Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hangawi - Restaurant Review


This is one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants and I often take friends here as the decor is so different from anything else I have found in New York. On arrival you remove your shoes and walk through an authentic Korean-style dining room, which is quite impressive. You sit at sunken tables, so it feels like you are sitting on floor, which adds to the overall experience.

A friend and I went for lunch and were lucky enough to get one of the last tables This place always seems busy, so I would make a reservation to ensure you get a table.

I ordered the 'Mini Emperor's Lunch' which a four course prix fix menu for $22, which is good value. The first course was a traditional Korean pumpkin porridge, which I very much enjoyed. It was followed by the 'vermicelli delight', which was a tasty, hot noodle dish.

The main course was a vegetarian stone rice bowl served with kimchi. They make the bowl as spicy as you want, and I told them to use the entire serving of chili sauce. The rice bowl would have benefited from more vegetables, I didn't feel there was enough variety or quantity. Also, I would have preferred it to be even spicier, although I am sure they would have given me more sauce had I asked. The kimchi was alright, but again it could have done with more spice.

For dessert we were served a tofu and nut ice cream which was delicious. I don't know how they make it, but it is the best non-dairy ice cream I have eaten. It is worth the trip for the dessert alone!

The service is fine, it's nothing special but is quick and efficient. They did bring out the second course when my friend was still eating her first, but otherwise it was spaced out well.

I enjoyed the overall experince of this restaurant and will keep coming back for the excellent dining room and good food.  For more information please visit http://www.hangawirestaurant.com

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Celeb Spot! David Duchovny!

I was waiting for my gym class at Equinox yesterday, and noticed that all of the women were staring at someone working out on the gym floor.  I looked over and saw David Duchovny working out with a personal trainer!  The 'X-Files' and 'Californication' star looked very fit as he trained, and yes, he is just as good looking in real life!

On my way out of the gym I saw him again in the gym cafe with a friend.  It was a very exciting start to the week and a motivator to keep going to the gym, you never know who you might see working out!

Friday, November 1, 2013

'LUCE' at The Claire Tow Theatre

I am a huge fan of LCT3 and the 'LinkTix' program offered by the Lincoln Centre.  'LincTix' is a discounted ticket program for 21-35 years, which offers $32 seats for performances at the Lincoln Centre Theatre.  You also get access to pre-sales of all LCT3 shows, all of which are all only $20, and the opportunity to attend post-show cocktail parties.

This week I was lucky enough to attend such an event at the Claire Tow theatre, where the new play 'LUCE', written by JC Lee, is currently showing.  'LUCE' tells the story of an adopted high-school student with a bright future. He is star of the football team, gets good grades and is popular with his peers.  However, when a teacher feels uneasy about an essay he writes, she checks his locker finding a bag full of explosives.

The story starts with teacher Harriet, (played by Sharon Washington) telling Luce's Mum Amy, (played by Marin Hinkle of 'Two and a Half Men') of her discovery.  Amy's actions following the news show a mother torn between the love for her son and the possibility that he might not be as perfect as she and her husband thought.

I thought that Marin Hinkle (Amy) and Okieriete Onaodowan (Luce) were the strongest of the cast and their performances were excellent.  The scenery and staging were simple, but extremely effective, and moved slickly from scene to scene.  As the theatre is so small you can observe this powerful performance up close and personal, which make all the difference to a theatre experience.

After the performance we were treated to a cocktail party in the theatre bar.  There was a free bar serving soft drinks, beer and wine and a table of hors d'oeuvres, with fresh fruits, cheese and cakes.  Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to sample anything as I could face the giant crowd surrounding the table!  However, they did have big buckets of popcorn at the bar, so we had some of that with a glass of wine. As the cast came out I was lucky enough to meet Marin Hinkle, who was so friendly and happy to talk about the play, she was lovely!   My husband also met Okieriete Onaodowa and had a brief chat with the actor.  It was wonderful to meet them and congratulate them on an amazing job.  It was a great end to a brilliant evening.

'LincTix' is completely free to join and you can sign up at http://lct.org/linctixMain.htm.  'LUCE' is currently playing at the Claire Tow theatre until the 21st November.  You can buy tickets online at https://www.telecharge.com or for LincTix members at https://membership.telecharge.com/golinctix.aspx?PID=&FID=2

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Upstate Trip to Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow

It always amazes me that you can drive an hour north of Manhattan and find yourself in the beautiful Hudson Valley, surrounded by scenic countryside and fresh air. Looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, my husband and I recently went for an overnight stay in the lovely Tarrytown.

The drive isn’t particularly picturesque until you get north of Yonkers, but after that we enjoyed some great views of the initial onset of autumn and the amazing colour changes of the leaves. We stayed at the ‘Tarrytown House and Estate’, which is set in acres of sprawling grounds full of trees and gardens. The house itself is an attractive building, and is home to the ‘Cellar 49’ Bar and Restaurant. Our room was located in one of the other, less aesthetically pleasing, buildings about a 5 minute walk from the reception. It was a pretty standard room, nothing amazing, but it was clean with a nice bathroom and king-size bed. It was more than fine for us and I liked the fact it had a decent Kreuig coffee machine.

Unfortunately we were unable to get a reservation in the hotel restaurant, but as I knew this ahead of time, I made a booking a great place in Tarrytown itself. We drove 10 minutes to main street and as soon as got there I was really pleased that the hotel restaurant couldn't fit us in. The street was packed full of people enjoying the mild evening and there was an abundance of inviting bars and restaurants. We ate in the 'Sweet Grass Grill’ which has a farm to table concept with lots of vegetarian choices on the menu. We started with the trio of dips and spiced polenta fries, both of which were tasty. I then opted for the vegan shepherd’s pie, which was delicious. My husband had a vegetarian pasta dish which he wasn't too keen on as it tasted too much of truffle oil. We finished with the dessert special, peach cobbler, which was the highlight of the meal.

