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If March, May, and July went down in history for their sheer hedonism, September was marked by abstinence.
I spent it mostly at home. Worked hard every day. Didn’t ingest a single drop of alcohol. And did little else until I headed to New York at the end of the month.
You might think that September was a boring month. That could not have been less true. I had a wonderful time this month — working! Seriously. I had several different projects going on at once and I enjoyed being so busy.
Due to the fact that I did little else but work this month, I don’t have that many photos to share — so please enjoy the selfies and food shots.
Reading, Lynn, Gloucester, Essex, and Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA
New York, New York, USA
New York. My future home! I’m ready to move into you. After spending one more winter in the tropics, that is…
Portsmouth. I’ve got so much love for this quirky little town.
Boston. Nothing better than eating outside on a summer night in Boston!
Hello, new hair! For years, I was the one-haircut-every-six-months-and-no-color-ever variety, in part due to my travels, but I decided to switch things up.
This time: a much blonder ombre with highlights, and I got a keratin treatment. This is the first time I’ve ever chemically straightened my hair — and I am shocked at how smooth and straight my hair is now, even when it air dries!
I’ve heard that keratin can be hit or miss and you want to go to a place that specializes in it, so instead of one of the ubiquitous cheap Groupon salons, I went to Keratin Lounge in Manhattan. They pioneered LASIO keratin, have several kinds of keratin treatments and I got the tropic treatment (formaldehyde-free, maintains the most body and curl, unlike most treatments you must wash it out within 24 hours, should last around three months with proper care). All treatments cost $250. Naomi was my stylist and she was great!
(If you go, say it’s your first time and Kate McCulley sent you. You’ll get 10% off and I’ll get 10% off my next visit! Also, ask for a chair near an open window — the fumes were a bit tough to deal with and i had to cover my face to keep my eyes from watering.)
Discovering cool new restaurants in New York. I’m always into trying new places in New York, and I ate at about a dozen new spots (my poor, poor wallet), but there are six exceptional places that I recommend:
Red Rooster in Harlem. Marcus Samuelsson’s funky restaurant fuses tastes of the American South, Sweden, and Ethiopia, and it couldn’t be in a more apt location on 125th street. I had the yard bird (fried chicken), my sister had the Swedish meatballs, and we split the deviled eggs and sweet potato donuts. All were fantastic!
983 (The Living Room) in Bushwick. Incredibly cozy bar and restaurant with fantastic food at cheapish Bushwick prices. Get the chicken under a brick — so much flavor!
Marta in Midtown East. Super delicious thin crust pizza — I could have had two whole pies to myself. Sausage and crimini mushroom pizza is great; so is the stracciatella with buffalo mozzarella.
Roberta’s in Bushwick. Another pizza spot — Beyonce, Jay-Z, and the Clintons have all eaten here. Get the bee sting — it’s a pizza with sopressata and honey! It’s not on the menu, but they always have it.
Breukelen Coffee House in Crown Heights. If I lived in Crown Heights, I would work here every day. Great coffee, lots of tables, and OUTLETS GALORE. Perfection! Well, except for the name. It’s pronounced Brooklyn, and that makes me roll my eyes. JUST CALL IT BROOKLYN, YA HIPSTERS.
Little Skips in Bushwick. One of my new favorite coffee shops in the world! Tiny and looks like nothing on the outside, like most of Bushwick but fun, colorful, delicious place on the inside. Great sandwiches, too.
Portsmouth day trip. Portsmouth, a small city in New Hampshire, is one of my favorite places in New England for a day trip. There are lots of great restaurants, waterfront scenery, and funky shops, including the Book and Bar, which is a bookstore with a bar in it! I had a great day and lots of girl talk with two of my best friends from home, and it was so nice spending so much time with them.
Discovering Bushwick. What a WEIRD ASS PLACE. I’ve never pinged between loving and hating a place so hard and so often — my opinion would change hourly! Bushwick is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, sandwiched between Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, and Ridgewood (as well as some neighborhoods you’d want to avoid), and it’s a formerly Puerto Rican/Dominican neighborhood now met with an influx of artists pushed over from high rents in Williamsburg.
It’s full of warehouses, which gives it a lot of light, and there is street art everywhere. And when guys would catcall me, they would always end it with a “God bless you.” As in, “Hey girl, I like your ass in those jeans. God bless you.” Nice.
Dilapidated blocks look like they’re filled with nothing — and then behind a blank door, you’ll find a bar with circus-esque “freak shows” or a chic Cuban restaurant. In that way, Bushwick reminded me a lot of Melbourne. You have to know about these places; they don’t make it obvious.
