Took a morning off last week to visit the new Whitney Museum, a much delayed visit after we unsuccessfully attempted to go on opening day. I love how the city is as much an integral part of the museum experience as the artwork it houses. There’s something about the architecture of the new building that blurs the outside with the in. There are outdoor spaces that connect each floor with an exterior staircase, and couches line up opposite large windows for expansive city views on some of the gallery floors. The move from the Upper East side to the Meatpacking District where the High Line ends was a great move, and the new Whitney feels just as airy as the old building felt heavy and oppressive.
We haven’t had too many city adventures this summer. We usually have a checklist of favorite activities and places we like to hit up every year and we’ve barely touched it. Summer’s usually when we spend large amounts of time together, but everyone in the family’s got their own thing going on at the moment. We spend our days apart, and come together in the evenings. It seems unlikely we’ll make a dent in our list at all, but it does seem inevitable that this is what life will increasingly look like as the girls get older.
One thing that’s really changed for me in the past year is that I rarely go out at night anymore. To be honest, I don’t really miss it, but the rare times that I do is during summer evenings. There’s nothing quite like sitting outside as the sun goes down with some kind of drink in hand, the city buzzing around you. Will need to do that at least once or twice before the weather gets too cool. Hope you’re having a great summer.
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It’s a full year later than when we originally intended to launch a new site, but it’s now live. Since Google announced about a month ago that it’ll rank mobile-friendly sites higher in search results, it was critical to do so (I need to get this blog on the mobile-friendly program soon too). Our old site was already suffering from poor SEO due to some of the typographic design decisions I implemented when we launched that site years ago that have since made it outdated as far as SEO goes, so now that we’re back on the search results grid, I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting our site to rank higher for certain keywords. I think this new site might be the 4th or 5th version since we started our business 8 years ago and every version is a reflection of where we are currently in web design trends.
Increased bandwidth over the years have resulted in web designs that feature bigger, higher resolution photos, but design has gotten more templated and in a way, maybe even “less creative” due to the fact that sites need to be responsive in nature so that they’re optimized across all devices. When I look back at the very early days of web design and coding, we used to design the craziest stuff because there were no rules back then and it was all experimentation. Usability wasn’t a thing yet; it was just novel to get anything up on the web and graphic assets, particularly photos, were limited to bandwidth. When I started designing websites for clients back in the late 90s/early 2000s, I experimented a lot with navigation, especially when Flash websites were a thing, and it makes me laugh now because they seem so user-unfriendly by today’s standards. Now, 15 years later, we have best practices, CMS, templates, and usability requirements that have almost homogenized web design. Is WordPress killing web design? That’s up for debate. These are big generalizations, of course, and there are lots of beautiful, unique and creative websites out there in the world, but I admit this has played a part in my desire to move on from this part of my career.
All of this isn’t a bad thing, obviously. Good usability IS good design and that’s a beautiful thing. So while our new website might not be the most creative website I’ve designed, I’m thrilled with how it works across all devices and even happier still with how easy it is to update and maintain on the backend. Hopefully, it will be a better user experience across the board for you too.
P.S. Our Father’s Day Gift Box is available. Order deadline is June 14th. Head over to our new site for details.
P.P.S. Sign up for our mailing list on the website. We don’t send out too many newsletters (promise!), but we do send out emails with exclusive sales for our newsletter subscribers.
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Do you know how sometimes among friends it can be hard to collectively agree on plans? Everyone throws out ideas and then you do this back and forth dance until a decision is finally made. It ends up sounding a little something like this:
So what do you guys want to do today?
Do you want to go to a museum?
Do you want to go to the street fair?
Do you want to go to the East Village? I think there’s a traveling circus performing today.
Do you want to go to Dumbo? There’s an art festival there.
I don’t want to go to Dumbo, I don’t want to go anywhere.
When your kids get older and start expressing their opinions about weekend plans, it gets much harder to motivate the family out of the house sometimes because there’s always that one person who disagrees and throws everything off when you have 4 people trying to make decisions. Sure, we can exercise our parental powers and make all the decisions – and we often do otherwise we’d be going to Coney Island every single weekend if they had their way – but we do like to give the kids a vote on how we spend our weekends sometimes. But holy hell! It can be a painful process.
