Staying Fresh on Bleeker St.

by Lullanotes on Sunday, October 20, 2013

We wandered into this pretty cosmetics and fragrance shop called 'Fresh' on Bleecker St. after indulging in Magnolia Bakery's cupcakes. There was a citrus fragrance emitting from the shop and it smelt all so lovely. It was again, by chance, that we found out that Fresh's makeup was used in the production of Sex and the City. I use Fresh's Lip Treatment myself and it was amazing. The lip treatment has a tinge of colour and it is uber moisturizing. I honestly have almost every colour in that collection except Sugar Petal and Cherry which are the new colours so I will be making my way down to get them soon! I bought them at Sephora in Singapore and Sephora has a section for Fresh products but seeing an entire shop in New York City is nice!

There's my friend at the counter paying for stuff.

The soaps are all prettily packaged.

Almost all the scents are amazing. I have Sake, Brown Sugar, citron de vigne and Hesperides. What pretty names!

Hesperides makes you smell like a grapefruit.

This is the Coral Lip Treatment which was a new colour at that time.

My favourite products in there are obviously the eau de parfum and the lip treatments. Some of the fragrances are also limited edition. I have a couple of travel-sized bottles that I take turns to bring around because I am obsessed with smelling good enough to eat.

To be honest, Fresh is a very dangerous shop. You start uncontrollably bringing things to the counter because they smell divine and you just want a piece of it. Evidently, other people feel the same. It has the hypnotizing effect of getting you to open up your wallet and extracting out a credit card ... and the next thing you'll remember is walking out of the shop with a giant paper bag.

388 Bleecker Street
between Perry St and West 11th St

Of Fish and Cupcakes

by Lullanotes

One of my friends staying in New York City recommended "Fish", a seafood restaurant on Bleecker St. So one afternoon, we made our way there with high expectations, hoping to get a good brunch out of crustaceans.

We ordered lobsters and crabs with chips but to our disappointment, the lobster was overcooked. While the crab was passable, the service staff had an unfriendly and impatient attitude despite the fact that the restaurant was not crowded so that put us off. Needless to say, we didn't enjoy our meal so we paid and left promptly. We were in New York City for a holiday and we didn't want to dwell in any kind of negativity so we didn't kick a fuss. We just wanted to get the hell out of there.

I found myself liking Bleecker St. There were rows of trees on both sides of the street, providing ample shade on a warm day and the street was lined with little shops with huge windows to peek into. Since we didn't have a big shopping budget to blow, we were mostly contented to just admire the jewelery and clothes on display. We did find some shops selling affordable jewelery and bought some to satisfy our vanity. At one of the road junctions, we came across a girl piping cupcakes so we just stood outside her window and stared at her. In retrospect, that must have been creepy and annoying for her.

Our sweet tooth directed us into the shop. After an unsatisfying meal, we needed to find solace in sweets. It was then I realized that we stumbled upon Magnolia Bakery, the very same one which saw Carrie and Miranda (in 'Sex and the City') sitting on a green bench outside the shop, eating frosted cupcakes and discussing Carrie's love life. This was an unexpected surprise and it is further testament to the fact that when Life gives you a bad Fish, find and eat Cupcakes.

Did you know ...?

Magnolia Bakery originally sold only vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream icing tinted pink. They were baked in the afternoons and iced at night when the bakery was officially closed. There would be many people (mostly guys heading to Christopher Street) walking by late at night and when Allysa, the co-owner, told them the bakery was closed, they would beg for just a cupcake. She obliged and thus the craze began.

T-shirts and shopping bags with their namesake are for sale.

They sell pastel-coloured sprinkles in jars!

Seeing these cupcakes cheer us up considerably.

The shop itself was pretty small and there was already a queue. People were snatching at freshly baked cupcakes the moment they were placed on the shelves. It is also known that sometimes the queue could result in a long line that winds its way round the block. Luckily the queue wasn't that ridiculous. We managed to buy 4 different types of cupcakes. There was a little park with green benches just opposite Magnolia Bakery and already, some seats were taken up by cupcake enthusiasts. We found a spot and sat down and dug into the cupcakes. The rich creaminess and sweetness of them made the day right again.

