Countdown to Christmas: Wrapping Paper Destination

I hope you've been following along on our Christmas adventure! So far we've touched on My Favorite Things About Christmas (here)!  

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It's always exciting to see the presents under the tree. Anticipating and guessing all month long is both agonizing and fun! I absolutely adore seeing all the different types of wrapping paper and bows and ribbons. It's SO beautiful. The way a gift is wrapped is the first impression your loved ones get-- I like it to be extra nice. I'm going to introduce you to your wrapping paper destination: Papersource!

Many of you probably already know what papersource is. It's a delightful store dedicated to all things paper! Journals, stationary, cards, and -- importantly-- wrapping paper. This store is full of exquisite papers of all textures, colors, and patterns. I visited today in order to find paper for each specific member of my family. They're so unique, so I thought it would be fun to get them each unique wrapping paper! 

You can get rolls of wrapping paper or fine paper by the sheet! 

Once you've carefully selected your perfect paper, it's time to get wrapping. Now would be the time for me to share all my secrets about how to wrap oddly shaped presents, but truth be told I'm still learning how to do this myself. If you have advice, don't hesitate to let me know! Though I can't offer brilliant ways to fold and tape, I can offer a way to add fun to wrapping: music!

Music, in my opinion, is an underrated tool to affect life. I've discovered recently how valuable it can be! When trying to wake up early, I've found that an upbeat playlist can help me get excited to conquer the day. Christmas music something that everyone looks forward to every year. I mean, come on, there's a full out war over when Christmas music should begin. In November? The day after Thanksgiving? December 1st? Whatever side you're on, you can likely agree that the best way to get into the Christmas groove is to groove! 

Here is a list of my top Christmas songs!

  • Carol of the Bells
  • His favorite Christmas Story
  • Blue Christmas
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside
  • The Christmas Song
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

These are just a few of my most played Christmas songs! What seasonal song could you listen to year round?

 

 

 

Countdown to Christmas: Welcome!

Tis the season, folks! This month is special because it puts everyone in a wonderful mood. Family! Food! Festivities! It's divine.

In celebration of this marvelous month and the upcoming holiday season, I wanted to announce a series of blog posts! I'm going to be doing a Countdown to Christmas blogging extravaganza! What does this mean?It means that every blog post from now until December 25th (AKA CHRISTMAS), will be something festive and related to tising the season. Stay tuned for family recipes, Christmas adventures and my favorite things about Christmas

Let's get started!

My Favorite Things About Christmas!

There are so many delightful things about Christmas. Family, friends, food, parties, gifts, giving, shopping etc. Here are my favorite things about Christmas time:

Decorating

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Decorating is a sure way to get you in the Christmas mood. New York City has been decorating since the day after Thanksgiving. It's so fun to see my apartment building, school, and work all fancied up and festive. Every day more and more lights go up and additional touches get added. The city is so beautiful with all the additional lights shining throughout the day! The amount of daylight is much shorter due to the winter. This is the perfect way to brighten up the cold winter days!

Holiday Treats

It's a guarantee that the holidays will bring bunches of yummy treats! Have you ever had Christmas fudge? Or Santa shaped sugar cookies? What could possibly be better? I simply adore the festive food that occurs during December. Shake Shack is offering a variety of seasonal shakes! My current favorite is the sugar cookie shake! Yum!

The First Snow

We had our first New York snow on Sunday! How exciting! The first one is always great ESPECIALLY if it's close to the Christmas season. The first  is nice because it's fresh and new and marks a change! It's magical. However, after the first one I tend to prefer snowflakes like above. ;)

Christmas Movies!

During this break, I want to watch a bunch of Christmas movies to keep me in the spirit. As I've grown up and moved closer to being an adult, I've started to feel like the Christmas spirit can come and go too quickly if you aren't being careful. I plan to hold on to that pure seasonal joy and merriment as long as I can! Be on the lookout for a guide to Holiday Movies!

Christmas Music

This is my favorite way to start feeling Christmasy. Music! There are so many great versions of Christmas songs-- enough for every music lover's specific taste. A perk of this time of year is that everyone knows the words to the same songs! It's a great way to connect with others. There's a precious commercial for Apple (this is not a sponsor of affiliate link or anything) that involves people knowing the words to a Christmas song and it bringing the town together. Check it out:

I hope this post helps you to embrace the Christmas spirit a little bit more! Check back here every day until Christmas! We can count down the days together.

 

 

 

HOW TO: Exude Gratitude

 

Thanksgiving is an especially important holiday in my life! This is due to several reasons. 1. It marks the first time during the school year that I have enough time off to run home and see my family. 2. Home cooked food is worth any journey even if it's a 2300 mile journey. 3. Gratitude has become a HUGE factor in my life over the past year.

Why is gratitude important? I've been researching into positive thinking, how to change and improve your life, how to be more productive, and how to be happier. What do all of these topics mention? Gratitude. It's a leading force in becoming a better person mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. How can you get anywhere if you don't appreciate where you are right now? The fact that you are reading this already implies numerous reasons to be grateful. You have eyes, internet, computer access, electricity, and you're literate. Right there you're better off than a whole bunch of people in this world. 

Can you be grateful even though you want to improve your life? YES. My life is loaded with things I should and do appreciate. Yet, I'm still working daily to get where I want to be in life. I'm grateful for everything that's helping me reach my goals. I'm thankful for my voice lessons, dance lessons, living situation, school, the funds that help me afford the previous things, nourishment, books that inspire and teach me how to set goals or change habits, the people in my life who support me, sleep and a job-- to name a few. Yet, I am restless to keep growing and moving forward. That doesn't make me ungrateful. I'm not trying to improve my life because I don't value it-- I'm doing it because I value it. Kapish?

