Did you know that Far Rockaway is really, really far away?
Like, really far.
And extra far when you take the wrong train to get there. (That’s what Kendrick and I call my “Thunderface”.)
(The day’s sparkles.)
We started out shooting the day’s JITH segment (titled “She Sells Seashells”) on the beach, and man, it was hot. But Far Rockaway - especially the relatively unpopulated area we shot at - is beautiful, and so peaceful. Also hot. (My shoulders are extremely pink today.)
So it was hot. But then…oh, then…I got to go paddleboarding.
It is way easier than I expected it to be (although they did say that my snowboarding experience helps, and that people who practice yoga - I don’t, although I have - have an easier time balancing), and fun. Relaxing, even.
More on this later, when I get the shots.
Goats, just wandering around Marina 59 (they also have kayaking, fishing, and something called a “Boatel”, FYI).
This is Lily, my enthusiastic coach, who taught me about “soft legs.”
Segment Wardrobe: Gap cardigan, romper c/o Kenneth Cole, blue topaz necklace c/o Ippolita, Hannah Warner coral necklace (previously seen here), RayBan sunglasses (Kendrick’s), Foley & Corinna purse, watch c/o Timex, LyraLoveStar ring, Huit bathing suit.
In search of inspiration for an easy Fourth of July centerpiece, I head to Central Park in some very interesting headgear. Also on the menu: ways to bring the blooms inside all year ‘round, boating mishaps, and fireworks, of course.
Let me tell you a little story about growing up in the city.
Specifically, around age 16.
Those of you who live…oh, anywhere else…probably learned to drive on wide-open, leafy streets lined with beloved friends and relatives all waving little flags, ushering kittens, trash cans, and other small dangers out of your path, and generally cheering you on. Or at least that’s how I picture it.
You know what happens on Day 1 of your first driving lesson in NYC? If you’re me? A very over-it driver’s ed teacher picks you up outside your Hell’s Kitchen apartment, which happens to be located directly next to Times Square, and points you in the direction of one of the most congested, heavily-trafficked areas in the world.
Oh, and it was raining.
So twenty minutes later, I was treated to the pleasurable task of giving my mom a ring from the police station, where my instructor was filing a report about how his student managed to hit a limo (it wasn’t all that hard, actually).
And then test day came. And you know how you get to your driving test, if you grow up in New York City?
You take the FDR Drive, which is basically a Speedway To Hell, it’s so fast and narrow and full of completely insane drivers. (I took that photo yesterday, when Dad and I were driving to Sheepshead Bay to go fishing, because we almost - and I don’t mean “almost”, I mean really seriously almost - got in accidents two separate times, thanks to the aforementioned completely insane drivers. See how the photo is blurry? That’s because I was bouncing up and down in my seat so much because of the enormous potholes that I couldn’t get the camera to focus.)
On test day, however, I managed to survive the trip on the FDR and make it through parallel parking, three-point-turns, and stop signs. And then I hit a person.
Let me say that again, in case you didn’t hear me the first time.
I hit a person. On my driving test.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t as big of a deal as I initially thought (and trust me, I initially through it was a pretty effing large deal), because the person had totally tried to get hit. You see, the town where I was taking my test was basically Driving Test Central for kids from New York City, so I guess the local teenagers had started making a game of it, jumping in front of the cars as they were rolling up to a stop sign and then screaming that they’d been hit and that the test-taker should fail. Nice, right? And smart.
Anyway, I passed. (In all fairness, though, I should admit that this was the second time I took the driving test - the first time involved a stop sign that I swear to god, came out of nowhere.)
The other day, I decided to take Indy on the subway by myself for the very first time.
In the rain.
At rush hour.
This, as you can imagine, was a terrible, horrible idea. Had there not been a seven-foot-tall guy (who very much resembled Clark Kent, just saying) who swooped in and lifted the stroller through the crowds, I would have just given up and taxi-ed it back home.
