Rome: that’s amore!

The other day my son asked me why I didn’t write anything about our trip to Rome back in October. He said he thinks of these posts as a personal history book of our vacations and he was looking forward to reading it. Well, if that wasn’t motivation enough to sit down and document the trip, I don’t know what would be. Sometimes when you’re raising teenagers it’s hard to know if you’re reaching them or if they even like you anymore. You’ve got to take these moments as they come. He liked this trip! He likes me! I’m going to write about it. 

My daughter is spending her first semester at Northeastern University studying abroad and I have to say college ain’t like it used to be. She’s out there drinking prosecco and eating gourmet meals when back in the day I was downing 50 cent drafts at the Sunset Room and was excited about the 7 kinds of (dry) cereal I could get in the dining hall. In fact, a recent impromptu gathering of old college friends had us waxing nostalgic about ramen noodles and warm Buds smuggled into dank triple-double dorm rooms under the cover of darkness and oversized Champion sweatshirts. 

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live a little vicariously through a modern-day college girl and also sort of wanted to experience first hand what our hard-earned 529 was funding so we went for a quick visit this past fall. Here’s what we did:

The first thing I did was take this picture because I felt like it was an accurate enough capture of the entire vibe in Rome. So actually this blog post could be just one image with a simple caption but I do tend to be a bit long winded, so never mind. I’ll keep going.
Even on my best days I’m not really sure what I’m taking pictures of. I’m not good at research plus I have a terrible memory and this was months ago. All I know is I loved all of these ancient buildings. Rome has PLENTY of those. Who could remember all of them? If it’s you, don’t tell me because then I’ll have to be embarrassed.
In any event it would be super embarrassing if I didn’t know this was Trevi Fountain. Trevi Fountain is beautiful and there were a lot of people there. A LOT of people.
On our first day we were really jet lagged and because we couldn’t check into our AirBnB for hours and hours and more very hot hours (inserting a bit of drama for effect) we were looking for a shady spot to rest our weary bones. We found this hidden courtyard behind an old church (there are lots of old churches) and it was a perfect spot for a tiny catnap.
And speaking of cats, this is the Roman Cat Sanctuary or Cat City. It’s not really a cat sanctuary but it’s overrun by cats so everyone calls it that, according to my daughter, the local. Also still floored by these ancient ruins like this that exist on the edge of of roundabout, next to a McDonalds. So crazy.
And this is the Pantheon by night! See I know this one too. I’m amazed we stayed up late enough to see this in the dark, but no one goes to bed before 2:00 am in Rome, so you just gotta go with the flow, even if you haven’t slept in 36 hours.
Time to BeReal! (isn’t is always, though?) Also this restaurant was so good — the spaghetti vongole was amazing. I don’t normally take pictures of food, but in this place I should have. You’ll just have to imagine how good it was and admire my cute kids. Aren’t they so cute?
Day 2 we started at Piazza Navona (getting so good at these landmarks!) Doesn’t she look right at home here? I think this was the moment I wondered why the heck I didn’t study abroad when I was in college and also started to worry that she might not ever want to come back to Boston.
She missed her brother though, I can tell (and he missed her). For real.
I did take a picture of this coffee but I’m not sure why. It wasn’t even that memorable, aside from the fact that all coffee in Rome is pretty great.
I’d say that there was a role reversal going on here and she was taking the lead and showing us around the city for a change, but actually I’m terrible with directions and she’s been leading the way in new cities for years. She pretends to be exasperated by the fact that I can’t read a map but she probably thinks it’s super cute. Wouldn’t you think it was super cute if your travel companion kept getting you lost?
One thing we learned pretty quickly is that it’s ALWAYS Spritz Time in Rome. 
In Rome you’re either drinking an Aperol Spritz or drinking coffee, or eating pizza or eating pasta or walking to do any of those four things.
Or you’re visiting some super famous landmark that’s been around for thousands of years. Here we are at the Spanish Steps after finishing lunch which consisted of pizza and or pasta, a Spritz and coffee. 
Can I be honest here? I’m not sure what the big deal is about these steps. They are supposed to be the most famous steps in the world. But why? I must be missing something. They just seemed like steps to me.
A palm tree! I was surprised by how many palm trees there were in Rome. I probably shouldn’t have been but I was (lack of research, etc.)
Night 2 the kids took us out on the town. Weird but good. Really, really good. It’s a great feeling to see your kids happy and meet the people that make them happy. My son looks like he’s in college too but he’s only 14. Which reminds me, one night we were at a restaurant and the waiter told us that only the men could order the steak because it was man food. This was disturbing because 1) he thought my son was a man and because 2) omg.
The girls live in Trastevere which is an adorable neighborhood with a million amazing restaurants, a jillion hip bars, and a few cute shops (eating and drinking are definitely a priority). With all of these distractions it’s a miracle they even go to class. Tell me they go to class. Please.
If you know me, or if you’ve been reading for a while you know one thing I always do when I’m somewhere new is wake up annoyingly early and take a long run. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land and see things you might otherwise miss. One morning I ran up and down the banks of the Tiber. A lot of it is covered with graffiti and trash but this particular view struck me as very poignant for some reason. The curve of the river and the lady in her long dress. Something about it reminded me of my 9th grade ancient civilization textbook. Running along the Tiber! When I was 14 I would never have believed that I’d ever be doing that. 
I also ran down some cobblestone streets trying to find my way back to the AirBnB. Not so easy actually. But beautiful! 
And this is the street we stayed on (I found it!) and here is some of the graffiti I mentioned. I’m actually surprised that more of these photos don’t feature graffiti because the city is 90% covered in it. It adds something. Charm might be the wrong word. Character? Yes, it adds character. 
Here’s another beautiful street that I’m including because I really like this picture- the bicycle, the little Knome, the lack of graffiti.  
Here’s a question I’ve always wondered. Is a club where you go to pick up people a meat market or a meet market? I always thought it was meat market, but after seeing this I’m pretty sure I’m wrong. 
Here’s a not particularly good photo of the Vatican, but it’s the only one I’ve got. We went but we didn’t see the Pope OR the Pope Mobile. Too bad. Maybe we should have waited a little longer. That Pope Mobile is so darn cute. 
These guys are really hoping for an iPhone 14 Pro for Christmas. 
And here’s a picture of two dogs because I love dogs. The one lying on the road belonged to the local gelato shop and I think he honestly lives the best life ever. He just prowls around waiting for people who aren’t eating their gelato fast enough to drip some melty bits on the ground. Then he licks it off the cobblestones that probably 4 million people walked on and has absolutely no regrets about it. Then he shamelessly rolls over and demands (and gets!) some belly rubs. I envy him.
These guys again? Yep, sorry. I just really, really like these guys.
Here’s a picture of Julius Caesar. Or a statue of him anyway. Because it’s Rome and well, you know the story.
What is this place? Let’s google it.
Just kidding! We all knew it was the Colosseum. Pretty impressive, right? Very Roman if you ask me.
The Forum. I was really blown away by this site. The fact that this still exists, thousands of years later is honestly just amazing and so powerful. It really makes you think about just how very small we are, and what a teeny, tiny role we have in history. The people who strolled around here in their togas and sandals would never ever in a million years believe how the world is today. They didn’t even know about pizza! But yet, their mark remains… 
I should have added this picture after the Vatican picture but these calendars were everywhere and ironically (or purposefully) not found in Vatican City. I think it’s probably the strangest and therefore most awesome souvenir I’ve ever come across. There is just something so very, very wrong about a sexy priest pinup calendar. Or is it me? I dunno. I felt like it would be a sin to buy one (or NOT buy one). Which was it for me? I’ll never tell…
Ah to be young and beautiful and living in Rome. I mean you DO want your kids to have it better than you did, but we may have overdone it here, just a tad. It leads me to wonder what my son’s first year of college is going to be like. He’ll probably get to pay a visit to the moon or something. 
Normally the line for the Pantheon was wrapped around a few blocks so early on we decided to simply admire it from the outside. But one morning the square was empty and no one was waiting so we went in so here it is! I don’t have a lot to say about it except, when in Rome…
I could go on and on, but alas all good things must come to an end. Rome is chaotic and beautiful and has a life all its own– full of sights and sounds and people, and more people, It was really fantastic to experience it through the eyes of someone just beginning to find her place in the world, who is suddenly independent and navigating outside the comfortable confines of our family home. It was a fun trip for us and an amazing experience for her and I have to wonder, what will she take away from this, where will she go next, and can we tag along?  

