchase expensive sunglasses. I am the worst about breaking, losing, abusing. RIP aviators.

Happy Happy Birthday Caro! Cheers to 26!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Love / Hate

Dear New York,

You are impossible. I hate when my umbrella breaks. But today, oh today, not only did my pretty purple umbrella flip inside out in the wind, but it also snapped in half. That's right. Metal handle. Snapped in half. So that's fun. I hate buying new umbrellas. They never last. I've tried cheap ones, expensive ones, and my personal favorite, the $11 Duane Reade one. Here's the thing New York, umbrellas. always. break. And rain is impossible. Impossible to stay dry, impossible to have presentable hair, impossible to wear good shoes. Ick.

I hate trying to carry groceries home with an umbrella. An umbrella, my purse, my gym bag, my coat AND 3 bags of groceries. But you know what, groceries are necessary. Because if I have to keep ordering in, I'm going to gain 20 lbs and be even more poor than I am now. And then I'll be even angrier.

I hate getting stuck in the rain and not being able to find a cab. Because it always happens that way. I hate wearing layers of warm clothes and a puffy coat to stay warm, trudging to the subway, squeezing into a crowded train and then sweating because of all the layers. I mean, why even try to look good? I despise being late. And it seems like I'm perpetually late. So I hate the trains. Hate waiting on them. Hate the street traffic when I'm just trying to get to work. Or to a Broadway show. Or anywhere really. It takes too long to get anywhere.

I hate that I purchase super cute shoes that I can't live without and after one season have to take them to the shoe doctor for new soles or heels. It's annoying and frustrating. One season shoes? Really New York? Oh! And here's the thing with the shoe doctor, or the dry cleaner, or the tailor, they all seem hold my things hostage. I can never get there before they close to pick anything up. Why?

So you see New York, you are undeniably and dishearteningly impossible. Sometimes I don't even know why I put up with you. Sigh.


Dear New York,

You are perfect for me. You have completely won me over with your charm. You know how I love spending rainy days in bed catching up on my DVR. Or grabbing coffee and a bagel for a rainy day movie. And you know I adore those few short months of gorgeous sunshine when I can spend every weekend playing in Central Park.

I love that I can have groceries / food / treats / drinks delivered to my apartment door at any time of day. Especially when I don't feel like cooking anything. Or just really need a Diet Dr. Pepper. Seriously, a 24 hour store right beneath my apartment? How ever will I live without it?

I love that there are always so many different things to do. Or that I can choose to do nothing at all and be perfectly ok with it. Life here is busy and crazy and sometimes overwhelming. And it absolutely works for me. I love running around the city. Even though I'm usually running late.

You know what else? I am totally ok with not driving. Ever. The subway really is quite convenient, as long as I remember that it sometimes takes longer than 30 minutes to get across the island. And when it's late and I'm tired and I really want to be home quickly, it's kinda great that I can hop in a cab and let someone else drive me.

I love how in a city of 4 million people, I'm always running into someone I know. And it surprises me every time. Oh! And Broadway! Yeah, I can go see a musical or play with super talented performers on any night I want. And that's pretty fantastic. Don't even get me started on the museums and concerts and festivals. New York, you have serious character.

So I guess it's true New York, that you may not be for everyone. But the thing is, I am undeniably and wholeheartedly in love with you. Sometimes I wonder how you continue to surprise me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

two things today

1) A special delivery from Daddy!

Dad made me a Texas Country mix! Complete with cover art and playlist. Perfect timing for the Texas Independence Day concert this weekend! I love his CD's, he makes the best mixes.

sidenote: I actually posted a picture of the package and CD to twitter, and then I realized random people on the internet would know where I work and where my parents live. So visible addresses online, not the best idea. The tweet was immediately deleted.

2) Cutie Postcard + Vintage Stamps from Denver

From Bethany's super adorable sis Stephanie. Naturally it is now being displayed in my cubie for all to know --"She hated to spread gossip"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Year Already?!?

Yes, it's true. Big news.
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of La La La Lauren!