Lesson learned: the carrier is the way to go when I’m on my own. When it’s all three of us adventuring off somewhere, however, baby-on-subway is rather fun (he loves it).
And so on Sunday, for Indy’s half-birthday, we took him to Carroll Gardens for a little eating-and-toy-shopping.
I’ve written about Char No. 4 before; they’re very much a foodie-heaven place, but what I really love about them is a) the little enclosed sunroom area in the back, b) the fact that they’re extremely nice and accommodating about babies (we chose the place because last time we went there I was pregnant, and we noticed lots of couples with small children), and c) they allow me to have the pickle that comes in the Bloody Mary without actually ordering the Bloody Mary (both when pregnant, and when not).
If you go, get the pancakes. Do ittttt.
After lunch we stopped into a little place called Mongo, and I thought very seriously about buying one of these incredible oversized balls of yarn before remembering that all I really know how to make are baby blankets, and we’re all full up on those.
I like this picture.
I also like this one. My two little Zoolanders.
Since it was such a gorgeous day and I had to fulfill this prediction, we stopped into Gowanus Yacht Club before heading home.
Above, I’m wearing two of my new favorite things: Ippolita earrings that were an early Mother’s Day gift from the company (I love lapis and used to have an incredible pair of vintage lapis earrings, but Lucy secreted them away somewhere many apartments ago), and a vintage denim jacket with knit sleeves that I found at Urban Outfitters.
This was our Sunday brunch: a tomato, bufala mozzarella and basil scramble.
And this was our Sunday: rainy day-ing it around the house and trying things on for size.
Playing with some half-birthday presents. The usual.
This was the first location we shot in yesterday: The Burger Joint, which you get to in a very neat way, by wandering through the fancy-pants lobby of Le Parker Meridian Hotel and then ducking behind a thick burgundy curtain (the only indicator of what’s to come is a small neon hamburger on the wall).
Inside, a super-cool (and tiny; go early or face completely crazy lines) space with wood paneling, vinyl booths, and one of the best burgers in the city (get it fully loaded with cheese).
Anywhere with lampshades like that has my official Seal Of Approval.
I started going swing dancing at various spots around the city when I was 16. Mostly at 18+ places rather than 21+, but still: bad girls, I know. (Not really bad. We were swing dancing. There are worse things to be sneaking into places to be doing.)
That’s me celebrating my 17th birthday at the now-defunct (at least in its old incarnation) Supper Club. I remember that night because this guy who seemed incredibly sophisticated and worldly - he was probably 19 - asked me to dance, and he was that kind of amazing dancer who makes you feel like you’re amazing too: dips, lifts, and all. Of course I was immediately positive that I was in love; of course he only ever asked me to dance that one time. But still. I’ll always remember that night, because that’s the reason that dancing can be such a joy: those moments when you’re not thinking about the steps or your nerves, and you feel like pure grace.
Anyway, I have a sort of related question for you: I used to frequent Swing 46 and the Supper Club, with occasional stops into local events at dance studios, but I’m pretty out of the scene at the moment. (Oh, and just to lower those expectations: I’m nowhere near a fabulous dancer. I know the steps and can more or less avoid embarrassing myself…but that’s about it.) I’ve been thinking I’d like to tape an upcoming segment at a bar/restaurant with fantastic 1920s/30s decor (a little before swing hit its stride, yes, but that’s the decor look I’m shooting for) and a good dance scene (or at least a dance floor).
There must be places like this in the city. Probably a lot of them.
Know of any?
Saturday afternoon, we got good news. And celebrated accordingly.
(Oh, sidenote annoying-thing-about-bangs: in addition to requiring you go to the salon for trims every six weeks or so, they also mean you have to get your color touched up a bit more often, because while an inch or so of growth on long hair can look good if done right, if you have bangs an inch of growth just looks like your bangs are one color, while the rest of your hair is another. I don’t regret getting them because they’ve cut down so much on the amount of time I spend dealing with my hair on a daily basis, but it’s something to think about if you’re considering it yourself.)
