What do long marriages, Ryan Seacrest and the best pizza in America have to do with one another?

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This past week the cover article in New York Magazine was about marriage, which got me thinking about the fact that one of my favorite couples (my brother and sister in law) will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary this week. This picture above is of the four of us (in the distant past) on the beach in Rhode Island. The article has lots of nuggets of wisdom. I especially liked this quote, “Because there is nothing more divine than being able to say, out loud, “Today, I am really, truly at my worst,” knowing that it won’t make your spouse run for the hills. My husband has seen my worst before. We both know that our worst is likely to get worse from here. Somehow that feels like grace.”

The article is a complete invasion of privacy. I think you’ll like it.

Have you ever wanted to get tickets to see a live TV show in NYC like Late Night With Seth Meyers or Live With Kelly and Ryan or GMA Strahan & Sara? My friend Wendy clued me on how to get tickets, and it worked! I’m happy to share it with my readers. All you need to do is create a profile on this site (with as much info as possible – make sure to add your picture), find a day on the calendar (within the next 30 days) that isn’t sold out, and request tickets – for free! It worked for me the first time. My tickets said to arrive before 9:30 and we arrived 9 and were able to get seats on the main floor. I took my friend Lisa, and we had a fun morning.

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After the show, we were starving. We stopped into David Chang’s Bang Bar in the Time Warner building. Their Korean flatbread sandwiches are delicious and the perfect thing to eat outside while enjoying the beautiful weather.

At 53, I know the skills I have, the ones I want to have, and the ones I don’t and never will. This self-knowledge was never more evident than my attempt Wednesday night to “Escape the Room” at a birthday party for my dear friend Lisa M. It’s just amazing to me to watch how other people’s minds work.

My girlfriends are becoming Grandmas, and it is so fun to watch! I got to facetime with Libby and Little Joanie this week, and I turned in to complete mush. Babies will do that.IMG_6002

Saturday, mid-morning, a flock of Jardines converged at my youngest daughter Annie’s apartment in Philadelphia. We came by plane, train, and bus. Annie watched us as we approached, which I found very 2019.

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The highlight of the Philly 15 hour trip (besides seeing my kids, natch) was by far our experience at Pizzeria Beddia. I’ve been waiting for years to eat Joe Beddia’s pizza, ever since the June 2015 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine naming it the BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA. It’s not that I’m a pizza fanatic. It’s that in the article, Joe mentions his “pizza epiphany” and he and I share that epiphany. It happened circa 2009 (for both of us, but not at the same time) when we first sat down at the ten-seat counter at Savoy – a tiny pizza place in Azabujuban in Tokyo, Japan. It was a game changer for him and me. So his place in Philly has always been on my TO DO list. But I hate to wait. I could never see myself waiting for hours outside for a pie, and at that time, that is what you needed to do to eat his food. AND THEN IT CLOSED. But thankfully it was because he was coming back bigger and better than ever. He opened his new, fabulous restaurant (with seats and a full bar) a few weeks ago. He takes reservations, they are fully booked for a few weeks, but they do keep tables open for walk-ins. The restaurant has an open kitchen surrounded by glass, and we were very fortunate to get the table in front of Joe as he threw the dough!

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I asked our waitress to tell Joe that we were here because we love Savoy too. Ten minutes later he was hanging out at our table, and we were exchanging all our favorite Japanese spots in Tokyo and NYC. He was the sweetest, most humble guy ever. He told us about a new restaurant called Hiroki that was opening up on the same block, and after dinner, he walked us over there to show us.

And the pizza. OMG. Wait, back it up. You need to get all the little starters. The salads are phenomenal – the sausage, the gigantic white beans in lemon and olive oil. It was all amazing. And the pizzas… we ordered four – all different. Watch out for the angry pizza – it’s spicy but so good. We finished the meal with a few different soft serves. Thanks, Joe!

It was a pizza dream.

Have fun. Be bold.

