Monday, 31 December 2012

From my 2012 to your 2013

While most of you are out having a great time and drinking yourselves silly I have yet to start my celebration. Weirdly (for me at least as it's my first time) I'm still in the ends of 2012 while everyone I know has started the new year. So this year has been very interesting, with lots of change and lot's to reflect on. While I ponder on how to put this to you, and also a better time to write it to you (you're probably all drunk by now) I leave you instead with this awesome video of the Empire State Building. You know I'm obsessed with it's constant changing colours but tonight they pulled out all the stops!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Punchdrunk in NYC

I know some of you have had the pleasure of going to a Punchdrunk production, so you'll understand my excitement when I found out they were coming to New York. This company specializes in unconventional theatre. Mainly, they take away the format of an audience in chairs and you are encouraged to step into the play. How does that work? They usually take over vast buildings and turn each corner into a set which you can explore. You're allowed to look in cupboards, check in drawers and sit at tables. Your role as viewer is distinguished by the use of a white mask. This play called 'Sleep No More' was loosely based on Macbeth, transported centuries later to a hotel (and it's surrounding areas) and told through a film noir narrative. We were greeted at the hotel lobby complete with a bar and sexily clad waitresses in 40s attire. On the stage next to the piano was a suited man drooling sexily into the mic letting us know that it was nearly time to finish our drinks and head to our rooms. Once inside the adventure begins. All I can say was that the sets were breathtaking! We were taken from dark forest, to churchyard, to graveyard as well as inside the exquisite hotel complete with ballroom.

Then you have two options, explore the rooms at your own pace ignoring people as they pass. Stay in your chosen room and wait to see who comes in. Or find a character that intrigues you and follow them on their journey. We were completely distracted following anyone that crossed our path. The temptation of finding out where they were headed to was too much to pass up. The most frustrating thing is thinking of all the places that you missed. And this is exactly how we felt when we were all ushered in for the last act of the play only to see new characters that we hadn't met on our travels. I just want to go back and give it another go. I wonder what I'll encounter this time.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Unhealthy attraction

Although both London and New York are cosmopolitan cities there are many cultural differences that set them apart. One that particularly stands out is the New Yorker's relationship to pets. Now even though it's claimed that NY is the most pet friendly city in the world, I now know it was simply a journalist who self proclaimed their city as the most friendly through a misguided opinion of living in the best city in the world. I have news for you, it's horrible and THE worst place you could have a dog. For starters NY has practically no green spaces (or rather Manhattan doesn't and this is yet another problem, dictating where one can live) and dogs are never allowed off lead! All it does have are gimmicks, lots of places to pamper your pet, presumably so you don't have to feel guilty.

What this leads to is a very weird fascination with dogs. People will gather around the fence of the dog parks and simply watch dogs at play. They also take photographs, lots of photographs of individual dogs as though they were documenting an unmissable tourist sight. I've seen couples enter the dog park together and sit watching the dogs. I've seen kids enter the park and follow dogs around seeing which one they like best. I've recently struck up several conversations with an old Jewish man who was knowledgeable about different breeds and was always in the dog park at the same time as me. He was always petting the dogs and took a particular shine to Paco. Yesterday after yet another pleasant conversation he left, sans dog. That's not normal right?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Giving Thanks

We're back from Portland relaxed, chilled and after a red eye flight, completely jet-lagged. We went to spend it with wonderful friends who offered to host our very first Thanksgiving. This being a holiday that we don't do in the UK and a complete mystery to me. It seemed to be more popular than Christmas which is what really complicated my opinions of this tradition. I mean, what? How dare you even suggest that there could be something bigger than Christmas in a yearly calendar! What could be more amazing than having a few days off work to spend with family? What could be greater than having food to gorge on all day. Yummy pumpkin mash with a pecan crust, green beans cooked in a cream sauce with a gratin topping, or a juicy turkey marinated overnight in brine and cooked with a crunchy leak and bread stuffing. What could be more relaxing than spending the whole weekend with good company and relaxing by a fire?

