Carriage horse working in NYC on a hot Summer day

Carriage horses in NYC

You might have heard that there have been a few incidents involving carriage horses in New York City in the past. While on duty, the horses in these accidents either got hit by a car, died while working, or got spooked for one reason or another. this is not right!

Carriage horses in Central Park

If you have ever been to NYC, and especially around Central park/Columbus Circle/5th Avenue, you have seen the carriages and their horses lined up waiting for some "ignorant" tourists to go on a "romantic" trip. Ignorant I say, because they probably don't know the living and working conditions these horses are in every day. They have to work almost every day, and it doesn't matter how hot or how cold, in a noisy city with dangerous traffic. They live in small, dark stables that are fire hazards. I think years ago, and I mean decades ago, it must have seemed a romantic idea of going around town in a carriage, but reality is that in the meantime the traffic in the city has increased by 1000% or so, and it is just not safe anymore. I am confident we can take all the carriage horses of the streets very soon, by buying the rights from the owners and bringing them to safe pastures somewhere in the countryside. These horses are sweet natured, but don't belong in the city. It is not safe for them, but these horse drawn carriages are also not safe for pedestrians and other people that take part in the traffic everyday.

There is a lot of danger for the carriage horses as well as traffic like cyclists and pedestrians
There is a lot of danger for the carriage horses as well as traffic like cyclists and pedestrians

RELATED: PETA made a list of horse-drawn carriage incidents

One good thing is that Mayor DeBlasio finally made a part of his election promise happen : The waiting line has been moved inside Central Park which makes it a bit safer for the horses and the pedestrians. A judge ordered the carriage horse industry to do so in February 2019. Unfortunately I noticed that the horses are less protected from the Sun in the Summer, as they are further away from the buildings that would shield them from Sun most of the day. And the horses still have to travel far to their stables that are located on the West Side of Manhattan after a long days of work.

 

Carriage horses at Central Park
From the waiting line at the border of Central park in busy traffic...
.. to the waiting line just inside Central Park away from busy traffic
.. to the waiting line just inside Central Park away from busy traffic

Carriage horse Oreo

One of these accidents happend with a 6 year old horse named "Oreo" (love the name) bolted as he got spooked by a car that honked near him.

*6 year old is very young for a horse to let you know. It is logical that he doesn't know everything yet and can get scared. Actually, it does not matter how old or young the horse is, it is a living creature with feelings and emotions and any horse could spook.

On board were the driver and a couple hoping for a nice ride through the park. What they got was a horse that took off and had them falling off and getting hurt. He took off and an onlooker a few blocks down managed to capture Oreo. Of course Oreo was so scared of everything around him (he is a horse and he was in the middle of traffic alone) So when the police came, they had to shoot him with a tranquilizer shot. He fell to the ground and people passing by were watching this in horror. Read what happened exactly here. What I have read is that the injuries of the people were not major. And Oreo? They are giving him another vet check, but the first check showed only some bruises around his mouth. Yeah right, let's not mention the psychological trauma he endured that he has to live with for the rest of his life. This happened in 2012, many accidents have happened after this one. Also, I do not know if Oreo is still working as a carriage horse, retired, sold to someone else, or was sold off to a slaughterhouse. Who knows?

Well, that video does not look pretty. Ono top of that Oreo's bit is so tight in his mouth it must hurt him a lot!

Carriage horses should be retired

I love horses, and I live in NYC. Therefore  I am excited that we CAN stop this because there is a great alternative! The people of NYCLASS continuously protest the horse drawn carriage industry in NYC, and actually have designed an electrical car or "horseless carriage" to drive tourists around Central Park. This way the transportation of people who want to see the beautiful views of New York City, can be safe and clean too. I love the idea!  I think it is a great solution, very fun and a good looking idea too. And the horses should enjoy a lovely retirement in a large meadow. NYCLASS once said that they already have places for all of these horses to go to! Because most of the time retired carriage horses are send off to slaughter and transported in deplorable conditions. Because in America you cannot slaughter horses, they are sent to Mexico on days long journeys. That is not what they deserve after serving so many tourists!

Read more: NYCLASS

We should get these cars all over the City. Do you have any ideas how we can do this? I wish I could adopt a carriage horse like Oreo and find a place upstate... we would only do fun rides in the woods and he would be in the pasture the rest of the day! I hope this will one day be reality instead of a dream.. Horse drawn carriages in NYC are so 1904!

carriage horses walking on Central Park West
carriage horses walking in traffic on Central Park West

p.s You can sign this petition to demand the NYC council to vote for the The Carriage Horse Heat Relief Bill, Intro 1425. This new bill will keep NYC carriage horses OFF the streets when the 'heat index' reaches 90 degrees or above. Sign the petition, or contact your local council members.

Carriage horse working in NYC on a hot Summer day
Carriage horse working in NYC on a hot Summer day

 

 

Love, Lonneke

Me with one of my horses: Cooper Milo
With one of my horses: Cooper

 

First published on December 18th 2013, Updated in 2019


That time I did a 1 day juice cleanse

I once did a one day juice cleanse. All the way with the cheesy "I kiss my juice" pictures as proof.  I had a bit hangover from just drinking 2 bellinis at the Operation Smile Ball the day before. So when you don't feel so great, what do you do? Exactly you take care of yourself! Eating really healthy is your own medicine. So I decided to visit Organic Avenue.

About Organic Avenue

Organic Avenue was a vegan and rawfood chain in New York City. It was founded by Denise Mari,  and back in the day I did an interview with her. There were so many new Organic Avenue Locations popping up around town at one point. To me it seemed they had a lot of success, but they also seemed to grow too fast. After a few years Denise sold the company, and from what I've read, she came back on board to run the company.  OA incorporated different foods into the menu besides cleanses (the vegan chicken and waffles was great!) but eventually they went out of business :( . Sad story of a vegan health food store I enjoyed so much in NYC! I notice many of my favorite restaurants have gone out of business, it is just part of doing business in New York City.

Organic Avenue Soho location
Organic Avenue Soho location before it closed

Now back to the juice cleanse story: There used to be an Organic Avenue Location in Soho, close to where I live, and I decided to do their one day cleanses.

The 1 day juice cleanse

I received 7 bottles of juice. 1 small one to start the day with chlorophyll, and 6 juices.  You were told to drink water in between..

1 day cleanse from Organic Avenue
1 day cleanse by Organic Avenue

8.30 am

Let's start this juice cleanse! I woke up tired and had my first juice at this time. A chlorophyll shot that made my tongue green! It has a specific taste, but it is not bad. Chlorophyll comes from plants and is an "extremely important bio molecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light."- Quote from Wikipedia  

chlorophyll shot
chlorophyll shot

10 am

My first real juice is a nice simple orange juice. A great way to start a morning with some sweet citrus fruit juice.

orange juice
orange juice

12 pm

Green Love juice. Cucumber, celery, chard, spinach, pear, collard greens, kale, romaine, parsley, lemon juice. This one is a bit hard to drink due to the large amount of greens in this juice. So it took me a bit longer to drink this juice!

