Summer Statistics

Nantucket Lighthouse
Photo Cred: Libhop

It’s not the end of summer; it’s the beginning of fall.

I haven’t written in a few weeks, because on top of travel, this is my BUSY season, as my “real” job is helping high school seniors with their college application essays. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t squeeze in some serious summer emptynestering.

Tom and I shuttled up to Boston for a welcome home party in Hingham. Friends of ours from Tokyo had just returned home from a seven month around the world trip with their two teenage boys (yes, I said teenage boys) and I was so excited to hear all about the journey. Maria will be a guest on my blog this fall talking about the experience. I especially liked the fact that there was some serious macrame pool cover-up action at the party.

The following week we spent two nights in Philly moving our daughter back to college. The more time I spend in Philly, the more time I like it. It has an edge that second cities don’t often have, and a long list of varying neighborhoods. Not to mention it is a food lovers city. The first night we ate at Vedge. The website calls it “a vegetable restaurant” and it exceeded expectations. The food is both delicious and gorgeous. And it has a great vibe at the bar too.

The second night, we returned to one of our favorites, Zahav a modern Israeli restaurant that never disappoints. Pita and hummus for days…They take reservations 60 days in advance, and you’ll need to do that if you want to eat here.IMG_3425

The next day we scoured the thrift shops in search of just the right eclectic touch for Annie’s new room. We had a lot to choose from at The Strange and Unusual.

Despite the selection of stuffed game, they had a nice array of antique mirrors, which was on our list. I fell in love with the neighborhood. Next time I’m back, I’m going to canvas it some more. We stopped for a small bite at The Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. When the check comes, it arrives with a bag of warm homemade chocolate chip cookies.

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And then finally, we celebrated the end of summer in Nantucket with a Tokyo friends reunion where we played games, told stories, swam in the ocean, rode the bull, watched for shooting stars, and genuinely enjoyed being together.

A few of my favorite finds this summer:

Silver Mirror Facial Bar  – my new go to spot for my favorite dermaplaning treatment! Right now it’s on the UES, but they are opening a new location in Flatiron – yeah!

Stretch’d  OMG. This place is on my block! I go once a week for the quickie, and walk out an inch taller, and able to twist my neck all the way to my shoulders. They also sell great products with CBD oil!

It’s hard to believe that summer is really over when you are sweating bullets on the subway in 91-degree weather, but sweater weather will be here soon, and in my opinion, there is no better season in NYC. I think I’m going to make my Fall To Do list right now.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Expat Eyes

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When you live in a foreign country, you see it through expat eyes. It’s a special lens which allows you to see things that natives don’t see. When I lived in Tokyo, I was fascinated with all sorts of things that the Japanese people took for granted, and didn’t find particularly interesting, like vending machines, bathroom slippers, automatic doors, the lack of garbage cans on streets, the wrapping of packages ( I could go on and on…). When I returned to my native land of NYC, I was determined to bring my expat eyes with me, but what I’ve realized recently is that although I have a carpe diem attitude, it isn’t the same thing. This realization came on Wednesday when I had plans with my Australian friend who is an expat in New York. It was a rainy day, and she had a few suggestions of how we should spend it. The first was to get something to eat in Grand Central in the Noma foodcourt. I had no clue what she was talking about until we arrived. I had dashed by it many times, rushing to get through Grand Central and had no idea that it was a Claus Meyer venture, a co-founder of Noma, a ground-breaking restaurant in Copenhagen. I love sitting and talking to Wendy because she always has good ideas and interesting observations about life in NYC.

After lunch, we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to watch a free film, which Wendy had signed up for online. I had no idea you could see movies at the MOMA. We watched Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House in a packed luxurious theater. It was a fun look at New York City in the 40’s.

