The summer heat has arrived, and that means cooling off with refreshing summer beverages! When I was a kid growing up in southern California, my Mom didn’t keep soda the house. Instead, she made sure that there was always a fresh pitcher of iced tea (with plenty of lemon and sugar) chilling in our refrigerator. This enduring childhood memory is likely a good reason why iced tea remains my go-to summertime beverage when I really need to quench my thirst. The great news for iced tea lovers is that there are so many grab-and-go ways to enjoy iced teas that not only taste great, but are also good for you. Recently, I learned about the health benefits of something called Purple Tea, available in a brand called Kabaki. Representatives sent me a case of Kabaki Kenyan Purple Tea to review for the blog, and now I’d like to share my finding with you.
First off what the heck is Purple Tea? What I learned is that Purple Tea grows high in the valleys and mountain tops of Kenya, and is sourced from the same single plant, Camellia Sinensis, that produces green and black teas. The intense African sun, coupled with cool mountain air, allows ultraviolet rays to deeply penetrate the tea leaves, which have a purple color because they contain super-antioxidants called anthocyanins. This is the same antioxidant found in ‘superfoods’ like Acai berries, Pomegranates and Blueberries.
Do you like shopping? I sure do. Imagine that you own a store, maybe one that sells neat things like those you find on this blog, and you had to shop for cool inventory to sell in your store. Where would you go to find those neat things? Well, one place you can go for your one-stop shop shopping is the Retail RenaissanceNY Now wholesale gift trade show, which features thousands of handmade, home, and lifestyle gift items all under one roof. NY Now takes place at the Javits Center twice annually, in the winter and summer, and it gets exponentially better with each passing seasonal edition. I always have a fun time at NY Now, but the Summer show that just happened in August was mind-blowingly great. Really. Wow.
I tend not to recap my visits to NY Now because it’s massive, and I just end up blogging about a handful of the coolest items spotted on the show floor. But because I had so many great photos this time, I feel compelled to share them with you. Don’t expect much commentary, because this post is mainly about taking you on a little visual journey, but if you have questions about anything in this piece please speak up in the comments and I’ll be sure to address your inquiries!
Summer is now in full swing, and what better way to celebrate summer than with a beach-themed Pink Thing of the Day! These eye-catching Pink and White Striped Beach Balls, each emblazoned with the image of a Pink Flamingo, where spotted as part of a fashion clothing display at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue in NYC!
If you haven’t been out to Coney Island yet to see the Summer Fireworks, then don’t forget that the Friday of Labor Day Weekend is your last chance to experience the magic until they start again next June! So, you must plan your trip right now. Let’s go!
First of all, you should plan to arrive on the scene early enough so that you can get a Hot Dog and some Fries (or whatever else you like to eat) at Nathan’s. There is also a Nathan’s right on the Boardwalk, if you prefer a bumped up level of quality freak watching to that which is available at the original location on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues. The food is equally delicious at either location.
Art Wall By Crash
Don’t forget to stop by the Coney Art Walls, which will be up until October!
Art Wall By Nychos
Art Wall By D*Face
As you stroll along the Boardwalk, stop by this Snow Cone Stand and treat yourself to an additional refreshment!
At the north end of the Boardwalk you’ll find an old fashioned Carousel, for kids of all ages!
And don’t forget to check out the games and other fun attractions!
Even if you are going to pass on checking out any of the Luna Park rides, because you have just eaten at Nathan’s and do not want to barf, it is wonderful just to look at everything when it is all lit up against the night sky. Head out to the sand early and watch all of the action from the beach, while you listen to the delighted screams and shrieks from people on the rides! Wee!
Oh, the beautifulness.
Now it is 9:30 PM, and time for the Fireworks to begin! Lets go to the video!
The full show lasts much longer than 2 minutes, but you get the idea.
And then stop by Williams Candy Shop on the way to the train to pick up a sweet treat to take home! What a fun adventure!
