9.29.2011

thailand in 5 minutes and 2 seconds


music is joseph arthur's "honey and the moon"

wow, wow, wow. i loved thailand so much. and the videos i've made from the trip (others here and here) have really brought it all together for me.

every once in a while, i ask ben, "remember that time we were traveling in asia?" and we both either cringe a little or get nostalgic. or both.

---now that it's september and we are settled into our new home and we don't have travel plans until november (gasp!)...
our five week asia trip seems like it was years ago.

and although we would never do the same exact trip over again (lesson learned), we would do something similar.
'cause we're crazy like that.

but for now... it will just be that trip we took that one summer.

9.28.2011

a trip back to india, without leaving manhattan

i am like always nagging ben to do stuff. hehe just kidding. we equally love getting out and adventuring. it's just harder for him to pull away since he has nagging law school on the brain.
if you've ever been in grad school- you know, there is NEVER a mental break. boo.

BUT
when one has a hankering for thums up (indian cola... tastes like a cola but with anise and incense and other goodness) and gulab jamun (an indian dessert, a little round honey cake)...
one must go to "curry hill" (aka murray hill) in manhattan.

even from a block away, we could smell curry. loud and clear.

on lexington ave between e 29th and e 28th, there are about eight indian markets.
yippee!

i feel like i need to become an expert indian food chef. i will have to go back to curry hill and stock up on my curries and cardamom. mmm cardamom.
and thums up (pronounced tums oop)

the blue building on the corner reminded me of some of the colorful buildings in india. or rather the deep blue indian train cars.

9.27.2011

the cookie that changed my life.

i'm not sure when i first had the dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookie from levain bakery... but it changed my life.

it is always baked to perfection.
it is always so fresh and gooey.
it is always the unhealthy indulgence that i want it to be.
it is always a temptation to go get one, even when i'm nowhere near 74th and amsterdam or 117th and frederick douglass blvd.
it is always worth $4.

i wrote a short review on levain here.
levain is pronounced lev-on.

9.26.2011

339 convent avenue [royal tenenbaum house]

when i discovered that the famous house in the film, the royal tenenbaums, was in west harlem (here in manhattan)---
i knew i had to see it [the house that is].

so naturally i've been nagging ben for a while now to go up there and see it with me. it's up there--- at convent avenue and w 144th street. technically the area is hamilton heights, but it's still considered west harlem. and it's a lovely lovely area.

when we strolled up to the house, a man in his car [lenny] asked if we were interested in buying the house. well of course we are. he knows the owner so he could hook us up.
ha.
of course we could never afford it- but wow. it's so beautiful. and most houses in that area are. but this house at 339 convent, is exceptionally amazing.

and it's rad that the film was filmed in the house. the house really made the film and created massive amounts of charm- for the betterment of the film.

it was awwwesome and totally worth the very crowded bus ride up there.
if our wallets were as big as our dreams, i would seriously consider purchasing it.

(my serious expressions in the photos are my homage to the film, much like the family portrait from the film.)
read about the film here.
read about how the director, wes anderson found the house here.

9.23.2011

our first date (six years later)

let's be honest: i sort of instantly fell for ben.

my friends/roommates wanted me to go this silly little mormon singles gathering [ward prayer] and i was super anti. but i went --- and then i met ben.
he was so confident, funny, tan, tall, attractive, intelligent, interesting--- and very much wanted by all the other women there. which very much detered me...

but lucky me, about three weeks later, after running into each other a few times, ben leaned over next to me while sitting on a couch at our friends' house and whispered,
"will you go on a date with me?!"

of course i said, yes.

that friday we went on a quadruple date to the pie (a pizza joint) in salt lake city, utah, about an hour from where we all lived and went to school.

we hit it off right away, really though, we did. we even held hands under the table at dinner so no one else would know.


we then went to the gateway shopping center to see a lazer light show (set to pink floyd music or something) at the planetarium. but somehow we missed it.

