A Mini Guide to NYC!

While reading, listen to Ever Since New York by Harry Styles.

Hello friends!


It’s been almost a month since I’ve been in this space, writing, and sharing stuff with you. In part, my reason is I’ve been working on some side projects. This is always exciting and I’m thankful for opportunities to share creatively in other ways, but I do miss this blog terribly in the meantime. I’ve decided to take a little break from freelance to focus more on this space, and become more consistent with my content. My other reason for being away is Reed and I have been doing some traveling! We were blessed to travel with our church staff to Washington D.C. for our annual Foursquare convention. Foursquare is the denomination of our church, and every year, our entire movement gathers for a week to connect, learn, grow, and reflect on what God has done nationally and globally! We heard from amazing speakers (Mark Batterson, Danielle Strickland, and Matthew Barnett to name a few), and enjoyed having the incredible Elevation Worship lead us in worship. Our staff LOVED exploring Washington D.C. and we left the convention feeling so refreshed and inspired. (If you are interested in a D.C. guide, comment below! I wasn’t sure how many of you would be just as interested in that as you would a NYC one, but I’d be happy to oblige if it is something you’re interested in.)

Since we were already on the East Coast, Reed and I planned to spend a few days in New York following the convention. This would be an early anniversary trip and it is a place we have always wanted to visit! Man, it is AMAZING what just a few days together in a beautiful place will do for your marriage! Reed and I decided early on that seeing the world and celebrating milestones were going to be priorities for us. We saved for NYC, made it happen (with cash only, shoutout to Dave Ramsey, and lots of praise hands), and felt wildly blessed the whole time! During our trip, as I posted to Instagram and Twitter, I got so many messages about where we ate, what we saw, and what we did. We really did have the time of our lives, and a very well-rounded experience in NYC. So I thought, why not give YOU some tips and tricks for your next trip to the Big Apple? Here it is, my mini guide to NYC!


A Mini Guide to NYC!
(I have linked every restaurant/coffeeshop to make them easier to find!)

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK...

  • Irving Farm Coffee Roasters (When it comes to coffee, I always get an almond milk vanilla latte, hot or iced. I know, so boring! Reed usually gets cold brew, and all of the below coffee shops had DELICIOUS renditions of both.)
  • Birch Coffee
  • Parliament Coffee
  • Regular Visitors Coffee House
  • Sarabeth’s (Order the crab eggs benedict...if you’re into that sort of thing. Craving it right now!)
  • Orowasher’s Bakery (Perfect place for a NY bagel.)
  • Bien Cuit (Their almond cream and poppy-seed croissant will change you.)
  • Levain Bakery (Okay, their chocolate chip cookies are unbelievable...but Reed and I also loved their sourdough baguettes w/ butter and jam. So simple and so delicious!)
  • Patsy’s Pizza (We got the white pie and added prosciutto...and holy crap people...so good.)
  • Juliana’s Pizza (The perfect classic margherita pizza!)
  • Hot dogs on the Brooklyn Promenade (This was one of our favorite lunch experiences. With a perfect view and NY hotdogs, you just can’t get any better than that!)
  • Luke’s Lobster (There’s no other option...get the lobster roll.)
  • The Smith (Our dinner was wonderful, but the smore’s in a jar dessert is something I want to try and recreate at home. It was so delicious and creative!)
  • Serafina (This is where we went to dinner after we saw Miss Saigon on Broadway. It was just a couple minutes from our theatre, and their filet mignon burger was incredible!)
  • The Grey Dog (This place is a coffee shop and lunch spot by day, but a fun place for dinner and small bites by night! Reed and I shared the spicy kale caesar salad w/ chicken and a bottle of wine...it was perfect!)
  • The Loeb Boathouse (This restaurant is lakeside in Central Park. The view and food are impeccable. Need I say more?)

WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO...

  • St. John’s Cathedral (This cathedral is breathtaking!)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (I won’t lie...I just wanted my Gossip Girl moment. If you relate, visit!)
  • The New York Public Library (The library of my dreams with beautiful architecture.)
  • Central Park (Central Park is hands down one of our favorite things we experienced in NYC. There is so much to see, it is like visiting a new park every day! We found ourselves returning here every evening.)
  • Strand Bookstore (A famous multi-level bookstore...the perfect place to grab a book for your Subway rides or flight home! I picked up Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and I’m loving it so far!)
  • Time Square (Even if crowds and big lights aren’t your thing, the spectacle of Times Square at night is a must-see!)
  • Brooklyn Bridge & Brooklyn Heights Promenade (A great place for a view, and the bridge itself is just so pretty!)
  • Empire State Building (Reed and I did not spend the $70 to catch the top floor view, but it was fun to walk the lobby and just see the historic building.)
  • Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial (A very moving memorial for lives lost in 9/11. It is wild to think of how many lives were lost there in such recent history, and it is definitely worth the visit to remember and reflect.)
  • Fifth Avenue (Reed and I did not spend a lot of money shopping, but being on 5th Avenue was fun! One of our highlights was the extremely impressive Adidas Store. It is three stories and the setup is really creative!)
  • DO Cookie Dough Confectionery (You will stand in line for an hour to eat this edible cookie dough, but it so worth it! Warning: in the midst of the hype and wait-time, Reed and I bit off more than we could chew and ordered WAY too much cookie dough. We got a little too excited! Believe me, one scoop is enough for you and to share with a friend! Get the classic chocolate chip, you won’t be disappointed.)
  • A Broadway Show (The best thing we did in NYC was fork out the money for a Broadway show. We originally wanted to see Dear Evan Hansen but the tickets were absurdly expensive. We went with Miss Saigon and I was a crying mess the whole time! The vocals and stage production were unlike anything I have ever experienced. I now completely understand the hype surrounding Broadway!)