After dinner we strolled up Main Street and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and buzz of the place. It was hard to believe we were only an hour away from Manhattan, I felt as it I was in a village in the Cotswolds' back in the UK.

When we got back to the hotel we went for a drink in the bar and encountered a raccoon climbing out of a bin by the entrance. It scared the life out of me, much to the amusement of my husband!  The bar was fine, it had a bit of a stuffy atmosphere, but the staff were friendly enough and we enjoyed a glass of wine before bed.

The following day we went back to Main Street for brunch and then drove north to Sleepy Hollow. Naively I didn’t realize that this was a real place and thought it was a work of fiction created by Washington Irving for 'The Legend f Sleepy Hollow'. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and it was a miserable day, dark and drizzly, but you could still appreciate the quaintness and beauty of place, it was a lovely little village. There are some interesting attractions there, including Philipsburg Manor which was unfortunately closed for Halloween. It had been turned in a haunted house, which I am sure would be very scary at night as it looked creepy enough from a distance in daylight!

As the weather became worse we decided to call it a day and drove back to the city. We had a lovely time in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow and will definitely visit again as we still have a lot more to see. It’s also worth making the trip to enjoy dinner on Main Street, which I bet will look fantastic decorated for the holidays.  If you don't have a car, fancy renting one or just don't want to drive, you can get to Tarrytown by train from Grand Central Station.

For more information about the hotel please visit http://www.tarrytownhouseestate.com and restaurant http://sweetgrassgrill.com/.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

'Casa Pomona' - Restaurant Review

'Casa Pomona' is a Spanish style tapas restaurant located on the Upper West Side.  It originally opened last year, but due to a burst water main, was closed for 7 months.  I had tried and liked the restaurant before it closed, and was glad when it recently re-opened.

The restaurant it nicely laid out and decorated.  There is a bar a communal tables as you enter, and the main dining room is located at the back.  It is well spaced out, with plenty of room between tables and no one bumping into your chair as they walk by.

The menu is varied and has a good selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.  As well as traditional tapas they serve a paella, again they have meat, fish and vegetable, as well as main course dishes.  I don't eat meat, so it was great to see such a wide variety of dishes from which I could choose.

We started with the 'Pan con Tomate', which was basically spicy tomatoes on toast and was delicious.  We then order a variety of dishes that came out periodically when they were ready.  The 'Patatas Bravas' and 'Salt Cod Croquettes' were delicious, as was the leek dish.  We enjoyed the spicy prawns, but weren't too keen on the mussels as they are served cold and had an odd taste to them.  We also tried the vegetable paella, which was worth the 45 minute wait (if you order as soon as you arrive it doesn't seem that long) and was a great addition to the meal.

Although we were completely stuffed, in the name of research (yeah whatever!) we tried a portion of the 'Churro's' which were served with chocolate dipping sauce. Delicious!

The service was very good, the staff were welcoming and friendly and we were served at a nice pace throughout the meal.

I would definitely go back to 'Casa Pomona', even though dinner can get a little pricey.  Those small plates add up and $25 for the vegetable paella seemed a bit steep to me. Add wine and drinks and you are probably looking at $100 for two for dinner.  It was well worth it though, and writing this is making my mouth water which must be a good sign!

For more information please visit http://casapomonanyc.com/ and you can make reservations via http://www.opentable.com.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

'Body Local' and Free tickets to 'FitDrinks NYC'!

FitDrinks NYC is "a monthly networking/cocktail party for personal trainers, yoga teachers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, nutritionists, running coaches, holistic health counselors, physical therapists, chiropractors, spin instructors, pilates teachers, zero balancers, dance teachers, meditation teachers, exercise physiologists, rolfers, dieticians, and anyone who wants to meet these people and re-define the detox-retox-redux".  Phew, that is a lot of fitness professionals in one room!  The event is hosted by 'Body Local', a website dedicated to fitness, wellness and nutrition in your local area.

The September party is taking place tomorrow (Thursday 12th September 2013) in the 'Reflections Center for Conscious Living' at 250 West 49th Street from 7-10pm.  There is an open bar serving holistic cocktails and DJ Tim Grae will be playing music.  You can also get complimentary mini-treatments from local practitioners as well as tasty, but healthy, treats from many restaurants including Candle Cafe, Pita Grill, Enlightened and Pipernilli.

Tickets for these events are normally $20, but you can go absolutely free if you go to the website, http://fitdrinks.eventbrite.com and use the Promo code LYNZES.  You can also find out more about the event at http://bodylocal.com.  This website is worth checking out anyway as it features lots of free exercise classes across the city, great deals on healthy food and much more.

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Katy Perry 'PRISM' Listening Party

Last night was one of the most exciting I have had since moving to New York, as I was lucky enough to attend the Katy Perry 'PRISM' listening event.  A 'play party', I learnt, is when an artist invites industry insiders to listen to songs from his/his new album.  A friend of mine works in the industry, and at the last minute her +1 had to cancel, so she invited me!  

The event took place downtown and in order to avoid any leaks, we had to check in our cell phones in at the door. The room was amazing, everything was white except from the blue lighting, which made it feel as if you were in a kaleidoscope.  My friend and I enjoyed a couple of drinks and some delicious canap├ęs before Katy Perry arrived on stage.  She looked beautiful and was wearing an gorgeous outfit with some very high Christian Louboutin shoes.

