Monthly Archives: June 2010

Make Me Over: Apartment Edition

Slowly but surely my new apartment is taking shape. Furnishing and decorating is  far more time consuming and costly than I ever imagined possible, but each week things feel a little more settled. We also have a relatively small space that we’re working with, so that poses its own challenges as well. Here’s a shot of my bedroom before we moved in.

And here’s what it looks like now. We just got real shades up the other day so the paper ones are no more, but I’m still on the hunt for curtains. I’m happy with the bedding though — it’s fun enough that it doesn’t look like a Laura Ashley design but sophisticated enough that it doesn’t remind me of my college dorm room!

My new goal for this apartment is to keep clutter to a minimum. Laugh all you want… I know that this is the goal everyone has and then subsequently ignores. I’m really serious about it this time though. Clutter stresses me out and I don’t want it in my life! Especially when my life has to fit in a few hundred square feet. Instead of piling my things on top of my dresser, I found drawer space for ugly things like deodorant and contact cases. Instead, I keep a few pretty perfume bottles and a candle on this simple Liberty of London for Target tray.

Any good tips for keeping your place clutter-free?

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The Perfect Vista — Kamakura, Japan

Many Japanese have a fear of the ocean. You can’t blame them, really — the beaches are prone to some vicious rip tides that you don’t want to be caught in while wading. I was staying with a family in Tokyo during July, and it was sweltering. I planned a day trip to Kamakura, a beach town not far from the city, and I packed a bathing suit figuring that I’d use the opportunity to cool off. My host was horrified and begged me to stay out of the ocean. Reluctantly, I agreed to leave my suit at home and to enjoy the historic temples instead.

My last visit of the day was to the Hasedera Temple. Along the path to the wooden shrine at the top of the hill, you encounter hundreds of small human statues called jizo. These are considered to be the guardians of deceased children, responsible for carrying them to the afterlife. People often come to wash the statues and dress them in doll clothes, as if they were real children. Their presence is chilling — almost like hundreds of gravestones.

I wandered to the terrace at the top of the hill and bought a milk popsicle from a woman with a pushcart. With the sweet taste of the treat on my tongue, the salty smell in the air and the heavy humidity hanging around me, I took this picture of the beautiful, powerful Japanese ocean. I felt at once very small, but incredibly content.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.

Visit the competition home page and HomeAway for more information!

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Arepa Arepa!

I’m definitely one of those people who get obsessive over foods. I’ll try anything once, and I’ll come back for seconds, thirds and twentieths if I like it enough! A few years ago, my boyfriend and I tried arepas at a little Venezuelan restaurant in the city. An arepa is a small round corn cake that is grilled, sliced in half and filled with all kinds of delicious things! The corn cake is slightly crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside.  I love them stuffed with shredded beef and cheese, or with chicken salad and avocado. You just pick them up and eat them with your hands — simple and delicious!

My first attempt at making arepas was, in short, a disaster. I used the wrong kind of cornmeal, which ruined the entire recipe and resulted in a call for takeout that evening. It’s important that you use a precooked corn meal, usually called masarepa (I use the Goya brand). It’s more of a corn flour than a meal — it’s very fine unlike the grainy kind you use to make corn muffins.

I use this recipe for my arepas, although you can usually find a recipe on the back of the masarepa bag as well. Then just fill as you please! In the above example, I used shredded chicken mixed with a tiny bit of mayo, slices of fresh avocado and roasted red pepper. Yum!

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New York City’s Turtle Infestation

Something that I have always loved about living in New York are the times when you see something completely unexpected. It can be as simple as a beautiful arrangement of flowers around the base of a tree in the middle of a sidewalk or an incredible mural in an alleyway, or it can be a bit more bizarre — take my knack for finding turtles.

Ok, so they aren’t real turtles. But twice now I have discovered turtles sculptures in odd places. I found this guy inside a sewer grate a few years ago. I wish I remember exactly where it was, but I can’t! I think it was somewhere on a side street down in SoHo.

Then last week I was sort of wandering around my new neighborhood on the Upper West Side when I spotted this guy chained down in an alley! I’m not sure if the owners were worried that he would  be stolen or that he’d run away, but I wish I could take him home with me!

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