Green Love juice
Green Love juice

2.30 pm

Turmeric Tonic,  lemon juice, ginger juice, purified alkaline water, coconut sugar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cardamom, himalayan salt. This one was spicy but I actually liked this juice! It tasted a bit like something from the Middle East because of the spices. I drank it quite fast.

Turmeric Tonic
Turmeric Tonic
Lonneke & Turmeric Tonic
Lonneke & Turmeric Tonic

4.30pm

Veggie Vibe: carrot, cucumber, beet, celery, chard, spinach, ginger, parsley, lemon. This one is hard again! Took me longer time to drink. But you feel really healthy drinking it.

At this point I felt really energized and fit! Getting so many minerals and vitamins in, plus water is really doing good for your body, right?

6.30 pm

Spicy Avocado Soup: avocado, purified alkaline water, spinach, lime juice, celery, cilantro, garlic, Himalayan salt, jalapeño, cumin. This is my least favorite. maybe because of the garlic and that it is thicker. It took me some effort to drink it.

Lonneke & Spicy Avocado Soup
Lonneke & Spicy Avocado Soup

8pm

Last juice of the day! Fresh, sweet coconut juice. I love ending a day like this with something super yummy!

Although some people do cleanses a few days in a row, I think it was nice to just do a one day cleanse. This way it does not "shock" your body while still replenishing your body with the essential nutrients. It is also a great that for that day you have a plan, and the 7 juices keep you on track. You don't have to think what you are gonna eat or what's for dinner at night. The cleanse is telling you that already so it relieves stress that way as well!

Why a one day juice cleanse might be good for you

Because you drink the whole day so you are very much hydrated.  And you don't have much time to feel hungry. Right when you feel hungry, you have the thicker Spicy Avocado soup that is filling. I think anyone can do a 1 day cleanse to just feel better and get rid of toxins or indigestion, if you don't get tempted by any food! So do this during a rainy day when you are likely to stay at home, or if you are stuck at the office with no food in sight, that's my recommendation.

You start to appreciate food more while on a cleanse, that is for sure!

Why juicing might not so good for you

You notice there is a lot of parsley added to the juices. This is because parsley contains lots of Vitamin K, a lot of antioxidants, which helps our bones and strengthens our nervous system.(that's good!) But I only learnt later that Parsley, other green leafy vegetables and beets contain a lot of oxalates and goitrogens. I will go into that some other time why that is actually not so good for some people like myself (oxalates can form crystals in your body and can cause kidney stones, goitrogens slow down a thyroid). Not to mention the high sugar intake which research suggests due to the lack of fiber that helps release sugar slowly into the blood system, a juice is causing a sugar spike. And juices that are not pasteurized, can bring harmful bacteria to your gut which can cause a whole other range of issues.

Maybe, just maybe, juice cleansing was a hype from 2006-2016, and now people just have one juice once a while and are onto another fad, like Keto or Paleo?

Related: Why no one does juice cleanses anymore

Organic Avenue used to offer their juices in glass bottles, but they were more expensive as there was a fee for returning the bottles. Now they serve the juices in BPA- free plastic, I thought that was a nice thing! Of course with the demise of Organic Avenue, their bottles are gone too. (I just kept one as a souvenir).

If you want to do a cleanse, there are many places in New York City and beyond to get a juice from, including Juice Press, Pressed Juicery ,Blueprint and Juice Generation

Related: 5 cleanses that get delivered to your door in the USA

p.s. for my readers in the Netherlands: you can order from Sapmeesters.

Final thought on cleanses: You should decide yourself what works for you! I will now enjoy a small juice once a while!

Love, Lonneke

First Published on May 6th 2012, Updated with new insights in 2019

 


40 things to do with kids in New York City

If you did not know yet, I tell you now: New York City is a great place to live, and to visit!

In 2012 NYC broke a record with the amount of visitors & tourists they welcomed: 52 million! And it has been going up ever since. Mayor Bloomberg, who resigned at the end of 2013, has spent a lot of his 12 year term as a Mayor, making New York City great for citizens, and even more attractive to tourists. NYC is not only a city for grown-ups. It is a very safe and fun place, and there are a lot of things for kids to do in New York City!

Pictures by Fairest Photo.

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Things to do in New York City

Let me share with you some of my favorite activities for kids in this wonderful City. Whether you live in New York City, or are just visiting for a short amount of time, there is so much to do. And some things will cost you, and some are free... but all are really fun!

Of course you can go play with your kids at one of the many playgrounds around the City, go shopping with your kids, and eat food at one of the 25000 restaurants & deli's New York City has. There are many FREE outdoor swimming pools available to all young kids in NYC in the Summer (with parental guide, there are pretty strict rules so read them first) and there are also many indoor pools. I recommend just walking around different neighborhoods in Manhattan. When you walk, I guarantee you will find a hidden toy shop, or a cupcake bakery. New York City is the place of discoveries! We always play this game with kids:

When the light turns white,

you follow your way.

But you turn left or right,

When the red light means Stay.

This will result in you walking through different streets than you would normally do, so you see new things!

A list of 40 things to do with kids in New York City ( and fun for parents too!)

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1. Central Park

Central park is so big and has so many attractions itself. It is the big heart of NYC and the tranquil quiet place amidst the buzz of the busy city. The lawns are beautiful and the meadows are so large you and your family can run free and play fun games like ball games.

2. Rent a bike in Central Park

You can rent a bike with your family and ride around Central Park.

3. Ride the Carousel

Ride the merry-go-around, the Carousel, in the middle of the park.

4. Explore the nature in Central Park

Walk around the preserved nature of a few hidden areas of the park. Go find them! I love the Rambles, with its idyllic bridge, waterfalls and views. But you shouldn't miss Strawberry Fields, a tribute to John Lennon with his "Imagine" mozaic. And the Alice in Wonderland bronze sculpture.

5. Ice skating in Central Park

In the Winter you must go iceskating at Wollman Rink. (For years owned and developed by mr. Donald J. Trump)

6. Central Park Zoo

You can also visit the Central Park Zoo (or the Brooklyn Zoo or Brooklyn Aquarium.) This Zoo was used as inspiration for the animated movie "Madagascar".

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Side note: I personally wouldn't take a carriage ride in Central Park. These horses are working long hours, and are stabled in small stables in NYC. They never have a day off. Mayor Bill DeBlasio promised before election that he would change a lot for the horses in NYC. I was wrong about Mayor DeBlasio, he is not keeping his promises. But he did open the way up for new animal shelters, as NYC has many homeless cats and dogs. So that's good.Check my article on the NYC carriage horses and a great alternative.

7. Picnic in Central Park

You can buy food at Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, take the food with you and walk to Central park, and have a pic nic at Sheep Meadow enjoying the clouds passing by.

8. Boating in Central Park

You can also rent a boat and go boating on The Lake, Central park's second largest water body, or rent a model boat and navigate it in the beautiful pond on the East Side of the park.

navy-milo-lux-pond-cp-nyc-2

Basically all of Central Park is worth to explore with kids. Central park has manicured areas, lots of history, and even wilderness with real waterfalls!

9. Visit the Observatories of NYC

Visit the Observatory at the Empire State Building, or Freedom Tower One World Observatory. While the wait can be long sometime, the view of the city is amazing for every age. (this is also the area where the 911 Memorial Museum is located. This is an impressive, but very quiet museum). Best is to book tickets online so you don't have to wait in line!

