12 Memories, 12 Years in New York City




Happy Friday, guys! I'm working from home and am sick as a dog. Completely congested, puffy-eyed, stomach ache and all, I still managed to crank out a post dedicating the past 12 years of living in New York City! (Cuz I'm a true f*Ck&ng New Yorker!) It's still hard to believe, but I wouldn't have made it this far without hard work, kindness and then some. I did a bigger post on my ten year anniversary (here and here) showcasing lessons learned from being here along with what kind of adventures I did to celebrate such an occasion. However, because of a bomb cyclone, freezing temps and not being in top physical shape, the idea of venturing outside to do anything is not exactly appealing right now. We did go shoot this out in the snow yesterday after the storm calmed down, and yes I froze my patooty off from it. But being from the Midwest and with the power of makeup, it wasn't so bad freezing while sick to enjoy the winter wonderland. So today's celebration is 12 memories I wanted to share since being in New York 12 years ago today.

1. My first night living in New York, I went out with one of my roommates and her friends. We went everywhere from McSorley's to Le Souk to Brass Monkey and eventually ending the night in Koreatown with the last ones standing, chowing down on some late night Korean grub. I remember even having Tteokguk (떡국) or sliced rice cake soup which is a traditional Korean dish that is eaten during the celebration of the Korean New Year. Even in my drunken haze, I wished for good luck from the rice cakes. 

2. Why did I come to New York? To join the NYPD. I'm serious. But after having my heart broken back home, and now with the opportunity to start fresh and heal from the breakup in a completely new and exciting town, I was still very much a believer in love. And I did secretly hope to fall in love before I even came here. And you know what? About a year after being here, it happened. How did I know? After our first kiss. (which was on a cobblestone road in the wee hours of the night), and when he put me in a cab to go home, this sudden rush came over me. And you know how you hear people say it's nothing like they've ever felt before? That's the feeling I had.


3. During my days as a figure skating coach, I worked for a non-profit organization that provided skating lessons to inner-city girls that would most likely never be exposed to a sport like this. And there was one particular student who was troubled and came from a tough background. I also photographed for the Org and one day while shooting she came up to me and started asking questions about my camera. When I finally asked her interest in photography, she told me she'd probably never get far doing anything with it. I told her that was complete bullshit and that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Sure enough, she is older now and in college, but making moves and is a working photographer. We even bumped into each other in the middle of the street a few years ago where I commended her for her work and growth. It always brings such a smile to my face and I hope I had some sort of influx to her life. 

4. One of the greatest secrets in New York is a place called Fire Island. It's about 2 hours away from the city and thanks to a dear friend for introducing it to me, it holds a special place in my heart. It's one of those places where you feel you're thousands of miles away from home but you're a hop, skip and a cab back into the city. Many memories of Rocket Fuel's, lobster dinners, badminton and long perfect days on the beach. It's been a few years since I've been back and I sure do miss it!

5. If you know me, you'll know my deep passionate obsession with opera. I've been heavily involved since I was a teenager and anytime I visit the Met here in New York is such a treat. But the most memorable moment was when my husband proposed to me after an evening of Tosca and just as I was about to tell him I was profusely starving after taking countless photos of me at the parterre (plus we hadn't had dinner yet and it was a late show) he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Definitely one of those nights for the books. 

6. On a particularly early morning, I got off at Grand Central and started to head to work before I was stopped by a production company telling me I couldn't go anywhere as they were in the middle of shooting a scene for a movie. When they told me it'd be about twenty minutes before I could pass, I decided to book it in hopes that no one would notice tiny ole' me. As I started to look back thinking I was in the clear I smacked directly into a rather tall gentleman, who turned out to be Will Smith, who was shooting I am Legend at the time. He was very kind and no damage done because I managed to make it to work on time that day! One of the coolest celebrities I've ever crossed paths with. 


7. In 2012, I lost my dad to a massive heart attack. I was crushed. About six months after, my husband and I decided on adopting a dog together but every shelter we went to didn't have any puppies. And as a first-time dog owner, I really thought it was best to raise the pup from the beginning. After countless disappointing visits, my husband decided to take us out on a day trip to a German Shepherd breeder "just to look" at puppies, given that this has always been my favorite breed. My father and I have always had a connection to these type of dogs. And this is where we met MaQ and brought him home with us on the very same day! It's probably my favorite memory in the past ten years. I literally cried tears of joy on the way home, it was the happiest moment ever.

