Spring 2021 To Do

NYC has had some rough moments this past year — the cold, COVID, an increase in crime — it’s been through a lot. So many of my friends are moving away and it feels like the end of an era. For good or bad, we are staying in NYC and there is so much to love and do. Here is a list of things that I want to do for Spring 2021!

 

1. The Rooftop at the Met

 

The Met rooftop is one of my favorite places to visit. I used to be able to sneak in a sandwich, but due to COVID, no food is up on the roof. Nevertheless, the Blue Big Bird flying in the sky is a fun sculpture to look at and enjoy the beautiful NYC skyline.

 

2. New York Botanical Garden: Kusama exhibit

 

Open through the end of October, this KUSAMA exhibit is a must see. Beautiful polka dots surrounded by all the beautiful nature — a must.

 

3. Scoot / Walk around Governors Island

 

Governors Island just reopened on May 1st and I cannot wait to return. It is always one of my favorite places to visit on a sunny weekend. Scoot, walk, and take in all the views and fresh air!

 

4. Eat at Via Carota

 

I’ve only eaten once at Via Carota many, many years ago. But the memory of this green salad still is with me. I am dying to try to go down to the West Village and eat not just this salad, but all the other many delicious dishes.

 

 

5. Take a Dog Leash Making Class

 

This weaving class is a hit with my kids, and I am now so excited to take a class myself. A dog leash making class!!!!

 

6. Visit Coney Island

 

I have no idea why I am dying to go (but every year I put this on my list of things to do for Spring), but I want to go and be super cheesey and eat hot dogs and go on the rollercoaster.

 

7. Watch a movie at the Paris Theatre

 

I love this movie theatre so much — it is classy, retro, beautiful, and you don’t see rats there…..

 

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I also want to organize my photos, purge kids’ clothing, organize my linen closet, and figure out summer plans….what do you want to do this Spring?

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Shoah Through the Eyes of a Child

As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I have always been fascinated by and interested in World War II. From a very young age, I would question my father on any and every experience he remembered from growing up as a Polish Jew in the mid 1940s. Although he was born in 1944 at the very end of the war, his entire life was dictated by his religion. So as a young girl, I would ask questions to him, and to my uncle — nine years older than my father.

 

My uncle, Wlodek, on the left. My father, Andrzej, on the right.

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Interview with Virtual Cooking Teacher

Last week, I wrote about virtual cooking chef / teacher, Kate, and the classes she offers online. I love her so much and her background is so fascinating that I wanted to share more about her with you! (And don’t you just love reading and finding out more about people — people are so fascinating!)  Read below to find out the questions and answer session with Kate! And thank you, Kate!!! (Please note: all pictures are taken from Kate’s instagram page).

 

Kate! Don’t you love her already?

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Virtual Cooking Classes

For the past several months, I have been taking virtual private cooking classes and they have changed. my. life. Through a kids’ cooking program, I became acquainted with Kate and loved her so much that I poached her from the program, and hired her to teach me how to cook. It has been absolutely incredible. Not only do I work with her on a weekly basis, but she does classes with both my kids — for special occasions here and there and in the past on a weekly basis. Kate offers cooking classes and baking classes and they are ABSOLUTELY incredible.

 

This is Kate. SHE IS AMAZING. Personable, super friendly, knowledgeable, patient, funny. I love her. If she lived in NYC, she would be my friend.

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Absolute Bagels

This past Friday, while sifting through magazines and food websites, I decided it was time to try “the best bagel” in Manhattan. So after researching some of “the best bagels,” I decided that we would try out “Absolute Bagels” on the Upper West Side (108th and Broadway). I liked it because it seemed gritty, authentic, unique, and off the beaten path. I like bagels — don’t necessarily love them — but holy smokes, these bagels were AMAZING and I cannot wait to return. Absolute Bagels has been run by a Thai couple for the past 27 years and although a typical bagel shop with all the different cream cheese offerings, they also have thai iced tea. Perfect random touch. It did not disappoint.

 

A huge line outside — mostly Columbia University students — but a mish mash of people. The lady in front of us waited in line for ONE bagel.

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Recent Attacks Against Asian Americans

Yesterday, while walking NYC, I turned to my 11 year old son and asked if he enjoyed being home from Spring Break or if he would rather still be in Florida. Without hesitation, he said he was so happy to be home because he saw people that looked like him and much preferred that than feeling different when in Palm Beach. He explained that when we were in Florida, he only saw three other people that looked like him — his sister, his dad, and the mailman. I could not help but get choked up with pangs in my heart that he felt this way. And of COURSE he felt this way. With all the recent attacks against Asian Americans in the United States, and even more so in our hometown of New York City, my kids are very aware of what is going on. They know that they are Asian and they don’t yet understand why anyone would hate them because of their different shaped eyes…

 

My boy. And his almond eyes.

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Natur Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

A dear friend recently launched Natur Shampoo and Conditioner Bars. These bars are non toxic, super luxe, high performing hair care in a bar format. This means that there is no plastic, less waste, no preservatives, no chemicals, a more minimalist shower experience and a healthier way to wash your hair. I am not just saying I love these products because I want to support a friend (which of course, I want to in ADDITION), but these shampoo and conditioner bars are really transformative and top notch. They will change your shower, your hair, and your approach to plastic.

