WARNING: Extremely long post ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Yes, I made it back in one piece, albeit one sick and tired piece (I mean that literally). As it turns out, I was sick before we left and traipsing around the big apple with very little sleep did nothing to help my cold and allergies. Imagine that! Therefore, this week has meant a lot of resting to get myself back up to snuff.
But let’s talk about the trip. Cresta, Alyson, and I arrived to LaGuardia Saturday evening around 6pm. I guess there was tons of traffic going from the ‘burbs to the city with it being a Jewish holiday and all, so Ashley sent a car for us that took us to her cute little doorstep in Ridgewood, NJ. After dumping our stuff at her house, we then walked, yes walked, into town for dinner. It was so great, just like a little Dickens Village. I could only imagine it all lit up at Christmas! So dinner was great, except I had this little ear issue. Ugh. Well remember how I told you I’d been sick? Well on the plane, the pressure totally messed up my right ear so I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part was that it felt like it was totally full of water, so in my own head, when I spoke, I echoed, which also meant that when I spoke I was actually yelling. Yeah, it was so great (not). Needless-to-say, after dinner we walked to a pharmacy so I could get some ear drops. This ear nonsense and sickness was NOT making for a very pleasant Monogram Momma!
Saturday morning we all woke up and Ashley was down on the sofa. Not only was I sicker than the previous day, but so was Cresta, and Ashley woke up with her eyes so swollen from allergies she couldn’t open them. She was lying on the sofa with ice on her eyes. LOVELY. Weren’t we going to look fantastic for Martha?! A few bagels and some Benedryl later, we headed out the door to catch the train (yep, we walked into town again! It’s so cute!). Okay.
Lesson #1: the trains in NY/NJ don’t wait for anyone. Simply put, remember this is not the South!
When we got into the city we checked into our hotel. Remember, there are 4 of us girls staying in 1 room, so we naturally requested two queen sized beds. Upon walking in, something looked strange. They weren’t queens, that for sure. And they weren’t double’s, either. The beds? Yeah, they were more like twins and a half. Seriously. So it was a tight squeeze and it’s a good thing we all like each other (although Cresta and I being sick didn’t get much sleep anyway).
Lesson #2: if you call the Concierge and ask for the following, all during separate phone calls, he won’t be too amused by you…
- 4 extra towels, please
- 4 extra pillows, please (foam, not feather)
- Ummm, a white noise machine, because Ashley forgot hers and can't sleep without it
- How about a fan since you don't have a white noise machine?
- Reservations for 4 at Nobu, around 7-ish, please
- A new room with 2 REAL queen beds, please?
- We decided we would like 2 cots brought up, please (DENIED, btw, because they said it was a fire hazard our room was too small).
After cleaning up a bit in our room, we headed out for the day. Sunday found us in China Town (making sure we had delicious Chinese food with Ashley’s friend, who happens to be an Assistant DA), then heading over to Little Italy where we were lucky enough to catch the San Gennaro Festival. It was great fun and great people watching, and we were even able to get our picture taken with a living Statue of Liberty carrying around the Italian flag. Now I’ve seen it all. Oh yeah, and there was lots of subway riding on Sunday too, so that was pretty interesting. I fell in love with all the subway tiles. In all my trips to NY, I’d never ridden the subway if you can believe that!
Lesson #3: Apparently New Yorkers don’t want you to strike up a friendly conversation with them on the many train lines (read: this is not the rails of Thomas the Tank Engine on the Island of Sodor). I think they see this as their “me time” which is perfectly fine. Therefore, randomly telling anyone who makes eye contact with you that you are there to go see Martha, is pretty much NOT a good idea (nor is it a *good thing*to give them the stink eye when they reply “Martha who?” but I digress). Oh, and also? It’s not apparently not a good idea to offer someone to help them with the door or their bag on the trains. Basically keep to yourself. Again I must remember, this is not the South.
Sunday was a long day with lots of shopping and running around. We were all exhausted and headed back to our hotel around 5-ish to unwind a few minutes and decide where we wanted to eat dinner. Keep in mind Cresta and I had been popping cold medicine and throat lozenges all day also. Through most of the day I could hardly talk, but I don’t think my girlfriends were complaining! Anyhoo, we decided on Nobu for dinner (and I am a poet and didn’t know it).
