Tag Archives: nyc

Best Restaurants of 2015

This year I had more than my share of delicious meals.  I wish I could have given a full post to each one, but this recap will have to do.

Top New (to me) Restaurants

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El Dorado Kitchen (Sonoma) – This was an awesome spot in Sonoma Square.  It’s everything that fresh, clean California food should be, plus great service at reasonable prices.


Boathouse (Disney Springs) – Great addition to DS and fabulous outdoor dining.


Giada’s (Vegas)-  Giada’s has the best views in Vegas hands down.  The atmosphere Giada has created is incredible and I recommend the small plate options to share.

Mission Chinese – This is a really fun LES spot to share lots of different things and escape with your wallet in tact.  You can get adventurous without going too far outside your comfort zone.  Very yummy food and good drinks.

Louie’s Backyard in Key West (Key West) – A seafood lover’s dream in a relaxed atmosphere with stunning water views.

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Narcissa – Narcissa blew us away with great options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.  The carrots wellington lives up to the hype and the cocktails are not to be missed.

Marc Forgoine – Sexy atmosphere in Tribeca with inventive , modern cuisine.  Their fabulous Bell & Evans chicken was one of the best meals things I ever ate.

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Cosme – Cosme is tied for first place with the Clocktower for favorite of the year.  It is such a fresh take on Mexican and I loved the vibrant, unexpected flavors.  The corn tortillas are the best I’ve ever had.  This also made the NYTimes’ Top Restaurants of 2015 List!


The Clock TowerAgain, his was one of my favorite meals of the year.  I loved the bar scene and the young and fun the atmosphere. The food is delicious and without restraint. We ended up chatting with the couples on both sides of our table because everyone was in such a great mood.

Honorable Mentions & Places We Loved Returning to:


Great Casual Finds:

  1. Nicoletta
  2. Paulie Gee’s
  3. Mimi’s Hummus
  4. Mimi Cheng’s Dumpling
  5. Hummus and Pita Co.
  6. Fresh and Co.
  7. Torchy’s in Austin
  8. DJ’s Clam Shack (Key West)

NYC Workouts I Want to Try This Spring

Oh Spring, it’s been an elusive little devil, but hopefully it gets here soon! I’ll pretend that I didn’t see snow flurries during my run this morning!  Personally, I always feel a little more motivated to workout during the warmer months. Here are a few of the workouts that I want to try this spring:

Fhitting Room Flatiron  


Yes, it is FINALLY opened.  Discounts packages are available on Gilt to boot!

What is it?  It’s a HIIT-style workout using kettle bells, boxes, free weights and a bunch of other crazy equipment to get a kick butt cardio and strength workout.

Cost: $35 a class

Exhale Core Fusion Extreme


Again, super excited that there is now an Exhale in Flatiron!

What is it? It’s a power hour of weights, suspension training, gliders and “cardio explosions” and core work.   Sounds intense!

Cost: $38 a class.  But also on Gilt a lot!

SLT Flatiron


SLT has been expanding in the NYC metro area and now has a home in fitness-friendly Flatiron.  I reviewed SLT’s midtown location a few years ago, but I’m excited to give it another try in one of its downtown studios.

What is it? As their website says, if “cardio, strength training and pilates had a baby, it would be SLT.” It’s sort of the east coast’s answer to pilates plus, which is a very trendy west coast workout done on a pilates reformer machine.

Cost: $40 a class (yikes!). First class $20.

Refine Method 50 Minute Format


Welcome to the West Village, Refine! I love the new space!

What is it? “NYC’s Smartest Workout” is a mix of high intensity intervals and compound movements using all kinds of crazy props from boxes to pulleys to kettle bells. Thrown in the mix are a bunch of killer cardio bursts.  Refine has recently switched from their traditional hour-long class to a 50 minute format.  The idea is that if you are working out at a high intensity, quality trumps quantity and 50 minutes is plenty.

Putting this on the list is short of a cheat because I actually already tried 50 minute class at their new studio. It was as intense as every during the core workout and basically the only difference I noticed was that we didn’t do abs on the floor at the end.  I still got a good workout and knowing that I only had to get through about 40 minutes of real work meant I could really push myself.  #winning

Cost: $34 a class/ first class is buy one, get one free

Mile High Run Club


What is it? A 45 or 60 minute treadmill workout incorporating strength and  power training. The also offer outdoor runs and race prep.  MHRC says you’ll get in around 3-5 miles depending on which class you take!

Cost: $34 for an indoor class, $30 for an outdoor.

I wrote a similar post a year ago, but I only got to try two of the workouts, City Row and Studio 360, hopefully I do better this time around!

You Asked: My favorite Veggie Restaurants

I know I am posting a lot about food lately, but one of my Ask Anything questions was:

“what are good vegan restaurants in the city?”

I have posted about my favorite restaurants and healthy restaurants (mainly ones focused soley on places that cater to vegetarian and vegan preferences), but here is an updated list that includes all of my favorite vegan and vegetarian places, as well as places that have an abundance of veggie options even if they are not strictly V.  That said, restaurants in the city are typically more than willing to prepare foods to your taste and ethics, so I find that most of my favorite restaurants are not soley veggie, but have at least a few stunning veg-friendly options.

My Favorite Budget Friendly Finds:

Most of these places you can grab a meal for $12 or less, especially if you stick with specials and opt for tap water or have your Sigg in tow.  *

Taim—one of Gweynth Paltrow’s favorites.  A small, hole in the wall with a menu of delicious middle eastern salads and interesting smoothies.

Snice—best panini ever!

Bonobos—raw, vegan, affordable with a side of granola.  What’s not to love?  The coconut chai has many devotees. This picture is from Gena’s blog, clearly she’s a fan.

