For The Love Of Roscoe


Renaissance villa houses circa 1850s. Vast array of multi-cultural cuisines. Family-friendly parks and recreational areas. That was my impression of this exuberant Chicago neighborhood when I first set foot upon the four corners of Damen and Roscoe.

Come walk down memory lane with me as I reminisce on one of my favorite outings this summer in the Windy City – right in the heart of Roscoe Village!  


Located 5 miles north of the Loop and occupied by a population of 7000, this swanky yet demure neighborhood has overseen urban development since the mid-19th century and is amassed with yuppie restaurants, art deco shops, wine tasting rooms, and antique consignment stores.


After the Fire of 1871 devastated Chicago and wiped out residential homes and commercial buildings within a 3 mile radius, there was an increase in demand for brick structures, which soon the Chicago River’s North Branch (encompassing Roscoe Village and neighborhoods within its vicinity) began filling up with brickyards and clay pits. One of my favorite architectural designs is the Edwardian houses built in the early 1900s.  Similar to the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco, the industrial craft is marked by masculinity-infused frameworks modeled after Italian facades and rooflines. In the residential area off the main street, Queen Anne homes align the sidewalks basking in the glory of intricate details filled with opulent turrets, bay windows, and embellished post frames.


Though these well-crafted buildings were a sight for my sore eyes, I was even more amused by the multitude of ethnic cuisines offered within that 6-block radius. From Turkish lamb begendi at Turquoise Cafe to the decadent Ropa Vieja (tender shredded beef cooked in salsa criolla) at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, the sky is the limit when it comes to filling up the growling tummy. Not to mention the pink, yellow, and blue chairs outside Costello’s (namely known for the iconic “Spicy Roscoe” — who wouldn’t want pepper crusted turkey with capicola and pepper jack cheese on an Italian sub coined after the very street it sits on?) Or how about some kung-pao chicken tacos at Si Fu, where you will be greeted with not just “Xie Xie” or “Gracias”, but also a slew of Confucious men with v-line goatees? If you ever do tumble upon there, make sure you specify which hot sauce you want, especially when tabasco sauce is not within your dietary radar 🙂 

A jovial expedition filled with sight-seeing and feasting for this happy camper calls for a colorful outfit right? Which is why I doled out my colorful sheath with quivering wavelength designs and styled it with a wide brimmed straw hat. Turquoise and yellow, the two main vibrant colors on my dress (and  a tad bit on my bandeau), matched the exuberance and joy I felt when I walked down streets filled with exquisite flower shops, alfresco dining spots, and most importantly, gleeful companies. Happy eyes, happy tummy, happy heart. Now ain’t that a win-win situation 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena

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Credits: Jason J Photography


Life’s A Carnival (Fulton Market)


As a kid growing up in Bangkok, the flamboyant yet populous capital of Thailand, I’ve always found bells and whistles the Venice of the East has to offer whipped up and exciting. Much like the “concrete jungle” of Uncle Sam, the city is buoyant with bustling street vendors, multicolor cabs, jam-packed night markets, and mega shopping malls. I’ve always thought the phrase “shop ‘til you drop” originated from Thailand, given the ginormous variety of bazaars, shopping complexes, and luxury department stores (later I was disappointed when I found out the term originated from a Lifetime game show in 1991, and that my weak knees from trampling on multiple levels of towering skyscrapers had no solid justification). Ah life, you win some you lose some…


