4 It SNOWED… and winter shopping (part 1)

In an unusually early cold snap, it snowed nearly all day yesterday. While all the real New Yorkers were snuggled up inside their fabulous Manhattan apartments, lovely husband C. and I spent the day wandering around the city, trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues and gripping each other and giggling (me) as we slipped on the ice.

- Washington Square Park.. the white stuff is snow!! -
While I'm typically more of a summer person, I've had a lot of fun getting ready for a 'real' winter over the last few weeks. I've been stocking up for the cold days ahead by shopping for the softest cashmere knits, fun hats and the warmest winter coats. The best thing about it all? The pre-winter sales. They do awesome sales here - think 40% off. When's the last time you saw that in Australia? Anyway, here's what I've bought:

- Winter warmers... Coach jacket (L), Hugo Boss coat (Top), Bloomingdales (R) -
- I mean really... not shopping is not an option -
Bloomingdales in Soho for the accessories
Softer than soft grey cashmere scarf, funky fingerless mittens with silver studs and a floppy beret beanie to keep my head warm.

Coach for the BEST jacket ever
My hands down, absolutely favourite purchase of the year… a black duck-down filled jacket with a cozy hood. I walked around toasty and warm in it all day Saturday, even when the snow was blowing side-ways in the arctic breeze.

Ann Taylor & Banana Republic for the corporate wardrobe
Skirts and knits that are perfect for the office (in suitably muted colours and styles!). 

Hugo Boss for the investment piece
A heavy wool coat, a bit more demure and serious than my "puffy" jacket to get me through the cold Chicago winters as I'm making my way to and from work. A bit of an investment, however I think it should last me through the next few years (that's what I'm telling myself anyway).

Century 21 for stockings and tights
A discount designer store in FiDi that brings on an acute form of "Ikea stress"*, but is usually well worth the battle to get a bargain. I picked up a few pairs of patterned hosiery from Calvin Klein, Givenchy and Donna Karan.  

Coming from Melbourne where the average daily temperature in winter is 15 degrees (Celsius), an entirely new wardrobe was a necessity but I think I'm set… for clothes. Shoes? Well, that's another matter entirely…  

From New York, with love xox

* Instead of screaming kids running around and fighting, think screaming women descending on the same item and trying to grab it first.

2 DC day two - farm fresh breakfast

A Farmers market is a wonderful sensory overload – the colours, the smells and the tastes all combine to make a visit to a good farmers market a delight for the senses… particularly if you love food as much as I do.

On our last morning in DC, we stumbled across Freshfarm Markets around the corner from where we were staying at Hotel Palomar in Dupont circle. We hadn't had breakfast yet and so we happily wandered around munching on crisp fall apples, sampling tart gelato and drinking creamy chocolate milk till we were bursting.

A perfect breakfast on a bright, clear fall day in DC and a wonderful way to end our DC weekend.

From New York, with love xox  

3 Doing Washington DC in a day

The whole of DC is a beautifully laid out monument to past presidents and war heroes. It's a reminder of where the nation has come from, the fundamentals it is built on and the passion with which its people believe in freedom, equality and democracy. After spending a weekend in DC, I have a renewed appreciation for the American culture and far greater understanding of their pride in their heritage.

- The flags around the Washington Monument -
Time obligingly seemed to move slower in DC than in NYC, so it felt like lovely husband C. and I were able to fit a lot in on the full day we were there. Should find yourself in DC for a day, put on your walking shoes for a lap of the city. In a day you can see:

1)      Monuments and memorials to the Vietnam veterans, Abraham Lincoln, Korean War, Martin Luther King Junior, Franklin D Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. These are all without exception incredible dedications to the lives of brave and inspirational men and women.  

2)      Museums*, but you need to be focused and choose specific exhibits. For us, this meant covering about half of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, where we could walk onto an aircraft carrier, the Skylab space station and an early jet liner. More importantly (for me!), at the Museum of Natural History, I made a bee-line for the hall of geology, gems and minerals and stood with my face pressed against the glass case of the Hope Diamond. And then against the case with the pear drop diamond earrings worn by Marie Antoinette. And then the pigeon blood ruby bracelet... They had to peel me away at closing time.

3)      The political heart of the capital - the Whitehouse - which unsurprisingly, you cannot get close to and the United States Capitol which is where US Congress meets, a striking building at the top of Capitol Hill;  

4)      Galleries like the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden  

- The United States Capitol -
- Vietnam Veterans War Memorial -
- Abraham Lincoln Memorial -
- Inside the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial garden -
- Inside FDR (L), Thomas Jefferson memorial (R) -
- Korean War Memorial -
- Hope Diamond... umm, I want one? -
There is plenty more to see and do around the city and I can feel at least one more trip is on the cards. Perhaps in the dead of winter when we want to spend some more time inside so we can visit The First Ladies exhibit at the National Museum of American History as well as enjoying some of the fabulous food DC is renowned for.  