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Angelica Cafe—the standard for vegan restaurants.  The menu offers simply prepared foods and mouthwatering specials.  Don’t leave without trying the cornbread!

Kashkaval—probably one of my favorite spots in the city.  Simple small plates, affordable wine.  Everyone I bring becomes addicted—no joke.  Another bonus, your meat loving male friends won’t even notice there are almost no meat options on the whole menu!

Little Atlas-great for a light lunch on the run.

Atlas—a bigger version with LOTS of seemingly sinful vegan desserts

Caravan of Dreams—has both raw and cooked vegan options, an abundant salad selection, and a generous dash of cruchiness, but prices and flavor that will have you coming back for more.  Bonus: it’s where I met Gena for the first time!

Dojo’s-dirt cheap and not bad for a quick bite.  Don’t miss the carrot dressing!

7A-super cheap with a variety of vegan and vegetarian options.  Great brunch menu. My Dad is beyond obsessed with this place!

PB and Co.—the vegan option with many a gourmet twist.

Maoz Vegetarian—I just love to get the salad box and load up on pickled cabbage, gingery carrots, sauteed broccoli and cauliflower and a host of other yummy delights.  While I usually skip the falafel.  The warm, thick whole wheat pita is my favorite in the city. Of course an international fast food chain from Holland would be healthy!

Pita Grill-lots of yummy options

Benvenuto-my favorite place to toss a salad.  For around $8 you can pick 7 toppings to add to your greens!

Bamboleo—I love the steamed vegetable whole wheat burrito.  If you’re having a rough day at work, stop in for their awesome margarita lunch special.  Who says vegetarians can’t drink? Ole!

Cosmic Cantina-a little on the greasy side, but yay organic mexican

NY Dosa—cheap, cleanly prepared and startlingly famous

Baoguette—these sandwiches are becoming more and more popular—NYMag and Time Out both rave.  The sandwiches can only be described as toothsome. The new vegetarian sandwich is divine piled with all kinds of pickled vegetables and your choice of spice intensity.  This is probably my faux meat exception, but they also have a catfish available for pestarians.

Great Jones Spa and Juice Bar—huge juice selection and lots of light and energizing sammies and salads in a very zen local.

Liquiteria—my favorite juice bar.  great baked goods and some sandwich options as well.  Their norwalk pressed juice is like an IV of health into my system, but the $8.50 price tag keeps me away more than I would like!

Hummus Place—this chain has quite the following and numerous locations

Nanoosh—great hummus place with a larger menu and great soups. I wish there was one downtown!

Upscale Venues

These places are generally $20 or more for a meal, but certainly worth it on special occasions!  If you want a more frequent mini splurge, I find it helpful to order a big salad as an entree and split an appetizer and dessert or to make a meal out of appetizers and sides to keep my budget in check—as long as the appetizers aren’t fried, it’s usually a healthy option as well.  Whether you are trying to save or not, make sharing your best friend; I find there is always more than enough food and it’s fun to try a lot of courses.

Pure Food and Wine—my one and only.  I have never left this place not feeling more energized and refreshed, even when I am stuffed to the gills with the classic raw sundae!

Quintessence-I have always been impressed with the yummy raw offerings at the original nyc raw restaurant

Gobo-simple and clean

Hangawai-if you are an Asian food fan, this is your place for food and a dining experience, wear matching socks because you will have to take off your shoes.


Places I want to try

Quartino Bottega Organica



Peacefood Cafe

Free Foods NYC


Dirt Candy

Candle Cafe

Sprout Craft Cafe

Tiffin Wallah

Vegetarian Tasting at Per Se or Daniel—that won’t happen any time soon! However, I should mention that O stopped into Per Se a few weeks ago after having drinks at Clo Bar, they can meet any dietary requirements you have if you request again, gluten free, vegan, etc.

Wild Ginger


I realize there are many many places I left off the list.  I had a huge debate about Candle 79, for some reason it has never been a favorite of mine, but it is one of few upscale vegan places, so it is hard to leave it off the list.  It is Paul McCartney’s favorite restaurant for goodness sake.  So I will qualify by saying that these are just my top picks.There are places I left off the list because I am not a huge fan—Counter—but there are also just too many places to list and plenty of places I don’t even know about!  However, all of the above have my stamp of approval.  Just fyi, I am not a big fake meat or soy fan, so most of these places were selected for the beauty they bring out in whole grains and fresh produce.  However, there a host of places that provide mock meat dishes that impress even the most carnivorous. So if that is what you are looking for, places like Kate’s Joint, Village Natural and Red Bamboo are hugely popular in the city.  Just fyi, I consider ambience, service, and cost into the equation, but taste is my main concern–obvi.

A Weekend of Restaurant Reviews

Happy Presidents Day! It’s a gorgeous day in NYC to have off!  My gym  happens to closed for the annual cleaning, which provides good impetus to run outside at some point this morning!

This weekend I have the opportunity to try several new restaurants, so I thought I would share my reviews!

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on Saturday night (bullocks), so I don’t have pictures from Little Branch or Babbo, but I will search google images and do my best to describe!

Little Branch (20 Seventh Ave)

I have been wanting to try Little Branch for a while, and Saturday night I had my opportunity!  Little Branch is part of the Milk and Honey franchise, but unlike M+H, it’s fairly easy to get into.  Interestingly enough, I spent last valentine’s day at the Milk and Honey in London. Last night, we arrived a little after 8, entered an unassuming door and the junction of 7th ave and Leroy and walked down a fairly steep staircase—at least when you are wearing 4 inch heels.

While I had envisioned the old boys club, speak-easy feel with jazz filling the air, I didn’t expect it to be PACKED.  It was a young crowd in an old-school, boozy bar.  It did clear out after about 10 minutes, but when we left, there was a line out the door.  Tip: it opens at 7PM, arrive on the early side and you can avoid lines!