The habit of gratitude affects your entire mindset, which in turn affects your entire life. When I walk to school, I'm especially conscious of exuding gratitude. It's way too easy to fall into a negative pit about not getting enough sleep, waking up early, not feeling entirely prepared, running a bit late etc. into a downward spiral of thanklessness. So, on my commute to school I make it a priority to notice the beauty of everything around me. There's an energy that goes along with this appreciation of your life that impacts every decision, thought, and interaction you have. For me, it's a tangible energy I can feel inside my chest and stomach-- a genuine excitement for what will happen next. It's a wonderful feeling.

I've been working over the past year to incorporate more gratitude into my life. Here are my favorite ways to exude gratitude.

1. Gratitude Journal

This is without a doubt my favorite way to be thankful. My mom has been suggesting a gratitude journal for years, but I never really gave it a chance. Last February, I let stress take me into a negative tail spin. When asking my mom for advice on how to stop, she mentioned the gratitude journal again. That was February 1st, 2016 and I have been writing in it ever since. This was key in becoming a more positive person. A gratitude journal is an easy way to remember how much you have to appreciate. Simply put, at the end of the day you write down three things you're grateful for. Mind you, this can be as little as your favorite key chain or as big as a promotion or your spouse. I keep my gratitude journal beside my bed because it's a good way to end the day. 

2. Thank you

Adding this phrase to your vocabulary is another simple way to increase gratitude. For me, I use "thank you" as a type of affirmation. I repeat "thank you" in my mind hundreds of times a day. It keeps me in the right mental place-- one of gratitude and excitement-- and instantly boosts my mood. I repeat it whether something good, bad or neutral happens. It helps me to stay focused, appreciative and ready.

3. Thank you notes

Thank you notes used to be a matter of manners. I know that my parents were both brought up knowing that these were mandatory after an event or holiday. Today, it's less of a rule. But who doesn't love mail and being appreciated for something they did? If someone takes the time to invite you to an event they've planned, send them a thank you note. If a person goes out of their way to get something for your birthday or Christmas, thank them. Trust me, it will make both of you feel good! There's nothing wrong with adding more good vibes to the world. 

4. I Have:

This is a trick for when you're feeling especially down. On those off days when I'm having a rough time finding it in me to be grateful, I make a list of absolutely everything I have; a home, dogs, pencils, shampoo, warm clothes, coffee, teeth-- I continue on like this until it drags me out of my "I don't have xyz" mindset. It's incredibly effective. Have you ever stopped to realize just how much you do have? It kind of makes that one thing you don't have much less significant.

Gratitude is helping me to fall madly in love with my life. It's amazing how much your mind and outlook can change by just taking the time to notice everything that's going well for you.

I hope today was an exceptionally good day for you and your families! Thank you for reading this post! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

November: an update!

How fast did October and November fly by? I wanted to catch up on what's been going on in my life lately!

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I am proud to announce that I am employed! I currently work at an Irish Pub in the Times Square area. For the past month I've been figuring out how to balance work, school, and play. It's been quite the adjustment-- but I am enjoying it greatly! I absolutely adore getting to meet, greet and seat people every day! I love my coworkers. They are a bunch of hard working people who know how to make the most out of every day. All of our patrons are delightful, too. I've met people from every part of the globe. I love hearing about people's lives and the way that their country differs from mine. I've mentioned to several people this week that I like to entertain the idea of getting to meet every person in the world. I really do. (Of course, on a rational level, I realize that this is impossible.) I'm such a people person that the ability to affect that many people-- for even a few minutes-- gives me pure delight. Being a hostess is such a satisfying experience for an extrovert like me. It exercises me socially and challenges me on an intellectual level too. Figuring out where to put people, negotiating seating arrangements and reservations, all while keeping up a positive, happy attitude is more demanding than you think. However, when you successfully beat the mathematical puzzle, it's quite pleasing. 

It's also exciting to work in the hub of theatrical activity. We serve people who are working in all aspects of the industry. Getting to hear experiences from all angles of the profession is interesting! It's also neat to talk to people on a human level-- instead of as a fan at a stage door. I like the variety of personalities too. It's just fun. P.S. When the families of actors come in, it's absolutely heartwarming. They are so excited and I just love it!

It's inspiring to meet the people who are doing what I want to do. 

This month marked a semester change for me! I finished my 12 week semester and began my four week semester last week. I'm taking an elective-- musical theatre. I've had three classes so far and it is divine. I'm with twelve other people who are ecstatic to be singing and dancing again. So far we've learned the music for our mini show-- The Secret Garden and began learning choreography to a song from Cabaret. We've focused on how to tell stories, and what the most important part of this story is. I'm also taking a styles acting class, a stage combat class and a camera audition technique class. We have fewer classes per week to start getting us adjusted to having a professional routine. For example, am I sleeping in til noon, taking four hours to get ready and then going to class? Or am I waking up and doing things that will help my career? I haven't solidified my routine but I love that we're being encouraged to do so. It makes getting out in the real world-- IN T MINUS FIVE MONTHS-- not quite so scary. It will be an easier transition, rather than an abrupt stop in one routine and a scurry to being a new one.

I'm very happy with where my life is right now. I feel that I'm growing the way that I need to in many areas. I think I'm growing up too. I see my family for a quick holiday over the weekend. This week is busy, so Thursday will come fast. 

