30 June 2011

Must See NYC

Although there is an over abundance of resources telling visitors (such a better word than tourist!) to NYC what they should see and where they should go, I thought I'd throw my two cents into the mix.  After all, I spent yesterday showing some relatives around, actually I've spent a good portion of my life doing that.  When you live in NYC people expect you to know everything about the city and have been everywhere.  Well, I don't and I haven't and probably never will.  Instead, I've lived in the city for more/less my whole life (basically I've lived in NYC and England).  I've developed my own New York and my own list of must sees.  Get ready for the first installment, must see sights.  Enjoy!

enjoying an iced soy latte in Bryant Park


Must See NYC: Sights

The Metropolitan Museum of Art- The perfect place to go when you want to feel smart and cultured.  As a baby I went here a lot.  We have a photo of me in my carriage, I was a proper infant, and my dad in front of the museum.  My parents took a photo of me going to my first museum, so I'd say it's a big part of my life.  There is way too much to see in one day, so research before-hand what you absolutely must see.  If you try to do the whole thing you will end up wanting to pull your hair out.

a distinctly not baby Emilia in front of the met

The Museum of Natural History- Another big one from my childhood, that is even cooler to go to now because they've updated many of the displays to make them modern, spiffy and way less dated.  Again, there is a lot here, but unlike the Met, it's harder to choose specifics.  I'd say just wander through, unless you are really into the rainforest or want to see a giant whale, you probably won't miss anything too crazy important.  Half the fun of this museum is seeing the awesome displays and the weird things they have.  Plus, now you can pretend you are part of Night at the Museum if that tickles your fancy.

The Brooklyn Bridge (from the Brooklyn side in DUMBO)- One of the most iconic bridges (which I didn't even know until I started traveling abroad) is a complete must see in New York.  You can walk across it if you want, but even more impressive than that is seeing the bridge being connected into Manhattan.  If you go to DUMBO (a neighborhood in Brooklyn, stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, but is also under the brooklyn bridge over pass too!), you can get absolutely brilliant views of the New York skyline and the bridge.  DUMBO is also fun to visit in its own right, with small shops, good food and an awesome park.  There is also some amazing ice cream under the Brooklyn bridge.  I don't even like ice cream and I love that ice cream shop.

Central Park-  Less of a site and more of an awesome place to walk through/eat in/lounge about in/bike through/run through/sleep in (not really)/do whatever in.  I went to high school around here and spent so much time doing absolutely nothing but chatting with friends in the park.  It's big, green and a complete escape from the city.  If you go in around the 50s (streets), you can see the nearby buildings towering over the green, the only reminder that you are still in New York City.  Awesome in every season, but I find spring and summer the most enjoyable.

Columbus Circle/Time Warner building- Want to eat some awesome macarons (or just about any other pastry)?  Want to grab a good quick lunch?  Want to go to the world's best Starbucks?  Or maybe you just want to sit down and do some awesome people watching.  You can do all of those things around Columbus Circle.  My parents say this place used to be gross, but much like the rest of New York it's undergone serious urban regeneration and is now completely awesome.  There's shopping in the Time Warner building, but I enjoy sitting outside in Columbus Circle even more.  People are always rushing through, yet with the water fountains and nice seating, it's also a great place to relax.

Union Square- Another square/park/people watching area in New York I absolutely love.  There is a green market here on mondays, wednesdays, fridays and saturdays.  Not to mention, plenty of surrounding shopping.  You can sit on a bench, or at a table, enjoy some lunch, just a great New York-y place to be.  I spend so much time here partly because it's so easy to get to, partly because there is so much to do, but mostly because I love it.

Staten Island Ferry- It's free.  To me, that should be enough to get you to want to go on the ferry right now.  If you need more convincing, however, there are great views of the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and you can sit outside and enjoy the sea breeze (or rather the river breeze).  Great activity to do with friends.

The Highline- New and completely awesome.  It's a park suspended in the air right by the Hudson River around Chelsea.  You can walk along it, sit down, look at different New York-y buildings and feel totally cool.  Really pretty, relaxing and 100% New York.

The Neighborhoods- Super vague, I know.  Yet the only way to really and truly see and understand (or attempt to understand) New York is to walk through different neighborhoods.  Slap on some good shoes (though please not trainers!), hop on the subway and go to a neighborhood you want to see.  There will be something new and completely awesome to see.  There's Greenwich Village, Soho, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights, Chelsea, seriously I could keep going, but we'd be here all day.  Get a map and start exploring!

