North America

One of My Favorite DC Neighborhoods: Georgetown Neighborhood Walk

I'd like to introduce you to Georgetown! One of My Favorite DC Neighborhoods: Georgetown Neighborhood Walk

Georgetown Historic Georgetown in Washington DC is one of those neighborhoods one can easily slip into.

Pristine, elegant, delicious, the shopping won't disappoint, the dining is sure to satisfy, and the smooth cobblestone streets will transport you in time.

Georgetown DC

Dating back to 1751, the neighborhood of Georgetown in northwest DC is one of the oldest in the area and is home to some of the most splendid and preserved architecture in the district.

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Single family stone homes from the late 1700's share the streets with colonial row homes. From gas lamps to louvered shutters no detail is spared.

 

   I often feel as though I'm walking through a Thomas Kinkade cityscape, especially during the holidays when the neighborhood is alight with amber flames, bells, wreaths and bows.

Easily accessible via the DC Metro, Georgetown is a pedestrian neighborhood. If you're driving, note that DC has neighborhood specific designated parking areas, which means parking can be tricky if you don't live in the neighborhood you're trying to park in. Read signs carefully!

So, what should you do now that you're there? Here are some shops and stops that are a must in Georgetown:

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Georgetown Cupcake (3301 M St NW, Washington, DC)

If you have a sweet tooth, Georgetown Cupcake will not disappoint. These are the best cupcakes in DC!

Relish (3312 Cady’s Alley, NW Washington, DC)

This classic Georgetown boutique will have you looking as good as Olivia Pope.

1789 Restaurant (1226 36th Street, NW Washington, DC)

It's like stepping back in time. The restaurant hidden inside a brownstone, is cozy, romantic and out of this world delicious.

Autumn Agritourism: Support Your Local Farmers

Visiting a pumpkin patch every autumn has become something of a tradition in our family. I must say though, before I even thought about having kids, I was that person who would go pumpkin picking with a group of girlfriends. So it may just be that my obsession has spread by osmosis to everyone around me.

There's just something so magical about getting food directly from the source.

Of course you don't have to go to a pumpkin patch to do this, but a pumpkin patch is the perfect setting for rekindling and or establishing this connection.

Autumn is a time of re- connection on so many levels in the sense that we're called to apple orchards and pumpkin patches. We return to the great outdoors, no longer hiding behind air conditioning. The air is crisp and cool inspiring us to move and be active. It's a season of hearty flavorful foods. Deep earth toned colors. Sweaters!

It's favorite time of the year. My New Year. My reset.

Autumn Agritourism: Support Your Local Farmers-

Last weekend, Mark and I got together with some dear friends and their kiddos and hit the pumpkin patch. This year we went to Middleton's Cedar Hill Farm.

Oh, holy pumpkin! In addition to rolling acres of hearty autumn crops, there were hayrides, animals, two corn mazes (one for kids and one for adults) a general store and a several play areas for the kiddos.

Like many working farms, Middleton's Cedar Hill Farm, relies on agritourism for a great deal of their income.

I'm not sure when agritourism became a catch phrase, but I do know that I enjoy it. You can become as immersed as you want. Some farms offer week long stays, weekend stays or the more typical orchard or harvesting day experience.

Two years ago around this time, I spent an amazing weekend near Woodstock milking cows. I still remember the warmth of the cows utters, the sound of my bucket filling to the brim. It was a beautiful experience. Whatever your preference, don't be shy and give agritourism a try. It's a great way to support your local farmers. Without farmers there is no food!

And if you're in southern Maryland you must give Middleton's Cedar Hill Farm a try!

 

Cedarville State Forest: Breathe Deeply, You've Arrived!

The smell of cedar is instantly recognizable. Earthy, grounding and pacifying, it is an aroma that reminds me of autumn. What is a visit to Cedarville State Park like? Well, imagine an entire forest dense with cedar trees. The fragrant evergreens stand shoulder to shoulder- welcoming, the crisp air heavy with cedar. Your feet are carpeted by needles and soft earth with each step.

The rich green hues of the cedar evergreens- defiantly beautiful in the midst of the colorful autumn leaf spectacular.

We spent Columbus Day exploring one of the state parks in our area- Cedarville State Forest.

Southern Maryland is full of cedar trees. We have them all over our property, but I've never seen or smelled them like this.

A cedar forest, is an armomatic heaven!

Quiet, tucked away, with hiking trails, bike trails, riding trails, and fishing, Cedarville State Forest is a great city or suburban escape for visitors and residents of the Maryland, Virginia, DC area.

Walk, sit, meditate, have a picnic. Let the serenity work it's magic.

Home to six varieties of Hawks. Stomping ground of wild turkeys. Roving ground of copperhead snakes, opossum, fox, raccoon, deer, skunks, rabbits, and many more woodland friends, a hike through Cedarville's 35,000  acres is an adventure. If you're traveling with kids, the forest offers abundant learning activities for kids who can try to identify animal tracks and nests. Bring a basket, collect sticks, colorful leaves and beautiful stones and feathers.

Or, you can simply sit and take it all in.

For a historical, spiritual and or slightly spooky twist (depending upon your take), legend has it that an Indian burial ground exists on the property.

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Cedarville State Forest: breathe deeply, you've arrived!

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Engage Your Inner Child and Your Children Too At The National Building Museum!

Engage Your Inner Child and Your Children Too At The National Building Museum!

The National Building Museum is America's leading cultural institution devoted to building and design. We tell the stories of architecture, engineering, and construction to visitors from around the world.

