A Spot of Tea

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I recently realized that the older we get, the more most of us wish we had paid a little more attention in school. For some, they wish they could remember more of their math lessons; for others, it’s literature, and for me, it’s history. When textbooks popped open to learn about wars and presidents, my head always went into the clouds. But as an adult, when I pass by major landmarks, I find myself constantly Googling. It makes me wish I could remember some of the trivia that was probably right there in those textbooks.

One of my biggest history fascinations in NYC has been The Plaza Hotel (which, for the record, was built in 1907, took two years and $12 million to build—unprecedented at the time.) So when one of my best friends invited me to a birthday tea party there hosted by her lovely mother, I was excited for weeks, imagining all of us dolled up, soaking in the grandeur like it was the 1920s. And it was grand, indeed. We had a three-hour, Eloise-themed sit-down in the Palm Court, an ode to the six-year-old star of the children’s book series. Of course, there was tea, plus mini-peanut butter and jellies, scones, and tiny cupcakes on three-tiered servers.

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Staring up at the vaulted glass ceilings and looming palm trees, I felt like I could’ve been Zelda Fitzgerald on a tea date with Scott—before tea turned into orange blossoms spiked with gin. But I was glad to be me, in a pretty dress surrounded by other women (in pretty dresses themselves) who uplift and inspire me. (And crack me up. Seriously, we need a reality show.)

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I think tea is now officially, well…my cup of tea. And not just because of the magic of the Plaza and the comforting drink (which had me briefly considering making the switch from coffee before I asked myself Who are you kidding?), but because of the idea of taking a break from your day to sit down with friends to eat, drink, and enjoy one another’s company—no cell phones included. Why can’t we all sit for tea with our girlfriends more often? Frolic in the fountain outside like the Fitzgeralds once (allegedly) did? Wander the hotel’s hallways like the mischievous Eloise?

True to my inner nerd, when I got home (well, after a champagne after-party at my apartment, because what’s tea at the Plaza without a Gatsby-like moment?) I did some research, and discovered the hotel offers a free 45-minute tour of the Renaissance-style chateau. Who’s down to go with me? If you come, I promise we can sit down for tea afterward.

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It’s a Party, It’s a Party, It’s a Party!

Ever since I moved into a one bedroom, I’ve been looking for any and all opportunities to have get-togethers. I’m a hostess at heart: I love planning, decorating, and getting the people that make me happiest together in one place for a good time. (I even joked with my friends that I might have an Arbor Day gathering. But really, why not?) So when July 4th came around, I knew it was time to host a par-tay to celebrate our great nation…in other words, have an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.

As soon as I told one of my good friends and fellow magazine editors about the gathering, she passed along the party-in-a-box she’d been sent at her job, a creation by the new company Revelry House. The kit is full of every adorable thing an eager 20-something party-thrower might need to have a great July 4th bash, and I was ecstatic when I found out the business was co-founded by Lo Bosworth, the beloved sidekick from Laguna Beach and The Hills. (I was actually just lamenting about missing those shows with my friends. Admit it: Real or not, they were addicting).

In my box: Blue-and-white paper straws, sparkly American-themed cupcake toppers, star confetti, an American flag scarf, cardboard dining trays, bamboo cutlery, and more. The boxes are a bit pricey, at $189, but they eliminate the need to spend hours shopping, budgeting, and planning. And what I love most about the idea is that the box gives you all the tools you need to throw a great shindig, but you can also make them uniquely your own. For instance, in addition to the flag, bicycle, and rocket shaped toppers, I threw some blue and red sprinkles onto the white icing of my cupcakes; the confetti went on the table and inside the red balloons (and although it got everywhere, it was totally worth it); the flag scarf became my tablecloth, and the blue and white straws went swimmingly with the red signature cocktail I’d already planned.

Some photo evidence that I actually pulled this off:

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And guess what? The July 4th party-in-a-box also included sparklers, which I tried out on my balcony at the end of the night w/ my besties. Nice work, Lo—I’ll definitely be checking out the Birthday and Bachelorette Boxes, whenever one of my friends decides to tie the knot next.

