Inktober Week 4: Why I Love New York

I finished my first Inktober! It was a rush to the finish. I’m very glad I got to think and draw about New York City all month, a place I love to live in, even though it’s not always on my side. Hello, stepping in dog poop on my block.

The main thing I learned from this all month draw-a-thon is that drawing fast, every day, is great in strengthening visual thinking and sketching. Even if every drawing didn’t come out exactly how I wanted it to at first, I felt my ability to get a drawn concept from mind to sketchbook getting easier with the daily practice.I’ve taken inspiration from this element of Inktober then, adding a reminder to my phone to draw every night. Maybe some days I won’t make it, but if I can, I know it will be a creative practice to keep.

Inktober Week 4: Why I Love New York
Corona Park for the World’s Fair Unisphere
Bodega Roses
Times Square (because it’s like turning the lights on in the middle of the night)
The Art Deco Chrysler building
Pigeons! They eat my crumbs even if I am afraid of them sometimes.
My metrocard.
Dim Sum in chinatown in Manhattan, Queens, AND Brooklyn.
Meeting by the clock at Grand Central.
And finally, all the wonderful, interesting, weird, and different people of New York City.

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NYC Pizza I’ve Known: Martina

Martina is a new fast Roman pizza place by the ever expanding Shake Shack crew. I eagerly awaited it’s arrival as both a budget New York dining and pizza aficionado.

To start, they have a fried risotto suppli and a lemony arugula salad. I love simple dressed salads, call me a boring lady, but it’s my favorite side dish to pizza. The pizzas here remind of Rome through and through: zucchini flowers, gooey mozzarella, spicy salami, and a cracker crust. Martina is a good mix of delicious and quick, a spot I can see myself stopping in before a cocktail date or post-movie in the neighorhood. True to the style, you can drink prosecco in plastic cups which is delightful.

Next time I’ve got to try the dessert of flor di latte soft serve gelato because it sounds amazing.

I love the illustration on the paper that lines their metal trays, of course.

198 East 11th Street
East Village, NYC

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Inktober Week 1: Why I Love New York

I’m drawing something I love about New York City every day in October for Inktober. Afterwards I think I’ll assemble the drawings, making some kind of interesting poster.

Drawing something until conclusion every day is harder than I thought but a goal I want for myself after this month is over.

Inktober Week 1: Why I Love New York
NYC Buildings
Walking over bridges
Slices of Pizza on the street
The subway
The skyline
Bodega cats

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Wild Bird Fund

A few blocks from my apartment is a peculiar storefront. In the windows are branches arranged in skeletal patterns. If you stop and look close enough at the windows, you’ll notice the common city pigeon and other smaller, migratory birds of unknown origin (to me) perching on branches, hiding in nooks.

At first I assumed this was some kind of exotic bird pet store, which always peeves me out a bit. I’m not a pet store fan. But to my surprise, it’s not a store at all, but a non-profit emergency room for birds!

The Wild Bird Fund rehabilitates the city’s avian wildlife from the city “garbage” pigeon to all the kinds of birds that have migrated to New York City for thousands of years. Our city’s built environment changes the life of birds though, from tall buildings to fly into to toxic trash to eat. That’s where the Wild Bird Fund comes in. People come from all the city bring birds to be rescued here, by a dedicated staff and volunteers. It’s the kind of hidden New York City institution that makes me have faith in the city, it’s people and it’s wildlife.

The Wild Bird Fund is donation run, doing the kind of unseen care that makes an ecosystem work. The Fund treats not only the city’s Pigeons but Owls, Red-Tail Hawks, Robins, Great Egrets, to name a few. I love when I see a large, strange bird ambling inside the storefront.

Wild Bird Fund
565 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
between 87th and 88th Streets


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Favorite New York City Coffee

I like to pretend I’m on vacation most weekends by treating myself to espressos. During the week it’s mostly french press at home or coffee cart dollar cups. But fancy coffee never tastes so good as when I’m lounging at 3pm in another neighborhood or just down the street on a Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a current list of my favorites for the season of back to school and back indoors. Now, if the New York City heat would finally leave.

My New York City Coffee Geography

Toby’s Third Estate because it’s a tiny spot with a hidden Strand.
Third Rail  for the Washington Square Park vibe.
Sweatshop for Aussie Williamsburg espresso.
Birch because of the cold brew I’d drink all year long.
Joe as a classic from back when I moved to New York.
9th Street Espresso for a real space to work and think with your espresso and milk.
Think because the old NYU undergrad heart only grows fonder!
Blue Bottle in Carroll Gardens since it’s got that South Brooklyn charm. Like, is this neighborhood even real?