ON GETTING FROM POINT A TO POINT B...

  • Walking (Whatever you do, do not trade in comfort for style. Wear really comfortable shoes, because if you’re smart, you’ll save money on Uber's and Lyft’s and just walk to where you want to go. With the help of the Subway and other forms of public transit, the walking is a small price to pay to see NYC.)
  • Subway (Taking the Subway everywhere was so much easier than expected. Reed and I are used to Bart in the Bay Area, but the Subway has such a stigma of being complicated. Simply use the transit option in your Maps on your iPhone, pay attention to the stops, don’t lose your Metro card, and you’ll be fine!)

A quick note: I won’t be sharing about our hotel. Simply put, we would not recommend where we stayed, and would encourage you to look into a nice hotel or an Air BnB. We made the best of it and the positive thing about our hotel was its location: Central Manhattan. This put us within quick walking distance of several Subway stations and Central Park! I would just encourage you to do your research, save up more than you think, and read reviews!

Seriously...Reed and I loved every minute in NYC and cannot wait to get back there soon! It is such a magical city! Have you ever been to NYC? What are your favorite things to do/eat/see? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear!

Homepage photo by Mark Ruaix

 
 


 

For My Brothers: A Men's Style Board

While reading, listen to Hard Times by Paramore. 

Since I started this blog last August, my three younger brothers have given me one request: "Please do a men's style post!"

The stylish men in my life: Jackson (16), Keaton (21), Max (19), and Reed (26).


I've hesitated to put one out, because though I do appreciate great style, and keep up on fashion trends, I am no men's fashion expert. Additionally, this space isn't really a fashion blog. But then, as I thought about the few reasons why I shouldn't dive into the world of men's fashion, I thought about a better reason why I SHOULD: I want to. Many social media and blogging experts would say there are rules, but here, you won't find any. Victoria, Truthfully is an online cork board filled with various kinds of inspiration. It's a platform for things of the heart to spring up and shine, and my heart cares about a myriad of things. I think it's cool that men and women find their creative voice in how they dress, and I think that caring about the exterior doesn't have to take anything away from our valuable interior. What makes you come alive? What adds value to your life and to the lives of others? Where do you discover God? Do that, thrive there, and do it with all of your heart!

I'm not going to get so caught up in nailing down a singular "brand" that I miss out on sharing what is really me. Maybe coming to this blog will feel like looking over a friend's shoulder to see what they're scrolling through, what is inspiring them, and what they are learning. And today? I'm inspired by men's street style from the fashion weeks across the globe. Life and people are beautiful and creative and amazing, and this style board only reinforces that belief for me.

So dear, fashionable brothers and friends of mine, here is your men's style post...I hope it gets those fiery wheels turning! (Images are linked for source/more inspiration)


What is inspiring you? What is moving your creativity forward? Share in the comments below!

Also, if you'd like to see MORE on Men's Style, let me know in the comments...

What Makes a Date Night Count (Plus, 10 Creative Date Ideas!)

While reading, listen to Lovesong by Mariee Sioux.

Sometimes, you're ballin' on a budget.  


And sometimes, you have a little extra to spend and spoil. Reed and I have experienced both in our five years together. Early on in our dating relationship, money was so tight, we used to spend date nights sitting in the aisles of Barnes and Noble, reading how-to books or laughing in the Children's section. Other times, we would share a waffle at the local diner, before our morning classes. During different seasons of better-paying jobs and cheaper rent, we had a little extra to spend and we'd treat ourselves to the best sushi in town (Nobu, at the time), or get each other nice gifts for birthdays and anniversaries. Looking back, I appreciate all of the ways we have enjoyed time together. As the years go on, you learn that fancy doesn't always equal important, and cheap doesn't always equal second-rate.

I knew I was in love with Reed when just driving around in the car with him was my happiest place.

When sitting together at the coffee shop on my campus felt the same as a fancy Italian restaurant, because the conversation was so meaningful. Ultimately, when the relationship is right, quality time doesn't have to look one way. As the busyness of life continues, and a million things tug at your attention, simply making time for one another is what is important. Date nights and quality time say, "In the midst of it all, being with you is a priority." Whether you are a few months into a dating relationship, or have been married for over 20 years with a handful of kids, making time to enjoy one another's company will keep the relationship healthy and thriving.

