29 February 2012

Please Don't Rain on my Parade

One thing about springtime in New York is that it rains. Quite frequently, too. In fact, the weather patterns were so consistent one spring that it rained every Monday, and no other day.

Today marks not only a leap year (yippee!), but the first rainy day of spring. Like many other kids I know, I find myself avoiding contact with the outside world when it rains. I'm sure you feel this way too, and combined with precipitation-induced drowsiness, the only place I want to be is in bed. But no more, friends! No more.

This spring, I vow to embrace the rainy days that put us all in a gloom. On days that it rains, I shall not stay sheltered from the demeaning water drops plummeting their way toward me aiming for ideal splashdown atop my head. I promise to jump in puddles, catch raindrops in my mouth, and break out in song.

So take the vow with me: No more sullen days of isolation this spring! Enjoy the rain while it lasts because before we all know it, summer will be in full swing and New York will be stifling and sticky.

Until next time,

28 February 2012

S fishing in the Y

Remember those fantastic plans you concocted to make your fabulous dreams come true? Then reality sucker punches you in the face to let you know it'll never happen. Sucks, right? Well in Yemen, a quite admirable sheikh proposes a grand project to introduce salmon to the area.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a fantastic movie. It is heartwarming, uplifting, stimulating, inspiring, and is simple fantastic. It may be one of the best movies I've seen in quite a while and I think it has a fair chance at next year's awards nominations.

Based on a novel written by Paul Torday, fishing expert Fred Jones is approached by consultant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot regarding a shiekh's vision of bringing salmon to Yemen. Initially, of course, Fred tosses it aside and considers it a preposterous venture that is theoretically possible, but fundamentally improbable. However, Secretary of the Press Bridget Maxwell discovers the story and thinks it may be the key to ameliorate Anglo-Yemeni relations. She encourages the progress of the project, and soon, Mr. Jones and Ms. Chatwode-Talbot find themselves in Yemen figuring out the probability of the survival of the salmon. Over time, they develop faith in their venture with the sheikh and the improbable becomes very much possible.

If there's one thing you should take from this, it's this: GO SEE THE MOVIE. You'll love it, I know you will.

Until next time,

[UPDATE] Hey Kids! Here are several links to FREE New York screenings to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. One is tomorrow, March 7 and there is another on March 8. Go!
March 7, 6:30PM
March 8, 7PM

27 February 2012

Hello, Spring!

The official first day of spring is March 23rd, according to astronomy. But no one really follows that, right? Here in New York, as soon as the temperatures peak 50 degrees, we pull out our shorts and sandals.

Well now that spring is here, we can stay out later to have more fun, no? So what are your plans this spring? Here's my list of spring things:

  • Visit the CFDA exhibit at the Museum at FIT
  • Go to at least one MOMA Art Underground night
  • Catch the midnight screening of The Hunger Games
  • Scour flea markets for awesome vintage finds 
  • Bike along the Cross Island Parkway
  • Visit Governor's Island and rent a bike
  • Take a spin class or two
  • Kayak in the Hudson
  • Eat brunch outdoors under the sun
  • Picnic on the Highline
  • Enjoy a movie or two at the Tribeca Film Festival
Well, that's what I'll be trying to accomplish this spring. What's on your list? Do tell!

Until next time,

The Observant Eye, Part 2: A Unique Amalgamate of Everything


Enter William Randolf Hearst, media mogul. Aside from the Hearst Corporation (which is also housed by a fantastic structure on 8th ave), one of Hearst's greatest legacies is his grandiose castle in San Simeon, California which sits atop 270,000 acres of land. Put yourself in his shoes: you are a mega-millionaire and the castle you commissioned has been completed. What's the first thing you do? You furnish it, of course!

Hearst had a great love for art and spent his extravagant fortune collecting art and even restoring various castles in Europe. Over the course of many years, he amassed a vast and diverse collection of artworks. One of the many pieces he collected during his lifetime is the ceiling now displayed at the Met.

Upon his death, the ceiling was found in pieces in the basement of the Hearst castle. Hearst hired a restoration team to correct it and modify it to fit one of the many rooms in the castle. However, after its restoration, the ceiling was never installed. Thus, it remained in pieces in the basement collecting dust. Unfortunate, no?

The Met began to show great interest in the ceiling only several years ago despite the acquisition in the 50s. Experts found a great number of discrepancies in the ceiling upon analysis, thus leading them to conclude that not all of the ceiling was original (which led them to discover Hearst's restoration). The ceiling they acquired was made of two different types of wood, a high quality pine found in Europe and another cheaper wood. The first restoration team ended up adding a good percentage of new material to the ceiling. They used acrylic paint, unlike the original paint from azurite, and much of the new patternwork was asymmetrical and random.

