Catch ‘em All … Whilst New Yorkin’

Ah ha! So you know I love playing tour guide. I’ve been asked a bit lately about food and place recommendations – I love it! (and thank goodness for unlimited text messages.) : )   While I’m taking care of some things of my own, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.  Last week I attended one of the park movie night showings at Brooklyn Bridge Park. We quickly grabbed something from Shake Shack and watched “Singing in the Rain,” one of my favorite classics. It was such a calm, soothing night on a blanket with my husband and co-workers. Who knew that in a bustling city, you can still have a completely quiet night at the park (you wouldn’t even notice the people around you as you’re watching the film or looking at the stars). Afterwards we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (crazy!) and discovered the obsessed phenomenon over Pokemon Go, where so many people were sitting on the bridge waiting to catch Pokemon. (Guilty: I downloaded the app…. -_- )  Then the next day I just laid in bed from exhaustion.  Yup. That all sounds about right.

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Point is, there’s so much to do in the city, so I thought I would share some of the sites that I use to get the latest information or fun things to do and events to go to. Even if you are busy catching Pokemon, why not do it in style and spend time with your friends and family rather than stand awkwardly in the middle of the street gleeing over the fact that you’ve finally caught Pikachu after countless hours searching!  

Got any other sites you use? Please do share! Just click that email button right on top and bloop, sends a message.  🙂  

www.skint.com 

www.downtownny.com 

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do

http://mommypoppins.com/ (if you have kids) 

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As always, thanks for reading! xoxo  

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A Photo Documentary of NYC

Before I start my summer featured spotlight series later this month, I wanted to share with you one of the people that inspires ME in this city – Eljay Aguillo.  I came across Eljay’s Instagram (@whyilovenewyorkcity) sometime last year and started following him because just like him, I’ve grown to love New York City like no other since I moved here years ago. You hear tons of amazing (and also scary) stories about living in the different boroughs from people you already know. Now imagine broadening that even more and reading about specific moments that New Yorkers have while matching a face to it. Eljay’s project is a photo documentary about love for New York City and it’s really wonderful to read. Each story is full of heart, humor, and magic.  A couple of months ago, I felt humbled as he asked me to share my story. I didn’t think it was too special, but after I wrote it with him, it made me even more appreciative of the city. We walked over to the Seaport area to take a few photographs and there, a new friendship blossomed right out of NYC. Be sure to check out his website because you might just be inspired if you haven’t found your story yet, but even better, follow his Instagram. I promise you’ll love it!

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Another Thing to Do in NYC

I can’t say how many people I know are addicted to sites such as Groupon.  I try not to go on it because it is so easy to be tempted to buy good deals that you probably don’t even need (Ahem, a “Swarovski” crystal bracelet for $18, a two for one pizza deal, mosquito bands… ::whistles::). But sometimes there really are good things to get, especially if it’s something fun you can do with good friends!

A couple of months ago, my friend Irene and I found a Groupon for The Paint Place, a place where you can learn how to paint a specific painting taught by an instructor. It can be hard to schedule because the “great” pictures are usually booked very quickly, but we made it just in the last few spots for a Central Park painting. I was quite excited because well, for one thing, I always have an awesome time with Irene, and second, my living room has been plain for many months now so one of my summer projects is to fill my walls with art work or photography.  Here was my first project about to be completed!

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Urban Buddy: Social Food & Drink

The school year is almost over!  That means more blogging, socializing, crafting, and cooking time (I hope!!) – I’m thrilled to finally get some down time as the school year felt a little longer than usual. Got some interviews & giveaways coming up in the next 2 months, so stay connected especially on my Instagram! 🙂

Recently, I became a part of Urban Buddy, a really awesome and useful app where “buddies” or locals such as myself connect with hotel guests to give advice and recommendations in and around the city. I’ve always loved playing tour guide or taking friends and family around New York, so it was a great opportunity when I discovered them. Download the app and give it a try – you’ll be amazed at all the knowledge locals have and advice they give! You’ll also get an answer to your question within seconds.

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One of the perks of being a buddy is having an opportunity to meet some other locals at get-togethers and food tastings. Our last one was at Yotel, at the large rooftop bar and deck of Social Food & Drink. Along with the huge indoor and outdoor space, comfortable seating, and a view of the skyscrapers around the area, they also have the Rooftop Cinena Club, where you can watch movies on the deck in the summertime. Still haven’t tried it yet, but would love to one day! 