 

Simple and chic boxes.

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Movies / TV Shows

In the past month, I have had a lot of screen time (even more than normal pandemic increased screen time). Here are the movies and shows that I have enjoyed watching.

 

1. The Blind Side

 

A MUST WATCH WITH THE KIDS! I saw this movie ages ago (when it came out) but we watched it as a family this past week and it was hands down a winner for all of us. A must watch.

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Biggie Footstool

Since May, I have been utterly and totally obsessed with needlepointing. I cannot stop and love it so much. I find it meditative and calming….both the process as well as the finished product. Recently, I finished the canvas of Notorious BIG and sent it to an amazing upholster who made it in to a footstool. I love it SO very much that I wanted to share with you all!

 

Biggie

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hydroMATE Water Bottle

After reading about hydroMATE water bottles in the NYTimes in the article “The Water Bottle That Won’t Leave You Alone” I bought one to use. I have always struggled with consuming a lot of water and instead, turn to La Croix, which is not necessarily a good addiction. It has been one of my goals for many years; TO DRINK MORE WATER. And this hydroMATE is actually helping me. In the week that I have owned the inspiring/annoying bottle, I have completed the goal every. single. day.

 

This bottle is BIG. It is half a gallon but feels even bigger.

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Currently Loving February 2021

February is a bizarre month — it is the shortest, feels the longest, yet is gone before I know it. So here is what I am loving this month (before it is March — hip hip hooray, Spring, we cannot wait!)

 

1. In & Of Itself

 

Identity is an illusion. I don’t want to say much because it is best to go in to this movie / documentary / performance blind. It is absolutely incredible, 100% worth watching, and afterwards, read this and this. Available on hulu. Powerful.

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Dumpling Galaxy

As mentioned a couple weeks ago when we ventured to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to eat Italian Food, we visited Queens several times to try out the “Best Dumplings in the City.” I am not a big chinese food or dumpling fan, but these dumplings from Dumpling Galaxy live up to their name and are absolutely incredible. I loved them so much that a week later, I went solo to get some for the family to eat for the Chinese New Year — they are absolutely incredible.

 

Right now, Dumpling Galaxy is shut down and only serving at a pop up store — a window next to a Chinese Food Market. Dumpling Galaxy is located in Flushing (past the airport) and only locals are there shopping and eating. When we were there, dozens of people ordered dumplings and the flow was nonstop!

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Arthur Avenue

This past weekend, we decided to drive to the Bronx to the world famous, Arthur Avenue. Arthur Avenue is considered the “Little Italy of NY,” yet if you talk to any New Yorker about Arthur Avenue in the Bronx either people have no idea what you are talking about or have passionate feelings about this neighborhood famous for all the Italian cuisine. Truth is, that most New Yorkers have not been to it, including my native New Yorker husband. But with nothing to do over the weekend (thank you, COVID, thank you Winter weather), we decided to take an adventure up to the Bronx to try out some food. We are so glad we did this and CANNOT wait to return — it had so much energy, kind locals, and ridiculously tasty food.

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

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Mark’s Off Madison

If you know me well, you know that Fred’s at Barney’s was my go-to restaurant for 11 plus years. It is where we had every Sunday dinner, multiple meals throughout the week, and even many special occasions such as Marathon parties, birthday parties, and special moments. It was our kitchen. We knew the entire wait staff and loved everything about it — it felt like home. So we were extremely sad when Barney’s shut down PRE Covid. It felt like we lost a part of our family and didn’t know what other restaurants to go to. Sure enough, a month later, the music died, and all restaurants were shut down to Covid…..but here we are, back in NYC, restaurants are reopened (currently only outdoor dining) and the chef from Fred’s, opened up his own restaurant “Mark’s Off Madison.” It is located downtown on 26th street and Madison, with Mark as the chef, and many of the same wait staff as at Fred’s. It felt like going home — we were so happy to see so many of the same waiters and think often of the others that we don’t know their whereabouts (Lorraine, Aggie, Jose, Gian Franco, and so many more — we miss you and hope you are all safe and healthy). Fred’s was a special place to us and so going to Mark’s Off Madison felt special, too.

 

It is NOT warm. Right now, in NYC, there is only outdoor dining, but that didn’t stop us from trying and seeing our old friends.

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2021 Goals / Resolutions / Hopes / Dreams

Happy 2021! What a year 2020 was….so much and yet so little happened, all at the same time. And here we are in a New Year…I didn’t MEAN to take two weeks off from writing blog posts, it just actually happened. And it was the most time I have ever been silent on this blog since I started way back when. Maybe it was the wear and tear of 2020, but I just felt like I had little value to add. My days felt repetitive and mundane, and there was little creative juice or positivity flowing in my blood. But now, I am back! And what a way to push myself with writing out my goals / intentions / dreams / resolutions / hopes / wants for the New Year. Here they are…..

 

Wav(ing) goodbye to 2020.