Halló Iceland!

Oh! hello there… it’s been a minute hasn’t it? When we last left off we’d just returned from a fabulous week in Joshua Tree. That was back in the blissfully ignorant “right before everything went haywire” time which was late February 2020. Seems like a million years and a different lifetime ago, but I don’t have to tell you that. We’ve been through a lot since then, and I don’t have to tell you that either. Even if we’ll never get back to the way things “used to be” the world is still full of beauty and after all the ugliness we’ve endured recently I want to shout that from the rooftops. So, I’m back with my first travel post in 17 months. I’m a little rusty, but bear with me because I’m here to tell you about Iceland, which is probably one of the most magical places on the entire planet. Notice I said probably, because you never know ’til you’ve been everywhere and I haven’t been everywhere YET. But in any event Iceland has got to be pretty darn close to the top. Here’s how we spent our time in the land of fire and ice…

Reykjavik The weather in Iceland is pretty grey, but it’s still a very colorful country. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. It’s also impressively progressive, with the first openly LGBTQ government leader. No glass ceiling here either, as she also happens to be a woman. That’s probably why it’s such a well run country… just sayin’ There are like a million and forty nine (give or take) churches in Iceland, but Hallgrimskirkja is probably the tallest and most impressive. I say probably, because maybe I missed a church or two and they could have been better. You just never know.Also, it’s not true that the only thing you can find to eat in Iceland is either a type of fish, or something smoked, or some type of smoked fish. There are a lot of other options, like the bread which is amazing and kleiner which is like a donut but way better. With kleiner in hand, you’re ready to explore…This was my Wes Anderson moment. I’m always looking for Wes Anderson moments because they make me happy. There are more than 100 public art installations in Reykjavik, which is pretty cool for such a small city. This is Þúfa, and we loved it, but were worried about the person who has to cut the grass.Every building seems to be a work of art in its own right.And the interiors are just as interesting and generally very cozy (probably on account of all the rain). This is The Icelandic Bar,  which we picked because we thought there was an off chance they’d have tasty traditional Icelandic food. Spoiler alert: we were right! You don’t have to go traditional if you eat here though because there are lots of other menu items like burgers and salad and other stuff that’s not Icelandic, but if you don’t have the salmon dog you’re probably missing out. Also, you won’t be able to say you had a salmon dog.


Joshua Tree

We’re back from a magical week in the California desert and I’m having a hard time facing reality. I’ve been to lots of places all over the world — and I’ve loved so many of them — but I have never felt about a place like I feel about Joshua Tree and the surrounding area. I can’t begin to put into words why I think it’s so special or why the trip was so amazing, so I’m going to turn to pictures to help. You might as well settle in for a nice long read, because if a picture is worth a thousand words, you’re gonna be here til next week.

