30 March 2012

10 More Things to Do This Spring!

Here's the 2nd post about things to do in New York during the Spring (see the first post here.)
I'll admit, I'm getting carried away here.  But we're all a bit drugged by cherry blossoms this time of year.

Here's 10 more things to do while you're skipping around like a kid again.  HELLO, date outings!

1.  VISIT THE HIGH LINE.
Danny & I just may have visited the High Line that very first weekend we met (ahhhhhh!  Yes, I am dying just thinking about it. :)  
Spring is the best time to visit the elevated park.  There is a lawn at 23rd Street.  They also offer "Stargazing on the High Line" (sounds so romantic!  Date night!) [The stargazing is offered at various locations Tue. dusk–9:30pm, call 212-206-9922 or follow @highlinenyc for updates; it's FREE!; weather permitting; begins April 3; held by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (aaa.org) and using its high-powered telescopes.]  They also have guided walking tours in May [meet at the 14th Street Passage, Tenth Ave. at 14th St; Tue. 6:30pm; FREE!; begins May 8].  From Gansevoort St. at Washington St. to Tenth Ave. at 30th St. (www.thehighline.org).  AND, check out the awesome green neon elevator at 14th St.  My friend says it's like going up in a highlighter! :)
highline, new york

2.  MANHATTANHENGE.
Manhattanhenge is when the sun aligns exactly with the island's cross streets.  On May 30 the phenomenon will take place at apparently 8:16 pm anywhere above 14th St.  I didn't even know about Manhattanhenge until 2 years ago.  Danny & were walking along, shortly after our wedding and all of a sudden, every New Yorker was staring in awe at the sunset literally pouring straight into the city.  IT WAS GLORIOUS TO SEE.  The blocks were just FILLED with light & the entire city felt illuminated and sparkly with sun.  Of course everyone was pulling out their camera phones.  And a few photographers in the know had some major photography going on to capture this beautiful moment.  Here are a few pics we took:
manhattanhenge
manhattanhenge
Manhattanhenge


3.  RIDE A PEDICAB.
Pedicabs are SO GREAT.  I love them.  Back in the Harvey Faircloth days, there were so many miles burned walking between our showroom at Bryant Park to the Garment District, usually with bundles of clothes or fabric or bags heavy enough for 2 burly men or more.  So I would often hop in a pedicab and feel like a millionaire being driven straight to our sewing room, while my bundles and I sat with the breeze blowing through my hair (those guys pedal fast!)  I'd say spring is the perfect time to go for a ride with your lover.  This bride & groom, below, transported their entire wedding party to the reception via pedicab....ahhh...love it...
pedicab new york


4.  VISIT THE ROOFTOP GARDEN OF THE MET.
I have not done this yet!  It is on my list!!  What a perfect date night.  I hear the views of Central Park are GLORIOUS.  They also serve drinks.  From Time Out:  "This year’s installation is 'Cloud City' by Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno, a series of interconnected, room-size pods that visitors can explore." 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St. (212-535-7710, www.metmuseum.org). Tue.–Thu., Sun. 9:30 am–5:30 pm; Fri., Sat. 9:30am–9pm. Suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free. May 1–Nov. 4.
Rooftop Garden, The Met


5.  MINIATURE GOLF AT HUDSON RIVER PARK.
At the southern end of Hudson River Park there is an 18-hole professional grade miniature golf course with a cave, two waterfalls, a bridge, a stream, and everything.  Dude.  I would love to play here with Danny.  He'd probably want to work on his putting, anyway (he plays a golf tournament every summer in St. George with his guy friends.)  I hear there is also an awesome playground nearby.  And the views of the river & sunset are amazing.  Friends, let's get our butts over there!  They open for the season on April 15, but before then they said they may open Wed.-Sun. during nice weather.  Pier 25, Hudson River at North Moore Street (manhattanyouth.org).  Hours vary.  Adults $5, children under 14 $4.  YES, I JUST SAID $5/$4!!!  No joke.  It's for real.
Miniature Golf Hudson River Park


6.  BIRD WATCH AT PROSPECT PARK.
Is this nerdy?  I think it could be cool.  It's a great excuse to be out in nature in this big city.  The National Audubon Society classifies Prospect Park as an "Important Bird Area" for the many species (more than 250 of them!) that migrate through.  This season you may see the American Goldfinch, Baltimore Oriole and Blue Jay.  Learn how to find them by taking an 'Intro to Bird Watching' tour at the Prospect Park Audubon Center (Sat. noon–1:30pm; FREE!) or the Early Bird Walking Tour (first Sunday of the month 8–10am; FREE!).  Binoculars are provided at both, or bring your own.  Ocean Ave. at Lincoln Rd., Prospect Park, Brooklyn (718-287-3400, prospectpark.org/audubon)
Bird watching Prospect Park


