30 November 2012

One Day. Things they don’t tell you about NYC (and common misconceptions)

The saying goes that “in order to have experienced it you need to have lived it.” I think this is true of anything in life, and having spent the last week or so in NYC I thought I would impart some knowledge I have come across having “lived it” here in the city that never sleeps.

  1. Contrary to people’s perceptions, New Yorkers are actually extremely friendly! After everything I’d heard over the years I expected those living in this city to be somewhat like Sydney-siders: snarky, rude and flustered (sorry to anyone nice in Sydney but you’ve fallen into the stereotype). But it’s not true at all! Everyone I’ve spoken to has been extremely friendly, whether it’s sales assistants (whose service far surpasses anything in Australia!), random people on the street or friends’ acquaintances. It’s cheerfulness all round so I’ll have whatever they’re having!
  2. You will need a biggg wallet… because you will end up with a gazillion one cent coins! I can’t believe that such an advanced and powerful country still uses 1c’s! Apparently it costs the US economy more to make them than it’s worth to have them so here’s hoping they will be phased out soon! 
  3. Your math skills will improve out of sight what with working out tax and tips, plus not to mention the entire city runs in numbers: 35th street and 7th avenue to 16th street and 8th avenue = 20 blocks, 19 down and 1 across. 
  4. Despite many movies and television shows showing stars flitting around town in their high heels, like Carrie in her Manolo Blahniks, New York is not a place for this type of footwear! There are subway grates on every sidewalk and whilst sometimes they only take up a portion, often they occupy the entire pavement meaning, for those with heels, you must risk your life by darting onto the road in front of the city's crazy taxis!
  5. It’s not that dangerous (provided you stay out of Harlem and the Bronx). People always talk about scary stories of getting mugged or having kidneys stolen but it’s really not like that. The city is so constantly busy you will never find yourself walking alone, there are cabs everywhere and lights from every store. Sure there are bad spots to steer clear of (Lower East Side in Manhattan) but isn’t that the same everywhere. I would go so far as to say I feel safer here than I do in Sydney (certainly). 
  6. It’s cheaper than it looks! Perhaps not the rent, but everything else: groceries, clothes, eating out are all very affordable; much more so than Australia. After having the best large pizza I’ve ever tasted here for $12 I feel completely ripped off having paid $30 for an awful one on the Gold Coast. 
And a word to the wise, if you can travel alone like I did, you will have a much better experience of the city. I was never hassled by tour guides or people selling things because I was walking alone. Although I may have been heading for the Empire State Building or the Met I wandered along with no problem whilst those around me, who were heading to the same places, were stopped dozens of times by scalpers. Just avoid pulling your map or lonely planet guide out in public, it kind of gives you away!

Photo by Krissie.

27 November 2012

Suitcase. My perfect New York day.

Sunday 26th November 2012 will go down in history as one of my favourite days, I had the best time exploring the city like a local [and a bit of a tourist!].

I started the morning with a trip down to Greenwich Village with the premise of visiting SATC’s Carrie’s brownstone. I popped up out of the subway [which reminds me of a mole coming up for air] with no sense of direction but, as corny as this may seem, I heard music, so followed the sound; which led me to Washington Square Park where a pianist was playing. As a fellow piano player I was most thrilled to sit and listen whilst watching the world [and squirrels] go by. After my mind had been lulled and my fingers frostbitten I decided it was time to get moving. Wandering around I stumbled across the New York University campus before finding my way to Carrie’s iconic brownstone at 66 Perry St. Whilst I was there snapping pictures, a garbage collector came up to me and said “I’ve been collecting rubbish down this street for years and every time I pass this place there are people taking pictures, why?” I explained to him about SATC to which he gave a big smile, before hopping back in his truck, pulling out his phone and snapping some photos himself!

Moving on I went to the end of Perry St where Bleeker St lies. I headed this way with two main goals: to pick up my Marc Jacobs headphones and grab a couple of Magnolia Bakery cupcakes (again, another SATC thing). After doing that I wandered up and down the street popping into a variety of great designer and local based boutiques. Marc Jacobs has four stores all within two blocks, so if you don’t find something in one, you are sure to in another – I purchased three things from three of his separate shops! I also spent a little time [and money] in Coach, which I highly recommend, I love their accessories!

