On Reinvention.

Yes, I know, I’ve not been posting often.. but there’s a reason why.  Upon my return to NYC I’ve been faced with another set of challenges.  Where I want to go with this blog entirely depends on my interests and what I plan to focus on in this city.. and the options are overwhelming!

The funny thing about moving so often, is that in each new place, you are given the choice  to reinvent yourself.  When I lived in Milan, I reinvented myself as a socialite (and a gelato fanatic, but let’s not get into that)- I tried to meet many people, attend many parties (er, clubs), and travel to many places.  When I lived in Boston, I reinvented myself for the corporate world- I dyed my hair from blonde to brown, read the newspaper on the T, and worked 9-5.

When I resided in Amsterdam, I reinvented myself in many ways: as a sort of Mary Poppins (nanny, home maker, etc) music enthusiast, and frequent traveller.  Now in New York I’m given yet another opportunity to pursue other interests, such as fashion and art.  Gosh, I’m starting to think I have too. many. interests.

Anyways, in the beginning (about two weeks ago when I moved), I wanted to keep my Brooklyn life simple.  Work hard, enjoy the company of friends, live a well- balanced life, cook healthy meals and go to the gym.  That was all.

Now, after meeting new people, riding the subway, seeing and feeling the rhythm of the city, I want more.  I want to reinvent myself with salsa lessons, and writing courses, boutique shopping, and theatre nights.  Galleries and patisseries beckon me with every glance.   There are martinis to be drank, parks to be walked through, and jazz to be listened to.  I want to live and breath New York culture again, and nothing shall stop me!

And now I progress to the point of this post.

When you live in such a varied city, you have choices on where to spend your money, and often you are judged on those choices.  Call it materialistic, call it phony, call it whatever you like, but in the big apple, one’s purchasing choices are a major topic of conversation.

Every like and dislike of my New Yorker friends is filed away in a little library in my brain, and brought to the forefront during what I call, a “preference discussion.”

Do you like Billy’s or Magnolia’s cupcakes?

Do you prefer Moma or The Met?

Starbucks or the coffee shop around the corner?

Bloomingdales or Henri Bendel? (for me, it’s more like H&M or Zara..)

Brooklyn or Manhattan?

Japanese or Thai?

Opera or ballet?

The possibilities are endless.

In the big city, it’s all about the little choices.  We may not control how fast the subway goes, or the price of our deli sandwich, and we CERTAINLY cannot control the price of a cocktail ($12 for a vodka tonic last night- boy, I wish money grew on trees)– BUT, we can control our preferences and hold our opinions as high as the Brooklyn bridge.

This all came full circle to me the other night as I was sitting at my new desk, staring at the New York City skyline, and practically pulling out my hair trying to think about what to write.  In my new New York City life, I would like to focus on discovering and reviewing the best of what this city has to offer, therefore reinventing myself as a proper New Yorker with educated opinions.  Whether it’s a yoga class or a restaurant in Little Italy, a new exhibit at The Frick Collection, or a music venue, New York has it all, and it would be my honor to share “it” with you.   For myself, I hope to find some new classes and hobby’s to keep me thoughtful, feeling fit, and in-the-know (salsa is at the top of the list..)

Finally!  It feels so wonderful to have a purpose.  This weekend I’ll be reviewing brunch spots in Brooklyn; bring your coffee, and read up on the best eggs in town.  xx Helen Anne

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2012: Helen Anne, The American Girl.

Sheeeeeeee’s back! After a month of r & r (I realize few people get any r&r in December, but I guess I was lucky this year), I’ve returned to normalcy.

As a first  step, I’m now employed.  As a second step, I’ll be moving back to New York City!  And as a third step, I’ve embraced my new American life.  My partner from The Netherlands is due to arrive in early February, and life couldn’t be better.

I’ve decided to continue the blog while living in New York, and will keep the “euromode” name.  Though my posts will not be as travel oriented, I hope to share with you the incredible, beautiful, and crazy experience of living in “the city that never sleeps.”   You’ll meet some friends, some family, and tour famous museums.  I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite neighborhoods to brunch, stroll, and dance in.  Don’t worry– their will still be world renowned architecture & designer fashion.. perhaps I’ll even venture beyond the Tri-state area once in awhile.  2012 is a fresh slate, and a new Helen Anne.  I’m happy to be back, and hope you’re ready for a new mode.  Welcome to New York everybody.  xx Helen Anne

 

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Back in the U.S.A.

