Weekly Mini Challenge / 02 Recap

February 29, 2016

The City and Us | Weekly Mini Challenge / 02 Recap

The second Weekly Mini Challenge was to say “I love you” without saying a word, think: leaving little love notes around the house, having a glass of wine ready after a long day at work, and putting toothpaste on his/her toothbrush and leaving it lying on the sink before bed.

We had two lazy weekend mornings of coffee and breakfast in bed–the best way to spend a weekend morning, and during the week, I did a boring errand and bought deodorant on my way home from work. If you’re playing along, how’d you do? Did you learn anything interesting?

The thing I remember most from this challenge is something that Dan did for me after a tough day at work. I was drained, so instead of my usual after-work run I planned to go home and turn my brain off, maybe watch some mindless TV and just chill. When I walked through the door, a bottle of my favorite red wine, crackers and hummus were waiting. It was just what I needed because instead of sinking into the couch and sulking for the night, we hung out in the kitchen and chatted, which instantly put me in a better mood.

What did you do to say “I love you” without saying a word? Leave your update in the comment section, if you’d like. I’d love to hear.

And check back on Thursday for the third installment of the Weekly Mini Challenge.

7 Alternatives to Valentine’s Day Date Night

February 9, 2016

The City and Us | Alternatives to Valentine's Day Date Night

Valentine’s Day is in six days. Do you have anything fun planned this year? One thing we’ve learned about Valentine’s Day in NYC is that it can be a pricey, prix fixe menu madhouse. So, if you’re looking for alternative date night ideas this year, here are seven…

  1. Cook a meal together. Families often serve the same main dishes for major holidays meals–at Christmas we always have prime rib with my dad and ham with my mom, so why not start a meal tradition for Valentine’s Day? Set the mood with fancy napkins, candles, and a vase filled with fresh flowers.
  2. Take a cooking class together. How fun would it be to learn to cook something new–like empanadas, gnocchi, or Baklava–on a Valentine’s Day date? My mom recently sent me a picture of herself at King Arthur Flour taking a pizza-cooking class, and I instantly thought what a fun date-night idea!
  3. Valentine’s Day boozy brunch. Because who doesn’t love a boozy brunch?
  4. At-home wine tasting. Buy a few bottles of wine–one of your favorites and one or two that you’ve never tried before–cheese, crackers, nuts, and some fruit. Put this on the tv and chill.
  5. Go to a museum. If you’re up for a low-key afternoon or evening out, try wandering around a museum. I’ve also heard good things about these (have you done one before?).
  6. Take an exercise class together. There’s nothing like getting the endorphins pumping before heading home for a steamy shower for two (amirite?). ; )
  7. Go out to dinner the night before or the night after Valentine’s Day. It’s less crowded, and if you’re not the prix fixe menu type, you’ll enjoy your meal more.

Which would you pick? What do you usually do on Valentine’s Day?


PS. Watching this would also be a fun way to spend the evening.

Photo by Mef Hamilton.

Google Fortune Telling

November 18, 2015

Google Fortune Telling

This evening, my friend, Alexa, shared this wonderful site. At first, it’s a beta version fortune teller luring users in with promises to predict their destinies if they type questions in the search bar. But after a few suggested questions, all focused on a similar theme, the site loads a page with the following message and crystal-ball counter…

Google Fortune Telling

I appreciate the line, “Please feel free to donate your time, money or love and spread the word.” Each of us can help and make a difference during hard times, and there are so many different ways to support people and relief efforts. It’s important to remember that.

This week has been really sad and trying for many people, and the past several weeks and months–even years–have been really hard for so many others. I hope you’re all doing ok and find a way–our own way–to support and love those in need.



What Are Your Thoughtful Conversation Starters?

October 22, 2015

Thoughtful Conversation Starters

I met Amara, a British actor, at a party last year through Dan, they worked together on a mini-series that filmed here in NYC. Amara is bubbly and easy-going and joyous. She has no guard up; I knew immediately that she’s the type of person who makes new friends in minutes.

Later in the evening, after a couple glasses of wine, a group of us huddled around the hors d’oeuvres table and engaged in easy chitchat. And then Amara piped up, “So, Kelley, what’s the dream?”