Katy then starting chatting to the audience and seemed very happy, making jokes and smiling throughout. We saw the 'ROAR' video and then we heard some of the songs from the new album.  Before each song Katy would tell us about it, explain why she wrote it and who she collaborated with on the track.  I really liked the songs she played, especially 'Walking on Air' and 'Dark Horse', which were more upbeat and dancey. Katy told us that her favourite song is 'Unconditionally', and the lyrics from 'Love Me' mean the most to her.  It was fun to watch her present the songs and see the crowd's reaction to them, everyone seemed to be having a great time.

After we had heard the last song, Katy was presented with an award to celebrate her 8th No.1 on the Hot 100 chart.  She then came down and started mingling with the guests, who were then able to have their photograph taken with the star.  I was lucky enough to meet and have my photograph taken with Katy Perry!  She was so lovely and had a little chat with me before we smiled for the camera.  She was very generous with her time and laughed and joked with everyone who wanted to meet her. I can also say she is even more stunning in the flesh!

It was an amazing and memorable night which I was extremely lucky to attend.  I am looking forward to buying the album when it comes out as I enjoyed all of the songs I heard.  PRISM comes out on 22nd October 2013 and you can get more information from the Katy Perry website at http://www.katyperry.com.

Celeb Spot! Perez Hilton and George Kotsiopoulos

My gym is the place to be this week as there are loads of celebs dropping by to use the facilities during New York Fashion Week.  I have taken a gym class with George Kotsiopoulos, who is one of the presenters on the TV show 'Fashion Police'.  He looked extremely athletic and muscular, and of course, was dressed very stylishly, even though he was only at the gym.

I also saw Perez Hilton getting put through his paces by a personal trainer.  Perez is a famous blogger, TV presenter and gossip columnist who writes about celebrities.

Who knows who else I might see over the next week, but I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

South Street Seaport After Sandy

It was just over 10 months ago that Hurricane Sandy hit New York and many parts of the city are still recovering from the devastation caused by the storm.  One of the areas badly affected was South Street Seaport, which is right on the water in downtown Manhattan.  Many of the shops and restaurants were completely ruined, and the area was a no go zone for many months.

However, the area is slowing being re-built, and as I hadn't been there since before the storm, I thought I would check it out.  On arrival into the market place we saw that some of the shops and restaurants are still closed, but many are open for business.  Guess, Super Dry and Abercrombie and Fitch are all open, as well as a couple of the smaller independent stores.

They have also used shipping containers to create 'pop-up' retail space for smaller shops and coffee bars.  It actually looks pretty cool, and they had turned the top of the container into an outdoor bar and seating area which would be great on a nice day.  Unfortunately for us it was raining, so we didn't get the benefit of sitting outside with a coffee, or enjoying food from one of many interesting looking food vendors.

We did stumble across a great little cafe on Front Street called 'Made Fresh Daily'.  They serve all natural and organic food, and are open for breakfast, brunch and lunch.  They have an array of delicious cakes and cookie, which we sampled with a cup of coffee.  I enjoyed a mini cherry cup cake and my husband had a rather large oatmeal and raisin cookie, both of which were delicious.  The meals I saw being served looked great and there was a nice quiet atmosphere as people sat reading newspapers and chatting.  If you are in the area it is worth a visit, you can get more information at http://www.madefreshdailybakeshop.com.

After coffee and cake we strolled down towards the end of Pier 17 that used to house a small mall.  This was closed and boarded up, but there were some stalls and street vendors.  I think the weather had probably caused some to close, but there was more open than I had anticipated.

Although South Street Seaport isn't back to it's former glory, it is slowly, but surely getting there.  It is easy to forget that people and businesses are still suffering in the aftermath of Sandy, so I think it is important to support the growth of the area by paying it a visit.  For more information on the rebuilding of the Seaport, current openings and events, visit http://www.southstreetseaport.com.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Keeping Pretty in New York City

I have always be an advocate of the facial and get one religiously every month. I believe in the ‘prevention is better than cure’ theory and think that investing this time and money in my skin will be more than worth it in the long run.

 I think it is especially important to take care of your skin when living in such a busy and dirty city. Lack of clean, fresh air and being in such close proximity to many pollutants can take its toll on your skin, especially when we experience extended heat waves and high humidity. It is important to get rid of the dirt and build-up of sweat and sun cream that can clog pores and cause various skin ailments.

Taking time out from the fast-paced city we live in is also incredibly important. A facial is a relaxing and calming experience that allows you to unwind and take a break from city life. The only downside are the extractions (spot-squeezing!), which is something I hadn’t experienced in the UK, but who said looking good was easy!

Since moving to New York I have been searching for my perfect facial, one which suited both my skin and budget. There is no shortage of spas in the city and over the past couple of years I have tried many of them from upscale to budget. While many of the upscale spas provide excellent treatments, they often come with a hefty price tag, which doesn’t make it a long-term option. I have tried cheaper options, but the level of service wasn’t great and had no urge to go back.

 After hitting the Internet with the search ‘best facial in New York City’ I came across ‘Pretty Please’, which had excellent reviews and reasonable prices. I went online to book an appointment, and although I was disappointed to find a 3 month waiting list, I thought it must be good!

 All of the treatments at ‘Pretty Please’ are created and performed by the owner, Jennifer Haley Rasa, who has over 15 years’ experience in the industry, seven of which have been focused on facials. The treatments take place in a beautiful room located in a high rise in Flatiron. Jenn is sweet and welcoming and I felt immediately at ease and relaxed. She went through the entire treatment before-hand so I knew what to expect.