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Your first aha! moment will most likely come when you enter the lobby, look up at the ornate circular rotunda- the columns, stained glass, the way golden orbs of light cascade downwards wrapping you in an ethereal halo- hello world...

The second aha! will most likely come when you enter the Play Work Build room. A large blue foam Lego-like building world. Surrounded by children of all ages and stages and their unabashedly enthusiastic adults, it's where dreams are realized and innovation unleashed. In the great building dance your toddler transforms into an engineer, your kindergartener into a great inventor. Side by side creations are envisioned, constructed, destroyed, re-built, renovated, expanded upon, demolished- and on and on (the dance is never truly done).

Before you know it, hours have passed, you realize you're hungry, you can't account for the time.

The building room knows no time.

If you've got crawlers, waddlers, curious elementary aged students, inventive middle schoolers or if you've always had a sneaky suspicion a career in engineering or architecture was supposed to be your track, head to the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.

The National Building Museum is a place for curious minds to meet. They host family programs, adult programs, hands on and not so hands on exhibits.

The museum is a wonderful place for children and adults to build, create, problem solve and work collaboratively- an educator or homeschooling parents dream!

Did you know that playing with blocks is essential to early development ? Studies show that children who play with blocks reap cognitive benefits that will help them with math and science later on. Block play can help with social emotional development teaching patience, problem solving, cause and effect and sharing.

Um, can I hear a hip-hip-hooray for good old fashioned play!!!!

But you don't have to be a toddler to enjoy the museum. I can not tell you how relaxing and zen it is to build. It's a complete mental reset. Like a Buddhist sand painting, you create this work of staggering genius and then you knock it down. If adult building is too crunchy granola for you, there are tons of exhibits curated specially for adults. I liked House and Home- a journey through beautiful timeless homes through the ages. If you love architecture or HGTV, you'll be smitten!

The next time you're in D.C. either with friends, for work or with family, you've got to check out the National Building Museum at (401 F Street NW)!

Have you been to the National Building Museum? What did you think?

 

 

The National Harbor, the Perfect Prescription for a Country Mouse in Need of a Bit of City!

The National Harbor, the Perfect Prescription for a Country Mouse in Need of a Bit of City!

Now that I live in the country, in a brick house deep in the woods where my nearest neighbors are a family of white tailed deer and the tiny red fox who lives beneath the hollowed out maple, I definitely delight in regular field trips to bustling places.

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It's nice to retreat and be a country mouse, but I still have my city mouse sensibilities.

It's all about balance!

Luckily, we've got a ton of options:

D.C. is 30 minutes away

Alexandria 20

Baltimore 45

Annapolis an hour...

but the National Harbor, that shinning aquatic gem, is a quick 15-20 minutes.

The National Harbor, in Maryland, is one of my favorite quick weekend, I need to be around people excursions.

In addition to cute shops, great restaurants and public park space with scenic nautical views, the National Harbor offers a variety of rotating events from outdoor yoga to movie nights and live music.

Sidewalk cafe's and benches are ubiquitous. It's a fabulous neighbor meet neighbor, coming together of people place.

IMG_0903.JPGOn Saturday and Sunday, you'll find a farmer's market with local seasonal goodies.

The Harbor is a great place to bring kids as there are plenty of activities for them to enjoy, from this man made beach to a carousel, paddle boats and a toddler playground.

Sail boats, water taxis and mini cruises leave from the harbor.

The Harbor is also home to a giant Ferris Wheel.

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Relatively new, we went up for the first time. The line was long but moved quicker than expected. The view was okay, nothing particularly astounding, but it was a nice little adventure.

The boys had a good time and I got to sip coffee outside and mingle. It was a good day!

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit D.C. Too! Setting Up Shop In A New City

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit D.C. Too! Setting Up Shop In A New City One of my favorite things about being in a new space is the fact that everything, at least, for a little while is brand new- exciting!

A month ago, we left Brooklyn to live in a rural, forested section of Maryland.

I love it! The rustle of leaves in the wind, the way sunlight cascades over the hill out back, the deer that greet us on our front lawn every morning, the poetry of crickets at night, being connected at all times to nature!

Acres for the boys to run around on and explore.

I do miss some things about being a city person though- the neighbors, sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, wine bars, brunch, strolling by rows of historic brownstones, the culture!

Luckily, though we are far out, we're not too far.

Washington D.C., my new adopted city is a quick 30 minute drive or metro ride.

Smaller, cleaner, quieter, friendlier than my former love New York, D.C. provides us with just the right balance of community, culture, and culinary delights.

This weekend, we poked around. We had brunch, attended an event, got lost and ate a lot!

It was lovely!

As I explore, I will photograph my neighborhood walks in a series of upcoming posts.

As for now, I'll continue to design my chicken coop and rabbit cages and set up my raised beds.

Country life is definitely the life for me, but a city break every now and then is also what I need.

Are you a city mouse or a country mouse?

NYC Trapeze Classes Give You Access to the Best Views in the City!

NYC Trapeze Classes Give You Access to the Best Views in the City!

From your perch over the west side highway, you see it all, in a haze of pink tinted twilight brilliance.

Left hand gripping the ladder, right arm extended towards the very tip of the Freedom Tower, you wait as the bar glides towards you.

It's your big moment.

You catch the sandpaper-rough white bar in your right hand, release your left hand. Pelvis and chest forward, chin up, you prepare to dismount.

"Ready."

You bend your knees as your toes creep over the edge of the platform.

"Hep."

You leap forward into nothingness.

The wind catches you, ushers you forward.

Your eyes are open, yet you see nothing, hear nothing, you are simply one with the wind. You are flying.

"Knees up!"

Tucking your knees towards your chin, you struggle to bring your calves over the bar, lock your knees.

