New York

an upstate of mind

One of my oldest and dearest friends in New York, Sparrow Hall, recently launched a fantastic digital experience dedicated to travel, culture, and design in Upstate New York: An Upstate of Mind. I've written a roadtrip diary about one of many wonderful weekends spent upstate. Check it out :)  

Follow him on Twitter · Facebook · Pinterest · Tumblr · Flickr 


Valerie & Mark

Last spring, my sweet cousin Valerie broke the news that she and Mark, her long-time boyfriend, got engaged. She soon thereafter contacted me for advice on graphic design and photography for the big day. She wanted my insight on her shortlisted photographers so we went back and forth via email. In the end, she chose Jen Huang. I am thrilled with the result and so thrilled for her and Mark. The wedding and reception (April 28th, 2012) were absolutely gorgeous. Valerie looked stunningI loved the attention to detail. The photos really captured it all beautifully. The photos were even featured in Style Me Pretty magazine this June issue (pages 112-119). 

The Highlands Country Club in Garrison, New York was such an elegant setting for the reception – one of the best that I've seen. Plus, it was also so much fun! The evening included making smores around the firepit outside – white pashminas and cigars that were provided for everyone was a nice touch. 

A big congratulations again to my cousin Valerie and Mark! xoxo Love you both. 



the goodwin nyc : opens this week

I'm thrilled to announce that The Goodwin officially opens its doors this week. It's been an amazing project to have been part of. It's such a joy to see everything come together. A huge congratulations to owners Andre Jones, Richard Wise and the entire team!

The interiors by Larah Moravek look so fantastic. It's as gorgeous as down-to-earth gets. Warm and inviting. The space features beautifully custom-designed cozy baquettes. Larah also designed those divine lighting fixtures on the ceiling (in first photo) made from steel tubing. Materials from the original landmark building were repurposed as wood paneling for "The Grange" (back dining room/event space). Old license plates from the 30s and 40s that were found in the basement were used as wall decor. Even the buidling's old boiler tank was upcycled as a planter (seen through the back window). There was a high level of sensitivity to the building's rich history that remains in the new space. The interiors have an earthy, restrained elegance. It's been a great journey seeing all the sketches and swatches take form. It's been so exciting to take part in the design and work in tandem with such a talent.

Another reason to look forward to dining there is the menu prepared by Chef Colin Kruzic – formerly of James in Brooklyn and Bouley among others. The menus are currently available for download on The Goodwin splash page. Or if you are in New York City, definitely stop by. 

Here are a few photos below of the space (from today's Thrillist NYC write up). View a previous post on the branding/identity design development for The Goodwin here. The full website is coming soon. 

Photos above from Thrillist NYC


furniture sale (brooklyn)

It's 2012. Out with the old, in with the new. I'm purging stuff and moving out of my Brooklyn apartment this month. I would keep these if they suited my new place in Toronto, but they actually don't. I also want to change things up now. ;)

Everything below was purchased from Room & Board in SoHo (good quality stuff). View/pick up by appointment only in Brooklyn by January 25th (I won't be shipping these). All furniture was very well taken care of and have very minor wear and tear. Cash only please. Please email me ASAP if interested. First come, first served. 

I will be posting more items next week or possibly have an open house. Stay tuned. 

The Portica desk measuring 24D x 60W x 29H" (inches) in solid cherry and stainless steel legs. (SOLD)


Sequel rolling file also shown in the top photo. In cherry veneer with aluminum hardware.  (SOLD)

Gallery Leaning Shelf, 27"W, (only one available) is made of reclaimed wood with a stainless steel frame. Recently lowered price to $100! Pick up before Jan 25th! 


the goodwin nyc

Earlier this year, an immensely talented interior designer and friend, Larah Moravek, told me about a restaurant/bar project she was working on in New York. She asked to see whether I might be interested in working on the branding for it. The owners were also interested in working with me and I didn't even hesitate. This was the type of a project that I wanted to work on but don't often get a chance. Particularly, when I know the interior design is guaranteed to be fantastic.