There Are Many Places Where I Belong – One Of Them Is Not the Gym

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I love my new mug – a gift from my youngest daughter’s college roommates. It makes me laugh. I’m almost always early, so it really tells you just how much exercise I get. There are many places where I feel right at home – a library, almost any type of restaurant, cafe or gourmet market, a book store, a speakeasy, a bridge table, a NYC subway, and at the five-way crossing in Shibuya, but put me in a packed gym on a holiday Monday, and I look like a newly arrived alien from the planet Xena. I’m 53, so I don’t have any hope that will change. I’m failing terribly at my attempt to get my body in better shape, but I am killing it in my brain stretching and flexing attempt.  Last week I spent three mornings playing bridge at Honors Bridge Club. I’m obsessed and utterly hooked. But it’s all in pursuit of staving off dementia, so I don’t feel too guilty about spending countless hours playing with a deck of cards – can you say grand slam?

In addition to my card obsession, I have been looking for new ways to get my hygge  on – the only reason to live on the east coast in January. This recipe was from last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, and they had me at “one cast iron pan”. Side note, I love to cook and have for decades, but just purchased my FIRST cast iron pan when I moved to the city 18 months ago. I use it almost every night I cook. I bought Smithey at Food52, and I LOVE it. The recipe was for Stock-and-Cider-Brined Chicken Over Stuffing. I think mine looked exactly like the picture, and it was seriously delicious (and easy). I cook a lot for my city kids, but I’ve never received a text the next day from my son telling me how good the dinner was, until now. Make this, and if you don’t have the cast iron pan, buy one, you’ll thank me. img_4549

This week was filled with art because it’s the perfect thing to do when it’s cold and rainy. I spent a fabulous winter afternoon at the Guggenheim with an “old” friend immersed in the revolutionary art of Hilma af Klint. The story of this fierce turn of the 20th-century painter is pretty incredible. She was a fan of the spiritual occult, and not only is it evident in her forward facing artwork, but she also writes of having her art displayed in the future in a circular “temple.” How did she know?

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After making our way around the exhibit, we had craft cocktails at Jacques Bar in the Lowell Hotel.  It left me wanting to return to eat at Majorelle. The menu is expensive, but I like their economical $40 lunch in 40 minutes. Sounds like my kind of work out.

Friday night, Tom and I were in the mood for noodles and went to Hunan Slurp in the East Village. I’d been for lunch but wanted to return for dinner. I do love a noodle shop that takes reservations! NB, they don’t have a liquor license, but there is a store across the street. Tom ran out to stock up on large Sapporo beers, while I ordered. We loved it all, including the walk home via St. Marks. Not much has changed on the famed block since I was a freshman at NYU, and that is a good thing. It’s nice to see that not every downtown neighborhood has been gentrified.

 

 

There was a lot of talk this week about the weekend storm arriving on Saturday, and MB and I had plans. Initially, we thought it might be fun to get out of the city and find a fireplace, but the snow estimates made us change our plans and stay put. We started the day at the Outsider Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion. I went last year and loved it. Outsider art is defined as art produced by self-taught artists who are not part of the artistic establishment. Many of the artists represented at the fair have mental illness, are autistic, were once incarcerated, or have other incredible life stories. The art represents their experience, and if I didn’t live in a 1600 square foot apartment that is already covered in art, I would have been a purchaser instead of an observer. Here are a few examples:

 

 

It was the perfect “snow is on the way” activity. Unfortunately, the snow never came, but that didn’t stop us from watching movies, ordering in, and pretending there was a foot outside.

Sunday was spent watching the Patriots do exactly what they always do, come from behind and win. As we are not Patriot fans, and we are pretty sick of them always landing on the right side of the scoreboard, we’ve decided to now become fans hoping this will be the end of their winning streak. Just kidding.