"Look back!"

Releasing your hands, you arch your back, arms outstretched. This time you see everything. The setting sun, the halo of orange and pink around the glistening Freedom Tower. The soccer game on the field of green. The cars, speeding along the highway. Bikes, baby carriages, roller blades. It's the perfect early summer evening.

"Legs down!"

You regain focus, pulling your arms towards the bar, you wrap your hands around its rough frame. Slowly, one by one, you release your legs. The summer breeze envelopes you in a tight embrace as you release your hands and descend into the mesh safety net.

After two decisive bounces, you come to a stop. Slowly re-focusing on the space you now occupy after being space-less, you perceive the ground, the chairs, the instructor, the spectators.

A quick forward roll, brings you off of the net and onto solid ground. You are released from your harness. You have done many things in your life, but never have you taken flight- until now.

When I was pregnant with my second son, somewhere around the tail end of that second trimester mark, right around the time when I developed a hernia and began to wobble like a deranged duck, I promised myself that when it was over, when the discomfort passed, when my body was once again mine, I would do something spectacular, something physical to mark my return to myself.

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Driving to work one afternoon, I found myself stuck in a traffic jam on the west side highway. For forty-five minutes I was glued to my spot, surrounded by taxi cabs and trucks. I looked to the left, to the right, I had no clear line of sight to see what was causing the jam. Then something caught my attention, something that looked like a flying person. Two flying people to be exact. Two flying people gliding on a singular trapeze, hand in hand like a circus act. I was entranced.

While my fellow commuters honked their horns and unleashed a furry of profanity as only New Yorkers know how to do, I took in the show above. One by one, two by two, I watched as people flew through the air, some turning flips, others practicing hand catches, others falling flat on their faces (hilarity) and I decided that I wanted to do that, whatever it was.

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Fast forward, several months later and it was my turn. For my birthday this year, my husband surprised me with a trapeze class at the Trapeze School of New York. It was my time to fly!

There were eight of us in total. Two old-timers, the rest of us brand new.

The class was two hours long. We practiced each maneuver on the floor before climbing the ladder and attempting the feat in mid-air.

It was thrilling.

It was exhausting.

Trapeze is so much harder than it looks, but once you're up there, once you're flying in tandem with the wind, the feeling is indescribable.

After seven or eight rounds, I managed to swing by my knees, stuck a back-flip dismount, and came really close to a hand-catch, all while taking in the best views in New York City (I swear I could see my Brooklyn brownstone!)

I'm going back!

I will have to wait, since I did sprain my right shoulder (a mixture of pre-existing mommy shoulder issues and hanging onto the trapeze for dear life and landing awkwardly in the net).

Sprained shoulder aside (and I mean, what is a sprained shoulder after going through child birth anyway) a trapeze class is a true adventure!

If you're in New York or  are planning a vacation in New York and are interested in taking flight trapeze style, schedule your class with the Trapeze School of New York today. It will be one of the coolest things you've ever done!

The Trapeze School of New York (353 West St, New York, NY 10014)

The Blue Note Jazz Festival- Where American Classical Music Lives!

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The light from the stage cast a blue glow across the room. It's called the Blue Note after all, so I suppose this was not a coincidence.

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The man at the piano, defiantly erect, despite his age, fingers nimbly floating in waves over the keys, was tantalizing.

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Abdullah Ibrahim has had a musical career that has spanned generations.

His unique take on jazz music is sweeping, haunting, lulling and evocative.

Originally from South Africa, Ibrahim an outspoken anti-apartheid activist was forced to leave his homeland for Europe and later the States. In his music, you can hear his story, whispers of the past, South African inspired sounds, defiance, unshakable humanity and unwavering hope.

One of the few remaining musicians of his generation, it was an honor to have the opportunity to witness history live at the Blue Note's Jazz Festival.

It's no secret, with my trombonist husband, that we're a jazz family. On this day, the entire family 11 month old, three and a half year old and my husband and I enjoyed dinner and a set at the Blue Note.

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As usual, the people seated near us, looked nervously in our direction when they saw us approaching with young children.

As usual, after the set was over, we were approached by people who were shocked, commenting on how well our children behaved saying they would never so much as consider bringing their children or grand-children out to such as event for fear of a revolt.

As usual, I gave my speech about exposure and how children, when exposed to opera, will go to the opera and enjoy it in the same way a retired 60 year old couple would.

At any rate, with or without children, the Blue Note's annual Jazz Festival is not to be missed. The line-up this year is incredible. It's a great excuse to come out and visit the famed venue and enjoy live music in an intimate setting.

The festival which closes June 30th is wrapping up, but it's not too late to catch dinner and a set.

The complex beauty of jazz- America's classical music, is best enjoyed live!

 

Pattern Wizardry- Become a Pattern Wizard at the Brooklyn Children's Museum in this Extraordinary New Exhibition!

Pattern Wizardry- Become a Pattern Wizard at the Brooklyn Children's Museum in this Extraordinary New Exhibition!

*Please note that in exchange for a write-up, I was invited to attend a special viewing of Pattern Wizardry at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. All opinions expressed in this write-up are my honest thoughts.

They exist around us, everywhere- in the two careful braids your mother used to give you before bedtime, in the intricate woven blue and purple blanket you picked up at the Mercado in Ecuador, inside the amethyst crystals your acupuncturist sometimes places around you after the needles have been inserted, inside the colorful kaleidoscope your toddler insists upon carrying everywhere and at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum- patterns, giving form and beauty to our world.

Last week, my little ones and I were invited to a special guided showing of Pattern Wizardry, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. It was, to sum the experience up- AMAZING!

