That New York Magic


On a chilly Friday night in the heart of Brooklyn the laughter and dancing was drawing to a close.  The evening wound down and last call rang out from behind the bar.  Everyone sensed the end was near, then slowly out of the speakers came an old familiar melody.

Start spreadin’ the news,

I’m leaving today

I want to be a part of it

New York, New York

Friends and neighbors gathered around, arm in arm and like a scene straight out of a Broadway show they kicked in unison while singing along.

I want to wake up, in a city

That doesn’t sleep

And find I’m king of the hill

Top of the heap


I’ll make a brand new start

of it

In old New York

If I can make it there, Ill

make it anywhere

Its up to you, New York,

New York

If there was ever a thing called New York magic, this was it.  It would make even the grumpiest of people believe that New York had something special. I’ll have to admit, this was my third time to the big apple and I never found the magical city I’d seen and read about for so many years.  To be honest, I always deemed myself much more of a London person if forced to choose.

My first trip to New York was at 14 with my family and the first thought that came to mind stepping out of Penn Station onto the city streets was, “Man this place smells bad!”

Two days ago I once again stepped out of Penn Station onto 7th Avenue and thought,

“Man this place smells bad!  In fifteen years you couldn’t make it smell any better? Graffiti, garbage, rats… I see you’re still here too.”

As I headed toward Herald Square to catch the M train to Brooklyn, suitcase in hand, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people.  Black friday had hit NYC in a big way.  As I crossed onto 34th Street I looked up and saw the remnants of the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade lingering in shop windows and atop buidings surrounding the square.  This is it, I thought.  This is the magic.

Every year since I was little I would watch the Macy’s parade in the living room with my Mom and sister while my Dad prepped Thanksgiving dinner. Every Christmas season we would watch movies like Miracle on 34th Street along with many other old Hollywood classics and get lost New York of another time.  Nowhere else in the world could bring back all those memories and feelings of joy except New York.

The magic really isn’t New York the city, the magic for me is in the feelings and memories that New York represents.  At it’s core New York is just a city with regular people.  Regular people who wake up, go to work and live everyday lives.  The magic happens when you’re walking down the street and stop to say “Wow, that means something.”  Not every city can do that.

We visit for the New York magic. The moment of magic is why we put up with the smell and the fact that breakfast in a shanty shack is $50 and they put cauliflower in omelettes, a place where cauliflower does not belong.  We ignore the fact that next to the fancy restaurant is a bag of poop and an abandoned cardboard house.  We put up with all of that because at the end of the day when you find that small piece of New York magic, you are awfully glad you came.


If you’re curious about New York life or interested in travelling there, check out these books:

Post Vacation Blues

I’ve got the blues.  And not the musical kind.  I’ve got the post vacation blues.  They started last Wednesday.  They started before I even left.  They started as my vacation was winding down.  The thought of leaving magical worry free vacation land was too much for me to handle.  The grief swept in early.

Those travel commercials are all too convincing.  You spend a year dreaming about your escape from the mundane repetitiveness of every day life.

“Come away to the peaceful tranquility”
“Relax in the soothing hot springs of Jamaica while jet skiing around the islands or explore the enchanting streets of Europe and all that history has to offer.”
“Enjoy culinary experiences beyond your wildest dreams.”


They sure do sell you don’t they.  Why wouldn’t you want to go.  Get away!  Enjoy!  There are no diets on vacations.  Cellulite and flabby bits are non existant.  No one cares because you’re in paradise!  Vacation is amazing!!

Here’s what no one warns you about, you’ve waited all year for this trip and then on day 4 you realize, “ahhh my vacation is halfway over.”  This is not a pleasant experience but you pull yourself out of this funk and attempt to enjoy your last blissful moments of vacation however inevitably vacation ends and you’re back to reality.  Reality bites.

What’s that over there?  Oh it’s just post vacation blues and they’re headed your way.  This time they hit me like a hurricane.  Maybe it’s because this was my last vacation of the year.  Nothing else is on the books and nothing will be because once again I overspent.  Always happens, never regret.

Yesterday, in the middle of my funk, I turned to a most trusted source to find a solution to my problem: Google.  What I found was that alas, post vacation blues are a real thing!  At least according to Google.

Web MD describes Post Vacation Blues as follows:


Yes! Web MD you understand and you even provide a solution:


Basically make sure you have some time off to recuperate when you get back.  Got it.


People on vacation tend to drink more alcohol and stay up late.  Also if you have children confined to a hotel room, this might cause you to drink.  Watch your alcohol and sleep.  This is easier said than done.  You’re on vacation.