I have some exciting things planned for the rest of this month and December. Stay tuned! 

 

 

DOGS IN COSTUMES. DO I NEED TO SAY MORE?

It's my favorite time of the year! Halloween you might think? Nope. It's time for the Tompkins Square Hollow Dog Parade. Yes, that's exactly what you think it is. An entire parade and event dedicated to hundreds of dogs in costumes. While October may be about trick or treating, this entire post is a treat from me to you.

On Saturday, I got to pet a bunch of dogs and my heart has never been happier. All these dogs strutting their stuff made me smile so much that my face hurt. I hope these fierce fidos brighten your day!!

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I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the dog costume parade.  Dogs and creativity all in one location? I couldn't imagine a happier place.

Reason Having Your Mom In Town Rocks

As you know, my mother was in town! We've had a really busy couple of days filled with exploring the city, good meals, and lovely adventures.

1. Good Food

Parent visits are the absolute best when it comes to food. While you may be okay eating spaghettios and poptarts, I can guarantee that your parents won't be as impressed. SO, parent visits definitely include eating at yummy restaurants. 

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My mom and I hit all the good spots! We went to Murray Hill Diner, Shake Shack, Junior's, and Eataly, Butterup Bake Shop, Magnolia Bakery. Oh my goodness the food that we've eaten has been over the moon good. 

2. Spoiled.

Parents are the best as far as pampering goes! It's really nice be able to get another bottle of makeup remover or new boots when you need them. Parents kind of lend a hand to that department. 

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My mom and I went shopping for things I needed around the house (paper towels, loofa, batteries, cups) as well as some winter gear! I ended up with cute fringe boots and coat from TJ Maxx. 

3. Company

Your mom gets you. The majority of the beliefs you have you have because your parents raised you.

Though I absolutely adore the diversity of New York, it's really fun being around my mom who is on the same page as me. This visit we would catch ourselves saying things at the same time-- about the same things. It was so weird! Also, a definite perk is how far back your jokes go. Little things that would happen would spark memories of silly things that occured when I was a lot younger-- and my mom would know exactly what I was talking about. We still cringe whenever the Creme Brule incident of 2007 is brought up.

4. Homecooked meals and really good coffee.

This is one is the BEST. If you're lucky enough to have the parent who usually cooks for you come visit, you can absolutely expect a home cooked meal.

My mom makes the BEST coffee and dinners. Though I try to copy her recipes hers are infinitely better when she makes them. I got to have Beef Stew this trip and really good coffee every morning thanks to her. What's better?

5. You can share TV shows togethers

When you grow up watching similar TV to your parents, you're probably going to develop similar taste to them. 

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My mom and I watch all sorts of shows together. Law and Order, Gilmore Girls, Blue Bloods, and for this visit: West Wing! I'm in Season 5 and LOVING it. My mom's seen the show so she doesn't mind hopping in wherever. It was fun to be able to come home after a long day, prop our feet up, and watch West Wing, 

6. You get to do all the touristy stuff 

This one is my favorite. The rest of the year I scoff at tourists who are taking pictures of themselves in front of landmarks. But for the week that one of my parents is in town, I enjoy the city as if it was a visit for me too.

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My mom has a huge appreciation for Art Deco architecture. I'm talking about the Empire State Building and the Chrysler building type of look. It's so easy to fall in love with the city again while watching someone else enjoy it. 

I really enjoyed having my mom in town! I hope this article helps you enjoy your visits with your parents in the future. 

 

The Harman Women are Reunited!

My mom is here! I've been super lucky this school year with visits from both parents so far! Yay! I prefer family to come when I have days off so that I can spend as much time as possible with them! My dad came for a 3 day weekend last month, and this month my mom made the trip out for the 5 day weekend! (I have two days off school for faculty evaluation days, and then Columbus day!)

My mom flew in yesterday. So today begins our fun and long weekend! As I've said before, a parental visit means you're going to eat very well-- I've already started planning exactly where to eat. This visit also includes a mission: find fall/winter boots and coats. We're going to be thrifting and hitting all our favorite designer discount stores (I'm looking at you, TJ Maxx.) And of course, Lord and Taylor! I have found some of the best sales rack items at L&T. Things that I wear all the time and absolutely adore. It's such a treat to get to wander around this magnificent store. 

I love shopping with my mom. As I've grown up, I've noticed our tastes becoming increasingly similar-- or rather my taste converting to be more like hers. My mom has this weird knack to like styles before they become the rage. I cannot tell you how many pieces of clothing I own because my mom insisted a few years ago I buy them-- that I now wear all the time because I realized that they are totally cute and in style. It's so fun! 

I'm excited for what the next week (ish) has to bring. I am super ready for delicious meals and excellent company. We will for sure be hitting our 10,000 steps this visit! I can't wait! Here are just some of the things we are going to try to do!

HARMAN WOMEN TO DO LIST:

FOOD:
-Murray Hill Diner
-Eataly meal AND gelato
-The Rock Cafe
-Whole Foods
-Shake Shack
-Cupcakes

 

FUN:
-Guggenheim
-Dillon's Candy Bar
-Lord and Taylor
-Broadway Show!
-Coat and Boot Shopping
-The Strand

I'm so excited to play around the city with my mom! I'll let you know all about it in a few days!

How to: Guarantee a good weekend

Last week, I celebrated 365 days of living in New York City. In honor of that particular anniversary, I'd like to share some advice that I've learned about having fun in such a busy city. 