Pattern Wizardry is a new exhibit located on the top floor of the Brooklyn Children's Museum, designed to use patterns as a way to foster interest in natural sciences and mathematics.

As a former public school teacher and current homeschooling mom, I was immediately taken with the interdisciplinary approach of this exhibit.

I can’t say what I was expecting, but I can say that the exhibit exceeded my expectations tremendously.

Upon entering the exhibit floor,  Ohm was invited to throw on a cape so that he could become a pattern wizard. I was excited about the idea, but being three, he simply shrugged his little shoulders, decided to bypass the cape and dove directly in to the world of the exhibit.

Talk about hands on! We looked at textiles and art from a variety of cultures to see how people around the world create patterns. From American quilts, to East African basket weaving, to fine china and South American weaving, each station allowed children to engage in a tactile experience from trying their hands at coiling a basket, arranging quilt squares, fitting together china or weaving on a large loom.

In a masterfully curated collection, we went on to investigate patterns in the natural world. We examined seashells and crystals before investigating patterns in sound. There were drums and examples of musical patterns.

One of our favorite experiences was a large mirror prism, which allowed us to see ourselves in a series of patterns.

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There was also an investigation of patterns in a more traditional geometric sense. Ohm, who considers himself to be a geometry expert, had a lot of fun identifying shapes and fitting them together to complete a large puzzle.

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Ohm is three and a half and originally, I was concerned the exhibit might be a little over his head, but he was fully engaged and excited as he flitted from one station to the next.

The priceless look on his face when he realized that he could self-navigate through many of the hands on activities was so affirming as a parent. I was literally able to stand back and let him create his own experience. Because he was so busy, I was able to try my hands at a few of the stations. It was so fascinating; I couldn’t help but dive in too.

As a Brooklyn parent, I’m so grateful for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. It is a priceless resource for children of all ages, particularly early learners.

In a world of “shhhhh be quiet,” “No, don’t touch that,” and “Stop running!” the Brooklyn Children’s Museum gets down on its knees and caters to its tiny patrons from their height, without patronizing their intelligence. This is not an easy balance but they do it well.

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, established in 1899, was the very first museum, ever created exclusively for children. The success of this institution has inspired the creation of over 300 children’s museums around the world. It’s an extraordinary gem in the heart of Brooklyn.

If you live in the city or are planning a trip to NYC with your family, Pattern Wizardry is a must see! The exhibit is open through August 30th and is a great way to encourage a love and curiosity for math in preschool and school aged children. Summer learning can be so fun and so enriching!

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is located at 145 Brooklyn Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue). For more information call 718. 735. 4400 or visit www.brooklynkids.org.

Finally, the lovely people at The Brooklyn Children’s Museum gifted me two tickets which I will give away to a lucky reader.

If you’d like to be entered to win two tickets to this amazing museum, simply leave a comment below describing your favorite pattern. This can be any pattern- musical, geometric, natural, textile, etc.

The lucky winner will be notified on Monday, June 22nd!

 

 

Montauk, where the land ends

Past the congested LIE afternoon truck traffic to where the road widens, canopied in fresh green, then thins into a lighter green. Past Fire Island, sprawling vineyards and the narrow manicured single lane boutique studded streets of the Hamptons. Up narrow winding roads, dense with green, leading seemingly nowhere, you'll stumble across Montauk, a place where the land ends.  Montauk

I'm not even certain how it began. We were watching a children's program about a lighthouse and Ohm developed a lighthouse curiosity. Then the weather in New York surprised us all and gave way to breezy summer temperatures. The perfect conditions were there for a day trip to Montauk, Long Island.

From New York City, Montauk makes a lovely day trip, city escape.

We left around ten in the morning. Working in the opposite direction of traffic, and traveling one week before the Memorial weekend madness, the road was essentially ours. And what a scenic drive it is!

The Montauk Lighthouse and museum was our first stop. Ohm was too little (by an inch) to climb to the top and since I had baby Jai strapped to me in a carrier, we were all prevented from climbing to the top of the lighthouse (booh!).

The museum was interesting. The Montauk Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in New York. Originally commissioned by General George Washington himself, the lighthouse was where the famed slave ship Amistad once docked and is said to be haunted by several spirits.

History and hauntings aside, it's just a remarkably beautiful space and makes for a quintessentially romantic destination. The lighthouse, land's dramatic end, is an experience. The rocky coastline below, is perfect for walking, meditating, and taking in the noisy fragrant waves. We collected rocks, watched the waves splutter over pebbles and simply did nothing.

If you're so inclined, there are bike trails and footpaths for jogging and hiking. You will also find lookout points complete with porch style swings for two and a restaurant in the vicinity.  The Montauk lighthouse/museum and surrounding area is such a pleasant escape.

After a long late morning/early afternoon by the lighthouse, we decided to head into town for lunch.

Montauk has a small and very cute main drag with shops, restaurants and cafes. We stopped at Naturally Good for lunch, it was amazing. We decided on a fresh organic green juice and a vegetarian Sloppy Joe comprised of perfectly seasoned French lentils on sprouted grain bread. The seating outdoors gave us a front seat view of the wonderful activity outside- people walking dogs, elegant women in flowing kaftans and straw sunhats, mothers pushing strollers, everyone laughing, giddy, with the promise of a perfect beach day. And it was so perfect!

Before heading home, we stopped at Kirk beach. There is a beach beneath the lighthouse, but it's rocky and not suitable for swimming, Kirk beach, off of the main strip, was light, sandy and expansive. Calm and secluded (only because the official season was a week away), Kirk beach, had free parking, baby fine sand, and was clean to perfection. Unfortunately the water was ICE COLD! We could only stand to dip our toes in. Swimming aside, Kirk beach was lovely.

