A Stroll Down Bagel Row: First Avenue between 15th to 20th Street

There’s nothing like a good New York bagel. It’s so fresh that it doesn’t need to be toasted. Fun fact: It was commonly believed that the area’s water made the perfect bagel, but that’s a myth. It’s the technique that involves fermenting and flash boiling before baking the dough. I recently spent a few fulfilling, filling mornings comparing and contrasting the top bagel spots on First Avenue between 15th to 20th Streets. Read on at your own risk of carb-loading:
  • Tal Bagels: The most efficient. Self-service coffee. Quick bagel preparation. Not too fluffy, not too flat. Recommended – decadent lox spread with huge chunks of lox.
T
  • Ess-a-Bagel: The 90-inch TV of bagels. Great for sharing or pigging out. Recommended – smoked whitefish salad.
Ess
  • David’s Bagels: Fantastically fluffy. Recommended – egg and cheese.
David

Gramercy Guide 2017

I recently moved to an apartment in Gramercy, a part of New York City known for its iconic park and residential buildings. The word Gramercy is derived from the French term “grand merci” or “big thanks.” Today, I give many thanks to those who run the impressive restaurants in the area.

When I joined the neighborhood, I knew that I would savor many meals, drinks and live music sets at Maialino and Rose Bar. Aside from my favorites at the Gramercy Park Hotel, I had much to explore.

This guide includes the places that I have enjoyed so far. If you find yourself hungry while east of Madison Avenue, between 14th to 23rd Streets, try one of these spots that made my list:

  • Cosme: Get their unique dishes, the uni tostada and corn husk meringue dessert. The duck carnitas – a signature course - cocktails, raw fish and lobster are also delightful. Ordering guacamole is frowned upon.

Cosme

  • TsuruTonTan: Why have just caviar or just uni on your fresh noodles, when you can have both? The epitome of too much goodness. Spicy tuna cones are tasty and also adorable. The Dassai 50 sake is sweet and balanced.

Tsu

  • Casa Mono: Michelin-star-awarded tapas served in a cozy joint. I recommend the razor clams and foie gras. Grab an after-dinner cocktail at the cozy, upscale Dear Irving across the street.

2nd Casa

  • Javelina: You won’t need to eat for a week after a meal at this Tex-Mex standout. Get the spicier queso, steak fajitas and puffy tacos. All pair well with a fresh margarita!

Jav

  • Lantern: Tasty Thai food. The udon basil noodles are spectacularly spicy.

Lantern

Stay tuned for another post dedicated to bagels and coffee in the area. Au revoir for now.

Spotlight on Sunshine Cinema: Review of Captain Fantastic and Don’t Think Twice

If you know that you like independent films or are open-minded about changing your routine, I highly recommend that you see a flick at Sunshine Cinema, my favorite movie theater in Manhattan. Owned by Landmark Theatres, the largest chain dedicated to independent films, it is located in the East Village on East Houston and Forsyth Street. In addition to showing movies, it hosts special events that you can attend with a ticket purchase. Celebrities and other public figures often make appearances. A few weeks ago, Governor Cuomo attended a Q&A with the director of Newtown, a new documentary about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Recently, I have seen two standout movies – Captain Fantastic and Don’t Think Twice – which are still playing.

Sunshine

The star of Captain Fantastic is Viggo Mortensen, who plays Ben Cash, a father to six children. He denounces societal norms and chooses an alternative lifestyle for his offspring, living isolated in the wilderness where he controls their activities and education, with an extreme emphasis on physical strength and anti-materialism. When the Cash family is forced to re-enter society, the film raises societal issues, including how to raise children: How will I inspire my children to enjoy learning? Will instilling religion teach them moral values? How honest should I be with my kids? The film was serious, but it was also very funny. Without giving too much away, some of the moments that made me laugh out loud involved the kids singing religious prayers to a police officer and the eldest son professing his love for a girl to her mother outside a trailer truck.

Rotten Tomatoes gives Don’t Think Twice a 99 percent rating, so I had no doubt that it would be wildly entertaining. The movie is about an improv group in Manhattan and features several established actors, including Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher. I was most familiar with Jacobs and Micucci, who play love interests on my favorite television shows. Jacobs was Adam’s ex-girlfriend on Girls and Micucci was Raj’s girlfriend on The Big Bang Theory. I was also excited to see that Lena Dunham and Ben Stiller make cameo appearances. The comedians in Don’t Think Twice are close friends, but they are also competitive, as most of them vie for a spot on WEEKEND LIVE, the movie’s equivalent of Saturday Night Live. The story is about the group figuring out what makes them happy and defining who they are as they reach their mid-thirties. The highlights were the many revealing improv skits in which they used acting as an outlet for processing their feelings.

