Yukie Beauty Spa: A Midtown East/Upper East Side Nail Art Salon

My friend at work was going to get nail art, and it reminded me how much I love getting nail art.  Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up, I’m getting excited about wearing more colors and bright nails are definitely on my horizon soon.  I have a favorite Japanese nail art salon in midtown called Yukie Beauty Spa.  For months, I was going there consistently, but I was working in a conservative environment and I felt like I was pushing the outer limits with my nail designs.  A little about Yukie Beauty:

  • The salon uses Calgel and BioSculpture Gel which is thick, lasts long time, and can be used to slightly lengthen nails.  Most other gel manicures are thinner in comparison, and are not used to extend nail length.  (There are other gels and regular nail polish available at Yukie, but their true skill is nail art.)
  • The nail technicians can do anything that you request with your nails.  They truly are artists.  They can create shapes on your nails, they can paint them with specific designs, and they can also adhere stones and little objects.  I recommend bringing pictures of what you want, because it’s easier to communicate what you’re looking for visually rather than verbally.  (Especially, since many of the technicians that I’ve had mainly speak Japanese.)
  • The gel manicures have lasted me about 3 – 4 weeks without chipping.  The issue is that by that point your nails area so grown out that you have to get them redone.
  • My manicures have run me about $60-$70 depending on the amount of nail art.  This is reasonable in comparison with some places that start a little higher.
  • The salon space itself is small, and has about four spots available for manicures.  (There is also a connected hair salon, but I have not been there.)  They offer you a water, tea, etc. when you’re there.  One thing I really like is that they have a basket right next to your chair for your handbag.  I never put my bag on the floor!
  • It is located on a second floor walk-up right off Madison Avenue on 58th Street.  It’s right by Tao Uptown and the Four Seasons.  If you’re meeting someone right after, or have a significant other waiting — I suggest the bar at Tao.

This is my first gel manicure from Yukie.  I tried it right after Christmas, and right in time for my birthday:img_5102-2-2603144411-1519516169962.jpg

Here is one time I requested nude beige-toned nails, and a lotus shape flowed with a spec of gold in the middle:img_5512-1

This is a nautical design that I had during the summer.  It had navy stripes, and a small red heart accent:

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This is a more simple peachy-tan colored design, with a small printed black and gold line on the accent nails:img_6924

This an example of when they painted little leopard spots that I requested on my ring fingers.  Please excuse how grown out my nails are in this photo.  This is when I was completely overdue to change my nails at four weeks.img_5449-1

This is a pink and rhinestone racecar-like design I got right before a summer Europe trip:img_6253

Now that I don’t work in a conservative environment, I cannot wait to dream up exotic and neon designs!  The sky is the limit!

Link to reviews:

Yelp 4.5

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Eastern Europe in Astoria: Bulgarian Appetizers and Dessert, Cured Meats, Cheeses, and More at Parrot Coffee Grocery

One thing I love about New York City is the diversity of food.  Not only are there all different types of restaurants, but there are all different types of grocery stores.  You can find speciality grocery stores that carry Asian, African, Eastern European, South American, and the list goes on.  Queens, the great New York City borough, being one of the most diverse places in the United States, unsurprisingly is home to many of these shops.  One store that I love going to is Parrot Coffee Grocery in Astoria, Queens.  As per their awning, they market themselves as “European Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.”  I have mainly seen Bulgarian and Turkish products, but that’s okay with me because I go specifically for Bulgarian food 🙂  Parrot Coffee Grocery is the last stop on the N train, on the intersection of Ditmars Blvd. and 31st Street.

I buy cured meats, packaged and fresh cheeses, spread, bread, chocolates, and sweets.  Specifically I go here to purchase:

  • Lukanka
    • Pronounced: loo-khan-ka
    • Cured pork (could be beef) made with different spices
    • It’s comparable to a salami but it is a lot more dense and packed.  Depending on the brand/variety that you buy, the taste may be spicy, it may be softer/chewier, etc.  There’s a Wikipedia article on lukanka that’s kind of helpful.
  • Fillet Elena
    • Cured and dried pork, that pulls apart like a chewy salty jerky pork chop.  This is my absolute favorite, and I love the spices on the outside of the meat.  It’s a combination of black pepper and savory/salty spices.
  • Bulgarian feta
    • Bulgarian feta can be either cow or sheep milk, but the one that I buy at Coffee is sheep.  The sheep feta is creamier and softer.  It’s a little less crumbly and salty than a Greek feta cheese.
    • Note: FreshDirect and Whole Foods both actually sell Bulgarian feta.  I think the Whole Foods variety is a little better, but I buy it from both places.
  • Kashkaval
    • Pronounced: khash-ka-val
    • Soft/Semi-Hard fairly mild cheese made from sheep or cow milk.  I prefer the sheep’s milk because it’s a little more tangy.  Kashkaval has a very balanced taste, and it’s not very acidic or salty.  It goes really well with clear spirits or red wines.
  • Lutenitsa
    • Pronounced: you-te-nee-tza
    • Red pepper spread made with some tomato paste, oil, and spices
  • Baked Goods
    • Baklava
    • Kadaif
    • Banitza