Oh wait a minute, this all sounds a lot like Christmas! So let me get this straight, this is an opportunity to put aside any religious beliefs and spend quality time with the family. To take a few days off and relax. To cook great food and eat it. To have yet another turkey. And you still get Christmas at the end of the year. Yes it's official, I am a huge fan of thanksgiving. Fully converted and looking forward to next year.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Home from home

We've now officially been in New York for 3 months and I still haven't posted any pictures of our home. All I can say is that for a really long time the apartment just wasn't up to being photographed. We've had it painted, windows cleaned, house professionally cleaned, furniture swapped and sinks replaced. Our personal belongings only arrived a month ago and finally with little bits of home the apartment has started to feel like home. So here is a tour of our home away from home, an unusually huge flat for Manhattan. It has a kitchen diner, a living room diner and boasts 3 bathrooms. There's also a mighty comfy spare room (ahem...) but you should know that I have also turned it into my personal closet. As you do. 

Monday, 12 November 2012


Empire State & Madison: An everyday view. I cannot tire of photographing this amazing building. It's so beautiful and looks different every time.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


What happens when the city that never sleeps is forced to sleep? An eerie alternate city emerges. New York looks completely different in the dark. The New York attitude is about the only thing that stayed the same. I saw huge trucks squaring up to little guys in squish-able little cars, only to find themselves unable to intimidate them. The lack of traffic lights meant that we had an endless chorus of honking from around 5pm as commuters desperately attempted to make their way home. And Paco's evening walk was like something out of The Twilight Zone, complete and utter darkness for blocks. 

The worse things was seeing all the major New York landmarks shining like beacons of light. The Chrysler, Grand Central and the worst offender the Empire State that actually changed colors to orange for Halloween. As Hipster Dufus said, they really should have switched off their lights in solidarity to those of us that had to go without. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Learning to survive...

When we realized there was a tornado headed for New York we didn't so much as flinch. For days the report told us that it was going to pass below us and we'd simply experience high winds. Nothing bad we thought, we'll just have to get out the winter clothing. Then literally two days before we were told that actually, it probably will pass through Manhattan but still nothing to worry about, just make sure you're not on the streets. Then the day before suddenly low lying areas of Manhattan were being evacuated. Well we're in Midtown so surely nothing to worry about. And we set off on at least making sure we had the basics for survival. Here is my guide of what you need to survive a storm:
So in conclusion, what you need is the following:

To make extremely strong friendships with someone who lives on the upper west/east side!!! 

It doesn't matter how much you prepare, living off dry food and sitting in a cold flat with nothing to do is always going to be uncomfortable! Those guys didn't so much a flinch in the storm. All these areas kept their power and its been a nightmare to look up 6 blocks and see light, literally light at the end of the dark NY tunnel. So close but no cigar! We did receive offers to go and bathe in people's homes but it was just weird for this to be your first encounter with people. I felt uncomfortable going to someone's house to simply use their facilities. Not to mention the added stress of knowing you had to return home. So there you have it, the only advise you need to survive a storm in New York.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Autumn colors

When you live in a city like New York especially in Midtown where we are, autumn simply means grey days and even grey-er (yep it's not a word) tall buildings. So Hipster Dufus insisted that we get out of the city in search of the famous fall colours of upstate. A day off in the UN provided the perfect opportunity, and off we went. After a hellish drive through the badly laid New York highways into the even worse multiple lanes of New Jersey we arrived at Storm King Art Centre. This beautiful 500 acres sculpture park includes works by artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Anish Kapoor.