Monday reminded me that yes, it’s winter. It was f@#$%$#*& freezing! There was only one thing we wanted for lunch, and it was another bowl of steaming noodles. The closest spot was Bao Bao Cafe that claims to have the spiciest ramen in the city. Judging by the medium spicy, I’d say they might be right. The sign outside says, “If you hate someone, bring them here for ramen. Ours is the spiciest in the city.”

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Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Fall Break

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As an empty nester, I try to make a big deal when one of my kids comes home for the weekend. Lucky for me, two of them live in NYC, so when we are joined by a third or a fourth, it’s cause for a bit of a celebration. This weekend, the youngest came home from college and, in an unusual turn of events, I had them mostly to myself. Tom was teaching at Columbia Thursday, Friday and Saturday and so there was time for serious #mombonding.

Thursday night we went to dinner at Bistro Pierre Lapin a new French bistro that was on my short list. Even though it opened only a few months ago, it has the ambiance of a favorite spot that’s been around forever. The first thing we noticed when we walked by were the real tapers on each table. It hit me that it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten by real candlelight and how much I miss it. The menu has all the French bistro favorites you’d expect and many unexpected choices as well. The ravier, an overflowing tray of small vegetable dishes served tableside is impressive, as are the Plats D’Accompagnement – five out of the nine are potato based. We chose the truffle fries and the pomme aligot – a potato puree with cheese, also served tableside.

It was divine and unlike anything I’ve ever had. The meal was over the top delicious and extremely high in calories, but it was worth it.

Friday night we celebrated Tom’s upcoming birthday at one of our favorite bars, Sel Rrose. I was able to reserve a large table and invite friends to join in the celebration. The cocktails and the oysters are the focus at this corner spot on Delancey and the Bowery. I also brought two boxes of doughnuts from Dough to blow out candles. It was the icing on the evening. Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, skin is in. IMG_3938

Saturday brunch was at Nur. I’ve been to Nur several times for dinner (it’s two doors down from my apartment and serves excellent middle eastern food), but they just started serving brunch. All three of my kids were recently in Israel and are now huge fans of the food. The brunch is prix fixe and begins with their sesame bagel (large enough for four) with varied mezzes, and then proceeds to shakshuka and an egg stuffed pita and ends with a small dessert. We rolled out of there in desperate need of a long walk.

Saturday night we were craving Asian and went to our new favorite sushi restaurant Kanoyama. It’s authentic and feels like a place you would find in Tokyo. The fish is very fresh, but the prices are very reasonable. It’s always packed, but they take reservations between 5:30 and 7. After that, it’s first come first wait. And because we were in the neighborhood, we stopped in at Sundaes and Cones our neighborhood ice cream paradise.

Tonight I’m cooking, and the smallest child’s request is for Bulgogi. I’m off to HMart to buy the ingredients for Korean “fire meat.”

Tomorrow we diet.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

Boogie Wonderland

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Last night, after a dinner party with friends, and an alcohol-impaired session of the Name Game, our group went dancing. I love to dance, and as you get older, your opportunities become limited to weddings and bar-mitzvahs. When I read about the recent opening of Retro Club NYC a dance club that catered to people my age, that played the music I loved, and served cosmos, I knew I’d be going sooner rather than later. There was no bouncer at the door, the entrance fee was $10, and the playlist was epic. I’ll be back.

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I often feel like a kid in a candy store living in NYC, but this week I witnessed actual kids in a candy store at Economy Candy. I was there filling up the senbei jar that I keep on my kitchen counter, and the door opened, and a class trip came streaming in. The squeals were at a decibel I haven’t heard in a while. I’m not known to squeal, but I could relate to their excitement. It’s how I feel when a new restaurant opens in my neighborhood, like BoucherieTender Greens, and Simon and the Whale or when I walk down a street I haven’t yet discovered, and it’s a gold mine.

This week I had a plan to visit H Mart to buy my favorite Japanese mayonnaise, Kewpie (I promise, buy Kewpie and you’ll never buy Hellman’s again). Normally, I walk up Broadway, but that day, I was coming from the subway on Park. Walking on 32nd street, which is officially Koreatown, I was astounded by the depth and breadth of Asian culinary options. I can’t recommend any yet, but my son works in the neighborhood, and I’m going to make it a point of meeting him for lunch more often.

