Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Who Doesn't Love Jewelry?

I love interesting jewelry. A cool statement piece, a necklace with some sparkle, something bright. In my current casual state, I'm typically in jeans and a tshirt all day. So when I head out for an event, it's typically some black (it's easy and fast!), so like to add some fun with something from my jewelry collection.

Most of my fun baubles tends towards the less expensive end of the range. For more creative color, I have a few Femmegems pieces I've made, but most of the rest is things I've picked up here and there.

Last Wednesday I went to an event at Tribal Societe to support Young Executives for Success (Y.E.S!) and Dress for Success. A perfect opportunity to sip wine, mingle and try on jewelry.

Tribal Societe showcases products that are hand made by artistans of tribal villages worldwide. The showroom is a great little space on Hudson Street and the website is very searchable (by jewelry piece, price range, color). The company was launched in March 2009 by Nicole Basabe and Alma Sehovic (who met in BSchool, yay for Bschool ladies!). It's been featured in Stylecaster and Daily Candy.

This is the necklace I purchased. Actually, I had on one strand and then Alma suggested that it's even better with 2, and that she wears 3. Needless to say, I walked out with 3 strands.

She gave us a few business cards in case anyone asked about our purchases when we wore them. And actually, I got a complement the next night at the Inhabitat event (see last post). So it was clearly a great purchase.

Going to break out all 3 strands this Fall!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Night Out: Inhabitat at Green Depot

I love getting out to new places in the city, especially for a good cause. So consider this a report out of the Inhabitat Launch Event at the Green Depot flagship store in Manhattan.

It wasn't a post movie premiere, but an interesting event to build awareness of green products and living. Inhabitat is a blog (they call it a weblog) devoted to following green design, and pushing brands and designs to a sustainable future. You can subscribe to their newsletter on the site, so check it out.

Green Depot (@222 Bowery) was formed in 2005, with a goal to "be a leading supplier of environmentally friendly and sustainable building products, services and home solutions". They want to see green living and building that is "easy, affordable and gratifying". I love this last part: easy, affordable and gratifying. Because if it is not, I think it is just that much harder for people to make it a lifestyle.

Green Depot has its own standards to avoid the "Greenwashing" you see all of the time. Have you seen the "green" teflon coated pan at BBB? Really? I try and do what I can here: reuse my WF recycled bag, no chargers left in walls, power strip that separates the always-on from the don't-always-need-to-be-on products. I'm starting to use more glass containers to avoid the plastic chemicals, too.

So, two great organizations in one great evening. We sipped on organic cocktails (Australian sparkling wine for me), mingled with friends and explored the products. I was glad to see the plastic cups were made using corn products (what MB told me). I hate to see plastic cups tossed and wasted, so this was a move I appreciated.

I have started to use better cleaning products, but might have to check these out:

They have a huge selection of paints for the home:

The products were well merchandised:

It seems like alot of products are sold online, and this store is in an interesting location and not exactly an easy "go to" spot for my green cleaning needs. It is a great place to check out flooring, and building ideas in NYC. I would imagine Home Depot and Lowe's have products in their own stores, or are at least moving in this direction. But good to build awareness and get the word out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zucchini Bread

I wish I had a picture. I see so many great blogs with recipes and food pictures that are to die for. I do what I can with my iphone and 5 year old point and shoot, and I know it's time for an upgrade.

So I desperately wanted to take a picture of this oh so yummy zucchini bread. The cake part was crumbly and moist with chunks of raisins and walnuts. Oh, so yummy! I actually let it rest for a day before cutting in, and I find it's even better the second day.

Instead, I'm going to just provide the recipe and hope you'll enjoy. I called my mom for this one since it's the one I love most and think she's been making it for 20+ years. I think it's the crushed pineapple that adds some sweetness and makes the texture just right.

I love the way my mom gives me instructions for actually combining ingredients. They are simple (as you'll see). My mom doesn't typically "alternate" ingredients and everything she makes is wonderful. Granted, she was also reading it to me over the phone and I was writing down on the other end.

This is also my chance to mention my new Vanilla from Penzy's spices. Since I anticipate doing more baking this fall (if I bake in the summer, my 500 sq foot apartment becomes a large oven), I am upgrading my spices and flavorings. Penzy's is great, though there are only a few stores that I've seen. I'm addicted to the cinnamon there, the telecherry for our pepper, and the crushed red pepper.

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups grated zucchini (use the juice that comes from grating) = 1 very large zucchini
1 cup crushed pineapple (well drained) = 2 of those smaller cans
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
  1. Beat eggs. Add sugar. Add vanilla and oil.
  2. Add dry ingredients, alternating with zucchini.
  3. Stir in pineapple, raisins and nuts.
Bake in two 9x5 loaf pans at 350 for 1 hour.

