Butter Avenue

3 years. It took me 3 years to get around to trying this lovely bakery/pastry store. My best friend and I talked about trying this place in our final years of university and we never got around to doing so. I am finally happy to say that I finally ventured into this little shop and purchased some macarons to taste.

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Two boxes of 6 and a mini macaron cup

 

The Butter Avenue location I went to was the one on Queen Street (super close to the airbnb place I stayed at the last time I went to visit). The shop offered many different flavoured macarons and some baked goods. I was only interested in the macarons where I purchased two boxes (one for myself and the other for a friend) and one mini mac cup for my sister.

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Mini Macaron Cup

The mini macaron cup was honestly way too cute to pass up on. The flavours that were offered in this cup were Raspberry, White Chocolate Strawberry, Earl Grey, Sea Salted Caramel, Pistachio Wild Cherry and Soothing Lavender (which is hidden in the back). My sister tried them all and she said they were super soft. Her favourite one was the raspberry and the sea salted caramel macarons.

My box of 6 came in a little yellow carton box that was tied together with this white twistable tie. When you opened it up, each of the macarons were displayed in a neat little row.

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Flavours in order (left to right) – Sea Salted Caramel, Earl Grey, Hojuicha Roasted Green Tea, Madagascar Vanilla, Lemon Poppyseed and Berry Punch

Above are the macarons that I had handpicked from the selection they had at the store.

Each any every one of these flavours were great on its own and I couldn’t help myself from finishing all of them in one sitting. They were bite-sized and super soft. I couldn’t get over how delicious they were. The colours were vibrant which made them even more appealing to eat.

From the 6 that I had picked, I vote the Sea Salted Caramel and the Earl Grey as my top 2 macarons. The Lemon Poppyseed was a good one too. I had eaten these macarons with a cup of Orange Pekoe tea (which I highly recommend doing if you wanted to cleanse your palette between the macarons).

Overall I had a great experience with Butter Avenue. The staff were very kind and helpful. They gave suggestions on which macarons to try and which were their top sellers. The macarons were scrumptious and I would go again once I’m back in town.

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

Review: The Hearth

Why hello there! Miss Happy Penguin is back with another review, but this time it’s a restaurant review! During my week off (March Break since I work with kids), I had the opportunity to travel to NYC to visit my boyfriend. While on my travels, I had a layover at Toronto Pearson Airport where a former university schoolmate met up with me for a hearty lunch before going on my next flight to the Big Apple.

We saw a bunch of different restaurants, but this one was one that caught my eye the most. It had a cozy atmosphere and there was a relative amount of people there so I knew that we were able to get a spot and I knew the food was going to be good.

We sat down at a table nearer to the entrance; we could see many a people rushing to and fro to their connecting flights. The menu was straight forward and it did not take us long to decide what we wanted to have.

For starters we got the Butcher’s board which consisted of three meats (proscuitto, salami and soppresata), artisanal cheese, pate, pickled vegetables and pickles, variations of jams and mustard. My friend got one of the Hearth flatbread made with tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella, while I ordered the fish tacos. First off, the Butcher’s board was to die for. The bread that came with the board was exquisite – a hint of garlic that was not too overpowering. I enjoyed the different meats with the cheese on the breads, and you could enjoy these items without the bread as well. When I read on the menu that the pickles were made in-house, I was already quite impressed. The mustard that was included in the board was also very delicious. I most definitely put a lot of the mustard on each bite.

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Butcher’s Board

We were quite content with our mains. My classmate really enjoyed his flat bread and he said that it was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. (Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of his main.) The fish tacos that I had were lightly breaded and had a little crunch to it. The sauce that drizzled the fish tacos were wonderful with the freshly cut vegetables. I find a lot of the times, tacos are made too salty because of the sauce or they get soggy too quickly. These tacos were made very well and we both enjoyed our meals.

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Fish Tacos with a side of fries

Our server seemed a little tired but nonetheless perky. She said she had been working since 5:30am when the restaurant opened and when we were there, it had already been nearly 7 hours. I could only imagine her being extremely exhausted while serving us. We received our bills in a timely matter; although the meal itself was on the expensive side (granted we were at the airport), I enjoyed the experience all together. I was on time for my next flight and so happy to have been able to see my friend despite the short period of time we had.

This restaurant is definitely a good restaurant to visit if you have a long period of time on our layover or to wait at this airport. If you ever get a chance to go to it, I highly recommend it!

