hey everyone, here is another way to look at NYC neighborhood by neighborhood. There is a simple instrumental soundtrack so enjoy the this little escape into words that make up neighborhoods.

Pastiche—A Collective Composition of New York City, by Ivan Safrin & Christian Marc Schmidt from Christian Marc Schmidt on Vimeo.

"its unbelievable"!!

We are so happy Slumdog Millionaire has been recognized throughout the world as a 'the best' movie. It is amazing and if you have not seen it yet, please do. My favorite part of seeing this movie win award after award last night was the final few moments when the best picture was awarded to the producer and much of the cast came to the stage. The little kids that acted in the movie, many straight from the actual slums, are so adorable. Here is an interview with them by Ryan Secrest. Its a 4 min video, but the kids go until about 1:45. I can't stop smiling when I watch it! So cute!!!

we feel so smart

today tom and I headed to one of the city's top cultural spots: the American Museum of Natural History. Its located on 79th and Central Park West, across the street from Central Park in the Upper East Side. The building is gorgeous and the surrounding area is my fave area (tied with Greenwich). Its full of shops, pubs, restaurants and cafe's as well as beautiful architecture that always keep us looking around when we are there.

The museum is huge. It was built in the late 1800's and Theodore Roosevelt, among others, was a founder. There are quite a few Roosevelt references and collections within the Museum. There are giant windows on the upper floors that overlook Central Park. It was our first time visiting and we knew some of what to expect, but it was even better than we had anticipated. It is impressive to say the least. There are 4 floors covering mammals, extinct mammals, dinosaurs, the planet, the ocean and almost an entire floor on the anthropological side of things (clothing, artifacts and other mementos from various cultures and peoples) which has a wonderful Tibet exhibit that we spent some time browsing through. As with any museum, there is no way you can possibly see the entire place without tiring out, but we did our best. We spent the most time at the ocean exhibit and the dinosaurs. I got goose-bumps being near the dinosaurs--amazing. We were also fascinated with the scientific slant and the museum's informative position on the evolutionary relationships between mammals from long ago and mammals of today.

We need to go back and spend more time on the anthropology exhibits, but thats for another day. We learned so much-- did you know that we as an educated society knows more about the make up of the moon and Mars than we do about our own Ocean floor? That is a shame. Did you know that some frogs actually carry their unfertilized eggs on their BACK in custom made "holes" until the baby frogs develop and hatch? I've got tons more if you are interested... ;-)

After our museum tour, we headed to the world famous grocery store (note: the term "grocery store" cheapens this gourmet destination) Zabars.

This is an Upper West Side staple store on Broadway and 80th and is always crowded regardless of the day of the week. The specialty cheese shop, olive bar and deli counter are fun to browse through and it was hard to not buy all of our groceries there. We were starving after Zabars so we stopped at McAleers, a great Irish Pub on Amsterdam, and shared some nachos and beer. Ahhhhh. Perfect.

The weather was very rainy and snowy today so the museum was a great activity and now we are home and relaxing with the dogs. Have a good week everyone!!

statue and tapestry of the first dalai lama
diana and a dinosaur
the museum
tom and a teradactyl
tom cruising the brownstones
a few dinosaurs

Yet another wonderful inspiring day in the city happened upon me. I had quite a bit of work to catch up on but also wanted to get to the city to get some writing done, so while Tom headed to the boat to fine tune the alternator, I headed to Manhattan. I started off down by the WTC site and walked about 4 miles or so uptown. I was on the hunt for free wi-fi and while the city pretty much is all free wi-fi at this point, its still pretty cold out, so a place with intrigue, character, work space and coffee was sounding perfect. I wandered over to the East Village, near NYU and found THE most perfect coffee shop I have ever been to: Think Coffee. It is a coffee bar and at night a wine bar. The sitting area is vast--and the inside looks a lot like the cafe in Friends, but bigger. Couches, chairs, small round tables with chairs and very intimate, even though crowded. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by S Vega blared out the speakers as I meandered through the many NYU students and professors alike that I bet take refuge here before or after their classes. The walls were all exposed brick--a very NY look--and one that I would love to have when we move to a brownstone someday (hint hint honey...).

I ordered my free trade, organic coffee and organic turkey, brie and cranberry sandwich on raisin bread and settled in for what I hoped would be a long time. The music switched often, but I loved all the sounds--especially Jay Z, my current sound addiction. I caught up on my work and then was aching to share this coffee shop experience with someone! The texts to Tom, although descriptive and his responses excited, just weren't doing it for me, so I called Angie and in like 15 min she was there with her mac and we wrote and talked--mostly talked.

