France is the reason that we have some great imports here in the US; they’re responsible for Yves Saint Laurent, Veuve Clicquot, croissants, and two of my favourites, the lust-worthy Christian Louboutin and Chanel. But one very French item that flies under the radar is the macaron. In my opinion, it’s one of the prettiest most delectable sweet treats in existence. And one of the best things that came out of my almost two-year work stint in advertising, was working a minute or two away from Macaron Cafe. It’s a tiny little cafe, tucked away in a very inconspicuous block on 36th street by Herald Square. Although tiny, it feels truly wondrous and magical when you walk in. First off, it’s almost always packed, namely around lunch time when nearby workers are trying to get their French fill with salads and sandwiches. In fact, don’t be surprised if there’s a queue outside with eagerly awaiting Macaron Cafe enthusiasts. But rest assured, if you’re into eating things that transport you to some heaven-like, unearthly place, it’ll be worth the wait (even at $2.50 a pop). Choose from approximately a zillion flavours, all concocted by French pastry chef/genius Cecile Cannone – from matcha green tea to creme brulee, grapefruit to honey lavender, jasmine to lychee rose, pumpkin cinnamon to nutella…they’ve got them all and more. They are colourful, delicious and perfect in texture: a chewy, bursting-with-creamy-flavour centre, surrounded by a flaky delicate shell. But be warned: they’re all gone in about two bites, and the experience will leave you longing for more. It’s hard to choose just one, so if it’s your first time going, try to go with a friend so you can explore as many flavours as possible together. Or, you can always order online and eat as many as your heart desires in the privacy of your own home! Click here to visit their website, or visit them in person at 161 W 36th street (between Broadway & 7th avenue) or 625 Madison Avenue (at 59th street). Bon appetit!
Among my friends, I am always the most prepared, purse-wise. So I put together a little list of the essentials that every girl should carry, at all times. And surely there’s a little room in your giant handbag for some necessities that will certainly come in handy at some point or another! And if there isn’t any room, then make some! Trust me, you need this.
1. Hand Sanitizer: In NYC, we constantly find ourselves in germ-ridden areas and situations; subway poles, handshakes, taxi-cab door handles and money, to name a few. In fact, did you know that touching money is even more filthy than touching a toilet (click here to read “6 Items You Touch Everyday That Are Filthier Than A Toilet”)? Gross! I mean think about it…who knows where that dollar bill has been? In an NYC sewer? With a drug addict’s coke stash? In a stripper’s g-string? The disgusting possibilities are endless. So do yourself a favour and sanitize, whenever you need to. I’m not saying you should become a germaphobe, but just be aware of when it’s necessary. Bath & Body Works make some great smelling, purse-friendly hand sanitizers called “PocketBacs” at very reasonable prices (usually five for $5). My favourite scents are Eucalyptus Spearmint, Orange Ginger, Fresh Lavender and Warm Vanilla Sugar. Click here to view their entire collection.
2. Gum and/or Mints: This is kind of a self-explanatory one, but you never know when you need a bit of a fresh-breath fix on-the-go, whether you just ate a particularly garlicky meal in Little Italy, or just need a little pick-me-up before a dinner date. Always important to be minty fresh. I highly recommend steering clear of any sugar-free gum or mint varieties; I’m a firm believer that artificial sweeteners are legal poisons that the FDA allows to circulate through our foods. Even though they tout fewer calories, several studies have shown that they may also lead to a bevy of potentially fatal illnesses, including cancer (although the FDA and most other agencies, especially government-based ones, will try to convince you otherwise). Personally, I’d rather “indulge” in a two-calorie tic tac, than run that risk! Click here to visit the Tic Tac website, one of my favourite pocket mints!
3. Pen & Paper: Yes, it’s true that we all have smartphones these days, with note-taking capabilities. But how annoying is it when you’re on a call and someone is trying to give you some important info you need to take down, like a phone number or address? 917…”OK, hold on, 9…1…7…OK, what’s next?” Frustrating! That’s why it’s absolutely essential you carry a pen and some kind of small notebook in your purse, to avoid situations like this. As old school as it may seem, it really comes in handy. Personally, I’m a huge fan of stationery, so I am well-stocked with many mini-notebooks from one of my favourite stationary brands, Moleskine (and I also have a large number of free TD Bank pens, in every nook and cranny of my flat). Moleskine makes great leather-bound or paper-bound notebooks in various sizes, colours and paper types (grid, lines, blank). Click here to visit their website and browse the selection.
4. Fragrances: A lady always needs to smell amazing, even if she’s just had the most sweaty gym session in existence. But don’t worry, you don’t need to carry your full-size perfume bottle around in your bag. Many perfume varieties carry a smaller, more convenient size, fit for any purse. In fact, Sephora has a whole section dedicated to “travel size fragrances”. I saw a 50% off tag on a set of Sephora’s most popular fragrance rollerballs in-store yesterday, for those who are interested — I believe it was $32 for a set valuing over $100! What a steal! And if you’re like me and don’t really like switching up your perfumes, Sephora has another great service, where you can ask for a sample of any perfume they carry in-store. So you can make your own travel-size version, even if the company doesn’t manufacture it. Click here to view Sephora.com’s online “travel size fragrance selection, including Dolce & Gabbana’s “The One” purse spray and refills, pictured below.
