Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Time Flies

Sometimes I feel as if I have blinked and the past week, or month, or six months, or two years, have just flown away. I have to remind myself to stop and notice today. Get up to watch a sunrise. Buy yourself a flower (or a lot of flowers). Go for a walk. Watch an old black and white film. Look through photo albums (real ones). Paint something. Fly a kite.

I apologize for not posting in the past week, but I was both frantically busy AND feeling a bit under the weather. Luckily, all is (mostly) back to normal, and I feel like this is a good time to stop, breathe, relax, and notice the small things today. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Magic Hour

This evening when I came home from work, I walked in the door to a beautiful sunset glow. The leaves of the trees cast beautiful shadows on the walls from the setting fire in the sky, and my entire apartment was bathed in the warmest light. I love this time of day. This is my "magic hour," and it's really spectacular in this apartment, which has all west-facing windows. 

These were a couple snaps I took of the magical light dancing on my kitchen "window garden" - basil, carrot tops, lavender and mint growing out of teapots and teacups on the windowsill. With the crisp, its-almost-autumn breeze blowing gently through the open windows... I was very happy today. 
It was just a beautiful day. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Botanical Bliss

Saturday morning dawned crisp, bright, and quiet. Spending the first half of the day on my own, I decided to go on a little adventure. A cup of coffee, a loaded camera bag, and a short 10-minute train ride from my apartment later, and I was standing at the gates of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. For other New Yorkers or Brooklynites who were unaware (as I was myself): the Gardens are open to the public for free on Saturday mornings until noon. So, you should probably go too. You might even see me there, because I plan to return quite frequently. Even after spending 3 hours wandering its winding path until my feet begged me to stop, I don't think I even explored half as much as I would like to. 

The rose gardens were beautiful. Under that white gazebo, far back on the right, someone was either getting married, or taking wedding photos. Either way, I was completely captivated by this place, and it is now the front runner for my wedding or engagement photo location.

Buzzzzzzzzz buzz buzz buzzzzzzzzz mister bee.

This guy serenaded me as I walked through the gigantic sunflowers in the produce garden. It was just me and the birds, and the bees, and the butterflies. I almost felt home again, temporarily removed from the reminders of city life. This little bit of alone time, this little release from my hectic everyday, was magical and much needed. And I can't wait to return.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bonjour Bonsai

My Saturday morning was spent at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden... and I believe I have found my new "happy place." Acres upon acres of sprawling yet compartmentalized natural habitats, in breathtaking arrangement. Highlighting my day was a room in the Conservancy building - a winding, small exhibit with only a dozen or so plants in it... but it still grasped my attention instantly. The Bonsai Museum is so striking to me;  I have such a respect for the Japanese art of focusing such meticulous and thoughtful arrangement into both placing a plant in a pot or garden, and actually directing it how to grow. The ability to focus so intently to finding a beautiful balance between the nature of a living thing, and a precise man-made art, is incredible. I have a new found love of bonsai, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a few books to further my understanding and appreciation of it. 

My original (limited) understanding of this craft had led me to believe that only a special kind of evergreen-like tree was used for bonsai. That is all I had ever really seen, so it was all that I knew. But, as you can see in my photos of some of the trees from the exhibit, almost and plant that develops a woody stem can be grown, tended to, and manipulated into bonsai. Below are a lemon tree and a fairly common houseplant, and both have been transformed into their present twisting, cascading, and graceful shapes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Myths and Legends

You might look at this photo and wonder why I've chosen to post something blurry, uninteresting, and ill-composed. Well, I'm about to tell you a story. So put on your slippers, curl up next to a big shaggy dog with a cup of tea, and get ready for story time. And try to bear with me.

For the past year or so, I have woken up some mornings wondering where the first quarter of my life has gone. I know, I know, I'm still young. But hear me out. I have 4 younger siblings (the youngest being 10), so I still have the opportunity see the grace of a child's imagination and blind faith on a pretty regular basis. Some days I feel as if I was believing in Santa Claus and playing hide and seek last week, and then woke up the next day with a ring on my left hand, wondering how much to contribute to my 401k. 

So, to my story about the photo. As a few posts have mentioned before, I spent some time in Ireland in April. I was browsing through the (thousands) of photos from that trip tonight while relaxing on the couch, and I came across this one in particular. I forgot I had taken it. In honesty, I had forgotten that this particular moment in time had taken place at all. 

  I was in a bus, traveling through the Irish countryside and wilderness, en route from one scenic small town to another. I wish so much that I had been in a vehicle that I could have stopped to take another photo. But such is the beauty of fleeting moments; their existence is dependent on their impermanence.

