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?

A(r)t Home

IMG_9256.2.krWhile I am the first to ooh and aah over a beautiful image, I also have begun to suffer from the feeling of duality that often accompanies those photos. Don’t get me wrong – I want to have a life as curated as a flat lay, in all white and black and neutral tones with matching latte art and on-demand lighting to match my Insta “feel” but, you know, I get bored when it’s all the same (good-bye solid branding strategy) and unfortunately, I also don’t live like this. Beautiful things are beautiful things and I appreciate all the photographers, bloggers and Instagrammers out there who make me think I should redecorate my life, but I think that’s precisely why it’s harder to glorify every day moments when all of a sudden they just won’t do.

Hence this photo. I secretly hate having my photo taken because I’m so picky when I take photos of others and I know how it all can go wrong, but I felt I had to suffer through a brief moment and take an un-posed photo of a moment I felt was gorgeous – me not on my phone, reading my favorite things and my hair, for once, was behaving. It just kind of struck me, how cozy I was and so un-Instagrammable.

That being said, since I promised to never take myself seriously, please expect more artful arrangements of latte art (tomorrow is Thursday, coffee day at my fave Café Integral) and faded photos of streets. But back to being philosophical and serious, this could be a new series, thoughts?

PSA: I am reading philosophical musings on travel, so you can bet this mood and the photos, will continue. At least until I finish.

NYC Survival Guide: 5 Tips for the Winter

It’s cold and the winds are vicious, but there’s rarely any snow (unless it’s a freak storm, hello Winter Storm Jonas) so your average expat from other regions is hard pressed to find the justification for suffering in the city. So here’s how I, a Siberian who goes to school in New Hampshire but was raised in the South, am dealing with a New York Winter:

1. Power Through the Reading List

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I know you have one. I have one, separated into: Books I should read but never do (to be an educated intellectual equipped for cocktail parties, pictured above…ok I read some), books I want to read, and magazines. Now that I’m off campus working in New York, I have all this free time to read and I sometimes use it to my advantage (still poring over Suitcase Magazine and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels). Reading is my lazy person’s excuse for being lazy because…ahem…technically I’m being mentally productive.

2. Stay (Become?) Active

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I know I just had a whole blog speech about reading, but quite naturally we all want to hibernate in the winter and eat wonderful, warm, bread-y things (I wear over-sized sweaters and parkas…no one can tell until spring). I am also monumentally lazy, but last winter, when I had to go to the gym daily to practice for fencing (winter is the official fencing season…we wear so many layers we might as well compete in the cold) I felt energized and not as sluggish as during most of my winters. Depending on where you are, there’s a gym or a yoga studio on every street corner so you don’t even have to freeze to death before you get there. If you push yourself to go a few times, set up a routine, it’ll get that much easier to go. (Also I’m going to Mexico in March…and the thought of wearing a bikini terrifies me into a proper gym routine.)

3. Parks & Rec

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Not the TV show, although that’s another great way to never go outside unless absolutely necessary. New York has so many wonderful parks – Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Washington Square, the Highline, the list goes on – that it would be a shame not to grab a moment’s peace. Which btw, looking at the color green has been scientifically proven to help alleviate eye pain and even improve vision (after hours of staring at computer screens) and going outside to get even 5 minutes of (clouded) sunshine helps alleviate SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – so you can come right back to hiding in your apartment, staying warm.

4. Coffee (Surprise!)

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…or a warm drink of choice. As an anemic with low blood pressure, I have to have coffee to kick start my circulation and get myself up in the morning, but it’s also been proven to lower the risk for stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s, liver cancer and other illnesses. Grab a drink and walk around a park until it’s all gone and you’re cold again (or just stay inside the cafe…you can congratulate yourself on the fact that you made it out today). Plus, imagine the Instagram opportunities – but choose wisely, not all latte art is created equal. I recommend Birch Coffee (they got my name right!) and Cafe Integral (friendly staff and inside an amazing boutique, American Two Shot)

5. Get Away

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Because sometimes surviving a winter in New York means leaving for a place with more snow (jokes, Winter Storm Jonas), a beach, or at least some change of scenery (Jersey? Mass? Upstate NY? The possibilities are endless). On MLK-day weekend I took off to visit family in Maine and it was a restful break. Sometimes I need the space and the greenery that NY cannot provide…but we love it anyway.

Then there’s a whole slew of tips on homemade wellness for the winter, complete with Theraflu and Ricola and long underwear, but that doesn’t make for great pictures!

Enjoy the winter!

Goldilocks and Baby Blues

StreetsofSoho CollageIMG_8859.krWeekendinNYC CollageIMG_8856.ktIMG_8862.krIMG_8879.krThe first two photos are of amazing, light-brushed trees in SoHo, with so much good food and shopping around the corner. I recommend Baz Bagel for inventive bagels and an unfussy, charming NYC diner experience. The next 3 are of more playful light photos, this time at brunch in Allswell in  Williamsburg (I had the avocado toast and the latte and it was delicious) and then there’s the photo of Jake in Central Park, followed by more Central Park shenanigans. I’ll just say skating in NY anywhere is a robbery, they charge such outrageous prices for everything. But I, as always, was too content to melt away in a stream of snaps (except not really, it was freezing no matter what I wore).

Happy Tuesday!

Holiday Spice Market

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Clockwise from left: Teas from spices & tease, vetiver & cardamom from Paddywax Apothecary, Brooklyn Brewery beer soap and cedar travel candle from Apotheke, Anima Dulcis and L’Etrog travel perfumes from Arquiste, white enamel bangle (similar here)

It’s nearly Christmas and my new-found freedom has me buying up candles and teas and soaps from all the little Christmas market shops set up in Grand Central, Union Square and so on. I just want my place to smell like a Christmas market in Germany.

But this post is not all about blather, I’ve even included a little reading to humble me and everyone else who gets all Pintrest-y this holiday season:

A Day in the Life of Pintrest (because taking yourself seriously is never any fun…and hide your china)

Colors of Fog

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Finally back home in Portland, although home is such a loose term right now. I’ve barely been here, but I hope this summer marks the start of a better understanding of the North. It is so different from everywhere else, just like anywhere else is different from everywhere else. It’s fresher here than in Hanover, probably because I’m 15 minutes from the coast. Yesterday it was marmy and a fog settled in after the sun set, so I had my parents stop in the middle of the road so I could take pictures, because sometimes my hands start to itch after not taking photos for a while.

The struggle for WiFi is real. TimeWarner, who was supposed to be our provider, is terrible, so we are proud but Wi-Fi-less, so it’s very relaxing, like a cabin in the woods. But sometimes I want to waste time on the Internet or download movies…so currently in the local cafe that I biked to (which should merit its own mention since I never bike).

Arquiste & the New World

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Not to claim that I’ve discovered an 8th continent, but for me it’s a whole new world : Perfume. What began, very predictably, in Paris with 1725, continues in the States with Arquiste and many others. I happened upon the brand through J Crew, the only shopping available to Hanover residents, and as always I have to see the original website. I love the branding and the packaging (such a sucker for pretty pictures), evoking periods of time in history, so I splurged on the woods and citrus travel set. I generally detest florals and overly sweet smells, so I tend towards masculine fragrances and I thought this would be perfect! I have a few favorites, like Etrog, a deep sort of citrus and The Architect’s Club, which fades into a sweet vanilla, but on the whole I will continue my search for something to rival my current scent. Just ordered a lot more samples from LuckyScent, so I suppose I won’t be able to resist posting