Find out more about the Coney Island Fireworks, as well as other fun stuff to do on your visit, at This Link
Summer doesn’t last forever, especially in NYC, so why not plan to enjoy the nice weather while we have it by spending as much time outside in beautiful places as possible? Just do it!
Maybe you are already a huge fan of Art, but weren’t aware that the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) has a gorgeous, landscaped sculpture garden that provides a relaxing oasis in the center of Manhattan. It’s only open when the weather is nice, so you need to go now.
This is Your Vertical View While Seated Near the Fountain Pictured Directly Above
The Sculpture Garden is named for Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, an American socialite and philanthropist who was the wife of financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. Mrs. Rockefeller was known for being the driving force behind MOMA’s creation. It is nice that they named the sculpture garden for her.
The Garden Has a Few Bubbling Fountains Like This One
There is plenty of seating and shady areas for resting, and they even have a bar where you can buy a coffee or a drink. Here is some of the art that you can see in the garden right now.
This sculpture by Alexander Calder is called Sandy’s Butterfly, and it has a mobile feature at the top. Calder, who went by the nickname Sandy, was most famous for his mobiles.
Columbia Crest Wines Hosted the Bar at Summer Food Fête 2016! (All Photos By Gail. Click on any Image to Enlarge for Detail)
Ah, Summer foods; we love them. Food Fête is the place to find out what’s new in seasonal food trends, and its most recent Summer event, which took place in late June (in tandem with the Summer Fancy Food Show) was no exception. Please enjoy our findings and recommendations!
Columbia Crest Wines added additional festive cheer to the event by supplying wines for the open bar. One of the Northwest’s largest wineries, Columbia Crest, is acclaimed by critics and consumers alike for crafting wines that are food-friendly, approachable, and that consistently over-deliver in quality.
Featured varietals included the 2013 Merlot, 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay, 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2014 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. Attendees at Food Fête also received recommendations and tips for wine / food pairings, which always come in handy for summer entertaining.
Find out more about Columbia Crest Wines added at This Link!
Speaking of grapes, it’s always fun to have Grapes from California in the house. Not only are fresh grapes an ideal simple snack, but these folks always have innovative and delicious recipes to share. This year we were treated to a taste of Fresh Grape Salsa.
You can whip up a batch of this sweet and tangy salsa to accompany a bowl of chips, or you can serve it as a topping for meats or even tuck it inside a grilled cheese sandwich!
Everyone got a jar to take home and enjoy! Get more recipes for and information on Grapes at This Link!
Cypress Grove Chevre has an inspiring backstory in which Mary Keehn, a single mother of four — and self-proclaimed hippie from Humboldt County, California — started a small, artisanal goat cheese making business that has blossomed into a venture boasting 14 cheeses across three distinct product lines! Cypress Grove’s model dairy has also received a 100 Percent humane certification score from the American Humane Association; and when cheese-makers care that much for their animals, you can taste it in the cheese!
Cypress Grove Chevre is award-winning, good for you, creamy and delicious. We enjoyed a sample one of their newest varieties, Truffle Tremor (you can see the little flecks of black truffle right in the cheese. Find out more about Cypress Grove and get amazing recipes at Cypress Grove Chevre Dot Com!
Since 2001, Vega has been a groundbreaker in the plant- based, natural health and performance products industry. From Whole Food Health Optimizer, they’ve expanded to create a range of clean, plant-based nutrition products to help you be better — on your own terms. Whether you want all-in-one nutrition, or only protein and greens, Vega has a nutritional shake for you. You can shake-and-go, or blend up a smoothie to help you start your day better. At Food Fête, everyone had the chance to sample Vega’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie, made with frozen strawberries, banana, coconut milk and Chocolate Protein & Greens powder! You can get lots of information on the Vega product line, plus tons of tasty and healthy recipes at My Vega Dot Com!