Magnolia Bakery was the only bakery we tried while we were in New York City so I wouldn't know how they fare in comparison to others but we were fans of Sex and the City. If Carrie and Miranda eat them, it's more than good enough for us.

401 Bleecker Street and W. 11th Street
New York

What's In My Carry-On Bag?

by Lullanotes on Thursday, October 17, 2013

I like to be prepared for everything, especially during long haul flights because I get bored very easily. I also feel very insecure when I don't have my essentials with me so I always made sure to pack my carry-on bag properly. It has everything!

1. Longchamp Le Pliage Tigre Large Tote ― With the amount of things I carry around, a lightweight and large bag is a must. It is crucial that the bag has a zip as well because I am klutzy and will somehow find a way to overturn everything. It is also very convenient to stash your bag under the seat as required by the airline.
2. Apple iPad Mini ― I load my 64GB baby up with TV series and movies. It also contains my subscriptions for National Geographic and Glamour magazines.
3. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ― I have a lot of ebooks and since the Paperwhite has background lighting, I can read it even in the dark. I also have the Royal Purple Leather Cover. The cover is pricey but fits extremely well and well worth the money!
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in White
5. Bose QuietComfort® 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones ― I tried out a pair The Boy lent me and I was sold! I had someone to help me buy them from an outlet in US because it is cheaper there. The ear sponges are soft on my ears and I won't get disturbed by crying babies and inconsiderate chatty people.
6. Apple iPad Nano 16GB in Pink ― They hold different genres of music according to my mood.
7. A pair of socks ― I wear sandals on flight and I keep a pair in my bag in case it gets really cold.
8. Two packs of tissue for when leaky nose strikes.
9. Charging cables for all sorts of gadgets.
10. Sony HX9V Camera
11. An empty waterbottle so I can fill it up at the boarding area.
12. A large warm scarf ― sometimes I use it as a head rest, sometimes it is freezing on the plane and I want to snuggle up to something.
13. Graphic Pouch ― This holds all my medicine and all sorts of knick knacks.
14. A pen to fill up any troublesome forms.
15. Wet Wipes ― for sticky situations.
16. Panadol ― in case of headaches or flu.
17. Vicks ― Once I was on a flight and I developed a sudden runny nose. I spent the next 3 hours in absolute torture with a leaky nose. Vicks keeps the nose together till you land.
18. Eclipse chewy mints ― keeps the breath fresh after a meal.
19. Rohto Lycee Eye Drops
20. Contact Lens
21. Kiehl's Face Moisturizer
22. Blistex Mint Lip Balm ― Come to think of it. I've used this for a long long time. Maybe 18 years!
23. The Body Shop's Blusher
24. M.A.C Studio Fix
25. Shiseido Facial Cleanser
26. Clinique's Chubby Sticks ― I have multiple sticks of these in different colours. I choose the colours based on my mood.
27. Nylon Make-Up Pouch
28. DKNY Sunglasses ― to hide unsightly dark cicles and stroll out of the airport like a superstar.
29. A miniature of Love Chloe's eau de parfum ― It smells like baby powder.
30. L'occitane Lavande Hand Cream ― I use lovely scents on airplane to keep myself feeling fresh and relaxed.
31. Salvatore Ferragamo Wallet ― my new love that I got on a 30% discount.
32. A bar of Chocolate ― I get a little low on sugar so that fixes me up.
33. Passport Holder ― I have this in Toile blue that I bought from a fleamarket. It can also be found here.
34. A small purse to keep foreign change in

#19: Shake It Up at Shake Shack

by Lullanotes on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In the 1000 things to do in New York City, having a burger at Shake Shack took the spot at #19. There are so many movies which had Shake Shack at Madison Square Park as the backdrop. Just recently, I spied it again in "Something Borrowed". We didn't go with the intention of specifically locating the outlet at Madison Square Park because we weren't too sure of our bearings and we didn't know if it was going to be out of the way. It initially stamped from a simple desire to try the burgers and see if they were as good as some claimed. However one night in a taxi ride, we swished past the Madison Square Park and lo behold! We knew we had to sit and eat at the green benches with its incredible outdoor setting.

