Music Monday: #MotivationMonday Remix Edition

Happy Monday!  It’s official, I have two work weeks left before I do my first sprint triathlon.  I am nervous, excited, and having all the feels that one can have for not being very athletic to begin with and attempting a very athletic feet.

Along with running, I have been swimming and biking as well to prepare, because #Tri.  So, today’s #MotivationMonday playlist was inspired by a recent spin class I took at Lincoln Square Athletic Club, because I was feelin’ the vibes of stellar remixes that the instructor was playing.  So I thought, why not share some of my favorite workout remixes that are great for anyone’s ride whether you’re in a class or not.

Get out on that trail or keep turnin’ up on your own stationary bike to this pumpin’ list.  What do you jam out to on your rides?  Comment below!
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Travel: Less than 72 Hours in NYC

I’m very lucky to have friends and family that live in the Big Apple! When I visit, it’s a whirlwind tour of everything that I need to eat and drink, all while catching up with some awesome people.

Travel - North and Red - New York - Friends

Here’s a few of the cool places I got to check out on my most recent visit over the 4th of July weekend!

But First, Coffee

Travel - North and Red - New York - Fika

Fika Coffee, Multiple Locations
I love love love coffee, and in the summer in NYC you need some good iced coffee to get your day started.  Fika has a simple coffee menu without too many fancy drinks, but definitely does regular cold and hot brews right.  Their lattes are also on point.  If you’re fueling a full day of touring I recommend their “power bars” which are really like candy bars, but hey with 16 grams of protein that’s nothing to snuff at in regards to getting your energy boost!  Totally a vay cay treat and not to be had on the reg unless you’re super active and burn calories like crazy.

Where to Roll

Travel - North and Red - New York - Burger and Lobster

Burger and Lobster, 39 W 19th Street, Flat Iron District NYC
One of the first things I need to eat when I touch down on the East Coast is a Lobster Roll.  One of my newest finds was Burger and Lobster, because it’s an AMAZING deal.  20 bucks gets you a roll, fries and salad. Just the roll alone can run you 15-30 bucks in NY or anywhere, so for this to include two sides with a hearty portion of seafood, I say “yesssss please.”

Share with Friends

Travel - North and Red - New York - Toro

Toro, 85 10th Ave, Meatpacking District NYC
This was one of the best new places I tried!  Toro is a tapas restaurant in the meat packing district that has a fantastic atmosphere, great people watching, and delicious food.  Slightly upscale, but still approachable and casual, this is a great place to go with a small to mid-sized group of friends for a great meal.   Notable dishes were the Pimientos Del Padron, Datiles Con Jamon, Jamon Serrano, Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotilja, Pulpo, and Empanada De Pollo Y Patatas.

Fancy Drinks

Bathtub Gin, 132 9th Ave, Chelsea NYC
Looking for great cocktails that no one can find?  This place is an homage to prohibition era, and is located literally behind a coffee shop storefront.  Look for a coffee shop from the street, then walk on through to find this hidden gem.  Their cocktails are mostly gin-based, but have a full menu with a variety of classic and new mixology-based cocktails to satisfy anyone’s whim.  Notable cocktails: Shirley’s Temple and Blonde Ambition.

Quintessential Brunch Goals

Travel - North and Red - New York - Penelope

Penelope Cafe, 159 Lexington Ave, Midtown East – Kips Bay NYC
No trip to NYC is complete without #brunchgoals.  Penelope has been a favorite of mine, and a mainstay for locals since 2003. This comfy spot is good for hangovers or to enjoy a great brunch bevvy.  The queue can be long especially on weekends, so feel free to put your name in and go grab a quick coffee and check out the neighborhood.  If you’re venturing on a weekday here, breakfast, and dinner offer great options.  It’s very “chick” friendly during the dinner hour, so think SATC #squadgoals. Also, I highly recommend a slice of red velvet cake no matter what time of day.   Notable brunch items: Salmon wrapped poached eggs and Nutella French Toast.

