High rent, high transport fees, high grocery bills, and way too highly priced cocktails are what you expect and undoubtedly encounter in the city that never sleeps. But despite the ever-climbing prices and cost of living, there is something the city offers often for free if you actively seek it out, and that’s culture!
Last weekend we went to the Lincoln Center Campus for an amazing day of free performances. Lincoln Center hosted a ‘block party’ to celebrate their the 60th Anniversary; it was fabulous.
It made for such a lovely weekend activity and at no cost (I really mean no cost, we even resisted the gelato stand!). From the morning to the afternoon we enjoyed multiple groups and solo artists who were stunningly talented and beautifully engaged with the diverse audience, which ranged from young to old, families to singletons.
From opera, to a 30-piece band, to a wind quartet were some of what we got to enjoy and engage with on a rainy Saturday. It was perfect.
Even some of the pricier Broadway shows can be seen for a lot less if you’re willing to explore the different ways of getting tickets. There are so many programs available if you take the time to do a little digging. I recently got to enjoy the some of the best dancing I’ve ever seen in a musical theatre production. Kiss Me, Kate at the Roundabout was absolutely fantastic! I truly could have watched the second act opening number of ‘Too, Darn Hot’ over and over – the precision, athletiscm, and stamina of the dancers were jaw-droppingly incredible. At the climax of the number, everyone around us seemed to be buzzing with the same energy that was coming from the stage.
As much as I wanted to see Kiss Me, Kate, I was skeptical that I’d get the chance. Broadway shows are notoriously expensive, and it would be quite a sacrifice to buy two full priced Broadway tickets.
I poked around Roundabout’s website and found the “Hip Tix” membership page. It was the perfect program – totally free to join, and if you’re between 18 and 35, you can get two tickets for $25 each, no matter the age of your ticket companion! There seemed like there had to be some kind of catch, and I was waiting to be denied my tickets at Will Call due to missing one part of the fine print. But as I approached the Box Office window, I was greeted by a smiling worker who graciously handed me our tickets.
I’m learning that the trick is to not be frustrated by the high prices, but to explore what a city full of culture and enjoyable activities has to offer. If you can’t beat the system, join it!
Despite the lack of kitchen space in our lovely hobbit hole, we still manage to get creative and enjoy finding and trying new recipes. Right now, it doesn't matter that our shelves are at maximum capacity, and that the top of the fridge, above the cabinets, underneath the bed, and all manner of nooks and crannies have become storage centers for dishware and dry goods. We're learning to live with that, and know that more space will come soon enough. Luckily we are both organized and borderline anal-retentive, so we manage to fit everything into the tiny spaces like a puzzle.
The other night, I made sweet potato and black bean tacos. It was my second time making it, and now I've confirmed that it's a recipe that will be used over and over again. It's easy, it's healthy, it's delicious, and - you get to eat a burrito (or several) for dinner. Could there be any other result besides absolute enjoyment when dinner includes tortillas and guacamole?
A couple weeks ago we were visited by a film crew in our little hobbit hole. No, there was no nearby robbery, neighborhood fire, or transportation delay that needed locals to spew their commentary. The camera crew arrived due to, none other, than my brussels sprouts video!
Earlier last month Misfts had a promotion on Instagram that encouraged customers to share with the company why they subscribed to Ugly Produce. Once you shared your thoughts, you would be placed in a raffle to win a free veggie box. That sounded like a good deal to me, and I hoped my brussels sprouts video would give me an edge in the raffle!
Two or three weeks went by, and I completely forgot about submitting my brussels adventure for the raffle. It was quite a surprise when I opened my inbox and found an email from the Misfits Head of Marketing. She told was going to be featured on a Reuters report, and asked if I would like to be a part of it.
Two days later we had a reporter and cameraman at our door. I think they were slightly taken aback by the size of the tiny home, but we made it work. A lot of footage was taken and many questions were asked for a very short sound byte, but the time spent was fun and interesting. We also ended up getting a free veggie box, as they sent one over for the shoot. I may not have won it in a raffle, but the end result was just the same!
Click the pic to be taken to the report!
As one who lives to eat, I’ve never understood those who eat to live. My relationship with food is a joyous one, and my life is enhanced by experiences at restaurants and family made home-cooked meals that give you both permission and encouragement to take seconds, then thirds.