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Australian brunch @Two Hands

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Picture walking into a restaurant with whitewashed brick interior and wooden seats, greeted by a beautiful blue-eyed, handsome host with a light accent. You would think you just stepped into a cafe in Melbourne, Australia.  Well, close enough!  Two Hands, a restaurant opened by locals Giles Russell and Henry Roberts, is a glimpse of the food culture in Australia – it’s meant to serve light fresh and vegetable-focused meals. I had been waiting a while to go but I heard if you don’t go early, the wait can be a while, so one morning my husband and I went on a brunch date at 10 a.m.  We liked it so much we went back with our other friends to try something else.  It’s the perfect place for photo opportunities too because of the natural lighting that beams in. If there’s one thing that I think is a must and found to be the perfect bite that’s as close as you can get to the one in the land down under, it would be the espresso mascarpone banana bread topped with buckwheat seeds.  It’s heavenly. The strong espresso flavor mixed smoothly into mascarpone cheese balanced well with the semi-sweet banana walnut. Add a little crunch from the seeds on top and you’re set for the day.

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Gingery This, Gingery That

Did you guess what I did with the 2 pounds of ginger yet?  🙂 

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At first, I had no clue!  I was walking in the market areas of Chinatown one day and an entire stand was selling beautiful fresh ginger for $1.00 – 2 pounds!  I’m not one to ever buy ginger, but I recently was trying to eat more healthy so I figure hey, why not cook and drink more things with ginger in it? I wanted to only buy 1 piece, but the vendor stuffed my bag until it was full and said “It’s only $1.00 – take the whole bag.”  So there.  I now had an entire bag of ginger sitting in my fridge.

 I wasn’t sure what to do with them besides make hot ginger drinks, so I did some searching on my Pinterest, and found this highly rated recipe for a Ginger cake from Epicurious. The result was a super fluffy, strong ginger-tasting 9×9″ cake that stayed moist for at least 5 days!  I had taken photos, but with this kitchen and lighting, it’s just not worth posting – so instead, check out the recipe!  My only modifications were the exclusion of ground cloves and black pepper.  I also used ¾ cups of sugar instead of one cup. Hellooo, healthiness!

If you try out the recipe, let me know what you think 🙂  xoxo

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Do you know what my favorite part about blogging is?  Besides the enjoyment of expressing the mumble jumble that goes on in my head and sharing the joys of everything around me with you, it’s knowing there are readers who love to join my craziness! This has been the longest stretch of me not posting anything, but thank you so much for always checking in – you’re the best!!!  It has been a heck of a week finding out it wasn’t food poisoning that I had, each day almost feeling worse than before, but I’m much better and I’m ready to post!

Check back in on a few days – guess what I did with 2 pounds of ginger that I randomly bought for $1 (a whopping $1) in Chinatown one day? 🙂

 

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Change.

Change is never an easy thing. When I first moved to the city (coming from a more suburban background), it was hard. The noise didn’t bother me, but the crowds and the small apartment sizes did. I had a huge house and a backyard – plus I didn’t have to walk everywhere! But slowly I began to appreciate the convenience, the incredible amount of diversity, the bright lights, the subway, and the fact that I live in the center where it’s easy for everyone to meet up.

When it came to work, change was still not easy. Five years ago, I was asked to move from first grade to second grade. It didn’t scare me too much as I knew second graders were still a great fun age, but still – learning how to teach again. Then, it turned out what shocked me was how my students surprised me with techniques that I never thought I would be able to teach 7 year olds.  I never expected them to be able to look closely at details, pay attention to the way they hold their pencils/markers/pens, or set themselves with a high expectation that they can draw or write like high school students. It turned out this change was good. After 5 years of second grade and teaching them about New York City birds as part of our social studies curriculum, I’ve grown a love for this age and their love for school and growing abilities.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

To all the beautiful mothers and soon-to-be mothers, this day is for you!  Although in my opinion, mother’s day is everyday, this special Hallmark day does allow us to spoil our moms just a little bit more and get together in any way possible. I’ve found that the older I get, the harder it is to express how much I really love my mom. Now, being married, I am grateful for my mother-in-law as well.  I hope that one day, when I become a mom myself, I would be just as patient, caring, detail-oriented, and loving as they are. Moms are the biggest superheroes out there!