i think we kept trying to ditch our group--- so we went to starbucks and got caramel apple ciders (now called caramel apple spice)... and got lost in barnes and noble's poetry section.

and then we finally got back to our group.

it was my favorite first date ever--- where everything felt natural and the only nervousness and tummy twist i felt was because i was excited and so happy to be with big and beautiful ben. (that's what we called him--- big and beautiful, because he was. and is.)

and well, i love to celebrate our first date every year because i think it's important to relive those incredible first moments of our relationship--- to remember how it all began.


i asked ben if he had commentary on our first date:
"i had never felt that way about someone before- that strongly, so soon. umm i love you and you're very attractive.
you were amazing. and everything.
the more i learned about you, the more i was impressed."
(this is what i got out of him while he was studying.)

photo 1: on our first date `september 23, 2005` (in an elevator at the gateway shopping center in salt lake city, utah)
photo 2: on the 2nd anniversary of our first date, dating for the second time around (at the gateway again)

9.21.2011

what it's been like, so far (to live in the city)

it didn't feel like we actually lived here until we moved into our apartment.

but even then, our friends came to visit right after--- and so then i was in tourist mode. but somehow that helped me transition from tourist to resident.
i know the adjustment was very different for ben because the day after we arrived here to live, he started law school orientation (which really meant he started school because orientation was intensive and a little out of control, but hey. that's law school).

so far:
1/ it seems like a dream still. wait, i live here? it's strange. the yellow taxis and the nyc ambulance/fire truck siren sountrack remind me--- i live here.

2/ shopping and clothes are on my mind, all the time. it's a good thing i don't have a [real] job or else it would be a problem, shopping that is. i keep trying to convince myself that it would be ok if i just get this one little thing because i really need something else to wear to job interviews (because i've been wearing the same two outfits). but i know that once i start... it would be hard to stop.
instead, i've been trying to be creative and create some self control.

3/ i keep forgetting that when i grocery shop (at my beloved trader joe's on the upperwestside at 72 and broadway), i still have to subway home a few stops and carry those groceries. just about lost my arms today as a result of buying too many groceries.

4/ glee was not that awesome last night (but i do look forward to seeing idina menzel on the show again). new girl was funny and i'm willing to see what's next but i wasn't head over heels just yet. modern family was also funny but, meh.

5/ ben studies a lot and i make extravagant meals (and he does dishes or grabs things from up high for me while i'm cooking).

6/ when i go out for job interviews i wear heels to get myself used to wearing them for extensive periods. so far i've regretted it just once (that was today, with the truck loads of groceries. raarrr).

7/ i love the city, i do. i get excited about little things like walking around midtown and pretending like i'm not a newcomer to the city. i walk fast and glare at tourists just because i'm so cool like that.

p.s. it was my half birthday today.

an asia video


music is by thom yorke "atoms for peace"

a little video for all--- on this, the international day of peace.

i love peace.
and homemade videos. enjoy.

(this is bali, malaysia, cambodia, hong kong, china, s. korea and japan.)
thailand coming soon.

9.19.2011

an apartment tour in photos

i knew it was love when the posting said, "washer and dryer" and "dishwasher"---
the photos of the posting were AWFUL so i'm glad i was motivated by the magic washer and dryer words and not the photos.

and then it was a brownstone. and then it was the penthouse (we like to lovingly call our apartment the penthouse because it's the top floor). and then it had a washer and dryer! and a kitchen with more than six inches of counter space! and a dishwasher (the mini kind that we love)! and an exposed brick wall! and hard wood floors! and great views! and lots of natural light! and closets! one really big closet (like lion, the witch and the wardrobe size closet).
i could go on. forever.
but believe me, there are trade-offs. there are always trade offs.

it's so embarrassingly cliché, but i feel so blessed we found this place.
the last thing you want when you are in a new place and one of you is selling your soul to law school is an apartment you don't want to come home to.
and we have a great place. one that is a sanctuary and a happy place for us. we hope to stay for a while.

the magnet for the knives is my favorite addition to our kitchen repertoire. i've been dreaming about it for a while.
the photo wall now has a photo from all the countries we've visited together (and a couple extras). i love it.
the rainbow string of lights we got in thailand in july. the lights were our house warming gift to ourselves (that and the muji nyc skyline). it made me laugh and shake my head a little when that famous blogger blogged about similar lights the other day. of course she would, i thought to myself.

and as i said, i am really hoping for a bar stool or two and nice armchair. but that's the fun part- the hunt for those treasure items.

i/ben/we love our manhattan apartment. it defies manhattan apartment stereotypes. and you know how i love to defy stereotypes! success!