Hello friends, family, and other readers.  It’s been a long time since my last entry, but the past weeks have been consummed with goodbye visits, packing, and finally, moving back to the States.  I have to break the sad news- the “euromode” phase of my life is now over.  For the time being.

I arrived in Bosoton last Friday night, and am now at my mother’s house in Connecticut, getting used to American life again.  But not all is sad- it’s been wonderful to see my family after a year, and a trip tomorrow to NYC to visit friends and go apartment/job hunting is in order.  I can eat hamburgers with no remorse, ride in a car when it’s raining (a huge luxury), and partake in the very spirted American Christmas season.  I can shop at J. Crew again, and eat my Mom’s buttery scrambled eggs.  I can explore Manhattan like it’s a brand new city, while simultaneously visiting friends I’ve known for years.

Yet I find there is a hole inside me, that grows deeper daily.  I’ve left behind a family I’d grown extremely close to, and I’ve left behind the love of my life.  I’ve left behind adventure and bicycles, new friends and easy, European living (and also strict, dinner table manners).  I know I should be thrilled about my new New York City life, but it seems so different and complicated, compared to the simple living I have learned to enjoy in Holland (never thought I’d say that..)  The biggest question that faces me, is how can I take all the lessons I’ve learned abroad, and incorporate them into my new life?  I feel that I have changed in a million ways, and all those meaningful molments must not go to waste.

So I ask you, reader, to help me.  Have you ever gone through a major change in your life, and how did you incorporate the old, to strongly build “the new you?”  I know change is good, but for some reason, it’s taking longer than usual for me to adjust. xx Helen Anne

 

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Sweet November.

It hurts my eyes to look at the calendar, and see that this is my first post for the month of November.  Wow, I’ve been slacking.  However, I do believe my excuse is a valid one.  I have less than three weeks left in this amazing place called Europe, and I am planning on making every day count.  Therefore, I have been busy.  Realllyyy busy.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Time with the Family

Kids, music, wine, good conversation.. what more can one ask for?  I’ve been so lucky to have such a deep bond with the two girls I look after, and their parents.   Saying goodbye to them on December 2nd, will be very difficult 😦   I really feel as if I’m part of their family, and that has meant worlds to me.  (More on this lovely bunch later!)

Visiting Vienna (and Graz!)

I received (as I like to say) a once in a lifetime chance, to visit Austria with a local.  Being that I am a bit of a history buff, I jumped at the chance to visit this grand old city, and meet some of the people who live/d there.  What I didn’t realize, is how many lovely Austrian people I would meet in Graz, the hometown of my friend Ulrike.

Below are some things you should know about Austria:

1. The people are friendly and fantastic 2. The mountains and cities are equally breathtaking 3. If you like conservatories and princesses, you will love Vienna 3. Music & dance here is top notch (that is, if you enjoy a nice waltz, or folk dance from time to time). 4. I’m definitely returning to Vienna for a number of reasons.. cakes and balls are at the top of my list!

Swan Lake

Het (Nederlands) Nationale Ballet’s Swan Lake is in the running for the best live ballet performance I’ve seen yet.  Until last night, my top picks have been New York City Ballet’s Don Quixote, and the Paris Opera Ballet’s Paquita.  This was only my second time seeing Swan Lake live, and boy was I impressed.  The Swan Queen was absolutely flawless; it’s very rare for a ballerina to have a performance without a minor mistake.  I am an extremely critical observer, and I did not spot one misstep.  As Odile she was absolutely fierce, hitting every leap and turn with a punch.  As Odette, her physical beauty shone through; her arms, sinewy yet graceful, made her a believable swan, and her legs reached to magical heights.  She had both excellent technique (her feet.. no words), and unmatchable artistry.  Then there were the costumes, the synchronized Swan coeur, and the unbelievable sounding live orchestra.  The show was just satisfying in every way.  Following the dramatic ending, the audience stood clapping for 10 minutes, while the cast bowed, and bowed again.

Dinners & Clubs

Lastly, I’ve been trying to see as many friends as I can before I depart.  This provides a lovely excuse to eat (and dance) out– a double date over tapas and sangria, girls night at Canvas op de 7e, and a party night at Club Up have topped the list.

This weekend I’m off to Copenhagen with some friends.  Until next week, I bid you goodbye.  Doei!

photo credity: Conde Nast Traveler

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My Hobby.

Friends, I have a hobby.  Well, the fact is I have many hobbies, but this is about as “crafty” as it gets.  You may be thinking to yourself, “oh collaging, that’s so 90’s..”  But it just so happens that collaging is timeless, treasured, and an excellent way to relax, while thinking creatively.  How can I combine these different images to get the big picture?  Somehow it gives me unexplainable delight to take these silly magazine cutouts, and arrange them according to my definition of perfection.  I hope you like them. xx Helen Anne

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Literary Friends.

