As anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, I just returned to New York from a long weekend in Las Vegas. I was there mostly to work, but also squeezed in some fun and lounging by the pool. On Sunday night, I also had the chance to check out the Neon Museum Las Vegas, where they store and restore old casino neon signage dating back to the 1930s. The non-profit organization hosts guided, hour-long tours throughout the day and night for visitors to see and marvel at Las Vegas’s crazy history. The whole experience was great, really interested, and extremely photogenic. Check out the photos I snapped below. If you’re ever in Vegas (and want to take a break from drinking) go check this place out.
Since I was young, I’ve always loved to read. There is nothing better than cracking open a new book and immersing yourself in a totally new world – especially when that world is New York City. Recently, I’ve been on a big kick of reading books based in the big apple – I love seeing how authors transcend time, social class, and normality to transform New York into an entirely new place – or at least one that I’ve never personally experience despite living here. Check out my pick for the best books based in New York.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
This book is one of my favorites. An interwoven tale of various character in New York as they live their lives, age, experience joy and sorrow and rock and roll culture. A Pulitzer prize winner, this book is so good that a stranger stopped me on the subway while I was reading it to talk about how awesome it is. Read it.
Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
A (mostly) true tale of 1950s socialites in New York City. The deep friendship shared by author Truman Capote and style icon Babe Paley. A true tale of deception, wealth and betrayal, this insight into the New York City social scene of the past is both comedic and eye-opening.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I will never forget reading this book in 9th grade. The tale of a second-generation Irish girl named Francie inspired my middle-school aged self with her tale of perseverance, generosity and idealism. A classic that’s definitely worth a read.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This one obviously was going to make the list. And though technically most of the book takes place just outside of the city, it was too iconic to be left off of the list. This is one of my personal favorite stories – tackling everything from class, the American Dream and the opulence of the Jazz Age, there’s a reason this novel is a great American class. And if you haven’t seen the Baz Luhrmann movie, check it out.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer
A moving story of a boy who lost his father on 9/11, I couldn’t put this book down. After finding a key that belonged to his father, Oskar travels around New York City trying to uncover the secret his father wasn’t able to tell him.
I love to cook and bake – and while I’m not a huge natural in the kitchen when it comes to cooking, I still love trying new recipes. So for Christmas last year, my roommate Kate got me a gift voucher to a NYC spot called TasteBuds Kitchen. They have several adult BYOB cooking classes ranging from pizza to sushi making. The last few months have been a little hectic, so I hadn’t had a chance yet to use the credit. But last week a few of my friends all got together and went to TasteBuds Kitchen for an evening of wine drinking and pasta making.
The kitchen space is located in an unassuming office building in the NoMad neighborhood, a short walk from my office. After scoping out the liquor store conveniently located on the corner, we headed upstairs for the class. The kitchen space is light and airy, with colorful tiles and accents throughout. There were six tables, each with spots for four people. They let our group of 5 squeeze on to one table that included a mixer, a hot plate and ample space for pasta making (obviously).
The first step, after washing our hands and pouring some wine, was to make the pasta dough. For each part of the course, the whole group comes together for instruction from the chef/teacher, watches, and then returns to their stations to imitate what they’ve just seen. After whisking together the pre-measured ingredients and kneading our pasta dough, it was magically whisked away by an employee to be refrigerated while we made our ravioli filling and tomato sauce.
After making the butternut squash ravioli filling (and sampling some of it, while we were at it) we started on the tomato sauce. This sauce was absolutely amazing and super easy to make – there were only 5 or 6 ingredients. Definitely going this route from now on, as opposed to store-bought tomato sauce. Once the sauce was simmering and the filling finished, we headed back to the instructor’s work area to learn how to roll out the pasta.
Each station was supplied with a Kitchen Aid mixer with a pasta roller attachment, making life much easier. After getting the dough all cut and ready, it was time to turn half into fettucini and the other half into raviolis. Rolling out the dough was definitely one of the best parts – as it gets thinner and longer, it takes two sets of hands to handle it. Once the fettucini dough was all rolled out, we took it to pasta drying racks and set in on the ravioli. For the ravioli, that pasta is rolled out the same way. This time, instead of taking it to dry, we filled the center of the long piece of pasta with the filling, fold it over, and cut it with a fancy pasta roller. Voliá, homemade ravioli.