8. Through Air BnB, I found an amazing cottage upstate in the Catskills where in between moving apartments in the city, we sought refuge up there, where there was a ravine adjacent to the house that would lead you to a sinking swimming hole. The water was so clear (and freaking cold) but our visit was well spent. I think my favorite memory from being up there was our last night when the power went out from a storm, and my husband and I sat out on the porch with candles and just talked all night, taking photographs and playing with the pup. It was perfect and so simple. 

9. It took up to five years to have my debut novel traditionally published, but after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I will always cherish that moment of holding the first copy of the paperback in my hands. I spent four years writing it (with three jobs, a social life and then some) and another year getting countless rejections before anything happened. So it just goes to show that if you really want something bad enough, you better be willing to work your ass off for it and you better be PATIENT.

10. After about a ten-year career in figure skating (20+ if you count in the training), I gave it all up to start a new career in digital media and entered the Wild Wild West world of blogging. I remember that fleeting moment when I made that decision and thought, "Oh my gosh, was this stupid? Did I just make a huge mistake doing this?" Sure, it was really tough to walk away from skating - it was something I truly loved, but staying comfortable wasn't my idea of learning and in return, growing into becoming a stronger and better person. So the memory of jumping off that cliff so to speak will never fade. Sure, at first I was scared but any act of courage will bring out something good. I promise. It wasn't that long ago when I started out and thought, "I'll never work with a brand like so and so", or, "an opportunity like that will never happen to me" and here I am now working with global brands and am being presented insane opportunities I never even dreamed of!


11. During my second season at NYFW, I got photographed by street photographers over a vibrant green apple bag. It was such a frenzy that I literally lost my goody bag from one of the shows in midst of the commotion! But in return, I was featured in WWD and Getty Images. I remember a sweet colleague who sent me a DM on Instagram saying she saw me in the street style section in WWD and I was over the moon! Any fashion/style blogger knows the high of not only getting photographed but featured in an editorial magazine of that caliber.

12. Last but not least, probably one of the best highlights of my career from the past year was doing my first commercial with L'Oreal and La Roche Posay! This memory taught me so much, as it was a day to be engaging, supportive, patient, and most importantly, fun! As nervous as I was, even at times thinking, "I'm not so sure if I can do this", I did it and actually really enjoyed myself! It also taught me to always challenge myself because the best thing you can still do for yourself is to surprise yourself. 

We are capable of so much more than we think we are capable of doing and I can promise you from all the memories that have been made from the past 12 years, both good and bad, from living in New York, is this: Keep going and keep pushing. Never let someone or something try to define you. You are you and that is your power. Now go and do you! :)






Le Coq Rico – The Bistro of Beautiful Birds

This post is brought to you by Le Coq Rico, but all opinions are my own.


Happy Wednesday, everyone! Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing the wonderful downtown restaurant, Le Coq Rico. The original Le Coq Rico (The Bistro of Beautiful Birds) is located on Monmartre's Rue Lepic in Paris. Each Le Coq Rico pays tribute to responsibly raised whole-animal poultry. This restaurant is Chef Antoine Westermann's ode to the local terroir, expressed through the flavors of wild and noble birds. Westermann spent more than a year traveling across the Northeast, particularly through the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania, to meet farmers and learn their poultry raising philosophies. "Fowl is a world unto itself," noted Westermann. "The flavor and texture change depending on the region, breeder, age, and style of farming." The result of this exchange stands today as Le Coq Rico, NYC. Continue reading to learn more about my time at this attractive, chic bistro.


Renowned French chef, Antoine Westermann was just 23 years old when he became the Chef and Owner of his first restaurant. In the twenty-five years that followed, he earned three Michelin stars. Then in 2006, he made the exceedingly rare decision to ask Michelin to remove his stars so his creativity would no longer be confined by the rules and regulations of the guide. Specializing in sophisticated poultry dishes, I was more than excited to try their Tuesday's plat du jour, coq au vin. One of my favorite French dishes of all time, they certainly did the bird justice. It was the best I have ever had!


We started with lovely appetizers of deviled eggs in a bed of octopus, cabbage, and cumin salad along with a creamy mushroom soup with a confit of gizzards (YUM). For our main entrees, along with the coq au vin with egg tagliatelle, we also tried the succulent roasted chicken that is aged 120 days and is served with a side of seasonal salad. Delicious pairings of pinot grigio and pinot noir, we topped it off with dessert, their famous l'ile flotttante (Floating Island) which consists of soft meingue &  crême anglaise and three selections of ice cream: coconut lime sorbet, ginger, and vanilla ice cream. Even the espressos are spot on! A truly magnificent, fulfilling lunch! 


