Sunday in Brooklyn

Last Sunday I had a fantastic day in Brooklyn. I only go to Brooklyn once or twice a month, but every time I do, I have a great time exploring. Our day started with brunchin Vinegar Hill (a borough of Brooklyn) at namesake restaurant, Vinegar Hill House. The wait was long but we had a few cups of coffee at the coffee bar while waiting for our table. It was a nice enough day that we were able to sit outside in their little courtyard. It was quite charming. It feels like spring is finally here.

After brunch, Kevin’s friend led us down the street to a locked gate housing a mansion inside. I have always had a “”thing”” about mansions. Maybe it’s because my dad is a builder, and every time we moved it was into a bigger home, or maybe it’s the little girl in me who‰غھs fascinated withsecret passageways and whose favorite book was The Secret Garden while growing up. Regardless, after seeing the mansion, it sparked my interest to know who owns it. I did a little research and found a piece The New York Times wrote in 2006:

In a New York of secret delights, the Commandant’s House at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is a secret secret. Built early in the 19th century, the big white house, formally known as Quarters A, is the yard’s oldest surviving structure, with exquisite Federal-style detailing. In private ownership since the Navy Yard closed in 1964, the three-story house can be glimpsed only in bits and pieces over walls, through gardens and, distantly, past high gates. Its broad lawn offers a summer fantasy above the East River (New York Times).

From there we walked to another Brooklyn gem, Jane’s Carousel, which lives in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Jane’s Carousel is truly a delight. Even though I didn’t ride the carousel, I have a great appreciation for the 1922 carousel that was restored and is now available for the public to enjoy. What I also love about it is the pavilion it lives under, designed by architect Jean Nouvel. I can only imagine how in awe children must be when they first see this beautiful carousel seemingly out of place next to the East River housed under a glass pavilion. Simply put, it’s magical.

Finally, to conclude our day in Brooklyn, Kevin and I hopped in a cab for a quick 10 minute ride to Bedford. I popped in my favorite jewelry boutique, Norbu (Tibetan word for jewel), swung by Artists & Fleas flea market, and paid a visit to Pigeon Be Pigeon, my favorite only graphic tee designer I really buy from whose screen prints are inspired by the city.

I become a bigger fan of Brooklyn with each trip I make. There is so much to do there and I like the artistic feel. Certain parts of Brooklyn, like Williamsburg, are very trendy/hipster areas, and the rent there is just as much as if you were living in Manhattan. In fact, as Kevin and I were observing the others out and about that day, he made a comment that we weren’t cool enough to be there. Don’t be intimidated though, there’s far too much to see/do in Brooklyn to let its inhabitants keep you away.

Sunday Fun Day on Long Beach

This weekend I went to Long Beach, NY for the first time. It was fabulous. Having grown up in Michigan, I'm still not very familiar with the beaches in New York and New Jersey. One of my girlfriends told me that she always goes to Long Beach, and a week later, I read an article recommending the same trip. It was a sign. So, after checking out the weather Saturday night, we woke up early on Sunday morning to catch the 8:45am LIR train to Long Beach. It was only

a 45 minute train and it drops you off only a few blocks walking distance to the beach. We picked up bagels at Life's a Bagel before heading to the beach. While the employees at Life's a Bagel are rude and don't have an organized ordering/paying system, the bagels were pretty good.

Once we got to the beach, we rented an umbrella and spent the

day laying in the sand and walking along the beach. It was a perfect day. And I'm

glad we got there as early as we did, because by noon, the beach was pretty crowded. My only complaint is that there was a ton of seaweed in

the water and along the shoreline, but I got used to it by the end. My friends said the seaweed usually isn't that bad.

It was also a coincidence that the day we went was when the was at Long Beach handing out free samples of body and face sunscreen and sunglasses. There was even a photographer, a step and repeat, and a dermatologist on the bus giving free skin inspections. I like Neutrogena even more now.

After we had our fill of fun in the sun, we had a bite to eat at Gino's of Long Beach before getting on the train back to Manhattan. The calzone was delicious. All in all, it was the perfect way to spend our Sunday, and I will definitely be going back.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Over the weekend I saw Nice Work If You Can Get It on Broadway starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara. My boyfriend and I had a very New York experience and waited in line at TKTS, the discount Broadway tickets booth in Times Square. Nice Work If You Can Get It was number one on my to-see list followed by Peter & the Starcatcher, Memphis, Spiderman, and Once. We waited in line for about an hour and we were still able to get our number one pick, and even better, we got a 40% discount on the tickets making the wait totally worth it. Plus there are so many people and so much going on all around you that it makes the wait go by fairly fast. If you have an hour or so to spare, waiting in line for discount show tickets at TKTS is worth it.

