Ten Things You Should Do In New York City

New York skyline

Having just got back from an awesome week in New York seeing my parents and hanging out with Al, I was thinking about the ten things I would rave about to anyone planning a trip. As this was my eighth holiday there (and you don’t need anyone else telling you to go up the Empire State) here are my thoughts on cool things to do. Anymore recommendations? I’d love to know your top ten.

Al cycling

1 – Cycle Central Park.

NYC has finally caught up and hit themselves with some Boris Bikes (or Citi Bikes, whatevs). I am nowhere near brave enough to bike down Fifth Ave but there is a cycle path going all around Central Park and it is a gorgeous way to see the park with different parts opening up to you on every turn. Just remember that the top bit near Harlem is pretty hilly and also that you have to cycle in an anti-clockwise direction.

IMG-20130917-WA0003

2 – Get tipsy in the Brooklyn Brewery

The Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg does tours throughout the week (which you can get a ticket for from here) but head over on a Sunday for free tours at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and get five beer tokens for $20. The brewery serves drafts of beers that you can’t get anywhere else and there is a chilled, Sunday atmosphere -  you can even order in your own pizza. And legendary vintage shop Beacon’s Closet is just across the road.

20130908_1600243 - Forget the diet

Ok, this goes without saying but seriously, deactivate My Fitness Pal and hit Sweet Chick in Williamsburg for the best fried chicken of your life served with fluffy, buttery waffles. Sounds crazy but it works. Oh and their Bloody Mary has home-cured bacon in it. Amazing.

photo

4 – Chelsea Market for great eats

Chelsea Market is like a fancy Borough market with loads of artisan food vendors (including the cute Eleni’s Cookies for tasty gifts) and an hour or two can easily fly by here. There is also a cute outpost of gorgeous jewelry makers Brooklyn Charm here too if you’re after a custom necklace.

photo

5 – Walk the High Line

When you’re done with Chelsea Market, climb the stairs around the corner to get on the High Line. What was once a disused railtrack has been turned into a pedestrian walkway with art installations along the way (East London’s finest Gilbert & George were on display there at the time). Weaving in between the apartment buildings is a cool and different way to see the west side of Manhattan.

20130909_141458

6 – Tour the New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is gorgeous and free to visit (rare in NYC) and is full of beautiful artworks. The ceiling of the Rose Reading Room is incredible and on our visit we saw a fascinating exhibition on the importance of children’s literature. The actual original Winnie the Pooh and friends were there! I almost cried. A must see.

photo(1)

7 – Walk the Brooklyn Bridge at night

Of course, walking across Brooklyn Bridge is on everyone’s list but do it at night! Get the subway across to Brooklyn, have dinner somewhere cute and then walk towards Manhattan with everything lit up.

greenwich bar

8 – Bar crawl in Greenwich Village

Last summer, my brother, his girlfriend and me went for (what turned into) a boozy night out in Greenwich Village. After dinner, wander from bar to bar to hear jazz and blues bands playing for tips and a two drink minimum. There are the big clubs like the Blue Note but these are a lot pricier. Plus the down-at-heel bar we went to was entirely decorated with shrines to Obama and Christmas lights, and who doesn’t love that?

9 – Avoid regular chain stores

I don’t really get why people travel to the other side of a major ocean to go to shops that exist in England. Also, I’m gonna throw this out there, NYC is nowhere near as good for shopping as London as the Americans just don’t really get the concept of high street (and the Brits are the best at it). My only go-to store in New York (other than certain vintage/thrift shops) is anyone of the numerous Sephora shops there which are the best for makeup and nail varnish – including brands you don’t get in England – and the service is really good. And the amazing Fifth Avenue Christmas windows (above) are always worth seeing.

photo(2)

10 – Take it easy in Bryant Park

I love Bryant Park. In the summer you can lounge around in the sun while in the winter time there is a gorgeous Christmas tree and a lovely market. You can even play ping pong there. What’s not to love? Also, the public toilets there are incredible! I’m talking classic music, fresh flowers, marble….I never thought I would rave about a public loo but it’s rather impressive.

Photos by myself or Al. Greenwich bar shot from Rachel.