7.  PLAY PETANQUE AT BRYANT PARK.
Petanque is a French game of "boules" (French for balls), where each player strives to throw metal balls as close as possible to a smaller wooden ball, named the "cochonnet".  You can get a FREE! lesson at the Bryant Park courts.  Just stroll up and find an instructor and he/she will teach you the basic rules in about 15 minutes.  You're free to stay and play.  They provide the equipment.  Gravel courts at the corner of 6th Ave. & 42nd St.  Ping Pong tables nearby as well...equipment provided for free! (My Dad would LOVE this!)
Petanque Bryant Park

8.  CONEY ISLAND.
Luna Park always opens on Palm Sunday.  Check out some of the new roller coasters, people watch (Note: PEOPLE WATCHING COULD BE THE BEST EVER AT CONEY ISLAND!! :) :), eat a dog at Nathan's (founded at Coney Island in 1916), go behind a curtain and see a real freak show, eat cotton candy from one of the OLD candy shops, hang out on the boardwalk & see allll kinds of performers, or if you dare, ride the rickety Cyclone which feels really scary and life threatening...I am convinced people have died on that thing.  It celebrates it's 85th birthday this summer.  1000 Surf Ave at W. 10th St, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-373-5862, www.lunaparknyc.com).  Opens April 1.

Spring in New York
Visit Coney Island


9.  FREE LOMOGRAPHY WORKSHOP.
I need some photog skills, people.  This workshop could be a fun way to start.  To celebrate the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day on April 29, the Lomography store will organize a bus tour to Coney Island.  Meet at the West Village shop @ 1:00 pm and ride to the waterfront on a school bus. Once there, you’ll be lent a Diana F+ camera along with a FREE roll of film.  Sounds good to me.   (Meet in the Village at 41 W. 8th St. btwn 5th & 6th Aves., 212-529-4353, lomography.com; $10; R.S.V.P. to shopnyc@lomography.com) 
                                                                                                      Photo source

10.  WATCH GENERAL CONFERENCE.
OK.  This is not in New York.  And this may not even be your thing.  But twice a year the Mormon church has a "General Conference" and the Prophet & Apostles speak to people all over the world.  I look forward to it so much & I can't help but mention it.  The spring event will take place this Sat. & Sun. (March 31/April 1, 12:00-2:00 pm, 4:00-6:00 pm ET).  It's like the Mormon Superbowl :) and everyone watches it from home & eats brunch.  It used to be all about the food for me (ha!).  But before/during/after my divorce, I realized how much truth was being spoken & I clung to every word of it.  It truly is incredibly uplifting & inspiring, regardless of what I'm facing at the time.  If you want to check it out, you can watch it on-line here.  And if you like listening to choir music like me, you can hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform.  I may post a link to a few of my favorite talks next week.

OK, ENOUGH!  :)  Happy weekend to all of you!!!

-Mara


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29 March 2012

Vulnerability STEP THREE


Here are the rest of the thoughts I put together on my own journey and how I became more willing to be vulnerable.  Oh man, it's a bit tricky to write out, but I am doing my best to make this REAL for you.  I met with one of our lovely readers yesterday for a "walk" - - and she was so awesome...I am thinking of her so much as I write this.  I know how hard it so do these things.  But I also *KNOW* that if people really want to make these changes & if they have the guts to start applying this stuff in little ways, then they can tap into something life changing.  It can improve your views of yourself, your relationship with your spouse, parents, children, friends, etc.  The effects are so far reaching.  Trust me that I wouldn't be writing any of this stuff out unless I thought that other people could do this, too. :)

I've already written: 

Step 1:  Own Your Worth
Step 2:  Let Go of Fear

And Step 3 is.....Love for the Sake of Loving

Love is the ultimate goal of this life.  At least that's how I see it!  It's better than money, power, professional success, beauty, etc.

But to LOVE, you must be VULNERABLE.  So this is why I think vulnerability is so important to develop.  It is truly necessary in order to love others in the fullest, most beautiful way.

                                                                                                                     Photo by Saydi Eyre Shumway

The problem is, often times people will love with expectations.  You offer love, hoping that you will be loved in return.  You offer kindness, hoping that you will be noticed and appreciated.  You offer yourself, hoping that others will accept you and value you & see worth in you.  But loving with expectations will most likely lead to a lot of pain, because the person/people you have put in charge of your happiness likely won't always meet your expectations...they may not return the love you were seeking.  So at times, this kind of "love" may put the fear in you.  It may feel risky.  It may make you want to feel on guard & feel less willing to love fully.  And so...vulnerability takes a backseat.  And so does life.  And living.  And fullness.

This kind of fearful love, riddled with expectations, is not the kind I have made my life-long goal to develop.  It's not the kind of love that Danny & I have.  In fact, it's the kind of love we try to avoid at all costs, because I think there is something better....

