Better Late Than Never: 2016 NYC Holiday Window Displays



Whether you’re noshing on leftovers, watching Christmas Vacation again, or shopping the after-Christmas sales, we thought we’d help you eke out another ounce of holiday cheer with some pictures from the holiday window displays around New York City.  The amount of creative work that goes into the windows is always inspiring.  Making the pilgrimage has become one of our treasured holiday traditions, so we thought we’d share some of our favorites here. 

Here are some highlights from the same route we shared in last year’s post:

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Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Garden at the New York Botanical Garden



If you follow us on Instagram, you might have caught whiff that I’m heading on a trip to Japan.  My family lives half a world away so we try to meet up somewhere we can all have a fun vacation, and this year we agreed on Kyoto.  I’ll spare you the ugly details on how many WhatsApp messages it actually took for all of us to reach a consensus — we’re one of those weird families that’s not remotely alike.  (Truth be told, my older brother is still wishing we were headed to a beach.)  

The workaround with our diverse family usually involves large swaths of time in the schedule that are “open”.  During those periods we split up and do whatever our hearts desire.  I have no doubt I will spend many of my open slots dining solo: my family isn’t quite as food-obsessed as I am, and for God’s sake, I’ll be in Japan.  I’ll want to eat every fifteen minutes!  My parents will likely find themselves in many of the gardens Kyoto has to offer, as they have long been fans of horticulture.

Serendipitously, on a recent visit to the New York Botanical Garden, the exhibition that occupied the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory was NYBG’s annual Kiku exhibition.  (As an aside, the Victorian-style stunner is one of our favorite buildings.)

Kiku, which means chrysanthemum in Japanese, is a flower that has been long revered in Japanese culture.  Kiku has been said to embody the idea of perfection, and is also viewed as a symbol of the sun. It’s featured in the Imperial Seal and the Japanese emperor sits on the Chrysanthemum Throne.  The art of growing and training the flowers is a dying tradition in Japan, so the long-standing alliance between the New York Botanical Garden and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo has been mutually beneficial.  Shinjuku Gyoen trains NYBG staff so that the craft lives on and enjoys worldwide attention.



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Tourist for a Day: A Visit to Battery Park



Every once in awhile, Conde Nast Traveler or some other travel magazine will publish an article on “How To Not Look Like a Tourist”.  And without fail, it leads to a spirited discussion in the comments section and on social media.  It’s not difficult to understand this ambivalence towards tourists.  New York City received approximately 58 million visitors last year, and locals simply have to accept that it’s a part of city life.  Yes, you’ll encounter those five tourists who decide to walk side-by-side and take up an entire sidewalk. But 2014 statistics show that visitors generated a record $61.3 billion in overall economic impact, supporting 359,000 tourism related jobs and $21 billion in wages.

Personally, I’ve never shied away from the label and all its connotations.  So I get excited about visiting somewhere new.  And maybe I don’t look like I fit in.  Isn’t that part of the experience?  There’s a different energy buzzing inside you when you first embark on uncharted territory.  Your senses are heightened, ready to devour everything you encounter.  And so I shamelessly wander, camera in hand.  There are certain areas in New York City that feel like designated tourist spots which locals avoid like the plague, but I think it’s fun to visit them every now and then.  It can be invigorating to play tourist in your town, and we did just that recently at Battery Park.

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Brew at the Zoo: Halloween at the Bronx Zoo



You’re waiting on a crowded subway platform.  The MTA has announced service interruptions.  You’ve read the notices, and you’re pretty sure you know where you’re going.  So you wait.  And wait some more.  You peer down at your phone.  And pace.  Until rage begins to snake its way through your veins like morphine through an IV.  Twenty minutes passes, and you can feel that flicker of madness barreling toward you down the dark tunnel of your mind, when, finally, a train arrives.  Slowly, in a drunk’s lurching, stumbling, stagger, it draws to a screeching stop at the platform. The cars are packed, tight as sardines, a mass of arms and heads and hands.

You realize there is no room in the car in front of you.  The idea of waiting an unknown period of time for another train — with no promise of a better situation — sends you into a panic. In a frenzy, you run along the row of cars, searching for one with just enough room for you and your companion to fill a space.  You see it, and charge through the door just as it closes.  And in less than a second, the nauseating odor hits you.  Cue the music, then fade to black.  

“The Empty Car at the End of the Train” is just one of the many real-life horror movies New Yorkers can find themselves in.  (“Rent Hike” is another one.)  So what do people do in a city where scary stuff is a way of life?  They adopt Halloween as their holiday and celebrate the heck out of it.  We were scrolling through the endless list of parties and events around town when we stumbled across Brew at the Zoo.

