Spend a Couple Hours »ABT Opening Night Gala

at Lincoln Center

When Stacy and I decided to attend an ABT ballet this season, the Opening Night Gala sounded the most fun. It was sure to offer the best audience attire and we certainly saw a bit of everything: from the absolutely elegant to the absolutely awful (short shorts and a see through top are not the way to go). Watching the parade of dresses was almost as fun as watching the performances. Though I have to admit I kind of failed you all by not taking more pictures of the audience.

The ABT announcement of the event kind of made it sound like Michelle Obama was going to be there (sadly, no dice) but we made do with a glammed up Carolyn Kennedy and some of you would be psyched to know we saw one of the Housewives of New York, but I can’t remember her name and wouldn’t have known who she was.

The real stars of the night, aside from myself who felt wonderful having an event to get dressed up for (I wore faded gold scalloped lace with rhinestones and a pink early 1920’s jacket), were the incredible dancers.

We got to see a mish mash of pieces, sort of a best of for the season along with some unique pieces only performed for that evening. It was maybe the best ballet experience I’ve had and I highly recommend you keep an eye out for Opening nights in the future to get the best of the ABT.

The highlights of the evening for me (aside from enjoying an outrageously priced flute of pink champagne with a dear friend during intermission) were:

Tchaikovsky Pas de Duex with Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg – this was a showcase of just how effortless seemingly and transcendent ballet can be. Spare and beautiful, both dancers were incredible, and Hallberg my favorite male dancer all evening.

Swan Lake Act II Pas de Deux with Paloma Herrera and Alexandre Hammoudi – a lovely, little girl dream sight. A stage filled with elegant ballerinas from one of the art’s most beloved stories.

Splendid Isolation III with Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky – this one blew me away with it’s inventive choreography which featured a huge skirted gown. Truly stunning, but sadly for anyone not in attendance, a performance solely for the opening night.

Lady of the Camillias with Julie Kent and Cory Stearns – this was the most romantic of the performances. Julie Kent, an experienced dancer with the ABT literally took her hair down and became one of my favorite dancers with just a few moments of graceful movement. At forty she is as perfect a dancer as I’ve seen.

If you are looking to purchase tickets to the season, The Bright Stream looks fun and unusual with fat ladies on bicycles, fake moustaches, and some sweet printed peasant wear that looked very Prada-esque. If you want to go more classic, the Swan Lake is surely lovely (and I recommend seeking out a Julie Kent performance).

Hope to do this again next year, it’s the kind of event that makes me love New York.

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Posted on May 17, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

at the Met thru July 31

The Alexander McQueen exhibit, Savage Beauty at the Met is extraordinary as McQueen was the most extraordinary of designers. To see his fantastic creations in person is awe inspiring and the Met has done an unusually wonderful job of displaying them dramatically and respectfully.

Of course, like any fashion show at the museum it can test ones patience with all the crowds (at one point it was literally shoulder to shoulder) but if ever a show were worth the inconvenience this is it.

The exhibit spans the whole of his career and leaves one not only breathtaken at the details and imagination but heart broken as well. I was more moved after walking through than I expected and found myself with a knot in my stomach and a bit teary eyed by the end to know such an amazing talent is gone.

I couldn’t help but act like I still had pre-baby disposable income and splurged on the gorgeous, hologram covered book (Happy Mother’s Day to me!) but wisely, the museum has offered more affordable souvenirs including a very nice calendar and a pretty humorous armadillo high heel paper weight.

This is a must see!

Click here for the rest of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

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Posted on May 8, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Brooklyn Flea Part 2

27 North 6th St., Williamsburg, Sunday 10-5

Brooklyn Flea Market week two and Jim’s plan to “eat everything” was not too far off from what happened. We skipped stuff we’d already had either at the market or elsewhere which still left plenty to get full on. Good thing we had at least some restraint and split everything…

Beginning with one amazing donut (you know, breakfast first!). It came from Dough, a Cobble Hill shop that features unique flavors like Hibiscus and Blood Orange. I decided to try a simple glazed yeast however, to get a general feel for their goods. I hate to say it, but it rivals Peter Pan. I can’t wait to have another next week.