My early childhood days, in all its urban glitz and glamour, felt like a movie reel spinning at its beginning phase, ever so slowly and nonchalantly without care.Weekdays were spent absorbing knowledge in four-walled classrooms and engaging in team sports (where a substantial amount of time was spent on mastering 3-pointers that sadly was to no avail when I started college and “freshman 15” kicked in). On weekends I’d take a summer getaway trip to Bang Saen and delight myself in an assortment of freshly grilled seafood before riding along the beach shore to explore new pebble-ridden grounds. What I love so much about the city, on top of the generous supply of crustaceans and the breezy, immaculate air, is the Bang Saen Walking Street during Ko Pra Sai Wan Lai Festival, which is a merit-making festival where villagers from various places gather to celebrate Songkran (a.k.a Thai New Year). Much like a carnival parading with street parties, folklore music, and circus, the Songkran Festival is a fun-filled time in early April where people in Bang Saen indulge in carefree and joyous beach festivities like water-throwing, folk sports, and building sand stupas. It’s the time when people set aside their worries and step away from their daily chores to become one with the jovial ambience around them — vastly colorful, exhilarating, and fun! Speaking of colors, little children will run the gamut with blue, purple, and pink dyes that are mixed with baby powder, which *Beware* they will chase after you for the mere satisfaction of smearing multi-colored goo on your face. Take it from the Skittles’ mantra — see the rainbow, taste the rainbow!


Without a doubt I miss those memorable times running down the roundabout streets with a water gun and a face full of baby powder, finding amusement in my diversion only to be chased around by street dogs marking their territories. So this past weekend when I drove by this graffiti-engraved building that housed a Latin fusion restaurant called Carnivale, I knew right then and there this was my next photo shoot.  Along the I-90 and nestled in the Fulton Market neighborhood, this vividly distinct little gem brought me back to my early childhood days with its vibrantly hued vertical stripes and bacopas in hanging baskets. To not take away any visual credits from the vicinity, I chose a flowy black dress with mid-riff cutouts that gave this simple LBD a subtle edge. My accessories were in tandem with the colors on the wall–a mustard & teal tribal necklace from Thailand (read about it HERE), red Ferragamo pumps with rose gold heels, and Phillip Lim Pashli satchel in bright orange hue!



Life’s a Carnival when you’re having fun. So light up the art deco walls. Turn up the marimba. And put on those heels. Let’s dance! 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena  images


Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo (similar here); Bag: Phillip Lim Pashli Satchel; Dress: Forever 21 (similar here); Sunglasses: Prada

Credits: Jason J Photography


Mickey Blue Eyes (Hyde Park)

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.” – Audrey Hepburn

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A German theoretical physicist once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. Knowledge, in all its theoretical facts and tactile findings, is limited to what we know and understand. Imagination, on the other hand, embraces the entire world and its cosmic novelties and pursues after what will be to know and understand. As a logic-centric person working in Finance, having to meander through facts and figures on a daily basis, there’s very little room for imagination. Mind you, few are the nuances in creating pivot tables and executing formulas. So other than fine-tuning my creative senses with Feline Creatures as a writing outlet (journalism school was a route once untaken), I gravitate towards museum exhibits and art galleries for aesthetically-stimulating finds that evoke and funnel my imagination.

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Living in Chicago, where there’s a myriad of historical and cultural attractions every week, is a blessing given my post-TGIF itineraries are never bland nor idle. I had a fun and insightful experience this week at the Museum of Science and Technology located in the Hyde Park district. Boasting as the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, which features over 2,000 state-of-the-art exhibits displayed in 75 major halls, the museum was like a mass educational playground. Want to know what’s at the bottom of a mine shaft? Visit the full-size replica coal mine exhibit. A marine aficionado? Take a look at the German submarine (U-505) seized during World War II. Want to know how commodities are shipped from the Midwest through the Plains States and Rockies to its final destination in the Pacific Northwest? Watch the miniature trains pedal on a 3,500-square-foot model railroad from Seattle to Chicago. Or be cosmically inquisitive like me and pace through the Apollo 8 spacecraft exhibit, only to be in awe of the apparatus that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon (it still amazes me how one can defy gravity and float in space. I guess on Earth we call that skydiving on a trampoline).