The Goodwin will be located in a brownstone building on Hudson Street in the West Village and is slated to open next year. The interior space is currently being gut-renovated and reconfigured. I began the design process in July of this year. I first learned about the history behind the selection of the name. Apparently, the restaurant is located on land where there used to be a 300 acre tabacco farm. The name of the tabacco company was Goodwin & Co. This illustration below (an ad) was given to me by the owners as inspiration. The owners wanted to capture and essence of the location and name's history while making it modern. This is in line with the direction for the interior design of the space. 

I decided to do a lot more research, visually and otherwise, about the Goodwin & Co. I looked at typographic treatment, packaging design and layout of all the reference material I found from the same era. I also looked at cigar labels and loved the unique shapes they came in. I really wanted to capture the history while making it clean, modern and relevant. 

The client LOVED the result. They felt I had captured what they wanted right away. Needless to say, I was thrilled. We ended up on the 'crest' as well as a wordmark. I am about to start working on the stationery system, menu design, website, etc. So this is really just the beginning. I don't often share my own work here on my blog but this was one I am particularly excited about. The storefront window posters and awning have been installed as the construction continues so I am now finally able to share this work. I will post more results later in the process! Also view this project in my portfolio identity case studies


10 years ago today

A few months ago, my cousin Camille, the Managing Director for Cosmopolitan Magazine Philippines emailed and asked whether I was in fact in New York at the time of the 9/11 attacks. And if so, would I'd mind writing a personal account of my experience that day for an upcoming issue. 

Below is the unabridged version of what I submitted. It published in Cosmopolitan magazine, Philippines back in June, 2011. 

a photo I took in 1999 from Hoboken, NJ

I was home in Brooklyn getting ready for what was to be my first day freelancing for Rollingstone magazine. I recall hearing a loud noise and discussing it with my roommate. We both figured it was a building explosion somewhere in the area. I saw a huge, thick plume of smoke traveling across the sky on my way to the subway station. But I assumed it was a big fire somewhere in Brooklyn. People on the street did not alert me to anything unusual. All I was concerned with at that point was getting to work. 

It wasn't until the subway car I was in crossed the Manhattan bridge (which was several stories above ground) that the entire car full of riders let out a simultaneous gasp as soon as we looked out the window and saw two burning black holes in both World Trade Center towers that I realized where the smoke was coming from. One burning hole was so new that at that point it was still in the shape of a plane hitting the building at an angle. 

I was in disbelief and I remember thinking to myself: There's no way people would be at work yet at the WTC, it was too early. So therefore, no one must be hurt. I was in denial of course, as my heart pounded loudly in my ears. I knew that people in the financial district are known to come to work early. The entire train was plastered to the window, none of us could believe what we were seeing. I heard from a passenger from listening to the radio that The Pentagon buildings also had been hit or bombed. The facts were not clear then since we were all just learning (and witnessing) everything.  It really sunk in at that moment that this was not an accident – that this was most definitely a very aggressive attack on the US. I was full of questions.   

By the time I exited the train at 51st St. and 6th Avenue – in front of Radio City Music Hall, the WTC buildings had collapsed. The subway system had been shut down and the streets were more chaotic than usual. It seemed everyone was out on the street. Everyone was confused. I decided to head up to the office, not being clear on what I should do. I was also scared. My art director at the time took one look at me and said: "Catherine, what are you doing here? We're being evacuated! They don't know what building might be hit next." I told her I just didn't know what to do. Granted we were only on the second floor but I was officially terrified. 

I left the office in a daze. People on the streets frantically trying to get a hold of their loved ones. Some were in tears. I stood and watched the news on a TV that the NBC offices has wheeled outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza so that people could figure out what was happening. I also read the news on the ticker tape that wrapped around the NBC studios building to try and make sense of it all. We collectively tried to remain calm as we struggled to hear the news reporters while fighter planes zoomed above the city combing the skies and sirens from fire trucks screamed by constantly. No one spoke. 

I had tried unsuccessfully to call my family on my cel phone. I knew that the lines must have been jammed from everyone calling each other. I was told later that the cel towers that were atop the WTC towers collapsed along with the building, interrupting service for many people. Eventually, my parents in Manila got a hold of me and the moment I heard their voices on the phone, I cried. I was shaking. But I explained that I was fine and I was trying to make my way home. 