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10. Go on a New York City tour

There is enough to see on a city tour, and kids can sit and watch the whole city pass by. Kids especially love all the lights, so doing a walk or a tour at night is worth it too.

11. Statue of Liberty

Take a Water taxi all the way downtown and go to the Statue of Liberty.

12. Times Square

It is just fun to see all the lights. It's so bright and there is a lot to see!

milo-navy-times-square-nyc-1

My "underground" favorite things to do with kids:

13. Hudson River Park

Visit the Hudson River Park all along the Hudson River on the westside of New York City. I love this park the most and go running/walking or picnicking there. It stretches from the Financial District to all the way uptown. The park has many activities for kids, like mini golf and (water) play areas. There are in fact many free playgrounds for kids to play all over town.  But I especially love the ones at the Pier 25 in Hudson River Park. When the weather is warm, there are many water -based games to be played. And the park along the Hudson River, is great to walk.

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14. The Highline

The Highline used to be a train track bringing in live animals that would get butchered in the Meat Packing District. Now it is a beautiful park along 12th street all the way up north. It is a nice long walk, with many nice plants trees, design elements, amazing views. At the end there is a little kids playground!

15. Helicopter ride

You can also take a helicopter ride above the city. The helicopter pads are on the West of Midtown at Hudson River, or at the Lower East Side Piers on the East River. You be surprised what the price is. It is not cheap but not so expensive either. Check it out!

16. American Museum of Natural History

Go to the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. It is huge and you see many dinosaurs  & mammoth skeletons. kids love it!(And watch the movie A Night at the Museum, as it is filmed in this museum.)

17. Chelsea Piers

Go to the Chelsea Piers, and go hit some balls at the Golf plaza, play bowling or play Basketball with a nice view of the City or the Hudson River. On their website you can see what is possible! At Chelsea Piers there is  also the Trapeze School of New York City. You can learn to fly and hang upside down in the air. Really fun especially for the older kids amongst us.

18. NY Watertaxi

Take the NY watertaxi boat tour around the island and see everything. It has a few stops on the riversides of Manhattan.

19. Broadway musical

See a Broadway musical or play. Even if you don't like musicals: there is nothing like seeing a show on Broadway.

20. Washington Square Park

Go to Washington Square Park, my favorite park with the famous Arch, and see all the diverse people hanging out, performing, or playing chess, and the dogs in the dog parks. This place is definitely for culture, but you also have a great view of the Empire State Building, and the Freedom Tower on the other side.

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21. Rent a bike in the city

You can find Citibike everywhere, and you can ride all around Manhattan via the Hudson River Park south to the Financial District, and back up along the East River (for older kids).

22. Visit the Intrepid

The Entrepid Museum. This used to be a warship, and when it was taken out of service, it became a museum. You can find the Concorde here, and other interesting (war) airplanes. (NY Fleetweek May 25-30!) Currently showing a "Star Trek  Academy Experience".

23. Visit Street fairs

See where there is a street fair going on in the City, and enjoy the locals and their food and merchandise!

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24. Swim in public pools

In the Summer you can swim at one of the many outdoor swimming pools from NYC Parks.  You can find current opening hourse HERE> Last Summer when my young nephews were in town, they went almost every day!

Day Trips

25. A day at the beach

You want a day at the beach? Take a ferry to the beach! Yes, Seastreak offers multiple daily trips to the New Jersey Shore. Take the stop Sandy Hook and enjoy a day at the beach.  I have done it! It is a nice short trip over the East River. Leaves from East River at Wall street, or East 35th street.

26. Visit a themepark

Go to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey in Spring and Summer. It's about an hour and 15 min drive, and you can either rent a car, or go by NJ Transit.

27. Visit an indoor water park

Go to any of the indoor water parks that you find around New York City. Some are a day trip, and some include stay at a hotel. The website Mommy Poppins.com has pointed out  7 great indoor waterparks in the neighborhood.

28. Go on a train ride

Take the train along the Hudson River upstate! Also a nice day trip, to enjoy the beautiful nature of Upstate New York. Go to Central Station (which is already beautiful to see) And buy a ticket at Metro North Train (MTA) Take the Hudson line up. Nice villages to go to are Peekskill, Hudson (where there is lots of art) but my favorite is Cold Spring as you get a beautiful view of the Hudson River, and it has an idyllic street with many little shops. Go to dinner at Hudson House Inn, as this historic inn at the riverfront has a nice view and food is great, as well as the people. Here is a nice page for more tips on visiting the Hudson Valley by Rail.

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CLICK HERE FOR SPECIAL THINGS TO DO IN THE WINTER/CHRISTMAS TIME WITH KIDS

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Food

29. Eat a burger

Try any of the organic Bare Burger restaurants in NYC (see my article in the link). There are all over the City and serve delicious organic burgers and salads and it is the perfect place to experience an American Burger the healthy way, your kids will love it.

30. Eat the best breakfast in town

Norma's: the best breakfast in the City ( my favorite!) This is a restaurant only open until 3pm every day, located in the Parker Meridien hotel. Sometimes there is a wait if you don't make a reservation. The restaurant looks clean, but the food... they make the best pancakes and waffles with fruit (I always order the Wazza waffle) and other breakfast food. Kids love it.

31. Visit nature in the city

Do you want to teach your kids about vegetables and plants? Go to the beautiful Bronx Botanical Garden! They have a rose garden, a part of a forest you can walk through safely, and on the top of the hill they have an area specially for kids where they can learn everything about gardening and even cooking what they grow in the garden!

32. Family style restaurant

If you want a more laid back atmosphere and a different neighborhood, Bubby's downtown in Tribeca is a great option too (the restaurant is owned by Robert DeNiro), they serve great scones and all American Breakfast.

33. Easy and delicious American Food

Underneath the Highline is the Standard Grill. When it is nice out, you can sit outside in the cute Meatpacking District area.

34. Drink a Juice

Whether it is on of the locations of the Juice Press ,Dr. Smood, or another brand a fresh healthy juice is a great start of the day, or a nice refresher. Some of these are also organic. You want to give your kids the right nutrients right?

35. Cupcakes, Bagels & Donuts

Of course you have to make a stop at Georgetown Cupcake, famous from their TLC show, and they even have gluten free and vegan options. They are located on Mercer street in Soho. My favorite Bakery is Le Pain Quotidien, and Maison Kayser with their organic breads. You find them throughout the City, and are great to go with kids to have lunch.

36. PIZZA!

Even though Rubirosa is my favorite pizza place, with kids it is better to go to Lombardi's, or Arturo's pizza. You can also take out pizza and take it to a nearby park and eat it.

Shopping

37. Build your own toy

Build a custom made teddybear at Build-a-Bear on 5th Avenue. You can choose the color of the bear, and what he or she will wear.

38. Shop for kids' clothes

You can shop for kids clothes everywhere, but around Soho there are many small boutique cute clothing stores for kids. If you need warm clothes I like the Patagonia Store on Greene street. Patagonia tries to do good for the environment, their clothes are not expensive and really nice and warm. If you want something really nice & fashionable, Trico Field on West Broadway are places where you find very special items for your young kids.