Side note: I actually did 1 loaf pan that I filled with about 2/3 of the batter and baked 45 minutes. I hate my oven but tested the temp with a thermometer. I would recommend testing it with a cake tester to check doneness. I still don't believe my oven.

I used the rest of the batter to make muffins which I baked separately.

M loved the muffins. I think he thought it might be very zucchini tasting. Of course, he also asked for chocolate in them. I do love to put chocolate chips in anything, but for this recipe, I had to stick with the nuts/raisins/no chocolate chips combo.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stumptown Coffee Roasters @ The Ace Hotel

Isn't this great, they stamp the logo on the cup?

As you know, I'm a loyal Joe - The Art of Coffee girl, but every now and then I like to try something new. So when M. came back one afternoon and said we needed to check out Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel, I knew it was a must. This is a man who is particular about coffee and where his coffee is served.

I had already read about the Ace and put it's hotel bar on my list of "Places to Try". This is where I come clean about my obsession with NYC food blogs. I read alot of blogs about new openings. Alot. If you want to know about the new restaurant or new bar in the outer edges of Manhattan, I've probably read about it. Granted, I will not have gone there and may never go there, but I know about it and can probably tell you the menu or who hangs out there.

The hotel itself is in the no man's land of Broadway and 29th Street. After mapping the walk (it's 0.6 miles away, versus 0.4 to Joe), we set out. And the trip was worth it. It's a great space with full windows out onto 29th street. The baristas are dressed in a smart, hip way. I expected an English accent when I was asked for my order, but that didn't happen.

Stumptown was started in Portland, Oregon, and it's for real coffee people from what I hear and saw (the bags list the latitude and longitude of where the beans are grown). Food & Wine named it the Best Boutique Roaster. There are no flavorings or flavored coffee (yes, I'm the one person who likes DD's Blueberry iced coffee). The coffee is French Press in small batches. I twittered where I was and got an immediate "there's a Stumptown in Manhattan?" response. This is actually the first Stumptown establishment on the east coast; there are a few NY coffee houses that serve Stumptown coffee, though.

I am a Splenda and low-fat milk in my coffee girl, but they had sugar and cream out so I figured they must know that's what my coffee needs. I went with it.

It was a delicious cup of coffee. We got one on the house because we had to wait for one of the coffees. We probably had to wait 30 seconds. That is good customer service.

I thought the lighting above the coffee bar was neat. I will give credit to the NYT for noting it's hand blown milk glass in their article (where the also mention the tavertine floors and walnut bar trimmed in brass). These are a few details I didn't pick up on but are interesting to note.

I love coffee shops with a standing bar along the outside window. Here is the sun shining in around 8 am:

We actually retired to the Ace Hotel lobby to enjoy our brew. We decided this is a great place to come and enjoy the atmosphere with our coffee, but if we need to finish some reading (we get a few weekly mags here and it's overwhelming) we decided Joe is a better option.

I'm excited to check out the hotel bar and The Breslin when it opens (the chefs are of The Spotted Pig fame). The Ace Hotel was actually The Breslin hotel before it's new life. The interior goes for a modern and vintage look (or bohemian and sophisticated as the website describes it).

I'd love to stay here as a guest, but hard to justify when I live here!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Touch of Dutch

It's NY400 week in New York!

A little history 101 for you (let's face it, it's been a few years since American History). It was 400 years ago this year that Henry Hudson, the Dutch explorer, guided his ship, Half Moon, to the shores of what is now NYC. This became the New Amsterdam and the New Netherland colony, and then the United States after additional history. We are also celebrating 400 years of enduring friendship between the Netherlands and the US. (see below for a map with the Netherlands, just in case you forgot)

Needless to say, there have been many events - the Hudson river flotilla, the Dutch Prince and Princess on bikes in Battery Park City, the New Amsterdam Market at South Street...and Governors Island!

Governors Island is a trip even when we aren't celebrating Henry Hudson. It's only a 10 minute ferry ride away, and you can bike around the island or enjoy a picnic. It was a military facility, and then the US sold it to New York for use as public space. Yay for us!

A picture from the ferry:

To celebrate NY400 and Isabel's Birthday, we ventured out to the island for outdoor festivities (eating and drinking beer). I will note that MB and I were at the end of the long ferry line and about to give up (we actually walked away from the line). Dan called us from the front of the line and as we approached the doors to the lobby and told security we were with the pregnant lady. I hate to cut, hate to cut. But sometimes you have to. We did have a pregnant lady with the group, so it is true.

There were some interesting art installations and odd live performance art exhibits. We all had a good laugh and some jokes were made (I was with a pretty funny crowd).