I headed downtown from 51st Sreet on foot. The subway system would be shut down until later that afternoon. Somehow I was able to track down a cousin of mine that I knew lived in Manhattan. We managed to find each other in the East Village. I had been walking for at least a few hours and was exhausted. I finally made it back to Brooklyn around 4 or 5pm. I took the same subway train line back and saw the space where the WTC towers stood only a few hours before. Still stunned. 

My roommate told me that someone in the apartment building had run an errand to pick up a watch she had repaired at The World Trade towers just a few minutes before the attack. We tearfully sat glued to the news for the next few days. Spent hours sitting in Prospect Park wondering what would happen next and how this would affect the already ailing economy. We talked to people in the Park Slope neighbourhood about what happened. I remember walking away from a conversation offended (and furious) at someone we casually knew who angrily spouted racist remarks at people from the Middle East. I thought: Wow, this event had already triggered a reaction not unlike the one after Pearl Harbor, which was in a word, racism. Had we not learned anything from that experience? I had no idea that it would be just the beginning of what would unfold following the events of 9/11.

We had both been through lay-offs only a few months prior to the attacks. Thanks to the dot com crash. What are we going to do now? Over the next two weeks, at least, New York City was transformed. It was a city deep in mourning. Humbled. I have never seen New Yorkers be as nice to each other as they were following the attacks. People looked at one another in the eyes. Everyone was uncharacteristically helpful and kind. The stranger seated across the subway car wondered quietly whether you personally knew someone who perished that day. Lower Manhattan smelled like smoke for the next month at least. Residents of the area had to move out completely. 

It took a long time for the city to recover. In many ways, it STILL is recovering. I remember the day vividly, like it was yesterday. 

caffé roma, amaretti and me

My friend Melanie introduced me to these amaretti cookies from Caffé Roma in Little Italy in NYC a couple of weeks ago. Now, I'm not usually so interested in amaretti cookies. But I took a bite of this and nearly melted. I recommend stopping by in the morning, like I did, and get them fresh out of the oven. They are crispy outside and soft inside. They are heavenly, take my word for it.

As a side note, I remembered Caffe Roma from my first ever trip to NYC in 1997. I stumbled in with my 35mm Pentax and took photos of it way back then (that's an unrelated photo of one of my sisters in the middle, also in NYC). Interesting how much time has passed and how much I have since lived in and have gotten to know New York. I had such a different perspective of the city then. All the years passed in a flash. Humbling to say the least. 

New York, 1997

art in architecture : new york

Here are some of the things that caught my eye this past month in New York. The architecture is often as interesting as the art. It's really about our points of view as well as the way we edit down to the essence.

Left to right, from the top: 

MoMA (from the inside out)
A Brooklyn apartment building entrance
"Everything's going to be all right" – stairwell at the Ace Hotel
MoMA (from the outside)
Older woman seated at Bertoia chairs at the MoMA
Stairwell, Citibank office on 34th and Broadway
Passage (study) made of NYC police barrier, butterflies made of found aluminum cans by artist Paul Villinski 
Seated ballerinas at Alvin Ailey 
Stairs at Museum of Art & Design 

A few more to come.

new york, full circle

My month in New York has been wonderful. It turned out to be quite eventful, too. I find it difficult to sum up the month in photos. There was lots of ridiculously good food* (perhaps too much?), dear, dear friends, dancing and dance classes, a minor earthquake (didn't feel it) and a hurricane-slash-tropical storm. Much more than anyone could expect to see in a month. Although, not surprising considering where I was. It also became busier than expected in terms of work. I met some inspiring individuals. Interesting to realize that I moved to Toronto exactly one year ago this week. ...Full circle, as they say. 

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I miss it. Having been away for the good part of the past year, I was also able to see New York objectively. It IS a much more exhausting city to live in than probably any in north American or European city. It DOES take a lot out of you. But the trade off is being in the midst of SO MUCH action. New York is a machine and a magnet of creativity, of new ideas and the people behind them. It requires more energy and ambition to thrive there. It is not an easy city but it is intoxicating. That, I knew. You take the good with the hard in New York. Like that proverbial ex-boyfriend, it still has a hold on me... and that's okay. 

