31 August 2010

nyc part deux: chinatown

One day in NYC, we met up with Mark's friend Lucca and his girlfriend Cristelle, both of whom live in Italy, and we couldn't decide what to eat. Somewhere into the conversation, Mark said, "How about Chinatown?" and everyone nodded in agreement, though in truth we had no idea where to go in Chinatown, or what to eat other than some notion of dim sum.

As we wandered around Chinatown looking for a place that served on dim sum on a Tuesday (or whatever day it was), we found the world's cheapest assortment of seafood, both fresh and dried.

Finally we found a dim sum place, and Mark being Mark, when the cart arrived, he valiantly stated, "We'll have everything." And this made Lucca's eyes pop out.

Our waiter explained what everything was.

Where Mark's machismo really showed through was... the chicken's feet.

We are brave eaters, but I wasn't super stoked to try the chicken's foot. What do you even do with it? Where do you start? Well, I can now tell you that there is not a lot of meat on that thing, and your best bet is to go straight to the sole of the foot. Other than that, it's just a bony mess. (It's pretty tasty, though. But a lot like Shake Shack, not worth the effort.)

Aside from the chicken's feet, everything was fantastically delicious. And after lunch, we wandered around some more, accidentally bumping into the NYC outpost of my LA studio, and the mecca of all Chinese imports, Pearl River Mart.

Check out all the finds from Pearl River Mart after the jump.

30 August 2010

nyc part one: pizza, bagels and shake shack

Welcome to Day 1 of my weeklong NYC trip recap, filled with the food and shopping highlights of our trip.

I will confess that it has been slightly overwhelming going through all of the photos from our week in New York, an embarrassing number of which are of food and teapots.

And how to share the best ones with you? Thematically? By day? By quirky similarity? Well I'm punting that decision back one more day, and today sharing the best dive food of our trip... slices, donuts, bagels and the infamous Shake Shack burger.

But fear not! There is plenty of snooty, pretentious food to come. (And plenty of teapots... and other great housewares finds.) I'm sure I gained about a pound a day on the trip (thanks for welcoming me back, spinning class!), so you know we didn't pull any punches when ordering.

Starting with the slices...

Everyone knows NYC has the world's very best pizza. (No use arguing, friends in Italia... it's just different.) Even the stuff that the locals turn up their nose at is still better than 99% of what you can get in LA, or most places in America. We made two quick pizza stops during our trip, one at some random place around the Flatiron District, and one up the street from our hotel, at what is purportedly "the best pizza place in Midtown" (evidently Midtown is not known for great pizza, though this country bumpkin proved easy to please).

I'm a regular slice kind of girl (what the rest of the country would call a "piece of cheese pizza"), but Mark likes the fancier versions

I'm convinced that great pizza is like that fantastic dress that looks like nothing on the hanger, but then you put it on and... wow! A picture of a slice of pizza just never looks that awesome, and sometimes even looks a little gross. But believe it... these slices were delicioso.

"Midtown's best"

I'm not a huge bagel person normally, but of course no trip to NYC is complete without one.

Check out that amazing crackled surface, covering the chewy interior

Diner breakfast, from the diner at 39th and Lex, featuring the world's most egregious $1 pile of bacon

In theory there were supposed to be pictures of donuts, since we ate at Dunkin' Donuts twice while we were there. (I know, I know... Dunkin' is not a big deal. But we don't have them out here, and so I get overly excited when I see one. And there was one a block and a half from our hotel. I couldn't help it.)

Apparently Mark couldn't help it either, because this is all that was left by the time I could get out my camera

And, at last, the dive food that no one would really call dive food. Dive food is not something you wait upwards of an hour for, and yet, that's just what we did to get our hands on the oft-raved-about Shake Shack burger.

The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, with lines wrapping around and around the park

A mere 50 minutes after getting in line, we finally got to order... and then wait some more

A close-up of the burger, with fresh lettuce, quality bun and legit cheese

The accoutrements: crispy crinkle fries and custard-based chocolate shake

So after all of that, the verdict? Well, friends, my verdict is: Meh. It was fine, not amazing, and certainly, CERTAINLY not worth the wait. The burger itself begged a comparison to In-N-Out, and frankly In-N-Out is tons better. Of course, if you don't have In-N-Out in your area, then Shake Shack likely makes a tastier burger than any of your local fast food joints. Only problem is that Shake Shack ain't fast. Not even a little bit.

His thumb says "good," but his eyes say "meh"

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28 August 2010

a tighter color palette for the home

Just like finding the right furniture and accessories for your home takes time, finding the right color palette takes time too, and often some trial and error. In a recent spate of color updates (you can read about them here, here and here), I've worked to bring a little more energy and texture into our place, but also to unify the colors throughout. Fortunately, everything was already naturally inclined to harmonize (that's really thanks to my limited color comfort zone, more than any deliberate planning), but just needed that extra nudge.

So our place went from this...

... a mish-mosh of espresso wood tones, glossy whites, beige, light blue and green...

To this...

... a much more cohesive palette of espresso wood and bright glossy white base elements, beige, robin's egg blue and sage green tones as main colors, and turquoise and lime green as the occasional accent color.

The flow throughout the whole condo has improved a ton, and now everything feels like it belongs together. And believe me... that's very novel for me!

What do you think? Is a whole house color scheme a good thing? Or should you just decorate each room as you choose, independent of the others?

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27 August 2010

new york preview

We're baaaaaaaack! Two long weeks away, to Milwaukee, New York, DC and assorted other areas in the Mid-Atlantic region... and I'm so glad to be home. (Thanks to the magic of Blogger and pre-scheduled posts, I hope you never even noticed that we were away. When you blog about your own home, it's only sensible, after all, since you never know who is reading.)

All next week, I'll be posting lots of pics from our NYC adventure, including so many meals that I am now on a strict diet. Tune in for such interesting tales as...

How Mark went from being upstaged on the Met steps...

to king of the roost, with the help of a little yogurt.

Same blog time, same blog channel. Have a great weekend!

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26 August 2010

bathroom color update

Of our DIY home renovations, I'm happiest with and most proud of our work on the master bathroom. (See the full set of before and after pics here.) And now having lived with it for a little while, I can say that it's completely functional, which is great (and a relief!). But Mark, perhaps rightly, wants it to be a little more colorful.

The bathroom post-renovation, all in shades of white, grey and beige

A little while back, I tried out some different color hand towels to spruce it up a bit, but as several readers and Mark all noted, my "colors" were really just variations on beige and grey. Sadly, I have to admit that you were all right.

What I tried to pass off as "green" last time

With my recent color updates throughout the condo, I finally mustered up enough courage to try some real color. And so I present our latest color update, the lime green and turquoise bathroom accents.

Maybe over time, we'll collect a few more little accents to make the color look like more than just a token attempt (let's be honest... it is a token attempt). But for now, I can live with this.

The blue and green tie in loosely with the rest of our home's color palette, and who doesn't love those little alligator logos on the bargain-priced $7 Izod hand towels from HomeGoods? The blue bottle which will soon hold our mouthwash was only $4, also at HomeGoods.

So our little "transformation" was a mere $32 plus tax. Not bad. And if tomorrow I decide that I only want the green towels, or only the blue, relegating the other set to the linen closet for all eternity, it won't have been a lot of wasted money.

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