I’ve made the move from blog to newsletter and I think you’re going to like it! Click below to sign up for bi-weekly newsletters about all things NYC!
I’ve made the move from blog to newsletter and I think you’re going to like it! Click below to sign up for bi-weekly newsletters about all things NYC!
Since I started writing this blog, I’ve tried to post a new entry every week, usually on a Sunday afternoon. And for the most part, I’ve been successful. But, if you are a loyal reader, you’ll realize it’s been a while since we’ve talked. And I have a handful of excellent reasons why. I won’t bore you with the details, but in a sentence or two, I found out I have to move out of my apartment, I’ve reactivated my dormant search for gainful employment, and I am currently taking a week to do nothing more than sitting and swinging in the Bahamas. I’ve also decided, to pivot from blog to newsletter after a very informative lunch with my friend Cozy at Forty Carrots in the flagship Bloomingdale’s store on 59th street. Forty Carrots has been around forever and is a great spot to know about if you are hungry in midtown. The newsletter will be a quicker, easier read, and will show up in your inbox when I have something fun and interesting to share regarding things to do, people to see, places to eat and drink and anything else I think my emptynester friends might find worthy.
Here are some of the highlights of the past few weeks:
I thoroughly enjoyed Hilary and Clinton on Broadway. Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow make you feel like you are watching the real Clintons. Also, you don’t have to be a fan of Hilary to enjoy it – actually if you are a huge fan, you might not. I think it’s a limited run, so get tickets now.
I went to see the Basquiat exhibit at the Brandt Foundation with my friends Syd and Rob. The tickets are free and available on the website, but there is a waitlist. Just sign up for multiple dates, and you’re bound to get in.
My friend Kathy hosted my first EmptynestNYC event at her fabulous apartment in Chelsea. I got to share all my tips and hints with fifteen great women who are either emptynesters now or will be in the next year or so. It was such a fun night of community and sisterhood. I’ve added a link to my fun little postcard at the bottom of this blog with all sorts of great ideas for what’s coming in Spring/Summer 2019 in NYC. For more info on what’s going on around town, you might want to sign up for this amazing New York Times Summer in the City newsletter.
I took a very long walk around Central Park at the height of cherry blossom season with my friend Marybeth, and it was magical. My new apartment is only a few blocks from both Central Park and Riverside Park, and this is one of the things I am most looking forward to regarding my move uptown.
And last, but definitely not least, I have a new favorite spot for cocktailing. I’d read about Dead Rabbit many times. It’s a favorite watering hole of many FIDI peeps (Financial District). The problem is that it’s in the financial district, so sort of out of the way. But I had an appointment on Friday afternoon, and it was only a few minutes walk. It has everything a good bar should have – some sordid history, low ceilings, and a cozy feel, great cocktails, nice selection of bar food and a mix of age groups.
Have fun. Be bold.
Little things can mean so much.
It was just your typical brass nameplate placed haphazardly on a desk, the same as the hundreds of others in the massive open plan office space on the far west side of the city. But, to me it meant everything. My oldest child Thomas works at Apple in San Francisco. When he first started working there, Tom and I went to visit, and due to the stringent visitation rules, we met him in the lobby, took pictures in front of the Apple logo, and ate in the very impressive cafeteria. I was, and still am, extremely proud, however, when I try to construct a picture in my mind of him at work, things get a little fuzzy.
When my second son Hayden started work in June 2016 in Herald Square, I was thrilled he was so close by, and we would meet every so often for lunch. But, I never saw his desk, or met the people he worked with, and although I was proud, again, I couldn’t picture my boy at work.
This week I got an invite to visit Hayden at his new office, and have lunch in his cafeteria. It seems silly writing this, but seeing that nameplate just meant everything to me. It said that for all intents and purposes, I had done my job. He was a fully formed human, out in the world, responsible for himself and beholden to others. Now, when I get a text from him mid-day, I can picture him in his seat, or walking the long rows of other desks, and even ordering a chopped salad in his cafeteria. I think I’ll insist when next I’m in SF.
I saw this the other day, and it struck me as pure wisdom. I eat out a lot, but I realize that it matters less what the food tastes like if you are sitting with the right people, and vice versa. #foodforthought
Speaking of #foodforthought, I’d like to invite all my readers to come to one of the most delicious fundraisers in NYC. Wednesday, March 6th at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, The Bronx Letters Foundation will hold it’s annual Chefs’ Tasting Food for Thought Benefit. Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin will be the night’s host, we will celebrate the life of our Patron Saint, Anthony Bourdain who helped us raise funds for our public school in the Bronx for the past ten years, and we will honor our past principal and the current Senior Education Advisor in the NYC Mayor’s Office, Brandon Cardet-Hernandez.