While the bar area was packed, there are several tables if you are willing to wait.  However, the real action happens at the bar.   Watching the bartenders craft your drink is a show in itself.  Each drink is created with no consideration taken for granted.  For the adventurous, you can order the bartender’s choice and be surprised.  Our bartender’s choice was two kinds of rum with pineapple and ginger served with a stirrer straw and lots of ice. I was kind of boring just got a glass of champagne, but I marveled at all the drinks being shaken and served around me.

Little Branch definitely made me want to try Dutch Kills, which is by the same owners but in Long Island City.  It is the same idea, but the drinks are about $4 less.


Babbo is Mario Batali’s signature restaurant in NY.  It is notorious for being tight with reservations and fairly exorbitant for italian, but also worth it for many.

I was pretty excited to try it.  I had been for a glass of wine years ago, but never had a chance to try the Batali creations that are known to melt my heart for chubby red-headed men in orange clogs  everywhere.

The restaurant is simple, but elegant.  We were ushered up a grand center staircase to the top floor, where we greeted by a gracious and gregarious waiter, who we instantly decided was fabulous.  Service is definitely what sets good restaurants apart from great ones in NYC.  The better restaurants I have been to always have several people orchestrating the meal, attentive service, lots of knowledge without pretension, and a grace and ease that creates a seamless flow to the evening from first pour of water to the last bite of dessert.

All right, on to the food.  I am so mad for not remembering my camera! But managed to find google images for almost everything!

We started with a quartino of Freisa d’Asti (red wine)and the Winter Vegetable Salad with Goat’s Milk Ricotta and Pumpkin Seed Oil.

It was very yummy, small but intensely flavorful. The mix had potatoes, squashes, and micro greens and was topped with a piece of crostini with warm ricotta and lightly dressed with pumpkin seed oil and a divine balsamic reduction.

Between courses we received a crostini with marinated chickpeas.  They were covered in herbs and had a nice kick to them.

We decided to create our own pasta tasting menu and split four pastas.   Yes, we order 4 entrees.  It was a bit ridiculous, but Babbo reservations are hard to come by.  I was pretty happy that I had managed to eat lightly, but sensibly throughout the day, so that by our 9PM reservation, I was hungry, but not hangry.

First up was the dish I had been most curious about:

Pumpkin “Lune” with Sage and Amaretti (recipe here)

It was pumkin ravioli with sage and then a grating of amaretti cookie done tableside. It was very sweet, but yet hearty in a savory way.  I very much enjoyed the small serving, but do not know if I would have wanted a full plate of such a sweet pasta.  That being said, the ravioli portion was much smaller than the other pasta, obviously with that in mind.

Next we tried the

Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles

I hadn’t been paying enough attention when we were deciding on dishes because otherwise I would have noticed this had red meat in it.

However, I somehow missed this, and was surprised when a large plate of black spaghetti adorned with a bit pile of chopped meat was set in front of me.  It was fortunate that it was pretty easy to remove the said meat pile from the top and enjoy the pasta and shrimp.  I definitely consumed a bit of bacon here and there, but I wasn’t about to make a scene and I made 2-3 meat exceptions a year, so this will be one of them. I am glad I did because that was actually my favorite pasta of the night.  The spaghetti was so rich and grainy, almost like soba noodles, it was delicious.  So delicious in fact that I forgot to save room for the remaining two dishes and nearly cleaned my plate.

Next up was the second dish I chose:

Spaghettini with Spicy Budding Chives and a One Pound Lobster


This was a simple dish.  Cleanly prepared with a subtle marinara sauce.  The lobster was sweet but ever so slightly overcooked.  I ate the lobster but left the pasta because I was stuffed by this point.

The final dish I hadn’t planned on trying as it was

Chianti Stained Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu

I was assured it was phenomenal, but most of it was taken home because sharing 3 plates of pasta is no easy feat, let alone four.

And yet we weren’t done.  Our waiter had recommended the special of brussels sprouts, and B sprouts have always been one of my very favorite foods.  Growing up my brother and I would fight for the last of the brussels sprouts. However, I literally couldn’t even try one without popping a seam in my dress, so we took them to go.

The evening ended most deliciously.  While we passed on dessert, we appreciated the small plate of meringues and biscotti arrived with our check. Next time, I will have to save room!

On a side note, we were fascinated by the soundtrack at Babbo.  We listened to Nirvana and the entire Phoenix album!

Brunch at Cookshop

Somehow my appetite had returned by 12:30 on Sunday, and I was excited to try brunch at a new place: Cookshop.   I had walked by it on the way to Chelsea Piers a few times and found myself intrigued by the understated ambiance and the seasonally, locally inspired menu.  The menu changes very frequently, so the menu online was very different than the menu yesterday, but delicious options abounded nonetheless.

The brunch was hopping, but I had a reservation and we were seated immediately.  While there were several things I considered ordering, a lighter meal was in order and I decided on the (and I had my camera!)

Mixed Grain Porridge with almonds, golden raisins and brown sugarvday 002

and a seasonal fruit salad

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Delicious, it may have been the best grapefruit I have ever had.

I also got to taste something that was hard to resist ordering myself:

Semolina Raisin French Toast with vanilla mascarpone, poached pears and almonds.vday 001

I often find french toast far too eggy, but this was sweet and delicious! If you are a french toast fan, you have to try this one!

Another thing I loved about Cookshop was that the coffee can with steamed milk on the side.  I hate when milk makes my coffee cold!

I definitely like Cookshop more than Five Points, which is by the same owner.  Although it is a bit of a hike, it happened to be right next to the following item on our agenda, ice skating at Chelsea Piers.

I was happy to get some informal exercise in and managed to leave the rink unscathed for the most part.

Later that night, I went to see Valentine’s Day.

