12 I'm in Miami… beach*

South Beach is all about relaxing by day and partying by night. It's a flamboyant place, where people go to see and be seen. Women pour themselves into tiny bikinis or tight dresses paired with sky-high heels and men walk around sans t-shirt more often than not. Everyone is tanned, relaxed and beautiful and ready to indulge in anything hedonistic at the drop of a hat.

I personally had only one thing on my mind - plenty of quality time lazing around on a white sandy beach, refreshing swims when it got too hot and a stack of good books queued up on my e-reader. Unfortunately the weather was not beach appropriate (for me) so instead, we lingered slowly over breakfast every morning, walked miles along the beach and stopped in restaurants or caf├ęs to recharge and people watch.

- No guns on the beach? -
- The beach huts were a work of art -
- Someone left a love heart on the sand... not lovely husband C. -
- A fun family playground -
I have to say, the people watching was fabulous… I saw:
·         A bar tending class on the beach where people were throwing bottles around in their bathers
·         A burlesque dancer strutting her stuff in the front courtyard of a hotel… all the way down to the tassels  
·         A large crowd of people, dressed head to toe white, ready for a white party
·         Gold shoes with white jeans and a black vest… on a man
·         More limousines and stretch Hummers on the road than normal cars.

It was hard to come back to Chicago… where the temperature is dipping to the negatives (Celsius) this week. I'm totally looking forward to my new winter coat arriving this weekend!

From New York, with love xox

* If you've been to Miami before (or listened to a certain song by LMFAO), you'll know that I may have marginally changed the phrase that is the title of this post. The final word typically has an 'it' in the middle instead of an 'ea'...

10 Happy Thanksgiving

Lovely husband C. and I are celebrating our first American Thanksgiving, however, it likely won't be traditional*. We've taken ourselves off to Miami for four days, to check out the art deco buildings, soak up some sun and take in some local Latin culture.

I love the philosophy behind the Thanksgiving holiday – to give thanks and rejoice in the things you are grateful for. When the tradition started it was to celebrate a successful harvest. Nowadays… I'm so busy I take a lot of things for granted. It's rare that I step back and think about what I'm really thankful for...


... So, here goes - the big things I'm thankful for:

My wonderful husband, who makes me smile when I think of him and never stops supporting me

My incredible, strong, brave and inspiring Mum, and my wise-beyond-her-years sister who regularly makes me laugh so hard I cry

All of my fantastic friends, who always provide sage advice and plenty of silly fun times whenever and wherever I see them

And of course, some smaller everyday things:

Seeing the sun break through grey clouds on a rainy fall day in NYC

Finding a really good cup of coffee… anywhere in America

Waking up late on a Saturday morning with nowhere to be apart from where I choose to go

My warm winter wardrobe, ready to keep me toasty through the freezing New York winter

My e-reader full of interesting books to capture my imagination and transport my mind

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

From New York, with love xox

* Although lovely husband C. has stated we need to find a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thursday with turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

7 Christmas is around the corner

Can you believe we're nearly at the end of November already? The trees are losing their leaves in earnest now, the days are getting (much!) shorter, the air has a distinct chill and signs of Christmas are starting to come to New York City…

… in the form of the wonderful Union Square holiday market. It's a series of festively decorated red and white striped booths, each holding a treasure trove of gift ideas, decorations and delicious food (I may or may not have had the most fantastically rich and decadent hot chocolate I've ever tasted, followed by a paper-thin crepe with liberal lashings of nutella). We spent a wonderful hour wandering around compiling mental lists of things to buy next time we came back and then collapsed onto a bench to people watch for 30 minutes while I recovered from my earlier Bar Method class (more about that here).

