Lens on January 2019

We kicked off the new year with a wonderful weekend in the Hamptons with some friends, and seeing some family, (followed by a stomach bug of some sort) but the year is getting better and better!!!

January felt very long and I feel like we were hibernating in the apartment as much as possible with the cold weather. Otherwise, I had a successful first month of a low buy year and feel confident about the months ahead.


Following a heavy food season around the holidays, my husband and I are trying to stick to just one dinner out per week by ourselves, but we can still meet friends or go to a restaurant for MeetUp events, etc.

Mother of Pearl (East Village) – a visit to this over-the-top tiki bar was a belated holiday gift to my mother and stepfather from me and my husband. We enjoyed the pu-pu platter and a few other dishes. My mother tried a funky cocktail that arrived aflame!

Huevos Rancheros at Tomatillo

Tomatillo (Dobbs Ferry, NY) – a Mexican restaurant offering locally sourced produce. I had the huevos rancheros and the two people I ate with shared two meat bowls and everyone enjoyed.

Kava Cafe (West Village) – super cute, upscale retro coffee shop near the Whitney.

Burgers of varying level of meat, dairy cheese and gluten buns.

Bareburger (Upper East Side) – my husband and I went to Bareburger to try the Impossible Burger 2.0 which is now gluten free. I ordered the Beyond Burger instead but due to a mix up in the kitchen, we both got Impossible burgers. The staff quickly fixed my husband’s order and even graciously gave us a small discount on the bill. What got off to a rocky start ended up a very nice experience. And lots of french fries. The Impossible Burger markets itself as a meat alternative that looks, tastes and feels like meat, which is why I didn’t want it – but for those who are looking for alternatives, I would recommend trying it.

Madame Vo (East Village) – trendy Vietnamese noodle place that we have now been to a few times. My husband LOVES their pho soup with short rib. I get the garlic noodles.

Harlem Shake (Central Harlem) – I love this place for the food and classic diner vibes. It’s also part of my yearly “Shakes and Shakespeare” summer outing to see a performance in Marcus Garvey Park after stuffing our faces. I ordered the veggie bean burger which is good as far as veggie burgers go, plus a chocolate ‘shortie’ shake. My friend and I split the fries.

Steamed mushroom and spinach buns

Shanghai 456 (Chinatown) – standard Chinese fare in Chinatown, great for groups to share a bunch of dishes. Cold noodles and scallion pancakes all the way!

Black Door (Chelsea) – went to this bar for a MeetUp, caught the happy hour. Nothing special. It is a bar. I don’t think they serve food so I wouldn’t go back.

Cooper’s Craft and Kitchen (Chelsea) – went to this bar for a different MeetUp, ordered the fish tacos (secret – you can get the fish tacos grilled instead of fried which is superior) and had a really lovely time with the group. It was a bit loud at the start but got a bit quieter as the night went on.


Besides the restaurant visits, it was a pretty quiet month.

Just…. so much happening here.

Whitney – part of the aforementioned holiday gift included a visit to the modern art museum, the Whitney, where we checked out the Warhol exhibit. It was pretty crowded so I found it hard to really enjoy the exhibit. I definitely liked their permanent collection more.

Classic Americana!

Bowling – went bowling at Homefield Bowl in Yonkers with some family and had a good ol’ time. Very reasonable prices (compared to prices within the five boroughs).


Averaging a book a week, similar rate to last year, although I’m not pushing myself to read too much. Also, thanks to the NYPL for access to these books!

Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams – following Nomadic Matt’s travel book recommendations from a few years back, I picked up Adams’ adventure of exploring the Inca ruins of Peru. Without any outdoor or camping experience. Led by the most epic guide. It was a bit of a long slog in the first part, but I did enjoy the picturesque descriptions of the scenery and the pace of life in Peru.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, Ruth Emmie Lang – I really wanted to like this one. Some friends had read it and usually I like magical realism, but it just didn’t do much for me. An extraordinary boy meets and changes the course of the lives of some ordinary people. With his magical powers to learn to control, as well as his heart, the protagonist stays true to himself. I think I’d like to try a future book by this author but I wouldn’t read this one again or really recommend it.

A battered library copy of Everything that Remains.

Everything that Remains, The Minimalists – I had read their other book, Minimalism, and this was more of a memoir than primer. It was interesting to see how they got on the path to minimalism and what it’s brought to their life. However I feel like I didn’t learn too many new things since I’ve been reading their blog and enjoying their podcasts.

Give a Sh*t, Ashlee Piper – if you are in the middle of your low or zero waste journey, or just need some ideas or motivation to get started, this is a great resource. I am comfortable in my level of waste but can always do better! Plastic food packaging is my enemy. I appreciated the realistic nature of this book and the good ‘wake up’ call that it gives. A great book to borrow from the library or from a friend.


The Choose FI podcast has been a really great, frequently updated, resource for Financial Independence stories and tips. I loved the previous podcast with Montana Money Adventures, some of these stories are so inspiring.

While not updated as frequently, the Mad Fientist’s Financial Independence Podcast is excellent. He had a great interview with Tony, who retired early and then realized it wasn’t the lifestyle he imagined, and went back to work. I really appreciated his candor and openness especially when discussing his mental health. A really great episode.

I really have been enjoying Tim Ferriss’ podcast, he interviews the top minds of today. I enjoyed his interviews with author of Essentialism Greg McKeown, author and thinker Seth Godin, and even a long but fun interview with Marie Kondo!

I’ve also been on a bit of a Netflix binge, having watched Season 2 of Friends from College (hilarious), Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (of course), and How to Live Mortgage Free (wild!)

Two memorable movies I watched this month were two movies that were over a decade old Persepolis, the animated version of the autobiographical graphic novel, and Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, neither of which I had seen before. The former made me think and made me cry and also made me realize how much I take for granted, and how quickly times can change under a new government regime. The latter was mostly a bloodbath (albeit a slightly entertaining one?) but I wonder how accurate any of it was and a lot of the brutality was just unnecessary.

Low Buy Update

I’ve made it through the first month of my low buy year and am happy to report I have not bought any beauty products or clothing this month. I paid for tailoring for a dress for an upcoming wedding, and for new heels on a pair of boots that I had worn out.

I used up:

  • Mini Sensodyne toothpaste – sample from dentist, did not like the flavor, and would not purchase. I will stick to the brand I use.
  • Mini Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet – this was a birthday gift from Sephora. I liked it but it isn’t worth the high price tag to actually purchase.
  • Full size Kerastase Discipline Mousse Curl Ideal – an old roommate gave this to me and I was SO thrilled and grateful!!! It smelled good, and kept the frizzies away but didn’t really make or hold curls. I also had this product for about 3 years and so it probably wasn’t as potent. Overall, I don’t think it is worth the high price tag since it wasn’t super effective.

During the month, I acquired the following FREE items:

  • 6 nail polishes from a colleague who was clearing out – if the colors don’t work for me I’ll give away. I’ve been trying to keep my nails polished, otherwise I don’t need to keep such a big stash.
  • 1 bottle of shampoo, 5 shirts and a sweater from a friend that was doing some KonMari
  • 1 large mug from an event which I have been using frequently – it holds a lot of tea!

So, while I didn’t spend any money on these items and I would say my first month was a successful one, I definitely came out with more items than I used up.

How was your January?

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