NYC Adventure: Belvedere Castle

Belvedere CastleDid you know that there’s a castle right smack-dab in the middle of Central Park? It’s true! While Belvedere Castle is certainly no Windsor Castle, it’s still a cool place to visit if you ever find yourself in the area. And located along 79th Street and deep within Central Park, it’s actually rather close to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. You could easily plan a quick trip to the castle after a day at the museum.

Even though the castle is within walking distance of my apartment, I’ve only ever been there while it was closed. This weekend I finally had the pleasure of going inside the castle and learning a bit of its history.

The castle was built in 1869 as a lookout folly Selfie at Belvedere Castleand has been home to the Central Park weather service since 1919. Fun fact: whenever you hear a weatherperson report the weather from Central Park, the data was collected at the Belvedere Castle. Pretty cool, right?

Derived from the word for “fair view” in Italian, Belvedere Castle certainly lives up to its name. Once you make your way up the very narrow, winding staircase, the castle provides scenic views of Central Park’s Great Lawn and Turtle Pond. (And it’s a great place for selfies.) There’s a tiny gift shop and information center on the bottom floor of the castle, where you can conclude your visit by signing the digital guest book. Belvedere Castle is just one of the many charming spots to visit within Central Park. This summer, let’s see how many we can visit! Until next time.

 

NYC Adventure: It’s been a while…

There’s no instruction manual for starting up a blog again, so It looks like I’m just gonna have to wing this… Hi there! How have you been? Did you change your hair? Looks great!

All kidding aside, I’ve missed you — I’ve missed this. Perhaps someday I’ll explain my long absence from blogging, but for now, let’s not dwell on the past. Instead, let’s focus on the here and now.

Let’s see, where to begin?  I’ve been living in NYC for just over a year now. It’s amazing how the Upper East Side now feels like home. But, as much as I love it here on the UES, I actually might be moving soon. My boyfriend and I (Hi, Adam!) have been talking about moving in together somewhere in the Financial District. This is a huge step (and probably deserves its own post) but just thinking about us living together makes me really happy. I’ll fill you in once we actually start the apartment hunt in a few months.

But enough PB 100 Clubabout living arrangements, let’s chat about fun stuff. Have I ever written about Pure Barre? I’m addicted to these classes. Pure Barre is an exercise class that uses a ballet barre and resistance from your own body to help you create long, lean muscles.  I’ve been diligently attending Pure Barre classes for months. In fact, I celebrated my 100th class this year and got to add my name to the 100 club barre. I can’t get enough of it, and that’s saying something since I’ve never been what you would call a ‘sporty’ girl. When I started taking Pure Barre I could barely touch my toesnow I can just about do a split!

Don’t think that I’ve spent all this time at the gymI’ve been to lots of museums, comedy shows and events since moving here, too. Trust me, I have the pictures filling up my phone storage to prove it. I’ll be posting recaps in the very near future, plus I’ll do a better job of actually writing things as they happen from now on. I mean it this time! I didn’t give my site a facelift for nothingI’ll be writing at least one post a week from here on out. I’m not just making that pledge to you, I’m making it to myself. I’m back, and I’m here to stay!

Until next time,

Kimberly

NYC Adventure: Sweet Spots

Calling all sweet tooths! Time to visit three delightfully delicious destinations in NYC: Dylan’s Candy Bar, Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, and Alice’s Teacup. So, channel your inner Augustus Gloop and dig in!

Dylan’s Candy Bar

This sinfully sweet candy shop is just steps from the 59th street subway station. You’ll know it when you see it — Dylan’s Candy Bar is the most colorful building on the block. On the first floor you’ll find bins of loose candy that you can scoop into cellophane bags, à la an old fashioned candy shoppe. Downstairs, on the basement level, you’ll find mostly prepackaged sweets and a glass case of gourmet chocolate. Last time I was at Dylan’s, there was a giant chocolate fondue fountain in the basement where you could purchase freshly dipped fruit. In addition to candy, the shop is brimming with candy-themed merchandiseclothes, dolls, plastic jewelry, toys, trinkets, you name it. I imagine that if you were to bring a small child to Dylan’s, you’d end up having to buy him a toy in addition to the candy.

From my experience, most visitors don’t make it past the first floor (climbing stairs is hard when you’re weighed down with bags of candy) but if you do get the chance to visit Dylan’s Candy Bar, be sure to check out the upstairs. Ascend the candy-filled stairway to heaven: a combination ice cream parlor and a bar. That’s right, there’s a bar inside the candy shop. Dylan’s is essentially Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with alcohol. Enjoy an ice cream sundae while sitting inside one of the giant, cupcake-shaped booths. Then, wash it down with a candy-flavored mixed drink.

Kevin G!

Kevin G!

