i ♥ new york - a black and white love affair

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I wish I lived in another New York. During a different era. I can't tell you exactly when that would be, as each decade has such a draw for me, and I can daydream about myself living a million different lives.

Today, as I walked through various waterfront areas of Brooklyn, I thought about all those hundreds and thousands of people that had lived here before me, that had stood where I was, taking in the dazzling view of those bridges, sky scrapers, all those lives across the water. Sitting on the brink of complete success and utter failure. Starry-eyed children, taking in that sprawling expanse of lines, angles, color, shadow, light, life.

What did they hoping for? And did they realize their dream? How much or how little had the sacrificed to just be here? What were they looking for? Something new, something different, adventure, love, fortune, fame? Did kids crawl out onto fire escapes at night, to watch those sparkling city lights, like I do now, no child, but dazzled nonetheless?

Is it possible to be nostalgic for something you never really knew? That was never yours?
Today, I just want to see this city through black and white photos, listening to beautiful old music.


Today's Soundtrack:
Glenn Miller - Moonlight Serenade.

And here's a whole other list of songs about this wonderful city.

ps: details about my fun day with Deb tomorrow - as soon as I make my way through the hundreds of photos! But here's a sneak peak. Oh, and another one!

a few things making me smile today...

Monday, August 18, 2008

On my walk to the subway the past few days I've noticed these ridiculously tall stems in a small flowerbed. I've been wondering about them every day - trying to figure out what they are - frankly, they just looked like some frighteningly overgrown weeds. But no! They're sunflowers! In Brooklyn! I mean, if that doesn't put you in a good mood for the day, I don't know what would!

And the day just kept getting better! I had a wonderful chat with the sweet Deb, from Bonbon Oiseau, and she's kindly agreed to let me take some photos of her jewelery! I am terribly excited about this, I think it will be really fun and interesting practice for me as well.
Then I came across this fantastic video, through Molly's blog. And it's just amazing. Watch it. Really. It's worth it. Go on! Click on that link!!!

Just before sunset (while shopping for dinner supplies) I took a quick detour to the waterfront to test out my Polaroid some more.

Yep. I still love it. Best $5 I've spent in a while.

And finally, I topped off the evening with a good friend, chatting about books, life, work, about moving somewhere new, great danes and chocolate squirladors. I hope you all had wonderful days, and I can't wait to see my sunflower again tomorrow...


Today's Soundtrack:
Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful Of Sunshine

i ♥ new york - second hand bookstores

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I took this photo with my brand-new-to-me, second hand Polaroid Colorpack II. I will post some more photos and details about this precious $5 addition to my camera family later on, but for now I am still experimenting with it and learning how to process the film so with the exception of the shot above and this one of my favorite view, I don't have anything quite good enough to post! Oh, but I am learning - and I am smitten!

New York City is full of wonderful places to score cheap, second hand books. I cannot walk by a thrift store, or a used bookstore without stopping and looking at their $1 pile - you never know what you can find! I love systematically going up and down the outdoor bookshelves at Strand, finding a book I've been looking for, or discovering something I hadn't heard of before. The Housing Works Used Books Cafe' in Soho is another great place to - with it's big, dark, wood bookshelves and the smell of old books, I could spend hours on a day off looking through what they have to offer. My favorite thrift store (where I've scored big many times before, including the aforementioned Polaroid camera) has a good and often changing selection of literature, so I always make sure to look at their new arrivals.

Sadly, my favorite neighborhood bookstore (pictured above) is going to be relocating to a tbd location sometime soon, but I do hope it's not too far. The staff is always friendly and willing to make a recommendation if you ask. And My best finds here were a couple of old copies of the Nancy Drew series, to add to the ones that belonged to my mother as a child.

Anyhow, all this just to say that it's been a good summer reading wise so far, so I thought I'd share a couple of titles with you. Most of the books off the list came from second hand stores, and a few were ordered via PaperBackSwap.com (thanks Elizabeth for introducing me to it!)

And here's what's still on my to-read list:

Do you have any good book recommendations for me? Have you read anything you really enjoyed this summer? I'd love to hear about it!


Today's Soundtrack:

Morcheeba - Rome Wasn't Built in A Day

giving the freezer a good workout

Thursday, August 14, 2008

edited to add: my wonderfully talented sister in law has also been on an ice-cream making tour de force. She mentioned she made the pistachio ice-cream from Lebovitz's book - and i think that might be next on my ice cream to do list!