Congratulations, Bushwick — you now occupy a spot alongside Shetland, Darwin, Liechtenstein, and Venice Beach for on the list of strangest places I’ve ever been. I came here to research it as a possible place to move to, but to be frank, I think it’s a little too out there for me. I’m sure I’ll visit often.
Daybreaker! By far the coolest thing I did this month. Daybreaker is an early morning dance party that takes place in several cities around the world, including New York. My friends and I put on our best duds (funky workout wear, silvery disco accessories, a cowboy costume, whatever you’d like!) and danced our asses off from 7-9 AM.
It was one of the most positive events I’ve ever been to! Everyone was sober (well, everyone was supposed to be sober), there were fire dancers, a guy played a didgeridoo and we limboed underneath it, some dude frolicked in a tiger costume, and then everyone left and went to work. Just a typical Wednesday in New York.
If you’re interested in attending a Daybreaker, sign up for emails here.
The biggest challenge this month was health-oriented. Once I got home from Europe, I resolved to do Couch 2 5K and initially did great with it, getting stronger at running each day. However, on day nine, I felt a shooting pain through my right leg and could barely move.
I was sidelined for two weeks. At first I thought it was shin splints, but as the shin pain healed, I still had a lot of pain. My knee felt like it had slid out of place and I was terrified that I had done something seriously wrong to my knee and would need surgery.
Thankfully, my chiropractor took a look and determined it was a simple running injury to my ligaments — all I had to do was massage and ice a few pressure points. After weeks of pain, I was back to normal within a few days! Phew.
That said, though, I’ve had bad feet my whole life, and running is hell on your body even if you have good feet, so I think this might be a sign that running is not for me. Which is sad.
I did get fitted for new, top-quality sneakers and insoles from The Walking Company. Now, just about every pair of shoes I own is from that store and my feet are SO much healthier for it!
Most Popular Post
The Joys and Challenges of Traveling in Sicily — This honest post resonated with quite a few of you!
Best Mirrorless Camera for Travel: Fuji X-T1 — After months with my new camera, I finally give it a review.
Cool Airfare Tricks from Kayak — Kayak has some cool features of which you should take advantage.
On Freedom to Travel — We are so lucky to be able to travel where we want, unlike people from other countries.
Corfu, Greece, in Technicolor — The case for visiting this very colorful island!
Where to Go in Eastern Sicily — All the best places, both popular and offbeat, from Taormina to Siracusa to Avola.
Viewpoints: Traveling with a Disability — Justine and Dilara of The Pickle Sandwich dish about what it’s like to travel while blind and deaf.
Aci Trezza: A Laid-Back Seaside Town in Sicily — I had never heard of it before, but it became one of my favorite places in Sicily!
Requiem for a Beloved Purple Dress — I had to say goodbye to the dress you’ve seen everywhere since 2011. A lesson in letting go.
News and Announcements
I survived Sober September! I have to say, it was quite easy at first while being at home, but it really became a pain in the ass once I got to New York. I didn’t crave the buzz so much as I wanted a special treat that my friends got. Which I guess is the best case scenario.
Do I feel better or healthier because of it? Honestly, I didn’t notice much of a difference health-wise. But I was glad that I was only on the receiving end of drunken texts this month.
I’m thinking that I should give myself a challenge every month, just to try something new and improve my life. This October, it will be a spending diet.
Over the past year, I’ve turned into a bit of a spendthrift, which isn’t a habit I want to maintain. My goal this month: no new clothes, accessories, tech gear, or makeup. Those are my big vices. I won’t be as strict as I was with sober September — there’s nothing wrong with buying food or replacing anything I lose. And if I need to buy more shampoo (after the keratin treatment I need to use sodium chloride-free products), that’s okay, too — I’m not going to destroy my hair treatment for the sake of not spending anything extra.
Most Popular Photo on Instagram
Wow, something actually beat Santorini! First time that’s happened! This pic was taken a few years ago on a sunny winter day in Lisbon.
For more updates from my travels, follow adventurouskate on Instagram and Snapchat!
What I Read This Month
The end is near! I’ve read 43 books this year, and 42 of them are part of the 52-book PopSugar 2015 book challenge. I’ll be glad when the challenge is over — I’m eager to just read again without worrying about fulfilling categories.
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante — Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels are my favorite books from this year, and this was the conclusion of the series. I can’t tell you how meaningful these books were for me. They’re my favorite reads of the year and I can’t recommend them enough. I’ve never read a book that writes about female friendship more accurately than this series, and the wild and brutal depiction of Naples is unforgettable.
The final book is the most intense of the four, and though I don’t think it was my favorite in the series, it brought everything together into an explosive conclusion. Category: a book set in a different country.