Reed and I love dressing up and going out for a nice dinner, or planning a getaway to enjoy some little luxuries, but those are not the things that make up our typical dates together. Living in the Bay Area is expensive, and with several trips coming up, there isn't much financial margin for $100 meals or extravagant adventures. Still, we are committed to weekly date nights, because we feel they are a simple way to keep romance and connection blooming in our relationship.

On these date nights, we don't expect the activity to be what connects us, it is our responsibility to be present and interested in each other.

Reed and I put our phones away, we ask good questions, and we try to be good listeners. We compliment each other and go out of our way to serve one another. I'm not perfect in this, but I always want Reed to feel like he is my #1 human priority - especially when we are on a date! I want him to feel adored, valued, and special. Before we go on a date or spend any time together, I ask the Lord to help me put my own selfishness aside so that I can selflessly love him. When I decide to put any unrealistic or selfish expectations aside and choose to "out-serve" Reed, I always feel fulfilled and connected to him when the night is through.

So what to do? And on a budget?! Well I have some creative, and budget-friendly date ideas that Reed and I return to again and again. I hope that as you try some of them out, your relationship grows! Let me know in the comments if you try any of them! I'd love to hear all of the mushy gushy details...I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.


10 Creative Date Night Ideas 

  1. Have a Takeout Picnic - Something Reed and I love to do is order our favorite take-out (Chinese, Thai, Pizza, etc.) and when it's delivered, set it up like a picnic in our living room, or take it with us to a local park on a warm evening. Good takeout does not have to be expensive, and eating together in a creative way, without the noise of a restaurant, makes for great conversation. 
  2. Go to a High School Sports Game - Though bleacher seats at a professional sports game aren't that expensive, perhaps you want to stay local, and you don't want to be tempted by those $12 garlic fries. Save up for a professional game later in the year, and in the meantime, enjoy some local sports! Support a local high-school or college campus, buy their nachos, and cheer like your life depends on it. 
  3. See a Local Play - Same goes for local plays! Of course we would all love to see Hamilton or Wicked, but those tickets are hard to come by. Support a local production (tickets are usually no more than $6-$10 a person!) and still enjoy a show! Even if the quality of the show isn't top-notch (just being honest), it's a great way to get out of the house and spend some time together. You never know, it might end up being impressive!
  4. Take a Scenic Drive (w/ a great playlist!) - In college, this was our go-to. First, because Reed loves to drive, and second, because I love making playlists. We'd usually stop by a Thrifty's or Wendy's and get some $2 ice cream, then find a dirt road somewhere. These drives always include singing at the top of our longs, lots of laughs, and holding hands (a few of my favorite things). If you want a playlist for your romantic drive, check out this one.  
  5. Visit a Book Store - Reed and I are still regulars at our local bookstore. A fun idea is to peruse on your own and pick out a book for the other person. Buy the books separately and then give them to each other with an explanation! This is a simple way to treat the other person while also testing your knowledge of their tastes and interests!
  6. Go to the Beach - If you are lucky enough to live within a drive's distance to the beach - take advantage of it! Reed and I go to the beach at least a couple times a month. The beach is our happy place and it is mostly free (unless you have to pay for parking - but try to find entrances that don't require it!) When we go to the beach, we often bring books, blankets, snacks, and a bottle of wine. 
  7. Build a Fort and Watch a Movie - One night, early on in our marriage, Reed asked if we could build a fort. My answer: DUH. We grabbed all of our blankets, pillows, pushed the furniture together, and voila! A fort was made. We snuggled up, watched a movie on our laptop, and ate pull-apart chocolate chip cookies. This is still one of our favorite things to do. If you're married - try sleeping there that night! It's so funny waking up in the morning, and realizing where you are. 
  8. Breakfast in Bed (for dinner!) - If you're a married couple, and you don't often get to spend mornings together, try this! Make waffles, omelettes and bacon, or whatever your heart desires, and enjoy breakfast in bed - for dinner. There is something so relaxing about putting on your pajamas, crawling into bed and enjoying some of your favorite breakfast foods, at the end of a long day. You could easily add a movie to this if you have more time! 
  9. Play Games at a Local Coffee Shop - Grab a board game or card game you already own and play it at a local coffee shop! Order your favorite drinks and enjoy. (This is a fun double date too!)
  10. Go for a Hike or Walk - Reed and I love the outdoors, and we are lucky enough to have plenty of beautiful trails not too far from where we live. Wherever you are, get outside and go for a nice, long walk! Whether it's in a residential area or a woodsy trail, getting outside together is relaxing and a great way to make some memories. 

Snapshots of some of our little dates...

What are your go-to date ideas? Do tell! I hope you enjoyed this post and will try some of these soon! Share in the comments if you do! Until next time...