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As a fan of the iconic Mickey Mouse donned in white gloves and red shorts, I couldn’t pass up the “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives”. The exhibition brought to life Disney’s imagination and artistry with nearly 300 artifacts including clips of Walt Disney’s pre-Mickey animated works (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit anyone?), and props and costumes in feature films like Pirates of the Caribbean. We watched the visionary concepts blossom from sketches to inked paintings to black and white films to its first animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was tried and tested on Disney’s revolutionary multi-plane film camera. My trip came to a creative halt when my drawing skills were put to the test at the Disney Academy, suitable for kids and kiddish adults like me who learned how to draw Disney characters with a trained illustrator (white-gloved esprit de corps aside, I conjured up a decent sketch of Donald Duck!)

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Life is short and sweet, so why not put on those Mickey ears, unwind the clock for two decades, and have some fun relishing in those beloved Disney memories? 🙂

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Xoxo~ Lena

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Shirt: H&M// Pants: Hudson// Glasses: Prada// Bag: Louis Vuitton// Sweater: Zara

Credits: Jason J Photography

Make it Pop! (Portage Park)

“Nothing is more memorable than an aromatic smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.” – Diane Ackerman

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Late August, that fleeting phase in summer when breezy wind garners coolness as it seeps through lavish meadows and neighborhoods. Those moments when a budding flower dilly-dallies in it effervescent glow, basking in the summertime heat before bidding adieu to the last glimpse of warmth and sunshine. Though glorious and short-lived, my summer in Chicago was filled with journeys ventured through neighborhoods distinct in historical architecture and cultural flair. From the 1800’s renaissance villas in Roscoe Village, to the opulent stone-clad mansions in Gold Coast, the mass history behind the rudimentary framework and preservation of human-scaled architecture is notably rich and revered. The Windy City is filled with little trinkets of adventure readily available to be discovered by locals and tourists alike, and though momentary and fleeting it may be, summer has conjured up the opportunity for me to put on my “Feline Creatures” traveling shoes and explore little hidden gems to share with you, one lucid story to another 🙂

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Concrete buildings and stone-cobbled floors aside, I’d like to sidestep the bustling city today and bring you to a lush green estate called Portage Park. Marked as the “Villa District of Irving Park”, this 37-acre recreational area was created by Clarence Hatzfeld who’s known for designing the Prairie and Craftsman-style bungalows in this residential area four miles north of the Loop. The name was coined from nearby routes used by Native Americans and fur traders to portage their canoes between the DesPlaines and Chicago Rivers. Did you know that Portage Park got its bearings as a water sport advocate? Yes in 1960 a new pool was built for the Pan American Games, and in 1972 the park hosted the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, where Gold Medalist Mark Spitz set new world’s records. Walking past the lush landscaping and prairie-style field houses, I came across the Nature Walk area surrounded by white flagstone and florals. Reminiscent of the Rock House, there were still seats throughout the half circle structure of the cobbled entrance. Simple yet vivid in historical flair, I sat in silence and watched the bees humming in a near distance. Ponder as I sat. Zen as I was.

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In my outfit today I wanted to resonate with the effervescent state of mind I was in and how it contrasted with my surrounding. Though the garden was primitive and simple, much like my black and white billowy trousers, my thoughts were brimmed with new, creative ideas. Glowing. Nascent. Uninhibited. In essence like the robust intensity of my orange top. I chose this outfit because I wanted to reflect on the last days of summer, one statically filled with brilliance, warmth and adventures yet to be taken. Given my pants were minimal in design, which make it a great pairing item with other loud colors like blood orange and fuchsia pink, I worked in this top to keep it the focal point of my ensemble. Shoes were neutral, and bags were basic colors of black and white. There you go, the last fleeting days of summer, make it POP!