Montauk, where the land ends, is the perfect NYC city escape and makes for an idyllic ocean side retreat.

 

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens: Where Beautiful Purple Things Grow!

Tilting my head back, eyes floating upwards, willowy, purple fingers cascade around me. Wisteria everywhere!

Hanging from trees, climbing up walls, swaying gracefully - everywhere.

It is a sight to behold.

On this perfectly perfect spring day, there is no place I'd rather be than strolling the beautifully manicured paths of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, where beautiful purple things grow.

As far as botanical gardens go, this one is one of the best!

Down the stairs, past the gurgling fountain, to the left, we come across fragrant lilacs.

The lilacs are a favorite of mine. I'm from Rochester- Lilac City. The smell, the clusters of tiny star shaped flowers, transport me.

In fact, when it comes to flowers, the purple ones grab my attention. I can't say why. Purple is not my favorite color.

When it comes to flowers though, I love wisteria, lilacs, irises, and violets- vibrant purple wonders.

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is full of such wonders and many more.

Now that the weather in New York is fully cooperating, I've pledged to take my boys on a new adventure everyday. It's been fun. It's been exhausting. It's been educational. I live for these mini-adventures.

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, which is FREE on Tuesdays, is the perfect place let an inquisitive toddler roam and romp.

Ohm ran and ran and ran. We compared different flowers. Learned the names of different trees. We spotted robins and butterflies and fuzzy bumblebees. We learned about the different parts of the flower. He threw rocks into a stream. Threw coins into a fountain. Basically, he had a good old fashion self-made great time in nature!

We weren't the only ones enjoying the day. The gardens were full of elderly couples strolling arm and arm, young couples stealing affectionate kisses on benches, mothers bouncing babies, photographers snapping pictures, bird watchers crouching with binoculars and tourists singing a symphony of languages.

One could spend the better part of a spring day getting lost in the romantic Brooklyn Botanic Gardens taking in all of the beautiful purple things.

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

150 Eastern Parkway 990 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

 

 

 

Dinner, Drinks and a Set at Birdland 

Dinner, drinks and a set at Birdaland? Yes, please. The music that escapes from the horns gallops jubilant circles around the tightly spaced tables. 

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A bottle of wine is poured. A woman tips her head back and laughs. A pair of lovers clasp tattoo covered hands and smile. Beside me, my three and a half year old date, sips cranberry juice out of a tumbler and places his cloth napkin roll to his lips to emulate his father's trombone solo.

 

 

This past week, my wildly talented husband who plays for The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra spent the week with his fellow musicians playing at Birdland in New York.
As the wife of a musician, I've been in and out of numerous clubs, venues and performance spaces.

My little guy all dressed up and excited about riding the train into Manhattan

                                                                                                                                                Jazz clubs, intimate, mysterious, melancholy, hopeful, I thoroughly enjoy. They're one of the few places where people get dressed up to hear live music. It's a lost grace. Dining, drinking, enjoying the bygone glamor of big band swing- it's magical. In few places, is it as magical as it is at Birdland.
Where other venues can tend towards pretentious and stuffy, Birdland holds to the expression and passion of jazz. Audience participation, dancing, the having of a good time are all encouraged.
The audience at Birdland, your fellow table neighbors, they're freer, giddier. Birdland is a true jazz lovers hangout.
You can even, if you are brave enough, bring your three year old. Mine has been to so many jazz clubs, he hums the genius of Dizzy, Miles, Basie, Coltrane and Ellington the way most kids his age sing Old MacDonald. If you too have and old soul on your hands, they are welcome at Birdland.
Dinner, drinks and a set at Birdland is a great way to experience American Classical Music
(aka Jazz) in the city that helped build and re-invent the art form.
In a world that moves so quickly, that has become over saturated in technology, it's a comfort to know that one can step into Birdland and step back in time- getting lost in a space, in music that is as timeless and soul stirring today as it was when it was first imagined.
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315 West 44th St New York, NY 10036

10 Reasons to Love Ft. Greene Brooklyn

There are so many more than just 10 Reasons to Love Ft. Greene Brooklyn! If you love art, music, dance, beaches, breathtaking Manhattan skyline views, children, hipsters, hipster children, dogs, bicycles, trees, farmer's markets, cutting edge restaurants, yoga, or are into carrying hemp bags or even woven baskets when grocery shopping to avoid wasting plastic, then Brooklyn may be for you!

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Brooklyn is booming right now! People are leaving Manhattan in record numbers, to flock to its hip, tree-lined streets.

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When I left Manhattan five years ago and moved to Brooklyn, I was overwhelmed with a sense of belonging. I had found my tribe. Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, was and still is, my perfect city match.

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brooklyn museumIMG_3430.JPGIMG_3082.JPGFrom the pier-lined waterfront with breathtaking Manhattan views, to the beaches, to the endless rows of immaculate, tree-lined 19th century brownstones, Brooklyn in my place and cozy, artsy, family-friendly, quirky, diverse, Ft. Greene, a place I'm fortunate enough to call home, is my favorite neighborhood!

