0 Favourite Photo: Chicago cruisin'

This picture reminds me of carefree summer days in a time when life was simpler and lived at a slower pace. Days when I wore flowers in my hair, sparkles on my eyes and a dreamy smile on my face. Days filled with the sound of laughter, the smell of fresh cut grass and the feel of the sun caressing my skin.

Sun, sand, water and a pretty bike... life's good!
On Thursday morning when he took this photo, lovely husband C. was cruisin' Lake Michigan in Chicago on this lovely retro bike. He enjoyed it so much we're doing it again tomorrow... Must buy some flowers for my hair in the morning!

From Chicago, with love xox

1 The (my) big 3-0… celebrating in the city of lights

I've always wanted to have a summer birthday. When I was young, I harbored a secret hope that one year, the Australian summer would come early - like at the end of July - so I could have my birthday party outside, preferably in a pool. Now that I'm older (and far more savvy), I've realised that I can have my birthday in the summer – if I'm in the Northern Hemisphere.

Blowing out the candle on my Magnolia cupcake...
So here I am… and where better in the Northern Hemisphere to celebrate a milestone birthday than in New York City?! I'm still pinching myself to be honest. I turn 30 tomorrow, so last night we celebrated with a group of friends who live here in New York and two wonderful friends who flew over from Melbourne – the awesome MO. and L.

We kicked off the night with bubbles (of course) - Veuve Clicquot - on our rooftop terrace with the Empire State Building lit up in the background and Bleecker street not far below us. Once the champagne was finished, we moved to Betel where we had a private room to enjoy our Asian fusion, nine course sharing menu. Given we were in NYC, it seemed only fitting to have a cosmopolitan… or two… or was it three?? I may have lost count! At closing time we shifted to Little Branch, a small cocktail bar entered through an unmarked door, with fabulously fruity drinks. At 3am, we were still there… playing charades and thinking we were all hilarious (because we definitely were by then).

It was an unforgettable way to kick off another decade (which I'm told is the new 20's), so a huge thank you to lovely husband C., for finding the great places we went to, my NYC friends for the fun times and my heartfelt appreciation to MO. and L. for bringing a bit of home to NYC.

From New York, with love xox

PS. In order to prolong the festivities, I'm having a birthweek – I mean really, one day of celebration is just not enough!

0 Favourite Photo: Shake Shack

Everytime I've walked past it, the line at the Shake Shack in the Flatiron district is a mile long. It makes sense – it's near the iconic wedge shaped Flat Iron building, bustling Union Square and not so far from my favourite shopping mecca, Soho. It's a meeting point for tourists and a good place to get a summer tan for New Yorkers who stretch out in bikinis in every park in the city when it heats up. Each time I pass by, I'm tempted to join the queue to see what all the fuss is about.

The contemporary version of a "roadside burger stand"
A few weekends ago I walked by again, right after a summer rain shower… to find it looking pretty deserted. Too bad I'd eaten lunch already!

From New York, with love xox 

0 A day at the beach... in New York

It was with some trepidation that we decided to try a New York beach yesterday. Born and raised in Perth and having travelled through Australia, Asia and Europe I have seen some amazing beaches… so I put a firm lid on my normal expectations, packed my Tigerlily bathers into my new Lululemon bag, dropped in my Kobo (after buying a couple of suitably fluffy beach books) and made my way merrily onto the subway.

An hour and a bit later, we arrived in Queens at Rockaway beach. It must be an outpost for Polish people craving seaside living in New York. I hadn't taken two steps outside the subway station before I saw signs advertising Polish delis and pierogi. Rather than hotfooting it to the water I hotfooted it to the closest deli for some sustenance… after all, if I was going to be disappointed by the "beach", I figured it may as well be on a full stomach.  

So 'how was it' I can hear you thinking? Drum roll please…. I was so pleasantly surprised when we got there, it was just like Scarborough beach in Perth… well, almost. The sand was a little darker and the water a little less blue but it didn't impede my enjoyment in the slightest. I had a relaxing afternoon people watching, smiling at children leaping back from the water's edge, laughing at men playing various ball sports and reading my kobo in between. When I closed my eyes it was like being back home… apart from the American accents around me.

Just hanging at Rockaway beach
Staying out of the sun... in the sand
Sun, sand, seagulls, sun shades... just like any other beach
A sun-worshipper
Aussie "flip-flops"... was very careful not to call them by their
normal, Australian name! 
Going home for the day...
I now have my eyes firmly set on a Hampton weekend before the summer is out. Cross your fingers that we can find somewhere reasonably priced over the next few weeks!

