The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Megatron of Galleries

Flashback to Friday last week – to my first foray into the Megatron of Art Galleries – the Metropolitan Museum of Art or as it’s affectionately known, the Met.

Megatron (Transformers)

Megatron (Transformers) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mum – Megatron is a really, really big Transformer. He’s kind of bad, which the Met clearly isn’t. But he has the ability to shift into different things depending on what universe he’s in – kind of like the Met, which is so big and diverse you could easily have a different experience of it every time you go there. But more on that later.

I was implored by a dear friend to venture out after having spent the week in bed and I suspect, after complaining profusely of boredom (I know, how can you be bored in NYC? Well, spend a week after week within the same four walls and you can be bored anywhere, bay-bee!). It happened to be the one day that a very disturbed man let loose on his ex-boss at the Empire State Building so of course Midtown was completely shut down as they assessed the situation.

My guide-to-getting-everywhere, the iPhone app HopStop suggested I take 3 buses to get there. I begged to differ, chose to wait a half hour instead and the subways opened up again. Hey presto!

My first glimpse of the gallery was like a vision at the end of a long residential street. Spectacular.

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This was probably the second time I experienced the giddy feeling I got when I first got to New York. The girly, excited, ants in your pants “I can’t believe I’m really here” kind of feeling that lets you know instantly you are exactly where you are meant to be. I was so glad to have been ordered out of the house, even though I didn’t feel quite 100% it didn’t matter anymore.

The building itself is sensational – built in the 19th century – it is a work of art in itself. I took these in a stairwell – so this is just one tiny corner of the fabulousness that is ALL OVER the damn place.

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If you’re visiting New York you definitely need a day (or two if you can) to get around to all of the exhibits that comprehensively span the continents, centuries, ideologies in a seemingly endless corridor, room after room. I’m planning on visiting regularly to take it all in. As it was I let my mood dictate the exhibits I visited. I think I saw about 15% of what was there in 4 hours.

You definitely need refreshment stops. And bring your camera. Possibly the most surprising part of my visit was that you are ALLOWED to take pictures of the artwork and exhibits. Obviously not with flash (though I saw lots of people do it anyway). I thought it was nice of the Met to allow it, but in another way I wondered how much you could really enjoy an artwork if all you did was point and shoot at it then go on to the next one and do the same (saw so many people doing this!). You could have just picked up a book!?

Here are some of my favourite visions from the day:

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The last picture, the painting, is of Joan of Arc. I found myself drawn to several representations of her scattered throughout the gallery, different styles, times and places, and when it occurred to me, I thought it was a lovely coincidence and reminder of the strength I have.

It’s not so much that I feel I’ve forgotten my strength but that I haven’t been living in it. Using it to create change. In the last week, SO MUCH has already changed. So I like to think maybe Joan’s little wink at me made all the difference.

Now I’m paying it forward: remember your strength today. If you feel like you’ve forgotten where it is be sure to keep your eyes open so you don’t miss the wink I’m sending your way.

x


Brands and Blogging: more BlogHer’12 take home value

Now that I’ve had a chance to digest the BlogHer’12 avalanche of information and ideas I thought I would tackle a rehash of one of the most interesting panels I attended. In a way that won’t bore everybody else to tears, including myself.

Brands x Bloggers

The Brand Blogger Connection featured panellists both from successful blogs and PR and Marketing professionals with (obviously) experience dealing with bloggers.

The whole thing got a little tense when the subject of getting paid to work with a brand was brought up and it’s that moment that I wanted to unpack a little.

Disclosure.

As a PR, obviously I am coming from the marketing/PR point of view rather than blogger perspective. I make no claim to be experienced as a blogger on this topic and in the interest of being completely transparent, I also want to say I was a little dismayed at the way some bloggers responded to the panel, almost as if it were a call to arms against brands who don’t offer cash every time they approach bloggers. It made me think – maybe there’s been a bit of miscommunication (excuse. the. pun.).

And this is written in the spirit of wanting to get everyone to hold hands, not start WW3 – though of course, feel free to comment.

Media and PRs – why can’t we all just get along?

Can I just point out – media and PR have (have always had) a symbiotic relationship out of necessity. And in an increasingly specialised communications industry, I venture a pretty good guess that they always will.

Media rely on PRs to help them source information, images, access appropriate people to interview, loan or receive free product. PRs rely on media to help spread the word, as a platform to address criticism or other issues, or rally support for a cause.