Reading is fun.  Tanja, the eldest of the two girls I look after, absolutely loves books.  She devours them regularly and with intensity; to be precise, every 2- 5 days.  Being nine years old is the best age, because the books you get to read are s0 imaginative and entertaining.  The somewhat dreariness of life’s realities are erased momentarily when you become literally “stuck” in a book.

In my day, I read Nancy Drew books like no other.  Cover to cover in 2 days (on my Summer vacation).  The same went for the other series: Little Women, Little House on the Prarie, and Anne of Green Gables, though those usually took a week or so.

Rediscovering reading (books, that is- not the internet or magazines), is one of the best things that can happen to a person.  Although the internet is tempting- some may say information is too attainable now- I have found it to be extremely satisfying to log off, and get lost in a novel.  With that, I give you some fun titles:

Up Next:

Apollo’s Angels

The Human Stain

Cleopatra: A Life

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Love in the Time of Cholera

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3 Day Getaway: Maastricht and Cologne.

Last weekend I travelled to Maastricht and Cologne on a last-minute getaway.  The weather was lovely, and spirits were high.  I accomplished a couple of things on the trip.   One will shock you, the other will not.

One: I climbed two very tall church towers, the tallest of them (the 509 steps high- Cologne cathedral tower) in high-heeled boots.  For an explanation, see photo below.

Two: I bought my first designer dress!  The dress is not from a major designer like Gucci, or Diane Von Furstenburg.  Rather, it’s from a very small label in Germany called Berg and Kather.  This purchase was made in Maastricht, at a truly amazing shop, of which I cannot recall the name.  Anyhow, this dress is minimalistic, with a touch of glamour in the pleated skirt.  The light grey color makes it suitable for all seasons, which I love.  It was a fantastic purchase, if I do say so myself!

Now, onto more important things, like culture, churches, and chocolate.  I found Maastricht to be absolutely lovely.  It was charming and romantic; historic, and religious.  The Saint Servatius burg gives a wonderful view of the city, and is reminiscent of that “old Europe” I am so enamored with.  The people of Maastricht do not look or speak like Noord-Hollanders.  They have more glamour, talk slower, and seem to be less [shall I say nicely], brutally honest.  But what really sells this city is the old stuff.  I found the city park to be extremely romantic, the 13th century town gate transported me back to the middle ages, and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwebasiliek (church) was mysterious and extremely gothic in its style, which was very appealing.  It goes without saying that the Vrijthof is one of the most beautiful squares, and the houses in Maastricht are ancient, yet regal.

It was quite sad to leave Maastricht so quickly, but hence, our train tickets beckoned us to Cologne that evening.  It’s fair to say, that I didn’t properly research Cologne before I went, and the spots we most wanted to visit (art galleries) were closed on the Sunday and Monday morning of our stay. Furthermore, the city in regards to its architecture and general beauty, was also a let down.  My travel companion and I adore cities with a long and stunning history.  The tragic part about Cologne, is that it’s one of the most ancient cities in Germany, but because of post war reconstruction, looks as though it’s only been around since the late 50’s .  Aside from a handful of beautiful churches, and prewar German guild buildings, Cologne has been a victim of  poor architectural choices and city planning.

With all negatives aside, my preferred attraction of Cologne was the chocolate museum.  One cannot say enough good things about this place: it had history, a huge chocolate factory you could walk through, nutritional information (?),  information about where cocoa beans come from and who farms them,  and of course, a larger-than-life chocolate fountain.  Looking into the huge vat of churning chocolate in the factory was like being transported into “Charlie and the Chocolate factory”.. if only Johnny Depp were there!  The third floor, which displayed ornate chocolate boxes and advertisements from the past 200 years, was a stunner- talk about vintage design inspiration!  All this was only topped by the chocolate cake in the cafe.  Delish!

Other outings in Cologne included the incredibly huge Cologne cathedral, which was both eerie and majestic, and the Wallraf Richartz museum.  The Wallraf Richartz has incorporated 700 years of art in their modern- looking museum.  They have a truly extensive collection of medieval paintings, but it was the Baroque and Impressionist collections that were most inspiring.  Viewing the Degas ballerinas again was simply amazing!  That about sums up our short trip; a strange variety of religious architecture and icons, fantastic chocolate, dreamy art, and aching feet!  xx Helen Anne

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