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Again

Words that have been keeping me through this long distance relationship. I swear if it weren’t for whom I am dating now, I don’t know how I would survive. Those words keep my feelings strong.

My final New York post for the time being. I am so happy I’ve reached this point. I thank you all for being so patient with my blogs.

On my last day in New York, my boyfriend and I took it easy. He made sure that I had a good meal before flying back home, so onwards we went to Formosa Cafe once again.

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Taiwanese Milk Tea and H2O

We ordered some simple drinks since it was pretty hot that day. We didn’t want to overdo it with ordering any huge drinks anyway. We were here a few days ago and we found that this was a great place for a quick meal.

We also ordered a few snacks. The last time we loved the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken so much, we ordered it once again. The rice balls were also quite good, so we ordered two this time. This also had to do with the fact that we didn’t have to share them since they were so small.

After having our quick meal, we went back to the apartment to pick up my baggage and we ventured to Laguardia Airport where I would be on my way back home.

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Excuse the words on my photo since this was one of my snaps. My boyfriend packed me a care food bag for my travels. I always travel with an empty water bottle that can be filled at the airport. I also had my trusty bag of Super Spicy Cheetos that can only be purchased in the states. These Cheetos are literally red and my lips turn slightly red after having a few at a time. My macarons were also safely tucked into this bag because I had not finished them the other day. Mr. Quackerton Jr (yes, I named him) sat comfortably in my bag along with my food.

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With my passport in hand and my care food package in hand, I was ready to head back home. A week’s worth time spent with the one you love is always so great. I look forward to seeing him once again. It’s a blessing to be able to travel and I’m glad I could share my adventure with you. Take care now!

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

September 11

9/11

Charlie stayed at home

Congee for breakfast

Taiwanese cafe – popcorn chicken and Taiwanese sausage

Flying back to Ottawa at 8pm

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

Across the Universe

Comfy outfit, check. Phone charged, check. Purse packed, check.

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I always have my outfit placed on my bed to start off my day. I find it’s very relaxing to pick an outfit after making my bed. I find a nice outfit helps me get ready for the day, and that’s the number one step to get me organized.

Once I was done with that, I ventured back to The American Museum of Natural History; It has 4 floors in total. I knew that I wasn’t able to finish the whole museum in one day, so I left the apartment relatively early to optimize my time. Unfortunately I got stuck in a huge line-up to get into the museum.

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It was a rainy and gloomy morning, so I figured a lot of tourists wanted to stay indoors that day. After a good 30 minutes waiting in line, I was admitted into the museum and ready to start my tour.

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On my second day at the museum, the exhibits that I saw were the Hayden Big Bang Theatre, Hall of Biodiversity, North American Mammals, and the Hall of Gems, Minerals and Meteorites. The day before I had gone to the hall of gems and minerals but I wanted to have a better look at the displays.

The Hayden Big Bang Theory gave me a good look at the universe. I always enjoyed learning about different planets and what it is like in space.

The biodiversity exhibit was probably my favourite exhibit on my second day. It felt like I was underwater gazing at the different species displayed. It was darker and dimly lit just like how I imagined what it was like to be many distances under water.

After a good two and a half hours, my feet wanted some rest. I thought it was about time to move to my destination. I also needed a change of pace and I made my way on the MTA to the heart of New York to Times Square.

My first stop was to buy a hot dog since I was terribly hungry after walking around, but the next stop was the Disney Store. I am a huge fan of Disney. I think I always will be. I’ve seen every Disney movie possible and I’m absolutely in love with the little Tsum Tsum plushies. I always buy them at every Disney store that I go to, and I have a huge collection. This collection is ever growing and I plan to do another update on what ones I have.

Last year they had just released the movie Inside Out, which is an amazing movie. If you were a psychology major, like myself, you’ll laugh even harder at the subtle jokes the characters make and how the plot explains people’s emotions. I adored the little character plushies that the sold for this movie.

They also sold Star Wars merchandise since the Star Wars movie was coming out. If you have not seen the movie, I definitely recommend watching the movie. I was never a Star Wars fan, but after marathoning all 6 movies before the most recent one, I was converted.

My next stop was the biggest Toys R Us Store. It honestly was one of the biggest ones that I’ve seen because it had a ferris wheel. I really was tempted to get my boyfriend to ride with me the first time I was there, but I saved him the embarrassment. One thing that I absolutely loved about this store was that it sold adult mind games. This separate section was called – Marbles – the Brain Store.