On Saturday night, the whole family went out to celebrate my Dad’s birthday at Nobu, where I had my first Matsuhisa (cucumber-sake) martini in about a year and a half (joy), and one of the dishes that has a permanent spot on my Death Row Menu (you know, what you’d eat for your last meal if you were on Death Row): yellowtail sashimi topped with jalapeno and ponzu. I’d say get thee to Nobu immediately to try it…but a lot of sushi restaurants have actually co-opted the dish, and so long as the fish is fresh it’s always a good one. No need to head down to Hudson Street.
Sunday morning, I woke up wanting a chocolate-chip muffin so badly that I actually contemplated springing out of bed and heading straight for my mixing bowls…but I didn’t want to spoil my appetite, because we were headed over to Stephen and Dave’s for brunch. Once we arrived, a fabulous thing happened: I discovered that one of their friends had brought over Banana-Chocolate Chip muffins, which are even better.
Easy serving-brunch-to-the-masses trick: Pour Greek yogurt, good-quality granola, and mixed berries into separate bowls, set out the prettiest plastic glasses you can find, and let your guests DIY their own breakfast parfaits.
If you’ve never been to Pickles and Olives (over on First Ave), you have to go. It’s a tiny little place packed with huge barrels full of all different kinds of…pickles and olives. It’s clearly the best place ever.
And if you’d like to try DIY-ing your own pickles, this is an easy and fun recipe.
At brunch, I walked in and immediately heard, “…Jordan?” Which would ordinarily send me into a panic, as what that usually means is that I’m about to embarrass myself by having forgotten someone’s name (my brain is a sewer drain for names; it’s a terrible, horrible quality), but as it turned out, it was someone whom I’d never met in person before but have been wanting to meet for many months now: Phoebe of Big Girls Small Kitchen. I’ve written about Phoebe and her partner, Cara, many times before, and Phoebe is a friend of Stephen and Dave’s, so we finally got a face-to-face.
And that means cozy sweaters, Hunter boots, and brunch anywhere you can find a fireplace.
I gave Andrea at BrunchCritic a ring to find out her top picks for Cozy Winter Brunch Spots in NYC, and these were her top five:
Tiny’s (Tribeca): In Tribeca, the land of enormous, loft-like spaces, Tiny’s is an adorable miniature spot with a fireplace to be reckoned with. A perfect place for a romantic date during the chilly months.
The Cupping Room (SoHo, pictured above): Not many places in NYC can say that they’ve been around for over thirty years, but the Cupping Room is one of them. It’s not too tiny - so you can bring some friends - and comes complete with great, jazzy tunes, a fireplace, brick walls, and local art peppered around the dining room.
Le Barricou (Williamsburg): Enter through the swingin’ bar and head towards the dining room in the back. After your meal, linger with your cup of coffee on the couches near the fireplace - it’s a perfect place to spend a lazy, snowy day.
Nook (Hell’s Kitchen): The name says it all. Snuggled into a tiny space on 9th Avenue, Nook’s a place you have to try at least once, if only to cross this quintessentially cute spot off your must-brunch list. And as a bonus, it’s also BYOB.
King’s Carriage House (Upper East Side): This place isn’t your typical brunch spot - it’s a unique, elegant space that’s perfect for the days when you’re feeling a little extra fancy…and yet not looking to lay out too much money. Housed in a slim 3-story townhouse, it has an upscale New England feel and offers an $18.95 prix fixe (2 courses).
Click over to BrunchCritic for more cozy brunch spots to hit up on this snowy weekend.
NYC is a fairly spectacular place to live all year round…but there’s nothing like it at Christmastime. Yesterday morning, I swung by Bryant Park (the ice skating rink also has a pretty fun bar adjacent to it - we went last year around this time with some friends) for the Grand Opening of Real Simple’s Pop-Up Shop - a must if you’re in NYC.