There shouldn’t be animosity – unless (as with any relationship) expectations are not communicated, and boundaries defined and maintained on both sides.

Here’s what the PR is thinking…

To give a little background, a PR strategy is usually (but not always) separate from the marketing/advertising strategy. That means there are a certain number of hours allocated (by the brand/client) for PR activities. A strategy is written by the PR, then approved by the client. It may involve tactics to achieve one or several of the following: education, promotion/straight publicity, consumer engagement or dialogue, community and stakeholder relations. Or others. Depending on the product, client expectations, and the ability of the PR. The strategy may also include “budget” for some of the tactics which could be product sampling, sponsored posts, or a launch event.

An example of part of a PR strategy for a consumer brand could be:

Brand X is releasing a new flavour of pasta sauce. Because grocery purchasing decisions are mainly made by mothers, the brand’s PR strategy is focussed on promoting it in media outlets (including blogs) that are read by (and written by) mothers, and liaising with interest groups or opinion leaders that have previously been in dialogue with the brand to find out what they think (this should include dissenters as well as advocates).

The tactics within the PR strategy include promoting the news – that there is a new flavour, as well as educating existing customers/potential new ones about the health/diet credentials of the product range or unique selling points (what makes it different to other products on the market). It may also involve attempting to engage mothers in a dialogue about their grocery shopping and meal planning to create meaningful feedback for the product developers. And starting a dialogue (two-way discussion) with the interest groups or opinion leaders that previously have rated or hated the brand. The last two tactics might take place on the brand’s Facebook page, or in face-to-face meetings with stakeholders or interest groups, or involve a VIP event. But for the first tactic – to promote the new flavour and educate about the brand – the PR will almost certainly attempt to write one or several news releases for the product: and if they’re clever they’ll research the hell out of it until they find a really interesting (TRUE) story idea like “new pasta sauce flavour saves lives” and that’s when, dear reader, it gets sent to your inbox.

Manners are important.

Ignore if – If a PR writes you an email that starts “Dear Blogger” or similar – please, PLEASE, feel free to laugh at them. DELETE the email. And move on with your life. Obviously their campaign is going to bomb – big time. If their client, superiors or even colleagues knew they’d written an email like that, they’d be in a world of pain. Feel free to dob them in. Or just let the universe take care of them.

Get paid if – they are asking you to be an advocate or ambassador for brand, write a whole piece on it, or host a banner/graphic on your site – and you feel it is a good fit for your audience and you want to be involved with the brand – do respond with your media kit that hopefully includes a clear outline of your audience demographics, sponsored post prices, advertising rates etc.

Here’s the grey area.

If the PR is trying to promote a ‘news’ item (ie. they send you a release about a new brand or range or product) and they don’t piss you off with their lack of manners, there are a few ways it can go:

No dice – If you don’t feel it’s a good fit for your audience, trash it. If you’ve got time or want to build a relationship with the PR, flick a quick email back to say thanks but no thanks, here’s why. Or not. Believe me, they won’t take it personally. And they’ll appreciate ANY feedback you give them, especially if it will improve their understanding of you and what’s important to you. And definitely tell them if you object to, or have had a bad experience with the brand or product – this is invaluable feedback.

Get paid – If you think it’s really a good fit for your audience, and you want to take it further, find out if the PR strategy has “budget”, and try to upsell them. For example, you could tell them you’d like to run a 4-week campaign on your site that includes some sponsored posts, or an ongoing series of posts on a relevant topic (product mentions must be exclusive to their brand AND they will expect editorial control/final sign off on the copy), you could add in some ad placement, etc. Be clear with the price breakdown and be prepared to back up your proposal with examples of your work with other brands as the client will most certainly want the PR to prove it is worth the investment – as with any advertising spend.

IMPORTANT – many PRs will not have budget for paid placements, but they WILL be able to direct you to the media buyer/agency that takes care of advertising spend. This is where maintaining a positive, open dialogue with the PR agency can open doors. And like mum said, mind your manners. Politely declining a pitch or ignoring a release is more than ok but a bad attitude could mean the difference between you being remembered when there IS budget or not.. and word spreads FAST among PRs. They’re professional chatterboxes, remember?

