Saturday, December 24, 2011

Warm Thoughts

Is it pathetic I want to be this cookie?
Maybe a little...But we here at Gramercy want to wish all of our residents a warm and happy winter break!  To any holidays you may be celebrating, we hope they are wonderful!  Have a happy, healthy New Year everyone!  We'll see you in January!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Making Of

"Making Of" videos are so interesting. I love watching a movie that has amazing effects become deconstructed into something called a breakdown. Here are a few of my favorites:

From my favorite visual effects film of all time, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, this clip shows a breakdown of the incredible film. For 2009, these are ground-breaking visual effects using head replacement and explore the concept of "motion capture", which in my opinion paved the way for other great VFX films.

Also one of my favorites as far as breakdowns go, Alice in Wonderland is an amazing way of showing the true amount of effort it takes to create powerful visual effects.

And one that you wouldn't expect would have so much VFX, but is very heavily reliant on it: Black Swan.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bus Trippin'

This past weekend I made my very first adventure to New Jersey.
And not just any part, but Seaside, NJ. That's right, the Jersey Shore.

It's a little different than you see on TV this time of year. The boardwalk was empty of people except for a few bundled up joggers. The beach was clear, with only a few visitors, and all the shops and little restaurants were closed or boarded up for the winter. It was strangely empty and very beautiful. I couldn't go and not get in the water though, so in below forty degree temperature, I attempted my own mini Polar Bear Plunge. For th
ose of you who have never heard of that before, Wiki describes a Polar Bear Plunge as " event held during the winter where participants enter a body of water despite the low temperature. In the United States polar bear plunges are usually held to raise money for a charitable organization, while in Canada they are associated with New Year's Day."

For me, it was just running into the water half naked and shooting a picture, and shrieking curses the entire time because I was so cold. You get the picture. If not, I actually made a photograph while doing it....

All in all, my mini vacation from the city was fist-pump free...and freezing. I concluded my trip with a visit to Wawa, where I enjoyed my first New Jersey style hoagie. It was muy delicioso. I'm looking forward to getting out and visiting Jersey again, as well as other areas around New York. It's nice to get out of the busy streets of Manhattan for a little while...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Album Reviews with Kerin: Chromeo's "Business Casual"

Ladies, if you haven't heard of Chromeo, prepare to swoon. Really, really hard. Listening to Chromeo is like having a crush for the first time, and then realizing that your crush is really hot, speaks French, plays half a dozen instruments and sings songs about loving you right. It also feels like drowning while dancing, in the BEST WAY.

'Business Casual' is their latest full length and I have been non-stop jamming to it ever since it came out. It's one of those albums that I am always in the mood for, especially when I'm walking down the streets of New York and need something with a good beat. There is no feasible way to stand still and listen to Chromeo; they're infectious and get stuck in your head but not in the way that makes you want to listen to something else to make it go away. It just makes you want to listen to more Chromeo. They're undeniably smooth in their approach to get ladies (and men, because even my boyfriend has fallen victim to their charming ways) to fall in love with them. This album is the definition of swag and is for every kind of music lover, especially if you've got a soft spot for Michael Jackson who was an obvious influence.

My favorite tracks are probably all of them but since this is about giving recommendations and not just being under the Chromeo spell (can you tell that I am? This will be you in a few hours) I'll highly recommend their singles, "Hot Mess", "Don't Turn The Lights On" and "Night by Night." One listen is all it will take and then you'll illegally pirate the entire album and then the entire discography. Also, if you ever get the chance to see them live, I highly recommend it. I had the time of my life dancing and singing for two hours when they came to Terminal 5 this past November and it was the most fun I've had in a long time. Also the singer is incredibly gorgeous and definitely doesn't hurt the eyes. His name is Dave 1, and he dances like this:

Boom. I bet you just fell in love.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The most magical door in Gramercy?

While walking through the halls of Gramercy, there is one door that stands out from all of the rest. 

Whether it is the personal messages written on the whiteboard each day, or the visual representations of each major here at SVA, one thing is for sure. The residents of 3A love NBC, Spongebob, and pancakes.

