Monday Night in the City

“”It [Monday] is a great way to wrap up the end of what most consider to be the worst day of the week.””

One of the many reasons I love NYC is the opportunity to go to a new restaurant or bar every night should you wish. On Monday evening I was going to meet a friend at the Ace Hotel bar for a drink but decided on John Dory‰غھs Oyster Bar on the corner of 39th and Broadway instead. Since we only wanted a drink, we sat at the bar. John Dory has a pretty good cocktail menu and I picked an interesting but good concoction to try. What I also like about John Dory's are the two round fish tanks hanging from each side of the bar. It was cool seeing all of the pretty fish while chatting with my friend‰غسthere were many little nemos swimming around in the tanks.

After a drink my friend and I were hungry for dinner, but since I don‰غھt eat seafood, we went to the

Crooked Knife nearby on 30th and Madison. It was a vastly different change of scenery. The

John Dory in the Ace Hotel is a fairly trendy spot and the place is brightly lit. Crooked Knife on the other hand is more laid back and provides a dimly lit dinner setting. They also have festive holiday decorations up.

For dinner at the Crooked Knife I had the Glazed Potato Gnocchi with wild mushroom, white truffle oil, asparagus and Parmesan. I am a huge fan of gnocchi but I‰غھm very picky, and I think that the gnocchi at the Crooked Knife is the best I have ever had. The portion size is also large so I was able to have leftovers for the next day.

I rarely go out on Monday nights unless it‰غھs for a networking event. I was worried it was going to be packed wherever we went on Monday because it was Halloween night, but it wasn‰غھt too crowded at John Dory‰غھs or Crooked Knife and we were seated immediately. I might have to make it a point to meet up with friends on Mondays more often. It is a great way to wrap up the end of what most consider to be the worst day of the week. Cheers, NYC.


Phantom of the Opera and Other Weekend Fun

Another great weekend in the city: fall is here, the air is crisp, the red Starbucks holiday cups are out and Christmas decorations are starting to go up all over the city. I am thrilled and I feel the joy in the air. I had a jam-packed weekend full of fun. Here are the highlights of my weekend:


I met Kevin downtown at Sea for Thai dinner Kept true to my promise about going back.). It’s the best vegetarian spicy basil duck in Meatpacking District NYC. After dinner we saw Puss in Boots in 3D. After seeing the trailer and ads plastered all over the city, Kevin and I were secretly really excited to see it. Even though we were pretty much the only people over the age of 21 without kids watching the movie, we still really enjoyed it. Having grown up with two cats, I got a kick out of all the “”cat mannerisms”” that were incorporated throughout the film (like chasing and pouncing on shiny objects, the “”litter box dance”” in which a cat kicks up its feet to cover it’s excrement in the litter box, the way it laps up its milk and the way it licks its paws to clean the fur on its head). Embarrassing as this is to admit, I would probably even see it again when it comes out on DVD. The movie also made me want a cat even more than I did before I saw it.

On Saturday Kevin and I met up with our friends for brunch downtown at Cupping Room Cafe. I ordered the Middle Eastern Platter Salad (came with babaganoush, hummus, chopped marinated vegetables and pita), and it was amazing. Cupping Room Cafe seems like a popular brunch spot and I would definitely like to go

back for the Middle Eastern Platter Salad.

After brunch I hopped from one social engagement to the next. I met a friend at a vegan chocolate shop in Chelsea, Cocoa V for a cup of tea. Had I not just had brunch before going I would have ordered one of the vegan cupcakes too, but I decided not to be a glutton.

Walking back from tea time on 21st Street between 8th & 9th Avenue I looked up and saw this amazing piece of art on the side of a building. It made me smile. These are the kind of things that make NYC even more of a special place.

by HK Restaurant dozens of times either on my way to work or on my way to Kevin’s apartment. I had been wanting to try it out because it seemed like a trendy little spot, so when I saw it listed on, I bought a deal to try it out. The vegetarian lasagna was quite tasty and they have decent happy hour specials. HK Restaurant is appealing to me because 1) it seems like a little gem of a place in an area of Hell’s Kitchen that isn’t the nicest 2) the location is convenient for me 3) glass garage doors serve as a wall on one whole side of the restaurant, giving it character and an easily open-able area to dine outside during the summer.