Any steak aficionado can tell you that grass fed beef is the way to go, and it just follows that dairy products sourced from grass fed cows also taste way better! Organic Valley is an organic farming cooperate dedicated to bringing its customers healthy and wholesome foods that are farmed in a sustainable way. Their “Grass Milk” (terrific in your morning coffee), yogurt, butter and cheese are all farm fresh and delicious. Find out more about Organic Valley’s products, and meet some of their farming families, at Organic Valley Dot Coop!
Eating lighter in the summer means that salads can be a excellent choice for dinner. Dole, a company once synonymous with Pineapples and Bananas, has been in the bagged salads game for a few years now, and they have introduced three new Salad Kits varieties to make your summer dining even tastier, not to mention (but you can see I am about to) super convenient! Each Kit contains fresh greens and flavorful toppings, tossed with Dole’s own signature dressings, to create distinctive salads that complement any cuisine, or with the addition of a protein such as Tuna or Chicken, stand on their own as a light meal.
Dole’s Caesar Salad Kit contains Romaine Lettuce, Dole’s own Caesar Dressing, Garlic Croutons, and Parmesan Cheese. At the show, the folks at the booth were throwing the Romaine leaves on a little Foreman grill, fun!
Dole Country Ranch Salad Kit contains Romaine, carrots, red cabbage, white cheddar cheese, Dole’s Country Ranch buttermilk dressing, roasted sunflower seeds, and cornbread croutons. This one is especially yummy, and is sure to please the entire family!
Dole Tuscan Salad combines sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and savory seasoning with two heads of fresh mini Romaine and tops them with Dole’s signature Italian Herb Dressing. These Salad Kits will be available in stores starting August 15th! Find out more about Dole Salad Kits at This Link!
Ice Cream lovers did not leave the show disappointed. Brio Ice Cream was created by twin brothers Ron and Arnie Koss who, back in the 80s, created Earth’s Best Baby Food, the first organic baby food brand in the US. Now, the Koss brothers have transformed ice cream into a healthier food with Brio; a totally new way to look at ice cream that scores on both the delicious and nutritious scales.
Made from calcium-rich, pasture-raised, organic whole milk, it’s a luscious way to add protein and omegas to your day. Brio is filled with antioxidants and probiotics, yet it has 35% fewer calories and 50% less fat than super premium ice cream brands. Crazy!
If you think that looks good, wait until you taste it! Everything you could ever want to know about Brio Ice Cream can be found at Brio Loves You Back Dot Com.
Nada Moo Ice Cream brings the flavor to the table for those frozen treat fans who need to go dairy-free, with their top secret, extra creamy, dairy-free coconut milk base. Nada Moo comes is some insanely decadent flavors like Snickerdoodle Dough, Chocolate Cherry Fudge Brownie, Pistachio Nut, Salted Caramel, Creamy Coconut, and Bananas for PB & Chocolate – to name but a few – all made with certified non-GMO ingredients.
Washington State’s own Stemilt Growers had some delicious, just-picked apples to share with us, as well as a new Apple App!
There’s an Apple for That is Stemilt’s fun new app (seen in the photo above) for when you’re asking yourself Gala? Pink Lady? Granny Smith? Each apple variety has its own unique flavor, texture, color and cooking properties. With There’s an Apple for That, you can discover which variety will work best for your next recipe or food pairing!The best part is, you don’t even need a mobile device to use it! I typed “Pork Roast” into the “What Are You Cooking” search entry using a regular desktop PC and was instantly connected to dozens of ideas for cooking pork with apples! So Cool!
Do you like mayonnaise? I sure do, because mayonnaise is awesome. I like to use it instead of butter or margarine to grill the bread for a tasty grilled cheese sandwich. But maybe you are thinking that you wish mayonnaise had less fat, and if that is that case, then I have some good news for you. Blue Plate Light Mayonnaise is the first mayonnaise in the condiment aisle to include Greek Yogurt! This means that it’s half the fat of regular mayonnaise without sacrificing taste!