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Forever Young

photo of Jay-z & Kanye West at Yankee Stadium, 9/14/10

“Fear not when, fear not why, fear not much while we’re alive/life is for living, not living uptight/see ya somewhere up in the sky…” – Jay-z, Forever Young

Scene: September 14th, the Bronx. Yankee Stadium. Two of hip-hop’s greats, Eminem and Jay-z, and some 50,000 + screaming fans.

A historic day for music, and the best concert I’ve ever been to, hands down.

This all might sound a bit dramatic, but here’s a little background: I’ve always loved hip-hop, but as of late it has been so disappointing – with little meaning or authenticity, there are few hip-hop artists I am still a major fan of, but I do have my top three right now: Jay-z, Kanye, and Drake.

So imagine my excitement when my boss surprised me last Tuesday with tickets to a Jay-z concert, and a historic NY concert at that – the first concert in Yankee Stadium.

Me and my co-worker went together, and we were shocked when we found our seats were actually down on the field of the stadium, 20th row. The seats were perfect to see the show from beginning to end. I’m not a huge Eminem fan, but he opened with a great set. He brought out 50 Cent and, my favorite part, also brought Dr. Dre out of hiding (who knows where he’d been all this time?) But Jay-z blew the entire stadium out of the water when after coming on with a freestyle, he brought out Kanye West, bright red leather suit and all. I almost collapsed from excitement – I’ve seen him in concert twice, but my love for Kanye runs deep and I can never get enough of his energy. And when Drake came out next, I just about lost it. Seriously? It was hard to keep up with the surprises, especially when more of them followed – throughout the show, out came Swizz Beats, Mary J. Blige, Nicki Minaj, and Beyonce. Hip-hop heaven.

The most magical moment was when Jay-z was performing Empire State of Mind, which, as I think I’ve mentioned, will forever hold a special place in my heart as the theme song behind me getting my feet on the ground in NYC. When I turned around to look at the stadium behind me filled with thousands of people. I couldn’t help but think, “here I am, on the field of Yankee Stadium, watching Jay-z perform on a perfect fall night…” It was enough for my eyes to fill with tears, and was definitely an unforgettable moment…

NYC Fashion Night Out

Bright lights, champagne, fashion and beauty. These are the makings of Fashion’s Night Out, a New York fashion week event that is the brainchild of Anna Wintour and Conde Nast. After the success of its first year in 2009, the city has been anticipating round two. The stores stay open later and have sales, presentations, drinks and music. NYC’ers come out in droves for the mixing and mingling, so I was excited when my ultimate fashionista friend told me she wanted to come to town for Friday night’s festivities, especially since I missed it last year.

The evening didn’t disappoint. Wintour is a genius for dreaming up the perfect mixture of a night out with fashion and fun, and there are so many options all over the city and even in the boroughs that it’s overwhelming. We stuck around 5th Avenue, and while we hit up everything from YSL to Sak’s Fifth Avenue, my favorite store was definitely the Tiffany’s flagship. We were greeted by two Holly Golightlys (if you aren’t familiar, Holly is the character Audrey Hepburn plays in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) who were taking photos with guests at the entrance. A plush yellow carpet leading into the store and a candy bar stocked with yellow candies were all in celebration of the store’s debut of its new yellow diamond collection.

While Tiffany’s had the best presentation in my opinion, the highlight of our night happened at the Chanel flagship. My friend and I wanted to head upstairs to check out the customizable Chanel flats that were available for order, but when we tried to head upstairs we were told there was a 10-minute wait. As the minutes ticked by, the crowd got bigger and bigger, and all of a sudden, the seas parted and in walked Karl Lagerfeld himself, with a rockstar-tinted halo around him:

photo courtesy of Channing In The City

Thank goodness my friend was able to snap this photo – the one I tried to rush and get ended up being just of his bodyguard! The hairs on my arms literally stood up when he walked in – he definitely has an energy about him, and for anyone who cares even the slightest about fashion, this was a pretty awesome moment. After that sighting, it didn’t matter what else happened – Fashion Night Out was definitely a hit for me.