I SPY: Behind The Scenes

Jan 31, 2017

Need a good dose of art?  Head over to Mana Contemporary in Jersey City.  It was formerly a tobacco plant, and since opening in 2011it currently houses about 200 artist in the building.  Some whom have their working studios within, plus exhibition spaces, and the Florence Academy.

Lets take a peek behind the walls shall we?  This Andy Warhol exhibit held some works that haven't been seen before!  It's a private collection of 91 silk prints.

Gary Lichtenstein showcased a collection of American flags.  A mixture of silkscreen and collage.

John Chamberlain had his photographs on exhibit.  I didn't even know he did photography!  I've only always known him for his automobile part sculptures.

Richard Meier's architecture models were fascinating.  So much detail!

Then in the basement we went behind the scenes and saw artist at work in their studios.  How cool is Alana Dee Haynes embroidered bra?

Mana Contemporary is open to the public, but only on tours scheduled twice a day during the week only.  Not on weekends.  Be sure to check the website for times before you go.  Worth the trek, but not if you can't get in!

I SPY: No Man's Land

Jan 30, 2017

See this face?  Granddaughter of immigrants!  My Grandfather served time in the US army, we've built businesses, contributed to the economy, paid our taxes, not living on welfare, and remain criminal free. So many of us have the same story.  We are Americans living in a country founded by immigrants.

What would America be without immigrants?  We immigrants are what makes America great!  As you can see I'm not buying Trumps immigration ban bullish*t that went down over the weekend.  No, the current immigration ban would not affect my families ancestry.  But who knows what the future holds, and it could eventually since Indonesia is an Islamic country.  Either way, I see it the way as Martin Luther King once said.

Lets get real…seven countries banned.  Not even where the main terrorist attackers have been from!  So to say that this ban is a safety net to protect our country is ridicule.  Terrorist are creative enough to find their way in through other means if they really want to get in.  So this looks to me as an act of racism on Muslims, and why?  What have they done?  They've done nothing.  This meme says it all.

Do you have Muslim friends?  Have you been in an Islamic country?  Muslims practice peace and preach good teachings just as Christianity does.  They do not support the radical ISIS terrorist, and even Islamic countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia have been attacked by terrorist, so it's not just western countries affected.

We must learn to differentiate terrorists separately from the Muslim faith.  Because of one's chosen faith, we can't leave people stranded at airports, detained, take their green cards away, and not accept their visas leaving these harmless people in sudden no man's land.  They're human!  It's extreme, unethical, and not who we are.  America is known as the melting pot.  Remember this is who we are. Diversified.

Donald J. Trump - A week in power and everyday it's like oops he did it again!  It makes me so uneasy.  Not proud to be an American right now.  And my plans to travel to Iran this year…guess that idea has to be canned for a while.  We are not welcomed there now.  SAD situation we're in, that brings more devastation rather then world peace.

I SPY: Year Of The Cock

Jan 27, 2017

What is special about today?  It is officially the first day of Chinese New Year, and it is the year of the cock.  Or rooster if that previous word bothers you!  Much like how Christmas is the most celebrated holiday for Westerners, the same applies to Chinese New Year for Chinese.  Lucky me celebrates both!

This has been our standard Chinese New Year crew for the last 8 years!  A table full of ABC's (American Born Chinese), with black, white and Filipino roots.  The true melting pot, eating hot pot, Mongolian style at Little Sheep.

Yes it's unconventional and not your usual Chinese New Year celebration meal!  However, it did include the main symbolic dishes, considered to be lucky food to bring you good fortune... Dumplings (wealth), Fish (prosperity), Noodles (longevity).  Here's a list of other good luck foods to add to your order if you really want to get traditional.

Our feast was so YUM.  Kids had fun cooking at the table, and it was a great time spent with friends, which like Christmas, is what the festivity is all about.  If your wondering what to do this weekend, gather friends to go eat and join in the Chinese festivities.  Chinatown will be filled with red and gold lanterns, dragon dances will be performed on the streets and in restaurants, red packets (hongbao's) filled with money will be given out to kids, and oranges will be in abundance.  Enjoy...Gong Xi Fa Cai!

I SPY: Girl Power

Jan 26, 2017

Too many iconic people died in 2016 don't you think?  Now we're starting 2017 on a bad note, by loosing Mary Tyler Moore yesterday.  RIP.  I am too young to remember her from her hey day.  But I do remember that smile and my Mom and Grandmother laughing along to re-runs.  Last night I did the same.

Did you know that Mary Tyler Moore was the first woman to wear pants on TV?  She made capri pants famous, and broke the identity that a woman should only be seen outside in skirts and dresses.  WOW.  I found that out because while watching last night I was digging her fashion.  Turtlenecks, jumpsuits, high waisted pants, ballet flats, pea coats, neck scarves, and her knee high boots, all remains current in todays fashion.  Ahhh I love the 70's!

