Category Archives: Architecture

Taking the High Line

One of the places I wanted to visit during my stay in New York City was the High Line, a 1-mile long, elevated park on a former railway line. The High Line starts at 14th Street in Manhattan’s west side, and extends to 30th Street.

High Line

The original rail line was at street level in the 1800s, but there were so many collisions that 10th Avenue was nicknamed Death Avenue. Eventually, for the safety of New Yorkers, the rail line was elevated. But as a line that brought livestock into the city to be slaughtered, it really still was Death Avenue. I’m glad it’s a park now.

The original rail lines are still in place and beautiful plants grow around them in a way that makes it seem overgrown. In reality, it’s a carefully planned and elegantly cultivated garden.

Highline Collage

My parents and I started at the south end and walked the length of the High Line, enjoying sculptures, gorgeous views, live music, and lush greenery. It’s such an oasis in the city and a tremendous boost to the community. It’s even safe at night! There were so many people wandering through the park on our first visit there, that I felt totally safe.

During the day, you can see across the Hudson to New Jersey.

New Jersey

You can practically see in people’s apartments too! I like the mix of old and new along the High Line. You can see a famous Frank Gehry building, and the infamous Standard Hotel (there weren’t any exhibitionists on this day, however).

Diane von Furstenburg was a major financial backer for the project and it’s fitting that her flagship store is right next to the park.

DVF

DVF and Empire State Building

No matter where you look, you’ll see terrific views, like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building!

Chrysler Building

When we were done, we descended the staircase and continued exploring New York City. My mom wrote about our visit too. Have you been to the High Line?

Jean and mom

5 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Photography, Travel

The Lure of Horror Film

October is a spooky month–perfect for a visit to the scary exhibit at Seattle’s EMP museum: The Lure of Horror Film.

Can't look away

Truth be told, I’d rather laugh than be scared, but I was intrigued by the exhibit. And despite not being a die-hard horror fan, I’d seen a lot of the movies featured in the exhibit, which made it extra fun to see the props used in the film.

spooky selfie

The exhibit was curated by three horror film directors: Roger Corman, John Landis, and Eli Roth. They’ve put together a terrific collection, including a scream booth, movie artifacts, a shadow monster installation and horror soundscapes. Examples like:

The axe from The Shining:

shining axe

A stick man from The Blair Witch Project:

Blair Witch man

The alien creature suit from Alien:

Alien suit

Props from The Fly:

The Fly

Jason’s hockey mask and machete from Friday the 13th:

Mask from Friday the 13th

And a zombie suit from Michael Jackson’s Thriller:

zombie suit from Thriller

One of the scarier things I found in the museum was not intentional. I took a few pictures in the reflective ceiling in the EMPs expansive atrium. The combination of curved metal and screws turned us into monsters of sorts.

Are you going to see the show? What do you have to be scared of?

scream gallery

6 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Events, Film

Doors of New York

When I wandered the streets of New York a couple of weeks ago with my parents, I took a lot of pictures. We all did. Between the three of us, we had five devices–one DSLR, two point-and-shoots, a smartphone and an iPad! We didn’t set out to capture a series of doors, but there’s something about doors that drew us in. And when I looked through the photos, I saw a theme.

Maybe you can’t judge a book by its cover, but my dad said you can tell a lot by the interior of a house by what the front door looks like. He should know–he’s a painter and decorator and I bet he’s painted a lot of doors!

I hope you enjoy a few of the doors we captured in pixels.

Here’s a beautiful building a block away from the place we stayed at in Harlem. Warm, inviting wooden doors and pretty flower boxes drew me to this scene.

twin doors

A red door is classic and the black shutters and brass mail slot and kicker add elegance to this doorway in Chelsea.

red and black

I liked the arched doorway, the combination of dark wood and light stone, and the flowers flanking the steps.

arched wooden door

Carved faces and grapes, and lions guarding the stairs makes this entry special. The black door with half window is very inviting.

lions

Another red door, this one with great ironwork and crisp, white shutters.

red and white

The entry to this cathedral in Morningside Heights had a heavy, strong door.

brass handle

Nothing beats a fire station for style. I really liked this one in Little Italy.

fire station

I like the greenery growing around this door’s arch. The iron gate is a nice touch that adds privacy without being obtrusive.

black door

I can’t stop looking at the warm tones of this wooden door in Greenwich Village. The forest green trim works well with the wood and bricks.

green and wood

Here’s the detail of the door knocker–lovely!

knocker

How does a building or house draw you in? Is it the doors, the garden, windows, something else? Have you done something special to your entry?

