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New York Photo Diary – Part 1

New York

New York, New York….

The food. The art. The iconic yellow cab. And although it’s been over a month since I went to New York, the memory is still fresh in my head. And here it is, friends, highlights from my birthday, honeymoon, and Christmas trip combined to the Big Apple, part 1.

Manhattan Island

Manhattan Island 

A tiny rant on time zones

21-hour flight, one transfer and two ‘special’ security checks later we landed in the afternoon on the same day we left Sydney.

Honestly, it kind of sucks being behind everybody else. The 16-hour time difference really made me think about the whole fuss with time zone and its significance. Do we have to have time zones? Is it really necessary? I mean, from a physics perspective, there IS only one time! I think the world will be a much simpler place if we just use one time. Why we can’t follow a universal time system? China for one has abolished time zones despite it geography being in five different time zones. Of course, things might be a little bit awkward at first but I’m sure we’d be able to adjust to it with time, and I think the benefits would outweigh the initial confusion. Anyway, moving on.

New York Street

Taking it all in..

The Empire State of Mind (see video above to see what I’m talking about) plays in my head every now and then, whenever I see a landmark, the ‘I heart New York’ tees, the big apple on red Applebee’s sign. I’ve always wondered what it’s like, and now I’m finally here!

New York Street

Where’re All The Apples?

A fun fact – did you know that New York’s nickname “Big Apple” has nothing to do with the state’s apple production?

It was popularised by John J. Fitz Gerald, a newspaper reporter back in 1920 who uses this catchphrase in his horseracing column, “Around the Big Apple.” And then in the 1970s, the nickname “Big Apple” was picked up by the New York City’s official marketing and tourism organisation and well…the rest is history.

I was surprised to see the Trump Tower smack bang in the middle of 5th Avenue. I only noticed it because there was a security station built on the side of the building, which is an odd thing to find next to an apartment.

New York Street

I did a little digging and it turns out that they have extra security guarding the building because Mr Trump stays here whenever he’s in New York.  And according to Fortune, this extra security costs about $308,000 per day. Hmm…

Christmas in NYC

The best thing about spending Christmas in New York is that firstly, the city is not dead on Christmas day! This is very exciting for me because, in Sydney, the 25th December often feels a bit like one of those cities in Walking Dead – all the shops are closed and the only thing you see walking around the city are zombies…or Asians.

The second best thing about celebrating Christmas in New York is seeing all the beautiful Christmas decoration adorning the buildings. I especially love the Christmas wreath. I have never seen a real wreath in before. Not one made with real pine cones and Christmas berries anyway. I kept on touching them because I couldn’t believe they were real.

New York - Passionately Keren

In front of a gorgeous Christmas wreath outside The Frick Museum

How amazing do they look?

New York - Passionately Keren

Church stairs decorations

Gorgeous wreaths in New York's apartment building

More gorgeous wreaths. I really love how bright the red bow is, especially against the white wall of the building.

What the Shrub?!

On my second of third day, I noticed these unusual shrubs I kept coming across along the street of New York.

At first, I thought they were fake because honestly, they look too good to be real. I mean, look at them in their bright green colour, covered with snow in freezing temperature, looking very ‘fresh’.  Surely they’re fake… I thought to myself.

Junipers plants

But as I walk, I see more and more of these shrubs… And started thinking, man what’s with all these fake plants?. But then I thought again, maybe.. they are real?

So at my next encounter with this weird looking shrub, I stopped, bent over and pulled one of the branches closes to me.

Ermahgerd…, they’re REAL!

Junipers plants

This is exactly why I love travelling. Finding out amazing things about the world that I know very little of.

I did some googling when I got back to Sydney and it appears that the shrubs I saw were some sort Junipers plants. I’m talking about those deep green spiky things surrounded by the beautiful Holly plants (the one with yellow-green leaves and bright red berries). They are part of the Conifers group (plants with those distinct needle-like leaves), ancient as the dinosaurs, resilient as hell, mostly evergreen (retaining their foliage and retains their colour throughout the year, despite the seasons), and can live for a very long time (the world oldest plants are all conifers). Now that is a very impressive plant resume if I ever see one.

NBA game New York

Christmas Day Basketball Game

Did I mention how lively Christmas day is in New York? They even have a Christmas day NBA game!

NBA Game

We went to it was so much fun. The crowd atmosphere was buzzing and everyone was so into it! The Knicks fan were chanting “defense, defense’, whenever the Knicks were pushed to their own side, and since we were in New York, I thought it was apt for me to side with them, so I joined along. Here’s what they sound like if you’ve never heard of them.

