Did you have a good weekend-before-Halloween? One of our favorite harvest festivals in the city happen to be in the Meatpacking District and that’s where we spent our morning on Saturday. It’s held in the little plaza off of Gansevoort and the activities and even some of the food is free as local businesses in the neighborhood donate their time and goods. The kids are at an age, as Mia rather begrudgingly observed, where they are aging out of some of the holiday events in the city, but this harvest fest is still fun and age appropriate. I like it too because it’s small and very neighborhoodly and I guess I still get a kick out of the irony of this very family and kid friendly event held right in a neighborhood that was known for sex clubs, slaughterhouses and prostitutes even as recently as 15-20 years ago. But you know…NYC has changed, yada yada.
I guess Mark has now lived in the city long enough to even wax nostalgic about the old days. He started working as a pastry cook in Soho when it had long turned touristy and expensive in the mid to late 90s, but the Meatpacking District was nothing like it is now when he took a job at a new restaurant in 1999. Fressen was one of 2 restaurants that opened in the meatpacking district at a time when you could walk around and still see blood stains and grease on the cobblestoned streets. Meatpacking plants and butcheries still remained in the area, but down from the few hundred that existed when the neighborhood got its name. It was kind of exciting to go down to the restaurant in those days when Mark worked nights. There was really nothing there – just dark streets, hand lettered signs from the meatpacking plants, and the iconic sidewalk overhangs where sides of beef hung on large metal hooks that characterized this neighborhood. All of it is gone now of course, and all replaced by high end boutiques, hotels and restaurants. Probably the last nail on the coffin to any connection in the neighborhood’s namesake was when Western Beef closed in the mid-2000s.
But I think the closing of a little restaurant called Florent in 2008 was the most devastating blow to the area to New Yorkers who liked to lament on changing times. I loved Florent. I didn’t go there as often as I would have liked, but I loved its story: the owner, a Frenchman who named the restaurant after himself and put his name in lights – pink neon lights in the front window – took over a luncheonette on Gansevoort Street in 1985. Florent was much beloved, but its fate fell like so many businesses like his; the rent was reportedly increasing to 30k a month (30k!).
I might very well be destined to become one of those old people who sit around in outdoor cafes remembering how things were back in olden times, but I admit I still rather enjoy the new Meatpacking District, especially on a brilliant October morning like this past weekend. Ironically, some of the early retailers and restaurants who moved into the area in the late 90s and early 2000s as the first wave to gentrify the area have closed up or moved on to other neighborhoods because the rent has gotten so high (Stella McCartney comes to mind, and Fressen closed some years after it opened). Seems like only the big chains like Apple can afford the rent these days.
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I love taking photos of fireworks (I’m tempted to print these big). As long as the Macys Fireworks show stays on the Hudson River, we’ll continue to watch the fireworks that my mom’s town puts on in Long Island. Less crowds and we get to be right under them up close (but not too close. We learned our lesson last year when it was a little scary as embers rained down on us for most of the show).
Speaking of the Macys show, if it continues to stay on the Hudson River as it has been for the past 5 years, maybe Brooklyn needs to initiate a Kickstarter to have our own fireworks show over the East River again. We can all pitch in a few bucks.
Hope you all had a great holiday weekend. We had a mini vacation and came back to Brooklyn late afternoon to a brownout and firetruck commotion on our street. Heatwave in the city! We’re in the dog days of summer now…
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I don’t know why I even have a “craft” category for the blog seeing as we seem to only accomplish 2 kinds of crafts each year – paper snowflakes and Easter egg dyeing (and if you click on crafts, that’s pretty much all you see post after post – so much so that it’s laughable). We haven’t even carved pumpkins in the last few years because the girls get too attached to their pumpkins and can’t bear the thought of stabbing them with knives and scooping out the guts. Oh! I tried to teach the girls how to make origami cranes last week, but that didn’t really go over so well because I forgot how to fold one myself and the only origami paper we had was too small for tiny hands trying to make precise folds. Hey, I tried.
After last year’s rather successful first attempt at natural egg coloring, we went back to the Paas dye tablets, mostly because Mark’s mom sent us a box in the Easter care package she sent us. We didn’t do anything fancy this year (though I thought about it for a minute, I swear). Mia did scratch a phrase in wax on one of her eggs: “Peace, love and hamburgers” (uh, whatever that means to 9 year olds), but we did try ombre-ing a few of the eggs. I think next year I might try experimenting with tape.