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Xoxo~ Lena

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Top: H&M// Pants: Francesca’s// Shoes: Nine West// Bag: Marc Jacobs// Sunnies: Prada// Bracelet: Boutique in Bangkok

Credits: Jason J Photography

If You Don’t Swing, Don’t Ring! (Gold Coast)

Chicago during the summer time is phenomenal. The glistening sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, the alfresco dining spots in Lincoln Park along Clark Street, and the festive musical events by Grant Park..these are a few things that I adore the most about the Windy City. Amongst all these roly-poly activities sure to fill up anyone’s to-do list for the weekend, my favorite venture when Saturdays comes around (like a girl in baby blue headband waiting for the clock to chime) is exploring the various neighborhoods in Chicago. From Little Athens in West Loop (where the Greek signage on the local Walgreens’ drugstore marks the beginning of Greektown), to Little Italy by Taylor Street (where lines form outside Mario’s Italian Lemonade for frosty to-go Italian ices ), there isn’t one neighborhood that’s an outcasted Lone Ranger sans its own uniqueness or appeal. 


So in the wake of the high 70’s weather we’ve been blessed with this past weekend, I decided to put my travel cap on and explore the vivid Gold Coast neighborhood in Chicago. We took advantage of the beautiful estates nestled in this quaint neighborhood for our photo shoot, which was highly enjoyable amidst taking in the beautiful architectural designs of the buildings, not to mention finding amusement in patting the little canines wagging their tails when strolling by with their owners. The pictures were mainly taken outside the original Playboy Mansion, which is the 70-room classical French brick and limestone residence with a brass plate on the door that reads “Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare,” or, “If you don’t swing, don’t ring”.


To be in tandem with the nonchalant and whimsical sightings along State Street, I’ve decided to dress for the occasion — my French Bulldog T with black and red sequins with a pair of baroque print crop pants. I wanted to play off this light-hearted appeal by pairing colorful earrings from Kenya (thanks to my girl Mintza), black sequined Sperrys, and a navy bohemian bag with gold details. Green tea frap from Starbucks cooled us down while awaiting the golden moments to capture and showcase to you….drumroll….wait for it….one of Chicago’s darling neighborhoods!

P.S. We’ve heard that the mansion’s basement, Hefner’s original “grotto”, had a swimming pool with a glass wall. If only google translate wasn’t so handy, we would have definitely ignored the Latin inscription and swing-ed and ring-ed it! 🙂

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Xoxo~ Lena


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Credits: Jason J Photography

Child’s Play (Lincoln Park)

“Recall the fondest token, by early childhood earned, the spell of years is broken, the sweets of knowledge learned. Bring back the golden beaming, of childhood’s hopes and fears, bring back the silver gleaming, of early gleeful years.” – Louis N. Crill


Lately I’ve been very reminiscent of my childhood years in Thailand. Those early mornings waking up to reverberating chimes at the Buddhist temple amidst car horns blaring through the alleyways. Those summery nights spent at the bustling night markets along Sukhumivit Road with a vast array of little trinkets for any girl to shop at her heart’s delight. Weekends were filled with fun activities like strolling through the Chatuchak Sunday Market, where antique collectors gather to talk about their recent finds, or enjoying a relishing picnic at the King Rama IX Royal Park with a beautiful view of botanical gardens.



Those were the moments full of wonders, happiness and good cheer; no care in the world was given to worrying about tomorrow because the present was our state of mind. No concerns about the repetitious daily grind as life was surrounded by loved ones willing to share the burdened weight on those shoulders. Come to think about it, as an adult we oftentimes get carried away with running this so-called “life’s marathon” that we forget to slow down to take a breather. Life’s like a 5-course meal…you don’t go through the motion of gorging down your meal from hors d’oeuvre to dessert without relishing the fine ingredients. It takes a snippet of thyme and a smidge of saffron to spark up your entrées. So make those tiny moments count…grab a drink with some childhood friends to reflect on those golden days. Go to a park and watch the little ones run through the playground (and join them in their merriment).



