Monday, October 28, 2013

New York City Day Trip

Last Monday, October 21st, I had the buona fortuna of visiting New York City with my girlfriends J and C in order to celebrate J's 30th birthday. We had such a great time...

We found this 30th birthday cake in a clothing store window.

We took the discount express bus service called megabus from Baltimore (specifically White Marsh; the stop is behind the Ikea and near the mall) to the city center bus stop located at 7th Ave. and W. 28th St. Unfortunately, the wifi was down, but since we departed before sunrise, I'm sure most on the bus were at least half asleep anyway. On the way, I started reading the Kindle book, Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc. by Delia Ephron. I saved it for this occasion since it was written by a New Yorker. I love traveling with my lightweight Kindle!

First, we walked 3 blocks over to the High Line which is a new park, a trail really, that lines an old railroad for some sightseeing and pictures.

See the railroad tracks lining the walkway.

Behold the public art.

I love a city skyline.

We strolled down the High Line about a dozen blocks in the sunshine, before exiting to visit the indoor marketplace Chelsea Market for coffee and breakfast. Unlike Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market which is one large room containing stalls, this market is more maze-like hallways snaking around stores.

While there, I enjoyed a cappuccino and delicious and oh-so-flaky pain au chocolat from Amy's Bread.

We explored the market that was decorated for Halloween including browsing its Anthropologie. Next, the birthday girl stopped at Starbucks across the street from the market. It seemed to be the thing to do as many others accessorized with a Starbucks cup. After caffeinating, we walked around just a bit waiting for 11:00 AM, which is opening time for the store Second Time Around for some thrift shopping. This is one third of the size of the Philadelphia location I love and full of more expensive designer pieces. We exited the store empty-handed.

After that, we got out nails done at Fresh Spa. I loved my manicure with OPI's Dutch Tulips.

We browsed through the internationally-known clothing store H&M and a travel/foreign language book shop called Idlewild Books, which I adored! They also have language classes in the back. I didn't purchase anything (but have read so much of their inventory already! After seeing it in this store, I actually purchased the newly published Forever Chic: Frenchwomen's Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style, and Substance by Tish Jett, the blogger behind A Femme d'Un Certain Age, on my Kindle yesterday).

Being tourists, we took pictures of the Flatiron building while looking around for a place to eat lunch.

We decided on an American sports bar/restaurant named Rogue. I loved my spicy and messy yet delicious pulled pork sandwich.

We passed a toy store/child care center that piqued our interest and checked it out. J may even order some Christmas gifts for her three sons she found there online.

I made them backtrack so I could quickly stroll through the Italian complex Eataly. At the entrance, I took advantage of a photo opportunity in a green, white and red painted throne. I also indulged in a small cup of absolutely decadent and delicious cioccolato gelato.

After that, we survived a cab ride arriving at our destination: Times Square. The more open spaces were blocked off with construction, but we still managed to take pictures of the scene and ourselves standing in the crowded sidewalks. Seeing this, my two girlfriends announced that they really felt like they were in New York now. I probably had that moment when I found that I was covered with croissant crumbs that morning, momentarily mesmerized by my European-style breakfast pastry, reminding me of a few I've savored in Italy. I remarked that croissants just don't do that back at home (in the suburbs).

Walking towards Macy's, we stopped in a touristy store for some I heart New York merchandise. They purchased gifts while I picked up some postcards. We browsed the shoe department at Macy's. I even tried on the pair of tall black boots by Nine West that I've had on my wishlist. Then, we ate slices of New York-style pizza at the counter of a random corner place on the way back to the bus stop. Unable to find a nearby bakery for a slice of layer cake or a cupcake for the birthday girl, we settled for a large food/convenience store that sold some baked goods from neighborhood places. Think the very New York black-and-white cookie. I bought a huge chocolate chip cookie half dipped in chocolate. I enjoyed a couple of bites on the bus ride back (but mainly it was a very nice accompaniment to my coffee the next morning for breakfast, still soft).

We liked the "New Yorker" sign. 
This was taken just outside the store where we bought those baked goods.

Even though we were very tired, J and C still stopped at my apartment so we could toast J's 30th birthday with flutes of champagne.

We basically followed my itinerary, produced from hours of (happy) research. I didn't expect this, but this was my friends' exciting first time in the city and they happened to look to me as tour guide. Since I am a traveler, I was happy to both formulate a plan that tended towards the girly and the touristy and figure out and lead the way. Furthermore, I enjoy being a good gift-giver and it was nice that I could use my talent to make my friend's big birthday celebration memorable. I probably did a pretty good job. All of us had fun. ...and can hardly wait to go back!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Style Sunday: Manicure in Manhattan

As part of my friend's girly 30th birthday trip to New York last Monday, we indulged in manicures at Fresh Spa.

Check out mine...

I chose the color "Dutch Tulips" by OPI ...and it's perfect. I can't get over how amazing they look! 