After a couple hours and realizing that the wine bar didn't actually open until after 7 (to our dismay), we decided to head out and cruise the East Village. It was beautiful weather--cold--but clear as it is most days here. I had made some earlier plans to possibly meet up with my friend Justin (his website is featured on this blog as "awesome nyc art") so I could pick up some new pieces he had finished. We ended up hooking up and he met Ang and I at Gemma --on Bowery, the restaurant within the famous Bowery Hotel (a definite place for celebrity sightings... altho, once again, I saw no one. But I digress...)
We enjoyed some wine while looking at Justin's newest pieces and talking about his other creative outlets--he is producing a short film and also does dj mixes. He is originally from Toronto but in his nearly 2 years here he is becoming pretty connected in the media world. He knows I am a writer and he has offered to help me with photo shoots and some artwork for a new website I am creating (with help from my very talented cousin Ryan) to showcase and promote my writing pieces (more to come on that). I gladly accepted his offer! Our conversation on options and projects and opportunities was extremely inspiring to us and just drove home the fact even more that I am doing the right thing going in this writing direction. More than that though---it was great to get to know Justin a bit more and have he and Angie become friends too. It was a fun time for sure--check out Justin's website. You can order from him via email and he'll ship to you! His prices are reasonable--in fact when I first met him and bought some pieces I told him he needed to raise his prices!!


When it was time to head out it had just started to sprinkle some. Instantly, cabs appeared for Angie and I and Justin went on foot. The cabbie that picked me up was a good soul-- he saw me in the rain and told me he'd take me as far as he was going as his shift was ending---only to Union Square (15th or so): with the meter off--- FREE. WOW. It wasn't like a creepy cab or a creepy driver so I didn't feel unsafe, but it was a bit surreal to be in a free cab. While his offer was nice, I needed to get to 33rd to catch the train. I razzed him some in jest about me needing to get farther than 15th, but just let him know that I was grateful for him picking me up and that I'd grab another cab at Union Square. Well, we got to visiting and I noticed the street numbers getting larger... 15 came and went, 23rd, 28th--he ended up driving me all the way to 33rd with the meter off the entire time. He was very happy to have helped me and after tipping him, I was off to the train reflecting on the bad image that NY'ers often get labeled with and how that is SO FALSE. I have never encountered a rude person here and if anything, Tom and I both have MANY examples of people going out of their way to be helpful. My friends that have visited and Angie as well can also attest to this. (Its funny, but Tom and I watch Seinfeld reruns pretty regularly and we noticed that many of the episodes, while hilarious, have the cast in situations with other NY'ers that give NY'ers a bad rap--of course this didn't stand out to us prior to us living here).

My day was looking to end on a quiet train ride where I'd listen to some Jay Z I had heard earlier at Think Coffee and maybe write in my journal. The train was packed so I ended up sharing a seat with guy. He struck up a conversation about me not having an umbrella which of course led to me saying that I was from Seattle and to use an umbrella when being from there is deemed unacceptable. That led to a whole RANGE of topics and I listened intently to him talk to me about body transformation with an eagle, how we have to be true to ourselves and so on and so forth. It was an invigorating conversation and I had some envy over his perfectly formed dreadlocks--they were great. His name was Wazeen and he was originally from Atlanta, but in NY since '68, 58 years old and has 14 grandchildren. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to him.

As the title to this post reads: inspired day. inspired life: I love living here, I love the people I gather with and meet and I love putting myself out there to find these experiences and people. I crave the interaction with others different from me--who I can learn from as well as crave the different adventures there are to be had in this great city. I am thankful to have the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of people, places and experiences SO often out here. I am also grateful that Tom lets me be the free spirit that I am sometimes. As adventurous as he is, he would have DIED if I started talking about dreadlocks and eagle/human body transformation with a rasta man on the train if he were with me. :-) To each his own. :-)

Its supposed to snow tomorrow so I think we'll try and make it to some museums. Have a great Saturday!


wazeen my train friend
think coffee's exterior and a dog
my fave piece of Justin's artwork-- TriBeCa
the bowery hotel
a sweet open mike poetry club on bowery (reminded us totally of the movie "So I Married An Axe Murderer").