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This store sold a bunch of different mind games for all ages. I literally spent a good hour playing games with the employees. They were telling me all about the different games and how they have a range of different levels within the games.

These games were never-ending and they were not like the typical games that you play like Risk or Monopoly. I felt that it required a different way of thinking to win these games. Some of these games could also be played solo so you wouldn’t have to wait for a friend to be entertained.

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Archimedes

One of these games called Archimedes was featured on the show Big Bang Theory. I enjoyed playing these games that I was so tempted to buy a few to bring home. My highschool classmates and I occasionally host board games nights, so this would have been great to bring.

After a good hour spent playing games, I retired at Forever 21 to buy a couple of items. What I like about the Times Square Forever 21, is that there are 4 floors. Three of which are dedicated to women. I also ventured into H&M to see what new items were offered.

My day was nearing its end and I met up with my boyfriend once again after his shift. We went to Koreatown which was only a subway ride away from where he worked. Our mutual friend was meeting us for dinner, but before we met up with him, a store caught my eye.

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This store was filled with cutely designed characters and fruits. If you have ever seen any of these products before, you’ll know that it is Tony Moly.

This store has one of the cutest packaging that I’ve seen in terms of Korean products. They sell a bunch of skin care items as well as makeup items. Both of which are brightly coloured and so attractively packaged.

I bought some of their face masks and their sunscreen. I will definitely do a beauty haul and review for this brand in a later post. Once we were done looking around at the store (aka I was done looking at this store), my boyfriend and I headed next door to Five Senses to meet our friend for dinner.

This restaurant had only been open for a few months and our mutual friend suggested we give it a try.

Five Senses felt very cozy and quaint. It felt like it was a restaurant that was lived in and there were a bunch of different menu items that I had not seen before. Unfortunately they did not have Pork Bone Soup (Gamjatang) which is one of my favourite Korean main dishes, but I settled for another soup-based meal.

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Side dishes

We were immediately given a bunch of different side dishes. They vary from kimchi, pickled cucumbers, rice cakes, cold salad and potatoes.

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Rice cake with seafood and cheese

This first item we ordered was Hael Mool Ddukboki which was essentially rice cakes made with an assortment of seafoods (scallops, clams, etc.) and cheese. It’s a pretty spicy dish, so after a few bites I was down for the count.

Our table was covered with food after we received our mains. My main was a tofu soup dish that was quite similar to Gamjatang. I love soup-based dishes because of the way Koreans make their broths. I have never successfully been able to make Korean food, so whenever I go out for food, I tend to indulge in it. The whole meal was just spectacular. I was content with what we had ordered and I was satisfied.

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Pinkberry frozen yogurt

One cannot enjoy their meal without topping it off with some dessert. I was so happy to find a Pinkberry in Koreatown. It’s one of my favourite frozen yogurt places and there are only a few Canadian locations. You’ll often find me in one if I ever spot one.

Overall I had an amazing day. I thought it was quite productive and it was packed with museum-seeing, shopping and great food!

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

 

Exploring High and Low

 

Day 7 of New York blog posts. I’m nearly done with these blogs and I cordially apologize that I’ve been lacking in these posts as I have been terribly busy.

As per usual, I started my day off with a hearty breakfast of french toast and a glass of orange juice. Unfortunately I did not have access to maple syrup (being the Canadian that I am), I used honey instead. My boyfriend had to go into work today, so I used that day to check off a couple of things on my bucket list.

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I watched a few youtube beauty videos while getting ready with the help of Apple TV. It’s so useful to just be able to put everything on the big screen. I ended up just wearing a simple shirt dress with some baby blue converse and my black fringe purse from Forever 21 for the day. I did not want to carry many things as I planned on walking a lot.

My first stop was into Sephora where I picked up an assortment of items. The Sephora specialist that was helping me was super friendly and very helpful. I only had the intention of finding a new lip colour for the fall, but I ended up (obviously) buying more than I wanted.

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Sephora Haul Items

Above are the items that I picked from from Sephora. I plan to review these items later on next month, so stay tuned for those!

After literally spending an hour in Sephora, I ventured out into the streets of New York and found a Juicy Couture Ice Cream Truck.

Juicy Couture was giving out samples of their new fragrance – I Am Juicy Couture – and ice cream.

I continued walking with my scoop of ice cream in hand to my next destination – Ladurée.

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Macarons

I wrote in a previous post about la Maison Ladurée, if you wish to read more about it, follow this link.