Yay New York City!

Stay tuned for Must Shop NYC and Must Eat NYC, coming soon!

Un Bacione,


29 June 2011

Running, love or not?

I grew up thinking I was a horrible runner.  Seriously, I hated every moment I had to run and gym class was a nightmare.  I can't lie and say that part of my hatred for running didn't come from horrible gym classes as an elementary and middle school student.  When I was in seventh grade my gym teachers decided to introduce the 'ten minute mile' as the way we would be graded.  Give me a hundred push-ups or ask me to walk up and down stairs for a minute and I'll do it, easy.  Running, however, was a different matter.

blurry Emilia about to go out on a run

I couldn't do the ten-minute mile.  Honestly, I can only just do it now.  What I didn't realize was that the other kids couldn't really do it either.  I thought that everyone could run it easily because they all seemed to finish on time and I was there slogging through the whole thing.  That wasn't true.  After a couple times I realized that all the kids who were finishing 'on time' were actually cheating.  It wasn't so much that I was an awful runner, just that I was actually keeping up with the timing.

Recently, for some reason, I began to become intrigued about running again.  Maybe the reason I hated it so much wasn't because I couldn't do it, but because I didn't give myself the chance to get better.  I wanted to be able to run that ten-minute mile effortlessly and immediately.

horrible photo of me getting ready to go running...i have a small room

So, I got the book Running Made Easy and read it pretty much front to back.  I felt inspired, it didn't make me feel silly for not being able to run; the book presented the information in a way that made sense to me.  I've always loved to walk; you don't really have an option when growing up in New York City, so the incorporation of walking into the program made me feel like even I could do this.

And I'm working on it.

The program is very similar to Couch to 5k.  What I like about having a book is that it provides me with all the information right there.  Whenever I need inspiring, I turn back to the book.  Whenever I have a question, I turn back to the book.  It is almost like having my own personal coach right there.

So far, I've noticed that I am able to run so much longer than I could previously.  I am not a fast runner, I doubt I ever will be, but right now I'm working on increasing the amount of time I can run before feeling like I need to walk.  Sometimes I don't want to run; yet some days I'm itching to get out and get running. I've noticed that my eagerness to run doesn't influence my performance, some days I naturally can run longer and some days my body just isn't feeling it.  I no longer get annoyed when the amount of time I run isn't quite what I'd like it to be, I just chalk it up to the day and know that I'll try my hardest another time soon.

disgusting on my return from running

My advice to people interested in running?  Go for it!  Get yourself some nice sneakers, some cute workout gear and get going.  Start out walking, increase your walking speed, break into a slow jog, and go for as long as you feel like you can.  Don't push yourself too much, don't worry about going quickly, don't worry about how long you can go for, just go.  If other people pass you by, don't try and speed up. Running is about YOU, not about anyone else.

I enjoy running outside and mixing up my routes as it prevents me from getting bored, yet if all you have is a treadmill in a gym, go for it!  You might find that works even better for you than running outside.  There is no right answer for everyone; there is only what works for you, which is EXACTLY what you need to find out.  Maybe you enjoy running with music, I personally don't, unless I'm at a gym.  Are you a morning, afternoon or evening runner?  There are so many details you get to figure out about yourself. These details aren't daunting, but exciting.  Starting to run means you get to discover so many new aspects about yourself and your body.

Some people find running a good time to think, others don't think at all and just zone out.  Whatever your running style is, that's perfectly fine.  Even if you give running a good try and decide it's not for you, that is perfectly okay.  There should be no pressure, so if you don't enjoy it, don't do it!  There are more important things in life than running and there are so many different types of sports you can try, there will be one you love and want to spend all your time doing.

Even now, though I'm running pretty regularly, running is not my favorite sport or way to keep fit.  I enjoy it, but if I could ice skate around the park everyday, you can bet I'd be doing that.  That being said, I genuinely enjoy running.  I like setting goals for myself and reaching them; running gives me an outlet to do that.  If I didn't like running I would not continue to lace up my sneakers in the morning and head on over to the park.

The verdict?  Running is a love for me, though it is NOT and all consuming passion.  I doubt it ever will be.  I run because it gives me time to think, clear my mind and challenge myself.  When I get a little bored, I try to throw something into my routine to shake it up.  Sometimes instead of going for a run, I'll go for a long walk.  I run my way, on my time and, most importantly, for myself.