 

On Thursday, an absolutely beautiful day, a friend and I walked downtown in search of a place to eat outside. We found ourselves at The Wren on the Bowery. I’ve been to the Wren before for lunch and brunch, and I highly recommend it. However, I wouldn’t recommend going for drinks. Cocktail hour it’s packed with kids that were born in the mid-90’s. From there we walked down the Bowery to Prince Street and walked through Soho stopping at a new store I’m totally obsessed with, The Eight Senses.  Around the corner, we met up with Toni, the owner of Olives, and a good friend of my friend Lisa. She brought out her two beautiful dogs and we hung out on the sidewalk in the sun talking and catching up, constantly being stopped by people who wanted to pet her adorable baby pug, Dumbledore.

Friday night we had dinner with friends at Salinas a warm and cozy tapas restaurant on 9th Avenue in Chelsea. The space has several small dining rooms, an inviting bar and delicious food. The weather had turned colder that night and luckily our dining room had a nice fireplace. After dinner, we walked over to Milk Bar to get a baby birthday cake shake.

Saturday we had tickets to the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous and it was a great day to walk the garden grounds. Admitedly, we are a bit spoiled as we lived in Japan for six years and have been to real deal Hanami parties, but it was still fun to take pictures under the pedals, and watch the festival goers let their freak flags fly. Japanese festivals seem to be an invitation to let loose and dress up, which I love.

Coffee Shop has been around forever (the owner is a former model and married to music producer Jellybean Benitez – Madonna’s old boyfriend) and is a great backup spot if you are in Union Square and you want to eat outside. The food is decent and the people watching is ideal. It’s known for it’s beautiful staff, which makes waiting for a table more enjoyable. Tom and I had a late lunch and felt so happy to be eating outside in the neighborhood.

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Saturday night it was time to put on our dancing shoes, or in my case, my van high tops. Dinner was at Barbounia a fun place to go with a group in Gramercy. Their flatbreads are HUGE.IMG_9319

We had an after-dinner drink at my favorite place to people watch Mari Vanna and then it was off to Retro Club NYC where I’d reserved a table and invited a group of disco-loving friends. We danced and sang and jumped up and down until the wee hours. It’s amazing how the words to songs like It’s Raining Men, The Dancing Queen, and Disco Inferno come right back.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Dermaplane: The Muffin of Beauty Secrets

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Muffins allow us to eat cake at breakfast without guilt. It’s the same idea with dermaplaning. I can have my face shaved without admitting that I shave my face. I’ve been dermaplaning since I lived in Japan – Japanese women have been shaving for years, and they have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. When I mention this beauty secret to friends, they’re perplexed. Almost no one I know in New York has ever done it. I go to Wynter at Bare Beauty about once a month, and I walk out without any facial hair and a layer of dead skin removed. I highly recommend it.

Another fun Japanese find is my recent discovery of a Spanail location in Soho! Spanail has over 70 locations in Japan, and they are the absolute best in nail art and gel nails. And the service is very Japanese. They take their time, and you never feel like you are being rushed out the door. And, you can get sushi nails, so there’s a reason to go!

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You might notice that the look of the blog has changed since last week, and that’s because many readers have been asking for a way to quickly search for specific info. It’s still a work in progress, but at least you can now click on a specific category, or do a general search at the top of the blog. I hope you find it easier to navigate.

Last week’s blog on pizza was my most read blog EVER (times five!) Pizza will have to be a continuing feature at #emptynestnyc. I did have one of the best pizzas I had in a long time last week at Rubirosa if you go, get the vodka pie. I had friends in from Tokyo last week, and we celebrated an 18th birthday. This celebration was an all-day affair and included milkshakes at Black Tap,

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shopping in Nolita on Prince Street between the Bowery and Lafayette; my favorite block in NYC for small boutique shopping. Make sure you include side streets like Mott and Mulberry off of Prince. An entire day could be spent winding up and down this neighborhood.

We had a hilarious night at the Drag show LIPS.