Seafood with a View

Travel - North and Red - New York - Brooklyn Crab

Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn NYC
#PatioTimes for daaaays here at BK Crab.  This place is great for everything outdoors and is apparently great in the winter too.  Grab yourself some fresh oysters, fried seafood, or a seafood pot… whatever you get it’s ALL good.  In addition to some seriously fresh seafood fare, they have entertainment and views that make you feel like you’re not even in NY.  But then you take a look around and realize, this is definitely Brooklyn with the cast of characters surrounding you.  Worth the trek from the mainland.
Pro tip: Take the FREE Ikea Boat from Pier 11.  Notable dishes: Blue Crab Roll, Seasonal Oysters, and the BK Steampot for 1.

Patio Times

Travel - North and Red - New York - Lavendar Lake

Lavender Lake, 383 Carroll Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn NYC
So, I have to admit I was super disappointed with my visit to Lavender Lake, because they offer alcoholic slushies on Fridays and Saturdays and I went on a Sunday (insert sad face emoji).  So, despite not getting the draaaaanks that I wanted, the atmosphere and patio at Lavender Lake is totally worth checking out.  Next time I will be in for some fancy drinks and food!  But for now, their atmosphere won me over.

Tiki with a Twist

Zombie Hut, 273 Smith Street, Gowanus – Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn NYC
Looking for strong frozen drink with some flare?  Zombie Hut has got an array of fruity strong cocktails to satisfy a hot summer night on the patio.  It’s also super cool and fun inside, so I am torn whether I say go for their patio or go for some inside times.  Regardless what you choose, there’s board bames, fun drinks and a great atmosphere inside and out.  Notable Drink: The Frozen Zombie.

Neighborhood Vibes

Travel - North and Red - New York - Bar Tabac

Bar Tabac, 128 Smith Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn NYC
If ever there were a “feeling” that you’re in Brooklyn this place is it. The candle lit, euro influenced dishes and random artisty types that hang out here make you feel right at home.  Whether you’re settling in for a chill date or throwin’ back some wine with friends this is a neighborhood joint that anyone can enjoy.  Comfort food galore and live music 4 nights a week makes me wish I lived around the corner.  Notable dishes: Burger Bar Tabac and Couscous Merguez.

Where all the Cool Kids Hang

Travel - North and Red - New York - Gansavoort

Gansavoort Park Avenue Hotel, 420 S Park Ave, Midtown East – Flat Iron District NYC
I was fancy during my visit this time and got the opportunity to stay at the Gansavoort Park Ave.  I recommend this place because it was a luxurious hotel without being stuffy.  It’s also a great neighborhood location that is convenient to getting to lots of tourist areas, without being in tourist central.  The bi-level rooftop during the day was a fantastic place to sun bathe, hit the pool and grab a delish snack like their guac with plantain chips.  Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, hitting their rooftop bar, The Drift for some cocktails and views is definitely a great idea if you’re in the area.  If you’re up for some cluuuub times see about hitting the VIP Red Room for some DJ, dancing and a scene.

And Hey, it’s Okay to Be a Tourist

Travel - North and Red - New York - Eataly

Eataly, 200 5th Ave,Flat Iron District NYC
I love going to off the beaten path places, but it’s a-okay to enjoy places that are touristy central, including Eataly.  Eataly is a unique market place chef-driven and totally amazing, so don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t help indulging in their artisanal market shopping, delightful desserts or going carbie barbie and sitting down to a hearty pasta or pizza dish.  No judgments over here, because Eataly is the best!

Always looking forward to more NYC finds next time I visit!  Comment below with your favorite places to eat, drink and parte!  Would love to check them out soon!

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Music Monday: Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!  I know everyone is probably out there firing up the barbecue, mixing that potato salad and making a mad dash to the store for more booze, so here’s a quick #MotivationMonday update!

Today’s #MondayMotivation playlist has a patriotic theme, so I encourage you to jump on your bike, get out there for a run or go do something active even if it’s just for a little bit to celebrate FREEDOM.

Fourth of July  - North and Red - Lurie Cancer Survivors’ Celebration 5k 2016
Lurie Cancer Survivors’ Celebration 5k, June 2016

Last year I ran my first 5k run.  This year I ran two in the span of a few weeks and even shaved off 2 minutes on my time!

Fourth of July - North and Red - Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation 5k Run 2016
Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation 5k Run, June 2016

I’m 6 weeks away from doing my first sprint triathlon and every day counts.  I’ll be bustin’ a move to these jams today and I hope you get out there and do something to burn off all those weekend calories too!