Once all of the groups had finished making their pasta, it was all boiled together in large pots by the instructors and served family style. Each station had their own tomato sauce and cheese, and once everyone had an initial serving, unlimited seconds were allowed. Bonus about fresh pasta: it was surprisingly filling – after only two small portions, I was pretty stuffed (though this didn’t keep me from eating more…oops).
Though a little pricey at $75 per class, I had an amazing time with my friends, enjoyed a fun meal, and got to enjoy a lot of wine, all while learning to make a classic staple. The kitchen also hosts private cooking classes, corporate events, bachelorette parties and birthday parties for kids. Check out their list of classes here and don’t hesitate to book a class – I can’t recommend TasteBuds Kitchen highly enough!
Spring is here, and so are some of the best events New York has to offer – April is full of them. Get out and about in the (finally) nice weather and take in all of the best New York has to offer up this month.
Many parks around the city host Earth Day celebrations – check out Union Square or Prospect Park to learn more about Earth Day, interact with some animals, or recycle old clothes and textiles. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, sign up for the Earth Day 5K Tour that helps fun environmental education while taking participants around to the coolest green city sites. Check out The Earth Day Initiative for more info, and for specific information about parks near you.
This annual event was created in 2002 by founders Jane Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro and Craig Hatkoff. Since then, it’s become an annual spring staple for New York, and has expanded across Manhattan to accommodate the large number of screenings. Single tickets went on sale yesterday – score yours here.
Whitney Museum of American Art – or just The Whitney, as most people know to it – has been on my list of places to hit for months now. Because of a partnership with my company, I get into the museum for free so I didn’t even have a good excuse not to go. The museum took over a new space in the West Village overlooking the Hudson River last May, so it was definitely a spot I needed to hit up.
I went on a Saturday, so the line to get in in was literally down the block – not an ideal scenario considering it was 35 degrees, but it moved quickly. After getting our tickets, we took to the directory to see which exhibits to hit first. One floor of the museum was closed during my visit because it was between exhibitions. Several of the floors are filled with mostly offices and classrooms, so you basically have to start on the 5th floor. I was a little surprised by this, because well, there wasn’t that much art. The 7th floor was the main section featuring the paintings, but otherwise the space was a little sparse. The museum itself is sort of a piece of art, which I appreciated, but actual paintings and sculptures were a little lacking.
The entire 5th floor is an open exhibit space – a collection of artists has been asked to take over the “Open Plan” and transform it for a given time period. When I visited, the expansive room was empty, but piped with ambient noises. Interesting, but a little off-kilter for what I consider art. The space itself though is visually amazing, with floor-to-ceiling windows at each end, and ceilings easily 20 feet high.
My favorite part about the museum is the indoor-outdoor component. Almost every floor has a balcony, sculptures are included outdoors, and the views of the city are amazing. I was there on an exceptionally clear day, and you can see for miles around. It was pretty stunning and, in my opinion, overshadowed a lot of the art.
But, to each his own – check it out for yourself and decide. The museum is open 10:30am until 6:00pm Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and open 10:30am until 10:00pm on Friday and Saturday, but closed Tuesday. Regular tickets are $22, but if any of the exhibits are closed like when I visited, admission is knocked to $16.
Visiting a new city can be overwhelming. Whether you’re a new resident or simply on vacation, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to make your time in New York even easier, and better – straight from the mouth of a New Yorker.
1. Don’t waste your money on cabs
While cabs sometimes are the easiest option, more often than not, they’re slower and way more expensive than the subway. The NYC subway can get you pretty much anywhere you need to go in any of the boroughs, and it’s only $2.75 per ride, no matter how far you’re traveling. While sometimes the convenience of a cab outweighs the cost, taking cab after cab will quickly eat up your spending money! Download the HopStop or GoogleMaps app to your smartphone to help you easily navigate the routes.
2. Pick up a copy of Time Out
Time Out is my Bible. Each week, the release a ~free~ magazine that includes features on local restaurants, articles about upcoming events and event straight up listed schedules of stuff happening around town that week. It’s the best way to find free events and activities, along with museum exhibits, concerts and anything in between. Their website is also a great resource for neighborhood guides, restaurant reviews and listicles of pretty much anything New York-related.