What's so fascinating about this ceiling is the questions it comes with. Are there people in Spain who can build ceilings like these anymore? How much is the ceiling valued at? Why wasn't it installed in the Hearst castle? Where was is supposed to be installed in the castle? Why did Hearst fancy the structure so much? Although many questions that have arisen haven't been able to be answered, it still leaves an air of mystery to the structure. Thus, I strongly urge you to take a trip to the Met and visit it. It really is a masterpiece.

Until nest time,

26 February 2012

Sarah's Key

Book #10

Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key is one hell of a novel. Upon its inception, I never would have realized how emotional it really is. It's a heartbreaking story set in Paris on the rue de Saintonge where two families become connected by one event. It begins with the Vel d'Hiv, a historic day marking the roundup of Jewish families in France by French police during the second world war. 60 years later, Julia Jarmond sets out to learn more about it for an article but ends up tangled in the story of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. Jarmond is eager to find out what really happened to her when she discovers that Sarah never made it to Auschwitz. de Rosnay complements Jarmond's quest with Sarah's tale in 1942 Paris. Their two stories meet at a particular occasion that completely changes the lives of everyone involved.

Sarah's Key is chock-full of edge-of-your seat chapters that make you want to read as much as you can to further yourself in the dual journey. While on her quest, Jarmond also faces the ups and downs of family life with a husband who no longer loves her and a daughter who proves to be much more capable than everyone thinks.

This was such a great read although I did find it rather dull in the beginning. I'm quite glad that I chose to continue the book though, because Julia's journey is thrilling to follow and soon, you want to find out more just as much as Julia does. So go to the bookstore or the library and pick up a copy. You won't regret it.

Find out more about Sarah's Key on GoodReads

Happy Reading!
Until next time,

25 February 2012

I Hope You Can Tolerate Corduroy

Book # 9

In David Sedaris' memoir Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, he shares his life story in the way he knows best- through humor. Sedaris takes pieces of his life that may seem quite normal, say a job selling drinks, but retells it to reveal an underlying layer of adsurdity. Although mockery may be the last form through which one would express their fondness, Sedaris' love for his siblings and parents is truly prevalent.

Corduroy and denim are the last two words you could ever associate with his family. Sure, the Sedaris family can seem quite normal on the outside, but we find that 'peculiar' may be better fitting. I mean really, his brother trained his dog to eat shit! That could be a whole other book on its own.

Anyone with a sense of humor and a willingness to laugh is welcome to read this book. Read it and read it over again, because you won't be able to stop laughing at the end.

Find this book on GoodReads

Until next time,

The Observant Eye

Enter the Met's new $40 million Islamic art exhibit. Hang right and proceed until you reach a grand textile occupying the center of a large room. Then look up.

Today I was one of a handful of people to engage in an exclusive observatory session regarding a magnificent work of art. The event was one of a series called "The Observant Eye" in which museum guests spend an hour or so discussing a specific item in one of the Met's many exhibits. This event was particularly special because it was only available to Mount Holyoke alumni, which myself and my mother were not. However, we are extremely lucky to be acquainted with a fabulous alum who is also a great Girl Scout leader and friend. Now, back to the picture.

Looking up at the ceiling, you notice a magnificent beauty staring you back in the face. Its intricate gilded patternwork asks you why you didn't notice it in the first place. Upon reflection, you probably never would have realized it was there if you weren't directed to notice it. It doesn't have a name to refer to, so I'll just call it the 'ceiling.'


This piece is originally from 16th century Spain but was donated to the Met by the Hearst Foundation in 1956. However, it has only been available for viewing since November of last year when the exhibit opened its doors after reconstruction. In fact, the room was built specifically for this ceiling which has a rather fascinating history.


First, a little background information. This piece represents the Mudejar style from northern regions in Spain  where ceilings like these were most typically found in churches. In traditional Islamic art, figures were not reproduced because organisms (including animals) were not believed to be worthy enough to be depicted alongside deities. However, the border that runs around the ceiling is of flora and fauna which reflects that it was added at a later period than the main portion.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and a story that makes this ceiling truly one of a kind...

For more information, pictures, and the such, click here to be directed to the museum website.

Until next time,

24 February 2012

Leave a Novel, Take a Novel

John Locke (a fantastic name, btw) has a graduate's degree in architecture from Columbia University and has worked at the prestigious, nearly godly, architecture firm SOM. He created a sort of public library system that's located in rather odd places: New York City telephone booths.