For most students and employed individuals, weekends are the only free time you have run around the city. It is absolutely essential to know how to rock your weekend. So, without further ado:

1. Share it with a cool human.

While you could totally go on an adventure by yourself, it's always more fun to share! PLUS, you have someone to take your picture/ pictures with so that you don't look lonely. Sharing is caring, people! Grab someone you like, appoint them your adventure buddy, and start your fun weekend! Russell is my go to! 

2. Adventure is mandatory-- nature is a plus!

New York City offers so many interesting places to explore. . So grab your adventure buddy and go find some place you've never been before. I highly suggest some place that has nature and the ability to always discover more. This city is special because you can pretty much always be outside. Try it, it's pretty fun.

 For my adventure, I went to Coney Island, specifically the beach surrounding it-- which was so fun! I loved being in the water again. I've always loved the ocean. Maybe it's because I'm a Picses? Or a California baby? It was a lot of fun! P.S. Isn't it weird how everyone pretends no one else exists when they're at the beach? Have you noticed how there is a sort of unspoken agreement to share the space but completely ignore everyone? 

3. Food is the way to the heart-- so food or a meal is a good plus.

Your spectacular weekend has to include sustenance! New York has something like 24,000 restaurants?  I'm sure you can find somewhere fun and exciting with yummy food. If you're looking for suggestions, head on over to Nominations, where I list some of favorite spots. If you're not into the restaurant eating out scene a.k.a. trying to save money (I get it) pack a picnic and find a great place to enjoy (see number 1.)

My adventure included a trip to Brooklyn for Not Ray's Pizza. SO good and yummy. The name is so funny too!

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4. Discover a new place

This is so important. Discover is the key word here. Don't plan out that you're going to happen upon Little Italy (or do, it's your adventure.) Finding things is so fun! It's unexpected.

I would never have expected to find this cute little library, but we did! I thought it was so intriguing.

5. Find something beautiful

It can be anything! I really love seeing dogs and cacti. New York has so many beautiful things happening all at once. There are people rocking some of the most stylish outfits you can find, beautiful buildings with art deco architecture, restaurants with lights and all sorts of things. Focus on the good around you. It will make your weekend, and your life, a whole lot better.

I found this little garden store with a bunch of potted cacti while on a run! I love the color and the idea of something being so pretty but also strong enough to defend itself from pretty much anything. 

 

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Thanks, Dad!

As you know, my dad took advantage of Labor Day weekend in order to come and visit me! Last post was all about the delightful food we ate. Well, this post is about all the fun things we did in between meals! Prepare for a bunch of pictures (:

My dad got in Friday! We didn't do a lot because we were both exhausted from a week of work and school. We had a quick meal out then walked around before ending up at my apartment and watching West Wing. If you haven't seen it, hop on Netflix and check it out. My parents watched it when I was young so it's kind of fun that I'm watching it now. The writing is so smart and engaging. It's just a really good experience.

Saturday was a rather touristy day. Yes, it involved fighting the hordes of people in Times Square but I was trying to be positive. I do, believe it or not, realize that this is incredibly exciting and awesome for a lot of people and they deserve to be there as much as I do. Positivity and perseverance got me through. We decided to hit a Broadway show! We went to see Phantom of the Opera. It was so exciting to hear songs that are universally known. I sat next to this hysterical woman who was visiting from the D.C. area. She was so funny and spent the time before googling the show and announcing what was going to happen in this one and the sequel. She was a hoot! There were some guys sitting a couple rows behind us who announced at the end of the show that "it wasn't as good as a football game, but pretty good." I guess all of us liked it pretty well, I know my dad and I did!

The rest of Saturday was spent eating good food (of course) and finding a monologue for one of my classes. The goal was to find something that night in order to reach memorization goals comfortably. A good amount of time was spent looking through the theatre section at The Strand-- an awesome bookstore near Union Square. Russell and I went through a bunch of plays while my dad wandered the store. It's always a bit overwhelming to be surrounded by so many books about so many different topics. I found a monologue AND introduced my dad to a must see while visiting-- score!

In my section, when some of the international kids talk about travelling, they say that they always visit at least one church on their trip. It connects them to the beliefs and history of the area. The fact that churches are usually beautiful is pretty cool too. On Sunday, we visited St. Patrick's Cathedral! It was awe-inspiring. The stained glass windows are magnificent. It was a really neat experience getting to see this massive church with so much history. 

After visiting St. Patrick's, we went to the Rockefeller and then ambled back to my apartment. It was fun seeing the "other side" of Grand Central Station. It was even more fun that it was all lit up and pretty. That's one thing that I love about New York. The buildings are breath taking, especially at night. I can always count on the Chrysler and the Empire State to be beautiful and light up the night. Apparently, I can add this one to the list!

Parent visits are always fun. There's something so exciting about getting to share your city and life with someone else. I loved showing my dad around this weekend. This city is phenomenal. Having a fresh face here kind of makes you realize how much you take for granted. Well, last weekend I didn't. I enjoyed every moment.

Thanks Dad!

 

FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

At my school, whenever someone announces that their parents are coming everyone goes: "You're going to eat SO well." With my dad in town, I can safely tell you that we ate some of the most delicious food I have ever consumed EVER.

We went to Murray Hill Diner (my go to diner, you'll hear about it soon.) I love this place and go at least once a week. The people who run and work at the the restaurant are some of the kindest, most welcoming people I've ever met. I would go and pay just to keep them company. The fact that the food is delicious a perk though. 

