May in NYC: Day 2

After spending a solid twelve hours inside my hotel room re-charging, I was ready to get back out into the great city! Here’s a link to part 1 if you missed my first day of adventuring.


This city was made for the solo visitor. Don’t get me wrong a group is great – but every place I went I did not feel odd or at all out of place. I was a bit… bright and sparkly and more on the Buddy the Elf meets Gisele from Enchanted side though. I seriously just LOVE exploring a place, and a place with so much history, art, texture, color, and detail? My brain was exploding with inspiration and ideas!

My #1 favorite thing (and it is absolutely free!) is to get up and go walking around Central Park early in the morning. Before the stroller brigade. Before the tourists and horses. Before the hoards. Most importantly: before the heat of the day strikes you down! Afterwards I wanted to seek out a coffee shop or café but instead went for my go-to, my #1 favorite thing to start a day with.

Levain Bakery Valrhona Chocolate Roll

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Something tells me you can’t go wrong in the tiny bakery, but I’m not budging from my pick. This crusty roll has rich melted chocolate goodness inside. You can try to put some chocolate and bread under a broiler at home to get the general idea… but nothing matches this. It is the stuff of dreams and I knew getting one on this trip was non-negotiable!

Thinking logistics especially when traveling solo is super important. In my case I had to carry around my nice shoes (for lunch) and some “touch myself up” supplies as I wandered around the city this quickly heating up day. I also had to get my suitcases all packed up in the way I wanted them for my business meetings the next day as I wouldn’t be getting to my hotel in New Jersey until after 10pm. A little planning can go a LONG way, is what I’m trying to say!

Vintage trims and creative inspiration: Tinsel Trading Company


It is how I knew Monday morning at 10am I could stroll into the famous Tinsel Trading company and enjoy the wonders within. If you don’t know their story – do check them out I love that things just got piled up and then later the treasure trove was truly gone through and rediscovered. I had the grabby hands for all the things – but managed to pick only a very VERY few special treats. Each time I wandered through the small store I discovered new and interesting treasures!


I was so sorry to have not known about this place the last time – and I’m so glad I got to finally visit. My other must-visit stop on that side of town? Laduree.

Macarons done right: Laduree

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The woman in front of me was trying to decide what is good. I said “you don’t go wrong with Laduree.” It really is true. I got myself a box of 12 macarons and I got them to last 7 days, savoring them one at a time and wanting to cry when the last was gone. If you think you like macarons – you don’t know what heaven is until you try theirs. They are by far and away the best I’ve had anywhere! I only wish I had a portable fridge with me so I could have taken one of each of the more delicate desserts with me too! (Sugar coma would have been worth it…)

I have been asked before “don’t you get lonely?” and “who do you speak to?” and the truth is I speak WAY more to the people around me when I’m alone than when I am with others. Conversations with waiters, cab drivers, shop girls, hotel staff… I shocked myself with how much I talked. It was good for me too – believe it or not speaking to strangers? NOT a strong point of mine.

Most amazing, special, worth it lunch: Jean-Georges


Ah, but there is something about friendship too and I was lucky enough to meet up with and enjoy a truly memorable lunch with Julie and what a treat! If you don’t already know and/or follow her I can’t say enough good things about Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. She’s inspiring, she shares so much of herself through her art, she’s always working to grow as an artist – and she’s one of my most favorite people to spend time with. I never get tired of her or being around her. Her taste in food is impeccable. I like her more every time we get together- and we always make some kind of good food a priority.


How you could you follow up the artistry of such an awesome meal? This part of the day was 100% unplanned and such a surprise and delight to me. Let me explain. I had decided if the Broadway show idea didn’t work out that I would go up to the Met and also the Cloisters (1 admission price to both places) as my main entertainment. Give me old art and medieval stuff any day- but I didn’t end up going that route. Now the easier choice for my location would have been MoMA – but looking at their website and all the featured stuff I just wasn’t so sure about committing my time + money on that as my one experience.