Not only was she a rebel in fashion, but also her show went outside the norm, representing women in a non conventional way.  She played the single career woman, dating, showing the world that even good girls had sex, and her show included topics on birth control, equal pay, sexism, and homosexuality.

The same feminist issues I was out marching for last Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the Women's March in NY.  I can't believe we're still protesting this sh*t!  Kudos to her.  I have even more respect for Mary Tyler Moore knowing now that she assisted in breaking down the barriers women were expected to abide by in popular culture.  Thank you Ms. Moore for everything you have contributed to women's lib.  We must continue the fight.  Girl power!

I SPY: Starless Dreams

Jan 25, 2017

Do you like foreign films?  I love the authencity!  Something about listening to a foreign language is like music to my ears.  I know for many reading subtitles drives them crazy.  But I'm accustomed to reading many subtitles from back in my Singapore days, where I grew up.

I recently saw this film in Persian at the Museum of the Moving Image. Starless Dreams is a documentary about teenage girls incarcerated in a prison in Tehran, Iran.  It took the director Mehrdad Oskouei seven years to gain access to this facility!  Absolutely worthwhile the wait.

After watching this film I have even more of an urge to visit Iran!  It didn't enhance the country's beautiful architecture, mosques and jewelry of what I've been pouring over on Instagram.  But it did portray insight into the culture, and the social and humanity struggle girls endure in a sexist country.  Moving and sad to see how some felt safer behind bars then to be put back on the streets.

But it was also heart warming to see the characters didn't fit the violent mob stereo type our mass media in the USA has portrayed.  These girls were warm, sweet natured kids.  They could of been any of my sons friends in his school, who act just like any other typical teenager, talking about boys, eating pizza, acting goofy, and playing truth and dare.  HUMANS that just want to be loved and understood.

In a time of division we're experiencing in America I feel it is important to learn about others cultures, and stop judging a book by its cover.  Only when we're open can we have a better understanding of the other persons views, and be less judgmental and more compassionate.  This film is a start in broadening your horizons.  Starless Dreams is only playing till January 29, 2017.  A great way to travel without leaving your backyard.  Stay awoke.  

I SPY: Room With A View

Jan 24, 2017

When your feeling blue all you want to do is….?  Escape to somewhere warm where I can get my dose of vitamin sea!  Did that last night couch surfing virtually, while locked up at home waiting for the Nor'easter to pass.  Free meditation.

Photo Credit: IG @instaborabora

How about that for a room with a view?  HEAVEN.  Photoshop me in right now!  HA.  I've never stayed in an over water bungalow.  Have you?  I always thought they only existed on the other side of the world in the French Polynesian.  But to my surprise I discovered they now exist close to home.  Jamaica and Mexico have them too.  WOOHOO.

Photo Credit: IG @instaborabora

So when we going?  HA.  On my ever growing bucket list.  One day…no kids invited!  *wink*

I SPY: Freezer Goals

Jan 23, 2017

Are you also having a hard time kicking the sweets to the curb?  I'm having post holiday sugar cravings, and in my attempt to namaste away from cookie and cupcakes I've started a new weekly delivery subscription…Daily Harvest.

Don't you love time savers?  Well these ready to blend pre measured cups of mixed frozen fruit, veggies, and other super foods to throw in a blender with coconut water are not only satisfying my sugar craves naturally, but also saving me the trip to the grocery store.  THANK YOU.  I hate grocery shopping!

These smoothies come in a variety of organic flavors to choose from.  So far our first batch of different tropical tutti fruitti flavors have all been yummy.  Even the kids love them!  They're so easy to make the kids can pull them out of the freezer and throw it in a blender to mix up a thick smoothie by themselves.  This is a Mommy helper sent from God!

No more pre-fixing bags of super foods for my kids to make juicing in a pinch like I use to.  Just heavy lifting the box of your frozen cups from your front door to your freezer, and stalking up on straws and coconut water.  Does it get simpler then that?  Taking lazy to the next level!  Make these your freezer goals too.

I SPY: New Year, New Eat

Jan 20, 2017

What's cooking?  It's the weekend and I'm ready to eat!  What's new?  HA.  Well if we're not brunch'in on Sundays we're usually dim sum'in, because my rice boy loves his Chinese food.

What is your favorite dim sum dish?  Along with our order of many dumplings, my lil' guy must have his sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.  It's a standard on most menus.  But at Kung Fu kitchen it wasn't.  You should've seen the horror on my kids face!  HA.  Instead they had sticky rice shao mai dumplings.