For many of us New Yorkers, using the now-obsolete telephone booths is comparable to biological warfare. Even touching the chrome (yuck!) caked in graffiti, not to mention trillions of foreign bacterium, forewarns death. However, Locke is striving to convert the strongly ingrained apprehension toward the telephone booths.

He installed brightly colored shelving units in several booths encouraging readers to exchange books for other readers. You can leave as many books as you like, but social principles dictate that you only take one at a time. I wonder if he got the idea from OWS protesters who would contribute their literature to a communal library. If anything, there's one thing that OWS and the telephone booths have in common: they both present feelings of disgust. Now, I'm not against the OWS movement, but Zucotti Park had a rancid stench that would have made you shudder.

These brightly colored units not only stand out in a crowd, but make the booths seem a tad more approachable. They certainly pop a bit of color into dreary weather and may even lead to heightened usage of the telephones (but lets not get ahead of ourselves).

I appreciate Locke's efforts, but his system would only work in an ideal society. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong place and time. Face it, what are the chances that within a month the entire collection of books will be claimed by homeless people? It's too bad that reality has to come and slap us all in the face. But these libraries suggest that there's a glimmer of hope in creating a kinder, friendlier, less paranoid New York, no?

Until next time,

23 February 2012

A Slice of Wisdom

"When one door closes, another one opens; but we look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the ones open before us"
Alexander Graham Bell

If ever I had to impart a single piece of advice to anyone, it'd be to accept the past and move on to achieve bigger and better things. The past is the past, so do yourself a favor and look forward to a fantastic future. Be confident, be courageous, and express your character.

Until next time,

The Jimmy Fallon Experience (not so late at night, too)

(cue applause)

J: Welcome to The Julia Musings where I endorse Jimmy Fallon, beloved American funny man and host of his own late night talk show. And for those of you who are wondering, I'm not being paid by NBC to say good (or bad) things about the darling comedian.

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the taping of 'Late Night' with a couple of friends and it was a fantastic experience. This seems like an extremely covert secret among producers and the like, but truth be told, 'Late Night' doesn't actually take place late at night. (cue melodramatic gasp) It's more like evening; 5:00 to be exact. In fact, it doesn't even air at night! Every day, Fallon's show graces the televisions of Americans at 12:37 AM into the wee hours of the morning. (cue even more melodramatic gasp- if at all possible)

Aside from the secrets of the television industry, tonight's guests included William Shatner promoting his one-man Broadway show, Padma Lakshmi the beautiful host of cooking show Top Chef, the cast of the revival of Anything Goes featuring Sutton Foster, and Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad of The Book of Mormon. Any theatre buffs or pretty much anyone who follows the news may have noticed that the majority of the guests hail from Broadway (no, not the street). Well to confirm your suspicions, it's Broadway Week at NBC which, unfortunately, does not entitle half-off tickets to popular shows (darn!).

Guest appearances were accompanied by the Roots band and a performance of Pearl Jam performed by the one and only JFallon. What I loved most was perceiving everyone on the show as actual human beings. That's right, I said it. They're not robots or puppets, and they're not missing any organs unlike the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Seeing Jimmy in his natural surroundings was a breath of fresh air as his sense of humour echoed upon the audience.

This was such a great experience and has well earned the hours and hours that we spent waiting and waiting.  But at the end, who cares how long we waited! The tickets were free and each audience member left with a CD of the Anything Goes soundtrack. Not to mention we all had the chance to be on TV and, oh yeah, see the hilarious Jimmy Fallon.

Until next time,

F21 is stepping up their game! ...or not

One of my greatest weaknesses is definitely saving money. No matter how much I try, I find myself spending most or all of it on, well, even I don't know. Hence, late night online shopping...

I found myself on the Forever 21 website despite my large aversion towards the polyester superstore, and guess what I found?

That's right, folks! Faux-leather shorts. Of course, they're out of stock... maybe because this may actually be their first attempt at being fashion-forward. Then and there, I figured that maybe, just maybe, F21 is finally noting down next season's trends. All of which, of course, don't include graphic tribal shirts with those dangly bead things on the hem. Who comes up with those things?!

Much to my surprise, I discovered an "Exclusive Design" line that could possibly resemble effort to create some decent designs. But they pulled one on me! It was their same  mediocre stuff with, admittedly, several decent pieces. Then i spotted this...

oh lordy.

