Happy 1st Day of School!

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Happy first day to many educators and children! Getting ready for the school year is always so exciting yet so nerve-racking. Though school officially began with students today, teachers go in way before to get the classroom ready. You wouldn’t believe the amount of work that goes behind the scenes.  Just look at this photo of my classroom with my new co-teacher. Those books and label bins took over 4 hours to sort and make it look good. We had to unpack all those boxes just to make counter space for the green and blue bins.  We had to unroll and vacuum those 2 giant rugs for parallel teaching.  Whew* They didn’t tell us this when we applied to become teachers! =P 

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The Oculus and Westfield World Trade Center

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Just last Tuesday, the Oculus and Westfield Mall at World Trade Center had their official grand opening. It was exciting as I watched the area change gradually over the last couple of years! Some say the Oculus is almost like walking into heaven because everything is so bright and white. I’d definitely agree it’s quite beautiful (though many wonder whether the amount of money spent is worth $4 billion…)  I went a couple of times before and after the grand opening so I’ll tell you this – it looks very different today with completely bare space in the middle and no couches or seating areas as you may find in these photos below. The mall has many designer brand shops, but also some more popular places such as the Apple Store and Kate Spade. If you walk away from the Oculus and into the other side, you’ll find stores such as Under Armor, Banana Republic, and H&M. There aren’t too many food places nor children-friendly stores, but hopefully those will be built later on. Meanwhile, you can always go to Hudson Eats in Brookfield for food and seating, which is now connected under the World Trade Center.

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Featured Spotlight: Coffee Project

“All you need is love and a coffee,” and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Coffee Project in the East Village.  As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by a friendly hello and some smiles by co-owners, Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh (pictured below, respectively).  Sum, who is Malaysian-Chinese, had completed her barista training in Portland. She learned to blend different beans together, creating flavors that were beyond just the popular coffee that comprises of nuts and chocolate notes.  She moved to New York City five years ago and began her planning to open a shop with Kaleena.

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Featured Spotlight: Mahalo New York Bakery

Imagine a drive along the coast of a Hawaiian island. One minute you see sea turtles washing up on the shore of the beaches. Then you’re swerving left and right along the cliffs and passing by banana and guava trees. You decide to hop out of the car and jump into the most refreshing pond of water, swimming to the waterfall to let it crash over your head.  Lastly you drive to see the sunset on top of the mountains. There seems to be nothing but beauty, nature, and relaxation. Hawaii is one of those places in the world where your breath gets taken away.  It’s also one of those places where you will never forget how good their food tastes, and luckily, there are some people who have finally brought Hawaii’s exotic tastes to New York City.

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Meet Mike and Sunita (Sue) Shiwdin, the couple who owns Mahalo New York Bakery.  They met back in high school, when Sue was already dreaming of opening her own bakery one day. Back in Guyana where Sue grew up, there wasn’t much electricity, so you can imagine how having an oven to work with when coming over to the States meant exciting times to bake and make her own creations.  After a trip to Hawaii for their honeymoon, she realized how much the food and culture there resonated with Guyana. Flavors such as guava, mango, and hibiscus, as well as friendly people saying hello were all very similar.  She and Mike decided to open a bakery in New York City that spoke to this resonance. “We named it, Mahalo New York Bakery,” Mike explained, “which means thank you New York for giving us this opportunity to open this bakery.”

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Food for Thought

I came across this quote and it really got me thinking. Here’s the thing: for the past year, all I can really think about is what next?  If I’m not teaching for the rest of my life, what next?  I absolutely love my job and still can’t believe how far along I’ve come since the day I stepped foot into the classroom, but my curious mind gets me wondering … if this is not what I’m doing in 3 years, what will it be?  For the last 2 years, I decided to explore and bring out my adventurous side that I never knew until recently. I discovered a lot of interests and only need to narrow them down to something more sustainable, tangible, and possible.  Truthfully, none of them fall in any of these categories, but it has to start somewhere right?  So perhaps the bottom of the rock it is. It’s time I try because as they say… If you can’t stop thinking about it, it’s probably worth going after.  

Here.  We.  Go!   Thanks for joining in 🙂

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Featured Spotlight: Wine O Club’s Mark Fang

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Ahhh it’s that time of the year again!  As you may or may not know, I LOVE featuring some incredible founders / artists every summer. If you know anyone who would love to be featured, please contact me and I’ll be glad to share their story! It’s incredibly inspiring to hear what happens behind the creation of a particular product, company or store. For the next month, you’ll learn about 3 founders that I met who are incredible human beings with such a strong passion about what they do.