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Favorite Candles

I know people think that candles are an impersonal gift, but I personally love them and can never have too many. To me, they are the PERFECT gift. A little token of love that keeps on giving! Every time I light a candle, I remember where / who / what and think back to a memory with the given smell. I also have a cabinet of candles, as you never know when you need a last minute gift. So, here is my list of favorite candles!

 

1. D.S. & Durga Big Sur After Rain

 

One of my favorite scents — have it as soap, hand sanitizer, and as candles. It is light and refreshing and I never get sick of it.

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Currently Loving December 2020

Here we are, the last month of 2020 — and only a little more than a dozen days left. What a crazy and wild year it has been…..so on the bright side, here is what I am loving this month!

 

1. Mini Adventures with the Family

 

The past two weekends, we have had NOTHING to do …. as there is NOTHING *TO* do. So we have done mini adventures — walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, exploring a new mural, looking at views of the city, going on drives. All these little adventures seem like nothing, but they are enjoyable, create memories, help us see the world, and most importantly *allow us to get out of the house*. If anyone has other mini adventures in the tristate area, please share! Love to hear ideas!

 

2. Glossier Blue Eyeliner

 

I have never worn blue eyeliner before, but I bought this….and especially since I wear a mask most of the day, it is fun to do something unique and different to my eyes. A good pick me up!

 

3. Considering a Post Pandemic Future

 

A good article….what are you looking forward to post pandemic? Interesting to think about…

 

4. Lime Juicer

 

HANDS down, my best COVID purchase. This might seem like any juicer, but it’s not. It gets more juice than any other juicer and is clean, easy, and not expensive. And worth every cent.

 

5. Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

 

These cookies remind me of Christmas and I made them for the first time recently. Love them and brings back so many childhood memories.

 

6. Murder on Middle Beach

 

A mini series that I thoroughly enjoyed. After watching “The Undoing” and “The Queen’s Gambit,” this was a good one to follow….now I need a new TV series to watch!

 

7. 33 Life Lessons

 

A great article to flip through.

 

What are you enjoying this month? Do share! I hope you have a great week….final countdown here we comeeeeee……

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Hair of the Dog Mobile Spa

Our new puppy, Stevie, needed a haircut for the first time last week, so I was introduced to the mobile spa, Hair of the Dog, by a fellow dog owner. This female owned small business is literally an RV that comes to YOU and does the trim / nails / teeth in the RV in front of the apartment. Not only is it super convenient, but the employees are extremely kind. We will definitely return to them for Stevie’s next haircut. And I highly recommend this company if you (a) live in NYC (b) want to support small businesses and (c) want a great experience for your animal.

 

They text you when they are five minutes away and they parked half a block from us.

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Bread and Butter

If you know me well, you know that I love bread and butter more than anything. Not any bread and butter, but really, really good bread, and really, really good butter (deep). The salty fatty kind that just adds so much flavor. I could eat bread and butter for every meal. I know, very European. And SOOOOOOO my parents. My parents are the type that walk to the bakery everyday to get a fresh loaf of bread. I cannot remember a time in my life where there wasn’t a fresh loaf in the bread drawer. Of course, there is always a variety too — raisin bread, rye bread, ancient oat bread, you name it — we all have our favorites. So when I recently discovered 123Dough in Pound Ridge, I fell in love, and also felt like I had become my parents….nothing tastes better than a slice of bread (I like thin slices, I don’t like too thick) with some French Butter.

 

Look how cute 123 Dough is. It literally just has bread and some condiments — but the bread is fresh, organic, and oh so delicious.

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Natori Esteem Full Brief

Yes, I am writing about undies that are basically like the ones from Bridget Jones Diary, but full briefs are having a comeback! And these ones are aaaaaaahhhhhhhmazing. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have tried them had it not been recommended to me by a friend who is a stylist — and she told me that out of all the undies she has tried, these are the best out there right now! Since I trust all her style advice, I got these, and they do not disappoint.

 

YES, Bridget Jones! Thank you!!!

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Revisiting The List: A List Of Things I Miss, Don’t Miss, Won’t Miss, and Won’t Forget

We are now seven months in to the pandemic and life continues to be different and unsettled. I never expected the COVID-19 pandemic to still be the center of our lives, and yet….here we are. It is interesting to revisit the list I made on May 8 (almost 5 months ago) of things I miss, don’t miss, won’t miss and won’t forget. So many still ring true. Here is the original list, but updated for October 2020.

 

Pretty, NYC

 

WHAT I MISS

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Pumpkin Bread

I am a sucker for pumpkin spice (yep, I am one of those ladies who love pumpkin spice lattes and anything pumpkin flavored) so after seeing many posts and reviews about the pumpkin bread from Smitten Kitchen, I decided to make some of my own — and it did NOT disappoint. So delicious and yummy, and so easy to make. I will definitely make this throughout the fall and winter seasons and highly recommend that you all do the same, as well!

 

Ingredients:

 

 

* 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree

* 1/2 cup  neutral cooking oil or melted butter

* 3 large eggs

* 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

* 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

* Heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

* Two pinches of ground cloves

* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

 

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