After my little break at the pastry shop, I ventured back to the apartment to grab a quick lunch and to drop off the macarons so they wouldn’t go bad. I bought a sandwich called a Cheeky Chicken Sandwich from Cheeky Sandwiches from the restaurant below the apartment.

This restaurant was extremely small with only a few tables for the customers. Most of the customers bought their sandwiches to go, just like myself.

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Cheeky Chicken Sandwich

The Cheeky Chicken Sandwich that I ordered did not resemble a typical sandwich made with bread. It was made with a biscuit instead. The Cheeky Chicken burger contained fried chicken, coleslaw and mayonnaise. It was a decent sandwich but a little pricey at $6.50 USD. For a quick meal item, I would have to say it did its job.

After my lunch break, I was back out again but this time I found myself at the American Museum of Natural History. Since the museum had so many exhibits, I decided to take two days to walk the whole museum.

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The American Museum of Natural History

Day 1 at the museum consisted of visiting the following exhibits: Dinosaurs, Primitive Mammals, Pacific People, Reptiles and Amphibians, African Mammals, and the Hall of Meteorites, Gems and Minerals.

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How the museum was designed was that you start from the top most floor (4th floor) and you make your way downwards. The fourth floor consisted of a few exhibits from the prehistoric – aka the dinosaurs.

Heading downwards to the next floor, I saw primitive mammals. As I continued to walk the exhibits, I reached the pacific people, reptiles and amphibians. I managed to cover all of the third and fourth floor, and only walked half of the second floor.

My favourite exhibit was the hall of gems. A girl’s best friend is a diamond, right?

Since I was young, I read National Geographic for kids. My uncle subscribed to these magazines that National Geographic published for children. Every time I got them in the mail, they would be read by the end of the day. Most of my interest lied in gems and minerals. I’ve always enjoyed learning about the different ways that they were formed and where they were found around the world.

I stayed at the museum for nearly two hours and my feet were so tired afterwards. I wanted to walk more of the museum, but I was being ushered out of there since there were closing.

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Totto Ramen

In the evening, I met up with my boyfriend at his office and we went to one of our favourite ramen restaurants – Totto Ramen. We went here a couple times before but we tried another location.

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Sitting at the bar seats

We got stools at the bar so we could see all of the hustle bustle. It was really good to see how quickly the chefs made the ramen bowls and the different appetizers offered at this restaurant.

My boyfriend ordered Mega Paitan which essentially extra char siu pork and extra noodles. I ordered Miso Paitan – ground pork, half boiled egg, scallions, char sui and bean sprouts. My favourite part about ramen is the half boiled egg. I occasionally order another one because the way they make the egg is something I can’t seem to do at home.

This ramen restaurant is probably one of my most favourite ramen places in New York. They make their own broth and I find their ramen bowls is large enough to fill up the average customer (if not more). I have a big appetite so it’s good to know that I’m paying for a good amount of food. The price was not too bad as well (Mega Paitan – $16 USD and Miso Paitan – $12 USD).

We left the restaurant feeling absolutely stuffed and headed back to the apartment. It was a great day and I was happy to say it was a productive one!

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

Ladurée

Round French sweet little meringue confections. Sounds lovely, does it not? This describes one of the most popular desserts in the decade. Every girl seems to go crazy over these little cakes. I would not particularly describe them cakes, but more of a small simple dessert.

While on my travels, I made sure to visit one of the most famous bakeries that made macarons. Multiple times have I tried macarons, but each time I’m left with the impression that they are much too sweet or too dry. Although I’ve had bad experiences with macarons, I told myself that I would give Ladurée a try.

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Entrance

Walking the streets of New York, I came across the SoHo Ladurée location and was greeted by the famous Ladurée green doors. I went straight into the pastry shop to find an assortment of macarons and desserts sold at the counter.

There were so many macarons that my eyes were blinded by all the colour. They had a little booklet that described the different flavours sold at this location. I bought myself half a dozen and another for a friend to bring back home.

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Vanilla, Pistachio, Earl Grey, Raspberry, Rose and Coconut

After deciding on the macarons, I decided to take a seat at one of the tables and enjoy my stay at the pastry shop a little more. I chose a spot closer to the macaron counter. There were so many customers going in and out of the shop buying macarons for themselves or for others. I guess I was not the only tourist that day.

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White counters and white lights were the only things to display the macarons and the desserts. The look of the confectionary shop was a honestly a huge display of these items. It did not require much to display the confections and that was all it really needed.

