Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Inside Out Book Tag

I saw this book tag on youtube and thought it was a fun idea. It's based off the new Disney Pixar movie Inside Out, which I loved. The movie is about 5 characters who represent basic emotions that live inside a little girl's head. It was a really cute and clever movie. For the book tag you are supposed to choose one book for each emotion.

1. JOY - Which book brings you the most joy?
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
It was my favorite book as a kid, probably my first favorite book, and I still love the story. It makes me really happy and Anne Shirley is such a joyful, happy character.

2. DISGUST - Which book grossed you out the most?
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin.
This whole series has some really graphic and disturbing scenes but this book in particular has some of the worst ones that have stayed with me a long time. "The Red Wedding" is in this book, but there's another scene at the end that I find really disgusting.

3. FEAR - Which book scared you more than anything?
Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami.
There is a character in this novel called The Sheep Man that is just utterly terrifying and the scenes with that character are so creepy and haunting.

4. SADNESS - Which book made you cry the hardest?
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
I'm not sure if this is the book that made me cry the hardest, but I did find it very sad. It's sad in a beautiful and cathartic way and also makes you sad because the characters make some bad choices, and I found rather than getting frustrated I was just sad about the lost time. It's a great book, but it did make me cry.

5. ANGER - Which book pissed you off?
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares.
This book was so infuriating. It is the final book in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series and is set years after when the main characters are all adults, but for the first three quarters of the book the author basically kills anything the reader liked about the characters and eliminates any redeemable qualities they had for apparently no reason. By the end of the book it turns out there is a reason for it all but it was a really frustrating reading experience.

Friday, July 24, 2015

NYC Part 7: American Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, Grand Central Station

On our last full day in New York City we went to the American Museum of Natural History. It was Saturday so it is absolutely insane. I would recommend if you are able to, go on a week day because there will likely be less people (and children) there during the week. Also, my tip is to enter in through the planetarium entrance off West 81st Street. We did this by accident because of where we came up from the subway, but there was absolutely no line, and later when we stumbled into the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall (the main entrance) it was completely packed. So save yourself some time and buy your tickets at the Hayden Planetarium. It's connected to the rest of the museum, and is worth a visit anyways.

Navigating the museum is very confusing and frustrating, especially when it's crowded. Stairs and elevators were hard to locate and the map we got didn't really make sense. Some of the exhibits were closed which was not indicated on the map. At one point we asked a guard for directions and she directed us to an elevator and told us to go to the fourth floor but the elevator she sent us to didn't even go to the fourth floor, we needed a different elevator. So my advice is be content to wander around aimlessly, or if you have somewhere to be at a certain time (like we did) ask for directions to the specific things you want to see, and then ask for directions again if the first set of directions you get proves faulty.

We saw African elephants and Asian elephants and birds of the world and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial all, and - my favorite - the Ocean Life exhibit. This huge whale hangs from the ceiling and the big room is all dark with "aquariums" of taxidermied and sculpted fish light up the room, except in the corner where one aquarium is dark - the giant squid and the sperm whale fighting. It was so creepy. It felt as if they were going to come to live and start fighting in front of us just like in the movie The Squid and the Whale. It was very cool. 

Stephen wanted to see the dinosaurs so we couldn't leave without seeing them but of course everybody wanted to see them. It was very crowded and full of strollers and children. Honestly, there weren't many places we went in New York where I felt claustrophobic. I think it was because most of the things we did had a fixed number of people allowed (all the shows) or were in wide open spaces (all the parks) or else just weren't as busy during the week, but I felt very crowded and cramped in the Natural History museum so I was grateful to leave. Still, it was a cool experience seeing some of the famous artifacts. 

That afternoon we went to our third and final Broadway show - The Book of Mormon, written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the creators of South Park and Team America:World Police).  The show was at the Eugene O'Neil Theatre which is very church-like with gold-gilted everything and painted, vaulted ceilings. It was an appropriate location for the show. The musical was really funny and we enjoyed it a lot. It was completely different from the other two Broadway shows we saw. The dancing and costumes were over the top. There was an entire choreographed tap dance number featuring a mid-song costume change. And there were references to other musicals like Annie and The Lion King. It was very self-aware. We really liked it, but if you don't like the satirical, sometimes offensive style of humor of South Park you won't like it. 

That night we went to the top of the Empire State Building! the 102nd floor observatory was closed but we weren't planning on paying extra to go up there anyway because I'd read that it isn't worth it. We didn't have to wait in line too long to ride the elevator up to the 80th floor. From there, instead of waiting for 20 or more minutes to take another elevator to the 86th floor, we just took the stairs. We got to the top just after the sun set, making for some beautiful views. (Above you can see part of downtown Manhattan with the Chrysler Building in the top left)

It was so awesome watching the city light up as the sun set on the river. 

We stayed at the top until it was dark out. In this photo you can see the corner of 5th Ave. and Broadway creating a V in the middle, and in the distance the new World Trade Center.

We took this photo of the Statue of Liberty through a pair of binoculars on top of the Empire State Building.

