Little Girl & the Big Apple


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In the Heights

GW Bridge

I haven’t taken out my camera recently, so with Sunday’s gorgeous weather and nothing on my agenda, the timing felt right. My roommate and I took a casual four-hour stroll in our neighborhood, and I photographically documented some of the sites. It was a day filled with leisurely exercise, a guacamole BLT sandwich (aka heaven), and a sunscreen-scented headband reminding me of that season called summer; what more can you ask for? Here’s a few photos of the George Washington Bridge, the little red lighthouse, Hudson View Gardens and Fort Tryon Park — in other words: our backyard.

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Entertaining in the Empire City: Jess’ go-to Guide

Happy Friday! It’s the last day of the workweek and my the last post for the Entertaining in the Empire City series. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22 excited about both!

Today’s recommendations come from my best friend and roommate, Jess. Background info: I met Jess over a decade ago – participating in a variety show for our hometown theater. I became true friends with Jess when we were hired by Retail-Giant-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to deep clean their store with steel wool and a variety of semi-toxic cleaning products. I stayed friends with her for too many reasons to list. Top of my mind reasons include: Jess can hold a conversation with anyone, she’s never afraid to ask for what she wants, and her Instagram is a carefully curated work of art. She has the voice of Beyoncé, the face of Taylor Swift ;) and she always knows what she wants for dinner. The fact that she selflessly offers sound advice and unconditional support when you need it is just added bonus. (I really just keep her around for her Instagramming abilities).

So last but not least, in her words, here is Jess’ list of her favorite New York spots to show to out-of-town visitors.

Housing Works Bookstore, Soho: This place makes you feel like a hipster Belle in a bookstore paradise with spiral staircases and hundreds of rare, new, and used books. Pair that with a non-fat latte and decent record collection for browsing. Who needs a prince anyway?

UCB Cagematch, Chelsea: It goes without saying that Amy Poehler knows what’s up. Basically everything she touches turns to genius so it’s no surprise her underground improv den is sweaty, rowdy, and a whole lot of fun. I took my dad here for a midnight Cagematch show. He came for the PBRs, but stayed for the impressive fart jokes.

Le Cheile, Washington Heights: This one is just me being selfish. This adorable Irish bar is 2 blocks from my apartment. With its local art, subway tile decor, and locally sourced brews this place gives Brooklyn a run for its money. Oh, and the GIANT grilled cheese is kind of out of this world.

Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights: If you want to blow a tourist’s mind take them to this park. It feels like you’ve been dropped inside a mythical fairy land complete with beautiful flower gardens, tangles of tree branches overhead, and castles filled to the brim with medieval art. Oh, and somehow you’re still in Manhattan.

PUNDERDOME 3000, Gowanus, Brooklyn: Alright, I’ll hand it to Brooklyn for this one. PUNDERDOME is a weirdly wonderful evening once a month where pun aficionados convene in a battle royal of wits. Don’t question it, just go. It’s a pun of fun (get it?!).

 

And that’s a wrap on Entertaining in the Empire City, folks! Anything we missed? Anything you’re dying to check out?


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Entertaining in the Empire City: Anela and Mandy’s Favorite Spots

Day three. You know the drill. These two ladies are one-of-a-kind friends, and both have such unique takes on their favorite spots in the city. I met them both at the same former job (at different times), and even both being ladies of fashion, their tastes couldn’t be more different.

Up first, Anela – who was born and raised in Long Island and bleeds Brooklyn to the tee. She’s lived all over the boroughs, recently traveled to Africa, and finds inspiration everywhere she goes and in everything she does. She’s quirky, fun, and endlessly curious. Here’s what she has to say:

Anela prefaces, “These are my all time favorite places to eat. They really have an old school vibe to them, and are very New York. I’ve gotten to know them well, and I have to say they have stolen my heart. ”

As mentioned previously, my friend Mandy is another one of the fashionistas I surround myself with on the reg. Her Cali roots have instilled her with a sense of adventure and a professional drive that never gives up. For someone who I forced to call me “Princess” for the first three weeks we were acquainted (the same name didn’t vibe well with me off the bat), I’m surprised (and delighted!) that we are as close as we are now. But more so than that, I’m grateful, because I can’t imagine my New York life without her honest, rom-com-y, positive outlook on life. Here’s a few of Mandy’s favorite places she likes to show off to visitors.