By this point, despite my cupcake, my tummy was rumbling so it was off to find Joe’s Pizza (7 Carmine St). Supposedly Joe’s has the best slice in the city and after trying it I would have to agree. The place is absolutely tiny (6 people inside and it’s packed) but the pizza is incredible, it’s the best I’ve ever had!

By now it was afternoon so I figured it was time to switch neighbourhoods, so off to Brooklyn I went. I spent some time wandering the streets, appreciating the beautiful homes and lack of crowds (definitely a pleasant change!) before finding my way up onto the Brooklyn Bridge. The view walking across was spectacular, I thought of every movie featured there as I made the 25 minute walk. I can’t wait to do it again.

I headed up to Times Square for a quick peek before heading home – nothing's changed in the five years since I was last there: it’s still packed, bright, full of people trying to sell you things and smelly.

I went home (my hotel) to rest my weary legs and by 6pm I was feeling recharged so it was off to Central Park for ice-skating. I thought I was a bit of a pro having skating in my local rink on the Gold Coast many times, but oh no, that phony indoor ice has nothing on the real New York stuff. It was horrendously slippery and it took a good 30 minutes for me to stop my legs shaking… but then I was off! I highly recommend skating there, it was just beautiful looking through the trees towards the skyscrapers of Manhattan’s skyline. And to make my experience even more beautiful, whilst I was skating, there was a marriage proposal! A fellow dropped to one knee in the middle of the rink, she said yes and everyone stopped skating, cheered and clapped, it was incredible.

Finally it was time for some dinner: P.J. Clarks at the Empire Hotel. The place was gorgeous and the food was delish, so keep your eyes peeled for a review very soon.

Well, that’s it! My perfect day, congratulations for sticking with me this far, it has been a long entry but I hope you’ve gotten as much joy out of reading about it as I had experiencing it.

Much love from the Big Apple x

Photos by Krissie.

25 November 2012

Must Have. Marc Jacobs Heart-shaped Headphones

Marc Jacobs is now a tech-sessories necessity (forgive the repetitive “ss” sounds), with a whole range of technological designer bits and pieces. And as you may have guessed from my multiple posts on his pieces I love them, particularly these little beauties! I’m off to pick up my pair from BookMarc in Greenwich Village tomorrow. $49.

Photo by Marc Jacobs.

23 November 2012

One Day. Thanksgiving

As an Aussie, to me, Thanksgiving has always conjured up images of giant turkeys, large family gatherings and hollowed-out pumpkins (yes, I’m a little confused with Halloween there, never-the-less there is pumpkin pie!). So, after 22 years of our Aussie-equivalent: rowdy Australia Day, I was ecstatic when I realised I would be in the USA for their iconic family holiday.

It’s only 8pm and I’m exhausted, but it’s been a wonderfully festive day. It started out with a morning full of cooking whilst watching the TODAY show’s parade; we made corn muffins (interesting savoury cake), stuffing (for the turkey of course), and pumpkin pie (I was a little hesitant about trying this one but I can actually say it was pretty delicious, it somewhat reminded me of carrot cake). The cooking was followed by the traditional Thanksgiving Day Dog Show, a full 3 hours of television dedicated to primped and preened pooches strutting their stuff – apparently it’s one the highest rating programs of the year. Then it was time to head to the neighbourhood’s Thanksgiving lunch/afternoon/dinner – it seems, on this holiday, regular meal times are not an influencing factor but it turns out I’m actually glad we had ‘dinner’ at 4pm because even now, 4 hours later, I’m still stuffed!

I felt like a total tourist when I first laid eyes on the turkey – here was I envisaging a bird slightly larger than a regular roast chicken. But oh no. This beast weighed 9kgs so it’s safe to say there was plenty to go around for the 15 of us at lunch.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and want to say a big thank you to those I shared the celebration with. It has been a wonderful first Thanksgiving for me and I hope to share many more in the future.

Off to New York tomorrow, more posts then.

21 November 2012

Suitcase. Jetlag

Ok, I admit it, there is such a thing as jetlag. I’m not all that experienced in the world of international travelling, however in 2007 I did go through 6 time zones in 3 weeks without any trouble (or loss of sleep) – this time, not so much. After being awake travelling for 36 hours I thought surely I would drop off into the land of dreams last night – no such luck.