I was happy we did the Empire State building on the last night of our trip because it was cool to see the city from that perspective and be able to recognize places we'd visited on our trip. It was the perfect way to end our trip, and so special.

The next morning after checking out of our hotel we headed to Grand Central Station, because I wanted to see it, and because we needed to catch a train from there to head to the airport. It really is grand. Everything about it is very majestic looking. There is a mural on the ceiling of all the zodiac signs, and the famous ticking arrivals and departures boards, and the columns, and the crowds. It's just what I expected and it was cool to see in person. 

That was the end of our amazing trip! We had a really wonderful time and did so many cool things. 

Check out my packing tutorial for advice about packing for New York in the summer, and some general tips. 

Check out the rest of our NYC trip:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

NYC Part 6: Brooklyn Bridge, MOMA

On Friday after the Botanic Garden we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. 

The bridge is a very iconic looking piece of architecture. During the walk you get views of the Statue of Liberty on the left, lower Manhattan straight ahead, and the Manhattan Bridge and the Empire State building on the right in the distance. It was pretty cool. There is a separate level for pedestrians and cyclists so we saw vehicles down below but where we were it was all people walking or people on citi bikes. 

Spotted this little sticker of a robot in love on the bridge.

The tall building on the far right is the new World Trade Center tower. It is actually further back than all those other buildings so you can see just how gigantic it is. It towers over all the other buildings in the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Saw this cheesy grafitti near some love locks hanging off the bridge. You can see the road where vehicles travel below. A firetruck drove by as I was taking a picture of the locks. 

That night we went back to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art.) It is free from 4-8 on Fridays and it was packed. The first exhibit we saw was Yoko Ono One Woman Show. It was really interesting.

We saw her experimental videos and photographs of her performance art from the 60s. Her art is all very participatory and interactive, like "A Work To Be Stepped On" above,"Touch Poem" and a new piece made for this exhibit called "To See the Sky" - a spiral staircase up to a skylight in the ceiling that encourages viewers/participants to connect with and experience the sky, which is very important to Ono in her work and life. 

I liked this "War Is Over! If You Want It" print and Stephen really liked the room dedicated to Plastic Ono Band. 

Next we saw all the old, famous paintings. We saw Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, which was a bit like seeing The Mona Lisa. It was very crowded with lots of people taking photos (including me, obviously.) but I love this painting and it was very cool to see it in person. 

We saw some Klimt, Picasso (above), Matisse, Jackson Pollock (below), and Andy Warhol (which we'd actually seen before when it came to our local art gallery a few years ago.)

The MOMA is organized weird. Everything is in its own little room and some of the rooms dead end and the map isn't that helpful. Also, it's organized by collection (who owns the art) not geographically, thematically, by genre, or chronologically. So not all of the Matisse paintings were even on the same floor. It messes with your head and forces you to switch gears mentally often when considering the art. 

The last exhibit we saw was "Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye." It was cool. There were music players from record players to walkmen to iPods, album covers and band posters from the 1920s to 1990s, and a few instruments and amplifiers. It was a cool idea for an exhibit and I liked the aesthetic. 

That was our second last full day in New York!

Check out my packing tutorial for advice about packing for New York in the summer, and some general tips. 

Check out the rest of our NYC trip:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NYC Part 5: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

On our Friday in New York we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The garden was amazing. Even though it wasn't the only thing we did that day I thought it deserved its own post. I really love gardens. I have blogged about my late grandma's garden, and my own garden (a few times), and a beautiful garden in Medicine Hat. I even got married in a garden! So I loved this place and took tons of photos.

A lot of people have asked what my favorite part of the trip was and I can't possibly choose, we did so many cool things and they were all so different. But I think I took the most photos of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden because most of the things we did I couldn't take tons of photos of (shows, concerts, museums, etc.) So here are some of the best:

Even the rocks had descriptions, just like the plants. 

We saw a banana tree.

and we saw this huge tree. (My husband is over 6 feet tall for reference)

There was a whole garden that was just roses. 

Part of the garden was like The Ramble in Central Park, just paths surrounded by trees. Very peaceful.

Near this pond there was a sign saying that clear water is a sign of a healthy ecosystem and if you see lots of dragonflies around that means the water is clean and good. This little guy certainly thought so. 
Stephen really liked this Japanese Wisteria hanging down from a gazebo with bean pods growing.

We saw turtles and koi fish in the beautiful Japanese Garden. 

In the Shakespeare garden, the plaques have Shakespeare quotes that reference the flowers and plants.

The beautiful lily pads were blooming in the ponds.

The conservatory was really cool, with an entire room of just bonzai trees, and some themed rooms.

We saw a warmer climate room with plants from Australia, Asia, and California, then the tropical room (above)

Mangoes were growing in the tropical conservatory.

The desert conservatory was very cool. It was all cacti and succulents. 

We also really enjoyed the fragrance garden which was all very scented plants and flowers. 

It was a beautiful place. 

Check out my packing tutorial for advice about packing for New York in the summer, and some general tips. 

Check out the rest of our NYC trip:
Part 6
Part 7