My Furry Friends

2011/07/17 § 17 Comments

Meet my lovable furry friends who came to visit and who I’m visiting this summer.  They’ve been the perfect houseguest and companion.

Here is James Arthur D (aka Artie).

Artie’s so great to walk around the streets with, keeping in step with me and stopping at intersections.  He’s so well-behaved and doesn’t fuss even when he has to wait outside restaurants while we’re brunching.  Neither does he complain in the company of hysterical people watching a mad game of futbol…

He’s the cutest little dog!

And this is ImmanueI Kant (aka Manny) who is also Artie’s friend

He’s got to be the sweetest cat around.  See how he sleeps with me…with his arms extended over my arm, as in a hug.

Or with his paw and head draped over an arm…

He sits patiently while I’m in front of the computer for hours…and when he can’t take it anymore, actually stands and reaches over the chair and taps my back.  And when he thinks it’s bedtime, he starts jumping up and down the bed to tell me it’s time for me to sleep as well.

He loooooves to sleep…

And even reads the blog with me…

He doesn’t content himself with nestling in the crook of my arms…

One morning, I woke up with this furry ball snoozing on top of my chest (fat belly, four legs, and all), his head on my shoulders.  Snoring….

Don’t I have the most adorable friends??!!

xxx

NYC Summer: Highline Park

2011/07/16 § 2 Comments

I’ve been wanting to go to the Highline Park for sooo long.

I plan to go every time I have friends from out of town.  And Lord knows, we try.  But somehow, we just never manage to get there.  We invariably give up around the 8th avenue mark.  All sorts of excuses crop up, from physical fatigue to heat and hunger.  And my friend/s just have to sit in a cafe, pronto.  They refuse to take another step.  And so –  10th avenue seemed like another continent altogether.  Especially with visiting friends who just don’t want to walk  (you know who you are :D).

Summer passed. Then Fall. Winter. Spring. And it’s another Summer.  I finally got to go.  Last week.

And I loved it!

Love how this abandoned elevated railtrack was redesigned as an aerial greenway and park, resulting in a renaissance of the stagnant and unremarkable neighborhood alongside it.

I love the prairie plants, the woodland trees, the smell of  grass and leaves, the different sections, the wooden planks, the flat wading pool, the benches extending from deck planks, the Standard Hotel straddling it, a unique view of the city – from the river to the streets, to building tops, to apartment balconies.

I love how modern and organic it seems yet thoroughly retaining it’s industrial past.

It reminds me of the Lurie Garden in Chicago, at the Millenium Park, which is one of my favorite parks in the world.  That small enclosure of wilderness and aromatics.  Looking out onto the most beautiful architecture past the hedges.  Highland Park is more long and narrow.  More spread out.  But as beautiful.

The linear walk looks out to the shops and cafes of the Meatpacking District

And the super cute, bashful, giant fiberglass mouse (Companion, Passing Through) covering his eyes with his hands by artist, KAWS, outside the Standard Hotel…

Here is the flowing stream of water that children (and adults) love to frolic in…

The outdoor cafe with a view of the river…

The wooden bleacher section overlooking street traffic…

The many, varied buildings on view…

The grassy picnic and sunbathing area…

…surrounded by wonderful new glass and old brick buildings…

Just an absolutely beautiful place in the city to spend the day in…

Highline Park – you are my new favorite place…:D

xxx

MoMa: A Day with Albers, Kahlo, Picasso

2011/07/12 § 8 Comments

More beautiful works at the Museum of Modern Art

Picasso.  Those cubist women scared me when I was young. I thought they were ugly and distorted.  It took a long time for me to see the light.  That bright, southern light infusing most of Picasso’s painting.  And to appreciate the angles.  After which, all art seem drab, dull and mannered beside.

Matisse.  It is easy to like Matisse paintings.  There is nothing so jarring in them nor conceptually difficult.  The blocks of colors are quite lovely, in fact.  The pinks and the greens in the painting below contrast so wonderfully with the black.  And the second is just so evocative of Paris.  Those railings…

Monet.  Another one of those artists whose fame I didn’t understand until I saw his works in real life.    None of those blurry paintings I saw in books called out to me.  Then I went to  Giverny.  It was the height of summer.  The garden was in bloom.  Lush and ripe.  I still didn’t see how the paintings depicted the perfect clarity of those waterlilies and the pont japonais in view.  I had to see more.  I spent an afternoon at Musee Marmottan.  Staring.  From a distance.  And then I started seeing undulating waves.  Sunlight streaming through haystack needles.  Black singular strokes turning into men with hats and women with umbrellas.  Briskly walking.  I couldn’t get over the movement in the paintings.  And I started to covet.  I finally understood why people paid hundred millions for these…

Josef Albers.  I first saw these series of squares in an interior design magazine.  The featured home owner collected them.  And I couldn’t figure out why.  What was so great about squares superimposed upon another?  But they become more intriguing and interesting as I saw more of them and each painting’s different color combinations.  Some squares seem to advance in space or recede.  Some colors and some frames seem to float.  Albers was supposed to have worked on the exact mathematical dimension of each square to achieve the optical effects.  I’ve loved them since and never tire of looking at them.

