New Site

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A few days ago marked my 2 year anniversary with WordPress and as I’m hard-pressed to have a hobby for so long, I decided it was time to invest in what has become a rewarding and constant project, a catalog of everything I’ve learned and all the directions I’ve gone off in.

Which is why I’m moving all operations to my new site – which has all the old posts but a new domain name and layout.

Have a great weekend and I hope you like what I’ve done with my new site!

 

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Elderflower Gin & Tonic : Fake Vacation?

Gin Collage.jpgTo kick off my second weekend in the city, I thought I’d share my new obsession – gin and tonics. This was my aunt’s favorite drink back when I was first loosed upon the world of legal 18+ European partying the summer of my senior year (I had a Sex on the Beach and lots of Peach/Singapore/whatever Slings) and I have been amazed by it since. So minimalist, so good and you can eyeball the measurements. So perfect for this stressful summer.

While we’re on the note of being overly influenced by my German maternal aunt, she also put elderflower into everything -mint lemonade, champagne (which is technically a Hugo and was totally the IT drink in Europe in 2013…) –  so it’s always been associated with that hip euro vacation when I thought I was an adult.

This article suggested you spice (sweeten?) it up with syrupy tonics (and lo and behold they recommended Jack Rudy’s Elderflower Tonic) so here is my first step towards preparing for that bar/winery/speakeasy I will one day own.

Combine, in a highball glass or a mug or a bucket, in this order:

2+ oz. gin (the possibilities in your Brooklyn wine & spirits store are endless – Back River Gin and Bluecoat are nice and we have yet to try the fancy vintage-looking California gin)

.75 oz. Elderflower Tonic (or any other tonic, be fancy, be free, it’s summer and you’ll sweat off the hard alcohol calories)

as much or as little ice as you want

-5 oz. tonic water

Enjoy! And let me know what other tasty combinations you come up with!

Tulum: Land of Sun and Iguanas

IMG_9577Over spring break I made like your average college student and escaping the gray cold of New York, went to Mexico. However, since I do like to entertain the thought that I’m ‘slightly’ different from the pack, we decided to go to Tulum, about 2 hours from Cancun, that paragon of dubious, non-stop college partying.

If you’ve been on social media even once in the past two years, you will notice a subtle yet steady surge of posts and pictures singing Tulum’s praises. Eco-friendly, relaxing, all-natural, NOT Cancun, these are all the reasons you should go. Plus the freshwater cenotes and the multitude of ruins everywhere give everyone something to do besides lie on the beach (which is amazing, but as I’ve never been able to relax properly, not for me).Xamach Dos collageWe stayed at an super secluded eco-resort in the Sian Ka’an bio reserve – that 32 km drive on the Boca Paila from Tulum proper to our reserve took about an hour of bumping along an unpaved road, evading huge potholes filled with water from last week’s storm. But Xamach Dos was so worth it – pristine, secluded beach, cabanas almost right on the water, decorated by the proprietor, Dan. Our cabana had no windows, just a lot of mosquito netting and was guarded by a thicket of palm trees, but by the end of our stay my hair had that textured, unruly, beach-y feel sans Bumble and bumble’s surf spray. We were also lulled to sleep every night by the breeze passing through our mosquito netting and the gentle crash of the waves.IMG_9478.krIMG_9489.krIMG_9569.krDay 1 was spent bumping along the aforementioned Boca Paila, which was usually thickets of palm trees and scuttling iguanas, but could suddenly fall away to reveal a large stretch of beach and a dried up coral reef. If you continue past our resort, you would wind up in Punta Allen, where there’s great snorkeling trips and good food, like everywhere else in the Yucatan.IMG_9460.krDay 2 began with us getting up before dawn to watch the sunrise over the water. All the beaches in Yucatan face east, but you could also get lucky and find a curved beach where you can glimpse the sunset before it slips behind the palm trees.Tulum ruinsIMG_9528.krIMG_9514.krIMG_9532.krWe then dutifully headed out to the ruins at Tulum, although we were told the ones at Coba are better, since you actually get to get close and touch them. You can pay extra for a tour but it was too hot and we were too impatient. All the ruins in Tulum are roped off, but the beach is gorgeous and open to everyone. It was a wonderful way to cool off after hours in the heat. In the same vein, as we had exhausted our water supply, Jake and I grabbed a fresh coconut from a vendor right outside the ruins. To be honest, it’s an acquired taste but very hydrating and half the fun comes from the container.

