Summer Vibes

IMG_1365 After a grueling winter, it felt like summer was reluctant to appear. A couple weeks of chilly rain, interrupted by a couple of random 90 degree-plus days was hardly what I had been waiting for for six months. Finally, as if sensing a holiday weekend approaching, the skies opened up and bestowed a soft warm glow upon Manhattan joined by a cool breeze to whisk away all of those delightful city smells and leave only a rustling of trees in its wake. That laid-back summer feeling I had been so desperately longing for is here at last. I’ve been allowing myself to drift in and out of daydreams of my childhood summers, that beautifully undisturbed time in my memory when everything was at it should be. Languorous days spend at the pool topped by Papa John’s pizza and a steamy afternoon thunderstorm provided a perfect excuse for a movie night with friends and a bottomless bucket of chilled watermelon to drip down my chin. Sun-induced naps in the hammock with a book splayed across my freckled chest, it all just felt so easy, like life would always be like this. IMG_6733 While summers in the city are definitely different than the Floridian summers of my childhood, they are no less special. The crisp, lush smell of trees in Central Park, evenings spent on rooftops with friends, and just the sheer anticipation of the mere hope of summer makes this season feel like an annual months-long festival where everyone is invited. And of course, one of the best things about New York in summer is the chance to get away. Day trips to the Hudson, afternoons at the Rockaways, weekends in the Hamptons; most people love New York City summer because it means they won’t be in New York. IMG_7062 Though I generally prefer weekends spent in the city, ambling through West Village and generally exploring, weekend, Rob and I decided to hop out of town just for an afternoon to New Canaan, Connecticut. Funny how our idea of a getaway is a no-frills suburb where most people who live there commute into Manhattan. But the uber-preppy interior design shops, Colonial-style homes, and a gelato shop to satisfy my sweet tooth was just what I wanted on a sunny day. Four hours in, though, and we were happy to be heading home. I’m finding that maintaining a balance of getting out and seeing new things really does make coming home that much sweeter. IMG_7205 Yesterday, though, I couldn’t have been happier to enjoy an overcast, cool day listening to classical music, reading books and baking my favorite strawberry tart for the day’s 4th of July festivities. A recipe found on one of my favorite cooking sites, it’s super easy and makes a lovely presentation for a neighborhood barbecue. DSC_0037 Hope everyone made some wonderful summer memories this 4th of July! DSC_0039

The Big Apple

Remember last week when I said I needed an escape? Well, I managed to sneak out of the city just long enough to clear my head and remember there’s a world outside Manhattan. After months without leaving the island, apple-picking during the peak of fall seemed just the thing to do.

The first time I ever picked anything straight from the source was in Germany, where I picked strawberries from a friend’s nearby berry patch. I felt such a childlike sense of accomplishment at being able to do something as simple and natural as picking something from the earth and eating it an hour later. This visit to the farm felt just as illuminating, with thoughts like ‘wow, apples really do grow on trees” popping up in my mind as we strolled down the aisles of lush trees. I think it’s wonderful for local farmers to open up their businesses and allow the public to see firsthand how important the connection is between what we eat and where it comes from. Not only is it eye-opening, but so much fun!

More delightful than the simple joy of apple-picking, was the overwhelming beauty of the scenery, the real reason we were there. The drive to Pennings Farm was breathtaking, with painterly hues sweeping past as we drove and wide vistas overtaking us around corners. Wide open spaces that others take for granted thrilled us with their endlessness and the mundane quiet soothed the chaotic grating to which we’ve grown accustomed. I hadn’t really even noticed that the leaves had turned yet since we don’t have as many around. What a lovely reminder it was to see fall in full regalia.

Now, back to the apples. As we were getting ready to leave Sunday morning, I kept enticing Rob with all of the delicious apple treats that we would find at the farm. In jest, I said, “we’re gonna eat apple cider donuts, apple crumble, apple crisp, apple pie, apple butter, apple bread….” I tried to come up with as many apple treats I could think of, sounding like Bubba from Forrest Gump (if you don’t get the reference, stop reading right now, and go watch that movie!).

Well, once we got to the farm and breezed through the adjacent farmer’s market and brewery, inhaling the intoxicating scent of cinnamon and hot cider,  it was clear that there are a thousand different and enticing ways you can eat an apple. I’m only disappointed that I could only stomach ONE cider apple donut and a hard cider! I had lofty goals, though I did make it home with a jar of apple butter made on the farm and a quart of hard pumpkin cider. The perfect pre-Halloween brew. Trick or treat:)

The Eye Has to Travel

As Diana Vreeland once said, “the eye has to travel” and indeed it does. I have lately been feeling like I need an escape, and not just a physical one, but an escape into imagination and fantasy. I want to be captivated by something, to feel and think and see differently. For a couple of hours this past week, I did finally escape into another world, that of Diana Vreeland, the epic editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar for a collective 40 years. In a documentary that explored her life, raucous and without reservation, I found inspiration in the immense creativity and joie de vivre with which Diana lived her life. The woman had verve and sass, and she sought beauty and welcomed what life brought her.

Anything but a classic beauty, she elevated what she was given to exude style and elegance. It was truly fascinating to witness and think about the great historical changes she witnessed as a child born at the turn of the century to an old firecracker partying at Studio 54. What I loved most, though, was her idiosyncratic, often nonsensical wit and incredible enthusiasm for imagery and fantasy. I suppose one needs to have a sense of reality, but fantasy is necessary to give reality context. It’s vital to dream and seek out things beyond the colloquial.

