Antiquing in New Jersey

I’m often criticized a few repeat offenses:

Loving hubby seems to think that I am unable to do two things at once. Apparently this includes walking and drinking, as he claims that I stop in my tracks every time I take a sip. I’ve never noticed and have my doubts.

I am always late. To this, I plead mea culpa as this is an incurable illness I have battled with all my life. I secretly believe it is hereditary as a very close family member has had the same flaw all her life. So I wonder if I should even continue fighting it. People know this about me anyways and I’ve noticed that now all meeting times I am given are always “by mistake” an hour before everybody else’s.

A new one was given to me recently by one of the hubby’s friend while antiquing in New Jersey. It seems I am impossible to shop with, spending too much time debating each purchase and discussing with store owners. My dad does always talk with horror about the only time he took me shopping 15 years ago. It was such an excruciating pain for him that he has been traumatized ever since. He even mentioned it in his speech at our wedding. I just notice that the common ground between these two anecdotes is that they both involve men and men don’t understand the art of shopping. You don’t buy the first thing you see in the first store you walk in, because you don’t know if you won’t find better afterwards. It’s just common sense (an asset men lack of).

If the shopping experience was debatable that day (although I brought back 2 great lamps that would have retailed 5 times more at ABC carpet), the Antiquing tour was great and we went again last WE with my mom freshly landed from Paris. Somehow the hubby’s friend declined the invitation this time.

Start the tour in Frenchtown, NJ: a tiny and adorable town on the border of the Delaware river. You will find several cute stores to browse through.

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Then head south down the Delaware river towards Lambertville, NJ. I prefer the ride on the Pennsylvania side of the river so cross the bridge and go down route 32. It’s a beautiful 30min ride along the water.

Lambertsville is a gorgeous town dedicated to antiquing and all other great stuffs in life (decadent chocolates being one of them).

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Finish your tour by crossing the bridge back to the Pennsylvania side to the town across the water: New Hope, PA. You will find more adorable stores. And the piece de resistance for boys aged from 1 to 35…. they have an antique train station.

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And that made two boys very happy.IMG_2690

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The casualties of Christmas

The Christmas season is over and as we threw out the tree last night, I reminisced on our Baby Boy’s 2nd Christmas… and the many victims that ensued.

It started so well, with our Boy being the perfect little helper while we were setting up the tree.

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Waiting for Santa…

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Then he decided to go on Santa’s naughty list.

Here is a requiem for the victims:

#1- “My First Christmas” ball. It was indeed his Second Christmas. What were we even thinking putting it out?

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#2- Every other ball hung. I had to run out buy a whole new set of decorations. On December 15th, the only balls left in the stores are oversized and bright pink. It’s a look. (I threw them out with the tree).

Pink Christmas Tree

#3- The possibility of a Holiday card with a nice Boy sitting on Santa’s lap. These were the only ones we were able to get:

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#4- The hubby’s usual big pile of Christmas gifts. Santa obviously has a new favorite at Grandma’s house.

#5- Every one of the 12 pacifiers that we brought over to Grandma’s house. It seems they were somehow thrown behind the couch (and Grandma later discovered more behind the laundry basket, other couches, desks…)

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#6- The remote control found at the bottom of the toilets and my iPhone in his bathtub (full). I managed to miraculously save both, thanks to a night spent in a bowl of rice. We threw the rice out afterwards.

However I’m somewhat relieved that he was on the naughty list this year, as he still got a very large amount of gifts. I can’t imagine what he would have got had he been nice… we just wouldn’t have had the place for it.

And that would have drove us crazy.

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5 tricks for fast cash to buy a NYC apartment

I’ve always had very high dreams in life. But I had categorized a 3 bedroom apartment (preferably in Tribeca) as a mid-level dream. Maybe not right now, but hopefully by the time we have baby #3. After a party in a similar apartment a few weeks ago, I had to readjust my grading system. It was $4M. And I checked, no hidden terrace nor private pool.