Happy President's Day

'The fellow in the portrait on the left taught us that anyone can be president. The guy on the right taught us that not everyone should.-- Sarah Smith for NBC NY

Today we celebrate a wonderful occasion in the United States. NO WORK! Ha--but seriously, today is the observed day to celebrate Washington and Lincoln's birthdays. Why do we only celebrate theirs? You'd think I would know since I have been celebrating this day since I was a kid, but I always assumed because they were our two best Presidents (until now maybe...)... but what about Grant or the Roosevelt gents, Kennedy or Reagan?

My friend Matty's folks always had a Presidents Day Party each year--which I think is a fabulous idea. They recited the Declaration of Independence and then proceeded to party it up like the Presidents would (except for Clinton--Matty's parents are decent people).

On this special holiday which isn't known for gift giving or hunting eggs in the bushes or hoping cupid comes a callin' , I am posting some interesting facts about some of our lesser known Presidents... for it is their day too.

James Madison was only 5'4". Dang.

James Buchanan was the only President to never marry.

John Tyler, 10th Pres of the US, had 15 children note: when I was in 10th grade our History class had to learn every single President, their term, their party and their VP. I have completely blocked Tyler out of my mind. His name does not ring a single bell. Odd.

William Henry Harrison died in office (1841) and served just one month. note: Conspiracy theories welcome here.

James Garfield could write in Greek with one hand and in Latin with the other simultaneously.

Woodrow Wilson kept sheep to trim the White House Lawn and didn't learn to read until he was 9 years old.

Martin Van Buren and his wife spoke Dutch at home and owned two tiger cubs as pets.

Chester A Arthur was accused of being born in Canada.

Calvin Coolidge had an electronic horse installed in the White House that he rode nearly every day.

Yet another famous New York event started yesterday and wanting to check all things as DONE on my NY "been there, done that" list, I dressed fashionably, trained into the city to meet my equally fashionably dressed friend Angie and we started out on the first day of Fashion Week.

We met up in one of my favorite areas in the city-- the Meatpacking District. I have blogged about this area before and for those of you who live in Seattle, think of Belltown meets Capital Hill--but even cooler. The heavy cobblestone streets curve and cut into one another and the buildings are all a bit shorter and a bit more warehouse like than the towering Empire State Building and the like that you see in the distance. The sky was super blue--no clouds--it was a gorgeous day. We were bundled a bit since the streets of Manhattan become honest to God wind tunnels when the city gets any sort of wind storms (we have had a bunch lately here) but it wasn't too frigid with the sun up. Spice Market on 13th and 9th was where we chose to dine. Its almost cin the mod Chelsea area. Its an Asian restaurant if you had to label it, but the New York Times describes it much better as:

inspired a passion for Asian street-vendor food, and conceived in collaboration with formerly hibernating chef Gray Kunz, has been vibrating with diners, drinkers, fans, celebrities, and the dressed-to-kill from the moment it opened.

I got there a smidge early and decided to wait at the bar for Ang. I had the delightful experience of meeting and visiting with Hayden (the bartender, but so much more) while I waited. He is originally from Georgia, but moved to NY on his own around the same time Tom and I moved so he could work on his writing. How AWESOME is that? What courage and drive--just talking to him inspired me even more to make it in this world as a writer. We talked for a good 30 min while Angie met and made friends with some folks at a nearby place where she stopped on the way (another story) and I truly enjoyed it. We had instant camaraderie from being new to NY and both being writers and journal-ers. I must get Hayden to meet Cora, my other writer friend so we 3 can inspire each other! I am sure I'll see Hayden again prior to him becoming a famous author--I plan to take Tom to Spice Market next time we are in the city. The food is excellent. Restaurant week has been extended here in the city (economy driven?) but Ang and I actually found delicious affordable option off the regular menu. I had the Chicken Pad Thai and the butternut squash soup while Ang had the Vietnamese Sandwich. Have each when you visit there...

After Spice Market we began our route to our final destination at Bryant Park, but of course we didn't go straight there--we had to make some stops. Angie really wanted to take me by 202 to see the place and meet her new friend Carlos. 202 is AWESOME. Only in NY can a place like this exist--well, I can visualize similar places in San Francisco, but on the East Coast, only in NY. To describe it best imagine that the line between food and fashion is blurred. 202 is a restaurant but sort of "placed" in the middle of swanky store for vintage clothes, household items and antique furniture. They offer brunch, lunch and dinner and one of the friendliest waiters ever--Carlos. Calling him a waiter though is beneath him--he was very warm with his greeting and made sure that Ang and I had some drinks on the house while we discussed fashion week, our life plans and our next stop: The Tibet House. By the way, 202 is another place that I have on my "Take Tom to" list.

