Winter coats and clothes finally packed away...

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Flag of United States  , New York
Thursday, June 27, 2013

At the start of this blog reporting period we were still sort of waiting for summer but now it's hot and muggy!

The first week of this blog we had one really hot and humid week, where we actually had to invest in a fan, but the last few weeks have swung quite wildly between being quite chilly and raining heavily. I have never seen so many discarded umbrellas - just one gust of wind at the wrong angle and your umbrella’s had it! You get these funny looking umbrellas here that are two in one (large one beneath and slightly smaller one layered on top); I assume it’s for extra strength…

We’ve had a few fun nights out with the Aussie and adopted-Aussie crew recently. A few Saturdays ago we went to Turkuaz Restaurant with Arynn, Sain, Claire, Neil, Marina and Ross. Sain grew up in Turkey so knows his good Turkish restaurants. We had some yummy food and a twirl with the belly dancer before heading off for some drinks at a bar. We got kicked out – haven’t had such a late one in a while…

The next day we weren’t feeling too great but I had to pick up some prints from the studio so I bribed Matt with some cheap but good Ramen noodles at Tabata; just round the corner. Needless to say we had a pretty lazy rest of the day.

Monday was a public holiday and we were feeling a bit more energetic. We decided to walk down to Dumbo, a suburb of Brooklyn on the river, with Lulu to get out and enjoy the sunshine. There were hundreds of people about with kids eating ice cream and panting dogs everywhere you looked. We waited about 45 minutes for a sandwich at the newly opened Nr 7 sub (felt sorry for customers and staff!) and although I would have liked an ice cream the lines were even more horrendous so we headed home! Matt had to carry poor Lulu parts of the way home – she was getting too tired (and is a bit fat). We worked out that the walk would have been over 10 kilometres so not a bad effort!

The rest of the week I spent painting and stitching a new print for a small prints exhibition in Japan. I frantically sewed, cursed and pricked my fingers only to realise as I was about to submit my application that they had extended the deadline by more than a month… Aagghhh!

I took Lulu to the park on Friday and she got so hot that she literally waded into a massive mud pool and made like a hippo – almost only nostrils showing…. I must have sounded like a crazy lady yelling at her to get out and trying to poke her with a stick as the puddle was too big to get to her. I finally got her out only for her to turn around when we were about 20 meters away to go for a second dip! Not happy! I left her outside till most of the dirt dried and fell off but she smelt so bad I had to bath her. For some reason she loves weeing in these puddles whilst lapping it up too… On another morning I took some great shots of Prospect Park – so green and luscious and completely different from winter!

The following Saturday I dragged Matt to Bushwick Open Studios. It’s a fairly industrial area in Brooklyn with hundreds of artist studios. There were over 600 artists participating in the event but we only managed two warehouses. Admittedly, each was a few storeys high and had numerous studios per level. We saw some really average art but also some really cool stuff. It was one of those really hot days so the cold, free beer and later a snack for us kept Matt going a bit longer than might otherwise have been expected…

We headed home for a short respite before meeting up with Suzy and Leigh at a restaurant on 5th Ave close to our apartment. We finished quite early so decided to walk off some of our dinner by walking to, according to Suzy, an amazing ice cream shop nearby. Suzy is a bit of an ice cream aficionado and had been trying to perfect her own ice cream making skills at home with "poor" Leigh as the guineapig… When we got to Ample Hills Creamery there was a massive queue out the door.

Suzy and I patiently waited in line while the boys went to find a bar to kill time. When Suzy and I got to the door we realised that the line actually went all the way to the back of the shop and then curved all the way back to the front again… But by now the sight of people licking delicious looking cones and being in sight of the flavours meant we were willing to wait it out. I got a scoop of their salted crack caramel and Nanatella (banana and nutella) and it was DIVINE!!! Easily the best ice cream I have ever eaten and I have eaten my fair share of ice cream! It even beat France’s salted caramel ice cream… Matt had to rush out of the bar to eat his fast-melting choc-mint cone (also the best ever he claimed). They were so popular when they first opened that they had to close in four days as they had sold out of all their ice cream! The bar, Soda, where the boys ended up looked quite dingy but upon further exploration we discovered a lovely outdoor deck. Definitely a spot to remember on a warm, balmy night.

As Matt had to head back to Detroit again on Sunday afternoon we decided to stay local and explore Park Slope a bit more. We checked out a few shops and tried a ramen noodle place on 5th Ave but it wasn’t very good.

On Friday, June 7, Suzy, Hayley, Lola and I met at the Crosby Street Hotel – a really cool place to have a girls’ afternoon. I hadn’t met Lola before. She’s from Spain, lovely, loud and loves to talk. It was great catching up before we had to head back out into the rain.