We also visited Vynl (read about my first time here) and I tried something new and crazy called Elvis' Revenge. My server described it as a "heart attack on a plate." Basically, it's the spin on the ever popular Elvis deep fried pb and j with banana. It's peanut butter, topped with nuts (don't panic, Russell wasn't with me), tempura bananas, billionaire bacon (brown sugar and black pepper coated) on brioche. It was crazy good!

Every restaurant we went to I had been to before-- except Pershing Square. Here I tried excellent toast with avocado, riccotta salata, and hard boiled eggs. If you've ever been to Grand Central Station, you'll recognize this as the restaurant that's under the bridge right out front. It was really delightful! 

I introduced my Dad and Russell to the Rock Center Cafe-- which is where my mom and I celebrated my birthday last year. It's a little more fun in the winter because you get to dine while watching the ice skaters and see the giant tree. This visit consisted of people watching while eating caprese pasta (me), chicken milanese (my dad), or a bacon aoili hamburger (Russell). Dessert was pretty dandy too! Sorbet or icecream, anyone?

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 I introduced my Dad to Eataly and it was phenomenal. The gnocchi and salad we had was delightful. I texted my mother after my meal and said "If I could marry that balsamic vinegar, I would." Seriously people. If you need to bribe me for anything, find this balsamic vinegar and bring it to me. We even visited again! Once for lunch (a margarita pizza and penne with a lemon, scallion and white wine sauce) and again for gelato. I got tiramisu gelato and it was to DIE for.

You know what was the best part about all of these restaurants is? Besides the outstanding service and delightful food? Every restaurant I visited was extremely careful and helpful in making sure we avoided our allergies. Combined, my dad and I are allergic to a whole slew of things. All of the places we visited were hyper vigilant about our safety. That alone would make me come back. That is the kind of restaurant that sets itself apart from others. 

My dad is always astounded that we can find so many places to eat. The fact that there are hundreds of restaurants within very short walking distance is kind of a treat! Coming from Utah, there isn't the same amount of food diversity that this marvelous city offers (ask my mom). My uncle, last summer, said something to the effect of: "New York city is special because you can get all sorts of fusion options. you could get Alaskan Italian fusion-- spaghetti and whale meatballs!"

While I would be skeptical of Alaskan Italian, I can admit that this city offers wonderful choices when it comes to nourishment. You know the kind of food that makes you want to be alive? The kind that makes you salivate just thinking about it? I'm talking instagram worthy food. That's the kind I've eaten during my Dad's trip! My tummy and I are very happy that he figured out how to get some vacation time. I'm really grateful for the time I got to spend with my dad this weekend. And, though I don't personally labor, I do realize that all of his hard work is allowing me to pursue my dreams in such a goal-oriented city. This Labor Day, be sure to be grateful to those who are working so hard to help you live a good life. 

Here's my cute dad at Shake Shack -- an absolute must of any New York trip.

I had a really lovely time running around with my dad this weekend! We had a bunch of excellent food and even more quality father daughter bonding time. It was a fun experience just having my dad with me! Usually it's a whole family entourage-- which is cool-- but it was fun just the two of us. 

Check back Thursday for a post outlining what we did that wasn't food related!

 

 

 

Good Vibrations

This week brought news of the death of Gene Wilder, which is an especially huge loss in the theatre community. I think it’s really special that he affected so many people. It’s wonderful that an actor was able to share his talent with such a wide range of ages—EVERYONE knows who Gene Wilder is.  A few weeks ago Russell told me about an interview he saw when Gene Wilder was discussing Willy Wonka and his very specific request in order to accept the role. You can check out the link below or here

There has been a lot of unhappiness and anger filling the world lately. Lots of news involving horrible things. I used to have a news app on my phone that would keep me in touch with what was happening by sending me “Breaking News Updates.” I could get these as many as 10 times a day. It was always something devastating and disturbing. It got to the point where I felt unworthy of having a good day because somewhere something bad was happening—which is a debate for another time. I decided to choose when I was updated on world events rather than be at the mercy of an app that updates you whenever it decides to.

The point of this is not to depress you, or cause you to run to the hills in order to get away from all the negativity in the world. The point is this:

Social media can be a place of extreme negativity. However, it can also be a huge force of positivity. I want this website to be a place of positivity. I love sharing my experiences and adventures! Anyone who knows me well enough to have received the tale of my dance company photo shoot in the Great Salt Lake, my evading the fire department story (I AM NOT A CRIMINAL—it’s a funny story I SWEAR), or the chess scandal of 2016 story knows that sharing exciting stories and events is one of my favorite things to do. I want to share all these funny or exciting things with other people. My goal is to help someone somewhere have a happier day. Imagine how wonderful our world would be if everyone took the time to spread positivity.

In my career prep class, we were asked what inanimate object we thought described us. I said this: I would be an umbrella. I seem small at first, but I can suddenly become a lot to take in! Plus, I’ll brighten your rainy day. 

Well, today it rained. I’m here to brighten your day up with a blog post full of pictures and good vibes. 

I’ve been on a huge positivity kick since the summer. I’ve been reading everything I can find about it and I love it! Through learning to be grateful for almost everything and adjusting the way I view situations has allowed me to become a better, happier, much higher energy person. I think that’s pretty dandy. 

Blogging is special because it’s kind of a preview into how my mind works. Since I’ve been working so hard to be positive, it only makes sense that this blog would be a reflection of that. I promise that this blog will be a place of happiness and appreciation for this wonderful city that I live in.

