We haven’t had too many city adventures lately, mostly because we’ve been escaping to various gardens and parks outside the city to take advantage of Spring in all its flowering glory. Commuting to an office a few days a week has also dampened my desire to take a train into Manhattan on the weekends to hang out. But now that the trees have shed all its petals and bursts of color in exchange for a canopy of green, we found ourselves in the mood to stay local this weekend.
On Friday after school, we all jumped in the car when Mark got home from the kitchen to make a delivery in Dumbo. Walking around the cobblestone streets, we counted no less than 6 wedding shoots in and around the neighborhood. With the backdrop of lower Manhattan across the river and two iconic Bridges, you can’t argue that there’s a better location for a NYC wedding photoshoot. The streets were bustling with people getting off work and you could taste the anticipation of the weekend in the air. The city in twilight hours is irresistible – you just want to stay outside and watch the light shift from gold to dusk and enjoy the evening breeze.
On Saturday morning we walked around the Lower East Side, eating our way through a block party celebrating the 75th birthday of the Essex Street Market and hitting up Economy Candy afterwards. Hard to believe, but it was our first time in the store. Remember candy cigarettes? I had totally forgotten about them, but they had them and I had to laugh at the thought that at one point in time, candy cigarettes was totally acceptable for little kids. And I loved them as a kid, I did! We used to hang them from our lips, pretending to take long drags, wearing Jordache jeans and god knows what else from the 80s. The girls just looked at the boxes like it didn’t even register. They quickly moved on to other, more enticing looking bins.
I spent the rest of the day Saturday walking around by myself, popping into stores, trying to satisfy a particular sandal search quest. When I’m looking for something I can be quite obsessed, though with much less shopping stamina than I used to have. It had been awhile since I walked leisurely around the city alone and it felt like this great luxury of time. I looked through all the open windows of cafes and restaurants and felt a weird jealous pang of all the people brunching, which is silly, of course. I can’t explain it, but something about that particular scene that morning just felt far removed from my life. Maybe it was just being in the Lower East Side which isn’t a neighborhood I go to much anymore; it reminds me of a past life I used to have. I guess I’ve also become more reclusive in this last year. But the day ended with a backyard potluck dinner back in Brooklyn with our other food biz friends, so I’m not as much of a lost cause on the social front as I sound.
The weekend felt like a precursor to what we can look forward to this summer. It’s already June. I do hope time paces itself a bit. Although we have much to look forward to in the coming months, I’m wanting time to sloooooow down. 24 hours in a day isn’t nearly enough.
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I’ve been pretty quiet, I know. But sometimes you need to be quiet, you know? Just to balance out the “loudness” of life and all that comes with being alive. But I wanted to share these photos of our recent visit to Wave Hill in the Bronx. I suspected Spring would be a nice time to come, but I didn’t expect such a spectacular display of flowers. Seriously, this magnolia tree; it was magnificent. I had never seen blossoms like these before. It looks like a Saucer Magnolia which is everywhere in the city, but these blooms were fuller and luscious with a deeper, vibrant shade of pink, plus the blossoms were still very much peak when most of the sidewalk magnolia petals had fallen. As tall as the tree was, some of the branches of this massive tree curved down to the earth almost as if the size of the giant blossoms weighed it down.
I was pretty enchanted by all the various potted cactus and succulents when we visited last summer, but look…flowers! I wasn’t expecting to see them flowering this time around. I tried to get the rest of the family over to take a look while I geeked out on the flowers but they weren’t as overtly impressed like I was. Pffftttt.
And more magnificent magnolias – this time, a different species and a paler shade of pink.
I’ve been enjoying the flowers this Spring a little more intensely than other years. I guess something about surrounding yourself with beauty to remind yourself of the good things in life. Or something like that, right?
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I’ve always liked New Years Day. What’s not to like? The start of the new, a clean slate, all that stuff. I was blindsided by how tough the holidays were this year. I didn’t really expect it to be that hard and I’m relieved it’s over. As the day wore on yesterday, I felt a weight being lifted after feeling depressed for weeks. So strange! But if that’s how holidays are going to be from now on, at least I know and I’ll brace myself for next year.
This New Year’s Day we made sure to make rice cake soup, a tradition for good luck in the coming year. I admit to being superstitious enough that I feel out of sorts if I don’t have it on New Year’s Day, and I didn’t want to jinx myself this year, superstitions aside. I also realized that upon reflection of last year (which is really hard not to do, despite the desire to look forward and not behind), I felt isolated and lonely. Some of this was circumstantial and of my own doing as a way to cope and grieve, and I don’t know if some of my relationships will ever be the same, but I’m hoping to climb out of this. Despite it all, I woke up this morning feeling pretty okay. Isn’t this what New Year’s Day is for?
We ended our day (and holiday season) with a drive to Dyker Heights to see the crazy Christmas houses. I’ll confess that it was my first time. If we’re in the mood for a show of crazy decorations, we usually go to Queens – less famous for the lights maybe, but equally mind-boggling. I think I was more intrigued by the houses though, since it was my first time in the neighborhood. I walked around with my jaws dropped pretty much the whole time. Clearly the bigger mcMansion-style homes with Roman columns, landscaped yards and outdoor fountains (apparently, if you have money in Dyker Heights, your house has a fountain) are newer than the typical brick rowhouses that define so much of Brooklyn and Queens. These newer homes looked so odd nestled between these semi-attached houses and older turn of the century mansions. It was fascinating; I didn’t feel like I was in Brooklyn at all.
P.S. There’s a new year’s sale on our site.
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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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I heard on the news that a 10 year old girl drowned at Coney Island a day after our visit last week, climbing around the rocks after life guard hours. She and her little sister were pulled by people nearby, but she did not survive. I was just staring at those same rocks the evening before.
I think I’ve become more sensitive about adolescent pressures and the growing independence of the kids since the summer – not that those 3 things necessarily relate to each other, but they’ve all been on my mind lately. I wrote about independence a few months ago, but I struggled this morning thinking about middle school next Fall and the possible logistics of getting the girls to different schools at different times. I know that it’s still a year away and we haven’t even started the stressful middle school application process coming up in the Fall, but this was the thing I fixated on this morning. Ultimately, the kid will have to get to school by herself, like the majority of middle school kids in our neighborhood, but at this point in time, the concept of her walking around anywhere without me is something I can’t wrap my head around.
Sometimes I just want to hold on to my kids for as long I can, but I know I can’t protect them forever. After what’s happened recently, I have a new fear that didn’t really exist before, but they need to learn how to be independent too – to be able to navigate themselves in this crazy world, to learn how to cope with challenges, stress, peer pressure, and to learn how to survive. You can’t do any of those things for other people no matter how much you want. Isn’t that ultimately our job as parents? Our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did and most certainly will be adults in a world different from ours now too. We’re facing stuff as parents that no other generation has had to deal with before. In a way, we’re adapting and experiencing rapid changes in technology simultaneously so there isn’t as much hindsight knowledge to reflect on that might help inform us. Mostly, I think technology and the internet is positive and good, but we live in some weird times and there’s a lot of ill intent out there; childhood also feels shorter somehow.
P.S. That mural which has been the backdrop to so many photos I’ve taken of the girls over the years is being dismantled because of the structural integrity of the bricks. No one seems to know if it will be repainted again. Of all the things that have been disappearing in NY lately, this one made me really sad.
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