The Eminence products used are all natural and organic. They also smell divine and feel great on the skin. My favourite product was the spicy paprika face scrub/mask that tingles and feels like your face is pulsing. I felt as if a layer of old had been taken off to reveal fresh new skin underneath. You are constantly pampered throughout the treatment and are never left alone in the room. While the mask is on you get a wonderful hand and arm massage as well as a one on your head, back, shoulder and face. Most importantly my face looked great afterwards, my skin was glowing and felt soft and supple.

The treatment was amazing and as I lay there during the massage I thought to myself, at last I have finally found the perfect facial. I booked my next two appointments that day and am looking forward to them already.

After my treatment I was chatting with Jenn and asked her for some tips on skin care between facials in the summer. She gave me these amazing tips to share with you:

 1. Exfoliate away all the dead skin cells and grime from the day with a daily exfoliator. I like to use a rice powder from Eminence Organic Skin Care called Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant.

 2. Detox and mask!! We must detox the skin to release all the pollution and congestion that enters are skin through these hot summer months. I like to use Spices like paprika and stinging nettle. My favorite products to use are the Hungarian Herbal Mud Mask for acne prone Skin and Eight Greens Phyto Mask with paprika to avoid any breakouts and kick the skin back into shape! Once we get the bad out we must put the good in but use an appropriate mask to fill those pores with some nutrients and vitamins.

3. Lastly you must were your SPF!! It should have at least 30 and contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to get both UVA and UVB protection! The sun can do a lot of damage to your skin and cause premature aging, hyper pigmentation and skin cancer! We must protect our skin. Also trying to avoid the sun from the hours of 10-2 are a sure way of staying protected from those harmful rays. That's when they are the strongest! So wear hats, umbrellas and stay in the shade during those times of the day! :)

Pretty Please offer an array on treatments starting at $55 for the mini facial. I had the classic facial which lasted an hour and was $93. For more information visit http://www.prettypleaseny.com/.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Baby University

 I recently went to see 'A Kid Like Jake' at the 'Claire Tow' theatre in the Lincoln Centre. It follows the story of two parents as they brave the New York private school application process. It highlights the emotional affects it can have on a family and the impact on the child. The portrayal of desperation and frustration in this play must ring true with many parents across Manhattan. 

As a former Kindergarten teacher in London's private school system, I am aware of the stressful process required to secure a child a place in the most popular schools. However, since moving to New York I have discovered that the system here is more grueling, and the competition for spots even greater.

Applying for the best schools in New York starts early in a child's life, sometimes before they are even born. Waiting lists to apply for certain schools start years before the child will begin his or her education. The actual submissions procedure then requires endless form filling, essay writing, interviews, observations and exams. 

The ERB (Educational Records Bureau) test for pre-schoolers is required by all of the top private schools in the city. Many parents pay for tutors to coach their child in preparation for the exam, where anything below 90% is considered a poor score. It seems like a tremendous amount of pressure to place on a 4-year old.

But why are these schools regarded in such high stead? You could argue that if you only pick the brightest, most academic and easy to teach children, you will of course get better results. Would these schools be as successful if they were unable to hand pick their students? It is this exclusivity and prestige associated with such schools that attracts parents, making it worth the high price tag and excruciating application process.
Some might say that it is ridiculous for a child's future academic career to be determined before they are 5 years old. It places too much pressure on a family and replaces the excitement of starting school with doubt and anxiety. 

That said, with the demand for such schools at an all time high, it doesn't appear that the system will change any time soon. In an industry that seems largely unaffected by today's economy, it demonstrates the lengths parents will go to, both financially and emotionally, for their child's education. Parents I have spoken with say that choosing a first school is so important because it ultimately determines which university their child will attend. As each school feeds up to another it is important to start at the bottom of the best ladder you can afford. Although by no means a popular process, parents are willing to accept it in order to offer their child, what they consider to be, the best start in life. 

'A Kid Like Jake' played at the 'Claire Tow' Theatre in the Lincoln Centre until July 14th 2013. For more information visit http://www.lct.org/showMain.htm?id=218

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Paparazzi stalk Orlando Bloom

I have just seen the ugly side to celebrity as I watched poor Orlando Bloom being hunted like an animal by paparazzi on the streets of New York today.  My husband and I were strolling along 5th Avenue when a pack of photographers came running past us.  We looked behind and saw Orlando Bloom carrying his small son.  He seemed to be trying to get a cab to escape pack of 10+ photographers, but as is often typical in New York, there wasn't one to be found.  My husband tried to get him one too, but didn't have any luck either.

Then all of a sudden two of the photographers started fighting.  I'm not sure what happened, but they ended up in a full fist fight on the street!  I must admit it gave me great pleasure to see the paps turn on each other and give Orlando Bloom the chance to get away.

Unfortunately the respite didn't last long, and they were back hounding the actor after a few minutes.  I felt so uncomfortable watching them chase him up the street, especially as he was with his young son.  There was a general consensus from the people around that this was awful and that they should leave him alone.  How many shots do you need of someone walking up the street, even if they are a celebrity?

I have never seen anything like this before, and thought New York was a safe place for celebrities.  Generally New Yorkers are too cool to bother celebrities, but I guess the paps can go anywhere. After witnessing the paparazzi stalking Orlando Bloom today I think that they are awful people who are part of an ugly profession.  I don't buy or read the magazines that publish such photographs, and I will continue to avoid them at all costs after what I saw today.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Maroon 5 and backstage on the 'Today Show'

A couple of weeks ago a friend invited me to see Maroon 5 play at Rockefeller Center as part of the 'Today Show' concert series.  We were lucky enough to have VIP tickets, which meant that we avoided the huge queue of people waiting to see the band.  We still had to arrive by 6.15am, but many of the crowd had been camping out overnight to secure their spot!