The first thing you need to do when you go to Joshua Tree is secure an amazing homestead. We stayed at Rancho Morongo and I loved it so much I wrote an entire post about it, which you can read here. Be sure to check that out so you can experience the full magic of this desert oasis.
But in the meantime here’s a sneak peak. This is where I liked to sit after a day of hiking and exploring to read or catch up on Fleabag, which is my new favorite t.v. indulgence.
When you’re in the desert you should rise with the sun because you really, really, really don’t want to miss a thing.
No need to rush though–hang around a little because you ARE on vacation and you don’t want to over exert yourself. This is a good spot for coffee and morning reflection.
But don’t linger TOO long. Put on your favorite “I look cute in the desert” outfit and head out. Joshua Tree awaits!
Before you enter the park, if you’re coming from the town of Joshua Tree, stop here for supplies. Because as the sign indicates, you can get supplies here. You can also get LOTS of other useless crap that you don’t need like ceramic cactuses, rubber rattle snakes, tie-dyed bandanas and dream catchers. But for the sake of this post, let’s pretend it’s just an old fashioned supply store with real supplies like beef jerky and solar powered flashlights. It’s better that way.
Here’s a small sampling of what you’ll see when you get to the park.
Also this. There’s an entire cactus garden somewhere in Joshua Tree but we didn’t make it there. This is a mini cactus garden and I’m ok with just seeing that. Are you ok with just seeing that?
Rocks on rocks on rocks, with crazy trees on rocks, and sand and rocks and crazy trees. And rocks. It sounds weird but it’s not. Ok, it is weird. But in a wonderful way. Wonderfully weird.
Long story short, these rocks were formed millions of years ago by huge pools of magma that pushed sedentary rock layers up against each other that later cooled and eroded. Whenever I say the word “magma” I see Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. Does this happen to anyone else or is it just me?
Magma, baby. Magma.
It’s hot in the desert, even in February. Seek shade when you can.  Joshua trees are amazing to look at but not so great for protecting you from scorching rays. But it’s ok- form over function is kind of my thing.
And what a form it is! If we want to get all existential we can say these trees are a pretty good representation of  life in general. That is to say beautifully flawed.
And guess what? If you’re feeling like your beauty is flawed, you can get a makeover in the town of Joshua Tree. My grandmother had one of these hair dryers in her basement. I’m not telling you why or what my cousins and I did with it.
This place really is funky town, and I mean that in the best way possible.
It’s very Mad Max, but also cheerful.
You can hang here with some really cool cats. Just make sure to keep your head about you…
We just chillin’ and waitin’ for Coachella and Burning Man to happen.
While you wait, you can visit the world famous crochet museum. It’s definitely world famous. It says so right on the sign.
This museum is the kind of museum that makes you happy just by existing.
I mean, come on. How cute is this?
I don’t even know why I took a picture of this so I have nothing to say about it. But it does add a certain je ne sais quoi doesn’t? I don’t know…
But I know why I took a picture of this and that’s because there are a lot of people I’d like to sit right down in that chair until their soul has a chance to find them again. I won’t get too political but ya’ll know who I’m talking about and all of them have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Phew! A saloon. No dusty cowboy town is complete without a watering hole that serves cold beer (and/or mimosas?) I’m gonna be honest right here and tell you we didn’t have much luck in the food department on this trip, but that’s because we are terrible at planning in advance and didn’t make reservations anywhere on what we didn’t know was one of the busiest weeks of the year. We waited a lot. But lucky for us everyone in these parts serves beer and/or mimosas. The beers here were extra tall, extra cold and tasted extra good.
Hey- that’s our gang and that’s a pretty cool bus conversion. But don’t worry we didn’t buy it. We didn’t have THAT many beers. Also it wasn’t for sale (phew).
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…I really wanted to take a bath in this but it never happened.
I did spend a lot of time with these guys though. Our favorite hour together was just before sunset.
What is it about the golden hour? It’s seriously magic no matter where you are, but especially in spots like this. The danger of finding a really great place to stay on your vacation is that you might be temped to spend all your time there.
But then you’d miss out on so much…
Like Pioneer Town! This is an old movie set turned “real” town. Well, it’s supposedly a real town but we were kind of skeptical.
I mean for one, this wasn’t a bank and that wasn’t a bath house. Like, I didn’t see one single person walking around in a towel.
Also all of the stores seemed to be selling things like decorative soap and magnets and t-shirts. Which is kind of a red flag but ok, let’s pretend for the sake of pretending. My daughter who is maybe a teeny bit cynical from time to time pointed out that it felt like we were at Disney World or Universal Studios. Which actually it did. So maybe she’s not cynical, just observant. And also, it WAS a movie set. Which reminds me to ask- did you guys see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and if so do you think it was filmed here? I kept expecting to run into Leo or Brad, but sadly that didn’t happen.
The best thing about Pioneer Town is that it’s home to Pappy and Harriet’s which is THE place to go for music and spirits and food in the high desert. Except that if you want food you might have to wait 3 hours because not only is it THE place to go, it is apparently THE ONLY place to go (except this really great hole in the wall Mexican place in Yucca Valley which I didn’t take pictures of and don’t remember the name but highly recommend). I think every single person in the Mojave desert was at Pappy and Harriet’s when we were. We gave up waiting to eat after 2 1/2 hours, but luckily it wasn’t wasted time.
Because there was live music and cold beer and do you really need anything else in life?
Um yeah you do. You need cactuses (cacti?)
Luckily there’s Cactus Mart for all your cactus needs.
Mamas don’t let your cacti grow up to be pricks.
Gav, stand here, hold this and pretend your mom isn’t wicked immature.
Where we gonna go next? The moon seems possible. Anything seems possible after a few days of totally disconnecting from all the crazy shit happening in the world.
I tell you what though. We weren’t going anywhere without first buying a few cactuses (cacti?) to bring home. We got these lil guys because parting with the desert is such sweet sorrow. They’re now sitting on my kitchen window sill and they’re still alive! I don’t think you can kill a cactus very easily, but if you can I’ll probably be the one to do it. I try so hard to have a green thumb, but I’m so much better with cut flowers. Probably because they’re already dead.
Even if you spend way too much time embarrassing your kids at Cactus Mart, you can’t forget to leave time for a sunset hike. And Eureka Peak is a perfect place to do that.
Here it really is just is you and your shadow…
And shadowy trees.
Another golden hour, same golden boy.
But these ARE the days we dream about, when sunlight paints us gold.
I honestly cannot describe in words the beauty of this place and the magic you feel as you watch the sun drop down behind the distant mountains….
everything awash in this really pretty light…
and then the sky turns all shades of brilliant orange and pink and well, honestly it’s an image — and a feeling — that will stay with me always. Because this isn’t an ordinary place….
Even after the sun sets, the desert brings the magic.
The sound of silence…
and the overwhelming beauty of an unspoiled star filled sky. Obviously, it’s nice to have somewhere cozy to retreat to, but I’d totally sleep outside with nothing between me and the stars except a sleeping bag. Actually that’s a lie because now that I think about it: rattle snakes. I don’t think I’d like getting bit by a rattler or eaten by a coyote. Plus I do like a comfy bed and the beds at Rancho Morongo are EXTRA comfy so would be a shame really to not take advantage of that.
As temping as it is to spend every waking and (indoor) sleeping moment in the desert, the lush green allure of nearby Palm Springs and its own special kind of magic is too compelling to ignore. Especially because the special kind of magic you find there is mid century modern magic, which is an extra good kind of magic. You can read about our mod Palm Springs adventure here.
That was fun! Now follow me to Palm Springs

This was the type of trip that stays with you long after all the suitcases are put away and the laundry is done. It’s the type of trip your mind drifts back to  during your Monday afternoon team meeting, and when you’re stuck in Wednesday morning traffic. It’s the type of trip you wish you could relive over and over, but know you probably won’t. So what you need to do is appreciate the fact that you got to live the experience in the first place and hold on to the memories deep in your heart forever. Also, print out some of those pictures and put them on your fridge and tell yourself you ARE going back someday, because dreaming is good and you should never stop dreaming.


Decor Travel

Desert Dream: Rancho Morongo

Guys! We found it! The perfect Airbnb rental. I’m not kidding. Rancho Morongo is the epitome of desert chic– a lovingly renovated abode situated on a private lot with breathtaking views. It stole my heart the second we pulled up. It’s a beautiful blend of laid back luxury and rustic charm. And it has a ton of cactuses. Cacti? Either way, there are a lot of them. And they’re really cool. In fact everything about Kelly’s place is really cool. Being there made me feel like I should be walking around in a cowboy hat wrapped in a gently worn woolen blanket holding a snifter of really expensive whiskey plus an earmarked version of collected works by Ginsberg or Kerouac. Being there made me want to be a cooler version of me. Or maybe by being there I WAS a cooler version of me?

Anywho, this house in REALITY was a damn near perfect spot to call home while we explored Joshua Tree, Palm Springs and Palm Desert. It is truly a magical oasis and if you’re ever looking for a place to stay in the California desert I’d say don’t miss this one. Oh, and bring me with you because I’m ready to go back. I’ll bring the whiskey. And a cowboy hat.









See? I told you it was magical. If you want to read about what we did when we weren’t lounging around pretending to be way more fabulous than we actually are, check out my posts about Joshua Tree and Palm Springs.  And, remember if you’re planning a trip to Rancho Morongo, I look good wrapped in wool.




California Dreamin’ in Palm Springs

We went to Palm Springs. It was fabulous. It was also Modernism Week. And if you love mid-century design as much as I do, you’d understand what a happy accident that was. Yay for happy accidents and yay for palm trees, high balls, Herman Miller and Trina Turk.

