Where to start? We did an armload of stuff with the friends this week, including all the must sees for a first-timer like the Highline, Chelsea Market, Times Square, The Strand bookstore, Vosgue Chocolate, Central Park, Museum of Natural History,  The Met, and FAO Schwarz (almost all of which we did last week with cousin and parents). We did deviate from the norm a little this time and got to experience some new things.

Our friends Jay and Emily are bird nerds, bird lovers, bird rescuers, they majored in Birding, basically a breathing encyclopedia of bird knowlegde. They’re actually on the way to a job in Maine where they will spend the summer studying terns, egrets and herons. It involves camping all summer long on the small island of Stratton, using a solar panel to get their electricity, a composting toilet, a boat if they must leave the island, washing their clothing in the ocean, showering under a plastic bag of sun-warmed water – basically my hell. I think I could do it for one, maybe two nights. That one time in Japan where we slept on very thin mats in a garage and washed ourselves with wet wipes, I wanted to die. I spent all night freaking out about when I would get my next shower (and worrying about bugs crawling in my mouth since I was only inches from the ground). In the morning, I discovered that there was a shower in the big house, crisis averted. So…maybe a half day on the island and I’d need to swim to shore.

Our “hotel room” in Japan.

Back to the birds watchers, it was fun going to the Natural History Museum with them because normally I’d have no interest whatsoever in those flying-poop-on-my-car-creatures (I don’t dislike birds, I’d rather look at an otter though), but with two new sets of eyes, they pointed out birds in displays I would have never glanced at before. We played “Name that Bird” and tested them on about 300 species of bird names, and I think they got about 275 right.

Name That Bird!

Also, while on the fourth floor a rouge butterfly from the Butterfly exhibit on the 1st floor landed on my arm and hung out for 20 minutes. Does that mean I’ll be crowned Queen next week or should I buy a lottery ticket. I finally made him leave, and he went right for Peter’s shoulder. I then tried finding a window or anyway to set him free, but in the end we had to leave him with the dinosaurs.

Jay is gluten-free these days (and 4 of us are vegetarians), so it made picking a place to eat a whole new adventure. We found a gluten-free bakery downtown to check out – BabyCakes, and it was adorable and delicious.

In their own words “In a city dominated by cupcakes overflowing with sugar, flour and butter cream, it’s easy for those with persnickety diets to feel left out. BabyCakes offers all-natural, organic and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. Rest assured, all sweeteners have been chosen responsibly and used sparingly. White sugar will never be found in our bakery, nor will we ever use toxic chemical sweeteners. Instead, most products are sweetened with agave nectar—a natural syrup from a cactus which is low on the glycemia index and often a safe alternative to most non-insulin dependant diabetics. Occasionally, unprocessed and unrefined sugar is used in certain goods, although sparingly.”

I ordered a spelt spicy cheddar biscuit and a gluten-free cookies-n-cream donut. (Spelt is a gluten free wheat). The biscuit was the best biscuit I’ve ever had. I think I could make it will my friend Jaclyn’s famous cheesy biscuit recipe and add the red pepper flakes. I’ll let you know how that turns out. I was too full and my mouth was burning too much to even eat the donut, but I tried a bite later and it was yumm. As was the mint cupcake, and banana coconut donut. The frosting on the banana coconut was basically slightly maserated mashed bananas – mouthwatering.

Gluten Free Banana Coconut Donut

Much more places and foods to tell you about from this week, so stay tuned for Waffles and Dinges, the Brooklyn Bridge, Afghan food, Barbies, hairdo’s on a subway, and the winner of 2nd place for “Place I can only be for half a day before I run away screaming” award aka Coney Island.


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