The Pop-Up Shop is full of the kinds of gift ideas that are the reason you (or at least I) love Real Simple: inventive and practical. Like Mario Batali’s new cookbook, tons and tons of foodie items…and Christmas tree decoration organizers (want).
Why hello there, Carson!
(He liked my Alexandra Moosally carrot necklace.)
Candace Nelson (the owner of Sprinkles) was there too, which got me all fluttery because I am weirdly obsessed with Cupcake Wars at the moment.
CANDACE NELSON’S CHRISTMAS TREE CUPCAKES:
1. Prepare the cupcake batter of your choice (Candace used Sprinkles’ Red Velvet).
2. Stretch some foil over the top of a loaf pan, and cut little slits in it. Insert the bottom of a sugar cone into each slit so that they’re propped up.
3. Fill the sugar cones 2/3 full with cupcake batter, and bake according to package instructions (the texture of the cone won’t be affected by the baking).
4. Melt some white chocolate (this can be a pain, so make sure you buy white chocolate intended specifically for melting) and dip each cupcake-filled cone. Set on wax paper to harden.
5. Use frosting to affix decorations (like the candy buttons pictured above).
The Real Simple Pop-Up Shop is located at Citi Pond in Bryant Park, and is open December 8-13 from 11AM-8PM. Click here for more info on holiday markets in NYC.
We spent a lot of the weekend wandering around in the still-pretty-nice weather and eating things like crepes.
That up there is a Snap ‘n’ Go, and is how I ended up resolving the stroller issue. It’s an inexpensive frame that you snap a car seat (which you have to get anyway, even in NYC) into, and that you retire when the baby hits three months and can get into a regular stroller. And then that regular stroller can be a light, relatively wallet-friendly one, rather than a pricey version that accommodates a newborn (and is often much heavier, nothankyou).
(To those of you who’ve emailed me with questions about what to put on your registry and what I’ve found to be must-haves over the past month, I have a post coming up soon with all that info.)
Saturday night was Date Night. So I broke out the sparkle and fringe.
And the sexy perfume.
Most of the time, I wear Bond No. 9 Nuits de Noho, but Calvin Klein Secret Obsession is my wintry romance perfume: I find it too heavy and spicy for the warmer months or the daytime, but in a dark, candlelit room (preferably one with a fireplace) it feels just right.
We didn’t want to go too far from home, so we ended up getting dinner at a place Francesca recommended, Jones Wood Foundry. It’s a gastropub with awesome decor (big, wooden communal tables, leather armchairs, cozy corners, etc) and fancified takes on traditional English dishes like bangers & mash and cottage pie. I got the burger with Stilton cheese and bacon; Kendrick got the steak & kidney pie. I won. (That was a really good burger.)
You know, the joke (in the movies, anyway) is that couples who leave their babies at home for the first time are total basket cases, calling home every three seconds and skipping the after-dinner movie because they’re so nervous about the baby.
Or not us, anyway. I had an amazing time. The baby was with my mom and aunt, so I knew that everything was fine…and getting to spend some concentrated time with Kendrick, talking about things that didn’t include diapers, felt great. More than that: it felt important.
It feels like there’s a lot of pressure on parents to loudly announce to whoever will listen that they just hate being away from their baby for even a second; that they can’t stand the very thought of even being in another room. And while to some extent it’s true - especially in the first couple of weeks, I did get panicky if someone other than me held him for too long, or if he was out of my sight for more than a few minutes - I think a lot of it is social pressure to prove that you’re the Perfect Parent.
I loved spending time alone with my husband before having a baby; I love spending time alone with my husband now. And I feel a little guilty saying that (hello, social pressure!)…but it’s true.
Of course it was exciting to get back home, and yeah, we spent a good portion of the meal imitating the baby’s funniest faces for each other…but I really do believe (always have; I suspected that I would feel this way even before I became a mother) that maintaining the romance in a relationship is one of the best things you can do for your child. And not just with “Date Nights”…but by making a real effort to attend to each other on a daily basis, to really look at and appreciate each other as partners and lovers, not just parents.