I think I could be very happy here.
or here.
Yep. Here too. I really dig mid-century modern architecture and you just know there’s a pool with a pink flamingo floatie in the backyard. I also dig pink flamingo floaties. And pools.
Lifestyles of the not yet rich and probably won’t be famous. At least I hope not. Fame ruins you.
This is Albert Frey’s Cree House. Since it was Modernism Week we got to take a tour of it.
It’s immaculately preserved.
The house was designed to seemlessly integrate with its surroundings.
And the interior was planned to offer a sense of protection from the elements, but also a connection to nature.
I love all this stuff. I think I was born a couple generations too late. Except I would have hated being a housewife, and having to make tuna casserole for dinner, and all the other creepy stuff women had to do back then like iron their husband’s undershirts and keep their children clean and quiet. I would have liked the a-line dresses though, and the pedal pushers. And the knick knacks.
It’s funny how all this stuff is back in style. I would totally buy this at Home Goods for $19.99.
Can you find this on Wayfair? Just kidding. I feel really terrible even joking about that. This is all legit Herman Miller furniture, not knock off Herman Miller assembly required furniture (which I may or may not have quite a few pieces of).
Good design makes me extraordinarily happy. The fact that I can only afford cheap knock off versions makes me extraordinarily sad. Maybe I want my son to become famous after all. Who cares if he’s ruined? I’ll finally be able to own a real life Eames.
The whole downtown is a study in good design.
And you can find all kinds of gently loved second hand treasures. That chip and dip bowl is speaking to me. And it’s saying: you don’t have an extra $500 to spend on me so don’t even think about it. That ashtray over there is only $200. Why don’t you take up smoking so you’ll have a reason to buy it?
There are also lots of really well curated stores like this one. I liked this one. I liked it a lot.
It’s called Thick as Thieves, and like the sign says you can follow them on Instagram. Like me. I follow them on Instagram. Because if someone tells me to follow them on Instagram, I probably will. Unless their profile is stupid. Then I won’t. But don’t worry, Their profile isn’t stupid. It’s well curated. Just like the store.
I keep thinking that sign up there says Ralph L Ferro, but it doesn’t. My maiden name is Ferro, so it would have been cool if it did. But it doesn’t. I thought about buying it anyway but what would I do with it? What would be the point? In any event, this is a lovely little vignette, isn’t it?
There are also some not so well curated stores where you can try on all kinds of hats. This is especially helpful if you’re young and you’re not yet sure what kind of hat you should be.  I tried to turn this into some kind of metaphor/teaching moment but that didn’t fly. Maybe because I did it while wearing a plastic viking hat with fake blond pigtail braids?
God Palm Springs. You just keep bringing it!
Why you gotta be so cool?
We went here for dinner. If you’re in Palm Springs, you could also go here for dinner.
What’s that movie that’s set in a mid century style hotel in the desert where literally almost everyone gets shot? It’s a Jon Hamm movie. You know the movie I’m talking about?
Bad Times at the El Royal! This place was like that. Except with good times and happy people. Plus you could play groovy records and eat good food. And not get shot.
Palm Springs is beautiful at night. Full disclosure, I almost got hit by a car while taking this picture. It was worth it though. wasn’t it? Because look at that color!! But even still I’m glad I didn’t end up in the hospital. Or dead. Because that would have ruined the whole trip.
Isn’t vacation really all about liquor and foods? It’s just that much better wrapped in a mid century modern package.
If you have time, you should drive on over to Palm Desert for more retro fun.
This is the Sands Hotel and I would totally stay here some day.
Pink stripes and palm trees. Need I say more? I may love the simple things in life, but I’m not gonna pretend I don’t enjoy the finer things too.
That’s why we decided to spend a lazy afternoon eating lunch here, at the hotel restaurant.
The Pink Cabana is a perfect spot to relax over a few desert mojitos and charcuterie and just reflect on how good life can be. The more mojitos you have, the easier that is to do.
But drinking mojitos at lunch and then shopping at a store that you read about in Vogue can be really dangerous. Even though it’s a consignment shop. It’s not like Savers so you can get into big trouble.
See what I mean? I didn’t buy anything but only because I couldn’t think of anywhere that I’d wear a silk caftan. But I wish I had one now, because why can’t you just be fabulous no matter where you are?
Anyway, dreaming is free and a good place to do lots of dreaming is in Palm Springs, either wearing a silk caftan or not. And, an even better place to dream is Joshua Tree, which is just 25 minutes by car but a world away. You can read about that here.
Family Travel



The Other Side of the Bridge: Brooklyn

I quit my job. Those words are both liberating and terrifying to me right now. They’re also true. I’ve mentioned recently that I took a new role in New York City that didn’t quite turn out the way I’d expected or hoped. After much soul searching (and a bit of brow beating), I decided I just needed to walk away, and chalk it up as an “experience”. I refuse to call it a “failure” because if I allow myself to do that, then I won’t take anything good away from it. And anyway, everything you choose to do in life ends up being a valuable lesson no matter how it turns out. I’ll take a lot away from my time in NYC and I’ll use it to make more thoughtful decisions in the future. I will choose wisely. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let’s talk about Brooklyn. During this totally chaotic time, I found a second home in Brooklyn–a place that truly felt like a shelter from the storm– and I will hold a special place in my heart for it always. I have to apologize in advance for not being able to include ALL the fantastic BK neighborhoods and gems, but if I did you’d be reading this post all day and ain’t nobody got time for that (not even me, in my current unemployed state). So, here are a few tidbits and highlights from the borough across the bridge…

