We Were Stuck In A Blender And Now We’re Saving Lives?

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An old friend and reader of my blog sent this to me this week saying it reminded her of me. I love that.

Wednesday morning while playing bridge my wrist buzzed with an incoming text. It said, “Do you have time for a quick trip to Paris? K has an apartment with an extra bedroom.” As much as I’d like to think I get texts like this all the time, I don’t. It made sitting at the Bridge table, defending against a 3 No Trump tricky. All I could think about was how I could say yes. As an empty nester, these are the opportunities you talk about having the ability to take. “When the kids are gone, I’ll be able to travel on a moment’s notice…” But the reality of life, at least for me, doesn’t work that way. There are always obligations and bills to pay. But this time, with the OK from Tom, I said yes. “We were playing bridge, and now we’re booking last minute tickets to Paris?”

Speaking of last-minute tickets, I knew that to justify this trip to myself and my husband, it had to make sense financially. I’m the type of person that if I collect enough frequent flyer miles or points, I book a trip immediately, so I didn’t have any in the “bank.” I did have two amazing tickets to The Ferryman on Broadway that I knew I could sell in a minute, which I did. I tasked myself with finding a flight that my new found wealth would cover, and it came very, very close. I found a non-stop, round-trip ticket to Orly from Newark on Level Airlines. Level Airlines a new-ish long-haul, low-cost airline that started in 2017. The planes are brand-new, and my round-trip flight cost $370! The ticket originally cost $270, but I draw the frugal line when it comes to a week in Paris in winter with only a carry-on. I leave Monday night. C’est tres tres bien.

I’m writing this blog entry while sitting in front of my new Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus.  My sister-in-law, who happens to be a font of wisdom and knowledge, said it is doing wonders for her January blues. It was only $39.99. I bought two; one for me and one as a gift. Thirty minutes every morning, while reading the paper or answering emails or making To Do lists is something I can easily work into my daily routine. I’ll keep you posted on results!

I’ve written in the past about my excitement when there are new additions to my neighborhood, and this week there were two. On the corner of 20th and Broadway, a massive space that has been vacant for a long time, is now a collaboration between BlueStone Lane Coffee and WeWork only this WeWork is a little different. Instead of having a membership, you can rent space by the MINUTE. And, they sell goods produced by their members. It’s an interesting concept. I don’t see myself ever paying to sit there, but now I have three choices for excellent coffee on my block.

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On Thursday, Ole and Steen, a bakery/cafe from Sweden opened their doors to hordes of bread lovers. The concept is similar in scope to Maison Kayser, but without table service. It’s all-day dining, with bread as the main ingredient. I’m not complaining. I’m a fan of good bread. Tom and I went for lunch on Saturday, and the counter service was frenetic, but the food was very good, and they have a nice amount of space to linger, both on the main floor and in the basement. I’ve read that they are baking on premise, so the freshness factor is high. I know that once they get the kinks out, it will be a go-to option for me during the day, where I won’t have to pay to sit and take my time.

Friday was the kick-off to restaurant week(s) in NYC. Last year I tried two spots, and neither were any good. Friday night I made a reservation at a place around the block I’d passed and never tried. I wanted to like it, I really did. Unfortunately, no. I’m officially giving up on restaurant week. I think it’s a misnomer. It should be called Restaurant Fail Week. If you feel differently, PLEASE tell me where you ate and what you loved.

Last night Tom and I went to see The Invisibles at The Landmark 57 Theater (one of my favorite theaters in the city). It was a docu-drama about four of the 7000 German Jews who tried to escape deportation to the camps by living in full view of the Nazis. The four stories were of teenagers, and of course, it made me think about what if that happened here, now, would our “soft” kids be able to have the prowess to hide in plain sight? I’m not sure. The bonus of seeing the movie in this theater was the free Q&A afterward with the director and one of the “stars” of the movie! One of the four survivors, Hanni, took questions from the audience. She was incredible. It was an emotional viewing in a packed audience. Thankfully the bar in the theater stays open late and their happy hour starts at 9 pm.

I’m so excited to invite my readers to the annual Bronx Letters Foundation “Food For Thought” benefit! This year our host is the food God Eric Ripert, one of the greatest chefs in the world today. We will be honoring the life of our school’s patron saint, Anthony Bourdain. Tickets are on sale now, and you can buy them here!

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Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

What are your holiday traditions?

My friend and fellow blogger, Dina, talks about the origin of the tradition of Christmas trees in her newsletter, which got me thinking about the holiday traditions our family looks forward to each year, and how they have changed depending on demographics like the country we are living in and the age of the kids. We spent six Christmas holidays in Japan, and although the Japanese don’t celebrate Christmas, they have come up with some of the most interesting ways to put a Japanese spin on the festivities. The tradition I found the most hilarious is the eating of KFC on Christmas, and the need to place your order months in advance.

In the Jardine family, a tradition is simply something you do more than once, so we have a lot of them. Our oldest holiday pastime is the newspaper barrier my husband creates that blocks the kids from opening presents Christmas morning. When they were young, it made more sense. When two of your kids are 6’3″ and they can see above the few taped pages of newsprint, it doesn’t hold the same significance, however, we still do it every year. For the past five years, we all wear matching Christmas PJs on the 24th while we watch Love Actually and the Polar Express and drink hot chocolate. This year, we are reducing our carbon footprint, and we’ll wear matching fluffy socks. From our years living in Japan, we’ve incorporated the New Year Daruma wish. I buy the tiny ones at  Pearl River Mart. We color in the left eye of the Daruma, and we write our wish for the coming year on the bottom. We place them on a small altar in our apartment (aka book shelf), and then wait for them to come true! They almost never do, but this year we have two wish winners – Annie and Tom (Tom had two of his past year’s wishes come true this year). We will throw those in the fire at New Year’s to acknowledge their accomplishments. The rest sit on the altar waiting for their time to get thrown into the flames.