Fall is definitely the time to visit, the changes in season add depth and texture to the already breathtaking beauty of the park. It looked magical and otherworldly. I took no less than three camera's and am glad that I did. I was completely obsessed with everything I saw. Hipster Dufus hogged the Canon AE-1 while I used the Olympus EPM-1. I then used the VSCO Cam on my iPhone to edit the pictures being as it is the perfect tool for creating light and breezy looking images. And yes I used the one on my phone as I am too poor to afford the editing software for my computer. I just can't justify it yet. Shame... what do you think of these images?

Monday, 22 October 2012

Lobster & Brooklyn

Yesterday we ventured out to Red Hook in Brooklyn. Hipster Dufus had a burst of inspiration and hogged the Canon AE-1 all afternoon so I was left with only my iPhone. It was such a wonderfully visual place that I didn't want to not take any photos however the iPhone camera made it look so stark and harsh. I decided that I needed to edit my photos to reflect the feel of the area. First I tried my trusty Camera+ app but I wanted a more natural effect so I used the VSCO Cam app instead. Here is an example of how I edited this photo.
Here is the original and the VSCO Cam version side by side. As you can see the VSCO Cam has a warm dreamy quality. It adds depth and a graininess to the photos that completely belies their smartphone origin. I haven't used this app very much so I'm sure I haven't done it very well but its features allow you to add qualities like grain, saturation and enhancing colors. I love it! Check out their website and get some inspiration for other worldliness iPhone photos. 

As for my opinion of Red Hook? Well it was an interesting place. Little bursts of creativity nestled far between each other linked with abandoned buildings and derelict streets. Which made for a beautiful photography setting, with inspiration everywhere. We walked around and went into little jewelry stores and little coffee shops, however pride place in my stomach was reserved for the Red Hook Lobster Pound. For dessert we had some Key Lime Pie from Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie. I'm telling you, when you come to New York do venture out and have some as it is totally worth it. There wasn't enough to keep us entertained for an entire day, but I definitely think a lovely Saturday morning or afternoon can be had and then added on to other plans.  

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pippin Accessories

Another New York vintage find was the wonderful Pippin Vintage Jewelry on 17th Street. A vintage store with a difference, and that's really a hard concept. But this store only has vintage accessories, jewelry/bags/hats lovely little trinkets and statement pieces. I was there for ages as there's so much to see and I was convinced I'd missed things. In the end I came away with a gold chain mail cigarette purse which I am of course using as a coin purse.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

One man's rubbish...

I have always wanted one of those french style love seats. It's one of those pieces of furniture that always looks exquisite, and makes any living room look dreamy, romantic and vintage. Unfortunately they are also incredibly expensive. The reason they look so good is that they are so often unattainable, you just can't justify the expense.

Imagine my utter joy then when one of my neighbors was simply throwing his out! I immediately asked the super to bring it to our apartment. It's a little dirty but the material is completely intact, no rips or damage at all. So the question now is do we get it industrially cleaned, or reupholster it? Maybe clean it for now and then take our time to find new material that will suit our house in a few years time!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Come out to play-ay

Yesterday we ventured out to Coney Island before the end of the season, the park closes for the summer at the end of October. I knew EXACTLY what I needed to do. Grab my vintage SX-70 folding camera and test out their new colour protection film. This is the film that finally behaves like the old polaroid films. No need for careful planning of how to immediately cover the film so it's not exposed to light. Simply take the picture, place it inside a pocket/bag and let it develop. Then 30 minutes later see what you've created.

I didn't even need to try very hard, every corner was another great potential shot. The camera really captures the vintage essence of the rides too. From the Wonder Wheel with it's swinging carts (very scary actually) to the rickety wooden Cyclone roller coaster. Only the second highest wooden roller coaster in the world I was told. Hipster Dufus somehow managed to convince me to give it a try and...
Well, let's just say that after the third surprisingly steep dip I was so scared I stopped screaming. My mouth remained opened but nothing came out.

So much inspiration to be had that even the iPhone was a usful tool, these pictures were all taken with the phone's native camera and have not been edited at all.

Friday, 12 October 2012

I'm Loving Angels...