One thing I've been able to have this month is perspective. It was great to look back at my year of change – from Brooklyn, where it all started. Being back in my apartment a year later was grounding, comforting. Like home. Lexie felt instantly relaxed there, too. I took stock in what I've been able to accomplish (creatively and otherwise) amid a huge upheaval. I thought about things that mattered, decided on what (and who) to leave behind and what to take with me. I see how I've grown, the relationships I have, what I want, my strengths and my weaknesses. I saw everything that's still ahead of me – things I have yet to learn about Toronto. The future is still wide open. These realizations made me happy

All in all, it's been a superb few weeks. A fantastic close to my summer (and to the past year). I'd like to use ALL of this energy to continue propelling myself forward. I needed it.

Thank you, New York. See you in a few months. 

*Check out my recent dining adventures in New York on Foodspotting.

Prospect Heights the day after the hurricane and Lexie by the window at work 

a reunion

One of the highlights of my stay in NY this month is getting back to my dance classes at Alvin Ailey. Here was a rare moment alone in the studio just before my Horton class (first one in a year). It was an emotional reunion. It was as though I never left. My connection to this space – to dance – is difficult to articulate. Like coming home. I can imagine what it must be like for those who do this professionally. If there was one thing I wish I could bring back with me to Toronto, it would be exactly...this. 

two blue wolves/nightwork

After much anticipation, Sparrow Hall launches a special combined printed (double-sided) edition of his two beautifully written short stories: Two Blue Wolves and Nightwork. Sparrow Hall is one of my oldest and dearest friends in New York. I love seeing what he has created over the past few years, trailblazing within the arena of transmedia. He has taken the story beyond the page, allowing readers access to experience it via many mediums, be it through music, video and visual art. All have been inspired by his writing. And why shouldn't a book/story inspire a soundtrack? It makes for a more holistic and more powerful experience. 

Sparrow Hall's writing of Two Blue Wolves (my personal favourite), takes my breath away every time I read it. 

Just as he has done with the e-book edition of Two Blue Wolves (see my post from Oct 2009), he is also donating $5 from every sale of this combined printed to the Alzheimer's Association. 

Congratulations to Sparrow Hall. You continue to inspire me. I can't wait to see what's next. 
p.s. Thank you for quoting my review of your book :) 

Here's a sample of the music from the Two Blue Wolves soundtrack.

Follow Sparrow Hall on Twitter @sparrowhall



colonie brooklyn

above photos from

I had dinner at Colonie in Brooklyn Heights last week with my friend Jenna of Whimsy & Spice and I was blown away by the food. Colonie's been open since February 2011 and apparently received almost $16k of funding via Kickstarter before opening. Pretty impressive. The space was beautiful (very Brooklyn, urban barn look) and utilizes many recycled materials. I love the living plant wall, too. The menu features all local and seasonal American menu. I can see why they've received so much attention. The food was so delicious, very vibrant, flavourful and inventive (we both just wished the portions had been a bit bigger, esp. the main course). 

My Foodspotting links are below: 

First course: Octupus with Chorizo Sauce, Fingerling potatoes and Capers

Main course: Scallops with Apricot, Curry, Pickled Eggplant and Pinenuts 

Dessert was a short walk away at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream on Bergen St. I had the Rosewater & Cardemom Ice Cream (tasted like kulfi! Delicious!)

abc kitchen

all photos above from

I'm having quite a decadent visit here in NYC this month. There's no shortage of spectacular food. Still among the places I've had the pleasure of trying (low-end to high-end), there are standouts. I initially wanted to write one big post on the food but I decided to break it up a bit. 

ABC Kitchen was (deservedly) named Best New Restaurant of 2011 by The James Beard Foundation. My expectations were high and it did not dissappoint. The food was fantastic. They have a prix fixe lunch for a reasonable $28 and it was so GOOD (see my Foodspotting links below). The local and organic menu was undeniably fresh and so delicious – esp. that perfect gazpacho. The dessert was probably over-the-top for a lunch menu but I still nearly fell out of my chair when I tasted it. I also can't overlook the fact that it is beautifully designed to fit right into the ABC Carpet and Home aesthetic. GORGEOUS. All around a drool worthy spot. 