 

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And each December 23rd, we dress up and eat a massive amount of Chinese food at Mr. Chow, the place I celebrated special occasions with my family as a young girl, made even more special by the fact that Tom asked me to marry him after eating a meal there. We order exactly the same thing every year, never veering from our favorites, and we like it that way.

One of my most practical traditions started about five years ago when I realized that one day my kids are going to want to take their ornaments with them when they get married and have their own trees. So each year they receive an ornament representative of something big or small that happened to them that year. Here are a few examples:

I’m a lover of holiday traditions, so if your family celebrates in a fun or unusual way, please let me know. I’m always looking for new opportunities to have fun, make memories and bring meaning to celebrations.

Wednesday I planned a holiday lunch at Union Square Cafe. It’s the perfect place to celebrate with good friends as the food never disappoints, the service is on point, and the chance of a celebrity sighting is high (I see you Zach Braff and David Schwimmer). It also happens to be across the street from Union Square (natch), and it makes for an easy transition to the holiday market for shopping.

I started the weekend at a two hour breakfast at Buvette another one of my go-to spots. It is one of the original all-day dining restos that are now so popular, opening at 7 am and closing at 2 am. They don’t take reservations, but it’s worth the wait. To me, it’s the cheapest and fastest way to transport myself to Paris. The espresso steamed scrambled eggs with prosciutto and shaved parm is perfection.

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I’ve wanted to have brunch at Sadelle’s since it opened but I refuse to spend a large amount of my weekend standing in line, and it’s not easy to get a reservation during the prime brunch hours. Since it was the first Saturday in months without college football, I planned to seize the day and start very early. We had a table reserved for two at 8:45, and although it wasn’t brunch, it was still oh so awesome.

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We had enough time after breakfast to walk the semi-empty streets of Soho, window shopping and laughing at all of the ridiculous items for sale. For the person who has literally everything…

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A 10:20 am showing of Mary Queen of Scots at The Angelika Film Center, my favorite place to see a movie since it opened circa 1989, made the start to the day that much more enjoyable. I thought the movie was very entertaining as I am a huge fan of the early royal days and like nothing more than reading or watching anything to do with this historical fiction genre. I am team Saiorse since I first saw her in How I Live Now – the movie version of one of my favorite dystopian Young Adult books (same title).

Today, I spent the morning at the The Whitney Museum.

Thanks to my friend Lotte (who was the idea behind the emptynestnyc.blog btw) we had the good fortune of going “All Andy” with the supreme Whitney docent Debbie. I learned that Debbie has many talents and is the co-founder of an intimate art salon, EdelHaus Art Salon  If you are interested in attending one of her private events, please send me a note and I will connect you. My fascination with Andy began while a student at NYU in the early 80’s when Andy was still alive, and I had the good fortune of spying him at Area – one of my go-to clubs while in college. I was totally obsessed with him and his Factory crew after reading Edie: An American Biography. The show at the Whitney is fabulous, and I will go back as it requires more than the hour I spent this morning.

Tomorrow I am off to Napa to celebrate the holidays with my West Coast Tokyo ladies. The annual gift exchange started in Tokyo and continues each year in California. I cannot wait to arrive. Look for a fun post when I return – maybe even a co-blog post with one of my all-time favorite Tokyo transplanted friends and fellow blogger: Napanista!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

Paris Prep

I’d hoped to be writing this week’s blog entry from Paris, where Tom and I planned to spend Valentine’s week, but Air France had other plans. Our flight was canceled last night with no warning, most likely due to the record-breaking snow that has blanketed the city of light, but hopefully, we’ll get out this evening. As Audrey Hepburn said in Sabrina, ‘Paris is always a good idea.’ I’m looking forward to iconic Paris selfies with snow!

This week was not the normal fun-filled, activity-laden emptynest week as I was in full “find a job” mode. What I’ve found is that looking for a full-time job is a full-time job. But  I’m making progress, which is a good feeling. That doesn’t mean I was inside the entire week either.

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On Monday, I had a surprise visit during the day from #2 son who, with excellent foresight, took the Monday off following the Superbowl. We went for a spontaneous lunch at Studio, the new all-day dining space in the Freehand Hotel on Lexington and 23rd. I would say that the ambiance is better than the food, (see above), but hopefully, they’ll get the “newby” kinks out and improve. An incredible rooftop bar will open in the summer.

I had a delicious Mexican lunch with a friend at La Contenta Oeste in the West Village. What I loved about the menu, was that all the standard Mexican favorites are there, but also, you’ll find great salads and fish made with Mexican ingredients but skew healthy and fresh.

To prepare for all the walking I will be doing in Paris; I went for my favorite Medical Pedicure. I always go to the 30 Park Avenue location, which is inside a podiatrist’s office. Medical pedicures are very different than the pedicures you get at your local nail salon. I highly recommend them, and the price isn’t much more than you’d pay in a salon.

And speaking of looking for a full-time job, I found a great new (at least to me) clothing store that comes from Sweden. It’s called Cos. They have three locations in NYC (5th Ave, Soho, and in the Oculus) and I feel they have a modern take on work clothes. I could see myself wearing their clothes to my new office (wherever and whenever that may be). And the price point is affordable.

Time to stuff too many clothes into 2 checked bags. Next week’s blog will be from Paris!

Au revoir NYC!

Have fun. Be bold.