9.16.2011

fashion swap meet (in honor of fashion week)

one of my favorite newsblog sites, jezebel, hosted a fashion swap meet at their office in soho last night. (they share their office with gawker, their parent newsblog site.)

i am lucky enough to know maria, who knows a writer at jezebel. so i was lucky enough to go.

what you do is bring at least one item of clothing you are over and don't want to wear anymore. i brought three. and then you get to rummage through all the other clothes and take whatever you want.
and there's booze and cheese! but i was really tempted by the HUGE jar of nutella in the office kitchen.

we hung around for a while because as more people showed up, more stuff came in. i did pretty well for myself, some button ups, a skirt and some jeans.

so that's pretty cool.

and whatever wasn't taken last night was donated to charity. that's cool too.

i like this swap meet idea. it's like thrift shopping but free? and kind of exciting because you feel like you're a part of something... exciting? (ha, i'm so eloquent.)

the pink vespa i spotted on my way to the swap meet. couldn't resist.
last photo is of me with my ladies: maria and mala. sadly, suzie is not photoed who did stop by for a bit.

9.15.2011

harlem :: a few scenes of our neighborhood

only in harlem can you get "soul food" and a "salad bar" all in one place. it makes me laugh every time.
and some manolo blahniks at the salvation army.

so far i have really loved living in harlem. harlem is rough around the edges but also a gem in so many ways.

i really love our apartment, so that helps a ton. it's our happy place. our sanctuary.

and very rarely have i gotten yelled at for being white... so that's been refreshing. mostly people are just trying to sell stuff on the streets.

the sidewalks are lined with people selling things like jewelery, cds (blaring loud music), ice cream, fruit and also selling musky-musk scents.
there are tons of buses that go by our apartment. lots of honking taxis and ambulances. there are about 3 hospitals in a 5-block radius from here.

and mount morris park is so close. it's great to see people out playing and sitting enjoying the soon-to-be autumn weather.

i like that harlem is a very unique spot in manhattan because it helps me appreciate it along with all various neighborhoods and nooks manhattan and nyc have.

9.14.2011

treasure & bond (nordstrom's nyc charity store)

i got to visit treasure & bond on tuesday.

i heard a while back nordstrom was opening a store in manhattan (there is a nordstrom rack but not an actual nordstrom store)... but under a sort of alias name. and i got excited. so when i arrived here about a month ago, i googled, nordstrom store in manhattan and treasure & bond came up.

treasure & bond is a fun, quaint little store in the soho/canal (west side- at west broadway between broome and grand) area of manhattan. it's a wide open-warehouse type space that is super simple, selling:
housewares, accessories, trinkets and clothing. the clothing section is small and simple but i have a lot of respect for the people who are selling their things there (like liberty of london and james perse) because,

it's all for charity. all of treasure & bond's profits go to charity. and not just charity, but new york city charities for children. r-a-d. rad.

so basically, i just wanted to buy stuff. because it's for charity, right?

a little more about treasure & bond (if you're interested):
t&b is nordstrom's way to introduce themselves to manhattan. "they want to open a store in manhattan someday and to learn as much as possible about serving new yorkers. ...they decided to give 100% of the profits to new yorkers as a way to do good and give back long before they ever open a store here."

also something neat-o:
"one thing you may notice in our store is how simple we have kept the space. nearly all our fixtures are recycled, reclaimed or repurposed from our parent company [nordstrom]. our packaging materials for gifts and shipped items will be made from shredded nordstrom catalogs."