Trying to get a glimpse of Maroon 5 during the sound check
Unfortunately the weather wasn't great and we had to wait around in the rain for a couple of hours until it was time for Maroon 5 to play.  The band did a sound check before the performance and the crowd went crazy when Adam Levine arrived on stage.  Then the 'Today Show' cast came out and said hello to the crowd before doing a brief interview with Adam.  Maroon 5 sang three songs and everyone was dancing and singing along.  I managed to get a few glimpses of the band on stage, but I was a bit disappointed that they didn't interact much with the crowd.  That said, it was great fun and we enjoyed the show.

Maroon 5 during the performance
However, the best part of the morning came after the concert, as included in the VIP ticket was a backstage tour of the 'Today Show'.  We met with out guide, who worked on the show, and she took us onto the set during filming.  It was very exciting the see the cast and crew in action and observe the process of taping a live show.  The studio is much smaller than it appears on TV and everyone works in very close proximity to each other.  

We were then shown the kitchen and weather studios, the green room and finally the main control room.  One wall of this room was full of monitors showing various shots of the Today Show as well as other NBC programming.  Staring at the screens were rows of people all wearing headsets with direct contact to the live show we had just seen being taped.  I had seen rooms like this on TV, but as you can imagine, it was much more impressive to be there in person.

I had a great time at the 'Today Show' and while I'm not sure if I will be getting up at the crack of dawn for the concerts in the future, getting a tour of the show was certainly a memorable experience. 

A different artist or band plays every Friday morning throughout the summer and each performance is free.  The full line up for summer 2013 can be found at http://www.today.com/toyotaconcertseries/fun-chris-brown-one-direction-headline-today-2013-summer-concerts-6C9690371


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Compact Living

When I first moved to New York one of the most noticeable differences was the living space. Apartments are much smaller here and I found it difficult fitting my life into one. However, it is one of the compromises that I, and many New Yorkers, are willing to make in order to live in the city.

There are currently over 8 million people living in New York City and as this number continues to grow, it seems inevitable that apartments sizes will condense further. With living space in NYC already at a premium, and the population set to grown by some 800,000 this year, it is hardly surprising that city officials are looking for alternative housing solutions for the future.

In 2012 the Bloomberg administration launched a competition for architects to create smaller living accommodations. The winning design was a 325 square foot micro-studio, a model of which is on display at the Museum of the City of New York. This is a good deal smaller than the current 400 square foot minimum required for all new builds in the city, so I was intrigued to visit the ‘Making Room’ exhibition and see a micro-studio for myself.

On arrival into the unit we were met by a guide who walked us through the area and demonstrated how its various features worked. I was surprised at the size of the kitchen and was impressed with the inventive space savers that included a drawer-sized dishwasher and dining table that slid out from under a counter.

The living space was well organized with a sliding flat screen television that moved across the wall to reveal a storage area behind. The design also included a small home office which folds out of the wall, and a compact bar area. There isn’t a separate place for sleeping, but the bed is located in the wall above the sofa and is pulled down when needed.

Much of the storage space is above head height, but can be reached using the desk chair that converts into steps. This is one of many inventions in the studio that would be useful in any small apartment. I particularly liked the fold out ironing board in the wardrobe, and the coffee table which can be transformed into seating for 4 people.

Believe it or not, I was slightly envious of the bathroom as it was bigger than the one in my apartment! I don’t know what I expected, a shower over a toilet perhaps, but instead it was full bathroom with all the amenities.

Overall I was impressed with the micro-studio, but you can’t deny the fact that it is tiny. Although they have tried to maximize storage areas, as you would expect, there isn’t much space to put stuff. If you own more than 1 pair of shoes and your entire wardrobe doesn’t fit in a gym locker, you might be in trouble. I would definitely be using the oven for storage space!

As it is a similar size to a hotel room, I would imagine it suitable for an extremely organized person living alone. Personally, I would feel claustrophobic staying in such a small space for a long period of time. That said, although these compact apartments might not be suitable for everyone, it could provide an answer to space saving and affordable housing in NYC.

The ‘Making Room’ exhibition is on display the Museum of the City of New York until September. For more information visit http://www.mcny.org/exhibitions/current/Making-Room.html.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

'Spring for Music' at Carnegie Hall


After living in NYC for a while you can settle into your daily routine and forget what amazing activities are available on your door step. Since moving here I have wanted to see a production at the world famous Carnegie Hall, and finally organised tickets to see the National Symphony Orchestra during the 'Spring For Music' festival.

If I am completely honest I don't know much about classical music and wasn't entirely sure what I had booked! However, at $25 a ticket I thought it would be worth taking a chance. All tickets for performances during the spring festival were $12.50-25, making it accessible to a much wider audience.

Before entering the auditorium we enjoyed a class of wine as we walked around the common parts of the building which had been turned into a museum of past performances and artists.

The hall itself is beautiful and our seats were located in one of the boxes. Although good seats, it was pretty squashed in there and I had a better view lady's head in front of me than I did of the stage. That said, for what we paid it was great, but I think I would have been annoyed if the tickets were normal price ($150+).

The performance, 'A Tribute to 'Slava', was dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich who was the music director of the NSO from 1977 to 1994 and conductor laureate until he died in 2007. The performance was streaming live on Classical 105.9 FM and there was a short interview with a friend of the lateMstislav Rostropovich. The orchestra then took their seats and there was a roar of applause as the first violinist, David Aaron Carpenter, and music director, Christoph Eschenbach, took to the stage.