In my photoshoot I wanted to re-visit those childhood days by joining the happy campers at the Lincoln Park playground full of colorful slides and swings. My ensemble was garnished by this prismatic crop top that brought out my jovial side, and the colorful Forever 21 necklace in nude pink helped reinforce the concept of “youthfulness”. And to finish this look I brought out my favorite Tory Burch coral clutch to keep all my essentials in place. Given its effervescent glow, coral can be a great add-on to a neutral ensemble, or if you feel bold and mighty for the day, don a head-to-toe sheath! Check out Coralating Matters on how to dress in this summer’s hottest hue!


In a nutshell “all the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust”. So let’s give Peter Pan a run for his money and cast out those sprinkles that’ll take us back to those childhood days. Do something beautiful and magical…there’s got to be more to life than Tinker Bell’s pots and kettles right?

Xoxo~ Lena

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Top: Nordstrom// Pants: Hudson// Shoes: Aldo// Bag: Tory Burch// Necklace: Forever 21

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Credits: Jason J Photography

She’s An Old Town Girl (Old Town)

From contemporary residential developments in South Loop to historic rowhouses laden with old school charm in Gold Coast, the Windy City has a plethora of buildings that are as equally diverse in architectural character as they are historically amusing. Putting on my “Lena the Explorer” hat this weekend, I came across a robust neighborhood in the heart of Chicago that pioneers some of the city’s earliest structural forms. Driving north on Wells street from the bustling shopping mecca in Gold Coast to the scintillating Second City theater on North Avenue, I came across Old Town Triangle District, a neighborhood with a unique set of architectural designs embodied by small frame worker’s style cottages and red brick houses with white patios.

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What used to be marshlands settled in the 1850s by Catholic immigrants from Germany has turned into a grub hub infused with Italian trattorias, French bistros, and American sports bars (good ol’ hot wings with German stouts). As I walked down the stone-cobbled floors past restaurants, salons, and boutique shops, I was amazed by the knowledge that Old Town was one of the 7 districts that withstood the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Wooden-framed doors and panels were seldom used as rudimentary support for construction, which was why brick and stone used to construct Victorian-era rowhouses and apartments post the conflagration remain the signature building blocks of Old Town. Not to mention how standalone unique it is in defying the Chicago grid system (by which addresses relate to distances from a particular downtown intersection) and is on the national register of historic places. Nifty I must say!

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There were 2 renowned landmarks in Chicago that I was *again* amazed by their grandeur architectural designs. The first is Moody Church, which features a few structural feats like Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, a non-pillar auditorium, and a pair of “movie” screens in the sanctuary that are currently the tallest in the US (IMAX officially de-throned). The second is the Chicago History Museum, which resonates with the 1932 Federal-style structure clad in limestone and red brick. With exhibition galleries exploring both Chicago and American History, from American conflicts over freedom in the span of 1850s to 1970s, to Abraham Lincoln alcoves highlighting the late President’s rise to leadership and his remarkable feats during the Civil War, the discoveries were amusing and rewarding, synonymous to the abundance of neighborhood insights attained while touring Roscoe Village a few miles west of Old Town (HERE).

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My journey ended with a photo shoot in the vicinity, where I styled a black silk button-down shirt with a pair of flowy colorful shorts from Marshalls. With my outfit I wanted to emulate the flamboyant character of Old Town — one that I’ve come across as both visually stimulating and diverse in its architectural flair. Uptown Girl step aside, the Old Town muse has arrived 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena

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Top: Banana// Shorts: Marshalls// Boots: BP// Bag: March Jacobs// Shades: Prada

Credits: Jason J Photography

Street Lights. Bright Lights. Neon Lights. Flashing Lights (New York)

The city that never sleeps, as vibrantly fun and animated as it is during the AM, is a sight for sore eyes comes dusk and into the wee hours. As the sun sets along the horizon and casts its golden glow on the Hudson River, the Manhattan skyline is embossed against a prismatic background — radiant yellow against a flickering red overcasting the sky’s pastel blue. We were greeted with such visually stimulating sceneries as we set sail on the Harbor Lights cruise along the 315-mile watercourse that took us around Battery Park, up the East River, past the Brooklyn Bridge, and voyaged by the Statue of Liberty where we stood in amazement of Lady Libertas and her neoclassical glamor.