So I’ve come up with a few tricks to make fast cash overnight in Manhattan.

– Trick #1: Take a picture of a celebrity and sell it to the tabloids

It turns out that my office is directly across from Jay-Z and Beyonce’s duplex apartment. So I was hoping for The Million Dollar Shot when Baby Blue Ivy came along. Unfortunately after 12 months of scrutinizing, all I could see is the chef grilling steaks on their outdoor barbecue. And the cover of their ping-pong table being beige. I haven’t found a buyer yet.

Jay-Z

– Trick #2: Become a youtube sensation

I read that the video clip of “Gangnam Style” (hilarious, I will admit) was viewed more than 950 million times and brought the singer $8.1M this year.  Now THAT gives you a private terrace.

It so happens that a hilarious video was taken of our little Boy a few weeks ago. He was staying at Grandma’s, where he heard a slang word that he joyfully repeated all day. I was about to put it online when I was told I may be viewed as a bad mother if I advertize my young one swearing. I wouldn’t risk that, even for a dream apartment…. (even if I tell you the apartment was one block from my work?)

Ok after 1h of searching how to upload a video, I just discovered that i cannot, so I uploaded it on youtube for you to view. Don’t judge me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=piY71WN9Ps4

– Trick #3: Turn your child into a modeling star:

After a few people mentioned that our boy could be a child model, I considered the option and did a little bit of research. I think you’re ethically supposed to save the money for college or for him to use when he is 21, but he would be the first one to benefit from a bigger apartment, wouldn’t he? And I promise, the biggest room will be his playroom. But all the agencies I checked online were promoting how their were going to convert my “little angel” into the “next big star of the modeling /acting industry and help you get ahead in this competitive environment”. I’m looking for a bigger apartment, not a substance abuse in 14 years.

– Trick #4: Buy a cheap place instead

Keeping an open mind, I thought I had found the hidden treasure when I stumbled upon a huge duplex for a bargain. Obviously there was a flip side: the place was an old Doctor’s office, it didn’t have bathrooms, was on the first floor with a store front and would have need some serious renovation. But how cool to walk into your apartment like it’s a store? Talk about Retail therapy…  And who can say they have an Operating Room as a playroom? (severe sterilization recommended).

However despite my many calls, nobody ever called me back.

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– Trick #5: Become a successful blogger

I’ve been working on a little humble blog for the last 10 months, trying to find fun and fashionable addresses where cool Manhattanite parents can go out with their kids. It’s been fun (and time consuming!) but so far, despite one communication agency contacting me for a possible partnership, my revenues have been zero.

So if you know anyone that may be interested in paying me $4M for advertising, I would be forever grateful. I’ll give your kids a permanent invitation to our playroom. You might even bump into Blue Ivy and her parents there.

A Bronx Tale

Our Baby Boy has 2 new words he keeps repeating (outside of “no” and “mine”): “oh, oh, oh” – and not “ho, ho, ho” – every time he sees Santa Claus and “Choo choo” when he sees a train. So loving hubby had the brilliant idea to take the family up to the Botanical Garden this WE for their annual Holiday Train Show.

I didn’t know much about it, but I already loved it when I saw that you could select the options “Mr, Mrs, Princess, Countess, Baroness…” when ordering your ticket online. So Loving hubby, Baby Boy and Princess Maman drove up to the Bronx yesterday to go see ourselves some Royal Choo Choos.

I have to say the place is magical, from the outside to the entrance lobby to the exhibition.

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The enchantment starts in the entrance lobby with the friendly staff playing along with the theme:

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After a 10 min waiting line (what’s the point of buying tickets for a certain time slot if they don’t control the amount of people then?), we arrived in a Winter Wonderland in the jungle: electric trains running all around with landmark buildings of Manhattan recreated amongst a tropical vegetation.

I had never seen my Boy so excited.

