Category Archives: Brooklyn

Wanderlust Wednesday: Brooklyn Love

My wedding day, written by my sister, Danielle.

Blu Owl Gypsy

I have to admit, Brooklyn was not an area I visited often when I lived in NY. Though, in theory, it was a short trip from where I lived, the truth is the traffic was normally a nightmare, and mass transit wasn’t appealing to a person who likes to get in the car and go. So when my sister announced she was getting married in her neighborhood in Brooklyn I decided to take my vacation time to be with family and we booked a night at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge the night before the wedding.

Marriot at the Brooklyn Bridge Brooklyn, much like NYC,  is an area in that is growing and evolving. Truth is, when we drove in, I was stunned by the amount of development that had happened since I was last there.  The Barclay Center, which debut was in 2012 , has created an epicenter for new construction, businesses…

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Coming to an End

Inspired by Street Artist Kurt Wenner
Inspired by Street Artist Kurt Wenner

Life moves very fast. It rushes from Heaven to Hell in a matter of a second.

-Paulo Coelho

This is not a napkin. I haven’t photographed one of my napkin drawings in a while but I started to work on bristol paper again. I was inspired by Kurt Wenner who created many 3D illusions on pavement using pastels. An old friend gave me his book, Asphalt Renaissance, which documents his journey through Italy as he makes a living from the change he collects for his pastel chalk creations. I’m fascinated by the whole idea of him living his passion, working for himself, and his technique. In fact, I read an excerpt about how one of his creations was viewed by the Pope John Paul II. He made a 75 ft. tall creation of The Last Judgement. Incredibly detailed! On the top of this creation is Heaven and the classical European version of what artist’s believed God must look like. I started to sketch it but discovered that I wanted to make it female. Based on what I learned in Catholic school, God is neither male nor female so I took some artistic license and created this drawing instead.

I have been away from my napkin doodling but I continue to draw. I went to Tom’s Coney Island Diner on the boardwalk not too long ago. The famous amusement park is closed down and the seagulls weave through the tracks of the Cyclone roller coaster. Small bits of snow intermingled with the waves. So many people go fishing off the piers, even in the winter. So, I drew a bit at the Diner and the waitress assumed I was a tattoo artist based on my illustrations. She said her manager did that stuff too. I took it as a compliment and realized that there was a very creative vibe coming from the patrons. There was even a motorcycle gang who met in the back for lunch. All walks of life sat at the front counter to eat hot food and see the football game. There’s something about just sitting near the beach that has a healing effect on people and let’s everyone just relax. It was a good vibe and I really needed it.

It’s the end of 2014. So much has changed. Some of it has been good and others, not so much. It’s hard to quantify it. One thing I know, I think the year of napkin doodling and blogging appears to be coming to an end. I’m proud of this body of work: the illustrations, the reflections, and the photographing of different places around Brooklyn. It’s both strange and gratifying to put my work out there for anyone to read. Thank you so much for letting me share this year with you as I doodled my way through all the tea and coffee in the neighborhood. As my mom would say, go gently!

Enjoy the holidays and have a very happy New Year!

Napkin Doodle Photograph Winner

Good Morning!

Some good news…

About a week ago, I posted a photo of a napkin doodle as I usually do. Usually, I take the photo but I forgot my camera that day. My fiancé who is knee deep into photography decided to take the photo for me (and I should have given him props in my blog for it). Click HERE to see the original blog.

What’s really, REALLY cool is that he won a photography competition through AdoramaPix on Facebook and got $50 in photo lab credit. I’d like to believe it’s all good karma for helping me out with my blog. The competition was to come up with a photo that fits the “Coffee” theme. The judges had nice things to say about different aspects of the photo including that they loved my artwork on the napkin. Made me feel pretty good.

If you have Facebook, you can check his winning photo out HERE!

Um, that’s all. ::curtsy::  …more napkin doodles to come.

Harvesting

There’s nothing in a caterpillar

that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.