Frida Kahlo.  One of the many self-portraits of this beautiful, talented and storied artist.

More art – sculptures by Alberto Giacometti…

Figurengruppe by German artist Katharina Fritsche at the sculpture garden…

Finally, drinks at The Modern to cap the wonderful day with visiting friends…

xxx

MoMa: A Day with Twombly, Breuer, Warhol

2011/07/04 § 2 Comments

I LOVE museums.  

Except I usually have to be nudged, pushed and dragged to go to one.  

I have an ingrained resistance to museums.  I don’t like being cooped inside buildings for hours.  I do that for work.  But not for leisure.  Although, I don’t seem to have this problem when shopping.  And I always think museums are boring.  But they’re not!  I have (as an adult) never been bored inside one.  So I really don’t know why I think that. It must be the school trips we had when we were young.  Having to troop in line and forced to listen to a docent point out things I didn’t appreciate or understand and not being able to leave probably caused this.

Just recently, dear friends from Brussels were in town and we spent an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art.  And had lots of fun.  I always have fun when I go to MoMa, actually.  We wandered through floors and halls of classic modern works and temporary exhibits, some of which were quite graphic, sometimes violent or sexual, and all thought-provoking.

I was fascinated by these newspaper front pages that had sections blocked in black and white and were suddenly transformed from newsprint to contemporary art.  Surely, I could have done these myself!  If I only thought of it, of course.

I could stay for hours in this room with walls covered in many different kinds of digital fonts.

Then we come to the Furniture room.

I now appreciate modern furniture.  Even plywood ones, which many years ago I couldn’t abide.

There is nothing I  like more than interior and furniture designs.  I grew up in a very modern ’50s glass house, which I didn’t like too much (and so even when I was very young, I was redesigning the house to my liking, in my mind).  I always thought it was cold and too open and our furniture were edgy and hard.  I think, as a child, I really wanted to live in a tiny rose-covered cottage with comfy tables and cushioned chairs.  What I liked best about our house was the big front area, which was a concrete lawn with a terraced garden.  But it would have been so much better had it been a grassy lawn instead.

I came to appreciate our house and the objects within, unfortunately, when it become derelict.  As I grew older, read and traveled more, I realized how very “modern” our house and furniture were and so many of our stuff are being copied or sought after and fetching absurd prices in the market.  Yet, we left them out in the sun and rain to crack, peel and turn ugly.

As I became interested in modern furniture, I travelled to Germany for a conference.  I didn’t know that included in the conference was a day tour of Weimar.  Imagine my delight when I saw the Bauhaus Museum.  While everyone was admiring the statue of Goethe and Schiller, I went inside the tiny museum and saw many original works from icons in the modern design field, in the birthplace of their movement.

From these inspirations, my ideal house has become more and more minimalist in structure.  A white box with white concrete floors.  There are certainly some modern furniture I long to have but I’m not a purist and  have always had eclectic taste.  For all that I want an uncluttered house, I also want romance so will most likely have a salon with an eight-feet tall baroque chandelier hanging from a twenty-foot high ceiling, filled with nothing but an antique chinese cabinet , a vintage french burlap covered sofa, an Yves Klein Table Rose, a pair of molded plywood Eames lounge chair or a pair of le Corbusier sling chairs or a pair of Breuer’s Wassily chairs ( I can never decide which pair I want more), one wall of books and art, lit by tens of candles at night and perfumed with vases of garden flowers.

Now back to reality and into the museum.  Jackson Pollock.  One: Number 31

I wish I was exposed to more and different kinds of art when I was younger instead of the mannered, realistic art that we were brought up to appreciate.  Maybe I would have realized that I could throw, splash and drip paint onto a canvass and find beauty and enlightenment there somehow.  I look at Pollock’s work and think – wow, I could have done that when I was 5.  But to innovate and work with new techniques at an older age obviously requires more talent and artistry than I could ever hope to have.

These large-sized photos by Boris Mikhailov set against the industrial city of Kharkov explores the circumstances of people left homeless by the collapse of the Soviet Union.  They document the “oppression, devastating poverty, and everyday reality of a disenfranchised community living on the margins of Russia’s new economic regime.”  Very moving.

The famous “Girl with Ball” by Roy Lichtenstein

And I really, really want this.  Not any of the Campbell Soup Cans.  Or the Marilyn Monroes.  Or his self-portraits.  I want this.  Rorschach.  Warhol.  What does it say of my state of mind?