I instantly tensed, horrifying memories of being put on the spot during college lectures flooded back to me, and a nervous giggle escaped. “What do you mean? Like ‘what’s my American Dream?'” I managed to respond.

“Yea! If you could be anywhere and do anything, what would it be?” she asked.

Not exactly a casual conversation topic you’d start after just meeting someone, right? But Amara’s wide smile and inquiring eyes made it clear that she wasn’t being facetious. And being that I’d recently flipped my life upside down and spontaneously moved to NYC from small-town Vermont, I’d thought a lot about this recently.

“Well, I guess it’s…living on a tiny tropical island with naked babies running on the beach and a garden and fruit trees in the backyard. Yea…no pressure to make money or have a high-paying job with a fancy title. Simple everything.”

I hardly recognized my own voice. My response was uncharacteristically ‘open-book’ of me. I could feel my cheeks burning as my eyes scanned the faces of near strangers. It was the wine talking! Although…it really wasn’t entirely the wine. I’d said something to this affect to Dan a number of times, in confidence, obviously. But to admit this to a group of people I’d met only hours before was way out of my comfort zone.

“That sounds lovely,” Amara said in a genuine tone as she slouched back in her chair.

Given that it was the dead of winter and no one had felt temperatures above 20 degrees for days, I wasn’t sure if illusions of sandy beaches and warm lazy evenings rushed through her mind or if she actually considered my response.

But during the following weeks, I saw Amara several times; we had more thoughtful conversations and shared more delicious bottles of wine. She asked other important life questions in her casual, candid manner, and, again, I found myself discussing ideas that I naturally only share with a handful of people. Amara’s conversation starters–her approach to thoughtful conversations–were at first uneasy, but then invigorating. She made it seem like these topics are in fact less daunting than we make them out to be.

What are your go-to conversation starters? Do you drive into the ‘big’ topics like Amara? Or do you take a different approach? I’d love to hear!


(Photo by Kinfork.)


Simple Rituals

June 23, 2015

Simple Rituals | City and Us blog

My Mom is a middle school teacher, and last Thursday was her last day before summer break. So, when I was home last weekend, she was winding down from a crazy couple of weeks between making bridal bouquets and DD-ing for me and Dan after a fun wedding.

I was folding laundry Friday afternoon when I heard, “Woohoo! Gooooodbye lunch bag!” followed by a thud as it hit the bottom of the trash can. “Old lunch bag?” I asked, slightly confused. “Sorta. I treat myself to new one at the start of each year and throw that thing away at the end of the year!” she explained with a grin on her face. I laughed and said, “That’s a good way to end the year.” and then went back to folding laundry.

But my Mom’s lunch bag ritual got me thinking: We all have these simple, feel good rituals that may not mean anything to anyone else, but to us, they symbolize completion, love, success, triumph. A crisp beer at the beer tent after finishing another race. Rereading Wurthering Heights every year to bring back childhood memories. Cooking together on your anniversary. A family hike on Thanksgiving. Fresh-cut flowers at the end of each week. They’re simple things that are comforting and symbolic.

Do you have any simple rituals? How about a simple family ritual? 


(Photo by Danielle  Nelson.)

Valentine’s Day Cards

February 11, 2015

Any plans for Valentine’s Day? Dan and I are having an at-home date night and making pizzas and drinking wine. Can’t wait! Do you have a go-to Valentine’s Day gift? Chocolate? Flowers? Jewelry? Funny card? Personally, I love a bouquet of fresh flowers (hint, hint, wink, wink…). We don’t buy fresh flowers often, so when we have them in our apartment it always feel special. If you’re looking for a funny or cute card for someone special, here are a few fun ones I found around the web…

I Love Your Guts card


Man Fur card

You’re Foxy / I Love Your Guts Zombie / I Whaley Love YouThank You For ExistingI Feel Empty Inside Without You / Man Fur / XOXO

Would you buy a house with another couple?

