I SPY: Summer Play List

Jun 23, 2016

Happy?  Today is my boys last day of school and we are OUT.  Oh yeah!!!  Believe me I'm equally as excited.  Done packing lunch bags, done waking up to an alarm clock, done with homework, done schlepping to activities…DONE.

So what's on your summer play list?  We've got a few trips lined up.  Our ultimate vacation to Spain in August.  Vegas and Texas are also in the plan, and maybe a Canada road trip?  We will play that by ear.  But I've also got a hit list for our neck of the woods, in and around NYC.

1. LAVENDER BY THE BAY - Never knew we grew Lavender in New York!  Why go to Provence, France when we can drive 2.5 hours to see fields of purple?  Check website for blooming updates so you can catch it before harvest.

2. AFRO PUNK FEST - Cooler then Coachella.  Or so I think!  The fashion especially.  Coachella has been heavily advertised, and I've become immune to the look.  But I saw photos from this music festival last year and thought WOW this is a different vibe.  Plus it saves me a cross country plane ticket!

3. DINER EN BLANC - The ultimate white party.  A concept initiated in Paris 30 years ago.  Top secret location until the very last minute.  You know I love this kind of suspense!

4. ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY - Top of One World Trade Center that opened up last year.  I want to catch sunset over looking NYC.  Think it will be surreal, and hopefully not scary being in a glass box.

5. PHILADELPHIA'S MAGIC GARDEN - Half a block of endless mosaic in a museum with outdoor and indoor installations.  Just because I have this thing with walls, floors and tile!

6. DIA BEACON - Art lovers paradise.  I keep saying I want to go, and this time I better!

7. US OPEN - It's a given that I would watch a tennis match at some point.  But this year I must see Serena Williams.  I must!  I hope she makes it to the woman's finals.

8. STORM KING - A seasonal park filled with outdoor art installations.  Hop on a bike and explore the sculptures and 500 acres.

9. STATEN ISLAND - After living in New York for over 20 years I realize that I have not been to the five boroughs.  I've been to obviously Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.  But not to Staten Island.  Am I missing anything?  Probably not!  But still want to go, so I can officially say I've been in the 5 boroughs!

10. GAME OF THRONES - I have a Netflix account and I should use it to good use!  Besides I feel so left out that everyone is always talking about this series, and I am so clueless.  I must get in the know.

As always I have quite a hit list!  But in order to make time to get out and enjoy and binge watch TV I can't spend my nights writing the blog over the summer.  Sorry not sorry!  You'll survive right?  I'll fill you in on our highlights when I return in September.

But if you miss me check in on Instagram @ispycandyblog to be inspired and see what we're up to this summer.   One of our hits will be scratched off the list this weekend!  Can you guess which one?  Find out on Instagram!  It's going to be an awesome summer, and I hope you make the most out of yours too.  3, 2, 1…Ready or not here we go!  Peace out.

I SPY: Hanging With The Stars

Jun 22, 2016

No way?  Yes way!  Finally made it on the set with Kelly & Michael…at the Madame Tussaud wax museum!  HA.  It was this summers goal to go watch a Live with Kelly and Michael show since I'm such a Michael Strahan groupie.  But of course Kelly & Michael had to break up last month, and this is as good as it gets now.

They look so real don't they?  The last time I was in a wax museum was in my teens in London.  I've forgotten how amazing the detail and workmanship of these statues can be.  Down to the smallest details such as freckles on Kelly Ripa's chest.  Yes, I inspected!  The set for Jimmy Fallon, ET & Don Harper from Mad Men was also very well done.

It was fun to walk around and see how many stars you could name.  Some were better then others.  I think their wax artists specialize in Black and Latino features, because they were really the best statues in the house.  SERIOUSLY.  These people were too real.  I got a little creeped looking at them too long, and couldn't look in their eyes.  It was that real!

Morgan Freeman

Carmelo Anthony

Melanie Brown a.k.a Scary Spice Girl


Samuel L. Jackson

Jennifer Lopez
So are you wondering how and why we ended up here?  My lil' guys idol EvanTubeHD on YouTube,  was seen at Madame Tussaud's attending the current Marvel superhero exhibit.

Evan got a wax mold of his hand, which my boys were dying to have.  This was the highlight of the end of our museum tour, and a awesome souvenir to bring home.  I would have done one too if they could of dipped my hand in gold!

