Spend a Couple Minutes »Bellisimo

125 4th Avenue

Clean, kindly, and convenient: Bellissimo, right near Union Square, was the perfect spot for a much needed pampering with an equally frazzled co-worker. We opted for a pedicure with a ten minute foot massage that was heavenly. I loved the selection of colors as well as the funky soft beads your feet soak in. Next time I’ll be sure to partake in one of their back massages.

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Posted on April 4, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Facial

35 E 1st Street

My very first facial was serene and relaxing at Sakura Salon (home of the awesome manicures I’ve raved about). They have a small, secluded spa room where the sounds of ocean waves and birds chirping really take you away. The woman was gentle and the products were nicely scented… it was thoroughly peaceful. I had a gift certificate for a mini facial (thanks again Astrid!!) but opted to extend my treatment to a full hour, which includes a neck and shoulder massage and extractions.

I had been warned that extraction could be painful from friends, but it really wasn’t bad at all. If you need to be pampered, this is certainly a very excellent way to go about it.

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Posted on February 21, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Sakura Nail Salon

35 East 1st Street

Sakura Nail Salon is one of the few spots in the city where you can get Calgel nail art, a nail-healthy, shiny polish that protects nails as it makes them look totally awesome. While the artists (Fumiko and Hitomi are the best!) can create nearly anything your heart desires (I toyed with the idea of cats on thumbs) one of the most popular treatments is the ombre manicure. I opted blood red fading into clear, which allows my nails to grow without an obvious line where the manicure stops and gives me the look of a vampire that’s just had a messy meal. I added some bling in way of crystals on my pointer fingers. Astrid went bolder in color and got blue fading to black with gold lightning bolts on her thumbs. (see photos below/after the jump.)

Really, the only limit is your imagination. Online I saw a Mondrian manicure which is quite enviable; black lace, which was requested by a young French woman while we were there, would also be cool. Sadly that girl was super pissed because it wasn’t possible – which leads me to my biggest warning/recommendation: Make an appointment!! and specifically ask for Calgel Nail Art if you want anything special, otherwise you’ll be pencilled in for a regular (though, surely wonderful) manicure and look on sadly/angrily as those with more diligent phone skills get all sorts of specialness on their nails. The calgel manicure takes about an hour and a half.

True, it’s a pricey treatment, especially with any add ons like crystals, but, in theory, Calgel can last at least three weeks, which makes the high price a little less shocking. Regular manicures, by the way, without the ever-lasting Calgel, are comparably priced to other salons. The ambiance here is serene and friendly and the staff offers all sorts of discounts to bring you back. For example, you get 30% off if you come back with a friend. And speaking of friends, I want to thank my friend Astrid once again for what is probably one of the coolest birthday gifts ever! Think she may have started a personal, money leaking obsession…

Click here for the rest of Sakura Nail Salon

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Posted on January 24, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Ultrasound

As you may know, this March I'm going to become the proud auntie of a sure to be fabulous and amazing little boy (name TBD). It's thrilling and a bit surreal but it became more real when I accompanied my sister to her latest ultrasound. The images are staggering and I love the little guy – who was quite a squirmy wormy – with all my heart.

Today's technology, with its new-fangled 3D imaging is pretty astonishing, and I swear I can already see a bit of a resemblance. The appointment was at Lenox Hill and the staff was very friendly and helpful.

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Posted on October 19, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Liquid Kava

You know your pretty stressed when your coworkers are lining up to offer you Liquid Kava to calm your nerves and sitting next to a crazy man on the subway who's calling you a whore through the entire commute home is more peaceful than the workday itself.

I think the herbally liquid, diluted with a bit of water, actually may have worked, because I didn't even break down nor cry when I got home. I'm writing this instead – and feeling totally emotionally balanced… But maybe that resilience is just further evidence of my sparkling can-do personality.

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Posted on October 5, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Bold Lipstick

bright lipstickEven if you are conservative with the color in your clothing this Fall, it's time to go a little bolder on the lips. Usually not a lipstick-centric kind of girl, I've been inexplicably drawn to dabbing some on the past few weeks. Sephora offers a great array of fuchsias (I believe the one I am currently wearing is Funny Face). If your complexion doesn't do bluer shades, try an orangey red.

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Posted on September 28, 2009

Places to Visit »Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs has so much to offer: gambling! Spas! Bottles! We began with the gambling, made super depressing because the high class horse racing track was not yet open (we missed the very brief season opening by a week); instead we went to the carpeted harness track where aisles of either very heavy or very thin people fed slot machines. Even all the freshly-planted flowers outside couldn't improve the nicotine-stained atmosphere, but just as I was about to leave (after half heartedly losing five bucks), I saw Kitty Glitter. On her, I won eight bucks. I was up and I was out of there!