Now to add fuel to the fire, I present to you, Forever 21's single most dreadful styling attempt yet:

I didn't know their styling goals included making street walkers look good.

So there you have it! Concluding opinion: F21 hasn't changed at all. It'll try to, but mistakes like the one above will have the reverse effect on their company image. Sorry, polyester superstore. Try again next season. 

Until next time, 

Crazy Eyes

Just spotted this number and fell head over heels for it! It makes my insides melt and my eyes go crazy! I really cannot get over it... Absolutely love the subtle mermaid tail and the all-over lace. Looks too good to be true.

Max Azria, I applaud you! A job well done.

Until next time,

22 February 2012

You and Me, We're Going Moonwalking with Einstein

Book #8

What would you think if someone told you that memory is expandable? Or if you could go from remembering an average 7 things at a given time to an impressive 18? Would you believe that person? Well Joshua Foer proves that these statements are true in his memoir Moonwalking with Einstein. In it, he retells his journey from freelance writer to 2006 US Memory Champion in only a year.

I found the book utterly fascinating, to say the least. At its inception, I was looking forward to reading a full recap of Foer's training and was slightly disappointed to find less than a fraction of what I was hoping for. Nevertheless, he makes up for it by including chapters about the world's best and worst memories, as well as chapters about two incredibly talented savants. From these chapters, I definitely finished the book knowing a lot more substantial information about memory and mnemonics. However, Foer does teach you the mnemonics he uses to win the championship. My house (and first memory palace) is now characterized by Ed's to-do list in Chapter 5.

This book is a great read and I highly recommend it to those of you fascinated by the human mind or anyone trying to join KL7.

Check out this book on GoodReads

Happy Reading!
Until next time,

20 February 2012

Downton Abbey Dance Club

The ladies of Downton Abbey... in a dance club?! In Marie Claire's December issue, the female stars posed for a shot in a setting we'd never imagine them to be. You can't even recognize them sans arm-length gloves and demure costumes. Can you identify all the stars? 

Feast your eyes on the rest of the cast out of costume here. Just a warning: some characters are completely unrecognizable in real life!

Until next time, 

Mary and Matthew are finally together!

Unlike the young whippersnappers of this day and age, I've grown extremely fond of Masterpiece Classic's Downton Abbey, especially Mary and Matthew's turbulent relationship. If anything, I've spent the past two seasons wishing for them to finally get together and alas, the joyous day is upon us!

Reflecting back, it only took the death of Matthew's fiance, Mary's riddance of Carlisle, WWI, Spanish flu, Matthew's battle wounds and near paralysis, and the turn of an era to finally get the two together. Fellowes, you better not let anything else come between them!

Now my heart can finally be at ease as we all endure an anxious year until seeing them again in the fall. :)

Until next time,

19 February 2012

Wear What You Want, and Don't Be Afraid To.

In this world, there will always be people who criticize you. No matter what you do, or what you don't, there will always be someone against you. But you know what? That's okay.

Currently Recently featured on the Yahoo! news feed [yes, I'll admit that I check it once in a while] was Nicki Minaj's recent outfit on a talk show appearance. No, she wasn't donning an ensemble made out of pins or even an eccentric headpiece. This time, she wore a Mondrian-inspired colorblock body-con dress. Okay, but what's so special about that? That's the thing. It was't special. Actually, it's from the global retailer Forever 21. Teens  across the globe know what I'm referring to. Forever 21: any teenage girl's fashion megastore where 100% of all the clothes for sale are 100% polyester. Well guess what? Who cares?! I'll admit that I occasionally make purchases there even though I think it's a polyester superstore.

My point is, no matter how much the clothes off your back cost, wear them proudly. If it looks nice and it catches your eye, buy it. Don't be an obnoxious snob who only buys designer clothing just to own it and show it off.

Be your own fashionista! Wear what you want, and wear it with pride. Who cares what other people will think? You don't! Just because you don't have the same style as Anna Wintour doesn't mean you're not stylish.

Be a trendsetter! When people see what you're wearing and discover that they like your sense of style, you'll be the model they refer to!Trends come and go, but your job is to stay true to your sense of style.

In a nutshell, WEAR WHAT YOU WANT, AND DON'T BE AFRAID TO (apologies for the implied yelling). So go ahead, pull out those denim overalls! Now is not the time to be afraid of that leopard bodysuit. Wear it with a toothy smile and empowering confidence. Just please, oh please, don't pair it with a giraffe print.