We then headed off to the Mayan Clay Spa, something that was on literally every itinerary of Tulum and got a massage and Mayan Clay facial. It’s a beautiful space, the stuff you see in movies, with palm fronds and earthy tones everywhere and the owner and staff are very friendly. I looked absolutely funky once the treatment was over, but there’s a shower to wash it all off and my skin was super smooth afterwards.IMG_9542.2.krI promised myself Day 3 would be reserved for relaxing, but we set off to town once more, riding past open air stores and restaurants and colorful resorts. One of the staff at Xamach Dos recommended La Eufemia for “The best fucking tacos” (that’s their advertisement) and it did not disappoint. After a long walk through another hotel we got to the little shack on the beach with the open kitchen and mattresses on the sand. We got every kind and you could choose from a variety of sauces at the sauce bar to spice up your meal. The margaritas were also to-die for – in a burst of wild abandon I ordered a passion fruit margarita with chili salt and it did not disappoint. You can sit on the beach or inside the little shack and then wander around the entire length of the beach. Here it’s a little crowded, unlike our secluded hideaway in the Sian Ka’an.Coqui CoquiA few steps from La Eufemia is Coqui Coqui Tulum, a beautiful boutique hotel that is always booked, but also has an amazing range of fragrances and body oils all made from local Yucatan ingredients. I came away with my own gold embossed bottle of Rosas Secas, although Tobacco was a close second.IMG_9580.krWe bumped back home on what was now a familiar road and made it just in time to see this sunset over the bridge where locals come to fish every evening, despite the “No fishing” signs. We came home and spent our last night in Tulum digging into a delicious dinner and chatting with the other guests, two of whom where a couple from Cancun that came to Tulum to escape the crowds!

I could go on and on about Tulum, the perfect weather and the impossibly azure water, the slow, relaxed pace as people bike and roam everywhere and eat the delicious and fresh (and cheap!) food. When I think back on it, it still fills my heart with warmth and I will definitely go back and go through my entire bucket list or maybe just relax…(not likely).

TO STAY

Xamach Dos was a very secluded, small resort, but the beach was private and not a soul to be seen, unlike the long stretch of beach closer to Tulum. However, it is quite a drive and the food is great, but mildly overpriced compared to the equally great food closer to Tulum.

Coqui Coqui Tulum just got a face lift and having been inside, at least for their boutique, I can say it’s beautiful, with an on-site spa as well.

There are so many more hotels or boutique hotels or resorts to stay in, so you can definitely shop around for the perfect experience. For a more independent experience, I say go for Airbnb.

TO EAT

I did not have the patience to wait in line JUST to place a reservation at Hartwood, but the open air kitchen and restaurant are reported to be amazing, all food sourced locally and cooked right in front of you.

La Eufemia for tacos, sauces and amazing margaritas.

Posada Margherita, where I have not yet gone, is supposed to be great for their juices and healthy meals.

Le Nave in Tulum proper is located on main street and has amazing juices and the best seafood platter.

In general, explore, because I doubt you can go wrong in Tulum or Yucatan in general.

TO DO

Cenotes, freshwater pits that dot the Yucatan and were the main source of freshwater for the Mayans, are a great way to explore the beauty of the region and an alternative to the beach for swimming. If you grab a map you can pick and choose where to go, or join a tour group.

Mayan Clay Spa for a variety of facials, full-body massages and other offerings. They also sell the peculiar local yellow clay to take home.

Ruins in Tulum, Coba and Sian Ka’an. The ones in Sian Ka’an are impossible to find without a guide, but are lesser known and so much more fun that way. Due to our short stay we didn’t have the time to explore those, but apparently there was one right beside Xamach Dos.

TO PACK

For most of peak season, you should bring the lightest, airiest, most comfortable clothes. I walked around in linen and my panama hat and so so much sunscreen and bug spray (we went during the Zika outbreak, but were thankfully fine). Although I did have to pack a cashmere sweater and jeans for the flight back to winter wonderland.

So I tried something new with this post, what do you think?

On Leaving

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“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way again.”   – Azar Nafisi

Currently freezing in New Hampshire after a whirlwind week of moving out and going to Mexico and coming back to start classes. I often wonder why I am so addicted to leaving – there’s not a place I’ve been to (for more than a few days) that I did not want to leave by the end. I think it’s because I’m forced to acknowledge reality while I’m physically in a place, but when I leave my natural optimism only remembers the good things and that place at that time and me at that time become a perfect dream. And so we are perfectly reborn over and over when we leave.

In other news, I’m very excited to share my trip to Mexico with you!

Happy Monday!