Here's a photo I found through a Google image search...

A dark pink like this is very me.

Usually my nails are simply neatly trimmed and filed, unlike my toenails which have always been polished over decades and are treated to a salon pedicure about once a season over the last couple years. I do not believe that I've had a color painted on my fingernails for years. I figure that I use my nails as tools so any lacquer would likely chip. Perfectionist that I am, perhaps I'm unsure about a color or look for them. I'm glad that I tried something different. I'm not sure that I can go back to naked nails anymore! I'll have to practice at home because I have to budget for a professional pedicure every once in a long while now!

Even though I am very work-to-live and try not to think about my job when I'm off, it's nice to point out rental application requirements (as a Leasing Consultant) with a beautifully manicured finger.

Furthermore, I feel very feminine with my nails looking so nice. I'm actively looking for ways to embrace my femininity.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Style Sunday: My Find from Antiquing

Kate of Une Vie Chic and I visited an antique mall last Monday afternoon. My find was this mother-of-pearl on silver bangle...

I'm wearing this lovely bangle to go with my navy boat-neck 3/4-sleeve tee with thin white horizontal stripes today.

I love mother-of-pearl; white is a go-to color for me but it's special with a bit of iridescence. This particular piece adds to a growing mother-of-pearl jewelry collection consisting of a ring, a necklace, and many earrings so far.

As you can see, I also have a small collection of bangles. I'm into silver, but am coming around to gold.

I'm inspired by pins on Pinterest to style a few mismatched bangles and bracelets that still go together on my arm like this...


...or this...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Links I Love: World Travel

tips for solo travel [guest FlavoursHolidays posted on]
* "Why Not ... Travel Alone?" Part one and two []
* Istanbul part one and two []
* magnificent castles of Germany []
* Vienna at Christmastime []
Portland, Oregon []
* Asheville []
New Orleans []
travel on a budget in your 20s []
* "how to travel in Europe for 3 weeks" []
cost of backpacking through Europe []
* lessons from long-term world travel []
* travel, the teacher []
Foxy Oxie Supernova tours Europe []

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Links I Love: Italy

vocabulary for the market []
* gelato favorites in Rome []
* "One Perfect Day in Lucca" []
* strawberry sagra []
* food rules for visiting Americans []
* "Piazzale Michelangelo" is just one of the wonderful frequent posts from Karen []
* the best "Keep Calm and Carry On" variation []

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Links I Love: Paris: Edition #2

Explore my first edition of Parisian "Links I Love" here.

I hope you enjoy these links as much as I did...

an elopement in photos []
a photographer's ultimate guide []
* Haven in Paris rentals []
taxi tips []
* Paris By Mouth tour []
* French phrases for shopping []
life lessons learned []

Vacation Days and a Movie Review: Before Midnight

I took some of my last vacation days of the year over the past few days. Unfortunately, traveler that I am, I simply could not afford a trip this time. (At least not another so close to the daytrip to New York that is days away! My last vacation day is scheduled the day after, so I can sleep in and otherwise recover!) I still managed to have a good time, a relaxing time spent reading a lot, going online and exploring all what my new Kindle and touch-screen smartphone can do, travel planning, and indulging in other simple pleasures... my morning espresso in my favorite cup and chocolate-dipped biscotti on the side.

There were a few vacation highlights... It started off well on Friday night, with dinner out, to one of the best restaurants in town, with my parents and brother to celebrate my mom's birthday. We had fun plus the special I tried was delicious! On Monday afternoon, Kate of Une Vie Chic and I had coffee at my favorite coffee shop, did a little antique shopping and overall indulged in some girl time. (Read about my find from antiquing on this Sunday's style post.) I've been watching How I Met Your Mother online on Tuesday morning since I don't have a TV to catch it Monday night. I also accomplished a lot of what I've been procrastinating about lately during Tuesday morning, but I'd rather write about the things I want to do than those I have to do.

I spontaneously watched a highly anticipated movie Tuesday evening. (I love my Kindle!) It was the one I tried to drive to in June when my car first started breaking down. It's Before Midnight, which is the third and final chapter of a trilogy, following the films entitled Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Have you seen these?

In Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine meet on a train and decide to get off in Vienna together. The movie is just them walking around the city talking, falling in love. At the end, they decide to meet there in six months. I felt sure that they'd meet! You find out in the next installment, Before Sunset, that they didn't. Jesse wrote a book about it years later and while promoting his book in Paris, they meet again and stroll around Paris and end up at her apartment instead of Jesse heading for the airport. He's married and has a son back in America. The viewer finds out in last part of the trilogy, Before Midnight, that they stayed together and have twin girls. They have a lot of issues in their relationship like where they live, if they're close in geography to his son, her feminist nature being forced into a submissive role of wife and mother. You get a peak in at their lives as they stroll around a Greek town and in a hotel room their friends treated them to.