But the deliciousness didn’t stop there, no! Next we were on to Mile End‘s smoked cured brisket sandwich. A marvelous and simple sandwich that is juicy, smokey, and meaty. Do not skip the mustard, it adds a great kick. One of the best savory dishes at the market.

Asia Dog offers a large menu of unique Asian inspired toppings, we had a temporary lapse in restraint and went for the pork belly cucumber. It was intense. Maybe too intense. Next time I’d opt for the bahn mi hot dog or another less fat pork topped choice.

After all this we still were hungry (the key is not to eat before hand) and I was on the fence about making our last sandwich the Red Hook Lobster Roll, just because of the comparatively high 15.00 price tag.. but with Shaun’s urging that it was totally worth it, we relented and ordered Maine style. It was incredible, over flowing with big lobster chunks that tasted fresh and with just a hint of mayonnaise – the key to a good roll. Too many are just loads of mayo with tiny bits of lobster hiding among the celery. Here they do it right. Another best bite contender, especially with the summer months coming.

To wash everything down we tried Brooklyn Soda Works Root Beer, a spicy, none too sweet beverage that will quench the thirst even if you dislike soda.

I couldn’t help but get another jar of marmalade (this time grapefruit hibiscus) since my lemon vanilla is almost used up and we bit the bullet on the insane price tag ($7) for some Ragged Butte Bison Jerky to take home. It’s pretty awesome, but I don’t think I can rationizle speniding that kind of money on dried meat again.

Thank goodness this thing is only once a week.

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Posted on April 11, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Hair

1008 Manhattan Ave. Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Hair is truly a neighborhood gem. Kim has earned a great reputation and devoted clients based on word of mouth. I, myself made an appointment after seeing her handiwork with a friend’s mane.

I only got a trim (so now my hair goes to my waist rather than past my butt) and it looks much healthier. I beat her record for longest hair she’s cut – but honestly I don’t even remember when it grew so much.

She was reminded of her own business card (pictured) which features an old photo she uncovered in an old apartment. At the time, she didn’t see hairdressing in her future but it must have been a pretty strong portent.

While my trim was a relatively simple task, it was done with care and precision. Plus, I’ve seen her work wonders with more complex layered cuts and color.

Unlike many salons that treat you like you’re butting in on their hanging out looking cool time, Hair is intimate, friendly and inviting.

She only takes customers over the phone via voice mail, which may sound old school, but adds to that local charm.

She does men’s and women’s and is more affordable than many places I have tried in the past.

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Posted on April 6, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Brooklyn Flea

Sundays 10-5 at 27 North 6th St.

I am so happy Brooklyn Flea has decided to set up within walking distance this summer. Not too psyched that it’s on gravel which made stroller pushing impossible – but lesson learned – next time we will use our carrier.

There were the usual selections of vintage goods and silk screened tees, with the dapper vintage tie seller Travis Sylvester selling particularly tempting bow ties at reasonable prices. But I was mostly indulging in the food stuffs.

For on the spot eating I enjoyed the Frgal Cakes, a pear crumble pizza of sorts that are traditional in Czechoslovakia. Also excellent was the homemade ricotta, arugula and fresh carved prosciutto bruschettas from Salvatore Brooklyn.

I brought Jim home a merguez sandwich from Brooklyn Bangers which was nice and flavorful with an incredible kicky sauce. A refreshing warm weather watermelon juice allowed me to almost ignore the bitter sudden gusts of winds that shook the proceedings.

For take home yumminess, I opted for Lime and Pickle mayonnaise from Sam Mason’s Empire Mayonnaise, which I haven’t tried yet, but expect to be wonderful and a jar of vanilla lemon marmalade from Momofuku Milk Bar and Friends which we just enjoyed on warm English muffins. So delicious and summery.

Can’t wait to return to try what I missed, including the Mile End smoked meat sandwich and local beef jerky.

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Posted on April 3, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »GoGo Babies

at Caribou Baby, 272 Driggs Avenue in Greenpoint

As you can see Van gets very excited on days we go to Go Go Babies, a weekly class at Caribou Baby taught by Ellynne Skove that encourages babies as they meet developmental milestones. I love it because it’s a great break up to the week and a much needed one for a stay and work at home mom like myself. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, and it’s adorable to see lots of babies. Van is far more interested in their pretty moms though, the flirt.