Happy parents, happy baby.
One more thing I want to mention about this weekend. That? Is CHURRO-COATED CHALLAH FRENCH TOAST. With fried plantains.
Pepe Patron, on 2nd Avenue, just started doing brunch a couple of weeks ago, and they’re killing it. First of all, it feels like you’re on a Caribbean vacation inside, what with the music and the lights and all, which in my book is always a plus. And the food: there are standard options like breakfast burritos and eggs benedict, but there are also more interesting offerings like that french toast and a fabulous pulled pork sandwich with seasoned fries.
And before you even get your coffee, you’re handed a little basket filled with mini muffins. I love mini muffins.
And the sangria isn’t just cheap wine with apples and oranges dumped in; it’s filled with strawberries and cherries, and topped off with a little champagne and brandy.
And! The whole thing - little muffin things, entree, cocktail - is $12.95.
It is very uncool to say that you like Times Square. If you’re a “real” New Yorker, you’re supposed to hate it: all that tackiness, consumerism, artificiality…and the tourists! You’re supposed to really hate tourists.
I love tourists. They’re nice, they wear jorts and tennis shoes with pride, and all they want is for you to point them in the direction of Wicked without taking their money or their camera away from them. What’s wrong with that?
And I also love Times Square. I grew up just a couple of blocks away from where the ball drops on New Years’ Eve, so you think I’d barely notice it by now, but every single time I step out of the subway at 47th Street and Broadway the sight literally takes my breath away. I think it’s so exciting, and so romantic, and so incredibly beautiful, and I can’t walk through the place without stopping to look up and get a little amazed at the fact that this is where I live: right in the middle of the whole damn thing.
Especially at twilight.
I mean, look at that.
First, I am extremely annoyed that I forgot my camera on Friday night, because my girlfriends and I went first to the Boom Boom Room (at the top of The Standard Hotel in Meatpacking) and then to Fig & Olive for dinner to celebrate Morgan’s birthday, and it was all so fun and beautiful, and full of things that I wanted to show you.
So this will have to do:
That’s the Boom Boom Room. How incredible is that space? It’s the kind of place where you absolutely must wear a glamorous dress and red lipstick, drink champagne served in a sky-high coupe glass while swaying to the live band, and recline luxuriously on the white leather banquettes to check out the city views before - oh, fine - dancing with a George Clooney lookalike. Now, none of this happened to me - save for the red lipstick and a sort of awkward version of the aforementioned luxurious reclining on banquettes - but I will be going back in the near future. (And I didn’t get a chance to see this myself, but I hear that the restrooms there are pretty jaw-dropping, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river taking up an entire wall of every stall.)
Saturday was arguably less glamorous, but just as lovely.
We started out at the Oktoberfest fair over on East 84th Street. This is prime time in the city for street fairs and festivals; check out all the outdoor goings-on here.
Schaller & Weber hot dogs are excellent. (Virgil agrees.) The store really is worth a trip uptown if you live in the city (or if you’re visiting) - the staff is super-knowledgeable and friendly, and even if you’re not in a meat-buying mood, there’s lots of other interesting and unusual stuff for sale.
Click here for slow-cooked short ribs made following a trip to Schaller & Weber last winter.
Always my favorite spot at a street fair.
We scored two like-new Angelina Ballerinas for a dollar each…
…and arrived home to find this guy waiting for us. I love these.
Saturday night, we headed to Blue Ribbon for some early 30th-birthday celebrating (above, that’s their famous bone marrow & oxtail marmalade). Last time we went was the day we found out we were expecting, so it seemed appropriate to make another trip as we rumble towards the finish line.
The waiter let me know that the restaurant is also famous for their banana splits. If you insist. (The thumb is there for size-documenting purposes; that thing was huge and wonderful.)