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Designed in 1886 by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence, the 151 feet tall green patina statue garnered with a torch of progress, a tablet of law, and broken chains at her feet symbolizing American liberty, is a quintessential icon of freedom and a welcoming signal to immigrants, reminiscent of the 25 million that entered through the Port of New York and Ellis Island in the late 1800s. From afar, the towering sky-scrapers dominated by the Chrysler Building and the World Financial Center looked like minuscule lego blocks scaling the peak over one another, eventually fading into the background as a slew of dark statues casting shadows on glistening tides. Quite the contrary to New York City’s animated vibe, the city at that moment felt quiet…still…and tranquil.

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After our 90 minute cruise was over and we set foot again on Pier 83, we continued our journey back east where we found ourselves in the heart of Koreatown by 7th and 32nd street. We had the delectable meal of budae jjigae (spicy soup topped with ramen, rice cakes, kimchi, spam, beef, and mushrooms) and watermelon soju (who knew you could cut a watermelon in half, hollow out the middle, and fill it to the rim with watermelon juice, sprite and soju?) Though incomparable to local favorites like Cho Dang Gol, the overall food was satisfying to our taste buds and our growling tummies were happy after a hearty meal 🙂


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Of course our night didn’t end until the clock strikes 12 (more like 2 hours post the chime), so we took a leisure stroll through Times Square where grounds were trampled by a sea of people, the sky was permeated with vivid images and vibrant hues (lovechild of American consumerism and mass marketing), and the streets filled with yellow cabs inching their way through traffic. There were all forms of scintillating glow and glare in a 4-5 blocks radius on 42nd street. Mr West had it right. Street lights. Neon lights. Flashing lights. Cop lights. Such multi-colored hues, together with the pulse-pumping noise set forth by local artists, street vendors, and blazing horns, brought a new sense of energy to my drained body. In a brief flash of a moment I felt livened, rejuvenated, and free. In contrast to our Harbor Lights Cruise that resonated with standstill Zen moments along the Hudson River, we were embraced with the intrinsic nature of Manhattan — fun, thrilling, and boisterous! For the city that never sleeps, I think with all its commercial gadgets and gizmos New York has won its title hands down as the “World’s Biggest Urban Playground”. I’ll call dibs on the yellow tire swing please 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena

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New York I Love You!

Day 2 in the Big Apple started off with us taking the C train to 8th and 50th street right in the heart of East Village, which is a neighborhood known for its artistic flair and ethnic cuisines. Little did I know that East Village has many noteworthy feats — the inspiration for Andy Warhol’s 1966 multimedia show “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”, the birthplace of punk rock and Nuyorican literacy movement, and the setting for Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent (which captures the neighborhood’s social dilemmas in the early ’90s). Walking a few blocks north of Astor Place is the trendy ramen joint Ippudo NY where we enjoyed delectable Akamaru Tonkotsu ramen served with Nitamago and Bakudan spicy paste. Such mouth-watering goodness!

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After enjoying our totemo oishii lunch, we walked west towards Greenwich Village where we found ourselves in the midst of Washington Square Park. Underneath the marble triumphal arch (built in 1892 in commemoration of George Washington), we took in the vast sceneries before us — a gathering place for avant-garde artists…a parade ground for musical enthusiasts…a battling domain for chess enthusiasts. Now if only I knew how to checkmate a king 🙂

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From Japanese eateries to historical monuments comes our final destination for the day — the fashionable shopping district of Soho! This “shop-til-you-drop” mentality was infused in the neighborhood in Lower Manhattan where mainstream stores like Topshop and Zara and trendy upscale boutiques like Chanel and YSL are dispersed amongst artists’ lofts and art galleries. Consisting of 26 blocks and 500 buildings, the gentrification of Soho can be seen in its business developments from an industrial wasteland in the ’50s to modern, decorative facades filled with commercial buildings. Though the exchange of greenbacks changed from textiles and sweatshops to fashion boutiques in favor of très à la mode, the original blueprint and flair marked by cast-iron architecture and side streets paved with Belgian block constructed in the mid 1800’s are still very much present in Soho.

