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Gemma’s Gem of The Week: Deciding for Yourself



While I was on the west coast, I spent a lot of time alone; and I wasn’t used to that. I was used to going to others for help, for answers and solutions, for guidance. Technically, I could still do those things; I just wasn’t as tempted anymore. I wanted to figure things out for myself. I wanted to solve my own problems. I wanted to test my limits and see how much I was capable of on my own. This was emotional and intimidating, because I was growing out of the person I used to be. I was learning what it meant to pay rent, how to get myself places without the reliance on someone else, and how to follow my own instincts first. I was growing into someone new. The greatest lesson I learned while living on the other side of the country was deciding for myself. And thus, the story begins.

“I hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my cardigan.” And hope. Lots of hope. And fear. And excitement. Uncertainty. A whirlwind of emotions and thoughts had overtaken me within this 6 hour plane ride. Thank God for Owl City, I thought, as my headphones were glued to my ears. When the plane flew into an endless sky and landed amongst the palm trees, I experienced an unfamiliar rush of exhilaration. There was no turning back. I was following my gut and putting wholehearted trust into a decision created by me alone. 

Something I immediately fell in love with when it came to Los Angeles was the immediate burst of energy. All around me, I felt the rush of dedicated, driven, and powerful artists who were focused on their paths; not stopping for anyone, and traveling at the speed of light. I wanted to soak in every ounce of that energy until it filled my veins entirely. I’d never experienced anything like that so quickly upon landing in someplace new. And I was eager as hell to get started. 

I stepped outside and was face-to-face with the view of palm trees while waiting for my Lyft – something you don’t see in New Jersey. It was the end of February, and much colder than I expected. This was the first sign of anxiety regarding my expectations proven wrong. I figured LA was a perfect, sunny wonderland with consistent, 24/7 warm temperatures. I remember the nervous anticipation of arriving at my new home. I thought I would feel this magical, transformative feeling wash over me as soon as I walked through the door.  When I arrived, I felt different – and because of that, I panicked. This felt a bit like the anxiety surrounding Christmas. We want Christmas to be practically perfect in every way, and panic if we don’t feel absolutely perfect the day of.

I realized this new move would require adjusting. I realized that this is real life, and I’m responsible for how the story plays out (in the pieces I have control over, that is.) I learned that living on your own isn’t waiting for the magic to come to you, but rather finding the means to create your own magic. So with that, I ventured out into the new world of my new home.

I walked through the Americana, (and it was a blessing to be living in walking distance to these places), and slowly, I began to feel a new type of magic seep in. There was magic in the unfamiliar faces and places. There was magic in the constant scenic views enclosed in sun, palm trees, and mountains. There was magic in the restaurants I’d never experienced on the East Coast (the first one I tried was Lemonade, and let me tell you – I still crave their mac and cheese as comfort food.)

Listening to music while walking in Los Angeles took me out of my own world, and towards an alternate, color-splattered adventure. Ideas and inspiration were pouring out of me as I took in these new surroundings. I’d romanticize my walks, the long bus rides, the crowded train rides. I suddenly realized how comforting it was to have my own place to walk back to once the day was winding down. I’d breathe in the cool air and watch the palm trees transform into silhouettes that complimented the deeply blue, darkened skies. I began to fall hopelessly in love with this type of independent living. 

Is this the beauty of being alone? 

Deciding for myself was how I began to find myself. I developed a newfound relationship with myself throughout this entire journey.  I didn’t feel tied down to anything in particular, and that made opportunities feel limitless. Even when I didn’t know that many people, I always had myself, my music, and the mountains.

This week, I challenge you to decide for yourself. Find that inner spark that’s been waiting for you to say “I hear you. I’m listening.” Make a decision for yourself that feels right, and stick with it. For example, if you’re tempted to dye your hair dark, but you feel others would prefer it light, choose yourself. I guarantee you’ll feel better knowing you trusted yourself and went along for the ride first. Don’t worry about where others stand. The right ones will support and love you unconditionally. Remember that this is your life, and you are more than capable of knowing what’s best for you.

When we begin deciding for ourselves, we unlock endless freedom, and unleash the people we were born to be.

Gemma Farquhar is the writer of "Gemma's Gem of the Week" and author of "The Shape of Something New." She is passionate about the future of storytelling and welcomes all ages to her column.


Events In April Bring Easter, Spring and Flowers Galore.



Photograph: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.

Join the Judy Garland and Fred Astaire tradition with the Easter Bonnet Parade on Fifth Avenue. There is also the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden or right at home the flower show at Macy’s. On select Fridays every month, you can enjoy Free Admission to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum between 5 pm and 9 pm.

Until 4/9: Macy’s Flower ShowThe show includes beautiful, bright floral arrangements, special events including live music, and kids’ activities.

until 4/23: This is The Orchid Show‘s 20th year. Reconnect with nature while experiencing the picture-perfect beauty of the orchids. On select nights, adults can experience the exhibition through Orchid Nights, with music, cash bars, and food available for purchase.