I very much enjoyed the atmosphere and it was amazing to watch the orchestra playing together. When you go to the ballet or a Broadway musical the orchestra are often tucked away where you can't see them, so it was great to watch them perform. Unfortunately, however, I didn't particularly like the music they played. I prefer lighter, happier classical music that makes you want to dance, but these pieces were a little darker and more serious. This was entirely my fault though as I should have researched what they would play before I got tickets. That said, it was an unforgettable experience and I am so glad I finally made the effort to go and see a performance at Carnegie Hall.

'Spring For Music' takes place annually, and tickets for 2014 go on sale in August. It is a great way to get the full Carnegie Hall experience without the expensive price tag. For more information visit http://springformusic.com.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring has sprung and summer is on the way!

The weather in New York has been lovely the past few days and I have especially enjoyed my runs in the park.  However, it's not great for my running time as I keep stopping to take photographs as Central Park is so beautiful at the moment!

Blossom tree in central park

Pink blossom framing the reservoir


Can't get enough of the pink!

Now is a great time to see the park it all it's spring glory.  I would recommend going early in the mornings, especially at the weekend, so you can enjoy the views before it gets too crowded.  Happy spring!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fit for Cirque Du Soleil

There is something magical about Cirque Du Soleil, and since the arrival of their big top in Queens, New York I have wanted to see "Totem". The show takes place in the impressive blue and yellow 'Grand Chapiteau' with a modern set incorporating a giant turtle shell and interactive marsh background.

As soon as the music started I got goose bumps, which stayed throughout most of the show. I was immediately immersed into the world of Cirque Du Soleil with their unusual musical score and brilliant costumes.

All of the performers were incredible, but I especially enjoyed the five unicyclists who used their feet to juggle and throw bowls, which they then caught on their heads! The aerial acts were breath-taking and I was on the edge of my seat for the beautiful roller skating couple who spun at amazing speeds on a drum only 1.8m in diameter.

Amazing!
"Totem" is an awe-inspiring show which will leave you wanting more and wishing that you too could run away and join the circus.

Inspired by this amazing experience, I decided to try a class created by Cirque Du Soleil called "Jukari - Fit to Fly". Derived form an old Sicilian dialect, Jukari means 'to play' so I was intrigued and, if I'm honest, a little nervous to find out what would be involved.

This class is only offered at Equinox, where they have a studio consisting of 16 'fly sets' which are similar to trapezes. I was welcomed by Lynze Schiller, one of only two Jukari instructors in the US, who put me completely at ease. Her enthusiasm for Jukari and "Totem" helped to create that Cirque Du Soleil magic. By wearing show style eye makeup and sharing fun facts about the acts before we started, I felt as if I was in a rehearsal for the show rather than in a gym class. 

Lynze Schiller
The class is choreographed to incorporate a variety of different exercises, all set to music. It was a thoughtful playlist which included songs from the Cirque shows as well as current dance music. During each song we were shown a new skill and I was soon jumping, spinning and flying across the room. The set can be altered for different uses, and towards the end of the class we turned it into a swing. As well as traditional swinging, we were were taught how to fast spin, it was so much fun!

This was the most enjoyable class I have ever taken and I didn't stop smiling the entire time. It was a tough work out encompassing cardio, strength and flexibility and my muscles are still aching days later, but it was worth it. I can't think of a better way to spend my time in the gym than pretending to be a Cirque Du Soleil acrobat!

"Totem" is currently playing in the Big Top at Citi Field until May 12th before it moves on to Philadelphia. Tickets are available athttp://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/totem/tickets/new-york.aspx. To find out more about Jukari, visit https://www.facebook.com/Lynzefit.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

'Romio' - Great website for New Yorkers

I am very excited to be working with 'Romio', which is a brand new social platform that connects it's users with their local neighbourhood.  You can make and view recommendations and find out about local businesses in your area.  It is made by New Yorkers for New Yorkers, although visitors are welcome to use it too!

My favourite aspect of the site it that you can ask a question online and someone from that area will be able to help you out.  For example, if you are on the Upper East Side and want to find a good coffee shop with wifi, you just post a request and a 'local expert' will give you a recommendation.  I am very proud to say that I am one of the 'local experts' on the site, specialising in the Upper West Side.  As you know I have always been keen to share my experiences to help others and thought this would be another good way to do it!

I would love it if you could sign up and follow me, as with every social network you want to have as many friends and followers as possible!  I also think you would find it useful if you live in New York, are moving here or are just visiting.  I have found some useful recommendations on the website already and it will only become more interesting as more people sign up.

Check out the website at http://qa.romio.com and follow me on the site, my user name is 'New Girl New York'.  Hopefully I will see you online there soon!

Monday, April 22, 2013

New York City Fire Museum

I stumbled on the NYC Fire Museum completely by chance when I was downtown last week.  I almost walked past it, but noticed the flag waving outside and thought it would be worth a visit.  The museum is located in the old fire house of Engine 30 at 278 Spring Street, west of SoHo, and is the official museum of the New York Fire Department.

The NYC Fire Museum
I have never been in a fire house before and it was interesting to see the layout and how it may have worked when it was in use.  The museum is situated on the first 2 floors of the building, with the top floor reserved for private functions.  There was children's party there when I visited, so it was quite noisy!

I started on the 1st floor of the museum which is home to historic memorabilia dating back to the 1650's.  You can see horse drawn fire trucks, historical uniforms and equipment as well as the 'Firefighting on Parade' and 'Romance of Firefighting' exhibitions.

