February 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I know it’s February and, though it has been a mild winter here in NYC, we still have a few weeks to go before we start seeing the first signs of spring, let alone summer. Still, last night I couldn’t help myself. I started thinking about this summer, which got me pretty excited, so I started planning.
I’m hoping to spend some time in my home state of California this summer, maybe kick around San Francisco and Santa Cruz for a bit. I’m also thinking There is nothing quite like living far away from home that reminds me of how much of a West Coast girl I am. I love New York, I do, but there is nothing quite like home.
So I am gathering some visual inspiration on my Pinterest page and I am making some plans. Up to this point it seems as though my plans involve little more than going to farmer’s markets, picnics, hiking, swimming, and riding bikes in sundresses. It already sounds like a perfect summer to me.
January 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Look what I found today in Chinatown! It’s a Pac-Man ghost filled with sour cherry candy ghosts. Honestly I didn’t care what kind of candy was inside when I bought it. I just knew I had to have the tin.
I know that I have been very bad about updating lately. I was traveling for a bit in California, and when I got back to New York there were a few things calling my attention. It’s actually been really crazy, but today I took a break from crazy and went with a friend to Chinatown for some dim sum and to sneak a peak at the Chinese New Year parade. We didn’t get to close to the actual parade, the streets were much too crowded. Still, we were perfectly happy watching little children completely cover the streets in confetti from these little canons that street vendors were selling, then we stuffed our faces with delicious food and wandered the streets. We saw a hawk nearly kill a black squirrel in Tompkins Square Park (nature!) and we stopped into my favorite cupcake shop, Butter Lane, where they have just started offering a new delicious frosting flavor (orange tangerine!). It was exactly the kind of Sunday that I needed: exciting but still easy and relaxing. I wish all my weekends could be like this.
January 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Happy New Year! I hope your holiday seasons were fun and relaxing. I am still in California visiting family, but I will be back in New York City soon and back to business. I will be posting a lot more in the coming weeks. There are a lot of exciting things coming up that I can’t wait to share with you, so stay tuned!
November 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
One of my favorite special Christmas episodes of all time is “The Alan Brady Show Presents,” from The Dick Van Dyke Show. It aired in the show’s third season in 1963, and was the only holiday episode produced in the shows five season run, but what a Christmas special! The episode is a special variety hour in which the characters of the show are guests on the fictitious The Alan Brady Show, where Robert Petrie (played by Dick Van Dyke) is the head writer.
The highlight (in my opinion) is the number featuring Rob and his wife, Laura (the amazing Mary Tyler Moore), playing couple of street corner Santa Clauses who fall in love. I must have seen this clip a hunted times and it never fails to make me laugh, not to mention get me into a silly kind of Christmas mood. The song, the dancing, the Santa Claus outfits…I just love it all. (Sorry, you won’t be able to watch it if you’re not in the US.)
A couple of years ago I got my younger sisters hooked on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and now it’s become something of a tradition to watch this episode together at this time of year. You can bet it’s one of the first things we’ll do when I go home for Christmas in a couple of weeks.
November 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This year was my first Thanksgiving in New York City. This year, instead of just a couple of days, I got nearly a week off of school to spend however I like. Joel came into the city last Saturday from Mexico, and we museum hopped and shopped for the first few days. (He mostly shopped, and I watched in awe of his stamina and decisive eye. I did manage to come away with a new tote and a sweater dress, though.) I took him to some of my favorite places (including O Cafe on the corner of 6th Avenue and 12th Street for amazing coffee and kale sandwiches) and stocked up on candy and baked goods to the holiday.
Wednesday my brother came into town from California, and Thursday morning my cousin flew in from Chicago from the main event: the actual Thanksgiving day. It started with Mexican food for breakfast in Queens, followed by cupcakes from Butter Lane, eaten at my place in Brooklyn while we watched a marathon of Awkward Black Girl on YouTube, and then to Bryant Park for cider. Our actual Thanksgiving dinner was had in Chinatown, at this little restaurant that we found wandering around. It was kind of crowded, so we ended up sitting at a table with two middle-aged Chinese men who spoke little English and cast us sideways glances as we toasted the holiday with tea in Styrofoam cups. We finished up the day at my place with leftover candy from The Sweet Life and When Harry Met Sally. It was just perfect for the four of us. I didn’t even notice that we had not had any turkey until later that night. There was almost nothing traditional about it, but I think that’s why we had so much fun. We literally did whatever we felt like doing. We could not replicate my grandmother’s sweet potato pie, but we could create something else that was all our own, and that’s exactly what we did.