And in true nerdy fashion, I decided to take a quick look at my Google Analytics for the entire year. Wow! No shame in admitting my love for the numbers and details. But really, you'd be surprised at how incredibly fascinating this info is. So naturally, I must share some fun facts!

In the past year, La La La Lauren has had 3,840 total site visits. From 43 different countries! Including - Estonia, Isle of Man and Sri Lanka.

I have regular readers in Canada and the UK. I can see that someone in Kuwait scrolled through 31 different posts in just one 3-minute visit, the most of all the countries.

In the past year, I've had visits from 45 states in the US. New York leads with 1,282 visits. Followed by Texas of course, with 988. I also have a lot of regular readers in Florida and Georgia. Because that's where established blogger besties Angie and Jamie are from.

In New York, most readers are from NYC and surrounding boroughs, 25 cities in total. I've had readers from 56 different cities in Texas, 483 from my home town of Coppell.

Most readers get here directly - either with bookmarks or typing in the address. But a lot of traffic comes from my blogger friends. 360 hits this year from Big Apple Angie. 348 from Lulled by the Train. 206 from Painting the Town Pink. And believe it or not, 385 from iGoogle / Google Reader. So thanks to my Google buddies who still click through!

I find the Google keyword searches to be the most amusing. Most are some form of "la la la lauren." And there are a whole lot of "flirtexting" phrases. Please allow me to share a few of my fave search terms --
"what does oh lala mean in text message"
"why won't lauren fly to ny"

"put your mind to it go for it get down and break a sweat video" - HAH! ohhhh, Zach Morris!
"lauren love nerd pass" - huh??
"cute sayings to ask someone to a dance by carving a pumpkin"
"club worship stripper showboat"
- pretty sure they DIDN'T find what they were looking for here!
"longhorn pumpkin pattern"
"flirty witty banter"
"rules for texting wait boy"
"bethany doherty" - so...I did mention that we are NOT the same, right?

My most read post = "Ohmigod you guys!" A post about BFF Angie and her quest to become the Island Caretaker in Australia. (Wow, was that a full year ago?!?)

The most visits I've had in one day was on March 3rd. And it was the day Angie linked to my "Ohmigod you guys!" post. She's a popular gal! And our "Home." Blog Carnival on November 9th brought the second highest visits in one day. Clearly links from other blogs = more visits. Imagine that.

Oh, and I can even tell if you read from a computer or your phone. 51 visits via iPhone this year. Cool. And 1 visit from a Danger Hiptop in NYC. What's a Danger Hiptop?

Pretty crazy that Google can tell me all of this, right? I can tell how long everyone stays, how many pages they read at a time, if they come back. Again, nerd. I know. And I love it.

Happy One Year Anniversary to my bloggy! Thanks for reading this year, I've really loved writing. And if you're new, stick around. Sometimes I'm funny. And I'm smart too.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Lil Visit to Nittany Lion Country

Welcome to Nittany Country!

Me and co-worker / new friend Sam went to Penn State on Monday! To give a mini-presentation and meet with an advertising class that we're working with this semester. I was pumped to visit the campus and for Sam to show me around her school.

So here's the tricky thing about Penn State, it's in the middle of nowhere. Flights were crazy expensive and required connecting in Philly, trains would take far too long and buses really wouldn't be the most comfortable way to travel for 7 hours.

Sam and I decided that renting a car was the way to go. We could make it in an easy 4 hours, leave the city early Monday and drive back early Tuesday. Perfect.

However, let me be perfectly clear, I don't drive. Or I prefer not to. And I certainly don't drive in the city. So Sam, being the confident 23-year-old that she is, decided to take on the challenge. Even though you need to be 25-years-old to rent a car, I opted out. Young driver's fee. Done. She did know where we were going after all, so surely it wouldn't be terrible.

Hah! I wish I could say it was easy.

Neither of us had any idea how to safely exit the island via vehicle. (um, I rarely leave the island period!) Luckily we maneuvered our way into the Lincoln Tunnel and were feeling incredibly confident. And then we realized we were on toll roads. Crap. "Do you have any cash?" "Um, I have $10 I think, wait, only $2." "exact change only...awesome."

So that was fun.

