Tag Archive: travel


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Since the induction ceremony was held at the Barclays Center, I seized the opportunity to investigate one of Brooklyn’s most sought after neighborhoods, Park Slope. Fifth Avenue is filled with great restaurants, bars, and shops, while the side streets are lined with gorgeous restored brownstones. Some of my favorites are:

Elpollito Mexicano

Delicious guacamole made fresh right at your table, scrumptious carnitas, and very spirited margaritas!

Cog and Pearl

Exquisite boutique featuring locally handmade items.

Enz’s

Fun and flirty retro-style dresses.

McMahon’s Public House

New Irish bar located strategically for a Barclays Center after party!

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The following day, I had some time to explore the East Village before I had to head back to South Jersey. The first pic is of a mural of the late Joe Strummer from the punk rock band, the Clash. It was recently redone and is displayed at the corner of Avenue A and 7th Street at the Niagara Bar. The second pic is one the street lights along the Mosaic Trail on St Mark’s Place. Some of my top picks in the East Village are:

Physical GraffiTea

Quaint little tea shop on St Mark’s Place with thirst-quenching iced hibiscus tea.

La Sirena

Charming Mexican folk art shop on 3rd Street at 2nd Avenue.

Dallas BBQ

Yummy BBQ right on the corner of St Mark’s Place and 2nd Avenue with great outdoor seating!

Please feel free to share any places you like to visit while in Park Slope or the East Village in the comments section. Always remember to savor every experience and make every day an adventure!

Thanks for stopping by!

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NOLA wrap up

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I just returned from a fantastic trip to New Orleans…the weather was hot…the food was hotter…and the music was hottest! I would like to share some of my guilty pleasures from this wonderfully decadent city…

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NOLA CHILL

Relaxation is just a way of life down in the Big Easy, and I find the Garden District to be one of the most tranquil parts of the city. To get there from the French Quarter, head north on Royal Street and cross over Canal Street – Royal becomes St Charles Ave. – and hop on the historic St. Charles Street Car. The most picturesque houses are located between Jackson and Washington Avenues. When finished your leisurely stroll, be sure to visit one of NOLA’s Cities of the Dead, Lafayette Cemetery #1, whose entrance is right on Washington Ave. One of the city’s oldest cemeteries, it is also featured in several movies, including Interview With a Vampire and Double Jeopardy. To finish a relaxing afternoon, stroll down Magazine Street for some of New Orleans’ best shopping.

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NOLA SPLURGE

These gorgeous earrings from ReStrung Jewelry are made from recycled guitar strings! They were an amazing and unique find at the French Market in the French Quarter. Owner Naomi Celestin creates these beauties from strings donated by local musicians and also donates a portion of her sales to the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation. Here is ReStrung’s website for more info or to purchase:

ReStrung Jewelry

If you are interested in local handicrafts, a great place to shop is Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op, on 912 N. Peters Street, just south of the famous Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter. Another fun place to peruse the work of local artisans is the Frenchmen Art Market, on 619 Frenchmen Street – right next to The Spotted Cat – in the Marigny just south of the French Quarter. It is a wonderful outdoor grassroots evening market and is open Thursday through Saturday from 7 PM to 1 AM and on Sunday from 6 PM to midnight.

Dutch Alley
Frenchmen Art Market

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NOLA YUM

If you leave New Orleans hungry, shame on you! This city truly has some of the best food. My favorite breakfast spot is The Ruby Slipper Cafe on 200 Magazine Street in the CBD. Their Bananas Foster Pain Perdu is life changing! For dinner, I like Oceana on 739 Conti Street (between Royal and Bourbon) for their Crabcakes and Ralph & Kacoo’s on 519 Toulouse Street (between Decatur and Chartres) for their blackened shrimp.

The Ruby Slipper Cafe
Oceana
Ralph & Kacoo’s

If you happen to be walking by 334 Decatur Street and are completely overcome by the delicious wafting aroma of freshly made caramel, it is pointless to resist. Stop in Southern Candymakers and allow yourself to indulge in the best pralines and turtles the city has to offer!

Southern Candymakers

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NOLA JAM

The best place to listen to original music in New Orleans is Frenchmen Street in the very bohemian Marigny section of the city. To get there from the French Quarter, head south on Decatur and you will run right into Frenchmen after you pass Esplanade Ave. This three block stretch of music clubs has a refreshingly mellow vibe and lacks any of the tackiness of Bourbon Street. I really liked both TheSpotted Cat and DBA. The Spotted Cat, on 623 Frenchmen Street, is an intimate music club that features funky jazz and roots music every night. I enjoyed a fun performance by the newly formed Dr. Sick & the Late Greats and some spontaneous swing dancing by some very talented locals. Shows start nightly at 6 PM and 10 PM. DBA, on 618 Frenchmen Street, is a larger club with a huge beer selection and large stage area, perfect for jamming to the fabulous Treme Brass Band.

The Spotted Cat
DBA

The best place to take home some local music is The Louisiana Music Factory on 210 Decatur St. They have an extensive collection of local jazz, blues, zydeco, and any other genre you can imagine. The staff is both knowledgable and friendly.