We decided to stay for dinner and were served at the Captain's meal on a long wooden plank table. Yes, the servers walked down the plank and dished up potatoes and meat. And looking around, everyone devoured it. So much for low-carb New Yorkers.

What we all really wanted were the "Touch of Dutch" orange t-shirts. Apparently, a group of friends made them and they weren't for sale. Though we did wonder why orange? The Dutch flag isn't orange.

And the map (the Netherlands/Holland is between Germany and France):

Friday, September 4, 2009

Food, West and East

I took took weeks off to head out west and then back east to the Jersey Shore. It was nice to escape and go offline for a bit. Of course, we had a few good eats along the way, so thought I'd share.

First stop in Los Angeles was In-n-Out on our first full day. This is hands down the tastiest and cheapest burger I have ever had (my top 3 are In-n-Out, Shake Shack in NYC, and BLT Burger in NYC). Of course, nothing really beats a burger on your own grill (or my Dad's grill, specifically). I read "In-n-Out Burger" by Stacy Perman this spring. It was a great history of the the chain, all the tragedy that has followed, and the focus on a producing a premium product. I have to say, what I love most is that you can taste the cheese on the burger. I stopped getting cheeseburgers at most places because I found you couldn't actually taste the cheese. So why waste more calories? I had to order Animal Style, of course (translation: with grilled onions). I even had my fries Well Done (translation: fried longer to be extra crispy)

This is actually the In-n-Out in Westwood, talked about in the book. It's a very modern design, and apparently the founders didn't want to take away from the focus on food, so this was the last of this type.

On Sunday we were a little healthier. We started the day at one of MB's Peet's, which is in Beverly Hills (next to the Starbucks, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf).

I saw signs for the Beverly Hills Farmer's Market driving there. As you know, I'm a fan (see my previous posts). And this one was a huge winner. What we are missing in our own Greenmarket are the fresh fruits - figs, dates, peaches, yellow watermelon (at least that's what I thought it was). The figs were fabulous and I ate the entire basket over the course of a few days.

I love purple, so here are some of the eggplants:

We made one of our Crunchy Salads that night, accompanied by Lambrusco. Joe K, a friend currently living in Florence who we recently saw in NYC, told us Lambrusco is all the rage in Italy. So we chilled the sparkling red wine and had some with dinner. It was light, refreshing and perfect for summer. Trader Joe's wine came through for us.

Walking on the Third Street Promenade, we ran into ANOTHER farmers market. This time, we grabbed a bag of white peaches from the one guy who hadn't packed up. These peaches are actually from the Walnut Creek farmer's market, but thought they would express the idea:

And then we took our juicy fruit over to the grassy area with the ocean view (I asked, there is not official name for it, but you know what I'm talking about). This is a shot from our grassy spot:

During this trip, I was introduced to the It's It. MB mentioned this delightful treat, like it was a gift from the heavens. We tried to find it at Safeway in southern CA, but had no luck. I need to mention, that during this search, I thought I was looking for Itzit and didn't realize it was in the freezer section.

On our trip north, we drove through King City and made a pit stop. There is nothing to see here, I just needed a beverage! But I had the brilliant idea to check again (it could be the fact it was 102 degrees and that prompts thoughts of ice cream).

And here it is:

Apparently, it's a treat known to the Bay Area. The original version is vanilla ice cream sandwiched between 2 oatmeal cookies and covered in chocolate. DEEElightful!! They were first made in 1928 and haven't changed (as you can see by the box). They disappeared at some point in the 70s when Playland-at-the-Beach, a beach spot, was demolished. But the frozen treat was missed and came back.

There were lots of good eats in San Francisco during our time there (herring salad, yummy cake, grilled steak, watermelon salad, salsa verde...).

My trip didn't end on the west coast. I flew back late Monday, arrived at 12:30 am and caught a bus to Ocean City, New Jersey. This is a spot that holds quite a few memories, since we used to gather there with family. You know how you can walk by something and it smells like a memory? That is how Brown's Donuts is for me. It had been a few years since I've been back, but I've smelled a yummy/grease smell occasionally (I know, this may not be appealing to some of you!). And it reminded me of Brown's.

And here they are:

Three little pieces of hot, greasy goodness. You can watch them come out of the fryer (and it looks like the same one I remember as a girl). Note the grease stains on the paper plate. I ate all three.

And a nice close up:

Brown's was started by Mr. and Mrs. Brown back in 1976 (wow, whoever was born then must be ancient!). And they are still there. The little shop has seen some expansion over the years. But the donuts are the same.

It was a great 2 weeks. I saw friends, family, and new places.

A parting beach shot before we head into fall (and all things pumpkin and spice, yay!!):


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