Lens on February 2019

Another month down, lots of relaxing in the apartment after our trip to Miami, and lots more great books read, and unfortunately a Low Buy fail. I still feel like I’ve been hibernating and taking it easy this long winter – I’m not complaining!

Restaurants

A few new-to-me places in the neighborhood and favorites beyond… I’ll start the reviews uptown and work my way down.

Cassava House (East Harlem) – a cute coffee shop in our neighborhood with really reasonably priced food and drink. It opened within the past two years and I hope they stay!

Cappuccino and a cream-filled croissant

UGC Eats (East Harlem) – another cute coffee shop in the neighborhood, where did they all come from? Great service and eclectic garden-focused decor.

Delicious quiche at Harlem Coffee

Harlem Coffee (Central Harlem) – a bit further west, this industrial but still somehow cozy cafe. I had a great muchroom quiche there.

Serra by Birreria at Eataly (Flatiron) – I’ve wandered the halls of Eataly before but have never dined there. I had a delicious warm alcoholic beverage there which was perfect as I was trying to get over a cough. This rooftop restaurant and bar was decorated beautifully for the winter season!

Salmon, a side of greens, lemon potatoes, sardines and a plate of mostly eaten bread at Taverna Kyklades. YUM.

Taverna Kyklades (East Village) – this is our favorite date night spot. Their salmon is the best, with a side of lemon potatoes! *chef’s kiss* And they serve a little complimentary dessert. Excellent service and reasonable prices and nice relaxed atmosphere.

Champion Pizza (Nolita) – An excellent choice for a quick bite of pizza at a good price and with friendly service.

Events

Again, due to cold weather, I didn’t visit any new parks in New York, but here’s a lovely photo of a frozen pond in Central Park!

Frozen Central Park

However, my husband and I spent a wonderful, warm week in Miami where we ate a lot, visited some gardens, wandered the neighborhoods and soaked up the sun.

Books

I didn’t think I’d read as much this year as last, but I’ve been plowing along at about the same rate. This month: a mix of fiction and nonfiction, with lots of inspiration.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas – A heartbreaking read of a teenaged girl who witnesses a friend die after getting shot by police. This was a heavy but very important read. While trying to stay true to her neighborhood but also fit in at her mostly white prep school, Starr Carter toes the line carefully while things heat up, but finally finds her voice. I read Becoming (below) shortly after and I could see someone like Starr becoming someone like Mrs. Obama, given her inner strength. I really would love to see the movie.

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Tell the Machine Goodnight, Katie Williams – one of my favorites of the year so far! My friend recommended this and I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s been compared to Black Mirror in a sense that it shows what damage technology can do and what is the real purpose of it all? Should we strive for happiness? With a cast of memorable characters and some harrowing scenes that stick with you, this book is definitely food for thought.

How to Not Always Be Working, Marlee Grace – A short manifesto with plenty of work pages, but not meant for me with my full time office job that has clear delineations. It’s something I’d come back to if my situation were to change but I recommend it for anyone with a ‘nontraditional’ career.

Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith (Audio book) – J.K. Rowling’s mystery novel, the first of a series written under a pen name, was a fun whirlwind! My brother especially recommended the audio book and I’m glad I listened to him (and to the audio book). I don’t often read detective novels / mysteries so this was a fun diversion.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming, Michelle Obama – I finally got my paws on the former First Lady’s memoir, and while it was slow going at times, a rewarding and inspiring read. I definitely was more interested in her experience in the White House, trying to make an impact but also making sure her daughters grew up well rounded and protected.

How to Break Up With Your Phone, Catherine Price – I realized, especially during our trip to Miami when I had plenty of downtime, that I spend way too much time on my phone. After hearing about this book in the NYTimes, and answering yes to all her questions about how addicted I was, I grabbed it off the library shelf. So far, this little tome has been a great way to get started with my break up. I’ve taken a few action steps already and hope to keep it up.

Watching/Listening

I’ve continued to listen to some episodes from the podcasts I’ve mentioned in previous months, but have found some new-to-me ones to add to the roster.

During our trip to Miami, I found two great Miami-based podcasts to give me more context. First, I love the community oriented Planted in Miami podcast. They haven’t updated in a number of months but I’ll be ready when they do!

And secondly, La Ventanita – Miami Herald’s food writer Carlos Frías interviews chefs while eating at favorite Miami spots (and deliciously describing their plates). I listened only to the Marcus Samuelsson episode, since I’ve been to his Harlem restaurant Red Rooster. I hope to check out more episodes. It’s fun to hear people who love food talk about food and culture.

Fond memories of Miami.

Thanks to the same friend who recommended Tell the Machine Goodnight, I checked out the NYTimes podcast Still Processing, by two culture writers who I just want to hang out with! And hope to be cool enough to do so. I listened to their “Joy” episode where they talk about Marie Kondo’s process, and another about overwhelm and anxiety with today’s news and they are just very honest and it’s relatable and refreshing.

I haven’t watched much but definitely have enjoyed BBC programs The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes and World’s Busiest Cities – the Mexico City episode, both of which are now on Netflix in the US.

Low Buy Update

Confession: I broke my Low Buy this month! First, my husband and I bought a new couch – finally one that is big enough for both of us to sit on comfortably. I’ve listed our old couch for sale online, and no bites yet. Fortunately we can fit both of them in our apartment, for now.

And secondly, I purchased some new bath/beauty things that weren’t immediate replacements. I realize my issue is when I see something ‘on sale’ then I am likely to buy it, if I think it is a good deal. The reality is that things are constantly on sale and if you miss one sale, there will be another!!

Coupon win but low buy fail, plus a freebie.

My first incident was at Bath and Body Works, where I combined multiple coupons and paid $4.36 for a full size hand cream and a travel sized body wash. A great deal, but do I need them right now? No.

Then, while in Miami, we stopped at a TJ Maxx that had a great selection (I love browsing their NYC stores, but I feel like they get picked over) and I bought the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea perfume (I would like to use up one perfume that I already have before I open this), a Lavanilla Summer Vanilla Deodorant, and Biosilk coconut oil leave-in treatment. While these were not necessarily “on sale,” the prices were better than if I had bought them in another store.

And finally, towards the end of the month, a discount store in my neighborhood was selling Dove body washes for $3 each and I bought a lavender scented one. I just love lavender, especially since our trip to Seattle when we went to a lavender farm. Total I spent about $40 this month on ‘beauty’ products. I haven’t purchased any clothes or home decor such as candles so far.

Rituals Hand Lotion

Free items, however, are allowed in my Low Buy, and this month I received a Kiehl’s facial cream and a small sample of Ritual’s cherry blossom hand lotion, both from online promotions.

I’ve been slowly working through my stash, and during the month, I finished these products:

I had been saving those samples for a trip for many months so I’m glad I used them up. Overall I used up more individual items than I brought in, but in terms of ounces, I acquired much more than I could use in a month. Wish me luck for March!

How was your month? What should I get up to or into this month?

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