I was VERY skeptical, but apparently reading bad reviews set the bar really low, and I actually enjoyed the movie for what it was.  It was not complex or thought provoking, it did not have me rolling out of my seat, but it had a few chuckles, some relateable scenes, and a very likable cast of characters. The NYTimes was right about Taylor Swift–“Country-music lovers might be happy to know that Taylor Swift makes her first and quite possibly last big-screen appearance here.” Horrendous performance, painful to watch.  What happened since SNL?  All in all, I found the movie amusing enough. Not to mention that the cast was certainly gentle on the eyes all around!  Although I did see some guys in the theater literally covering their eyes in disgust. haha


After the movie, we made one last stop for a light dinner at Barbounia.  I have passed Barbounia at least a thousand times and always take a second to glance in at the open, opulent decor.  Despite how sexy it looks and the interesting menu, I had never heard enough about it to actually commit to going.  I am glad we did because everything was great. It’s a great date place if you like greek mezze!

We just had the hummus which came with olives and the richest flatbread ever.

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And the tuna tartare which had blackened tahini, beets, cilantro and avocadovday 009

The dessert menu sounded insane, and was hard to resist, but I had no room left!  In the end I was content to sip some chamomile—my new obsession!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Long Island City Love

I am not going to lie, I fall easily, for places that is.  While I haven’t yet fallen in love with a person, I find I am a softy for countries, cities, islands, parks, mountains, bodies of water, etc.  I could probably find myself pretty happy just about anywhere.  Invite me to your town, and my romance will quickly blossom.

While clearly, I declare my love for all things NYC quite regularly on this blog, today I thought I would refine my make out session to my actual neighborhood: long island city

I moved from Manhattan to Astoria in May 2005 and moved to Long Island City in May 2008.  While there are many things I miss about living in Manhattan and Astoria, I  have embraced Long Island City with my whole heart and am happier here than I ever expected.  Initially, I had some reservations…I mean, I was pretty sold on our building, the roof deck and the gym were the most amazing  that I had ever seen in an apartment.  And the view from my bedroom ain’t bad either.night view 015

But the neighborhood was/is pretty industrial; I didn’t know anyone except my roommates, and there wasn’t even a proper grocery store or drugstore.  Luckily less than a year later, that changed and now we have a great whole foods-esque store and a duane reade right in our building, and a gorgeous park opened that runs all along the water.  I find Long Island City young and fun, but also a very meditative place to live. I can relax and have relative quiet and have sky and water.  The 7 is great when it’s great, but of course, every few months it can be a nightmare when it decides to misbehave, but you have to take that in stride. 

For as much as I love LIC, I have to say, I don’t hang out in my hood nearly as much as I should.  Or many I am just in a rut, I am certainly a repeat sushi offender at Shi and doggedly loyal to my local to my wine shop Blue  Streak, and I have had many a brunch at Cafe Henri.  At this point, I am on a first name basis with the duane reade manager and the clerks at many of the delis, but there are so many places I am dying to explore!  Over the last month or so, many new places opened or merely came to my attention for the first time.

Let’s have a look.


Testaccio.  I walked by this sexy looking trattoria many times before I found out it was a roman-style Italian restuarant that opened in late October.  I have yet to go, but the reviews from Foodista and Joey in Astoria look very promising.

El Ay Si.  A comfort food place that just opened.  While I am not into rich cuisine, the chefs have several notable places, so I at least owe it a visit.  Again reviews are decent. I walk by it everyday and it looks like a great place for a glass of wine with a cute date.

Manducatis Rustica-the sister of the famous Manducatis a bit further into LIC, the outpost is just a few blocks from me and I am embarrassed that I have yet to go.  It’s supposed to be a hidden gem serving Italian food from my beloved Napoli.  Plus, they just starting serving brunch again, swoon. Check out the raves on Foodista and LIQ City and Serious Eats


A casual country store serving breakfast, lunch and brunch.  All the food is local, naturally grown and many dishes are organic.  It looks cute, casual and cozy—like a healthy cracker barrel, lol.  Full scoop at grub street and foodista.


Penthouse 808 at RAVEL A roof top bar at a Boutique Hotel.  I meant to check it out during the summer, but apparently I am not too late.  Time Out featured Ravel in this week’s issue and apparently the roof deck is enclosed and open for the winter, replete with fireplaces. Good thing because my roof deck is closed :(

Dutch Kills  Another place I can’t believe I haven’t tried.  Owned by the mixologist masters behind Milk and Honey and Little Branch, the drinks are sure to be amazing.  I wonder what kind of scene it will be since, Milk and Honey is by referral only and Little Branch has an unmarked door, I don’t think Long Island City is cool enough to be that pretentious, but I plan to find out. NY Mag and Eater seems to think it is.


The Secret Theater  A secret to me until today.  Cyrano De Bergerac is playing now.

Queens Film Festival-this weekend!  Thanks to Joey in Astoria for calling this to my attention. 

The Chocolate Factory.  While the name indicates otherwise, this is home to dance, music, art  and theatre.

Socrates Sculpture Park.  You know it’s my fav.  Free art, yoga, pilates and film!

P. S. 1

PS 1 MoMa Known for the summer warm up series.

Noguchi Museum I haven’t been but it is well respected for its sculpture collections.

Silver Cup Studios.  Unfortunately, the home of 30 Rock and Gossip Girl does not do tours, but the website says nothing about stalking…jk  In any event, during filming seasons, you are bound to spot some shooting around town.


Yoga Room-Yoga, Pilates and Bikram Classes in a serene studio space.

City View Raquet-Remember the infamous Ramona/Jill tennis match? This is where it when down.  If you can afford it, it looks like quite the place.

Crossfit LIC.  I have reviewed this. It hurts.  In a good way. I love it.

Kayak.  Free kayak through the LIC Boathouse. weather dependent.