Either Don’t Think Twice or Captain Fantastic are great options for a movie night. You should see them, or another indie film, at the Sunshine Cinema while you can. Unfortunately, according to online research, the theater is in danger of being sold to developers and may face destruction in order to make room for new projects. On the bright side, I also read that its parent company is opening a modern venue featuring “film and luxury” and an open bar in Lincoln Center in the spring of 2017.

Where to Take Your Mom on a Summer Friday

It was a sunny summer Friday, and my mom and I decided to take a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket. Beloved by foodies searching for the freshest ingredients for their next meal, the vendors offer produce and other items straight from local farms.

fruits

The market has something for everyone. The stores sell, among many other products, organic fruits and vegetables, bread straight from the oven and homemade spirits.

veggies

Hot Bread Kitchen has one of the most intriguing booths. This bakery, which has a storefront in Harlem, has a mission beyond baking delicious bread. It is known for creating breads representing various ethnicities. You can purchase challah, tortillas and Moroccan bread at the same location.

hot bread

Hot Bread Kitchen also works with low-income, immigrants and minority individuals with an interest in the food industry. The business teaches them about the culinary business and helps them further their careers.

strawberries

The market offers everything from different varieties of honey that were produced in a small apiary in the Finger Lakes region to small-batch spirits that were developed in an Orange County distillery.

whiskey

The Union Square Greenmarket is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Stop by when you’re preparing your next meal or snack, or are planning for a night of “Netflix and cheese.”

sign

 

Spring, Sacrifice and Sarcasm

I’m training for the MORE/SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon next month. I’m focusing on work with an important client, and I’m trying to stay mentally alert.

As someone who values exploration, indulging, and who suffers from a case of FOMO so severe that I’m certain that I’ve broken the world record for most birthday parties attended in one day (which might have been five), saying no to fun is not easy for me.

I’ll never be on a long-term diet. I don’t do laundry every Saturday morning. I don’t go to sleep or wake up at the same time. Routines bore me. But I know that you need discipline to be successful, and I want to be successful in reaching my goals this spring.

I already train for races. Training and completing races brings me joy. I have one coming up. As I started prepping for it, I felt the desire to do what enlightened women do – teach myself a lesson.

I decided that I would not drink a sip of alcohol for two months. I don’t drink a lot these days, anyway, but it’s always enjoyable to have a cocktail during a social occasion, and I knew it would be hard to turn down. It would be difficult, but achievable.

I’ve been on track for two weeks, and it’s going well. It’s kind of like lent, but a little longer and with a touch of Jewish neuroticism. What if this doesn’t work? What will my friends think of me? What if I eat more bagels to overcompensate for not drinking wine?

I already went down a jeans size. I wore something fashion-forward the other day, and a friend compared me to Carrie Bradshaw! I’m convinced that I owe the compliment to this new energy I’m radiating as a result of my personal experiment, which I’ll call PE because it’s easier to say, and an abbreviation makes it sound official.

To kick off PE, I chose to entertain myself by reading Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl,” a book about her life and perspectives. She covers a lot from love to body image to family to awkwardness to death.

Not That Kind of Girl

I enjoyed it and was pleased to learn that we share common interests, such as napping, talking to strangers and trying to figure people out. I love her honesty. I love her HBO show, “Girls.” I love the way she writes, with the meticulousness of someone performing bypass surgery and the coolness of a former international DJ who gave up that lifestyle to have more “balance” and opened a yoga studio.

In her book, she compiles lists that never failed to make me laugh out loud, such as “13 Things I’ve Learned Are Not Okay to Say to Friends,” which includes “She’s chubby in a different way than we are” and, “Come on, please let me pay for lunch. You don’t have a job!”