'Hand Pumper' Fire Truck
The ground floor contains more modern fire apparatus, tools and equipment.  Here you can try on uniforms and get up close and personal with real fire fighters waiting to answer questions and tell stories.
Try on real firefighter uniforms 
For me the most moving and memorable part of the museum was the '9/11 Memorial' exhibition.  There is a memorial made of 343 tiles containing the names and photographs of each firefighter who lost their lives on that day.  They have artifacts recovered from the World Trade Center and photographs taken on the day and the days that followed.  A second room if full of art work and images paying tribute to the fallen firefighters.  It was a moving and emotional exhibit.   

On a lighter note, there is a lovely little shop on site selling all sorts of NYC Fire fighter apparel, books, costumes and souvenirs.  They also have an online store which sells a wider variety of items.

I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to the New York City Fire Museum and it is worth a visit if you are in the area.  It is only $8 for adults and $5 for children, and is open every day from 10am to 5pm.  
For more information visit http://www.nycfiremuseum.org.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Back in New York

I have been back in NYC for over a week now and things have been so hectic I haven't had a chance to write until now.  It was great going back to the UK and catching up with friends and family.  My time went really quickly and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see to everyone I wanted while I was there.

Although going back home is great, it is always busy.  I find that no matter how well I try and plan my time I am forever rushing around and don't get a real chance to relax.  Many of my expat friends say the same, they need a holiday when they return as a trip home is so exhausting.  I loved seeing everyone though, I had missed so much since my last trip and it was great to catch up.

We also made the big decision to sell our property in the UK.  We had been keeping it in case we returned, but as that doesn't seem likely in the foreseeable future, we thought it made sense to have one less thing to worry about.  It is quite a scary prospect, cutting all material ties with England, and it did feel quite sad packing up the rest of our belongings.  It was also hard work!  The majority of my trip was spent packing, selling furniture and meeting with estate agents.

After being in NYC for well over two years and creating a life for myself, I realise that no matter where I live I would always be missing someone or something.  I was sad to leave England and was emotional and teary as I waited for my flight, but when I go back to my apartment I was happy to be back in New York.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Back to Blighty

I am at the airport waiting for my flight to the UK, it's my first trip back for almost a year and I am really excited!  It has been so long since I have seen many of my friends and family, and I am looking forward to catching up with everyone.

I am sure I will be completely out of touch with popular culture, but I can't wait to watch some of my favourite TV shows and find out what I have been missing.  I will be stocking up on undies from M&S (you can't beat them!) and eating copious amounts of my favourite dishes.

They are calling my flight, so I have to cut this post short.  I will be back in New York in a couple of weeks and I'll let you know how my trip goes!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Patricks Day in New York


St. Patrick's day in New York City is unlike anything I have experienced in other parts of the world and I have celebrated the holiday in Ireland!  It is one of the biggest events here, with a parade on 5th avenue and various activities throughout the city. I was surprised by the number of people who actively celebrate St. Patricks day and it isn't just those of Irish decent, but people from all backgrounds and ethnicities. They dress up in green outfits, wear beads, paint their faces and colour their food and drinks. Bars, pubs and restaurants all have special 'St. Paddy's' day menus and people spill onto the street enjoying the festivities.  Although the Feast of St. Patrick is widely celebrated in the UK, the associated traditions do differ and I found it intriguing to see how the holiday is celebrated in America.  

In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day celebrations focus more on the historical traditions of the country and the American idea of what is considered Irish isn't always accurate. The Irish tourism board desperately wants to move away from the stereotype of the beer drinking "fighting Irish", and for people to understand that the Irish culture has a lot more to offer than Guinness, shamrocks and leprechauns.  Also some of the activities celebrated in the USA as part of this holiday are in fact from other countries. For example, the Highland games are not an Irish tradition, but originated in Scotland. That said, the idea that everyone should have fun and enjoy the holiday is common no matter where in the world you celebrate St. Patricks Day. 

Since moving to New York I have come across many people who say they are Irish, even though most have never visited Ireland or have any Irish relatives. As many New Yorkers are of Irish decent I can understand why they associate with this aspect of their lineage. However, I myself had an Irish grandmother and both of my husbands parents were Irish, but we both say we are English. I find it interesting that so many people relate to Ireland, but not other countries.  Descendants of other European countries, perhaps with the exception of Italy, don't often claim to be of that nationality. It is unusual to hear New Yorkers say they are English or Dutch, even if their ancestry originated from those countries.  In some cases people feel they are as much Irish as they are American. It is quite amazing that such a small country has such an impact all over the world, especially in the USA.

I think it's great that so many New Yorkers, and Americans, want to embrace the country and culture of their ancestors. However, I also believe that it is great to be an American!

Monday, March 11, 2013

No more super-sized soda's in NYC

The NYC ban on large sugary soft drinks has been the topic of conversation for many months now, but tomorrow the restriction will come into effect.  There will be no more super-sized sodas on offer, and if you want more than the new 16oz limit you will have to purchase another drink.

It a controversial topic with many people against the ban as they feel it takes away their right to make personal choices.  While I believe that people should be able to make individual decisions about their health, I do support the new restrictions.

The problem is, many of us are not making the best decisions for our health.  According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in 2010 more than a third of Americans adults were obese and so were 17% of children.  Mayor Bloomberg also revealed that 58% of New Yorkers are considered overweight and 1 in 8 people suffer from diabetes.  If you take into consideration that 16oz of coca cola contains 200 calories and 27g of sugar, perhaps it is a good idea that we don't have access to limitless amounts of the stuff.

I remember how amazed I was at the size of everything when I first came to the US.  You could literally buy a bucket of coke at the cinema and soft drinks were endlessly refilled in restaurants.  This wasn't the case in the UK, each drink you consumed was paid for individually, the servings were much smaller and there were no free refills.  However, I'm not sure if this is still the case today!