Louisiana Music Factory

I hope you have enjoyed my New Orleans wrap up. Please feel free to share a comment on anything you particularly love in the Crescent City. Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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Most of my truly great ideas usually begin with Pearl Jam. To say that I am a PJ fan would be a bit of an understatement – I am actually more of a PJ freak. I have been loving their music, seeing their shows, and following them around since Ten was released in 1991. So when Eddie Vedder’s solo tour was postponed from the spring, I decided to ditch the cold NJ weather, and head south to Ft Lauderdale to see rescheduled 11/30 show. I also decided to use the rest of my vacation days to rent a car and drive down to Key West to chill after the concert.

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I arrived in Ft Lauderdale on Friday morning to balmy & breezy weather. I took a lovely walk along the beach to relax before heading to Eddie’s show. The above photo shows an amazing fish sculpture on Las Olas Blvd & the beach, made completely of plastic water bottles!

I wanted to grab a bite before the show. Since it was a Friday evening, most places were packed. With my tummy rumbling, I stumbled upon Squiggy’s NY Style Pizza . It is a run down hole in the wall kinda place right in the middle of the downtown area. Anyone who was born & raised in NJ is very discriminating about pizza, and Squiggy’s did not disappoint. The slices were huge, the crust was thin & crispy, and there was just the right amount of cheese. My friend & I managed to snag the only table in the place (most people either stand & eat at the counter or order to go); open pizza boxes were used as tablecloths! Squiggy’s also serves beer ($3 domestic & $4 import bottles), so we just stayed there talking to the owner & enjoying the colorful cast of characters strolling in for a slice until it was time for the show. Squiggy’s is located at 207 Southwest 2nd Street, near all of the bars. It is also walking distance to the night’s destination, Broward Center for Performing Arts.

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This is the third time I have seen Eddie’s solo show. He plays small venues for a more intimate experience (this particular theater seats about 2,800). It is also a very casual affair – there is no backing band – just Eddie with his acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, or ukulele. This show was 2 hours & 20 minutes of sheer awesomeness! He played several tunes from his Ukulele Songs CD, including Tonight You Belong to Me – a sweet duet with special guest Chan Marshall. He also jammed on several songs with Glen Hansard – my favorite was Society from his Into the Wild CD. He played just about every other song from that amazing soundtrack, including his finale of Hard Sun. The set list also included Better Days (from Eat, Pray, Love), the Beatles’ You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (from I Am Sam), and Neil Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World. the night would not be complete without any PJ tunes. Eddie played acoustic versions of Just Breathe & Unthought Known from Backspacer, I am Mine, and the already raw Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. While I am hard pressed to pick my favorite moment of this incredible show, I have declared it a tie between a hauntingly beautiful version of Betterman performed on his mandolin, and an acoustic version of Porch from Ten. The energy of both the crowd and Eddie was just as intense during this stripped down version as it is during a PJ arena show. All in all, a completely amazing experience, and a perfect way to begin a vacation!

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Hit the road early the next morning, taking Route 1 South from Ft Lauderdale all the way to Mile Marker 0. Once you hit the Keys, Route 1 becomes the Overseas Highway, and the ride turns very scenic: classic Florida kitsch and the expanse of beautiful blue waters. Stopped off at Bob’s Bunz (Mile Marker 81 on Isla Morada) for breakfast. The portions were generous, the prices were reasonable, and the onsite bakery was scrumptious!

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The Douglas House was so welcoming with its friendly staff and comfortable appointments that I immediately melted into both the adirondack chair on the front porch and that famous Key West vibe. I highly recommend this guesthouse. The location is great – it is right off of Duval Street, but it is closer to Southernmost Point than Mallory Square – making it quiet for sleeping and easily accessible for attractions. The price is also very reasonable. Check out their website if you are planning to stay in Key West:

http://douglashouse.com/

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Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square is a must do! Experience the lively performers – jugglers, flame throwers, street musicians, etc – and shop the local vendors for one of a kind souvenirs. And, of course, stick around for the famous Key West sunset! After, dine on fresh seafood and wash it all down with a cool beer. Since this is Key West, there are many, many choices.

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My favorite meal in Key West was at Blue Heaven (729 Thomas Street in Bahama Village). The place truly lives up to the hype. I opted to go for lunch during the week to avoid the long lines.

Other places I recommend to eat include: Six-Toed Cat (823 Whitehead Street – near Hemingway House) for a hearty breakfast or lunch and Old Town Mexican Cafe (609 Duval Street) for its shrimp & crab burrito and $12 domestic beer buckets.

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If you are in Key West, you must go to Smokin’ Tuna Saloon (4 Charles Street – just off Duval) and see Rusty Lemmons. The crowd at the Tuna is more mellow than the typical Duval scene and the music mix ranges more towards blues, southern rock, classic rock, and alternative country than pop. I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Rusty while I was in Key West, and not only is he an outstanding performer and talented musician/singer/songwriter, but he is also a warm, friendly, genuine person. He brings such soul to his set, whether he is playing If I Had a Boat by Lyle Lovett, Up On Cripple Creek by The Band, or one of his original songs.