I am proud to say that my major made it to the door!  Yay Screenwriting!
Can you find your major?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I have to get a what?

I'm graduating.  This means that I have to start thinking about heading into the work world.  This is EXACTLY how I feel about it.

You with me seniors?!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gramercy Pets... Barbara Vasconez's kitties!

Karma Delight Vasconez
She was found in a scary neighborhood. She was addicted to cat nip and then I saved her. A few times I caught her trying to buy some cat nip but I stopped her. She is now one of the happiest cats in the world.

Kenneth the page Vasconez. I found him walking around 30 Rockefeller Plaza. He had laser gun wrapped around his belly. He told me he auditioned to be part of Lazer Cats, but Bill Hader never called him back. He was so upset, he turned to drinking whole fat milk. For months, he was waiting to work for 30 Rock again but he couldn't. He was out of shape and scared of the world. Then, along came an awkwardly shaped Barbara and saved him. Now, we both long to work with 30 rock forever. But for now, he is happy to be home with Karma and my parents.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ode to Stop Motion

Stop Motion animation made a brief comeback in 2009 with films like Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline. Although there was a considerable amount of CG involved, it was still stop motion nonetheless. In August 2012 from the creators of Coraline, Laika (a CG film company) will release a new film called ParaNorman, WHICH WILL BE AWESOME. So, welcome back Laika AND stop motion.

Along the lines of stop action animation, a gorgeous short was released by Zealous creative. Their piece Zero is an excellent and pretty much flawless piece on this studio's part. I look forward to what these guys produce in the future.

And lastly, from the internet stop motion master, this famous piece is a perfect example of the capabilities of incredible 2D animation.

There you have it, stop motion awesomeness!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Your adorableness for the day...

You've been warned...this is actually too cute.
Time to take a poll!  Who is cuter?  The baby or the dog?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your adorableness for the day...


Sup bro?

Badass Banana Bread

I'm not gonna lie, I'm as busy as the next art student. I have class Monday through Friday, and I have shoots and homework assignments every weekend. But all work and no play makes Twig a very irritable person. So, I play when I can. One of the best ways to do this, is to combine it with something else I already have to do. Like eat. I've already shared my favorite cookie recipe with y'all, so I thought I might move on to something a little more practical for eating on the daily.

After attending the Gramercy Goes Bananas program, I become the inheritor of a few lovely bananas. I tend to forget about fruit sometimes, so they were just starting to go ripe when I remembered their existence and decided upon their final fates. Without further ado, I give you my recipe for the most simple and badass banana b
read! It takes about five minutes to whip together, an hour to bake, and seconds to scarf down fresh out of the oven.

BADASS Banana Bread

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed (I go with 4 because I like a little extra banana bam!)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar (you can do 3/4 cup if you need to watch the sugar!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
cinnamon sugar (optional, but super delici

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas, and slowly add the melted butter. Next, mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the bowl and stir in. Add the flour last, and mix. There's really no need for a mixer, just use some good old fashioned muscle power. Pour th
e mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. You can butter the pan using a small pad of butter, wiping the inside walls and bottom of the pan until a super thing layer covers them. Here's where you use the secret weapon, cinnamon sugar. Taking a nice dash (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle over the top of the uncooked loaf. It will bake into the top of the loaf, adding a nice cinnamon kick to the crust. Bake for one hour, and let cool.

That's my masterpiece.

A good trick to know when it's done baking is to take a small toothpick, stick it as far into the loaf as you can, and remove it. If it has gooey mixture attached to it, you know the insides of the loaf haven't fully baked yet. If small crumbs, or better yet, nothing, is attached to the toothpick, you're done! When you remove it from the pan, you can slice it up and serve it hot, or add spread some peanut butter on it for a truly yummy experience that will have your taste buds going bananas!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


That's right.  You read the title correctly, I said tea.  RA Molly is not a tea person.  I would much rather drink a nice cup of coffee... latte... cappuccino... espresso... oh goodness I could go on for hours about the gloriousness of the coffee bean.  But, that is for another day. Today is about tea.  