What about you?  Do you love running?  Why or why not?

Un Bacione,


28 June 2011

Cafe Chronicles: City Bakery

Welcome to the new series on Emilia Lives Life, Cafe Chronicles!  If you can't tell already, this girl loves her coffee, preferably iced or in cappuccino form.  While I'm at home in NYC I'll be taking you around my favorite cafes, reviewing them, seeing what the best things are to get at certain places and where you can get the most bang for your buck.  Enjoy!


The atmosphere and food at City Bakery was one of my first introductions to "cool" and "hip" New York when I was around eleven years old.  My mom worked nearby and brought home a pretzel croissant.  Needless to say, it was love at first salty-tender-buttery bite.

The rest of their eats are no less exciting.  For lunch, they have lovely buffet with choices that range from salad to macaroni cheese.  Yet the pastries and hot chocolate steal the show.  You have the rich peanut butter cookies that properly taste like peanut butter, with crisp edges and a crumbly, yet tender, centre.  There are also the chocolate chip cookies that have an almost caramel-ly, brown sugar flavor, studded with rich chocolate chunks.  

Then, there is the hot chocolate.  Oh my gosh.  If you have previously only known hot chocolate through mixes and Starbucks then you are in for a knock-you-off-your-feet shock.  Although extraordinarily rich hot chocolate has becoming increasingly popular in recently, City Bakery's will always feel to me as the typical beyond rich beverage.  Available in two sizes, shot and small cup, the texture is closer to that of melted chocolate than of the water-y liquid you get from mixing up some Swiss miss in a cup of boiling water.  You can also choose to add in a fresh marshmallow, which brings the experience to a whole other level.  Of course, this is the kind of beverage made for sharing on a cold winter's day.  

For summer, I'd recommend iced coffee or a cappuccino.  Both which are, again, better than your average coffee shop.  The coffee I've gotten from City Bakery has always had a deep bitter flavor that was harmoniously cut by frothed milk.

You are probably wondering now, is there anything you don't like about City Bakery?  There is.  I realize this is New York, but the prices for pretty much everything besides the peanut butter cookies, which cost 75 cents, verges on ridiculous.  I'm definitely not coming here for my regular cup of coffee.  Then again, you do pay for quality.  

The crowds can also be a pain.  Since the main ordering area is a square right in the centre of the cafe, it can be disconcerting to choose what you want and order quickly.  Finding a seat, if you choose to eat in, is nearly impossible if you come during lunchtime.  Though during the spring and summer, you can always choose to eat in nearby Union Square.

okay, not too crowded here, but it wasn't lunchtime!

Ultimately, City Bakery is an ideal cafe for rich, high quality food and drinks, though depending on your New York hip tolerance level, you may find the atmosphere migraine inducing, or be perfectly at home.


Atmosphere:  2.5 out of 5 coffee cups.  There are a good amount of tables and the decor is unique, yet the painfully hip urban mood permeates the cafe, making it feel less than cozy.  This is a place to grab a quick business lunch, or feel super cool at, not the kind of place to bring your computer and do work.

Coffee:  3 out of 5 coffee cups.  Good, pretty strong flavor, yet there's something special lacking about it.  I enjoy it, but I'm not going to go out of my way to get it.

Food:  4 out of 5 coffee cups.  One of my favorites reasons to come here.  Yes, it can be expensive, but every bite is so worth it.

Prices:  2 out of 5 coffee cups.  Not prohibitively expensive, yet not for everyday consumption either.  There are better bargains out there.  The only exception I'll make is for the peanut butter cookies.  Those things are a proper bargain.

Location: 5 out of 5 coffee cups.  Yes, there is only one (though their eco-concious store, Birdbath, has many more locations), but it has pretty much a perfect location only a couple blocks from Union Square.  This probably increases the amount of visits I've made here by about, oh, 88.2%


Interested in City Bakery?  Here's some useful links!

Location: 3 West 18th St # 1, New York, NY 10011

Bubble Tea and Cappuccini

Yesterday was busy and quasi productive, marked by two very exciting beverage events.  The first occurred when I went to Starbucks in the morning to get some blog-work done.  I ordered my usual tall cappuccino, gave them my name, but when I got my cup, my jaw dropped.  They had correctly spelt my name without me telling them how to spell it.  Major props to whomever was working!