(from the t&b factoid pamphlet)

9.13.2011

big, gay, ice, cream. [and other food reviews]

our facial expressions are of no consequence and have nothing to do with the name of the ice cream shop. except we did feel happily gay after consuming our ice cream. so this was the result.

there is a big gay ice cream truck... and now there is a shop. it's in the east village and it's lovely lovely. we went on saturday, just a week after the shop opened so there was a cute little line outside the shop. new york city and its lines. usually that means the food or treat is totally worth it.

and now i kind of love the east village. we people watched and laughed in tompkins square park. we browsed vintage and consignment shops afterwards and i almost fell for a pair of jimmy choos but just knew it wasn't meant to be. someday. someday jimmy will be on my feet.

big gay ice cream shop:
the shop isn't all that big per se, but the ice cream treats are and so are the prices :) we kept seeing people walking out of the store with what looked to be a boring old chocolate dipped-cone, but it wasn't boring at all.

what we got:
ben got the chocolate dipped-cone looking thing, it's called, salty pimp. it's vanilla ice cream in a cone, ice cream injected with caramel (dulce de leche), then salted with sea salt and dipped in chocolate. we recommend getting the salty pimp with a cup because it's really messy to eat. so so delicious.
i got the mermaid ice cream. it's vanilla ice cream with key lime curd, crushed graham crackers and whipped cream. it's like eating a key lime pie but in ice cream form. amazing.
i really want to try the monday sundae which is twist ice cream, in a nutella lined waffle cone, with dulce de leche, sea salt and whipped cream. next time.

it was $11 for the two ice creams (ouch) but we'll share next time as the ice creams are really big.

westville:
i have a special place in my heart for westville. the most authentic experience is braving the wait in the west village at the original tiny, tiny westville. westville has a lot of "vegetables." i think they like to brag about this. but i for one favor the mac 'n' cheese. and i love the quaint and homey feel of westville. it just feels familiar. (locations are in the west village, chelsea and the east village).

what i get:
the mac 'n' cheese appetizer with bacon. it's baked mac 'n' cheese and amazing. ($8)
it's all about the sides. you can get 4 sides for $14. and the sides are big. so you can get brussel sprouts with dijon (i usually don't like brussel sprouts but these are rad). garlic mashed potatoes. grilled zucchini, tomatoes and basil with mozzarella, sweet potato fries, corn on the cob, bok choy, mushrooms, beats with goat cheese.
all kinds of things.
i've only ever gotten the mac 'n' cheese and then the 4 sides to share. it's plenty. and delicious.

magnolia bakery:
here's all i'll say.
1/ do your best to visit the original west village location of magnolia. it's a super cute, tucked away, fun area. you'll love it. and it's right across the street from book marc (marc jacobs' book store).
2/ the cupcakes are really not that good. they just aren't.
3/ get the banana pudding. that's it. that's all. it will be amazing. (about $5)

eataly:
first of all, i love that it's called eataly. clever name or cleverest name?
eataly is a huge italian market/restaurant/amazingness in the flat iron district. when ben and i first went, we bought some bread thinger, then a panino and also a pizza. and then some gelato. we had to try it all. get a pizza to go (around the corner from the main entrance). get gelato to go. buy some italian goodies. buy $500 prosciutto ham. do whatever.
the prices are reasonable (except for maybe the ham?).


i'm beginning to think i just moved here for the food. oh wait. i did. (hehe)

it's fairly certain...

it's fairly certain...

`sunday lunch will consist of black beans and quesadillas.

`we will visit trader joe's twice a week and wild olive market once a week (for those little things).

`i will invite people over to have an excuse to make gelato or something sugary.

`ben will want to take study breaks to new parts of the city we don't know that well, yet.

`food will be on my mind 87% of the time.

`we will hear sirens every 20-30 minutes.

`the bus that stops outside our apartment sounds like: a. someone has gas. b. my phone is vibrating. (gets me every time)

`the subway will take longer than i think (gets me every time, again).