Isn't this picture already just so calming?
I may not be a big tea fan...unless of course it looks like this... 

BUT, I have recently experienced some of the health benefits to drinking tea, so I thought I would share.  My close friends and family know that I have a very picky stomach.  I am allergic to milk and have a bunch of other food sensitivities.  Yeah, it's not fun.  But over the summer I found that drinking peppermint tea calmed my stomach.  It was also a really good way to unwind before bed.  Herbal teas can provide a ton of positives for your body.  Click Read More to check out the list!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New York by Nicole: The Best of 5th Avenue

This is a full day with a little something for everyone!  Central Park, shopping, art, major New York landmarks, and the most gorgeous view of New York City!  This is a great itinerary for someone who has a short amount of time in NYC.  It's also the itinerary I do the most with guests and it's great year round; it's really impressive at Christmas time!

The Best of 5th Ave!
Duration: Roughly 5 hours, I prefer starting this mid-morning and ending in the late afternoon.
Cost: Moderate ($40 - 75, depending on how you do it)

View Larger MapView Larger Map

Starting Point: Central Park Duck Pond
Entrance is at 61st and 5th Ave
Cost: Free

Grab your cup of coffee and take a lovely stroll through the Central Park Duck Pond, it's a great way to get a small snapshot of this gorgeous park.  There's a lovely foot bridge over the pond that yields to a gorgeous NYC photo and moment.

B: The Plaza Hotel
5th Ave at Central Park South
Cost: Free

This is definitely worth a look.  It's so incredibly iconic and beautiful with it's copper roof and flags flying out front.  You can take a stroll through the hotel, which I recommend, they have the most beautiful flower arrangements and now you can say you've been there.  If you want to really swank it up, you can spring for brunch or breakfast at the Palm Court, but do so at your own risk because it will break the bank.

C: Apple Store
5th Ave between 58th and 59th Streets
Cost: Free

For you techie nerds, welcome home.  This is the iconic Apple store that everyone wants to check out.  If you're into Apple products, you'll enjoy it.

D: FAO Schwartz
5th Ave at Central Park South
Cost: Free

This is a must see!  Not only does it bring out your inner child (really... it does), it's where they filmed the famous piano scene in the movie Big, and you can relieve it.

Next make your way down the famous 5th Ave!  There are lots of places to stop and gawk at!  Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Trump Towers, and many more.  The window shopping is divine - especially at Christmas!

E: Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
11 W. 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Ave.
Cost: SVA students get in for free plus 2 guests!

This is a fantastic museum and a great place to stop and have some lunch.  Danny Meyer owns and runs all the restaurants here and they're all fabulous!  Make sure to check the MOMA website for their upcoming exhibits, they're always worth a look but unless you're a member, you have to book times to view those in advance.  And always get the audio tour - it's free and worth having with you.

My recommendations for the MOMA
  • Definitely hit up the 6th floor and see whatever special exhibit is going on, they all tend to be pretty spectacular.
  • The 4th and 5th floors are part of their permanent collection, which is unbelievable.  You'll see Van Gogh's Starry Night, Monet's Water Lilies,  Picasso's, Mattise's, Dali's, Pollock's, Rothko's and many others that you've only learned about in school.  
If you have more time, you can certainly do the rest of the museum, but I find these three floors to be sufficient, impressive, and enjoyable.  It's also not museum overkill.

Lunch: Cafe 2
MOMA second floor
Cost: $20 approx.

By the time you get to the MOMA, you'll probably be ready for a little lunch.  Cafe 2 is a great little Italian restaurant that is perfect for lunch!  It can end up being a little pricey, but it's the least expensive of the restaurants at the MOMA and it's really worth it.  

My recommendations - get a few things and everyone share: Herb Roasted Chicken Panini with fontina and sun-dried tomato tapenade, Chickpea Salad with citrus, fennel, beets, cucumbers, and greens (which is huge), Creamy Cornmeal Polenta with homemade arugula-walnut pesto, fontina cheese (this will make you think you've died and gone to heaven), and their soup of the day is always a winner and great to dip the panini in.