It’s news – if a PR has sent you a media or news release (whether it’s promoting a new product/new brand/new angle), and you feel it suits your audience, and you want to write about it, then that’s great! Use it as a jumping off point to do your thing. If you need images or product to review, ask and ye shall receive. Mention other brands if you want to. Create a conversation amongst your readers about their favourite healthy quick dinner – or whatever it is. Basically, do what you like. A news release is designed to do the same thing for bloggers as it does for newspaper journalists or television producers or magazine editors. Educate the writer/content producer about a product or event or brand, start a dialogue with them to gauge their opinion (I always like to tell clients what perception is of their brand so they can improve on it), and potentially (hopefully) generate enough interest in the STORY IDEA to get a piece up about it. Often this involves other products being thrown in for balance. But that’s fine, as long as there is a mention for the client in there somewhere. This mention, however small, is the payback for the PR that says thanks for the idea. Or nice image. Or free product.

Content is key.

My favourite part of PR is connecting great brands with great media to create amazing content. I have a media background (before I worked in PR, I worked in television and online content production) and still love seeing an idea come to life in a beautifully crafted post, or video, or interview. I have no interest in seeing my media releases copied verbatim (this has happened in so called newspapers before, it’s not as fun for me as it is easy for the publication). And I really love getting to know bloggers in particular – some of my favourite media contacts back home are bloggers that I will keep working with because of their professionalism, their integrity (defined as much by them saying ‘no’ as yes), and crazy sense of humour.

Yeah – I saw those BlogHer’12 party pics… 😉

You can read a full transcript of the panel here.


Welcome Back Vodka Sauce

Today I attempted and I believe accomplished my first vodka pasta sauce.

Vodka sauce is somewhat prolific here in NYC and features my favourite beverage – vodka – in a creamy, tomato concoction that tastes like nothing you’ve ever eaten before. I’m sure it will be one of my strongest culinary associations with this city – it appears on pasta, pizza, meat.. anything.

The reason for the vodka is the same as the reason many Italian dishes call for red wine – to unlock the flavours in the tomatoes that are otherwise hidden. Or because you just love vodka like I do.

My version does away with the heavy cream base and still gives you a lovely rich consistency that coats the pasta in pure, sweet, creamy deliciousness.

I made mine completely from scratch because I had some overripe tomatoes I wanted to put to use, but if you are stuck for time – tinned tomatoes can be substituted for fresh. For this qty I’d say 2 tins would be the equivalent.

Welcome Back Vodka Sauce

Qty for 4 portions. I refrigerated half before plating up to stop us going for seconds. 🙂

Ingredients:

10 small very ripe vine-ripened tomatoes

1 onion, chopped fine

1 small tin tomato paste (the single serve size, don’t get too pedantic, it can only improve the flavour)

2 bay leaves

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup vodka (I used Absolut – which is crazy cheap here – but you can use any reasonable tasting vodka. I would avoid super cheap vodkas even though you’re cooking it – you don’t want to compromise the balance of flavours for the sake of a few measly dollars..)

5 teaspoons grated parmesan reggiano cheese

1/2 cup no-fat Philadelphia cream cheese

Teaspoon of sugar (optional)

Fresh basil, shredded, to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Pam cooking spray or similar

NB – You’ll need a blender or similar to blend the sauce into its trademark velvety consistency

Now what?

Spray a medium sized saucepan with a light coating of cooking spray. On medium heat, brown chopped onion, then reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, whole, with bay leaves set atop, to the pan. Cover and allow to simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally to redistribute tomatoes and allow all to cook evenly. By the end of the hour they should be just falling apart with the skins and seeds falling into a gorgeous melee of aromatic tomato mush. Of course, if you’re using tinned tomatoes you can simply add these to your browned onion and move on to the next step.

Now you can add the tomato paste. Fill the can or container that the paste came in with water*, and add to the mixture, and repeat – keep doing this throughout the process if you feel the sauce is getting too thick as it boils and reduces away. By the way – don’t be scared if the water does keep disappearing – this is what you want! It means what’s left is even more concentrated and will be even more delicious. Also add at this point the garlic and vodka, bring to the boil for 5-6 minutes and then turn right down to a simmer again.

*If you’re a meat eater – you can substitute water for chicken stock to add another layer to the flavour of the sauce. Just be sure to taste your sauce before you add additional salt – bought chicken stock is usually loaded with sodium.

Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes then remove bay leaves and stir through the grated cheeses and Philadelphia. Once combined – at least mostly – you can pour into the blender. You know that useless removable clear plastic part of the blender lid? Take it off the lid so steam can escape, and place a piece of paper towel on top to prevent splatter. Blend the sauce until you no longer see pieces of skin, onion or those pesky tomato seeds floating past.

Pour the sauce back into the saucepan, and keep it on a low simmer. Here’s where you can have a bit of a play and add seasonings to your taste. I added a hefty pinch of cracked black pepper and ground sea salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of shredded basil – but it’s completely up to your taste. I think that’s the fun part of cooking – making a carefully nuanced balance of sweet, salty, sour to suit your taste. If you’re not sure and it just tastes bland start with salt and pepper in small proportions, and add in tiny increments until you’re happy. If you’ve used tinned tomatoes you will definitely need the sugar to balance out the acidity. The aroma and natural sweetness of basil will also help lift the flavour. Stir and keep warm until served. The extra simmer time will not hurt the sauce, trust me. Tomatoes looooooove a long cooking time.

I cleaned then chopped four organic (& hormone and antibiotic free) chicken thighs into strips and cooked in a frypan before adding to the sauce. This plus the Quinoa pasta spirals made for a really amazing, relatively guilt free dinner to warm the heart and fill the stomach. Perfect welcome back… or don’t leave me.. dinner.

Now, what to do with the rest of that vodka….. ha!

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Yep – still eating off plastic plates. SIGH.


BlogHer, Obama-loving and Health Marketing

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was my first day at the BlogHer ’12 conference. It’s technically not the first day of the conference, it’s actually a “pre” conference day, but two specialised streams of the conference took place that I did not attend and the most awesome thing I have ever seen – a live video cross with POTUS himself – I did.

The trip in to the Hilton New York on 6th Ave takes around half an hour on the M-train (walk included) and I figured I should get to the conference by 3.30 to give myself time for registration and a bit of the old faffing around. A reasonable combination of nerves, excitement and general nerdiness contributed to my 2pm arrival despite a pit stop at the most awesome bakery I have ever eaten in.

Magnolia Bakery.

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Magnolia cupcakes also offers a monthly CUPCAKE CLUB where you can receive 6 or 12 cupcakes delivered to your door. Is this the best idea ever, or what? For posterity, it should also be timed to your cycle.

For the uninitiated, the Magnolia Bakery is like mecca for cupcake lovers, where you should go if you’d like to know what it would feel like to have an angel shart in your mouth. I won’t explain what sharting is because there are ladies reading this, but just be happy with the angel reference. I had a vanilla cupcake with vanilla bean frosting (blue) and sprinkles (multicolour) and of course, my new favourite beverage, iced coffee.

Nutritious requirements for the day fulfilled, I proceeded to trounce up 6th Ave (or down, I’m not sure which is the correct vernacular) and on the way spotted this awesome place. The design of the signs in this city just blow me away.

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Radio City Hall baby!

I also passed NBC studios (sweet) but I’m saving that pic for the day I catch someone awesome walking out. Or maybe tomorrow. It was too much excitement for one day and I didn’t want to peak too early on Instagram.

The Hilton New York is a grand old dame, a little brassy but not without it’s charm. The actual conference itself is in it’s 8th year and now has around 4000 blogettes attending, plus a handful of male blogettes, which equals a lot of very excited and slightly tipsy women (and some men) snatching up a giant motherload of product samples and wifi usage.

Registration was so fast (bonus points for efficiency!) I barely had time to whip out my NSW driver’s license before I had a lanyard and program. The great part of that was it left me with plenty of time to wander the halls and wonder what on earth I have gotten myself into.

You see, attending the BlogHer conference wasn’t part of my grand plan. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I really should attend. Yes, there is my recent blogging activity. My long standing obsession with social media. My PR background and interest in all things marketing. My looking for a job. The abundant opportunities to network. My love of hotel buffets. And wanting to make new friends here in NYC. All good reasons to attend.

So you can imagine my delight when I found out that the President of the United States (POTUS!) himself would be addressing the conference LIVE via satellite link.

And you can also imagine my horror and impending sense of doom at being at a conference of thousands of (mostly) women, recreating a scenario not unlike the all-female school-type institutions I attended. I’m one of those people that shudders when people say “school – ah the best years of your life” because if you paid me $10,000,000 to go back to school I would say no thanks and stay happily in my 30s – in fact, I’d possibly even take an additional 10 year penalty and go into my 40s, just to further distance myself from it.