And speaking of everyday versus elevated perception, who was sitting near us in the theater but Giovanna Battaglia, street style star! For all of you fashion neophytes, just know this woman knows about style, and the entire time I kept thinking, I’m watching all of these designers speak and engage in the spectacle of fashion, and this woman lives it! My eyes really did travel that night.

{Images above are from coffee table tome about DV, The Eye Has to Travel, also the title of the film; I also want to read Allure, her legendary memoir!}

Sister, Sister

It’s funny how two people can have the same upbringing, be so different, and still get along so well. My little sister and I can divine what the other is thinking instantly, we often say the same thing at the same time (so embarrassing), and we share a love of fashion, design and travel, yet we have totally different personalities and styles. Margaux emulates that easy breezy Cali cool-girl-at-the-beach vibe, all prints and colors, while I usually stick to a more New York neutral, layered, feminine-with-a-hint-of-schoolboy look. She counts Elle Macpherson and fully-fringed boho Kate Moss as style icons and usually sticks to palettes of browns, whites, and colors, always making sure her hair is her best accessory. I, on the other hand, tend to emulate women like Anne Hathaway, Alexa Chung, and Taylor Tomasi Hill and am quite content to just throw my carelessly blown-dry hair up into a bun.

We’ve always laughed about our differences and when we go shopping together, we muse how certain items are “soooo you- totally not my style”. And even when we do fall in love with the same piece (which does happen a lot), I’ll choose the black and red version, while Margaux will reach for the brown and blue.

So while walking around West Village one afternoon, I commented on how even when I totally split with convention and buy a printed blue silk top (her color) and Margaux shows up wearing shades of solid neutrals including red (sooo my color), we are still totally embracing our own styles. My outfit is grounded by black, my favorite neutral, as well as a penchant for button-down silk blouses and skinny bottoms. Margaux, meanwhile, looks so chic and put-together in white cropped jeans and a sleeveless trench vest that I wouldn’t dare try.

It’s so interesting to see your tastes and style really solidify in your 20s and be able to more clearly define who you are and what you like. I’ve felt it happening and thought about it some more when I read this post on DesignLoveFest the other day. I know living in New York has definitely had an influence on my general outlook and perspective on so many areas of life and style, and I’m sure it has for my sister as well. I’m curious to see how we evolve in the same city together. 

Respective styles aside, we both know that there is no escaping turning into our mom! More and more, we’ve been picking up her old handbags and jewelry and being drawn to more classic pieces. Now how’s that for a nature vs. nurture debate?!


Pancakes, Pie and Some Putt Putt

For someone who once professed to never really like breakfast foods, I sure do love brunch. I know I’m going to thoroughly freak people out when I say this, but I don’t like bacon, or breakfast sausage and I didn’t used to like eggs, pancakes, or coffee! Sacrilege! How is it that people’s tastes can change so much? Now there is nothing more satisfying to me than walking in the door of some place cozy and rustic and smelling the addictive aroma of fresh coffee and the savory, slightly sweet scent of pancakes and omelettes wafting in the air.

Which is why I absolutely had to eat at Bubby’s. With recipes culled from antique all-American cookbooks, Bubby’s does brunch best; open 24 hours, including a midnight brunch special. I was a bit skeptical at first, especially when I saw sour cream and sourdough pancakes on the menu, but I figured that if this place has been around for over 20 years, they must be doing something right. We all decided to test out the said sour cream version and lo and behold–they were delicious, with a creamy, almost melt-in-your-mouth taste.

But the real reason for heading to Bubby’s is first and foremost their pie selection. Michigan Sour Cherry, Mile High Apple, Strawberry Rhubarb, and my summer favorite Key Lime, are well worth the trip downtown and maybe even best suited for a midnight jaunt. I went with Key Lime, which I had been craving for a while, and was pleasantly surprised by the tart, light, custard texture that wasn’t too heavy or dairy-based (a mistake most places make). Even if you can’t make it to their Tribeca and Dumbo locales, you can actually have Bubby’s famous pies delivered anywhere in the country. After seeing their online selection, I most certainly cannot wait to try the Apple Whiskey Crumble. Uh-mazing and perfect for crispy autumn days ahead.

After all that pancake, chicken apple sausage and pie delight, we had to walk it off and figured there’d be no better place to do that than Tribeca, where I had never ventured before. It’s strange stepping into a new neighborhood in New York, because once you think that you really grasp the lay of the land, you realize just how expansive and multi-dimensional this little island really is. As though I didn’t feel that way before.

Tribeca has the architecture and vibe of Soho and Meatpacking combined, but it was dead on a Sunday afternoon. There are more tightly-edited retail options and it feels more residential, a logical reason why so many celebs choose to live here (Sofia Coppola was casually brunching at the table next to us). It has the cool factor, but without the tourists and the crowds. And because it borders on the financial district, you can feel some of the power and agency that those glass high rises suggest.

So we walked and we walked and though the sun was hiding, the heat was no less scathing. We saw the water in the distance and decided to walk over to the river to see the view, which is always refreshing even if you can’t just jump in. Once we reached the bike lanes along the banks, we noticed a mini golf park, of all things, on Pier 25. What better way to relax after brunch than a playful round of mini-golf. I hadn’t played since I was a kid and I had forgotten just how fun it could be!

In addition to the golf course, there is a beach volleyball court, skate park, sailing lessons, and a water park/playground for kids. Now I know why Tribeca is a New York City real estate hotspot!