You can pay class by class or enroll in the series which runs through May. Either can be done on the Caribou Baby website. I encourage parents and caregivers to come! It’s a great time to bond with your baby while also getting out of the house and meeting other neighborhood parents.

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Posted on March 23, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Wang Qingsong: When Worlds Collide

at The ICP, 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street

The main floor of the ICP is devoted to the historically important uncovering of thought to have been lost Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and Chim photographs of the Spanish Civil War, but at the risk of sounding uncultured, it wasn’t totally my thing. I found the downstairs exhibits much more interesting starting with the staged giant photographs by China’s Wang Qingsong.

While on a simply visual level they are impressive for the amount of effort to elaborately stage the scenes they remind me a little of the glossy hyper real work of someone like David LaChapelle (who, for the record I can’t call my self a fan of). Thematically, though these imposing images are far more complex and interesting. The modern story of China is infinitely intriguing and Qingsong’s interpretation of recent history – particularly it’s new role in and fascination with consumerism – is thought provoking and revealed things I didn;t know before.

Around the corner is a much smaller exhibit of Baptism photographs and postcards. There’s something haunting and almost eerie about a baptism (just ask the people that made the intro to True Blood). Strolling past the images, I was drawn into the ritual, the costume, and the often blurred faces that looked like ghosts. The tone takes a dramatic shift, however when you read the ignorant and often downright racist messages on the back of some of the postcards. Baptisms were seen as very exotic by visitors and though probably never witnessed by most, postcards depicting the act were sent back home for relatives and loved ones to marvel at the strangeness of it all.

Next door are the photographs of Alonzo Jordan. If the baptism images show the divide between cultures, his show the similarities between black and white communities. Smiling gorgeous young African American men and women celebrate birthdays, weddings, home coming dances and football victories even as the realities of racism simmered in the back ground. In 1998, the town of Jasper, which these photographs capture years before, was home to one of the worst racial motivated murders in US history when James Byrd, Jr was dragged to his death. That one can clearly see in these photographs that the black people of the community were truly equal in their hopes and dreams makes the sting of reality that much more painful and hard to understand.

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Posted on March 16, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »George Condo: Mental States

at The New Museum through May 8

My friend Jessica directed me to the George Condo exhibit at the New Museum. I felt like a bad art student for not recognizing the name, but am glad to learn about the prolific artist now. The exhibit begins on the 4th floor where an onslaught of his work greets you. It’s actually an appropriate way to confront his manic work that ranges from dark Bacon-esque portraits (including one of my favorites, Man with Three Arms) to bright, almost slap dash paintings that look, and I mean this in a good way, like artwork from an insane asylum.

The next floor offers a series of paintings that merit more individual examination titled “Melancholia”. These disturbing, funny and sad portraits of archetypes with bloated faces and confused disembodied smiles were the most captivating of the show. Next were more provocative excessively sexual works entitled “Manic Society” and even if it makes me sound like a prude, I found their crassness uninteresting. “Abstraction” is the final room in this retrospective and featured huge layered canvases. Some of my favorites revealed small intriguing overlapping sad faces once you took a closer look.

Also on display in the other galleries is the work of sculptress Lynda Benglis. Some of her stuff is pretty cool. I liked the glowing neon blobs suspended out of the wall, but frankly it was harder to have enthusiasm for a big stick with glitter on it or pink paper mache with gift wrap sticking out of it. Too many memories of Freshman year art projects I guess.

Thanks to Jim for doing Van duty which allowed me a night out. The museum is open til 9 on Thursdays and to my happy surprise, it was free too. An even happier surprise? Birdbath has opened a cafe in the lobby!

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Posted on March 4, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Organize Your Jewelry

from Brylane Home

I have literally been dreaming of this jewelry organizer – there I was, at my old, old job – the one in Midtown and the sassy women I used to work with had bought it for me. I woke up ecstatic in that fleeting moment when you don’t know you’re dream isn’t real. Then – as reality set in – I knew there was really nothing better or even feasible to ask Jim for for Christmas.

