Lens on December 2018

The last month of the year is always a bit hectic, but was also filled with lots of family, food and fun city happenings.


Some new highlights this month around the city.

Enchiladas at Cafe Ollin.

Cafe Ollin (East Harlem) – Our new favorite Mexican place in the neighborhood! This low-key and low-priced eatery is welcoming and delicious. Be prepared to wait at peak times, but on weeknights food is served quickly.

Sage (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) – Tasty Thai food in a beautiful setting.

Fortunato Brothers (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) – classic Italian bakery not too far from Sage, with all my favorite cookies from my childhood including RAINBOW COOKIES!

Delicious yaroa, which they made without meat for me.

Mocano Juice Bar and Grill (East Tremont, Bronx) – Needed a quick lunch while offsite for work, and stopped by this seemingly new place which had a great yaroa.

Madame Vo (East Village) – Trendy Vietnamese restaurant. Make a reservation if you want a table. We sat along the counter which was fine but a little tight. My noodle dish was so large I had leftovers, and my colleagues said it smelled delicious.

At Nine (Hell’s Kitchen) – a decent Thai spot to try before catching a Broadway show. I had the pineapple fried rice which was pretty good.

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Cactus fries at Cascalote.

Cascalote (East Harlem) – Upscale Mexican restaurant not too far from Ollin, with a much more romantic atmosphere and full bar. Great happy hour prices for mixed drinks.

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Churros for dessert at Boqueria with a thick chocolate dipping sauce.

Boqueria (Upper East Side) – Spanish tapas restaurant and bar with lots of options.


The cold weather has kept me indoors, although I did scope out some holiday decorations.

The Christmas tree under the Washington Square Park arch.

Washington Square Park – the holiday tree right under the arch is beautiful during daytime and at night.

Madison Square Park – the fountain in the middle of the park was decorated for the holiday season.


Annual events and checking out new spaces in Harlem!

Local Roots – This CSA (community supported agriculture – a farm share subscription organization) had a pop-up intro event in Brooklyn where guests could sample produce and purchase a starter kit without a commitment. I am not looking to subscribe to a CSA at this time but it was a good idea for an event to get new people interested. However, it does seem like a nice CSA with multiple convenient pickup locations here in the city.

A little blurry, but you can see the fancy duck with his normal friends.

The Mandarin Duck – this colorful birdie has taken New York by storm and visitors are ‘flocking’ to Central Park to spot even a glimpse. After walking around the Pond a few different times I finally saw him with his birdie friends.

Carnegie Hall – One of my friends’ choirs was performing at Carnegie Hall so my husband and I went to see her! It was very fun to be in this gorgeous theater, although the seats towards the back are pretty cramped! Next time we’ll spring for better seats.

A view of the stage from the back of the St. James Theatre.

Frozen the Musical – What fun! Thanks to my mom and stepdad for a great holiday gift. It was a real treat to see this fun musical live on Broadway – incredible sets, costumes and tech. Not to mention the singing, dancing and acting!

Beautiful detailing on a tunic at the Metropolitan Museum.

Metropolitan Museum – Stopped by twice this month – once to check out the new Jewelry exhibit which was stunning, and a second time to see a Native American art exhibition, a Polynesian art exhibition, and the Christmas tree!


I’m happy to report that I beat my goal of reading 30 books by DOUBLING that amount. Here’s what I read to finish off the year.

Rediscovering Travel by Seth Kugel.


Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious, Seth Kugel – Seth’s hilarious misadventures are what make him such a great traveler. Since I don’t have any big trips planned as of right now it was nice to read a travel book that helped me get in the mindset.

Minimalism, Nicodemus and Joshua Fields-Milburn – a basic book on Minimalism, if you are not familiar with their blog posts or other online presence check it out. Otherwise it’s nothing from them I haven’t read.

New Slow City and Minimalism.

New Slow City, William Powers – a love/hate story for NYC. Will and his wife try to live a ‘slow year’ in the city in a micro apartment in Chelsea. He spends a lot of time in Parks. An interesting treatise.

The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan – four women share stories about their lives in China and as immigrants or second generation individuals in the states. I was on a deadline to return this to the library in order to avoid late fees, so I think I need to read this a second time to get the full impact.

The Black Penguin, Andrew Evans – Evans plans a trip to Antarctica from Washington D.C., by bus, tweeting along the way. He slowly makes his way south, reminiscing on his past and coming to terms with himself and his life through the story. It was a fun read with lots of mishaps and triumphs.


Still figuring out which Podcasts to subscribe to… open to recommendations!

This month I listened to a few episodes of AfroPop Worldwide and some financial independence podcasts. Leave a comment with any others you think I should check out.

It’s a wrap – happy 2019 everyone!

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