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Day Trip: Croteaux Vineyard

Summer is over officially now! I made a list before the real summer started with a few goals. I made it to some of them: beach lounging, trips out of the city, sitting in parks, a baseball game, and so on.

One of the lucky day trips I made this summer was to visit Croteaux Vineyard on Long Island. It’s all the way out in Southold, in the North Fork area which is becoming a little bit of a hip destination, too. I was convinced by a group of wonderful former coworkers and the promise of a bagel breakfast on the longer LIRR train to make the expedition for the day.

Croteaux is a rose-only vineyard which I mean, come on, of course I was into that. We had a great time ambling to the vineyard on foot through the quaint town of Southold. We even came across a very old cemetery en route with pre-revolutionary graves.

Our group of four sat in the lovely vineyard garden, sipping flights of rose. It’s a great location to relax, with the right mix of rustic charm and green vines. I highly recommend the sparkling flight to taste the variety of roses as well as the cheese and bread basket to share.

While the town is walkable, even to the vineyard, we took a car back to the train. Next time I’d love to stay over night in North Fork to explore more of the charming area.

Croteaux Vineyard 
1450 S Harbor Rd,
Southold, NY 11971


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NYC Pizza’s I’ve Known: John’s on Bleeker

I’m on a pizza expedition around New York City, dedicated to trying it all, from fancy gastropub pies to grandma slices to dollar slices.

This past weekend I revisited one of the greats: John’s Pizzeria.

John’s is a classic, coal oven pizza place open since 1929 in the village. It’s one of the originals of the city, better than the others I think.

Sometimes you have to wait to get in, sometime you don’t. There are no slices. The walls have been scratched over the years from what seems like faux hooliganism, just people wanting to be part of a place well loved.

The inside is always a mix of locals and tourists. On this Saturday the table next to us was having a small family reunion dinner, with at least four pies surrounding their plates. I dreamed of that many pies.

The pizzas here are coal fired and quintessentially New York with a flat blackened crust, basic tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella. These are not your artfully constructed pies. The crust and dough won’t have you singing the praises of its tang, its sourdough ferment. The tomato flavor is bright but simple. I find it’s rustic, classic charred edges unpretentiously delicious.

I always go for a medium pie of mozzarella with fresh Italian sausage to split between two. If you’re especially hungry, a larger pie will do too.  You can get beer or wine or a salad but really, you’re here for the simple pie.

Eat in or take it to go, sitting by the Hudson or in closer Washington Square Park.

John’s Pizzeria
278 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014


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Saying Goodbye to Apartments

I’ve lived the longest on my own in the apartment building we’re about to leave in Brooklyn. It’s been almost four years in one building, crazily enough. Four years back in New York City. I’m happy to have been here and happy to move somewhere else, to buck the nostalgia people always cling to when leaving phases in life.

In my packing, I found this sketch from one of my 2015 sketchbooks. It was the year I decided to start making art again, not really caring why or how. I’m so glad I did because it brings me so much joy outside of the hot subway commute of working life in the city.

We brought both of these bookshelves to the basement a day or two ago. We found them first on the streets of Brookline when we were living in Boston. In the two apartments in this one building I kept the shelves organized about the same way in each. Funny how I repeat life patterns. It’s a bit freeing though to realize they’re old and musty, that we don’t have to keep just so many books.

Our super arranged the boxes upon boxes of books we got rid of into a free library in our laundry room basement. That made me a smile a bit and feel less like I was throwing away good reading material. My New York Times Cookbook was already snatched up by the time I returned to the basement. People are less interested in the literary and cultural theory textbooks with the used label I’ve kept way too long. Ah, ghosts of a liberal arts youth!

I’m keeping the vintage globe because a girl has got to keep some whimsy in her life, and the painting my mother did of a picture I took in France and the ye olde time looking radio. My terrarium died, of course. I’ve got no green thumb, but I’ll keep trying. I’m thinking: ferns!

I’m keeping books that have a sentimental value to me and letting go of the rest. Oh and my fruit bowl, that will live on. I love an apple a day.

I know I’ll be back to Brooklyn, maybe not to the exact spot I’ve lived in for four years, so I don’t feel any kind of fear of leaving. It’s easier to romanticize the past or the way things are than to embrace the change of the current and the future. I am so ready for getting older and moving on with whatever happens along the way.

Recently I told a last-year-of-teenage-dom teenager that every year we are dying so why fear change. She asked me if I was always 65 years old. The answer is yes, yes I have always been.

Here’s to moving back to Manhattan, where I haven’t lived since I was a college kid in 2007.

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