Tip 3 was not applicable.  The larger explaination says try not to annoy your significant other or family…ummm that’s vacation.


On vacation you eat food like your life depends in it.  This way when you go home you feel like an inflated platypus you then look forward to drinking water and eating green things.  Continue the trend!

Good advice?  Decent and logical but still not helping my funk.  Let’s look at  another trusted source:  Wikipedia.


Tiredness, yes.  Loss of appetite, never.  Strong feelings of nostalgia, absolutely.  Let’s look at the treatment:


Wikipedia, I can’t plan a new vacation already! I spent all my money on this one, weren’t you listening!!

I wonder what Similar Moods are:


Hahahahahaha.  These are clearly all serious medical conditions.

What I’ve gathered from my Internet search is that post vacation blues are serious and real.  The internet doesn’t lie.

All my research provided me with this: a much needed laugh.  I’m sure in a few days I will come back around to ordinary life.  It just takes some time and a few giggles.


All in the Framily

When you tell people that you’re headed to England to watch the Rugby World Cup and visit some friends they typically respond by saying, “you must really like rugby” or “those must be really good friends.”  Well the simple answer is yes and yes.  Why WOULDN’T I want go to England anyway?…look at it!


My love of rugby and of England just so happen to be forever intertwined.  The story is a long one so lets start at the very beginning…

Once upon a time a 17 year old mustache-free college freshman decided to join a rugby team.  Quickly the man learned to love the game and got to travel the world.


After years of playing rugby, and then playing more rugby, the man got married to a beautiful wife.  A few years later the man befriended a British import who showed up to play for the team.  After practice, at the local watering hole, the men and their wives became friends. The rest as they say is history.

As these tales usually go, the following spring both couples had their first baby girls, only a few months apart.  Three years later two more baby girls arrived.  This, my friends, began the Callen/Bailey Framily.


The term ‘Framily’ (a combination of the words friend and family; or referring to friends who are like family) was created by my college roommate circa 2004. More recently the term has become popular but I’m fairly certain she deserves the credit.

Framilies are an important part of life.  Although you are not related by blood, they become a part of your history and bring undoubted value to your life.  When I moved across the country and away from my family, the adjustment period was difficult.  Holidays became lonely and the little things like movies or Sunday dinner become something that you long for.  It’s not easy to be without a support system.  Its times like these that you come to truly appreciate what you have and the people around you.  Luckily over the past several years I have adopted numerous Framilies  who have been there and supported me through the ups and downs of life.  For that I am eternally grateful.

Often people diminish the roll of Framilies and give families all the credit when in fact framilies are incredibly important and life wouldn’t be half of what it is without them.  We all need somebody to lean on. We should all be thankful for family as well as our Framily each and every day.

Now back to the story…

Through our friendship Framily, the English Bailey’s were intermixed.


They’re just as crazy and loud as the Americans, don’t let them fool you.




Eventually the Callen/Bailey Framily went from playing on rugby sidelines, drinking juice boxes and trying to avoid getting hit, to growing up.  We moved apart, some of us farther than others, but with this kind of history we are stuck with each other.  We’ve celebrated births and deaths.  Weddings and birthdays.  We drink, we laugh.  We hug, we cry.  We are there through the good times and the bad because that’s just what Framilies do.







Olde Milwaukee Home

For better or worse your hometown is woven into the fibers of who you are.  Whether you live there or not, it will always be your home.  Milwaukee is my home.

10505580_10101237759417596_7966205615181232231_nThe name Milwaukee comes from the Ojibwe language meaning “Gathering place by the water” and it more than lives up to its name.  Milwaukee was once a booming industrial town, thriving off of manufacturing, grain exportation, motorcycles and beer.  Beer came from the Germans who made their way to Milwaukee beginning in the early 1800’s. Milwaukee was an attractive homestead due to its potential for trade and agriculture distribution throughout the Midwest.

Soon after the first wave of German immigrants arrived in Milwaukee with beer, Polish immigrants began flooding to settlements on the south side while Italians immigrants took up residence in the Third Ward. Third Ward Sign

For hundreds of years the Third Ward housed an Italian produce exchange that fed the city.  Ironically today that market is a parking lot used for the summer festivals that celebrate cultural heritage.  Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals, the most popular being Summerfest, German Fest and Irish Fest.



We celebrate our heritage because less than 200 years ago Milwaukee was a growing city of immigrants all hoping to find the American dream. Throughout the 20th century Milwaukee became most famous for Harley Davidson Motorcycles and the Miller Brewing Company.  As my boyfriend found out, Milwaukeans are passionate about Miller beer.  Miller, along with Pabst, Blatz and Schlitz called Milwaukee home with pride.