Jubilation ensued. 

Later that afternoon I took a walk with my mother and ended up finding a bubble tea place in my neighborhood.  I've been wanting to try bubble tea forever and had no clue this place existed!  Needless to say, we stopped and got some bubble tea (it's fun to say, try it, bubble tea).

We got two kinds...

Milky Black Almond Tea

Peach Green Tea

The peach tea was really good, but the almond was fantastic.  I'm definitely excited to have some more bubble tea this summer!  There are loads of places in New York that sell it and I'm definitely going to be trying quite a few.  Not to mention, I love all types of asian food, so the bubble tea will go well with that.

How was your day yesterday?  Did you do anything out of the ordinary?

Un Bacione,


27 June 2011

The Secret History by Dona Tartt

The Secret History may seem to be an intimidating book with 529 pages of dense print, hundred page chapters and reviews that call it "cerebral".  I know, you want to run away already.  But don't.  Even though all of this would usually push me away quicker than you can say intimidated the glowing reviews I read on amazon kept my interest piqued.  And I am glad I did.

Yes, the book is long.  Yes, cerebral is a good word to describe it.  But these are not the defining factors of the book at all.  What makes the story successful are the complex characters that are deeply flawed, while being deeply appealing.  The reader puts themselves in the shoes of the narrator, Richard, and takes the journey to a strange new place, meets alluring new people and undergoes a complete identity transformation as a result of their new experiences.

More interested now?  I hope you are.  While the protagonist is an important aspect to this novel, the supporting characters are no less fascinating.  In fact, they almost take centre stage at some points.  This adds to the reader's deep understanding of Richard's world.

You probably want to hear about the type of book it is now.  Well, I'm going to disagree with all of those reviews that describe the book as a psychological thriller.  Psychological, yes. Thriller, no.  There is an increase in suspense, but don't think you are getting hair raising scenes of terror.  Calling it an intellectual mystery would be a more apt description.  Yet, the reader is included in the mystery in a way that removes the book from genre conventions of a typical sleuth-style romp.  The story defies and transcends classification in a way that makes it readable for a wide variety of people.

Through the lives of the main character and his friends (or are they?) the reader becomes enveloped in a web of lies, deceit and uncertainty that threatens to fall apart at any moment.  This precarious position leads the characters to take increasingly unprecedented actions.  Although you won't be on the edge of your seat, you will always want to know what happens next, unable to predict the next possible move.

The exploits of a select group of classics students are, indeed, an unassuming place for such levels of intrigue, but it is the contrast between the reader's initial expectations of the characters and the reality that leads to such a compelling read.  Whilst reading I actually thought this would make an excellent book for schools to assign because it was so interesting, yet dealt with a variety of issues.  That, and it didn't make me want to poke my eyes out like some other books I had to read.

Ultimately, I would highly recommend The Secret History for its intellectual approach to a mystery-esque type of fiction.  A myriad of different people would enjoy the story for different reasons, part of what makes the novel so compelling.

Have you read any good books recently?

Un Bacione


Sunday, photo edition

Sunday wasn't so much worth describing, but I did take a lot of pretty photos!

Vegan Cobbler Bars with fresh raspberries and blueberries

Bag: Primark
Shoes: Zara
Scarf: gift
Romper: Topshop
Sweater: American Eagle
Sunglasses: Ray-bans

Chai Truffle from Jacques Torres in DUMBO

26 June 2011


Recently, I've made several posts referencing my love for my filofax.  Before studying in England I had no clue what filofaxes were, they just aren't all that common in America.  You can find them everywhere in England.  They have them at fancy stationary stores, at Rymans (like Staples) and at cool stationers like Paperchase.  Lots of people have them too, meaning you see them during lectures all the time.  After seeing people using them, I quickly fell in love and knew I needed to get one.

The most common size is personal, which is great for carrying around if you plan to use it only as a daybook.  I wasn't interested in such single usage, however, and decided on an A5.  The A5 is quite big, nearly the size of a traditional composition book.  Even though this can be bulky to carry around, the function is unparalleled.  I have an entire agenda, address book, to do lists and four different sections to write in, not to mention the notepad in the back.

Upon first receiving this beauty, I was a bit miffed about how much space the agenda part took up.  I hadn't been planning to use it as a place to keep my schedule because I already had a perfectly functioning diary.  Once I began using this section, I realized that it worked much better than what I previously had.

