I SPY: Peace Out

Jun 15, 2017

Are your kids already on summer break?  It feels like everyone is already out of school except for us!  Mine still have another week.  We are already so DONE and ready to get out of here!  But still so much to do before we ditch town.

So I hate to do this, but I'm starting my annual summer hiatus a tad early!  I have a big project to wrap up this weekend, and feeling frazzled between work, kids, events and packing up.  Therefore, best I end on a high note then ruin my name by posting random pics of hamsters or something!  HA.

Catch me on Instagram @ispycandyblog if you want to be in the know.  Otherwise you'll get the low down when we return in September on my wanderlust trip to Bali!  Enjoy your summer.  Be safe.  Peace out!

I SPY: Jerkface

Jun 14, 2017

It's time?  Yes, it's time for famous street artist Jerkface's pop up exhibit!  I'm a huge fan of his nostalgic cartoon character works, such as Spongebob, Waldo and Star Wars themed walls I've shown you before.  His latest wall in NYC on Mott and Bleeker street is this donut number that pumps us up for his pop up solo exhibit entitled 'Donuts', that opens this weekend.

Fan of the donut? Well the word is that the first 50 people in line for the opening of his pop up gets a freebie.  Could it be donuts?  Maybe…because on National Donut Day he was giving out donuts!

The pop up opens this Saturday, June 17, 2017, from 5 to 10pm.  It only runs till June 23, 2017.  Hype is that there will be a bunch of new paintings released and a book signing on June 18, 2017 from 1 to 3pm.  If your a Jerkface fan mark your calendars and head over to his pop up located on 393 Broadway, NYC 10013.  I can't wait…it already looks super fun from the outside!

I SPY: Bang For Your Buck

Jun 13, 2017

It's my big 4 coming up, can you believe it?  Keep calm, it's just a number!  HA.  But nevertheless I've got my mega trip planned, and found my birthday suit at this place to ring in my new year in style!

Of all places I found it in the concept shop 'Trade' located at the new Public hotel.  You'll have to wait to see my vintage number!  But if you like the non run of the mill this shop has some fabulous vintage one of a kinds, along with a well curated selection of artsy home accessories.

Would you expect less from a hotel designed by Ian Schager?  The boutique hotels interior is equally hip with lots of cozy places to lounge, sip, enjoy rooftop vibes, party at the club, and eat.  Jean Georges new restaurant 'Public Kitchen' is there and on my list to try next!

Even though it looks luxe, rooms are cheap for NYC rates!  $150 a night.  Say what?!!  HA.  They believe in the philosophy that not only the wealthy should enjoy the good life.  AGREE.

The cost cuts were not made in design.  But there's no check in counter, you check yourself in with the iPads, and no room service either.  The bar and cafe in the lobby is open 24/7 to purchase food to eat communally or bring up to your room.  I can live with that!

And when your micro mini room feels claustrophobic, they've got a beautiful lush courtyard at their front entrance.

Very well thought out design.  It's location on the lower east side is also trending, and walkable to Soho too.  Bang for your buck guys!  Have out of town guests coming this summer?  Book them a room here!

215 Chrystie Street
New York, NY 10002
T: 212. 735.6000

I SPY: Too Much Sauce

Jun 12, 2017

Have a good weekend?  This weekend was filled with friends, BBQ and drinks.  It was a merry and saucy one, with my favorite annual Big Apple Barbecue block party in town.  I will not bore you with the food, because as I say every year my #1 pit of choice is STILL Salt Lick BBQ.  My heart remains strong with my motherland Texas!  But two things different I did this year - I got a fast pass (it is sooo worth it!), and because we weren't wasting time standing in the hot sun waiting in lines for food, I also got a chance to hit the bar!

How tempting does that look?  They are build your own Bloody Mary's.  Adult Easter baskets filled with goodies!  YUM.  A meal on its own with an explosion of taste, absolutely loaded, and never too much sauce!!  HA.  Anyhow, I thought for summer backyard parties this would be a fun idea to set up a station for your friends and fam with a charcuterie board and tapas to DIY their own Bloody Mary creations?  I know I would love it if I were at your party!  And hey…you also save on plates and utensils *wink*!!

I SPY: Candy Land

Jun 8, 2017

Are you the type to browse the aisles when you grocery shop?  A supermarket run is a chore that I don't enjoy, so to make it as quick and painless as possible I always have a grocery list to get in and out as fast as I can.  But at this bodega I could browse forever.

Heard about this pop up 8 'Till Late under the Highline at the Standard Hotel?  It's a bodega convenience store, stocked with everything you would expect to find at a bodega from food, to cigarettes, and even a pregnancy test!  Only difference is it is ALL made from felt by artist Lucy Sparrow.