I believe this is a step in the right direction to make the people of New York, and the rest of the US, healthier.  Many trends and changes start in New York, so it seems fitting that our city is the pioneer of the sugary drink restrictions.  It might make people consider their consumption of sugary drinks and encourage them to choose a better alternative.  New York's finest tap water is good enough for me and it's free!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Can you smell that?

Now I wasn't sure if I should post this, but I was telling my Mum about it and she thought it was very weird, but quite funny so I thought I would share this little story with you!

Since moving to New York I have developed a rather odd and disgusting skill of being able to differentiate between the smells of the city.  Not the nice ones, like freshly baked bagels or cupcakes, or even hot dogs (I know they are gross, but why do they always smell so good?), but the bad ones.  The really gross, I don't even want to know what that is, kind of smells.  I can differentiate between dog, cat and horse pooh.  I can smell a homeless person a block away and know the difference between the smell of vomit and garbage.  Lovely.

Unfortunately, New York is a very smelly city.  What with the rubbish being piled high on the streets and most public areas being used at dog toilets (I think it's worst on the Upper West Side and in Chelsea), my new heightened sense of smell had come in useful on occasion.  I have managed to avoid (although not always) treading in various sorts of pooh, side-stepped a rather large pile of well-disguised puke and narrowly missed getting on a subway carriage with a homeless guy who last washed in 1987.  I also know the stinkiest streets to avoid in my neighbourhood and the best place to stand at my local subway station.

A strong stomach definitely comes in handy when you live here, but I prefer to try an avoid the nasty smells when I can.  I have learnt a lot about living in New York over the past 2 1/2 years, but I can safely say that being able to tell the difference between animal pooh isn't something I thought would come in useful!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Day in Central Park!

There is nothing quite like a snow day in New York, especially in Central Park.  I have just been for a lovely walk and the snow has turned the park into a winter wonderland!


There are people sledding down hills and steps, cross country skiers and of course, runners!  There is a really lovely vibe in the park today and some breath-taking views, so if you are in the area check it out.


I took quite a few snaps while on my walk with hubby, I hope you enjoy the ones I have chosen to post.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Falling in love again......well like!

As you know I have been suffering from NYC blues lately, but I have decided to focus on what I like about living here rather than being a misery! Over the past couple of weeks I have given it some thought and realise I have a lot to be positive about.

Since moving here over two years ago I have met some really interesting people and made some great friends.  I would miss them if I moved away, which I realise is part and parcel of being an expat-you are always going to miss someone!  I have spent some more time with my friends here lately and it has made a real difference to my outlook.

Also, I love volunteering and have become very attached to certain organisations in the city.  I am now a team leader with New York Cares and enjoy leading projects and making a difference to the community.  I really appreciate the ease at which you can volunteer in New York and have worked with some brilliant charities.  If you are looking to volunteer check out:
-New York Cares (http://www.nycares.com)
-Reading Partners (http://readingpartners.org/locations/newyork)
-The Pajama Program (http://pajamaprogram.org/WordPress/)

Over the past year or so I have become extremely interested in health and fitness (my new blog New Girl New Lifestyle is a work in progress!) and living in New York gives me access to every kind of exercise class you could possibly imagine.  I take a wide variety of classes and have recently begun to practice yoga.  New York also has an abundance of health conscious restaurants which makes it much easier to follow a healthy diet.

Running in central park has always been one of my favourite things about living in New York and although it's a bit too cold for me at the moment, a run around the reservoir always makes me feel better.

Although I will always find certain aspects of NYC annoying, focusing on the things I enjoy has made a big difference to how I look at life in the city.  I don't quite "heart" New York, but I am liking it again!

P.S. Thank you @JCairnduff for all of your positive messages!

Monday, January 14, 2013

I don't 'heart' New York

After cleaning off dog crap from the bottom of my shoes I realised that I have well and truly fallen out of love with New York.  It is a sad fact that this city is getting the better of me at the moment and all the good things about living here are being out-weighed by the bad.

I spent the Christmas holidays in Sarasota, Florida and had a great time.  Everywhere was so clean and there was so much space.  We stayed in a house with a wardrobe bigger than our bathroom in New York.  It had central air that didn't sound like a plane landing and, wait for it, a washing machine and tumble dryer!  I had forgotten what it was like to live normally, to be able to jump in a car that isn't parked 5 blocks away and wear heels as you don't have to wade through dog crap to go to dinner.  Also, the people were so much friendlier and nicer to each other.  I know it's a stereotype to call New Yorkers rude, and I know that not all of them are, but many people here are short-tempered and often seem grumpy.

I thought I would fix my New York funk by going to the Guggenheim to look at the Picasso exhibit.  I thought that being somewhere full of such amazing art would help me remember why I used to love this city so much.  Although I enjoyed the exhibit it didn't rekindle my NY fire.  There was a grumpy older women scowling and telling everyone to be quiet.  I think it's acceptable to discuss a painting in an art gallery, it's not a library!

So then I decided on a trip to the cinema for a bit of escapism.  When the lights went down a couple were talking very loudly and when asked, "Do you think you could be quiet" the reply was "Do you think you could drop dead".  Lovely.  I thought that surely the gym would be a safe-haven, nope!  I watched as endless women fought over floor space and gave each other dirty looks.  Then as 50 people tried to exercise in a space for the 30 I realised that none of my usual haunts would make me feel better.

I finally gave up after being squashed into a restaurant after being made to wait 15 minutes when we had a reservation, and instead of an apology were just given a surly look from the maitre d.  On the way home I trod in the aforementioned dog crap and that was it, I officially dumped New York.

I'm not sure if this is just a phase I am going through and that over time I will learn to love the city again, but at the moment I feel as if my bubble has been burst and New York isn't the place for me.