Why the melodrama, Adriana? I think it’s summed up with a few more A-words: awkward, acne, anxiety, adolescence and also just being told what to think and how to be by teachers, parents, and mostly peers frankly sucks. Alright, so I don’t have the acne (just the scars) anymore and I’m not an adolescent, so this should be a cinch? Hmm. If female-dominated workplaces have taught me anything it’s that women, en masse, require Survivor-like skills to be endured. Sadly western culture and the glass ceiling have not done great things to the sisterhood. Corporate life teaches us “eat or be eaten”. Some decide they didn’t get enough of the popularity contest in high-school and keep recreating their sorority in each new environment they encounter. The bitching endemic in mostly female workplaces kills me.

So you can imagine my (pleasant) surprise when nobody I encountered today was even remotely like the people I’m referring to. My first encounter whilst waiting (an hour early) for POTUS-link to commence, was with a lovely lass, a health writer for a medical website from San Francisco. My response to her question “Can I sit here” was “Yes please!” and quickly trickled into a lovely discussion about the state of FDA regulations in the US and the fact that you only have to prove your product DOESN’T kill anyone, not that it does. And the fact that San Fran really does seem lovely and she was staying recently in Nantucket which I thought must have just been a funny hick-town’s name they put in a limerick but it turns out it’s actually an island.

I KNOW!

Crazy. The next women I met were both contemplating a glass of wine after POTUS-link at the bar. We each drank a glass of white wine and discussed the state of our careers and what we wanted out of our blogs, which was all rather different but as it turns out we all had sage advice to share, and really if you think about it, most women do a wonderful job of being nurturing so why the hell don’t we nurture each other more rather than tearing each other down?

DIGRESSION! (I just re-read Catcher in the Rye, so if you don’t understand the reference, you could read it. Or you could guess what that means. You’d be right)

President Obama filled the grand ballroom at the Hilton New York today. Actually his projected image on 3 video screens did. President Obama also won me a $10 Starbucks gift card (THANKS, MR. PRESIDENT!) because I was the first person in that entire ballroom to live-tweet a picture of his head on Twitter.

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My wining twit pic. I LOVE YOU OBAMA!

THE FIRST! In a whole ballroom of bloggers.

I didn’t even know there was a competition on.. But I can guarantee you that seeing as I have finally received the remuneration I deserve for my rapid and unrelenting social media over-sharing, that I will surely continue it, and then some.

Mr. President Obama’s speech mainly addressed the female health aspects of his campaign, pointing out that Romney is planning on closing down Planned Parenthood (BOO). Several grown women hollered out “I love you Obama” like he was a rockstar. He also acknowledged the term “Obamacare” was thrust upon him but that he was glad to accept it as he was proud of the reforms he has been able to bring in. Lots of people stood up after his speech and clapped the video monitors.

And the most beautiful part of it was that the two event organisers that were there – Lisa and Elise – both hugged each other afterwards, because for them it had meant the achievement of something really special – to have established a community of bloggers so highly regarded that the President himself would bother to address them.

Really inspirational stuff.

We then had a couple of hours to explore the exhibitors stands which, let me tell you, are equal parts marketer’s dream and nightmare.

I will regale you with more stories about the loot later but here’s the loot so far:

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Lots of stuff I needed. Clearly.

And just because I cannot understand what they were thinking, booby prize goes to this effort from Poise:

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Targeting menopausal women with a fan I get. But what is the light for? To watch your fertility wither? To check your underpants for leakage? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!

Tomorrow I have to be up early to take full advantage of the buffet breakfast before a full day of workshops/seminars so I’m going to sign off now.

TOODLES! x


The Wordslave’s Pilgrimage – Strand Bookstore

Today I ventured into a somewhat steamy Manhattan in search of the booklover’s mecca Strand Bookstore.

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Strand Bookstore. 18 miles of books, 50 shades of paperbound temptations.

Situated conveniently near my most frequented L-train stop, Union Sq., I was somewhat surprised again at my newfound proficiency to map and follow a route to a destination. I’m killing it here! Seriously, I’m excited. Feeling more and more like a NYC native every day. Well, almost.

Venturing into Strand requires two things. Firstly, patience – for almost nothing is where you think it would be and the place is huge, and secondly time – a logical compliment to the aforementioned.