39. Science & history related gifts

The Evolution Store on Broadway. Kids love these dead animals and skeletons. You have objects from 1 dollar to thousands of dollars!

40. Make art with your kids

Children's museum for the Arts on Charlton Street: Let your kids find their art, this is a nice activity for around 2.5 hours.

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Stay

NYC is expensive, and the city is battling short-term rental companies by putting in laws that make most short term rentals not allowed. But it is in court so it is important you check out the local status of Air BNB and other short term rental laws. Your accommodation is an area where you usually have to accept that you won't have too much space in your hotel room. But hey, you are going to be outside all the time anyway! I would suggest to stay away from very busy areas like hotels around Times Square, or hotels in 20-50s streets. Uptown close to Central Park is the best bet, as well as hotels downtown. Here is a link  with some more information and another one with tips. The Soho Grand is a nice hotel in Soho, and I used to stay at the luxury Le Parker Meridien hotel close to Central Park with my family years ago: they even have a swimming pool on the roof and restaurant Norma's is in the hotel! (as well as a great burger restaurant called Burger Joint) When you are on a budget, try Holiday inn, Courtyard and Four Points by Sheraton in Soho, Financial District and Tribeca. You have to do some research, but remember with kids: the area and safety of the hotel is more important than size of your room.

Getting Around:

You can walk to the curb, raise your hand and get a "Yellow Cab". When the number is on, it is available. When all lights are on (on left and right of the number) the taxi is off-duty. When the light is off, the Taxi is taken. They usually take 4 people at once. If your family is bigger, you can order a Lyft, Uber, Via, Gett or Juno by downloading their apps and ordering a car in the right size. There are other good Limousine services like Carmel and Dial7. Taking your kids in the subway is also a very easy and convenient way to get around. And of course, you should walk as much as possible, it is my favorite thing to do in NYC!

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And finally: Take a lot of pictures. Make lasting memories with your kids. New York City is definitely something they will never forget in their lifetime!.

I hope these suggestions help you when visiting New York City, because there are many things to do for Kids in the Best City in the World! :)

For more current kids activities and more inspiration please go to: Time Out NYC KIDS

Love, Lonneke

p.s. all thanks to Navy, Milo & Lux Lamey (my nephews and niece) who came to visit us in NYC  <3

First published in 2017, Updated in 2019


10 ways to help dogs in need

Did you know many shelters in NYC and in USA have a kill policy?

The Truth about shelters in the USA

Some dogs that come in are euthanized within a few days or a week. They don't get a fair chance to get adopted. Many "mega" shelters get 80 to 100 dogs A DAY to care for, dumped by their owners, found as stray, confiscated by the Police due to abuse, you name it. Many shelter employees experience traumatic situations everyday, but pick themselves up by knowing that they are still helping the majority of the dogs. My first dog Vito - a Bull Terrier - came from a shelter in the Netherlands. When he passed away at an old age, we first fostered and then adopted our dog Bane. He was on Death Row at the NYCACC shelter, and Animal Haven shelter saved him just in time before he was killed...

Lonneke en Bane
My dog Bane

Sweet pitbulls have a bad reputation but are in fact great dogs

In the USA right now there is a big problem with pitbulls, American Staffordshire terriers and American Bull dogs. And any "scary" looking dogs. Not the dogs are the problem, the dogs of these breeds are in fact the most loving and amazing dogs I know, but the owners are the problem. In certain parts of the USA society, and other parts of the World, even in my home country of the Netherlands, people use these dogs for dog fighting. They look ferocious and some people own them only for that reason. These dogs are amazing. Why? They are so loving and so loyal to their owners, they will do everything for them. And even when these dogs are rescued after having experienced the worst they could ever experience, most of them can still get rehabilitated in loving homes. That's how amazing that breed is.The show Pitbulls and Parolees is a good example. People who are involved in any of these scams, should of course be prosecuted for these criminal charges. And never be able to own a dog in their life again.

Dogs in need are all around us

Dogs in need suffer all over the World each and every day. People are putting these dogs outside with no food, water, shelter or attention. Leaving your dog alone at home for most of the day is not dog-friendly either. Most dogs that have behavioral problems, are caused by their owners. Dogs have feelings just like we do. They get hungry, they feel pain, they get cold. Caring for a dog is like caring for your child. You should treat them how you treat your children, and how you want to be treated. It is no wonder that families where there is animal abuse, there are usually also other problems within that family. Animal abuse is therefore a good indication that these people might need more help. Sometimes dogs are wandering around as stray dogs. They are not neutered or spayed and therefore start families. Who then again are also homeless. These mutts usually have a hard time getting adopted too.

Must Read: 5 Reasons to adopt a shelter dog

Lonneke, Bane en Dirk
Lonneke, Bane & Dirk

10 ways to help dogs in need

  1. Firstly realize that dogs have feelings just like us. They feel pain, they get cold. Treat them how you want to be treated.
  2. More dogs need to get adopted, EVERYONE can help out.
  3. Think everything out before you get a dog. People should not get a dog if they can't give them a lifetime commitment, or a safe home. Most dogs reach an age between 10-15 years, sometimes even more! And if you do want a commitment for such a long time, getting a senior from a shelter is a good idea; You give him or her a few great years, and he or she gives you unconditional love and attention.
  4. Think about what your dog, or a shelter dog needs. Feed them enough of the right food, and give them the right (medical) care in time. Prevent your dog from getting too cold, too hot, hurt, hungry or depressed. Don't leave dogs unattended,  especially during cold and hot days. Dogs can overheat or cool down quickly and not show signs until it is too late. Make time for your dog. If your dog has behavioral problems it is most likely due to a fault of the owner.
  5. Don't buy a puppy, choose a shelter dog! Shelter dogs are a much better choice for many reasons. You know what you get, they are very well supervised and analyzed for their behavior, and sometimes even trained well! And one fact: When you buy a puppy: a shelter dog get's killed. It is that simple.
  6. Adopt, Foster a dog and/or Donate to your local shelter. You can even give dog food, new toys, blankets and beds. Fostering a dog really saves a dog's lives!
  7. If you see a dog in need, you need to take care of it and bring it to the attention of animal rescue organization in your area. Always think that you are the only one that will do something about it. Most people think; " Someone else will help that animal" and walk on. But in reality most people think like that and therefore many animals suffer!
  8. If you know of or see animal abuse, notify the local police. We need higher criminal charges for animal abuse and more people telling the Police what they have seen or know about.
  9. Become a volunteer at a shelter and walk dogs. A lot of dogs at shelters are 24/7 in their cages because there aren't enough volunteers. Even an hour a week would help out a few dogs!
  10. Use social media to bring awareness to dogs in need. Any like, click, share will help!

Here are a few shelters you can go to right now and help out!

USA:

NYC:

The dogs will thank you even if you help out just 1 of them. If we all do a little bit of work, we can create a big chance for all of them!

Love, Lonneke

Must-read: A Dog is part of the Family

 


New York City outdoor workout with friends!