When we finally got out of the house in the afternoon on Sunday after much group deliberation, Dumbo was already teeming with people. The Dumbo Arts Festival is an annual three day art event with exhibits, open studios and plenty of tables and supplies on the street to make your own little pieces of art. Despite the crowds, it was one of those weekend days that made the effort of getting out of the house quite worth it. Sometimes crowds can be draining and other times it can be energizing, and Sunday was one of those days where it felt good to be out in the city amongst other New Yorkers, looking at art, getting inspired and enjoying what is probably the last of the lingering summer weather. NY was full of energy last weekend; so many different kinds of events happening all over the city. And thank you to those who stopped by our booth at the Chile Festival on Saturday. If we appeared frazzled, I apologize. It’s always our biggest event of the year and this year proved no different. It isn’t often that I’m at these events, so it makes me really happy to hear people come back to say that the Chocolate Curry Fudgsicles were the best thing they had at the Festival or that they had never tasted this flavor combination before. And to that man who enjoyed the Massaman Curry Peanut Butter Sandwiches so much that he saved the last bite in a napkin to enjoy later because he didn’t want the cookie to end – you made my day.
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An open studio visit on Governors Island’s Artist in Residency program. Gabrielle Duggan’s studio on the top floor of one of the old buildings in Colonel Row. It was very calming to be in that space, all nooks and crannies and peeling paint. I could have sat there and traced each thread as it weaved itself around the stairwell landing for hours.
No one is an island; everyone is connected. Your words and comments are very much appreciated.
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An afternoon at the Whitney Museum on a weekend when there are sketching tours and open studios for kids on their calendar is a great way to spend a Saturday in the city. Admittedly, the girls usually groan when I announce that we’re going to an art museum, but they always declare it a fun day after the fact. Give them an activity booklet and a pencil and they make it their mission to fill out all the pages and find the relevant artwork to each activity. They’re tireless, and their love for crafting is tireless too. You all know by now that I’m not a crafter, but I admit I may have been picked up a piece of yarn and a pipe cleaner or two that afternoon (though the other day at my friend’s house I absentmindedly starting playing around with these striped pipe cleaners while we talked and made something of a sculptural piece with them. But I wouldn’t call that crafting either. I was fidgeting, and there is a difference).
I love how so many museums in the city organize activities and special tours for kids to get them engaged in the art. Kids under 18 have free admission too which makes it easier for a family to spend the day at the museum. As funding gets cut in NYC publics, art education is sadly one of the first things to go unless you have a PTA that has the fund-raising skills and resources to reinstate those enrichment classes, but unfortunately not every school is able to do this. I’d love to think that we benefit from having world class museums in the city that we live in, and as parents we can help supplement arts education for our kids, but the reality is that we probably don’t get to museums enough.
Now, the girls are old enough that we are paying subway fare for the 10 year old, though oddly enough paying for subway fare is determined by height and not by age which kind of sucks for families with tall kids. We’ve been getting away with the girls ducking under the turnstiles for a long time and bus drivers will still let the kids go on for free, but Mia is just too tall to be doing the ducking thing. This means that at some point it will cost us 20 dollars at the current fare for a family of 4 to take a round trip ride on the subway, and $30 if we need to make an additional stop and ride the train 3 times in a day. I love public transportation, but wow, I never considered the soon-to-be costs of these outings. I hate to say it but driving will become far cheaper and after our train experience last Saturday, definitely more pleasant. Not sure if it’s because the weather was so nice and there were more riders and tourists in general, but the subways were crowded, like rush hour levels crowded. The kind of crowded where you’re packed in like sardines and you wonder to yourself, even though you are totally pro-public transportation all the way, if the destination is worth the hassle of getting there. The girls were getting squished, especially because adults can’t see them at their eye level when they’re trying to push their way in. All they can see is an empty space thinking there’s more room when in fact it’s being occupied by children. So much fun, so much stress, trying to prevent your kids from getting trampled on a crowded train while you become that obnoxious person on the train who yells, “hey, we can’t move further in because there are kids down here!”.
I admit that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to subway fare because as self employed people in NYC, we have to pay the MTA a commuter transportation mobility tax because…who knows why? It’s the stupidest tax created for the self employed on the planet. Let’s penalize freelancers who don’t even commute by making them pay hundreds of dollars to the MTA every year! So yes, even though we only ride the subway a handful of times a month if that, Mark and I both pay more tax to the MTA than we spend on subway fare every year. It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? (said no self employed person ever). So whenever I think about the MTA tax, I shove Mia under the turnstiles at the subway stations despite her protests of wanting to pay, explaining to her that I’ve already paid for her, in taxes!
Oh, New York. Sometimes we put up with your bullshit to get to the good stuff.
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