- Union Square, New York City -
- Cute Christmas angels (L) and scented pinecones (R) -
- This rose petal tea is almost too pretty to drink -
- Crepes, bread and hot chocolate... what's not to love?! -
- A great New York themed gift idea -
I'm so excited about our Christmas plans this year. Lovely husband C. and I are flying to Poland for a family* Christmas and I'm already looking forward to showing him around the Main Square in Cracow. The Christmas market there is so atmospheric at night, especially against the backdrop of beautiful old buildings, snow crunching underfoot, breath frosty on the cold night air, sipping spicy mulled wine and slowly choosing gifts and trinkets for the Christmas tree…

… But I'm not wishing time away, we have our first Thanksgiving to celebrate later this week!

From New York, with love xox

* Unfortunately without my fabulous mum and sister, who will be in Perth… thank goodness for Skype!

12 Monday morning madness


- The Jersey Shore at sunset from the plane -
- Above a storm en route to Florida -
I travel a lot for work. In two weeks, I've been to Miami, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and back to Miami again.  I usually leave New York on Mondays and fly back on Thursday evenings. Luckily, lovely husband C. is on the same schedule and Monday mornings at our house are pretty comical…

At ridiculous o'clock on Monday, the first alarm rings. Lovely husband C. stumbles out of bed and I roll over, 'starfish' in the center of the bed, think to myself "thank god I have another 45 minutes to sleep" and promptly pass out again.

Sometime later, my alarm rings and I will myself to get out of bed, while snuggling down deeper under the covers.

About 5 mins after that, the car service calls to let me know the driver will be here on time. At this point, I typically poke one leg out from under the covers in a token effort to get out of bed. Ah, the small tricks I play on myself…  

… 10 mins later the alarm rings again and I jump out of bed, leap the length of our (admittedly small) apartment, desperately stab the buttons on the coffee machine, get ready at high speed and collapse into the car 20 minutes later wondering why I start every week so rushed.

The week is a blur of meetings, concentration, productivity and really bad coffee and I'm usually longingly wishing for a relaxing holiday on an island with no phone reception by about Tuesday morning.

Lovely husband C. and I meet back at our apartment on Thursday evenings, and I curl up on the couch in his (comfy) tracksuit pants and we share our stories from the week.

We work Friday and then the whole weekend stretches before us, to catch up with friends, explore the city and laugh together… exactly what we came here for!

From New York, with love xox

PS. Does anyone have any tips on how to make getting out of bed easier in the mornings?

11 Only in New York...

If you've ever been to NYC before, you know it's a city where things just… happen. The minute you step out of your front door, you are guaranteed to see or experience something that makes you laugh out loud, shocks you or leaves you shaking your head in bemusement, thinking "Only in New York…"

- Body art (L) and an interesting service (R)... -
- The pigeon man in Washington Square Park -
- Performers on the High line -
Take the following for example:
·      Fabulous friend P. was post-workout in her gym clothes and a big pair of sunglasses when someone stopped her on the street to ask for her autograph
·      Late one night I was hailing a cab with lovely husband C. and a group of friends when a man walked past me, blatantly looked me up and down in that New York way and said "Your outfit rocks!"… I felt like I'd passed a critical test I didn't know I was taking
·      Another friend A., was at her local bakery when she was approached and asked if she was famous… because she looked like she should be
·      I was walking down the footpath one day with lovely husband C. when a man bowed and then cleared the footpath so we could walk uninterrupted for a few meters… um, strange but hilarious  

And it's not just the girls… the guys have some interesting stories as well
·      Friend AC. was waiting for his wife on the street when a stranger came up and kissed his 8 month old daughter on the forehead before commenting on how cute she was
·      On his way to the gym early one morning lovely husband C. found himself being yelled at by a man convinced the devil was after him. Needless to say lovely husband C. go to the gym in record time… a little scary

So tell me – have you got any interesting New York stories? Does this sort of stuff happen in your home city?

From New York, with love xox

8 My inspiration

- My mum, at 25 years old -
Having moved so far away from home*, I often think back to how hard it would have been to leave family and friends in the days before email and Skype video calls. Moving across to the other side of the world 30 years ago would have been a daunting proposition, especially if you were pregnant, didn't know the language and arrived in your new country with a husband and only 50 cents to your name. That's exactly what my Mum did and I often find myself admiring her courage and sense of adventure.