A big thanks to all the blogs that helped provide the information for this post–great resources for anyone living in LIC or astoria:


joey in astoria


Where for Art Thou?

Coming up tomorrow, my fitness plan for November and bloggie dates recap. :)

But for tonight, let’s talk art, shall we?  There are so many amazing exhibits on display or coming up, I feel more cultured just thinking about it!

So here is my hit list of must see art this fall/winter:

A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy
November 6, 2009, through March 14, 2010

at the gorgeous Morgan Library (entrance free on Fridays 7-9PM)

EAF 09 (Emerging Artists Fellowship 2009) at the Socrates Sculpture Park  Exhibit runs through April

Open 365 days a year 10am-sunset.  FREE

(featured below: Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain, Assisted Boardwalk, and many others)

Aaron King, Untitled, (Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain), 2009Brina Thurston Untitled, 2009 photo: Bilyana Dimitrova

David Brooks, Assisted Boardwalk, 2009, photo: Bilyana Dimitrova

Tim Burton Career Retrospective at the Moma

November 22, 2009–April 26, 2010 (Sneak peak)

Free Fridays 4-8PM

Also worthy noting, the restaurants at the MoMa are first class, ranging from the moderately priced and casual Cafe 2 to the more opulent and splurge worthy Modern. The MoMa store has some interesting gifts and you are just blocks away from Bloomies and Dylan’s Candy Bar.

Queens Museum of Art

Suggested Donation

Named the essential New York Museum.  I haven’t been but I have read about all kinds of secrets and curiosities at the this museum.  It’s noted for the panorama of NY and it’s ties to the 1939 World’s Fair.

Kandinsky at the Guggenheim

Through January 13th

Pay What You Wish: Saturdays from 5:45 pm to 7:45 pm

Nearby place to reflect with pumpkin and chocolate scone and a cup of tea: Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter 3

Financial Fitness

So this post is a little different than most of my posts, but I think financial fitness is pretty important and is one of my current focuses.

I used to be an incredible saver. I was thrifty and never spent a penny where a penny could be saved.  However, living in New York gets to you.  You see people spending money—everywhere on everything.  You start to value the convenience of shopping at the nearby overpriced grocery store rather than figure out how to lug groceries home from the cheaper store a couple miles away or from Costco, I mean it’s not exactly like city living is equipped with storage for bulk purchases.  You develop a taste for sushi and you want to have a brown rice salmon avocado roll every single night.  But most of all, you want to enjoy your time and take advantage of the city, which is why you live there after all.  You want to see the shows, go to the shi shi restaurants, shop at boutiques.  Why live in the city if you are holed up in your apartment all the time? And since apartments are on the small side, socializing gravitates outwards to bar$ and re$tuarant$.

What’s a girl to do? Here is my gentle plan for simple savings….

While I am certainly good at finding cheap entertainment and snagging fitness deals, I am not a clothes whore,  I don’t own a single designer shoe or bag, but I have to admit, I have developed a pretty embarrassing “latte factor.” I believe I stole this term from “Smart Women Finish Rich” which I highly recommend, although reading doesn’t guarantee success.  The reading was easy, it’s the action that i haven’t been able to master.  But I am going to give it a go.

I was shocked and stunned when I read about the $100 November/Thanksgiving challenge.  I literally could not believe it would be possible for anyone to spent only $100 on food for a month.  Seriously?  I could spend that in a day.  I probably typically spend $100 on food every 3-4 days.  Easy-peasy.  I know that $100 would be impossible, maybe $100 a week.  That would actually be great—taking advantage of my work meal plan more, asking people to go to cheaper restaurants, going out for coffee not wine.  To Emily—the founder and my friend—and to all those partaking in the Thanksgiving Challenge my hat is off to you and I am reading in  utter awe and fascination!

But instead, I am going to tackle my spendthrift habits in a different, but equally effective way.  By reducing my latte factor.

What is the latte factor?

It is the little everyday (or every hour) purchases you make capriciously. Coffee, gum, energy bar, bottle of water, lip balm, drugstore impulse buys, magazines, iTunes, cigarettes, 4 pm vending machine raid, etc.

Everyone has a different latte factor.  But essentially, they are things that aren’t around long, but their cost can really drain your wallet, in a sneaky and speedy way.  Unlike investing in a nice sweater, which you will have for years, you down a coffee and move on with nothing but a slight buzz to show for it.  Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes that buzz or piece of gum makes you happy in a way that makes the rest of your morning or afternoon enjoyable or at least bearable.

This trick is to cut out or down on your non-essential latte items and keep only the one or two that truly make you happy.

I took a tally of my major latte expenses and man, was it down right embarrassing.  Here is a what I could save in a given day or week

Imprudent Purchase             Cost per day             Cost per week

Bottle beverages                               $8                                $56

Coffee                                                      $2.50                          $5 (twice a week)

Gum                                                         $1.50                              $4.50  (3 times a week)

Magazines                                              $4                                  $8 (2)

Unnecessary snacks                          $4                                      $20 (average per week

Total Possible Savings:                $20                                     $93.50

Wow, that is almost $100 a week on stuff that provides minimal real enjoyment.  I mean at least eating a meal out reflects meaningful social time.  A trip, a sweater, at least there is a memory attached, I don’t have much memory of my last piece of gum!

So this is my challenge and feel free to join me!  I am going to tackle this progressively.  I am going to try and eliminate one “imprudent purchase” each week for 5 weeks (cumulatively) and keep track of my total spending and saving in these areas.  I will check in each week.

Week one challenge: cut back to only 1 bottle beverage purchase per day. Yay for the environment too!

Another great read, I highly recommend: City Chic: An Urban Girl’s Guide to Living Large on Less.  Fabulous book to help you save!

