Lens on March 2019

Happy Spring everyone! We’re slowly clawing our way out of the winter cold with plenty of sunshine! Flowers are starting to bloom and I’m excited to give my winter coat a break for a few months.

New York City is blooming!

I had plenty of after-work commitments which meant plenty of socializing with friends! My husband and I also celebrated our wedding anniversary with a special meal. Overall a nice but full month, and I’m looking forward to April!

Restaurants

With March still too cold to spend much time outdoors, instead I went to restaurants to socialize… a LOT. I guess since I’m doing a Low Buy I could justify spending money on food. Such is the New York City life. A good mix of cafes and restaurants this month.

The Bean (Astor Place) – some friends and I met for a ‘coffee and color’, bringing our adult coloring books and chatting over some caffeinated drinks. It’s a relaxing place where you can bring your laptop and they won’t rush you out.

Bel Ami (Upper East Side) – met a friend for lunch at this cute little French cafe. It’s tucked away just off Madison and would be a convenient and tasty stop while visiting Central Park.

Sidewalk Tacos (East Harlem) – popped by here after a dance class and was not disappointed! The burrito I ordered was huge and I ate half for lunch the next day. The horchata was delicious also, and my husband enjoyed his tacos. We’ve gone back since. Great for a quick bite or to take home.

Bouchon Bakery (Columbus Circle) – located on the upper levels of the Columbus Circle mall, a standard cafe with light fare and too few tables after work hours.

Hartley’s (Clinton Hill, Brooklyn) – an Irish bar with what I assume is traditional Irish food. Very low key and good service.

The Gutter (Long Island City, Queens) – it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a bowling alley with hot dogs and drinks! Fun place to go after work with friends!

Eggs in Purgatory at Harvest on Hudson, with a passion fruit daiquiri.

Harvest on Hudson (Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester) – a lovely restaurant in walking distance of the Hastings Metro North train stop, with beautiful Hudson River views. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary there and had a delicious Sunday brunch with drinks. The service there is excellent as is the food, and it’s a beautiful setting. When the weather is warmer you can sit outside on the patio which is also delightful!

Fulton Hall (Downtown Brooklyn) – massive bar and restaurant located near public transportation! Great for groups and tasty food.

Rare View (Chelsea) – for some reason this is one of my favorite roof top bars in the city. Not pretentious and open year round with a covered awning. Decent views of the city and reasonably priced bar food (huge plate of nachos for $14!). Good for a group but could be loud in the summer.

Huevos Rancheros breakfast special, came with coffee for $10. WHAT!

Empanada Mama (Hell’s Kitchen) – a friend recommended this place which was the perfect breakfast spot to catch up with a friend on a Saturday morning. Their breakfast menu before 11am was $10 including coffee. A great deal and with a really enthusiastic friendly server!

El Cantinero (Union Square) – underwhelming and slightly overpriced Mexican near Union Square Park. The food isn’t bad but living in East Harlem, I expect better Mexican. However, the vibe was very “New York City”. I’ve heard the dancing upstairs is great but can’t vouch for it myself… Regardless, my friends and I did have a nice meal there together and shared a pitcher of Margaritas!

Tue Thai (West Village) – delicious and well priced Thai food with an amazing happy hour. Absolutely would go back!

Events

Being a tourist in my own city.

The Vessel, a new structure swarming with visitors.

My husband and I spent one sunny day walking from the West Village up to the new Hudson Yards where we promptly went shopping at Muji and Uniqlo in the new Shops. We also got to see the Vessel which is a bunch of stairs that look like a beehive.

Peacock on the path.

I went to the Central Park Zoo and couldn’t get very far in the Aviary because this peacock was blocking the path, but fortunately it was a nice day and I saw a number of other animals outside.

…such as the newly installed dinosaur at the Central Park Zoo, promoting a dinosaur safari in the Bronx Zoo.

Books

Still plugging along with my reads! Glad I’m keeping up with it, and always up for new suggestions. Please comment with any you think I’d enjoy.

Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín – Oh, Brooklyn. I loved the movie (tears at the end, read more below!) but the book wasn’t as colorful – maybe the movie brought it to life! Eilis lives at home in Ireland; her older sister Rose works and supports the family. When Eilis gets a job offer in the Big Apple, she sets sail for BK, baby, and all the glamour that NYC has to offer. There she meets Tony, a *gasp* nice Italian boy. Anyway she tries to live her best life, no matter how many hearts she breaks along the way. I still had so many questions once the book was over and I need a sequel. But like, a movie sequel, not a book sequel.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Audio) – This was a heavy book to take in. It is narrated by two girls growing up in Colombia in the 1990s. Although Chula’s family is privileged, she still sees death and destruction around her. When Chula’s mother hires Petrona to be their maid and nanny, lives intertwine in ways Chula doesn’t fully understand. Both come of age despite difficulties and tragic circumstances. While Chula’s family can start again in a new country, Petrona stays and makes the best of her circumstances. I listened to the audiobook and needed a lot of time after to process. The author wrote from her own experiences and also considerable and thorough research, so definitely worth a read if you have an interest. Looking forward to more from her!

The Minimalist Home, Josh Becker – For fans of Marie Kondo who need a step further! A lot of it read similarly to Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but definitely a more methodological approach and less emotional than Kondo’s. A good refresher for those interested in minimalist principles, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a true minimalist!!!

Watching/Listening

Mostly quality programming this month with some feel goodness.

I listened to the Starlight Book’s podcast recording of the interview with Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Hearing about her childhood, family and the detailed research she did to write the book was fascinating and makes me respect her even more!

Other thought-provoking podcasts included old episodes of the Minimalists’ “Habits“, “Anxiety“, and their interview with Cal Newport about his book Digital Minimalism, called “Digital Clutter.” Cal was also interviewed by the Mad Fientist and I think that went a little deeper so I’d check out both if that is a topic of interest.

I watched Dating Around on Netflix which was really entertaining and just made me sad about the NYC dating scene.

March also beckoned the release of Queer Eye season three, my favorite feel-good, tear jerking show. Oh did I cry during episodes 5 & 6. Thank you @jennatheace on Instagram for this tweet:

every ep of Queer Eye

bobby: your house is blue and grey now
antoni: do you like dip
tan: patterned shirt, french tuck
jonathan: literally just wash your face
karamo: FACE YOUR DEMONS

— Jenna Bradley (@jennatheace) June 19, 2018

I also re-watched Brooklyn, after finishing the book, and oh boy I have to say the movie was definitely a tear-jerker where the book lay flat.

And again revisited an old favorite, Into the Wild, where a troubled youth fatally ventures into the Alaskan wilderness. Not a spoiler if you’ve read the book ;). Krakauer’s investigative telling had long been a favorite of mine, and the movie brings the story (back) to life with engaging characters, poignant moments, beautiful scenery, and a great grungy rock soundtrack by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. What’s not to love?! Besides the main characters’ foolhardiness? When I was in college I admired his desire to leave society behind and go on an adventure; I wonder now if his efforts would have been better spent perhaps volunteering somewhere or actually working in a community garden and making an impact to improve society rather than abandoning it. Oh, to be old!

Low-Buy Update

March empties!

I’m proud of my ‘progress’ using up plenty of items this year, but you’ll see that I bought a number of new items this month on my quarterly Low Buy update.

Upcoming…

Planning some spring and summer trips, and long walks around NYC. Maybe thinking about a warm-weather NYC bucket list!

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