The drive through Pennsylvania was quite lovely. The snowy weekend left the Poconos covered in a blanket of fluffy white, the rivers frozen and lucky for us, the roads clear. We passed the Delaware Water Gap, what is it? No idea. I was fascinated that there were no towns or cities off I-80. There weren't even any billboards. It was just a long drive through the country. As we got closer to State College there were little farms sprinkled through the valley. So cute! Sam just laughed at my amusement.

State College was absolutely adorable. We walked through the snowy campus in our skirts and heels - obviously overdressed in comparison to the college kids running around in their sweats. Jealous. It's all about first impressions though, so I will rock the heels in snow. Slowly.

There were a few football players in the class we're working with. After our presentation, I got a "Hook 'em Horns" sign thrown from the back of the room. Followed by "so, how about that football game?" WHY, why would you need to bring up that football game?! Clearly it was heartbreaking, weren't you watching? Geez.

We went to the HUB (which is like the student union at UT) for some lunch. Chick-fil-a! Enough said. I was a happy happy girl. Thankfully, Sam wasn't too embarrassed by my urge to take pictures as we walked through campus. :)

Sam took me on a driving tour of State College. They have a residential West Campus, just like we do at UT. It's really adorable. She showed me all the frat houses and the lil houses where students live. Her sorority has a "Senior House" that is ohsocute! She took me to Target, yessss! And finally to the Lion Shrine. Huh? Oh yes, the Lion Shrine. It turned out to be just a statue of a Lion. Kind of like the giant Bevo statue near the Erwin Center. But I guess it's a big deal. So naturally, we took pics. Nittany Lion Love! Yay!
(sidenote: totally loving the new bangs Sam!)

We had a delicious dinner with a few professors on the main strip across from campus. We went to the Ad Club meeting where they were watching all the Super Bowl commercials. Met another professor who oddly enough is good friends with one of my college professors. We watched The Bachelor at the Senior House with a few of Sam's friends, one of them was from Houston!

And then it was morning. And we had to get an early start back to the city. We were tempted to stay. Claim the roads were too bad to get back. Spend the day playing in State College, wishing we were students again. But...we are practical girls and there was work to do back at the office. Meetings to have, emails to send. So after a quick coffee run, we were back on I-80, Manhattan bound. Sigh.

Until May, Penn State! Please be a lil bit warmer and drier when we return!

snow day!

nyc was just like a snow globe today!

and this much snow makes for a funny day.
a few funny outtakes that made me giggle. . .

text from co-worker melissa
Melissa: still going to work today?
LJ: yes yes, have you heard differently?
Melissa: no :( i guess we will go. subway, not bus, right?

sticky notes on my computer from bethany
"I just took a page from your book of Sassiness. And it was MAGICAL! Please come find me for more details. xoxo!"

phone call #1
Mom: what kind of shoes are you wearing in this blizzard?
LJ: rain boots!
Mom: the ones with a hole in them?! lauren!
LJ: what? it's fine! 2 pairs of socks. works just fine.
Mom: just go online right now and buy some new boots like i told you to. you need them now.
LJ: i know, i know...
Mom: fine. i'll buy them and ship them up to you. right now.

phone call #2
Mom: is it still snowing?
LJ: ummm, yes from what i can see from my cubie.
Mom: are they going to close your office early?
LJ: no, i don't think so. we're already here.
Mom: but how will you get home? will the buses be running? what about taxis?
LJ: i'll take the subway mom. it's fine.
Mom: lauren. you can't stay at work till 9 o'clock in the blizzard.
LJ: hahaha! mom. i will not stay till 9 o'clock again. now, i have to go, we ordered lunch for the team...
Mom: ok. go tell them all that your mom is worried about you getting home in the snow so you must leave early.
LJ: oh you know i will.
Mom: you're so mean to me. i'm going to log online and see this conversation on your twitter won't i?
LJ: hah, no no! but don't be surprised when it ends up on my blog. just sayin'.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Treasure Hunting

This weekend I went on a Brooklyn adventure!

Bethany's sister Stephanie was in the city for a weekend visit. (a super chilly weekend I might add!) And they invited me to join them for a trip to the Brooklyn Flea Market. I've heard great things, so I decided to make the cross-borough trek in hopes of finding some flea market treasures!