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Music Monday: #MondayMotivation Hipster Edition

My first #MondayMotivation post in May featured my super duper #GirlPower playlist to get you on the road to summer bod training season.  I was jammin’ out with myself walkin’ down the street the other day when it hit me.  I realized that hipsters have to work out too, right?! I don’t know about you, but some of the hipsters I know are in seriously good shape to fit into their tight ass skinny pants.

Today’s playlist features a few of my favorite “hipster”-ish bands to change up your workout routine.

~M~ Tip: This is a great work out mix for rainy or cold days!

What tunes do you work out too?  Girl Power?  Hipster?  Metal?  Comment below and let me know what jams keep you motivated!

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Music Monday: #MondayMotivation

Happy May!  I’m super excited about today’s Music Monday post, because not only is it a brand new month, it’s also my half birthday!

For me this is that time of year when I think about what I’ve accomplished at <Insert Age>.  Since my birthday last November, I have undergone a lot of changes.  And although I don’t always notice it on a daily basis, I do feel that I have grown a lot.  With that said, today I’m super excited to kick off May with a #MotivationMonday #MusicMonday Playlist!

One of the things I struggle to stay motivated with is working out.  Last year at this time I started preparing to run my very first 5k run ever.  How does someone that doesn’t like running get motivated to run a 5k you ask?  With amazing tunes to keep me pumped and a handy dandy iphone app called 5k Runner Pro ($2.99 at the itunes and android app stores).

Over the course of this 8 week program (3 days a week) of runs, you can literally go from not having run in years to being able to run a 5k!  I am NOT a runner, but this was an easy to follow program that you listen to while you’re exercising instructing you to run and walk in intervals.  This process of upping the intervals over the 6 weeks is so gradual and doable that by the end, you’re ready for race day!

In addition to getting your interval instructions, you can play your own music in the background and still get your walking/running instructions.  Today’s #MusicMonday list is perfect for training, because I have curated this list to be 45 minutes with a  warm up and cool down built into the mix, so you can have a great work out!

~M~ Tip: Thinking about doing a run or walk/run… here’s a link to find one near you!  Sometimes just setting a date to do a race is the motivation you need to start training!  GO FOR IT!

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PS This list is all about Female Empowerment, but that’s not to say there aren’t some serious jams by some dudes out there! So there will be more #MotivationMonday lists to come. I Promise!

Music Monday: Prince

Another great loss for music this year…. Prince.

As I sat at my temp job last week scrolling through social media feeds, I was struck and put into immediate shock by this news.

The outpouring of support, posts, and articles since the news broke is a tribute to the person that he was and the kind of impact he had, not only in the music industry, but for our culture.  And, in a world that is so caught up with defining race, separating genders and making us decide who we are and who we can love, everyone loved him for exactly who he was.

“Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.” – Prince

The irony here is that I am posting this into the digital media space, but I wanted to point out that one of my favorite reactions to his passing was MTV’s.  By going back to where it all began, airing his music videos.

Growing up that’s where I learned about what music was, by seeing artists like Prince through this creative lens that was like nothing else in our daily lives through the television.  In a world where we are constantly bombarded with content, sometimes I am not as inspired as I once was.  Through his and other great artists passing, I realize that no one is invincible and you should live for today.

“Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” – Prince

What inspires this blog and posting on Music Mondays is amazing artists and people… I only hope to be one of those amazing people that everyone remembers as well someday.

RIP, Prince.

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Garfield Park Conservatory

Happy April!  In Chicago, our weather is unpredictable and it’s not quite “April Showers bring May flowers.”  So if you’re visiting Chicago or tired of the Chicago winter weather my new favorite way to escape is the Garfield Park Conservatory!

Garfield Park Conservatory - Chicago - North and Red

The conservatory has been there for over 100 years, I have lived in or around Chicago for over 30 and I can’t believe I just discovered this fantastic place!  What’s great is admission is always FREE so whether you’re looking to sit and meditate in the Desert Oasis House or take the whole family to enjoy the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden.

Garfield Park Conservatory - Spring Garden Show - Chicago - North and Red

If you’re ready for Spring in Chicago like I am you should check out the Annual Spring Flower Show, Colorwise featuring Luftwerk’s conservatory-wide installation Solarise.  