What if........you offered love & kindness
JUST FOR THE SAKE OF LOVING.  
JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO SEEK AFTER THE VIRTUE OF LOVE.

                                                                                                                     Photo by Saydi Eyre Shumway

Loving in this way does not come with expectations.  It does not put pressure on others to be in charge of your happiness.  This is the kind of love we learned to develop (before we met!  in our previous marriages!)  It carried us through our divorces, our single days in New York & Boston, and it is the reason why we have such a loving marriage now.

You see, if YOU have worth that is inherent and intrinsic to who you are (see Step 1), you know that so does everyone else.  Even if they make mistakes, they still have worth.  Seeing them in that light frees you to to love them as a human being, regardless of whether or not they are capable of returning love to you, regardless of whether or not your love is received.  You are free to seek to build someone else's worth regardless if they receive it or are grateful for it.  Again, if you already own your own worth, you aren't looking for anything from them.  You are simply hoping for someone else to know their own worth, too.  Period.  This is the essence of love.  It is knowing that someone is worth your patience.  Your kindness.  Your forgiveness.  Your compassion.  Not because they are doing anything to deserve it.  But because they inherently have worth, just like you do.  And so your goal is to bring it out in them.  And if you don't succeed, then you will be ok.  You don't "need" to succeed, but you offer what you can out of love, and then you let each person carry out their own life and their own path.

Seeking after the virtue of LOVE helps you to become your truest, most worthwhile self.  It's the heart of who we all are.  And tapping into the power that we already have within us to live this way is the
most tremendous thing a human being could ever do.   
  
If we let love power what we are doing....we can do the hardest things we've ever had to do in this life.

After I figured out that I had worth and I started living without fear, the ability to love & be vulnerable was just practically automatic.....but then deliberately seeking to LOVE for the sake of loving was the crowning glory of being vulnerable and feeling love and connection with people all around me.  And I'm not just talking about the people that were returning love to me........I'm even talking about the people that could have easily been considered my enemies.  This was/is the most triumphant thing I've ever done.  I wanted to do it for all those around me, for my unborn children, and for my "future" husband, which turned out to be Danny (ahhh!).  This motivation carries me still today.  And loving for the sake of loving is the root of the abundance of love that I have in my life.  I have chosen it and have tried to maintain it daily.  And I know that you can, too.

Do you think you sometimes love, hoping to get something in return?  Can you imagine loving differently?  I hope you can.  It's awesome.  

Love to all,

Mara


P.S.  The artist of this sculpture in Philly was made with a crooked "O" to symbolize that even love is not perfect.  Well, as you can imagine, I think it depends on what kind of love you're talking about!  :)  Neon text above by artist Lee Jung, of Korea.

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Our Home in Brooklyn

I always love seeing people's homes.  In fact, it seems you become even closer friends with someone once you've sat on their couch.  So today, I'm happy to give you a glimpse of where we live.  We're so thankful for Rebecca Baust of The Daily Muse for taking these photographs.  I love her style so much (she also posted about our home tour here, if you want to check it out.) 

Danny & I live in a simple home, but we've been very happy here.  In New York you learn to be very content with less space & fewer belongings.  We also live extremely busy lifestyles here like most New Yorkers, so we don't really fuss much over our home.  [Blue Knoll chair from Craigslist; galvanized book shelf from a hardware store (these are similar); ceiling light fixture, above, by Normann Copenhagen.]
  
I moved in 6 years ago and gut renovated the kitchen and two bathrooms, which was a huge project.  Since then I haven't done much decorating, actually.  Whatever you see has just come together here & there.  One of these days I need to put some thought into it & spruce it up a bit.  And I'd still love to put together a little kids' area in our second bedroom for all of our friends' kids.  (Coffee table found on the street on the way to a dentist appt., carried several blocks & hid in the bushes until the appt. was done; sofa & light fixture from Design Within Reach; pillows from Refinery in Brooklyn, thick folded plexiglass table on the left from an antique store in Bucks County, window boxes from Chelsea Garden)

 
(Little school desk from the street, white file from Ikea, red drawers from Bisley, clock was a gift, terrarium made by a friend.)

(Guitars are Danny's, Herman Miller lounge chair from E-bay, Polish poster from Posteritati in Little Italy, colorful children's book collection from my grandfather)

 (Coat rack by Desu Design, an industrial designer in Williamsburg.)
 