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Scarecrows and Pumpkins at the New York Botanical Garden



In 2003, Lynn and I — as well as our motley crew of cats, Felix and Chloe — up and moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Scottsdale, Arizona on a whim. This radical decision was predicated upon a number of factors: we were incredibly weary of the long winters; we could no longer envision a future filled with opportunities in our professional lives; and there was a discernable feeling that we were in a rut, living out lives that seemed alarmingly predictable and comfortable given our relatively youthful ages. A malaise had set in, as well as a soul-crushing ennui. Something had to change. And so something did: we moved.

The next nine years of our lives were spent in Arizona. Unexpectedly, the change of scenery revealed more about what we’d left behind than what we’d discovered at our destination. In particular, we found a new appreciation for the finite change in seasons we’d previously taken for granted. Sure, there’s a “cooler” period in Arizona, but a mild drop in temperature a change of seasons does not make. Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder.

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Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade



When people find out how long Justin and I have been married, many of them inevitably ask if we have kids.  We do not.  I don’t bemoan that circumstance except for once a year: at Halloween.  Because of this.  I mean, come on.

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The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze



As far back as I can remember, there has been a special place in my heart reserved for Halloween. It’s so much more than a trivial holiday, and so much more than a fixed point on the calendar each year marking the change in seasons. Though I’ll confess: I’ve always loved the contradiction of the last gasps of a moribund summer lending to the the burgeoning intensity of a nascent fall.

For me, Halloween is a time of childlike wonder, creativity and imagination. It’s also a time for quick road trips and late evenings. There are apple orchards and pumpkin patches to visit. There are costume parties to attend. There are horror movies that I’ve added to my queue throughout the year, in anticipation of the perfectly curated scary movie marathon. And, of course, there is an overabundance of candy — at home, school, even the office. I mean, really, what’s not to like?

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New York Fashion Week: Tommy x Gigi



Most kids remember getting up early to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons while they noshed on their breakfast cereal of choice, but I remember eagerly anticipating Sunday mornings at 10 am, which is when Fashion File would come on in Malaysia.  I’d plop myself in front of the TV and watch as models strutted the runway in Versace, Lacroix and Gaultier.  To say the industry has evolved since then is quite the understatement!  Fashion has become more accessible than ever, and now addicts like myself can easily live stream runway shows, refresh social media feeds, or check blogs that are being updated every few minutes during major events like New York Fashion Week.

Designers have already had to increase the number of shows and reduce their production cycles to keep up with fast fashion retailers, but this year designers have kicked it up several notches, with “see now, buy now” being the catchphrase.  While most New York Fashion Week events are still not open to the public, this direct-to-consumer approach has reverberated throughout.  There has been a move to be more inclusive: retailers, beauty brands and even hotel chains are getting in on the action and hosting fun New York Fashion Week events that anyone can attend.  

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Outdoor Movie with Rooftop Cinema Club



I love movies. From the classics to the contemporaries, the small indies to the big blockbusters.  We’ve been pretty open about that here on the blog where we’ve covered a film festival (here), attended an opening week screening (here), or most recently, just waxed poetic about one of our favorite directors (here).  So when the weather warms up, it should come as no surprise that one of our favorite things to do is catch an outdoor movie screening.  

New Yorkers are fortunate that there are numerous free outdoor movie screenings offered in many of the city’s amazing parks throughout the summer.  You could watch The Omen at Bryant Park, Purple Rain at Hudson River Park, American Graffiti at Brooklyn Bridge Park or The Royal Tenenbaums at McCarren Park.  But we’re not the only ones who love movies in New York City, and we’re definitely not the only ones who love free activities.  City dwellers wait in anticipation for the schedules to be released at the beginning of the season and appear en masse for showtime.  In order to find a spot most of us have to turn up hours earlier, often with blankets and refreshments in tow.

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Summer Streets: A (Temporarily) Car-Free New York City



My love affair with New York City started out as a long-distance relationship filled with whirlwind visits, teary goodbyes and months of longing in between.  As my feelings for it grew deeper, the distance became unbearable and the decision to close the geographical gap became inevitable.  Once we were no longer apart, I endeavored to explore it more deeply, anxious to unearth all its secrets.  I was enthralled by its charms and blind to its flaws.  But alas, time is no friend to commitment.  Adorable quirks began to turn into grating annoyances.  Fortunately, New York City is a savvy lover: it realizes when it’s been too trying, too needy, too demanding.  So it does something special to remind you how great it is.  This past Saturday it pulled a little velvet box out of its pocket and gave me Summer Streets.

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