New York City can be viewed as a potentially cruel place. However, running around recently, I’ve noticed a lot of happy, positive signs all over the place. I think it’s really nice. I love signs that brighten up your day—you can’t stay grumpy if you see a happy or funny quote on a sign. 

I’m interested in maybe adding even more of a positivity thing to the blog! Maybe at the end of each week or month I’ll do a post about things I loved for that particular amount of time. If I had to do one today, I’d talk about this really pretty green velvet backpack I saw. Or how I discovered coffee carts are kind of awesome. It’s the little things guys.

My dad comes tomorrow! We’re going to have a fun (probably touristy) weekend together! Expect a blog post Monday! 

Spread some positivity today.

Section, Schedule, and School Love

It’s been a stellar first two weeks of second year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I touched briefly on it last week, but since then I’ve gotten my schedule, section, and teacher assignments.

I am honestly so blessed. 

I cannot tell you how much I love my section! At AADA you’re divided up into either 14 person or 16 person sections. Each section has every single class together. Basically, you get the lovely gift of having 13 or 15 new best friends. Honestly, the people in my section inspire me. They are some of the sweetest, most genuine, and welcoming people I have ever met. What’s even better is that there is a clear commitment and agreement that this section is going to work incredibly hard— you can tell by the way everyone is early and prepared every single day-- and that’s awesome. The final two kids from my section came this week! It's great to have our entire section in one place happy, safe, and working very hard. 

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I finally met all of my instructors! Last week, due to a wonky schedule change that turned our Wedneday into a Monday schedule, I didn't get to meet my camera and career prep teachers. Now, I have! All of my teachers are stellar and are obviously experts, but on top of that, the way they are teaching me makes SENSE. I can follow and understand what's happening (so far) and that's really helpful to me. 

My schedule is great. I'm pretty lucky because it meshes well with my sleep schedule. I’ve been getting up earlier in order to have a calm start to the day. I’ve found that I like at least an additional hour every morning to properly prepare my body and voice for the day. Other than that, I have breakfast, a coffee ritual, and homework time in the mornings. 

P.S. I think there's something magical about the hours before 7am. It's just really cool to be up and working on stuff you love/ getting ready to do something you love while a lot of people are still sleeping.

I wish you got to hang out with these funny people for 28 hours a week ( I think I did that math right?? AADA doesn't offer a math class, so my skills might be slipping.) But seriously, I would brag about these people to anyone.

These first couple weeks have made me so excited for what’s to come. I get happy just walking to school each morning. 

Head on over to paparazzi for some new photos! 

Rainy Days and Strange Eye Things

As promised, the weekend brought an adventure! Saturday and Sunday morning were full of cleaning, homework and recovery from workouts earlier in the week. Sunday afternoon Russell and I decided to check out the area down town ish. All we had to do was take the subway to Canal St. We did some wandering around and found some really interesting buildings and sites. It was a lot of fun, and the wind and rain storm didn't stop us. It actually was a refreshing change to the hot couple of weeks we had.

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I was slightly nervous to go to this area because I've seen multiple Law and Order episodes take place here. (Yes, I know I shouldn't base my life off TV). It was actually pretty relaxed and peaceful. I felt totally safe to explore even though I didn't know the area. So, moral of the story: New York City does not equal Law and Order-- still be smart though. 

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I have an assignment in one of my classes that involves noticing the beauty of the world that immediately surrounds you. Actually, everything I've ever read about becoming a more positive person mentions some form of this. You have to focus on the good instead of the bad. I've been working this summer on becoming a person who functions at a higher energy level-- away from negativity, self-doubt, and other nasty feelings. This outing represented the perfect way to put that into play. 

Instead of getting potentially bummed out that it was raining and windy, I noticed this cute blue light post. It really brightened up the day (and the night? Haha sorry.)

This light post was outside of a pretty church.

THIS IS SO FREAKY.

THIS IS SO FREAKY.

Our trip took a weird turn as we walked toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Russell and I were in a park, trying to take cool pictures of ourselves (for this blog, duh) and I couldn't figure out why I looked so strange. When I zoomed in on my face, I noticed one of my pupils was the size of a quarter and the other was as small as a pencil eraser. It was freaky, and something was definitely off, so we went to the closest urgent clinic to get to the bottom of things. 

Can I just say how trippy it is to see your eyes look like this? It wasn't scary, just really wonky looking. It gives you an automatic creepy factor.

Russell, in between freaking out about my head and eye, kept mentioning how much I looked like a robot. I think that was an attempt at being supportive.

It ended up not being that serious at all-- a reaction to allergy drops I'd used earlier was causing dilation in the eye.

I want to write and say this: if something is wrong GET IT CHECKED OUT BY SOMEONE LEGIT. A weird dilated pupil could signal anything-- as minor as a weird side effect off eye drops or something more serious like a concussion or other head problem. I was super lucky; the dilation went down in my eye by the next morning. Figuring out what happened and making sure it wasn't serious was worth the time.

On a slightly lighter note, I had yummy food yesterday! On the way back home, we stopped off at New York Burger Co. for a bit of a treat to celebrate that everything was totally fine. My burger and fries were under seven dollars and tasted great. A cool thing about the restaurant was the addition of a sauce bar! All the usual contenders were there (ketchup, mustard, siracha) PLUS basil pesto and a variety of other gourmet sounding sauces. It was just a really quality way to take a break from the rain! 

I hope everyone's Monday is going well! It was really lovely weather in the city today.

Have a good night!

The "I Live Here" Reputation-- and when it's okay to break it.