I love it, despite its old lady guest bathroom fixture appearance – because finding one to fit my mammoth costume jewelry collection is near impossible (basically this is it). Those wispy tree branches you usually find under “jewelry organizer”? Ha, it would be like trying to contain all this snow of ours in a snoopy sno cone machine. This was honestly the only one I found of this size and sturdiness – a lifetime of Brylane Home catalogs is a worthy side effect for the purchase.

I am still in the process of adding all my earrings, but I love that I can finally find all my stuff without having to wade through a drawer or a box – and the days of tangled threads of faux pearls and beads are over. Now. looking at those empty hooks, I just need more huge statement bracelets it would seem – good thing I have a birthday coming up.

Slightly off topic, I’d like to mention that this little collection of mine is an ode to the idea that expensive is not always better. Every time I am glancing through the jewelry section of Vogue or some similar publication, I balk at the “real” jewelry out there (of course there are significant exceptions) but most of it is so yucky and so expensive. I always think how one ugly gemstone ring would cost more than buying out an entire Claire’s.

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Posted on January 28, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Best of 2010 Ways to Spend an Hour

Great Activities

Fashion, woodcuts, one man bands, razor clams and bedazzled nails – these are the best ways I wasted away the hours this year:

1. Get A New Bathroom

2. Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

3. Brooklyn Museum: American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection

4. Eataly

5. Sakura Nail Salon

6. Jon Brion at The Largo

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Posted on January 3, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Getting and Decorating a Tree

For The Holidays

It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without one!!

In the neighborhood, Jim prefers the tree spot on McGuinness and Greenpoint Ave where there are Germans and hippies to help you as opposed to the “vagabonds” on Manhattan and Calyer. We went all out at the Big D (one of the largest local dime stores) for decorations on the cheap.

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Posted on December 19, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Apple TV

A better Netflix instant experience

We loved our Roku – I think it’s a fantastic product – but when we decided to add a Blu-ray player to the mix (watching the Shining and 2001 back-to-back on Blu-ray one afternoon at Brittany’s dad’s house totally convinced me to switch formats) it just made sense to go with the Samsung model that integrates the Netflix instant player, the BD-P2500, and pass the Roku along to the brother-in-law.

This was a huge mistake. While the Blu-ray player itself is fine (actually, it’s sub-fine: not all discs will play and more often than not ‘enhanced viewing features’, like Ron Weasley – or Lafayette – appearing in a huge Picture-in-Picture window, are impossible to disable), the Netflix instant portion was a disaster. Despite being hard-wired (vs the wireless Roku), movies would take forever to start, the audio would often be out of sync and, most frequently, the picture would vanish and just the audio would play prompting at least one reset of the whole system; sometimes as many as half a dozen. About once a month ominous error messages appeared about registration issues and I’d have to hard-reset. It was terrible…

Click here for the rest of Apple TV

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Posted on November 27, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Frame Your Photos

No More Bare Walls

If you’re like me you have at least one bin filled with photos and an even larger digital library. As one last big chore while awaiting baby we decided to finally frame a few. There’s no need to go to a framer (though I can recommend a good one in Greenpoint). With just a little bit of creativity we managed to get several up on our walls on the cheap.

We started with Ikea, home to cheap everything and picked up a cart full of frames. Right now they are carrying some really fun brightly colored ones as well as deep set neutrals and woods. Unfortunately many, the brights included, aren’t quite to American sizes, so we had to improvise. We found some equally fun colored art paper at Artists and Craftsman Supply in Brooklyn, which we used as a faux matte.

We just cut out a square of colored paper to the size of the frame window, using the back as a template and centered the photo before reassembling. Getting photos centered took a little practice but is quite easy. The result is pretty great and adds a nice shock off color to our walls. We started with some of our favorite actual photographs, but didn’t want to ignore some digital favorites.

Canon Pixma Photo Paper Pro Platinum delivered the best results for printing. I have a new Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II for work that did an incredible job with the prints. Printing our own photos also allowed us to re-size images to fit the awkward frames without faux matting.