From the hotel, we walked to Nobu and it was excellent. No wait, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and super chic. Great ambiance and we were so glad we decided to dine there for the evening. The food was simply beyond excellent, as were the bountiful drinks. Although Cresta accidentally eating an entire glob of wasabi wasn’t too excellent for her, it was certainly amusing for us! And after a relaxing meal at Nobu and Cresta got the feeling back in her tongue, we hailed a cab and headed to Tavern on the Green for drinks on the patio under the lights. Amazing! I’d never been there at night. It is quite possibly the most magical place at night with all the lights, lanterns, music, and scenery. It was just beyond lovely and it was so wonderful to share it with my girlfriends. Honestly, had Mr. Monogram been there he’d have been bored with it in about 10 minutes, so it was great to sit there and chat and enjoy the amazing evening with my fabulous company. It couldn't have been better.
As it turns out, we stayed at the Tavern until last call. So we grabbed a cab and headed back to unwind and get ready for Monday morning-MARTHA! The night in the little beds was quite interesting. Cresta and I were hacking sick all night long, Ashley’s fan was going on high (pretending it was a noise machine), and at one point I was so wide awake I went and just sat in the bathroom to read. That is until the sun came up and it was time to get ready!! Get excited, girls, we’re going to Martha! WooWoo!!!
Preparation, preparation, preparation getting ready for Martha. We were all so excited I can’t begin to tell you. Of all days for my hair not to cooperate, right? We had planned to meet up with Monogram Momma “Road to Martha” contest winner, Kym, and her mom, that morning at Starbucks near Martha’s studio. Just our luck that not only was President Bush in town, but the controversial President of Iran was in town also (and was insisting on visiting Ground Zero) so all the news outlets were warning about traffic, motorcades, and streets that were shut down. Ashley decided we should chance it and take a cab so we did. We met up with Kym and her mom Katheryn and they were so great! It was really fun to meet her and chat with her, and I’m so glad they were able to come along for this experience. This was also Kym’s first time to the Big Apple. After a quick muffin, we started walking the block or two to Martha.
So, let’s talk Martha. What can I say other than it was UNREAL! It was so amazing to actually be there. Yes, the set is a beautiful IRL as it is on TV, all bright and shiny and clean. It was huge! Her staff, and there are a gazillion staff members, clearly work their fannies off. *big waves and virtual hugs to Jamilla* They are non-stop before, during, and after the show. And all of them so so nice! Her warm-up guy, Joey, who you frequently see her talking to during the show, is really funny and really interacts with the audience. But the biggest surprise? How SKINNY Martha is! OMG I couldn’t believe it! She looked fantastic! We were all screaming and squealing when she walked onto the set, and for the life of me I could not keep my sorority hands down and in my lap or my mouth shut. It was just too exciting!
Time Gunn was the guest, and the show actually aired Live on Monday. They did two shows that day, ours being the first (which they ended up running Live), and another one after ours which was taped. It was a great show, but then again, I am a humongous fan of Project Runway (if you aren’t, then you are really missing out, btw). Anyhow, prior to the show, when we were in the little holding area downstairs, staff members came down to take Polaroid’s of some of our sewing projects. Some people actually had the nerve to wear theirs, and all I can say is YUCK (yes, that is in all caps for a reason). But the bottom line was, that unless you sewed your item w/ a Pfaff or Singer, you weren’t getting up there with Martha since those are the two brands she promotes. But that’s okay, because by the end of the show, our group ended up on air no less than 7 times so HA! *again, big waves and virtual hugs to Jamilla* Honestly, I have to tell you how cute our whole group looked in their coordinating monogrammed tee’s and dark jeans. ADORABLE doesn’t even say it! I swear I don’t know what some of these people were thinking when they woke up to get dressed for Martha that morning. It’s MARTHA STEWART people, put a tiny bit of thought into it, will ‘ya?