On Saturday Matt and I headed into Chinatown to explore a bit. We had lunch at Wo Hop, which is supposed to be an institution, but was pretty average. At least it was cheap! I could see the appeal if you’re out late at night and need something more than alcohol to line your belly… After that we headed for the New York Supermarket to get some supplies to go with the second batch of pho I had made. It’s a relatively big Asian supermarket (none close to home) where you can find noodles, fish sauce, spices and bits and pieces of all kinds of animals that you can’t find in a normal supermarket. So apart from needing a nose of steel; you need to be able to barge your way through hundreds of other people and prepare to be jostled, bumped and have trolleys wheeled over your feet. It’s cheap and all worth it for pho… Matt headed home and I went to Dick Blick, an art store, as I had a 40% off voucher I had to spend… Later that night we met up with the crew at “Catch” for a cocktail before heading over to “Abe and Arthur’s” for a late dinner.

I’ve been to a dermatologist recently as I sometimes get really red around my mouth, chin and cheeks. Long story short – I had to get allergy patches (5 big ones with 10 allergens each) stuck to my back and wasn’t allowed to get them wet. So no traditional showering for two days… I came up with some allergic reactions but he told me to go back the next day if any more patches showed up. Another day of no showering… my luck, some did. So back I went. So now I know I have an allergy to; wait for it… methylchlorosothiazolone and methylisothiazolone collectively known as Kathon CG. It is found in:

-        Adhesives

        Air conditioners

        Baby wipes


        Bubble bath




        Cutting fluids


        Eye shadows

        Fabric softeners


        Hair conditioners

        Jet fuels

        Latex paint emulsions


        Makeup foundations

        Makeup remover



        Metal working fluids





        Printing ink




        Slim control agent in paper mills



        Toilet papers

        Water cooling paints

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about the jet fuel but it’s a real pain in the ass! I’ve had to replace my shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body lotion, face cream – you get the picture. It’s even in our washing machine liquid… The REAL pain in the ass is that it has about 50 different names; so when you call a company’s customer service to check a product it doesn’t automatically recognise all the synonyms –you literally have to go through every single name…

Luckily I found a great website which lists safe products without all kinds of other nasties too. Have a look at their toxic ingredients in personal care page:

It’s scary when you realise that many of these chemicals enter your bloodstream and causes all kinds of reactions, cancers and damage and it is completely unregulated. Think I’m going to slowly switch all our products to safer ones…

On Tuesday, 11 June, I met Suzy and Hayley at Century 21 for a girls shopping day. Century 21 is huge and similar to a Myer but it’s an outlet. It has a range of labels from your regular clothes to $5000 dresses marked down to $500. It stocks everything – handbags, perfumes, cosmetics, underwear, men’s, women’s, sporting goods, shoes, etc. I thought it would be very chaotic but it was very well organised and there were lots of sizes and far too many good things. Needless to say we made many trips to the change rooms. I gave Hayley a bit of a scare when she saw my stickered back in the communal change room. I had completely forgotten, ha, ha. Hayley had to leave earlier, but Suzy and I only left around 3:30 because we were absolutely starving. About 5 hours of shopping in one store and we didn’t even see it all…

We headed to Eataly – a huge deli with lots of little restaurants inside. Words really cannot describe it – it is AMAZING and a danger zone for anyone who loves gourmet anything. Luckily I was all shopped out and only had eyes for my pizza and glass of wine. After lunch (or should I call it dunch - lunch/ dinner) we went to ABC Carpet and Home (my favourite home wares store) but only as Suzy was looking for a present. Leigh came and met us and they were going to keep going but I was buggered and headed home. Phew!

On Wednesday I went to the print studio but luckily had a good run and finished earlier than expected. I met a lovely artist called Amanda Barrow that was working across from me. She took some photos of me printing so I’ll upload them somewhere soon.

That Thursday I headed to the neighbourhood of Gowanus in Brooklyn – about a 25 minute walk to go and look at some new artist studio spaces they were opening. They already have one space with semi-private studios, a large open studio which is a shared space, a gallery and they offer classes and critiques. They also secured a new building for some additional semi-private studio spaces.

Since I am now the proud owner of a social security number I was able to register my business in New York State. I opened a business bank account and am also getting some business cards and things printed so starting to feel more legit! Matt has also been showing all his colleagues at work so I’ve sold one print with two more once they’re finished…

On Friday Claire popped over and we tried out a new French bakery on 5th Ave. I was going to show her some of my prints but we talked too much and ran out of time…

On Saturday I did my usual run to the market at Prospect Park and then we headed over to Suzy and Leigh’s to pick up a table, ice cream machine and a few other odds and ends as they were leaving New York and heading back home to Perth. Sob, sob :-( They were having a stoop sale – the Brooklyn version of a garage sale. Later that night we met Suzy, Leigh and Hailey at Colony for one last dinner. It was really sad to say goodbye as we had really found some great friends and Suzy had become my partner in crime with Matt away or for things he didn’t want to do. But we’ll definitely keep in touch.