First, I’m thrilled to introduce Mark Fang, the witty and humble co-founder and teacher of the Wine O Club.  Co-founded with Jabin Kim, the two have created a club that customizes to people’s personal tastes and provides classes to teach the basics of identifying, tasting, and pairing wines.  It’s up to you what wines you get, when you get them, and how often. What makes this company stand out for me was that the 2-hour wine tasting session was classy without being pretentious and provided a really fun and comfortable way of learning the different kinds of wines and what to look and smell for.  If you think your sense of smell is strong, you may be surprised (I sure was!).

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So to find out a little more about the story behind this company, I was fortunate to have a one-on-one interview with Mark at Wine O Club’s new event space in an elegant but casual atmosphere in Midtown.   If only you can hear the chuckles and the sense of humor behind the scenes with him, but you’ll definitely know what I mean by that if you sign up for the class as Mark is often the teacher!
When you’re done, be sure to read below for a little surprise just for YOU!

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Nom in Mon!

Vacation flies by fast. Four days fly by even faster, but Montreal was a nice quick getaway that wasn’t too costly and quite memorable.  I did not know much about the place beforehand so it was all a pleasant surprise.  They say Montreal is a foodie city as well as a bike-friendly city and the city of festivals. All of that is most definitely true. As you walk through the streets, you’ll notice bike lanes all around and bikes chained to poles made specifically for the vehicle. You’ll notice advertisements of the festivals coming up, and that week we caught the “Just for Laughs” festival, one that was perfect for us as we played games, ate, and laughed through different performances. But most of all, their food is diverse and full of flavor. Though I didn’t find anything particularly amazing, the food was pretty good overall. Here’s a peek at some of the places we tried!

Boris Bistro –
A little gem we accidentally walked into outside of Old Montreal. While the rest of the streets were quiet, you suddenly past this bustling patio filled with diners, trees, and candle-lit tables. It looks quite popular so you walk inside.  Well, the food was actually fantastic though service was a little slow. This salmon tartare was quite delicious with the crisp baguette and a side salad!

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Bonjour!

Just last week, I made a last minute decision to fly to Montreal with a good high school friend and get away from the city for 4 days. I came back and got incredibly busy with some write-ups and upcoming work work this week, so I’ll be back by Wednesday with a new post (and a giveaway next week).  Thanks for popping by, and check in then!

In the meantime, here’s a picture I took at the Chalet du Mont Royal. It was actually an accident finding this place … we wanted to explore the Mont Royal Park, a park designed by the same person who created Central Park – Frederick Law Olmsted.  Without Internet or any specific points to hit at the park, we walked around endlessly and wound up following this path that seemed never-ending… UPHILL! Coming across tons of tourists all of a sudden, we climbed these stairs (also never ending) until we got to the top and saw this spectacular view.  If I had my fitbit on, I would say I walked at least 50,000 steps, but hey, it was so worth it!  Here it is .. take a breath!

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Catch ‘em All … Whilst New Yorkin’

Ah ha! So you know I love playing tour guide. I’ve been asked a bit lately about food and place recommendations – I love it! (and thank goodness for unlimited text messages.) : )   While I’m taking care of some things of my own, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.  Last week I attended one of the park movie night showings at Brooklyn Bridge Park. We quickly grabbed something from Shake Shack and watched “Singing in the Rain,” one of my favorite classics. It was such a calm, soothing night on a blanket with my husband and co-workers. Who knew that in a bustling city, you can still have a completely quiet night at the park (you wouldn’t even notice the people around you as you’re watching the film or looking at the stars). Afterwards we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (crazy!) and discovered the obsessed phenomenon over Pokemon Go, where so many people were sitting on the bridge waiting to catch Pokemon. (Guilty: I downloaded the app…. -_- )  Then the next day I just laid in bed from exhaustion.  Yup. That all sounds about right.

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Point is, there’s so much to do in the city, so I thought I would share some of the sites that I use to get the latest information or fun things to do and events to go to. Even if you are busy catching Pokemon, why not do it in style and spend time with your friends and family rather than stand awkwardly in the middle of the street gleeing over the fact that you’ve finally caught Pikachu after countless hours searching!  

Got any other sites you use? Please do share! Just click that email button right on top and bloop, sends a message.  🙂  

www.skint.com 

www.downtownny.com 

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do

http://mommypoppins.com/ (if you have kids) 

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As always, thanks for reading! xoxo  

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