` that no matter what, ben and i will love each other. this is certain (not just fairly certain). and cheesy but so true. truer each day.

9.11.2011

it's september eleventh. ten years later.

security has been crazy around here in the new york city--- as it should be.
it's kind of amazing to me it's been 10 years since 9/11... because i am old enough to vividly remember where i was and what i was doing that day.

i was in 10th grade human biology. and the teacher turned on the news. and because of my lack on knowledge of nyc, i was panicked because my oldest sister, kristen was attending columbia university at the time (little did i know the wtc was downtown and columbia is uptown).
my sister kristen actually saw the second tower fall all the way from columbia.

where were you when it happened? when you heard?

i am grateful to be new york on this day, although ben and i will probably stick around uptown. go to church. and that's about it.
i am praying for those with lost love ones, for new yorkers, for all of us, for the united states.

*photo taken in manhattan's east village

9.09.2011

we sold our car.

hi, it's awkward to hug a car.

we (i) sold our car yesterday. which is very exciting because in the month we've lived here in new york, we've used the car once and that was to move things from our sublet to our new place. and since then, it's been used to move it... every couple days. for street cleaning.
one side of the street is monday/thursday street cleaning and the other side of the street is tuesday/friday. so you can see how moving the car and reparking it that often could become a real drag.

BUT. we loved that car. the car was originally ben's. and then we got married, sold my car and took ben's nicer, newer car to dc with us.
and now in nyc, there isn't need for a car. it's more hassle and expense than it is worth it to keep it lying around.

the moral of the story is:
yesterday i felt like i was giving away (or selling, rather) a member of our family. that car took us lots of amazing places, including on our first date.

yes, i still get sentimental over inanimate things, but that's just who i am.

goodbye, car.

*photos taken in dc.

9.07.2011

a video of india

a video of india from emily blythe on Vimeo.

music:
the kinks "this time tomrrow" and alexis weissenberg "claire de lune"


truth be told, once i finished compiling this video last week --- and watched it for the first time...
i burst into tears (surprised?)

india was so many things... so many emotions. i really believe there are many different indias and i think we saw at least two of them.

now that ben and i have been to india--- and we hear someone say they went to india and "loooooooved it"
we have to laugh a little because yes, you can loooove india, but it's a very complicated love and i think more people should be honest about it.

i, myself, loooove india, but i also hate it, like it (it's ok), am intrigued by it, am confused by it, am disgusted by it, et cetera

basically what i am saying is, wes andersen painted a lovely picture of india in the film the darjeeling limited but a lot of the real stuff was left out.
and that's just what a lot of people do. leave out the real stuff.

here's some of the real stuff.

recent restaurant reviews

dinosaur bbq
i am not a huge american bbq fan, but ben is. i'm mostly just a fan of really good food. so we braved the long wait at dinosaur (two hours on a weekend night). we learned later we could have made a reservation online (open table). next time.
instead we hovered over people near the bar/high tables area, which are first come, first served. we waited more like 30 minutes. worth it.
dinosaur bbq is also situated right near the hudson river, riverside park and columbia university so it's ideal for a pre and/or post-dinner walk.
what we got (shared everything and it was plenty):
3 honey bbq wings
pork and brisket plate (comes with 2 sides), with mac and cheese and spiced sweet potatoes. all dishes come with cornbread (mmm).

i thought every single thing was delicious (and like i said, i'm not a huge bbq girl). i especially loved the mac and cheese and the honey bbq wings.

we got out of there paying $25 total for the two of us. including tip.

sylvia's
sylvia's is famous for soul food; sylvia is apparently the queen of soul food. we got excited to try it because it's in our neighborhood and it's where we ate to celebrate our lease signing for our first manhattan apartment. yippee!
what we got (we shared a plate because they are HUGE):
bar-b-que ribs and fried chicken combo (with two sides), mac and cheese and candied yams.
i don't like fried chicken. but this fried chicken is amazing! i especially loved the sides. it's a must-try to experience harlem and soul food in general.
since then we've tried these sides: collard greens and black eyed peas. both very good!
it was definitely plenty for the two of us. our server (nicest server ever) even said, there was no way we could have eaten two of those plates anyway. hehehe.