We wandered a few blocks over to The Tibet House which hosts many events that pay tribute, benefit and educate people on Tibet, their history, the people, art, etc. They are hosts to the Dalai Lama's visit in May, huge event for any city (that we are attending by the way! Yay!). We only stayed briefly but I know I will be back to browse around there more.

We hopped the train after that and headed to Bryant Park. The park in the Winter has the ice skating rink I love and in the summer, well kept grass that is covered with sun bathers and picnic'ers. For this in between time each year the park is covered with large white tents and house the runways, fashion models and designers displaying the newest styles. We didn't have tickets to the shows going on, but we loitered outside to see who's who in the fashion world. Honestly--we only saw a few people we recognized and as one NYPD cop said to me whille we were leering and spying at the people exiting the tent "only the D-list stars come out the front door". Makes a lot of sense. Next time we'll camp out by the dumpsters in back. We had a great time though and laughed at many of the so called "styles" we saw.

It was a great day and here are a few pics.

Today Tom and I are enjoying Valentines Day by just hanging out and I think we'll do sushi for dinner. We are busy planning for our Curacao trip too... only about a month away!
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY everyone! Talk to you soon!!

pics: Spice Market and the area; Hayden and Diana; Chelsea Market sign on the walk to 202 and Angie just hanging out at some clothes racks before we sat down; the city around Bryant Park "Fashion Central"; the tent and above the tent; cool Gargoyles

The temps were warm enough today in NY, that some cities around the country (specifically in the pacific nw) might have mistaken it for a summer day. We are new enough to this area that WE nearly mistook it for a summer day!!! Got to 65 in the city and 69 in the surrounding areas. Forget the fact that its supposed to snow on Saturday and then again Tuesday... I think I got a tan today at lunch when I walked the dogs!! You know that wonderful smell that the air has on the first few warm days of the year? I love that smell and it filled the house today through the windows I had opened. NY does get some random warm days in the Winter and what a treat they are!

Hope everyone is having a good week. We are and are keeping busy!

wow what a weekend!!

Tom and I have been busy from the 5' o-clock "quitting time" bell on Friday until just about an hour ago!!

Friday we had such a good time with two great friends we have made since moving here--Cora and Brian. Tom and Brian have actually known each other for years through work. Cora and I--well, its been said we are kindred spirits! We have a lot in common and have so much fun when together! We have already made some plans for summer--yes summer!!

Saturday, Tom invited over the "new guy" at work for dinner. Mark's family is still in Arizona and will move out this summer. It was such a nice day out--50's-- we bbq'd salmon and for dessert we welcomed him to the area the right way with the NY famous black and white cookies (my new favorite thing).

Today though--today, was the best! Tom and I took advantage of the near 60 degree sunny weather and went into the city and just wandered. We walked blocks and blocks and visited Union Square to browse and bought some art (a sweet Brooklyn Bridge/city shot) took some pics, went to the very hip 'Joe' to have a little coffee, snacked on some yummy yogurt at Red Mango, browsed for books at the Strand and just had a wonderful day. The city was full of people as usual, but it didn't seem crowded at all. We of course get off the beaten path and go down the streets less traveled (thats when you see the best things/places/people anyway). After coming home we enjoyed catching up with my 4yr old nephew Zane and my newly 2yr old niece Chloe on Skype. They are so cute I can hardly stand it. After watching them sing, put on outfits (the Incredibles, a Witches hat, Batman (and Bruce Wayne as Zane pointed out) and a Mets player) we are now reflecting on a full, fun weekend.

Hopefully everyone had a great one too and here are just a couple pics. Tom getting us some street lunch, Diana SUPER smiley about going to the city and Joe coffee cups. Also-- a quick video we took today of my favorite building in the city (Flat Iron) and the surrounding famous intersection at Madison Square Park starring non other than my very handsome TOM! (much to his dismay).

ny fun

A couple things to report...

1) This article has gotten so many hits on the internet its been called by some "the best thing you will see on the web all week" (this blog excluded of course). The pics are great. Courtesy of the NY Times.