That is, until after a fabulous lunch Julie offered to walk me through MoMA on the quick (and free because she’s a member!) tour…


I loved seeing “Julie’s MoMA” as she speaks of her visits there often and always makes it so interesting. She was a magical tour guide. She hit the high points and had so much knowledge and interesting facts about the artists and paintings. It was just fantastic. We flew through two floors and I was really surprised what I was intrigued by, what inspired me, and what was just ok. This van Gogh has never caught my eye before, but in person was absolutely magical. The size and scale, texture, and presence of some of the art I was lucky to see really was inspiring. It made me want to look at more, and made me want to look for more art classes and museums too. Thanks, Julie!


Another artist I like but feel like I didn’t fully appreciated until seeing this massive work in front of me. So much WOW in such a short time and space! I also really appreciate being able to see these pieces so up close. “the texture” you could hear me whispering in reverent tones…

Of course this would be the end of my NYC time… you see the whole reason I was there in the first place was to head to Brother International HQ for work meetings! Not by chance – Julie was also attending the same meetings and we rode together through the Lincoln Tunnel (just like Buddy the Elf?!) and to New Jersey. So I met up with her at her apartment… and took this “secret” photo with some of her art before we headed out!


Her stuff is incredible on-line but like the paintings we saw in the museum – many things were even better in person. It was such great fun to see her place so full of art. If you’re in the NYC area just a heads up- she’s going to teach a class from her place… here’s the info.

The “solo” part of my journey is over, and it was a roaring success and a lot of fun. There are still a ton of places I want to eat at or visit in NYC including loads of museums, going to the top of one of those grand buildings, watching another show or three, and of course food. An authentic NYC bagel, cheesecake, hot dog, pretzel, deli experience, pizza, and several other things come to mind. Food trucks to fancy digs – I love it all. I wouldn’t mind some good sushi, a classic steakhouse, excellent Italian food, high tea at a fancy place, cocktails and appetizers in a swanky bar, really good pie, an epic dessert tasting menu, or more awesome cookies either.

The great thing about a little trip like this is that I got to explore, try new things, and I’ve got some experience so when I bring the family here (oh, they’re into the idea!) I can guide them a bit and have totally different adventures. I did bring them a bag ‘o Levain and Jacques Torres cookies though – cookies travel REALLY well just FYI.

While it won’t become a regular feature, my guides to various places/travels are going to pop up here on the blog now and again. If you’ve ever got suggestions for me- do tell! I would love to hear your favorite NYC spots for next time…

Seriously. So in love with New York I know there must be a next time. m

6 thoughts on “May in NYC: Day 2”

  1. Thank you, May for sharing your NYC travel adventure. I loved hearing about it all, and I am certain that Julie most definitely added just the right touches.

  2. Wow, great post! Thanks for sharing your adventure. Loved reading this. I was in NYC once with my daughter, it was a bus trip to the American Girl doll store (I live near Philly, PA, maybe 3hrs away). It was before my health really started to fail, but I’m not very adventurous, and we just stayed at the store. (Oh, and if business, or pleasure brings you to Philly, you must get a cheese steak, and visit the Reading Terminal Market). Anyway, really sounds like an awesome trip. And I loved that photo of you with Julie’s painting, too. Thanks for sharing. Michelle t

  3. it has been so fun to see your adventure in Nyc! I lived there for a year and it is still so magical to me. 🙂 You should add Magnolia Bakery to your list for next time. They have a few locations around Manhattan. And also for a fun whimsical “tea” experience, try Alice’s Tea cup. They also have a few locations, but my favorite is the one on East 81st St with fun window seating.
    I’ve loved following your blog (and Julie’s) for a while. There is so much inspiration for art and life!

  4. Fantastic post May. I think it takes some guts to travel solo. You need to be comfortable with who you are. I agree on those macaroons. We get them in HK too and they’re actually flown in From Paris.

  5. Thanks May, for a fun tour of NYC! Many years ago on my first trip to NYC I dragged my husband through the MOMA. (He has no interest in art)! Was thrilled that I got to see it. Have not been back but someday I will get there again and the cloisters will be my next museum to hit. Have a great day!

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