F: Radio City Music Hall
50th Street and 6th Ave
Cost: Free
I like to walk people by here for a great photo-op of them in front of the famous Radio City marquee.

Optional:  They have a tour that you can take here that's really informative about the architecture of the interior of the building - which is stunning!  However, it's over priced ($20) and kitschy - you meet a Rockett, eh.  But if you have time and money to blow - go for it!

G: St. Patrick's Cathedral
5th Ave between 51st and 50th Streets
Cost: Free
Built in 1858, this is one of the most gorgeous churches in New York City.  It's no wonder that people have been coming here for 150 years to seek solace.  They offer free tours, but you have to call in advance, 212-355-2749.

H: Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock!
Entrance is 5th Ave between 50th & 49th Streets
Cost: Free - $0 - 30, depending on what you do

There is sooooo much to see here!  They have a great interactive website that can help you make the most of this fantastic cluster of amazing architecture and landmarks.  They have a great tour of Rockefeller Center ($15, cheaper if you combine it with Top of the Rock) with a that comes with a supplemental audio tour - it's worth it if you have the time.

Walk down the famous Channel Gardens (5th Ave between 49th and 50th Street) that leads to the iconic Prometheus Statue (during the winter, this is where the ice skating rink is).  Definitely take a walk around 30 Rock's lobby, the murals inside are stunning.

Refuel:  30 Rockefeller Center has a HUGE food court.  If you're needing a little pick me up and a snack, they have it - and everything else - in their basement level.

Top of the Rock
Cost: $23 (and worth every penny!) One thing that you have to do while you're in NYC is go to Top of the Rock.  It's a three level outdoor observatory on the top floors of 30 Rockefeller Center.  It's the most spectacular views of New York City that I've ever seen.  It rivals every other observatory in NYC.  You can go day or night, and it's amazing at either time.

I hope you enjoy my Best of 5th Avenue Tour!  It's great fun and I enjoy it every time!

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Little Kitchen: In a Flash Grandma's Chicken Noodle

With flu season upon us and the threat of snow tomorrow (what's with that???  It's still October!), nothing is more comforting on a cold stormy day or weathering through a crummy illness like some old fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup.  

Now, my grandmother made the best chicken noodle soup I've ever had (just as I'm sure everyone's grandmother did).  She would roast the chicken, make the stock, and homemade noodles... it was heaven.  But I'm lazy and don't have the time or space in my kitchen to do anything close to that.  However, I have mastered a recipe that is just like Grandma's and you can make it in less than 30 minutes, if that.
In a Flash Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 8 Servings

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stocks, chopped
*Note: to make this "chopping" process even faster, Trader Joe's sells chopped onions, celery, and carrots all together in a container in their produce section - 1 container of that will do just fine.
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbls Olive Oil
8 cups Chicken Stock 
1 rotisserie chicken (I like the ones from Whole Foods, but any store bought one will do)
2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped (don't use dried... the fresh is worth it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NYC by Nicole: Immigrant Neighborhoods Food and Walking Tour

Eat your through New York City's historical immigrant neighborhoods!  Have a nosh and wander through some of New York's oldest neighborhoods.

This tour will take you through the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and back full circle to where you started.  Since there is a lot, and I mean a LOT of eating on this tour, it is recommended that you share everything (it's also cheaper that way) so you don't end up in a food coma halfway through.  But it you do it right, you'll thank me later!

NYC Immigrant Neighborhoods Food and Walking Tour
Duration: All day
Cost: Moderate $40 - 50 (includes TONS of food and admission into 2 museums)

View Larger Map

Starting Point A:  Breakfast in the Lower East Side
Start your morning off right with a traditional Jewish nosh.  There are two great options on Houston for a filling breakfast.

137 E Houston St, b/t 2nd Ave and Chrystie St
Cost: $4
This place has been slinging world famous knishes since 1910!  They're piping hot and delicious!