4/1-30: Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival, hosted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, celebrates Japanese culture and the arrival of spring. It features a variety of cultural performances and activities, as well as a small flea market, tea ceremonies, and crafts. The highlight is the magnificent display of cherry blossom trees, with over 200 trees in full bloom. Visitors can admire the pink and white blooms and enjoy a traditional Japanese atmosphere. Tickets are usually around $40 for adults, though seniors and students get a reduced rate of $35.

4/7-16th: The New York International Auto ShowThe first new york Auto Show took place in 1900, for over 120 years now they have been sharing what’s new and interesting in the auto industry.

4/9: The Easter Parade starts near St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 10am. The tradition dates back to the 1870s, where elaborate bonnets and fashion galore is full frontal.

4/9: “Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time,” comes to MoMA.

4/15: The Tartan Day Parade is an NYC tradition that offers attendees a unique way to celebrate and honor Scottish culture. For the 25th year, there will be bagpipes, dancers, and even Scottish dogs marching in the parade. Attendance is free and open to the public. In addition to the parade, expect a whole week of Scottish-themed events and festivities.

4/15: Pillow Fight in the Park at Washington Square Park.

4/15: The New York Restoration Project is giving out 3,500 free trees to New Yorkers across all five boroughs. To get one of the 3,500 free trees that will be given away, register in advance on this website, where you’ll also get to browse through the current list of distribution dates, times and locations.

4/15 and 29: f the likes of udon, yakitori, ramen, and taiyaki make your mouth water, then mark your calendar for Japan Fes in Chelsea. The event will be held from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and is considered a paradise for Japanese foodies and cultural enthusiasts.

4/16: Holi in The City demands food, music, dance, and fun while embracing people and organizations from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

4/22: Earth Day celebrated in NYC with a festive, family-friendly outdoor fair in Union Square. There will be dozens of exhibitors, interactive displays, a green-vehicle show, family activities, music, and entertainment. 12-6pm.

4/27: Attend The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience

4/27- 30: Antiquarian Book Fair now in its 63rd year, this festival for book collectors at Park Avenue Armory for a full weekend of first editions, maps, manuscripts and other treasures from literary epochs past from nearly 200 exhibitors.


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Celebrity Chef Sal Scognamillo, George Pettignano Bring Patsy’s Italian Restaurant To Life



Patsy’s Italian Restaurant has been known for years as the restaurant made famous by Frank Sinatra, and his family still enjoys dining here whenever they are in town. George Clooney’s aunt, cabaret singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, was once quoted, “Patsy’s is still the best Italian restaurant in town. I make a pasta pilgrimage there every time I return.”

Other long-time high profile patrons who consider Patsy’s Italian Restaurant their Manhattan dining room include, Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, George Clooney, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Tony Danza, Jennifer Lopez, Liza Minnelli, Al Pacino, Rihanna, Martha Stewart, Ben Stiller, Oprah Winfrey, and many others.

Celebrity Chef Sal Scognamillo

We all had the pleasure to join Celebrity Chef Sal Scognamillo for a very special Private Lunch on March 18th hosted City Guide and Eli Marcus.

Eli Marcus,George Pettignano

Chef Sal shared some of his riveting stories about celebrities, sports stars and others famous guests. Ha also told us a few one-of-a-kind frank Sinatra stories about Frank’s exclusive table near we were seated.

Popular entertainer George Pettignano, a cousin of Bobby Rydell, sang classic tunes from the 40’s to 70’s ranging from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Beatles, Elvis & more!  George, as a former Hollywood stunt man, shared some of his classic stories

Eli Marcus

Everyone enjoyed a great meal and then danced the afternoon away!

Eli Marcus, Celebrity Chef Sal Scognamillo, Errol Rappaport

Errol Rappaport, Celebrity Chef Sal Scognamillo,Eli Marcus

Steve Garrin, wife, George Pettignano

Colin O’Leary Celebrity Chef Sal Scognamillo,Rena Sylvester, Eli Marcus

Colin O’Leary,Rena SylvesterErrol Rappaport

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Food and Drink

Join The Art of Cooking Benefit



On Thursday, April 27th, Executive Chef Bryce Shuman of the Michelin-recognized Sweetbriarformerly of Eleven Madison Park, and The Sylvia Center, an organization founded in 2007 to address diet-related diseases in under-resourced communities across the five boroughs, will be hosting a 15th anniversary celebration fundraising event at their Art of Cooking Benefit.

Throughout the evening, The Sylvia Center will celebrate its founding supporter, Great Performances Hospitality Group and honor Wendy Dessy of Proskauer. The inaugural Miriam and Carl Stern Community Partnership Award will be granted to Jeannette Bocanegra of Justice for Families, a partner organization in the Bronx. The event will also feature students from three of The Sylvia Center’s Teen Culinary Apprenticeship programs in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, who will create their own dish that will be featured during the event’s cocktail hour.

The Art of Cooking Benefit will take place at Hudson Mercantile (500 W 36th St.) with cocktails being served from 6 pm – 7 pm and a sit-down dinner by Chef Bryce Shuman and programming will be from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.

Photo by ADG Photography

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