When I told people about my PE, I received a ton of hilarious responses, which I’ve attempted to compile into a Dunhamian-style list. Here it goes:

8 Things Your Friends Say When You Tell Them You’re Not Drinking For 2 Months

  1. “Wait. Just not on the weekdays, right?”
  2. “Giving up food or sleep sounds easier.”
  3. “What? Why?”
  4. “You mean, you’re just not drinking hard liquor?”
  5. “How are you going to interact with other people?”
  6. “I tried that once. It lasted for a few days.”
  7. “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”
  8. “See you May 1st.”

First Date? Look Great!

My friend Haylee asked me to do her makeup for a first date. The pressure was on because the date was scheduled for Valentine’s Day weekend. First impressions are important, so here are some tips that will help you “put your best face forward”:

Less is More, Kind Of: While men say they don’t like makeup, when asked to identify the most attractive faces in photos, they will always pick those of women wearing makeup. What they mean is that they don’t like it when you cake on products or wear overly bright eyeliners, shadows and lipsticks.

Play Up Your Eyes: This is where your date will be looking when he’s not admiring your other assets. Let your eyes flirt for you by achieving the perfect smoky eye. Invest in a good blender brush.

Don’t Forget Your Lips: Be kissable! My friend happened to be wearing all black, so I wanted her lips to stand out. Black can make you look intimidating. A touch of color will make you appear more approachable. I mixed the tiniest bit of red matte lipstick and a nude gloss. Use a hydrating balm before applying your gloss and/or lipstick for smoother lips.

Get the Glow: Moisturize, conceal, bronze and blush. Use a high definition powder over your foundation to soften fine lines and imperfections.

Haylee looks amazing, and so will you!

Hay

New Year, New Look Using Pantone’s Colors of 2016

The beginning of a year is the perfect time to try something new. For me, it was experimenting with different makeup colors. I decided to put together a look using Pantone’s colors of 2016. Pantone is the company that standardizes colors for manufacturers and retailers around the world.

This year’s colors are a pink and blue, Rose Quartz and Serenity. “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” according to the Pantone Color Institute.

The final result:

looking at cameralooking down

A lot of my friends are terrified of using colors when applying makeup. They stick to browns and nudes because they worry that any other color would make them look like clowns. This just isn’t true. There are ways to work in colors to accentuate your features in a subtle way, as I do using pinks and blues with this example. Here’s how it’s done…

I used my go-to products for my face. This includes moisturizer, foundation, eyebrow pencil, bronzer and blush. I used the colors to play up my eyes and lips.

Directions for eyes:

  • Line with black eyeliner. I used a pencil for the inside and a liquid liner on top. Remember to line your eyes on the bottom closer to the lash line (not closer to the inside by your eyeballs) to make your eyes look larger.
  • Apply a creamy neutral all over your base, up to your eyebrows. I used the color in the bottom-left corner on the palette below.
  • Use the Rose Quartz pink just on the eyelid. I used the color second from the top, second from the right on the palette below. I wanted to play up the pink a little bit more, so added some of the color directly below this.
  • Use the Serenity blue on the crease and outside side of your lids. I used the color second from the top, second from the left on the palette below.
  • Use a flat brush to go over your eyeliner on the top and bottom with a complementary blue. I used the color second from the bottom, third from the left on the palette below.
  • Finish up with an eyelash curler and mascara.
  • Pro tip: As you’re working with your eye makeup, hold a tissue underneath your eye. This will prevent the shadow from getting beneath your eye when you’re using colors that can get messy.

shadows

Directions for lips:

  • I chose to also utilize the Rose Quartz on my lips.
  • Apply something to hydrate your lips. I always do this when I’m using colors. This helps them blend better. With this example, I used MAC Prep + Prime Lip.
  • Apply colored lip balm. I used Revlon Matte Balm in Elusive.
  • Lastly, top with pink gloss. I used Stilla Lip Glaze.

lips

The beauty of Pantone’s color selections for this year is that they are flattering for all eye colors. For brown, green or hazel eyes like mine, use primarily Rose Quartz with a touch of Serenity. For blue eyes, do the opposite.

 

Love for Marketing and Dogs Breeds Pet Fashion Company

Owning a dog is more fun than ever, now that there are more options to pamper your favorite furry friend. Pet owners will spend over $60 billion on care, services and toys by the end of 2015. This figure is up 25 percent from five years ago. Wagdrobe, which was conceptualized a year ago, is a fashion company fulfilling an unmet need in this space. The company curates apparel and accessories customized for your pet.