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Walking east on Spring street from Thompson to Mulberry, we eventually found ourselves in Little Italy, home to dozens of restaurants serving authentic Italian cuisines. As the 19th and 20th century Italians immigrated to the Lower East Side, they brought with them the arts and aptitude of running bistros, trattorias, pastry shops and souvenir stores filled with ethnic wares. We treated ourselves to a cherry and hazelnut blend (think Nutella minus the chocolate but filled with cherry amaretto) that was euphorically delightful to our taste buds.

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In a nutshell Day 2 in NYC has been remarkably entertaining! From slurping ramen in East Village to shopping in Soho, the sight-seeing expedition in the Big Apple has not only been scenically rewarding but also bona fide educational (who knew that the cannoli, an Italian pastry with Sicilian origin was once made using a broomstick?) Stay tuned for my next post as I’ll be giving you a run-down of my Harbor Light Cruise along the Hudson River and the best place for watermelon soju (for you K-Town aficionados out there)!

Xoxo ~ Lena

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Empire State of Mind (New York)

“New York. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do…” – Alicia Keys


So vivid and forthright are such depictions of the Big Apple. Whether you are a financial maverick on Wall Street or an aspiring artist in swanky Greenwich Village, the city is full of dreams, aspirations, and pursuits of the young and the restless. That thriving energy accompanied us as we took our first step onto the city’s concrete pavements and checked into the Gershwin Hotel in the trendy Flatiron District. Designed by William H. Birkmire in an ethereal Beaux Arts style, the hotel has its a vintage decor that epitomizes the neighborhood’s artsy flair (not to mention a few blocks away from the fashion boutiques on 5th avenue). Taking a stroll through the nearby Madison Square Park filled with lush green lawns and World’s-Fair style benches, I was welcomed by the Dog on Fleas band playing a ragtag mix of instruments including piccolo, bassoon, accordian, and saxophone. Such remarkably soothing music reverberated through the criss-cross streets of Broadway and 5th avenue, where I spent the afternoon joining the multitude of passers-by in pursuit of my journey, one asphalt-laden street to the other.



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From Flatiron to Gramercy to Chelsea, we eventually found ourselves searching for Spanish Tapas in the High Line region. As we approached the Socarrat Paella Bar by 8th Avenue, we were immediately drawn to the sultry, vintage decor filled with high top chairs and Spanish antiques. The Pescados & Mariscos Paella was muy delicioso, as the vast array of basa fish, shrimp, cuttlefish, mussels and scallops marinated in squid ink was unique yet appetizing to our taste buds. Taking a leisurely stroll on 9th avenue, we eventually found ourselves in the Chelsea Market. Food for thought, did you know that the market was built in the former National Biscuit Company factory where Oreo cookies were invented and produced? Though traces of the chocolate and creme patties are no longer present in Chelsea Market, the enclosed food haven houses some of the city’s finest eateries like the Fat Witch Bakery (custom Marvel superhero cupcakes) and Lobster Place (from 1.50 lb steamed lobsters to scallop and bacon chowder ). Our food expedition ended with desserts at Amorino, where we had the signature Amarena gelato (aka Sour Cherry) which is a bitter cherry harvested in Central Italy that’s used as flavoring for sweetened pastries.



From the afternoon in Manhattan parks to shopping on 5th avenue, right down to Chelsea for spanish tapas and Italian gelato, Day 1 in NYC has been filled with non-stop fun and adventure! I wonder what Day 2 has to offer? Stay tuned, my friends, as I’ll be updating my ensuing journey in the Big Apple, one whose ripened core is filled with cosmopolitan flair and splendor! 🙂

Xoxo~ Lena

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