In London we're absolutely spoilt for vintage shopping. One of my favorite things to do was knowing exactly where I needed to go depending on what I wanted to buy. At least 50% of my wardrobe is vintage. Now I have a whole new city to discover vintage shopping in, and my first discovery was Angel Street Thrift shop in Chelsea. I literally just found this place while on my way to somewhere else. This is not the type of vintage that I myself like but I was impressed by their vast array of designer labels. It also has a large selection of furniture and trinkets for the home.

What really attracted me and made it post worthy is their amazing collection of vinyls. At first glance it consists of only operatic performances and classical music. But on both trips I found some great albums including the wonderful soundtrack to Funny Face, Louis Armstrong and my personal favorite The Beatles Abbey Road album for $1!!!! Nothing like lying around and listening to original vinyls that crackle all the way through the album.

Monday, 8 October 2012


Flying the Flag: I've had a great idea for a new feature. I loose some of my favorite shots on Instagram and always have to alter them to fit the site's format. So I'll start showcasing them here, while explaining how I created them. First up this amazing shot of the Flatiron building taken on the iPhone's native camera and edited using Instagram with the Rise filter.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Why Ambassador...

Hello everyone, I survived my Ferrero Rocher lunch. Thank you all so much for your input on the dress dilemma, I'm such a big girl! In the end the burnt peach and lace dress had equal nominations so Hipster Dufus had the deciding vote. He decided on the lace. As for the lunch, it was lovely and just really confirmed that my analysis of the diplomatic life is accurate. It's basically networking at a government level. I was sat at the same table as the Ambassadors wife who was lovely and told us many stories about meetings with the PM and the Ambassador's upcoming meeting with none other than our Majesty the Queen.

Their house was gorgeous, priceless art hanging on all the walls, the furniture was spotless with not so much as a crease on anything. At one point Hipster Dufus put his coffee cup on their spotless white window sill and my heart literally stopped. I found myself uttering the most alien words to come out of my mouth "darling perhaps let's not be the ones responsible for staining the Ambassador's house..." That was it, my transition into fully fledged diplomats wife is well and truly underway. All I need is to host an dinner/afternoon tea while wearing some floral concoction and I'm there. And I swear I feel it coming. Now I would have loved to have taken some photos inside their amazing apartment with its sweeping views across the river, but it would have been highly unacceptable to have whipped out a camera and start snapping away. The only memento I brought back was my place name which included this lovely gold embossed crest.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Jersey Part 2

On our recent trip to New Jersey I naturally used it as an opportunity to practice my photography. I didn't only take my digital camera I also took my Polaroid 636 closeup. Now I don't really mind making mistakes when using the Impossible films even though they are very expensive and it does make it a rather high cost hobby to have. The frustrating thing for me is feeling that I'm making no progress and worse that I don't actually know how to take photographs. All it really takes is the time to read a manual to understand your camera. I have finally managed to find a user manual online to help me get the most out of my pictures. Most won't allow you to download them but if you search hard enough you can. I've found many and will be passing them along here on the blog. I'll start with the 600 manual.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sweet Soul

On Thursday I got the opportunity to go and see the wonderful Jose James performing at a venue called The Slipper Room. This one time burlesque joint has been closed since 2010 and has undergone major refurbishment to bring it up to date. I was particularly impressed by the use of William Morris wallpaper which really added to the victorian style of the venue. This revamp is also to allow for more diverse programming. Indeed I was informed that thursday was the first time the venue was testing it's audio equipment. Who better than Jose then, an extremely talented singer with enough confidence to try it out? The show went without a glitch (at least from the audience's perspective) and I felt the sound quality at this little venue was immense. The space is quite small that so I can imagine in the future getting tickets will be difficult, but the benefit is everyone can clearly see the stage and you feel as though you have front row tickets. It's a real intimate vibe. If you want to see the finished product look here. And check out Jose's new material below, follow the YouTube link too. Immerse yourself why don't you.