The thing is, if you have both of these things, the journey is completely worth it. They even conveniently provide carts for you to wheel around your selections.

Which brings me to the third requirement. Restraint. Kid in a candy store doesn’t fit – because the inhabitants of Strand books tend to be mainly of an older, less hypoglycaemic variety – at least at midday – but I imagine a suitable analogy might be happy hour. If only Strand did a happy hour so one might consume their latest find whilst imbibing a suitably matched cocktail. Has anyone done that yet? Cocktail matching to books? Oh, but they should! Another trend forecast by yours truly – as always, feel free to rip off, just be sure to credit me via a tribute – or I will accept cash.

The variety is mind-exploding and I had to keep reminding myself that I am not in the business of collecting books, nor am I on the payroll of a benevolent benefactor who would smile, bemused at my purchases later “Oh, look at all those magnificent books you found. What a clever girl”. Etc.

Nor do I have a bookcase yet, in fact, though I do have several coffee tables (three, remember?) ready to be covered in neatly stacked, colourful spines of different sizes, twisting their way up to heaven.

I realised whilst browsing and making decisions on what I should purchase that I have an innate distrust of hard cover, bound books, unless they’re covered in plastic, and that I much prefer the ritual of either breaking the spine of a new paperback or creating my own fissures in a pre-loved, dog-eared, well-thumbed paperback. Am I alone in this? I particularly mistrust the bound, hard-cover, gold embossed varieties – whose contents rarely thrilled me as a youngster and in fact by their very impression precluded my ever touching them.

This love is compounded by the intimate experience of smelling a really old musty book.

Now, those who know me know that I was recently seduced by the Kindle, which I still own and which has been neglected since my coming to NYC. I must point out that my little electronic friend still has his place in my life, however he is now primarily a conduit for the pulp fiction of contemporary authors for whom I would be hard pressed to find a charming pre-loved version. It seems wrong to read classics on a Kindle. Just as it now seems wasteful to read a thousand page plus Youth Adult fiction in hard cover. I mean, really? Why do they even bother publishing Twilight in hard cover? Add to the questions I raise that are important and should be answered.

After much wandering and frustration (why are all the authors I like at the top of the 14 ft tall bookcases?) I edited my selections, took my stack to the check out and realised promptly I had still managed to spend around $50 today without even meaning to. I swear I should just put a jar at the door that I deposit money into instead of leaving the house..

I have also been seduced into joining yet another online fraternity, this time Goodreads via which I can share and you can follow my literary whims and errors. Sadly the site is currently “over capacity” due to a high proportion of geeks proselytising their reads but feel free to find and friend me. Failing that, ignore this post and let’s be done with it.

Here’s what I bought and why I’ll be doing not a lot apart from sourcing good cafe’s to read in for the next week or so.

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Mmmmmmm smelly

I promise another adventure soon. I have a vintage clothes adventure brewing in me.

Strand Books strandbooks.com 828 Broadway at 12th Street


Got any bigger?

Did you miss me?

I’ve been very busy, being sick. It takes extreme dedication for someone like me to stay home and do nothing, and as a result I cultivated a lovely mood which those close to me know is best avoided at all costs. Do not poke the bear. Do not pass the doorway in a jaunty fashion. Do not turn on any lights, or deign to laugh however funny I might look scowling over a glowing laptop in bed.

Seeing as I’m dead cert you want to know, I am feeling much better than I was now that I’m not cracking temperatures every day, and/or fretting about it. The former finally subsided yesterday, after some tentative visits to the outside world on husband’s orders. The latter development because I am journeying back to Australia for a thorough servicing, in early August.

Things that happened last week:

I bought a 42-piece Snapware set for $19.99 at mother of all grocery stores Costco.  Note to self, not every piece needs to house rotting left overs, or at least, not all at the same time. Addendum: for those who have never seen a piece of Snapware, Australians in particular, you totally have you just never called it that. In fact, I don’t know what you would call it without using the ‘T’ word (Tupperware). Which I shouldn’t because both are licensed brands and of course like, totally different. But it looks like this:

Yeah, AS IF I’m washing these by hand. Into the dishwasher with you, my pretties.