-R. Buckminster Fuller a.k.a. Bucky

Drawn at the General Greene over breakfast.
Drawn at the General Greene over breakfast.

My weekend has been full of vineyards, corn mazes, farms, pumpkin patches, Harvest Festivals, and apple pie. Good weekend memories helped me get through a hectic Monday and has me wistfully longing for Columbus Day weekend. Granted, I still need to take allergy medication and load up on Vitamin C. However, the cool air sweater weather has me feel like I’m floating effortlessly down the streets of Brooklyn. I get hopeful whenever I see another tree begin to change color and have cravings for roasted corn.

How are you celebrating Autumn?

Late Summer Doodling

Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf is a flower.

Albert Camus

Late Summer Doodles

Happy first day of Autumn!

I am home with my first cold of the season. It’s not fun but, usually, this is my favorite time of the year. I’m more likely to be found wandering around outside rather than indoors. The cool weather invites bike rides, tea, and farmer’s market shopping. In fact, I did my first NYC Century Bike tour this year. I rode 35 miles through Brooklyn, Queens, Randall’s Island, and Manhattan. Last week, I went to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops play at BAM. Last weekend, it was the Brooklyn Book Festival. These are my excuses for not keeping up with my blog lately. However, I continue to leave my doodles at diners and cafes.

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Proof.

That was me drawing at Junior’s restaurant. My boyfriend and I went there for my birthday cake a couple of weeks ago. Junior’s is known for their cheesecakes and even had a street called, Cheesecake Way, named after this historic diner’s claim to fame. The décor is over the top with their bright lights and bold colors. Hundreds of celebrities have had their picture taken at Juniors which are displayed around the diner. It’s a big old tourist trap that has been there for decades but I sort of love it. I feel like I’m in an Edward Hopper painting whenever I get to sit around the counter. If the waiters discover that it’s your birthday, your cake order gets a candle and a serenade from the staff.

Corny but fun stuff!

Birthday Cake at Junior's

Birthday Doodle

More surprises…

A couple of days after my birthday, my boyfriend and I went to one of our favorite diners when we first started dating, the Clinton Hill Diner. It’s across from Pratt University and the amber lighting and dark wood gives the place a hearth like feeling. The waiters are always friendly and there’s a nice opportunity to walk through Pratt’s Sculpture Park which is open to the public and to admire the old architecture in Historic Clinton Hill.

Clinton Hill Diner

Mummy

After a walk towards the Brooklyn Flea, my boyfriend and I decided it was perfect cool weather for a nice long bike ride. I waited for him on our favorite stoop. When he finally arrived, he got down on one knee and proposed.

Yay, we’re engaged!

Butterfly Girl

The leaves are changing and so am I, it would seem.

Much love and many doodling daydreams!

Mary, Chief Doodler

Simple Lines on Summer Days

I’m still doodling but haven’t been posting as much. Life happens and I’ve been riding the emotional rollercoaster that goes through it all.

Brooklyn Flea in August 2014

My three nephews moved to Florida last week from New York. I miss them already.

I was thinking of them when I drew this while waiting for a friend at the Brooklyn Flea.

Syracuse Sailboat Doodle

Drew this during a road trip to Syracuse, New York a the Blue Water Bar and Grill. Was going to visit a friend whom I haven’t seen in 2 years for her re-wedding. Her initial wedding was in China and I was about to meet this new married entity for the first time. Disorienting but it was lovely and am quite happy for them both.

Drawing on a napkin at Junior's in Downtown Brooklyn
Drawing on a napkin at Junior’s in Downtown Brooklyn

After a long, long road trip with my very exhausted boyfriend, we found solace is a huge bowl of pie a la mode at Junior’s. It’s a historic landmark known for their cheesecake, really.  Many celebrities have graced this place with their presence over the years. I felt like I was in an Edward Hopper painting while sitting at the booth.