While wandering on Prince Street, I was so excited to see that Allbirds opened a shop in NYC. I LOVE their wool sneakers and wear them whenever I have a lot of walking in my day. They come in many fun colors, and a new slip on version. Up until a few months ago, you could only order online. If you go to the store wearing your Allbirds, they give you a pair of new shoelaces (in fun colors) for free.

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A highlight of the week was attending the Global Girls Glow celebration after their presentation at the UN for the Commission on the Status of Women . Global Glow was founded by my friend Kylie Schuyler and works on breaking barriers to education and success for young girls. They currently work with over 6000 girls in 27 countries. I am so proud of the work they are doing, and it was a privilege to hear some of the girls tell their story.

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And speaking of fun charity events, I want to tell you about a delicious event coming up on April 16th. I’m on the advisory board of the Bronx Academy of Letters  a public school in the poorest congressional district in the US. I help the high school seniors write their college essays, as well as fund raise for the school.  Every year our honorary chairperson, Anthony Bourdain gathers the best NYC chefs to come and cook for 500 of our friends. Please consider buying a ticket and joining us for an amazing night!

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Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

I Do.

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One of the things I love about living in NYC is that at some point, friends who live far and wide arrive for one reason or another (this week it was a Haiku event, college tours and a 50th birthday). These short, but oh so sweet meetups are the best excuse for dining out and drinking on weekdays. And this week was no exception. There was a dinner at Nur which is always a dining experience. The chef is Israeli, and the dishes are exotic. They use ingredients that I’ve never heard of, so it makes eating here an adventure. Make sure to book ahead (way ahead). Moving from the Middle East to the Far East, our group had a delicious meal at Atoboy a newish Korean restaurant from an adorable young Korean couple who are about to open another restaurant, Atomix this spring. This is the perfect place to go with a group (they max out at 6), but the menu is divided into three sections, and each person chooses one from each group. Go with six people, and you can order one of everything on the menu and share.

Thursday happy hour found me at Mari Vanna an authentic Russian restaurant across the street from my apartment. You can sit at the bar and enjoy their blinis and caviar for $14 (it’s much more expensive at dinner). They also make a mean lychee martini.

Friday night, Tom and I went to see Carousel on Broadway. The opening is still a week away, but the theater was packed and on their feet for the curtain calls. Jessie Mueller (Beautiful, Waitress) and Joshua Henry (Aaron Burr in the first US tour of Hamilton) are superb. The dancing is just as good as the singing, and the young girl who plays their daughter is also a soloist in the New York City ballet, and this is her Broadway debut. That being said, the show is incredibly sexist, and I found it unsettling. When Billy Bigelow dies, I wanted to scream “Yes! You’re better off without him!” I know this show has been revived many times on Broadway, but in today’s #metoo world, it just doesn’t hold up; in fact, it’s insulting.

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Weekend brunch was at Left Bank a recommendation from a friend. It’s far west Soho, in a really cute neighborhood that I don’t often find myself. The restaurant had a great vibe, warm, and inviting, and I wanted to order one of everything on the menu. Their brunch offerings go outside the norm, with choices like sweet or savory Dutch Baby (see below), and pot roast, eggs, and potato latkes. I will return.

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Saturday night Tom and I sat in a candlelit place of worship watching as two young, fresh people said I do. I adore everything about weddings. The pomp, the circumstance, the toasts, the overflowing champagne, and of course the love. There is no other event in life where the star of the show is love.

As I write the last few sentences of this blog, the sun is streaming through my windows (reminding me to call the cleaner). It’s been a long and cold winter, but with daylight savings today, I can almost feel spring in the air. It makes me want to start making a list of all the outdoor cafes and rooftops bars I need to visit!

