Springtime in Manhattan

A breathtaking lavender garden in Washington Square Park

People aren’t kidding when they say that there is nothing like New York in the springtime. Even for someone like me who’s been incredibly spoiled with the year-round Southern California weather, the spring in the city is truly something else!

After spending the first few days in cold rain and unfriendly wind, we were finally welcomed by the sun and its beautiful 75-degree ray, as if it were urging me and my colleague / friend H to get out of the office and take in the warmth on the lovely Friday afternoon. Never the ones to decline such tempting invitation from mother nature, we wrapped our day’s work a little early and headed over to Manhattan for a late lunch and a well-earned break!

The front of Purl SoHo on Broome Street

We took the C train from Brooklyn to Canal Street, a mere 10-minute ride, which landed us in the neighborhood of  SoHo. The primary mission today for me was to visit a lovely yarn and fabric store, Purl Soho, owned by Joelle Hoverson, the author of my favorite craft books, Last Minute Knitted Gifts and Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts. I had been dying to check this lovely store out, which recently moved to the new, larger location on Broome Street. While most people list famous landmarks like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Broadway shows as the must-sees in New York, I have Jacques Torres Chocolates in Brooklyn, Ronnybook Milk Bar in Chelsea Market (for the best yogurt in the world), and yes, Purl Soho, on my priority list. 😆

I actually visited Purl Soho already the day before. I made a beeline to the store right after work last night and spent an easy two hours browsing and salivating over colorful fabrics and luscious yarns from its robust collection. Although I came back to the hotel that night with a good sampling of fabrics, including a floral print from Liberty of London, I couldn’t stop thinking about the rest of the designs that I passed up. I was determined to return to the store to pick up a few items that I could not leave NY without having them in my possession! So there I was, back in this crafter’s dream, nearly passing out from the cuteness overload once again. Hoverson’s tastes in yarn and fabric selections are simply impeccable. She is the epitome of chic style, and I am so inspired by the vision and creativity she exudes in everything she does. I wish I can pluck this heavenly store and bring it back to Los Angeles.

The Color Wheel Quilt Bundle, 50+ different fabrics for the quilted color wheel featured in her patchwork book

The amazing Liberty print … it is so dreamy!

After I satisfied my textile needs, H and I walked over to the Greenwich Village and walked through NYU. We relaxed a little in Washington Square Park, which was lively with people enjoying the music and the sun, before heading over to Carrie’s Stoop (I wanted to show H the place since she’s also a fan of Sex and the City) and enjoyed Magnolia‘s cupcakes and an ice-cold drink at the park across the street (it looks like this is becoming my ritual when vising NY). What a perfect day to be outside!

The magnificent Washington Square Arch

The Central Fountain

The peek of the Empire State Building from the Arch

Carrie’s Stoop on Perry Street

If I lived in Manhattan, I might want to live in the Village or Soho.  These places are alive with such great energy and make me want to enjoy being in the present.  There were so many hidden gems in the neighborhood, including shops like Sabon and Soapology, which specialize in bath goods and offer natural handmade soaps.  I love that they cut a piece of soap for you at the store upon request. Needless to say, I came home with bag full of soaps to add to my soap collection at home!

Soapology in the Meatpacking District

Soapology soaps from top: Rose (pink), Lily of the Valley (white), Seaweed (green), Honeysuckle (light blue), Cucumber (dark blue)

Sabon in Greenwich Village — there are other locations all over New York, as well as Boston and Chicago

Sabon soaps: Lemon Mint, Rosemary, and Rose

The forecast tells us to expect rain over the weekend but that will definitely not stop me from exploring the city even more! It’s been a long and tiring week at work but an afternoon like this in the city makes all the hard work worth it.

I heart New York.  Oh, and my hotel room smells incredible now from all the soaps!  🙂

How Sweet It Is: Streets of Brooklyn

I love walking aimlessly, with no real destination in sight. I love getting lost in an unknown city and feeling the sense of jittery panic, not knowing which way to turn. (This, of course, only works in a bright daylight where one wrong turn can lead to an unexpected adventure, as opposed to a dangerous situation.) I think this is my way of compensating for my every day life where things are very much controlled and in predictable order. Sometime, I just like to let myself go and let the Universe decide my fate and destination. And what better place to walk aimlessly than on the streets of Brooklyn, where every turn is welcomed by contemporary beauty, nature, and timeless wonders?

So yes, I’m in Brooklyn now and this will be my home away from home for the next several weeks. I was here two weeks ago but didn’t have the chance to see the neighborhood much, other than the commute from the hotel to the office, so I am determined to take as much of the energy of this place as possible this time around. And speaking of the Universe doing its thing, it is funny that I’m here in New York because I’ve been thinking about wanting to come back to this magnificent city again for some time now but wasn’t sure how I would be able to juggle a vacation time with all the other business travels I had lined up … and here I am!

This morning, I woke up early to take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I wanted to see the view of Manhattan from the bridge and experience a little bit of the Miranda / Steve moment when they met halfway between the bridge in the first Sex And the City movie (one of my favorite scenes from the entire movie … I can’t watch this scene without crying .. and I can’t wait for the sequal that comes out next week).

After I walked across the bridge and waved to the Manhattan Bridge that stands parallel to its arching cousin, I came back around and headed to the neighborhood of DUMBO (which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), known for its emerging arts community. I was particularly interested in visiting DUMBO to experience Jacques Torres’ chocolates which had been in my “New York To-Do / Eat List” for years.

I’ve been an admirer of Jacques Torres for some time now. If I remember correctly, he was one of the first celebrity chefs to appear on Food Network when it first launched (when it actually showed low budget but very educational cooking shows as opposed to today’s more silly game show-type nonsense) and I used to salivate over the beautifully artistic chocolates and other sweets he created on a show simply titled, Chocolate with Jacques Torres. I admittedly got a mixed emotion when I saw Torres on an episode of Girls Next Door where he helped make chocolates molded out of very private parts of Holly, Bridget, and Kendra a few years ago but I like to think that he is a man with a great sense of humor!

The original shop (and the one I visited) is located on Water Street, between the two bridges in Brooklyn. The shop is small but cozy and dreamlike, with every chocolate treat imaginable packed in a tiny space. I walked out with bags of chocolate-covered  cork flakes and Cherrios (breakfast, anyone?) and a small cup of its famous hot chocolate.

Instead of the regular one, I tired Wicked, with hints of allspice, cinnamon, ground sweet ancho and chipotle chili peppers! The drink was very rich and flavorful and tasted like a liquid chocolate as opposed to the traditional hot chocolate we are accustomed to. I must say that the drink wasn’t as fire-ry and spicy or even as sugary as I expected to be, it was still very delicious and extremely satisfying. I’m glad to be able to check off an item from my culinary and New York to do list!

How sweet it is to be in Brooklyn, indeed!