3. Don’t avoid the museums because of price
I know it can get pricey visiting museum after museum with the high entrance fees. Insider tip: at most of the museums in New York, the entrance fee is a “suggested donation.” I once saw a person pay one penny to get into the Guggenheim. And while I wouldn’t recommend only dropping a penny per visit, if you’re struggling to scrape together the cash to visit spots like The Met and MoMa, you can skim a little off the top of the price.
4. Free public bathrooms are your best friend
The worst part about New York City is that you always have to use the bathroom when there isn’t one – I’ve been there many times. Here’s a hint: Almost all Starbucks have free bathroom access (though I usually at least try to buy something, but you don’t have to.) There are many other spots you can hit if you need to – most larger parks have public restrooms like Central Park and Bryant Park. The Apple Store, book stores like Barnes & Noble, and hotel lobbies are also usually a safe bet if you’re getting desperate.
5. Always make reservations – Always!
There are over 8 million people in New York City – and I can guarantee that on most given nights, the a LOT of New Yorkers aren’t cooking. (Okay, I can’t actually guarantee this, but from my experience it’s usually true). With tiny apartments and even tinier kitchens, cooking in NYC can be a huge hassle. But lucky for us, there are thousands of great restaurants right outside our doors.
Unfortunately, that’s unlucky for you if you’re visiting town. If you have your eye on a restaurant that you know you have to hit while you’re here, be sure to make a reservation. There’s nothing sadder than showing up to that spot you’ve been eyeing on Instagram for months to find out that the dinner wait is 2 hours. OpenTable is your new best friend.
6. Don’t wear new shoes
This one seems pretty obvious. But, even as a New Yorker I’ve given in to the temptation to wear the cute shoes over the comfortable shoes for a day of walking. And boy, have I regretted it. NYC is the city of steps – we walk everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. My daily step count (thanks, iPhone) usually tops out near 8,000. And that’s on a regular day in the office. So for a day of touristing, you’re going to exceed that and you don’t want to do it with blisters. Trust me.
7. Expand your horizons
A lot of people forget that New York exists outside of Manhattan. Some of the other boroughs are hiding amazing gems. Check out other amazing areas the greater NYC area has to offer like Flushing, Queens for amazing Chinese food or Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for a true Italian experience. Of course, Brooklyn has countless attractions – the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Smorgasburg, the Brooklyn Bridge. Adventure outside of Manhattan to get the true, all-encompassing New York experience.
Do you have any advice for people planning trips to the Big Apple? Post it in the comments below!
This post contains affiliate links – if you click or make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small amount of the profit.
Today, The Naturalized New Yorker turns 1! Thank you to everyone who has ever read the blog, went with me on an adventure or just put up with me talking about it. I can’t express how much I appreciate all of the support and kind words from friends, other bloggers, and strangers who have visited the blog and left comments, like a photo on Instagram or even just skimmed the homepage. Without all of the love and encouragement, I’m not sure this blog would have lasted this long. Here’s to another year exploring all that New York City has to offer – I hope it will be even better than the last!
A few weeks ago, Warby Parker reached out to me asking if I’d take a look at their Spring 2016 Optical and Sun collection. Warby Parker was started in NYC, it’s name was created at the New York Public Library, and stylish New Yorkers all seem to be major fans of their specs. Since I actually already own a pair of their glasses (that I love!) and live a few blocks from one of their brick-and-mortar locations, it seemed like the perfect fit for my first collaborative post!
The first wave of the Spring 2016 collection was inspired by the circus – bright colors, whimsical combos and fun-loving. Some of the frames were existing styles that they’ve revisited in new colors, while other styles are brand-spanking-new. My personal favorites are the Haskell Crystal frame, which features a colored inner rim – quirky and cool without trying too hard. All of the new frames (and most of the old styles) are $95. A complete steal for glasses and it makes to possible to even have more than one pair (four-eyes rejoice!).
In addition to these fun frames, there’s also another new kid on the block: the Windsor Spring Collection. They’re kind of hipster-meets-grandpa chic and I’m into it. The colorful rims are simple but eye-catching and are a perfect pop of color for spring.
Also new this spring are the limited-edition “16” sunglass frames. These frames were completely overhauled and reshaped for a more graphic, striking look. The Sun Collective took the 6 top-selling frames and transformed them into pretty much the chicest sunglasses ever and again – only $95/pair. Perfect for those (like myself) who have a tendency to lose/sit on/break several pairs of sunnies per summer. Plus, for every pair purchased, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need. Looking good and doing good.