Nor our son :)

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The closest we will probably ever be to the Lycee Francais, since we didn’t win last week’s $550M lottery …

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It was a great exhibition despite the crowd at the beginning. And Baby Boy had the time of his life.

Maman too since she was able to be a Princess for a day. And she brought back home a very happy little prince (and his son too).

A hidden treasure along the Hudson: Dia:Beacon

Loving hubby and I consider ourselves art lovers and we enjoy nothing more than spending a day at a museum (ok we enjoy it even more when it’s followed by a cocktail at the Museum’s trendy bar). However we could not have more opposite artistic taste and in any exhibition we visit, his favorite piece will always be the one that I liked the least (euphemism for absolutely hated). We managed to build a humble collection with a few pieces that we miraculously both appreciated. He did slip in a few that I could have lived without in my living room, one example would be a sculpture of a bird with a human head that whistles. Although I can’t confirm the whistling part as we are not allowed to try it, got forbid it would break. I agreed to that purchase because it is from upcoming superstar artist Kiki Smith and it was surprisingly in our prices. But it better pay for a $4M loft in Tribeca one day.

Another piece was forced on me as “babe, I bet online on this piece thinking we would never get it but it turns out nobody else bet on it (not a good sign) so I guess we won it” – Congrats?

But one thing we do agree on is our favorite museum in the Tri-State area: Dia Beacon. It is the best place to take your children to as it is a huge space, some of the art is extremely accessible for kids of all ages and there is never anybody. So don’t spoil this for us and start spreading the word.

It is not allowed to take pictures so please bear with me, I had to sneak around the guards, who were so happy to finally see a human being.

A rest at the end of the exhibit…

The trick to make the day magical is to complete it with a stroll around some cute villages in the area: Rhinebeck or Hudson. They both have charming restaurants for a nice brunch (or that cocktail we were talking about).

Another option is the Culinary Institute of America on the way. But book a table in advance – and let me know how it is, we always think of it once we’re on the road and they’re always booked.

And if you manage to get a reservation, maybe we can work something out. I have a human-headed whistling bird that I can exchange you for it.

Dia: Beacon

3 Beekman Street

Beacon, NY 12508

(845) 440-0100

The Art of the Steal

Last year, the loving hubby and I saw this amazing movie/documentary called “the Art of the Steal”. It’s on Netflix right now and I highly recommend making it your next TV night.

It relates the true story of this genius scientist who invented a revolutionary product in the 1920’s that made him extremely wealthy overnight. And he invested his new found wealth in young emerging (unknown) artists called Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse…
He built a gallery to exhibited his amazing collection and organized a big opening night where he invited all of Philadelphia’s high society.
The night didn’t go as planned: They all mocked his collection of unconventional new artists. And all the newspapers ridiculed his exhibition the next day.
 
Shocked and hurt, Mr Albert Barnes (our scientist) swore to never allow Philadelphia’s society to see his magnificent collection of 2,500 pieces again and he closed his house to the public forever. His even put in his will to never sell, break up or remove his extensive collection from his gallery, even after his death (and he had no descendants).

The documentary is the fascinating story of how Philadelphia’s art community finally got control of his collection 100 years later and was able to move his collection to a new art museum.

So when the new museum finally opened a few months ago, we were eager (although feeling a bit guilty) to go see it. The collection includes 181 Renoir, 69 Cezanne, 60 Matisse and 44 Picasso. It is estimated at 25 billion dollars (yes, Billion).

And we were not disappointed…

a Tryptich was custom made by Matisse on the ceiling:

Baby Boy puzzled by modern art… and isn’t it the point of modern art?

but trying to find answers

discussing the exhibition with dad afterwards

and testing the water on our way out:

It was an unbelievable experience. However I have to say that this one might be one to do without the children. The rooms are small and he quickly got bored, so we had to run through the whole exhibit in 45 min.

Which is a tat frustrating when you know that the exhibit is in Philadelphia and it took us a 2 hour drive each way.