Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Streets

I used to have a hot pink bicycle that I loved to ride around my childhood town. A gang of prepubescent outlaws, the other neighborhood kids and I would stick baseball cards in our spokes and whizz up and down quiet, tree lined streets, yelling "no hands" as we flew down gentle hills that seemed like the Colorado Rockies from our eight-year-old perspective. When I entered high school and moved elsewhere, my trusty pink bike became a pre-license form of transit that got me to friend's houses--leapt off and casually discarded in front yards with little worries of bike locks or consequence. 

One of the things that I dislike about New York City is that it is a difficult city for leisurely bike riding. When we were in Vancouver, we loved renting bikes and riding around Stanley Park--embracing the plentiful and well-designed bike lines. While friends in Brooklyn always claim that they ride bikes everywhere, up here in Manhattan, biking seems like sort of a daredevil move only to be committed by adolescents lacking the forethought and fear of death that would result in restraint from impulsive behavior like riding in bike lines often filled with trucks and illegally parked cars.

"Summer Streets" occurred this Saturday in New York City. Each summer, for three Saturdays, Park Avenue is closed to cars all of the way down to Brooklyn Bridge. The streets fill with bikers, runners, and rollerbladers and, for that one day, New York City feels a little like childhood. M. and I rented bikes on Saturday for this fun summer event and rode down to--and across--the Brooklyn Bridge and then found ourselves enjoying the experience so much that we rode around Brooklyn and then back over to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. From there, we followed a bike path (that we didn't even know existed) all of the way up the East River until around the forties where we crossed over to First Avenue and continued back into the Upper East Side. On our jaunt, we found a community of bike riders who were happy to share tips about where to ride, we also found ourselves in the midst of cabs on a slightly scary venture up one part of First Avenue, but, most importantly, we rediscovered our city on a bicycle. 
While NYC still has much progress to make in order to be a truly bike friendly city, I am no longer terrified of biking here and am even considering becoming one of those people who bikes to work. I am planning to test it this week, so I'll let you know how it goes! I am already dreaming of a grown-up version of that trusty little hot pink bike that I had so many years ago...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sisterland

Relationships with sisters can be complicated--as anyone who has sisters knows. On one hand, sisters are the greatest thing ever. I always know I can ask my sisters anything, count on them to understand the nuances of family in ways even the closest of friends might not, and there is definitely no better joke than the inside jokes emerging from a lifetime of sisterhood! On the other hand, the things that often drive us craziest about ourselves, can be those same qualities that sisters share, having been similarly nurtured. Therefore, our sisters can drive us crazy in ways that we permit ourselves to react to because, after all, they are our sister and so we have the "family trump card" that allows us to argue with them like no one else and know that they are required to still love us! At the bottom of all of the complexity and nuance, however, relationships with sisters are extremely special and something I know I value deeply.

I write this preface to argue why anyone with a sister absolutely must read Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland. What I anticipated would be light summer reading was absolutely a fun beach read, but, for those with sisters, it beautifully captured a relationship that is enduring, special, and perfect, despite all of the craziness that it encompasses. A great summer read and one I absolutely recommend!

Summers in New England

We are back after a great couple of weeks in New England for some seaside vacationing, time with friends and family, and capped off with an amazing wedding in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 

Here are some of the highlights from our New England trip:

It was great to see my friends from high school and catch up on life lately!
We loved hanging out in the Mystic area, which included some wandering around Old Lyme, a Taylor Swift sighting in Mystic, and a delicious meal with M's parents at the Daniel Packer Inne!
We loved renting a house out on the Cape! While I love international travel, there is nothing easier than driving somewhere (we non-drivers adored the novelty of the radio!), grilling food, lounging on nearby beaches, exploring kitschy little Cape Cod towns, relishing in outdoor showers where one can look up and savor the view of trees rustling in the wind, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and seeing the stars clear and bright each night before bed.

Exploring Provincetown was a blast! 
We loved stopping for a wine tasting at Truro Vineyards, a place my sister has been raving about--with good reason--for years, our lunch view at Fanizzi's by the Sea, our hike to Race Point Beach, and my cousin's awesome wedding at Ten Tables!
I loved all of the awesome details...including her adorable cocktail selection. 
My favorite was "Paint the Town Red," which was a perfect blend 
of cava rose, fresh strawberries, and St. Germaine! 
While it is good to back, nothing beats the slow pace of a New England vacation...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Hair and I

Perhaps my longest and most tumultuous relationship in life has been the one I have with my hair. Yes, perhaps this admission is slightly shallow; however, for those other gals out there who have coarse, curly, thick mops, I bet that you understand my sentiment. While I have, for the most part, grown out of temper tantrums born of humid summer days or rainy day events, my hair still tends to present a meeting of the minds that guarantees a difference of opinion.

Recently, when I attended my cousin's bachelorette weekend on Nantucket, she made reference to our genetic hair curse and we all laughed recollecting the bad haircuts (especially those administered by our mothers) over the years that we struggled to tame--since all of us seemed to inherit this hair from our fathers--leaving our mothers with a sense of wonder at what to do with the foreign textures emerging from our scalps. 