No matter how many times I cross the Brooklyn Bridge it still manages to stop me short. I’m not sure if it’s the history, the symbolism, the beauty, the fact that its up hill both ways or what… but it leaves me breathless.
It truly feels like a gateway to Manhattan and an escape route all at the same time. Except from like 9:00 am to 6:00 pm when there are so many people on the bridge that imminent collapse seems possible and walking more than a snails pace without someones elbow in your face is a total impossibility.
But you have to do it anyway…
If you turn left off the bridge when you get to Brooklyn you’ll find yourself in DUMBO. Not like the elephant, which is confusing since a lot of the street art here revolves around elephants. But no–it’s Down Under the Manhattan Bridge, because we’re right near that other bridge, the one no one cares about.
The Manhattan Bridge is almost as great at the Brooklyn Bridge but gets zero hype. You can even walk over it and everything. It’s touted as the “more practical” way to walk or bike to Brooklyn. Maybe that’s the problem. Who the heck wants to be practical?
There are lots of things you can do in DUMBO, but not at 5:30 am which is when I’m usually there. You can walk your dog, or run and that’s it. I don’t have a dog so I run. But if you go during normal waking hours there are coffee shops, restaurants and a West Elm, which actually originated in Brooklyn –didya know that?
On Sundays there’s a Flea Market in DUMBO and it’s awesome. But here’s a tip- do NOT go on a blustery, cold day. It takes ALL the fun out if it, I’m telling you. You’ll be so distracted by your watering eyes, your chattering teeth and the numbness in your toes that you won’t want to stop for a second to check out any of the cool shit being offered. Plus your fingers will be so cold they won’t be able to pull the money out of your wallet that you need to buy any of it, so it’s totally pointless.
Look at all the cool shit! You totally want to go on a day where you can leisurely browse…
But, if you don’t want to listen to me and you do go on a cold and blustery day, you can warm up after with ramen at Menya Jiro, which has decent ramen, a cozy dining room and best of all is within walking distance (ish).
Brooklyn is a great place to live, work and create. Or maybe just live and create. Who wants to work? Not me (clearly).
And the living is good if you can afford one of these brownstones. This guy can afford one of these brownstones. I’m going to go out on a limb and wager that I probably cannot afford one of these on my new $0/year salary.
And anyway, everyone loves everyone in Brooklyn whether they live in a stately Brownstone or a hip loft of one of those other types of regular apartments that no one talks about when referring to Brooklyn.
And probably everyone loves ice-cream in Brooklyn. This install at the Brooklyn Museum currently greets you when you enter and then you don’t need to see anything else really. You just need to go to the cafe and buy ice cream (except they don’t have ice cream).
But really you should do more while you’re there. This is such a great museum and see I told you that everyone loves everyone in Brooklyn.
If you go right now you can see the Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion exhibit. It’s out of this world.
Cardin is a fascinating person… so much more than a designer. I should have taken more pictures, but you’ll just have to go see for yourself. See how I snuck one in that included typography though? You know how much I love typography. Also Star Trek. I mean I don’t love Star Trek, but I snuck in a picture of it.
I’m going to wear this next time I go out to dinner at the one restaurant in my tiny seaside town because I like to blend in.
Also, I’m going to bring my photographers with me.
Art in Brooklyn is not contained to museums. The houses and streets are alive with art. Like Susan Gardner‘s house on Wyckoff Street which I’m totally in love with. I would tell you all about it but this post is already long and I gave you the link to her website so check it!
I will tell you it’s a statement about our current situation here on Earth.
You know, how everyone should be treated equally but aren’t and that there’s this thing happening that some people try to deny and don’t want to take any responsibility for. But it’s real folks…
Global Warming is REAL. Get a grip, non believers. And then go glue a ton of glass, tile and ceramic on your house. Make a statement.
With all the stuff happening on they streets and in the world, it’s nice to have a place to unwind. And unwinding for me pretty consistently includes wine. Here’s a picture of Tussock Jumper wines that aren’t made BK, but you can definitely drink them in BK like I did with my friend Tracey, from the New York City Kitchen.
Drink them on a rooftop in BK. Because, why not? But don’t drink TOO much because you could end up texting your ex to say “I can’t stop thinking about you” and you know that probably won’t turn out so great.
Instead, just share some with family or friends or friends that are like family. The people pictured here are not actually friends or family of mine,  but they look really nice so next time I see them maybe I will offer them some Tussock Jumper wine and change all that.
Can we talk about Gowanus for a sec? I love Gowanus. I’m not sure why.
It’s certainly not the most beautiful part of Brooklyn, or the cleanest, or the coolest, or the anythingest. But still there’s, something about it…
I’m not kidding!
It does have the coolest cafe/bar/vegan restaurant/magazine store/record shop/listening room/dance club around and that’s Public Records. And if you’re thinking that’s a whole lot of concepts rolled into one, you are right!
But it works. First of all, the space is so damn cool. If you’re into industrial architecture, or any kind of design it will be love at first sight for you. But it’s more than that because it’s got substance–such as a great magazine selection for example. I’m a big fan of the printed word, especially when it’s beautifully packaged. It makes me sad that most magazine reading is now done in dentist offices.
You can buy records here too–records carefully curated by serious music selectors in the know... not like records you see at garage sales, at Urban Outfitters or even regular record stores. These are records you need to have even though you didn’t know you needed them, or maybe you did know and you finally found them here!
I read a recent New York Magazine article about the type of people who frequent Public Records, and it didn’t sound like me (I don’t own a bucket hat). But that’s ok, because everyone can feel comfortable here! From the knowledgeable audiophile to the novice listener and everyone in between–even the recently unemployed whose short term life plan is to spend her days lounging around reading magazines, listening to music and  drinking an unreasonable amount of coffee/tea/matcha.
The matcha here is really good, which would make it extra easy to drink an unreasonable amount of it.  Also, now that vegan food isn’t gross anymore (gross vegan food is so 2017) it’s nice to pair a good matcha with a tasty vegan apple cinnamon muffin. Or, you could come back later and eat an unreasonable amount of lots of other types of vegan food because PR has a new chef, and he definitely knows what he’s doing.
At night in the sound room amazing things happen. This photo is not representative of the amazing things that happen because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. Also in all honesty most of that stuff happens way past my bedtime. But you should totally hit the dance floor and bring your friends. You’re young- live it up.
Ok, that’s enough about Gowanus and all its charms for now. Another great neighborhood that I’ve only newly discovered is Williamsburg. I like it. I like it a lot and you can meet me here anytime.
And we’ll go find Joe, because I think I like Joe.
We can drive around with Joe in this, drinking wine and waving at people. Though maybe that’s not such a great idea. We’ll just drink the wine and skip the waving so as to avoid making trouble.
Respect the Records! You probably won’t find Dean Martin at Public Record but you’ll find him at Brooklyn Junk!
You’ll also find lots of stuff you totally don’t need but for some reason really, really want. I’m not in the market for an air conditioner but that doesn’t matter. I’m sure this one works perfectly and it’s turquoise, which is awesome. We’ll find a place for it somewhere and it would be fun bringing it back to MA on the train (I said to myself when I saw this).
Does this make you hungry? I hope not…
But if you ARE hungry, head back to Smith Street in Carroll Gardens where there is no shortage of eating and drinking spots. This is Cubana and they have good guacamole, good plantains and great ceviche.
Also sangria. Yum.
If dark and moody is more your thing though, you can hop across the street to Barely Disfigured which used to be a real live brothel but is now a bar that reminds you in no certain terms that it used to be a brothel but now it’s definitely not a brothel. Never mind the dim lighting, the fringe on the lampshades, the vintage bottles, the sexy wallpaper and the bed. Yes, the bed. But never mind. I really like this place. The drinks are amazing.
Just so you don’t think the only thing I do when I’m in Brooklyn is drink, here’s a snap of a barbershop. I didn’t go here, I’m just using it to distract you. Also, I would go here if I needed a cut and a shave, but luckily I don’t. I mean not because I don’t want to go here, but because if I had to shave I feel like that would be unfortunate. For me.
You have to remember that for the past 7 months I was working my butt off in Manhattan and only retreating to Brooklyn at night- after a day of holding back tears because of lots of stuff that no one wants to hear about and because my kids were busy growing up and I was missing it and because mean people suck. So that’s why there’s lots of booze in this post. It was a boozy time. Don’t judge. Just admire this basic street scene, ok?
Oh shoot! Just when I thought we could get off the topic of bars and booze I remembered I need to tell you about one more place and that’s because it’s my favorite of all of them. June BK –it’s a natural wine bar with a great little menu and charm to spare. Don’t skip this one!!
There is something else I do every single day and that’s read. It’s this problem I’ve had since I was maybe 6? Did I know how to read when I was six? I don’t know- I’ll have to ask my sister because she remembers everything and I remember nothing about my childhood. But I do know that I’ve always loved to read and I cannot go to sleep without reading at least a few pages of something.
When things are kind of tough it’s great to escape into other (fake) people’s problems because then you think wow- it could really be worse for me, like if I was the protagonist in this post apocalyptic saga and I was the only person left on Earth that wasn’t eating other humans to stay alive. Just kidding I don’t read books like that- I mostly read “realistic fiction” so they don’t involve canibalism (mostly) but they are always about o.p.p. and that’s good when you’re trying to escape your own p’s. Anyway, Books Are Magic and so are independent book stores that have not yet been put out of business by Amazon.
I didn’t make it to a movie, but I could have. I guess that could have been an alternative to downing cocktails in bars-that-aren’t brothels, but nah.
I did go for a lot of early morning runs, and most of them took me up Bergen Street and past The Invisible Dog Art Center and every dang time I tried not to read that, but then I did. Because it was #true.
This is one place I didn’t make it to, but I liked the Vespa, the man and the fact that this entire scene is red themed without even being planned. That pleases me (unexpected pleasures).
It also pleases me to look at Manhattan from a distance and watch as the sun sets on another day that I didn’t 100% lose my shit (I was happy with 50-70% most days). And anyway, sunsets in Brooklyn are amazing….
But the absolute best thing about Brooklyn is the people and the fact that (most of them) really do try to keep it real.
Where else would it be cool to wear dad jeans? Nowhere. Nowhere else.
There’s a lot much more I can say, but I’ll leave it here for now. I’m so glad I got to spend so much time exploring Brooklyn in a mostly sober state and I’ll be forever grateful for the many hours I spent just wandering around and soaking up the positive vibes that really do somehow permeate this borough. I know it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but there’s a lot to love here. Brooklyn, thanks for everything, you’re all right. See you sooooon!