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Entertaining in the Empire City: According to Mike

Here is part deux of the series I made up introduced yesterday – Entertaining in the Empire City.

The question: “When you have visitors in NYC, what are the five places (restaurants, bars, etc.) you MUST take them?

The answerer: my pal Mike, who currently resides in LA. I had the good fortune of befriending Mike a few years ago in between folding heaps of Joe’s Jeans, color-coding sock walls and opening fitting room doors for cheap men price-conscious shoppers at a former job. Simply put, Mike’s the best. I trust his fashion sense tenfold over my own. His sarcasm and wit are constantly on point, and he’s one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Also, I think that it’s a universally accepted truth that you haven’t lived until Mike’s called you a bitch. He uses that word better than anyone I know and it’s hilarious and honest (and warranted) every single time.

Mike’s answers: I should note that he mentioned, “I had a hard time sticking to 5 places.” Here’s what made the cut:

  • The Room, Soho: Chillest bar ever.
  • The Heights Bar & Grill,  Morningside Heights: Cannot miss the happy hour on their rooftop.
  • The Sixth Ward, Lower East Side: $20 for brunch with unlimited mimosas.
  • Raines Law Room, Union Square: Really cool speakeasy. Visitors die over this place because they feel like they’re part of some exclusive New York lifestyle. *eye roll*
  • Veselka, East Village: Pierogi all day every day. OMG AND MINDY KALING LOVES IT TOO.*
  • Koronet Pizza, Morningside Heights: I don’t care what anyone says; this is the best NYC pizza place.
  • Spice (Multiple Locations): Delicious Thai food, and they’re all over Manhattan.
  • Obviously Shake Shack (Multiple locations): I love taking west coasters here.  They’ll never admit it’s better than In-N-Out, but they’ll know it’s true. Just like they won’t admit Disney World is better than Disneyland. “You just can’t compare the two,” they say.  YEAH, BECAUSE DISNEY WORLD IS THAT MUCH BETTER.

*see Mindy Kaling’s Instagram for further information.


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Entertaining in the Empire City: a la Allison

Do you live in a big city and find yourself desperate and unsure of what to do when you have to get to entertain visitors? I suppose you really don’t have to live in a big city to warrant that problem. But alas, a problem it is for many, if the random sampling I took of my friends holds true to the population at large.

Truth is, although I’ve been neglecting to update my audience here, I do tend to find myself occupied most weeknights and many weekends of the year — like you too, I am sure. But whenever I have guests coming that ask me to plan a fun weekend, my mind draws blank. My weekends in distant memory are suddenly painted in cherry red Netflix, my favorite coffee shop morphs into a Starbucks and the only activities that come to mind are Time Square, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. Like most city-dwellers, none of that generally occupies my daily life. Point is — I always struggle to come up with cute, quaint, and not mega tourist-heavy spots for my house-guests.

I wanted to curate a no-fail list of amazing restaurants, activities et al to entertain weekend visitors, if you too happen to live in the city and face this problem. However – what do I know? A lot of my weekends DO consist of Netflix. So I did what any other girl would have done – I got by with a little help from my friends. And since I have many wonderful people in my life who volunteered to help a girl out, I decided to make this into a series.

Each of these fine New York loving pals took their own unique twist on answering my question, and their picks highlighted their own experience in the city and personality to a fault. So without further ado, I begin the first entry in my Entertaining in the Empire City series.

I’ve known Allison literally since the day I moved to New York. Unbeknownst to us both at that time, we later lived with each other for about a year, and even now we still remain close since her exciting relocation to Chicago a few months back. To paint you a little picture, Allison is what you’d get if you blended Carrie Bradshaw and Elizabeth Warren in a mixer, heated in the oven for 40 minutes at 375 degrees, and then iced that to look like Jackie O. She’s powerful, classy, and unapologetically herself 24/7. It’s no surprise that her favorite New York haunts are riddled with those vibes as well. In her words, here’s her favorite locales to entertain guests:

Dive Bar: Fourfaced LiarWest Village: Best place to meet the real New Yorkers who have lived in Greenwich Village for over 30 + years, who might have a drinking problem — but that only adds to its charm.  Ironically has the best bloody mary in Manhattan (made by John the bartender).