2016 Spring Flower Show: Colorwise
Horticulture Hall at the Garfield Park Conservatory
Runs February 13th – May 8th during Conservatory Hours

The Garfield Park Conservatory is Located at 300 North Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624.  There’s parking available and it’s also accessible via the CTA Green Line (Conservatory/Central Park Station).

You can find another great article about the Garfield Park Conservatory and more Chicago finds from my fellow spotters and I at Spotted by Locals: Chicago Edition.

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Music Monday: 2016 Grammys Recap

I used to watch all award shows religiously as a child.  I dreamed of one day gracing the red carpet.  And hey!  It could still happen, so this post is not about what my signature look would be according to my 13 year old self.  I will say that the meaning of the awards has changed for me over the years.  And, in defense of award shows, so have my tastes.  Regardless of my personal views about this year’s nominees here’s some of the best things that happened.

Hamilton took home Best Musical Theater Album and included a rapping thank you speech.

“Uptown Funk” artists Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars took home Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.  Almost better than their win was this car karaoke moment with the Biebs and James Corden paying tribute on the way to the event.

Alabama Shakes took home Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Performance for “Don’t Wanna Fight.”

Lady Gaga helped us pay our respects to the late David Bowie.

Taylor Swift opened up the night with her new single “Out of the Woods.” She not only knocked her performance out of the park, but she also took home a three of the seven nominations she had.  One of which was the first time in history for a woman to win Album of the Year more than once in their career #GirlBoss.

On the red Carpet, she channel her retro vibes and although it wasn’t 1989-esque it was definitely circa 1999 Ten Things I Hate About You.

And through it all, Adele was rolling in the deep with some serious sound issues that were of no fault of her own.  #ShitHappens



Music Monday: 2016 Oscars

Last night the 88th Annual Academy Awards aired.  Bravo to Leo and all the winners!

Aside from Chris Rock’s societal commentary about racism and girl scout cookies, other entertaining parts were the performances of some of this year’s best original song for a film nominees.  So, congrats to Sam Smith who looked on fleek, sang like a bird and won his first Oscar!

All of the songs this year were great and totally deserve a listen so be sure to check them out!


Music Monday: Sia

Sia’s last album, 1000 Forms of Fear gained her a much deserved nod from the Grammy Awards with 4 nominations that put her in the popular spotlight.  Although, she prefers for people to not know what she looks like, so she can lead a normal uninterrupted life from the paparazzi, which has the world questioning who is Sia? What’s her deal?

Covered up or not, in real life Sia doesn’t hold back in the studio or in sharing her music.  I have loved her music since her 2008 album, Some People Have REAL Problems.  Her style of composing continues to evolve and she continues to gain relevance in today’s music scene.  The release of her new album This Is Acting is definitely another triumph despite the fact that it’s contents are someone else’s trash.

The past decade has been an interesting time in popular music with a return to earlier days when songwriters are brought in to write hits and songstresses like Bae get fame and glory. So, when I learned that many of the songs on Sia’s new album were the leftovers that were passed up by big artists, you have to wonder, was it ever really meant for those people to sing?

I recently was reminded of the story of Carole King’s claim to fame.  She has a similar story to Sia, where for many years she wrote songs for other artists and not for herself.  When she felt she had an album that had to be in her own voice she did, and won four grammies for it.

I can’t claim to understand or know Sia personally, but her seventh solo album definitely showcases her understanding of her craft and even if the songs were meant for other artists, it doesn’t show, because she owns it like the OG #GirlBoss that she is.

On the first track of her new album you’re drawn in with “Bird Set Free.”  It was the perfect way to set the tone for this album, with lyrics like “And I don’t care if I sing off key, I find myself in my melodies, I sing for love, I sing for me.”  It’s a true testament to how empowered she is to produce these songs and give them life, even if tracks like this were meant for Adele.

Moving into her second track “I’m Alive” I couldn’t imagine anyone else giving a more powerful vocal performance.  Again, written for Adele who could definitely rock this song, however there’s a depth to Sia that is different, raw and totally organic when she sings this track.

The album has variety of feels and voicing, but her identity isn’t lost.  Songs like “Cheap Thrills,” “Sweet Design,” and “House On Fire” could have easily been passed off to some younger pop stars on the scene, but her unique vocals creates a more mature and authentic experience for the listener throughout.