I didn't get to choose the agenda section, it came with the filofax, but I love the way it's laid out.  The days are in columns that are divided up by hour.  This lets me write down not only what I want to do during a day, but when I want to do it.  No, I don't stick exactly to such a plan, but I do use it to guide me.  This proved very helpful when I was juggling a million things at the end of last term.

Another section that I didn't anticipate, but adore using, is the To-Do list.  I used to make small little lists of what I wanted to accomplish during a given day and leave them on the top of my desk.  Sure it was useful, but it only allowed me to plan out a very limited time period.  If that list was for more than one day, I would have very quickly forgotten about it.  With the spiffy to-do lists in my filofax, I am able to plan for weeks in advance.  I love crossing something off my to-do list and writing down what I want to do keeps me accountable while preventing me from forgetting.

Then there are the sections I did anticipate.  There are four sections that I put lined paper in.  My planner came with different colored A5 pages.  I adore the different colors, even though I haven't been able to find refills of the colors.  I have been able to find normal white refills, which work just as well, though a little less pretty.  It's still useful though.

I've divided the sections into lists, stories, "business" (which is really house/organization papers and notes) and journal.  Having all of these different sections together in one place was the main reason I wanted a filofax.  Previously I had a notebook for each section, which just got bulky.  No, I never actually carried around that many notebooks, but I did keep have them all on my desk.  Which was messy enough with all of my uni books on it.

Finally, there are the alphabet tabs.  I knew that I wanted to keep an address book in my filofax.  My A5 didn't come with the proper address pages, however, so I bought some from Paperchase in England.  They work very well so far, I get a page per letter, which is plenty for me.  I wanted a paper address book so I could have all my numbers in one place.  Now when I'm in New York I don't have to turn on my English phone to get my friends' numbers and vice versa.

The only downside to my filofax?  This thing is heavy and big.  I've gotten into the habit of carrying it everywhere, which was extremely uncomfortable when I was also having to carry my Italian textbook to lectures.  On its own, or with a novel, it's not too bad, but if you don't want something too heavy I wouldn't recommend the A5 size, personal would probably work best.

Ultimately, I'm very pleased with the functionality of my filofax and the design.  It looks pretty and I enjoy having it out on my desk all the time.  Already it's become part of my life and I can see myself using it for years and years to come.

How do you stay organized?  Do you use a diary/agenda?

Un Bacione,


25 June 2011

Out and About Friday


Yesterday, was another day spent out and about after a brisk morning jog through the park.  I've been trying to find out where I prefer running the most.  If I run around the entire park I know that I'll end up doing more exercise, but my body isn't always feeling up to it.  Last time I did that I ended up walking most of the time.  I enjoy walking, but when going out for I run, I'd prefer to spend most of my time doing just that, running!  Anyway, I decided to make my own route and ended up running for about half an hour, quite a bit less than a full loop around the park, but the majority of the time was spent running, so I'm cool with that.

the face of success :)

After the run came breakfast, which I spent most of my run debating...of course.  I ate a bowl of siggi's pomegranate and passion fruit yogurt with a handful of kashi go lean cereal and a crumbled up Clif Z bar.  There was also a bowl of berries on the side.  Definitely got my day started on the right foot!


Then it was time to go to Union Square to go to the market.  I had a couple of things I wanted to do before then, such as find some filofax paper, a refill for my pen and pick up somethings from Whole Foods.  During my wee errand running session, I also stopped at City Bakery for a cappuccino.

I also enjoyed a bit of a peanut butter cookie.  City Bakery has some of the best peanut butter cookies I've ever tasted, I always have to get one if I go there.  People may love City Bakery for their hot chocolate, but if you ask me, these cookies are really the unsung heroes.

I ate the middle and saved the rest for my dad, it has the best texture!

Then after a brief preliminary walk through the market, my mom and I met up with my dad for lunch at nanoosh, a nearby hummus restaurant.  They have several locations through the city and I'd been wanting to try it out ever since I had read about it on other blogs.  

I had the hummus platter with onions and mushrooms, it came with two whole wheat pitas

My mom got the hummus and mushroom wrap with quinoa salad,
I had a bite, so good!

Finally, we did get some flowers for our window boxes, which will soon be planted.  I used to never care about flowers or decorating, but after living in halls I definitely appreciate the warm touch they bring to a home!

Happy Weekend!

Un Bacione,