Truth be told I am really relieved. Doing my own thing for the holidays always makes me a little nervous. Perhaps it’s because I always feel that bit of pressure during certain times of the year to have a good time. If things go wrong I don’t just have a ruined Thursday on my hands, I have a ruined THANKSGIVING. They only come once a year! If I am lucky enough to live until I’m very old I only…what, maybe eighty? And I already have twenty-two off them behind me. I’m running out! This is only my second Thanksgiving away from my family in California. The first Thanksgiving was two years ago, in Paris, I video chatted with my family as they were about to enjoy dinner at my grandmother’s house and then I ate a ham sandwich alone while listening to Joni Mitchell’s River. (It was a tad melodramatic, and I knew that at the time, but sometimes it’s good to indulge those impulses).
This year I wanted things to be better. I racked my brain for weeks and wrote down a list of ideas, but at the last minute I kind of said “screw it” and decided to play things by ear, and that turned out to be the right idea.
Who knew the secret to a good time was doing things you actually like doing?
Now I must resume my life on Monday, but Christmas is right around the corner. I’m going home for winter break, but I will still be around long enough to see the magic of New York at Christmastime. I’ve only been watching movies about New York at Christmas for my entire life, so I’m kind of expecting this magnificent explosion of holiday warmth and goodness where people fall in love and hope is restored in the world…but, you know, no pressure.
November 19, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Living in New York has been a hard transition to make, which doesn’t come as any sort of surprise. I’ve done enough moving to know that moving to any new place is going to mean an adjustment period. I’ve also been around enough to know that this transition period is an especially tough one. New York and I have had a fairly contentious relationship thus far. These past few weeks have been especially brutal, which has made it hard for even me to get into the holiday spirit (despite my best efforts). Normally spending Thanksgiving Day 3,000 miles away from my family would not help things, but I think this year I am still in for a pretty special holiday. I have not one, but three house guests coming to celebrate here with me in New York City.
Tomorrow Joel comes in from Mexico. Wednesday my brother and my cousin get here, my brother from California and my cousin from Chicago. At the moment I can’t say that we have concrete holidays plans. I wish I could say that I was cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but my current living situation is not exactly conducive to that dream, so we are improvising. Our Thanksgiving dinner might end up consisting of Dim Sum in Chinatown, but I think that’s what will make this year a bit more exciting than previous years. If nothing else this Thanksgiving will be an adventure, and with the bunch that I have it is guaranteed to be fun and slightly over the top. Exactly what I need.
November 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
I love Christmas…a lot. I love all things jolly and bright. The lights, the food, the smells, the music. I start planning for it the minute the air turns cold. How will I decorate? What cards am I going to send out? Which new Christmas albums am I going to buy? I wait all year for the day that I can blast Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” or Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” in my headphones as I walk down the street (which, for me, is the day after Halloween). I have never met anyone whose love of Christmas paralleled my own. I’m like Buddy from the movie Elf…only I was not raised in the North Pole, I am not a middle aged man (or a man at all), I have never broken into a department store because I thought their decorations sucked (well, not yet)…
It’s not even about the presents. Sure, when I was a kid dying to have a Skip It or a Glitterator it was all about the loot, now that I’m older, they’re just kind of the icing on the cake that is the absolute best time of the year. No fooling.
So, when I realized that I had what will be my only free afternoon for quite some time, I decided to ignore my growing, scary to-do and went in search of Christmas. Since this is my first Christmas in New York it is mostly a Christmas of experimentation. I don’t have any New York Christmas traditions. I have no idea of what the city has to offer in the way of holiday magic other than what I’ve seen in movies. So I have decided to do and see everything I possible can from now until I leave to see my family in California.
My first Christmas experiment was a trip to The Holiday Shops Bryant Park. When I lived in Paris the holiday markets were my absolute favorite part of Christmastime. (Aside from all of the mulled wine I could handle.) There was a small one pitched at the end of my street, just in front of the church Saint Suplice. I would sometimes cut through it on me to and from class. I took a couple of trips with friends after late classes to the big one Champs-Elysées, where they have the most beautiful, white Ferris Wheel that glows like giant snowflake at night. I missed those markets the following Christmas season, in North Carolina and California, so when I read that there would be a few popping up around the city I was excited to find one to incorporate into my holiday traditions.
The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park opens on November 1st, which makes it the first in Manhattan to open. The others don’t open until just before Thanksgiving. Little glass booths are set up everywhere, selling everything from jewelry, to scrap metal sculptures made to look like Star Wars characters, to food, to wallets made out of special, indestructible plastic. I bought some loose leaf pomegranate green tea, a pair of much needed fingerless convertible gloves, and a Christmas ornament made to look like Santa Claus riding in a taxi, but, for the most part, I just poked around for a couple. People were really nice and let me take pictures.
There was woman that was selling hot water bottles inside of stuffed animals and all sorts of herbs to make them smell like lavender or mint. They are so warm! I may have to go back for an elephant. I am sure it will be very useful in the cold winter months ahead. And they are microwavable! (I assume just the bottles and not the animals, but I will check.)
Let the holiday season begin! (See all photos below!)