Finally, a few things I have really enjoyed compliments of my magazine obsession:

Padma Laksmi’s 15 Healthy Snacks (in the December Marie Claire).  It’s not online yet, so here are my favs:

  • orange or grapefruit sliced into rings and drizzled with honey and cinnamon (dessert, breakfast or with tea)
  • baked figs with balsamic vinegar and black pepper
  • hummus on endive with parsley
  • Cucumber spears dusted with salt and chili and lime juice

I am also loving Tim Gunn’s new Marie Claire Fashion column

Here are Tim’s Rules for Dressing for a Big Night Out

Here’s a Gunn quote, perhaps directed at me :)

Why, oh, why do people persist in dragging around luggage-size handbags to evening events? I see this with more frequency than I care to recall. What are people thinking? Do they line these behemoths with plastic in order to escape with leftovers?

All right kids, I am going to try to knock off some more school work before the big Gossip Girl OM3 episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s my one night at home this week and I will watch teen tv shows if I so please :)

PS: DJC, I hope you are enjoying Mozambique!

ENTER KATIE’s Amazing Your Choice Giveaway–magic bullets, spiralizers, oh my!

A lotta random

I have to say, last week flew by! I can’t believe it’s the weekend.  I am working tomorrow, so I have a lot I would like to knock off the to-do list tomorrow.  Blogging was one of the more fun things, so that was moved to the top section of the list :)

This post is kind of mishmash of different things that didn’t really fit into one theme.

Let’s start with something fun, Skinny Girl Margaritas. A few weeks ago, I received an email about Bethenny Frankel doing a signing of her new Skinny Girl Margarita at Astor Wines.  I happen to work a few blocks from there and it came with a free t-shirt, so I was sold.  Unfortunately, I had a few meetings I couldn’t miss at the 4PM start time.  So I enlisted Margarita Liz to help me out.  Actually she volunteered, even though she doesn’t give a hoot about Bethenny, she is just that awesome.  It ended up that my meeting ended a little early, and I rushed over just a little after 4.  There was Liz, 5th in line, with Skinny Girl Margarita in hand.  I love her.  I traded places, so she could get back to work and continued to wait wondering why we weren’t being let inside.  It was cold out!  blog 003    

Apparently, Bethenny was running late, but they finally let us inside to wait.  We had to chat it up with the liquor guy. I was probably the only NYC person in the room, everyone else was from Alabama or somewhere and couldn’t stop talking about their hotels in Times Square and how much walking they had done that day.  God bless, that was me not too long ago.  Anyways, while I have not drank tequila in years, I am not sure I intend to ever again, the ingredients in the Skinnygirl Margarita could not be more natural: blue agave clear tequila and agave nectar. Oh, and it only cost like $13.

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Anyways, Bethenny rushed in and Alex McCord stopped by to offer some support.  Let me just say, my mouth dropped to the floor when I say these women in person.  Skinny doesn’t begin to describe them.  They are SO RIDICULOUSLY THIN. I mean model thin and then some.  Bethenny’s waist is maybe 20 inches.  Just an observation, and no judgment, power to them.  But man, TV does add pounds.

Bethenny was exactly the same as she is on the show. Funny, sarcastic, perfectionist.  Not only that she was extremely personable and intelligent.  In just the few minutes she interacted with each person, she took the time to grab a common thread and make you feel like she was happy to meet you and appreciated your support.  I happened to mention that I grew in Saratoga, where she also spent a lot of time, and she asked me about 3 or 4 restaurants and how I ended up in the city.  The t-shirt is really cute and super soft, but I can’t imagine wearing a shirt that says skinny girl, maybe to bed. :)blog 001blog 002

I actually didn’t look at my bottle until days later, but somehow she even caught my name, which I thought was pretty incredible. In any case, it was an eventful way to spend my lunch hour.

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New Scenes

So I tend to go to my favorite places over and over.  But this week, I actually tried some good new city bars and restaurants.  8th Street Wine Cellar. Cute, affordable, not too loud or crowded.  It would actually be great for a first date because it is on the romantic, intimate side, but not too sexy, there is a hint of masculinity.  The menu has a lot of good options, and the food was good, but not great. I had the butternut squash and goat cheese brushetta and the beet and goat cheese salad.  While Bar Jamon, which has the best beet salad in existence, is still my fav wine bar, 8th Street is a good alternative, if your not ready for super intimate.

Next up, Paladar.  A cuban place in the lower east side.  It was more spacious, than my typically cuban go-to Cafe Habana. The menu was very good and the food clean, light, spicy and delicious—I had a butternut squash and walnut salad and two tiny swordfish tacos with avocado and mango salad.  The portions were modest, which was actually nice, so you could try a few things without feeling stuffed. I am not a huge cuban fan, but definitely fun once in a while.

Finally, I ended the night at Sunita. It was shockingly empty for such a sexy little space.  I typically don’t drink martinis, but I was convinced that I had to try one. So I debated between a ginger, lime, lychee and vodka martini and a passionfruit martini and went with the passionfruit.  I also had a sip of the signature passion fruit jalapeño vodka martini. It was good, but I am not sure I would want a full glass of it! 

While we are talking city, I am kind of in love with these MUJI city in a bag kits!  So cute!

City in a Bag - New YorkCity in a Bag - London

Injury update:

I had my final appointment with Dr. MetzDreamy yesterday—high fives and all.  He cleared my to run the marthon and told me it would rock my world and I would love every second.  In fact, his only concern was my lack of enthusiasm.  I am pretty sure he would run the NYC marathon every day if he could.  I guess, I need to accept that a lot of runners deal with pain and discomfort, and it is not going to kill me.  His confidence and enthusiasm was definitely beneficial.  He also suggested I get not only a pedicure (lol) , but also a MELT treatment next door to help ease the plantar’s fascilitas, but I just didn’t have the money to drop.  The appointments, bandages, insoles, etc. have been expensive, so I am going to see if I can get a golf and tennis ball to help roll the tissue out a bit.  I am nervous and sad that all the weird pain I have been feeling might take away from the experience.  But I am not looking back now, I have the option of deferring until 10/28, but I am going to hope “the course is with me.”