First course: Gazpacho with Summer Fruit, Olive Oil and Basil

Second course: Steamed Hake, Goldbar Zucchini, Nasturium Vinaigrette

Dessert: Sundae with Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, Caramel Popcorn & Peanuts, Chocolate Sauce



extended play, new york

Lexie and I are back in our Brooklyn apt for (all/most) of August. The slight change of plans happened just a day or two ago. It was what I wanted to do anyway, my circumstances changed to accommodate for a longer stay. It could be my last few months of having a Brooklyn apartment. And my place was (deliberately) vacant this month anyway. Since the timing worked in favour of staying, I figured, why the hell not?!

It's been unexpectedly grounding to be back in the city. It feels a lot more like coming home this trip. It has everything to do with familiar surroundings, even for Lexie. I've lucked out with great weather. I'm taking in as much inspiration from the city now as I ever did while I lived here. It's been so wonderful to spend time with my dearest ny friends again and eating very well, as per usual. I will write a separate post on the food!  I AM also doing work while I'm here and looking for interesting new projects as well. 

One of the things I'm looking forward to this next couple of weeks is taking my Alvin Ailey dance classes again. In fact, I am going today. I can't wait! 

Photos above (from top left):
Jeffrey's Grocery (West Village) 
A West Village apartment courtyard 
Lexie at her old park in Brooklyn
Still life at Joseph Leonard restaurant (West Village) 
My new fall oxford/mocc ankle boots! (by Luxury Rebel) 
Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn at sunset


dear new york

Mindrelic - Manhattan in motion from Mindrelic on Vimeo.


Dear New York, 

Things are good over here. I'm very well. But do you know that I really miss you? I wasn't ready to let you go when I left. I can say that now. And it's ok. Watching this killed me just a little inside. Yeah, there were tears in my eyes. That's all. 

I'll see you soon. Four more sleeps. 

Love always,


a wedding was thrown in brooklyn

I loved my friend Jacquelyn and Robert's DUMBO, Brooklyn wedding party this past May and loved the photos too. How adorable are they?! It was a fantastic and memorable evening (and week in New York) with my friends. What won't be posted here is the photo of my teary-eyed face after hearing the bride's twin's speech. To be clear, virtually the whole room was reduced to tears after that speech. It wasn't just me!

Congratulations, again to Jacquelyn and Robert! Much love and happiness to you both. x

All photos by Clean Plate Pictures

p.s. And what a coincidence: the bride and I had the SAME pair of shoes on! 


my moscot mangito


Eyewear is kind of a big deal for me. My glasses are on my face 365 days a year and all of my waking hours. I've worn them since the age of 13. So it's become part of my identity. Choosing frames can be a time consuming (and expensive) endevour. Back in August of 2010, when I was preparing to move from New York to Toronto, I came across Moscot Vintage Eyewear – I believe it was mentioned in an article in New York magazine. I learned that the company is a New York institution that's been around since 1915. I loved the Originals Collection, all consisting of styles created between 1930-1970. I tried on the Mangito frames before I left and knew I had to have them. They were exactly what I have been looking for. They have that classic/nerd-chic element that made a bold statement but did not completely overwhelm my face. It's a lot but not too much. They have a subtle cat-eye angle on the corners that I love, too. I also couldn't help gravitating toward these purely from a naming standpoint (considering my last name). I learned that these frames were inspired by a Moscot family member, Gladys Moscot, who in the 60s "left New York's Lower East Side and for a life of drinking Cuba Libres and smoking Cohibas in Havana." Mangito is also Cuban slang for sexy, hot and fresh (apparently). Ha! 

A month before a trip to New York, I found out via Twitter that these very frames were 30% for the month of April. It was perfectly timed. I knew I had to get them. Happy birthday to me. I placed the order and picked them up when I arrived in NYC earlier this month. They're also the most well-made pair of glasses that I've ever purchased – and I've closely examined many a pair of designer frames. You can see and feel how well constructed they are. They just do not feel mass produced. Not only that, Moscot custom-fitted them for me with nose pads – perfect for noses like mine with small bridges. I haven't come across many eyewear companies that does this. I love these new frames!