It was 11pm eastern and, for this zombie, it was time for bed. I snuggled in and drifted off but 1 hour later I woke feeling as though I’d been given half a dozen red bulls and had pokers placed in my eyes. My brain was clearly asking me what I was doing trying to sleep, when at home it was still lunchtime. To make matters worse I was so tired my mind was creating all kinds of deliriums to torture me, I kept thinking I had multiple beds for various time zones that I would have to wake up and shift to throughout the night. I know, makes absolutely no sense as I write it down now, but last night I could have sworn it was a reality.

After 8 hours of fitful dozing it was time to get up again. I’ve just munched on breakfast and I can tell today is going to be a longggg day, but I get to pass the time by exploring Charlotte and from what I can see already it looks like a great place. There are autumn leaves everywhere which is so nice to see coming from Queensland which has absolutely no ‘seasonal changes’. Here’s hoping by tonight I can adjust to my new time zone and get some shuteye.

16 November 2012

Must Have. Marc Jacobs iPhone case.

If I had an iPhone, this is the case I would have. The key word here being IF, because I myself am a blackberry lover. The hearty case gets my seal of approval for being functional and flirty ($40).

So Marc, if you are reading this, would you be so kind as to craft something of this nature for my Blackberry Bold. I would be much obliged.

Photo by Marc Jacobs.

14 November 2012

Plate Up. Spring Salad

I stumbled across making this salad by accident. I’d had a long day and didn’t want a generic garden salad or plain old vegies, so after some rummaging around in my fridge I came up with the following ingredients, which together make a simply delicious salad for this trans-seasonal time of year. Enjoy!

What you’ll need
1 bunch asparagus
a dozen cherry tomatoes
½ lemon
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
100g Bulgarian fetta, crumbled

What to do
Place walnuts and lettuce in a salad bowl. Pan fry asparagus and tomatoes. When nearly cooked through, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add to salad bowl. Drizzle salad with olive oil and squeeze over lemon juice. Add fetta and toss. Serves 4 as side dish or 2 as main.

Photos by Krissie.

12 November 2012

Suitcase. New York, New York

Exciting news, I’m off to the Big Apple next week! I’m heading to the US for two weeks, stopping off in Charlotte, North Carolina to visit some family friends before heading to Manhattan for 10 days. I’m making the trip to suss out some Spring Internship/Work prospects, plus of course there will be time for exploring and shopping!

Last time I visited New York was 2007 so it will be wonderful to head back. I’ve got a whole list of things I hope to see and do whilst I’m there, several involve my all-time favourite show Sex and the City (Carrie’s apartment, Magnolia Bakery), plus some touristy things I didn’t get around to doing last time, like the Brooklyn Bridge and The Empire State Building. Courtesy of my favourite coffee table book, Taschen’s New York, I’ve got a list of caf├ęs, delis and restaurants I want to visit (Dean & Deluca, La Bergamote Patisserie, Momofuku and Shake Shack). Not sure how fun dining-for-one will be but I’ll give it a go. And of course, since here in Australia we are truly starved of any decent retail therapy (perhaps Melbourne you are the exception), I’ll certainly be doing some shopping! 5th avenue I’m on my way.

I’ll be in the USA for Thanksgiving so I’m looking forward to seeing how this age-old American tradition transforms the country. Perhaps I’ll have a turkey lunch! Plus I’ll be in Manhattan for the lighting of the Rockefella Christmas tree – can’t wait!

I’ll keep you posted on my travels.

Photo by Taschens.

9 November 2012

One Day. And they all lived happily ever after.

I think a trip to London this December is in order. Why I hear you ask? Because this Christmas season, Harrods is indulging every girl’s childhood dream.

The world famous department store is recreating Disney’s princess gowns.

No, this is not another magical fairytale, it is actually happening! Ten international designers have each been commissioned to redesign a princess dress that will feature in Harrods' window display this Christmas. Who gets which princess gown I hear you ask? Here is a list for your viewing pleasure:

Ariel from The Little Mermaid – Marchesa
Cinderella – Versace
Sleeping Beauty – Ellie Saab
Rapunzal – Jenny Packham
Jasmin from Aladdin – Escada
Pocahontas – Roberto Cavalli
Mulan – Missoni
Belle from Beauty & the Beast – Valentino
Tiana from The Princess & the Frog – Ralph & Russo
Snow White – Oscar de la Renta

Scroll down to catch a glimpse of my favs. Once upon a time…

 Marchesa's Ariel

 Valentino's Belle

 Roberto Cavalli's Pocahontas

 Ellie Saab's Sleeping Beauty

R & R's Tiana

Photos by Harrods.