We took our traditional drive upstate to spend Easter with Mark’s dad and uncle. The girls get super excited about Easter because of the egg hunts (this year we drove out to a state park to hide chocolates in the woods). Nothing was Spring-like about it because the weather was still a bit chilly and the trees still so bare, but they still had a super good time. I find it funny that they are both so blinded by the fact that one of us is obviously the Easter bunny hiding the candy. I’m surprised that Mia still believes there’s a furry animal with thumbs capable of placing chocolate eggs on window sills and perched on tree branches. She knows there isn’t a tooth fairy and hasn’t really believed in Santa in awhile (though she claims to believe in him again), so why the Easter bunny? Especially when I had “mysteriously disappeared” while Mark took them to a bench to look out over the lake.
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Miss C left this box for me on my bed side table last night, instructing me to open it in the morning. I usually sleep in on Thursdays since it’s the one day of the week that Mark walks the girls to school, so she knew that she probably wasn’t going to see me in the morning. Truth is, she made this Valentine’s Day box way back in November and hid it among her things until last night. She likes to plan ahead like that, although Mark just got a note on a green post-it. When asked why he only got a post-it when I got a box of treasures, she replied that she didn’t have enough time because of all the Valentines that she had to make for all her classmates.
So when did Valentine’s Day become another Halloween? The kids came home with cards and all sorts of candy collected from their classmates and dumped them on the floor to sort and look through. I guess the good thing about it is the mandatory rule of bringing a Valentine to everyone if you plan on handing our Valentines. We didn’t have such rules when I was a kid. I still remember how dreadful Valentine’s Day was back in high school. Like many schools back then, some adult thought it’d be a good idea to give teenagers an opportunity to give out roses for their girlfriends/boyfriends/secret crushes during homeroom period. It was the one day of the year in the years of teenage angst where your relationship status or lack thereof was made public and flaunted. Yeaaaah, really great idea. All the popular kids carried around their multiple roses like a status badge that proved just how popular they were. Couples sent each other flowers; the rest of us unloved ones walked around rose-less and everyone knew it, unless you made a secret pact with your girlfriends before hand to send each other sympathy roses so you didn’t look like a complete loser sitting there empty handed during homeroom when the roses were handed out. My high school was a big school – there were about 700 kids in my graduating class so the cliques and social groups were varied and deep, but it didn’t matter if you were a jock, a cheerleader, a brainy nerd, a rocker or an arty goth freak. Valentine’s Day had a way of crossing social lines and making anyone feel awkward and annoyed. High school. It was carefree, but oh so complicated and full of angst all at once.
Valentine’s Day never was a holiday that I embraced or liked, despite the fact that I have either been in relationships or married for the past 23 Valentines. Mark and I have never really celebrated it and if you’re in the restaurant industry then you would be working that evening anyway, just as he did for pretty much every Valentine’s Day up until we started the business. But like a lot of things, it’s taken up a new meaning now that we have kids. I think Mia’s beginning to move away a little from all the lovey hearts and such, but Miss C is still all over it, although both girls kinda sighed after making their 20th Valentine with a few more to go.
When I asked Claudine why she liked Valentine’s Day so much, she replied that it’s a day where we get to love each other a little more. I told her that I loved her the same on this day, just as I did everyday.
She didn’t really care for that answer.
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Oh, 2012. I would be lying if I said I loved you. Truth is, I’m glad that in in less than 12 hours you will be gone. Still, all that happens for good and bad is part of life and we are absolutely lucky in that we have family and friends and a roof over our heads and are able to live in a city we love.
I usually spend the last few days of the year obsessively cleaning, purging closets, filing away paper and receipts and cleaning out junk drawers. It’s part OCD and part superstition, tying loose ends and preparing for a clean slate and a clean house for the new year. The house is tidy, but the paperwork is still piled high and junk drawers remain an unorganized mess filled with forgotten trinkets from the old year. It’s ok though. One thing that I have learned this year is to let go of the pursuit of perfection. Life doesn’t really operate that way. It is full of mistakes and surprises and unexpected turns. Honestly? I’m disappointed in myself this year for many reasons I won’t share, but I’m letting that go. Messy drawers and piles of paperwork aside, that’s one thing I won’t carry over to the new year.
Happy new year, friends.
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