Last Sunday was another cold day. It was one of those days when you just want to stay home, read a book and drink a nice cup of hot chocolate (like Jacques Torres' hot chocolate but that's another post ^_^). Peter dragged me outside to go to the NY Reptile Expo in Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. It was a 30 minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal.

After missing the express train, we just looked around to kill some time. Most shops were either just opening or preparing foods for the lunch crowd. Since it was Sunday, Grand Central wasn't packed with NYorkers who live outside the city but work there. And of course, there are always camera flashes from tourists.

There is a shop on the ground floor called Pylones that sell the funkiest looking things for your kitchen or room. There were so many cute things! I specially love wind up salt and pepper shakers and the veggie peelers!

By the time we arrived, it was nearly 1 pm. It was crowded, so taking pictures was almost impossible without someone's body parts end up in the photo. But I managed to sneak in there and click away. Although we don't buy anything, Peter (he's an animal lover) and I go to the show every year to see what they have. Peter loves snakes and enjoys seeing the different types they have at the show. I don't particularly like snakes and I'm afraid of touching them! Eck! I'm a turtle person so I just love seeing the tortoises there. I also really love the Poison dart frogs and would definitely love to own some someday but I don't know if you can legally own them here in the city. In the wild, these frogs are highly toxic but the ones at the show are captive bred and have lost their toxicity. They are unusually tiny--about 1 inch in size--with bold colors! Unfortunately, my pictures of them didn't come out well. But here's a sapphire-blue dart frog from National Geographic's website.

There were plenty of vendors selling different types of snakes, tortoises, Dart frogs etc. Every year there are more parents with their children--and buys them a pet. There was a couple with a son who bought him a turtle and the parents were buying equipments for the turtles housing. While the vendor explained the type of bulbs they should have, I saw that they weren't so happy and probably regretted buying the turtle. They needed more than one bulb! They obviously know nothing about taking care of turtles. The mother got pissed off for some reason and husband said, "You bought it now you take care of it!". They walk away and argue some more while the son just follows and the turtle was in a container. Poor unfortunate turtle!!

I've no problem with parents buying their kids pets but having a pet is like having another child. One must be committed and ready for the responsibility of owning one. You must take care of it! Get the facts first before buying one specially for children! But unfortunately not many people do that and their poor pets just get dump somewhere. Anyway, enough of my whining. These are just some photos that I have taken from the show. You can find more pics in my Flickr Album.

Last Saturday was the best day ever!

Traces of snow from last Thursday were now buried underneath freshly fallen snow and the frigid air from last Friday still lingered that Saturday morning. But the 7 degree weather didn't stop me from stepping out of the house. No, siree, I was on a mission to see one of my favorite Artist's exhibiting his work at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea. Unfortunately, I missed the opening night and I could've met him (and Susan Sarandon too) And who is this artist that I am talking about? None other than James Jean!

Little did I know that that day would turn into a little culinary adventure too! When my bf--Peter--and I finally got there we decided to have lunch first. We went to a place called F&B that serves European junk food. It's a small restaurant with a few chairs and a menu with plenty of "junk" to choose from mostly hotdogs, wraps, fries and sandwiches. I had the Hound dog (French andouille, stuffed with aged cheddar cheese and toped with home-made coleslaw) with truffle fries (fries sprinkled with black truffle oil). Peter had the Guard dog (chicken topped w/ sauteed onion mushroom mix). It was actually pretty good and I will definitely go back. Next time I will try the Veggie dogs AND take pictures to show you.

After lunch, we headed for the gallery. We got lost but finally found the building. It wasn't crowded at all probably because it was bitter cold outside. I nearly peed my pants when I saw his work! They were amazing! I've always wanted to see them in person and maybe learn his technique. When I see art, I usually get the same feeling as when a bunch of prepubescent girls scream and cry out when seeing, say, the Jonas brothers in public. Ok, so that's a bad example! But, anyway, here are a few of my favorites from the exhibit.

You can see more detailed illustrations on his website. Although it wasn't a big exhibition as I expected, it was definitely a great collection of the artist's newest works. A lot of his original pieces were already sold out. I would love to own this painting (Hare) but unfortunately I'm not wealthy enough. :(

After the gallery, we headed to Chelsea Market to get some Moroccan spices. The market consists of 18 separate buildings. There are about 26 restaurants and retail stores in the building. It is also where Food network is located.

We first went to T Salon. Peter is a tea lover so stopping by was a must! There were so many teas from different countries in silver containers and had some information about the teas.There was a table by the door were you can smell different types of blooming flower teas, spiced teas and more. It was intoxicating. The place was nicely decorated and the colors were very soothing. After looking at the teas they offer, we decided to try them first. We both tried 2 different Black teas; Tibetan Tiger and Almond chocolate with pieces. We sat in the back where there are red cushioned seats and wooden tables. Very relaxing!