Seriously, how cute is this?  It's like candy land!  All the items are for sale, and the installation is open from 8am to 8pm daily till June 30, 2017.  Hurry before everything is sold out!

P.S.  Fathers Day is coming…I got my Hennessy man a bottle!  What else do you get a man that has everything?

8 'Till Late
69 West Little 12th Street
New York, NY

I SPY: Pray For Cleveland

Jun 7, 2017

Who are you rooting to win the NBA finals?  It's a split vote in this house.  My big guy is a Cavaliers fan and my lil' guy is a Stephen Curry, Warriors fan all the way.  I haven't betted on any game yet, because I honestly would of loved to see the Celtics make it to the finals for a change.  But Game 3 tonight and I'm itching to bet on this guy.

Probability low?  But I'm feeling it!  I believe King James is cheesed off enough from the last two games and he's ready to show who's boss again!  But it's a team sport and Kyrie Irving needs to step up his game too.  You think they can do it?  They're playing at home in Cleveland tonight, it's business, so they got to keep us on our toes, and how boring would that be if Warriors won again three in a row? So money down on Cavaliers tonight.  Who wants to add to the pot?  Pray for Cleveland.  Lets go Cavs!

I SPY: An Outdoor Museum

Jun 6, 2017

It's almost summer, who wants to be stuck inside?  Not me!  So instead of visiting indoor museums, one should visit this outdoor museum - Coney Art Walls.  Right by the Coney Island amusement park at 3050 Stillwell Avenue, Brooklyn, you will find 33 murals, by many famous street artist.

Artist: Eine

Artist: Nina Chanel Abney
Artist: D*Face
Artist: Icy & Sot

Artist: Jim Drain

Artist: Tats Cru

Artist: Crash

Is this heaven?  Of course I was stoked!  Too good to be true.  If you are a fan of street art you are going to love this exhibit.  On now till Labor Day weekend 2017.  Catch it before summer is over.

I SPY: Facing Obstacles

Jun 5, 2017

How was your weekend?  Traffic was crazy this weekend in NYC.  Too many big events going on in and around the city.  None that I went to though!  Instead I laid low with the kiddos facing obstacles in the jungle.

Ever been tree top climbing?  It's our new favorite thing to do.  Seriously!  We had an awesome time being Jane and Tarzan at The Adventure Park at The Discovery Museum, walking the tight rope, zip lining, climbing and crawling through tubes.  The 11 trails were fun yet challenging, and like ski slopes were color coded starting with beginner courses, working up 6 levels to black courses.  You go at your own pace.  No pressure, none of us made it to the black trails in the three hours we spent there.  But next time we will accept that challenge!

Even this tween was impressed.  YAY.  It was thankfully hard core enough to keep him humble!  Do you know how hard that is these days?  HA.  The kids loved it so much they're asking to have their birthday parties there.  Highly recommend this park for ages 5 and up.  Summer is coming, how are you going to entertain your kids?  GO.  It's fun to be a kid again!


Jun 2, 2017

Ever tried the bagels in Montreal?  I was told I must try when there because they're unique.  Boiled in honey water first, larger hole, flatter, and baked in a wood fire oven.  Makes a difference.  YUM.  Brought home a dozen for the fam to try, and within three days GONE.  Story of my life, living with two growing boys, who are forever hungry, and a empty pantry!  But I found a replenishment source close to home.

Black Seed Bagels - been there?  It's a slice of MTL (Montreal) in NYC.  Friends told me about it in my moment of despair…and obviously I had to try!  Legit - we now know where to go for our Montreal carb workout, and a great B.E.C (bacon, egg & cheese).  Now how about a Mont Royal close by to hike?  Tell me!  I'm craving it.

I SPY: Montreal

Jun 1, 2017

MONTREAL: May 2017

Disgusted with the food trail I left yesterday?  Hope not, because now I spill the beans on my three day Memorial Day weekend, eating my way through Montreal, and walking off the calories exploring a new town.  No shopping, because why would I attempt to try on clothes after binging?!!  But my secret to the battle of the bulge was hiking Mont Royal daily.  Guilt made me do it!  But also worth the amazing view from the top.