One Wednesday in June I had the pleasure of attending a Mean Girls trivia night on the top floor of Dylan’s. Luckily, my friends and I reserved our table in advance, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten in. The place was packed with nearly two-dozen teams of pink-clad Mean Girls fans (because “On Wednesdays we wear pink.”) There was a surprise guest at the event: Mean Girls co-star Rajiv Surendra who played everyone’s favorite Mathlete Kevin Gnapoor. Sadly, he didn’t do his famous rap from the movie, but it was still exciting. My friends and I had a blast answering trivia questions while sipping our Mean Girls themed drinks. Overall, it was a really fun night!

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM

The next stop on this sweet journey is Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. That’s right, an ATM that dispenses cupcakes. (All in favor of instituting a cupcake-based currency, say “Aye!”) The Sprinkles Cupcake ATM is less than a block away from Dylan’s, so if you visit one of these sweet spots, you’ll definitely want to check out the other! This 24-hour ATM is located next to Sprinkles bakery and is constantly supplied with fresh cupcakes. Walk up to the frosting-pink ATM, make your cupcake selection, then watch your cupcake travel through the ATM and into your hand via the live-feed camera. The ATM tends to draw a crowd, so you might have to wait in a bit of a line, but it is definitely worth it. The cupcakes are delicious!

Alice’s Teacup

Alice’ Teacup is an Alice In Wonderland-themed restaurant offering full English tea service. There are three locations throughout the city. I visited the one on the Upper West Side and had a lovely time celebrating my “un-birthday.” Alice’s Teacup can be rather pricey, so I would only recommend this spot for true Alice in Wonderland fans and/or tea aficionados.

The menu has dozens of tea options and several tea service packages to choose from. My boyfriend and I split the “Tea Service for Two” which included two pots of tea, three scones, two sandwiches, and an assortment of cookies. It may not sound like much, but it was plenty of food and quite filling. We ordered one pot of Anna’s Earl Grey tea and another of the mint tea; original, pumpkin, and chocolate chip scones; a cucumber and humus sandwich and a roasted carrot sandwich. Each tea came in its own adorable teapot and the food was brought to us on a three-tiered serving tray. All the cups, dishes and saucers are mismatched which adds a bit of charm to the meal. You’ll definitely want to visit Alice’s Teacup for a cuppa if you find yourself in the city!

Hope you enjoyed reading about these NYC sweet spots! Have you visited any of these delectable destinations?

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NYC Adventure: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) to see the new fashion exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion.

The adventure began on a rainy spring day…

Stole the boyfriend's coat

So naturally I stole my boyfriend’s coat

We saw the sign for the fashion exhibit the moment we got to the museum. (Oh, the excitement!)

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Sign for the Charles James exhibit

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

The Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit features dozens of beautiful designs by the late American couturier Charles James.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit

Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit

His designs are timeless and breathtaking. I managed to snap a couple of photos before a member of the museum staff told me that photography isn’t allowed… oops.

I just love how this first display is arranged. Can’t you just imagine sophisticated ladies wearing these lovely gowns at a fancy event in the 1950s?

Front of the exhibit

This next part of the exhibit had a modern twist. There were live-feed moving cameras that projected close up views of each gown’s intricate details and screens that displayed x-ray images of their internal support structure. Not only were the gowns beautifully designed on the outside, but on the inside they were a feat of remarkable craftsmanship.

Stunning gown

One of the many stunning gowns

Charles James essentially constructed wearable sculptures. I could have spent hours and hours carefully studying each gown, but we did want to see some of the rest of the museum, (which is HUGE by the way) so I bid farewell to the gowns and took a stroll through the rest of The Met.

I felt like I barely scratched the surface of the museum, but I did get a brief taste of ancient Egypt, Qing dynasty China, and 18th century France. Below are a few of the highlights:

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt has always been sort of a fascination of mine–probably has something to do with the glamorization of Cleopatra. While the mummies did freak me out a bit (I’m so squeamish), I enjoyed the rest of the exhibit.

Egyptian statue

Ancient Egyptian statue

Small Delights: Chinese Snuff Bottles

Next we saw Chinese snuff bottles from the Qing dynasty. At first I laughed at the idea of this exhibit, but they were actually quite lovely.

Chinese Snuffboxes from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

Snuff bottles from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

According to the exhibit, snuff is a mixture of tobacco leaves, herbs and spices and was used for medicinal purposes. Snuff usage became increasingly popular during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) which led to the production of snuff bottles.

Snuff bottles

Intricate snuffboxes

These small, air-tight, containers preserved the freshness and flavor of the snuff. Over the centuries, snuff gained popularity in every aspect of Chinese society. The bottles display the various types of Chinese artistic styles through the centuries and how they were influenced by Western techniques.

photo 1(1)

As you can see from the images, the bottles incorporated a variety of art forms including glass, porcelain, ivory, painted enamel, metal, and calligraphy. Aren’t they pretty?