To see for myself these brand new styles, I decided to try the Warby Park Try-On system. The set-up is so easy and perfect for busy New Yorkers who don’t have a spare minute to do anything, let alone shop for new glasses. You simply log on to their website, pick out 5 frames and within a few days they’re shipped right to your door! You can try them on in the comfort of your own home, take pictures, and think on it for up to 5 days before returning the frames with a prepaid shipping label.
The box has a ton of personality, and is easy to open (don’t underestimate the good-ness of this factor). Each pair of glasses is individually wrapped and just waiting for your to try them on and get a feel for the frame. Some of these styles DEFINITELY were not right for my face, but luckily no one had to even see me in them. I took some snapshots of the frames I liked, and within an hour had decided which frames I was into and which were not for me.
I’m not going to lie – my Warby Parker glasses that I already own are still definitely my favorite. I don’t wear my glasses too often, but when I wear these bad boys I get a TON of compliments (maybe this is a sign I should wear them more often…). I went to the 82nd and Lexington store location to purchase my glasses, but had I known this home try-on thing existed, I may not have even bothered with the 7 block walk. That’s how easy this was. I’m telling you, if you’re in the market for some new specs, this is the way to go. Check out all of Warby Parker’s frames here, and find the styles (new or old!) perfect for you!
This post contains affiliate links – if you click on one of the links, I may receive a small amount of compensation.
Happy March, New Yorkers! It’s finally feeling more like spring thanks to the amazing warm weather the past few days. Prep and get ready for all of the fun events this month has in store – Spring has sprung!
The Orchid Show: New York Botanic Gardens
February 27-April 17
The theme of this year’s event is “Orchidelirium,” exploring the risks and adventures of explores who voyaged to far-flung locales in search of rare and exquisite breeds of these beautiful flowers. On both weekdays and weekends, adult tickets are $20, but NYC residents can score $13 tickets to the grounds. The cheaper ticket, however, won’t get you into special exhibitions, so pick wisely.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The famous New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at 11am on this Irish holiday. The parade, which runs down 5th Avenue from 44th St. uptown to 79th St. The 45 block trek takes roughly 5.5 hours, ending around 4:30pm. Partiers, beware: drinking is strictly prohibited, and anyone displaying “excessive public drunkenness” will be removed.
The Met Breuer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is expanding. The Met is taking over the former home of the Whitney Museum on the Upper East Side – The Met Breuer will house a range of performances and exhibitions in the bold building on the corner of 75th and Madison.
Macy’s Flower Show
March 20-April 3
This annual display is a can’t-miss. Millions of flowers take over the world’s largest Macy’s, covering every nook and cranny. I attended last year and was totally blown away. Don’t miss this year’s floral extravaganza.
Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival
Dig out your Sunday best and your fanciest hat, and head to Fifth Avenue to celebrate Easter how only New Yorkers can. Each year, continuing a tradition that began in the 1800s, people don crazy toppers for the parade that runs down Fifth beginning at 10am and running through late afternoon.
A few weeks ago, Bailey of Jailey Bean nominated me for the Liebster Award! I am so unbelievably flattered and excited – it’s nice to know that other people out there actually read my blog, and think it is good enough be nominated for anything!
The Liebster Award is an online award passed from blogger to blogger, with people nominating fellow bloggers who have a smaller following. It helps build community, recognition for new bloggers and helps readers to discover new bloggers. Once nominated, you list 11 facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions posed by the blogger who nominated you.
So here we go!
Facts about myself:
- For a few months one summer I worked at Starbucks – I’m a certified barista!
- During college, I studied abroad for one semester in London and would love to go back.
- I’m left-handed.
- I was born on October 29th, so I love anything and everything about Halloween.
- My mom and I have matching tattoos – the coordinates of Pittsburgh, where we were both born and raised. Mine is on my right foot, her’s on her ankle.
- I am a member of a weekly corn hole league here in NYC.
- During college, I was a member of a sorority and still remain active in the New York City alumni group.
- I am slowly trying to learn calligraphy.
- I was a vegetarian for about 3 years, and still rarely eat red meat.
- I am one of two children – I have one younger brother
- I love to bake and am constantly trying new cookie recipes.
- Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog as a way to continue my writing after college. I studied journalism, so was constantly writing in college for classes and internships, and didn’t have as much to write about once I moved to New York. But as I was exploring the city and learning about all of these amazing new places, event and opportunities, I decided to compile all of my thoughts, photographs and discoveries in one place – and The Naturalized New Yorker was born!
- If you could visit any city in the world, what city would it be & why?
I’m been overcome by wanderlust lately, so this is a tough question. I’d have to say that I would head to Hungary. Budapest has been on my list for a while now, and I’m itching to travel somewhere a little outside of Europe
- What is your dream job?
I’m not sure, exactly. I love the write, and I get to write daily at my job now, which I love. I wish there was a way I could incorporate editorial and copywriting all into one, and do that for a living, in-house, for a brand and not an agency. I’m not sure if this type of writing/copywriting exists, but if it does that would be it.
- Where do you foresee your blog a year from now?
I’ve really made an effort recently to expand the blog content – I fell off of the wagon for a bit over the summer after moving and starting a new job. I’m hoping to continue posting more frequently and include more varied coverage on The Naturalized New Yorker. And hopefully a few sponsored posts and collaborations coming soon – there are even a few currently in the works! (Stay tuned)
- Who is your favorite artist/band?
I know this is a cop out, but I don’t really have one favorite band. I love most genres of music, except for house music and EDM. If I had to pick, I’d say my favorite is indie/folk-ish rock music – think Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers, Bon Iver, etc.
- If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what food would you choose?
- What is your favorite post that you have written? (Include the link, too!)
I think my favorite so far was attending the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival. The setting is amazing and the flowers were stunning. Plus, who doesn’t love New York in the springtime?
Read it here.
- How did you decide on your blog’s name?
I mentioned to my roommate that I wanted to start a blog focused around my adventures in New York and learning new things about the city. Naturally (no pun intended) New York had to be incorporated into the name somehow. From there, the name just came to me.
- How do you like to spend your spare time?
A lot of my spare time is spent on this blog! I work full time, writing the posts, editing photos and even going to actual events and restaurants often take up my weekend and evenings. A lot of the time, the places I write about I would visit anyway with friends, but it’s nice to have a reason to attend new and exciting places around the city.
- What is your favorite quote & why?
I think my favorite saying would be “Good things come to those who hustle.” It reminds me that you have to work hard for anything you want – you can’t just wait for someone to hand it to you.
- What advice would you give to beginner bloggers?
My best piece of advice would be to stick with it! Sometimes it can be discouraging when no one reads your blog and you’re not getting the traction you’re after. But consistent material, quality photos and writing and social media promotion can go a long way towards building a follower base. Don’t give up!
After looking at many blogs and falling deep into the internet rabbit-hole, I’ve chosen to nominate the below bloggers for the Liebster Award:
- The Curious Button
Elena’s blog is beautifully laid out and focuses on ethically conscious lifestyle products – she has a ton of easy tips to be more environmentally friendly. Plus, her Instagram feed is great – check it out here.
Laurie’s blog has amazing tips for saving and making money! Plus, the site itself is simply and beautifully organized. Take a look!
- The Cats and Coffee
Hannah’s site features a little bit of everything – book reviews, blogging tips, and adorable photos of her cat!
- Evanescent Escape
With everything from beauty review to blogging tips, Evanescent Escape has a ton of useful content, plus a beautiful layout.
- Glow and Polish
The food photography on this blog is to die for! Glow and Polish features eye-catching colors, elegant composition and well-written content.
- Closet Full of Cocktails
Chelsea’s blog is so aesthetically pleasing – she uses a clean, easy-to-navigate layout and large colorful photograhs.
- Miss Olivia Says
Olivia’s blog is a wonderful combination of fashion, food and lifestyle. I love her personal style!
- XO Beverly
Beverly’s site has wonderful photography, and love her sense of style! Check out the newest, monochromatic blue post – so chic!
Here are my 11 questions for the bloggers I have nominated:
- Why did you start blogging?
- Where do you see your blog a year from now? What do you want to accomplish?
- What big-name bloggers you idolize or look to for inspiration?
- Where is your favorite city/place?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- What is your dream job?
- If you could invite three people – alive or dead – to dinner, who would they be?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
- If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
- What is your favorite emoji?