Despite my love affair with food and my constant thought of ‘when will I eat next?,’ I never felt at home in the kitchen or comfortable doing the cooking myself. It even made me slightly anxious, and often left me paralyzed with visions of smoking pots and fires in the oven, quickly followed by me grabbing my phone to order take out. Suddenly, in the last few months I’ve come around to the idea of experimenting in the kitchen, and I’ve found I really enjoy it! Often when I begin, I have no idea how a recipe will turn out and have many doubts regarding my culinary abilities mid-way through, but most of the time, it actually turns out very delicious.
I’ve been documenting some of my trials (and errors) and wanted to share my adventure in Brussels (spouts) that happened a few weeks ago.
I've since made this recipe again and they came out just as delicious. Even Murat, who swore up and down he'd never eat brussel due to traumatizing childhood memories involving boiling the offensive vegetable, took seconds. High praise indeed!
Do you ever have a moment where you just feel like you truly belong somewhere? Something about a place speaks to you, and makes you feel at “home.” I’ve had that beautiful feeling with Greece each time I have visited, and my love affair with the country just grows exponentially.
Like a siren call, I keep getting pulled back to the country on the sparkling Aegean Sea. Family vacations, a semester aboard, my three years aboard a cruise ship, and soon my own wedding this coming September have ensured I keep returning to this magical and special place.
After seeing it was Greek Independence Day on March 25th, I've been reminiscing all week about my time spent in Greece, and wanted to share ten special and funny memories.
10. My 25th birthday coincidentally falling on the day Seabourn docked in Mykonos. I spent all day exploring each beach and every every nook and cranny of the island on an ATV. It was magic.
9. Being put in a different Mykonos hotel with my fiance on vacation because the hotel we booked wasn’t actually ready for the season yet. At check in, there was a gallant attempt to distract us from this error by the Receptionist's constant promotion of their not one, but TWO shopping boutiques on the hotel premises!
8. Celebrating Greek Easter with my family during my first trip to Greece, and feeling fascinated and familiar with the country all at once.
7. Finding ourselves adrift...Navigating the ferry system in Athens to find a way to Santorini with my best friend. We had booked a flight, but the planes were grounded due to...what else? A strike!
6. Testing out bathrobes at three different hotels with my fiancé while trying to determine where we should have our wedding. By the way, we did not make our decision solely based on this criteria.
5. The many school trips while studying abroad, including a visit to Meteora which ended in us stranded on the mountaintop for hours after the bus broke down!
4. Strolling along the Thessaloniki boardwalk on a nearly daily basis during my semester there.
3. Discovering the port of Spetses with my mom, when she visited me while I worked on Seabourn.
2. Needing to get back the ship when the shuttle bus was nowhere to be found, and hitching a ride on the back of a local Myconian’s trailer.
1. Hiking the caldera in Santorini, then swimming in the Sulphur pools.
Many more memories to come, especially after the very exciting event happens this September! Maybe one day I'll end up running an inn there like Donna in Mamma Mia....here's hoping!
It’s hard to believe, but two years ago, I was moving into my studio and ultimate bachelorette pad in Melbourne.
Some of the happiest memories and most cherished moments of my life happened during my 1-year sabbatical when I quit my job, minimized my belongings, and moved 10,500 miles from home. The land was far and foreign, I didn’t know anyone, and I would be living by myself for essentially the first time. At least I knew the language would be the same (relatively speaking…).
I had sailed through Melbourne several times with my job aboard Seabourn, and felt ‘good vibes’ each time we were in port. I found the food excellent, the people friendly, and the arts scene flourishing. What better time than in my twenties to see what the other side of the world had to offer and find out if the toilets did indeed flush the other way? Moving to Melbourne felt like going into uncharted, land-of-opportunity territory.
The process of finding an apartment in Melbourne was unlike anything I had experienced previously. I thought I could handle a tough real estate market, since I had been savvy enough to find apartments in New York years prior. What I didn’t take into consideration was that despite the competitive New York market, New York realtors have so much product they are always ready to show you what is available. In Melbourne, no realtor wanted, or needed, to personally show me anything. The first time I walked into a real estate office, I felt confident and in control when I asked for someone to meet with me and show me listings around the city that fit my criteria. Instead, I was handed a flyer and told, “the open house hours are listed here.” But that couldn’t be right, I thought. I must have walked into a very odd and incompetent office. So I went to several other real estate offices, but consistently yielded the same result. I realized that Melbourne real estate, whether buying or renting, was an obvious seller’s market.