According to the display, some of the most exquisite snuffboxes were made of precious metals and decorated with gems. These were often gifts from European envoys and missionaries to the Chinese court. These snuffboxes were some of the most prized possessions of the Chinese emperors.

18th Century France

Perhaps my favorite part of the museum was the display that recreated rooms from 18th century France. Have a look!

French drawing room

Formal Reception Room from the Hotel de Tesse, Paris

Could you imagine living amongst all this beauty? Le sigh.

Room from the Palais Paar, Vienna

Room from the Palais Paar, Vienna

The French certainly are fancy. (There’s even a harp!) Every detail in this room is exquisite.

French bedroom

French bedroom

I’d feel like a queen waking up in that room each morning! Just look at that chandelier.

This was just a small snippet of the many beautiful things to see at the Met. If you ever find yourself in NYC and are looking for a cultured visit, I’d definitely recommend spending an afternoon (or a whole day!) at The Met. Until the next adventure!

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NYC Adventure: 150 Years of Design Innovation

On my way to meet someone for drinks this past week, I accidentally stumbled upon FIT, The Fashion Institute of Technology. My love of fashion, avid curiosity, and desire for adventure led me to check it out. I went inside and found a small (and free!) student exhibition called The Movement: 150 Years of Design Innovation.

The exhibit “…showcases ten time periods by incorporating architecture, fashion, and iconic objects for each.”

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the exhibition:

Bustle, 1871

Bustle, 1871

I LOVE a good bustle. It always amuses me how women wanted their bottoms to appear larger back in the Victorian era. I believe my large derrière would have served me well during this time period.

Seventeen Magazine and Gossip Bench

Seventeen Magazine and Gossip Bench

This 1940s gossip bench was built for functionality — it included a tabletop for a phone and a drawer to hold a notepad or phone book. The first Seventeen Magazine, as seen on the gossip bench, was published in 1944 for girls ages 12-19.

Dior

Dior “New Look”

In 1947, designer Christian Dior rocked the fashion world with the launch of the “New Look” featuring higher hemlines, fuller skirts, and smaller waistlines. Women’s fashion was never the same.

Mod Dress

Mod Dress

The 1960s brought forth the next frontier: space travel. With space travel, futuristic mini skirts and mini dresses became all the rage.

Isn’t the history of fashion fascinating? You can tell so much about a particular time period just from studying the garments.

My next adventure also features the history of fashion… Up next: my trip to the Met!

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NYC Adventure: Memorial Day

Hi readers!

This three-day weekend has been filled with NYC adventures, but I wanted to take this moment to thank the men and women of the armed forces who risk their lives to protect our liberty.

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Yesterday a friend and I were exploring Riverside Park on the Upper West Side and came across this beautiful monument honoring Union Army soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War. According to a plaque marking the site, the monument was unveiled on Memorial Day 1902 (then called ‘Decoration Day’) and is currently the terminus of the Memorial Day Parade.

It was so nice to stumble upon this monument on Memorial Day weekend and to take a moment to pay respects to the troops. New York is filled with such a rich history and I love discovering it when I least expect it.

Have a lovely Memorial Day! Can’t wait to share more NYC adventures with you!

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NYC Adventure: Paint Nite

I just got back from Paint Nite at Revel, a restaurant/bar/lounge located in the Meatpacking district. I was brought along to an evening of client schmoozing where we wined, dined, and painted with one of our website’s largest advertisers. This was my first work event at the new job! I’m not going to tell you how much the evening cost, but it was waaay into the triple digits. It was a lot of fun, but I’m still experiencing sticker shock from the price tag. Thankfully, I wasn’t footing the bill.

Okay, back to the adventure! The evening started with glasses of pinot grigio and delicious Italian cuisine. I got the house made gnocchi with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Delizioso! The restaurant was lovely and even though we were inside it felt like we were dining in an Italian garden filled with greenery and white lights. After dinner we moved to a back room and took a seat at our blank canvases, ready to create some art.

Paint Nite is basically a guided painting class held in the trendiest bars and restaurants throughout the city. For $65 you can create your own “priceless” masterpiece under the instruction of a real-life NYC artist. Here’s the progress of my painting, in three simple steps:

Step 1: Sky and clouds

Step 1: Sky and clouds

Step 2: Add water

Step 2: Add water

Step 3: A dash of sand and a palm tree

Step 3: A dash of sand and a palm tree

Voilà! A masterpiece! The starting price for this original Kimberly D. Horner is the reasonable price of 2 million. Let the bidding begin!

While our paintings dried, we sampled a few different desserts. My favorite was the tiramisu — it was light and delicious. Then we called it a night.