From Washington DC, with love xox

* The museums have free admission!

2 Coney Island… yesterday's summer playground

I can imagine what Coney Island was like in its hey-day… the smell of popcorn in the air, the taste of  pastel coloured fairy floss spun into delicious sugary webs, children squealing on the merry-go-round and women's delighted laughter at being presented with a stuffed toy won by a boyfriend.

It's easy to picture groups of girlfriends walking home at the end of the day, their skin salty from the water and rosy from the sun, planning what to wear that night as they casually strolled the boardwalk waiting for handsome men to call out to them. It would have been an amazing summer escape from the humidity and bustling trade of New York City in the early 20th century.

On a blustery fall day in 2011, it seems a shadow of its former self. The rides are in need of a coat of paint (or three), and the boardwalk has been scuffed by thousands of pairs of feet over the long, hot summer. But there's still something a little magical about it. Perhaps it's the Halloween photo shoot of a model being bitten by a werewolf, or the Wall Street banker dancing up a storm on the boardwalk, or Nathan's hotdogs which has been around since 1912 and hosts an annual hotdog eating competition on July 4…

- A main attraction in any amusement park -
- Pretty (scary) carousel horses -
- Very tasty hotdogs... since 1912 -
- Taking in the sun on a bright and blustery fall day -
- A good place to just sit -
… but then again, perhaps it's my imagination, which has been captivated by thoughts of a time long ago when life moved at a slower pace and holidays by the seaside stretched on forever and were the highlight of the year.

From New York, with love xox

0 Happy in Harlem

New York is officially having an Indian summer, a last hurrah before the fall weather starts in earnest. Today was a balmy 30 degrees Celsius, with blue sky, sunshine and summer clothes back in abundance on the streets. Well, almost… I did see ugg boots (yes, on the street!), puffer jackets and jeans as well. Honestly, I don't think everyone checks the weather forecast before they leave the house, which as a Melburnian I do with an almost obsessive regularity.

Anyways, lovely husband C. and I decided to take advantage of the fabulous weather to go for a wander around Harlem. To be honest, I was a tad concerned it would be like our accidental Redhook experience (here) which was a little scary, even on a sunny Saturday morning. However, I needn't have worried. It's gentrified and beautiful up there (around 125th St), with graceful old brownstones, tall trees shading the streets and Columbia University, where lots of trendy looking NYC teenagers hang out.

The streets are wide and the paths are clean. There was a little farmers market on Broadway and plenty of little parks and playgrounds. Harlem once had serious poverty, drug and mortality issues, with dilapidated buildings and a rat infestation, but not a trace of that remains now. The African American culture prevails with soul food on every corner and women dressed in colourful clothes with loud laughs inviting a shared smile while walking down the street.

- Even the graffitti had BMWs in front of it -
- Columbia University Librabry... a place of learning -
- The parks were pleasant and shady -
- Brownstones lined many streets in the area -
- Fall apples at the Farmers market -
- Lovely husband C. reliving his university days (he still looks like a young
uni student!) -
It was a lovely day, capped off by the arrival of my wonderful friend P. who has just moved to NYC (yay!) and dinner at Jeffrey's Grocery*.

With love, from New York xox

* My favourite for brunch, and just as good for dinner

0 Rock that Body... the BEPs in Central Park

Hmmm. This is starting to get concerning. Not only have I started to acclimatise to the (terrible) coffee, but on Friday night I was screaming my lungs out when will.i.am asked who was from New York. Next thing you know I'll be using 'z' where there should be an 's' and dropping the 'u' that should be near the 'o' in words like colour and behaviour.

But OMG. It was AMAZING. On Friday night lovely husband C. and I were in Central Park, with the city lit up behind us and the Black Eyed Peas on fire on the stage in front of us. The bass was thumping, the crowd was screaming and I was dancing for all I was worth*.

It was surreal, especially when about two thirds of the way through it started raining.  It just added to the atmosphere – the rain looked like small diamonds when it was lit up by the laser lights, glow sticks started zinging back and forth overhead and people screamed louder and danced harder. American enthusiasm is just infectious. I love it.

- The opening -
- The dancing -
- The lady -
- The lights -
- The crowd -
There was serious side to the proceedings – the BEPs had donated their time for the concert which was raising money for Robin Hood, an organization targeting poverty in NYC.

It was the most fun I've had since… well, last weekend actually. NYC is a fun place to live after all… but I'll come back home to Australia mum, I promise!

From New York, with love xox

* Bonus… having awesome fun AND exercising at the same time (which I haven't been doing a great deal of lately!)