2) A few months ago I did a blog post on the mysterious yet delicious smell of maple syrup that drifts through Manhattan every once in a while and that the source of the smell has been a mystery for years. Well--its been solved. It comes from Jersey! Apparently, a fragrance factory in Bergan County (North Jersey) is the culprit. Yes, yes I know what you all may be thinking-- 'Wow! a good smell from New Jersey??!!'
I have to say I am surprised the source stayed a mystery for years... are you telling me NO ONE put two and two together--I mean, this isn't a super secret fragrance factory?

Of course, this spawned many a headlines in local papers slamming what has been the whipping boy for NY for, well, forever--Jersey. Here are my faves:

"Whats that smell? Oh, Its Jersey"
"Blame Jersey! NY maple mystery solved"

Poor Jersey--it really isn't that bad. Well, most of it isn't that bad (note: steer clear of Trenton, Elizabeth and when getting off the plane in Newark, don't dilly dally).

Happy Thursday!!!

I thought we were free from these terrifying events now that we live away from the west coast which seems to be entirely made up of fault lines. Even Seattle, while not as bad as California, is due for "the big one" soon... Another reason why I am in NO hurry to go back there; earthquakes FREAK me out and I have been through enough to know I don't like them.

The funny thing is that we didn't even realize that what had happened was an earthquake. Its as if when we moved, I removed that definition/feeling/memory etc from my mind. So when we were just getting ready to doze off and heard a HUGE boom that shook the bed, the windows--the roof, Tom and I remained calm and looked at each other saying "What was that?"

There is a small plane airport near us and we looked into the woods to see if a plane had crashed. We wondered, can it thunder when snowing (as it was snowing)? Turns out, it was only a 3.0 which is small as far as earthquakes go, but for here--it was BIG just because they are so rare.

So, there is the big news for our day. Lets hope thats as big as it gets in terms of earthquakes.

Its also that time again in this blog dear readers, to give a shout out to another faithful follower of our blog:

This regular reader once told me she lives vicariously through me through this blog---which is ironic, because most of my young life I thought she had the best life ever and I wanted to live as she did. I am talking about my Auntie Renee! She, like most of my aunts are not much older than me, therefore making her automatically "cool" as far as aunts go. In her past life she was a tireless and very patient babysitter of 3 children (me, Steph & Grant) who used to wake us up, after we had fallen asleep, so we could see our favorite tv shows that were on past our bedtime; she carried (carries?) an endless supply of white tic-tacs and dentyne in her purse which brought her many nieces and nephews great joy; who, along with Aunt Cindy, offered endless encouragement to me during my college years; and who traveled all over the world to amazing locales--something she still does.
Thanks Auntie for reading our blog and for being such a great support in my life. :) Come and visit soon!

Staten Island, one of the 5 NYC Boroughs (but the one the other Boroughs don't like to recognize) is famous for its events on this Feb 2. This article is courtesy of the NY NBC website.

Staten Island Chuck Fails to See His Shadow

Staten Island Chuck to Punxsutawney Phil: Fugetaboutit!

New York City's Charles G. Hogg, known to friends as Chuck, begs to differ with the famous furball in Pennsylvania.
Phil saw his shadow, which is supposed to mean six more weeks of winter. But Chuck, "speaking" through New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saw "absolutely no shadow."
If you're wondering how to plan ahead, bear in mind that Phil has been right only 37 percent of the time -- worse than a coin toss could hope to do -- while the mighty Chuck has logged an 85-percent success rate.

Bloomberg, noting the City Council's funding powers, said Chuck had better be right.
Quipped Bloomberg: “If Chuck embarrasses us, this is going to be a very long winter for the Staten Island Zoo.”

ps: happy birthday honey. I love you. :-)

Since its Tom's bday weekend, he was able choose the agenda for today... and after I slept in (he wanted me to, really...) and we both hit the gym, we ran a couple errands and then went hiking back to our new fave place--the Appalachian Trail on the PA border. The trail and surrounding area was of course covered in snow--but no matter, that just made for a better workout! The dogs LOVED it (of course they came) and they did great the entire 3 1/2 miles--until the end when little Ollie started to lose some steam.

We made it home for the big game and are enjoying it and the quiet night at home.

side note: We hope you all saw NJ's best citizen perform at the Superbowl. In my opinion, this bowl was super ONLY because of BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCEEEEEEEEEE! Made us wish we were with my dad (huge Bruce fan) and mom watching! My dad and I would have the tv cranked and be singing and dancing along (as I did at home with Tom) and my mom would be saying "turn it down"!! ;)

pics of the hike to come...