The 5 Day Holiday

As I previously mentioned, my parents flew into New York last Saturday afternoon to spend the holidays on my side of the country. While our dreams of a snowy wonderland fell short (far far short with 60 & 70 degree temps), the past five days were wonderful.


It was fun to play host for a few days, and I felt proud knowing that my parents had a place to stay in the fabulous city without worry. There’s no denying I felt like an adult although even here they continued to baby me (no complaints…I love it).

Immediately upon their arrival we unpacked and went out in search of food. After dining at Uva, a nice Italian restaurant, we decided to make the most out of whatever time was left in the day and headed to Macy’s.


True story! We braved the crazy crowds of tourists and last-minute Christmas shoppers and managed to sneak in some quick shopping. It was worth it.

The following day (Sunday) I snuck in a 7 mile run while my parents put together my bed frame. It was a nasty humid 70 degrees outside and I hated the majority of the run around Central Park, but arriving home to this completely wiped away the negativity:


(The shelf above the bed wasn’t there yet though. It’s still looking bare but hey, it’s a work in progress!)

It’s amazing how something as minor as a bed frame can completely change the look and feel of a room. My dad installed that shelf above the bed literally two hours before the flight back to Chicago. We found a wood board in a local hardware store and just went for it. Six months later my studio is finally starting to feel like an actual apartment…


Back to Sunday – after dealing with a minor refrigerator fiasco-in-the-making (it died and luckily there was a spare one in the building), we walked all the way from my apartment to the Rockefeller Center in the unusually warm night.

Rockefeller Center

My parents absolutely loved it there! Even with what felt like the entire city of New York piled into a tiny little area, the gorgeous glistening tree and the holiday sizzle melted your heart.

Rockefeller Center

We couldn’t resist being touristy and taking a bunch of photos amongst the gleaming decorations.

Rockefeller Center

(My favorite photo!)

Our night ended with some roasted chestnuts:

roasted chestnuts

The temperature dropped a bit the following day, but the dreary rain didn’t feel much better. My dad relaxed in the apartment while my mom and I strolled to Pier 1 in search of some decorations to spice up my bland studio. I walked away with a gorgeous light blue silk pillow and a feisty green glass floor vase.


The best part of the day came afterwards though, when lunchtime rolled around.

Carnegie Deli

One of my mom’s main Manhattan missions for this trip was to take my dad to Carnegie Deli. The line was dauntingly long but we only waited about 15 minutes before being seated.

Carnegie Deli

Oh what an adventure. We feasted on borsht…


…matzo ball soup…

matzo ball soup

…two rounds of fresh homemade pickles…


…a meat & potato filled knish…

meat knish

…a savory flounder sandwich…


…and a pastrami sandwich the size of my head…


Everything was so darn delicious! I loved the pastrami and could barely stop dipping it into horseradish and stuffing it in my mouth. Amazing. I will be back!

I really wanted my parents to act and feel as if they were on a mini vacation but they had other plans. My mom came with a mental to-do list for my apartment and my dad was her sidekick. Because of this, we waddled to the nearest train station after lunch and headed to the Upper West Side for more apartment-decoration shopping (my least-favorite shopping ever). It wasn’t fun but now I have a new rug and towels in my bathroom, gorgeous sheer curtains, new slippers, and some new running gear that somehow managed to sneak into the shopping cart.


And then it was Christmas Eve. I went on a quick 4 mile run after breakfast while my parents walked around Central Park. At this point we were all feeling lazy after a busy few days prior, so we lounged around the apartment for a bit and then went for a short walk around my neighborhood. And guess what, I bought my New Year’s Eve dress from a thrift store! Here’s a sneak peak:

NYE dress

(This photo makes it appear much darker than it really is in real life – it’s actually a lilac color.)

This was my first ever thrift store purchase and let me tell you…I was a bit freaked out at first. But let’s be real now, in typical Manhattan fashion (literally) this thrift store featured only designer clothing and the dress I snagged was brand new and with tags! It was still expensive as heck (to me) but my mom assured me it was a fantastic buy. You’ll just have to wait until next week to see the dress!

Eventually, my mom and I made our way to the kitchen to prep Christmas Eve dinner. I’m still in awe as to how we managed to both fit into my tiny kitchen, but dinner was a success!

I baked up this coconut banana bread for dessert:

banana bread

banana bread

While my mom prepped the remainder of our simple yet delicious meal.

Roasted potatoes & carrots:

roasted veggies

Chicken breast stuffed with raisins, dates, and onions:


No fancy meal was required since it was just the three of us. Plus, that’s what champagne is for right?



The true star of the meal though was dessert from Maison Kayser. My mom waited in line for these freshly prepared beauties and oh my goodness…no words can describe how phenomenal these tasted.


(Pillowy rich chocolate filled with a luxurious passionfruit cream and topped with a macaron)

I’m not exaggerating when I declare that this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.


(Pistachio and glazed peach fruit cup)

It should pretty much be illegal to have this place located anywhere near me. I honestly have no idea how I’m gonna stay away now that I know what sort of heavenly goodness lies behind those bakery doors!


(Decadent dark chocolate torte topped with crunchy chocolate-covered garnishes and dollops of chocolate kisses)

But the night wasn’t over yet. We bundled up and went to the nearest church for midnight mass. The sugar coma came on strong and we didn’t stay long, but I’m so glad I spent some time in such a peaceful sanctuary with my parents by my side. It was a lovely way to welcome in Christmas Day at the strike of midnight.

We had big plans for breakfast the following morning:


Pancakes! More specifically, buckwheat + whole wheat pancakes with apples and kefir.

Christmas pancakes

Of course the coffee was flowing as well…always plenty of coffee.


We spent Christmas Day mostly indoors enjoying our last few hours together, although my mom couldn’t resist being a mom and cleaning anything and everything she possibly could before it was time to leave.

I felt a pretty serious wave of homesickness after seeing my parents off to the airport. New York feels like home but absolutely nothing can make it feel homier than the presence of family. These past five days were some of the most memorable ones yet for me, and I am so lucky to have parents who were willing to share my tiny studio apartment just to spend the holidays with their daughter.

♥ Irina


  1. December 26, 2013 / 4:58 pm

    I’m so, so happy to see that your parents made it to NYC for the holidays. What a special treat! And I’m sure you enjoyed not being the traveller for once. (:
    Your apartment is coming together perfectly! I love the way you’re decorating. And, of course, I can’t wait to see that dress. Merry Christmas, gorgeous!

    • December 30, 2013 / 10:32 am

      Thank you! I absolutely loved having them here, even in my tiny studio apartment where the three of us barely fit 🙂 As for my decorating skills, well they’re non-existant because my mom is the brains behind the operation (as usual).

      Happy Monday! It’s the last one of the year…yay!

  2. December 28, 2013 / 11:25 am

    Sounds like the holidays were a blast for you :)!
    As much as I like (pretending) to be a local when I visit new places, being a tourist can be more fun at times. It does take the pressure off from having to be an expert on the place you are visiting.

    • December 30, 2013 / 10:36 am

      Absolutely! I’m currently loving this “touristy” phase of my life in New York…it’s the best way to really get to know the city. The bad part is when someone asks for recommendations here and I know nothing haha