Monday, October 4, 2010

Week of October 4 to October 11, 2010

This weekend, I thought to myself – Why do I love NYC so much… Is it because it’s the melting pot of the world and you can interact with people of all walks of life? No, it’s not that… Is it because NYC is hip and fashionable? Yes, but not quite the real reason… Well finally, it dawned on me – that I don’t drive, AND yet I never miss a heart beat with this darn city”!

New York City is amazing for its accessibility to everything and
everywhere worth experiencing

Let’s exude our love for the city by trying some of this week’s great GEMs!

Feel free to share some of your own GEM NYC finds, or
if you’d like to drop us a line please do so at



FiDi – also known as the Financial District - is apparently the hip place to catch the VSpot Cafe food truck on the corner of Hanover and Water streets. I noticed it, because a guy out front was handing out samples of (wait for it) VEGAN empanadas. Oh yeah bring on the tofu! Did I also mention that it’s “Latino Vegan food”? It seems that people are into the healthy eating binge lately because there is always a line that goes around the corner to order food from this truck. Or maybe they’re just like me (a hungry Latina suffering from an overkill of greasy burgers), who gets all –to-much excited when she sees the words empanada and rice and beans together. So “why” Vegan? Well, “why not”?! For starters, eating a strict vegetarian or Vegan diet helps stop the torture that millions of animals experience every day. Not to mention, the health benefits of a Vegan lifestyle are impressive for the waist line. Clearly, nobody is saying that we have to stop eating meat completely, but with options like the VSpot Café Truck’s popular empanadas and famous soy “chicken” burrito, you might just think twice about your diet!


Famous TV chef, Lydia Bastianich is launching her very own
“Scuola di Cucina” – in NYC. To my mother’s dismay, my pots look as new as the day I got them from Macy’s – and my stove functions primarily to light my scented candles. So when I heard that Chef Lydia was starting a school in the city, I thought well, this is a GRAND opportunity for those who want to learn to cook Italian food from the best in this industry - sign me up! In addition to being the quintissential Food Channel “chef," independent "restaurateur," and "mother of Joe," – (think Iron Chef), Lidia Bastianich can now add "dean" to her name: that's her official title at La Scuola di Eataly, a new culinary endeavor that the Italian food colossus is launching now in October.

The 24-seat classroom will be used for lessons, lectures, demonstrations, tastings, and dinners; October's classes are largely composed of wine tastings, and establishing the series called “Aperitivo with the Winemaker”. Future classes will feature appearances from the likes of Cesare Casella and Dave Pasternack, as well as agriculturally artisanal producers. Classes will range from $75-$175; more information is available on their academic offerings site: La Scuola di Eataly.



Feed Your Kids the Arts…
The arts are enriched with the stuff kids need to succeed. Just like kids need to have good nutrition on a daily basis, kids need to have their daily serving of the arts. Studies have shown that involvement in the arts helps kids increase test scores and promotes academic achievement. Kids who are involved in the arts are:
  • 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
  • 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
  • 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
Chances are, though, that your kids are not getting enough art—in or out of school. "The Arts. Ask for More." public service advertising (PSA) campaign is designed to educate parents and citizens on why the arts are essential to a child's development and empower them to get more art into kids’ lives, both in and out of school.

Get Involved: Click here for 10 Simple Ways you can get more art into your child’s life. Find an
arts organization or PSA Partner in your area to find out more about the arts and arts education in your community.

Get the facts on why an arts education is so important to your child’s development. If you wish to support the Arts for Education initiative by signing an electronic petition click here.



Join New York City’s Latin Media and Entertainment Commission as they present the first-ever Latin Media and Entertainment Week here, in the capital of the world.

New York City is the media and cultural capital of the world. It’s where the arts
converge with industry, startups, businesses, and much more. New York has also grown to become a major Latin media and entertainment center, where ideas, creativity, innovation, and talent continue to shape our city into one of the most culturally diverse places in the world.

Events range from film, theater, dance, concerts, photography, art, museum exhibits, business
functions, and more. It’s a representation of the diverse and dynamic talent of the Latin communities. Featured participants include organizations such as The Met, El Museo del Barrio, El Repertorio Espanol, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, Loisaida Inc. and the Spain Arts Festival. To view and attend any of the participating events click here to download the schedule. Entrance fees range from $0 Free to $20.00.



If you’re looking to spruce up your apartment, and do not know how to – GEM recommends the following tricks to inject new life into your home on a limited budget.

*On the backs of open shelving, paint a color (not white!) to make the items on your shelves pop.

*Always keep a couple of cans of spray paint around. A clean, simple coat of high gloss white (any other color will work as well) can instantly turn an old mirror, pedestal, table, or vase from a garage sale find into the perfect decorator piece.

*Wall-to-wall mirrors may seem like a ’70s design leftover, but adding a little glass opens up the area and reflects light. You can also use small mirrors under your flower centerpieces to cause
continuity of the image reflected.

ruise flea markets and garage sales for bargain mirrors and glass jars. These types of vintage items are always easy to repurpose for various areas of your home. Paying attention to these small details shows that you're designing every nook and cranny. Check out any of these markets in the city for great vintage GEMs for your home…

Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market 39th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves - 212-243-5343; Sat, Sun 9am–6pm

Here you’ll find designer clothing, vintage vases and plates, and everything in between. It gets crowded quickly, so come early (by 10am) for a first pass at the vendors’ wares.