The service was great, very friendly staff and super helpful when it came to making a selection. I'd recommend Le Coq Rico to anyone! But if you want to avoid the holiday crowds and nightlife scene, lunch is the way to go! And sit at the chef's counter, where you are able to watch the chefs cook for you up close and personal! The only problem with that is it might have your tummy rumbling as you wait! How many of you have experience Le Coq Rico? If you haven't yet, what are you waiting for?! ;)






Favorite Place to Shoot Pool in New York City



This post is sponsored by ForRent.com but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.


Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in River City.
Why sure I'm a billiard player,
Certainly mighty proud I say
I'm always mighty proud to say it.
I consider that the hours I spend
With a cue in my hand are golden.

Though I have called the East Village, home, for the past ten and a half years, (have been living in New York City for over 11) my new stomping grounds are now Union Square. This section's unmatched diversity brings together poets, professionals, protesters, and everyone in between. Anchored by its central plaza, Union Square extends into surrounding streets filled with a mix of corporate giants and neighborhood staples. Farmer’s markets and street performers add to Union Square’s cultural significance and popular appeal. A place where I can shake off the stress and get away from the day, Amsterdam Billiards is one of my favorite hangouts in New York City, and one of the many new perks of living in Union Square. In today's post, I'll be sharing with you guys reasons why Union Square is a great section in the city to live in along with why this is my favorite pool parlor in the entire city.

Now I'm not exactly, 'the Black Widow', but I've had my fair share in shooting pool. I've been playing since I was a kid, my uncle used to have a pool table in his 'man cave' and I think that's where the interest initially sparked. For whatever reason, I find the game relaxing and enjoyable with friends. And my favorite billiard to shoot pool in in New York City is this place in Union Square, Amsterdam Billiards. It's got 25 billiards tables plus Ping-Pong, darts, foosball, full bar & food but what stands out to me are the memories of this place with the people I love. My husband, my friends - we've had some good laughs and games in this joint. So now that it's the long holiday weekend and I'm staying in town, I thought it'd be nice to go back and play on top of sharing a place I hold dear to my heart. New York has a way of doing that to you.

Another favorite place in my new neighborhood would definitely be The Strand, a landmark bookshop that carries new, used & rare books that literally stretches for 18 miles. I stop in there at least a couple of times of week, whether it's searching in the half-off bins outside or checking out the photography section for inspiration and research, it is a really amazing book store. Union Square also has two great music venues, Webster Hall and Irving Plaza. I also enjoy the Greenmarket for its fresh flowers and herbs. When I have the time, I love to pick out fish or meat to cook and experiment a new recipe with, especially during the summer alongside some squash and corn.    

Other stores I don't live without are Adorama for all my camera/photography needs, New York Costumes for props, Sephora for makeup and skincare, and Food Emporium for groceries. When going out to eat around the neighborhood, I love L'Express for French, Barn Joo for Korean, Blue Water Grill for seafood and Maison Kayser for pastries. Recent new pasta discovery in Union Square? Vapiano, where their basil pesto with pine nuts and parmesan is TO. DIE. FOR. The famous Coffeeshop is where I have a lot of my meetings midday. It's a cool people-watching place while dining al fresco. And the staff's not too bad-looking either... ;)

Living somewhere like New York City is competitive let alone expensive, but with its amazing food, entertainment, culture, beautiful sights and so much to do, the highlights sort of outweigh all of the chaos that goes on in a city such as the one I love. It's definitely not the easiest place to live, but if you keep your eye on the ball, you can set out to do a lot more than you think. What are some of your favorite sections in New York City? If you could live in any one of them, which one would you like to live in? If you're considering moving to and living in New York City, check out ForRent.Com, an apartment rental listing service where potential renters can search for professionally managed apartments. Got questions about living here? I'd love to answer! Leave them in the comments down below or you can find me on one of my social media channels! Have a wonderful start to your week and Happy Fourth of July!