And what does everyone think of this huge piece of concrete meat hanging from a hook?

A woman walking between Eva Hesse‘s Repetition Nineteen III, a collection of “anthropomorphic” empty containers and Lynda Benglis’ Modern Art Number 1 which I tell you is a pair of one bronze and one aluminum (shown on foreground) cast of a big turd.  It would be amusing to have one in the garden and have guests sit on the literal “slab of sh*t” while eating or drinking….

And here is a Cy Twombly sculpture, Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime Green Python), which attracted me because of the use of palm-leafed fans that we frequently use in the Philippines.

Amongst artists of the same genre, I love Twombly the most.  While I find many of Pollock’s work too heavy and dreary, Twombly’s paintings are visually light and refreshing, despite some explosive themes.  Through all the scribbles and splashes and drips, there is beautiful, luminous pale or arresting colors.  And stories.  And humongous flowers.

I also like many of Willem de Kooning‘s work such as Untitled XIXA Tree in Naples and Pirate.

So much art to see, so little time…

xxx

Apple, Soho, Nespresso

2011/07/01 § 9 Comments

My computer crashed.  Which gave me an excuse to go to Soho to have it fixed. (Not that I ever needed an excuse to go)

There’s always something interesting to see in Soho.

Vintage clothes sold in street corners…

…the Apple store with its fantastic staircase and skylight (and the dizzying array of gadgets I long to have) 

…subway map embedded on the street…

…a door to what I can only presume is Mad Max’s residence…or that opens up to the Thunderdome.

I never get tired of the buildings there and just watching people walk by.  I could easily come up with a fashion photographer’s portfolio standing in one corner for five minutes.  There are so many interesting outfits.

The stress of having my computer crash on me also gave me an excuse to sit and recuperate inside the beautiful Nespresso boutique bar.   And order my other most favorite cake, Louvre.  Paired with a ristretto latte.

There is a silver lining to everything, n’est-ce pas?

xxx

Charlottes, eclaires, tartes, sorbets, crumbles and everything Raspberry

2011/06/28 § 10 Comments

I dropped by the Farmer’s Market last weekend and saw tables crammed with raspberries.

Raspberries are my favorite dessert berries.

They are especially refreshing in the summertime.  Raspberry-rhubarb crumble showing up on the menu signals the season.

This raspberry infatuation started in France.

There, I gazed and marvelled everyday at the beautiful tiny cakes displayed on patisserie windows.  I could never choose what’s the prettiest or what to try first.  But I especially adored the ones with raspberries sitting daintily on top.  Finally, I went in and picked a charlotte aux framboises.  And never looked back.  I couldn’t get enough of the light, creamy, refreshing cake.   Since then, without fail, I would drop by the village patisserie to get one.  I would rush home so I could start eating.  But I end up nibbling on my jewel of a cake while walking through the park, more often than not.  

It became my end-of-the-day-walking-home treat.

In Paris, our usual after-dinner “sweets” at home was a bowl of simple fromage blanc with confiture de framboise.

Here in New York, I add a dollop of raspberry jam to greek yogurt, which works just as well.

I get more of my raspberry fix  from Financier with their tarte chocolat – framboise

and their fabulous chocolate raspberry eclairs…

…which Serious Eats described as choux pastry “split open and lined with custard, dotted with fresh raspberries and finished with a whirl of thick whipped, lightly sweetened cream. Finally, a scatter of toasty slivered almonds. Meant to be eaten in hand—but it can get awfully messy, so proceed with caution. The rewards are delicious.”  

They are very much, indeed.

For a summer cooler, nothing beats Berthillon’s framboise sorbet.  So tart and intense.  Pure raspberry essence in ice and cone.

But that shall have to wait til my next trip to Paris.

In the meantime, here in my beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood, I settle for the Berry Crumble ice cream (paired with Salted Caramel ice cream and pretzels) from General Greene that’s a perfect pick-me-up on sweltering days.

I love raspberries!

xxx

NYC Summer: Rooftop Birthday Brunch

2011/06/22 § 6 Comments

A dear friend hosted birthday brunch in his building’s beautiful rooftop with a wonderful view of midtown Manhattan and the East River.

It was a day of blue skies, sunshine, balloons…

…chats , laughter…

…skinnygirl margaritas, homemade bloody marys,  mimosas, wine, wraps, quiche, salads…

…cheese, fruits…

And amazing Tarte au Chocolat.

Half-melted from the heat – rich, dark ganache atop the crispy, light, buttery shell.

We ate and drank and baked in the sun and left an empty table

Hope you had a happy birthday, M! Thank you for all the wonderful food and wine 😀

xxx

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