Unfortunately, the New York Knicks lost the game that day….and every other game they played during our time in New York…

City view from Central Park

Around the City

New York - Passionately Keren

Ice Skating in Central Park

 

New York street cart's pretzel

Street cart’s pretzel

Top of the rock

View from Top Of The Rock

 

Central Park Squirrel

Up close with the Central Park’s Squirrel

NYC Subway

New York Subway

The Amazing New York Sax Buskers

Okay, let me tell you about the New York Sax buskers.

They are THE BEST.

New York Subway Sax Busker  

It’s hard to explain, you really need to experience it yourself (check out this Youtube playlist so you can see what I’m talking about). The experience was truly mesmerising for me. The atmosphere, the music, and how it all just makes the world feels a little better, a little nicer.

NYC Sax Busker

A girl dancing to a sax busker on the street – I totally regretted not recording this one. The beat was so good you just want to move.

Sometimes, all you need is love, and music….

In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new

Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York,….

Keren x

10 Functional Christmas Gift Ideas

 

I’m not good with buying gifts. In fact I’m pretty awful at it. If you’ve had the misfortune of having me as your secret Santa, expect a box of chocolates, because that’s what I often give to people. But everyone likes chocolate, right? So maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

The thing is, I want my gifts to be functional, useful, and potentially… good looking. This is why I always buy chocolates. Because you can eat them, they give you pleasure and energy, and they look good. Don’t you think?

But, I’m putting a bit more effort this year. No more chocolates. (Except if you really absolutely want chocolates). Instead, I’ve found some really cool things to stuff the Christmas stockings and I thought I should share them with you.

So here are my 10 functional gift ideas for Christmas to help you this silly season.

1. Tile Mate

Coming first is the Tile Mate. A stylish and highly functional gift, Tile Mate is perfect for those who tend to lose their stuff (e.g. me). You can easily place it on any hook, loop, or strap. You can even get one to stick onto any item you don’t want to lose. Simply use the app on your phone to play a sound when you can’t find the item, or check its last known location. The best thing is, you can also use it to find your phone when that’s the item missing.

2. Sticky i-Phone case

Image from Pocket-lint.com

Second is the sticky i-phone case from Mega Tiny Corp. It makes a cool gift for any i-Phone-fan. It allows you to stick your phone to surfaces so you can do fun stuff with it like reading a recipe while you cook, or perhaps, when taking a selfie :D

3. Glass straws

Plastic straws are so yesterday. Glass straws are where it’s at. These straws are not only stylish, but they are also great for the environment. Also, there’s something about the smooth glass surface that makes drinking from them so much more pleasurable.

4. Yummy teas

Coming fourth is a selection of unique blend of premium teas for your tea-lover friends, all of which I have tried and liked. Such as the Christmas spice organic tea blend from Ovvio, the riveting blue coloured Crystal tea from Life of Cha, or the Ginger latte blend from Beyond Latte (made by yours truly).

5. A winged jug

I added this one because, seriously, who wouldn’t want a winged jug for Christmas? It is beautiful and highly functional. It’s perfect for wine, juice or cocktails. I found this exquisite piece at Glass by Emma Klau and it is aptly named “Take Flight Jug”.

6. Personalised jewellery

 

 

Almost every girl I know wanted to own that Sex in The City Carrie-style necklace at one point in her life. There’s nothing like seeing your name engraved on a piece of precious metal, at least that’s what I think. My mum gave me a ‘Keren’ necklace when I was 12 and I still cherish it to this day. How is it functional? Well, you won’t have to have your name spelled incorrectly at Starbucks, that’s for one. And this gorgeous little necklace is from Belle Fever.

7. A round Yoga Mat

Because everyone who yoga wants a round Yoga mat (even though they say they don’t). Seriously, how cool is this mat? It may be slightly impractical to take to a group class but it’s perfect for home use. I particularly like the mandala print mats, such as this one over at Camel Rock Yoga.

8. Adult Colouring book

You may laugh, but this stuff has been scientifically proven to calm and relax the mind. I think we all take ourselves too seriously and that we need a bit more play in our lives. Some of the adult colouring books are so beautiful that they, in itself, are art Like the Secret Garden Colouring book by Johanna Basford.

9. A Nutri Ninja

A Christmas gift doesn’t get more functional than this. This is perfect for anyone who wants to jump on the smoothie band-wagon and improve their health. I actually got a Nutri Ninja myself this Christmas to complement my Vitamix. It’s very handy when you’re only blending for one, or making small quantity sauces, etc.

10. A Service Voucher From You

Yep, that’s right. Dedicate a service as a gift to you friends! It could be something simple like washing their car, walking their dog, or giving me a massage as a Christmas present. It’s personal, memorable, and the best part is, it’s free. And if you’re looking for other Christmas gifts ideas that won’t cost you a cent, check out this post.

What would be the perfect functional Christmas gift for you? Let me know in the comment box below.

Keren x