As the twentieth century drew to a close, however, jobs and industry disappeared. Milwaukee was becoming a shell of its former greatness.  One by one the breweries left. The tanneries closed.  Textile manufacturing moved overseas and the warehouses sat bare.  Vacant buildings began to line the streets and rivers, a constant reminder of what used to be in Olde Milwaukee.

To me this was normal.  Growing up in the late 90s, this was the Milwaukee I loved.  Nothing ever changed and I liked it that way!   The rundown Irish pub where my parents met was filled with unchanged memories.  Even the abandoned lakefront Coast Guard station, decrepit from years of neglect, held a nostalgic place in my mind.

A running joke is that someone turned the lights off in 1987 and that’s where Milwaukee has remained.  Yes, some Milwaukeans needs to stop dressing like its 1987…but then again, aren’t hipsters making it cool again?  Other people joke that all we do is drink beer and eat bratwurst with a side of cheese curds.  To these people I say, your city clearly needs to have more fun!

A few days ago I returned home for Labor Day weekend and realized something pretty spectacular: Milwaukee turned the lights on!


Slowly but surely industry is back and Milwaukee is revamping its style without losing the olde world history that makes it so special.11221899_10101235259592266_5317610789231580621_n

The Pabst breweries have been vacant for a few decades but thanks to Joseph J. Zilber Historical Restorations and the City of Milwaukee, the Pabst complex is now home to several new businesses, a new hotel and Jacksons PBR Bar with more to come.

All the warehouses down by the river have been turned into apartments for the under 30 professionals and that old coast guard station was torn down.  I have to admit the lake front looks a whole lot better without it.

Watching my city change was hard at first.  When you live far away sometimes you wish everyone would just turn the lights off until you get back.  Life doesn’t work that way and I can’t wait to see what else Milwaukee has to offer the next time I’m in town.





Wednesday Workout Series


The phrase ‘Spin Class’ had been known to strike fear in the hearts many.  Sit bones around the world scream “please just leave me alone!”

Once upon a time I too was one of these people.  My first spin class was in college.  I was slightly overweight and in what I thought was mediocre shape.  I mean my diet consisted of food court pizza and cheese tortellini, carbs and dairy are on the food pyramid!  To this day I can barely eat pasta but that’s a story for another time.

I left that first spin class early.  I’ll admit it, I was a wimp and faked an injury.  An injury to my ass.  For years I never went to another spin class saying “It’s not for me.”

Then a few years ago I begrudgingly went with a friend.  This time, did my butt hurt? Yes.  Did I have fun? Yes! From then on I slowly started adding spin classes to my workout regimen and the truth is the first class is the hardest.  After that you hurt less and start challenging yourself at your own pace.  The difficulty is entirely up to you.  YOU are the master of your own destiny (had to say that!)

Aside from the amazing workout and the pumping music, spin has become a therapy session for me.  It’s a place where I can zone out (the bikes are stationary so you won’t fall, because I would) and release stress.  One time, I even cried.  Not the snotty, can’t catch your breath cry but a cry nonetheless.   My body just needed a release during a stressful time.

If you need a release, a new workout or just want to try spinning please checkout a local spin class and let me know how it goes!

Happy Workout Wednesday,


If you’re in the Fredericksburg area, Fly Fitness has a FREE Wednesday night Spin Class.  Sign up on the website by clicking this link Fly Fitness

Hometown Favorites

As I sit across from my boyfriend at his favorite local dinner spot, Merk’s Place, I can’t help but get excited for my impending trip home.  Nothing gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling quite like eating at a hometown favorite. 


My favorite place in the world is Gilles Frozen Custard.  My Dad has been going there since he was a kid and anyone who grew up around Milwaukee will know Gilles.  It is the quinissential Wisconsin Frozen Custard stand.


Wisconsinites pride themselves on three things: the Packers, cheese curds and frozen custard.  When I first moved to Virginia I went to a place that advertised Wisconsin Frozen custard.  I was excited for a taste of home and while the custard was okay the feeling of home just wasn’t there. Plus they didn’t have cheeseburgers!  It is a requirement to also sell burgers the size of your head at a custard stand! 

Some of you may ask, what in the world is frozen custard?  I know what you’re thinking, frozen custard sounds disgusting!  Well, its not.  I don’t claim to be a frozen custard expert but I think it’s ice cream with egg yolks and extra milk fat.  I eat it, I don’t make it.

Anyway, no matter if you still live in your hometown or you moved far away like me, sometimes the best thing in the world is to sit with the ones you love in a place that feels like home!

Happy Eating