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Scenic Clinton, New Jersey

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Family and friends, Travel | 0 comments

This weekend, we continued to visit places and towns near us that we have never been to before. Part of the motivation for us is that we want to be outdoors exploring while the weather is still nice. Last winter was simply brutal and by season’s end, we were raging to be outside after what seems like months of eternal hibernation.

We went to the town of Clinton yesterday. Richard actually discovered this quaint little town over the summer while the girls and I were still in France. The town is absolutely charming with mom and pop stores in the town center, reminiscent of what life was like before all the big store chains took over shopping centers.

The town is known for the picturesque Red Mill, which was used to produce many things before like wool. It’s situated right next to the Raritan River and comes alive around Halloween where there are haunted visits inside and outside the building.

Also, next to the river is the Hunterdon Art Museum, another old mill. The museum kicked off their fall season yesterday and we got a chance to see some interesting works by local artists, such as Giovanna Cecchetti and Garth Johnson. The museum space is small enough that the girls were able to see some art with us without getting bored or impatient.

We finished our visit to the town with lunch at the River View restaurant right next to the river where we watched ducks in the water and a couple of men fly fish. With a gorgeous day like yesterday, we could not help but just revel in the moment and put the worries of homework, work and the week ahead in the back burner.

Hope you had a great weekend!

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A Glimpse of the New World Trade Center and A Couple Of House/Office Tours

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Interiors | 0 comments

Last week, I, along with my friend, Lara, got a chance to visit the new 7 World Trade Center and some interesting living and work spaces at an event hosted by Cadillac and Architectural Digest magazine. It was not a blogger-sponsored event; I supposed Cadillac got my name because I fit in some demographic profile that they see as their target consumer.

I was fascinated with what the invite said about the day’s agenda. The theme of the event is called “Driven by Design” and it tried to make a connection between Cadillac’s focus on design and the various home/office destinations’ aesthetic sensibilities.

Just a caveat — I used my iPhone camera for these pictures. I really wanted to just enjoy this experience and did not want to lug my bulky camera around. So I apologize if some of the photos are not the best quality.

Our first stop was at 7 World Trade Center, one of the buildings damaged in the 9-11 attacks. From the top floor, we had the view of the 9-11 Memorial Pools. It felt a bit strange to be there and look at the site. Like many in the New York area, I have countless of bittersweet memories of the World Trade Center before the attacks. And it still felt surreal to be there last Thursday, a week after the 13th anniversary.

Michael Arad, the architect who designed the memorial, kicked off the event with a speech explaining his design and ideas for reconstructing Ground Zero. His calm demeanor and soft-spoken manner does not give away the challenges and frustrations that came his way prior to building the memorial. I liked that he shared with us his personal memories of the attack and how these led to his initial designs.

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The following stop was a gorgeous townhouse in Chelsea that was designed by Stephen Fanuka, aka HGTV’s “Million Dollar Contractor.” Fanuka was actually there to give us a guided tour of the house and it was quite neat to see an 1860′s house gutted and converted into something pretty modern.

Some of the windows in the houses are Optimum windows, which had a noise-reducing feature that made you feel like you are miles away from the city. The top office space, which is a new addition to the house and my favorite, has these large noise-reducing windows. It’s flanked by a small balcony with outdoor tables and a hot tub. Just in case one needs a little break…

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The other stop was the Neuehouse in the Flatiron district. Neuehouse is a pretty unique concept…think of it as an open office space that one (often a creative) can rent with the perks of movie screenings and gallery exhibits all under one roof. I like how the open setup encourages for collaborative work between members who may come from different disciplines, media to graphic design to record producing. It made me feel nostalgic for those days when I still worked in the city.

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neuehouse1 Image via here

It was a great day to visit some new and unique spaces in the city. I guess that’s what I love about New York — you just never know what lies behind each townhouse door or office space. It’s all a mystery from the outside and sometimes behind some nondescript door lies a design jewel.

Of Babes and Art

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Art, Family and friends | 4 comments

The weekend was hectic but satisfying. We got to spend lots of time with friends and loved ones most of the weekend. The girls were at a friends’ party until 9PM on Friday. I had about half an hour to myself as Richard went to pick up the girls when I thought to myself that life would pretty much be like this in about five years when Chiara will be in high school and Ines will be in middle school. The last 10 years or so were consumed by doing things with them and for them that it feels weird when their growing independence starts showing and you don’t need to do as many things for them anymore.

On Saturday, I became a godmother to a lovely, sweet little girl. Like many, I tend to forget how small and fragile babies are when they are first born. But holding my dear goddaughter during her baptism felt right. The nurturing instinct came back right away. The girls were happy to see our dear friends’ little ones. It was quite a hoot to see them walk the streets of Manhattan, all holding hands and pretty much taking up the whole sidewalk.

On Sunday, we went to Grounds for Sculpture in Southern New Jersey. Similar to Storm King, the space features plenty of sculptures in an outdoor setting. We had a blast looking at some abstract art as well as bigger-than-life sculptures that portray snippets of Americana.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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The Language of Houses

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Interiors, Lifestyle | 0 comments

It was not until I was much older that I realized how much aesthetics and architecture impacted me. It’s probably true for most of us. I also noticed as I got older how I hate clutter and the accumulation of too many things (that is, except shoes and books) and how much I appreciate beauty and design in the most mundane things.

Well, I am glad that there’s a book right now that dwells on this type of topic. The Language of Houses: How Buildings Speak to Us by Alison Lurie talks about the societal impacts of architecture. She discusses things like the differences between private and public school buildings and how various architectural aspects affect students’ self-image and perception. She also compares Victorian houses where windows were often covered up to today’s houses with big windows, often with no coverings, and attributes this change to the relative openness in our culture today.

I have a pretty lengthy list of books to read right now.  However, I am definitely adding this one to my night table for those cold, long fall and winter nights!  Don’t you just love books that make you think?

Have a great weekend!  See you here next week…

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Image via here

Old Friends

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Family and friends | 3 comments

Seeing old friends from your past… It’s similar to the feel of a warm woolen sweater on a crisp fall morning like the one we have today — comforting, soothing, a “chicken soup for the soul” type of experience.

This weekend, I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon with college friends, Joan and Michael. We rarely see each other these days, maybe once or twice a year. But what I love about our friendships is that even if we’ve made very different life choices and lead such different lives, we always manage to find common ground and find something to laugh about and discuss passionately.

I love that I share some history with these friends and how they can call my bluff without any hesitation. For instance, at our lunch, I shared with Joan and Michael some of Ines’ antics. Then, I made a comment about how Ines must have gotten those traits from Richard.

I loved the look on their faces when I made this comment. Unfazed yet with a hint of smile, they both said, “Do you remember what you were like when you were younger?” None of my more recent friends would ever have that frame of reference. Many would not even dare make that comment.

So here’s to keeping old friends in our lives. We need to make sure that we treasure these friends and make time for them despite our crazy schedules. These friends are not only the key to our past, a window to the old selves that we may have forgotten, but are also essential to our future as we evolve into our more mature selves.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Our Saturday luncheon