7 November 2012

Must Have. Dolce & Gabbana gold crystal jewellery set

Following the season’s latest trend, D&G’s F/W runway was all about opulence. These pieces are the perfect ode to that sentiment. The jewels feature an intricate gold design, with inlaid bronze stones and velvet threads; the perfect addition to any evening-wear outfit. I particularly love the drop earrings. Necklace - $850, earrings - $670.

5 November 2012

Plate Up. Pizza

This little beauty will have you nattering away like a true Italian. Bellisimo! Ciao bella! Mario! Luigi! Ok it’s obviously my Italian is a little restricted and I play too much MarioKart, but what is undeniable is the delicious taste of this pizza! I truly think it is worth making your own dough. You can get it as thick and doughy or as thin and crispy as you like. And it’s fresh!! I also recommend making your own pizza sauce, it’s so easy. Just schedule in an extra 30mins cooking time and you’ll thank me.

What you’ll need
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2½ cups plain flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

pizza sauce:
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon chilli powder

plus your favourite pizza toppings, I’ve used:
cherry tomatoes
smoked ham
roasted artichokes

What to do
First make the dough. Combine yeast, salt and sifted flour in a large bowl and gradually stir in combined water and oil. Knead dough on a floured surface for about 10minutes until smooth and elastic (roll in with one hand and squash down with the other). Place dough in a clean bowl that is dusted with flour and cover. Stand in a warm place for about 30minutes or until dough doubles in size.

Whilst your dough is rising, make your pizza sauce. Combine tomato paste, oil, herbs and garlic. Prepare pizza topping ingredients. Preheat oven to 220degrees Celsius.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down with fist and knead again on a floured surface until smooth. Cut dough in half and roll out as preferred, placing on two oiled baking trays.

Coat pizza in pizza sauce and add desired toppings. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on cheese. Bake in oven for 15minutes or until dough is golden brown.

Photo by Krissie.

2 November 2012

One Day. Why is relaxing so stressful?

This week marks the end of my education. After 14 years of schooling, (a 2 year working break) and 3 years of a university degree, I have finally finished [formal] learning. Handing in my last assignment and presenting my final presentation earlier this week I expected to feel a wave of relief; a bit of time to relax and unwind…

Instead I felt panic.

The word ‘relax’ has never really been part of my vocabulary. At some point it seems I became that person that doesn’t know what it means to ‘chill out’.  In any one day I would normally be up at uni for up to 12 hours before coming home to do the food shopping, eat some dinner and continue working on assignments or work for work. But if the truth be told, I actually like it that way.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with spare time. If I’ve got a morning free I’ll say to myself ‘great some relaxation should be good’, but a few hours spent watching a movie or lazing around makes me feel terrible and eventually I’ll find myself staring into space, frantically trying to remember something urgent I absolutely have to get done.

Over the years I’ve tried meditation and yoga. It claims to be stress-relief but for me it may as well be torture. I’m not sure why I thought sitting still in a room, doing absolutely nothing for an extended period of time was going to be helpful. “Quiet the mind,” they say… and I’m certainly not one to shy away from a challenge, so I make every attempt to think about nothing. ‘Think black, darkness, empty, vacant…. (which magically transforms into) vacancy, no vacancy, the horror movie, who was the actress in that again, she reminds me of that model who was in last month’s Harper’s fashion shoot, she wore neon Calvin Klein, I should go back to Witchery to buy that vibrant yellow t-shirt, perhaps I could get there on Thursday…’ You get the point.
Never. Again.

The only relief I seem to find comes from writing 'to do' lists. Getting it all down on paper is the only therapy I need, then as I achieve things, I take great pleasure in [somewhat violently] crossing items off one by one. Trouble is when the list is completed, I'm back to square one - feeling panicked because I'm list-less. So I start the system again: new list. It seems this is the best strategy for me and I'm sticking to it.