 

IMG_3268.JPGIMG_3339.JPGIMG_3282.JPGIMG_3286.JPG10 Reasons to Love Ft. Greene, Brooklyn:

  1. One of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, Ft. Greene is racially and ethnically diverse and is home to a large European ex-pat community. Walking down the street you see interracial couples of every possible combination. School playgrounds are a tapestry of colors. It's a beautiful thing to see.
  2. The Arts thrive in Ft. Greene. Between BAM (The Brooklyn Academy of Music) and it's numerous manifestations including the Shakespearean Theatre, The BAM Rose Independent Film Cinema,  The BAM Harvey Theatre (home of contemporary off-Broadway works), to the Mark Morris Dance Group, the New York Writer's Coalition, CUMBE Dance Center, the Museum of the Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, and being in close walking proximity to the Brooklyn Museum and the massive Brooklyn Library Central Branch, there is no shortage of artistic entertainment and merriment in Ft. Greene.
  3. Green spaces everywhere. Ft. Greene has so many beautiful parks and playgrounds. From the stunning rolling fields of Ft. Greene Park which hosts live music, farmer's markets and local events, Ft. Greene residents are within quick walking distance (10-20 minutes- and yes, in New York, that is close proximity) from Brooklyn's shining green jewels- Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
  4. Historic Brownstones- At one point in time, Brooklyn was a wealthy suburb of New York City. The area of Ft. Greene, which is close to the periphery of Manhattan was adorned with elegant brownstones where they remain beautifully preserved and landscaped.
  5. Ft. Greene is so darn family friendly! Families and children are everywhere. As a parent, this means, you won't be shamed if you bring your children to nicer restaurants. In fact, most kids in New York, because they're used to the cultural options, are very well behaved inside cafes, bistros and elegant restaurant settings. People will also not look twice if you bring your children to the local beer garden or wine bar, as long as you're not literally sitting at the bar.
  6. Ft. Greene is pet friendly! In addition to the open park space for dogs to run and play, restaurants up and down Fulton, DeKalb and Myrtle offer water dishes and treats to your furry friends if you take advantage of sidewalk seating. Every Halloween in Ft. Greene Park, there is a doggy costume parade- it's serious!
  7. Excellent dining! Brooklyn, Ft. Greene included, is home to some of the most innovative restaurants in the country. In addition to wonderful food, you can find a little bit of everything in terms of ethnic food and variety in Ft. Greene. Within a quick right and then a quick left from my doorstep I can choose from Italian, French, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Southern, Farm to Table, Vegan, Barbeque, Caribbean, Nigerian, Sushi, Chinese, Vietnamese, it's so incredible! This quick two block span doesn't take into account the numerous specialty bakeries, cheese, doughnut and ice-cream shops. Add to this, the presence of cafes and you won't be disappointed when it comes to snacking or dining in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.
  8. Ft. Greene is easily walkable. With wide sidewalks, picturesque blocks, and an easy layout, it is easy to stroll and enjoy Ft. Greene by foot. The entire neighborhood is within close walking distance. You can also easily make your way by foot to the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Prospect Park, Downtown Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, from Ft. Greene.
  9. Ft. Greene's buildings have a great view of the Manhattan skyline. Ft. Greene is one of the first neighborhoods you'll hit in Brooklyn as you come in from Manhattan. While not on the waterfront itself, many buildings offer beautiful rooftop views of the Manhattan skyline. From my bedroom window, I can look out on a clear day and see the Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Sometimes you have to get out of Manhattan, to be able to admire it.
  10. Ft. Greene is a great place to be outdoorsy. In addition to the parks, the streets are full of bike lanes for bikers, and wide sidewalks for joggers. Never crowded, always fluid, Ft. Greene is a great place to be outdoors.

Ft. Greene is worth a visit. The next time you're in New York City, plan a Brooklyn exploration day!

Brooklyn really is booming! Stroll across the bridge and make your way to Ft. Greene by foot or hop on the C or the G trains to Lafayette street.

However you get here, you're going to love it and you're not going to want to leave!

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National Harbor MD

There's a certain stillness, the transition, when tree branches no longer clank together, brown and bony, the chill replaced by bursts of warmth. Buds, delicate green wisps turn to petals, pastel flowering bulbs, the aroma of hyacinths and tulips, honeybees. Spring, is one of my favorite times of the year. The slow anticipation of the transition is thrilling. It takes so much patience. There's always a tease first. One fifty degree day, then back to thirty-  two fifty degree days and a sixty, then back to forty.

Spring teaches us to appreciate the moment, to embrace the warmth and the flowers for the short time they are present because tomorrow there may be rain, or the temperature may dip below again or the stifling humidity of summer may take over- anything is possible.

Spring happens too quickly here in the northeast, but perhaps its ephemeral nature is what makes it so spectacular.

We've spent the last two months going back and forth between Brooklyn and the Maryland/D.C. area. I love Brooklyn, I love New York, but when it comes to beauty in the spring Washington D.C. and Maryland win. I think the cherry blossoms on the mall are what really do it for me. When a strong wind comes through, it rains pink and white petals. It's a truly magical sight.

One of my favorite places to enjoy the spring weather is the National Harbor MD. Technically in Maryland, the National Harbor offers stunning views of D.C., miles of sunny waterfront, an assortment of local boutiques and specialty shops, walkways and trails, delicious restaurants and green spaces.

As the weather continues to transition and people begin to transition outdoors, the National Harbor MD will open itself to a slew of festivals and outdoor events. From yoga on the waterfront, to live music and movie nights, the National Harbor is a beautiful spring and summer destination to experience when visiting the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.

 

5 Date Nights New Yorkers Love

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5 Date Nights New Yorkers LoveNew York City is one of the most romantic cities in America.

5 Date Nights New Yorkers Love

When it comes to date night options, New Yorkers definitely have the edge. The city that never sleeps is full of artistic, intellectual, scenic, athletic, artistic and downright goofy activities and events.

I mean, we've got Broadway, some of the finest restaurants in the country, the Empire State, carriage rides through Central Park, the Met, the MOMA, the list goes on...