Drawn at Mega Bites Diner
Drawn at MegaBytes Diner

Finally, a return to good old Megabytes Diner! It’s been particularly crowded there lately. Students have returned to the local colleges. Parents are visiting. And, I return to work at my school as well. As much as I’ve enjoyed my summer, I’m looking forward to finding a routine again, the cooler weather, long scarves, and hot tea. And of course, more napkins on which to doodle.

A Brooklynite in Seattle

JFK Doodle
Doodle at the JKF airport, waiting to board my plane.

My Journey

Wasting no time after my photography class ended, I booked a flight to Seattle. Why Seattle? Rain. Brooklyn is brutal in the Summer months. My neighbor calls our top floor, The Percolator.

It’s an old Brownstone, heat rises, and I live in what was probably the attic in the 1800s. Needless to say, my summer trips have been centered around finding some place cool, temperature wise. Seattle’s rain seemed like the right idea for a nice, cool August.

Seattle’s Indian Summer

Seattle Ferris Wheel

Me: It was so cloudy this morning. I thought it would eventually rain. But, what the heck, it didn’t. Are you sure I’m in Seattle?

Delivery Guy: HA! Rain in Seattle…that’s what we tell everyone else so they won’t move here. We’re having an Indian Summer. It barely rains these days. 

Me at Pike's Place

Hot Coffee on Hot Days

I explored but I’m not going to lie. It was disappointingly hot during the day. Since I was escaping the heat from New York, I had to reconsider what I was doing in Seattle during their Indian Summer. Not the weather I was expecting! It was no cooler than Brooklyn but it had a dryer heat so, on a good note,  the shade actually worked like air conditioning.  

I told myself there would be lots to see and much coffee to be had. Yes, I belong here, I decided.  Headed for lunch at a pub called The Pike’s Brewing Company, in part, I went there because their décor outrageous and begs to be seen. I especially loved all the bikes hanging from the ceiling. Biking seemed like it would be impossible since half the roads were at 90 degree angles but, clearly, there was a bike culture lurking around here. Anyway, it was good grub after a long plane ride and it was around the corner from the alley with the gum wall. Fun touristy stuff!

The Pike Brewing Company

The good waitstaff  there recommended Seattle Coffee Works for a decent cup of coffee if you’re near Pike’s Place. They were spot on if you’re looking for strong, flavorful coffee. However, I got sucked into the biggest coffee tourist trap in the Public Market. That’s right, the first coffee location before it became an international corporate franchise. (I know all you independently owned coffee house owners are facepalming yourselves right now). The first Starbucks! Moment of shame. Don’t worry, I figure out a few things during my week long stay.

First Starbucks in Pike's Place Market; Seattle, WA
First Starbucks in Pike’s Place Market; Seattle, WA

I felt like if you’re a tourist in Seattle, it’s your job to visit Pike’s Place Market. I’ve visited here several years ago and absolutely nothing has changed. Nothing! In Brooklyn, there are buildings and stadiums being built faster than you can say, fuhgettaboutit. In Seattle, it seemed like keeping the history alive is EVERTHING. Even the original Starbucks had the same older version of it’s logo. The only thing that seemed to be changing somewhat biomorphically was the ever expanding Gum Wall, seen below. I couldn’t see this massive sponge wall of saliva idea going well with the uber health conscious former NYC Mayor Bloomberg. So yes, this had to be seen.

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Delving into Seattle’s History

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Sure, why not. Hopped on the very expensive Ride the Duck tour and got the skinny on the city. The history of Seattle’s golden age of grunge, Kurt Cobain, the Beatles, Iver’s Fish Stand, Sleepless in Seattle, Skid Row, etc. History was frantically extolled by a hyper (caffeine-induced) bus/boat driver ad nauseam as we honked our approval with loud duck whistles.

Oh no, did I really do that? A formal apology to the good people of Seattle then. I fell for yet another tourist trap. Disney could learn a thing or two from Seattle, I think. I shutter to think about the money I spent on this. Tomorrow, a new quest and less expensive.