This photo was taken as I whipped my camera out of my lap to snap it, just in time, before the bus turned a bend and I could never turn back to see this, ever again. How happy I am that I was not napping, as I am prone to do on long rides in a car or bus. 

After driving for over an hour through deserted, overgrown forests that resembled something out of Lord of the Rings, a little stone bridge took our big old bus over the tiny babbling brook you see in this photo. Overgrown with vines, brush, and numerous plant life that would seemingly be impenetrable on foot, I saw what appears to be a white smudge in the center of that photo. Standing there, drinking from the brook. It almost glowed, although the day was overcast and misting rain down from a matte grey sky. Look at that white smudge, and try to see what I saw.
That, my friends, is a unicorn. And I will argue this as fact until the day that I die. 

You can choose to think that some pristine white horse managed to be standing in the middle of nowhere in a fairytale book forest, and no one else saw it. But some days, when my commute is doubled because of a train delay, or when my workload at the office seems never ending, or when that window I forgot to close allowed the afternoon's torrential downpour to unleash its fury all over my bed....

I'm going to choose to believe in unicorns.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fete Paradiso

Antiques and Paris: these are a few of my favorite things. 
Put them together, and you have Fete Paradiso - a vintage Parisian carnival full of beautifully preserved 19th century games and children's rides on Governor's Island this summer. This past Sunday offered perfect weather to go see it, so I grabbed a friend and took hold of the opportunity while it knocked.
A short ferry ride, and we felt hundreds of miles from NYC, even though we could still see it's skyline dominating the horizon just beyond the island's treeline. 

And I thought I liked spicy foods.... I'll pass on the fire.

From what I could gather, the object of the above game is "throw the ball in the drunk guy's mouth." 

Me! In an antique carnival ticket booth. Obviously being lazy on the job.

Flags fluttered in the breeze...

Cassie and I explored Fort Jay - a historically preserved fort from the Revolutionary War that occupies the island. The grassy "moat" was quiet and lovely and a great place to stop and have a mini picnic.

This guy.

City Limits

This past Sunday was a stunning day to be outdoors. My friend Cassie and I escaped for a few hours and took the short ferry ride over to Governor's Island for the Fete Paradiso (photos from that to come, I promise!). 
I'm a little ashamed to admit, I've lived here in NYC (well, Brooklyn, but I work in Manhattan, so close enough) and I had never been to Governor's Island before this past weekend. A beautiful parkscape a short *free* ferry ride outside of the city, perfect for picnicking and wandering and forgetting, if only for a few hours, that the concrete jungle is just beyond that short gap of the East River.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Rained Out

Why let rain stand in your way? It may have kept everyone else indoors today, but a cute umbrella and busting out my "new" vintage boots were the perfect excuse to skip out into the cool weather and do a little wandering. The slight chill in the late morning air was hinting towards autumn, so my excitement and desire to be outdoors was heightened ever more. August is here, which means that my favorite months are just around the corner. It's almost time to get the booties and long layers out of storage...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hip to be Square

I know I've already posted some photos of Union Square Greenmarket this week, but I had this whim to stop by after work Friday as well. It's nowhere near the size or diversity of Central Park... but for some, it is the perfect place to relax on a bench under the shade of trees, listen to the sounds of bids and people walking by, have a drink or snack from the ever-present Greenmarket, write, read, and lay in the sun. Or, for the more social, head to the Broadway side of Union Square, to play or spectate in some highly competitive games of (traditional and giant-sized) chess. Kick a ball around, dance like no one's watching, and just take a moment to let the city pass you by, without even coming close to leaving. It's one of the wonderful places that makes even myself love city life. 

Just walking up the subway steps into the park, and I already feel relaxed and happy. 


Picked up a few samples and snacks from the Greenmarket for lounging in the grass


This little lavender dove befriended me, and hung around while I wrote some haikus and soaked up the late afternoon's last rays.



I definitely need to brush up on my chess game before even attempting to jump into a match with one of these guys!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Market Months

New York is chock full of amazing markets in the summer months. Local farmers, purveyors, artists and producers band together in different locations every day of the week to bring the concrete jungle a little bit of the gifts of the great outdoors. Immeasurable physical and social benefits in less than half of a city block, right at your fingertips.

This summer, I've challenged myself to avoid grocery stores. Other than purchasing non-grocery supplies, I haven't set foot in a "real" grocery store since the warm months began to give way to these bountiful outdoor markets. Seasonal, fresh, fruitful... what's not to love? My greatest feelings of accomplishment stem from making a really simple, delicious, amazing meal out of my semi-weekly finds.