4 artsy paper guides for inspired intineraries

nectar-and-pulse-new-york-travel-guideWhen I’m traveling, I generally prefer mobile guides for two main reasons: 1) they don’t take up any extra space or weight and 2) they don’t make me stand out like a sore tourist. But I’ve recently discovered some crafty paper guides that add an inspired dose of whimsy that’s so much in the spirit of why I love to travel. And there’s still something to be said for having a tangible, beautiful product in front of you. My fellow magazine lovers and photo printers, this one’s for you.

They Draw & Travel

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Collector’s items as much as guides, these 75+ maps feature insider favorites that worldwide artists plot onto neighborhood streets. Browse maps by cities, or filter by activity and aesthetic style. Whether you‘re a foodie or outdoorsman, a modern art enthusiast or classics connoisseur, these artsy maps do double souvenir duty as charming displays of all your escapades.

Nectar & Pulse

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“Practical” and “romantic” are two words that rarely appear in the same sentence, but these character-based recommendations marry the two in a fresh take on bespoke experiences. Find your “soulmate” by browsing online bios of local experts, detailing what they like to read and what their perfect day looks like, then order a binder of guides produced by your personality double.

Baked Plums with Blueberries and Mascarpone

I first fell in love with poetry when I was in middle school. I chuckled at William Carlos Williams’ silly-sounding name, but I loved his simple and tangible words even more. The first time I read his “This Is Just to Say”  aloud, I could feel the cold deliciousness of his icebox plums rolling across my tongue with the lines I spoke.

Ever since, I’ve viewed plums somewhat romantically, as strange as that might sound. Something about this fruit makes me feel safe and warm, evoking childhood summers as treats like condensed milk do.

These simpletastic baked plums make an effortless dish that perfectly suits a nostalgic evening. Not too sweet and not too sour, it’s a just-right summer dessert. Though I prefer this dish warm, the chilled mascarpone adds a little sweetness and a touch of the icebox-coldness from that poem I love so much.

A love letter to NYC’s Museum of Art and Design (and sniffing out the bizarre “Art of Scent” exhibit)

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When I read about an “Art of Scent” exhibit in which museumgoers get a whiff of various perfumes back in November, I wasn’t sure whether I should be intrigued by the concept or be wary of gimmicks.

But then I learned that the exhibit would be housed in the Museum of Art and Design. And then it all made sense.

Among New York City’s cultural giants, MAD is very modest in size, sitting humbly at the bottom of Columbus Circle between Eighth Avenue and Broadway. But this museum is probably my favorites in all of Manhattan. There, the six floors are all manageable in one afternoon, between two and three hours if you count a thorough examination of the well-curated gift store. There, each exhibit always offer a masterpiece that I love, even if I’m not inherently interested in the theme. And there, most of all, you’ll find the quirkiest, most radical, most bewitching collections of art.

Like an exhibit of necklaces, made from such curious materials as LED lights and gun triggers and pig intestines.

Or an exhibit on special effects manipulation in film and photography, showcasing 3D dioramas and the surreal images and animations created from them.

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Needless to say, an exhibit with perfume spritzers in the walls is right up MAD’s alley.

Stepping onto the fourth floor on a fine winter Sunday was somewhat disorienting. True to the NYT article that I’d forgotten about between the months, the hardwood floors were starkly empty, save a square of scrolling, glowing text projected from the ceiling. Along three walls, a row of twelve cavities sank into the wall, almost like pods in a science fiction vignette come to life. I watched two women hesitantly walked up to the first wall, exchanging glances before gingerly lowering their heads into the cavity.

When it was finally my turn, I’d leaned in just as carefully, cloying memories of department store ground floors making me wary. But all I felt was the light breeze of a spray–some sort of technology that released the fragrances for four seconds, I later learned. It was simply a whiff, enough for you to breathe in, not enough to stay with you beyond a few ephemeral seconds.

The single most important thing I’ve learned in 25 years of life.

Today, I’m seeing a ton of Thought Catalog links and “Things I Know At Age XX” stories on Facebook. So, just two weeks after my birthday, I suddenly feel inspired to share the most important thing I’ve learned after 25 years of life: sleep earlier and sleep more.

This isn’t a secret to success (or grown-up life) by any stretch of imagination, but, like all good advice, it’s easier said than done. I feel like I can claim to have finally “learned” this lesson because I’ve been sleeping before midnight consistently for the first time ever.

The results are fabulous. Going to bed earlier naturally means that I squeeze in more sleep. Platitudes about how wonderful mornings are aside, I love that I can actually have breakfast. I can even read a little news while I have my breakfast. I’m no longer dropping things, rifling through my closet, and generally making a huge mess to get out the door ten minutes after I roll out of bed. (The ability to do this is both a blessing and a curse.) I’m so much more productive at work, so I’ve been going home at a godly hour. I even have time to write a brand-new blog post, in the middle of the freaking week.

In other words, for the first time in three years, I finally feel like I’m getting my life back.

With this new found wisdom, I feel obligated to share a few things I’ve learned about sleeping better along the way. I’ll keep it short, because I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve read and then promptly ignored about sleep hygiene. Here are five golden rules that have been working for me:

Classic wonton soup

No kid grows up in Taiwan, where I spent my first 18 years, without learning how to make dumplings.

Yes, dumpling stands are ubiquitous on the streets of Taipei, but making this takeout favorite at home is a special kitchen project for most families. Especially when the Lunar New Year rolls around–dumplings are served at practically every traditional feast as an auspicious food–everyone gathers around the kitchen table, grabs a spoon for scooping filling, and gets busy wrapping.

I recently published a recipe for wonton soup in New York Family as a good indoor activities to do with kids. This thin-skinned and triangular-shaped variety of dumplings is easier to wrap than the thicker-skinned kind with scalloped edges. But the truth is that every so often, when I’m craving something cozy and familiar, it’s a whole of of fun for me and the Asian friends I rally into the kitchen, too. For us, the recipe is delicious and hassle-free–and it tastes like home.