Madison Square Park was where it all began. Shake Shack was born from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park created by Union Square Hospitality Group to support the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation “I ♥ Taxi.” The cart was a success and lines formed daily, so they re-opened for an additional two summers in 2002 and 2003. In July 2004, after being awarded the contract from New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation and the Madison Square Park Conservancy to create a permanent food kiosk in the park, Shake Shack officially opened.
Going in the afternoon would be nice but going at night was almost magical with its fairy lights. It almost felt romantic but would have been even more so had we been there with our better halves but hey, I was there with my two girlfriends and it in itself was gratifying. The queue was pretty long and it took a while before we got food but consuming the juicy burger, the cheesy fries and washing it down with milkshake was like a heart attack about to happen. Because I am a crap food blogger, I shall leave you with reviews from TripAdvisor.

Although it was good, just as how all sinful food taste like but if you are anything like me, you believe in the power of ambience and company too. One bite sends you to gastronomic heaven but the collective energy of the crowd dining together with you in an outdoor setting as such brings you straight back to Earth to cherish this very moment where you are far away from home, in the city that doesn't sleep, living a life you thought you could only experience when you hit "replay" on a DVD.

I leave you with a dreamy, bokeh picture of Shake Shack.

The Wise Man Has Spoken

by Lullanotes on Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It was the eve of a public holiday so The Boy and I headed to the airport at night to lounge. We stay in the eastern part of Singapore and the Singapore Changi airport is very accessible from both our homes by car. Let's face it. Singapore is miniscule. Everywhere is accessible when the traffic jam doesn't hit. Except it does and quite a lot, especially on the eve of a public holiday.

It is so very coincidental that McDonalds was crowded (or maybe not that coincidental since it is always crowded). We then wanted to make our way to Swensens even though in our heart we knew that the queue is just going to be as dismaying but who should come out from the Arrival Hall was one of The Boy's longtime friend. He is an air steward and had returned from a flight. For the sake of convenience, we shall call him Mr. Wise Man.

Mr. Wise Man agreed to join us for coffee and we started to talk about his travels and also about luxury items in which The Boy had no idea of. He did occasionally contribute by wrinkling his nose in disapproval. In our conversation, we started talking about our biggest ticket item. For me, it was my Prada Bauletto Bag in Saffiano leather. For Mr. Wise Man, it was his Cartier watch. For The Boy, if we exclude the car, apartment and gadgets, he doesn't really spend on any big ticket luxury items. Because the Prada bag for me, was an expensive purchase, I've only brought it out once and even then, I found myself coddling it by not doing what I usually do - which is to leave it on the floor and I examined it for invisible scratches ever so often. Mr. Wise Man said something that made sense.

You should own your things and not let your things own you.

If it should have scratches, so be it. Things are meant to be enjoyed and used. There is no point to owning something and then baby-ing it because then, the fear of using it and accidentally destroying it becomes too great. There is much truth in that. There is satisfaction in knowing that books get dogeared and wrinkled because I've read it over and over again. I love the creases in the leather bags I've often carried around because every little crease is an indication that it has been used and over time, the leather bags grew a character of their own.

My preciousssss ....

So this is what I am bringing away with me today from our little chat. Love your things but learn to enjoy them too.

Strawberry Fields Forever

by Lullanotes on Sunday, October 13, 2013

It was summer when we first stepped into New York last year. I was going to Toronto for a work trip and I persuaded a friend to come along with the lure of free accommodation. Because we already flew halfway around the world to be in Toronto, we decided to make a stop in New York as well. It sure was tough trying to find an open jaw flight that was reasonable but we managed it. We didn't exactly go with an itinerary in mind. We just knew from the top of our heads that we wanted to go to Times Square, Central Park, Macy's (yes it was an attraction), see the Statue of Liberty (my wish, not hers) etc.