July 17, 2014

Photo by Kelley MacDonald

This morning, I read an interesting article about two couples that purchased a home together in a Northwest D.C. neighborhood. Ari Weisband and his partner Rebecca had lived in houses with roommates for most of their adult lives, and when they started to discuss marriage they both knew they didn’t want to “leave these important kinds of friendships behind and end up living in what she jokingly called a “love/torture cave of nuclear family loneliness.”” Two of Ari and Rebecca’s closests friends felt similarly and they decided to buy a home together. Before the couples had time to paint the walls and move in, one couple found out they were expecting.

Here’s an excerpt…


Yes, all four of us are on the deed and, yes, we share the 30-year mortgage and food and maintenance expenses. No, there’s no division of the house into separate sections. And no, all four of us are not all having sex with each other. (Why do many people assume that if adults are willing to share a kitchen, they probably also want to share a bed?) We are just two couples who plan to live together and raise children in one household, hopefully for decades.

When we talk with friends who already have kids about our living arrangement, some are shocked that we are willing to subject ourselves to living with a crying newborn who is not our own. Others can’t imagine trying to agree on consistent rules for the kids or having every minute of their parenting observed by other adults. The idea spooks them.

I do share those concerns to an extent, but raising kids with just one other adult scares me even more. I’ve seen these same friends with children struggle to balance work, family life, community involvement, exercise, and the occasional fun activity. There’s just no way to “lean in” to all those directions at once.

While most people take for granted that dual-parent households usually have more resources to deal with life’s challenges than single parents, why stop there? By forming a household with friends who share our values, we realized we could build an even stronger system of support than we would have in separate homes.

It’s a real advantage the way four different people can each bring our own skill sets to the house, and it helps us to divide up the work in ways that suit us each. I bake bread, roast coffee, and make yogurt, another housemate grows the herbs and vegetables, and another loves to mow the lawn. Most of us hate negotiating with contractors, but one housemate relishes it. Two of us are lawyers and can draft the legal paperwork we need. The other two aren’t and can pull us back from some lawyerly excesses in what we write. We all have cleaning chores we don’t mind and others we dread, but with four of us we can usually divide up the work accordingly.


Interesting, right? While I don’t think sharing a home without division of the house into separate living spaces is for me, I would definitely consider buying a townhouse (with separate “homes” within it) with another couple. It would be great to know that you already like and trust your neighbors, wouldn’t it? Also, down the road, when we have kids and want to sneak out for a late night date after the kids are already sleeping, it would be comforting to know that someone we trust is just up/downstairs (and we’d be able to return the favor :).

So, what do you think? Would you buy a home with another couple? How about raise children in an environment like this? Shared grocery shopping, house cleaning and a mortgage split four ways sound like great perks!

(Image via my Instagram feed.)

Happy Mother’s Day

May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there and especially to our lovely and wonderful Moms. We love you both to the moon and back and appreciate everything that you do for us (which is a whole lot). Since we won’t be with either of you today, we’ve put together a list of some fun stuff from around the web, tailored to your individual interests. Enjoy!



  1. A list of 79 New Hampshire hikes at sunset including the US Navy’s astronomical info about each full moon (date, time, and where to look).
  2. A delicious black bean and brown rice burger recipe (we’ve made these burgers several times and love them)!
  3. Top 25 historical non-fiction books.



  1. A tool to help you visualize and plan the layout of your garden. Easily “drag-and-drop” more than 150 trees, shrubs, and flowers.
  2. Best selling audio books (4 stars and up) for your weekly commutes.
  3. Fun photo book ideas that Sam, Rory and Caitie will love!


And a few links you both might be interested in:

  1. spring photo challenge (now that you’re both on Instagram). If you want to play along, use ‘cocktails’ in place of ‘easter eggs’ for topic #9, and use the hashtag #dandlspringphotos (we can help with this, if needed ; ) Have fun with it!
  2. No-fuss garden plans.
  3. A sequence of yoga poses designed to help physical and mental balance and strength. Interesting fact: Physical balance in the human body is a complex interaction between the sense of touch, the workings of the inner ear, and proper vision! All three must work together to correctly signal “balance” to the central nervous system.


We love you both so, so much and can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks. xoxo


PS. A few other amazing women we want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to: Gram, Meg, and Keira–you all are wonderful and we love you! xo


(Photos by Meg Hamilton.)

Blogmilk | Brandi Bernoskie