Back to the show. Typically invited groups are placed on the ground level I guess, but during our show it was staff members who had participated and won a MSLO sewing contest. BOOOOOOO. But that’s okay because we were still in the first and second rows and had prime seats. *Jamilla, I think that’s another hug to you, too for that one!* We were really interested to see what she would do during commercials, too. Talk to the audience? Leave the set? Cartwheels in the kitchen with Wes, perhaps? As it turns out, there is so much craziness during the commercials, that she is pretty much getting powder on her nose, getting a sip of water, answering a few questions from her staff who are moving the set around for the next segment. However, I must dish. After the Tim Gunn segment where they draped muslin over a form and showed how a garment is created, she could NOT stop making her dress. She was certainly a woman on a mission. I mean, Tim Gun had left the set and everyone is moving things all around her, and she was still working on her garment. She simply could not stop herself! But that’s okay. Really. We all know Martha would have to be a workaholic & have such a tremendous natural internal drive to achieve such success, and it really showed. She is a working machine!
Speaking of machines, did you see this show? Okay, well there was this $8,000 Pfaff embroidery machine on there that was just ever so sweetly calling my name from the set. I think it might have been winking at me too, but I don’t think anyone else saw it flirting with me. Martha was showing all the wonderful things you could do with this machine and yes, it was truly wonderful. But $8,000? In my dreams, that’s for sure. But the good news is we can go online and register to win it. The bad news is that I can NOT find where we can register to win it. Help? Anyone? Beuller?? Beuller??
So anyway, the show was great, as I’ve said. They did a really cool embroidery craft that I will be doing on the blog in the coming weeks, and also some very cool no-fabric sewing projects. I really enjoyed those, as I have to admit I’ve tried sewing with various types of paper myself. After the show ended Martha hung around and we were able to take pictures, and 3 of us asked questions.
Lesson #4: When presented with the opportunity of the lifetime to talk to the one and only, great Martha Stewart, don’t flake out and ask the dumbest question on your list. Think and, more importantly, BREATHE, before you speak!
Earlier that morning, we’d come up with some questions for Martha, which included:
- What are your favorite hidden local craft and fabric stores in the city (Michaels not included) that you personally like to go to?
- What do you do on a typical Saturday? Do you ever just have those days where you hang around in your pj’s watching movies and reading on a cold or rainy day?
- I love making grilled pizza’s but have a heck of a time rolling out my dough. It always ends up in the shape of CA or FL, as opposed to a normal shape like a circle or a square. What is the trick?
So, can you guess which stupid question came to my mind and I asked? Yep, that would be #3. Grrr. But no worries, because after I was done talking to Martha, I completely got the crazies and at the end of the little conversation just blurted out really loud to her “Thanks Martha, I love you!!” OH YES. I. DID. Good thing everyone started laughing because I was certain she was going to call her security detail otherwise!
Regardless, Martha was amazing. So much fun, it was just surreal being there. But let me tell you, once Martha was over and we collected our Pfaff goodie bags (thanks, Martha!), we realized how exhausted we were. So we headed to John’s Pizzeria. Delicious! The pizza and company was great, but we were all exhausted and completely loaded down with bags and so forth. After our delicious meal (traveler tip: skip the bathroom at John’s pizzeria. Trust me.), we headed to Times Square. But honestly? We were beyond exhausted and our adrenalin was all gone from the show so after running around Times Square after Martha, we got our bags from the hotel, parted ways with Ashley so she could go home, and Cresta, Alyson, and I headed to the offices of one of my fave accessories companies, A. Tierney. The girls were so sweet to invite us the day before we left, so I was really excited to finally get to meet them. We had a great visit with my terrific trio of gals from A. Tierney, Alyssa, Nancy, & Carrie. I can't begin to tell you how adorable and quaint their office is on the Upper East Side (more to come on that later). It was such a treat to get to spend some time with them and get the full A. Tierney tour!
The girls at A. Tierney were so awesome to hang out with that we stayed for quit a while. Truly, they were like long lost girlfriends that we’d known forever. But then we left our luggage there and headed out of foot. Low and behold, at the end of their block is an amazing view from Central Park. Gorgeous! We had a lovely time sitting on a park bench, relaxing, and people watching. The weather was amazing; it couldn’t have been a more perfect day. But the time was coming for us to head to the airport, so we walked back to A. Tierney, collected our things and said our goodbyes. I know I’ll be seeing these girls again!
Sadly, it was time to pack up and head back to the airport to go back home. It was such a phenomenal experience although it went by much too fast. I can’t possibly begin to ever thank Ashley for pulling the whole Martha and NY thing together, as I know I’ll never forget it. But now worries.. I have 223 pictures to remember it!