After dinner Kevin surprised me with tickets to see Phantom of the Opera. I saw Phantom of the Opera in Toronto when I was in my early teens, but I was excited to see it again and share the experience with Kevin. Plus, it was fun just having an occasion to get all dressed up for. I enjoyed the show and the Phantom of the Opera theme song stuck in my head long after the show was over. (Full disclosure: Although Phantom of the Opera is wonderful, is the longest running show on Broadway and won 7 Tony awards,


On Sunday I was able to sleep in and lay in bed watching the NYC Marathon on TV before getting ready to meet up with a friend for brunch. Watching the marathon runners on TV was very inspiring and I hope to get back into running and perhaps even run in a marathon myself someday.

For brunch I met my friend downtown at South’s Bar. Luckily it wasn’t crowded at all and the brunch was delicious. Some of the seats in the restaurant were old leather theater seats which added a bit of charm to the experience.

After running errands the rest of the day, Kevin and I met one of his friends for drinks at Death & Co. on the Lower East Side. Death & Co. is bar with a speakeasy feel. There are no windows and two large heavy wooden doors make the entrance. Most importantly, they make delicious quality cocktails. The cocktails I ordered had an aftertaste that presented a whole other ingredient I didn’t taste on the initial sip. It made me want to savor the drink. In addition to the drinks, we ordered a few tapas that were also delicious–the Truffle Mac n Cheese and Wild Mushroom Tart bites. What is also notable about Death & Co. other than the quality ingredients used in each cocktail is the presentation of not only the drinks with their individual decor but also the presentation of the tapas. The Truffle Mac n Cheese was presented on little individual silver spoons to make for the perfect bite-full. I will definitely be going back.

Los Angeles Weekend Work/Fun Trip

My work sent me to Los Angeles this past weekend for a project one of my clients was participating in. I’ve flown into LA a few times, but haven’t spent actual time sightseeing. Although I didn’t have time to do much sightseeing this trip either, I was looking forward to being on-site for the work project as well as meeting up with a few friends while I was in town.


I took a flight out on Saturday morning and one of my good friends from college at The University of Michigan, Katie, picked me up from the airport. We had lunch and delicious macaroons at Lepicerie. It was great to see my friend and to catch up.
Later that evening I was supposed to meet up with another friend for a drink, but since I had been traveling for most of the day and was still on Eastern time, I bailed last minute because I was too tired. I stayed at Sheraton Universal in Universal City which is a pretty nice hotel. It was weird having a large room all by myself especially since the hotel room was larger than my own room in my apartment in New York.


So, I kind of have a phobia of eating by myself. I was starving by Sunday morning because I skipped dinner, so at 7am I ventured to the downstairs lobby and picked up a coffee and a few things to snack on. I contemplated eating it at an open nearby table but quickly decided that since I was by myself, I’d feel much more comfortable eating it in my room with the TV on…I realize this is something I need to work on if I continue to travel alone in the future.

At 10am I headed over to HD Vision Broadcast Studios for our co-op Satellite Media Tour rehearsal. After rehearsal my best friend Ashley who lives in San Diego drove up to hang out with me for the rest of the day. We had lunch at Hugo’s in North

Hollywood and then stumbled upon a delicious dessert spot called Xtreme Desserts. They have cookie sandwiches filled with frosting–delicious! The Red Velvet Cookie was ridiculously good. I’m kind of bummed that they don’t have a NYC location because I’d be a loyal customer.

With our bellies full we headed to Santa Monica to take a stroll through the promenade. We browsed through shops for a while until we settled down at an outside table to enjoy a cocktail. What I found charming were the dozen or so people salsa dancing close by. It was entertaining to watch them dance while having a drink and catching up. It made me want to enroll in dancing classes because it looked like the dancers were having a great time and many people who were walking by stopped to watch for a few minutes and you could see them swaying or taping their foot along to the music as well. It was a wonderful evening.


Monday morning was the day of

the tour, so I was at the studio by 3am. I felt like I hadn’t slept the night before and was tired all day, but the day surprisingly went by pretty fast and the tour went pretty smoothly. (A picture from the set is below!) In addition, I was able to get onto a slightly earlier flight so I landed in NYC at 10pm opposed to 12am.

It was a jam-packed weekend with very little sleep, but I had a great time in Los Angeles. I’m so glad I got to see a few friends and I hope to visit again. (Although, NYC is still my favorite city ;-))


Food Review: Dirt Candy

Dirt Candy

After traveling 4,800+ miles in less than 72 hours for, the next day, Tuesday night, my boyfriend and I made plans to have a nice dinner. We‰غھre both vegetarians and I had heard good things from a friend and read good reviews on Yelp about Dirt Candy, so we made reservations. I was surprised we were able to get in the same day I made the reservations because I had heard that you often have to book two weeks in advance since it‰غھs a very small restaurant with only eight tables or so, but maybe it was because it was a Tuesday night or we just lucked out.

