Category Archives: Travel

Exploring Brooklyn

As part of my “pack light; wear dresses” motto, I threw on this cool dress for my excursion to Brooklyn.

Jean in brooklyn
Dress: Forever 21
Boots: Diba (from DSW)
Purse: Crystalyn Kae
Sunglasses: DKNY via swapped

Brooklyn mural

The boots will look familiar. I wore them a lot on the trip (I swear I sometimes wore sandals and ballet flats too) because they were wearable, walkable, and added a funky edge to otherwise sweet dresses.

brooklyn with mom

On this occasion, my parents and I visited a Brooklyn flea market (for my mom’s account, click here). We found one indoors as well. We checked out a couple of art galleries too, visited Vaute Couture (my favorite vegan coat store), and ended up at Champs, a vegan diner.

brooklyn flea

I’ve saved the best part for last: A week later, I wore this dress to New York’s Lower East side for vegan pizza (remember: four dresses–only my parents and you will ever know). Guess who I met at the table next to us? None other than Sarah Simmons. Sarah was on The Voice and is a powerhouse singer. She’s as sweet as she is talented. Truly humble and genuine. She should have a new album coming out soon, so be on the lookout for it.

sarah simmons

If you missed her on The Voice, check out a couple of snippets of her amazing talent. Her audition blew all the judges away. She does a powerful version of The Story too.

Oh, some of you have been commenting (complimenting me on) my new tattoo–the most visible one yet! Thank you. I wrote about it on my other blog, so if you’re interested, have a read.

I’m joining Not Dead Yet for a linkup. Have a look at what all the others are wearing!

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The Return of the Pink Skater Dress

Last year, on my trip to NYC, I saw a cute skater dress. However, it was in Old Navy–and I didn’t fly across the country to shop in a national chain! When I got back from my trip, I found the dress at my local store (no sense filling my suitcase with things I can buy at home).

This year, I packed my skater dress for my trip to NYC. It made its east coast debut in Chelsea.

skater dress and boots

Dress: Old Navy
Pleather boots: Diba (from DSW)
Purse: Crystalyn Kae
Cuff: Brooklyn Flea

I packed light this year. Four dresses, four pair of shoes, a skirt, a pair of pants, two tank tops and a cardigan. Not bad for two weeks away! However, no matter how light I pack, I can always go lighter–especially when travelling to a shopping mecca like NY! I bought 10 dresses on my trip (many at thrift shops) so I could have arrived with an empty suitcase. By the time my trip wrapped up, I had a wardrobe that would last all season!

posing in Marimekko

I wore this dress to my appointment at Ted Gibson Salon. I thought having my hair cut in The Big Apple would be a treat. Ted Gibson (from What Not to Wear) was out of my price range, but his stylist Sherilyn did a great job.

My parents joined me on the trip again this year. My mom has been much better about blogging about the trip, so check out her latest post (my skater dress makes an appearance–and she has one in houndstooth).

Oh, and the cuff? Genuine made-in-Brooklyn artistry at work. It’s made from a fork!

fork cuff

Stay tuned for more posts from New York–my favorite home away from home.

I’m linking up with Fashion Informant today. Check out what al the others are wearing!

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Filed under Fashion, Thrifty, Travel

Studio Museum in Harlem

One of the first things I did when I went to NYC last summer was head to West 125th Street to the Studio Museum in Harlem.

The museum is a contemporary art gallery focusing on African-American works. It offers an artist-in-residence program too, so it not only reflects and showcases art in the community (and for the community) but it gives artists a space to practice their craft.

In addition to an impressive permanent collection, there is a constant rotation of exhibits. Here’s what I saw.

Robert Pruitt’s exhibit Women featured a collection of large-scale conté-on-butcher-paper drawings of women. There are pop culture and political themes in the work, which feature models of women in Pruitt’s life. They’re embellished with gold leaf.

wall of Robert Pruitt's drawings

Robert Pruitt framed drawings

Robert Pruitt woman

Robert Pruitt drawing

I saw a high school photography exhibit featuring wonderful snippets of student life, from family and home scenarios to perspectives on high fashion. Here are just a couple of the 30 or so images from the collection.

I enjoyed Jennifer Packer’s work, which was varied in theme but related in its textures and painterly-ness.

Eric by Jennifer Packer

Jennifer Packer

Cullen Washington Jr.’s Untitled (Mondrian #6) echoes the geometric aspects of Piet Mondrian, only Washington’s are created entirely with found materials.

Jennifer Packer

Another geometric piece was nearby, this one by Steffani Jemison.

steffani jemison

Shooting without a flash indoors is limiting, but I did capture a few other pieces, including these from the Body Language exhibit.

The Studio Museum is a gem and I highly recommend visiting if you’re ever uptown.