It's a great place to just hang out with your friends or by yourself sipping your tea while you read a book. This tea cafe was definitely environmentally friendly. The tea containers are recyclable and lanterns were made of used tea bags. I was surprise to find out that the spoon I used was made of potatoes! Even the cups are made of corn. Yes, CORN! Finally, we left the store with 4 different types of tea. I don't remember all the tea that Peter bought but one of them was the Blood Orange mate. And I got the Naughty and Nice black tea that is "infused with walnut and apple mixed with roasted almonds, star anise, gingerbread vanilla and everything nice".

Then we went to look for spices at the Chelsea Market Baskets where you will find cheeses, spices, bbq rubs/sauces, cookies and other tasty goodies like the chocolates here. After getting the Moroccan spices, we just walked around. We haven't been here for almost 3 years. Even though I live in Queens, I usually just go to Chelsea galleries and didn't really explore the neighborhood.

As we walked, the aromas from different stores were tickling my nose. And I could smell the freshly baked goodies from the bakeries then I remembered eating a brownie from one of them. There it was! FAT WITCH BAKERY! I remember seeing it from one of Food Network's show and headed down to Chelsea just to try their brownies.

I'm more of a fruit tart and cookie person but their brownies are heavenly. In the back, you can see them making and wrapping delicious brownies. There were plenty to choose from and for $2.50 you get a good size fat brownie. I got the Wicked Brownie with minty green sugar on top. Bet Dorothy wished she could have some now!

We went to two more bakeries before heading home. Eleni's New York, where you will find plenty of Obama cookies and Ruthy's Bakery with their creative cakes. The Cookie monster cupcake is my favorite and he looked hilarious!

So, our little adventure was almost over. Peter was already ahead of me when I caught a glimpse of a man in a black peacoat talking on his cellphone. He looked familiar. Then I thought....Bobby Flay! Yah! There were a lot of people and I don't know if anybody else noticed that the man standing next to the elevator was Bobby Flay. Peter said I should've asked him for a picture and an autograph. "It would've been a great ending to your blog post". Too late, we were already in the train station. Oh, well! It was still a great day! Who knows I might see him again next time! ^_^
Yes, it is! Was I glad that I didn't have to work today! Winter is my least favorite season because it's too cold for me. ^_^ So, I got my bf to come over and cook me some soup. He made me Thai curry noodle soup. It is made with red peppers, coconut milk, chicken, Panang curry, green onions and ginger. It is a bit spicy and sweet. An excellent soup for the winter. I also made Coconut rice which was excellent with this soup instead of the noodles. I recommend Korean wheat noodles with this soup because it holds up it shape well soaks a lot of flavor. This soup can be made in less than 1/2 an hour.

Also, here are my illustrations of the unfinished The King of Hearts and the White Queen.
This blog has been empty for about a week but I am back from hibernation. Although, I've spent the majority of my vacation watching animated cartoons (Hayao Miyazaki movies and The tale of Despereaux), I've also been busy painting and re-painting some of my illustrations.

I'm a big fan of many Illustrators from the Golden Age of Illustrations--Arthur Rackham, Howard Pyle, N.C.Wyeth, Elizabeth Shippen Green just to name a few. My appreciation of their art and skills of storytelling increased after seeing works by great American Illustrators while working at the Dahesh Museum of Art in NYC and visiting Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, PA.

Anyway, I will talk more about that next time. So, after seeing several illustrations of Alice in Wonderland by several artists, I decided to create my own version. I will be working on several portraits of different characters from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. So far I finished The Queen of Hearts, Alice and The Red Queen. Right now, I'm working on the The King of Hearts and The White Queen.

It's amazing how much information you can find just by googling--is this a word?-- Alice in Wonderland! I stumbled upon this really great website created by Lauren Harman, a big fan of Lewis Carroll's books. Her site lists several illustrators that illustrated Alice in Wonderland. Don't forget to visit Lewis Carroll's website which has tons of links on everything "Alice".
Last but not least, you will find more info on American Illustrators on this website American Illustrators Gallery NYC. If you know other great websites by illustrators, please do let me know! Enjoy! ^_^
It's 2009! Another year gone by and what have we all done with our lives? I've asked this questions to those I know. In return, I either receive a blank stare or a really long answer from someone who had a great year. How many of us actually think about it? I think about it once in a while but it slips off my mind then if finds it way back. 2008 was a very confusing year with lots of decisions to make about where I want to go with my life.

It was a bit scary to be in grad school for Art history then realizing that it's not what you want to do! I sat in class with my friend Jenny (an artist) learning about Art history and we reminisced about the joy of being in the studio creating rather than being stuck in a room looking at slides. So, a decision was made; we quit school!

This March, my brushes will be going on vacation for a while and I will have new tools...cooking tools. Yup, culinary school. Art is my first love but I would like to pursue another love that has been set aside. Someday both will be combined to create something wonderful. Art feeds my soul and food feeds my hungry stomach lol. ^_^

So, I'd like to close this post with one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson, "I'm nobody! Who are you?"
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one's name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!