Ask by Ryan Levesque — My mind was absolutely blown by this book — it’s the single most brilliant business book (or idea!) I’ve ever read. It’s basically a guide to figuring out what your customers want before they even know that they want it. And, amusingly, I’m now seeing lots of websites starting to use its strategy! Category: a book with a one-word title.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding — I had never read this classic book, but it’s referenced so often that I figured it would be a good idea to read this book about a group of boys who are stranded on an island and form a tribal community. It wasn’t my favorite, but I appreciated the allegory, especially the characters each representing the id, ego, and superego. Category: a banned book.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — Wow. What a chilling portrayal of the future. Written in the 1980s, it tells the story of a not-too-distant future where America is turned into a Christian military nation and women lose their rights. Following a series of environmental disasters, few people are fertile, and these handmaids in question are used to become pregnant by the most important men in the community.
“Show, don’t tell,” is one of the most important qualities a writer can have, and this book unfolds scintillatingly slowly, one tiny detail at a time. I couldn’t put it down. Category: a book set in the future.
Coming Up in October 2015
On October 4, I flew to the UK for a weeklong journey of drinking gin, which was super fun! I can’t wait to share my photos with you. Those of you who followed my snaps saw quite a bit of it!
I’m now spending two weeks hopping around Europe a bit, including a full week on the Spanish island of Mallorca with my bud Cailin. Right now I’m in Copenhagen and I’m heading to Berlin tomorrow.
I return to New York for a few days to make an appearance at an event related to the British gin trip, then immediately fly out to Los Angeles for second event.
45 thoughts on “AK Monthly Recap: September 2015”
wooo hooo! congrats on sober sept Kate and btw your new hair looks amazing!!! love that you write out your goals each month :))
Well done on Sober September! I did a similar thing in January a few years back and I was so proud of myself. Even though I’m not exactly a big drinker (anymore – gulp!) if you tell me I can’t drink alcohol all I can think about are mimosas. Go figure.
I love the monthly review, next months goals and how you followed up Sober September with a gin fest in the UK. Love, love, love it!
It made me laugh when I got that assignment after deciding on sober September!
Your hair looks FABULOUS. Kudos to you for making a month full of work still seem pretty dang fun. That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing all of those NYC food spots. One of my absolute best friends lives in the lower East Side and I love visiting her because we both love food. Ha! I’ll have to keep an eye out for these places!
I know you said you were looking for a place to live. I’d be so curious to know what neighborhoods are topping your list! The neighborhoods of NYC positively fascinate me!
At this point, I’m really hoping for Brooklyn. Around Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill is my first choice, but that might be a bit tough with finances. I’m actually keeping Harlem in mind because my sister lives there and you can get really nice places for much cheaper than you could in that part of Brooklyn.
It’s crazy to think you spent the whole month in the US. I was a little bit nervous about going back to Thailand and NZ (home) where I know everything and was afraid of being bored. Your SC’s were still great this month though, so thanks for sublimely letting me know it’ll be all sweet!
Aww, that’s very kind of you, Jub. You’ll have a great time!
I have a great challenge for you for a month where you’re staying relatively put (as you’ll want a mat). I am in love with Adriene’s Yoga videos, and I’ve never been a real Yoga freak. But her 30 day challenge is the first thing where I’ve been like, OHH! I get it now! (Just search for Yoga with Adriene Day 1 on Youtube.) She has great fundamentals videos as well to familiarize yourself with the poses. Now I’m going through all of her other videos because they’re just that amazing. Rather than running, which puts so much strain on your body, this series really helps you move IN your body — I know better how to listen to it now, if that makes sense. And my core and arms have never looked or felt better.
And oh, Neapolitan novels… I’ve been wanting to say something to you about the last but I still don’t think I’ve processed it. I cried, but I think because I was sad they were over. It left me with a very profound sense of loss. Thank you for the recommendation!
That would be AWESOME. I love the idea of having a challenge there and ready for you to do! And so glad you enjoyed the books. They were brutal. I felt the sense of loss as well.
Palma, in Mallorca, is a really underrated city! Lots of nice bars and restaurants, beaches close by. I think you’ll like it 🙂
I love your hair! It looks so beautiful natural too, but you can’t beat a new look, you know? And you look great as a blonde. That’s awesome about the treatment! I always thought it was fake, that it didn’t work. Maybe I’ll try it some day.
Thanks so much! Yes, indeed it works, though it’s been a month now and it’s getting a little curlier every day.