Have fun. Be bold.

 

 

 

Points of View

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I have no business hanging out in FiDi. I have no job that takes me there, nor any other reason to take the 6 train to Fulton Street, and yet I find myself returning time and again. It could be the unparalleled view from The Bar Room at Temple Court, or the rosé gummie bears and other assorted alcohol-infused candies they sell at Sugarfina in the Oculus,  or the “feels like Paris” vibe of Augustine it’s an area I suggest adding to any NYC itinerary.

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At the beginning of the week, the weather allowed for a quick walk with a friend on the bridal path in Central Park. We didn’t have much time, so we entered the park at 85th and 5th and walked up to 96th. You get a “big bang for the buck” on the quick trip as the view is breathtaking and you can stop in for a brekkie board and a flat white at Blue Stone Lane on East 90th Street inside the Church of the Heavenly Rest.

I met up with a friend from out of town at Danji for lunch. Danji is one of my “go to” spots for a pre-theater dinner in Midtown, and now they are open for lunch. I can’t say enough about the bibimbap set. It was delicious and economical too. Make a reservation as it was packed!IMG_7829

This week I got a request for a hotel recommendation in the city that wasn’t too expensive for parents and teens to stay together while looking at colleges. I suggested the new Freehand Hotel, but I would also recommend reading this article for more suggestions throughout the city.  Have you heard about the new Recharge app? You can book luxury hotels by the minute. In a recent article about the app, the writer suggested using the app for nursing mothers and people on business trips between meetings. Strangely enough, it didn’t mention the most obvious of uses. It seems these days, there’s an app for everything.

I spent most of the weekend at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference (SCBWI) at the Grand Hyatt so there was no time for brunch. Instead, I’ll mention my yummy lunch at UrbanSpace. I often find myself dining and dashing at many of their delicious vendors while in Midtown. On Saturday I ate at Mr. Bing; a new addition to the UrbanSpace food market. I chose the Peking Duck Beijing pancake medium spicy. I relished every bite and could have shared it with a friend, the portion was so large. IMG_7837

Saturday night I had a reservation at Tokyo Record Bar. You might have already heard about this place as it’s super-buzzy right now. It’s on MacDougal in the West Village in the basement of a brownstone building (their upstairs neighbor is the bubbly Air’s Champagne Parlor a current favorite of mine.) You need to get a reservation at Tokyo Record Bar, stat. They only have two seatings a night, 6:30 and 10:30 and they offer a tasting menu for $50/pp. I don’t want to give away too much, but let’s just say that after dessert, they bring out a large cheese pizza for gluten fans and french fries for the gluten-free. Go. IMG_7853

Tom and I ended the week at a high-calorie, super fun Superbowl party back in Rye. No matter how many adventures #emptynestnyc is having living in the city, it’s always important to remember where you came from and the people who are important in your life.

Have fun. Be bold.

Can you take criticism from a millennial?

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This is a piece from the David Hockney exhibit at the Met, which I have to admit I enjoyed more than the Michelangelo. Hockney is my official new favorite living artist. It’s a “to do list” must.

A few blog entries ago, I mentioned that this emptynester was about to embark on a search for a full-time job and that there may be some funny tales to tell along the way. With the amazing help of Anne Finnegan of Prep Your Path  who was able to take bits and pieces of my life for the past thirty years and tell a story, I was able to set forth on the path to employment. I was sort of hoping there would be a few anecdotes, otherwise, it would mean that all I did was send my resume out into the ether without ever hearing back. Well, this week I got a match on a job I applied for on Angel List a site for start-ups looking to fill positions. I decided to go the start-up route because if I’m going to go back to work, I want to be surrounded by young people where we can have FUN. I haven’t been on a job interview since 1988 when a movie cost $3.50, Prozac was first introduced and Wrigley Field finally got lights. I may have been a bit rusty. But, after 45 minutes of questions, none of which I didn’t have an answer for (Tom says talking is one of my strong points), the interview ended with the question, Can you take criticism from a millennial? My answer? With four millennial children, it happens on a regular basis. No problem.