6 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Photography, Travel

Spending the Morning in Morningside Park

During my trip to NYC, my parents and I had the chance to visit a famous landmark: The restaurant from Seinfeld.

Tom's restaurant

Of course the show used only the exterior shot; the inside scenes were shot in a Hollywood studio. Still, it was fun to stand in such a famous place, and the location of so many funny scenes from my favorite show.

We popped in to Tom’s (or Monk’s as it was called on the show) for a New York bagel, and walked through the Columbia University campus and watch new students moving in.

walikng outfit

olive and black

Top: Charlotte Russe
Skirt: Target
Shoes: Target
Purse: Flea market in Harlem
Sunglasses: Shop in Santa Fe
Necklace: Herbivore Clothing

 I also walked through Morningside park, a long, treed strip of land that runs between Morningside Heights and Harlem. From the top of the park you can see a great view of Harlem.

morningside park

My stroll took a serious turn when I happened upon the cathedral St. John the Divine. I don’t normally stop in cathedrals but this one was having a photo exhibit called Hidden Lives: The Untold Stories of Urban Refugees. I read about people who endured terrible hardships, such as war, violence, natural disasters and how they moved to safer places. I learned that across the globe, over 40 million people are displaced and that half of them are living in urban centers. The exhibit challenged my perception of what it means to be a refugee. It’s not just “someone else” in “another place.” They are our neighbors too, and often we walk by without knowing their stories.

The exhibit is over but you can read the featured stories online.

St. John the Divine

I’ve joined The Pleated Poppy, Transatlantic Blonde and Style Elixir today for a blog link-up. See what everyone else is writing about!

3 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Art, Events, Fashion, Travel

Two of a Kind: Matching Pink Tops

When I was a kid, my mom would dress me in outfits that matched hers. I was her Mini Me. Well, I’ve since developed my own sense of style and prefer a unique look, but we do still like some of the same things. So when my aunt sent us a care package all the way from Germany, you can imagine my mom’s delight when she saw two matching tops.

matching pink tops

Tops: Clockhouse via gifted
Bottoms: Thrifted
Shoes: Target and Old Navy
Cuffs: Wrecords by Monkey

My mom brought the tops to New York and we had an impromptu photo shoot. Thanks to my Tante Marion for the pretty tops! She always manages to find things that I really like!

I paired my top with dark denim Bermuda shorts. They were perfect for my trip and went with the flats and wedges I’d packed.

Jean, seated

Jean, standing

My mom wore her top with lighter denim capris. We both have on metallic ballet flats. Hers are pewter; mine are gold.

mom seated

Mom, standing

We even have coordinating cuffs. When we were at the Brooklyn flea market, we met a local designer who was selling bracelets made from upcycled records. My mom’s has a peach-colored NYC skyline on hers. I went a little grittier and chose one with pigeons, rats, coffee cups and trash bags. I like to keep it real!

record cuff

After the shoot, I changed into a different outfit. Don’t get me wrong–I love the top, with its Grecian styling. I just don’t want to match anyone else! We went to Harlem Tavern and treated our photographer (aka my dad) to a delicious peach hefewiesen and sweet potato fries.

harlem_tavern_collage

Do you prefer a unique look or do you sometimes coordinate with a sister, spouse or friend?

I’ve joined Style Elixir for a group link-up. See what everyone else is wearing!

15 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Art, Fashion, Travel

Shadow Shot: Savannah

I enjoy writing posts about art and I enjoy taking pictures and the Shadow Shot challenge is a way to participate in both. Why then, have I neglected my shadow shots for so long? I hope to make up for lost time with a few shots from Savannah, Georgia.

I visited Savannah last month on the annual trip I take with a few friends. What a gorgeous city–and full of history! We enjoyed wandering through the historic part of town and snapping shots of brick and ironwork.

American flag

Amore

I’m always happy when I see palm trees–it means winters can’t be that harsh.