I thought the third one would be incredible ...and it was. This one offers something different than the other two charming love stories because of its reality, it's about relationships. Their major fight scene even made me feel uncomfortable, despite some comic relief, but that's just how affecting these movies are... how intensely the characters are developed and how wonderful Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy perform. You root for them. I really think these two (...fictional characters...) will stay together! The movie's not always so dramatic as I have hinted, it's hilarious too. These movies are not for everyone; they're all dialogue! And the third contains a lot of conflict which I do not like myself! Still, it kept my interest and overall, I really enjoyed the series. Grazie to B who introduced me to Before Sunrise in college.

I still have tomorrow off before I return to work on Thursday! ;)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My 30th Birthday Wish List

My 30th birthday is exactly 6 months away from today and I already know what I want. (Not expecting these as gifts from others, I need to start budgeting for these 6 items now!) And so, without further ado, this is my ultimate 30th birthday wish list revealed...

1. A birthday trip to Paris

2. A red dress for my birthday celebration

3. Real diamond stud earrings

4. The perfect little black clutch

Kenneth Cole New York Clutch on ebay
I may need a little more room than this one offers. For sleek design, I like Kenneth Cole New York,
but also the Hobo brand; meet Deanna and Sadie.
(I just found out about their Annapolis, Maryland location here.)

5. A metal bed with some scrollwork and topped with finials

I wrote about this specific one in this post.

6. A carved dark wooden screen

I posted about this particular one previously.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Style Sunday: 3 Desired Additions to my Fall and/or Winter Wardrobes

I so want the following pieces...

I love a rich red, the color of Chianti, so I was happy to learn that "Shades of Red" is a new trend featured at The Limited. Check it out here. I have yet to see these pieces in person, but am hoping this sweater will work out...

I love a v-neck or crossover neckline. One more sweater would be a really nice addition to my winter capsule wardrobe. Hopefully this sweater will help make my winter merry and bright!

I am still (impatiently) waiting for this shirt from H&M to become available...

This is a modern take on the French Breton Shirt. I am still reading so many Francophile books. I just finished The French Twist, and have moved onto Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, which I feel is so often quoted in all those other titles. Inspired by my literature, I would love to try on this top. The black stripes would fit into my capsule wardrobe much more than classic navy ones.

I've wanted a sleek black knee-high skinny-heeled boot for awhile now. I would like to try on this pair...

A way to stay warm in the chilly autumn weather, I could get more use out of my skirts if I could pair one with these!

[edit: I purchased the sweater and boots since publishing this post.]

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bel Far Niente

Bel far niente means "the beauty of doing nothing" in Italian.

This was one of my pins this weekend.

I had a particularly tough week at work last week, so much so that I actually didn't plan anything for this weekend. Now that I am posting more here, I did want to do something, perhaps spend time out with a friend and then write about the experience. I ended up doing not much of anything ...and it turned out to be perfect, just what I truly needed.

After work on Saturday, I walked three blocks to a nearby nail salon and indulged in a professional pedicure. My toenails are now painted OPI Red. Walking back to my place, I felt renewed already. It hit the spot. After a quick dinner, I caught up with an old friend texting that night. Having taken a sleep aid, I got some much needed rest.

I didn't get ready for my day on Sunday until the early afternoon! Usually I am ready, having flat ironed my hair and all, by 8:25 Tuesday through Saturday and around the same time or just a little bit later on my days off. I tried to push my feelings of guilt away, especially since I only sleep in a couple times a year anymore. (I happen to be an insomniac and I find that habits help. Plus, I want to look presentable enough to fully seize every single day.) Anyway, I enjoyed a scone, orange juice and espresso breakfast. I pretty much relished staying in bed or bumming about my apartment in my silky robe, reading books on my Kindle, pinning on Pinterest and spending some more time online.

Like I said, I did eventually get ready for the day and get some chores done as usual. For dinner, I took advantage of a deal at Domino's, ordered a pizza and wings (that I can divide up into three meals) and had it delivered. A friend/neighbor spontaneously dropped by and we talked for just a little bit. Since I was well rested on Sunday, I easily stayed up to almost 3 AM reading an entire book from start to finish on my Kindle. That was my second romance novel in a row that weekend. Just Like Jack followed A Taste of Romance; both quick reads interrupted my current read of the more dense book The French Twist.

Needless to say, I overslept this (Monday) morning as well. As soon as I awakened, I had my two daily cups of espresso, got ready and started doing what I needed to do, namely laundry for the week. Due to my parents' washer being repaired today, I did my wash at a laundromat and then while my clothes were drying at my mom's, watched old episodes of Boy Meets World, which I still think is a good TV show.

I am glad that I listened to my whims and took it easy this weekend. I needed to recharge. It was a thing of beauty and worth noting.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Style Sunday: Balcony Chairs: Before and After

My pair of balcony chairs were green when purchased ...and I decided I would change that.


I spray painted them walnut, a dark brownish black.


A detail

I love my balcony...