Adventures in New York

Friday, January 31, 2014

It's been more than two months since my latest trip to NYC, but unfortunately it's taken me this long to get this post up! While unfortunate that it's taken me this long, it's lovely to reminisce of such a lovely visit to my favourite city with my favourite person!

After visiting NYC twice a year in 2011 and 2012, I was itching to go by fall 2013. Corbin had never really had a proper visit to New York, so we decided to go together in November. There was a bunch of things happening around that time that I wanted to go to and so many restaurants that I wanted to visited and Corbin told me to go ahead and plan the itinerary - so fun! Here are some of the highlights from our time there.

Amazing Meals

The food in New York is always a highlight for me. I love adding to my list of incredible Ashley-friendly restaurants and visiting  all of my favourites. This trip certainly did not disappoint!! On our first day we stopped at two of my very favourites: Sun in Bloom and Pure Food and Wine. We had a wonderful brunch at Sun in Bloom as soon as we arrived and it was totally worth the jaunt to Brooklyn!

Sun in Bloom Brooklyn
brunch Sun in Bloom Brooklyn
Amazing sweet potato soup, breakfast burritos and scrambled tofu were gobbled up and enjoyed immensely. Our dinner at Pure that night was beyond words; everything was phenomenal and worth the 2 year wait since I had last eaten there.

Pure Food and Wine raw NYC

Pure Food and Wine raw NYC

Pure Food and Wine NYC

Pure Food and Wine raw NYC

Pure Food and Wine raw NYC

Everything at Pure was unbelievably delicious from the kale salad and raw cheese plate to our tamales and Pure's signature zucchini and heirloom tomato lasagna and our epic desserts along with sangria. It was such a special, memorable meal and Corbin's first experience with gourmet raw food. Writing about it makes me want to hop on a plane and go eat there right now... Other amazing meals included more trips to Brooklyn for Buttermilk Channel

brunch Brooklyn

and two visits to Champs (yes, it was that good!)

Champs Brooklyn
vegan gluten free Brooklyn
as well as a lovely breakfast at Peacefood Cafe on our last day. New York was good to our tummies and so easily Ashley (and Corbin!) friendly.

Wonderful Treats

The treats that we had in New York deserve their own description - they were so good!! We ended up making two visits to Babycakes because we couldn't get enough!

gluten free vegan Babycakes NYC
gluten free vegan bakery

Round one included a pumpkin eclair, cookie sandwich, churro and samoa donut. Round two had another cookie sandwich, a scrumptious scone and a pumpkin chip loaf that Corbin was adamant about getting (he said it was delicious!) I think it would be really difficult to pick a favourite from all the treats we sampled as everything was so delicious! Babycakes is just heavenly, but probably good that it's far away from my daily existence so I can only go there for treats when I'm in the city! The other noteworthy treat that we had was at Chloe's Soft Serve Fruit.

gluten free dairy free soft serve NYC

It is an awesome alternative to froyo or ice cream that is made with fresh frozen fruit and therefore has no dairy or gluten and is crazy delicious!! So many flavor options and toppings make for a really awesome and allergen friendly dessert. It's been on my list for awhile, and I will definitely be going back again and again!!

Incredible Theatre

I always feel inspired by the calibre of theatre and performers in NYC and this trip was no exception. There were some really cool shows happening while we were there and we really enjoyed everything we saw. Part of the reason we went to NYC over that weekend was because Jason Robert Brown was doing a concert at 54 Below. JRB is one of my very favourite musical theatre composers and it was wonderful to finally see him in concert and get to meet him (briefly!) after the show.
JRB New York

He played songs from so many of my favourite shows (The Last Five Years! Songs for a New World!) as well as some from shows that are on their way to Broadway (or should be!) He had an amazing group of singers with him and a stellar band; it was a great night. We also got to see Bernadette Peters in A Bed and A Chair which was really awesome.

A Bed and A Chair NYC

She is such a talent and I loved Wynton Marsalis' arrangements of Sondheim with a full jazz orchestra and the rest of the cast including Cyrille Aimée, Jeremy Jordan and. Norm Lewis. I also made my third visit to The McKittrick Hotel for Sleep No More and it still continues to be the most captivating piece of theatre I've ever experienced. It was Corbin's first time and it was really cool to discuss our different experiences and approaches to the show. The ambiance at the McKittrick before and after the show was incredible and we just loved the jazz bands playing throughout. Before we left Toronto, I received a Facebook invite from Drew Gasparini for an industry reading of his show Crazy Just Like Me starring some phenomenal performers (Alex Brightman! Jason Gotay! Andrew Kober!) and was ultra stoked to realize that it was happening while we were there. Both Corbin and I adored this show. It was funny and smart with such a talented cast and great music. It's already won some awards from various festivals it has been a part of and I can't wait to see where it goes. I felt so blessed to see so much great theatre while we were there and certainly felt inspired to up the ante in my own work!

Adventures and Magical Moments

Corbin and I are pretty good at having a lot of fun together and New York was just an even bigger playground for us! We had the best time exploring the city and discovering things together. We visited with some lovely friends including the always delightful Sheryl (complete with her NYC Marathon medal!!)

Bitchcakes Champs Brooklyn

We ventured to a New York Islanders game,

New York Islanders hockey

experienced the MOMA (for free!), walked along the Highline, navigated the NYC Metro and discovered all sorts of cute art

NYC Metro
NYC Metro art

made all sorts of new friends and frolicked in Central Park (complete with a photo shoot - thanks Corbin!). 