Mansion on Forsythe Park

The skies were blue and the weather was perfect–mid 80s (mid 30s for all you Celsius folks!).

church

Is it the shadows or do those cherubs look angry?

cherubs

We found a lot of tattoo parlors, each with interesting signs. Here’s one of my favorites.

tattoo

Even misplaced recycling looks nice with the sun shining on it.

blue bottle

We imbibed too, at a second-story bar next to our hotel, The Mansion at Forsythe Park. I’m so glad I didn’t find out until after our visit that the hotel was built on a cemetery and the bar was once a funeral parlor. Yikes!

drinks

By day, the hotel doesn’t seem haunted at all. The pool was in a relaxing courtyard surrounded by palm trees.

poolside

Savannah is a wonderful city and I’ll add other posts soon too: The fashions, the beach, the Scottish Highland Games–we had a fun and busy weekend and I can’t wait to share more pictures with you.

15 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Art, Photography, Travel

Rainy Days and Sundays

I went to the Seattle Center with my hubby recently. It was pouring all day and we almost didn’t leave the house. But if you live in Seattle and don’t go out in the rain, you might wait 6 months to get out! So we went for it.

EMP and Space Needle

Here’s an example of how faux leather boots are a better choice than the real deal. These leather-look boots are practically rain gear. They look cute and they’re totally waterproof.

rainy day wear

Umbrella: Hubby’s
Cape: Target
Brooch: eBay
Jeans: Goodwill
Boots: MIA via Amazon
Purse: Crystalyn Kae

I wore a cape, not a raincoat so I had to use an umbrella. Most people in Seattle skip umbrellas. We’re usually well equipped with our jackets and hats and we just don’t bother. Plus, the rain is often barely more than a mist. And while it goes on and on, it’s not heavy enough to warrant an umbrella.

EMP by Frank Gehry

I like the buildings in the area. Between painted murals and post-modern architecture, you almost won’t mind the rain.

EMP

6 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Fashion, Thrifty

Hawaiian Getaway

Mr. Jean of all Trades and I took a quick Hawaiian vacation recently. We left Seattle on a Thursday morning and came back on Monday. It was a long-long weekend. Probably too short in retrospect, but any time away is better than none.

It’s a five-hour flight to Honolulu, and that gave us the afternoon to wander through Waikiki, the busy, touristy part of the city. I was thrilled when The Pacific Beach Hotel upgraded us to an ocean-view room. Those little dots in the water are surfers waiting to catch a wave. The water seemed calm but every now and then, they’d ride a wave to the shore.

view from the room

Hotels in Waikiki are pricy so I picked a less expensive, no-frills place to stay. It was clean and close to everything. That’s all we needed. This picture is of the hotel next door.

Waikiki hotel

The beach was beautiful and it was a treat to see palm trees again.

palms

The last time I saw any was in Florida last year, when I met up with my parents who were staying in Pompano Beach.

Evening in Waikiki

We savored the sunset and watched the ships along the horizon. It was hard to believe we’d been in Seattle that morning.

sunset

When the sun lowered, the glow was gone.

Honolulu

But it stayed light later than it does in Seattle this time of year.

pre-valentines' day dinner

Best of all, it stayed warm! We wandered the beach before heading off for a Valentine’s Day dinner.

I picked up this maxi dress at a clothing exchange this past fall. I jokingly said that I didn’t have anywhere to wear it but I’d take it for my next trip to Hawaii (not knowing I’d be heading there so soon)! We ate in an Italian restaurant where I found a delicious vegan pasta dish and a drink made with sparkling wine and hibiscus juice. Welcome to paradise!

Next up is our first full day on Oahu: Exploring Honolulu.

7 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Fashion, Photography, Travel

Kitchen Style: Before and After

My parents visited me recently and while my mom and I were busy having fun and shopping, my awesome dad gave my house a makeover. My place is 50 years old–and was starting to show its age. I love mid-century design, but “worn out” and “old” was not part of the plan. The kitchen was renovated in the early 80s, but wasn’t looking fresh. Here’s what it looked like when I first moved in:

kitchen originally

Sink area before

stove area before

The first thing I did was replace the appliances. That was easy–except there was no dishwasher so I gave up 7 precious drawers so I could add one.