It's Summer in NYC and this one is the mildest of the last few years... We are in mid July and the thermometers haven't reached 100 degrees yet. For me there isn't a better combination than meeting with friends and doing a New York City outdoor workout! Last week our best friends Ricardo Baldin and his girlfriend Jeannete Linderberg, joined my love Fabio Nunes and I for a nice week of training and eating good food. They both are based and working as models in L.A. so I get to see them only once in a while another reason to really enjoy our time together.

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Fabio and Ricardo at the Elevated Acre in the financial district NYC.

Ways to work out outdoors in New York City

There are a LOT of ways to do a New York City outdoor workout:  biking, playing ball, skating, running. And there are a lot of places to do it so too!

After a great smoothie in the morning, we all went for a cardio training that takes only 15 minutes of your time! The goal is to keep your heart rate a bit at a certain level that helps you sweat and burn fat. After all is a great way to raise your energy levels for the rest of the day.

We also had a little fun doing Yoga poses ( Asanas ) and helping each other to improve our technique. We went to the Elevated Acre in the Financial District to do this workout.

 

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Eating healthy after a workout

I am proud to say that our post New York City outdoor workout meal was amazing! : Chicken legs, sweet potatoes, spinach egg whites omelet with avocado topping and arugula salad. Every single ingredient was organic and chicken was free range grade 2. All made with love and care by Fabio's talented chef hands. He is a Model Chef after all, who has cooked many delicious dinners for foodlovers around New York City :)

 

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Riding a bike in New York City

The other day, we rode city bikes and took the East River cycling route with destination: Central Park. The ride was just so enjoyable, the temperature during the day was perfect and it really got into my senses the whole experience exercising, and enjoying the view, good weather and company. We even bumped into few Brasilian friends that were doing exactly same thing as we were: two girls on their skates while the third one was running alongside them. The bike ride was about 7 miles , Uptown to Central Park, and back home with a few stops to enjoy our favorites places in the city. Like the Italian meca Eataly on 5th av and 23rd st - were we went to recharge our fuel with great food.

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When at the park it was easy to have a good time!

 

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At Central park - inspired by kids playing around - soft strenght training.

 

Outdoor work outs with friends are fun

Gather a few friends, get inspired by the good weather and push each other to reach your goals! Share your knowledge and experiences - all that, and relieving stress at the same time! Above all Summertime is here to raise our spirits in a positive vibe !! I strongly advice to stay active,  moving your body every chance you get! That's the way I'm gonna spend my next days, what about you guys ?? ;))

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Follow me and Fabio on instagram for more workouts and healthy foods:

@CarolFontaneti & @1FabioNunes

Stay focused,

XoCarol ;)

 

 


The Cinnamon Snail vegan food truck NYC

I do love street food. Period. I love healthy street vendors even more, and my all time favorite is "The Cinnamon Snail" vegan food truck NYC.

I love vegan donuts

I have been crazy for vegan donuts since the North American culture got into my life and I have to thank Cinnamon Snail for making the most delicious yet ' good for you '  donuts, brownies, cookies, bars and other treats. I'm sure it would catch your eye if you're wandering the streets of NYC and spot the cinnamon colored truck...

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I have good news for you if you're not a crazy "Sweet Tooth" like myself, they also have these incredible delicious gourmet sandwiches made with seitan and more cause there is a plus : they serve vegan and organic food only.

Favorite treats at Cinnamon Snail

For a non typical day in my routine, I had the "special of the day" featuring maple hickory bbq seitan with smoked chili coconut bacon, marinated kale and roasted garlic aioli on a grilled baguette. It was way to heavy for my morning, but it was worth the experience cause I've never had a tastier vegan sandwich before.  Champs!

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People working at the truck are super nice and helpful!

I also need to recommend the cinnamon roll, and my number 1 donut -the vanilla bourbon creme brulée : It is mindblowing!

You can find all the info you need on their instagram @cinnamonsnail , but I can bring you good news: they cater and have pickup locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Hoboken.

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Have you spotted a green one and guessing what flavor is? It's Basil coconut!

When my favorite friends Dirk and Lonneke were about to leave NYC for a while, Fabio and I run earlier that day to grab an assortment of our favorite bites, and paid a visit to share some goodness and free the stress of traveling abroad for a while... I was lucky to bring some leftovers back home!

xo Carol


9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM

9/11 Memorial Museum

That one day in September 2011. Everybody remembers where they were at that exact time. Where were you? 

The Netherlands, September 11th 2011. I just had cleaned the stables and fed the horses and went inside my family's home. It was about 3.15 pm and I turn on the TV, just to unwind for a bit after some hard work. Then I see the news coming on, there is an extra news broadcast. I see the Twin towers of the World Trade Center, and one is burning. What has happened? At that moment the second tower got hit by a plane and there was chaos everywhere in the World. What the h*ll was going on? I called up my father who was terminally ill with cancer, and who was in bed upstairs.I told  him: "Rob, look at the news! What's this?". He couldn't believe it either. We had just visite the top of the tower only a few months ago, even before my father got sick. We went because my father wanted to do something "touristy" this time  in New York City. I got many great pictures from that visit, including one of my father on top of the World Trade Center.  So that September 11th, we watched the news together all day. It was beyond anything that we could wrap our head around. The towers collapsed and the Pentagon got hit too. There even was a plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Air traffic in the USA was shut down and everyone was in shock. "You probably would have never thought you would live longer than the Twin Towers, right" I told my dad that day. 4 weeks later he passed away. That's why to my that moment of 9/11 has extra meaning, as it was one of the last things I did with my father when he was still able to participate in a conversation with me. I miss him more the more time has passed. And I do miss the Twin Towers too.

911 Quilt

Nowadays people still talk about 9/11. Where they were at that moment, and what the true story is, because many stories were going around. Today people still don't know exactly what happened, but we all know that many people were killed, and many people have been emotionally suffering ever since. The rules have changed. Some wounds have not even healed yet. And maybe they will never. There had to be a place created for people to come together and remember it all. And after years of work, it is here.

A few weeks ago the 9/11 Memorial museum has finally opened its doors. Exactly in the location where the towers stood, there are now 2 square black pools with on each side waterfalls that end up in a hole in the middle in the shape of a square. You don't see where the water is going. It is very impressive. On the sides you can read all the names of the people who lost their lives. These pools can be visited daily from 7.30pm to 9pm and is free of charge.

911 Water Wall

Underneath the pools is where the 9/11 Memorial Museum sits. You have to pay for admission and I recommend buying the tickets online, and choose the time you want to go. When you enter, you go down the stairs and end up in a large space with very nice modern architecture, and with walls as much as 30 feet high or so. It is very impressive. Walking through the different rooms,you see remains of the towers. A fire truck that got smashed. One window of a tower that was the only one of all the tens of thousands of windows that survived the impact.  The last standing concrete pole of 9/11 full of personal notes from fire fighters and other people who worked on the 9/11 disaster. (see picture above) The wall that keeps the Hudson river from flowing into downtown NYC. (also in picture above) A wall with the unrecognizable remains of the people who vanished behind it. (picture below) A room where you can ask to have an In Memoriam of someone who has died on 9/11 to be displayed. You see many, many things that were found on 9/11. And you are able to see, and hear different videos and audio of news broadcasts, and personal stories in the different spaces of the museum. There is even a box of tissues, because I am sure many people won't keep it dry hearing a flight attendant call home who was on one of the hijacked flights, or someone in one of the towers who describes what she saw...