DIY: Homemade frozen yoghurt

Frozen yoghurt is one of those amazing, heaven-sent gifts that is both delicious and relatively healthy (like dark chocolate, which is way high in iron, anaemics). At Hackney Wicked festival a few weeks back me and Al shared this heap of fro yo heaven from Moto Yogo who claim to make the best in the Spooniverse in their little carts and they may be right. (You can book them for events too – wouldn’t this be awesome at a wedding?!)

al fro yo

Anyhoo, this week I find myself with loads of leftover raspberry coulis (as one does) as I really did not need to make that much for a few panna cottas (thanks, Simon Rimmer). So I thought – let’s make raspberry frozen yoghurt!

Based on the info I found on t’internets, it’s best to strain your Greek yoghurt first to get rid of any excess liquid. I used Tesco’s own low fat yoghurt and a fine sieve.20130828_122222

Then mix up your coulis with your yoghurt and a few spoons of honey. If you do not happen to have lots of raspberry coulis (and why would you?) you can stir in whatever fruits you like but **TOP TIP** freeze the fruits first as this will help them to set. Also, if you are using whole frozen fruits you may need a blender/food processor if you are not The Hulk and have super strong arms.

20130828_123822

Put in a tub and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Keep an eye on it. You don’t want it to turn into a block of ice. However you don’t need to keep stirring it like you do when making sorbet or ice cream.

When you’re ready to eat, take it out for a few minutes before serving. And enjoy! Safe in the knowledge that it’s basically health food. Unless you top it with a smashed up Kinder Bueno and honeycomb like us (whoops).

image

Daytrip to Liverpool

Liverpool is a great city for a sneaky weekend away and while it might be more famous for pop and perms (as well as the frightening development of The Scouse Brow ) it also has some really cool galleries that are well worth a peek.

The Open Eye Gallery is the only gallery dedicated to photography in the north west and is split over two floors. Small but perfectly formed, there are some interesting exhibitions coming up there including the works of late, great Liverpool photographer Tim Hetherington of soldiers in Afghanistan.

20130824_115305

Outside the Museum of Liverpool (which is a lovely modern building and has some fascinating exhibitions on the slave trade) are these gorgeous little fellas - Super Lambanas!

image

As well as being cute and cheery, they tell the tale of Liverpool’s history as the first international city – importing bananas from the Caribbean and exporting wool from Lancashire.  I think they are gorgeous.

Superlambanana

Just around the corner at the famous docks is Tate Liverpool, which means I have finally been to all the Tates (Liverpool, St Ives, Britain, Modern) yay! Like all the Tates, it is beautifully designed and is full of treats. LOVE these floating frames in the middle of the room.

imageThe exhibitions are organised as “constellations” with certain pieces, say by Man Ray or Jackson Pollock, acting as “trigger” pieces to set off a constellation of inspiration and more beautiful works. Very clever, very cool.

tate chandelier

It’s not all culture though. We did some classic Liverpool tricks too by watching Everton not score a goal, having shots in my fav northern cheapy chain Baa Bar and we even saw Brookie heart throb Tinhead on the train home. Amazing scenes!

 

This Weekend…

Just a few days until I head to NYC to see my parents, eat too much food and wander around one of my favourite cities – I can’t wait. This weekend for me will be relaxed with some packing but also lots of yummy food with a sushi party at a friend’s house plus a trip to the awesome Street Feast up in my old neighbourhood Dalston. Whatever you do, stay gold.

imageOther cool stuff…

* LOVE this article on the difference between the US and the UK (and I agree – you order wine by the BOTTLE, America)

* Wardrobe organisation by fashion editors. Genius

* Borderline obsessed with the kitchen in Nicole’s house (from Making It Lovely)

* You know how I really want a drinks trolley? Well this amazing do-up makes me want it more.

* Have you signed up for iTunes festival tickets ballot? Fingers crossed for Chic, Lady Gaga and Elton.

* The most gorgeous brogues

* If you’re after a great read, I really can’t recommend Where’d You Go Bernadette? enough.

Image from my Instagram feed @rachaelgormley

DIY: Disco Nails

imageNail art is so fun and cheers me up whenever I’m tapping away at my computer. Wah Nails up in Dalston are the queens of awesome and following them on Instagram is a great feed of colourful inspiration. This is their basketweave nail pattern which – with a steady hand – is easy and fun to DIY at home.