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Posted on October 16, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Team Clean

Green, Non-Toxic, Holistic Cleaning Services

I’m not one for paying people to do things for me – even a manicure can sometimes make me uneasy (I’m getting over it), so even though I probably need some help in the cleaning department more than most, I’ve never looked into cleaning services. Lucky for me, the stars aligned – Jim and I were asked to design a website for the new All Natural and Biodegradable cleaning service, Team Clean in exchange for a few sessions. This was a god send at nine months pregnant.

Run by Candace Mills, who ran a successful Memphis cleaning service called 2 Chicks and A Broom along with college friend Megan Pflug and J Penry, Team Clean is a great, environmentally sound company that is pet friendly and super speedy.

Two people, including Candice came over for an initial 2 hour session and were like cleaning machines. From the floor to the stove, everything smelt clean and fresh and even all the cat hair (the amount of which you can’t even begin to imagine) was gone. They require a two hour minimum per session and can meet with you to assess price and cleaning style. I highly recommend contacting them!

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Posted on October 13, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Eataly

200 5th Avenue

After months of speculation and anticipation, the Italian food market mecca Eataly from Mario Batali, Lidia and Joe Bastianich is finally open and it is awesome! Clean, bright, dazzling and massive, there is so much to see that it will require several visits to feel like I’ve done it all. There are after all, several restaurants, a beer garden, a coffee shop, a cooking school, and all the super market sections you could want. I was extremely tempted by the stunning variety at the fishmonger and am determined to get razor clams next time (when I will be headed straight home after shopping and not worried about fresh seafood + the heat).

I really could have gone any direction for an amazing meal, whether grabbing some sausage (as Mike did for an extremely yummy gnocchi sauce) or enjoying the brick oven pizza I jealously saw so many taking gooey bites of at the pizzeria. There are colorful pastries as well as a crowded counter with gelato for dessert. In the mood for something easy for lunch, I opted for a “Stella” squash ravioli, some fresh sun-dried tomatoes, and a wedge of Parmesan from a huge wheel that one strong armed man spent the day slowly chopping up for our consumption.

Mario was there, and I took a tentative quick shot after the jump (not really into paparazzi shooting) and it begs some explanation since it looks like he’s reaming out an employee. He was actually strutting around like a proud papa and seemed ecstatic about the place, as well he should have been. I am sure Eataly is bound to become both a destination as well as one of the perks of living in New York and a part of the fabric of the city.

Click here for the rest of Eataly

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Posted on September 5, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Baby Shower

Baby Fiesta

Wow, my due date is getting ever closer. Only roughly seven weeks left til Van’s arrival and my wonderful friends and family threw me a most excellent cat themed fiesta the other day. Some of the most incredible cooks I know (Mike, Shaun, Krista and my sister) graced us with an amazing spread. All homemade: slow cooked meats, chipotle salsa, guacamole, churros donuts, pepitas, cat shaped tortillas, and spicy chocolates, yummmmm. Plus, the visual highlight- creepy awesome cat head cupcakes from Ruthy’s (see more about them in the dessert section).

Julia and Stacy were there to organize the games, which included a heated race to down a baby bottle of screwdrivers (Josh beat them all with a little bit of clever trickery). Mostly it was just wonderful to spend the afternoon with so many loving, great people – from brand new friends to girls I’ve known since kindergarten. Van is so lucky to inherit you all (and all out dear friends and family that couldn’t make it) as his extended family. Loads of photos below/after jump.

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Posted on August 29, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Brklyn Birth Classes


I couldn’t recommend the Bklyn Birth preparation classes more. Our instructor, Sabrina was understanding, open, communicative and extremely helpful. Run and taught by local midwives, it’s a no agenda, open forum that is laid back but full of pertinent information. We opted for a weekend intensive that was an easier schedule for us, but shorter, month long classes are also given.

Most of the other ladies were opting for a natural childbirth and videos (that admittedly resembled home made exorcisms) prepped us for the amazing experience. Breathing and comfort techniques were taught and practiced and perhaps most comforting was learning how to navigate the often sterile and confusing hospital landscape.

The classes take place in Park Slope and are comparable to others price wise.

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Posted on August 15, 2010