Once we walked into the lobby of the old Williamsburgh Savings Bank with its marble pillars and arched ceilings, I knew I'd be glad I braved the cold and inconsistent weekend trains to play in Brooklyn.

As I browsed through the piles of old tin ceiling tiles, stacks of classic records and collections of vintage jewelery, I realized that I was blissfully happy.

There was a man who offered us stories about his display of costume earrings. Clip-ons vs. screw-backs. How the sparkly pair we were eying were made with tiny strips of steel. Bethany decided she needed them.

I loved all the vintage pendants. I found myself picking them up at every jewelery table we passed, wondering who had worn these pins? Where had they been? And how did they end up here?

There was a charming old drop-leaf table that I desperately wanted to own...and would own if I had anywhere to actually put it. It would be ohsocute painted yellow. Or red. Sigh.

We stumbled upon a delightful couple from Boston who had quite the collection of vintage luggage. A particularly lovely navy and lavender hard-cased, leather-handled tote held our attention for a good 15 minutes before deciding that Steph had no way to get it back to Denver. And there was a little fold-down writing desk / chest that I absolutely adored. Again, nowhere to put it...and no other rich dark wood in my UES apartment.

In a back room on the top level, we came across a woman who disassembles type writers and sells the keys as charms and rings. I was ohsoexcited to find these 2 in her trays!

And in my flea-market induced happiness, I realized something.

That my appreciation for antique-y treasure hunting is yet another quirk I can attribute to the influence of both my Grandad and my mother.

Browsing in Brooklyn, I found myself remembering all the weekends I spent at First Monday in Canton when I was younger.

For those of you non-Texans who don't know about
First Monday...let me just tell you that it is one of the most well-known and largest outdoor flea markets ever. Held on the first Monday / weekend of every month, naturally.

And my Grandad used to love spending weekends there.

I can't even begin to estimate the number of hours I spent trudging through booths in the suffocating Texas summer sun. I usually couldn't wait to leave. Table after table of useless old stuff didn't quite hold my attention when I was 10 years old. I didn't care where anything came from, I couldn't see the potential in broken furniture or rusty lamps. I clearly took it all for granted.

Seems that this weekend, in my Brooklyn Flea happiness, all those East Texas memories came flooding back.

I remember...
Grandad shifting through boxes of old glass door knobs until he found a few that were just right for his glass doors. How he looked at old chests and tables and clocks. Explaining how he could take them apart, rebuild them, make them new, but keep their character. Because "they don't make things like this anymore."

I remember....
when he found a glass kerosene lamp and converted it into an electrical lamp for my bedside table. And how I'd wanted a vanity in my bedroom. So he found a new mirror for an old vanity that was in his house. I repainted it for my room. Same with my iron and brass bed.

I remember...
In high school when Grandad found me a broken wooden chair for $5 that he fixed. I would later paint, re-cushion and decorate for my desk.

I remember...
Wanting to make a pair of old slatted wooden doors into a shelf. So Grandad did it for me. He bought the doors, knocked out the slats and he made the shelf just as I'd pictured. I'd wanted a headboard made out of old shutters for my college apartment. So he made that for me too.

I remember...
I used to laugh at my Mom, tease her that nothing in her house matched. "What do you mean?! Everything has a story!" was always her response. I don't think I've ever fully grasped how her antique-y, story-telling style has affected me until recently.

I really love that everything in my parent's house has a story. I love that there are so many pieces of furniture and light fixtures there that Grandad found at junk stores, rebuilt or repaired in some way.

Somehow, it's as if those things that fill the house are a reflection of him. A collection of all the things that he enjoyed and wanted to share with us.

It makes me smile now as I realize why I find such happiness in browsing at flea markets -- from uncovering the potential in something old that might be a bit busted up or discovering something unique that no one else could possibly have.

Suddenly it's quite clear that this fascination is a direct influence of my Grandad. His love of the old and broken and charming was never wasted on me.

I guess I forgot how much I love flea markets.
Thanks for the reminder, Brooklyn.