I've been running around New York City for the past week or so acting like a tourist. I've actually stopped my commute to wherever I was going in order to take a picture of a landmark. This is really out of character, considering I'm usually the one rolling my eyes when a tourist stops right in front of me to take a picture of a something or ogle at a pigeon. 

It's actually been a pretty rewarding and eye opening experience.

New York City is beautiful. It has some amazing architecture, especially some art deco type things that I really like. I wanted to post to share some of the beauty I've experienced the past days that made me stop and whip out my phone the same as every other toursit around me. I get a free pass to take pictures for like the first two weeks-- right?

Those are just two of the places that I thought were stunning enough to risk my "I live here" reputation in order to snap a quick picture. In fact, the one right above was taken on Park Ave when I was there a few days ago. (If you want to know more about why I love Park.... look here)

I'm almost positive my first weekend here with Russell will bring some sort of adventure that's picture (and maybe even post) worthy. Until then, have a really stellar weekend!!

 

Partial to Park Avenue

Yesterday was the first day of school! It really was inspiring and exciting.  It's good to be back with everyone! The start of the day consisted mostly of filling out paper work for registration and making sure that all our funds were in order.  then we finished the day with a welcome and a faculty panel that detailed what's expected of us this year. I'm ready to work harder than I ever have before. I want to know what that's like. Last year, I definitely worked hard. This year, bringing more expectations and rigor, I want to surpass that and really develop even stronger discipline.

This year, I have no excuses. I have my own place where I can practice any time I want. There is no reason that I can't do everything that's expected of me and more. 

That being said, I am still in love with the city! It's so good to be back.  Russell flew in on Sunday! To celebrate, we went out to eat at Big Daddy's (check out my post here). The walk there reminded me of how much I love Park Avenue. 

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Park Avenue is my favorite street in New York City. It's full of beautiful buildings, diverse restaurants, and classy shops. You can amble all the way up to Grand Central Station or walk down town to grab a funky bite to eat downtown. I can't help but get absolutely giddy whenever I walk along Park. I used to be partial to Madison Ave- home to Madison Square Park and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. That was until I wandered along Park Ave at night. It's full of light from signs, streetlights and taxis that zoom uptown and downtown. This was the first street I discovered that ran two ways! (Most streets on Manhattan are oneway. Super nice for pedestrians, not so much for cars.) It's just as beautiful in the daylight! Enjoy a sunny day with bits of shade coming from the apartment awnings. On some parts, there's even enough room in the median to have a pretty luscious section of plants. It's absolute perfection.  When I think New York, I can't help but think of my complete adoration of Park Ave. 

My Favorite Letters are A and C.... or just AC

I’m back in my apartment! It’s been a crazy couple of days trying to move everything in and get situated. My mom and I have done a bunch.  My apartment is nearly done. We are awaiting a bookcase that will pretty much be the finishing touch! 

Side note: If you think you can get away without air conditioning in order to save money, I discourage it. SERIOUSLY. With that naïve thinking, I spent the first 24 hours in my apartment sweating and miserable and not sleeping because it was SO HOT. I’m talking heat advisory hot. We got up the next morning (Wednesday), felt disgusting, and trekked to Home Depot. There, a very nice man helped us find everything we needed in order to install an AC unit. After that, shout out to my super, it was installed the same day. Woohoo!

I'm  proud to announce I installed my Wi-Fi all by myself! We’ve been without for a few days and it’s been a little tricky. I know, total “first world” problem. But, it’s nice to be able to catch up on Team USA after two whole days of Olympic deprivation. 
 

It has been an extremely busy couple of days.

We have got a LOT of stuff done. There were a ton of errands to run and a to do list that kept getting longer. It’s Thursday, we’ve been here since Tuesday night, and I’m happy to report we have gotten almost everything done! We have a few little things to grab here and there and we have to get groceries. P.S. I’m totally excited to visit the new Trader Joes! 

I have always visited New York City with my mom. Ever since my first visit as a tour with my high school theatre and dance company, we’ve had traditions that we do whenever we are in the city together. More develop every time she’s here with me. Here are a few:

Our biggest, most established tradition dates back to our very first visit to New York City. We will always, and I mean ALWAYS, go to Dean and DeLuca for a croissant with butter and a drink of some sort. We are delighted every time we go because everything is SO yummy. 

A newer tradition involves going to Eataly! I only just recently discovered that Eataly was more than just a gelato shop. Turns out, it’s a full-fledged grocery complete with multiple restaurants inside, numerous aisles containing almost any food you could want. We tend to eat before we shop—good advice for anyone anywhere. After we shop, we run home to make some sort of asta that we’ve bought for dinner that night.

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Lord and Taylor is another mandatory visit. It’s one of my favorite places to shop—though usually I look around more than I actually buy. It has some extremely expensive items, but if you’re willing to dig a little, you can find some great price reductions on some very quality items! It’s a total playdate going in and looking at everything. It’s beautiful, and so exciting. Plus, if you go at Christmas time it is unbelievable! They have killer Christmas displays in the windows plus a really nice light display outside. 

Our last tradition includes Cheesecake at Junior’s. There’s a huge debate about whether Carnegie Deli’s (where Bob Fosse spent LOTS of time) or Junior’s cheesecake is better. Try both, TRUST ME, try both. However, our tradition involves Junior’s so I’ll stick to that. We haven’t had a chance to get there yet, and since there’s a thunderstorm happening currently, I probably won't be able to get there today.