Because of the trauma connected to my hair, I have rarely departed from some mild variation of the same haircut since late high school when I finally developed some management techniques, which is why it came as a surprise--even to me--when I marched into the hair salon two days ago and demanded a change. My hairdresser looked at me skeptically and laughed, until she realized I was serious. 

So, while I had hoped that my hair would magically ignore years of cowlicks and history and manage to look like this:
Instead, it followed its predictable pattern and looked more like this:
When I talked to my friend that night (who I totally blame for my bad haircut, as I usually consult with her in all stages of the haircare process and she was, you know, busy having a baby or something!), she begged for a picture so that she could have a good laugh. At least, on the bright side, my hair grows fast, so, hopefully, by the time I go back to work my fringe bangs will be long enough that the kids do not begin calling me Ms. Muppet. In the meantime, I look like I am wearing a bad wig or I am emulating one of The Beatles, but at least, as my friend pointed out, now I know for sure that fringe bangs are not a good look...    

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wedding Bells...

Ha! For those of you who know me, I'll bet that title got your attention! Sorry to disappoint, but I am not referring to my own wedding. However, I did ATTEND a lovely wedding this weekend that, should I ever decide to walk down the aisle, I may just have to adoringly mimic some parts of as though I were an annoying younger sibling... :)

This weekend was a lovely medley of all things I adore in a weekend. Friday, I stayed in, tired from traveling, and consumed cup after cup of mint tea while reading a book my sister recommended: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbough. It was a novel akin to the "blackout cupcake" from Crumbs; delicious and sweet, but not the kind of thing off of which you want to subsist. That said, it was a perfect read for my purposes. Saturday, I woke up early and freaked out upon realizing that we had a wedding to attend that night and I had nothing to wear. After some galavanting around multiple NYC neighborhoods, I found a dress and then raced home to get ready.
The wedding was everything that I love in a wedding. I have been to (and been in!) a lot of weddings. Weddings are always a good time and a wonderful opportunity to see the people you love, no matter the spectacle of the wedding itself, but over the years I have definitely developed an affinity for a certain type of wedding. The weddings I have attended have run the gamut--and when I say this I am not exaggerating--not even a little. I have been to budget weddings and weddings that have cost more than most homes, huge weddings where the bride and groom didn't even know everyone to small weddings where I knew every single person's life story, weddings with historical themes held in historical settings to hipster weddings that have attempted to depart from even a hint of a theme. While I remember all of these weddings (and have loved them for the people for whom the occasion celebrated) there are definitely some aspects of each of these weddings that I remember as clearly as the people I love--and this has led me to the conclusion that the personal touches at weddings are always what I remember. From an ice cream truck that one of my friends served ice cream in her wedding gown from at the end of the night, to another friend who had a mariachi band during cocktail hour, to a friend who gave out CDs (yeah, I'm old) as favors with songs that were special to the bride and groom, to another friend who transported her bridal party in a trolley, I love those parts of weddings where--even if it is something quite simple--embody the essence of the couple--and the wedding this weekend was beautiful because it was filled with tons of lovely personal touches. 
Not our best picture, in fact, quite possibly one of our worst, 
but M's exuberance cracks me up...
The ceremony was held under the Brooklyn Bridge, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and had all of the idiosyncrasies of a classic New York City wedding. The D train kept loudly clacking by (even though the D train never seems to run on schedule!) and so the audience was in and out of hearing the performance of the ceremony--yet, despite this, both the bride and groom laughed about the train and teared as they spoke to each other. Adorable. In the heat of the summer, the groom insisted that his groomsmen (and wedding attendees) be comfortable and the bride insisted that the bridemaids not spend a ton of money on something that, let's face it, we all know nobody ever wears again! She coordinated their outfits and had them wear beautiful, long chartreuse skirts and simple white tank tops topped off by unifying and coordinated J Crew necklaces. It was simple and lovely. 
After the ceremony, all of the guests walked over to Dumbo Loft where there was dinner (served from their favorite food carts!) and great music and dancing. The evening was filled with touching speeches by a variety of people and every song performed by the band was hand selected. This made for a Beastie Boys dance-off at one point that, while not your classic wedding serenade, was perfect for a group of man-boys who knew every word and, despite some pretty scary dance skills, were inspired to move by the music. Like the musical playlists, the bride and groom had done a lot of the decor themselves and there were tons of personal touches--for instance, they met when the groom taught the bride to ride a bike and therefore, bikes dominated their aesthetic. It was an absolutely lovely wedding--and made for a great way to spend a Saturday night!

On Sunday (my newly showing!) friend came in from Connecticut for catching up, manicures and pedicures, and some yummy brunch, and it was the perfect way to end a great weekend. Between the weather and the company, I am one happy girl!