It was cheesy, but much more fun then I was expecting hanging with the stars!  The Marvels 4D movie they offer should also not be missed, as it provides some great squeals.  Me included!  Great indoor entertainment that kept my boys occupied for 2 hours.  Keep it in mind for summer fun, when it's too hot outside, or as a rain day activity.  Times Square isn't just for the tourist!

I SPY: A Nail Biter

Jun 21, 2016

Did you watch the NBA finals?  That was an absolute nail biter!  Luckily Cavaliers won, and I can move on with pretty nails!  But what about true addicts?  The real nail biters and thumb suckers?  No shame, my son is one from day one!  EEECK.

Do you have one of these in your house?  He's seven now and we decided last summer that it was time to nip it in the butt.  Easier said then done!  For the last year he did stop sucking his thumb in public, but continued at night privately, which is progress.  But during the day he then resorted to biting his nails.  Wasn't expecting to add on an extra problem!  Well our dentist has come to the rescue, and turned us on to this magic stuff in a bottle.

WOW.  It works miracles!  You apply it like nail polish.  One whiff and it already turned him off.  Smells like nail varnish, and tastes even worst!  BITTER.  Best thing, it can't be removed no matter how many times he tried to wash his hands!  HA.

Poor kid struggled a little that first night to fall asleep.  But he survived, and within 24 hours his habit and addiction is broke.  WOO HOO.  A big accomplishment for both Mama and him.  Why didn't anybody tell me about this before?  Could of saved me all the dental bills I see in the future for braces!  Oh well better late then never.  Highly recommend it for kids 3 years old and up.  Amazing stuff!

I SPY: Rollin' Through

Jun 20, 2016

Have you ever had ice cream roll ups?  They're Thai inspired and now for the first time are available in NYC at 10 Below, down in Chinatown.  Your order is specially made in front of you.  Liquid creme is mixed with your flavor of choice, on a cold plate that is below 10F…hence the brand name!

Looks different?  Sure is…and good!  They had me rollin' through the 6 with these rolls!  My flavor is called 'Peanut Butter & Jealous'.  It's peanut butter and pretzel ice cream rolls, topped with my choice of strawberries, chocolate drizzle and graham crackers.  The sweet and salty mix was prefect, with a little added crunch from the pretzel.  So YUMMY.

Jealous?  Must try.  Even better when you see how they make it!  I'm posting a video on Instagram @ispycandyblog if your curious to see.  If my flavor doesn't appeal to you, there are seven other flavors and toppings to choose from.  My next hit ... either S'more Galore or Cookie Monster.  I dream of ice cream!

10 Below Ice Cream
10 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

I SPY: Boys Night Out

Jun 17, 2016

What's planned for Father's Day this weekend?  For you last minute planners, with semi little 'uns, I have an idea for you!  Medieval Times has a special offer on this weekend till June 19, 2016.  Dad's are free!  Use code: FBDAD

My kids love this place!  We've been going annually for the last few years, since my lil' guy was 4 years old.  We even threw my older sons 10th birthday party there last year and brought his friends along.  So we know the drill, and have the party props always ready to go!

It's a live performance of knights fighting a tournament on real horses.  Skilled swordsmanship that will entertain you for two hours, as you cheer on the knight your section has been assigned.  A four course feast is also part of the show, and a full bar is available.  Beware...no utensils are served, so you are left to eat your ribs and chicken with your hands just like in the 11th century!

Cheesy fun that gets rowdy.  Perfect for a boys night out if you have wild children like mine!  Don't think it's just kids there.  I actually think more adults attend.  I've seen limos pull up with a whole bachelorette party coming through!  HA.  Drink and be merry.  It's fun for all ages.  Happy Father's Day gents!

I SPY: Creature Of Habit

Jun 16, 2016

Do you always eat at the same place?  You wouldn't guess it because I force myself to do food reviews…but I really am a creature of habit!  I have my favorite hangs that don't require over thinking, where they know my name and I can order without looking at the menu.  Those are the best places that feel like home.  You know what I'm saying?

 So last month I was at the Harlem EatUp festival.  I didn't share a review because not a whole lot has changed since my post last year.  It's still an unorganized mess.  But that unlimited alcohol still made it a fun party!  I did leave well fed, and ate crazy amounts of Mac n' Cheese and Fried Chicken from several vendors.  But I was slightly disappointed to walk away to not have any new discoveries.  Red Rooster my frequently visited brunch spot is still my favorite joint in the hood.