Some of the best chefs in NYC will be there to cook! You can still buy tickets here. Trust me, this event can cause some of the worst #foodieFOMO.
I went to see the new Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum this week. My tip: buy the timed tickets ahead, and go alone. This exhibit is dense. There is so much to see, and read. It’s the perfect way to spend a few hours to yourself. I discovered a new fabulous app while at the museum. It’s called ASK. Download it on your phone, take a picture of something you see in the museum, and ask your questions directly to the staff sitting in a room in the basement (I asked if it was AI or real people) waiting to answer. The team consists of an archaeologist, and anthropologist, as well as art historians and educators.
And eat in their restaurant, The Norm. The menu is Frida inspired and quite delicious. I first became obsessed with Frida when I read The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver and my fascination continued when I saw Mercedes Ruehl play her at the theater in Sag Harbor a gozillion summers ago. One of my favorite quotes of hers (although I have many), “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
She was comparing the love of her life to when she was hit by a bus.
I can taste the spring in the waning winter days. But if it doesn’t come soon, I may purchase one of these.
Go see Network on Broadway. Bryan Cranston is fabulous. I bought the partial view last minute tickets on SeatGeek in Row E for $75, and I was very pleased with my purchase. There are so many monitors on display; you don’t miss much.
I am looking forward to seeing the premiere of the final season of Catastrophe at an upcoming NYTimesTalk. The show is hilarious and authentic. I’m sad that this will be the last season but thrilled to “meet” Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan in person.
One last discovery of the week: Dr. Hilary Brenner! I never needed a podiatrist before I moved to NYC, but walking 5 miles everyday can be a killer on your feet. She takes insurance, her office is a one minute walk from the 4,5 Fulton Street stop, and she’s adorable.
The good news? March begins on Friday. I think we can say we officially made it through another NYC winter.
Have fun. Be bold.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American.”
I’m pretty sure he could have been talking about the American expat writer, Sara Lieberman. Sara came to live in Paris almost on a whim, which I think is just the best way to move to Paris. The story goes (and I may get some of the details wrong because she told it to me over several glasses of wine), that after wrapping up a year in London writing for UK’s most-read Sunday glossy Fabulous, she went to Paris to visit friends, had one of those once in a lifetime nights on the town, came home, and typed into her Facebook page, “I’m moving to Paris.” When she woke the next day to many, many excited comments from friends and family, she decided it was destiny. That was over three apartments ago.
I got to meet Sara this past January while on a spontaneous trip to the city of light. We happen to have a good friend in common, and so when I emailed asking if we could sit down over a glass of wine and talk, she said yes. I’ve been an online fan of Sara’s bi-weekly newsletter, Overthinking It for a while, and I’ve always felt that if we met in real life, we’d be fast friends, and I was right! Her writing voice is completely authentic to who she is in person.
If you aren’t acquainted with her newsletter, which you absolutely should be (click on the link above to sign up), odds are you have read her writing in some of the best magazines and newspapers around the globe. If you’ve used Google to find information about visiting Paris concerning style, food, beauty, fashion, nightlife, pop culture or entertainment, you’ve “met” Sara. You can read some of her best pieces here.
I love Paris. It is the first city in Europe I chose to visit when I was 18, it was the city I studied abroad in, and it was where I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. If I die without ever living there, it will be one of my regrets. So having the opportunity to speak to a fellow writer, New Yorker, and expat was a thrill. Here is a smattering of some of the soundbites from our conversation…
“In Paris, you’ll always have to ask for a menu, a glass of water, to order, and for a bill.”
“Dairy is very confusing. The cheese and the yogurt have so many complexities.”
“Paris is actually affordable, more than NYC. Utilities are low, and you can have a great three-course meal for 20 euro with tax and tip included.”
“For first-time visitors, planning is everything. You can’t just pop in anywhere and expect to get a good meal. You need to do your research. You are not going to get that amazing cup of coffee or the unforgettable steak frites at any terrace on the street. Make reservations, and know when places are open and closed.”
“Walk or take the bus and look around.”
“Take a risk. Find a new neighborhood. Stay somewhere new.”
“Paris is small, much smaller than NYC. First, cut the city into left and right. Going across banks by public transport is not easy, and requires a transfer.”
As an ex-expat, I asked Sara what she missed about living away from home.
“Bagels, pizza. I’ve had good pizza here, but it’s more of a restaurant outing and not a snack like in NYC. I miss the idea of the customer always being right. The French have not figured out customer service, and they say no a lot. Returns are always an issue. They are big into their policies, so always check them out before making a purchase.”