Here are pictures from some of my Parrot Coffee Grocery hauls.  Obviously, there are some patterns!
img_4154img_4155They also carry Polish chocolates that come in a few flavors.  I’ve tried the cherry and orange flavors — so good!Grab your kashkaval and lukanka, and have a drink!  Here’s a plate that I made with kashkaval, lukanka, and some sesame bread.  (The white spots are because the bread got too close to the Bulgarian feta.)  Think of these plates like a Bulgarian antipasto plate that goes really well with pre-dinner drinks and wine.  You can also just have them out for an evening of drinks and appetizers, but not an actual dinner.   Bulgarians drink “rakia” which is a clear smooth brandy/grappa type drink.  It is meant for before, during, and after dinner!I make these plates about twice per week, when I have supplies from Parrot Coffee Grocery!  They’re so good for days off, when you want to hang out for a couple hours and have something to eat and drink.  Cheers!

Take the NYC Ferry and Skip the Subway on a Nice Day: Wall Street to Astoria

I live in downtown Manhattan, and I had to run an errand in Astoria today.  What better way to get there on such a beautiful day than by boat!  It was my husband’s idea to take the ferry rather than the subway.  I know…you’re probably rolling your eyes right now…  On the weekends though, getting from downtown Manhattan to Astoria, Queens is annoying and time-consuming (about 45-50 minutes on the subway).  It takes 45-50 minutes on the boat too, but better to float along the waterways than traverse the city tunnels!  $2.75 is much better spent on a scenic ride than on the subway, and you can even buy beer on the ferry!  There are other refreshments on-board as well.

This wasn’t just any old boat; this was the New York City Ferry system!  I’m sure you’re skeptical reading this, but the boat was actually clean.  On such a warm day, it was a scenic fun alternative to taking the subway when it’s perfect and 85F degrees outside.  My husband claimed he loved the boat ride so much, that if he ever had the need to, he would commute using the ferry!  (Don’t worry there’s indoor and outdoor seating!)  We took the route from Wall Street to the bottom of Astoria Park.  The stops beginning from Manhattan are:

  1. Wall Street/Pier 11
  2. East 34th Street
  3. Long Island City
  4. Roosevelt Island
  5. Astoria

Magnificent views of the Brooklyn Bridge as you leave Pier 11:Views of all of Manhattan’s major landmarks!There’s the UN!Long Island City stop right by the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign along the beautiful new LIC waterfront:Passing by the Roosevelt Island stop:Selfie time!  We’re about to get off the boat! 🙂
I highly recommend taking the ferry ride if you’re looking to enjoy your commute!

Everyone was in the New York Fashion Week Spirit Today

I took a walk all the way from downtown today.  I must say that everyone was in #NYFW mode.  People’s outfits were better than usual, and everyone seemed to be taking pictures.  I walked through the Flatiron neighborhood, and Banana Republic had a live show going on outside.  Fun and loud!  The set-up was interesting.  The models were walking up onto a platform and posing, facing the opposite side of the street.  Then across the street a NYC TOUR BUS was loaded with all of the photographers!  I was WONDERING why the models were facing the other direction…  At first, I thought it was a promotional fashion show put on for shoppers, like they do sometimes in big stores and malls.  However, I guess it was half promotional half campaign. 

Here are some pictures below:The tour bus load of photographers:Check out the special lighting installation they brought in (upper right corner of the photo):A little further uptown there was a model being photographed in front of the Flatiron building and it was causing a stir:I told you everyone was in the spirit.  Look at these different pairs of ladies taking glamour shots:More commotion in a tent across the street:Alright if you insist, I will take a selfie too lolLet fashion ring!  Welcome to autumn!

“Burberry in Bloom” at Brookfield Place: Beautiful Free Bouquets for Valentine’s Day

I bought my fiancé a pair of his beloved Burberry boxers that recently ripped, right before Valentine’s Day.  They don’t actually sell them in-store, but I ordered them on Burberry.com and collected them in-store the very next day.  They had such a beautiful promotion for Valentine’s Day.  They were giving away a freshly made and trimmed bouquet to each person that made a purchase.

