Saturday, August 30, 2008

Favorite YouTube Music Videos

Here are some music videos that I really enjoy listening to:

The first one is a all-time favorite which was included on my wedding playlist. Alphaville's Forever Young.

This one is Take On Me by A-Ha. Sorry, can you tell that I grew up in the 80s?

Lastly, I have to include the NKOTB since I'm going to their upcoming concert!! Yes, I grew up in the 90's too. Click here for more information on tickets to their concerts.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Labor Day Events and Outings

Here are some fun events to celebrate the holiday marking the end of the summer season:

West Indian Day Parade

The world's largest Caribbean community--outside of the Caribbean--storms the streets with a New York shindig unlike any other. The parade route spans Utica Avenue and Grand Army Plaza. Hop on the 2, 3, 4 or 5 trains to the event. Although some say the best place to catch the action is near the Brooklyn Museum, the real fun can be found close to the Franklin Avenue subway stop.

Central Park: Loeb Boathouse

Central Park Lake off East DrNew York, NY 10003Phone: (212) 517-2233

The Boathouse is centrally located within Central Park making it a perfect place from which to launch further exploration of vast Central Park. Rowboat and Bicycle rentals enable you to do just that from a completely unique perspective. We've recently upgraded our recreational facilities with a fleet of 100 new boats and 60 new bikes (of various sizes

Wolfe's Pond Park and Beach

Hylan Blvd and Cornelia AveStaten Island, NY 10308Phone: (718) 984-8266

On the side away from the pond is a large stand of woods with several easy walking trails. Birds and small animals are abundant; the area can be particularly peaceful in late afternoon. There is also a recreation center with two tennis courts, two basketball courts and an in-line skating rink. The gently sloping, paved paths through Wolfe's Pond Park make it a great place for learning to in-line skate.

2008 US Open Tennis

The annual two-week tournament tests the world's top tennis players at this eagerly anticipated Grand Slam event.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

US Open Qualifying Tournament Pictures

The weather has been perfect in NYC this week. Despite the weather forecasts for possible thunderstorms on Tuesday, the clouds stayed far away from the USTA which allowed for the tennis players to compete for qualifying spots in this year's 2008 US Open!

Matches normally start at 10am and last through the end of the scheduled matches of the day, so possibly 7pm or after. Bring your own bottled water and depending on the weather, your sunglasses and hats! In our case, we brought umbrellas for extra sun protection! It's also recommended to pack lightly since large bags may be confiscated. Actually all bags are checked so be careful with bringing any "unregulated" items. You'll be moving between crowds of people and between the ground courts so it pays to travel lightly.

If you plan on attending next year, I highly recommend printing out a schedule of the matches on the day of the qualifying tournament. It gives you the names of the players and the courts that they will be playing at - so it helps you to plan out your entire day. I would recommend bringing a foam seat cushion like those seen at baseball games. The bleacher seats can get quite hard especially after a few hours of watching the matches! And believe me, some of these sets are quite exciting and you don't want to lose your seat!! Especially at the grand courts. Also, bring lots of bottled water (all other drinks including sport drinks in plastic bottles are tossed out by the bag checkers) to avoid having to purchase at the food stands. I didn't buy any food there so I can't comment on the price of Heineken beer and Ben & Jerry ice-cream. Small quantities of outside food are allowed to be brought into the courts.

Here are some pictures of my day at the US Open Qualifying Tournament:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Restaurant Review: Wolfgang's Steakhouse

4 Park Avenue
NY NY 10016

If you're looking to eat fine steak, this is place to try. Taking the core principles from Peter Luger restaurants, Wolfgang has created an intimate and cozy environment for serving phenomenal steak (for one, two, three...and in our case, SEVEN). The menu is traditional to a steakhouse restaurant (canadian bacon appetizer, cream of spinach and sauteed mushroom sides). Other options include chilean sea bass and salmon but that would defeat the purpose of eating at a steakhouse.

We started out the meal with a bottle of merlot (Mondavi, 2005).