Having read several reviews beforehand, I walked into Dirt Candy with high expectations. Most of the reviews exclaim that the Jalapeno Hush Puppies snack is a must try, so we ordered those and for the main course I got the Chard (chard gnocchi, grilled chard, garlic granola & drunken fig jam) and Kevin ordered the Cucumber (coconut poached tofu, shiso, galangal sauce, salsify & hearts of palm. Overall, I was not impressed.

Although the presentation of the entrees is good, I do not think the food lives up to the reputation of its reviews. I like that the Chard has a different spin to a gnocchi dish combining different textures like with the granola and adding some sweetness to a usual savory dish, but despite all of the different textures and ingredients used, it still tastes somewhat bland. I also had a bite of the Cucumber dish. Again, as with the dish’s grand presentation, I was expecting it to have just as big flavor. The Cucumber was even more bland than the Chard, and while I liked that the Cucumber dish was light and fresh tasting, the Chard dish at least was able to somewhat appease my palate by introducing it to a few different textures at once.

Additionally, although I was warned in the reviews that the restaurant is very small and the tables are practically on top of one another, I wasn’t expecting that my boyfriend and I would have to practically yell across the table from one another to be heard.

Am I happy I finally got to try out Dirt Candy? Absolutely, I‰غھd love to try all of

the vegetarian/vegan restaurants in NYC. Would I go back though? Probably not.


NYC Crafted Cocktails

After reading Time Out New York’s last issue featuring dozens of recommended spots for a quality cocktail in NYC, I’ve been looking forward to trying some of the places.

Last Wednesday my girlfriend Fernanda and I went to The Tippler. “”Tucked beneath New York’s celebrated Chelsea Market, the Tippler inhabits a historic space that has not been revealed to the public in over 100 years.”” I was not expecting the venue to be as large as it is and it’s interesting that their seating is free for all, but we were able to snag a seat relatively quickly. I had two drinks while I was there, the Booty Collins and the Top Cat. The Top Cat was average, but the Booty Collins was amazing. The ingredients in the Booty Collins are: gunpowder tea-infused Belvedere vodka, passionfruit, lemon, yohimbe, cayenne. The cayenne kick at the end made the drink. I plan on going back to The Tippler simply for the Booty Collins. My only semi-complaint is that in addition to seating being a little difficult to find if it’s busy (which I was surprised that it was as busy as it was on a Wednesday night), it was also loud and difficult to hear my friend talking across the table.


the week before I had drinks at another bar that had made the list, Death & Company. You can read about it. To sum it up though, while the cocktails were delicious, part of what made the experience so great was the ambiance–large wooden doors, no windows, and dim lighting.

Last week I also visited Lantern’s Keep “”…nestled deep inside the Iroquois Hotel walls. Not a bar, not a lounge or a lobby, this hidden gem is an entity all to itself. A salon devoted to the art and enjoyment of great cocktails.

This secretive salon is already luring cocktail aficionados in and transporting them back to a turn of the century Parisian salon.”” I tried the Late Night Reviver with gin, lime juice, ginger syrup, fernet branca and club soda. The space is quaint and they do prepare quality cocktails, but it wasn’t my favorite. While I was able to sit down and have a conversation with my friend without having to shout across the table, I wasn’t feeling the spot as much as Death & Co. or The Tippler.

Besides The Tippler, Lantern’s Keep and Death & Co., other bars that I’ve been to over the past year that I’m also a big fan of are:

Milk and Honey – a speakeasy feel kind of bar in the LES with trendy and tasty cocktails. It’s a good place to have a well-made drink while catching up with friends.

PDT–It’s called Please Don’t Tell for a reason 😉

Raines Law Room – What makes this an exceptional speakeasy in NYC is the unmarked building with old school wallpaper, plush velvet seating and actual buzzers to pull on the wall to summon the waitress, not to mention the good cocktails.

I love when a bar can make the evening feel sexy and seductive. Some of the speakeasy-esque bars with the dim lightening and old school, classic ambiance make it feel more fun and fitting to be drinking such carefully crafted cocktails. Discovering exciting bars such as these are part of why I enjoy living in NYC so much.


Happy Thanksgiving 2011!!