Mob-vibe Italian: VolareGreenwich Village: If you are under 35 you will be easily the youngest person there.  Even if you don’t eat here, go in and have a Negroni to experience the place.  In a city where restaurants open and close all the time, Volare has been a West Village staple for ages and you feel like you’ve entered a time warp when you walk in.

Wasted Happy Hour: Pazza NotteMidtown West: Best bang for your buck happy hour.  2 for 1 Martinis all night, 7 days a week.  Pizza, Risotto, and truffle fries (they LOVE their truffle oil here) are amazing and are the perfect foods to keep your hangover at bay.

Best ViewPer SeHell’s Kitchen: I literally take friends and family who are visiting here because I do not want to wait in line or be part of the Empire Hotel rooftop scene. Outstanding ambiance and you can always get a seat and enjoy a martini which are great here.  They usually have a DJ so you can dance if you want.


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Beautiful Brooklyn Botanic

Hello there, and happy summer! Sorry more than a few hot seconds have passed between my last update and now… it has been a very busy couple of weeks. I have a lot I’d like to update you guys on, but I’m going to take this one post at a time. :)

My parents came to town a few weeks back, and one of my favorite places we visited was the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Not only a nice (and affordable!) escape from the “city” part of The City, but it was also an excellent excuse to break out my old (still pretty new) DSLR. Here’s a few unedited photos that I thought turned out pretty nice.

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Although Cherry Blossom season had come and gone, this place was bigger and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. If you live in NYC and haven’t been, don’t wait to use visitors as an excuse to check out this place. It’s well worth it on your own.

More updates to come, sooner rather than later. ;) But for now, happy Tuesday!

 


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On Saying Yes

There have been a number of instances over the past few months when I’ve really thought long and hard about throwing in the towel. Not on life, obviously, but very truthfully on New York. I’ve never been too shy or modest to say that this city will eat you up if you let it. And sometimes, even for the most enthusiastic of its fans (i.e. myself), surly New York can get pretty darn close to taking a big bite of your confidence. Her sharp, pearly whites are constantly chomping at the bit of your dreams. If you’re lucky, she’ll rip you up and spit you out. But preferably, she’ll swallow you whole…

But then you’re walking home from an after-work yoga class, and due to forgetting proper footwear, you have to do the 50 minute commute home in dressy boots, a long overcoat, short gym shorts and an oversized tee. You resemble what could only be described as an out-of-shape, disheveled, and just overall bad, masculine prostitute, when you run into someone on the street looking 11 shades worse, and who is very much rocking it on purpose.

Or you’re heading to a friend’s apartment after a long day to work on a project and you, like any annoying, yet serious-about-her-career New Yorker, need caffeine. You stop at the local coffee shop on the way to the E and the Barista says, “Hey, this one’s on me.” It was probably because you’re so sleep deprived you look like you could murder four puppies without blinking and he’s frightened, but you know, in a world of jerks, it’s a win.

And then you have a Monday — a figurative AND literal Monday at work — and due to a swirl of irony and happenstance, you make one of your favorite comedians laugh. A silly face, some dumb accent. It very well could have been a pity laugh, but if he felt compelled enough to fake it, at least you must have been true-to-form: awkward and hopefully, likable.

This city isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t for the half-assers, the get-embarassed-easilyers, or the try-it-once-but-then-I’m-done-ers either. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t even for the dreamers. It’s for the doers. The open-minded, hard-working, inadequate humans who fail SO much and HATE it — but aren’t afraid to keep failing. To keep improving. To keep trying. To keep saying yes. The kind of people who say “Yes” are not the kind of people who succeed in New York, but rather are the kind of people who survive here.

Maybe it’s not even specific to New York. In light of taking an improv workshop with Second City through my job and re-reading Tina Fey’ Bossypants, I feel enlightened and compelled to keep saying “Yes” to life. I haven’t finished meeting these insane and wonderful people harboring vast and unique experiences only New Yorkers can offer. I’m not over chasing my dreams. I’m not done with New York, and I don’t think New York is done with me. I have more to do here — more to experience, more to lean — and I’m excited and ready for whatever that may entail.

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Have you said “Yes” today? Or walked by someone wearing fishnets, black spandex and a cowboy hat out in public? If so, where do you live? And why?

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