Sara’s blog is called Overthinking It, and I asked her why?
“I’m a bad decision maker. Part of me is super shameless, and I tend to overshare about everything, but on the same level, I’m conscious of what people think of me, and that makes me overthink.”
Her last words…
“When visiting try to plan less, let things happen more. Because sometimes the best nights are when you have no plans.”
I texted Sara throughout my stay, and she recommended some of my new favorites places like Ellsworth, a real gem. When I asked for an authentic brasserie, she suggested Bofinger, and it was exactly what I was looking for. She was so on point, I asked if she ever did bespoke, customized experiences for curious, adventurous travelers, and she said to send them her way. So if you are interested in an insider scoop through the lens of a seasoned New Yorker, consider hiring Sara. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merci mon ami!
Have fun. Be Bold.
In this Sunday’s NY Times (aka my activity bible), I read an article in the travel section entitled How To Up The Spontaneity Quotient On Your Next Trip. This spoke to me because truth be told I am a planner and have been guilty of overplanning. But I am always looking for the middle ground, the happy medium between not missing out on the “must do, eat, see” things, and finding that hidden local place that you’ll think about for years to come. Reading the article also made me think about my everyday life in NYC. I subscribe to oodles of websites and receive emails all day every day informing me of the “next best everything,” and these emails inform my decisions. But I also spend time wandering unknown neighborhoods snapping pictures of places I want to return to the next time I’m nearby. I am going to make it a goal of mine to consciously practice deliberate spontaneity by going on more “missions” and talking to more people I don’t know.
Monday I had lunch at Pastaio di Eataly, the new restaurant addition to the flagship Eataly on 23rd Street. I’m a fan of eating at the bar, and this is one long bar that curves around a butcher block where fresh pasta is made. It’s like watching art. Everything was fabulous.
Have you been to the Museum of the City of New York? I’d never been, but after my visit last week I will return. I went to see an exhibit called Rebel Women. It was fascinating! Turns out there were female badasses all the way back to the early 1800’s. The museum has a fabulous gift shop that changes 1/3 of their offerings with every exhibit. I spent just as much time in the shop as in the museum, and I managed to cross off a few Christmas gifts on my list. Walking from the museum on 5th Avenue and 103rd, I found the end of Park Avenue at 96th street. It stopped me in my tracks.
I love my book club. It was started about a year ago when I moved back to the city, and a friend and I decided to start one. I’ve always found community when sitting with a glass of wine in my hand and a book as the basis of discussion. Our book club is a day time event, and the host changes every month. If you host, you pick the book and you serve what you like. This month, the book was a controversial choice, Undone. The host chose it because she is good friends with the author, John Colapinto and he agreed to join us (hence the change to evening) for a glass of wine and a spirited discussion. John is a well-known established non-fiction writer, and this book was a diversion from his typical subject matter. I felt a little sorry for him as we discussed the book for an hour before he arrived – it was almost like he was thrown to the wine-soaked wolves. Without turning this blog into a book review, I’ll say that John’s a great writer and I kept turning the pages. You might want to read for your self…
I just want to say again how I, along with every other NYC resident and transit employee was NOT READY for this.
I know there are a million poke spots in NYC, but I will walk way out of my way to eat here. If you find yourself in Chelsea, check out Wisefish Poke.
Saturday night we booked a table with friends at the Cafe Carlyle a classic NYC institution. The last time Tom and I had been, Bobby Short was alive and tickling the ivories. Bemelman’s Bar was packed, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. There was a ton of glam, vat-sized martinis, and the show was great.
I’m typing this blog as I wait for Amazon Fresh to deliver all my Thanksgiving needs (they are now officially 3 hours and 20 minutes past the deadline and say they won’t deliver) but my refrigerator is spotless and mostly empty, waiting for the arrival. My kids fly and train into the coop tonight, but I have reserved a very fun double bunk room for the four of them at the Freehand Hotel (a five-minute walk from the apartment), so there will be no dirty towels left on the floor of my guest bathroom. I think they are pretty excited to bunk up together too.
I wish you all a very festive feast, and hopefully, there won’t be too much discussion around your table about politics and climate change, because those will only ruin your appetite. Take a break from the negativity for a bit and enjoy all the good things that bring you and the people you share your meal with together.
Have fun. Be bold.
Not yet Emptynesters, Craig & Maria Bromley decide not to wait to take their adventure of a lifetime, and instead bring their teenage boys (and tutor) around the world for seven months, hitting five continents and twenty-four countries.
