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Recent Musings:

Home Sweet Home

I’m back in New York now, and it feels great. It’s been two weeks and I missed the craziness of the city. Leaving NYC is sometimes the only way to start appreciating it again. Not that I needed the validation, but visiting California has completely firmed my decision to choose a bustling crowded city like Manhattan for my current home. I suspect someday I’ll be ready for the Cali lifestyle (I loveeeee it there, beautiful!), but right now I need the fast-paced atmosphere in my life.

But home will always be where the ♥ is. I must admit, I missed the sound of cicadas singing from the tree tops in the heat of the summer. I longed for the silence that washes over at nighttime. I craved the wide open spaces of Midwestern suburbia. Home sweet home.

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(#nofilter cotton candy sky)

I came back from California two days early due to some health issues, and spent the first three days happily in my old bed (#funemployed). I did manage to make it out to the city to meet my lovely ladies for dinner and drinks though!

By the forth and final day, I was going stir-crazy. It’s weird to have to drive anywhere and everywhere, but I had to leave the house. So to the mall it was! I might’ve gone a bit overboard but my purchases were *mostly* all necessary. I also finally made it over to the eye doctor and purchased a pair of glasses! I’m so pumped to embrace the sexy nerdy look this fall.

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Now on to running – I love running in my hometown and managed to knock out one 10 miler and one 5.5 miler during the week. But for whatever reason, I was too exhausted to run a third time yesterday. I’m not really training for anything but I have been running longer distances lately, and I think I finally felt a tinge of burnout. The break was necessary.

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(me, myself, and I)

Anyway, my mind is still in full-blown vacation mode and I love it. School doesn’t start until September 8th, but would you believe if I told you I’m super excited and ready to start like…right now?!? Ok maybe not right now, but soon. I’m ready to knock out these final classes of my postbac!

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(#nofilter again…I know right?)

I have a few days solo to get reacquainted with NYC before my mom flies in on Sunday. I’m so excited for her visit, we plan to redecorate my apartment! I just re-signed my lease so I’ll be living here for the third year, whoa.

I have no plans for today other than grocery shopping and picking up my race bib. I’m planning on taking it easy tonight, especially because I’m running an 8K in Central Park tomorrow morning! Happy Friday everyone!

♥ Irina

Top of the Rock, Top of the World!

Most people strive to visit the Empire State building when in New York City, but the beautiful Top of the Rock often goes unnoticed. Perched atop of the Rockefeller Center, the Top of the Rock offers 360 degree views of the concrete jungle known as Manhattan and beyond. It’s stunning and worth every penny.

Our plan was simple – we bought tickets the day prior to go to the top at 7:30PM in order to catch Manhattan both in daylight and at nighttime. Seeing the sunset was an added bonus. This actually worked out perfectly!

While it’s possible to buy tickets the same day you want to visit, my recommendation is to buy tickets in advance for a specific time. This helps you avoid the general admission line and go straight to the top, as long as you arrive within the 15 minute time window. I also suggest snagging tickets right around sunset so you can see the city as we did – daylight, sunset, and nighttime!

Top of the Rock

An elevator zoomed us up to the 68th floor and we stepped out on top of the world.

We still had about 45 minutes until sunset, so we strolled around the area. The Top of the Rock essentially has three levels – the 68th floor with the elevators, the semi-covered 69th floor (with some glass panels and railings), and the peak 70th floor.

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The views, oh the views!

Top of the Rock

I simply couldn’t stop staring at my beloved Central Park. There’s something to be said about the famous park while strolling through it, but it’s truly incredible to see the entire massive forest lodged in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world. A true oasis amongst concrete.

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Eventually, after I got my fill of upper Manhattan, we walked over to the other side and of course I was instantly smitten.

Top of the Rock

I mean…

Top of the Rock

I couldn’t stop wondering how I got so lucky to live in this city. It’s certainly not a city for many people but I absolutely adore every nook and cranny. Even after two years (!!!), I find myself falling more in love with Manhattan.

Top of the Rock

Soon enough, the sun began to set. It drenched the buildings in pink and gold, showing off for its final moments of the passing day.

Top of the Rock

We ran over to the Hudson side and caught the final minutes of sundown. The clouds blocked some of the sun in all its glory, but the sunset was still undeniably beautiful. Mother Nature sure knows how to impress!

Top of the Rock

Sun down, time to play! New York’s inner naughtiness started lighting up the night sky at long last.

Top of the Rock

Twinkle twinkle little big city…

Top of the Rock

The crowds soon dispersed and we were left to continue enjoying the city from the sky.