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It’s the perfect place to celebrate a birthday with women. However, if you can book just for the show, I would skip the dinner. From there we took the birthday girl to sing karaoke at our favorite neighborhood spot Karaoke17.  The night ended with birthday cake and french fries at L’Express a decent French brasserie that is open 24/7. It’s a great place to have in your late night repertoire.

Last Saturday, when it felt like spring might be here, Tom and I went out to Brooklyn for an unplanned brunch. We had a destination – Williamsburg, but no place in mind. We ended up at Fette Sau a bbq shack in an old auto body shop. It’s been open for over ten years, and it’s not surprising. Great food, indoor/outdoor dining, with a full bar. Afterwards, we walked over to Milkbar for birthday cake shakes and chocolate pretzel soft serve, and ended the afternoon shopping for junk at Mother of Junk.

 

On Sunday, our nest was FULL for Easter dinner with our kids and their friends. I made a delicious lamb shoulder that I bought at the butcher at Eataly  and slowly roasted in the oven for seven hours, and served it with spinach pies I found at International Grocery.

Even though it’s April, it still feels like winter. I stand in my closet each morning, looking longingly at my cute skirts, and flats, wondering when I can put away the sweaters and turtlenecks, and drop all my boots off at Romano Cobbler.

Hopefully, next week’s blog will have some signs of springtime.

Have fun. Be bold.

 

Snowboots and Sunscreen: Spring in NYC

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The week started with lunch on Monday at La Mercerie a retail restaurant in Soho created by the team behind Le Coucou (my favorite restaurant in NYC). I went with two friends who are home stagers, who love all things design related. It was packed with fashionable diners, the food was good (but don’t come hungry as the portions are small), but the star was the bottle of rose we drank. It was delicious and very reasonable. The home store selections were fabulous, but the prices were so high they were almost laughable. I’m not sure who will shop here, but it’s fun to walk around after you eat.

On our walk back up town, we stopped in Canadian clothing store, Oak and Fort. The clothes are fashion-forward, reasonably priced and age appropriate for empty nesters. That night, Tom and I went to the Nets game at the Barclays Center – our tickets, purchased from our seat filler club Play by Play were $4.50.

On Tuesday, I went on a yummy walking tour in Astoria with Angelis from In Food We Trust. I’d been on another one of his tours at the MET, and this one was just as good.  His tour begins at 2 pm and includes a ridiculous amount of food. If you go, make sure you skip lunch first.

And then Wednesday, the first day of spring, we got pounded with snow, again. Walking the empty snow-filled streets, I was amazed to see many stores closed due to the snow. Thankfully, Breads Bakery was open, and it was my luck they’d just introduced their matzoh ball soup, special for Passover. It was the perfect thing to eat on a snowy day. IMG_8478

I had a hilarious late Friday lunch at Marta with my friend Kim Berns the stand-up comedian. The restaurant is located in the Redbury Hotel and was jammed. It’s a great place to meet up with friends when you are looking for a casual place in midtown. The location is officially in NoMad, but it’s a quick walk from Grand Central.

Saturday I participated in my first march ever together with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. I’m not a fan of crowds and stay away from packed concerts and festivals, but I felt spurred to action. Marching with Tokyo friends and our daughters, I was so happy to be there, and my intrinsic fear melted away.

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From the march, we went to The Affordable Art Fair. If I had more empty walls, I would have had a big shopping day. The creativity was off the charts. The stormtrooper/Buddha was for sale, as were virtual bookshelves and chairs made from the metal tops on champagne bottles.

After all our walking, we were thirsty and stopped in to Beechers Handmade Cheese for happy hour (which is a daily event at Beechers). Wine and a cheese plate were exactly what was needed. Each piece of cheese was paired with a different add-on, from dark chocolate to candied walnuts.