911 Memorial Wall

My family and I went the second week of opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. They work with hours of entrance, and there is a lot of security of course. There is a lot to see, and what stood out was that everyone was quiet. The museum was quiet. People were in awe and shock of everything they saw. Everyone remembers 9/11. Everyone has a story to tell, of their recollection of 9/11. And if you think your story adds to the story of 9/11 you can even tape your story and it is put into the collection of the museum. This way the collection is ever growing.

When visiting New York City, I definitely recommend visiting this Museum, it will make you remember it all, and will make you not forget.

9/11 Memorial Museum

Love, Lonneke


Third Person movie

When I heard I could go with our friend miss Tina Louise to a screening of the movie "Third Person" for Academy members only (yes, the ones who choose who gets the Oscars), I was really excited because this was a movie by Director Paul Haggis. I was a big fan of his movie "Crash" and was looking forward seeing his newest one: "Third Person".

Third_Person_poster

My thoughts on the cast beforehand and after:

Liam Neeson: even though I hate how he is trying to defend the horse carriage industry in NYC with stupid promo videos etc, and thankfully NYCLASS is not letting him get away with it,  I think he is a good actor and I usually love his movies.

Adrien Brody: Great acting, always.

Kim Basinger: Yes Kim. I think she should be acting in more roles.

Maria Bello: Coyote Ugly is way behind her. She plays it tough. Just like Kim I wish you would see more mature women like these 2 in movies.

Mila Kunis: Who doesn't love Mila?

James Franco: And who doesn't love James? Always so artsy.

Olivia Wilde: shows up naked! Great body.. but her character also has a dark secret…

Moran Atias: A very beautiful woman playing a pretty Albanian gypsy… you might remember her from the movie Crash. I read somewhere she did not shower for 4 months to prepare for this role. She probably didn't also brush her teeth then either.

The movie is about 2 hours and 17 minutes. If you have seen the movie "Crash", you know that Paul Haggis likes to tell different story lines and mold them together, in such a great way that he got an Oscar for it. "Third Person" is about relationships. Liam Neeson plays Michael, who is a writer, on a verge of a breakup with his wife Elaine (Basinger). He has an affair with Anna (Wilde) and they are in Paris. His writing is not going so well lately. He is trying to deal with things that happened in his own life, which he brings back into his characters of his newest book. He does everything for a good story, he uses all inspiration that he finds in his real life. As all the separate stories develop, you start to notice they are all connected to one… What is real and what is not?

There seem to be a few stories going on:

- Michael, Elaine & Anna and her dark secret...

- James Franco (Rick) & Mila Kunis (Julia) are in a custody battle over their son, as Mila is accused of trying to kill their son. Maria Bello (Theresa is  Julia's attorney, and she is also linked to Adrien Brody (Scott):

- Adrien Brody (Scott) sits in a bar in Rome, Bar Americano, when the beautiful Moran Atias (Monika) walks in and sits next to him and orders limoncello.  He immediately has a crush on her, but if that was a smart thing to do? Is she trying to con him or not...

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One particular scene between Rick (James Franco) and Julia (Mila Kunis) was so intense to watch I started crying my eyes out. for some reason this movie got to me so much emotionally, don't know why.  I couldn't sleep at night. This was mostly because of that you get sucked into these characters, and their emotions. The movie is a game of the mind.. you are trying to continuously figure out what's going on. All Actors did a terrific job, and I really consider this movie one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. And that says a lot because I usually only like documentaries or movies about true stories.

Director Paul Haggis told a bit about the movie after the movie was finished. He said the writing process was about 2 1/2 years, and all together the movie took about 5 1/2 years from start to finish. He gets his inspiration from other people's stories; he is always curious to learn about the backstory of people. He likes a movie when it brings up questions, and people afterwards have to discuss it, and share their thoughts on what happened. I loved it when he told the audience the little clues that he put in the movie. It makes me want to watch it again so I can see them all, as I saw most, but missed a few :) They filmed the whole movie in Rome as that was financially the best way to do it. All actors did not get paid (much) and the movie was made with a reasonably small budget. The scenes in Paris were also filmed in Rome. And in 1 day he filmed a few exterior shots in New York City, but even the scenes in New York City were filmed on locations in Rome.

The funny story of the night was when Paul Haggis told the audience how he did a scene with Mila Kunis hailing a cab in New York City, that was actually filmed in Rome. He basically ordered NY yellow cabs from Eastern Europe to come in for filming. These were the only taxicabs in all of Europe, and they were old ones too. He then tried to have the "extras" in the movie hail a cab in the background like a true New Yorker, but they did not know how to hail a cab. So he had to show them how you do it like a true New Yorker. But then when he called for "action" it turned out all the extras did the same thing at the same time, waving their hands up in the air in the same way, which made it seem more like a choreographed flash mob instead of a real scene in New York City. Everybody in the audience laughed when he told this story and showed how they did it. So in the end Paul Haggis let all the extras be in the back and he did the hailing a cab himself. You can therefore see him in the movie  as well for a split second.

One remark I have is that the American movie poster was a bit boring. If the movie poster depicted more who played in it, the actors, the places, it would catch people's attention way sooner. These posters I found online are better I think. I don't know what the Asian language on it means, so I hope it is positive, otherwise tell me ;)

[threecol_one]third_person_ver3[/threecol_one][threecol_one]third_person_ver4[/threecol_one][threecol_one_last]ThirdPerson_poster_final 0508_500x714[/threecol_one_last]

I don't understand why some critics bashed this movie. I thought it was smart and caught my attention for 2 + hours, that time went by like nothing. I like a movie that is a puzzle. If you want a chewed out plain movie script which is predictable, this is not your movie. If you like brain teasing movies, I  would definitely recommend to watch this movie in a theater!

Love, Lonneke


Just Married!

On the birthday of my late father Rob Engel, 29th of January, Dirk Verest and I, Lonneke Engel, would like to announce our marriage to the World! I am a lucky woman and have never felt more excited for our future together! 

Just married!

Dirk and I are extremely happy with our intimate & spiritual wedding, in our beautiful loft in New York City, in November 2013. Surrounded by close friends, we were married by Brooke, an ordained minister, who is a close friend, and my best friend Johan's wife.

Married life feels good! You have someone in your life you love, who loves you back. You have someone in your life to lean on, and together you are a team. Dirk and I are a team. For better and for worse, for real. And that's something I have longed for, for years.

Love, Lonneke

 My DIY wedding bouquet

Our Wedding in the News

Lonneke-Engel-Dirk-Verest

Featured Image by Sophie Blackall, our wedding card.