Until next time,

17 February 2012

Book # 7

Last night I finally finished reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I have to say, it was a really great story even though there wasn't a happy ending. The novel explores the relationship between two girls living in nineteenth-century China who formed a sacred bond when they were children. Narrated from the perspective of the main character Lily, the audience follows her as she grows up, marries, and births children along with Snow Flower. At 7 years old, the two girls become laotong (old-sames), a bond that is more precious than marriage and can never be severed. Their match is defined by the 8 characters that include the same month of birth in the same year, the same number of brothers and sisters, as well as the same day the two girls began the footbinding process. However, one of the 8 characters does not match: social status.

16 February 2012

Fashion Week Faves

Last Thursday, two of my favorite times of the year coincided: Restaurant Week and Fashion Week. That day I enjoyed a lovely French meal at Sel & Poivre in the Upper East Side that is also highly recommended [by me!]. Otherwise, it was also the first official day of Fashion Week [yay!]. Now that the last day of Fashion Week has come, here are a couple of my favorite collections:

Jason Wu
Recently releasing a new spring collection in collaboration with Target [which was a hit! and is now sold out everywhere], JWu directed a fantastic production for his fall collection. This season, he gives a dramatic nod to his Chinese heritage, even returning to his birthplace Taiwan to conduct research. Chinese elements are prevalent throughout the collection in the form of brocade, the color red, and even ponytails bound with tape.

(c/o Fashionologie)

11 February 2012

#NYFW for all

Once again, it's fashion week in New York and everyone's buzzing with excitement [my phone is especially off the hook from the abundance of tweets]! This is my tribute to the designers, editors, bloggers, models, and of course, the fashionistas who give fashion volume. Without your beautiful minds, we'd all be wearing bias-cut potato sacks.

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of CFDA, [Council of Fashion Designers in America] and with this momentous occasion was the opening of the new IMPACT: 50 years of CFDA exhibit at the Museum at FIT. I'll definitely be popping in to take a peek at the marvelous workings of fashion's last 50 years. There are about 100 garments and accessories from CFDA's most impactful designers, hence the 'IMPACT' title. I'm pretty stoked about the exhibit and definitely won't delay my visit.

10 February 2012


For some odd reason I just started craving Sriracha sauce. You know, the mildly sweet, super spicy red Thai sauce?

But then I remembered the last time I had it...
I added it to my pasta [with tomato sauce of course, I'm not that crazy] but when I tasted it, the spice was fairly mild so I ended up dumping a whole lot more into my bowl. The next minute, I'm running water into my mouth like there's no tomorrow. Imagine a crazy chick fanning her mouth with crazy eyes and panting like a 300-pound person after a marathon. That's right.

Never again.

A Transition Pt. 2: Restaurant Week

This is my second post on "Chronicles of a Berry Tart" which is about Restaurant Week although it ends tomorrow :( 

Restaurant Week 2012

First, a ‘thank you’ to the finest city of them all.
As some of you jaded New Yorkers may know, Restaurant Week is in full swing. This year in honor of its 20th anniversary, it will be 20 days long! That’s 20 days of lunch and dinner at super-fancy high class restaurants for a reduced price. Now of course, a week isn’t actually 20 days long and Restaurant Week doesn’t actually last for a week. Maybe it did when it first started, but I certainly appreciate its lengthened time span. It started several days ago (Jan. 16th) but it will continue until February 10th! That should be plenty of time to visit every participating restaurant, right? You just have to have enough room for 3 lunches and 3 dinners in a single day.

A Transition Pt. 1: Vapiano

To start off, I've decided to share the first several posts [the only ones actually] from my previous foodie blog.  Allow me to elaborate:

I began "Chronicles of a Berry Tart" to document my adventures through NYC dining. However, I ended up wanting to blog about other things beside eating but thought it would be inappropriate to write about cool events that I've gone to [yeah, right] on a food blog. That's how "Musings" was born!

(1) and so it begins…

This is it. The inception of something [potentially] great.
To start off, allow me to announce that I’m vegetarian. It started in May 2011 as a personal challenge and after a while, I got used to it and realized that I didn’t miss meat at all (except for French Onion Soup and burgers). To be honest, I can’t imagine myself reverting back at all… unless for some ungodly reason I decide to harvest a monster in my womb. Regardless, I’m 9 months and going strong!
Let’s get back to the main point.
Where: Vapiano, University Place near Union Sq.
Food: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Service: 5/5

Let's Begin.

I like new things, I really do. I like starting new blogs because they represent a clean start to present something to an audience [that is, if there is one].

So, where shall I start? And what should I start with? Allow me to ponder for several moments...