Tapering Update:

So my actually running schedule called for a 10-K today or 6.2 miles, which is weird since almost everyone else does 13 miles two weeks out.  I did an easy 4.3 miles over the 59th Street Bridge and down to Grand Central this morning.  I saw at least 100 Nike Town runners on the bridge, preparing for race day.  I plan to do the 10K tonight on the treadmill and push myself a bit more toward faster pacing.  I was hoping to get to a hot vinyasa class at the Yoga Room today, but I am probably going to just do a little online class to loosen up a bit.  Just couldn’t get it together for the 130 class, on the bright side, I have done laundry, sheets and pulled all my sundresses out of the closet to make room for sweaters, so I haven’t been completely unproductive, especially considering I had a glass of wine and a martini last night :). 


Have the best marathon ever CHANDRA!  We love you! And don’t forget to partake in some shenanigans along the way!

Fall In Love with New York

***Just realized this can really be added to my Fit Recessionista series, all of the ideas will are targeted toward affordable health and fitness for fall!**

Most people say fall is their favorite season.  I am not one of those people, but I definitely understand appreciate for crisp, fresh air and an escape from the humidity that only Manhattan and Miami can provide. I will say that fall is a wonderful time to get in as many fun city activities as possible before the bitterness of 17 mile an hour winds howling through skyscraper tunnels makes you reluctant to go outside to do anything more than get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

Fall displays the marvels of nature releasing and cleansing and preparing to rest and renew.  Even though most NYCers don’t seem to realize that they are missing the beautiful foliage offered elsewhere in the vast part of the state that doesn’t get nearly enough credit—ahem ahem, nyers are more than willing to pitch in and do their part to help create a sustainable future for the city and beyond. 

My job involves a lot of programming and event planning and this month we dedicated a week to focusing on sustainability and green living. I really feel in love with some of our activities, and I wanted to share them with you, so that you could take advantage of all the green knowledge going around on our urban archipelago. If being green is not your thing, don’t worry, I have lots of fun ideas for your too and some fitness finds as well!

Check out Design for a Living World at Cooper Hewitt Museum, which features fashion designers from all over the world using sustainably grown and harvested materials to create conservation focused designs.

Round up the gang or plan a meet up with sustainability-minded strangers at a sustainable, organic restaurant for a night full of green conversation and yummy food.  We are checking out Gusto Organics.

Get the behind the scenes scoop on bargain shopping at Whole Foods.  Whole Foods offers free “value” group tours of the store, showing shoppers where to find the best buys in the store and simple ways to economize.  I was actually wondering if people would be interested in attending if I organized a blogger bargain tour.  Takers?

Go apple picking.  Time from tree to apartment doesn’t get any shorter than if you go a pickin’ yourself.  We are heading to Stuart’s Farm, but here are 6 places that are public transportation accessible, some involve a little more effort than others. For ambitious folks here are 25 orchards that only require a day trip. Don’t forget to throw in a hayride for good measure.

Foliage Run!  We are heading to the tree lined Van Cortland Park for a fun 5K!

Green Market Tour, if you have been holding out on the Union Square Green Market, don’t miss it in its most bountiful season, it’s open M, W, F, and Saturday.

Those are just a couple ideas.  A couple practices I am trying to implement in my own life are never taking plastic bags and reducing the amount of bottles and cups I purchase. 

I also do my best to eat at the sustainable, mostly organic and locally grown dining hall.   There are many great green dining initiatives at NYU.  All of our to-go containers, cups and utensils are biodegradable. And many of the dining halls are Tray Free Zones:

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We also like to feature local produce—yum-o

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Okay for those who only do Green on St. Patrick’s Day, Time Out  New York has an excellent list of fall diversities. Here are 101 Fun Fall Ideas.

My favs from the Time Out list:

  • visiting the cloisters
  • watching the NYC marathon
  • Go to the Gugg for free
  • Checking out the Tim Burton Exhibit at the MoMa (can’t wait for that)
  • Renting a weekend cabin with friends
  • learn to knit
  • checking out the botanical gardens (never been)
  • Getting spooked in sleepy hollow cemetery
  • Brooklyn Brewery Tour—never been heard only great things

If I had to create my own list, I would add:

Finally, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t break a sweat! If you are bored with your gym routine, shake it up with Time Out’s latest reviews of 50 city-based workouts!  And, even better, take advantage of TONY’s workout deals, discounts and freebies!

Great tips, great day, lots of recaps

First off thanks so much to all those who gave me great tips for staying healthy during times of crazy busyness. I will speak to how I am planning on incorporating your tips in my life over the next weeks at the end of the post.

Oh, I have gotten some amazing emails and questions this week, and I will definitely respond with thoughtful, researched emails soon.  Thanks so much, they make my day.

Okay lots of recaps to do!


Compared to my first experience, this was at least three times as hard.  I mean, I made it and I could actually walk and use my arms today, but WOW like night and day.  Is it addicting in the same way Physique 57 was? Not in the same instantaneous, obsession type of way, but definitely in the is fun, challenging, yet enjoyable kind of way.  Crossfit definitely pushes me harder than I could push myself.

So here was the workout.

Warm Up:

a few minutes of jumping rope

3 sets of 10-15 reps

  • squats holding pbc bar overhead—way harder than normal squats because of the intense arm work
  • samuri lunges
  • sit ups on this crazy machine in the arm
  • back extensions on the crazy machine in the air
  • pull ups—I use this cool green band to help me—5 was plenty
  • dips on rings or push ups

I only made it through two sets before it was time to move on.  It took a while to learn how to use the equipment. I think I am forgetting one exercise also.