Top of the Rock

It’s crazy to think how many people live on this tiny island. Every window, every street is drenched in people people and more people. Oh how insignificant we all are!

Top of the Rock

But I’m still kind of obsessed.

Top of the Rock

With stored memories and tired eyes, we finally hopped into the elevator to take us back to reality. This was an awesome belated birthday gift from a good friend, and I loved playing tourist in my own city!

♥ Irina

27th Birthday Festivities

I’m clearly behind on blogging and have missed out on writing about a few recent happenings in life. No big deal, it did happen even if it’s not blogged about, but there are some special events I need to photobomb you with! My birthday, as much as I dislike it yearly, was actually quite awesome. So please allow me to share!

I woke up on August 5th and started it as a normal day, but oddly enough I did feel differently. I think my feelings are worthy of a separate post, but let me tell you that I did feel an internal shift. Something inside of me changed, my perspective changed, I changed. Anyway, my sidekick for the day came over and together we feasted on my favorite breakfast of smoked salmon, eggs, avocado, and toast (and coffee…duh) before setting out to Coney Island!

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Why Coney Island and Brighton Beach? For whatever reason, spending the day frolicking on the beach, riding rollercoasters, eating amusement park food, and dining on Russian food sounded like the perfect way to welcome in 27 years old. Oh how right I was!

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We started our adventure on the beach where we spent an hour hanging out along the stunning blue oasis.

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What better time to bring out your inner child than when you’re turning another year older? I played around in the sand without any reservations and it was so much fun!

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It was a great way to say goodbye to 26 years old and welcome in my late twenties (yikes though, yikes).

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In case you can’t see, it says “Bye 26!” Check out this video on my Instagram, it’s one of my favorite videos ever!

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After getting our fill of the sandy water, we headed over to the boardwalk and picked up a Coney Island necessity – a hot dog from Nathan’s!

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This was more of an obligation than an actual craving but believe it or not, it actually tasted kind of good! I know right, I was shocked too…

And then it was finally time for Luna Park!

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I’m a sucker for roller coasters and I didn’t really have the highest expectations for the small amusement park, but it totally exceeded my expectations. We first hopped on the ferris wheel and enjoyed the stunning views of Brooklyn and Manhattan in the distance.

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I spy with my little eye…Manhattan! Do you see it?!?

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Up next was a ride that didn’t look wild but ended up being our favorite of the day – it spun around continuously as it zoomed through the track. I seriously can’t remember the last time I laughed so much.

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Love love love! The perfect weather helped too. We took a short break for another necessity – ice cream!

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Gelato actually, it was delicious.

My friend eventually convinced me to go on the Go Karts (which for some reason freak me out) and much to my surprise, I had so much freaking fun! I was zooming around the track passing people until I crashed into someone and my car stalled. It was so sad haha.

Up next on the agenda was something I was majorly looking forward to for days – Russian food! We walked over to what I like to call “Little Russia” (AKA a super Russian street in Brighton Beach), and hopped into Skovorodka, a tried and true restaurant with authentic Russian cuisine.

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We ordered so.much.food. SO MUCH food. I didn’t even snap a photo of it all, but my friend, who was a Russian food virgin, loved it!

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We hobbled out of the restaurant completely stuffed, but I insisted on making one last stop before heading back to Manhattan.

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Russian dessert! This cake is called “Medovik” and is made with sweet sour cream layers and honey, and the other dessert is called “oreshki” (translation: nuts) and is filled with walnuts and caramel. Words can’t even describe how delicious both of these desserts are.

And finally, it was time to make the trip home.

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All in all, this was the perfect way to welcome in 27 years old. I deeply missed my family but my parents were way ahead of me and sent over a beautiful flower bouquet that I received upon coming home that evening.

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I’m so excited to see what this upcoming year has in store for me. I know it’s going to be quite an adventure with all these wild changes in my life! Bring it on, I’m ready.

♥ Irina

The Happiest of Birthdays to My Sis!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY INCREDIBLE AWESOME BEAUTIFUL SISTER!

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Despite our seven-year age difference, we’re still learning about each other and with each passing day the gap feels smaller and smaller.

And I’m absolutely ecstatic…

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…to become an aunt!!!!

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January 1st can’t come soon enough…

Happy birthday sis, thanks for always being there for me. We’re lucky to have each other, and soon we’ll have another tiny sidekick joining our sisterhood. My niece will surely be the coolest chick around, she’ll be my sister’s daughter after all!

♥ Irina