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Saturday night we took our two NYC kids to Pinch Chinese in Soho. We had four seats at the bar, and we ate our way through the menu from the fabulous soup dumplings to the ribs. pork belly, whole sea bass, ma po tofu, string beans with pork, and wagyu fried rice (two orders). The food was so good. I was happy to find a new spot in Soho, as I feel the restaurant selection has been limited lately.  IMG_8527

 

After dinner, there were drinks at Reservoir Bar, a great place to watch the Elite 8. And then late night, on the walk home, we ducked into the AMC theater on 19th street and walked into the last showing of Love, Simon (using our Movie Pass tickets of course!)

Being an empty nester in NYC allows for spontaneity – something that hasn’t been a part of our lives for a very long time. It feels good!

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.

 

 

Paris Unplanned

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I’m laughing as I type in the title to this post because anyone who knows me knows I would never go to Paris without planning. However, I kept the scheduled activities to a minimum. Tom and I had an entire week to ourselves in Paris, and I wanted it to be as spontaneous as possible. We’d been to Paris before, both on our own, and together, which meant this time around our trip would be less about checking things off and more about going with the flow.

What was great about the trip was sleeping late, without worrying about where we had to be, as any plans I’d made always started with a lunch reservation. Some of the gastronomic highlights included the crepe complete at Breizh Cafe, the onion soup at Le Philosophes the pistachio and chocolate escargot at Du Pain et des Idees  the steak frite at Le Severo the beef bourguignon at Le 6 Paul Bert the absolute beauty of Le Grand Coeur, the carrot veloute at The Clown Bar (the pigeon pictured below, not so much), the poached egg with shaved truffles at Bistrot Belhara and the warm fuzzy feeling we had at Gaspard de la Nuit.

Of course, besides eating, shopping and drinking champagne (there was a lot of the latter), we filled our days with long walks to nowhere, which ended up including Montmartre, Luxembourg Garden, St. Germain des Pres, La Tour Eiffel, The Louis Vuitton Foundation, The Musee Rodin, Saint Chapelle, Le Marais (many times), Canal St. Martin, the Musee D’Orsay, and Conciergerie. We even had drinks at Hotel Costes with our friend Saniya, who was in town for work. I love being an ex-expat, as I find my chances of finding friends wherever I go increases ten-fold.

*One of our best nights ended with the late show of Le Crazy Horse. I loved it, but not as much as Tom. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.

About shopping, it felt like the entire city of Paris was on sale. Every store window had a “Soldes” display. If you want to come to Paris to shop, come in January/February. In addition to returning to Tom’s favorite spot to buy his funky shirts, he’s become “famous” for at Coton Doux I discovered City Pharma (aka the French Fountain of Youth). I think I am the last person on earth to learn of its treasures as it was by FAR the most crowded of any establishment Tom and I entered all week! I left with a bag full of goodies.

I truly enjoyed our unintentional week away, but…if I had to do it all again, with a little more organization (sorry, I just can’t help myself), I would create lists by arrondissement of places of interest, so that when we went to the far reaches of Paris for dinner or lunch (which we often did), I would have an idea of what I could see or do while there. In my experience, many of the new hot places to eat are not necessarily located in the most central of locations.

One of the things I like most about traveling is the research I do leading up to a trip. Of course, I ask friends who’ve been many times which is a great resource, but I also love me some boots on the ground. For that, I go to my favorite bloggers. For Paris, I’ll always ask my friend Dina for food advice. This time around, she recommended Le 6 Paul Bert and also was a big help in making a few hard to get reservations. You can follow her at www.worldfooddina.com She’s a fellow Tokyo expat, who lived in Paris before moving to New York a few years ago. She also has excellent tips for eating in NYC and Tokyo. I also love Lindsey Tramuta who blogs at www.lostincheeseland.com and is the author of the new book The New Paris a fantastic source for all things Paris. And lastly, I love reading Sara Leiberman’s newsletter Overthinking It.

Here are some snaps of our winter week in Paris. I’m sure people questioned our decision to go in winter, but Paris is beautiful any time of year, and there is nowhere more romantic to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Merci beaucoup to D’anna for making the week possible.

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.