This was the spectacular set-up right when you walk into the store:I took my beautiful bouquet and headed home.  Goodbye Burberry!   I love carrying around luxury shopping bags…  Who doesn’t?!I brought them home and unpackaged them only to find how perfectly assembled and preserved they were.  I don’t even always get this type of packaging when I buy from the florist.They perfectly sealed the flowers and rubber-banded water into the plastic to keep the flowers fresh: Perfect for my glass vase!Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day!

Grocery Delivery to Your Door in Under an Hour??  Yes.  It’s real.  FoodKick. 

I worked from home today because I have a terrible cold, and I overall feel disgusting.  All I  wanted is someone to hand me tissues and make me chicken noodle soup.  Since my fiancé had to go to work, I was left on my own.

I had some of the ingredients for chicken noodle soup, and I was dangerously low on tissues and tea.  I remembered I had a coupon floating around for something that said grocery delivery in an hour or less.  All I knew was that it’s called FoodKick by Freshdirect, and I love Freshdirect so I decided to try it.  Here’s the coupon and my sick station at the coffee table:img_1811I decided to go for it, and try FoodKick.  I mean they were offering $25 off and 60 day free shipping… I ordered my chicken soup and sick supplies, and 52 minutes later it was delivered:img_1812Here they are… I was so happy and thankful for technology, and it made me feel so much better to have some homemade chicken soup:img_1814…and tissues… Hello little nutcracker 🙂img_1816I’m getting started…Realized I didn’t have celery seed so I made do with sticking a celery stalk in there during cooking.  I also put in whole garlic cloves because garlic is so good for you when you’re battling a cold. All done!!!!!img_1820My soup was so ridiculously delicious, and I didn’t have to lift a finger for tissues or tea.  No complaints here.  I think the new FoodKick by Freshdirect idea is genius. Especially if they keep their delivery fee to $3.99 (even though I got it for free this time).  I’ll definitely be using this again.  I try to plan out what to get for the week, but it’s not always easy to do and sometimes special cravings come up.  Like tissues…  Also, did I mention how much I love NYC?  Where else can you get onions and tissues delivered to your front door?  #NYC

Put Down the Drink for an Hour. Go to the Whitney in Meatpacking. 

If you’re looking for something to do in the city to break up the monotony of going out for drinks and dinner on the weekends, I suggest going to the Whitney in Meatpacking.  The new location is hip and vibrant, and doesn’t feel like a stodgy old museum.  It gives the museum a whole new vibe.  (The old location was on Madison and 75th–not quite what you’d call “hip” 🙂 ) Plus the Whitney is open  until 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights, so even if you’re not a museum person, it’s worth to go walk around for an hour or something before dinner.  I went on Friday with a few people from out of town, and we walked over to Spotted Pig for drinks and dinner afterwards. On Friday’s the Whitney has “Pay What You Wish” so it’s all voluntary pay, but if you work for certain companies (or have friends that work for then) the Whitney gives a corporate discount so you don’t have to pay an admission fee.I’ll start with the outdoor part because the views from the terraces of the museum are 360 views of New York.  Rarely does a museum have such amazing outside portions.  And in true Whitney fashion, there’s still art out there to admire. Check out this amazing view and sculpture.  She literally looks like a body painted-woman that’s about to jump out at you at any second. They had a really interesting cinema art exhibit called “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art 1905-2016.”  I guarantee it isn’t quite what you’re thinking of… it was part club experience part movie experience but all very trippy.  It was composed of all separate rooms and areas set up with sound and light fixtures, projectors, adjoining screens, and all types of stuff.

Let’s step into one of the rooms…This exhibit below with the oranges was one of my favorites. They even had real oranges strewn around the floor.  Here’s a video clip of the experience:

My fiancé and I made some of our own art lol ….playing with shadows….A different exhibit I liked was this room that had a video playing and reels of photo tape or whatever this was, that you can step on and crunch to your heart’s desire:

#shoeselfieisfree  😀

Another cool exhibit was this rectangular shaped room with lights alternating flashing ceiling lights, and what looked like dead frogs stuck to the glass:There were also beautiful original prints from Disney’s Fantasia. Who doesn’t love that classic movie?? After the cinema art exhibit we went to quickly visit the other floors.  These two pieces below were my favorite from this part of the museum.  This sculptured woman was so terrifyingly real, even down to her veins:Last but not least, I loved this painting that is a recreation of the view from a bathroom in 432 Park Avenue:Anyone interested in buying a $70 million apartment?