What do you think?  


mono + mono

It's official, it's all out war in NYC. The battle seems to be on to see who wins the title of 'The Best Korean Fried Chicken.' Over the past few years this has been simmering, from what I could tell, somewhat under the radar. But apparently it's more popular than ever. And everyone is boasting about having THE best fried chicken in town. Including, but not limited to: Momofuku, Bon Chon and a recent discovery: Mono + Mono. During my recent NY trip, my good friend Eric took me there to try it. It's more of a pub/eatery than a traditional restaurant. We were there on the early side – 7:30-8pm. The place didn't get busy until later.

The focal point of this beautiful deco/industrial space (aside from the chicken) and the reason for the name is – get this: the collection of 30,000 vinyl records (vintage soul and jazz). That's right. This amazing collection is displayed in a gigantic built-in wall shelf behind glass that starts at floor level and reaches up to what looks to be 16+ foot high ceilings. There are ever-present DJs that not only spin all these records, the covers of the ones playing on the turntables are displayed between plates of acrylic and attached to a conveyor belt that slowly circulate the perimeter of the space overhead. It's quite amazing. 

Aside from this, the food was great. I loved the grilled edamame (presented in a boat made of grilled corn husk). I loved the (organic) chicken – it was very good. Though I must say I liked Bon Chon's just a little bit more. And nothing has yet to beat Max's chicken, in my humble opinion. My favourite of their tapas had to be the Foie Gras Meat Balls. They were spectacular. I find it difficult to describe them except they were, oddly, both sweet and savoury and nestled in clouds of fluffy mashed potatoes. I'm definitely coming back there next time I'm in the city. 


new york from where i stood

For the first time in history, I visited New York and felt...nostalgic. Even though it felt like I was only there two weeks ago, I realized as I stepped outside and then into the subway that New York had since become part of my past. It was a different feeling from my last (stressful) business trip there in December of 2010. Despite feeling very 'at-home' there, I was filled with emotion as the train made it's way into the city from Brooklyn. I was back on the same train line I used to take to work each day. I was suddenly able to articulate what I was feeling because it was as clear as day and so intense:

New York (to me) had become like that ex-boyfriend who completely broke my heart once. New York is the man I'm still in love with and still want – but I know exactly why it didn't work out between us back then. I couldn't get over the feeling – it was the best way I could descibe it. I choked back tears as I made my way into the West Village. Apparently, I'm not the first person to ever feel this way about New York. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.

My hectic but amazing week there was filled with quality time with friends, a great wedding party, great food and fantastic art, fashion and film. It also revealed a lot. For one, some (not all) of my friends who still live there tend to forget how to appreciate the city. It's easy to be caught up in the stresses of life, I suppose. New York can be unkind after all. I realized how unhappy I was before I left. The reasons behind this had little to do with the city itself but more to do with my circumstances at the time. I realized that I never forgot how to love it even when I lived there – and that NO ONE can ever belittle how difficult it was for me to leave. Second, I appreciated even more the friendships I had built during my nearly 12 years there. I was reminded that forging new friendships in a new city will take time. I also realized I had actually become a much stronger person in the midst of the huge challenges I faced in the past year. It was good to get some perspective and to be reminded that New York will always be there. The future still lies ahead and there's no telling where it will take me. 


hail mcqueen

One of the highlights of my New York trip was getting to experience the Alexander McQueen | Savage Beauty show at The MET. It was insanely busy as it was the first weekend it opened to the public. But it was so worth it. 

The show was, for me, a celebration of McQueen's exquisite craft. It was a celebration of beauty – however melancholy or dark. It's impossible to cast aside the brilliance and complexity of the ideas behind the work. There is no doubt that this falls under the category of high art. Being allowed to see his thinking and his inspiration was eye-opening. I was so thrown by how beautifully executed and tailored everything was. His pieces required undeniably precise detail and quality. He respected and studied the rules and, therefore, knew how to break them. The work is so modern and yet so rooted in tradtion at the same time. Looking at these dresses as I walked through the show, I saw the intensity of McQueen's passion for beauty. He not only put powerful women on a pedestal, he wanted women to be powerful in his clothes. The show itself was billiantly curated...stunning. Possibly the best exhibition of art & fashion I have ever seen. McQueen is awe-inspiring. He was a genius. 

If at all possible, go see the show before it closes in July and see where it might be traveling to next. Or at least check out the site. Looks like they're having trouble keeping the book on the shelf (pick one up if you can).




Savage Beauty exhibition images via