So much has changed from my blog post last Thanksgiving in NYC.I have even more to be thankful for this year, and I'm very happy living in NYC. Check out my Thanksgiving video here:

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Brief recap of what I'm thankful for this year:

1. My supportive, loving family and friends

2. My amazing boyfriend who also doubles as my best friend and “”activity partner”” who I have a ton of fun exploring the city


3. Being able to live and work in NYC. I LOVE living here. Over the past year I have also felt more integrated in city life by joining different clubs and organizations including book club, New York

Cares volunteering, Public Relations Society of American (PRSA), and Advertising Women of New York (AWNY)

4. Learning valuable things at my job at D S Simon Productions and taking it along with me as I begin the next chapter in my career in digital advertising at CBS.

Although I would love to be back home in MI spending Thanksgiving with the family, I'm still looking forward to [Kevin cooking] a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner and spending it with with another special person in my life. HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!


Great Drinking Spots: Apothokey and Diablo Royale

I'm not one to go crazy over celebrities. I have seen a few celebrities in the city including Mario Cantone (Sex in the City) at a coffee shop, Robert Sean Leonard (House) on the subway, and Christian Siriano (Project Runway winner) walking down the street,and while it's cool seeing them doing normal things, I'm not so starstruck that I need to tweet that I saw them or creepily try to take a picture. BUT, when work provided a ticket to see a screening of The Woman in Black with a visit from Daniel Radcliffe yesterday, I wastruly excited. Alright, I admit I was mostly excited because I am a huge scary movie fan and when I saw the movie trailer weeks ago I made a mental note that I wanted to see it when it was finally playing in theaters, but the fact thatI was going to see Daniel Radcliffe in the flesh was pretty exciting too.

Yesterday was my first film screening event in the city. It was pretty fun too. All of the guests were given a special black veil to wear in theme with The Woman in Blackand theyalso doubled asthe ticket

to enter. There wasa fortune teller, someone painting nails, and women walking around in

costume for photo opps at the screening. Once everyone was sitting in the theater and an intro was made, Daniel then came out to say hi and tell us to enjoy the show. Even though he was only in the theater with us for maybe three minutes, it was still cool to see him show up and represent his film.

The Woman in Black was actually really good. After getting overbeinguncomfortable seeingRadcliffe play a father, I was absorbed in the movie. It made me jump several times, which means it's a good scary movie in my opinion. So, if you're looking to watch a scary movie, I recommend seeing The Woman in Black in theaters this Friday.

I feel lucky that I was able to attend the event, and it was a very fun, unexpected thing to do on a Monday night. Occassionally I forget how amazing New York City is. The odds of me seeing a celebrity on the streets or at an event inNYC are about 1,000,000 times higher than I would see one anywhere in the entire state of Michigan. The opportunity to see and do things that I would neverbe able to doin Michigan is something I'm very appreciative of. So, while I love and miss my mother state dearly, I'm really enjoying the opportunities in NYC.

To get you ready for The Woman in Black, check out the picture below and see if you can find what makes it so scary.


Donut Pub

Doughnut Plant has been my favorite doughnut shop in NYC for the past several months. Ever since they opened up another location in Chelsea it has also made it much easier to get my hands on some doughnuts weekend mornings. BUT, living in New York City where there are thousands of different restaurants, it's hard for me to be completely loyal to any business without knowing for sure that there isn't better out there. So, to mix things up a bit, this morning I went to Donut Pub in Union Square instead of Doughnut Plant.

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Donut Pub is a small rectangular shaped space, and when my boyfriend and I walked in we found two seats at the counter. We ordered two

coffees, an egg sandwich, and a vanilla cream, red velvet, chocolate, and chocolate dipped donut. Nothing was great. I read several Yelp reviews, and many recommended the red velvet donut, so my expectations were pretty high and

I ended up being disappointed.

Overall, everything was just average. I would compare the quality to a Dunkin Donuts or Tim Horton's, the only difference being that Donut Pub isn't a franchise.Doughnut Plant is a specialty doughnut shop. Doughnuts are the only food they sell. Mochas and chai tea lattes are the beverages they serve. Donut Pub on the other hand serves egg sandwiches in addition to cupcakes and cookies. What's interesting to me is that with their wide variety of different sweets, they only offer diner-like coffee.

While I do feel a little guilty for cheating on Doughnut Plant with Donut Pub, I don't regret having tried a new spot because now I know for certain that Doughnut Plant is indeed the best.