When I first heard Maria’s plans for this trip we were sitting outside in Bryant Park drinking rose at the end of last summer. I thought she was joking. Or, if not joking, then it was something she was thinking of doing when the kids went off to college. I didn’t think about it again until I saw her Facebook picture below saying they were off for seven months. I should know better when it comes to Maria. She embodies Go Big or Go Home.
Maria was good about posting from time to time on Facebook, and she also wrote a few very interesting blog posts. But when she returned home this summer, I needed more info so I went to see her in Hingham, Ma. where she lives when not globetrotting. We sat down over several cocktails and I asked her all my questions. I thought my readers might find this story interesting. I know I did.
Ok, give me the details.
We started our journey in South America. I wanted to see the “Seven Wonders of the World,” so we started in Peru at Machu Picchu. We spent a month in Peru, then traveled to Argentina and Brazil. We tried to time our travels based on things like the weather and the special events that were happening. We planned Carnival in Rio, and Cherry Blossom season in Japan, but other events like Holi festival in India and the World Cup in Croatia were fortuitous. We had planned to go to Africa after South America because Craig wanted to see the “great migration” of wildebeests which was not happening until early June, so we changed our route and went to Dubai after Brazil. After Dubai, we visited Jordan, India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. From there it was straight to Tokyo for Sakura and visits with old friends. From Tokyo, we stopped in Korea and China. By that time, it was early May, so we headed to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, and Tanzania. We managed to time the great migration so well that the wildebeests trampled past our tent in the Serengeti the last night we were there…literally thousands of them! From there we went to Zanzibar, which always sounded so exotic to me and appropriately, is the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. We left Africa, with African dust on our feet and in our hearts and headed to Europe. From there we went to Germany and then headed east. We road-tripped through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. By this time it was mid-July, and we had enjoyed plenty of “together time” so, we all chose different ways to spend the last two weeks of our adventure, one son went home, Craig and my other son went to Greece, and I went to have some alone time in Slovakia! We met up in London to celebrate our last night, and all arrived safely home on July 28!
My head is spinning from that itinerary. Did you stay in hotels?
We stayed in every kind of accommodation you can imagine! From a treehouse in the Amazon to AirBnB’s, which were already occupied (that’s another story)…to villas on stilts over the ocean, to hotels, to safari tents and friends’ home….you name it we stayed there.
What was your motivation to do this? Most people wouldn’t consider doing something like this with their spouse, let alone two teenage boys.
The impetus was my husband’s retirement. He wanted to do something big – like move the family to Europe – but our teenage sons were less than thrilled with that. I pitched the idea of an “adventure.” We would travel around the world to places we had never been, and when it was over, we could come back to the same home and school that the boys loved. We also felt the timing was good (not that there is ever a perfect time to pull your kids out of school…) but they were in grade 8 & 9, and we knew it wasn’t going to get easier. We wanted to reconnect with them as teenagers and as a family. We value experiences and felt travel, adventure and family time were the best things that we could offer them.
Where did you go that far exceeded your expectations?
The world is a beautiful place! It’s hard to narrow it down as each place was unique and different. We loved Peru. It felt very spiritual and magical to visit Machu Picchu. We loved Africa.
We had to be up and out of our tent by 6:30am each morning to track the wildlife. It was the one place no one complained about having to get up early. Seeing the behavior of the animals in the wild was so special. The alpha male is alive and well in the Serengeti. Finally, Croatia was amazing. It’s like the “new” Greece…unspoiled and not yet developed. It was the World Cup which brought incredible energy to every place we visited, and my daughter got engaged on this portion of the trip…so it was probably the highlight!
Was there a scary moment on the trip where you questioned your decision to go?
I never questioned our decision to go. It was the best decision we ever made. But yes, there were scary moments for sure. When we were several miles up the Amazon river in a little boat, at dusk and the engine cut out…or when we visited a little village and my boys went to see a snake in one of the local’s backyards…and when I went back to check on them they were hanging onto a massive anaconda…or in South Africa when there was a great deal of social unrest and violence very close to us…or when my son was flying home unaccompanied, and his connecting flight was cancelled and he was stranded in Heathrow by himself for over 24 hours…lots of adventure and potential danger but thankfully, nothing too serious.
What was the biggest challenge being away for so long?
I guess it was ensuring the boys kept up with their schoolwork so they could fit back into their classes when we got home. We left in January, so they completed the first half of the year at their school. For the second half of the year, the school recommended BYU online courses. We hired a tutor who traveled with us and went through the curriculum with them.
Were there any rituals or protocols you followed on the trip?