Oh Summer. I can't get enough of you. Of your hot hot sun on my shoulders, of the sudden thunderstorms that leave me drenched but smiling, of the happiness you seem to soak into people's bones, of the beautiful light you spill out on everything in the late afternoon, early evening.. Please don't leave? Pretty please? I like your cousins, Fall and Spring, but I just can't get used to grumpy ol' Winter and I know he's getting closer with each passing day, with those icy cold fingers of his.
Well, we have at the very least one more long month of you around, so I am just going to enjoy it. In that spirit, I've been experimenting with some ice cream making and I thought I would share a few recipes with you guys. Both recipes here come from David Lebovitz's wonderful book "The Perfect Scoop" - and both yield about one pint of goodness.

The first one is a deliciously refreshing Fresh Mint Stracciatella - made by steeping a hefty amount of mint leaves in cream and milk. It is the most beautiful shade of pale emerald green and just so you get a sense of the amazing-ness of this ice-cream, the first word out of my very picky taste-tester's mouth were: "WOW", repeated, five times. With a pause between each one, to sneak another bite.

Credit must go to Jeremy and Tahirih (she might not be aware of this yet!) who kindly donated their hard-grown mint to our cause. Thanks folks! There is ice cream awaiting you - come on over!

Fresh Mint (Stracciatella) Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
2 packed cups (80gr) of fresh mint leaves
A pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
5 ounces of good semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream, and salt in a small saucepan. Add the mint leaves and stir until they're immersed in the liquid. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for one hour.
Strain the mint-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan (the milk will be a lovely shade of emerald). Press on the mint leaves to extract as much of the flavor as possible, then discard the mint leaves. Pour the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer on top.
Rewarm the mint-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mint liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

For the stracciatella
Melt the chocolate in a perfectly dry double boiler.

Just before you are done churning the ice cream, drizzle in the chocolate, in one thin constant stream. Or - layer the ice cream and drizzle chocolate between layers.
Next up, a healthier treat - blueberry frozen yogurt. If you are one of those people who like their frozen yogurt to taste like anything but yogurt, then this is not for you. But I love the tart tingle of it on my tongue (say that five times fast!) so I was satisfied! The original recipe calls for kirsch (a cherry liqueur) but I replaced it with pomegranate juice, and i think any kind of sour juice or extract will do.
Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon of pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a blender or food processor, blend together the yogurt, sugar, and blueberries. Press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds. (this sounds like a pain, but it was really easy and fast and totally worth it). Stir in the pomegranate and the lemon juice and chill in the fridge for one hour.
Freeze in your ice cream maker per their instructions.
P.S.: The Kitchn is giving away five copies of "The Perfect Scoop", so scoot on over there and enter their giveaway!


Today's Sountrack:
Belle and Sebastian - Summer Wasting

one step closer to owning our very own coffee shop

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It was only a matter of time before we took our coffee addiction (oh, yeah, because we do have a seriously bad, crippling, unshakable addiction) to a whole new level. And so we’ve started roasting our own coffee beans. Because it only makes sense to roast your own coffee, especially when you live in a typical nyc apartment, with basically zero ventilation. Right? Riiiiight.

The first batch was made straight in our little kitchen. Within a few minutes the whole house was full of smoke – the strong smell of rich, dark coffee beans permeating everything. The first few hours were blissful, soaking up the aroma, taking deep breaths and just dying to have an espresso. And then another. But after a few hours it became a bit much. For a while we worried Brookie would forever smell like she’d been sneaking around a Starbucks.

Still, making coffee with fresh roasted beans is life changing. I don’t think I can ever go back to using store bought beans – the flavor of the fresh roast is so smooth, strong and silky. Third day beans are now stale to me.
Since our first roast we’ve smartened up and have been roasting our beans by placing the roaster on the outside ledge of our kitchen window, usually at about 1 am, when we realize we are out of coffee and need beans for the next morning. Aren’t you terribly glad you aren’t our neighbors?

But if our neighbors do happen to get mad and complain, I know just what to do. We’ll invite them over, sit’em down, and win them over with the best cappuccino (or espresso, ice coffee, caffe’ shakerato, anything they want), accompanied by home baked biscotti, cupcakes, brownies, macaroons, cookies. And then they will say “Thank you, we love you, we are bored billionaires and would like to fund you to open a cute little coffee shop/bakery/bookstore.”

It would be such a cute place! Let me tell you - everyone would want to hang out there, order from the ever changing selection of cookies and tarts, coffees and teas, lounge in the incredibly comfy couches, access the free Wi-Fi connection, listen to the perfectly selected music, page through one of the thousands of books lining the walls. And best part? We’d make a killing, even if we offered free coffee and tea refills. There would be musical guests and book readings in the evenings, and we’d show old movies projected on the wall once a week. Heck, some fancy TV producer would chose to use us as a setting for this decade’s hit sit-com.