First paint your nails a base colour – I went for Models Own Gold Rush and let it dry properly.

Then using a nail pen – I used Models Own Nail Art Pen in Black – drawn a diagonal line across your nail. Then do one or two below it parrallel, depending on how much room you have. Then do diagonal lines in the other direction below drawing horizontal lines across the top. Here is a terrible Paint image to demonstrate.
nail diy disco nails

I think this would also look good in different colourways – maybe deep blue with white? Or navy with white stripes for a nautical look?

Lovely salads

Salads are so often the miserable forgotten sister at barbeques. Which is crazy because they can boost your picnic or bbq to something really fancy and yummy. At the weekend me and Al had a bbq for the bank holiday. He was in charge of the meat and I was left to do salads (hello gender stereotyping!). Anyway…have you seen that episode of Friends where Monica puts Phoebe in charge of cups and ice? I had that in mind…

Potato salad is a bbq staple but it’s good to mix it up a bit. I’m really pleased with how this recipe from Good Food worked out. The sherry vinegar in the dressing makes it.

image

Jamie Oliver’s chickpea salad was also a hit. I just put the one chili in it (I think Jamie likes chili more than the average person) and left out the feta cheese as one of our guests was vegan and that would just be MEAN.

image

These two will definitely be whipped up again and I think they would be great for picnics/daytrips as they keep really well in containers too and the dressings deepen with time. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Netflix is taking over my life

It’s a growing problem across the nation. There is too much good telly being made and you can totally binge watch an entire series in a weekend. And let’s be honest, this is so much worse when you’re in a relationship and justify being gross and nailing 13 episodes of Dexter together as “a date” even though neither of you have showered.

My latest addiction is Orange is the New Black. Have you seen it? It is sooooooo good.

Image

Basically this girl here, Piper (played by Taylor Schilling) has surrendered to a prison sentence after her involvements with her ex-girlfriend’s drug importing ten years ago catches up with her. Her fella, played by American Pie’s Jason Biggs, is waiting for her on the outside and there are some hilarious bits where outside, affluent New York life is spliced with life inside.

Also, blast from the past, whatsherface from That 70′s Show plays her ex. Who has incredible eyebrows. I mean, really. Them’s some great eyebrows.

Image

It is so worth a watch. What else should I be watching at the mo? Any other good recommendations? Cos, you know, date night is coming,

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend

Hooray for a three day weekender. Hope you all have fabulous fun and rest up too. Autumn is just around the corner so soak up the sun!

20130823-163223.jpg
Here are some bits that caught my eye this week. Ps how great is this Beatles photo?

A fascinating look at the age of denial

Avoid Oxford Street this weekend and hit the Asos sale, it’s really bloody good. And this skirt is perfect for my NYC trip

Talking of NYC, me and Al are touring the Brooklyn Brewery. Yay for beer!

This quiz makes me wonder if I would pass my GCSEs nowadays (for the record I was a massive nerd when I was sixteen and had the added pressure of joining the elite alumni – ie Richard Ashcroft – of this college)

The other famous son of Wigan, ukelele-strumming legend George Formby, is being celebrated in a show at the Hackney Empire August 31

And this weekend if you like cute pooches and charity (and if you don’t, take a long hard look at yourself and your life choices) head to the Paw Pageant at Spitafields. Awwwww factor plus pennies for Battersea.

Colour block bookcase

Recently I’ve been on a massive decluttering spree as, all being well, I will move house and north of the river soon. Plus I am totally addicted to all those hoarder shows and do not want to end up surrounded by old Metros and a collection of crap-o-la.

Part of the decluttering was around my bookcase which was full of rubbish, hiding all the loveliness beneath. Now I know some peeps probably have their books organised by alphabet or genre (or maybe chronological in a very High Fidelity way) but I think sorting by colour looks super cute.

20130823-161905.jpg

What do you think?

20130823-162117.jpg

And check out these bookcase beauties for inspiration.

20130823-160643.jpg

Via Design*Sponge, this is a very cool DIY project

20130823-160802.jpg

20130823-160910.jpg

Love this dome library, via Freshome

20130823-161029.jpg

For do-able diys, you can’t beat the awesome Jenny at Little Green Notebook