5 Date Nights New Yorkers Love

5 Date Nights New Yorkers Love:

1) The Walking Date:

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Whether it’s across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, over the High Line in the afternoon, through Central Park, along the West Side Highway, or the Coney Island Boardwalk, New Yorkers love to walk. You can find everything from hiking trails to walking trails, self-guided walking tours and green spaces. The city lends itself to stunning skyline views, scenic landscaping and architecture- Bonus: It’s FREE!

2) The Creative Class Date:

5 Date Nights New Yorkers Love

With so many exciting innovations both creative and technological, New York is city where ideas become reality. People here are bursting at the seams with passion and creativity and love to share that passion with others. There exists a class, workshop or seminar for everyone. Whether you’d prefer a painting class, a language class, a ballroom dancing class or a cooking class, in this city of doers, creatives and seekers, you’re bound to find the right class for you and your partner. The city has so much to offer from free workshops to certificate courses. A couple that learns together, stays together.

3) The Museum Date:

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From world class galleries, to quirky specialty spaces like the Museum of Sex and the Museum of the Contemporary African Diasporan Arts to larger venues like the Museum of Natural History and the MOMA, there is a museum to satisfy every interest in New York. Most museums offer free admission and special evening programs on certain nights. Museum dates are fun, low key and on the right day come catered with wine and cheese.

4) The Sports Date:

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From Yankee Stadium to Madison Square Garden to the Barclays Center, New York is home to some of the finest sporting venues in the world. Games can be as expensive or inexpensive as you plan for. Nothing says love, like getting caught up in the frenzy of fan chants and screams as you watch the thrilling highs and heartaches associated with organized sports. Not a spectator? Try a flying trapeze class at Chelsea Pier, spar together and learn Krav Maga, take a few laps around the Rockefeller Ice Rink.

5) The Bar/Club Date:

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We are a city of clubs and bars! We’ve got neighborhood bars, piano bars, dive bars, themed bars, gaming bars, wine bars and pubs. Whether you want to sit with your beloved and play couples trivia or prefer a good old fashioned prohibition era murder mystery, there is a bar experience for every couple in the Big Apple. If sitting and drinking isn't your style, dance the night away together. New York is home to some of the finest DJ's out there. Whatever your musical tastes, we've got it, from Bhangra themed club nights to Slavic Soul Funk!

NYC Date Night: A Walk Through Chelsea

Yesterday was date night and because the weather decided to be somewhat amenable (yay 55 degrees!) we were able to do something we hadn't done in weeks- GO OUT! Originally we were going to stroll the High Line and catch dinner, but the High Line was closed by the time we made our way in inches over the Brooklyn Bridge through an intense traffic jam (that's the thing about NYC when the weather becomes nice-GRIDLOCK!).

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With plan A completely scratched, we came up with a plan B- a stroll through Chelsea.

Date Night in Chelsea

On the west side of Manhattan, from 14th street to about 30th street lies the neighborhood of Chelsea.

From the wide cobblestone streets, to the exclusive restaurants with outdoor seating, Chelsea is easily one of New York's most romantic and artistically eclectic neighborhoods.

Exclusive, edgy, artsy, cutting edge and (thanks to the High Line) green, Chelsea a great place to shop, dine, people watch and relax- especially now that the weather is getting warmer.

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A few things to check out in Chelsea:

  • The High Line - A beautiful elevated park on what used to be an old rail line. Here, you can catch stunning city and river views.
  • Chelsea Market- A little bit of everything rolled into one, the Chelsea Market is a contemporary and edgy farmer's market, artist bazaar, mall, office space, gallery and high end food court (clearly my FAVORITE!).
  • The Chelsea- The famed and historic Chelsea Hotel is pretty darn awesome to visit. The doors are open for visitors to take in the art on display or meander the winding staircases in the same manner that famous artist in the past used to. The hotel was an artist residence at one time and housed greats such as: Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg ( and countless others).
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    7 Things I Love About Rochester, NewYork!

    Last week, I packed the kids and a whole lot of luggage into our car and headed upstate to my hometown of Rochester, New York to introduce our newest little addition to family and friends in the Western most regions of New York state (I made a trip to Buffalo as well). Although I don't think I would ever live there again, Rochester has a charm that draws me in every time I return. I am a proud native Rochestarian and a big fan of the city I no longer call home (sorry dad).

    There are many things that I love when it comes to Rochester, but for the sake of this post, I'm going to focus on seven things that I look forward to, when I return westward, to Rochester, New York's Flower City.

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    1) Rochester is a place seeped in history and activism. From its inception, people gravitated to Rochester, New York to let their voices be heard. Historical greats like Frederick Douglass, Emma Goldman, Susan B. Anthony, and many others called Rochester home. The underground railroad was active here, the Quakers thrived here, the creative innovation of George Eastman developed here. Rochester, New York, is a history buff's dream. If you are an appreciator of history, you must visit: The Mount Hope Cemetery (where you'll find the tombstones of both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony), the Susan B. Anthony House and the George Eastman House.

    2) The shops at Village Gate! (274 Goodman St N, Rochester) Rochester is a great place to shop local. Village Gate is a collective of local shops, small businesses, unique restaurants and art galleries, owned and operated by local artists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs. My personal favorite shop  is Mood Makers Book Shop and Cafe (I gave my first reading here).

    I met.....who sells...

    3) The Rochester Public Market (280 N. Union St., Rochester NY) Folks stream in from miles away to visit the Rochester Public Market, which boasts fresh produce, meats, a fish market, crafts and ethnic delicacies from over 300 vendors. The market is massive and can easily become an all day event. There are restrooms and restaurants for those in need of relief and a re-charge. I adore this place. The prices are always reasonable and the service is amazing ( Rochestarians are a friendly bunch). The market is open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 52 weeks a year.