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Menu

The menu was a beautiful pastel purple with the logo written at the front. I ended up ordering the famous Marie Antoinette tea with a couple of macarons.

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Iced Mint, Lemon and Orange Blossom Macarons

Everything from the plates and cup to the napkins screamed out Ladurée. The tea itself was very fragrant, before and after tasting. The server described the black tea was made with rose petals, citrus and honey. I added a little bit of milk to taste as I munched on my macarons. I did not want to order too much since I was meeting my boyfriend afterwards for dinner.

After trying the Ladurée macarons, it was safe to say that these were the best that I have ever had. The macaron was not too sweet, and the interior cream was soft and moist. I don’t particularly enjoy sweets but I was quite content with my choice to visit the pastry shop. If you ever get a chance to visit one of these locations, definitely give it a try!

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*

I Scream For Ice Cream

Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey! Sunshine and butterflies were both out that morning. Yet another relaxing day in the heart of New York. I’m not sure if you are like myself, but I always start my morning with a warm breakfast (granted that I have enough time to make it). That morning, I woke up craving a grilled cheese sandwich. I popped in an over-easy cooked egg and some sliced avocadoes to my grilled cheese as well.

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After a hearty breakfast, I had a bit of paperwork to get through as I was in the midst of applying for a job. While my boyfriend was working away from his computer, I used his big screen TV as my monitor. One of the perks of having a techy boyfriend, I got to use the big screen and I had access to Apple TV.

It was nice to just stay at home and relax once again. We definitely snacked on a lot of food while we were taking it easy at the apartment. Pocky sticks (chocolate flavoured) are one of my favourite Asian snacks. We had picked up a couple of things while we were out grocery shopping the other day. One of my favourite fruits is dragonfruit. These aren’t always sold regularly in grocery stores, but when I do see them, I’m sure to grab one.

Dragonfruit has an interesting taste; it’s sweet but not sugary sweet. The texture is a lot like a strawberry because of its seeds. If you ever get a chance to try it, definitely do!

During the evening we made a bit of a feast. Since we bought a lot of groceries the other day, we wanted to make sure none of it went to waste. We made two vegetable dishes – Kale chips and Boiled Baby Bak Choy = and two meat dishes. The pork ribs were one of my mother’s recipes and the salmon was simply pan-fried after being marinated in soya sauce, garlic and green onions. Simple meal for a simple evening.

Since we were indoors practically the whole night, my boyfriend suggested we visit the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. He had said that they had the best flavours of ice cream and that it was uncommon to find them in other ice cream stores.

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The ice cream factory was not a far walk from the apartment. The neon light sign shone brightly as we strolle down the streets of Chinatown.

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I was surprised to see how small the actual ice cream parlour was. It seemed as if a lot of the customers ordered their ice cream items to go instead of staying in to have their ice cream.

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The different flavours offered at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

I found it absolutely adorable that a character represented each flavour; all of these flavour were displayed on a board hung up on a wall. Each of the little characters had a unique facial expression that quickly brought a smile to my face. These were the flavours for Summer 2015. I definitely plan to visit again to see what other flavours will be offered then.

My boyfriend and I tried a bunch of different flavours but both settled on zen butter. I also got taro flavour on my ice cream cone while he got red bean in a cup.

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Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – Zen Butter, Taro and Red Bean

We enjoyed most of our ice creams indoors because it was terribly hot during the hot September night. It was also really nice to be able to enjoy our ice cream in air conditioning. Not sure about you, but I hate being rushed. I don’t particularly like my ice cream melting all over my hand. I could have had my ice cream in a cup (like my boyfriend) and this would have solved my predicament, but there is something about enjoying ice cream on a cone that cannot be replaced.

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We ended off our evening with another stroll to see what New York had to offer. Since we had consumed so much food, we thought it would be nice to work off some of those calories. The view was ever breathtaking of the Brooklyn Bridge was breath-taking. I felt so grateful to have been able to breathe the evening air and spend time with my significant other.

While on our walk, we spotted an interesting pieces of structure. It turns out that the city builds these “parks” to encourage individuals to exercise.

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Here is to say that we tried every one of these “machines.” I had some difficulties with some of them, but it was nice to just be able to see that the city had some of these sorts of things to offer people.

Overall a restful but productive day. I was happy to have found a local ice cream shop and I plan to visit them again to try more flavours. Ta-ta for now and I’ll post more of my travels soon!

~Miss Happy Penguin

*Believe.inspire.love.dream.optimistic.*