On Sunday Matt had to go in to work and I had to go to Dick Blick again (a 40% off framing voucher and 50% off paint brushes this time…) Matt came and met me there and then we headed to Chinatown to eat some dumplings. It’s terrible that we compare everything; but they weren’t as good as Hu Tong Dumpling in Melbourne… I headed back to Dick Blick’s as it was too busy to get everything before. First I stocked up on some veggies at the Asian supermarket again as our juicer had arrived and we’ve been drinking lots of green juice…

On Monday I signed up at Brooklyn Art Space (BAS). The new studios were lovely, but unfortunately a bit pricey at this stage, so I signed up to join the Shared Studio Space instead. It’s a large area with lots of tables, easels, lockers, etc. and you go and work there when it suits you. The difference between the shared and your own semi-private studio is that you have to pack your things away each time. I have locker and a drawer so with a bit of planning it’s easy enough. They also have free critiques, artists’ talks, you can participate in shows at the gallery and get discounted rates on their classes. I’ll still work from home some days, but it’s less easy to get distracted there… Check it out here

That evening I went to Lola’s birthday party at their apartment. Their apartment is in Soho and had the most amazing artworks throughout the apartment building itself. Every time the lift doors opened you were greeted by fantastic sculptures, installations or artworks. Their apartment was also pretty fantastic and the people at the party were lovely.

I went in a few times to get set up at the studio and on Friday I worked there for the whole day. It was pretty quiet but on the other days it had been busier. I’ve seen some very interesting works and it’s really cool seeing the process and progress of pieces. The really great thing too is that I’m discovering lots of cool little shops, restaurants, bars and places as it’s about a half-an-hour walk to get there. On Friday night Matt and I tried out Juventino Restaurant (one such discovery) and it was a great little find. Lovely outdoor area, great service, fantastic food and not pricey at all.

On Saturday I headed to the Renegade Craft Market. I thought about applying to it months ago but wasn’t sure if I’d have my permit and also if they accepted “art” rather than “craft”. I found another art/ craft market on the way there so it was a doubly productive day! I went armed with a notebook and after initially just scribbling down set-up ideas; I started telling people I was thinking of doing markets and asking questions about how and where they got their stalls, framing suppliers, etc. Everyone was really friendly and happy to help. I was there for about 5 hours! When I got home Matt wasn’t feeling great so we didn’t end up going to Nathan’s apartment warming.

On Sunday we went to the New Amsterdam Market at the South Street Seaport area. Lots of yummy jams, bread, fruit and veg, pickles, honey, fish, food vendors and lots more. I bought a yummy grapefruit and smoked salt marmalade – something a bit different! After that we went to a tailor that Matt found that makes custom fitted business shirts for cheaper than off the rack styles.

On Monday night I went to a free Marketing for Artists’ event at BAS (my studio). The series of workshops is presented by Arts Gowanus in preparation for the upcoming Gowanus Open Studios in October. Gowanus is the neighbourhood BAS is in. I’ve registered for this so it should be fun! I’ll have a space somewhere where I can display some art with the public coming in over two days to look at the studios and talk to the artists.

This week we’ve been having a new back fence installed. It was supposed to be finished in 3 days but today is day six and still not quite done. Looks much better than the old one though so that’s great. Lulu’s been loving the extra walks as initially there was no fence at all so I couldn’t let her out. Because of this I haven’t been able to go to the studio but as Matt got back Thursday night and worked from home on Friday I was able to go in.

Last night we headed to the rooftop bar of the 60 Thompson Hotel for Hayley’s farewell drinks. Everyone is leaving! There was a lovely cool breeze and a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline; unfortunately it started raining so we had to head downstairs to their other bar. After a view drinks and another goodbye we headed over to Eataly’s rooftop bar to meet up with Ross, Ross’s friend from England, Marina, Neil, Kat, Amy and Pete. Marina and Ross had been to India for two weeks and then Ross had headed back home to spend some time with family and friends so we hadn’t seen them for a while. A few drinks later those of us who hadn’t eaten yet decided we needed food so we all headed to a Korean BBQ. Another late dinner – about 12:30 when we left there. The others had more stamina than us and headed out but we were both buggered; especially Matt after a very busy week.

Next week I’m heading off to Detroit to meet up with Matt. We’re going to explore Michigan a bit over the July 4th long weekend. Looking forward to it!

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