I visited a judgemental doctor in Little Poland (Greenpoint) who when I asked for antibiotics for my sore throat and fevers prescribed what most doctors would prescribe had you contracted a nasty STD – hilarious. All because I had the audacity to ask for a script for birth control. Never did I think that as a 31-year old married woman I would be made to feel like a teenager for asking NOT to have a baby right now, thanks.

I saw Spiderman (excellent, but not a notch on Batman which I am dying to see) and found out the mayor is trying to outlaw super sized soft drinks in NYC. Of course this was after a well timed “Jesus, that’s a REGULAR???????” from me, from which point the candy bar attendant launched into an explanation which involved a derogatory comment about the Mayor. This pressing issue has stirred a wonderful debate amongst those who would like to exercise their liberty to choose a huge soda instead of a middling one, and spawned a plethora of clever t-shirts, pictured below:

This shirt says I take my huge drinks SERIOUSLY. It’s a human rights issue. Obvi.

I’ve seen people wearing these shirts everywhere – from the cinema to the markets, Costco and the chemist. This campaign by New Yorkers for Beverage Choices is excellent, and I think the muscly guy holding the soda (in the logo) could also double as mascot for marriage equality (those arms!) and legalising abortion (who wouldn’t want a huge soda to celebrate that?). If the marketing geniuses behind this would PLEASE STAND UP SO I CAN GIVE YOU ALL MY SOCIAL, ETHICAL AND MORAL FIGHTS TO FIGHT?

Of course, it reeks of a PR campaign (I would know) and corporate manipulations, but because I don’t want to sound overly negative, I’m sure it’s actually all about freedom to choose. I’m sure of it.

From NYC Dept Health website. Sadly, this marketing effort I would not adopt for my own personal crusades. I would want the t-shirt. Still, Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban the sale of sugary drinks of 16 oz and higher in the city.

Interestingly, a law passed in NYC in 2008 that required particular food outlets to post a calorie count beside each menu item. There are those who say it has little bearing on what people order. I beg to disagree. It has  provided me with the information I need to decide what to eat based on my self-esteem/tightness of pants that day to judging my peers’ food choices more accurately.

Other helpful and interestingly named NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (I’m not kidding) campaigns you might be interested to know about:

– “Latch on NYC” – a campaign to encourage support for breastfeeding

– A press release titled “Health Department Issues Statement Strongly Advising That Direct Oral-Genital Suction Not be Performed During Jewish Ritual Circumcision ” (I particularly liked the use of sentence case in the title)

Other things also happened but I am going to pace myself. And spare you an excessively long post. And give you something to look forward to tomorrow. And remember, latch on!

DO YOU LOVE ME NOW, FRIENDS?


The Un-NY, Non-Domestic, Non-Productive Post AND Weekend Recap

Hey kids!

Remember what it was like to be sick, last time you were sick? Probably not, because if you did, you’d remember not to pass it on to someone else next time. You’d stay home and make sure nobody else felt the way you did. But seeing as we each get to a point where we think “Actually I don’t feel that bad, and I really need to do x” and pass all this lovely stuff around I thought I’d dedicate this post to the sickies out there who just caught something off someone.

Apparently it’s very un-NY to stay at home when you’re sick. You keep going to work (work can be hard to come by). You keep going out (there’s stuff on.) There are subway poles to lick. People to sneeze on.

Yes, I’m under the weather, just to add to the current list of maladies I am battling off a feverish episode that has left my body feeling like boiled lunch meat in week old garbage. Lovely huh? 🙂

The strange thing is, I feel like working out – because my body is so gross to me right now – even though I know it won’t really help my getting over whatever it is… I am just sick of feeling soft, lazy, immobile. (In case you think I’m crazy – I just spent the last couple of months getting over two operations.)

I also have a strong craving for carbs and dairy – two things I know will set off any number of digestive complaints… even if I do order the vegan (dairy free) gluten free mac and cheese from Brooklyn Mac… It’s tempting.. but carbs.. is it worth it? So I’m sitting here on my MacBook, and I’m switching between the menu for Brooklyn Mac, and the menu for M Noodle (dumplings… mmmm). Which do I want? Do I even want food? Do I have enough cash? Why can’t someone order for me?

All in all, I’m a HOT MESS of a woman. Cannot make up my mind what to do. It’s just as well I’m home alone or I’d probably be picking a fight or simply driving h crazy with my indecisive, maudlin, cry-baby attitude.

At any rate – I thought you might like a recap of the weekend. It was a rather lovely weekend (before my fever set in again last night) and it was largely thanks to our lovely downstairs neighbours.