 (Can collection from E-bay & Barney's)

(Danny's guitars:  an acoustic Taylor 214CE and a Fender Stratocaster)

(Vintage Danish Holmegaarde glass from E-bay, cupboards from Ikea, kitchen faucet by Dornbracht, shelves from Ikea.  We love our appliances added during the renovation: Liebherr refrigerator, Wolf range, Bosch microwave & dishwasher, Thermador oven.  The Maneki Neko cats were at our wedding luncheon in a Chinese diner, so it makes me happy to have them around :) 

(Bed from Ikea, G stands for "George Jasper" - my nephew.  I bought it for him but then they ended up calling him "Jasper" so the G is still hanging out :)
(Little red vintage lamp from the street [my favorite street find], table from White on White in Williamsburg, globe from Trailer Park in North Slope.)

(Mirror from Ikea, Brooklyn map from Ork Posters (needs to be hung), table from an antique store.)

(Chair from Craigslist, another poster that needs to be hung - a Polish one from Posteritati, Tizio lamp by Artemide.)

(Dresser from Ikea, "Danny & Mara" letters from Canal Plastic, letterpressed print of the Salt Lake Temple by Cameron Moll.) 

And these photos of our bathroom I had in my archives, but thought I'd share...
 (Sink by Duravit, shower fixtures by KWC, rectangular soaking tub by Zuma, toilet by Phillipe Starck, light fixture by Artemide.)

(Black granite floor tile from Home Depot)

 

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28 March 2012

Happy Birthday, Danny!

We just celebrated Danny's birthday in Philadelphia.

I just loved being with Danny on his birthday.  I don't think I'll ever for a moment not appreciate every day I get to spend with him.  He is a miracle to me.

I am such a dork and brought some streamers to decorate our hotel room a bit - - which I would have done if we had been at home.  :)  And while he was out, I quickly figured out how to present him with his birthday present...tickets to see Radio Head.


And we ate some ridiculously good food.  THANK YOU so much to all our Philly readers for your suggestions!  Seriously - - those were dead on.

We took your advice and went to TWO Steven Starr restaurants.  For brunch we ate at Talula's Garden. 
Danny had the caramelized banana & pecan pancakes and I had the vegetable fritatta.  We shared some maple bacon (which was amaaazing). 


For his birthday dinner we went to Alma de Cuba.  We are still raving about our meal there.  We had ceviche (one of our favorite things), Danny had the Sugar Cane Tuna, and I had the skirt steak with rice & beans.  For dessert, Danny ordered a chocolate cigar shaped cake and I had sorbet.  It was truly a perfect birthday meal.


 
We also loved just walking around Philly and seeing the beautiful little Colonial neighborhoods.  And of course, the views from the Philadelphia Art Museum were gorgeous. 


 


And Reading Terminal Market was also very good to us (Danny had Philly cheese steak at Carmen's, which he loved, and I had beef brisket w/ spinach from Dinic's, which we both loved.)  And how could we not see the Love sculpture?  :)


Have a great day, everyone!

Mara


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27 March 2012

Obsessed with Neon: DailyBuzz Style 9x9

You guys, I have a thing for NEON.

Neon lightsNeon & woodNeon modern crayonsNeon glitterNeon band aidsNeon public art installations in NYCNeon candyNeon outfitsNeon elevator at the High LineNeon baby dressesNeon glow sidewalk chalk.  And possibly my favorite... Neon blocks.

You see what I mean?  Can't get enough of it.

And, I also love neon incorporated into my own wardrobe...


So when DailyBuzz Style asked if I would do a post about neon & neutrals, I was thrilled.

It turns out that photographer Chris Lindsay wanted to do another project with me.  And so we set out to document a few neon things I'm currently wearing....and some neon lights in the 'hood.

OUTFIT 1:

Neon pink jeans by Voxx ($58) - available by mail order at Goldy Mac in Brooklyn, 718-230-5603; Jacket from a Brooklyn Relief Society Clothing Swap; white shirt from Uniqlo; nude shoes from Target; gold bangles & necklace from J.Crew; crown braid by Kristen Jex in NYC [Kristen is available for freelance in Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn - $50 cuts/$85 color/$20 blow-outs.  She works in your home.  Appointment and consultation by email: kristen@kristenjex.com]


 OUTFIT 2:

Citron yellow dress from Old Navy; belt from H&M; Jacket from Harvey Faircloth; hat from a street vendor in Manhattan (Danny bought it for me last summer before a trip to the beach!); Talco Oxford shoes by SAX, available at Eric Footwear in Park Slope, 718-369-4189.  They send shoes by mail!  (FYI, these shoes are SO well made...The owner said they're made in a small factory near Tuscany and every pair is handcrafted.  The leather is oiled and really soft.  I teeter between 8 & 8 1/2, but for these the 8s were perfect.)


OUTFIT 3:

Neon striped shirt from Old Navy; pants by Harvey Faircloth; necklace by J.Crew (also, check E-bay for these); bag by Kate Spade.

Do you guys like wearing any bits of neon?  Somehow it makes me feel summery in two seconds.  And just a warning, it might make you crave an icecream cone or make you want to go to the beach.  :)



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