Family Travel

Amsterdam you’re good.

A few months ago a friend was telling me how much she loved Amsterdam. She’d just returned so the magic of it was fresh in her mind, and she made it come to life for me. This was right around the time we were thinking about our summer vacation and what to do with it (always a big debate in our house) and well, it was a case of hearing the right thing at the right time. So, we went and now we’re back and I’m here to tell you it’s now my most favorite city. I know I say that every single time I go somewhere new (so if you’ve been reading for a while you’re probably rolling your eyes right now) but this time I mean it. Probably. Or possibly. Until the next place. But for now, believe me. It’s my favorite. For real.

The very first thing you should do when you get to the Netherlands is visit some windmills. Why? Because you’re in HOLLAND that’s why! The kids didn’t get it, but you do, right? When you think of Holland you think of canals, and wooden shoes, and bikes, and flowers and WINDMILLS… don’t you?
The Netherlands never brought to mind tiny butter and powdered sugar drenched pancakes, but now it forever will. Because they are really good and they make the trip to visit the windmills much more interesting for children or people who don’t care about windmills. But who are you people and why are you here then?
Windmills + Pancakes = Holland. She’s Dutch now.
And, I tried to get her to exchange those Docs for wooden shoes to complete her new image but she wasn’t having it. Don’t they look comfy though?
The next thing you need to do when you’ve had your fill of windmills and pancakes is get yo’self to Amsterdam. This is the coolest and prettiest and coolest and most interesting and coolest city ever. Really. Or, probably. At least possibly…
Right? You can’t argue with that. It does look a lot like Bruges where we were last winter, and kind of like Antwerp where we were just days before, but the VIBE is what makes it different. I swear.
And the coffee shops. This might look like a coffee shop but in Amsterdam you can’t call this a coffee shop. You can find this not-coffee-shop called Blushing near the Museum Quarter (where you can also find some museums).  You can find the other kind of coffee shops everywhere.
This is Vondelpark looking at the Rijksmuseum, which I’ll come back to later. It’s one of the museums you are supposed to NOT MISS. Just like you aren’t supposed to miss the Anne Frank house. We missed the Anne Frank house. BUT, that’s because you have to buy tickets like two years in advance and we are just terrible at planning ahead. That actually was the only disappointing thing about the trip. You’d think at some point I’d mend my ways and do some actual research, but alas… here we are.
Oh and here’s another not to miss museum that we missed because as the kids pointed out, if you’ve seen one Van Gogh, you’ve seen them all. Which, I don’t necessarily believe, but ok. It’s fine.
Here’s one we didn’t miss! I’ve found that it’s much easier to engage the kids in a museum when it’s a modern art museum. All of us decided that we LOVED this one. It was just the right size with just the right mix of exhibits.
I’m not sure I understand this, but here’s a picture of it in case you do.
The best thing about the Moco when we were there is that there was a Banksy & Street Art exhibit. I really dig street art and so this was a bonus.
Did you know that Banksy went around to a bunch of different museums–important ones like the Met, Moma, the Brooklyn Museum and the Louvre– and hung up his art among the masters to see how long they would remain on the wall before someone noticed? I think the shortest was a few hours, but the longest was like 8 days and that’s pretty cool. And funny. Funny, cool. Banksy, I like your style.
This speaks to me. There is so much I could do with this, there is so much we could all do with this. Though, on second thought maybe some of the things people want to see in the world aren’t so great… like genetically engineered food. And clones. So hmmm. nvm.
I did really like this too. This is Daniel Arsham or I mean it’s his art. It’s not actually him. That would be creepy. But also impressive. Because he’d have to stand really still for a really, really long time.
And this is David Arsham. I mean, it’s me, admiring the purpleness of David Arsham’s immersive purple experience. I’m not sure I understand this at all either. I kind of felt like I was trapped in a display of Lush bath bombs but in the moment that felt pretty cool.
This exhibit got a lot of eye rolls from the kids. Dads are so embarrassing.
I don’t know about you, but museuming makes me hungry. And I love avocados. Enter the Avocado Show. We owe this epic lunch experience to my daughter who is actually very, very good at finding cool things to do by using that thing called Google, which is useful when you do things like leave the book you bought (and never read) about Amsterdam at home.
This is what they promise.
And they actually deliver on it!
I mean, if this isn’t food porn, I don’t know what is.
The obvious thing to do after you’ve had an amazing meal is to follow it up with some light and healthy stroop waffles.
And then go shopping for cheese.
And taste all the cheese. In full disclosure we returned here more than once because free cheese is really, really hard to pass up.
And then FINALLY! I got someone to don the wooden shoes with me. This is a look. Is it a good look? Who cares! We’re in HOLLAND.
Also FLOWERS. Obviously. Sadly we weren’t there during tulip season… but that’s just a reason to come back. In the meantime, the floating flower market (Bloemenmarkt) was pretty cool.
I can’t believe I haven’t even mentioned the bikes yet! Bikes are life in Amsterdam. They are everywhere and come at you from every direction. It’s a little nutty. But also a little awesome.
Because of that bike culture, you don’t really need a car in Amsterdam, but when it comes to this adorable Fiat is it really a matter of need?
On the other hand, it might be useful to have that cute little Fiat because how the heck do you find your bike in this mess? I feel like I’d just give up and walk home.
We ate dinner here. It was good. And the service was amazing. So, put this on your list if you come.
Also, put this on your list. This is Max Brown and it’s a great little hotel in a great little spot, with great little extras like a candy bar and a real bar that’s open 24 hours.
And they have games and records and all kinds of things like that. We actually played that Scrabble game you see which was really interesting because Dutch Scrabble has like a bajillion j’s and i’s and k’s and e’s and not many other letters. Quick tell me what you’d make with that mix. Exactly.
Another must do that we actually did is take a boat ride around the canals. We climbed aboard with Captain Jaime and he was a wealth of information. He explained all about why these houses are leaning, and why they are all so narrow and why the windows on top are smaller. You’ll have to take the trip to find out for yourself but I can tell you that houses were painted black during the plague to warn people to keep away. I always wanted a black brick house, but now I’m not so sure.
Here’s Captain Jaime’s brochure. Normally I’d include a link when recommending something but it’s been a hell of a few months and I’m really tired, so you can just google it ok? And you really should because he’s seriously the best and his tour comes with free drinks! How did I fail to mention this before?  Free drinks people. Book Jaime. For real.
You get a completely different perspective when you’re looking at Amsterdam from the water. This bridge is on the edge of the Red Light District, which looks very different when you’re standing on the street.
And speaking of that–we saw some interesting things. Ones that provoked my son to say “If Philly is the city of brotherly love, then Amsterdam is the city where you BUY love”. Oh brother. Maybe we should have gone to Disney World or something?
Also, perhaps we missed the Van Gogh Museum, but we saw this guy and if you squint his painting looks like a Van Gogh! #closeenough
We did not skip the Rijks Museum because it’s supposed to be the best one in all of the Netherlands. The kids decided it was the most boring museum they’d ever been to, but then I reminded them about Choco Story in Bruges which we’ve already established is the most boring museum on the planet and they survived that… and they agreed so we powered on.
The library is very impressive anyway.
As part of the Year of Rembrant, one of his most famous and largest paintings is being restored. It’s actually really fascinating what they’re doing- analyzing layer by layer and assessing how they can restore and preserve it.
And there’s this giant spider in the garden…
Which might make you hungry for one of these. I don’t know why it would, but doesn’t this look good? It’s only a short walk to the aptly named Seafood Shop where you can buy one, and then another one and then another one (I don’t know anyone who did that).