We were looking forward to some pampered relaxation in nearby Ballston Spa, where the Medberry Inn and Day Spa offers a half hour private mineral bath for two for $30. It's the best deal we found in the area and even we, who rarely truly relax, were able to totally chill out in the calm, dimly lit room with complimentary fresh fruit and cranberry juice. The staff is super nice and they even gave us a pass when we over stayed our allotted time by about fifteen minutes.

If you have some time to kill before your spa treatment, I highly recommend the National Bottle Museum just down the street. It's quaint and actually quite interesting. I posted a few favorite photos here.

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Posted on August 24, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Bubble Roome Sugar Scrub

I got into scrubs with the dead sea salt version I enjoyed at the Turkish and Russian Baths, but I really began my love for the scrub with these Walnut Sugar ones from Bubble Roome Brooklyn.

Davis E Johnston began the soap and beauty product line five years ago out of his small Brooklyn kitchen. Now his visually appealing goods can be bought in several local shops like Sodafine, where my friends found this for me on my birthday.

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Posted on August 3, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Neil George Hair Products

Usually, like a sweatpants wearing lady on a budget who only gets her toiletries at Rite Aid, I am a strictly Head and Shoulders blue bottle woman. I even brought some along with me on my latest work trip to LA, assuming I'd be met with a dime sized mini bottle of crappy stuff that does unhappy things to my hair.

The Avalon though, greeted me instead with a line of Neil George products that thankfully someone pointed out to me would cost $65 a bottle if I were to abscond with them. They really made my hair soft, my skin smooth and my sense of smell content.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Russian and Turkish Baths

Going to the Russian and Turkish Baths that have stood on 10th street since 1892 is nothing if not a unique experience, especially for anyone shy and WASP with a limited comfort zones. You step into the building and offer up your valuables to a private lock box, in return you're handed a key that opens a locker and can be used like a room number for any special treatments you decide to charge. It's best to bring a bathing suit to change into because you'll be getting wet, wet, wet and next time I'd bring along my own flip flops because the ones offered up are monstrously big.

Starting in the main room, just below the locker area, you'll step into the semi public showers in a room that also houses a freezing cold dunking pool. Several sauna rooms lie off this main room. In the Russian Sauna room, you'll get hotter than you've ever been in your entire life. Huge white buckets of ice cold water are available to throw over your head to keep yourself from overheating. It's an extreme experience but even with the water poured regularly over my head, I couldn't stand the heat for longer than a couple minutes. Slightly more bearable is the heat from the Turkish Room that smells of eucalyptus and has a refreshing cool shower to step under by the door. The aroma therapy room was the most popular the day we visited and filled with a warm steam that is quite invigorating once you get used to breathing it in.

But the experience of the baths cannot simply stop with the saunas. If you're going to go you may as well go for it all the way and try the singular experience of one or two of their treatments. You'll be pressured to book a massage, oak leaf beating, or scrub even as you are getting changed in the locker room. While it's tempting to give in immediately, take your time to get relaxed and situated in the non-fancy, un-self conscious environment before you commit. Waiting will make you feel more in control of your destiny because once inside the little steel rooms, you belong to your masseuse.

Experiences vary greatly from person to person. My lady Rose must have sensed that I was a sensitive one, because in my dead sea salt scrub and subsequent massage she treated me like a new born babe. She even went so far as to offer small tokens of propriety by covering my crotch with towels. The treatments are not terribly cheap, so if you had to choose only one, I'd go for the spectacular scrub that features lots of water rinsing and left me smelling like baking muffins and returned my skin to baby softness. My massage was gentle and lots of slimy (in a good way) lotion further softened my skin.

Jim and Adam however, had quite a different experience, one that I'm proud of Jim for being so open about – though he really didn't have a choice. Their dude offered no towel, you're going to be swinging and swaying with your legs spread, your body twisted (at one point to Jim's horror his neck was cracked like an apparent attempted Mortal Kombat finishing move) and your breath nearly knocked out as a burly man crawls across your back. Jim will admit that any hang ups were his own, his dude couldn't have been less concerned with our uptight American bodies than a Pet Co employee is concerned with cleaning puppies. In the end it was fun, it was different, but it's best to be prepared for something wilder than you may be used to. Go with knowledge — or even better: with someone who's gone before.