Here were our appetizers: A dozen oysters and a seafood platter filled with lobster, shrimp and lump crabmeat. YUMMY!

We ordered a few slices of Canadian bacon (which was supposedly as delicious as the ones served at Peter Luger's and Benjamin's Steakhouse).

Here was our main entree: MEAT MEAT MEAT! I would avoid using the Wolfgang steaksauce that was offered to us. It smelled like tomatoes and horseradish (similar to the seafood cocktail sauce used in the seafood appetizer). My friends said the steak tasted better without it!!

The side dishes: sauteed mushrooms and the cream of spinach. Both were extremely tasty.

Overall, this is a wonderful place to go for special occasions. You will notice that I didn't put any prices because everything is expensive. Bring your credit card and your empty stomaches. The service was top-notch as well. We had a small accident with the red wine spilling onto someone's sleeve....the waiter was kind enough to spend a few minutes dabbing the stains out with a soap-soaked napkin. It was a miracle!

We also ordered a third side dish called German potatoes. We didn't really know what that was except that it was a hashbrown of some sort. It was the worst dish we ordered. Essentially it was over-cooked (aka black) pieces of potatoes. Ugh. I don't know how people can eat it. However, we complained and we were given another dish (free, of course). So considering the exorbitant prices, we were pleased with their service.

After our huge meal, we were still able to enjoy some desserts. Two orders of creme brulee and sorbets!! It was a perfect way to end our meat-fest. Note: The creme brulee tasted even more delicious when dipped with the whipped cream.

And we also scored some useful after-dinner festivity locations from the waiter! We walked over a few blocks to Mercury bar to enjoy more good company and booze.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

2008 US Open Qualifying Tournament

As posted on the US Open website, the qualifying tournament precedes the actual tournament and allows ordinary tennis players to vie for a chance for the $1 million dollar prize. I've been to this event many years ago and it was a refreshing difference from watching the tennis matches from stadiums and even on television. For the first part, there are no household name players (obviously) so you have no obligation to root for the favorite - just enjoy the sheer joy of tennis. Secondly, we get to be *this* close to the players! We literally walk right next to the net and you can almost feel the speed of the ball swish by you. The raw competition of the game is intense.

During the week of the qualifying tournament, you might get a chance to see tennis players practicing on the open cours. In the past, I've also seen some bigger names in tennis practice. Much to my delight, I've seen Serena Williams, Andre Agassi and Justin Henin up close and personal.

Best of all, the qualifying event is FREE and open to the public. For more information on US Open tickets, click here.


Can't wait for the US Open to begin? Then get a head start on the action at the home of the US Open, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, by coming out to the 2008 US Open Qualifying Tournament -- one of the largest tennis tournaments in the U.S. -- with $1 million in prize money.

Held free to the public from Tuesday, August 19, to Friday, August 22, the US Open Qualifying Tournament consists of 128 men and 128 women competing for the final 32 entries (16 men and 16 women) in the 2008 US Open.

Numerous players in the US Open qualifying event have posted strong results in the main draw the year they qualified, including Benjamin Becker, Andy Murray and Vania King. Other players -- such as Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian and Anna Kournikova -- have gone on to enjoy impressive professional careers.

The 2008 US Open Qualifying Tournament kicks off a week of free tennis events at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that culminates with Arthur Ashe Kids' Day presented by Hess, on Saturday, August 23, and the fifth annual US Open Practice on Sunday, August 24.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Summer Olympics in Beijing - Opening Ceremony

Fireworks explode over the National Stadium during the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium on August 8 in Beijing. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

A dancer performs during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Drummers perform during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

The Olympic rings are illuminated during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How I Made My Diaper Cake

Here are pictures of my first attempt to make a diaper cake - with the HUGE help from Laura and Sue. For those of you who are wondering what a diaper cake is....let me explain. It consists of rolled up diapers to look like a fancy wedding cake. Diaper cakes are usually given to mommies-to-be at baby showers. What better way to celebrate a newborn but with a CAKE that can't be eaten?