This exciting Charred Broccoli Salad includes crunchy almonds and sweet dried cherries, and is seasoned with yellow curry powder and ginger before being tossed with a light dressing of olive oil and Blue Plate Light Mayonnaise with Greek Yogurt. What a knock-out side dish for your favorite dinner! Get this and more recipes at This Link, and find out where to buy the Blue Plate Mayonnaise family of products in your neighborhood at Right Here!
Next time you’re looking for a thoughtful gift to send to a friend or loved one, keep in mind that the 1-800-Flowers family also includes terrific vendors like Cheryl’s Cookies and Brownies, Harry and David‘s gourmet gift baskets & towers, and Popcorn Factory‘s delicious popcorn treats! If you’ve never tried Cheryl’s Cookies, you are missing out. At Food Fete, Cheryl’s introduced a fun Cookie Decorating Kit that includes one dozen fresh baked and individually wrapped Cheryl’s Sugar Cookies, two tubs of Cheryl’s legendary luscious buttercream icing, and assorted sprinkles for a custom-decorated cookie experience that will delight the little ones and keep them busy without making a mess.
The Harry and David catalog has been around since I was an egg. Take a look at this cool New York-Inspired Gift Basket filled with extra-thick New York-style cheesecake, chocolate babka, artisan Dulcet cheese, smoked salami, and more! This eclectic assortment also features a New York dishtowel and yellow taxicab cookie. Perfect for anyone who wants to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
The Popcorn Factory has a seemingly endless variety of gourmet popcorn flavors in an equally exhaustive list of themed gift tins and canisters to please anyone on your gift list. Visit This Link, and then just scroll across the tabs at the top of the home page to visit any of these vendors! One-stop shopping indeed!
We want to give a shout out to Bumble Bee Tuna for reminding us that there is a huge difference in quality and taste when it comes to canned seafood, and that Bumble Bee solid white albacore looks as delicious as it tastes! Find out more about how not all tuna is created equal at This Link!
We made some new friends with folks at Clover Dairy, who were promoting their new line of organic Greek yogurt, which is carefully crafted in authentic Greek tradition using fresh Clover Organic Nonfat Milk and the finest premium organic fruits. Silky smooth and mildly tangy, this yogurt has a thick, creamy texture, is packed with calcium and live cultures, and comes in six delicious flavors — with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Based in Petaluma, California, Clover Diary is currently celebrating the brand’s one hundred year anniversary! We could not help but fall in love with Clover Dairy’s adorable cow mascot, Clo, who you can see here dressed in her shiny silver spacesuit as she celebrates the new Moolenium! Hee! Find out more about the Clover Dairy family of organic and natural dairy products at This Link!
Simply Artisan Reserve, a Litehouse brand cheese, has discovered an ingenious use for the tiny cheese crumbles that occur naturally in handling and packaging the cheese, and has introducedSimple Seasons; shake-able cheese crumbles to top salads, dress up snacks, flavor meats and add to anything else that strikes your culinary imagination!
Simple Seasons is available in Feta and Blue Cheese varieties. All cheese, all natural, all the time.
Also, how awesome are these napkins? Answer: so awesome. More info on Simple Seasons from Simply Artisan Reserve can be found at This Link!
Do you like Vietnamese and Thai foods but are too lazy tired after a long day to make these dishes from scratch? Or maybe there are no good Pan-Asian take out places in your hood? I feel you on this. Lemon Grass Kitchen presents a line of frozen entrees based on recipes created by award-winning cookbook author, Chef, and restaurateur Mai Pham, whose family came to America from Saigon in 1975!
Chicken Pad Thai
Lemon Grass Kitchen is the only frozen entrée focused exclusively on southeast Asian flavors. Each package includes a flavorful, better-for-you alternative to take out, made with authentic seasonings and fresh ingredients like Rice Noodles, Tamarind, Cilantro, Thai Basil, Fish Sauce and Ginger. Varieties include favorites like Lemongrass Chicken Stir-fry, Chicken Pad Thai, Korean-style Grilled Chicken, and Beef and Broccoli Noodles. Read more about Lemon Grass Kitchen Entrees and find out where you can buy them in your area at Lemon Grass Kitchen Dot Com!