Engagement Shoot – Hilja & Tom


I've known Hilja for nearly 25 years. We met as young kids at a track meet both competing in the chin-up/pull-up category. But it wasn't until six months later where we crossed paths once more  - this time at a skating rink and became inseparable. Growing up together she has always been like a sister to me and is one of my closest and dearest friends. So, when she told me was coming to New York with her fiancé, Tom, I wanted to do an engagement shoot as their wedding present.

While growing up in Detroit like myself, Hilja met Tom while in grade school. But a romance didn't brew until way later when they reconnected as adults. I'm a firm believer in all the twists & turns that life will lead you to, like moments such as this, where sometimes you don't even know what's been under your nose the entire time. Love ain't easy and I think one has to go through a lot in order to know who and what they want. And with these two, I haven't seen such a happy couple in so many years.

One of the reasons for their visit to New York was for Tom's birthday and part of his gift was a trip to Madison Square Garden to watch his favorite college basketball team, Duke, play. And being that they are both from the Motor City, I wanted to embody their laid-back but gritty attitude. So the first part of the shoot, I took them to Alphabet City and shot in an empty basketball court. This was an easy-breezy moment before the second part of the photo shoot.

I was adamant in shooting part of their engagement series on Top of the Rock during their visit here in New York around the holidays. But on that particular day, there was so much fog there was literally zero visibility. The staff even forewarned us – suggesting we exchange our tickets to another day. My stubborn streak never ceases to shine through and because it was the last day of their visit, I pushed for it anyway. 

"Maybe we'll get lucky," I thought. 

Going up I had anxiety. You can't control Mother Nature and I was concerned we may be going up but with no NYC skyline. However, when shooting you got to go with the flow. As we started to warm up for our shoot and ease into our environment, the clouds parted and a beautiful incandescent light emerged from above. Much like the weather, you cannot control love and all that comes with it. A definite blessing from the universe. What a day. Are you a believer in spiritual energies as such?

Hilja and Tom will be married In Michigan come this fall. I feel so honored to be a part of her wedding and for our friendship. Life has thrown us many curveballs (even really bad airballs if you will) but we have been there for each other through the thick and thin. Seeing her full of life and joy brings me much happiness. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for all of us! To many more years of love & laughter, adventures and more. I love you guys!

P.S. Want to see more lovey-dovey couple photos? Click here.  





Source: http://www.suzannespiegoski.com/love/

Rhapsody in Blue - Happy 1 Year Blogiversary


photos by Gilles Decamps / videography by Gilles Decamps & Suzanne Spiegoski / edit by Suzanne Spiegoski 

Happy 1 Year Blogiversary to MaQ + Suz! What an incredible year it's been, I had to celebrate! Check out my 'Rhapsody in Blue' video for the occasion! Thank you so much for your constant love & support, I couldn't have done this without you guys! Cheers!

Exactly one year ago today, I created and launched my lifestyle blog, MaQ + Suz! I've come a long way throughout this crazy embarkment of a journey. To learn is to grow and I'm so lucky to be able to do what I love in the process. Never did I imagine I could roll all my passions into one whole and have that actually be plausible. It's kind of like New York in that way. It doesn't make any sense as to how it works, but it does. In every way possible. 

There were some highs and lows; challenging at times, yes - but I've always enjoyed biting off more than I can chew. I'm a true believer in the power of intention. If you set your mind to something, you can make anything happen. You just really have to believe in it, more importantly, you must believe in yourself. I've worked very hard to get to where I am today and I couldn't have kept on going without you guys! Your daily words of encouragement remind me why I do what I do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your constant love and support. I'm left completely inspired and incredibly humbled by all the experiences, friendships, and lessons from this year. I've truly made some wonderful, empowering connections - both new and old.

And it's all because I decided to take a leap of faith. I never wanted an ordinary life or even a glamorous one, and I most certainly have never played it safe. I'm living the life I've always imagined, open and free. This year was also highlighted on stepping out of comfort zones. Without MaQ + Suz, I would not be where I am right now, both professionally and personally, and for that, I'm eternally grateful. It's been one wild ride and I can't wait to see what year two will bring! 

In light of this occasion, I'll be doing a 1-Year Blogiversary Giveaway on my Instagram! Keep your eyes peeled in the next coming days! I can't wait to share! Lastly, I've got some upcoming stories I'm so excited to share with you! MaQ + Suz will be posting another interview feature with a New York actress and dear friend [photos too (by moi) ;)] and an overdue recipe I'm dying to show you! Coming soon, so stay tuned! Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch our Blogiversary - celebration video! :)