Recommendations... Potato Kinish - you can't go wrong with a classic.
- or -
179 E. Houston St., b/tEast Houston St and Chrystie St
Cost: $4
This purveyor of smoked fish and specialty foods has been around since 1914 and is a fourth generation owned store.  It's worth the pop in just to see.

Recommendations... Bialey toasted with scallion cream cheese - no one will appreciate your breath as the day goes on, but it's well worth it, so who cares.  I'm not a lox fan, but I've been told they are the best.

Eat your bialey or kinish while you make your way down Orchard Street to the Tenement Museum.

108 Orchard St., b/t Delancey and Broom
Cost: $15 - 20
This is really a NYC must see!  I can’t believe it took me so many years to come here, but I’ll be back on a regular basis.  Step back in time and into the preserved and partially restored 1863 tenement building at 97 Orchard St., where you can get an idea of how our ancestors lived when they first came to America.  It's an eye opening and extremely touching tour that I highly recommend!  Building tours are limited to 15 people, so you may want to consider buying tickets in advance.  Also, they have an awesome gift shop.

Recommendations... Getting By: Immigrants Weathering Hard Times Tour, it is extremely comprehensive and wonderful.

Next it’s time for a little taste of Chinatown…

118 Eldridge St, b/t Broome St. and Grand St.
Cost: less than $5
This is my favorite cheap eats in NYC.  Not only is it good, but it’s fresh and made right in front of you.  Watching the Chinese women make the dumplings and scallion pancakes is memorizing and fascinating.  Tip: Bring cash!  They take cards with a $9 minimum, and you could buy the whole place lunch and never hit $9.  It’s soooo cheap.

Recommendations... Get the Peeking Duck Scallion Pancake, it'll change your life.  No really, I'm not kidding.  Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

After you’ve finished stuffing your face, it’s time to waddle down to the beautiful and historical synagogue on Eldridge.

12 Eldridge St
Cost: $8 - 10
This is a Jewish Synagogue that was built in 1887.  They recently finished a 20 year restoration and it was well worth it.  This place is beautiful, serene and historical.  Another must see.

  • ·         Do one of the free guided tours they offer.  They have them every half hour.
  • ·         Mondays are free.
Now it’s time to hit up little Italy and have a little gabagool, as Tony Soprano would say.

Grand Street, b/t Mott St. and Mulberry St.
Cost: Depends 
These are the two best Italian deli and cheese markets in Little Italy and they’re right next to each other.  You can’t go wrong with anything in these places.  Pop in, grab a little smattering of cheese, cured meats, and maybe a stuffed pepper or two and continue on your way.

37 Spring St, b/t Mott St. and Mulberry St.
Cost: $4 - 7
This rice pudding bar in NoLita is one of a kind.  They have 20+ types of rice pudding (and you can try them all before you decide).  It’s a great stop for a sweet treat.  The portions are big and the pudding is very rich.

Recommendations... Man Made Mascarpone Rice Pudding with roasted cherries, it’s rich, subtle but not too sweet – it’s to die for and clearly my favorite.

263 Mulberry Street, b/t Prince St. and Houston St.
Cost: Free
If you've watched The Godfather, you've seen the inside St. Patrick's Old Cathedral—this is where the infamous baptism scene was filmed. It’s New York’s first Cathedral Church, built in 1818.  The outside doesn't look like much, but it’s unbelievably stunning on the inside.  There's a maze of mortuary vaults underneath the cathedral, and the outdoor cemetery is the final resting place for notable and historic New Yorkers.

Finish up your tour of Little Italy and NoLita by ending full circle back in the Lower East Side.  Round off your day of eating with an old fashioned pastrami or corned beef sandwich.

H: Katz Deli 
205 E Houston St, b/t Avenue A and Essex St
Cost: $20 
This is hands down my favorite Delicatessen in NYC, and there are a lot of good ones to choose from.  It’s been around since 1888 and has been in numerous movies, most famously where Sally had her “orgasm scene” in When Harry Met Sally.  The food is expensive, but the portions are HUGE!  So you can share and still have leftovers.

Recommendations... The Ruben and a Chocolate Egg Creme - just do it.