Handstands.  We did a bunch of handstand drills.  Starting with a crazy boat sit up and moving on to forward rolls than body rolls with arms and legs off the ground.  I was actually totally cool with this part of the class, reminded me of my long gone gymnastic days.  But rolling down the mat after sweat drenched people took a little bit of inner strength to muster the courage. I definitely rolled through the sweat of strangers.

The we moved on to hand stands and hand stand roll outs, easy peasy.


5 sets of

  1. walking lunges holding a weight over head.  (weights ranged from 10-45 lbs.  I used 10)
  2. 12-21 burpees.  squat, jump feet out, do one full push up, jump feet in, jump into the air and clap overhead.  ( i did 12)
  3. A picture of our class below


It was pretty crazy, everytime I got halfway across the room, my legs want to scream at me.  And let’s not even talk about the burpees, although they actually got easier by the later sets…no idea why.

Cool down stretches.

I definitely want to go again while i still have my comp week!

Beam Green

Basically all I want to say about Beam Green is that I got to chat with a bunch of fab bloggers! Gena, Dori, Diana, Missy, Leslie, Sarah, Vani, Danielle and Olga

As always, I got some great swag.

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While I am not much into diet books, Naturally Thin being a curiosity exception, I am looking forward to settling down with the China Study, since it is pretty classic.  I also received a copy of Thrive in the mail on Wednesday, which I am excited to read because Brendan Brazier is really fing cool. We also got copies of the Kabbalah on GreenI can not believe I own this book–lol. Plus the typical awesome info packed newsletter.  While I am sad that it is the last Beam Green, I am glad Mary inspired us to create our own monthly social.  I love the prospect of fun city events and trying great new health restaurants or having our own potlucks—there are endless possibilities.

I also treated myself to a cute new dress on a total whim. I passed Variazioni on the last 8 minutes of my lunch hour, stopped in, saw this dress, tried it on, bought it and was out the door. I am excited that it will work from summer to fall.

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First day on the new job!  While I try not to talk to much about work for many reasons, seeing as it is a very exciting part of my life right now and 90% of my waking hours. I will just share a bit of my new gig and then do my best to keep my professional life off the WWW lol.

So I am not working in Student Affairs, and it is so my style.  I love it already.  My job is basically team building, community development and student support.  I love interacting with enthusiastic, energetic people and having so much room for creativity, and the ability to lead fun programs and trainings. Plus, my office has craft supplies, every office should have craft supplies.  Today was my first of 14 or so 13+ hour days, and I have to say it wasn’t as tiring as I expected.  Although I can not consume as much caffeine as I did today going forward!

While the next few weeks will be long, I can hardly wait for some of the excited activities we have planned.  I thought I would share since they would be fun for any New Yorker, visitor and NYC curious.  On the schedule: film at the classic Angelica Theater, trip to the US OPEN, visit to the HIGHLINE, dumpling making class, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and Grimaldis Pizza, ice cream social at Yogurtland, chinatown dim sum brunch! There are actually quite a few more, and I obviously have work that it is a bit more substantive as well!

Thanks again for all the great tips—if you haven’t let one yet, please do!  I definitely need to drink way more water :), which is actually more energizing than all my caffeine crack.  :( Many of you mentioned just taking 10-15 minutes to decompress and relax, I think I will do that on the subway.  I don’t really have free time for meals, since we always eat together, but I will sneak those moments of zen in where I can.  Also thanks for all the great healthy snack suggestions! I am going to try to always have some cut up veggies, fresh fruit and healthy snack bars in my bag, so I have a back up plan/supplemental eats when there are no healthy options or no veggies available at meals.  Like ya’’ll said, be prepared.

Since every lunch, dinner and most breakfasts will be provided over the next few weeks, I won’t be doing much cooking.  I must admit, I do find making the best choice when there are lots of tempting options to be a  bit of a challenge!  But typically I find that there is at least one healthy choice available that looks yummy! Although, I actually laughed when I put my green juice in the fridge this morning, and the only other items were cake and girl scout cookies.  Oh, and a counter full on candy, rice krispie treats, twizzlers, chips and freeze pops lol! But hey, to each his own, I don’t want to be judged for my carrot sticks and I am not ashamed to admit I love me a rice krispie treat!

Overall I am not worried, as you all said, and I agree, I just have to keep in mind that making healthy choices is the best way to keep my energy levels up and feel my best.  Of course, occasional treats are fine too, as long as the bulk is pretty healthy.

In hindsight, tonight balanced a healthy main course with indulgent dessert!

I order the papaya salad and summer rolls from Baoguette.  Really really good. And then we ended tonight with some staff bonding at Momofuku Milk Bar.  Milk Bar is one of those places NYMAG will not stop talking about!  So I was very curious.  We ordered four desserts to split, the cornflake softserve (which tastes EXACTLY like cornflakes and milk, seriously, it’s uncanny), the crack pie, compost cookies, and dulce de leche cake.  I have to say, from the line out the door, I was expecting to be blown away.  Milk bar gets ridiculous points for creativity, everything on the menu sounded completely unique, yet delicious. IMO when it came to taste,  the desserts weren’t over the top amazing.  I had a few bites of each, and that was more than enough. The crack pie was quite delish, but everything was a bit too sweet…and I LOVE sweet!  It was a fun place to try, and clearly very popular, but it’s not my first choice for a sweet treat.

And the final tip, echoed by many, get enough SLEEP! And with that, I am off to bed, tomorrow is a workday after all.

I am going to try to do a short run tomorrow am, and a long run on Sunday, since we don’t have to be in until 11am.

Oh, and just as a reminder, on Monday I will be announcing an awesome giveaway, if I can wait that long!