I got my ideas from watching different youtube videos and here is my variation.

Ingredients that we used:

One bag of Stage 1 Huggies Diapers for 8-14 pound babies
A bag of rubber bands in various sizes
Baby bottle (filled with jelly bean candies or any candy)
Cardboard circular base wrapped in decorative paper
Ribbon (we used three different colors)
Decorative Accessories such as baby bibs, stuffed animal topper, Johnson & Johnson products, silk flowers, baby rattles.

Step 1: Start out by rolling the diapers into a tight log. Secure with rubber band.

Here are what the diaper logs look like.

Step 2: Once you have finished rolling the diapers, place the bottle in the center. We filled it with candy to act as a the core of the cake. Place a rubber band around the bottle and start to encircle the bottle with the diaper logs. After you do the first circle, place another rubber band and repeat to create a second layer. This picture has three layers.

Step 3: Create a second tier to the cake by placing enough diaper logs to make the core. Place another rubber band around the bunch and create a second layer of the second tier. This will cover the baby bottle.

Step 4: We made a third tier to the cake and placed a stuffed pink bear as the topper. Any toy or stuffed animal will work depending on the theme of the cake! We actually wanted to put another baby bottle on top of the first one which can serve as vase for a silk flower topper.

Step 5: This is the fun part! We used the ribbons to cover the rubber bands and even made a decorative bow in the middle tier. We stuck silk flowers on the bottom tier of the cake and put the baby bibs in the back of the cake (not shown). In addition, we placed the baby rattles and Johnson & Johnson products around the cake. Feel free to add as many (or little) decorative items as you want!

The best thing about a diaper cake is that it is so easy to make! It took the 3 of us only 30 minutes to complete including making the cardboard base. We only used one bag of diapers but if you wanted to make a larger cake, you could just roll more diapers. And it is up to your creativity to decorate the cake!! There are endless possibilities including using tulle, rolled-up socks to imitate flowers, and wrapping each tier of the cake with a receiving blanket.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Guggenheim Museum

Attention all NYC tourists: the best thing about NYC museums is that they are all free or "pay as you wish" at certain times of the week. And in my quest to revisit all the museums (well, at least all the major ones) for a second or third time...I decided to venture to the Guggenheim Museum on a Friday afternoon. Little did I know that the admission fee is "Pay As You Wish" on Fridays beginning at 5:45 pm. Click here for more information on hours and ticketing.

As a slave to Corporate America, I realized that one of my (few) perks include free admission to NYC museums. And even better, I was able to cut the LONG line of tourists waiting for the 'free' tickets!! I just flashed my corporate identification card (which honestly, I don't think is that distinguishable from an expired employee card) and walked past the security guards. Whoo hoo!

Currently on display until September 28 are the sculptures and paintings by Louis Bourgeois. Honestly, I didn't get some of the pieces....wooden blocks stacked on each other, white washed fences, antique doors, marbled structures. There were also some drawings and sketches but it looked like something my 8 year old cousin could draw. Hmm I also began to wonder if great artists are a little unstable in the mind if this is the result of their creativity. I wasn't too impressed but I enjoyed walking around the Guggenheim Museum. It is an enjoyable museum to visit because the space is spiral shaped and very open. It is a good space for displaying unusual artwork. So far that reason, I will return to the Guggenheim for future exhibits.
Here's a picture taken in the lobby:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Restaurant Review: Caffe Grazie

Caffe Grazie

26 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028

This is a perfect restaurant to visit after a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. We happened to be dining during Restaurant Week - prix fixe meals for $35. The food was delicious and the atmosphere is cozy. We were seated on the first floor and there were lots of small tables but luckily they were able to fit all 7 of us in a round table. Here are some pictures of the food from the prix fixe menu.

Grilled Pear salad with a blue cheese salad.

A watermelon salad sans cheese.

Maryland crabcake with salad

Salmon and pasta. Not very tasty.

Lamb shepard's pie

Dessert - Raspberry sorbet. This was really delicious and sweet. It was much better than the pot of chocolate cream (picture not available).