My top 10 charities to give to this year

If you don't know to which charities you should give money, here is my top 10 charities to give to this year. Charities that, some big and some small, give focused help. Therefore you get more "use" out of the money you spend on these charities. While there are many organizations that do good, I have listed charities I have experience with/donated to in the past/or have been to their charity events.  Either I have seen it with my own eyes or I just really trust these organizations, these are my favorite 10 charities of 2013/2014:

My top 10 charities to give to this year

1. Animal Haven

Category dogs and cats in NYC, USA. This is a boutique no-kill shelter for dogs and cats. They don't have a big budget, but seem to really be efficient with their funds, and they help a lot of dogs! Many come from the NYCACC kill shelter, but they also take dogs in need from all over the World. My dog BANE came from Animal Haven and we adopted him from there a few years ago! They took care of him for 10 months before he came into our lives. The dogs are extremely happy and well-behaved who come from this shelter. Volunteers and employees really do everything to make their short-term stay (hopefully) as comfortable as possible. Their new location even has airconditioning in the rooms that are spacious for the dogs and cats! My dog Bane loves to visit them. I think that says a lot if a dog likes to return to a shelter!

Dirk, Lonneke and Bane
Dirk, Lonneke and Bane

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyQtRSaiNOo

 

2. ASPCA (USA)

Category: dogs, cats, horses USA - The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I have been supporting, donating and going to their charity events for years now. Why? I think the way you treat your animals says a lot about you. In most cases when people find animal abuse, there are other problems in place. Finding animal abuse ism besides helping animals, sometimes also the first step to help the people who own them. I have seen with my own eyes how they take in dogs & cats that are abused, neglected or malnourished, or are on the list to be euthanized in other shelters. They will bring them back to health, and find new forever homes for them. People who can't afford it, can get free veterinary care for their pets. Also, the ASPCA has been doing the same for horses all across the United States. In 1866, this charity was founded by Henry Bergh to primarily help sick, injured or abused horses. in 1902 they were the first to have an ambulance in NYC to take carriage horses of the streets that were injured. (Read more ASPCA history HERE)

lonneke aspcaAttending an ASPCA charity event in NYC

3. NYCLASS (USA)

nyclass logoCategory: workhorses NYC - New Yorkers for Clean, Livable And Safe Streets. Although some people think the horse drawn carriages in NYC are so very romantic, the fact is that this is true case of horse abuse. There are many reasons why the 220 carriage horses of NYC should be taken of the streets. First of all: horses don't belong in heavy and loud traffic of one of the busiest metropoles of the World. Horses get into accidents, and every year it seems to be more and more. The horses work too long hours, in extreme cold and extreme heat, 7 days a week. Sometimes doing double shifts if the owner wants to make an extra buck (that's over 16 hour days then) They are never turned out or walked without a carriage so they can just stretch and be a horse. Their living conditions? Appalling. Some horses are stabled even on the second floor of buildings that were obviously not meant to have horses reside there. Ever seen a horse walk up the stairs? Well, some do it every day. Not to mention the small spaces they stay in. Some horses can't even turn around. During Sandy in November 2012, These horses were not allowed to be on the streets. Where were they? Suddenly, after working every day, they stayed INSIDE their stables for the full week! If that is not bad for a horse, I don't know what is! To make a long story short: NYCLASS already has a loving and forever place for each of the 220 NY Carriage horses once the bill is in place to take the horses of the streets of NYC.  There is even a great alternative I wrote about earlier:  the horseless electric carriage. How Smart! These days they focus also on more animal-related issues.

nyclass galaAttending a NYCLASS charity event in NYC

4. Pencils of Promise. (USA)

Pencils of Promise logoCategory: children/education/worldwide - Founded by the manager of Justin Bieber, Adam Braun, this charity builds schools worldwide in places where kids otherwise would not go to school. It is that simple. Every penny goes to the schools. They have projects in countries like Laos, Guatamala & Ghana They have a goal of 100 schools by the end of 2012. They already finished about 75 of them. This year I attended the PoP gala where Usher was being honored, and also bid 12000 dollars on a cute labradoodle puppy he called "Poppy". This way more and more is raised for education for kids! So join the movement!

lonneke Pencils of PromiseAttending at a  Pencils of Promise event in NYC in 2012

5. Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Fund.

Category breast cancer/cancer /research/women's health - A charitable organization originated by Ralph Lauren, which supports breast cancer research and prevention all around the World. You can donate directly, or buy one of their Pink Pony products to show your support and that way donate to this good cause. I also posed for Ralph Lauren Pink Pony once.

Lonneke Pink Pony

6. Washington Square Park Conservancy

Category: parks & recreation

This is my favorite park in NYC, and a favorite of many New Yorkers and tourists alike.  Creative and musical people find this place inspiring. Every day I walk here I feel like I am on vacation. A Mix of all kinds of people are enjoying themselves. My father figure George Vellonakis redesigned the park a few years ago and is now working for the Washington Square Park Conservancy to upkeep the park and it's beautiful plants, trees, history, famous arch and famous fountain. The Conservancy hires many homeless people to do the landscaping of the park. That way they help them get work experience and get them back on their feet.

Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park

7. WSPA International.

Category factory animal welfare/food safety

Helping factory farm animals around the World who are raised for consumption. The WSPA protects and helps all animals around the World where help is needed. They bought agree that animals should not be raised in a factory as this is a situation of prolonged suffering for the animals. The practices used to raise these animals are upsetting and make you not want to eat meat again if you see it. Unfortunately a lot of people are closing their eyes for these practices, and keep buying these products, to which the industry continues to use these practices. As the consumer is King, if they would refuse to buy these animal products, the industry would have to change their practice. it is that simple. So you can help these organizations by buying animal friendly products consciously to show your support. Only consumers can truly change the system by asking for better living quality for the food they eat, and not let a few cents make the decision of what animal products you eat or not. The money you save this way short-term will get back to you in health problems the long way, as these animals are treated with hormones, cruel feeding methods, lots of medication, and are just unhappy. You eat that energy and bad energy is never good for you. Think about helping these organizations and think when you buy your food next time in the grocery store. You are what you eat.

wspa logo

8. The Non-GMO project.

non gmoCategory food safety. While most people are becoming more aware of the reasons to choose and eat organic food, just buying products that say "Organic" on it, is not good enough anymore to assure what you eat is truly as nature intended. Big corporations are making "organic" a business and are trying to sit on the fine lines of what is organic and not. A product can get an "organic" seal even if the product is not 100% organic. You can't be totally sure anymore unless you investigate yourself some more of what you and your family eat. It is important to investigate even further what you eat, on a molecular level. Since a few decades some big corporations have invented "GMO" , and they are selling it and you are buying it. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and means that the food that you consume, is genetically altered. (You should read my article on GMO to understand what it is.) There are many reasons why one should not consume GMO, and this non profit organization is showing you all the facts. But it is a personal choice if you want to know or not. Now the Non-GMO project is labeling food that is without GMO, it has become much easier to know what is in the food products you buy. I appreciate their work so much! Now I know what to buy or not in the store. As food, together with clean water and clean air are the essentials to live, I think this is something that is important for all people. Your support will help them bring more awareness and better food to you. Keep an eye out for this label!