Here’s what your daughter looks like when you tell her you’re taking a little excursion out of the cool, hip, fun city to go see more windmills.
Even the fact that the whole town actually did smell like chocolate didn’t help. I’m not sure that it would have helped if Willy Wonka himself was there to greet us and Oompa Loompas were swimming down a river of chocolate that ran through the middle of town… at least in the beginning anyway.
But then we saw a real person wearing wooden shoes! This was exciting! Though, admittedly we thought it was a bit contrived, like a staged scene you see at a planned village at Epcot or something. Maybe it was but I was still impressed that this guy was wearing wooden shoes while perched on a ladder cleaning eaves or looking for a birds nest or whatever he’s doing. Also, why are we all so cynical?
And the windmills really are impressive and beautiful in their own right.
Plus there were cows. Everyone loves cows.
And funky architecture. If you lived here, you’ve home now. And your home would be adorable.
The town (Zaandijk) is actually a quick 20 minute train ride from Amsterdam, so you can go, soak in all the adorableness of it and still be back in time for an afternoon coffee at a not-coffee-shop.
My daughter and I were shopping late one afternoon and stumbled upon this sustainable fashion museum/store which encourages you to figure out how to make fashion for good.
When you enter they give you a little bracelet that you can use to ping actions you’re willing to commit to in order to further the sustainable clothing movement and then you get the plan emailed to you so you remember what you signed up for and don’t break any promises. Pretty cool, right?  So we committed to things like buying less, encouraging our favorite brands to be ecologically conscious, washing our clothes less often and all kinds of other awesome stuff that counteracts the fact that you are actually just a slave to consumerism.
So we left with a new mission and what did we do next? We continued shopping! We did feel pretty guilty about it but there were so many cute store. At least we were more conscious of what we were looking for and we did seek out the vintage and thrift shops (which btw are amazing in A’dam) and we even found this brand, which is sustainable and super duper cute!
One interesting factoid that we learned while in Amsterdam is that there are only 900,000 people living within the city limits but there are more than a million bikes. And, 2,000 of them end up in the canals for one reason or another (though I think we can figure out what those reasons are, it being Amsterdam and all).
We did a lot of other things, but turns out we didn’t do EVERYTHING. When we got home we read in our book that was still lying on the dining room table about all kinds of things we missed- great restaurants we didn’t eat at, off the beaten path places we didn’t see, hidden gems we didn’t find, nightlife we didn’t participate in. But that’s ok. We had an amazing time, and we’ll definitely be back.  So til then, Amsterdam: stay awesome.



It’s up to you, New York, New York…

I don’t know what I was looking for exactly, when I took a new job that landed me in New York City 2 out of 4 weeks a month, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t found it yet. The job hasn’t turned out quite as expected, and I find myself longing for my old one which perhaps wasn’t perfect but at least where I had a clear path, inspiring colleagues, a great mission, excellent resources and a pretty good life balance (wait, that does sound pretty perfect–oops).

Needless to say, I’m not overly thrilled with where I am now, but I recognize that it’s also been a fantastic learning lesson. I think in life you have to make a few mistakes in order to figure out where and who you are. This feels like a pretty big mistake, but one that I’ll be better for. And despite it all, I still really love NYC and still see the beauty in the people and on the streets. That’s one of the things I want to take away from this experience, and it’s the thing I want to share with you. Because if anywhere defines what America is supposed to be it’s here- the city of dreams, the city that never sleeps, the melting pot, the big apple, the center of the universe. New. York. City.