Other Dog

Image courtesy of Wagdrobe

Two Millennials who worked in advertising technology on a small marketing team bonded over love for their own dogs and style. They collaborated using their marketing prowess to create Wagdrobe. You can go to Wagdrobe.com, select the outfit category and package, provide details about your pet, and your “wagdrobe” will arrive in within two weeks. The most popular boxes right now are the “Hipster Hound” and “Warm and Trendy” ($25-50).

Hipster Hound

Image courtesy of Wagdrobe

“Our pet stylists keep track of everything they send to each customer in our system to ensure that she or he won’t receive the same outfit or accessories twice, even when reordering the same style,” says Erica Feld, Wagdrobe co-founder. Inspiration for the outfits includes everyday fashion on the streets of Manhattan and top designers like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs.

You can also send Wagdrobe as a gift, either by choosing a box or purchasing a gift certificate for the service.

Look Cool with Look Human

I was browsing my Facebook feed when I came across a post from a friend saying that she “may have gone a little overboard” on the Look Human website. The image she shared pictured assorted tank tops with sassy phrases like “Trick or Treat Yo Self,” “Thick Thighs Save Lives” and “On Wednesdays, We Lift.” Instantly amused, I clicked through to the website to discover hundreds of tees, tanks, sweatshirts, phone cases, mugs and tote bags, all fun and culturally relevant.

Look Human describes itself as an online store for “individuals who refuse to be tamed.” This is a resource for those of us who become excited by the thought of wearing a meme or funny statement and laughing at others, or even ourselves. The pieces can serve as a conversation starter.

The site offers the same item in a variety of colors, styles and sizes ranging from extra small to extra large. Most options are under $35. This may appeal to:

  1. The person who wants to be festive on Halloween without wearing a costume.

witch

Image source

  1. The politically-inclined.

Bern

 Image source

  1. The bookworm.

wizard

 Image source

  1. The girl who likes to indulge.

nothing tastes

 Image source

  1. The girl who knows what she wants.

 feed me Image source

 

Too Much Love for Pixar’s New Movie, Inside Out

If you were a child or parent in the 90s, you remember Pixar’s debut animated feature film Toy Story and its heroes Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Since the hit came out in 1995, the motion picture studio has continued to release blockbuster movies that appeal to children and adults. Grownups revel in uncovering the moral of the story and educate their little ones. Kids are drawn to the characters and visual effects. In theaters now, Inside Out evaluates emotions and their impact on development through the story of a girl who is forced to move when her father explores a new venture. Riley has trouble adjusting to her new home.

Inside Out is delightfully creative and complex, as it constructs a world in which minds are controlled by characters representing emotions. This movie is a must-see for everyone, especially those who have or love children or are interested in psychology. I was so moved that I cried beneath my 3D glasses within the first five minutes. After reading a few reviews, I learned that others had the same reaction.

I also learned that director Pete Docter explored this topic in an effort to understand how his daughter’s emotions changed drastically when she turned 11, the same age as Riley. His personal experience attempting to figure out his own daughter makes the events relatable and heartwarming.

 Coffee

The characters that manipulate Riley’s headquarters are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black) and Fear (Bill Hader). Joy is the dominant emotion and directs the others as they work the control board. Riley’s mind develops “islands” that are dedicated to aspects of her life that she values most. This includes family, friendship, honesty, hockey and being a goofball. Core memories are depicted as glass balls that hold significant memories that are tied to emotion. Old memories that aren’t revisited are sucked out by the “memory control” team. In the story, we meet Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend. We enter Riley’s imagination land with life-size French fries, her dream factory that resembles the set of a movie filming and the subterranean subconscious, where Riley’s darkest fears are housed.

Inside Out is entertaining because it’s imaginative, but what separates it from similar movies is its insight into Riley’s journey through the lens of a parent. It’s tough to watch without empathizing with Riley as she experiences a full range of emotions, including ones tied to the main characters, jealousy when her pal meets a new friend, embarrassment when she cries in front of her class and the love she feels for her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan).

Docter draws many smart conclusions about development, namely, that it’s okay to let go of certain memories as you grow, new situations can force introspection and that sadness serves a critical role because it makes you appreciate joy and can result in positive outcomes, like receiving support from loved ones and motivating you to improve yourself. If you haven’t already, see Inside Out, and prepare to form new long-term memories that make you think.