9. Food & Water Watch, Category air/water/food safety

This organization covers many issues we have these days. Issues that come from water pollution to fracking, from factory fish farming to bottled water and many more that affect everyone. this website is a great resource already to get your info on what's going on in the World these days, so you can make the right decisions on what to support when it comes to the knowning what food you eat and protecting the water you drink.

food water watch

10. Justgiving

Category charity website.  And to conclude my 10 favorite charities to give to this year, I added a website to which you can browse yourself to find your preferred charity to give to. You can search on Just Giving for or a charity you like and donate online. Over 10.000 charities, big and small, are waiting for your donation!

just giving logo

I hope these 10 great organizations have helped you to find out whom you are going to support this year!

Other charities that were brought to my attention on Twitter when I asked my followers which charities should add, but did not make my top 10 are: Net4KidsLendahandGive Directly, Reporters without Borders,  Stichting Vluchteling Artsen zonder grenzen; Warchild; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International; Greenpeace; Bits of Freedom; Wikileaks; Tess Unlimited, Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij KNMR,  World Wildlife Fund WWF. Plan Nederland, Terre des HommesStichting Hulphond Nederland, ,Inloophuis de Eik ,De Snoezelbus in Rotterdam ,Even a charity to make cannabis legal named VOC  .Thank you followers for sharing these with us!

Forbes also made a list of the top 50 largest USA charities, which can help you make a decision on what charity to support this year too!

What is your top 10 of favorite charities to give to?

Love, Lonneke


New York City Winter Movies tour

Whether you are visiting New York City during the Winter or Christmas, or are just at home and want to see some nice family movies during the Holidays, here are my 5 favorite movies to watch in the Winter time. And maybe you can go visit the film locations in New York City! Check my New York City Winter Movies Tour, starting with no. 1 on top:

1. Home Alone 2 Lost in New York

This is the all-time favorite, not-to-miss movie starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin, who by accident gets on the wrong plane and flies to New York City by himself, instead of Florida with his family. While the Plaza hotel does exist (it is now half a residential building and half a hotel) The toy store in the movie does not really exist -the movie's toystore "Duncan's Chest" was filmed in Chicago - this is the movie's version of FAO Swarz, a toy store a few blocks to the East of Plaza Hotel, on 5th Avenue. You can go there and enjoy the toys. Go see the movie, and go see the Plaza hotel from Central Park. You can also book a room here and order room service just like Kevin did in the movie. I also love the Home Alone 2 trivia, as there are more interesting facts to this movie and film locations.

The Trailer of Home Alone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0kJieJ1k6k

2. Serendipity

Probably one of my favorite romantic movies ever made. A lot is filmed around New York City in the Winter. It is a very nice movie for the Winter nights, with lots of love, Winter season activities and snowflakes. The story is about how Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) meet at a kiosk at Bloomingdale's to buy gloves. Sara decides it should be faith if they should meet again,and she writes her phone number and name in a book. Jonathan writes his number on a dollar bill. The whole movie you see them trying to find each other's phone number and hoping destiny will bring them together.There is actually a restaurant in New York City named Serendipity 3 (225 E 60th street, between 2nd & 3rd avenue), and that's where a few scenes in the movie are filmed. Jonathan and Sara share a Frozen Hot Chocolate here, a famous drink from Serendipity they even trademarked. It is not so healthy but so fun to go and have one yourself!

Serendipity frozen hot chocolate
This is the scene filmed at Serendipity 3 when Sara (Kate Beckinsale) and Jonathan (John Cusack) share a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, a specialty of Serendipity 3.

The trailer of Serendipity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePU2Ux9JIMM

Other places you should visit are Bloomingdale's (1000 3rd avenue & E 59th street) where Sara and Jonathan meet, The Waldorf Astoria hotel (301 Park Avenue between 49th & 50th) where Jonathan's wedding takes place, Wollman Rink in Central park where Jonathan and Sara are going ice skating and where they reunite. More locations of this movie you can find HERE>, as they also were filming in my neighborhood, as well as some unknown trivia questions HERE>

3. A night at the Museum

A fun movie with Ben Stiller, who plays Larry who becomes a guard in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (Central Park West & 79th street)  He is supposed to " not let anything in, and not let anything out". He later finds out what that means when he is by himself at night at the museum. (This movie was also directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed Home Alone 1 and 2.).

A night at the Museum

 

The Trailer of A Night at the Museum

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2G-8raHvOU

 

4. Elf

A true Christmas movie. Buddy (played by Will Ferrell) is an adult human who was raised by elves. He is going to New York City to meet his real father Walter Hobbs (James Caan) who is on Santa's naughty list. If you watch this movie you want to go visit the Empire State Building (350 5th Avenue at 34th street) and you want to go see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center (5th Avenue between 49th & 50th street). A joyful funny movie for the whole family!Elf movie

The trailer of Elf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW9wRNqQ_P8

5. Noel

They want us to believe it is all filmed in New York City, but most of it was in fact filmed in Canada. So it should not really be on this list. You do see Rockefeller center and other nice shots of New York City in Winter/Christmas time. But as Paul Walker has a lead roll in it next to Susan Sarandon and Penelope Cruz,  I thought it was a nice gesture to include this movie in my top 5 list in his memory.Noel movie

The trailer of Noel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLjj5EwviQY

 

p.s. I found a great website with more New York City film locations of all your favorite New York City movies in one place: On the set of New York

 


Christmas in New York City top 5 things to do

When you are in New York City in December, there is a lot to do for grownups and kids. And they are not all pricey. In fact, some are for free! Here is my top 5 activity for Christmas in New York City.

NYC snow

1. Go see the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Hall

I have been many times and I still get mesmerized by the wonderful performance and Christmas theme of this show. If you are in NYC in November or December, you must try to get tickets to see the show. It will definitely give you the Christmas spirit. In the busy Holiday season the Rockettes have up to 6 (!) shows a day! (price depends on date and time) They are performing until the end of December/beginning of January.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OURaHfpKE6Q

 

 

2. Watch Home Alone 2 and go see the Plaza hotel

When in Central Park, go ice skating at Wollman rink, and then walk over to the Plaza hotel. You can also go into the Plaza for a Breakfast buffet in the morning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h9VDUNtoto

 

3. Take a trip to Rockefeller Plaza

You can see the biggest Christmas tree you will ever see! You can  go iceskating there too. And if you turn around, across the street of 5th Avenue, you can see the 3D show at Saks Fifth Avenue at night!

Home Alone Christmas Tree

During the Holiday season, Saks Fifth Avenue always had huge snow flakes ornaments on their building that would light up with a musical show,  but in 2013 they unveiled their 3D show on the building that they perform every night from 5pm to 11pm. You just have to wait and see when the show starts! (free)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QofG21QwMw

 

4. Go drink frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3

The best Frrrozen Hot Chocolate in the World you find at Serendipity 3, a great place for kids and adults alike to go to after ice skating at Wollman Rink, just like Sara and Jonathan in the movie Serendipity did. Don't count the calories... it is a Holiday after all, right?

serendipity frozen hot chocolate

5. Go shopping for gifts at the Holiday Market at Columbus Circle at the South West corner of Central park, or  Union Square South.

Union-Square-Holiday-Market-4

These  above attractions are all uptown around Central Park South except Union Square Holiday market.

If you want more inspiration read my post on the NEW YORK CITY WINTER MOVIES TOUR where you can find more NYC places you can visit!

Happy Holidays!

Love, Lonneke