    4) The National Museum of Play (1 Manhattan Square Dr, Rochester). I would go here even if I didn't have kids! This is hands down, my favorite children's museum- EVER! Not only is this a children's museum, but it is a museum dedicated to the art of play. Everything is designed to be touched in this highly interactive museum for all ages. Where do I even begin, perhaps with the old fashioned carousel, or the life sized Victorian dollhouse, or maybe the exhibit dedicated to all things trains and planes (complete with a train you can ride). There's a section dedicated to comic books and superheros, there's a complete arcade showcasing the evolution of video games (this is where a lot of the dads disappeared to and where teens go to play after school), there's a replica of Sesame Street (as in the entire street) complete with a life sized Big Bird. You can find a Bernstein Bears tree house replica, there's a life sized Wegmans supermarket where kids can scan and bag their own groceries, there's a children's garden and so much more. The museum is enormous. You can spend an entire morning and afternoon here and if you're nursing a baby, like I currently am, there are nursing rooms, with cozy rocking chairs, dim lighting, books, and activities to occupy toddlers while their younger siblings are being tended to. Oh, I forgot to mention the quirky 1950's style diner, where you can enjoy a classic lunch. This place is FUN!

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    IMG_0904.JPG5) Abbots Frozen Custard! So, if you read my blog with any sort of regularity, it is apparent that I have a bit of an ice cream obsession. I love the stuff. Wherever I go, I make it my business to see what the locals are doing with ice cream. Here in Rochester, magic has been happening for generations thanks to Abbots Frozen Custard! I'm talking the richest and creamiest custard, bursting with rich vanilla bean flavor (a simple vanilla is a great way to test the virtues of ice cream!) Abbots is a Rochester staple. In the summer time, people sit in the parking lot on their cars or at the communal picnic benches and connect with their neighbors over a creamy cup. My first memory of ice cream was an Abbots cherry milkshake. My mother used to treat me to them after my dance classes on Saturday afternoons. There are Abbots Frozen Custard shops all over Rochester. No visit to the city is complete without a taste.

    IMG_0829.JPG6) Wegmans!!!!!! Okay, Sojourner, why is a grocery store on this list? Well let me explain. Wegmans is so much more than a grocery store, it's an experience, I tell you. Wegmans grocery stores originated right here in good old Rochester  and in my opinion, set the gold standard for the modern supermarket experience. If you're in town for a visit and you need anything, this is the place to go. Want food to bring back to your hotel, go to Wegmans. Interested in a delicious morning coffee and pastry (fabulous bakery), go to Wegmans. Want to grab a few things for a picnic lunch in the park, go to Wegmans. Want to meet locals and get a feel for what makes the community tick, go to Wegmans. I never knew how much Wegmans meant to me, until I moved to New York City and had to search far and wide for a good grocery shopping experience. Nobody curates food like Wegmans. Pair that with a phenomenal bakery, a thorough health food section and a seductively satisfying cafe, Wegmans will seep into your soul and move you in a way that no grocery store should.

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    Exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park or Walking the Baby Out!

    20140626-223252.jpg It's official, I'm past my due date and am anxious for this little guy to swim on out!

    Instead of lounging on the sofa in front of the AC with a pint of ice cream, Mark and I set off to explore the brand new Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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    Brooklyn just keeps getting better and better! I rarely go to Manhattan anymore.

    We began at Pier 5, walking our way past ice cream vendors and wooden benches pointed toward the glistening Manhattan sky line. A weekday afternoon is the perfect time to go. The park wasn't crowded and we even found a parking spot!

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    This Brooklyn gathering space has everything you need for summer fun- a state of the art soccer field, a sandy beach volleyball court, picnic tables, public grills, a water fountain for kids to splash around in, swings, a small garden, and a gourmet food court featuring brick oven pizza, Blue Marble Ice Cream and Dough donuts (you must try these if you're visiting Brooklyn!).

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    Dismissing my cravings, I continued my "out you go little baby" walk. We wandered along one of the wooden piers, in front of us, the brilliant Manhattan sky line, behind us, the Statue of Liberty. Yachts and sail boats dotted the water.

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    20140626-223358.jpg"It's a beautiful world. Come on out baby, come on out!"

    But despite my best efforts, he didn't stir an inch.

    So we went home and plotted our next "baby come out" adventure. One more adventure to look forward to, before an even greater one begins...

    The Original Little Italy- Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

    Arthur Avenue the Bronx Little Italy  

     

    Little Italy in the BronxThe Real Little Italy Arthur AvenueItalian FlagIn the congested Belmont section of the Bronx, lies a hidden gem. A singular strip with some twists and turns, Aurthur Avenue also known as the original Little Italy sparkles red, white and green in the afternoon sun.

    From old fashioned Italian butcher shops to the ubiquitous pizzerias and bakeries, Aurthur Avenue is one of the best places in the city to go to sample Italian food and culture.

    Whether you're into espresso, fresh baked bread, pasta, pizza, wine or baked goods, Arthur Avenue will leave you satisfied and craving your next visit.

    The original Little Italy on Arthur Avenue, like many things in the Bronx, is a hidden gem in an unsung borough. On Arthur Avenue,  you will not find crowds. You will not have to contend with tourists and long waits. You will get an authentic and delicious taste of New York Italian culture and food at a relaxed pace, reminiscent of life in the old country.

    If you love Italian food, Arthur Avenue is a must!

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