Over the years my Mum has encouraged me, laughed with me, supported me and smiled so I wouldn't cry each time I moved (further) away from her, even though I took a part of her with me every time. She's the strongest, smartest and most beautiful person I know and she's taught me to…

Approach the world with curiosity and openness to trying new things. Always try to experience all that life has to offer and travel to as many different places as you can.

Smile often and laugh loud with the people you love. 

Work hard to create your own opportunities so you don't have to rely on someone else to make your dreams come true.
  
Love deeply and loyally and don't accept anything less in return, because that's the happiness you deserve. When you find it, grab tight with both hands and work at it together for the rest of your lives.  

Accept what and who you can't change or let it go, you'll be happier in the long run

Happy Birthday Mum, I love you.

From New York, with love (always), xox

* Perth, Western Australia for the first 22 years of my life

14 The oh-so-wonderful West Village

Cherry tree lane theatre, Mulberry, MAC, Nars, Diptyque, Coach, Magnolia Bakery, Rag and Bone, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, countless cozy winebars, restaurants and cafes, cute bakeries, shoe stores, boutiques filled with hip clothes, gourmet supermarkets and flower stands… it's all within a 100m walk from our apartment in the heart of the West Village (I know, I have to pinch myself).

- Brunch at Joseph Leonard and brownies at Milk & Cookies -
- An independent, quirky little book store -
- Tiles for America, messages of love and hope to remember 9/11 victims -
- Cafe Asean, make sure to grab a card so you remember where to come back to -
- The Washington Square Park arch -
- The leaves in all of their fall brilliance -
- A very cute, very industrious looking Dachsund -
- Who'd have thought the streets of NYC would be so green and leafy? -
I could happily window shop my way around the West Village again and again, drooling over the handbags at Mulberry, smelling candles at Jo Malone or Diptyque and trying on coats at Coach. That aside, there is nothing I love more in NYC than a day spent wandering around the Village…

Soaking up the autumn sunshine at Washington Square Park, listening to the jazz musicians playing. It's fun to sit back and people watch – groups of friends hanging out, people hurrying through the park on their way to somewhere else, kids playing and dogs happily chasing everything that moves.

Slowly sipping on a steaming coffee from Third Rail or Rabbit, neither of which quite stack up against a Melbourne coffee, but both of which are a soothing reminder that good coffee exists in NYC.

Munching on a flaky, still warm pain au chocolat from Patisserie Claude, making a mess and not caring because it's too good to stop eating for a second until it's all gone.

Feeling my heart melt just a little as I check out the cute-as-pie puppies in the window of the puppy store… the challenge is always choosing just one that I want to take home with me.  

Pre-dinner wine at the Upholstery Wine Bar followed by post-dinner cocktails at Little Branch or Orient Express. There's definitely food in between, usually somewhere low-key cool like Barbuto, a converted garage on Washington St.

Wandering the leafy streets lined on both sides with gorgeous brownstones – and frankly, trying to work out who can afford to live there – particularly on West 10th, my dream street.

It's so different to my Melbourne life, but so fabulous that I wouldn't want to live anywhere else right now. Life's good.

From New York, with love xox

3 9/11 memorial: a place to remember

I distinctly remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard. I was on my way home from the cinema when mid-song it was announced that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center in New York. I arrived home a few minutes later and spent the rest of the night watching the news in absolute horror, aware that emotionally, it barely scratched the surface of what Americans around the world were feeling.

Ten years later on the anniversary of the attacks, the 9/11 memorial was opened. It is a beautiful spot to reflect and honour the memory of those whose lives were cut short. Almost 3,000 names are inscribed in bronze surrounding the north and south pool and every day, thousands of people will spare a thought for those who were tragically involved so they are never forgotten.

 

If you're planning to visit the 9/11 memorial while in NYC, you need to reserve a time to attend in advance. Or alternatively, line up in the morning to book a time to come back later in the day. 

From New York, with love xox