Interesting?  They were very good and thankfully pacified my whiner!  Other then that I wouldn't go back to this restaurant we randomly ended up in.  But be on the look out for this new innovative dumpling creation when you eat dim sum elsewhere.  I've been seeing sticky rice shao mai dumplings recently popping up here and there on Instagram, so restaurants are catching on.  When you see it, order it.  New year, new eat!

I SPY: Feed Your Soul

Jan 19, 2017

No money to travel?  If you can't travel the world on foot, you can travel the world by mouth.  There is no greater time then now during NYC Restaurant Week from Jan 23, 2017 to Feb 10, 2017 to be adventurous with your palette and feed your soul.  Save on the great deal - 3 courses $29/ Lunch and $42 Dinner.  

Photo Credit: Instagram +Ashley Renne: Travel Lushes 

Anyone dreaming about Peru?  It's on my bucket list, but I'm waiting for my kids to get older to hike up Macchu Picchu.  So we've still got a couple more years to wait.  But till then I've found a new way to get our Peruvian fix - Llama Inn.

I was hoping that they would be participating in NYC Restaurant Week, but they're not.  Still necessary to give a shout out to my new friends in Brooklyn though, because they rank high on my list and are worth paying full price!  I love everything about this restaurant from the light flooded ambience, to the plant life, and the food…so YUM.

Charred kale, anchovie salad…like a cesar salad

Crispy pork shoulder, fried egg, sweet potato, salsa…like a tamale

Beef stir fry, fried egg, french fries…like the traditional Lomo Saltado 

Fried chicken, honey, pickled chilis…like chicken and waffles

PS.  We ordered seconds on their version of chicken and waffles.  GUILTY.  But so good for brunch!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Peruvian food it is about time you try.  It is a blend of Spanish, Asian, African and Inca spices, packed with flavor, and a good kick.  Often the dishes are served with rice or french fries which is why my kids probably love it so much!  If you want to take advantage of NYC Restaurant Week reserve a table at Raymi Restaurant that is a Peruvian restaurant participating in the promo.  I've never been, but if it's good tell me.  I can always add a new Peruvian hit to my list!  Nom Nom.


Jan 18, 2017

Do you know that beef and broccoli on your Chinese takeout menu is not really authentic Chinese food?  It's American Chinese food.  What?!!  I learned this at MOFAD - Museum of Food and Drink.

What else do you regularly order from your neighborhood Chinese dive?  If it's any of these dishes pictured below, then don't expect to find it in China!

This is news for us ABC's (American Born Chinese) isn't it?  It was for me, and especially my kids who have grown up here since birth and been eating beef and broccoli since they began eating table food!

The difference in American Chinese food when compared to authentic Chinese food is it's been doctored for the Westerners tastebuds.  More flavor has been added in American Chinese food using oyster sauce and corn starch to create that thick brown sauce most love.  Where as typical authentic Chinese food is more bland and soupy.

Other interesting facts we learned at MOFAD was the 1849 Gold Rush that drew many of the first Chinese immigrants to the USA.  The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act where white workers felt threatened by the Chinese laborers who were willing to work for less, that resulted in anti Chinese violence and a ban on Chinese immigration.  Then the lack of jobs available to them, which forced the Chinese to start up different service businesses to survive.  The restaurant business being most successful, and the creation of American Chinese cuisine that is now served nation wide in close to 50,000 restaurants.  WOW.

Amazing story on entrepreneur spirits.  History I didn't even know about my ancestors!  Learn something new everyday, right?  If your also interested, this exhibit Chow: Making The Chinese American Restaurant is on at MOFAD till February 26, 2017.  Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website.

I SPY: Generation VR

Jan 17, 2017

Ok New York Mom and Dad's, need something cool to do with your kids?  Step into the future and experience a new world at Jump Into The Light.  The pinnacle of virtual reality is at your fingertips inside this play lab.  Even though you may think it's for the kids, there were mainly adults in there living the virtual reality high.  I included was one of those big kids engrossed in technology, swinging my arms in the air, not caring how foolish I looked!  HA.

Have you played with this VR equipment before?  Don't trash the hype until you've tried it.  You will be tripping…guaranteed!  It's that amazing.

The 360 virtual reality films is the most basic to start with.  But that already will blow your mind with the graphics.

Then the Oculus equipment ups your experience allowing you to build blocks and manipulate what you see.

Lastly, the back room has the ultimate VR experience.  A vast variety of games you can interact with from painting, to carnival games, to fighting zombies, to beating up a Trump piñata, etc. will have you forgetting which planet you are on!

My boys had a work out and left sweaty!  Definitely their new favorite hang out.  But for anything fun, comes a price, and it ain't cheap play - $45.  However, use code: IG10 to get $10 off your first time.  It's worth it for all ages, and if you plan to go on a weekend I would advise you buy tickets in advance.  Enjoy…this new generation VR technology will change your life!  
i * SPY CANDY. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.