It’s been a lovely first couple of day here! Nothing short of absolutely delightful. It’s been hot, really hot, but we’re making due. We’ve seen some lovely sites, but I agree with my mom who said that the best view of New York so far was the A/C.

Now, I’m going to go enjoy some chicken rosemary pasta from Eataly. The next time you’ll hear from me it will be my first day of second year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts!

Life Lessons: First Year in the 212

In honor of the fact that I return to New York City tomorrow, I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned at acting school my first year! Even if you’re not on a theatre track, these can totally apply to any major or lifestyle. 

All black and fly knits. 

All black and fly knits. 

1.    Black is the new black. 
There will never be a new black. At my school, you wear all black for multiple classes for various reasons. You learn very quickly how to improve a black outfit. At this point, black can be casual or dressy, sometimes you can even tweak the casual to be fancy or vice versa. I’ve gotten so used to black! I wore it even when I flew home for the summer. After a while, it just feels like you New York look. 

2.    Good shoes are so important. 
At my school, you can sometimes stand for an entire class (2 -3 hours). Good shoes are the key to limiting back pain, leg pain and fatigue. My Nike fly knits saved me! 

3.    Sleeping isn't just for the weak, sick or elderly. 
With 25 hours of class a week, not including daily practice, rehearsals or homework, it's easy to get behind on sleep in order to get ahead in other areas. I learned very quickly that if I didn't get a full 8 hours, I wasn't nearly as productive or energetic as I needed to be. Starting first semester I began going to bed as early as nine. It got to the point where my dorm mates would call me "grandma.” I think the only thing that kept me healthy, sane and on top of things was my mandatory 8 hours. 

4.    Breakfast is just as important a sleep. 
I'm not talking a quick muffin but good hearty food like yogurt or eggs or oatmeal. Not eating a good breakfast would ruin my whole day. I felt tired and cranky and it was just a bad combination. When I ate, I stayed focused, awake and ready to go.

Here's my cute mom and I right before she left after a visit last year!

Here's my cute mom and I right before she left after a visit last year!

5.    You never realize just how much you'll miss your parents and your dogs.
It will be pretty lonely for a while. You can Skype your parents, but there is no middle ground for seeing your dogs. (Yes, I have tried to skype them. They don’t get it.) It's a lonely world without a dog. Fortunately, most dog parks offer a place for viewing! If you're lucky, a compassionate dog owner will let you pet their dog. Also, call your parents more. Shoot them a text in the morning. They probably miss you more than you miss them. 

6.    Always ready! 
I learned that mornings are always more hectic than nights. So, I always pack my bag the night before. It's one less thing to worry about during crazy mornings. At acting school, it’s not unusual to be asked to pack up your whole room and bring it for an exercise. This is absolutely impossible to do if you’re running even slightly behind in the morning. The additional peace of mind is worth the quick five minutes to pack the night before! Plus, you’re less likely to forget something. 

The Countdown to NYC!

Hello! Happy Blog Launch Day! I was planning on launching Monday, but I just couldn’t wait! Maybe the excitement of the Olympics starting tonight or the anticipation of moving back to New York City on Tuesday is messing with my head. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while. After considerable thought and hard work this summer, I am finally ready to launch. This blog is designed to track my adventures while living in New York City. Mostly, it will be about my life, acting school, favorite spots, and tricks I’ve learned while navigating one of the busiest cities in the world! I plan on posting Mondays and Thursday and on other days when inspiration prompts me. To kick off Blog Launch Weekend, I’ll be posting a bunch to make sure there is plenty to read. Be sure to check out posts about my favorite spots and things (here) and pictures of New York City (here). 

So, without further ado, I present skylerharman.net.

With only four days (including today) remaining until I leave for New York City, the reality of everything is really starting to settle in. The end of this summer is especially affecting. When I get to the city, I have my OWN place. It’s not a dorm that I share with eleven other people. It’s mine. I have to make sure that my rent gets paid on time. I’m completely in control of how clean it stays, where the furniture goes, whether I leave lights on, and whether I lock the doors (I do). There’s no one around to make sure I wake up on time— fortunately I’m very good at not snoozing the alarm. Living by myself is a huge step. I can honestly say that I’m ready and excited to start the beginning of this next stage of life.  

It was a strange adjustment coming home from my first year of college. During my time at school, I got into an independent groove. Everything I had control of was scheduled completely around me—studying, grocery runs, dates, park line-learning adventures. Being home, I’m working around three other adults each with their own schedules and routines. It’s a tricky situation to balance, but I think we did pretty well. My family had some really fun moments this summer.

When I’m at school, it’s a definitely a task to navigate the time difference. Yes, I do realize there are people navigating more extreme time changes. BUT when everyone is away at school, the Harman clan is negotiating as many as three time zones- mountain, eastern, and Arizona’s unique time zone. During high school, my mom used to get up hours before me, so I could always count on having coffee in our family room once I got up. Being two hours ahead, I’m usually in class by the time my mom wakes up. (It’s not like she sleeps in, but if I have to be at class by 7:45am, that’s 5:45am her time. Waaaaay too early to be skyping or even pretending to exist.)
 

I feel confident and ready to be going back to school. There are very few people fortunate enough to go to a school that makes them excited for summer to end. I feel prepared to return to the Academy. This summer has been spent working every day to better my craft in one way or another. I don’t feel frantic or panicked. The normal rush to complete summer reading isn’t there. We have a joke at my school where someone says “Ugh! I have to do this!” and someone corrects them saying “No, you GET to do this.” 

Well, lucky for me, I get to do this.