;

So, here's the storyline of Nice Work If You Can Get It:

“”Set in the 1920s, Nice Work If You Can Get It is the story of charming and wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter, who meets rough female bootlegger Billie Bendix the weekend of his wedding. Jimmy, who has been married three (or is it four?) times before, is preparing to marry Eileen Evergreen, a self-obsessed modern dancer. Thinking Jimmy and Eileen will be out of town, Billie and her gang hide cases of alcohol the basement of Jimmys Long Island mansion. But when Jimmy, his wife-to-be and her prohibitionist family show up at the mansion for the wedding, Billie and her cohorts pose as servants, causing hijinks galore (Broadway.com).“”

Matthew Broderick is

perfect in the role as Jimmy, a rich mama's boy who isn't the brightest. Broderick and O'Hara perform well together; they have great chemistry on stage. Not

only was the entire cast great, the set was also well done. It was impressive but not overdone. It actually reminded me of the Great Gatsby mansion. Additionally, I enjoyed the music and dancing. Everything in Nice Work If You Can Get It was a good fit from the cast, the set, to the dancing and music.

Overall, Nice Work If You Can Get It was a fun and enjoyable light-hearted musical. I absolutely loved it. It's also one of the few Broadway musicals I would consider seeing again. I'm also happy I got to see Matthew Broderick

War Horse

War Horse will make you believe that puppets live and breathe, and perhaps even have souls.
Time Out New York

Emotionally stirring, visually arresting and compellingly told.
Hollywood Reporter

I recently saw War Horse at Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont. It was an amazing experience. Not only is Lincoln Center large and beautiful, especially at night with all the lights, the circular stage on which War Horse was performed is cool and fitting to the storyline. With circular stages I feel like there's no bad seats. Everything about War Horse was beautifully crafted: the details of the set, costumes, puppet design, lighting and projection design. It's no wonder War Horse won five Tony Awards including Best Play.

WAR HORSE travels from the verdant English countryside to the fields of France and Germany at the outbreak of World War I. A boy's beloved horse has been sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Caught up in enemy fire, the horse serves on both sides of the war, and survives an odyssey that leaves him alone in no-man's land. The boy, now a young man, cannot forget his horse, and embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

WAR HORSE is a magnificent drama, filled with stirring music and beautiful songs. But it is more than just a compelling tale. This is a show of indescribable grandeur and sheer inventiveness — perhaps the most magical production ever staged for the Beaumont. There are breathing, galloping, charging horses on the stage – their flanks, hides and sinews built of steel, leather and aircraft cables. They are life-size puppets strong enough for men to ride. And that's just one element of this imaginative epic (Lincoln Center Theater).

I thought the actors did a great job. Billy, the main character, is annoying at times, but I suppose that's to be expected at some points in a play. The woman next to me was laughing when the soldiers faked being shot and fell to the ground, which I thought was inappropriate, but I agree that some parts were a little dramatic.

The best part of the War Horse play are the horses. The mechanisms for the horses are so cool. I was expecting a corny horse costume operated by humans so I was blown away by the intricate puppets.

War Horse is kind of long– 2 hours 40 Minutes including a 15-minute intermission–but it's worth sitting for. I was engaged the entire time because there were so many details of the characters and on the set to observe. War Horse is

definitely one of the top plays I've seen this year. If you see it, make sure to leave time before or after to wander around the Lincoln Center to take some pictures.

Holiday Party in San Francisco

This past weekend I flew to San Francisco for my third time. The purpose of this trip was Kevin's work holiday party. It was a great weekend and I am a big fan of San Fran.

I got into SF late Thursday night. We stayed at the Four Seasons, and boy did I feel spoiled. Kevin has taken me to some nice hotels, the Mark Hopkins hotel in SF being one, but the Four Seasons in my opinion was by far the best. Not only is the location great–it's in the heart of SF and within walking distance of tons of cafes, restaurants, and stores– the hotel is top-of-the-line with everything you could possibly want. We could have easily spent the entire weekend content without having to step outside the hotel.

On Friday Kevin still had to work, so I had a “”me day”” to do whatever I wanted. After taking my time getting ready, I went across the street and read while enjoying my cup of coffee. Then I did a little shopping and got my nails done afterward. I did that all within a quarter of a mile from our hotel too. I then relaxed for an hour in the room before heading to Kevin's work to catch the end of their hackathon presentations and prize winners. (MoPub is seriously the coolest start-up. Not only is everyone nice

and very intelligent, the company as a whole gets to do some really cool stuff.)

After being awed by the MoPub SF team, Kevin and I went out to dinner with one of his coworkers and her fiance at my favorite restaurantin SF, Burma Superstar. Dinner was at Burma Superstar was delicious once again, and with our stomachs full, we turned in for

the night.

After Kevin and I woke up on Saturday morning we walked across the street to pick up some pastries and coffee. Then we walked back to the hotel to relax for a bit before heading to the gym. The gym at the Four Seasons is AMAZING. The facility is clean with new equipment. I took a free pilates class before getting a massage. I definitely felt pampered.