Sometimes we had routines, but other times we were very spontaneous. Most of the trip was planned ahead of time, but we left room for changes. We tried to have several hours of schoolwork a day, but if for example, we were visiting the Taj Mahal, we would make that part of the schoolwork.
We tried to balance schoolwork, travel, and fun. After visiting lots of forts and temples in India, we found a fort that had a zipline running over it which the boys loved. In Dubai, we went indoor skiing at a massive entertainment complex.
Me: What did you learn about yourself? Your marriage? Being a mom?
Craig & I learned that we have very complementary skills. I organized our visas and vaccinations. He is a big picture guy. He researched things like the great wildebeest migration and realized we needed to change our itinerary. I researched Brazil Carnival and knew I wanted to dance in it! I am good at organizational details. I had to ensure that we had all the paperwork necessary, readily accessible. When we landed in South Africa, we had to have the original birth certificates for the boys to prove we were their parents, in case of child trafficking. I was able to pull it out of my file. I think Craig & I should be contestants on the Amazing Race!
What advice would you give to people considering something like this?
Just Do It! It may seem overwhelming, but there are ways to surmount any obstacles. For example, we needed dog care during the trip for our two golden retrievers. My son told me his friend’s parents were renovating their home and needed a place to stay during the exact time we were planning to be away. The universe will provide. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Travel is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your children. EXPERIENCES OVER THINGS.
In what way do you think the boys are different from this experience and do you think it will be challenging to re-enter life in a small town in America?
They’ve already re-entered life here and are VERY happy to be back with their friends. But I think they were exposed to things outside of their bubble of small town America. When we lived in Japan, we traveled quite a bit, but they were much younger. They seem much more aware of things like social inequality after this trip. We visited favelas in Brazil, slums in Delhi and townships in Africa. We met people from all walks of life. We helped out with a video project in which we asked people we met, “what do you need for a happy life?” “What do you feel is a life with dignity?” We learned that most people really want a good education for their children, a place to call home, and personal safety….things we take for granted here. If we opened the boys’ eyes to the different lifestyles of people around the world, from the Maasai warriors to the children singing in Soweto, and taught them empathy, it will have all been worth it.
Oh, and one more thing. They each only took one bag. That might be the most astonishing part of the entire trip.
Have fun. Be bold. Like Maria!
Summer in the city is comprised of many short jaunts from one air conditioned venue to another, intermingled with cold showers. It hasn’t stopped me from getting out, and doing interesting and delicious things, but I have to admit my steps are down and my Arro, Uber, and Lyft payments are way up. I tell myself the fall is coming, and this too shall pass, but until then I”m going to keep eating Kakegori (photo below) and drinking very cold rose (I have been to the Rose Mansion twice this summer.)
I’ll admit that I’ve thumbed my nose at vegans. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl, and that applies to food as well. But my sister (a vegan) recently made a reservation at Avant Garden and if this is vegan, I’m a convert. It was honestly one of the best meals I’ve had this year. I have no idea how they do it. It’s magic. You don’t miss anything!
One of the best things about living in Flatiron is the farmer’s market that comes to Union Square four times a week (M,W,F,S). I try to buy things just at their peak and then do something with them. Below was my take on an apricot tart. It was gone by the following day.
Friends from Tokyo who now live in Australia who this past spring won a Tony for Once on This Island, have invested in a new show and Tom and I went to see it on Broadway. It is a very fun night! I recommend it for all ages (well, maybe late teens as there is a song called “I Slept With Your Mom”).
Lucky us, we snagged a table at Danny Meyer’s newest hotspot, Manhatta. It’s way downtown in FiDi (rhymes with RyeGuy) on the 60th floor and from the moment we walked in I felt like I was at the reincarnation of Windows on the World (in it’s heyday). The views are unparalleled and every table has one. The big difference being the service, which is extremely friendly and not stuffy or formal. The $75 prix fix (service included) 3 course meal is a bargain considering there is lobster, steak and soufflé to choose from. This is the perfect place to go to celebrate something big.
It’s college application season, which means I’m working, a lot. Somehow teenagers all seem to send their essays at the exact same time even though I’ve been sending reminder emails for days. I was happy to be invited back this week to the Anything Goes With Kim Berns radio show. You can listen to the link (August 2nd) if you have a student who is applying to college this fall – I give good tips! And if you are interested in having me help out, you can reach me on my website: ExpatEssay. (You don’t need to be an expat to use my services.)
And lastly, the week ended with a 21st celebration for my daughter Sophie up on our roof with 50 of her closest friends. We served tacos from Otto’s Tacos and lots of margaritas and Tecate. Oh what a night!