Lastly, to complete the whole experience, you must take advantage of the sun roof deck. I laid down watching the clouds go by (an activity not always easy to do while living in the city) for about an hour. The total cost will be higher than you might expect (taxes and gratuity must be added) but for such an extraordinary experience, it's worth it. Still, an open mind and a willingness to go with the flow no matter where it takes you are absolutely necessary to appreciate it. The squeamish need not apply.

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Posted on July 13, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »The Parlour

parlour greenpointThis week Jim was so taken with a new salon here in Greenpoint that he volunteered this post:

I’ve never actually felt comfortable in a salon; I’m sure my own issues are a big part of the reason why but, personal hang-ups aside, I’ve always genuinely perceived a mild disinterest radiating from the staff, as if they didn’t exactly want me in their club house – like I was some kind of interruptive intruder.

Never again. The other day, under pressure from Brittany to trim my beard, I booked an appointment up the street at The Parlour (it’s on Greenpoint and Franklin, right next door to Brouwerij Lane). I’ve never in my life felt more welcomed in a place of hair dressing. Everyone is super friendly and I didn’t at all feel like I was disrupting whatever they were up to the second before I walked in.

For $25 I got a shampoo, neck and beard trim with a hot towel, which is both super relaxing and a pretty good deal – but what’s really key is that I was able to get my beard trimmed by someone who totally knew what she was doing – which has not always been the case at other local shops that boast of their tonsorial expertise.

In fact, the last time I got a trim I was so displeased with the results that I had to tinker with it at home for some time and, in an (ultimately ineffectual) effort to make it look even and regular, I gradually shortened my beard far more than I would have liked to; so I’m sure you can imagine how pleased I was that I walked out with a great looking beard.

But the Parlour offers far more than mere man maintenance packages, Nackie (who runs the salon) is a major hair stylist. She worked for a number of years at the Chelsea Hotel before opening The Parlour just a couple of months ago. She trimmed my hair and it looks excellent, so I’m sure that whatever kind of style you’re looking for, she and her team can totally deliver.

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Posted on June 8, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Hot Pink Lifting Weights

valeo pink weightsLaugh if you must (but must you really?), but with these tiny hot pink two pound weights I will slowly but surely tone my little arms. It should only take a few minutes a day and I can watch King of the Hill while I do it.

I got mine on Amazon.

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Posted on May 11, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Wii Fit

mii wii fitWiiFit is fun and good for you with those cute little graphics that Nintendo is known for (though I wish our instructors were more wobbly head looking and less realistic) but I have to say, it's not the toughest workout ever – though some of the balance games are hard to master and I never do well when it comes to following dance steps.

Taking virtual jogs with miis and wiis and Nintendo doggies right beside me is quite a joy and the system will also be great for accurately measuring my progress as Jim and I have begin a new summer time get back to eating right and exercising phase.

There is a definite focus on balance, a focus that I think seems foreign to westerners but I hope that, as it promises, will improve my posture.

I haven't gotten any additional games to go with the system yet, but anything called Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party must be fun, right?

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Posted on May 4, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Eye Exam

brix picks in glassesBecause I spend hours and hours and hours in front of a computer screen, it's not uncommon for me to head home from work with blurry and sore eyes, so I decided to take advantage of my health care and make an appointment with the eye doctor. While I really just thought they'd give me a pair of non prescription glasses to help with monitor glare, I quickly learned that I am falling apart.

Yes, at the age of 31, I officially no longer have 20/20 vision, but a mixed up pair of eyes; one can see far away, the other close up, which can make for tired eyes. So it's computer glasses for me!

It was actually kind of exciting, since I've always wanted glasses and now I can wear them, but don't have to all the time.

It just goes to show that regular check ups can be revealing and helpful and, if you have decent coverage, you should make an eye appointment soon – especially if it's been a while.

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Posted on April 13, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Take a Nap

cat nappingIf you're like me and lots of people I talk to, work has just been wearing you down to the bone right theses past couple of months. I think if we can ever find the time, we could all just a cue from our cats and those countries smart enough to believe in Siestas and take an afternoon nap.

There are some real health benefits too, just listen to the beginning of this article:

“Many people feel a mid-afternoon slump in mood and alertness, especially after a poor night of sleep. Many believe that this slump is caused by eating a heavy lunch. However, in reality, this occurs because we were meant to have a mid-afternoon nap.”


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Posted on April 6, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Hot Stone Massage

Hot Stone Massage I received this unbelievable massage as a gift last year and it cured me of some shoulder problems I was having. One of the most worth-while indulgences ever.

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Posted on December 26, 2005

Web Sites »My Food Diary

My Food Diary I lost ten pounds with the help of this web site. This year I might actually succeed in one of my resolutions.


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Posted on December 26, 2005