I had to laugh at your comment about Breukelen Coffee House. I live just a couple blocks from there, sandwiched in between Breukelen Cellars (wine shop) and Breukelen Brasserie (French place, so at least they sort of have that excuse.) I guess it’s a Crown Heights thing!
Crown Heights, why you gotta be so hip?
Loving the new do!
Kate, I absolutely love your soul!! Your humor, style and authenticity! Can you already meet someday soon?! ))
You will love NYC! You see, I’m gonna be moving out, you moving in… and so it goes.
BTW… the owner of “The Walking Company” is my good friend )) kinda funny to see the link..
If you ever hit Oceania continent this Winter and early Spring, please let me know.
ps – LOVE your hair !!
Thanks so much, Elena! You’re the best. And that is hilarious that you know the owner!
I’ve been treating my hair as well, for a couple of years. Instead of a curly/ frizzy mass, I have nice smooth hair that looks good even when I let it dry naturally. I time the touch-ups for right before a trip.
I think I might do my next one before Christmas.
As someone with thick, curly hair I have been seriously thinking about doing a keratin treatment myself! Glad to see it worked out for you! I’ve got a few personal challenges going on for myself at the moment as well, so I’m thinking I might use a keratin treatment as a reward for completing them! Now if I can only find a good one abroad…
Good! It’s been a month for me now and much more of the curl is coming back, so I’d go for a stronger treatment.
I think a “spendthrift” is someone who doesnt spend much money…so if I’m understanding right that’s what you want to be this October, not what you have been recently:)
A spendthrift is actually someone who spends money frivolously. 🙂 It’s a tough word; it used to trip me up!
LOVE the hair!! It looks great!!!
Quick question…I have bought shoes that you recommended in the past from The Walking Company, and I was wondering which sneakers you bought if you don’t mind sharing. 🙂 I’m looking for a new pair and you seem to know which shoes are best! Thanks in advance!
Thank you so much!
I take with me:
–black Abeo flats
–black sneakers by Vibram (get fitted at TWC, sneakers should be fitted to your feet)
–black pumps by Abeo
–black flip flops by Abeo
–Teva sports sandals
Sounds like you had a great month (apart from your issues with you ligaments…). Good job on completing the challenge for a full month! I wanted to try to stop drinking when I moved to Abu Dhabi but every now and then I caved and enjoyed a glass of wine with my dinner. I can’t wait to read about your experience with the gin tastings it must’ve tasted particularly nice after a month of no drinks 😉
My advice: start SLOWLY after a long break! For me, I rewarded myself with some nice red wine.
Great post! Loved reading about all the different restaurants you experienced in New York! Thanks for sharing.
Love reading your recaps to get caught up! I think monthly challenges are a fantastic idea – you’ve inspired me to set my own! Also, I haven’t been to Mallorca but from what I hear there is great scuba diving 🙂
You should! Would love to hear what you decide to do.
Thanks for sharing this with us !! i hope you can have a great month you are very busy so remember to rest
Loves these updates Kate!
Good luck on your new challenge of the month. I can totally relate as clothing and beauty related items are also my weakness. But think, if Sober September was easier than you thought, maybe this will be too!
Enjoy your last few days in Europe!
I loved your Daybreaker snaps. I don’t think its the sort of thing I would do (I really can’t dance unless drunk) but it looked like you had a great time!
I’m doing Ocsober this month so I understand your pain during Sober September!
Honestly, Britt, I’m the same way. I struggle to dance and look normal when I haven’t had a drink. But I’m getting better. 🙂 This is good practice.
I love the food and city pics. If this was one of the slower months I cant imagine what a busy month of travel could be like. And that’s a lot of books you’ve managed to get through at the same time. Wish I was as productive
I read a lot while in transit. That helps!
what a unique street in Lisbon!
Your hair looks so healthy!
The great irony — this is a chemical treatment that actually DOES make it healthier!
I’m heading back to NYC in a couple and for the first time, I’m not staying exclusively in Manhattan. I’ve been looking at a nice looking AirBnB studio in Bed-Stuy near Bedford Ave. Do you know anything about the area? Thanks for the info on Bushwick! I may have to go exploring.
To be honest, I’ve only driven through Bed-Stuy, but Christine from cestchristine.com just moved there — she would be good to ask!
I love going to New York, especially in September. It is a little cooler out but are still able to enjoy the nights. My first time there came two weeks before 9/11 and I have loved New York ever since.
September was a huge travel month for me. I went Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. If you haven’t had a chance to go to Oktoberfest or even Munich, you should definitely put it on your list of travel locations. I wrote a post about my experiences there. It traveled alone, but I think next time would go with a friend. It’s easier to enjoy more things. Although where ever I go next, I will probably go there first alone.