The rest of the week I focused on non-work related activities which not surprisingly included eating with friends and this week I was lucky to see many old Tokyo friends who happened to be in New York. There was a delicious lunch at Loring Place Dan Kluger’s newish spot (former chef at ABC Kitchen). It was my second time eating his food, and I enjoyed it just as much. Another fabulous lunch was at Atla which is gourmet Mexican. The dining room is very modern filled with light in a great spot in Noho for people watching. The only issue I had was that I made a reservation for 12:30 and breakfast ran until 1 when lunch began. If I wanted to order from the lunch menu, I had to wait until 1. So if you book for lunch make sure it’s from 1 pm. It really was delicious!

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On Tuesday night Tom and I had tickets to a cabaret night at Feinstein’s 54 Below to see one of our son’s elementary school friend’s show. Jen Damiano is a Tony-nominated Broadway actress who has had a prolific career, and she’s only 26! It was fun to hear her tell her life story through song. It’s just amazing to see kids we knew when they were young out there in the world following their dreams. I highly recommend the venue as well. Intimate, but not too small right in the heart of the theater district.

Have you used the Arro app? It makes paying for NYC taxis as easy as uber. Download the app and enter your information. Then, next time you are in a cab, look on the screen that plays the annoying clips, and you’ll find the “pay and pair” number and enter it into your app, and it will automatically charge your app. You can also use it to hire taxis without surge pricing, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

A new must-visit restaurant opened in my neighborhood called Atoboy . Don’t get it confused with the very hot cocktail bar on the lower east side with the same name. This is the restaurant in Nomad. It’s Korean, but not BBQ. When you walk inside it feels a bit dystopian, but that just lets the food tell the story. And it’s a very delicious story. The menu consists of three sections of six small plates. You choose any three for $42. We were a party of four and so we ordered four different plates from each section and shared. EVERYTHING was awesome. It’s hard to get a reservation so book now for next month.

A new hotel has opened in my neighborhood that allows for multiple guests for a reasonable rate. It also has a great communal space and a very interesting restaurant. This summer my niece is getting married in Brooklyn, and I’ll recommend the hotel for out of town guests. Check out this bunk room in The Freehand Hotel. Super cool and convenient!

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The Michelangelo exhibit at the MET has been on my to-do list since it opened, and Tom and I finally made it there this week. The exhibit was so crowded it was sort of hard to enjoy, however, it’s hard not to stare in awe. One of the first pieces you encounter is a small sculpture of an archer that he carved from a single block of marble…when he was a teenager! I don’t know about your kids when they were teens, but I’d say he was quite the overachiever. And the exhibit also has its own Sistine Chapel. Tom and I both have visited in Rome, but not together. I was lucky enough to see it with my kids. Tom was with Joey Petrosinelli back in 1988. So here we are together, faking it until we hopefully see it one day together.

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We were starving after seeing so many priceless works of art, so we stopped for lunch and a glass of champagne at the Petrie Court Cafe which overlooks Central Park. The food is ok, but the view is fabulous and walking on cement can be tough on the lower back. After lunch, we walked through the park entering at 79th with a brief stop at the Belvedere Castle and before long we popped out on Central Park West. I look forward to spring when that walk will be in full bloom.

We had dinner with friends in from Westchester at Shuka a new Mediterranean restaurant on the border of Soho and the West Village on MacDougal.  Schwarma and kebabs, tagine and vegetable hummus. Spicy tequila drinks. Great vibe, reasonable. Fun.

And the weekend ended in Bushwick at one of my favorite places for Brunch with a group, Win Son a delicious spot for Taiwanese food. Reserve one of the round tables in the window with the lazy susan. Order one of everything.

That’s all for today. I’ve been inside my apartment writing and editing, and the sun is almost about to set. I have to get outside before it does!

Have fun. Be bold.