we paid $26 total (for two, including tip).

fun fact: harlem mormons used to meet on sundays for church at sylvia's (because sylvia's let them use one of their back rooms). luckily for ben and i, we now meet just a couple blocks away from sylvia's at a nice, new church building at 128th and lenox ave.

other short reviews from when our friends were visiting:
shake shack
shake shack has many locations. in new york city and now miami, dc, dubai, etc. ha. my favorite nyc locations are 8th ave and 44th and the original, in madison square park (in between 5th ave and madison ave on 23rd). the shack in madison square park almost always has a long line. the 8th ave location doesn't have a super long line, but it's smart to split up your party and have one person hover for a table.
what we get:
ben- the shack stack (a burger with a fried portabello mushroom on it) $8.50
me- cheeseburger, single patty (really good) $4
french fries to share $2.65
concretes: at 8th ave, great white way(!!!) or jelly's last donut. at madison square park, hopscotch or concrete jungle (all $6)

one nice thing about shake shack is if you're just going for a concrete or ice cream, there is a separate, much shorter, line for that.

pomodoro pizza
pomodoro in soho is one of the very best slices in town. all over nyc you can get a slice of pizza for $4 or less. it's best to do it right. so if you've been shopping all day in soho and need to rest your feet and refuel--- stop at pomodoro.
what we get:
the vodka slice, white slice (cheese) and bbq chicken slice are all exceptional. and all $3.50 and under. note that nyc pizza slices are really big. so they fill you up.

pepe rosso
an amazing, tiny italian joint just barely in soho. must have the penne vodka with pancetta (italian bacon). the restaurant itself is teeny tiny and popular, so you may consider getting your food to-go.
what we get:
ben and i get the penne ($8.95) and then a salad or panino and share.
the mixed organic greens with fresh tomato is great, $4.95. and pretty much any panino is to die for ($6.96-$8.95).

ny komtang (korean bbq):
for me, korean bbq is a koreatown, nyc must. ny komtang has proven to be our favorite (32 w 32nd street). you get a facial while the meat cooks because it cooks right in front of you. it's all part of the experience.
what we get:
for two, only get the bulgogi (korean beef). then you get a bunch of side dishes, like little salads and kimchi and unidentifiable foods. and it's only about $25-$30 for two.

levain bakery:
the best cookies in the world. the original is on the upper west side at 74th and amsterdam. there is also a location in harlem (among others). the cookies are HUGE.
what we get:
all the cookies are amazing, really (four options, all about $4). but i really only get the dark chocolate peanut butter chip. also, in the morning, there are baguettes with butter and jam sold. so delicious, do try one.

the doughnut plant:
the doughnut plant has two locations (lower east side and chelsea). if you want the most authentic experience, take the trek to the lower east side. or for the fancypants experience, try chelsea. same doughnuts are sold at both.
what we get:
carrot cake (with creme cheese filling), coconut glaze (with coconut cream filling), pistachio--- all about $3 each.

note: we almost always order tap water to drink when we eat out. it saves a lot of money.

9.05.2011

brooklyn flea [market]

we visited brooklyn flea on saturday.

i've been wanting to visit for years (it seems) but our nyc visits pre-nyc-habitation didn't really permit much time for jaunts to brooklyn flea.

so we went and perused.
and bought apple ginger soda from brooklyn soda works. (so very tasty)

i wanted to buy everything and nothing all at the same time.
it was also hotter than i wanted it to be and so the long train ride and long walk from the subway to the flea made me tired, fast.

we were very tempted by some vintage maps... but not tempted by the price.

what we were really hoping for was an incredibly comfortable lounge chair, bar stool(s), a great vintage new york city map and maybe a clock (we really need one in our bedroom)?

...but we're still on the hunt.

and
it's fun
to be
on the hunt.