Today, after doing some work and some exercise, both of which that needed to be done, M and I hopped on our favorite NYC mode of transportation and headed to Brooklyn for dinner. A drink in a our hand and some yummy seafood in front of us, we sat in the large outdoor space of The Lobster Joint and soaked in the sun, the wine, and the clams. Not bad, not bad at all.
I heart Greenpoint--every corner makes me want to pose 
and pretend I am on an album cover.
It's always a guaranteed amazing view from the ferry!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Travel Tales

video
Learning to Canter--sort of...
While my horseback riding fantasies were fulfilled, M. 
was kind of nervous on his stubborn horse (who kept biting his feet, stopping to consume 
large quantities of grass, and snapping at my horse when she tried to pass him) 
and preferred to sit back and film! 

Well, I am back from a little traveling. While it is always nice to return home to the comfort of your own bed, I do love traveling and can never quite seem to get it out of my system. This trip was a short, essentially three country jaunt, with just brief glimpses into three very different places. The itinerary began in the borderlands of Guatemala and Belize, followed by some time in the islands of Belize, and ending with a trip up the Yucatan Peninsula through Mexico. It had all parts adventure and relaxation that my kind of travel requires and was an awesome trip.

Purchasing extremely last minute tickets, M. joined me and he has never been to the countryside of Central America before; the contrast of poverty and wealth is always somewhat overwhelming and eye opening when one first experiences it. After arriving in Belize City, we immediately headed west towards Guatemala. This portion of our trip included a death defying car ride (that we definitely could have skipped but provided lots of fodder for laughter retrospectively!), eating lots of plantains, rice and beans, taking in the sights of a world far different from our own and visiting with people, hearing stories that both change one's worldview while confirming the similarity of people everywhere, consuming much delicious coffee, crossing a wide river on a hand cranked ferry, eating a local meal in the middle of the jungle with a parrot as our table companion, watching monkeys swing from branch to branch above us, an amazing eight mile horseback ride through the jungle, and a majestic hike up to the sacred Mayan site of Xunantunich where we were nearly the only visitors and had the place pretty much to ourselves.
From here, we crossed the entire country of Belize to the coastline and jumped on a boat to get to Ambergris Caye. On the Caye, we biked, relaxed on the beach, drank a lot of ice cold Belikans (the beer of Belize), jumped off docks to swim and observe the famous reefs of the Caye, and enjoyed a wide variety of delicious meals. It was extremely relaxing and the perfect way to counter the hiking and horseback riding of the earlier part of the week.
While Belize was highly relaxing, we knew we wanted to be complete beach bums for the end of our trip and so, from here, we crossed the border via a water taxi (that I would incidentally never recommend to anyone else ever--I actually have bruises on my right arm from the incredibly bumpy ride that ended with machine gun laden Mexican police and their trained dogs sniffing our luggage--little stressful...) to Chetumal where we made our way up the coastline to spend a few days in Tulum, Mexico.  Tulum was probably our favorite place and both of us agreed that we would definitely go back. It was an incredibly easy place to travel and was so relaxing. We spent our days under palapas in lounge chairs reading, ordering fresh guacamole and mojitos, and stirring only to swim in sparkling turquoise waters--not bad. At night we would venture out to eat and stroll on a moonlit beach. I am already thinking about returning in the cold stretch of northeastern winters to go to a yoga retreat! 
From here, we made our way to our last stop in Mexico--Playa del Carmen. Perhaps because we fell so in love with Tulum, Playa was fun, but had we planned differently we might have skipped it. Life in Playa was analogous to my conception of life in Miami. Living in New York City, where we travel to get away from busy, appearance-conscious living, and have the constant opportunity to eat at glitzy restaurants, it was just not exactly what we were looking for, but, nevertheless, I can't say we didn't enjoy lounging on the white sand beaches and swimming in the crystal clear waters!

We returned via Cancun, with this little Dia de Muertos trinket to serve as a lovely little reminder of a wonderful little summer trip.
And, most exciting about the whole trip was the news that my lovely friend delivered a healthy, happy (nearly ten pound!!!!) baby on my birthday! So excited to share this day with the little one of someone so special to me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Taste of Paris in NYC

Ever since I read this blog entry about a lovely Bastille Day picnic in France, I have been obsessed with celebrating France's Independence Day.

Yesterday was Bastille Day and, in New York City, Bastille Day calls for a big celebration complete with closed-off streets, music, French food, and other festivities. Though I would have loved to be in Paris wearing all white and celebrating with a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, the celebration at 60th street was the next best thing. And I did wear white to commemorate!
I picked up this fun little dress on sale at Zara. 
I am in love with the back of the dress--perfect to beat the summer heat! 

After walking down to the fete in all-consuming heat, we were happy to arrive at a (crowded) land filled with red, white, and blue, and macaroons, eclairs, wine, and music...
It was a lovely New York City summer day--even though I felt like my body was melting into the pavement in a sweaty puddle. Sigh...summer-in-the-city trade-offs.

To counter the heat of yesterday, I tried to head to the Rain Room exhibit at MOMA this morning, but I refuse to wait in an eight hour line in 98 degree weather to see a ten minute exhibit. I may have to just become a MOMA member and then try again on a Tuesday or Wednesday when I heard the wait time hovers around a speedy four hours....