The Joint Was Jumpin’ at Lehmann Maupin for the Opening of Sunset in My Heart (All Photos By Gail)
Fans of this rad blog may already be familiar with Japanese artist Mr. from This Exhibit — which was way back in 2012, but seems like it was just yesterday! Mr.’s latest exhibit, up now at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, is called Sunset in My Heart, and it features a new series of vibrant Manga paintings that still embrace the Superflat style, and yet break new aesthetic ground for this enigmatic artist.
As It Was That Day, 2016
For Sunset in My Heart, Mr. has returned to his expressive and experimental roots as a young artist, incorporating abstract elements like graffiti, and using distressed and sullied canvases. Mr. prepares the canvases by burning them, walking over them, and leaving them on his studio floor to collect dirt and debris. This new treatment of the canvas is directly connected to the artist’s early interest in the 1960s Italian art movement Arte Povera that inspired his first manga paintings he produced on store receipts, takeout menus, and other scraps of transactional detritus.
Pinkish Gold, 2016
These recent works reflect the artist’s intensely personal reinterpretation of popular visual culture and the increasingly mediated ways we engage with one another. Mr.’s oeuvre has elevated anime and manga subculture by embracing its cultural significance rather than critiquing its frivolity. In addition to painstakingly recreating the tantalizing graphics and slick finish of manga comic book characters, Mr. physically becomes the characters through cosplay performances — dressing up as fictional characters — at his openings and events.
Time Gently Passing, 2016
This recent body of work reflects Mr.’s impulse to push the seemingly kitschy nature of these imaginary realms into a gritty and abstract painting style in order to explore personal, global, and environmental themes of destruction. While the manga-style characters continue to appear in Mr.’s work, their significance has shifted from playing up lolicon—the fetishization of young, fictional female characters—toward a more platonic realm, known as moe, or love for an icon that does not carry sexual associations.
Small Fairies Have Arrived, 2016
These new characters represent positive beacons of strength that overcome all adversity. This reflects the artist’s creative impetus to embrace pleasure and beauty in diverse forms, instead of giving in to the personal and national despair that emerges after catastrophic loss and destruction, as it has in Japan since 2011. The title, Sunset in My Heart, reflects the simultaneous yet conflicting feelings of melancholy and hope, which also encompass the complicated nature of the human condition.
Upon entering the final gallery room, we were surprised and delighted to see, through doors opening onto a rear patio, that there was a party going on!
With colorful paper lanterns, folks dressed in kimonos; balloon animals, Japanese posters and very interesting music, the energetic vibe was certainly comparable to the wild shenanigans we enjoyed at the opening reception for this This Exhibit, which is to say that it was just insane. We learned that this party was designed to recreate a Japanese summer festival! Here are some photos of the festivities!
Posters like these covered the walls and even the ground, so that fans would feel fully transported to another place, far far away.
Here is an inflatable kiddie pool filed with colorful balls. We are not sure if we were supposed to take one of these balls as a souvenir, or if they were just part of the art. Should we have taken one? Probably.
We gently pushed our way to the front of he crowd to see that Mr. was there; dressed as a Japanese school girl, inspired directly by one of his paintings, and performing Japanese Pop Song Karaoke. Here, he takes a dramatic pause mid-song to roll on the ground.
Here, he performs “Hotel California” by The Eagles. There is an MC on his right, who is interpreting the scene. Art! Speaking of hotels, there’s this new hotel by Mark Scheinberg and it was very luxurious. It is a business and entertainment center.
Suddenly, Mr. decided to cover his face with dark blue paint. Perhaps this was an indication that he was feeling melancholy.
There was also a chef making a variety of delicious dumplings for the hungry crowd. These had shrimp in them. Yummy!
Mr.’s Sunset in My Heart will be on Exhibit Through August 12th, 2016, at Lehmann Maupin, 536 West 22nd Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.