After a light lunch we started watching Shawshank Redemption on TV while getting dressed up for the night. The MoPub holiday party was at Clift Hotel. I had champagne and Hors d'Oeuvres while mingling with Kev's colleagues. There was also a pretty baller photo booth. Overall, it was a good night. It's always fun getting dressed up once in a while.

Before heading back to NYC on Sunday, we stopped at Beard Papa's Cream Puffs for some delicious cream puffs. You get to watch them fill the flavor puff you choose with the flavor cream you choose. They don't skimp on the cream fill either, it oozes out there's so much inside. After our fill of sweets we had breakfast at The Grove. During our short walk from the hotel to breakfast we also passed some cool street art.

I love San Francisco. I always enjoy myself whenever I visit. I like that it is still considered a city but it's cleaner and more laid back (but not too laid back like San Diego) than NYC. I am also grateful that I got to spend the weekend

at the Four Seasons. It definitely added to our classy weekend for the formal holiday party. I'm looking forward to my next trip to SF in the new year!

Manhattan Cocktail Classic 2013

Last Friday Kevin and I went to the third annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic at the New York Public Library. Being Kevin and my third Cocktail Classic as well, I kind of felt like a veteran. Ihad no problem just having a sip or two of a drink and setting it down if I didn't like it that much. I think I also covered more ground that way. I wasn't as concerned with the cocktails that were being served even though that's kind of the point of the event; I wasmore so interested in the little details of the event which in my opinion, is what makes the Manhattan Cocktails Classic gala special and unique.

For example, there are all sorts of fun, quirky things that make you feel like you're almost at a carnival except classier. It's the little, well-thought out details that make the gala into a sort of adventure. There was a couple dancing on stilts, there was a woman whose skirt was a table covered in chocolates, there was a bookshelf with plates of mini breadmorals, there was a corner of a hallway filled with umbrellas full of small bags of popcorn, and much much more. It's easy to miss all these things if you have a one-track mind of getting schwasted. Instead, I had fun simply wandering around and taking in everything.

My other favorite part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic gala

is getting dressed up for it. It was also perfect timing because I recently sawThe Great Gatsbyat the movie theater, so I was in the 1920's spirit. I wore a sequins dress with fringe on the bottom that reminded me of a flapper. I also wore a big feather head piece.

Kevin and I had a great night. I'm looking forward to the next Manhattan Cocktail Classic!

Books Read This Spring/Summer

As we head into Fall I just want to give a quick recap of the books I slowly got through this past spring and summer. Some were really good and some I would have been fine not reading. My two favorites by far were Beautiful Ruins and The Silver Star. I love reading and I love how absorbed I can get in a story. I like books just as much as I like watching movies but books require a longer time investment, so I have to be picky about what to read. So, listed below are the books I read in order from my most to least favorite.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins is one of my new favorite novels. I was completely engrossed in the story as it wound through several different characters’ lives beautifully.The moral of the story is todo what is right, even if it just means taking each day at a time in order to do it.

The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls

I became a big fan of Jeanette Walls after reading The Glass Castle. The Silver Star was also very good. A lot of Walls’s material comes from her unconventional, highly dysfunctional upbringing. Her books are centered around her family however crazy they may be. I’m already looking forward to reading her next piece of work.

Beautiful Bastard and Beautiful Disaster by Christina Lauren

A few months after reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I found another good sexytime author, Christina Lauren. First, I read Beautiful Bastard and it was really good, so then I read her second novel in the series, Beautiful Disaster. I think I might have actually liked it better than Fifty Shades because a) I’m not really into the whole BDSM thing and b) I like the females protagonists in Lauren’s novels because they’re smart and the opposite of timid and meek Ana.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

Nate Piven is a writer living in Brooklyn. To be straight-forward, he is a pretentious snob who is very concerned about his own success but also just as concerned about how others perceive him. I did like this novel, but I have to admit that I had to look up a vocab work like every other page. I applaud Waldman for convincingly writing the novel in first person as a dude. The message takeaway from this novel is thatthe one you connect with or understand the most isn’t necessarily the one things will work out with.

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

The Tiger’s Wifeis set in an unnamed Balkan country, in the present and half a century ago, and features a youngdoctor’s relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her, primarily about the ‘deathless man’ who meets him several times in different places and never changes, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that has escaped from a zoo (Wikipedia). At some points I was really into the novel, and other times I was ready to abandon it. Overall, it was good, but I wouldn’t choose to read it again.

Drown was decent but it was not as good as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which is one of my favorite novels. Diaz has adistinct writing style and pulls his material from his Hispanic upbringing. The recurring themes in Diaz’s work is similar to Walls which gives them a strong writer’s voice, but at the same time, it makes you wonder if they can branch out a bit more.