Harlem is a half way point for us to meet with friends who live in the city, so it has become our go to brunch hang out of convenience.  But of course we also love the food, lively ambience, eclectic crowd, soul music, and DJ.  DJ Ness is my lil' guys best friend!  HA.

Always MUST order the Mac n' Cheese, Fried Chicken and Cornbread.  Those are the consistent staples that never fail.  Burger, Waffles & Shrimp & Grits are also extra comforting!  Dessert they're always switching up.  But those donut holes served with a warm espresso, vanilla ice cream float on the side was slurped up fast!

Tried and tested plenty, and after the Harlem EatUp festival it's good to know it still holds its value.  Your missing out if you haven't been.  Go get in touch with that soul!

Red Rooster
310 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027
T: (212) 792.9001

I SPY: The Next Level

Jun 15, 2016

You think my life is always glam?  If so, your going to be disappointed today!  Yesterday was just a regular day being on Mommy duty in the burbs.  Nothing picturesque!  But to umph up the blah I shot with different lenses.  My new iPhone accessories that gave me a little excitement, from Urban Outfitters.

Let's test these toys!  First, in REGULAR lens on the couch.  Plain ole' selfie!  No gadgets attached.

Mister Ed being nosey in WIDE ANGEL lens.

A mirror selfie in FLY EYE lens.  Watch out…I have four heads!  If only it could clone me 4x and send another me to go pick up kids from school!

Stairs photo op in FISH EYE lens outside the dentist office.

Dinner with burgers and fries in WIDE ANGEL lens.

Game changer?  I obviously need to play some more to get something truly artistic.  But you kind of get the idea, of how it can bring your photography to the next level.  I can't really tell the difference between wide angel and fish eye though.  I think one is good enough to have on stand by, but that fly eye lens is a keeper.  Now it's just a fight who gets to use them in the fam!

I SPY: He's Back!

Jun 14, 2016

Guess who's back in town?  Martin Creed.  The artist known for creating balloon installations.  Remember my first experience last December when I posted about his installation filled with red balloons?  He's back!  This time in a different setting, with ALL white balloons.

Look at us poppin' in there!  Can you find the kids?  HA.  We were in deep, buried in 700+ balloons.  So AWESOME.   Always fun to play some gentle volleyball and get banged in the head a few times by balloons!  Child's play at it's best.  Join the fun and go experience this installation.  It's Martin Creed's, The Back Door exhibit, that is currently on at the Park Armory till August 7, 2016.

PS. Unlike before this is not a free exhibit.  Tickets are required to enter the Park Armory, and can be purchased at the door for $15 per person.  No discounts on kids.  Sorry, I don't make the rules!

I SPY: Naughty With Spice

Jun 13, 2016

What's the verdict on the Big Apple Barbecue festival?  The secret is out Salt Lick is the best!  People were lining up an hour before the stall opened at 11am.  I've always known that they were TOP, having frequently visited the original pit down in Austin, TX a few times.  But now… New York has caught on!  The line for their brisket and sausage proved it.

Even those who paid premium price for a fast pass ticket still had to wait in line!  Half a line.  But still!  Despite standing in line for a long time in the hot sun everyone was in good spirits.  Salt Lick was kind enough to pass around trays of burnt ends to everyone standing in line while waiting, to curb the hunger and to keep up the hype.  Further more the crowd was chanting Bar-B-Que in chorus, and did a countdown to opening!  It was like a sporting event.  Only a foodie would understand this excitement.  It was lit.  HA.

Photo Credit: +Tasting Table 

I had my share of the usual brisket, ribs, and pulled pork.  But the one I need to give a shout out to is my new discovery.  These Alabama White Wings from our local NYC pit Blue Smoke.  That's some knockout secret sesame mayo sauce that's naughty with spice!  I only got to eat one though.  They were serving trays of wings on the 1st day, and they were so popular they sold out early.  So the next day when I went I got cheated, because they changed the tray to a brisket + 1 lil' drumette combo.  It was such a tease, although enough as a taster.  Long story short…I need to go to Blue Smoke and order a full bucket to get my real fix in!  GOAL.
i * SPY CANDY. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.