I lived with the oak cabinets for a few months, but soon realized that the color was too dark for a room with a low-ceiling. Besides, they didn’t have handles and the finish was wearing off.

I knew replacing the cabinets was a major undertaking–and not cheap! Lucky for me, my dad is a painter. Instead of paying for a major renovation, he painted the cabinets white, added brushed nickel knobs, painted the hinges to match the knobs, and together with my husband, replaced the white counter with a slab of wood block. One new sink and faucet later and look what I have:

new kitchen

The sink area

New deli block countertop

a new, round sink

view of the corner

stove and counter detail

white cupboards

nickel knobs

To make up for the lost drawer space, I bought a magnetic knife holder and a rod to hang utensils. Both were from Ikea and were really inexpensive. I moved the paper towers off the counter to open up space and tied in more black and nickel accents with the microwave, toaster, and electric kettle.

microwave and space to hang things

My dad even wallpapered the backsplash with textured paper made to look like stucco. It’s paintable too, so if I ever want to change the color theme, it’s a quick switch. And that little ceramic plate the bananas are resting on? My mom found that at a garage sale. It’s got a photo of coffee beans printed on it. It’s great for things like keeping fruit, cooking utensils or coffee mugs off the counter.

counter detail

Speaking of the counter, I love it! I treated it with a mineral oil mixture especially designed for wood countertops and cutting boards. Water beads off of it and messes wipe up nicely. That said, if I had a few kids and my kitchen took a beating, I might opt for a lower maintenance surface. While I can sand out stains and water marks, it does need occasional oiling and liquids should be wiped up in a timely manner. But with just two adults in the house it’s not exactly a water park in the kitchen so it’s perfect for us.

Cost rundown:

  • Primer and white paint: $40 (Home Depot)
  • Silver paint for hinges: $7 (Home Depot)
  • Wallpaper: $15 (Lowe’s)
  • Knobs: $45 (Home Depot)
  • Counter tops: $260 (Ikea)
  • Sink: $40 (Ikea)
  • Faucet: $70 (Lowe’s)

The appliances were all on sale at Sears and I used the Sears points I earned from that purchase to get the microwave. What could have been a messy, lengthy and expensive renovation turned into a weekend project that came in at under $500. Of course I had my dad’s free labor. Always a plus!

15 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Decor, DIY, Thrifty

Seattle’s Space Needle Turns 50

My house and the Space Needle are the same age–and both show no signs of slowing down. Middle age suits these two buildings well.

space needle

Mid-Century Modern design was all the rage in 1962. The Space Needle was built for the World Fair. The fair was comprised of structures and exhibits that showcased science, technology, art, fashion, and the world of tomorrow. To celebrate the half century mark, the owners of the Space Needle painted the top galaxy gold, just like it looked during the 1962 World Fair.

After the fair, the Space Needle remained, of course, along with the other buildings. The area is called Seattle Center and is the home of the Pacific Science Center, Experience Music Project (a recent addition), International Fountain, and the brand new Chihuly Garden and Glass, featuring work by local glass artist Dale Chihuly. It’s also where the monorail departs from.

Just peeking at the Seattle Center site, shows an enormous number of events. In addition to walking the grounds and taking in the art and architecture, on any given day, you’re bound to find music events and cultural celebrations.

point of view

When I first came to Seattle I was disappointed that the Space Needle wasn’t taller. The CN Tower in my hometown of Toronto is over twice its height. But after living here since the needle was 38 years old, I realize that size doesn’t matter. The character, the history, and what the needle represents is what’s important.

Even though the Needle isn’t the tallest building in Seattle, it appears that way from Highland Park in Queen Anne. That’s where I took these pictures. From this vantage point, the needle is in the foreground and the city is behind it. Downtown Seattle is almost a mile away from the Seattle Center.

view from Highland Park

If you’re in Seattle, check out the park–it’s just a strip of land, but has fabulous views. Then, head over to the Needle. Instead of paying (and waiting) to go to the observation deck, I recommend going straight up to Sky City, the revolving restaurant at the top of the Needle. You won’t need to pay for an elevator ticket and you can bypass the lines. Once there, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and Puget Sound while you eat.

Happy birthday Space Needle!

5 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Art, Events, General