So a huge cheers to you moms because you have the most wonderful, yet hardest job in the world. This one’s for you! xoxo

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Paradise Island

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When I decided to book a trip to the highly anticipated Atlantis in the Bahamas, I didn’t know it was on an actual island called Paradise Island.  All I knew was that we wanted SOME beach time but also marine life and exploration. When you wake up in your hotel and look outside your window, you don’t have to wonder how this place got its name. It really feels like Paradise, except unlike other tropical places, almost the whole place is quite man-made. 

This isn’t a travel blog, but it’s always fun making lists for people to read because we’re a list-reading generation nowadays. “Must Visit Places In Your 20s,” “Top Ten Apps to Use” or “Eight Ways to Lose Your Belly Fat.”  WHAT!  So silly, yet so true. So here is my version: a list of the top 5 things we enjoyed on Paradise Island. Perhaps it’ll persuade you to visit, and if you do, please email me so I can tell you a cool way that you can save tons of money!

#1. Marine Life – Some of my friends look at me funny when we say how excited we are to see the marine life (or any nature for that matter). My husband and I can stare at an animal for hours… and we always win that staring contest. haha!  There’s just something beautiful about marine life, and in particular, dolphins and turtles always capture my heart. Unfortunately I didn’t take great photos of the dolphin but the hawksbill turtle was quite adorable.  The Atlantis aquariums have an incredible amount of marine life – they’re actually the first ones in the world to successfully breed saw sharks.  So if you want to nerd out like we did, go for it. I promise you’ll enjoy the waves.

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#2. Atlantis Aquaventure – If you’ve bought a day pass into Atlantis, it includes admission into the waterpark called Aquaventure. It includes over 8 slides, one ending in a tunnel in the middle of a shark tank. It’s quite a lot of fun and not a lot of wait time when you’re coming from New York, where a wait for a water ride at Splish Splash can be up to an hour! 

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#3. Lots to explore. Okay, so there aren’t crazy amounts of sculptures or architecture to look at, but inside Atlantis you can take great pictures, and outside of Atlantis, you find this hidden gem called the Cloisters. It’s a nice little area, giving you a feel of Europe while making you panic for a few seconds as there are several signs that says “Private Property: Do not trespass.”  But who listens to that anyway?  : )  If reviewers on TripAdvisor say it’s okay, then it’s okay!  Just do it! ::insert Nike check logo::

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#4. The Beach! How can you not get into the famous clear blue waters of the Caribbean? Granted, I don’t quite remember the water being so blue half an hour away in Miami, but I guess this is part of the Caribbean for a good reason! While you’re on the beach tanning or swimming, get a nice coconut drink filled with pina colada from the locals. I got nervous at first but whew, it was tasty.

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#5. Bahamian Food.  If you’re inside Atlantis, you’ll hear tons of complaints about how expensive it is (because if I were paying $96 for a breakfast buffet for two, I’d be crying too). When you step outside, you have all the options of local food that gives you a great taste of the island. I didn’t take too many photos but here were a few of my favorites: 

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Fried Conch Fritters from Bihini Road. Not too much conch inside but just enough, and it was quite filling – extra tasty with lemon and spicy mayo.

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Lobster roll from Lukka Kairi, downtown Nassau. I found this really unique because of the pickled goat peppers, the island’s most spiciest peppers. There were also crispy shallots on top of the chilled lobster salad. 

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Also from Lukka Kairi is the tropical conch salad.  It’s like a ceviche – a bowl filled with tropical fruits, conch, citrus, and crispy plantains. It was extremely refreshing, and that chewiness from the conch – ahhh! 

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I saw this Bahamian chicken souse in a magazine and wanted to try it at a local spot – Viola’s Bar and Grill. It’s basically a chicken broth soup with potatoes and chicken, but the interesting taste comes from those black things called spice balls.  Not many places offered this though.

And so, we conclude our trip to the Bahamas.  Did I miss something that I should return to? Besides the Pig Island and Exuma itself, because I will be back for those islands!  For now, thanks for reading! The stingray and I say “See yuh later, mon!”

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