5. Compact Mirror: I can’t tell you how many times I find myself rushing out my apartment door, left to do my make-up on the journey to my destination. In fact, this is my situation more often than not. So it’s ultra convenient to have a little compact mirror, stuffed into my purse for touch-ups (and it also comes in handy after any meal where spinach is involved — nothing more unattractive than food caught in your teeth)! I picked up a super cute compact mirror handmade in India when I was vacationing in Mumbai a couple of months ago. But for a more local selection, Sephora comes to the rescue! They always have cute, bedazzled compact mirrors nearby to the checkout line, or you can always click here to see the online selection, including Tarina Tarantino’s mirror, below.
6. Stain Remover: Accidental spill? We’ve all been there. But don’t moan and groan about your stain sorrows — help the situation with a Tide to Go stick. Now, bear in mind, it doesn’t have magical powers. Rarely have I seen a stain completely disappear. But it certainly makes a big difference (much better than that big splotch of tomato sauce on your white blouse, anyway)! The Tide website claims it’s “the #1 instant stain remover [based on sales] and helps remove some of your toughest fresh food and drink stains”. So keep it on you, just in case you have one of those “whoops” moments. Click here to view the product on the Tide website.
7. Tissues: Nothing worse than a sniffly nose without a tissue. It really sets me into panic-mode — how on earth will I stop this sniffing, tissue-less?! Don’t run into that situation and prepare yourself with some Kleenex Pocket Packs. There are of course, several other situations where a tissue is the only way out as well. For example, tearful moments…or when some unknown substance somehow made contact with your hand…or when you want to be like one of those weirdos on the subways/buses who use tissues as a buffer between their hands and the poles (I admit, that might be a smarter route than directly touching the communal, metal, germ-stick, but they still look weird to me).
8. Make-Up/Hair Necessities: This is a category where you can pick and choose what suits your personality/lifestyle. I am not one to wear too much make-up, so my in-purse make-up selection is seemingly sparse, compared to others. You can prioritize anything, between pressed powder, mascara, eyelash curler, eye-liner, lip gloss/stick, bobby pins, hair ties etc. Personally, I carry black eye-liner (in case I make impromptu day-to-night plans, it helps me look evening-ready) and a couple of lip balms and glosses/sticks. I particularly like Yves Saint Laurent’s Glossy Balms, as they are more balmy with a hint of colour and shine (click here to purchase from Sephora.com).
9. Smartphone “Juice Pack”: I recently invested in one of these and it’s truly a Godsend. If your smartphone has a “juice pack” available, then buy it! For those of you who don’t know, a “juice pack” is a phone battery charger that doesn’t require a wall outlet; it’s battery-powered, itself. So when you’re running around the City and your phone runs out of juice, you can re-juice it on-the-go, and use the phone while it’s juicing! Brilliant! I use the Morphie case for my iPhone 4S (click here to purchase), which is great.
10. Acetaminophen and/or Midol Tablets: Not too much to say about this one either, but just in case you get a crazy headache or ridiculous cramps, you should have some Tylenol or Midol on-hand. This way, you can at least try to stick around, wherever you are, instead of bail and head straight for the comfort of your bed.
And of course, never forget the very basics, like your credit cards/cash, keys, ID, phone, etc. You certainly don’t want to be stranded without any one of these things! So before you head out and start your day, take a look at this list, and make sure you are well-prepared for any situation NYC throws at you!
I absolutely love Neiman Marcus. Housing several brands under one roof, this luxury department store has something to offer everyone. But if your shopping habits are anything like mine, one trip can lave your wallet in a serious depression. But wait…there’s hope! I was extremely excited to discover Last Call by Neiman Marcus, thanks to my parents. The discount version of Neiman Marcus has several shops cross-country, as well as a fantastic website, lastcall.com. But don’t be fooled; just because it’s categorized as a “discount shop”, doesn’t mean it offers any sub-par merchandise. In fact, it carries many of the same brand names as it’s umbrella store, including Alexander Wang, Badgley Mischka, Haute Hippie, Stella McCartney, Andrew Marc and Elizabeth & James, to name a few.
What leaves me a loyal Last Call customer for life are their awesome “extra” sales. Prices are already severely discounted compared to original retail prices, so it’s an awesome added bonus to receive any extra percentage off. For example, today Last Call is offering an extra 30% off of handbags, shoes and jewelry (both in-store and online), where you can scoop up some of your favorite high-end pieces, at some very low-end prices. Even more exciting news is their free shipping offer on orders over $75! Just use the code LCMAY75 at checkout, and check out some of my favorite handbag and shoe selections while you’re at it:
Lauren Merkin – Lucy Embossed Patent Leather Clutch in Lemon, $175 (plus extra 30% off at checkout) on sale
Click here to purchase
Oryany – Willow Snake-Print Clutch in Rose, $180 (plus extra 30% off at checkout) on sale
Click here to purchase
BCBGMAXAZRIA – Sequin Snake-Print Clutch, $115 (plus extra 30% off at checkout) on sale
Click here to purchase
Yves Saint Laurent – Baobab Platform Wedge Sandal, $897 (plus extra 30% off at checkout) on sale
Click here to purchase
Click here to purchase
Mark + James by Badgley Mischka – Mariola Suede Bootie in Black, $195 (plus extra 30% off at checkout) on sale
Click here to purchase
Click here to visit the Last Call website in its entirety.