While Saturday was forecast over 100 degrees (fahrenheit, obviously, for the dummies) the searing heat was no deterrent for the Giglio festival. You heard me.

Now, the Giglio festival is exactly like what you would expect if someone said the phrase “EYE-talian American” to you, put it in a bottle, shook it around and sprayed it at your Cousin Vinny. It was loud, a little dramatic, but sweet and full of meat.

The Feast of Giglio, also known as the Cooperative Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and San Paolino di Nola, is a street celebration held annually in Williamsburg to remind inhabitants to eat. Mainly fried objects. They also erect a large statue of a saint, make charitable contributions to the church in exchange for a name plate on a large wall, and watch old Ronnie recreate his halcyon days as a dance hall singer on the church steps.

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I would eat you both again, my nutritionally deficient friends

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Hey, How’s your Braciole? Sounds awesome in an eye-talian American accent.

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I am waiting for your orders, pregnant ladies.

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Creepiest but most captivating clown ever.

For a hilarious but very detailed description of foods and drinks available check out the Short & Bald Eat New York‘s review. I am shocked, but also annoyed to discover that the Pina Coladas we all decided couldnt possibly be alcoholic ACTUALLY WERE – because it’s legal to serve alcohol on religious principle! I can’t believe I missed the opportunity to buy an overpriced, oversized colourful cup full of delicious goodness.

Oh stuff it, I’m ordering the mac & cheese. Ah. Okay. That’s better.

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So the neighbours had Philly Cheese Steaks – haven’t tried one of these yet – can’t remember what the h ate (something meaty I’m sure) and I sampled a variety of novelty foods including barbequed corn (delicious), MY FIRST PRETZEL (salty, but delicious), pink lemonade (the real lemon variety) and a chicken skewer then felt as if I might throw up. Michael did buy some zeppole (like a donut but in a random shape dusted with icing sugar) and I know this will sound crazy – me loving sweet things and pastry – but I could take or leave it. Not sweet enough 🙂

Spotted: Scariest Bozo the Clown ever cajoling the crowds as he smoked on his perch nonchalantly – dunk Bozo indeed.

On our amble home (attempt to walk off calories) we spotted this gorgeous bar and decided to stop for a refreshing, iced cocktail (calorie burning attempt failure no. 245,049). Owned by a lovely French man, the bar was exceptionally trendy but still friendly. The cocktails were pleasant, company excellent, and this bar, she take a good photo. Eric doused it with his drink so we decided to continue walking home. 🙂

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Santos Anne – must come back

Spotted: Verizon building 2 blocks from our house – no windows for 4 floors – neighbours have identified it as excellent place to hide from zombies.

Sunday we had a very long sleep in and in defiance of yet another scorching forecast decided to head out to the Brooklyn Flea Markets down by the water in Williamsburg.

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What I wore on Sunday. Subway floor.

On our way we made a pit stop at our local donut boutique – Dunwell Doughnuts. Awesomely retro-styled goodness.

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We took the subway to Bushwick Ave and walked down to the markets.

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On Saturdays they also have a food version called Smorgasburg. Definitely going to have to try that one!

It was there that I had my first celebrity spot of my life in New York – Jonathan Cheban. Watchers of Keeping Up with the Kardashians will know Jonathan as Kim’s publicist at CommandPR. I did a little “I might wee my pants” dance but didn’t ask for a photo. I mean really, I’m not a child. Alright – bible, I just chickened out.

Whilst in W’burg we perused overpriced antiques, I walked into my first proper ‘bar’ (smells like beer! just like back home!) looking for somewhere to eat, and decided to go back to Cafe Ella for my favourite Cobb Salad with dressing on the side.

After refreshing our sweet selves we caught the subway home, I worked out, and after I made dinner for h (and fruit salad for me) started feeling rather poorly.

So that was my weekend! We also started watching HBO’s The Newsroom which is pretty amazing, if not a little unbelievable (seen the second ep? End of the ep – completely out of character. But, FINE.)

How was your weekend? If you think these questions at the end are rhetorical you’re wrong. I really do want to know 🙂

My Non-Mac and Cheese just got here. Gotta run….

Love,

Fatty.

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Taste the rainbow – street view of dry cleaner’s sign

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What nobody knew was that Pepe had his own thing going on, the whole time.