Summer in New York is warm and not unlike Singapore minus the humidity. We trotted about in breezy dresses, capris or shorts almost anywhere that didn't require a proper dress code. To go to Central Park in that weather was perfect. Central Park is a public park right in the centre of Manhattan. We talked about buying a picnic basket, filling it with goodies and cheese and then going to Central Park to laze for a good part of the afternoon away but in the end we got lazy and just went without the said basket. Central Park, due to New York's good weather, was crowded .. and smelly. There were a lot of horse carriages lined up to be hired for rides so we shuffled along, hoping to find quieter spots. We came to the road junction of 72nd Street and Central Park West, I saw a pretty building and took a picture of it. Little did I know that that building turned out to be "The Dakota", famous for two things: its exclusivity and John Lennon. John Lennon was shot four times in the back just as he was entering The Dakota.

Because John Lennon and Yoko Ono loved being in Central Park, strolling and doing what lovers do, a 2.5 acre teardrop-shaped area of Central Park was sanctioned off in John Lennon's memory and his crusade for Peace. The entrance to this area is directly opposite The Dakota and named "Strawberry Fields" after one of The Beatles' song.

We ventured further in and managed to find a lovely shady spot and that's where we threw down our bags, took off our shoes and started lying on the grass, not believing that we actually made it to one of New York's most famous attractions. By a stroke of luck, we also found Le Pain Quotient, right next to the Sheep Meadow and that's where we bought crusty almond croissants, berry fruit tarts and iced lemon tea to feast on while we laid back on the grass to either watch the sky, read our Kindles or people watch.

Le Pain Quotient is a restaurant group founded in Brussels in 1990. Its Central Park outlet can be accessed from the entrance of the 69th Street and has been ranked as "one of the best things in New York City". It serves organic bread, vegan ice-cream and pre-packaged picnic boxes. You can check its opening hours here.

One couple sat pretty close to us and brought their puppy and the puppy was so fascinated with us (more precisely, our almond croissants) that he sat with us, good as gold, his head cocked to one side and his eyes soulfully staring at our bakery treats. We got permission from the owners to feed him and he must have ate an entire croissant on his own. An hour later, some Central Park guards appeared in the vicinity and upon seeing them, the couple scooped the puppy up, popped him into a Balenciaga carrier and made off. There are some rules about bringing your dog to Central Park so I guessed they just wanted to avoid trouble!

In the early part of the evening, tired from all the reading, we packed our shower curtain (which we used as a mat) and started walking around. We stopped for a good while to watch the rollerskating dancers and this is an event open to everyone I believe. They rollerskate to the music and some even carried their own sound system as they skated. It seemed like very good exercise to me, except that I am a complete douche at rollerskating.

Some of them are part of Central Park Dance Skaters Association (CPDSA)

Lovers ― boating on the lake, basking in summer warmth

Central Park is a lush green sanctuary in the middle of the busy Manhattan. You can walk into her leafy embrace away from the hustle and bustle of city life to find a spot of peace. If you think people who hang out at Central Park are just regular park-goers, you should go experience it for yourself. There are many colourful characters literally and metaphorically in Central Park and it is they who lent the vibrancy to "just another big park" otherwise that made it uniquely New York.

When you are in Central Park, it feels like a different place ― a place away from the city but yet still in the heart of it all.

1 Remember to pack a mat to sit on, if you do not fancy frolicking on the grass.
2 It is a good idea to first find out where the restroom locations in Central Park are before setting base at some deserted ground.
3 Find out what activities are going on in Central Park so that you can coincide your visit. There may be some orchestra performances.
4 Set aside a few hours at least to go through the motion of what New Yorkers do when they want to take a breather.

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