 

Glowing Goodbyes

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At last I rear my errant head here, on my last week in the City.  At least I am a more frequent Instagrammer. Went here with Jake on the last weekend in February, fulfilling my dream to go see the Brooklyn (and Manhattan!) Bridge at sunset. I am waxing poetic now that I’m leaving, but in truth New York is crowded and busy and overpriced and sometimes when walking in Midtown or Uptown I feel swallowed up by concrete. Which I guess is why finding wonderful, peaceful spots like this one (or coffee shops with room to sit) is such a pleasure. Looking at it from afar, New York is really so impressive, so concentrated and beautiful in its bid to touch the sky. The city has taught me so much about sangria and food and life in general and I’m glad I’ll get to explore it more when I return in the summer, but for now I want to stop feeling rushed and go home to the relative emptiness of Maine and New Hampshire.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Red Bricks and Churning Seas

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Events have begun to converge again, so that I am torn apart by all the possibilities. In my 20 year experience of life on this planet, little as though it may be, it always seems to me that life unfolds like an accordion, sending out forever-oscillating ripples. Periods of hard work and no play and bleak prospects followed by everything happening all at once, all the doors flung open and so much luck and joy it feels unreal. Not that I won the Powerball or anything, but I feel things shifting and gears groaning forward, reacting slowly to the backbreaking work it took to push them into motion again. Maybe it’s the start of spring and the beginning of a very interesting season for me, full of so many decisions whose ripples I cannot foresee. When I’m 70 I shall maybe write a book about it all because maybe everyone will think I lived through a crazy time and will want to know what went on in the minds of the strange people that were alive back then. And who knows, maybe I will have.

This past Sunday I had to get out of the house so I took Jake to walk around lower Manhattan and stumbled upon Little Italy, which was only a block away from my office. It was great to see a familiar part of town in a different light and the Instagram has been blowing up ever since.

Blue Bottled

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This was from a week back, braving the cold to go out with my lovely friend Erica. I think this post encapsulates why I love photography so much, especially natural light photography – I never stop learning. There’s always something new to explore and some new angle to look at the thing you see every day, some new technique to try. It never stops evolving (if you call me a nerd who loves school you would be correct) and that’s why I love it.

Anyway, in addition to the semi-regular philosophic musings, there’s a NYC café guide here somewhere, namely Blue Bottle Coffee (the one in Williamsburg), one of those quintessentially cool, hardwood-floors-and-ceilings-and-tables-and-gleaming-coffee-equipment joints that also happens to be a chain but doesn’t feel like one. I’ve only tried the latte (my drink of choice between the months of September – May) and it was delicious and also warm which is all I was going for. They have a few tiny bites as edible options as well as granola and oatmeal and you have to fight for table space because it is always packed. Luckily I have a huge bag and as a Russian I rarely smile at strangers. 🙂

The Details: Zesty Appetizer

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A little update from my Valentine’s Day (really just a Sunday brunch followed by a movie which happened to coincide with the 14th). I really don’t get what the big deal is about VDay. There shouldn’t be a specific day for showing love and it’s kind of divulged into a commercialized enterprise which also includes people in relationships posting about how great they are to people who are single (and not-so-secretly call in Single Awareness Day).  Hated it when I was single and my opinion hasn’t changed.

But this carmelized grapefruit topped with mint was an unexpected treat from Egg Restaurant, the Southern-style brunch place in the Kingdom of Brunch, a.k.a Williamsburg (recall  Allswell). As a Southerner my boyfriend said it was good food, but not authentic so there you go, but the chicken and bacon sausage was delicious (if so, so bad for you – but no worries, they have kale). Clawing away at the grapefruit with the ridged spoon was its own adventure and so rewarding when  I cleaned it out from the inside. Would recommend (the grapefruit though, didn’t quite get the grits…)

Castle in the Sky

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The casinos in Atlantic City look like a mini Manhattan from this beach on the eastern side of the island.

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The docks on the western side of the island form a beautiful backdrop to the sunset

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Sitting at home with a pounding headache and a fever has been a mixed blessing, as I get to sleep all I want and conjure up new content.

Last weekend Jake and I went to visit his grandmother who lives in Brigantine, New Jersey, across the bridge from Atlantic City (about two hours by bus from New York) and that mini Manhattan-esque skyline of casinos. Apparently everyone flocks there from the city in the summer and it is a gorgeous place to spend a weekend, but in the winter it was peaceful and the sunsets no less stunning. So look forward to a summer update of this place when we return to the city, a proper travel guide of one of those places where you don’t have to see it all because aside from good food that you can order out and amazing beaches 5 minutes in every direction, there’s not much to do. And after weeks in the city, that’s wonderful for busybodies like me.

It’s almost Friday!