Beyond Starbucks: Trying All the Coffee 

In an old brick railway arcade lies the Grand Central Cafe
In an old brick railway arcade lies the Grand Central Café

Okay, I didn’t really try all the coffee in Seattle or I wouldn’t be alive to write this blog. The strength of one cup of coffee in Seattle feels like 3 coffees from the diners in New York. Café au Lait (half milk) became my strategy and I was happily rewarded with a pretty steamed milk doodle of a leaf on the top of it at the Grand Central Bakery and Café. This place became my favorite place to go early in the morning.

I dug the brick, the cobblestone, the underground bookstore, and the shade of trees everywhere. The baristas were kind but not hyperactive nice which felt calming and I got a lot of drawing done. If you’re curious, feel free to check out my Seattle napkin doodles, HERE.  

Had it been my first time in Seattle, I might have done the Underground Tour again which is down the block from here. It’s a funny, historical tour of the original city of Seattle that is still partially standing underneath the current city. However, I think I felt done with historical tours.

More Coffee!!! MORE COFFEE!!! And then…

Cherry Street Coffee House Ghost Alley Expresso

…you crash.

Between Jet Lag, walking up huge hills at every corner, greasy fried fish, and too much coffee, you feel done. JUST DONE! I hadn’t drank that much coffee since I worked in a bookstore after high school. My stomach was tied in knots and I was incredibly jittery. I’m an herbal tea person so what did I expect? Even the Central Library had a cafe. Naps were needed and I suddenly felt the need to get out of touristy part of Downtown Seattle.

Gasworks Park

I rented a bike through a great company called, The Bicycle Repair Shop (across the street from the famous Iver’s Fish Stand) and followed a 16 mile trek through Olympus Park, across the Locks, zoomed passed the Botanical Gardens, passed through hipster Ballard  and Fremont nabes, gave up on finding the Fremont Troll under the bridge and finally stopped at Gasworks Park and took it all in. Perfect place to regroup before venturing across the University Bridge and up the toughest street hill ever.

Sadako Sasaki

Along the way (Peace St.), I encountered a statue of Sadako Sasaki, who inspired the book called, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. I used to run an Origami club after school hours and this story was the reason behind it. Legend had it, if you folded a thousand paper cranes, you get a wish. Sadako was 11 when she passed away from the A-bomb disease (leukemia). While she was in the hospital, she tried to fold the paper cranes in order to live. When she passed, her classmates finished her cranes and made it a wish for peace. The cranes are now called Peace Cranes.

It completed the trip but I think I started to miss home.

Back to Brooklyn

Since arriving home around midnight last Friday, I nursed a massive headache for two days from coffee withdrawal. I joined the world in my shock over Robin William’s passing and cried my eyes out over movies like Dead Poet Society. And then Lauren Bacall, the last great actress of the Golden Age passing away. It’s rained all week in New York (the irony is not lost on me).

Autumn feels closer and closer.

And yet, I feel good to be home, finally. I’ve reclaimed my people of Brooklyn, even welcomed the unexpected screams of the Japanese punk rock band who screamed ‘Shut the f* up’ to the audience at the Socrates Sculpture Park last night as I ate sushi and fed catnip to one of the park’s stray cats. The audience looked on and seemed to appreciate this impolite but passionate expressive art. It was a huge change from the polite, happy tourist scene from the week prior but, somehow, it made me feel validated as if I was suddenly part of Ginsberg’s howl. Angst needs an outlet and the boroughs of New York City seem to find modes of expression in its art. I bike rode home to Brooklyn from Queens on flat streets and it was all good again.

Back to my own art. And back to herbal teas.

Peace and Decaf,

Mary

Doodling in Seattle

Good morning! Thought I’d share a few doodles from my trip. Seattle was lovely. Lots of coffee, bike riding, and touristy things. I missed home though and was ready to come back to Brooklyn when it was all over. You know what they say…you can take the girl out of Brooklyn but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the girl. I will have dreams about Seattle’s plethora of amazing coffee and treats though. Back to tea for me though. Too much coffee makes me all jittery. So, take a peak at my doodle gallery and enjoy! Clickity-click it!