GEM find:
An assortment of designer handbags (including Louis Vuitton and Prada) priced as
low as $35, old soul and R&B records from $2 apiece and weathered wooden crates ($40 each).

Antiques Garage 112 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves - 212-243-5343; Sat, Sun 9am–5pm

This is actually a GARAGE - where 100 vendors can be found on two floors. The upper level is less populated, but offers a wide array of vintage prints, while the lower level is where more of
the vendors (and shoppers) congregate.

GEM find:
Vintage items such as a pristine Optimo cigar canister from 1929 ($50); an assortment of gem-encrusted rings, bracelets and other baubles (ranging from $35 to $85); and a whole section of vintage picture frames, some with old prints included, for $12.

Brooklyn Flea Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene; Sat 10am–5pm OR Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park between Main and Water Sts, Dumbo; Sun 11am–6pm;

The Brooklyn Flea has expanded quickly, with more than 150 vendors, many of whom can be found at both markets. Hit the Fort Greene location for vintage clothing and records, and the
park in Dumbo for upscale furniture and decorative items.

GEM find:
A brass birdcage ($60) which can be used as a light fixture –
by purchasing a ligh kit from any home improvement store – among other great metal objects, mirrors,furniture.

Columbus Ave between 76th and 77th Sts - 212-239-3027; Sun 10am–5:30pm

market is a hodgepodge of old and new items; secondhand clothing shares space with discounted beauty goods and handmade jewelry. If you’re looking for furniture, there are at least ten vendors with cool, affordable antiques.

GEM find: There is a vendor called Toaster Central, who sells working vintage toasters for as
little as $45.



Plus Fashion Goes Haute Couture: Saks to Carry Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, McQueen Up to Size 20

Saks Fifth Avenue is testing a placement of “plus sizes” on its high end floor with almost all the big designers participating. According to Racked, this diversification of style will not just include smart suits and evening gowns for the ladies-who-lunch set (though they’ll have plenty to peruse, with extended sizes from Akris, Armani, Carolina Herrera, Escada, Donna Karan, St. John, Oscar de la Renta, Max Mara, Valentino and Michael Kors).

Saks will also be stocking plus-sized pieces by ready-to-wear Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as from Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQuee
n, Fendi and Roberto Cavalli.

We, at GEM, think this is a major leap forward in terms of plus size fashion. As fashion tends to trickle downwards- meaning high end designers (Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana) set the trends and lower-end retailers (Forever21, H&M, Express) copy what the design houses created. So while the collections will be limited (only one of each size – yikes!) and the prices will be high, this test could have far reaching impact on plus size fashion at all levels of the retail chain.



Want to meet people and practice your “personal pitch” with others? Then you’d probably like to try your hand at speed dating. GEM went on a speed date last week, and we’d like to share our experience with you – so that you know what to expect on your own visit : )

When you arrive......................

Your hosts will greet you and sign you in. You get your introduction pack which includes a scorecard, pen, badge, a list of questions to ease you into your dating conversation as well as information about other events. You can then relax at the ba
r and gather your thoughts for half an hour before you get down to the serious business of dating.

Time to start dating.......................

Once everyone has arrived it’s time to take your seats in the designated area at your allocated table. One of the Speed Dating team members will explain a little bit about how the evening is organized and then the fun begins!

When you get the signal to start, copy your date’s name and badge number in the first line of your scorecard and then you can get to find out a little more about the person sitting across from you. The clock is ticking and though it might seem like a long time when you’re there, five minutes passes very quickly. And don’t forget - be sure to allow your date a chance to ask some questions too!

Before long, the timer sounds and the guys have to move to date number 2.

Between dates (NOT during), ensure you circle YES or NO next to the dates you have had to record your brief experience with the person.
Don’t worry guys - you get to meet all of the women at the event and ladies you will get to meet all of the gents (and better yet, you don’t have to move - the men will come to you). If only real life dating were this simple!

forget to mark your scorecard after each date and if both of you mark ‘Yes’ on your card to see each other again, you will get your partner’s details sent to you via e-mail.


Phew! That wasn’t so bad was it? Now you’ve had a chance to meet and find out a little more about 10-30 people you knew nothing about at the start of the evening.

It’s important to check that you’ve filled in the details you need to on your scorecard. After all, you don’t want to miss out on finding that special someone because you forgot to tick the box!

Finding out about your matches.......................

Within 24-36 hours you will know how many matches you have via email. If the people you said "YES" to also “checked” you - then you have a match, or 2 or 3…
With your prior consent, the Speed Dating organizers will pass along your contact details (Name, Tel #, Email Address) to your match(es), and you’ll receive theirs.

If you’d like to try this out, there are two speed dating events occurring this week. See the information below to register:

Latino Singles Speed Dating
Date: Friday, October 08, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Venue: People Lounge, NYC
Location: 163 Allen Street (between Rivington St & Stanton St) , New York, NY 10002
Recommended Ages: Women 21 - 35, Men 23 - 38

Cost: $35.00

Single Professionals Speed Dating
Date: Thursday, October 07, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Venue: Sin Sin's Leopard Lounge

Location: 248 E. Fifth St (at 2nd Ave.), New York, NY 10003

Recommended Ages: Women 33 - 45, Men 35 - 48

Cost: $35.00


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