There are lots of points of entry to Manhattan, but Grand Central Terminal is the only one that feels magical. I don’t know why but every time I’m here I feel like I’ve somehow just teleported to another world.  And I guess in essence I have…
Because there is no place, no place at all like New York City.
Lately I’ve been trying to find beauty everywhere. It’s not hard because there are always flowers for those who wish to see them…right, Matisse? He would probably not be so optimistic if he was sardined nose hair to nose hair with all of humanity on the 6 train heading uptown at 6:30 pm on a Tuesday, but I appreciate his sentiment (and I do love flowers and also cleanish subway platforms).
You could read this either way- is it a GOOD moment, or a BAD moment? You choose.
Also choose to caffeinate- and do that at Urban Backyard which is right down the street from where you had your moment so if it was a bad one you can cheer up with a great cup of coffee and if it was a good one you can celebrate with a good cup of coffee. Either way it works. Also, you can throw this up on Insta and get lots of likes, because it’s super cute.
Also possibly one of the most Instagrammed spots in NYC- or at least on the LES– is this place: Freemans. I LOVE Freemans. I love sitting at the bar on a rainy night with a lovely glass of Cab because I’m in NYC but I feel like I’m way upstate in an old hunting lodge, and I can pretend I’m wearing Wellies and tartan pants and a giant wool sweater (even in July) and that’s pretty cool. Escapism.
Um, need I say more?
Also I love murals (remember Nashville?) and I love the Lower East Side because there are loads of them. Walls CAN talk on the LES and they speak to me.
Also obviously there’s a cool bookstore. Coffee and books plus a few (errr ok lots of) other things are really all I need.
Used books are the best because they are. I love the smell of them and the history behind them. Like, who had this book before me and where exactly did they do their reading? Like in the bathroom or on the train or what?
Oh and OK, Citizen M Bowery has a pretty great rooftop bar. But, funny story, this is where I was sitting when I got the email asking if I wanted to come interview for the job that brought me to NYC and turned my life upside down and made me a lil tiny bit crazy. Still a good spot to watch the sunset though. However,  I have not been back since (karma and all that).
This might have been the spot where I responded YES! This is my WTF were you thinking moment. Everyone is entitled to one or two of them.
Oh look- another mutual! Probably not the last of this post, but possibly the coolest. Or not the coolest but the one with the best pig. And probably only pig.
Really close by is Doyers St in Chinatown where they don’t write on the walls, they write on the street. This is somehow even cooler.
And just a little farther downtown is the Oculus which is a train station built next to Ground Zero and well, you really need to decide for yourself what you think of it. I think it’s beautiful when it’s lit up like this at dusk.
And, it’s a great place to stop and reflect on the world and how it’s changed (or not changed?) since 9/11/2001 and to buy stuff because it’s also a mall…
And THIS my friends is the roof of the atrium at the Beekman Hotel, which I will always and forever consider my most favorite hotel in all the world.
This is looking down to the lounge from the top floor of the hotel and yes it’s amazing.
Also, they’ll leave the light on for you. Wait… that might be another hotel. But the light will be on, for real.
I can’t really think of anything to say about this (the bar at the Beekman) except it’s just so, so, so great.
And here’s a lovely night shot of lower Manhattan and the moon.  I always feel like I’m caught between the moon and NYC… sigh.
But then friends come to town and we spend lots of time NOT acting our age at places like Beauty and Essex. YAY.
But sometimes I feel like this. I sent this pic to a friend on one of my worst days and she said “well, it looks like you’re wearing a really cute shirt at least”. And yes, I was. And then I felt better because you can’t be totally sad when you have a really good outfit on.
And you can’t feel sad when you are surrounded by like 2 bajillion orchids, like I was at Intersect by Lexus .
Or when surrounded by all these lovely bad-ass ladies at Diane Von Furstenburg  (and thank you Ashley Longshore for being amazing- muuwah)
I could write a whole separate blog post about all the museum options in NYC but I won’t because I’m sure someone already has, but here’s a picture of the Whitney–which I really like–so if you want to pick one to go to and you can’t decide, just pick the Whitney. Wharhol won’t be there any more but it will still be pretty great.
And since this isn’t a real museum I can include it here with a warning: Do not go to the Museum of Illusion if you are even slightly hung over or tend to get motion sickness. Because the whole trippy place is designed to give you vertigo and a roiling stomach. But it’s fun. Really. Just bring dramamine.
Ok, and then there’s this. Giant bacteria frappe ball pit at the Color Factory. YAY germs.
The Color Factory is a great place to visit. Once. I’ve been there three times now, for reasons I don’t care to discuss and believe me time two and three were a bit underwhelming. But the first time, when it’s all new content for your Insta feed, it’s all right.
And we survived! We didn’t even get dysentery or anything.
In NYC you can feel like a kid, or pretend to be a grown up. At La Mercerie you HAVE to act like a grown up because it’s all quiet and subdued and elegant. And the eggs are really fancy. Also, it’s beautiful and Emily Thompson Flowers are to die for.
But I’m more of a simple girl. All I need is a little love from my barista. And my favorite morning spot is the lounge at The Freehand. Well, maybe not my favorite, but almost my favorite? Anyway, worth checking out…
And the Freehand is close to the Flatiron and Madison Square Park. I love taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures. This is a good spot for that because it might be one of the most photographed buildings in the world. Also, there are cherry blossoms (but only for like one week in April- sorry).
There seems to be a new installation every single day in this spot. This one represents the fact that of the 150 statues in NYC, only 5 are of women. Digest that. I want to do something really, really great so they’ll make a stature of me and then there will be 6 out of 151.. which I guess doesn’t really change the ratio too much. Why don’t all you ladies try too?
I like plants and I like equality and I believe in love, so here’s a picture that tells you all of that.
Ooooh and this! The New Yok Public Library. Is there a more beautiful place anywhere? No. No, there really isn’t.
It’s an oasis of calm in the middle of chaos.
And here’s some virtual chaos at Dolby Soho. They promise you a journey of sight and sound at the intersection of design and technology. So, why wouldn’t you go? Also, it’s free, so it might be the only thing you can afford in SoHo.
And you can stare down into the abyss and wonder what the heck you’re doing with your life, and why you’re spending so much time in a speaker store.
After that you can walk through the Village and buy stuff at bakeries.
Or whatever. One of the things I really love about NYC is how anonymous you can be. Honestly, nobody really gives a shit what you are doing (or even notices for that matter) so go ahead and do your own damn thing.
Oh, and yeah- this is me. Still. Like Carrie Bradshaw or Marlo Thomas in That Girl (which obviously I’ve only seen in reruns cuz I’m not THAT old).
This is the view from the 33rd floor of the Empire State Building. And holy cow, it puts the city in perspective doesn’t it? So many stories out there… so much possibility. Yeah, it’s a concrete jungle, but it’s beautiful.
And the beauty is in the details. This is the Vessel at Hudson Yards which is amazing and crazy and cool and wonderful and weird and I am determined to climb all of those stairs even though it’s kind of pointless because there’s not even a Ben & Jerry’s at the top like there is at the Eiffel Tower.
You will totally fall in love with the Highline (but only early in the morning before all the people come and when the light is just right).
Also, find a reason to go to Pier 17 to see a show at sunset. Depending on who you see the show might even be beside the point. I saw James here and they were so good I actually forgot where I was- totally transported from this magical spot to somewhere in Tim Booth’s beautiful and free spirited, love-drenched, sort of angsty world. But if you saw a lesser band, you still have the view. And the street tacos, which are pretty good.
See I told you there’d be another mural! And this one in the West Village (part of the Colors of Freedom series by Kobra) is really extra beautiful and echos James’ sentiment that we ARE all one human race, many faces, and everybody belongs here…here in NYC but also here in America and here on earth. We are all just people. Trying to live the dream.
And then my friends, when all that dream chasing in Manhattan gets to be too much, you can head across that iconic bridge to Brooklyn, which seems to me to be kinder, with better coffee, hipper hangouts and space to breathe a little.
See? Brooklyn is especially nice if you can afford a $10 million Brownstone with the best rooftop situation in the city. But even if you can’t, it’s pretty great. I promise. So stay tuned because BK is up next on my list of places to share with you. Til then, I’ll be thinking of you!!! xo


Family Travel

Bruges (It’s Everyone’s Thing)

img_9486 - copyAh, chocolate and waffles and frites and beer. And beer, and beer, and frites and waffles. And buildings. Breathtakingly beautiful buildings, steeped in history and a bit of mystery. If you love these things as much as I do, you should probably head to Bruges pronto. Because you will love it. You will love it immediately and completely. You won’t be the only one there, mind you, because everyone else in the world seems to love it too. So, it will be crowded- like Disney World crowded. But you’ll love it anyway. You’ll elbow your way through the crowds to peer into delightful windows displaying luscious (and sometimes scandalous) chocolate confections. You’ll crane your neck over hundreds of heads to admire the intricate and delicate detail of each and every building that line the picturesque cobblestone streets, and you’ll wait patiently for a seat in one of the overstuffed restaurants or bars so you can savor the salty perfection of the best fries you’ve ever had, or revel in the divine tastiness of a perfectly cooked waffle (and you didn’t even know you liked waffles!) Plus, you’ll drink a lot of beer. A lot of beer.  And also you’ll do some other stuff involving churches and stores and museums. Like we did, for example.

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We’re non-planners, so the first thing we did after happily discovering that our hotel (Hotel Academie which was fab) was smack in the middle of ALL the action was to do a lil’ research to figure out what the heck we were going to do with our time in Bruges. The above-captured researching yielded three very different agendas, making for a veerry long list of things to do.
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The kids were on a mission to eat waffles because the waffles are pretty well hyped.
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There are lots of signs like this in Bruges.
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But we were more interested in beer and De Halve Maan –which is in ALL the guidebooks and is probably the most well-known brewery in a town full of them–was spitting distance from our hotel. So, it was a logical first stop.
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They didn’t hate the idea, because also there were french fries.
And fries do taste exceptionally good with ketchup of mayonnaise.