From New York, with love xox

2 Favourite photo: Melbourne memory

I spoke with my wonderful friend M. from Melbourne today. It's her birthday (a milestone!) and she has all sorts of fun and frivolity planned for the weekend.

As I said my goodbye and hung up the phone, I realised it was one of the first times I'd felt a real pang of homesickness. And so, what better way to kick off my new weekly 'favourite photo' post than to share with you a photo that is so quintessentially Melbourne that it makes me smile when I look at it.  

Ah... coffee, music, graffiti and bikes... home sweet home, Melbourne
Happy birthday M. You're fabulous, I hope you have a wonderful day and I look forward to drinking champagne with you in NYC… hopefully soon!  

From New York, with love xox

0 It's all coming together... and other stuff

The last couple of weekends have been really busy. In June, I only spent a handful of nights in my delightful Manhattan apartment… the rest of the time I was travelling the northern hemisphere. So I've spent the last couple of weekends running errands with lovely husband C., buying all the small things we need to make the apartment more comfortable.  As well as shopping (not a hardship at all), we've also been:

Rubbing shoulders with celebrities while walking the highline in Chelsea
There we were, minding our own business, enjoying the summer rain, admiring the flowers and smiling at the tourists when I looked up and straight into the face of my second NYC celebrity sighting. Andy Lee – another Australian (!), who was absolutely lovely by the way. However, I'm starting to wonder if there are any real, live American celebrities here as it's been three months and I still haven't seen one.

Birds, buildings and billboards on the Highline, Chelsea
Pretty greenery and funky flowers... I wanted to pick them but
apparently that's not allowed
(Slowly) cycling around Central Park
Oh, this was lovely. Sunshine, shady paths, warm breeze, rolling green lawns and a fabulously cool and refreshing sorbet at the end. Lovely husband C., a road cycler from our Melbourne days, couldn't resist burning off a couple of times, amid repeated claims of "I could take that guy… if I had my real bike" (…and his lycra).

A romantic row on the lake, Central Park
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset
I love the view of Manhattan at sunset - I see it at least once a week on my way back from the airport. I dragged lovely husband C. out to Brooklyn one evening so we could walk back towards Manhattan when the sun was setting. It was a tight squeeze fitting all the tourists in… I can't believe they used to walk cattle and sheep across.

Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan, sunset... if only there was a cocktail
bar here
Celebrating Independence Day at a rooftop party
I got in with a cool New York crowd, friend M., and on July 4th, hung out on a rooftop in TriBeCa, eating guacamole, drinking wine and trying to act nonchalant, like I was so cool that I did this sort of thing every day. Squealing when the fireworks came on probably blew that cover.

Celebrating good times...
From New York, with love xox

1 A fairytale day

Wesele, the word for wedding in Polish, comes from a verb which means to rejoice, or make merry. The word is more than apt. A Polish wedding is a 12 hour celebration of the love between the "młoda para" – the young (newly wed) couple. A 12 hour celebration... at least. Dancing, eating and drinking (vodka) from before the sun goes down to well after it comes up again the next day.

I was in Poland for K. and B.'s wedding last week. It was beautiful – her, him, the day, the church, the dress, the flowers, the venue and the food (which was also bountiful); touching – his face when he saw her, her radiance, their vows and their shared smiles; and a lot of fun – the joy, the laughter, the music and the dancing "games" that get everyone on the dance floor.

And then there was the Polish wedding traditions. My favourite - the "młoda para" has to scull the first toast and throw their champagne glasses over their shoulder to break them... for luck*. The singing toast, where everyone at the wedding sings "Sto lat", a little song meant to bring one hundred years of good health to the "młoda para". The replacement for the bouquet toss is also lovely - the bride throws her veil and the groom throws his tie, and the two single people who catch them share a dance... in the middle of the dance floor… alone... with everyone watching.  

The glasses before the first toast... their reality shattered minutes later
A birds eye view of the party

An old country manor was a perfect place for the festivities

Laden tables. That's a bottle of vodka in the champagne bucket!

The veil throwing... sadly I was excluded. Minor matter of being married already...

At sunset, we'd already eaten a three course meal and danced...
and the festivities were just warming up

Truly, it was an incredible day for an incredible couple, filled with love and laughter. Naturally, I have started talks with lovely husband C. about our recommitment ceremony... which will take place on our ten year anniversary in eight and a half years time. I've chosen my dress already!

From Krakow, with love xox

* We did this at our own wedding... ah memories!