Oh, to dream. And to think it all started with a simple coffee roaster.
What do you dream of doing?


Today’s Soundtrack:

The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice

the photographic exercise

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Since March I have learned a lot about taking photos everyday.

Let me start by saying this: taking photos every day, twice a day, is NOT an easy task. I say this because, though it might be obvious to most people, when I embarked on this project and decided to make a year long commitment to it, I didn’t really know how hard it was going to be. I figured it would be… challenging, sure, but that’s a good thing, right? An exercise that would strain and strengthen my photographic muscle, forcing me to have my camera permanently attached to my hip, to be creative, to look at things in new ways, to actually take photos. And though it has been difficult at times, it has also been enormously rewarding in so many ways.

And yes, many, many times it has been infuriating. Often just 'ok'. Some lucky times, great. Every day is different. One day I will take over one hundred photos, and yet remain unsatisfied with the results. Other times, I will take only two or three shots, confident in my morning and evening selection. I will look up and know immediately that "that's what I am going to take a photo of and it is going to look just like this". Or I will rack my brains trying to find something worth photographing.

Some days I will become frustrated because I didn't take the photo slightly differently, because the part I thought was in focus is not, something is slightly out of frame, the balance is off, the lighting is weak. If only I had done, this or that or something different!

So many times everything just looks so boring. Because it is all the same. Same. Same. Same. Same. Same. Same. Same tree, same flowers, same graffiti, same walk, same shot, same brick wall, same angle, same subway, same person, same breakfast, same coffee, same elevator, same shoes, Same, Same, Same, Same. And I need to really push to snap out of that place.

I am grateful for a simple deviations from daily routine - a different walk home, a trip to a new place, dinner with friends, a party.

Often times though, I am surprised when something I've seen everyday is suddenly in front of me in a whole new light.

On days off, I love having all the time in the world to take a shot. To take my time, look at my subject from a different angle, stand on a chair, lay on the floor, look at it in a mirror, turn it around.

I rejoice at chances to be with people I love. They are smiling, they are having fun, I am having fun, they will play along.

Many days 11pm rolls around and I just need to make do with what I have. I'll try it in black and white. What if I rotate it? What if I crop that bit out?

Some days I just feel so limited! My skills are not able to follow to the place my imagination is leading me.

The worst feeling is the disappointment of believing I have something decent, and realizing nothing is really worth posting. And yet, I must post something, no matter what!

And so I have come to this fundamental realization: So what if not everyday is my best day? At least I am trying and all in all the experience is worth it.

All I need to remember is that we all have bad hair days.

$8 plus tax

Friday, August 8, 2008

It has become pretty standard for me to pop into our local thrift store at least once or twice a week. I never really go in looking for anything in particular, but you know, you never know what one can find! I've had my fair share of luck, finding fun odds and ends here and there, but nothing like what I stumbled upon earlier this week.
I was just about to leave the store empty handed when I noticed a jumbled up mess of ...stuff... in a basket. I looked closer and lo and behold it was a giant pile of old cameras, camera cases, lenses and bodies. I dived in looking for anything that might be useful and cheap (secretly wishing that I could locate a nice ol' flash), rummaging quickly, that familiar feeling of panic and excitement gurgling in the pit of my stomach, that urge to identify everything and not accidentally overlook some treasure while simultaneously throwing glances behind my back, hoping no one else notices this amazing pile of goodies and tries stake a claim on it. Because that happens. And it would be bad. Very bad.
Well, the gods were smiling on me, since I found two wonderful little lenses - both missing rear caps but in good conditions and cozy in their leather pouches.

First, a lovely 100mm, f/2.8 manual lens. It's a beauty on my D80 - despite the manual focus and a small scratch on the back.

And second, a 28mm, f/2.8 which at first I thought was also a Nikon (it had a Nikon UV filter on it) but turns out it's a AUTO Dujur (huh? even the googles can't help me on this one) but for some miracle it also work with my D80.

Totaly cost? Yeah, $8 plus tax. Not a bad day.

today's soundtrack - extended edition

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tonight, I'm listening to...

Blue October (feat. Imogene Heap) - Congratulations
Fatboy Slim - Praise You
Jovanotti - L'Ombelico del Mondo
The Strokes - Under Control
Keane - Everybody's Changing
Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
Antonio Carlos Jobim - Girl From Ipanema
Travis - Love will come through
Joshua Radin - Everything Will Be Alright
Cat Stevens - I've got a thing about seeing my grandson grow old
Paolo Conte - Via Con Me
The Cardigans - Lovefool (I can't remember the last time I listened to this song!)


What are you listening to?