Montreal - An ethnically diverse, young city, with Old Montreal to the right...the tourist trap!  The cool kids from Griffin town, Plateau & St Henri neighborhoods avoid Old Montreal, because it's like why would I want to hang out in Times Square in NYC?  But if it's your first time to Montreal you must explore Old Montreal.  It's charming; not like Times Square!  Beautiful landmark architecture, cobblestone streets, and outdoor cafes set along the water, makes you feel like your in Paris.  Just the Montrealer locals are a lot friendlier and more welcoming then Parisians!  Oui, Oui…and yeah it would help to brush up on your French before you visit too!  That is the city's mother tongue.  Although I didn't meet anyone who could not speak English.  But I tried not to be the American brat off the bat and embraced their language and culture with the basic Bonjour and Merci.  That's pretty much all I know in French!  HA.


The highest point in Montreal, where you can hike, bike, and picnic in a 200 hectare park.  The city views are worth it any time of day, and the plus to staying after dark is to see the holy cross lit.

The grandest cathedral I've ever seen!  Super ornate mouth dropping details.  Catch the Aura multimedia light show.  It was sold out, so I didn't have a chance to see it, but it looks spectacular.  Buy tickets in advance!

A chapel, intimate in size, but heavy on the details.  Loved the architecture, stained glass, statues, and the opportunity to climb up to the bell tower.

It's a convention center, so unless your there for a convention there isn't much to do in there.  However, it is the coolest convention center I've ever seen!  Look at their windows!

It's the old port, where the clock tower is, with a beach over looking the Jacques Cartier Bridge.  Perfect in summer, and to watch the fireworks.


This you MUST reserve a table for weeks in advance before you arrive.  It was my best meal in Montreal.  Anthony Bourdain recommended, friends backed it up, and I too confirm it's a win!  Everything is delicious.  But you must try the duck in a can.  Sounds weird, and is, but duck, foie gras, and veggies are boiled in a can and then opened at the table and plopped on your plate.  Mouth watering.  Brings new meaning to canned food!

You'll find it at the plentiful ice cream shops around Old Montreal.  Essentially it is fried dough.  Another Montreal thing, but I wouldn't consider it a 'specialty', nor something I would be on the hunt for again.  Save your calories for other dessert!

If your craving Asian food Montreal's Chinatown is authentic.  I heard the Chinese food is excellent.  But also the Vietnamese food is top.  Makes sense with the French - Vietnamese relation through history.  This hole in the walls bowl of Pho noodle soup was the perfect accompaniment to a rainy day. Cheap too!

Montreal is famous for their bagels.  There was a line out the door.  Served warm right out of a wood fire oven, and you'll probably want to bring a few home too.  That good!

A local hang in St Henri, which is very popular for brunch.  Good vibes, and huge portions.  Eggs Benedict were delish, and what I ordered thinking was 'crepes' on the menu turns out to be pancakes in Montreal!  Not thin crepes like what I know in America.  But still good.  When there please do a potty break. They've got the coolest LED graffiti bathroom ever!

Calling all carnivores. Steak, Steak, Steak!  It's like the Peter Luger of Montreal.

If your a fries kinda guy, then you need to try.  You will find this French - Canadian classic served at most restaurants in different variations.  The basic is fries with a homemade sauce topped with cheese curds.  Basically loaded fries!

Famous for their smoked meat sandwich.  Brisket.  When they start serving hot meat at 10:30am there was already a small line.  Stood in line longer then it took to eat!  But it was worth it.


The ultimate place to chill!  A 40, 000 square foot escape, on a docked ferry with 678 portholes, and  many ways to wind down, and get pampered.


A new boutique hotel with a great location near the old port in Old Montreal.  Walking distance to most tourist attractions.  Rooms are decent size, service is good, and they have a very popular rooftop terrace, overlooking the water, serving food and drinks.


For a more local experience I recommend you stay in these modern affordable apartments.  It is located in the heart of the Plateau, near Mont Royal, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes near by.  Also their rooftop with a jacuzzi, and views of Montreal make it a great place to catch the sunset.



If your not comfortable taking the Metro (subway) have an Uber app handy to book a taxi.  Cabs are not readily available on the streets, unlike New York.  They're around, but it sometimes took up to 10 minutes to wait for an Uber taxi.  Better then not having a ride at all!

The great summer weather for the first two days really made my trip enjoyable.  But the last day it dropped twenty degrees overnight and it made me question if I would enjoy Montreal as much in winter.  Probably not!  HA.  It would be a struggle exploring the city by foot in frigid temps, and I definitely wouldn't be hiking Mont Royal daily in winter either.  For the most part Montreal is a walkable city, and bike friendly, especially in Old Montreal where you would miss a lot of the character if you tried to drive it.  So visit in Summer, late Spring, or I imagine early Fall would be beautiful too with the changing of the leaves.  Well, I had perfect timing…merci Montreal, it was nice to finally meet you!
i * SPY CANDY. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.