These two bars Are notable for their great happy hour specials. The Lazy Gecko (203 Duval Street) has BOGO from 5-8 (5-Midnight on Sunday & Monday). Two Friends Bar (512 Front Street) has half price appetizers (try the conch fritters) and the best slogan on the island: “No greater love than the enduring, tender love…of one drunken friend for another.”

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Since my blog is primarily about jewelry, I decided to round out my little travelogue with some of the treasure I brought back from Key West:

The bright turquoise flower ring at the top of the photo is made from leather and only cost $5 at Toko Indo (513 Duval Street.) This is a great little boutique with fun finds from my favorite place on the planet, Bali.

The sterling silver & blue opal crab pendant is from Local Color (425 Green Street.) The selection of sterling jewelry here is vast, the prices are fair, and the service is friendly without being pushy.

The luminous teal fused glass pendant is a one of a kind find from a vendor at Mallory Square.

The last pendant, a beautiful pink and yellow mandala, was purchased from my favorite boutique in Key West, Wanderlust (310 Petronia Street.) All jewelry is locally made, and all clothing and other fashion accessories are from up & coming indie designers. Definitely check it out next time you are in Key West.

Always remember, when traveling, leave only footprints and take only memories (& a really great piece of locally crafted jewelry!)

Peace, Love & Pearl Jam!
~Erin

treasure hunting, part 1

I have confessed this in a previous post…and I will reiterate here…I am a bonafide jewelry junkie…but not of the little blue box variety. I am also an intrepid traveler and, through the years, I have acquired a few wearable keepsakes to elicit fond memories of those journeys.

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I have been fortunate to travel to Thailand, not once, but twice, to study Thai Massage. I spent most of my time in Chiang Mai, a very bohemian city in the northern, mountainous part of the country. The piece pictured on the left is an antique spirit lock I purchased in a boutique called Sipsong Panna. It is an splendid example of Hill Tribes silver. The Hill Tribes are a collection of nomadic tribes living in the areas surrounding Chiang Mai. Silver jewelry is handmade by the Karen tribe using traditional methods passed down through generations. A spirit lock is a popular motif; it is traditionally worn around the neck to lock the soul (which, in Hill Tribes cosmology, tends to wander) of the wearer into his or her body to maintain physical and spiritual health. When I wear this piece, I tend to feel the same serenity I experienced in my visits to the many Buddhist temples in this beautiful, exotic country.

These earrings were acquired on a trip to Bali, the Island of the Gods. This land is unlike any other. Citizens of Bali treat everyday as if it is a celebration. Their architecture is orate, even on the most humble of buildings; their rice paddies are among the most beautiful in the world; their traditional dances are performed daily; and their fragrant frangipani are blooming everywhere! They are also skilled craftspeople – I purchased these gorgeous filigree earrings in a little village called Celuk. All of this exquisite detail is crafted by hand – just amazing! When I wear them, I feel beautiful…just like hands that created them and the land that inspired them!

The necklace on the right was purchased, not in Southeast Asia, but right here in the United States. In 2010, I was able to go to New Orleans for Jazzfest. On my first day there, I was amazed to see jazz musicians playing on street corners, along with locals & visitors dancing right on Royal Street! I immediately fell in love with the vibrancy of the French Quarter, the beauty of the Garden District, and the onslaught to my senses that is Jazzfest. Five years after Katrina, the city was still rebuilding, but the spirit that is NOLA was strong. I purchase this strand of freshwater pearls from a local artisan at Jazzfest. I love the exclusive fleur de lis design – a symbol, originally of Paris, and now of NOLA. When I wear this necklace, I am reminded of the resilient and dynamic residents of this unique city.

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These delicate silver wire earrings were purchased on a recent trip to Savannah. I happened to stumble upon an art fair shortly after my arrival. I loved everything about Savannah – the charming antebellum architecture, the yummy cuisine, and the artistic spirit. The main college in town is SCAD – Savannah College of Art & Design – and galleries and artist co-ops abound. I often adorn myself with these wearable pieces of local art.

In contrast to the quaintness of Savannah, Atlanta is a thriving metropolis. I just visited this city in September for a music festival. One day I decided to ride the metro and see where it would take me. I ended up in a lovely little town 6 miles east of Atlanta called Decatur. Every cafe, pub, and boutique in the main square is independently owned – so refreshing! I stumbled into a shop that only sells locally made art and crafts and I immediately fell in love with this simple burgundy pendant. It is a copper disc that was stamped with an Eastern pattern (think henna tattoo) and oxidized to this rich color. Such a great piece!

One of my favorite places to visit is Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. I have been there several times, and I am not sure which enchants me more – the bright shining Mexican sun or the sparkling turquoise of the Caribbean Sea. The bottom necklace, purchased on my second trip to PDC, is reminiscent of its vibrancy. The rich Mexican amber perfectly complements the bright turquoise beads and rich brown leather. Muy colorido!

Thank you for indulging me in my trip down memory lane. I hope this post has been an inspiration to get off the beaten path of t-shirts and snow globes when shopping for the perfect memento of your next trip.

I am going to conclude this raid of my jewelry box tomorrow with other treasure that have sentimental value for other reasons…

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