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1950s Lucite Purses

One of the nice things about travelling with my parents is that we meet lots of people. I tend to “mind my own business” when I go out; for my parents, everyone’s a friend they haven’t met yet. Even in the Big Apple, they proved amazing people are around every corner. We met cabbies, waiters, artisans, shop keepers, designers, restaurateurs and celebrities.

So it was no surprise that while I popped into a pet supply store in SoHo, my parents were making friends with a shop keeper across the street. We were treated to a history lesson and tour of mid-century American style. Deco Jewels is an antique specialty shop dedicated primarily to vintage Lucite handbags. This tiny store boasts the world’s largest collection. The owner even wrote a book about it!

purse from the book

Carry Me

Lucite, sometimes called acrylic glass, is a modern-era material. It was first used for windshields and submarine turrets in WWII. Designers started working with it because unlike other types of plastic, it doesn’t yellow over time. You might have seen iconic clear Lucite tables and chairs. Lucite can be tinted too and is a great vegan alternative to tortoiseshell and mother of pearl.

lucite bags

Many were embellished with glitter and metal clasps.

gilttery purses

These two were made to look like caramel squares.

caramel purses

Holding a Lucite bag made me want to change into a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, and kitten heels.

Jean and purse

mom and purse

black lucite purse

The boxy nature of the handbags made adding secret compartments an option. This one came with its own lipstick and powder!

purse with makeup compartment

From Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy, high-profile, fashion-minded women in the 50s carried Lucite purses. By the mid-60s, fashions started to change. A proper, ladylike look was replaced with a relaxed, boho vibe. Despite not being a common purse today, people still collect Lucite bags. They’re museum-worthy, but they’d make a great fashion statement.

lucite on the shelves

The handbags range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. In addition to Lucite, Deco Jewels carries vintage earrings, necklaces, cufflinks and other American goodies from the mid-20th century.

more lucite

The store is small, but not cluttered. And despite its size, you’ll find yourself enthralled for a long time.

rows of lucite

If you’re ever in New York, pop by Deco Jewels at 131 Thomson Street (btwn Houston & Prince).

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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

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Visiting Chelsea

During the recent New York trip I took with my parents, we visited the Chelsea neighborhood. We spent the morning in the Chelsea Market, a multi-story building that used to be occupied by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) commercial bakery. When production methods changes required a single-floor layout, the bakery moved out. It’s here, where the Oreo was first created.

Chelsea Market

Inside the market, we found One Lucky Duck. They offer all-vegan, raw organic juices and take-away, and happen to have amazing desserts. It’s part of the Pure Food and Wine establishment so you know you’re going to be wowed.

lemon bar

Next door, Beyond Sushi truly satisfied. This all plant-based sushi establishment incorporated flavor, color and presentation like no other sushi place I’ve seen. Their rolls were scrumptious and fueled us as well.

vegan sushi

I was thrilled to stumble into a pop-up shop in the market, where several vendors had set up their wares. One of them was designer Lois Eastlund.

Lois Eastlund

While I was trying on a dress, my mom and Lois struck up a conversation and they discovered they’re both vegan! Lois even shared some of her home-baked vegan cookies with us! (And yes, I bought that amazing blue and black zigzag dress.)

Lois and Jean

I liked the shop across from Lois’ store too. My mom was sweet enough to buy me one of their screen-printed tops.

screen printed wear

There’s more to Chelsea than just the market. One evening we met my friend Shannon, a recent New York transplant, at Blossom vegan restaurant.

Chelsea girls

We ate delicious food and even had authentic (and dairy-free) New York Cheesecake!

vegan cheesecake

Another Chelsea gem is the popular High Line, an elevated former rail line that was transformed into a greenway. The rail line used to bring animals into the city for slaughter. I prefer its use as a park!

Mom and Jean on the High Line

New York is such a fun place. Have you ever been to Chelsea?

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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?

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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!

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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!

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New York, New York!

I just got back from New York City! I had a fantastic time with my parents. We stayed in a condo in Harlem by night and explored the city by day. It truly is the city that never sleeps–and neither did we!

Jean, Dad, Mom

We visited quaint neighborhoods, modern museums, and delicious vegan restaurants. We walked through Central Park, shopped in Midtown, scavenged flea markets in Brooklyn, and met with friends who live in the city.

Jean in NYC

Looking through my pictures is a bit overwhelming; I’m not sure where to start! I have ideas for style posts, restaurant reviews, and I want to show you the art I saw (on the street and in galleries). I met business owners, friendly locals, and even had a celebrity sighting (or two).

Crossing the line

I’m inviting you to explore the city with me, virtually. I hope you have fun looking at the next set of posts, as I relive my trip to the Big Apple!

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