Viewing an apartment felt a lot like being back at auditions. Swarms of people crowded into the tiny spaces though this time, instead of holding headshots they clutched rental applications. It was a meat market. Each renter was surreptitiously sizing one another up, and working hard to prove they were the worthiest of candidates.
I know that luck had a lot to do with me getting the apartment I wanted. I found one that I absolutely adored but was almost sure that I wouldn’t make the cut. When I arrived at my soon-to-be dream home, I was breathing heavy and red-faced, having rushed over from another open house. I felt sheepish, highly embarrassed, and deflated when I looked around and saw the other apartment viewers sporting well tailored blazers, high end shoes, and perfectly coiffed hair. Nevertheless, I pushed back my shoulders and muscled my way in to the apartment. It was the perfect studio: furnished, in a fantastic neighborhood, tons of sneaky storage, and even had a washer and dryer in the unit. New York definitely didn’t have that in my price range. I submitted my application immediately and personally called the realtor after submission to try and plead my case in hopes she would put in a good word to the landlord. So what did luck have to do with landing this apartment? I was the "chosen candidate" because the landlord was in entertainment, and she saw my website when she received my application. Little would I have guessed maintaining a website long after auditions were over would be so beneficial to me!
Reminiscing a lot on my happy year of growth in land Down Under.
Is it bad that the highlight of my week is Wednesday when the Misfits box arrives?
Since moving back to New York City, my husband and I are on constant lookout for ways to save money, especially considering we are two people living on a single income while trying to maintain a Manhattanite lifestyle. We actively and painstakingly try to maintain a budget, but even limiting going out to eat (one of my favorite past times) and making home cooked meals remains expensive due to grocery stores that suddenly equate cherry tomatoes to gold. We found that just making a conscientious effort to cut back on eating out wasn’t enough. We desperately needed to sort out lowering the grocery bill and found that coupon cutting wasn’t the only way to reduce our spending.
Misfits Market caught my eye due to their heavy social media promotions, and it intrigued me: get a box of local, all organic produce for about half the cost of getting it at Fairway or Whole Foods and have it delivered straight to your door. Sounded a bit too good to be true, and why the lower price? Because Misfits sends us the fruits and vegetables that don’t make the Top 10 in the grocery store pageant. Possibly misshapen, maybe some extra nicks and bruises, and overstock foods were some of what we would find in our box. You also can’t choose what you get! You are at the disposal of the whims of the Misfits box bundlers.
The first box we received was the moment of truth:
After this initial box we decided to continue with our subscription and have been really happy with our boxes (also worth noting we have not had a potato overload again). Getting a surprise every week is fun (I understand some people may have a different interpretation of “fun”), and it’s also forced us to become more adventurous eaters. When shopping at the store you naturally get into a rut and pick out only what you know you like and know how to cook. I’ve suddenly learned so many new recipes and ways of cooking unusual and unique produce since our first trial in January.
I’ll be sharing with you some of the wins (and epic fails) thanks to the boxes in coming weeks. I’d love to know if anyone else has tried out Misfits, or other tips and tricks for staying on budget in the city!
We all have something to say, something to share. An observation (or several) worth telling to as many people who will listen. Today I've realized that I should not be afraid to tell my stories, and continue to deny myself my love of writing for fear of becoming too vulnerable.
I've wrestled with starting a new blog for a long time now, with all the dark and highly effective reasons for not doing one consistently penetrating the forefront of my mind: no one will like it, you'll open yourself to criticism, people will judge you, you're exposing yourself too much, what you have to say doesn't mean anything to anyone.
Maybe all of the above is true. But right now, in this moment, I don't really care anymore. If someone doesn't like what I write, well, that's probably likely, and it's also OK! And as my dear friend and mentor would say to me, "Jac, sometimes you just have to do things for yourself." So that's why I'm here. I'm going to become a better writer by delving in to my present, past, and future, and writing about what I see and find in this beautiful life. The only thing I have to lose is time.
Reflecting on my experiences with the world, my neighborhood, and my home.
Reflecting on my experiences with the world, my neighborhood, and my home.