Holiday Department Store Window Displays and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Even though New York doesn't get as cold or as much snow as Michigan, it's still very special during wintertime because of the festive decorations all over the city. As a new New Yorker, one thing that I look forward to are the holiday window decorations at the large department stores. Theyare a big deal in the city, and monthsof brainstorming and planning goes into thetheme of creation of the displays. They make many people happy though, so I think it's worth it.I walk past Macy's on my way to work and their window display makes mesmile every day

This past weekend I spent some time checking out Macy's, Saks, and Lord & Taylor on my way to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree. My favorite of the three was Macy's with their Make a Wish display with glitter puppet-figures, but Lord & Taylor was a close second. Lord & Taylor featured Christmas scenes in a dollhouse style fashion. I wasn't impressed with Saks “”Land of the Bubblemakers”” display so I didn't even bother taking any pictures, but below are some pictures of the Macy's and Lord & Taylor holiday window displays to give you an idea–the experience of seeing each consecutive window telling a story is pretty cool but unfortunately cannot be captured fully via pictures.

Macy's Make a Wish Window Display

Finally, my friend Ryan and I made it to the Rockefeller Christmas tree. It was good to see the tree but it was too crowded to stay too long. While we were at Rockefeller Center, Ryan also introduced me to Teausher Chocolates of Switzerland which are a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

Besides the window displays and Rockefeller Christmas tree, other noteworthy things to check out to get into the holiday spirit are the shops on 5th Avenue, especially at night with their light decorations. You can also go ice skating at the Bryant Park, Central Park or Rockefeller Center rinks. Finally, there are many fun pop-up shops. I can spend half the day walkingaround browsing through the pop-up shops in Bryant Park, Union Square, and Columbus Circle. So fun, and there are so many great, unique gift ideas in one area. I love holiday time in the city 🙂


Giving During the Holidays

Call me selfish, but it wasn't until I started working to earn my own money and matured that I actually began to enjoy buying gifts for others during the holiday season. As much as I might internally complain about having to scrounge up extra money to buy presents for my family, it's actually only because I want to buy them things they'd really enjoy. It's now gotten to the point where I'm more excited about the holiday spirit and festivities than actually receiving gifts on Christmas. Although I have been hearing this for years, I'm finally realizing that there is much more to the holidays than simply days leading up to the time you get to open presents. Here are some of the other ways I am giving this holiday season:
1. Donating Blood
2. Giving a toy to Toys for Tots
3. Donating money AND volunteering my time

1. Donating Blood
Alright, well I have to admit that I wasn't able to actually donate blood because my iron was too low, but I did at least try. Ironically, a week after I tried donating I read an article about blood donations during the holidays. It said that donations drop significantly during the holidays. Organizers explain that with so many people traveling, and the possibility of unexpected weather like last year's Christmas blizzard, they are hoping to stock enough blood now to help save lives later when there are more accidents and less blood donations. Even though I wasn't able to donate this time, that will not deter me from trying again in a month or so.

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2. Donating a Toy to Toys for Tots

Kevin and I went to a holiday party where they were asking for a toy donation for Toys for Tots. We went to Toys R Us and Kevin picked a Liono toy figurine and I bought a big plush polar bear. I thought it was a great idea to suggest everyone bring a toy to a party they were already planning on attending. It actually made it more fun in my opinion because Kevin and I had a good time in Toys R Us picking out the toys and it was nice to think that they would make two little kids happy.

3. WGirls Fundraiser and Gift Giving Party

The club I'm member of, WGirls, put on a fundraising event at Sway bar. Tickets were $50 each. There was also a silent auction with

items that other WGirl members got stores to donate. There were necklaces, a gift card to a car service, restaurant gift cards, a suitcase, a makeup kit, a gift certificate at a hair salon, etc. The event was very successful and everyone had a really

good time.

The money that was raised at the event was then used to purchase gifts for a gift giving party hosted by WGirls for the underprivileged foster children of Little Flower, a children and family service. WGirls rented out a gymnasium and set up a station for the kids to take pictures with Santa, several arts and crafts tables, food tables with cupcakes, cookies and milk, and of course a spot to pick up their wrapped presents.

The event was really special. The WGirls put a lot of time and effort to make the event as seamless as possible, and it was a success. The kids looked like they had a lot of fun coloring, making cute ornaments, putting on fake tattoos, eating too many sweets, taking pictures with Santa, running around in the gym, and being able to have presents of their own to open. Seeing the whole process through it's entirety from the planning and fundraising stage to volunteering my time setting up and finally allocating the gifts to the foster children was very meaningful to me. It also makes me thankful to have been raised by a family that loves and cares about me.

Giving during the holidays provides a great feeling. And while it is great that people feel extra generous during the holiday season, I think it would be even better if everyone could give a little throughout the year whether it be volunteering, donating money, or even donating blood. Be thankful for what you have and spread the cheer 🙂 Happy Holidays!