On the car ride home, I decided that I will bring my painting with me to work in the morning and display it on my desk. I don’t think my roommate would agree to me framing it and putting it up in our living room…

Overall it was a very fun, albeit extravagant night. If you are looking for an activity to get your creative juices flowing (and aren’t afraid to shell out a lot of cash) I’d definitely recommend giving Paint Nite a try.

Until the next adventure!

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NYC Adventure: The Next Chapter

Hi readers!

I’ve written and rewritten this post several times since I moved to NYC two months ago but it was never good enough to post. I finally decided that enough was enough… Let me explain my thought process here.

This particular post felt like a BIG deal. As my first NYC post, I feared that this post would set the tone for the entire future of my blog. Kind of silly in retrospect, but I worried that if this post was anything less than perfect, I’d ruin the entire future of my (hypothetical) blogging career! Okay… REALLY silly in retrospect.

For the past two months I’ve been writing Post-it notes to myself begging myself to blog. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The blank screen mocked me. “What’s your angle?” I’d ask myself. I didn’t have an answer. No angle = no inspiration, no inspiration = no blog. I was stuck.

Then, I thought back to the only time I was ever consistent with my blog — when I was in London. At the time I wasn’t narcissistically blogging about myself, I was blogging about experiences. I was a tourist in this beautiful city with centuries of culture. There was so much to see and I couldn’t wait to get back to my computer to report back. *Cue Ah-ha! moment*

“THAT’s My angle!” I thought. I’m going to blog about being a tourist in my own city.

So welcome to the next chapter of my blog — the NYC adventure.

In the past two months I’ve already been on quite a few adventures and I can’t wait to tell you about them! So stay tuned, and I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I will.

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It Doesn’t Pay to Get Discouraged

Lucille Ball

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
― Lucille Ball

A Lovely Night: Cinderella in Review

On Sunday I hopped on a bus to New York City to see Cinderella on Broadway starring Laura Osnes as the title character. The show is nominated for 11 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Costume Design of a Musical.

I grew up watching the Disney cartoon, the 1997 version starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, the 1965 made-for-tv version and the non-musical movie adaptation Ever After starring Drew Barrymore. I guess you could call me a Cinderella enthusiast. Most recently, while browsing YouTube, I discovered the original 1957 version starring the incomparable Julie Andrews. Although there is nothing quite like the multicultural cast of the ’90s version, Julie Andrews stole my heart making the original my absolute favorite. As a life-long lover of fairy tales, I’ve also read several versions of the Cinderella story, some dating back to over 300 years. When I started taking voice lessons at 9-years-old, I sang “In My Own Little Corner” at my first voice recital. As you might imagine, I’ve been waiting my whole life for Cinderella to come to Broadway, so finally seeing the show was a dream come true.

I had listened to the Broadway soundtrack, which included several new songs, and had seen photos of the costumes prior to seeing the show, but for the most part I refrained from watching clips of the show on YouTube. (The one exception was watching Laura Osnes’s Princess Diary on Broadway.com!) I wanted to be prepared for the show without spoiling the magic. I will get to my critique of the music and costumes, but first let’s go over the plot.

It’s the traditional Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella story with some added (yet unnecessary) subplot. One of the wicked stepsisters has a non-royal love interest, who just so happens to be a revolutionary. I believe this was an attempt to give the simple fairytale some political substance, but I think it was poorly developed and just added a lot of exposition in Act I. The pint-sized, tiara-clad critic sitting behind me announced to her “Me-Maw” early on that she “didn’t like this” and wanted “to wait outside.” Ouch. I wouldn’t say the added sections were that bad, but I guess the kid just wanted to get straight to the magic. It should be noted that for as chatty as this little girl was during Act I, she was practically silent during Act II.

I could drone on and on about the changes, but I don’t want to give anything away for those of you who still want to see the show. Instead I’ll move on to the most beautiful part: the costumes.

They were spectacular and the onstage changes were magical. Thanks to some plot changes, not only did we get to see Cinderella’s rags transform into a ballgown, but we also saw her change into a banquet dress in Act II. (Yes, two dresses for the price of one!) This second gown was reminiscent to Belle’s gold dress in Beauty and the Beast. (It also didn’t help that Cinderella was lugging around a giant book the entire time she was wearing it.) But the glass slippers were TO DIE FOR so who was looking at the dress, anyway? Speaking of the glass slippers, this Cinderella was no damsel in distress. Instead of losing a shoe, she actually handed it to her Prince Charming.

When Cinderella and Prince Topher (short for Christopher) sang “Do I Love You Because You’re Wonderful?” I was moved to tears. Pure magic. As for the “new” songs, they were nice, but when stuck between the familiar tunes, they paled in comparison. The dancing was lovely — filled with spins, high-kicks and lifts.

Overall, I’d say Cinderella is “A Lovely Night” on Broadway. “Glass slippers are so back.”