Central Park NYC

I often feel that extraordinary things happen when I'm in New York and this trip with Corbin proved this theory to be true once again. All sorts of really neat, magical things kept happening to us in the city. We found parking everywhere (super close to wherever we were going). We were upgraded to the dining room at 54 Below and got to sit DIRECTLY IN FRONT of Jason Robert Brown. We experienced the city at the top of an incredible rooftop in Washington Heights. When we walked into Peacefood Cafe one of our very favourite songs was playing. Simply wonderful.

All of these things + the amazing adventures, theatre, treats and meals culminated into an unforgettable trip with my love and I can't wait for us to travel more and head back to NYC together for more fun!! 

Let's Talk and Talk and Never be Quiet

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Today is Bell Let's Talk day. It's been awesome to see people using #BellLetsTalk all day on Twitter, but more importantly people have been sharing their own stories and experience with mental illness. I love that Bell donates money to mental health initiatives each time the hashtag is used or when people text today, but in my opinion the conversation that it sparks provides an even greater value.

I was speaking with someone recently about The Life is Sweet Project and the upcoming blog series. She expressed that she still felt that she was not able to share her story because of the negative stigma that was associated with it. That in her job, she could not be viewed as "unstable" and that her own struggles with mental illness had cost her work in the past. With 1 in 5 Canadians being impacted by some sort of mental health concern in their lifetime, it blows me away that there is still such a negative stigma. While it's great that days like today get the conversation started, it's especially important that it continues every day.

I'm excited to help keep the conversation going this weekend when Life is Sweet month begins on my blog for the second year. I've received some incredible submissions and really look forward to the dialogue that follows. The show is less than two weeks away and I'm proud to be honoring my mom's memory by sharing our story and getting people talking. 

It doesn't end here. Let's keep talking and never be quiet. 

This is the Beginning of Anything You Want

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We're three weeks into the new year, how's it going for you so far? I didn't write any epic posts about plans / goals / resolutions for 2014 as I ddin't feel the need to - instead I focused on getting shit done. 

You see, the end of 2013 was a bit of a weird time - I wasn't super happy with where I was at and on December 30 made the decision to change that. I left my full time job that had me commuting to Mississauga on a daily basis and decided to start fresh for the new year. Scary? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. 

The last three weeks have been stellar as I've opened The Wedding Singer (still 5 more shows and audiences have been having a blast!!), worked on getting everything ready for The Life is Sweet Project and Life is Sweet month on my blog, started a new part time job this week and began an energy exchange at one of my very favourite yoga studios. I've found a new voice teacher and am working on getting an agent. I've been spending time with some of my very favourite people and making delicious, healthy food.

gluten free dairy free dancing through life

I haven't made resolutions, but I'm really working on achieving a balance of things that I love in my life. Maybe it's the new year or maybe it's the fact that a certain birthday is around the corner, but whatever the reason, I'm feeling awesome about my choices and everything that is to come. When I was in St. Lucia 2 years ago, Meghan had us do an exercise to write down what our ideal day would look like, and for the very first time, I think I'm pretty close to achieving that. Better late than never, right? 

The Wedding Singer Ashley Gibson Toronto

What would your ideal day look like? How do you achieve balance in your life?

When it's Your Wedding Day... Opening Night!

Friday, January 10, 2014

I could hardly sleep last night after our FINAL dress rehearsal before opening night of The Wedding Singer!!

The Wedding Singer Toronto Hart House Theatre

Playing Julia is the most fun, and I have such a blast falling in love with Robbie (played by Isaac Bell) every single night. The set, lighting and costumes are amazing and totally 80's-tastic. I love getting to feel like a princess in my wedding dress every night

The Wedding Singer Toronto Ashley Gibson

So many awesome people are coming to the show tonight and I am thrilled to have a (nearly!) sold out audience. Openings are always so exciting and I'm so thankful to have the best cast to share the fun with. If anyone needs me today I'll likely be found skipping and jamming to 80's tunes. Music videos in the 80's were the coolest, right?!

What's your fave 80's tune? 

Call for bloggers - The Life is Sweet Project

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My upcoming show, The Life is Sweet Project with Angelwalk Theatre is quickly approaching and so is the month of February.
Ashley Gibson The Life is Sweet Project Angelwalk Theatre

As I did last year, I'm planning to host a month of guest bloggers to talk about their experience with mental illness, depression, suicide, anxiety and loss. I've already got some incredible submissions that I'm looking forward to sharing, but I want to fill a month of content to help get this dialogue going and include a wide range of perspectives.

If you or someone you know would be interested in being included, please send me an email at ashley.jgib[at] or through the contact form on the blog. I'm open to writing, art, poetry or music being included. If you'd prefer to only use your first name or post anonymously, that is okay too. If you have an idea or have any questions, please feel free to connect with me to discuss.

I'm already looking forward to February. I never thought I'd say that.

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

So far 2014 is off to a great start. I woke up next to the man I love, ate a delicious breakfast complete with mimosas and have been wearing a Happy New Year tiara. I've also been smiling about this photo.

Ashley Gibson lovebot Corbin Smith Steamwhistle

Hugging a Lovebot along with my favourite person was a super way to end 2013. Wishing you all sorts of fun, adventures and love in 2014!
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